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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Stardust

unknown     “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”

Carl Sagan, Cosmos

 

I’m writing this evening when my brain feels as scattered as stardust, blown about about the cosmic wind. My focus is lost; I think there’s a thousand things I should be doing with myself to oppose the insanity that has taken this country. Where to best put my energy? I come up with a plan, a theory, and the next event, the next encounter, changes my mind. I want to write about how sorry I am that you have had this terrible loss, this friend that is gone from your life, like the loss I suffered nine years ago..nine years! It’s so hard to believe she’s been gone that long. See how my mind races, I am irritable, and I feel that I’m no good to anyone.

Quite by accident I found myself this afternoon, with my boyfriend,standing in front of a Holocaust memorial. We had gone to Forest Park in Portland for a hike, and I needed one, as I felt the anxious energy building and building. I have gone to the Vietnam memorial in Portland several times but  I must admit, regretfully, that I never even knew where the city’s Holocaust memorial was.  We went a direction in the park I’ve never taken, and there it was, hidden in the enormous pine trees, a black wall, with some tiny memorial statues, not of people, but rather a broken suitcase, a teddy bear, a pair of eyeglasses, all in a place where one could trip over them, solid metal renderings of personal possessions. We took the time to read the entire history of Hitler’s destruction of Jewish people, disabled people, Roma people, and anyone else he decided to hate, but especially the Jews. The engraving told of  early history of the Holocaust, beginning with banning Jews from immigrating, then from stores and businesses, then from schools, and registering them, forcing them to designate themselves with a middle name of Sarah or Israel, mocking these honorable names.

Sound hideously familiar? I know it does to you.

My mind is still racing. Only in the past few years did I really understand that my father’s history is Jewish. His family seems to have arrived a long time before the Holocaust in Europe, maybe a hundred years. Names appeared in the more easily accessible records now available online..a great grandmother named Rachel, a great grandfather named Isaac. If they hadn’t moved to Illinois in the nineteen century, it’s likely I wouldn’t be here. Not that that’s so very important…it’s just likely.

Thirty three years ago I stood with my college classmates in Auschwitz, Poland, reading in our second language, German, the ugly orders that exterminated thousands or tens of thousands of people in “relocation” camps. Behind us was a plexiglass wall where tangled eyeglasses, the actual eyeglasses, kept by the Nazis, were piled up on display.  Another room, behind more plexiglass, was a ceiling high mound of human hair. We walked on silently to and through the gas chambers where the fingernail scratches of the dying, the marks of frantic scraping at the walls, were still easy to see.

The bus ride back to Krakow was silent.  I remember staring out at the bleak landscape and crying.

I will never forget that experience. I doubt any of my classmates have forgotten.

Now, at this moment, we live in a country that is banning immigration to a group of people based on their country of origin and their religion.  I see comments online that chastise the educated for believing their liberal professors and accuse me and other deeply worried citizens of “whining” and “not understanding national security”.  Now I feel angry, even enraged.   I think, I’d be happy to introduce these fools to the descendants of victims of their ancestors’ great sin, the destruction of Native Americans. Perhaps they worry that they will be treated the way their immigrant ancestors treated the actual North Americans when they arrived.  Failure to comprehend after this experience would then result in me ripping their lungs out.

That would not be very productive, I think.

It’s amazing how rage is catching, like a virus that spreads everywhere, infecting, infecting.

Anger and rage, part of grief. I feel such sorry for my country, and I don’t want to sound trite, but I do love America, I do. I wept when those towers came down, and I was both proud and humbled when, during my recent travels, a French couple told me no matter who the President, Americans are always welcome in France…This ongoing welcome,  I knew, because of World War II, when we opposed Hitler’s evil, although we were late, so late to the defense, but this couple, this pair, forgives America for that and for the current travesty, and welcomes me, and you, and America, even though most of us had nothing to do with that war, we were not even born.

I wonder, are you angry? Are you angry that your friend was taken from you when he was not very old? I was, so so angry, I had plans for my lost friend too, nine years ago, upcoming plans at the time, and I loved her.  He can’t contribute his talent anymore, we can’t look forward to any of his works, and you will miss his friendship, probably more than any of his writing.  I know I miss her, so deeply. I am not as angry as I was at first.

