Category Archives: democracy

a pile up of questions

img_5118

  1. Why does my fridge stink AGAIN?
  2. Why do multiple requests to “Unsubscribe” so frequently fail?
  3. How did I manage to change my browser home page last weekend?
  4. Why does it take X so long to return my calls or texts, when she promptly takes every call and text when we’re together?
  5. And, how not to take personally?
  6. Who am I letting down by not calling or texting back promptly?
  7. Why does Finn greet dogs socially when with his walkers but not with us?
  8. Why are Republicans so determined to screw the American people?
  9. Why don’t I own a pair of shorts?
  10. How is it possible that the obscene and hateful desire to undo a black president’s legacy has turned so many Republicans into immoral toads?
  11. Just how guilty should I feel buying incidentals with Amazon Prime (even with batch shipping)?
  12. How can the GOP dress up any of what they’re doing in conservative ideology?
  13. How can Finn shed so much and still have fur on his body?
  14. How can the GOP NOT CARE about Russia (possible treason) or constitutional violations (provable without an investigation) when it’s now clear they won’t be able to slip through their monstrous agenda under cover of DJT’s chaos?
  15. Did I really give all my shorts away?
  16. Is there a conservative ideology any more?
  17. How did we manage to break three wine glasses this weekend?
  18. Where did my pruning sheers go?
  19. Is there a word for ‘bigger and better hypocrisy’  — because ‘hypocrisy’ alone doesn’t get at the epic, malevolent version practiced by Mitch McConnell.
  20. Why doesn’t clicking “Remember me” and “Update Password” work? (i.e. Typepad)?
  21. Why do I click “Remember me” and “Update Password” anyway?
  22. Given the astonishing willingness of the Trump base to believe unsubstantiated propaganda and wild conspiracies, how will we ever move forward?
  23. Now that leaf-blowers are banned, can we outlaw beeping truck alarms?
  24. How can anyone pin their hopes on mid-term elections when no one’s even trying to prevent further Russian interference?
  25. What does Naomi Klein mean: ‘we have to SWERVE’?
  26. What would my father think of my boys?
  27. Why is inverting the truth so popular with the Republicans?
  28. When that ice chunk the size of Delaware melts, what next?
  29. Remember when all we were bracing ourselves for was a kleptocractic moron with mental issues and damning conflicts of interest?
  30. Doesn’t that seem almost quaint now?
  31. Why are the original Klondike bars so tasty and the variations so meh?
  32. Why didn’t I send a comment to the FCC (this was the final week)?
  33. Why are the hollies dying?
  34. How can Jeff Sessions say the words, “war on drugs” with a straight face?
  35. Does Jeff Sessions own stock in private prison corporations?
  36. Do we?
  37. Is vacuuming the garage related to a generalized sense of powerlessness?
  38. Is there a bottom to the contempt and loathing I feel these days?
  39. Is America over?
  40. Why did the Gerber Daisies go crazy this year?
  41. If we were to cash out on this house, where would we go?
  42. What should I do with all the family photos?
  43. Given how much my joints hurt, why am I still eating sugar?
  44. If we don’t cash out on the house soon, will we regret it?
  45. Is America over?
  46. If hope is a radical act, how do I radicalize my outlook?

 

Near and far

Last night my city, Newton, Massachusetts, became the 14th community to pass a local resolution asking the federal House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether there is cause for impeachment based on Trump violating the two Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution (there is).  And, for Obstruction of Justice.

I helped! It was K’s birthday last night so I didn’t attend the second of two hearings, but I dutifully wrote my letters and spoke at the last hearing. I’ll admit that I didn’t think it was going to pass.

The Resolution can be viewed as a formal way of asking the House to do one of its most important jobs: performing oversight of the Executive Branch.

The resolutions have been passed by cities in Massachusetts, California, and Vermont. Hopefully, more and more towns and cities will do the same.

The idea of these resolutions is to create tangible evidence of the citizens’ will to adhere to the Constitution. It is all about applying pressure. It is not to make the argument for impeachment.

