I’m experimenting with micro-writing. I’ll try to do it daily, but we’ll see how it goes…
Thursday, November 24, 2010
The sky is losing it’s light as I write, and pastel bands of yellow and orange have crept into the horizon. The ocean is an odd milky blue and calm. The hills that sweep up from the coast to my house are being slowly overtaken by the shadows of their neighbors and the trees that dot them. No matter whether I forget to write each day or not, the days get shorter, the brilliant sunsets of early winter compensate a bit for the cold, the seasons progress. I write again.
Today is Thanksgiving, and though I’m taken by the idea of marking this as a Day of Atonement for the atrocities committed against indigenous peoples in the Americas, I didn’t have it together to do it. Tomorrow, my family, and some close friends will come, we will eat turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, the whole lot of it; and I will relish in the blessing of being surrounded by people who believe in my success and wellbeing, in my right to be here. I will not take it for granted that such a thing is a given, or that goodwill can atrophy quickly into indifference or hatred if we don’t fortress our hearts with love and more love. I will remember to thank our ancestors, both the ones I am related to by blood, and the ones who have made our country possible, and pray that by keeping love alive in my home, it makes some sort of difference.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
I just left a faculty/staff reception, hosted by our academic Provost. She and her partner have a cat named “Bad.” I asked her partner why “Bad” and he said, totally deadpan, “Because he’s black.” He went on to explain that the cat came to them named, “Notorious,” but that didn’t fit at all, so they settled on “Black.” I’d be horribly offended by this, but the Provost is a critical race theorist among other things, and I was excessively amused by this satirical cat-naming.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
The Republicans took back the House tonight. I’d be more sad, but as a friend reminded me, we weren’t using that Democratic House majority much anyway. Who knows what will happen now, but things just got more complicated. Hearing “Speaker Boehner” on the news tonight, I got that sinking, stomach-churning feeling I get when I see a picture of Bush Jr. That’ll be an adjustment.
This month at church, we’re delving into “Reconciliation.” Yeah, we’ll need that for sure.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
My very first memory is of running, in a white or yellow dress, maybe, barefoot, across the grass between my house and our neighbor’s. I suppose I’d seen my older brothers run the same route countless times: the gentle slope from the edge of our driveway to a tiny little gap where water would flow to the street drains during the rainy season, a small jump across the “stream,” landing on the lawn and fast up a grassy slope to the neighbor’s driveway.
Maybe I’d run and jumped the same path before, but this was the first time I held onto a memory of anything at all. I ran hard, pumping my little three-year old arms, breathing hard and feeling the warm summer air whoosh against my skin, and in the half second or so it took to leap across the gap, I understood the meaning of the word “fly” and felt triumphant upon landing, barely pausing, certainly not noticing that I was inscribing this experience, giving it meaning, depth, solidity in my brain, before running up the slope to meet my brothers and the neighbor kid to find out what fun we’d have next.
My very first memory, ever, was also the first time I became aware of my body. My first memory was of the joy and power of my body.
Monday, October 25, 2010
I imagine a day when I will wake up and love my stomach, get to work on time and feel good about the work I do, not eat too much and ignore all the hundreds of self-critical thoughts that aim to make me feel like crap. In the meantime, snappy replies to bitchy woman inside my brain are required.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
I find some good habits elusive. Or rather, the process of maintaining good habits feels elusive to me. I was on a good roll for about week on writing daily and meditating daily. Then, Norval came for the weekend and I forgot that I had been writing and meditating every day.
If you have seen the movie “Up,” then you understand which characters best represent me. The dogs will be having a perfectly normal conversation with you, then they smell prey, scream “SQUIRREL!” and forget you ever existed as they take off on the scent trail. But I’ve remembered tonight, so I’m engaged again in the conversation with creativity, peace and tranquility, and perhaps the next squirrel won’t be as compelling.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Walking around Oakes today, I expected to see lots of students wearing purple in solidarity with those who have lost their lives in suicide deaths as a result of homophobic and/or transphobic bullying. Running errands at lunch around campus, I was heartened to see that almost every other person was also dressed in purple. I even drove past a construction worker who wore a purple shirt under his coveralls. After work, driving through town to my yoga class, I noticed that all across Santa Cruz, folks got the message: stand for equality, stand for justice, wear purple today. I felt deeply moved and exceedingly proud to be a part of these communities that stood so publically for inclusivity today.
But another part of me, maybe it’s the cynic in me, wishes we’d all wear green one day to stand up for the rights of Palestinians to live on their land, to not be forced out of their homes that are then filled by Israeli families, to be able to work to support their families. Or maybe we’d all wear t-shirts with the slogan “I am not a safe harbor for racism” another day to proclaim our collective commitment to honest and open accounting of the damages resulting from being organized as a race-based society. Perhaps we could all get behind a day when we pin a dollar bill to our shirts to indicate our outrage that it is now legal for unknown billions of dollars from foreign companies and individuals to be used to fund US political campaigns.
But then again, wearing a color or a t-shirt or a symbol on any given day, though a heartfelt gesture of alliance, is only wearing a color or a t-shirt or a symbol. The real work of bringing about progress happens in families and schools, in friendships and state legislatures, in courtrooms and in the streets.
So, yes, I take comfort in purple today, but I also understand that if that’s all I do, I haven’t done right by equality or justice.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I have regular blog reader who has been a consistent, quiet support. I am fairly sure she is unaware of her role in helping me to believe in myself as a writer. She is insanely busy, ridiculously talented, solidly grounded, and funny and silly and kind. She is transparent and real and reminds everyone she knows and leads that it’s ok to be who we are, in all our humanness and transcendance… and, that we can’t stay that way. She is joyful and loving, even in times of struggle. Not only does she read my writing, but she said tonight to me, “YOU are a writer. When you write, it seems to slide out of you like butter. It is clear to me that writing is your purpose in this world and I want to support that in whatever way I can.”
