Thursday, January 28, 2016

Poetry Thursday

...My mother laughs
At the angels who wait for us to pause
During the most ordinary of days

And sing our praise to forgetfulness
Before they slap our souls with their cold wings.

Those angels burden and unbalance us.
Those fucking angels ride us piggyback.

Those angels, forever falling, snare us
And haul us, prey and praying, into dust.

~Sherman Alexie
from Grief Calls Us to the Things of This World

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

9:57 am to 3:58 pm

Gas, two stops for food and, you know, the bathroom.  379 miles.  580-880-101.  When I got on to the 101 (yes, the) it was 322 miles of beautiful California on a mostly sunny day.

As the miles slid by, every time I saw the green growing on the hills, mountains and valleys, a smile grew across my face.

I stopped counting Papa Joe's (hawks to the uninitiated) after 15.

There was a lot of singing.  I never made it to the many podcasts stored on my phone.  There was some car dancing.  And there was some crying.

Sitting in the car, beauty all around me, car singing my favorite songs, safety descends around me and the tears well. 

When I finally saw the ocean, it felt like I was home.

Oh and there was traffic.  But it was muted by the green dinosaurs sleeping on either side of me until I reached the coast.  Then the sun and waves and fog and islands eclipsed any other cars on the road.

It was a good day.

Monday, January 25, 2016

life, at this moment

These have been some hard days ... can't remember how far back it goes.  But you can probably trace the latest dip by the drop off in the posts.

I can report that I have been pondering words for the year.

So far, BELIEVE! is the one that has been called my attention the most -- although still toying with some variant of OPEN.  I feel like I have been in the spot hoping to OPEN and stay OPEN for so long. 

Today I decided to tape this card into my calendar that reads: What are you waiting for?

It might be my mantra.

Friday, January 22, 2016

NRU education

I am a news junky, and no matter how much I try to tell myself to look away when I see the education posts, I can't.

This one caught my eye, in part because it was unfinished, and in part because these are the conversations more stakeholders need to be in on.  I am glad students' voices are trying to be included, albeit somewhat to very coached.  But we need more teacher, parent and neighbor voices included too.

Apparently there is some good news to come out of the new ESSA .... states *can* choose to evaluate teachers with something other than test scores.  Let's not go crazy celebrating.  It still leaves the decision up to the states.

I offer you a pediatrician's view on ADD and ADHD and why we treat it improperly because we don't truly understand it.

Um... this guy is making a case for why TFA is really a glorified temp agency.  I am giggling and eating popcorn while eating this one.  I hope you enjoy it. 

Here's a little more on the autism spectrum ... and I am still working on this one, so I can't say more than that.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Poetry Thursday, perspective

borrowed from my brother

Be content with what you have
rejoice in the way things are
When you realize there is nothing lacking
the whole world belongs to you.
~Lao Tzu

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


I have things to do, a lot of things.  I have so many drafts, letters, cards, and cover letters to write.  I have other people's drafts to read and comment on ... I have story outlines to create and most of all, I have emotions to process.

I should have written that damn craigslist post offering to HIRE someone to process these damn emotions for me.  [when I write or say DAMN emotions, you should hear the vehemence of Waitress' DAMN BABY]

But, I sit here and read other people's words and watch some shows... and hide from life.
What I haven't done: finish my "new year's" cards, select my word for the year, generally get my shit together. 

Tomorrow is another day.

These little pigs are up to their noses in water

Friday, January 15, 2016

NRU mishy and mashy

This piece will be in the inaugural displays at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.  What a beautiful and heartbreaking piece of a story; that it has remained intact since sometime in the 1850s is a testament to the strength, resilience and heart those slaves passed on to their children.  All legacies have their bitter and their sweet.

It must be the day for sweet stories that break your heart or renew your faith in humanity.  Here's one that speaks to the essence of love ... it is not easy or predictable, but there it is.

If you didn't tune into Obama's last State of the Union, please take a minute to read it.  It was a week for political rhetoric ... I tried to watch the GOP Debate without alcohol and a score board, and it was agonizing.  Two hours in with no visible end in sight, I baled.  Here is the NPR fact check which is actually all you really need to know. 