As you all know, the delay in impeaching this autocratic, corrupt and destructive president is not a problem of evidence. It’s not a problem of having too many possible judicial interpretations of the Constitution. It is solely a problem of the failure of political will. Party over country, etc.

I’ve said enough about this elsewhere, so I’ll leave it at that.

 

 

 

 

The digital collage was chosen for its juxtaposition of near and far views — the window into a home and the observatory with a view of the heavens — which goes to the relationship between local and federal power. Detractors of the resolution argued that it overreached the correct exercise of local power. Bah, I said to that and will say to that again: Bah!

Accidental beauty

Accidental Beauty

Look at the clipped grasses! The curb with its
divets. Tell me, could the ribbons of tar
shining in the midday sun be
any more gorgeous?

I’m waiting
for the light to turn, for the grey
hulk of hospital to leave the rearview —
waiting for the return of things
or the start of them, or even the
end.

Impatience is a surly thief!

And, shopping, a deficient religion.
I should have known better.
By the time I arrive,
the capris of summer are picked over.

Meanwhile, my sister’s heart flutters
in uncertain alarm and children
dead from cholera in Yemen pile up,
200, 300.
Somehow, I’m alive and shopping for pants.

In the swanky interior, the clack of my sandals
on the polished geometry stirs
sorrow. How it is these days.
“This is it,” my shoes percuss. “This is it.”

Going one place to another, you are never
anywhere but here.

Impatience acts the rude interloper
while uncertainty takes you to your knees.

Later, but not much, I slap my notebook
on the shiny ebon surface of a grand piano
and pull a pen out of my hair. One of
two. There, in the sunlit atrium, a prop of luxury
holds my weight. To one side, the familiar
bronze statue of girl and dog and to the other,
an absence I can’t get used to even though
the beloved fountain’s been gone for years.

(All those pennies tossed and wishes made
two little tow-heads at my side —
where are they now — pennies, wishes, and
boys turned brown-haired men?)

Regret followed far enough
takes you to love.

The Tiffany’s clerk paces
behind jewel-filled cases, not sure
what to make of a woman writing in fury
in the middle of the morning, in the middle of
the atrium and where did
that notebook come from anyway?

the ribbons of tar, the cement divets
polished geometry, regret,
bronze.

Oh tissue first, silver medallion next and finally,
the tasteful grey bag. The clerk chirps
“Have a good day of shopping,” even as
my ribs smolder about to combust, one hour
being thirty minutes too long.

How much time do we have? Ever?

Tick. Tick. Swipe. Delete.

How much time do we have
to be kind, to be kind,
to preserve the republic?

Fairness gone amok in every quarter
makes a girl want to cry —
even a girl who never cries.
No wonder the ordinary sound
of sandals clacking on
polished tile calls out, “Wake up!
This is it!” rattling up a
ferocious grief twinned
with gratitude.

“These are no ordinary times.” Say.
Repeat. Do nothing. The acts
held in reserve depend on gross
miscalculations of risk — as if we
have time and time and more time?

Tick. Tick. Delete. Swipe.

Regret followed far enough
leads to damnation.

Would the clerk in Tiffany’s understand
why a woman wails in the bathroom
corridor given our collective failure
or would she choose not to hear?

You lean your frantic frame against the
silent instrument, hoping to leave
behind more than the echoes of impatience
or a sweaty hand print that the cleaners
will have to buff off later.

Let me be kind. Let me speak up. Let
me pause long enough
to give thanks.

Regret expressed deeply enough always
turns into prayer.

The ribbons of tar, the polished geometry,
vanished pools and children, wishes
gathered and held in regions unknown.




img_2353-1

White and grey catch up



These peonies bloomed for the first time in years. Gifts, I would say. They seem more like repositories of light than flourishes of cellular organic matter. At the Boston MFA’s Matisse show, I was taken with the shadows of one of the artist’s chairs. Later, with the similarities between peonies and chair-shadows. img_4159

On Wednesday, there was a hearing in Newton to consider a House Resolution asking Judiciary Committee to look into impeachment. I spoke. Lots of others did too. It passed.

img_3807

img_3801Because one objection has been that impeachment is a matter best left on the federal level, I hunted for precedent and found one in the “History of Newton”, by Samuel Francis Smith. If you read the second sentence, swapping ‘the Trump presidency’ for ’embargo’, it sounds like something Charles M. Blow would say.

img_3787-1

I repeated this quote (“My Name is Mary Sutter”, by Robin Oliveira), quipping that I’d like to tatoo it to Nancy Pelosi’s forehead.

