Absolute Zero

“If the positive absolute zero is the point at which all motion stops, then the negative absolute zero is the point where all motion is as fast as it possibly can be.”

Hey.  I am distracted.  I wish to respond to your post about dark, but somehow I’m stuck on absolute zero.  Zero and absolute.  -459.67 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

The Bee Meeting – Plath

Yesterday, I left my desk, walked half a mile to get to my car, parked in the dirt lot, took a tram a little way…and by the time I got from my desk to the car twenty minutes was gone. I then drove forty-five minutes to be fourteen minutes late for the dentist.  He rescheduled me.  I am still trying to find someone to get rid of the 200 yellow jackets in the siding by the garden hose.  The carpet needs cleaning.  Dinner needs to be made nightly- somehow. The dogs need baths.  I need to call the school counselor, who left a message that there are no more drop/adds.  We need a drop/add. That ended on Friday.  No one should cry about homework, not nightly.  Especially not my beautiful kid.  That is not as school is intended to be.  She needs more math before Physics.   It’s too much. 

I can’t abide the rules anymore.  I’m beginning to feel I’m hardly fit for this society.

“I’m tense and nervous and I can’t relax/I can’t sleep ’cause my bed’s on fire/Don’t touch me I’m a real live wire”  Talking Heads

“Tycho Brahe, Qu’est-ce que c’est /Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa?”   – The Klaxon Kluge

So let’s go back to dark.  Women were the shaman, or as men like to say, the witches, the keeper of the potions, the gatherers in the hunter gatherer equation.  Close to the herbs, gathering the food.  Somehow all that has changed.  Darkness…the absence of light….heart of darkness…dark emotional states… burning at the stake in the night.

(c) Paintings Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Eve and the Serpent.  William Blake

 Let’s get dark and make it better.  Dark like dance around the bonfire darkly.  Gypsy music dark.  Dark like we know the secrets of the stars better than anyone.  After all, we have things like “women’s intuition.”  I’m a firm believer.  I know the names of wildflowers.  Dark is like the darkest poetry.  Colombian Coffee.  Dark as if Plath came out from all of it alive and smiled at the wind in the leaves. 

Our children, my son, our daughters- they are good people.  So where do these others come from?  The ones with all the untenable rules?  The ones that see women as less?  The ones who are ok with viewing polite as subservient? The men who use “locker room talk?”   I’m afraid I’ll be unemployable soon…I speak my mind too much to work for someone who has a boss.  I need to be my own boss.  Or work from home.  Plus the drive is clearly really inconvenient.

I forget why we studied Absolute Zero. It reminds me of 2001 A Space Odyssey – the absoluteness. The weird music.  Something to do with laws of motion, liquid dynamics. Maybe the possibility of superfluid crystals.  Something happens, something about molecules slowing, lining up?  Is time travel possible at absolute zero?  Or maybe transporters?  Teleportation.  Maybe, being from Phoenix, I liked the idea of ice so cold it stops everything…and an orderly arrangement of molecules.  Order vs. chaos. Scientific god.

I bought a tote that changes colors when it hits daylight.  My nails are tiger eyes.  The nail technician uses a little magnet to pull all the glitter in the polish in one direction.  They sparkle.  Magnetism.   Thanks Carl Sagan. 

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My nails

Absolute zero is like little Madelines, -in an old house in Paris covered with vines,  lived twelve little molecules in two straight lines. 

Things to think about more deeply for me, for future posts:
1)  There are those that live in the castles, and those that build them.
2)  There are people who can kill their own yellow jackets, and there are people who pay for that.
3)  There are those that can afford healthcare, and those who do not have healthcare or vacations.
4)  Women are lugging around a huge historical burden….from Joan of Arc to Amelia Earhart.   From Auntie Em to Auntie Mame.  From Marilyn Monroe to Mother Jones to Mother Teresa.  And all the women with one name. Cher, Madonna, Oprah, Eleanor,
5)  Many women change their surnames.  It’s rare for men.  John Lennon became John Ono Lennon.  There are also men with one name.  Bono. Cash. Rockefeller.  Hemingway.
6)  Things are very different for men and women at adolescence.
7)  Things are also different at menopause.
8)  Ms. Miss, Mrs.  —  men don’t deal with this.
9)  Both men and women WITH children live different lives than men or women WITHOUT children.  (And no everyone shouldn’t have  children. )
10)  It physically hurts for a woman to experience childbirth.  Also the most natural thing:  breastfeeding.   Men have no equivalent.  (and no, not everyone should give birth or even breastfeed.)
I just want to say….there are some pretty big differences happening here.   My experiences, major things in my life are very different from every one I meet.

I am not cooking any eggs.  Can you see her:   Sylvia?  She walks calmly down the sidewalk.  She doesn’t care about anything but the words in her head…the Van Gogh of colors on the distant hills, and the grey of the sidewalk at her feet.   She wakes up alive.  She writes.   But tell me, does she have to be tormented to be Sylvia Plath?  God I hope not.

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I wish I could stave off both outer and inner darkness, especially with winter coming. Nothing is absolute.  And zero, forget about it.  I see things changing.  I see some brightness ahead for women.  It’s just taking a lot of  time.   In the meantime, there are all these stupid appointments.

madeline

Daily Prompt: disobey

j

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Dark

imagesToday I am dark.  It’s September, my favorite month in Oregon and here I sit, dark.   I am dark even on this pleasant morning, when the weather is warm but cool, and even though today is predicted to hit the triple digits,  I can anticipate that in a few weeks the sideways light won’t erupt into an early autumnal scorcher.  Of course, it’s not quite yet fall. It’s still summer, just the end of it, so the season has  a right to be as hot as it wants. By the calendar we can’t even call it “Indian summer”, a ridiculous term anyway, because Indians didn’t make it hot and they bear no responsibility for heat waves.

