Thursday, December 22, 2016

Children of Men

Children of Men was the best movie I saw in 2006.

The story is set in 2027, in a dystopian future. Human beings can no longer be conceived. As the film opens, we overhear a television news story reporting that the world's youngest human, age 18, had just been killed by an angry fan. The world's youngest human was superstar famous just for the simple fact of being the world's youngest human.

Spoiler alert. If you think you might see this movie and you don't want to know more, stop reading now.

Clive Owen is almost note-perfect in this film. All of the actors are great but he is exceptional. Clive used to be a radical activist, fighting injustice but now he is a burned out, bored civil servant, marking time. He is approached by his old girlfriend, Juliane Moore, with a special task for the resistance. He resists, initially, but he cannot resist seeing her again. He is asked to use his connections to arrange transit papers for a young woman. He gets the papers and then agrees to accompany the young woman on her journey. The young woman is pregnant, which is why she is special.

Stop and think about this for a moment: a miracle baby. A missile into the future. No human babies have been born in about 20 years as the movie opens so this pregnancy is an amazing miracle.

Clive never wields a weapon. He serves the young woman and the human future heroically.

The visuals in this movie are fantastic. Alfonso Cuarón creates a beautiful, ugly future.

My favorite scene comes close to the end of the film. A few factions are fighting over the pregnant woman, for various reasons. Lots of people would like to use her and her baby. The baby is born surrounded by armed violence. The revolution has begun! Clive and the mother keep trying to get to safety. Once the baby is born, they try to hide the baby but it is not possible to hide a crying baby. At one point, the mother, the baby and Clive are inside a building that is being shot at. Troops surge into the building, rising up the stairwell, guns ablazing. Bullets are whizzing past the miracle baby. Suddenly, the baby's cry can be heard. "Stop your fire! There's a baby." All the people in the building silently make a path for the mother and child to pass. Soldiers put down their weapons and make room for mother and child. As they leave the building, the soldiers outside the building also stop shooting and stand silently aside to make room for the mother, baby and hero to pass. The silence, the awe, the blissful reverence for the baby and the way all the fighting pauses is so beautiful. For a few moments, this viewer thought that all fighting would cease as more and more people learned about the baby.

The baby gets past the scene of the fighting. Mother, child and hero keep moving. As they move past the fighting, the gunfire starts up again. The moment of silent awe and reverence for the miracle of that baby evaporates. Back to slaughtering human beings.

The juxtaposition of the silent reverence for the baby and then the resumption of violence was my favorite moment in the movie. I think Cuaron got this just about right. Silent, beatific awe and then back to hurting our fellow humankind.

Various Portents by Alice Oswald

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 thickness 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,
Various crucifixes, all sorts of nightsky necklaces.
Many Wise Men remarking the irregular weather.

Many exile energies, many low-voiced followers,
Watchers of whisps 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.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

thinking feeling willing

This graphic recording, by Kelvy Bird, of a conversation about presencing, also known as Theory U by Otto Scharmer, sums up anthroposophy, in my opinion.

Anthroposophy sees the human as three fold:  thinking (mind), feeling (heart) and willing. Presencing is anthroposophy massaged into a tool for groups and organizations. And being.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

my daughter's first 'ho ho ho'

My daughter was six months old for her first Xmas and not quite talking but, like a parrot, she had a few phrases she knew.   I chattered to her all the time, and at Xmas time, I talked about Santa Claus, took her to see Santa, and talked him up some more. And I would wind down by saying "Santa Claus says ho ho ho, now you tell me what does Santa say?" And she would say 'ho ho'. Just the two hoes.  I tried and tried and tried to get her to add that third ho. I finally accepted her two ho ho response, reasoning that the third really was unnecessary, as she had, in her wisdom, clearly realized right off.

Monday, December 12, 2016

I miss this

I miss looking forward to spending time with people I love who love me back.  I have none of that in my life. None.

Today I remembered that a few months ago I met a recovering heroin addict. She was warm and kind to me. I told her about a bingo game at a funky Oakland theater. She said "That sounds like fun!" and I said "Yeah, but no fun to go alone." Then she said, bless her sober heart, "I'll go play bingo with you. Here's my number." Then she called her boyfriend over and said "We are going to go play bingo wit her at the Parkway. Doesn't that sound like fun?"

I didn't follow up because she is close in age to my daughter and her kindness, while warm and welcome, put me on guard. I was afraid going out with her would break even more of what is left o my heart. So I never went to bingo.

I really liked this young woman.  I told her about the two very high men who had approached me as I waited for a bus home at 24th & Broadway in Oakland (or was it Telegraph?). I had gone to a movie at the New Parkway theater.  I told her both of the very high men, who were so high they were swaying, literally, as they talked to me, had said they talked to me to warn me that I was surrounded by drug addicts. The street was busy with humans and it had not occurred to me that even some were using heroin.

The young recovering heroin addict said to me "when I was using, I never would have messed with you. Heroin addicts get very good at picking up on people's energy and your energy is strong. Those men weren't messing with you, they were doing just what they said, being a little protective of a woman alone who was clearly not part of the drug scene. I don't think any heroin addict would mess with you."

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Friday, November 25, 2016

questions of love. .

 [] = someone's interpolations, not mine

Questions of love are personal, intimate questions, from one person to another, that in every case require a new, a special, and an exclusively personal answer. But then [typically, two people today], having already thrown themselves together, having set no boundaries together, and being no longer able to differentiate, they no longer possess anything of their own. How can they on their own find the escape route that they have already blocked to that inner solitude?
They act from a source of mutual helplessness. If, with the best of intentions, they wish to avoid the convention that is approaching them (marriage, for example [or even friendship]) they find themselves in the clutches of another conventional solution, one less obvious, but just as deadly. Everything surrounding them, is--convention. There, where a dull mutuality, prematurely established, is the basis for living, every action is conventional. Every situation leading to such confusion has its convention, be it ever so unusual, that is, in the ordinary sense, immoral. Yes, even separation would be a conventional step, an impersonal, coincidental decision, a weak and fruitless decision. Whoever will seriously consider the question of love will find that, as with the question of death, difficult as it is, there is no enlightened answer, no solution, not the hint of a path has yet been found. ...
The responsibility that the difficult work of love demands of our evolvement overwhelms us; it is larger than life. We, as yet beginners, are not equal to it. If we persevere after all ... instead of losing ourselves to the frivolous and careless game behind which people have hidden themselves, not willing to face the most serious question of their being--then perhaps shall a small bit of progress be perceptible as well as some relief for those to come after us. That would be a great deal.
We are just now reaching the point where we can observe objectively and without judgment the relationship of one individual to a second one. Our attempts to live such a relationship are without a model. ...
This progress ... shall thoroughly change the love experience to the rebuilding of a relationship meant to be between two persons, no longer just between man and woman. And this more human love will be consummated, endlessly considerate and gentle, good and clear in its bonding and releasing; it shall resemble that love for which we must prepare painstakingly and with fervor, which will be comprised of two lonelinesses [or solitudes, or autonomous selves] protecting one another, setting limits, and acknowledging one another.
- Letters to a Young Poet (Letter 7, 14 May 1904, Rome). Joan M. Burnham, translator.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

thankful for all this, me and everyone

thanks by w.s.merwin

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is

W.S. Merwin, "Thanks" from Migration: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by W.S. Merwin.

thankful for fairness, virtue, kindness, more

don't let turkeys get you down

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ruby's conception

I have several nieces. One of them was conceived when my sister was on a date with a guy. Sis always characterized the sex as a rape and, being the feminazi my daughter often accused me of, I landed on the solidarity side of womanhood. I believed the sex act that resulted in my niece's conception had been rape. One of my brothers, who is closer to my sister than I, both of them being much younger than me so they grew up together, not with me, tried to convince me it was not rape but it was sex forced on my sister without a condom so rape, sis did go to a hotel room with the guy and was all about consenting to have sex until he couldn't show a condom -- I was off to college while my two youngest siblings were both still little kids. This brother once pointed out to me that sis may have called it date rape but she had willingly gone to a hotel room with the guy on a first date, a fairly universal signal that both parties are expecting sex. Sis, on the other hand, says she said no and no means no. And her no was largely based on the absence of condoms. When she said something like "No, if you don't have a condom, we won't be having sex" and then, she says, and I believe her, he forced sex on her.

