Sunday, November 29, 2015

this is what the whole thing is about

Got up on a cool morning. Leaned out a window.
No cloud, no wind. Air that flowers held
for awhile. Some dove somewhere.

Been on probation most of my life. And
the rest of my life been condemned. So these moments
count for a lot--peace, you know.

Let the bucket of memory down into the well,
bring it up. Cool, cool minutes. No one
stirring, no plans. Just being there.

This is what the whole thing is about.

we may miss our star

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

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give--yes or no, or maybe--
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.


the richest man in town

I have a friend who has never earned much money.  He's in his seventies now and doing okay because he fell in love with a woman who owns a house and inherited a large N California farm, so he is not at risk of becoming homeless. Now. This is how things are for him now.

But when I first knew him, in a moment of discouragement, he lamented that he had never earned any money and felt like a failure.

"Ken," I exclaimed, "How can you say that?  You are like the Jimmy Stewart character in "It's A Wonderful Life", when at the end of the movie, his brother returns a war hero, the whole town is gathered in Jimmy's house and his brother makes a toast to the richest man in town. You are like the richest man in town!"

"How do you get that?" he groaned, still feeling down.

"Because you have lived your whole life aligned with your values, that's why. That makes you the richest man in town. Not many people can say they have always lived aligned with their values."

I could hear his being respond to what I had said. I don't remember that he said anything to me. I think he gruffly changed the subject.

I meant every word I said to him.

loneliness is dangerous

Loneliness is as dangerous as cigarette smoking. Scientists have concluded that given all the drastic ways in which loneliness impacts our bodies, it represent as great a risk for our long term health and longevity as smoking cigarettes. Indeed, studies have concluded that chronic loneliness increases our risk of an early death by 14%.
~ from a psychology today article on loneliness

I sorta hope my loneliness will kill me.

the thrilling sound of puffing cranberries

Every Thanksgiving week I think about my holiday pie. I can't eat cranberries anymore because of a medication I take. I have been thinking about making my cranberry pear pie. I like the way memories can float about, like the smells coming from a kitchen readying a holiday feast.

It is a simple recipe. A bag of fresh cranberries (usually a pound) and less than one cup of real maple syrup and a bunch of beautiful pears. Prebake the pie crust slightly. Peel and slice the pears. If you are baking this pie with a child, let the child eat all the pear slices s/he wishes to eat. Layer the fruit artistically. And use a lattice top. It is a very beautiful pie. The red cranberries shine like rubies nestled in the pears. The red peeks through the lattice crust nicely. Serve with unsweetened whipped cream. Let the child taste a fresh cranberry too, if they wish. Explain the word pucker afterwards.

The recipe is not really what I was thinking about. I was thinking about the real reason I love to make this pie.

You put the maple syrup in a saucepan with the cranberries. The actual recipe calls for two cups of maple syrup but one of the reasons I like this pie is that it is not too sweet. Cut way down on the maple syrup and you really taste fruit. Cranberries are tart so they need the syrup but use as little as possible.

Heat the syrup and cranberries gently, slowly. Here is the  reason I used to make this pie: as the cranberries warm up and start to both cook and absorb the maple syrup, they make a very soft puffing sound.

Oh my gosh, I love the sound of the cranberries puffing. I love to do this with a child. I love to enjoy the hushed anticipation as we listen for the first puff. While waiting, this is a good time to kiss the child on top of the head a few times.

As soon as the cranberries start puffing, you have to quickly pull the saucepan from the heat. The thrill does not last long, the puffing is only a few seconds and the sounds very soft. Yet it is a very fine experience. There is a temptation to keep the cranberries on too long in the hope that you will get to hear another mild puffing sound but you must resist. Resolve to make this pie again soon.

Then you layer the cooked berries, the pears and bake, not too long, just long enough to meld the flavors, to lightly bake the pears.

remembering a booze story about my mom

When I moved into my Victorian, gut-rehabbed duplex, the one I sold to finance my daughter's college education, my mom came to Minneapolis.

I had had movers move in all the furniture and put the boxes marked kitchen in the kitchen but I had all the other boxes placed in the full basement. That basement was fitted with pipes for a bath and kitchen, and had been studded to add a third apartment. The previous owner had been the developer of the whole role of rehabbed houses but he had lived in the house I bought so, everyone on the block said, it had many more features. Only I had an atrium with skylights in the second and third story owner's unit. Only I had a cement-block basement instead of the stone basements that the other late 19th Century, wood-framed houses up and down the block had. Plus I assumed a mortgage that would have been paid off in, I think, 2004, the year my daughter graduated from Cornell. It was a sweet, income-generating house. The two-bedroom rental was easy to rent, given our proximity to the University of Minnesota and downtown. And now, a light rail station is just a couple blocks away. Cherry real estate. I digress.

So on moving day, after the movers were done, exhausted, we went out to eat. On the way home, mom asked me to buy some liquor. My mom was an alcoholic, although she never admitted she was one. When I told here that all liquor stores closed at 8 p.m., and since it was after 8 p.m., we could not buy booze unless we drove thirty or forty miles east to Wisconsin, which I was not prepared to do, my mom called me a liar. She said "You just don't want me to have a drink." So I drove around to several liquor stores to show her they were all closed.

As we drove around, I did mention that in the many dozens of boxes in my new basement, there was some booze. A year or two earlier, mom's company, the one she inherited from her second husband, had been part of its industry's annual convention, which was in Minneapolis that one time. Mom had rented a fancy hospitality suite, as her then-deceased husband always had. And the suite was stocked with a ton of booze. When the party was over, everyone in the company, which was my stepfather's kids and my mom, were flying home and could not haul home a ton of opened bottles of all the kinds of booze one stocks for an open bar. I had several partially used bottles of just about everything, but all packed away in boxes. I had taken the booze home somewhat blindly. Mom urged me to do so and the stuff had to get removed from the suite or else they would be charged.

And then that booze just gathered dust in my cupboards, because I have never been much of a drinker. Along with the hard liquor, there were also some booze mixers like creme de menthe.

I had had that liquor in my apartment for a couple years and never given it a thought until I packed it for the move. And when, after my mother finally accepted that all the liquor stores were closed, and i foolishly reminded her that I had hauled away all the leftover booze from her big company party at the convention, she said "well, go down and get it."

I pointed out that I had no idea which boxes the booze was in, for I had labeled the boxes based on where I thought they should be unpacked, not by their content.

Dang if my mom didn't trudge down to that basement and spent an hour or so tearing open all my boxes, disregarding the mess she left me, for she had frantically removed and thrown around the basement things on top of boxes looking for some booze.

She found some. She came up stairs, red from the effort but also, I think, from the anger. She complained that I had no right to have packed 'her' booze. I didn't point out that a gift once given belonged to the recipient. I didn't really care if she took the booze. And she did pack as much of that left over booze as she could when she went home that time. She was so angry.

I had no mixers in the house so she drank whatever booze she had found, for she stopped looking as soon as she had found one bottle of alcoholic content, straight. As I write about this scene, which took place around 1992, I feel her vibrating anger.  I also feel, in a more suffused way, my own anger. I had not gone down to look at the mess in my basement but I knew that she had been down there a long time, tearing open box after box. I knew my packed belongings were now a big fat mess in my basement.

I had long believed my mom was an alcoholic but, not living near her since I left home for college, and only seeing her for a few days here and there each year, it had been easy to ignore her drinking. Plus she was an at-home sozzler.  I realized the day I moved into that house that my mom was an alcoholic.

This story reminds me of the day I realized my ex-husband was also an alcoholic. In the leftover collection of booze from our wedding open bar, there was a bottle of creme de menthe I had moved that bottle of creme de menthe a couple times, never even tasting it. There had been other leftover booze from the wedding but my ex had drunk his way through that pretty quickly.

