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HERSTORY

When I was in college, for one of my classes in world history, I was assigned a textbook called “Herstory – the underside of History”.   The premise is that human history has been written by the victors, reinforced by denying literacy to women, and that what we are taught in school – tales of geopolitical conquest, tales of religious wars, that these chapters are actually not that important.  Not to our evolution as a species.  Cultural and scientific breakthroughs, changes in the definition of family, the fall of matriarchies and the rise of patriarchies – these are the truly historical events.  Lines drawn on a map, borders and country names changing as soldiers and warriors bled to crest a hill for the right to rename it – what we celebrate – it is all decidedly one-sided, and perhaps progress towards this goal of complete subjugation of the natural world is actually taking the human race backwards.  The so-called Renaissance was the Dark Ages for woman’s rights – the Napoleonic Code and the blithe assumption that women are chattel was the opposite of a giant step forward for mankind.          

      Conflicted left and right brain working at full capacity in a society willing to accept only one per gender.  Logic reason, intellect, numbers, analytical thinking – not expected from one who pines to take brush to paper and paint EVERY branch of those stark trees silhouetted by the sunset.  Turning a phrase like a lump on the potter’s wheel.  Only I don’t know what shape it is going to take.  How many half-uttered thoughts died aborning because some pitiful pre-programmed inadequacy department determined that no-one wanted to hear them?         

     So I take much of what has been written with a grain of salt.  There was a female Pharaoh named Hatshepsut who ruled one of most peaceful and abundant periods in Egyptian history.  Her name was literally erased from history – the hieroglyphics were chiseled out of the stone monuments and tablets, her name was not included in the lists of rulers.  I always picture that chisel and the chunks of stone where once there was wisdom whenever I read an account of the period I’ve been researching for the book.  Important contributions, I assume, will have been left out if those contributions were made by women.

Libertarians must not be silent on Reproductive Rights. If not us, then who?

05/04/2022

Libertarian Party National Headquarters

1444 Duke Street

Alexandria, VA  22314

Dear Libertarian Party HQ,

I am writing to ask you to shift your PR focus to loudly and proudly opposing the full on attack on Reproductive Freedom that is going on nation-wide.  I have sent three emails regarding this issue, and am most dissatisfied with the response so far.  I have read and reviewed the Liberty Pledge Newsletter, the various email communications for the last six months, and the Party’s silence is deafening.   Whining about a piece of cloth over the nose and mouth while nearly a million Americans have died from the pandemic – hey – I don’t like mandates either.  But how about the mandate that a victim of rape is forced by her government to bring that rapist’s child to term?  How about the mandate that doctors who perform this essential medical service be sent to jail, or in some cases targeted for execution?

The recent leak of the majority opinion of the Supreme Court draft ruling overturning Roe v. Wade shows in chilling detail just how autocratic, just how oppressive, just how misogynist the current Supreme Court has become.  And it was the Court’s latest 98 page screed against human rights that motivated me to write this letter.  My party should be up in arms.  Instead, my party, the party of principle, the party of freedom, chooses to focus on anything, literally anything else.

In the Libertarian Response to the State of the Union, which omitted any words supporting reproductive freedom LNC Chair Whitney Bilyeu spoke of the “heavy hand of government”, she spoke of “the use of force, coercion and theft to control and manipulate us, turning us against one another” and there is no better example of this than the oppressive laws being passed in state after state offering rewards to Americans who turn in doctors and pregnant women who will be jailed for using or providing this basic essential medical service.  These laws will not affect the rich, or the well connected, just poor desperate women who are harassed and harangued at the entrances to women’s health clinics.  And yet, not one word.  Not one word in your latest missive bemoaning the Federal Reserve.  Or the one before that where somehow we are concerned about Disney’s fight with the government of Florida?  Both parties to this kerfuffle have all the resources they need to solve it without our help, certainly more resources than the poor women of this country, who will be forced to bring every pregnancy to term.

