Heaven…

 

 

 

One thing we have plenty of in the San Luis Valley is horizon. It’s one of our best things. Once in a while it gets interrupted by a mountain or trees, but for the most part, anyone looking for a horizon can just turn and look in the other direction and have their horizon needs satisfied. For me, it’s one of the great things about where I live. I like to look at a wide and distant horizon that ends in mountains. It puts my heart at rest and sets my spirit free, corny as that sounds. It’s one of the reasons I like winter. There is a lot less interference from those green bushy things.

I take a lot of photos of the horizon when I’m out rambling with the dogs, usually because the skies here are so amazing (and the ending in mountains thing).

 

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Storm Coming into Town

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Driving North from Taos

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Rabbitbrush Flats

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Early Spring

 

I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
“It is futile,” I said,
“You can never —”
 —
“You lie,” he cried,
And ran on.
Stephen Crane

***

…and Hell

In other horizontal news, today is the first anniversary of the Women’s March in which so many women wore pink hats resembling cat ears. I have very mixed feelings about it. I have friends marching in their local march, believing their marching will make a statement, a difference. I honestly don’t think it does, will, or could except to themselves and that’s completely respectable to me.

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All my best wishes and more power to the pussy hat wearing multitudes, but I’m not joining you.

I remember in the 70’s my best friend was about to join the Woman’s March (a bra burning activity combined with marching on a downtown street). First, she had small breasts, second, she made a lot more money than I did. Burning something that I needed and cost me a day’s work was AGAINST my personal liberation. Third, I thought it was bullshit. “Men” have always known women are around. Some men (in my experience) have regarded women as human beings and equals without even trying to. Some men have viewed women as mental and physical inferiors. Some men regard women as prey. Some men are just assholes.

All of this can be said of women, too. I will now speak that which should not be said, “Sarah Palin.”

I was working at a law firm while all this was going on in the 70s. Back then, when my boss wanted to take me to lunch after I’d done some really good work for him taking telephone depositions of Mafia members, he had an existential meltdown. Should he or shouldn’t he? He was afraid he was being unfaithful to his wife.

That brings me to the essential question of “rights.” Rights can’t be “given” from one person to another. Rights have to be taken. What hampers that process? Ultimately, physical strength. That’s why we have laws to protect the weak.

There have been women managers in my life just as ego-driven and difficult as male managers; I’ve even been hit on by a couple of the women who were my bosses with the implication that if I…, then… Did they “learn” this from men, or is it just the natural outgrowth of physical desire and power?

I don’t know.

Or is this protest simply against the current president? That’s another thing with a big glitch. He truly does not care at all what we do or how we feel about him. I think there’s only one (legal) protest that might make any difference and that is to vote.

Meanwhile, later, I’m going to pursue the horizon.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/horizon/

All of a Piece

I have a bunch of books here on my table that I’m not reading and a few more in the background of my laptop I’m also not reading. They are all related to the work in progress, “The Schneebelis Come to America” even though that’s not the real title and I’m still not sure whether, in the book, they will actually arrive.

Writing historical fiction requires a lot of studying, and when you study you learn stuff. When you learn stuff you aren’t the same person anymore. Everything you learn sets you apart from people who haven’t learned the same thing. I kind of think that’s why we send all the kids to schools where they learn a relatively standardized curriculum.

Right now we’re having the hullabaloo about the president calling certain impoverished nations “Shitholes” and wondering why we couldn’t get some immigrants from Norway. I don’t know why, but that flipped a switch in my mind. I became completely disgusted. My disgust stemmed not only from the remark, but from the reactions to the remark, noise from people about how that’s “not the way we treat immigrants in America.” Excuse me, but it IS the way we treat immigrants in America. The immigrants who first settled this continent were ALWAYS afraid that they would be asked to support poor dirty people coming in on boats from some nasty place such as the Alsace or Karlsruhe or Limerick or Trento or Seville…

I know this very well now because the last few years of my life have been spent studying early migration to America. It’s awful, uninspiring and shameful. I’ve read Philadelphia newspapers (thanks Ben Franklin) with published complaints about the “poor dirty people from German-speaking countries who are ruining our colony.” Yep. “Pretty soon the colony will be speaking German!”

Who were those “poor dirty people”? My ancestors. My ancestors were complaining about my ancestors.

