Saturday, November 20, 2004

...and so it goes.

I seem to be spending more time staring into the middle-distance just beyond the monitor screen than I spend actually writing any words, this week. (Imagine a heavy, self-pitying and wretched sigh.) Sheer laziness in action, I imagine.

Red-herrings of thought lead me down blind alleys of speculation: Where do the words with which we tell our stories come from, to begin with? Not the language itself--I understand that, well enough. (Hey! I heard that snicker...Knock it off!)

I am transfixed by the idea that we can apply words to things we only imagine. We use words to describe a wil-o'-wisp of dreamed idea to transfigure that idea into a tale. Then we tell that tale, either in written or spoken form. Human beings have been doing so for untold generations. It's a mighty alchemy. It seems, as near as I can tell, to be an actual human need...and even those with little or no aptitude for tale-crafting show evidence of feeling that need.

Admittedly, many of the stories we tell serve a moralistic purpose. Didactic in nature, the tale-spinner has an agenda hidden (or not-so-hidden) inside the words. However, we also tell stories that quite obviously serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever. How else do you explain Joey?

The ability to create fiction seems to me an awe-inspiring thing. From the tiny white lies we use to soothe our friends and loved ones ("Oh don't worry--it's no trouble at all, really,") to the multi-volume would-be epics that everyone stopped reading after about book seven--and yes, I'm talking about precisely that author you think I might be talking about...but I only made it through book five.

Our words give our thoughts shape. Words provide escape for those concepts that otherwise would be trapped forever inside of us, transforming what would otherwise be terminal alienation into mere solitude.

There can be no compromise with war; it cannot be reformed or controlled;
cannot be disciplined into decency or codified into common sense; for war is the
slaughter of human beings, temporarily regarded as enemies, on as large a scale
as possible. [Jeanette Rankin, 1929]

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Blessed are the Peacemakers.

A little reading:

And something to ponder:

And also:

I'm still following links out, so will probably post more about the above links later.

It seems to me that the Bushies are happy to declare war on other countries and kill hundreds of thousands of human beings--while claiming to be God's servants.
No wonder they seem far more interested in quoting the Old Testament (at least the pieces and parts that serve their agenda) than actually examining the reported words of the Jesus Christ they supposedly serve.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness. for they shall be

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for
theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Why aren't the fundies going to the wall to chisel those words on our courthouse walls?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Post Election Teeth-Gnashing

Okay. It was a sad, crappy morning, in spite of the uncharacteristic-for-Seattle-in-November sunshine. Along with everyone else I know and associate with, I've got the post-election blues. (Imagine guitar-plunking...sad, string-bending notes.) I wasn't crazy about Kerry--I really preferred Dean. But you know how it goes: Anybody but Bush.

So what's the deal? Who on earth VOTED for George W. Bush? My first instinct this morning was to gnash my teeth and dismiss the election results as blatantly fraudulent. My next instinct was to condemn the voting American public--or at least just over half of them--as hopelessly, criminally stupid. How can people not see and understand the dangerous, terrifying situation that the religious right and George Bush holding power, uncontested and unchecked, presents to all of us? The Republicans control the House, the Senate, the majority of Governorships, the White House, and likely--within the next year--the Supreme Court. The left has de facto lost its voice in our government. That is NOT the way this system was set up to work. If the Right doesn't like the way the elections go, they just re-zone the districts--four Texas Democrats just lost their seats that way.

I've calmed down just a tad. The fact is, I know lots of people who voted for Dubya. I've been driving by the Bush/Cheney yard and highway signs every day. Hell, my parents supported GW and his buddies. I watched Democrats all over the country lose seat after seat in the House and the Senate to Republicans, as well as the majority of Governorships. If the Republicans claim to be the party of decency and morality, I--for one--would like to see them do some damn good for people besides rich WASPs. Now, I think there are good and honorable people within the Republican Party. I just wish they would fucking stand up and get a lot louder. Because right now, men like Karl Rove, John Ashcroft, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld are running this country. I know all those Americans who voted for GW thought they really were voting just for him...but they weren't.