Ms. Mora's courage to tell her viejitos the "secret" of how she got to their small town in Montana helped them bring their conversation on illegal immigration down to earth. Thank goodness for people talking to each other rather than at each other.
"This isn't to say they've changed their minds about illegal immigration. But it's just not part of the conversation at Los Koritas now. Warner too has moved on from the topic. Yeni is still Yeni to him.
Mora said she just wishes that, when it comes to illegal immigration, "they didn't see me as the exception. There are many like me across the nation. We had to come illegally. There was no other way.'"
Turns out all you need to be a winner in the lottery (at least in your own mind) is some good photoshopping skills. 

So, while I applaud CalTech taking the complaints seriously (but really after UC Berkeley bungling it not too long ago, it would not have been good form for CalTech to follow Cal's lead), I am not sure that one year off without pay while not allowed on campus and "supervised visits" is really the right sanction for sexual harassment.  Sadly, if he was caught this time, he has likely done it many times and will continue to do so.  At what point will his livelihood actually be threatened by his unlawful activity? The people who have come forward to charge him have already put their own livelihoods on the line for the sake of those who might come after them.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Poetry Thursday

If I hold you in my heart, 
you'll wither;
Become a thorn 
if I hold you in my eyes.....
No, I'll make a place 
for you within my soul instead,
So you'll be my love 
in lives beyond this life.
~ Rumi

Monday, January 11, 2016

pics back

Ugh ... don't try to protect your privacy online with regards to pictures, it will take them from your blogs (where you obviously placed them, and where they wouldn't have control over unless you did). Never going to upload my pics to a third party ... not worth it in the long run. Thanks, Google, for the lesson in what I do and do not control, what you can and cannot control, etc...

Friday, January 08, 2016

NRU splash before crash

In the news roundup, there are far too often gloomy tales.  I am feeling under the weather, but the sun is shining for the first time in days (not complaining, just explaining), so I decided this should be the first article in NRU:
It is a great piece about a blog called Chinatown Pretty and an exhibit of its photos.  This was one of my favorite lines:
“Purple is really big in Chinatown,” Luu says. “Sometimes people wear four shades in one outfit. There’s a lot of cane fashion, too, like floral walking canes. Men usually wear monochromatic outfits. You see lots of baseball caps and sneakers — borderline hip hop fashion.”
A fairly balanced (read they did try to show both sides) read on Emeryville's raise in the minimum wage, but decidedly on the side of the workers.  It is The Nation after all.  But a good read, especially for those who will likely never read it, because it explains the reality of who is a minimum wage earner, and how even $15 is sometimes barely break even. 

Some *other* perspectives on Making of a Murderer -- there are lots of haters out there, and I wonder how much of the hateration is coming from lobbying in the law enforcement/prosecution bunch.  Lobbying is every where ... and this documentary, however flawed you may think it is, provides a view into our *justice* system that we just don't frequently get.  What I found most compelling was not whether Avery was a good guy/guilty/innocent, but rather his family's treatment by law enforcement.  I also fell hard for his parents who stalwartly stand by his side. 

I have had this one open in my browser for a while ... waiting to see if I had the emotional strength to read it. And, after reading it, all I can say is "wow." I think this doc has an interesting way of breaking things down, in a world where we want to be able to claim knowledge we don't have in order to prop up a position we know is simply our own ideas.  I like this line particularly because it reminds us of our ability to control (with our vote) the tiniest piece of this from a rational standpoint.
"People high in healthy narcissism (link is external) inspire without undermining. They lead with conviction not cruelty. They bring out the best (link is external), not the worst, in the people around them. That's who we need leading the nation."
In fact, I think this piece is rather complimentery to the voters, it says, you have what it takes to make reasoned decisions.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

pics broken

I don't know what I did that caused all of my photos to turn into "do not enter" signs ... ugh... any ideas out there? I think it has to do with the google+ settings...

