Chia Obama


My apologies to those who visited The Bread Line earlier today looking for the latest edition of “Thursdays with Chia Obama” — an unexpected, last-minute opportunity kept me occupied for a few hours during the late afternoon/early evening. Regardless, here it is — the sixth installment of “Thursdays with Chia Obama!”

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Soon after last week’s edition of “Thursdays with Chia Obama,” it became apparent that the end was near (for a second time) for Chia Obama. His elongated “hair” was unruly and dying. When I noticed on Monday that Chia Obama now had a spot of moss growing on his head, the time had arrived to scrape his head clean again. And for the time being, that’s how he will stay.

I thought about replanting Chia Obama’s scalp the next day, which happened to be President Obama’s birthday, so it could have fittingly been Chia Obama’s rebirthday. But ultimately I decided to hold off since Chia Obama came with only a few plantings’ worth of seeds, and I want to save some Chia fun for later.

So we said our goodbyes to Chia Obama. Not that Chia Obama is going anywhere, per se, but his second act in life — as a solemn, bald clay figure — has begun.

This turn of events reminds me that sometimes we seek to reinvent ourselves, and sometimes we are forced to do so. Either way, we have to make the most of our next act in life, whether it involves working a new job, having children, carrying on after the loss of a loved one, or another thing that falls somewhere between those on the scale of earth-shifting seriousness.

Some of those things require more time than others in order to move comfortably to that next phase in life. But eventually you must move on, otherwise you will stagnate into permanent unhappiness.

Who thought one could learn such lessons from a Chia Obama?

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This is the end of “Thursdays with Chia Obama,” at least for now. My writing experiment is over, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be revived someday. As long as there are more Chia seeds to be planted, there is the possibility for more Thursdays with Chia Obama.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the series.

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It’s time for another edition of “Thursdays with Chia Obama!” You may recall from last week’s installment that our second shot at Chia-growing has been more successful than our first. It’s been so successful that Chia Obama’s hair is really long and out of control now!

* * *

Just a week after Chia Obama sported a well-groomed head of hair, his Chia growth has become long and unruly. Sometimes when this sort of thing happens to people, they are beside themselves trying to figure out what to do about it.

Chia Obama is no different. Except in his case, being beside himself is more literal:

Obama beside himself

Chia Obama now has a second companion, a President Obama bobblehead I got for free at a Quad Cities River Bandits game earlier this season. Two heads are better than one when it comes to solving problems, right? In this case, the heads just happen to be of the Chia and bobble varieties.

* * *

Longtime “Thursdays with Chia Obama” readers may recall that Chia Obama’s other companion is a Hoya plant my wife inherited from her great-grandmother. In the three years we’ve had the Hoya in our home, the plant bloomed only once before this summer. But in the past two months — with Chia Obama at its side — the Hoya has bloomed four times.

I don’t know why the Hoya is blooming so much this summer, but I suspect it may have to do with the cooler-than-normal temperatures here this season. But one wonders if it also has to do with having a companion by its side. After all, don’t we all bloom a bit more when we have a loved one to share life with?

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So what will happen with Chia Obama’s long hair? Nothing’s decided yet! Check back here at The Bread Line next Thursday to find out in the sixth installment of “Thursdays with Chia Obama”!

You may recall from last week’s installment of “Thursdays with Chia Obama” that we had to replant Chia Obama’s “hair” after our first Chia crop wilted. (If you missed that edition, you can find it and other previous installments by clicking here.) Thus, this week’s story features a born-again Chia Obama! (A selling point for conservative readers?)