Now. Here we are, and this is what we have to work with. It's pretty ugly. For the tin-foil beanie conspiracy theorists like myself, there is currently House legislation pending--section 3032 and 3033 of HR 10--that would allow the government to deport terrorist suspects to other countries for interrogation, without a hearing or a trial. The ugly part is that the legislation is hidden inside a bill to implement the 9/11 Commission Report.
Does anyone else smell a Stalin-esque trend in American politics? Right now we are free to say critical things about our government. We are free to congregate in groups that plan to vote that government right out on its ass. Unfortunately, I'm deeply afraid that perhaps they only allow us to do that to keep us safely out of the way and prevent us from taking more active measures. I guess we'll know, if bloggers and liberals, environmentalists and activists begin to disappear. In the name of patriotism. Prosecuted as domestic terrorists. Crucified in the "free" press as traitors. Hopefully, it isn't already too late.

Reclaim the word liberal. It isn't a nasty word. Refuse to hear it as an epithet. Be proud of it. It's a word that means we believe in civil rights. We think workers should have some power and a voice and some control over their own destinies. We think the American infant mortality rate is obscene. We think people should all have somewhere safe and warm to sleep, and decent health-care. We believe in compassion, and giving, and some of us fear God and some of us don't even believe in him--but we defend one another's right to subscribe to whatever faith we choose.

Get involved. Volunteer. Educate yourself and others. Write letters to your congressmen and women. Find out if you have a Democrat to get behind in 2008. If your state doesn't have a viable candidate, help dig one up. Hell, run for office. Batten down the hatches. Keep the faith.

A link to a blog called Obsidian Wings, tells more of the story. And if you don't care to follow the link and read the whole thing, here is an excerpt (emphasis added):

Last month Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Congressman, introduced a bill that would clearly outlaw extraordinary rendition. But Markey only has 22 cosponsors, and now the House leadership is trying to legalize torture outsourcing--and hide it in the bill implementing the 9/11 Commission Report.
These are excerpts from a press release one of Markey's staffers just emailed me:

The provision Rep. Markey referred to is contained in Section 3032 and 3033 of H.R. 10, the "9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act of 2004," introduced by House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL). The provision would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to issue new regulations to exclude from the protection of the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, any suspected terrorist - thereby allowing them to be deported or transferred to a country that may engage in torture. The provision would put the burden of proof on the person being deported or rendered to establish "by clear and convincing evidence that he or she would be tortured," would bar the courts from having jurisdiction to review the Secretary's regulations, and would free the Secretary to deport or remove terrorist suspects to any country in the world at will - even countries other than the person's home country or the country in which they were born. The provision would also apply retroactively.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Go VOTE for chrissake...

Ugh--I'm woefully behind here. Moving, finishing up my job, gallivanting around the country, recovering from some sort of virus that felt like a dead-ringer for ebola only not as fatal. This might not be pretty prose.

I may never actually unpack all those boxes. I'm okay with that, I'm thinking.

I forgot to request an absentee ballot, so must drive across the state Tuesday to do my civic duty. And I will.

Picked up two kids hitchhiking last night on my way back to Seattle. They'd somehow managed to put their engine block most of the way through the radiator of their old pick-up. (I know, picking up hitchhikers is risky behavior. But only if you pick up homicidal maniac rapists. These were just a couple of kids who'd gone looking for early snow on Mt Ranier to play in, and had some crappy luck.)

I got treated to the 19-year-old not really very well informed version of "why we should vote for John Kerry"--which included extensive misquoting of Faranheit 9/11. And a relieved observation that this year's election should be much safer with the international impartial administrators coming in to monitor the results (I know. It had me scratching MY head in complete bafflement, too.)

But you know what? These were two kids who had never voted. Had never really cared about voting. And they were excited. They felt empowered. They were clearly enthused and inspired. Regardless of who wins, John Kerry or the antichrist, this election has done something important for our culture.

I hope it lasts.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Massively Destructive Weapons Destruction...

If you don't live in the Pacific Northwest, you might not be aware of the chemical weapons stored at Umatilla, Oregon at the U.S. Army's Chemical Weapons Storage Depot.

