Friday, October 31, 2014

my two year old's Halloween

When Rosie was two years old at Halloween 1984, we still lived in Omaha. I think both of us were still reeling from the custody battle. Maybe it wasn't quite over. Fortunately my memories of that bruising custody battle have faded.

My happy memories of being Rosie's mom live in me.

I had not rebuilt a social life after the legal separation because I was planning to move away as soon as a judge would let me which, I suspect, was the main reason my ex sued for custody. He didn't really want custody. He wanted to keep me trapped in Omaha until she left for college.

I could not live in Omaha just for an ex. I rationalized moving away by telling myself I had a duty to show my daughter how to make choices for one's self, how to be happy by seeing me move to be happy. It was wicked hard to petition the court, after years of custody crap, for permission to remove our minor from the jurisdiction of Nebraska. I prevailed and on New Year's Day 1985, we moved to Minneapolis, where I had gone to law school. So had her father but he was 'from' Omaha. I was from Chicago but loved Minneapolis.

Rosie was really into Strawberry Shortcake in 1984. She carried her Strawberry Shortcake doll with her always, slept with it. I have photos of her in bed in Strawberry. That Christmas, I bought an old doll cradle, painted it fresly white and made bedding from flannel covered in tiny springs of strawberries. The bed, of course, was for Strawberry. That's how into Strawberry my daughter was.

I used to have a photo of her trying to lay down in that doll cradle with strawberry. It was a large doll cradle but not large enough for a two year old.

So. Halloween. I took Rosie to a Halloween party at the Childrens Museum. She won a prize for best costume in her age group.

Now I am crying over the loss of my daughter. This memory is happy but thinking about her too long brings pain. It always ends up hurting.

Rosie wantd one of those junkie costumes that used to be sold in big box stores like Target with a crappy mask of Strawberry Shortcake and an even crappier dress made out of fabric made of toxic-laden fabric that itched.  In 1984, you could buy a crap costume like that for four or five bucks.

My mom had forbidden all her children from ever buying store bought costumes and I had internalized the practice. No way my kid was going to wear a costume-in-a-box, a cheap junk costume from Target.

One year she was Carmen Miranda. I sewed a bunch of plastic fruit on a headscarf stitch to form a hat with fruit on top. She wore a weird outfit my sister had given her as serious clothing to wear in life. It was way too big for her, for one thing. The top was slanted so some of the middriff would show if it had fit my toddler but being too big, it was modest. And the skirt was ruffled and rose up from ankle length to floor length. And garish fabric. It was a perfect college-age-auntie gift but too big for Rosie to wear as clothes. And it was PERFECT for Carmen Miranda. Rosie had no idea who Carmen Miranda was but she loved the swirly, ruffled dress, the make up that I laid on thick and she was happy.

The year she wanted to be Strawberry Shortcake, I made her up to look like a punk rockstar, sorta AC/DC kind of rock and roller. I painted her face half black and half white, zig=zagging the colors. Her eyes was a white star on the black side and a black moon on the white side.  Then I put on an adult-sized white t-shirt, belted it and draped her with cheap chains that you could buy by the yard at real hardware stores in those days. (I wonder if you can still buy chains by the yard?). And black tights.

It was an awesome costume, esp. on such a tiny creature with a squeaky voice. And she thought she was Strawberry Shortcake.

At the Halloween party, many would lean down and ask the adorable little girl "What are you supposed to be?"  She looked like a punk rocker, I assure you. She would squeakily chirp "I am Strawberry Shortcake."

After the party, which included some food, I stopped at a restaurant to buy her a real dinner. Mostly I stopped for dinner to prolong her fun being in costume, hearing everyone that passed us tell her she looked fantastic and asking her who she was. Over and over, she chirpily squeaked "I am Strawberry Shortcake."

Everytime my little punk rocker said, believing what she said "I am Strawberry Shortcake" I was very happy.  I loved her singleminded love of Strawberry and I loved my own cleverness, the clever costume and my good parenting. I had to be a pretty decent parent if my kid, painted like AC/DC instead of Strawberry Shortcake lived in her happy imagination all evening as SS.

Man that was a good time. Gosh I love her and miss her.

everyone wants happiness

8 ways forgiveness is good for your health


Thursday, October 30, 2014

my first costume/Halloween party in decades. . .

I am going to a slamming Halloween party that promises good food, lots of fun and even a costume contest.   I think the last time I was invited to a costume party was in law school and that wasn't for Halloween.

One of my classmates was quite wealthy. She held a costume ball once a year, every year. It was a family tradition, held at a fancy private club. I accepted her invitation but did not go because I couldn't think of a decent, cheap costume.

Tomorrow, after dropping lit to a lawyer running for El Cerrito City Council, I'm going to this Halloween party, sans costume. I ran out of money about a week ago and I literally have no money to even buy some face make up and paint my face like a punk rocker or something. I saw a good costume idea:  painting your face like a Cubist painting, all angels and different colors. Paint, face paint included, costs money.

I'm skint.

But I'm going to the party.

One cool thing about this crowd:  they have gluten-free options for food.

everything matters somehow

Every piece of the universe, even the tiniest little snow crystal, matters somehow. I have a place in the pattern, and so do you. --T.A. Barron

Food, poem by Anne Sexton

Food by Anne Sexton

I want mother's milk,
that good sour soup.
I want breasts singing like eggplants,
and a mouth above making kisses.
I want nipples like shy strawberries
for I need to suck the sky.
I need to bite also
as in a carrot stick.
I need arms that rock,
two clean clam shells singing ocean.
Further I need weeds to eat
for they are the spinach of the soul.
I am hungry and you give me
a dictionary to decipher.
I am a baby all wrapped up in its red howl
and you pour salt into my mouth.
Your nipples are stitched up like sutures
and although I suck
I suck air
and even the big fat sugar moves away.
Tell me! Tell me! Why is it?
I need food
and you walk away reading the paper.

I think this is about a woman needing to get her emotional needs 'fed'.  I need food like that. None of my emotional needs are met. I ache like a lonely house, for food, love, nurture, touch.


Yesterday after my writing group, which met high up in the Berkeley hills, a man in the group offered me a ride home.  I usually don't accept rides after this group to get in some walking but I have learned, from painful experience, that walking down the often steep Berkeley hills causes a lot of pain on my knees. So I accepted his offer.

He is a professional gardener/landscaper and was headed to work in his work truck. To get me in, he had to spend a significant amount of time re arranging stuff in the truck.

I had arrived at group late, which is very unlike me. I am fairly compulsive about being on time.

As I waited for him to clear the passenger seat, I said "The whole group felt different today. Do you think it was our regular host being missing and us meeting in an unfamiliar house?"

He said something that surprised me. He said "I think today's group was pretty much the same as always. I think you arriving late threw you off and today felt off to you because of that. I'm like that. I make a list in my head of what time I have to do things, what order I have to do them in, and even though I am not accountabe to anyone and I can easily change what I have decided, I push myself to stick to the time I initially planned in my head."

He was exactly right. My morning had felt thrown off because my rigid thinking had thrown it off.

Like a chicken's feathers can all puff up when the chicken becomes unsettled, I had become unsettled when I missed the bus that would have delivered me to the meeting on time.

It felt lovely to be seen and understood.

Plus he's a very attractive man. It was nice to be seen by such an attractive man. He's married so safe.

It was lovely to be seen for who I am by a nice and good llooking man. A friend, I guess. We've been sharing storiers of one another's lives for a long time now. I know all aobut his cancer recovery and he has heard about my life, my loves, my lost loves (like my daughter). Friends.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Giants win 3 World Series in 5 years!!!

I am not a sports fan but it is hard to ignore World Series fever completely.  I didn't watch the final game tonight but I could hear what was happening by the screams of all my courtyard neighbors.  One apartment sounded full of Royals fans. The Royals fans screamed out cheers for the royal Royals.For a few moments, some Giants fans sounded very angry but they were too excited and engaged with the game to do more than jeer at the Royals fans.

How did Kansas City Royals fans land in Berkeley?!   Lol.

I knew when the Giants won by the very loud, happy screaming. It died down quickly.

My dad, a compulsive gambler, would have had money on this year's World Series and every World Series and most Cub games, in spite of their sad history not making it to the World Series in his lifetime. He remained a Cubs' fan until he died. It was somewhat unusual because my dad grew up 'South of the Yards', the former stockyards that used to earn Chicago the title "slaughterhouse capital of the world", which really meant of this country but when I was a kid, 'the world' was America.

My dad grew up, as he often remarked, in the shadow of White Sox Park.  I don't know why his heart bonded with the Cubs. Perhaps he became a Cubs fan in adolescents when young people seek to be different. My dad was surrounded by White Sox fans but he'd hop the 'L' and go to Cubs games, alone often. 

My brothers, the ones that got into sports, were all White Sox fans, siding with dad's father, our grandpa Fitz.

