Friday, November 27, 2015

REGARDING INTENTIONS

It's good to have good intentions. Think about an intention. By definition, you think about something and you make a plan re that thing: it can be an activity, an attribute about yourself, a perpetual way you do one thing in your life [that's a habit]. You can have an intention about anything. An intention is like a game plan. It is something/anything you decide at a certain point in time.

OK, now think about the passage of time. That phenomenon is like a video because, by definition, it involves TIME. There is no way you can capture it in a photograph.

Now go back to the word "intention". The word "intention" is a photographic word. I had an intention at a certain point in time.

And then I acted, ostensibly on my intentions, over time.

OK. Let's stop and examine the last phrase. The phrase is "over time". This phrase is pretty easy to identify as a "video" phrase.

So, a video word or phrase is anything that you can't see in a single photograph. It requires either Mamaw's 8mm projector and film, or Netflix and your TV and remote control. AND video phrases all entail the passing of TIME.

Like a resolution, you can make a good intention on New Year's Night before the clock hits 12:01 am. But to find out if you are carrying out your intention, you need a Netflix film crew for, say, at least 30 days, and then you need to steal their complete, nicely edited film, and of course, you need your TV and remote control. (And you probably want a private viewing room, because who wants for anyone else to see them fall off the wagon of their "good intention".)

Here is an example. The person in this example talks in quotes. GOD [or whoever] doesn't need quotes to get the point across.

"I INTENDED to go for 30 days without eating a whole pie on any single day, and that thing that happened on day 12 where I ate 2 blueberry pies and a pecan pie...well, there is a perfectly good explanation for day 12. So, I'd say my good intention got me through the month without a hiccup."

REALLY.  REALLY?  You have an EXPLANATION for failing to adhere to your good intention, so you conclude that you DID adhere to your good intention?

Un uh. Nope. Not even approximately.

"WELL, try this explanation...My intention was really moral, courageous, and full of self-denial. I tried to live through one day after the next for 30 days without eating a whole pie on any one of those 30 days. That should count for something."

OK, what would you like it to count for?

"I'd like it to count for the whole thing."

REALLY.  REALLY?  You have an EXCUSE for failing to adhere to your good intention, so you conclude that you DID adhere to your good intention?

Un uh. Nope. Not even in horseshoes.

"Well, what good is having a good intention, if I mess up the tiniest little bit, and then my good intention isn't good for anything?"

It's funny you should ask me that!

"You don't seem to be laughing...I don't even see a smile anywhere near you."

Is that blueberry pie or perception I'm sniffing?...Oh sorry. The writer of this story promised gentility.

So now I have to preach a little. If I get ahead of you, it's because I love this doctrine. Please call me back for explanations when I go too fast.

The thing is, an intention is the same as an architect's plan. It's an excellent accessory to action, but to be of any value, it must be adhered to every single minute of every single day, no exceptions. It must become a way of life. [What good is a house plan if the architect forgets he drew it up?]

In other words, the intention must transform itself from an idea of what is good, or moral, or whatever you value it to be, into your actions themselves. It must become YOU yourself. You must come to know your intentions as well as you know your actions.

Of course, you will not always act in accordance with your intentions. No one is perfect!

[Except, of course, MY son.....Oh, sorry, another doctrine.]

[You might want to do the last couple paragraphs...No one is perfect, etc...]

BUT when you have fully learned your intentions to the extent that you have incorporated them into your very SELF [read that phrase again: simple words, VERY difficult to do]...

you will KNOW at the very moment you have violated your intention BECAUSE YOU HAVE VIOLATED YOURSELF. [Some people call this sinning against yourself.].

This is as great a violation as violating GOD (If I do say so MYSELF).

When you KNOW you have violated yourself, you know IMMEDIATELY that there is nothing more important in the universe than for you to right this wrong WITHIN YOURSELF.

It is very important to understand that this activity, although it may have ultimately harmed another person, is something you must deal with WITHIN YOURSELF.  IT IS BETWEEN YOU AND THE UNIVERSE.

Think about it: You originally made your good intention as a pact between you and the Universe. That is precisely where you need to come back to, to understand how you violated your intention, so that you can again hold up your intention as sacred, the way you did before.

(It goes without saying that you would never have set this particular intention as your own if it were not sacred to you.)

What I am talking about here is simply tending day to day to your own sacred oaths before the Universe.This is definitely not the stuff of photographs you took years ago. It is an activity that you do in the video of your life everyday.

If you seriously and for-real tend to this internal housekeeping ALL THE TIME, you will find that making amends to the persons you have accidentally hurt, by way of sinning against yourself, is actually a joyous process, like watching the lights in your life turn themselves on to illuminate your path again.

So you see, my beloved, it is not the path to hell that is paved with good intentions.

It is the path to Heaven on Earth that is flowered with meaningful intentions well cared for and never for an instant neglected. This is the meaning of a life wherein conscious and unconscious intentions become one. This is the meaning of the truly examined life.

And the writer said, thus ends the story.  

