Sunday, July 31, 2011
I was struck by the radical cynicism of the Republicans. They continue to deliver their "message" regardless of the number of people who dispute the "facts" they present. There is no flexibility, no sense that they have a responsibility to negotiate let alone compromise.
When I stepped back from their rhetoric, another project emerged. While they are saying that they are standing firm because they want to save the economy of the country, they are actually trying to run the economy into the ground. Why? They want to win the next election. They want to beat Obama, they want to defeat Obama.
It has never been a secret. They said at the last election that this was their proposition.
It is the most heady of the fall of the Roman empire replayed.
Friday, July 29, 2011
So I offer you some New Mexico clouds and other people's words.
Happy Friday and almost end of July (WOW how did that happen?!)
- George R. Gissing
Obey your heart.
-R. W. Emerson
or go through with it.
[that Ovid, I hope he really said all these things!]
photo credits: me, fancy camera on Monday, July 18, 2011 from the McDonald's parking lot in Grants, NM. You see that last one has a little sign of civilization so you know I took these photos. I didn't swipe them from someone else.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
This photo, believe it or not, is of a traditional window in Acoma Pueblo's Sky City.
Light filters through, but cold and heat do not. It is not meant to be something you can see through, rather it is something you see with.
I am deep into writing boot camp, day three.
I have composed two long pieces about my research this summer so far, each more than 15 pages. I also composed another piece about one of my interviews as well as rescued one from my Ipod that I composed on a train ride home. I also revised one paper so far. Oh, and I applied to two jobs, one letter was already drafted, but I made revisions, and the other had to be drafted during day two.
So, I have been very productive. Turns out if you actually write straight for five or six hours that there is a ton that gets done. I still have a ways to go to finish everything that I proposed to finish this week.
I am sharing this one article with you today because I don't want the link to die before I post it. It is the story of a young man from Oakland who learned Chinese opera, in part because he was in a public school that served mainly Chinese students and they had a special class as an elementary student. I am sad to say that I couldn't find any local papers had picked up the AP story. But, I did read about him in the local papers when he was still in elementary school...
More pictures and quotes soon... maybe even that last post in the drafts folder, but probably not before next week.
Photo credit: Me, fancy camera, May 2011 at Acoma with my parents.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
You are loved
Just as you are.
And you don't need to look
For validation anymore…
You are held and known and treasured
For all that you are
Not just the good parts.
Let that truth remind you
To be compassionate
With your own heart,
To extend to yourself,
The compassion you give to others.
There is nothing to fix
Because who you are
Is always enough
To be loved
2/1/2009 Andrea Scher (The original Superhero)
Yesterday, she posted her latest mantra, and challenged her readers to post theirs. I don't know if any of these count as mantras, but they are some quotes that ring true during this time of making new agreements.
The snow goose
Need not bathe
To make itself white
Neither need you
But be yourself.
Change is always powerful.
Let your hook be always cast.
In the pool where you
Least expect it,
Will be a fish.
Let time go by
-From an old sundial
There will probably be more soon with some photos I took of the beautiful New Mexico sky. Here are photos of me with my older siblings back when I didn't know how to hide my feelings. I also didn't know that there was any reason to think I was less than back then. Trying to recapture some of that innocence... or at least to let go of some of the cynicism that is holding me back now.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
I read that Amy Winehouse was found dead in her house...and then I heard someone say on the news that it was so unexpected. When in fact, we have all been watching this train wreck, as with so many others. What was unexpected? Tragic, yes. A horrific waste of talent, yes. But, unexpected, hardly.
We see people in need, and we walk by them every day. We decide that it isn't our business, or that there is nothing we can do.
We may not be able to cause the change we would like to see, but that is not the same as saying that there is nothing that we can do. We can always do something, say something, even if it will not be a guaranteed outcome.
I opened my journal to this quote today:
Never apologize for showing feeling.I was going to just post the quote. And then I saw that piece and heard that statement, and it changed the way I was looking at the quote. It is appropriate for both thoughts and feelings.
When you do so, you apologize for the truth.
