Sunday, March 31, 2002

Funny Bunny
Got this from Tish. He's a persistent bugger, but if he catches you, you can shake him off if you try really hard. Happy Bunny Day.
We live in a Good Friday world, but we are Easter people.
I'm quoting that from my local newspaper today -- a column by Diane Cameron, who is quoting something a minister said in an Easter Sunday sermon years ago. As Anita and others look at the glass, trying to decide whether it's half-full or half-empty, it's nice to have another metaphor to think about, one that reminds us of our human potential to rise out of our own ashes.

Saturday, March 30, 2002

Are you feeling a little altruistic today?
Many of us, including me, blog because doing so gives us a sense of self-satisfaction. But that’s not all we can accomplish through these writings of ours. Sometimes we can help to do some good for someone else.

This is a site that went live yesterday, and many bloggers have made it their mission to get the word out as widely as we can to generate support for this amazing boy. I’ve had information about this effort from someone I trust, so I know that is a real project to help Thomas Pacheco, a very real boy in very real need. So, check it out, please.

Friday, March 29, 2002

Happy Eostre
This is from a pieceabout the origins of Easter.
Spring holidays have been celebrated at least since the beginning of recorded history. They all mark the end of winter when the earth sleeps and the start of the spring session when everything seems to be reborn.

Early people believed that each season was ruled by a certain deity. There was a deity called Eostre, the goddess of spring, who was worshipped in the northern and central parts of Europe. Her name is believed to have come from the word to describe the direction of the sunrise - "east." Some think the word Easter came from the same source. Every spring people in these regions held festivals to honor and thank Eostre. They offered her cakes that are similar to hot cross buns.

Some early tribes believed that things found in nature, such as bodies of water, mountain and trees, had their own spirits. It is believed that the May Day festivals started as a tree worshiping rite. The ancient Druids, a pre-Christian religious sect found mostly in Britain and France, thought that trees, and most especially oak trees, were sacred objects. The Druids prayed to the trees for sunshine, rain, and to make the earth fertile.

Ah. Sychronicity. (See previous post.)
March winds are blowing, but at least it’s not snowing.
It is 65 degrees in Albany, NY today, and I took my mom out for a walk around the building, where we ran into Alice, a lovely woman whom my mother met when she first moved in here. So I left them to sit in the sun together and proceeded to take a more energetic 3-mile walk on my own.

There is a short path through a wooded area that I often like to take to have a least a brief illusion of being away from cement and human structures. I was remembering the secluded house I used to own in the country, set up on a hill where an ancient oak presided in its enduring solidity. In moments of despair or sadness or even boredom, I used to stretch my arms around its trunk (I could barely reach an eighth of the way around), lean my cheek against its weathered bark, and breathe into its essence whatever it was that was keeping me from engaging with the vitality of my life. In those intimate moments with that stoic oak, I understood the reverence that the ancient Druids felt for the divinity inherent in nature.

So on my trek through the woods today I looked for a replacement for my old confidant, and I found one – younger, less imposing, perhaps less divine. I don’t know. But as I stretched my arms around its trunk (I could reach almost half way around) and leaned my cheek into its rough hide, I again felt that mythic connection to its fundamental durability, its elemental link to the very heart of this mother planet. Like the priests at Dodona, I asked for truth. And the March winds continued to blow.
Don't Do It, Burningbird!
Shelley says that she's going to exercise her right to spontaneously combust her weblog. Among other stresses of life, she's intensely job hunting. Lately she's also felt the heat of heavy criticsm over the wires. I hope that she also can feel the heartfelt warmth from those of us who admire her courage to speak truths others don't want to hear, her articulate cybertongue, her fiery heart, and the inspiration she have given us to reach for our own blog potential. For many many of us, to have her leave blogdom is like a death. If she has to leave, for all kinds of reasons, then I hope she knows that we will welcome and celebrate her resurrection when it comes.

Thursday, March 28, 2002

This is not a black and white world.
I've heard it said that there are always three sides to every story: his, hers, and the truth. In this case, it's not even that simple. But there are two very clear sides, two very real realities, and I cannot help but hear the point that this side is making. In an interview with CNN's Bill Hemmer, this is what Usama Hamdan, a spokesman for the Palestinian terrorist group, had to say about the situation in the Middle East.

HAMDAN: I am not talking about eliminating Israel. I am talking about fighting for freedom against Israel's occupation of our lands. Israel is always, always trying to talk about (Palestinians wanting) to eliminate Israel. But as Palestinians, we are talking about the occupation.

The Palestinians will continue their struggle against Israel until they reach their goals. The main goal for the Palestinians now is to repatriate their lands and have their own state.

HEMMER: If there's any chance of Israel returning the West Bank and Gaza, there has to be some sort of cease-fire worked out, and then a peace agreement worked out after that. So why not hold back on your fire and see what can happen at the negotiating table?

HAMDAN: You are talking about cease-fires. Two months ago, (Palestinian leader) Yasser Arafat announced a cease-fire, and for three weeks no attacks were launched against Israel. But after three weeks, Sharon attacked the Palestinians -- he killed two of their leaders, one from Hamas and the other from Fatah.

After that, we understood that there is no real cease-fire with the Israeli government, that they want this cease-fire as a trick to continue their operations against our people. So if they want a real cease-fire, they are supposed to withdraw their tanks from our cities.

They are supposed to announce the cease-fire from their side first. We are not asked to do that because we are under occupation. You can't ask us, with the knife on our neck, to raise up our hands -- we must fight not to make this knife cut our necks. So you can't talk about a cease-fire while he's killing our people.

For the Palestinians, that is their side of the story. That is their reality. That is their truth. It is as true and real for them as their enemy's reality is true for that side. Neither group is willing to relinquish any of the "truths" that it insists are the only real reality. It's like a street gang war magnified ten thousand times. It is men-who-should-know-better taking testosterone-driven street-justice to its inhuman extremes. What in hell do they think their almighty God thinks of what they are doing!

No wonder I tend toward female chauvanism and irreverent non-belief.
Oh, this is just too perfect!
I used to have something on my site to keep track of the number of hits, and I probably will put it on my newly designed site when it's ready. But I'm afraid that I'll start posting things that will push up my hit numbers rather than stay true to the whole reason I started blogging originally. I have to admit, however, that Mike Sanders' suggestion for a "Google Persuader" is priceless.

Here's what he says to do:
Go to this page of popular Google Search terms and try to use every term in a paragraph on your blog. If you can use them in the same order that they are listed, with as few words as possible, it is even better:
[example] The Oscars awarded Halle Berry a pre-Easter present as well as bringing Elin Nordegren and Jennifer Connelly to our attention. I don't know much about Alex Baroni or Ostern, but Passover is coming and I think Ali G and Celine Dion are involved in some sort of controversy.

Ya gotta love it and love Mike for thinking it up.
As time slips into the future.
More of my past is gone again, with the passing on of Dudley Moore (just four years older than I am now) and Milton Berle. Uncle Miltie was a weekly staple on our black and white miniature TV back in Yonkers, New York in 1948. He brought transvestitism into our very living rooms and we loved it. He is the icon of Drag Queens. He played right to the camera with his zany "off-side" remarks, and we laughed and loud and loved every minute of his stap-stick antics. Good-bye Uncle Miltie.

In many ways, the importance of the deaths of these two extraordinary men pales in the face of the deaths of thousands upon thousands of good and ordinary people. But there is always the Big Picture and the Little Picture for each of us. Moore and Berle now. My mom, I imagine, within the next five years, and then it's me and my generation waiting at the finish line. I can't help think about that and what I want to do with the years I have left. I can't help wonder if some of what I'm doing is what I should be doing.

David Landsman tells a funny-but-oh-how-true story on his blog today about the conversations of a couple of check-out girls about "old people." Yes, it's relative. But yes, it's also all too real when it's real.

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

What's your number?
Got tothis enneagram test via a link from Tish.
I came out a Two.
Twos are defined by their empathy of other people. They are uniquely gifted at tuning in on the feelings of others. This makes them great networkers. They feed on their connection to others, love of friends and family. However being too caught up with other people can drain them, and cause them to lose track of their own personal well being.

Sounds typical for all of us actively "sandwich generation" people.

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

I keep forgetting that this is not the old real world.
In the old real world, I used to dream of having a forum – maybe a column in a newspaper -- that maybe thousands of people would read. I could put all of my views out there and people I didn’t even know would read them. And maybe I could persuade them to agree with my point of view. Or maybe I could inspire or encourage people who think as I do to speak out as well. But these people really wouldn’t know anything about me personally, so, if I wanted to, I also could risk irritating, antagonizing and, disagreeing with them with all the verbal vehemence I could muster. In the old real world.

