Thursday, December 31, 2015

I Matter

I Matter

it was when she first dared
to see her truth
that the winds howled.
after a time,
it strengthened her
and she spoke her truth
and the earth shook.
and when finally,
she believed her truth -
the stars rejoiced,
the universe opened,
and even her bones
sang her song:
I Matter!
© Terri St. Cloud

I like the poem but I don't matter.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Anselm Kiefer: one year old video, brand new show in France

Anselm Kiefer: Remembering the Future from Jack Cocker on Vimeo.

I was just thinking and writing about Kiefer yesterday and today I learn the Pompidou Center is doing a major new retrospective. He's done a lot of very different, and awesome, work since his big show in SF in 2006, the year I moved here. I went to that show at least once a week the whole time it was up, soaking up as much as I could.

I would give a great deal to go to the show in France. Oh well.

Just look at the photo where this video begins. He had not shown anything close to this kind of work when his big show was at SFMOMA. This piece, without having watched the movie or read anyting about it, suggest galaxies, worlds, constellations, intersection, interbeing, overlap. And beautiful. And love.

to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of being

As far as we can discern, the sole
purpose of human existence is to
kindle a light of meaning in the
darkness of mere being
~ C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections

God appears, and God is light,
To shoe poor souls who dwell in night;
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.
~ William Blake (poet I don't read enough!)

Behold the Sun at the midnight hour;
Build with stones in the lifeless ground.
Thus in decay and in the night of Death
Find Creation's new beginning, young morning's strength.
Glory in the heights the eternal Word of Gods;
Shelter in the depths the Powers of Peace.
In darkness dwelling, create a Sun;
In matter weaving, know spiritual joy!
~ Rudolf Steiner

During these Holy Nights, it is good work to seek inner light in the darkness of our beings, in this darkest time of the year.

if any magic wishes are offered to me. .

I think I would seriously consider wishing for the opportunity to become friends, real, close friends, with Anselm Kiefer. I could be his administrative assistant, cook and bottle washer, tidy up daily. Anything to be able to absorb some of his genius.

I would also happily be servile to Gerhard Richter, eh? Any great genius.

I'm not talking about lust for the men. I lust for their artistic energy.

Kiefer is, and has been for almost ten years, my all time favorite contemporary artist, even above chicks. It is uncharacteristic of me to favor a male but Kiefer is special.

when you don't fight it

Despair is what happens when you fight sadness. Compassion is what happens when you don’t.

I have been surrendering to the deepest despair I have ever known. Day after day, I do nothing but use the toilet, rummage a bit in my kitchen for easy-to-eat food and sleep. 

I have completely let go of any shoulds.

I have a week-long house guest coming on Friday. Way way way in the back of my thinking I have planned to do a deep clean and, while I was at it, get rid of a lot of the piled up 'stuff' I don't use. I have about forty CD's that are all loaded on iPods so why not get rid of them?  I don't own many books but I own too many. I only have about two dozen books I care about. It's funny how books find their way into my home. Where do the ones I don't care about come from?

And the clutter in drawers, baskets, closets. How did all that stuff get here?

I was so sure that having this week-long house guest would motivate me to transform my place into an immaculate home and help me purge any bit of stuff I don't use.

Scarves I bought from neighbors at a building 'garage sale'. I bought them mostly to please the neighbors. I will never use them. Sometimes I think these scarves would make good fabric for doll clothes but I don't do anything about it. I think "I might give them to a preschool or afterschool program that does real crafts, like sewing. Like Waldorf World. But I do nothing.

Or all the kitchen 'stuff' cramming my limited cupboard space. I use very few kitchen things so why do I have mounds of unused stuff?  I had the fantasy I would clear out every cupboard before my guest arrived. So far, I have not cleaned out any.

I did achieve one big task, although the amount of work involved was pitifully small. I cleaned out my one storage closet. Turned out that closet was only crammed full of empty amazon boxes. It took about ten minutes to break them down and walk them down the hall to the recycle room. Then I refilled the closet with detritus from other parts of my home. Still unused stuff but now, at least, out of sight.

I had vague plans to clear out this close so my house guest can hang anything he might wish to hang, like a dress shirt and put his suitcase in there on a stand I have that fits in there. Not gonna happen. I'd have to organize lots of stuff packed into the stand. My guest will just have to deal with my mess. He can hang the few things -- he always travels very light anyway -- on the hooks on the closet door and he can keep his suitcase under my built-in kitchen table that I use for counter space and never for a table. If we eat a meal here in my apartment, we'll eat it at my desk, which is also full of clutter but I will do a slapdash clear away.

When I realized, only the day after Xmas, that I only had five more days to clean, I realized that my cleaning plans would have required at least a couple hours every day this month. I realized it is too late to do the master clean I had hoped to do. And, yes, my motives were selfish. I wanted to have a spic and span home.

Instead I have stuff in every nook and corner that I never use, never even think about. My closet is crammed with clothing I don't remember owning and I sure don't ever wear it. I have urges to just dump it all in my grocery cart and hall it to a tharift store. I wouldn't miss whatever is crammed in the back half of my clothes closet. I live from the front half of the closet. What is all that stuff and why do I have it?

The salient, important point:  I have given up pressuring myself. I will clean out the fridge, which seems minimally decent for a house guest who will store his half and half in my fridge. I will clean the bathtub, for he will use it. And clean appliances.

But all the stuff, the clutter, the mostly useless detritus is probably going to be here when he arrives on Friday. I am open to a surge of energy.

However. All I have done for several weeks is sleep all day and most of the night. I don't see that changing before Friday.

Oh well. This person loves me a whole, whole lot, as I do him. It will be fine.

And I am finding I can love my surrender to my depression. I used to beat myself up about how depressed I am but I have let that go. It is what it is. I am what I am.

I am unhappy and I like, for the time being, sleeping as much as I possibly can.


chocolate bliss w/apple slices

I haven't made chocolate bliss in years. Last time I made it, I was showing an acquaintance how I make it in a good blender. He severed ties with me after that visit. I didn't stop making the chocolate bliss because he began to shun me. It was more like this:  I had found my way to making sugar-free healthy candy with only raw ingredients that is delicious and also healthy. The fat in the coconut is food fat. The raw chocolate loaded with super food nutrients. The raw almonds add protein, fiber and good fat.

Right after it ia made, it is warm and dippable.

I made this jar for my pending out-of-town houseguest. I will have to make more if my guest is going to get any because it is too delicious for me to resist.

I had the great memory of slicing an apple and dipping the slices into the warm chocolate almond sugar-free candy.

For folks accustomed to sugar being the only way to get to candy, I recommend chocolate bliss. It has coconut flakes pulverized into coconut butter:  the high speed friction of the blender melds it into butter and it still counts as raw. Then I add finely shopped raw cacao butter, which is what they make white chocolate from. Chopping it finely helps it melt faster. Then lots of chocolate powder. I love chocolate. This latest batch is very densely chocolate-y.

I added what I thought was a lot of cinnamon, like a tablespoon, but I can't taste any cinnamon in this batch. I also added a dash of vanillas but not enough to taste it, I guess.

I had intended to make myself some chocolate bliss for my holiday treat but I have been too depressed to do anything. I am sleeping 20+ hours daily. I keep thinking it is not possible to sleep as much as I want to sleep but then I roll over and give it the old college try and, presto, I sleep through most of the night, all of the day light and wake up the next evening when the sun has gone down.

I have not tidied up nearly enough for a week-long houseguest, a fussy neatnik houseguest.  I am so depressed that I kept thinking I still have weeks to tidy up. Duh. He'll be here in four ays and I have two weeks of housework. He loves me so he'll just have to deal with my clutter.  My place is clean. I had hoped to use this visit to motivate me to purge.  The best I am getting out of my twenty minutes, at most, daily housecleaning attempts is to reshuffle stuff.

The warm chocolate bliss with apple slices is so delicious. And  I am countng it as a balanced meal:  fruit, fiber, protein, healthy fat and deliciousness.  No greens but I ate a huge bowl of spicy green beans earlier.