Later when she turned up pregnant, the dirtbag actually said he might have more than one other kid in the woirld because his rape of my sister was not the first time he had unprotected sex with a woman against her will, as if a woman saying 'no', even it is comes with the tag 'no condom no sex' is not a no.

No is no.

So my niece was conceived in an act of violence, sex against my sister's will although, yes, sis had checked into a hotel room with the rapist/date.

Fast forward to when my niece was 10 or 11. I met sis and her family in the Midwest so sis and her husband could go to a job fair and I was the childcare. I was thrilled to spend the time with all of them, niece, new nephew, sister and new brother-in-law. The hotel had a pool. We went into the pool each day.  Niece has a memory a lot like mine. She talked to me, in that pool in Iowa, about things that had unfolded between us when she had been 3 or 4.

Once, while also babysitting her for about two weeks while her mom and first stepfather took a trip to Ireland, we went to my sis's first husband's 12 stall horse farm in New Jersey, where we had been told we could go. There was a pool. We used it. And niece-y noodle brought up that NJ swimming adventure, telling me that I had frightened her by leaving her on her own 'far' away from me.

It was a shallow pool, so it only came up to my waist. It was not a big pool. If my niece had experienced any trouble in the water, I could have been at her side in seconds. There was no chance she'd have drowned. I nudged her to stay on her own to help her overcome her fear in the water but I watched her like a hawk, saw every movement of each leg, each arm and even the look in her eyes.  I did not explain myself to the toddler. 1. I was an adult and she was a toddler but 2, and more importantly in my view, I hoped to set her free of her fear through action, not intellectualizing. Fear is irrational. Feeling safe in water is rational.

So fast forward to IA, she's 10 or maybe younger --  and I am doing the same thing with her little brother who was about two.  When she asked me why I gently nudged him to stay a bit away from me, I was doing just what I had done to her. That time, in IA, I explained to her that she had always been safe and her brother was safe. I never let either baby get more than a few feet from me, a distance I could have covered in an instant if either baby had experienced distress. Neither did. We were in the shallow side of that IA pool and my nephew was never more than a couple seconds away from my arms.

In that pool, wise and very smart, as all my blood kin seems to be, she said, very coyly and adorably, "You know, my mom has told me all about my dad so you can tell me everything you know about him."  I thought I heard a child longing to know about her missing,  mysterious, father.  When she said "I know all about him" I did not know if she knew he had forced sex on her mother when she was conceived and I was not going to tell her that story and that was pretty much all I knew about her father. I knew he did some work related to the legal profession but was not an attorney, that sis had met him at some fundraiser related to one of our brothers being a judge -- like a bar association fundraiser. Judges are politicians, eh? I gather niece's dad was very attractive.

When pregnant, sis often said "This is going to be a very beautiful baby, I am beautiful and the father of this baby is very handsome and very tall." Sis was right. All my nieces and my daughter are gorgeous women but my youngest niece, my sister's daughter, is unusually, exquisitely beautiful.

When sis returned to the hotel that day in IA, I told her how our smart Ruby had tried to trick me into saying something about her father. Sis said Ruby did not know he had raped my sister. Again, rape might be in the eye of the beholder here.

The father was an asshole. Only assholes insist on forcing sex if a woman says no to condom-free sex. And when she wouldn't abort, as he demanded (my ex also demanded I abort my daughter but she has sorta kinda aborted me instead, eh? and, wow, it hurt to think that last thought:  my kid has aborted me), the sperm donor for my niece, for we cannot refer to him as a father said "I am going to marry a good woman, not a whore like you, and we'll get the baby and raise it properly."  Nevermind that he was the asshole, the rapist, the violent offender. My sister was a whore for not being able to stop a man much bigger and stronger than her from having unprotected sex with her.

Now my niece is a junior in college. I have no relationship with her or her mother.  I believe they blame me for this breach of family bonds. I blame them.

wicked thoughts

I stumbled upon something about someone's life, something I believe they believe is utterly private. I hardly know this person. If I stumbled on this person's very active participation in the kink, fetish and BDSM (bondage, S&M), including hundreds of photos of this person:  strapped on a cross so this person can be, to use the vernacular of this subculture (but not how I would refer to sex) fuck the person in the ass while their feet and wrists are bolted to the cross. Or long, well written soliloquoys about one person getting, again to use the vernacular of the subculture, fucked by ten persons of the opposite sex within two hours. Or there is the photo that is very flattering revealing the person to be very attractive, accompanied by the question "If you want to fuck this person, this is what you need to do".

I've never explored fet-kink and I don't believe I ever will. At first, I was unsettled. The more I read about this one person, the more I gradually realized this person is very happy in the fetish/kink subculture.  I totally believe there is no one right way to show up. I am not in a position to judge and if the person seems happy fucking ten people in one evening, hey, be happy.

But this person used to treat me like dogshit on a shoe.  I had hoped we would become friends, but this person just wouldn't give me any sunshine. We had a mutual friend and I felt some jealousy because this mutual "friend" introduced this person to his family, shared his family holidays with this person, went to professional events with this person. This mutual friend works in same field as me but he never did anything with me, like he was also seeing me as dirt on his shoe but hiding it. What's wrong with me that I sniff out people who treat me as not good enough for them?

Anyway.  I'm not gonna do anything but every once in awhile, I have the evil thought that

dangerously unconscious

I met a guy, almost 11 years ago now. He and I have not talked, except for the time he abusively demanded I leave a public film screening that I had paid to attend, angrily denouncing me as I sat with colleagues and friends. If I had ever, although I never did, criticized this man in front of someone, especially colleauges and friends but virtually anyone, he would have becoe apoplectic in his rage.

This guy knew he had an anger issue. He once wrote to me, in an email, that he had decided the best way for him to deal with his anger was to just let himself be as angry as he was, to blow up abusively (he did not use that adverb) at anyone he felt angry towards. 

I have no idea how he behaved towards others, for he took care to never include me in his life, like I was the problem in our connection. I only know how he treated me: he is an abusive bully, or was, towards me.

I don't assign any blame to him for all the unhappiness I experienced relating to him intermittently over seven years. I have many wise, learned friends. One guy, who has been designated a Rinpoche by His Holiness the Dalai Lama himself, warned me to stop interacting with this man. This friend, Mark, the Rinpoche, is one of those little boys Nepalese monks (and monks living at His Holiness' home in India since he can't live in Nepal due to the Chinese) look for so they can bring them into the monastery and train them as soon as they are found.

