Absolute Zero

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

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

 

The Bee Meeting – Plath

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eve and the Serpent.  William Blake

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

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

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

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

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My nails

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

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

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

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

madeline

Daily Prompt: disobey

j

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Dark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Glass Spheres

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Daily prompt, no corners

Visceral

j

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 

 

j

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.

Mopping the Floor

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – Fitzgerald

The gin and tonics melt in a frosty glass with a sprig of mint, resting on a big pine table on the stone porch at the  Grove Park hotel. Fitzgerald’s ghost softly whispers “come here, come listen to this…” — in invitation. His hair is parted in the middle, and he’s wearing a jacket in my vision, he always wearing a jacket. I don’t believe in ghosts but he has things to tell me.

“Maybe there’s a god above, but all I ever learned from love was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you…. And it’s not a cry you can hear at night, it’s not somebody who’s seen the light, it’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.” -Leonard Cohen

You say the trip would be an act of love.  But there are floors to mop.  Does anyone voluntarily mop floors? The kids don’t know how much I hate it, and they shouldn’t.  It’s part of the pact that we entered bringing them into this world.  It’s an act if love showing the kids the little things – from a fine novel to a Tiffany lamp in a dark world. Transcending the blandness of the everyday, so that in times of despair maybe they will remember.

We walk on the bones of the dead, and I think spirit is as real as memory, as anything. I tell myself magic is everywhere, in the wind– if you listen for it above the commotion of cars and humanity; you can almost see magic in the pale stars above the city lights. I’m afraid that rings with resignation or despair.  You can’t really see stars anymore. They’re just gone.

Thanksgiving is approaching, a holiday that’s been distorted into a celebration of deep-fried turkey and football, children’s white paper hats and Indian feathers. How terrifying that we’ve trivialized the past, when so few pilgrims actually survived the first few years of their “pilgrimage” to America. Wasn’t it around 50? How did they even have strength to bury the dead? What a disservice to remember them this way, and to the Indians who helped them survive. All of our holidays have been compromised and commercialized… with the exception of MLK day, which is too young to have been tainted by the scourge of time. With all the shooting it may become National Ceasefire Day.

I can almost taste those gin & tonics,  glasses sweating with condensation, ice cold. We’ll travel like the arc of a modern novel: rising action, self-realization, with no denouement. A pilgrimage of passion toward a past that flies from us as we reach toward it.

Something spiritual is in the air…maybe it’s personal or maybe has risen from the depravity of the election. With Leonard Cohen’s death this weekend, “Hallelujah” is in my head. Really more of a ballad about lost love, isn’t it?

“But baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
You know, I used to live alone before I knew ya”

When I first moved to Colorado Springs, about twenty years ago, I made a visit to Frank Water’s house. It took a little doing. A trip to the library to find the address…a lunch hour, a parking meter, quarters. Most importantly to stop procrastinating.  When I found it, I discovered it had been turned into a multi-apartment rental. I asked some of the tenants to let me peak in and I caught a glimpse of an elaborate stairwell, crown moulding, peeling paint. There’s a little park next to his house, and I sat on a bench there under a pine tree, trying in vain to see the mountain peak as it was a hundred years ago.

Part Cherokee, Waters wrote from the Native American’s point of view. He wrote The Man Who Killed the Deer, and also a historical piece called Pike’s Peak. I bought a signed edition of the latter for a dear friend of mine, but that’s another story, for another day. It was nice though, to hold his signature in my hand.

Maybe you don’t find the pilgrimage, maybe the pilgrimage finds you. I stumbled across Sophia’s Cathedral somehow, in Novgorod, Russia, and inside was an icon of the Virgin that reportedly stopped bullets in WWII. Madonna and child. If ever there was a mystical place, that was it. I could’ve stared, literally stared, at that image for hours. …. I can’t help but feel with our current view toward art, that we’ve discarded any reverence toward beauty and poetry. With the recent remarks by our President-elect, I feel belittled and degraded by our society in a way I’ve never known before.

“…her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you…”

On the same trip to Russia, a once in a lifetime event I know, I think I knew it then…I also saw Dostoevsky’s staircase…the apartment where he is reputed to have written Crime and Punishment… Dostoevsky looks a little like Jack Nicholson if you imagine him without the beard. The stairway was filled with graffiti from around the world. Hundreds of pilgrims paid tribute to a man who stood up in troubled times, risking his life and trying to preserve both his life and his sanity.  Few writer’s had such insight into the human soul.  “Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.”  – Fitzgerald

Spiritual quests: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/12/spiritual-healing-pilgrimages_n_4944030.html

Door of Sophie’s C3f03827309ade96b3a0b58c43c1de752athedral, Novgorod  stock-photo-famous-bronze-west-entrance-gates-of-st-sophia-cathedral-in-veliky-novgorod-allegedly-made-in-40871959