Spicy green meals are so easy to make.

the mental institution of the universe

We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Saturday, December 26, 2015

the world darkens

It is hard to have hope. It is harder as you grow old,
for hope must not depend on feeling good
and there is the dream of loneliness at absolute midnight.
You also have withdrawn belief in the present reality
of the future, which surely will surprise us,
and hope is harder when it cannot come by prediction
any more than by wishing. But stop dithering.
The young ask the old to hope. What will you tell them?
Tell them at least what you say to yourself.

Because we have not made our lives to fit
our places, the forests are ruined, the fields eroded,
the streams polluted, the mountains overturned. Hope
then to belong to your place by your own knowledge
of what it is that no other place is, and by
your caring for it as you care for no other place, this
place that you belong to though it is not yours,
for it was from the beginning and will be to the end.

Belong to your place by knowledge of the others who are
your neighbors in it: the old man, sick and poor,
who comes like a heron to fish in the creek,
and the fish in the creek, and the heron who manlike
fishes for the fish in the creek, and the birds who sing
in the trees in the silence of the fisherman
and the heron, and the trees that keep the land
they stand upon as we too must keep it, or die.

This knowledge cannot be taken from you by power
or by wealth. It will stop your ears to the powerful
when they ask for your faith, and to the wealthy
when they ask for your land and your work.
Answer with knowledge of the others who are here
and how to be here with them. By this knowledge
make the sense you need to make. By it stand
in the dignity of good sense, whatever may follow.

Speak to your fellow humans as your place
has taught you to speak, as it has spoken to you.
Speak its dialect as your old compatriots spoke it
before they had heard a radio. Speak
publicly what cannot be taught or learned in public.

Listen privately, silently to the voices that rise up
from the pages of books and from your own heart.
Be still and listen to the voices that belong
to the streambanks and the trees and the open fields.
There are songs and sayings that belong to this place,
by which it speaks for itself and no other.

Found your hope, then, on the ground under your feet.
Your hope of Heaven, let it rest on the ground
underfoot. Be it lighted by the light that falls
freely upon it after the darkness of the nights
and the darkness of our ignorance and madness.
Let it be lighted also by the light that is within you,
which is the light of imagination. By it you see
the likeness of people in other places to yourself
in your place. It lights invariably the need for care
toward other people, other creatures, in other places
as you would ask them for care toward your place and you.

No place at last is better than the world. The world
is no better than its places. Its places at last
are no better than their people while their people
continue in them. When the people make
dark the light within them, the world darkens.

"2007, VI" ["It is hard to have hope"] by Wendell Berry. Text as published in This Day: New & Collected Sabbath Poems (Counterpoint, 2013).

Friday, December 25, 2015

Give yourself to love

Give yourself to love.

some of them kings

this is my official favorite Xmas poem.  Ms. Oswald is a British poet who does a lot of gardening,sees nature more clearly than most.

Various Portents

By Alice Oswald
Various stars. Various kings.
Various sunsets, signs, cursory insights.
Many minute attentions, many knowledgeable watchers,
Much cold, much overbearing darkness.

Various long midwinter Glooms.
Various Solitary and Terrible Stars.
Many Frosty Nights, many previously Unseen Sky-flowers.
Many people setting out (some of them kings) all clutching at stars.

More than one North Star, more than one South Star.
Several billion elliptical galaxies, bubble nebulae, binary systems,
Various dust lanes, various routes through varying thicknesses of Dark,
Many tunnels into deep space, minds going back and forth.

Many visions, many digitally enhanced heavens,
All kinds of glistenings being gathered into telescopes:
Fireworks, gasworks, white-streaked works of Dusk,
Works of wonder and/or water, snowflakes, stars of frost . . .

Various dazed astronomers dilating their eyes,
Various astronauts setting out into laughterless earthlessness,
Various 5,000-year-old moon maps,
Various blindmen feeling across the heavens in braille.

Various gods making beautiful works in bronze,
Brooches, crowns, triangles, cups and chains,
And all sorts of drystone stars put together without mortar.
Many Wisemen remarking the irregular weather.

Many exile energies, many low-voiced followers,
Watches of wisp of various glowing spindles,
Soothsayers, hunters in the High Country of the Zodiac,
Seafarers tossing, tied to a star . . .

Various people coming home (some of them kings). Various headlights.
Two or three children standing or sitting on the low wall.
Various winds, the Sea Wind, the sound-laden Winds of Evening
Blowing the stars towards them, bringing snow.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

the ones meant to be come back

I hope.

visions and divine visitations

In times past people took to their beds at nightfall, but not merely to sleep. They touched one another, told stories and, with so much night to work with, woke in the middle of it to a darkness so luxurious it teased visions from the mind and divine visitations that helped to guide their course through life.

I've been sleeping odd hours the past couple weeks or more. Today I was awake during daylight the longest I have been in about two weeks.  I wish I had someone with me, to comfort one another, tell stories, make love with the right someone. . . and, maybe in the middle of the night, make some coconut milk cocoa and have some wild rice soup.  I can't do everything alone.

I've had a couple vivid visions.  I have had vivid dreams, become lucid, then awakened so I could write them down.  I thought it was depression but as I rise out of what I have been doing, I see it has been divine, sacred personal work.

holy holy nights to all

Painting by Alara Mares, on FB page Anthroposophy Alive

Do it. Then do it again. And again.

you know who you are and what I want

I want a kiss from You*, said my heart.
"Yes, but the price is your life."
My heart leapt with joy and said,
who cares about the price!

*You know who you are.Take the risk.  Love me back.
Why can't I get just one kiss? Why can't I get just one kiss?!

did the baby say stuffing? a Xmas miracle

My niece Ruby was nine months old for her first Christmas. My sister, Flannery, and Ruby came over to my house for a Christmas Eve supper with me and my daughter, Rosie. My sister had just moved to our city, plus this was her first Christmas as a mother. As I read this today, Ruby is a sophomore at Smith College. Rosie is a Vice President of Operations for a real estate development company and hasn't spoken to me in over fourteen years.

Rosie and I had few Christmas traditions. We had tried to visit relatives over Thanksgiving because we preferred to spend Christmas in our own home. This gave us the gift of avoiding the Christmas fights. Eventually, we gave up on traveling for winter holidays because we always ran into snow. Snow can ruin a drive across the Great Plains and snow can ruin air travel.

Staying home for Christmas, we had Cornish game hens for dinner on Christmas Eve. Without my sister and niece, we had usually to the Basilica, the Catholic Cathedral in Minneapolis to listen to the choir sing Christmas hymns but we bugged out before midnight mass.  We went out for Chinese food on Christmas Day. We were regulars at the same Chinese restaurant throughout the year. Going there on Christmas always felt special. A popular restaurant all year,  the place was almost empty on Christmas.  Minnesotans, not even its Jews, had not fully embraced a tradition of going out for Chinese on Christmas.
Some years we spent time on Christmas with friends but we always spent a lot of quiet time together, just the two of us. And we always went to The Great Wall for Christmas Day dinner, usually after going to a movie. Rosie always got the mandarin chicken. I always got the kung pao shrimp. And we always promised one another, on the way over, that we'd order something different that time but we never did.

My sister had decided that she and Ruby would spend their first Christmas Day alone together so they had come over for Christmas Eve supper. I served stuffed game hens, as I did every Christmas Eve. We probably exchanged gifts that evening but I don't remember presents.  I had not cooked a cornish game hen for Ruby, my niece, because she did not eat much solid food and she had only hints of her first teeth breaking through her gums.

As we sat down to dinner, seeing my daughter, my sister and my niece as shimmering orbs around my table, I was happy. Perfectly happy.  I remember noting that my daughter was more vibrant than usual. I realized our somewhat lonely holidays had not met her extroverted nature. Rosie was lit up by our dinner guests.   I loved my sister Flannery and my little niece Ruby deeply but I found myself loving them just a little bit more that evening as I noted Rosie's joy to be with them.  This was her first 'big' family Christmas with me. Well, we had had a couple big ones when she was a baby but she might not have remembered those. This felt like our first big holiday together, she and I, plus my sister and the plumpling angel. Sometimes we went to friends' homes on Christmas day but I think this was the first time Rosie and I had Christmas company. What special guests! In my mind's eye, we had candlelight but I don't think we actually did.