When my friend Mark first visited Dharamasala, His Holiness' home in India, monks began to stream from all over the compound towards Mark, warmly greeting him, even embracing him as they exclaimed "We have been looking for you your whole life."

Mark was living in St. Paul when he was about six and asked his black Baptist father and stepmother to find him a meditatin teacher so I guess Mark was drawn to the same energy that those lead those monks to look for him.

Anyway, I consider Mark a wisely brilliant friend. He begged me to never speak to the man I began this essay with, the anger guy,  He said "Give me your word you will never speak to him again. This man is dangerously unconscious and you are vulnerable in relation to men. Do not trust him. He is dangerously unconscious."

And Marc is dangerously unconscious, I believe. So am I, although I might be a titch less unconscious now.  Just a titch.

I seem to be drawn to abusive bullies. Psychopaths. Mean people.  And I let them gaslight me so when I have problems with abusive bullies, when they blame me, I also blame me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

healing our shadow

Time to Heal Our Shadow ~ An Exercise for Our Times
Just one week post-election, the Southern Poverty Law Center, perhaps the best known organization for tracking hate groups and crimes, reported a huge spike in the number of hate incidents--some 400 reported in one week, many of them among school children.
The KKK and the American Nazi Party, who both enthusiastically endorsed Trump, are praising his appointments. These hate groups that once were widely considered unacceptable fringe organizations, are now celebrating a new day in the sun with new credibility. Donald Trump's win wasn't simply the Republican winning over the Democrat. Trump is no John McCain or Mit Romney.
I think what we're seeing these days is our collective shadow (in the Jungian sense of the term) come completely out into the open. The "shadow" of hatred and separateness is no longer hidden by any facade. Our collective conversation that used to say, at least on the surface, that we as a nation do not ascribe to racism, misogyny and xenophobia, now is saying, "The President does it so I can too." In fact, this is exactly what a little boy said to a little girl in the week after the election when he grabbed her vagina and sent her home from school traumatized.
Having all this out in the open isn't an altogether bad thing. What we won't see, we can't change. 15 years ago, on 9/11 when the towers came down, we became viscerally aware of the dangerous "Other." Back then, the Other was in a foreign land and we went to war to fight them there so they wouldn't come here. Now the Other has become us. The whole presidential campaign has given us permission to openly hate. Now the Other isn't Isis in our midst, it's the kid next door ripping hijabs off the heads of young girls. It's our neighbor painting "Trump Nation, Whites Only" on the church down the street. It's our uncle who used the N word in our presence for the first time.
If we're ever to heal this collective shadow of White America, a nation that was founded upon genocide and slavery, we can no longer blame anyone outside of ourselves for the dirty work of the Other. The Other hasn't just moved in next door, it's alive and well within each of us. As Elizabeth Kubler Ross often said, "We each have an inner Hitler and an inner Mother Theresa." The opportunity here is to learn compassion--and not just for the victims of bullies but even for the victimizers as well.
While some of us may wonder how the phenomenon of Trump could happen, viewed from the perspective of the white working class who have, more than most, felt their secure place in the world slipping away, Trump offered a heady taste of rebelliousness ("We don't have to be politically correct anymore!") and the reassurance that someone at the top would fix life to be more as it once was, a promise to take us back to simpler times when everyone knew their place in a hierarchical social structure without such a push to have all ethnicities, genders and gender orientations mingling on the same horizontal playing field.
According to a study released in 2015, there has been a steep rise in the death rate of less-educated, 45-54 year old, white working class people with no other groups in the US as affected, and no similar declines seen in other rich countries. It correlates with a rise in suicide and addiction issues among this group, with increasing financial stress and dimming future prospects being suspected as the underlying cause. By targeting such groups as Moslems, Mexicans and all people of color, Trump gave his followers some sense of being higher up on the hierarchical chain of power by keeping others lower down. Having a focus for anger and blame is a common way of making manageable a growing sense of feeling out of control.
What's more, as the world's weather is doing scary, horrible things we've never seen before and 97% of climate scientists agree that global warming is real--some even saying it's too late to reverse--it's understandable that many would find comfort in a political ideology that calls climate change a hoax.
What's happening now in our political arena is more than a simple Republican/Democrat divide. Republicans and Democrats alike have been looking on in horror as the new United States government increasingly resembles a White Nationalist hate group. These times are about owning who we have been, who we are in the darkest corners of our own hearts, and who we will choose to become.
There are many opportunities before us--such as the opportunity to actively participate in our society instead of allowing 20% of the electorate to bring the worst of us into power. Democrat or Republican, if you find yourself feeling that your country has been hijacked, make 2017 the year you commit to taking it back through your own involvement. It's not that hard to do. People in other developed countries seem to have no problem being far more informed on world affairs than Americans and in turning out to vote in large numbers.
There's also a choice here to learn compassion. Not sympathy or pity, but the willingness to understand the Other deeply enough that we can no longer maintain the illusion of being separate. Before fighting through all the challenging differences you may feel with family, coworkers, Facebook friends and neighbors, try this short healing exercise:
Take a moment to picture in your mind's eye whoever represents the Other to you. It may be a politician; it may be your neighbor or Facebook friend; it may be a family member who voted differently than you. It may be someone you'll soon be seeing over the holidays....
If you have judgments or outrage, you don't need to resolve these now. Simply put these feelings to the side so that in this moment you can see this individual through the eyes of Higher Spiritual Truth that recognizes how connected we all are. See this individual as a being worthy of love, as is every living being. Recognize the higher truth that withholding love from this being only harms you, and because we are all One, what harms you harms everyone.
Imagine how it feels to be this person. What do you imagine their fears are? What do you imagine wakes them up in the middle of the night? How do you imagine this person has felt unloved, inadequate or undeserving? What do you imagine they are inwardly crying out for? Let you heart break open in compassion for this person's pain and fear.
Now, from your heart, send the simplest of prayers: "I love and bless you." Even if your personality doesn't quite feel it, ask your Higher Self to transmit this prayer with sincerity. Love is the new paradigm of our times. It puts everything to right. It's the only way to take the wind out the sails of bullies whether we find them at the highest level of governing, or on the playground, or within our own hearts. "I love and bless you..." Say it to our politicians; say it to your neighbors; say it to the dark, shameful thoughts in your own mind. Just as we all have an inner saint, we also all have an inner bully. Take the wind out of its sails with love.
With love, only the highest can happen.

Monday, November 21, 2016

a katie kinda food story

Katie story: when she was about four, as she and I shopped at the St. Louis Park big Byerly's, which has 'coves' that kinda bend out from the regular up and down aisles. . we were in the back of the dairy department, which was a 'u' shaped cove off the main store, no one was in there but she and I and her pants fell down to her ankles. I quickly pulled them up in an instant and forgot all about it.

Then, in second grade, her teacher had all the children in the class write 'essays' daily to build writing skills. The kids usually interpreted the instruction to mean they had to write two sentences and Katie rarely wrote more than two. The teacher would give prompts, ask questions. And one day she asked "Write about your most embarassing moment"

Katie wrote "The time my pants fell down in a food store was my most embarrassing moment". The kids were all pretty smart about using the prompt to use more words. But Katie later told me she had wanted to write "grocery store" but she didn't know how to spell grocery so she wrote "food store".