Let's try to say what we know to be true, even when it is not likely to be well-received.
photo credit: From Acoma Sky City, I can't remember the whole story, but I think it is a mesa that people decided to try to live on but they were unable to for some reason... there is something dramatic about it.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
I am happy to see Californians are getting real about the economy ... and, by that, I mean, they are finally noting that not spending money on some things (education) is detrimental to the overall economic health of the state, and spending too much money on other things is equally detrimental (crime).
I hope this is just the beginning of getting real.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
[This is gong to come out choppy and not as I had envisioned. Apologies in advance if it takes some work to follow. Oh ... and it got to be super long. Oops.]
Sunday at meditation, instead of a dharma (they call it damma) talk, we had a practice talk. I have never been a part of one of these. I should give some clarification about my practice. I eschew organized religion in every form. So, I love to go to meditation, particularly for the community, but I don't necessarily talk to the people there. In fact, I have found myself actively not talking to people at either the Sunday or Thursday night practice this month. Partly, I just have needed the space. I am headed to meditation to get some quiet time, the only place I have the hope of making my mind just stop and empty. And it doesn't always work.
As I said, I am drawn to a meditation session for the community, but not necessarily for the people. (Though when I first arrived in Albuquerque, I imagined joining a sangha (meditation community) as a way to meet people.) I love the energy in a group of people meditating. It is like an unheard hum that buoys me. I feel not so alone but not intruded upon. I find that most of the people who go to meditation are introverts. If you know me, you would never characterize me as an introvert, but, in an odd way, I am.
I like people, and I enjoy interacting with people, but I find the experience exhausting. I don't know how to limit the input, it is like a constant barrage of energy intruding on my personal space. Don't get me wrong. I am a glutton. I can't really be around people and not interact. I am learning to put the headphones in and try to concentrate. But, even then, I look around, I survey, I collect information and as a by-product, pick up external energy. At meditation, I close down to the visual stimulus, and focus on the spiritual energy. Instead of feeling drained, I feel buoyed. I feel restful, as close to peaceful as someone like me can get.
This week, when the person leading the practice discussion invited us to share our path to meditation and, potentially, to Buddhism, I wasn't sure if I really wanted to go there. Actually, I did, but I wasn't sure how to frame what I wanted to say without being disrespectful of the other ways that people approach this practice. I wanted to say I am not into organized religion in any way, but that this is a centering practice and that I enjoy the community. I listened mostly... and they did what introverts do. They found some obscure intellectual point to discuss rather than sharing their personal path to the practice. Finally, one woman spoke up and gave her very personal description of a crisis she is going through now and how her practice is seeing her through it. Not exactly her path to the practice, but at least something personal.
I took this opportunity to open up to those gathered... proving that I am not their kind of introvert. I shared, probably too much, more than I had intended, but it was good to open up some. And afterwards, this seemed like the opening some of them had been waiting for in order to talk to me. As with all things relationship in my world right now, I am not sure if it is what I want, but having support from these folks seems like a positive addition to the energy in my life.
I have a troubled relationship with prayer. I am not sure if I have shared it here before... but in a nutshell, I respect the faithful, but I don't believe in asking for things from some benevolent or malevolent god. Truthfully, I am in awe of really faithful people. Like those meditating, they give off an energy that holds me. I don't know if prayer or meditation can bring me or anyone anything in particular, but that moment of being held is extraordinary, and, perhaps, worth more than the granting of any petitions.
While I was at the archive, I visited the shrine. How could I not? This woman, now a saint, is formidable regardless of the religious tradition to which you ascribe. I entered the shrine the first time as a tourist (and an anthropologist, I can't really go anywhere without that identity), reading all the exhibits and taking in the marketing of the life of a saint. When I walked into the crypt, however, there was an undeniable energy that startled and overwhelmed me at first. I had been thinking about how I would feel there, and I couldn't predict if it would be skepticism or faith that would prevail. I had set aside one extended lunch period to be there, but then I I had used the time for an interview and then I dawdled over lunch, so I didn't have a lot of time for praying if that was what I decided to do.