I am dark about women, and how willing we still are to be oppressed, raped, dismissed, and told we have no or lesser talent. The New York times doesn’t help.  I read the article about how a taxi driver in El Salvador tells his fare about his expectant wife and how he doesn’t want a girl . “They are trouble” because they get raped and killed in El Salvador.  Now, my friend, how is it that the girl is trouble when that happens? Why isn’t it “I don’t want a boy, they go out and rape and kill people, they’re such trouble?”

Now I know you have a son, and you love him very much, and I am certain he would never do such things. I do not have a son, but I have met my daughters’ male friends and they seem honest, kind, unlikely to assault people, and basically good people. (for the most part). One of them pulled a drowning boy from a lake, just last week. Well done, lad!

Just because most men and boys are basically good people doesn’t answer my fundamental question, though. Why is it that women are blamed for their own assaults, abuses mostly inflicted by men, and the misbehavior of their husbands,sons, fathers, and so on? I knew women who complained bitterly about Hillary and clearly believed that she was “in on it” and didn’t stop Bill because she wanted it that way. Like you can stop someone from sexual adventures. Like you can stop anyone.  On the other hand, I’ve never once have a heard of a woman’s husband being blamed for her “wanton ways”. Have you ever heard “well, he didn’t keep her happy, so …who can blame her?” Nope. Never once.

She’s a whore and a home wrecker. ..but…He was unhappy.  People get mad at him for wandering, sure, but underneath (is it just me? tell the truth) we know it’s the wife’s fault. Sort of. She’s a the victim, the sad Madonna, but ..what did she do? Must have been something. Maybe something she failed to do.

Now here’s the next corollary on this topic, and I’m sad to report it. Last week my (female) boss and one of my colleagues at work, also female, apologized for their math.  One of them feigned ignorance and asserted her own incompetence to get a better explanation, something along the lines of “well, I’m not that bright, so maybe if you’d explain it to me”.  The other apologized for PERFECTLY ACCURATE MATH so as not to offend our (now get this) FEMALE boss in chief.  No men involved! Not a one!  I say this with the aforementioned darkened heart…they have internalized this myth about “it must be my fault”. What the hell?

I yelled at both of them. Not real loud, but I did insist that neither of them would apologize like that again.  Did you really think you didn’t understand the MATH?  I told my boss. That’s correct..you read that right.  I told my direct supervisor to stop fake apologizing immediately.  What, I ask you,  is wrong with saying, wow, I see that differently. My numbers don’t add up that way. I wonder how we’re coming to conflicting conclusions. Do you have to imply that you are somehow not that bright?

I ask you my friend, what are we to do?   There are entire countries where women are forbidden an education, young girls are forced into marriages with dried up old prunes, and many adjust their style of clothing so as not to provoke, upset, stimulate, worry, embarrass, or otherwise impinge on male sensibilities and self control.  What’s worse, I fear that they believe this is for their OWN GOOD and of course, if men are told they just can’t control themselves, in some ways it is for their own good, because who knows what can happen.  The US is no bastion of equality either.  One of my friends at work explained to me that she was the only girl in a family of boys, and was the only one who had to clean up the house, and of course, to clean up after her brothers.  She is younger than I am.  She’s from one of the fine neighborhoods depicted in Hillbilly Elegy, which, by the way, isn’t that great of a book.

I don’t even want to guess what it’s like where you live.

I think we’ve lost ground since the 1980s,  I’m dismayed to say.  I don’t want to wait for this to get better. We each have two daughters.  I do not doubt their intelligence and capability.   I was blinded in some ways by my adventurous mother who told me I could do anything I wanted. I thought there was nothing wrong. I can see more clearly now, so I am more in the dark. I do not blame my mother; she created the confidence I have and not being fully aware of the obstacles, I was able to flourish with less self doubt.  Others are not so lucky.

Here’s a start. For now,  I’m going to insist, each and every time I see it, that women do not apologize for the crimes and misdemeanors of others or imply that they are not capable.  Got any other ideas?

 

 

 

 

 

Spheres

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McMinnville, Oregon August 21, 2017 7:13 am

The sun, the moon, the earth.

The fortieth anniversary of the Voyager Spacecraft launching was eclipsed by, well, the eclipse.  Because our little party of five couldn’t cope with after eclipse traffic out of  the little town of McMinnville, Oregon, we took advantage of the local museum’s invitation to extend our visit after the moon blocked out the sun.  The  Evergreen Air and Space Museum had hosted an early morning coffee, donuts and parking lot event for those who could get to the edge of totality and could spring for a $5 ticket.  As an added bonus, the museum threw over its usual program of events for a free viewing of a program about Voyager I and II, the unmanned probes that managed fly by scannings of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

I cried my way through a lot of a big screen PBS documentary.

I might have been a bit overtired after the 4am departure time for the big event. I had driven my old (now my daughter’s ) ancient minivan, long without working air conditioning, for about an hour and then waited in the dark and early dawn in a car line at the museum parking lot entrance for another hour.  I stared at the sun for about an hour and 15 minutes before it went dark for the extraordinary 56 seconds. Afterwards, I  waited a long time for lunch at a local diner, because there was one heck of a lot of people trying to get some eggs and recover from the  stunning event in the sky.

Maybe I’m just an overtired old lady,  or maybe it was something else.

My parents’ “family room” had a wall of books and several shelves were devoted to copies of National Geographic. It’s hard to imagine now, but those magazines were considered near to gold to our family. They were not to be cut up, drawn in, or thrown away. They had the keys to interesting happenings all over the world, and there were color pictures.  I remember a giant tree that a car could drive through. I remember photos of huge white capped mountains, some of which I live near today.

Most of all, I remember a fold out color diagram of the solar system with a picture of the Voyager Spacecraft and the plan for its launch when I got to High School!!! and the dates it would pass by each planet. I looked at each date and I marveled at how old I would be when it got to each planet. I read about the golden record that was meant as a message to aliens. I wondered if I might be living on the moon, or at least have visited, by the time I was…what? 47?  Would I even live that long?  Would the aliens have found the record by the time I was that old?

