Friday afternoon, overcast and drizzle once again, 54 degrees.
Don’t even get me started on the presidential faux state of emergency.
During the night when I opened the door to let the dogs out, I was hit in the face with the smell of impending spring, which is miraculous considering we have horses and the accompanying smell of equine eau du poo. It almost made the sleeplessness worth it. Almost.
I began a post on Monday, picked it up again yesterday, and still haven’t finished it. So . . . should I finish or scrap it and start over? Thoughts, opinions, ideas?
Anyway, enjoy today’s collection.
I want a red hat that says this:
I want a baby elephant . . .
Why all of the reminders about my age?
The entire automotive industry was against seat belts at one time. Now, they spend all of their time trying to out do one another with more and more safety features. Go figure . . .
I cannot even begin to list the number of times this happened to me when I had to get up for work . . .
It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig. Lightly, lightly—it’s the best advice ever given me. When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic. No rhetoric, no tremolos, no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell. And of course, no theology, no metaphysics. Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling, on tiptoes and no luggage, not even a sponge bag, completely unencumbered.
~ Aldous Huxley, from Island (my favorite Huxley quote)
Literary Birthday: Aldous Huxley, born 26 July 1894, died 22 November 1963
15 Aldous Huxley Quotes
The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.
Every man’s memory is his private literature.
There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.
The proper study of mankind is books.
That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.
A bad book is as much of a labor to write as a good one, it comes as sincerely from the author’s soul.
Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.
Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.
I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself
The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.
Maybe this world is another planet’s hell.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.
Hell isn’t merely paved with good intentions; it’s walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too.
That all men are equal is a proposition which at ordinary times no sane individual has ever given his assent.
Huxley was an English writer, best known for his dystopian novel, Brave New World. He also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry. Huxley was a humanist, pacifist, and satirist, who was also well known for his advocacy and consumption of psychedelic drugs.
“I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books. I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.” ~ Hermann Hess, from Demian
I had that dream again, the one in which I am moving/living in the old apartment. This time, it’s much bigger, and my mother has sold her home and we are all going to live together. A friend of ours is helping us to unpack, and there are so many Christmas decorations tucked away in strange places. And then I’m looking at the special pieces that I have gotten from the woman at the museum, the one who gave me my pick of her collection for taking care of everything for her. And some of my favorite pieces are missing, like a gilded punch bowl.
My mother is putting things in the wrong place, and I’m trying not to snap. Then I look in one of the bathrooms and find that it is filthy, that someone has used it like a public restroom, and I am looking for gloves and old towels so that I can clean it. In my mind, I am confused as to whether or not I am with Corey or my ex or my Catholic boyfriend. I’m mostly confused because my ex is acting like he lives there, and I am so confused.
And then I remember the dogs, the ones that I always forget to feed in the dream. When they appear in the dream they are in various stages of illness, and it distresses me, mostly because it’s my fault that I have forgotten that they are in the back yard. But, and this always happens when they appear, I stop to ask myself if anyone has told me about the dogs . . .
“This shaking keeps me steady. I should know. What falls away is always. And is near. I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. I learn by going where I have to go.” ~ Theodore Roethke, from “The Waking”
I dreamed I was Marilyn Monroe, not about her, but I was her. Very, very strange. It was a full-blown story with other people interacting, and my mother, who was MM’s mother, and she was just as weird to MM as she is to me. In fact, most of the people in the dream treated me as MM with a great deal of disdain, and I spent a lot of time trying to convince people that I wasn’t stupid.
I think the dream probably had that slant because of all of the images of Marilyn reading books that show up on my tumblr dash. Apparently she was an avid reader, but I have to wonder if perhaps this belief wasn’t something perpetuated by her publicist so that people would take her more seriously, only in the 50’s and 60’s, blond bombshells weren’t supposed to be taken seriously, so maybe she actually did like to read? Hmm . . .
