Archives for category: Reflections

I have never been old before. Funny I just heard Bill Gates’ mom say that.  Does everyone feel like an observer inside? I heard writers are like that; so that makes me a writer; but I have been doing this for a while.

At this point on the planet, I find life fascinating. Not easy. Fascinating balls or stupidity will back those thoughts up. I was born shortly before the Hurricane of 1938, with a twin, but I was four pounds, so hung out in incubator till I fattened up. (In later years, I would have no such issues of fattening up.)

It’s all an inside job on one level, this growing awareness. Childhood, adolescence, the emergence of tension of the opposites; gnashing forces of worth, no worth, feelings of inadequacy masked by leading kids the wrong way, getting suspended from Roslindale High 3 times in sophomore year by Mr. Gately who looked like a prison warden from the twenties. “You have the worst record of any girl in this school,” he would announce, right before he said, “Don’t come back until you tell your father.” Sunday night would come, and Mr. Gately would have called my father. I was emotionally afraid of my father, but somehow I went back to school after they spoke. I later pulled it together so by senior year, I was voted most popular and studied enough to get A’s and B’s.

Now in my late 70s, I look back upon that scattered, frightened young girl and think how lost she was.  My twin, Elizabeth, said to herself when she was ten years old, standing outside our 12 room house, standing in our circular gravel driveway, “I have to take care of myself now”. She would tell me this in her second year of fighting cancer, at age 68, and she also told me, “We were not born 5 minutes apart, but 12. Lord she held that 5 minutes over me for eons. I was the youngest in the family. Turns out she and I were placed in different classrooms after Kindergarten because she copied my yellow wooden shoe drawing.

I was consider the leader, but in middle school my French Teacher who taught us to sing (Rudolph Le Serf Au Nez Rouge – Rudolf the Red Nosed….) said to me, “Esther, you are a leader. Why do you lead people the wrong way”?

My father despaired over his children. Were we cretins to him?  My mother had her own demons and died when Liz and I were 17. Each one of us, John, Meb, Liz and I drove this man through many an anguished hour.

Now in 2017 I know we act our turmoil out, conditions in the world, in the household pivot through our psyches, and we were all pretty troubled .In 1966 I began my oneness path, took my little yellow lunchbox of thoughts and newly discovered Faith down the road. This Faith saved my life.

In 2017 after some harrowing months I realized I have never done “old” before. This awareness survived many a hospital trip, but I always bounced back. on Last month, recovering from harrowing doses of Morphine during an emergency run to two hospitals.   Little did I know within the space of 27 hours of no sleep, constant pain, and some unexplainable events, I felt tumulted into a fake cult.  Funny how this cult pulled of similar physical surroundings as in the hospital’s art work looked the same, but there was no kindness, no explanations of process.

I ended up in a morphine psychosis, which led me, mild mannered Esther, toddling out of a hospital room, physically in agitation over a recent brutal surgical procedure, asking a man, “Excuse me are you a scientist.”  The scene expanded in a silenced way with my moaning to serried ranks of hospital employees, “help me, help me,” and my running away from a hatchet faced nurse, zipping down a hospital corridor and ripping out the offensive surgical implant apparatus. I was put in a room with another patient who was so inert I thought she was dying.   I thought she was being slowly killed, and I thought her nurse was being punished also, but she got to go home.  Because of this cult, would never again see my son’s face, see anyone I knew and loved, and would be in a world without Baha’u’llah.  recovering from thinking I was in a fake cult which looked like my regular hospital, ripping out something from a surgical procedure, and then running down a long corridor away from the nurses,.  The nurse in charge of my well being was the same hatchet faced nurse who never smiled, only repeated, “You will have that implanted again.”  A kind resident emerged and listened to me, and I felt safe again.  It took me several days to realize exactly what had happened.  Time had stretched for me, but all of my drama was contained in an action packed 27 hours.

I then emerged from my haze only to learn of a suggested search for kidney cancer. Well it wasn’t cancer and I’m fine. Two weeks after this escapade, on October 21, 2017, to be exact, I dashed out for a waiting Uber, skidded and flat lined across the narrow hallway outside my room, realizing seconds later, something was seriously wrong.

Reader, I had a short clean break in the upper part of my pelvic ring, and a hairline fracture at the bottom of this ring. What would this mean?

I am patched up and recuperating and now have time to face my technical dysfunction. I feel like a woman, tossed down a sparse hill, covered with grass, patchy grass. My long arms and skinny fingers dig into hard dirt because I am slipping, sliding, gasping, down a hill. Going down.

I am not keeping up with: Kindle, Ipad, and worst of all Windows 10. Reader, are you with me? I have forgotten how to blog. I can’t find my dashboard. I spend hours looking at WordPress books and the letters “How to Blog,” blur into tiny ants on their march towards my crossed eyes.I will end with this ephiphany. Piph on that dear Reader.

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tearWHAT IT MEANS TO ME TO BE WHITE

I sit inside seventy-seven year old white skin which once covered a four-pound baby born into a family whose neighbors said, “Mrs. Bradley had one white baby and one dark baby.”  Skin color myths came early to us on Wren Street in West Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1938.  We were an Irish-Catholic family with four kids born within three years.

Class consciousness ruled our small crowded house. Mom had student taught one of the ghettos, and she was a stalwart advocate of the public school system. We kids attended Randall G. Morris Elementary School a block down for our little brown house on Wren Street.  My mom also taught there.  Our neighborhood was white.  Any idea of difference was inconceivable in our young world.

We were white on the Green Street Bus to downtown Boston, but we were definitely black and white at Dudley Street rapid transit station as people of all colors, particularly black, poured into hot steamy trains.  Our skin color difference seemed purposefully ignored by our parents.

Roslindale High School gave us a window into races when we took buses to our guys’ basketball games in East and South Boston.  The black girls didn’t like us and became angry.  We were told to leave in the middle of a basketball game, and we were hurried out a back door and onto buses headed back to our high school.  I think I slotted these kids as tougher, never wondering if their life conditions were harder because of skin color.

I had two options after high school graduation:  Boston Teacher’s College and Boston Clerical School.  I was afraid to go to Teacher’s College so I chose Boston Clerical School, a red brick building, smack down in Roxbury, a predominantly poor and black neighborhood.  I discovered my prejudices flat on, but didn’t think of them as prejudices, but felt a white superiority.

My mother died when my twin and I were in our last year of high school.  My father married a few years later.  He and my step-mother were class conscious, and cast low slung scorn towards lower economic and less educated classes of people.  Their attitudes were scornful of those with different skin color. Boston was a racist town.  Still I remained unaware.  Liz, my twin, and I mixed with all classes of people, but still lived in an all-white world.  Looking back, I felt I grew up inside a large brown paper bag and questioned nothing.  At Emerson College, a close friend confided to me of her deep love for a young black man, but she couldn’t marry him.  “My father would beat me up,” she said.

I left Boston, driving alone out to California in my beat up 57 VW Convertible.  I felt protected in an unseen spiritual sense, a definitely new experience. Before I left Boston the Cuban Crisis erupted.  Nuclear war threatened our nation.  A friend’s father was in the Federal Reserve. She spoke of members of the Federal Reserve going to safe surroundings in case of a nuclear attack. Boston also harbored fear because the infamous Boston Strangler, who raped and killed old women, stalked an edgy silence which seemed to hedge in the City.

I had rented a room in Belmont, and a very old, pale and fearful lady, Miss Gunn, rented the other room.  I was nervous about the Strangler.  Then the Cuban Crisis ended, and a lighter, less fear-filled atmosphere took over the City, but the Boston Strangler was still on the loose. I continued throwing everything I could into a large black trunk and even bought a dime store wedding ring.  If anyone stopped me on the road, I’d tell them, ‘I’m meeting my husband at an army base.”  One very early Monday morning in October, with the cold nipping my heels and a car heater that was kaput, I headed out via Route 66 towards Buffalo, my final destination: Los Angeles . My aunt knew I was headed their way. Boston was stultifying to me.  Get me out of here, thoughts banged inside my head.  Critical parental lectures as to my failures in life set off images of Bambi and his bags packed at the edge of the forest. I had to get out of Boston.

I made it to Ohio, eventually Texas, Arizona, and in California I took a right on Western, drove up to Franklin Avenue, took a left into Griffith Park, twisted on paths by smooth stucco walls, until I drove into a large patio overlooking the city, and stood and looked at the roses blooming.

My trip lasted 6 and half days. My relatives seemed wealthy and imperialistic.  “We never knew a working girl,” was an early comment as I headed off to work in a law firm.  One relief was eighty year old Uncle Charlie who came from Los Angeles when it was small, and covered with Orange Groves.  He’d tell me, “Drive in the middle lane of the freeway where you’ll feel safer.”  He was real. I never wore jeans, only dresses or skirts and blouses.  Occasionally the family would host a black tie party.

My aunt was very kind to me.  I walked into the basement of this large house, and its beauty greeted me.  Everything was in soft greens, and rich black oriental screens and gleaming silver and even a Japanese sword decorated the walls.  She had traveled the world as a Navy wife, and her home seemed to represent a lush salon. She took me under her wing and buffed me up socially, and she accepted me a stark contrast to my father and stepmother’s view.

God help me.  I drank alcohol and took a little blue over-the counter Compos to quell my fear of social groups was invited to someone’s New Years Day party. “Dress is informal,” my date said.  So I showed up wearing sneakers, a wrap around Madras skirt, and light blue long-sleeved blouse.  The women wore Talbot dresses and low slung heels.  I immediately took a drink, and another.  Casual on the East Coast differed from that of the West.  They were forming a Young Republicans’ club which in my hazed condition seemed splendiferous.  After that, I was invited to Bachelors’ Balls in Los Angeles and San Francisco and did the social scene, all the while working in law firms, finding myself scared and bewildered.  I found a roommate and lived in the Wilshire District.  Then I met a guy and married him on a May day in 1965.

A year later, I heard about the Baha’i Faith.  As we stood by the Manhattan Beach pier, the waves lapping our bare feet, a close friend, who was a former atheist and then agnostic, told me about progressive revelation, the oneness of humankind, and the purpose of this day and age:  to bring about oneness and much more.  I became a Baha’i within three weeks, and I felt thrust me into a global village.  Seals and Crofts’ manager had large gatherings at her house in Hollywood for anyone who was interested in this Faith. She was Dash Crofts’ mother-in-law, a Baha’i, and her house spilled over with people.  This is before Seals and Crofts were famous.  One Friday night, I sat across from a man who was African-American, Chuck Rhodes, a large handsome man dressed in blue overalls, looking quite serious.  Somehow he took scattered, skinny me, under his wing. He’d tell me becoming a Baha’i was like surfing the waves.  Sometimes I’d feel up, other times down, always stretching and learning. Chuck spoke eleven languages and would later marry Ulla, a lovely Scandinavian woman and they would move to Finland.  He was a big brother to me for over a year, and I am still intensely grateful.

I was now immersed in a world where blacks and whites mixed easily.  We were family.  I also read Black Boy, American Hunger, and since then have inhaled lots of books by people of color and books about white privilege, slavery, you name it. Today I am enormously aware of race, and I have had this developing consciousness since 1966.  I have to say becoming a Baha’i raised my awareness that God’s purpose mandates our oneness as a people.  I still had and have to do the work and become aware as to how this oneness is perceived.  Not as assimilation by people of color into a white world, nor by my ignorance of black culture’s rich heritage, and not by ignoring the dreadful history and treatment in our nation of over 300 years of cruelty.

When I went back to college at age 42 and an African American Baha’i spoke to our community, he challenged our assumed belief that life was fine and we were one.  I was upset that night, and I am sure I sounded racist.  But on campus, my house was filled with black, whites, all of whom could go out a window rather than take time to exit by door.  Kids were mixing.  I was by this time, attending UC Irvine, and my son and I lived in what is known as Old Verano, student housing with periodic plumbing mishaps, and an extremely diversified life.  When Nick went to an Irvine high school; he wasn’t a mainstream kid.  He was asked by his African-American friends to join their club.  He was the first to be asked, and maybe the only one.  I gave all the kids names, and one was Junior High Jared, the other Pomona Dave.  Turns out Pomona Dave’s brother is the African-American comedian on Jon Stewart’s show, and I adore this comic.  Nick was a rebel in high school and caused me concern, but I was proud of his awareness of his black brothers and sisters, and I still am. Still I was not aware of the larger society’s impact, ethos, and all aspects of racism.  I thought because my own small world was unified on some levels, everyone was.

After I graduated and took a year’s Education courses, I flunked the math portion of the State’s C-Best exam.  I was to teach English.  One professor said, “You will save lives.”  So much for saving lives.  Nick went to live with his dad, and I moved to Los Angeles to return to being a legal secretary.  A friend in Manhattan Beach said, “Come stay with me.”

I met my second husband Bill at a local Baha’i gathering. He had just become a Baha’i, and I had been one for twenty years.  We were active regarding racial justice, racial unity, racial amity groups from the get go of our marriage.  He looked black, and whenever we hoofed about walking for good causes, the Brothers nodded at him acknowledging another brother.  People at the market would ask him, “Are you mixed?” and he always said yes, because he probably was.  But he lived with white privilege too.

In Seattle a wonderful activist Harriet came to one of our meetings and told us how the newspapers wouldn’t publish comments written by African-Americans.  I felt a lot of pain in those circles, and know, it was part of my share of the pain that goes into this whole skin color mess.  I went home and wrote a letter to the Seattle Times mentioning their only showing blacks being arrested in photos, never whites.  The day my letter published, we had another race meeting.  Harriet said to me, “You made the black community very happy tonight.”  Boy was I grateful.  Ironically on the same day, my father’s will was mailed to me, and he barely mentioned my twin and me, nor my older sister or brother.  I was stunned.  What were we to my father? Nothing?  But still, I made the people of color in my area happy.  Which is more important,” I said to myself.  I knew the answer.

For the rest of the time, even living in Russia/Ukraine 1990-1993, we would mention color and interface with international African students.  I feel my whiteness.  I feel the agony and despair of blacks, and feel despair and powerlessness. I must never give up.

I am now in an organization called Coming to the Table, which is an offshoot of Gather at the Table, a national organization. www.Gatheratthetable.com.   I feel it is now the time of an ingathering of the earth’s people.  I am humbled to be a part of this organization.

I still feel myself sitting in my skin, but my soul proclaims the oneness of all, and I immerse myself in this oneness.  In the Baha’i Writings, it is suggested blacks must forgive, and whites must rid themselves of their inherent superiority.  Lord, it’s a crawl up the mountain; which is harder?

I feel gut wrenching agony over the conditions in this country. Consider:  if one is white and feels superior how unconscious primitivism is perpetuated.  I think about skin color privilege every day.  This is how I feel: I can drive anywhere sitting inside my aging white skin and feel unquestioned.  No one will follow me in the department stores.  No one will pull me over for driving while white.   Bill got pulled over when we moved to a fringe area in Seattle.  We had friends who walked the neighborhoods in Jamestown, Western New York, stopped by the police as guilty of being “black by walking.”  Overt, institutionalized and unaware racism permeated that town.  We and others started a Downtown Dialogue for Race which caught the attention of our Representative Amo Houghton.  Our family during our time in Jamestown was the people of color, and more than one tragedy wrenched our souls.

Last week I saw a Target ad which showed a game page and who was holding the big plastic Uzi type of gun?  A young African-American boy.   Look at the pictures in newspapers, how many blacks are seen committing a crime? Check out the mainstream magazines and see what skin color owns the majority of these pages.  Consider our prison and court system as a vehicle for the New Jim Crow.   I teach in black neighborhoods and a lot of my friends live there.  I feel the pain, the injustice, the weariness. I think the world is a dystopia for blacks. Certainly, I don’t suggest all African-Americans are poor and live in troubled neighborhoods.  But what I do suggest is unaware racism and institutionalized racism has cut a swath of vituperative hatred across our nation.  Yet, we whites sit in our houses, with diversity magazines on smooth glass-topped coffee tables, feeling uncomfortable but safe.  A lot of us are overwhelmed.

What helps for me is the vision and promises within the Baha’i writings.  I need to always remain aware, and learn more every day.  Until I draw my last breath, this is my call.  I want to recommend a book, “The Last War, Racism, Spirituality and the Future of Civilization, by M.I., Perry, George Ronald, Publisher, Oxford, www.grbooks.com, ISBN 0-85398-491-3.

 Why do I insert academic references to this vast and horribly sad topic of being white in America?  Because it means, I do know some things.  I’ve removed a lot of ignorance and illusion in my life.  I will never be done. I would give my very life to have this dreaded blight removed from our society.  It’s going to take time.  But the time is now.  That’s what white means to me.  Never stop.  Always stretch to be aware.  Be conscious of inherent white superiority in myself.  Be action oriented.  Be humble.

Finally, I would say the whites in our world should run to this subject.  We need to get to the marrow of other people’s suffering.  We need to eradicate our ignorance.  Some politicians seem reptilian in nature regarding race.  What we have done to our President will not go unnoticed in the pages of history, and I think our deeds, our very thoughts will be recorded on that Chrysolite tablet where our spiritual doings or lack thereof are imprinted.

Almost 50 years later I look back and realize I had to learn about being white.  I must be conscious as to how I use my whiteness.  “Esther gets it,” a black friend said.  Another said, “Honey, you are black inside.”  We all know I am not.   Maybe I have some awareness, but racism and its impact can run on microscopic moments.   I am humbled by my African-American friends’ trust in me, but that doesn’t let me rest and not be part of solutions for justice in a world where institutionalized racism is rank, pernicious, and palpably evil.

 

 

 

 

9780804136631
ISBN 978-0-8041-3663-1

Thanks to Blogging for Books, I just finished, A Spy Among Friends – Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal.

Certainly a good read, one which incredulity spikes about every other page. Kim Philby was known as one of the greatest spies in the 20th Century. Ben Macintyre has written a suspenseful novel, and he has based tremendous psychological insight into personal papers and never-before-seen intelligence files.

I normally am not a reader of spies or World War II. Anyone who wants an intricate view of the range of events and plans and depth of intrigue occurring during World War II will not be disappointed.

It is a prodigious book, clear to follow, except for this reader who at times was boggled by the duplicity of so many spies, and who trusted whom. Basically, Kim Philby was a product of good schooling, elite circles, exclusive clubs. Sprinkle long night of drink and carousing and the cavorting wiles of spies, albeit, against or for, whatever country, and the book becomes a page turner.

Kim Philby was unknown to anyone close to him and duplicitous to all. Many were fooled by his being a double spy for England and the USSSR.

This reader lived in Russia, really Ukraine and Belarus for a 3 year period with some trips back to the states. We were there really with the concept of peace and promotion of a different concept of the oneness of humanity. We were ordinary citizens meeting the rank and file in the society, a society encased in shame. The people were grief stricken that they had been so deluded. Communist changed into business suits, the mafia kept on keeping on, and yet the society opened up.

The intricacies of the spy trade command a horrific attention. So much intrigue; so much mathematical callousness as far as ordinary people were concerned. Philby caused 100s to die, but he remained very British, very club oriented, very alcoholic. None of his wives really knew him. They thought they did. His children adored him. How would they know? He does come across in this view as a father who cared, but what a price he pays.

I ended my horrified reading wondering was it total power, just being ahead of the game, any game, and why not two competing powerful nations. How could he be so deluded by Communism, and Stalin? The egos and delusions of spy networks and the crumbling times we all live in.

At any rate, it was a compelling read, but shocking. My questions remain. Was Philby a sociopath? What compelled him? Such blind allegiance. What really motivated him?

As an aside, I’ve been watching Manhattan on PBS and the same power hungry intrigues are revealed as the story of the atom bomb unfolds. Obsession, ego and power – oh dear.

Once again, thanks Blogging for Books! great way to spread the word about good reads!

A Life Apart – L. Y. Marlow 9780307719393

A Life Apart

L. Y. Mar

This is a historical novel dealing with race, World War II, specifically Pearl Harbor, relationships of the black and white kind, and a love story. The title A Life Apart implies to the reader more than one meaning. The author is indeed a , and as she takes us deeper and deeper into the novel, complexities of other families, life of African-Americans, how they differ, and a coming to love. It’s gentle, and it’s a story about love, about skin color privilege and hatred, and human beings caught on the corners or jagged edges of history’s transitions. I’m from Boston, and went to secretarial school in Roxbury. I was born a little before World War II, and grew up in the suburbs of Boston. I was oblivious to racial prejudice until I came to California in 1992, discovered the Baha’i Faith and the concept of the oneness of humankind.This book is important. There are no strident notes or harsh retaliations to the way whites treated our fellow African-Americans (grievously, beyond measure), and the author writes about these times, which are exceedingly important. If we are to know and love each other, and realize skin color is an illusion, we have to know of our insides, our hurts, our triumphs, frailties and joys. A Life Apart is a compelling story, and it works on many levels. I definitely recommend it. I read this book because I signed up for Blogging for Books, a worthy adventure in itself. Otherwise I might have missed A Life Apart. My life is enriched because of reading this. I think readers will hear more from L. Y. Marlow. She is also author of Color Me Butterfly, which I intend to track down as soon as I finish this review. Kudos to this writer! Thanks again Blogging for Books!

EstherandElizabeth, 6 years old birthdayliz near end 1
Full of Days

I am old and full of days, and I know this because I get gift certificates in the mail, small bordered, blue; staccato messages to me approaching a distinctly marked age, as not like my twin’s age of 68 when her soul pierced the body’s shell and flew onward and upward, and when I had a feeling or wrote something like, “We will see each other once again -against the dark space and within the illumined lands of God, and we will remember our days as three year olds, sitting on tricycles of resplendent fire engine red and sturdy wheels, not yet aware of the rivets and tunnels we would face in our growth as twins and as souls, an intertwining of hate and love.

Fraternal twins. She from my father’s stock, the ones that produced fine men and maybe a sister or two who vaulted into business, and he, our father who was very much on earth, despaired at his life, the alcoholic wife, the kids like cartoon blocked figures with hair all over them, reminiscent of cave days, as witnessed by their teenage grunts from, “Where are you going?” and their toned and chanted response, emitting from their closed lips, “Out.” And indeed they went out.

The older girl, older in months; neighbors say they are all Irish twins, born within so many months of the other, tskk, tskkk. The older sister, yeah, you know the one who won the Margaret O’Brien Look Alike contest in Boston? Oh yeah her, she went out, out indeed.

She conceived a child as she melted into the arms of her teenage lover, the one who laughed and came from a poverty so cruel, and she was sent away to a home for pregnant girls, and all I can say is, “Thank God, she didn’t live in Ireland,” the Ireland of the Magdalene Sisters, in whose convent, young girls of impure type were housed in terror. For it was a time of sheer cement walls and slaves blending in, Irish girl slaves, those who might have had an impure thought or wrested themselves away from a pushy boy, or better yet, did the dirty deed and used the portion of her body referred to as “down there.”

Out also went the twins who by this time had finished throwing pitchforks and ice choppers at one another, but who had graduated to nasty, slime-ridden comments, of “I’m not sitting in the car, next to Esther,” or she, of the famous Hebrew Queen’s name, ran away from the Randall G. Morris Elementary black tarred school yard before Liz could cream her, she ran blocks and darted through the back door of the twelve- room house on Fernwood Road, in West Roxbury, and double locked the old brass locks against an avenging twin.

Not quite like the caves and battles of Beowulf and Grendel, but darn, didn’t Liz thrust her fist through a small paned window and reach down and unlock both locks and burst in and pin the curled up Esther into the coat rack of old winter coats and jackets?

And then that twin and her queen-named counterpart would, miraculously at twenty-one, be kind to one another. The catalyst for such kindness was a brain stem injury on behalf of our sports figure, Liz, of the mighty fist, which rendered her, well let’s just say, “Rendered her.” From those days of miraculous recovery, a mother had died, the father remarried, the sister gone and married; the brother disappearing and last heard was a used car salesman. We proceeded to fill the pages of our lives and we would always help each other out in a crisis. One day of cumulus clouds in Caldwell, Idaho, she passed on, at age 68 of cancer. The first bracket of the hyphenated, “tell-the-twins,” passed, piercing the body’s shell, her soul going on, leaving husks of giant blades of a sad, sad life, but at peace and loving her boys, one who would marry a pure soul and produce golden children, but that is another story.

The story is now 7-8 years later, I, Esther, who was born twelve minutes later, am approaching that demarcation known as “Full of pages of life,” of skin like parchment paper, but also of still ever sturdy hips.

And so this has turned out to be a prose poem, for what does the poet do? They pierce the state of the mundane and rise to astonishment as words from an unseen ocean spill and spill out onto the earth of one’s mind.

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.com

In view of the recent sufferings and the accompanying feelings of oneness I would like to offer the quote below from the Baha’i Writings, revealed by Baha’u’llah (whose name means the Glory of God) with hopes it will lighten hearts that are heavy. esther

CXXX: Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in…

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.

in-the-shadow-of-angkor-new-writing-from-cambodia-and-cambodian-america

Did you know there’s a type of bug or spider that runs along in the Iraqi desert along side the figure running, and this spider is vicious and has teeth and will give a deadly bite, but it hides in the shadows. I read a biography of a doctor’s time in Iraq, a time where her husband, a Marine also, stayed home with the twins (toddlers) and her mom and dad came in to do heavy duty grandparent duty. I can’t remember the title of the book, and given the multiplicity of books now emerging, can’t remember. Today, as never before, a plethora of memoir on the war; did I say war, I meant “wars” emerges, and I think all valid. It is time to give voice to a day, a moment, an hour, and those who do will cause me to think and feel, and say, “I’ll not forget.”

The pages are still blank as far as our future history goes. Did we go down that random vortex of unimaginable horror, like living In the Shadow of Angkor, written and edited by a friend Sharon May, and also Frank Stewart, and is a University of Hawaii Press publication?

Today as never before, did I say that? Today as never before, the forces of light and darkness duke it out, and how can one forget moments. Yes, my world is still as small as a canary-yellow and-white-cough-drop-colored paper bag, and a picture of a very fat, curly tailed pug, with stocky front legs resting on a small child’s red chair, but over these images lays a heaviness of what is happening out there; out beyond the insulation of our culture and those who romp and play on a Fantasy Island, like Pinocchio, and mercifully, there is always beauty in the world, and prose of horrors overcome, as in Angkor.

I am reminded of a weekend course on the foundation of education building a world society, and realizing we are in a paradigm shift, and it is uncomfortable, but current educational practices are based on getting all of us through a system as the Industrial Revolution, and that won’t work.

Now is the time for us to enable capacity and connection and authentic perceptions, and spiritual insight. We are children of a half light emerging into a global civilization which must consider that we are coming of age spiritually, and it’s time to throw down all shibboleths (is that a word) of difference and pulsate on hoping our tattered world will win the battle of old egos as in old dinosaurs.

But I am dangerously near preaching or lecturing, and the heart, anyone’s heart will go into heels dug into the ground, don’t push me into a way of thinking, but to end with a remembrance of a day I’ll not forget is to remember 9/11 after the airplanes’ destructive paths, before politicians’ games of power, a blank space, like the action potential of the cell before it hits the synapses, and a blank time where we were cylindrical in our unity and our caring for the other; we seemed to be enwrapped in columns of blue misty caring, and we were one – giving new meaning to prayer as a state of being.

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The toast, more than slightly burned and twisted, rose with her pale limpid hand, as Emily, a follower of Ron Paul, Edward Dash, Holley Holes and other limpid like creatures, spoke with as much force as she could emanate, all the while reclining in an odd twisted way on the mint green julep chaise lounge, redecorated since it birthed into the world of her grandmother Nenny, who never had a wrinkle in her life, and Emily thought, as her head with its faint gossamer curls of faded L’Oreal Red Fire Engine Red, and Nenny who never had a thought in her life, pondered, her Wet N’Wild Lipstick number 2002, the color that ran in Russian department stores for so long, cracked and a bit of dryness seeped into her part glossy, but dry and cracked upper lip, and she went on, pushed into the stale breeze of conversation about New Year’s Resolutions, and tilted her toast to the left and then to the right like a politician of years gone by, too ineffective to make a difference, as if difference mattered in these days of political slime and split, but still, the stillness in the air, the pallid air, stilled even more, to a microscopic silence and she said, “Out with the old and in with the new,” and her boyfriend Henry, all new as a boyfriend of 2 ½ days, caught the sailing crisps of bread parts in the air with both hands, and he said in an adoring voice that rose to a falsetto, or sounding like Alfred Deller in a Vivaldi piece, Ode to Joy or something like that, he quivered, “Out with the old and in with the new,” repeating his new love’s most spontaneous act, a second one indeed, if he could count, and he would love to count it, her slight ack moan slipping from her rouged and ruined mouth from their 7 minutes of passion the night before, consummated so quickly, so eloquently, so quietly, and then the crowd, looking more like Edward Gorey characters who just stepped off their one dimensional cover of the new Edward Gorey 2012 Calendar made up of twitches and twatches of woebegone Victorian figures, some full, and burley in sweaters and pondering thought with pen in right hand, left hand wanly holding a small blank square of paper, some in bold black, green and white chequered plaid, with the usual maiden with darkened Kohl eyes nearby, and a lady who looked very much like our beloved Emily, may we by now, the avid, sturdy, stalwart reader who has reached the end of this essay of small black marks, may we call her Em, and may we finish this piece as we hear all the voices Gorey and others, writers and wishes everywhere say, “My only resolution is to write more!”

imagesCA9U2AM5Dancing the Tunes

I am a woman of rich inner means, of hips which widen, and of feet which grow clumpier as the years go by.  The word “dance” does not call to me as it did in my younger years.

At twelve, my twin Liz climbed out of a tree, swung into the back door of our twelve- room house, and ran up stairs to our bedroom.  We shared.  She drew a line down the middle of the room.  No crossing.  Twins are like that.  But on Friday nights at 7.30, all the twelve year olds in our town dressed in either suits for the boys or dresses, stockings and shiny patent leather shoes for the girls.

Harry Raymond’s Dancing School, Friday night sessions ,were held weekly in a sagging huge yellow house with white trim on Centre Street in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, near the Shawmut Bank.  My father or mother drove us, and we sat in the back seat feeling like victims in a Black Mariah, wheels silently thwopping towards Harry’s.

Dressing for Harry’s was weekly penance.  Red silky type dresses; made by my mother, with tiny cloth buttons and Peter Pan Collars.  Under the dresses, the dreaded undershirt, and down further the garter belts which were like magnets to the seamed beige stockings we reluctantly hauled over our young girl thighs.

This was a mournful time for us; a time we didn’t fight, too locked into the mutual tragedy of garter belts – long floppy rubberized stretchy thin bands with hooks on the end.  The clips at the end were like a snake’s mouth – open, slide over nylon stocking, close, and clip, a metal slider of small proportions would pull the length of the strips tight.  Ugh.  A beginning rite of passage where I would learn women’s looks are for pleasing, pleasing men.  Am I okay?  All right, as in are my seams straight?  Liz and I were poised on the edge of some type of womanhood, reluctantly brought into the fold of How Do I Look, Does This Please?  Will He Like Me?

Once left off on the curb, we clumped up beat up wide stairs next to a rickety white banister and head towards the powder room.  Jannie Cleary with her curly red hair seemed unfazed.  I wondered if she wore a bra, maybe that’s why she seemed to carry an aura of confidence. “She likes boys,” Liz whispered to me with a downward twist of her mouth.

We filed out and sat on chairs in a huge circle around the edges of the ballroom.  We sat like cows watching Harry Raymond, a thin double for Liberace, glide across the floor, moving by each young girl saying, “Girls’ legs are meant to be closed.”  Then, each week he’d tap Liz’s ankles with his slim black and gold cane, and say, “Ladies do not sit with their legs apart,” because Liz always sat as if ready to spring upon a horse and ride off into some elusive West.

First we learned the Fox Trot, l clump, 2 clump, 3 clump, sway together 4.  During the week at Ruthie Anderson’s house, we danced the fox trot with each other.  Ruthie was Protestant, and we were Roman Catholic.  Our mothers were best friends – daring in a world of people who kept to their own.

Then we learned the waltz – l, 2, 3 – l, 2, 3, feet stomped instead of slid  on the old wooden floor as we stood like fledgling dancers auditioning for a musical.  Eventually we sweated through the waltz.

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Girls had to sit and wait to be asked to dance. The boys liked Liz; she was cute and sporty.  I sat there like a female Prince Valiant, a large red square of silk, my hair a dark clump of blunt and my bangs sort of straight, but not really.  My throat filled with doubt, as one by one, the seats around me emptied.  Finally after thinking I’ll just put my throat on a hook, tall, small-headed, round-chinned Holland Morgan stood silently before me.  His brown eyes questioned me, and his right eyebrow went up as in a “why not,” and we wordlessly cobbled our dancing feet together..  A fox trot.  Step, Step, Step and Step; learning to hoof in a measured square to a musical beat.

