Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A little game

Another one of those things where you fill out info then tag someone. I rather like them. They're a fun way to learn a bit more about yourself and others.

I AM: proud of the things I've done this year
I WANT: to be the best person I can be
I WISH: I didn't have cancer
I HATE: stupidity (and by that, I don't mean the words or actions of people who don't score well on IQ tests)
I MISS: my mother
I HEAR: songs all around me, and in my head
I WONDER: if the world will ever come together
I REGRET: screwing up so badly with my kids
I AM NOT: someone who wastes a lot of time beating around the bush
I DANCE: when others are standing still
I SING: when I'm happy, sad, scared, angry, connecting with the earth, or in need
I CRY: not enough, anymore
I AM NOT ALWAYS: self-disciplined
I MAKE WITH MY HANDS: art, magic wands, herb salves, kitties happy
I WRITE: poetry that I sometimes feel good about
I CONFUSE: anger with sadness with fear
I NEED: to take better care of myself
I SHOULD: stop "shoulding" myself, and just do what I need to do
I START: each day over many times, in little moments
I FINISH: then try to let go
I TAG: Carrie Czerwinski

There. Now, wasn't that boring?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Death and Taxes and Planetary Suicide

It seems pretty clear that the planet is getting warmer.

My question is, why don't Americans care?

You might think they're just stupid, to insist there's no proof. There's no 'proof' that gravity is real either, but that doesn't make me want to jump off the Arrigoni Bridge. You'll get no argument from me that Americans are stupid, but this has little to do with native intelligence or the lack thereof. They simply don't want to face the fact that they may need to sacrifice any of their luxuries for the sake of something--anything--else.

There are other reasons too, of course. Americans are aggressively stupid. And they are proud of it. We know about Ph.D.s, right? "Piled higher and deeper." American anti-intellectualism runs deep. We prefer to be stupid. We don't need anyone with book smarts telling us that if we don't start behaving differently, our great-grandchildren won't have water to drink, and will have to wear gas masks for a trip to Cumberland Farms.

And then there's war. War allows us to be Patriotic. Patriotism is an easy, feel-good emotion. Who can resist that lovely rush when our troops gather for the last time before they board that plane to the desert? Anything that feels that good just has to be right. And it's downright treason if you question why we're sending young people off to their deaths.

We force our politicians to be shortsighted or risk being out of a job. Little Johnny goes off to college next year! How dare you raise my taxes! He'll need a good job to afford drinkable water and the latest fashion in gas masks. And when his expensive home on the Greenwich shore is flooded, it'll cost a mint to move inland. Those people who raise taxes--those (sputter, sputter) liberals--get those guys out of office!!

I have a theory about why Americans don't want to sacrifice to save the only planet we have. It may sound farfetched, but I think the fear of death is at the root of it all. Ram Dass, who turned out not to be such a silly fellow after all, said, "Death is not an outrage". And yet we are outraged, as if the universe owes us something different from the fate that befalls all the 'inferior' creatures like plants and animals. After all, God made us "a little lower than the angels", and crowned us with glory and honor. He gave us dominion over all those creatures. We're demigods, really, and we ought to be able to live forever.

We are angry. We deserve more, don't we? The children will deal with the problems we leave, just as we dealt with what our parents and grandparents left us. With the amazing technological advances that are sure to come, they'll probably be living in paradise.

So we grab, and grab, and grab. I'm guilty too. I probably have only a few years left to live, and I sure as hell don't want to spend it without the means to enjoy life. And yet...

I feel responsible. Damn, damn, damn. No likely reward, either, if my suspicions about an afterlife are true. But I feel a part of a spirit of life, that has flowed through our DNA and our breath and blood and bones since the first protein bubble formed in the primordial soup. I can only be who I am, giving of myself to that flow. To stop would be hell. It's not about me, it's about life. It's about my beloved Mother Earth.

Consciousness isn't all it's cracked up to be. Damn, damn, damn.



SEA: a fat postcard

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Scrub pines, and sand dunes, and sea--oh, my!

Shopping in Provincetown

Back, and back, and back

It's been such a long time since I've written anything! I have new news (John and I just got back from five days in Provincetown); moderately new news (my son left his rehab place after getting pissed off at a "counselor"); and old news (I keep meaning to write about seeing my childhood friend Pat for the first time in about 20 years).

Not to mention the fact that I'm going back to work tomorrow!

But I'll start with a couple of pictures from the trip. The first, as you can see, is John and me (with my new haircut) at the Cape Cod Light in North Truro, just south of PTown. The beach there is beautiful, maybe even more so than the PTown beaches. Of course I brought home a bunch of rocks, each of which seems miraculous to me. I'll incorporate them into my various little shrines and garden spots.

More pics coming--Blogger doesn't like it when I try to put too many of them in one post.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Reality checks

Today was my Herceptin infusion. Reality always breaks through on those days.

There are days when people can ask how things are going--am I still doing well (they know I'm in remission)--and I'll sort of draw a blank--what are they talking about? Of course I'm still 'NED' (no evidence of disease). What do they expect?

There are days when I wake up in the morning and it doesn't immediately occur to me that I have an incurable illness. I might not think about it all day. Reading the breast cancer list ( tends to bring it all back, and I've started to check in there only about twice a week. The bcmets list is out of the question.

Having a port (click here if you don't know what that is: is a constant reminder, mainly because mine tends to itch, and both it and the line that goes from it into my jugular vein are visible bumps in the skin. It'll be there until I die.

