Friday, May 22, 2015

how light gets in

I've read this quote countless times. And posted it several times. It's a great line, applicable to everything.

So we in Berkeley have to find the crack in our corrupt city governance to let the light of the common good get in.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

one hand one heart

I have found my coheart. He wants nothing to do with me.

How do I get past that?  I don't want to hang onto my certitude that he is a portal to my Self.  I can't believe I am so stubbornly certain he is my man. It is like an infection, one with no cure.  So is this my work now, sitting in the fire of grievous loss?

I was not looking for him. I never expected to find someone who got me. And I absolutely never imagined a man might exist that I could love like I love this guy. Being with him made me even happier than being with my newborn, and that is a powerful admission.

My heart, he is a piece of my heart, yet will have nothing to do with me.

The possibility that I could live decades longer and not have him at my side is so hard for me.  I waver. I have immersed myself in activity and socializing and activity with humans does distract me but it does nothing to dissipate my suffering, it is always waiting for me. Other times, I surrender to my suffering, not attempting to do anything but ride the painful waves of loss.  Accepting this loss might be harder than losing my daughter, although each loss is so vast, so girevous.  I cannot escape my suffering. Sometimes, and this would be a good day full of pain but with flickers of light, I tell myself this is my life now, sitting with the pain of unbearable loss. Then I think how nice it would be if I would hurry up and die so this part of my journey will end. But I don't. The sun comes up on my sundial every day.  My pain is fresh.  My isolation deep.

One glance from him completes something in me that I never realize is incomplete until he was at my side completing me. What sap. He completes me. He does. And this is energy I am writing of.  If I am able to feel his energy nearby, I am complete. Who wouldn't want that to stay? and how to accept such a loss?  people get over such loss.  I know myself. I will never get over it.

would you call this treason?

some things I am grateful for

Outside my bedroom window, across the interior courtyard of my building (which allows lots of natural light to all apartments, courtyard or streetside --- I am so grateful for the design that prioritized inhabitants access to natural light over maximizing profit), I can see the other end of my apartment building. This end is rounded and I think of it as my sundial. When I awaken each day, my first conscious thought is to look at the sundial, see where the morning sun is hitting the tower, guestimating the time and only then looking at a clock to see how accurate I was.  I am always accurate, after six years awakening to my sundial.  This is, on some levels, a small thing, to be able to awaken, see whatever natural light is present in my world and play the game of guessing the time based on where the light is.

On another level, the daily gift of sunlight, the daily gift of the joy of my sundial game, are gigantic gifts from the Cosmos, from Love, from the Sun.  This is not a small daily gift to me. My gratitude for my sundial and my affair with it every day.

I am grateful for the grateful reverie I have experienced as I have reflected on the endless stream of things I am grateful for. From macrocosm gratitude like my gratitude for sunlight and microcosm gratitude like my gratitude for the caterpillars munching in a friend's garden, watching the caterpillars begin to transform to butterflies.  I am grateful for flowers. I am grateful that lately, in my long daily walks, I take close mental notes of as much detail of flowers as I can -- this can make for long walks and I am grateful that I take long walks that gift me with flowers, trees, birds, even bees.  I am grateful for turkey tail mushrooms, grateful I can identify them, grateful that I see them regularly.

I am grateful that I raised my daughter. I am grateful for the support group we used to go to every Saturday, for single parents facing divorce with child care to give all the moms a little time off from tending their little ones. My favorite memory of that group, which we attended for almost three years (because, yeah, our custody fight took that long) is the few times my little toddler would notice that I had left my eyeglasses behind. I am grateful for the wonderful woman who cared for the children. I am grateful for this tiny memory:  One time the childcare woman, who I have not thought of in about 30 years so I don't remember her name, said "You are so lucky. I wish I had a little girl to remind me when I have left my eyeglasses behind."Then she praised my daughter.  A tiny, tiny moment in a long and rambling life road.  The happiness, love and joy I felt when Rosie said, in her munchkin squeak, "Mommy, you forgot your glasses" was perfect.

I have had countless perfect moments. I sometimes feel that I remember all my moments, although, of course, I don't.

I am grateful that my loving heart can pierce thirty years of life and remember teeny tiny moments of pure joy.

My daughter's name actually means 'pure joy'. I named her Pure Joy intentionally. I totally assumed she would be Pure Joy to me.

It is hard, after fourteen years of her refusing to interact with me, to find present moments of gratitude related to her.  I have to spelunk in my past to find gratitude for Pure Joy because there is no Pure Joy in my present.

Sunlight. Shadow.

I am thinking of riding in a quiet train that is dazzled at moments by bright sunshine blasting into the windows, then the train comes to a piece of track that is in deep shade. My memories of Pure Joy are a bit like that. In my reveries, I can pass through memories filled with light, then memories clouded by darkness, and everything in between. Sun. Shadow. Light. Dark.

Pure Joy. I am grateful you were born. I am grateful I got to birth you. I am grateful I got to raise you. I am grateaful I got to see you at school plays, cello recitals, dance recitals and giving speeches. 

Even now, after fourteen years of your, to me, utterly confusing choice to have nothing to do with me, fourteen years of deeply painful suffering, I am glad you were born, grateaful I got to be your mom and grateful you get to be. Even if you are being without me, I want you to be and I am grateful that you are.

I am grateful you are, even though you choose to live without me.

complaints are like second hand smoke

Jon Gordon, author of The No Complaining Rule says "The more we look at something that can hurt us and kill us, we are programmed to be on guard against that."  . . But all of that whining comes with a cost. When we complalin, our brains release stress hormones that harm neural connections in areas used for problem solving and other cognitive functions.  This also happens when we listen to someone else moan and groan.  "It's as bad as secondhand smoke," Gordon says.  "It's second hand complaining."  Just as smoking is banned in most offices, one entrepreneur says he has banned complaning among his team members. He gives them one chance and if he catches them complaning a second time, that's it for them.

This is excerpted from an article at I share the link to the whole article  but the above excerpt is the essence of the article for me.

Here's link to the whole article:  avoid second hand complaints

The Six Exercises of Rudolf Steiner

THE SIX EXERCISES of Rudolf Steiner
elaborated by Tom van Gelder
Here is a brief encapsulation of the 6 basic exercises that originate from Rudolf Steiner paraphrased by Michaela Glockler. These exercises are meant to provide a means of tuning our moral compass centered in the human heart which is of indispensable importance as health-sustaining guidance for anyone who chooses to embark upon a path of inner development. Ideally our social interactions could be informed by the human capacities and virtues that can be cultivated with the help of these exercises.
(1) Controlling our thoughts on the basis of truth.
(2) Becoming conscious of our will impulses.
(3) Controlling our feeling life that always has personal nuances.
(4) Cultivating positivity in dealing with others and with things.
(5) Being open to what life and destiny may bring.
(6) Developing an attitude in life that brings a balance to all these exercises.
For those who would like to immerse themselves more deeply into these Six Basic Excercises originally given by Rudolf Steiner the following link provides access to an elaboration written by Tom van Gelder

anything to avoid facing our own souls

    Snippet of this fine essay:  There is no living a soul-centered life without being authentic — without mustering the courage to do the excavating in the dark: the Shadow work.
    Again, C. G. Jung: “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.”  (emphasis added)

