Friday, July 25, 2014

I am a snob and not a good person.

I guess I should hold off until BlogHer is over explaining why I am a snob and not a good person. So far, I see no one I want to talk to. Hope some of the breakouts are good.

introvert nightmare: speed dating to build community

It's kinda like a World Cafe only not. No organization. Someone told a huge room full of ten-seat round tables to pull a few tables together and meet, to build community for one's blog.

Most streams as fast as they could out of the room.

I fled, found a chair and am now waiting for the first breakouts. Choices. Decisions.

I have nothing left in me

"I have nothing left in me" is a common anxiety among bloggers.  Going big as a blogger is pretty arbitrary. Your audience can surge huge and then disappear and you think "I am nothing and have nothing left in me."

I can relate to audiences being hard to build but I never run out of something to write.  Then again, I have no theme so I can roam all over who I am, my life, my past, my future dreams. There is unlimited material for my blog.

off to BlogHer in San Jose

I last went to a BlogHer conference in 2006. It was one of the best conferences I ever attended.

I don't do well listening to speakers. I am a butterfly so breakouts tend to lose my interest. What was so awesome about BlogHer was being surrounded by hundreds of powerful, exciting women. I had not been in that kind of female energy before, or since.

Rock on. And I'll be blogging throughout the next two days.  Haven't worked out the kinks of my new website, which I hoped to have launched for BlogHer but, alas, no.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

mad dogs, englishman, climate change

My mom often sang "only mad dogs and englishmen go out in the noonday sun". When we were little, being of Irish descent so kids who burned very easily, she tried to keep us in during the sunniest part of the day.

Yesterday I was out all day, running a bunch of errands by bus. I had to wait for each bus and always in the hot sun. Mad dog kind of hot sun, which is rare in Berkeley. Usually the bay's moisture at least gives us the illusion that we aren't getting sunburned. Yesterday, I felt the sun burning my face and arms as it happened. Quite rare.

But I had to keep going. the public transit in the east bay raised their prices and instituted an all-day pass day with unlimited rides. I almost never take a bus but, by golly, having bought that unlimited-ride, all-day pass, I was going to get all my bus errands done on that pass.

A customer service rep at Apple had told me to go to the Apple Store in Berkeley so I did. It is closed until July 26th. The Apple Store in Emeryville is a pain to get to on public transit, plus I hate that Emeryville Bay Street paean to chain stores, consumerism and capitalism. It's a long bus ride to get there and then a long walk past chain stores to get to a chain store, Apple (yeah, it's a chain!).

I could have waited until the 26th but that would have meant my one-day unlimited bus pass would have gone to waste.

I was surprised I felt myself burning. I spend so much time in the sun that I had a low grade burn all the time, which acts a bit line a tan. I don't tan. I get a permanent, reddish burn and, usually with this reddish burn passing as a tan, I don't burn more.

The sun was burning yesterday, I tell ya.

love happiness bliss

Writing sweet dreams as the title of this post got Annie Lennox's song, Sweet Dreams, playing in my head, just the refrain 'sweet dreams'. The song is not very sweet. My sweet dreams as I slept overnight were.

I don't often remember my dreams. I remember feelings, energy but rarely the story. Maybe my dreams are a lot like the ones I had just now. I was very happy. I felt loving and beloved. Joy. Bliss. Soaring into more and more happiness.

I kept burrowing into my happy dream, not wanting to awaken.

I want to live in the energy of my dreams from this night and early morning.

I wonder if that could be what heaven might be like, feeling happy and loved.

I wonder if I could live in that energy while awake.




Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Berkeley weather

The weather in Berkeley and the whole SF Bay Area is not what most folks in the Midwest, where I come from, think. It's not warm much. It is only hot a few days a year. It gets down in the forties, even the thirties but it feels colder than that because of the constant fog rolling in and out. The humidity seems to seep into me.

I've lived here five years now and, dare I write it, I seem to be adopting. I'm not freezing all the time like I was when I first moved to Berkeley.

Here is a cold weather condition I love:  in the morning on these relatively warm, even hot days lately, it gets very cold just as the night ends and the day begins.  I love that. It cools my apartment off for the day, when the sun streams in if I don't close my blinds, which I don't because I'd rather be warm than miss that sun.

I love the sunshine here. It is, I think, sunnier in Southern California but it is so much brighter here than Seattle or Chicago. Minneaolis, where I lived over twenty years, has sunny, dry winters. It gets much colder there than Chicago or Berkeley or just about anywhere but the dryness makes it bearable, at least for me.

The morning sharp cold wakes me up. And very early. I love it. I feel alive when I shiver. Or when I am wet.

Once an acquaintance had dinner with me in Berkeley, arriving on a motorcycle but without his rain gear. Over dinner, he fretted about the possibility of rain. He asked "What will happen if it rains on my way home?: which was three miles from my home. I said "You will get wet" and stopped there but I wanted to say "It would feel good to me to get wet, then cold and then throw off all those cold wet clothes and take a long hot shower. I'd feel more alive. Getting wet, getting cold:  being alive, homie."  All I said was "you get wet" because this person seemed to get uset by almost anything I said. He seemed to hear criticism about him when I almost never felt any. I loved him. I still think he is one of the most wonderful beings I've ever known. A pinga. A pixie. A faerie. And a powerful shaman. But not my friend. Sigh.

I am amazed that he could allow his own imagined negativity, which he projected onto me, to allow himself to lose someone who likes and loves him as much as I do.  I hope he finds his way to feeling more comfortable being himself. Or maybe he just was never comfortable with me.

some lives do not matter less

The idea that some lives matter less than others is so wrong that I believe it is evil.
 What say you?

Summer Stars by Carl Sandburg

SUMMER STARS Carl Sandburg
BEND low again, night of summer stars.
So near you are, sky of summer stars,
So near, a long arm man can pick off stars,
Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl,
So near you are, summer stars,
So near, strumming, strumming,
So lazy and hum-strumming.

If my memory is accurate, Carl Sandburg either was from Chicago or did his major work there. I remember taking much local pride in his poetry.  I read a lot of it in grade school. I remember thinking he captured the grit and glory of Chicago apparent, as this poem shows, also the beauty of its summer stars.

when someone has a complex

Here is part of the wikipedia on complexes. I only share Jung's ideas. Freud only looked at the Oedipus and Elektra complexes. Jung's ideas were more expansive and, I think, more inclusive.  Here is the part of the wiki entry most interesting to me. Google it if you want to read the whole thing.   I have emphasized a few points that seem particularly salient to me, which does not meant they are salient. I put my emphases in blue.

Jung's theory of complexes with key citations

Early in Jung's career, he developed the concept of the "complex", A "complex" meaning a personal unconscious, core pattern of emotions, memories, perceptions, and wishes organized around a common theme (Shultz and Shultz, 2009). According to Jung's personality theory, complexes are building blocks of the psyche and the source of all human emotions. Complexes are thought to operate "autonomously and interfere with the intentions of the will, disturbing the memory and conscious performance".
Jung included the ego in a broadly comprehensive theory of complexes, often referring to it as the ego-complex as illustrated when he said "by ego I understand a complex of ideas which constitutes the center of my field of consciousness and appears to possess a high degree of continuity and identity. Hence I also speak of an ego-complex" (Jung, [1921] 1971: par 706). Me talking:  I agree with the idea that there can be an ego-complex but it would be different in each person, much like each person and their ego is different. What interests me most, here, is that a complex can limit one's ability to exercise their will, to make choices consciously. In a complex, one does not always live consciously and one's will can be lost a bit. Or lost a lot.  Love, genuine unconditional love, loves around an inpediment like a complex, trusting that the beloved we first loved will return, like in Steiner's Faithfulness verse I often cite.

