Friday, February 12, 2016

we all have shadows


I'm Strawberry Shortcake

My daughter very much loved her Strawberry Shortcake doll. Rosie's Strawberry Shortcake was a handmade doll with the requisite strawberry sprigged dress with apron, the requisite red-haired pig tails, the requisite strawberry-sprigged puffy bonnet and the requisite embroidered freckles.

A friend of mine spent the whole year making beautifully handmade children's toys and clothing, often imitating the popular commercial toys but rendering them in skilled, homemade craftsmanship. 

I only wanted my little girl to have soft, cuddly dollies. When I saw the soft handmade Strawberry Shortcake at that woman's craft sale, which she held in her garage a couple weekends around Thanksgiving time, in the run up, of course, to Christmas, I snatched it up.

The doll became an instant favorite. Many photographs exist, photos I have long sinced mailed to my daughter, although I don't know if she opens the packages I have sent her, of Rosie with that doll.

One year for Christmas, I made matching strawberry-sprigged flannel nightgowns for both Rosie and Strawberry. I had found a large wooden doll cradle in a garage sale that I spruced up with white pant. Then I made a complete set of bedding for that doll cradle out of the same strawberry-sprigged cotton flannel. Strawberry bedsheets, a strawberry flannel mattres, a strawberry flannel pillow and two strawberry nightgowns.

Rosie loved that Christmas gift. I caught many joyful glimpses of my daughter trying to get into that doll cradle with her favorite dolly. It was a very big doll bed but it was not as long as Rosie was. When she would become aware that I was, adoringly, watching her try to get in the bed, she would become self conscious and run away from the cradle.  I never commented on her attempt to get in that doill bed, not wanting to encourage any sense of embarrassment. Besides, I wished that doll bed had been just a tad bigger; six inches longer and Rosie could have gotten in with Strawberry.

Not long after we separated, Rosie's father gave her a Smurfette doll. It was a pretty good choice. Her father had noted she loved a cartoon-based, handmade Strawberry Shortcake and he had decided, or maybe his sister and mother helped him with his choice, that she might also like Smurfette.

Smurfettes, like all Smurfs, at least in those olden times, were blue. And they originated in cartoons, with merchandised toys to match.

If I had rejected that Smurfette doll, my husband and my daughter would both have interpreted my rejection as me toying with Rosie's love for her dad.  I was actually mildly pleased by his choice, pleased that he had chosen something she would like. I wasn't totally proud that my little toddler watched cartoons enough to covet the accompanying merchandise but, hey, if I could justify a soft, handmade Strawberry Shortcake, Elden could buy her a Smurfette.

It was not the cartoon character doll that bugged me. It was the cheapness and crappiness of the Smurfette. Just now, it occurs to me that maybe he won it for her at a carnival coin toss because the Smurfette he gifted Rosie had the cheap quality of a carnival barker's prizes. It was made of cheap fabric, literally stuffed with actual straw, had a painted face except for the eyes which were two badly sewn on black buttons. No one gives a two year old a doll with sewn on buttons. She could have choked on one!

That straw-stuffed Smurfette's seems began to unravel immediately, with the straw falling out. I actually stooped, a time or two, to sewing up the seams. The doll was never made to be a little girl's favorite but it took over as Rosie's most favorite doll. It got filthy but I could not wash it, not like I could the Strawberry Shortcake. The craftswoman who made the Strawberry Shortcake only made dolls that were machine washable. If I had tried to wash that Smurfette, even just by hand with a washcloth, the doll would have fallen apart.

How Rosie adored that Smurfette. I saw that it represented her father's love, both for her and hers for him. So I kept my cringes to myself and let her take that Smurfette with her everywhere until it, blessedly in my view, fell apart. Maybe, and this may only be retroactive wishful thinking, maybe her father took it out of circulation. I never would have. I wanted to see the end of that cheap doll.

I even suggested to Rosie's father that he ask my dollmaking friend to make a Smurfette for Rosie. The dollmaker very likely would have. She made dolls for a living because she loved the work and she seemed to especially enjoy finding popular characters that were popular with little girls. And why not? Such dolls sold well. Her rebuffed my suggestion, angrily accusing me of hating the doll only becuase he gave it to her. So. Not. True.