    by Melissa La Flamme
    When you live from your intuitive core, your belly, your heart, let your soul lead and spirit guide you, your words and actions will be naturally subversive.
    You will go to your edge. You will soften. Become wildly tender.
    Question is, will you wholly inhabit your own revolution? In beauty? This inner revolution is a perpetual ceremony of the heart. It's what you are for.
    When you are real, cooked down to essence, rather than half-baked to get approval, to look good, the projections from others may fly, seek you out and try to stick to you. Don't let them. Instead, let your authenticity support you in carrying on whole-hearted, vulnerable conversation to resolve whatever arises. It is hard work. Uncomfortable. Deeply human. Can be harrowing. And often downright delicious. Intimate. Naked. Courageous work marked by your solid presence. Here. Now.
    I'd rather be whole than good, C. G. Jung said. And by whole, he meant real, messy, ensouled, deeply human, heart-broken open with compassion flowing first to ourselves, to resource and prepare to let it flow widely, to others.
    Being too comfortable, amenable, pliable to the point of contorting yourself — is a ticket to selling your soul right up the river. Don't buy it. When you live from your own knowing-ness, from your gut and your wildly-rooted intelligence, you feel alive. Genuinely, madly, creatively alive.
    Being real — true to your Self, your soul — is gritty. And grit causes friction, makes fire to clear the way for living a revolutionary act. This act is marked by action that the earth and the soul of the world are crying out for. And the cry is going to get louder, more pain-filled, and grievous before enough souls answer wholeheartedly.
    When you get real, it is actually not about you. Your individual program is only the ground from which you step. From which you step and choose whether you will make this life of yours a walk of grit and beauty, or one of accommodation to the forces that insist you do it their way, be well-behaved, produce, consume, make nice, and as the poet, Mary Oliver says, "barely breathing and calling it a life."
    Thing is we're not talking a self-improvement project; that's only the gateway. We are being used. By Spirit. One way or the other: we go consciously or we are abducted — individually and collectively, now. So it's a great time to dive in.
    When we realize we have no choice but to offer ourselves up — like a sacrifice — to the mystery of Great Spirit's guidance, this guidance insists on shaping us as a soul-centered contributor. And we're in it! Soul's got us. And Spirit carries us along. We're goners to those egoic, mechanistic, competitive ways; the ways that have undone the earth and so many souls who walk the earth, swim her waters, send roots down into her and watch from the skies.
    To inhabit your own core, your vital, knowing center and a soul-centered way of being, you need to do the inner excavation. What we call, in Jungian psychology-speak, Shadow work and in shamanic speak, Underworld soul work, including ego-dismemberment work to heal old wounds and retrieve parts of your soul you had otherwise disowned or split off. We need these pieces of our souls, as well as aspects of our bodies, and our connection with Spirit, and with the earth, along with the Other-than-human-ones and wild intelligent forms of life — to feel deliciously alive, ready to roll, to serve this crying earth and love 'em up.
    This is real adult work, asking everything of you. And will alter your world completely, but before that happens you'll be met with severing old ways, dismemberment, metaphoric death, dreams, visions — both lovely and horrifically heart-pounding, yummy, gut-wrenching, Beauty, raging tears, sweet snot, broken open heart, blue-shimmering darkness, warm, comforting light. Rebirth. Love. Hope. A deep sense of connection with it all. And a palpable knowing of what you are for.
    So it's a slow dive, a conscious descent into the depths of your soul, the dark ground of your being and your dreams: the Underworld of your psyche. This is vital work — no way around it — to discover what you've tucked away in the archetypal Shadow of your own psyche. If you're lucky you will unearth what you had otherwise disowned to adapt to the egoic, mechanistic, competitive, earth-ravaging ways of modern Western culture. And most often, these pieces of your otherwise whole psyche that you had disowned are what makes you utterly You. Beautifully. Creatively. Wildly alive. Authentically so. You. And you are needed here.
    Your essential soul's powers — what you were born with before you lost track of them and they, you — are to be found there, in that excavation into your dark depths, awaiting you to carry them home, like mama leopard carries kitties. With a fierce tenderness, knowing that all life — yours, your beloveds, the earth, humans and other than humans — is at stake. The world needs you to be fully alive. Real. The world needs you to find, bring home and embody your soul's gifts and healing powers. It's messy work. It's what we are for.
    When you are transparent, you will stand out as you are truly seen. When you are transparent, others can "see through" you into you as your heart and true essence shines. You are clear, direct and kind. You are not an enigma; you don't leave people scratching their heads wondering what you just said and did.
    You do not hide. You are honest to the bone. You are courage enfleshed.
    When you are congruent, you are wholistically aligned. What you think, say, feel in your heart, feel in your body and the actions you take line up to support and reflect each other. You know it in your body, often in your gut, when you put your attention there.
    Congruent. Authenticity happens in the guts and bowels of your life. Being authentic is the grunt-work of the soul, of any deeply human, spiritual path. Being half here, half there, half-hearted, faking it to look good, strategizing to make things easier for your self -- that's the common way of the unconscious clotted middle, driven by our egoic, addicted culture. It's a way that lacks wholeheartedness. Lacks real courage to let the heart break. Shatter. Broken whole and holy open to finally know compassion for self, others, earth. To live and love — on-fire, fully alive, juiced and ready to serve.
    Being authentic and soul-centered costs you your ticket to ride from the collective mainstream to the illusion of safe and secure. And opens the door to your bloody and glistening, broken whole heart -- reveals to you the honey of this wildly delicious, messy life. Leaves you and those you touch, feeling radically free. Without choice now. Solid and light. Authenticity strips away all that is NOT real. All that is not made from love, to love. All that is of enriched soul and in-spired Spirit remains. There is no living a soul-centered life without being authentic — without mustering the courage to do the excavating in the dark: the Shadow work.
    Again, C. G. Jung: “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.” (emphasis added)

    What will you do?
    © 2014 Melissa La Flamme
    My new book, WHAT YOU ARE FOR: Inciting A Revolution In Your Soul, is available on Amazon:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

a dark energy has moved into me

I am having an awful evening.

I went to the Berkeley school board meeting, having made a commitment to make a public comment regarding a proposed development in Berkeley that will be 400 feet from the high school. This development will also be about 400 feet from where I live, but the school board doesn't care about where I live. They care about the impacts on their students during the years of construction and disruption outside their high school.

I showed up like a good little doobie.

I got there very early. I learned that the district was recogizing the children from a local school who had won prizes for their winning essays, one number one winner per grade, I think. It was all girls plus one boy. Go chick power, eh?

The girls were beautiful. The boy was beautiful. Some of the children who read their essays were nervous and, from nervousness, spoke so softly I could barely hear them.

The children were so beautiful.  I was flooded with memories of school assemblies, class plays, and the speech my daughter gave on behalf of her 8th grade class at graduation. It was a superb speech and she delivered it with great panache.  She always had leads in the class plays, went on to always have leads in plays in college. She got roles in the h.s, plays but for h.s. she went to a K-12 prep school and her freshman class was packed with kids who had been acting in the school's outstanding acting program. Lots of competition for roles, plus older students got priority for the leads.

That 8th grade speech was delivered note perfect.  A friend who heard it said to me, as she finished, "That is a kid going places in this world."

I saw her in the beautiful children. I heard her voice at every stage of life.  I felt bereft. My stomach became a tense knot.

I am drowning in heartache and sorrow.

I left the meeting before the actual board meeting began.

And I am crying hard now.  I am not sure I want to be alive if I can't have a relationship with my daughter.

Nobody loves me as I need to be loved. And I don't love myself.

I am so unhappy.

a memory of parenting my child

When my daughter was two years old, we still lived in Omaha. A Fuddruckers restaurant came to town.  Fuddruckers might still exist, but I haven't seen one in years.  I only patronized a place like Fuddfuckers, as I usually referred to the place, to please my daughter.  Fuddruckers mostly sells hamburgers, fries and drinks. Their special thing is the toppings bar for the burgers, and, in the mid-eighties in Omaha, anyway, games that cost money to play. The restaurant had a noisy game arcade.

For my daughter, the favorite feature was the way they announced your name when your burger was ready. "Rosie your burger is ready!"  Hearing her name called in the exotic environment thrilled her.
They took names for each burger so my name was called and her name was called. Thrill city. For a two year old.

She loved to hear her name, then rush to claim her food, and then carefully select her toppings.

My memories of Fuddfuckers are a little faint. I remember that I always called the place Fuddfuckers, pretending I didn't know I was saying it wrong.  I always used profanity in front of my child. I decided, while still pregnant, that I would not be a hypocrit in the way I talked to her, that I would talk to her like anyone else.  No baby talk and no edited profanity withheld. So I said Fuddfuckers, and every time I did, it titillated her a bit.

We loved Fuddfuckers. The clanging, pinging game machines, the endless announcement of ready burgers, background music. A blaring cacophony of suburban, middle class exotica, an escape from our very dull life in very dull Omaha.

At this time, Rosie was really into She-Ra, Princess of Power, which was a cartoon show. At the time, He-Man was a popular boys cartoon and She-Ra was an attempt to  cater to little girls, to sell them junk at commercial breaks, to appeal to the different market.  I didn't let Rosie watch it at home but she spent every weekend with her father during the two years of our custody battle. She watched it there. And she talked about She-Ra, I heard her, I tuned in.