At the time of my friend’s death, she was working on a draft statement by psychologists, a position paper against psychologists contributing, by assessing or evaluating, prisoners who may be tortured. Guantanamo was a big concern and it seemed misguided professionals had somehow lost their way and gotten involved. The ugly possibility of torture has arisen again…the dangerous fool leading us has stated his support, and his uneducated! dare I say it! minions sell the American public on its “effectiveness”.

For some reason, and please recall I am scattered today, Carl Sagan floated into my mind. There was a part in the original Cosmos series where he reminded his audience…we are all part of the stars…we are all made of stardust. The Jewish dead,  the exterminated Indians, your friend, my friend, you and me, we are all stardust.  Today you and I hold a certain form that the stardust takes, a human form.  I hope the universe sends me a sign as to what to do.  Maybe I can combine the stardust that is mine, and the stardust that may have been part of others, and find the right thing to do, and I will be less strewn about, less angry and confused.

I hope.

 

fairy tale at the speed of light

Daily Post – Retrospective

Once upon a time there were princesses who lived in a legendary land called “Phoenix.” Phoenix was a magical city in the middle of a desert surrounded by mountains, a city hung on a pendant which spun between rolling dust storms, burning sunshine, and torrential rain. This city has died many times and reincarnates itself in uglier and stupider ways each time.   It becomes hotter and hotter.  And dirtier and dustier. And more and more freeways twist through it’s bloody cowboy heart.

These western princesses, in their youth,  visited majestic market colonies  called “Town & Country” where the symbol of the city, the Phoenix Bird itself was surrounded in flame; and they went to  “MetroCenter” where you could eat lunch in a plane, and a mall called Thomas, with giant fish tanks, and “Park Central” a mall lined with sidewalks that sparkled in the open air.  The young women lived happily, studying the Classics, learning foreign languages, planning their futures, learning instruments, passing their young lives not in castles but in little patio homes with bougainvillea’s and Ocotillo cacti, cursed only by the passing of time.  And occasionally a scorpion king or a rattlesnake would slither silently past.

The princesses were the daughter’s of virtual Kings and Queens, virtual relative to what we know of the world now – the word “virtual”  a different word with the passage of time.  I suppose I was one of these girls, these princesses who believed in what was a new freedom in the world.  I saw the movie Easy Rider, and Hair, and even sort of liked Major “Hot Lips” Houlihan, though she was too coarse and man like for me.  I did not want to be a secretary and had no vision of being a wife.  But that was a different time.  We were not afraid to say what we thought, we were not afraid of our freedoms being taken away… after all, we had just gotten them.  Freedom was our birthright, something our mothers fought for, by wearing a short skirt or going on a hunger strike, or helping to build bombs during the war…or not letting a man make you into an object.

Time stood still for a second, like we miscalculated the speed of light.  We were friends though, and could help each other on our lunch breaks.  There was plenty of time.

But of course, time did pass.

From the highway near the Superstitions, Weaver’s Needle looks phallic and foreboding, a shape we’d giggle at as teenagers.  The mountains sidle up next to it, like women vying for its attention.  It stands erect and weaves in and out between the cars, hidden in the skirts of the foothills, appearing and disappearing as we drive past. It’s an unmistakable penis,  a flag waving in the looming of shadows.  The legend of the lost Dutchman’s’ gold, cradled by its shadow, both longing to be discovered and never satisfied.

In Hollywood, Debbie Reynolds, star of Singing in the Rain, one of the most iconic movies of our current history, had a daughter of her own.  Carrie Fisher was Hollywood royalty, a Hollywood princess.  All princesses loved the movie Singing in the Rain, it was the story of men making money from women’s talent, women putting up with the drama of the casting couch; the way another woman might be jealous and sabotage a younger talent; the way one might end up in the background supporting the establishment — the horrors of the world….But the woman, she won!  A fairy-tale in which she stepped out from behind the curtain to sing love songs in her own voice.

A quality education has the power to transform societies in a single generation.  Audrey Hepburn.  

Debbie Reynolds husband, ironically enough, ran away with Elizabeth Taylor.  No one remembers him now, Eddie Fisher.  But who could resist Elizabeth Taylor?   So beautiful and a little terrifying.  Sex and talent.  Sex and Intelligence.  And Who’s afraid of Virginia Wolf?   Me.  Afraid of being the professor, the wife of the drunken prof, the fight. Afraid of the screaming that was alien to my suburban life. Afraid that that was the future, which it for a brief moment was.