In the old real world, before email, before blogging, I used to write letters. All the time. Letters to old college chums, old beaus, former students – people who knew me long and well. I could say just about anything I wanted in those letters. I knew that they would understand that sometimes I get carried away and get confrontational, aggressive, hard-headed. They would know how to call me on it without taking it personally.

Sometimes I forget that this is not the old real world. This is the web. And this is the blogging network on the web comprised of tenuous connections with only partially understood personalities. And that partial understanding works both ways.

I find that I am trying to make old dreams real in a world that is not the old real world. A blog is not a newspaper column with a lot of anonymous readers. And it is not a letter that I am writing to someone who has known me long and well and will understand that sometimes I come on really strong – and will forgive me.

I guess I have am finally coming to personal grips with the intellectual and intelligent discussions that have been going on ever since blogging started. What is it? Journalism? Diary entries? Commentary? What is our responsibility to our readers? Do we have any responsibility? I don’t know the answers. But my putting myself in the middle of some serious and uncomfortable blog dynamics is finally making me take these questions to heart. I suspect the wise path would be let allow my heart to figure it out.
Why do I always miss the good stuff?
While I’ve been riding my feminist bloghorse, there have been much more important issues being wrestled with on some of the blogs I most respect – and they all seemed to have checked in on the issue in the Comments section of burningbird’s blog – here and here and here. In a way, it might have been fortuitous that I missed it all because I tend to shoot off my mouth from the hip when I get caught up in the heat of the moment. (Heh. What an image that conveys!)

So now that the ashes are down to a smolder, I’ll state my position in less fiery terms than I might have had I dashed into the fray earlier. I made this comment on burningbird’s blog, but I think I need to say it here more publicly:

I have very strong viewpoints about any number of things, but I never would pull anyone's blog off my roll because they disagree with me. What I might do, however, is make a separate blogroll section called "dissenting opinions" or something like that if I wanted to make sure that my blog was not directly associated with theirs -- although they would have to be really extremists on all fronts before I'd relegate them to the hinterlands of my blogroll. …I not only agree with burningbird's "viewpoint," but I'm more and more despairing of the America in which I want to be a proud citizen. Our government has definitely let its shadow side eat up its heart and humanity. We are reaping what we have sown. My American countrymen/women who are still suffering the aftermath of 9/11 should not lay the total blame on the terrorists; they should look into our own government's heart of darkness. So, we (some of us bloggers) will all be in good company when we join each other on America's growing "blacklist" and mourn, together, the death of freedom and our country's part in the murder of innocents.

And I add here, as well, that I see that same shadow devouring all of the parties who continue to escalate the situation in the Middle East. There are no good guys in any of this – at least no good governments. Whatever good is left in any of us is hiding in our individual hearts, cowering in fear of being labeled “enemy sympathizers.” Except for a few brave souls who still remain true to The Golden Rule or the ethic of reciprocity, which is found in the scriptures of nearly every religion. Perhaps we have finally succeeded in killing all of our gods and our humanity as well.

Monday, March 25, 2002

History, whether fact or myth, is the story according to whoever is telling (or writing) it.

Tonight’s “biography” segment on the A&E channel was on Jezebel, the Phoenician princess whom the writer of her story in the Old Testament labeled a “harlot.” According to A&E, Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, King of Tyre and Sidon, and wife of King Ahab of Israel (869--850). She introduced Phoenician habits (and religion) to the capital, Samaria, thus earning the undying enmity of the prophet Elijah and his successors. After Ahab's death, Jezebel was the power behind the throne of her sons until the usurper Jehu seized power in an army coup. He had Jezebel thrown from a window, and trampled her to death under his chariot.

The perspective of the A&E biography is the story of the woman ... who rose to infamy as the queen of Israel. Being a foreigner, a woman, and one who worshiped foreign gods, Jezebel was a triple threat to the people of influence in Israel. From the moment of her arrival in Israel, her independence, aggressiveness, and desire for power earned her archenemies dedicated to her overthrow. After surviving economic and political turmoil, she finally met her match with Elijah, one of Israel's most revered prophets. Ultimately, she was murdered, leaving behind a legacy that remains today. But was Jezebel truly an evil despot, or simply a misunderstood and unappreciated woman who was ahead of her time? [emphasis mine]

As is its custom, the “Biography” program interviews various teachers, researchers, and writers with some expertise on the life and times of the person whose life is being examined. In the context of the current blogversations in process about religion and spirituality (all from the perspective of male-dominated religious persuasions), it might be worth those involved in these conversations to take a peek at these biographies scheduled for this week on A&E’s “Biography:” Mary Magdalene, Salome, Adam and Eve, and repeated on Easter Sunday, Jezebel.

Because of one-sided history telling, today, any woman who has strength, a voice, who has power and who is at odds with a political or religious establishment is likely to be called a “Jezebel.” Yet, there is enough research to suggest that the original Jezebel was, instead, a strong, courageous, loyal woman who stood up for what she believed in, who remained loyal to her father’s house, her family, and her religion, and, as a result, she was murdered at the hands of General Jehu, who was sent to commit the deed by the famous biblical prophet Elijah.

Jezebel was no angel. She had her armies fight and murder her enemies, just as her enemies in Israel did the other way around. She fought and killed in the name of her Gods, just as the Bible says the Israelites fought against her in the name of their Yahweh. But somehow she winds up as the “Queen of Infamy” while Elijah is hailed as a great prophet and leader.

Guess who wrote down that story.

For a broader perspective on Bible-based stories and other cultural mythologies, check out the scholarly publication edited by Carolyne Larrington, The Feminist Companion to Mythology.
The Lies We Watch
As the Academy Awards play out, I share herewith exerpts from a text of a local public radio interview with Steven A. Leibo Ph.D.,Professor of International History & Politics and Chair, Division of Social & Global Studies at Russell Sage College. His remarks were shared via email by a mutual friend.

I am always searching for ways to make the past more meaningful and to help people better understand the present -- constantly on the lookout for historically based materials that might excite my students about the wonders of our relationship with the past – to find works, from novels to films, to get them involved. And if some of those works perhaps distort the past, get it wrong because their creators are more interested in commercial advantage than educational advance – that is not a problem. Rather, it is something I can fix later, after the students -- inspired by seeing The Name of the Rose on medieval Europe, or the film on Gandhi on South Asia -- are finally listening.

And so it is not surprising that I went off last weekend to see the film We Were Soldiers Once, ironically doing so just as another generation of Americans were apparently dying in the snowy mountains of Afghanistan, fighting and dying as they did so often during Vietnam from the doorways of helicopters. And in truth, I had little choice about seeing it. After all, I had spent years studying and teaching about that struggle and leading groups of vets and teachers throughout Vietnam every year, and I know I would be asked constantly what I thought. So with some optimism, I set off, thinking perhaps that after so many years the pain that distorted and politicized so many earlier Vietnam films -- from the Deer Hunter to Platoon -- would have subsided and we might have a more nuanced presentation. And there is plenty of need for such a film – one that would depict in a more balanced fashion that struggle that began with so many good intentions.

That seemed a reasonable enough expectation, after all it was based on that powerful book, We Were Soldiers Once and Young by Harold Moore, the battle’s commanding officers and Joseph Galloway, a reporter who took part, and it is set in early 1965, before the anger and cynicism born of later frustrations had begun.

So I set off, not with any particular mind set, though I had read the book and met people who took part, had myself wandered in the Valley of Death it depicts, waiting to see what the film’s producers had done with our newest effort to tell the story of those young men who went off to war, valiantly hoping to defend the values of America as their fathers had once fought in World War II and Korea.

But what I found, after two hours of extreme bloodshed, was a film still too tied to the controversies of that era, that was afraid to even mention them -- a film that chose to simply let the flow of blood so graphically recreated for us by the makers substitute for real understanding of the sacrifices and patriotic motives of so many who fought in those early ears of Vietnam struggle.

In fact, not once in the entire film is there a discussion of why any of this is going on, not even that good fight against Communism, whose later collapse in the face of its many mistakes ultimately confirmed the importance of our struggle against it. But the film is afraid to even make the statement -- literally to even say the word. And what of the larger issue – that 20th-century-long planet-wide effort to end western colonization, which provided so much of the motivation among the Vietnamese for their struggle first against France, and then later the United States. It has been buried as deeply as anti-communism.

