Monday, February 23, 2015
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Just last night, Demi's anxiety struck again. Deep seated, overwhelming fear of being alone, of abandonment, filled the house. Holding her cheeks, she wandered looking for what could not be found. She shrieked, "I can't stand it. I can't do this again. Oh....."
With no fuse to be removed from the box, no switch to turn off, no person to hold her until she could contain again the urgent mind-rending fear, she climbed into bed, pulled the covers close and tried to calm a raging sense of doom.
Calmer after many minutes, she grabbed the car keys, zipped up the huge black down jacket, put on her gloves and headed for the car. She needed to find someone, anyone to allay her sense of being totally unilaterally unequivocally alone.
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Saturday, February 21, 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying. The cancer occupies a third of my liver, and though its advance may be slowed, this particular sort of cancer cannot be halted.
It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can. In this I am encouraged by the words of one of my favorite philosophers, David Hume, who, upon learning that he was mortally ill at age 65, wrote a short autobiography in a single day in April of 1776. He titled it “My Own Life.”
“I now reckon upon a speedy dissolution,” he wrote. “I have suffered very little pain from my disorder; and what is more strange, have, notwithstanding the great decline of my person, never suffered a moment’s abatement of my spirits. I possess the same ardour as ever in study, and the same gaiety in company.”
I have been lucky enough to live past 80, and the 15 years allotted to me beyond Hume’s three score and five have been equally rich in work and love. In that time, I have published five books and completed an autobiography (rather longer than Hume’s few pages) to be published this spring; I have several other books nearly finished.
Hume continued, “I am ... a man of mild dispositions, of command of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour, capable of attachment, but little susceptible of enmity, and of great moderation in all my passions.”
Here I depart from Hume. While I have enjoyed loving relationships and friendships and have no real enmities, I cannot say (nor would anyone who knows me say) that I am a man of mild dispositions. On the contrary, I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.
And yet, one line from Hume’s essay strikes me as especially true: “It is difficult,” he wrote, “to be more detached from life than I am at present.”
Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.
On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
I suspect it is the Lakota Sioux who will survive,
who will win the long term battle of
pipelines, fossil fuels, and civilization.
His civilization lived far longer
than the that of the European settlers
on the North American continent.
We may not be able to travel back in time
nor forward into the future;
but some of us
respond to change with a greater wisdom.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has emerged as the liberal hero of a hopelessly right-wing Supreme Court, a ram in the bush for those of us who look on in horror as the court presides over the dismantling of key pieces of legislation like the Voting Rights Act, anti-discrimination law and affirmative action policy, which have been so critical to African-American advancement since the 1960s.
In a recent interview at Georgetown University, Ginsburg reflected on the history behind one of her key legal accomplishments, the 1971 case of Reed v. Reed. After an estranged couple lost their son, his mother, Sally Reed, petitioned to administer his estate. But Idaho law maintained that “males must be preferred to females,” in such matters. Ginsburg authored the plaintiff’s brief for the case when it reached the Supreme Court, arguing that the 14th amendment protected against discrimination based upon sex. When the court ruled in Sally Reed’s favor, it was the first time that the Equal Protection Clause had been applied to a case of sex discrimination.
But much of the legal groundwork for that argument can be attributed to Dr. Pauli Murray, a Howard University-trained lawyer, who began to argue in the 1960s, that the Equal Protection Clause should be applied to cases of sex discrimination in much the same way that it had been applied to cases of racial discrimination. Murray’s argument constituted what legal historian Serena Mayeri termed “reasoning from race,” in which race analogies were used to make clear the subordinate status of women. Though today we speak of these matters in the language of intersections, a term gleaned from legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, it is Pauli Murray’s initial invocation of the race-sex analogy for black women’s positionality within the law that is the most direct precursor to Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality.
Ginsburg named Murray and Judge Dorothy Kenyon as co-authors of her brief in the Reed case, because even though they didn’t help to write it, these two women had been pioneers in creating the legal strategy for fighting sex discrimination. Ginsburg’s choice to name these women as co-authors is a model for how to solve contemporary issues among young feminists over white feminists’ appropriation without attribution of the intellectual and political labor of women of color.
18 February 2015
18 February 2015
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
This tendency of ours known as 'naive realism'
the assertion that we see the world as it actually is and our impression of it as an objective, accurate representation of 'reality'
a concept that comes from ancient philosophy and has since been amply debunked by modern science.
The last one hundred years of research suggest that you and everyone else, still believe in a form of naive realism. You still believe that although your inputs may not be perfect, once you get to thinking and feeling, those thoughts and feelings are reliable and predictable. We now know that there is no way you can ever know an 'objective' reality, and we know that you can never know how much of subjective reality is a fabrication, because you never experience anything other than the output of your mind. Everything that's ever happened to you has happened inside your skull."
