Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Some friends have shared this today on Facebook, and it is well worth posting here, too.

I, Too, Sing America
by Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed

I, too, am America.--
Some other things that are making me smile today...
Our President's remarks

My favorite rendition of America the Beautiful ... never been so beautiful as today, wish Ray were still with us to share in the moment.

Wish I had the text to Brother Reverend Lowery's benediction -- I will find it yet... beatiful, absolutely gorgeous. For now, you can watch it again:

And, yes, once more: YES WE CAN, YES WE WILL

What a world, what a day, what a country!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Day at the Beach, NoCal Style Part 1

We have been celebrating the sun here in northern California this week... since I am supposed to be ENJOYING my unemployment, yesterday, I decided to get into the car and drive to Point Reyes to see if there were any whales near the lighthouse.

Unfortunately, I didn't look up any info before I got on the road and I failed to stop at the ranger's station. The lighthouse is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. That's the bad news.

The good news, is that I decided that there were many other beautiful things to see - so I just kept driving until I found Tomales State Park... after a little backing and forthing -- I didn't want the bay, I wanted the ocean... I found McClure's beach. If I had started a little earlier, I would have hiked all the way to Tomales Point, but there is plenty of time left for that adventure during my unemployment.

McClure's is one entry point to the beach and to get to it, you have to drive back an historic ranch and right through an elk preserve; oh and past a lot of very HAPPY cows -- I will post more about them at a later date. It's a hard life, what can I say?

This was the view from the top of the hill as I made my descent (take from the car, Rose Style):

At the end of the trail... here was my prize.

At the end of the cove, I found this opening and decided to explore.

This is what I found on the other side!

I decided to have a photo shoot with waves, rocks and SUN!

I followed these little guys -- they noticed and kept running away.
I am not sure the birds could read the warning about not eating the mussels...
Tidepool shots, I was racing the surf -- trying not to get wet, the water was very COLD.

Two from the ocean, waves and rocks photo shoot. The rocks are really the only compliant subjects.

more to come... I can't believe the number of pictures I took on my short trip!

A Day at the Beach, NoCal Style Part 2

Here are a few more pictures from my day at the beach...

I wasn't alone on the beach...it's a tiny ladybug, can you see it?

Beach finds...

The sun was starting to head toward the ocean ... and it was getting pretty cold in the shade...
Final look at the waves:
Sun and Sea and Sky and ELK! There is an Elk Perserve on the way to this beach... and they were all there as I left, having dinner...

I was having a little love affair with the sun and the ocean yesterday.
Final look at the ocean for the day...

For some reason, this line of telephone poles along the green hills tickled me...

Tomales -- the Bay Side

Last look at Tomales Bay... those tiny specks are happy cows with a great view!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

We Call Them Peace Officers

We call them peace officers, but it doesn't seem like we train them in peace.

We justify their actions when they cause chaos, war, or violence (I am not sure which is the true opposite of peace) because we say that their job is challenging. But didn't they choose that job? Didn't they know that it would mean putting their lives on the line? Didn't it necessarily mean that their job would be to bring peace to chaos?

There are any number of issues here -- not the least of which is that only people of color seem to see the problem with an unarmed man being killed by a police officer when said unarmed man is already restrained. Say what you will about what you see on the video -- he was on his stomach with his hands behind his back and with another officer's knees on his head. There was no way that this man was a threat to any of those armed officers.

I will never understand why having a badge means that your life is worth more than the life of another -- especially if that other is not white. I don't understand why cops feel this way and I truly don't understand why others feel this way. At what point do any of those who feel they are not affected by the stripping of human and civil rights actually see the act for what it is?
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller 1946

That same night that Oscar Grant was being killed in Oakland, I was reminding my sister's boyfriend to drive exactly within the speed limit and make complete stops and note lane changes because driving in Oxnard necessarily means driving while brown -- even though he is white.

It is sad to feel this way about police officers, but to date, they have never done anything to make me feel differently.

On the other side of this, I am truly disappointed that in all the blogs I regularly read, only one other even mentioned Oscar Grant, his manner of death or its greater meaning to our society.

