Saturday, July 28, 2012

Midnight Flight from Khartoum

Today is a big day!  A reunion, after twenty-six years, with several families my first husband and I met in KhartoumSudan. Our reunion brings forth acute memories of nervousness, fear, and an amazing feminine determination to see rough times through by banding together.

Larry and I came, as all oil people do, to get rich.  Sometimes you have to endure a little hardship, like power losses,  and food or water shortages.  Khartoum was classified as a hardship post. We felt prepared to handle those hardships,  we would be well rewarded by The Company generous holiday times and salaries.

Our family set up a variety of plans of what to do "if something happened".  Depending on circumstances, the plan might be to meet up out in Ga'al'a, the Eritrean refugee camp a few miles away; another might be to go directly to the Nile and just head North, away from Khartoum. The third and more drastic plan, was at the recommendation of a "spook": if political unrest indicated hostage taking, was to turn ourselves into the Russian Embassy rather than to a western one.  We might become political pawns, but we would have a lot of people aware of our circumstances.  The fourth plan was for tonight's occasion.   I continually drilled the children about being asleep, and if I came to their rooms while they were asleep, woke them and said “It’s time now,” it meant we would be leaving.  They were to quickly and quietly get up, get dressed, get their school back packs and pick their favorite Care Bear.  

On that night in April, 1986 Larry and I were hosting a Canasta game with John Carter and Gary Hagstrom.  The Chevron walkie talkie was babbling away on a nearby table as it always was.  We were on "yellow alert" meaning don't go downtown, stay away from crowds.  Yellow alert was no big deal, red alerts were.  The American School closed, and dependents were advised to stay at indoors at home. 

"Attention Chevron and Contractor employees, please switch to Channel Three"

Oh oh.  There goes Canasta. i bet John or Gary have to report in for some emergency thing. My first thought was disappointment:  here I was all ready to lay my concealed hand down and win the card game catching these three with big fat penalty hands.  

We  laid our hands down as Larry got up and changed the radio channels.  He pushed our cards aside and put the radio on the table.  Our children were sleeping upstairs, in dreamland beneath their Mickey Mouse sheets. 

"An incident in Khartoum has changed status from yellow alert to red.  Dependents please remain in your homes until a Company van comes by to take you to the airport.  An emergency Lufthansa flight is on it's way.  All dependents will be taken to Frankfurt and will make their own connecting flights home.  Please take one suitcase per family.  Employees are to remain in country until further notice."

I tore my eyes away from the radio and looked at Larry, to make sure I understood the communique. His face was ashen.  Gary and John were already out the door and off to their respective homes to advise their house help.

Our emergency suitcase was packed and waiting by the bedroom door.  Twice yearly it was updated with current size clothing and shoes for the children. Steven would turn six in June, and Rebecca would be ten in July. The freezer held an emergency amount of American dollars and our passports in a plastic bag tucked between two blocks of minced beef and wrapped in foil. 

We had no housing in the States to return to, no family, but we did have an old boyfriend of mine who lived with his Dutch wife in Holland.  That was only about 8 hours away from Khartoum, so we determined this would be the best place to sit out in.  Whatever the emergency was, it would probably be over in about three or four days.  We had no way to call and let Pat and Corrie know we were on the way because international lines were extremely difficult when times were good.  I would call them from a hotel in The Hague, less than ten minutes by train from their house.  

And so I went upstairs, moved The Suitcase to the landing then went to the room the children shared to waken them. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cavemen, Manners and Court Etiquette

Recently, an interaction between of a group of middle-school boys and their school bus monitor, a 68 year old widow made the news. 
 She may have been a working elder, perhaps trying to make her way through the now elusive golden years in arguably the worst-ever decade of America History.  Sadder, she may have volunteered for the job to just keep other people’s children safe.  Instead she was subjected to a vicious verbal assault by a group of pre-teen boys.  

It is heartwarming that the public came to her aid and admirable that the thoughtless youngsters actually made their sincere apologies.  I give kudos to the boys for manning up and rectifying such a heartbreaking moment in their young lives.

I will call the boys’ behavior “Mob Mind”.  It is something I experienced twice in my young years of the early 1960s.  I’m first to admit that the good old days theory is a nice idea, however, they aren’t all that they were cracked up to be.

