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Sunday, October 5, 2008

And Another Thing

One thing I know I'm pretty good at is giving support. I do my best to help people who need a hand, or a shove, to get through or get things done. I'll listen and commiserate, give suggestions where needed, just be a sounding board, ask beyond the particular problem how the person's doing, yada yada.

But it seems that when you're one who supports, nobody thinks you need any.

This is a repetitive theme in my life. I often get other people's messes to clean up, or somebody dies and it all ends up in my lap. Everyone comes to me when they're hurting over something, when they're losing, when they can't cope. And I never turn my back. I can't. It makes me happy to help somebody. But it seems I don't get much back-up in life from those I need to give it.

This is all really about my brothers. I have two left. Both older (60 and 58). The 60 year old just had open heart and is recuperating very slowly, at home now. He has COPD and diabetes, so healing is a long process. The 58 yr old just got the news that his docs think he has a blood cancer. Not lymphoma, but leukemia or multiple myeloma. We won't know for sure until the marrow biopsy on the 22nd. But he's pretty convinced it's myeloma, and after looking at the symptoms, I have to say they're all there. Myeloma is a short-term death sentence.

We three are all that's left of "our family". There are cousins but we're not close, there are nephews and nieces and grands. But Billy and Tommy and I are the only ones who have the memories now. And the non-immediate family doesn't seem to care.

At 50, I'm the on the front line in my family, and will probably be the last to go. I really, really, don't like that prospect. I already have too many memories that nobody else living shares. Before my "little brother", Seth, died, we'd counted up the deaths we'd been through. It was 54, then. My count now is 58. I've had enough.

But beyond that, I wish those who can take support would give it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Late Night with gnana

"i dont know what jingoistic and xenophobic mean (am looking up) i am just common folk. i just think our country has gone back to king and queen crap. taxation without representation. rich gettin richer off backs of serfs. we have no say in what happens in washington nor where and when we go to war. i am not an old lady headed to the hills with her guns and compound, but sure dont feel anyone listens. i am almost happy i willnot live to see the downfall of our county. because younger people do not know what it was like to be so proud to be an america. so they will accept the status quo. i still am proud i am american."
-gnana, iBrattleboro.com

This comment has been haunting me. In the last years, I've remarked that I was glad the old people didn't have to see what's happened. And lately I've begun a serious exit strategy for the possibility should McSame get to be President.

This blog often catches my attention when something that's serious and negative makes some new move in my life. This is sometimes just my rant page. But more often than not, it's not a place you're gonna read something that'll send you on your way whistling "Zippadee doo dah". Over the last 10 years I've watched a lot of bad happen in my country. I'm accustomed, tuned, to look for the lies, the evil actions. Sometimes I get a fact wrong. Sometimes my opinion bleeds into what I'm reporting as a citizen journalist (my greatest achievement? #1 most-read article on iBrattleboro.com, "Naked PETA Girls Attract Crowd in Brattleboro"). I try to stay away from emoting when reporting things. But here, I get to vomit.

To hear such disheartenment from one of my town's most lovely elders makes me puke. To see and know how evil and awful these leaders are makes me puke. I don't know how this will end, or if it will. And I have hopes on a guy who may or may not be the new leader we need. In paranoid moments I half-envision a Totalitarian Amerika, one in which I won't live under any circumstances. I wonder how much of my family will be Good Amerikans and be all right. My brothers are vets and getting up there so they're probably okay. It's the young ones- the 4 nephews and their families- that worry me most. Especially those that are already on the Right wing side. Will they be wearing a uniform under some new Fascist Regime, a new Fuhrer to horrify the world from my own country? And what if I do expatriate in another place, will I be interned there? Will the world hate the US the way it hated Nazi Germany?

Yet, the most bizarre set up has happened that may change my life anyway. It's possible that I may be able to emigrate with an amount of comfort- and birthright I wasn't aware of until 3 years ago. We live in very interesting times. I'm staying afloat thru it, and gods know my lot in life may change rapidly for the better, but part of me is with gnana. This is like watching the death of my country before my eyes. I'm looking at a younger-than-me black doctor to save the patient.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Accepting Things You Can't Change

Ever since my mother hung a tacky aluminum plate with fake "American Indian" symbols and the Serenity Prayer on it, I've followed that advice. It makes life easier. I'm good with easier. There are enough complications, like the tax system. And life in general. Love in particular.

So I try to keep things in perspective, not let the small stuff bug me, take pleasure in little things, all that advice older people give. But somewhere, somehow, something enters my life that brings panic and agita. In this case, being flat broke, applying for Disability, my friend's back problems, my brother's open heart surgery, some members of my family's lack of feelings (unless it's Their Crisis) and continuing interpersonal issues amongst my friends. All going on at once.

For instance- my brother's surgery. I'm not asking anyone to fly out here and hold my sis-in-law's hand . But will one of them respond, even with a "Hope he's okay"? I don''t even get answers to the emails! Fine. It's not the first time. Let it go. But I won't forget this one. Thank the God/desses, he's coming along fine.