"No man is an island, entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were:
any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind,
and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls;
it tolls for thee."
John Donne, 1624 from a meditation

I am glad that this post did not see the light of day before the district attorney saw fit to charge the officer. I truly hope that the murder charge was not a political ploy meant to help said officer to get out of all culpability.

We need more justice and less just us. It's time for change, I am hoping that it will extend to all of us.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Wedding Hat

My parents have decided that they have a house and garage full of clutter -- and that all of it is stuff that one of the five of us left behind. It's almost true -- we have all left things behind but they have plenty of clutter as well. This may be due to the fact that there is only the two of them living there but they insist on shopping at CostCo. Most of my clutter is buried so deep in the garage there is no real danger that my things will be put on the sidewalk; but, when I asked why they couldn't keep some of the massive amounts of toilet paper and paper towels in the closet, I was told that the closet was full of my things. In fact there was one box that was mine. On the side of the box was printed in my mother's hand: Anna's w. hat.

W. short for wedding.

I had a lovely wedding out doors - to my mother's chagrin it was more than unconventional. I wore a dark green dress with white flowers and granny high heeled shoes. Since it was an outdoor wedding in the summer, I got a hat to go with my outfit. I hadn't planned on flowers, but my little sister got a "crown" for my hat and a small bouquet.

I am not sure why the hat stayed behind. I think the wedding dress is still in my closet.

So, I told my mom I would dispose of the box. I imagined just putting it in the to be donated pile. It's a lovely hat -- only worn once. Then I decided to bring it back with me -- and it has been sitting on my living room floor, waiting for me to make a decision.

I opened the box the other day and I thought about just throwing out the now dried flowers and keep the hat and maybe use it again someday.

Opening the box, a flood of memories came back -- the wedding... the arguments with my family preceding the actual day, the amount of fun the guests had, and the pit in my stomach.

And then the feelings about the marriage came, too -- failure and may be the utter mistake it was to begin with... all recriminations -- why didn't I know better?

I don't know the reason, but I didn't know better.

I still don't know what to do with the hat -- I put it back in the box. I have a slight reprieve as I am house sitting and a friend is staying at my house with the box for another week... the day will come, soon enough, when I need to decide what to do with the wedding hat.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

pop the bubbly

The applications are all submitted.


I wish I could say that I feel accomplished.

However, honestly, at the moment, I just feel bereft.

There is so much I could not put into the applications that has been weighing down my heart.

On the other hand, I feel depleted... vulnerable... not open in a good way, but laid bare.

What is there of me that I held back?

Not much... there is was, put out on a slightly tarnished silver platter -- and now it will be judged by less than objective standards.

If I am lucky, because I was never convinced that it was about merit, there will be another person who sees in my application that which I was not asked... or somehow see the answer to what should be their basic question: does this person want it badly enough to do what it takes?

Of course, I have what it takes... I am not convinced that will be the question.

Regardless, it is now out of my hands and at the same time, there is no getting "in" without that which I have committed to paper.

No more worrying or wringing of hands.

I plan to take what is left of this month and next month to revel in the freedom that is waiting for someone else to make a decision.

I will time my return to work with the time when the almighties decide to bestow their decisions upon the lowly (read: ME)... and so I will have some routine to fall back on when the decisions roll in.

No need to keep our fingers crossed all these days... just send out to the universe, if it is something that you can believe in, some good thoughts... that what must be done will be done.

There is, after all, nothing more than that.

Blessed be...

Friday, January 09, 2009

new year and such

Last night I made it to the POC meditation session at the East Bay Meditation Center. Ostensibly I am trying to go as much as possible, but truthfully, Thursday at 7pm conflicts with free cheese at the Hidden Vine, and then again there has been all this time spent self flogging when I was supposed to be writing the applications, and well that meant no mindfulness and no wine. What a drag.

In any case, last night, I made it there with two friends in tow... and was welcomed once again into the safe space just blocks down from where frustration had turned to vandalism the night before. Inside behind the shades, with candles lit and soft music, it was ALMOST difficult to notice the sirens and the police cars zooming by...almost.