Amen.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

GENE

The churches in Hamburg are the identifying marks that tell you where you are. So does the train station. What happens inside these places tells you who you are. The sharing of dark rye with sweet butter and bitter coffee with a young airman with us on the night train to Copenhagen. I was 18 and this boy had thick Italian hair, cloud lips, and exotic cigarette breath. The butterflies in my stomach I wouldn't understand until years later were the exquisite sense that neither of us had any perception on that trip devoid of the other. We went to Tivoli Gardens. We caused the whole place to light up and sparkle for 48 hours. It was understood in the kingdom of Tivoli that Gene was the Prince of the Realm and I was his Princess. The night train back to Mannheim gradually gave leave to the subjects of our Realm, our streamers withered and ran soggy, but a tiny sparkle remained in the cool Monday light of the southern German station. I took Gene on with me that summer, to England, Wales, and France. I took him straight on into my college experience, then, medical education. He has remained forever with me, through marriage, motherhood, a career, divorce, illness, separations, a tangible remembrance that, during even the most sordid, unlivable moments of my life, the hope of pure love burns as a candle that only the death of me can kill.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

When Retirement Is Suddenly About Nothing "Re-anything", And Is Excurciatingly and Forever Exhausting

My father, my guide in this world to all things beyond my cozy home, died suddenly and dreadfully in 2009. Somehow I was with him through his last hours and minutes, as we had been together through the hours and days that comprised the months of our 59 years together of his total 87 years on this earth. I wrote his obituary through eyes that had danced to his Piper's song and laughed to his Irish brogue; I knew him as well as anyone on Earth (or would have wagered as much). I would have wagered the same amount that he adored me as much as any human being on the planet...we trusted each other just that much. And truth to the face of it, I trust him in my life every bit as much to this very moment.
Along the way of his life, he crafted an estate for his adored, his family, the children he loved and his much loved if occasionally mot-well-understood wife of 65 years. He honed that estate into as perfect shape as possible, without much input from her, although he craved it, and in the end, there was no time to put final touches on the planning together, mostly (and by her own admission) because she had no wish to.

One hot July day he was gone. Like that. Nothing to say about it, gone. Find your breath to catch it, gone. I'd dare you to find other words for it, but they're none, gone. Yesterday so much here...gone. HOW he suffered for one day,...gone.

A day after that, a chapter opened in my family's life that could not have been surmised by the angels...by the guardians of the underworld. A time replete with logical events flung inside out and reason cast from the proper form of all thought process. It started out insidiously enough, just ever so slightly off the track of natural reason as to come out missed the other end by any but the most attentive listener, who might, themselves, be thought a smidgeon paranoid. But gradually, and ever so seemingly innocently, our Mother dropped in conversation tiny clues regarding power gained or power sought, and especially the slights she perceived of loyalty not acknowledged. 

She was quite flummoxed, and not a little displeased, that Brother had not sought her advice upon his decision to marry again (at age 69), and therein may have been what later looked very much like prejudice against his bride. Who can say? She began by turns to disparage Sister to Myself, and Myself to Sister, only eventually to learn that Sister and Myself shared her musings and questioned her about them, rather than turn upon each other with these small pieces of tender that could so easily have ignited the gargantuan flames of splitting.

As time went on, Mother became more and more secretive, especially as she sensed the particular area of her children's concerns (all her children having mounting financial difficulties). She appeared increasingly determined to keep from her children any knowledge of the nature of the estate or of its divisions. She increasingly spoke of the estate as "hers", a state of ownership which seemed altogether misplaced to her children, given her entire lack of participation in its 65-year accumulation and precise division during her shared tenancy over it in union with her husband. A kind of heretofore unknown greediness shown in her voice when discussing said estate; simultaneously, rebukes regarding her children's greediness began to come out of her with regularity when the estate was mentioned. This was new. Was this projection?

Apparently Mother's dis-ease with all of this reached an exceptional place of no-action, except the action of retreat into isolation of every kind from her children. In this secreted state, feeling it necessary to protect herself from some element of her children so dangerous that she had no word for it and no other choice, she called together outside advisors whom she knew much less well and with whom she felt safe. She and they made some kind of changes to the will that she and her husband had long age officiated together. These changes she felt no need to tell her children: 1. the nature of; or 2. that they had been made at all. 

The lack of communication regarding these acts (that her children suppose her to have taken) have led to a break in communication and in trust. A break by a Mother who no longer has trust in her children, who no longer has regard for her children. A break by a Mother who will say she loves her children, but without trust or regard for her now elderly children, how do they interpret what her "love" means?

Thus stands the deadlock in communications between a mother, who apparently lost any and all trust in her children, and children who no longer feel trusted by nor do they trust in their mother to have their best interests as the beneficiaries of their father's will as her first interest.


Now, what had for a moment in time been looked to as a chapter of new acquaintance between Mother and three children, has become, by stages, an eon of dread waiting. 

Such are the sins of all of us, who had dared hope for a moment that we were not lost.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Who Thought Up This Stuff?: New Best Selling Country Song

Who Thought Up This Stuff?: New Best Selling Country Song

New Best Selling Country Song

"I'd have you all up in my head...
             if only I could"

     It's no good multitasking
     When I ate dementia for breakfast...
     I don't know what I'm doing 
     [Syncopate: One and] times fourrrrrr.............

Thursday, October 9, 2014

SOMETIMES IT TAKES HALF A NATION

In the opening paragraphs of the decision rendered tonight by The UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS CORPUS CHRISTI DIVISION:

"The Court holds that SB 14 creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote...The Court further holds that
SB 14 constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax."

Texas remains a member in good standing and of reasonable integrity, of these honorable United States of America. But not without a little help from our friends.

Thank you.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Lords of Discipline, by Pat Conroy

The Lords of DisciplineThe Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I've been reading Conroy for nearly as long as he's been writing. I (unconsciously) stayed away from this book for the reasons that I identify closely with the confessional, humorous style of Conroy, I identify (as do so very many readers) with the plain speak with which he describes the tragedy of victimization, and because I spent a cruelly lonely year at Randolph-Macon Women's College while a dear friend of mine attended VMI.

