Campaign for Free Expression

I just stole this from Isaak Mak’s blog, I Want Ice Water.

Absolutely brilliant (the vid, not Isaak . . . nah, just kidding).

I read banned books . . . as often as possible because that’s just how I roll.

“Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting” ~ Aldous Huxley

I was preparing this post to promote Banned Books Week on the evening of my mother’s accident. Since I had almost finished, I thought that I would go ahead and backdate and post. I mean,why give up a chance to stand upon my soapbox? The dates may be over, but the problem still exists.

I consider the banning of books to be a heinous crime against humanity. In my mind, there is nothing more beautiful than a book, nothing more enriching, nothing more enlightening. As I have mentioned, if I were stranded somewhere, anywhere, one of the things that I would have to have would be a book, any book, and I would probably read that one book until I knew every word, every comma, every quote.

One of my favorite quotes by Harper Lee

My love for reading was fostered greatly by both of my parents, but particularly my father who, when he grew tired of reading to me at any free moment, told me at four years old that if I liked reading so much that I should learn how to do it on my own. So I did.

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” ~ Victor Hugo

I view the censorship of books much in the same way I view censorship of television: so many alternatives are out there; what does it matter that something exists that you find evil, or dangerous, or sordid, or salacious, or seditious, or whatever . . . Don’t read the book. Don’t watch the show.

It’s your choice, and just as you have yours, I have mine. It’s called free will people. Think about it.

Now go read a book, any book. As Cicero said, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read

From the American Library Association Site
September 25−October 2, 2010

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week.  BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings.  Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.  Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association; American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; the American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of American Publishers; and the National Association of College Stores.  It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

For more information on getting involved with Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read, please see Calendar of Events and Ideas and Resources. You can also contact the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom at  1-800-545-2433, 1-800-545-2433, ext. 4220, or bbw@ala.org.

Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009

 

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Myracle, Lauren
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26 .Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by George Beard
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77. Crazy:  A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89.Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Graighead George
92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96. Grendel, by John Gardner
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99. Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100. America: A Novel, by Frank, E.R.

More later. Peace.

“But words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling like dew upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.” ~ Lord Byron

 

“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.” ~ Benjamin Franklin 

I feel very fortunate that I have collected a group of bloggers who happen to be wonderful people: good writers, deep thinkers, analytical commentators, wry wits . . . and lest I forget, genuinely kindhearted individuals who share their thoughts, stories, and insights with anyone who wants to visit. And sometimes, one of them writes something that is so in keeping with exactly how I am feeling about something, that the best course of action is to repost what has already been written.

Such is the case with the following. Enjoy.

Repost from Teahouse of the Furious Buddha

Why you should vote for the Democratic Party in November

My fellow Americans,

You have been offered the rarest of reprieves; please do not throw it away. Two years ago the underpinnings of our economy, rusted through by deregulation and burdened by the weight of unjustified tax cuts and unfunded wars gave way into free fall. In that moment of sober terror Barack Obama led the Democratic Party to a historic victory; the hard right wing of the American political spectrum was electrified in a way they had not been for at least a generation and immediately attacked everything about Obama from his policies to his ancestry. His enemies have accused him of being ‘brainwashed’ by the Christian pastor Jeremiah Wright while vilifying him as a secret Muslim; according to these critics, he is both a pawn of Wall Street and a Socialist. He is a snobby elitist who identifies with the wretched depraved poor of the third world. Most of all, he is Not Like Us.

That the economy has actually been growing for the last year or more is of little consequence. That taxes are lower now than during Reagan doesn’t matter. Combat forces have left Iraq, terrorist plots are being disrupted at home, and insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against you because you had cancer or they don’t like the way you look. It’s astonishing how Americans who had been so passionate about invading Iraq made no note of leaving it, to say nothing how after the great anxious concern they have long displayed over the threat of terrorism they don’t seem to appreciate when our current government actually susses one out. And it’s downright weird how so many regular Americans feel such concern for the welfare of insurance companies these days.

We Americans, however, are renowned for our ability to get downright weird. You know what I mean. How’s that ammunition stockpile working out? Good thing you invested in that, right? Because Obama wants to take your guns, right? Seeing as how during the past two years gun restrictions have actually been loosened and no move has been made by the Administration to interfere with the right to gun ownership in any way one would think that this particular anxiety would relax, but that’s asking a lot from people who think that the President is a Muslim. They must feel very tense.