I wrote to the communications department on September 10, 2021 in response to the press release September titled “Libertarian Party Reaction to Biden’s Six Point COVID-19 Mitigation Plan”.  Therein was stated “However, what is not up for debate is the right of bodily autonomy”.  Really?  It’s not like pregnancy is contagious, but if the ugly attacks on procreation-related bodily autonomy continue, terminating a pregnancy could well be deadly.  And yet, not a word.  So, I emailed this:  <<As a lifelong member of the Libertarian Party, I am writing to tell you how disappointing this message is.  If only my party could summon up this sort of passion and outrage over the attacks on reproductive rights as you do on opposing public health initiatives, I would be proud.>>.  The response was:  <<I assume you’re referring to the Texas abortion law that went into effect this month. Typically we limit our responses to actions by the Federal government, as there is too much going on in the fifty states for our limited staff to address. However, we are currently adding staff and building out our communications department, so we are optimistic that the situation will change in the near future.>>.  A Federal Government issue?  No.  A human rights issue.  A bodily autonomy issue that twenty-six state governments are energetically destroying.

I wrote to lphq (LP Headquarters) again in October in response to the Anti Mandate Ad.  I quoted the Ad “We will not leave the American people with nowhere to turn”, to which I added “but you will leave Texan women with nowhere to run.  My party should be focusing on Reproductive rights, not this nasty attack on our President.”

Then in February, when I received the Job Notification for Development Director, I wrote “Gosh, I hope they care more about reproductive freedom than some cotton mask on their face.”

So, you see, I have been trying to get my party to support reproductive choice unequivocally, strongly and without reservation for several months.  And I have not, in past years (again, I joined the Libertarian Party in 1976) criticized my party’s positions.  I like to say we are pro-choice on everything, but the focus of the Libertarian’s harsh criticism in the light of recent events has NOT been on protecting this fundamental human right.  You don’t even mention it.  

In the Party Platform, we state:

1.5 Abortion

Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.

And honestly, that’s a little mealy-mouthed as well.  It’s not a sensitive issue.  It is an equality issue – this plank ignores the fact that women, and not men, are being forced against their will to support fetal life.  Yes, the government should stay out of the matter, but right now, they are gleefully wading in like jack booted thugs.  The Libertarian Party must take a strong pro-choice position  –  if not us, then who?  Protecting an individual’s right to choose whether or not to procreate is our fundamental duty.  And it’s time we lived up to it.

SOMA VAMP excerpt

…The restaurant is not far from her apartment and while walking she muses about “The Realtors”.  They are like a scary girl gang; travelling in packs, conspiring to come up with cutesy names for every neighborhood.  In this case, they adopted a New York City naming convention for this neighborhood in the seedy section of San Francisco.  If Manhattan can have South of Houston (SOHO), then San Francisco can have South of Market (SOMA), a pretentious name, not at all like the district itself.  It is literally on the wrong side of the tracks, if you consider street cars and cable cars to be the tracks in question.  “Live/Work” is another Realtor Misnomer – there is not enough room for either. … She walks to Got You Beet in about fifteen minutes.  It is a typical San Francisco night, and the cool fog-kissed air keeps her from working up a sweat, with the added benefit of fluffing up her hair.  When they made the date, he had promised to wear a green carnation.  A shrewd – if not obvious – move one of her girlfriends had taught her, a safeguard allowing Beulah to turn around and walk out if the guy with the goofy flower is a dud.  Upon entering, she smiles and appraises the spacious vegetarian restaurant, scanning for the bright green flower on some loser’s lapel.  And then she almost gasps aloud.  There, already seated at one of the coveted two tops, was the most handsome man she had ever seen.  There are only five tables -or-two in the family style restaurant, and she is glad he came early, so they could have some privacy.  