One night, after we had been married awhile and owned a house, he wanted a drink. In the city we lived in during that short marriage, the liquor stores, at least back then (I don't know how late liquor stores stay open in these Midwestern states now), did not stay open late.

There were states, at least back then, that were 'dry' on Sundays, when you couldn't buy liquor anywhere. I think bars remained open on Sundays but you couldn't buy bottles of booze. I know this because when we drove from my home city to my grandparents who lived a few states away on the Great Plains, my aunt Margaret would urge mom to stop driving on Saturday to pick up booze because the state we were in was dry on Sundays. I wonder if those states are still dry on Sundays. I don't really care, just wunnering.

I think the tradition of closing liquor stores early dates back to Prohibition and represented a futile attempt to slow down drinking. I think there was some kind of rationale that folks who prudently planned their booze purchases before the liquor stores closed at 8 p.m., or whenever in other states, magiclaly lead to less alcoholism. Nonsense, of course.

Since I did not drink much myself, my ex and I did not have a habit of cocktails at home.  I don't really know when he worked his way through all our leftover wedding booze but one day, with him desparate for alcohol and no place to buy it, except bars. As far as I know, my ex did not go to bars, not while we were married anyway but who knows?

Anyway, when I said the only booze in the house was a mostly full bottle of creme de menthe, which does not have a high alcohol content, he drank the whole bottle, telling me it didn't taste too bad.

Yuck, right?  I was fairly certain that only an alcoholic would drink a whole bottle of creme de menthe when it was the only alcohol available.

After my mom has torn through my boxes of household goods and found her booze, I took her to a liquor store the next day and she stocked up.

I am blessed not to have the drive to drink booze.  My dad was a teatotaler. My sister will drink socially but she does not drink much.  My daughter seemed to be moving in the direction of being an alcoholic. I believe she had drug or alcohol abuse problems, which were enabled by her former boyfriend Michael. Michael used drugs, had been expelled from two elite prep schools for drug use. I wonder if he got her on heroin. I know she has dated a heroin addict, altho she dumped him. I know about him because he wrote to me. And when I could see her FB page, which she has now blocked me from seeing, I saw that many of her FB friends were in 12 step programs.  I hope she never slid into heroin but if she did, I hope she has found recovery. She seems to have.

My mom didn't see herself as an alcoholic because she didn't buy booze. She often said she didn't need to drink, she only drank when my brother, who she lived with a long time at the end of her life, provided it so she drank. Without it, she was fine.

But the way she tore through those dozens of boxes in my basement, scattering my belongings helter skelter while she rushed to find some booze showed me:  my mom was an alcoholic.

I had packed the bottles of booze separately, tucking them into boxes that had something to cushion a glass bottle so the booze was not all in one place. I remember, as I packed those disparate bottles of booze, questioning why I was moving booze that I never remembered existed, that I never drank.

Now I think I packed that booze so I would see my mom clearly as the drunk she had become.

And that creme de menthe night:  most definitely, he was an alkie.

time does not heal all wounds

where did the saying 'time heals all wounds" come from?

grief

You find a new center of gravity, but the limb does not grow back. ~ unattributed quote
I am not finding a new center of gravity for the loss of my daughter.

how to instantly empower


Saturday, November 28, 2015

fearless tearshedder

This essay, by Brenda Keaton, was found here:  http://www.rebellesociety.com/2015/11/28/dear-empath-we-need-you/

As I read it, it feels like she has pierced my etheric and is talking directly to my whole being.

To those who soak up the world’s energy like a sponge…
You play a critical role here.
You may not feel it sometimes. Sometimes it feels like you’re drowning in a sea of other people’s feelings, uncertain which waves have poured over from foreign waters and which come from your own deep center, far too immersed to reach, at least in this lifetime.
The part you play in this drama of human life is absolutely essential.
You are one of the truth-tellers.
You are one of the strong ones.
You are one of the believers in magic. You dance in the shadows to bring life to the light trickling in from cracks in the board that others fail to see.
Without you, chaos continues to ensue.
Sometimes you play the role of match-striker, sparking the fire that burns away the dust that has settled on top of the shell.
Know that the work you do, in stoking the flames, is not a bad thing. Rather, it is remarkable. It signifies your immense potential to get at the heart by pulling at the threads of bullshit we have wrapped our true selves in.
We all wear sweaters tangled with lies of who-we-need-to-be and what-we-need-to-prove, and you are often the sole being who sees the snags, unafraid to wrestle your pinky fingernail into the hole, however minuscule, and rip and pull and prod until the whole web, the false exterior, comes undone.
This is not easy work. This is the task of a fighter. A wolf. A truth-seeking ninja who will stop at nothing.
By most conventional societal standards, you are, without a doubt, the underdog. You receive none of the glory. People will not know to thank you, for waking them up. They may not realize until years later it was you that so gently (or sometime, when the direness of the situation calls for it, more urgently) removed the shambled cloak they lay sleeping beneath, to stir them back-to-life with a burst of cool air.
They may never comprehend the depths of your mission, the gift that you have so selflessly bestowed upon them.
You see, most people don’t notice the things you see and feel with clarity. Most others live in cheerful omission of the felt sense that simmers throughout your entire body, down to the root, remaining hidden by the tangibility society places on a pedestal.
For the survival of your empathetic soul, you must understand that these others exist on a different plane of being altogether. Not a lesser-than plane, nor in a higher state, but just in a different place.
Like originating from one country versus another.
These people cannot comprehend what it means to feel all the things, and to feel them to the core of their very being. They do not carry antennas flickering with messages at the faintest signal of emotion. The sensitivity of your feelers is not limited by physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual constraints. No walls, nor technological barriers, can prevent you from taking in what those around you feel.
You can try as hard as you like to put up invisible shielded boundaries. You can seek the protection of black panther guardians, use crystals and healing rays and countless other grounding techniques.
No matter your mechanisms to prevent the absorption of the energy around you, it is time for you, brave heart, to relent, and recognize that this is your gift.
You may never have the thick skin they will forever tell you to grow, but you wouldn’t have it any other way. Because with your power comes the ability to touch a child’s hand, and realize that while you have been bitten, in true zombie-apocalyptic fashion, with the detrimental effects of his lack-of-sleep foregoing nap time, you see the spring in his step amplify, and you know you have made him all the stronger, even if for only a moment.
And these small moments, of lifting others by sharing their afflictions, expand, one drop at a time, until the ripples of a creek fight through the hard, drought-ridden cracks. And then, one day, the trickle accumulates and grows strength, becoming its own, majestic waterfall. All created by your ability to shed other people’s tears on their behalf.
You will cry out in the meeting in which no one else would raise a hand, shining light on the vibes underlying the entire group. You will speak up for the whales, the ocean, even the air, which has been so violently ripped of life by those around you. You will not stop shedding your tears until they have washed away the world’s darkness.
Know that the others do not mean to leave you in the dust, nor do they intentionally thrust you into the fire without a helping hand. They do not mean to cause you to be the sole voice screaming the injustices from the mountaintop.
They simply do not know how to consciously give words to these deep-felt emotions. They cannot fathom sweeping the dust to form the bones of what matters. They do not understand what has been brimming underneath, nor can they hear their heart-song’s murmur.
At least, not yet.
But with time, I believe, we will all, gently, give way to the song within, and slowly reveal the flower as yet budding in the deepest interior of our core. One by one, given the right ingredients of nurturing, our petals will expand until we wave at the sun in unison, providing refuge to the bees to produce honey sweet enough to overpower the bitterest of earthly fruits.
You are one of the early ancient ones. Bringing us back to the ship from which we most recklessly jumped. Showing us the crooked, twisty, overgrown-with-grass path through the forest, toward the life we are all meant to live. The path straight to the source. Do not for one second doubt your mission here. We need you, in all of your strength and lack-of-glory.
We need you, fearless tear-shedder, to continue your song for all those who have forgotten they have a voice.

prayers fly from all directions

Do you bow your head when you pray or do you look up into that blue space? Take your choice, prayers fly from all directions.
~ Mary Oliver

fear anger hate suffering


Friday, November 27, 2015

only the pure of heart can make good soup

Only the pure of heart can make good soup.
~~ Beethoven
I don't know how pure my heart is but I can make truly great soup.

how to lose a good woman like me


a fire in Berkeley and mandarin chicken

There is, or was until it experienced a major fire overnight, a large, old fashioned Chinese restaurant in downtown Berkeley. I never ate there.  I passed it often, for it is only a few blocks from my home and I always walk if my destination is within Berkeley.  I usually stop and read the menu and then have decided I wasn't hungry.