Monday, February 16, 2015
I share this Facebook post because it is soooo TRUE.
More than any other post I've encountered in the last few weeks, this item posted by a fellow author, Richard Sutton, but written by another (famous) author Elizabeth Gilbert, is utterly the truth!
Thank you, Richard, for the post, for the reminder!
This memory piece was first posted in May of 2013. I so remember this huge, smiling, brilliant man who ate his fried chicken on my front veranda while his younger more dextrous family members climbed and trimmed the huge palms in my front garden. I need to write a fictional diary of 'My Days In Brisbane', doncha think?
Just the first page of a commentary on big men with huge shoulders and wild accents.
You thought I had disappeared?
Well, it rained and you know about the big wet and witches! I melted!!
Now, the sun has come back out and dried up all the drains and witchetty grub me has re-formed again! How's that for an international story?
Anyhow, today while I was busy playing solitaire on my computer waiting until it was time to head off to lunch, I heard a male voice calling, 'Hellooo,' from the front of the house. I live in this rather large Queensland Colonial and my office is in the very back.
I knew that my housemate, Erica, was sleeping cause she worked the graveyard shift, so I scurried down the long front hallway to see what the racquet was all about.
Leaning on my front gate with his arms spread from one gatepost to the other was a square man with a Tongan accent. 'We're working in the area today. Would you like your palm trees trimmed?'
He waved both of those long arms to encompass the four very tall palm trees growing in the front garden. All four had window dressings of palm nut bundles all tied up indate-like arrangement ready to fall to the ground where I would later be picking them up.
Below the palm nut bundles hung dead yellow seven foot palm fronds, an underdressing that would also fall in the next big wind and bounce off the fence or topple one of the lovely shrubs growing beneath them in the garden.
From the top of the front veranda stairs, I asked, 'How much would you charge me for all four?'
'Humm, that one is extra high, more than a 30 feet, cost more to climb that one. $180 for all four and we'll take it to the dump.'
I really wanted those palms trimmed, but that was just too much money.
Sunday, February 15, 2015
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Friday, February 13, 2015
"My feet were above the floor when the snakes were going through the rain forest."
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Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Sunday, February 08, 2015
Flying Over Lake Eyre
His grey eyes asked:
“I’m gonna have a cuppa; want one?”
“I’m headed to Super Cheap; wanna come?”
“ –Paddo hardware, join me?”
Scenes of life in Paddington replayed:
-extra large shirts on the ironing board
-huge hands and imaginative thumbs
-barrel chest supporting stubborn Australian wisdom
-sunglasses; never lost
Paddington flavors interrupted my airline supper:
-simple ingredients simmered into fragrances tugging at taste buds
- Buderim ginger dropped in the palm
- spicy olives slipped into my mouth
-mango gelato before bed
Music on airline earphones echoed:
-a smile of generosity
-anger so swift one couldn't always see it rise
so transient one couldn’t foretell its slip into humor.
Sierra Sunrise: A Travel Adventure
Saturday, February 07, 2015
Refugees in Australia - "On the way to the bus the next day, I reflected on these families who could never go home. Unlike me, their survival required them to make a place in this new culture thousands of miles from where their families lived for centuries. We were to varying degrees refugees from the violence of the greater world. However, my childhood, rife with domestic violence was in no way as dangerous as their lives in war. Nonetheless, we did have enough similar experiences to allow me to identify with them although I could never imagine the terror of their former lives.
Meeting the Sudanese moms entailed crossing roads on which traffic sped on the left side of the road, the opposite direction from traffic in America. Crossing the street might seem easy regardless of the culture, but I grew old in California where pedestrians had the right of way, which made crossing Brisbane streets potentially lethal. "
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Friday, February 06, 2015
Across the valley one could barely make out the Pass crowned with fagus, Australia’s only native deciduous tree bereft of leaves. The scudding clouds sometimes enveloped the ragged peaks and sometimes left them sparkling in the sunlight.
I thought how beautiful this valley must be in October when spring ripened the blossoms into a blaze of color. Perhaps we should come back, maybe even in winter for a short stay to see the wilderness covered in snow blown in from the deepest south.
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Thursday, February 05, 2015
Wednesday, February 04, 2015
Australians love 'understatement'. Their default humor is forever to minimize. And this penchant comes from one of the often overstated physical environments on the planet. The foreboding climate systems that swing across the southern hemisphere dramatically challenge the people who have chosen to live there - no matter whether indigenous or refugee, the citizens of Australia deal with some of the most ferocious weather imaginable. Here are two rather startling examples.
Monday, February 02, 2015
Our communications reminded me of a comment made by Nikki Giovanni during an interview with Bill Moyers. “Being in love has nothing to do with how the person feels about you. It has to do with how you feel about yourself…the important thing to ask is not what can that person do for me, but what can I do? I’ve got the light, what do I do with it?”
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