Now in my 60's, I have not forgotten the particular strain of savagery that preys on the youthful nor the uniquely naive quality of grief that steals the dreams from the young. But I have the perspective of decades' worth of joys and anguish in which to temper my own memories and my reading  of Conroy's writing about the same period in his life.

Yet again, I found this book to be another Conroy masterpiece. But this time, I found not one book, written in one voice, as I am used to, but several pieces of writing which merged together, almost as if interrelated short stories converging to form a perfect whole. In the case of this particular subject matter, this approach of using--I shall call it different "voices"--although the effect is not quite as strong as that, works well from the aspect of content as well as process.

With regard to content, Conroy has a wide variety of subject matter to convey. There is the entire plebe system and cadre system, as well as the Whole Man theory (which, is actually unique in ways to the two state-sponsored military schools more so than to the US military academies, a concept  known basically only to people familiar with both). Then there is the fleshing out of the cadets' stories, including a break in the description of their senior year to go back through a very harrying plebe year. In contrast to all this, Conroy painstakingly describes the beauty he finds (ironically) everywhere around the "Academy of Horrors" in beautiful [or is it really beautiful?] Charleston. Accompanying this story is the story of how Will came to appreciate that beauty, through his relaxed and casual relationship with Adelaide. Last, there is the isolated story of Will's convoluted relationship with Annie Kate.

Each of these stories is given its own lovingly crafted, unhurried time. There seems to be a beat, just the shortest pause,  a minor change in tone as we go back and forth from one to the other.

The thread of continuity in this book is Will's running discourse on himself: never quiet, never sure, never complimentary. always confused. BUT...occasionally gifting us something true, something as real as the cold concrete floors of the barracks. Something we had best remember. Something we had best figure out. Conroy is not writing a mystery novel here. He does not want this to be any harder on his reader than necessary.

In spite of his care, he dedicates himself completely and utterly to the central truth of this piece of writing, which is what makes all of it, every part of it work together, and in the aftermath, upon reflection, just plain work.

That central truth is that a boy, even a bright, conscientious, nearly grown boy, is not in a position yet to understand, or to figure out, that absolutely nothing in his world is as it seems. And worse, that what seems naturally beautiful is, indeed, sinfully contrived.
Conroy literally takes us (with those few caveats I mentioned) on the entire ride with him, as if Will had written his memoires within weeks of leaving the Institute.

The result is masterful. When you read this book, you will be frightened, but know you are in hands that care painfully for the exquisite exactness of the English language and for the exquisite exactness with which he conveys his meaning to his reader.


View all my reviews

Monday, May 12, 2014

T minus zero

Out of waiting time...Time to put political ideas into words and actions.
"Serendipity is a force to be reckoned with."
                                                T. Hughes
Just at the very time I am feeling generally useless in the world, I am browsing twitter and come across the only tweets that have got my pulse out of first gear in years.
Here's a group of people conversing about a progressive political movement in...of all places...Red State Texas!
Can this be real? Am I really not the only person in Texas who aspires to:
1) non-rigged elections;
2) health laws determined by the women they govern,  instead of [old church-going, hypocritical, wife cheating (what made me say that?!)] white men;
3) a greater interest in three month old babies than in 12 hour old fetuses;
4) a nod at the pleas of Jesus and other sages that we take good care of our unfortunates, our downtrodden,  those who but for the grace of God are my own family?
No! I am not the only one!
Maybe there isn't a throng of me's
in Grayson County, but Collin, Dallas, Cooke Counties are represented among my like minded, unabashed speakers and doers.
I am taking hope, after five silent years home from Denver, afraid to voice an opinion among my red-headed facebook friends, who long ago derided me into humiliated silence amidst their right wing taunts of all things Obama [God be gracious to Birthers, even as they gloat in their ignorance].
In a word, I am excited! There is a whole community of souls who want what I want for our potentially plentiful, gregariously gracious great state of Texas: decency and fair play for all our citizens; justice delivered with the proper dollop of mercy, especially for those who have traditionally been denied either mercy or justice; and great efforts to restore and sustain economic growth for the entire population.
What had been missing in my formula for achieving these goals was "n>1". Silly me for not realizing sooner that "n = a gathering of already committed souls who could always use 'n' more".
Therefore, Uniteblue of Texas, let me introduce myself. How can I be of service?
                                                   Tracy

Saturday, July 27, 2013

SURVIVOR: guilt?

Two weeks ago yesterday they told me my friend was dead.  Like that.  No preparatory remarks.  No cushion.  No landing zone.  She was dead.  

Not passed away.  Not gone.  Not having left us.

Becky died.

We'd known she was terminally ill for two years.  We'd had scares before.  But we'd always been kept at arm's length from the reality of her cancer.  She didn't want to see anybody; that's what we were told.  I was closest to her age.  Maybe she didn't want to see me.  I never knew.

I wrote three letters to her over the two years.  Not much.  But they were intimate letters.  I drew on every shared experience I could remember to bridge the gap between us, guessing all the way at what she might find too trivial, too sentimental.  I ended up deciding better she should laugh at me than that I risk not letting her know that, after all of it, I loved her and had her centered in my spiritual discourse with the universe, things I would have appreciated knowing from a lifelong friend.  From someone who did not take the gifts of life lightly.  

As it turned out, Becky rebuffed my grieving for her.  Her mother rebuffed my grieving for her. Norma denied me a place at the private funeral.  I ended up feeling that my sorrow wasn't good enough for her little girl.  I didn't measure up, and I don't know why.  

I have taken Norma Jo's rejection very personally.  

I feel like a ghost traveling the mists with Scrooge, carrying my agonized grieving groans like so many anchors shackled by heavy chains to my feet.  I can do nothing but lurch forward at every step with the renewed knowledge that she is not here.  She is nowhere in the world of shadow and light which I inhabit and have always inhabited, the world of dread and shame and guilt over things done and things imagined.