My point about the visitation is that she spent a lot of time with different rules. Her father and his mother, who really took care of her during the visitations, let her watch a lot of crap on television. And Rosie was in love with She-Ra, Princess of Power.

At Fuddfuckers, the kids at the register, very young kids themselves, sixteen, seventeen, were happy to write down 'She-Ra, Princess of Power' on the burger order, and then to call out 'She-Ra, Princess of Power, your burger is ready".

I love all the easy, little ways you can make a kid happy.  It made me happy to make her happy.

I wonder if she remembers the simple but happy times we had at Fuddruckers.

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

  • A Ritual To Read To Each Other
    If you don't know the kind of person I am
    and I don't know the kind of person you are
    a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
    and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

    For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
    a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
    sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
    storming out to play through the broken dyke.
    And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
    but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
    I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
    to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.
    And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
    a remote important region in all who talk:
    though we could fool each other, we should consider--
    lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.
    For it is important that awake people be awake,
    or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
    the signals we give--yes or no, or maybe--
    should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
    ~ William Stafford ~
    (The Way It Is)

a loving being does not readily suspect unkindness

    The suspicion that everyone wants to be nasty to them arises most often in egoistic natures

    There are people who are perpetually complaining about other people and the awful things they do to them. They go as far as to say that other people persecute them. Everything of this kind is always connected with the other pole of human nature, you only have to observe life in the right way, which means according to spiritual science as properly understood. Of course there is good reason to complain about unkindness, but in spite of this you will always find, if you go through life with vision that has been made somewhat clairvoyant by spiritual science, that most of these complaints come from egoists, and that the suspicion that everyone wants to be nasty to them arises most often in egoistic natures, whereas a loving disposition will not readily suspect persecution, nor that people are trying to harm them in all kinds of ways, and so on.
    Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 275 – Art as Seen in the Light of Mystery Wisdom – Lecture 7Dornach, 3rd January 1915

what was I thinking?

Yesterday I went to Costco with a friend.  I didn't need anything. I am fascinated by Costco.

I have been craving dill pickles lately. Organic dill pickles are expensive.

Cruising aimlessly through the giant store, I saw $3.39 for a gallon of Vlasic dill pickles. Not organic but I like Vlasick pickles well enough.

As soon as I got the gallon glass jar full of pickles into my apartment, I realized my mistake.

Once I open the jar, I will have to refrigerate it. I don't have room in my small and always full fridge for a gallon jar.

a tip for younger adults

When you run into a friend and your first thought is "He looks older", you look older too.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

because inertia

I know my subject line for this post is not quite right. I should have written a grammatically correct sentence but the title I wrote felt right.

The rich own our systems of governance. Even if citizens elect the occasional good politician who got into politics to make our system of governance work for ordinary people, such folks are so few that they cannot overcome the power of all the money driving our governance.

Congress. White House. State houses. And local municipal governments. All oligarchy. No democracy.

We still have a lot of theater posing as democracy. This public theater lulls many people, including highly educated folks, into wrongly believing the system works to serve the common good.

Oh, I have figured out who the real NIMBY's are in Berkeley. Folks with beautiful, expensive homes, more often than not in the hills of Berkeley with great views of the whole bay, are the real NIMBY's. They don't want small apartment buildings in the hills, much less high rise luxury condos.

And folks who live near the N. Berkeley BART don't want high rises, and they are also NIMBY's.

Folks along corridors traditionally used by lower income businesses and low end housing, such as San Pablo, Adeline and Telegraph are all now zoned to be Public Development areas, a state mandated rule, that requires Berkeley to line historic commercial corridors that, heretofore, have served nonwhite and nonwealthy people and transform the neighborhood to serve the rich.

Citizens can fight like hell. Show up at all the meetings:  all the zoning board meetings, design review commission, landmarks preservation review, arts commission, and, of course, the only real power in Berkeley, the city council.

It's all kabuki theater.  It is sadly ironic that our doddering mayor tried to distract the public from his collusion to destroy the Shattuck Cinemas, the only venue in the east bay to show ten screens of art films and art documentaries. Tommy tried to distract people from destroying the movie theaters that are the economic engine of downtown Berkeley - moviegoers often eat out before or after the movie. Who knew? 

I have gotten to know many, many intelligent, and, this being Berkeley, mostly overeducated people who have great passion for justice, equity and their city. 

Most people seem to think our government works the way our propaganda civics classes in grade school said they work. I don't think the people ever really had a voice. I think it's always been kabuki theater.

Read Hannah Arendt's The Rise of Totalitarianism. Most mistakenly believe what she wrote in that book only explained Nazi Germany. It is a vision that applies to the rise of totalitarianism, just like the title says. And we are living in a totalitarian state. Most folks just don't see it, or believe it.

The only thing that keeps me going to meetings all the time, with at least two meetings most days, is love. Not love for justice. Love for all the lovely people who are spending even more time than me, working even harder than me. And all for naught.

Because inertia.

so my doctor said

Yesterday I told my primary care doctor, a woman I have seen for my health care for about five years and someone I quite like, that I had an appointment with a new doc from a different practice. I said "I am telling you this because if I make the switch and you wonder why you never see me anymore, I want you to know I did not switch because of you. I switched because this practice is so awful to deal with. I have to fight and beg for my health care. If I make the switch, I want you to know it was not about you. I already feel twinges at the idea of not seeing you. I am not switching because of you."

She astonished me when she said "We can not keep up with "Prestigious Medical Care". She said the actual name, so did I.

Then she said "if you end up switching, let's get together for lunch sometime."

Wow.  She likes me.

My Seattle doctor cried when I saw her for the last time before I moved to CA. she said "I don't think I have ever cried when a patient moved away before. Everytime you come in, you bring something special. I am going to miss you. Promise me you will take care of yourself." Then she hugged me and I hugged back.

I get along well with my doctors, eh?

I feel pride that my current doctor, who I love, suggested lunch. I feel love.

a gallon of dill pickles

I accompanied a friend to Costco today. I have only been in Costco stores a few times. The stores fascinate me.  Since they sell mass quantities of most things, there's not much I want to buy.

Today I picked up a pound of baby organic spinach for $3.39. It's probably not local. I can buy local, organic baby spinach at the Monterey Market for $3.99 a pound. At MM, I get mostly local produce.

I scoped out all the melons at  Costco today. I did not see any organic ones. Between not being organic, the melons I did see being from Arizona and the prices no lower than they would be at MM, I passed on the cantaloupe and seedless watermelon. For Costco prices, I can usually get organic local melons during the prime melon season, which we are in right now. So pass on the melons. Well, almost.

I bought one melon, called a 'golden melon' that was a bright orange. I've never seen this melon before. It has no indication of where it came from. It was not labeled organic. I eat a lot of melons in the summer because they are lower in carbs, have low impact on my glucose, are low in calories and I love melons. At $2.69 for one 'golden melon', even though it was not organic and not likely to be locally sources, I could not resist. Since they were selling them singly, which is unusual at Costco, I indulged in one golden melon.

It was easy to resist the three-packs of cantaloupe. They were obviously picked too early so they would not bruise during shipping. Who knows how old they are? And how likely are picked-too-early and shipped-to-far melons likely to ever ripen properly?

Except for the exotic golden melon, I resisted melons.

I thought I would escape Costco with my pound of organic baby spinach and my one interesting new-to-me melon.

I went in search of my friend and passed one gallon jars of Vlasik dill pickles. Not organic, but organic pickles are very expensive anyway.

I've been craving pickles lately.

$3.99 for one gallon of nonorganic dill pickles was impossible to resist. Almost no carbs. And big fat dill pickles sate my craving for tartly delicious, low-call, low-carb snacks.  I will eat one a day until they are gone and then, I predict, begin to crave another Costco run.

My friend bought several pounds of raw nuts, mostly walnuts. I wished, at check out, that I had chosen a two pound bag of walnuts. I had passed on them because I had not realized they were raw.

I have been eating some raw walnuts most days lately. I eat a ripe banana and some walnuts as a treat.

Fruit is my sweet treat now. A banana is miraculous, in my opinion. I can make banana bread with almond and coconut flour, add walnuts (then they are no longer raw! but who cares, its banana bread) and no need to add a sweetener. Bananas are my sweetener.