My world today has been enriched by three incredible poems that I found on my tumblr dash: Michael Lee‘s “Pass On,” Sierra DeMulder‘s “Ninety-Five Grievances to God: Abridged,” and Mark Strand‘s “Eating Poetry.” I plan to use each of them in upcoming posts.
Apparently, there is a blue theme running in the background of my day, hence, most of the accompanying images by my latest discovery—Granville Redmond. Such lovely hues of blue running through his work.
“You hold an absence at your center, as if it were a life.” ~ Richard Brostoff, from “Grief”
I began this post two days ago, maybe three. I honestly don’t remember. The end of the week seemed to be compressed into a few hours. On Thursday, Corey went to do his shift on the ship, only to be told that they were leaving port that afternoon at 4 p.m., which meant that the two days we still thought that we had did not in fact exist. Lots of rushing around, doing last-minute things.
I had planned to watch Olivia on Thursday so that Corey could spend some time with her, so I also had to fit that in, along with getting Brett to campus. Lots of rushing created lots of stress.
On Friday, Brett, Em, and I did more running around, trips to two different Wal Marts, Sally’s Beauty supply for some new nail polish, and a trip to the international market for more of the mochi ice cream that is not my favorite addiction, and by Friday night I was exhausted, but apparently not exhausted enough not to spend all of Saturday afternoon cleaning. I had planned to make French toast and bacon for dinner last night, but that didn’t happen. I ended up eating cheese puffs and trail mix. So healthy.
I guess I’ll do the French toast tonight, that is if I don’t crawl back into the bed and just read.
“I walk slowly into myself through a forest of empty suits of armor.” ~ Tomas Tranströmer, from “Postludium,” trans. Robin Fulton
Anyway, outside of the home front, major things afoot. I watched the live news feed on Friday night of what looked like every cop and FBI agent in Boston as they surrounded this one house in Watertown, waiting to take down the other bombing suspect. It was one of those can’t-look-away scenarios, and then suddenly it was over, and people were pouring into the streets to celebrate.
I kept hearing commentators saying that this kind of takedown wasn’t possible with the Oklahoma City bombings or after the first WTC bombing, but now all first responders are using the same communications network so that everyone can hook into everyone else. Seems odd when you realize just how much technology has advanced the hunting of criminals, making it possible to go from a major catastrophic event on one day to a resolution (as far as capture) just five days later.
I mean seriously—camera footage, cell phone images, the ability to isolate the two perpetrators through a process of elimination, identifying the perpetrators, plastering every possible media source with their pictures, locking down one of the country’s biggest cities and surrounding suburbs, and then, voila. Well, not really voila, but you get my drift.
I guess I’m just amazed when I look at everything that happened so quickly, amazed and relieved, like so many other people.
“I begin now to write down all the places I have not been— starting with the most distant.
I build houses that I will not inhabit.” ~ Keith Waldrop, from “Poet”
Even though I began this post days ago, the blue theme is still fitting, so I’m not going to change the images I had planned.
One thing I’ve been trying to decide whether or not, or how much to write about is my mother’s health. On Wednesday, her doctor’s office called and told her that they wanted to do another CT scan to repeat what was done when she was in the ER. On Thursday morning she went in to have that done. As of yet, we still have not heard anything. She is downplaying it. I had asked her if she wanted me to go with her on Thursday for the scan, and she said no, that it was no big deal.
On Friday, I called to see if she had heard from her doctor and she said that she hadn’t, but that he had lots of patients. I bit my tongue and didn’t say what I was thinking, which is that I don’t care how many patients he has, this is serious, and we need to know what is going on, but I said nothing because to let on how worried I am would only worsen things.
I don’t know what’s going to happen; I don’t know what is wrong with her, perhaps nothing, perhaps something. I only know that when my dad’s doctor called and said that he needed to go in for follow-up tests, he was told he had six months to live, and he lived for less than two. I try not to think of these things, but I do. Of course I do.
I’ll keep my thoughts to myself when I’m talking to my mom, but perhaps I can share them with you?