She is in a place--or not-place--that I cannot begin to imagine.  She is--or she isn't.  I have no power to understand her circumstance .  I am completely cut off from knowing what, who, or where she is.  And so shall the situation remain until I close my eyes and realize that I have taken my last breath.  Will I be panicked, or will I be relieved?  Will my experience by identical to hers?  Is all human experience of death identical?  Or is every separate experience unique? 

What if the experience of crossing over really is as much worse than life as  the experience of crossing over into life is worse than living in the womb?  Why do we all fill ourselves with pleasant fantasies that the other side is a lovely existence and not an existence of suffering worse by powers of ten than anything knowable as human beings?  Because we would spend lives drenched in dread, soaked in angst, simply mortified, to the degree that nothing positive in this world would ever be accomplished.  

So.  My friend is dead.  I wonder where she is tonight.  I hope she is in no pain.  

I do not want to die only to learn that I was, in fact, guilty for having lived on without her.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Story of a Special Little Self: The Story of Me...and You


OK, so life is no easy business for anybody.  But I’m going to stake my claim right up front and say that children who have it extra tough are very susceptible to becoming adults who have it tougher than most folks. 

Allow me some room to explicate…I am not speaking of DSM Axis I diagnoses (anxiety spectrum disorders, depressive spectrum disorders) but of children who spend most of their days [and nights] from the age of “Hello, World” to “I’m finally outa there” waiting for (what they dread, and it will happen), or hoping for (what never happens, even though they believe with all their hearts), or wondering why (he doesn’t like me, she doesn’t notice me, I’m so bad, [there are a million of these]). 
These are the children who, from the age of Hello, World to the age of I’m Finally Outa There, never ever feel:
1      Safe
       Loved
       Able to trust
       Able to be trusted
       Whole

And chances are, they are never going to feel any of that, except possibly in direct relationship to the intensity of a given relationship, but not in and of their own beings.  The self that connects in one dimension with the cosmic all (Paul Tillich’s “The Ground of Our Being”) and in the other dimension with the particulars of persons and pets and machines and all the crazy stuff of life, with the influences and intrusions and need for boundaries that come with it…that self requires a certain amount of TLC as it negotiates its way through the first very overwhelming years of life.  That little self desperately needs a tender grown-up hand to hold, just to know he or she is not alone in the world. 

 That little self is emotionally so much more wise than the grown-ups give him credit for: he is perfectly aware when he is in the company of a person who is with him, tending to him, cheering him on, and available for him to fall into.  And he knows in a flash when he is with a poser.  Little selves can smell the difference between people who really want to be with them and people who pretend to want to be with them…can smell it at a thousand paces.  

Amazingly, they have a unique capacity to forgive and forgive and forgive and forgive…until they don’t.  Then beware!...they never forget.  They never trust again.  They are lost…potentially forever, unless there is just that one somebody, somewhere in the background, awaiting a chance to bestow the affectionate, honest relationship that Little Self thought he would never have. That one grown-up can make all the difference in a little life.  We hear about that grown-up all the time: most often it is Grandma, sometimes Grandpa, or another relative or neighbor friend. 

Even where that substitute grown-up has given the Little Self enough to get by, there may not have been enough consistency to allow for continual growth of the Self, dare I say Soul.  What emerges out the other end of adolescence is a kind of desiccated Self, not a full, rich, ripe Self ready to take on the world in her 20’s, hiccoughs, blunders, and all.  But a fragile, wall flower Self who dares not venture too far from whatever beacon of safety she can call her own, not sure at all why she is so afraid, never guessing she is afraid of what she herself might do, given that she has never felt the sheer gumption to do anything at all.  

And so she waits.

And waits…until her mother dies and cannot any longer see the real her.  (What a lovely her she is.  But her fearful mother would be so panicked, she would suffer miserably.  The girl could not allow that to happen.  So she waits.) 

She waits with worry the whole time about what the people think, just as her mother taught her to.  Don’t be fat, don’t act lowbrow, don’t be too sexy, don’t show off, don’t this, don’t that, just don’t.  Be a lady.  Take the blame.  Always take the blame…especially to protect your man’s pride.  He can’t cope with his massive pride by himself.  You must do that for him.  And never injure him by letting him know you have rescued him.  Ergo: do whatever he tells you.  Never Get Angry…because…[See above].  Also, it is one of the Ten Commandments:  Wives, Do not be angry with your husbands, for they are men, and men are always right.  For they are too weak to cope with their masculine pride; they cannot admit they were wrong.  Whereas you have no pride:  you can admit you were wrong when you were not wrong.  To you it is nothing.  You are nothing. 


If I’m going to come out of this prison, I’m going to have to do it myself, one step at a time. 
If I’m going to come out of this prison, I’m going to have to do it myself, one step at a time. 
If I’m going to come out of this prison, I’m going to have to do it myself, one step at a time. 

I am not nothing.

If I’m going to come out of this prison, I’m going to have to do it myself, one step at a time. 

I am a woman.  I am not nothing.

If I’m going to come out of this prison, I’m going to have to do it myself, one step at a time. 

I am a woman.  I am not nothing.  I am a woman and I have value.

If I’m going to come out of this prison, I’m going to have to do it myself, one step at a time. 


I am a woman.  I am not nothing.  I am a woman and I have value in my thoughts and ideas.

If I’m going to come out of this prison, I’m going to have to do it myself, one step at a time. 

I am a Little Self living in the body of a big self.  I am breaking out of this prison with a plastic knife.  It may take the rest of my life.