From a
July 2000 press release, from Rep. Peter DeFazio's (D) office:

"On September 15, 1999, 34 workers were sent to the hospital after suffering symptoms such as vomiting, chest pains, and difficulty breathing. The Army, and Raytheon, the military contractor for the Umatilla depot, investigated the area where the workers were afflicted and denied that there was any release of Sarin or Mustard nerve gasses. Under the Freedom of Information Act, a group of the affected workers obtained reports of the incident from the Federal and State Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). According to those documents, the Army and Raytheon's own data shows the release of Sarin and Mustard gas on multiple days from September 13-18, 2000."

They've tried to figure out how to safely get rid of the stuff...But it turns out that's pretty tricky to do--oh, and the
incinerator designed for the purpose doesn't work quite right, either. There are more than a few safety concerns about the whole process.

yesterday they incinerated the first chemical rocket. Seems they drill a little hole, drain the Sarin--or Mustard gas, or what-have-you--into another container, then cut the rocket up and cook it. After they've collected enough liquid, they incinerate that too.

Yeah...that's right. They burn it all. The army assures us that this is a very safe process.

Who the fuck thinks this is a safe thing to do (besides the army-powers-that-be)? I'm sure glad I'm not living just downwind from Umatilla, Oregon. Apparently, they project it will take at least
six years to dispose of this particular stockpile of weapons.

Oh--one other question: If they really had found any chemical weapons in Iraq, what the bleeding hell did they propose to do with them? We don't even know how to get rid of our own chemical weapons without risking the health of our citizens.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Afraid of Words...

Why is it censorship if someone silences those with whom we agree, but not those with whom we disagree? I know this isn't a new discussion, but I think it bears revisiting.

Even more subtle is the way we sometimes seek to silence those who expose us to ideas that make us squirm.

If I wrote a graphic story about being brutally date-raped and the antagonist in the story gets away with it--and I posted that story on a writer's board on the internet--I would be taking a terrible chance that people would be disgusted and offended by the subject matter, language and tone. I would take a chance that some readers would misunderstand and think I was glorifying the topic, because the bad guy didn't get his comeuppance.

That would be a chance I was willing to take--because I believe it's an incredibly important issue. I am willing to piss people off--and willing to take the chance that some sicko perv out there is going to get his rocks off because he likes the whole idea--but I cannot control other people's reactions.

But I am a writer. Writers spend every word desperately trying to communicate with someone--a theoretical reader--who comes away from that story changed for the better, who comes away thinking and feeling something new. That's how I set about doing my part toward changing this sorry fucking world for the better. Sometimes I'm sure I miss completely. Sometimes I succeed and never know it--and the faith that I do so is why I can keep writing from this terrible alone place in my head, where no one else can ever quite go.

If someone doesn't want their child to read my story, so be it. If someone wants to be shocked and appalled, and pretend that such things don't really happen in their world--that's their prerogative. If someone wants to stop reading after the first three sentences, power to them. But that one theoretical reader, who sees it, who gets it, who really connects--for the sake of that one person, I refuse to shut up. I refuse to only write nice things that make everyone who reads them feel better. In fact, I HOPE I shake people up and upset them enough to get off their asses and do something real for a change.

I firmly believe that is what writing, at its best, is really about. And as long as what I am writing is not actually illegal--then I have every right to put the words down and get it into the world any which way I can. No one is forced to read it. Even if I put it on a freaking billboard out on the interstate--no one is forced to read it. I have not taken away anyone's free will.

But if what I post is simply summarily taken down because it may make someone uncomfortable--I've been silenced. That is completely unacceptable. And it's a especially heinous thing for writers to do to each other. Because the ONE single thing I can really do--the ONE real power I have to make a difference in my world--has just been taken from me.

I believe if we are really interested in communication, then it is absolutely unconscionable for us NOT to support those writers out there trying to write something real, something that pushes the edges of our own comfort zones. In fact, I think we should seek and especially support those writers.

And just in case anyone really ever does read this blog: No, I am not talking about things like child-pornography. Kiddy porn is fundamentally dishonest intellectually, emotionally, and socially, and rightfully illegal besides. As such, it deserves absolutely no space whatsoever.