* * *

It is a few minutes before 10 p.m. here on Monday, July 20, 2009 – the 40th anniversary of the first moonwalk. I’ve been reliving the Apollo 11’s mission via Twitter (courtesy of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum), and the following tweet just posted:

“Armstrong: “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” Neil Armstrong is on the Moon! #Apollo11”

I can’t help but think that in a way, there is a connection between the Apollo 11 mission and Chia Obama. I wouldn’t be thinking about either of them right now if not for the audacity of hope. The first moonwalk was made possible by America’s audacity to hope it could put a man on the moon by the time the 1970s arrived, as President John F. Kennedy boldly challenged us to do in his famous May 25, 1961, speech. And, as we all know, Barack Obama’s presidency was made possible by his audacity to hope a black man could be elected to the highest office in America (and, as a direct result, have his likeness turned into a Chia Pet).

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The next night, I’m having my own “audacity of hope” moment. After reading that President Obama will be in Chicago for a pair of fundraisers Thursday, I dream that he will stay an extra day to go to the Cubs game with me and stay for at least an inning or two. I imagine him walking to the pitching mound before the game starts, taking off his White Sox jacket and replacing it with a Cubs jersey. It doesn’t matter that he comes across as a flip-flopping politician – the Wrigley Field crowd cheers him anyway.

Before leaving, Obama has one of his people write down my contact info so he can pass it along to his publisher. Why would he do that, you ask? So I can write a book inspired by Chia Obama.

And of course, the president loves the idea.

* * *

It is Wednesday afternoon and one week has passed since Chia Obama’s hair replacement surgery took place. It’s amazing how much growth there is already – his hair is growing much faster and taller than it did the first time!

I’m not sure what we did differently to improve the Chia growth this time, so we just keep caring for the plant the same way every day.  Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Another lesson learned from Chia Obama…

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Next week: Will Chia Obama’s hair keep growing to new heights at an amazing rate? And what more can we learn from Chia Obama? Check back here at The Bread Line next Thursday to find out!

Chia Obama on Tuesday, six days after we planted new seeds on his scalp. The growth looks good on him!

Chia Obama on Tuesday, six days after we planted new seeds on his scalp. The growth looks good on him!

Tomorrow is Friday, which means today is time for the third installment of my writing experiment, “Thursdays with Chia Obama!” If you didn’t read the first two installments, you can find them by clicking here.

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If there is one constant in life, it is change.

That is true for Chia Obama, too. My wife and I went on a four-day getaway to Minnesota last weekend and left Chia Obama in the care of my mother-in-law. On Monday we were surprised to see Chia Obama changed his hairstyle while we were gone.

Chia Obama’s hair wilted and now resembled dreadlocks. Instead of looking like Barack Obama in his afro days, Chia Obama looked more like Malia Obama. I suppose that means Chia Obama transformed into Chia Malia. (Chia Malia — that has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?)

We hoped to revive Chia Obama with mass water transfusions, but his hair perked back up in far-too-few spots. I even moved him to the living room Tuesday to watch baseball’s All-Star Game with me, but the excitement of the 4-3 game didn’t revive him, nor did seeing his namesake throw out the ceremonial first pitch. (Of course, Barack Obama is a White Sox fan, but Chia Obama is a Cubs fan. That’s change I can believe in.)

It was clear by Wednesday that Chia Obama’s hair would not grow back, so we scraped his scalp bald and started over. I am happy to report that some of the seeds are sprouting already today.

It is disappointing that Chia Obama’s first head of hair lasted only two weeks and three days. Chia growth has an expected lifespan of four weeks. But if at first you don’t succeed, try again.

And Chia Obama won’t be staying with my mother-in-law again anytime soon.

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Check back here at The Bread Line next Thursday to read about Chia Obama’s rebirth in the fourth installment of “Thursdays with Chia Obama!”

For a few days this week, Chia Obama sported dreadlocks.

For a few days this week, Chia Obama sported dreadlocks.

Here it is, the second installment of my writing experiment, “Thursdays with Chia Obama!” This past week Chia Obama sprouted a lot of “hair,” and it’s growing in every direction! Apparently Chia Obama is going through an Albert Einstein phase — which is better than him sporting a mullet.

If you missed last week’s edition of “Thursdays with Chia Obama,” you can find it by clicking here. Once you’ve caught up, read on! And don’t forget to let me know what you think of the story.