Considering the undeniable fact that <oh my Goddess> he is gorgeous, she ponders briefly taking a selfie and IM’ing it immediately to the Women Who Wine.  They would pee themselves.  He is ghostly pale, like LeStat in Interview, and elegant in chiseled black attire.  The collar and cuffs are startlingly white and starched to the thickness of fine stationery.  He had an old fashioned hairstyle, a little long – showing off white blond waves framing a masculine face – not too pretty, not too harsh.  So this guy somehow manages to make a green carnation look svelte.  Wow.  Straightening her shoulders, Beulah insinuates her long legs and swanky coat between the tables, clamping her mouth shut to avoid drooling down the front of her outfit.  He looks up just before she gets to the booth, he has already left room for her to sit down, guilelessly avoiding the awkward scooching coders are known for.  Clearing her throat, she unintentionally warbles:

“Um, Gerard?”

“Beulah?”  He smiles, then says  “It must be you, zere are so few young women attracted to garish green lapel decorations.”

“Yes, it’s me.  I mean, I’m Beulah.  So you must be Gerard, hi.” This cannot be Gerard.  Oh.  Hell.  No.  Angie would have given me a heads up.  There’s gonna be a bait and switch, the real Gerard <fat, balding, Izod shirt in puce> is on his way – this must be Gerard’s gay friend who got here early in order to chaperone.  He is standing up, and <swallow the slobber> he is just the right height.  About six feet tall.  Holy crap.  Mommy, can I lick him?  Hush up Beulah’s Brain.  Wait, that’s not my brain talking….

Telling the Future – Digital Musings

The days run together like negatives in a camera with a broken film winder.   When the photographer had to wait to see the images, paper and silver meshed together in a camera shop, too late to take another shot, but still, so laborious that we put the camera away to experience the sights with our own eyes.  But it’s a soft blur, a Vaseline lens focused on a life well lived.  Suffused with contentment, only occasional flashes of fear of failure pop by to rumble my intestines, I hesitate to say I am as happy as I ever remember being. 

Tonight it’s another tangerine sky for the apple of my eye.  I think about color.  About color and pixels, and trying to explain how every form of display reads the bits and bytes of your image differently.  Navy blue is #00080 and Dark Blue is #0008B.  Seems logical, but then, Royal Blue is #4169E1 – so it’s not like you can guess what shade is spelled how.  Each shade is an embedded universal hexadecimal code, but the ink cartridges and printers and screens interpret them differently – always have, always will, so not the same.  I just read an interview with a guy named Alvey Ray, who coined the phrase “Digital Light”, a second reality where what you thought was a pixel, isn’t.  He is a pioneer in Computer Generated Graphics of all kinds. He said, and I quote:   “the pixel is the product of a two-part process in which an element of some consciously created content is presented of some sort of display.”

I had to read that about three times, then I started thinking that the pigments and oils spread on the original canvas – the sassafras and the ochres, charcoal and lead, these are artificially created colors, too.  You cannot smash a handful of violets and get a teaspoon full of light purple paint.  You cannot grab a handful of cloud, and smack it down on the paper as the puffy white and gray object that floats across the sky.  Primary colors, opaque colors, palettes smeared by the artist, the painter blends them, at first to mimic nature, then to transcend it, to better it by hinting at the flowers within, obliquely implying the sky, making daisies with dabs of yellow and slips of green.

What then is an “original”?  Peripherally, there is all this buzz about NFTs Non Fungible Tokens, which are essentially instances of the item’s first appearance in digital form, all documented and everything.  That’s just so weird, right?  But maybe not.  I spent the afternoon scrapbooking, which leads one to lofty thoughts, all those photos not scanned in, all those memories, so fragile – especially grandparents and great grandparents – who besides me has those?  And I have WAY too many binders, looking back now wondering what I was commemorating, and for whom.  Who would ever flip through the carefully curated pages again?  Poof there goes the contentment bubble, I am back to wondering what it all means…

A secret fear

Today, October 24th, is my big brother Chris’ birthday, he would have been sixty five years old today. I wrote this short memoir in 2017, it was published at Reedsy.com in February of 2020. In celebration of this wonderful man who swirled up to the heavens in July of 2010, here is “A Secret Fear”:

My late brother Chris and I were having a conversation one of those many times at the end of the day when he needed a toke.  I would light up the joint, hold it to his lips, then pull it away after he inhaled.  He would hold onto the smoke for a minute, exhale, then take a second, then a third.  I’d puff on it sometimes, but home was twenty to forty minutes away by car.  He lived up in the Oakland Hills, and I had to get back to San Francisco.  Nowadays, you can count on an hour or more in travel time anytime you have to cross the Bay.