Poetry Thursday

Just wait a while, 
turn your back and remember 
what you have forgotten. 
Try to find if you've lost, 
apologize if you've hurt, 
forgive if you have been hurt. 
Because life is too short. 
 ~ Shams Tabrizi

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

New Year's Greetings

This year, I could not either get my holiday greetings out in a timely fashion or decide on one message to adorn those greetings.

So, in honor of the Three Kings Day, instead of a rosca with a baby hidden inside, I share with you all the greetings I sent out (or will send out soon!) with photos from walks on the beach in SoCal.  [I am sure that some of these have already graced the Poetry Thursday page.  Forgive the repeats, I am sure they are worth it.] Some of them were chosen especially for the recipient; others went out to many people.  Please choose the one that feels just right and tuck it into your wallet or pocket or place on your nightstand ... or read it and forget about it.

Your choice!

In every winter's heart lies a quivering spring, and behind the veil of each night waits a smiling dawn.
~Kahlil Gibran

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.  ~Marcel Proust

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.  ~Confucius

Have patience with all things, but mostly with your self.  ~St. Francis de Sales

Live every act fully, as if it were your last.  ~Buddha

We must leave our mark on life while we have it in our power.  ~Isak Dineson

Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.  ~Basil King

The actual is limited, the possible immense.  ~LaMartine

Change is always powerful.  Let your hook be always cast  In the pool where you least expect it will be fish.  ~Ovid

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
― T.S. Eliot

Let us go to the coast under the cover of night and catch a boat that will take us across the oceans, where we can find a new life full of happiness and understanding. Do not hesitate… ~Kahlil Gibran, The Broken Wings

There comes a holy
and transparent time
when every touch
of beauty
opens the heart
to tears!
This is the time
the Beloved of heaven
is brought tenderly on earth.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

remembering Michele

There are some people that you know but never met.  I am not just talking about that fb friend that writes just what you were going to say; or the neighbor you listen in on and know every bit of his/her life, even what he/she looks like because the walls are thin or your backyard overlooks the bathroom.

More like you have read his/her books and felt the author's soul reach out to you.  Or you have befriended said author through some medium and had almost actual conversations.

It might be real or imagined, but the connection is still fierce.

Right before I went off fb a few years back, I made that kind of connection with an author I had known about and read before.   This time, though, her voice sounded through the radio, as I stayed in bed until the story ended, as if it were speaking directly to me.

Why hadn't I reached out to her before?

We are from the same town.  We had similar experiences growing up and getting out of said town. And there were certainly six degree connections -- her uncle and my dad were "friends" (they worked on political campaigns "together"), she graduated high school in the same class as my bestfriend/neighbor, we had probably passed each other in the mall.  Hell, maybe I even cashed her out at my stationery store job or at the cool clothes store.

I got out of bed that morning (or was it nearly noon?), opened my laptop, and connected with her -- I think it was fb and I sent her a message.  And she wrote back...we traded messages (I didn't know at the time she was known for keeping up with fans/readers/followers).  Turns out she was dating/engaged to a classmate of mine from elementary school.  I found out that he owned a vegan restaurant blocks from where I first lived when I moved to Oakland.  Small, small world.

I felt like I had someone in my corner; it was a good thing.  Someone who understood what it meant to be from where we were from and doing something others thought was atypical at best and crazy at worst.  I bought all the books she had on amazon, what else could I do to support her work on my budget?  And I kept them on the shelf close to my bed.  So whenever I was feeling low and nearly defeated, I could see what making it out of Oxnard looked like.

When I checked out of fb, I didn't realize I was checking out on that budding connection. 

I made a plan to try to see her or visit the restaurant next time I was in Oakland.  But every time I was in Oakland, I didn't have a car, or not enough days, or not on that side of town...

And then my world imploded.  I lost track of time and people and life in general except for the next emergency I had to fix/deal with/recover from.

When I saw that she had passed away, my heart broke, again.  Why had I not reached out when I had been back in Berkeley area? Why did I not know she was fighting cancer?  How could something so important have slipped past me?