Not even for a moment do the producers try to enlighten us -- even as they so expertly show bodies blown apart and strong men dying stoically Рwith even a few of the reasons behind all this violence. And to make matters worse, fearing to explain the real issues, the producers fall back on the old clich̩ of turning the enemy into animals. The film opens in fact with a group of charmingly western French soldiers being ambushed by Vietnamese fighters, without even giving us a moment of reflect on what the French might be doing there, claiming curiously that the French did not know the terrain -- as if they had not held Vietnam as a colony for a century and were not, even as that very scene played out, trying to regain their colony lost during the Second World War. There was no effort to explain that embarrassing reality.

We are merely shown over and over again the word “massacre” printed neatly as a caption in an old French book on war, making it clear to everyone in the audience -- in case they later somehow managed to fall asleep during the constant images of swarming North Vietnamese soldiers -- that the Vietnamese just don’t seem to like westerners and have an especially rude habit of killing any western soldier with the temerity to show up armed on their territory. And those images are so vivid – those images of swarming Vietnamese – that it makes the occasional effort to portray the Vietnamese as humans look like sops to an after-the-fact political correctness committee.

And so I left the theatre, a theatre filled with young people on dates and a few older Americans sitting quietly alone deep in their own thoughts, wondering when or even if we would have a real film on that era – a film that would actually help us understand what happened in southeast Asia so many years ago …..

So, what are we left with in this age, so unwilling to look honestly and seriously at anything substantial – an age when the idea of a big event is staging a boxing match between Amy Fisher and Tanya Harding, when ABC’s Nightline is threatened with cancellation to make way for David letterman’s stupid pet tricks.

Sunday, March 24, 2002

I, Faithless
Jonathan Delacour and Mike Golby continue their examination of spiritual beliefs. I have come to a place similar to Jonathan's, largely by the same Catholic route, through Jung, but then onto other kinds of books -- Merlin Stone, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Robert Graves, Elaine Pagels, Annie Dillard....

What research and writing ultimately shows, it seems to me, is that we humans continue to create and re-create our gods in our own images. And then, when we allow our worst human nationalistic tendencies to motivate us to commit crimes against those not of our politics or faith, we can say -- not "the devil made me do it" but "it is the will of god." In his almighty name, we kill for land, for economic, political, and cultural control; we kill because we believe that we are right and "they" are wrong, because the god they created doesn't exist but the one we created does. Many individual members of organized religions live as good, moral, and compassionate people -- but not necessarily because of what their religious institutions are and have been, but rather in spite of them. Whether consciously or not, they live by the universal golden rule of "do unto others...." And in doing so, to me they prove the basic irrelevance of organized religion. (Except, of course, these institutions do provide employment for scholars, writers, monks, and clerics of all persuasions. And they give people a sense of belonging. I can get that from blogging.)

I place my faith in the wisdom of poetry. I breathe what I am: the first and last of all things. (Theodore Roethke)

There is no messiah but us.
Whatever World This Is, I Want to Be a Part of It
Spurred by David Weinberger's new book, Small Pieces Loosely Joined , there is all of this dense discussion still going on among webloggers about the nature of the "web." In her post on "Figments of Reality," Daniela of livingcode discusses these discussions. Her words reflects why I am so engaged in weblogging and its potential for human/e development. She says:

It is a temple that transcends space and territory. It is spaceless in the sense that not one person can claim this space as in the real world. But it is also a place that a lot of people want to partake of, and do so very well. It is extelligence. Is it for the lack of such physical spaces that we seek a virtual one? Or is it because we feel comfortable on neutral teritory, where the possibility of a superculture transpires more readily?

Extelligence. Superculture.

Does that make Blogtank the Extelligence Superforce?
Sunday Morning Coming Down
Unnhh. Too much sugar on that bus trip yestersay. Chocolate chip cookies on the bus; Pepsis at the Flower Show; chocolate mint fudge and m&m covered pretzels after lunch and on the way back. I look at Marek's post, including instructions for signing up at the new Blogtank and I want to go back to bed. (What am I doing here? I know what I'm doing here. This is not my world. This is my world. Marek's mania is contagious.) Boy, he must really crash after one of those manic caffeine-high pseudoterraforming binges. He could have flown all the way to Poland on his own last night.

Unnnhh. I think I bruised a rib the other day when a door I was pulling open rebounded and smacked me on my left side, head included. (I had stashed something behind the door and didn't realize it was sticking out that far. See, older isn't really wiser, is it?)
Halley and I Missed Our Big Chance
Halley Suit and her family were in downtown Boston today. Just think! We might have had a chance to meet if we only had known.
October Sky in March
On the way back on the bus tonight from a long day at the big Boston Flower Show, we watched the movie October Sky, about the kids who were inspired to figure out how to build their own rockets after watching Sputnik sail across the sky in October of 1957. I had seen the movie before, so I allowed myself to doze on and off while I listened to the sound track of my life at 17 as a freshman in college -- sorority rushing, falling for a fraternity guy, getting pinned, going to formal dances, learning how to drink lots of huge 10 cent glasses of beer without getting drunk, cutting classes on Friday afternoons to start the weekend's dancing, getting unpinned, and barely making the 2.5 grade point average that allowed me to go back the next year.

Like a lot of people, I review my life in the context of the songs that were popular in each of my life’s eras. Last week, I heard on the radio a bunch of Simon and Garfunkel songs, and they took me back to when my marriage was breaking up – Sounds of Silence, The Dangling Conversation, Bookends, Patterns, Cloudy. Every time I hear those songs I’m back being 33 again and watching my life fall apart around me and my two kids. When I hear For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her I have a good cry for the romantic girl I once was who thought love would be all I needed, that love would be enough. And every time I hear early Carly Simon, or disco's Donna Summer, I am back re-inventing myself into several different people at the same time so that I can explore so many of the things in life that I missed as a young and totally clueless wife.

And every time I start to wonder if the choices I made were the right ones and to fret about what the future might hold, I play my all-time favorite song as sung by Mary Travers. It reminds me that when one door closes, another door opens. We just have to keep going.

All my life's a circle/ Sunrise and sundown/ Moon rolls thru the nighttime/ Till the daybreak comes around./ All my life's a circle/ But I can't tell you why/ Season's spinning round again/ The years keep rollin' by./ It seems like I've been here before/ I can't remember when/ But I have this funny feeling/ That I’ll be back once again./ No straight lines make up my life/ And all my roads have bends/ There's no clear-cut beginnings/ And so far no dead-ends.

Friday, March 22, 2002

She's Baaack
My mom is back from my brother's. So that's the end of my marathon two-day writing spree.

My brother took my mother back to where she used to live to visit her older brother, who is living alone with his yappy dachsund and shouldn't be. It's heartbreaking to think of all the older people lost to themselves and the world. Long ago I bought the book Final Exit. Of course I plan to go out either blogging or dancing -- or maybe playing with my (soon-to-be) grandson -- but I figure I'd better be prepared in case karma takes me elsewhere that's not so much fun.

Oh well, tomorrow I am going, for the day, to Boston on a bus with a bunch of other women. I need to laugh, giggle, spend a few hours with some flesh and blood. Then, I have to tackle my taxes AGAIN, since my preparer can't find what I sent her. Bummer.

Blogtank continues to bubble, bubble and soon it will come to a full boil. And then what?

I finally downloaded an FTP program that I think I can use. But I'm waiting for b!X to finish designing my new blog-integrated site. I've seen a draft of the blog part. It is ME! That's my boy!
The Last Frontier of Romance?
(With a Capital “R”)

[What follows is what I have submitted to the regional dance magazine for which I write a monthly column. I was stuck for a topic until burningbird posted her thing about Romance. Thank you muchly, Shelley, for the inspiration.]

I have two obsessive activities these days: ballroom dancing and blogging. No, not clogging, blogging. It’s a way of communicating over the internet using online diaries (web-logs) that hyperlink to each other. Shelley, one of the young women whose blog I enjoy reading because she’s such a good writer, recently wrote this in her web-log: (I quote from it with her permission.)

Is romance dead? I'm not talking about a trip into Hallmark, resulting in the dispersal of either quick wit or Profound Thought of the Moment. I'm talking about moonlight and roses, dancing until dawn, looking dreamily into each others eyes. Romance. Capital 'R'…. Movies from the 30's and 40's showed ladies in long dresses being waltzed around the room by dapper men in tails…. Then the 50's made romance silly or crude, the 60's made it obsolete, the 70's made it either trashy or angst filled, the 80's put a price tag on it, the 90's made it depressing or trite, and now here we are in a new millenium, and I'm not sure if romance, or I should say Romance, will ever show itself again…… There's this little secret part of me that longs for the beautiful dress and being whirled around the room.