My fellow Americans, I love you, I truly do. I know how angry and betrayed you feel right now; the game of musical chairs Mr Bush was playing came to a very sudden end, even quicker than they ever expected it would, and most of you were left without anywhere to sit. Mr Obama wanted the job and he has a lot of responsibility to bear, but he is not to blame for America’s problems and has in fact been demonstrably effective in every measure even if he has fallen short of achieving all that has been hoped for. People were hoping for quite a bit more than is reasonable to expect, but that is the way of things, isn’t it?

I am in no one’s pocket; my own are empty as yours. I see our roads and bridges crumbling, our gas lines and sewers are leaking; this is not time to cut taxes and reduce public spending. Shutting down the government is not going to make our nation stronger or our economy thrive; it is a meaningless sabotage, a reckless partisan stunt that hurts Americans and only helps Republicans. This is not idle speculation, it is the stated goal of both Tea Party and Republican leaders; I don’t know if there’s ever a good time to elect officials whose stated goal is to wreck the government, but that time is certainly not now.

Glenn Beck wants you to remember what you felt like on 9/12/01, which, if you are anything like me, was a mix of rage, confusion, grief and fear; it was an intense raw shock that made people irrational enough to think invading Iraq was a good idea. I think it would be better if you thought about the present; take a deep breath and a close look at the people you may be sending to Washington and reconsider. Please.

Sincerely,

Winston Delgado

“Upon the demon-ridden pilgrimage of human life, what next I wonder?” ~ Iris Murdoch, from The Sea

Barely There

                             

“What you thought you came for is only a shell, a husk of meaning from which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled . . . the purpose is beyond the end you figured and is altered in fulfillment.” ~ T.S. Eliot

Bare Branches

I finally did something that I should have done weeks ago: I went to see Jennifer, Alexis’s friend who is dying of cancer. On Sunday evening, Alexis called and asked me to drive her to urgent care the next morning because she had a sore throat that was not getting better. I drove her there and then took her home so that she could take a shower. She wanted me to drive her to the hospital so that she could spend some time with Jennifer.  

Turns out Alexis has some kind of bacterial infection, and the doctor put her on antibiotics. After I took Brett to school, I went back to Alexis’s apartment and drove her to the hospital. Jennifer was readmitted on Friday night. She was having terrible pains in her legs and could not walk. Turns out, Jennifer got blood clots in both legs, and the clots traveled to her lungs; one lung is now full of fluid.  

When I heard this, I was infuriated. Blood clots are preventable. Most of the time when a patient is going to be in bed for an extended period, the doctors will order these special hose for the patient to wear to prevent blood clots. Jennifer was sent home from the hospital without the hose, and none of the home health nurses bothered to make sure that she got them.  

Things like this make me want to go postal. I just want to find someone and scream at them, point out their stupidity, their carelessness, but it’s not my place. But I mean geez, the leg hose are pretty much common knowledge. Why didn’t Jennifer receive any?  

“Why always expect a definite stance, clear ideas, meaningful words? I feel as if I should spout fire in response to all the questions which were ever put, or not put, to me.” ~ E.M. Cioran from “On the Heights of Despair”  

Waning Sun through Trees

So I steeled myself and went inside the hospital with Alexis. I don’t think that Alexis expected me to go inside, just to drop her off.  

When we got to Jennifer’s room, she was sound asleep, that deep, heavy morphine sleep. I took one look at her and knew, knew down to the marrow in my bones that Jennifer does not have long to live. Her head is swollen and full of fluid. The shunt that was inserted in the beginning cannot keep up with the production of fluid. Her skin has a yellow tint to it, and her cheeks are puffy and turgid.  

I sat in the chair next to her for a few minutes, and then I stroked her hair and kissed her cheek, a finger kiss because I did not want to wake her. Then I went down to the first floor and into the small chapel. One of my long-standing habits is to go into the chapel at DePaul Hospital whenever I am in the building. It’s something that I have done for years, regardless of the condition of my faith.  

It’s a small, circular room with a vaulted ceiling, and it almost always brings me a sense of peace, but not on Monday. I wept hot, bitter tears, tears for Jennifer, tears for her son, tears for Alexis. And I know that the tears were also for Caitlin and my father.  

I said aloud to no one in particular, “I don’t understand.” And that, my friends, is the crux of it: I do not understand.  

I’m telling the wrong lies,
they are not even useful.

