Absolute Zero

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

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

 

The Bee Meeting – Plath

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eve and the Serpent.  William Blake

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

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

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

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

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My nails

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

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

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

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

madeline

Daily Prompt: disobey

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Properties of Energy

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

j

Daily prompt

Momentum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Post

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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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After Terry Tempest Williams

I write to fight loneliness.  I write to argue with myself.  I write to create new worlds.  I write to destroy old worlds.  I write to simplify the complicated.  I write to capture the smooth surface of glass on a mountain lake.  I write to make maps to the past.  I write to follow those maps and travel to a different place and time.  I write to envision a different life.  I write to calm my nerves. I write for peace of mind.  I write for peace.  I write for my children.  I write out of guilt.  I write for pleasure.  I write as a guilty pleasure like ice cream.  I write when I should be doing something else.  I write when I should be sleeping and can’t.  I write to make a sloth made of real gold and give it the ability to speak.  I write to dispel my own myths.   I write to show the amber at the tops of the clouds over a slate sunset.  I write knowing nothing to be as beautiful in the mind as to the eye.  I write to bring myself to tears, to stop the tears, to make you cry.  I write to misbehave.  I write to give voice to things I will never say.  I write to listen to the truth I have that no one else believes.  I write to gain wisdom.  I write knowing that it is approximation.  I write because others have written.  I write in apology. I write for forgiveness.  I write with hope that you will understand my vision of the world, different from yours. I write because although you are gone I feel your breath.  I write because you don’t want me. I write because I want to remake you out of paper, only better.  I write because I want to be god.  I write because I don’t want to be misunderstood.  I write knowing you won’t understand.  I write to save my soul.  I write to conjure ghosts without believing they exist.  I write to trouble you.  I write out of respect. I write to cut my heart out and put it on a stick.  I write to stop the clock.  I write to dispel gravity and become unstuck to the dying things on this planet.  I write to imagine.

why I write

 

Why I Write – Terry Tempest Williams

Escape velocity, II…or Escape velocity, aye-aye you might say

We are hunkered down here in Colorado too, against the wind rather than the snow.  My town has recently recorded record-breaking 101 mph wind gusts.  No escape from the wind here, nothing to protect us from blowing debris or falling branches.  Best to stay inside. Maybe we need to move to Mexico close to the equator if we want to escape.  The earth itself can give us a push.  Did you know satellites are launched at the equator to use the spin of the earth to help them take flight?  Anything on the surface of the Earth at the equator is already moving at 1670 kilometers per hour.

You tell me that even Lewis and Clark were trapped by the storms, and all they had seen and mapped might have been lost had it gotten any worse.  Didn’t they draw all kinds of animals as well as mapping the mountain and rivers?   Species of birds and animals the East Coast had never seen before. And on the request of Jefferson – practically a king.    I think it’s a good thing to be reminded we’re not kings, even they were just as much trapped by the weather as a simple animal, even a bird for example, maybe a Snow Goose.  (Still no follow-up news on the 10,000 dead geese at the SuperFund site.)  Even if we were kings, (I prefer that we talk about queens, sick of kings with their narcissism and hate. Besides queens often had more power than kings, they wear the pants -except Henry the 8th with his quest for a male heir-  and who wants to talk about old men with power?)   even if we were kings, we can’t control the great raging force of wind and weather.  But we can pay close attention, so not to be trapped in a caustic lake.

In the way that one click  leads to another, I started searching for escape velocity and ended with a term in physics called “flutter,” or more correctly “aeroelastic flutter.”    It is apparently a term meaning the beginning of the absolute collapse of everything.    See the Tacoma Narrows bridge video of 1940:   https://vimeo.com/13323591

Not only is the bridge in the 1940 video acting as if it were a simple string in the wind, rippling like a wave in water, but there is an act of human bravery involved.  Rather, a brave man in a hat.   In the video, (in 1940 it was actually a 16mm camera) a man goes back on the swaying bridge, to retrieve a cocker spaniel left in an abandoned car.   The terrified dog bites him and cannot be rescued.   I wish he had been able to get the dog.  I suppose that only happens in Hollywood.   I’d like to be able to do that…to have enough faith or stupidity to think that I wouldn’t be dragged to my demise.  I also need to start wearing hats.  The video is hypnotizing, as we know that the ultimate destruction is eminent.