Then, as if Zeus threw a thunderbolt into my mouth, I heard myself motor mouthing about dogs, our once poodle who died.  Holland knew of this sad event.  I spoke droolingly of our beige non-altruistic pug and our copper-toned farting boxer.  Words poured out of my mouth like an overfill of chicklets spilling out..  I don’t remember his response.

Years later, when I was twenty, I met Holland again.  He was a friend of my step-brother.  I fell in love with him because of his writing.  He called me Cynthia one winter night as we walked over to Howard Johnson’s for coffee in Kenmore Square, and I was shattered.  He was at Dartmouth, and I worked down on State Street for attorneys.  I lived with roommates near the back of Fenway Park, near Kenmore Square.

I still dream of Kenmore Square because my mother died one icy day in our apartment on Bay State Road. Old issues maybe, or deep wounds, not all caught up by the therapist’s dustbuster.   Liz and I were seventeen.  We had a pug and a boxer, and Liz and I would walk them across Storrow Drive, and walk by the river, the wind whipping through us in the winter.  It was a good day when I realized, after Holland, after Bob, after blah, blah, I wanted what they had:  words, empowerment, not to be lost.  I was a dance in progress, and it’s taken a long time to become myself.  I no longer wear stockings with seams, although they are coming back, and I’m glad that time period is over.  Some people want to go back when times were good.  Good for whom, I might ask.  Then I think it’s all some sort of a dance – this life – a dance indeed.

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I sit here on the anniversary of my marriage to my husband who is now 78, and I say to my 74-year-old self, “Self, did you think 27 years ago you’d be sitting here contemplating verbs and old age and giving out sage advice, sage being not only a spice?

I vividly remember our wedding, my dusty pink Laise Adser dress with pastel green nubby cloak with hood, like Meryl Streep wore in the French Lieutenant’s Woman. Bill and I fit like Bogie & Bacall, like bookends of similar but different backgrounds. We remember radio. We were Catholic. We were from the right-hand side of the United States, and we both love pug dogs. Is this the basis of a spiritual relationship? It is.

There’s more this story – how I met him after he had been a Baha’i for two weeks; how I had to go back to being a legal secretary, having left my cubicle four years earlier to return to college; how we had income which was good in the beginning, and how I just before I met him I made the insane decision to buy a radio for my car. We met, we laughed, we matched, and in a dream one night our DNA code swirled around us in figure 8’s. That’s what I call, “It’s a sign.” Yeah, we did a lot of that too.
I made a list of qualities wanted in my unseen mate, and this list fell out of a book a year after we were married. Everything on this long narrow list, “Sensitive, spiritual, humor,” was there – I turned to him waiving the list of scribbled hopes, and said, “I forgot to put tall,” but if so, I wouldn’t have married my husband who is about an inch shorter than I.
It’s been an action packed life. We moved seventeen different times. I had health issues which I’ll speak of at 80 or so. We traveled across Russia, visited Siberia, and lived in Ukraine and Belarus, before, during and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. We also lived with my second mother-in-law who told me one day, “You carry the heavy stuff for him,” and now it is the day of our 27th anniversary.

I sit here with a hiatal hernia, and a suspiciously ingrown toe. I am in my red and black PJs – contemplating words used for aging. Baby Boomers take note. “Use strong verbs – might I suggest “lurch” and “cope.”

My marriage, and a plethora of other happenings, healed me, and now we both face the final frontier. I finally have self-acceptance and self-appreciation, except for an occasional Thursday of black condemning thoughts. It is a time of great inner wisdom and also a time when my body becomes like an old truck spending more time in repair. An ashtray falls out, gets fixed and doors fall off. The unknown is with us every night when our sliding door shuts. Allergies descend upon my husband at every weather change, and it feels like the English Channel roars through my ears, until I turn and rub his back to his snuff, snuff, cough, cough away. I am like someone spraying the end of the contents of the Raid Can.

Again it is also surviving a twin’s passing first if you want to know, and it’s being grateful for skin that looks young thanks to a friend’s gift of Clarins. It’s having a pool house with very low rent and landlord kindness. It was having heart and gall bladder surgery within days of each other and surgeons writing off their fees, but not telling me. It’s standing up to my last breath for the oneness of humankind, and always helping someone every day. It’s living beyond the fringe and not having 401K’s and not giving a rat’s ass, but rather living in a quirky world where status is a blind removed from my mind knowing wealth follows poverty and poverty follows wealth , and I think of the quote, “ O Children of Dust – Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor …” and even when my cash flow is minimal, I listen.

It’s having lingering fears in a dark hour at night, when I get up to pee and hope when I am very old, I will not be a burden, and I don’t want my family to take care of me, because I’ve lived with two mother-in-laws. It doesn’t work very well.

It’s every day having something slow me down, feeling crappola, but then again getting up, like a Russian Matroishka doll who bops up repeatedly after falling, and like a Russian Woman who is strong, and other women also, it’s seeing the beauty in so many faces, and loving the nobility among the anonymous. It’s having two themes fascinate me – man’s humanity to man and man’s inhumanity to man. I don’t mind dying, it’s the getting there, and I want to have integrity and nobility. So far I’ve managed to have dignity in the extreme times of my life, but one never knows his or her ending. It’s also having great kids, family, grandchildren and friends.

It’s living with more soul than body, and not ganging up on myself for having a peanut butter sandwich every morning for breakfast, and drinking lemonade, a good kidney stone prevention. It’s always turned towards something greater, a Divine Presence, and yet being willing to throw my whole being over a cliff for the wellbeing of the world.. It’s always learning, always seeing the wisdom in all things, no longer have shoulders tense up about every issue on earth.

Moderation to some degree has come to me. Trust, like surfing the opaque waves, is there also, but I have to guard this feeling until my last breath, and maybe one silent no breath. It is a life of purpose and humility with a whispered hope that I’ve left the world a little brighter.

I just spent one hour trying to get a Wordle on to my blog, my next adventure.
AM GOING WORD FISHING THROUGH DECEMBER 12, and have to wean myself off Facebook, my Blog, others blogs. I’m teaching 4 classes at moment; subject to change. I started a novel during Nano Wrimo month, and an opportunity to work on it further calls me. I’ll miss everyone, but it has to be done.

<Wordfishing at the Casbar, Old Town words, rainer maria rilke, pug dogs, Boston, whitey bulgher, lost loves, cubicle despair, the many lives of Baby Cakes Nelson, life reviews, Ross Dress For Less, destiny smeshtiny, let go, unemployed, Bubba, Bumpa, pug dogs, forces of light and darkness, 4 pound baby, oneness, being a Virgo, twin, pain, health, relationships, aaargh relationships, hot tears, successful candidates, prey, cabby hats, FISHINGFORWORDS

gotta get to this

Funny.  From the blog Embracing Homelessness – this person is an incredible writer, and I am privileged to know her.

eloquent, nonpartisan, well-considered response to corruption!

Mel's Madness

The headlines overwhelm me. The financial markets. The NATO rioting. Our own politicians’ posturing about the debt “crisis.” I have grown weary of the political forums on Facebook and elsewhere. The caricatures of Obama as monkey. The tar baby references. The Right tells gays they are abominations.  The left talks loudly about dildos in response. The Right blames Obama. The Left blames eight years of George W. Bush. For everything. Believe it or not Ayn Rand is STILL being talked about though she never had anything to say. Every year teens “discover” her and use her as an excuse to not clean their rooms or take the trash out or babysit their little brothers and sisters.

A pop singer’s nipple was exposed during Good Morning America. Why do I care? We spend $13 billion on porn every year in the United States and girls are sold into sexual slavery

View original post 2,428 more words

Stevenleocampbell.wordpress.com-Thank you Steven!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He  gave out Reader Appreciation Awards to 7 people – My blog was one of them!

I Googled the award today, looking for the bright sunflower, and didn’t find its source. So Reader, this is what I think it is.  We bloggers, who run across out computer keys at night when the earth sleeps, play word games in the velvet ether of the night, toss out sorrows, hug happiness, create metaphoric mountains and potholes, and all the while race towards the world and each other in a prepublishing, I’m going to publish this tomorrow on WordPress!  We all fall into this category.  We who blog.  Those who read blogs.  Both, all, none, many.

The rules of the Reader Appreciation Award:

1. Include the award logo somewhere in your blog – check center photo above.  Ta da!!

2. Answer 10 questions (listed below) for fun if you want to.

3. Nominate 6 or 10 to 12 blogs you enjoy

4.  Provide the links to these blogs and let them know they’ve been nominated

5.  Provide a link to the blogger(s) who nominated you —- http://stevenleocampbell.wordpress.com

10 Questions and my answers for the Reader Appreciation Award

1.  What is your favorite color?

The color of the current book I am reading, or the wine colored cover of Gleanings, Baha’i Writings.

2. What is your favorite animal – no need for me to answer; everyone who reads this post will roar back.  Pug Dogs.

3.  What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Lemonade, don’t drink Alcohol

4.  Facebook or Twitter

FB, my home away from home, the entrace to the train station called my life!

5.  Favorite patterns?

Pattern of oneness and connectedness in relations throughout the globe.

6.  Do you prefer getting or giving presents?

Giving, giving.

7.  Favorite number?

Nine (9)

8.  Favorite day of  the week?

Wednesday

9.  Favorite flower?

Purple Iris

10.  What is your passion?

Giving people opportunities to discover and/or develop their voice – teaching creative writing.

My 8 nominations for the Reader Appreciation Award:

http://normanpickles.blogspot.com/  – Pugs, pugs, and more pugs.  Enchanting when the heart is orphaned      and one’s physical space not allowed this type of 4 legged package of      entitlement.

http://pagesforsmallwages.wordpress.com/  Gwendolyn McIntyre – perceptions on      writing, life, things that go bump, keep the writer going!

http://www.bahaithought.com   Phillipe Copeland is author of the blog, “Baha’i Thought” which offers commentary on issues of religion, society, and culture based on the teachings of the Baha’i Faith.

http://mrslittlejeans.blogspot.com/,      mrslittlejeans is a scientist and offers enchanting views of her two      felines, photographs of same, and a sharing of mystic perceptions.

http://writingasasacredpath.blogspot.com/   Jill Jepson – I have her book, the back cover of which reads in part, “Discover the Soul of Writing,” writing medications, prompts, rituals, exercises all drawn from traditions of Buddhist monks, Navajo storytellers, and much more.

.http://www.studiomorran.com/  Studio Morran, dogs, crafts, art, visual whimsy!

http://gerrygwilson.com/about/  A published writer, writing teacher of note, an encourager to all

http://whimsygizmo.wordpress.com/  prolific poet, enchantress with words …

http://wordrustling.wordpress.com/  metaphors and smiles – enchanting poetry-Hannah Gosselin

http://swthink.blogspot.com/  so whatcha think  – Brooke Ryter – a book, an impact, soon to be revealed – check it out.

http://arachnoidcystsupport.blogspot.com 

Maria McCutchen has written a book, It’s All in Your Head, and I think her story should be widely read.  I’ll show image. I got my book at Alibris, an online bookstore, which sometimes has prices less than Amazon.  At any price, this is an important book.

http://lublenok.blogspot.com/  Leonid’s World  is the name of his blog.  We met him inMinsk when we gave English Club sessions.  He’s fascinating, innovative, and dear, and he speaks of past history and his family.

Love and best wishes to all.

Monday Discovery: Esther Bradley-DeTally.

l  a n g u a g e  a f t e r  t h e  1 0 0  y e a r  w a r

 

The Nouns were in control in the neighborhood of Verbiage.

Adjectives were forced to end their 100 Year War.

This war was known as the Great War of Planet Earth in the Days of Rhetoric Only.

Verbiage, like a fireplace bellows of yesteryear,

had simply exhausted its wheeze and could no longer

control the Nation.

Politicians would no longer be described adjectively.

Thus, our President could be described by the Press as, “A   

man whose eyes narrowed when a syllabic word entered the

toy store of his mind; a man whose Rubber Ducky drowned

when his bath water became higher than what is necessary for

the average leader; or, a man who could bob eternally on the

Ocean of Platitude.”

This leader called up his country’s Reserve Marines again.

These Marines were sent to a land which resembled a cannon

to which they would become fodder. They would obey their

mission, climb into these cannons, and be shot out over the

land of buildings which no longer resembled buildings.

Naught would be seen but structures of rubble which resembled

cookies crumbled in the hand of a monster as tall as the

sky.

The Congress would not be allowed to use descriptions

which included the much abused adjective. This caused some

consternation, for our Congress knew of the paucity of adverbs

when running for election. The Congress member

would no longer be able to crawl into that vat of adjectives

filled with words guaranteed to portray an individual Congress

person righteously and puffily. These adjectives, I might

add, are thrown carelessly into this vat, like screen plays in

Los Angeles, like potato chips in a Lays truck which had escaped

from their Bag Containers.

The Nouns issued an edict: “Stick to the Facts, Jack.

Straight Facts for a Straight Land,” a land which had lived adjectivally

and splendiferously for too long, thereby wreaking

an ecological knowledge gap of a very long five years. Politicians

had appeared on the NewsHour program with Jim

Lehrer, and on what used to be Peter Jennings’s NewsHour,

and on Tim Russert, to reveal Sunday after Sunday (or was it

Monday after Monday?) narrow gamboling minds and nuances

of the political dance. These very same politicians verbally

trolled linguistically along to thinly expand titles such as

“Theatre of Operation,” “War Games” and, last but not least,

the most abused noun in the world, Democracy—Democracy

became a gutted, slutty word, misused and stretched like

hardened taffy in a candy machine after the summer crowd

had gone home.

A rape of the Nouns had occurred. What choice did the

Nouns have but to take over the Nation? They cried out,

“Aack, aack, aack! No more.”

And so as this tale is difficultly told, but blessed for its attempts,

all the while failing in adverbial splendor, time will tell how language

controlled its environment so that facts and integrity might emerge again

 children of the world forget that “Truthfulness is the foundation

of all human virtues” (Ruhi Book 1 – Reflections on the Life of the Spirit)

Lynne Hippler and I participated in a remote viewing/healing process about a week ago, on me, the happy subject.  What follows will dip into that type of therapy. Perhaps I should mention, I was a 4 pound baby, had a heart quirk (2 aortic valve openings, instead of 3) which was discovered when I was 53 (smile).  I have done traditional and alternative healing for years.  First one in family to get the childhood diseases, had Mono twice, and when 42, returning to the University, had Epstein Barr Virus, which the medical profession didn’t acknowledge.  What followed were hilarious essays way after the fact.  I was single mom with obstreperous but wonderful young boy, living on campus with him, going to school, hanging in.  I had sold everything to go back to school.  Immune system plague followed me for years.  It liked me, what can I say.  Went to Russia/Ukraine/Belarus, a dip in Siberia.  Home, stenosis of aortic valve, and more, too much to mention.  Health returns through surgery, antidepressents, a good psychiatrist, rolfing, walking, fresh air of Seattle, and a loving husband.  I have had other sagas, but that’s for another day.  So I am pretty much like an old engine which keeps on chugging, and help is found in varied ways.  Below is one of these ways.  I hope you enjoy.

Esther:  You read my Without A Net, a Sojourn in Russia and emailed me.  It turns out we have mutual friends.  I offered to send you my second book You Carry the Heavy Stuff, and then you said you would like to thank me for the book by giving me a remote treatment from where you live, in Norway. Mind you, I am in Pasadena. (Readers:  I have lung and heart stuff, and toot around like a good used truck).Of course I said yes because I’ve done a lot of body work and this intrigued me.

Esther:  Do you have a definition of your practice?

 Lynne:  I give alternative treatments, both onsite and remote.  I’m a Registered Nurse and Zone Therapist, and I’ve helped to form The Norwegian Healer Association and was a member of their first board. 

Lynne: I’ve worked since 1984 in the alternative field.  The methods I use are:  Zone Therapy, Healing, Nutritional Counseling, Energy Balancing, Caring and Counseling Conversation, Electric Acupuncture, Stones and Crystals, Affirmations and Visualizations, Bach Flower Remedies, and Remote Treatments.

 Esther:  You also give remote treatments for animals don’t you?

Lynne:  My intention is to help people and animals to get balanced and feel better.

Esther: I had a Rolfer who practiced on horses.  I called him “Mr. Thumb” because he had so much strength in his hands.  I was Rolfed months after open heart surgery, and it was exceedingly helpful.

Lynne:  Yes, Rolfing has a lot to offer.

Esther:  How did you get started in this type of practice?

Lynne:  It all started when I was working as a nurse in a hospital in Hammerfest,  Norway.  One day, while assisting a patient into a wheelchair, I injured my back.  I had difficulty sitting for a while, and while I was attending my Saami language class (the Saamis are the indigenous peoples of the North Calotte), a friend sitting next to me said, “You should contact my sister.  She’s the only Zone Therapist in Finnmark (the most northern part of Norway).  I did, and after six treatments, I was much improved.  Soon after this I moved to the eastern part of Finnmark to Tana.

While there, I started having problems with my stomach and was sent to the hospital three times.  While in the hospital, I had the good fortune of getting acquainted with a resident doctor who got to know me and then told me to, “Go home and heal yourself.”  And, I did.  Still, I knew that I didn’t know enough, and in fact hardly knew anything at all.  So I contacted the Zone Therapist who lived inHammerfestand said I wanted to become a Z.T.  I asked where she had gone to school.  She gave me the name of her instructor and the school in Oslo.  I applied and was admitted to a 2-year course of study.  I graduated in 1986.  During that time I also learned how to use the pendulum (The pendulum measures energy, i.e. you place it over an area and note which direction it rotates and how large the circle is. This tells you about the energy of the object).  My instructor said, “You have warm hands.  My instructor was also a homeopath, so we learned about homeopathy too.

Esther:  Do you practice this inNorway?

Lynne:  Yes I do, as well in Sweden, Finland, and the States when I am visiting in those countries, or if people want a remote treatment.

Esther:  What are your other interests, professions?

Lynne:  I received a B.S. degree from the University Of  Iowa (USA) in Therapeutic Recreation in 1966.  During my years inEurope I became a Registered Nurse and a Zone Therapist, as well as studied various other forms of alternative treatment.  I was also a member of the first board for The Norwegian Healer Association.

Esther:  Can you give the reader an image or two of what you experience when you view someone from afar? 

Lynne:  When I am doing a remote treatment, I need it to be quiet around me.  I try to create a spiritual atmosphere, and I want to be open to the guidance that comes to me. 

Esther:  I now know they should be lying down quietly, just breathing in and out, calm, and no disturbances.  I tweaked that a bit, but was in a good tranquil space.

Lynne:  Yes.  It is important to have a quiet atmosphere around the person receiving the treatment. It’s also very important that there are no electrical devices close by, i.e., TV, radio, microwave, computer, etc.  They can emit electrical energy that gets in the way of what I am trying to do.  For the same reason, it is important not to eat or drink during the treatment, because the body should be free to receive what is happening and not have other duties to take care of, i.e. if you are giving it food or drink to deal with.

Esther: So take us down the reader path of remote viewing, healing from afar. 

Lynne:   In addition to what I said above, I try to be as open as possible to receive the necessary guidance and then do what seems right. Nothing is planned ahead of time. At the end of the treatment I use muscle testing (kinesiology) to test if there are any affirmations, exercises, diets, etc. that would be helpful to assist in “getting balanced and feeling better”. These are sent in an email to the person who received the treatment. I also encourage people to contact me by email if they have any questions or comments.

Esther: You may use me as an example if you wish.

Lynne:   I don’t discuss what I specifically do during any treatment.

Esther:  Why are you in Norway?

Lynne:   That’s a long story…..The short version is that I decided to move toFinland in 1973, after having become a Baha’i in 1971. At the time I had never been out of North America and I felt there was a lot out there in the world that I could do and experience and many friends out there waiting to be met.

I lived in Finland from 1973-1980, graduating from nurses’ school in 1980. Things worked out in such a way that I moved to Norwayafter I graduated, because some friends suggested that I might like to live in Norway. So, I moved. I have always been open to new and different ways to do things, etc.

I have been a Norwegian citizen since 1985.

Esther:  What are your hopes for the future?

Lynne:  I very much enjoy living in Norway.  It is my home now, so I can’t imagine moving to another country. As far as how I live the rest of my life, I hope I can be useful to others as long as I can, in whatever ways I can, and to enjoy life to the fullest!

Esther: Any other comments?

Lynne:  I’m glad that I bought your first book, Without a Net: A Sojourn in Russia.  That’s why I got in touch with you, and now here I am sharing with others through you. Very interesting how things work out, isn’t it?

Esther:  What other types of work do you do?

I also do translations from Norwegian to English, in case that is of interest to anyone. While I was in the States from 1996-2006 I did some work with genealogy – letters and books that people, originally from Norway, wanted translated.

If people would like to contact me, here is my website: http://www.behandlingsplassen.no.

Lynne:  Below is the text of the email I send out to people who are interested in a remote treatment:

This is how my remote treatments work:

We agree what day and time of day we will have the treatment.

($XX USD or $XX CD is deposited into my account.

You send me an email when this has been done, and then I do the remote treatment at the agreed upon time. Most people experience that it is best to be quiet during the treatment,

i.e. to lie down, just like you would during a physical treatment.

Please turn off computers, radios, TV’s, etc. The treatment lasts one hour.

Usually there are some treatment suggestions I have after the treatment,

and I will email those to you.

If you have any questions or comments, please email those to me: Lynnehi9@live.com

My bank account in Washington Mutual Bank/Chase,Palm Desert,

California is: 440 2088 060.

Thank-you for your interest,

Lynne Hippler

Jon Klæbosv. 1 C

8019 Bodø

Norge/Norway

47 786-03744

Website:   www.behandlingsplassen.no

(Reader, I experienced a state of calm, but towards the end of my session, I felt enormous fatigue.  Her advice to me was right on, and I might add, exceedingly helpful.  Healing is a process, and I’m glad I was part of this process.

an odyseey harrowing and yet incredible

a journey of illness, misdiagnosis, conundrums and courage

Maria McCutchen, a stay-at-home mother with two young children and a tight schedule, couldn’t find the dairy section of her local supermarket one day.  After the usual questions women ask themselves, about stress, being over tired, or I’m imagining this, she asked her husband one night, “Squeeze my head,” and he does.

Her head ached, and her head also felt like a water balloon pumped full of water, a sense of building pressure.  He wrapped his hands around her head, and he squeezed.  Her thoughts became more clear, and she felt better.  He stopped and a feeling of flood water filled her skull, and her brain fog returned.

She consulted a mild, quiet and pleasant doctor.  He will be the first of many.  She answered the questions, and then follows a routine she will learn by heart:  “Stick your tongue out, smile, hold your hands out in front of you like you’re carrying a pizza and close your eyes.”  Ah, and she also walked across the floor of his miniscule office. Long story short, after an MRI, and a call the very next day, “We see something,” the doctor’s voice matter-of-fact, offering no more or no less says, “I need you to come in.”

She had a cisterna magna, a posterior fossa arachnoid cyst. But the doctor was not concerned, words such as “benign” and “unremarkable” floated over her head.  Moments later, a handshake, and a “You’re fine,” because you see most people are born with type of cyst and they don’t cause problems.  She returned home wondering, what if I’m the exception?  No time for that.  Her husband lost his job.  Their insurance will run out.

Fast forward to  a harrowing pain-filled drive to live in New Mexico, episodic endurance of brain tests done incorrectly, dismissal of her symptoms, suspicion by doctors and blatant repudiation of her illness.  Lace that in with family concern, trying to raise 2 kids, keep a family together, and obliterating pain, agony, nausea, you name it, but then, she finally finds a doctor in Arizona.  He will recommend brain surgery.  the tests before, during and after are trauma filled and painful, and there will be trouble in River City after her brain surgery.  But still she reassured herself that she’s in the hands of a good neurosurgeon specialist in neurology in Arizona.  She must, however, return to New Mexico.  More happened.

I sat down after 7 o’clock last night to read this book.  I got up at 12.30 noting, “I’m up too late again,” but I had finished the book.  I didn’t move.  I sat on my black leather couch in our small pool house turning page after page.

The unsaid around her struggles reveals a very courageous, loving, gutsy woman in extreme pain, with great times of hopeless and yet a warrior spirit.  That makes a noble being in my book.

Her account is well written.  I think this book should go viral.  Yeah, I just broadened my blog base, and here I am using trendy terms, go viral, but the bloggers and FBers out there will know.

It’s All in Your Head – Maria McCutchen.  Copyright (c), Tate Publishing, LLC.

http://www.creativewritenow.com

280 pages – $15.99 (paperback)
$9.99 (digital download)

from You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Lulu.com/Amazon, the author’s garage….. ISBN 978-0-557-20933-0-essays, poetry, observations from a twin’s dying to cubicle despair in a corporate world with voices of buoyant pathos, mystical reverence – you catch my drift

Why do I write?  Like now, when the dishes sit orphaned in the kitchen sink because I, the washer, am typing, sharing, breathing, living, putting off the inevitable, because once a long time ago, I was so hurt, I couldn’t breathe.  I carried that hurt with me forever, until I found out that sensitivity is the price and the prize for being able to write, for being able to read people, to Braille the unsaid.  I write to a lady in prison, who said “I liked a phrase you wrote, “The language of God is a tear running down someone’s cheek.”

I write because I read, insatiably, gobbling, inhaling, filling myself with the human condition; splat on the floor some days, like a big old squishy bug, flattened, dead, its body swept up by old straws on a broom; and then I write to show the magic of St. Theresa’s Snow Queen Altar when I was young, and how everything looked like a wedding cake, and I write to tell how when I was younger, and so needy I could have impaled myself on a stake wide and big, sort of like a meta-letter holder, except the stake would run through my insatiably needy heart, and a note on my back would read “loves too much,” and that was before the book Women Who Love Too Much.

I write because I have gone beyond Medieval Posts puncturing my despair and loneliness and have decided Men Who Love too Much is here too.  Maybe we all love too much, and I write because maybe none of us love too much, for we are told by images in advertising, that we should be thin, jaded in the eyes, like the look of models for Vogue or whatever, who probably could shoot up heroin on their lunch hours, and because despair is trendy and nihilism and materialism and not giving a damn might be the language of the hour.  But then there is the lonely, little, big, young, old, trembling, brassy, you-catch-my-drift-writer who writes because he or she must, and words have a visceral effect upon her, him, the dog, the surrounding room.  I write of hopes for the world, and a good ham sandwich or description thereof on a sour dough roll, with slabs of mayo, and a bed of lettuce, and curled pink ham,  ready to go into someone’s mouth which is opened to the size of half a ladder, is  a good thing, a good description.

What this nation needs is a good ham sandwich and a Pepsi without the aspartame and some down to honest to goodness honesty that is the natural condition to communicate, to be real, to be afraid of bugs in knotty pine walls when the walls come alive at night; to watch an elderly blind woman, clutch the corners of her walker, take a breath and remain a sweet sweet spirit, knowing that her condition, her tests are the divinely calibrated kind, even though trucks have run over her emotionally, and I write to tell of the anonymous amongst us, the bravery, the small acts of courage, kindness in this nation where the world is narcissistically checking its derriere in the mirror, and no one or precious few are listening to the “midnight sighing of the poor,” and where we must have immense courage and speak up; talk, yeah, walk the talk, be it; speak up; tell future generations who we were, wanted to be, became anyhow and our hopes for the future; because someday we will all be sensitive, spiritually inclined, aware of our oneness,  and otherness will go on a back shelf like Twinkies, no longer approved of by the American Heart Association, and writing will be celebrated by hoots and hollers and a piping or two from a medieval horn or Siberian throat, and the arts will have a way of grabbing our soul’s innards and carrying us through the day.  These are some of the reasons I write, but there are others, but today is Wednesday and those are my Wednesday’s writing reasons.

A harmonica

We sit inside a lodge near Lake Baikal in Siberia. It is 1990 and all the young people are going off onto a boat, where they will come back and say with a crooked grin, “We had to eat the raw fish lunch.”

Leslie, myself and a few others have stayed behind, feeling a bit ragged in a large hunting lodge, alone, empty time, tired.   I have an enormous sore throat.  I feel hot red fur going from the back of my throat down to the back of my ankles.  Well, yes I do exaggerate.  But this is coupled with the fact we are in the middle of nowhere, in the tundra maybe that’s what it’s called.”  I will later incur a toe plague which will itch interminably as we wait at the Ulan Ude Airport, and I will be hustled away to some hallway in an inner corridor and a Russian lady with white hat and lab coat will apply green stuff on my entire foot liberally.  This green stuff will remain stuck on my whole foot for the length of the full 63 days on tour with a musical group in Siberia,Ukraine, i.e.,Kiev, L’Vov.  I was like an aging rock star, no voice, green feet, stuck in the back of the chorus.

In L’Vov, we will hear rumors of a revolution which will turn out to be two arguing forces yelling at one another in a downtown park, and where we have found a coffee place and gorgeous pastries, but that’s another story.

Leslie walks into my room, a large woman, with a very small harmonica.  She sits on my camp-type bed and plays,  Notes, small, steady and true fall into my heart.

A knock at our door.

We open it, and a doctor whom we met the previous week, on instinct stopped by to visit.  He gives me stuff for my throat, and I am agog by the fact that we are so isolated, in a strange city, trees, roads, fish and the vastness of Lake Baikal, and my very unspoken needs are met.  It’s like that.

Leslie plays and plays, and I settle into my bed, comforted.  She then says, ‘I had a dream last night.  We were all knots in a fisherman’s net.  When my knot went down because of something I did that was negative or plocha, Russian word for not so hot, bad, I pulled the whole net down a little.  Then she said, pausing to pipe out My Old Kentucky Home’s first few bars, “When my knot when up, I also brought up all the knots with me.  We are all knots in a fisherman’s net.”

Sore throat and all, those simple words, framed in amber notes of harmonic beauty, stayed in the inner lining of my soul.  And that’s the news from Lake Baikal this week, where the fish are full-bodied , the lake is wide and pure, and all the people in the lodge go home deepened and filled with the wonders of humanity.

Five weeks ago I had a steady Sorry Gnat blog following of about 7 people.  People know me a bit around the City of Pasadena.  A few months ago my Irish Mug was on the cover of Pasadena Weekly, because I teach writing at the Women’s Room in Pasadena, a workshop for volunteers, homeless women, and women in transition.

I also teach a couple of other  writing workshops in the Pasadena- mainly at the La Pintoresca Branch, and conduct a small one, for donation only, in the basement of Ten Thousand Villages, the most fantastic and aesthetically snappy fair trade store, located on Lake and California.

I felt stagnated by my inadequacies with my blog.  I had a major friend who has helped me a lot.  The fabulous Mizz V – shrunk my SorryGnat banner, twiddled and twaddled comments and headings appropriately, but she got a job, and I ordered 10-12 books from the library on Blogging.

I need to stretch I thought.  This is how I get creative thoughts.  They nudge me or pop up when my nose is halfway down my first cup of coffee in the morning.  Along came #@MNINB, and I was a hashtag apprentice, a Linkedin Babe, a Twitter type of gal.  I’m already on FB with people from around the world.  It helps to travel and live in other countries.

A few weeks ago someone sent The Versatile Blogger award, and I have still to figure out how to affix it to a margin type area so it hangs out in the neighborhoods of facts and figures about this writer who’s up there in age, but has the writing voice of a 35-year old.

This week, of which Monday seems a 100 years ago, 2 of the #MNINB recommended me for a Liebster because for the month of  April MNINB challenge a goodly amount of writers scattered from Massachusetts to Malta (not really) connected, with a spirit of oepn welcome and we cheer each other on.

So thank you to  Susan Craig, http://bysusancraig.wordpress.com/ .  She’s a scientist with a background in neurobiology, and studied effect of Alzheimer’s disease proteins on brain cells for over 10 years.  She currently teaches college biology.  Her favorite thing to do is write books about strong, smart women and men who love and appreciate them.  Her blog reveals true stories, science material, fiction, inspiration, and you name it.  Lucky us.  Lucky me, I subscribe to her blog.

And also, another blogger nominated me during the same week of 100 years:

Thank you Kristi Carver, http://kristicarver.blogspot.com/2012/05/  Kristi is a writer, small business owner, and Registered Nurse.  My twin was a Registered Nurse, and believe you me, I felt safe with her in my life. Thanks Kristi.  When you visit her blog, you fall into a heavenly photo of a lake in Colorado, and all tension slips away.  Colorado beauty, plus aspiring author, who is a blueberry fanatic, wine enthusiast, and constant reader, and a memoir addict.  Be still my heart.