I never felt called to eat there because the place was always empty, or nearly so, even at times most restaurants would be busy.  It had the look of an old school Chinese restaurant with kitschy attempts to appear Chinese to mostly Americans.

When my daughter was growing up, she and I had a couple favorite restaurants that we nearly always went to. And she and I dined out a lot. The Great Wall was our go-to Chinese place, a nice place with not much kitsch and modest pricing. And white tablecloths! I always got the kung-pau shrimp and she always got the chicken mandarin. We were regular enough that all the hostesses knew we wanted to be seated in the no smoking section, this being back in the day when all restaurants did not yet ban smoking in the whole place, as is the practice now.  The hostess, or host, rarely spoke fluent English. She would raise two fingers as she saw us enter, looking at us to confirm we wanted a table for two. As we approached her more closely, she would say "Two no smoke, 'ight?" And we would say, yes, two no smoking.

We had dinner there every Christmas, having had our family holiday deal meal on Christmas Eve. Then we would go to a movie at the nearby multiplex. Our Christmas tradition.

One block from where I live now is Great China, widely said to be one of the best Chinese restaurants anywhere, as good or better than you find in San Francisco's China town.  This place is always packed.  They serve what is said to be the best Peking Duck anywhere, with many Chinese insisting it tastes better than any Peking Duck they ever had in China. When I first moved here, I wanted to try that Peking Duck, for I have never had Peking Duck, but, six years and counting, I have still not had my Peking Duck. It is a dinner for two, expensive by my standards and, at least in my view, the kind of festive indulgence one only has with a loving, fun friend.  Back in the time when my daughter dined with me, she and I would have had a blast trying that Peking Duck, if I could have gotten her to change from the chicken mandarin. My Rosie was always a picky eater.

When she was a toddler, about once a year, I drove her to my mom's home and left her with mom and her second husband and, in the earliest years I did this, her aunt, my sister.  Mom and Ron had other grandchildren and took them all in stride. Rosie was the first grandchild in my family of origin and all my relatives seemed to enjoy having a baby around again.  Rosie is fourteen years younger than my sole sister, and my sister is fourteen years younger than me. We hadn't had a baby around in fourteen years.

Mom and Ron were frustrated by Rosie's picky eating.  My mom had her flaws, so many that she probably should never have been a mother. My mom, however, was better with her grand children than she had been with her children. She did not try to force Rosie to eat. She and Ron seemed to enjoy the challenge of finding things she would not only eat, but enjoy.

Ron, a bit of a grump but also a cook, would make her all his best dishes. Mom never really cooked. And Ron would bring home white bakery boxes tied in string filled with Napoleons, his favorite decadent pasty, hoping to entice Rosie into eating one. And, although Ron and my mom had both had, even before getting together, strictly enforced the clean plate rule with all their kids (mom had six, Ron had three), they did not enforce it when the first grandchild, my Rosie came along. Instead, they metaphorically tore their hair out trying to find things she would eat.

I feel loving fondness for both Ron and my mom as I recall their favorite solution to Rosie's picky eating. Wendy's.  Rosie would not eat their burgers at that time. And my mom and Ron had not frequented any fast food joints before Rosie began to visit for several weeks at a stretch. So why Wendy's? They had a salad bar, a substantial salad bar in the early eighties.  My mom, who always ate with pious nutritional posing in front of people, esp. her second husband, would just get the salad bar. And little Rosie, in her little squeaky Munchkin voice, said "Grandma, I want the salad bar too."

To mom and Ron's amazement, Rosie ate more off that salad bar than they had ever seen her eat in one setting before. So, bless them, they took to going to Wendy's several times a week while she was visiting.

And they loved to tell me about having figured out how to get her to eat.

My mom, and also Ron, but he died when she was about five years old, was very good to my Rosie. Yet Rosie lived in the same city as her grandmother for the last years of my mom's life and never once contacted her.  My mom had only been good to her.

Back to the Chinese restaurant burning in Berkeley. This is not exactly an essay, just me revving up for my writing day. My morning pages, as it were.

Nearly every time I passed the Chinese restaurant that burned last night, I often had the intuition that it would burn down. And when I walked past it just a couple days ago, I was the most tempted to order something from it than I ever was, with a strong sense that the place was about to go away. I had a dark intuition. I did not think "there will be a fire". I simply sensed finality and darkness.

And do I think it was arson?  Hell yes I do.  The building of that Chinese restaurant is on prime downtown real estate, just a block away from two pending high rises, one a hotel and one an apartment tower. Prime, top dollar real estate.

Berkeley has had a significant increase in fires lately. And every time I see one, I think 'arson'. No trouble getting a demolition permit to demolish a building destroyed by fire. And no trouble selling that property to a real estate speculator who will hope to cash in on the scary gentrification happening in Berkeley and all over the Bay Area.

I wonder if they had a salad bar, mandarin chicken or Peking Duck. Now I will never know. No matter. Rosie is thousands of physical miles away and she might as well be living in an alternate reality. She is not ever going to have Chinese with me ever again, I predict. Plus, if anyone wants good Chinese when they visit me, we go to the Great Wall. Or Chinatown. I like the restaurant in Chinatown where Obama gets dumplings when in town. Someone I love is coming to visit me soon-ish. If he wants to eat in Chinatown, I'm going to push for Obama's choice.  Unless he wants Peking Duck, then we'll stay in Berkeley for that.

And here is a little bit more of nothing about nothing: in the Midwest, any Chinese restaurant I ever ate in always served bowls of white rice, included in the price of any entree. Here on the West Coast, Seattle and here, rice is always extra.  I wonder why this different practice exists. I won't wonder a lot but I wonder.





















special glasses

if I had such special glasses, maybe I could stop seeing, and wanting, my daughter and any kind of love
"Special Glasses" by Billy Collins

I had to send away for them

because they are not available in any store.

They look the same as any sunglasses

with a light tint and silvery frames,

but instead of filtering out the harmful

rays of the sun,

they filter out the harmful sight of you --

you on the approach,

you waiting at my bus stop,

you, face in the evening window.

Every morning I put them on

and step out the side door

whistling a melody of thanks to my nose

and my ears for holding them in place, just so,

singing a song of gratitude

to the lens grinder at his heavy bench

and to the very lenses themselves

because they allow it all to come in, all but you.

How they know the difference

between the green hedges, the stone walls,

and you is beyond me,

yet the school busses flashing in the rain

do come in, as well as the postman waving

and the mother and daughter dogs next door,

and then there is the tea kettle

about to play its chord—

everything sailing right in but you, girl.

Yes, just as the night air passes through the screen,

but not the mosquito,

and as water swirls down the drain,

but not the eggshell,

so the flowering trellis and the moon

pass through my special glasses, but not you.

