Saturday, January 30, 2016

interesting conversations today

I headed to the farmers market late today. Late for me. I usually get there just as they are about to open so there are no lines.  In recent weeks, the Saturday market has been kinda dead. I have reasoned part of the lack of crowds is related to UC being off for the holiday break, but also the cold and rain seem to keep folks away.

The cold and rain doesn't just keep customers away. Some vendors have been missing in recent weeks.

I usually run into people I know on my weekly market trip. I go to the farmers market instead of a grocery store, fully aware that the Berkeley vendors price gouge, charging more than the prices at the Ferry Building market on San Francisco's great tourist mecca, The Embarcadero. Seriously:  produce is cheaper  at the Ferry Building farmers market. It is also cheaper at the Grand Lake market and I sometimes hie myself to Grand Lake, but its a long bus ride.

A creature of habit likes to go to the same market every week, price gouging or not. At least this creature of habit does.

Today I saw the average handful of people I know. After getting very involved in Berkeley politicds for the past couple years, I know quite a lot of people. And quite a lot of people I don't know know me because I speak often at public hearings, the hearings are broadcast on line and the hearings I go to are packed, mobbed up with listeners. So lots of people 'know' me but I don't know them. And everyone who agrees with my points of view seem to think they know me. They stop me on the street, at Trader Joe's or waiting for BART to the city, greeting me like an old friend. This is pleasant for until I became politically involved, I was only very infrequently stopped on the street and greeted by name.

Heck, a few times, men sailing by me on bikes as I walk along have called out "Hi Tree" and I have no idea who they are. Those are the ones that most entice me. On a bike, such a greeter zips by before I can register anything about what they look like. Not much mystery in my life but I'll take this happy mystery, eh?

Today I had two doosie conversations.

fuck yeah


standing in the shower

write about that at group this week?


Friday, January 29, 2016

walking on air without feet

walking on air
to take a step without feet
to trust what one feels
to trust one will be met

love
which emerges
from a radical trust
an unseen trust
one can only feel

I'm bonkers

I am unhappy. My baseline is unhappiness.

I often struggle with suicidal ideation,  reflecting on how to do it and longing to stop feeling.

I have no close friends. There is no one in the whole world that I could call up to talk to if I am feeling low. 

If I were given three magic wishes, I would only need one. I would wish to be dead.

I try to buck up, to hold on, to believe that life can change, that happiness is a possibililty but I don't believe such a fairy tale will ever happen to me. And then I think "if I don't believe my life will ever get better, why stick around?"

Is it the fairly intense social prohibition around suicide, the commonly held belief that suicide is wrong?  Because I don't think it's wrong.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

you're entirely bonkers

You're entirely bonkers.
But I'll tell you a secret.
All the best people are.
  ~~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

My friend Becky often says "I've been in Berkeley over fifty years now. I keep learning, over and over, that everyone is crazy."

Seems to me that Becky and Lewis are on the same, and the right, path.

giving pain won't heal yours


I need food, you walk away reading the news

Food by Anne Sexton

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

feedback from another writer

I quote a man in my writers' group who is a great writer himself:

"This is the kind of story that gets made into a movie."
Aww... shucks.

why I decided I could no longer be a lawyer



While still living with my long ago ex husband, I was able to work part time for him, allowing me to stay home with our daughter. He was general counsel of one of the world's largest, privately held agribusinesses. When he took the job, the company had 56 outside law firms on retainer for widely varying legal needs all over the country. Office leases, farmland real estate transactions, endless squabbles with local taxing authorities about the damage trucks for gigantic cattle feed lots did to small, gravel roads built for farmers to come and go, not for endless streams of cattle in, cattle out, grain in, empty trucks out. Those trucks chewed up the roads. And the company owned land on such roads all over the Midwest and West. Plus personal injuries here and there, employment issues. A business doing over a billion in sales in the early eighties had lots of legal needs.

A general counsel generally oversees all outside legal work. The kind of inside work a general counsel varies from company to company.

Before he got that job, my ex had worked as a staff attorney for a four-attorney legal department of a much smaller corporation. In that job, he did a lot of ERISA compliance work. I don't remember what ERISA stands for now but it has something to do with employment benefits, maybe retirement benefits.  My ex was always talking about ERISA in the first years of our marriage.I guess I was not paying attention.

When he got the big shot gig, he was only 29, insecure and stunned, deer in headlights stunned.  He had no other attorneys in-house to consult and he felt it was wrong to consult any outside attorneys and run up legal bills. He saw his job as general counsel as bringing as much legal work in-house as he could.  I never thought his employer saw his general counsel's job the way my ex husband did but my ex did not give my thoughts much credence.  I thought his job was to manage the work of those 56 outside law firms. No one lawyer could do the work of 56 different legal issues.

My ex had an MBA in addition to his JD.  He talked incessantly about the fact that the legal department was a staff job, not a profit center. He fretted steadily about being a drain on the company, not seeing that legal work done well was essential to the company's thriving and that legal, in its way, definitely contributed to the company's bottom line. He was locked into the language of business he had picked up in business school. The legal department was staff. Line jobs made the money. He fretted all the time about being staff, not line, about not being one of the guy's in the war room where the real money was made. Nickel and diming outside law firms was a way, he believe, wrongly in my view, of proving his value.

I had a totally different take on his job. I thought that he should have accepted he was a legal work manager and supervised all those outside law firms to work efficiently, to remain aware that he was keeping an eye on their hours and bills and got to know the business so he could begin to  limit legal liabililties. I thought it was a good idea to avoid hiring as much outside legal help as possible but trifling to ever think he could bring in-house all the work of all those firms.

He was based in Omaha. Those law firms were all over the country, hired for local issues.

One way in which my ex's obsession with economizing on legal fees for his employer benefited me was he would hire me to do legal work for much less than lawyers with offices charges. Often, he didn't pay me anything for any legal work I did, pretending he had done the work.  I don't remember what he paid me but it was never very much. I liked keeping my hand in the practice of law but mostly I was grateful to be able to stay home with my baby.  So, although it was not an ideal set upu, for I had no interest in lobbying the Nebraska legislature to make it easier for corporate agriculture to absorb endless small family farms, siphon unjust shares of the Ogalala Aquifer and pollute any area where it fed thousands of head of cattle in tight cages as far as the human eye could see. I did just enough work to keep my husband thinking I was earning money. And staying home with my baby.

It worked, more or less, for me.

And it worked for him. He took great pride in lowering the company's legal fees by hiring me at slave wages.

Then we separated. And I had to get some work. Not so much for the money. My ex was on the gravy train in those days and during our legal separation, which lasted years, our divorce judge ordered my ex to pay the mortgage while the baby and I lived in the house, gave me child support, gave me alimony, paid my car and health insurance.  I was set financially. My divorce lawyer, however, pressured me to get a job so I'd look better in the custody battle.

It was a tough slog getting work. My ex was an influential figure on the local legal scene and a nasty gossip. The law profession in a city the size of Omaha is a small town. And my ex smack talked me to all the lawyers we knew.  Any local firm with dreams of scoring some of the endless legal work my husband had to farm out was not going to hire me.  And they all had such dreams.

I knew many lawyers when we separated. Virtually all of them were males that had gone to prep school with my husband and all of them wanted to avoid pissing him off by helping me.

