Sunday, June 28, 2009

Taking to the Streets

As I follow the progress of the election aftermath in Iran in the news, I am moved by the courage of ordinary people who are risking their lives to let the world know that the extremist political Islam taking place in their country is not their choice. As an American, I am put to shame by their protest. They were robbed of their electoral process. They have been disenfranchised. We Americans should have taken to the streets for Al Gore in 2000 when we were robbed of our electoral process. We should have let the world know that the conservative policies taking place in our name were not our choice. We should have taken to the streets in 2004 to show that we did not approve of the Bush Administration’s lies, murder, torture, and bullying. When I read about the young musician who died in the street and whose death immediately swept the world on YouTube, I recalled the students who died at Kent State so many years ago. There was a time when Americans risked their lives to say “This is not our government of choice. This is not our policy of choice.” I, like so many others, have become complacent and do not wish to experience the discomfort, fear, and anger of prison. I do not have the courage to risk my life. I wonder where the threshold lies. The level of injustice, of unhappiness and fury, that finally brings people to the moment of saying, “Enough.” I applaud the people taking to the streets in Iran. Your actions may not make a difference today, or tomorrow, but they will make a difference one day in the future. My heart goes out to you.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Poem for the Day

From Praise by Robert Haas

All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.
The idea, for example, that each particular erases
the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-
faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk
of that black birch is, by his presence,
some tragic falling off from a first world
of undivided light. Or the other notion that,
because there is in this world no one thing
to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,
a word is elegy to what it signifies.
We talked about it late last night and in the voice
of my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tone
almost querulous. After a while I understood that,
talking this way, everything dissolves: justice,
pine, hair, woman, you and I. There was a woman
I made love to and I remembered how, holding
her small shoulders in my hands sometimes,
I felt a violent wonder at her presence
like a thirst for salt, for my childhood river
with its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat,
muddy places where we caught the little orange-silver fish
called pumpkinseed. It hardly had to do with her.
Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances. I must have been the same to her.
But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,
the thing her father said that hurt her, what
she dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

That Bittersweet Moment

My two older children plus my stepson (a bonus!) came home for the high school graduation of my youngest yesterday. It was one of those prefect moments in life, gathering the family, to celebrate the last child becoming an adult. I have often wished that I had known the last time I laundered a diaper or tied a shoe for a child, just so that I could mark the passing. Yesterday, I knew it was the last time any of my children would be on the high school campus as a student. I have been raising children for over 25 years. Sometimes, when I expressed my frustration at not having time to write to an older and wiser writing mother, the other mother would point out that they do grow up eventually and the time comes back. Now I have my time to myself again. In August, the youngest will move away from home. So I wistfully savor the last moments of hearing his footfall in the hallway while at the same time exulting in the impending freedom awaiting me on the other side of August. As I write these words, the washer and dryer hum away laundering the sheets and towels. My stepson, my daughter, and my son and his girlfriend are on the road, returning to their grown-up lives. I so enjoyed spending the last few days with them, cooking more food than we could eat, taking the crew out to the movies, sitting down to dinner together, and watching the siblings joke and tease. Now I am equally enjoying the peaceful moment here with my thoughts, piecing together another byte from life to share. In this bittersweet moment I don’t know whether to laugh in glory to have my own life back or to weep at the loss of my young children as they scatter to their adult lives.

Picture of my three children on graduation day --

Sunday, June 7, 2009


When I was young, I honestly could care less about chocolate. I never understood the attraction. I preferred fruit pies or vanilla ice cream for dessert. A decadent dessert in my book was something RICH, like cheesecake or pound cake (put in a whole pound of butter, yum). Sticky cinnamon rolls. A cheese blintz with blueberries. Lemon cookies. But chocolate? Didn’t do it for me. Then I went through menopause and everything changed. I used to think that what people said about the connection between chocolate cravings and female hormones was a load of you-know-what. News flash: it’s true. With my middle-aged lady hormones, I can’t get enough chocolate. Especially that really dark stuff with the caffeine kick. I have my stash in the pantry and I eat that heavenly 72% cacao every day after lunch to get me through the afternoon. I have to be careful not to eat it after about 1 PM or it keeps me up at night. And I have to be careful not to eat too much of it or I get anxious about my financial situation. No way I can eat it for dinner dessert. But I can eat the more benign stuff whenever. Chocolate chip cookies. Brownies. Cake. I could eat chocolate chip pancakes or muffins for breakfast. Chocolate chip scrambled eggs. For lunch chocolate potato salad. Chocolate macaroons. Chocolate carrot soup. Bring it on. Chocolate lasagna? Why not. I’ve got it bad. All those years of pitying other women who had those chocolate cravings, not quite understanding what it was about. I get it now. If I could sit on the couch all afternoon and watch football and eat trays of dark chocolate brownies without gaining a pound or having a panic attack then I would be in heaven.