I don’t know how he persevered with such kindness and grace.  He was the best one of us three, a healthy normal boy until the accident that left him a quadriplegic at fourteen.  We passed the time with gallows humor.  

I’d say “Hey you, here’s the good news, at least you’re not a blind quadriplegic – that would be worse.”  And Chris would say “I feel lucky, oh so lucky.” and we’d snort-laugh. 

With the award he won against PG&E in the lawsuit over the fall, he bought a house and moved up the hill with a live-in attendant.  Eventually, my mother and stepfather moved into his big house after selling their bungalow down the hill for a profit.  They built in an artist’s studio, a formal dining room, and separate quarters with the proceeds.  It was a symbiotic arrangement, they relied on each other.  It worked because Chris was so easy to get along with.

Here’s what I know now that I didn’t know before:  I was The Normal One.  I stayed in school, did my homework, did my chores, went to college on scholarship, earned a Master’s degree, worked in banking, made a good living, married well.

“Third time’s the charm, man.  Mom finally got it right when I popped out,” I would jokingly brag to my brother.

When we were kids, Chris and I ran away from home together.  The first born, our older sister was an emotional maelstrom of destruction.  She would hit us until we bruised.  The family was always walking oh so carefully on the shattered glass of the broken trusts she never apologized for.  Being only five and seven years old, we managed to trudge the few miles to Grandma Benjamin’s house.  She of course finked us out to Mom, who was frantic.  For a little while, Valerie withheld her blows, but never really stopped. 

When I was twelve, Chris was severely disabled, needing attendant care every day, a tough responsibility to put on a kid, but (there will always be a psychic but in this story) I loved him and we had this mutual disregard for our older sister and super corny jokes we’d tell each other and snicker over as I was rolling him over and changing the linens on his special medical bed.

I distinctly remember this conversation, one of those nights when there was nothing on TV, we chatted about this and that while I fished out the roach clip and we finished that joint getting more and more real as the Zig Zag paper curled brown around the edges.  I had killed a spider in his bathroom earlier and we were parsing the finer points of just where such a mighty huntress should carve her notches, when he asked, all serious, 

“So Catherine, what are you afraid of?” 

“Being average” I declared.

“No, REALLY afraid of?  I know it’s not spiders”, he asked, then he slid into patiently waiting mode while I squirmed.

“Really, really, deep down”?

“Yes.”

“My own anger.”

“Now that is truthful, how come?”

“It’s poisonous Chris, I’ll slice and dice your heart and hand it back to you all fricasseed.  My anger could burn bridges, decimate towns, ground planes, trains and automobiles.  I think it’s why my tummy is so upset all the time, all the anger I’ve swallowed, ‘ya know, it burns.”

He nodded sagely and reassured me that I could never do or say anything that would keep him from loving his little sister.

He’s been gone nearly ten years and what I know now that I didn’t know then is how much insanity is inheritable. 

If two suicides in a three-son family isn’t proof of bat shit crazy, I don’t know what is.  Grandpa Benjamin killed himself at 54 years old, July 5th, 1952.  His brother Lawrence had done the same six years earlier on June 20th 1946.  They both fought in both World Wars.  Imagine fighting in The Great War, the War to End All Wars, it was called back then, only to find yourself re-enlisting for the SECOND World War.  Great Uncle Lawrence was a soldier all his adult life and survived less than a year after his honorable discharge.  Grandpa Benjamin was an undiagnosed manic depressive who inherited the straight razor that Lawrence had used to slit his throat.  He then proceeded to abandon all four of his children and his wife to attend Clemson University.  He had a fresh GED diploma, and with nary a thought for his family, proceeded to lie to the local paper about how he was interested in meeting the “pretty ladies”.  He finished one semester, then went missing.  After seven days of searching, their oldest freshman ever was discovered in the woods, throat slashed, straight razor still in the grip of his right hand.  The same one.  I know that because he bragged about having it to a roommate in the men’s dormitory, and that guy was interviewed.

