Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mom's Declaration

“I’m a Republican now!” my mother gushed excitedly over the phone as I gasped silently in horror. My mother: the one who never wanted to “talk about it” when politics were brought up; who never chose a side; who never had an opinion on such things. Here she was, squeaking out her right-wing joy in four little words, “I’m a Republican now.”
This is how I see it: someone has been niggling in her ear. Let me tell you a little something about my mother. She lives on an extremely fixed budget as a disabled elderly woman with several people who pop in on her daily to clean her house, fix her meals, check her meds, and make sure that she has not tripped on her oxygen cord and strangled herself.  The Republican vote has cut her food allotment, has variously made cuts in her meds and in her medical treatment allowances. They’re not done yet. She has no business being a Republican.
When Mom was fourteen years old, she ran away from home and found herself working as a “card girl” in a casino somewhere in Chicago. During the time she was away from home she was raped by a policeman in the backseat of a police car. The Republican Party would have us believe that the officer had done nothing wrong and that she had brought this upon herself by running away from home. It’s too bad that her body didn’t “shut itself down” in order to avoid the rape. Since it didn’t, does that make it consensual? She has no business being a Republican.
Actually, Mom doesn’t dwell in the realm of any party, even with her most recent proclamation. She leans toward a more independent way of thinking, but would rather not deal with any of it at all. I am truly shocked that she would “turn” one way or the other, but I would rather see her side with a Party or a philosophy that would benefit her, not bite her in the hand. She has always been an independent person. I would never classify her with the “barefoot and pregnant” thinkers, or with those who would have a woman remain completely at home to “take care of the kids, clean the house, and do the cooking” (although she was a most excellent cook and pastry guru). She was an “Enjoli” kind of gal; she brought home the bacon (and fried it), and took care of what needed to be taken care of in her life. During her marriage with Dad, she worked as a cook in a rather posh cafĂ© near Hollywood, went to Mount Sac college for art history, baked cakes on commission, and took care of her family. She worked full time while caring for her father in the last months of his life. She worked herself into a frenzy, ending up disabled. Her lot would be to care more for the working class in America than giving any thought at all to the upper crust wannabes in politics. She has no business being a Republican.
She is a religious woman, but not so far-flung in her beliefs that she has no tolerance for anyone else. After all, her daughter, (your’s truly), has been everything BUT a Christian since 2001. She was brought up without color lines, without those little boxes that proclaim one group or person as less than any other group or person. She has always stood by the “All men are created equal” philosophy. Her favorite President is Lincoln, as is evidenced by the “Gettysburg Address” poster she created as a teen and has framed in a gold frame hanging above her mantle today.  She loves people. She loves God. She loves. She IS love. And she has no place in a Republican Party world.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Patrick, Pagans, and My Irish Ancestors

Here we are again celebrating the Irish. ...and that's exactly what we do here in America on St. Patrick's Day: We celebrate the Irish. We drink. We wear green. We hunt for four-leaf clovers under the snow. Yet, there is a lot of ignorance and misinformation out there about what St. Patrick's Day really is.

St. Patrick was a Romano-British lad that converted to the Christianity of his Roman dad, and purportedly "drove the snakes" out of Ireland. Of course, the "snakes" (and "toads") were a symbol for the Pagans and Druids in Ireland. There wasn't much mention of him until the 17th century when he and his story were given a special holiday by the church. He was never canonized; so in all actuality, he's just Patrick (sans the St.). There really are no bold, broad facts that prove the myth of the expulsion of the Druids and Pagans. In fact, as in most conversion history, it is far more likely that the Druids and Pagans were not driven out, but in fact, were slowly absorbed into a faith that adopted their rites and rituals in order to convert them.