Blessedly, and the details have faded from my memory, that Smurfette's roll in our family came to an end.  Strawberry did not remain as one of Rosie's most favored dolls forever but she always held a place of honor amongst Rosie's steadily changing display of her most loved dolls. Strawberry was often given a seat of honor next to Rosie's absolute all time favorite stuffed doll, a machine-washable Gund brand rabbit Rosie named Fluffy.

Fluffy cleaned up pretty well. And Fluffy went off to college with Rosie, worn but still relatively clean because she was made to be washable.  I sometimes wonder if Rosie still has Fluffie. I loved it when she took Fluffie with her everywhere, even off to college and for holidays with my family in Chicago.

I used to refer to Fluffy as my grandbunny.

For many years, Rosie always gave me coupons that I could cash in throughout the year as part of my Chrstimas gifts. A coupon might be for Rosie to do the dinner dishes without complaint, good for one such chore. A coupone might give me the right to ask Rosie not to be her typically morning crabapple to my always morning cheerful self; it used to be such a downer sharing my life with a morning crabapple whilst I was, as a close law school pal labeled me and then many of my law school pals adopted, as Chatty Cathy. Wes, my friend who labeled me Chatty Cathy, would joke in the student lounge as we hung out with lots of other students between classes, saying "I dare you, call her up at 3 a.m. and even if she was sound asleep when the phone rang, she will pick up and start talking, not need a moment to wake up, she'll be her Chatty Cathy self instantly."

The secret to my middle-of-the-night Chatty Cathy persona was unrelated to my chattiness. If my phone rang at 3 or 4 a.m. and the caller identified him or herself as someone I knew, I was instantly present to that person out of care, present because of my tender, loving nature. I always reasonsed, and still do, that if someone calls me in the middle of the night, they must really have needed to talk to someone and it was an honor to be the one they chose.

Once, in 2008, a now former friend called me at 3 a.m. We had talked the evening before, I had said something that triggered some anxiety in him, he was having trouble sleeping and he finally gave into his anxiety attack and just called me. It was the first 3 a.m. call I had had in years, maybe even decades, but, I am proud to report, I reacted like the Chatty Cathy channeler I am. When that person began by apologizing for calling, even before he could tell me why he had called, I said 'I am glad you called. If you were upset and calling me will help you, I am glad you called."  I was proud of my tender, 3 a.m. kindness to someone that, at that time, I barely knew.

Fast forward a year or so. I faced a sleepless, anxious night fretting about the same person. remembering he had called me at 3 a.m., I called him. He did not pick up and he criticized me repeatedly every time we interacted for several weeks, rebuking me for having disrupted his sleep. A couple times, he went so far as to chide me for having disrupted his work the following day because I had disrupted his sleep. Yet when I tried to remind him that he had once called me at 3 a.m. and my assumption that calling him in the middle of the night was acceptable since he had done so to me, he didn't exactly deny he had made that 3 a.m. call. He just ignored what I said and kept on berating me for my call. Ouch. that memory hurts. I am crying right now as I type.

I can take so long to get to the thing I set out to write about. This is about Rosie's Halloween costume at age two as Strawberry Shortcake. She and I had looked at the packaged cheap cartoon character costumes sold at stores like Target. She badly wanted me to buy her the Strawberry shortcake cheap thing. All it was was a cheap-o mask of Srawberry's face, a red dress made out of very cheap fabric that always seemed flammable to me (but it was illegal to sell children's items made of imflammable fabric) and a puffy hat with a strawberry or two printed on it.

Growing up, my mom had made all her kids handmade costumes. Great costumed.  I had been raised to loathe those cheap Target-type costumes that were nothing but a very cheap mask that made it hard for kids to see if they went out trick-or-treating and very very cheap, tacky clothin. In the early eighties, that kind of junk might only have cost five bucks.

Rosie wanted to be Strawberry Shortcake so badly. But by then, I was practicing law and a full time single mom. And I was not feeling crafty or clever.  Or maybe it was laziness. I went so far as to look at pattern books in fabric stores. Sure enough, I could have bought a Strawberry Shortcake pattern and, after spending a whole lot more than the five bucks a junky costume from Target would have cost, plus hours spent sewing, I could have made an authentic Strawberry Shortcake. But my mom's Halloween costume values had become mine.

My whole being balked at making a handmake costume of a cartoon character.