“At the heart of all beauty lies something inhuman, and these hills, the softness of the sky, the outline of these trees at this very minute lose the illusory meaning with which we had clothed them, henceforth more remote than a lost paradise . . . that denseness and that strangeness of the world is absurd.” ~ Albert Camus
Wednesday afternoon. Cloudy and mild, thunder showers.
Carl Jung again. I’m finding more and more that I really like Jung, but I probably should read more of him before I become a devotee.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about mothers and daughters, the relationships that are carved from necessity and that ineffable fragility that exists between the two. I’ve tried to think of the kinds of things that I’ve told Alexis over the years, and whether or not I’ve been the kind of mother that she has needed.
Truthfully, I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ve always said the right thing, and probably, I have not. I don’t know if I’ve always been the sounding board that she needed, or if I’ve shouldered enough or too much of the burdens that she has borne. No one gives you a manual when you take your first child from the safety of the hospital. Suddenly, you find yourself holding this tiny bundle who has needs, the kinds of needs you have never before had to consider. It gets easier with subsequent children because you have already had to learn what the different cries mean, what the different body postures may signal.
But that first time? You know nothing. It doesn’t matter how much you cared for other children when you babysat for the neighbors or how often you had to take care of younger siblings; with your first child, you enter foreign territory, and it is nothing less than terrifying.
Alexis is entering that territory. She told the family at Christmas that she is pregnant. Surprise!
I had wanted to wait until all of the tests were done and she had passed that iffy 16-week mark before saying anything. She has had to undergo more testing than the average pregnant young woman, mostly because of that unexplained seizure that she had a few years ago. Thankfully, everything seems to be good, normal, whatever that is.
“Everything in life that we really accept undergoes a change. So suffering must become Love. This is the mystery. This is what I must do.” ~ Katherine Mansfield, from The Journal of Katherine Mansfield
So of course, I am filled with trepidation and joy, simultaneously. My daughter is not as strong as I was at that age; that is simply an observation, not a criticism. She is an entirely different kind of person. Everything worries her, and she becomes emotionally distressed easily. Having said that, I have noticed that she seems to be handling this rather tremendous life change with a kind of quiet grace.
This is not to say that she doesn’t have her meltdowns. Hormones, that and the fact that she cannot take her usual medications. She is a bundle of raging, unchecked hormones. Thankfully, Mike is very excited about becoming a daddy, and he seems to be balancing her well.
Now ask me how my mother took the news? Not well. She made a rather biting comment in front of everyone, and then said that she was joking and couldn’t understand why everyone got so upset. Luckily, she has since progressed a bit and is now purchasing baby clothes. Regardless, her initial horror at the news really affected Alexis adversely, understandably.
Which brings me back to my original thought: mothers and daughters.
“The tiny space I occupy is so infinitesimal in comparison with the rest of space, which I don’t occupy and which has no relation to me. And the period of time in which I’m fated to live is so insignificant beside the eternity in which I haven’t existed and won’t exist . . . .” ~ Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons
I am hard on my mother, judgmental, critical. And I have to wonder if Alexis views me in the same light. I would like to think that this is not the case, that I have managed to carve out a good relationship with my daughter, even though I know that it has not always been good, that there have been times when the estrangement between us has seemed to vast to ever be repaired.
I have not always liked the males that she has chosen as boyfriends, nor have I always liked those she has chosen as friends. I think that those things are probably standard fare for mothers—thinking that the person with your daughter or son is not good enough, believing that your daughter or son does not make the wisest choices when it comes to friends. No matter. Alexis has a tight group of friends that she has been with since grade school, and she has been with Mike for nine years. Obviously, I was wrong about some things.
But I suppose what I am really wondering is if I have instilled in her the knowledge that she needs to face this big new adventure in her life, whether or not I have shown her by example how important it is to love even when it is hard to love, even when everything within screams NO, I will not, because even though you may not want to, sometimes with children it is better to give that inch in order to gain the years.