Mob Mind is a crazed condition, and happens most often at sporting events.  It might be related to delayed development of the frontal lobe in young people.  Current research indicates people may be lucky to make it to their 26th year when actual judiciousness finally sets in.  

I believe has a lot to do with not having  "manners", a word used for respecting and caring for fellow beings, and it needs done long before a child enters school.

1)  All children need tools in order to successfully navigate their lives.  A household agenda of civility and manners; respect and caring needs to be instilled by the time they are walking.   This would be those “yes please, thank you, pardon me, may I” phrases with which children are received with approval from the rest of the world.  Pre-school children are known for being amiable and cooperative, and professional mimics!  They are fixated on mirroring what they see and hear.  Parents, please do walk the walk;  and talk the talk.    What your child sees, our world gets.

2)  Encourage the older child to develop and respect an inner sense of responsibility.  Teach them as they move into elementary school that they need to rely on their sense of respect, of honor, "as Our Family always does."  Let them take pride in moving positively through their world.  Teach them it is their responsibility to sound the alarm, their duty to alert the school, church, or call 911 when they see certain acts, like bullying, and physical or sexual violence. 

I find it amusing that although I was reared in a welfare family, my brother and I learned all the above as toddlers.  And by the time we were ready for kindergarten we knew to stand up when a lady enters the room; if you are a gentlemen you remove hat on entering a room; you give up your chair as a seat for a lady or an elder; the gentleman opens the car door for the lady, and seats her in the restaurant, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.    

Mother took things a little further, though, and taught us how to curtsy and bow.  I assume she fancied us being presented to royalty one day.

She may not have been able to provide a lot of real necessities as we grew up, but she was able to give us the most priceless tools for navigating society and the workforce:  how to comfortably give respect, and employ some very Victorian manners!  Well, it worked for us both, and I have passed along most of what she taught to my own children (sans bow and curtsy) and to my grandchildren.

All my life I wondered about the ways man civilized himself.  I once hoped to get a degree in archaeology after taking Physical and Cultural Anthropology.  I envisioned myself landing a job in the Olduvai Gorge with Doctors Louis and Mary Leaky, sifting sand in my khaki shorts and pith helmet; finding shards of bones, brushing dirt from ancient footprints. 

Cultural Anthropology particularly fascinated me.  How did they civilize themselves?  There must have been lots of death.

I envision the cave man coming out of his cave early in the morning to go hunting with his club or his rocks.  He has a mate, and maybe a couple of children still sleeping in their cave, trusting Papa will not be an idiot and get himself killed by annoying other hunters.  

I am certain that on meeting another human, Papa adopted a submissive, or at minimum a respectful posture, hoping to establish some mutually beneficial relationship based on marrying off his female offspring, trading, or just staying alive. 

Inspired by that thought, I searched online for the "origins of etiquette" and found Emily Post’s Book of Etiquette.  I learned that Miss Emily’s Great-Grandson, Peter Post has written 5 books on etiquette, so obviously much of the world still acknowledges this social requirement. 

I searched further and found some support for my caveman theory:

1) 2,600 years ago the first “book of etiquette” was written by Ptahhotep, who was a city administrator under Pharaoh Djedkare Isesi.

2) 3,300 years ago mankind’s first written form of communication, Cuneiform, was developed, probably in Persia and it represents the origin of all written languages.

3) 5,000 years ago, in Mesopotamia, records of stores of grain and other agricultural products were kept by using forms of clay tokens or coins.

It took my imaginary caveman a very long time to get from just trying to feed his family without getting killed, to honing the social posturing that would keep him alive, and eons later keep him out of prisons.

I think it is time to go back to respectful interactions between people, not the short hand, short changing quick hits of “social” interactions.  

And, it is especially important to our youngest ones, who hold our future in their hands.  We adults are either somewhere on track, or nearing the end of the track of our own lives.  

Our youngest ones desperately need the tools to do as we have done and are doing.  Or, in far too many cases, to undo the worst of what we have done.