So I ended up hanging out my shingle. After floundering a bit, I decided I would focus on female owned businesses for my law practice. I didn't like the emotional drain that divorces often became. I didn't like doing criminal defense work, not even the easy DUI work that constantly came my way. Now, thirty years later, I can think of more creative ways to use my law degree but in the early eighties, I couldn't find any legal work that I wanted to do.

So I thought I'd go after women businesses for clients.

I joined OWN, Omaha Women's Network. In those days, women networking was brand new. OWN was comprised of women who owned small businesses. And I was the only lawyer in the group. Those businesses needed lease negotiations, contract reviews, employee benefit work. Collection work. Small businesses always have collection work. Easy legal work that I could charge my lawyerly hour for and not get bogged down in emotion.

I did other things to market my existence in the world as a law practice.  I volunteered in the Omaha public high school program for gifted students, acting as a judge for high school Moot Court competitions. I also did some volunteer work as a Moot Court judge at Creighton's law school.

One of my most reliable clients was not a client I marketed to find.  My daughter's day care needed various legal work done. They liked me. I liked them. And soon other parents with kids in the day care were coming to me for legal work.  Nickel and dime work. I was not earning a living.

Intellectually, the legal work I did in those years was boring.  I did not like any aspect of the work. Most of all, I hated always worrying about the next client to pay my office rent, my home rent once I was divorced and my child care fees.

I dutifully went to OWN, Omaha Women's Network meetings every month. Everyone at those monthly lunches got to stand up for a minute and make their elevator speech about what services they offered. I would stand up and say "If someone owes you money I can help you collect it" or "If you are about to sign a lease, don't sign until a lawyer reviews it."

Gradually I was moving away from the emotionally draining work of criminal misdemeanor work, draining divorce work and moving into mind and soul dulling minor business legal problems. Mind numbing for me. I note that many lawyers would welcome the kind of small businses practice I built.

Then one day, a woman I had gotten to know and chummed around a bit with from OWN, the Omaha Women's Network,  called me up for lunch. I was so happy that someone from 'my network' had suggested we have lunch. I knew that the best clients emerged from good friendship. Plus I needed friends. As happens often with divorce, I had lost my married friendships. Being the single mom of an infant, then a toddler, who was working to build her law practice, I didn't have a lot of time for socializing.  In the early eighties, to my recollection, there were no single mom play groups. All the play groups were filled with married women who met during the day when I was at the office.

My life wasn't exactly lonely.   I was perfectly happy spending every minute I wasn't working with my baby. I loved to pick her up from day care, to see her eyes light up when she saw I had arrived. I loved exploring parks with her on the way home, often having picnic dinners in those parks.  I coached her to slide down slides by herself. I taught her how to swing her legs to self propel swings. I invited her to listen to the wind and to notice the smell of lilacs, in season, wafting across the picnic table from the lilac grove near our favorite slide.

Still, when the woman who sold some kind of financial instruments, invited me to lunch, I was pleased. What did she sell?-- life insurance? investments? I never found it. It sounded boring to me. And when she invited me to lunch, although I assumed she would try to sell me something, we had each briefly alluded to how perhaps we could refer our clients to one another. I felt a con coming on. She wanted access to my clients because she didn't really have any, that was my hunch.

So, as I write that I wanted her as a possible new friend, I guess I was not entirely eager to have lunch with her. I insisted she come to the restaurant in my office building. Huh! She didn't even have an office. I remember feeling a little snotty about her lack of office, which was not very nice.

So we met for lunch, were seated at a table.  This was my first one-on-one business networking lunch. In my late twenties, out of law school several years but having worked for others until then, I felt a little uncertain as I approached that lunch. What did she want? And did I want anything from her?

We ordered lunch. I was still uncertain what to talk about. I felt it was wrong to rush into business talk but, then again, lunch is an hour. Between small talk over ordering, an hour is not a lot of time.

I don't remember which of us began. I do recall that we each muttered a few words about how we might be able to help one another grow our businesses, starting out in Omaha Women's Network mode.

Then I realized why she had really asked me to lunch and why she had been willing to come to me.

She wanted free legal advice. When one is a lawyer, people do this all the time. They come up to you at cocktail parties and ask if they can buy you a drink. Not to flirt but to buy free legal advice for the price of that drink.

Few lawyers worth their salt will give legal advice over a free cocktail or over lunch. A lawyer can be held accountable for popping off the top of their heads. No competent lawyer gives legal advice without actually reviewing what is the relevant law to fit the proffered facts. One can give generalizations but most lawyers are cautious before they spout off freely in response to questions about someone's legal problems. Such answers can be the subject of a legal malpractice suit even if these freeloaders never actually hire or pay you. Most lawyers just don't pop off with free legal advice. It's not about the free part. It's about the popping off the top of the head part and risking an increase in legal malpractice insurance.  Not many non-lawyers realize how legal malpractice insurers track a lawyer's behavior.  My malpractice carrier, and I never knew a lawyer without malpractice insurance, actually required me to show them my time sheets to prove I had researched issues before giving legal opinions. Without those time sheets, my malpractice insurer would not have insured me.

Wilma, and yes that was her very Midwestern name, teared up as she finally got around to why she had wanted to talk to me. She explained that her daughter was a sophomore at Kenyon College. This was in October, so the sophomore year for her daughter was new. This daughter had just given birth to a very sickly, very premature baby boy. She had not known she was pregnant, had had no prenatal care and had only realized she was pregnant when she wet to the ER for the sudden pains of childbirth and was told "you are having a baby".

Women do occasionally go into denial about a pregnancy.

Wilma's husband was a colonel in the Air Force, and Omaha is the national headquarters of the Strategic Air Command, I never mingled in circles involving colonels or anyone affiliated with the Strategic Air Command but it was a big, hoity toity deal to many in Omaha, a kind of 'high society'.  I think it is a big deal in that world to be a colonel or married to one.  Maybe.

I learned that Wilma and her husband had an outdoor pool, which is fairly unusual in NE. The summers for using an outdoor pool are relatively short and pools are not common.

Wilma said "When she was jumping into the pool, sometimes, this summer, I thought she looked like she was putting on weight but we decided, my husband and I, that I was imagining things."

Wilma was full out crying after she made that statement. She blubbered on about the very good and very rich family the father of 'it' came from. She kept saying that the baby's father, or 'it's' father, wanted to marry her daughter but he wanted her to give up the baby for adoption. He didn't want to start their young lives burdened by a special needs baby, which it was very likely going to be. The poor little thing had been starved in the womb, been born with undeveloped lungs, body and maybe even his brain. He might not survive, and when she said that, Wilma actually had the ill manners to sniff hopefully,

She went on and on about the fine family the fine young man came from, what a good catch he was. Not that her daughter was not also a good catch but Wilma and her husband were not rich like the fine young father of the it. The sickly little boy that no one, thus far, wanted.

Wilma went on and on about the it's many health issues, her daughter's future prospects, the fine young man who wanted to ditch his sickly son to adoption, who saw a sickly son as a burden not to be endured.

I thought the fine young, rich man from a good family was hoping to snow Wilma's daughter into giving their baby up for adoption and that as soon as she did, the fine young man would ditch her. I thought "Why would Wilma want her daughter to marry any young man who was so eager to disown his own son?"  I did not voice such thoughts to Wilma. I listened to her as long as I could.

