Piles of papers, some financial, some literary, some household related, I sigh and walk away. I mean the state the world is in here in November of 2020. Thinking all this would serve as inspiration, that writing it out would help. Instead, I find myself wanting to go to Strawberry Fields where “nothing is real, and there’s nothing to get hung about”, but I am hung. Spiritual leaders advocate letting go, accepting change, embracing impermanence. Our ancestors came across the ocean, bought a farm, and stayed there – had ten kids, taught them animal husbandry, awakening in the pearly grays of dawns to begin work. Hard work. Every 50 years or so some great invention would increase efficiencies. News came in handwritten letters that arrived a month after they had been written. And each stroke of the pen had thought behind it. Not like typing. Not like posting on social media. And they stayed where they were planted. This, this global pandemic, this resurgence of oppressive regimes, this fire hose of information, scarcely any of it reliable – they experienced some of this. But not at this pace, not at warp speed. My grandfather served in two World Wars, you know, and it messed him up, he killed himself at 54 years old. Would have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder if anybody was admitting it. Back then, to have such a disease was shameful. I wonder if my DNA is haunted down to the last helix, and I’m bitching about quarantines. Everything changes, I know this, down to my bones, I know this. But I am comfortable here. Physically comfortable. We saved up for retirement, we made plans. Gaia laughs. Ok, I am cancelling the pity party, and keeping up the submissions to the contests. And Zooming with my friends. Attitude of gratitude, let’s all dance like nobody’s watching, because, really, nobody is.
Let me tell you about Barack Obama and how the hateful opposition sneeringly lengthened his name to Barack Hussein Obama while simultaneously shortening Jefferson Beauregard Sessions the Third into “Jeff”. Not one, but two Confederate Army officers honored by his parents, embedded in his name. Trying so hard to please his boss, the Great Divider, no draconian policies were good enough or mean enough if investigations proceeded however well justified.
This is something not up for grabs, my voice, my vote, my vagina. Scandal upon scandal, vie for venal victory, and former friends shrug and call us Socialists, a would-be epithet I shall embrace. If my Libertarian, dyed in the wool capitalism can be called socialism, well doesn’t that just open the flood gates to Upside Down World? And I really don’t think asserting that “the sun’ll come up tomorrow” can convince the Flat Earth Society that they need to shut the fuck up. My mail-in ballot was received and I assume counted, but there rises the specter of hanging chads, and maybe the Chads and Chips and Chucks should be hung, by the raised collars of their sporty shirts.
Authoritarian Regime after Regime – how many more? And Frank Zappa sings in my head that “It can’t happen here, ‘cause I’ve been checkin’ it out…Suzie Creamcheese, this is the voice of your conscience speaking”…
In the deep South, women dress in hoop skirts and sing the praises of the of their plantation museums, like anything about the Antebellum South is worthy of praise. Docents guide visitors through the Grand House, clippety clopping down the tree lined drive in dainty carriages they arrive at the lovingly restored mansions and only in some plantations, the ones I visited, are the slave cabins preserved.
In retrospect, breaking up the Divided States, letting the Confederacy spin off (good riddance) into a separate nation, imagining a different outcome, where there is no Electoral College, where winners of the popular vote just fucking win. A stalemate in an earlier war, agreeing to go our separate ways and Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman lived long active lives, where John Brown’s body and those of his murdered sons never did molder in the grave. Passengers on the Underground Railroad making it to freedom funding the rebellion, burning down the mansions and putting up plaques honoring the laborers. From a safe distance pointing to the Mason/Dixon line and saying “There’s evil in them thar hills”.
This is what we don’t know – the flowers picked, you girls gone to husbands, young men gone to soldier, every one – when will they every learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?It’s just all so repetitive, all so sickening, all so backwards. Hate is always propaganda and propaganda is always hate, and power corrupts absolutely. Chin Shr Huang Di ate mercury for immortality. Mao Ze Dong ate opium balls and let syphilis drive him mad, and the Four Olds were attacked and destroyed by blinded followers. Stalin brutally murdered his opponents, Rome begat Caligula, Hitler begat the Final Solution and these are DEAD dictators. Former President Trump cozies up to today’s bloodthirsty power mad megalomaniacs and here’s where Russia fits in – when democracies band together, invasion and annexations become harder to pull off. Bullies are right now licking their wounds – injuries sustained by the mere hint of disagreement, by the unforgiveable sin of dissent. They set about to silence voters where voting IS allowed, and to simply jail those of lesser means. Gaia, they are so brittle, resentful of a beautiful autumn day in early November when we threw a rock at the wall of sycophants surrounding the Emperor with no clothes. On the inside of the wall, he is striding purposefully in imaginary finery. Emerging weeks later, he dons a perfectly tailored coat and shuffles down the ramp to a guilt laden obscurity.