Now, I pay it forward and nominate up to 5 blogs with less than 200 followers, and let these nominees know they’ve come under the Liebster shadow by leaving a comment on on of their posts.  I added the Liebster image, so I’m okay ont hat.

My nominees are:

http://kofeart.wordpress.com/category/doodles/ – what can I say? When the world gets too lurchy, self-absorb, insane, I click on Kofeart’s site and her art enchants me.  I hope you like it too!

http://blackwatertown.wordpress.com/ I don’t know if he has 1,000 followers, but he was one of my original 7 devotees, and he’s special in my blogger’s heart; funny, current, aware, and enchanting.

 The blog & the book – are by Paul Waters from Northern Ireland, writes, makes radio & telly shows, blogs and footer about with social media. Get in touch if you’d like me to do it for you, either here or at paulwaters99 at hotmail.com .  It’s not a kangaroo, it’s a horse’s head, which might be from The Godfather. The pith helmet however, definitely used to sit on the head of Spike Milligan.

http://krpooler.com/feed/ (Memoir Writers Blog)I need all the information on Memoirs.  I don’t know if she’s widely blogged, so I added her, because I learn from people like this blogger.

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-of-cake.html – okay, okay, the blog is about depression – but to a writer, artist, or whatever creative type, depression is a fantastic topic, and I am sure she heals herself by her work.  Her images are enchanting.  I adore her post.  What can I say, check it out!

http://swpulley.wordpress.com/ – Artist, writer, traveler, whimsy, E.B.-White-wit goes outer space, early member of CHPercolatorcoffeehouseforwriters.com, incredible friend, encourager, and lives next town over.  His Uneasy Rider posts are terrific.  He’s the reason why I write better than I used to after my first book, and why I published (he helped-bless his saintly soul) You Carry the Heavy Stuff, and is just all in all an enchanting wit and fried of both myself and Bill and so many others.

So that’s it. Now they check out The Liebster Award, and sally forth.  Gratitude to all who labor! Smile.

 

New York Times Best Seller

A Mostly True Memoir - a must read

So, you are ambling along in the library, and you check into your books on hold. Did I mention, I’m a memoir addict?

Okay, okay, the author? Jenny Lawson, and she’s called “The Bloggess,” Yep, I  ordered a book based on the cover, and of course that it’s a memoir. A white rat who looks in need of dental work, wears a stunning black velvet cape, with a red  silk lining.  His rat feet look like a DSW size 10? He has a white ruffled tutu type collar, the kind used in Medieval days, which if you want to know seem just like yesterday.

Okay, okay, the author? She’s called “The   Bloggess,” and did I meet her in my Name is Not Bob Blog April   challenge, MNINB?  I’m Not Bob April Challenge (MNINB) caused a loose knot in the sky, a gnarled rotting elbow on a tree, to fall on my neck and pressure  stress liquids into my brain.

I don’t know where I discovered Jenny Lawson, but  Reader, I read this book while slammed with the process of April Challenged which Not Bob gave to us bloggers, and I laughed, and chuckled, and snuffled   and snorted at midnight, in the quiet ambiance of our 2-room pool house of   the high ceilings and spillage of computer material, books, whatever.

Okay, sorry for the hot dogging, but The Bloggess,  aka Jenny Lawson, wrote “A Mostly True Memoir,” and that works for   me. She had me on the rat cover. I love the abandoned warrens of her mind,   picture Kafka-toned jokes as her thoughts trot ahead of us readers, twisting,   turning, always into belly laughing and chortles. She is snarky in deed, and   she got me on “folded vagina,” and claimed my heart and soul when I   discovered she had a Pug, Barnaby Jones.

The book is filled with huge metal chickens,   small creatures of the stuffed kind (her father was a crazy Taxidermist).

Reader, what is one to do with chapter titles   like, “Stabbed by Chicken,” “Hairless Rats Free for Kids   Only,” and an enchanting view of detachment from a bizarro childhood,  and interstitial laughter and views of a marriage with an wonderfully funny  man.

I read the first few pages and thought, maybe   I’m too old for this contemporary writing, but when I finished this book,   Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson’s writing claimed me.

My brother–in-law called me “The   Bro-ess,” and now I, the Broess, am on the devotee path of one Bloggess.   Kudos to all who write

Okay Reader, I’m going to jump right in.  http://hereismars.wordpress.com/  Mars recommended me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  \

I thanked her and waited in silence for an email to come over the horizon saying, “You’ve won our Versatile Blogger Award.”  It doesn’t work that way.

My them for the April Challenge, MNINB, “It doesn’t work that way.”

So today, I am going to try to do several things at once.  I am a superb multitasker, but whiz around so, I fall off the planet on a daily basis.  My call to action comes at the end.  First the award.

pathway to knowledge, wonder and humility

Thank you Mars, dear tender-aged Mars whose blithe spirit shines through and captures the poetic tendrils of my heart.   http://hereismars.wordpress.com/ (repeated it).  Select 15 bloggers I’ve recently discovered or have been following regularly.  I nominate the blogs below for the versatile blogger award. (Advice:  Google it, and following the instructions.)

http://swpulley.wordpress.com, long time friend, writer, lived in Bolivia and Chile 30 years, early member and continuing member of CHPercolatorCoffeeHouseFor Writers, and just one who you can roll around a floor laughing.

http://bahaithought.blogspot.com/

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/02/04/rainn-wilson-soulpancake/, I adore Soul Pancake, and use it in my writing classes at times.  I also gave the book Soul Pancake to my granddaughter.

http://www.bendsintheroad.com/  I have connected with blogger and will do online interview!

http://blackwatertown.wordpress.com      Northern Ireland, author and enchanting commentator; have been following him since he found me – how I don’t know.  I think I had 7 followers then.

http://elenagorokhova.com/  Author of Mountain of Crumbs, on Goodreads, Russian heritage. I lived in Ukraine and Belarus, spent some time in Moscow and Siberia, follow her blog on Goodreads.

http://creativityontheloose.com/   new; intriguing; she was in a class of mine

http://thekitchensgarden.wordpress.com/   a  new, refreshing blog about farm life, and well written.  Sagas, small s really about lambs being born, lamb bloat, the birds; all have names, and the blogger’s pieces undo the knot in the back of my neck from my social media strain.

http://kofegeek.wordpress.com/   Kofegeek is a silly geometer, a lover of coffee and fresh carrot

http://catewrites.wordpress.com/feed/   An exquisite young writer, working on her first novel – we meet once a week and share our writing through prompts!

http://mrslittlejeans.blogspot.com/2012/04/our-cat-boys-are-tree-huggers.html

friend, who is a scientist, a Baha’i and who writes enchanting, whimsical pieces.

http://livingbackstreet.blogspot.com, a very talented artists.  She had a stroke and since then she’s been producing the paintings you will see on her website.

http://holessence.wordpress.com/ one of the first bloggers to reach out at beginning of our MNINB April challenge, generous in spirit and knowledge

http://bridgetasher.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

terrifically informative re writing

http://debbieohi.com/home/atom.xml  I love her art

Okay this is for the lovely Mars – 7 things about myself

1.  I am 73, but have the writing voice of a 35 year old;p spunky, funny, deep, spiritual, whatever.

2.  I am a twin; fraternal, she died a few years ago.

3.  I am a member of the Baha’i Faith – since 1966 – was Catholic from Boston

4.  I am a pug dog devotee

5.  I have lived in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, Minsk, Belarus, spent time at Lake Baikal in Siberia, looked across borders to Mongolia, stared at the biggest fattest head of Lenin in Ulan Ude, Siberia, and crawled across railroad tracks and clung to barely the inside of a train in Eastern Ukraine, and last I road on a bus with our interpreter who thought beings from Mars would soon pop up, and where the bus driver stopped the bus, and said about the quacking goose in our midst, “Off with his head,” but of course, the goose lived, and we did too.

6.  I am a memoir addict, and started reading 4 books a day when I was 7; since then, my addiction has grown.

7.  I teach several writing workshops, one of which to homeless women, and they rock.

aargh

I definitely am a communications maven, the drawback being, I wasn’t savvy about social media management tools.  Last night, or night before, I read a whole page describing social media, but it would not enter my brain.  I think the Blog is my favorite (Psst, don’t tell the others). I’ve also added many blogs to follow, conquered LinkedIn, decided against shrinking my URL now, and am considering the blogs mentioned in MNINB, April 21.  I think I’m up to date, theory only.  I have to assimilate.

This morning I awakened thinking about Tweeting, Twittering, you catch my drift.

Before I started my blog, I communicated with a couple of hundred people around the world.  It helps to move a lot.  Al, my recent graduated from marketing at Yale, with his MBA, said, “You have to have a blog.”  I did.  I was grateful to my 2-3 followers; bless their stalwart qualities.

I blogged, FB’d, emailed everyone about everything.  I’ve written 2 books and can promote them well.  I teach writing, so there you go, more computer time.  I like FB.  I didn’t think Twitter could be used for ordinary computers.  I thought it was for cell phones, the kind of cellies my young friends carry, i.e., sleek black, red, buttons, icons, push here, push there.  I felt Twitter was the scoop-up-words type of thing, words from the top of my head.  I like to go deeper.  Too brief, too shallow, too Valley Girl almost.

LinkedIn repelled me.  I grew up in a family that regarded their status proudly. Boston was glutted with those families who know their social divides.  I didn’t retain these traditions.

So I thought, Linked-in-schminked-in.

Now, I’m a Twitterer, a FBer, definitely a blogger, an email, and a Yenta of sorts locally for people who look for work, relationships, just anything.  A new friend, in from India, said I’m like a local Google, except with a small g.

I write because I must.  I write to weave humor, pain, suffering, and I write about anything, from sow bugs and sorry gnats to concepts of racial justice, oneness,  and I glut Goodreads with my I’ve read or to read type of thing.  I subscribe to Powell’s on line, Book browse, locally, and on.

I am like an untrained Dalmatian.  I bound into life.  But, a concern I have, throwing aside professional need, is Twitter.

I wonder what sociologists will make of our current culture.  We have invisible lace webs over our heads that cartoon out – “didja eat,” “how bout them Dodgers,” and every other light through, phrase or sentence that settles tentatively on our brains.

What does this say indicate about attention span in the future?

I’m light, I’m funny, and I love whimsy and playing with words.  We do a lot of that on CHPercolatorcoffeehouseforwriters, and I guffaw on the floor over our hilarious exchanges.  But, I wonder, if we just go to a restaurant, casual, Marie Calender’s, Denny’s, Cocos, and see kids to adults to seniors.  A lot of heads are bent over their cell phones tweeting.

What about social skills?

We live in a society that is tremendously immediate.  Instant news.  “You heard it first at Blah Blah News.”  I can multitask without a blink of an eyelash.  But, can I sit down and study things, reflect at great length.  At this point in our world, is the speed of light winning, and reflection of the light losing?

I want quality.  I’m naturally speedy and can type rapidly.  But I want depth too.  It seems in the world today we inhale.  We inhale words, sounds, pressures, work, you name it.

A Hopi prophecy said, “When the world speeds up, slow down.”

That said.  I throw myself into my day and am enormously busy, but my relationships are fun and solid, and we form friendships in our writing circles, in my Baha’i life.

Sure, I’d like to be recognized; what writer wouldn’t.  But life is more than that.  I tell my students, we are reaching a time on the planet where arts should be everywhere, an Arts Rising type of thing.  The world is so busy, so full, why can’t we soar locally, forget the star system, a Kingdom of Names type of thing.  It’s all about bringing life and love and creativity to one another.  We don’t always need a stage.

I’d love and welcome other comments.  These are mine at the end of a busy Sunday.

Brandi’s prompts today or yesterday from http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CHPercolator/ and my response today:

Tell us why you became a part of this fabulous league of writers!
2. “According to the hard-hitting journalism of cosmos…”
3. Of all the skeletons in my closet, you are my favorite.

List your personal comfort foods, bonus points  if you tell us why each one is comforting.

————————————————————————————————————

One day, when the earth was young, and bubbling, in a cute kind of primordial way, I was sitting, driving, thinking, wondering, if I were anorexic and a fiction writer, could I, just possibly, write about all the skeletons in my closet and how I admired their paucity of flesh.
Exactly dear reader. They had no flesh.

Then I mulled over which type of comfort food I was in the mood to eat.  I couldn’t decide on either bowlS of Hagen Das vanilla ice cream with buckets of Hersey syrup or my old standby; that balled-up-in-a-fist peanut butter and jam sandwich on wheat if you please, but a friend, a writer from CHPercolator sent me an
email encouraging me. He encourages well, and to all I note.

Soooo, long story short, I had just finished several advanced writing classes with Jack Grapes,http://jackgrapes.com/grapes_approach.php –  superb writing workshop leader, and I had blasted out of the gate of Write Like You Talk, into Write Like You Sing, Absence of Field, Teeth and Mouth writing (feel your mouth and teeth going over syllables and words you produce), Write Like You Sing, (think Martin Luther King, or Dickens, “It was the best of times, the worst of times…”) literary, heavy on the multisyllabic, so reader, you catch my drift. Are you with me? (Straight talk) and I thought  why not try CHPercolatorCoffeehouseforwriters, and the rest is history. Two years later, enter into my crooked pathways of a brain, a book, You Carry the Heavy Stuff – (Lulu, Amazon, my house), a combination of writing styles, homage to Oakley Hall, Jack Grapes, and stuff from their workshops, plus my responses
to CHPerc prompts.

The lesson: A little prompt goes a long way.

So how do you feel about prompts?  Writing Workshops?  Do they help?

P.S. Open House to my blog, no visitor turned away, sign up, and we’ll dance together among the words.

 Graduation-address to graduates; fiction – Esther Bradley-DeTally (this was        

a CHPercolator prompt a while back)

Dear Graduates:

Here on the planet, at Earth School, in Dirt City, on the Blue  Marble, advice is going to be slung at you as you leave your  schooling behind.

I want to tell you a few things. One, fame is an illusion, because  it is just a mercurial moment in time and space where you are a star  who gleams brightly. We live in something called the Kingdom of Names which has to do with who we are, What We Wear, Who We Vote  For. Consider this, maybe that’s nice, necessary, and maybe unreal.  Think of a wider goal.

You are living in an era where you are World Citizens, and either through trial and struggle, or a great
consultative process, we the people of the nations, will go down a  road pointed towards the Oneness of Humanity, a Golden Age spoken of  by prophets and seers. We will do this by today’s standards, “Boys will be Boys” and blow up much of the planet, leaving a postage stamp  somewhere by an abandoned pond on which survivors will survive, and  abolish war forever. Better yet, we individually could all realize
our oneness and strive together for justice and unity.

Consider your body, it is a mass of teeming action and all parts work  to sustain the whole – homeostasis. Did you know that everything in  the spiritual world has an exact counterpart in the physical world?
We are carrying around a blue print for unity in diversity by the  mere fact of our bodies operating with intelligent rhythm.

As you leave this joyous commencement, you each will be handed a packet of instructions. They consist of:

A Hopi Message
A writing from Oriah Mountainkeeper
A Comment from Thomas Merton
A view from Etty Hillesum
An excerpt from the Baha’i Writings.

The rest is up to you.

Thank you for allowing me to deliver this commencement address in  record time, thus leaving no stone unturned.  I suggest you reflect  upon these handouts carefully in that some of you will be tested in
odd ways. Perhaps strangers will come to you and offer you the  chance of a lifetime, and the only way to accept this chance is to  leave with this stranger, thereby not saying goodbye to all you  love.

Some of you in the science fields will have to decide how you can contribute to the Earth’s Beleaguered Being, and come up with  solutions for the healing of the Earth’s Surface.

Mostly it is up to you to live your life independently, investigate truth independently, be just, know you are in the process of becoming your true selves, and finally, be aware, exceedingly aware, of the
exigencies of your time. In a phrase, power is no longer used for personal gain, but it is used for service.

May I suggest, service to humanity be your highest aim. May we all be blessed with your struggles and
attainment.

Handouts

Hopi Elder’s Message 2001 via email to me from friend in Ohio

To our fellow swimmers. There is a river flowing now very fast. It
is so great and swift, that there are those who will be afraid. They
will try to hold onto the shore; they will feel they are being torn
apart and will suffer greatly. Know that the river has its
destination. The Elders say that we must let go of the shore, push
off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our head
above the water. And we say, see who is there with you and
celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personal,
least of all ourselves, for the moment that we do, our Spiritual
growth and journey come to a halt. The time of the lone wolf is
over. Gather yourselves. Banish the word struggle from your
attitude and vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred
manner and in celebration. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Share this.
———–
Invitation
Oriah Mountain Dreamer
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will
risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure
of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to
know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have
been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without
moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can
dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your
fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic,
remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I
want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If
you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every
day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and
still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the
full moon, ‘Yes.’
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you
have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and
despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I
want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and
not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I
want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls
away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly
like the company you keep in the empty moments.
———–
“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like
to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in
detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for
the things I want to live for. Between those two answers you can
determine the identity of any person.”

Thomas Merton, from the Man in the Sycamore Tree

Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life, An entry dated August 20, 1941,
states:

“You must continue to take yourself seriously, you must remain your
own witness, marking well everything that happens in this world,
never shutting your eyes to reality. You must come to grips with
these terrible times, and try to find answers to the many questions
they pose. And perhaps the answers will help not only yourself but
also others.”

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of
the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and
friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich,
an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of
thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be
unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto
them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the
thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the
victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all
thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a
tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a
guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the
countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of
the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind,
an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of
virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of
knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of
wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit
upon the tree of humility (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings
of Baha’u’llah, p. 285)

http://www.bahai.us/

Somewhere down in San Diego, away in some hilly area, a retreat happened today, a women’s yearly retreat.  Last year they asked me to write a meditation for the last day, and I did.  They liked it.  They asked the same this year and suggested the title of Building Community.  Reader, frankly I was stuck.  I was stuck until I shared with my writing students how stuck I was, and the following images came to me of getting up, getting dressed, knitting, knitting friendships.  I hope you like it.  It is mostly Baha’i related, but I never write to just Baha’is, but rather, write to people – their inner essence, for we are all connected.

Building community. Esther Bradley-DeTally for the women who gather at retreat –Spring, 2012.

Building Community

 Oh dear, that heavy block-like phrase, so necessary for foundations, so hard to wield for the artistic mind, the mind that wants to build angel wings into the phosphorescent sky.

Oh well, you, out there, you women, sitting, standing, laughing, crying inside, with not enough to do, too much to do, do you feel as if a large building, let’s take an image of the Empire State Building, is over your head, descending on a crane, and the wires are frayed, as is your psyche, when this building obliterates all sun and light, and only shadows eclipse your tiny, puny, human frame?

No worries my duckies!  Take up words, and paints and colors, and throw some tea with jasmine, coffee with creamed soy of buttercup, butternut essence, grab a friend, a kid, a knitting needle, find a canopy, from arbors of Bougainvillea to hard, green, snappy, umbrellas over the outwardly composed urban woman.

In other words duckies, don’t sweat it.

There’s no one golden bricked path to building communities, no one particular hard hat to wear.  Think:

Mornings:  get up.

This in itself is an immense achievement, because we do it, day after day, year after year.  That’s what women do best.  They get up.

Okay, put on clean underwear.  Any kind duckies.  I still wear granny types, but thongs will do.  Count your blessings if said inner garment is not inside out.  That’s part of getting up.

Shovel the body together, teeth, nails, and do whatever you have to do, the laundry, the work, the subway, the elevated, the car with too big a tank, or the silent runs on the latest tech – you catch my drift.

Think – knit, purl.  Yes, that’s right, knit, and purl.  Duckies, this is what we do.  Let all the manly Germanic phrases of “build community” slide off your head, like excess water in the ears from the swimming pool.  Let it slide down your neck, off your shoulders, down your thighs, your ankles and into the ground.  This is California, and we could use the water.

Knit one stitch at a time, because that’s you, creating whatever base you need, tight, little bits of yarn sitting next to each other like sparrows on a telephone wire, keeping each other company, overseeing the world.  Then if you want to be bon vivant, try the pearl, a backward knit? Who knows, but you catch my drift.  Pull things together one stitch at a time.

You’ll make it; soon you will have knit friendships into this fabric of yours.  Find someone you like, maybe very different from you, but you like that person.  You want his/her qualities.  Knit her into your heart’s edges.

Places to find loose stitches:

The library

Writing Groups

12 Step Programs

Coffee places where everyone shouts and hollers to each other,or whispers, take your pick.

Dogs, talk to them all, if they are on a leash and their canines aren’t fanged and pointed right at you.

Extra points:

Long obligatory prayer in morning, Tablet of Ahmad for yourself, any others

Prayers, prayers for others, i.e., parents, kids, healing, protection, the Baha’is in Iran, help immensely.

Private talk with trusted friends, the ones you can bay at the moon with and grow German shepherd fur on your throat. (We’ve all been there)

Time to make your own list; this is just from an old gal with a writing voice of a 35-year-old, but this is something I count upon for sure, and I’m 73 and in thrive right now:

“Nothing save that which profiteth them shall ever befall My loved ones.”

Baha’u’llah

Check the quote, not sure I have it just picture perfect in print.

Have a glorious hour, day, week, month, and life.

Esther

my name is not bob challenge

learning modes

Reader, may I call you reader.  help me in my hour of trouble and affliction.  Here’s the deal.  I’m blogging.  Bless me Lord, for I am blogging.  I am FB-ing, with about 700 of my cronies around the world.  I twitted over to tweet and succumbed, barely.  I checked my name, Esther Bradley-DeTally, against Google, Bing, and a whole bunch of little places with interesting names of which I have forgotten.  In other words, I am in Brain-Stretch, big time.  Before I toddle through this page with episodic thoughts, first let me say, My Name is Not Bob is great, and Not Bob is a generous man.  As a respondee to my blog, Keith, of the winsome words with a touch of dry flour around them, said, “Bob sounds like an inspirational fellow.”  Indeed he is.  As you are my fellow bloggers.

I am concerned about my long-time 7-10 hard-core followers, since my blog has grown, and since this challenge came along. I fear they all could fit inside a telephone booth, but I’ve been known to exaggerate.

I am back from the dentist – 2 crowns needed, and as I walked in the door,   I received a call from an older woman I revere.  She called to tell me a writing suggestion given years ago in one of my workshops changed her life.  It was simple, “Make a timeline,” and in her early years, she was heavily burned at 2, her father died in a fire later, she added all the good transformational stuff, and saw the wisdom and purpose of all things and people in her life, even the original accident, for which she had numerous plastic surgeries.   We yukked and jawed, and I got off the phone buoyant to have given a shred of anything light to this incredible lady who is now 88.

So far so good Reader.  Are you with me?  Do you catch my drift? I had a tuna sandwich, picture a round tuna with bits of green heap, the heel of my hand smashing two slices of bread around it and my eating it as I walked to my laptop.  Open I am Not Bob.  April 11 – challenge.  This is so wonderful.  I read down to Not Bob’s list of five popular URL shorteners.  I checked out http://bit.ly because Not Bob said, “This is my favorite.”

I cannot be responsible for the way my eyes which rolled around like loose pinballs shooting out of an Arcade game because of broken curly wires.  I went to the Techy God for explanations:  Wikipedia.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

URL shortening   Pro:

is a technique on the World Wide Web in which a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) may be made substantially shorter in length and still direct to the required page. This is achieved by using an HTTP Redirect on a domain name that is short, which links to the web page that has a long URL. For example, the URL http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/URL_shortening can be shortened to http://bit.ly/urlwiki or http://tinyurl.com/urlwiki. This is especially convenient for messaging technologies such as Twitter and Identi.ca, which severely limit the number of characters that may be used in a message. Short URLs allow otherwise long web addresses to be referred to in a tweet. In November 2009, the shortened links on one URL shortening service were accessed 2.1 billion times.[1]

Normally, a URL shortening service will use the top-level domain of a country that allows foreign sites to use its extension, and is a common ending in the English language, such as .ly (Libya), to redirect worldwide using a short alphanumeric sequence after the provider’s site address in order to point to the long URL.

Another use of URL shortening is to disguise the underlying address. Although this may be desired for legitimate business or personal reasons, it is open to abuse and for this reason, some URL shortening service providers have found themselves on spam blacklists, because of the use of their redirect services by sites trying to bypass those very same blacklists. Some websites prevent short, redirected URLs from being posted

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

There are con views so as readers you can Google Wikipedia, but I think to myself, “not right now Esther.”  Later.  I can shorten my own words within Twitter Texts, and because I drip, exude words in every other social media area, shortening my URL doesn’t seem to amount to a hill of beans.

That said, I’m off to read Best Blogs:  I do so like Rain Wilson’s Soul Pancake, http://soulpancake.com/; now there’s a mind with many tunnels.

 

 

 

Reader, may I call you reader.  This is a response to my blog of yesterday about being an old gal with a 35-year-old voice.  You see that blog had its genesis in CHPercolatorCoffeeHouseforWriters – a yahoo site.  My friend Steve encouraged me.  Steve is responsible for my latest book You Carry the Heavy Stuff, and ChPercolator.  It’s free; we only encourage, never criticize, check it out.

Keith is a funny writer, and any email or comments from him make me yuck and chortle.  Steve and I even drove down to Disneyland area, Anaheim area, to visit Keith and his wife, who were in from New Jersey.  Keith also wrote a blurb on the back of Carry Heavy Stuff, and this is his response to my blog of yesterday, soon to be yesteryear:

I underlined Bob sounds like an inspiration person because it was so deadpan.  Yes, I roll on floors over stuff like this.

Re: SUB: Dingbat and stuff

I often think that I was born in the wrong century, which is a great joke either on myself or the calendar professionals (The people who put cute animals, religious pictures and girls in swimsuits over individual months). Facebook? Twitter? They’re all the rage right now and I admit that both E.A. Poe and C. Dickens would have been all over them and so too would J. Caesar and Ramses Jr. I just can’t get into it. Maybe I’m lazy or maybe I’m reticent about new things that are all the rage (I never had a moon rock and I never saw a single episode of “Miami Vice”). If there is a disease called “fuddy-duddy-ism” then I must have it.
Is that at all related to being a dingbat?
Are frabjous and frabulous synonyms?
If I had a canary I would let it perch on my shoulders.
Bob sounds like an inspirational person.
My mother-in-law and you could climb mountains together.
What, what, oh what ever happened to the cardboard pug?
Jessica wouldn’t be that fictional writer/sleuth who murdered all those people and then hypnotized someone else into confessing to the crime? It’s just too much of a coincidence that she lives in a tiny hamlet in Maine with the highest murder rate in the world when she’s home and someone gets murdered wherever she travels. If that’s the same Jessica I would exercise caution.
whimsied time with granddaughter

Jessica and I make cardboard pug

I am a missing dingbat.  I retreated last night to desserts, and I awakened this morning, with snakes snarling and hissing on my head, a nervous tension, and just disgruntled wormy thoughts that wouldn’t even coalesce with one another.  I think that fits under missing dingbat category.

If I had a canary, it would be tempestuous, or lascivious, or frabulous, and mirror the excesses of my personality which I sometimes think goes into spillage too much.  I’d like to retreat to the desert, but instead will go for a walk, under the trees in Pasadena.

The reason for all of this.  I am in a “I’m Not Bob Challenge”.  I’m Not Bob is this wonderful man’s personal blog, (He’s a Writer’s Digest person)  and he’s helping us would-be, be, being, and all range of bloggers and writers to meet the challenge of expansion, construction too.  Each day the anonymous amongst us arise and blow out our thoughts in Twitter, i.e., “I jmp ovr mts & Valleys, and I wl nt hiss at LinkedIn”, type of thing.  Then we hook up FB pages, or simply chat, and sometimes, like today, my hands will click over the keys, which click sounds like Old Puggy’s (God rest his lardy soul) nails on linoleum at Grandma Anna’s place.

I’m becoming an old gal writer, whose voice is 35,  and I am  like a mountain goat.  It’s a saga, this trudging up the mountains of words.  Some days are tempestuous, a word in one of my CHPercolator prompts today, and one I’d use more if I were in a multisyllabic mode.  Today I feel more Germanic, almost high boots and marching because I’m frustrated by my inabilities or level of knowledge (think ankle level) on the computer.

Today I’ll stick to dingbat, and walk heavy hoofed for hopefully 5 miles, and then my ding will be danged, and tomorrow will be another day.

The theme was forgiveness, i.e., “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”  Luke 23:26-34

First a group poem – in a writing session each woman took 2 lines and voila:

Friday, April 6, 2012 – Women’s Room Group Poem – Jennifer Robinson read:

 

Women Speak

Voices from the Women’s Room, a Group Poem

 Forgiveness is such a big word of many colors,

bruise yellow, anger red, wounded blue, white hope.

Most of the time we feel unforgiven.

The world would be a better place if we acknowledge we are forgiven.

“Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”  Even their

unforgiveness causes us to be unforgiving.

Forgive us, Father, for we sometimes know what we do.

Though my flesh is torn and our hearts are broken.

Forgiveness comes from love we received

when we were made in God’s own image.

I see the world of peace within my eyes growing together as we do our part.

The days seem long, and the nights seem short.

and

FORGIVENESS      by     Esther Bradley-DeTally  For Good Friday Service April 6, 2012

To everything but anguish the mind will soon adjust…Roger White

 

After a great wound no feeling comes,

But, a white hot pain settles upon you.

You stand shivering in a fire of agony,

“Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do,”

is a whispered voice, hidden deep within cumulus clouds,

blocked tributaries of feeling, your heart a mere stump.

Enough, enough, enough.

The well-intentioned speak of forgiveness.

Skippingly on the tongue they toss

“Turn the other cheek” which produces

a yellow, curled up feeling within.

You’ve turned the other cheek so much,

you have whiplash, and your chiropractor

is upping his fees.

You are so done

Chumped out by the world

Sick of greed lurch on the planet

Numb to the scalding rhetoric of gossip,

absolute abandonment of your Lord’s teaching

on mercy, on love Thy neighbor,

Dormancy pokes its head up, a tickling feeling

Your nerve endings prickle, and you realize

not wanting to, you are coming to life.

It’s a crucible this world, and you have

gone through the white heat of change

Ignorance and love will not cohabit within

You cast away the purple bruise of resentment

Which led you to the heart of your journey.

Your crucible.

You will no longer resent

You will not forget

Never forget

But, you are a leaf in the wind

Of the Will of your Lord

And you will love again.

It was a good day.

A friend, Al, who is in advertising,  said to me one day over coffee at Peets in California, “You need to have a blog,” and so because of that casual remark and my faith in his techy wisdom.  I commenced walking over rocks and pebbles of techy knowledge, and a blog was born.

September 5, 2006, Sorry-Gnat enters hyperspace life letting those who are interested know that in the Baha’i Writings one can go on the path of transformation and be a sorry gnat and become a giant eagle.

“I’ve just had lunch at Tuohey’s Restaurant in Alhambra and had dinner there last night.  No I’m not trying to be giant like an eagle physically.  I’ve ruminated a good deal about stuff to put into this blog:  poetry?  pug dogs? notes about books?  human rights? racial justice: schlepping, Esther, don’t forget schlepping.  I have a lot to learn on this blog, and will consult with my techy friends as to how, what, why, when!  I’m reading The Earth is Flat, Thomas Friedman, excellent. Very good writer.  We just saw Jessica, our granddaughter, at an early soccer practice.  She’s almost 7-going into first grade, and all the little girls are not aggressive players at all, but very cute.

Today, April 5, 2012.

Well Jessica is 12 now, and has an equanimity about her and kindness to all that I adore.  My family was like a Rorschach test, and I used to wonder what it’s like if my kid had the soul of an accountant.  He didn’t, and that’s okay, but Jessica, my granddaughter’s mom, leans to that side:  stable, and a tremendous educator with regards to child rearing.

Okay, I do blogs, and  at times in my life the only themes seem to be pug dogs or spirituality, and for a while pug dogs were winning.  Of late, it’s books, and maybe a while or so about my adequacy level down by my ankle bones,  blogging wise-the techy side.  I’ve avoided Twitter.  Facebook?  Boys and girls, I’ve got FB down; I have friends all over the globe.  The good thing about moving 17 different times in 25 years is you meet a lot of people.

Sure I grieved over leaving some, but I tell you, I’ve met incredible people and to this day I never cease to wonder.  Today we had lunch at Farideh’s and we had Tadiq, golden crusted flat slabs of potato under Basmati rice.  Oink.  We had wild salmon, vegetables even turnip.  Then we had dessert served on creamy white china and looked like a vibrant water color:  blueberries,  peachy colored mango, and a scoop of vanilla soy ice cream.  I’m so slogged with fatigue and memories of good food, my brain turns to sludge.  Later I hooked up with Jean a new person in our Baha’i community.