 

Let us keep it this way, I say to myself,

as I lay my special glasses on the night table,

pull the chain on the lamp,

and say a prayer—unlike the song—

that I will not see you in my dreams.

but am I blocking the GPS system?!


Thursday, November 26, 2015

first Thanksgiving abroad: a zipper was involved

I spent my first Thanksgiving abroad while in a college program in Mexico. A bunch of us American college kids rode a van, a VW van of course because we were cool, to  another town to partake of the famous, and, for us, expensive Argentinian steakhouse. It was a very long drive but we were all spending our first major holiday away from home, all about 19 years old, and we wanted to do something special and food related. Every Mexican we knew said the Argentinian steaks were very special, worth the long drive, so off we went. 
I was high, very high, most of the time I was in Mexico so I am sure the food was very very good. The company, also all stoned. The only person I saw after I left Mexico was also from my home college. We were a bunch of American kids, primarily in Mexico to get high as much as we could. A long VW van ride for steak instead of turkey was funny enough, to all of us, to keep us laughing all the way there and all the way back the next day.
We had to camp out before going 'home'. I had a very bad cold and the couple who owned the van insisted I sleep in the van with them, for it was cold outside. I was very sick and accepted.

I don't remember the steaks or the meal. My main memory of that Thanksgiving was trying to sleep in that van when I heard one van-mate unzip a zipper. The zipper sounded very loud, given the circumstances. The couple evidently decided to just go to sleep, having heard how loud that unzipping has been. They did not rezip either.   I did not detect any further movement or noise besides their breathing and my wheezing. They apparently decided to stop spreading the love that night.

All in all, a great day. I can hear that loud zipper as I type. LOL.

an entire world of possibilities

As a matter of fact, people know little of what surrounds them on earth. How do they view life? The events of life as they unfold are strung on a thread, as it were. Some are considered to be causes, others effects, but beyond this little thought is given to the matter. It may sound strange that the actual things that happen form the smallest content of real life. They only represent the external content. There is yet another sphere of life apart from the things that happen, and this is of no less importance for life.
Let us take an example. A person is in the habit of leaving home punctually every morning at eight. He has a definite way to go, across a square. One day circumstances are such that he leaves three minutes later than usual. He now notices something strange on the square, under the colonnade where he used to walk every day. The roof of the colonnade has collapsed! Had he left at the accustomed time, the falling roof certainly would have killed him.
There are many such instances in life. We often find that had circumstances been different, this or that might have taken quite another course. We are protected from many dangers. Much of what could happen does not come to pass. In life we consider the external realities, not the inner possibilities. Yet these possibilities constantly lie concealed behind the actual events. The events of a particular day only constitute the external reality of life. Behind them lies an entire world of possibilities.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Life Between Death and Rebirth – XI – The Mission of Earthly Life as a Transitional Stage for the Beyond – Frankfurt, March 2, 1913

may the stars carry your sadness away


"May the stars carry your sadness away
May the flowers fill your heart with beauty
May hope forever wipe away your tears
And, above all, may silence make you strong."

~ Chief Dan George



Quote from: http://goo.gl/5Q9beb
Image credit: Photo taken through shop window in Santa Fe , NM, by Cherie Manifest. To see the true color and beauty of "Navajo Velvet" by R.C. Gorman v

my daughter

On holidays, I wonder
if my daughter ever thinks about me,
at least on major holidays.
is her mother, the giver of her life
okay on a holiday
or every day?

Does she have a single thought
of gratitude
for all I gave her
all the things upon which
her current life is built?
Does she even get
that I gave her the life she has now?
helped her achieve it
sacrificed for her to have it?
Does she silently, ever, thank me?

I don't think so.

Fourteen years
I struggle on holidays more each year
I hear a sonic boom tick tock, tick tock
time afleeting, only child lost to me.

Is she safe today?
happy? with loved ones?

What holes in her
allow her
to disown
her mother.

I have never been a drinker
Never a drug user
Never an abuser
Tick tock. Tick tock.
boom boom

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

a thanksgiving poem

A Thanksgiving prayer by Adam Zagajewski. His poem “Try to Praise the Mutilated World,” was published in The New Yorker after 9/11:
Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

(translated by Clare Cavanaugh)

wishing hoping giving up


here's one of my favorites

When I Met My Muse by William Stafford
I glanced at her and took my glasses
off--they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. "I am your own
way of looking at things," she said. "When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation." And I took her hand.

I lit up like this when beheld just so

This 'comic' comes from Dharma Comics Facebook page. She does such delightful work.

No one sees me these days, no one I am aware of.  I sometimes wish I had never felt the experience of feeling lit up everytime a certain someone looked at me, to have had that glimpse of heaven only to have it denied to me.  I try to focus on the fact that I had the experience but . . . I want more of feeling seen.  I don't think anyone sees me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

you are loved just for existing

You are loved just for being who you are, just for existing. You don't have to do anything to earn it. Your shortcomings, your lack of self-esteem, physical perfection, or social and economic success - none of that matters. No one can take this love away from you, and it will always be here.
--Ram Dass

some things cannot be fixed

Grief is brutally painful. It doesn't only occur when someone dies. It occurs when relationships fall apart, when oportunities are lost, when dreams die, when illnesses wreck you.
Some things in life cannot be fixed. they can only be carried.

I'm not strong enough


I wish I knew this then, at least I know it now


I resolve to treat others with the same tenderness as I held my newborn:  with reverent love.

to keep darkness at bay . . .


be you


Monday, November 23, 2015

be still until

This came from a FB page called StoryPeople by Brian Andreas

And this reminds me of a beloved Wendell Berry poem:
Willing to die
you give up your will
be still
until
moved by what moves all else
you move

sacred exhaustion

When your inner world is on fire and you are burning for resolution, it is tempting to conclude that something has gone wrong, that you have failed, that you are flawed, and that you are unworthy of love. The questions are surging, the longing is unbearable, and you are aching to find some relief.

You are exhausted, but this is no ordinary exhaustion. It is sacred. It is the end of one world and the beginning of another. Stay close.

In these moments, which may always arise in the heart of an open, sensitive human being, slow way down. Touch the earth, look up into the sky, listen to the song of the unseen. Dare to consider that things are not always as they appear.

Today may not be the day for answers, but to finally let your heart break open to the vastness of the question. You are not a project to be solved and you were never unhealed. With eyes wide open, see that you could never lose the way.

The unfolding of the heart is the work of a lifetime and there is no urgency on the path of love.
~ Matt Licata

I am unworthy of love and I wish I could click my heels together and go home.

we mingle within

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”
― Anaïs Nin

when we truly love people


unfuckwithable

unfuckwithable
(adj.) when you're truly at peace
and in touch with yourself, and
nothing anyone says or does
bothers you, and no negativity
or drama can touch you

if only I were unfuckwithable

"I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

I think someone named Angie Marx deserves credit for the above quote, which I love.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

love v. fear

It's been a tough few weeks here on Planet Earth. A lot of violence, a lot of suffering, a lot of sorrow and anger and reaction and revenge.
Beirut, Paris, Baghdad, Nigeria and now Mali. Attacks upon the innocent by the ignorant. The rise of bigotry and racism, not just towards foreign Muslims but towards American citizens who are Muslim and, maybe, speak Arabic at American airports.  The rise of Isis is not as much a threat to humanity as the rise of hate.  The desperate plight of refugees. Everywhere I look, I see tender-hearted people who are in pain, and hard-hearted people who are in rage. It's very hard to process, very hard to bear.

We see fear-based human movement happening across the world — namely, an impulse toward CLOSING EVERYTHING DOWN.

Close your borders.
Close your town.
Close your wallets.
Close your eyes.
Close your heart.
Close your mind.


