Sunday, August 26, 2007

why we do it: for matt

someday, this will be us.

Massachusetts ConCon - Pro-Equality Crowd Erupts as Vote is Announced

The Massachusetts legislature defeats the anti-gay marriage amendment, June 14, 2007

Sunday, August 19, 2007

one for willie



arofa
marge piercy


My little carry-on baggage,
my howler monkey, my grey-
eyed tuxedo of passion,
you want a monogamous relationship
with me. Othello, if you were
big as me you'd have nipped
my head off in a fit.
Gourmet, winebibber, you fancy
a good Bordeaux as much
as schlag, but would rather
be petted than eat.
You play Ivan the Terrible
to guests, you hiss and slap
at them to go away. Only an
occasional lover gains
your tolerance if my smell
rubs off on them and you are
allowed to sleep in the bed.

When I travel you hurtle
about upending rugs.
When I return you run from me.
Not till I climb into bed
are you content and crouch
between my breasts kneading,
a gray and white bundle of purrs.

When I got a kitten a decade
and a half ago, I didn't know
I was being acquired
by such a demanding lover,
such a passionate, jealous,
furry, fussy mate.

one for oscar



cho-cho
marge piercy

At the Animal Disposal League
you reached through the bars
avid to live. Discarded offspring
of Tiger splendor and beige
alley cat, your hunger saved
you, fuzzy and fist-sized.

Now you are sunny, opaque
utterly beyond words, alien
as the dreams of a pine tree.
Sometimes when I look at you
you purr as if stroked.
Outside you turn your head
pretending not to see me
off on business, a rabbit
in the marshgrass, rendezvous
in the briars. In the house
you're a sponge for love,
a recirculating fountain.

Angry, you sulk away under
a bed till dragged out whining,
you permit yourself to be
captured and saved. You blink
then your goldenrod eyes
purr and collapse on your back
with paws up and your snowy
white belly exposed all curls
to the plume of your tail.
Ravish me, you say, with kisses
and tunafish because I know
how to accept pleasure. I am
your happy longhaired
id, taking the moment as I
do your finger in my mouth
without breaking its skin,
or eviscerating it instantly
like a mouse.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

wise up

aimee mann.

found one of my favorite aimee tunes inside this video on you tube.
and the photographs...

lovely.

Friday, August 17, 2007

for j.

the journey
mary oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

fall down seven times, stand up eight

My mom and dad are small town, blue collar kind of people. Absolute salt of the earth. They both grew up in extreme poverty and with less-than-capable parents (I am being kind), but that was pretty much the way it was for anybody living in Shapleigh back in the 1940's. My dad lived on a farm with three older brothers, a younger sister, a father who never spoke, and a mother who was mentally ill and who made it clear from the get-go that my father was the child she would never love. He worked like a dog on that farm from the time he was five years old until he left at eighteen. His saving grace was a sense of humor that he somehow managed to hang onto in spite of an extremely difficult childhood.

My mom lived about three miles away from my dad’s farm in a two room tar-paper shack (literally), no running water, no electricity, a crammed tiny spaced she shared with three sisters and a brother. They were, without question, poorer than dirt. She worshipped her father (and still refers to him as “Daddy”, which I find incredibly sweet), but her mom was prone to disappearing acts, sometimes for weeks at a time, and my mother, being the oldest child, raised her younger siblings pretty much on her own. She didn’t really have a childhood at all...she was sort of an instant adult.

When you ask them how they met, they can't answer because neither of them can remember a time when they didn't know each other. My mother will say that my father was the adolescent brat who teased her endlessly in the way that boys will torture the girls they have crushes on. She endured his little boy antics all through grade school and had an extended break from him when he went off to Sanford High School. Apparently she missed him though, and when she entered the same high school two years later, they started dating. They dated and broke up and dated and broke up and dated and broke up. My mom jokingly says your father was a jerk in high school and most of the time I hated him and my dad will laugh and say you sure chased after me pretty hard for someone who hated me. At some point my father must have stopped being a jerk, and/or my mother finally caught him, because they stopped breaking up and fell madly in love.

My dad often says that the only reason he has a high school diploma is because his teachers just wanted to get him the hell out of that school (apparently, I inherited at least a little of my rabble-rousing free spiritedness from the paternal end of the genetic pool.) He enlisted in the navy immediately after graduating in 1957 and immediately before discovering that he was afflicted with a severe sea-sickness disorder...oops. Two years later my mother graduated and they were married the following September. They spent the next few years living on next-to-nothing navy wages, on the tips my mom made waiting tables at a breakfast diner, and on green stamps that her father would scrape together and send in the mail every month. When the four-year navy hitch was up, they moved back to Shapleigh and eventually I showed up, followed by my sister three years later.