Friday, June 15, 2012

My Little Ratty Cat

Good-bye, Bootie

Boutros Boutros Kitty came to me one day at the tennis courts, a tiny handful of long black fur with a white blaze on her chest and four matching boots.  I felt her watching me from the shrubs near my car, peeking between the branches as I unloaded my tennis bag.   She was so tiny, so beautiful, and so friendly that I just knew she was somebody’s much loved pet.  I filled a little pet with water and put it near her shrub in case she was thirsty.  I felt certain she would go home before my match was over.

The little cat was still in the shrubs though, water was gone, so I refilled it then drove home and swiped some cat food from my other three cat’s supply, drove back to the courts, and put it in the bushes with her water.  This went on twice daily for over a week when finally my son Steven brought me to my senses.

“Mom, let’s just bring the Court Cat home.  We have two cats; one more won’t make much difference.”

We named her after the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros-Ghali and brought her home, where we lived with a Rottweiler named Andy and a little Australian Cattle Dog, Mary. Andi had reared Mary since puppyhood and they ruled our house. 

Jack, our elder cat, was a feisty, opinionated calico.  She and her silver-haired offspring Smokey were there to greet this tiny kitten.  Jack, the matriarch, demanded the same respect from this youngster as she got from her offspring and from our two dogs.

Smokey, with his long silver hair and his laid-back-hippie ways, eyeballed the kitten from a distance, and went back to sleep.  He was nobody’s boss.

In the end, Jack got little respect from Boutros.  Each time she chastised Boutros and turned her back to make a regal exit, the kitten swatted Jack on the rear end.  Her Regal Self would stop, turn and hiss at the kid and that was the end of the confrontation.  This ritual was repeated until Jack made her transition.

Jack and Smokey were content with sheltering in the garage or sunning themselves on the cement of the rather large and fenced side yard.  At night though, all cats slept in the garage safe from raccoons or skunks.  They never dreamed of coming into the house where dogs resided with people.

Boutros immediately established her Superior Catness over our canines by leaping onto their haunches as they squatted to take a wee.  The dogs lived their lives on the look out for the little black and white that terrorized them from behind the flower pots, and the little cat shared the backyard with them.

In time, young Boutros decided the front yard was her personal territory, taking on any dog who dared to walk down our street.  She was as beautiful as she was a tough: this tiny cat challenged all dogs, stalking them if they came too close to our property.  She once shredded an unsuspecting pit-bull’s nose. 

She remained a dainty eight pounds, and knowing she was gorgeous, seemed to pose in front of the vibrant flowers we had in our front gardens.  A visiting artist painted a picture she took of Bootie and our flowers.  The painting was hung in a gallery in San Francisco.  I wish I knew where, it means so much to me now.

1996 was the year when my son moved out to live with his father, leaving me a note in the mail box and a decade and half of grief.  It was also the year my daughter presented me with an unexpected grandson, a sweet and loving little boy who never knew a day without Boutros.

It was also the year that I finally agreed to step out onto the tennis courts “to just hit a little” with my future husband, and the world of competitive sports revealed itself to me.

In retrospect 1996 was a year that brought on some of the very best and worst times of my life. Perhaps we just have to reach a certain age before the real and unpredictable heartbreakers happen; have to reach a certain age to realize you are never too old to give new challenges (like tennis) a go.

Time rolled on. I remarried; and Andy, Jack and Smokey all lived nearly sixteen years before making their transitions.   My daughter and grandson moved out and began to make their ways in the world; my son remained trapped somewhere where I couldn’t seem reach him.   I continued nudging him with cards, notes and phone messages.  Let him know that he remained in my heart and that I would always love him.

When Rottweiler Andy passed, my long time neighbor demanded get a new partner dog for little Mary.  You see, my neighbor had been coming into our backyard to sit with our little cattle dog while we worked.   “Mel! Mary’s wasting away in grief!  It’s not good for her, she gonna die if you don’t get her a partner!”

So, my husband and I loaded Mary into the car and took her with us to various shelters and “tried on” possible partners.  At a shelter in Berkeley we found a tall black and white goofball with the impossible name of Mysticka.  We brought her out to see how Mary reacted, and to the shock of the shelter workers and us, the two dogs immediately sat down butt to butt and leaned into each other.  They looked at us as if to say “Well, let’s go already!”