Meanwhile, the child of Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher, only seven years older than the Phoenix girls, studied for a starring role in a movie about space.  A revolutionary movie that featured special effects and two handsome men, one a lost boy, one a smuggler.  But the fictional princess in the movie, Leia, with her white dress, her alien hair, her chiffon scarf, she was as brave as the boys.   She flirted with them, she sparred with them, she was a worthy counterpart, an essential part of a rebellion where George Lucas didn’t just make her a simple symbol of royalty, or a sex symbol, a small wimpy girl, or a Marilyn Monroe blonde. She was articulate and cultured and determined.  Strong.

I am a feminist. I’ve been female for a long time now. I’d be stupid not to be on my own side. – Maya Angelou

This is also the story of Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, and a summer romance.  A story of secrets and sex.

So, there was this moment in the Cine Capri, in Phoenix, when  Star Wars premiered there, when those world’s first collided… a moment in the minds of the princesses, who fell in love not just with the boys, but with Leia.  Or rather, they  fell in love with what they knew they could become.  She was them.  Leia’s name appears in the opening crawl, she has her own ship, she has the stolen plans which may save her people.   This is the story of that moment, when the girls realized that this was the dawn of an era that hadn’t been before.

This is the story of high school romance, of stolen kisses and stolen boyfriends and broken hearts the fairy tales didn’t mention when the prince left to go make another movie, or trace his fingers on the lips of your best friend.   Memory and time intertwined.  This is a story of Postcards from the Middle. Edgy postcards from nowhere.

(To discuss waves and particles of light, the massive forces of nature, typhoons, tsunamis, the weight of planets, we must also talk about Time.  Time is a fairy tale, you see, relative to the observer.  Is it measured in days, in years, in coffee spoons?  )

The best quote about time:

Time held me green and dying/  Though I sang in my chains like the sea.  – Dylan Thomas

This is the story of all women :  Just because someone desires you, it does not mean they value you.  – Nayyirah Waheed

Women in the past had been denied, had been protected, staying at home, waiting to be saved, barefoot, helpless, symbolic and unreal.  Or worse,  made to appear as the playtoys of men, sexed-up, simplified, cleavage heavy,  smiling.  Kept.  Simple objects to be desired or tossed away.  Like objects.  Objectified.

This is the story of animation…the moment objects came alive….a vital person, not a Barbie, not a figurine, not a blow-up doll, not a significant other, not the “Mrs.” or a horizontal, and especially not a trophy wife.  A Pinocchio-ess of a girl…a non-robotic creature made from sex toys and baby doll pajamas…who like a replicant in the Harrison Ford movie, BladeRunner,  becomes real.  At least to him.

I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone.  You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.  Oscar Wilde.

I want to write about the fire of the moment, the princess heroine, the feminist heroine, the men who barely managed to save the plans after her capture.  When we appreciated Princess Leia, (and Carrie Fisher), we appreciated being a girl, even a woman. We admired her the way we did when Lauren Bacall said, “you know how to whistle, don’t you? “ in Casa Blanca, the way Barbara Eden saved her helpless NASA astronaut again and again in I Dream of Jeannie, the way Goldie Hawn wasn’t just a dancer on Laugh-In but used her hips to show the written message we all waited for.   We discovered that year that boys liked Mary Ann just as well as Ginger.   We had eaten an apple.  We had the knowledge that Princess Leia killed Edith Bunker.

And so time passes…

The princesses, armed with their new knowledge, set out to conquer their (Brave) New Worlds.  They traveled to distant lands, lands where it snowed deeply enough that humans could not survive outside, lands where the rain never seemed to stop.  They trained and conquered both strange beasts and stranger demons.  The raised their own princesses and puppies, and retained their independence.   Slightly grey-haired, a few of us, not me yet.  (hahaha! sorry my friend! ( Somewhat wiser sages. They ran for political office, and often failed.  They put the baby doll pajamas back on Courtney Love, and they failed.  They tried to get equal pay, rights to stay at home after having babies…. the right to have men go to jail for violating them.  Affordable medicine, affordable education.  Maybe there are steps backward on the way to progress?

The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd.  The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.  Albert Einstein.

And what has become of the princesses themselves, the day after the death of Carrie Fisher?  So grateful for her pioneering spirit, her rise and her terminal velocity.   Thank you young eloquent Carrie Fisher, and you too, old, crabby New York curmudgeon Carrie Fisher.

