Category Archives: writing
It’s been a very busy week in the country. Goodbye to our first black first family. Hello to a new president followed by the largest protest ever launched in America. In fact, protesting our new president and his anti-women, anti-civil rights agenda was a world wide event.
At times like these it can seem easier to just put your head in the sand. To turn off, tune out and escape the madness that surrounds us. Unfortunately, that kind of escapism historically leads to even worse problems, even more oppression. There’s a reason the poem is popular:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Still, even the most dedicated activists need a little break. So we turn on the TV, we read a book, we go to the movies, or the theater Time out can be mindless, but it can also be mind expanding. Star Trek aired the first interracial kiss, Will and Grace increased awareness and acceptance of the gay community. Hamilton not only educates us on our history but examplifies colorblind casting and the actual immigrant experience that has made America what it is today. Many people had never heard of Turing until The Imitation Game. Even fewer were aware of the women – human computers – who helped put our men in space.
I got to see Hidden Figures this weekend. What a remarkable piece of American history – good and bad. This movie demonstrates some of the underlying complaints I hear about everything that happened this weekend. This “separate and not anywhere near equal” is the America our president things was great. This white feminism has no room for black women becomes blatantly apparent in historical context. That “keep your head down and don’t cause trouble” doesn’t create change that needs to happen is obvious in hindsight.
Uppity women, demanding a place at the table, demanding to be heard plays better with a good screen writer. But those women are still out there in our workplaces. Angry black women may not have to find a colored bathroom, but that doesn’t mean they are welcomed when they come in, they’re almost as scary as transgendered women! The education disparity continues to be enormous, resources available to white children are just “not in the budget” for children of color. Is it any wonder resourceful kids will do anything to get ahead of the game?
This year I’m seeing a lot of reading challenges. Lists to encourage people to use their escape time to expand their point of view. So I’m also taking on a challenge. I’m back reviewing books on lisaspiralreads. There are already 50 book reviews there, and I’m challenging myself to review another 50 this year. I’m trying to tag and categorize to fit the reading challenge requirements I’ve been seeing. Check it out!
Hope you use your escape wisely!
Today is a national day of recognition for the civil rights movement. Here are some, perhaps less familiar excerpts from great speakers about civil rights:
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end, but a beginning.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating for whites only. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream
From: Martin Luther King – I have a dream
In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination – and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past – are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.
“Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.
This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.
This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.
This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.
From: Barack Obama – A More Perfect Union
The solution to the problem in the kitchen is clearly to do a remodel.
2 [ no obj. ] decide firmly on a course of action: [ with infinitive ] : she resolved to call Dana as soon as she got home.
That means calling contractors and getting bids to take to the bank to get a loan.
3 chiefly Chemistry separate or cause to be separated into components.
Components: Contractor, Banker, Clear the deed, Subordinate city loan, housing for Orion and I while the work goes on.
So far, so good.
• [ no obj. ] (of something seen at a distance) turn into a different form when seen more clearly: the orange glow resolved itself into four lanterns.
Contractors don’t want to waste their time writing up a bid on work that I 1. May not be able to afford or 2. May hire someone else for
The season is upon us and contractors already have work (with a GO) lined up.
There is probably more to do than I can afford and I have to prioritize.
This isn’t going to happen quickly.
The contractors who could do the work faster have larger teams/businesses and also larger prices.
Resolve: noun firm determination to do something: she received information that strengthened her resolve | she intended to stick to her initial resolve.
The only way this is going to happen is if I just keep plugging away at it.
Actually my whole life seems a little like this right now. I put the gardening on hold, not knowing what will be torn up. I can’t take it so I spent the weekend planting. I’ve mostly got things in containers, so they could be moved. But if this isn’t going to start until August I want tomatoes and basil!
The lawn has been mowed. That required having the tractor overhauled. The blades needed sharpening and there was a nut that disappeared.