Having a baby around is always bliss. A baby at Christmas more so. Ruby was at a peak of perfect plumpness. I think of how many nativity paintings have a radiant light focused on the Christ child. All babies glow like this for me and Ruby was alive with radiant light that evening. My daughter,  thirty two, still dazzles me, in memory, with her radiance when I think of her, the loving madonna cradling her red-cheeked bundle of joy.  Rosie was the most dazzling that evening, for me at least. I was blissed out, surrounded by three angelic beings I loved unconditionally and bedazzledly. If that is a word and if it isn't who cares!

My sister, born was I was fourteen, was as much a daughter to me as a sister. Our mother had never really cared to tend to her babies and had turned over as much care of her babies to me as she could. I had spent more time with Flannery when she was an infant, then toddler, than our mother ever had. Mom spent as much time as possible out of the house. As the eldest daughter, I tended all mom's babies. And mom gave me quite a brood. When Flannery was born, I was also caring for two year old Dave and four year old Tom, rocketing home from school to get the latest babies from their babysitters, pressured to get them as soon as possible to save on the hourly babysitting fees mom paid while she tried to finish the college degree she had abandoned when she had married our father at age 19.

In my mind's eye, I keep looking around that table,  from Rosie to Flannery to Ruby, then back to Rosie, around and around, noting the radiance in each of these women as they sat around my table, loving them with all my heart. I had this experience at the time as well, looking loving at each of my beloveds around that table. Rosie, a high school freshman, was doing a spiky thing with mousse in her hair. She was wearing a brown velvet dress. A fancy dress. Flannery was a picture perfect madonna, with her thick, blonde hair and red-lipsticked lips. And Ruby. Ruby wore red, a precious jewel in any color but she popped in red.

They were all beautiful. I loved and love all of them so much. Just sitting at that table with the three of them was all the Christmas gift I needed.

We began eating, all of us chattering happily. The meal was not very fancy. My big flourish had been to place a few tablespoons of stuffing in each of the three tiny birds. We joked about that stuffing. It was delicious but it seemed like such a lot of trouble for such a small return. Digging it out of the tiny birds for such a tiny reward. Two tablespoons, maybe three.  We talked about stuffing recipes. Flannery was partial to stuffing with chestnuts. I noted aloud that I liked chestnuts in stuffing but I was partial to stuffing with walnuts. Rosie was fussy, sliding into the eating disorder that I had not yet allowed to enter my conscious awareness.  Rosie, my baby even at fourteen, liked her stuffing plain: no walnuts, no celery, no onions, just those seasoned cubes of bread one buys in bags stuffed into our cornish game hens. The stuffing this night was plain, one of my gifts to Rosie. We were all happy to have it the way Rosie liked it. Who cared?! Stuffing, stuffing, stuffing. We had a lot to say about stuffing that evening. We had all shared, in aimless detail, how we each liked our stuffing. And shared tales of stuffings past.  Just silly, aimless chatter, the company being what mattered.

Which might explain what happened next. It was a Christmas miracle.

Flannery was feeding Ruby tiny bites of stuffing. With no walnuts, celery or onions, the soft bread of that stuffing was safe to feed our baby. Ruby had just begun to eat solid foods. She couldn't eat the poultry. She didn't like the cranberries. Ruby liked that stuffing.

As we laughed and chatted about all things stuffing, Flannery began to exclaim, "Look at Ruby! Look how she likes the stuffing!" We all gazed adoringly at our baby as she opened and shut her mouth, fishlike, to indicate she wanted more.

"Here," I said, "She can have my stuffing." And I scooped out my tiny portion of stuffing and put it on my sister's plate.

My sister kept feeding the baby stuffing. We were all rapt, joyfully watching Ruby gobble stuffing as fast as my sister could spoon it into her mouth.

"She can have my stuffing, too!" Rosie exclaimed. This was a miracle in itself. Rosie was fussy about sharing her food. She had never been willing to share food, not even when she was a baby herself. She was a little OCD. When Rosie offered her stuffing to Ruby,  we all exalted. I think my sister and I may have squealed our surprise. It was so perfect that such a little thing could make us all so happy.  Our backnoise was filled with more aimless talk about stuffing.

"Stuffing!" Ruby said.

Ruby was not yet talking. She and her mother communicated, of course, but we were not yet thinking of Ruby as someone who could talk.

"Did she just say stuffing?!" my sister cried out.

"Did she just say stuffing?!" my daughter cheered.

"She did, she did. She said stuffing. Ruby say it again. Stuffing. Say 'stuffing! She said stuffing. I know I heard it right." We all chattered, repeating the word stuffing over and over, hoping to coax the baby into saying it again. "Say stuffing, Ruby, say stuffing!"  "Say it again, stuffing!"

"Give her some more stuffing, maybe she'll say it then."

"She's already eaten all of it."

We dug around our poultry carcasses looking for more stuffing. It  was all gone.

"It was not our imagination. That baby said stuffing." Stuffing stuffing stuffing. All three of us kept exclaiming the same things. We were so thrilled that our baby had finally said a comprehensible word and such a complex one. Stuffing is not a daily vocabulary word. We all nodded meaningfully back and forth, signaling to one another that our baby was a genius if her first word was stuffing. We remarked repeatedly on how stuffing was a complex word to be her first comprehensible one. A genius! We had a baby genius!

Her first sentence, which came a short time later was 'ree-da-buk'. Read the book. She was read to a lot and she liked it. She sometimes said 'ree-da-buk' dozens of times in a day, pleading the adults around her to read her another book.  At first, we resisted believing she was saying a whole sentence. We told ourselves it had been our imagination. Nope. She definitely was saying "read the book", baby short hand for 'read me a book'.

A genius. She's a sophomore at Smith this year, majoring in math and statistics. On a full academic ride. Once a genius always a genius.

all I want for Christmas

all I want for Christmas is YOU and you know who you are cause I have told you I want you.

winter solstice

for a moment
the keyboards will stop clicking,
the wheels stop rolling
the computers desist from computing,
and a hush will fall over the city.
For an instant, in the stillness,
the chiming of the celestial spheres will be heard
as earth hangs poised
in the crystalline darkness, and then
Let there be a season
when holiness is heard, and
the splendor of living is revealed.
Stunned to stillness by beauty
we remember who we are and why we are here.
There are inexplicable mysteries.
We are not alone.
In the universe there moves a Wild One
whose gestures alter earth’s axis
toward love.
In the immense darkness
everything spins with joy.
The cosmos enfolds us.
We are caught in a web of stars,
cradled in a swaying embrace,
rocked by the holy night,
babes of the universe.
Let this be the time
we wake to life,
like spring wakes, in the moment
of winter solstice.

~Rebecca Parker

sushi burritos everywhere but none to eat

According to yelp, there are two sushi burrito joints within two blocks of my building.

I set out yesterday afternoon to buy one for breakfast. I walked all the way around the two square blocks south of my building, where these alleged sushi burrito joints might be. I couldn't find one, not anywhere there.

I had read, apparently a typo, that there was one such shop near Oxford on Center. I know that street very well, for I walk up and down it all the time, usually more than once daily. I had never noticed a sushi burrito shop but, I vaguely recalled, there was that new vaguely Asian spot called the Purple Cow.

I thought maybe I had mistakenly assumed it was a bubble tea and/or froyo shop but it was really a sushi burrito joint. I went in, found no froyo. And, truth told, I am still not sure what that place considers its main business. In addition to whatever they use organic milk for, because they have big signs proclaiming their recent shift to only organic milk so I assume some kind of dairy product if the main focus, I saw a sign for a few crappy fast food snacks. Like Japanese tempura fried crap:  chicken, something else and sweet potato french fries.

Oh, get this. I asked the Asian girl selling the sweet potato frieds if she knew anywhere with sushi burritos, explaining I thought there was such a place on the same block. She said she had never heard of sushi burritos. Ah ha!  I am not the only person who hasn't heard of sushi burritos. There is a chain called sushirrito, I told her, and there are 3 or 4 of them in SF, one in Palo Alto and even some in my hometown Chicago. Sushi burritos are real. I think.  She seemed skeptical.

For some insane reason, I decided to get the sweet potato fries. I am always reading that sweet potatoes are good for diabetics, although I am not sure why. Carbs are carbs, eh? I was hungry, feeling discouraged in my sushi burrito quest. I had set out with hope and, while not high expectations, I had set out with a mild expectation of a moderately okay and almost healthy dinner, a sushi burrito.