Does that make sense?
When you are a mother, you subsume so much of your own personality at certain points in order that your child or children can become stronger individuals. You bite your tongue, or you walk away, even when you really don’t want to. And those mothers who are unable to do this, mothers like my own mother, are never able to retain their own identities, continue to live through their children, long after their children have become separate individuals. And conversely, mothers who have very strong personalities, such as myself, must take care not to try to impose that personality on their child or children.
It’s so easy to think of your child as a miniature version of yourself when you first start out. So many people come up to you and say things like, “She looks just like you,” or “She has your eyes and nose,” or whatever. It is much more difficult to remember that genetics are not destiny.
“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.” ~ Aldous Huxley, Island
In other words, just because this tiny individual looks like you does not mean that she is you. And that’s a hard but important lesson to learn—early. And while I am talking mostly about mothers and daughters, the same is true of fathers and sons, or parents and children in general.
My god, it’s hard. It’s hard not to invest everything in this little person, and I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t invest everything. I’m only saying that it’s so important to remember that at some point there is going to be a separation, a time in which that little person is no longer little, no longer your mirror image, no longer content to live life as you see fit, and that point, that moment is when so many parents fail.
They try to hard to hold on with everything they have in any way that they know how, whether it is by proximity or money or guilt or something else.
As an only child, I have always felt that I could not move too far away from my mother because who else is there to be there in emergencies, like when she falls and breaks her leg? And even though I write often about my longing to be elsewhere to see other countries, I know that I am bound to this place indefinitely. I would be lying if I said that a part of me doesn’t resent this, but I also know that in the end, family is family, and my mother has me, only me, which is why she is determined to hold on so tightly, to try to control things in any way that she can.
“what matters most is how well you walk in the fire.” ~ Charles Bukowski, from “how is your heart?”
So in the end, what have I taught my daughter, my children? What things do I hope she retains in her reservoir of knowledge that may be of some use to her in the coming months and years?
That voices raised in anger can say things that can be as damaging as a hand raised in anger
That a hand raised in anger can do irreparable harm
That the words I love you cannot be spoken too often
That calling a child a hurtful name is the same as marking that child
That hugs are for sharing
That it is more important to listen than to hear
That promises are meant to be kept
That a child remembers if you break a promise
That children learn trust from being trusted
That there is no good time to lie to a child
That compassion for others helps you to be a better person
That beauty can be found in unexpected places
That the toilet seat should be down
That body image is cultivated at home first
That tenderness should be expressed frequently
That hatred for others who are different is learned not inherited
That it’s okay to be silly at weird times
That we are stewards of the earth
That music and art are important aspects of life
That it is impossible to spoil a baby
That babies are meant to be held
That Law & Order is the best show that has ever been on television
That your children see and hear more than you realize
That truth is paramount
That a loving relationship with your partner helps your children to form loving relationships
That respect should never be taken for granted
That you only have one body and you should respect it
That you should always look someone in the eye when you shake their hand
That being tolerant should never be underestimated
That animals are sentient beings and must be treated as such
That until you have walked in another’s shoes you should not judge
That stuffed animals do in fact need homes
That words hold more power than you can ever imagine
That the rich should pay more taxes
That simply being a celebrity of any sort does not imply being a good person
That the Golden Rule is the most important rule of all.
“Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.” ~ Sarah Kay
I know that I’m running long, but what it boils down to is this: I cannot remember the last time that my mother told me that she loved me. It has been years, maybe even since my father died. I tell each of my children and Corey that I love them anytime they leave the house and before I hang up the phone. Is this too much? Can you say such a thing too much?
My mother’s constant patting of body parts and the tsks that followed taught me to be ashamed of my body. I hate my neck because she spent years telling me to do exercises to get rid of my double chinssss. I hate my belly because she does not hesitate to pat it and say something like “you’ve gained weight.”