For every one of us that succeeds, it’s because there’s somebody there to show you the way out.  The light doesn’t always necessarily have to be in your family; for me it was teachers and school. —  Oprah Winfrey.

As they say in Star Wars:  There is a new darkness, a presence that hasn’t been felt for years.  I sense great danger. A disturbance in the force.

The princesses are from the city of Phoenix, the Valley of the Sun.  Perhaps there is still Sky Walker blood and our daughters can bring back the old fight, and the alliance of the rebel forces.

A day later, Debbie Reynolds has passed away at 84…..

To hell with it!  They had FUN.    “we gabbed the whole night through….it’s great to stay up late…Good morning, good morning to you. ”

Waves as Wings, or Water as Dark Matter

 via Daily Prompt: Folly

Seabirds walk along the pier.  The beach is rocky or you’d be barefoot.   I’m stuck here working in a chilly room.  Temperatures falling.  I’ve borrowed a blanket and put on gloves.  I’m looking forward to your return, your warmth and  optimism.    My friend, you watch waves under a bright white sun, the sky for once not the usual grey.    

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” ~Edward Abbey

I noticed on BBC World news last week the story of thousands of Snow Geese in Montana.  Just a small story at the bottom of the U.S. section.  It’s said, “Thousands of Snow Geese Dead.”  It’s been 3 days, and no further news.  CNN reports the story a day later as “hundreds” of geese.  I am waiting for a public outcry. I am waiting for more stories.  I’m waiting for the final count.  Will there be a follow up report?   Likely not.  The local Montana newspaper said there were about 10,000 birds.   Imagine it.

 With a storm behind them, 10,000 snow geese fly fast seeking a large body of water for sanctuary.  They find themselves at the Berkeley Pitt mine near Butte, Montana, a former copper mine, a Superfund site.  They lock wings, gliding down and down onto the surface of the shimmering water.  They swim in the quiet, they clean their dusty feathers.  They stick their long necks into the murky water and drink deeply.  A few perish immediately.  The crew at the SuperFund site fire shots to try to scare the birds away.  They blast noise cannons.  But there are too many birds.  The workers are frightened that there are so many birds.  They know what will happen.  Nothing survives the lake.  They have seen the birds die before, but they have never seen this many land before.   One man, runs, runs for the rifles to try and stop them.  Nothing stops them.  Many begin to wash up on shore. After the first onslaught of birds, only a few of the geese remain swimming on the lake. They manage to stay alive for several days.  How long before they, too, perish?

 So far, we don’t know just how many just fell into the lake and won’t be counted, and how many flocks flew to the wilderness and fell out of the sky, never to be found.  Their carcasses eaten by coyotes, coyotes who in turn die from their poisoned throats.  The water is so acidic, it’s been reported that it would dissolve the steel rotor of a boat.   I’m feeling waves of nausea at the thought of thousands of dead snow geese.  They are beautiful snow white birds with black-tipped wings.   People have made the point that these birds are not endangered.   I would like to shout that this is no way for thousands of living beings to die.  Imagine them as puppies.  Facebook puppies.  Thousands of puppies who drink Drano.  Would this be acceptable to the masses?  Would they not be horrified?  10,000 puppies would bring how many “views”?  10,000 snow geese bring very few. 

 “Nature may reach the same result in many ways. Like a wave in the physical world, in the infinite ocean of the medium which pervades all, so in the world of organisms, in life, an impulse started proceeds onward, at times, may be, with the speed of light, at times, again, so slowly that for ages and ages it seems to stay, passing through processes of a complexity inconceivable to men, but in all its forms, in all its stages, its energy ever and ever integrally present. A single ray of light from a distant star falling upon the eye of a tyrant in bygone times may have altered the course of his life, may have changed the destiny of nations, may have transformed the surface of the globe, so intricate, so inconceivably complex are the processes in Nature. In no way can we get such an overwhelming idea of the grandeur of Nature than when we consider, that in accordance with the law of the conservation of energy, throughout the Infinite, the forces are in a perfect balance, and hence the energy of a single thought may determine the motion of a universe.”   ― Nikola Tesla

 These are dark times, troubled times.   The BBC reports the news of the decline of the giraffe, that elephants too are in danger.  There are massive die offs of the coral reefs.  The reefs are white with death. Hundreds of whales and crabs have beached themselves.  The bees are dying.   The frogs are in decline.  Is it all true, are we entering a time of mass extinctions?