But this treatment of immigrants isn’t limited to the New World. People forced to move from one place to another in the “Old Country” faced the same problems, and not just in the dim past. Read Jerzy Kosinski’s Painted Bird.

And, when it comes to geographic “shitholes” it’s hard to beat the beautiful place where I live. Most of the people in the San Luis Valley live at or below the poverty line. As an example, just yesterday a mobile home from the 1970s was posted for sale on Facebook. The asking price was $5500. The place had been remodeled and had many upgrades, but it was still a mobile home from the 70s. The line of interested responses was long, even though the thing had to be moved.

“Does it have wheels?” asked one responder.

“Yes,” said the current owner.

“Will you be home tomorrow?”

You see, the “shitholes” are not defined specifically by the race of the people who live in them — though that’s been the general and mediazed  reaction — but by whether the people there are losers or not. And poor people are losers.

I’m really tired from all this. I woke up very early this morning thinking social media is evil. I wouldn’t know about the “shithole” comment or the mobile home or people’s reactions to every stupid thing that happens in DC if I were not on social media. At 4 am I woke up realizing that I don’t need to know. I’m supposed to be an artist, a writer, but I’m not creating anything. It’s too easy (and I think quite natural) to be sucked into the vortex and I’m no good to anyone there. I can’t wave a magic wand and give us a decent president. I can’t suddenly transform a 1970s mobile home into a new one. Some days I can barely walk.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/study/

Resistbot PSA

You can’t thank it. “Thank you” just confuses it. It’s not Marvin, the Depressed robot from The Hitchhiker’s Guide who felt underappreciated. It’s just a beautifully programmed helpful bot with an odd little sense of humor. Its job is contacting political leaders about stuff. That’s it. It makes it very easy for anyone to do this. I’ve been relying on Resistbot for two months now.

Resistbot’s raison d’être is to resist what’s going on in Washington right now; the breakdown of the EPA, the threats to the ACA (which, though not perfect, is not nothing), the current tax bill which will hurt people and take away their deductions — that sort of thing.

You use Resistbot by texting. You can text 50409 or use Facebook messenger. Send one single word, “resist”. After that reaching your representatives, governor, “president” is easy. Resistbot leads you through the process and you type your message. Then Resistbot asks you how you want to send it and if you’re happy with it and that’s it — it will be emailed, faxed, snail mailed, hand-carried or you can even make phone calls to the representatives. Resistbot will call them for you. This morning Resistbot helped me call my senator — to no avail, line busy, voicemail box full… Then Resistbot sent an email for me.

It’s a brilliant thing. To learn everything about it, visit its website, https://resistbot.io  

While you’re there, check out the FAQs to find out how it came about. It might change your mind about young people (if you have a curmudgeonly bent). It’s free; it works on donations. It sends messages in the form of emails, faxes, letters and phone calls. Right this minute Resistbot volunteer humans are hand-carrying letters to five Republican senators who appear to be on the fence about the current (amoral) tax bill currently in Congress.

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A small caveat — I don’t like President Trump. Period. I’m NOT anti-Republican. When they do things I believe will help the people in the area where I live, I support them. When they do not, I resist. Right now I believe we’re in a very bad place as a nation, primarily because of the polarization of the two parties. I don’t believe we Americans are as polarized as the DC hijinks makes it seem. For that reason I believe it’s very important for us to make our voices heard by our elected representatives.

Besides, it makes you feel like you’re doing something and that’s not bad.

Old, Fat and Ugly

Yesterday I broke my hard-and-fast rule NOT to comment on political posts on Facebook. The post was about how Trump was NOT corrupt because Hillary was (either/or fallacy). It was based on the breaking news that the DNC had paid for the golden showers dossier about Trump in Russia. My response said something to the effect that we’re trapped in a corrupt two-party system and neither Trump nor Clinton(s) are the serious issue. The serious issue is about what we, the people, are going to do about it.

Dirty politics is not new. I think it is as old as is the thirst for power.

I was immediately slammed by a Trumpeter with an ad hominem attack. “I looked at your Facebook profile and you’re old, fat and ugly.”

It shouldn’t have, but it did…hurt. I am old, fat and ugly.

I checked out his Facebook profile and came away thinking it was fake.

I deleted my post, still thinking about “old, fat and ugly” and the power of the ad hominem attack. It sure as hell made me crawl under a rock, invalidated by my appearance and age.