After sitting for a while our short dharma talk was followed by a little intention writing and then sharing in small groups. It was a lovely experience to have the accountability to actually write the intentions (something I swear I have been trying to do for weeks) and then speak them in safety. I forget when I am not around the meditators, many of whom are actually practicing Buddhists, how honestly accepting they are ... you speak and put yourself out there and they bow in thanks for the sharing. It is a wonderful feeling... something I need to remember when I am choosing wine over meditating next week.

Then this morning I am not writing my applications and instead catching up on my dailyOm and found this. It reminded me to write the intentions here even though I haven't finished Mondo Beyondo -- I promise to finish this evening and then post...

For now, I chose to keep the intentions short and sweet and, hopefully, something I can accomplish in a year:

compassion -- this time starting by approaching myself with compassion and then extending it to others (more on this later)

openness to the present -- particularly finding balance between PLANNING and being OPEN!

Happy ninth day of the new year... it just keeps on coming.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

chaos and calm

I went to see Cadillac Records tonight after an intense conversation about all the emotions that have been swirling around in my head about these damn applications.

I really enjoyed the movie.

I guess I needed the talk.

I still have work to do on the last essay -- just one more paragraph... and I almost have the energy to actually write it, though I guess I have been writing it in my head all day.

Outside there are police helicopters because a peaceful protest morphed into something not quite so peaceful.

We have a right to be angry. We have a right to want to know why some people's lives are valued more than others.

Why, though, do we always end up hurting ourselves more than we show our outrage?

I know all about needing to get it out. I can't say I know the best way to do it. I know it eats us from the inside unless we can get it out. I know tomorrow all the news will play is the destruction that was the reaction to the police ... the police and the way they never take responsibility for their actions all the while they say we must take responsibility for ours.

I don't condone violence or terrorism in any form -- so not the rage turning into "riot" or the police shooting unarmed, restrained men in the back -- accident or intentional -- when you would rather resign that tell someone what happened, seven days later, well, it is difficult to find respect for any of the actions and some level of understanding of the reaction.

The thing about rage is that it isn't logical. Just like fear isn't logical.

I know I am ranting and not making sense, just like the chaos that the police helicopters who are trying to herd from the skies doesn't make sense, none of it makes any sense... where do we go when logic fails us and all we have is senseless violence?

I worry because things aren't going to get better... things are only going to get worse as the economy is mended, especially since that mending seems to be coming on the backs of those who have the least.

How can we be such a wildly rich country and still only solve our economic woes by taking more services from those who have the least?

Yeah, my ranting is slowly moving towards rage at all that has had me on the verge of tears for longer than I care to remember.

I am going to go to meditation tomorrow evening -- and try to find some calm or at least give a safe space for the rage to come out -- where no one else can get hurt, especially me.

good night and be safe.

Monday, January 05, 2009


My drive back from San Diego ended with a stretch along the Pacific Ocean. I love to cruise (at the speed limit) and scan the horizon for friends. Sometimes it is schools of jumping dolphins and others it is pelicans flying low in formation just above the water... this time, what I saw was the tell tale sign of migration. The plume of whale breath just spouting out of the ocean.

Of course, this photo is of Alaska because I was driving and not taking photos when I saw the whales on Sunday. I tried to stop today while I was driving from Oxnard to Oakland -- I did see some whale breath but not where I could stop -- and when I did finally stop, I didn't see any and time was pressing and I don't really have a zoom, so it wouldn't have come out anyway.

I am plotting a trip to Point Reyes to see if I can see any more... the good part about being unemployed, if you play your cards right, is that you can take time for this kind of thing.

Oh, and I did press send on the Stanford application this morning... one more to go, promise to be done by Wednesday with that one.

It is almost time for champagne, and it is chilling in the fridge now.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Welcome 2009

I am working -- not exactly diligently -- on Mondo Beyondo -- parts one and two... so I apologize for the radio silence.

I can report -- happily -- that I have completed FOUR of six of my applications... two more to go and one of them is completely drafted -- just need to do the last edit and send the envelope.

The other is still in the early draft condition, but I am in San Diego for a few days and hoping that just being here will help me get the courage to complete the app (it is for San Diego afterall).

I wish everyone out there a fantastic new year... let's make 2009 the year we realize our potential!