I walked all around Oxford to Center south on Shattuck, eat on Allston, back around again, then I headed further south, to Center and walked all around.

But there were no sushi burrito spots, not anywhere there.

I was glad I had those greasy, but tasty sweet potato fries. They were just all fried batter. They were nice sized and I really tasted sweet potato.  I have no illusion that it was a healthy meal and I shot some insulin as soon as I got home, guestimating on the carbs, figuring I'd just test a couple times and adjust accordingly.

Then I got online. The sushi burrito spot is around the block on Allston, next to Saturn Cafe. And it closes at 6.  I kept walking past it because it was darkened. Closed.

Tomorrow, I will try again. Or another day. 

I am in the middle of making awesome wild rice soup. That will be very filling. Between the soup and braised spinach, I won't need a sushi burrito.

And then there is my annual Christmas dinner, which I won't write about here. I alwys eat the same lonely meal on Christmas. Except a couple Christmases when I went out for Thai with ACIM friends and last year when a friend treated me to chopped liver at the Jewish Museum.

This year, I'm falling back on my alone-for-Christmas standard. Hush.

But maybe a sushi burrito, if the joint is open on Christmas Eve. At leas tnow I know it closes at 6.

I am reminded of a Christmas my long ago husband and I spent in Christmas at my dad's. WE thought we'd go out to dinner on Christmas Eve to have some couple time before the big noisy family rush of Christmas Day. We couldn't find anywhere open but pizza.  He wouldn't accept pizza for Christmas Eve so we spent hours miserably trying to find a place open. This was pre-smart phone when we couldn't just get online from anywhere and find a place.

We ended up eating pizza, with my ex moaning and groaning the whole time, like it was my fault.

Everything was always my fault. That seems to be par for me and men. Any tension is always my fault.

Sigh.  I hate this holiday week. But I am hopeful about sushi burritos.

tell me about his dreams

You think you've seen him naked
because he took his clothes off?
Tell me about his dreams. Tell me
what breaks his heart. What is he
passionate about, and what makes
him cry? Tell me about his childhood.
Better yet, tell me one story about
him that you are not in.

You've seen his skin, touched his body.
But you only know as much about him
as a book you once found but
never got around to opening.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

live the questions

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

I bet this is from his Letters to a Young Man (or is it Young Poet?). I'm too lazy to check.

men need feminism too

the holiday hellhole is back

I had a couple years respite from the holiday hellhole but it is back this year with a vengeance.  Nobody loves me enough to acknowledge me or my love at this time of year.

I know many people are isolated and lonely. And I suppose many of such people don't think it is fair that they are alone and unloved. I don't think it's fair.

I hate my life.

jury duty

I got a notice to report for jury duty tomorrow. Here in Alemeda County, CA, people summoned for jury duty have been asked to call the day before to find out if they need to show up.

Today, I phoned in, as instructed, to find out if I am needed later today. I am not needed in the morning but I have to call again  to find out if I will be needed this afternoon. This seems unfair. The recorded message told me to go about my normal day and just check in between 11 a.m. and noon.

What if my normal day takes me to SF and then I find out at noon that I need to report at 1? I don't have a car and even with a car, it can be challenging to get from SF to Berkeley in an hour.

With this new layer of bureaucracy, demanding I check in twice, Alameda County asks too much.

I basically can't do anything until I call to find out if I have to be at some courthouse at 1. And what if I learn that I am supposed to show up but I can't get there on time?

This new double reporting sucks.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

concentration of wealth

In the mid-eighties, for just one year, I had an assistant named Karen. When she got engaged, she and her fiance had me over for dinner. As we sat outside enjoying a mid-summer's eve, with her very money focussed fiance, a young turk determined to get rich, we talked in desultory fashion. I wasn't in a hammock but I felt as if I were drifting in a swinging hammock. A pleasant evening.

My daughter wasn't there so she must have been at her father's for the summer long visit. It would likely have been her last summer visit to her dad's. After the incident, I never sent her to his city again and he had to have court-supervised visits until he had court-supervised therapy, which he would not do. I did not impose that requirement, a judge did. She had her own attorney, a guardian ad litem.

The incident doesn't matter to my short commentary. I am just casting about my memory of the evening I am thinking about, wondering where Rosie is. She was not with me so she must have been with her dad. When I had the job with an assistant named Karen, Rosie was still very young, had not started kindergarden. I must be trying to recall a conversation I had in 1987 with Karen and her then-fiance, whose name I do not remember.

I remember he was Jewish and Karen, raised Catholic like I had been, had gotten some resistance from her relatives. I had encouraged her to ignore the fact that he was Jewish. Dave. She also voiced some reluctance about his looks, because she was really 'hot' and he was not. He was perfectly attractive, just not hot.

Dave had taken Karen on several weekend getaways, expensive treats for a young twenty-something who had just started his own tech consulting business, which was very new territory in the land of the Upper Midwest.  When Karen voiced a tiny bit of hesitation about Dave, I sensed she was looking for support. I said "If this guy took you to the Such-and-Such Lodge and paid for separate rooms because you weren't ready for sex, and then took you on a couple more trips when you weren't ready and if this guy has steadfastly been declaring his love for you while you have hesitated, I say go for it, give the guy a tumble. Then give him a chance."

I didn't seal the deal or anything. I gave her what all humans need. Support. She was getting pushback from her Catholic kin and she, good heavens, valued my opinion.

Karen was my sister's age. My sister was, I am pretty sure, a college student in Singapore that year and not communicating with me. Karen used to express amazement that my sister saw little value in having a relationship with me. It was nice to have an adopted little sister who looked up to me.

Oh, because of a move, I had given Karen and Dave my lawn furniture, which was pretty nice stuff. It dated to my marriage when, with my ex's big shot income, we bought high quality stuff. Among other things, I gave them two chaise lounges, the kind you could adjust for different angles.

Karen actually sunbathed in bikinis. I have never sunbathed. I only burn and I never understood the appeal of just laying still to get a tan. Or a burn.  Karen liked my chaise and I had been invited over to see the lawn furniture in its new setting, Dave's back yard. They weren't married yet, did not live together until married.

I left that job, moved on in life and lost touch with karen until I enrolled my daughter in Waldorf, where Karen made an appearance, like a plot point in a novel, as our school secretary.  The gap in which we had lost touch was not long. And she moved on from that Waldorf gig and Rosie switched schools. And life moved on, as it does.

But that evening, for some reason, franchises were on my mind. In the early eighties, franchises were marketed as a path to wealth for some folks. You paid a huge licensing fee, paid for all the construction of the store you franchised, like a sandwich shop, and you had a kind of playbook for running a business. Plus the franchise seller did advertising.  Are franchises still offered by some investment advisors, which was what Dave was doing as he segued into technology consulting?

During this period of time, I had become increasingly aware that our society was undergoing intense systems change, that our economy was increasingly built on concentrating wealth. I said something along these lines to karen and she said "What does that mean?" I said "If you buy a Popeye's Chicken franchise, you make a profit and it stays in the community but some of every dollar you take in is tunneled to Popeye's, to anonymous shareholders. This takes money out of local economies and places it in a vast, anonymous stream of wealth that is able to accumulate and build power."  I was in my early thirties and not the least bit savvy about investments.  Newly divorced, my shedded husband with the MBA alongside his JD did all the investment thinking so I was a little surprised to hear the words that came out of my mouth. Concentration of wealth? Siphoning money out of local economies?  This was before my online life got started. I bought my first computer a couple years after that conversation with Karen and Dave. Where did I get those phrases?  It felt, in the moment, like I was channeling.

And all three of us 'felt' that what I was saying was true. Karen said "What can be done about it?" I shrugged and said "I don't know."

Dave, who as a young turk intended to siphon as lot of wealth from anywhere he could to become a millionaire. And I bet he succeeded. My ex-husband was also income-driven and I bet he has made a lot of money since we parted ways.

just saying

I know who I am, so if you come at me with a bunch of crazy shit I check into myself and can tell when it's all you. Just saying.

democracy is noisy, backroom deals are quiet

Does Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, have her thumb on the scale, using the DNC to tilt things in favor of Hilary?  I think so.  The fact that Debbie doesn't openly acknowledge her chicanery does not mean she is not favoring Hilary. Look at the bizarro debate scheduling; all of the Dem debates thus far, and there will be no more before the first caucuses and primaries, have been scheduled at times that have low tv viewership. Debbie didn't want Bernie, or O'Malley, to have that air time before voters.