I couldn’t help noticing the point she made emphasizing the capital “R.” I assume because the difference between romance and Romance is that “romance” is what you have with one special person, if you’re lucky, while “Romance” is more fantasy. It can be staged -- the illusion created with music, lights, clothing, and demeanor. Needless to say, I responded by suggesting that she try getting into ballroom dancing. It certainly has all the potential for bringing a little Romance into one’s life.

Women seem to like “Romance” more than men. Most of us like to dress up, look elegant, and feel graceful. Men hate putting on tuxes, but we love how they look in them. It’s like going to our senior prom all over again – or maybe for the first time.

Recently I bought my mother a collection of music called “Voices of Romance.” As I listened to Perry Como sing “And I Love You So” and “It’s Impossible,” it occurred to me that today’s music doesn’t lend itself to the same kind of Romance as those sweet songs of the 30s and 40s. These days, the only places that create any kind of Romantic ambience and play the kind of music that makes you want to do sweeping waltzes and exquisite fox trots are ballroom dances.

I’m with Shelley about longing for the beautiful dress and being whirled around the room. But I don’t make any secret of it. Get out and dance, all you young Romance-hungry Shelleys of the world!

Thursday, March 21, 2002

Of Fishes and Ponds
There are times when I have thought that I’m just really not that ambitious. I retired from a job where my boss was a woman just a couple of years older than I. We worked great together. I like being a lieutenant instead of the captain. (I think that’s an appropriate analogy; I don’t really know how that military hierarchy goes.) I had a great deal of influence, but no real power. And the buck didn’t stop with me. It was a fine trade-off as far as I was concerned, and I stayed for 20 years in a job that I originally had planned to leave after the fifth.

I also have made conscious choices so that I would set myself up as one of the bigger fish in a variety of little ponds. That way I could have some status without really putting myself in competition with the really big fish in the really big ponds. Life is less stressful that way.

Suddenly, I find myself spilled into this breathtaking tank, this vat without walls, this pond-of-all-ponds. I’m this little fish pretending I know how to swim in water more than two feet deep. I want to go back to my safe shallow pool, where I know the rules and I can touch bottom.

Except my little pond is drying up fast. The future is in that vast, still unknowable space in which the Blogtank itself floats, full of fish still finding each other. I’m swimming as fast as I can, but I don't know if it's fast enough.
When I was young/er, I used to say that I wanted to be either famous or infamous. Either one would do. Anita Bora just interviewed me via email for a feature that the online magazine she works for is doing about older people and blogging. Heh. Maybe I should have been careful what I wished for.
Ok, now you'll really think I'm weird.
Every once in a while (starting about three years ago) I go through a series of incidents where the the numbers 11:11 or series of 1s come up -- sometimes it's the change I get when I buy something. Sometimes it's what my purchases cost. Often I just happen to look at a digital clock or my car's odometer when it happens to say 11:11. It hasn't happened in a while, and now it's happening again. Here's the even weirder part. There are web sites out there that say this is happening to other people. Here's one. I'm beginning to think it's some kind of "Devil's Tower" thing like from Close Encouters of the Third Kind. Being a non-believer in things mystical (I just love the mystical for its poetry and drama) I sure would like to figure out what's going on. Now, I know the theory that maybe I have those numbers stuck in my head and I subconsciously grok when those numbers are likely to appear on clocks and odometers, and so I wind up looking at them at those times. But that wasn't the case the first time the series of "encounters" happened. And then I forget about it all until it starts happening again. Now that's weird. That's really weird. I don't like it. I don't like it because I can't explain it in ways that make sense to me. But there it is. I hope that you'll be my friends, anyway.

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Blogtank: Better Than Sci Fi
It's better than any social science fiction book I've ever read because it's happening right now, joining not-so-small scattered blogpieces into a power-packed change-focused system that has never existed before.

In the words of its founder, Gary Turner: Day zero saw blogtank open up offices in over 10 countries around the globe with fully staffed divisions covering americas, europe, asiapac and africa operating 24 hours around the clock. A panel of 24 expert consultants have now joined our ranks, pooling experience, knowledge, expertise and all manner of almost superhero powers into one zero cost, zero infrastructure organization, hell bent on challenging the supremacy of the likes of accenture and ernst & young to name but two.

Who would have thought that, a year into retirement from 20 years struggling to be creatively productive within the immutable and frustrating contraints of a conservative government agency, I would wind up here in total free-fall freedom with a bunch of zero-fear webventurers. Life. Ya' can't help but love it.

So what am I doing in the middle of this? At the moment, I take my place in the rocking chair, over there by the window, where I can play the little old lady who sits and knits and listens. And then, when everyone else feels overwhelmed by all of the incredibly amazing ideas and concepts and solutions being shared, I stand up, click my knitting needles for attention, and organize the creative cacaphony into clear, precise, and implementable strategies. Then I rip off my cozy shawl to reveal a short, spangley party ensemble, I put on my dancing shoes, and we all go out and party. Bloglife. Ya' gotta love it.

Stay tuned for the further real life adventures of the Blogtankers: Our Force is With You.
Happy Birthday Fellow Picean!
It's Denise's birthday. "Sto lat," as they say in Poland, for which Marek is shortly leaving to visit his family. Have a safe trip, Marek.
"Where else could a global reach consulting team, with offices in more than 10 countries, staffed by 20+ experts in a variety of fields and professions, with round the clock continuous operation come into being in under a day with next to zero infrastructure costs?"

The answer, of course, is BLOGTANK! --creating a new breed of superheroes.
My First Officious Proclamation

I recently have been announced as “President of Blogsisters” by Jeneane Sessum, CEO of Blogsisters and Blogger Extraordinaire, and

I have accepted the highly valued invitation from Gary Turner – revered, sneaky and cunning Blogstickers entrepreneur -- to join the ranks of his brave and notorious Blogtankers, and

I have laid claim to my own domain,, and as soon as b!X finishes designing my virtual principality, I will assume regal leadership,

I hereby officiously proclaim myself Elaine of Kalilily, Resident Crone of Blogdom, with all of the rights and responsibilities thereunder.

So Mote It Be.

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Buncha stuff
Aaarrgghh. My tax preparer lost all of my tax stuff. Now I have to go and put it all together all over again, and I don't even know if I kept copies of everything. Is someone else's "god" punishing me for Blog Sisters or something?

Mike Golby grooves again. I thank you, Blog Sisters thanks you, and we hope that you'll come over and Comment anytime you want.

Romance. OK. Here's where I really show my age. I bought my mother a Reader's Digest music complation of Voices of Romance and I'm sitting here listening to Perry Como sing "And I Love You So" and "It's Impossible." Now, that's romance. Makes me wish I had a "personal" life.

End of Work In his compelling, disturbing, and ultimately hopeful book, The End of Work (1994), Jeremy Rifkin argues that we are entering a new phase in history-one characterised by the steady and inevitable decline of jobs. I read that book when it first came out. I think it's time for people to start paying attention to his predictions and recommendations.

Another Aaarrrgghh. Can any of you sweet young techies tell me what I have to do (in very specific terms, like codes and where they go in the template) in order to get my narrow right column back to the little wider width it was before?
Talk About Getting Organized!
Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Check out Blog Sisters' first official press release. No stopping us now.
That's My Boy!
Of course, some boys grow up to be really cool men.
I learned everything I know about the web and blogging from him. And this is what he does? YES!! That's my boy!

And I've been so busy trying to ferment revolution that I haven't been keeping up with my favorite blogs the way I usually do. However, I did get to some of the post from Mike Sanders about our blog identities (true or false or somewhere in between) and blog relationships.

I can tell you that what you see here in my blog is what you get if you meet me in person. This is who I am. Actually, this is more of who I am. A ballroom dance acquaintance of mine happened to find and read my blog. When she saw me last week she expressed surprise that I would put all of that personal stuff out there. Actually, if my face-to-face acquaintances ever asked me, I'd tell them the same stuff. Only there never seems to be any time or place for those kinds of conversations in most of my real world. I do, of course, have some close friends who know exactly the same things about me that I've blogged. So, I guess it really is a fascinating new dynamic out here in blogdom for many of us. Our readers, whom we'll probably never meet (except that I am absoutely going to have to meet Jeneane face-to-face at some point; she could be my much younger twin sister [huh?]), know more of our true feelings than most of the people we deal with in person. Absolutely psychologically fascinating!