Even at age 8 or 9, I thought the alien contacts perhaps a remote possibility.  I was a sensible kid.  A trip to the moon, well, maybe not so hard.  That certainly was possible. Perhaps on Pan Am.

Getting older in some ways is about getting more realistic. Since Voyager, by all accounts an astounding success (we are still receiving signals, and both vessels have left the solar system) we had the tragedy of two space shuttle accidents , more glories with the Martian Rover and some failed efforts with travel to the Red Planet as well.  As a younger person, I expected progress to be linear. Line em up, get it done.  If you can get to the moon, off we go to Mars. No unexpected explosions.  Science rules.

I  fully expected a Mars colony by now. Apparently not so simple.  Mars, as it turns out, is pretty far away, and there’s no air. Weird stuff happens to living beings when you stick them out in a small space capsule for a long time. Building materials are expensive to transport.  People are adapted to life on, well, Earth.

On top of all that they demoted Pluto.

I really do wish in some ways I could have been an astronaut, but my applied math skills are solidly above average and not outstanding. I tend to get motion sick and my eyes were out of focus by first grade. So, physiology and inclination led me in other directions.  I have had to come to terms with my limited contribution to human progress, and I’m not sure I’ve done much at all. I envy those space engineers who know, beyond a doubt, that they have contributed something extraordinary with the design and execution of Voyager.

So human beings are limited, and somewhat disappointing, and life is wondrous and disappointing and  and we occupy the tiniest bit of space and time, and it’s what we’ve got, and the eclipse, with its unexpected changes in the weather and the wind, along with the eery absence of daylight, was both shocking and awe inspiring.  Carl Sagan’s voice ( I smiled, I hadn’t heard it for years) in the movie, with  his signature “billions and billions of stars in the universe” and his eloquent description of the how the earth looks from Neptune, a tiny, tiny blue dot, with “everyone who you know, and ever knew, and everyone who ever lived” is on that dot, and how that dot  is barely visible from one of our nearest planetary neighbors, and how it is easily mistaken for a speck of dust on a photographic print.  Dr. Sagan’s voice is  clear, and in the movies I remember my childhood, and am aware that just hours before,  I watched a full horizon twilight, and watched the sun go out, and looked at my daughter’s face, and the faces of her friends, and knew that we take life, with all its limitations, and something as basic as the sun, and its satellite, the moon, for granted.

 

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McMinnville, Oregon August 21, 2017 about 10:18 am.  The sun.th

Dr. Carl Sagan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sb4WhNvLRFw  The Pale Blue Dot

 

Glass Spheres

“… The lunatic is on the grass./ The lunatic is on the grass./ Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs./ Got to keep the loonies on the path.” – Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon

No one from my office had a camera.  We looked around at each other and the human spectacle.  We looked at our feet on the sidewalk…we made small talk.  The sky was blue, and there wasn’t much wind.  Someone had a welder’s mask, like a ritual mask from a different time.

I was expecting an alien invasion with Independence Day destruction.  What else could there be, with tiny bright crescents in the tree shadows, the spiders taking down their webs, birds falling from the sky, mosquitoes believing in their blood dusk, the confusion of wandering herds, distant crop circles bringing in the day? 

An acquaintance of mine, a famous writer from some invaded place with trilled “rrrr”’s and Klingon sounding words… said that as children they would stain pieces of glass with smoke and soot by holding them over a candle….and watch an eclipse that way. 

We escaped the office, hundreds of us, to watch the shadow of the moon.  A group of strangers trading vision, a way to get outside, something different in the daily routine.  No camera to trap the images in paper, no souvenir to save.  Memory a useless thing. I saw the crescent of sun behind dark glasses.   No totality of darkness, just a moment of cold and soft light.  

The gathering of the tribe to watch the Sun…the immediacy of that moment…from the office to the meadow.  All of us….no bell sounded, we all journeyed out.  People who are looking at the world as if they’re not a part of it.  You’ve written about life seen from behind glass, the homeless people seen in the park from a skyscraper window, the sculpture of an Indian – a spirit locked in a museum, the perfect workers behind the boxes of one building, held inside the window of another.  Workers encrusted in the language of glass.  

It’s a point of view I understand, the outsider, the alien,  such a word with its many connotations… foreign, an immigrant, an outsider, an original, an emoticon, a stranger in a strange land.  It’s easy to feel alienated, disconnected, disenfranchised.  We’re riding a merry-go-round, travelers in a circle that seemingly isn’t going anywhere.  Time draws a straight line through it.  We look through a glass, darkly.  Not part of the culture of the office, not part of the people in the park….we live in our little boxes, on the hillside, with our ticky-tacky lives, seeking Melvina Reynolds songs to give us courage. 

It’s an interesting thought: we travel from screen to screen.  Maybe window to window, like a woman locked in a tower before she goes mad.   Glass screen to glass…the world filtered away, or focused into parts and realities we can choose and  can bear and carry.  Such a different reality from that of a man in a teepee, or a sod hut, a Hogan or yurt, or that of say, a woman in a cabin.  Their world being what they can see from the flap of a tent, or a nice knotty-pine porch.  The first people named the grasses and the constellations and the animals and the trees.  The wildflowers.  I feel like we can’t see the stars anymore…somehow we’re looking into the ground, into our own graves.

You reminded me of things behind glass…zoo animals, the butterflies of Nabokov,  pastries in Paris, or Lenin in his glass coffin…we’ve purchased tickets and are lined-up to visit.  A gruesome show to put a body behind glass.  Must stay away from glass boxes and go where the ragged people go.  Throw away the ticket stub.  And yet, how beautiful glass can be.  The altering of light.  Again I wish to alter time, to be with you when the sun went dark!   I could’ve, but so many plans I didn’t make.

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“Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him, Or as flying in an airplane does to falling out of an airplane.”   –Annie Dillard 

Martian snow and diamond rain.  The words themselves a beautiful combination. 