Finally, I interrupted Wilma and asked her what she wanted from me. I had sat listening, stewing.  Initially I had been resentful to learn it was a sneak free legal advice lunch but as she talked about that helpless, sick  baby, I felt empathy and concern for its wellbeing. I had begun to silently cheer for adoption, hoping that little fellow would be adopted by caring people who would welcome the challenges of a very premature baby with problems, who would love the little guy.

She was a bit taken aback, not so much by my question but, I suspect, by her realization that she had told me more than she had anticipated she would.

She paused a moment, pulling herself together, took a big breath and on the exhale she said "Well," with another pause, then she began again "Well" and another pause. I could almost hear her being stammering over what she really wanted to ask me, hear a part of her aware that she was behaving badly.  "Well, what my husband and I want to know is this:  can he and I be liable for any of the baby's medical expenses? The bills are astronomical. The baby was born in Ohio and is not our legal responsibility, right?"

There it was. She didn't want to refer clients to me.   She and her husband were ashamed and did not want to ask a more prestigious, more recognized lawyer about their dirty secrets.

She went on to try to ask me about the liability to her daughter and the fine young, rich man from a very good family who was dangling a conditional marriage proposal to her daughter who had just given birth, a traumatic birth because she had not realized she was pregnant but I cut her off.  Criminy. Wilma had complimented that fine young man but had never said anything positive about her daughter! Wasn't her daughter a fine young woman?

As I listened to her sputtering last comments, I gathered my things, like my purse and briefcase. Pulled on my jacket. I considered assuring her that since her daughter was a legal adult and had had the baby in another state, that Ohio's medicaid would cover the baby's medical expenses and that only her daughter and her fine young man would be liable if Medicaid didn't cover things. Plus, I could have pointed out, her daughter had health care through the college and her dependent would be covered until Medicaid took over. But fuck that. This miserable excuse for a grandmother wasn't getting any free legal knowledge from me. When I spoke I said "First of all, it is not an it. You have been talking about your grandson, not an it,  a vulnerable baby who needs caring and love. Your grandson, I said with great emphasis. Second of all, here is my advice."

She perked up when I said I was going to give her advice. I despised her for suddenly looking hopeful.

I stood up, threw down my cloth napkin and left the check on the table. By golly, she was going to pay for my lunch if not my legal advice,  although I said nothing about the bill. Then I said "Here is my advice. Bring your daughter and grandson home. Get the whole family into therapy, Love your daughter. Love that little boy. Get them all the help they need and all the help you all need. Clearly you are all in need of counseling if you saw your pregnant daughter in a bikini on your backyard diving board but didn't register she was pregnant two months ago. Bring them home, get lots of therapy and love one another as much as you can. I will be praying for all of you, especially your grandson.  Why would you want your daughter to marry her awful boyfriend, so willing to abandon his son?!"

I spoke with much emotion and force because in those moments, I realized I was not going to be able to go on practicing law.  I couldn't believe Wilma had come to me just after I had been retained by another emotionally draining case.

Two days before that lunch, I had been retained by one of the partners of my daughter' s day care which was run by two sisters. That new client was pregnant by her Catholic priest. She had gone to the priest for advice about her marriage and the dirtbag seduced her, then knocked her up. No birth control for Catholics, I guess.

That priest had dinner every Tuesday evening at the home of one of Omaha's most prominent lawyers, the senior named partner of Omaha's most prestigious law firm. Then the priest would spend the night at his best friend's home. And after the lawyer went to his office, the priest had sex with the lawyer's wife. Every Wednesday morning,

My pregnant by the priest client knew about the lawyer's wife and the lawyer's wife knew about my client. Both those women were in thrall to the evil of Father Ed Ourada. Ed had convinced each of them that he had to keep stringing the other woman along so they wouldn't make his transgressions public and, as he put it, ruin his vocation. Both those women kept telling the other she was ruining Ed's vocation and should stop sleeping with him And both were married. And both these women knew Ed had other lovers, other women he couldn't stop see and risk his vocation in case they talked, reporting him as the predator he was. Aside from being their parish priest, he was offering counseling to his women parishioners that he had sex with, so he was violating more than just priest ethics.  He was open to personal injury lawsuits for violation of duty and ethics.

I don't know if the lawyer knew about his wife's sexual relationship with Ed but my client's husband knew. And her husband, a peach of a guy, had sued her for divorce, insisting she not just give up custody of her three children  and any of their millions in marital assets. He didn't just want custody, her husband demanded that she terminate her parental rights to her first three children.  My client's husband had threatened, he would rat out the priest. And my pregnant by the priest, married to the dick, client only cared about protecting Ed's vocation.

My client was in thrall to Ed's evil. Protecting his vocation was all she cared about.

She had been using a different lawyer for her divorce. They had agreed upon what was supposed to be a final divorce settlement, stipulating into the record her termination of parental rights, her relinquishment of any rights to the significant marital assets. At the hearing when they were supposed to finalize the divorce with that stipulated settlement agreement,  her young lawyer balked. Her first divorce lawyer, as it just so happened, was a junior partner in the big shot lawyer and best friend's law firm. But that young lawyer had some ethics. She didn't know about Ed, or the fact that Ed was ganging her boss' wife every Wednesday morning. When my client had stipulated that she would give up custody and parental rights, as well as all of the couple million dollars of the marital estate, the young lawyer had felt uneasy. So on the day that was supposed to be when they entered the stipulated, unconsionable settlement, that decent young lawyer had told the judge she would like to be relieved from acting as her client's lawyer. She told the judge she felt the settlement was unethical and unconscionable, she didn't understand why the client had agreed to it and she did not want to be the attorney of record for the agreement,

The judge let that lawyer off the hook, then ordered my client, the woman knocked up by her parish priest, to find another lawyer and reach a stipulated settlement everyone could live with.

That's how I ended up being her lawyer. For awhile.

I know my client hired me because I was a nobody. And I know she thought I was a nobody because Father Ed Ourada told me I was a nobody when I went to his rectory.

I would get my client to back off giving up custody of her kids and any property from the marriage, then she'd talk to Ed, her fucking priest, pun intended, and he would remind her that his vocation must be protected so she had to give up her kids. Ed trembled at the thought of my client's husband knowing about Ed's sex life. As for money Ed promised to care for my client. And he did. In her 7th month of pregnancy, penniless from her divorce after he ordered her to fire me, he got her a job as a cashier in his sister's grocery store, selling her to the sister as a fallen parishioner in need of acceptance and help. And he had helped her find a studio apartment and gotten Catholic Charities to give her households furnishings, including a crib.

Before she found another lawyer who entered the stipulated settlement that her husband had blackmailed her into accepting, while she was still working with me, I went to Ed's rectory to ask Ed to leave her alone for a couple weeks.

Having grown up indoctrinated in Catholicism, attending Catholic schools grade K-12 ad believing all priests were good, I naively gave Ed credit for decency he did not possess.

When I first got to the rectory, a receptionist said I could not see Father without an appointment. I told her to give him my name. Then he came out and rushed me into his office and set out scolding me for having come. He said "I know Jane didn't give you permission to come here. You are violating your professional ethics to come here.