Then there's the running lack of gratitude from friends for whom others have done huge favors. Me also, in that group. Some people seem to think they're entitled, and that whatever someone does for them, it's just their right to say how, when, where and what that favor should be. And then to judge the quality of that favor, and even to criticize it. In this case, it's easier for me to forget the bit of anger over what they've done to me. But someone just did them a Real Solid, and they criticized him. It wasn't what they wanted, exactly. No thanks, just disappointment. What a complete lack of manners. That's a hard one for me to accept, but there's no changing their behavior; it's a pattern I've seen. I can, however, ignore their wants in the future, and I will.

The Grand Guignol at the moment is my financial picture. I have roughly 10 bucks to my name. This came about over a mistake that an Aide made, which took the bucks I had earmarked for the phone bill and some incidentals away, when she spent my cash on food that could've waited the 3 days until my Food Stamp allotment came. My oldest and dearest friend is stepping in once again, with a loan to help me stay afloat til something gives. But it's been a week and I've not heard from her. On the 5th, I'm officially 3 months behind in rent, which coincides with the signing of a new lease offer. I'm really afraid that my landlord won't re-up my lease, and that'll be another battle that I just don't think I can wage right now. I'm pretty beaten down. On the sunny side, Social Security has finally given me an evaluation appointment with a doctor. That's on the 10th. I'm praying I don't get the "first application is always denied" treatment. My US Senator has stepped in unbidden (I love you, Bernie and Gretchen) so maybe that will help my case. But I gotta tell you, all this has me dissociating and not able to sleep all that well. I'm doing all the pro-active things I dream up. I'll just have to accept that there's a limit to what I can do. And accept that there are things about my condition that can't be changed. And accept that my Nana's old saying is true; "What can't be cured must be endured".

And so, patient reader, be kinder to yourself, because some bitch or bastard is ready at any moment to be rotten to you. Be able to take joy in the smallest things, because sometimes that's all you have. Be grateful for what you have and all you're given, because life doesn't owe you a thing. Be wise in whom you trust and keep close, and when you find even one who'll fit the bill, cherish them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How White I Am

While reading a typical summer read, 'Coming Home' (family saga set in Britain), I realized just how white I am. I'm damn white. Not really WASP, because I'm not British, but I'm Scot-Swedish enough to have grown up that way. And we went to a liberal-but-nonetheless Episcopal church when I was little. I think the Episcopalian bit accounts for a lot of this. And my mom's fosterdad lived with us, and he was Veddy British. But let me explain.

If what we are comfortable with defines us, I'm British. Though born and raised in Brooklyn, much of my childhood reading consisted of thrift bookstore British children's lit. That was my mom's fosterdad's gifting. A stream of Brit Lit ran thru our house, and my brothers, also, are very white people. We ate what my mom could call cooking (tasteless British food she'd learned from her fostermom) and what my dad concocted (scary Scottish from his mom and "healthy" early 20th century trends-influenced). We dressed as most of White Americans did in those days, gloves and hats on women, hats and suits on men. Our furniture was large, dark wood, a china closet and buffet in the dining room. Upholstery was either floral or bland. Flowers were important. There was always tea around. If we had nothing at all else, there was tea. Eggs were boiled or fried in bacon fat, no omelets. No garlic, no peppers, no olive oil, rarely a spice. Salt, yes, but black pepper was never in cooking. Mayonnaise was for salads. Gravy was required. And all foods went into the oven/on the stove to boil, at the same time, and served when the meat was leather. Canned peas cooked as long as the beef roast. One's shoes were always shined. Everything was done by rules that had existed time immemorial and would exist beyond our petty lives. One showed no real emotion. If you dared, punishment was swift. Ignore all disruption and carry on was the code. Even church was controlled and dignified. 3 hymns, you're out. And you'd better sing.

I find myself liking and identifying best with British fiction and BBC broadcasting even now. The settings, the clothing, the customs, all so familiar and comforting to me. Much of this I recognize as my grandparents and parents' influence. Both of my parents were WW2 veterans, and the British influence- even programming, really- on that generation was enormous. It's been said by Gore Vidal that it was a systematic campaign of the media at that time to re-British Americans so they'd jump into the war to save Britain. Along with that identifying went a certain brand of racial prejudice, as well. A caste system, if you will, that we bought into as a family. And we weren't British, but close enough. The British were #1, then anyone Episcopalian, and on down the scale from there. Of course it was never discussed, but it was the order of things. It was a disruption when one of my brothers married an Italian Catholic, even though they'd been like family to us for years.

So it is, but shouldn't be, a revelation to me to see this, blankly, now. I'm oh-so-very-very-white. Despite my Mohawk blood, despite the bit of French, though I married a Jew and am a practicing Pagan, I'm white to the core. Looking around my living room now, I see how white I am. Floral couch, dark wooden furniture, wing chair, right down to the arranged framed art and photos and vase waiting for flowers, I'm a white girl.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Questions and Theories

What if a ghost is sometimes simply a time distortion? What if there's some kind of an unknown wavelength that snaps a photo, or briefly bodily transports someone, which/who is witnessed in another time? What if what we call "dissociation" isn't always a psychological state, but sometimes a spontaneous and uncontrolled movement into another dimension? I often find myself reminding people that what we thought we knew 500 years ago is laughable now. And logically, what we think is truth and science now will be primitive in the future.