She’s new to Pasadena, and hasn’t been in the States for 10 years.  She has lived in India, and I can’t remember the name of her city; small – 5 million, but she’s traveled all over. Did I mention she’s blind and gets around by cane.  We’ve hung out before.  She’s done everything; social worker, worked in radio stations, done voice over, teaches ESL, works via the computer.  No dust on her heels!  It gave me just another chance to marvel.

Tomorrow, I’m off at a little before noon to a Christian church up the Street on Lake, in Altadena/Pasadena area, where the Ecumenical Council is observing Good Friday.  I remember Good Friday when I was Catholic, sitting in the silence of the church, the religious figures draped in purple silk, and I remember a day before, called Holy Thursday, when Liz, my twin, and her best friend Jannie Cleary, walked and visited the 7 Catholic churches, a tradition we participated in only once.  When we got home that day my sister Meb (Mary Ellen Bradley) was hanging her head out of the bath room window on the second floor, showing a newly bleached blonde.

We were three sisters; close in many ways, and yet Meb would die of alcoholism, as my mother did.  They were terrific.  They both played classical music, and I can’t not stop when I hear Chopin’s polonaise in something Minor.  My mom died when we were 17, and my sister died when I was living in Dnepropetrovsk. She was the size of a twig, ravished by emphysema and years of alcoholism which I think she kicked towards the end.  She had once survived on the streets for five years.

So back to homeless women.  I’ve done two things in my life influenced by these two women so close to my heart.  My mom had Latvian Babushkas come to our little house on Wren Street, tuck into the small kitchen with the red checkered oilcloth table covering, and she’d teach them English for free.  They talked of their husbands, “lost behind the Iron Curtain,” and I’d visualize a large iron shower curtain stretched across a vast empty land.

Years later, in 1990, I traveled to Siberia with Bill, my husband.  I wrote a book Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, which tells about Meb, Russia,Ukraine, and all.  People like it.  I often thought  my mother’s selfless act of reaching out had reverberations into the future, when I, her daughter, very much her daughter, went into Slavic countries for service only.

That said, we’ve lived in Pasadena for 11 years, and it’s the longest we’ve ever lived anywhere.  Bill is 77 and I am 73, and first we house sat in a gorgeous condo for 3 years and then found this pool house, and we can afford the rent they charge which is not high.  I’ve survived open heart surgery, having the surgeons write the whole business off for free, and I’ve had a lot of trips to Cardiology at Kaiser, bleeding out, stuff like that, but now I thrive.  I’m like a Russian doll that tips over and bounces back.  Someone said to me the other day, “You have a strong life force,” and I do.  I feel life gets better and better for women as they age. I am no longer moth-holed by self-doubt and scalding inner words of rebuke.  I’m me now, and I sort of glow at times, at least when I’m teaching writing, meeting friends for coffee and always stretching to do more.

Poem by Chris Annick

poetry of women from women's room - fund raiser flyer

A few years ago I gave a goodly amount of writing workshops-method, process, and did so for free at the local library branch of La Pintoresca in Northwest Pasadena.  The Women’s Room a group formed and created by members who were connected to an Ecumenical Council realized women in Pasadena, either homeless or in transition, had nowhere to go.  This is a day refuge, but oh what a refuge. Showers, laundry, good food, make up suggestions now and then are available, and oh, my writing class.   Long story short, a room above the food pantry of Friends in Deed was created, like a small living room, dusty peach walls, art with symbols of 3 poppies, art on the wall, small kitchen and on Tuesdays 1-3 I teach writing.  Everyone is welcome, the volunteers and the guests (homeless/in transition) and it is truly solidified in love and community.  The bonds are strong.

We were asked to have something for tomorrow’s program at this Church.  I wrote a poem on forgiveness.  I’ll publish it later.  Then I had the women do a group poem, each writing 2 lines.

They’ve performed before; different women, different voices, and at first they were terrified.  But after they had the guts to get up behind a microphone and say their piece, their pieces, they were and are proud.  You can’t take that away from anyone.  Above is a poem written by Chris Annick which graced our first fundraiser flyer.

I always say to them before they read, “Own this.  Own your voice,” and by golly they do.  So with that, I didn’t expect this to be such a rattle on blog, but here you go, and that’s the facts Jack.

The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I guess I always give 5 stars to memoirs. I am a memoir addict, but I also write the personal essay and some fiction and teach creative writing. Authenticity and voice are aspects of good memoir writing.

I do not belong to that group of people who think memoir is a solipsistic form. The Rules of Inheritance, Claire Bidwell Smith, is a worthy read. Everyone’s story is the same but different, as is loss and sadness. It is honest, poignant, poetic, and well crafted. She’s not a victim, but portrays true loss and then gradual emergence into finding her truer self. I recommend!

View all my reviews

1. Please tell us about you the person and the author:

Glad that’s worded that way, because above all we are all persons first. In 1990 I started publishing personal and reflective essays in various journals. A writer friend from Israel had recommended me and many other yet to be published writers to write for a particular publication in Australia/New Zealand. This journal was globally distributed. When my friend suggested I submit some of my stuff, I thought, “Is that stuff under the bed collecting dust balls?” But in 1992 I was married to my wonderful husband Bill and we were living in Ukraine, in the City of Dnepropetrovsk, and this magazine published an essay about our lives in Ukraine.

I’m from Boston, born in Boston, and I remember blackout curtains from World War II on our windows and peeing in the dark. I remember the 50s and being a Catholic girl and going to a public high school. I had no writing inclination, but read voraciously from six years on. A huge influence was my mom who became a major alcoholic, but was a lover of books and also taught Latvian women to speak and read English when they came to our little brown rented house on Wren Street, and they spoke of the Iron Curtain, and their husbands lost behind this curtain. I remember thinking in images of a giant iron shower curtain spread across a vast land.

I grew up in a stratified society, where people drew lines about religious affiliations, class position, race, difference. I was a child in the 40s, a young girl in the 50s and was Catholic. In my twenties, I drove to California after the Cuban crisis, drove out by myself. My mother had died; my father remarried; my twin was somewhere; the family was dysfunctional and scattered. My older brother and sister weren’t around. I was a legal secretary and outwardly gutsy but inwardly a wimp.

I discovered the Baha’i Faith at 27, and felt as if I stepped out of a black and white photograph into the land of color. I stopped drinking, even though I hadn’t yet connected the dots of alcoholism sitting in my family’s history box for generations. I immediately became aware of the oneness of humanity, and my old stereotypical views fell off me like corrugated cardboard. Still, until I die, I must be aware of prejudice and how it is inhaled by a baby when born. My life is incredibly full –I teach writing to homeless women and others. I give a lot of free workshops. I guess you could say my husband and I are activists as we totally believe in service to the community at large. I used to be fearful but didn’t show it, and I faced life and have crawled over railroad tracks in Donetsk and been in Ukraine during the Russian coup and written a book about it. I’ve been to Siberia, and I have a son Nicholas who is married and a granddaughter. One last thing: I jump out of airplanes to say hello to Pug Dogs even if they are only dark little dots on the ground. That’s sounds very year-booky.

Mostly I totally believe in the splendor of the human condition, and am horrified by the meanness of our age, but have tremendous hopes for the future. I believe one becomes mystical by embracing the grit of one’s time and that we should be anxiously concerned about the needs of our age. I am the last of my siblings, my twin having died a few years ago. I’ve survived heart surgeries, blah, blah, blah, and walk an hour a day; sound like a gadabout and light up like a pinball machine when celebrating, reading, writing, a good book, justice, being a solace to someone else, being a source of light and laughter.

2. When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

In 1980, when I got a chance to go back to college, I wanted to learn writing.

3. Did you take any classes or go to school to learn to write, or did it just come naturally

No. Writing letters came naturally, but I had no idea whether studying writing would ruin my fledgling writing or not. I went to UC Irvine and enrolled as a junior at 42 as a single mom, fresh from what felt like 100 years of work as a legal secretary. I majored in English as I read voraciously and thought that the most practical. I had no dreams of becoming an attorney. I took a summer class and wrote a story about a blue dye eviscerating the earth from a jeans factory and a dog named Lance I think. I didn’t have the knowhow or the courage to have dialogue. There was lance, the blue dye, the inhabitants of earth leaving the planet, and the owner of lance, a woman who died.
My first writing teacher said, “Take every writing course this school has to offer.”

I took expository writing in the second quarter and the TA said “Take every writing course this school has to offer,” because I wrote a piece about who I was after reading an excerpt of May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude. Reader her talk about depression, writing and planting flowers caused me to think, I can do this. I remember feeling electrified, not hugely, but nevertheless animated.

I then took Beginning Fiction with Oakley Hall, and I was nervous. He has written a book on the novel; was co-head of the UCI Writing Program, and is well respected. He went to Iowa I think. I was nervous until I looked under the large square table where we all assembled, and I saw faded purple Rit died socks, and then looked up into his broad face, and kind eyes, and his hair looked like yarn. He taught how to show, how to be the camera eye, how to use strong verbs, and I flourished.

I then went on to take an advanced writing class with the other co-head who didn’t like older women, but thought I was a very good writer. He tried to discourage me, and I think he did so, because he didn’t make it in the way he expected. It was rough, but I hung in.

Then I took journalism with a very good Journalist who had been nationally known, and he said, “You are a good writer, but what the hell are you trying to say.” I also took courses after graduating as part of teacher training in teaching secondary writing, and Writing the Natural Way. I use those methods when I teach workshops.

I also took from the Pied Piper of Workshop Leaders, Jack Grapes in Los Angeles who is a method writing teacher, and I took his beginning workshop. Then I waited 10 years, took his advanced courses, and around 2003 I was bursting through sound barriers. . I have written 2 books: Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia and You carry the Heavy Stuff, the most recent.

I took a UCLA class too and we were not allowed to praise or criticize anyone’s writings, no comments, but the instructor told me I was very good. So yes, I took classes and really learned method, and craft of showing, use strong verbs, and still read voraciously.

4. Please tell us about your book and how did you come up with the idea for it.

As I mentioned I had a previous book, and the 2nd edition has pictures. Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, about our 3 year period before, during and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. It is a personal view, a behind the scenes sideways type of thing – personal, funny, sad, hard, and spiritual.

I joined CHPercolator Coffeehouse for writers because my friend Steve kept encouraging me. We all give prompts to write about at periodic intervals and thus, writers from around the globe write or not write every day.

After 2 years, I looked at my previous writing and the CHPerc bundle, and thought “It’s time to do another book.” It’s called You Carry the Heavy Stuff and has a street sign that says, “It’s all grist for the Mill, been there, done that, what’s next,” with a pug’s back to the reader and a tall thin red-haired lady with an old leather type valise, inky papers sticking out of it, and she’s wearing red high top sneakers. That’s my persona. I have used “It’s all grist for the mill” so much; people will soon begin to scream.

I had a mother in law who was the size of a small tree trunk and didn’t take noth’in from no one and we lived with her after we came back from Russia because we didn’t think it was wise for her to live alone. When I first met her, Bill and I were packing up our bags to drive away, and she and I were loading stuff at an open trunk, when this low growly voice (hers) said to me, “You carry the heavy stuff for him.” So I wrote a piece about her.

Anna was her name, and Italian momma was her game. I both laughed inwardly and groaned. I wasn’t insulted. Had I been 20, I’d have run away. This book is a series of poetry and prose about who I was, am; life in an office cubicle; life in middle school and a world view taking shape, life after 9/11; essays on prejudice, which makes my African-American friends cry, and essays on spirituality and eating falafel at the Mercatz (shopping area top of Haifa hills) in Israel. I also talk lightly and deeply about social conditions, Baghdad, being a twin, having a twin die, and packing for the future. All of my pieces reflect varied writing styles.

A fellow writer wrote “You Carry the Heavy Stuff reveals an author who engages life with grit, honesty and good humor. Bradley-DeTally rests thoughtfully at a quiet stream to make serene observations, and then she’s up and away again to fight her good fight with a Tally HO! A refreshing read that combines a depth dimension with the tragicomedy that is life.”

I was going to call the book Writing on the Fly, and I had everything in it: fiction, surrealism, poetry, short stories, and then I trimmed it down and a friend said, “Writing on the Fly is overused.” So I had a brief contest where I promised a few select friends a Starbucks coffee card if they voted on a selection of about 5 titles. You Carry the Heavy Stuff carried the day.

I don’t outline. Let me repeat that I don’t outline. I free write and then I tweak, tweak, tweak. I am pretty spontaneous and word crazy some friends might add.

5. Which of your characters were your favorite and why?

My favorite characters are pugs and the people in Children of the Stolen Ones, a poem I hope which gives honor to my brothers and sisters of African heritage.

6. What traits and characteristics did you give some of your characters to make them memorable? Courage, nobility and the human condition is a sideways view.

7. Does your book have any important themes or lessons you wanted to convey?

Well, it’s memoir-ish so the traits would be pissy, funny, ballsy, outspoken, socially concerned, deeply spiritual, thrown in with the theme of global citizenship and the inhumanity of man and the humanity of man (generic man of course).

My themes speak of the wonders and need for oneness; the need to throw prejudice off the planet, the nobility of the anonymous and the suffering among us, the struggle and beauty of the dying cancer patients, the humanity of others, and the downright wonders of slinging around language like hash.

8. What was the road to publication like? Was it turbulent or fairly easy?

I am too old to look for an agent, and have a small following – think larger than a beer truck but smaller than the Coliseum in LA so my friend Steve said “Publish through Lulu.” He has done so with several witty books. Reader it was hell, pure unadulterated hell. Very Kafkaesque and tortuous until I finally gave in and bought a Lulu package, and then it was a miracle. Price wise it’s the best so far, but I’m not an enchanted devotee. One gets lost in Lulu like getting lost in the Hotel California, “It’s a lovely place….but you can’t get out …. Lost in the Hotel California.The biggest thing about a book is not thinking about writing one, not thinking about publishing, but marketing after it’s done. My advice is take it step my step and “follow the force” so to speak.

9. Please tell a reader what they should know about your book before the purchase them.

It’s creative non-fiction, spunky, funny, shows a variety of writing styles, almost a book of prompts plus points of view as an extra added package! It’s 14.96 (the extra penny is the hell part.) Also there’s a download – e book type of thing. (You Carry The Heavy Stuff) http://stores.lulu.com/sorrygnat and http://www.amazon.com/Carry-Heavy-Stuff
Esther-Bradley-DeTally. I recommend the Lulu site because you can read some of the pages. I also have some I can mail.

10. Words of wisdom for aspiring writers.

Read, read, read, read, write, journal, write, never give up; take courses, watch, listen learn, imitate, and trust the process.

estherbill@gmail.com http://sorrygnat. Word press. com blog

11. What current projects are you working on?

I am writing a book about someone with deleted memory; in interview process and at the beginning right now. I also teach the writing process, currently with homeless women, and their volunteers, and under the literacy umbrella of local libraries, plus give individual sessions and have writing groups.

11. What do you want your legacy to be- to have left the world showing worlds of unity, love and laughter, and to be a point of light in the dark dark nights of the soul, and to laugh and yuk about recipes, ham sandwiches and to promote the oneness of mankind, but to write, and know the power of words, the love of them, their ordinariness and majesty and not to worry about publishing, but think of the journey itself.

I wish for a world where everyone is a trust of the whole.

Esther’s ten favorites.

Favorite time of day?

First cup of coffee brought to me in bed by wonderful husband of 25 years.

Dessert: vanilla ice cream and dark, thick and creamy hot fudge sauce.

Teacher – Miss Halloran, in book; changed my world view from neighborhood to vast history and dimensions and the dangers of war within a 5 minute read of giant poster on her wall.

Social networking site; Facebook

Favorite city: Pasadena

Music – Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez

Color: the rainbow

Pastime: drinking coffee, and talking about real stuff with friends

Book: Oh my the over 600 on Goodreads, but if you don’t have time, Gleanings by Baha’u’llah, and An Interrupted Life, Etty Hillesum, and, and

‘Nothing save that which profiteth them shall ever befall my loved ones.’-Baha’u’llah

You Carry the Heavy Stuff

Nov 07, 2010 10:31am

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10964693-the-marriage-plot” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”The Marriage Plot” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1328736940m/10964693.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10964693-the-marriage-plot”>The Marriage Plot</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1467.Jeffrey_Eugenides”>Jeffrey Eugenides</a><br/> My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/286125314″>3 of 5 stars

What did I not think!  Tatting on the head of a pin.  Truth is somewhere.  Shades of Frank Lentriccia’s Lit Crit class in the 1980s, rolling around with words like mimesis, blah. another professor, equally dishing out words which bounced off my dense forehead, used to utter the word “Hegel,” and each time he did so, his heels would rise from the floor and he’d be on tiptoe – up on the Heg, down on the el. Alternate universes, this one of words beginning and ending, and what the hey-ego and the turn of good phrases, but characters empty.  In one sense, it reflects ennui and delusions of the sad.  It fits in to the 1980’s when I studied this stuff and thought this is like a Papal Hierarchy, and the Cardinals, wearing red silk and satin of course, are strutting as literary critics.  i believe in the concept of literary theory, and the best book on that subject was the Purpose of Physical Being, John Hatcher, but I started this book last night.  Back to the 80s; but credit is due to the author.  However, how could so many applaud a book for such a narrow audience?  Overdone emptiness, and i am being casual with my descriptions, perhaps not specific enough.  I would give it a 3 because the author is exceedingly intelligent, highly literate, but I could not finish it.

http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

http://educationunderfire.com/multimedia/

 From You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Esther Bradley-Detally – on Lulu.com., Amazon, and   Author’s possession 

Children of the Stolen Ones
(for Gloria Haithman—December 2, 2004)

“Greens” makes me think of Ola Mae’s Greens, down in my belly, in Olean,New York, as crowds of us burst into Ola Mae’s Restaurant on a regular basis to shoot the breeze, eat her famous Greens, and just to feel all’s well with the world.  Here in Pasadena,California, the subject of greens and chitlins came up.  I thought of Ola Mae, the camaraderie, her corn bread too, and just feeling part of the woodwork welcomed by her open heart and Best-Greens-Cook-In-The-World self.

In Pasadena, on a Wednesday night, Gloria talked about the same thing, but went a step further.  She spoke of soul food on another level, the spiritual teachings of love, hope, and faith.  She spoke to our insides where there are no colors.  Gloria said, “We were not colored when we were born.  Yeah, I thought, we came in that way, and no one crayoned some in, or bleached others out.

What if, instead of calling the dark ones, the Negroes, the People of Color, names given by history book scribes, say, “Black or African-Americans?” Then a phrase measured out, by Gloria, entered our gathering, all the while she was telling of a story of friends who called themselves The Sisters.  These Sisters went to South Africa, honoring their roots, and seeking answers to their identities.  On the trip they were constantly greeted by groups of women who would sing to them.  One day they met some African women who had the “Who are You? Where are you from?” look in their eyes, all the while staring at The Sisters.

One of the South African women said, “They are Children of the Stolen Ones.” Back in Pasadena, sitting on the orange velvet couch, those small noble words, “The Stolen Ones,” bombarded my heart as I felt my soul sink into a place of utter knowingness, of a reverence and majesty revealed.

As a white lady, an older one, who learned of our essential oneness some forty years before and humbly stayed on the thorny and pitted path of discovery and unity, I sat there stunned.  I repeated the phrase over and over to myself.  “Children… Children of the… Children of the Stolen Ones….”

Yes, and for me it was a rightful and merciful appellation.

Finally, dignity and solace packed into five words.  Measure it out on the tongue, slowly: “The Stolen Ones… Children of the Stolen Ones.” Feel your heart melt as if a great and timeless grief has finally been acknowledged.

My heart bowed a humble bow to the true nature of an incredible people, their majestic endurance, their ancestors.  I’m no artist and don’t know my colors, and I live in a world that thinks it knows its colors, and colors inside the lines, not outside—the “lines” being the operative word.

Well, I’d say in this year of 2004, “Maybe we should hear The Sisters, our sisters’, call from South Africa,” and use lines to wrap around: Majesty, Dimension, Endurance, Courage.  Name every quality our sisters and brothers of African heritage carry with fortitude, and you come up with, in my book, “The Chosen Ones.” And, what if God and his Messengers and Prophets saw that these Chosen Ones endured trials similar to the Minor Prophets? And what if Bahá’u’lláh knew His love for His Chosen Ones, knew they suffered the banishment, the chains, the whippings, as He, in the Path of God?

So here’s the final what if—what if this planet really was a testing ground to see who could show courage under fire, love of God, love of people despite that the Stolen Ones and their kin were also robbed? But wait, here’s another view.  I think the Children of the Stolen Ones are the Morning Glories of our age! Their children; their children’s children.  It’s the story Morning Glory.

Let’s proclaim, let’s shout, and let us bow in reverence to our ancestors, ransomed so we might reframe our hearts and join each other in history’s future where lines are a thing of the past and colors are loved-filled stripes of every hue.

Skin Color

At the Black History Parade, put on by the Jackie RobinsonCenter, one cold, but sun-emerging day, paralytic agony stops my nouns, verbs and adverbs describing skin color or lack thereof.  Pain fills my heart as my eyes Braille the sadness of a man’s face, deep rivets line his cheeks, highlighting generational discounts and the pitter patter of white voices.

Numbness clots my throat at this morning’s Parade, while those in other parts of the city, those from White gulags, tuff lawns, buff cars, and spread glossy interracial magazines, photo ops on tables, never viewed by the living.

Brown vs. Board, wasn’t that inTopeka?

In Idaho, Bill and I share a table with a Nigerian psychiatrist.  It’s lunch time in a hospital cafeteria,  and Bill asks a question which floats over our salads:

“Do you have to emphasize your African heritage”?

An acknowledged “Yes.”

A rueful, half-stated reply, “My children will not have that advantage.”

On the broad palettes of television’s life experts on society, are noticeable by their absence of color. Hey, what about The News Hour with Gwen Ifill?  Yeah, and Colin Powell, and… Yeah?  Hey guys, take the tour of Any City, USA, where two separate neighborhoods exist—bookends of ideological contrast.  One is spacious, forgiving, and tolerant, with wide streets, large houses and gracious plants, suggesting it’s easy to feel benevolent.  The other part contains narrow streets, boards on windows, hunger at night, restless poverty, and shootings.  Skin color privilege cuts its wide swath.

I can say no more.

First, gratitude for the hard work on behalf of Altadena Library and the Friends of the Library for making these workshops possible.   Okay boys and girls, or girls and boys, we didn’t get to a couple of other exercises, so as I promised, here they are:

1. Name your writing after this place or situation:  In the Dean’s Office, Talking to My Boss, At Lunch with My Mother-in-Law, On the Bus Going to Work, In the Dentist’s Chair, Cleaning My Room, The Job Interview, or whatever comes to mind.  It’s your mind reader – go for it!

Write a dialogue in which an annoyingly powerful person speaks the way he or she normally does.  For internal dialogue, after several lines of this person’s dialogue, say to yourself in the form of a tired cliche or some slang you use, what you really think – consider these:  Your mother eats kitty litter, or praise the Lord and pass the Butter or Walk with me Jesus, or sticks and stones may break my bones, or are you with me; how bout them Dodgers, you can’t please everyone, or Lucy and Ethel in the Chocolate Line, or Gal, don’t call me Gal, or Boy, don’t call me Boy, or job schmob, I’m out of here!

2. Think of something you believe in/wish for. Write 5 or more passages, start with same line, I believe in running free and fast, or I have a wish to swim in the ocean, or If I could talk with my mother for just one moment more.

After you have written the passages, end by repeating the one repeated lines 3 times in a row. (From Creative Writing DeMystified, Bender, p. 31)

Here’s one we did in the 90s at Jamestown Community College’s the Courage to Write Workshop:

3. Suddenly there is a knock at your door.  A trusted friend enters to warn you that the Dream Police will arrive in 20 minutes.  Everything, everything in your life that you have not written down will evaporate upon their arrival.  You have a short time –twenty minutes—to preserve what is most precious in your life, what has formed you, what sustains you.  Whatever you forget, whatever you have no time to record, will disappear.  Everything you want must be acknowledged in its particularity.  Everything, to be saved, must be named.  Not trees, but oak.  Not animal, but wolf.  Not people, but Alicia.  As in reality, what has no name, no specificity vanishes.

We are what matters to us.  Our identity materializes through images, memories, events and through things.  In the above exercise we select what is essential us, what has formed u, what we cannot live without, this as often includes grief, losses and failures as it does joy and triumph.

Some time after, look at this list; put it aside, and then later, examine it.  Imagine you are an anthropologist who has unearthed this list of “possessions” that once belonged to some “unknown” person. Write a portrait fleshing out that person, speculating on his or her character and life.

 

FINALLY, some books which you can get from a library:  mine – Without a Net: A Sojourn in Russia, and You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Esther Bradley-DeTally.  If local, i have some.  If not, Lulu for You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Amazon too.

Creative Writing DeMYSTiFieDm Sheila Bender (I used this).  Soul Pancake Chew On Life’s Big Quesitons, Wilson, Gundry, Lucina, Mogharab(Rainn Wilson from the Office, one of the authors, and the GRAPhics are fabulous)

I loved Spunk & Bite also.  Read everything, fiction, non-fiction.

Journals – Writer’s Digest, Poets & Writers,

Online writing group:  CHPercolatorCoffeeHouse for Writers (Yahoo)

I have only touched the surface.  Stay tuned and happy writing.  Esther

 

Image

A string of laughter is all the trees lining our long driveway, the bamboo, the eucalyptus, all laughing, small nasty chuckles, because once again, I am thatched headed, in pjs and not walking.  It was a choice, but then the lure of words, the Zen of quiet air pushing out of the fan under my laptop; which if you really must know, I found this fan at a garage sale for $1.00, mighty fan.

A string of laughter makes me think of kites flying over Afghanistan, that land of dust and caves, and cities, and brave women’s hearts, and children’s tears, and when the kites are allowed, they fly into the air, twisting, turning, colors.  What are the colors of kites in the Afghan air? And someone’s heart exults, and then of course, there’s the birds.  They were banned during the time of the Taliban, and now I hope they are back, and I will sit back, and stop clickety clacking across the a, ;.s;. k, dk’s and think in peace you can’t own the sky..  It’s been tried, but the sky is ours, and then a heavenly invisible low long drawn out chuckle, like God was a Westerner with a Cowboy Hat, and then a belly laugh which translates into winds over the mountains, cleansing air, and Scattering Angels of the Almighty seeking the hearts of righteous men (generic of course); women too, and then what do I think.

Hmmm, a string of laughter is a word sky, where the sun and the moon negotiate, because now there’s lots of new solar stuff out there, and it might be a night game of “Olly, olly oxen free… ready or not, here I come.” Or maybe lawn bowling will be the game of choice, except it would be sky lawn ball, and then there are balloons, another topic altogether. Some balloons laugh, go up on a string, and twist out of grasping hands of greed.

You can take a lot of things away from people:  money, a place to live, shoes, health, but laughter always springs from some invisible source, and laughter moves the ribs up and down and up and down, and you can’t take that away.

CXXX: Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in …

1

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.

those were the days

Years ago
when I drank vats of Tab/Diet Soda, you name it, I was what I drank, jagged
edged, thin, with an immune system storing grudges.  Before that when I was 21 and had moved away
from my suburb of West Roxbury and lived in Brookline with my stepmother and
father, who were away a lot, I smoked a pack of cigarettes and drank a whole
pot of coffee every Sunday morning, and needless to say, what I became was
someone with little red pimples on her face and a twitch in her gait, and then
after giving up 3 packs of cigarettes a day, no longer drinking, scotch or
anything else, and getting a pit bull grip off of sugar, but not ice cream, I
became a round person, said roundness appearing and staying, like cement
successfully poured, because after open heart surgery, by pass and a new
plastic aortic valve, I craved milk and ice cream and then I lived in Russia
before that, and we ate ice cream from a cart on the street, in the frozen
winter, because there was no such thing as dairy, and we also ate a lot of
katoshka,(potatos) so that’s when I paid more attention to my being a soul, but
a soul with wide hips, and of late, I am an older lady, coming into her own,
claiming health and well being, but in parsed patches of time, and eating more
regularly, and eating vegetables and dark greens except when my blood gets to
thick and the powers that be in the medical field, the valley of the blood
laboratories, tell me, too thick, not good, or too thin, then I go into the
greens again, and all of this points out to maybe once a 4 pound baby who was
born with the theme of need in the 4 pound folds of skin which didn’t have the
ability to plump out until she got to be 50 and hormones and all, and if I eat
incorrectly; isn’t that a wonderful phrase, considering all models in the past
were on heroin so they could be thin or 90% of them, and I notice if I numb
myself with food or playing solitaire at the end of the day; I’m avoiding life,
and food can do that, and that’s when I pull myself up the next morning, and
pay attention to the prayers I utter humbly to the heavens, and ask for help in
not being such a rebel with food; but it all started with my giving my daily
required cod liver oil pill as a child to our large French Poodle, and she
lived to be very old, and I went on to immune system crappola, but now, wisdom
and moderation have elbowed their way into my path, so I’m just another
moderately wide waisted writer, trying to eat after she writes, trying to walk
after she writes and thinking, who is it just so easy to slab peanut butter on bread,
fold it until you hold it, and take off, not paying attention to details.  Details work when you write, so now, my
little word epiphany thanks to Michelle’s prompts tell me, triangulate details
into your food old girl; that way you’ll have the strength to continue
NanoPrimo.

Awakened to cup of coffee in bed; staggered to computer; am on Word Press this am with thatched head, but Persecution of a Christian Minister in alarm shot my body full of, “Post this on SorryGnat,” and lo and behold, good old Word Press offered a prompt: When you are most happy?

Dear WP Question Person,

I am most happy when I drive up my driveway and my husband comes out of our small pool house and is just there, but then of course there are days when I spot pug dogs through my inner radar and Kismet, by the end of the day, I am sprawled on a pavement, petting said beastie, even though my friends shake their heads at my constant devotion to Pugs, and still I am most happy when I see writers emerge from their cardboard boxes which were labeled “I don’t write, I can’t write,” and like last night, offer revisions of the Three Little Pigs, turn the story on its head by having the first pig (of straw, and lazy, darned lazy if you ask me), and find out this little pig had invested in derivatives, and now, only now, when red stiletto heel click along New York streets, in huff puff, click, click, hurry to my job, don’t know how long it will last,” all the while these red stiletto heels, which if you want to know, can have outer soles of turquoise and magenta print, if the person, wearette of said stiletto, is well heeled financially, and now on to more than feet, because this is about happiness, and I’m most happy when I think some day, despite the crocodile kingdom here on earth, and dripping juicy mouths in political power (not all) (there are nice cats and dogs in the mix in leadership in this country), but back to the question, my tummy and my heart, and my soul are in sinc (not sink) (another day, another tale) when I see on the horizon, signs, not of Humvees built as slug bugs for war and destruction, but hands, thin hands, old hands, wrinkled hands, long tapered fingernails, fingers bumpy and sludgy and chewed, tough hands covered, dark hands, covered with dust, Kardashian hands pampered and isolated, but all hands, get to the point, writer, reaching out around this Parker’s Pen Color of Blue Ink Planet hold one another, some grasping one another, and despite a world gone tilt, bonkers, and a world which may be screaming, “I miss my hormones,” is lurching towards maturity, even though the crocodiles, hereinafter called The Crocs, salivate and slide towards a fugue state of power, illusive and unattainable, because some day we will be one, and every baby born (visualize Kunte Kinte(sp) holding his richly brown velvet baby son to the sky, and someone in Idaho lifting a peaches and cream baby up to trees stretching as if hands up in praise to their unseen Divine Essence (Higher Power too Germanic in tone to put here), and that day when each baby will be perceived, cherished, regarded as a “Trust of the Whole,” and we will get about our planetary work, and that’s a good Tuesday morning reason for being happy, because happiness is not an outside thing in that it’s just about pleasure, but reader, if you have been patient enough to go through this all, would you consider that abiding joy, and release from oppression and We Are One is our divine right?

This isn’t to say there are not a gazillion other reasons, like listening to a young doctorate in realization of astrophysics, skate across the sky and explain planetary dust in such a fascinating way as she reads in a basement in a store called fair trade, on Lake Avenue, in Pasadena, if you want to know, where a bunch of us writers laugh and cavort and toss bon mots of principles, concerns and an occasional jello recipe around – that makes me happy, and one other thing, because I’m on my way there – giving people voice; how on God’s Green Earth did I get so lucky to teach at the Women’s Room in Pasadena, said WR is an offshoot of Friends in Deed, an ecumenical group, and the WR is a day haven for women to take showers, do laundry, get decent food, most to commune with one another, and to participate, those who wish, in writing and slipping on their newly acquired writing voices to the cheers and huzzahs of the group, (we are way beyond Vogue and Marie Claire magazine), and I guess I can sum all of this “oh how we dance” piece in it’s about service, “walking the mystical path with practical feet” and helping one another and seeing everyone as a soul in progress or process and realizing we are just at the beginning of this journey. So those are my Tuesday morning reasons. (Quotes I’ve used come from Baha’i Writings or my own stuff reader, and if you know how to use spell check on this here Word Press, I’d be grateful till the end of the day.-E)

“To All” – A message from Troy Anthony Davis.