But a discussion as to why it happens? Sure. That absolutely must be discussed. Horrible things that happen every day, and we know they happen, and we are afraid to drag them kicking and screaming into the daylight and examine them so we can deal with them honestly--we damn well deserve those things in our society as long as we're going to act like such fucking cowards.

My best advice to anyone would be to really, really READ what others are saying--read between the lines, imagine their voices, THINK about how what they have said previously now informs their words. No matter what it seems like, hardly anyone really just talks to hear the sound of their own voice. And writing is too damn much work to engage in it purely for the sake of ego-gratification--which hardly ever freaking happens anyway.

A guy on a writer's board I frequent recently posted that a writer who is afraid of words isn't going to get very far. I think that is very true--not only about specific charged words like "nigger"--but also plain old ordinary words strung together to tell an honest but ugly story.

We must stop being so afraid of words.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

I'm leaving one more message...

I have a young friend out on the streets tonight. And I don't know how to find her. I'm a bit crazy with worry. I'm three states away. I've left messages for her with everyone I can think to leave a message with.

So now I'm sitting here at midnight, listening to old Sinatra tunes. I love that jazzy, breezy, finger-snapping sound. I think because it conjures a world where grown-ups don't scramble to pay bills and raise decent kids and worry about taxes and politics and how bad they hate their jobs. Instead they go to nightclubs and drink martinis, wear good shoes and flirt with one another with light and sophisticated charm. The thing is, the images of the past that we summon for ourselves--the past of old movies and our parent's stories--hardly ever include bad things.

Now don't get me wrong, even the best gin tastes like paint-thinner to me. Probably too many years of bourbon. I've ruined my palate for an elegant drink like a martini, forever. I'm okay with that, though. In my case, I've never liked martinis. I wasn't even alive in 1953, when Frank was in a studio somewhere singing "They Can't Take That Away From Me" and I think cigarette-holders look sort of dumb.

But I was reading the cd cover (because I compulsively read everything I touch--I can't help it) and at Sinatra's 80th birthday party, Bruce Springsteen said, "...While his music became synonymous with black tie, the good life, the best booze, women, sophistication, his blues voice was always the sound of hard luck, and men late at night with the last $10 in their pockets, trying to figure a way out...."

I know, I know--I had a hard time picturing Bruce Springsteen saying "synonymous" too. But the cd is Classic Sinatra: His Great Performances 1953-1960, Capitol Records, Inc., Hollywood, CA (produced and copywrited 2000)--you can check it out for yourself.

The quote made me think about Sinatra, from Hoboken, New Jersey. And what a long trip it must have been to get to Hollywood, and then Vegas. And that takes me to thinking about everyone on their own road tonight.

And that one special kid I know, who I've just heard through the grapevine is out on her own? If you see this--I doubt you can or will--but if you do, kiddo--then please call me. You've got my number. I'll come get you, wherever you are.

Monday, August 16, 2004


I'm not sure what's happened to my brain. I call it and call it, but it never answers.

I've decided to rejoin civilization. I'm moving back to Seattle at the end of September. I've resigned my despised copy-writing job. Perhaps I shall be a bartender. Or a ditch-digger. Or a rodeo clown. Although I don't think the Seattle job market has a lot of openings for rodeo clowns.

I even recently re-acquired a cell phone, having thrown the last one into the White Salmon River some years ago, when it annoyed me by ringing. I figure if I just don't give the number to anyone, I can prevent this phone from suffering the same horrible fate.

I haven't broken the news to Pippin-the-mutt yet. He won't be pleased, I'm thinking. He rather likes his gigantic backyard in the country.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

a piano bar...

Anyone know of a really lovely little piano bar?  You know the kind of place.  The sort of little side-street neighborhood place with a piano in the corner, like in a '40s movie.

I'm having a sort of film-noir evening.  I'd love to find some empty little place with good scotch and no one around.  The sort of place you can sit and play the piano and entertain yourself and muse about anything and everything.  Perhaps think about someone in particular, for a while.  Or perhaps just play and think about the keys, the music, old tunes you've long since forgotten.  Stop now and then for a drag off the cigarette you left burning in the ashtray next to you.