Jung often used the term "complex" to describe a usually unconscious, repressed, yet highly influential symbolic material that is incompatible with the consciousness (Daniels, 2010). Daniels (2010) described complexes as "'stuck-together' agglomerations of thoughts, feelings, behavior patterns, and somatic forms of expression". Jung spoke of one specific type of complex, an autonomous feeling-toned complex, when he said "what then, scientifically speaking, is a 'feeling-toned complex'? It is the image of a certain psychic situation which is strongly accentuated emotionally and is, moreover, incompatible with the habitual attitude of consciousness. This image has a powerful inner coherence, it has its own wholeness and, in addition, a relatively high degree of autonomy, so that it is subject to the control of the conscious mind to only a limited extent, and therefore behaves like an animated foreign body in the sphere of consciousness." (Jung, [1960] 1969:par. 201)  Me:  this point seems very imortant, the idea that a complex has inner coherence and only subject to the conscious mind in a limited way. Demanding those we love behave as we think they should is pointless if someone is in their complex, if they are unable to act from their will, not from any conscious choice. Again, this illustrates the beautiful power of love, loving our beloveds around human imperfection, even lack of consciousness, even comples.

Some complexes usurp power from the ego and can cause constant psychological disturbances and symptoms of neurosis (Daniels, 2010). Me: Aint this the truth. With intervention, it may become conscious and greatly reduced in their impact (Daniels, 2010). Jung described the power complexes can hold when he said "what is not so well known, but far more important theoretically, is that complexes can have us.   Me:  so I say love the ones you love, accept them and love them, as Shakespeare indicated in Sonnet 116, around impediments. A complex is just one of endless impediments. 

The existence of complexes throws serious doubt on the naive assumption of the unity of consciousness, which is equated with 'psyche,' and on the supremacy of the will. TOTALLY, people can lose the supremacy of their will, although Rudolf Steiner gave many exercises to develop the human's will capacity. It's hard work and not everyone sees that such work is need, or possible or knows how to do it. Read Steiner to know how. 

Every constellation of a complex postulates a disturbed state of consciousness. The unity of consciousness is disrupted and the intentions of the will are impeded or made impossible. Even memory is often noticeably affected, as we have seen. The complex must therefore be a psychic factor which, in terms of energy, possesses a value that sometimes exceeds that of our conscious intentions, otherwise such disruptions of the conscious order would not be possible at all. And in fact, an active complex puts us momentarily under a state of duress, of compulsive thinking and acting, for which under certain conditions the only appropriate term would be the judicial concept of diminished responsibility" (Jung, [1960] 1969:par. 200).
On the other hand, Jung identified the development of the differentiating functions as essentially the development of useful complexes. However, even here there are often undesirable side effects.
It is true that we do not refer to this [training and development of functions] as obsession by a complex, but as one-sidedness. Still, the actual state is approximately the same, with this difference, that the one-sidedness is intended by the individual and is fostered by all the means in his power, whereas the complex is felt to be injurious and disturbing. People often fail to see that consciously willed one-sidedness is one of the most important causes of an undesirable complex, and that, conversely, certain complexes cause a one-sided differentiation of doubtful value. (Jung, [1960] 1969:par. 255)
In Psychological Types, Jung describes in detail the effects of tensions between the complexes associated with the dominant and inferior differentiating functions in highly and even extremely one-sided types.
In the foregoing descriptions I have no desire to give my readers the impression that these types occur at all frequently in such pure form in actual life. They are, as it were, only Galtonesque family portraits, which single out the common and therefore typical features, stressing them disproportionately, while the individual features are just as disproportionately effaced (Jung, [1921] 1971: par 666).

In the 7th grade, sure there was something wrong with me, I read all the books by Carl Jung that my local library had. Then I moved on to the existentialists, which was a mistake for my young self. The June stuff soothed me, however.

Bertoldt Brecht on dark times & singing

Plus a good essay by William Ayers, U of Illinois at Chicago,  professor of very liberal persuasion. The Repugs tried to tar Obama with the fact that Ayers and Obama attended a few of the same events as younger adults. Ayers is a good man. And this is a good essay that quotes the Brecht poem I sometimes console myself with:

Singing in Dark Times
William Ayers
Distinguished Professor of Education
Senior University Scholar
University of Illinois at Chicago
Bertolt Brecht raised a question in his poem “Motto”:
In dark times
Will there also be singing?
His answer:
Yes, there will be singing.
About the dark times. 
Our work here and now is in part to sing the dark times.  We begin by waking up, by opening our eyes to the reality before us, the beautiful and the hopeful no less than the difficult, the tragic, the ugly.  We cannot separate our own lives from the concentric circles of context—historic flow and economic condition, political situation and cultural surround—that make them more fully understandable and meaningful.   
Many have watched with anger and a gathering horror as the country has marched step-by-step toward a definitive authoritarianism:
  • Empire resurrected in the name of a renewed and powerful patriotic nationalism.
  • War without end.
  • Identification of opaque and ill-defined enemies as a unifying cause.
  • Unprecedented and unapologetic military expansion and militarism.
  • White supremacy changing form but essentially intact and unyielding.
  • Rampant sexism.
  • Growing surveillance in every sphere of life.
  • Mass incarceration and disenfranchisement.
  • Entangling of religion with government.
  • Growing disparities between the haves and have-nots on a global scale.
  • The shredding of constitutional rights, the casual disregard for human rights, and the systematic hollowing out of democracy. 
  • Corporate power unchecked, the ideology of the “market” promoted as the only true expression of participatory democracy.
  • Fraudulent elections.
  • A steady drum-beat of “public secrets”—obvious lies issued by the powerful, like “We don’t torture,” whose purpose is both future deniability as well as evidence of power’s ability to have its way regardless of law or popular will.
  • Disdain for the arts and for intellectual life. 
  • The creation of popular movements based on bigotry, intolerance and the threat of violence, and the scapegoating of certain targeted and vulnerable groups.
This is, of course, not the whole story, but it is without doubt a bright thread that is both recognizable and knowable.
It’s important here to make a distinction between personal virtue—be honest, do your work, show up on time—and social or community ethics.  Personal virtue is an undisputed good in almost every society, but we would be hard-pressed to say a slave owner who paid his bills and was kind to his wife was an ethical person.  We need to think about how we behave collectively, how our society behaves, how the contexts of politics and economics, for example, interact with what we hold to be good.  Most of us, after all, most of the time follow the conventions of our cultures—most Spartans act like Spartans, most Athenians like Athenians, most Americans like Americans.  To be a person of moral character in an unjust social order requires us to work to change society.  
Central to an education for citizenship, participation, engagement, and democracy—an education toward freedom—is developing in students and teachers alike the ability to think for themselves.  To question.  To imagine alternatives.  The core lessons of a liberating education are these: We each have a mind of our own; we are all works in progress swimming toward an uncertain and indeterminate shore; we can join with others in order to act on our own judgments and in our own freedom; human progress and freedom are always the result of thoughtful action. 
Schools for obedience and conformity are characterized by authoritarianism and irrelevance, passivity and fatalism.  They turn on the little technologies for control and normalization in classrooms—the elaborate schemes for managing the crowd, the knotted system of rules and discipline, the exhaustive machinery of schedules and clocks, the laborious programs of testing and grading, assessment, judgment, and evaluation, all of it adding up to a familiar cave, an intricately constructed hierarchy—everyone in a designated place and a place for everyone.  Knowing and accepting one’s pigeonhole on the vast and barren mountainside becomes all the lesson one needs.
The African-American thinker and educator Carter G. Woodson wrote his great work, The Mis-education of the Negro, in 1933 with the central argument turning on these issues.  He was concerned with the power schools had to make people stupid:
When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions.  You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder.  He will find “his proper place” and will stay in it.  You do not need to send him to the back door.  He will go without being told.  In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit.  His education makes it necessary. 
“His education makes it necessary”—the stakes for Woodson were both stupendous and monstrous: participatory democracy versus an empty shell, a nation of sheep versus a collective of citizens, freedom versus slavery. 
School has always been and will always be contested space—What should be taught?  In what way?  Toward what end?  By and for whom?—and at bottom the struggle is over the essential questions: What does it mean to be human?  What does it mean to construct a meaningful, purposeful, and valuable life in the world, here and now?  What demands does freedom make?
On the side of a liberating and humanizing education is a pedagogy that has as its beginning and end identical points on a circle: the act of questioning.  This pedagogy of questioning opens rather than closes spaces of curiosity, perspective, dialogue, and imagination.  It’s modus operandi is generous, not stingy; revealing, not concealing; unmasking, exposing, embracing.  It’s a tool that promotes intellectual growth, awakens curiosity, encourages skill development, and a lot else.  And at its core this pedagogy of questioning demands something altogether different, something upending and revolutionary from students: Repudiate your subordinate place in the pecking order, it urges, remove that distorted, congenial mask of compliance.  You must change.  All of this requires a radical rethinking of the relationship of teacher and student, students and learning, schools and society, education and justice.  The time is late.  The struggle is now. 
Rosa Luxemberg, the German revolutionary jailed for publicly opposing World War I, wrote to a friend from prison, urging her, she said, to be a mensch, a Yiddish word loosely translated as a person who does good in the world.  A mensch, she elaborated, is someone who loves his or her own life enough to celebrate each sunrise and sunset, to admire the shape of the clouds, to enjoy well-prepared and healthy food, to invest in friends and loved ones.  But a mensch must also be willing to put his or her shoulder on history’s great wheel when required.  So, a full and passionate embrace of the life we’re given combined with an eagerness to oppose suffering and injustice.  Both.

Woodson, C. G. (1933).   The miseducation of the Negro. Washington DC: Associated Publishers. 

Pete Seeger: it's darkest before the dawn, take heed

I hope the light returns to human culture. It sure seems to be getting darker.  Here are the poetic lyrics.


Don't you know it's darkest before the dawn
And it's this thought keeps me moving on
If we could heed these early warnings
The time is now quite early morning
If we could heed these early warnings
The time is now quite early morning

Some say that humankind won't long endure
But what makes them so doggone sure?
I know that you who hear my singing
Could make those freedom bells go ringing
I know that you who hear my singing
Could make those freedom bells go ringing

And so keep on while we live
Until we have no, no more to give
And when these fingers can strum no longer
Hand the old banjo to young ones stronger
And when these fingers can strum no longer
Hand the old banjo to young ones stronger

So though it's darkest before the dawn
These thoughts keep us moving on
Through all this world of joy and sorrow
We still can have singing tomorrows
Through all this world of joy and sorrow
We still can have singing tomorrows

Words and Music by Pete Seeger (1969)
(c) 1969 by Fall River Music Inc.

love around impediments like anger

This Steiner verse is about loving people around the impediment of their human imperfection. It's all about listening to angry words with love and hearing the angry speaker's sense of pain, vulnerability and lack of clarity regarding whether or not they are loved by the person they have become angry with.  This verse is genius.

Create for yourself a new, indomitable perception of faithfulness. What is usually called faithfulness passes so quickly. Let this be your faithfulness:

You will experience moments.... fleeting moments.... with the other person. The human being will appear to you then as if filled, irradiated with the archetype of his spirit.

And then there may be.... indeed will be.... other moments, long periods of time, when human beings are darkened. But you will learn to say to yourself at such times: "The Spirit makes me strong. I remember the archetype. I saw it once. No illusion, no deception shall rob me of it."

Always struggle for the image that you saw. This struggle is faithfulness. Striving thus for faithfulness, we shall be close to one another, as if endowed with the protective powers of angels.

Rudolf Steiner

a Fit Flex

Someone who loves me has gifted me a Fit Flex, something I have wanted for awhile. I am sure counting all my steps will encourage me to walk even more than I already do, which is a lot.

Fit Flex does not measure swimming, which irritates me. I swim laps so much. But weight bearing exercise like walking is also good.

Maybe I'll even start using the machine at the sports rec center at UC, where I am a member.

Fit fit fit.  I want to be fit and healthy.
Almost ten years ago I met a man who is still a dear friend.  Neither of us had dated anyone in a couple decades but I, unlike him, had had many close friends.

When he and I first got to know one another, he often would pause to remark "Gosh, it's been years since I talked to someone about stuff like this."

I wish that I had asked him what he meant by 'stuff like this'. We did not have particulately intimate conversations, other than the time I disclosed that I had been celibate a very long time. He was taken aback, lapsed into silence a bit. Then rubbed his long beard and said "It's been almost that long for me."  I had given him an exact number of years. I had a sense that it had really been as long for him as me but he felt awkward about saying so.

Other than that one exchange, I can't imagine what his life had been like in the many years, he asserted, that he had not really talked to anyone as he and I talked.

We went to a few art galleries and museums together, having discovered a shared interest in painting. We talked about art. We talked about our shared work interesting.

Gosh, this man lived in a Berkeley commune, technically a co-op, one he had founded back in the sixties. How could he live in a co-op, with weekly meetings, and never talk to anyone?  Plus his work is consulting to nonprofits and government agencies, designing, planning and facilitating strategic dialogues.  His work is all talk.

Once, when I treated him to dinner for putting me up in his co-op's guest room to attend a conference in SF, for I still lived in Seattle when we first met, he said "You know, I think I haven't found a girlfriend for so long because I don't meet many women with the kind of relationship skills I am looking for. You seem to have such skills."

I had not dated anyone in over twenty years, not since my ex-husband had demanded I abort the baby he had pretended, evidently, he wanted to have with me. When we got engaged, we discussed wanting children. We also agreed to wait two years to start trying to have our first, so we might both establish our legal careers a bit before a baby came along.

I had chattered steadily during those two years. I charted my flow on the kitchen calendar. I announced which days were my fertile flow days. I got to know my body very well. I could feel it when I ovulated each month. Once I ovulated, I was fertile and likely to get pregnant. I couldn't get pregnant because I was using birth control. I charted ny flow so when the two years were up, I would get pregnant as quickly as possible.  He had two years to tell me he didn't want to have a baby with me. Sure it would have been a hard conversation  for him to initiate but, criminy, it was hellish to only find out after I had conceived our daughter the first time we tried that he did not want a baby with me. He said since I believed in abortion and a woman's right to choose, I had to get one if he wanted one because he also had a right to choose.

