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Send me a Box of Rain

On this day I am walking into rooms and forgetting why I came, walking in circles, finding irony where one was intended.  Last week, some yahoo named Michael Caputo took a leave of absence from his phony baloney job as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, which wouldn’t normally transition to a slice of rock and roll history, but 2020 continues to be a year of firsts.  After ranting on his personal Facebook page about imagined enemies, he calls a staff meeting wherein he announces the sixty day leave of absence, admitted he had never read the reports he was seeking to alter into fake good news, apologize for – get this – embarrassing the head of Health and Human Services, his boss, and suggesting/recommending that for their mental health, his staff should listen to the Grateful Dead.  So, this unqualified political hack who spews bile at scientists, this Trumpkin sycophant, is right about one thing:  Listen to the Grateful Dead.  And then I wonder if he has really listened to the lyrics or if; in view of the administration’s willingness to sacrifice infected Americans, if maybe, he just likes the name.  Like Elton John’s Levon Tostig, who names his son Jesus because he likes the name, of course Jesus wants to go to Venus, but we’re not talking about Madmen Across the Water.  We are talking about the ethereal lyrics penned by the redoubtable Robert Hunter, who it turns out is the great grandson of the poet Robert Burns, and the mind-bending lyrics of the immortal Jerry Garcia, but I digress.  “Levon, Levon likes his money, he makes a lot they say.  He spends his days counting”  See, immediately the Play Button in my head is activated.  Perhaps Mr. Caputo is inviting us to “Come hear Uncle John’s band, playing to the tide” and honoring the boogaloo militias.  “Goddamn, well I declare, have you seen the like?  Their walls are built of cannon balls, their motto is don’t tread on me”.  

I am sending out a cosmic request now – could someone send me a Box of Rain?  It’s so dry here in the Attics of my Life quietly reading “the book of love’s own dream, where all the print is blood”.

Ok, so maybe not all of their songs are good for mental health, yet they DO make you think.  Bozo wannabe gangster Caputo gets paid for the next two months to shut up and stay home, lots of time to earn his own Touch of Grey.  There are emails which will forever take up magnetic particles in some midnight spool of archive tape stating in the craziest possible terms that there are “resistance cells in the bowels of the CDC”, a whack job whose ghostly insanity haunts the electronic halls of the Center for Disease Control.  An agency run by a man who strives not to do good but to do the bidding of power-crazed Kleptocrats.

And Uncle John keeps asking a question that shouldn’t be asked, that is asked anyway:  “Where does the time go?”  In the analog world, even a broken clock is right twice a day.  Wise words can fall from the lips of idiots.  I implore you my friends to ignore the conspiracy laden rants and luxuriate in American Beauty which is a shoo in for the greatest album of all time.  Especially those who think the pandemic can be quashed by tainting the data.  Here’s hoping the Trumpkins sit out the election getting stoned and space dancing to The Dead.

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Quarantine Quarry

These new pets that live in our backyard and sometimes in my office – they’re photobombing my Zoom Room, and we all love it.  Offices in stalwart buildings would never allow that.

The Gingers play in a Quarantine Quarry, jumping from rock precipices, allowing themselves to be momentarily captured for snuggles.  Something carried in my arms can boost my mood so easily.  I cancel the television more often these days, I coddle the kittens.  They are mock ferocious, feral adjacent, they frolic at my feet.  Watching them play, I capsize, saying yes again to the danger of future sorrow by opening my soul to them now.

This twisted now, I contort reality whenever briefly trying to understand fact challenged announcers.  I miss my traveling gal pals.  I commemorate our travels together with digital slide shows and riveted by reminiscences of numerous wine tours and tastings, I mostly chardonnay these summer days, and occasionally I cabernet, tasting the years like grapes in an oak barrel.  The photo has us raising our glasses, a moment frozen in time in a crowded little restaurant in Budapest.  The eight of us – I can almost taste that Hungarian stew – dark cherry memories, awash in comradery.  A celebration now captured in the lenses of our ever present camera phones.  My girls are here and there, all over the world, they too are missing our travels together.  We Zoom toast each other from sunny porches to well-lit home offices

What I count down now are the days without flights in a Quarantine Quarry where the newly domesticated kittens chase pebbles and make new memories.