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It is Friday afternoon and we’re preparing to leave for Kane County, where we’ll watch Chicago Cubs players Aramis Ramirez and Reed Johnson rehab with the Class A Peoria Chiefs. I’m heading for the door when I notice a fly buzzing around the kitchen. The winged annoyance lands on a window near Chia Obama, instantly reminding me of President Obama’s recent Swat Heard ‘Round the World. Channeling the president’s mad fly-swatting skills, I slowly raise my hand and strike quickly. Got the sucker on my first try. I expect to hear from PETA soon.

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It is Saturday, July 4, 2009 – our nation’s 233rd birthday. After shaking the morning cobwebs from my mind, I head to the kitchen to water Chia Obama. I am surprised to see what appear to be tears coming from Chia Obama’s eyes.

I am not exaggerating. The clay pot soaks up some of the water poured into it, and sometimes drops appear on Chia Obama’s face. This is the first time they look like teardrops.

I can’t help but think the tears are appropriate, as Chia Obama’s namesake, President Obama, obviously loves his country – otherwise he wouldn’t have run for president during such a pivotal time in our nation’s history – and today is Independence Day, the day we celebrate our country’s freedoms.

It also is possible Chia Obama is crying tears of joy because we won’t have Sarah Palin to kick around for much longer. Or so it seems …

* * *

It is Wednesday evening, and rain has been falling most of the day. The precipitation helped make this the coolest July 8 in northern Illinois in 118 years. The temperature outside the house makes today feel like a May day.

Chia Obama is growing a significant head of hair – except in one small spot on the back of his head. However, the longer his hair grows, the less his bald spot shows.

Personally, I have never had a problem with thinning hair. By that, I don’t mean my hair is not thinning. I’ve had a thin head of hair for years. But I don’t have a problem with that.

Some people needlessly worry about such things. But unless you’re a hair model or something like that, why does it matter how voluminous your hair is, especially if you are a man? You should feel blessed you have hair to lose.

Every March during the past six years, I’ve gotten my head buzzed as part of a fundraiser for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which collects money for cancer research. The annual event always serves to remind me and others that cancer patients don’t have the option of keeping their hair while undergoing chemotherapy. They’ve got worse things to worry about than thinning hair or a blossoming bald spot.

Think about them the next time you are unhappy with your hair.

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Check back here at The Bread Line next Thursday for the third installment of “Thursdays with Chia Obama”!

Sporting a Don King hairstyle on July 4, Chia Obama appears to be crying. Though inanimate, Chia Obama likely cried more sincerely than when Fox News commentator Glenn Beck fake-wept and told viewers, "I just love my country, and I fear for it."

Sporting a Don King hairstyle on July 4, Chia Obama appears to be crying. Though inanimate, Chia Obama likely cried more sincerely than when Fox News commentator Glenn Beck fake-wept and told viewers, "I just love my country, and I fear for it."

Here it is, the first installment of my writing experiment, “Thursdays with Chia Obama!” If you didn’t read my introduction to this weekly series (posted last night), you can find it by clicking here. “Thursdays with Chia Obama,” which blatantly steals its title from Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie, chronicles the life of my Chia Obama in sometimes fun, sometimes more serious ways. Sometimes there is a lesson to be learned and sometimes you’ll laugh (I hope). This is just a writing experiment, so feel free to give me feedback about what you like or don’t like about it, because it is as much for you, the reader, as it is for me. Enjoy!

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It is the early summer of 2009, a hot, sticky Saturday afternoon in North Central Illinois; last Saturday, to be precise. After allowing a mixture of Chia seeds and water to sit for over an hour, I watched carefully as my wife applied the resulting gel-like paste to numerous rows of grooved surfaces where Barack Obama’s hair should be. This, of course, is not the 44th president of the United States; it is a clay Chia Pet likeness of the leader of the free world looking determined. Yes, we bought a Chia Obama, and I am not ashamed of admitting it.