As a Pagan, I do not feel the need to spit upon the holiday. American Irish can attest to the history in this country of the treatment of the Irish. During the 19th century, when large numbers of Irish were emigrating to the United States, most of them were treated poorly, due, in large part, to the great multitude of Irish Catholics (although my personal Irish ancestors were not Catholic). They were treated as servants and looked upon as second-rate humans. "No Irish Need Apply" became a slogan on the East coast. Therefore, in honor of my Irish-American immigrant ancestors, I celebrate this day. I will wear green, not because the shamrock is green and symbolizes the holy trinity, but because Ireland is green. I will remember Eliza Adams who came to America with her bastard son, William, to escape both the famine and the stigma of being an unwed mother. I will celebrate John Morrow, who not only came to America to be treated poorly, but fought at Gettysburg and survived. I will celebrate William and Isabella McElroy who brought all thirteen of their children to America to escape poverty in Ireland.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Navigable Sea

In a dream, I stand on the edge of the world looking out to the sea. The curve of the earth, ever so gentle on the horizon, shines placidly under the sun. I see myself here. I am the water and the wind. I am conformed only temporarily as a ship passes contentedly across my skin; but once it has gone, I return to my peaceful sameness. Now and again, I am enraged, throwing about those ships that sail upon me. Should a ship weather my storm, it continues on its way, thankful for another chance at life. But, should a ship not stand against my fury, it sinks to my depths, to remain within me forever, a memory. In my dream, I turn and stand at the other end of the world looking out onto a frozen ocean, cold and formidable. It is impassible, this water, to all but the strongest ships. Yet, even the strongest must eventually give up the fight to navigate through the ice, and it remains stranded and abandoned, left to mar the surface of what once was water. Shivering, I turn back to the peaceful sea with greater understanding. People come into my life, each one navigating the essence of me, each one braving the wind and the waves. It is better for me to remain placid, lest, should I cause peril upon one of these, they would sink to the depths of my heart, to remain forever within me, a reminder of my storms. I would rather, however, be a sea with the occasional storm, than to be a frozen wasteland, through which no captain can pass; whose forsaken ship remains on the surface, a daily reminder of that which remains hidden to all.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Moving Past Despair

I did not realize how closed up my last marriage had made me. Today I went through and read some of the poetry I had written two years before my divorce and found them to be very dark, melancholy pieces. I hope that I have moved past this. I suppose I probably have to a great extent, since I haven’t written much poetry since then. Here’s this from October of 2007:

What pain to lose love.
Not the act of of losing a loved one
To death or separation,
But the dread—the emptiness, the despair
Of emptying all the love out of the chamber of your heart,
Shutting and locking the door,
And burying the key.
Ask me how it feels to feel nothing.
Test me and see that there is nothing left to give.
It is like the bottom of the sea at its deepest part-
Nothing grows.
Nothing lives.
Nothing ventures.
And light is but an old wives’ tale meant to scare
The ghosts of the deep.

And here, from August 27, 2010--the moment of healing:

I wander out of the desert,
Shielding my eyes to see the clouds on the horizon.
Blessed rain.
Stumbling, I go toward them
Like one mad from the ravages of heat
And wind
And grating sand--
Parched and cracked and red.
How long I had wandered--
and how far
Seeking an oasis of oneness with me--
Yet never finding it.
There is no oasis here.
But there, off in the distance
There are mountains
Filled with dense, heavy, cleansing
Every cell in my body turns toward them
And moves onward.
I feel the first drop
Ever etched in my memory.
It's cool plop on my face
Sends me stumbling backward--
Another comes-then another--
Soon, there is a waterfall from the heavens.
I stand, face upturned
Dancing, dancing
Spinning, jumping, laughing
Revelling in each and every atom of life.
Forgetting about the scorching heat.
Rivers of soft moisture run down my face
Glance off my eyelids
Pour off my chin.
I am liquid.
I am freed.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Trouble at the Dome

