Solace and tyranny

It seems a lifetime ago now but recently I was lucky enough to wander through the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon. In a trip replete with beauty, this ranked right near the top. Never have I been in a crowded public space that was so serene. That speaks volumes about the healing power of trees and plants and beautiful design. Enjoy the pictures.

That’s all – unless you’re interested in two memories.

One: It was my first year of law school. Constitutional Law. I raised my hand (something I didn’t do much) and asserted that I wished Roe v Wade was better decided. There might have been gasps. This was a Jesuit school after all and I had a reputation already — the Women’s Law Center, etc. But what I meant was simple. I didn’t like how vulnerable the holding was because it relied on the fundamental right to privacy under the Bill of Rights (particularly open to attack by strict constructionists like Kavanaugh). Furthermore (even then), the holding was on a collision course with medical science, as interventions continued to push the date of viability earlier and earlier in pregnancy.

Two. It’s a panel with Ram Dass and Marilyn Ferguson. He: a Buddhist, she: a radical Christian. I think the topic was climate change. She offered her passionate hope that we get it together in time. He said, why should it matter to me that humans continue?

Or words to that affect. Omega Institute.

I’m not laying aside my rage or activism (such as it is), but here we are — entering what by all counts appears to be a period of misogynistic tyranny.

Taking Ferguson’s position, I say: we will need strategy, devious adaptation, and each other.

Taking Ram Dass’s position: get used to it. This is how it is now. (Different from non-attachment, I know– but also miles from the passionate hope for social justice and sensible government).

What we leave behind

The basement door was open. The place was sold midsummer — a very tiny, dated Cape, most likely a tear down. The dog and I went ’round back and crept in. It wasn’t spooky exactly but full of the traces of lives departed.

Did I already post about this?

Today we helped my sister prepare for building-wide inspections this week. It was a little overwhelming, given that it looks like she moved in yesterday (instead of the end of April). We hung mirrors, curtain rods and curtains, a kitchen peg board, pictures, put away the AC (which required emptying and sorting a closet) and took out lots of garbage. It was a lot. I’m tired.

But my younger son is in the air, due to land within the hour. Such good timing.

Because it is a hard time to be alive and be American.

Green medicine and harsh questions

Saturday. Wellesley. Green medicine.

Sunday, we saw a moving play in two acts about a conversation between a white professor at an elite private college and a black history student. It was moving. Tough to watch. Didn’t answer any questions. “The Niceties.

From the article about white playwright, Eleanor Burgess, and the play’s creation:

The imbroglio at Yale made Burgess, a former high school history teacher, realize that smart, educated, and well-meaning Americans couldn’t talk to each other about race. ‘ I started to believe that we actually disagree much more than we think we do.’

…the advantage of having the debate unfold on stage, where audience members are not taking part in the conversation directly. ‘You’re not personally being attacked, and you don’t have to think of a next thing to say. So you can actually hear the entire conversation and just let it wash over you.’

The play was set prior to the presidential election and all of us wondered how much starker the terms of the argument would’ve been today.


Who gets to decide what perspective is important?

What role does the insistence on source documents in writing about history play in discounting the history of slavery in general and the lives of the enslaved, in particular?

Where should people in positions of power draw the First Amendment line when it comes to triggering images and content?

What would happen if professors were more open to the strengths of millennials (and less reflexively dismissive)?

If saying “sorry” isn’t enough in the wake of a problematic encounter, what sorts of reparations are?

Should change be approached incrementally or in dramatic sweeps? And, who decides?

What actual supports do students of color need and deserve on college campuses, particularly bastions of privilege like the ivy leagues.

(The role these institutions play in perpetuating a closed loop of power is particularly on display this week with the Kavanaugh revelations).

Back to work.

PS is it weird that all four of us who watched the play think that Kavanaugh will be appointed and yet nevertheless find the many ways that protest and pushback are having an effect in real time, inspiring?

Villages and lies

There has been something compensatory, soothing even, hand stitching on two village quilts while listening to the Kavanaugh hearings.

But perhaps not compensatory enough. I felt sick last night while going to sleep. Worried about it a little. It is the first time since November 2016 where I truly thought I might need to stay away from the news for a while.

The gasbags of the patriarchy, otherwise known as the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, were no easy listen. I’ve tweeted, posted on FB, talked with friends, texted and DM’d in real time. Thank goodness for those connections. That humor. That shared outrage.

But this morning, waking to the first sun in ages, I’m typed out about it all. Here are a few highlights.

(Well, certainly not a “quarters game”).




It was a good week to send my first 20 postcards to voters.

Enjoy your weekend, all. Today is a day to get out in the fall air with K and the dog. Tomorrow we’re seeing a play called “The Niceties.”

Grateful Monday

These came in the mail! Thank you, Ms. Lacativa!

Went to the vet with this guy and, except for some seasonal allergies that we’re treating with apoquel, he’s healthy. Good weight, muscle tone, appetite. Yes, yes, yes. Also grateful that the vet was open to tinkering with dosage and pill size of the allergy meds to reduce price. I wasn’t having $250/month.

Grateful for Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer (but I don’t know WHAT to think about Michael Schmidt right now – but let me add, I’m grateful for Rod Rosenstein*). Oh, and Michelle Alexander who wrote a good piece for the Sunday Times about where we find ourselves with the resistance.

Grateful for the cool temperatures and the feeling of settling in that comes with fall.

Grateful that my sister was open to a visit on Friday instead of tomorrow because it’s supposed to rain like the dickens tomorrow, plus for reasons I don’t understand but no longer question — I need tomorrow open in order to be able to write today.

Grateful for James McBride — who writes really good historic fiction.

And coffee. Always grateful for coffee.

What are you feeling grateful for today?

* I wrote this post before the shit hit the fan re: Rosenstein. Must’ve been in the air.