The right lies would at least
be keys, they would open the door. ~ Margaret Atwood from “Hesitations Outside the Door”

Ghost Trees (b&w) by John Morgan

Death, that I understand. We are mortal creatures, here for a limited time, dying from our first breaths. It’s a process that cannot be defied, no matter how much people try to stave off the inevitable. Sickness, to some extent I understand. People get sick. They contract diseases. They develop syndromes. They are born with genetic defects. These things, too, are a fact of life.  

What I do not understand is the lot, how the die is cast, as it were. What I do not understand is the suffering, the immense, soul-breaking suffering.  

Do not tell me that there is a plan, or that there is a reason. Do not approach me with platitudes that do nothing but sugar-coat reality. Do not attempt to comfort me with words of reassurance that Jennifer will go to a better place.  

Don’t. Please just don’t.  

I am too bitter and angry to hear anything but the resounding madness (from the Middle English madnesse: frenzy, rage, and ultimately, insanity) that hums continuously within my head. I have moved past my inherent ability to be rational and calm. Within me I recognize a feral animal that has resided here before. It is a beast that will not be tamed by reason or rationality. It will remain inside, roaring silently in its fury, until it has spent itself.  

That is the unfortunate truth.  

Beyond the edge of the world there’s a space where emptiness and substance neatly overlap, where past and future form a continuous, endless loop. And, hovering about, there are signs no one has ever read, chords no one has ever heard.” ~ Haruki Murakami from Kafka on the Shore

Black on Blue in Black and White

Beyond my own confrontation with things that have lain dormant and the collision with things that are now, there is the truth: Jennifer is dying, will most probably die much sooner than anyone expects. Her friends do not want to hear this. Her brother does not want this to be the reality. The one person who recognizes the truth for what it is—and I am hard-pressed to acknowledge this—is Jennifer’s father, a man who has been absent from her life for many years, a man who now looks on and sees only his baby girl.  

I ran into Jennifer’s father as I was leaving the hospital. The tears were fresh on my face, and I wondered whether I should say anything to him, but he saw me and began to talk. He had a dim memory from Alexis that something similar had happened in our family. That is how long Jennifer and Alexis have been friends.  

We spoke about how sweet and kind Jennifer is, and he told me that she is uncomfortable with all of the kindness she has been receiving. He reminded her that if the situation were different, she would be the first one in line to help. He spoke of the relationship between our daughters, how it has endured after all of the others have moved on, moved away.  

So I stood there under a brilliant autumn sky, and spoke with this man about his daughter’s coming death. He is the one who has been placed in the position to make the decision, the one that no parent should ever have to make. I think that he wanted reassurance that he would not be vilified for making the decision.  

I could not give him that reassurance. I told him honestly that no matter what he decided, he was going to be the villain, that most people would not understand, but I also told him that if he loved Jennifer, he would remember that she is the one who is suffering, that those who look on are suffering in their own right, but their pain should not override hers.  

“He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn.” ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

Enchanted Study in Black and White by Dmitry Budonov

                     

Having never met this man, I knew him intimately in a way that I did not want. I knew his suffering, and I knew his anguish. When we parted, he thanked me for talking to him and told me to drive carefully. I realized that the next time that I will see him will probably be at Jennifer’s funeral.  

I got in the car and allowed myself to weep once more. I looked out and saw him standing outside the entrance to the hospital, the same half-smoked, unlit cigarette in his hand, a look of anticipation on his face, as if fate itself were hurrying to meet him. And beneath that look lay another face: that of a man so wearied by life that it took everything within him to turn back and walk through the glass doors.  

I don’t remember much of the rest of the day. I did what I do whan I am most upset: I drove. And then when it was time, I picked up Brett from school. Yesterday, Alexis told me that Jennifer was feeling much better, that she ate her lunch and even complained about the food.  

We all take what we can get, even the most minute, seemingly insignificant moments, and we place our hopes on them with every ounce of will left us.  

This is what we do.  

More later. Peace.  

Music by Matthew Perryman Jones, “Save You”  

“She seems so cool, so focused, so quiet, yet her eyes remain fixed upon the horizon. You think you know all there is to know about her immediately upon meeting her, but everything you think you know is wrong. Passion flows through her like a river of blood.” ~ Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things

Tuscany Landscape by Marcin Sacha

                   
 

“She is not waiting. Not quite. It is more that the years mean nothing to her anymore, that the dreams and the street cannot touch her. She remains on the edges of time, implacable, unhurt, beyond, and one day you will open your eyes and see her; and after that, the dark. It is not a reaping. Instead, she will pluck you, gently, like a feather, or a flower for her hair.” ~ Neil Gaiman

Crovie Banffshire Scotland by Chris Spracklen

Isn’t the picture above just breathtaking? I have landscapes on the brain today—lush green, gold, and red landscapes, far, far away from here. Imagine living in that house amidst those rolling hills, surrounded by nothing but green. 

