Category Archives: democracy

Body as writing prompt

Writing Prompt: “Throw consciousness to some particular part of the body. Put the whole mind there… what are the reports?

This sounds like a Gestalt exercise, but it comes from an old book entitled, “Power of Will,” by Frank Channing Haddock. 1918.

(How weird to see that the book was published during the Spanish flu).

Here is a part of what I wrote, neck speaking:

Wasn’t it funny that you had a nail in your pocket during your bone scan? The x-ray technician queried, “Are you sure there’s nothing else in your pockets?” And there it was: a three inch nail, left over from a day of hanging mirrors on the wall where you come in. On the wall where you come in now light gathers on various rectangles of glass, a pleasing magic no less potent for being ordinary.

The diagnostics designed to show my crumbling demise partner with a tool for bringing in more light.

The scan sees through shirt and pants and flesh, all the way down to the bone. Look! There we are, the C-3’s and C-4’s, just below your skull. Perhaps a little gratitude is in order. How long we’ve upheld your head — through dance class, Take Back the Night Rallies, and snowstorms and screaming sex and giving birth and closing doors and making soup. . . Everything you can name and lots you can’t name as well.

Crumbling is one way to describe us. Compression: average to moderate. Waiting for severe. Still going, albeit with a crunch.

We could use your kind attention right now and in the right nows that follow. Please baby our nerves, stretch our muscles. Let the phone buzz and the screen stay dark. Take a bath with salts. Scrub your knees and elbows with the salt. Remember that you are an electrical being.

Sunlight is disinfecting, healing, which is why hanging mirrors is never merely ornamental. Find it. Sit in it.

Piggyback prayer. Burn a punk or two. It’s time to go deeper.

Remember how we used to say, “the breath knows how”?

Well, the breath knows how.

May all sentient beings by joyful, etc.

We prepare for darkness — the dust to dust part. Such preparations are not morbid. In fact, they are joyous. How lovely to breathe knowing that one day you will not. We crumble and compress on our way to the grave. Such is the way of all structures, not just skeletons, but also empires and republics.

Did it ever occur to you how much of your agonies arise from wanting, desperately wanting, the Republic to survive?

It might. It might not. Do your calls, your protests and postcards, but forget a return, a preservation, a rekindling or a revolution. Give all those ideas up. This we say to you.

Support

Support can be jerry-rigged. Improvisational.

Look at the care taken to uphold this old, semi-rotted fence post.

The question about what will uphold our institutions is never far from our minds these days. What nail? What piece of twine?

An election? Even one tampered with, not just from within but externally, too?

The level of excitement at the first day of early voting at City Hall here in a suburb of Boston was palpable. No place to park. Seven people handing out ballots. A camera crew out front.

Bernie supporter in my Indivisible group: Bernie is being unfairly treated as unelectable.

Me: Bernie is unfairly being treated as a juggernaut.

Debates tonight. Let’s hope Steyer isn’t the punching bag

I hate to say it, but some days I feel like that fence post.

Big cloth, small glass

In progress, all over the living room: the six panels for First Born’s bed-sized quilt.

Will I finish in time for an upcoming birthday? Probably not. But finishing is the goal.

I keep finding glass from the shattered tumbler — in the dishwasher, on the floor.

I canvassed for Warren yesterday. The NV results were discouraging but here are three ideas to remember (cling to?):

  • Bill Clinton lost IA, NH, and NV;
  • the 75,000 early ballots in NV were cast before the most recent debate; and
  • Warren raised $12MM after that debate.

My last bday celebration took place across town last night with two long-time friends — one a fellow February baby, the other the host and a terrific cook. We’re all getting older. Actually, we’re all terrific cooks, too!

We sat by the fire and talked about all kinds of things, including — ESG-filtered investments, dating apps, grandchildren, Harriet Tubman, the NV caucus, butter beans, and how to survive in a wholly altered America.

“We only have each other. Small, local communities.”

I wonder: what kind of paperwork does one need to live, say, in Montreal?

We swapped inspiring links. I offered up the Future Primitive podcast link about regenerative design and B gave me (another) terrific astrology link as well as this:

Trash to Treasure

So if as Maddow says this is not the threat of dark times but the dark time themselves, it seems incumbent upon all of us to document gratitude and small miracles.

This orchid seems poised to bloom. It’s a kind of miracle if you ask me — especially because I know nothing about orchids or what they need. There’s a sky light, so maybe that?

The orchid was a long ago bday gift from D, who cooked dinner last night. From Georgia. The butter bean expert.