By then I was seated across from him at his desk, right where he had probably started his 'counseling' of Jane and an endless stream of unhappy female parishioners that he helped by seducing them. I pounded my right forefinger on that desk and said "Ed, I am going to cut you off right there. You are not going to lecture me about ethics. I know about you and Jim Forman's wife. I know about your other sexual partners from this parish. I even know about the baby you had with another woman many years ago and you were temporarily exiled from Omaha. A dirtbag like you is not going to talk to me about ethics." The Catholic school girl in me trembled but the mother and lawyer in me felt as powerful as I have ever felt.

Ed was no Richard Chamberlain, who played the philandering priest in the film adaptaion of "The Thornbirds." He was fat, chinless and bald. His shiny fat jiggled down his neck, giving away his nervousness in my presence.

I went on. "I am just here to ask you to leave Jane alone for a couple weeks so she has a chance to make better choices for her children.  Her husband should not be allowed to blackmail her or take away her children. Blackmail is a crime and I'd like to use that as leverage to get that asshole to back the fuck off. This is as much about the three children from the marriage as it is about Jane and your baby. And you are the problem. You won't let Jane protect herself or her babies. Leave her alone. You've ruined her life and now you are demanding she go on ruining it to protect you. Leave Jane alone for a few weeks so she can make a decent plan for her children and her own wellbeing."

Then the evil Ed spoke, all sneers and venom, dropping any pretense of priestly demeanor.  "You!" he squeaked piggishly, "I only let her hire you because you are a nobody. You have no power in this town. No one even heard of you until this year. You are nobody."  The scorn in his voice rolled off me like water off a duck's back. I was in a good zone, vividly aware that I was confronting evil and that I was in the right.

And I said, in what is still one of my proudest moments, "Ed, you are right. I am a nobody. This nobody is leaving town at the end of the year and I have nothing to lose. My Nebraska law license doesn't matter to me. Nothing in Omaha matters to me. I'm out of here". I was awaiting a hearing at which I was certain a judge would give me permission to remove my minor child from the state of Nebraska but I didn't mention details about my pending departure.  I let my imminent department from Omaha sink in with a long, silent pause. "This nobody is going to bring you down if you don't leave Jane alone. I will phone the archbishop and tell him about the baby. The archidiocese should be sued for child support since you have taken a vow of poverty. And you and the archdiocese should be sued for violation of your professional duties as a pastoral counselor and trusted spiritual guide."

"You can't phone the archbishop without violating your ethics, unless Jane says you can."

"Ed, Ed, Ed, as you have already pointed out, I am violating my professional ethics just by being here. I don't give a crap about my professional ethics. I care about Jane's four children, including your baby. And I am going to bring you down."

With that, I left with what I thought was some flourish.

Jane fired me. Ed had insisted. And then Nancy her day care business partner who had hired me to handle several legal matters for her day care business and who doted on my daughter, begged me to report Ed to the archbishop. Nancy said "you have already violated your ethics and you are leaving town so you should report ed to the Archbishop."  Everybody talking about my ethics. No one else acting ethically, that's how it seemed to me.

"Nancy I got away with that stunt of going to Ed's office because he's fearful of scandal but going to the archbishop is a much more serious violation of my ethics, esp, since Jane has expressly forbid it. You tell the archbishop about Ed. You have no ethics to honor and she's your sister."

"She is my only family," Nancy said. "If I tell on Ed, she might not forgive me. I can't take that chance."

"Oh, but I can take the chance, risk my license and the well being of myself and my child?"  I left telling Nancy no way would I rat out Ed.

And I left town a few months later,  after wrapping up my own legal problems with my own ex, after rejecting the colonel's case shedding his grandson and after begging Ed to leave Jane be so she could keep her kids, stand up to her husband instead of protecting a priest with a long string of lovers all over town.

I had to return to Omaha six months after I left to report to my divorce judge that I had gotten a legal job. Funny. Just as I was leaving  I had decided I could no longer practice law but before I made that decision I had persuaded the judge to let me remove my minor child from the jurisdiction of his court by claiming I couldn't find a legal job in Omaha because my ex-husband had slandered me all over town.

I had to get a law job to stay out of Nebraska. And I did. I became the staff attorney for a real estate developer.

When I returned for my last hearing in Omaha, for my own custody issues, I called Nancy. Jane had found another lawyer, entered the divorce settlement that left her with nothing and relinquished her parental rights of her three children from her marriage. She had the baby and was still working in Ed's sister's grocery store, still seeing Ed and Ed was still seeing other women, unable to break up with any of them and ruin his vocation.  At least the baby got free child care at her sister's day care center.

Without telling Nancy, I phoned the archbishop. To my still enduring disgust, that dirtbag, the archbishop, knew all about Ed, Jane, the baby and Ed's other babies.  And the archbishop also told me I was violating my professional ethics by talking to him about a law client without her permission,

Once again, trembling because of the great respect, even reverence, I had been raised to give priests and especially archbishops for this was the first time I had ever talked to an archbishop, I said "Seriously? We are talking about an ally cat priest who has had babies with parishioners before and you have covered that stuff up and you are talking to me about ethics. What are your ethics, Father? Here's how this is going to work."  I did not use his name and I could not remember the honorific one is supposed to use with archbishops.

"You are going to get Ed out of town fast. I don't live here anymore but I will call Jane's sister in a few weeks and if Ed has not left town I will call the Omaha World Herald. Do you think this story would interest them?  I don't think you have the balls to risk the scandal. I think you are going to get Ed out of town."

The archbishop was cooler than Ed. He remained calm, as Ed had not. He calmly tried to priest talk me into butting out. I calmly assured him that if Ed wasn't gone in two weeks, for my time line had shortened as I listened to that smarmy archbishop try to keep Ed in a position that allowed him to prey on my client and other women, I would go to the press.  She may have fired and me. And maybe, technically, she was no longer my client but I was warrior lawyer, protecting her and her four children from the evil called Father Ed Ourada. And yeah I said, it's a crap shoot whether the media will care. Are you a gambler, Father?"  I remember wincing when I called him Father. That is not what you are supposed to call an archbishop. That old Catholic grooming still cropping up in me, out of no where.

Then I hung up on the archbishop. I went to my own final divorce hearing that afternoon, receiving permission to permanently keep my minor child outside the jurisdiction of the state of Nebraska. I was free.

And two weeks later, when I called Nancy to see if Ed was still in town, she happily asked me "Was that you? We don't know what happened but suddenly Ed got reassigned to a small town in Wyoming. He's gone. Jane is still divorced with no money but at least she isn't seeing that creepy priest anymore. And her husband relented about terminating her parental rights. She has visitation. Did you tell the church about Ed?"

"Nancy, that would be a violation of my professional ethics"  I said with as much mocking tone as I could muster, signaling that yes, indeed, I had ratted out Eddie. We parted amicably. We had always liked one another, which was why she had coaxed Jane into hiring me. Before I got off the phone, I told Nancy that if Jane ever grew sane about Ed, she had a great lawsuit against the archdiocese for both Ed's pastoral negligence, sexual predation, economic harm and child support. I told Nancy to file that info away for a rainy day.

I never found out what happened to that sickly preemie in Ohio. His grandmother never spoke to me again.