So I came up with what I thought was both a brilliant and very easy costume. This was early to mid-eighties, probably 1984 because this happened in Lawrence and by Halloween 1985 we were living in Minneapolis.

I decided Rosie would be a punk rocker, along the lines of Metallica or some band or another that painted their faces black and white. I painted her face in a swirly divie, white on one side, black on the other, with a white star painted around her eye on the black side and a black crescent moon on her cheek on the white side.

Then I bunch up her hair into a few pony tails, going up the back of her haead and cross the top of her head to her forehead. Then I filled those ponytails with black and white pipe cleaners to give her a thick mohawk, stuffing as many pipe cleaners into her fine-haired ponytails as I could. It worked. It looked like she had a black and white mohawk, kinda popular amongst teenage boys at the time.

I put her in a white men's t-shirt, painted my version of a skull on the t-shirt. I bought a few yards of cheap chain at a hardware store, the old fashioned real hardware store where they had endless rolls of chains in all sizes, sold by the foot or the yard. I draped a few 'necklaces' of those chains on her, made a belt out of a chain. Put on black tights under the adult male t-shirt that came down past her knees.

And everyone got what she was supposed to be instantly:  she was a punk rocker. It was a truly great costume. And by my personal standards, it was exceptionally great because it was both clever and had been very easy to pull off.

It was such an awesome custome that I took her to the Halloween party at the Lawrence children's museum. That party had costume awards, broken down for age groups. Rosie not only won her age group but she won the grand prie for best children's costume at the party. this drew lots of happy attention to Rosie. Almost every adult at the party would come up to her and say "HOney you look so cute, who are you supposed to be?"

And she answered, every single time, in her chipmunk squeaky voice, "I am Strawberry Shortcake." She totally believed she was Strawberry Shortcake. I had not lied to her. I had said things like "Strawberry would be great but the costume from Target is cheap. I can make you a much better costume. You can be a punk rocker. How about that?"  She happily agreed to my proposal but she had not fully understood what I had promised. She had no idea what a punk rocker was and she knew, passionately, how much she wanted to be Strawberry Shortcake.

It felt like a win win to me. she got a lot of happy, positive attention. She loved winning a prize. She loved being told she looked adorable. And when she chirped "I am Strawberry Shortcake" to all the adults who complimented her, no one suggested to her that she wasn't Strawberry Shortcake.

Truth be told, I had a blast. Every time she chirped "I am Strawberry Shortcake" while looking like an awesome, miniature punk rocker, I almost split into star dust with my own joy. I was proud of me, proud of my clever costume, proud of my child's happiness.  I was so happy. And so was she.

After the party, which did not run late. After all, toddlers attended, I felt like the evening was too young to end her reign as Strawberry Shortcake. So, even though we had eaten dinner before the party, I stopped somewhere on the way home to get ice cream sundaes, to prolong her moment in the spotlight. Quite a lot of people in the restaurant came up to her and said she looked great and asked "Who are you supposed to be" and every single time, she said "I"m Strawberry Shortcake". Everyone laughed. Everyone was happy to see that miniature punk rocker believing she was Strawberry Shortcake. No one but me understood the situation, not really, but a small child's joy is infectious. Everyone understands that.

Man, that was a great Halloween, even better than the time I dressed her up as Carmen Miranda.But that's another story.

I wonder if Rosie remembers taht she once was Strawberry Shortcake at age two. Sort of.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

love is like a Magic Penny: lyrics


words and music by Malvina Reynolds, copyright 1955 and 1958, renewed 1986 but Malvina actually wrote the song around 1946


Magic Penny
Love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.

It's just like a magic penny,
Hold it tight and you won't have any.
Lend it, spend it, and you'll have so many
They'll roll all over the floor.
For love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.
Money's dandy and we like to use it,1
But love is better if you don't refuse it.
It's a treasure and you'll never lose it
Unless you lock up your door.
For love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.
So let's go dancing till the break of day,
And if there's a piper, we can pay.
For love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.
For love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.

breathe: a magic penny

I have had a tough struggle, one I am ashamed of, accepting that someone I love very much has severed all ties with me. This person never talked to me about shunning me, just sent an email after 7 years of pretending to love me as a friend.  No friend could do that so this person was never a friend and offered me a fake presentation of love.