In my reading of Logos and Civilization, I found on page 86 “The concept of destiny in the Baha’i writings, on the other hand, becomes compatible with the relative freedom of human beings. It is clear that Baha’u’llah’s concept of the mystery of destiny is not one of passivity and unfreedom. To realize one’s destiny is not a mere acceptance of whatever “is”; on the contrary, it is an active movement toward realizing spiritual values in one’s own life and developing the potentialities and perfections hidden like “gems,” in the “mine” of one’s own being (Gleanings 260). the mystery of destiny, then, among other things, precisely implies transcending the opposition between the divine will and the individual will. It represents the actualization of all one’s spiritual powers and the maturation of one’s potentialities to the degree that one freely chooses spiritual values and the will of God. this is the stage of perfect freedom and moral autonomy, in which human potentialities are actualized in harmony with divine revelation. That is why Baha’u’llah defines this valley as both the station of mystery and the secret of maturation. it implies the integration of the approaches based on self, reason, and love.”

Logos And Civilization Spirit, History, and Order in the Writings of Baha’u’llah, Nader Saiedi
Please note, I, esther, can’t find out how to accent appropriate syllables.

From…. WorldUnityMedia.com/ Quote of the Day, Sat., August 13, 2011

“Thou hast asked Me concerning the nature of the soul. Know, verily, that the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind, however acute, can ever hope to unravel. It is the first among all created things to declare the excellence of its Creator, the first to recognize His glory, to cleave to His truth, and to bow down in adoration before Him. If it be faithful to God, it will reflect His light, and will, eventually, return unto Him. If it fail, however, in its allegiance to its Creator, it will become a victim to self and passion, and will, in the end, sink in their depths.”
Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Author: Bahá’u’lláh, Source: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1990 pocket-size edition, Page: 346

Here’s something from my book
You Carry the Heavy Stuff It’s a writing prompt and written in a particular style. Kurt Vonnegut (God Bless you Kurt Vonnegut) said, write 4 lines across the page every night; don’t show it to anyone, but just do it. These were my 4 one day, and the word soul just showed up, like it wanted to be on the word train within this piece. This is also something under Jack Grapes’ (best writing teacher of all time) teaching in that he calls this type of piece To Be Read and Sung, okay enuf said, 4 lines:

Read and Sung
Do not ask of your shadow’s future. Do not dwell on your shadow’s past. Do not ask what others think. Rely not upon the delusions of the many. Do not turn away from certitude and a multisyllabic path. Do not listen to politicians’ rhetoric. Do not become a sleeping mute, a junk yard dog. Do take yourself and shadow on a dual path. Take a soul to lunch this week. Better yet, take your soul with you. Best yet, be your soul.

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Share Quote of the Day with friends.

Reader, my on line writers’ group, CHPercolator, prompts Post July 31, 2011:

You mean life is more than material for books?
Seeds of crazy believe
Black marks march across the page
Working like a canine for very little money
Mended, the floor of my soul was finally strong enough to bear my full weight.

The floor of my soul is doing pretty good now, occasionally it has the strength to do an oingo boingo, like a brand new trampoline! Yesterday, my soul went oingo boingo all day. You betchum Red Rider, The funny thing about souls and weight, when you lean into fine tempering your soul through life experience, or just pulling the splinters and shards of same off the floor, once you get it down, get your soul mended strong enough to bear full weight, it becomes gossamer light.

Which brings me to a gossamer event yesterday of two people who found each other, Red and Jan, and their wedding. No black marks march across the page on this wedding; nope letters of every hue; flamboyant pink, awesome yellow and rainbow blue and ultraviolet appeared in the sky.

Some people might say what kind of seed of crazy are you ingesting old girl, and I tell you, most of the time I live in the land of practicality. Years ago I worked like a canine for good money as a secretary in law firms, good law firms, and now I work like a joyous canine for maybe not as much money, but I am like an abused greyhound dog, or Black Beauty the horse, remember Black Beauty, finally out sharing the pasture of words and events and how to do this and write like you talk, sing, dance, you know. You catch my drift.

A lot of people comment on how much I read. Okay I admit turning our one and only walk in closet top shelves into a library, despite the fact that we live in a two-room pool house might be excessive, but they leave such a lovely glow in my heart. Yes, books glow, but I tell you this reader; are you still with me? I tell you, life is more than material for books!

See you around the trails, around the bend.


It was 1992, and my husband Igorovich insisted we drive to the Wisconsin Cheese Farm to photograph shelves and glassed in cases of cheese, no abundance of lack as in our city, Dnepropetrovsk, where cheese was called sere to my American ears.

We were newly on our honeymoon and I was to bring Igorovich back to my home in Boston, to a family which prided itself on their standing within the generations. My great grandfather had been Sheriff of Suffolk County in the early 1900s, and with a name like “Keliher,” I gathered he’d come over before the potato famine.

But history or generational placement was far from my mind, that hot day when odors of cows and an occasional sniff of sweet grass relieved the tedium of flat stretch after flat stretch of highway, only relieved by country stores, with 12 empty rocking chairs lined up as if to say hello, come to Cracker Barrel and find root beer candy, sarsaparilla drinks from the past.

But no, Igorovich, as I was soon to learn was a “pusher,” and a bull dog, and I a small Chihuahua personality myself, was not match to his drive and intention. But it wasn’t all “plocha” awful, that day as we drove off the highway ramp, the only Edsel for miles, the only car for miles, because I had heard of a writing group on the “net,” as they say.

We parked in the dusty graveled parking lot, headed towards a low slung, ranch style building covered in a wine-colored wood, and as we opened the air conditioned doors, air, cold air blasted us back an inch or two.

Igorovich was rubbing his meaty hands together, reverting to Russian, “Horoshow, Horoshow,” which to my 2 year old level of Russian meant good. What was it about me, my tiny, small persistent personality? I always feel for men in uniform, and Igorovich met me in the open air market (a euphemism for shock of beef on hooks, wedding gowns next aisle over, potatoes which looked abused, and I was asking for Smetana, and Sleevki, one or the other, they are dairy products, don’t have my smetanas and sleevki’s down. That’s three year old language level.

It was love at first sight, and I called him Sleevki Igor, and now cheeses and abundances of the dairy kind led me to a serendipitous moment of great impact, almost as great as meeting my beloved Sleevki Igor, but not quite – nothing could replace the smell of raw beef, a handsome young man bending over my tiny form, sweat on his neck, a delightful clean smell of sweat, and muscled arms, oh a girl could go far in those muscled arms.

There inside the Wisconsin Famous for Its Cheeses door, the air conditioning pushing cow ears back, was someone in an enormous cow uniform. The cow had human legs in the front, and cardboard legs resting on a cheese barrel with lots of miniature sculpted baby cows around his tale, as if to say, “I’m prolific,” and “All us cows do our dairy best,” and so while Igor ambled around more cheese shelves than he had seen in his life, and was blasted away by the “how may we lay our lives down in service for you employees,” I sauntered up to the Cow.

How is it, there’s a figure in there. Who are you. Well the cow must have been embarrassed, so a small voice laced trills and bass notes, said I’m today’s new Cheese Representative, and todays, my first day on the job. What’s good, I said, slowing myself into what was going to be a rolling dialogue/monologue, repartee, Camembert or Cheddar ?

The cow’s voice dropped several octaves, almost like the sounds on the planet we can’t hear and said, “Look lady, I’m a writer, and an umployed one at that. For cheese’s sake, don’t push me.”

You are a writer, you in the cow suit, by this time I gathered he was a man.

Yes, and because he was in a cow suit and was a writer, I shouted behond the pickles and ham slices rolled up drolley besides the Swiss cheese, and called, “Igorovitch, Igorovitch, Ididi, my word for go which meant to Sleevki Igor, come here, as it was the only motion word I knew.

Well Igor and I love people in suits, or uniforms, and a man in a cow uniform on his first day at work, and on our first time in a famous Cheese Factory was the beginning of a propitious relationship.

It turned out, this writer and many others whom he knew would turn out bon mots of the laugh and lie down with your belly to the floor, and I learned through this man, “Steve,” whom Sleevki Igor called “Steevovitch Seritskee” became a life time friend, and in the future we would venture to lands like Kansas, and Boston, my family loved cheese, and then in our later years, we would find a small pool house, which fit our immigrant hearts, and to our delight, we would discover Steevovitch Seritskee was now a famous writer, but he lived still in his modest family home in temple City and we were horoshow (good).

July 21, 2011

CHPerc prompts

“Today should be my wedding day,” said Annie Mae Clare McDougall Habersham as they moved her out of her trailer park, because newspapers in the back entry way were stacked to the ceiling, and I, her 70ish, low on the ish cousin, shirttail cousin at that, was the only lone female within my clan brave enough to enter the sagging trailer on a hot July day, humidity up to sweat and think “Hell,” and to prepare to breathe through the mouth, avoiding unwarranted odors from the decaying tin can of a trailer, collapsing before my very eyes.

I squeeze sideways, even though people call me skinny, I still have to squeeze sideways to make it through the newspaper filled back entryway, which is book marked on the opposite side by those familiar yellow National Geographic’s that people saved thinking, these will be a treasure later.

That’s what it’s all about, saving, hoarding, hoping something for nothing, later, in the dusty future where a ship will come in, a lottery ticket will pay off, Google will reward the younger in our generation for some unknown embryo of an idea, to be planted in everyone’s need section of their brain. We have all become like raw open throated baby birds I think as my nose begins to reject a sour odor, and I move towards what once was an elegantly curved mahogany and soft light green velvet couch, said couch, looking like a Keinholtz replica, with stuffing coming out of its chest instead of Keinholtz’s original piece which portrayed squirrels nesting on a rotted-out breast, to a horrified crowd at the LA Museum on Mid-Wilshire in the mid 60s.

“Today should be my wedding day,” thrums against my brain, quiet cloud like thoughts, pure fluffy white, floating over chaos of broken lamps, hidden treasures of pearl handle knives and a peer or pier mirror tall, tilted against a wall in the corner, ornate gold frame, from floor to ceiling, this mirror abandoned before it was sold to make a lot of money for Annie’s future abundance.

Annie, Annie, Annie. If I were she, I would have changed my last name. What a curse to be named “Habersham,” so Dickensian in its doom, its curse of the unmarried, a curse which makes no sense in these days at the turn of a new century, the 2000s. We don’t worry about being married, not married. We worry about food, prices, greed, and think of the Wall Street Boys bowling with our brains and hearts, and totally removed from what’s really happening here on Hensworth Street in Lake Forest Park.

We are a long way from the real world, and my purpose here is to make sense and get Annie out of her mess. She doesn’t think mess. Annie’s brain is back in the day in 1938 when her to-be husband was cavorting on the sands of Cape Cod, as he ran along side the ocean. He had just turned his head to shout to Annie, a good looking 20 year old with long chestnut hair, long legs, an arched nose, and the moment was truly golden. Golden except for the fact he didn’t see the giant horseshoe crab in front of him and he fell and its long tail pierced his heart.

He was a bleeder, and he didn’t make it through the night. Annie was devastated and simply not right for the rest of her life.

So here I am now, the only practical one in the family whose tree goes back to Habersham and Dickens, and I am here to muck out, and get her into a rest home, and sooth the community association who is afraid that rats are cavorting all over the trailer park.

I see her, slumped over in an old tattered maroon (they don’t use that color any more) Morris chair which is spotted and its wooden slatted frame is scarred from dog scratches. Her dog Pip sits whimpering at her side. Small, runty dog, small slivered woman, and the day we move this shattered bone and mind of an old lady, unnoticed except for the horror of her hoarding, I think, that’s it. She’s the next subject of my next book.

And then, I pull out my cell phone, dial, “We Clean Up Anything,” pick up Pip, who gives a feeble pug cough, tell Annie, “We’ll have you under 800 thread count sheets by tonight,” and call my husband who will drive her to the hospital, and think, “It’s all grist for the mill.”

Did I mention the LA Times had just printed a photo of an old cane chair on top of a junk pile, with its bottom part threaded out, reminiscent of the Pope’s Chair, verifying he was a guy, as mentioned in that lovely book Pope Joan?

Truth is so delightful when turned into fiction. Writer’s block is over.

The wheel of hours was going to be long, and would involve a lot of waiting, just like I’m waiting in this darkened Park Street Subway station, which smells of hot dust and urine, and feels like I am in the vestibule of death, when in reality, I am only on my way to Monday, my first day at a new job.

Reader, can I whine, can I have a plaintive voice. Think of my voice as wine dripping from my mouth and forming letters which complain, and my plaintiveness resembling old tin cup, which when I put my lips on it, curl back and reveal teeth, white, but tired, tired from having to live inside my mouth so long they’ve developed a lacework on their tips. Yeah, the bottom teeth with the dental hygienist said last week, “Oh you have such little teeth. How cute.”

Reader how are 73 year old teeth, the bottom once, which are white, which are precious few, and which are squeezed together as if bunching up in fear, “No don’t take me,” also have had the nerve to show delicate little edges, not smooth lines, and my teeth, I’m afraid are going on to a grey/gray, land of older, older woman, even though I still slash red lipstick on my lips which prune and pout as I ponder the bleak outside world where all the newscasters spewing yellowed print, green print, red print out of their mouths, quickly like blades of steel grass, and they all have opinions. About jobs. It’s about jobs, which is why dear Reader, my life is looking black, purple and I feel a shade coming down, as if it is sundown, and it’s only morning, but I’m off to my new job as photocopier for a law firm.

This law firm is on State Street, where years ago old men wore white spats over their shoes and women in clothe green felt hats, or grey felt, or any kind of felt, color it any way you want, hats, and these hats hid the obedient eyes focused on the rough, knobby cement, glanced at the brick exteriors of old Boston Buildings, spelled the ocean air coming up from the harbor or Harbah if you are a native, and scurried into buildings to be on time for the men they worked for, such as our leisurely white spatted gentlemen circumambulating the Boston Gardens.

This was our out, and it was a good one. Secretaries. Now there’s a word. Reader I once knew practices like Gregg Shorthand even though I took the college courses in high school, I was now and had been a Boston Clerical Girl for years.

Did I mention, at fifty-three I became “temping” later a word exalted to “freelancing,” all words pointing to don’t hire the older woman. Did I mention I wore black a lot, because it was cheap, and slenderizing, a word people don’t use any more. And did I mention I once had a life filled with magentas and yellows and starburst lemon, and grew flowers like the Iris, a delicately laced flower with deep purple hues, and I had dogs that were silky red with long hair, and small little beige squatty little dogs whose curl of tail was beyond creamy, beyond perfection?

But now, I live in the real world. Did I mention when I worked there were no pensions, no this, no that, no insuring one’s end of days with padding of the economic time. I had thought the legal world would protect me, because in the depression of yore legal secretaries found work. Teachers found work. But it is now 2011, and I must work because I could be one step from living in the streets. I will work until I’m 85, or until I can’t see the documents which will come in serried rank, page after page, and I will push, click, staple and fold, and somehow my creaking wheel of hours will end.

Reader, have you ever had a bad week? I mean bad in the sense that you lose everything you put down two inches beyond your reaching hands, tired eyes, and you feel as if your personal radar has up and left you, no longer interested in hanging out carrion-like on the garbage heap of your mind.

Yes, it was on Mother’s Day, that esteemed day when syrup flows from the lips of cards, sons, daughters, dogs, husbands, and loneliness for the unmothers, or unmothered, spikes. It’s probably equally a day of despair. Well, reader, can I call you reader? It was a day like any other, except my eyes creaked open, and I said to my husband, God bless his soul for eternity, as he brought me my second cup of coffee in bed, black, soy silk cream and some Stevia, and this is the 25th year of bringing said cups of coffee to me while I lie like an inert seal, just barely clinging to the rocks, I said “Happy Mother’s Day,’ because why not. If we are going to have any kind of day, reader, may I call you Read? Read, we can wish every happy day, mothers, brothers, dogs. What this world needs is more happy days.

Read, this was not the case on Mother’s Day when caffeined up, I approached my desk looking for my Edward Gorey calendar (I love sick humor), and spent the next 3 hours, tearing through all the paper trash: the recipes I’ll never cook; old drafts of writing; coupons, notifications of home loans even tho we don’t own a home, except in our hearts of course, and Read, you do get my drift.

It took 3 hours and I finally opened a keyboard drawer and there it was. Then I had purchased two things of a monetary nature for Baby Nick who is 6’5” and 42, and spent the next hour looking for the second, until a 30 watt light bulb went off in my head and I went out the door, down the driveway, straight to the paper trash bin, and look in, and scooped up the other economic gift. After that, I didn’t dare go out the door.

I felt crazed, and I felt an elevator shaft of doubt, said shaft having been gone a week or two from my young life. But this elevator shaft of doubt came back with a vengeance, and like a morality play, coming through the village square on an old beat up wagon of straw, with actors spilling out of it, and titles of Morality Plays, such as Lipstick Tube of Beauty, Alchemy of Varicosity, and 3:00 a.m. Epiphany, and I clutched these phrases to my heart; I could say bosom but, on the other hand between “chest,” “bosom” and “heart,” – the latter was easier.

My legs are an alchemy of varicosity, and the 3:00 a.m. Epiphany’s I have are usually after awakening from one of the five routine dreams that have visited me for 25 years. These themes are: I’m still working for law firms. I am moving. I am moving with Bill. Last night I was driving a huge van which I couldn’t see out of (do you think I’m too busy)? No need to tell you the rest. I’ll save them for future prompts.

So back to Mother’s Day and what did I do? Read I sat at my computer and worked on it from 2 in the afternoon to 8 or that night, and basically got an Anthology of writers together-at least 80 percent of it. I cleaned up my desk, which if you want to know is littered once more with papers, and I prepared my CHPercolator prompts. If the world ended, I wanted to have them ready. So now, after I notice my thoughts are like an alchemy of varicosity, I’ll end. But reader, I have merely quarried the top layers of my personal depths. I shudder to think of the granite beyond.

Thanks for listening.

PS. I am off to walk and find a tube of lipstick, hoping said tube will make of my visage a lipstick tube of beauty.

This isn’t to say I don’t have regrets or I don’t remember them. Some regrets sweep away easily when manicured estates employ gardeners impeccably blow lawns, long stretching driveways and sidewalks to reveal nary a curved or crisp autumn leaf. I’m not sure regret can be swept away like autumn leaves.. Then again, I loved autumn leaves on the sidewalk, particularly walking back from the library, the West Roxbury Library on Centre Street, my fingertips feeling the rough concrete images of a stone wall along the upper part of Billings Field. I loved walking under chestnut tree branches and kicking thick piles of yellows, burnt orange, tinged red of maple leaves, everything: leaves just thick enough to walk into piles, scuffing. Ever scuffed? It was hard on my brown tie Oxford shoes, the ones my mother insisted were so good for my feet, but still I walked and scuffed and kicked and felt full of warmth and protection as I hugged my books and stopped to smell burnt leaves in the air nearby.

The smell is wonderful, not a good word for a writer to use, but it’s Sunday afternoon, and I haven’t remembered scuffing leaves for eons. Easier to remember the leaves, the scuffs, than the regrets. I regret I never sang for my father, and that I didn’t kiss my mom goodbye, the day she died, and I left that morning in a hurry because I had to take 2 trolleys to high school because were moved to the city, Back Bay if you want to know, by the Charles River near the Harvard and MIT crews, where we walked the Pug and the Boxer even when the wind tore through us.

I certainly wish I had done better with my teeth. That’s a universal regret. Somehow I know this. I wish I had been able to continue piano lessons. I wish I had studied computing, and maybe taken auto mechanics in first grade. But I don’t regret Miss Higgins, my first grade teacher, or my Uncle Bill Johnson, who brought us molasses candy in long oblong boxes, a box for each kid, and the sticky time of it after Sunday roast beef dinner. I don’t regret his cartoons of my mother following our kitty whose tail stuck up to the ceiling, and a string from her rear parts moved along the floor, under the shadow of my mother with scissors. He called this cartoon “The Lost Cord.” I don’t regret the bookcases filled with books, and the absolute privilege I took as a human right, to sit in a huge chair and read, and not be interrupted, because that was normal in my house. “I’m reading,” gave each reader a sacred space.

I regret not knowing my parents, or the other adults for that matter, knowing them as people. I tried with my father, but my mother died early. I regret moments of being a bully, and that’s private and a long ago. I regret being so afraid of things, but don’t want to sweep it away like errant leaves which escape a rake. I regret most that my twin and I were such opposites and lived most of the time in the tension of the opposites. (Reader this phrase is right up there with “grist for the mill” which I use too frequently, but I have dropped, “my dendrites are hanging out.”) We were opposites: when young, she sturdy and athletic to my frail, roller skating, but bookish self. She kept her emotions tucked in like a North Easter, a person from Maine, and yup and nup and her not speaking of emotional revelations fell over her like a yellow slicker preventing rain. I was the emotive, get-into-trouble twin, funny, daring, but underneath probably equally unsettled or frightened. I regret in our later years her wall regarding my beliefs, but I don’t regret going beyond this wall and caring for her 2 years in a row, and in her final days, her reaching out to me, lifting arms from a body ravaged by cancer, and wanting to be held. And hold her I did. Nope, I won’t sweep that away.

Jim Nelson passed on last Saturday night, surround by intimate family, and joy. Since then our hearts pulsated for Dorthy Nelson, his wife of over 60 years. They are spiritually humble giants, and I personally think no one in the Baha’i Community took them for granted. We treasured them at evry moment.

Last night was the Baha’i Community’s Feast (Feast of Ala Glory) Lord, it’s late; hope that i have that right. Our chairperson when she introduced consultation, said, “I offer you all condolences,” and I was struck by her sensitivity. Everyone who met Jim loved him. He had a huge, huge spirit, honed from years of perceptions. He had a fine mind, and could say thing in ways none of us were or are able to, and he and Dorothy were incredible together.

Below is a brief passage of life after death concepts.
Tonight we all went to “fireside” which is a gathering people of all ages, skin colors, creeds, heights, weights, gather for inquiry regarding the Baha’i Faith. There must have been 50 people in the room; it glowed, and flowers all around reminded us of his recent passing. A husband and wife spoke, as they had met each other in that very room, some umpteenyears ago, and their 13 year old son wrote a song, and played the guitar, while his 11 year old younger brother sang the lyrics. Our speaker spoke of the soul eloquently and engagingly. Heaven and hell: a Bahá’í view of life after death.

One of our friends played the piano at the end of every evening, but tonight, did it before a social hours

“What song are you going to play, John?”, Dorothy asked

John, his hands already on the keys, said, “For Me and My Gal.” and the timing and the serendipity of the title of the song was incredible.

what an evening. Tomorrow Jim’s burial will be at the Inglewood Cemetery in Inglewood where many Baha’is are buried. Thornton Chase, the first North America Baha’i is buried there. He died in 1912. No quite sure of exact year, but thin i have it.

As in the world’s other religions, the Bahá’í concept of life after death is deeply integrated into teachings about the nature of the soul and the purpose of this earthly life.

Bahá’u’lláh confirmed the existence of a separate, rational soul for every human. In this life, He said, the soul is related to the physical body. It provides the underlying animation for the body and is our real self.

Although undetectable by physical instruments, the soul shows itself through the qualities of character that we associate with each person. The soul is the focal point for love and compassion, for faith and courage, and for other such “human” qualities that cannot be explained solely by thinking of a human being as an animal or as a sophisticated organic machine.

The soul does not die; it endures everlastingly. When the human body dies, the soul is freed from ties with the physical body and the surrounding physical world and begins its progress through the spiritual world. Bahá’ís understand the spiritual world to be a timeless and placeless extension of our own universe–and not some physically remote or removed place.

Entry into the next life has the potential to bring great joy. Bahá’u’lláh likened death to the process of birth. He explains: “The world beyond is as different from this world as this world is different from that of the child while still in the womb of its mother.”

The analogy to the womb in many ways summarizes the Bahá’í view of earthly existence. Just as the womb constitutes an important place for a person’s initial physical development, the physical world provides the matrix for the development of the individual soul. Accordingly, Bahá’ís view life as a sort of workshop, where one can develop and perfect those qualities which will be needed in the next life.

“Know thou, of a truth, that if the soul of man hath walked in the ways of God, it will, assuredly return and be gathered to the glory of the Beloved,” Bahá’u’lláh wrote. “By the righteousness of God! It shall attain a station such as no pen can depict, or tongue can describe.”

In the final analysis, heaven can be seen partly as a state of nearness to God; hell is a state of remoteness from God. Each state follows as a natural consequence of individual efforts, or the lack thereof, to develop spiritually. The key to spiritual progress is to follow the path outlined by the Manifestations of God.

Beyond this, the exact nature of the afterlife remains a mystery. “The nature of the soul after death can never be described,” Bahá’u’lláh writes.

Judge James Nelson

A Humble Tribute
(Written to CHPercolator Writing Group)
Esther Bradley-DeTally

Well, I might as well spit it out, and I think the best people to spit it out to is the CHPerc community, because you know what? Are you with me? You guys, and me too, include me, yep, are solid. We have something here, more than exchange of little, Times New Roman 12, words going across the ocean, and up into Wyoming, Nebraska, England, India, Pakistan, and even down in Temple City, California. We are a mix, we guys, and sometimes we rendezvous at restaurants near Disneyland, in Anaheim, (eat your heart out), or sometimes we just smile when a Haiku from Cochabamba trots up to our eyeball level. We are a tender, loving community, and we surf our waves, up, down, across and under.

I first thought about our circle of writers and their compassion for one another. We are Muslim, Christian, Bahá’í, Agnostic, you catch my drift. We are old, young, funny, serious, and all becoming people who sling words around either like the best fried hash in town, or bonbons wrapped in chocolate to kill for. I particularly noticed this underlying theme of caring a few years ago when one of us died, and Mike, Mike the wonderful Army man, often times in the Middle East, had a week off and somehow managed to be in the States, and managed to go to the funeral.

Something happened the other night at 8 p.m. which I’ll get to. Be patient reader. You know it’s all grist for the mill, but you know me. I have to go down and out and twist and turn within the rabbit warrens of my mind, before I spit it out. Yeah, spit it out.

A wonderful man, married for over 60 years to an equally wonderful wife, sat in a quiet family celebration, Bahá’í days of gift-giving and service. He just had dinner, and was sitting in his favorite chair, when all of a sudden, silence, and his huge, huge spirit left the physical world. Yep, this world we all know and love called the blue marble, the planet of names, this Purpose of Physical Reality, this soul workshop. He soared on to the other worlds of God.

This man was the cause of my finding my beloved Faith, a Faith often referred to as the “Spirit of the New Age.” This Faith has carved me out, taken barnacles off my soul. Now, I look at a lot, a lot, a lot, of people and see the Face of God in them. It’s not about lines, or borders, because the human heart doesn’t measure souls that way.

He was like a spiritual father to me and countless others. I will add my relationship to my birth father, although try as he may, was hard for both of us. We seemed to be two peas in the wrong pod. I often felt I never sang for my father, which is the title of a play and a play on words, which means I never was enough. But fortunately, I know deep in my bone marrow, most of us do our best, and if there was sand in my Becoming-A-Pearl-In-My-Shell, this sand grit buffed me up, polished me, for the here and now of today, and as I write these words I think, yeah, I’m an old Poil of a Goil.

So this man Jim, in whose Bahá’í community I live, sat and encouraged every fledgling speaker trying to reflect oneness in the world, shape their words. He also performed the marriage ceremony of my son Nicholas and his wife Laura. He’s visibly gone now. When I first heard the news, I felt a gasp within me and then my thoughts rushed to, “Dorothy, Dorothy,” his wife. They are like overlapping Venn diagrams, circles within, over, around, under each other. We in the local Bahá’í community know our treasures, and passionately love them. We never have taken them for granted. Every minute of their lives they welcomed, hugged, encouraged, and shed love and wisdom unto all of us waiting souls.

I know I’m overwriting. I’m trying to keep this simple. That’s why for you writers out there I’m doing a little bit of “write like you talk” with a “straight talk” phrase thrown in. If I really went into the majesty of this couple, my writing would become so multisyllabic and operatic that my prose would jump off the page.

So instead, I imagine this man who was magnanimous and majestic and prodigious in thought (had to get that word in) in his physical and spiritual presence, now seems to me like a 500 pound canary in spirit. You might say, “His cage door opened, and he went.”

May my life be worthy of all those who serve in this century of change.

Thanks for letting me share, and now, prayers and solace to his incredible wife—I will carry her around in the inner folds of my heart for a long time.

I think in the end, we all end up pulsating with love for one another.

Subject: Total Moral Victory in the World’s Worst Prison Today (For Friends, the Public, as well as the Media)

Dearest Family and Friends:

The following is a vivid testimony to the ultimate moral, mental, and spiritual integrity, dignity, and destiny of the Baha’is and indeed of the entire human race:

Ever since the most unjust and undignified imprisonment some three years ago, without a single crime, of the most innocent, the pure, and the saintly Baha’i Leaders in Iran called Yaran, and their subsequent transfer from the Evin Prison to the most backward and unusually harsh prison of Rajaei Shahr where some 5000 topmost killers, drug dealers, and others are kept in clusters under sub-human conditions, despite the lack of food, toilet, sanitation, and basic subsistence conditions, despite the dirt, filth, and illness, in pitiful conditions themselves, the two saint Baha’i ladies Mahvash and Fariba, as with the other five in the men’s quarters, have by the power of their Faith managed to support and uplift the minds and hearts of their fellow pitiful prisoners by giving them their relentless and genuine loving support to the poorer, the more needy, and the more frail fellow prisoners, seeing no evil in any soul, finding and nurturing dignity even in such a man-forsaken hell, and by such genuine constant manifestations of loving kindness, tact, and wisdom, they have now won, as a testimony to human moral triumph, the hearts and minds and the respect of the entire company of these same so-called “criminal” fellow prisoners, despite the moribond conditions and with all forms of dangers to their own very lives!

Over the months, whenever by token of the only good modern-day miracle of cell phone in the prison yard it was made possible for me to hear several times from Fariba herself, and on the one and only occasion when I got the chance and was so blessed by Divine Destiny to visit the two most precious ladies from behind their prison cabins two months ago for one hour myself, as well as from other family members and even directly from prison guard, I heard myself how miraculously the dangerous killers and criminals had been overwhelmingly moved and transformed by the vivifying souls of these two saintly Ladies.

One can recall the moving poem by Mahvash which shook the world, who, amidst the extreme pains of her own, backed against the withered single pomegranate tree in the prison yard, contemplates how the entire burden of these soul-and-body tortured fellow prisoners and indeed all the down-trodden suffering women of the World are now on her shoulder.

I am still amazed how for the entire three years during the rare occasions she could talk on the phone at various times, I never heard Fariba’s voice even once tremble slightly except for joy, with full faith, complete optimism, and total jubilation, as if walking in the highest Paradise all these long suffering days and months and years.

I still recall the moving sharing lessons of Fariba relaying to me how she had found the single remaining hidden spot of beauty and purity in each and all of these worldly despised and abandoned souls. I remember when she described to me the miracle account of how the most feared gang leader of the prison mafia, despite the huge body, knife-cut and broken face and other fearsome features, shun by all other killers and criminals, had been so moved by our twin spiritual heronies over time that she had on one occasion when Fariba had to pass a toilet dirt mud which had become watery sludge after rain, with their prison-customary slippers, she saw Fariba from far and told her from the distance “Please wait, please wait, may your holy feet not be touched and smeared by these dirts”, then, throwing her own slippers bode and insisted Fariba to kindly step on her slippers and pass by the place lest she be mired. No such things happen in any deadly criminal prison anywhere in the world, specially not in any place similar to this Rajaei Shahar, where only for the mere sake of prolonging an already issued death sentence with formalities paperwork procedures, often the killer kills one more unfortunate and helpless person often at random in the prison, days prior to the execution.

