Monday, February 23, 2004

Home Sweet Home

I'm heading back to the old homestead, back at the real kalilily time. Sorry for the inconvenience, but b!X has finally got his DSL back and so I'm back in business on MT. At least I am now -- until the next time fate intervenes.


I'm frantically trying to turn around a editing job that needs to be done in a couple of days, but I just have to note an excellent piece by Walter Cronkite about The Marriage Debacle. The right wing would do well to pay attention to the perspectives of this respected elder statesman about the gay marriage issue, which conclude with the following:

Where is the Christian tolerance in those right-wing Christian leaders who would impose their religious beliefs on the entire diverse population of the United States, even to the extent of a Constitutional amendment curtailing our rights of religious freedom?

As the CCR leadership presses this matter, which they depict as a moral issue, they threaten a religious war that will split our nation at a time in our lives when unity would be helpful in attacking far more critical problems on which the future of our nation depends -- our foreign policy, the economy, education, medical care and the environment, to name a few.

In the difficult days ahead, the tolerant among us -- Republican, Democratic or Independent, Christian, Muslim, Jewish or nonbeliever -- are going to have to try to preach another morality, and that is the morality of tolerance.

And speaking of debacles, what the hell is Ralph Nader thinking!!! He used to be a smart man who understood that personal ego needs to come second to larger human issues. How the mighty have fallen.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Out of Focus

I think I remember a time when I could focus on one thing at a time -- a poem, a person, a pleasure -- when the process was as important as the product. I'm trying to remember when the last time was that I felt that focus, that stillpoint. Oddly enough, I think it was was a decade ago when I used to go out on Thursday nights to dance the Hustle for hours on end. I would follow the lead with such total focus that all I was aware of was my blood humming to the rhythm of the bass and my body carving sharp arcs through the smokey air.

I think I used to know that same kind of focus when writing a really good poem, feeling the rhythm come, hearing the hum of swarming words. But that was when I lived alone, with long, quiet moments to feed my focus. That was when I would have hours of down-time at work, alone in my own office, with nothing to do but let myself succumb to the processes of dream time.

I think what happened is that I got really good at my job -- multi-tasking, meeting deadlines, serving many masters. Scheme thinking. Quick thinking. No time to dream, alone, in a corner with a window.

I think what happened is I learned to care too much. I think what happened is that I let the world nibble away at my layers so that I lost my deepest secrets.

"The Many Breasted Artemis" my shrink once noted, as I unloaded my distress at being expected to always be the nurturer, the feeder, the source of unlimited resources, the problem-solver, the responsible one.

I thought that when I retired, I would be able to find, again, that dreamy focus. Instead, it takes me until midnight to finally breathe evenly and deeply, to let go of all of the knowing. It takes me until midnight to finally feel the yearning for deep secrets.

But to have secrets, one has to have a life beyond the giving of care.

I'm waiting for my time to come again, when I will, again, simmer and stir, ladle, at last, into mounds of midnight words, that witch's brew.

Friday, February 20, 2004

You can't choose your family....

... but you can choose your friends. And, in many cases, friends become better than family.

I'm thinking this because of conversations that have been going on as a result of something Shelley Powers wrote about "community" and that Jeneane Sessum took off on.

I'm thinking this because, surrounding the quilted piece that a friend made for/about me, I've hung photos of family and friends -- my community. Together they make up my "wall of power" -- of which I'll post a photo when I get back to my regular weblog.

I'm thinking about this because my family of origin includes too many narcissists. They wear me down, weary me, stir worry. So it's my friends who help to keep me sane.


Some people seem to need the support of a close -- and often closed -- community. They feel protected by norms, rules, limits which they are not supposed to cross. "Beyond here there be dragons" the old world maps used to say. Stay where it's safe.

Then, there are others, like me, who are more comfortable walking the rim. Not really outsiders, because we tend to keep our fingers on the other pulses. And not really loners, because we do form friendships. But we don't really join or participate in large group-think. We like the freedom of the range, dragons or not. It's not that we particularly like dragons, but we'd rather risk incineration than accept the confinement of rigid community. Rim Walkers. Warriors. Dragon-riders. Mythology is full of the glory of such lifestyles.

Somtimes it's nice to be nice. But spice is more alive, and also a lot more fun. You just have to make sure your skin is thick enough to withstand the heat.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Worried and Weary

My mother turned 88 yesterday. I just had some major dental renovation completed. I haven't even begun my taxes. I finished knitting two sweaters for myself that came out really well. I keep thinking of all of the things I want to blog about and then get so tired that I never make it to the keyboard. But here it is, after 11 p.m. and here I am.