I was charmed by her clever switch to the phrase 'food store' since she couldn't spell grocery but I was astonished to learn she had felt any chagrin about her little sweat pants falling down. Nobody saw but me and, um, I had seen her in every way one can see a kid.

anyway: thanks for reminding me how my kid switched food store for grocery store because at age 7, she could not spell the word grocery.

I thought she was brilliant then. I know she is brilliant now.

sweet pea, cakecup, purple polar bear

In too many ways, my daughter is trapped in amber, like ancient flies or spiders can be found in amber stones.  I know she is no my little sweet pea now. She is a full blown adult and has been for a long time. I never got to know her as she emerged into adulthood. She left me at age 19, which is not when Steiner considered a human being a full blown adult -- that doesn't happen until around age 28. Steiner saw human development in seven year phases. 28 is a big one.

I harbored hope, from her age 19 until she turned 29 that she might undergo a somewhat typical, according to STeiner, development and rethink choices she made when not yet fully formed.


And back when she was 16, 17, 18, she hated it when I used childhood pet names out loud. I think she hated them for exactly why I used them:   she was pulling away and I was trying to hold her, not hold on to her, but keep space open for my love for  her.

Now, I flounder. I feel foolish within myself, for I never use the pet name kitty kat out loud, or snickerdoodle or candy cane (a seasonal one!).

Grief:  love with no where to go.

Now when a long-ago pet name for my dearly loved daughter arises silently within me, I immediately catch myself, as if I am caught unawares and lose my breath for a few seconds. Only silently. Only not physical loss of breath. It is a loss of something, a loss of that innocent millisecond when I could still enjoy the words chini bolini and feel a loving bond with my daughter.

I think, of course, sometimes but not as much as one might imagine, of what it might be like to see her, maybe go to lunch with her when I am in Chicago or meet her somewhere in SF if she were to visit.  I cannot imagine such encounters. And I have tried to imagine them. I can't think of anything I might say. Every possibility that I consider, in these very brief and unhappy musings, seems wrong. How are you strikes me as loaded. Do you still dance seems loaded. Are you happy seems like the equivalent of throwing a lit match on a gasoline spill in a parking lot.

I don't think I had any Thanksgiving specific pet names for her. That stries me as so odd now. I had names for her related to everything, nothing and anything.

She was my purple polar bear when I scored, on ssuper duper clearaence, a down purple winter jacket, then scored even cheaper purple skin pants which were so much more stylish than snow pants but worked just as well. Of course we had a purple hat and gloves for that ensemble. My purple polar bear. Just one winter. She was my purple polar bear the year we spent a week way up north, just below the Canadian border, as family camp, from Xmas to New Year's in an environmental education center that brings school groups during the school year but occasionally had family camps.  It was fifty and sixty below the whole time. The building we stayed in we heated solely by a wood fire and not a big one. It was a large building. I was cold all the time and spent much time in bed under blankets with my illegal space heater blasting me in the face. I was, and remain, glad I had brought that heater, even though I knew it was forbidden.

Rock climbing wall in doors. I did the bileting for her.

My favorite moment of that trip was on the drive home. I wanted to see Goosebeerry Falls in deepest winter. So we pulled into Gooseberry State Park and we were the only car we saw the short time we were there. We decided to keep the car running, so it would be warm after we walked to where we could see the falls.

It was so cold. So fucking freezing cold. We hopped on our feet, the ground so cold that we just hopped instinctively. We waited our arms, squealed, jumped up and down to keep warm.

The falls were frozen as they jetted out from the earth to cascade down to Lake Superior/ We only glanced quickly It was way fucking cold.

It was cold but it was warm.  I was filled with the warmth and joy of her, of loving her and feeling lilke I had just given her something special, that frigid, detour of a glimpse of Gooseberry Falls, a place we saw in summer.

I've been thinking, lately, of camping with her. I wonder if she remembers camping, if she liked it. I have no idea if she liked anything about me or that she did with me. When did she start pretending to be my loving daughter?  She stopped long before she left. But when? And why?

My dear little sweet pea could not have left me. It was someone else. Now I am thinking of "Where the Wild Things Are". A little boy gets angry with his mother, she sends him to his room to chill out and he needs some time to stop being so angry. He huffs. He puffs, He yells angry words. Monsters come out and play. He feels better.

He says to his mother, still angry but mellowing, "I'll eat you up I love you so."

Katie. Katie. Katie. Your shunning is eating me alive, like a monster tape worm inside my body munching along, devouring me of sunlight, joy, love.

Will you think of me on Thanksgiving? Don't you ever wonder who I spend holidays with?  I'll tell you. I am always alone. At first, afer you left me, I couldn't bear to be near anyone on a holiday. From before Thanksgiving through Feast of Three Kings in an, I held msyelf tight, lilke fragile crystal  that would break if I moved.   I didn't talk to anyone, other than store cashiers.  I was all wound, unfit.

Now I am still too much wound and I am not sure I can handle a holiday around others but now I'd like to try. I have painted myself into a corner, into isolation so deep.  So many images of frost, cold, frigidity are wafting through me.  I just imagined myself seated at a table full of lovely people and their children and grandchildren and suddenly they all froze, in my ind, and then shattered like broken glass, like I imagine a high pitched sound can break fine crystal.

I am shattered like that.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

irrationality is alive and well

I read the post about Ms. Karega's firing by Oberlin as well as the story Fred shared of a Jewish Oberlin Professor receiving an anti-semitic note on his front door. If one reads the entire article about Ms. Karega, one can read the opinion of a college professor with expertise in the professional, ethical oath that became the basis of firing Ms. Karega. The expert says Oberlin misused the ethics oath.

I allude to Ms. Karega's firing because the person who posted the Karega story included the line that the Karega story was 'possibly related possibly not'. Such a comment, imho, demonstrates the very real danger we all seem to have slid into. The Karega story asserts that Ms. Karega failed as a professor because she made statements not rooted in fact and the article is written without any exploration of how we know what is fact and what is not. One commenter, perhaps in the comments below one of the stories, I am fuzzy where I read it and I just read this material within the last ten minutes. The article about Ms. Karega is written as if what is fact and what is not fact is always and easily knowable. Anyone who believes that has never gone to law school, never written a legal brief, esp. an appellate brief. Facts actually are very mutable, as much in the eye of the beholder as beauty. I do not believe Ms. Karega was fired because she made mistaken statements of fact anymore than I believe the Oberlin Jewish professor experienced the anti-semitic act on his front porch, his home!, for godness sake for some clearly defined factual reason.

Irrationality is alive and well. Trump, deliberately, gravely and tragically, used irrationality to get elected and he is using it now to keep people inflamed. Instead of focussing on hate crimes and challenging a professor who seems to have trusted she possessed academic freedom only to discover she did not (is that a fact? and who determines what is factual about what she believed when she offended some with some FB posts?), we have to uplift, to focus on our own positive aspirations for ourselves, our families (those who have them), our communities, our country, our world. We have to keep our eyes on the prize of justice and we have to do so at the very time when dark emotionally but intelligent and skilled mass manipulators like Trump (not for nothing did he star in a reality tv show for fifteen years!, making him far more skillful at leading us into a totalitarian state than Hitler was).

Trump is filling his administration with, so far, men with smaller, pettier visions, I believe (and I cannot prove what I just wrote is factual). Or is he? Has the conservative movement and the Koch Brothers and creeps like Governor Scott Walker of WI (I cannot prove Walker is a creep, that is a judgment, not a fact!).