Big score of the day: a gallon of dill picles for four bucks. Score!  Yeah, yeah, non-organic.

being a serious activist takes a ton of time

I went to two meetings yesterday related to the work of fighting Berkeley's corrupt real estate development process.  The first meeting took two hours, plus travel time to and fro. The second meeting, which I facilitated, took me about 3.5 hours because I showed up early to arrange the furniture in a circle and create an agenda wall, plus the meeting ran also. Plus walk time, but the second meeting was downtown, a short walk each way.

It seems to me the whole country and, I sadly fear, the whole world is now governed by public servants who are in thrall to wealth, unable to act on behalf of the common good.  It's not just Berkeley that is corruptly beholder to back room deals with corrupt lobbyists who formed close relationships with our mayor, his voting block on the council.

Tonight I will attend a meeting organized by citizen activists, with presentations by some public servants. I think it is called a teach-in. I don't think I will learn anything I don't already know at tonight's meeting but everyone on my side of fighting Berkeley corruption, or Berkeley's service for the rich, believes that it helps our cause to have lots of people show up. So I will show up.

Tomorrow night, I will attend the Berkeley School Board meeting.  My agenda item is item #55. At the last meeting, the BSD only took public comments after midnight. So I will bring a couple books so I can read all evening while I make an appearance to demonstrate visually to the BSD that the public pays attention to what they do. Since BSD are elected positions, hopefully it matters to some of them that the public is paying attention.

One thing I have learned by going to a zillion public meetings, most of which are sham meetings at which the public has no power*, is that we have no public servants. City staff and elected politicans see their jobs as serving the rich.

One of Berkeley's greediest predators is a former city planning director. He makes his living by promising would-be investors in real estatea projects in Berkeley that his insider connections to our mayor, some of our council and our city staff will guarantee the would-be investors project approval. Keep in mind: this dirtbag gets paid to show up at many hearings. He also gets prior notice of some things that are going to happen at public hearings but the public does not receive the same notice.

Anyway, the slimeball lobbyist I am alluding to, but not naming because he's such an asshole that I am afraid of him, actually got up at the last Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting and whined that he had to go to so many meetings to get one of his many projects approved. It was hard to choke that down because most in the largish audience (large for a preservation commission hearing) were there out of civic concern, most not getting paid.

If slimeball gets his build permits, he will make millions. Fuck with your whining, cry baby.

And fuck the city zoning board staff.

God(dess) saves humanity by . . .

"God saves humanity not by punishing it but by restoring it!" —Richard Rohr, What the Mystics Know

Sunday, May 17, 2015

especially be kind to myself

Over and over, then again and again, I have to remember this lesson, to be kind to myself.

From Me To You Forever

When I was in high school, most of the kids I knew hung out in the parking lot of a McDonald's.  McDonald's was the place to be.

My next youngest brother (I have 3 younger bros and one old bro, Chuck the Fuck, who earned his name by being an asshole to all his siblings, the bigger and older he was in relation to each sibling, the nastier he got, classic bully picking on those unable to defend against him) actually got a job at the hang-out McDonald's, the lucky dog. I don't remember McDonald's hiring girls in that era.  Most of the jobs available for teens were for males.

Anyone, my bro Joe ran the french fry machine. One day, he burned his hand. He sued the store, won a settlement that he and my dad split. No one besides the two of them ever knew the settlement figure, not even our mother. All on the QT.  Knowing my dad, who wasn't exactly dishonest, my dad got more than Joe. Any amount would have been a lot to a kid working for $1.35 an hour, right?

Regarding my dad not being exactly dishonest.  He didn't have much of a drive to lie or, to use his vocabulary, clip a guy. He enjoyed the game. Everything related to money was, for my dad, a bit like a shell game played in subway stations. where the con artist puts something under a shell and moves three shells around and you lose unless you correctly identify which shell covers the hidden thing. The hidden thing was often a quarter.  He liked faking people out but he was not driven by money.  He loved the game of faking people out.

Can anyone today effectively imagine that working a shell game in a subway station for hours to win quarters was a way to pick up some money? What's a quarter buy now? Back then, a quarter bought bus fare or, as my dad would have said, car fare. My dad never played shell games. He liked to gamble on ponies and get great bargains that only insiders were able to get.  He liked feeling in the know. His dad, my favorite grandpa, drove trolley cars for the city and dad always referred to public transit fees as car fare.  Never for a taxi.

I don't remember my dad ever taking a taxi. Ever. Ever. Ever.

Taking public transit was hardwired into us, with my mick paternal grandpa driving a 'car' (aka bus) for Chicago and my maternal mick grandfather working for the post office on a rail car. One of them instilled in me a love of public transit and  and the other instilled a love of commenmorative stamps.

In my family, at least for those of my siblings who cared about the South Dakota grandparents, far away from our world in Chicago, and I cared, using standard flag stamps was tantamount to sin. To this day, I send lots of postcards, cards and letters so I can use commemorative stamps. Using nonstandard stamps, which still come with boring American flag pix is impossible for me. I'll use a print with postage amount printed on it before I'll use a flag stamp.

I don't send many snail mail letters anymore. I email letters. But I send postcards.

Postcards are another habit from childhood, and then traveling abroad in my twenties. I never took photos. I bought post cards of the best sights, one to mail with a stamp and one to keep for my memories.  Eventually, I mail every postcard that comes into my possession. I look for reasons to send postcards. I send them for no reason. My main motivation: to use commemorative stamps to feel in touch with my childhood self, my grandmother, my dad, my mom and, in a foolish grasp, an old self that never really existed.

Commemorative stamps today just aint what they used to be.  Commemorative stamps commemorate special humans now departed, or wild life, or historic moments. This month, I bought a sheet of stamps with fonts I consider childlike, if not idiotic,  that say "From Me To You Forever". The stamps come surrounded by lots of tiny stickers of hearts, X's and O's, "happy birthday", thanks, and maybe more. This stamp is cute. Yuck. Postage stamps should not be cute.

No point getting in a huff here. I bet they no longer call non-flag stamps commemorative, although I still occasionally am able to buy a stamp that commemorates a person or historical event. I am working off a sheet of Jimi Hendrix.

Times change, I have worked through two sheets of Harry Potter stamps. Harry Potter stamps seem just wrong. It's not that old, is it? The Potter stamps were fun but Harry Potter has not been around long enough to rate a stamp.

I guess they put out stamps to sell them.  I guess the politcy about what rated being put on a stamp has been downgraded to marketing hype.

Times change.

I have never been in sync with the times. I am not in sync now. I am very unhappy. I wish I would die.

I find reasons to write to folks via u.s. mail just to use stamps. On a conscious level, I don't care about using stamps. It appears to be hardwired into me. I don't think any living being, even my extant blood kin, remembers, if they ever knew, that my maternal grandparents assiduously used commenorative stamps.

I also had a great aunt who was cheap. Her husband was a devoted stamp collector. When he slid into senility, Great Aunt Effie devolved his stamp collection. She kept the huge books that contained every commenorative stamps sold by the u.s. post office for several decades. Once Great Uncle Ray lost his mental facultires, Effie only collected cancelled stamps -- not as valuable.

His stamp collection was quite valuable and a bona fide con artist stole them. This strange lady that got close to my aunt when she realized my aunt was almost wealthy. She died in the eighties with an estate worth about a million. Effie had no kids so her local con artists thought she had no heirs. Effie had heirs. Her nine siblings had given her a couple dozen nieces and nephew.  Effie left all her money to a nephew. She once explained to me that she couldn't leave me money because family money had to go to men, to keep it in the family.

But a charlatan, a con artist, a neighbor lady of my great aunt Effie stole her considerably valuable stamp collection. Or someone did. When Effie died, the estate lawyer asked me if I had removed them from the house. Remove them?  I had never seen them.

Effie was guarded about her treasures. The only treasure she ever showed me and my daughter Rosie was her impressive collection of Cracker Jack toys. We learned that in the early years of Cracker Jacks, they sometimes put in really nice trinkets. Not all the prizes in a box of Cracker Jacks had value but now and then, one did.

One Sunday during our years of Sunday afternoon visits, Effie gave all those Cracker Jack prizes to Rosie. Most were just cheap plastic gimcracks but there were a few lead tiny airplanes, cannons (gee do you think the company was thinking of boys?")