After that, I was terrified to have sex again. If I couldn't trust my husband about having a child, how could I trust another man?  Flawed logic, perhpas, but it is the logic I built the next 20 years or so of my life on.  I never noticed men. Then I got fat, from taking psychotropics that make people pack on weight. The fat felt like a safety buffer and I didn't really mind being fat.

I lived in painful fear of men. Men did not exist for me except in functional ways. I had to interact with men for work. I had to interact with my daughter's male Waldorf teacher. I was on the board of her school and many males were on the board.  No men, however, had registered as quite real to me. I blocked something in my own being off which prevented me from feeling men.

I didn't quite know I did this. I was numb, guarded, protective.

I did not tell this story to the man I began writing about.  I only told him I had not dated anyone in about 20 years.

When he told me, at that restaurant, where I treated him to dinner for letting me use his guestroom, that he thought I might have the skills for the kind of relationship he wanted, I pretended I did not realize he was trying to talk to me about the two of us trying to date.  I think I might have hurt his feelings.  I ignored his overture, and he made others in the following months, because I had become deeply infatuated with his business partner.  I was also attracted to Ken, but not as intensely as I was to his business partner, Marc.  I believed I could not be a good girlfriend to Ken while being utterly infatuated with his work partner.  His partner lived with a woman so he was not free to date me but I felt I couldn't due justice to Ken given my intense attraction to his business partner.

Eight years later, Ken and I are still friends. About a year after he met me, he met a woman he fell i love with and she with him. They are very happy together. I am glad we never dated, never became lovers.

As for Marc, his girlfriend asked him to leave about a year and a half after we met. He called me up and said "let's take this relationship as far as it can go". It went about three weeks. We did not quarrel. I don't know what happened. We had planned, and bought tickets, to go to a concert in Seattle, made flight arrangements and agreed to stay with my best friend up there.  Then, and I still have no idea why, he sent me the concert tickets and said he had never been committed to going.  I have no idea what changed for him.

Marc and I danced around dating one another off and on for seven years. Then last August, when I turned sixty, he invited me out to dinner to celebrate. I suggested lunch instead because he often voiced concern about his low income. Lunch is cheaper. We had seen one another twice within a week or so of that birthday lunch.  Each time I had talked about my love of birthdays. And he has known, since he first knew me, that I make a fuss about my birthdays for a specific reason.

When I was 46, my daughter told me that now that she was in the Ivy League and on her way to a successful life, she wanted nothing more to do with me. Of course this broke me in ways that I don't think will ever mend, not even if she were to come back into my life, which I don't think she will.

When Katie had been an infant, I was in therapy for depression. I knew I had to divorce the man who had tried to force me to abort a baby we had planned and, obviously, conceived together. I didn't know he was pretending. I didn't know he was poorly informed about the birds and the bees. When I asked him "Why did you have sex with me when I said "let's have sex today, I'll get pregnant for sure" if you didn't want to have a baby?" He said he had not believed I could get pregnant just by charting my flow, knowing when I was fertile, etc.  He also said he did not believe I could get pregnant the first month I tried.

I guess he had not paid attention to me during my nonstop chatter about conception, fertile flow, having my IUD removed, what my gynecologist had advised, and more. 

don't let this happen!!!

It would be easier to go swimming with jiggling thighs, which I do quite a lot irregardless of the fat bigotry rampant in this country, if others did not derive pleasure, or perhaps a sense of superiority, by looking down on beautiful bodies with thighs higgling and a not-flat tummy.

It hurts to be discounted as less valuable for being fat. And folks who aren't fat likely have no idea of the steady comments fat people get. Every single bigoted remark about fatties hurts. At least it hurts me.

I've always been a lap swimmer, when I was young and slim, as I fattened up and now as I slim down. I know many who limit themselves because they are fat. I know many more who treat me as something less because i am fat, not introducing me to their friends or family, not socializing with me as they do slim friends, or prettier friends, or rich ones.  It hurts. A lot.

One thing I like about swimming, and there is a lot I like about swimming, is how all are equal in the group showers.

everyone makes mistakes

My daughter loved Sesame Street. She loved Big Bird, of course, but Snuffleupagus was actually the first word she said that I understood.  Pretty smart for an 8 or 9 month old baby to say Snuffleupagus.

I think most babies talk sooner than most parents realize. They roll their sounds together as they learn langauge and many adults are only listening for the way the adults speak.  I learned this with my baby brother and sister. I could understand both of them long before anyone else.

Anyway, as Big Bird sings here, "everyone makes mistakes so why can't I?"

the nature of friendship

Friendship, from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The above link takes you to the full entry on friendship in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a lovely resource I discovered years ago when trying to understand how someone could profess friendship with me while telling me he feared and distrusted me. This person also took actions in the world that demonstrated his fear and distrust. When I told him trust was an essential element of friendship and his profession of friendship for me did not seem right to me, for without trust, there is no friendship.

And, just for the record, if someone feels distrust, the distrust is theirs. The person they distrust is not necessarily untrustworthy. I certainly am trustworthy but I learned, in this challenging relationship, that when I am steadily confronted with another's fear and distrust, I am affected. Affected negatively. I wobble in my equanimity. I slide into pain. And when in deep pain, in my human imperfection, I slide into disequilibrium. In this particular relationship, it was four or five years before I showed anger but then the man retroactively seemed to justify his years of fear and distrust. He never seemed to acknowledge, even to himself, that his fear and distrust was like a toxic, odorless, corrosive power that affected me. This man often remarked "people affect us".

I wonder if he ever considered how his behavioral choices affected me. He sure didn't seem to.

Anyone meditating on what friendship means to them might get some insight by reading the linked article. I am going to refer to the article by summarizing it.

The thing I liked most about this article on friendship is that it lists the elements of friendship. I am trained as a lawyer. In the law, most legal concepts get broken down into essential elements.A tort has to have certain essential elements to be an actionable tort.  A crime has to meet all the elements of a crime to be a crime.  Contracts have certain essential elements that provide a container for infinite contractual agreements but the essential element must be present to be an enforceable contract.

I think in terms of 'elements' to grasp concepts I am grappling with, perhaps a leftover habit from my legal traiing. Come to think of it, legal training is philosophy. Every legal opinion, which is mostly what law students study, involves philosophy.

The elements of friendship are:

  • Mutual caring. Friends care what their friends think, feel, want and need and show they care.
  • Intimacy -- emotional intimacy which is achieved by spending time together, exchanging one another's thoughts, feelings, life stories, goals, interests, etc.
  • Shared activity, i.e. spending time together. Friendship time is not the same as co-worker time. Friends spent time together because they like one another, care about one another and want to spend time together. If you play tennis with someone you are not close to, that is not Aristotle's idea of shared activity. Friendship shared activity has to be solely for the purpose of two friends spending time together, nothing more. It is an essential element of friendship.
The article quotes several philosophers, who mostly discuss friendship in terms of the elements, above, outlined by Aristotle. Here is a paragraph I like. If you need specific attribution, I have provided the link to the article which is filled with academic anotations and attributions.

