Category Archives: politics

Taking stock

Back to the morning pages. Must do. (after an inexplicable and lengthy lapse). Sessions on stationary bike are up to 25 minutes. Must keep doing. (my trick some days? Get on the bike and scroll through social media there instead of in bed. Redemptive!)

The sun is out!

Now for a few “of only’s”:

If only I would give up sugar again…. if only we still had a Congress… if only a crime syndicate in cahoots with a foreign adversary wasn’t destroying our society with a head-spinning rapidity… if only the Dyson vac hadn’t crapped out… if only I were the type of person to follow up on a warranty… if only Salem were 25 minutes closer… if only I were more disciplined. Sigh.

I leave you with this incisive and disturbing article by Rebecca Solnit — heroine to many of you, I know. She articulates where we are in America with terrifying clarity.

The Coup Has Already Happened“.

“Not how you want to start your week” you say? I don’t blame you if so. But it’s not as if every corrupt and destructive thing she discusses isn’t, on some consuming level, on your mind anyway.

American Horror

Two things.

Sometimes the most potent collages are made by combining only two images.

And, sometimes you want to transmute the underlying image and sometimes, like here, you want it to stand for what it is. The bee-comb head is an ad for the TV show American Horror Story. I haven’t kept up with the series so I can’t tell you what’s up with the bees, but I can hardly think of a better way to name the gun carnage and political failure we face than: American Horror Story.

(PS. Made this SoulCollage Card two days ago but given how often mass shootings happen in this country, it’s not particularly prescient).

Stunned

I need to slash and swipe and rip and adhere in big gestures right now and I lack the medium.

Writing is going, in case your wondering. So is quilting. But maybe an interlude of collage is in order. It’s not as fast as I would like but does come together more quickly than some writing or most quilting.

In SoulCollage circles they recommend an exercise to plumb the meaning of your collaged image. Of course any one image can have many meanings even for the same viewer depending on time and place. But the exercise is a useful one.

Looking at the card, fill in the statement, “I am the one who… “. This harkens back to therapeutic exercises I’ve done over the years — the gestalt process of speaking from various parts of self and Jungian dream work where each object and player in a dream is given voice.

So here goes for the top two (BTW, the silhouettes were made by cutting around the seated black man, so they are three versions of the same figure).

Card with the arch: we are the ones making the steep climb toward the light. The keepers of the faith. The reporters. The prosecutors. The community activists. Even those glued to the television refusing to let the most recent overwhelming mind bending and egregious acts slide by without notice can be credited with making the ascent. Look how steep the stairs!

Card with black man facing forward: I am the one who sees you and sees everyone and bears witness. I am haloed by history and backed by mountain ranges. Light is my friend. I have huge hands, an unflinching gaze, and more humanity than the average dozen people combined. Nothing you say or do has much to do with me. Nothing, really. There was a time I would’ve run for the hills with so much chaos unfolding, but not now. I see you and I see everyone and I bear witness.

Balsam and lavender

The top sachets are filled with balsam from Maine while the two in the basket are filled with lavender.



Two crib quilts in progress: one fall and one spring. Seasons are so much better than gender for categorizing baby items!

It’s a grey day portending rain. I continue to receive birthday presents, like this adorable elephant (how nice is that?). We’re currently watching the Netflix series, “The Frankenstein Chronicles” which I recommend. Ned Stark, from Game of Thrones, plays the compelling lead. I’m guessing that this show is what “The Alienist” hoped it would be.

I hope you’re having a nice weekend!

PS I read the superseding 25 page indictment of Rick Gates this morning before even getting out of bed. I don’t think Manafort will flip — do you? I just learned that the Dem-Memo has been released, so I’ll be reading that before dinner, which leads me to ask, “What will we do when this drama is over?” It is absolutely and completely riveting.

Florida – Every Ash Wednesday from now til Death

This empathic piece of fiction was written in class this morning, the day following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. For the prompt, we were to select a postcard and I picked the one pictured above. I hope the recording isn’t too slow to load. I use video from my phone because to convert an iPhone audio requires a laborious trip through iTunes and a widget on WordPress which would cost me $13/month (?!!!). This time, I’ve written out the prompt-response as well. Virtually everything written here is made up and the fact that my imagined scene happens in a wintry clime ought to drive home that fact. That I can so easily render a scene like this speaks to the abysmal failure of our government to control guns.

 

Every Ash Wednesday from Now Til Death

Heather’s face made the front page. The ash mark more strike than dot, a face crunched in grief. A lost child. A lost child. Another headline. More bodies to count.

Bodies. Children. The teacher who dies saving a teenager or two. Even the sight, crisis over, of high school students filing out of the building with their hands up crushes the spirit.

This is who we are. This is it. Automatic rifles for everyone! Anyone! A soul-less party paralyzed by the Almighty NRA dollar. Let’s pray.

No really. Let’s pray. The profusion of lilies along the altar and lining the steps up to the altar sweeten the air to a sickening degree. The lovely trumpet shapes, the silky pure white, no defense against the death rot sure to come. To the petals, which will shrivel and brown in decline, to the child in the casket, who will shrivel and brown, and to the priest, and to each and everyone of us sitting there.

The priest comes out without his usual sturdy authority, climbing the lectern in a weary resistance. What shall he preach? That God has ways we know not? That He takes the good ones early? That faith will restore even them that despair.