One of the few happy connections my family had with my ex-husband was that my ex always went to Cubs gamees with my dad when we visited Chicago. My ex grew up in a city with no major league sports so he was thrilled to go to anything. And my dad, lonely as he aged and disappointed that his sons would never go to Cubs games, welcomed my ex's company.

Listening to my shouting and screaming neighbors cheer the Giants' new World Sries win this evening brought Chuck, my dad, alive for me. He would have cheered for the Giants since I live in Giants territory, but not if any Chicago team was in the mix.

And he hated the Royals. My ex loved the Royals. Kansas City was a few hours from where we lived while married and KC was our get-away city for weekend trips. We usually planned such trips around a Royals game.  Before he met me, my ex had never gone to a pro sports game, although he was fanatical about all sports, especially pro teams.  I never cared about sports but I encouraged my boyfriend, then fiance, then husband, then nothing, to go to games. So I went to games. It was the only period in my life when I did.

I wish there were no major league sports. I wish there were community teams, smaller budgets, more locally bonded.  You may say I am a dreamer, eh?

a sensual longing to connect: Pierre de Chardin

“There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.”
― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

on being cold

Many think of Chicago, the Windy City off the great lake, Lake Michigan. It is windy and it seemed cold growing up in Chicago.

Chicago is balmy compared to Minneapolis and further north in Minnesota. I was quite surprised, when I moved to MN for grad school, to discover that even though MN is much, much colder than Chicago, it was easier to endure winter there.  Minnesota has a dry winter, no humidity seeped into my bones.  In Chicago, it's always overcast. Chicago gets a few big snowstorms but the snow all melts away within a few days. In MN it gets cold and stays cold and the 'frost cover', the growing piles of snow, stay all winter. They don't melt away at all until spring. In MN, winters are dry and sunny, dry in the humidity sense of dry. Obviously snow itself is moisture.

I learned quickly to bundle up. Keeping feet dry and warm is crucial. Covering one's head. Scarf. Mittens. And a serious overcoat and wool sweaters, thick pants.

In MN, it can easily go below 30 degrees below zero, before windchilld, and stay that cold for weeks and weeks. Then warm up to zero for a few days and plunge back down.

Once, my daughter and I went on a family New Year's Retreat at Wolf Ridge, an educational enviroinmental center that brings school groups from citites so children experience wilderness and, I guess, wolves.  No school groups use the facility over the holidays so for New Year's they invite families, one per room.

The entire facility of wolf ridge was heated by a single wood burning fireplace that supposedly sent the heat throughout the building. I spent most of the week nuddled under my covers with my forbidden, small space heating blasting me in the face. Man, it was cold way up north, just south of the Canadian border. Sixty below all week.

Parents had to accompany children to outdoor activities. I ducked out of one late night telescope/stargazing event. You see a lot of stars up in the Boundary Waters Wilderness, esp. on a cold clear night. I was so cold.

I froze all week and I wore all my clothes all the time. That fireplace did not heat the building nearly enough.  I often sat on the fireplace ledge while others were ruggedly outdoors.

The coldest I have ever been was on the drive home, New Year's Day.  Rosie and I had promised ourselves that we would stop to see Gooseberry Falls, even though it was frozen. It is really cool to see that waterfall in bleak midwinter. It still pours over the rocks, still 'falls' but it is frozen in place.

We had been to Gooseberry Falls in summertime. It overlooks Lake Superior. It is in a State Park. It is really gorgeous.  On the drive up to Wolf Ridge, we had promised ourselves to stop at Gooseberry falls on the way home. So we did.

There was no one at the gate to the park to take our admission fee. There were no cars in the parking lots. Evidently no one sane went to Gooseberry Falls when it was forty to sixty below outside, before windchill. and i bet it got colder when one was right off the lake, with its strong winds and cold water.

Still, we stopped. When we first got out, all bundled up, we considered, for a second, jumping back in the warm car. We were so cold we were kinda dancing, our feet jumping up and down not just to warm up our bodies but to keep them off the frozen ground which seemed to seep cold through out stout Minnesota lined, waterproof warm boots and layers of wool socks.

As we jumped to keep warm, we quickly conferred. This was likely the only chance in our lifetime that we would see Gooseberry Falls in deep winter.

We ran down the path to the falls. Ran all around trying to take care to see everything. Man it was cold. We talked later when back in the car, headed down to the Cities. We had had very similar experiences. We had felt panic and joy, reverence for the sacred and respect for the power of that cold, not to mention the crashing Great Lake on the rocks below us.

There is something that feels sacred to me in such cold. Even more sacred is knowing that humans have always survived in such climates, always lived in harmony with the harshest climates.  Our fast dash around frozen Gooseberry Falls was so cold but it also felt sacred. We both felt a stillness come over us. We felt the power of nature to give and take life. We felt our own vulnerability.  We felt alive. We felt fragile and powerful. We felt nature's power to kill us. We felt our own power to live. And, trust me, we were both seriously well-dressed for the frigid weather.

Rosie had a thick down purple coat, a pair of super warm, high-tech fabric ski-snow pants, fleeced-lined boots, wool hat, wool mittens and a wool sweater.  And very seriously warm boots. I called her my purple polar bear. I also had a down coat, special warm pants, scarf around my fat, wool hat on head, wool mittens, good boots. In such weather, we mostly only let our eyes peak out and covered everything else. And you keep moving.

I am thinking about cold weather because I am nearly always cold in Berkeley. This summer, we had a rare-for-Berkeley hot summer. Usually it is only truly warm a few days.

I think the steady fog rolling in and out of the Bay seeps deep humidity into my body. I've lived here five years and I am still cold. I adjusted to Seattle's dampness in only two years.  I writing in my CA winter jacket and a blanket and I am still cold. My toes are freezing and I am wearing wool socks.

I'm always cold in Berkeley and SF, although nothing like the frigidity of Wolf Ridge at New Year's and Gooseberry Falls on New Year's Day.

I wish I could convey to those who have not spent time in truly frigid weather how magical deep cold can be. And how beautiful deep, bleak midwinter can be. Snow, of course, is very beautiful. So are ice storms.  The beauty I am reflecting on is the power of nature, not what one sees.

If I could survive a hike to Gooseberry falls when it was forty or fifty below, or lower, before windchilld, a quick hike to be sure, I should be able to acclimate to Berkeley. So far, however, I have not.

up in Berkeley hills . . .

I am watching a BART train travel south across El Cerrito. It has to be El Cerrito because BART is underground through Berkeley.  I see the Golden Gate, Highway 580 along the bay, the Marina, another BART heading north. If I turn my head to the left, i see downtown SF, Twin Peaks, Bay Bridge and water water everywhere, not to drink -- salt water in the bay, right?

I am at Mary Anne Huckabay's house

She is much smaller in person than I had believed from photos. She perfectly matches her wife in size, however.  I have imagined her as a towering person and persona. She humble got me a water glass, greeted all the writers and walked away.  They are as adorable as a couple can be, two small, beautiful and adorable little old women in love and partnership.

And they live in a kickass house high in the Berkeley hills. I chose the chaise lounge. I am looking at the Golden Gate, see Mt. TAm, see the Berkeley Marina and see downdown SF and the Bay Bridge. I look at the view and type blind.  Fun.

Why do such views draw humans? 

Our regular host is at a hospital with her husband who has some skin cancer that is first being tested today.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

on eating animals . . .

Been sitting with this question recently, it is mostly directed to folks who believe humans should eat no animal flesh:  many animals eat other animals. Lions, tiger, bears, cougars, cheetahs, fish large and small.

Why can non-human animals eat animals but humans can't?

If someone is familiar with the  lost salmon economy of the Pacific Northwest, when wild salmon was unbelievably abundant and truly served as a form of currency to meet other needs. . .well, it is hard to believe it was wrong to eat some of that abundant salmon.

Just wunnering.

giving bananas to homeless people

Out of bananas, I walked to Trader Joe's yesterday to get bananas. The bananas were all small. I am sure other shoppers have noticed that beginning about a year ago, TJ"s bananas started getting smaller. Twenty nine cents for an organic large banana is a much better bargain than 29 cents for a pretty small one. Still, TJ's is an easy walk and still end up cheaper than buying by the pound at other stores, just not as cheap as they used to be. The march of inflation seems to impact food first.

It's also the end of the month and I am flat tap broke, save for a few dollars, which I decided to spend on bananas. I eat at least one banana a day. I like to mash a banana, add cinnamon and egg, blend and cook like a pancake:   yum yum. Or just eat one, often with some almond butter.

Walking home, I came upon an old woman, much older than me I suspect in her bed on the grass between a parking lot and the sidewalk. She was on top of all her worldly goods.  I offered her a banana and she initially rejected it. She said "It will attract ants." I said "These are tiny bananas, if you eat it right away and put the peel in a trash bin, no ants." So she took it.