Imagine meeting President Obama. Imagine that when he sees you, a smile breaks across his face and he opens his arms for a hug as you approach. Imagine him telling you that he follows your work and that this work that gives you exquisite joy in life is really good.
It feels like that.
Never doubt the power of believing in someone and their gifts.
Monday, October 18
My magic, high-speed wonder blender broke today. Yes magical. As in it makes the smoothest smoothies, the cheapest tahini, a mind blowingly delicious and velvety cashew cheese, the amazing coating for my famous kale chips, my orgasmic chocolate mousse, tantalizing sauces and dressings, and so many other wonderful food things.
When I told my partner my blender died, he gasped and asked, “Honey, what are you going to do?” in all seriousness and with great concern. It’s balm on a burn to have someone know me well enough to be empathetic to my emotional state after being subject to the wrath of the blender gods, it is.
Remarkably, though, in this day featuring more frustration than is fair for anyone (this being only one of many), I am not flipping out. Perhaps my new, fragile habit of morning and bedtime meditation is having an effect on my propensity to catastrophize such setbacks?
October 17, 2010
The places we travel to through the alchemy of technology and imagination can verge on the epic. In the last few days alone, I found myself walking the streets of Guatemala City as I spoke on the phone with a friend who is there caring for her family. I was also transported to Versailles, a Vietnamese American community in New Orleans while watching a moving and inspiring documentary. Saturday night, I shook my ass all the way to LA and through Mexico with Ozomatli at the Catalyst. While singing with my choir this morning, blending our voices into one, the “real” world faded away to reveal a place of sweet peace, permeated by an unnameable presence, gentle, pure, and loving. On a playdate later with my nieces, I visited an island I once inhabited, the bliss of unspoiled childhood. And just this afternoon a PBS documentary had me riding the flat expanse of terrain in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, surveying a female-led family of clever, love-expressive elephants, as they survived, or didn’t, a three year long draught.
I was in Santa Cruz all weekend, yet I seemed to have traveled through time and space with very little effort on my part. Pretty wild for a weekend that didn’t technically start until 3pm Saturday.
October 15, 2010
The perfect thing for me to write today in my notebook came to me as I was driving home from from some errands earlier this evening. It was witty and introspective. It might have changed your life, or maybe just your perspective, but it’s now safely hidden from my conscious mind, perhaps tucked below my growling stomach and the pressing exhaustion of a long, sleep-minimal week.
My rev has said that we are only responsible for the thoughts that we keep, but right now, I feel responsible for this one that got away.
October 14, 2010
There is something that looks like a cross between a spider, a grasshopper, and a roach trapped under an upturned glass on my kitchen floor. It’s huge and thick and tall and awful. When it’s just a spider, the next step is to slip a piece of paper under the glass, walk the trap out to the backyard and free the leggy thing to a happier, outdoor existence. But this insect’s freakishness scares and fascinates me, so it’s been there almost five hours and I’m starting to feel a little guilty. Whatever it is could die under there, and I will be responsible.
I make such indiscriminate choices about wildlife. I left a cleaning towel out back a couple weeks ago, and each morning it’s in a different place on the porch, a little more threadbare and torn. I watch the raccoon cubs that were born last spring and sometimes hang out near my house come play with the cloth at night. Some nights they’ll crash into my sliding glass door and I smile, gratified that I’ve given kid-like joy to these soon-to-be menacing juvenile rodents that patrol the trash bins with unnecessary ferocity.
The spider-grasshopper-roach mutant in my kitchen deserves the same freedom to play in the fall-burnished grass of my yard, and I cannot, in good conscience, hold it prisoner any longer. So off I go to still my nervous heart an set about to free my curious specimen.
At some point, we have to face every scary thing, or else, leave it under the glass and shudder with fear each time we pass by it.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Crystall, a student who works in my office and who I adore perhaps too much, raised her voice in song today. She sang a pop song into a phone, to a recently departed co-worker who is in grad school in Iowa. Her voice is amazing, one of the finest I know, and every time she sings I tear up. The notes seem to tumble from her perfectly formed and tuned and on pitch. I imagined Valerie listening in her landlocked state, so far away from her former coastal California home, smiling and feeling loved.
I hope that Crystall understands what a blessing she is to those of us who know her, how none of our world’s would be same without her in it.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
A judge in California ruled yesterday that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the military policy that has purged thousands of gay and lesbian service members from our armed forces, is unconstitutional. It’s expected that the Department of Justice will appeal the ruling, despite the fact that both Obama and Defense Secretary Gates are in support of ending the policy. There may be lofty, academic reasons to explain this blatant act of injustice being supported by the DOJ, but it all seems so pointless, when everyone in power agrees the policy is doomed.
Once again, I hear my Rev, “The question is not wether or not progress will happen, it’s how expensive is the opposition going to make the funeral be?”
Tuesday, Ocotber 5, 2010
A young grey-brown deer buck with medium length antlers hobbled around on the lawn outside my office this afternoon. It was his left leg that he was nursing as he moved gingerly around a small area of the lawn, his black, twitching nose leading the search for the best tufts of eating grass. I admired his no-nonsense attitude. It was as if he were declaring, “Who cares if I have a bum leg, a man’s gotta eat.” But I also felt helpless and wished I could call a wild animal doctor.
I felt a little like the deer this week. Needing to operate as if everything was just fine, but hobbling along a little injured and seeking the best anyway.