When I was a girl, I helped my older brothers to build epoxy bridges for a college class they all took, a class they all dreaded in turn:  Fluid dynamics.   It was very math intensive, and the final was a project constructing a bridge.  On their way to becoming chemical engineers, each in turn tried to create the bridge that would hold the most weight.  It was built out of epoxy and toothpicks.  I would dip the toothpick in glue and hand it to my brother, and he would strategically place it according to a design he had to come up with.  So, maybe that’s why a woman writer likes physics. Maybe we quickly connected physics and art.  I think you helped build epoxy bridges too.  If not then, now.

“Beauty for some provides escape, who gain a happiness in eyeing the gorgeous buttocks of the ape or Autumn sunsets exquisitely dying. “   — Langston Hughes  

I quote Langston Hughes this MLK day. My thought is that perhaps writing is an escape into the mind, an escape from some of the horrors or boredom of the real world.  He says in the quote it is “Beauty for some provides escape”, so perhaps writing is the study of Beauty.  I like that he mentioned the gorgeous buttocks of the ape.  If he lived now, would he have said the “ape exquisitely dying, and the eyeing of the Autumn sunset?”  In writing from the human spirit, there is no black or white.   As I look out the window, beauty is a study of wind.

“I took up writing to escape the drudgery of that every day cubicle kind of war.” –Walter Mosley

So it all  comes down to the Clash.  Should I stay or should I go?   See how much we learned in high school?  If I go there will be trouble, if I stay it will be double.    When playing poker, I’ve been told, the correct answer is always: It depends.   

Sometimes it seems the flutter happens so quickly there isn’t enough time for an escape plan.  (See: dog in car.)  I think we’ve both seen women in abusive relationships who need a plan to get out.  That was my first thought when you mentioned escape velocity, something to be overcome.  Not just the gravity of the earth, but the gravity of a situation.  Nothing is ever simple, and leaving is also about surviving….about escaping a violent man she has deeply hurt or offended –by the act of leaving itself….it can be tricky.  Sometimes the flutter will follow her.  Escape is about money,  timing, surviving on one’s own.   It’s about admitting the mistake and facing the unknown.  It’s about putting your own survival above others, and sometimes that affects the children, children who you love more than yourself, even your dog.   I get mad when people don’t understand how abused women can stay with an abusive man.

I mean, it’s easy to see that Life (with a capital “L”) has a way of throwing you into entanglements.  I was never with an abuser, but I was with a guy who wanted to tangle me into his failing bridge, asking me to watch him drink himself to death.  Even now, after his death, I still feel that I did not escape that devastation. But few of us escape unscathed.  I guess the lucky ones just escape with a dog bite.  Part of me loves that escape of the soul, that drunken charisma, the carefree-doesn’t -matter-what-happens life.  Maybe when you’re trapped, its better to live in the moment.  You know, the gypsy soul.  It’s way too early to drink, so I turn to Baudelaire.

It is the hour to be drunken! to escape being the martyred slaves of time, be ceaselessly drunk. On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as you wish. —Charles Baudelaire

What is happening in the news is alarming, and I think we are all sort of watching to see if and in what direction things are beginning to sway.  Even tall buildings allow for a little sway, and we have a constitution to protect us.  Signs and all indications have us worried that things are going wrong. At least for me, the swaying began the minute that a President was caught on tape talking about grabbing women.   That sway made me pretty nauseous.  I’m hoping it’s not as bad as it seems, and in four more short years, we’ll find a different bridge to travel, but as they say, we can cross that when we come to it.  Hopefully it won’t be in the middle of aero-elastic flutter.

A marathon of writing…

a response to Escape Velocity

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

Refraction

Light changes when it changes mediums; so do waves in the ocean or in the bathtub, and sound is muffled by the walls.  Encounters change the progress of travel itself, whether you run into a wall or pulses of light hit the side of your eye, undetectable, until you’re in bed with a migraine. It doesn’t have to be that brutal. Light softens a room, candlelight travels through water, love becomes easier.

Without refraction, nothing would move through us. Hard sharp corners, reflection only, the ultimate narcissism. You’d only see yourself looking back. It’s hard to avoid as it is, being the center of your own universe, the sun in your own solar system.  No refraction, then nothing penetrates, nothing gets through. We’d be static as well as unaffected, unmoving and unmoved. Alternatively, I suppose, we could absorb everything and end up dark and muddled. Nothing would escape, but that’s a pretty heavy existence, especially if you hang around people who give you a lot to soak in.