A couple blocks away, with me walking an internecine route to get in my FitBit steps for the day, I passed a young male panhandler who looked me in the eye, said he was hungry and would I give him money for food. I said "It's the end of the month, I have no money for myself but I'll give you one of my bananas if you like."  "No, thanks," he said, "I'm good." I concluded he was not actually hungry, eh?

It was just as well for me. I won't have money until Saturday and I need all the bananas I had left.

I just ate a small ripe one now. The other, green-y bunch is slowly ripening and should be ready by the time the ripe ones are gone.

Bananas have become important to me. 

I am looking forward to buying some persimmons when I have money again on Saturday. Yum yum yum.

one of my finest traits

One of my finest traits, perhaps my finest, is I let things go. True, true, in the past I have taken things harder than most and I have offloaded my pain, only sometimes, recklessly onto others. No matter how unhappy an interaction has ever been with someone, esp. someone I love, I let it go. For me, letting go of past conflict means that within me it is as if it never happened.  I like this about me.  I like me.  I love me.
I let things go.
I don't let people go quite so smoothly. I grieve the loss of people I love forever. For example, I last saw my daughter in August 2001 and my grief grows deeper. Let go of wanting my daughter in my life? I don't think I have it in me and I don't want to have that ability. Letting go of friends I have loved very much who dumped me?  I don't want to have the ability to let go of people I have loved. People can leave me but, within my being, they remain alive for me, not unlike the way my parents are still alive in me even though they have passed.
I let things go. I don't let go of love. I like this about me. I love this about me. I love me.

basic income 4 all Americans?

If humanity does not snuff itself out, or snuff out the planet, which is the same thing, giving everyone a basic income will happen. Doing so will make us human again.

if you want the rainbow, you must have the rain


(Oscar Levant (m) / Billy Rose / Mort Dixon (l) )

First sung by Fannie Brice, then  by Annette Hanshaw Oct 1928 < Harmony and Diva Labels >
This video, if it works, was sung by Lee Morse, also in 1928.  How cool we have such old recordings.  

Youtube would not let me post Annette Hanshaw's video.

What does it matter if rain comes your way

And raindrops patter along

For rain descending should not make you blue

The happy ending is waiting for you.

Take your share of troubles

Face it and don't complain

If you want the rainbow

You must have the rain.

Happiness comes double

After a little pain

If you want the rainbow

You must have the rain.

What if your love affair should breakup

As they sometimes will

When you kiss and makeup

Boy, what a thrill.

Sadness ends in gladness

Showers are not in vain

If you want the rainbow

You must have the rain.

Look for brighter weather

Or watch for the sun again

If you want the rainbow

Then you must have the rain.

Pull yourself together

Whistle a happy strain

If you want the rainbow

Then you must have the rain.

So if your lucky star deserts you

And if shadows fall

Even though it hurts you

Laugh through it all.

Be a cheerful looser

You have the world to gain

If you want the rainbow

Why you just must have the rain.

That's all!


(Catherine) Annette Hanshaw, an American, was a blues and jazz singer

from the 1920s and early 1930s and was purportedly one of the first

female jazz singers of that era.

She was known as 'The Personality Girl' or later as the 'The Flapper

Girl' by her followers and fit the 1920s period perfectly with her

flapper style and sweet innocent-sounding voice. She often ended her

songs with the cute tag "That's All".

forgiveness is for yourself

many visionaries have seen the right path

Monday, October 27, 2014

eating well = self love

I am very proud of how disciplined I have become about food. Yes, I very occasionally slip and eat some dairy or sugar but not often, and never much of that stuff.

Instead, I eat fruit and veggies daily, supplemented with small servings of protein.  I love good eggs that have had no chemicals added to their feed and been pastured. I enjoy the rare, expensive piece of wild salmon. And rare quality, pastured, no chemical-in-feed chickens, which are expensive.

At my farmers market, the chicken vendor sells the whole chicken, plucked of all feathers but the feet and head are sealed into the sucked-plastic bag. I like letting that whole chicken simmer all day, with a fine mire-a-poix (sp?) to begin the seasoning and various spices depending on my mood. Indian curry one day. Mexican chili spicy another. Bland chicken soup another -- but the bland route is quite unusual for me. White soaked beans that are in the pot from the beginning. The longer I simmer, the more flavor the beans absorb. I cool off the whole pot to debone the chicken, then reheat. When the simmer returns, I usually dump in a ton of chopped spinach. I used to dump in whole spinach leaves but they dangle off soup spoons, dribbling on my shirt so now I chop the greens.

Tonight:  I braised a bunch of spinach in garlc-infused olive oil, tossing just a dash of tamari when the spinach was ready. Tamari gives it a zing I quite like, a zing that makes the meal sing (for me). And I just pan baked the salmon lid closed for the steam effect, a spritz of lemon juice and pink Himalayan salt.

The taste difference between Morton's heavily chemicalized salt and natural salt is wonderful. I have not eaten any chemicalized salt in at least five years. More. And I am so fond of the pink Himalayan salt that I have had a jar of Irish Sea gray salt crystals for years that I haven't opened. I can't give up the pink. Each natural salt has nutrients that the others don't necessarily have. It might be good to change up my salt but I am so into the pink Himalayan. And it is said to be very good for a body.

Awesome supper:  wild salmon with lemon, braised spinach with garlic and tamari.

Yum, yum, yum. and barely a carb, no need to inject any insulin before my dinner. Yea Tree.  If I love me enough, someone will come along and love me also.  I pray.

this is awesome

Years ago, when I first moved to CA, in 2006, I lost a lot of weight in the first year and a half. One time, I bought a new pair of smaller jeans and wore them to SFMOMA two days later. While waiting to get into the museum, my new, smaller pants literally fell down, slipping off my waist. I caught them in time so I wasn't standing in SFMOMA in my underpants. I gotta tell ya, that was fun. Losing a lot of weight is a whole lot of fun.

Now I am experiencing a new weight loss fun.

My yoga pants, lycra/spandex kinds of pants, that I began to wear because they stretch comfortably on a fat  body and are usually warm, at least warm for N. Cali.

Well, now my yoga pants are getting baggy on me. They bunch up all up and down my legs. My legs just don't fill them in.

I am flat tap broke so I can't buy new ones but it is fun wearing pants that used to tightly but comfortably encase my legs and fanny sorta hanging loose.  This is also awesome fun.

why it is wise to love a woman

"At the essence of every woman’s heart is the divine feminine. It contains everything that has ever been beautiful, or lovely, or inspiring, in any woman, anywhere, at any time. The very essence of every woman’s heart is the peak of wisdom, the peak of inspiration, the peak of sexual desirability, the peak of soothing, healing love. The peak of everything. But it’s protected, for good reason, by a series of concentric walls.
To move inwardly from one wall to the next requires that you intensify your capacity to devotion, and as you do so, you are rewarded with Grace. This is not something you can negotiate verbally with a woman. She doesn’t even know consciously how to open those gates herself. They are opened magically and invisibly by the keys of worship.
If you stand on the outside of the outermost wall, all you have available to you, like many other unfortunate men, is pornography. For $1.99 a minute, you can see her breasts, maybe her vagina, and you can stimulate yourself in a sad longing for deeper love. Step through another gate, and she will show you her outer gift-wrapping. She’ll look at you with a certain twinkle of her eye. She’ll answer your questions coyly. She’ll give you just the faintest hint that there is more available. Step through another gate with your commitment, with your attention, with the small seedlings of devotion, and she’ll open her heart to you more. She’ll share with you her insecurities, the way that she’s been hurt, her deepest longings.
Some men will back away at this point. They realize that the price they must pay to go deeper is more than they are willing to give. They start to feel a responsibility. But for those few who step though another gate, they come to discover her loyalty, her willingness to stick with you no matter what, her willingness to raise your children, stick up for you in conversation, and, if you are lucky, even pick up your dirty socks now and then.
And so it goes on. You’ve got the gist by now. Somewhere around the second wall from the center, she casts the veils of her personality aside, and shows you that she is both a human being and also a portal into something much greater than that. She shows you a wrath that is not hers, but all womens’. She shows you a patience that is also universal. She shows you her wisdom. At this point you start to experience the archetypes of women, who have been portrayed as goddesses and mythological figures in every tradition.
Then, at the very center, in the innermost temple itself, all the layers of your devotion are flooded with reward all at once. You discover the very essence of the feminine, and in a strange way that is not exactly romantic, but profoundly sacred all the same, you realize that you could have got here with any woman if you had just been willing to pass through all the layers of initiation. Any woman is every woman, and every woman is any woman at the same time. When you love a woman completely, at the very essence of her being, this is the one divine feminine flame."
:: Arjuna Ardagh

Emotion? Energy? What is Love?


This link takes you to the Fetzer Institute's website with a good article on love.