But we have a problem. I wasn’t surprised by anything in the news. It was no great denouement to me that the DNC and the Clinton campaign would try to get some dirt on Trump. Not that, in my opinion, they needed to go out of their way. He is — has been for a long time — a public figure. It’s also pretty clear that the American people don’t care whether their president is a sleaze or not. They kind of like their post-verbal fascist narcissistic glob of orange. At this point, I’m most curious about which of the innumerable Republican candidates originally set out to have the dossier compiled.

And what are we going to do about it? Not me — I’m obsolete (it’s kind of a relief) — but young people? Ah! Young people! I read recently the rantings of a young person who resents the fact that all the Baby-boomers got the last bit of an easy life America ever had to offer. That blew me away. No one looking at my life would say, “Wow, easy life!” but it’s a common enough opinion about my generation. Constructive? No. Honest? No. An excuse for failure? Absolutely.

Please watch/listen to this “song.” Some thoughtful person has updated the video to reflect our time rather than Reagan’s.

Legalize It (Am I Really Writing About This?)

I thought I was pretty witty back in the day when I said that surrealism is the accurate perception of the world as it is. I wasn’t talking about elephants on stilts or melting clocks. I was talking about plain, ordinary reality. We cushion the blows of its weirdness through our relentless illusion and hope and general obtuseness, but it’s just all around surreal.

I live with three hairy dogs. They are large. The smallest is 60 pounds. I am a little person and the two I walk with most of the time come up to my waist. Yep. We trudge through life as if that were the normal state of affairs for every 65 year old lady. In fact, every single person trudges through their life as if it were “normal” but there is no normal. There is only relentless weirdness.

Here’s weirdness. We have a legal drug, booze. Booze is a cheerful glass of wine at Thanksgiving for some, the propulsion behind a deadly automobile for others, and death itself for others.

An estimated 88,0009 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women9) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States. In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities). Source

But it’s legal. Anyone over the age of 21 can buy as much of it as they can afford and drink it as often as they wish.

My brother was a hardcore alcoholic who died in his 50s after a horrible life and tremendous physical debilitation and at an extreme cost to the people of the states where he lived. He often said, “If pot were legal, I wouldn’t be a drunk.” I would add, if pot had been legal, he might be alive now. That would be really nice. The other day I donated some money to one of my brother’s old friends who’s got meningitis and has no insurance. Her children wrote me a thank you, “Hugs to the Kennedy family.” Yeah. That’s me, Dusty,  Mindy and Bear. I felt so sad at that moment. No one wants NOT to have their brother. But that’s booze for you. “You don’t understand, Martha Ann. I like being drunk.” Drunk to death. Fuck you, Jeff Sessions.

Marijuana, in contrast, is not physically addictive and has never (directly) killed anyone. There are a couple of people (literally 2) known to have died of marijuana use — being high brought to the surface underlying physical disabilities. AND my experiments with it made me think I was dying (or that someone was coming TO KILL me) all an argument for me not to use it, but here are thousands of people who actually derive measurable benefits from it. But it’s illegal, according to federal law. A short, logical explication of the dangers of marijuana use can be found here.

I find that surreal. It’s also surreal that I, after forbidding hundreds of college freshmen from writing a “Legalize Marijuana” essay am doing that right now so, moving on, with one more point. People have ALWAYS liked to intoxicate themselves. While early beer and mead were low in alcohol content as their main purpose was to provide pure, non-disease laden ways to prevent dehydration in a world of putrid water, there are enough drinking songs and odes to wine from all cultures and all times to prove people like being intoxicated. So, logically, is it better for people to be intoxicated on something lethal or something that’s not lethal? That I have to ponder that point is surreal.

There’s so much surreality in this world. It’s surreal that people have taken to painting rocks, people who never painted anything in their lives. It’s surreal that Sarah Palin was EVER a serious candidate for anything. It’s surreal that fascism is rearing its ugly head, it’s surreal that people don’t know what fascism is because, it seems, at some point, our education system stopped making kids watch black and white films of liberating Nazi death camps. I saw them twice a year. It’s surreal that there were Nazi death camps. It’s surreal that our recent presidential election was apparently hacked on all sides, a rain of dirty politics only possible in this era. It’s surreal that after finding Colorado too small, too confining I left in my late 20s only to return at the end of my life to a small Colorado town that’s stuck in the 70s. It was surreal that I went to Switzerland to stay in an 17th century barn (remodeled to an apartment) in the area in which my ancestors lived, and my hosts were from Australia. It’s surreal that I wrote a novel describing the lives of my ancestors before I knew they were my ancestors.