White Ginger Breath

  • My favorite flower is white ginger.It has delicate white blossoms that pack a wallop of a scent.  When woven into a lei, the wearer can sit next to the hygienically challenged and not even know it – like a halo of perfumed drapery, wear it near your nose, you will not be sorry.  
  • My favorite Hawaiian cultural story is the word “Aloha” – the “Ha” is pronounced with a healthy exhalation – Alo means I give to you – so literally, they are saying, I give you breath.  That is why it means both hello and goodbye – it is neither – it is sharing of life between two humans.  We think they are “nose-kissing” when in fact they are exchanging breath, becoming one being wishing life and survival to each other.  Mouth to mouth resuscitation is the closest we Europeans have come to this mutual blessing, but it is only offered to the nearly dead.  You can survive many days without food or water, but if breathing ceases, it is a matter of minutes.  And the time between now and a maskless future goes slowly, most of us helping where and whom we can. The maskless future where we can kiss and breathe and our faces can be smooshed together, embracing with abandon once again.
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  • There is no property in most native world views. It is rather ridiculous to think any one human can “own” land.  It is ever-changing, especially in Hawaii where the lava flows add acres every year. In the Great Mahele – the first land and title codification in Hawaii, the plots were not drawn in straight lines – the islands were sliced like a pie.  Because everybody knows the hills alone cannot support a nutritious diet, just as oceanfront property can offer only fish.  We call the Hawaiian “royalty” kings and queens, but they own nothing – no visitor is allowed to go hungry, and after being offered to the Chieftain first, all food is shared in the luau.
  • The Hawaiians, like the Eskimo and Native Americans, were nearly wiped out by the white man’s diseases.  And then a monotheistic manifest destiny that placed anyone of darker skin into the roles of sub humans, swooped in to kill thousands more.  A mis-reading of the original Aramaic lead them to believe that instead of being good stewards, those who believed in the Lord would “subdue the earth… have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air” (Genesis 1:28).  Anyone who has witnessed an erupting volcano knows with great certainty that we humans cannot “subdue the earth”.  
  • And there were great warriors, tribes fought among tribes – but there is a big difference between warfare and total annihilation.  When the missionaries came, they banned the hula, banned carved statues of gods, banned the use of the Hawaiian language.  The great King David Kalakaua, embraced both Christianity and the native Hawaiian traditions, and restored the dance and chants.  Emmalani, who was Queen before him, built many hospitals and was central to halting the decimation of her people.  If it wasn’t for them, I would not know the word “Aloha”, and the giving of breath from one to another would have never become my favorite greeting.

Read “The Night Swim”

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Beautifully crafted and deeply moving, this is a story for our times, and hopefully, we will all learn from its brave protaganists Rachel Krall and Hannah Stills. The dialogue is artfully woven between scripts of Rachel’s podcast (in a different font) and the movement of the main story. It’s a real page-turner, I finished it over two nights, couldn’t put it down.



View all my reviews

This book got me thinking that my efforts to shift the dominant paradigm can be redoubled. Tell the authorities to listen to little sisters. Listen to the victims. Do not enforce the Non Disclosure Agreements women were bullied and blackmailed into. Feel free to jail rapists for a very long time. We don’t need an International Women’s Day – we need to be heard all 365 days of every year.

I just endure

I just endure

she says blithely to an empty room, testing the sound before she writes it down.

Invisible injuries, intimate betrayals hurt

like the physical searing, nestled-in lingering pain of broken bones

Will her legacy be a lifetime of word craft or days misspent on the whiny tidbits

tucked in that lonely smart girl’s diary?

I just endure

she says hopefully in the darkened room

wearing the words like a blanket

The Vapid Magician

Heavy ham fisted sleight of hand

Asked to unsee the visible

See the unseen

The vapid magician elicits oohs and aahs from the willfully ignorant

Governance is a tawdry sham

Over-coiffed

Under-principled

He is stealing you blind

And you lap it up in the darkness and hear only lies.

Prestidigitation Nation

It’s ripe, pick it.

Tables down, it’s First Class

And you lean in, and you lean back

Mealsnax arrive with white linen napkins and silverware

It’s a real knife

Because in real life,

The rich are not suspected

They get re-elected and each time

It’s for life.

What’s in a name?

When I was born, I was given my father’s last name.  My first name belonged to an Empress, but that did not make me powerful – it is at the top of my resume, stating the necessary gender.  When I married, I had already lived 26 years with this name.  It has been engraved on name plates, credit cards, and school yearbooks.  I am in the phone book, the alumni listings, and personnel records under this name.  I have fleshed it out and make it ring with memories of this unique person.

So, I am amazed when asked, just last month, 

“So wait, your maiden name is Tripp, right?”

“No, I was never a maiden.  My birth name is Tripp.”

“So, your married name is Tripp, too?”

“Yes.”

“So, you married your cousin?”

“No, but someone in your gene pool must have.”