Love, especially loving around human impedments, can be hard work.  Love, however challenging, is always worth the work of love.

do not be afraid to love

"Be not afraid to love. Even when love is not requited, you will be forever richer for having loved." Swami Kriyananda
 I love easily. I take it hard when my love is not requited when I want it to be.  I need to work on this.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

friendship is weird

a strolling violinist

I'll be way sad if my candidate does not win. He will. He will.

Win or lose, I'll be glad all the hard work I have been doing will be over.  I've walked 250+ miles since July. I walk five miles or more daily, not just on canvassing days. The walking will continue.

But canvassing is hard. It has its rewards and I see the silver lining. I have experienced much joy on the canvassing trail. I have also experienced lots of slammed doors, angry voters, very hot sun beating down on me*, rain, rejection.  It's hard out there. Worth it, with rewards.

My favorite canvassing moment so far:  the strolling violinist, playing his violin as he walked his dog.

war maintains hierarchy: orwell

I hope I'm this kind of crazy

firefly lights make gold

Someone told me and my childhood best friend, probably some well-meaning adult relative of one of us, that if you caught enough fireflies, or lightning bugs, tore off the part of their body that lights up, catching enough smeared 'light' part of that life form and smeared the light around one finger, using enough to form a ring, and then slept with lighting bug former 'light' smeared around your ring finger all night, you would wake up with a gold ring on your finger.

Nice fairy magic, eh?!

The name fireflies is prettier than lightning bugs. We called them both in my childhood.

My best friend moved in when I was six or seven so i was at least six or seven. I like that I still believed I could magically acquire a gold ring.

At the time, I gave no thought to destroying a couple dozen fireflies to win my gold ring.

I tried to get my gold ring twice.   We stayed out as late as we possibly could. We even moved down the block, so our parents could not look outside, see us, and remember to call us in. In peak summer in Chicago, it doesn't get dark until pretty late. We had to wait until it was really dark for the fireflies to begin lighting up the night.

Heck, fireflies are magical.  Little flickers of light all around one on a summer's night is magic.

I wish an adult in our lives had pointed out firefly magic, just the existence of fireflies being magic.

I killed a lot of butterflies the first night for I somewhat greedily wanted a thick golden ring.

Of course I did not find a gold ring on my finger the next morning. Undeterred yet, I tried again. When the smeared firefly lights on my finger did not become a gold ring after two attempts, I realized it was bunk and not a fairy or magic story.

I still found much magic in fireflies themselves. It is magical, isn't it?  Tiny bugs with tails that light up in the dark flying around on warm nights.

I haven't seen a firefly in years.

My daughter and I went camping in Minnesota. I don't remember seeing fireflies in any Minnesota woods.

In hindsight, I am amazed that fireflies filled out South Side Chicsgo evenings. Right in the city.

Fireflies. Magic.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

on the campaign trail in Piñole. . . .

A nice guy -- I think we were in Piñole but we might have been in Giant (new name to me) -- he had not heard of Tony or Tony's opponent, had no awareness the state assembly seat was open but he was open to listening to me. When we seemed done, I asked him 'on a scale of 1 to 5" he said "Five. The fact that you are here, at my door, talking Tony up really impresses me, that he has such support."  As I walked away, the two of us happy and laughing, he still at his front door, I said "You are doing the right thing, voting for Tony, and I am not the least bit biased so you should listen to me."  I am sure my teasing went over fine.

Interactions like that make up for sun, rain, hills, steps, brush-offs, people who are obviously home but ignore my ring.

I felt warm, fuzzy and happy.

I also enjoyed canvassing Cypress Avenue on the side right on the bay. Just imagine. Folks in relatively humble, somewhat dated tract housing live right on the bay. Along Cypress, I felt mist much of the time. It was light. The wind was blustery all day and I quite enjoyed the way the blustery air sprayed the fine mist all over me.  It had stopped raining just a block or two off the water but right there, wet mist. Delightful.

dodge the car lights

My back hurts.

My knees hurt.

My fingers hurt.

My feet hurt.

My elbows hurt.

Canvassing is hard work.

I canvassed today in unincorpoated 'Giant' and, maybe, a bit of Piñole. The area appeared to have been classic sixties suburbs where all the streets curve, dead-end or cul-de-sac. Such a design was intended, if I recall correctly, to keep traffic slower, make the streets safe for kids. In the sixties, believe it or not, kids played in the street all the time.

One of my favorite memories growing up on Chicago's South Side was playing in the streets. Once or twice every summer, every kid on the block would create a gigantic game-board-like drawing on most of the block, like hop-scotch but more complex. We'd play a particular game endlessly. When a car came down our block, we all ran too play 'dodge the carlights'. You had to hide behind the wheel of a car and when the car passed, no light could light your body. If you managed this, you 'won' dodge the carlights.  When my bully brother was lurking, he sometimes would muscle me away from a spot I had scored first. If a car light touched any fraction of you, and it was most likely to 'touch' your feet, you lost.

Then we would quickly resume our game board intrigue. Sometimes we played baseball in the street. With baseball, kids would just move to the side and let cars pass.

The elaborate board games we drew with chalk on the street was so exciting at every age. When I was still pretty little, it was a thrill just to watch the big kids. And when I was a big kid, it was a thrill to be a leader, unless my brother the mean bully was around. He liked to pick on me because hitting other kids got him in trouble. My parents never disciplined him for pounding on me so he did so often.

Once, when I was no longer living at home but bully bro was living with dad and one of our youngest brothers, bully bro, who I suspect might be manic depressive or otherwise really nuts, would hit our little brother, the only one still living with dad (the two littlest kids moved to Ohio with our mother when our parents divorced and mom probably should not have left my six year old brother with my dad). Bully bro would tell little bro that Murgatroyd lived in the closet of bully bro's bedroom and Murgatroyd would 'tell' bully bro* to hit little bro and then he would. And he hurt little bro. And our father knew about this daily torment of little bro.

I once asked my dad why he put up with that Murgatroyd shit, knowing his adult son in law school was beating on his eight, nine, ten year old son. My dad, a hapless, weak man I guess, shrugged and said "What do you want me to do?"

I said "Act like a father?"

My dad was so angry when I said that. Probably angry with himself but he directed his anger at me.

He said "Your mother and I have never been able to get bully bro to stop picking on the rest of you." and he seemed, my dad, to feel very genuinely powerless.

I did not parent a bullying child but I think some discipline and punishment could have shaped my bully brother at least some.  He was never punished.

Once, when I was in 7th grade and bully bro in 8th grade, my class exited school first. Classes would exit one at a time, in varying order. I exited early one day and then stood to wait for my best friend and next door neighbor to walk home with. She was in another class. Before my friend's class was let out, my older bully bro exited school and when he saw me, he made a beeline to me, jumed up like he was lining up to take a basketball jump shot and, on the down-jump, his fist clenched and raised, he hit me in the left eye as hard as he could, the jump adding some power to the sock.  I ended up with a wicked purple-black eye.  My folks made no effort to punish him. The nuns at school tried to get my folks to issue some punishment when they saw my black eye and learned how I got it.

Of course, the nuns at my school also told my parents not to waste money on a Catholic high school for my bully brother. They said he was destined for prison at a young age and there was no point in wasting tuition on him. My parents were so into Catholic stuff that they send my bully bro and I guess the nuns were wrong. He never went to prison and was, for many years, a judge.

What is eliciting these factured memories out of me?  I never lived in an internecine, cul-de-sac laden suburb, not in my youth or adulthood. Even as a kid, I hated neighborhoods full of cul de sacs, for some reason.

I like grids. Most Midwestern cities are on the Great Plains and have easy-to-navigate grids. Here in the Bay Area, with very different terrain . . . . I am running out of gas.

Canvassing was hard today. I don't want to canvass anymore but I will do tomorrow and next weekend.  It is painfully exhausting to canvass and often emotionally stressful.  Although, having griped a bit, I will say canvassing in great practice in learning not to take others' behavior as a personal judgment about me. I face rejection all day when canvassing and it all slides over me like water off a duck's back. And I remain impeccably equanimous, no matter how voters treat me because I do not want to jeopardize my candidate's image. It's good practice in mindfulness, detachment, equanimity and compassion.  I am sometimes amazed at how cheerfully polite I sound as folks act weird, angry, rejecting, unkind or just dismissive.

I'm so tired I can't stop writing.

rain, canvassing, moral campasses

Canvassing is hard work. Today will be my first rainy day trudging up and down suburban streets to support my candidate.

His opponent is fighting a dirty campaign. She clearly has no moral compass, willing to do whatever it takes to win. She has no issues to campaign on so she uses useless bromides like mailers urging women to vote for her because she is a woman, or because she grew up in Berkeley (altho now she lives in Oakland). She has used smear mailers against my candidate, including stooping so low as to use photo of him with his two little girls in the smear mailer. That's low.