Mystica, now dubbed Bisbee came home with us, and the two dogs doted on each other.
Bisbee gave all the garage cats respect, and life settled in with everyone understanding boundaries. 

Boutros claimed the entire front yard as her realm, and policed it as any good black and white should.  She chased away offending dogs, including the before mentioned pit bull with the shredded nose.  Our home was well guarded by our pets.  

Little Boutros “Bootie” outlived Jack, Smokey, Andy, Mary and Bisbee.  They all made their transitions in their sixteenth year.  So it seems fitting that she too went at the end of her sixteenth year.

But in her last six years she found her own personal dog, a shelter dog named Lulu.  Lulu is a Border Collie, a black and white longhair just like Boutros, with the same blaze and feet. No doubt Bootie took to Lulu because they were kin, wore the same tartan.  Or, was it because Lulu had been raised with cats and respected them?  They became partners, running shoulder to shoulder and chasing neighborhood cats from our back garden.  

Bootie began using Lulu’s doggie door, with great effort for a cat who never weighed more than eight pounds. I sometimes found the two snoozing on my bed.  They sunned themselves in the back yard every day, but at night, Bootie always wanted to go back to the garage, to the cave where cats slept.

She passed yesterday.  We just weren't prepared, were not expecting a trauma.  It was a sorrowful accident involving my grandson’s loveable dog Roscoe.  Nobody knows how or why he picked Bootie up, we only saw him walking with her held gently in his mouth.  She was still alive, but had three punctures in her chest.  We made the decision to let her pass on, be euthanized.  So, a few hours later she was let go. 

In 1970 I lived and worked in San Francisco.  Our flat was in the Outer Mission and my husband, Larry, was in the Navy, based out of Alameda across the bay.  We had a couple of cats, Angie and Barfie, and when Larry was stationed on the east coast I stayed behind, kept my job so he would process out and return to San Francisco, college and our future.  

But someone knew I was alone in that flat.  And they knew we had an expensive collection of records, recording system, turntable, speakers and such.  Thre times they broke our doors down, cleaned our flat out.  When I moved out I could not bring our two kitties.  I took them to a pet store and the owner promised would try to keep them together and find a home for them.  I made the mistake of turning around as I walked out the door. I saw their big eyes pleading with me not to abandon them.  

I left, hoping for the best because I didn’t know what else to do.  

Their eyes have haunted me ever since, still bring grief to me. I am crying now recalling something that occurred  nearly a half century ago.  I see and feel their terror, my grief, my pain.  They taught me a huge lesson.  Animals are creatures of emotion as much as any human.  When they are disregarded like a pair of dirty old socks they are wounded as deeply as any human child would be.

Since then, my much loved pets never leave their lives in the company of strangers, alone, in fear and harsh surroundings.  I will be the last thing they see.  They will feel my familiar arms and my lap; hear my voice saying I love them.  And their last breath will catch the scent of me.  

This is the least I can do for all creatures that bring such joy.  In the end, grief is all about love.  We are fortunate to grieve.  It is clear evidence that we have known, created, and experienced Love.

Bootie, my little baby ratty cat, you are the cat of my heart.  Thank you for all your devotion, your affection, and your trust. 

And, little cat, show some respect to Jack, okay?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Three Year Old You and Three Year Old Me

June 2, 2012, by golly:  twenty days from my son’s 33rd birthday; forty-five days from my daughter’s 36th birthday.  Aw, it seems like just yesterday that they were scrubbing around annoying each other.  We have been through a trial, me and my kids, but in the end everyone is doing good things.  Miracles will happen if one lets them.

Divorce is a nasty deal to drag children through, but dishonesty is simply cruel.  Children always detect parental dishonesty: because it gnaws at their self-esteem.  A parent’s dishonesty, particularly against the “other” parent mostly handicaps the child:  

“How can I love that parent when this parent says he/she is bad?  Does this make me bad, too?”

They can absorb it, and if it is negative they can  retain a  sense of unease regarding the person judged as well as The Judge.  Sometimes adulthood gives them  perspective; other times the adult child never comes to terms with the misguidance.

Children haven’t the acumen to make sense of untruthfulness. I might add that untruthfulness eventually vet's itself to the detriment of the originater.