Speaking of knitting, Allan Moult, over there on the other side of the planet from me, is publishing an attractively designed online magazine, Leatherwood Online, that recently had a really neat article about

a powerful art installation .... enabling everyone and anyone in the community to actively participate in the creation of a statement reflecting their love, care and willingness to protect the beauty of the Styx forest from further old growth logging. People throughout the community could knit red wool into pieces as short or as long as they personally had time and ability to produce, to be sewn together into 'hugs' that would be wrapped around the bases of trees.

I love the photos of guys knitting these bright red "hugs," -- punk guys, guys in suits, guys tending bar. What a multi-layered message about what's really important!

Jim Kulleny at NoUtopia is always posting important messages that add significantly to my worry about what's happening to my country. I happen to really like his piece on The Incorporeal George Bush, that. along with a great cartoon depicting George Bush's Vietnam war "decorations," ends with

For some, though, class discrimination is a way of life and as natural as falling into the presidency. This is what should matter to a nation stuck with the silver-spooned George W. The particulars of his story are important only as they reveal that while the probable Democratic nominee chose to lay his life on the line, George was busy forming an essential and enduring part of his character: enjoying the perks of influence while testing the meaning and value of connections and learning to smirk about it.

Meanwhile, I've been in and out of the poetry community, feeling like the "matriarch" that one of the poets (as a compliment) said I am. Well, I certainly have been writing and publishing poetry longer than most of the other poets in that community have been alive. As a matter of fact, I just took a big risk and applied to the New York State Writers Institute for acceptance into their upcoming workshop led by poet Eammon Grennan. They only accept "experienced" and "published" poets. While I fit into those categories, it still remains to be seen if the poems I submitted are good enough.

Actually, I did get accepted into and particpated in a Writers Institute workshop with John Montague, back in 1996. Suggestions he made for one of my poems helped me to get it published in The Berkshire Review.

I have no idea what my chances are of getting into the upcoming workshop, but, hell, it was worth a try.

I've been a little frustrated about not being able to post photos on this site. My friend Joan, the quilter, finished the piece she was making for me/about me. When b!X gets his DSL account straightened out, which he says might be as early as this Tuesday, I'll have to get back on my regular weblog and post a photo. I've got it hanging in the middle of what has become my "wall of power." Joan says that this piece is a reflection of her perception of my "inner" self. She's making another one for me that's more funky; she says that it includes an image of Betty Boop (a favorite character of mine) and one of my poems as well. Now, that's a real friend -- especially since, if she were going to actually sell the one that's hanging on my wall, she said she'd have to charge $300.

It's nigh onto midnight. Tomorrow I will find out if the people who need someone to edit their 400-page (about 8-times longer than it should be, as far as I'm concerned) proposal for a Charter School are willing to pay me enough to make it worth my while to get it done by their deadline, which is next Thursday. So, if I'm absent from here -- again -- this time you'll know why.

Just to add to my worry and weariness, on BuzzFlash, Maureen Farrell reminds me of those kinder, gentler days in her piece on The Way We Were


"The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war." – John F. Kennedy, June, 1963

"F*ck Saddam, we're taking him out!" -- George Bush, 2002


Thursday, February 12, 2004

Families in Jeopardy

According to The Washington Post, President Bush will endorse the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment. In doing so, he parts ways with a majority of Americans who do not believe we should write discrimination into the US Constitution. Amending the Constitution to discriminate against same-sex couples and our families is shameful - and we need to make sure that our elected officials know it. . You can go here to sign a petiton to support the right of every American to marry the individual of his/her choice.

Even though I am heterosexual, I have always had gay friends. I become friends with people who share my creative interests. I have danced with both gay men and gay women. I'll dance with anyone who's a good leader.

Having been educated in Catholic schools until I went away to college, I never even knew what homosexuality was until during my sophomore hear in college, when a female classmate decided she had a crush on me. I didn't know that at the time; I just figured she wanted to be friends, and so I was friendly to her. It wasn't until she invited me up to her room, and I went, and she asked me to sit on her bed, and she tried to kiss me that my perspective on the sexualities of the human species began to broaden. I remember stuttering out some lame excuse and stumbling out of her room. It took me a while to process what had happened; I didn't want to hurt her feelings, and I didn't have any idea how to handle the situation. So I tried to avoid her. But she was always there. I even found her sleeping in my car. I finally gathered up the courage to tell her that I wasn't interested in her. It was all so awkward, so painful for both of us. No one was really out of the closet then; no one really wanted to talk about what it's like to be gay.

How different it all is now. Last month, when I ran into one of my gay friends/former colleagues and her partner at a movement workshop, we all hugged and asked about our kids and what we were up to and how our kids were doing. (My friend had a daughter through artificial insemination, and she and her partner are raising the girl together; they are a loving and committed family in most most nurturing sense of the word.)