She has a little girl. I wrote to her, via her campaign website, and pointed out that things live on forever in Google, that someday her daughter will be able to google her mom and find out how badly the mother behaved in this campaign.

I'm canvassing up in Piñole today. It is said Tony Thurmond will win up in Contra Costa County. The Bates Machine seems to hold great sway in Berkeley, so much sway that most Berkeley residents see this seat in the state assembly as 'the Berkeley seat' but the district spans Piedmont, Oakland, Emeryville, Albany, El Cerrito, Richmond, El Sobrante, Piñole and a few other municipalities up north, an area I am unfamiliar with. It is not a Berkeley seat!

I really like Tony Thurmond but I think the main motivation that got me so involved in this particular campaign is Tom Bates, Berkeley's mayor. The man is despicable, and has dominated East Bay politics for far too long. His wife used to be Berkeley's mayor but when Tommy got termed out of the state assembly, he and his wife switched public offices.

I am reminded of the original Mayor Daley in Chicago, who ran a tightly controlled dominance over the whole city and much of the state.  My dad was a precinct captain in the Chicago machine, mostly because he had a city job and had to pay his dues for the job. It was often said of the first Mayor Daley, not to be confused with his son who was mayor for a while later on, that when the head wagged in Chicago, the tail would wag in Springfield, where Illinois' state legislature works.

Bates seems to think when he nods his head, his chosen people should be rewarded with elected office. Elizabeth Echols has little to offer, no history in elected office. All she can run on is twisting feminism and smearing Tony. Fuck her.

It's going to be hard if Tony doesn't win. I'll be disappointed that I will not be repped by Tony. but I will be sick that an amoral sycophant will be representing me instead.

Tony not only has 8 years experience in elected office but he has a moral compass. All public servants should have one.

Friday, October 24, 2014

more humanity, more care, more love: william golding

We need more humanity, more care, more love. There are those who expect a political system to produce that; and others who expect the love to produce the system. My own faith is that the truth of the future lies between the two and we shall behave humanly and a bit humanely, stumbling along, haphazardly generous and gallant, foolishly and meanly wise until the rape of our planet is seen to be the preposterous folly that it is.
WILLIAM GOLDING, Nobel Lecture, Dec. 7, 1983

I read "Lord of the Flies" while in high school from 1967 to 1971. I think I was assigned the book my sophomore year. At the time, I thought the book had been written in the 19th Century and William Golding had long been dead.

Just now I learned he lived until 1993.

Not many books have impacted me as sharply as Lord of the Flies.  I wished I had not read it back then. I have reread many books that impacted me greatly but I could not reread this one. Whatever I remember, it's enough.

I'm Nobody, Who are You? -- ED

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you - Nobody - too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Dont tell! they'd advertise - you know!

How dreary - to be - Somebody!
How public - like a Frog -
To tell one's name - the livelong June -
To an admiring Bog!

This is one of Emily Dickinson's most popular poems.
I most def am nobody.  Hush.

defeat Pepsi & Coke in Berkeley, CA!!! Vote Yes on Measure D.

Vote Yes on Measure D. Vote yes for a tiny tax on sugar.  This is just a tiny step towards ending the scourge of sugar. It is analogous to the many decades it took, with tobacco companies spending millions to suppress the idea that ciggies cause cancer.  It took decades to get a 'warning' on cigarette packs. It took decades to get cigarettes taxed highly to help pay for what ciggies cost society in bad health. Taxpayers fund healthcare for lots of victims of tobacco and sugar.

empathy/compassion retreat at Stanford

I was just offered a free registration at a retreat focused on meditating to develop one's empathic and compassionate capacities. Score!

And I am going to attend a week of Empathy and Compassion conferences. Four events altogether, counting the retreat. 


The retreat will be at Stanford. Everything else will be at Fort Mason.

I'm earning my keep. I working to organize lots of stuff behind the scenes for three of the four events.


another take on INFJ, so me, esp. the part about being tender and caring but particularly sensitive to conflict, and then, sometimes, not always, moving into anger because I sorta short circuit when in midst of conflict.

I like the INFJ. I like me.

This is from and is supposed to be based on Jungian personality typing. Who knows.


Portrait of an INFJ - Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging
(Introverted Intuition with Extraverted Feeling)

The Protector

As an INFJ, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you take things in primarily via intuition. Your secondary mode is external, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit with your personal value system.
INFJs are gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive individuals. Artistic and creative, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities. Only one percent of the population has an INFJ Personality Type, making it the most rare of all the types.
INFJs place great importance on havings things orderly and systematic in their outer world. They put a lot of energy into identifying the best system for getting things done, and constantly define and re-define the priorities in their lives. On the other hand, INFJs operate within themselves on an intuitive basis which is entirely spontaneous. They know things intuitively, without being able to pinpoint why, and without detailed knowledge of the subject at hand. They are usually right, and they usually know it. Consequently, INFJs put a tremendous amount of faith into their instincts and intuitions. This is something of a conflict between the inner and outer worlds, and may result in the INFJ not being as organized as other Judging types tend to be. Or we may see some signs of disarray in an otherwise orderly tendency, such as a consistently messy desk.
INFJs have uncanny insight into people and situations. They get "feelings" about things and intuitively understand them. As an extreme example, some INFJs report experiences of a psychic nature, such as getting strong feelings about there being a problem with a loved one, and discovering later that they were in a car accident. This is the sort of thing that other types may scorn and scoff at, and the INFJ themself does not really understand their intuition at a level which can be verbalized. Consequently, most INFJs are protective of their inner selves, sharing only what they choose to share when they choose to share it. They are deep, complex individuals, who are quite private and typically difficult to understand. INFJs hold back part of themselves, and can be secretive.
But the INFJ is as genuinely warm as they are complex. INFJs hold a special place in the heart of people who they are close to, who are able to see their special gifts and depth of caring. INFJs are concerned for people's feelings, and try to be gentle to avoid hurting anyone. They are very sensitive to conflict, and cannot tolerate it very well. Situations which are charged with conflict may drive the normally peaceful INFJ into a state of agitation or charged anger. They may tend to internalize conflict into their bodies, and experience health problems when under a lot of stress.
Because the INFJ has such strong intuitive capabilities, they trust their own instincts above all else. This may result in an INFJ stubborness and tendency to ignore other people's opinions. They believe that they're right. On the other hand, INFJ is a perfectionist who doubts that they are living up to their full potential. INFJs are rarely at complete peace with themselves - there's always something else they should be doing to improve themselves and the world around them. They believe in constant growth, and don't often take time to revel in their accomplishments. They have strong value systems, and need to live their lives in accordance with what they feel is right. In deference to the Feeling aspect of their personalities, INFJs are in some ways gentle and easy going. Conversely, they have very high expectations of themselves, and frequently of their families. They don't believe in compromising their ideals.
INFJ is a natural nurturer; patient, devoted and protective. They make loving parents and usually have strong bonds with their offspring. They have high expectations of their children, and push them to be the best that they can be. This can sometimes manifest itself in the INFJ being hard-nosed and stubborn. But generally, children of an INFJ get devoted and sincere parental guidance, combined with deep caring.
In the workplace, the INFJ usually shows up in areas where they can be creative and somewhat independent. They have a natural affinity for art, and many excel in the sciences, where they make use of their intuition. INFJs can also be found in service-oriented professions. They are not good at dealing with minutia or very detailed tasks. The INFJ will either avoid such things, or else go to the other extreme and become enveloped in the details to the extent that they can no longer see the big picture. An INFJ who has gone the route of becoming meticulous about details may be highly critical of other individuals who are not.
The INFJ individual is gifted in ways that other types are not. Life is not necessarily easy for the INFJ, but they are capable of great depth of feeling and personal achievement.

Jungian functional preference ordering:
Dominant: Introverted Intuition
Auxiliary: Extraverted Feeling
Tertiary: Introverted Thinking
Inferior: Extraverted Sensing

Blessed Unrest: Paul Hawken

This video of Paul Hawken is from 2007 but the message remains timely. He speaks of a democracy movement, justice movement, indigenous movement.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

a radical act

"Perhaps the most radical act we can commit is to stay home."
"I really believe that to stay home, to learn the names of things, to realize who we live among...The notion that we can extend our sense of community, our idea of community, to include all life forms — plants, animals, rocks, rivers and human beings — then I believe a politics of place emerges where we are deeply accountable to our communities, to our neighborhoods, to our home. Otherwise, who is there to chart the changes? If we are not home, if we are not rooted deeply in place, making that commitment to dig in and stay put ... if we don't know the names of things...our lives become abstractions. Then we enter a place of true desolation."
~ Terry Tempest Williams

I met her at Bioneers. Also heard her talk but I got to actually talk to her a bit. She's lovely, inside and out.