I begin to consider that thousands of dormant cells, made up of millions but lead by core, highly disciplined and highly propagandized (not for nothing do our conservative SCourt justice go to conservative retreats so they can find out what they are expected to do! -- there you see, another opinion, not a fact. . .

What I am very troubled about, after hearing about the anti-semitic act at Oberlin and the professor who is alleged (how does one prove opinions are facts? how to distinguish fact from opinion and when did college professors lose the academic freedom to blur their beliefs with facts?) what I am taking away is that we don't know what the truth is. We have been simmered in propaganda, lies, half truths . . . even the Dem nominee admitted, in private to Wall Street, that she had public opinions and private ones, public plans and private plans --- so she was untrustworthy and we could not trust that she did not speak with the good old forked tongue.

It's a little too easy to fire a non-white college professor based on, imho, specious claims that she made a few statements that were not irrefutably proven facts. Who doesn't make statements that are not irrefutably proven facts?

Deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole we slide.

The anti-semitic act on the front door, the home, of a Jewish Oberlin professor is unconsionable, and, perhaps thoughtlessly, evil. But the story of Ms. Kerega being fired, accompnaied by hallie's note that the anti=semitic note on a professor's home front door is possibly, and possibly not, related to the choice of one individual to act out an antisemitic hate crime has me crying hard.

I have read the Karega article several times. I am grateful for the comments, buried way near the end, by a professor who is considered an expert in the ethics pledge Oberlin and, apparently, many colleges and universities ask professors to take. An Ethics pledge is guidelines, not intended to be a framework to use to fire someone for violating, in some persons' opinions, some ethics.

And what ethics is she alleged to have violated? It is claimed, with no real substantiation, at least none offered in the article, that she made some statements that were not factual. Anyone that believes it is easy and clear to know when one is voicing facts and when one is voicing opinions has never been to law school. Entire legal cases, major and ones with profound impact on our entire country, can come down to findings of fact. Juries are impaneled to find facts. Judges are tasked to decide which, among different interpretations of fact, different opinions about which facts are relevant and often very substantial evidence. Firing someone for making some statements that SOME decided were not factual on FB and not in her professional life as a professor . . . . I don't think heightened sensitivity about anti-semitism justifies choosing to interpret facts in order to fire Ms. Koreaga is right.

Go to law school, work on some appellate briefs and then tell me it is easy, for it is not, to decide what is a fact and what is not. It is easy to decide one plus one equals two but most facts are not so readily ascertained.

What strikes me painfully, and why I am crying, hard, as I write is that rich, powerful men (and it has been mostly men, sorry to all the good men I know) have invested decades learning how to ever more skillfully keep most of us from being able to know what is fact.

Our president elect cannot be trusted to disclose any facts to us. So far, none of the men (and it is mostly men so far, eh?) seem troubled by facts. Our designated next Attorney General just cooly declared that a man grabbing a woman's pussy without the woman's permission is not sexual assault: we can't trust that man to define facts for us. Bannon, isn't that the name of the Breitbart white supremacist, does anyone reading this trust him to speak only with objective, irrefutable facts?

Facts are not really black and white.

In my senior year of college, having completely all my two majors requirements, I took advantage of a new program at my undergrad. My college prided itself on very small classes, like 12 students for one faculty. Only a few intro science courses uses large lectures and then small labs as a teaching format. The only large lecture hall in my small 'little ivy' (a school not unlike Oberlin!) was in the science hall. So when a bunch of humanities professors decided to offer a series of courses, one each trimester (we had ten-week trimesters, like Stanford does!) on "irrationality" with the many collaborating professors offering large group lectures from within their areas of expertise, I took the first trimester on irrationality.

It won't surprise many that we talked about the irrationality of the Holocaust in that first trimester. I signed up for my small group discussion with a professor I had really loved but, since he taught history, I had only taken one intro history course with him (distributive requirement, that intro history class

hmmmm. . .

"The emergence of the self is always a terrible defeat for the ego." 
~~ C. G. Jung

Saturday, November 19, 2016

kindness at the farmers market

I always take my Versacart to the market. It is not small and I often have to wait for people to move along so I can access all the stalls I want to access.   I never mind waiting and, usually, once people notice I am waiting, they hurry to get out of the way. I wish people did not feel that urge to rush out of my way I wish people might trust that we are all kind, good people and a few moments pause is not an inconvenient, but a gift. The gift of kindness.

Today, in one large organice produce stand, one I usually buy spinach at but today I did not need spinach. I picked one red onion and then rolled towards the check out. A woman, also with a cart, was standing in front of some produce. I asked "Are you in line?"  I was in no hurry. If she was in line, I wanted to know so I could position myself behind her.

Instead, she began to profusely apologize, telling me she wasn't in line and she was sorry to be in my way.

There was no line if she wasn't in line. Her position had not harmed me I had asked if she was in line only to be sure I did not go around her and cut in front of her.

She said "I'm thinking."  I said "I know what you mean.  I always have to stop at the market seeveral times and think about my food plans for the comiong week." Then I rolled around her and paid.

In the meantime, she had made her decisions and also approached one of the money collectors (who also weight food). When I was done, a few moments before her, her cart kept me from leaving. A produce assistant saw I was boxed in and anxiously clalled out to the woman to move her cart.
No no, I said, resisting a maternal urge to tell the very young guy to hush. I said 'She
ll be done in a few seconds, I can wait I can be kind."

The young man seemed startled so I went on. I said "In these days post Trump, the need for kindness seems to be more important than ever." then after a pause, I added, "If you are a Trump suporter, I did not meant to criticize that."  and he said something that is lingering with me, saddening me.

He said "I don't care about any of it. Who is president or who is anything doen't matter to me."

Then I really had to exercise kindness, or self restraint.  For a guy, maybe 20, to not care, not even about kindness, seems so sad.  So, feeling a titch of tension I said "Well, I care about everything and today as I left for the market I decided I would be kind to everyone.  What kind of a world would we be living in without human kindness"

I think my sermonette was lost on the kid.

He had ordered that other woman with a shopping cart to move it. It took her longer to move it out of my way than it would have taken her to finish paying and just move on.

Kindness. It's what's for snack.

it really rained today in Berkeley

This was a CA down pour, although I have been in other soakers that were more of a downpour.

In Bogota, Colombia, when I lived there in 1972 and 1973, virtually every afternoon, around 4 to 5 p.m. there would be a downpour, an unbelievably dense dousing of water. It wouldn't last long but if you were caught in it for just a few moments, you were soaked to the skin. So all the Americans wore heavy ruanas, the Colombian equivalent of the Mexican poncho. Those ruanas were very thick, heavy wool, much thicker than things I had bought in Mexico.

They were considered uncool by the Colombians but we gringas understood why the ruana had existed for, like, ever:  it was so thick that it kept you completely dry, except your head, which one covered with sensible hats.

I had been warned that it rained a lot before I left for Colombia. I bought a perky, slate blue raincoat, fitted, with a belt, flat-felled seams. Expensive. Styling. And useless in those downpours.

Today's rain in Berkeley was nothing like a Bogotano downpour but I walked in the rain long enough to get soaked everywhere but my feet. Thanks for my friend Peggy's birthday gift a couple years ago of waterproof sports shoes, my feet remained toasty dry. Everything else:  wet. My rain jacket has an excellent hood but my hair still got some wet.