On this day, November 4, 2020, I am vacillating, so shook up, my limbs are vibrating. The polls have been closed for less than a day, and our fractured alliance of states are counting ballots at wildly different rates. So much voter suppression, outright sabotage of the Post Office, and really, it’s all coming from the cult of personality. Speaking of disenfranchising makes me sound like Mary fuckin’ Poppins because the sheer magnitude of the raw power grabs of 2020 does not have enough adjectives, it strains my vocabulary.
Super Cali Fragile istic sounds like a Chamber of Commerce tag line gone wrong. Those eminence greasies would never admit that California was, is, fragile. Acquiescing to the ugly rule of Viagra popping losers, oh Gaia, I hate the patriarchy SO much! My pen drips disappointment on the page. Last night, I paced, looping, feet shuffling, grabbing items and putting them somewhere else, a strong fingered pull to order, to some semblance of control in a world careening to destruction.
No more “snowflakes” in California, people, the wildfires burnt them out of the sky. History is looping, I am adrift in a foreign land, driving at dusk in a sundown town, the posse locking and loading , pickup trucks revving, ready to attack us Hippie Peace Freaks. As the muffled disagreements within the European Union break it apart, so too our shady alliances with closeted misogynists are put on display, as they seek to break apart equality and justice.
Blue wave hits low tide and the Red Death strides across each beach, drowning hope in the color of blood. Olly olly oxen free to trample, to stampede, to crush, to destroy.
Fellow Americans, my ass. Pro oppression, pro corruption, anti-choice Thugs. Ugh. They are laughing at our Blue Wave memes. Wearing pearls not bring Ruth Bader Ginsberg back. Selling, them and other jewelry and donating the proceeds…I dunno. Already sifted out unwanted baubles and gave them away. Hoop earrings and face masks get tangled up in each other and necklaces attract kitten chomps, so definitely don’t need that many.
Throw in the towel? Or flip the Senate? Craven and depraved leadership, the ones blocking five hundred or so bills passed by the House, the GOP (Gaggle of Peckerheads) sits on them, shits on them, and I’m not ever going to say “The American People” that overused phrase – because there is no such thing. It’s us against the misogynists and oh for fucks’ sake, us against actual people who actually believe slavery was not that bad. Leaves me praying for the Black Madonna to experience a Virgin Birth and this Savior weaves a story of a return to kindness. Types it out and posts it as he says it so some poorly qualified apostles can’t misquote and twist the meaning this time around.
I pledge allegiance to the facts and United States of Compassion, and to the Republic we used to have, no one nation, no one god, with Liberty and Justice for all.
I used to ask my mom, in the five years or so before her passing, “Tell me about something beautiful today.” You know, just to break up the litany of malfunctioning body parts. Now that I am in my 60’s I’ve noticed how so many of my conversations veer towards doctors and procedures, prescriptions and pulled muscles, I have to then ask myself – tell the story of something beautiful, something heartwarming, some act of kindness that you witnessed today. It seems especially hard this year, 2020, a time filled with curses and lies. A maelstrom of trends colliding and crashing as the Earth strikes back.
Envisioning the scenario before us, all over the planet, people shudder. Our differences, in color, in gender, in poverty, in wealth, in education, in ego, in endless combinations of faiths, are rivening the species.
Civil unrest (and I mean that literally – peaceful, civil protests every night) remind us that all is not well. A broken economy, proletariats and bourgeoisie, or as the children these days put it, some people are just booshie. Earth is rearing up, in fury, the four elements wind water fire and rock are getting flung at us humans. The news dwells gleefully on the craven con men, parsing nonsensical pronouncements from on high in only one country, this one. Seldom mentioning the struggles and triumphs of populations elsewhere. Blasphemous me, I can’t help but see that blind faith in one book, in one origin myth, leads inexorably towards blind faith in men who say they have the answers.