Own your stories . . and tell them

dead cow

A Berkeley friend just went to MN for her Mankato MN 50th high school reunion. When signing up for the reunion, she asked for vegetarians meals and she was asked 'what do vegetarians eat?"

I guess Mankato is very different from the Twin Cities, which I moved to in 1976 and lived there until 1998.

we all need to . . .

you need to learn to love those little imperfections in those you love . . . that's what love is, loving around the impediments

missing SFMOMA

The first time I ever went to SFMOMA was in 1995. My sister was spending the summer studying Russian at UC Berkeley, in some intensive program. I was in the process of moving to N. CA (I did move here but did not stay long, my ex threatening my life if I kept our daughter here).

One morning, I walked my sister to the campus entry by Sproul Plaza. In those days, near the campus, there were many crazy people/characters. One guy stood all day every day just at the entrance to campus at Bancroft and Telegraph imitating Frank Sinatra and singing Frank Sinatra songs. Another guy positioned himself in front of the long-gone Cody's books shouting the same things all day.

And then when I got over to SF, near the Embacadero BART exit, there was another crazy man who stood in the same spot every day (I saw him several times) ranting incoherently but with passion. It sure seemed as if the poor fellow believed he was shouting something important. I heard that he had a family who cared for him, who would drop him off and pick him up.

I have not seen ranting crazies in Berkeley since I moved here in 2009. Oh, I see the occasional crazy-seeming homeless person but none who set themselves up at the same spot day after day and make noise.

SFMOMA in 1995 was very different than SFMOMA when I moved to CA again in 2006. And SFMOMA had another renovation since 2006. Right now, of course, SFMOMA is undergoing a major, huge change that has it shut down for two years. Gosh, I miss that museum.

The show I saw at my first SFMOMA visit in '95 penetrated me. I believe it was a Jenny Holzer show but I am not sure of the artist's name. It was verbal art. Later, when I trained to be a docent at The Walker in Minneaoplis, I was assigned to write a paper on Jenny Holzer. Pretty much all her work is words. She started out with words on paper, then etched them into stones a bit like etching words on gravestones. AT the Walker, in the sculpture garden, there used to be (and perhaps still is) a square of small benches, each carved with some of Holzer's words.

A writer myself, so a word artist, I had never considered words as a medium for visual art.  I remember reading one after another of framed words in that long ago SFMOMA exhibit, which may or may not have been Holzer. The words were not always penetrating but the words penetrating me. What penetrated me was art that teached me where I am most tender, most evolved:  language. I am a language artist. Eaach phrase in that show pierced me. If it was Holzer, or whoever it was, they had a knack for coming up with phrases that, simultaneously, didn't say much but said a lot. Cleverly ambiguous.

I wish I could go backin time and see that show.

When my sister and I got to Bancroft, she pointed towards Shattauck to tell me where the BART station was that would get me over to the city. She began to give more instructions about getting around the city but I stopped her saying "I speak the language". And then I went to a language art exhibit.

I miss my sister, who now lives in Albania.  I miss everyone I have loved.  I am aching today and I don't know what I ache about.

monarch butterflies

The last time I was canvassing for a politician, ten days ago or so, I saw six monarch butterflies in a yard. I was standing on someone's front porch. They did not answer. As I turned to leave, I saw the monarchs. Then I hoped someone would answer so they could see the butterflies too. Also, I longed to ask a resident in that house if their front yard regularly attracted several monarch butterflies.

I have walked over 350 miles in Berkeley, Oakland and a few other nearby suburbs since July. This is the first time in years I saw monarch butterflies. In North Oakland.  Lovely.

It was lovely, feeling magical.

money talks and usually wins


SF, like many cities across America, rent some of their public spaces for private parties.

As this article mentions, a portion of Civic Center Plaza is regularly used for tai chi by some Asian woman. Recently they were evicted from tai chi because Salesforce, one of the endless tech companies taking over SF like Godzilla, had rented the space.  Is this right?

What do you think?

On a tiny scale, I have experienced a public park being rented out to private business that interfered with a birthday party for my daughter. The party's theme was water. First we planned a water balloon fight, then we ate lunch and cake and then we all headed over to the very nearby beach. This was in Minneapolis, which has great parks and some great beaches on some of the parks' lakes.

The area with the water fountain, which we needed to use to have the water balloon fight, had been rented out to shoot a commercial.

However, I'm not a lawyer for nothing.  The film crew did not want happily noisy kids playing nearby and told me they could not use the water fountain. I pointed out that they had not rented the public water fountain, their shoot had taken over most of the field for our water balloon fight and no fucking way were they also taking over the water fountain, which they had not rented.

I hoped the kids would be even noisier than they were.

This was an area with play ground stuff, like swings, sandbox, monkey bars, quite close to the bandshell, the lake and had one of the few water fountains around this particularly lake and park.

Say, public water fountains are rare in the Bay Area. I wonder if they are still as common as they used to be in MN when I lived there? Another question.

Should money be able to buy the use of publicly owned and publicly used public space?  Maybe. However, I think the prices should be exorbitant and I think ousted groups should be compensated, which is part of the reason I think the prices should be exorbitant -- to compensate those ousted from publicly owned space.

Capitalism is such a rapatious, hungry monster. I am reminded of the children's book 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar".  Capitalism always wants more and more and more. Being rich is no longer enough. They want it all.

caring about environment like some care about sports

Great analogy, sadly funny video.

encouraging language in babies/toddlers

I did many things, when my daughter was an infant, then a toddler and even into the early grades, to encourage language skills.

My favorite memory is that I would talk to her only in rhyming sentences, rhyming couplets.  AT first, I could only do it for a few sentences but gradually I got to the point where I could talk in rhyming couplets all day long. This definitely stimulated her thinking about language, for she would hear the first line and start speculating on how I was going to pull off a rhyme. When I would come up with a particularly tricky rhyme on the second line, how she would giggle. And she was proud of me.

We were both amazed that I could go for hours talking that way,

I had always wondered how Shakespeare could do all his work in iambic pentameter. My rhyning couplet talk with Rosie revealed to me his secret. The more you challenge yourself to think in rhyme, the more you do It's a habit, like most, even all, things. The more you do it, the better you get.

As a very young toddler, and this memory is when we still lived in Omaha, which we left when she was 2 so she was very young, I would show her the area on grocery shelves where something she wanted was. I would show her the first letter of the word for what she wanted. And then I would say "If you can find a jar, or can, that begins with this letter, you will find what you want and we will buy it. She always found what she wanted but sometimes it took a bit studying the many shelves to find it.

Another grocery store game:  when buying apples or bananas, I would say "We will buy as many as you can count." She could only count one the first time so we bought one apple. But by the next trip to the grocery store, she had upped her game.  first three, then six. Then Ten.

She's smart. She  always learned anything fast.

I read poems, Made up poems. Wrote off the cuff stories. I'd say "tell me what you'd like a story about and I will write it."

Once she brought over a friend named Maddie to show off my story writing, urging Maddie to tell me what kind of story to write for her. Maddie did. I did.

I loved being a mom. I know I was good at it. How could she abandon me?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

come home to Your Self

the best friends

Scotland's burning

As anyone who has raised a child that played a string instrument knows, parents of budding string players attend many annual recitals.  At these annual recitals, the new string students  often play Scotland's Burning.  It is a simple tune.  I have heard screeching performances of Scotland's Burning about ten times, including the year my little angel screeched out her first performance on the cello.

I have never heard Scotland's Burning played by experienced string players. All I know of the song is the screeching, scratchy, squeaky sounds six and seven year olds pull out of their violins and cellos. Screech out. Squeak squeak.

As one's child advances in musical skill, parents still have to hear the screeching performances of Scotland's Burning. The new students always go first, progressing to older, more experienced players grade by grade.  Every string teacher I have known introduced string instruments with Scotland's Burning.

The song goes something like this:  Scotland's burning, Scotland's burning, reach out reach out. I always remember it as 'screech out screech out'.

It is a caterwauling, cacaphonous sound. Yet it is also wonderful. I love listening to little kids struggling, nervous to be performing for the first time. So the screeching squeaks of first-time performances of Scotland's Burning actually sound beautiful to me. It is the sound of learning, stretching. The child reaching within herself to pull out new talent. The struggle to improve. Such struggle develops the child's will capacity. Humans need to develop their wills to find within themselves the ability to achieve their destiny. And string recitals are about love.  Self love for the child. About pride, too. The child's pride, the parent's pride. That's what screeching ensembles of embryonic string players playing Scotland's Burning sounds like to me.

The children dress up for the recital, approaching it as an important, solemn and, sometimes, anxiety-inducing event. The parents also dress up to show their respect for the budding musician.  I love seeing the children dressed up, all aglow with their excitement and nervousness. I love watching all the proud parents. I have heard a lot of parents grumble about such recitals but I always loved them.  Music is vibration. This cosmos is vibration. It is important for children to study an instrument to align themselves with the vibration of the cosmos. So a string recital should be a solemn, special event, full of pride and love all around.