This is what I believe, that love loves around all impediments.

Now I am thinking of divorce. I used to do lots of divorce work as a lawyer and in that work I developed an understanding that there are successful divorces and unsuccessful ones. In a successful divorce, both parties remain friends but go on leading separate lives. But the friendship and love abides.

Love stays.

Love abides.

Love does not ghost a friend in an email without the decency of one damned conversation.

Anyway, I keep wanting renewed connection with this person and I am so ashamed of my desire.

A few days ago, I asked my guardian angel to send me a message, to advise me how to really let go, not of my love for the person I am alluding to, but to let go of wanting connection with the person.

I am going to remember I have a guardian angel more regularly. There was a time when I began each morning with meditation and wrapped up my meditation session by inviting my guardian angel into my day. I also used to remind her, after inviting her (or him -- gender doesn't really matter with angels, I suspect -- I could use the made-up pronoun 'hum' which the person I have been struggling to stop wanting made up. I love the word hum because it seems so much like the person who invented it:  charming, well intentioned, humorous, caring. It personifies the person I have struggled to accept is gone.

My practice, when I invited my angel into each day was, after inviting her in, was to remind her that I needed blunt guidance. I would remind hum that I am usually dense and I need overt, blunt messages.

So I asked my guardian angel the other day to help me with the challenge I have been writing about and kaboom, hum answered me. Hum told me to do what I learned in Vipassana meditation:  to step away from my thoughts and focus on my breath. Gosh, it works well. If I am focussed on my breath, I cannot think about my longing for what I cannot have. I feel immediate calm and peacefulness.

Breathe.

Love is like a magic penny, hold it tight and you won't have any. Lend it, spend it and you'll have so many, love rolls all over your world. I extrapolate.

I think of my angel's guiding wisdom as a magic penny, a love offering to me, for me.

Breathe.  I have a magic penny.

going a little postal

a peeve, a rant. . . . It is tragic, at least to me, to see the post office deliberately becoming an abysmally lousy service. And it sure seems to be deliberate. The neocons and I bet Hillary would be down with this, are running the same game they often do when they want to privatize public services and hand lucrative business to rich donors. . . the play is to make the public service so bad that the public thinks it is beyond repair.

The post office is important. It could be financially stable if Congress had not, absurdly, insisted it fund pensions for the next 70 years. The post office is treated like a private business now but Congress still gets to order it around. The post office could restore the banking function it used to have, an affordable banking function, and generate income to help the whole postal system to run efficiently.

Here in Berkeley, every time I get a package shipped via USPS, I enter a Kafkaesque nightmare. They NEVER ring my bell to give me my package. They run into the lobby with a slip, never intending to deliver it, and tell me I have to go to my post office the next day. But when I go the next day, it is never there. I have to wait at least an hour to learn it isn't there and then wait at least another hour the next day hoping it will be there.

and my lobby has lock boxes for packages, exclusively for the post office. They are supposed to put packages in these lock boxes and put the key in my mailbox. When a delivery person runs in with just that pink slip and no package, they never intended to actually deliver it. It saves them time to rush in, drop off the slip. They are supposed to ring my bell and let me come get it -- they never do this. Alternatively, they are supposed to use the damned locked box for secure delivery when I am not home.

I hate the personal challenge it is, every damned time a vendor ships using USPS to save money, but what I hate even more is knowing the post office delivery offering increasingly poor service to facilitate the eventual privatization of the post office.  The very lousy service seems deliberate. Come on, when a paid delivery man doesn't even have a package when he comes in to put a slip in my mailbox, that guy never intended to delivery the package to me.

The post office is the only delivery service that delivers everywhere. Living in an urban area, I have many options but folks in tiny towns all across this country or people living on a farm far from any town are all guaranteed delivery. We all know once the post office is privatized, farmers will no longer get service to their homes.

In any direction I look when it comes to anything even remotely connected to "public servants" I see corruption, seemingly deliberate incompetence, game playing designed to benefits some rich connected insiders (like giving away the post office to a private corporation!).

One of CA's U.S senators scored the contract for her husband's real estate business to sell any post office buildings that the USPS decides to sell. Some of our post offices are architectural and historic jewels. The Berkeley downtown post office is such a jewel, built with WPA workers and it even has a WPA mural. I want to live in a country to creates public sector jobs, esp. job programs that deliberately try to help artists do their art and get paid -- like hiring artists to paint public murals.