The question “Is this your real name?” seems so ludicrous.  It stems from a quaint custom, a rite of passage which is not, nor has it ever been, expected of men.  For women, however, a public pronouncement of love and commitment to a chosen mate is not enough.  A traditional band of precious metal worn on the left hand at all times is also not enough.  For I have been told it is expected that a woman must become an appellative adjunct to her mate; become a “Mrs. John Smith”.  Does anyone LIVE inside that name?  Or is it Mr. John Smith’s portable label for his current spouse, no more personal than a luggage tag?

I may decide to change my name someday – for convenience or pure caprice.  But women have fought long and hard for the right to choose where and when that change may take place.  It was 1974 in California when married women were finally allowed to hold property in their own name “sole and separate”.  The Napoleonic Code has been abandoned, but I am still waiting for the change in legislation to lead to a change in attitude.  When Mr. Jane Smith is a common phenomenon, then maybe the fight will be won, and one’s chosen name will be one’s only real name.

By Catherine G. Tripp (Ms. and Miss and Mrs.)

Aunt Mary’s Mask

My Aunt Mary and Dolly Parton had something in common; they never left home without their “war paint” on.  Pond’s cold cream and Oil of Olay – goop on, goop off.   Gluing on false eyelashes and curling the ones she had, applying foundations, powder for the shiny spots, rouge to add color to the cheeks she just painted beige, eyebrows plucked, eyeliner traced across lids, lips painted with a color to match the manicure.  Clairol’s honey blonde dyed hair wrapped like cotton candy, coiffed and sprayed.  Her neck was encircled with metal and stones, ears were pierced and hung with baubles, dangling and glittering like fishing lures.  

I would sit on the bed, she perched on the tufted stool at her vanity, lifting one then the other jar of unguents and potions. The makeup would leave Aunt Mary’s telephone surfaces smeared with the blues and tans of eye shadow and cover up. How would Aunt Mary cope now?  She was always the glamorous one, I expect her masks would be fashionable, another matching accessory.

I am exhausted, just remembering the elaborate war paint ritual.  

I realized recently that she selected from a complexion wheel with several shades of “natural” but only one shade of brown.  “Racism in the makeup aisle!”  Sometime in the 60’s Crayola changed the name of their pinkish tan shade from “flesh” to “peach”, because, like, it ISN’T flesh colored, not everyone’s flesh anyway. 

She also planted the idea in my head that since whale and bull sperm has been used in cosmetics for years, how about using the raw material?  So, if you’re giving a blow job, don’t spit it out, don’t swallow, but smear that jism around to tighten up those sagging corners.  Would that not save thousands of dollars wasted on plastic surgery, not to mention saving the whales?

I think about my face, this face that simply merges and replicates those features worn by my mother and father, it sports the Broeker nose, the Niedbalski chin, the blond wispy hair of Teutonic ancestors and the pasty complexion of the Celts and the Brits.  So pasty, even my hippy mom would wheedle: “Aw honey, you would be so much prettier with just a little mascara… 

I realize it shields me from the ingrained suspicion of dark faces, it shields me everywhere I go.  My whiteness pops out from the cloth edges of face coverings.  

Are we now putting on masks over masks?  Without the best cosmetics showing off our makeover skills, is the playing field levelled in an unintended way?  Will all of it get wiped off on the inside of our masks, where only our lovers can see what’s underneath?  Will we miss Tami Faye’s face melting when she cried?  Is that why Orange 45 won’t wear a mask?  Afraid of the smeared face underneath?  

I hope our men will take to decorating their eyes, to augment their expressions while masked.  I hope they embrace the eyebrow plucking concept or at least trim the wayward finger length hairs above their eyes, free of societal pressure to conform by gender.

Sometimes, outrage leaks out of my face.  My whole body goes into fight-to-the-death mode.  I got this thing against being hit.  I mean, If you hit me, I will take you down.  Did you know I was suspended from school three times (in three different Oakland public schools) for fighting?  Those three kids never hit me again.  This righteous warrior part of me is not a mask, it is full body armor.  I love my inner warrior.  She is the reason I survive.

This face can wear a beautiful mask, or when enraged, can wear a hideous mask, lips twisted, teeth exposed.  I can wash off the tears, I can moisturize their tracks, hide the traces of despair, place artfully the invisible mask of false contentment upon the surface, but the anger remains.  