I remember how once Fariba was so overjoyed to tell me how one of her friends, where a few had died mercilessly by swine flu and cast and treated like swines by prison authorities, had first completely given up strong drug addiction, only to replace it with super heavy cigarette addiction, then, by the loving care of our two Baha’i Ladies, day by day she had been reducing smooking to the last one cigarette per day. Fariba told me how that day, just a month ago, Fariba hugged that lady, and rather than insisting or requesting her to give up the final cigarette, only told here gently how much she loved her and was proud of her who despite her years of bad luck in life turning her into a despised criminal, she had obtained the positive hope, the will power, and the supreme determination to accomplish what so many others in the free world had failed to succeed despite all facilities, toos, and support. Fariba told me how the lady, now a close friend, immediately threw to the ground the last final cigarette, crushed it with her heels, and, cried and said: Today I finally give up this addiction for the sake of love of you, as I feel and know that some day I shall visit you in your home and tell you and show you the effect of the loving transformation you have affected and created in me and our many other fellow prison mates!

This is how a candle can shine like the torch, nay as the mid-day Sun, in the darkness of desolation, pessimism and hopelessness, and selfishness that has overshadowed the human society.

Now, I just spoke to Fariba few hours ago on the phone who called from the Rajaei Shahr Prison.

For your information, as the latest news, by tomorrow the two most precious angelic ladies, and the crowning pride of future human civilization will be transferred to the worst section of the Prison entitled “The Under-Ground Dungeon for the Worst of the Villains and Criminals”.

This latest panic move by a remorsely helpless oppressor signifies an entirely unparalled scenario in the World History ever, even up to the present date; that is, for the holy and saintly riligious prisoners of conscience to be once more exiled within the prison, one more tier down from the already terrible exiled Prison allocated for the worst of criminals, killers, and drug addicts to the lower degree underground dungeon for the most dangerous criminals amongst them, just becasue these two already grossly-wronged innocent Saint Lady Prisoners, while in the prison under sub-human conditions, have by their shear Faith and their most pure love and consistent un-conditional tireless and selfless caring actions have transformed the prison-hell into a moral and spiritual Paradise, by moving the souls, changing the hearts, educating the minds and rectifying the conducts of the worst criminals, killers, and drug addicts to such a degree as to empower on the one hand many to give up their severe drug addictions simply on their own free will and by natural encouragement they so lovingly received rather than by persuation and without the need to appeal to any medicine or doctors or tools, or force while against all odds in such deprived hell-prison, and on the other hand enable most others to repent and wash their hands and hearts away from all crimes, purely through the power of real love and by the intense natural free persuation of mind and transformation of heart solely affected via the dynamic power of example of the Twin Tahirih’s of the Time!

Fariba said today on the phone that despite the repeated public prison loudspeaker announcements and stern warnings for all prisoners to stay and shun away, and do not associate with the Baha’i prisoners, groups upon groups of prison ladies thronged and gathered around their cell these past three days, with tearful eyes and warm hugging arms and in a unified supreme array of moral support and expressions of reciprocal love and as spontaneous sign of total unified allegience by all prisoners to the Two Saint Ladies whom they have grown to know as Angels from Heaven stationed in this human hell of a notoriously fanatic and repressive unhumane and dark Regime. Even in the oppressors, the Baha’is see light and apply the transforming and healing power of Baha’ullah’s Revelation which is the Most Great Elixir to ultimately
apply the unifying panacea to the ailing body of the World of humanity and finally affect the evolutionary transformation by God’s Will to the entirety of humankind.

“God hath, likewise, as a bounty from His presence, abolished the concept of “uncleanness”, whereby divers things and peoples have been held to be impure. He, of a certainty, is the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous. Verily, all created things were immersed in the sea of purification when, on that first day of Ridván, We shed upon the whole of creation the splendours of Our most excellent Names and Our most exalted Attributes. This, verily, is a token of My loving providence, which hath encompassed all the worlds. Consort ye then with the followers of all religions, and proclaim ye the Cause of your Lord, the Most Compassionate; this is the very crown of deeds, if ye be of them who understand.” Baha’u’llah; Aqdas #75

Just hours ago, Fariba in most happy tone of voice told me that one of the miracles of the Supreme Manifestation of God, Baha’u’llah, is that to the degree He gives His loved ones sufferings for the sake of the mental and moral and spiritual education and upliftment of humanity in this dark age of the transition to the collective maturity of the entire human race, to a multiple degree of that He also bestows upon them true felicity, joy, and jubilation; and that how truly happy she is that she is going down to the underground dungeon, with no fear nor a bit concern for imminent interrogations and torture.

This, reminded me vividly of her hand-written letter to me some thirty years back, in 1982 or 1983, posted from Babolsar to Boston, when our dearly beloved martyrs had just ascended to the Abha Kingdom, how she wished to be like the example of the root of the Cause of God, that Divine Tree which is neither of the East nor of the West, whose roots are firm in the earth (dark, cold, wet, lowly soil of the earth as she described), so that its branches and fruits, us, the Baha’is and all the people of good will in the outside world, can overshadow and benefit the entire human kind. Surely that Divine Tree is growing to overshadow the entire human race, now that the roots are going deeprer inside the darkness of human soul in order to bring and apply the world-wide healing remedy of Baha’u’llah.

What a sublime drama in the human history!

Speechless in awe and admiration, I remain.

Ya Baha’u’l – Abha!
(Oh Thou The Most Glorious Glory!)

(name deleted for safety purposes)

Dear All Out There – this newsletter is from TC Paulinkonis, and I have been corresponding with TC for 8 or so years. We met through the International Women’s Organization of Writers. She’s spunky, has integrity and I thought this letter important enough to put on my blog. Love to all, esther

The T.C. & Mama ´P´ Newsletter – 1st QTR, 2011

Dear Family of Friends,
As we face the beginning of a new year and hopefully changes towards a better tomorrow, you will notice a change or two to the format of this newsletter. While I have had no problem making my voice heard in regards to prison politics and select injustices within the system, I thought that it may be interesting to add a few more voices to the true intents of this quarterly report. There are other prisoners who have more knowledge in certain areas, and I thought, „Why not bring them on board?“ So, I did.
In this issue you will be introduced to Liz Lozano, who at the age of 16 was sentenced to die in prison. I am appalled by the fact that our legal system is locking kids away with ridiculously lengthy adult sentences, including LWOP, which is Life Without the Possibility of Parole. Pretty much a detach sentence without the lethal injection. With new focus on legislation to provide those kids at least half a chance as a second chance, I wanted to dedicate attention on the subject. So, I invited Liz, who as both a writer and a jubenile offender sentenced as an adult, is the perfect candidate to take on this issue in each future issue, beginning with this one.
I have invited another prisoner to address healthcare service and the aging inmate population and their concerns. I hope to intoduce her in the next issue, as she was working on a piece about breast cancer when we had to go to press.
This newsletter is intented to address concerns, answer questions, and provide updates and relative knowledge. If you have any ideas to improve it, please feel free to share your thoughts. After all, it is for you, the reader.
May this be a good year, with a new governor, and opportunities for all of us on our paths.
Namasté
T.C. and Mama ´P´

Please Help Free Molly Kilgore
A couple of issues back, I requested support letters to be sent to Molly Kilgore‘s counselor to be shared with the Parole Board. Now, I need fo ryou to do something very simple. I‘m going to write a sample letter below that I‘m requesting each of you in turn write, copy, whatever … just get it mailed off to Governor Jerry Brown ASAP please. I‘ll let the letter speak for itself.

Dear Governor Brown,
I am wiritng on behalf of Molly Kilgore, W14177, currently incarcerated at C.C.W.F. in Chowchilla. Ms. Kilgore has served 32 years on a 7-years-to-life sentence. Like most young adults who received that sentence in the late 1970‘2, she was left with the impression that she‘d have been paroled long ago. It should be noted that not only did the courts recommend that she be released once already, but last year the BPH also found her suitable, only to have Governor Schwarzenegger reverse it. The BPH has once again found Ms. Kilgore suitable for parole at a January 12th hearing. I respectfully request that you support the panel‘s findings and grant the parole of Molly Kilgore.
Ms. Kilgore has a thick file of achievements, certificates, volunteerism, exceptional supervisor‘s reports, and extensive self-help participation in courses and groups alike. However, it is more imperative to point out that Ms. Kilgore has had 32 years to grow, change and gain personal insight into the full impact of her crime and victim, as well as the elements involved both directly and indirectly. She has been accepted by the crossroads re-entry program, and has made plans for a productive future that I hope you‘ll allow her to pursue. Please see relative decency in granting her parole in 2011.
Respectfully,
Your name & address
Send to: Governor Brown
State Capital Bldg.
Sacramento, CA 95814

A Second Chance
Where is a lifer to go if they have nowhere to parole to? That is a good question. I have an answer: Crossroads.
Crossroads is a long-term transitional housing program where newly released female parolees can learn how to readjust to life beyond prison walls. After a couple of decades in lock-up, one needs a re-entry program like this. It helps reduce culture shock and recidivism. They are taught substance abuse prevention and avoidance, education, life skills, and Crossroads also offers serious employment-related services. They even help you open a savings account to where you deposit at least ¾ of your paycheck to build up your own financial stability. At the end of yorur stay (about 6 months), you will be more suitable for once again becoming an independently responsible citizen.
Crossroads is ran by Sister Terry Dodge in Claremont, CA on October 26, 2010, she was one of five recipients of the Minerva Award, created by Maria Shriver in 2004. This award recognizes extraordinary legacies of service and contributions to California and the country. The other four recipients were Oprah, Sandra Day O‘ Connor, Carolyn Blaysek (who launched operation Gratitude to send personalized care packages to deployed soldiers), and Oral Lee Brown (who founded educational and financial support to at-risk school children). The Minerva Award winners receive $25k grants to further their work. First Lady Michelle Obama was amongst the many participants in The Women‘s Conference 2010, where the award was presented.
Mama ´P´has applied to Crossroads. This means that volunteers involved with the program will help write letters in support of her release to the Parole Board. They will tell the Board that not only do they have the perfect place for mom to parole to, but that they welcome her with open arms. It is next to impossible to line up a residence and employment plans from behind prison walls, but Crossroads is offering mom both at once. It is the perfect opportunity to help set her free.

Letters of Support Needed ASAP!
Mama ´P´and I are both soon to be scheduled on the calendar for a 2011 Parole Consideration Hearing. Mama in about November, myself in December. There is no way on God‘s green earth that the BPH will ever grant the both of us a release date in the same year, let alone one month apart. My #1 priority has always been that my mother be released first. She doesn‘t belong here. Therefore, while I‘m giving it serious consideration to waive my parole hearing again to take the spotlight off of myself, I‘m also advocating for her release. This is where you come in. I need your help.
If you can read this newsletter, then that means that you can write a letter. There are at least 60 people reading this. Every letter can make a difference. If everyone assumes that out of the other 59 people there will certainly be enough letters written, then we accomplish nothing. I want everyone to assume that NONE of the other 59 people are writing a letter, and start hitting the keyboard.
We aren‘t asking you for financial aid or housing to be promised in your letters. We are only asking that you point out mom‘s good record and clean C-file, and adamantly show support that the BPH allow her to parole to Crossroads. Your letter can include the following facts:
· How long you have known her
· The fact that she‘s been disciplinary-free her entire 21 years of incarceration, which is rare for a lifer
· Her volunteerism in the Sexual Abuse Awareness and prevention Workshops conducted within the prison‘s educational department (with emphasis on non-violent resolution)
· The fact that her dauther, Teresa, has gone on the record countless times accepting full responsibility for a crime that her mother neither committed, participated, or had any knowledge of until nine months after the fact, once they were arrested
· Include considering factors such as her age (she‘ll be 70 at time of hearing), deteriorating health, and the fact that it is costing California taxpayers over $80k a year to continue to imprison her
· You may want to include your personal feeling about what she has to offer society given her life experiences, and your thoughts on the injustice of a denial of parole
· Please include her current parole plans to go straight to Crossroads Re-entry Program directly from C.C.W.F.

There have been some of you who wanted to help in wirting a support letter, but just couldn‘t organize the words. I‘m about to help you with that be creating a sample letter. You can copy it, reword it, take parts of it to incoporate into your own letter, or simply use it as a guide. Whatever you do, please take this request seriously and write those letters and send to addresses below. Thank you!

Original to: Central California Women‘s Facility
Attn. CCI Burretta
P.O. Box 1501
Chowchilla, CA 93610

Copies to : Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati and Pauline (Barbara) Paulinkonis
Attn. Elisabeth Peterson W45120 514-16-4L
650 Page Mill Road P.O. Box 1508
Palo Alto, CA 9403 Chowchilla, CA 93610

Sample Letter To Support Parole Suitability
Dear Board of Parole Hearings,
Please allow me to address my concerns regarding the consideration of parole suitability for Pauline (Barbara) Paulinkonis, W45120, housed at C.C.W.F. 514-16-4L.
I have known Barbara for about (ten) years now, and given that her daughter, Teresa, has openly taken sole responsibility for the life crime (that Barbara only learned about after their arrest nine months later), it seems highly unjust to continue to keep her imprisoned for a crime she did not commit. She cannot be expected to make a false confession to seek her freedom.
While enrolled in the Sierra Vista Adult School, Barbara has completed two vocational training courses in Electronics and Graphic Arts. She was one unit shy of a completion in Upholstery when she was reassigned after an annual program review. She also completed courses in Parenting, Substance Abuse, Victim Impact Self-Awareness, and Breaking Barriers. Those courses provided insight into coping with anger management, cognitve awareness, communication, problem-solving, goal setting, victim impact and perception, healing & recovery, as well as resiliency and giving back to society. She added a second Parenting class to her resumé and has used her personal life experiences and traumas to volunteer in conducting dosens of workshops on sexual abuse and Domestic Violence Awareness/Prevention to promote healing options and non-violent resolution.
Barbara has remained disciplinary free her entire 21 years of incarceration. She would prove to be an asset to the many victims of abuse at vomen‘s shelters, where she hopes to commit to volunteer work. She has applied to Crossroads, a re-entry program that welcomes female lifers back into society with the structure to provide a second chance. I ask only that you too, give her that chance. Her prison record speaks for itself.
Respectfully,
Your name/address

Q & A With T.C.
Q: You often sign off letters & newsletter with Namasté. What does that mean?
A: NAMASTÉ is an ancient Sanskrit word that means this: The Divine light in me, greets and embraces the Devine light in you.
Q: What is a nexus in regards to parole suitability?
A: I‘ll use myself as an example. I have two disciplinary 115‘s for force and violence. The first was in 1993 against a bully classified as mutual combat. I couldn‘t just NOT stand up to her. The second was in 1998. That one was classified as a battery, a more serious charge. I didn‘t wait to get hit that time. I learned my lesson after receiving a concussion in the 1993 incident. In the latter, I knocked the other inmate‘s hand away from my face and shoved her backwards away from myself. I stepped away myself, not wanting to fight, however, by my knocking her hand away and her body away from me, I was found quilty of battery. This is where the Nexus comes in. Due to the fact that both 115‘s are directly related to violence (regardless of why), the BPH sees it as being the first place. That is the nexus. The connection. The legal grounds that the BPH will use to justify a denial of parole. They‘ll say the nexus proves that I still demonstrate a risk level of a threat to society.
Q: How does a lifer prepare for a Parole Hearing?
A: Technically, if you stay ready, you don‘t have to get ready. It helps to have all of your certificates, chronos for participation in groups and other commendable activities, Supervisor‘s reports, GED/Diploma, and letters of support all in a file and organized neatly. Many lifers go to their hearings unprepared. It takes months to prepare, not just the two weeks before the hearing.
Q: Are lifers required to relive their crime at the hearing?
A: No, not required. I‘ve done so at mine thus far. How will they know how I feel if I don‘t? Remorse is a vital key to true insight, and unless you can look at where you‘ve been and what you‘ve done, you can never truly do a personal inventory. However, at a certain point in hearing after hearing over the years, attorneys have stepped up and said to the panel, „we are not here to discuss the life crime itself, but the woman who committed that crime.“ In other words, your prison record, behaviorism, achievements, and personal growth. After all, that is the real reason behind the hearing: Your progress.
Q: What happens if the BPH denies parole based upon irrational nexus or other excuse not justifiable?
A: In the event you‘re denied, you can file a Writ of Habeas Corpus, especially if the panel did not make a justifiably rational nexus as to why you CURRENTLY pose a risk of danger to society. All of the certificates, chronos and support letters you gathered in support of a favorable finding for a parole grant, can be included as exhibits for the writ.
Q: Can you please tell me again, what can I send in to you?
A: You mean besides all of your well wishes and good lovin‘? Sure, I‘m often asked this question due to the list getting misplaced or memory fading. Here is the list:
· 40 plain or embossed envelopes; white only, no colored envelopes or security type with print on inside of envelope.
· 20 postcards – picture type or postal embossed.
· 40 postage stamps maximum per mailing regardless of face value.
· 10 greeting cards with envelopes (white envelopes only). No musical or 3-D type.
· 4 writing tablets; white or yellow paper only.
· Up to 500 sheets of stationary paper (fancy & cute allowed).
· Money orders made payable to our full name and W#, or by credit card directly to our account via JPAY.com or WESTERN UNION. We receive it within 24 hours.

A Few Statistics To Chew On
· The number of women in prison has increased 800% within last three decades.
· 42% of incarcerated women never completed high school or earned GED.
· Two-thirds of women in prison are mothers.
· More than 147.000 minors have mothers in prison.
· 24% of incarcerated women are diagnosed with a mental illness.
· Most incarcerated womenwith a psychiatric disorder do not receive treatment.

A Simple „Thank You“
Mama ´P´ wishes to thank whomever has continued to anonymously subscribe her weekly issues of TV Guide. She‘s received it for years now, unaware of the person‘s identity. Your gift has made her TV planning schedule much more convenient, and she thanks you.

Quaker‘s Cancelled Stamps Mission
Since Brad Hathaway began the cancelled stamps project well over a decade ago, the Quaker‘s Friends Meetings have collected stamps of all shapes, sizes, values and countries. The stamps are sold to collectors, with the profits going to worthy causes that include third world countries that don‘t have fresh water to drink, let alone any medical clinics. Through the stamp project it has been possible to build a clinic in Kenya and provide the daily necessities to the needy that we all too often have taken for granted ….. like shoes, or mosquito nets, or food. The project has successfully collected nearly $80k in aid for those in need. Please make a difference. Keep sending me your cancelled stamps off of your mail, careful not to cut or damage the stamp. This is a never ending project. You may not know who you helped, but you‘ll know that you did.

Who Sentences Kids To Life In Prison?
Back in the early 1990‘s in the state of California, there were teenagers being sentenced as adults, and hardly anyone thought twice about it. I was delivered to CCWF in July 1992 unaware of the wave of juvenile offenders that would face the same fate as myself. In may cases, they were dealt a bigger blow than I was. And for some ridiculous reason, it was legal.
An onslaught of liberal legislators wanted to turn their tough on crime focus onto youth offenders. They argued for the passage of AB136, saying that it would only affect a small percentage of youths. In the state of California, in 1994 there were 234 arrests of youngsters between the ages of 14 and 16 for homicide. During that time, there was a rise in gang affiliated violence, but not all violence was gang violence. However, leave it to the Republicans to make it appear so.
After the enactment of AB136, future legislative sessions brought forth even more bills to make it all the more easier to try and sentence teenagers as adults. The list of juvenile offenses expanded to include everything from the penal code that could result in an adult prosecution. Futhermore, the burden of proof switched from the prosecutor to the defense team to show just cause why a juvenile offender should not be transferred from Juvenile Court to Criminal Court. Now, I had a Public Defender, so I know what it is like to have an attorney not fight for you. Imagine being 16 years old and having your fate int he hands of an attorney who just doesn‘t dive a damn. I can tell you, I have friends here at CCWF that don‘t have to imagine it. They are the victims of bad laws.
In March 2000, voters were asked to approve a ballot measure called „The Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime prevention Act.“ In ballot terms, it was Proposition 21, which rewrote over 50 pages of law related to the California Juvenile Justice System. This includes the decision to try juveniles as adults at the sole discretion of prosecutors without any judical review or hearing.
Prop 21 mandated secure confinement and stronger panalites for a wide range of violations, including vandalism. However, and this is scary, it clarified that juvenile offenses would count under the existing adult Three Strikes Law.
While it was the California District Attorneys Association that advocated for years a law such as Prop 21, Pete Wilson, the governor during this reign of madness embraced it. He made it a big part of his political agenda. He had his sights set on the White House, and his path looked positive, so of course corporate supporters jumped on his bandwagon to help the „Yes on 21“ campaign. They hoped for political favor down the road. Corporations like ARCO, UNOCAL 76, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Hilton Hotels all made a healthy $50k contribution. Chevron contributed $25k. It is not that these corporations wanted tougher laws against youthful offenders; they simply wanted to be in Wilson‘s back pocket if he made it to the White House. Once they were confronted by the public opposition, many withdrew their moral support, but their money was not refundable.
Once Wilson left office, Gray Davis became the new governor and continued to push for the passage of Prop 21. He had a little help from the CCPOA, the prison guard‘s union. They plopped down another healthy contribution of over two million dollars. For them, it is job security. In the big house, the more inmates , the better. It didn‘t really matter if they were kids or adults, just fill the beds!
Most voters do not research the propositions that they vote on. Many go according to the TV ads and press coverage. They thougth that Prop 21 was asking them to endorse a measure to prevent uvenile violence and street gangs. If they knew what it really ws, it would‘ve had less support. Opponents could not raise the big corporate dollars that governors can, and Prop 21 was passed by a large majority of voters. Most, knew not what they had done.
Adolescents, with their frequent cynicism, arrogance, sarcasm, and tough minded approach, may seem to have the analytical and formal thinking skills of a young adult, but neuroscience has proven that the opposite is true. They can be naive, overy sensitive to criticism, and have a lack of understanding to their own egocentric demeanor. At about the age of 14 or 15, they are begin making conclusions using deductive and inductive reasoning. Piaget described analytic thinking as „requiring a certain level of intellectual maturity, brain capacity, motivation, and practice.“ They are still developing impulse control, capacity to plan and strategize, and that doesn‘t include coping skills. When it comes to weighing risks and consequences, things such as personality, culture, and the given sitation, should all be taken into account! Risk taking behavior increases from age 11-18. The younger the youth is, the more serious their consequences of risk taking. A year in prison is far more detrimental to a 16 year old than a 40 year old. Why am I telling you all of this? Because these are the very individuals that Proposition 21 and AB136 focused on. They could have been your son, or daughter, sister, or brother. Heck, they could‘ve been you.
There are prisoners here with me at CCWF that were arrested as teenagers and tried as adults with adult sentences. At the ages of 16 and 17 years old, with no prior criminal history, they received life sentences. There are quite a few with LWOP – Life Without the Possibility of Parole. Who gives a kid a sentence to die in prison and throws away the key? I once read that it is easier to help a kid than to repair an adult. What were those judges thinking? When you give a youth 25, 35, 45 and 50 years to life, I gotta ask, „How do you sleep at night?“
There are over 200 individuals serving LWOP sentences in California prisons, that were basically sentenced to die in prison for crimes committed as juveniles. They weren‘t considered old enough to vote and in some cases, to even drive a car, yet same idiot decided they were competent to be treated as an adult once the DA had them in custody. One of those kids was Liz Lozano. I‘ve asked her to make a quarterly contribution to this newsletter as the voice for youthful offenders sentenced as adults. By joining forces, maybe we can get the word out there and get you involved too. All I‘m asking is that you keep an open mind, listen to the facts, look at the inhumane laws, and hopefully you‘ll agree that to lock up a kid and not give them a second chance is deemed cruel and unusual punishment. One bad decision as a juvenile should not constitute locking them up and throwing away the key. Please, read on, get involved, and be a spoke in the wheel of change …..

Youth Offenders Sentenced As Adults by Elizabeth Lozano
My name is Elizabeth Lozano, I’ve been incarcerated for 16 years here at CCWF. I’m serving a life without parole (LWOP) sentence for a crime that happened when I was 16 years old. I’m sentenced under the murder felony rule, a person convicted under the murder felony rule is not the one who physically committed the murder. The law does not require the person to know that a murder will take place or even that another participant is armed.
Approximately 227 youth have been sentenced to die in California’s prisons. They have not been sentenced to death: the death penalty was found unconstitutioal for juveniles by the United States Supreme Court in 2005. Instead, we have been sentenced to prison for the rest of our lives, with no opportunity for parole and no chance for release. Our crimes were committed when we were teenagers, yet we will die in prison. Remarkably, many of the adults who were codefendants and took their part in their crimes received lower sentences and will one day be released from prison. Youth LWOP is an effective death sentence carried out by the state slowly over a long period of years. In fact, most of us juveniles serving life sentences without any hope of ever being released feel it’s worse than death.
Neuroscience has found that teens continue to develop in ways particularly relevant to assessing criminal behavior and an individual’s ability to be rehabilitated. The focus on this discovery has been on teenagers’ limited comprehension of risk and consequences, and the inability to act with adult free will. Societies make decisions about what to weigh when determing culpability. California’s law as it stands now fails to take into consideration a person’s legal status as a child at the time of the crime. Those who cannot buy cigarettes or alcohol, sign a rental agreement, or vote are nevertheless considered culpable to the same degree as an adult. Experts say that even at 16 and 17, when compared with adults, juveniles on averages are more impulsive, aggressive, emotionally volatile, likely to take risk, reactive to stress, vulnerable to peer pressure, prone to focus on and overestimate short-term payoffs and underplay long term consequences, and likely to overlook alternative courses of action.
So why is our country so quick to throw away their youth??? In fall 2010, California had the opportunity to give youth sentenced to LWOP a second chance at life; a glimpse of hope, by supporting and passing SB399, a bill that would have resentenced LWOP youth to 25-to-life. Instead, legislation shot the bill down by TWO VOTES!! This bill was not a get out jail free card, it would have only let us get our sentence reduced to another life sentence, and even then we would have had to meet certain criteria to prove we deserved it. Today Senator Yee and other Senators that believe in us youth offenders changing have indroduced a new bill the same like SB399; it’s SB9. It would only have our cases reviewed by a judge who would make the decision to reduce our sentence or leave us at LWOP. To support SB9 or for more information please go to the Human Rights Watch web page: http://www.fairsentencingforyouth.org

Elizabeth Lozano
W65013 515-3-3L
P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, Ca 93610-1508

From The Heart
There are many of you that have told me time and again that you don’t know how I do it … this life sentence. You are amazed at my spirit and how I haven’t let the reality of my situation become an unbearable burden. While you’re amazed at me, I’m amazed at some of the women around me …..
There’s Liz, whom I already introduced to you. Imagine if she were your daughter or sister. Wouldn’t you be disappointed in the system? Okay, so that’s putting it lightly, but feel free to use whatever word you want, you know what I’m saying. If you met her, you’d be amazed at her spirit as well.
There’s Molly Kilgore, who let me tell you, has not let Arnold’s decision to make her prove herself suitable for parole yet again, deflate her good nature. She’s quick to smile and greet me and if I ever witnessed faith in anyone other than Deborah Peagler, I see it in Molly’s eyes. You’d be amazed by her as well.
Then there’s L.R. who has done everything that the Parole Board has asked of her. She’s jumped through all of their hoops, and they finally granted her a release date, only to have Arnold reverse it. Still, she holds her head up, she continues to help those in need, and she fights her fight to return home to Michigan one day. You’d love her spirit!
Oh, let’s not forget all of those kids forced to grow up in Youth Authority and State Prison having been sentenced as adults. Their strength and preserverence leaves me amazed. If you heard some of their stories, you’d be appalled by their sentences, but amazed by their adaptability, spirit, and maturity from the experience. I was almost one of them, and I quess that is why I’m so moved by their raw deal.
So, I say from the heart to you, get involved. I know this issue of the newsletter asked for support for Molly, mom and juvenile offenders, but I wouldn’t ask if my heart wasn’t in it. I ask only that you put yours into it too.
NAMASTÉ
T.C.

T.C. Paulinkonis Barbara Paulinkonis
W45118 514-16-4U W45120 514-16-4L
P.O. Box 1508 P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610

Well, I’ll be a yellah bellied chuckwagon. Here I sit; my first night in night class at a school which has big letters A, B, C and stuff like that on their building. It’s the first college dedicated to would be writers, and we get those sentences which we are supposed to respond to.

Is this a Rorschach test? Maybe an entry level Mensa. Are they spies?

Well, here goes. Dear Tester of Baby Writers; just call me Baby Lois after Lois Lane. Lord thank you for guiding me on this rainy night and leading me to the Bulwer Lytton School for Writers, but I notice, Lord, can I call you Lor?, precious few people have joined this class Why are there only four people tonight at the first writing class, Lor?

We each have a gray cloth cubicle, a number 2 pencil and a yellow lined paper, longer than the 8ish by 11ish ones you see at the 99 cent store to write on.

The first question is respond to this statement: “ A person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle. – Your thoughts.”

Well, I’ve heard young men and maybe women are too fat to go into the Army anymore, and powers that beeee (bzzzz) are belaboring this. There’s a lot of tskkkk, tskkking on the national scene, but I ask myself, Baby Lois, which would you rather do, die on the battlefield, crumpled up like a smashed in can, amidst smoke, bombs, while the fat cats that decided on this bullshit dance of fighting, sit at white linen tablecloths, with the two forks on the left and the knife and spoon on the right, like my mama told me to set a table properly, and they are discussing the war and the lack of eligible candidates from our nation? Or how about living to eat?

The nerve. Have you ever had a Twuohey’s Hot Fudge Sundae, a foot high? Its fudge sauce is dark and creamy and drips lasciviously over the two huge mounds of Vanilla ice cream. It’s so good I want to put my face in it and mush around.

Have you never eaten at Thai Restaurants and sopped up those crusted large like potato chip thingamajigs after you poured sweet sauce over them?

Have you ever received a Box of Sees Candy at Christmas, and had your finger tips feather touch the curves and squares and indentations and bumps on this candy as your mind has memorized which one is a chewy (chocolate over caramel) and which is nougat?

Have you ever driven into In n Out Burger, wait behind a line of 25 people, and keep your car running – to hell with the gas prices and finally, at 1.33 when your tongue is hanging out, your nostrils have abandoned your face in despair, your order comes through, and it’s with fries too. A hamburger, hot melting cheese like a pole dancer clinging to the sides of the burger, and the fries, cooked with no transfat, and you eat so much your tummy hurts, and you reek of beef?

Hi, I’m Esther, and I’ve done all of this.

Hi Esther, welcome.

Ooops wrong venue.

My point oh reader of this sensuous essay. Would you exchange losing a leg, an arm, or being stressed out for 100 years in a war we didn’t want versus having a large waist which grows, and nothing else does?

Can you be a person with no waist, no need for belts?

Can you put up with pullover sweaters and a slow walk?

The alternative is mud in training, being yelled at, having to be angry and kill, and worst of all doing something when the people of the planet want war cancelled. New definition: war is something people send other people to fight for and they lie about the reason they have to go to fight.

No, better to be a person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the
middle.

Remember, there’s always Weight Watchers.

The best writing teacher you'll ever want to meet

Jack Grapes -fantastic writer, teacher of poetic souls, and lovely man

Help, I lost a few days. Last I knew it was the 11th and then this morning, I called out to Bill, “What day is it”? He replied, “the 13th.” I read from the most incredible daily reader of the Baha’is Writings, published in London and out of print, and it is heavenly and unique and the fragrances of same float around my heart. Baha’is are encouraged to read from the Writings in the morning and the evening, and of course, we say what prayers resonate with us. There is a requirement of an Obligatory Prayer, and there are 3 choices. The following is the noonday prayer:

I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth.

There is none other God but Thee, the help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.
Baha’u’llah

I wake up in the morning, and the first thing that flies to my mind is “I have wakened in Thy shelter, O my God, and it becometh him that seeketh that shelter to abide within the Sanctuary of Thy protection and the Stronghold of Thy defense. Illumine my inner being, O my Lord, with the splendors of the Dayspring of Thy Revelation, even as Thou didst illumine my outer being with the morning light of thy favor.”. Baha’u’llah

You know this blog started out about losing a few days; all of which have been action packed, insightful, wonderful connection with people, but here I sit, it is 1.25, and I should walk. I haven’t even taken my morning meds. I may take a nap instead. Hard to be wise with my body.

Last night in Pasadena, at the Judges Nelson’s home, Navid Dheghani spoke. He’s a scientist and one of the people who work on the Mars is it Rover? the machine that lands on Mars, and all. Last night he gave a wonderful presentation of an overall view of the Baha’i Faith, and then in the question and answer times, talked about science a bit. A funny, modest, humble, and knowledgeable man. It was great.

I have several books to read: Mudbound. Read it once; it’s terrific and it’s Pasadena’s One City, One Book read; a friend wants me to participate in my favorite library, La Pintoresca, so I will re-read it, and our book club which has been meeting for at least five years is reading it for February. Then, we are reading The Long Walk, now made into a film; the author’s name is a Polish one, and I lent my copy of the book out.