Then when the hour is very late, and respectable citizens are long since home in bed, you depart into the night and follow the rain-bright streets wherever your whimsy takes you.  You walk in the cool night air, hands deep in your pockets, until the horizon begins to go gray in the east.

Then you wend your way home to your own bed, to sleep too late and wake up and make fresh coffee and look out your window into a cloudy afternoon.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

I got a rather nasty forwarded email from a casual friend, a few days ago.  Still haven't decided why on earth she felt compelled to send it to ME, of all people.  The gist of it reads as follows:
(heavily edited for general idiocy)
Subject line:  HELL YEAH!!!
Bet you stand up and say HELL YEAH! after you read this.
I believe the money I make belongs to me and my family, not some governmental stooge          with a bad comb-over who wants to give it away to crack addicts for squirting out babies.
Guns do not make you a killer. I think killing makes you a killer. Youcan kill someone with a baseball bat or a car, but no one is trying to ban youfrom driving to the ball game.
I believe they are called the Boy Scouts for a reason,that is whythere are no girls allowed. Girls belong in the Girl Scouts!
I think that if you feel homosexuality is wrong, it is not a phobia,it is an opinion.
I don't think being a minority makes you a victim of anything except numbers.
The only things I can think of that are truly discriminatory arethings like the United Negro College Fund, Jet Magazine, Black EntertainmentTelevision, and Miss Black America. Try to have things like the United CaucasianCollege Fund, Cloud Magazine, White Entertainment Television, or Miss White America and see what happens. Jesse Jackson will be knocking down your door.
 I believe that if you are selling me a milk shake, a pack ofcigarettes, a newspaper or a hotel room, you must do it in English! As a matter of fact, ifyou want to be an American citizen you should have to speak English!.
I think the police should have every right to shoot your sorry ass ifyou threaten them after they tell you to stop. If you can't understand the order"freeze" or "stop" in English, see the above lines.
I feel much safer letting a machine with no political affiliationrecount votes when needed.
 I am sick of "Political Correctness" and of all the suck ups that go along with it. I know a lot of black people, and not a single one of them was born inAfrica, so how can they be "African Americans"? Besides, Africa is a continent. I don't go around saying I am aEuropean-American because my great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather wasfrom Europe.
 I am proud to be from America and no where else.   And if you don't like my point of view, tough!  GET OVER IT!!! WAKE UP WHILE YOU STILL HAVE A COUNTRY TO WAKE UP TO.
I'm not standing.  And I'm not saying "Hell, Yeah."  *Sigh*  Why is it always so uphill to get people to realize that sanity and tolerance takes a lot more courage than the above kind of crap?  And I am terrified that this particular bit of hateful garbage expresses the opinions of the majority of Americans.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Friday, July 02, 2004

To resonate. . .

Lately, I’ve been hearing Johnny Cash songs everywhere; on the car radio, or over the speakers in the local watering hole where I sometimes eat lunch. Then the twenty-something who works upstairs burned me a copy of his last album before he died. She and her boyfriend, just out of school and struggling, actually plunked down money for the cd.

On the first track, he reads from the book of Revelation, and the recording is scratchy, tinny, distant, like it’s been remastered from an old record. Then I’m instantly 7 or 8 years old, listening to my mom’s old Johnny Cash LPs. And something, I can’t define it, something in that grave, deep, southern-inflected voice–and I’m suddenly feeling waves of homesickness, for a warmer, kinder, sepia-tinted past: where a river flows slow and warm and muddy, and kids barefoot in the yard on summer evenings chase lightning bugs. A world where men wear western-cut suits and women wear print shirtwaist dresses to church, every Sunday, and everyone has faith, and hope. Everyone loves their neighbor. The kind of world where children are all safe, and loved, and fed.

Then I came to my senses.

I remembered, just in time, that I am in fact northern born-and-bred, and a lesbian, to boot. That sepia-tinted world--had it ever existed--would prove particularly inhospitable to me.

But I thought all afternoon about how a few words, spoken just so, invoke such a strong response–that’s resonance. For just a moment or two, I was utterly transported. And I felt sorry to leave. Powerful fiction.

The best writing does the same thing. It takes you to another time and place, and creates a longing, a nostalgia for something that never was. Then leaves you grieving when you reach the end.