Trying to tap my muse. Not succeeding.

I am not doing what I want to be doing right now. Wah.

I want to be billing and cooing with a man who loves me. I want to snuggle, cuddle and, sometimes, make love.  Am I horny?  I don't think I have ever thought that question before. I think I am. Such a stereotype. If I am horny, I am horny for snuggles, cuddles, billing and cooing. Done right, with loving attention, I would also like sex.

you're my holy wine

Wine has been alive in my being. I haven't drunk any, not in at least ten years, but I am thinking so much about drinking wine that I actually bought a bottle of what I hope is minimally adequate red wine.

With wine on my mind, Joni Mitchel' singing "I could drink a case of you and still be on my feet"  often wafts through my being. Not just the lyrics but the music. I feel the song's energy, not so much the words.

I dare not drink the bottle of wine I bought yesterday. I will want more, more of my holy wine, not the red wine with alcohol holy wine. My man holy wine.

The rest of the words below are Joni's, not mine. The notes to the music that go with these words are alive in me. I hear this music.  I feel wistful.  I miss my holy wine.

like fine wine
I could drink a case of you

I remember that time you told me you said
"Love is touching souls"
Surely you touched mine
'Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time
Oh, you're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet

Oh but you are in my blood
You're my holy wine
You're so bitter, bitter and so sweet

what is purpose of reincarnation?

    What is the purpose of man’s repeated appearance on Earth?
    What is the purpose of man’s repeated appearance on Earth? If there were no connection between the various incarnations, the whole process would of course be senseless, but that is not how it goes. Think how different life was for a man who was incarnated a few centuries after Christ, compared with the conditions he will find when he reincarnates today. Nowadays a child’s life between the sixth and fourteenth years is taken up with acquiring knowledge: reading, writing, and so on. Opportunities for the cultivation and development of human personality are very different from what they were in the past. A man’s incarnations are ordered in such a way that he returns to the Earth only when he will find quite new conditions and possibilities of development, and after a few centuries they will always be there. Think how quickly the Earth is developing in every respect: only a few thousand years ago this region was covered with primeval forests, full of wild beasts. Men lived in caves, wore animal skins and had only the most primitive knowledge of how to light a fire or make tools. How different it all is today! We can see how the face of the Earth has been transformed in a relatively short time. A man who lived in the days of the ancient Germanic people had a picture of the world quite different from the picture which prevails today among people who learn to read and write. As the Earth changes, man learns quite new things and makes them his own.
    Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science – Lecture IV: Devachan – Stuttgart, 25th August 1906

beautiful public buildings

I have spent this afternoon in the main reading room of Berkeley, California's main library. The building is a beautiful art deco jewel. This beautiful jewel was chopped up, I think (but do not know) when the library accepted that it had to become wheel chair accessible. I think they used disability access as an excuse to permanently close the majestic, gorgeous original entrance to this beautiful building.

I try to come into the gorgeous  original public spaces in this gorgeous library on a regular basis to enjoy its beauty. I go down to the former main entrance and walk myself up the stairs, imagining as I climb the stairs that the grand gesture of this entrance embodies community values of respect for knowledge and beauty.

Our public buildings used to always be built with an eye towards making commentary about a community's shared values. Post offices used to always be jewels because they represented some of the best in this country's values. Getting the mail to every corner of the country is a beautiful thing. It used to be.

And city and state buildings for conducting the public business used to be build with the same consideration, to build public edifices that embody more than the functions within such buildings.

A grand staircase, a row of pillars spanning the front of a city hall, elaborate wooden judicial benches and beautiful courtrooms used to be the norm. Our public buildings were intentionally beautiful to remind us that coming together as a community, in shared interests.

The beauty of public buildings represents the beauty of people coming together to advance their shared interests. We all have a shared interest in survival, in getting our human needs met. How lovely that we used to create public projects to serve the public that aspired to beauty and, in doing so, reminded us of the fineness of people coming together to meet universal, shared needs. And if we can expand beyond need to beauty, to uplift ourselves and our communities with beauty and high aspirations, why the heck not?

we can count on so few: the dignity of love

How Relationships Refine Our Truths:  Adrienne Rich on the Dignity of Love

by Maria Popova 
“We can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.”
From her soul-stirring poetry to her timeless wisdom on love, loss, and creativity, beloved reconstructionist Adrienne Rich (May 16, 1929–March 27, 2012) endures as one of the most celebrated poets of the twentieth century, a remarkable woman of equal parts literary flair and political conviction. In a monumental manifestation of both, when Rich was awarded prestigious National Medal of Arts in 1997, the highest honor bestowed upon an individual artist on behalf of the people of the United States, she famously became the first and only person yet to decline the honor in a protest against the monopoly of power and the government’s proposed plan to end funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
But Rich was also a masterful writer of prose at the intersection of the philosophical, the political, and the deeply personal. In her essay titled “Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying,” originally read at the Hartwick Women Writers’ Workshop in June of 1975 and eventually included in the altogether fantastic anthology On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose 1966-1978 (public library), Rich adds to history’s finest definitions of love with eloquence that resonates with particularly poignant beauty in these days of historic change for the freedom and dignity of love:
An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.
It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.
It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.
It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.
How beautifully this lends itself to paraphrasing Rich’s memorable words from two decades later — “I don’t think we can separate art from overall human dignity and hope.” — to “I don’t think we can separate love from overall human dignity and hope.”

truth and the alchemy of lying

Adrienne Rich on Lying, What “Truth” Really Means, and the Alchemy of Human Possibility from

by Maria Popova 
“The possibilities that exist between two people, or among a group of people, are a kind of alchemy. They are the most interesting thing in life. The liar is someone who keeps losing sight of these possibilities.”
Long before Sam Harris’s memorable assertion that lying is “both a failure of understanding and an unwillingness to be understood,” long before psychologists identified the four most reliable ways to spot a liar, Adrienne Rich wrote beautifully about what is actually at stake when we lie and how lying in all of its permutations — especially those subtle everyday evasions and untruths we tend to attribute to circumstance or to the misguided mercy of sparing others pain — chips away at our basic humanity.
In a 1975 speech-turned-essay titled “Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying,” found in the indispensable volume On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose 1966–1978 (public library | IndieBound) — which also gave us Rich on how relationships refine our truths and her spectacular commencement address on claiming an education — she writes:
Lying is done with words, and also with silence.

Rich considers how, in relationships, we often use lying as a hedge against the discomfort of being truly seen:
The liar lives in fear of losing control. She cannot even desire a relationship without manipulation, since to be vulnerable to another person means for her the loss of control.
The liar has many friends, and leads an existence of great loneliness.
But the pathology of lying, she argues, doesn’t merely alienate us from others — it engenders the greatest loneliness of all, by cutting us off from ourselves:
The liar often suffers from amnesia. Amnesia is the silence of the unconscious.
To lie habitually, as a way of life, is to lose contact with the unconscious. It is like taking sleeping pills, which confer sleep but blot out dreaming. The unconscious wants truth. It ceases to speak to those who want something else more than truth.
The question of lies, Rich notes, invariably invokes the question of honesty and what “truth” really is:
There is nothing simple or easy about this idea. There is no “the truth,” “a truth” — truth is not one thing, or even a system. It is an increasing complexity. The pattern of the carpet is a surface. When we look closely, or when we become weavers, we learn of the tiny multiple threads unseen in the overall pattern, the knots on the underside of the carpet.
This is why the effort to speak honestly is so important. Lies are usually attempts to make everything simpler — for the liar — than it really is, or ought to be.
In lying to others we end up lying to ourselves. We deny the importance of an event, or a person, and thus deprive ourselves of a part of our lives. Or we use one piece of the past or present to screen out another. Thus we lose faith even within our own lives.
The unconscious wants truth, as the body does. The complexity and fecundity of dreams come from the complexity and fecundity of the unconscious struggling to fulfill that desire.