Sunday, March 17, 2002

Eureka! I Found One!
Or rather he found me, thanks to Denise's complimentary post.

Tom at is another over-60 blogger, articulate and "authentic" (to use a word that he seems to like and so do I.) So I'm adding my first older&wiser blogger to my blog roll. It's a start.
Boys will be boys, I guess
So, I get home tonight and check into Blogsisters, and discover that there are a few guys who are putting us down. Now, we all know the reason some people put down others, don't we?

Jeaneane's response on Blogsisters says it all and says it all too well. And good old non-Blogsister Burningbird put it out there beautifully as well (with 28 Comments added on!!!) But I will add my two cents here anyway. (Did you think I wouldn't?)

I cordially invite those men who don't know what they're talking about because they have not felt compelled to look at Blogsisters to do sp. And, just in case you don't want to, here's one of my recent posts, and Blogger doesn't seem to want to let me hyperlink to it anyway:

Once upon a time, there was a clever young blogger whose address was She's disappeared off the web as far as any of us know, and she disappeared purposely. She made herself disappear because, as she explained before she packed up her bags and blogs and moved on, that she was being cyberharrassed and didn't know how to make it stop. It makes me so mad to think that all of that pain is following us here. Is there so safe place for women?

I ask because I believe that Jeneane saw Blogspot's Blogsisters as a space where web-savvy women (or, in my case, aspiring web-savvy women) could share what they have in common and explore, together, what they don't have in common.

I can't help wishing that more of you would share, in both real and web life, what makes you angry ? What drives you crazy? What drives you to Prozac? What do you wish there were more of? Can we, collectively, become a force on the web?

Here's an example of what we might blogjam on:
I happened to stumble on this as I was looking at some stuff about gender differences in learning:
We've had an interesting experience with a listserv here. The listserv services a computing subject with a mixture of students - young, old, internal, distance education, male dominated but some female. A mature female de student sent a friendly "hello, I'm so and so, I have x kids and a dog", sort of message and got FLAMED by two younger (we think) males who rubbished her and said who cares etc etc and complained that a listserv should only be used for content not social things.
Interesting sociological research potential. If women arguably need the chatty, supportive side to their learning, will being flamed by young males result in dropout?

On the other hand, I dropped out of a listserv of all women that had no intellectual content whatever. It was more "supportive" (virtual hugs) than any actual support group I've ever seen.

Research shows that women, generally, learn, communicate, and solve problems differently than men. Not necessarily better or worse; just differently.

We each have our own strong blogvoice. Blogsisters gives us a chance to make some really jazzy music together. I thoroughly enjoy solo performances. But there's nothing more energizing than a good blogjam!

As a researcher and writer with the New York State Education Department, years ago I put together a report that included research data on the different ways boys and girls learn, communicate, and solve problems. Even grown up boys and girls. Of course, the findings are generalizations, and there always are individuals who are a breed apart. My post quotes an issue and question I found on the web about distance learning and gender issues. I might have posted it on my own blog, but I was more interested in just getting a female perspective, the benefit of the experiences of the techie females who blog there. Even though there are so many of us brazen females out there boldly asserting ourselves among the equally assertive guys, there are also some female bloggers who are reluctant to launch themselves into the sometimes dangerous co-ed blogseas for all kinds of personal reasons. Blogsisters is a "relatively" safe place for these women to begin asserting themselves online. A teacher by nature and profession, I see such a place necessary and valuable.

It also kind of reminds me of the old days when my college dorms were not co-ed, or when I lived in the sorority house and we could all hang out together without guys around and talk about anything that came into our heads. What the guys wouldn't have given to be able to eavesdrop on those conversations! Hey, now's your chance.
Nights like this, I wish I were twenty-something again.
I just got back from a ballroom dance. There are two young men dancers I just adore, and they make me wish I were, well, more their age than mine. John just got his PhD. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in some computer field that I never could understand. He's from Equador and has that incredible Latin look and movement on the dance floor. I've known John for years; as a matter of fact, he doesn't have a car, so I used to drive him to and from dances with the understanding that I could get some good dancing in with him. Well, he told me tonight that he has two job offers -- one with ORACLE in San Francisco and one with OCLC in Columbus. It sounds like he's taking the Columbus one because he discovered some great dance places there. The only thing is, they don't do Salsa, and John is HOT in Salsa. I told him he could start a new dance trend out in Columbus. So, I guess I'm going to have to transfer my daydreams to the new West Coast Swing dancer/teacher. He's even younger than John, but I love the way he leads improvisations in just about any dance. Hah! There sure is a dance in the old dame yet.
A challenge to the Blogsisters:
This is for women only, so guys, don't bother reading this.

I've posted something on Blogsisters to which I would like their response. So, BSs (that's my contraction for Blogsisters), if you haven't checked the site in a while, please pop over. If you'd like to join, please let me know.

And, NO, this is not a veiled attempt to get Blogsisters into the top 40 at DapPop. However, if it turns out that way, well, then it was just meant to be.
This is why Jeneane is Queen least for me.

Jeneane Sessum blogs meaningful words, truths from her very heart, and this post, and this post, really got to me today. She's top notch when she taps into her willfull wit, but she's absolutely outstanding when she shares who she is at the core.

Saturday, March 16, 2002

Life is like a Rorchach, isn't it?

David Rogers brought up a valid observation in his comments on my Number 8 Tao Te Ching post. He says,

Someone, I've forgotten who since I didn't buy the book, translated Epictetus to bring it into contemporary language. In fact, there was some question as to whether it was even a translation anymore, or more a commentary. I guess it would be impossible to translate a given text without inserting some of one's own views and biases into the translation. I'm not sure how much one can do, reading various translations, to try to discern the meaning of the original, but it's probably worthwhile.

I had read several books of translations of the Tao Te Ching, and I quoted one from the book that I like best -- maybe because each segment is accompanied by relevant and dramatic photos. No doubt, however, Rogers is right: it is always worthwhile to try to figure out "what did he (or she) REALLY mean?"

However, I also am reminded of the saying that "we see things not as THEY are but as WE are." So, that makes life, including effots to translate the works of others, into a sort of minute by minute Rorchach inkblot test. Well, any discussion of that will get us into "objective" versus "subjective" realities, and I leave heavy stuff like that to Steve Himmer, Mike Sanders, AKMA, and David Rogers. Although, if they get into it, I'm sure I'll have something tangential to say.

What I find interesting is that sometimes dreams are where the real reality lies, if we have the wherewithall to sort out the wheat from the chaff. A good friend of mine has an excellent book out on The Practice of Dream Healing.

This is the dream I had just before I woke up this morning:

I am living in an apartment on the second floor of a multi-unit building that has a roof extending from outside the windows on my floor. One of my neighbors is a woman who actually lived across the real-world street from me when I had my house back in the 80s.

I notice all kinds of commotion outside and realize that a filming company is setting up to do a shoot on the roof. Assuming their place in the center of the commotion is a set of young prepubescent female twins, who I recognize as the twins who used to have a TV sitcom. In my dream I call them the Osborne twins (but I know that’s not the name of the real twins from the real tv show, although I think it starts with an “O”.)

I can’t see what’s going on from my window, so I go over to my neighbor’s, where a crowd is already gathering to watch the production. The crew places a quilt covered with a Native American print down on the roof. It looks just like the quilt I have in my closet (the quilt and the closet in the dream, not in real life). I get really upset that someone went into my apartment and took my quilt, so I run back and look – only to realize that my own quilt is still in there. So I go back and watch the production set up for a while.

I get tired of watching and go back to my own apartment, where my roommate has just come home. The roommate in the dream is the guy I went to college with who was married to Jeneane Sessum’s former employer. He decides that he wants chicken for dinner, so I give him a package that’s in the refrigerator so that he can cook it himself, and I tell him that I’m having the leftovers that I brought back from the restaurant. (In my real world refrigerator is sitting leftover chicken with rasberry walnut sauce. YUM). It seems that he’s planning to move (we are just roommates, after all), and I start thinking about where I’d like to go next….

No wonder I don’t want to get up in the morning. My dream world has more going on in it than than my real world.

(I was hoping that with this post Gary Turner would consider me a challenger to Mike Golby's ranking as Head of Zero Gravity. But now that I read it over, it's not nearly long enough. Oh well, I'll keep trying.)
Oh no! Not them, too!
Headline in today's local paper: Plagiarism of sermons is an issue for clergy. (I couldn't find the link on the Times Union web site.