I try to take a refractory approach to life.  I think it’s the years of sitting in the orbits of others lives, listening and listening. If I reflect everything I hear in therapy sessions, I’d cause despair and loneliness and make the problem worse.  If I absorb everything, I’d have the trauma of genocide to carry, and I’m sure I can’t carry anything that dense.

It’s been two years since the passing of a fine man I knew for a brief while. The formal arrangement was that I was to help him with a forty year old regret and a tragic recent loss. I believe he tried not to weigh me down and I sometimes let these waves pass through me with a false objectivity, as if I were playing at a crystallized existence. I saw a glimpse of a barracks destroyed by a bomb, a flash of a knife, a military funeral, tiny children dancing in Indian regalia, a small girl sleeping in a truck, a makeshift boxing arena with Blackfeet men gathered around to watch a fight, a high school baseball game, veterans in uniform at the mall, sipping McDonald’s coffee, a brush running through an old woman’s hair.

I heard a voice ask for forgiveness; I could only listen, and channel the forgiveness from someone who wasn’t present to offer it herself.

I felt the warm press of his hand.

The light travelled through me.

One day his son called me  and told me that his father was with Creator, and the waves hit me hard enough that there was no air, and I sat on the floor. I didn’t get up until someone knocked on the door.

 

 

 

Gratitude

Well, the holiday season is underway again. I’m weary of it.

I wish I had the internal resources to approach the holidays with the joy and anticipation children have naturally, and which the advertisers try to generate with their Santa clad models and sparkly champagne, with smiling families all around a turkey (and if you’re one of the newly defunct liberals, certainly acknowledging that their are “issues” and “unacknowledged grief” but agreeing magnanimously to set that aside so we can stuff ourselves).

I’m ready for a diet, and I might begin on Thanksgiving.

I recall a conversation with a woman at a church I attended once; she was probably in her sixties or early seventies. I had young children at the time, and of course I was in the midst of planning the Santa visit and wondering which matching dresses I could pick for my adorable daughters. I must have asked her  what she was doing for Christmas, and she looked at me somewhat ruefully. “I’d be fine if we did this every five years” she said. “That’s about right for me.”

I haven’t enjoyed Christmas for years now. It’s possible that I am a Grinch, or that my Jewish roots, long suppressed, are exerting themselves.  Perhaps I need a Day of Atonement before the winter holidays so this natural tendency to ruminate on my sins could have formal expression. Or…if I could just focus on the True Christmas, the gift of new life and a savior for all? And the best values of America for Thanksgiving, the American Holiday?

I’ve got to admit, after this election, that last statement seems like a sorry joke. And I sort of resent having to bolster myself to see through the trivial in these events. Where’s the heart? And am I the one that has to dig through the nonsense to find it?

I’m aware  that I am weighed down by loss and grief which by social rules forbid expression at the happy holidays.   In fact, my most joyful holiday in the past few years , (one I’ve always liked a lot, in fact) is Halloween, the holiday that acknowledges pretending and relationships with those no longer with us.  I can say out loud “hey, all these people I love, they’re dead!” and everyone says “yes! they are!”

Awesome.

We don’t want too much of that dead people stuff, though, and so we move on to the joy and smiling, and the unacknowledged pretending and family truces.

The mindfulness and meditation movement coaches gratitude, and I agree in theory and try hard in practice.  I will say it here-I have much to be grateful for.  I wish gratitude outweighed anxiety. I am anxious in the arrival of the holidays, because I will be sad.

This year, both by choice and coincidence I will actually escape, or at least  I will be on plane on Christmas day, returning from a pilgrimage I hope will put a positive spin on a very challenging year. What is remarkable is that even though I would love to skip Christmas, I feel a sense of loss for the very thing I want to avoid. How sad not to have your family all round you at Christmas, brothers, sisters, parents, children, spouse. How doubly sad to realize that those relationships are absent, distant,  or isolated to a spiritual realm. The plane actually makes little difference; there are not that many people to celebrate with, and certainly not the people I miss most.

But here is a bit of gratitude: Halloween comes every year.