It seems to me that, if there is such a thing as a human soul/spirit, it is gender-neutral. Marriage is the joining of spirits, the connecting of souls. What matters is how you join your lives, not how you join your bodies.

This world is full of so much violence and hatred and abuse and fear. We should support and celebrate any human union that is founded on caring and love and respect.

The Bush Action figure.

Heh. It's about time --

Check this out!

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

So, how does this look?

I needed to change this template so that I could have a sidebar that would take links. And I figured out how to add a Comment feature. I was hoping that b!X would have his server hooked up to his DSL by now, but I'm beginning to think it's never going to happen.

So, how readable is this new format? Hello?? Hello??? Anybody out there who knows where I'm living these days?

Monday, February 09, 2004

Gun Shots in theSpring Air

It's almost 40 degrees here today. And about 15 miles from where I live, at Columbia High School (where I taught back in the 70s), a teacher is shot today. Apparently Michael Bennett, a Special Edcuation teacher, is OK and no students were injured. The local news speculates that it was a student who did the shooting; officially, he's described as an "intruder."

When I was barely in my mid-twenties with no real teaching experience under my belt, that school hired me to spend each afternoon facilitating a "supervised study" double period with potential drop-outs. Talk about trial by fire! After the first few weeks of surviving their testing me (like one of the boys walking in holding a boot and announcing to me that he found a rubber and what should he do with it), we all managed to find a common ground. We spent most of the rest of the year sitting around and talking about whatever interested them at the moment. For a while it was the pregnancy of one of the girls.

They were problem kids, angry at lots of people and things. But they didn't bring guns to school and shoot teachers. What's happening to our children!

WWJD with Rapturous Right Wing-Righteousness?

Maybe it all boils down to whether you're a fan of the god of the Old Testament or New Testament. Me, I'm a fan of neither (although the New one is more to my liking), but I don't really count in this world of right-wing righteousness anyway.

On 60 Minutes last night, the self-righteous Ratpure-Awaiters explained how they will be going to "heaven" and the rest of the world's population will not. They base their rapturous opinions on their interpretations of what goes down in the bible's apocalyptic Book of Revelations -- which, according to scholar Eugene Gallagher (the Rosemary Park Professor of Religious Studies at Connecticut College), essentially offers an arsenal of apocalyptic images and predictions that can be used to target any specific time as the apocalyptic moment.

"With [George Bush in] the White House, Tom the House of Representatives...these are parts of the righteous army that has finally come into its own" stated the righteous Rev. Peter Gomes, a Baptist theologian at Harvard University, in the Morey Safer CBS interview.

If that doesn't scare you, I guess you're one of them.

Meanwhile, over in Iowa,
An ordained Mennonite minister and her husband were among five co-defendants in a four-day civil disobedience trial in Des Moines (Feb. 3-6.) The five sought to hold the Iowa National Air Guard accountable to international law over their bombing patrols in Iraq. "This was a small action we were led to take as another opportunity to witness to Jesus’ way of peace," reflected Pastor Jennifer Davis Sensenig of Cedar Falls Mennonite Church. "We felt called to protect the spiritual and physical welfare of our soldiers as well as the people of Iraq, and work for a more secure world for everyone’s children. Our mutual security is gravely threatened by the irresponsible and illegal foreign policy the US is currently pursuing in the Mideast."

Now, really, what do you think that peace-loving, compasionate Jesus Would Do? Rapture away the right-wing righteous or stand with those whose faith is based in peace and compassion? Check out Frank Paynter's piece here for more on the current persecution of peace activists.

Oh yes, this might well be an apocalyptic time. But guess where the evil is that's making this happen. I think I asked this before, but why hasn't anyone made a big deal of Bush being the real "AntiChrist" of this century?

The way I've always understood the AntiChrist is that he/she would be a kind of "wolf in sheep's clothing," someone who, on the surface, seems to be truly righteous and leading true believers to their salvation, but really is manipulating everyone for his own evil-doing-motivated ends -- ends that involve personal, economic, and environmental mayhem and murder and means that cause rifts between peoples and philosophies. Sound familiar?

Dealing Dean Dirty

Dean Returns To Wisconsin After Disappointing Weekend

So goes at least one headline reporting on the last round of Democratic caucuses.

So let's see. Kucinich gets a positive nod for finishing third, even though he has fewer delegates than Al Sharton. But Dean -- who twice in three days finished in second place (Washignton and Maine) in better showings than he was making before, and continues to have the 2nd highest number of delegates, gets only "disappointing" and "downward spiral" and the like. But Edwards, who is third in the delegate race, is still considered to be in the running.

Just another frustrating example of how the mass media continues to purposefully skew and screw.