It seems like there are some factors built into evocative writing. The images trade on the reader’s prior experiences and previous knowledge. Moby Dick might not ring nearly so deeply without the story of Odysseus, for example–a story almost everyone has been exposed to, whether or not they’ve read it. And the story of Ishmael, the outcast son of Abraham in the Bible underpins the whole thing, as well. And now, every story of a lonely man on a long journey has the added weight of Moby Dick driving it, as well.

I worry that it’s going to get harder to achieve that clean, resonant quality as fewer readers seem to be exposed to a canon of accepted-by-the-powers-that-be texts. I was talking to an English major, a college senior, the other day. She’d never read either Milton or Dickens. For what have we traded-out the texts written by those once-cherished dead-white-guys? I don’t know that we got the better end of the bargain.

If I hadn’t grown up reading the Bible (long story, I’ll save it for a different post) that Johnny Cash cd couldn’t have touched me quite the same way. Words from the book of Revelation might have seemed like lovely apocalyptic poetry–but they wouldn’t have rung with the promise of unleashed thunder soon to follow.

And without that thunder, I would still like the album--but it wouldn't really mean very much.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Shopping for One

I hate grocery shopping. There's always all these throngs of frazzled people and screaming troll-children. These people sometimes let their troll-children drive the shopping carts. So it's best if you enter the store quickly, hunched in a defensive posture. You have to move very fast, and keep your little hand-basket thingie with the baguette and bottle or two of wine and small assortment of fresh produce--which screams "yeah, I'm single and over thirty, so WHAT?! Wanna make something of it?"--positioned strategically between you and the careening, clashing shopping carts. It's your first line of defense.

The store moves everything on the shelves to a new place, every other week. So you have to walk down every SINGLE friggin' aisle to find what you absolutely, positively cannot leave without. Like toothpaste.

No matter how fast you move, no matter how well you think you've planned your exit, you inevitably end up in a checkout line behind someone pulling not one, but TWO of the big carts, towering with enough groceries to feed Rhode Island through the worst Nor'Easter ever experienced. There is inevitably a very small child in at least one of those two carts.

The small child inevitably wants to stare at you. Perhaps it smiles and makes cutesy faces. Perhaps it only picks its nose.
But sooner or later, it will vomit. ("Spit-up" is the accepted euphemism, I believe. Which sends its unruly siblings into shrill paroxysms of what could either be gross-out, or hysterical amusement.

That's really almost a relief, though--because when the siblings are distracted, they stop asking you personal questions while you're trapped there in the line. Questions like, "EEWwww, are you gonna EAT that? Your kids must HATE you." "Do you really like it?" and "Where are YOUR kids?" and "What do you MEAN you don't have any kids?" They also stop pleading with their exhausted and volatile mother for the candy and other assorted child-bait arranged helpfully right at their eye-level.

You live through this a few times, and think about either going to the grocery store so you can pack a nutritious lunch, or just eating that mystery thing you left on your desk last week when you were avoiding shopping by eating at the Thai street vendor down the block. . .Well, the choice is clear. Leftovers win, hands down.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Nothing like a little heavy-handed subconscious symbolism, eh?

Recently I dreamed I was walking down a street in my hometown. On this particular (real-life) street, there is a corner where most of the churches sit. Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran and Catholic--I dunno if they all built there so's they could throw rocks at each other on Sunday mornings, or what, but that's how they built.

It's cold in the dream. Winter. And as I walk down the sidewalk, I see a little girl playing on the edge of the street opposite me. She's wearing one of those fuzzy, hooded, little-girl coats that you never really see any more, but I think most women over thirty probably had one. The little girl is maybe four or five years old.

A big, black four-by-four pickup truck comes sliding around the corner spewing a dirty rooster-tail of sand, gravel and snow. The pick-up hits the little girl and goes roaring off down the street. I run across the street to the kid, and go down on my knees in the snow. I'm afraid to touch her. She has that horrible, gangly, loose wrong look shared only among small living things hit by automobiles.