Pointing out the long history of “the lie as a false source of power,” Rich turns to women’s particular responsibility to one another in matters of truth:
Women have been driven mad, “gaslighted,” for centuries by the refutation of our experience and our instincts in a culture which validates only male experience. The truth of our bodies and our minds has been mystified to us. We therefore have a primary obligation to each other: not to undermine each other’s sense of reality for the sake of expediency; not to gaslight each other.
Women have often felt insane when cleaving to the truth of our experience. Our future depends on the sanity of each of us, and we have a profound stake, beyond the personal, in the project of describing our reality as candidly and fully as we can to each other.
When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her.
This notion of possibility, Rich argues, is central to the power of truth and the peril of lies in all human relationships:
The possibilities that exist between two people, or among a group of people, are a kind of alchemy. They are the most interesting thing in life. The liar is someone who keeps losing sight of these possibilities.
When relationships are determined by manipulation, by the need for control, they may possess a dreary, bickering kind of drama, but they cease to be interesting. They are repetitious; the shock of human possibilities has ceased to reverberate through them.
Rich weighs the difference between honesty and oversharing — one particularly poignant today, in an age of compulsive oversharing and very little actual honesty — in the context of honorable human relationships:
It isn’t that to have an honorable relationship with you, I have to understand everything, or tell you everything at once, or that I can know, beforehand, everything I need to tell you.
It means that most of the time I am eager, longing for the possibility of telling you. That these possibilities may seem frightening, but not destructive, to me. That I feel strong enough to hear your tentative and groping words. That we both know we are trying, all the time, to extend the possibilities of truth between us.
The possibility of life between us.
To fully inhabit this possibility requires, it seems, understanding the subtle but vital difference between trust and faith. Rich considers why “we feel slightly crazy when we realize we have been lied to in a relationship”:
We take so much of the universe on trust. You tell me: “In 1950 I lived on the north side of Beacon Street in Somerville.” You tell me: “She and I were lovers, but for months now we have only been good friends.” You tell me: “It is seventy degrees outside and the sun is shining.” Because I love you, because there is not even a question of lying between us, I take these accounts of the universe on trust: your address twenty-five years ago, your relationship with someone I know only by sight, this morning’s weather. I fling unconscious tendrils of belief, like slender green threads, across statements such as these, statements made so unequivocally, which have no tone or shadow of tentativeness. I build them into the mosaic of my world. I allow my universe to change in minute, significant ways, on the basis of things you have said to me, of my trust in you.
When we discover that someone we trusted can be trusted no longer, it forces us to reexamine the universe, to question the whole instinct and concept of trust. For a while, we are thrust back onto some bleak, jutting ledge, in a dark pierced by sheets of fire, swept by sheets of rain, in a world before kinship, or naming, or tenderness exist; we are brought close to formlessness.
Noting that common liar’s excuse of “I didn’t want to cause pain” is merely the liar’s unwillingness to deal with the other’s pain, Rich writes:
The lie is a short-cut through another’s personality.
Truthfulness, honor, is not something which springs ablaze itself; it has to be created between people.
Truthfulness anywhere means a heightened complexity. But it’s a movement into evolution.
On Lies, Secrets, and Silence is a spectacular read in its totality, a trove of timeless truths spoken by one of the most intensely interesting and important voices of the past century. Complement it with Rich on love, loss, and creativity, why an education is something you claim rather than something you get, her soul-stirring poem “Gabriel,” and the courageous letter in which she became the only person to decline the National Medal of Arts.

racism in Gallup, NM

I spent a week in Gallup over Christmas one year. My sister and niece were living there. My daughter, in her first year of college, joined us. Gallup, as some may know, is in the middle of massive Navajo lands. Navajo aren't the only Native Americans in that part of this country.

We took a trip to Zuni, hoping to see some Zuni culture. The town of Zuni was a couple old houses leftover from its mission days. The few buildings in Zuni town were closed the day we went there. We walked around and found a 'historical' plaque about the era when Catholic priests first arrived, I now know that Catholic missions were integral to the domination and attempt at total genocide of Native Americans.  Catholic missions in the west attracted Indians, then used them for slave labor and often killed them for government backed bounties. It was not just the law but the law incentivized the genocide of Native Americans.

The Zuni historical plaque stated that the first white settlers in Zuni land, Catholic priests, wrote to Rome that they did not believe the small, dark beings they found in Zuni were human.

I will write it again: The Catholic priests who settled Native American lands (i.e. stole Native American lands, exterminated Native Americans and steams away as much as their culture as possible) did not consider, or treat, the Zuni as humans. So, does that mean those men of God, those Catholic priests, consider the Zuni to be animals? I fear so.

Anyway. After preparing our Christmas meals with my sister's very skimpy collection of cooking gear, I went to the Gallup Walmart, the only place in town to buy pots and pans. I wanted to buy my sister a few things. The whole kitchen wares section was sold out the day after that Christmas. The store only sold cheap kitchen stuff but it was clear that amidst the deep poverty of the Navajo rez, cheap pots, pans and kitchen utensils were given as Christmas gifts.

I went to that Walmart the day after that Xmas to return something my sister did not want.

Like most places, the return lines were very long in that Walmart. Except for me and my white daughter, virtually everyone in that return line was Native American.

I got in line, having arrived with the expectation that every day after christmas return, I'd be in line for a long time.

But no. What to my eyes and ears did appear? After one cashier had completed a return transaction, she pointed to me, far back in the line, and waved me to come forward. I walked towards her only because I did not understand why she had addressed me.

She had waived me to the front of the line because I was white. The Indians could wait all day. But in Gallup NM in 1998, whites were waived to the front of the line. And the woman waiving me to the front was a Native American so she must have been told to give whites special treatment.

I told her I would wait my turn and went back to my spot in line.

Racism. Overt. Unashamed.

The saddest aspect of that sad scene:  no one but me objected to giving me priority based on my race. I was surrounded by busy moms and dads, kids clamoring kid demands, people who probably spent their time in line thinking what what they needed, how much money they had, how much the refund would be and how that refund could be used. Racism was something so integrated into that culture that no one protested when the sole white woman and her child were waived to the front of an hours-long line.

Remember Lurch from Addams Family?

There is a man in Berkeley who occasionally testifies about his support of development that is about fat profits for the rich, profits built on destroying Berkeley's affordability to teachers, sales clerks, maintenance staff, artists, activists.

I don't know the name of the man I am thinking of. At the kabuki theater of a city council meeting a few weeks ago, when the mayor held one damned meeting for the entire public of Berkeley's over 100,000 residents a couple hours to voice their opinions on what constitutes significant community benefits that should be demanded by our public servants from developers seeking to build above Berkeley's traditional 75 feet. I say make a for-profit driven anonymous investor coalition earn every inch above 75 feet with (1) mitigation of the losses the project will cause the city and (2) significant benefits to Berkeley.

Locating a high rise a block from BART, and keep in mind that public money built and pays for BART so using BART as a selling feature is another form of privatizing profit off publicly funded assets, steals from the commons.

The idea of mitigation and added significant benefits to an out of town interloper, err, I mean anonymous LLC investor (think of Citizen United and how it has corrupted politics even more than it was already) allows our public 'servants' to sell off public assets.  The same dynamic is unfolding at all levels of government) whose profits are largely derived from publicly funded commons assets and the overall quality of the creative, artistic, educated and intelligent community.

Anyway, there is a guy, a paid hack for a nonprofit with a deceptive name that gives the wrong impression that this nonprofit wants positive, truly innovative and truly affordable housing, occasionally testifies.

At the kabuki theater show of the council's hearing on what might constitute significant public benefits, this guy, who I think of as Lurch for he has a ghoulish appearance*, ran out of time with his hateful remarks. So he called out for the large crowd, large for a council meeting, to yield him a minute. No one would.

He took more time as he kept asking "Seriously?  I can't finish, I only need ten seconds, will no one yield me their time?"

I was pleased to see that no only would no one yield time to him, and many in that audience could have because many did not want to speak. I was even more pleased to hear hissing and booing. It was a highlight for me, to see Lurch booed away from the mic.

I watch the guy, on the rare occasions I find myself in the same space with him. I have never seen him smile, nor seen the light of a smile in his eyes. Lurch!

I did see him cheating at an information hearing held by my city councl rep a few weeks back. Everyone was given ten dots and asked to place dots, or 'vote', on the significant community benefits that were most important to them. I watched Lurch post about forty dots. I even asked him what gave him the right. A supporter of his, a young woman who is either entitled with prosperity and connections or who is just addlepated, said "I gave him mine".  I dropped my attempt to stop Lurch from cheating but it took some self restraint to not say "Your ten and his ten add up to 20. He's posting way more than 20."