My mother’s inability to trust, especially my father, made it very hard for me to trust men. And her difficulty in showing intimacy gave me very mixed signals as a teenager. I was taught that sex was dirty and an obligation, and while I realize that this is a generational thing, don’t think for a second that being taught such a thing didn’t screw me up.
I want my daughter to bring her daughter into this world full of hope and a recognition that there are always possibilities. That heredity is not destiny and that we are only limited by ourselves. And one more thing: I will actually be a real Lola now.
More later. Peace.
Music by Peter Bradley Adams, “I May Not Let Go”
that so many commonplace miracles happen.
An ordinary miracle:
in the dead of night
the barking of invisible dogs.
One miracle out of many:
a small, airy cloud
yet it can block a large and heavy moon.
Several miracles in one:
an alder tree reflected in the water,
and that it’s backwards left to right
and that it grows there, crown down
and never reaches the bottom,
even though the water is shallow.
An everyday miracle:
winds weak to moderate
turning gusty in storms.
First among equal miracles:
cows are cows.
Second to none:
just this orchard
from just that seed.
A miracle without a cape and top hat:
scattering white doves.
A miracle, for what else could you call it:
today the sun rose at three-fourteen
and will set at eight-o-one.
A miracle, less surprising than it should be:
even though the hand has fewer than six fingers,
it still has more than four.
A miracle, just take a look around:
the world is everywhere.
An additional miracle, as everything is additional:
Gate of Wishes, Mrtivica Canyon, Montenegro (Pixdaus)
“The more I see, the less I know for sure.” ~ John Lennon
Saturday afternoon. Temperatures hovering above 100° F. Thunderstorms.
I awoke with another headache, nothing new. Not too bad, but lots and lots of pressure in my forehead and behind my eyes. Probably due to the barometric pressure and the heat.
Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in years: I went outside during a rain shower and got in the pool. It was so refreshing. The air temperature dropped a bit, and the water cooled. The dogs joined me for a few minutes, but Shakes doesn’t much care for rain. Tillie stayed out with me for the duration. It didn’t rain long, but I enjoyed myself while it did.
I was hoping to do the same again today, but unfortunately the rain is accompanied by thunder and lightning. Even I have enough sense not to get in a metal-clad pool in the middle of a thunderstorm.
I just glanced at my weather icon, and the temperature has dropped 8 degrees in the last fifteen minutes. Now that’s change I can live with . . .
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” ~ Oscar Wilde, “Lady Windermere’s Fan”
Monday afternoon. Not nearly as hot.
So I got distracted . . . where was I? Oh yes, drama.
Woke up this morning to lovely news: we should expect a drop-in visit from Adult Protective Services. Whatever . . .
The ongoing drama at our house had been calm for far too long. I knew to expect something soon, and I wasn’t disappointed. Apparently, the pest (nicest word I can think to use for this person), reported Em’s case worker and our home as being . . . shall we say, unfit? Charges include holding her against her will, all of us being insane (I told you this person wasn’t wrapped too tight), beating her down continually (not sure if that was meant to be literal or metaphorical), ya da ya da ya da . . .
In the inestimable words of W: Bring. It. On.
I mean, we have absolutely nothing to hide here. We are exactly as we purport ourselves to be: a middle class family in the burbs that is making ends meet. We have a home, food in our pantry, all of the accoutrements, as it were. We do not claim to be wealthy because we are not. We do not claim to have all of the answers because we do not. We do claim to have a healthy living environment for our family because we do. We do claim to know a few things about people who face challenges in life because we do. We do claim to be good parents because we are.
So when I heard that APS was going to come by, my response was what it only could be: Okay. Whatever. Tell them to drop by as they like because we have nothing to hide.
So they did. Today. A very nice woman who sat down with Em and asked her basic (and I mean basic) questions: Are you able to dress yourself? Yes. Do you take care of your own physical hygiene? Yes. Do you know how to do things around the house? Yes (she does now). Can you get your own food or does someone have to do it for you? Get it myself and can cook a little . . . and lots more in that vein, and then . . . Are you happy? I am now.