Certainly the web should be a resource for clergy just as it is for everyone else, but "The problem for preachers lies in failing to give credit -- or in not making a sermon original," the article states. I'd rather hear an original, passionate, personal presentation than a canned speech any day. I guess I feel pretty much the same about weblogs (except for the news-based ones, of course.) And so, btw, I really don't agree with Dave Winer's assertion about
How people read on the web. They want to get to the beef asap. Most people will only skim, and record the fact that the article is there, and then use Google to find it when and if they need it. So the most important thing is to quickly say what you're going to do in the piece and who should care. Quickness is a very important thing. Most people just dash in and out. At least this is my assumption. That's one of the reasons I give quick soundbites, and the sources.

I guess that's why I don't read his blog very often.
The Numbers Games
While I didn't blog that stuff about my birthday to get more well-wishes, I accept -- with thanks and gratitude -- all of your belated ones (Gary, Tish, Mike, and Shelley). I think I've already thanked my fellow Pisceans Richard and Anita, and I'm herewith throwing in a plug for Denise's birthday on March 20.

Tish echoes my determination to disempower the numbers game. As we've all proven over and over here in Blogdom, it's the shared heart that counts. (Although it's hard not to check out the numbers in DayPop every once in a while, I'll admit.)

Friday, March 15, 2002

The Ayes of March
This is my birth month. My birthday was this week. I have been celebrating my birthday all week -- not on purpose. It just turned out that way. I was taken out to lunch twice (each time by a different set of former work colleagues) and tonight I had dinner with a bunch of other people, including two whose birthday it is this week, including a guy with whom I've (literally) danced on and off for the past almost twenty years. I went out dancing on Wednesday, and I'm going out to do the same on Sunday. Yes. March is a "yes" this year.

Mike Golby (bless his indefatigable big heart) mentions that I make a point of my age, which, as of last Monday is 62. I consciously tell my age for a reason: age is just a number, and, in this day and age, women my age can look pretty good. (Actually, as soon as I figure out how to upload images onto my server so that I can then insert them into this blog, you'll see what I look like and that I'm not kidding. I'm taking my mother to visit my brother for several days, and while I have that time without responsibility for her, I'm going to figure this damned ftp uploading crap out.)

It just pisses me off that our culture makes women so reluctant to give their age. We should be confident enough in who we are to admit how long we have been on this planet. I remember some story about Gloria Steinhem turning 50, and someone remarked that she didn't look 50. Her response was something like "But this IS what 50 looks like." So, maybe under my picture, I'll put "But this IS what 62 looks like." WELCOME THE CRONE!

And hey, the really cool thing is that now I can collect my social security!!
Friends a la Blog.
While Sessum screams dreams and Rage Boy reams screeds and Turner sticks picks, Golby grinds grist from the starry night, and the lone Pole leans, inverted, into the dark dust.

This is not real time. This is surreal time. This is kalilily time.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

Free At Last! Free At Last!
Thank Ev, I'm free at last...
...of banner ads, that is!
Tao Te Ching. Number 8.
My favorite number.
Translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English

The highest good is like water.
Water gives life to the ten-thousand things and does not strive.
It flows in places men reject and so is like the Tao.

In dwelling, be close to the land.
In meditation, go deep in the heart.
In dealing with others,be gentle and kind.
In speech be true.
In ruling be just.
In business be competent.
In action, watch the timing.

No fight: No blame.
The word is broken. The world is broken.
Again, Marek, who could be my other son, my sweet little Polish grown-up-boy, breaks our hearts, opens our own wounds with the sharp breaths of his ghosts.

What riddles are you speaking? The world is broken because I am broken. If I wasn't broken then the world wouldn't be broken. I want to be whole again, I want the world to be whole again. I am searching, I am so tired of searching. I read the writings of humanity, looking for the presence in the arrangement of symbols, looking for the magic sentence to make me whole again. I don't want to be broken, alone, disconnected. Afraid. Make me whole again. Make my Poland whole again

Motherlands and eternally disappointing females and words and worlds and whirlwind riddles. Chris Locke is right. Marek is right. It is all the same. It is all both.

I wrote this twenty years ago:

Once I wore the mask of the Shaman,
followed the rain
and flowed in the oak.
A grave of leaves marked
the way of my journey.
Stones rose at my call,
and night rode my shoulder
like an old crow, fat and familiar.

I don't know where the rain has gone.
The wind has breathed the leaves to dust,
and the stones have turned to silence.

Poets and Shamans --
where are we

We are here. In the motherblogland. Marek. Jeszcze Polska nie znigela, puki my zyjemy.

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Oh What a Night...!
(OK. What group sang that song? Was it the Platters?)
Ah. Danced for 2 straight hours non-stop. Worked up a good sweat, got some unofficial Argentine Tango tips, and best of all, did a hot Salsa and a cool swing with the cutest, sexiest twenty-something dance teacher around! Hey, I guess becoming a blonde really does work! I most certainly am having fun.
Hooray for Henry Jenkins!!
Henry Jenkins is director of the Program in Comparative Media Studies at MIT. MSNBC online features an article he wrote for Technology Review that finally gets in right about what's happening with "blogging." Henry Jenkins, you're my hero!
And What of the Body Electric?
The danger of becoming too engaged with life in a cyber-Utopia is the old spectre of the Decartian split that writers like William Gibson have taken to the mind-extreme. I think of b!X, who caused me some concern when he was of junior high school age because he seemed totally unconcerned about anything physical and spent all of his time in his mind – reading, writing, fantasizing. When he got is first little Apple (even long before it was possible to wire to the web), well, that really consumed his existence. And now I find that I am spending an inordinate amount of time blogging, blogrolling, commenting, and thinking about what I want to blog next time.

Slipping into a literal mind-over-matter life is especially easy when one lives alone, as I do, and as b!X does. I have to make a conscious effort to compensate, which I do primarily by ballroom dancing. I get a lot of physical contact and socializing on the dance floor. And I also try to get a massage once a month. I make a point of hugging my much-too-isolated mother and giving her massages as well. The psychological benefits of touching and being touched are not only important for infants, who, research shows, do not thrive without physical contact, without physical “socializing.” I believe that the same is true for all of us all through our human lives.

In his post on the web as a utopia, David Weinberger says:
We humans are at our best when we are involved with others. We are at our best when we are social and connected. The Web is a world that is profoundly social. Its geography itself is social, a map of connections and passions. It is thus a world that we've made for ourselves that is a reflection of our best nature and a place where can imperfectly perfect our imperfect natures.

What he says is true for only one part of who we are: our minds. (Well, and also part of our spirits – that part of our spirit that doesn’t need the body to express what is joyful and connected to the divine in the physical world.)

It’s significant and healthy, I think, that b!X has taken on baby-sitting for Galileo, the one-year old son of a friend. Babies love to hug and cuddle and smooch. Babies love physical contact. And so, while David is right that we are at out best when we are social and connected, we need to remember that passionately connecting minds is only half what we humans need to feel truly alive.

As an educator -- and a soon-to-be grandparent -- I'm also concerned with how this mind-body split might be exacerbated by the educational/informational/recreational richness of the web. A paper I found on the web (of course) does a very good job of examining this issue.

Learning Embodiment in Cyberspace: Morphing Toward Cyber-learners by Amanda du Preez, University of South Africa ends with the following statement:

It is however, important to note that we are bodies, we do not have bodies. Our bodies make us, just as we make them. We cannot truly know our bodies. We think our bodies, but we cannot know our bodies. They escape our grasp and evade the probing of our thinking strategies. Just when we think we have the body at our disposal, she slips through our fingers, so to speak. I want to conclude with Sandy Stone’s wise remark: ‘Even in the age of the techno-subject, life is lived through bodies’ (Stone 1990:109). We may add that even in the age of the cyber-learning, learning occurs through bodies.

Amen. Amen.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

These Crossroads
As I kid I used to come home for lunch from school, and my mom and I would listen to the radio while we ate. "Grand Central Station: Crossroads of a Million Private Lives" the mellow-voiced announcer would croon, launching us into the personal stories and histories of people we probably would never meet. Such is also the nature of Blogland.

Right at this moment, some of us are grappling with the kinds of stories that should be told and retold planetwide until we all "get it."

Meryl Yourish, Mike Golby, Steve Himmer (and others to whom you can link from their blogs and comments) are trying to understand the heart-and-soul breaking pain that victims of anti-Semitism and racism and bigotry of all kinds suffer. Such is the value of Blogdom.

I remember almost ten years ago, when my job involved going into schools in Harlem and helping them begin to assess how to begin making improvements in how students learn and teachers teach. In my life I have had dear friends of every possible race, color, creed, age, and sexual persuasion. I do not consider myself a bigot, but neither have I experienced the devastation of bigotry.