The problem inherent here is that this can't (yet) be reproduced in empirical tests, so can't be proven by our current standards. We are limited by the constraints of proving what we don't have the capabilities to prove. So this is just a theory.

Just as colors can't ever be satisfactorily explained to one who's never had sight, we are also blind. There is much we look at, attach emotions to, and cannot control, therefore it remains the unknown. I do hope that the race survives long enough to discover some of these mysteries, even harness them. It certainly won't happen in this fearful superstitious phase we're in. But I do hope.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Playing "Who Said This?"

"We need leaders to speak out forthrightly to end the war ...and for the need to bring our troops home immediately. We also need new leadership to address the critical threat to the loss of our democratic rights and freedoms. Americans' rights are being threatened by our own government who seem to believe they are above the law...

"We need to be a country that adheres to the principles of international law, constitutional rights and humane principles of fairness, honesty and mutual respect. Equal rights for all need to be reinforced and practiced better.

"Corporate-occupied Washington needs to be challenged vigorously by weeding out the influence of money and corporate power and fighting for America’s forgotten lower and middle-classes. Corporate welfare and the corrupting influence of money in American politics needs to cease. Citizens' rights and powers need to be enhanced and protected. Poverty needs to be eliminated and a more equitable system of housing, health care, education and work needs to be implemented...

"... New proposals should include offering a national health plan for all Americans, and that it be offered as a right and not just a privilege of class or employment...

"The arts, athletic and sports activities and culture need to be a more essential part of America as well. The United States also needs to become more self-sufficient in its manufacturing capacity and agricultural production and less dependent on foreign customers. Heavy spending in the defense industry needs to be reduced, especially on high technology planes, tanks, ships and weaponry, while better support of the needs of soldiers during and after their time of service should be a high priority.

"Better and more diplomacy, fairer foreign and economic policies and the elimination of special interest influence should be the guiding principles of our nation. Self-interest actions or policies, at the expense of fairness, honesty and mutual respect and human decency should be a thing of the past."

I posted this elsewhere and the guesses began. Ike? It sounds like him. Early JFK? Nixon?

Nope, it's Brian Moore, the current Socialist Presidential candidate. This is how far we've gone off-path; that a Socialist of today sounds a lot like a Republican President of the 50s astounds me.

Check out Brian Moore at www.votebrianmoore.com In my state, Obama's a shoe-in. So this election I'm voting for somebody I really like and believe in, and won't have to hold my nose or drink Maalox while voting.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Sound Familiar?

WHEN IN the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience heth shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the People.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States, for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners, refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our People, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislature.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislature, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~"... the liberty of the Press is called the Palladium of Freedom, which means, in these days, the liberty of being deceived, swindled, and humbugged by the Press and paying hugely for the deception." - Mark Twain, 1870

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Marching Song of the Covert Battalions by Billy Bragg

Here we are, seeking out the reds
Trying to keep the communists in order
Just remember when you're sleeping in your beds
They're only two days drive from the Texas border.
How can a country large as ours
Be scared of such a threat?
Well if they won't work for us
They're against us you can bet!
They may be sovereign countries
But you folks at home forget
That they all want what we've got
But they don't know it yet!
We're making the world safe for capitalism!
Here we come with our candy and our guns
And our corporate muscle marches in behind us
For freedom's just another world for nothing left to sell
And if you want narcotics we can get you those as well...
We help the multi-nationals
When they cry out protect us
The locals scream and shout a bit
But we don't let that affect us
We're here to lend a helping hand
In case they don't elect us
How dare they buy our products
Yet still they dont respect us!
We're making the world safe for capitalism!
If you thought the army
Was here protecting people like yourself
I've some news for you
We're here to defend wealth!
Away with nuns and bishops
The good lord will help those that help themselves
I've some news for you
We're here to defend wealth!
We're making the world safe for capitalism!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Ending Abuse

In my younger days I was quite insane. I knew it then, I really know it now. Part of becoming that insane was that I'd been programmed to living in abuse. And part of that programming is not even knowing what abuse is. Consequently, I gave and took abuse as a course of life. It was the norm; I knew nothing else, had no coping skills, no awareness of living differently. And for some 36 years, I got thru life that way. It was all about giving shit and taking shit. Drama followed drama, I was angry and hate-filled, lonely and very sad. People were always in my life, but few were mentally healthy. Then a succession of deaths left me at a rock-bottom place, a place of singular pain. And I said to myself, "No more." The No More attitude began invading all parts of my life. Bit by bit, I started demanding respect and not tolerating the way other people treated me. It became important to be treated the way I wanted to be treated, and in turn, I began to treat others better. This set up an expectation of what I'd accept from people, and what I wouldn't accept. By setting limits, and communicating them, I was treated better. If I wasn't treated well, I left. The powers of dissociation I'd used to block out pain I turned into taking a step back and looking at what was happening, objectively. I stopped hanging on to insane situations and people. It was a process, and still is.

I tend to love very deeply, and believe that my heart is right. It isn't, often. Love really is blind. And if I want to love someone, I will ignore all the flags and warning signs and boldly go forward. I'm still working on that. Sex is not love. Self-sacrifice can leave you with nothing. Supporting another person can become an addiction. You cannot change anyone else, and rarely can you change how they treat you. The instinct to love someone can be very wrong. Laughing off or "understanding" someone's abusive ways won't change the paradigm. In fact, it enables it to go on. Even encourages it.