We left Em alone with the case worker so that the woman wouldn’t think that we were trying to sway her answers or to influence her unduly (because that’s what I do, you know. I beat people down until they are simpering idiots who have no will of their own . . . right.) The case worker asked her more questions that I didn’t hear because I wasn’t listening. Then I invited her to look through our house, as it were.
Dreaded visit over, and everyone survived. And the case worker didn’t even flinch over Em’s shaved head, which she is loving, by the way, especially since no one has asked her to wear a hat to hide her ears. Of course, after the case worker left I took all of the illegal drugs out of the hall closet, and I let the dozen or so illegal aliens out of the bathroom, and I got back to making the homemade meth that I was cooking up in the kitchen along with barbecued ribs.
It’s a joke, people. Of course, I know that sentence will come back in another form somewhere, but at this point, I am so over it.
“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” ~ Aldous Huxley
You might think that such a visit and the results would put a normal person’s mind at ease, that the news that a completely unbiased third party witnessed the supposedly downtrodden young woman healthy and happy would be welcome news. You would think, but the key word here is normal. I know that this saga isn’t over. There will be more frantic telephone calls to whoever will listen. There will be more tossing about of the family name in an attempt to curry favor. There will be more stealing of passages of my blog to try to show how insane I am. There will be more disparaging remarks regarding my character, the character of my family.
As I’ve said before, when I need to, I can have the patience of Job. The more chest-banging this other person does, the less I need to justify myself. And dare I say it? I don’t really have anything to justify. I took in a young woman who felt trapped and mentally abused. I offered a safe haven to a person who did not feel safe, for various reasons. She is healthy. She is happy. She is safe.
I can do no more than what I have already done and what I continue to do—be myself—be patient, be sympathetic and empathetic, be a sounding board when needed.
Oh, and by the way, the illegal things? Puleez. But the part about Em’s shaved head is true; she just hasn’t died it blue yet . . .
“The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Even though I’m spending a lot of effort here bitching, I’m actually not at all peeved. Instead, what I really feel is a deep sense of pity. You might think that I’m a sap for feeling pity for an individual who is set upon my ruin, for the person who does not hesitate to disparage me to anyone who will listen, but that is indeed what I feel.
I cannot say that I have ever encountered anyone exactly like this particular individual before, but I have encountered people who are filled with such a determined sense of entitlement and righteousness: They are the only ones who are right, and everyone else is wrong. They are entitled to have this or to be given that because of a skewed sense of self-importance.
Unfortunately, my encounters with this personality type most often have occurred when dealing with members of boards of directors, especially in the arts. I cannot tell you how many people, women especially, who banked everything on their last names. They would meet me, hear my unusual, distinctly not patronage-linked last name, and immediately make assumptions about my value to them. If I could, in fact, give them something they needed or desired, then they would deign to be polite to me, but if my existence did not in any way benefit them, then I simply ceased to matter.
The first time that this happened, I was highly affronted, and my alpha side reared its head: You will listen to me because I do know exactly what I am talking about . . . I may as well have been barking at the moon for all of the good that it did me. This personality type is impermeable to reality, well, at least the reality in which so many of us exist. I took a lesson from my director, who was a very soft-spoken, wise man when he told me that I simply could not treat these people using logic because in their worlds, Copernicus was wrong, and the universe did indeed revolve around their spheres.
“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.” ~ Ansel Adams
I have written about self-entitlement before, but usually as it pertains to teenagers and how we have an entire generation of people who think that they deserve whatever they want simply because. It’s not often that I encounter someone from my own generation who operates with this same sense of entitlement. People within my age group have usually worked hard to get to the points in our lives at which we find ourselves. Many of us our self-made, and many people I know are second generation to this country.
Being second generation (even on one side) imbues those of us like this with a strong work ethic because the desire not to fail our parents is extremely important. Being second generation also means that few of us have family names on which to fall back. We have made our own names, and we don’t depend upon our ancestors to define us. I cannot imagine being the kind of person to make requests simply because of what my name happens to be, but I have met people like this, and they have no qualms about throwing around that name as if it we still lived in a system with peers and nobles.