There were two older women there praying. When I visit a chapel or a shrine, I like to be up front, close to the source whether it is the altar, or in this case, the tomb of the saint. The other women had situated themselves towards the center of the visitor area. So, I didn't feel like I could block their view with my only sometimes faithful body. Next to the tomb, there was a basket for placing prayer requests. On a table, small slips of paper were handy for writing these requests. I picked up two pieces of paper, and I wrote my intentions.
I hadn't really given too much thought as to what I would request, but I knew that I wanted to bring to her attention my nieces and nephews and my parents. I just couldn't help myself and I knelt at the tomb and touched the relic placed on top. I configured my requests into words and tears filled my eyes. I would explain why I was crying if I understood, but I don't. I needed to get back to the archive, but after all I had been reading, I knew I needed to thank her for taking care of my grandmother. However imperfect my grandma's time at the school might have been, this woman provided a home for her and her siblings and cousins at a time when they didn't have any other recourse. And from what I had been reading, I knew that the women who had dedicated their lives to children like my grandma had done it with the best of intentions. So, I thanked her, and the tears poured down my face, just as they well up now.
Several days later, I spent some time in the chapel, and the tears flowed again. The faith of the nuns I met at the shrine, that they exhibited in their care for me and other strangers, reminded me of my parents faith. I don't feel that faithful about anything in particular or even in the abstract. But, I recognize the comfort and protection it offers to those who are faithful. Maybe that is what moved me to tears. The only thing I can know for sure is that my time there was part of the process of prying open my heart to a great many things. Back in December when I was writing papers about the school and the nun who had started it all, those tears had flowed freely in as unexplained fashion as now.
The night before my last day at the shrine, I realized that I had not bothered to ask any of my friends or family (who are faithful and do believe) if they wanted me to light any candles for them or to place any intentions for them in the prayer basket. I quickly emailed and texted a few people who I thought might be interested. Several people, most of my family and a some friends, wrote me back. I had told them that if their intentions were too personal to share with me, that I would just light their candles for the intentions in their hearts. My issue with prayers and requests is that I feel that we are conditioned to ask for everything, things we could do for ourselves. I try to fashion my request, whether they be to a god, a saint or the universe, as the strength to deal with this or that situation. But on occasion, fear and uncertainty take hold of my heart and I ask for something outright, like that my parents be healthy or safe. I try to temper that fearful prayer with the acknowledgement that they have had long, healthy, happy lives, and asking for more is not really appropriate, but there it is. I had asked for others' intentions with no judgement, but I was so moved by their responses. Let's just say there was plenty more crying at the crypt...
In the midst of all this thinking about spirituality and faithfulness, I read this piece. I enjoyed it too much to not share it ... it is about shrines to the Virgen de Guadalupe all over Los Angeles. It is really worth the read.
photo credit: me, fancy camera, in Santa Fe near the cathedral, October 2010.
Monday, July 18, 2011
There are a lot of things I should be doing right now, and none of them includes blogging, but there you have it.
Disclaimer? No, more of a warning... this will be a post about me, how I feel about myself... in other words, navel gazing. 1) if you don't like navel-gazing, stop reading now; you will only be upset and think I am a self-centered weirdo at the end. Not to say you won't be right, but you have been warned, so why give yourself suffering. 2) if you don't like navel-gazing, why do you read blogs?! Seriously, why?! 3) I don't really care what you think, I am a navel-gazer. I write here because I want to rant or think through things or just have my say. I am not interested in why you read unless you want to engage in a comment exchange. I don't care otherwise. This is my space to do what I want with ... I am not trying to impress you or anyone else.
Okay, that felt good.
So, I have been hiding, as I mentioned in the last post, from everyone, including myself. That's not completely true of the last few weeks, but of the last few days. I talked to a lot of people about what's going on, but then I felt all talked out. And I didn't feel any less like I was getting off the roller coaster, so then I stopped talking. Opening back up is harder.