Years ago, late 1960s I discovered this book, and it made such an impact upon me. I notice it’s been republished, and one of the blurbs on the front cover describe it aptly as “Homeric,” and I would say yes. The story of this man; his survival; the group he is with, their connection and unity with each other, remains nested within my memory bank; hopefully forever; and surely along with An Interrupted Life by Etty Hillesum and her Letters from Westerbork.

Why is it I am so drawn to memoir? I think I have always been fascinated with man’s inhumanity to man, and man’s humanity to man. My first pilgrimage, trip to Israel, visiting Christian and Jewish holy places and then to Haifa, to the Baha’i Shrines, I felt the themes of this ribboning through the country as I witnessed the Holocaust memorial.

The Baha’is believe in all the religions and consider religious truth to be like an unfolding scroll, relative to the day and age, but God, an unknowable Essence, is absolute. Spiritual truth is spiritual truth and is not obsolete. It is revealed with each Messenger in a different manner, much like if you looked around you and saw lights or lamps of different kinds, you would see the light source is the same, but the vehicle holding the light is different, and then the social teachings are changed to meet the needs of the day. All of the Messengers of God, Prophets, or what we in the Baha’i Faith call Manifestations occupy the same high, mystical, incredible level, an abstract level of unity really which we as puny souls can hardly imagine. We need these Divine Luminaries, these Educators of Mankind, these Divine Physicians of the Age.

At any rate i read voraciously and read a lot of books by Buddhists, Jewish, Islamic writers. And of course all memoir. I think we are in such an age of transition that people must speak out and record their truths. I often think of a kaleidescope as an image; are we not all chips of different colors – moving, shaping, but connected? I would like to think so.

Wow I can’t believe i’m going on like this, but so be it.

I had a writing workshop Monday evening, at Ten Thousand Villages, which is an awesome and aesthetically pleasing experience. They feature artifax, jewely, vases, cloth, you name it, from around the world, made by villagers who support themselves by their creations. I am st up in the basement, and it is a long white walled room, and somehow we did it: 2 tables, some folding chairs around, and I set up a whiteboard talking about showing versus telling in writing. I spoke about Oakley Hall and Jack Grapes, two of my writing heroes and teachers, and 17 people of all manner came, and we had a blast. We cooked as I like to say. then the next day i taught my usual writing workshop at the Women’s Room, a haven for homeless women, and women in transition, and they (the clients) and the volunteers can participate in writing. They have done soooo well, and we are family. What a group.

So now, I’m going to close after this unexpected tell it like it is, blog, and take a nap. Bill’s daughter, Tory, coming up for a vist. Did I mentioln, the day is utterly gorgeous, sun, breeze, temp of about 71 degrees by our little pool house.

One more thing; i liked President Obama’s talk; my heart twisted, particuarly gazing at the father’s face of the wonderful little 9 year old girl; I hope this even brings about more civility and unity. If we had children, would we let our kids squabble so divisively in a family?

High regards to all who read this.

Well the morning started with Lindsey, Matt’s wife, my twin’s son and treasured daughter-in-law FBing about cocoa and one made by some brothers, to which Matt added, a bon mot phrase about other brothers, and I added the paucity of my memory of old jokes, including Prince Albert in a Can.

then writing workshop at Altadena Healing Arts Center; good group; and then quick dash home, look under the bed for those pre-purchased greeting cards, not like a pre-purchased automobile, which in my day simply said, ‘used’ and now to head back to the closet and put on my incredibly chines red silk jacket; found and fit to myself immediately while hoofing through an estate sale, and the other witness Renee will wear red too; we say to each other “we’ll be the babes,” and meanwhile the above pictures show the Western Justice Center, a title deserving a distinct blog input of its own, but time and joy restrain me.

Chiara and Sean are getting married. So despite a horrible shooting in Arizona, politics again. “A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the human heart.” something that needs to be heeded more. Our atmosphere has been infected with coarseness, hate and anger, but Sean and Chiara, Chiara and Sean, are getting married, and it’s time to suit up, and spend a splendiferous afternoon with two wonderful young people, and then tonight book club! Wow

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Our January is grey at the moment, and cold, well California cold, but Bill and I are over our colds, and i am back walking (moving the muscles after 8 days of sniff, sniff, cough, cough). Friend came by and we hoofed down a hill, across a long residential street, picture perfect, winding street, green lawns, trees arching over the street, and me with my coughdrops but no inhaler, hoofed and trudged up another hill, and then she took me for coffee and an Einstein Bros. power bagel.

I am catching up; we live in 2 room pool house, and our sliding glass door sounds like there’s a crocidile stuck in a moat, and the door bumps and bumps and jerks. I am blogging again, tra lee, tra la, and am getting new writing workshop together; 6 weeks at Ten Thousand Villages; a great fair trade store, with artifax, jewelry and stuff from all around the world. It truly feels like a spiritual place, and I think it has to be because it’s based on the Oneness of Mankind, and one feels the connection immensely.

My nephew and his wife are having a baby, and it’s a girl, and they are naming her Elizabeth, which is his mom’s – and my twin’s name, and I love it to pieces. We were known as Es and Bess when we were little, and I always called her Liz, and we sort of are polar opposites, except with the same linguistic twang and mannerisms. She’s more like my father, and I’m more like my mother, but I can tell you we always looked out for one another. I am grateful that on her death bed she turned to me and said, “I never realized, but you’ve always been there for me,” this from a twin who was often disappointed in my Faith’s beliefs, my political views, my inclusive view of life. But still we managed. Last night I had a dream, because she died about 3-4 years ago, that we are okay between one another, and I like that. The first and second year she was sick; she’d cry out at 5.30 in the morning for help, and i’d jump through the ceiling in a dash to her room.

Tomorrow, I get my hair cut. Had it so short this summer, most people liked it except for a dear Persian lady in my community who said, “I hate it,” and I laughed. I wait for months and months, and then some random day I take whatever scissor are near me, and hack at my hair over a small bathroom sink, and then sashay out to people’s comments, “Looks good.” then comes the dread day when my head, look and hair take on an attacked by the North Wind, the West Wind, East and south, War of the Winds, and my poor hair which is with me while my body gets older, just has a hissy and stands up, lays down, and in a way doesn’t play well with the rest of me.

So tomorrow i shall be shorn. Saturday a friend and I are witnesses at a Baha’i wedding, and all involved are excited.

That’s about it for now, move the muscles, drink water, and stay wonderful.

My fabulous coat with its arms around Vera in Germany

I sit in my long Jones of New York, dark camel colored coat which comes to my ankles, and type like an eager French Poodle, whose toes (my fingers) click across the floor (keyboard) in anticipation of something.

Well that’s it, anticipation, can’t sing it, but experience it. I anticipate a time this week when my hair will no longer look like it’s trying to figure out all traffic lights at once, whether to go north, south, east or west. I anticipate a cooked breakfast by myself in a few minutes, and a slug at the unwahsed dishes which rest casually in our miniscule sink. The weather flickers sun, and then clouds, and cold is still present, which is good because I need to hoof down a long hill, up a few slow trails of sidewalks, I’m urbanized after all, and throw a week’s worth of holidays, colds, no moving muscles into an invisible trash bin which I might dub Goodbye 2010.

Went to grocery store, so cold, I left, and went to Fresh and Easy. I find I crave fresh fruit and veggies. This is almost a miracle, and I hear my own personal oratorio burst through light filtered skies singing in praise of my insatient soul which wants to cast off her insatiate wants, trills, frills and needs, and be basic and moderate and healthy.

Last year got me in that direction, and yesterday I bought several sizes smaller slacks/trousers/pants; whaddya call those things these day.

I am still a computer nudnick but working on it; a writing class starts, Courage to Write next week in the basement of Ten Thousand Villages, an I’m just finishing up on it, and will garner eclectic objects that make noise, are visual, or just say, “Hi I’m an object d’art or d’ump or d’utility,” and “Would you care to write of me in tripplingly on the tongue prose.”

I’ll probably wear my Africa earrings, my Soviet Army Belt (real) and who knows what else. i love teaching, and i am not filled with myself, as I find I go into some zone and stuff flows out.

Okay, that’s today, and i’ve only had a banana; this will not do. Ta ta for now, and glorious days filled with spiritual meaning, and wishes for all of us to get through grunge and grudge alike, and see our interconnectedness.

One more thing: gratitude of the highest order for my wonderful family and for all friends old and many new whom I can gave upon with wonder.

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5704912-held-in-the-light” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Held in the Light: Norman Morrison’s Sacrifice for Peace and His Family’s Journey of Healing” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1267801442m/5704912.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5704912-held-in-the-light”>Held in the Light: Norman Morrison’s Sacrifice for Peace and His Family’s Journey of Healing</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2549270.Anne_Morrison_Welsh”>Anne Morrison Welsh</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/124189757″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
A friend returned from her summer at Chautauqua.  She grew up there as a child, and has spent most summers, if not all, of her life at Chautauqua. She said over dinner, “You must read this,” and it was Held in the Ligh, Norman Morrison’s sacrifice for Peace and His Family’s Journey of Healing.  The book is profound.  Norman Morrison’s were startling, but left this reader wondering, “did he stop a nuclear war,” and the results of his actions reverberate through time.  His wife writes with courage and empathy, and deals with compassionate but clearly observed love. The meaning of this man’s death had an astrounding impact on the Vietnamese, and of course his beloved family.  One cannot judge the act, as it is impossible.  What the pages reveal is the dilemma of a soul on a war torn planet, and his torment of the rapaciousness of war and its attendant evils.  A must read.  I have reference for his wife, his family, and him.
<br/><br/>
<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2316197.Prayer” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Prayer: A Baha’i Approach” border=”0″ src=”http://www.goodreads.com/images/nocover-111×148.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2316197.Prayer”>Prayer: A Baha’i Approach</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1041260.William_Hellaby”>William Hellaby</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/122435751″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
profound, and contemplative, and insightful, and perceptions which lead to action shown.  Madeline Hellaby just died, and I fear this book might not be republished.  It’s a must.
<br/><br/>
<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

On the back cover, “To Baha’is, prayer is indispensable:  ‘the core of religious faith,’ writes Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Baha’i faith, ‘is that mystic feeling which unites man with God.  This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of prayer.

Written by William and madline Hellaby, I’m focusing on Madeline, who just passed.  She writes of “prayer as a living reality–prayer as ordinary people experience it in their daily loves.  ‘How can we practise the presence of God?'” she asks.  Describing with honesty, good sense and humour the various obstacles to effective praying, she finds insight in quotations and examples drawn both from the Baha’i Writings and from a wealth of religious literature, history and day-to-day experience.”

PS I use Alibris a lot to find 99 cent issues of books and up.  I like them.

 

 Okay, Regarding Those Buildings in New York and Everything Else Ishkabibbly

 Was there really a person called Ish-ka-bibble?

 Listen you dweet, in my neighborhood on Wren Street, we knew the name ishkabibble, ‘cept we pronounced it ishhhkahhbibbble.  You know what I mean?  Anyone who listened to radio shows in the 40s knew words like that.  What’s more, my linguistic heritage, you dweet, thank you for asking, was on stuff like Baby Snooks, when she was surprised, and Baby Robespierre wasn’t screaming enough “wah, wah, wahs.”

Those “wah, wah, wahs were loud enuf to hit our pointed roof and bounce off gas lit street lights shining dimly on top of old Buicks and Studebakers (now there’s a vehicle – great ashtrays).  Where wuzz  I? My skill lay in imitating Baby Snooks, “Well, I’ll be a yellow-belled chuck wagon.”  Later in the 50s I went on to memorize the Drop of the Hat dialogue, from a play that ran in London and then New York for years.  Now when people ask about balances and present treasurer’s reports, as we so oft do in my young life, I think to myself in large white cloud-like puffy letters, “Many a Mickle Macks a Muckle.”

 Today,  there’s more than one rumble going on.  And because of this question Ishkabibble, and fighting over buildings and rights to worship and mudslinging both ways, another phrase comes to mind, “Come what, come may, time and the hour pass through the roughest day,” and that was a phrase from Hamlet which graced our walls with indigo, green and traces of yellow and magenta  threads on old white linen, framed with a thin black frame.

 There are so many interesting phrases in the world.  Get your mind off buildings.  Guys are all alike.  Start with blocks and where are you?  Ranting and raving about blocks, except now it’s buildings. 

 But that isn’t to say life was so much better in the olden days, olden meaning the 40s, 50s, and perhaps the 60s, cuz brotha, may I call you brotha dweet, good for who or whom?  I’m beginning to think that phrase, you know about a butterfly flying, or flapping — maybe baby just one wing — has repercussions in the next century. I can’t figure it out mathematically because I’m still trying to figure out how Doris got to Harvard Square by bike with pears and mayonnaise, and Dennis is on his way to West Hollywood with kiwi and crackers, and the  time, mileage thing and fight the despair they’ll never meet, even though they are soul mates, except for the fact that Doris does not like kiwi.

 I think there’s a wing of a butterfly in history called point of view.  Everything depends on point of view an English prof once said. Whose point of view?  Now there’s a handy little four word phrase and a dandy question at that. 

 What if the 50s were a great era?  Yeah for white guys who went to the Diner and ate skinny French fries loaded with salt, and didn’t go home, but grunted dialogue between each other, all the while, the white girls, their counterparts, were worried about “will he like me,” and “please God let me get married.” Down the road apiece in starkly structured architectural lines, invisible walls went up.  Walls so invisible and solid, people like Whitey Bulgur and some of the FBI could load drugs into the Boston projects, and blacks couldn’t move an inch, and they had to get on the elevated at some Station after Green street.  That’s when women were worthless if they weren’t married, and they had to wear veils to Catholic Church, for “bless me Mary, I’m a woman, and I’m sorry.”

 I think a lot of things were done under Imperialism, which some call skin color privilege, but nothing’s that starkly simple.  Hatred is awful in any sector. 

 I think the power boys behind the scene, don’t give a rat’s ass about where buildings are.  I think the power boys and girls want what they want and feel entitled.  I think blessed is the heart that listens to the midnight sighing of the poor, and I ain’t just whistling Dixie, or spitting mud, and this all comes from someone who used to seriously believe in Chicken Little falling from the sky.

 Maybe the sky is falling after all. Dunno.  Many a mickle macks a muckle.  Who knows? The Shadow, that’s who.  The Shadow knows, and if a Jungian read these fast flowing words going to goodness knows where, he/she might say, “Ah, the shadow.  And what is your shadow telling you”?  Words, love em, hate em, can’t live without em.

Wow, what a weekend. Saturday went to a Cluster Reflection Meeting in Altadena, held in the loveliest of homes; very user friendly to large crowds. Great people, great conversation, basically we Baha’is encourage each other to contribute to humanity’s well being; and that plays out into children’s classes, devotionals, etc. We don’t do this to “make Baha’is,” but just to contribute to the ongoing advancement of the society and the individual, which includes us totally.

Devotionals are usually with lots of writings from other Faith Traditions, music, and then conversation about concepts. we had so many diverse points of view last night at a friends and the food then was luscious. different people who didn’t know each other found they had a lot in common. It was sort of a 6 degrees of separation type of thing.

Today we heard Judge Dorothy Nelson come and give a report; she was our delegate to the Baha’i National Convention. again, such an atmosphere of love and knowledge in the room. Wonderful. Also had great book club meeting; we discussed The Man From Saigon and I can’t remember author’s name. The writing was superb! We all brought something to eat, had brunch, tremendous conversation and divergent views about the book. Everyone liked it; but our points of view naturally differ because of our different lifestyles.

I don’t have a lot to say, but think despite all the heaviness in the world, and the utter crippling acts of some, there are many hearts and souls who work for the well-being of humanity, from all ranks, religions, traditions, and this weekend, there was evidence of this. We truly are one! Have a good week everyone!

My friend Pili Pili Saka who is on my blog roll is prolific. There’s a sort of cool breeze to his thoughts, his prose, and I find myself admiring his mind a great deal. He wrote about Salvation, and I had been at a discussion regarding that same term last night; not the literal, cause hackles on the neck arise, type of discussion, and then he discussed north and south, and in this case Africa, calling to my mind the different young authors of incredible talent I have written, one of whom wrote about Biafra – north and south, and then finally the tennis balls Pili Pili speaks of call to mind a piece I wrote after my twin’s passing. So I offer it here:

Lobbing
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
i sorrow for a twinging tooth
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
a back tooth like an old couch waiting for Goodwill

sorrow was two weeks ago standing in front of
my twin’s coffin, she in her blue bridal dress of old
me, alive, sorrowing for the little girl on a tricycle
sorrowing for her life of dripping Rorschach ink

wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
sorrow has gone up like a balloon on a helium sortie
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
thwatting away epic events tumbling through and around
the people on the earth’s stage

order, thwats, pops, bops, all metronome-like
in their reassurance, the steadied beat of routine
comfort, sorrow, joy, laughter, anger, all runs together
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents

Dear Blog Reader,

I tend to publish items about pug dogs, writing classes, stuff I’ve written, other writers, and always quips of book reviews sneak in every now and then. Last year I found my blog had themes of spirituality and pugs, and the pugs were edging ahead. It may very well be this year, thoughts from Baha’i individuals, institutions, artists, and whomever may appear more on these pages.

the world is complex to say the least, and yet a lot of people say about the Baha’is, “They’re always so happy,” and yes, when we get together, there’s a collective joy and renewal from being with friends, like-minded people, community builders from the greater community.

I became a Baha’i about 45 years ago, and outwardly I looked like an airline stewardess and was probably a little lippy too. Underneath tho, I was scared, ruled by underlying anxieties. Transformation came slowly, some patches in my life were incredibly arduous, and I bless every moment. I am at the point where my favorite quote from the Baha’i Writings is, “Nothing save that which profiteth them shall befall My loved ones.” I believe that quote applies to all of humanity, and that we’ve finally achieved the status in the world of a toe step into the circle of Coming of Age. With that in mind, I’d like to humbly offer a paragraph quoted from our recent letter To the Baha’is of the Word, from our international governing body, The Universal House of Justice. It concerns all of us. The message really addresses all of humanity:

“Baha’u’llah’s Revelation is vast. It calls for profound change not only
at the level of the individual but also in the structure of society. “Is not
the object of every Revelation”, He Himself proclaims, “to effect a
transformation in the whole character of mankind, a transformation that shall
manifest itself, both outwardly and inwardly, that shall affect both its inner
life and external conditions?” The work advancing in every corner of the globe
today represents the latest stage of the ongoing Baha’i endeavour to create the
nucleus of the glorious civilization enshrined in His teachings, the building
of which is an enterprise of infinite complexity and scale, one that will
demand centuries of exertion by humanity to bring to fruition. There are no
shortcuts, no formulas. Only as effort is made to draw on insights from His
Revelation, to tap into the accumulating knowledge of the human race, to apply
His teachings intelligently to the life of humanity, and to consult on the
questions that arise will the necessary learning occur and capacity be
developed.”

Stay wonderful…..esther

 

The sky I was born under indicated the Angels were planning a Rumble.  This is, of course, if you were to ask our housekeeper Rita, who when we had thunderstorms, told us “The angels are moving furniture.”

My twin and I were born August 28, 1938, and she was robust and I was more squirrel like.  But, I’ve nattered on about that before.  What threatened in the future for my father and mother and the neighborhood of West Roxbury’s small houses where Protestants and Catholics shared the streets of Oriole, Wren, and gossiped about Tarzan the man who swung naked through the trees at the very top of Wren Street, near the water tower.

We were born, entered a family already a bit intense, my brother, then my sister within the next year, and then the next year, Liz and I.  I think I fattened up, a phrase one would only welcome in our narcissistic world when one is a baby and four pounds at that.  After 7, years and pounds, consciousness enters slowly.

I probably got home, and cuddled up to my chubby twin, and the Great Hurricane of 1938 struck and smashed and just in general had the biggest weather hissy this generation of neighborhood dwellers had experienced.  Electricity was out.  People washed clothes with washers and wringers, and hung diapers out on a clothesline.  Making formula was highly more complicated and I think they went thru at lest 180 diapers a week.  Gives “doing a load of washing, “new heroic tones.

Well, in the meantime, my father who graduated from Harvard in economics was out of work, and within six months after the 1938 War of the Winds and Howling Furniture, shadows of illness struck us, the twins, the babies, and we came down with whooping cough, a serious disease in babies.  Children’s Hospital would foot the bill and get us better, and my father was always eternally grateful.

A year later, well a month and a year later, World War II started by Nazi invasions and this would lead to a seriousness of tone, a heaviness, and eventually to our peeing in the dark because of blackout curtains, our jumping on cans to flatten them, my mom smoking my father’s pipe after closing the drapes so the neighbors couldn’t see, and then Pearl Harbor Day where my mom thought my Uncle Tom had died.  He had been transferred from one sub to another, and since he was in charge, he scooted his sub out to the middle of the ocean and stayed out, thus my mother’s grief was short.  It was a complicated time, a time of innocence, slogans, and unawareness, particularly regarding race and religion.

I would grow up to the sounds of clashing pan tops when Roosevelt died; what can I say — we were the only insensitive Republicans in the neighborhood. 

I remember no sounds when Miss Flaherty swept between the school desks in third grade and shook me and shook me because I didn’t know 8 x 7 – which now gentle reader, I will tell you is 56.  I remember the sound of Liz crying in 4th grade; okay, okay, we were late bloomers, when the principal came into the classroom and said, “How many people still believe in Santa Clause? And Liz and I were the 2 who raised their hands, and he stilettoed that belief to pieces on a schoolroom floor.

I remember the sounds of my mother’s feet lurching down the stairs announcing, “They’ve electrocuted the Rosenberg’s,” and she was crying, and then the sounds of Chopin, her favorite composer, and his compositions and her hitting the piano keys with an alcoholic force in the middle of the night.

These are some images that shaped our lives.  When we lived in Dnepropetrovsk in 1990, I felt as if we had traveled back in time, to the 40s and some of the sounds and sights seemed familiar.  To Bill it was the bluing of laundry and stiff sheets starched and ironed, the beating of rugs flung over clotheslines and being whopped every Saturday.

I like sounds and memories.

  • The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this:
    >
    > A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him … a
    > touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy
    > is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is
    > death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering
    > necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating
    > of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his
    > very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out
    > creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really
    > alive unless he is creating. ~ Pearl S. Buck, novelist, Nobel
    > laureate (1892-1973)

 

When I was a young girl, I discovered Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, and then I went on to read all of her books.  Since an early age, I read everything an author says.  Last week or so her name came up, and I forget the context, but I discovered Anchee Min’s latest book is about Pearl – a fiction book.  Some critics say not as good as Anchee Min’s previous books which are cliffhangers, but anything she writes I read, and I was so glad to.  It sounded so accurate.

At any rate, I think Pearl Buck probably changed or added immensely to my life as I think we are hungry for other lives, insights, and in essence, we feel as if we are that person – oneness through literature.

A few years ago, a friend said in an email, “This is you,” and then the above quote was imbedded in my email.  I felt an immense relief.  I am in the last chapters with much creativity and contributions ahead, but I remember my younger days of emotional pain, of therapy, tests, struggles, now knowing who I really was.

I think we all go through that forming journey; the who am I, and in our later years, we are answered, and think, “aah that’s it.”  At any rate, I used to cringe that I was so sensitive.  I wished I simply could not feel as much.  People talked about getting in touch with their feelings, and I was trying to stifle them; they were too much.

Still time and writing, and a spiritual path, mine being the Baha’i Faith, where I firmly believe we walk the mystical path with practical feet, a path which has carved me out in order that love for others may fill me, a path of constant change.  I no longer experience that twisting pain of feeling as if inwardly I felt my heart was a bruised peach pit; I have gained insights, clarity, a voice, more laughter, and it’s all a dance in one way.  Still I cannot tell you how solaced and how solaced I still am by this quote of Pearl Buck’s.  It gives relief to the DNA which is standing still thinking will epigenetics reveals its stamp.  Luckily it has, but I know so little.

It’s exciting to have experienced a lot, learned a lot, and still always on the edge of knowing and learning; I sense epigenetics is one of my next themes.

Reader, I am prompts person this week for CHPercolator for Writers and I must admit they were a little odd, gave me pause, so here’s what i wrote to my own prompts (using all of them) go to Yahoo’s CHPercolatorforWriters:
But I don’t think of blood. I thought this was the German blog and that CHPerc
was for Maxwell House devotees reunions. I had a difficult relationship with my
blood when I first got my sainted St. Jude Plastic Heart Valve. But now,
because I did a quick intake of breath on my first conscious awareness of a
foreign object ticking noticeably in my heart area in 1995, and with that breath
said, “Welcome. If you weren’t there as a full fledged aortic valve, I shudder
to think in what condition I might be.

For instance, I’m happy now to know my innards carry a never ending series of
light rail cars or trains, and that besides my inner mind’s landscape which has
traffic jams and nettling long lights, my physiological system is up and
running. Toot. Toot, Not only like a train system, maybe it’s like a river.
Now there’s a river, and I see ,,,,, oh bollocks, off track again.

Well the big thing in my young life is imagining my brain as three sloppy scoops
of ice cream. I mean I think they’d be on a cone, not a flaky little square
think that looks like it got manufactured at the dollar store, no my cone would
be like an urn, large and wide at the top; with flaky waffle imprints all around
it, down to its pointy, pointy bottom. The NPR guy said “3 scoops of ice cream
cone,” and that you could think of these scoops as your brain.

Does this mean my brain drips, sags, spills, stains? What I do know is I could
make them different flavors. Frog could be solid chocolate, firm, foundational,
and the middle scoop Reptile could be Praline and Vanilla, sort of twisty, the
praline would gently touch the top one Squirrel which would be plain Vanilla
with chocolate chips, stored by Squirrel, ever conscious that it doesn’t always
live in Pasadena and it must plan and save ahead.

Finally, the something or other bellum surrounds this cone of magnificent
splendor. I’d name my ice creams, not Frog, Reptile, or Squirrel, but imagine
them as pet names, like Stinky, Inky and Winky, or Sluggo at the bottom, Nancy
in between, and Ferret on the top.

All of which makes me wonder about the abandoned tunnels of my mind, nothing but
loose cabooses of railway cars shooting through, not stopping. Oh dear.

Morning reading, Jalal 14 (Glory-14th day of April – Second day of Ridvan

“Meditate on what the poet hath written: ‘Wonder not, if my Best-Beloved be closer to me than mine own self; wonder at this, that I, despite such nearness, should still be so far from Him.’  ”

                                                          Baha’u’llah (Gleanings, p. 184)

Yooo Hoooo Monday, where are you?  Drat, ack, eek.  I lost you.  “I forgot” can be applied to homework, like because my dog ate my homework, I can’t turn it in, or I just discovered I can’t speak Esperanto easily, or I’m not Celtic, Mayan, Troll-like, I can’t turn it in.  Doing this blog is not like homework.  I respond to Pili Pili Saka, the moment his blog comes up.  I’m like an orangy labrador, and I get a whiff of something coming to my territory.  My head lifts from the floor, my cold nose moves up and down microscopically, and then, there it is, Pili Pili Saka. 

Forgot, day swept by with fantastic emails about my book, my participation in a Wilmette Study Course, and an email from dear friend who wrote blurb on back of You Carry the Heavy Stuff.  Mikey likes it; even pili pili compared my writing to a French writer.  Reader, i slid under my desk, yes, by the dust, and the brick, red if you want to know, placed carefully over my email connection link, so as not to disturb and keep me connected.  Such is the old wiring in this incredible little pool house.  Be still my heart.

Yesterday, they filmed Mad Men down the street; I swear I posted that; have to check it out.  At any rate, Bill went to neuro guy who was incredibly thorough and wonderful – it seems severe allergy attack, plus benign positional veritgo, plus anxiety about being so dizzy sick, caused his adrenal responses to shoot up and thus the shakes.  Wow, and now we will go towards solutions!  We are relieved.

Okay I finished a book, The Man From Saigon, a novel, Marti Leimbach, a gripper, writing incredible.  It turns out this writer went to MFA program in Irvine, and that’s where when I began writing, I took classes from Oakley Hall and the other guy, Donald, can’t remember his name, and Roberta….. and it tricked into my curly brain and heart, and i began writing.  Showing, telling, using strong verbs, always 3 at the time.  I never do things lightly.  I’ve pulled back to 1 verb usage, find myself more moderate these days

I am going to reserve Dying Young and Daniel Isn’t Talking by the same author, although part of me shudders to think of adding more books to my list.  While you’re at it, throw in Jesse Ventura’s new book; forget title, yes Jesse Ventura.  He was a Navy Seal and he taught at Harvard, and he has stuff to say.  Who knows, but check it out. 

Okay so to add a more shallow cap to my day, while I finished Man from Saigon, sitting next to Bill on the couch, having done my daily huff puff walk for an hour, we watched TV.  Every now and then at 8 I’d click in Dancing with the Stars to see Kate clump across the floor, and the part of me that used to be a single mother thought, “Good, she’s earning money for the kids.”

You catch my drift reader; blessings and a glorious day and best wishes from Monday who regretfully is speaking Tuesday.

Next post may be about Baha’i Holy Days and stuff like that; hope you stay tuned!

Themes, Ideas, Prompts, Triggers, Time Lines, Past Moments, My Mother Told Me, I remember

 So we are in our journal, and we write and we write and we write.  We write about vegetables growing, hangnails removed, the war in Baghdad, a sore throat, a secret wishThe important thing is to write.  This is not being literary, but getting the stuff out on the page, a sort of verbal or vocal flow.

 How on earth do we get in touch with our thoughts and feelings?  We are not concerned with punctuating, crossing our t’s; barely do that anyway.  This is not a confessional way, but just a way of writing.  Writing like you talk is simple and natural.  No literary sentences. Boy this is hard for the writer, believe you me, I wanted to show what a hot dog of a writer I was, all the while, waves of insecurity competed.

 One way to locate your most urgent subjects is to ask yourself: Where is my heart breaking? Or what breaks my heart?

 Make a list of the fears and concerns that keep you awake and night and interfere with your days.  Think of your list as a prayer bead; finger one at a time; rather than including large sweeping topics like world hunger, abortion, nuclear disarmament, the disintegration of the family), name specific people, problems, fears, and issues.  “I’m afraid my mother will die in a nursing home.”  What if the biopsy is positive?

 Time Lines, –

Where were you on 9/11

When Obama was elected?

 If I could write about only one subject (or person, place event, or obsession) what could it be?

 Ask yourself what noun would you want spoken on your skin your whole life through? Marc Doty-My Tattoo

 Write down all the identities that describe you; cat lover, cook, hiker, military brat; keep going; include past identities; student,

 Would you have been different with a different name; whom might you have married if you hadn’t driven to California!

 I wish I could stop thinking about

 In the dream last night, I

Nobody wants to hear about

I can’t possibly tell anyone that…

Write until the truth emerges;

 What weather dominates your feelings; is it raining inside your mind; is it dry and hot; muggy and close; is there a storm cloud on the horizon; a tornado swirling toward you, an earthquake splitting the ground

 If you were to paint your feelings, what colors would you use; what shapes; would you use; watercolors or oils; a small canvas or a large one; would you use a delicate brush, a palette knife or your own bare hands.

 What music plays inside you; and are you what key; in what time signature; what instruments do you heart; maybe you’re the instrument playing the music.

What does your body want to do; does it want to crawl into a hole; pound its fist through a wall; float on a raft in the middle of the ocean, scream until its throat is raw, pack a suitcase, kiss a neighbor’s husband, drive as fast as it can.

Make a list of people Who have been important to you:

Alive or dead; young or old

Their impact on you; either good or bad

The age you were at…..

 What about significant events;

A day I’ll never forget…

An experience that made a great impact on me…

My pulse quickened when …

 Times when

Time is going by on roller skates.  I just clicked on central library, my account, and gasped when it said 7 books await-as I have still 5 unread, 3 to go back, some Baha’i books of great interest I’m studying and am off at 11.30 to meeting with friend.  Time is liked butter sizzling on a slick hot skillet; there you see the cube, there you don’t; but the color yellow is a lovely color albeit in solid form or bubbles.

CHPerc is in one of its modes, crazy, laughter, witty, witty repartee, just a gang of sillies that causes each one of us, whether in England, Pakistan, Wyoming where there’s still snow, or Pasadena and Temple City and Reno, to just (oh don’t forget New Jersey) yuk at the bon mots tossed around in humor amongst us.  Makes life worth living,

Tomorrow give free writing workshop at La Pintoresca library, that wonderful little white building that sits kitty corner on Raymond and Washington, and cries out, “Hi I’m a library, but more that than, c’mon in and skate through the corners of your mind, cuz this is a happening place.”

