Sunday, July 31, 2005


The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.
Emily Dickinson

The Smile that Grows across My Face

I want to believe it's wrong. I really, really do. But I hear his voice and the smile grows on its own. It doesn't matter what the voice says, but sometimes it says something so funny the smile grows even more. I think to myself, my cheeks will be sore later.

I don't think it's wrong. It is one of the things I think is most right in the world. Just not always as comfortable as I would like it to be. Nothing that is worthwhile is easy. I keep telling myself, anyway.

It feels like least the way that I imagine it feels to soar high above the world. Carefree in a way, wind offering updrafts and downdrafts that feel like a rollercoaster with no rails. A big bird, maybe a hawk or a sea bird, gliding, soaring, not flapping. It's easy.

Reality doesn't intervene until its time to say goodbye.

There was a moment of silence today. At first I worried that I should make up something to say, but I didn't. It was nice to be silent together for a few seconds. The conversation continued easily enough, but I knew that the end was coming soon.

We don't really say goodbye; not true, I do, he doesn't. Talk to you soon. More or less emphasis on the SOON. Maybe, maybe not.

The one thing that is certain: when the phone rings and I hear the voice, the smile will grow across my face. Like the grinch, my heart grows three times its normal size. There is no sense in denying it or trying to make it wrong.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Holocaust Memorial Museum

It is impossible to be mentally or emotionally prepared to live through the holocaust ... as close as you can get, but clearly not as real or painful as those who actually lived through it.

The day was perfect for this experience. The clouds threatened. Everyone was carrying around umbrellas. A nice man outside the museum tried to talk me into buying one. It was not raining when I came out of the metro; spritzing, not even a drizzle, just the occasional big drop. He said, it pours sometimes. I politely declined.

First you have to get a timed pass to go up to the permanent collection... and then you wait. While I waited, I visited Remember the Children, Daniel's Story. It is a recreation of a child's life from before the war through the camps. It's a compilation...there are parts that grab your heart, but there are light moments too. You follow a child's journal from the good times when they made cookies together through the ghetto where the little sister still tried to make her mother's birthday special. Finally, to the camps where the men are separated from the women and Daniel never sees his mother or sister again. It tugs at your heart, but you escape that exhibit and you think, I can do this. I know what happened.

On the elevator, you see and hear the voice of American troops as they liberate the camps. You can hear the horror and disbelief, but you still think YOU are strong. The doors open and you are on the fourth floor, pre-war Germany. You travel through the cataloging and codifying of people. You see how Hitler worked to make Germans believe in their superiority by dehumanizing everyone else. You see how the world watched Hitler disenfranchise and demoralize Jews, homosexuals, the Roma, Jehovah Witnesses and anyone who stood in his way. You see how the powers-that-be of other countries not only watched but participated in giving parts of other countries to Hitler like sacrificial lambs. And you wonder when you're democracy- and freedom-loving country will take a stand. And they don't. They never do.

Seething at the outrageous way the world looks the other way, you approach the walkway that will take you to the third floor... you walk through a hallway that has the portraits of the inhabitants of a town in Poland or the Ukraine, somewhere that Jews have lived for 900 years... and you know that they were eliminated... you know that an entire town, a civilization that had lived for almost a thousand years in that land was murdered, slaughtered. 30,000 in one day.

It is a good thing that they start you on the top floor because by the end of that, I just wanted to run out of the building and cry...but I couldn't. I had to continue to walk through history; I had to face OUR history, MY history; EVERYTHING my country has done I am responsible for, I am my brother's and sister's keeper. So are you.

It was difficult. I almost could not bring myself to read about the ghettos. I was already dreading wandering through the deportations and the concentration camps. It was already too much. TOO MUCH?? I only lost respect for my country and its hypocritical ways, I did not lose my entire family. I tried yoga breathing to steady myself, I stood up straight and I continued on.

Eventually, there was a white wall with the names of all the people who saved innocent people from Hitler. Sometimes there were stories to go with the names. Thank god, if I still believe, that there were some people who believed that innocent people should not be sacrificed to Hitler's insecurity. I read every story, thanking god for each of the souls who had risked his or her life to save the life of someone else. I needed the hope that life can conquer hate.

I made it to the end, I don't know how... I can't remember. Then there was a screen and some seats and survivors telling stories. I was drawn to the screen and I sat, trying to feel the strength of those survivors. When the man started to cry, he broke me in two. When the woman told the story of how her mother saved her sister by taking away the sister's baby knowing that all women with children were gassed immediately, I was shattered into a million pieces. I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

The final floor dumps you into the Hall of Remembrance and the eternal flame, and walls of lighted candles. I sat down there and tried to catch my breath. I didn't pray. I am not sure that I know how to anymore. I sat and felt the strength of the souls remembered there where the walls exhort you to remember, to honor the suffering, the horror, the lives lost, the hope destroyed by remembering, by pledging NEVER AGAIN.