Some parents duck out of such recitals as soon as their children have performed

These recitals can be tedious.  The newbies always play Scotland's Burning, the second year music students always play the same song each year. And so forth.  It is bad form, a social faux pas, to leave before the end. Hey, folks, I listened to your kid's bad string playing. Wait to hear the more advanced students. And your kids need to hear the more skilled players so they know where they are headed.

I love children's musical recitals. I love all the children, developing their will capacity with the discipline of practice and learning. I love all the parents, who are all there for one reason:   love.

I miss hearing Scotland's Burning at least once a year. Reach out!


I just found this test on FB. I am INFJ (which is close to my Myers Briggs of INFP/J, I think).   Here is what says about their INFJ. They have other tests to take that are fun.


Plato, Mahtma Gandhi, Simone de Beauvoir, Cate Blanchett, Al Pacino, Adrien Brody, David Schwimmer, Sufjan Stevens, George Harrison, Michel Pfeiffer, Carey Mulligan


1.5%  NOTE:  I kinda like being only 1.5% of the population and I kinda don't like it. It's lonely being INFJ in a world that doesn't often get us. But with the big breakthroughs I have been undergoing, maybe things are going to continue to improve. I don't think I am going to internalize pain anymore and that is indescribably huge. We impaths take on others feelings, feel others, even loved ones far far away.  Read about INFJ, if interested.

infj - description

INFJs are kind, mindful, complex and highly intuitive people. This is the most rare personality type of all, only 1 percent of the population has it.

They like to organize their outer world in categories and priorities they never stop redefining. However, they have a great intuition and deal with their inner life very spontaneously. They perceive and understand things very intuitively and are very rarely wrong about their intuitions. This dichotomy between their inner and outer life may result in INFJs being less organized than other Judging types.

Because of their great instincts, INFJs understand people and situations very easily. They often feel when something has happened to some of their friends or family members even if they cannot really explain to themselves how they perceived it. Those strong intuitive capabilities may lead them sometimes to stubbornness and ignoring other people's opinions since they trust their instincts above everything else. This attitude should not be perceived as arrogance as INFJs are perfectionists and think they should always improve themselves and the world around.

INFJs set up a strong value system for themselves and always care about living in accordance with their values and ideals. They are warm and easy going as long as they do not have to compromise their values.

Warm and caring, they hate conflicts and will avoid hurting people. They will generally internalize their anger which can be a source of stress and health problems for them.

In the work place, most INFJs show up in creative and independent positions. They are good at art and sciences where they can use their intuition at best. They are generally bad at dealing with details and prefer working on the big picture.

INFJs are natural nurturers, protective and devoted. They make loving parents and build strong bonds with their children.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

nothing is beyond forgiveness

that's it.

you aint gonna find me: Alabama Shakes


Well, I've been going through the motions
Wonder if anyone can see
That I been looking for something
Have you been looking for me
I ain't the same no more
In fact I have changed from before
No, you ain't gonna find me
Oh no, cause I'm not who I used to be
Well, I used to be a little girl
Just a smiling, feeling free
I wasn't worried bout nobody
Nobody worried bout me
But, I ain't the same no more
You'll find I have changed from before
No, you ain't gonna find me
Cause I ain't who I used to be
I said I'd never grow old
I can't remember how that used to be
I find myself without the power
I find myself without the glory
Listen! I ain't the same no more
You'll find I have changed from before
You ain't gonna find me
Oh no, cause I'm not who I used to be
Oh, no, no, I ain't who I used to be
Oh, no, no, I ain't who I used to be
Oh, no...

We compromise too easily when life becomes difficult. Most sacrifice individuality and integrity without a fight, although arrogance prevents seeing this truth. Too many of us believe ourselves strong when a long gaze across our lives would sight a pattern of quitting or withdrawing too soon, often when our loved ones needed us to be strong or right when our dreams were just within reach. For convenience or the wide smile of popularity, we waffle on our word and give up what we truly believe in. But there is a nobility to those who do not let neediness or desperation compromise who they are. We must not follow any impulse to be weak or heartless. Instead we must have a strong refusal to break, choosing that mighty lift of courage, that soaring commitment to love, that grand ascent to the realm of character that is congruent with our highest values. Freedom and victory belong to those who remain true and strong despite temptation. For this, we now declare: WE SHALL NOT BREAK OUR INTEGRITY.

Declaration 6 from

I set myself the wrong task

Sometimes, my being breathes with the earth and the spirit imbued in both my being and the earth. Today is such a day.

Yesterday I had a surprising, and surprisingly painful, brief interaction with a neighbor in my building. We intersected paths at the library. She is elderly, African American and has always been unsmiling and unwelcoming of me. I have said hello to her when I ran into her but, truly, did not dare try to say more because she sent off such a 'don't talk to me' vibe.  Her aversion to me never offended me. I have learned, living in a large apartment building with very few whites, predominantly African Americans, with a wonderful mix of immigrants from Iran, Japan, Yemen, Mexico, India, China, Ethiopia, Eritrea and others I am leaving out.

Some of the African Americans seem to unwittingly display racist anger towards me simply because I am white. It has mostly stopped now but for the first couple years I lived here, young black males often stopped me as I waited for the elevator and angrily told me I was a white racist bitch. Never just a white racist. Always a bitch, too.  At first I was startled but I never took it personally. I concluded these young black men, and it has never been black boys  in my building, who have been immaculately courteous to me and any adult I have seen them interact with, were projecting what amounts to some righteous attitude to the dominator culture that suppresses black males, landing about forty percent of them in prison for at least a few years.  I learned to receive accusations that I am a white racist bitch with love. I remain silent. I do not defend myself. Defend myself from what?  I really have been just waiting for the elevator, or riding up in it with the young angry, hurt (I believe) black men.  I send them love. I have been tempted to tell such young black men that I am sorry society treats them so shabbily but they are angry.  I have my own issues and one of them is fear of angry males. I have been hurt very deeply and personally by some angry white males and any male anger directed at me triggers my own wounds.

Anyway, I think, and this is pure guess, that perhaps the young black males who used to regularly denounce me as a white racist bitch had never lived in a building with a few white adults before. And now they have either forgotten about me or, in some way, concluded I am not personally responsible for the injustices they no doubt suffer in complete injustice. I think in the beginning I represented the white dominator culture. And I know I still represent the white dominator culture on the streets.

A couple weeks ago, walking into Walgreens to add some money on my transit card, a young, soft-spoken black man asked me for some money.  The voice making the request was behind me, I was not sure he had addressed me and I just kept going into the store. He had, however, been talking to me and he seemed to take offense that I had ignored him for he rushed up, tapped me on the shoulder and said "I asked you, will you please give me some money?"  I said "No thanks". The thanks leaves me feeling sheepish but I wish to convey good will. I can't afford to give away money. I really can't. Then this young panhandler, well dressed and not homeless appearing, darted ahead of me to get in the long line to buy things. Why is there always a long line at Walgreens?  This was the first time I had ever gone in this store, for I disagree with Walgreens' corporate values.

This young, high school-age, I think, panhandler seemed to enjoy having rushed to get ahead of me in line. I thought the begging was over.  But it wasn't. He turned to face me and asked again, telling me he wanted money to buy food, that he was hungry. I said "I can't afford to give you food." and when he pressed again I said "I am not going to give you any money."

Then I called over the security guard, also black, and said "Does Walgreens want their customers subjected to panhandling here in the store? Could you ask this guy to leave me be?" The guard said "If you two don't stop fighting, I'll throw you both out." This remark caused a ruffle of indignation to spread in the line. I had not been fighting. Politely declining to give money to a beggar is not fighting, is it?

So then the kid said to me "You say you can't afford to give me money but you are standing in line, so you have money. You buying something."  I said "I am not really buying something. I don't own a car, I need to put money on my clipper card." Then the kid said "I got money. I don't need your money." and he pulled out his wallet to show me some cash, a couple credit cards. He said "I have more than you." And then he left the store.

When he left, several men ahead of me in line spoke out, although, I note, not when the kid was harassing me. One guy with posed bravado said "If that kid is still out front when I am done here, I'm going to kick his ass. A white person is not being a racist just for not giving money to a black panhandler." And a few other men harumphed similar comments.

For some reason, that kid had picked me out to pick on. Does he think older women are a soft mark? Did it anger him that I did not meet his expectations and give him some money?  Who knows?

Now back to the older black woman in my building. I don't think she and I have ever had a conversation beyond saying hello. And I don't think she would say hello to me if I had not carefully greeted her each time I see her. I say no more than "Hello, how are you?" and sometimes just 'Hello' because she gives off such a 'don't you talk to me' vibe. I have believed for five and a half years that this black, older, female neighbor saw me as all white people and she sees all white people as bad racists.  I have believed, and now believe this more than ever, that she sees whites and feels anger, even hate.  I know it is not personal anger or hate, not about me, but she doesn't seem aware that her anger is not really about me.