Well, the list goes on. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of surreality in your day to keep you occupied and perplexed.

On a cheerier note, a song that’s been in my mind. It’s weird. You might call it surreal.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/surreal/

Clean Up Your Room, Dammit!

I woke up early this morning with a throbbing migraine that I didn’t anticipate. Usually my migraines are the visual kind and might make me a little nauseous but nothing awful. And tired. They make me tired, but this was more than that.

The air is worse today. I can only imagine how it is for people in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, California, Washington… 😦

When I walked the dogs last evening at sunset, the sun was a ball of red. Smoke from the thousands of  fires to the north and west had obscured the views of the mountains on both sides of the valley all day. Clouds traveling in front of the sun broke the light into what my ex-husband called “Bible beams” which, in the normally clear, clear, clear air of the San Luis Valley, I seldom see.

My first thought when I finally really got up, the migraine having retreated, leaving only a numb feeling and a mildly upset stomach, is that we did this.

When I was a kid there were no fires like these. Sometimes there was a forest fire. We know this from Bambi and Smokey the Bear, but they were never EPIC in proportion. There were hurricanes, but they did not register on seismographs (for the love of God). It snowed a LOT more than it does now in all the usual places that get snow.

When I was 5, 1957, my parents, my brother and I were traveling in the South where my dad was to be giving papers and teaching seminars in Florida. As we went through Mississippi and Alabama, heading toward the Gulf Coast, we were in a hurricane. It was a lot of wind, a lot of water, sandbags and waiting. It was NOT like Houston and sure as hell not like the hurricane approaching the Bahamas looks like it will be. I remember when we went out for breakfast and the waitress said, “It’s just that time of year. What do y’all want to drink?” I got cocoa.

I don’t think it even TAKES a scientist to say, “Whoa, this is WAY TOO FAST for changes like these in the climate of the Earth.” I’m not a scientist, but if this has happened in a mere 60 years, Houston, we have a problem.

When I was in high school I was determined to overcome my terrible fear of speaking in public. First I joined theater, then my theater teacher told me to join speech club. I did. I traveled around Colorado doing competitive speaking and did surprisingly well. My first year I won prizes for Humorous Interpretation of Oratory. The next year — my senior year — I won second place in the state of Colorado for Original Oratory. My speech was political, but it was not about the Vietnam War. It was about the thing I cared most about.

The speech is mostly written in a tone of bitter irony, the kind 18 year olds love, along with lots of big words, but even then, even in 1970, I was worried about what was happening to the one thing I could depend on in my life to love me. I wrote:

The human race is racing toward total annihilation, with, at last, no exceptions made as to race, creed, gender or nationality. Man abuses the air he needs to breathe, the water he needs for sustaining his life, and he is brilliantly devising technologically advanced ways to destroy the delicate food cycle of which he is the ultimate beneficiary.

The Environmental Protection Agency was founded the same year I won my award for this speech. It immediately set about finding ways to slow down the rate at which pollutants were being thrown into the air and the water. It did a good job; it has done a good job. Maybe it has written many irksome regulations. Maybe it’s required mitigation when land is developed. Maybe the regulations are long and hard to read. Maybe what it requires is expensive, but dammit. Lake Michigan is no longer dead in places and LA (when the mountains aren’t on fire) has a clear sky and breathable air.

But… It’s possible to ignore regulations; it’s possible to fake compilance; it’s possible to put greed and momentary financial interest ahead of simple good sense. Houston was built on a flood plain. And the plain flooded.

The Harvey-wrought devastation is just the latest example of the consequences of Houston’s gung-ho approach to development. The city, the largest in the US with no zoning laws, is a case study in limiting government regulations and favoring growth—often at the expense of the environment. As water swamps many of its neighborhoods, it’s now also a cautionary tale of sidelining science and plain common sense. Given the Trump administration’s assault on environmental protections, it’s one that Americans elsewhere should pay attention to.