Of course, I didn’t know all of this back then, neither did Chris because nobody talked about mental illness, the VA did not acknowledge PTSD as a condition and the burden and the blame was laid upon my grandmother an underpaid Registered Nurse, a healer who in the end couldn’t heal her husband.  I am angry and I am afraid of being too angry – how far is homicide from suicide?  And how far is one woman’s angry outburst from her being hauled off to the Looney Bin? 

Us Benjamin women, I suppose, need a calm counterbalance to our too-easily wounded souls.  We cope, we love with reservations, jump in when the whole shimmy shimmy ko ko pop, devil-may-care dances come along, and we spin, sweat and forget.  But the devil does care, and he takes our men to hell after first driving them crazy. 

We were the East and West Wind

June 14th, 1990: Thursday evening in the front room, alone. Where does one begin to tell of the end of a journey? Janet Ryan, my friend Janet Ryan (I still can’t believe it) died early Saturday morning. It’s Thursday now, hardly bother with tissues anymore. Janet was an instigator. So am I. The East and the West Wind, we partied like there was no tomorrow. We scared my future husband whenever we went out together. I loved Janet Ryan – she lived life full out, really FULL OUT. When she died, we were thirty-three years old and still thick as thieves.

We were hanging out in the spring of 1982 when we decided we’d had enough of searching for “company” in dive bars and workplaces. We were scraping by at that time, twenty somethings with average salaries, and I remember she brought an entire clam and garlic pizza into a movie theater under her coat so we would have something awesome to eat. Man, I hope she burned that coat.

During that summer, we pooled our resources and wrote a personals ad. Gosh we were so broke, we didn’t even run two of them in the newspaper. Janet was a green-eyed brunette of petite and athletic build. I was a 5’ 5” blonde with hazel eyes, and a bodacious figure. We rented a P. O. box and planned to pick up the letters, read them together, and split those boys 50/50. I had just finished reading “A Woman of Substance” by Barbara Taylor Bradford, so we played off of that theme. It ran for a week in July 1982 in San Francisco’s local free paper, the Bay Guardian:
ATTENTION
All You Young Men of Substance
I am a young woman of 23 years, average height, nice build, and pleasing to look at. I am presently preparing to descend upon graduate school with self-assuredness and ambition. I am an optimist, affectionate, and have an unrelenting zest for life. I enjoy people, travel, music of all kinds, dancing, passion and especially laughing. I seek a substantive confirmed heterosexual male with similar outlook to enhance my life. Picture appreciated, money and good looks exalted.

Several letters arrived, I dated three guys named Jeff and one named Aaron. One of the three Jeffs hung in there, and in November of 1984, I married him. Janet had the ad done up in calligraphy as our wedding present, and without rancor, pointed out that from this ad, I found a mate, and she got chopped liver. One of her “young men of substance” came for his blind date to Liverpool Lil’s, where Janet worked as a cocktail waitress. After her shift, we all four hung out in his “love van”. Amused by the mirrored ceiling of the van, the carpeted floors, the platform bed – Jeff and I suggested a caption for the mirror: “Caution: objects in this mirror are larger than they appear”. Janet told us to cut it out, but it was too late. Mr. Love Van did not call her back.

Janet Ryan inherited my job as apartment manager and transformed the complimentary studio apartment into a Love Den of her own with Christmas lights that blinked like an airport landing strip around the edges of the waterbed. I think it was after she moved in 1986 that she proclaimed a new sexual orientation, pointing out that bisexuality opened up the other half of humanity for ficking, and I was stuck in Hetero Land. Mathematically unassailable.