On Thursday, I listened to Comey with friends and was impressed and captivated, to say the least, but started feeling ‘off’ around noon and left early.

Came home to a message that my sister had been hospitalized. This wasn’t a surprise — her doctors have been calling for her admission since late March — but still. Her oxygen levels were very low, but after a few days of high volume oxygen and an IV diuretic/catheter to take down swelling, she is much better. They ruled out pulmonary embolism and pneumonia.

Stories and stories dwell in diagnoses, don’t they? Entire lifetimes, in fact. These stories are better left untold for now, though for some reason on Sunday, I spent hours trying.

And now off for my weekly Local Indivisible Power tele-call. Then to the hospital. Then, GODDAMNIT, to the page! Well? Except at 2:00, there’s the weasel Sessions testifying. I don’t expect to be impressed. More like this: Finn slinking up the stairs while I hurl imprecations at the TV.

So, maybe tomorrow?

P.S. The lab work came back negative for both shingles and herpes and since it spread to my arm and since K. has poison ivy right now and since our dog traipses through a band of the oily stuff to get to the field where we play fetch and because I snuggle and kiss Finn constantly, I am now convinced I have a mild case of poison ivy, which makes more sense than a case of shingles with no other symptoms and negative lab work.

 

Civil War not Watergate

I was pawing through boxes of historic fiction at the Schenectady Library book sale not long ago, when one of the volunteers sidled up to me and said, “This one’s really good.”  Of course I bought it.

(Don’t you love volunteers? Better yet, volunteers that read? I suppose I don’t need to tell you that she was grey-haired, shorter than me, and about ten years older?)

“My Name is Mary Sutter” by Robin Oliveira* tracks the experiences of a headstrong midwife from Albany who volunteers as a nurse in Washington during the Civil War. Not only was it a good read (a downright page turner, in fact), the novel also offered a provocative model for my own writing.

Oliveira manages to include tons of vivid historic detail without ever letting the story falter. I learned so much about medical training/procedures of the era, the war, the physical state of the capital at that time, and the limiting expectations foisted upon women in the mid-nineteenth century. Even so, the story and the characters drove the narrative, start to finish. I couldn’t put it down.

Hospital wards for the wounded are a grim landscape, of course, and Oliveira does not spare us. There are descriptions of grotesque amputations, filth, fever, and the suffering caused by inadequate supplies and staff. The sense of national loss is overwhelming. Personally, Mary Sutter suffers one loss after another herself and is tormented by the notion that she has her ambition to blame.

Though unrelentingly dark, the themes of forgiveness and redemption also run through these pages. It’s a tale of striving, grief, and resilience — on both personal and national levels.

I didn’t expect to find relevant political wisdom within, but did.


These words take my breath away. Not surprisingly, they describe Lincoln’s sense of urgency in a moment of crisis — his awareness of how much was at stake.

“A country’s imminent failure should
rouse even the stars to fainting.”

Wow.  They have stayed with me for days.

I’d like to tattoo them on Nancy Pelosi’s forehead. Or, email them to the Newton City Council, which seems poised to shoot down a House Resolution on Impeachment at a hearing tomorrow for various lame reasons.

The quote wakes me up to the fact that the Civil War is a far better historic reference for our current catastrophic government than Watergate. Then as now, it is not at all clear that we will survive as a nation.

Enough!

 

Afternotes: 
More about the local impeachment resolution on my Tumblr blog here.

*The author describes the fascinating genesis of the novel and her research here.