Yet friendship is not merely instrumentally valuable, as is hinted at by Annis’ claim that “our lives would be significantly less full given the universal demise of friendship” (1987, 351). Cooper (1977b), interpreting Aristotle, provides two arguments for why this might be so. First, Cooper's Aristotle claims, living well requires that one know the goodness of one's own life; however, given the perpetual possibility of self-deception, one is able accurately to evaluate one's own life only through friendship, in which one's friend acts as a kind of mirror of one's self. Hence, a flourishing life is possible only through the epistemic access friendship provides. Second, Cooper's Aristotle claims that the sort of shared activity characteristic of friendship is essential to one's being able engage in the sort of activities characteristic of living well “continuously” and “with pleasure and interest” (310). Such activities include moral and intellectual activities, activities in which it is often difficult to sustain interest without being tempted to act otherwise. Friendship, and the shared values and shared activities it essentially involves, is needed to reinforce our intellectual and practical understanding of such activities as worthwhile in spite of their difficulty and the ever present possibility that our interest in pursuing them will flag. Consequently, the shared activity of friendship is partly constitutive of human flourishing.

I love this line:  "The shared activity of friendship is partly constitutive of human flourishing."

Another great paragraph from the Stanford Philosophy enclopedia entr on friendship:

A question closely related to this question of the value of friendship is that of what justifies my being friends with this person rather than with someone else or no one at all. To a certain extent, answers to the question of the value of friendship might seem to provide answers to the question of the justification of friendship. After all, if the value of friendship in general lies in the way it contributes (either instrumentally or constitutively) to a flourishing life for me, then it might seem that I can justify particular friendships in light of the extent to which they contribute to my flourishing. Nonetheless, this seems unacceptable because it suggests—what is surely false—that friends are fungible. (To be fungible is to be replaceable by a relevantly similar object without any loss of value.) That is, if my friend has certain properties (including, perhaps, relational properties) in virtue of which I am justified in having her as my friend (because it is in virtue of those properties that she contributes to my flourishing), then on this view I would be equally justified in being friends with anyone else having relevantly similar properties, and so I would have no reason not to replace my current friend with someone else of this sort. Indeed, it might even be that I ought to “trade up” when someone other than my current friend exhibits the relevant friendship-justifying properties to a greater degree than my friend does. This is surely objectionable as an understanding of friendship.
The whole article is great. It's been significantly updated and edited since I first found it in 2010. When I first found it, I shared with someone I believed was my friend -- he said he was but did not act in a manner in alignment with the elements of friendship -- and I toild him Aristotle's elements of friendship, he scoffed at me and said "So you are going to give power to someone else's thought process and not form you own?"

Aristotle's thinking is good enough for me.

I have more to say but a busy day ahead.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

listen beyond angry words

Usually, at least for me, when I am speaking in anger, I am frightened, insecure, lacking clarity, feeling and vulnerable. 

When someone is angry with me, and this has been my practice for decades, I listen past their angry words.  I do a little more than that.  I remind myself I love the angry person and believe they love me. I actually visualize love emanating from my heart to their heart. I also visualize this love emanating from my heart to another's as a neon ray, zigging and zagging both around the words I am hearing and the love I know exists between us. Imagine a pinball game, with the ball a red neon light pinging and bouncing around. That's a bit like what I see and how I think when someone voices anger towards me.

I am proud of this practice.  When I am grounded and feel clarity and security in a friendship, I can hear a loved one say just about anything and not get hurt or triggered.  I just qualified my assertion that I can listen to angry words with love and I will repeat myself:  I need to be secure, believe I am loved and have clarity about being loved by the other.

a true friend, i.e. a friend

I do have such friends. I love them unconditionally back.

an open internet is not a neutral one

On the FCC page connected to comments about the telecommunications industry lobbyist Obama appointed to head the FCC, there is a propaganda page about 'the open internet'. The right is so used to snowing the sheeple into ignoring their verbal tricks ad feints that they do it on auto pilot, I think. Go over there and read the page that says an open internet will be what the people want.

Open is not neutral

Country clubs are open but you only get in if you are a member or a guest of a member, and the member pays for the privilege.

Costco is open all day every day but it is not open neutrally Only members can buy things at Costco. The store is open but not neutrally, not to all.

The comment period is over but we can still blast the white house website letting Obama know we are angry that he chose a telecommuications insider, who will surely be richly rewarded by the private sector after he destroys the people-created commons known as the internet.

How could Obama do that?

an invincible summer

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. - Albert Camus

how to know if ur an empath

I love Apple's extended warranty

The last time I bought a Macbook Pro outright was in the fall of 2009. Two years later, Apple replaced that computer with a faster one with much more memory because they no longer sold the one I bought in '08. 

Apple refunded a pro-rated amount for my Applecare warranty, which I applied to buy a new extended warranty. The new warranty ran me about $190 because I had the credit.

In May 2013, Apple again replaced the computer I had got in 2012 with another brand new one.

These two machines were both lemons. Each of them had a couple hard drive replacements and a host of other problems. I was constantly sending it in for repair.

In March 2013, once again, lemon replacement, warranty rebate and new warranty.

My current computer is good, warrantied, anyway, until March 2016.

I spent $1,200 on a refurbished macbook pro back in '09. That price plus warranties makes for sweet deals. Of course it was a huge pain in the neck to have two lemons that had to be repaired many times.

I am not sure if this is a plus, but my current machine, given to me under warranty replacement in March 2013, has not had any problems. No repairs. I am about to get my third cord. The cord design seems idiotic to me.

true?: u r exactly where u need to be

Monday, July 21, 2014

only way to avoid criticism

There is only one way to avoid criticism: 
  • do nothing,
  • say nothing,
  • and be nothing.


my pain is not special

I tend to amp up my misery by thoughts that my pain is more painful than others.


My pain is not special.

hot buttered popcorn

A few times in my childhood, in frigid Chicago winter on Saturdays, my dad would suggest whatever friend I had over playing, because it was so cold outside, and I should go door-to-door selling hot buttered popcorn.

In those days, the early sixties, you could buy 100 paper lunch bags for ten cents, a pound of popcorn was ten cents or less and butter was cheap but I forget the price.

Dad would pop the popcorn. My friend and I would fill up as many paper lunch bags, half full, as we could fit into one of those very lightweight styrofoam coolers you could buy for a dollar. My dad always had several of those coolers around for the many spontaneous picnics he took us on in the forest preserves that surrounded Chicago. I guess there are even a couple forest preserves, slightly different than parks, in the city, too.

Then my friend and I would bundle up and go door-to-door offering bags of hot buttered popcorn for ten cents. Virtually everyone who answered their door bought at least one bag, usually more. We'd sell out fast and go home to reload our supplies.

I loved doing that. I loved my dad for coaxing us into doing it. And I loved this thing he did, always, when he helped his kids organize some make-money scheme like kool-aid stands or door-to-door hot popcorn in winter. He would deduct the cost of the supplies from our money haul, then split what was left fifty fifty with me and my friend. When my friend left, dad would give me the supply costs he had deducted.

I can't even get being an introvert right

I've been going to social events a lot more in recent months than I am used to.  I like, and want, a few close friends. I get all my social needs met with a few close friends. I feel overwhelmed at parties.