It’s Sunday afternoon, and the weather outside is lovely, a temperate 76°F with lots of sun and no clouds. If I had any inkling of motivation, I would sit outside and read a book. Obviously, that is not what I am about today. I’m still recovering from yesterday’s migraine, a pretty foul one that kept me in bed all day with an ice pack glued to my head. It’s always such an attractive look. 

The pain finally ebbed around 2 a.m., and I was almost asleep when the dogs decided that it was time to go out, which meant that by 3 a.m., I was wide awake and full of nervous energy. Hence, I loaded the dishwasher, wiped down the bathroom, and took a shower in the hopes that the warm water would soothe me. No joy. 

Spider solitaire until 5 a.m. Ah, the rich pageantry that is my life. 

“There were always in me, two women at least, one woman desperate and bewildered, who felt she was drowning and another who would leap into a scene, as upon a stage, conceal her true emotions because they were weaknesses, helplessness, despair, and present to the world only a smile, an eagerness, curiosity, enthusiasm, interest.” ~ Anais Nin

Bench, Germany, Svetlana aqua2512

I had thought about dedicating a post to that nut job tea bagger in Delaware, Christine O’Donnell, but what’s the point, really? She lies as it suits her, has a platform that would deny women’s basic rights, and ducks the hard questions. How is she any different from anyone else who is running this November? 

I’m so tired of all of them, dems and reps alike. The right is running on a fear-mongering platform, and the left has essentially tucked its collective tail and run for cover. The president is stumping, but I cannot help but feel that it is too little, too late. 

If the right retakes Congress, we can look forward to a dismantling of the first real healthcare reform in decades, and it’s all so disheartening. Just for grins, I called Optima last week to see if I qualified for health coverage . . . three guesses as to their response . . . pre-existing conditions are a bit of a problem. But let’s make damned sure that we undo what has been done, if for no other reason than principle: the Kenyan socialist enacted it, so we must backpeddle, post-haste. 

Beh. Double beh. 

I have realized that what will kill the dems in November is apathy: We voted for change, real change. We got dribbles and drabs. DADT still exists. Guantanamo still exists. Rendition still exists. Healthcare reform is tepid at best. We’re still pouring money into Afghanistan, and non-combat personnel are still dying in Iraq. And oh yeah, Newt Gingrich still thinks that he’s Speaker of the House. 

Look, I’m not some starry-eyed innocent who doesn’t understand that certain intelligence policies will always exist. I know that Gitmo and places like Gitmo will always be in operation. But can’t change happen on the domestic front at least? 

Get out the vote is going to be damned hard in November, and I don’t foresee long lines of people waiting at 5 in the morning to cast their votes. But how I wish that I could be proven wrong on this one. 

“She was illusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.” ~ Jerry Spinelli 

Unknown Landscape found on Pixdaus

A few things are going well, though. Brett is adjusting well to college, much better than I had hoped, actually. He has joined a club, and has already made a small circle of friends with whom he likes to spend time outside of class. He gets out of bed and gets ready in the morning without any kind of prodding or mood propping by me, and he actually likes going to class. 

The change in him is pretty phenomenal. He has realized that I wasn’t lying when I told him that college was nothing like high school. He isn’t self-conscious about wearing his beret if he wants to, and he has commented that no one on campus looks the same, as in that high school pressure to dress and look like everyone else. 

He had his first test on Friday (in psychology), and he received a B-. Happiness all around. 

I can feel my need to be in protective mode loosening each day as he gains self-confidence and begins to make his own way. I’m really hoping that the worst is behind us, that he will no longer suffer agonizing depressive episodes that paralyze and drain him.  

Now, if I could just see eldest son more than a few minutes ever few weeks, I might be able to feel less anxiety in the parenting department . . . Who am I kidding? We all know that if I’m not worrying about Brett, I’ll just turn my focus on someone else. Speaking of which, Alexis is adrift again. She is sleeping hours and hours and missing time at work. I wish that I knew how to help her. 

“She could never be a saint,
but she thought
she could be a martyr . . .
if they killed her quick.” ~ Flannery O’Connor, “A Temple of the Holy Ghost”

The northern coast of Normandie found on Pixdaus

Since the hearing last week, I have been obsessing about what I did or did not say. If the judge rules in my favor, it will be a mixed blessing at best. I mean, I will be covered under Social Security as far as income and health insurance (unless the Republicans go through with their threat to shut down the government after the election), but at the same time, I will officially be disabled; my name will be on a government roster somewhere, down as unable to work. 