And my little Versacart has a hood for rainy days that I've never used before. It works beautifully. It hs pieces of velcro positioned in the right places, so I could keep everything in the cart dry and eep the lid from blowing up in the wind. That cart cover, however, got soaked, with rain pooling up quickly.

It is rare to be out in what amounts to a soaker in N. CA. I feel alive. Cold. Damp. And alive. A hot showeer coming up next.

I had intended to go hear a talk at SFSU this afternoon. And I am up for the travel to get there, just BART and then a Muni train, so fairly dry trip. But I'm running out of gas. It was fun trudging around in the rain, running my errands* but it was more work than usually. Wind blowing hard, rain slowing me down.

I did buy the largest jar ACE sells to start my first batch of kombucha. Now I need a scoby, which a friend has said he'll give me when we can connect for the handoff. He just lives in the next block. Soon.  I think kombucha batches need a couple weeks. I'm starting out with a lemony tea kombucha.

And if the free scoby doesn't appear, I'll just buy some. But it will appear.

And then, probiotics in my gut. I eat lots of probiotic food. I love kombucha but it is spendy. Making it at home is affordable.

ACE hardware charges a lot more for anything I buy there. I like to patronize the one real hardware store downtown but it is hard to see their price gouging. I suppose their rent is high but, geez, I paid $13 for a jar that I could have boguth for $7 most places. I bought this one cause I am eager to be drinking kombucha. But every time I go there, I feel price gouged. And it's not just the new location because their prices were always price gouging at the old location.

Rambling. Naptime.

Friday, November 18, 2016

suicide isn't that easy

I have made several attempts. Drugs are not a guaranteed way out. I have spent countless hours surfing the internet to learn about suicide by massive insulin overdoses. And coumadin seems lilke it should be deadly.

I don't want to be alive. This is not about Trump, although the threats he poses to my tiny patch of survival is stressful. This is about my only child abandoning me. I can't have any value if I have no value to her. I gave her the very best I had in me. I made great sacrifices for her so she could be strong and have a great life, which I believe she does.

I just never, ever, imagined she could be happy while shunning me and lying about me to her life, telling people I a severely mentally ill. I have no mental illness -- one thing having shrinks is useful to have. I can prove no professional thinks I have a mental illness.

I don't want to wake up. I do't want to think. I am too sick to make friends and I can't stand being alone all the time anymore.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

so this upset me

Within the past day or two, I could not remember my phone number. Not. At. All.  It was so weird and also frightening. Alzheimer's setting in or stress unbalancing me?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

"I know everyone thinks I am much younger than I am," she said. She had just learned that her husband had planned a huge sixtieth birthday surprise party, inviting everyone she knows.

She is in her second masters program, committing the mistake countless women do, the mistake of getting more and more education as if that will, somehow, cure the discrimination against women that has kept her from finding whatever level of success she believes she deserves.

And she absolutely believes that she passes for forty.

Loving her, I listened. It took a bit of effort to avoid saying "Honey, you look like a woman pushing sixty who dyes her hair blonde. You don't look forty." I just made sympathetic sounds.

She is upset because now, she says, everyone will know she is sixty but in yet another grad program. Geez, I had thought, as soon as she told me she was enrolling in another masteres program and not yet going for a doctorate, that she was old to be doing more masters.

An African friend of hers in her latest program, a thirty-soething Nigerian with three children and a rich lawyer husband, asked her, at her recent wedding to husband number five, if they would be having children. This confirmed to her that she looks young enough to have kids.

No she doesn't. The Nigerian, where the average life span spins out in the late forties, doesn't see white, middle class Americans clearly. The Nigerian asked if she was planning to have children because to a Nigerian, sixty here looks younger than it looks in Nigeria.

The woman about to turn sixty was married to a Nigerian for a few years. He was in his late thirties to her, then, early fifties. She believed then that she looked much younger.

Another friend of mine, one year younger than me, recently posted a meme on FB that asks "do you look at other people your age and tell yourself they look a lot older than you?" then, the meme goes on, you are in denial. You look about the same age.  I wanted to send that FB post to the woman who seriously believes she looks forty just as she turns sixty.

I did not have the nerve to say this to my friend turning sixty. I have long known of her folly, her unwarranted belief that she looks much younger than she actually is. I've never said anything because why bother.

She has crow's feet, frown lines and gray hair that she dyes blonde. She seems to very sincerely believe no one sees her crow's fee, her brown lines or the obvious fact that she dyes her hair.

Seriously, the sixtieth birthday surprise party does not change what she looks like.

I am very afraid

I am disabled, unable to work. I can seem okay but I am only okay when my only job is to take care of myself. And even that job is getting harder for me to do.  It is painful to do anything so housework is hard, doing laundry seems physically daunting. Putting clothes in a machine, taking them out and into another, then taking them out again used to seem like nothing. Now it is painful and I experience a lot of emotional shame over my aches and slowness. My county social services has just approved me for publicly funded household help to do laundry and cleaning.  I'm on the downhill slope and soon I won't have money for insulin. This sickens me.

I am on disability and Medicare. I am a type one diabetic. I haven't worked since 1993. At age 63, I am not going to magically become hirable and able to pay rent and, most on my mind, pay for my insulin. If Medicare is wiped out, how will I pay for my insulin?

I've been reflecting on how I lost about 80 pounds in the years leading to my realization that I am type one. Not using insulin during those years, even though I needed it and my lah-di-dah Stanford doc should have realized it, I lost a lot of weight. And I vomited every day at least once a day, often more.  I vomited so much that it became normal. I would plan my days around vomiting.

Not having insulin will get me back to vomiting, I'll lose weight again and get thin -- and maybe even desirable to men, for a while. I will soon die. Without insulin, a person cannot live. And it is an ugly, unplesant way to go.

I have no family who might help me. And insulin is quite expensive anyway. As is housing.

I don't have it in me to survive on the streets, homeless, but the average life span for someone with type one not on insulin is a year.

I'm ready to check out right now. Seriously.  I don't like having no family. The absolutely one thing I just never, ver saw coming was being shunned by my only child. I gave her everything. I have several problems in my life these days because of choices I made to deliver her to the future with a great education and a healthy ego. I apparently achieved that goal but I did not teacher her to be loving.

I would die in a storefront, barfing all the way, before I'd ask her for help. I haven't asked anything of her in fifteen years but a tiny tether of connection and she denies me that.

Suicide is not easy. I know. I have tried many times. It is hard to do it with drugs.

An overdose of insulin might do it but it might leave me even more disabled, partially paralyzed, drooling, even partially brain dead . . . but alive to know of my horror.

And overdose of coumadin seems like a sure way to go but it isn't.

A gun. But if I don't shoot myself just right, I could leave myself worse off.

The Golden Gate. They say they are building a suicide barrier but they haven't. or a train, throw myself in fronto of one.

Or, as I am likely to die is Paul Ryan wipes our disability, Medicare and Medicaid:  I'll die vomiting, starving and vominting more. It will be a lot like being pregnant but with no happy ending. Well, an end to my suffering, that has an appeal.