I can do this.




Tuesday, September 4, 2012

THE (IMPONDERABLY IDIODIC, EVEN EMBARRASINGLY STUPID) GREAT AMERICAN AMNESIA


The nation pauses for a weekend in the center of Hurricane Political National Conventions.  The general consensus seems to be that the Republicans made a less than premium showing of themselves.  According to the Sunday morning pundits, highlights of the affair were the efforts of Mrs. Romney, Mr. Eastwood (with props), Mr. Ryan, and Mr…..wait, go back! Mr. Ryan?  Paul Ryan? The same Rep. Paul Ryan whose intellectual prowess had brought that quality to the Republican ticket that we, in century past, so blithely referred to as gravitas?


Yes, I heard comments to the effect that national conventions don’t seem to have to hold hard with the truth much anymore.  Comments from nationally known television journalists trivializing the fact that Congressman Ryan allowed his hopes and wishes for what he might have wanted President Obama to do to overpower his memory of what President Obama actually did do during his 43 months to date in office, not once, but four times during his world-wide broadcast speech…to applause in the house that just might have caused the walls of Jericho to come tumbling down.  (But nobody expects Rep. Ryan’s audience to be as knowledgeable as the man who wrote “The Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal”.)

One person who did not trivialize Mr. Ryan’s speech was Ms. Sally Kohn, in an opinion piece which showed up August 30, on (Get this!) FOXNEWS.COM (look for it under the Opinion tab).  She divided her critique into three parts [not unlike Caesar divided Gaul].  As for “Dazzling”, she rated his performance something like a 17.4 (as per the so-soon forgotten beloved Olympic gymnastics] and awarded him a 16.9.  Reasonable.  Her next section, “Deceiving” delivers back to him the four blows he delivered to the truth-seeking integrity of the American people August 29:

1.     The downgrade of the United States’ credit rating was not caused by spending under President Obama, Mr. Ryan, but by the Republicans’ prolonged and needless threat to not raise the debt ceiling.
2.     The GM plant in Janesville, WI was closed down under President Bush, not President Obama.  (Want a bit of preserves on top?  Rep. Ryan asked for federal spending to save the plant.)
3.     President Obama simply did not say, ever, that federal government deserves all the credit for success of anyone in the private sector, no matter how badly Paul Ryan wants him to have said it.  [Wantin ain’t getting.]
4.     This one involves math (Rep. Ryan’s specialty, I think, so it’s a tough one): Even though Mr. Ryan wants the president to have taken $716,000,000.00 out of Medicare, the president didn’t do that.  Never.  What he did do was make $716,000,000.00 the amount in savings in reimbursement rates (which was coupled with Medicare recipients’ out-of-pocket costs) in his proposed budget plan.  And guess what!  Rep. Ryan used the same formula for savings in his proposed budget plan.  [Easy to get these things confused in front of a huge live audience.]

Sally Kohn ends her review with a section on all the things Paul Ryan didn’t talk about.  But I’d rather talk about some of the things nobody talks about: not the candidates, not the pundits, not the reporters, not the media opinion heads, not your friends. 
We are in the throes of a presidential campaign season and everybody talks about the candidates, who are, Praise Jesus! down to two in number.  But even since those pitiful days when the Republicans had, what, 39 people running for president, the national conversation was about one thing and one thing only:

THE MAN!

WHO IS THAT MAN?!

WHAT CAN HE DO FOR ME?!

WHY CAN’T HE DO WHAT HE SAYS HE CAN DO FOR ME?!

WHAT HAS HE ALREADY DONE WRONG?!

HAS HE EVER DONE ANYTHING RIGHT?!

DON’T WE ALREADY KNOW WHAT HE WAS THINKING
WHEN HE DID ALL THAT STUFF WRONG?!

During a presidential election we all, every single American, talks about the election, the candidates, the whole damn thing, as if these two guys had complete control of everything, as if they had the power to make pigs fly, as if they were running for Emperor.

Every single one of us stops talking about these other minor impingements on the capacities of the presidency, for example, a Republican House of Representatives that backed Idea X for a period of time, then learned that President Obama also favored it, and immediately opposed it full force.  And not that this happened in the past four years, but that it happened over, and over, and over…Or that for, what, a year, a full session, Republicans in the Senate forced every vote—every vote—to be taken under the rules of filibuster, which means a majority of 60%, not the usual 50%.  This was an action unprecedented in American history.  How do these minor impingements affect the ability of the president and his party to enact their vision for the future of America into the reality of law and order?

But NO! for this season in politics we discuss whether the President himself was able to turn his agenda into reality…people come out of the woodwork to discuss whether President Obama was able to keep his every 2008 campaign promise.  This British nut job who happens to teach history—or some version thereof—at Harvard, Niall Ferguson, somehow got a cover article in “Newsweek” last week in which he revealed how President Obama singlehandedly turned the country inside out seemingly state by state over a mere 43 months.  No Senate.  No House.  No Supreme Court.  No DOD, for the love of God!  Really quite remarkable. 

How is it that such a journalistic luminary as Tina Brown can suddenly become so amnesiac as to allow this kind of print idiocy to happen?  How is it that WE ALL apparently voluntarily throw out the daily rules of play, as if we are quite happy to throw our heads to the side and laugh as we hear the little tinkle of I.Q. points as they fall out of our heads and hit the sidewalk? 

