Word Winding

attempting to spin cacophony into sanity

Archive for the category “Privilege and the Isms”

Three ships passing

We are in historically epic transitional times, of that I am certain. Adolescence is the most apt (non-profane) one-word description of society today. We’ve picked at our blemishes and now they are rallying, marching from cheek to chin. Red and raging now, they will fade, in time, and leave scars.

Three spheres are going to slide past one another in space tomorrow. This celestial shuffleboard is unremarkable when viewed from anywhere but here.

Here it will induce unsettled fascination with mild to moderate traces of apocalyptica. Knee-deep in cultural voice cracking, now feeble, now gravelly, we struggle to plot humanity’s adulthood from the confines of our short lifespans and unstable hormones.

What is one dust mote of a human being in all of time and space?

Tomorrow I bear witness to the fleetingly profound impact one dust mote of a moon has on all life in the known universe.

It is absolutely true that any object can banish light. And it is equally true that light will return.

Through our growing pains we develop tremendous power to wield on behalf of one another and this planet. May our skin soften and crease into wrinkles of love and laughter. May our voices find resonance. May we realize that our actions have consequences; may we draw from our diverse strengths to make wise and thoughtful choices. May our species find our way back home, newly minted adults, to say “thanks, mom, for everything. Sorry I took you for granted for so long.”

I sometimes feel despair and loss when looking at the night sky from the city or suburbs. I crave the complexity of stars that my bones know is my birthright, that I have yet to see in unadulterated glory. Lately, however, I find sustenance in this aching discrepancy.

You see, the stars are always there. Pollution and city lights and clouds and simple daylight can’t do a damned thing to stop the rest of our universe from gleaming at me… The only effect they can have is on my ability to See. What. Is.

It’s time to stop squandering potential and grow the fuck up. May this momentary alignment of sun, moon, and planet serve as a compass, to help steer humanity through the darkness, toward the stars.

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Holding Space

It’s not either-or.

We can extend ourselves to understand rather than demonize those who voted another way. We can search for connection to, for common ground with, for a way forward that is more than us vs. them.

We can do that while we circle around those most affected by this shift in politics: The undocumented. The refugees. The non-Christians. The non-cis. The non-hetero. The water protectors. The victims of abuse and rape. The people of color. The poor. The earth herself, and the plants and animals struggling to survive in our man-altered climate.

I am finding my balance in this image. Those of us with strength and privilege in a ring. Behind us, sheltered by our bodies, concentric rings with the most vulnerable at the center. We are resolute in our stance, and yet also reaching out. Holding space for a shared path.

If you’re looking for guidance, I cannot recommend highly enough the work of two brilliant lights: Starhawk and Veronica Torres.

Starhawk’s world-class novel The Fifth Sacred Thing has become increasingly, alarmingly relevant over the years since its publication. There is also a prequel and a sequel, and many many other offerings by her as well, including an amazing children’s book, The Last Wild Witch. Her thoughts on the election are an antidote to fear and hatred. Visit Starhawk’s website here.

I have the immense pleasure of being Veronica Torres’ friend. Her work as channel for Eloheim and the Council directly influences my ability to stay sane, grounded, and engaged in this crazy world. She has a zillion recordings of channeling sessions, a number of books (my favorite is A Warrior’s Tale), and various other offerings (the Levels of Creating is a revolutionary tool for self-discovery). Her Core Emotion Session is what I would give each and every one of you if I could. Visit Veronica’s website here.

You Are Invited

This election feels different. The stakes feel very, very high. Turning point in history high. Millions of lives hanging in the balance high.

On behalf of the United States of America, I would like to take a moment to issue an open invitation.

There are no better words for it than those crafted by the renowned Starhawk in her increasingly relevant novel The Fifth Sacred Thing:

“There is a place for you at our table, if you will choose to join us.”


My fellow Berning ones and assorted independents, we belong at the table. We are a sizable percentage of this country and have influenced the creation of the most progressive platform a major party in our nation has ever put forth. Cooperation is what this moment in time requires from all of us. Extend a welcoming hand. We may disagree some but I believe we can sit at this table together and discuss it like friends.

Hillary diehards, you belong at the table. Your passion for Ms. Clinton comes from a good place and we look forward to hearing more of what you see in her so we can catch some of your enthusiasm. Refrain from disparaging remarks. Cooperation is what this moment in time requires from all of us. Extend a welcoming hand. We may disagree some but I believe we can sit at this table together and discuss it like friends.

Moderates and apolitical types, you belong at the table. You have untapped potential to breathe fresh air into a heated room. Share your perspective, mediate, find humor in tense moments, and change the subject when truly required. Cooperation is what this moment in time requires from all of us. Extend a welcoming hand. We may disagree some but I believe we can sit at this table together and discuss it like friends.