I know I'm old when in SF hipster areas

As I trudge down streets with endlessly interesting-looking restaurants and bars, the sidewalks often crowded with humans that skew young, I think "SF is a city for the young. I don't belong here."  I also think "I never lived as many in SF seem to do, going out to eat all the time, going to bars all the time." Well, I never really went to bars. I did eat out a couple times a week when my daughter grew up with me.  I imagine Minneapolis had tons of restaurants but we mostly went to Chez Bananas for their jalapeno corn bread and Great Wall, she for the mandarin chicken, me for the kung pao shrimp. That was our rotation, with a very occasionaly detour for sushi, which is spendy.

I walked for several blocks along 2nd street on Monday, south of Market so, I guess, SOMA. Nobody selling stuff. Every retail space seemed full of very appealing restaurants, ethnic foods from everywhere. I sensed that I could have popped into any restaurant and I don't think of that stretch of SF as particlarly hip but, then again, I am unfamiliar with the many high rises and rising high rises full of high income techies.

I guess high income somebodies, including tourists with travel budgets to blow, keep these places open.

On my way home, I trekked back on 9th St, hoping it was not too late to get a salad at this great and, compared to Berkeley, inexpensive salad place. For a buck extra, you can specifify organic greens and get a salad so large I can't eat it in one setting.  I have to push greens, as part of my coumadin management. If I don't eat lots of greens, my coumadin gets dangerously high but I get lazy. I don't take the time to dress salads so they are yummy. I mostly braise spinach or I pulverize kale (with ginger, lemon, apple, cinnamon) for a raw green smoothie. So these gigantic, affordable (yikes, the same salad would be $15 and up over here in East Bay) . . but, alas, it was late and the salad joint closed, catering to workers.

I did not spend my twenties bar and restaurant hopping, looking to meet guys. I went to law school, married and raised my baby. We ate out but not more than a few times a year. I cooked then.

I'm too old for SF and too poor to go where I might fit in better. Although, of course, I live in Berkeley. Berkeley is doing its best to rush new trendy restaurants, rush high rises, bring in the high income techies but Berkeley just elected a whole new ball game in town. We no longer have the conservative voting majority ruled by our nasty departing mayor. We have a new progressive mayor and a progressive majority on the council.

The college kids cramming into every corner of Berkeley don't unsettle me. It's the twenty and thirty somethines, trudging up and down the streets of SF, bar hopping, eating out expensive meals, seemingly all the time. Criminy, over in SF, I sometimes pop into a place, thinking I'll pick something up to go and eat it after BART brings me home but there is always a long line, even for the simplest things.  I suppose long lines good for businesses but it's life lived at a scale I have never lived and I am too old to start.

I am not going to stand in line for half an hour to order a couple tacos.

this is my superpower

a world free of cockroaches

Growing up in a very white world on Chicago's South Side, and the South Side was very likely mostly black but I lived in an island of white. the North Side was nearly all white and South Side looked down on by North Siders. But I grew up in a white world. Now in my personal family, we were strictly forbidden to use the 'n' word, to denigrate blacks but I hung out in the homes of friends and steadily heard otherwise decent white adults speak casually and very racistly. I was shocked to hear adults I knew and liked speak about blacks as they did but I also, instinctively, never mentioned it -- not to my parents, fearful they would forbid me to go to such homes and not to my friends, not wanting to lose their friendships.

Then as I became an adult, I still occasionally, but less so because I have always hung out with very liberal humans, heard private conversations with whites that casually spoke of blacks with the 'n' word. I didn't always but I eventually learned to ask people not to talk to me as they did, not to voice racism to me. I did shake lose some 'friends'.  I'm not sure when I crossed the line, when no one in my world ever used racist language in my hearing but I did cross that line.

I have never believed, however, that racism was over, just that I no longer heard it. I have always believed pockets of white people, especially those who didn't go to college or are just not very intelligent, have maintained their racist views. Believing such views had, somehow, evaporated, is like believing the world can be rid of cockroaches.

My ex-husband, not a particularly nice guy and, but I was so naive when I married him that I didn't see this in him, a Republican. Geez, I had grown so accustomed to assuming 'everyone I knew' was liberal that I married a red=neck from very red NE. This guy has served on the state'

living in Mexico with a bitch

I spent a semester studying in Guanajuato, Mexico in 1972, in a program from my home university. There were about 20 of us Americans but I lived with and hung out with (we smoked more weed than you'd believe if I told you how much) bought the Mexican edition of Time magazine every week. She was so ethnocentric, she just had to have some 'real' news. Mexi papers not good enough for her. Oh, and we split the price since, she reasoned, we both read it. But she always insisted on reading it first and then, I swear to god and this still pisses me off, she underlined the important sentences to be sure I would understand what was important. When I objected, she refused to stop her highlighting. So then I refused to pay for half. I said she had to either let me read it first or stop the underlining. Boo hoo. She didn't like to read mags after someone else had and no way, she insisted, would she stop my education with her underlining. So I stopped paying for half. She still let me read it, still underlined, but it didn't chafe as much when the underlining condescending was free.

I swear she'd get out early on the day each week that Time magazine appeared in Guanajuato.

Another great thing that fall: it was the first time 18 year olds got to vote. I was 19, it was my first time voting and it was Nixon/Mcgovern. Back home in Chicago, my dad worked for the city and was a precinct captain for the Dem machine. he worried that the machine watched the votes coming from his address so he had made sure I got an absentee ballot months in advance of my trip to Mexico, which began in August. No other American in the program had thought to request an absentee ballot, all were envious that I got to vote. My underlining 'friend' actually suggested I could poll all the American students and cast my votes based on a majority of what they wanted. She also begged me to vote as she wanted me to. I was never sure my absentee ballot counted. The rules for absentee ballots iin Chicago limited the time frame within which I could mail it and the mail from Mexi to Chicago was super slow. The rules were written as if all absentee ballots cast in the states, not from abroad. I had to get it notarized, too, and the Mexican lawyer who notarized it for me price gouged me. I was naive and pay about $25 to have it notarized, learning later the bank would have done it for free. There are jerks everywhere, eh?

Sunday, November 13, 2016


There is a voice
that doesn't use words.
~ Rumi

orphan, widow. . no word for me

I only did a superficial google search but there is no single word in English to refer to a parent who has lost a child. I think there should be such a word and maybe another word for a parent who has lost a child through rejection.

The world tends to have empathy for children abandoned by parents but I would like some acknowledgment of my ongoing loss.

A person who loses a spouse to death is a widow or widower.

Now I see that we do not have any empathic word to refer to someone who has lost a love mate. Saying I am divorced fits my divorce but it does not acknowledge what I consider a more grievous loss, which is the lsos of someone I considered my life mate (he never did but I thought we'd be friends forever, I always expect friendships to last forever and I am always bruised, often listing, when a friendship ends, esp. when it ends abruptly with no closure.

I am very unhappy, lonely, alone. There is a deep, wide gulf between me and others. Oh, I know many kind people but no one that thinks to include me, for example, in their Thanksgiving dinner. No Elijah in my culture.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

in the darkness glimmering

The Well of Grief

Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief
turning downward through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe
will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,
nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown by those who wished for something else.
David Whyte, from his book Risking Everything

hope, that thing with feathers

Pandora's box is in my thoughts. To punish Prometheus for taking fire from the gods and giving it to humans, he presented Pandora, a woman he had put together by other gods and goddess with special characteristics, to Prometheus' brother to be his wife. The brother accepted because she was so beautiful (so enticing?). She came with a kind of dowry, Pandora's Box, or a pithos, sometimes used as a storage urn or a burial urn. Pandora was sternly warned to never open her box for it contained everything bad that could happen but she could not resist. She opened it and as she saw one form of suffering after another fly out of her box, she struggled to close it.