“..let the sunshine, let the sunshine in…”  – Age of Aquarius, Hair

We are eclipsed by our faults, we can’t achieve the focus or experience of a lifetime now, too late.  Ironic now that we understand that the best way to make a difference is to focus on just one thing.  Jane Goodall always outdid us all.  And Yo-Yo Ma.  But how can a person not want to study everything, every single thing?  The best things I know are the names of wildflowers….but of course there is the accompanying image.  Useless information really.  It’s necessary to eat, and to take care of our own health and welfare.   On the grand scale, the focus of our society should be on human being’s health and welfare, and how obviously our madness has no bounds.  That is to say, mental health care should be of primary concern….

Middle English lunatik, from Anglo-French or Late Latin; Anglo-French lunatic, from Late Latin lunaticus, from Latin luna; from the belief that lunacy fluctuated with the phases of the moon.

Our leaders talk in circles and we watch them from our tiny screens.   The shadow of the moon traveling across the U.S. at 18,000 mph, hits quickly, making history and destroying history….because it replaces the past experience of men…how did Orwell carry such truth in his human brain?   How quickly the past seems to change.  But to willfully destroy it?  Alright, try to control what is evil then…. but make a museum of misfortune, a tribute to tolerance, down the stairs, to the left, a padded room for screams of injustice.  To take down a statue is just giving evil a chance to pop up elsewhere, in camouflage.   The focus of the public eye changes so quickly, from flashing image to image…a montage of quick cuts…from healthcare to Korea, to Russia, to scandal and back….it’s a merry-go-round, but not merry.   Human history at the speed of light.

This is a world I feel unfamiliar with.  A world it’s difficult to look at directly.  But I think the glass is sterile and unreal.  I have had some success looking at the bright glimpses in the shadows.   If nothing else we can enjoy the teaspoons of Moon.

We walked through corridors and elevators and found ourselves outside.  Some sat on granite picnic benches and some gathered near trees.  And there we were, as people from centuries before, gathering to look up together at the sky.

 

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http://www.wnyc.org/story/annie-dillards-total-eclipse

Daily prompt, no corners

Visceral

j

Glass as Dark Matter

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I’m sitting on a train, moving rather slowly, then stopping.

Yesterday was business, busy-ness. A multicultural quorum links up in a glass enclosed, grey walled conference room with views of the next building. There’s a coffee robot programmed to autocoffee everyone and twenty somethings sitting in smaller glass boxes, together in body but not in spirit, eyes down on the screens. They are quite beautiful, in a perfectly science-fictiony sort of way. One of them sits with the elder brain trust hive-mind, her braided hair piled high on her head, precisely speaking in her workforce jargon. Clear skin smart and tailored, she really can recite the language. I think of a seven year old piano player I heard play once, a technically amazing child and his piano, not old enough for any musical feeling.

I want to tickle the twenty something assistant and ask her if she’d ever spilled anything. Or if she’s afraid to. She’s too sweet or too perfect to deliberately fluster, although I consider it, a rather unprofessional thought.

Outside, also science-fictiony, the city swelters at 95 degrees. The brain trust and the coffee robot are safe and cool and intellectually elevated, but the homeless people, in the park, hide in sweatshirts that are way too warm. I saw them when I walked to the cool office on the fourth floor. I’m sure there were heat related deaths as we met and thought and latted in the glass box. If I am right, it was the park folks that overheated, and that information won’t make the news.  On screen news is for the senator, the rock star, and the ex football star, the people who are welcomed into glass offices. I was tempted to talk with the park dwellers, how did they end up living in a park? I didn’t. The park people are time travelers and their stories may not correspond to my lines and boxes; I feel I’m a slave to a clock on a phone. I worry about being late.

I answer my own questions about them with well known theories about how people end up in parks and under bridges.

There’s trash on the edges of the train tracks, and the shattered glass glints and shines and looks a mess. It’s mixed with paper and plastic, waylaid on the route to recycling.

After my glass box time, I head to the museum. The poor we have always had with us, suggests the  exhibition. Here is a portrait of an industrialist who built roads and bridges and fed the hungry and exploited the workers and stole the land. Here’s an Indian who was hated and hunted in life and now his effigy lays carved in static elegant white marble, not worrisome in death, in fact, he can now go into glass offices if we could hoist him up there, but he’s rather heavy now and so he stays where he is. In life he would have broken the glass windows and showed up half naked in animal skins, a presentation now boxed into video pornography, pretend wildness purchasable with plastic. He is running right out of the woods, not just on a screen for someone’s sexual exploitation or carved still for some post mortem admiration, but for his own purposes.

And he runs into the city park, right under the windows on the fourth floor, where the brain trust tries to figure out what to do with him.  Again.20170720_171419

Properties of Energy

 

 

I write to you tonight because I’m thinking about energy.  The energy of my young daughter planning her wedding….the idea we’ve been bouncing back and forth of creating a beautiful party.   She wants teacups full of flowers, fairy lights, and fountains, a lace dress, a garden space, something outside….. and maybe some gypsy music, which makes my heart so happy I could dance a gypsy dance. With scarves.   We just got back from Boulder, so we’ve been in the car for a few hours today, and I’m feeling my age.

I remember your wedding and mine, the endless expensive champagne at yours, the rain and the tent at mine, no Chandon, but quirky and lovely….and I wish you were there!  I’m overwhelmed.  I want her to have expensive champagne!  We were so young. How did I plan a wedding?  It was quite beautiful to my memory. That’s what love will do….  And it is sad to have memory touched with what was broken, but that –that is life, always the imperfection….I suppose. That’s what makes our species survive, our imperfection. The flaws in our genes.

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Our genes were lucky.  We were so lucky, with great moms and family, and like a lady from “the handmaid’s tale,” I keep getting caught a little in that past.  Better to think of the beautiful things from my youth and my young marriage.   Of trout streams and walking in wildflowers, the land where I knew their names…the wild geranium, desert bluebells, the asters, Indian paintbrush, skyrockets. I wanted to be married there, by the little Colorado.  Still, my Iowa City wedding was amazing – cake and mismatched china, the car decorated and dragging cans, and we were so in love.