And I'm quite comfortable alone. Sometimes too comfortable. Sometimes too cautious with people, sometimes not cautious enough. I'm willing to trust someone to a point now, but I'm more watchful than ever. And if someone's loud and invasive, I watch more carefully. If someone is critical of others, chances are I'll be on the list soon. If someone is passive aggressive, talks behind others' backs, constantly rants and bitches about others, chances are they do the same about me to others. Their drama does not make it my drama. I don't hunt for character flaws, but I recognize them. And if I begin to become someone's victim, I get out. Because once they have a taste of your blood, they'll be back for more. It also reignites parts of me that I've spent years dousing out. It starts the old "proving myself/insecurity/submission/people pleasing" crap. Life is short and there really are a lot of good people in the world. I don't need to keep abusive people in my life. There's nothing to prove, nothing that matters more than my peace of mind.

Neither do I give people up easily. And the door can be reopened if that formerly abusive person wakes up and stops the cycle in their life. But for me, for my portion of sanity and self-preservation, the craziness had to go. And life has been much better. I do recommend it.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

How Lovely to Be a Woman

Here I sit, for the 3rd morning in a row, having had about 2 hours' sleep, staring at the humid breezeless dawn.

Really, perimenopause wouldn't be complete if you could escape from its tortures by getting a few hours of unconsciousness. No, one should be continually aware of all the special effects, to lose even a few moments of this momentous life event would be a waste! Of course, some of my friends have things I wish I got- like cold chills. Oh, for a good shiver to relieve the constant furnace I am. On the upside, I never had to turn the heat up beyond 55 all winter because I was bodily contributing to Global Warming.

Then there are the swelling body parts and vigilantly avoiding any food that may make it impossible to bend your fingers. Or the arbitrary periods that may or may not show up after the PMS from Hell. What kinda period will it be this time? A Peckinpah festival or barely worth a tampon's cost? Will it last 10 days or 2? Will I get it again in two weeks or not for another 3 months? Surprise me! After 36 years, there's new tricks in this pony afterall! Hot damn! Did I mention arhythmia? That's a treat all to itself. Nothing like having your heart flop around in your chest as you desperately try to get some-any-sleep-please-gods-just a few hours of sleep! And just as you think your heart will go thru your throat or stomach, it stops, waiting for you to relax and catch you unaware. After the exhaustion peaks and you drop on your bed, expecting Morpheus to claim you at last, the lower back pain kicks in so there's no chance you'd sleep in any position the human body is capable of, anyway.

So you get up, drag your sweating, sagging miserable ass to your desk and wait for sunrise, again. Ah, yes. No wonder the Hasids thank their god everyday that they weren't born a woman. And no wonder that program "Snapped" is almost always about a menopausal woman.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

6, 8, 10

6 years, 8 months and 10 days.

In that short time, my country has become unrecognizable. It doesn't take long for a despot with unlimited wealth, evil intent, amoral comrades, subprime intelligence and unitary executive powers to bring a country to ruin.

Fed lies, fast food, religious zealotry, constant (televised and print) programming, approved hatred, half-witted self-congratulatory humor and meaningless hush money, the populace is lulled into a false security. Wave a flag, put a yellow ribbon on your car, wear a lapel pin, praise Jesus and George, and you're a patriotic American. It's easy. It feels safe. Best of all, you don't have to think, just beLIEve.

Go shop- that's what George told us to do! Wal-Mart's full of shit you can afford! Never mind that the humans who made whatever that is in your hand are living on 32 cents an hour, that children made it, that by buying that you're sponsoring a corrupt system and putting the American working class into the Welfare system. You want it, it's cheap, buy it! You can bitch about the lazy folks on Welfare later- an extra bonus round! Why- if they'd just worked harder, been smarter, stayed married, hadn't let themselves get sick- if they'd gone to church and prayed! They've made their beds, it ain't your fault! Those unions were a bunch of mafia crooks! It's their own damn fault if they can't make it in God's country. They just didn't try! What did those college degrees get them anyway? What'd they think, they could get a cushy teaching union job so we'd have to pay for them all their lives!? They just didn't have the guts to go out and work for a living! To Hell with them- let them live under bridges! There aren't any Vets there; we take care of our boys! That's as much a crock as the so-called AlGoreithm of Global Warming and Climate Change! It's all the fault of those Muslim Jihad crazy bastards and the bleeding heart Liberal Commies anyway! They're destroying our way of life with that Gay marriage shit and rap music. This country's just like Sodom and Gommorrah, read your Bible! Jesus said he came with a sword!