This is what most humans do when we feel cornered and threatened. We close everything down. We do it on a global scale and we do it on a personal scale. We stop being who we really are; we are creatures of love. All too often, our love is the first thing to go when we feel overwhelmed. We start saying to our fellow man: "Your suffering is not my problem. I have enough problems. I don't have any space to understand, much less hold, your pain. I'm too busy with my own pain.  Goodbye." Or maybe even, in moments of high emotional charge, hurt or, what hurt really is, fear, "Fuck you." 

I've closed my heart to people, and I've had other people close their hearts to me. I've experienced the death of love from both sides — and it's painful for both sides. I certainly know this to be true: Anytime you shun another, you shun yourself, you shun that part of you that is love.

Love is our only truth. To fail to love is to choose fear instead of love. Love. Radical trust. Same thing. 

Love is hard because we must refuse to see the delusion that fear is ever real. Staying soft and open in a difficult world, staying in love instead of fear,  is hard. Forgiveness is hard.  Communication is hard. Empathy is hard. Compassion is hard.  This hard work is the work of love.

One of the great powers of the delusion of fear is we believe it is real. It is not. Only love is real.

These feel like soft words, but they are not soft, and they are not for amateurs. These words push you sometimes to very difficult and uncomfortable places in your mind and in your heart. These words challenge you. These words push you to think past your own needs and fears and emotions. These words force you to listen to people you don't want to love, and to be loving to everyone — sometimes to the point that it stretches your heart a few sizes larger. Sometimes to the point that you must make difficult sacrifices. These words make you suffer at times, because they feel so impossible to achieve. These words are the hardest work in the world, because the easiest thing in the world is exactly the opposite — to just shut yourself down.

Keep your hearts open, everyone. Don't give up on us, or on yourself, or on anybody. Keep your mercy alive.

iron fist velvet glove

"iron fist in a velvet glove," referring to a person who appears gentle but is determined and often inflexible underneath.  

I used to know a man who appeared gentle but had a vile temper and most definitely an iron fist. Of course when he used his velveted iron fist, and then I winced in painful reaction, he blamed me. Like most psychopaths do. and, fyi, psychopaths are common and not often violent, which is a mistaken image the word psychopath often evokes. They are people who use and manipulate others with no regard for the other's suffering under their charming, velvet covered emotional abuse. So 'iron fist in a velvet glove applies well to psychopaths. And sociopaths, who are just about as bad, although a psychopath seems more unconscious of their deviant behavior. It is deviant to misuse people and behave unkindly while occasionally posing as a friend.

I have a knack for sussing out psychopaths and buying their velvet glove act.

war on terror's only success


my brokenness


Friday, November 20, 2015

would you harbor me?


Sweet Honey in the Rock, an African American and all female music group.

This is sacred music.

were we made for these times?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.
- See more at: http://theunboundedspirit.com/we-were-made-for-these-times/…

whodathunkit?

Recently, I've been really into oatmeal. Organic, steel-cut, about 2/3 cup cooked, some dried berries (today it was dried wild blueberries), a sprinkle of coconut flakes, a few chopped walnuts, heavy on the cinnamon and yummy coconut milk.

I have been sugar free for so long, and with such discipline, that oatmeal this way is my idea of a decadent dessert.

I'm craving dried cranberries. It just occurred to me that this would most definitely be the time of year for crannies, eh?

For many long stretches when my daughter still lived with me and recognized me as her beloved mother, I often made her oatmeal for breakfast. I picked up my oatmeal habit from a college friend named Rachel, who had gone to a boarding school before college. Once Rachel talked about how her house mother would cajole her out of bed early enough to get to breakfast before class, saying "We want you to have something warm in your tummy to start the day." Rachel rubbed her tummy as she said it and she seemed so happy remembering that caring history of oatmeal.

Once, visiting Chicago when Rosie was also still living with me, still in h.s., on one of our many visits to Chicago, we stayed with my friend Martha. Martha was quite wealthy and she always offered to pay for everything when we visited. And I let her. Once in awhile, someone would refuse such offers from Martha, calling it charity. Martha would shrug and say "Do as you want. I'll buy you dinner (or breakfast) if you like, and you can pay if you like."  I always sensed that Martha's offer was genuine and kind and I liked the freebies, of course.

One morning, Martha, Rosie and I went out to breakfast at some place known in Chicago for its breakfasts. Now I have always loved eating out for breakfast. I got pancakes when eating breakfast out all of my life until recent years, when I got serious about managing my diabetes.  I resisted tight control of my diabetes but I have had good doctors who, when I voiced my resistance and/or discouragement, would remind me of potential complications like blindness, or a stroke that could leave me with a very poor quality of life and even a limb amputation.So I stopped going out for breakfast and I do protein, mostly, for breakfast.

That long ago breakfast with Rosie and Martha, locked into my pancake habit and not yet having developed diabetes, I suddenly had a strong craving for oatmeal. Martha was amazed. I think when she treated friends to meals, they tended to order fancy things. Then Martha ordered the oatmeal. I don't remember what Rosie had.  The oatmeal that morning was creamy and plain. I only added a bit of milk. And it was frigging awesome.

So I renewed my frequent habit of making oatmeal for Rosie before she boarded the bus to her suburban prep school. Until one day, as I stood in front of the stove checking to see if the oatmeal was ready, I said "Don't you just love oatmeal?  Isn't it a great way to start your day?" I was chirping happily. I was happy. Being with Rosie always gave me much happiness. But Rosie said, unkindly, even snarling, "No I don't love oatmeal. I hate it and I hate that you keep making it."

I don't think I ever made her oatmeal again.

And I see, only in long distance hindsight, that I backed away from oatmeal.

Well, oatmeal is back in my life, stronger than it has ever been. Who knew a healthy breakfast loaded with nutrition and soluble fiber that lowers bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol could be like a sweet dessert without sweetener?

Sure, I used to use some brown sugar. Now, I am convinced cinnamon is tastier than brown sugar.

And I most definitely will get some dried cranberries at TJ's tomorrow, after my farmers market run.

I guess folks with families and friends will be shopping for Thanksgiving.  I have spent Thanksgiving alone ever since Rosie dumped me. 

I take that back. Once when I still lived in Seattle, I asked everyone I talked to for weeks if they could include me in their holiday meal. Everyone said they were either traveling for the holiday or their meals were limited to family. One person said I could have Thanksgiving with her and her husband. It was boring. They were kind to have invited me but we didn't have anything to talk about, or so it seemed. Since that awkward holiday, I have ignored Thanksgiving.

So this year, cranberries in oatmeal will be my Thanksgiving thrill.  I'll do a Whole Foods food bar run the day before, get some turkey, carb-larded stuffing and fat gravy, as I do each year.  I'll be alone all day, lonely and longing for lost loves, new loves and old friends.

And sometimes next Thursday, I'll have an awesomely delicious bowl of oatmeal.

Say, next week would be the perfect time to experiment with chia seed gel banana bread with walnuts and applesauce, no gluten. Maybe some almond flour, since I have some in the house.  I made something with all these ingredients minus the almond flour. It was delicioius. It was soggy, evocative of bread pudding, which amused me since the only carbs were from bananas. I did not use applesauce with it. I find bananas plenty sweet. I ate it in small bowlfuls, with coconut milk on top. Also awesome.

Food is so much more interesting now that I eat healthfully. Since I don't do gluten, dairy or sugar, I keep learning about awesomely delicious things.