I don't want to live in a dystopian nightmare, the kind Hillary will seek to enable, where institutions like the post office are given away to already rich establishment insiders. And I sure as shit don't want a president with a plan, and Hillary has such a plan, to convince people that GMO food is perfectly fine. If HIllary gets her way, organic food will be a thing of the past.

Stop the world and let me off.

My maternal grandfather worked for the post office his whole life. Back then, one income allowed a family to support two adults and a few kids. And the post office not only gave my grandfather a pension but it paid my grandmother that pension when my grandpa died. I want the world to work like that.

My paternal grandpa, with only a 3rd grade education cause he was made to leave school and earn money to help feed his large family with two poor immigrant parents (from the old Sod, from Ireland!). He eventually got a job driving a bus for the city of Chicago. Many, many times, I heard both my grandpa and my dad speak of how their family never went without during the depression because grandpa had that secure public sector job.

I see how the greedy .01% that never seem to have enough and 150 million aint enough to Hillary but she thinks $12 is enough for the national minimum wage are greedily, like the most rapacious pac man ever, gobbling up our commons, parceling out the wealth to a very very select few.

The way that evil governor in WI, where the labor union movement basically got its start, immediately moved to eviscerate public unions in WI and I see politicians all over trying to wipe out public sector jobs.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I'm done doing this


grieve

Grieve so you can free yourself up to move on. Do your work, my dearest Tree.

lost in the dark






This tugged on my heartstrings.  I would sit in the dark with just about anyone who sought my support. I can think of no one in my life right now who would sit with me and I am way lost in the dark.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

thinking about Flint & other human nastiness

Horrifically, there are many poor communities subjected to unsafe drinking water than Flint, MI. I absolutely do not wish to take aware from the venal choices made by Michigan politicians, sacrificing the poor and mostly black people of Flint, MI. And we humans can only hold so much horror at a given point in time . . . but, there are some poor towns in CA that have water coming out of home faucets that can be set on fire with a match, towns where people have been drinking only bottled water for at least a couple of years because our governor, the not-liberal, not-environmentalist Jerry Brown will not stand up to the fracking of the fossil fuel industry.

And a major river in Colorado recently had a major toxic spill from a mine's wastewater. Overnight the whole river turned orange and all life forms in that orange sludge died. And in Brazil, more recently, one of its largest rivers was turned bright yellow overnight from another toxic mine sludge spill. In horror I watched news reports about that Brazil river death, watching in horror as the yellow water reached the Atlantic Ocean which would then carry those toxins all over the globe, just like Fukushima radiation continues to spread and find its way into our food and water.

For the most part, Americans don't hear about all the toxic shit unleashed into nature in other parts of the world. China has been buying up huge swaths of South America and Africa so they can cannibalized its riches for China, leaving the locals still poor and struggling. And even here in our country, our president proudly announced recently that coal mining on public lands will no longer get new permits while he conveniently failed to mention Congress gave away -- gave away -- sacred Apache land to a foreign company who freely admits once it's done strip mining the coal from that sacred land, it will be an ininhabitable, toxic scar on our home planet, that the land will be, in perpetuity, unrecognizable and useless. What right does Congress have to give away, esp. to another country, sacred Apache land. Indian lands are sovereign. No one has the right to give away another's property but we steal from Indians even today. 

Governor Brown wants to embiggen the Mt. Shasta Dam, which has already destroyed most of the sacred lands of the Winnemuc tribe. If Jerry gets his way, and he usually does, the raised dam will happen and the Winnemuc tribe will lose what little land it still has. And you know how they 'legally' get away with such theft? Here is how:  the federal government chooses to not recognize that the Winnemucs are a tribe. When a tribe does not receive federal recognition, states, like the 'great' state of California, can ignore that tribe's rights and do whatever the fuck the state wants to do to the tribes land.  And this is just two stories of present day theft from Native Americans. I am certain there are more such outrages but (1) the media doesn't report on this kind of thing and (2) racism is alive and well.