Any of that sound familiar? Thought so. It's all you've heard for, oh, about 26 years. But the full agenda has been beaten into your TV'd brain nonstop for 6 years, 8 months and 10 days. Is there any part of you that remembers how it was before this? Do you remember when you had a sense of fairness and compassion? When it mattered to you how your neighbor was doing? Remember those days? When you wouldn't buy imported crap because you knew it couldn't be fixed if it broke, and there was somebody who could repair things, but not crap? Remember getting new soles on your shoes, and they were better than when you first bought them? Remember how much something meant to you because you saved for it and looked forward to buying without endless mail asking for more money? Remember how people resisted buying foreign cars, because you were putting Americans out of work if you did? Remember when what you believed for religion was your own business and considered rude to ask of others, much less judge them for it? Remember learning and reminding yourself that you can't judge a book by its cover? That fancy clothes were more often the attire of the untrustworthy? That super-skinny people were that way because they were poor, and it was your obligation to give them food? Remember when the National Enquirer and the Star came out and were laughed at as rags not worth your money? Remember when the NY Times was a bastion of fact and straight story, and therefore respectable? When Chet and David and Walter gave the news, mostly dry truth of what was happening, without slant and opinion?

It's all gone. Go shop for your Chinese-made, lead painted affordable plastic shoes. There's nothing left to see here.

The Indecent, Rovian, Disgusting Obama Smear

Today I received an email from my cousin in Florida's wife. Titled "something of interest", I opened it thru endless attachments with hundreds of email addys. It begins with a snapshot of a a smiling black woman pointing to an Obama 08 sticker, claiming this woman is his grandmother. It then goes on thru many snapshots of "Obama's family in Kenya" with paragraphs under each. In these paragraphs, it is claimed that Obama was illegitimate, that his late father was a drunk and drug addict, that his African relatives are all ne'er-do-wells, that his uncle named his son after Fidel Castro, that his family are radical militant Muslims, that Obama disrespected his maternal grandparents by calling them "white folk" and that he changed his name to Barack Hussein Obama. I lit into my cousin's wife over it. But judging by the volume of email addys, this must be everywhere. How entirely shameful.

I deleted it in disgust. I've asked her to send it to me again for autopsy.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Vindication of Marge

Marge was my mother. All of our lives, my brothers and I heard that we were part American Indian. She was orphaned during the Depression, and for all these years we had no traces of her family to either prove or disprove her story.

Then along comes my nephew's wife, a rabid genealogist. For the past few years she's doggedly pursued the threads of the Hendrickson line. She really is a very determined woman. I'd given up, my brothers had lost interest. But out of nowhere, Lisa managed to find some member of the family who had extensive info, and voila! Marge wasn't full of shit!

Marge's father's father's mother was a Mohawk. Her Christian name was Mary Catherine. She died by slipping off a bridge and drowning. As scant as that info is, it's more than we've ever had. It explains a lot. But most of all, it proves that our mother wasn't lying. That's really priceless. Though Marge isn't here to enjoy our discovery, she's probably somewhere waiting to say, "See? I told you so," to each of us who pooh-poohed her. So Happy Mother's Day, Ma. I know you're enjoying this one. You've got Lisa to thank, after you gloat over the rest of us.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wave Bye-Bye to That Amber Grain

First posted on
Green Mountain Daily.com

Soaring prices on grains and rice could be the worst wave of economic shafting we'll see.

Statistics are projecting something of a perfect storm:

400% - Rise in the price of spring wheat over the last year
75% - Average world food price rise since 2005
16 million more people at risk of food insecurity for every percentage point rise in the price of staple foods
33% - Amount of maize harvested in US this year that will go to produce biofuels

That's worldwide, not just our tanking dollar. Experts say it doesn't have much to do with population, but in distribution. Droughts in Australia and the emerging middle class in China (who are adding much more meat to their diet) are factors, but the sheer amounts of crops biofuels will consume are staggering.

From The Australian:
"The most contentious development among these is the rise in biofuels, and the use of food for fuel has attracted widespread criticism. Global biofuel production doubled between 2000 and 2007, from 21.8 billion litres in 2000 to 72.7 billion in 2007. The US has a target of 163.6 billion litres of biofuel by 2022."
That ain't chicken feed.

The Australian continues: "The US produces 43 per cent of the world's biofuel, mostly from corn; Brazil produces 32per cent from sugar; and the European Union 15 per cent, largely from oilseeds. More than 40 countries have implemented policies to encourage the use of biofuels."
From the UK Globe and Mail: "Starting next week, Britain will require gasoline and diesel sold at the pumps be mixed with 2.5-per-cent biofuel, rising to 5.75 per cent by 2010 and 10 per cent by 2020, in line with European Union directives. Ontario's ethanol-content mandate is 5 per cent. As the content requirements rise, more and more land is devoted to growing crops for fuel, such as corn-based ethanol. In the EU alone, 15 per cent of the arable land is expected to be devoured by biofuel production by 2020."

And from Canada, the CBC reported on the stress to the meat industry: "High feed prices are a problem across the country, from the concentrated feedlots in Alberta to hundreds of smaller farms, like the one Bob Murphy has operated for four decades in the small eastern Newfoundland town of Brigus.

"When the Canadian dollar went from - I don't know what it was - 90 cents to $1.10, the price of cattle dropped 20 cents a pound, in a matter of six weeks," Murphy said.
"So, you know, that just ... well, it ruined my year."

"Murphy said the (price of) feed - which farmers use to fatten up their animals before slaughter - is now killing them (the farmers).