What I do when I feel overwhelmed always surprises me. I become a chatterbox, chirpy, cheerful and, often, really funny. I sure look like an extrovert but it is all an act. I am hiding how intimidated I feel by all the people talking around me.

I haven't drunk any alcohol in about ten years. Except for a few stupid drunk nights in college, I have never drunk much alcohol. Then, around age fifty, I realized I feel sick the next day if I have just one drink. Duh. I stopped drinking then.

I mention the booze because it seems like just about everyone drinks at these parties. It crossed my mind, as I watched myself telling story after story at a party, and hearing my listeners laugh, even guffaw, that I don't know how I might behave if I were to drink alcohol. Would I talk more, which is hard to believe.

Who is this Chatty Cathy that takes over me when I find myself intimidated in a crowd?

I was thunderstruck

Eight+ years ago, I met a man at a conference. He shone so brilliantly that I was bedazzled. A wise elder told me "you are not in love, you just saw his radiance".

A loving friend said "He is crazier than you ever were are your craziest. I guess people sometimes make relationships work with crazy people but its wicked hard. I hope you don't try but if you do, good luck." This friend had already told me about a former employee of hers who she considered crazy, crazy as in not always tracking reality. This friend used to be a psychotherapist. She had told me before I lost my mind over a guy that this former-employee had a complex. She also thought the man I was dumbstruck over had one.

She gave me an example of the former employee's weird complexity. One day at work, my friend and her employee had a fun exchange about a specific movie they had both scene, going into considerable detail about the plot. They concluded that conversation but suggesting maybe the whole staff might watch the film together for staff recreation. My friend tries to give her employees happy experiences, not just work experiences. Later that same evening, the whole staff, which only consisted of 3 or 4 employees, my friend and her husband, were invited to a country club fundraiser. My friend and her husband had bought enough tickets to the event for the whole staff, supporting a community cause and treating the whole business to a night out together. During that fundraising dinner, my friend alluded to the earlier discussion about the movie. Her employee looked astonished, gasped and said "What are you talking about? I have never seen that movie and we have never talked about it." My friend stuttered and muttered. The employee's husband put his arm around his wife, laughed happily and said to my friend, "She gets like this. I am used to it. It happens all the time."

That gal who talked about a movie and then a few hours later had forgotten about the conversation and the movie has a complex, my psychoanalyst friend concluded.  She reminded me of this story, assured me that that staffer of hers and the husband were happy together. She told me the story to show me that people can be happy in relationships with people who have serious complexes but it is really hard. Life is hard enough, she concluded, don't do this to yourself.

She also went into some detail about what a complex can be like. They are all different, of course, manifesting differently in each person. She said this man you are infatuated with has some kind of complex. When he is in his complex, he is not the man you know and nothing you can do can bring that man out.

How to heal a complex, I asked her.

A person has to want to heal their complex, they have to acknowledge they have one, they have to have a lot of therapy with a good therapist, a really good one who gets complexes because most don't. He has to want to heal his complex. Of course, if he has a complex, and I can't know if he does or not, he has to do the work of overcoming it.

I ignored her.

She also said, a year or two later when I still was infatuated, that she 'got' that this man did not want a romantic relationship with me. I am sure she was right because he told me so, although he sure sent some confusing signals to me over the years.

I was such a fool. Few men ever are interested in fat women. For some daffy reason, I had believed this guy saw beyond appearances, saw me and liked what he saw. But he didn't. He never introduced me to any of his friends, never included me in his real life. But I kept believing I should trust what I felt.  I haven't talked to him in almost a year.

When I first knew him, I was scheduled for weight loss surgery. He wrote to me and said "you don't need to have weight loss surgery, you are beautiful just as you are". I believed he meant that. I interpreted that statement to mean I really was beautiful and that he could love me just as I was.




I am more heartsore than I have ever been.  I realize now that he was not ever going to match my hopes, dream and longing.  I know, for he told me so repeatedly, that he had zero romantic interest in me.  I didn't believe him. And, goddess help me, I still don't.

I believe he will never speak to me again.

Maybe I have a complex, some deeply hardwired damage that I can't seem to overcome.  I don't want to go on living but I don't know how to kill myself. I do have a couple years to jump off the Golden Gate, before the suicide barriers that just got approved are installed. I have ruled out the GG because a few survive the jump. As someone who did once make a very determined attempt to take my life and failed, I know it is really excrutiating to work up the nerve to kill one's self and then fail.

A gun?  Doctors have reminded me that if I don't shoot myself right, I could live and end up with an even lower qualilty of life than I have now.

Drugs? I don't have any prescription drugs that will kill me. I know this because I have taken mass quantities of all prescription drugs I have had prescribed to me and just slept a long time.

Although I understand an entire bottle of acetaminophen might do it. But if I fail, and just fuck up my kidneys, then I am stuck being alive and more miserable.

Take me goddess. Take me now.

It's not nice to ignore my inner voice. . .

Yesterday I decided to do something. I write up front that I did not end up doing it but that is not the story here.

I got ready to leave my apartment but I could not find my wallet, with ID and, more essentially, my transit card. First I tossed things around hurriedly, sure I would find it.

Then I gave up, took off my jacket, even undressed and put on pajamas to spend the evening at home. I couldn't get it out of my mind. I kept running over all the things I would have to replace, calculating how complex those replacements would be. How long before I got a replacement driver's license, transit card, credit card, carshare card, etc.

Unable to push this loss out of my mind, I cleaned my house, sure I would find it if I did a deep clean.

Still no wallet and no bus pass.

I don't need ID or a transit card to get on the bus. I could use money and I had cash. So I dressed again and went out to the bus stop. I'd just pay cash.  It costs me more because with the transit ID, I get a much lower rate.

It kept crossing my mind that the universe didn't want me to go where I was trying to go. This thought penetrated me. I 'knew' I was not supposed to go. I wanted to go anyway.

I also kept crossing Shattuck. I actually returned all the way to my apartment three times, actually undressed, putzed around, then went out again. The whole time I was fighting with my inner certainty that I couldn't find my ID because I wasn't supposed to go. Yikes. I was being unkind to myself, pushing myself to do something I felt with my whole being was wrong.  And it wasn't a wrong thing I wanted to do. I just wasn't supposed to do it on that particular day.

Instead of just going, however, I came home and looked again.

I swear I went through every pocket of my various bags that I use, my backpack, my two messenger bags, a purse, a beautifully woven carryall from Guatemala. I checked, I thought, every pocket, every zippered spot.

No wallet. No transit card.

I also kept returning to the clear awareness that I obviously was not supposed to go where I wanted to go.  Somehow I knew I hadn't lost my wallet or transit card. I knew I couldn't find it because I wasn't supposed to go.

In the end, I went out for a long, anxiety-filled walk, even crying a bit as I walked along. Crying for lots of things, not just the lost wallet and the small costs to replace each lost item, although those small costs are meaningful to me.  I walked and walked and walked.

Then I came home and got into bed.

I shot right out of bed, sure the wallet and transit card were here.

Dont't it always seem to go that you find something you think you lost when you have gien up.

I had already tried to call and repoert my transit card lost, because it has money on it and anyone could use that money. It was Sunday evening and no customer service people available.

