Wednesday, October 24, 2007

sleep, sorry

I have been walking around in a fog, a complete zombie. Turns out I have apnea. Now I'm sleeping with a machine and it's better. I had four straight hours Saturday night. I'm making up the deficit, but I am still draaaaggggggging. I've missed so many of you, your posts, your thoughts, your brilliant words. Forgive the laxity of my attention. I am dragging, befogged, sleeping through the days. See you soon.



It was 7 a.m. when I boarded the train for Houston. Nervous, heartbroken, physically wounded by the man who beat me the night before. It was my last chance to make a break from him. At almost 17 and newly unpregnant less than a year post-Roe, I knew there had to be more to life than this small town, that violent man, and dope. I was addicted to two of the three, but most afraid that the third would be my downfall. Small town life. Unbearable.

I am an outsider, always have been. No matter the setting, my internal gears are set in such a way that I am out of step and not in synch with the majority of you. These days, I relish those differences: nonconformity, independence, attitude, anger over injustice, the artist living in my soul and driving my perception of the world.

I've always been able to don the insider's cloak ~ I learned it all at my mother's knee ~ and I can pass. But it is superficial, a shell sufficient to deceive the majority (because most people don't really want to take the time to see the soul of another) and that's fine.

Shells, the superficial, these are the trappings of too much of life these days. They let us all move among one another without really connecting, and that's fine too. I don't want to connect with most people. If you live at the mall, if you have a photo of the Bush family on your keychain, I don't want you in my life.

My escape train crossed the border of Oklahoma, headed to Fort Worth. The club car opened as we crossed the Red River. The train trips of my childhood and young adult years were defined by the time I spent in the club car. Too young to drink, but just the right age to banter with the always smooth and sophisticated men who tended bar, I felt in that place that I could be anything I wanted to be.

Funny how something so mundane could have such an impact. The club car on the Amtrak rolling through Texas made me think that I truly could escape, could move beyond the limitations of my parents' expectations, of the destructive relationship that tortured my spirit and bruised my body, of my addiction to drugs, of my own conviction that I would never have any other kind of life.

The bar man on this trip was one of those visionaries, the ones who see beyond the shell. "What's wrong, baby, what's bothering you?" There were just the two of us and he was so kind and so I told him. We talked. He talked. He talked about his life, about how a man treats a woman. He talked about his time in the big cities around the country, about nightclubs and an other kind of life. An other kind of life. Not the life I had, not small town tied up constricted wounded dope and man addicted hopeless life like I had at almost 17. Another kind. Different. One where outsiders would find connection, community with others who wanted something different, something free.

I left the club car after dark. We were passing through a small town north of Houston. Standing in the passageway between the cars, leaning against the metal door, the rough-textured steel pressed against my thighs and grounded me. It was cool and the wind in my hair felt fresh and the scent of spring lifted me, as did the brilliant moon overhead. We rocked through the intersection of main street, moving slowly. Cars were stopped, backed up. Horns were honking. There were people on the sidewalks, neon signs lighting the way to Cocktails and Pool and I thought not for me, not this kind of place, this kind of life. I will escape and my life will be different, better. It will be good. A promise and a prayer for escape. A promise kept, a prayer answered.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

what the fuck?

In this frightening world, where a woman is a serious contender for the White House, Playskool offers a sweeter world, a better one, sort of a right wing fundamentalist's 1955 wet dream world where "Dreams Have Room to Grow!" Your very own Rose Petal Cottage. For little girls only, because "I Love When My Laundry Gets So Clean! Taking Care of my Home is a Dream, Dream, Dream!" By God, let's train up this next generation right. These uppity twats are getting completely out of hand. Let's put them right back where they belong: at home, doing the laundry, making muffins, what fucking bullshit.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

whatcha reading?

I am in the middle of The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan, thanks to a recommendation via email from Mark or Rodger or Tater or a phone chat with TedBear (alas, no blog).

It's a history of the worst ecological disaster in this country, the transformation of the prairie grass sod of the high plains into wheat farms. It is particularly moving to read this account because my father, born in 1917, survived that time on a wheat farm 20 miles outside of Dodge City, Kansas.

From childhood, Daddy has told us about April 14, 1935, a beautiful day by every account I've ever heard and confirmed by the author's interviews with others. He and his cousins left church that Palm Sunday to play baseball. It was the first clear day anyone could remember, it was beautiful, and they thought the worst might be over.

The dust storm began in the Dakotas, sweeping down through Nebraska, 65 mile per hour winds pushing a menacing, enormous roiling black cloud, darker than anything seen before. It was Black Sunday, and the way my father tells it, they thought the world was ending.

The sky turned black and the air was thick with finest dust, so heavy with it that headlights made not a dent and the only break in the darkness came from the sparks of static electricity. My father and his cousins headed for home in an old Model T, Daddy standing on the running board to shout directions to my Uncle Bill, who was driving. When they found their way back to the farm, Bill and my father found their dad sitting at the kitchen table, covered in fine silt, reading his Bible. He, too, thought the world was ending on that terrible day.

