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. 

20170912_214952

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.

quote-some-pale-hueless-flicker-of-sensitivity-is-in-me-god-must-i-lose-it-in-cooking-scrambled-sylvia-plath-136-98-47

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

Advertisements

Spheres

20170821_071421

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.

 

20170821_092945

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.

NGS Picture Id:1500684
“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.

 

stream_img

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

Daily prompt, no corners

Visceral

j

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.

220px-lise_meitner_1878-1968_lecturing_at_catholic_university_washington_d-c-_1946-1.jpg

Dr. Lise Meitner

daily

Escape Velocity

Escape velocity is the speed that an object needs to be traveling to break free of a planet or moon’s gravity well and leave it without further propulsion.
       Today’s a day about plans, and thwarted plans, and how plans go south when you mean to go north. The day’s about comedy, since, as a close friend of mine told me, we are not kings, so this story can’t be a tragedy.  Today started last night, like all days do. It’s a day of shrugged shoulders, of four wheel drives sent out in the night on a mission to restore power, a day when the hope of that long delayed meetings would occur, and this time, this time, result in definitive action… and instead, we can’t get down our driveways. It’s a day that reminds us that we need to eat and stay warm before we can consider weighty philosophical subjects, a day that when we shudder at the prospect of a few hours without wifi,  but a broken heater is much more uncomfortable. It’s a day when we wonder if we could make it to the doctor if we needed a doctor, and except the most ill among us, we are not really worried.  We may not think much about plumbing on most days, but today, most of us have had thoughts about water and pipes.
          Portland is having is eighth! (eighth?!) snow day this winter, a year of note.  Since it “hardly ever” snows here, Portland civic leaders forgot to or decided not to buy too much snow equipment, and we’re pretty much locked down. It’s far short of a pioneer adventure, but we can think about Lewis and Clark holed up with their traveling companions in Astoria two hundred and more years ago, unable to move, and Clark getting more and more depressed, mud seeping into cabins, food running short.  Their mission was in some ways, completed. They had reached the west coast of the continent; there was no coast to coast waterway, the easily navigated route of their dreams. They sat in an Oregon coastal winter, snow in some amounts, but mostly relentless rain. They had to wait to walk, ride and paddle East to say what they had seen.  It was Jefferson’s vision Lewis and Clark carried out; the two leaders and their small party struggled forward to the edge of the land, buckled down, and then waited  and waited to bring their lofty findings home.
       The return mission was delayed by weather.
       Weather is a mighty force that affects escape velocity. One thing I know about myself…I have spent many years planning, executing and delivering the goods. When the carefully crafted plans didn’t work out,  I  often assumed I lacked something in the execution. I was confused.  I was thinking I was a king, and that my thwarted plans were tragic, a personal shortcoming.
       I think now it might have been the weather. Or the earth as a whole.  A bit of a cosmic joke played on a small player.  It’s just hard to achieve that escape velocity, the energy needed to make the plans fly.  Something as simple as snowfall can stop it all.
        Our bodies keep us connected to the earth, they are part of the gravity, and they have a relationship with the earth and atmosphere that keep us grounded.  Our feet hurt, our noses run and we slip and fall.  Someone develops a fever. The snow falls from the sky, we  need to put on hats and gloves and coats and long underwear.  The sun beats down, water dries up or rushes down, we need something to drink. We are foolish to ignore the weather and its bigger cousin, the climate. Go outside without a coat today in Portland, and you’ll feel it and fast. Now think bigger. Civilizations with mighty plans, one on Easter Island, for  example, disappeared because the jesters used up what was there, and the earth fought back.
       We’re pretty smart, we comedians. We’ve found ways of hiding and protecting ourselves from the real ruler, the planet we live on. We build warm houses, we have snow plows (if we decide to buy them) and we know ways of melting snow and cooling off in the heat. We found a fluid that keeps our heated and cooled vehicles moving. We create tools and machines, and plans to achieve escape velocity and arrive somewhere else, coming back with soil samples or a new type of flower.
       But make no mistake, we’re not kings. The earth froze my toes today and moved my personal economy just a little bit in the wrong direction. My orbit was much closer to home and I had to slog to get away from the house and slog to get back.  I can plan all I want, and gravity pulls me down, and the snow piles up in the driveway.
        I have occasionally shared my disappointment that no human has yet walked around on Mars. After today, my hometown in paralysis, I realize I should fall over in utter shock that we reached the moon, and that a  couple little remote control buggies from California have chug a chugged all over Mars without a human driving.
20170111_144333
      Plans thwarted are the norm. I’m going to rejoice on the rare days when myself, or someone else, reaches escape velocity, and even more amazing, returns to earth without burning up on reentry.  If you get to bring back a soil sample too, or maybe a flower, or a snowflake…well, maybe I will reconsider and call you a king.