The hose has a huge hole in it. It actually has for sometime. I bought a new hose long enough ago I can’t remember. I dug it out of the garage and hooked it up. It actually reaches everything! (Bonus, it doesn’t leak.)
Bills still need to be paid, and credit cards paid off – going back to the issues with the bank. I need to find time to write, time to garden, time to tend to Orion, time out for myself.
It all comes down to resolve.
When the sun is shining and the breeze is keeping the bugs away I have to remember not to play hookey from my life. I also have to remember to take a minute and appreciate the day.
I resolve to do both!
Definitions from the New Oxford American Dictionary
This isn’t the post I was going to write today. I was going to write about being outside. I was going to write about enjoying a campfire. I was going to write about going sailing.
Then I spilled a full mug of hot tea into my lap.
Besides worrying about getting burned and changing clothes and what a mess I made I also worried about what was in my lap. My laptop.
I threw rice at it (because that’s what you do) but I didn’t have much in the house. I’m not really eating rice since the bariatric surgery. I went on my way and enjoyed the day on the water without thinking too much about it.
Monday morning, the time of reckoning.
It turns on, which is a good sign. It seems like there’s a key stuck. There’s all sorts of things being entered even when I’m not touching the keyboard. When I try to type in something there are all kinds of extra characters. I can’t log in.
I have my fingers crossed that there’s a piece of rice stuck under a key rather than the keyboard shorting out. I’m afraid I’m not very hopeful about that. So I have to think about what’s next.
My website designer is reading this shaking her head. She pretty much tells me to back up every time we talk. It didn’t come up yesterday, so this is the first time she’s hearing this story.
I recognize the importance of backing up. I’ve done it now and again. I don’t have an automatic set-up. I don’t have a “system” where I back up every Friday (or whatever). In fact, despite the regular reminders from my tech support I’m not really sure when I did my last back-up.
Not only am I unsure of when, I’m also not entirely sure of where. There’s got to be a thumb drive somewhere in the house with my files and photos (at least from maybe 6 months ago?) I’ve got a few thoughts about where it might be, but they’re tenuous at best.
Even if I find them I know I’m missing most of my latest book, photos that I’ve deleted from the phone and not shared on the web, and several recipes. I couldn’t say for sure what else, because my computer is the brains of this operation.
The stuff on the internet is redeemable, but it’s not in one place. There’s no guarantee I can find it all or get it all back. There’s a photo I’m particularly grateful I put on my phone under my parents’ number. There’s another of Karina and my recent haircuts that if I didn’t share it on a blog may be lost forever.
So if I go to the genius bar today (you know they require you make appointments on line. That’s a challenge when your computer is broken!) wish me luck. And BACK-UP YOUR COMPUTER!
There’s a blog that’s been spinning around in my head for the past week. It just won’t seem to come out. I’ve had time to work at it, and have found plenty of other things to do instead. I have tried to make it coalesce in my head, and have found myself dozing in my chair.
Now it’s Monday and I’ve got, nothing. The problem with procrastination is that it adds stress to what’s usually already a stressful situation. It anticipates things will get easier, but there is no basis in empiric evidence.
I’ve been putting off getting Orion a haircut. I keep thinking it will be nice enough to walk. Then it snows. This week there are temps predicted in the 70’s. (There are also temps predicted in the 30’s). If I wait, will that happen on the day when I have time? Will I feel up to it physically? Will I have overbooked myself?
I’m trying to get through my list of things “to do” without putting things off so long. Inevitably something slips through. I don’t get enough sleep and something falls off the list. I get stuck in traffic and time runs short. I am faced with something that HAS to be done RIGHT NOW and so the thing that’s been put off gets put off again.
He loves going on Weekend Ventures. They’ve changed their notification system for registering. I no longer have a piece of paper lying around that I have to keep moving (and therefore am continually reminded). I get an email and in less than a day it’s no longer on my screen. Out of sight, out of mind. I didn’t do it IMMEDIATELY and now I hope I’m not too late!