I could have reported my credit card lost on the phone. I considered it.

What held me back from reporting any lost things, aside from closed customer service functions, was my clear inner awareness that I wasn't supposed to do what I ws going to do.

Up and down, bouncing in anxiety.

Anxiety was ratcheted absurdly high.  Even if I had lost my wallet and transit card, it wasn't such a big deal. Can you see the transit card was the item tha tmost worried me? It takes at least a couple weeks to get a replacement! It takes several weeks to get a new debit card. I don't actually have a credit card.

The anxiety was me fighting with my own goddess-self. I wanted to willfully push ahead and do this thing that my inner self so clearly did not want me to do.

I wonder how many times in my life I have ignored my inner guidance. Plenty, I guess. This was the most clear and intense knowing:   don't go, Tree.

I didn't end up going, but only because I was upset about my perceived loss.

When I finally decided I would not do what I had intended to do, I found my wallet and transit card. I went through the many compartments of a very complex backpack I bought years ago at REI on deep discount. I have always used a messenger back but recently, my lower back aches when I sling the messenger back on my back. The backpack is more comfortable.  This backpack has several compartments. Within each compartment are a gagillion pockets, tabs, zippered compartments, bottle holders, laptop holder. Inside pockets, Outside pockets.

I was positive what I was looking for was in my backpack. And it was.

Yet if I had found it when those two frantic hours began, I would have gone.

I might not be clearly conveying this experience. I don't want to write what I wanted to do.  I still want to do it.

Gosh, it was like a giant wall of energy, or an ocean wave, had frozen just to block me from doing this thing.

It feels right today that I didn't do it but I feel grief. I really wanted to do this thing. I grieve that I am not supposed to, that I can't.

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
― C.G. Jung

Sunday, July 20, 2014

this happened to me today

I usually add more money to my clipper card, the card that lets me pay for any of the many different transit systems in the bay area just by scanning the card to a reader on the bus or train, in BART stations. Today I was taking a bus somewhere so I decided to reload at the Walgreens a block from where I live and right in front of the bus stop I needed.

As I entered, I heard a softspoken request for something, so soft that I didn't think the speaker was addressing me. I was half way through the door into Walgreens and I kept going. It was a young man, no more than twenty, I bet. He tapped me and said "I asked you if you could give me a cigarette."  I said "I don't smoke so I don't have any cigarettes."

He ducked in front of me to get in front of the fairly long purchase line.

Sidebar, I hate Walgreens. It would have been faster to go into the BART station, just steps away and add money to my card on a machine with no waiting.

At first I thought the young man was going to let me in front of him, showing old fashioned, gentlemanly manners. He was smiling at me odd. I couldn't read him so, just not to offend, I gestured for him to go ahead of me.

He asked me if I would give him some money. I said "I can't afford to give you any money."

He said "You are in this line so you are going to buy something so you have money."

Note, I had nothing in my hand. And he was in line to buy something so he had money.

He went on. "I am poor and homeless, I am hungry, give me some money."

I said "I am poor and if I give money to homeless people I run out of food money at the end of the month."

He said "Fuck you" and then I saw he was high, on something.

Still, I said "Fuck you. I can't believe you are angry after I told you I can't afford to give you anything."

Again he said "You in line, you buying something."

"Yeah", I said, "I am buying bus far on my clipper card. And you are in line so you must be buying something."

Did he think if he kept harassing me that I'd give him money to be rid of him? No way. I never give panhandlers money.  Verbal abuse simple reinforces my resolve not to part with my never-enough money.

He said fuck you again. So I called the guard over and asked him if Walgreens wanted panhandling in the store. The guard could hear the young man repeatedly hissing, fuck you, fuck you.

Interesting when the guard came over, and I said to the young man "You are in line, you must be buying something" the young man said "I have money, a credit card and a job. I don't need your money."

I stood in silence.

Then the young man said "You racist, that what you are."

"I am racist because I won't give you money?" Then I called the guard back and asked him to ask the young man to stop harassing me.  The guard said he'd throw us both out if we didn't stop. I said "I am not doing anything except refusing to give this guy money." The guard reiterated he'd kick us both out.

Suddenly, my harasser left the line and the store.

Two men ahead of me in line remarked on the interaction, both siding with me, saying I had not done anything wrong. I don't think they heard me say fuck you but the kid said it first. And that kid was definitely high on something because things he said were inconsistent.

One of the men who spoke in my favor said if they saw the guy who had harassed me when he was done paying, he'd beat him up.  How crazy is that? The guy who threatened to beat the young weird pandhandler up appeared a little strange, too. He looks like my age, had lots of tattoos, bleached blonde hair and he looked rough and tough.

Life on the street.

Many in line said supportive things, mostly focused on the unjust accusation that I was a racist. It is not racist to not give money to any panhandler of any race.

It was stressful.   Fuck that kid.  I have much empathy for black males. I have read some sad satistics about the huge percentage of black males that spend time in prisons. I think I read that 40% of all black males spend time in prison and I bet lots of it is for being stopped whie blback and holding a joint or two. Think of that black father in NYC who got killed by a police chokehold; that guy was selling cigarettes one at a time, which is illegal. A pack of cops swarmed him, one guy killed him. For sellng cigarettes illegally.

But I am not racist when I don't give money to any panhandler.

One kinda eerie thing about the kid who asked me for money and called me a racist for saing no:  he spoke with an eerie soft-spokenness, he appeared very calm. Lying (either he had no money or he did, he said both things) and accusing me of being racist with no justification.

Now I wonder if he behaves towards others as he did towards me and that his behavior sometimes yields money.

I wonder why he left.  I would have called the police when the guard would not make the guy stop talking to me but I had left my cell at home.

You know, I was miserable when that guy hit me up for a cigarette, then money, then told me he was hungry and homeless, then told me he had plenety of money and credit card, while interjecting his comments with 'fuck you'. It was like he was manifesting on the outside how unhappy I was feeling. Gee, I hope that young man was not as unhappy as I was. And I am.

I am very unhappy.


you are enough

Saturday, July 19, 2014

I make waves just being myself

I feel like I don't fit in anywhere. I live with a lot of painful isolation. Whenever I try to reach out, my difference seems to become obvious instantly. Obvious to me.

I am sad, scared and lonely. I'm on an antedepressant, have been for 10 months, so it's not exactly depression. It's me. I'm all wrong.

The moon calmly makes waves. Even when I am equanimous, others often experience me as high energy.

Berkeley was jumping today

The Saturday farmers market is lush with summer's bounty.

In the park adjacent to the market was Spark, a lame version of Burning Man. The lame is my judgment and, yeah, kinda negative.  Spark has some music, some not-very-interesting 'art'. None of the cool art I have seen photos of from an actual Burning Man. Last year's Spark had poor attendance. This year's looked much more interesting but I had no time to even walk through it and it was only in one small pocket park.

I had a morning meeting in Oakland and an afternoon one. I rushed out of my morning meet at noon, grabbed BART back to downtown Berkeley. I thought I couldn't make the farmers market but I decided my kale, sorrel, spinach, tomatoes, peaches and berries were worth being late for the afternoon thing. So I skipped the Spark, which looked way more interesting than it was last year.

