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Monday, April 30, 2007

A pinch of fair
A pinch of foul
And bad and good make best of all.
Beware the moderated soul
That climbs no fractional inch to fall.
Nonsense Rhymes
Elinor Wylie

To me that means perhaps there are others in this world who have runny egg yoke melded between the keys on their keyboard......


And that's what you get when you try to get it out using wet Q-tips.

Once it reaches 70 degrees outside I tremble a bit when the sun starts beating through the windows.

Yes, I'm afraid it's another childhood trauma I need to let out of the closet.

It starts with my mother, who could only tolerate a temperature of 70 degrees, with no more than two degrees latitude in either direction.

And this before the days of air conditioners or even fans, which were considered a frivolous luxury.

My siblings and I spent summers in darkness unless we were outside, prisoners of "Shade Duty," which entailed pulling window shades up and down according to the movement of the sun.

"THE WEST SHADES! PULL THE WEST SHADES!" She'd cry out, as the light crept along the side of the fieldstone house, sinister, in search of vampires like us.

"Why are you always squinting," my friends would say when I came out to play.

Later in life, much later, my parents were the proud owners of a central air-conditioner and we lived all summer in flannel shirts, shivering under wool balnkets, but that's a whole 'nother story, which now that I think of it, coincides with my mother reaching age 50. Need I say more?

You don't think I could get away with telling you this story without confessing...
Especially with my sister watching.
Fine, I do it too, just not to that degree.

Blame it on ancestral memory.

Once the summer solstice hits I don't think my daughter pulls the shades up at all. :-D

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I feel terrible you haven't heard from me in what?????
Something like 17 days.
Actually, it was an experiment to see if anyone really cared.
Thanks to the one person who asked...:-)

Sometimes nothing comes out.
Sometimes the spewing forth dries up.
Sometimes you just get so tired of writing you can't.
Sometimes you can't even read words and books just lay there, spread-eagled on your lap in bed and you find yourself staring for hours into some fantasy void, making up your own make believe worlds to live in instead of reading someone else's tedious ideas.

Instead I've been:

You're thinking "Dead Man Walking."
This is "Sharon of the Hill People" walking.

That expression was coined by our photographer Justin. One day out of nowhere he starts chanting, in sing-song, drawn out tones that flow out from the photo room:

of the Hill Peoppplllle......."

My heart melted like a child with a puppy plopped in her arms.

So what if Justin meant gape-toothed with long yellow finger nails, scabby knees and untanned clothing stained with juices from raw meat?

I pictured a wild-eyed woman, tan and tall, flowing hair down to her knees, wearing skins from a white deer that are so soft because they were made the ancient way, when the hides were soaked in urine, and wild animals are following her because they beckon to her call.....

Which actually does bring me to my point of how I walked all winter, if it was at least above 8 degrees and for the most part I was alone because what idiots would be out there, but now that the weather is nice the city has suddenly been repopulated with outdoor enthusiasts and I'm chagrin to face the fact I have to look presentable.

I haven't lived in a city for 23 years, so I thought nothing of getting out of bed, throwing several layers of clothes on and heading out the door.

Now there are humans everywhere needing to say hello and wanting you to pet their hairy pampered, panting dogs (unlike the wolves of the Hill People) and I've come to realize I've been scaring them, really.

What? I thought until I looked in the mirror.

If you've ever seen my hair imagine it post REM stage: Picture an Afro, but standing straight out.

Black rings of mascara circle my eyes.

And for some reason my eye brows look like they need brushing.

And my fingernails were all stained yellow from the cheese popcorn I had eaten before falling asleep.

There was a Sunday I talked with two nice white-haired ladies for at least five minutes and it wasn't until I got home I saw there was a red line drawn down the entire side of my face from when I had fallen asleep on a ink pen that leaked.