Sunday June 15th, 1990, 5 o’clock: The “gathering” at Janet’s apartment where Clan Ryan was staying. Norah Ryan had four sons and a daughter. Michael, Patrick, Robert, John, and Janet. It is a seldom mentioned thing that brushes with mortality make mourners horny. Western civilization is so fucked up with their fear of death, their fear of raw sexuality, and their refusal to acknowledge the dual intensity of both. I remember being puzzled by a strange lust in my heart for one of her brothers, I mean he looked SO much like her. Patrick and I both wished that Janet was here to laugh at us both, got drunk with the family and missed her together. An Irish wake with cremains in a box. We told Janet stories to peals of raucous laughter punctuated with silences. We found out that night that Janet had scaled the tower of the Golden Gate bridge with a climber friend not once, not twice, but three times, all after midnight, so they wouldn’t be seen by the cops, and subsequently arrested. Honestly, I had no idea she had done that, apparently, neither did her mom. Makes you wonder, golly – if she survived that, how could she die in a fall from the fire escape? Steve, the climber, went back up a few weeks later, and scattered her ashes over the Bay.

There was very little left unresolved when Janet died. I’m not so sure that was due to her being “ready to move on” and tying up loose ends. It is just as likely due to Janet’s openness. She didn’t keep things inside, and she always kept in touch. Laura, her girlfriend at the time, and I had found Janet’s stash of one-hit-shit in her apartment and we smoked it in the backyard of this sprawling home in Lafayette where her Celebration of Life was held the following week. I had no idea how strong that dope was, laid down because I could not move my limbs, watched the clouds, and heard, I HEARD Janet laughing – the skies honoring her blithe spirit.

The Never Camper – A memory piece

I was never ashamed to curl up in Mom’s lap.  Even when I reached my full height of 5 feet 5 ½ inches.  She still stroked my hair with my head in her lap.  I could always count on that.  She and her second husband had a TV in their bedroom, and they went to sleep every night with the dulcet tones of Johnny Carson laughing about beaming from beautiful downtown Burbank.     

She wrote in her bedside diary that upon her death, we were instructed to destroy that diary, so we did.  Mom must have known that the anger she was venting in that last bedside journal was not the real essence.  I wish I had the rest of her writings – they wound up in the hands of my stepfather, who has isolated himself from a world he fears.  Though usually I’m not a material girl, I tend to hoard memories and photographs not valuables.  There is this memento that I would be bereft to lose – her graduation pen, black tip, gold barrel.  Engraved on the top piece that clicks into place both fore and aft is my mother’s chosen name:  TERA.  It came in a velveteen-lined case from the Cross Pen company.  It has a twin that twists to open – that ballpoint pen is for the keeping of accounts.  The Writer’s Pen has a felt tip.  It feels right in my hand, as I write about my aversion to camping.  Mom was so shocked when I stated loudly and dramatically that I hated camping.  As a matter of fact, I went down on one knee, shook my fist at the air and proclaimed in my best Scarlett O’Hara that “I will nevah go campin’ agin!”  The tent was a canvas monstrosity that you had to zip all the way up and all the way down every time you entered.  And no matter how thick the sleeping bags were, the ground was still cold and hard in these makeshift beds.  Couldn’t my parents see that these nice people in Yosemite Valley had built hotels and motels and cabins nearby just so we did not have to build them ourselves?  It was a fifteen-minute drive to the Oakland Redwoods from our house if you wanted to commune with nature, they had even gotten married in the Redwood Bowl, with peace pipes and organic bulgur salads, and music under the trees, and hadn’t they gotten over that phase yet?  

Many many years later, I photo safaried in Africa.  There, we dwelt in Canvas Villas with running water, copper bathtubs, verandas, indoor and outdoor showers, stationery to write home with, desks and couches, hot water for bush tea, fresh towels folded in the shapes of elephants.  No phones, no internet, that was ok – our wakeup call was one of the guides standing outside the steps up to our front cloth door – saying “knock knock” – not actually knocking of course, because the door was not made of wood, just saying “knock knock” until we mumbled back.  Every month, at least once, I want to go back to Botswana so much it aches.  I think, though, that my mother would have said that I did love camping after all, and laughed and laughed and laughed.