Flint might be more tragic because the decision makers willfully chose to prioritize saving a small amount of money and thought they could get away with it because it was 'only' poor black folks drinking the sludge. Did you catch the story that within a few weeks of the change in Flint's water, the government turned off the taps in all government buidings in flint and provided government workers with bottled water? Did you read that one of the motor companies almost immediately complained, after the water changeover, that the water was corroding metal car parts so the government made special arrangements to give those auto part plants good water, while still funneling the toxic crap to humans in Flint and telling those humans, when they complained of health problems and drinking orange and brown sludge from their taps that they should trust the government's assurance that all was well with their water?!

Is there a difference between consciously, illegally and willfully giving Apache land to a foreign corporation to destroy that land for that corporation's profits (will that corporation have to pay anything to the tribe or, let's talk crazy, maybe pay some American taxes on the income our gift to them will generate?) and pollluting an entire city of mostly poor black humans as part of a long-game run by corrupt Republican politicians in Michigan who passed a law that allow the governor to ignore democratically elected politicians and appoint what amounts to bankruptcy managers, giving such managers even more power than the democratically elected city county? and what is the long game for Flint? Some slimeball politicos planned to privatize the water infrastructure and the water itself, giveaways for rich insider cronies who likely feed them fancy meals and drinks and maybe give them points in their anonymous LLC's that they form for heists like stealing public asserts as corrupt politicians convert them into privatized assets with all the profits going to rich capitalists who offshore as much income as they can, offshore jobs whenever possible and blame anyone not making it in this fucked up, unjust economic nightmare we have allowed to unfurl.

And pro lifers? As you likely know, they don't care about life. The anti-choice movement is about control, the control of women. If the anti-choice movement was about life, there would be good, taxpayer funded support for children needing health care, food stamps and housing because mothers have babies when pressured to do so. I'm not saying abortion is right or wrong. I deeply believe it is an entirely private choices that only the woman holding the potential for new life within her own private body can make. But "pro-life" activists are not activists for health childhoods, good public schools so all receive good educations, middle class jobs so parents can provide for their families. Anti-choicers are shills for the oligarchy.

a human being is just a hoping machine


"The note of hope is the only note that can help us or save us from falling to the bottom of the heap of evolution, because, largely, about all a human being is, anyway, is just a hoping machine."
~~ Woody Guthrie, Pastures of Plenty (pg. 247)

John Steinbeck on Woody Guthrie:

“Woody is just Woody. Thousands of people do not know he has any other name. He is just a voice and a guitar. He sings the songs of a people and I suspect that he is, in a way, that people. Harsh voiced and nasal, his guitar hanging like a tire iron on a rusty rim, there is nothing sweet about Woody, and there is nothing sweet about the songs he sings. But there is something more important for those who still listen. There is the will of a people to endure and fight against oppression. I think we call this the American spirit.” - John Steinbeck

For emphasis: There is the will of a people to endure and fight against oppression. I think we call this the American spirit.

Go Bernie. You carry the will, and the power, of a people to endure and fight oppression.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

our earthly task

Our earthly task is to keep working on the lessons that we need to learn. We must not become strangers to the world, not be hostile towards the earthly, but stand entirely within earthly life. We must acknowledge that they are the same forces, the same creatures that we recognize in the terrestrial world, which we observe in the spiritual worlds, because they work into our earthly sphere, they weave within human souls and thus influence life on earth.
Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 52 – Spirituelle Seelenlehre und Weltbetrachtung – Berlin, February 1, 1904 (page 237-238)
Translated by Nesta Carsten-Kr├╝ger

I have a vocation

The original meaning of “to have a vocation” is “to be addressed by a voice.”

I have a vocation and I have finally, at an age, 62, that feels way too fucking late, decided to make it my priority.  I have been addressed by this voice all my life but I listened to others, starting with parents, then listening to men and even to my daughter.

I did not listen to me. Now I do. I say no to what is not right for me. And I am lonely, never invited to socialize with anyone. I have no idea how to fix the loneliness but I do know what my vocation is and I am practicing it now. right now.