Now I grudgingly wash my face and at least try to get a brush through the surface layer of hair, but damn it, Justin, I really like being:

of the Hill Peoooooopppppplllllle."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

To Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.:

It was 6 a.m. and I was lounging in bed with a fresh-brewed cup of coffee listening to NPR this morning and watching a hawk sit on her nest in a big tree anchored in the center of the field behind my condo.

As the news came over the radio: "Kurt Vonnegut has died," the hawk spread her wings and took to the air.

My hands covered my eyes.

Oh geez, Mr. Vonnegut, how you got me through my high school years. Your sad, mixed up characters were me: Kilgore Trout, Billy Pilgrim, Elliot Rosewater, Montana Wildhack.

When Billy Pilgrim got “Unstuck” in time, so did I. Your stories fit like a missing puzzle piece in the space right between adolescent angst and young adulthood.

Your semi-autobiographical account of life as a prisoner of war during World War II in "Slaughterhouse Five” and the scene that unfolds before the eyes of your character Billy as he is released after the bombing of Dresden is as clear today in my mind as when I first read it.

I heard you in an interview, describing this surreal world where nothing made sense, the bombed city, the animals running free from the Dresden zoo, a young prisoner of war staring at a world gone mad.

The last line of the novel is a bird's nonsensical singing, singing that is posed as a question that to me translates to “What the hell?”

“Poo-te-weet?” it calls.

How fitting for a life-changing story that teaches us how impossible it is to make sense of the insanity of war and massacre. The book came out in 1969, in the midst of the turmoil of the Vietnam War.

Vonnegut’s chirping bird lets us know that sometimes in life it is impossible to even ask questions that make sense.

“What the hell?” is about all you can say.

I loved you so.

God bless you, Kurt Vonnegut. I wonder if today you are wandering in a world that finally makes sense.

Monday, April 09, 2007

My 87-year-old aunt, who has always been like a mother to me, recently poured out her heart to me about what it is like to be a covert atheist in her retirement community.

"If anyone knew I'd be shunned," she said in a whisper.

I say this because Easter and Passover is being celebrated this month and it made me think about her, along with my grandmother, who was an agnostic, and my father, who said he wished he could believe in something, but just couldn't because it didn't make any sense.

The irony is they were, are, the most spiritual people I ever had the privilege of sharing my life with. Kind, compassionate, giving, non-judgemental, they opened their homes to everyone with a kind of immeasurable, unconditional love that astounds me when I think about it.

I never felt worthy in the face of such pureness of heart but that never seemed to matter.

New-agers call it the "Christ-consciousness" that transcends denominations and religious affiliations.

"You aren't an atheist," I tried to tell my aunt. "You believe that when you die you become one with the universe, remember? That our energy force joins forces with the cosmos. That's believing in something."

"No, no, don't mix me up with your grandmother. She thought there might be an afterlife. I know there isn't," she maintained.

My grandmother was a devout Catholic back in the old country and one of the best singers in the church choir until she witnessed at age 16 the priest brutally beating some of the girls who sang off key. The last straw, the stinging blow that severed her ties with organized religion came in America when the priest wouldn't baptize her son because she had no money to pay the church fee.

It seems like our country has been struggling with a variety of religious identities lately as people arm themselves with dogmas and take sides over right and wrong.

As painful as it is to watch I couldn't be more thrilled. It's like watching birth pains of a new nation. We've seen the outcome of a conservative faction armed with a so-called religious right and now people have to decide whether or not it's what they want to see continue.

There's a smell of change in the wind,a pull in the opposite direction as people feel out a different approach.

I like to pretend I'm an observer from an alien planet, watching it all unfold.

Many are saving the year 2012 is the beginning of "Heaven on earth."

NASA predicts that the Sun will reverse its own magnetic poles during 2012 as aresult of reaching the end of current 11-year sunspot cycle. Some believe this will amplify the effects of retarding magnetic field on earth, as harmful charged particles blasted away from the sun would more easily penetrate the earth's atmosphere.