Tilly and Glenda sit in front of me. They didn’t know Drew very well. I, not at all. The fact that I am separated by four or more degrees might make me feel an intruder were it not for the fact that the wreckage rained down by a hail of automatic bullets hit all of us, hit our entire high school body. While some, like Drew’s poor parents, pay a bigger and everlasting price, not a single parent of a child at the high school and not a single high school student emerged unscathed.

The priest clears his throat. Whimpers can be heard and choked sobs from up front.

“It is easy,” he says, “to have faith when the sun is shining. When the tidings are glad, how smooth the extension of our hands, one to the other. When our tables sag with bounty, it’s no challenge to acknowledge the bounty of Our Lord. But in times of darkness, when every message is soaked in tears or blood or both, that is when we are tested. That is when our faith must rise up and meet God’s mercy.”

I fought his every word, even as I was swept up in the intended goodness. It occurs to me that I cannot pinpoint when I stopped believing in God — or at least, in anything but a very remote Supreme Being, one that governs how molecules spin and bounce but has no message or care for any of us individually. How could believing in a God who lets senseless violence of this repetitive magnitude happen offer comfort?

We grieve for Drew. All the soccer games he will not play, the girls he will not tease or tempt, the glories of the flesh essentially unmet, the challenge of growing up, never to be confronted. Holidays for his family, ever after a nightmare. And, no doubt, there will be two excruciating anniversaries a year — the fixed one, February 14, Valentine’s Day, and the roving one, every Ash Wednesday from now ’til death.

What should Drew’s mother give up for Lent? What a hideous idea! Will she become a mother on the Grief Circuit, trying to effect political change? She might want to look at the blank page of Sandy Hook parents’ results before undertaking such a public and exhausting route.

Some parents will close their doors and lock them from the inside. Others will testify before Congress. Still others will go on as before, but hollowed out, a gutted replica of the life they were leading on Fat Tuesday. None of them will ever be the same.

The upstretched arms. The drape of satin embroidered with the old Catholic symbols. When did Drew last receive Communion, I wonder, and why on earth would it matter? Was it a source of contention in the household — one of many conflicts which will, in replay, seem so utterly inconsequential?

Is there any of us who can love our children so hard and so deeply that at this lily-sickened moment, there are no regrets?

Of course not. And anyone who suggests as much, I guarantee you will not be a parent, or at least, not a parent of teenagers.

By all counts, Drew was a good kid. Sam didn’t know him well — different circles and so on. But it was apparently only the usual and forgivable delinquencies — alcohol at parties (but never when driving), a little reefer now and then, a lot of enthusiasm for the school prank, and the usual amounts of contempt for certain teachers. He would’ve gone to college. Studied engineering or biological data collection. He would’ve fallen in love — perhaps for the second time, I don’t know. He’d have hunted for work, recycled, called Congress, made spaghetti. All the acts of a life gone dark.

“Christ be with you.”

“And also with you.”

I’m too far back to hear the words clearly. Murmurs only. Drew’s mother crosses herself, returns to her pew. Husband waiting for her. A non-believer.

Tilly turns and whispers to me, “It’s almost enough to make me consider going to Mass again.”

I mouth the words, “I know,” but I don’t know. Nothing can immunize against this loss. Nothing can fill the void it cracks open.

I’m surprised how many young people (friends of Drew’s) are receiving Communion. I would’ve thought they’d have fallen away already — the way each generation speeds up the progress of the former. In our generation, you went through the motions until college, where you went to Mass exactly once, never to return. Don’t kids these days refuse sooner? Maybe at the same time their recently Bar Mitzvahed friends stop going to temple?

We file out to crisp air and a pewter sky. People mill about, unsure how to be, unwilling yet to leave the group. But I don’t want to be standing awkwardly by when Drew’s parents emerge, so I head to my car, boot heels clunking on the cleared sidewalk in some sort of reassuring percussion — I’m alive. I’m alive. My sons are alive. Alive.

 

 

 

 

Fog

I woke up at 1:30 this morning still reeling from Maddow, wondering how a single couple — Murdoch and his ex-wife — could do so much damage. He with FoxNews and now she – a Chinese spy, perhaps? Targeting Kushner?

The fog feels fitting.

Today: more revisions and lunch out.

PS Make up brushes are wonderful cleaning tools for sewing machines, too.

PPS I’m going to post pix of “books to read in 2019” tomorrow. As a placeholder. I looked at Goodreads and it wasn’t as bad as remembered but still doesn’t draw me in. So forgive me while I figure this out.

Lament to writing prompt “burial”

These days, I could write a lament or a rant everyday (and some days, every hour). This one was a response to an in-class writing prompt on “things we bury”. At six minutes, it runs a little long (who do I think I am, anyway?). Tomorrow I’ll post the written version.

So just to place this in time. I wrote this four days after the Golden Globes and a few hours before learning about the “shithole countries” remark.

A couple caveats: the business about Oprah running for president is worthy of considered response. In this “Lament” there is merely a tossed off line about that. And though I’m sneering about the black gown business in this piece, I was actually moved and inspired by the solidarity expressed in the gesture.

Footnote: the Western referred to is “Godless“, starring Jeff Daniels and Michelle Dockery. Binge worthy Netflix viewing.