The B&W photo is mine from Climate Science March, Boston, 2017

Liberty and zombie filters

“Who will steal your liberty and when?”

On days of incomprehensible news, I take an obsessive satisfaction in making digital collages. It could be because it’s nonverbal and provides a kind of pause in all the urgently spoken outrage. Or maybe it’s because with these photo-combos I can almost, kinda, sorta capture the truly weird and horrifying circumstances we find ourselves in.

The paper collage (upper left) is from an old Sketchbook Project called, “Questions for a 19 year old” submitted in the category, “It’s not about me”. The Pinocchio photo is mine. On the right is an unfinished collage that became a SoulCollage card entitled “Fear”. I made it shortly after the election by combining two fashion ads from Vogue.


I use two free iPhone apps: Diana photo app and Prisma.  Some of these were generated solely with Diana.

Photo of Trump came from a Sarah Jones article entitled, “Trump leaves out Comey request for more resources to investigate Russia from timeline”. It was published online on politicususa.com here:

http://www.politicususa.com/2017/05/10/trump-white-house-sends-timeline-comey-firing-leaves-request-russia-resources.html

I didn’t see an attribution for the photo.

The old Sketchbook project queries keep coming back because of their relevance. Questions for a 19 year old included:

  • What will you carry?
  • What will haunt you?
  • What will you do when she changes her mind?
  • Who will steal your liberty and when?

I don’t usually like this dark green Diana filter but it seemed fitting for today. It’s called: “Zombie Apocalypse”.

I hear pundits say we are “on the verge” of a constitutional crisis and wonder what else would need to happen for them to name it an “actual crisis”?

#silentcoup

I have a lot to say about all of this. Maybe another spoken piece next — something I wrote in class today?






Writing helps

img_7054I don’t know who I am. I don’t know how to be. I don’t know what’s next or even, sometimes, what’s come before. Even “where am I?” is a difficult question these days.

Writing helps.

If I let a few days pass without scribing my three pages, I come a little unmoored. It took a while to notice this. These unholy pauses are sometimes followed by a great volume of ink, often equal to the aggregate number of missed pages. Now I’ve instituted a ‘catch up routine’ — whenever I miss a day, I mark my notebook where I’d be had I written every day. And then I catch up.

It seems to matter.

Strangely, writing makes me feel better even when dedicated to identifying what’s bothering me. Turns out, knowing what’s bothering me even without remedy is preferable to being bothered and ignorant to cause.

Does anyone understand why this is so?

I’ll answer the above questions, out of curiosity? Can you?

Who am I?” All the labels hang like loose chads, so I’ll let Joni Mitchell’s words stand in as answer: “I am a woman of heart and mind, with time on her hands, no child to raise…”  Maybe?

How to be?” How to be with respect to writing, that is: Stay at it. Don’t let doubt in any of its guises derail you. The rest is detail: collect 18th century language; bounce between public risk and private assembly; keep assessing the story’s pace. Keep at it. Vanquish doubt.

Where am I?” I’ve lived at this address for 23 years and in this town since 1986, so it’s strange to feel like I don’t really belong here. Did I ever? And if not here, where? Having been uprooted every few years growing up, I wanted stability for my boys and this was a good town for them to grow up in. But now? And it’s not just the leaf blowers.

The state of our nation and our planet shove disorientation down my throat in a manner most vile. Is this country mine anymore? Will there be a coup? Who will take him and his cronies down and when? Knowing that MILLIONS of Americans share my shock and grief doesn’t alter the central fact of my fearful alienation. Where am I, indeed!

img_2799

Boston Climate March

I’ll leave you with Naomi Klein’s key note speech from the recent San Miguel’s writers conference. It is hair-raising in its precise measure of our perilous state but also galvanizing… perhaps the best political media I’ve taken in for weeks.

‘We don’t have four years,’ she says. ‘The planet doesn’t have four years’.

‘The entire political system has to change,’ she says, ‘We have to SWERVE.’ (What does that mean?)

‘It’s not enough to resist. We have to also build.’ How? How?

 

PS “Daily Pages” as developed by Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way“‘