The Legend of Kapo

May 1, 1850

Dearest Sister Annie,

I am writing to you from Kona Hawaii on my third week as governess to her Highness Emma Rooke, whom most people call Emmalani.

She walks timidly on the land, almost on tip toes hips swaying gently.   I have never seen Emmalani run, at least not on land.  She skims from her beach chair to the ocean water, slides in, and then she is simply grace incarnate.  Clean even strokes, and at last in the waves, without hesitation she covers miles swiftly and surely.  As governess, I remain on the beach, where the thought the idea of me rescuing my ward is laughable at best.  I leave heavy footprints, each toe discernable in the concave shallows, but in spite of walking right behind her, I see no trace of Emmalani’s passing.  To my thinking, the Mermaids are a Western invention akin to Centaurs of Greek myth.  Lost fishermen and missing sailors gave rise to half human creatures and sea goddesses.  Here in Hawaii, each family honors simpatico creatures, their aumakua.  These beings are not half human, half animal, stuck in between species.  They know they can transform.  I myself have witnessed the elders standing in the waves close to shore and CALLING to their aumakua, chanting in their musical way, raising their arms, an outstretched welcome, and Annie, I tell you, the sharks COME.  I do apologize for the capital letters, but pray you understand that I use them only for emphasis.  You have often inquired as to the native peoples here, especially as regards their traditional beliefs.

As I write this, I have not spotted my ward for quite some time, and am starting to worry.  It is hard to convey how at home Emmalani is in the ocean.  Annie, the water is warm here, bathwater warm, that temperature after the kettle has been emptied, and it is the second child’s turn to bathe.  Neither England nor New England have anything like it.

Thanks be to God, Emmalani is appearing in the distance and moving closer.  Her gait belies her reluctance to be back on land, and once again, she tip toes, dripping ocean water to her waiting servant, holding out a dry wrap.

There is a small church here in Kona made entirely of coral.  Emmalani’s family dwells near Waipio Valley which can only be reached on horseback through rivers and mud and sliding rock.  Her retinue are seen joyfully fording the streams loving the challenge of the journey, almost as though the rough passage makes the destination that much more enjoyable.  These Hawaiians are great athletes, though their sports would terrify our polo players.  Years ago, a great slide or Lua was built down the slopes of Mauna Loa (the Long Mountain) all the way to sea.  Daring boys and girls lay down upon heavy boards and rode many kilometers, picking up speed and once in the ocean, they take to riding the waves. 

Honestly, Annie, mermaids are a pale and fragile myth compared to these ocean loving natives.

After a brief delay in writing this letter, I am sitting at a proper writing desk, and intend finishing this letter in time for the next post.  Here it depends entirely upon the seafaring merchant class and the vagaries of tropical weather.  

To continue the adventure, after a blessedly uneventful journey home, we are back at Aina Hau, one of the family residences in Honolulu.  While in Waipio, a few of us gathered around the cooling fire to “talk story” with the elders and they told the most shocking tale!  As I have written before, there are numerous gods and goddesses honored here.  Though many in the royal class have accepted our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, some still practice the old pagan ways.  Once the widowed Ka’a Hu Manu embraced the true God, all the ali’i were put under the tutelage of Protestant clergy.  It is a long and complicated story, but suffice to say, this evening was one of myth and legend, thrilling in its way.

On the island of Hawai’i, there is an active volcano which one can visit and see molten lava up close.  It is like seeing God at his most awe inspiring to witness the creation of new land, Annie, reminiscent of those days when we saw God in the clouds as we laid on the grass in our favorite meadow.  Like when we saw the face of God in the tornado, for is He not gentle and good, and angry and powerful?  But here, the Hawaiians, in their oral traditions and chants credit the goddess Pele with bringing the heat and energy of the Earth’s very core to the surface.  Remember in history class, where we learned of the terrible fate of Pompeii?  How Mount Vesuvius showed no mercy those thousands of years ago?  We have always been able to love the God of the Old Testament, and to accept the love of Jesus as true gospel, while treating some of the stories as parables.