I learned this morning that as my son and his girlfriend were doing their bit at the Rally for Life at the Kibbie Dome last night, they were approached by police officers accusing them of smuggling alcohol and drugs into the arena; Jess' girlfriend was even accused of dealing drugs. Both of these kids were clean, and the officers found nothing. However, I'm concerned about what may have happened to cause this investigation.
Shortly before this occurred, the two of them had asked a classmate if they could borrow his phone to call another friend, since they were out of minutes on their own phones. The kid they were going to call is a rather religious boy who does not do drugs or alcohol. The kid who's phone they were borrowing was immediately reprimanded by his Helicopter Mom, who was standing by, and the phone was never borrowed. About an hour later, the kids were approached by the officers.
I spoke to the "senior officer" here in Moscow, a woman who seriously needs a "date", who very rudely informed me that Jess had been seen going into the bathroom with an empty soda bottle and toting a duffle bag; but when he came out, his bottle was full. I was able to talk to another officer, who was on the scene who told me that the report was made by a security officer who allegedly witnessed my son doing this. However, my son tells me that he never carried a duffle bag anywhere on the grounds; and his bottle was neither empty nor refilled during this time. He came home with half of his Dr. Pepper still in the bottle. Jess was approached by the officers while sitting in the stands where a ten year old boy, completely unknown to my son, had placed his backpack on top of my son's coat. This was searched for drugs and alcohol. Both my son's story and that of the officer are cohesive; so I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my son had no duffle on him. The officers found no sign of drugs or alcohol on my son or his girlfriend.
The kid who's phone the two tried to use told the kids that his mother had called the security officer. I am assuming that this is the reason that the "story" came about that Jess had a duffle and an empty bottle. They had to have a reason to search him; and since they had no reason, one had to be invented.
I am incensed that the witch hunt was on with my kids. These two are formerly troubled kids who have made large strides in turning their lives around. The fact that a story had to be made up in order to "make sure" these kids were not using drugs on the grounds of the Kibbie Dome makes me wonder if they are not, in fact, being watched. Although I was told that this was not personal; that it was random; I do not believe this. I believe my kids were, indeed targeted; both by the paranoid and malicious, insane mother of this classmate of theirs; and by the Moscow Police Department.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Feeling Sorry for Myself

I have come, in my strange latter days, to realize that dating is an act of self-hatred. I haven’t yet figured out the reason, but, just as in job seeking when I found myself either over-qualified or under-qualified for an open position, I find that dating, too, has similar labels. The sad thing about it is that in order to figure out which category I fall under according to the man I am dating, I must get my heart involved; after which time he will choose whether or not I am qualified for the “position”. Generally, I am not. “Love at first sight” is a malady that afflicts only me in these instances. My most recent tragedie du jour has not yet told me whether or not I am qualified; only that there are certain aspects of my hearth and home that make him uncomfortable, despite the fact that I am “amazing” (aka, my teenage sons). So, here I am, stupidly hanging on to hope that he will call—which I doubt.

I realize that I should learn to be happy by myself, which I am, for the most part. However, rejection in any form makes me yearn all the more for a close companion. I’m pretty sure this is a dysfunction; but I’m trying not to admit it. I still believe that somewhere, out there, is a soul mate; although I have also considered the idea that mine didn’t incarnate this time around. Lucky me. So, in the spirit of this darling, little pity party I’m having, I am going to administer my own form of liquid oblivion, and try to forget that I dared to step out into the dating scene again.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

As I focus on the members of my family who came before me and have long been gone from this world, I am made more aware of who I am as a person; not the person I have become as a result of my society, but the person I was fated to be at birth: the result of generations. I realize that I am my own unique person, yet at the same time, I am a conglomeration of many people that have been contained in a common soul.

Who am I? I am the young man who traveled overland to California to seek riches in the creek beds of Sutter’s Mill; husband of the young woman who, at sixteen, taught school amidst a lawless, wild community. I am the young Irishwoman who traveled to America with her bastard son to escape the stigma of being an unwed mother in the middle 1800s. I am the widowed Civil War veteran that died of wounds sustained in battle leaving behind four orphaned children; and I am one of those orphaned children who married well, yet suffered the heartbreak of the loss of several children. I am the passenger of the mayflower, a daughter of the American Revolution and a descendant of the Civil War. My direct ancestors carried the flag for Richard the Lionheart, ruled England, and died the Viking’s death.

Although my tree branches out in several directions through my parents and my parents’ parents, I am made aware that I am the root of my own tree, and my root sends out its own branches through my children, who are then roots of their own unique trees. When I contemplate my uniqueness in the history of my family, I see that we are all truly distinctive as humans. Each of us has a place in this forest of life and who we are depends on the ones that walked the path before us.