Her eyes are open, but she isn't focused on anything, and I don't think she even sees me. I tell her to "hang-on"--or words to that effect, and go running to the nearest church--which is empty and locked. I find something and smash a stained-glass window to get inside and look for a phone--which I find. Strangely enough, it's a heavy old-fashioned rotary-style desk phone.

So I start calling for help. The police department tells me it isn't in their jurisdiction, I should try the hospital. The hospital tells me I have to make an appointment for an ambulance--two weeks out. The fire department phone just rings and rings and no one answers.

So I go back outside (let myself out through the heavy double doors which lock with a dead-bolt from the inside) and go back over to the kid. She looks really bad. Really bad. Her teeth are chattering, and she's as white as the snow she's laying on, and there's blood coming out of her ears. The fuzzy coat adds to the impression that she is some small wild thing that ventured onto a highway at the wrong time.

So I find a big rock (I know it doesn't make any sense, but it was a dream. There just happened to be a big rock not very far away.) And I'm going to kill her, like I would a rabbit I found hit by a car on the side of the road.

And I woke up.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Ever notice. . .

How ludicrous and contradictory so many of the truisms we hear over and over really are?

The worst offenders are typically those helpful little cliches that are invariably most personal.


Thursday, June 17, 2004

The picture the babysitter took. . .

The first picture of my parents that I really remember seeing caught the two of them, dressed up to go to a Halloween party. Mom is dressed as an Old West dance-hall girl. Dad is dressed as a gambler.

It must have been taken in the mid-to-late 60's, because Mom told me I was still an infant, and my little sister wasn’t born yet. Mom has a beehive hairdo, and cat’s-eye glasses. Dad has a blond crew cut–looking very incongruous with his sleeve-garter and embroidered vest. They’re both trying not to laugh. The baby-sitter took the picture.

Ah, but I’m in a fey mood, tonight. I am older now than they were then. And together they sleep, only a few hundred feet from where I sit. In a monstrosity of an RV they bought to roam the country together after they both retired.

They still hold hands. And my mother shouts at my father, because he is more than a little deaf, and his hearing aid is always in his left-hand shirt pocket–where he used to carry his tobacco-pouch. He refuses to wear it, because he says Mom shouts at him, whether he wears it or not. But she is kinder to him than I ever remember her being before. They spent the day driving around while I was at work–getting to know the area where I live, they said. They seem a bit uncertain what to do with me. They keep trying to give me money, even though I make more than they ever did. But they won’t take money from me, any more than I would take it from them.

So my father spent the last week fixing everything he can find to fix. The garden tiller that hasn’t run for a year. The lawnmower that I abandoned in the yard in the rain when it ran out of gas. The toilet that has run constantly since I moved here, a year ago. The kitchen faucet that used to be confused about which side was hot and which side cold. My mother spent the last week making sure I eat. Sandwiches. Snacks. Full multi-course meals. She plans the menu for tomorrow while we prepare tonight’s dinner. She wanted to pack me a lunch to take to work, and looked appalled when I told her I’d just grab something from the street vendor across from the building where I work.

My mother told me tonight their worst fear is that I will grow old alone.

Funny. Their worst fear used to be that I would find a long-term partner and all their friends would find out I’m a queer. At least, that’s what I always IMAGINED their worst fear to be.

They want me to be the executor of their will.

And I can’t even think about a world without them. They are so beautiful, and noble, and strong. And they’ve worked so goddamned hard all of their lives.

And I should have gracefully let my mom pack me a lunch.

I wonder what ever happened to that picture, taken in a house we left when I was four, with a really ugly couch in the background. The picture the baby-sitter took.

Today is their thirty-eighth anniversay.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Pictures of Word

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (Gospel of John 1.1--KJV)

And here is a nifty bunch of pictures of that word.

More on this later. I'm still looking at the pictures.

Oh, and credit where it's due--I found the link via Making Light

100th anniversary of Bloomsday. . .

I am the only person I know who actually READ Ulysses.

I hated it. BUT I read it.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Heisenberg and Harry Potter

I was just thinking about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, with regard to life and reading. So I'm a bit of a nerd. This wouldn't surprise anyone who knows me.

Just in case you don't feel like googling it, or looking it up in Wikipedia, there is a pretty good description here.