"I know a guy who [has] a thousand head on feed in P.E.I.," Murphy said. "So, just figure it out, how much they're losing. If they're losing $200 or $300 a head, how long can you stay in business doing that?"

Cattle farmers are trying to reduce the cost by shortening the "finishing time", the time cattle are grain-fed to bulk them up, resulting in thinner cattle and meat that isn't top quality.
The United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) warned two weeks ago that it will be forced to ration food aid. Factor in the high petroleum costs of transporting any relief and the costs are doubled and trebled. This situation is volatile. Last week there were fatal food riots in Haiti, ongoing violent food-price protests in Egypt, Burkino Faso, Morocco and the Ivory Coast. These follow many riotous protests in Senegal and Mauritania earlier this year. Rice is so valuable throughout Africa it is now transported in armoured truck convoys (hijackings and killings had escalated). Armed soldiers now guard fields and warehouses. Export bans are being instituted. Argentina and India have introduced bans and/or added taxes on exported products such as wheat, dairy products and meat. Russia has frozen the prices of staple foods. Manufacturers in China and Thailand will have to negotiate food price increases with their governments from now on. Algeria and Saudi Arabia have increased food subsidies across the board to producers and distributors.

Here in the good ol' USA, Bush has decided that the amounts of exported grains will remain the same to China, regardless of the possibility that Americans may soon be paying $2 or more for a pound of flour. When bread becomes a luxury, we're in deep doo-doo.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Spring Cleaning

I don't care if it's gray and rainy, it's the end of a winter I want to put behind as quickly and fully as possible. It was a cold, dark winter.

Sometimes people appear in your life that live in darkness and secrets. Their isolation makes you want to bring them in. But they have a learned coldness that mistrusts warmth. Sad and sick, they protect their insanity because it's all they know. But there comes a time sooner or later that one event bares so much reality that there's no going back, or even wanting to go forward. Like winter, they may recede or leave with a storm, but either way it's good to be done with them. And like spring, each day itself may be unpredictable, but you know the warmth is coming and everything will grow again.

So, on to spring cleaning. I'm looking forward, throwing out the trash, and takjing care to stay away from the darkness in the future. Nothing grows in cold insanity, no matter how much you tend it.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Bash Boom Bam

Quite the week for miscommunication. It's almost like bumpercars, without the laughter. Thankfully, I've only been in two such head-ons, but it's happening all around me, and so I'm feeling the others' ricochets.

My two best girlfriends are considering ending their relationships. One is married, and has had a rocky time since way before the wedding. The other fell quickly into a full relationship and is coming to the end of patience in living with a slob.

Guy friends seem to be having blow ups too; roommates that are getting aggravating are at the center of those focuses.

Strangely, all is calm with the usually ballistic. My gay couple friends are happy as clams and my family is all very peaceful.

In both head-ons I had, my part was in being quite direct and responding honestly. I don't feel wrong in either instance, because what I said/did are healthy things that I worked for years to be able to do. It's the responses to those actions that are the issue. I'm just at a point in my life where being real and dealing with shit as it comes up is the way to go. Some people aren't like that. I can have a hard time admitting when I'm wrong, but I always know when I am, whether I cop to it to others or not. I wasn't wrong in these cases. I was asked for an honest answer and gave it, in one; in the other, I was damned concerned for the well-being of someone and made a phone call to the only person who'd know if that person was okay, and got unbridled hatred in return. So, as usual, fuck me for caring.

Maybe these blow-ups will blow over, maybe not. Life is way stressful these days and boiling points are lower. At least nobody's dead, this week.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

R.I.P Uncle Glenn

Glenn Blair, an honest man, a kind heart, a caring realtor, is dead.

Uncle Glenn came into our family in 1995, as my mom's real estate agent. The house would finally be sold 3 years later, following both my mother's and stepfather's death. But Uncle Glenn had become my Favorite Uncle by then, and will always be.

He was born in London to two stage actors in 1934. When the bombing in Britain became so constant that children were sent away, his parents shipped him to live with an Aunt and Uncle in Hollywood, California. Less than a year later, his parents were killed in a bombing raid in London and Glenn stayed with his Aunt and Uncle permanently.

He attended Hollywood public schools and began performing onstage, in the family tradition. His interest in acting waned in college, and he began pursuing a career in medicine. In his second year of Medical School, he realized he'd never reconcile his personal health beliefs with standard medicine, and quit. He became a personal assistant to Marlene Dietrich through family connections, and worked for her for several years. At one point during a trip to New York City, he decided he liked the East Coast better, and stayed. He took a job with a pharmaceutical company as a sales rep but quickly became disgusted with the drug industry. Then he went to work at Clairol as a sales rep, and was equally appalled at the practices used in that industry. He found his niche for many years working for the old Ma Bell, rising through the ranks from operator to supervisor to management. But he grew bored and quit to become a realtor.

He settled on Staten Island, buying a house on Drumgoole Road. There he collected stray people and dogs, caring for them all with love and patience. He went far over and above his duties to his real estate cutomers, and remained close friends with them all long after the deal was done. His strong ethics and fighting spirit kept many Staten Island brokers in line. He inspired my little brother Seth, who pursued a very successful realtor's career himself, under Uncle Glenn's tutelage. When Seth's cancer became terminal, Uncle Glenn brought him health foods and encouragement. When Seth died, Uncle Glenn held me together yet again.