It’s been a whirlwind of a weekend and it may take me a bit to come back into my regular routine. Paganicon happened, which was fun and exciting. I did a presentation on Friday. It was well attended and I got some very positive feedback. I have to think it went well.
I spent plenty of time socializing on Friday. This is a local convention, but it’s getting some buzz on the National scale. Some of the guests and folks coming in from out-of-town are good friends. It’s always nice to have the opportunity to touch base in person with those long distance relationships.
Saturday was our political district convention. Both Orion and I were delegates. This year Orion is excited about politics and I’m feeling fit enough to make it possible for him to participate at this level. We struggle with accessibility in these venues. On caucus night it was the crowds. For the district convention it was the convention set up itself.
The building this district historically uses for its convention is technically ADA accessible. There is a ramp and an elevator. There are handicapped stalls in the bathrooms. However the signage is horrible.
To make matters worse the convention was in the auditorium. You may know most auditorium seating has a small designated area to accommodate wheelchairs. Depending on the auditorium they may or may not have seating near them for companions. But at a political convention the rules require that delegates sit in their precincts – not in the special seats on the other side of the room.
We found a spot in a little used aisle. Little used because the door to that aisle was locked the entire day. Every time we left we had to get someone to go around and let us back in. The lighting was horrible. I had eye fatigue and a burgeoning headache from trying to read the amendments. Orion is legally blind. He can read, but he needs good lighting. I drained my cell phone battery using the flashlight.
In spite of being worn out we swung by Paganicon after the political convention. It gave Orion a chance to visit with some of his friends. He picked up a beautiful drum that he’s enjoying. Orion has an inherent sense of rhythm and perfect pitch.
Sunday morning I was back at Paganicon to do a book signing. It went pretty well for me after one of the organizers kindly found me a decent cup of coffee to get me through. I spent the afternoon actually attending the convention, going to workshops and participating in rituals.
It was a good weekend. I couldn’t have done so much, and at that pace, 3 years ago. I am so grateful to be able to do these kinds of things again, and to be able to do them with Orion in tow.
I was talking about my bariatric surgery and the outcomes with some folks I hadn’t seen for awhile. These are people who have been in that internal debate about their own weight issues. I said that I think part of my success is because I’m not focused on the weight or the numbers as much as I’m focused on the things I can do.
I can get down on the floor and up again. I can go up and down the stairs. I can walk from one end of the convention to the other and not sit down. I can stand for my entire presentation and still manage to pack my stuff up when I’m done. Gratitude keeps me on track. Excitement about what I can do keeps me pushing to do more.
I’m traveling again this week. I’m going to present a workshop at Pantheacon. Today I’m feeling just a little overwhelmed because there’s so much still to do!
I have arrangements for hotel and my flights are booked, but I’ve given no thought to getting back and forth from the airport. I’ve got Orion covered and his meds sorted, but I still have to arrange his transportation and think about what else to put in his bag.
Karina will be staying with Orion for at least some of the time I’m gone. I suppose that means rather than entirely emptying the refrigerator I should give some thought to what they might eat. Do I trust that Karina will keep Minnie off of my bed or do I pack away the good blankets?
Then there is my own packing! Do I bring books to sell? How many? Which ones? Can I do that and keep my luggage under the weight limits? Packing for the workshop I’m presenting, and preparing for that, is its own little piece of extra, but exciting.
I’m sure some of my stress is because of what happened last year. The workshop I’m giving is the one I was planning on doing then. Having to cancel at the last-minute because of https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/a-big-wrench/ was more than a little discombobulating. I’m grateful to be doing well, healthy and able to go back this year!
It’s 11 F here and the temps are dropping. The high today in San Jose is 77 F. Packing and planning for what to wear on the plane is an interesting logistical dilemma. I will definitely throw in a swimsuit! I may have to pack a winter coat as well. That depends a lot on how I get back and forth to the airport which puts me back at the beginning of this post.