I've heard it restated even more generally to mean the act of observation changes the behavior of the observed.

"Ah, well. That's all well and good," you might say, if this blog actually had an audience and you were in it, "but how do you apply that to reading and then in a broader sense to life, Mac?"

"Well," I might reply, "When we approach a text with the intent to comprehend the meaning represented by the words, we bring our own experiences as a filter."

We can't--and probably shouldn't, except in extreme circumstances--escape the influences that shaped us as human beings. And we can't approach a book or story the same way we approach a movie. Printed words on a page are representational of something else, in a way that actors moving on a screen are not. The printed words "William Wallace" demand a much higher level of participation from a reader than images of Mel Gibson in a kilt with his face painted blue demand from a viewer.

Now I'm not dissing movies. I love movies. And this isn't some weird diatribe because I read and fell in love with Scottish Chiefs before anyone had ever contemplated making Braveheart. But I gotta say, I never really pictured Mel as William Wallace, when I read the book.

And having read the book, then seen the movie, the nature of the text is actually changed. The more people who see and accept the movie, the more the text is affected. Harry Potter, anyone?

As to how the Heisenberg Principle applies to life--well, I'm still working that out.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

One of those moments.

So, my parents showed up at my house last night. From out of state. A week early. To surprise me. Boy, was I ever surprised. I was playing on the computer. Well, looking out the open door to the front porch with a rocks glass of bourbon, smoking, and thinking about whether actually eating dinner was worth the effort it would take to whip up something creative out of the condiments that are the lonely occupants of my refrigerator. And they pull up and turn into my driveway. All I could think was..."ummm, this looks kind of bad."

I got to sit up late with them and gossip about my siblings.

When I woke up this morning (at around 4:30--which I habitually do in order to have a couple of uncluttered writing hours while I'm fresh) my mom got out of bed, too. She puttered around and made coffee while I was trying to adjust to having a human being moving around my house when I just wanted to write, and think, and wake up. And she wanted to talk to me.

And why not? She just drove a thousand miles for that very reason. So I closed down the piece I was working on, and sat on the porch in the dawn with my mother. We watched birds at the feeders in the yard, and drank coffee. I don't even remember what we talked about.

It was one of those moments, you know? And when I lose my mother to illness or accident or Alzheimer's, I hope that this morning is a clear memory. Just the feeling of it all. The companionable silences, the flavor of coffee, the damp chill of a pacific northwest morning. I hope I can remember every second.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Honor and related things. . .

I listened to part of the services for Ronald Reagan on NPR, on my way home from work tonight.

I didn't particularly agree or disagree with Reagan's politics, until it was almost over anyway. My parents adored him. I just didn't think about it that much. He was the president. Hey, I was something like thirteen when he was first elected. And growing up in a small town, in a conservative, fundamentalist-Christian family, what did I know?

By the time Reagan left office, I was a firebrand-liberal college-student. Even so, I had much bigger worries--like coming out to my parents.

Now, approaching the age my parents were then--I realize how deeply he marked the surface of modern America. I'm still a firebrand liberal. But I felt a twang of nostalgia for that simpler time and place. The world seemed so black-and-white, and choices about "the right thing to do" were clear-cut and obvious.

And I deeply resent that the conservatives of the world have taken the concept of "honor" hostage. And patriotism. Because those concepts are much larger than political rhetoric.

Do we still tell our children about honor? What do we say?

Errr...Well, that was easy.

This will be a bit of an experiment. I've never kept a journal regularly. I find I've got too much time on my hands, these days.

The blogging phenomenon seems to me to grow from a deep-seated rejection of the growing isolation and alienation people feel as real-life communities disperse and become drastically less stable.

At least, that's why I read blogs.

It's only slightly different than sitting next to a stranger for a bit, and exchanging a few pleasantries. You know what I mean. . .That annoying woman in the seat next to you on the plane? That's me.

Here I am writing for strangers. it's a tad easier because I have a hard time envisioning anyone actually sitting and reading whatever I care to ramble on about. If you were trapped next to me on an airplane, it would be different of course. But then, I would be more guarded in what I chose to say, as well.

And reading the words of others. People I do not know, and will likely never meet. How very odd.