Nature knows what it’s doing. I walk with my dogs frequently along the Rio Grande in a wetlands area. It’s a little annoying in summer because of the bugs — this year in particular because it has been a wet summer — but I’ve seen the slough at work. The high river of spring had channels into which it could drain and from which farmers could draw water for irrigation. It was almost as if the river said, “Here, dude. For your potatoes.” It works great and nature built it for herself (and us; we’re nature, too).

Climate change denyers can deny all they want, but it doesn’t change reality. It doesn’t change the fact that 60 years (the time between my hurricane experience in Mobile and now) is a very short time for what has happened to our climate to have happened. Yes; climate cycles happen to the Earth, but sixty years?

Lamont and Dude know that from their many incarnations, including Coelecanth and Woolly Mammoth, but they would probably be the first to agree that — with the exception of the meteorite which made things happen rather quickly, ending their time as velociraptors — the changes were eons in the making. Lamont’s belief is that humans have acted on the climate of the earth in much the way the meteorite did.

I love nature. In my whole life when things in my life have been too sad or too glorious,  I’ve gone to trees, open spaces, the sky, water (if it’s there). I’ve never been unwelcome, misunderstood, or even lost. In nature is ALWAYS an answer to the question, “Where am I?” Thousands of times it’s pulled me up and out of whatever catastrophe has been my life in those moments (and sometimes it was really a catastrophe, such as my dad dying, or my brother dying, my house under threat of foreclosure…) and shown me something. Last night on my simple, short walk with the dogs,  it was the call of a Coopers Hawk from a cottonwood tree. There is always something.

Beyond nature’s personally redemptive powers, it provides everything we need for life. Seriously. As I watched some very fucking stupid people yammering on TV in Houston I thought, “They have no idea.” I get it that they’re worried about where they’re going to live, how they’re going to live, where their children are going to live, how they’re going to eat — all of that. I’ve been through a natural disaster; I know it’s terrifying and the ordinary details of life are suddenly NOT to be taken for granted, but they think in terms of their landlord not calling them back (not that their landlord might be in his own shitstorm and unable to call them back).

But it’s a good metaphor. Extrapolate from that to REAL LIFE. Earth is our apartment building. Nature is our landlord. Without it we have no place to live, nothing to eat, no where to raise children. We do not even exist.

In my high school speech is a quotation from Adlai Stevenson. He compares Earth to the satellites that were orbiting our planet.

We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable rserves of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work and the love with give our fragile craft.

 

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/anticipate/

Wondrous Political Rant

So they redecorated the White House for the new King. This is the most expensive king we’ve had since George III. Every morning I wake up and there is new bizarre, startling and distracting news about this king. This morning he’s pardoned an unpopular, 85 year old racist, law-breaking law-enforcement officer, blocked transgender people from military service, and put strict sanctions on Venezuela.

Vice President Mike Pence said, “we will not stand by while Venezuela collapses into dictatorship.” (PBS)

The irony of that does not escape me. We’re in early days of what may be a comparable situation. The king’s relentless divisiveness, his lack of class, his unpopularity with international leaders, his manic mind-changes all function to keep our leaders and us off balance.

Meanwhile, hurricanes are hitting the south and neither FEMA nor NOAA has a director. The king claims to have everything under control and “leaving nothing to chance” but this is a hurricane. Still, I recognize that the king doesn’t believe in nature or science so you know, he might know things I don’t.

Given the state of the nation, I, personally, can’t think of anything less important than changing the law on transgender military and pardoning a sheriff in Maricopa County AZ. I suspect the families of military men and women who are being deployed because of the king’s notion that escalating a losing war is a good idea probably agree with me.

I read an interview yesterday that could have been called “White Like Me” — it was a black guy who’d gone undercover online as a white guy to find out what was going on in the minds of young white supremacists. Ignorance is what’s going on in their minds (I knew that but nobody listens to me) and brain washing. Not a discovery on par with the ice rings on Saturn, but it’s a little something though to concede that dignifies it beyond its desserts. We all know schools have been bad for a generation 😦

Daily I get posts from my representatives — both Dem and Rep — saying something horrific about the king, but no one seems to be taking action though I think action might be OK with the American people:

Trump is now viewed positively by only 37 percent of Americans, according to Gallup’s most recent weekly estimate. (Obama’s lowest weekly average never fell below 40 percent.) It’s even lower — just 34 percent — in Gallup’s shorter, three-day average, which includes more recent interviews but can also involve more random variation. (CNBC)

My guess is that all of this pot-stirring (campaign rallies, etc.) is to deflect attention from other more interesting news. The king needs to secure his base (of idiots) before the shit-storm surrounding him begins to fly publicly. I think it will. Mueller is moving. 