Go collect your rubles, Troll, Part 2

They are not talking to me now. Because I questioned their understanding of just who their enemies are. Fox Media had convinced them there was a caravan of terrorists walking – walking – to the U. S. border from various South American countries. I said that was not true. They dismissed me as a Pollyanna. Fox Media told them that the Syrian refugees were harboring terrorists. That was not true, yet they insisted I be afraid. Cleared out the table with my stubborn insistence that my friends were misinformed. And all these months later, when none of their fears materialized, they are trying to convince me that Black Lives Matter protests are violent. They keep picking the wrong enemies. Migrant workers, no. Asylum seekers, no. Peaceful protestors, no. I disagreed when they lashed out against Colin Kaepernick, my San Francisco friends, fellow fans of the 49ers. How dare he take a knee to protest police brutality, in this country, against black people. It’s football, not politics. Where else can he be heard? Corporate greed and corrupt governments took your 401k, these “titans of industry” stole your pension plans. Certainly not any immigrants. These purveyors of propaganda are the ones who lead you to hate those of less privilege. Watch what they do, my mom used to say, not what they say. But these days, the things they say are horrible. They used to be my friends, they sat at my table, I even love them. But I cannot condone their willful ignorance. We donate to candidates set to unseat the haters. I chat-sult internet trolls. Now is the time. The world sees us, and the world protests.

Where do you store your grief?

What body part stores my grief?

I dunno, maybe it’s my feet.  By best friend Bernice has a theory about injuries and maladies.  That they illustrate a spiritual need that’s not being met.  So, I keep breaking/wounding my feet and ankles these last few months.  Go ahead, find the parallel, the symbolism of foot problems while Sheltering In Place.  I’ll wait.

But grief, well I am not sure it is stored there.  In 2008, in the weeks leading up to my mother’s demise, I started moonstrating.  We should all use moon in place of “men”, it’s a better word, because men have nothing to do with our lunar cycles. Am I right? Can I get an A Moon? And that was weird because I had already gone through the “Change of Life” (consider those words duly intoned) aka Moonopause. So as the woman who gave birth to me fifty years ago died, my womb cried.  Mom was in terrible pain, so death came as mercy, but still, it’s hard, you know?  I don’t grieve I seethe.  I can feel a deep wounding, I can experience immense grief, and it all serves to ignite a barn burning rage.

Back to where grief is stored according to the Bernice Theory of Injury Location.  ‘when I fell down thirty two stairs shattering five ribs, which punctured a lung, the Wisconsin hospital stapled my scalp, installed a morphine pump, and set me up with a famous surgeon who stapled me back together with titanium clips,  I am all What The Fuck was THAT for?  We came up with, I kid you not, that I needed to be more OPEN, that it forced a crack in my armor.  

I cry easily but grief?  That’s private.  After the accident in 2013, as I clawed my way back to mobility, I found the strength to breathe.  Without morphine, I don’t think I could have inhaled.  Jeff likes to say that I have completely recovered, but that is not true.  If I did not suffer fools gladly before, I suffer them now not at all, having been reminded in a very serious way of my own mortality.  It grinds, like the gnashing of teeth and I totter between happy talk and no talk because nobody likes a whiner and nobody wants a needy friend.  

I want to write about quarantine, about coronavirus, about how it is affecting me, but Grandma and Grandpappy Tripp frown in memory on my selfishness, and I focus on others, how are THEY doing?  The unemployed?  The hungry?  The elderly?  So I write of their despair like it was my own.  I subscribe to ta podcast called Death Sex and Money – so titled because the interviewer gently draws out of her guests answers to those questions and feelings that despite of life’s most banal moments, hinge on three subjects that remain forbidden, unspoken, and Gaia damnit, they shouldn’t be.  I agree with Annie who suggests bringing back mourning arm bands – a visual clue that your friend or loved one was recently bereaved and why does it have to recent?  I should think that a beloved spouse (not a barely tolerated spouse that you were planning to divorce anyway) but you know – that life partner type, the one about whom you have no regrets, that tears a piece off. I have friends who when they were widowed took years to pull up from the abyss and wave back.  And why is it that the parents or step parents you love the most are the first to go?  My friend Greg, whose parents died when he was only ten years old, he says that at fifty years old you don’t get to call yourself an orphan.  He was/is an orphan.  He’s right about that.  It’s almost expected, only it really isn’t.  Mom was 75 years old when she died on April 14th, 2008.  She would have appreciated the irony of dying the day before tax returns were due.  All that time afterwards my stepfather had gone even more bat shit crazy, in an ugly and paranoid way, driving away his friends and family until there was no one left to blame for his misery.

Dad was 87 years old.  Roland was 74.  Two from cancer, one really, from old age – ostensibly an infection of unknown origin, but Dad’s body was plumb wore out at 87, the benefits of 1984’s quadruple bypass surgery having expired.  His heart had run its course, and I do believe that the 2016 election and the racist xenophobic misogynistic rhetoric uttered and promoted during that year broke his heart.  He said “this is not the country I fought for in the Navy” and hated Donald Trump and everything he stood for, so it was despair and worn out body parts that got him in the end.