I did not have the emotional strength to go to her memorial in Oxnard, even though I was there, and give her family my sincerest pesame.  I just cried at home, shocked that this light could be taken from the world.

Rereading her early work now ... She was, in fact, a role model, of a sort, in many ways.

Yesterday was a year since she was taken from this earth ... and I spent many hours over the last few days sending her messages in my heart and head -- hoping she is at peace now with no pain, hanging out with her mom and tias and abuelas and friends, listening to our messages of love and loss and remembrances for almost friendships and soul connections.

Here's one she could have written for me ... back when that chola at middle school suggested I tell people I was "Spanish," this was exactly how I felt.

Mi Problema
~Michele Serros, Chicana Falsa

My sincerity isn't good enough.
Eyebrows raise
when I request:
"Hable mas despacio, por favor."
My skin is brown
just like theirs,
but now I'm unworthy of the color
'cause I don't speak Spanish
the way I should.
Then they laugh and talk about
mi problema
in the language I stumble over.

A white person gets encouragement,
for weak attempts at a second language.
"Maybe he wants to be brown
like us."
and that is good.

My earnest attempts
make me book bad,
"Perhaps she wanted to be white
like THEM."
and that is bad.'

I keep my flash cards hidden
a practice cassette tape
not labeled
'cause I am ashamed.
I "should know better"
they tell me
"Spanish is in your blood."

I search for S.S.L. classes,
(Spanish as a Second Language)
in college catalogs
and practice
 with my grandma.
who give me patience,
permission to learn.

And then one day,
I'll be a perfected "r" rolling
tilde using Spanish speaker.
A true Mexican at last!

Monday, January 04, 2016

NRU -- mish mash and happy new year (RANTING)

I should be posting this somewhere useful (and/or sending it to the people I think need to read this), but instead, I will memorialize it here. Save money for your child's college education (NOW, not later), stop imagining they will live in a world where they will NOT need post secondary education, stop buying toys, SAVE MONEY NOW!  Tuition will not be going down anytime soon or in the foreseeable future.

Okay, stepping down from that particular soapbox, and not making any promises for that which will follow.

I binge-watched the new netflix series, Making a Murderer, and it was truly disturbing, horrifying even.  I could not look away and I had nightmares.  We cherish our justice system without regard to its many, many failings.  When it is used for revenge, which it frequently is, we shrug our shoulders because we imagine those who are accused are guilty, and, therefore, somehow less deserving of the *justice* we think our system allows for the *not* guilty.  However, as I have written before, our system for meting out justice is far from perfect.  Flawed does not begin to cover what is wrong with it ... and race is not our only problem, though it is a glaring pimple on the wart on the tumor that is the underlying bias/power problem inherent in the system.  This piece is the one that finally brought me to write about this (again) even though I have been having nightmares about the series.  Ms. Cummins' description of the troubles and the context give another insight into the issues.  [I wish her family as much peace as possible as they await the twists and turns in their case. Clearly the victims and their families are some of the greatest losers in this system, but that is for another rant.] Lest there be any misunderstanding, the subtext to the netflix series is "white people are not immune to the perils of our justice system."  There, I said it!

And for something not lighter, but different ... this is a series about Latinos converting to Islam.  I am not a fan of finding yourself through religion, but I gotta say that I respect the tenacity with which these folks embrace their faith.  If you are going to base your life on religious teachings, it seems the least you could do is learn about them from the source, as in reading the books... and then practice the teachings.  What a world we would have if all the religious folks, of all stripes, spent more time in their good books and trying to live as their prophets/gods/gurus told them...

There are other ways to improve oneself ... a friend sent me this to help me keep perspective as I navigate the life changes.

Perhaps I should reread Emma in an attempt to find patience with my parents and their aging.  For now, I have chosen to move away, not too far, but far enough that I am not *responsible* for keeping their heads above water.  For the time being, it is the right thing, but I fear this is a temporary respite in what could well be a long ordeal ... so, as I said, perhaps Emma and other Austen novels are in my future.  I did read Emma once, but I haven't read any of the others, perhaps there was a reason I never indulged before.