In that spirit, I am going to try to finish the drafts in the folder and I am going to share something I wrote in my journal back in March. I was looking around the room at a meeting where everyone there was Latino (to be clear I do not know how they all identify, but, really, technically they were all Chicanos). They were all married and I was thinking about their wedding rings and why I got married when I did and how it was for all the wrong reasons, or maybe not, but in any case...
"...I just thought how ingrained it is in us to be partnered -- and young and forever - and how I had been one of them ten years ago -- and that the ring is not what's meaningful - rather it is the relationship that the ring symbolizes. And the next thought I had was that now that I have done all this work -- now that I am in this place, out of desire and not need or community pressure -- that I am going to be a great partner.
I believe it in a way that I cannot explain fully -- deeper than in my bones. I know this to be true.
For the first time, I can say (and mean), 'I'm a catch.' I was before but not like this. I have always loved fiercely and faithfully, but, as a partner, I did not have this self to offer -- this self aware (of foibles and fortes) person -- not 'whole' as I once imagined becoming, rather, authentic in my humanity and failings and triumphs.
Wherever I go, I do go with my whole heart -- enthusiastically and empathetically. Hear me talk about the issues I am most passionate about -- or hear me engage with my classmates projects, truly interested and willing to commit my brain and heart to it. These are treasures -- to be held dear and at the same time shared with whomever comes my way. ..."
photo credits: ME, with the fancy camera, on Squaw Valley hike, June 2010
Friday, July 15, 2011
It's StoryCorps day. It usually does the trick.I have not gotten to my drafts folder. I am holding back and hiding... not for any real good reason. Sometimes that is just where I live. I would rather be talking or writing or expressing or dancing. But there you have it...
Just in case you don't have time to listen, here is my favorite part:
I wish I could capture this much emotion in my writing. Perhaps it is the catch in his throat, or the tears that aren't falling as he talks about the tear he saw or the ones that blurred his vision. He really brings alive just how he felt when he experienced this episode. Lovely, truly beautiful.
"And my dad said, 'You know, when I was a kid I was injured, and a family took me in. I do not know their names or anything about them. I just remember they had other children.' Mr. Marshall said, 'Do you remember a teenage boy that used to carry you on his shoulders? That was me.' I noticed my father look to the northeast, Mr. Marshall looked to the southeast, and I saw a tear run down their faces."
"I felt like I was invading somebody's privacy, so I quickly left, and I let them have their moment. It was hard for me to see for a little while, either," Julian says. "But I could look back and see the depth of memories between these two old men. My daddy wasn't a real emotional man, and he didn't dwell on those things, so I never knew of this family until I heard the conversation. And you know, to hear that made me know there were a lot of things about my father that I didn't know."
Photo credits: me, at the beach in No Cal...totally unrelated, but also beautiful. Wish I were there.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Five applications went out ... five more are waiting and another five back up, last ditch efforts.
I need chocolate or a massage or both and some time in the hot tub. Alas, I have no money for such treats.
I only had another four or five hours of other work ahead after finishing those applications! Well, more than that, but I was running out of hours in the day.
Maybe I will get that job and then I can treat myself to something...and perhaps later this week I can get back to those drafts and post something some what more interesting.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I was tickled by this picture, though, so I share it in lieu of a real posting.
You can find the story that goes with the picture here. And you can see what it looked like after folks got to taste it.
Monday, July 11, 2011
At least, my life feels just like this right now.
So many different ideas, issues and complications are vying for my attention. I am somewhat disoriented by the need to make decisions. It feels as though I need to decide NOW. To trust whatever solutions pop to mind first rather than to think through them.
But the wind blows so erratically, it is impossible to know which issue is more imperative, and which solution will serve the broadest greater good.
The long, thin yet strong trunk sways, but holds the palm steady enough while the fronds stretch and twist wildly threatening to fall and sometimes flying off the palm as though they were crazy war-like projectiles.
So, I go to meditation to escape into some kind of mental quiet, do as much yoga as I can manage, and hope for enlightening dreams when I close my eyes.