Here in Berkeley, our former city planners turned insider fixers for developers are quiet, negotiating their deals outside of the public sphere. Backroom deals are, by their nature, quiet.

Public hearings, which are mere theater in Berkeley and many places these days, are no longer democratic. Our politicians decide behind silent, closed doors what they are going to do before the public is informed that our politicians are going to be making a decision. Then they set up a meeting to 'let' us speak for a minute or two, ignore all public comment even when much of it is from highly respected experts and go ahead and do whatever they agreed to do behind silent closed doors.

If the public raises their voices to object to sham political theater posing as democracy, they are silenced and threatened with eviction.

The rich don't go to public hearings. They don't have to. They buy all the access they want and our 'elected' politicians, bought and paid for by the rich, do as they are told. All very hush hush. All done behind silent, closed doors.

Democracy should be noisy.

I have read, and also seen some video, of the House of Parliment in Great Britian. The members of Parliment often engage in loud arguments amongst themselves, before the public view.  I am sure there is plenty of corruption in Great Britain. Where is there no corruption, where do the rich not buy politicians on this planet anymore? There may be some places that aren't corrupt but I don't see anyone reporting about such places, eh?

the feet of a 26 year old

Every December for the past six years, I have seen a foot doctor. One of many possible complications for persons with diabetes is foot problems that can lead to foot amputations. Annual foot inspections are the protocol. And my primary care doc has dutifully referred me to see a foot doctor every year.

Two years ago, the foot doctor I saw that year said "You have the feet of a 26 year old."  I thought it was a silly thing to say. Not offensive. Just silly.  Maybe a tad infantilizing. I liked the guy. He and I had a great conversation about going gluten, sugar and dairy free, which I had just started that year.

One year ago, I made my annual foot doc appointment, only to arrive and find a 'new' foot doctor. The 'feet of a 26 year old' had retired and been replaced by a female. The 'new' foot doctor actually trimmed my toe nails. She told me I didn't have to see a foot doctor annually since my feet were in such good condition. Once every other year, she said, was enough for someone with my feet. No silly remarks from her!

Shortly after that 'new' foot doctor, I saw my current endocrinologist for the first time. Doing her due diligence, or whatever doctors call a first-exam with a diabetic protocol, she insisted she see my naked feet, even though I had just seen a foot doctor and the record of that visit was visible to her online. She was looking at the record while I bared my feet.

As I removed my shoes and socks, I told her 'the feet of a 26 year old' story.

When my endocrinologist beheld my youthful feet, with a note of surprise in her voice, she said "You do have the feet of a 26 year old. Your feet are in great shape."

Hearing three doctors in a row note the very good condition of my feet, I filed this data in the back of my mind.  I don't see many other bare feet. Well, actually I see a lot of bare feet at the pool and especially in the shower room after swimming but I don't really look at people's feet. I'm looking now.  I thought my feet were normal and, based on my unscientific survey of gals in the group shower at my pool, so do many.

Then I visited my baby brother last winter. He has hammer toes, frequent blisters on his feet, trouble finding shoes that don't cause blisters which break and bleed. He is also diabetic, although a type two, not a type one like me. His constant foot sores are just the kind of thing that lead to serious foot problem, including amputations, for diabetics.  I don't think he has annual foot doctor visits. I don't believe he gets any foot care and he clearly needs some. His curled up toes make it almost impossible to buy shoes that do not cause sores on his feet.

As I reflected on my brother's foot problems, I remembered that our father, also a diabetic, had the same hammer toes my brother has. I remembered our dad had lots of foot problems but he saw a foot doctor all the time. I never saw my dad's feet red, blistered and bleeding, as my baby bro's feet were last winter.  I suggested he buy some mole skin for his blisters. He had never heard of mole skin.  As I recall his painful feet, and he stands on his feet to earn his living, I wince all over again. Plus I worry about my baby bro's potential for diabetic complications and his feet.

Seeing my brother's complicated toes reminded me that in college, my sister had to have foot surgery for the same kind of foot problems our mother had had. And our mom had had the same surgery more than once. Our mom had endless foot problems that were very different from our dad's. Genetically, I guess won the lottery of healthy feet.  I believe most of my five siblings have serious foot challenges.

Ruminating about the fact that everyone in my family of origin but me has, or has had, significant foot problems, allowed me to understand that having feet that look and feel exactly the same as they did when I was, say, 26, is a blessing. A lucky break.

Now, if only I had the knees of a 26 year old.  Neither of my parents had stiff knees that made stairs a rising (pun added for silliness) challenge. My maternal grandmother did. Once in awhile, when I find myself mid-stairway and my knees a-creakin and aching, I think of my grandmother and retroactively feel empathy.

all I want for Christmas

All I want for Christmas
is all I always want
I want happiness
I want love
I want good friends
I want family
I want persimmons in season
I want a lover
I want a life partner
I want the sun to shine
I want it to rain
I want soil to be nurtured
I want an end to processed food
I want an end to sugar added to everything
and an end to added salt
I want a just world
I want an end to bigotry
I want an end to racism
I want an end to war
I want kindness
I want to be kind
I want to be loving
I want I want I want


identify your tribe

When you find people
who not only tolerate
your quirks but celebrate
them with glad cries of
"Me, too!" be sure to 
cherish them. Because 
those weirdos are your

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Sister Mary Cray Cray

I have heard many horror stories about mean nuns. If there were any physically mean nuns in my K-12 Catholic education, at two schools, one an all girl Catholic h.s., I never witnessed nuns being mean. Only boys misbehaved and if they did, they often disappeared from our school. I have heard so many stories of nuns, and sometimes priests, cracking knuckles with rulers, using wooden paddles with air holes to increase the pain when a principal would 'spank' a rule breaker, but I never heard such stories in my K-12 years of Catholic education.  My only memories of mean nuns consist of verbal abuse, which, I know quite well, can be awful but the meanest nun in my grammar school, Sister Jerome Marie, wasn't sarcastically abusive all that much. Additionally, she mostly reserved her invectives for boys.

My older brother, Chuck the Fuck, got as much negative attention from 'the nuns' as any kid in our school ever did. The nuns told my parents not to bother to send him to a Catholic h.s. because he was destined for prison, had no future and there was no point spending money to send him to a Catholic high school. This being the world Stanley Kubrick created in A Clockwork Orange, where all the nasty boys become vicious, violent cops, my bro, Chuck the Fuck, went on to become a judge. Chuck is a real shit. He beat me up when I was 1, 2, 3, 4 and then my Irish twin, eleven months younger than me, grew to be larger than Chuck. Chuck had also been beating Joe up every chance he got but once Joe saw that he, Joe, was bigger than Chuck the Fuck (my special name for the fuck), Joe told Chuck that if Chuck ever hit him or me (and I remember perking up as Joe talked, surprised he was including me in putting an end to our suffering at Chuck's nasty hand!), Joe would beat him up real good. Chuck, being a bully, was also a coward. He never beat me or Joe up after Joe set him straight. Our parents kept having kids and Chuck beat on all of them but the baby, my baby sister, my only sister. Everyone doted on our baby sister. I guess fifteen year olds, and Chuck was 15 when she was born, didn't beat on babies.  Chuck the fuck beat up on Tomy, born when I was 7.  Chuck punched Tom when Chuck was in college, then law school and little guy Tom in middle school and high school.

And our parents, and later when Chuck was routinely hitting Tom, our single parent dad that Chuck and Tom lived with for awhile, never once suggested to Chuck that he stop hitting his siblings.

And Chuck did not limit his bullying violence to his siblings. He just chose his outside the family victims more carefully. He only chose boys that were younger than him and had no big brothers.

What about nuns and presidential politics? How I ramble.