Education through visual storytelling, can be, and is instantaneously disseminated. So that’s Trend One. Live moving images widely available within seconds of violence having been perpetrated, sometimes while it is actually happening “in real time” – think about that – real time. Not fake time. We hear the sounds of pleading, and see the images of a white uniformed man calmly murdering a handcuffed black man; released before editing or tampering can take place. Instantaneous publication is a double-edged sword. No context, and we viewers have to string together outrage after outrage, so we can pile up enough to build a case for killing racism before it kills another innocent American. But we knew, all of us, we knew. American history from the textbooks glorifies war, buries the contributions of women and people of color. Still and to this day we gloss over the horrific crimes, the blood spilled, the moral stains on our national conscience. What do we tell our kids? Tell the truth honey, and I won’t be mad. Lying about what you did is so much worse than breaking a vase. The child can clean up the scattered shards but broken trust bows to no broom. Genocide bad. Detention camps for would be immigrants – bad. De-humanizing other humans – bad. Even after the specific crimes cease, pretending they didn’t happen invites the wound to fester. We know this.
Trend Two is the “Drawbridge Up” mentality at national borders everywhere (Brexit). Emigrants reviled, asylum seekers punished at home and abroad – Britain for the British, Syria for the Syrians, Southerners for Secession (wait, is this still festering?) coded eugenics for the modern age. Ukraine for the Russians or shall we say the taking, ban the Muslims, stop trading with the Chinese – hegemony and manifest destiny remain the golden goals. Autocracy blossoms where reason fears to tread.
Trend Three is the stark transfer of wealth, the rich and powerful are not pretending to share anymore. What a relief that must be for them. Sneering that $600 dollars a week will make the recipients lazy, while ignoring the fact that $600 million dollars a week will make the recipients crazy – for more. Philanthropy demands results now, a measurable improvement for rich men to brag about. I run with the Big Dogs and trip them when I can. I navigate the abyss with malice aforethought. Time is money. In my youth, I decided that the biggest difference between economic classes of people was the value of time. The rich could look seven years into the future and see a doctorate paying off. Delayed gratification meant to me that no matter what my means (or income) I must always live below it, in good years and in bad. Feeding today’s urge with yesterday’s money would leave me flat. On Halloween, I would put my candy away (some in the freezer) and would still be eating it in December. This drove my brother and sister crazy, and then, just as that ran out, there was the candy from our Christmas stockings – I very slowly consumed that candy too. Betcha dollars to donuts you know somebody like that, you know the ones who did not spend their dollars on donuts.
Trend Four is the abrupt cessation of businesses worldwide. Global supply chains broken, idling ships and planes and trucks and automobiles. The blind rush to accumulate treasure halted so we look around, see our co-habitators (some call them our germ bubbles) and hear the children these days, listening to them learn in the new worldscape of empty cubicles as we eschew recycled air and highrises. Empty classrooms, shuttered restaurants and department store bankruptcies are just the tip of the iceberg. Underneath what we can see, the frozen misery of the unemployed lurks and waits for the Ship of State to collide. Like flies caught in amber, they cannot escape, and there is a mad captain at the helm.
Trend Five is fire and flood. All worse than ever – excluding the Jurassic and perhaps the Pleistocene eras, we do indeed have Weather Weirding. Climate crisis and all this continues even while highways and streets empty and the air clears over cities that haven’t seen stars for fifty years. All that improvement wiped out by wildfire smoke in the skies that hangs in the air for weeks.
Trend Six is the emboldening of hate-based -isms. Hostility by proxy, these electronic texts typed by pundits and nobodies deliver messages of venom and bitter jealousy. Words provided by the vitriol-spewing former reality show stars whose towering destructive anger has their parents, even in their golden years, cowering in fear. Traitors who blithely accept this disgusting behavior, they can go live with the consequences. Perhaps those who run, hurling insults and invective as they flee, perhaps they glimpsed the red-hot edges, not completely hidden, of a roiling anger, lighting torches for a Sherman’s March through a Narcissistic Landscape. Behind my eyes, below the surface, they are just a thin layer away from magma level rage. I really do not understand the unreasoning fear of people stepping outside of strict gender roles. The meaning of Roe v. Wade is right there in the angry puffed faces of the misogynists fighting for Spermatozoan Sacredness. Here’s my wish for them, those anti-choice thugs, those Viagra-popping losers, that they cannot orgasm unless a woman comes first. Forever and ever.