I was free. And I had custody outside of NE. Keeping me in Ne had been the only reason my husband has sued me for custody, drained my assets to the tune of nearly $100K, to pressure me into staying in Omaha. The still unhappy truth is that if he had simply not sued for custody, paid his child support and let me get on with my life, I would have stayed in Omaha until our daughter turned 18. As my divorce lawyer said, many husbands used the legal system to abuse their wives when they can no longer smack them around in person.

Maybe I was acting out some of my anger when I went after Ed.

Then again, someone had to go after Ed. It was definitely a violation of my professional ethics but I was always confident the church would not come after me and risk the story leaking out to paying Catholics.

In my mind, the way I handled Ed and even  Wilma with her premature grandson was practicing law, doing the right thing.  I am proud that I went out of the profession on such a high note.

I practiced again, here and there. It's hard to walk away from one of the most prestigious professions. Law school is intense brainwashing. And many people give the profession power and prestige. It is not easy to walk away from it or the opportunity to earn a living as a self employed lawyer. I had some fits and starts but I haven't practiced in about 20 years.









Tuesday, January 26, 2016

growing blind to homelessness

I recently had a dearly beloved houseguest for a whole week. He lives in my hometown of Chicago.  Midwest cities with harsh winters don't see as much homelessness as can be seen in Berkeley and other N. California communities. The harsh winters seem to drive homeless people to warmer climes. Maybe.

Most days, he and I set off from my apartment to get on BART and head to SF. On our first few walks from my place to BART, as we got to BART, he would remark on all the homeless he had seen during our walk.We are talking about less than two blocks, smack in the heart of downtown. Then I would remark that I had not seen any homeless.

I 'know' that most retail doorways are used as sleeping spots virtually every night.  I am well accustomed to walking home late in the evening and noticing people bedded down for the night.  I guess I don't notice these some folks in the morning. I wonder why. In the morning, typically, any homeless that slept in doorways on my block have put away their bedding for the day and are sitting up, beginning their day's work of asking for money for food.

By the time my friend went home, my awareness of the density of the homeless in downtown Berkeley had risen. I had begun to see it through his eyes. He was shocked to see so many humans sleeping outdoors. And it was wicked cold and raining the whole time he was here.

I am surprised that I have grown blind to the homeless. I cast about to understand what it is that I no longer see. I know that many homeless sleep downtown. I know that nearly every business that has any shelter from wind or rain has a sleeping human in its doorway overnight. I know the homeless are there. Are here. So what is it I wasn't seeing that my houseguest saw?

I think I see something commonplace and he saw something startling, even shocking.

I think his shock is a better human response than my relative blindness to how many homeless are sleeping in my neighborhood.

On my block, across the street and down by Peets, there is a heat vent on the sidewalk.  A homeless person, whose gender I do not know because the person sleeps cocooned from head to toe in a gray sleeping bag, has been sleeping on that bench. He or she stays curled up inside that sleeping bag late into the morning, sometimes moving around a bit.

I tell myself hum stays inside that cocoon as long as possible because re-entering the world, so to speak, offers nothing more than another bleak day in the cold with no where to go, no where to keep warm and nothing to do.  This seems to be especially applicable during the, for Berkeley, very cold and very wet weeks we have had recently.

That human, hum's head fully inside a gray sleeping bag, moving a bit as if shifting for comfort or, I imagine, trying to feel more heat, breaks my heart.

Quite a lot in this world is breaking my heart these days.

And don't get me started on the obscenity unfolding in SF. The Superbowl is coming to Santa Clara but San Francisco is hoping to capture some of the tourist spending that comes with a Superbowl. Santa Clara negotiated a deal with the NFL so SC will be reimbursed 100% for any costs it incurs as it hosts the Super Bowl. SF, by acts of staff chicanery, entered into a Hobbesian deal with the devil known as the nonprofit NFL. SF will be spending about four million dollars and not be reimbursed for a dime. That's bad enough. But the powers that be are punishing the homeless, not wanting the Superbowl tourists to see the seas of poverty alongside the ocean of wealth that is becoming SF.

Don't let prosperous tourists see the homeless.

Treat the homeless like garbage, sweep them out of sight.

There is one shelter bed for every eight homeless people in SF. Where the fuck do the supervisors and SF's increasingly venal mayor expect these humans to go? And if the city can spend four million for Super Bowl festivities for which it will not be reimbursed, Why The Fuck can't the city just put the homeless in modest hotel rooms. Oh, that's right. All the hotel rooms are needed for the Superbowl crowd.

Monday, January 25, 2016

real estate speculators are fucking us again


this world is breaking my heart: Bernie's hope offers healing

Many unfolding stories in the world today break my heart. That grossly toxic river spill in Colorado seems to be out of the news but we know drinking water has become unfit for many. That even more awful toxic river spill in Brasil, which eventually emptied, as rivers always do, into an ocean and is now spreading those toxins all over the globe, is affecting drinkable water in many places, if not all. And Fukushima radiation continues to waft over our world.

But the deliberate toxic pollution of human bodies in Flint, MI for insider cronyism, to help set up a scenario in which private greed could buy out the Detroit Water Co and water supply is breaking my heart something fierce.

Humans. Children permanently damaged by the lead. Other humans aware of the damage their greed was inflicting on actual humans.

Ultimately, we all collude, by tolerating corporate domination, in toxic river spills or methane nightmares such as is happening in suburban LA right now by allowing corporations, nonpersons, to continue to destroy our commons for private profit. And this breaks my heart, too.

The whole world is breaking my heart.

does this happen to all readers?

Growing up, reading voraciously, I often heard myself thinking, as I read a book that really grabbed my attention, "I could do this." I did not, alas, often think "I want to do this."  Instead, almost silent, even secretively, as if hiding myself from myself, I suppressed most thoughts that began with "I want". My parents had trained me, from the earliest days in my crib, even before I could raise my head, much less roll over or sit up, that I should want nothing, for to want something was to seek their attention and help, to want something was to be a burden to another. I also received the message, even before I was fully thinking in language, and only thinking in terms of broad strokes of emotion and feeling, that I was a burden and the less I wanted, the more tightly I constricted my needs, the better my caregivers, those beings circulating around me now and then that I later came to know were my parents, would not reject me. They rejected me anyway. I was no competition for the first born penis. Or, come to think of it, no competition for the second born penis that came right after me. Or the third. Or the fourth.

Anyway.

When I got to be six or seven and began to read independently, which was a freedom I dove into joyfully, especially once I discovered library cards could be had as soon as I could write my name in cursive, all I ever wanted to do was read and write.

And I wrote as soon as I could write. I did not just read. I wrote.  I wrote long, endless letters to my out of town grandmother because that was the only kind of writing I knew to do.  I usually threw those letters out but once in awhile, my mom would find them and mail them to my grandmother. I hated that she mailed them. I was not stupid. I was a fucking little genius. If I had wanted to actually send them to grandma, I would have asked for a stamp.  I didn't want to do anything with those reams of my thoughts that no one seemed to care about but me. I just wanted to get them out.

Shoulda woulda coulda.

Do all young readers, when finding themselves in love with books, long to write books?  I'm going to ask my writers' groups this question.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

the demand to get an abortion

The demand to get an abortion changes a relationship. If a woman gets pregnant with her husband's sperm after they agreed to have a baby and she went off birth control with his full knowledge and then he demands she get an abortion, saying that since she believes in a woman's right to get an abortion, a man also has a right to demand one.