She was only able to finally close her box with hope left inside. So Pandora let lose all manner of human suffering and kept hope boxed into her box.

So. Who might be the Pandora in our election? I admit that I have thought, several times, that Trump opened a Pandora's box of hate, greed, racism, xenophobia, etc. And I have thought Trump would be happy to withhold hope, esp. if it garnered him more attention, more adoration, which is what he seems to live for.

But could Hillary have been our Pandora? Did her unquenchable thirst for the power and all the money she and Bill have 'made' through their charity, book sales, speaking fees, etc. drive her to open her own Pandora's box filled with greed, ambition, warlust, a lack of integrity (all these would also, imho, apply to Trump -- I don't let him off!). Did she open a Pandora's box of human suffering because she could not quench her lifelong thirst to be queen, err, president? And did she, by her choices, box in hope. Or leave hope out of the mix?

To Trump supporters I remind of the old saying to be careful what you wished for. I very sincerely do not believe Trump is going to take care of the middle class, esp. if he endorses paul Ryan's lust to privatize Social Security and Medicare. I don't believe offshored jobs can be brought back and even if they could be, the poeple with those jobs in other countries need them.

One thing America needs to let go of (or leave in that box?!) is the idea that we are more special than other humans on this planet, that we have a right to a higher and unsustainable standard of living, above what humans in Ethiopia or Cambodia deserve. We all need to let go of our wholly irrational belief that we are exceptional, and that preserving white supremacy is irrational.

Yes, white middle class workers, it is hard to enter a human future in which whites are not the majority. Resubjugating nonwhites through new Jim-Crow-like rules is not the path forward.

Kindness if the path forward. ove is the way forward. Sharing and caring for one another, all others all over the globe, is the way forward. A mortgage on a condo in Georgia is not more important than feeding children in Namibia. Truly that mortgage is not more important.

For those in this country who are religious, and I include all spiritual practices, you know that it is not okay for some to suffer while others enjoy needless luxury, that some go hungry while others gorge. Turn the other cheek. That which you do to others is how you treat your God, or Her Son. Etc. Etc.

Our world in stupor lies: Auden

by W.H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
'I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,'
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the dead,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Trees- Nat Shilkret Orchestra

I identify increasingly with trees, although I definitely do not match up to the fine standards of being a tree in nature. I am a work in progress.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

let wendell berry sooth you

wild woman in Irish myth: my people, me!

Grief and anger as a stimulus for transformationThis is a post from Dr. Sharon Blackie's blog. She is a mythologist, psychologist and writer.

It seems that everyone knows about the wild men in Celtic mythology. The enigmatic Brittonic figure of Lailoken, who almost certainly, somewhere along the line, became conflated with Merlin, leading to the legend of Myrddin Wyllt, the wild man of the woods. Suibhne Geilt, Mad Sweeney from the old Irish tale Buile Shuibhne (‘The Frenzy of Sweeney’): the subject of a fine body of poetry which extends from Yeats to Heaney. It’s a story we seem to have seen before: everybody knows about the men, but somehow, nobody focuses on the women.
So let’s take a look at Mis, the most colourful and original wild woman of Irish mythology. (There are no great poems about Mis, but I’d like to think there will be, some day.) Mis was the daughter of Dáire Dóidgheal, a powerful ruler from Europe who set out to invade Ireland. He landed with a huge army in Ventry, County Kerry, and a fierce battle followed which lasted a year and a day. Dáire was eventually slain by the hero-warrior Fionn mac Cumaill, which ended the battle. Mis came down in the aftermath to look for her father, and found only his dead body, bleeding, on the beach. Mis was overwhelmed by grief, and flung herself across her father’s body, licking and sucking at his bloody wounds to try to heal them, just as an animal might. When this failed to restore him to life, madness overcame her and she rose up into the air like a bird and flew away into the heart of the Sliabh Mis mountains.
Mis lived in the mountains for many years, and grew long trailing fur and feathers to cover her naked skin. She grew great sharp claws with which she attacked and tore to pieces any creature or person she met. She could run like the wind, and no living thing was safe from her. They thought her so dangerous that the people of Kerry created a desert stripped of people and cattle between themselves and the mountains, just for fear of her.
The king in those parts, Feidlimid Mac Crimthainn, offered a reward to anyone who would capture Mis alive. No-one accepted, for fear of Mis, except for a gentle harper by the name of Dubh Ruis. Dubh Ruis enticed Mis out of hiding, and made love to her. He coaxed her into a pool and, over a period of days, washed away the dirt and scrubbed away her feathers and fur. He combed her hair, and fed her, and made a bed for her. And eventually, he brought her back to civilisation, and married her.
This is some of what I wrote about Mis in If Women Rose Rooted:
Sometimes, madness seems like the only possible response to the insanity of the civilised world; sometimes, holding ourselves together is not an option, and the only way forwards is to allow ourselves to fall apart. As the story of Mis shows, that madness can represent an extreme form of initiation, a trigger for profound transformation.
… Mis is the original wild woman, that archetypal madwoman who lives deep within each of us. She speaks for us all: for the rage which we cannot express, for the grief which eats our heart out, for the voices we have suppressed out of fear. This old story shows us a brutal descent into darkness during which all illusions are stripped away and old belief systems evaporate, and in doing so it suggests that the extremities of madness or mental breakdown, with their prolonged, out-of-control descent into the unknown, might offer us a path through which we can come to terms with the truth. Like other legendary geilta (the Irish word for madwomen) Mis is driven to extremity in her grief, shape-shifting into bird form, flying away into the hills and woods, growing fur and feathers, eating wild and raw food, leaving the intolerable world behind her. But a geilt cannot emerge from her madness and come back to the world until she has achieved some kind of personal transformation. Through her ordeal – her removal from society and her time spent in the wilderness – she must find a way to reclaim a more authentic sense of identity and belonging. She finds it with the help of a man; she finds it in the union of the masculine and feminine.
So, there we have her: Mis. The furious feminine, all fierce hag energy, wailing her grief into the mountains. A necessary fury, a transformative fury.
I love the story of Mis; I believe it contains a necessary lesson for women in these times. Sometimes, anger and grief is a necessary precursor to transformation. Sometimes, we need to let the wild woman rage. To grow feathers and fur, and run wild through the woods. Sometimes, we need to bite. To stop being nice and talking about love and light and thinking that we can make the world a better place just by pretending that it’s so, or that we can make Donald Trump a better man by sending him love and light through the ether. (Yes, I’ve seen that proposed as a solution to yesterday’s catastrophe by women I’d expect to know better. It beggars belief.) These are dark days in our history, and dark days for women. If women want to change that, we need to take hold of that pure, honest energy which fuels our necessary rage and grief, and use it next for transformation. Find the hag energy. Use it. Transmute it; transform it. It’s what all good alchemists do, and women are born alchemists.
What I particularly like about the story of Mis is that her transformation comes from bringing together both male and female energies. Dubh Ruis is a gentle man; he literally loves her back to life. Like Mis, women can’t do this work alone. Fortunately, there are still good men out there, and I believe that between us, we can do the great work of turning the base metal of a decadent and decaying culture into gold.