It’s good to have those memories…the ones time hasn’t tarnished like old silver or corroded like a rusty old truck where the photographer’s capture the bride in a posed moment that never really happened at these crazy expensive wedding venues.  (We looked at several and received the full sales pitch.)   I didn’t get married in a church– but outside, which is pretty much my church….so that is holy, no?  I have never wanted to be a smother-mother, a control freak…so maybe I’ve done my kids a disservice by not letting them rebel so much against me.  But I want this to be all hers.   It is so nice to see her happiness and thoughts and that she’ll share them with me.

Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea. – Dylan Thomas

I want to capture something of what you wrote, about starlight, about beauty and witness.  I am not sure there is time to put it all down, or to make my own dreams happen. Strangely, a friend of mine texted me in the middle of the night and he asked me what I feared.  I told him that I am not afraid of anything–maybe morbid things and stupid things.  I meant it….but when I think about it more deeply, the truth I think is that time is now what scares me.  Will I have my cabin in the woods before I am too old to want to live in it?   It makes me a little teary though, to see how beautiful it is to be young on a weary day.

Again, maybe it’s a pep-talk, or just an observation, but as far as I know we live this once. I’m putting up the fairy lights in the backyard.  Counting blessings.  I noticed something is going on with you and wild birds?

I anxiously wait for your response.  It is much easier not to do things alone.  Or at least to have someone out there who will laugh with you, and maybe help you plan for a party.

j

Daily prompt

Momentum

Sometimes when your life is going a certain direction, you put on the brakes but keep sliding.

The momentum of things, bad things, hardness, rigid people, tail-gaters, dead deer in the road, ex-husband wants money for trip to France,  no time, sick pets, bills, commitments, dinner, laundry, dishes, broken appliances, trees down in a storm,, stress. Stress. Stress!  Stuck in stress, continuing to slide.  Friction everywhere, but I’m still sliding.

Stuck in my rut…but still going.  If one is stuck, it should be in happiness, in joy, in music, laughter, wildflowers, watercolors, lightning and hard rain, bonfires and red wine.

This morning, suddenly, for the first time in weeks I woke up optimistic.

I woke up realizing I’d been trying hard to put on the brakes, but sparks have been flying, there’s friction, there’s forces of opposition. I’ve been lamenting my job, my lack of time, even the stuckness itself.  Looking back at the past instead of the future. o_parker-stevenson-shaun-cassidy-signed-the-hardy-boys-b76b

“I used to a lot. I used to go dancing.” — Parker Stevenson

I watched East of Eden last night w
ith my daughter. You know, with James Dean? I asked her to rewind one scene- the scene where his character, Cal, asks his mother for money and she 8f179c37411e2d0f1ba9fb67235d35bewrites him a check….because when she hands it to him…he doesn’t just take it. He hesitates, he brings up two fingers, hesitates again and he takes it delicately, scissoring it gently with two fingers, and twirling it into his possession. It lasts less than a second, maybe two. I said, “Wow, rewind that.” It was an amazing moment for me, to see his intention, to see how deeply he had thought about his character, or maybe his just natural gift of understanding that shy, troubled kid he portrays. It’s Art, watching James Dean is watching an artist, and kind of a cool thing to re-watch with one’s daughter.

I love Art. I adore Art, I think without Art and without conscience, what is the point!? Art is an expression of truth! I love language, and music. Truth and Beauty like Keats. Which maybe explains why I have so much trouble figuring out how I fit into this culture we live in. That’s what’s made me stuck. I also had an idea yesterday, that maybe when the kids are grown, I’ll try to be a professor somewhere, to teach poetry again. Because there are things that matter, and one shouldn’t be stuck.

“I think about myself as like an ocean liner that’s been going full speed for a long distance, and the captain pulls the throttle back all the way to ‘stop,’ but the ship doesn’t stop immediately, does it? It has its own momentum and it keeps on going, and I’m very flattered that people are still finding me useful.” –Leonard Nimoy

Many, many things to look forward to. Unstuck….. in space and time.

Daily Post

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Splitting the Adam and the Eve

Splitting the atom unleashed a power that the world had never known. Taking a thing into halves that craves to be whole has consequences.  Energy explodes outwards, leaving radioactivity in its wake, the leftovers of the whole split into parts.  This energy could have been understood and harnessed, but there was a war, so it became a weapon.

Splitting is also a term used in psychology, essentially describing the tendency of young children, and immature adults, to split the nature of others into “good” and “bad”. Maturity is marked by the ability to understand that all people have the capacity for both great compassion and great aggression and harm towards others. Understanding that capacity in yourself and others deepens empathy for how others might experience their lives.

Early in my career, I thought that “splitting” in  adults was rare, something for the mentally ill or underdeveloped.  Those people all had official psychiatric diagnoses. Most people grew past that, I thought. People who couldn’t see others except as all good and all bad were living the lives of children. They got stuck in time because of abusive parents. That was probably it.

Now I think splitting is  a fundamental feature of stunted growth in America.

In November, over forty percent of college educated women voted for a man who bragged about molesting women, grabbing them and leering toward them to assert his dominance over them. How possibly could his publicly admitted and even bragged about behavior be accepted by these women?  If you are not female, perhaps his behavior could be ignored or minimized. As you point out, the experience of women can only be experienced in imagination by men.  And frankly, I think most men would rather not think about it. But women? Some of whom, and perhaps many or most, have had to deal with unwanted sexual advances, even rape?  They voted for him?

There must be some splitting going on here. One side says “strong dominant man with conservative values, who will fight for us and keep us safe”. The other side says  “crass and crude, at the worst, a rapist”. These two extremes are not reconcilable. There is a split. You have to pick one, because that noble man cannot be a rapist.

Apparently, many women chose to see the “strong dominant man who will fight for us and keep us safe”.