And, I try to believe that my trunk can withstand this personal hurricane.
photo credits: me, in Puerto Rico. This is on the grounds of the Bacardi tour to be exact.
Thursday, July 07, 2011
"well, I know this is hard for you, but you could have chosen to use a condom..."
There was more, but I rushed to turn up the music so as not to hear. It was a tense interchange that continued for longer than 20 minutes.
One might argue it was just another difficult discussion between a mom who is not getting child support from the father of her children. It was fairly clear that they were not married, never married. But they seemed to have two kids together, so they must have been a couple at some point.
It was, in fact, much more than a conversation about money or support or responsibility. It was clear to me and my study companion as well as to the two of them.
It was a conversation about control and power. It was a negotiation about submission and domination. It was a yearning for the ability to use power and control to bend someone else's emotions.
In the moment I was struck by how unequal the power dynamic could appear ... she was white and a professional. He was an immigrant and seemingly struggling to make ends meet, though he was drinking a venti frappaccino which must have set him back more than $5 and then another large drink.
[aside: I mean, I am always interested in people who claim poverty who hang out at sb. In fact, I am frequently asked this by folks in a not so caring way. Truthfully, I am paying for the right to be in their air conditioning or heat, depending on the season. At first, I didn't have a chair in my apartment, making my time at sb even more precious. But, I buy one drink that I can get refilled three or four times for free... so I pay less than $3 for four to six hours of study time. Back to the story...]
The richness of the power dynamic did not stop there, however. One of the first snatches I heard between them was his chuckle and her indigent question/demand: "why are you laughing at me?" I am sure in all break ups and custody battles, the people play off each other's weaknesses... it would seem that we have only loved someone in order to find their weak spots so that at some point exploit them to our advantage. [Super cynical...did I really say that? It is a sad admission of things I have seen but would rather never participate in again.]
Another thought that crossed my mind, was in this struggle for power and control, who was protecting the interests of the children? There are many ways to co-parent, or not co-parent as the case may be, but these folks did not seem to be interested in finding accommodation in order to benefit their children.
I won't pretend to understand the intricacies of custody battles or negotiations (I hope some of them are not so contentious that they all must be called battles). But I was left wondering how any child's welfare could be considered in the midst of so much ego.
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
It is not about the coffee. It is about the community. And it is a special kind of community. Maybe my sb is particularly special. But I doubt it. I think sb breeds this kind of odd combination of anonymous, safe and yet connectedness.
This is the place where you meet the online date for the first time because nothing bad could happen to you (not really the same way Holly Golightly felt about Tiffany's).
Here you have bible study, work meetings, before the meeting coffee, child care exchanges, as well as catch ups with your girl friends.
And the baristas are trained to cultivate regulars. I am sure evil empire market research company told them to do it. I don't really care about that.
It is the unintended consequence that interest me. People pay guarded attention to each other and conversations. They watch over your things when you leave them unattended to get a refill or go to the bathroom. They turn in left items.
Which brings me to St. Anthony. When at midnight I realized that I had left my little iPod sweetly charging next to the fireplace at sb at 5pm, I said a quick prayer to St. Anthony - not really about getting it back so much as being more attentive to my own things.
I also tried to use some meditation principles to get me through the blame and guilt. If someone had picked it up and taken it, I had decided it would because he or she needed it. If not, then it was because under the watchful eyes of the sb community an unattended item would be turned in or left for the staff to find it.
Magic. Just as I had hoped, the lovely workers had it safely tucked away. And one said she knew it had to be someone who always came in given how it was set up so neatly there. So the anonymous had watched over it but not turned it in. Not wanting to sully their anonymity by touching something that did not belong to them.
I don't know if this would happen in NYC, too, but I suspect something close would occur because the folks who work or hang out in sb are like-minded.
And, here, the golden rule is supreme.
They would certainly want someone to turn in their lost item or watch over it.
Magic, I tell you. Magic.
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
These little girls are something else. Little, is relative, here. They are probably 15, maybe 16, maybe 14. They are waiting for one of their fathers to come pick them up.