Do we really need for a season to regress to our idea of Jack and Jackie’s Camelot and pretend that our president, the invincible, can save us from every manner of strife, indeed, that he must?  We know in our frontal lobes that he cannot singlehandedly make his way from the White House to the Capitol Building, much less put his agenda into reality.  But for this season, we will continue to play by the rules of our limbic systems, which means that not a single one of us, not the reporters, not the editors, not the debate panelists, not the voters will ask the simple, practical questions…those same logical questions to which we will all turn our attention the day after Inauguration Day.

HOW DOES THE COMPOSITION OF CONGRESS AFFECT THE PRESIDENT’S
CHANCES OF PASSING HIS AGENDA?
HOW DOES THIS QUESTION APPLY TO EACH CANDIDATE?

WAS THE LAST CONGRESS SO VENAL THAT NO SOCIAL OR FINANCIAL
TRULY AMELIORATIVE LEGISLATION COULD BE PASSED?
WOULD IT BE TRUE OF THE NEXT CONGRESS?

WHAT WERE THE MEANINGS OF THE SUPREME COURT’S DECISION
AND OPINIONS ON ACA?
HOW WOULD THEY AFFECT EACH CANDIDATE AS PRESIDENT?

HOW WILL THE INTERPLAY BETWEEN CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT
DIFFER IF THEY ARE OF THE SAME PARTY
OR OF DIFFERENT PARTIES?


I am not much bothered that the voting masses may be single minded, or that the campaigns themselves will carry on with this moneyed monstrosity of one note theme.  But that I cannot find anyone, at any level, who is willing to entertain a rigorous, diligent discussion of the current presidential election in its full context saddens me deeply.  These are not questions for the history books.  These are questions to be asked of the candidates, or at least about the candidates in order to inform the electorate. These are the questions of this season.  How could we have possibly forgotten?




Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How They Talk That Way?

Ten or twenty people in my town
get together and get naked
the first Saturday of every month.
Each one, in turn, sheds the first article
of least resistance, then an adjective, a noun
The first Saturday of every month.
Then pops a verb! An adverb,
Modifying phrase, a participle. Wild guys, these!
First Saturday of every single month
except July, think I, uncertain.
I'd join them if they gave me
[um, dangling participle...ah!]-procrastinating-
just a bit more time. Maybe,
third Tuesday of the month.

Help is on the way

Taking a new tack today.
Somebody (I'm not saying who) is going to read. And connect. With something. I've said in this blog. During the past. However. Many years.

I'm feeling it. In my bone. Marrow. Like Papa and Aunt Betty. Used to eat. Out of the chicken thigh. When they were through with the meat. I'm not kidding. They ate the marrow. (Grew up in the depression) I never said anything in here was young.

Young in spirit. Old in soul. Somebody. Connects with that. This... Come on... Connect... Connect... I feel you coming... at me

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Looking Glass v. Looker

That post about the cracked mirror was one depressed set of sentences. I didn't publish it for weeks after I wrote it.


And, All You Good And Faithful Followers Of Mine [So Good As To Have Your Prepositions Capitalized], I published it for a reason...two reasons:


1. I don't believe I am so special as to be the only person who feels suicidally dejected on occasion;


2. I have been working VERY hard in therapy to find a way out of that state that's reliable enough to work again when I fall back into it.


The way out is what this post is about. The way out is all about a realization THAT I EXIST. Sounds so funny-weird that it's funny-ha ha, I know. The cracked mirror post talked an awful lot about me and "I" for it to be about a nonexistent person.

But the fact is that I was not connected to a sense of my own valuable, individual, physical SELF while I was mucking around in all that dismal gunch. Gunch was not a word until I just wrote it, and I think it's a fine word for expressing the traumatic psychic pain I was wallering around in [again, a new word, at least in written form].

I have taken time to real-ize some of the valuable, individuated, physical, enjoyable things I DO [emphasis on activivity] and to DO those things in order to feel some actual joy.

It's been a tonic. I have come to feel my SELF...actually feel the blood pumping through the arteries in my arms and legs, feel where my fingers and toes end and the rest of the world begins [boundaries] and that feeling...well, feels good.

As someone probably smarter than I said several times within two hours, that's all I have to say about that.

About My iPhone...

I have a new iPhone. How do you know I have a new iPhone?...Because I JUST TOLD YOU. I realize I'm shouting. Afraid you might not get the importance of the message.


I learned the other day that people who get new iPhones let other people know they have new iPhones BY TELLING THEM...because we're so proud of our new iPhones. Read it somewhere. Or heard it as a joke. Or read the joke. (Like that)


Bet you didn't know this: the iPhone automatically spells itself properly. Puts the capital P in iPhone all by itself. SMART IPHONE. [Didnt do it that time AND it didn't spell didn't correctly the first time although it did the next two times. Not a GENIUS iPhone but a willing-to-learn iPhone. It's a 4S iPhone, 16 gigs...I remember whole computers that didn't have a gig of memory, but then I've owned a Creative Zen M mp3 player for years & years that has 32 gigs--Take THAT, Apple! Wait! Whose side am I on here?]


Which is the whole point. To love or not to love the company nursed along by one of the iconic men who, as it turns out, ran over his friends just like his friends ran over him during their "formative" years?