I shouted myself hoarse several times before I left him. Literally hoarse. I would lose my voice, then drink hot water or tea with honey while I waited for my voice, and my heart, to come back.

So . . . you want to be tough

So
you want to be tough
you want to be rebellious
you want to be badass

Then show your heart to everyone.

EVERYONE.

my friend Fred shared this with me, I don't know who the author is

East of Eden

East of Eden, by John Steinbeck, of course, deeply affected me when I first read it. I love all the main characters. My heart broke for all of them. And I still occasionally flash on spoiling lettuce spilling out of unrefrigerated railroad cars and feel such sadness for the visionary father who spent his own prodigal fortune on a truly visionary idea:  to ship produce to the Midwest, but, alas, before refrigerated rail cars.

I wanted both the sons to be happy.

When I first moved to California, I lived in Mountain View, which is a short train hop to San Jose. The first time I went to San Jose, as a California resident, for I had been there before on various trips, I arrived at the Diridon train station in downtown San Jose. It was a very hot, unusually hot day. Sweltering. I stepped out of the relative cool, shaded station into the hot sun and I flashed on Kate, Cal and Aron's father all at that train station, shipping their lettuce with high hopes that would soon, like Icarus, fall hard and fast into hot, dusty disappointment.

Yes. The first time I walked through the San Jose train station, exiting at its front into a very hot, very sunny day, my thoughts were on Steinbeck's great novel, East of Eden.

The power of literature? or just the power of being alive, awake, aware, joyous and enthusiastic?! Yes, I felt joy even though I was awash, standing in front of that train station, with sorrow for the lettuce fail.

what books made you a writer?

Like many children, I inhaled every book I could get my hands on. My mom often said that if there was nothing else around to read, I'd read a dictionary. I loved it when she said that. I knew I was a writer from around age seven or so, as soon as I began to inhale books on my own.

Adults, especially my parents and the nuns at school, often told us kids that we had to decide what we wanted to be when we grew up so we could plan for that, prepare to be who we wanted to be. Then I would say I wanted to be a writer and the adults, especially my dad, would say "writers starve, pick something else". I would feel overwhelmed, then erased. There was nothing else I wanted to be, nothing else to pick. So I slipped into a passive blankness, feeling that I didn't get to be anything. And, ouch, how sad it is, at age 62, to realize I have drifted through 62 years waiting waiting waiting to be nothing.

Things have shifted, as things do.  I write a lot these days.

But which books made me a writer? All of them? The Little House books had a deep impact on me. They were stories about ordinary life. I remember reading and rereading The House on Plum Creek, and often pausing to reflect on how I could write stories of my childhood. "I could do this." But then dad would be roaring in the background "Writers starve. Pick something else."

WTF is the point of telling a kid to decide who they are and then tell them to be something else?

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, which is a dense novel about a very depressed writer and, in part, her writing process, powerfully impressed me. That novel was the first time I realized maybe other people had interior lives similar to my own:  dense, often depressed, creative.

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, read when I was about 35, reminded me that I wanted to be a writer. Once again I heard myself thinking "I could write a story like this, about life with color commentary."

As a child, sure I read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, but I had to read the Hardy Boys on the sneak. My older brother, Chuck the fuck, forbid me to read the boys books. Even when I pointed out the books also belonged to my Irish twin Joe, eleven months younger than me, and Joe said I could read the boys' books, Chuck forbid it. So I read them in my closet. Seriously.

Chuck the fuck and my dear Joe also subscribed to a monthly book club with books about some boy who had adventures in a future outer space. I am blanking the name. It was a kind of Flash Gordon for boys.  I wasn't particularly interested in tales set in a future outer space but it was something to read. Better than a dictionary.

Of course, I had the public library. Once I could write my name, I could have my own library card. One of my first steps towards independence was receiving permission to go to the library, maybe four blocks from home, by myself. I got to know the librarians, who guided my reading life in many helpful ways.

Jean Paul Sartre influenced my longing to be a writer.Around the sixth grade, I became aware of Freud and Jung and set out reading their books. I thought something was wrong with me and I imagined that reading their books might allow me to fix what was wrong. I quickly discovered existentialists, from Jung. Not from Freud, of course. And the librarians were so helpful, nudging me over to the adult side of the library, revealing the magic of interlibrary loan to me and making suggestions on what to read next.

I read pretty much every book brought to my attention. So many boy books. Mark Twain. Hemingway. Fitzgerald. But I had Jane.

Jane Austen's novels made me a writer. I would read her, and just like with Little House books, I would think "I could write stories like this, about ordinary life, including interior lives. I could."

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale has probably been the book I read as an adult that most imprinted itself onto me.

Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay thrilled me, penetrated my whole being.

So many books have moved me. And I am not forgetting the lighter stuff, Maeve Binchy, Ann Tyler, Elinor Lipman. Oh my gosh, Lipman has made me laugh. Tyler also writes to ordinary.

Longing. Reading. Longing.

Right now, I am floundering and grasping my way to undertaking a novel. How to get to a novel?  I have, by now, written hundreds and hundreds of short stories. I have started a few novels, plotted a few.  I get bogged down in plot. I can forget that character is what makes a story come alive.

Right now, I feel a bit as I did when I first learned how to ride a two wheel bike without training wheels. I tried and tried. I fell and fell. And then one day I took off, riding my bike.

I hope to take off, riding into a happier, dreamier, more lovely inner world of writing. Writing makes me happy. I am most alive when writing.

I'm petering out.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

letting go of someone I love is so hard, pray for me


we were made for these times: Pinkola Estes

Do Not Lose Heart, We Were Made for These Times: Letter to a Young Activist During Troubled Times”
My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.
You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.
I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.
Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.
In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.
We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?
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.
What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.
One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.
There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.
The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes is an American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, and author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.

Frequently asked question: why did she leave you©

 
Why has she leave you?©

People ask me this sometimes
Not too much
thank goddess
the question slices through my center
Splitting me like lightning
Might shatter a glass statue
Tears make it hard for me to speak
Who is asking? Not someone who loves me.

Broken glass can be hard to remove
Little bits of it, tiny little bits
Can cut me weeks after the ask
And linger, have lingered,
fourteen years and counting

Why did she leave you
Your only child
You gave her life
Nuzzled her tummy
Loved her
Adored her
You gave her everything

She once said you taught her to be herself
That she was the most popular girl
At gifted kid camp
Simply because she was herself all the time
She said “I have you to thank for that. All my life
you have taught me to be my real self all the time and 
that was why I was voted most popular at camp. 
All the other kids were self-conscious. Not me.
I have you to thank for being comfortable in my own skin, Mom.
Thanks, Mom.”
What finer gift is there than teaching her to be herself?

You couldn’t have given her everything, they say.
What did you miss?

Why did she leave you if you gave her everything
 a complicated, nosy, cutting question
If you had given her everything
Why would she have left you
At the parking lot outside her Cornell dorm
Fourteen years ago

Why did she leave you?
Another question I hear:  What did you do wrong?

Wait. Does anyone ever ask this besides me?

What did I do wrong?
What did I do wrong?
Why did she leave me?
When will I stop wanting to know?