I have empathy, I do, for this woman.  I know her life in black skin has been different than mine and hard in ways I cannot know.  My life has been hard in ways I won't list here but I have never been shown injustice because of the color of my skin. Well, I have felt a tiny bit of injustice for the color of my skin:  throughout my life, only very occasionally, I have had a black person spew racist hate at me, typically on the street, just for being white. I think I get such venom and I know it's about the system of racism, not about me.  I have felt a light sadness to feel this woman's anger when we only very rarely see one another in the hallway.

Is she angry I haven't talked to her? Has she forgotten that I set out trying to talk to her when we both moved in five and a half years ago, and she always angrly rebuffed me so I fell into the habit of saying hello politely. Even around Berkeley, if I see her, I have said hello.

Yesterday she became angry at me at the library for talking in the library. Everyone talks in the library but I said "I am sorry my talking disturbed you but". Then she cut me off and said "Stop right there, you white person. You white and think you always have something to say. I said my piece now you shut up." I said "You said your piece, let me say mine." She said "You think you something cause you white."  Before I could answer, a security guard stepped in and said if we didn't stop fighting, he'd kick us both out. She, still speaking angrily and flashing fury at me with her eyes, said "I said my piece." I said "Yeah, she said her piece but won't allow me to speak and now you won't let me respond to her, you say you'll kick me out if I speak." The security guard invited me to go outside with the angry neighbor of mine and say my piece. Before I could respond she hissed "She won't go outside. She afraid of me and she should be."  (I laugh now, she is feeble but she was not so subtly threatening to hurt me if I followed her out to say my piece and she clearly savored the fact that she got her 'piece' in and had shut me down.) I said "No I won't follow you but not because I am afraid. I don't want to lose my computer reservation." And then the guard escorted her out while I got on my reserved computer.

The exchange bruised me. The bruise kept pinching all day and into today.

I was so hurt and confused by this woman's anger towards me, even what felt like hate, that I stopped to ask my property manager if she had any awareness of me misbehaving in the building, if she had heard any tales of me mistreating others.  What goes on at the library is beyond the scope of our property manager but I thought she might offer me some insight into how this angry woman perceives me. To my surprise, the angry lady at the library had talked to my property manager about her frustration at the library the day before, not about me but her frustration with the computer. My prop manager suggested maybe I had said things this other woman didn't like at community meetings but I have never seen this woman at a community meeting and I rarely go to them myself. The 'community meetings' only seem focussed on doing things for kids and I have no kids. Get this. Now the community group, all women, is doing a brunch for the building's men. I cannot buy into a culture that adopts such servile, kiss up to men, attitudes. I get providing good programming for kids but a brunch for men, none of whom have ever darkened the door of a community meeting?  Kissing men's ass is what I see, although I have not voiced this thought until I wrote it just now so that can't be why this old lady doesn't like me.

She doesn't like me because I am white.  I told her, at the library, that her comments about me were racist and she took no offense, as if she agreed, although she clearly believed her racist assessment of me was merited and so not really racist, just real.

And what was I talking about to another library patron while we waited to use computers? The black man I have worked tirelessly since July to get elected to the state assembly. Not exactly your stereotypical behavior for a white racist bitch.


The interaction at the library weighed on me so I stopped in to talk to my property manager, who is also black and with whom I have a comfortable relationship. She said she knew the woman I was talking about had been upset about her inabililty to figure out the computer, that the woman had a bad day but the woman had not mentioned me. She said she's never heard anyone complain about me in the building. And then she said "But you do have a spice about you. You are bright, well spoken and you have spice. that might put off people who aren't used to speaking up. You always seem at ease with yourself and unafraid to speak."  I love my property manager.

I have another difficult relationship with another older black female neighbor and she has actually said to me that I always have something to say. So does she but she made it clear that what I say bothers her whereas she assumes what she has to say is worth saying. She and I have agreed not to speak. The last time we spoke, perhaps two years ago, we were riding up the elevator and she started talking. I have never had an easy time with this woman so I was silent until she brought up her mail from the housing authority. Seeing her talk as an invitation to converse, I began to tell her about my equivalent letter I had recently gotten from the housing authority. She exploded. She said "you always do this, you always think people want to hear what you think and you tell them."  Again I was hurt and said nothing, although I was casting about in my head for something to say. What does one say after someone tells them I am wrong to think anyone wants to hear what I want to say?  I did think of saying, but dared not say it, "Do you think your comment about your letter from the housing people is interesting, more interseting than whatever I had to say about my identical letter?" but I stayed miserably silent as we rode up, with the other woman scolding me, insulting me all the way up. This woman lives next door to me so we get off on the sixth floor together.

As we exited the elevator I said "I get it. You don't like me. I won't talk to you anymore. Not a problem. I get it." She kept on berating me, insulting me. Generalized insults, not referring to any specific thing I had said. She was all worked up and I was calm, just trying to keep quiet until I got to my door. The two of us walking side by side, coming to my door first.

After a few more moments of her insults I repeated "I get it, Marcela, you don't like to hear me talk so I won't talk to you anymore. I get it. I'll leave you alone."  I repeated myself because she was almost shouting and continuing to heap insults on me.

Finally, with two polite attempts to stop her attack I said "Shut the fuck up, Marcela. I said I won't talk to you again so just stop talking to me." And she still kept talking.

So I said one more time, loudly, "Shut the fuck up. I said I won't talk to you so stop talking to me." And then I was at my door, able to escape her.

I can't quantify this but I think the stress with both of these women is race related. I think they see their people's oppression in many, if not most, white people. And I am spicy. Or assertive. I do assume I have a right to talk. And if some blacks in this culture don't feel they have a right to assume they can talk, I have little understanding of such an experience.

Here was the lovely gift for me in the library quarrel. It really did weigh on me. I actually felt like I had a huge, dark purple bruise on my side, almost as a rib or two were broken. I carried that woman's anger yestereday afternoon, evening and then again today.

When I went out for my daily five mile walk, at some point, I realized something about myself. I realized the pain I was feeling was that woman's pain. This is a huge insight about myself. When I still saw myself as a borderline, which, praise goddess, I no longer do (thanks to you, Marc, thanks to the unkind things you said about me being such a borderline -- your unkind words liberated me from a huge burden and I will love you forever -- I know you aren't reading this but I have no other way to thank you so I thank you here).

Pretty much all my life, I have felt and then taken on others' pain. I wasn't feeling borderline pain. I am a high empath and I feel others' pain. That angry woman at the library, my neighbor, was hurting about something and offloaded her pain onto me and there I was, hauling it around as my burden like Sisyphus and his stone.

Crossing Shattuck on my way home this afternoon, I realized that most of the emotional pain I feel is others and I take it on as mine. Angry and abusive people are attracted to me because they intuit that I am a paincatcher.

I don't want to be a paincatcher for any pain but my own, which I happily endure.  I'm done holding others pain. And I am steadily becoming ever more mindful of what is mine and what is something I picked up from another's energy. I realized today, in one of those epiphany moments, that most of the pain I feel is others' pain. My friend Maggie tried to tell me this years ago but these are the kinds of lessons we each have to work through on our own, I think.  Now when I become aware of feeling pain, my thoughts will go to the other person and I will empathically wonder what is going on with them and do my best to be kind and loving.

A psychic in Santa Rosa told me, in the mid-nineties, that whenever I am in a group of people, I am attracted to get near to the person in the most pain and then I hold their pain. A paincatcher. A high empath.

As I crossed Shattuck, and maybe this particular patch of Shattuck is a special vortex because I had another important shift and insight crossing the exact patch of street a couple years ago, an insight about loving around impediments, I realized I will never again take on others pain. I can live more lightly, more happily.  I felt lighter instantly. And this is not a temporary shift.

That mean old lady in the library was in pain and unhappy and she passed off her pain onto me. She was so upset about being unable to figure out the computer that she was blind.

I never got to tell her my 'but'. I said "I am sorry but. . . ."  I was going to say 'but if you are having a problem figuring something out on the computer, I might be able to help you." My offer to help would have gone beyond her library reservation. This building has a whole computer room open a few hours, several days a week. My but was going to be an offer to help her.

I didn't do anything wrong. Well, I did something wrong. I allowed her pain to infect me.

From now on, when I begin to feel pain as I interact with someone, I am going to ask myself "is this mine or theirs?"  I think most times the pain I am holding is someone else's pain and I hurt myself by doing this. I'm done.

I'm sorry for the two black women who see something wrong with me. I'm sorry they don't like me. I'm sorry they can't see their own racism.

But I am happy that I am done taking on their shit.