So. Mostly I thought of all the nuns as sweethearts, except for Sister Jerome Marie, my fifth grade teacher who was actually tough. I never heard of her hitting any student but she was mean*. On the first day of my fifth grade, with me fantasizing that God has made a mistake, was playing a trick on me and I was really in another fifth grade class, with one of the nice nuns, Sister Jerome Marie said to me, in front of our whole, overcrowded class of at least fifty students, "So you are So-and-So Fitzpatrick. I had your brother last year." I swear my teeth chattered, I was like the cowardly lion facing the Wizard of Oz for the first time, chattering and also chewing on my tail. I said nothing, just shivered. "You brother is a son of a bitch." For any non catholics reading, you might not know that a nun calling an 11 year old boy as asshole no matter what a little shit he may have been, was just not done.

I was thrilled, frightened but thrilled. I couldn't wait to tell my dad what Sister Jerome Marie had said. Dad did not ruin Chuck's day by yelling at him for being regarded as an asshole by a nun. Oh no. Dad called up one of the priests and wailed complaints about Sister Jerome Marie. Dad had a point. Nuns should not call anyone an asshole in front of children. Or in front of anyone, I guess, but dad's anger focussed on the classroom setting.

There was one nun that I never had as a teacher but I had gotten to know pretty well. For many years, my mom made me her gift to God. As my mother put it, loudly and frequently, to me and everyone in our parish that would listen, "Since my mother gave one of her children to God, for my sister Joanne is now a nun, I am going to give one of my children to God, my daughter." Every time she said it, I would think, but never said because my mom would have punished me for talking back, "Why do you want to give me away?" Sometimes I thought "You have four sons so you give away your only daughter?" Plus, mom had lost two girls in infancy, my first two sisters. Her decision to give me away to God really stung. I still think that as her only surviving girlchild for many years, with my sister that lived only coming along as I started high school, mom should have given God a son.

Since I had a vocation and the whole goddamned parish knew, for occasionally they were asked to pray for my vocation. That didn't happen often but when it did, I felt so doomed.

One tiny positive in that hellish nightmare of having a vocation, and feeling guilty about my dishonesty because I knew God had not called me to a vocation, so I was a liar!, was for many years, I had to stay after school and help Sister Mary David clean the altar and lay out the vestments for the following day's masses. It was a massive parish, swolen by the post World War II Baby Boom. The nuns were just about the only ones at the 7 a.m. mass. The 8 a.m. mass was for pious holy rolling kids, or kids with bully moms like mine. Yeah, I went to daily mass at 8 a.m., privileged to be a couple minutes late for our 8:30 school start time and then allowed to eat breakfast after I had made my First Communion. In those days, you couldn't eat three hours before communion. That changed as I got older. So I went to mass daily and stayed after school daily to sweep the marble flooring of the very big altar. Dust the alter and its holy things carefully. And hand Sister Mary David the vestments as she laid them out in reverse order for the priests could put them on in the right order without having to lift them out of their drawers. Priests were treated with great deference.

Doing this every school day for years lead to me getting to know several nuns  and all the priests. 

I liked the peaceful experience cleaning that altar with Sister Mary David.

I thought that by now, I would remember the name of the nun who first talked to me, and all the kids in our school, about her views of having a female president.  Maybe she came around to give us a singing class now and then?  I never had in in class, don't remember her cleaning altars with me.And, by the way, I think this sentence, the sentence of having a publicly declared vocation, only lasted several years. It only seemed like forever when I was 8, 9, 10, maybe 11.

Eventually my aunt the nun saved me. But right now I want to wrap this presidential commentary up.

Sister Mary Somebody must have been the choir teacher. She came around to all the classrooms regularly for something.  This seems odd because Sister Mary David, the nun I knew best, was my piano teacher for years, until Sister Mary David and this nun with the female president preocupation, left the convent. Say, I wonder if they were lovers and left their marriage to God to be together? I like that. I definitely got to know the presidentially obsessed nun because I hung out with Sister Mary David.

But all the nuns knew me quite well, all saw me after school walking along with Sister Mary David, stopping to chat whenever SMD stopped to chat. And of course, being holy people, and teachers and priests, they all were very nice to me. Plus they all knew my whole family, mom dad and all sibs.

During the presidential campaign when J.F. Kennedy ran, the first Catholic to run for President, Sister Mary Somebody, took to running around saying "People keep saying when will we have a female president."  Sidebar:  I never heard anyone but Sister Mary Somebody suggest we should have a female president. I was mildly shocked the first time I heard such a suggestion. A female president? As if. Girls became moms, teachers, nurses or nuns.

Sister Mary Somebody had a bee in her bonnet. She would blast out her first sentence, see the line in quotes above and the, the bombast rising in her tone, "I would never want to be president and no sane female ever would." She would pause, probably for effect and she achieved good effect with the big, drawn-in breath that she slowly exhaled before she said "No woman would ever want that job. Only crazy people would want that job. Only men would want that job."

A couple of times, I even glanced around to see if the coast was clear for Sister Mary Somebody's indiscretion, to see if any priests were within earshot. I think she scanned her environment before she delivered her subversive talk about females ever becoming president.

Hilary, Sister Mary Somebody would have thought you must be out of your mind to want to be president. and I think, Hilary, that you are cray cray, a warmongering, corporate-military-industrial-complex loving lunatic.

*I know I had the highest IQ in my grade school because some numb nuts teacher told me so, forgetting, I guess, that I had several brothers attending the same school. So, although I was, for the most part, a docile girl, I lived with constant torment resulting from too many brothers. For example:  we were limited to one hour of television a day. My mom, the early adaptor! My brothers and I argued daily over what we would watch for that one hour. Mom never would let me watch 'girl' shows separately because, and she was probably right, my brothers would sneak in and watch more than an hour. So it was a tightly enforced one hour. Mom solved her problem of dealing with our squabbles by declaring our television watching to be ruled by democracy, majority rules. Bu mom!, the boys are more than me and the boys never pick my shows. So every Friday night, we watched "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." And don't get me wrong, I learned to love it.  I still have a slight crush on Ilia Kuriakan. But it was an acquired taste.  Once my mom made up her mind with her children, she never wavered. We were only limited to one hour a day when my dad was not home. When dad was home, he watched tv as much as he wished and he liked to watch a lot. And my dad, bless him, totally understood that I was entitled to, only very rarely, get to watch a girl show, which he would gamely watch with me. Mom would always be in the background, warning my dad. "Charles, you are such a bad influenced on your children!" Anyway, long paragraph coming to an end:  I snottily bragged about having the highest IQ in the school, helpfully pointing out often, to my bros, that if I had the highest, theirs was lower than mine.  I loved Mr. Mildice.

After I finished 4th grade, with my 4th grade teacher seating me along side bookshelves filled with a self-study, homeschooling educational program that went up to grade 12. She had realized I was bored out of my gourd in class. She said if I kept quiet, I could work my way through the lessons. I got up to the 11th grade curriculum in those books by the end of 4th grade. That teacher got the nuns to urge my parents to send me to a gifted kids school. My parents considered that but they decided that my brother Chuck would torment the whole family in his jealousy that I had been singled out as smarter than him.  When I walked into Sister Jerome Marie's class, having been assigned to my nightmare choice of 5th grade teacher -- my grade school had three classes for each grade, crammed to the rafters with boomers -- I kept praying that I was in a nightmare and over in my real life, I was starting at my new school for gifted kids. I was not particular interested in the smart label. I didn't really believe I was smart. I was interested in going to a school without Chuck.  I still find it hard to believe my parents withheld the possibility of the right education for me to accommodate their eldest son, the first born penis. Please note:  my parents accommodated Chuck's bad behavior, his bullying of the whole family, his terrorism, for he terrorized my parents as much as us kids, priotizing his appeasement above my education.   They were afraid of him and the havoc he very likely would have wrecked on the whole family if he was always jealous that his little sister was going to a school for smart kids.  They never considered, I guess, that as parents they might have exercised some parental authority, attempted to discipline Chuck. 

When I was in the 7th grade, my class happened to be let out ahead of Chuck's 8th grade class. I had waited for his class to come out so I could walk home with Ellen from next door. I was facing the school doors as Chuck burst out, saw me and, as if he had carefully choreographed himself, he almost danced over to me, jumped up like a hooper ball player going to a jump shot, and smackd me in my left eye with his right hand on the way down. I had a real shiner. And the nuns told me I was a crybaby and a tattle taler when I reported Chuck's assault to them.  I had a faint hope that a nun might discipline Chuck for that black eye (it didn't get black until a little later) because I knew my parents would not discipline him.