I know a very kind and intelligent woman who works at the same company  I do.  Very little is publicly acknowledged, but most everyone understands that she keeps the clinic where she works operational..financially, technically, and organizationally.  Like many women, she works hard, she is largely unnoticed, and she accepts this with a combination of resignation, humor, and a degree of martyrdom. Yet one day she told me, in a frank discussion about the election, that a man is better to lead. I was utterly bewildered.   I said clearly to her that I believed that she was running the show in her current position, so how is it that men are better? She agreed she was doing the work,  but she felt that she was just waiting for the right leader, a man, to show up. She even agreed that it was alright for me to lead, but it wasn’t for her.

She is waiting for that strong dominant male to fight for her and keep her safe, and perhaps, less grandly, simply relieve some of her workload.

I so much want to put my hand on her shoulder and tell her,  “you know, my dear, he’s not coming”. And ..”you have everything you need already”. But instead this lovely women waits.

I cannot wait for that noble man, my friend, and I know that you can’t either. It hasn’t a thing to do with hating men; it has everything to do with what women can do if they accept their own intelligence, athleticism, artistic talent, and many other qualities, and create their own stories.  When we don’t speak out against the splitting, when our need to be saved by the hero is so severe that we ignore the abhorrent and endorse the leadership of someone who looks half the part, then we are in trouble. We then cast ourselves as the weak princess in the castle, the little girl never grown.  We tell our sons that the hypermasculine is the ideal, and that the women they love will never equal them, that men alone receive both the glories and the burdens of leadership.

We split the Eve as well as the Adam. We teach both that an equal partnership based on mutual love and the best development of both partners is impossible. Each is reduced to half of what could be.

As always, I want to say something about physics.  Last weekend I saw the movie Hidden Figures, about the profound contributions of three African American women to the space program. I enjoyed the story very much, but what deeply distresses me is that I am now 53 years old, and I never knew about these three women-all  deeply intelligent; one likely a mathematical genius.  Without them, and especially Katherine Johnson, it’s unlikely John Glenn would have succeeded in his first orbital journey.

When I sat down to write about splitting, and thought about physics, and splitting the atom, a tiny bit of Wikipedia research revealed another gap in my knowledge.  I did not know that  a woman named Lise Meitner, a physicist of unbelievable stature, had a key role in developing nuclear fission.  Her history includes a journey to escape Nazi Germany, because as a Jew, she couldn’t continue in her post as the head of the physics department at Kaiser Wilhelm Institute.  Later, she refused to participate in the development of the bomb that devastated Japan, although she co authored the paper that explained the theoretical underpinnings of nuclear fission.  The science was not meant for war, in her view.

Naturally, she was denied the Nobel Prize in chemistry. The prize went to her male coauthor, blah blah blah.

Not really a shocker.

But what if that perception of those women had been different?  What if they had been treated as equals, not as just women, or just blacks, or just a Jew, what energy would have been released? What if  Dr. Meitner had received the Nobel Prize, been recognized as a fully fledged scientist, and an advocate for peace… and what energy would have been released if Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson had been recognized for their contributions at NASA?

I think as a young woman interested in the space program, I would have felt that energy.  The energy of a fused self, all aspects together. Fusion over fission.

I bet a lot of other people, men and women, would have felt it too.

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Dr. Lise Meitner

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Inertia

“When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.”
 –  Bette Davis   

I did not understand until today how terrible things have become for women.  So tell me, my friend, what do we do when the people in government twist the meaning of words?  I feel we’ve seriously entered into a war on women.

This is what has sent me over the deep-end:

“It’s difficult for me to call myself a feminist in a classic sense because it seems to be very anti-male, and it certainly is very pro-abortion, and I’m neither anti-male or pro-abortion.”
– KellyAnn Conway

Merriam Webster today even tweeted the meaning of feminism in response.   “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”  USA today

Wow! Note that the meaning has nothing to do with man hating or abortion.  Words are not meaningless.   Words are not 1984 backwards words.  Words should be meaningful and deliberate, especially when used by people in government, especially when they are charged words, words that people have fought for.

“Feminism is hated because women are hated.  Anti-feminism is a direct expression of misogyny; it is the political defense of women hating. ” -Andrea Dworkin

When I entered the job market as an entry-level secretary, women were still being chased around desks by their bosses.  The Mary Tyler Moore show was groundbreaking, a single woman on TV!   The majority of women did not have jobs in management.  Birth control, “the pill,” was relatively new.  There were new songs on the radio like “R.E.S.P.E.C.T” – 1968 and “I Will Survive – 1978.”     I Will Survive

There was Helen Reddy.  I am strong.  I am invincible. I am woman.

Enjoli perfume ads in the 1970s….recognized women as both sexy and smart.  “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never, ever let you forget you’re a man.”    Well, now, there’s an antiquated ad campaign. Bacon is delicious but bad for you…and it’s not up to me to remind you of your manliness.  Men can figure that out for themselves.  The spend countless Sundays on the couch doing so.

Although all my brothers went to college, coming from a pretty poor family, I was not encouraged to go to a University.  My own mom told me she thought I’d be ok as long as I could type.  Granted, my parents were born in 1917 and 1924.  I did convince them to let me go to college, and in fact am the only one of my siblings to get a Master’s degree.

When I moved into my college dorm, my freshman roommate shared with me the fact that she had been gang raped by an angry ex-boyfriend and his friends.  I did not know how to comfort her, what to say.    I don’t know how many other women I know have been raped, it isn’t the subject of everyday conversation. but I know of others.  #IAmAFeminist.