My afternoon thing bored me.  Lately I go to these conferences that are billed as being about the new emergent culture but the thinking of the speakers seems dated, uninteresting to me. I glance around me as I sit in rows listening to talking heads and I pray that others sitting docilely in orderly rows and listening, as we were all trained to do in grade school, are hearing new stuff. I have heard all the stuff I hear at these lectures.

This morning's event was a chaotic and loud leadership exchange. It was supposed to be about having meaningful dialogue, conversations that matter, but there was lots of loud performers appealing to the younger adults. And the facilitators were teachers. Teaching grade school kids is not the same as facilitating dialogue. The facilitators bossed the group around, giving us directions and then changing them a minute later. A reboot they did repeatedly. The problem was when you organize a four hour dialogue event, you don't kick it off with a music performance that runs 40 minutes and then you don't transition to dialogue with a spoken word performance artist, a poetry slam kind of performer.

The performances were delightful. Loud but delightful.  And the whole time, I'm tapping an invisible foot, anxiously wondering when we will get to some meaningful conversation with all the interesting people.

My gosh, why didn't the event organizers hire real facilitators? Hire people with experience designing containers for deep dialogue.

Oh, yeah, one of the facilitators played introduction games. "Everyone who came from outside the bay area stand up".  She did way too many and her game provided no insight into who was in the room, other than the impressive trek one man made from France to be there for a four hour meeting that ended up being less than two hours because of all the bells and whistles.

I need to work.  I spent the morning redesigning everything. My being is longing to design and facilitate events.

Oh, there was a Maker's Fair at the conference center next door. Mostly the makers selling stuff were jewelry makers. Or knit hats. And the 'workshops' were talking heads with too-loud microphones tell tell telling about the sharing economy*, timebanks and other stuff I already know more than I can use.

*I have read, in many places, that the sharing economy is becoming corporatized and the sharing economy is not going to save us from the toxin of free market capitalism. I said this at one of the tables where I tried to engage in dialogue and I saw a few corporate consultants wince.

Easy for folks who have scored wealth in the corporatocracy to support free market capitalism, eh?

I saw a bunch of people, at both events, hoping that hearing about new ideas was changing the world. Nope.

I had hoped the Maker Fair would be more than a bazaar of handmade crafts. I had the goofy idea it was going to be about people making real change in the world. Sharing economy is not news. And the gal talking about the sharing economy was selling her business, selling consulting with her company to join the sharing economy. I left instead of raising my hand and saying 'the sharing economy is over". Like organics, corporations are taking it over.

At one table I said "I have come to the conclusion that only massive demonstrations, great uprisings of people all over the world, is what will bring about change."  Everyone olitely took a breath and then ignored me and talked on. So I didn't say "Of course the elite will suppress any rebellion of wage slaves so we're talking about fighting, war, loss of limb and life."

I don't fit in anywhere.  Where are my people?  I thought I found a partner in thinking and vision, if not in life, but he dropped me.

roses for a beauty

Once, when Katie and I were at the Minneapolis farmers market and the market was mostly over, with vendors packing up, as Katie walked past a flower vendor he bowed deeply before her and asked if she would allow him to give her some roses. He gave her a gigantic bunch of long stemmed red roses.

It was so nice of him.

It thrilled her.

I didn't say this but the flowers were near past their freshness date, already wilting. The guy was going to throw them out. I didn't say anything because it had been so sweet for Katie to get that lovely, unexpected gift.

I loved that man in the moment. Didn't know him. I love him still.

Her too.

peachy memories

Long ago, when my daughter was in 5th or 6th grade, the classmates family bought a house and asked the school community to help them unpack their house. The mom was a Waldorf teacher.

The house unpacking included grilled meats. Folks asked to contribute the rest of a meal a la potluck.

I went to the farmers market that morning. I had bought 7 perfectly ripe and very large peaches. You know when peaches are optimal, the juice drips down your chin, the fruit's flesh is soft and on the verge of bruising. These were peach perfection.

My daughter grumbled that peaches weren't a decent pot luck contribution. I knew several were bringing salads.

As it turned out, no one brought any dessert.

My peaches were much coveted. I allocated all of them to kids but another adult, also a teacher, voiced her great desire for such a perfect peach. I gave her mine.

I am thinking about peaches because they are their peak of perfection just now.  I buy two or three each week, telling myself as I pay for them that I will add them to a raw green smoothie. A little fruit transforms a raw green smoothie, esp. with some cinnamon. Apples, frozen berries, frozen banana. But a fresh juicy peach, I think, would be awesome.

I never have made a smoothie with a juicy peach cut up and tossed into it because I can't resist the preaches.

Growing up in Chicago, we rarely saw juicy peaches. They were typically shipped hard so they would not bruise and never really ripened, having been harvested too soon. Which was why those long ago peaches in Minnesota pleased that housewarming potluck. 

Those long ago peaches were from Michigan, which apparently is known for its peaches.

Minneapolis, and most Midwestern cities, even the smaller ones like Ann Arbor, have always had permanent farmers market facilities. Farmers would literally bring their latest harvests, beginning by horse and wagon, to the city to sell to citydwellers. This was before supermarkets. 

I love the old farmers market in Minneapolis. Now I imagine Minneapolis has farmers markets aorund the city. I loved the old, original one. It has cast iron pillars, high platforms so the wagons could be rolled up flush with the platform and more easily unloaded. Then workers would put the food on display tables.  St. Paul also had an old iron farmers market.

The old farmers market was never all organic, not the one in Minneapolis. In the eighties and nineties when I shopped there, more and more organic produce showed up. The growing season in MN is short so the season for fresh produce is also short. Early in the organic movement, organic farmers were small and did not ship their food far away. It stayed local.

And so we return to local, albiet with corporate farming.

Many of the vendors at farmers markets around the bay are large agribusinesses, not small family farms.  The same large farm operation might have booths simultaneously at several markets.

In Minneapolis, most of the vendors I patronized literally harvested whatever they wre selling that morning and then drove into the city to sell it. You got fresh-that-day food.

Here in the bay area, farmers harvest what they sell before market day. They come from some fairly long distances.

Midwesterners are hardier stock, perhaps?

I'm not depressed

My life well and truly sucks. I have no close friends. No family.  I am not comforted by talking to strangers at noisy events. And I lack the financial resources to sustain interactions that always cost money to build friendships.

I wish I would die. I fantasize stopping insulin. The average lifespan for someone with Type I diabetes, which is the kind I have, was one year before the creation of artificial insulin.

I have tried not taking my insulin. It would be a rough way to die. I skipped just one nightly injection. For the next two days, I was vomiting then dry heaving constantly. I could not keep down water, even after I injected a full regimen of insulin the next evening. It took one more day before I could keep down water.

I guess if my will to escape this mortal coil were strong enough, I'd tough out the non insulin. If doctors can't force psychotropic meds on schizophrenics and manic depressives, I don't think they could force insulin on someone.

I am very unhappy. I am depressed but it is not a biochemical depression, the treatable kind. My life sucks. No drugs can cure that and, as far as I can figure, it costs money to make friends. And I am too poor.

lots on my plate today

I have been unusually busy all week.  Today I have two events I am attending, one in the morning, one all afternoon. And then dinner with a friend.

This introvert is not used to so much face time with people.

I don't want to get out of bed, shower, put on my "I'm normal" mask and go out.