That news doesn’t get the same attention as do the antics of the flaming orange king, but it’s there.

In other news, a blast of anti-biotics and prednisone have conspired to send the sinus infection packing and give me really horrific dreams in which I’m fighting evil and losing.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/dignify/

To Teachers on the First Full Day of School

Watching the news and stuff… I see all these young people in Anti-fa outfits, old people marching with signs that hearken back to the last time they carried signs, I see a post on FB by a kid who doesn’t know what happened in the 60s re: race and thinks that the counter-protestors are no better than the White Supremacists. I try to explain history to him, and, to his credit, he Googles Birmingham and comes up with a church bombing.

It’s something. He realizes that he’s in the lurch; he has now looked into Fibber MacGee’s closet and doesn’t want to do the work. It’s a whole lot easier to say, “Violence is bad and the White Supremacists were planning a peaceful demonstration. Do you really think it’s all-right for the anti-fas to use violence? Anti-fa is fascist!”

He’s found a soapbox from which he believes someone of my generation will be cowed. But, no. I was never a “Peacenik” or whatever. I envy the Anti-fa outfit. It’s black. It’s scary. It says “Anarchy!” How to fight evil? Give it no quarter. I have learned that the hard way.

“Fascist, my child, is a particular thing,” I tell him. “Anti-fa may or may not be thugs, I do not know, but they are not fascist.” I see the whole thing sinking even lower into semantics. I end the conversation and ask my friend who this kid is.

“He’s an OK kid. Just got married. The nephew of my son’s ex. Rescued a husky last year.”

Rescued a husky? He’s OK in my book whatever his politics. Well, almost. I don’t think a Nazi husky rescuer would be OK. I’m going to have to take this on a case-by-case basis. I see that now. This kid hasn’t gone that far. And he’s curious. Curiosity means a lot. And he rescued a husky.

SO…

 

All you teachers out there, past, present and future, heading to school today, you have your work cut out for you. I’m glad it’s not me any more. I honor your effort, I respect your challenge, I love the work you do. Please help this kid out in whatever shape or form he arrives in your classroom. Our world depends on you. Seriously. I’m weeping as I write this.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry you don’t have a better salary. I’m sorry the gubmint doesn’t recognize the vital work you do. I’m sorry for acting out in 9th grade (3rd grade, 10th grade, 11th grade). And thank you for everything. ❤

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/lurch/

Anti-Nazi Movement

I’ve read and seen so much over the last few days that my head hurts and my heart aches. So much of it is based on incomplete knowledge (not that my knowledge is complete) selective memory, stupidity and blatant desire. Most of it ignores the fundamental fact that we are all on this planet together. Those of us in the US are in this country together, black, white, yellow, pinkish/red and speckled (that’s me), young, old, rich, poor, smart, stupid… We’re here. Right now. We all have to make a life. We all want a good life. We all know that shit happens all the time. There are booby traps down the road — sinister ones like cancer, car accidents, dead children, loss of work, divorce. We all know this.

I’m bewildered by the lack of pragmatism in some of my fellow citizens.  If my life is good YOUR life is improved. It’s really very, very, very simple. My desiring a better life for my neighbors (and working toward that in some small way) takes NOTHING from me but enhances  my little world.

For this reason, I do not understand racism. What’s the point? When I hear discussions about race, they often turn on little points of definition, semantics. The long term goal of our society should be the best life possible for all the people in it. What doesn’t work in that direction should be questioned by everyone.

I’ve never felt “white guilt” or been ashamed of being white. That just seems absurd. Some of my ancestors owned slaves. Some of my ancestors stood on board a ship and waited for someone to buy them so they could get off the ship. Some of them died on the way. Some of them died in servitude. They weren’t me. Universally all of them worked toward a better future for their children. All of us look at our lives and say, “I don’t want my kids to live with this.” We have all done that. Generation after generation has worked in its small way toward improving life for the next generation.

I think one of the most appalling things that is happening in the US now is that forward movement has been stopped by the fuckhead who “leads” the country. 

So what is forward? Peace is forward. Prosperity is forward. Education is forward. Medical care for all is forward. It’s not hard to know which way to go, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want these things. Each of us works in our own way toward these things for ourselves, our families and our neighbors.