The first time I got out of the subway somewhere in the middle of Harlem, I realized what it feels like to know you are the "other." I was the only white face in every direction and I had no idea where I was or how to get where I was supposed to go. So, I stopped and asked directions -- of people on the street, of store owners.... And everyone I asked was helpful and nice and, slowly, I made my way across unfamiliar streets with unfamiliar faces and found my destination. No one there thought of me as "other." That was my hang-up. Things are always more complicated and, at the same time, less complicated than we think. No wonder we're all confused, and that's why we need to continue the conversation.
Weaving Cody’s Thread
I am consistently motivated to latch onto blog threads that Richard Cody spins. This time, he winds around Jung’s notion of the collective unconscious and the archetypes that emerge from it; Alan Moore’s notion of Idea Space, unbounded by time and place; and Stephen King’s comment about “unearthing” his stories from some deep, buried place. His post is worth reading on its own, and so I’m not going to quote from it.

Last week at my “group” meeting (this is a group of writers and “seekers,” all of whom -- except for me -- are M.D.s or psychotherapists), I announced that I was taking a hiatus for a few months. Weblogging has given me an opportunity to practice writing “personal essays” – a switch from poetry that I’ve wanted to make ever since I took a workshop several years ago in that genre at the summer conference of the International Women’s Writing Guild in Saratoga. Blogdom is an environment designed to embrace the personal essay.

The group facilitator took out a copy of a Volume 25, Number 1, Spring 1990 of Voices: the Arts and Science of Psychotherapy, which contained an article I had submitted for this issue on “Psychotherapy and the Mythic Journey.” As a parting gesture, he asked me to read from that article, a long essay interspersed with some of my poetry. The article matches up nicely with the pattern of Cody’s blogfabric, and so I decided to share the beginning of it here:

I am used to the company of shadows. One I remember from earliest times, when as a child afflicted with serious bouts of asthma, I spend long lonely weeks with only my radio, my books, and my paper and pencils to distract me from the boredom and isolation of my sheltered life. Restricted from the physical play that would connect me to the outside world, I learn to reach into the dark places behind my eyes for the companions and the adventures that are denied me out in the streets. I use my imagination to give some satisfying form to the loneliness that accompanies me always, like some sad and shadowy muse. Over the several early school years during which my illness rules, that Shadow becomes my guide to colorful inner lives of my own choosing – worlds of willful princesses and warrior queens, of dark erotic forces and fierce exotic songs. Rather than fear the dark realms into which my shadow leads me, I learn to trust it magical power to help me build the paths I need to find my way out of my sterile room, from the careful and ordinary family with whom I still feel an outsider, a changeling. As I grow older and the asthma subsides, the Shadow that has become my knowing guide continues to assert its presence through my writing and through my interest in things magical and mythic.

Years later, working with a friend/therapist/poet/shaman, I begin consciously to call upon that loyal Shadow to help me shape the chaos of feeling that brings me to his door in the first place.

And that is how I met the Tooth Mother and discovered Lilith and Kali and found out that dancing with one’s shadow is not only not dangerous, it bloody well can change your life.

Monday, March 11, 2002

Absolutely Amazing Card Trick
This is freaking me out because I can't figure out how it works!!!! And it works every time. Of course it's midnight and I'm lucky I can still focus on the monitor screen.
..this is one of those damned posts that I changed my mind about but it got stuck into the ProBlogger "future" folder and I tried to get rid of it and it won't go away. yeecchh.
Michael Moore: We Know Where He Is
Michael Moore, "Author, Filmmaker, NonEvildoer" tells of his amost getting arrested at a book signing in San Diego. So, now I have another non-fiction book to add to my pile: Stupid White Men.. I might have to either give up blogging or give up reading books written by bloggers.
Elise Tomek, Where Are You???
Mike Sanders' blog reminded me that I meant to put out a call for Elise as well. She moved her web site because she was getting harassed online by someone or someones and didn't leave her moving address for that reason. However, I'm with Mike about hoping that she did not leave the blogging community and will find some way to let us know how to connect with her again.
Speaking of Journalism

My politically conservative cousin emailed me this list, but I think it's worth a chuckle anyway:

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

2. The New York Times is read by people who think they run the country.

3. The Washington Post is read by people who think they should run the country.

4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand the Washington Post. They do, however, like their smog statistics shown in pie charts.

5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country, if they could spare the time, and if they didn't have to leave L.A. to do it.

6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and they did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.

7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country, and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country either, as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

9. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country, or that anyone is running it; but whoever it is, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped, minorities, feminists, atheists, or
happen to be illegal aliens from ANY country or galaxy -- as long as they are Democrats.

10. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.

(So, how would we classify people who read blogs?)
Life Is A Dance

Life is like a beanstalk, isn't it? (I think the beanstalk thing is from some 60s or 70s psychedelic rock song. I remember that I made my brother a wall hanging back then with a beanstalk and that phrase.) And it's also like a box of chocolates.

But for me, it's a dance (at the center of which is the Stillpoint).

So yesterday, while Jeneane was watching the movie of Peter Pan with babyblogger (the first time for both of them), I was getting dressed to go out and dance. Which I did for 2 and a half hours of non-stop waltz, tango, salsa, fox trot, hustle, rhumba, samba, swing (east and west coast) -- you name it I did it. And for a change there were plenty of guys to dance with who really know how to lead. Ballroom dancing is as close to romance that I get these days, which is fine with me. It's also my major form of exercise. If I don't come home drenched with sweat I haven't danced enough.

I write a column for a monthly regional dance magazine. I write whatever I want to about ballroom and social dancing. For my next column, I'm going to use some of burningbird's blog on romance as a theme. Ah, the bountiful benefits of blogging.

Saturday, March 09, 2002

Why Can't It Be This Simple?
This is the last thing I want to contribute to the ongoing blogversations about religion and spirituality.
It seems to me that religion has two purposes: 1. to provide avenues for individuals to connect with what what they perceive as divine in the universe and 2. to provide a code of conduct so that we weak-willed humans have support in maintaining some sort of semblance of morality, honor, and ethics in lives constantly assaulted by all kinds of temptation to do harmful things to others and to ourselves.

I still don't understand
1. why all religions don't have just one commandment -- do under others as you would have them do unto you (because the old Golden Rule pretty much covers it all) and
2. why all of the diversities of connections to the divine aren't honored and respected as efforts in the right direction.

As it is, the way it is, we continue to have centuries of conflicting destructive Crusades; increasing violence and oppression against the weak and unprotected; hypocrisy and manipulation infusing the minds and hearts of leaders of all kinds etc. etc. What we have isn't working. Maybe it's just too complicated and we need to simplify. Simplicity of heart.
March winds doth blow. We shall have snow.

After 60+ degrees today, we’ll have snow and freezing temperatures tomorrow, so the weather report says.

Today they were all out walking – some with their four-footed canes or high tech walkers; some with only their Rockports and slow, careful steps. I didn’t see the woman with the three-legged dog and realized that I hadn’t seen her in a couple of weeks. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but then, again……..

I took my mother outside this afternoon, and we walked around the building. The sun drenched warm, the breeze sighed mellow. Six geese and a pair of ducks descended on the defrosted pond. There are good days, and there are bad days. My mom was asleep by 7.

My daughter tells me that I can go and live with them at some point, after my mom is gone, after I decide that I don’t want to live alone any more, or after I realize that I can’t live alone any more. I wonder what the next phase of my life will become, when I don’t have the responsibilities that I now have.

My “fear of blogging” friend says that after she retires next year she’s going to travel – go wherever she wants when she wants. She’d like to have someone to travel with, and she’d prefer a male life (what’s left of it) partner, even though she’d also be happy traveling with me. We’ve always had a blast when we’ve gone away on vacations together. Only I don’t really like to travel, at least not often. I don’t think travelling is how I want to spend my time after…..

Sometimes I think I’d really like living with my son-in-law and daughter and their little boy (who will be born in July). I’ll help them buy a big house near the ocean where I’ll have a separate space all to myself where I can ruminate and write. I’ll take my grandson on long walks on the beach and teach him to cook all of my specialties. I’ll look like Judy Dench and age with grace and wisdom. And I will have one more great love affair before it’s not worth the trouble.

Then, again, I think – Tina Turner is the same age as I am. Conceivably, I can go on ballroom dancing as long as I can find someone to dance with and my feet hold out. I can keep my hair blonde and make maximum use of all the funky dance clothes and dance shoes that I have cramming my closets. I’ll keep Tina as my role model and age with presence, spunk, and mild irreverence. And I will have one more great love affair before it’s not worth the trouble.