At the Talk Story, I learned that their goddess Pele had sisters, one of whom was called Kapo. This goddess had a most unusual talent.  I am struggling to convey what I heard at that meeting in Waipio for it involves a woman’s’ private parts.  I shall forge ahead and relay that in this story, Kapo’s lady parts were, shall we say, detachable.  There are wild boars in the island, another animal that transforms between human and beast.  They call this the Pig God.  This Pig god is possessed of an insatiable lust, and Kapo, tiring of the constant pursuit, and declaring “is this what you want?”, detaches her lady part, throws it up into a tree, goes about her visits and errands, only to retrieve it later when the Pig God has finished his business.

I know you must be blushing fiercely, and I tell you Annie, it was all I could do to keep from covering my ears.

I believe the story arose from the sight of a lava tube, near the volcano, of the red rusty remains of the molten lava passing through – folding redly outward like, well there is no other word for it – labia – such as a midwife would see while assisting in the miracle of birth.  The medical word.  I mean, a perfect likeness, appearing on the floor of this one tunnel along the volcano coast.

Now I must close and beg you my dear sister to speak no more of this.  I give you permission to burn this letter lest I die of embarrassment upon the revealing of it to any but you.

Affectionately,

Your sister Margaret

Dream Threads

In the morning,

the world came rushing in through my ears,

a taste of something toasting in the kitchen invaded my mouth,

sunlight from the hallway accosted my eyes

and the dream shredded

But I want to hang on,

so I tease out the threads

I was walking in a bubble

Everyone else was walking in a bubble

some in pairs

The shimmering bubble lifting magically

off the sidewalk

with each step

Germ bubbles

or snow globes?

Is that how we cope

or is that how we give up hope?

Hey Hey Hee Hee get offa my cloud

Are they permeable?

Are they peaceable?

Are they permanent?

Without the flakes or glitter

Is it a flight of fancy

or a glimpse of our socially distanced future?

I’d rather sleep

than take a peep

at this dystopian dreamscape

where everyone is allowed to be self-involved,

encouraged even

by their seldom shared shimmering enclosures.

Mom

Mom

just a good listener

STRONG

I can drink of my mother’s contentment, sometimes

And cry for her and for her mother that Life rewarded their efforts with a deeper understanding of hardship

Love shouts from her eyes

Finally I’m beginning to see her as much like me

Fiercely protective of her kin

An admirable adversary

With a steel spine

But her love is golden

Refreshing, essential, everlasting

Batting off flies with wings made of words

The bottom line is Scary Smart Chicks (SSC) should not be expected to go through life sober.  I try doing a data dump in the hopes of allaying the inability to sleep.  Maybe if I write down all the random thoughts pinging around in my brain, I shall thus conquer insomnia.  So, here are the rantings of a mad woman. 

Nights like this I need Brain Caulk – vodka, Valium, wine, Xanax – at the end of your tether, you reach for the end of the alphabet.  Gaslighted and ridiculed for being right, I need chemical assistance to tamp down the inner homicidal maniac.  Goddess damned MS Word just capitalized Maniac for me – who the hell do they think they are?  How much did they pay for their poetic license and who was the corrupt issuing agency?  Is fear of normalcy treatable with an ineffectual writing career?  And who, if not me, can resist the call of vicissitude?

Just a couple of puffs of the swirling soothing smoke, a couple of sips of fine Alambic brandy and I won’t have to fight, I could let it win.  Then sleep, satiated for a time.

Damn eyelids keep popping open.  Thoughts rush ahead of pen – at least this old school approach – putting pen to paper – slows the words down.  Honestly, I can feel them, the words, crowding out the occasional cloud of calm as they collide in contradictory arguments.  I feel worn ruts in the grey matter of my brain where “you will never amount to anything” and other echoes from childhood go claptrapping along deeply incised wounds.  I try batting off flies with wings made of words.

         “I am loved”

         “I am strong” Flutter byes oft silently repeated, lessening the harmful old patterns, like sticker weeds they have no permanent solution.