I think that part of what makes me strong is the fact that I have worked for everything that I have, that my parents came from humble beginnings and worked and saved for everything that they had. I’m proud to come from working-class stock. I was taught the value of a dollar, and I was taught that respect is something to be earned, not something to be bestowed upon someone simply because of who they are.
So what it boils down to is that in the midst of all of this, I try to retain my patience, and I try to retain my sense of humor, much taxed though they may be. And when in doubt, I remember the rule of three: that what we send out into the world comes back to us threefold.
Karma. It’s a bitch.
More later. Peace.
Music by The Morning After Girls, “Hidden Spaces”
Picture of the Author with Vice President
That’s me on his left. If neither one of us
looks comfortable, it’s because I said
I’m sorry to hear about his heart.
A small machine, he says, sends tiny sparks
in there, to pace the flow of blood.
Some people will dispute this photo; his office
has denied it’s me; but I have to believe
I am in the picture. It’s awkward, yes,
for we don’t know each other;
and if he’s known as a man who keeps
public secrets, I’m not known at all.
Even so, he and I share something
that we cherish, deeply, which is our love
of trout. On his Wyoming ranch, he owns
a trout stream for himself. When I raise
the question—How’s the fishing?—he will rise
to the subject, and we will have grown
a little closer, having now disclosed
a passion no one, having known, lets go.
And he, too, is a man who knows cold blood
of trout cares nothing for who you are.
Nor do they care who owns the land
their water flows within: So long
as land and stream stay clean, they live.
Because I must rely on public lands
to find—weighed out in the flash
of a trout’s brilliant scales—that cleanly order,
I’m concerned about his sympathy
with those who call such places “undeveloped.”
But I know better than to say as much
to a man who’s so well versed
in the rhyming of ecology with economy—
abstract nets that hold so many tangibles,
such as meadow grass that filters silt
so cutthroat trout may have clean beds
of gravel for their spawning redds;
or the English teacher whose hopes
for a pay raise float on the promise
of a growing tax base—in other words,
the new sport coat I’m wearing
in the photo, bought for this occasion.
Still, I want to believe in the heart
of a man who would fish a barbless fly
for a trout, and let it go; who would spend
that much time to be where trout live, to step
so softly in their stream, they do not frighten.
So I am going to tell him a story
about the Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico,
and a man who lived there. By all accounts,
William Myers knew the land, but owned
none of it. Had no money, so in order to live
in the mountains, he bartered work
for the privilege of staying in
other people’s second homes.
One day, he drove his ATV up a ridge
to scout the most likely route to run a pipe
to his friend’s house. He lit a cigarette,
studied the forest floor, as he’d often done
for fresh deer lies, bear scat, a crop of mast
that might draw wild turkeys in.
Whether it was a spark from the ATV
or the cigarette, he didn’t know; but he was sure,
he told police, that it was he who caused the fire.
That night, a glowing orange blemish on the sky;
by next day, a dry mist with a taste
of wet paper. Nine thousand acres
of forest he had hunted, ponds and creeks
he’d fished—the bell-note of hummingbird wings,
the raccoon crooning to her pups—gone up
in a surf of flame; sap-laden pines burst
like the improvised gas-and-bottle bombs
he’d learned to make in the army. Helicopters
dropped fire-retardant chemicals on a woods
he’d loved but never owned, and never meant
to burn. They fell in scarlet plumes, like blood
that must have sprayed from his skull
when he stood in front of the gun
he held in his own hand, and fired.
—Well, it may have been the words
like blood, and skull, and gun,
that made the men in sunglasses bring
our conversation to a polite, efficient end.
Or it could have been my agitation
over a man who took responsibility—
who, as his scribbled farewell letter read,
could never live with what he had destroyed.
“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.
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
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.
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.