The Huntress family was one of a small group who settled in and essentially founded Shapleigh, and my dad's great, great grandfather managed to squat about 170 acres of land. In the late 60’s, my grandmother decided to split up the land for her children. My three uncles and aunt were each given forty acres. My father was given five, a gesture reflective of my grandmother’s sense of "fairness" and my grandfather's silence and utter inability to stand up to his wife's abuse of their youngest son. (Her life-long hatred of my father was at the core of her mental illness, and another story in and of itself.) I am certain it hurt my father terribly, and I know it made my mother absolutely furious. But they took it on the chin and kept moving forward. In 1970, my parents took out a twenty-five year mortgage and my father rolled up his sleeves and built a small three bedroom ranch with his own hands. And it’s been home ever since.

They’ve been working their asses off their entire lives. My mom worked in an electronics factory for almost forty years, fifteen years of which she worked third shift, living on four or five hours of sleep a day, so that my sister and I would always have someone at the house when we got home from school every day. And probably because they knew they could never afford child care. My father worked every blue collar job imaginable and spent the last twenty-five years working as a parts manager for a Ford dealership that gave him one measly raise in a quarter century.

They’ve never had a savings account, never worked less than 40 hours a week, never traveled, and never, not even for a day, have they done anything remotely extravagant. They are the kind of people who have next-to-nothing and who will happily and with grace give it away if they think you need next-to-nothing more than they do. They are truly generous people. They’ve paid their taxes and contributed to the community they live in, and in spite of them both having what I think were pathetic role models for parents, they have been amazing parents themselves and managed to raise two fairly well adjusted daughters who can’t go home enough to visit them.

They still have struggles...I could write an entire novel about the challenges they’ve faced and rarely have those challenges been small ones. It seems like every day a new one comes knocking at their door. They're retired now but blue-collar jobs don't usually come with pensions, and so they live off social security checks that barely cover expenses. My mom told me yesterday that she’s looking for a part-time job because those little checks just ain’t gonna fill the oil tank this winter. So much for retirement. “Fixed” income is a strange term to me...fixed to do what? Fixed so that you have to choose between heating oil or groceries? ‘Cause that’s what it feels like it’s coming down to for them.

It’s criminal to me that after almost fifty years of working for the “system” they still can’t really retire. They should be able to spend the rest of their lives sitting on the back deck, listening to the birds and watching the grass grow. They’ve sure earned it. When I hear them talk about going back to work I get crazy...I go on these rants and I jump up on my soapbox and yell and scream about how the government has failed them, about how society has failed them. I bitch about Bush and I bitch about insurance companies and I bitch about oil moguls and on and on and on.

And they just kind of look at me, shake their heads. Make a joke about Darlene the Politician and ask me when I’m going to run for governor. And I just look back at them and shake MY head and say why aren’t you more pissed off?

But you know that’s really a silly question. They aren’t pissed off because they’re proud survivors. They come from the kind of hard place I can’t even begin to imagine. They found their way out of that place together, believed in each other, worked harder and with more determination than anyone I’ve ever known. There were hundreds of times in the 50 years they’ve been together when they almost lost it all. When they weren’t sure where the next meal was coming from or how they were going to heat the house or pay the mortgage or fix the broken down car in the driveway. And in recent years, they’ve both looked cancer straight in the eye and said not so fast you son-of-a-bitch and beat it back. They look at what they’ve got...a modest home that’s finally paid for, a house that's surrounded by trees in the yard that my mom’s “daddy” planted for her 2 years before he died. They have two grandkids that live next door and who are completely in love with them and who visit them every day. They have two daughters that adore them. They've got their health. And damn, they’ve SO got each other.

Whenever I'm in tough spot, my father will say Darl, fall down seven times, stand up eight. And when I need some perspective, I always think of that. And of them. Adversity is nothing to my parents. It’s a way of life and they aren't afraid of it, at all. I'm so incredibly proud of them for that. Against seemingly unbeatable odds, they’ve not just survived...they’ve managed, in spite of everything, to live out their values and to be happy. If I have any strength within me, any kind of resilience at all, I don’t have to look too far to figure out where it comes from.

I just go to that little five acre lot in Shapleigh.

I just go home.