Chatty Cathy and Aunt Bea and harassing phone calls

Someone using an unidentifiable 925 area code places calls to me now and then. Whenever I answer, the caller hangs up so I don't pick up. This number called me at 6 a.m. a few days ago. I wondered if the anonymous phone harasser had read about my Chatty Cathy twenties and thought they might test my willingness to pick up at 6 a.m. I would pick up at 6 a.m. for anyone I know but never for a restricted number. I'm not that much of a chump. I texted that number and got a response, that they had dialed the wrong number. WTF are you and why is my number in you 925 phone?  Sure I could call that number in middle of the night, and yeah, 6 a.m. is middle of the night for me for I tend to stay up very late most days, like 3 or 4 a.m. or even later.

In law school, I was pals with a guy who hated law school as much as I did.  He had the good sense to drop out after our first year but, rigid thinker me, even though I hated law school, law students, legal arguments presented as legal reasoning and the sense of doom I had as I faced the prospect of being a lawyer, I trudged on.  I had only gone to law school because my dad bullied me into it, bullying me out of the doctoral program I wanted to do in Anthropology. I was going to write my first book about the primitive tribe high in the Andes I visited while studying in Colombia. For the dissertation, I envisioned living with that tribe for two years so I could write a thorough story of their culture.

Shoulda woulda coulda.  Hey reddit dirtbags. Doncha wish you had my number so you could harass me by phone instead of being limited to cyberstalking me?! 

Anyway, Wes, my law school buddy, and I didn't socialize in person, except during class hours at school. We each did what most first year laws do:  we studied every waking minute and only allowed ourselves some  phone calls for study breaks.

We were one another's support for that hellish, unhappy year.

I guess we stayed up late studying because we had a habit of talking to one another very late at night, like 1 a.m. and, sometimes, later.

Wes often joked to our classmates that I was a Channeler for Chatty Cathy. He would say "Call her up at 3 a.m., and even if she was sound asleep, she will be instantly awake and chattering away."  I knew Wes teased me good naturedly and I don't think I gave him any push back. He seemed to admire my chatty Cathy capacity. And I valued his friendship and support.  I was a little proud of the nickname. And I knew he loved being able to call me any time of the day or night, confident he would hear a friendly, caring connection.

Another law classmate, Mary, began to get threatening phone calls in the middle of the night. She was living alone, a couple blocks from me. She would call me when she got those calls, at 2 a.m., 3 a.m. This was before caller ID.  And I'd talk to her as long as she wanted to talk. She was frightened. Her plan was if her phone stalker turned up at her door, for in this long ago age, neither of our apartment buildings had security so anyone could just walk into our buildings and up the stairs, I could hang up and phone the police. She talked until she got tired. I once asked her why, when she had many close friends and she and I were not particularly close, she called me. She shrugged and said "I called you because I thought you would behave just as you did, that you wouldn't be angry that I had awakened you."

Fast forward to 2006, when I was the registrar for a five day residential event.  After that event, I struck up an email friendship with a guy I met there. We were never friends, as he once put it, just two people who met at a conference, but I thought we were friends, believed he was my friend. I imagine Chatty Cathy also naively trusted people to be friends. I am proud of how readily I trust other people. I am proud that people who know me trust that they can call me up at 3 a.m., as this conference guy did, and that people expect me to show them kindness and caring.

Speaking of late night phone calls, I tried to call conference guy late at night. Twice, I think.  Just as he had once called me at 3 a.m. because he was upset about some interaction between us, I made my two late night calls to him because I was upset. I also called late at night, once, because he was screening my calls for a couple days, I was upset and I trusted him to treat me as I had treated him when he awoke me from a sound sleep at 3 a.m. and I had been kind and caring.

He was infuriated and he didn't pick up my calls. He claimed the ring interfered with his work the following day, which, the one time I am thinking of, was a Saturday. What work?! I didn't understand why he was upset. He had once called me at 3 a.m. and I had responded to him just as I had to Mary and Wes back in law school. He began his call by apologizing for having called but, he went on to say, he was very anxious about something and wanted to talk to me. I spoke as soothingly and as caringly as I could. I said "I am glad you called if you were upset, I am happy to talk, the time doesn't matter."  I may not have said it but my actions were intended to convey "I care about you more than being awakened. Your call is my idea of friendship." Why would it be okay for him to call me when he was fretting about some exchange between us but when I called him late at night because I was fretting about some exchange between us, I had done something he considered utterly over the line.   I don't get it.  If he had not called me once at 3 a.m., maybe I wouldn't have done called him late at night. But he did.

Shortly after the retreat where we had met, he wrote to me that I reminded him of Aunt Bea.  I was stung. Insulted. Aunt Bea was a fat, asexual female whose entire life comprised of serving males without getting any romance, intimacy, love, sex, support for her own goals. True, true, she was fictional but she embodied a male fantasy of the all giving, safe and asexual woman.  Obviously being called Aunt Bea in 2006 stung me for here I am, in 2015, writing about it.

I don't want to be a channeler for Aunt Bea. I don't have anyone in my life to nurture these days, although I would be the all nurturing, devoted caregiver that Aunt Bea was if I had anyone to nurture. I am not asexual. I desire emotional and physical intimacy. And although I am eager to love and nurture a man who loves me, I want to also be loved and nurtured.  I know that not everyone wants this but many, if not most, do. And I am so not an Aunt Bea. And so not asexual. Do you catch that being compared to a fat, old asexual tv character insulted me?

Aunt Bea had once found a man she was in love with but he did not choose her. I am Aunt Bea, suffering from unrequited love. She never loved anyone else in that way and so she remained a spinster, conveniently available to selflessly tend to Andy and Opie, with no romance, no partnership intimacy and no sex.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

what's next? soylent green?!

The FDA just approved genetically modified salmon for human food.  Another reason to go vegetarian.  About the only animal protein I eat anymore is the occasional piece of wild salmon. With massive fish farms, which, no surprise, are sited in our oceans, lakes and rivers, the genetically altered fish can and will escape and mate with wild fish. Wild fish:  game gonna be over!

Think about massive chicken manufacturing, endless feedlots that cage beef cattle in tight boxes for their whole lives and massive pig manufacturing.

We're getting closer and closer to soylent green. 

Yuck.

the enemy is fear

The enemy is fear.  We think it is hate but it is fear.
~~ Gandhi

This is what A Course in Miracles says, although I don't think ACIM speaks of enemies. ACIM says there is only love and fear and fear is not real. Fear only has the power we give it. Love is real power that we all possess and can choose. We can choose not to fear.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

fear is path to dark side

Fear is the path
of the dark side.
Fear leads to anger.
Anger leads to hate.
Hate leads to suffering
~~ George Lucas wrote this for Yoda in Star Wars

from the sermon on the mount

just a couple snippets, the whole speech would blow you away. Find it and be blown.

"You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’  But now I tell you: do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you.”
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’  But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

hatred bounces

hatred bounces
~ e.e. cummings

short succinct good poem, eh?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

what happens when we aren't assholes


I'm starving for figs uneaten?

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”


Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

I'm starving for some figs. The fruit kind and the love kind.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Buddha, Mohammed, Christ


all we are saying is give peace a chance


I used to channel Chatty Cathy, now Aunt Bea

In law school, I was pals with a guy who hated law school as much as I did.  He had the good sense to drop out after our first year but, rigid thinker me, even though I hated law school, law students, legal arguments presented as legal reasoning and the sense of doom I had as I faced the prospect of being a lawyer, I trudged on.  I had only gone to law school because my dad bullied me into it, bullying me out of the doctoral program I wanted to do in Anthropology. I was going to write my first book about the primitive tribe high in the Andes I visited while studying in Colombia. For the dissertation, I envisioned living with that tribe for two years so I could write a thorough story of their culture.

Shoulda woulda coulda.

Anyway, Wes, my law school buddy, and I didn't socialize in person, except during class hours at school. We each did what most first year laws do:  we studied every waking minute and only allowed ourselves some brief phone calls.

We were one another's support for that hellish, unhappy year.