Gravity 2 – plus infinity

All I know about gravity, is it’s some invisible force that keeps us from floating off into space.  I suppose someday we’ll figure out that it’s something to do with mass and speed and motion and density…or some hamster running on an eternal wheel spinning us around the sun, or  jibbers crabst might have something to do with it.  Hail Jibbers!  Or maybe gravity is just there to keep us from flying.

Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn’t know.

 “Most gravity has no known origin. Is it some exotic particle? Nobody knows. Is dark energy responsible for expansion of the universe? Nobody knows. ”     Neil deGrasse Tyson

And all I know about infinity I learned by looking at a star-filled sky in the Arizona desert. Stars and stars and stars. A friend says he had a vision in the desert.  It was a good story about saguaros who saved him from falling off a mountainside.  Gravity could’ve killed him, if not for the saguaros.  I’m not sure what was altering his normal vision, but I can’t say it did him any harm.

I suppose the only response to being tied down by gravity is to rebel against it, to dream of flying and to look to the stars, or math, or myth, or something beyond what’s immediate in this messy, messy planet we’re living on.  Or maybe to imagine a different world, to turn to surrealism….Art.

Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure – that of being Salvador Dali. — Salvador Dali

I want to be Dali!   What an incredible mustache!  Talk about visionary.

“A visionary, vision is scary, could start a revolution, polluting the air waves”   -Eminem

A vision is scary. Were you still in Phoenix when the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared in yucca branches?  I think there were large crowds that gathered.  The branches were stolen before I could get there the next morning.  I mean, what kind of vision would just let herself get stolen before I could see her?  But there we digress into myth.  But I really like myth.

Maybe attaining vision just takes practice.  When I taught, I had my students write 50 lines about an object.  It was my favorite “writing exercise” because by the 10th line they were forced to imagine something just to fill up the other 40 lines.  Staplers became metallic whales, paperclips became little machetes.  I say “when I  taught” but I should say when I taught as an adjunct with no benefits and no support and no one to show me anything…. while raising three young children. Totally wonderful and terrible.

Have I mentioned, grey hair is really a sign of wisdom?

So really though, I guess I’m not clear where you draw the line with vision and The Imagined or The Other.  Doesn’t that sound literary?  I could’ve just said “what you imagine.”

The image of actual misty clouds in an unfinished church is a beautiful image. The viewer is taken to something 3D, or magical realism, or the natural world as miracle…

Isn’t recognizing those clouds something of a vision?  Isn’t imagining the thoughts of someone who lived a hundred years ago, isn’t that some sort of visionary practice?  Maybe to have vision we have to do a Jim Morrison road trip sort of deal…George Harrison tried to get there by meditating, which sounds wicked boring and drove Patty Boyd crazy, and also seems way too monk-like.  Not ready to be a monk.   Let’s go with Marilyn Monroe.

 “I defy gravity.”  – Marilyn Monroe

I was thinking about tossing a lot of stuff with the New Year too, it’s better to travel light as you say.  I mean monks get by without any possessions, right?   It must make things much simpler and clearer.  Clarity, intentions, vision….sounds good.  As long as one has food, clothing and shelter, and poker games to go to.  Wait, monks probably aren’t playing poker.  Damnit.  I had it there for a second.

Mentally I’ve already tossed out most of the people who make me crazy, or at least made their insanity more manageable to me somehow.   Being lonely is terrible, but if one tries it’s easy to learn new habits.  Like doing all the stuff you said you’d do if you had the time. Russian proverb:   друзья воры времени   “friends are the thieves of time.”

The only good piece of advice I’ve pretty much EVER received (except of course from my mom) was from a call-in radio show.  Yes, seriously, a call-in radio show. Maya Angelou was on the phone, and I knew she had many children and still found time to write.  I was able to get through and I asked her how she did it.  How she could write and raise kids.  She said she had to learn to say “no thank you. ”   And then she said, “Not just no, but no thank you.”   .

I am having trouble discarding things, so I made a list.  But I relapsed a little. I still have stuff that I should never have bought.  A pasta maker I’ve used once, a couple hundred poetry books.  I’m OK with it for the time being– my daughter pointed out to me that creature comforts are important.  God though, wouldn’t it be nice to just have a yurt and a camel and a million stars.

Or at least a car and a cabin and a fireplace.

Here’s the list anyway.

Things to discard:
Things that make you unhappy.
What you do not love.
What you can’t learn from.
What is too broken.
What spins wildly out of control
What endangers you.
What steals your time.
What takes your energy.
What others might find more useful.
What you find boring.

Things to keep, for awhile anyway:
What you’re obsessed with.
What makes you smile.
What you’re unsure about.
What you can’t replace.
What will change you for the better.
Things that are interesting.

Response Daily Prompt: Infinite

response to Gravity

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.