Conservatives of all stripes, you belong at the table. So many of your values are ours as well. You want to live in happiness and safety. We do, too. You want to be free to make your own way in life. We do, too. Cooperation is what this moment in time requires from all of us. Extend a welcoming hand. We may disagree some but I believe we can sit at this table together and discuss it like friends.

Whether we realize it or not, at some point we chose to consider one another enemies, chose to exaggerate and vilify and blame. We can choose to consider one another friends. Quirky friends, maybe, somewhat embarrassing friends whose eccentric ways leave us shaking our heads, but still friends.

In our splintered factions, we are not just biased against and bewildered by the opposition. We are also ineffective. If we truly want what we say we want from this life, we will sit at the table together. We will refuse to allow anger and fear and greed to run amok and devastate our imperfect but much treasured home. We will extend a welcoming hand even when it seems, as my friend Pythia says, that our only common ground is that we breathe. We will bite our tongues when necessary and speak our truth when necessary. We will disagree respectfully. We will sit and we will invite others to sit at this table and discuss it like friends even when it is not comfortable or convenient because that is the only path that honors the democracy we strive to be.

We the Privileged

Let us acknowledge today of all days that the democracy we set off fireworks to celebrate is still essentially a pipe dream. We the privileged can in no way inhabit a democracy until we fill in our own moats, open our gates, tear off our armor, drag our trunks of gold out into the courtyard and say “here, this wealth that we call ours has always belonged to you.”

I highly recommend you take a moment today to read the full article from which the excerpt below was taken. Consider it your patriotic duty.
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From Letter to my Son (in The Atlantic)

“There is no them without you, and without the right to break you they must necessarily fall from the mountain, lose their divinity, and tumble out of the Dream. And then they would have to determine how to build their suburbs on something other than human bones, how to angle their jails toward something other than a human stockyard, how to erect a democracy independent of cannibalism.”

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“As part of the healing process, please talk about how you processed the events of Ferguson.”

Yeah. Um.

No past tense here yet. Definitely still processing living in a world where this shit happens routinely.

Here’s my typical routine, though:

– learn of atrocious event
– turn inward, grapple with initial shock, find time as soon as possible to just feel this terrible sadness
– turn outward, devour and share whatever quality media comes my way
– feel overwhelmed and turn back in
– stumble across new info or insight and turn back out
– perhaps eventually work my way toward expression in words or music

… And repeat as long as necessary.

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White Timidity

Why is it so difficult for people to talk about race?

Fear. It’s all down to fear.

For those who have racism tattooed prominently across their chests or emblazoned on their white hoods, it is a violent fear-channeled-into-hatred rejection of any who differ from them, usually drilled in from birth. That’s a no-brainer.

For many people, however, it is a different sort of fear altogether. Fear of saying the wrong thing. Fear of attracting negative attention. Fear of being unable to back up statements in the face of opposition. Fear of creating an argument or of offending or alienating others.

All twitchy little fears that pale ludicrously in comparison to the real fears of racism. The life or death fears. Like going along minding your own business only to suddenly find you are the “wrong” color in the wrong place at the wrong time. Where even holding your empty hands up in a globally recognized symbol of surrender may do you no good.

So get over your timidity and talk about it, already.

(Do plenty of reading and listening as well, especially if you are new at this, and do not hesitate to share the words spoken or written by those who know more on the subject than you instead of always coming up with your own from scratch.)

The American Plague

“… the rate of police killings of black Americans is nearly the same as the rate of lynchings in the early decades of the 20th century.”

There have been a number of insightful, outraged, brilliant articles written in Ferguson’s wake. But when I think back on all I have read recently, the quote above looms ominously out in front.

It is grotesque. Go back and read it again. It doesn’t say total murders of black Americans. Not by a long shot. Just those committed by officers of the peace. Are you horrified enough yet?

Getting there, you say?

Well, don’t get comfortable there just yet. Here’s how often those unfathomable deaths occur:

“About twice a week, or every three or four days.”

What. The. Fuck.

Here’s the article. Well worth reading.

Pride

I’m stealing just the first sentence of Victoria’s recent Facebook post because it is perfect:

“Before Pride month is over, I just want to make sure everyone knows that I’m not straight.”

What am I, then?

Because obviously I am married to a man and I love him and we have kids.

Which is kind of like being inadvertently closeted. Because while I am not ashamed of who I am, it just doesn’t come up in conversation now as often as it did in college.

So what am I?

All my life, I have been attracted to individual people.

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(This is from a sticker you can buy here.)

Many would label a statement like this bisexual. Some call it pansexual to make sure all possible gender identifications are included.

Personally, I think it should be everyone’s default assumption about others. Because it sort of covers all the bases.

Not to mention it covers that tricky concept that one is NOT attracted to all members of a particular gender, no matter what one’s declared orientation may be. Put me in a room of 100 people and I’m only going to be even remotely attracted to a handful. Let me actually have a conversation with each of those few and the odds I would even consider a first date with one of them are slim.