I guess we stayed up late studying because we had a habit of talking to one another very late at night, like 1 a.m.

Wes often joked to our classmates that I was a Channeler for Chatty Cathy. He would say "Call her up at 3 a.m., and even if she was sound asleep, she will be instantly awake and chattering away."  I knew Wes teased me good naturedly and I don't think I gave him any push back. He seemed to admire my chatty Cathy capacity. And I valued his friendship and support.  I was a little proud of the nickname.

Another law classmate, Mary, began to get threatening phone calls in the middle of the night. She was living alone, a couple blocks from me. She would call me when she got those calls, at 2 a.m., 3 a.m. This was before caller ID.  And I'd talk to her as long as she wanted to talk. She was frightened. Her plan was if her phone stalker turned up at her door, for in this long ago age, neither of our apartment buildings had security so anyone could just walk into our buildings and up the stairs, I could hang up and phone the police. She talked until she got tired. I asked her why, when she had many close friends and she and I were not particularly close, why she called me. She shrugged and said "I called you because I thought you would behave just as you did, that you wouldn't be angry that I had awakened you."

Fast forward to 2006, when I was the registrar for a five day residential event.  After that event, I struck up an email friendship with a guy I met there. We were never friends, as he once put it, just two people who met at a conference, but I thought we were friends, that he was my friend.

Speaking of late night phone calls, I tried to call him late at night. Twice, I think. He was infuriated and he didn't pick up my calls. He claimed the ring interfered with his work the following day, which, the one time I am thinking of, was a Saturday. What work?! I didn't understand why he was upset. He had once called me at 3 a.m. and I had responded to him just as I had to Mary and Wes back in law school. He began his call by apologizing for having called but, he went on to say, he was very anxious about something and wanted to talk to me. I spoke as soothingly and as caring as I could. I said "I am glad you called if you were upset, I am happy to talk, the time doesn't matter."  I may not have said it but my actions were intended to convey "I care about you more than being awakened. Your call is my idea of friendship." Why would it be okay for him to call me when he was fretting about some exchange between us but when I called him late at night because I was fretting about some exchange between us, I had done something he considered utterly over the line.   I don't get it.  If he had not called me once at 3 a.m., maybe I wouldn't have done called him late at night. But he did.

Shortly after that retreat, he wrote to me that I reminded him of Aunt Bea.  I was stung. Insulted. Aunt Bea was a fat, asexual female whose entire life comprised of serving males without getting any romance, intimacy, love, sex, support for her own goals. True, true, she was fictional but she embodied a male fantasy of the all giving, safe and asexual woman.  Obviously being called Aunt Bea in 2006 stung me for here I am, in 2015, writing about it.

I don't want to be a channeler for Aunt Bea. I don't have anyone in my life to nurture these days, although I would be the all nurturing, devoted caregiver that Aunt Bea was if I had anyone to nurture. I am not asexual. I desire emotional and physical intimacy. And although I am eager to love and nurture a man who loves me, I want to also be loved and nurtured.  I know that not everyone wants this but many, if not most, do. And I am so not an Aunt Bea. And so not asexual. Do you catch that being compared to a fat, old asexual tv character insulted me?

It pains me to say this but I am Aunt Bea, or similar to her. Aunt Bea had once found a man she was in love with but he did not choose her. She never loved anyone else in that way and so she remained a spinster, conveniently available to selflessly tend to Andy and Opie, with no romance, no partnership intimacy and no sex. She had love. Andy and Opie loved her.

I am never going to get over my lost love. My love did not love me but it feels like a real loss to me.  I am not going to get over the loss. . . I don't want to.  I have tried to will myself to just want to get over it but I am implacable. I wonder if the fictional Aunt Bea was implacable?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

another oldie but timely line

An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.
 Going to war, bombing fellow humans, because the terrorists conducting war  in the wake of the terrorism in Paris believe their terrorism is justified is just like an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. It's crazy.  Irrational. As I write this, I 'sound' like gobbledegook in my head because it is gobbledegook to think terrorism called war is in any way superior to any other form of violence against others.

where does it hurt? everywhere

written by Warsan Shire


an oldie but goodie


Peace love and profanity!


bomb bomb bomb Isis: irrationality strikes again

 (Note:  this essay is incomplete. I may return to it. I am saddened to read headlines that seem to cheer France for its acts of terrorism today. Let's stop pretending war is not terrorism, at least?)

Just saw that France is bombing the hell out of what they believe are ISIS sites.  We reap what we sow.  War is irrational, of course, and warmongers are irrational. No one rational can believe more violence is the answer to violence. This widespread mass delusion, which all sides of the terrorism spectrum buy into, is widespread mass delusion. Collective insanity.

One of my FB friends criticized my use of the sentence 'we reap what we sow'. He wrote, on his wall, that we should all be focussed on the dead and mourning them. I find myself wondering if this person is down with France's bombing as a proper form of mourning the dead, wondering if that person believes a country bombing another country is not terrorism.  We in America have been soaked in propaganda since forever, since this country's founding. Many in America believe all our wars are just. Many in America do not see that invading Afghanistan and then Iraq and then other places (I don't try to keep track) is some kind of an answer.

Another old saying comes to mind:  an eye for an eye will soon have the whole world blind. This world seems largely blind when countries think their terrorism is okay if they call it war.

I've long believed, and sometimes said to friends, that I think the only way to defeat terrorism is to create human cultures that are unconditionally loving. As an example:  give everyone modest housing and a modest monthly stipend, while also allowing those who choose to work for more to be able to do so. Give good, free educations to all. Universal free health care. And fund all of this by properly taxing corporations and the already rich, eliminating corporate write offs.

Make France and America wonderlands of love, safety and trust and 'the terrorists' won't be able to recuite suicide bombers because those lost recruits will want in on the love thing.

When I lived in the Seattle area, I often heard a quote attributed to Chief Seattle:   "I will fight no more war forever."

And now I am thinking of that Christian thinker, who many claim as their God, Jesus Christ. Didn't JC tell us to turn the other cheek when we are hurt by others, to offer only ulnconditional love to all?

One of my most memorable undergraduate classes was a three-trimester, interdisciplinary course called "Irrationality". Each trimester had a different them. Professors from many disciplines gave large group lectures. At my small liberal arts college, large group lectures outside of introductory science classes were unheard of. My university prided itself on very small classes. We heard lectures on the irrationality theme from history professors, political science professors, literature profs. And then we met in two small group discussions with the touted 10-12 students to one professor ratio (that's about how many students were in most of my classes).

I had only expected to take one trimester. It was my senior year, I had met all my requirements and I could take whatever I wanted (whatever didn't have prereqs I didn't have. .  ).  I was instantly mesmerized at the gift of contemplating irrationality, coming at it from all kinds of angles I had never, heretofore, considered. Truth told, I had never given irrationality a thought until my senior year in college.

Irrationality explains a whole lot.

And now I am reminded of a session with my marriage counselor, when I continued to see him after we quite marriage counseling. I stayed in therapy to get well enough to get out of the marriage.  Week after week, I would go in and recount the latest abuse I had been subjected to.  My ex was physically abusive but his emotional abuse was worse.


SIDEBAR, segue: In fact, I went to two different weekly support groups for battered women for almost three years, during my custody battle years, for support. I met a lot of battered women in those years, in those groups, and without exception, every single one of them said emotional abuse was worse than physical, that they'd rather be smacked around a bit than be subjected to relentless emotional abuse. 

So I would go into therapy, cry the entire fifty minutes and recount endless stories of abuse. Until one day my doctor, who saved my life and my child's life (for his testimony kept my ex from winning custody of her), said to me "You are trying to be rational with an irrational person."

Although I had not applied the possibility that there was irrationality in my marriage to my marital woes, I instantly knew my doctor was right. That year studying irrationality kicked in.