Lurch cheated.

Lurch, just like the Addams Family Lurch, has a grayish pallor. He looks like what my dad used to call 'death warmed over".

You know. He looked like Lurch. He also talks like Lurch and when he speaks, he says dead things, dead because if his ideas are implemented, it will kill off the things that make Berkeley the interesting, creative, intellectual, fun and quirky place it is -- you know, all the good things about Berkeley is why anonymous investors and their hired-gun lobbyists want to rape Berkeley for profit.

she's up, she's down

I'm down today.  I just did my dishes. Doing the dishes usually cheers me up.

Not only did I do the dishes but I finally emptied the coat closet next to my front door. I took a bunch of stuff from this closet to 'Out of the Closet' a thrift shop in Berkeley.  I don't like to donate to Goodwill anymore, even though there is a Goodwill closer to me than "Out of the Closet'. Goodwill charges prices that shock me. Out of the Closet prices the way I am used to thrift shops pricing. 

I didn't want to give my bits and pieces of still-usable but no longer useful to me stuff to Goodwill to be overpriced.

Illustration:  I bought a cheap, small carry-on suitcase at the downtown SF Goodwill. I thoughtlessly paid $24 for this cheap thing. I could have bought a new cheapie at Target for $24 but I mindlessly bought it because I was about to take a trip and needed it.  Yesterday I bought a like-new suitcase, one I'll have to check that is a super light 'new' one. Today I am going to go back to Out of the Closet with my two large but heavy suitcases and donate them.

On my trip to the Midwest in February, with one of my heavy large suitcases, I resolved that I would never use such heavy luggage again.

Yesterday I scored a large but super light weight suitcase.I  have-to-check this new light one but I always check luggage, even the small carry on size stuff. And it's one of those suitcases with four wheels that you can roll easily like a cart. Price?  $6.50. Compare that to the old small suitcase at Goodwill for $24 with, I found out when I got home, bad zippers. Price gouging by a charity. Whoda thunk it?

Buying a suitcase confronts me with the truth:  I expect to be around awhile, I expect to take trips, I think I need a decent suitcase.

Huh. where might I be headed with this new-to-me, super-lightweight four-wheel suitcase?!!

out late

I was 'out' last night until midnight.

I have been out late regularly in recent months. City council meetings and some of my city's boards and commission meetings regularly run until midnight.

Last night, I was out late to socialize; this is rare for me. Being 'out late' reminds me of the years I rarely was out in the evening. As a single parent always skint, it was a stretch to go out to socialize, which nearly always costs money and pay for a babysitter. Plus I had a child with serious OCD issues. She hated it when I went out in the evening.

I have not had anywhere near enough fun in this life. Fun costs money. I am poor.

I want to go camping in Yosemite. I have a tent, a sleeping bag. I can pay for food. And I have lifetime free admission to all federal parks, at least until the Repugnant politicians in Congress sell off our national parks. Did you read about the proposal to build a massive luxury hotel in the Grand Canyon? You read it right. "IN" the Grand Canyon. Greed greed greed. Corruption. More greed.

I can't afford to go to Yosemite alone because to go camping alone, and I love to camp, I need to rent a car. I can't afford to rent a car for a few days.

For my sixtieth birthday, I asked friends to contribute to a trip I had hoped to take to Yosemite. Then something happened. I became too sick to go. I shifted my attention to health and spent my Yosemite money on a Vitamix.

Now I need three thousand dollars wor

Saturday, May 16, 2015

my daughter called me a feminazi

As a teenager, my daughter often accused me, in a tone that I did not experience as a respectful acknowledgement that I had a right to free thought and free speech, of being a feminazi.  I don't remember complaining about being called a feminazi but I may have tried to convince my daughter (but I don't remember this if I did it) that she was wrong if she thought the work of achieving gender equity was over. I believe she thought the fight for gender equity was over and I was a fool not to realize it.

And yet . . . women are still paid significantly less than men, women have to work harder, be better.

This is not a post about feminism. it is just a little flashback memory.

At ten-day Vipassana retreats, students are allowed to talk on the penultimate day, to help students prepare for returning to their lives and the world.

After one such retreat, with lots of college age girls chattering away with me, and telling me stories about their mothers, I remarked "My daughter used to always call me a feminazi." There was a brief pause in the chatter and then one astute young woman said, with sweetness and love, "I bet you love it that your daughter called you a feminazi."

I had never thought "I love it that Rosie calls me a feminazi" but the young woman was right. After her comment I realized I loved being seen as too feminist, a feminazi.

And. .. I now believe telling a woman she is a feminazi is a classic example of how the dominator culture suppresses women's power.  Shush her up when she voices enthusiasm for gender equity. A teenage girl saying such a thing, about her mother or any female, is not an insult to the other. It is an indication that the daughter has been oppressed by the dominator culture, acculturated to disrespect fearless women fighting for all people's rights.

give me fearlessness over mindfulness

Fearlessness, better than mindfulness. Mindfulness is sorta running its course, have you noticed?  People use the word but rarely give it serious reflection.

I know a lawyer trying to build a new branch of her career by teaching lawyers to use mindfulness in their law practices. She advises that six minutes of mindfulness, which she leaves vaguely and mutably undescribed -- or meaningless. Six minutes?

Fuck six minutes of mindfulness.  I meditate twice a day for an hour each time.

Pausing in silence for a couple minutes can have some mild benefit but it does not add up to the kind of mindfulness that can only be arrived at with years of deep meditation, years of silent reflections and years of serious study of the works of ascended masters.

Six minutes. PUHleaze.

fearless women: maybe they should be feared

A friend told me a short story about herself that I was happy to hear. She told the chair of one of Berkeley's puppet commissions* related to real estate development that she was fearless. This particular commission had decided, with no notice to the public, no notice to at least one of it's members but notice to the lobbyist for the proposed development, that the commission would not allow public comment at a public hearing.

My friend kicks ass. She told the chair she was prepare to get arrested that night because she was going to speak. The chair backed down after my friend told him "I am fearless".

I am grateful that fearless women keep entering my life.

I was inspired last week by another friend who has always been sweetly calm, cheerful and private. Yet, as she made comments at another public hearing, for another puppet city commission, she erupted with power. After wards, I complimented her on how powerfully she had spoken and she said "I am angry. I am not going to suppress my anger anynore. I'm angry."

For my whole life, essentially, I have been fearless. I don't edit in the way people pressure me to edit. My experience of cultural pressures for me to tamp down my powerful, fearless self is that people seek to diminish my power by talking about norms, telling me how I am wrong but such persons ignore the substance of what I said. When someone starts telling me I don't abide by cultural norms, I become both angrier and more fearless.

Cultural norms are never universal norms. Take any circle of people and ask them what they consider a norm in a given situation. Many people drift through life unconsciously assuming that what they consider normative is what everyone considers normative. Not. So not true. 

I let go of any attempt to abide by cultural norms when I realized norms are nothing more than a tool to suppress. And, far, far too often, it is men using putative norms to pressure women to tanp down their power.

Fuck that.

Life is a lot more fun when I can collaborate with other fearless women.

Come on in. Fearlessness is wonderful and powerful. It is just right. Like Goldilocks pursued the perfect bed, the perfect bowl of porridge, fearless women do what is 'just right'. "Just right" is whatever they want to do, and often involves speaking truth to power.

Fuck anyone who ever has told me, or ever will try to, that I should conform to nebulous norms. Fuck anyone who will only like and love me if I tamp myself down so much that I am suppressed, depressed, isolated and lost.

I've been hanging with a lot of powerful women lately and I fucking love it.

I have also been hanging with some fearless men. And of course I am biased. It seems to me a whole lot more women are fearless than men. I do know some awesome men who will also speak truth to power fearlessly.

I bought a $14 bottle of wine

At this price, I cannot afford to go on the red wine at bedtime diet. But I can share some wine with my attractive company.  One glass leaves me tipsy. I am definitely what is sometimes called a cheap date.

I don't even know what kind of wine it is. Red. Maybe a pinot noir. I wanted a merlot but there was no merlot, not anywhere there.

Tomorrow I'll find out if wine still makes me sick.

The store where I bought my wine carried one kind of wine that was organic. It was sold out.