I can't ever describe him in sufficient terms except to say he was infinitely kind, put others before himself, and was the most honest man I've ever known. His laughter will ring in my ears forever. His example will remain a standard to all who knew him.

The lovely congregation and pastor of the Rossville AME Church are in charge of his affairs. He'd found a second home with that church family, and I'm so glad he did. He was never happier than when he was puttering around on the churchgrounds, planting flowers and making it pretty. That's what he did in all things; made the world prettier. We are all lessened by his loss, whether you knew him or not.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Feel The Hate

I'm so filled with anger right now. Anger mostly out of hurt, and watching others be hurt.

Anger at arrogant stoners who are really beneath my contempt. I mean, really, you're in your midlife. Your brain cells are shot enough. I'm not gonna care when you've got dementia, which, BTW, you're showing signs of already. Grow the fuck up and get your heads out of your asses and get off your superior high fucking horse, while you're moving.

Anger at liars. People I thought were righteous are turning out to be powerhungry fucking Gollums chasing their Precious. People I was sure I knew are showing their true skins, and they're hideous.

Anger at cowards. Come on you fucking Quisling whining babies. I'm damned tired of tiptoeing around your fragile fucking nerves and coddling your moods. Grow some, somewhere. Need a spine? I'll be glad to insert one.

Anger at stupidity. Enough said.

Anger at being duped. I really thought this community was a forward-thinking, "Leftie" refuge of fellowship. What a fucking load of shit. These ego hippies are Fascists as much as the Bushites. Either think just like them, follow their program, or you're shit upon. So much for freedom.

Anger at being angry. I'm not good at anger. I have a hard time with it. It leaves me bitter and hateful. Oh, it can motivate me to do a lot of things. But not things I'm especially happy doing. I can forgive, but I can't ever forget. I have too good a memory.

Trying to stay yourself in a world that tries to change you in every way imaginable is very hard. And being so full of hate for so many people right now is very uncomfortable.
And it's fucking Valentine's Day and I'm alone with memories.
Fuck me, too.

Monday, February 11, 2008

February is the Cruelest Month

February sucks. Every year. Aside from being the death month of my mom, husband and Henry the Cheeseman, it's cold, it's harsh and it brings out the worst in people. Back in 1985, I spent the whole month of February in bed. I'm considering doing that this year.

Locally, the politics are enough to make you want to forget everything but where the Ambien is. And with John Edwards outta the race, I don't care who gets nominated now. I'll zombie vote Dem in November. Anyone has to be better than Bush.

And Thursday is Valentine's Day. Talk about masochistic-sadistic holidays. The only thing worse than family holidays is a celebration of romance. I don't have a valentine this year, but even in all the years I have, I can only remember one lovely Valentine's Day. It's a ritual. Another "you have to". Blech.

Then we have Presidents' Day, another combined-and-made-a-monday holiday. Big deal.

Oh, and this is leap year, so we get an extra day of torture in Sadie Hawkin's Day. Last Sadie Day I did propose to a guy. I didn't really mean it, but I did it. How depressing.

Which is the crux of What's Wrong With February. It's depressing. I don't have one person in my life who's happy. Not a one. Everyone is in turmoil of one or more forms. Even children aren't the careless laughing creatures they used to be.

I'm going back to bed.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Telltale Fart

Growing up in a family of guys, I learned early on about the entertainment value of bodily functions. My brothers and uncles practiced with the concentration of Tuvan throat singers.

The variations on a fart became more advanced as more males came into my life; my little brother Seth was nicknamed The Green Fog for his incomparable, eye-burning, house-clearing emissions. My husband refined his sound effects to two simple endearing names: "bert" and "ernie". My coworker whose entire family would jet out Sneaky Petes and not miss a syllable they were speaking, looking you right in the eye.

However, as I grow older, I'm observing that delivery becomes more of a style issue. Where once a person would make no sign of their passing, I now see my peers developing signatures. Several still simply lift one cheek, leaning away from the propulsion. Sometimes a sigh follows, sometimes a slight grimace from the effort. But the enthusiastic midlifers now add flourishes- standing and hoisting a knee as if mounting a horse, holding arms up as if a conductor, bending forward and pointing at someone.

What is it that makes us take such pride in this low accomplishment? Is it a surrender to the inevitable? Is it a readjustment of standards? Or are we merely returning to the gleeful badness of doing something we shouldn't?

I tried to find a copy of the Fart Poem that I heard when I was young. Regretfully, all I can remember is "The Poot and the Anti-Poot." The rest, alas, is gone with the wind, dissipated to traces of what I thought was there, just a slight lingering bit to remind me of how funny being a human really is.

The Kiss

In all my life I've never before known such a kiss as yours.

As if when our lips meet all the fear and urgency of a last breath

and all the peace and joy of a new life pass through us.

A hundred small kisses, each a slow blossom of life,

each in perfect time and movement to each other.

My self flies away in a whirlwind of feelings.

I am lost on your lips.

My whole being stays paused in our mingled breath
til our lips touch again...

Without this kiss, I am only half alive, without this kiss I cannot breathe

What, MeAngry?