Not to mention the additional crucial fact of fidelity. Bi/pansexuality sometimes gets a bad rap because people assume it means you are sleeping with “everyone.” People are entitled to make their own rules about monogamy vs. polygamy, but for me, when I am with someone, I am with them exclusively. That means that since I am married to a man I am indistinguishable from a married straight woman who shares my views on fidelity.

Until I post about it on my blog, that is. Haha.

Beyond

Beyond juries
Beyond bridges
Beyond buses
Beyond laws

Beyond hoodies
Beyond candy
Beyond loud music
Beyond cars

Is a child
Is a child
Is a child
Done no wrong

And a cold
Abomination
With a gun.

Unphotographed Moments – Catchup Round (Days Twenty-Two Through Twenty-Six)

(This post is part of a series for August 2013 entitled “Unphotographed Moments.” Read the intro to the series here.)

Thursday’s Unphotographed Moment:

Without forewarning or fanfare I schlepped my cello over to my beloved friends’ house for a planned gathering, answered queries with a vague “yes, I am going to play something later,” and parked it against a divider wall between living room and kitchen. A few glasses of wine later, my hosts’ curiosity finally got the better of them, and they asked more specifically, what? And when? I love a good surprise, but this was not the time for one, and I awkwardly admitted to having written a piece for solo cello in honor of, in memory of, in mourning for the brilliant light that was their three year old son, diagnosed with JMML a year ago, lost nearly seven months ago, who ought to be turning four years old next week.

I warmed up with a piece I’d been meaning to share with them for awhile: “Mashed Marley,” a Bob Marley medley written by request of one of my students, written around the time they lost their Marley-loving son. A piece easily memorized by proxy during lessons, and quite fun to play, if I do say so myself.

Then my piece. Their piece. Written for their son, and them, and the tremendous jagged boy-shaped hole in their lives. A piece I do not yet have completely memorized, and thus Rapunzel volunteered herself as human music stand. And I began to play. And my music stand began to cry. And it was horrible and lovely and I didn’t do a terrible job, despite the wine.

I know their hearts felt my intent. In the hand clasping, the eye welling, the glistening silence after the last percussive tap on my cello’s resonant surface.

I treasure these friends, who do not need to recapture the momentum of conversation, who can allow a moment to be uncomfortably beautiful and sad, who do not mind the restlessness of my post-performance hands entwining fabric in purposeless loops, like rosary beads or daisy chains.

Friday’s Unphotographed Moment:

Sharing a playground with a horde of teenagers, approximately freshmen in high school. To my surprise, the boys were the most considerate (rebuking “Don’t swear! There’s a little kid over there!”) while the girls were heedless — one even stole the tire swing from Owlet while I was catching a wandering Platypup and declined to see us standing five feet away until I said, “excuse me,” in my best stern mama voice.

Saturday’s Unphotographed Moment:

Tricycling home from a solo-parent dinner out with my little ones, a warm-turning-cool breeze ruffling our hair, a cloud-smeared sunset glossing our cheeks. Feeling the essence of “unphotographed moments” ringing deep within me.

Sunday’s Unphotographed Moments:

Driving a preteen child whose parent is ill to UU. Listening to her bright alto sing to my poopy-fussy Platypup the whole way there. Wanting and not wanting to share my knowledge of our shared experience having a parent with cancer, seeing as mine turned out so devastatingly. Hoping her story is brighter, preparing myself to be a pillar of empathy if it is not.

Taking hopefully our last trip in the Jetta as a family on the way to meet my sister to pick up her car (we are “car-sitting” while she is in Shanghai and lending the Jetta to friends). There is nothing like a car without AC to make you wish you had just stayed home, but getting out into the delicious bay air and promptly to a nearby playground went a long way toward erasing the painful memory of sweltering stop-and-go traffic. As did the sushi we inhaled for dinner before rochambeauing to see who got to drive two exhausted grumpy kids home in the old car and who got to zip off solo in the new car. I won the first round and we tied the next several rounds so I declared myself the winner in light of the increasing impatience to be on the road from the younger set, got only token protest from Thor, and enjoyed a blissful 45-minute silence only slightly tinged with unfamiliar car anxiety.

Monday’s Unphotographed Moments:

Turning on our solar system! Enjoying guilt-free AC, refrigeration, computing, and all the rest, not to mention the singular joy of charging the electric company for supplying them with power. Yes, friends, our meter is running backward.

Admittedly, we did photograph the inauguration of our solar system:

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(Platypup assisted Thor in figuring out which switches needed turning when.)

Bile-inducing shock and disgust upon learning that some white members of my favorite online breastfeeding support group The Leaky Boob were bizarrely opposed to the first annual Black Breastfeeding Week. One member wrote an excellent rebuttal to their bigoted hate-explosion entitled “Dear White Women: Top Five Reasons Why We Need a Black Breastfeeding Week” which I encourage everyone to read.

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Today’s one-shot photo:

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The beginnings of our tomato deluge, accented by our ongoing cucumber onslaught.

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