A good friend of mine, upon reaching the ripe old age of 70 was saddened when she realized that for the better part of a century she harbored ill feelings about both father and mother.  Dad  was demanding, critical and controlling; Mom was a spineless, yet opinionated, wuss.  She and her sibllings never knew who was "right".

“Mom simply refused to stand up for herself, or for us!” was the way Ingrid put it.  She decided a good way out would be to marry at fourteen and produce a number of her own children.  Through her marriages, I think she did very well:  all her offspring made it through the ups and downs of living in good spirits, and their extended family remains strongly intact.  More importantly, her youngest generations are making solid choices, not reactive choices. 

According to Ingrid, she spent decades in what I now call “judgmental bitterness”.  Then one day the bitterness evaporated as a new thought occurred to Ingrid: 

“Hey! I have allowed Three-Year-Old Me to make opinions that guided me through my entire life!”  

With that thought she changed her attitude toward her deceased parents, herself, family and the world at large.  Old dogs learning new tricks, indeed!  And when she shared this insight with me, I began to examine my own life, which brought me to a very happy place: the balance of the difficulties and gratitude for same.

Is Your Three Year Old You still ruling your roost?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What a Way to Wake Up!

Imagine!  Adam Levine! … and it goes like this:

“I’ve got the moves like Jaggar! I’ve got the moves like Jaggar! I’ve got the moo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ooves like Jaggar!”  and I think I might have even been dancing in my bed.

So, I hopped out of bed and fed the dog, the cat and the fish; made me a pot of kaghwa. It is Arabic: the original word for coffee – we have quite a number of “English” words that originated in Arabia, but the Arabic Numerals that we were taught in school are all wrong!  

Years ago in Khartoum I couldn’t understand why our 3 in Arabic looked more like a backward 7 if we used Arabic Numerals in the west.  None of the numerals matched our numbers: our the zero was a dot; their 0 meant 5.The answer is, I found out a quarter century later is that our numerical system is descended from the Hindu “Arabic” System!  Who knew?  Apparently not our teachers.   It gets worse from there:  Hindu Arabic uses V both right side up and upside down which in my book makes a big fat plate of spaghetti  out of the Roman Numeral System, I tell you.

Those were the days, though, in Khartoum.  Who would have guessed I would end up there.  It is a far cry from my wine country with carpets of green vineyards which turned impossibly impudent reds in fall.   There, in my valley, yellow mustard grass grows taller than an eight-year-old child beneath what must be the bluest skies in the world. 

Khartoum shocked me.  My first immediate impression was of a world lacking in color.  I saw variations on shades of yellows and tans: thick, dirty and glowing yellow above me, air I could taste on my tongue.  I saw never saw sun against a blue sky there.  We had no shadows.  The sun tried hard to send light through pulverized sand in the air, and failed.    Buildings loomed in shadowy shades of mottled tans, and in the tradition of poor countries like the Sudan of the 20th Century,  awkwardly constructed, beat by the desert winds, and without d├ęcor. 

The only brilliance I saw during those first days were the occasional red and white Marlboro cigarette shacks.   I was new to international travel, and was dismayed that my country’s representative in the Sudan was cigarettes.

Against all that desert yellow, I learned a hunger for my home.  The valley that stayed alive with color throughout all seasons, even the stark patterns of winter were inspirational.  I learned that indigenous art is relative to nature’s bounty:  when one sees color and pattern, one repeats it in creative design.  We create what we see, and the art I found in the Sudanese souks was testament to those who by sheer creative determination produced pieces of cloth and carvings of wood or ivory no visual inspiration.  Did they create from memories past?  Did they hear stories handed down from ancestors?  Artists will always produce, and so in Khartoum it was in monotones of their personal surroundings.   I learned to throw away my criteria, judge less, and appreciate the artful effort on its own terms.  That dingy sand and rock was the world I learned to walk in, learned to respect, and grew to love.

Learning, walking, respecting, growing and loving are desert gifts. Thoughts came easily of  spiritual men who went to the desert for 40 days.  Clarity comes when there are no distractions, and it is easy to meditate in the desert. 