Monday, August 13, 2007

maia

aw dr. mchottie.
thanks for the new CD.
she's just...divine.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

for michael

for you...the dead parrot sketch.
who loves you baby?

oh monty

thanks to ms. audrey, for reminding how much i love monty python.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is THE funniest parody in film history. Hands down. The Knights Who Say Ni?


oh gawd, i'm bustin' a gut just thinking about it.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

flaws and all

"Let's trade in all our judging for appreciating. Let's lay down our righteousness and just be together." Ram Dass

It’s amazing how we react to the troubles and woes of the people around us. Put a little drama in your life and you are given a very valuable lesson about the kind of people you want sitting at your kitchen table. It seems to me there are three kinds of people that show up at various points of your life, and you can easily identify them when the proverbial chips are down.

There are those who just want to be around you when you’re riding high, in the driver’s seat, shit together, in the spotlight, numero uno, ever-so-popular, working the crowd and pleasing everybody. And as soon as you stumble, they disappear like yesterday's news. Pardon the expression, but I like to call them star fuckers. These people are not your friends and never will be.

Then there are those who only show up when the shit that was together has now hit the fan, so to speak. This group is actually divided into two subsets. The first subset are those who jump right in, offer advice, try to save you from your own bad self, make themselves indispensable to you, but then strangely disappear as soon as you’re happy again. I haven’t quite figured them out yet, except to say that maybe they prefer being in the middle of someone else’s chaos so they don’t have to deal with their own. And then become resentful when you find your way out.

The second subset are those who hang around just to watch you struggle. They sniff out the drama and think it's a spectator sport. And then they talk about it with anyone who will listen. You are the train-wreck-of-the-week, and they think it's better than color TV. They eat it up like chocolate and if you look closely enough you'll notice they are almost always smirking. I call them drama whores, and along with the first subset, I simply have no use for them.

Finally, there are those who never leave you...they love you when you’re up, they love you when you’re down. They just appreciate the fact that you’re walking on a path next to them, and you know you're safe, always, to be exactly who you need to be exactly when you need to be it. These people are the keepers. The ones you need to hold on tight to and never let go of, no matter what. You want them at your kitchen table, every chance you get. Savor them. They are angels.

I’ve had some experience with all three types, particularly in the last seven or eight months. It would not be an overstatement to say that during that time it’s been a highly emotional walk around the block for me. And I’m happy to say, I’ve been mostly blessed to be surrounded by extraordinarily kind and compassionate people. Some are friends I’ve known for years. Some used to live just on the edge of my life and then found their way inside it. And some I did not know even existed at all before this recent journey began.

Whether I’ve needed a strong cup of coffee, a cold beer, a pillow and a place to sleep, a laugh, a cry, a hot meal, a hug, a quiet conversation, or just an out-and-out wild and crazy roller coaster ride of a night, I have rarely gone without, and most times I haven't even had to ask. It’s just been there when I've needed it. No judgments handed down. No gossip whispered. No commentary on what I could do differently or better. Just something unspoken that tells me I am accepted and loved, bumps and bruises and flaws and all.

As far as the rest of them go, it’s been a wonderful time to do some metaphoric weeding of my life’s little garden. It's a gift, to be lost at sea, and then to find your way back to shore. It's a gift to have your most imperfect self in plain view. You learn so much about humanity and compassion and authenticity and friendship.

In ancient Chinese art, the greatest painters always included a deliberate flaw in their work to illustrate, in some subtle way, that human creation is never perfect. I like that, very much. The people I love the most are those who aren’t afraid to show their flaws, and who aren’t afraid of mine. Who embrace those imperfections, and maybe even celebrate them. Who recognize my inner demons and accept them just as much as my better angels.

So yeah, I pay attention to the way people behave when the chips are down, whether it's my own drama or someone else's. It's a remarkable way to figure out what someone's really truly made of. The thing is, I’ve got no time in my life for people who just watch someone digging themselves out of a tough spot and who shake their heads with a tsk tsk tsk this isn’t the way you get out of that mess and you should have never put yourself there in the first place and if you just behaved more like ME...

Ehhh.

I want to fill the spaces in my life with the kind of people who don’t ask questions about how someone got in the spot in the first place or why they’re digging instead of climbing. They just immediately grab a shovel and start to help because hey, that's what you do for someone who's in trouble. They do it without judgment, without opinion, without expectation, understanding that we all find our way out of the tough spots, we all find our salvation, and we all, ultimately, find our joy, in our own unique and beautiful ways.




amy winehouse

with tongue firmly planted in cheek, i say no, no, no:

http://www.youtube.com/watch




Thursday, August 02, 2007

5 years...for k & j, with love

Touched by An Angel
by Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.