I'm an Eeyore but I don't get treated like this


no equal welfare for me

life does not provide equal welfare for all its residents

silent nonviolent protest: a true story from my past

I just posted a video, that I first learned about from my friend Richard Tamm. A former CIA analyst stood up at a speech Hilary was giving in 2014, about citizen repression in Egypt and turned his back to her, a classic, nonviolent and established way to express constitutional dissent/free speech.
I am reminded of the time George Wallace, while running for president, gave a speech at my college. The students, including me, organized a protest. We were appalled that our university was hostig Wallace who was a renown racist for a long time and, sure, when he ran for president, he changed his position, similar to how Hillary is now claiming she is a progressive and not in bed with warmongers and corporatists. Students could not get my university, which had a conservative bent, to cancel Wallace so we organized.
We packed the auditorium. Every seat was filled and the standing room only space was also packed. We let him begin to speak and then, when we were given the signal, we all stood up and silently turned out back to him. He stopped his speech, spewed and sputtered long enough to give us students time to think. We had not planned the next part but, as if coordinated by the stars, we began to silently walk out in single file, one row at a time, streaming silently down each long aisle. Those in the balcony waited silently until it was their turn to exit.
Wallace left the stage. I had the impression he was shocked that he had been licked by a bunch of liberal college students. I don't recall our walk out on Wallace making any news, certainly not national. I recall that everyone who participated in turning their backs on Wallace and then walking out on him were proud of our action.

Friday, February 05, 2016

margaret atwood

Margaret Atwood is a writing hero of mine. Her book The Handmaid's Tale is a masterpiece of future dystopia. Yes, it is dystopian but there is a sliver of hope for future happy humans. The long, dense book grabbed me and I inhaled it in a few days, unable to do anything but read it.

Then Atwood won  The Booker Prize, which is the prize for long fiction that I most respect, for The Blind Assassin. Assassin was brilliantly and complexly written but I still think she won the Booker for Assassin because Handmaid was overlooked.

Alias Grace. Cat's Eye. The chickcan really write, spinning fascinating worlds from her imagination as well as her fabulously special energy that allows her to sense what could become the human future. Her books always left me with hope and I think that is why I have been a longtime devoted fan.

Then I read Oryx and Crake, about corporations running the world. It presented such a bleak future that I had to back off Atwood for awhile.

Then, a few weeks ago I fell for her latest novel, "The Heart Goes First". I fell for the title. I thought the title sounded hopeful. And the title is a bit of a spin on the whole story. And "heart" does leave room for some ambiguous hopefulness but not before deep dives into misery. Heart also evoked A Clockwork Orange for me, not exactly a happy camper novel, eh?

The heart goes first. Does it? And what does she mean? That the heart is first organ to die or love leaps ahead of sense, sensibility, pride and prejudice? Both?

I had a hard time reading "The Heart Goes First". It is set in a short-term future dystopia but with glimmers of some ability to resume 'normal' living if having corporate jobs, owning little boxes for homes and building a life around job, box and mate is normal.

My normal, at least a normal I long for, could also be called the heart goes first, in the sense that love would be the top priority in all human interaction. I think it already is the top priority but, alas, many of us huans miss that essential truth.

This was Margaret Atwood. I didn't even open the book until it was due but I decided, dammit, I would read it and pay overdue fines but I was going to read a book with such a romantic title. Not gooey love romantic but romantic in a larger sense, like romance languages and love sonnets about non-lover love and the romance of loving a newborn. So I ended up paying $2.20 in library fines.

And the book bored me. And I found it dissatisfying. The chick can write so she writes but her masterpieces appear to be behind her.

And who am I to even use the word masterpice, for I have not finished any novels.

I'm cooking with gas these days in my writng.  A couple weeks ago, a novel almost exploded within me. I'm still casting about to discern its tale but the charcters, the main ones, popped out unexpectedly, compelling me to pay attention and compelling my writers' group to pay attention.

I think that for the first time ever, when I aread my stuff, my few trusted listeners are spellbound. thankfully, they also laugh a lot.

what is wrong with the 'f' bomb

Seriously. What is wrong with using the word fuck often? I know some people have cultural stigmas against using profanity but what about people who don't share those biases?

I find it very satisfying to use the word fuck and, perhaps even more so, mother fuck.  I am usually voicing some anger, recounting a story in which I was unhappy and angry. It is so satisfying to get unhappy and angry profanity out. Such a release.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

take another piece of my heart



Didn't I make you feel like nobody else ever did? Come on . . take it, take another little piece of my heart, break another little bit of my heart. . . .

The era when Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Richie Havens and a few others is THE era in great music in my view.