It has nothing to do with politics, race, religion, age, nothing. It is human nature when it is allowed to blossom. 

My black students cared more about my skin color than I cared about theirs. I got that. My brown students, also, noticed my whiteness more than I noticed their “brownness.” In China, of course, I stood out like a sore thumb, but I also forgot about my own skin color at a certain point until I was reminded by a green-eyed man from Sinkiang.

Sometimes I feel caged by my whiteness. I grew up in a world in which Spanish was spoken and Mexican people were loved and admired. I was shocked to find out that wasn’t the same everywhere. I wasn’t conscious of my “whiteness” until my Mexican neighbor in CA pointed it out by saying, “You’re the first nice white woman I’ve ever known.” Wow. In one sentence I learned that I’m white and that whites can be assholes for no other reason than that they’re white.

I’ve been in the middle of a family broken by “La Migra.” I’ve seen what black gang fights and the desperation of poverty can do to people of all ages. I’ve taught young people with PTSD returned from fighting the hopeless war against terror. My life has shown me that every person needs compassion. Every person deserves the respect of curiosity about who they are as individuals. 

I taught a black kid about a hundred years ago. It was an English class. Rap was semi-new (it was the early 90s). My students wrote a weekly journal. This kid wrote about his favorite music. They all knew mine (because they interviewed me). I don’t remember his words exactly but he wrote something like this, “Hey Martha, you won’t believe this because I’m a black guy, but I also love punk rock music. I’m not sucking up. I mean really. I like hardcore, just like you. I got to see Jello Biafra last summer and it was amazing.” He felt he had to prove he was telling me the truth and offered creds to legitimize his claim. I slipped a Sex Pisols sew-on patch I’d bought but hadn’t used into his journal so he’d know I understood. It appeared on his hat the next week.

I believe it’s human nature to seek commonality — and we will as long as we have honest interest in others.

When the Nazis (or the KKK, or the MAGA douchebags) dress in a uniform they are saying, “I have subsumed my individuality to the morality of this group. I am the lowest common denominator. I have abdicated my right to self-determination. I am no longer responsible for pursuing the highest good.” They are no longer fully human — by their own choice.

It’s a huge responsibility being fully human. We work hard all our lives to achieve that. There’s an old man at the end of my block. He’s Hispanic. His kids are junkies, so he is raising his grandsons. He’s a lovely, noble, gallant, old-school Hispanic man of the San Luis Valley. He rides his bike every day for exercise. He tips his hat when I’m outside and he goes by. “You’re working hard,” he said one day as I was sweating and mowing the lawn.

“I’m the only one here to do it,” I said.

“I know what you mean,” he said. “Have a beautiful day.”

The fuckhead in Washington knows NOTHING about these individual people, but we all do. That’s where we live, in the grainy reality of human effort and ordinary kindness.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/grainy/

Disastrous Post

I live in an alternative universe in which workmen take on jobs and then never show up. I’m about to fire the garage door guy. I wanted to fire him last night in a voice message at his work phone, but when I called it, his wife answered and I hung up. Ha ha, that should give them an interesting conversation. Not disastrous, I hope, but interesting. Anyway, I’m torn between calling him and firing him or waiting for him to call me and firing him or waiting for him to show up ( ha ha ha ) and firing him. A little voice inside says, “Don’t call. He blew it,” but that reminds me of dating…

In other disastrous news, the US has, as a “leader,” a guy who doesn’t see anything wrong with his son having met a representative of a foreign and inimical power to get the dirt on the “leader’s” campaign opposition. This is a person with absolutely no ethical center. Such a person cannot be moved or defeated in any normal way. There’s no appealing to his “better” nature. “My son is a quality person.” Well, yeah. Low quality. The “leader” is not the disaster as much as are the people who elected him and the representatives who continue to support his bizarre and nefarious agenda. OH WELL.

Disaster was averted yesterday when Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog got out of the side yard. Once out of the yard (a major highway 50 feet away) Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog dived through the self-same lilac hedge into the front yard where Mindy was lying on the front porch waiting to be let in. It could have gone so wrong, but thankfully Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog has a strong attachment to her house, her pack and person. But she no longer gets to “run” FREEEEEE in the side yard. Her person has a strong attachment to her and doesn’t want a disastrous outcome.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/disastrous/