In the long run, who gives a damn? I love my iPhone because the 4S looks & acts just like the 3GS, except that they never should've gotten rid of the tapered edge. Felt better in your hand, no question. No, that's not true. I love my iPhone because it's an iPhone. IPHONE. There. I shouted it. I love dropping the name in conversation. I never say, "I can't find my cell phone.". Which I never can. I ALWAYS say, "I can't find my iPhone. "


I haven't felt any need to get an iPad. $1000.00 for any toy you can carry under your arm is absurd. [OK, you can buy it for 3 figures, but you can't call it a toy if you have to hold off on all the doo dads you want.] So I did what any reasonable person would do: I bought a Kindle Keyboard and a Kindle Fire. When I talk about them I ALWAYS say, "Kindles", never "ebooks", BTW.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Crack in the Looking Glass

The last migraine gave me a glimpse into the world where I live imprisoned--that is the right word--without goals, without answers, without questions, without hope, without beliefs, without love, without color, without comfort, without life.  Except my kitties.  They are everything.  Sometimes they are too much.  Sometimes they are not enough.  In this world it is easy to wish to be dead.  In this world I am dead.  To die would take great effort.  To think about the reasons not to die takes great effort.  I must reach up great distances, over the still walls of this world into the bright noisy worlds of my child and my mother and I must imagine how they view me in their worlds.  They see me as someone who is alive and vital, energetic young, funny, curious, engaged, engaging.  In their worlds I suppose I am those things, and it would be cruel of me to prematurely deprive either my child or my mother of such a person.  


I wish I could bring that person home with me to my world.  Or, more accurately, I wish I could bring her home and keep her here.  I cannot.  She cannot sustain herself here.  I have no resources which would allow her to thrive.  My cupboards are bare.  I am a shut-in.  I wait for someone to bring me the milk of human kindness.  When they do, which is rare, I can hardly make a cupful last an hour longer than the visit, much less offer it to anybody else.  I just sit.  I hardly even wait anymore.  I used to wait, but everything I've waited for I have received, in one form or another.  I waited for accomplishment and got that.  I waited accolades and got those.  I waited for love and got that.  I waited for friendship and got that. 


No, none of that is true.  I did what the adults told me.  I worked hard.  I worked as hard as I could.  I worked harder than that.  I exhausted myself.  I earned every bit of what I got.  Nobody ever told me to be careful what I wished for.  I got it all, and all of it betrayed me.  The work made me ill.  The accolades weren't that special.  The lovers and friends turned on me.  I turned on myself.  Or maybe I just got to know myself.
  
One way or another, none of it matters any more.  I see nothing to move toward.  So I am moving away.  Moving away from home.  There is no home at home.  There is no one home.  Except me.  And I'm not really here.  Am I?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Heartache

They will be back.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sometimes I Cry

 

God, it’s been a hell of a summer in Texas.  At first the 100+ degree days were…I hate to say this, interesting; they made me think of the string of below 0 days we had in Denver in 1983, when the cold stopped being an adjective and became a noun, when thoughts of survival became real, and people actually put candles and waterproof matches and extra wool socks and Snickers in their automobile kits, even if they only drove in the city.

But survival in the heat is not exciting.  I worked the summer of 1980 at LSU Hospital in Shreveport, the last time we had a row of days of 100+ heat that looked like a cross-country train on fire.  Half the hospital was air conditioned; half wasn’t.  Paying patients got the AC.  Charity patients got the wards with no breeze and minimum temperatures above 80 degrees.  Residents and professors got to go back and forth between the two.  Dying patients were to be found in the heat, as were the staff who made the most nursing errors.  Who could blame them.

This summer I’ve played it differently.  Instead of working myself into a frenzied, exhausted rage, I’ve pulled myself back, and back, into the  interiors…of my cool, dark house, of my cold, deadened mind.  I endured the anniversaries of my father’s birthday and, three weeks later, his death.  Then came the Made-Up, Get the Black President But Call it the Debt Ceiling Debacle that numbed the minds of absolutely every American citizen and never had to happen at all.  My rage should have been as hot as the weather, but survival instincts within me played it cool, cooler, and cold as a corpse inside my dark rooms, stroking my kitties and streaming Lee Atwater documentaries on Netflix.  My son became acutely sick with a dangerous illness that should have affected someone twice his age.  The hospital staff got around to giving his IV pain medication almost two hours after it was due until I started standing in front of the glass paneled medications room ready to do my Shirley McClaine impersonation.  Those women didn’t give a damn about much, but they knew I’m a physician, and they knew I have no qualms about giving orders in anybody’s hospital when my son is in trouble. 

Leaving him to come home to this burned up, dried out, shriveled hell of an existence, when I wasn’t sure he was ready to go at life on his own yet, was rock hard.  But there were duties to tend to here. 

The heat plays with us.  It’s found the 107, 108, 110 degree readings and bounces through those numbers like a red rubber ball.  Striking hardest at the people who really suffer: who have only window units, if that; who have no credit cards and do not qualify for monthly averaging of their electric bills; whose refrigerators go out, spoiling all their food while their owners have no hope of replacing the cold-keeps.  And yes, the rest of us suffer too, if we don’t think about those actual martyrs to hell’s blast.

While my mind rubs like rocks against itself, I decide that the essence of the damned is not feeling hopeless about the future.  Damn the future…”for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”  The very essence of damnation is the inability to remember anything good. I can’t remember feeling safe with my money in the stock market. 

After my mind has rubbed this thought onto a sheet of paper, I roll over to see the first daylight, forget to cap the pen, commiserate with the kitty, and close my eyes just as a great sob ushers up from the pit of my belly.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What I Did in Psychotherapy Today

Today's therapy session was outstanding, all the more because I couldn't make it in and we talked over the phone.  But with the trust built on a dozen years of work, and my understanding that a good session begins with no agenda, I started blind.  What we very quickly got into was the sorting out of two of my most important relationships: how they originate from the same place and yet are so entirely different.  In one I must not be who I am if I am to have any relationship with this woman at all.  I must listen very carefully to her, respond at every turn to her moods, her needs, her desires, her wishes, and give her the empathy she needs at that exact moment regardless of my mood, need, desire, or wish.  This is a great deal of work for me...as much work as if I were in my chair marked "Therapist" in my consulting room.  The sad reality is that she believes that she is doing all that for me also but in reality she is not hearing a word I am saying, even when I am empathizing with her.  She is carrying on in her own world, and there I am attempting to carry on with her, being so little noticed as to not be there at all.  Within that relationship, I am not.  Or, in the luminous words of Martin Buber, there is no I-THOU relationship between this woman and me. 