At least the Pandemic has led late night talk show hosts to don more unisex clothing. Now it’s hoodies and polo shirts and sometimes even denim, whereas before it was Suit and Tie, button down long sleeved shirt, socks and shiny shoes. Always the Suit and Tie, Suit and Tie, lose the socks – how about some flip-flops? How about wearing false eyelashes, plucking your hairy eyebrows, donning an off-the-shoulder gown or blouse, just once, just once, break the damn code – wear a puffy shirt, cargo pants, a skirt – anything to show you understand how restricting those dress codes truly are. Underneath that thin veneer of “showing respect by dressing in a suit” you must realize it perpetrates stereotypes, right? That “dress code” doesn’t really apply to both men and women does it? Pantsuit Nation is still trying to normalize that mode of dress, yet the condescension continues, apace. And the outright persecution of cross-dressing queens and transgender humans – what the hell did they ever do to the Boogaloo Boys – and take off those Hawaiian shirts and put down those tiki torches – you’re making your mama ashamed. How does a transgender person taking a poop going to harm your precious perceptions? I mean, is your pecker so small that gender roles must be shriveled as well? Put on a nice summer dress, boys, and feel free to browse the cosmetics aisles – make up for everyone! Sequins all around! The Patriarchy is not working out for anyone.
So, gird your loins, people, this election is something the compassionate among us need to win.
Into the raw dark
I cast my thoughts
Happiness was just there
Skittering briefly through neural pathways
Like mercury without the poison
I would grasp it and work it into the defiant fur
Of my favorite cat
Then in the back of my mind
I bank the glowing embers of a warm contentment
Knowing that even in the land of endless summer
Storms will come
And she will blink, my familiar
Silver balls lit with moonlight drop once again into my hands
We will leave this home office and dance to the tunes only we hear
Spinning out the fear
Into the raw dark
The worst job of all has gotta be Director of the Justice Department’s Ethics Office in 2020. When the Attorney General is pointed at political enemies like a big fat cannon and retaliation is handed out like Halloween candy to earnest citizens, the complaints must be voluminous. This year’s Trick or Treat entreaty elicits nothing but dirty tricks from the GOP. One hopes the spirits of dedicated public servants from years past haunts the kleptocracy and hands out retribution for such servile devotion to the Deceiver in Chief and his cronies.
Good people of America are called to join up in the pumpkin patch, sit six feet apart and direct the Great Pumpkin to drop squash on those white-haired sycophants whose crap for brains attracts flies. His humorless minions hoping for a stray seed hunger for power, not food. Let’s hope Casper the Friendly Ghost has a mean uncle and for Halloween, we get a seat at the table where the ethically challenged gnaw on the bones of democracy.
This is my room now.
I need to empty it.
All those words in all those diaries and all those stories like refrigerator magnets and puzzles they break apart like un-diagrammable sentences
Crowding the room with random utterances
Piling up like walls of word matter
newspaper strips coated in wheat paste,
clinging to this balloon face
retaining images in negative space
the shape is lost as layer after layer of newspaper strips are laid on top of one another
and I can’t breathe
No one ever peels the words off
Criticisms like black rocks thrown violently into baskets of light,
the wet tagliatelle’s of sticky strips of words
block out the light
and I dwell in the negative spaces
surrounded by the implements and detritus
of things I love to do
Books I want to read
Photo albums and home movies to be edited
I hung up my phone
Turned off the ringer
Switched off the TV
Clicking a “like” button, lots of “shares”
Meaningless validations tossed into the ether
I can hear the Makaewa Bay wind
The house, like me, is all closed up
I desire no interaction
Yet crave company
Just a couple more days and nights of not returning phone calls
Writing out, not venturing out
Pull the covers up and turn out the light
This is my room now
I need to empty it.
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 – that he really thinks those who die from Covid-19 should be grateful. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.