Why did she leave me?

a great secret here


as long as space endures


an invisible book of life

Dr. Martin Luther King, in an excerpt from his speech of April 4, 1967, reminds us, that in a crisis like that of today, the urgency ofacting now is required of us all:

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the
bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late. There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. "

I am so tired of being sick

I am tired of being emotionally unwell. I have been experiencing the darkest depression I have ever known, and depression is a lifelong friend of mine.

I see, now, after months of being close to frozen by depression, that depression really is an illness, a sickness. And I see that, for now, I am too unwell to pull myself out of it.  I need help but I have no access to mental health care.

Day after day, it's the same.  I still function, drag myself out for food once a week but, increasingly, I regularly don't eat all day. I am too depressed to prepare food. So I test my glucose, inject insulin if the glucose rises, which it does even without eating. And I wait for the hellhole I am in to pass.

I've been waiting about five months.

I doubt that it matters to anyone who might read this, and not many do and, as far as I know, no one I know reads my blog, and hell yeah, I wonder why I keep blogging, but I read about the ecological disasters that are cropping up with increasing frequency and I wonder if the oft-anticipated End Times are coming.

Flint. Porter Ranch. Fukushima. A CA governor who refuses to ban fracking in earthquake country. All the earthquakes from fracking in Oklahoma.

Am I just my ordinary depressed or am I holding energy for the world's suffering? And by world's suffering, I don't just mean human suffering. I feel the earth bruised and weeping, shuddering with all the damage greedy humans inflict on the earth in flagrant disregard of planet health, human health and economic damage to all but the rich predators.

I'm depressed. So fucking depressed. And I see no reason not to be.

Friday, January 22, 2016

a prayer for your wild soul

A PRAYER FOR YOUR WILD SOUL
Give yourself time to make a prayer that will become the prayer of your soul. Listen to the voices of longing in your soul. Listen to your hungers. Give attention to the unexpected that lives around the rim of your life. Listen to your memory and to the inrush of your future, to the voices of those near you and those you have lost. Out of all of that attention to your soul, make a prayer that is big enough for your wild soul, yet tender enough for your shy and awkward vulnerability; that has enough healing to gain the ointment of divine forgiveness for your wounds; enough truth and vigour to challenge your blindness and complacency; enough graciousness and vision to mirror your immortal beauty. Write a prayer that is worthy of the destiny to which you have been called.
John O'Donohue
Excerpt from ETERNAL ECHOES

Tact






I have had windows in which I was very tactful, skillfully so. My nature seems to be hardwired to prefer being very direct, which many do not consider tactful.  I am challenged to see why being direct and, even, blunt is not tactful.  I see directness as integrity. I know, from many painful experiences, that others interpret directness and, esp. bluntness, as an attack. I don't get it but I know intellectually that being directly blunt if often unwelcome. I don't get it, though, not really. To me, being honest is high compliment. And to attempt to soften what I ahve to say is to take on responsibility for the other person's experience and people are responsible for themselves and create their own experience. I am not responsible if someone experiences my directness as something less than okay.

senseless codswallop can be overcome

The only way to reach wider circles and thereby create a better understanding for Spiritual Science, is to speak from a spiritual point of view completely openly to an unprepared public. Then there will be a large number of people in the public that say: ‘This is foolishness, irrational fabricated nonsense is conveyed here!’
But there will always be a few who recognize in their soul that there might just be some truth in what is brought forward, and they will want to learn more and will go into the matter deeper. Such a patient way of getting to know spiritual facts is what it is about and it is what we can achieve. Therefore, it is quite natural that a large proportion of those who only attend a lecture on spiritual science out of curiosity will make their judgement known widely: it is a sect that spreads its own particular codswallop!
Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 107 – Geisteswissenschaftliche Menschenkunde – Berlin, 21 October 1908 (page 27)

empath traits

Empath Traits: 22 Signs You Are A Highly Sensitive Person


Have you ever walked in a room and had a wave of negative energy wash over you?
Have you had a conversation with a stranger and could tell, without them saying a word about it, that they were deeply troubled or sad?
Do you ever feel so profoundly moved by something beautiful that you start to cry?
If any of these ring true for you, you might be an empath — a highly sensitive person who has a more heightened awareness to subtle stimuli.
If you are an empath, you’ve likely known for some time you are different from most people around you. You’ve probably been accused of being too sensitive or overly emotional your whole life. As a child, you may have had a hard time adjusting to new  situations. You may have cried easily, had unusually deep thoughts, or asked out-of-the-ordinary questions.
You may even believe there’s something wrong with you or that you have some kind of emotional disorder. Fortunately, that isn’t the case. Being an empath isn’t something shameful or even very unusual. According to research conducted by Elaine Aron, PhD, a psychologist at Stony Brook University in New York, 20% of the population are genetically predisposed to be more aware and empathic.
She and her research team have found physical evidence in the brain that empaths respond especially strongly to certain situations that trigger emotions. Says Dr. Aron, “We found that areas of the brain involved with awareness and emotion, particularly those areas connected with empathetic feelings, in the highly sensitive people showed substantially greater blood flow to relevant brain areas than was seen in individuals with low sensitivity during the 12-second period when they viewed the photos [of happy and sad faces].”
Being an empath is not a disorder — it is an innate quality you should never feel shameful about. Although some of the traits of empaths make it more difficult to operate in a world dominated by less sensitive people, there are many positive aspects of being an empath. Says Dr. Judith Orloff in her New York Times bestseller, Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life, “Empaths are naturally giving, spiritually attuned, and good listeners. If you want heart, empaths have got it. Through thick and thin, they’re there for you, world-class nurturers.”Empaths feel positive, loving emotions deeply and appreciate the subtitles of beauty, art, and music. They flourish in calm, loving, and peaceful environments. On the flip side, however, empaths feel all emotions keenly — even negative emotions. Says Dr. Orloff, they are so in-tune to other’s negative feelings they become “angst-sucking sponges.” As a result, they are vulnerable to emotional abusers who want to use and manipulate them. Stressful situations and people overwhelm them and often trigger serious issues like depression, anxiety, weight gain, and addictions.

Here are 22 empath traits that might suggest you are a highly sensitive person:


1. People point it out

You’ve been told all your life you are too sensitive, overly emotional, or wear your heart on your sleeve. People tell you that you pick up on cues or feelings they don’t even notice.

2. You feel other’s feelings

You’ve noticed how sensitive you are to the emotions of others. Even before they tell you how they are feeling, you already know. You can enter a room and have a sense of the general mood of the environment.

3. Negativity overwhelms you

Where others can tolerate raised voices, conflict, or anger, it sends you over the edge. You almost feel physically sick or in pain as a result of the negative energy around you. You crave peace and calm.

4. Being in crowded places overwhelms you

You don’t like being in malls, sporting events, airports or other public places with crowds of people. You feel suffocated and overly-excited. You can’t wait to leave.

5. Strong intuition

You seem to know things without being told. You sense what needs to be done or what’s about to happen. Your gut feelings nearly always prove to be correct.

6. Pain intolerance

More than others you know, you have a lower threshold for pain tolerance. You can’t stand getting shots, feeling nauseated, or dealing with a minor injury. You may even have had a doctor tell you to stop complaining so much.

7. You must have alone time

You need time every day with no sensory input. You want to withdraw to your room or another quiet place to recharge.