I do much better with organic and esp. biodynamic wine. There is something in virtually all conventional, non-organic wine that leads to me feeling sick hungover. Some have suggested the sulfites in non-organic wine might be the culprit.

I am already regretting this foray into wine. I don't think I'll drink any. The cost of one bottle of mediocre wine is another reminder that drinking is not important to me.

I could go for a good, and icy cold, beer. But I have no beer.

drink wine to lose weight

Except for the occasional single cold beer on a hot summery day, I haven't drunk alcohol since I sat my first Vipassana sit in 2003. During that ten-day silent retreat, the teacher urged students to not drink alcohol. In a ten-day silent retreat, although students are supposed to avoid their thoughts and focus, part by part, on what sensations they can sense in their bodies, I often go off on very long ruminations of thought.

One of my departures from meditation involved thinking about alcohol. I always felt hungover, I reflected, even when I have only had one or two drinks. I realized I drank from habit, not from any desire to have the drink.  And then it came to me, like a big surprise, that I could stop feeling lousy after having one or two drinks. I could not drink alcohol.

I had never really been into wine or alcoholic drinks like cocktails. I had enjoyed an occasional beer.


I have read, a couple times, in recent days, that some experts* have suggested that drinking a glass of red wine just before going to bed is an effective weight loss technique.  The articles making this claim do not cite experts by name, nor do they reference actual studies.

Still, the stories gave me a laugh. And every now and then, the idea of having a glass of good wine, which I can't really afford, nightly as a weight loss technique wafts through my thoughts.

Back when I still drank socially, out of habit, only organic wine did not leave me feeling hungover.

What is added to most not-expensive wine that leaves me feeling hungover? Sulfites?

Biodynamic wine, which is expensive and deservedly so for it takes a lot of work to make good biodynamic wine, did not impact my body negatively.

And what about organic beer?  I wonder if organic beer would make me feel unwell. Do they sell biodynamic beer?

Yesterday, after getting a blood test at the lab next to Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley, I popped into Whole Foods. I was going to buy a roasted chicken but it was too early for roasted chicken. The store had a beer sale. 20% off all beers. I saw the sign and thought "I'll look to see if they sell organic beer, maybe I'll get a beer."

I was home before I remembered that I had that fleeting thought, to consider buying a beer.

I do like the idea that I can magically lose weight by drinking one glass of wine before bedtime.

Are their carbs in wine? Would I need to shoot some insulin with my bedtime glass of wine?  My endocrinologist just told me I should not be eating anything at bedtime because the fast-acting insulin I have to take whenever I eat carbs just isn't good for me at bedtime.  I won't see her again until July. I will try to remember to run this red wine at bedtime theory past her.

This can't be of interest to anyone but it is interesting to me. I am interesting to me.  I am enjoying watching my thoughts about this claim that a glass of red wine at bedtime will bring about weight loss. How could that possibly be reliably true?

Yet I find myself thinking "I will splurge, buy a bottle of biodynamic, very good wine." In these mental rambles, I imagine the wine I buy will be delicious, that I will have suddenly discovered I love wine. And I also magically imagine that I can afford to regularly buy good, expensive biodynamic wine.

Heck, the last bottle of wine I bought was a very good bottle of champagne.  I gave it to a friend when she was passing through Berkeley to open when she and her husband arrived at her new home in South Carolina.

Champagne always made me sick.

My dad was a teetotaler. My dad often would nurse a drink when he was at a social occasion at which folks drank. I think he feared appearing unmanly. He would take one drink, or one glass of beer -- I never saw my dad hold a glass of wine -- and hold it all evening without drinking it.  I wish my dad were not so concerned about what others thought of him. It's no one's business if a person does not drink.

Recently, at lunch with some lawyers to strategize about our local political activism, all the other chick lawyers at the table grilled me when I disclosed I do not drink. They brought up any kind of alcoholic beverage they could think of. You don't drink wine? You don't drink vodka?  You don't drink beer?  And, finally, you must smoke marijuana, right?  Nope on all counts. It was fun to see that some people are incredulous that a person simply does not buy into altering her mental state with drugs or alcohol.

I did more than my share of smoking marijuana. I smoked a lot of hash, a whole lot of hash. I did peyote. I did magic mushrooms. I did acid a couple times.

I have not done Ecstasy. A few people have sincerely urged me to try Ecstasy, telling me it offeres a truly wonderful 'trip', or experience being high.

I don't like being high. I don't like feeling sick hungover. I hate being drunk, as best as I can recall being drunk. I have not been drunk since my law school years.

It's funny, to me, that I am steadily challenged about my realization that I don't like drinking or using drugs. I know very liberal people who would accept a lot of things were I to choose freaky, alternative lifestyles. Yet my simple choice to not drink or do drugs challenges them.

Go figure.

But if someone could convince me that a glass of red wine at bedtime really would allow me to lose weight, I'd give that a try.

I think I am limited to my fantasies. I keep imagining that these glasses of red wine will be delicious but, truth told, I never found glasses of red wine to be delicious.  I have always drunk solely because the people I was socializing with were drinking.


I keep telling myself that I have to pull out of the slog of depression I am in.  I feel trapped in it. The only power I have to get out of it is my own thinking, feeling and willing.

Every day, many times each day, I speak to myself lovingly. I talk to myself in loving endearments, assuring Tree that she is lovable. These attempts have some positive results once in awhile.

I have realized, duh, that the ruts of not loving myself are cut deep.  I review memories of my childhood, my parents, my siblings. My parents did not love themselves and they didn't do a very good job loving their kids. Oh, they loved their kids but when a person does not love themselves, they cannot energetically demonstrate self love to their kids.

Then my thoughts turn to my daughter. I did not love myself well enough as I raised her and, I believe, by modeling inadequate self love to her, I also showed her that I was not worthy of her love.

I'm 61. It's too late. This work I am doing is hard. I have no emotional intimates. I have no one to support me in the hardest work of my life.

I am keening in grief and my sense of loss.

Friday, May 15, 2015

I wouldn't be afraid

"Stand By Me"

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No I won't be afraid
Oh, I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

So darling, darling
Stand by me, oh stand by me
Oh stand, stand by me
Stand by me

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
All the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won't cry, I won't cry
No, I won't shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darling, darling
Stand by me, oh stand by me
Oh stand now, stand by me
Stand by me

So darling, darling
Stand by me, oh stand by me
Oh stand now, stand by me, stand by me
Whenever you're in trouble won't you stand by me
Oh stand by me, oh won't you stand now, stand
Stand by me

This song written by Ben E. King.

didn't anyone tell you?

Back where I come from, the fly-over Midwest, public servants avoided even the appearance of impropriety. It was part of all lawyer's professional ethics in the states where I have been licensed to practice law.  Avoiding the appearance of impropriety was also the ethics of public servants.

This is not true in Berkeley or, as near as I can tell, anywhere in the country.  Now human culture seems to be driven by wealth and a drive for wealth. Even the very rich, with some exceptions, want more.

When my daughter was growing up and she would ask, even demand, things I did not want to buy her, so she would ask again and again, I would tell her she had the gimmees. Gimmee this, gimme that.  Nowadays politicans, public servants and, most corrupt of all, lobbyists all seem to have the gimmees. Gimme money for my campaign. Gimme your promise that you will order the city to give me the permits I want and, oh yes, here is your campaign donation.

Now I grew up in Chicago during the original Mayor Daly's regime.  My dad worked for the city and he dutifully volunteered as a precinct captain to deliver votes. Three of my four brothers and I all had jobs with the city. One brother still works for the city. None of us would have had those jobs if my dad had not had connections to insider city staff.

Nowadays, it seems to me, and, sadly, increasingly so, that politicians are only out for themselves and they see enabling the elite's greed for more money, more power and more privilege as a way to improve their own lot in life.

I was with a friend last night when I said, essentially, what I have just written. He intoned seriously, with no irony, "but Tree, dear, didn't anyone tell you? Democracy is dead."


I liked the 'Tree, dear". Last person who called me "Tree dear" was my grandma Joy. She died when I was in law school in the late seventies.

when the mind is without fear

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
-- Rabindtranath Tagore
 I very much want to edit this verse to erase the male gender:
"Into that heaven of freedom, Goddess, let my country awake."
"Into that heaven of freedom, let my country awake."

Anyone know how to pronounce Rabindtranath? ;-)