I speak fluent weird

First, I am reminded of the time my sister, when she was about four, was having a regular check up with our family doctor. He and mom had chatted about speaking other languages. My said "I speak English and French" and our family doctor said "I speak English and German." My sister, unbidden, chirped "I speak English and I speak Foolish."

Well, it runs in the family. I speak English, I speak Spanish and I speak weird.

I was at a holiday party this week and kept finding myself seated with no one talking to me. There was one friend present who I was glad to talk to because he talked about himself and listened to me talk about me. So I surprised myself by confiding in him. I said "I know I am an introvert but I come to a party and see how I always end up seated alone and not talking to anyone and I wonder why."  He said "It's the same with me. I figured out a long time ago that all the talk I was missing was talk that bored me and that was why I am missing it." 

Just then, his wife came along and urged him to leave. I know her, too. And like her. She even checked in and asked me if it was okay if she pulled him away.

That little chat motivated me to go into the next room, sit next to folks engaged fervently in converaton and wait for a wave that I might surf into the converation on. What I got was talk about knitting, crocheting and quilting.When the craft portion of that scintilating exchange ended, I got a dose of petty gossip.

And I realized why I so often find myself alone at social events.  And why so many people have told me, when they do get around to talking to me, that I am intense.

I am only interested in talking about what is real and meaningful to me.

I want to talk about me, hear about others, what they are doing in their lives. And, I know, the persons who talked about crocheting and knitting were talking about things that matter to them. They are lovely people that I like.

I speak fluent weird.  That is who I am. So where are my kindred spirits?

strong women

christmas, enough to make cats drink

I like weird, I am weird

waking up to who you are

you are from stardust

tear drops keep rolling

tear drops keep rolling down my cheeks
denying my abilitly to speak
sometimes I jut can't sleep
wearing down my heart
setting me apart
I'm never gonna stop the tears from a'fallin
I'm never gonna stop myself from growing
I'm never gonna stop the tear drops from rolling
Because I'm me
Being the best me I can be
Because I'm me


far too often, I cry a lot. My long-time, long-since therapist Jane used to say she felt happy when her patients cried in session. She said she thought of their tears as toxic experiences leaving them, the patients releasing pain.

I have a lot of sadness and a bottomless well of tears left to cry.  It's not as if all my crying has an endpoint. Crying a lot, and easily, is part of who I am. And it's an aspect of myself that I very much love.  I don't want to be someone who doesn't cry.

I was someone who didn't cry for too long. I never cried in childhood, adolescent or early twenties.

Once I started crying, in my first therapy with my marriage counselor turned individual therapist, I cried every second of every session for a couple years. Then I began to not cry through the whole  session. I had been thinking therapy meant crying so when I stopped crying, I told my doctor, I was afraid I was no longer healing. He invited me to reconsider. He said he thought I was crying a bit less because I was healing. I liked that. I still do. But I am still a frequent cryer. No mileage for that.

Geo. . . Rosie. . .

a xmas story about my daughter

For my daughter's second Christmas, I invited all her dad's relatives over for Christmas Eve dinner. We lived in his hometown at the time and all my relatives were five hundred miles away.  My ex's family initially acted weird about my invitation, their feathers seemingly ruffled that some interloper was hijacking the family holiday. I had chosen Christmas Eve because I knew the whole clan gathered at the matriarch's home for Christmas Day dinner. And I would have been just fine if no one came.

The sisters, my ex's four shrew sisters, consulted and decided maybe I was not being a bitch to host my ex's grandparents, parents, four sisters and their spouses for those who had any that year and his brother, his wife, and his niece and nephews.

I planned carefully, checking with my mother-in-law to be sure I didn't cook any of her sacred holiday cows. She did turkey so I did a pork loin roast.

I fussed especially over dessert. I wanted it to be something holiday-y but distinct. I pored over cookbooks and magazines. I settled on a recipe for some snowballs.

I did not realize at the time that everything I said to my husband as I planned and fretted to get everything right, he told is family. There was a background greek chorus critiquing every choice I even considered.

They did not approve of my dessert choice. Or the pork loin. Or the fact that I planned to give all the children gifts but not any adults. This criticism I still don't get. They exchanged gifts on Christmas day, going so far as to make all the little kids wait until Christmas evening after dinner to open their gifts. I thought giving each of the kids a small, inexpensive toy was a nice touch. I still do.

I gave my nephew Nick a small periscope, one designed to be used underater. The eye of that periscope could be turned so the child could view around corners or from under the water in the pool.Nick, who was as adorable as any little boy I have known, soon got into running around the house, then spying with his periscope around corners. It was a gift for all to see his joy.

I don't remember what I got Nick's sister Carrie, Nick's brother Matt or my own daughter Rosie.

Rosie was 18 months old, walking, not talking so anyone but me could understand her.

Rosie's great grandfather, on her dad's side of course, was from Croatia. He had emigrated during a round of genocide in Yugoslavia to work in the meat packing houses of South Omaha.  He was Catholic but I often questioned his Catholicism. I always had an instinct his maternal grandparents, who spoke with thick accents even after living in this country fifty years or more, had crossed over, that they had been another religion and converted to Catholicism in their underinformed belief that whatever faith they had had in Yugoslavia would not be welcome in America.  Who knows? They were so far from my notions I had of Catholics, and, trust me, I knew Catholics, having gone to Catholic schools K-12, with my aunt the nun entering her final vows the day after she stood as my godmother at my christening. Having a nun in the family wasn't quite as good as having a priest but my aunt the nun was what we had. My aunt, parenthetically, left the convent after 47 years. I am sure about the number of years because she became a nun when I was christened and she left the convent t marry a divorced Episcopal priest when I was 47. That's a good story.

Her husband had been married when they met and fell instantly in love. They decided Bill had to keep his vows to his wife, that they could not be together. My aunt went to be a missionary in Guatemala, partly to serve selflessly, partly for adventure I think and partly to grieve at a remove from Bill. A couple years in the Guatemalan jungle and Bill appeared with a free pass to marry my aunt. His wife, happily for all, had decided she was a lesbian. Bill had a a free exit and could remarry guilt-free. Episcopalians don't reject divorce the way the formal Catholic church does. Most Catholics I know are divorced, then remarry, but it is all sorta ignored.

I just looked up at my post title:  a xmas story about my daughter.

As we readied for that Christmas Eve party, with our own dear angel glad in a purple velour pants suit looking like a pale lavendar angel to us, my husband looked out our patio doors and saw a dead bird whose head had gotten caught in the peep hole of a bird house in our backyard. He said "I better remove that. If my grandpa sees it, he will be spooked. He is very superstitious."  I thought but did not say "You seem pretty superstitious yourself" but I also felt some fondness, seeing how eager my husband was to please his grandpa.

I learned that one of that family's Christmas traditions was that Crotian grandpa gave all the small children money at Christmas. He handed out small amounts of cash to all the kids, with my purple angel included. She could barely walk. And the purple velour pants suit had no pockets. I don't think any of her clothes had pockets at the time. Babies didn't need pockets. And I tended to buy clothes for her with simple lines, never ascribing to the practice of dressing up little girls in frills.

I had stepped out of the kitchen, stepped away from the last minute rush of getting food out onto the table when I saw her great-grandpa hand her two rolled-up one dollar bills. She rushed away from him, as if she wanted to get away before anyone decided to take that money back. Clearly she knew money was a fine thing to have and she demonstrated that she had seen people, probably her father, put money in a pocket.

As my tiny purple, velour, beatific, and toddling awkwardly angel walked away from her great grandpa's gift distribution line, she tried repeatedly to stuff those two dollars into a pocket. I watcher her father step in to tell her she had no pocket. Then I stepped in and suggested she might put the two dollars in her dad's pocket, and trust him to give it back.

She was too young to want to actively spend the money. The other kids were all old enough to decide to spend it on candy.  I don't recall her dad ever fussing with her about spending the money.

Her father and I separated a few weeks later. He may have revived that two dollar gift but I doubt it. He did not tend to think of small things.

Here I am, 32 years later, remembering Rosie rushing through my living room, trying to stuff those two dollars into a nonexistent pocket.