* * *

The sun beamed in through the kitchen window, bathing our Chia Obama in sunlight. It has been only two days since we planted the Chia seeds, and already they are starting to sprout. Just as the Obama likeness they are planted on portrays, the seeds seem determined – determined to grow quickly. There is no time to waste during a recession, especially when you’re a Chia Pet with a lifespan of only a month.

Chia Obama’s companion is a Hoya plant my wife inherited from her great-grandmother Ethel, an amazing woman who died last year at age 107. It is unknown exactly how old the Hoya is, but family memories indicate it is at least 30 years old. By comparison, the Chia crop will die in infancy.

There is a lesson to be learned from this. Live every day of life to its fullest because you may not have much time left. Then again, you may live to be 107. But since you rarely know when your time will be up, it is never too early to start ticking off the items on your personal bucket list. Don’t worry about completing your list prematurely – you can always add to it.

Sure, it is a bit of a cliché to tell people to live life like there’s no tomorrow. But it is a lesson worth repeating because so many people neglect to heed it until they are late in the game, to use a sports metaphor.

However, I think more people are realizing this at an earlier junction in their lives, particularly during the current recession. A lot of people who lost their jobs wonder why they worked so hard for an employer who just cut them loose in the end, hard work be damned. I am among those who learned that lesson the uneasy way. By all means, work hard at your job, but be able to separate your work life from your home life, and hopefully happiness will ensue.

And if you find yourself in the unenviable position of temporarily not working, learn to appreciate “the little things” a little more. Like watching a Chia Obama grow “hair” thanks to your suddenly green thumb. And having the presence of mind to realize the experience may teach you a lesson – or several.

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It is the first day of July 2009, a cool, breezy Wednesday afternoon in North Central Illinois. The high temperature is about 25 degrees lower than it was the day Chia Obama’s seeds were planted. The temperature drop does not seem to faze Chia Obama; after four days, most of its seeds have sprouted. Just like Chia Obama’s namesake, the plant seems able to roll with any changes it faces, remaining calm, cool and collected.

Is a plant capable of being calm, cool and collected? In my house … yes, it can.

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Check back here at The Bread Line next Thursday for the second installment of “Thursdays with Chia Obama”!

 

 

 

The Chia sprouts atop Chia Obama's head look like antennas, don't they? Young punk Chia Obama's favorite song is the Misfits' "I Turned Into A Martian." Whoah!

The Chia sprouts atop Chia Obama's head look like antennas, don't they? Young punk Chia Obama's favorite song is the Misfits' "I Turned Into A Martian." Whoah!

 

 

I don’t know how I missed this when it happened:

During a May 17 event in Indianapolis, Chia Pet creator Joseph Pedott personally presented President Obama with his very own Chia Obama plant. Apparently Obama hadn’t heard of the product, reportedly asking, “What’s a Chia Obama?”

Official White House photo of President Obama receiving a Chia Obama

Official White House photo of President Obama receiving a Chia Obama

You may recall the minor controversy that resulted from Walgreens’ decision to no longer sell Chia Obama products because some people might find them offensive. This did not deter me from buying one.

Sure Chia Obama is sort of kitschy, but my inner child has long wanted to own a Chia Pet. Plus I figured a Chia Obama would be an interesting addition to my collection of political memorabilia. So I ordered one via Amazon.com, and also bought a copy of Richard Wolffe’s new book, Renegade: The Making of a President, which is about Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. The seeds were planted on my Chia Obama four days ago.

I’ve been alternately reading two books lately, Wolffe’s Obama book and Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays With Morrie, which sparked a creative writing idea. Thus, tomorrow I will post the first installment of “Thursdays with Chia Obama.” On Thursday of each week, I’ll post another installment of the series, which will chronicle the life of my Chia Obama in creative ways. Sometimes I’ll write about lessons that can be learned from the Chia Obama, ala Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten; sometimes I’ll be a little less serious. But I hope “Thursdays with Chia Obama” will always be an enjoyable read.

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