I see Rush Limbaugh has something to say about feminism.  But unfortunately, he appears only to value women for their looks.  He should be ashamed of himself.  But I guess the Oxycontin was affecting his brain:

“Feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream.”  –Rush Limbaugh

And, in light of her modeling career,  our First Lady should at least speak out for education.  Sorry Melania, but the following quote highlights that a woman isn’t just about how she looks in a bikini:     

“Value yourself for what the media doesn’t – your intelligence, your street smarts, your ability to play a kick-ass game of pool, whatever. So long as it’s not just valuing yourself for your ability to look hot in a bikini and be available to men, it’s an improvement.” – Jessica Valenti  

and this:

It’s not my responsibility to be beautiful. I’m not alive for that purpose. My existence is not about how desirable you find me.”   – Warsan Shire  

(And people wonder why feminists are angry. )   The following quote makes me so angry I can’t even address it. except that it makes me wish I practiced witchcraft.  The Christian religious right weighs in….

“Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians. ”   –Pat Robertson

When all else fails, blame women.  Anyone who says “welfare mother” in my presence can just take a hike.  There is no accountability for the men who impregnated these women. Dead beat dads are largely forgotten, but the term “welfare moms” is alive and well.

Feminism isn’t new.  Neither is opposition to feminists.  (Whatever happened to “we’ve come a long way, baby?” )

 “I myself have never able to find out precisely what a feminist is. I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.” — Rebecca West (1913) 

So I think we have an obligation to speak….  Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the mother of the women’s movement, you know — before women were ALLOWED to vote — she said we must speak.

“The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.” –Elizabeth Cady Stanton  

I  honestly feel that women deserve some empathy.  Men do not experience periods or menopause. They do not risk their lives in childbirth; men do not nurse their babies in closets, or pump breast milk at work.  They simply can’t.  My own husband was not laid-off a week after telling his employer he was pregnant.  He didn’t get to experience that injustice at all, except vicariously.  I wouldn’t call him a “woman-hater.”  How can being a feminist mean being a “man-hater?”  I don’t hate men…I hate injustice and inequality.

“The stereotypes of feminists as ugly, or man-haters, or hairy, or whatever it is – that’s really strategic. That’s a really smart way to keep young women away from feminism, is to kind of put out this idea that all feminists hate men, or all feminists are ugly; and that they really come from a place of fear.” — Jessica Valenti

Susan B . Anthony also believed in equal rights for women….of course we still don’t have  a woman on any paper money, nor do we have equal representation in government.  Then there’s the nomination of DeVos, who wants only the rich and religious to be educated.

“If all the rich and all of the church people should send their children to the public schools they would feel bound to concentrate their money on improving these schools until they met the highest ideals.”    –Susan B. Anthony

And speaking of religion, why on earth do women accept the burden for being kicked out of  the Garden of Eden?  It’s a dangerous old story, blaming women…a story created by men….it existed even before they started burning women at the stake. Could we even blame women for trying the apple?

“Did perpetual happiness in the Garden of Eden maybe get so boring that eating the apple was justified?” — Chuck Palahniuk

And now that we have knowledge….

“The apple cannot be stuck back on the Tree of Knowledge; once we begin to see, we are doomed and challenged to seek the strength to see more, not less.” –Arthur Miller

Our President said he had “grabbed women” by their private parts.  He’s a man of power.  He’s a multi-millionaire.  That is not OK.  That is not classy.  That is not a gentleman.

Yoko Ono, one of the most hated women in America at one point, blamed for breaking up the Beatles, believed in feminism.  She was a strong woman. She took on John Lennon. She took on the Vietnam war. She had this to say:

“There’s many women now who think, ‘Surely we don’t need feminism anymore, we’re all liberated and society’s accepting us as we are’. Which is just hogwash. It’s not true at all.”  –Yoko Ono

It isn’t just a US problem…it’s an international problem.  Although women have had rights here since the 1920s, we can’t forget there is inequality across the world.  I am not a privileged woman, especially compared to say –Ivanka Trump –, so I don’t exactly agree with feminism as dated, but we are indeed privileged compared to women in other countries.  American women are not stoned to death, we are not raped in retaliation for the actions of our families.  Knowing this, how can one deny feminism??

“Why are we not valuing the word ‘feminism’ when there is so much work to be done in terms of empowerment and emancipation of women everywhere?”– Annie Lennox

Domestic Violence. The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766. That’s nearly double the amount of casualties lost during war.

“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”
–Margaret Atwood

Who has denied woman equality in the first place?   Why are we not represented equally in government?   Why are we not on the dollar?  We send our children to daycare with chains around our working necks.  We make 78 cents on men’s dollars.  We don’t have adequate healthcare…look at medical bankruptcies.  Our voices have been silenced.  We need our power back.  This ball, rolling in this direction, simply can’t continue on this path.  One has to be able to voice an opinion, to speak one’s mind.  I’m not a man hater, and I think abortion is a very difficult choice that a woman (sometimes a child) has a right to make. She can die in childbirth, she has the right NOT to do die, to choose a better life, or a life at all, for herself.   It is her body, and you can’t force a woman to carry a baby.

“The day may be approaching when the whole world will recognize woman as the equal of man.” –Susan B. Anthony

Newtons first law of motion states that “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”  Inertia….   I think I remember, what slows the force is friction.

I’m pro-equality, pro-quality of life, I’m pro-humanity…which means being pro-woman. I am certainly not afraid to say so, and I must add, Kelly Ann Conway needs to seriously  re-examine her beliefs.

#IAmAFeminist

“As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.”  –Virginia Woolf

Daily Prompt 

 

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Stardust Melody

From which stars have we fallen to meet each other here?”  Nietzsche

I trudged across a snowy parking lot this morning and could not help but think of Zhivago, the poet at the time of revolution.  The writer Pasternak caught that moment in time.  The snow deep and then shallow, snow blowing into my scarf, into my eyes, seeing only my shoes….the snow gradually breaking into a muddy road.   Zhivago, with the soft eyes of the poet,  Zhivago, the doctor who loved and lost, Zhivago, who looking out across the Russian plains saw the summer fields of grasses and flax, thistle and wheat; in winter, the dark forests looming at the edge of meadows.  Zhivago who heard the grey wolves calling and saw them gather at his cabin in the dawn of early morning.  And Zhivago who saw the blood of Revolution splatter on his fields, in his forests, dark red blood falling on the white, white snow.  The poet who could not catch Laura and whose heart grabbed him with a fatal crushing blow.  Zhivago, who in the middle of a war zone saw only her.  Because love is what matters.