Adam Levine, you certainly took me for a ride this morning, with those moves like Jaggar.  Thanks!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jamie & the Dimond Merchants

My Dear Sarah,

Remember, I’m using your collective name again, when you inspire me to go off on a flippin’ tangent.  I do try to keep my feathers as unruffled as possible, but Sarah, Glass Steagall and Brooksley Born are painfully near and dear to my heart. We need to keep important information near our frontal lobes so we can make better decisions!

When it all went over the Pali, in September, 2008, I was sitting in the wee hours of England watching BBC and thinking “Oh my God. The US market is asleep!   They have no idea!  And the hoard of clappers “open up the market” by clapping mindlessly… gosh, they would be better off by pushing prayer wheels & praying!”
Jamie Dimond and his team of Gems have had a real rip, haven’t they!  Like many, I’ve reviewed “how could this possibly have happened???” and believe me, Sarah: it started decades ago.  

President Eisenhower saw the dangers and warned us about the military/corporate complex in 1961: don’t use war to support our economy ever again.

But, shoot, we already had “advisors” in Nam, with plans for more.  I was in it too, at the age of seventeen:  my boss printed arms catalogues for the Army: made millions on the war in exchange for having his son shot down three times and developing a heroin habit.

I’d gone to school since kindergarten with his son, and used to write him while he was in Viet Nam.  When he came home for the final time, heroin won his personal war, so he went to prison for a while.  I used to write him in prison, Sarah, then our lives took other directions and all of a sudden more than twenty years passed.  

Then one day when my own children were teenagers I ran into him in our home town, with his adorable little “Curley Head” toddler.  Here he was, clean, self-employed, a wonderful wife and was simply gaga over his little girl.

He said he had to thank me for writing him while he was in prison, and for turning his life around.  I was clueless and wondered how could I have helped him. Then he reached into his pocket, pulled out his wallet and showed me a tattered and worn Monopoly card, reading “Get Out of Jail Free”.  I was aghast – I didn’t even remember sending that to him!    

But my friend hugged me and said when he opened my letter and saw the card he laughed for the first time since he went to prison.  He laughed until he cried.  When he stopped laughing and crying, he made the decision that if he could laugh like this while in prison, he was certainly going to make it outside prison.

His father wasn’t the only one who profited hugely from the war: I was earning enough money to support myself and my mother off my job. I was part of it too.   

I suspect the company continued on doing armaments catalogues through the next series of wars, making more money off killing.  Defense contracters to take care of  food, clothing, medicines and guns become billionaires.  War, if it's won or lost by the taxpayer's money always makes billionaires out of contractors.  It's a business proposal, a mission statement they provide our military decision makers, our MDS as they no doubt refer to themselves in the Alphabet Society of American Government (A-SAG).

Back to the story now, Sarah:  a Hollywood Cowboy came into office and things started to change with his dream about trickle-down theory of taxation.  Some people say today they think it really was a "tinkle on"theory, not real good...Everything was about unsound economics and selling the myth of The American Dream: which was simply cheap credit and fast living.  The dream worked until it was killed.  And so here we sit, all of us, whether we lived fast or not.

I developed a private “dossier” on the regulations that “disappeared” over the decades to make this economy what it became.  Sorry to say, it was Clinton’s last minute deregulation of the Glass Steagall Act of 1933 that threw us into the fire.  But, you remember, don’t you Sarah:  we were so distracted by news updates about that young girl and her stained dress we were not paying attention. If we Americans would have been adults, we would have realized the repealing that act, would allow big banks, investment companies and insurance companies (Jamie and the Boys) would be enabled to build their false economy based on basically as they call it:  Betting.  They deliberately and skillfully manipulated the markets in order to max their profits.  While we Americans diddled ourselves with granite, en suites, exotic vacations, gas-hog cars, Miki Dees & stainless steel they gambled on our economy for personal profit.  Why not: nobody cared, for the first few decades, anyway.

Brooksley Born warned us in the ‘90s and no body believed her. She could have saved our country, but I guess we weren’t ready yet.  All is not lost Sarah! You can sign the petition for the “new” Glass Steagall Act if you like and hopefully prevent this from ever happening again!  

And by the way, Sarah, please know who your Representatives are and please keep their phone numbers handy.  They need to hear from you if you want them to behave!  You probably have kids, Sarah, think of our congress as our children:  supervise them at all times!