And so it goes, horror, like black paint spilled on the world’s canvass, still exists; dust of volcanic ash dots our hearts and minds and airplanes, and clogs further the arteries of greed in meanspirited leaders, but still, laughter, like a tiny Jack Russell Terrier, still jumps to the sky and we find meaning, I find meaning, in the small things: like vivid colors of red, and gold, and the glossy black fur and intent brown eyes of a black pug sitting in the sun, half dozing, but intently keeping his eyes open (food) and glad i can see the beauty and joy in it all.  You catch my drift?

Race Discussion Glossary – compiled by Bill DeTally – hope helpful to all who browse these pages:

RACE DISCUSSION GLOSSARY
Ally – A person committed to dismantling racial injustice and racism. This commitment is shown by the person’s willingness to learn about racism and racial justice; challenge his or her own racial prejudices; learn and practice anti-racism; and interrupt statements, behaviors, and institutional practices of racial prejudice.

Antiracism – Actions and attitudes which challenge all forms of racism. With an understanding of the systemic nature of racism, an anti-racist works actively to counter racist practices and attitudes in herself/himself and others, and dismantles racist institutional structures and policies.

Anti-racism is more than tolerating or even celebrating diversity. A diverse organization is not necessarily anti-racist. An anti-racist, multicultural organization or institution is one that includes people from diverse cultural backgrounds as “stakeholders” in the work, benefits, responsibilities and key decisions of the organization (adapted from Bailey Jackson)

Racism has been historically institutionalized into every organization and system of the United States. It is now time to institutionalize anti-racism in all those same places.

Culture-The vast structure of behaviors, ideas, attitudes, values, habits, beliefs, customs, language, rituals, ceremonies and practices peculiar to a particular group of people, and that provides them with a general design for living and with patterns for interpreting reality.” (Wade Nobles)

Cultural Diversity-Differences in age, color, gender, ethnic heritage, language, national origin, spiritual belief or tradition, sexual orientation, physical, mental or emotional nature, and economic circumstance. Each of these differences brings a diverse perspective, reflection and insight to every life experience.

Cultural Racism-This form of racism undermines the history and culture of certain groups by ignoring, devaluing, laughing at or misrepresenting their experiences. The dominant group sets the standards of beauty, art, music, and other cultural norms. This leads to a lack of knowledge and appreciation of diversity for the dominant group, and to a lack of pride and self-esteem for excluded groups. All of society loses the awareness of important contributions of all groups in our global society.

Cultural racism occurs when attempts are made to debase or assimilate a group of people, thus ignoring their individual and collective contributions to the mobility of humankind. Stereotyping is one of the self-perpetuating features of this form of racism.

Discrimination-An Act. A failure to treat all persons equally where no reasonable distinction can be found between those favored and those not favored. (Blacks Law Dictionary) A showing of partiality or prejudice in treatment; specific policies or actions directed against the welfare of a group. Discrimination is a tool of oppression.

Environmental Racism-A form of racism that manifests itself by locating trash dumps, toxic waste sites and other objectionable material/discards in storage areas in proximity to neighborhoods of people of color.

Ethnic (Group)-Grouping of people with some similar set of religious, linguistic, ancestral, tribal, or physical characteristics.

Institutionalized Racism-Occurs when institutional power is added to or combined with racial prejudice. When the institutions of society – the economic system, the legal system, the health care system, the education system, the media, the civil system, etc., are controlled by one group and operate on the basis of racial prejudice.

Many members of societal institutions assume their dominant race is superior, more valued and more worthy of inclusion or benefit. Participants in these systems, whether decision makers or beneficiaries, may be unaware of the institution’s biases, or may be deliberately discriminatory.

Internalized Racism-The belief by people of color that the stereotypes and lies about them are true. Results of this are: self-doubt, loss of self-esteem, self-hatred, and lowered expectations and motivation.

This tragic form of racism occurs when the victims of racism believe the stereotypes and misinformation, then turn society’s negative evaluations about their group inward. They take out the anger, hurt and frustration on themselves and members of their own group.

Justice-Fair and just treatment to all and in all actions and attitudes.

Kinship-This is the recognition of family not necessarily limited to blood relatives. We seek to reclaim this recognition through love, respect and concern for all humankind.

Oneness- The oneness of humanity is a spiritual truth abundantly confirmed by science. To paraphrase a definition by Albert Einstein: a human being is part of the universe. He or she can experience himself/herself, and their personal thoughts or feelings, as something separated from the rest of the universe, which is a delusion of his or her consciousness. This delusion can be a kind of prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for only a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in all its beauty.

Oppression- A system of dis-equality where the goods, services, and benefits of society are available to people based on their membership in social groups. This system is supported by the power structure. The root of the word “oppression” is “press.” Presses are used to mold things, flatten, or reduce them. The experience of oppressed people is that one’s life is confined and shaped by forces that are not accidental. It is the experience of being caged in or blocked.

Power-One group having control over the major institutions (economic, political, social, etc.) of the country.

Prejudice-an emotional commitment to ignorance; a preconceived notion; a negative evaluation based on insufficient or erroneous knowledge; irrational hostility toward a group or individual based upon supposed characteristics; a negative attitude about a person or group based on comparison, in which the person’s own group is used as a positive reference point.

Race-Ethnic grouping by skin color shades, with the realization that there is only one race, the human race.

Race Unity-the process of bringing together as one family all ethnic groupings.

Racial-relating to ethnicity.

Racial Equity-Treating all ethnicities impartially.

Racial Justice-Treating all ethnicities just and fairly.

Racial Prejudice-An emotional commitment to ignorance about ethnic groups other than your own group. Usually negative and usually formed without personal experience.

Racial Stereotype-A generalization imposed on an entire ethnic group or an individual of that ethnic group based on a real or perceived characteristic of some individual belonging to that group; or based on a cultural norm which has been distorted; or based on myth or total misunderstanding of the group/ethnicity/culture.

Racial Supremacism-The most vile form of racism. “Ethnic cleansing” and genocide are its watchword and horrible legacy.

Racial Unity-A commitment to interconnectedness of individuals in an ethnicity which leads to harmony of thought and purpose.

Racism-A system of manifestations of oppression and advantage. Racial prejudice as practiced by a person from the power ethnic group. An emotional commitment to ignorance relating to ethnicity by a person belonging to the power ethnic group. This group then assumes they have the right to dominate, exclude, discriminate against, abuse, hate, kill…Racism is racial prejudice that’s practiced by a person from the power ethnic group.

Racist-A person practicing racism. That person is not a racist unless they are a member of the power ethnic group and are practicing racial prejudice.

Reverse Racism-This is a misnomer. There is no such thing. There is only one power ethnic group in our country and that is the “white-skinned” ethnic group.” “People of color skinned” do not have the systemic social power to oppress “white skinned” people as a group. The people of color ethnic groups can practice racial prejudice, but they don’t have the power to practice racism.

Separate But Equal-Extreme separatism, nationalism. The U.S. Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896) established the practice of ‘separate but equal’ facilities for differering races, and this practice continued until the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954). Some examples of this concept still voiced today are, “I don’t mind such and such a group, but not in my neighborhood, not with my kids, not with my daughter,etc.”

Spatial Racism-The practice of constructing space that is prejudiced against people of color.

Stereotype-From a printing term for the metal plates from which copies are made. In this sense, racial stereotypes are conventional notions about people based upon oversimplified ideas, opinions or beliefs. They can also be manifested when groups are thought to conform to a standard pattern or manner, lacking individuality.

Stereotyping-The act of generalizing that is believed about an entire group of people (all Puerto Ricans, or all Italians…) It is based on a real or perceived characteristic of some person that belongs to that group; or based on a cultural norm which is being distorted or based on a total misunderstanding of the group that is being practiced.

Structural Racism-The term refers to a system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial (group) inequity. The term identifies dimensions of our history and culture that have allowed privileges associated with “whiteness” and disadvantages associated with “color” to endure and adapt over time, (from “Structural Racism and Community Building” by Aspen Institute Round Table on Community Change).

Unaware Racism-Participants in this difficult type of racism are not conscious of or sensitive to how their behavior perpetuates ideas that are false and damaging. Everyone in American society is affected by unaware racism, as we have been exposed to misinformation from the media, movies, literature and curriculum on all levels. Most people remain with people of their own group, so first-hand knowledge about members of other groups is not obtained. We can acknowledge unaware racism and strive to be sensitive to it in all aspects of our daily lives.

Unity-this is the recognition of interconnectedness of individuals and groups which leads to harmony of purpose, thought, ideas, or aims, goals, etc.

White Privilege-Choices, advantages, benefits, assumptions and expectations granted to “whites” by the society as well as the assumptions and expectations internalized by white people. Privilege group membership is usually determined at birth (“white” child, male child, child born into economic security, etc.) White privilege group has a powerful tool for dismantling racial injustice when this privilege is used with integrity. Likewise, when members of the white privilege group adopt a passion for justice and thereby challenge unjust structures, attitudes and institutions, they further the dismantling of racism.

Monday, September 29, 2008. Dear Ones, the following is from Guidance For Today and Tomorrow, under The Present Day and this particular passage is entitled “Universal Fermentation.” I offer this passage with the hopes that enlightment of a process will solace and galvanize.

“Universal Fermentation”

As we view the world around us, we are compelled to observe the manifold evidences of that universal fermentation which, in every continent of the globe and in every department of human life, be it religious, social, economic or political, is purging and reshaping humanity in anticipation of the Day when the wholeness of the human race will have been recognized and its unity established. A twofold process, however, can be distinguished, each tending, in its own way and with an accelerated momentum, to bring to a climax the forces that are transforming the face of our planet. The first is essentially an integrating process, while the second is fundamentally disruptive. The former, as it steadily evolves, unfolds a System which may well serve as a pattern for that world polity towards which a strangely disordered world is continually advancing; while the latter, as its disintegrating influence deepens, tends to tear down, with increasing violence, the antiquated barriers that seek to block humanity’s progress towards its destined goal. The constructive process stands associated with the nascent Faith of Baha’u’llah, and is the harbinger of the New World Order that Faith must ere long establish. The destructive forces that characterize the other should be identified with a civilization that has refused to answer to the expectation of a new age, and is consequently falling into chaos and decline.
A titanic, a spiritual struggle, unparalleled in its magnitude yet unspeakably glorious in its ultimate consequences, is being waged as a result of these opposing tendencies, in this age of transition through which the organized community of the followers of Baha’u’llah and mankind as a whole are passing. …”
***
The following paragraphs deal with the process of disintegration:

The process of disintegration inexorably continue, and its corrosive influence must penetrate deeper and deeper into the very core of a crumbling age. Much suffering will still be required ere the contending nations, creeds, classes and races of mankind are fused in the crucible of universal affliction and are forged by the fires of a fierce ordeal into one organic commonwealth, one vast, unified, and harmoniously functioning system. Adversities unimaginably appalling, undreamed of crises and upheavals, war, famine and pestilence, might well combine to engrave in the soul of an unheeding generation those truths and principles which it has disained to recognize and follow. A paralysis more painful than any it has yet experienced must creep over and further afflict the fabric of a broken society ere it can be rebuilt and regenerated.” pp. 152-153



CHPerc – March 5, 2008

I have been so quiet of late with my writing group. Then the
reminder from Steve – “You are the prompter,” and phrases float
through my mind. I had just copied Beth’s prompts of the previous
week, thinking, these are juicy little things. Now I sit again at my
computer, utilitarian nightgown on, hair thatched, tummy a little
queasy, and look at some of the phrases I tossed out this week –
brain crust reformed.

I am exploring silence, but saw that in a book. This phrase gave me a queenly – slight edge of the wrist movement – wave. Hey what about
arrest motion for I am quieter, more stopped because viruses of the
virulent kind have touched down upon California. Last week I
stumbled through. Now I must remember to stop, put a period in,
perhaps a recalcitrant comma. You know the drill.

What happened last year or several years ago when Bill and I house
sat an incredibly lovely condo on Lake in Pasadena? I remember
thinking about our beloved landlord, that I would pleat the moon for
him. Where do these images come from? I don’t know, and now
yesterday I thought, nice phrases to throw in for prompts, and if I
were really a sincere person (it’s questionable), for anyone I loved,I’d iron the stars and fold the rain into nice sheets, perfectlyedged and folded, the way my husband’s mom, Anna, trained her first born to do the laundry.

It all sounds so much easier this laundry detail rather than paying
attention to the cacophony of voices on the news with each pundit
giving his, her opinion, adding to the lace doilies of opinions,
crocheting to the sky, the endless tracking in threads, minute and
large, of the politicians and how they play.

The crocodiles are still in, and that’s why I suggested dental twine
for crocodiles, a good business to go into. Our world is not ready
for integrity, but the people hunger for ingathering, and a
groundswell is seen beyond race, color, a thirst for a hayride to a
cliff where Rhetoric in the form of old straw gets thrown over a
canyon and naught can be heard but an encouraging word, “ack” and
life goes on.

So here we are in Act XXIV of the Decline and Fall, and yet, new
forces emerge. Thank goodness for the anonymous amongst us, who
continue to live with goodwill and integrity and above all, courage
to forge through and know in reality, we are all one, different,
blessedly so, but one. And this, these words are my offerings for
the paper – pure and white, after the poem.

Lyricism and grit, it’s all a dance.

Just got newsletter for TC and her mother Barbara, battered women, in jail for life? maybe, for defending themselves against abusive husband, stepfather; bad trial. It is being looked at by an advocacy group; but their prison is Chowchilla, and this is typical fare, the description below of what happens. If you have time anyone, prayers for TC and Barbara and all in Chowchilla would be appreciated; much love esther

Dear Family of Friends,
On Monday, August 6th, mom nearly choked to death in the darn Chowhall. We
tried to stretch our canteen and quarterly Box Food, by goin to the chowhall
for dinner. After one bite into her cheese pizza, mom began to choke and
gag. I gave her water, but it didn’t help. She began to have trouble
breathing. So, I handed her a paper towel and directed her to cough as hard
as she could into it. At that point, I really didn’t care about anyone
else’s loss of appetite. I was scared, but remained calm. After 3 hard
coughs, mom felt the substance in her throat dislodge, but it wouldn’t com
all the way up. She reached in and with 2 fingers she pulled a piece of wire
out! It was about 1 1/2″ long with sharp edges at both ends that cut her
throat and tonsils a bit. She’s okay now, but people wonder why we don’t
want to eat in the chowhall. If it’s not the inmate’s deficating and
urinating in the area where dishes are washed, it is a piece of wire in the
pizza.

This was an exercise I tried after sending a friend who is teaching kids some examples of lessons; it was nice to try it; I want to say it was fun; but would that shock those who knew my twin just passed. But heck yes, lightness of being, the unbearable lightness of being; it’s grand.

If death were a color it would be
a rainbow, with the black starting first
just as so not to surprise the writer
who is in for a notice of change

Death ain’t what you thought it would be baby.
And it would be varied and graded like
all us creatures in the world; shades of grey
in thinking; no geometric black and white

What’s wrong, this is the only way
Nope, it wouldn’t have an only one way color; and
it would taste like medicine at first, but
tIt would be like riding the Ferris Wheel
higher than ever before

And if death were a feeling, it would be
like my tummy going on a big bump, jumping
up high inside, but skipping down in delight
and finding out, not all bumps are meant to hurt
and give new meaning to bumped up.

Yep, bumped up to the higher ways of intricate oneness
Death would feel light and like bouncy, bouncy bally
A verse uttered by nine year olds in schoolyards past,
and it would be as sturdy as a red rubber ball
needed to be in the school yard
and smell sort of rubbery, familiar like
with maybe a touch of vanilla, cuz you know
Vanilla soothes the senses, don’t you know

And inside, the smell would make me feel just
Oh so safe
And if death were a sound, it would be echoes of
Kids in ages past shouting out beyond the sky,
The stars and the moon
Ollie Ollie Infrey, Ready or Not
Here I come

Winter came early that year. That year when they had said Gorbachev
was sick, and beefy people appeared on the TV screen to announce a
takeover. that year when one morning in Ukraine the people awakened
to no money, no rubles, no purchasing of bread, longer lines, because
the government had switched to a new money, Ukraining money, the name
of which paper escapes me at the moment.

The sidewalks were wide but bumpy, and snow filled pothills in the road.
Lines of babushkas waited for the bread store to open, bulky bodies,
empty bags, scarves tied tightly over their ears, their skin ruddy
from years of hard weather.

Still we trudged into the City. Forget taking the bus outside our
flat which either didn’t show or didn’t work. No, we would walk down
Orlovskaya Street, skittering down, taking a left, right, streets like
the shops, empty. Finally to the trolley and waiting as I felt
history’s shadow and sensed the ghosts of prisoners, serried lines,
marching to the nearby railroad station.

Our trolley would come, and we’d squeeze into its crowded innards,
passing money up through the people, hand by hand until the bus driver
received it, and then back, hand by hand, over the heads of people, a
small paper ticket, similar to one in a Bakery would be handed out.
Somehow the money still worked for the trolley for a few days.

Cold whipped through my thin grey coat, the one I found in Ulan Ude, a
city with the largest fattest head of Lenin sitting in a public
square, near the KGB building. Always in our time was the sense of
being watched. Now in the cold weather, when we moved our mouths
around so as not to freeze and made funny faces like Vlad, our
interpreter told us, we moved towards the Mining Institute, ready to
trudge up Karl Marx Avenue, towards the pretty side of Dnepropetrovsk.

We walked by cake shops, bread shops, an army take in the center, and
I noticed the snow fell like a lacework over the city; obliterating
any ugliness of the previous day. The snow created a space within us
like a moving painting, and we could for moments forget the people
whose life was arduous and abusive from early morn on into the night.

Living in Dneperpetrovsk, in Ukraine, in the winter, we learned how to
use dry mustard in a bucket of hot, hot water, so steamy, my toe
stayed in for milleseconds. We learned, no forget that, we
experienced the love and caring from Inna, from anyone, when we were
sick. We would be quickly scooped up into blankets, with our heads
peeping out, and our feet immersed in mustard water (mustard being a
deficit item. We were given verenya a jam in tea and once as I sat
being treated, I experienced menopausal flush compressed into an
hour’s time with mustard and verenya, but weakened and no longer
desperately ill, I could stagger to my bed and sleep and recover.

Winter, and no vegetables in the open market, well maybe a few that
looked like they came from a potato orphange, and some wilted cabbage,
but still we had bread and cake and new money: coupona, wow, coupona.
so many words ending with “a’! Little parades of “a”s indicating
hope and not starving, no rather packing my hips with starches and
lumbering through those winter days.

There was the night when we walked the wide flat sidewalks down to the
railroad station at four in the morning to welcome Paddy O’Mara from
Ireland, and the snow fell through the silence, a purity from God, and
a lacework of sensory experience flowed through me, beauty revealed in
a hard town, during a hard time, along with ever unfolding love and
kindness from our Russian friends, and I will always remember that
year, the year when winter came early.

Kurt Vonnegut just died. Fantastic writer, loved by many.
He will be missed.

Halo Moon Meets HyperPhysics Over Falafel at the Mercaz
Esther Bradley-DeTally

I sit here at the top of Mercaz in Israel, in a small, dart-in, take-a-quick glance-to-the-left at a glass counter, a man stuffing a half pita with round crusty balls, and a cabinet filled with icy drinks, coke being my Falafel companion.

There’s no halo moon sitting inside besides me on my chair, my Pilgrimage badge tucked into a pocket, so maybe baby I won’t get overcharged as an innocent on her search for the proper Chickpeas – big round ones, resting on a bed of hummus, surrounded by lettuce and pickles and cabbage and onions and tomatoes like it’s the best Our Gang pita to hang out in.

Are you with me? How about these Hills of Haifa. Yeah, I’m a newly emerged mountain goat who just hoofed, cavorted her pilgrim heart right up to the Mercaz which is a shopping area in Haifa, to wolf down a falafel, remember the other day when Johnnie and I were here, and to find a few gifts to take home.

Pilgrimage is not always about whispering of the “Face of God,” which if you want to know, believe me, I’m not kidding, I found a phrase of that exact saying in a book I read today. Yesterday I said in my small writing, “There is no Face of God,” well if I’m lying, I’m dying; there in that book, small red-crimson cover, about the Blessed Beauty, it referred in small black ink that “Face of God,” is a title used for the Manifestations, Prophets, Messengers, Divine Educators of God, so I am not just whistling Dixie when I tell you, “Boy was I surprised.”

But hey back to the Falafel and me and relationships. Someone mentioned a halo moon, and I Googled it because I have empty spaces in that vat of a brain of mine that resemble someone who had half a head severed like logs going into big blades, and the part that was severed for me was math, science, biology, stuff with details, and makes me wonder, “Why did I only see my eyelashes in the microscope”?

Are you with me? So before I sit down and feel the hot crunch of chickpeas in the back of my throat, I am going to tell you this Google led me to click on Hyper Physics, and I thought that’s what I am as a poet; I am trying to connect all my words and images and feelings into a Hyper Physics mode where everything is interconnected.

So I say, I’m going to connect a Halo Moon because I feel pretty stuffed and fortified right now, cuz that coke and falafel hit the spot and make me feel round and as if I’m producing extra circular rays of satisfaction around my round spots, just like a Halo Moon. And I’m going to tell you this hoofer and hoper has been praying her brains out (well parts anyhow) and she’s praying for Peace, because as I said previously, it has been promised.

Now don’t give me any half hearted reply or responses that peace isn’t possible. Because if you do that, you’ve just been listening to all those boys at play on the planet who want parades and neon signs and national anthems, and bling, lots of bling so they won’t think of the real stuff that matters, like the soul and its journey either to falafels or hallowed White Spots, and do you think people, all of us on Planet Earth, can actually be stopped in our coming together, our hyperphysics dance of oneness, cuz aren’t we about creating an ever-advancing civilization. Are you with me?

My two themes as indicated by this quote and the previous one seem to be about healing. Sometimes themes call to me, to us, for reflection and wishing the wellbeing of all I know. How is it with you?

“We should all visit the sick. When they are in sorrow and suffering, it is a real help and benefit to have a friend come. Happiness is a great healer to those who are ill.In the East it is the custom to call upon the patient often and meet him individually. The people in the East show the utmost kindness and compassion to the sick and suffering. This has greater effect than the remedy itself.You must always have this thought of love and affection when you visit the ailing and affected.” Baha’i Writings

Esther Bradley-DeTally 10/25/06

Why do I Write

Like now when the dishes sit orphaned in the kitchen sink because its washer is out here typing, sharing, breathing, living, putting off the inevitable, because once a long time ago, I was so hurt, I couldn’t breathe, and I carried that intake of hurt with me forever, until I found out that sensitivity is the price and the prize for being able to write, for being able to read people, to Braille the unsaid about them, to have a prisoner falsely imprisoned for defending herself against her stepfather rapist, say, she liked a phrase I wrote, “The language of God is a tear running down someone’s cheek.”

I write because I read, insatiably, gobbling, inhaling, filling myself with the human condition; splat on the floor some days, like a big old squishy bug, flattened, dead, its body swept up by old straws on a broom; and then I write to show the magic of St. Theresa’s Snow Queen Altar when I was young, and how everything looked like a fairy cake or wedding cake, and then I write to tell how when I was a young woman, and so needy I could have impaled myself on a stake wide and big, sort of like a meta-letter holder, except the stake would run through my insatiably needy heart, and a note on my back would read “loves too much,” and that was before the book Women Who Love Too Much.

I write because I have gone beyond Medieval Posts puncturing my despair and loneliness and have decided Men Who Love too Much is here too; we all love too much but is it politically correct to love so hard, and yet tension of the opposites, I write becauseat times none of us love too much, but we are told by images in advertising, that we should be thin, jaded in the eyes, like the look of models for Vogue or whatever, who probably could shoot up heroin on their lunch hours, and because despair is trendy and nihilism and materialism and not giving a damn might be the language of the hour for some, but then there is the lonely, little, big, young, old, trembling, brassy, you catch my drift writer who writes because he or she must and words have a visceral effect upon her, him, the dog, the surrounding room, hopes for the world, and a good ham sandwich or description thereof on a sour dough roll, with slabs of mayo, and a bed of lettuce, and curled pink ham, ready to go into someone’s mouth which is opened to the size of half a ladder, is a good thing, a good description.

What this nation needs is a good ham sandwich and a Pepsi without the aspartame and some down to honest to goodness honesty that is the natural condition to communicate, to be real, to be afraid of bugs in knotty pine walls when the walls come alive at night; to watch an elderly blind woman, clutch the corners of her walker, take a breath and remain a sweet sweet spirit, knowing that her condition, her tests are of the divinely calibrated kind, even though trucks have run over her emotionally, and I write to tell of the anonymous amongst us, the bravery, the small acts of courage, kindness in this nation where the world is narcissistically checking its derriere in the mirror, and no one or precious few are listening to the “midnight sighing of the poor,” and where we must have immense courage and speak up; talk, yeah, walk the talk, be it; speak up; tell future generations who we were, wanted to be, became anyhow and our hopes for the future; because someday we will all be sensitive, spiritually inclined, aware of our oneness and otherness will go on a back shelf like Twinkies, no longer approved of by the American Heart Association, and writing will be celebrated by hoots and hollers and a piping or two from a medieval horn or Siberian throat, and the arts will have a way of grabbing our soul’s innards and carrying us through the day. These are some of the reasons I write, but there are others, but today is Wednesday and those are my Wednesday’s writing reasons.

Seeing Syriana
Esther Bradley-DeTally (1/04/2006)

I write poetry which speaks of white skin color privilege, of seeing underwear ads, with handsome white, thirty-somethings, trim in their Hanes, pornographic in their Victoria’s Secret. Sometimes I attempt a math-impaired Haiku; how do you Haiku frustration, absence, a feeling of Gargoyles 24, Unicorns 0. It was the film that did it. “Syriana,” a word or words manufactured like Xerox, or Aluminium, Ltd., or Pepsi moment did it. Syriana, a friend said, “means a carved-out territory, made up of whatever lands are useful to the dominant powers that need oil.”

Long story short, the film is brave, profound, staggering in its mirror of global duplicity. Some how the bad guys seem in charge, and urgency screams at us to look. Memory’s soft song, “Do you know where you’re going to? Do you know, do you know,” ribbons around my brain as my cilia pushes sounds and concepts on a direct route into my heart.

I write of daily moments: the turn of a wrist, hairs caught in a watch band, a tired dark hand clinging to a subway strap; two years of dirt on the homeless lady at California and Lake; conversation at Peets’ sitting at round glossy wooden tables, our laughter vaulting towards Peets high ceiling; moments; shattered and reassembled.

Peace seems like an illusive dancing creature these days, tossed about like an old crouton, nicely mentioned on street corners, politically correct on placards and bumper stickers. Attaining this peace seems like the sound of blossoms falling on rippled water.

If writing verse is “like throwing rose petals down the Grand Canyon,” – at least that’s what the guy who wrote Archie and Mehitabel said; what is working for justice, seeing naked structures of greed, as the guys in the back halls cavort along vortexes of greed for today and tomorrow’s oil? Danger, implosion ahead, standing on the edge of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Scene II in the years 2000 and on. Y2K had nothing on this.

And yet, a voice, voices of those who know of the coming of the Advent of Divine Justice, the witnessing of the spontaneous spawning of ordinary groups coming together for global oneness; unity, begins to be heard. Like a sliver of the moon, this force for a society promised by poets and seers and prophets of old and a prisoner named Baha’u’llah, this curved small ray of moonlight in the darkened sky with no sounds, not even of sounds of blossoms falling, is pointing towards the future; suggesting solutions.

Time will reveal the fullness of moons; our shift away from the shaking frame of a beleaguered mankind; it’s an old jail, and we have to leave; a new race of man will struggle towards its destined spiritual maturity, a webbing of clusters of ordinary people, helping one another; preferring others instead of a self; all in start relief against night’s darkness of greed and hatred. The blossoms seem noiseless but startling white as th

What Terrorists Want, by Louise Richardson, is a book about understanding the enemy, containing the threat, which is the blurb put over the title of this red and back with white letters book cover. The author grew up in Ireland, had a background that produced many a terrorist, and has spent her professional life trying to understand them. Now, Richardson is a professor of government at Harvard, has taught courses on international relations and American foreign policy. Finally her students talked her into teaching about terrorism, to a limited size class of 15. 130 students signed up. “As always happens when teaching smart students, you learn as much as they do.” Needless to say, her classes and teaching expanded to this new level.

“After September 11 an entirely new breed of terrorism expert emerged. The priority of these experts was countererroism policy and American power. they were very knowledgeable about….” (p xix) She suggests knowing one’s enemies and that “We must prove them wrong.”

Okay from here on I am going to distill just a few points as I sit in nightclothes, hair thatched, half touched coffee beside me (one cup).

What is terrorism? “Terroism simply means deliberately and violently targeting civilians for political purposes. If an act does not involve violence of the threat of violence, Richardson writes it is not terrorism. A third point she writes is the point of terrorism is not to defeat the enemy but to send a message, and that finally the act and its victim(s) usually have symbolic significance.

The point that interested me is her 5th point which is controversial and is, “terrorism is the act of substate groups, not states, and lastly (I hope) the victim of the violence and the audience the terrorists are trying to reach are not the same.” (p. 8)

I then flip to page 263 to What is to be done-chapter; after all, we are interested in solutions, and you the reader, can delve in any manner through the book.

6 rules for counteracting terrorism

1. Have a defensible and achievable goal
2. Live by your principles (sound familiar)
3. Know your enemy
4. Separate the Terrorists from Their Comunities
5. Engage others in countering terrorists with you
6. Have patience and keep your perspective

She then speaks to “where are we know”? and “what is to come”?-

I am not usually so academic first thing in morning.

Another good book, by Thomas Friedman, Lordy, i hope i am getting this right The World is Flat, tremendous and prodigious but readable, in clumps for me; I haven’t read the whole thing.

Yours, girl reporter on a grey and cloudy morning where the birds tweep, I recoup from a bit of a stay in the hospital and where I have high hopes for humankind,

esther

The greatest cause of bereavement and disheartening in the world of humanity is ignorance based upon blind imitation. It is due to this that wars and battles prevail; from this cause hatred and animosity arise continually among mankind.

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, “29 August 1912, Talk at Home of Madame Morey, 34 Hillside Avenue, Malden, Massachusetts, Notes by Edna McKinney”)
Watched tv tonight re terrorists; some of it was corroborated by books i’ve read at library; scary and only one point of view; and then i came across this quote; we don’t grow when we blindly imitate, but society is slow to change and so we adjust to wars, skermishes like frogs sitting in water which gradually heats us to death;
oh dear! just came from Interfaith gathering; good; intense, but good; too tired to talk.

September 6, 2006 – wrote short story last night, basic question of why was the dog wet and huffing and puffing, which I forgot to tend to – so much for completeness; Walked the Rose Bowl today; chatted about affluent happenings of some, and in my mind’s eye thought of those who struggle. Am figuring out this blog; and i almost approach it as I do the DMV line when renewing my license, i.e., with trepidation, but hey yea, it’s just a new thing; “aint no big thang, just a chicken on a strang,” via Nick my son; below is an interesting quote from Pearl Buck:

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him…a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create–so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange unknown inward urgency, he is not really alive unless he is crating.


Pearl S. Buck, novelist, Nobel laureate (1892-1973)

Relief coursed through me when i read that; i remember being at a point where my dendrites were hanging out and the Virgo in me was hissing back; and lo and behold, the quote came in; so i offer it for others.

talked to attorney i had worked for 100 years ago; we still hold each other in our minds and feel well being; he knew me before Nick was 5; and I worked for him at Rutan & Tucker, and he was selling his rubber canoe. I had precious little money, but bought it off him, and it was blue and orange and we lived on Balboa Island in a little apartment upstairs; which I called “My Robinson Caruso House without Robinson Caruso,” and that canoe was terrific fun that summer; except when Nick didn’t want to carry it back; But we all rolled around the sand laughing at our escapades. Seems symbolic, no matter how rough the times can be, seek a joyous moment.
okay, ta ta for now

September 5, 2006, Sorry-Gnat enters hyberspace life letting those who are interested know that in the Baha’i Writings one can go on the path of transformation and be a sorry gnat and become a giant eagle.

right now, i have had lunch at Tuohey’s Restaurant in Alhambra and had dinner there last night, and I don’t think i should try to be a giant eagle physically, so I must think about this blog and i will be inputting poetry, prose, wonderful quotes, book recommendation; thoughts from one person’s perspective of life on the planet; i haven’t filled in my all about you, well, i did, but couldn’t save it properly. Have a lot to learn on this blog, and will consult with my techy friends as to how, what, why, when! Am reading The Earth is Flat, Thomas Friedman, excellent. Very good writer; just saw Jessica, our granddaughter at an early socer practice; she’s almost 7-going into first grade and all the little girls are not aggressive players at all, but very cute.