I really don’t know how that makes me feel. Sort of. I mean, it means that I have moved from that group of people who contribute to society to that group of people who take from society. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been paying into the system since I was 16, and I have no qualms about receiving the benefits due me. 

It’s the emotional part. The part in which I feel as if I have been sidelined. Everyone claps when the injured party moves off the field, acknowledging that the injury isn’t life-threatening, but no one in the stands gives another thought to what happens to the person who was taken off on the stretcher, not really. The attention goes back to the ongoing action. 

Okay. I apologize for the sports metaphor, particularly since I do not like most sports, but it’s what came to mind. Now that I’m on the sidelines, apparently for good, now what? Just put it all away and wait until tomorrow? 

I suppose. 

I’ll close with this wonderful quote that I found by Janet Finch from White Oleander

I regret nothing. No woman with any self-respect would have done less. The question of good and evil will always be one of philosophy’s most intriguing problems, up there with the problem of existence itself. I’m not quarreling with your choice of issues, only with your intellectually diminished approach. If evil means to be self-motivated, to live on one’s own terms, then every artist, every thinker, every original mind, is evil. Because we dare to look through our own eyes rather than mouth cliches lent us from the so-called Fathers. To dare to see is to steal fire from the Gods. This is mankind’s destiny, the engine which fuels us as a race.

More later. Peace

Music by Katie Herzig and Matthew Perryman Jones, “Where the Road Meets the Sun” 

“Tribal sovereignty means that; it’s sovereign. I mean, you’re a — you’ve been given sovereignty, and you’re viewed as a sovereign entity. And therefore the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities.” ~ George W. Bush

“Rhetoric does not get you anywhere, because Hitler and Mussolini are just as good at rhetoric. But if you can bring these people down with comedy, they stand no chance.” ~ Mel Brooks

I just so totally stole this from I Want Ice Water (who appropriated it from someone else). No Leftover Fridays of my own could ever even compare to the genius that is World War II via Facebook:

Music by Mavis Staples, “In Times Like These”

“For doing exactly what you think you like all the time makes you feel in the end that nothing at all is worth doing.” ~ John Piper

 Album Cover Art for Brandenburg Concertos, by John Piper

                   

“To me, dreams are not as romantic as bits of real experience.” ~ John Piper

"Death of Venice 1," by John Piper (1973)

Welcome back. I’m sitting here in the pseudo Internet cafe of ODU’s student center waiting for Brett to finish his club meeting. He’s joined an anime club that meets every Thursday evening from 6 to 10 p.m. I’m so happy that he’s actually meeting new people on his own that I have agreed to drive him back and forth to the meetings (in addition to the commute to classes).

Tonight, since Corey’s shift doesn’t end until midnight, I decided to stay here and go ahead and catch up on my Internet work, the primary goal being to make a final decision on which theme I’m going to use for a while and secondly, to put up some kind of post.

As you can see from the header above, I have chosen the theme Vigilance, which puts the title of the blog on the header image. I haven’t done this before, but I think that the title looks pretty cool atop my new image, which is a detail from a work by British artist John Egerton Christmas Piper (1902-1992). The image title is included in a widget on the sidebar.

I thought that a new header image was in order for two reasons: Fall is upon us, and a new theme needs a new look.

“Good paintings in the long run tell their own story—though not in words—for those who have intent eyes, an open mind, and much patience.” ~ John Piper

"Forthinghay, Northamptonshire," by John Piper (1941; image was seen on the living room wall of Dial M for Murder)

So this evening’s post obviously has a Piper theme: quotes and images. I was unfamiliar with this particular artist until I saw the header image on a tumblr post and was immediately taken with it.  

Just a bit of background on Piper: He was born in Epsom Surrey and knew that he wanted to be an artist; unfortunately, he was subjected to that time-honored but often loathed tradition of working for his father as a clerk in the patriarch’s law firm. Eventually, Piper went to art school, ultimately attending the Royal Academy.

Piper’s oeuvre is amazingly far-reaching: sketches, paintings, lithography, prints, scenery design, costumes for opera, ballet, and theater, murals, stained glass, tapestries, and fabric. Piper was keenly interested in landscapes and architecture—other people’s architecture, preferably aged. He once commented that he would “rather paint a ruined abbey half-covered with ivy and standing in long grass.”