Or maybe fate has something else in store for me. No matter what, though, there’s always the blog.
Cool Optical Illusion
Can someone tell me how to delete a post completely? I had somehow gotten into the "Future" editing section of BloggerPro, typed stuff in and then changed my mind and tried to delete it -- only it doesn't delete. Now there's a post date that comes up (like this one -- so I justed edited this text in) even though I want to delete the whole thing? And how do you get the topic line to come up in BloggerPro like it does for Blogsisters' posts? I need a Blogger for Dummies manual. ;-(
When Information Really Was Free
In my local newspaper today, my favorite Oldster Curmudgeon, Andy Rooney, tells of his experience as a reporter in WWII:
Our current military leaders in the Pentagon would find the press operatoon in World War II hard to believe. In June of 1944, days after our invasion of France, I joined the first Army press camp. There were about 25 reporters there.....

Every morning, reporters from different organizatons paired up in the jeeps and sent out for the front lines..... The reporters in search of stories told no one where they were going. They didn't tell the fighting units they were coming. They asked permission of no one. They each went where they thought the story was and talked to the soldiers fighting the war. No one stopped us.

We had two censors, lieutenants, assigned to the camp. Their only job was to delete anything that might reveal troop locations. They were not charged with changing our copy to make it more favorable to Army commanders.

The American public learned first hand, in a day, more about the progress of World War II than it will learn in a year about what we're doing in Afghanistan or anywhere else our mililtary is in control of what the public is told.

That's wrong. It's un-American.

For all of the information-sharing technology that exists planet-wide, getting at the truth is harder than ever. Back in the 70s, I remember reading a book called Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered byE.F. Schumacher. I remember being impressed by his idea of "appropriate technology." Sometimes bigger is not better.

I still have the paperback version of that book, yellowed with age and underlined with yellow highlighter. I think it's time for me to re-read it. I wonder how the concepts fit it with the Cluetrain philosophies.

Friday, March 08, 2002

Confessions of an Elitist
I posted much of this as a comment on livingcode, but I want to blog it here as well because it's a big issue that I struggle with constantly -- and I've already settled the big cosmological issues to my satisfaction and have no more to add to the various blogposts that have been out there over the past week or so.

I am always at war with myself about feeling like an elitist when it comes to "art" forms, because for me, in order for a work to be a good poem, or a good painting, or a good novel, or a good performance, it has to combine both powerful creative expression and careful, precise CRAFTING. Creative expression is good, meaningful, cathartic -- but, IMHO, not necessarily crafted well enough to be considered "art." I have had lengthy arguments with my dearest friend who is an expressive arts therapist about what is art and what is not. We have yet to agree. A former lover of mine writes clever verse. I see a very clear distinction between verse and poetry as well. And I'm not trying to say that I'm a great poet, although I have written some good stuff that has been published by others.

Lyn Lifshin, a prolific poet I used to know when she lived in my region, once said that if you feel that you've been punched in the stomach, then you know it's art. Go to her site and read some of her poetry and you'll understand what she means, although her most powerful ones are not necessarily on her site.

So when is a poem a really good poem? I guess it depends on whether by "good poem" you mean good "art" or just "inspiring message" or some other definition that ignores the carefully wraught details of the "craft." For most people, it doesn't matter. Maybe I just can't shake all those years of both studying and teaching the processes of creative writing -- and reading lines like Theodore Roethke's "Near the graves of the great dead,/even the stones speak."

Thursday, March 07, 2002

Right On, Sisters!

This is Women’s History Month. Of course, you all know that. Womens e-news is running a special series of essays by five women whose ideas and activism three decades ago were cornerstones of a widespread national movement for women's rights. These women are pretty much my contemporaries, and they put me to shame with their meaningful accomplishments.

The current essay, Why the King Made Me a Feminist caught my eyes. In it
Carol Tracy, executive director of the Women's Law Project in Philadelphia, reflects on how her first jobs as a secretary informed her work later on as an attorney advocating on behalf of women.

What actually caught me eye was Tracy’s opening line:
My activist life probably began in sixth grade, when I was thrown out of my Roman Catholic school classroom because I refused to accept Sister Marie's criticism of Elvis.

She goes on to say:
Elvis was sexy and broke the rules--a white man singing the music created by blacks and swiveling his hips suggestively to teen-age girls while he did it. I loved him and the spirit he embodied and that got me into trouble at school and fired from secretarial jobs--experiences that got me into my life's work…..

Carol Tracy became a feminist because she was motivated by a deep commitment to equal opportunity for women in the workplace, even though Elvis might have been her original inspiration.

I became a feminist because I really was motivated by Elvis and his ilk. I was motivated by wanting to have the social freedom that men have. I wanted to be sexy AND not have that interpreted as an invitation to be “hit on.” I wanted to be an equal participant in the male-dominated intellectual conversations that went on far into the night. I wanted to be one of the guys, except when I wanted to “enjoy being a girl.” I wanted the choices that men are allowed to have. And I did not want to be told what was proper for a girl to do and what was not proper. I wanted to be dealt with as a strong individual who had the intelligence and self-awareness to make conscious, self-respectful choices. I wanted the right to be equal to, but different from, men.

Did I get what I wanted? Actually, very often I did. And very often there were consequences, which I saw coming and knew that I had to be prepared to take.

And I also was extremely lucky enough to find jobs that let me be who I was as an individual while I applied my abilities as a professional in the field of education. I found that it also helped to present myself as an “artist,” a writer, a poet. People tend to give much more latitude in terms of accepted behavior to those who -- they believe -- are artistic and creative, just oddball enough to be interesting but not irresponsible.

But that was then. This is now, and from what I see around me, intelligent, creative, responsible -- and even oddball -- women abound and seem to have much less trouble than the women of my generation had in asserting who they are.

This is Women’s History Month. What I read on womenblogs are the amazingly intelligent and often very clever assertions of young women who are making today’s web history, pioneers who are pushing the boundaries of another frontier that must demand an equal place for women who continue to insist on being equal to but different from men.

Right on, sisters.
This Is My Quest...
As Blogsisters searches for more female bloggers to bring into the fold, I'm on a different blogquest. I'm looking for bloggers over 60 years old, and so far I haven't found many.

As one gets older, one often feels isolated; time seems to pick up its pace while we slow down. We are sandwiched between generations who need us for all kinds of things. The internet offers connection, and blogging offers meaningful connections selected from a world-wide pool of like-minds.

The problem, of course, is that many over-60 individuals never really got into technology. Just about all of the thoughtful bloggers I've encountered are of the age at which they could be my offspring. I thoroughly enjoy interacting with them, and I love the idea of playing "cybermom." But it would be enjoyable, as well, to blogverse with people who are sitting where I am now. So, if anyone reading this knows of any, please send them my way.

Related to this is the suggestion on kuro5hin's site that politicians should have weblogs, and b!X's addition of artists and astronauts to the list. already has teachers and students blogging very creatively. Any more suggestions?

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Oh My Good Goddessness!
I am overwhelmed with synchronicities this week, but here’s the clincher:

1. I recently made a decision to bankroll b!X to get him launched into a new web construction business, based on the Cluetrain precepts. It was a big financial decision on my part, but, I felt, worth it for a number of reasons.
2. Tonight I spent time in the bi-weekly “group” I belong to talking about my decision and why, and, being the Jungian souls that the group members are, the archetype of the “Many-Breasted Artemis” came up as a metaphor for my “generous” decision.

So – this is what blows my mind – I get home after the group meeting, check in on b!X’s web site, and discover that he has posted this, his Free Will Astrology reading for this week:

“Man in his present state has as much desire to urinate as he has to make vows to Artemis," says writer Edward Dahlberg. In other words, most modern humans have no relationship with wild female deities, nor would they ever conceive of a reason why that might be fun or sincere or inspiring. But my reading of the current cosmic omens leads me to suggest that you contradict Dahlberg, Scorpio. Artemis is not dead, I swear to you; she is not just a figment of the archaic Greek mind. She is a living archetype of fiercely nurturing female energy. Goddess of the ever-changing moon, strong protectress of the undomesticated soul, she gives sanctuary to all who prize liberated fertility. I dare you to make a vow to her.

I'm starting to feel like I've got a direct connection to the wiring of the universe. (As I commented in another context, We witches. We maenads. We hold your souls by our silken threads. We spin the net by the grace of our hands. We Blogsisters.)