The above is sad.  What follows is the devastation.  For the past forty years of my life, I have believed exactly the opposite of what is reality.  I have believed that she and I were in it together; that she was tracking with me as I was tracking with her; in short, that we had a relationship in which I was being my genuine self.  None of it is true.


About that other terribly important relationship in my life: it has been tumultuous since the day I was born.  Full of love and hate and envy and adoration and loathing and camaraderie and eroticism and every-flavor feeling.  Now, through the adversities of  these past 3 years of life, we two characters have found a new rejoinder to each other: a deep and abiding respect.  At a level approximating that at which plate tectonics function, we intuit that throughout our lives each of those emotions, and the accompanying behaviors, has been blatantly honest, forthright to the bone.  Each of us, for our own reasons, has journeyed toward enlightenment and we have lately caught sight of each other on parallel paths.  We have become steadfast friends who can, and only do, tell each other the truth in all things; we rely on each other when we can and wait patiently for each other until we can.  We have a relationship in which I can be, in short, my genuine self.


All that was discussed in my session today.  Also discussed was that without [my dear] Dr. H. none of that could have been discussed.  Such was the trust held over a tenuous telephone  connection in this other inimitable I-THOU relationship which holds and strengthens me to shed light on the truths of my life, the greatest of which is that I do not and can not ever take for granted that I will trust myself as being seen in any given relationship.  I must remember, with every person with whom I converse, to remember myself.
_________________________________________________
My post script is odd but necessary.  It is written to a remark made by Rush Limbaugh years ago.  He commented on his radio show that psychotherapy is a forum in which people can blame all their problems on their parents.  Rush Limbaugh's total ignorance in 1988 still makes me sad and angry--perhaps because I have so little reason to think he has had impetus to improve his insight into this most serious of the healing sciences and, thus, has continued to misinform his legions.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Are We America?

Harken back to the heady days of the 1760's and 1770's, when the streets of Philadelphia and Boston and New York were ablaze with the pamphlets of Tom Payne and the letters home from Ben Franklin and the ideas of Tom Jefferson, and Alexander Hammilton getting ready to go his next round with James Madison over Federalism v. Populism.  And all the while these men are anxiously awaiting the next round of communiques from France, Germany, and Spain with their grandiloquent ideas as to how to next decide the questions of the day, lest the Mighty Methodists gain too much power over the Secular Unitarians, or the Fighting Federalists founder Madison's Mamas.

Not so much.

Yet as Egyptians teemed with the overthow of the exact same kind of autocracy in the last few weeks, American and other world leaders imperialistically worried over the future of Egypt's government as if the people of Egypt were too stupid or too gullible or too mindless of their religious fanatics to do so for themselves.

But note an article in today's New York "Times" Blog which recounts the history of an enclave of a section of Cairo, Imbaba, long thought to be held by the Muslim Brotherhood, where young people are standing up one by one to discount the influence of this religious conservative faction and voice their hopes for a secular government that will deliver jobs, economic security, and a modern way of life to this and all areas of Egypt. 

These are voices not unlike those in our once proud, honorable society, clashing with a true oppressor.  Not the voices of right wing conservatives who by their very nature must take the stance of victims of whatever form of government exists, and extend their logic to the degree of paranoia if necessary to make their point, as is happening in this country.

It is a given that Glen Beck and his Tea Partiers rail at the United States government "as if" it had taken freedoms from them commensurate with the freedoms the autocracies of the Middle East have long usurped from their peoples.  Had our government in fact acted in this manner, we would not have heard from the Tea Party except on carefullly guarded Facebook pages.  [But that obvious irony of the woeful moaning Tea Victims is best left for another discussion.]  The point here is that, while leaving our own citizens in relative perfect freedom, the United States government has played fast and loose with the citizens of the world's nations, while fostering and maintaining autocrats and powermongers and outright theives as national leaders, forcing entire nations into slavery, all in the name of national security for decades upon decades.

This two-faced take on democracy is not the ultimate responsibility of "Our Government".  It is "Ours, The People's".  If we want to organize a meaningful Tea Party, let us wrest this control over the people of the world back from our Executive Branch and its innumerable slippery fingers, such as the CIA and the Justice Department; the Congress, with its impossibly many secret budgets and its first loyalty to coporate lobby money; and let us make our uncompromising will made perfectly known to the Supreme Court by standing on its steps, as the Egypians stood in Tahrir Sqare for as long as it took.

Yes, the proud and insular people of these United States have much to learn about humility and purpose from the citizenry of the Middle East. 

And yes, our American Tea Party has much to teach us about how to organize.  It is unfortunate that so far, the Tea Party's goals are no more far-sighted than the end of their tax forms. 

There is much for us, as American citizens, to share with the world about the true benefits we have lived with for 235 years under democracy.  If the time comes that we find our true collective moral compus, perhaps we will join together in our true collective moral purpose, despite the quagmire that deigns to call itself our federal government, to assist in whatever way possible peoples like those of Egypt who truly could utilize assistance in moving toward a peaceful democracy.

We are a people who have lived for over two centuries, in relative peace, with free elections, a non-police state, actual freedom of speech, and the myriad other benefits of a democratic society.  Who better to share with those struggling people than "We, the People" of the United States of America?