I have to say, I was tweaked when I found that much of Jamie’s “gambling” was done by computer algorithms!  In other words, when a stock or bond hit a certain number, computers were set to automatically buy/sell immediately. Jamie and the Boys weren’t watching of the market at all!  They just set up some computer guidelines then went down to the bar and let the computers do their work. Kind of like me and my crock pot!

Some people are concerned that what Big Business did to our economy, (which The Suits still believe is pretty hot-dam wonderful) is also being applied globally to drinking water, agriculture and other commodities.  (Have you heard about Pink Slime?  Beef Glue? )  You may have guessed, I’m one of the concerned.

So: here we are, and the tear-down is starting.  I’m seeing way too much fear out there over something we really never did have:  WE JUST CHARGED IT, SARAH!  That’s all we did…

It won’t be scary once we get a grip that the last half of the 20th C and the first two decades of 21st C were just smoke in the first place.  The dream really was a dream: one with quite a price tag hidden.

I just had a flash of the first half of the 19th C in America:  the endless bounty of this country: resources, agricultural land and abundances all for the taking; followed by a hideous Civil War over economics.  Then in the first half of the 20th C, we repeated the blood spilling in 3 more wars.  Some people became mercenaries and found wars being fought by others to join in.  

We busied ourselves with the plundering of natural resources for profit and continuing our warring in the last half of the 20th C, then took ourselves into a whole ‘notha level of war:  war on our environment.

Is it possible, Sarah, that Jamie and The Boys showed up for a real purpose?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Roar Firemouth, Write That Book

I decided I needed a break from the book the last couple of days, and  this morning it woke me up in the middle of a dream.  I mean I saw my book in my dream.  It was laying down, not filed, on a wooden bookcase, wearing a nice dust-cover, glossy bright yellow.  Instead of a proper title, there was an image of a piece of 3-hole binder paper with book titles scrawled in heavy black ink then lined out.  They were scribbly notes, some on lines, others almost vertical, a visual mess:  

Now That They Are All Dead (I have carried with me for decades while I waited for my elders to pass on)
Hand Me Down Rage  I became aware of the anger both my parents (must have) lived, and how it affected we kids. 

Circles of a Life I became aware of completions:  people appearing, unexpected connections, and resulting in unusual, sometimes spontaneous, always benevolent situations.  

A Nightmare in Bali, 1983:  I suffered my first adult episode of PTSD. 

 Bob Geldof got me Arrested!: for taking photos in a refugee camp with a news journalist. A description of our rollicking escape from gunfire in  the Sahara Desert.  (The Geldof connection made it happen!)   Oh oh - maybe it should be called Bob Made Me Do It!

Abu Dhabi Airport: 1985: an unforgettable child  lives in my heart today. 

Last day in Riyadh: an emotional final day in our home in Riyadh.

A Hole in Her Heart: Where I came from: my mother's history makes a good beginning.

Roar, Firemouth!   It too woke me up from sleep last summer.  At first I thought it was another book title knocking at my dormer door. I sat up in bed then knew I had to get to the computer immediately.  I now have a lovely sign posted on the wall that I first see when I wake up.  Roar Firemouth!.  It is my personal get-to-work call and it gets me out of bed and doing the necessaries before sitting down to create what I always hope will be an eloquent passage.

A Hole in Her Heart  may be the title I will choose.  I came into an understanding of my poor deceased mother thanks to my genealogical investigations of her family, which revealed  a sad and lonely story.  She was a toddler when things went awry and never was able to make sense out of it.  What does a baby know about what's going on?  They can only feel.

Through my search sites I found her sister's son, who kindly sent me his original family photos so I could scan them and share with my family.  He told me about my mother's life from a different perspective, a very different perspective, proving that little was known about her and how she was (not) cared for as a child. I  found more about this from newspaper articles around the turn of last century.  

Fortunately the discord between Mom and me  was sorted out . That's really a  candy-coated way to describe our violent history and the final moment of violence. I was sixteen and she broke a heavy wooden coat hanger over my head.   I grabbed her by her elbows and I threw her across the room.  Shortly after we began a brief but remarkable relationship.  This part seems to be what I most want to write about:  how bad things happen and how they can be righted but it is not always done in your time frame, your lifetime.