“…the rest is rust and stardust.”   Nabokov

Say Goodbye – Lindsey Buckingham

When things are overwhelming, when things happen of great magnitude, I think it must be better to look at something small, something   familiar, or something small and close, like dust:  tiny flecks floating in the sunlight of a window.  Or dandelions, dandelions seeds that float like wishes….or to think about the tiny dust mites that make me sneeze.  The horizon is too much.  For instance, when I look at the vastness of the sky, or think of the force that made our giant mountains, the burning of the sun, and the magnetic pull of the planets, the pull of the moon at the tides, the spirits of thousands whose lives were cut short before their time, the governments of the world– maybe it’s best to turn to the small things: the tiny particles, the quick smile, the blades of grass, the first glance of lovers, the laughter of friends, a chocolate chip cookie, a smooth rock on the ground.  If you blink you’ll see it.

You ask if I am angry, and I don’t have an answer.  He was my friend.  Just my friend.  But can the word friend be modified by “just?”   The first week after his death lasted a year…a lot of swearing —that he didn’t have to hear of my death, and he was not there to call.  Now I’d say I’m just astonished.  Sometimes panicked.  More than anything this weirdness… no trip to Asheville, no Fitzgerald, no Zelda.   We could’ve discussed madness and love….and now I’m left talking to myself.

I think of my own dying – will I savor each dying blink, each blink something holy?  With one blink a sunset, the next a wildflower, another a mountain stream?….or racked with pain, just colors and patterns…?  The latter much more likely.

We weren’t lovers, just good friends.  Maybe we’ve been friends for thousands of years, the Spock and Kirk of Athens.  (Or wait, that’s Pam and Janet).  We were more like Laurel & Hardy I think, cheering each other into comedy.   When he came to town we talked about physics –  Star Trek gadgets, the speed of change, the Higgs particle, biotech and wine.  We discussed Baudelaire and Bukowski,  Dali and Chagall… reincarnation and Catholicism…also cars and grocery shopping.  You see, I always looked forward to seeing him again.

Woodstock 

I was lucky.  So how can I be angry when I was so lucky?  I am not sure I’ve even processed it at all. And if I go deep, well it’s panic.

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I wanted to talk about Joni Mitchell, “We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get back to the garden…”  or Woody Guthrie, “this guitar kills fascists.”   I’d forgotten that you’d seen the concentration camps, and a memorial now comes to you.  I think we must stand up like Woody Guthrie…. but mostly it’s about love. I’m tired of division, of seeing how we’re different.  Let’s see how we’re alike, at least a little. One of the last things we talked about after election night, was what to do now?  He said “Right now I don’t even know what to do,”  I said “spread kindness.”  He said “that’s a very Buddhist response, Ms. Chaos. ”  I don’t talk like that.  I’ve never said “spread kindness.”  What the hell?  I must be so tired.  Just sick and tired.  Let’s be hippies.  I just watched the musical Hair.

Have you noticed the massive amount of brightly colored birds on the internet recently?  I just came across the “Golden Pheasant.”    I mention this because it’s just amazing and it’s better than anything I’ve ever written.  A silly bird…so much better than a poem.  So many colors for one bird.   And Kevin, he’d have liked a random bird on this page.  (Also we must not forget the Snow Geese. Since everyone else has.  Who will monitor the SuperFund sites? )

Click to see it walking.   Golden Pheasant   – we are stardust/we are golden…pheasants.

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The universe gives me all kinds of reasons for his death…he was under stress…he didn’t exercise enough…Trump got elected…the idea that when your “number is up,”  your number is up.  None of these are suitable reasons.    I go underwater if I  think too deeply about it.  My brain goes away as if I’m playing a deep game of poker, as Ferlinghetti would say, “Deep Chess.”  His friends tell me we’ll meet again in another life.   It’s not a bad thought…but just as massive and inconceivable….like  starlight, light years away, reflecting our sun, traveling across the universe into our eyes.  Blinking, soft, blinding.

What stars have we fallen from..?  We are all fallen angels trying to save each other when the demons come.  Dust of stars, dust of angels.  All this leads me to think of mortality, walking through walls, monasteries, Zhivago, the sudden brilliance of the sky, the sky more brilliant since his loss.  The nightly news rages on….and in what world do we dismantle the EPA?  In what world do we push through an oil pipeline without an Environmental Impact Study?  In what world do we separate immigrant children from their parents?  I can hardly watch the news right now, but can’t take my eyes off of it.   I walk through the unpolluted mountain streams of my youth, the cornflowers and black-eyed Susan pushing through the branches of willows.

Kevin was always leaving, the minute I knew him he moved away, we rarely spent time in the same city.  I am so sorry still at the loss of your friend, the one you lost so long ago, so much more immediate and hard.  I never knew how to make it any better.  I think they’re here with us in one way or another.  In spirit, as they say.

 I remember that when one falls in love, every song is about love.  I’ve dated too many musicians.   I didn’t date Kevin and he wasn’t a musician.  You see how great that is, right?   Now the radio mocks me…. plus I have this CD of goodbye songs from the last time he moved away.  After ten days, I’m now putting it away.

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 A few mornings ago, on the way to work,  a sundog rose above miles of prairie, changing as the clouds intersected it, moved it higher in the sky, making the blue deeper, the red brighter, the green darker…a vertical rainbow…until it disappeared, pushed away by clouds, but headed to the sun.  So cliché, my friend, I know– but still…. it was there.

 I understand how it’s easy to be scattered right now.  I want to be like the light, like the split light of prism…each color called out to reveal itself, each one brighter than the next.  Focused and brilliant and beautiful until I die.  Let’s be that.
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overwhelming

*  Stardust – Nat King Cole * Stardust – Michael Buble * Stardust – Frank Sinatra

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