Three of them, come in and sit in different places but then speak loudly enough to talk to each other from different parts of the cafe.
Two are reading a book that is supposed to teach them "dirty Spanish." The third is busy, "checking in all three of us" and texting unknown people, I am guessing young men.
Yeah... I had barely gotten settled when they arrived and I struggled to quickly disentangle my headphones so I could escape their conversation.
I am a little out of practice in the sit in sb and get stuff done department.
A little text piece from NPR on dad's and finding life/work balance. It seems that it is a two-way street in our crazy world when it comes to carving out time for family in an increasingly demanding work world.
A slightly bittersweet story about the Lummis' Southwest Museum... bittersweet because it leaves out a big piece of the story: no one is asking the Native's how they feel about how the artifacts should be housed, shown or if they should be returned. I have been learning first hand about what it is like to understand people in their own time as well as to unpack the meanings of their acts from a contemporary viewpoint. I know it is hard to focus on that part of the story. It is really the story of how the author (who I admire and whose work I have shared many times) wants to save the museum and not merge it with the Autry...
NPR, Frontline and ProPublica have been doing a long series of pieces on child abuse/infant death and the wrongly accused called Post Mortem (in case you didn't get what it would be about). It is heavy stuff, but interesting information that needs to see the light of day. I could only take it in small spurts, but I offer you the page with all the links, stomach what you can.
To balance that heaviness some, here is the NPR report on the shuttering of Illinois' death row. Perhaps there is hope for humanity after all.
This one is also offered for balance. It is the story of the Unabomber's brother and his quest to find a way to make amends for his brother's actions.
Interesting piece on using the arts to confront violence in Mexico. It's gotta happen some way.
And if it is possible to feel hopeful about our country's troubled relationship with immigration, this story is it. I am not sure why it made me happy and smile because it is only a beginning. But perhaps there is optimism left in me after all.
Monday, July 04, 2011
My news round up posts tend to report all the worst of what is going on ... we need to deal with these things, to be sure. But for the holiday, and perhaps in celebration of living out loud, I am going to post some lighter fare that caught my eye.
Happy Independence Day! Feel free to live life like you mean it.
I love this article (from my favorite: LA TIMES) about how to get a super hero's physique for so many reasons...not the photos, I promise. I love that it is focused on men and what and how they stay fit and why. Enjoy.
This should be Father's Day Special part 3, but it is just Story Corps spotlight. It is the beautiful story of a father and daughter talking about how they came to be a family through adoption. Choose love my friends!
More love... are you sensing a theme? So, here it is, a nearly perfect ending for the story of a couple who were about to be torn apart due to our arcane rules about marriage and immigration. Sometimes love does overcome it all. Fresh off our celebrating New York stepping up to the plate on marriage equality, here is another step towards our nation truly being for all.
Last but not least, a little travel story about the search for Bigfoot. Seriously, this one was written for me. It is just the kind of tour I would take. In fact, I have visited Happy Camp. I might have a picture of the metal replica somewhere, we certainly stopped to pay our respects to it when I was there. Fascinating place though I didn't find the natives nearly as friendly as the author of the piece did. I can, however, thoroughly recommend hanging out in the area!
Photo credit: me on the little camera from the top of the mountain. Hoping for a little rain on our super dry state.
Saturday, July 02, 2011
One Art by Elizabeth Bishop
The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.
--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
From The Complete Poems 1927-1979 by Elizabeth Bishop, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Copyright © 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel. Used with permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.
photo credits: me, from the car (maybe even driving) on various trips between Oakland and Oxnard
Friday, July 01, 2011
While we are on the topic of college and sticker shock, I should say "college," and seducing people into believing that dollars will buy you dreams... I saw this frontline piece, very sad ... why are these folks not connecting the dots with the people who are saying college is not worthwhile?
Finally, a lovely guest piece from Tony Cox about educating Black males... he reached deep into his personal experience as a professor for this practical advice. I can't say I don't agree with all of it, particularly how it is much easier said than done -- and that we should only try if we are going to give it our all.