“You may live to see man-made horrors beyond your comprehension.” ― Nikola Tesla

The waves of the tide are tied to the gravity of the moon.   The migration of birds to the proximity of the sun.  Up to Canada they fly, and then back again South, year after year like waves across time.  But we can see the world changing.  In my backyard, fewer birds roost in the trees.  The scientists report that the seas warm, ice caps melt.  The coral dies, turns dirty white.  The salmon do not make it all the way home.   The moon is very close and very large, as if to say, “I cannot be ignored.  I will light the sky, brighter than you have seen for a century.  Look at me, lunatics, watch me! You’re tied to me the way the stars are tied to night.”

Everyone I know is on edge since the election.  Our President-elect is an unknown.  I’ve always believed the best thing to do when the world is going wrong is to go outside, listen to the wind in the trees, become aware of the moon.  But I’m starting to wonder:  how long will we hear frogs croaking, bees buzzing, the songs of the meadow birds?   We may soon genetically modify the mosquito.  (good, doubt it.  I mean, how do you control a mosquito if it gets screwed up?)

“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and the flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.” ~Rachel Carson

Light and pain seem to travel in waves, like alternating current.  Sleep and dreams are interrupted.   Nature doesn’t give us many straight lines, but circles or patterns.  Fibonacci spirals.  Even pain comes in waves, see: childbirth or toothache, we are given a reprieve before the next spasm.   Sometimes there are rogue waves.  Sometimes there are hopeful deviations.  Sometimes there are terrifying tsunamis.  Light waves and seismic waves flow soundlessly across the earth.  Real earthquakes are attributed to real fracking.  Our children can’t afford college, our college adjuncts can’t afford health care, our health care workers can’t afford prescriptions.

In Phoenix, where we grew up, we braced for monsoons, giant dust storms from the Superstition mountains raising up dark in the sky and visible from a great distance, followed by torrential rain.  It was a crazy desert landscape where we could see for miles into the distance.  Sometimes the storms weren’t so bad, they traveled the city outskirts and veered away.  I feel this strange stagnation in our country right now…like nothing can be done, like everyone is holding their breath.  We can’t see anything in the distance. The calm before the storm is a misnomer, it’s more like the feeling of running in place, or screaming without sound.  Shutter the windows, get out the battery powered radio.  Find the candles.  Brace yourself, stock up on water and ramen…pay your bills.  It’s an eerie quiet.  Instead of a view of the mountains, we seem to be in a ravine, a slot canyon, further away a flash flood may bring raging waters to our feet.

“Certain periods in history suddenly lift humanity to an observation point where a clear light falls upon a world previously dark.” ~Anne Sullivan

Unlike the sweet arctic geese, let’s fly safely through the present and beyond the reach of any storm, avoiding the lethal waste that humanity has created, into a figurative refuge anyway.  Remember the Snow geese and be careful.  It seems that no one cares about the slightly winged, the distant deaths.  Thankfully we’re not in Flint Michigan drinking lead-contaminated water.  There’s got to be a way through this mess.

New York Times article

My conundrum, I promise, my next post will be funny and happy.  I can’t wait. Actually, I can’t wait for yours.

Pussy Cat

Today’s piece is a copy with permission from a promising young woman. I offered to publish any and all manifestos that she and her associates would produce from their base overseas, where these intelligent young people struggle to make sense of what is truly insensible.

As I promised, here is her contribution.

Mom shares photo
caption reads
“You know,
someday,
you might grow up to be
President.”
Sorry, mama
Today it feels I’m more likely to be grabbed by the pussy
and not let go
for four years, at least.
Because today I learned
that powerful women
come in second
to white male womanizers
even if
she wears a pant suit
so the men don’t look up her skirt
as she breaks through
the Glass Ceiling.
And while I watch what I cannot do
boys everywhere learn:
Experience isn’t needed for the job.
But mama
I woke up today
and I realized there’s 24 beautiful hours ahead
and 24 more
after that
For Compassion
For Change
For Ambition
For Success
and For Me.
I’m with her.
I’m still with her
whoever she may be
The first woman President of
The United States of America.
And maybe
just maybe, mama

that could be me.