8. You avoid negative media images

You find it extremely disturbing to watch or read about tragic news events or see unpleasant images. It bothers you so much, you avoid looking at these images at all costs.

9. You can easily tell when someone is lying

All you need to do is look at their faces or listen to their tone of voice, and you know instantly whether or not they are telling the truth.

10. You are more sensitive to stimulants/medications

Caffeine in particular makes you more anxious and agitated than the average person. You can never drink caffeine in the evening if you want to sleep. You often have reactions or side effects to medications.

11. You often show up with the symptoms of those around you

If someone close to you is sick or depressed, you will develop the same ailments.

12. You frequently have lower back and digestive problems

These are the result of dealing with negative and stressful situations and people. Your feelings show up as these physical symptoms.

13. You are the dumping ground for the problems of others

People around you seem to gravitate toward you and unload all of their pain and problems on you. Because you are an empath, you feel compelled to help, even to your own detriment.

14. You often feel fatigued

Because others take so much from you, you often feel drained of energy and extremely tired. You might even have chronic fatigue syndrome.

15. You have a very vibrant inner life

You are highly creative, imaginative, and loving. You may be involved in the arts or other creative pursuits. You feel close to animals and especially enjoy your relationship with your pets.

16. You are sensitive to sounds and sensory feelings

Loud noises or sudden dramatic movements startle you. You also feel overwhelmed by bright lights, rough fabrics, and strong smells. You also notice very delicate smells, touch, and sounds.

17. You don’t like too many things at once

When you have to multi-task or have too much coming at you at once, you feel rattled and overwhelmed.

18. You manage your environment

You create your living and working environment to accommodate your sensitivities. You arrange your schedule and commitments to avoid unpleasant, chaotic, or overly stimulating situations.

19. You don’t like narcissists

You are particularly bothered by people who put themselves first all the time and aren’t sensitive to the feelings of others.  You may even believe there’s something wrong with you or that you have some kind of emotional disorder.

20. You can almost feel the days of the week

Each day of the week has a specific “feel” to it. You notice when a Wednesday feels like a Saturday. You feel particularly heavy at the start of the work week. Even months and seasons have a particular feel.

21. You are a great listener

People tell you this all the time. You listen consciously and know the right questions and comments to draw people out and make them feel heard.

22. You get bored easily

As an empath, you need to focus on work and activities that stimulate your creativity and passion. If you get bored, you resort to daydreaming, doodling, etc. However, you are still very conscientious and try hard to avoid making mistakes.
If you are an empath, know that you have an ability to use your sensitivity for your own good and the good of others. To protect yourself, mindfully manage your environment and screen out people who drain you or take advantage of your sensitive nature. Acknowledge that you have the benefit of feeling positive experiences more profoundly, and accept that your reactions to pain, anger, stimulation are normal — but not universally understood.
You are certainly not alone as an empath. A fifth of the population understands you completely and appreciates your special characteristics. People who aren’t highly sensitive can appreciate your unique qualities if you share this information with them. If you are reading this, and you aren’t an empath, perhaps you recognize these traits in someone you know and love. It is through understanding and awareness that empaths and non-empaths can live and work together in mutually supportive and thoughtful ways.

Go. Be. Love.

The world needs you to be love.

addicted

I am addicted to clicks on this blog.

no one knows what's going on

we are suspended by unknown energy amidst the stars, adrift in space.  magic. love. power.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

like a pure, flowing river

these are snippets of an essay she has posted online, from 2010.   I am only posting the parts I think are particularly relevant to me just now, with apologies to incomplete citation of the original essay. I am loving me just now; I hope ms. hooks can love me around my human imperfection:

Fundamentally, the practice of love begins with acceptance—the recognition that wherever we are is the appropriate place to practice, that the present moment is the appropriate time. But for so many of us our longing to love and be loved has always been about a time to come, a space in the future when it will just happen, when our hungry hearts will finally be fed, when we will find love.
I asked individuals who were hopeful to talk about what force in their life pushed them to make a profound transformation, moving them from a will to dominate toward a will to be compassionate. The stories I heard were all about love. That sense of love as a transformative power was also present in the narratives of individuals working to create loving personal relationships.
Writing about metta, “love” or “loving-kindness,” as the first of the brahmaviharas, the heavenly abodes, Sharon Salzberg reminds us in her insightful book Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness that “In cultivating love, we remember one of the most powerful truths the Buddha taught … that the forces in the mind that bring suffering are able to temporarily hold down the positive forces such as love or wisdom, but they can never destroy them.… Love can uproot fear or anger or guilt, because it is a greater power. Love can go anywhere. Nothing can obstruct it.”
Fundamentally, to begin the practice of love we must slow down and be still enough to bear witness in the present moment. If we accept that love is a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect, and trust, we can then be guided by this understanding. We can use these skillful means as a map in our daily life to determine right action. When we cultivate the mind of love, we are, as Sharon Salzberg says, “cultivating the good,” and that means “recovering the incandescent power of love that is present as a potential in all of us” and using “the tools of spiritual practice to sustain our real, moment-to-moment experience of that vision.” To be transformed by the practice of love is to be born again, to experience spiritual renewal. What I witness daily is the longing for that renewal and the fear that our lives will be changed utterly if we choose love. That fear paralyzes. It leaves us stuck in the place of suffering.
When we commit to love in our daily life, habits are shattered. We are necessarily working to end domination. Because we no longer are playing by the safe rules of the status quo, rules that if we obey guarantee us a specific outcome, love moves us to a new ground of being. This movement is what most people fear. If we are to galvanize the collective longing for spiritual well-being that is found in the practice of love, we must be more willing to identify the forms that longing will take in daily life. Folks need to know the ways we change and are changed when we love. It is only by bearing concrete witness to love’s transformative power in our daily lives that we can assure those who are fearful that commitment to love will be redemptive, a way to experience salvation.
Dominator thinking and practice relies for its maintenance on the constant production of a feeling of lack, of the need to grasp. Giving love offers us a way to end this suffering—loving ourselves, extending that love to everything beyond the self, we experience wholeness. We are healed. We can create a love so strong that, as Salzberg states, our “minds become like a pure, flowing river that cannot be burned.” Such love is the foundation of spiritual awakening.

not flinching into disguise or darkness

The City Limits


A. R. Ammons, 1926 - 2001

When you consider the radiance, that it does not withhold
itself but pours its abundance without selection into every
nook and cranny not overhung or hidden; when you consider

that birds’ bones make no awful noise against the light but
lie low in the light as in a high testimony; when you consider
the radiance, that it will look into the guiltiest

swervings of the weaving heart and bear itself upon them,
not flinching into disguise or darkening; when you consider
the abundance of such resource as illuminates the glow-blue

bodies and gold-skeined wings of flies swarming the dumped
guts of a natural slaughter or the coil of shit and in no
way winces from its storms of generosity; when you consider

that air or vacuum, snow or shale, squid or wolf, rose or lichen,
each is accepted into as much light as it will take, then
the heart moves roomier, the man stands and looks about, the

leaf does not increase itself above the grass, and the dark
work of the deepest cells is of a tune with May bushes
and fear lit by the breadth of such calmly turns to praise.
From The Selected Poems: 1951-1977, Expanded Edition, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Copyright © 1986 by A. R. Ammons.

order v. chaos