Friendship is a kind of miracle, too, don’t you think? Connections local and, I would add, connections, here. Much gratitude for these. For you.

 

Round and round we go

I was born at dusk: 5:47. Sixty-three seems an impossible number but there you have it! It was a good birthday with ice cream cake, roses, “Little Women,” and calls from both boys.

(If you’re a parent to millennials, you know what a big deal a call is).

A string of grey grey days. I’m back to editing. Back to working on C’s quilt, which I am lap quilting in six pieces. Back to trying to ignore loud construction noise.

Today, the news unsettles me more than usual. Is it because we’ve arrived at that moment when a lawless leader has done so much damage to our institutions (think: the Senate, the DOJ), that he is, for all intents and purposes, a dictator? Nothing to hold him to account.

I worry about the press. I worry about the Freedom of Information Act, especially given how little disclosure is coming by way of the courts. I worry about the election in November. I worry about violence. I worry about how far and wide our petty leader’s retribution will run.

Please don’t tell me how little good worrying does — worry is not lessened by being made wrong for doing it! And, as you know, it’s not ALL I’m doing (though — HA! — I worry that whatever things I manage to do won’t matter enough to counter this tide of corruption).

On the plus side, I read a piece by some pundit opining that whoever the Democratic candidate ends up being matters very little. Turn out is everything. Not the freakin’ swing voters. Turnout. Not the policies. Turnout. That idea takes a little pressure off finding exactly the right (electable) candidate.

The press, the House, and a huge majority are the last places of hope.

Feels an appropriate moment to share this lovely and suitably profane gift from Deb Lacativa. We both know it references not caring about who thinks what about our views. The caring about outcomes, about the future, runs deep.

And then there is this gift from Michelle. I’d sent her my banner from Mo’s project and unexpectedly, she sent me hers. I walk by it many times a day. It cheers me up!

Lastly, thank you so much to all who took the time to read or listen (or both) to an excerpt from my novel. Thank you thank you. Your encouragement means more than I can say!

If you look for it again, don’t be surprised to find it gone. Publishers are weird about what constitutes publication so out of an abundance of caution, I will mark it private at week’s end.

A seed a finale

Collage month final prompt.* The “seed collage” here on the left is not a seed and not a collage either but there you have it. It’s the last page of the sketchbook.

It looks like a peaceful scene, a couple (perhaps the man has retired?) looking out over the ocean. It’s a place of repose, regeneration, and beauty. The couple comes here often in between doing other things and going other places.

So a big thank you to Acey for vibrant and energized leadership through a month of well-timed and created prompts. She made a nest we could all climb in and fly out of repeatedly. There was a lot of excitement, connection with others, and discovery.

I haven’t finished yet, though. You didn’t think I had, did you? Many blank pages remain in my sketchbook and many loosely laid images have yet to be glued. Stay tuned. Below are some of the pages I either glued up yesterday or hadn’t yet photographed.

This week I made some survival decisions: I shall resume a meditation practice. I shall get on my exercise bike frequently. I shall listen to new music (I felt unbearably OLD watching the Grammys this year).

And, as a starter activity, I resumed writing postcards. Right now: to Florida registered Dems to inform them that they can vote by mail. It’s easy, it’s concrete, and it might make a difference.

Go to postcardstovoters to sign up. There’s a little bit of a screening process mostly to do with handwriting and the ability to follow directions, but then it’s easy. I get addresses by texting.

Corrupt-genius just expanded the Muslim ban to six more countries. The first time he pulled this shit, lawyers flooded the airports. Protests broke out all over the country. I took part in a well-attended rally in Copley Square THE VERY NEXT DAY. And today?

Something like shell shock. One friend said she didn’t think she could feel worse than she did on Election Day but does. I get it.

One of the newly banned countries is Nigeria, the most populated country in Africa, aka a “shithole country.”

Given the catastrophic recent events and the worse events sure to follow, how do you plan to take care of yourself? What concrete steps will you be taking to get a Democrat in the WH come fall?

*

Acey’s Collage Month.

See also my Flickr album, SoulCollage, and the tags for SoulCollage and collage here on the blog.

Tribute to Gaia

One of the final prompts for collage month.* Oldie on the left, used elsewhere with Dervishes, and used again as a frame for today’s tribute to Mother Earth on the right.

The other side of this primate pair was too darling not to capture, at least digitally.

Where did such design come from? Such coordinations of cells within the river of time? The elegance of math, the variety of flora… our capacity (thus far) to survive.