It is such a small memory.

It was such a wonderful moment, the kind of small, wonderful moments that add up to a wonderful life.

I began to keep a look out for clothes that would fit her that had pockets. And thus began our foray in Oshkosh b'Gosh pastel corduroy overalls. They had pockets and were, imho, adorbs.

Rosie, I miss and love you. I know someone is giving you gifts as wonderful and as magical as those two folded one dollar bills. The gift, of course, was the love of her great grandpa and being included with the big kids and the magic of Christmas still alive, I hope, for most children.

No Christmas these days for me. So I spelunk in my memories.

it prevents life

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Art of the Steal: Hilary and DNC

I can't express how outraged I am by the DNC's stunt to block Bernie Sander's campaign from access to its own data, which it has paid to use on the DNC database and serverse. Most of Bernie's data is private to his campaign.

This so clearly smacks of cheating. The last debate, absurdly schedule on the Saturday evening just before Xmas when most are at holiday parties and not home watching tv, and right after Bernie's two big boosts with a major union endorsement and hitting 2,000,000 donors.

Can Bernie access those donors to ask them all to write and call the DNC about this skullduggery?

It is all but unbelievable. This fits perfectly with Hilary's sneakiness, which she has shown all her life. She had her own professional grade server while Secretary of State, violating the State Department rules if now the law and I believe it violates the law. After her sycophants scrubbed that server, we'll never know what she had on there that she wanted to hide.

How do we know Hill's campaign, which had the same firewall breach on the same poorly run database, access private data from other campaigns? We don't because Wasserman Schulz, Hilary's failed campaign manager from 2008, is in control. Wasserman Schulz acts like an overcompensating dick, doing everything she can to give Hillary special favors and everything she can to block Bernie.

Wasserman Schulz is not just blocking Bernie. She is blocking democracy when she blocks the will of millions of Americans who support Bernie.


Go to DNC website and voice your objection to this outrageous block, denying Bernie's campaign access to their own data, a service they have paid handsomely for.

The Art of the Feminine

This is from The Art of the Feminine's Facebook page. The painting is by an artist named Amanda Clark.

I never hear this

a blessing and a curse

something I really liked about my daughter

As a teenager, she never told me the race or ethnicity of people in her life that I tended to not meet. Then something would happen, I would meet them and find out a gal pal of hers was Asian, a guy she was seeing was Middle Eastern. She didn't want me meeting anyone but it could not always be avoided.

One time when she did tell me a guy's race:  she was waiting for the walk light at a lighted interssection downtown. A much older African American male hit on her, asking her to go out with him. She was always an amazingly confident flirt. I have never flirted. I was in humble amazement at how effortlessly she did it, although I also saw how it could be risky. If the wrong guy thinks her casual, fun, flirting at age fourteen was a serious signal of interest, she could get in trouble. For the most part, she was just well-skilled at flirting, keeping a light tone that few men interpreted as serious flirting.

When this particular black guy hit her on the street, she said, she didn't speak initially. She just waved him off. The guy became a bit abusive, haranguing her for being racist, for not dating black men. She figured he was in his mid-to-late twenties. She was fourteen or fifteen, but, as a former acquaintance remarked when he saw a photo of her at fourteen, she had a 'nice bod'. She danced 30 hours a week and was voluptuous. Even skinny, she had full breasts, curvey hips. Voluptuous.  Hot.

When this man kept haranguing her and her, she thought, polite waving him off didn't get him to desist, she said "I'm fourteen." He moved on.

I think it was when she told me the story of the aforementioned black guy hitting on her on Hennepin Avenue outside her dance company, she told me that I should expect her to marry a black man. "They are more attractive than white men," she said.  I was proud that she said it and I kept my thoughts to myself, although neither of us were very successful at hiding are real thoughts from one another. We knew one another well enough to know what the other thought, whether they said it aloud or not. My real thought was that she might find black guys hotter but she cared too much about fitting in and her ideas of what constituted status to marry one. I think she knew it would not have upset me if she had chosen a nonwhite spouse or either gender, although she has made it clear she doesn't give one good goddamn what I think about her at all. Still, it looks like she is dating a wealthy white young man in construction engineer, a field related to her work in real estate development. She always has attracted wealthy lovers, even when she dabbled with chicks.  I wonder if she still sometimes has chick lovers. And I bet it would irritate her that I use the word chick as I am. This is how I talk and I get to be me. One thing about being free of any need to please my daughter, I am free to be me, free to slake off any whisper of opprobrium. She has made it clear:  she disapproves of me so much that she has concocted a fantasy that I am, as she put it last February, "severely mentally ill". Usually 'severely mentally ill' involves psychosis and I have not had a single moment of psychosis. Depression is my greatest flaw and that is not 'severely mentally ill'.

She had a dance girlfriend in those days who was half-Asian, half-white. I forget the girl's name.  I think this girl tried to hide her racial identify. She dyed her hair bleach blonde, plucked her eyebrows so they were almost nonexistent. I met her many times, had no idea she was not white. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just that I felt empathy for the young teen who seemed to deliberately hide she was Asian. I totally didn't get she was Asian until my daughter finally told me.

I don't know why my daughter did not mention her friends' races when she told me stories about them. Did she think I would care?

The only thing I cared about, in terms of who she hung out with, was I didn't like her hanging out with much older friends, which she did increasingly, but pretend to me they were her age. Race. Ethnicity. These did not matter. But when she proudly passed herself off as much older and would socialize in the city, pretending she was at dance practice but was actually out partying with men in their late twenties, her passing herself off as older, that I minded.

water gift on BART

Yesterday, riding BART back to Berkeley from SF, I began to cough. The first cough caught me a bit off guard so I did not cover up the cough completely, although I did cough into my sleeve. The woman seated next to me pulled up her scarf, clearly doing so to avoid inhaling any germs my cough might have spread.

When I kept coughing, I did a better job of covering my cough. And I sat there considering whether I should tell the woman next to me that my cough was about a dry throat and that I didn't have any illness. 

I usually have a water bottle with me at all time. Yesterday I deliberately left my water bottle at home. I was doing a Rainbow Grocery run, which entails a heavy load on the trip home.  Sometimes I bring my shopping cart but, believing I was only going to buy Himalayan pink salt and oatmeal, I left the cart at home. And I left my water bottle at home.

By the time I was riding back to Berkeley, I had not had any water for a few hours. A dry cough resulted.

Suddenly the woman next to me offered me a 12 ounce bottle of water, the store-bought, prepacked kind.  I never buy such bottles of water. I use reusable water bottles. I happily accepted her offer, even joking, after my first sip, "I assume you don't want this back."

Then she and I struck up a conversation on health, health care and nutrition.  I think we got there because I said I had left my water bottle at home to make my Rainbow run. She had never heard of Rainbow and used to be a professional chef. She was reading a magazine about fine cooking on BART. When I told her about the amazing bulk department at Rainbow, and then listed the things I bought, seguing into a conversation about food, nutrition and the endless spices, grains, nuts, olives, etc sold bulk at Rainbow was natural.    I learned she has about as many health challenges as I do and at least as much, if not more, distrust of allopathic doctors. Like me, she figures out what she needs, tries to get her health needs met with food.

It was fun, comparing notes and finding out that although we have different health issues, we actually have about the same nutrition restrictions.

It was a pleasant chat on a long train ride from the Mission to downtown Berkeley.

I was caught up in the conversation so it wasn't until I was walking home from my BART stop that I wondered if that woman's being had picked up on my thoughts and energy in which I had sat there wondering if I should assure her that I was coughing because I needed water, that I was not coughing up flu virus or cold germs.

I think she did pick up on my energy, my vibration.

I am steadily amazed when people who seem so savvy to me about something as fundamental as nutrition yet they continue to buy cheap, bottled in plastic, water. Don't they care about plastic in oceans?! Haven't they heard of interbeing, a hot buzz word these days.

That water was great.

As often happens when I am on BART alone and I strike up an engaging conversation, I very nearly missed my stop. I leapt up just before the doors closed at my stop.

Then I stepped out to find a friend riding BART to Oakland.

It is fairly unusual for me to run into people I know. People who have lived in the same place all their lives don't understand how long it can take to knit the kind of community ties where one regularly runs into people they know.