I need to just breathe. I need to remember I’ve done this before, I’ll do it again. I need to trust that whatever decisions I make will be fine. I need to remember that if I forget anything there’s a good chance there are stores in California.
See you at Pantheacon!
Past blogs about my experiences at Pantheacon:
The holidays are over, at least for most of us, and it’s time to get back to the daily grind. I suppose those New Year’s Resolutions are supposed to help with that. All those good intentions with the opportunity to put them into play. I don’t bother with them anymore. They seem to just lead to great disappointment when, by February, I’ve forgotten them completely.
There are still leftovers in the fridge. The last of the sweets are around the house. The decorations get packed up this coming weekend. It’s cold, and dark, and a little bit sad to see all the sparkle go away. Resolutions don’t do it for me, but this is the time of year when I lean heavily on Daily
Daily Practice can mean a lot of things. A diet requires daily practice, as does an exercise program (or physical therapy). Most spiritual systems encourage some sort of daily practice. Writing, learning a new language, honing a skill all good candidates for daily practice. And I’ve done them all, at least for a while.
When it’s dark, and a little depressing I use daily practice to “prime the pump”. I find some very small thing that’s easy to do, even if I have to quick do it before I go to bed because I’ve forgotten or put it off all day. Then I just commit to doing it.
Lately my daily practice has been making the bed. This is not a hardship. I have a duvet (and right now an extra blanket/bedspread). There are no hospital corners involved. All it takes is a quick tidy. I can do it in less than a minute. There is no excuse not to make my bed. I just never did it before.
This one small thing doesn’t seem like a spiritual practice. It doesn’t look like much of anything, but it makes a huge difference in my day. Every time I walk into my room and see my bed made it makes me smile. It makes me feel special, like I care about myself. It makes me want to be better at all the other things that need doing.
It does exactly what I’m looking for from Daily Practice at this time of year. It gets me started on the right foot. It sets me up for a productive day. It primes the pump.
I could choose to write about Father’s Day. I’m not worried about my father getting shot just going through his day. That’s Privilege. I could choose to write about the Summer Solstice. The longest day of the year when the sun shines, illuminating things. Maybe I’ll just shine my light on a Difficult Topic, #BlackLivesMatter.
We are taught a very highly Edited version of history. I had no idea how important the AME church was, historically, until Obama started talking about it. I believe it is our personal responsibility to educate our selves on the things going on around us that the System would rather we ignore. This is not an easy task. It first requires an understanding that what we are taught isn’t the whole story.
The reason people who are educated in this area talk about systemic racism is because it is invisible and perpetuated by the system. This is not a new thing. I remember Kent State. The first time the National Guard opened fire on campus? No. The first time a white upper middle class student was killed. Yes.
I hear white people ask, “Why is it always about race?” Because when you have to live with it every day, you begin to realize it is inescapable. There is a reason that #BlackLivesMatter is not #AllLivesMatter. It is not because all lives shouldn’t matter, but because it’s clear that Black lives don’t.
There is a difference between not actively perpetuating the problem and helping to solve it. That difference starts with awareness. The things that are so common it’s easy not to even notice are often referred to as microaggressions.
Learning to recognize these in ourselves,
in the media, and in others is a big step towards simply validating the problem. Then the next step is to Speak Up.
I end where I started, encouraging self education. Each of these links takes you to places where you can hear different voices, and perhaps learn more. Additionally I recommend checking out my friend Crystal Blanton’s 30 Day Real Black History Challenge. She’s been doing this for several years so check out her archives as well.
Crystal was instrumental in the editing of the anthology Bringing Race to the Table:Exploring Racism in the Pagan Community. I have a small essay in that book, and I’m very proud to be a contributor. I recommend it to non-Pagans as well. The book is structured with a section on People of Color’s experiences, a section on History, and a section where ally’s speak. I think the material is widely applicable and sometimes it’s easier to hear if you have a little distance.
Thank you for reading.
Photos from Huffington Post