I stepped out to a steady light rain and felt the angels weeping for the over million babies slaughtered, families destroyed, towns annihilated, and the resilience of a people who not only remember but work to keep it from happening again to anyone. And I hope for peace. Not just for those whose lives are on the line, but for my own soul.

Friday, July 15, 2005


So... there are many more important stories to worry (or obsess) about in the news today, but these struck me as the most outrageous demonstrations of our whacky priorities:
T-ball Coach Pays Off Player to Hit Disabled Child

Drunk Driver Mows Down Family near Border Crossing, Killing Two Children

12-Year Old Dies When Chased into Traffic

I know that I should spend more time worrying about getting my priorities straightened out, but maybe reflecting on the lack of perspective here will help me to get my perspective back.

The Dalai Lama has been talking about how one must replace anger with patience and tolerance. I agree in theory...but in practice, it doesn't feel like replacing. It feels like I am just ignoring the anger in the hope that it will go away. He warns about the dangerous recklessness possible when one allows herself to "express anger" as a way of moving beyond it. He says that anger is so prolific that it will just take over. So that means I really do have to replace the anger with patience and tolerance while still honoring my feelings... how is that done??? When the anger has been assumed, subsumed and ignored, it is fighting to get out in so many other ways. If it is not processed in anyway, just thrown out the window, then what??

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Let the Mind/Thought Control Begin

The first, I am sure, of a string of "opinions" we will learn about from the new Pope. Let's remember that as a young person he was involved with the Hitler Youth group. Which is really more likely "to erode Christianity in the soul" of young people?

Yes, he's old and likely to die soon, but no less dangerous as a result.

Ok... on a slightly lighter note... a very funny piece from the editor who passed on the first Harry Potter... read it soon as the NY Times charges for articles after a certain time...

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Tangled Webs

There is a really, really big -- I mean huge -- spider that lives on the deck. I saw him or her for the first time the other day. I had run into its web many times before. I always wondered how any spider could build just a huge web so quickly... sometimes I go out for an hour or two just before sundown and when I return, my doorway is covered in webs. Now I know, it's Charlotte's amazon cousin.

Sometimes my life feels like that too... I wonder how quickly my various selves can create such tangles. When did I have time to alienate some, rile others and offend still others. I have a way of provoking extreme emotions, I guess.

Maybe I do it on purpose, maybe I can't help myself. I am sure sometimes Charlotte's cousin just wants to build a dainty web that will catch some scrumptious bugs but not get in a clumsy human's way. I am sure she (she's definitely a she now, such a hard worker) is devasted to see all her hard work torn to shreds as I try to get into my apartment.

She's still hungry, so she has to build anew. I am just tired and contemplate the hermit life so as not to have to provoke, incite or rile anyone else. Being alone isn't always lonely. Sometimes, it's just the stillness I need to breathe and not feel clumsy.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

el tiempo y el vacio

Me encanta sentir el viento en mi pelo... aun si ese viento trae la lluvia que ya he dicho no me gusta.

Tal vez lo que mas me gusta es que el viento tiene la capacidad de llevar consigo todo lo que pienso, siento, todas mis dudas. Me gustaria quedar alli en el vacio... sola con el viento. Para no tener que pensar ni sentir. No se como seria porque nunca he podido vaciar mi mente ni mi corazon. Pero me gustaria una vez estar sola en el vacio.

Pero el vacio no dura porque al igual que el viento lleva, tambien trae consigo aventuras nuevas, algunas buenas y otras no tan buenas... para sobrevivir hasta que venga el proximo viento.

Sigo pensando que con el tiempo aprendere a llenar el vacio de una manera que pueda vivir con lo que esta alli en vez de querer vaciar y llenar de nuevo. Pero tal vez es mas importante aprender a aguantar lo que el viento trae y lleva. Parece una meta que no puedo alcanzar.

Friday, July 01, 2005

from here to there

The really cool thing about the internet, to me, is that it is like a game I used to play: trying to retrace my thoughts to figure out how I had gotten here.

I love to meander... I am not lost, I am taking the scenic route, figuratively or literally, all the time. I am convinced that it is the best way to not MISS anything that might be out there to see or marvel at or feel indignant or shocked about. So for me, internet searches are about casting the widest net and seeing what crazy things will pop up. Remember that time I found the site where you can post your ESP experience??

Today, while looking for more info on an author, I found this great list of uses for LARD. I know that lard is useful, most people doubt it these days... so I thought I would share it. I also found the saddest and warmest recollections about another author, who I had never heard of, who died in a plane crash in March at the age of 32. I have to admit that I was tearful while reading through all these memories, wishing I too had known her, wanting to read everything she ever read, wondering if I had ever passed her in the street. I was also thinking about how we don't really know the impact we have on folks every day. It made me think I should be more careful and more carefree at the same time.

Check out the uses for LARD and remember to search big sometimes instead of for just what you want... there's a whole world out there waiting for YOU.