I keep trying to live in the present, and most of the time I succeed. Like most people, I have now--today--but unlike most, I don't have a future. When someone talks about what they're going to do when they retire, or how they're saving up for a trip to Europe in five years, I think I'll probably be dead. That can be depressing.

But--better news! I saw my son for the first time in a couple of years this weekend. He was paroled last month, on the condition that he spend a significant amount of time in a rehab. He's at a place called Lebanon Pines, which has a brook running through it, nice grounds and woods around it. It's clear he's forgiven me. I don't pretend to understand how he can do that so readily, but it's a sweetness that's always been part of him, down below and behind the rage, cynicism, self-destructiveness and other parts of his personality that have seemed to define him the last few years. It's also clear he's trying very hard to change. He may make it after all.

He sang several songs he's written. My daughter and his girlfriend, who were both there, seemed to have heard them before, but I hadn't. He is truly an amazing lyricist. He and his sister sang a couple of duets, as well. It was so wonderful to hear her sing again...if I ever wonder if maybe it was my bias that made me think she was so good, all I have to do is hear her again. She has the warmest voice I've ever heard.

They are bright, good kids. If I could have one wish, it would be that they would turn out happy, productive people. I love them both.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Moby (no relation)

Okay. I'm here today to do my part.

I've been asked by (I'm not claiming special consideration, I think they asked a lot of people) to post the link to a little instructional video about internet neutrality. It seems Congress would like to destroy it, just as they've allowed the independence of other media to be destroyed. PoliticsTV did a little video about it:

It's sort of cute, even if you don't know who Moby is, as I didn't. After I watched it I signed the petition, and moved on (ha ha!). I'm hoping you'll do the same.

I've been somewhat detached from myself for the past couple of weeks, so forgive me if I haven't spilled my guts all over you lately. It'll happen soon enough.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Writers and writing

I really like blogging.
I was never able to journal. I couldn't communicate if I wasn't talking to anybody.
I think I'm a good communicator, which to my way of thinking is close to synonymous with being a good writer. In "Little Women", Jo was told, by her father, I think, "Write as you speak". That's the best advice anyone has ever given on writing.
Good writing has little to do with grammar, though it does have to do with diction (choice of words and their use), and syntax (the patterning of words and phrases). Conscious and deliberate use of bad grammar can be a very effective writing device: for example, "I ain't never done it, and I sure ain't startin' now", as opposed to, "I've never done it, and I'm sure not starting now". The latter is rather flat. The first packs some punch.
I really didn't start this entry intending to give a lecture, but as long as I'm into it, I can't help adding a bit more. Here's a pet peeve: the idea some people have that the bigger the words they use, the better the writing. I had a boss once who had a sort of inferiority complex. He was the manager of a school system's buildings and grounds department, and I was his administrative assistant (glorified secretary). One morning I had been dealing with a crisis involving a roof leak that had led to a classroom ceiling falling down in a few spots. When the boss came into the office, I told him about the situation. By then the poor long-suffering maintenance guys were there, waiting to be told what to do, and to find out what they should tell the school's principal. My boss considered the situation for a few seconds, and told the guys, "We will effect repairs in as expeditious a manner as possible", or something like that. I said, "Brian, do you mean we'll fix it as fast as we can?" Anglo-Saxon is almost always preferable to Latin, when you're trying to keep the other person's attention, especially if your Latinate verbiage sounds as silly and phony as it did here.
And now I intend to contradict myself, which is my privilege. While I will always maintain that so-called "correct" grammar is not an integral part of good writing, I think that in order to deviate from that grammar effectively, unless you are a true 'naif' and writing guilelessly in your own dialect, you need to learn the standard grammar first. This is similar to learning the four-bar phrase (not necessarily in an academic setting, just hearing and understanding it) before you play jazz. Otherwise, you won't have control of the language you're using.

And now I degenerate into a "kids today" type rant, except that I don't think it's the kids' fault...why do so many young people graduate from high school thinking the plural in English is formed by adding "apostrophe s"? Why do they think that "it's" is the neuter possessive? Why do they think that it's always more high-class to use the word "whom" than "who" in any sentence? (As in "I welcome any one whom wishes to participate.") I can only think they're not being taught right. So they leave high school unable either to function in a world that expects a reasonable degree of literacy, or to communicate.
There are lots of writing sites on the net. Here's one:
Now, the writer of this page, which leads to her blog, may well have been abused as she says she was. If all goes as she hopes (and she survives the libel or slander suit her adoptive mother would be foolish not to bring against her), she will have her childhood adoption annulled and be adopted by neighbors (at age 35). She is writing a book about child abuse, about which she notes:

Please help me to help others deal with the issues of child abuse...
You are more than welcome to peruse my port to see my work!
My book is in progress, and most of it shall come from my port here.
Peruse my port? Perhaps she means browse. The book, she says, "shall" come from the writings on her site. She's been taking writing lessons from Jane Austen, which is great, as long as you know which aspects of Jane's writing to emulate. The use here of the archaic-sounding word "shall" ain't one of 'em.
My, my, I have gone on, have I not? I must say, I do enjoy listening to myself write. I'm lousy at a lot of things, but writing ain't one of 'em! In closing, may I suggest that you visit the website of the 2006 Weblog Awards?
I read the blogs that won last year for best writing, and I think I'm competitive. If you'd like to nominate me or cast a vote for me, I'd be right grateful ma'am...or sir...or Missus or whatever you call yourself (sorry, I've been re-reading "To Kill a Mockingbird"). And I promise I'll try not to bore you to death in my next posting.