This piece also goes back a few years, to when I was part of a Union drive at my former workplace and the Bush regime was gearing up for the downfall of the middle class. Which, to this date, is the only "Mission Accomplished" I can see.


I'm angry. I'm angry about just about everything. In the big picture, I'm angry about the dumbing down of America, about eternal poverty, about the Republicans in general. In the little picture, I'm angry about our community members who are too busy, entitled or uninterested to care anymore.
I don't exclude myself from my anger. There's a lot more I could do if I wasn't so self-involved. But since vacationing in Costa Rica is not amongst my options, I don't feel so bad. I live a really close-to-the-bone economic life. Just ask my landlord. I owe him a month and a half back rent, even doing my best. Still, I'm mad at myself for not living up to my contract with him. That's what I was raised to do. Live up to your responsibilities, keep your word. If you do your best, it'll pay off. Well maybe not anymore.
I'm angry at the management at the Co-op, first for hiring the self-proclaimed union busting law firm of DRM, then for the smarmy memos put out to the staff, then for the staff buying it, then for the justification that management has tried to promulgate. Deny, deflect, diminish. As Alex Gyori likes to say in his anti-union memos, Ask yourself why. Why are they saying that the organizing of \"some employees\" is equal to their anti-union committee? So many workers at the Co-op have been co-erced (some without their ever realizing it) that we won't say how many cards we have signed anymore. Yes, we have the 30% to go to an election. Those are the people who wear buttons, go to the meetings, make the phone calls and house calls. There's more. We don't want to go to an election until there are 70%. Less than that and it won't be a strong union. Management has been waiting for us to back off or go away. They're in for a long wait. The Management touts its organizing with other co-ops, and is poised to absorb the Putney Co-op. It knows what strength comes from unions, why would it so oppose its own employees doing the same? Ask yourself why?
Anger has been given a bad rap. In its best form, anger fuels one to action. Its worst form becomes violence. It takes humor, perseverance, and hard work to mold anger into productivity. But anger is powerful if we can learn to use anger for our own purposes. Don't be afraid of it, don't deny it, just find a way to let it energize you and use it to keep you up and have the courage of your convictions. Stay angry.

P.S.- Our Union drive failed, after almost 3 years. The union-busting tactics coached carefully to both management and then to some employees spread like a virus. Our complaints to the National Labor Relations Board were deemed out of date by the time we filed.

Fear of Drowning

This is a few years old, but still applies. It was the first opinion piece I wrote for iBrattleboro. I was still working in the Meat Dept. at the Co-op. Ah, memories...


When I spoke to Lise and Chris about writing for iBrattleboro, many issues crowded my head until none could come out intact. Then Thanksgiving came and I was too tired from Turkey Hell to do anything but drag my old white ass home and sleep enough to go back and do it again 'til the turkeys were gone. Now it's the week after Turkey Day and I have some local bug that's running around, bringing fever and coughing and pain. I still can't get any thoughts in order enough to make a cohesive column and I'm starting to think that perhaps those days are gone. There will be no more well-constructed theses coming out of my head or mouth, ever again. Each time I launch on one train of thought, some other piece of horrible news or a realization comes that leaves me speechless, and I fall silent. Is this happening to anybody else? Are we at total saturation point every day now, just going from one outrage to another like a cosmic pinball game?
Well, for God's sakes, I hope it doesn't make us all go silent for long. Too much crap keeps happening and the shit pile on each aware head is way too high; and without sharing what we know and have realized, the shit will engulf and choke us. In me, this fear of drowning has made me start sputtering, \"Lies!\" It's hard to enumerate beyond that, but it's a start. If that's all I can get out, at least it's something truthful. These days, lies fall around us like cold rain and it's hard to keep our umbrellas up.
I had a conversation with my 55 year old brother this past weekend. I was telling him about what was happening in Miami at the FTAA [Free Trade Area of the Americas] protests and about the SOA [School of the Americas] protest. He launched into questioning who I was associating with these days and that I sounded like a socialist. I asked him what was wrong with opening his mind and told him that he should know that these things are going on. He responded that he just goes to work and keeps his bills paid. I said, that's what we're all doing, but some of us can also shoot our mouths off and tell everybody else what's going on.
In his area of Pennsylvania, folks get the three big networks' news (unless they're cabled). That's where most of them get uninformed. I sent him to INDYMEDIA.ORG since he's on the internet. Since I'm still not on the Internet, I hope he'll have news for me when we speak again around Christmas.
Light little fires, man. If you can't put it all out there for someone to get it, refer them to where they can get it for themselves. Tell them to read \"Big Lies\" or \"Dude, Where's My Country?\" or \"Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.\" We've stopped thinking, we've stopped questioning, we've stopped caring. It's time we all got aware so we don't get fooled again, so we don't lose our rights, so we don't live in a fearful shower of lies.

Brave New Blog!

After threats and cajoling, after several drugs and an Irish coffee, I've managed to create a blog. Welcome! I'm gonna be cross-posting some of my stories written for iBrattleboro.com, some poetry and prose and will be writing about everything I take a fancy or humbrage to in the course of life. Woohoo. This is a great outlet for a lot of crap, and I'll be ranting as the mood strikes.