Meanwhile I ran out of thread for the crib quilt commission and am glad for the intermission because my hands are not as strong as they used to be. Even using gripper gloves, stippling is a strain.

We are anticipating the GOP’s failure to hold this president accountable, aren’t we? It feels like bracing for a really bad storm. Even though it’s hard to imagine how much more above the law one man can feel, it’s predictable that he will be even more emboldened.

The tweets that are saying, “enjoy the last 36 hours of democracy,” have a ring of truth to them.

And besides his dictatorial tendencies, there is his well-documented dementia. How long do they think we won’t notice? I’m expecting at least one grimace, one jerking motion, and one misfired attempt to say an ordinary word at the SOTU.

What are you expecting?

It’d be nice if the Dems simply didn’t show.

I HAVE NO IDEA WTF WORDPRESS IS DOING. FIRST DELETING COMMENT CAPACITY. NOW COLORED FONTS?!

If this is the beginning of a Saturn Pluto transit over the Capricorn corner of my Grand Cross, I’m seriously gonna have to hunker down.

*

Acey’s Collage Month.

See also my Flickr album, SoulCollage, and the tags for SoulCollage and collage here on the blog.

Opinion fact and doubt – a personal issue

We don’t go out much anymore but did last night. It was lovely. The hosts are terrific cooks (always such a treat!) and another neighbor couple that we enjoy attended. We used to see these people more. There is abiding affection and we really welcomed the chance to catch up.

But here’s the thing. Self-doubt mucks up the works for me.

I rocket between bombast and feeling silenced. I interrupt. I’m curious but impatient. I want to know what people really think but I don’t want it to take forever. I want them to know what I think but sometimes have trouble inserting myself. So I launch grenades. Abbreviate myself to the point of inscrutability.

ADD has a role in this. Irish word drama, too. But self-doubt might be the MOST operative factor.

I want to be believed and failing that, I want to believe myself. At least, when I’m pretty certain of a thing. Instead, I reflexively grant my questioner more authority than I grant myself.

I do excruciating post-mortems. Just ask K. Or, read on.

There I was in bed last night ranting and googling. Googling and ranting. SEE? Roxane Gay DOES live in LA! Of course I know this. I’ve followed her forever on Instagram and am a little star struck, and so why did I question myself? Why?

SEE? It says right there: Ayanna Pressley co-chair of Warren’s campaign. I’ve been carefully following how Warren is trying redress her “lack of receipts” in the black community, so of course I know this, knew it in real time, celebrated it, so why did I question myself.

Soon after the appointment, I took the time to watch a fraught moment of EW’s at an arena in Atlanta and scanned enough black Twitter to get a sense of why it was controversial (Pressley took the mic when black protestors interrupted — EW using a black woman as a shield?!) Seen challenges at how the three co-chairs were depicted in the announcing photo (racial stereotype much?) I mean, we’re talking a granular level of attention here. So why didn’t my assertion carry more weight?

Did it carry weight?

(On the point of close attention, I was the only one at the table who’d listened to EW’s New Year’s Day address and noted with approval, therefore, her use of the term “enslaved” when referring to our first black poet, Phyllis Wheatley. Applauded out loud how artfully EW wove facts about the poet’s life into her remarks. Not at all facile. It’s an inspiring speech not just because of how thoroughly EW seems to be integrating lessons about race, but for everything else she says, too).

What’s with all the doubt?

(Another relevant example: how the #KHive on twitter practically ruined Warren for me. Together with the whole “unelectable” thing, I’ve been in pretty full retreat. Is this realism or doubt?)

Gay and Pressley were the easy issues. Verifiable.

But what about Bernies’s terrible record on guns or his faux “outsider status” and what exactly is black opinion on Kamala’s prosecutorial record?

So yes I misspoke (for effect!?) about sex trafficking and Robert Kraft, but immediately joined in the correction because of course I knew that the questionable trumpian Chinese proprietor no longer owned the place at the time of the incident.

Oh, do you see?

I want to occupy my sit bones and speak from a place of quiet authority. To listen better, too.

To end, let me reference a very upsetting dream from last night (talk about doubt!)

I am being questioned by a black woman about what I have actually done to promote justice or to inform my writing about black characters and slavery. I lamely answer, “I read a lot?” She nods as if to say ‘that’s not nothing,’ but… Another black woman has stolen ALL my sewing needles. I take some of them back. Somewhere on the wall, a quote of mine is posted. It’s old and unevolved and embarrassing. I can’t remember now what it said.