“The spread of moss on a wall, a pattern of vineyards or a perspective of hop-fields may be the peg, but it is not hop-poles or vineyards or church towers that these pictures are meant to be about, but the emotion generated by them at one moment in one special plane.” ~ John Piper

"The Glyders Fabric," by John Piper (1960)

One of the more irksome aspects of working on a computer in a public setting is the complete lack of privacy (obviously), but also the inability to tweak the settings on the computer. This particular screen is about half the size of my screen at home, so everything looks smaller to me.

One of the reasons that I changed themes again was that the other theme seemed to be very large (visually) as far as the body typeface, and since I’m not paying for an upgrade to tweak the coding, I’m stuck with the presets. On another note, I’ve noticed that as I’ve moved between themes, the heading sizes are completely inconsistent, so something labeled header 4 in one theme is just right for my internal headers, but then turns into something ginormous when I switch themes.

The perfectionist in me wants to go back to all previous posts and fix the headers and formatting so that everything is consistent, but that would take forever. It just bothers me because someone new to my blog who goes back into the archives might wonder if I was doing some serious drugs when I formatted some of the older posts as things go from very large to very small.

It’s hard to explain exactly, but I know that the differences exist, so that’s enough to drive me batty even though no one else really notices.

“The value of abstract painting to me, and the value of surrealist painting are to me, are (paradoxically, if you like) that they are classical exercises, not romantic expressions. They are disciplines—even dreams can be disciplinarian—which open a road to ones own heart—but they are not the heart itself.” ~ John Piper

"Spring, Youth, Earth" by John Piper (a study for an Ipswich School window)

Today was my hearing with the Judge who will decide my fate as regards Social Security. The lawyer representing me for the insurance company did a great job in preparing me for the hearing. We had already spent an hour on the phone last week, during which time she asked me a barrage of questions, things that I don’t really think about or things that I take for granted. For example, she asked me how long I stand in one place.

I don’t know . . . 15 minutes? Whatever. Have you ever thought about how long you can stand in one place? Didn’t think so. Apparently, it’s a very important measure of something.

So the hearing was supposed to take 30 minutes. We started about 10 minutes late and finished almost an hour later . . . There was some woman in the hearing (don’t really know who she was) who, I am presuming, functioned as some kind of official on jobs. By that I mean after I answered all of the judge’s questions, and after Christine asked me a bunch more questions to clarify certain issues, the judge turns to this woman and asks her what kinds of jobs I would qualify for.

I don’t know where the Department of Labor gets its statistics and descriptions, but boy are they wrong. For example, this woman stated that my position as a sales manager was sedentary. If I had been drinking something at the time, I’m pretty sure that it would have come out of my nose.

Sedentary? Jeez. I worked 60 hours a week on that job, and sitting down was something we did when we made the schedules. Other than that, there was a whole lot of running around, and lots and lots of lifting.

The phrase usual and customary kept running through my head, and I just bit my tongue.

“That, in whatever direction you look, is a subject worthy of contemporary painting. Pure abstraction is undernourished. It should at least be allowed to feed bare on a beach with tins and broken bottles.” ~ John Piper

"Leckhampstead, Berkshire" by John Piper (1964)

Christine (my legal representative) gave me one of those cautionary glances, as in “don’t lose it,” and I kept my mouth shut. Then Christine redirected and asked the women if any of the positions that she had listed would allow for two hours stretches in which I would have to be idle in order to rest as a result of pain (either from my back or from a migraine).

Obviously, the answer is no. Nevertheless, I won’t know anything for 30 to 90 days.

What’s up with that? It takes that long to make a decision. Why? Again with the waiting. I am so damned tired of the waiting. At least I don’t have to do any more forms . . . that is, I think that I don’t have to do any more forms.

I probably should not have put that down in print since the way in which my luck runs, I will probably receive a sheaf of forms in a large manila envelope any day.

The bottom line is that I felt, and Christine concurred, that the hearing went fairly well. I answered questions and elaborated as needed, and I reined in my tendency to get snotty when I’m tired of answering questions. So that hurdle has been crossed. Now, more waiting.

Do I even need to mention for the record that I had a migraine when it was all over?

That’s about all for now. This tiny screen is making me squint and I’ve started to cuss under my breath (always a sign that I should stop).

I appreciate all of the support from those of you out there who have kept a good thought for me. Thanks for hanging in with me. I didn’t disappear (completely). Hope to be posting more regularly now.

More later. Peace.

Music by Soulsavers, “Some Misunderstanding”