The book delves into the roots of this disaster: greed, financial mismanagement, speculation, theft, manipulation of folks wanting to make a life for themselves, farming practices that should never have been implemented on the plains. The banks were going broke, taking the savings of small farmers with them. Wall Street was a disaster, and piles of the most abundant wheat crop ever harvested lay rotting in the railyards. It is an astonishing and cautionary tale in this time of rampant greed, speculation, and disregard for the environment.

This afternoon, I met my folks half way between Tulsa and their little city and I read to my father some of the passages from The Worst Hard Time. At 89, seventy one years after Black Sunday, his eyes filled with tears as he listened to the words. His voice shook when he described his feelings from that day, the experiences of his family ~ my family ~ living through that wretched time.

It seems to me that the best books create a kind of resonance, a perfect pitch of identification, understanding, empathy. This book increased my understanding of a man I've known all my life, and the passages I read to him honored his experience and allowed him to again express feelings he has held inside for seventy one years.

So what are you reading? Planning to read? What? Tell me. I'll add them to my list. To Mark, Rodger, Tater and/or TedBear (and I do think it was you, cupcake, because it seems like I'm hearing that discussion), thanks sweetie(s). This one is a keeper.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

more reason to never get old

Monday, October 08, 2007

i made mayonnaise

I am rebelling against Big Food and so I made mayonnaise. It was incredibly easy: one egg, one tablespoon of lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon of dry mustard, then 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1/4 cup of flax seed oil drizzled slowly into the blender. I felt like an alchemist, turning those mundane ingredients into a light and fluffy dream of fresh mayonnaise for an egg salad I was making. And it was surprisingly simple and fast and the results were superior by half to even the best supermarket mayo.

I've been making food at home a lot lately: walnut and pumpkin seed encrusted chicken, butternut squash and apple soup, a chicken curry salad, roasted turnips, beets, carrots, a beef/spinach/onion scramble, lots of salads with exotic greens and just enough walnut and olive oil to hold things together.

All of this fresh, healthy food is making me feel better, and the process of preparing it is taking my focus from the hopeless political state of our country to the simple act of cooking. I am living in the moment when I'm chopping onions, lest I lose a finger. And taking the time to saute garlic and spinach together, watching the leaves turn bright green while the aroma of garlic fills the kitchen, it's divine, really.

Cooking is something I let slide much of the time. Too much trouble, too quick to run out for something, too easy to slip into my favorite bad habit of a sandwich and whatever. I come from a long line of sandwich addicts: if you can slap it between bread, we're on it, but talking to my sisters, I'm recognizing that I do not come from a long line of vegetable addicts.

My father window dressed his own eating habits for our benefit: he ate vegetables but, aside from the manly two (corn, green beans), he hated them. At 89, he eats as much chocolate as he can and avoids anything tinged with green. Carry on, Daddy.

But my sisters, criminy, what a picky pair! The oldest sister called this morning to gloat about the fact that she likes zucchini now. And the other one managed to eat an entire bowl of my butternut soup, pronouncing it tasty enough to repeat. First veggies they've consumed in ages. Amazing.

I have always loved vegetables, I just don't take the time to cook them. And so I am and it feels wonderful and it's such a simple act in such desperate times that it feels right. I am cooking vegetables and the occasional roast chicken or beef, and I will make mayonnaise as the need for it arises. It's simple and basic and it's just what I need right now. Hope you are cooking, too.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

do something today for Burma

Go here and sign this now if you care about the disaster in Burma. Even if you sort of care or are too numb by other world disasters, please take a minute to sign the petition HERE at and tell your friends.

Brion from New Zealand wrote to me about this and provided the link to Avaaz and the opportunity for action. Thank you, Brion. Doing something is better than doing nothing and one of the awful things about this whole ugly mess is feeling so helpless while our world governments could help, but won't.

If you have a blog or an email list, please pass it on. Sometime soon (I hope), when this nightmare in Burma hasn't got me so distressed, I will tell you all the so-funny-I-wet myself story Brion told me via email. It was the best laugh I've had in months and months. Sign. Please.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

monks massacred, thousands dead

My heart is broken. The heartache is fueled by the memory of the monks' statement when they began this effort in Myanmar. They believed they would be safe and could march for the people, because their country had such respect for them.

A military intelligence officer:

I decided to desert when I was ordered to raid two monasteries and force several hundred monks on to trucks.

They were to be killed and their bodies dumped deep inside the jungle. I refused to participate in this," he said.

Dissidents hiding along the Burma border said thousands of monks had been locked up and were being beaten inside blood-stained temples.

The International Herald Tribune blames India for a disgraceful failure to act. India responds by saying it is an "internal matter," noting that India has a good [business] relationship with the military junta in Burma. The Canadian Globe & Mail reports fewer deaths, but notes that there is little good information coming out of Burma:

Shari Villarosa, the top U.S. diplomat in Myanmar, noted her staff had visited up to 15 monasteries around Rangoon and every single one was empty.

She put the number of arrested demonstrators, monks and civilians in the thousands.

"I know the monks are not in their monasteries," she said. "Where are they? How many are dead? How many are arrested?"

The monks' strategy seems to be based on a faith that the world will take action against the regime that showed its brutality in the crackdown last week. But early signs suggest that the junta will escape any serious consequences from key neighbouring states.

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