Hitler and millions of Germans, then other colluding countries, irrationally marched into creating the Holocaust.

I wonder what my FB friend thinks of France's 'mourning' their dead by engaging in terrorism. He didn't like my reminding people that we reap what we sow. Is he down with terrorism in response?

Whatever happened to turning the other cheek? Lots of loonie tunes in the world who call themselves Christians and too many such loonies hold political office these days. If professed Christians took Jesus Christ's call to be unconditionally loving at all times, to turn the other cheek in the face of injury and to nonjudgmentally forgive ourselves and others when we fail, I could get into Christianity.

What would it look like if France had chosen to turn the other cheek?  I'd like to live in a world where I could know what that would look like because that is what France chose to do.

We have to start seeing the West's warmongering as terrorism.

And doesn't the West look impotent when it goes to war for imaginary weapons of mass destruction or bombs believed ISIS strongholds?  Responding to the Paris terrorism by bombing ISIS strongholds is terrorism, will generate more terrorism and will not make the world safer.

There is no safety but love and radical trust.







willing feeling thinking

You spirit of my life,
guarding companion,
Be the goodness of heart in my willing,
Be human love in my feeling,
Be the light of truth in my thinking.

(Rudolf Steiner, trans. Robin Mitchell)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

ralph waldo on nature

"Nature always wears the colors of the spirit."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

spirit triumphant

"Spirit Triumphant! Flame through the weakness of faltering, fainthearted souls! Burn up egoism, kindle compassion, so that selflessness, the lifestream of humanity, may flow as the wellspring of spiritual rebirth!" — Rudolf Steiner
 

love, the ultimate change model

Love is the only way to rescue humanity from its ills.
Leo Tolstoy

love after love

LOVE AFTER LOVE
by California Nobel Prize winning poet Derek Walcott
LOVE AFTER LOVE
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
 

Paris: we reap what we sow

"This is an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share." —President Obama on the attacks in Paris

We reap what we sow, Barry.
I also feel empathy and sorrow for the 43 lives lost to terrorism in Beirut a day or two ago, a tragedy that does not fill our newsfeeds, perhaps because no white people died.

We reap what we sow.
I have much empathy for all that are suffering from the terror attacks in Paris. I am saddened that any humans would behave this way. Truly.

I also have empathy for the hundreds of thousands of refugees walking the earth with their babies and few belongings on their backs, with no home and few putatively civilized countries stepping up to help them, seeming to blame and punish victims of our regime change, and 'their' terrorism.

I am also saddened over the hundreds of thousands of lives that have been lost by America's, and its allies, wars around the world.  When a drone strike takes out a village of human beings, I can imagine the loved ones of that community that survive feeling the same shocked sadness that the world feels about Paris.

We have to stop sticking our heads in the sand, stop believing our pursuit of war is good and anyone else's pursuit is bad. All war is bad.

I can easily imagine American and its allies coming across as uninvited terrorists that murder, maim and destroy countries.  Maybe Paris is too fresh for most people to read my thoughts. I'm still reeling over the fact that we went to war against Iraq based on lies, murdered hundreds of thousands and we don't see the connection between our unjust wars and last night in Paris.

I am sickened that Amreeka, our president and so many other countries are blind to the fact that we are terrorists. If I lost an infant to an American attempt at regime change, a covert excuse to control oil and ower, I am sure I would see America's acts on the global stage as terrorism.

We reap what we sow. We are terrorists and we are attacked by terrorists.

Stop the madness.  Be love.

Friday, November 13, 2015

despair (unhappily, mine)

David Whyte posted his essay on despair this evening with a solemn photo of Paris. I imagine he posted it in empathy for the terrorist attacks in Paris. I am posting it, however, because it captures my present state of mind. I feel great sorrow for what has happened in Paris. And I am also sad that Americans happily ignore  that terrorists killed 43 people today in Beirut. Parisians matter more than the Lebanese?  Of course not. More despair for the world and I was already drowning in my own personal despair.  Let me out. Let me off.  I do not intend to continue this suffering. A friend is coming to visit at the holidays and I think that will be it for me.

DESPAIR
takes us in when we have nowhere else to go; when we feel the heart cannot break anymore, when our world or our loved ones disappear, when we feel we cannot be loved or do not deserve to be loved, when we stand helplessly as others are hurt, when our God disappoints, or when our body is carrying profound pain in a way that does not seem to go away.
Despair is a haven with its own temporary form of beauty and of self compassion, it is the invitation we accept when we want to remove ourselves from hurt. Despair, is a last protection. To disappear through despair, is to seek a temporary but necessary illusion, a place where we hope nothing can ever find us in the same way again.
Despair is a necessary and seasonal state of repair, a temporary healing absence, an internal physiological and psychological winter when our previous forms of participation in the world take a rest; it is a loss of horizon, it is the place we go when we do not want to be found in the same way anymore. We give up hope when certain particular wishes are no longer able to come true and despair is the time in which we both endure and heal, even when we have not yet found the new form of hope.
Despair is strangely, the last bastion of hope; the wish being, that if we cannot be found in the old way we cannot ever be touched or hurt in that way again. Despair is the sweet but illusory abstraction of leaving the body while still inhabiting it, so we can stop the body from feeling anymore. Despair is the place we go when we no longer want to make a home in the world and where we feel, with a beautifully cruel form of satisfaction, that we may never have deserved that home in the first place. Despair, strangely, has its own sense of achievement, and despair, even more strangely, needs despair to keep it alive.
Despair turns to depression and abstraction when we try to make it stay beyond its appointed season and start to shape our identity around its frozen disappointments. But despair can only stay beyond its appointed time through the forced artificiality of created distance, by abstracting ourselves from bodily feeling, by trapping ourselves in the disappointed mind, by convincing ourselves that the seasons have stopped and can never turn again, and perhaps, most simply and importantly, by refusing to let the body breathe by its self, fully and deeply. Despair is kept alive by freezing our sense of time and the rhythms of time; when we no longer feel imprisoned by time, and when the season is allowed to turn, despair cannot survive.
To keep despair alive we have to abstract and immobilize our bodies, our faculties of hearing, touch and smell, and keep the surrounding springtime of the world at a distance. Despair needs a certain tending, a reinforcing, and isolation, but the body left to itself will breathe, the ears will hear the first birdsong of morning or catch the leaves being touched by the wind in the trees, and the wind will blow away even the grayest cloud; will move even the most immovable season; the heart will continue to beat and the world, we realize, will never stop or go away.
The antidote to despair is not to be found in the brave attempt to cheer ourselves up with happy abstracts, but in paying a profound and courageous attention to the body and the breath, independent of our imprisoning thoughts and stories, even strangely, in paying attention to despair itself, and the way we hold it, and which we realize, was never ours to own and to hold in the first place. To see and experience despair fully in our body is to begin to see it as a necessary, seasonal visitation, and the first step in letting it have its own life, neither holding it nor moving it on before its time.
We take the first steps out of despair by taking on its full weight and coming fully to ground in our wish not to be here. We let our bodies and we let our world breathe again. In that place, strangely, despair cannot do anything but change into something else, into some other season, as it was meant to do, from the beginning. Despair is a difficult, beautiful necessary, a binding understanding between human beings caught in a fierce and difficult world where half of our experience is mediated by loss, but it is a season, a wave form passing through the body, not a prison surrounding us. A season left to itself will always move, however slowly, under its own patience, power and volition.
Refusing to despair about despair itself, we can let despair have its own natural life and take a first step onto the foundational ground of human compassion, the ability to see and understand and touch and even speak, the heartfelt grief or loss of another.
‘DESPAIR’ From CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.© David Whyte and Many Rivers Press 2015