Check out The Year 2012 and you'll see the predictions, originating from many ancient sources (that's eerie in itself!) including the Mayan calendar, which stops on Dec. 21, 2012.

* The book "The Nostradamus Code" speaks of a series of natural disasters caused by a comet which will allow the third anti-Christ to disperse his troops around the globe under the guise of aid in preparation for a possible nuclear war, although in the strictest sense it is unspecific as to nuclear war or some other natural or man caused destruction.

* "The Orion Prophecy" claims that the Earth's magnetic field will reverse that year.

*"The Return of Quetzalcoatl" by Daniel Pinchbeck discusses theories of a possible global awakening to psychic connection by the year 2012.

*Terence McKenna's mathematical novelty theory suggests a point of singularity in which a great number of things could happen, including "hyperspatial breakthrough", planetesimal impact, alien contact, historical metamorphosis, metamorphosis of natural law, solar explosion and "quasar ignition at the galactic core," whatever that means.

*The Prophecy of the Popes, attributed to Saint Malachy, speculated that Pope Benedict XVI would reign during the beginning of the tribulation of which Jesus spoke, and sometime later a future pope described in the prophecy as "Peter the Roman", the last in this prophetic list, would appear, bringing as a result the destruction of the city of Rome and the Last Judgment.

*Many new age spiritualists and philosophers believe humankind will enter an age of enlightenment in 2012.

I'll be 55, and I don't know about you, but good or bad, I can't wait.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Is there anything more daunting than the sight of a state patrol car zooming in on you from behind?

I was stopped and ticketed last week for various very bad things I had done which were against the law.

There was a Marlon Brando/James Dean moment of exhilaration, a fleeting milli-second where I wondered what it would be like to press the pedal to the metal and just take off.

Oh yes indeed.

Anyone who's ever seen Viggo Mortensen's MAGNIFICENT performance in "Vanishing Point" can relate, as he leads law enforcement on a astounding car chase that as I recall lasts weeks, across country with the entire nation watching and falling in love with this bad guy/hero who is really innocent.

EDGE OF YOUR SEAT took me days to recover.

Anyway, since I'm scared to go fast I pulled over, rolled down my window and looked up.

What a sight it was to behold.

Ten gallon hat; black, streamlined sunglasses reflecting the sun just right; a chiseled, young Burt Lancaster face, not a bead of sweat on it and it was an 80-degree day; impeccable NAVY (true Navy, not dark blue) uniform without a thread or wrinkle on it; badge blinding me with it's gleam.

I once saw a public television show in which they showed a Marine getting his dress uniform ready for his duty guarding the tomb of the unknown soldier. The finishing touch was another, well-practiced Marine taking a lighter and going over the entire uniform to burn away any minuscule hairs or invisible threads.

You get the picture.

I sat slack-jawed, temporarily mute. Would I have to be frisked? I wondered.

No one ever told me before that my little Vibe needed a front license plate. It came without one.

And I thought I changed my address with the DMV but I am often delusional and maybe I just dreamed it.

When he asked if there was a reason I wasn't wearing a seat belt, I hung my head in shame and whispered:


Guess what the last words were I uttered as he handed me a pile of tickets and walked away.

"Thank you....really."

Monday, April 02, 2007

There are all kinds of forms of humiliation in life.

You would think that at this age it would no longer matter what other people think, but still, there's that throwback Victorian upbringing in most of us, you know the voice, the tone, the internal rising of a blush coming on, the need to look away.

I heard on public radio the other night that humans are the only creatures capable of blushing, of even knowing shame.

No one else cares, monkeys for example, if anyone sees them at their worst. I never liked them much because of that or maybe it was because my mother never let us linger long watching monkey island at the Milwaukee Zoo, as something was bound to happen that we, as children, shouldn't see. To this day I feel guilt even watching a National Geographic special on monkeys. I hear my mother's voice:

"They should be wearing clothes," she'd chide.

I'm babbling.

I could not look the young male college kid in the eye who was checking me out at the Fond du Lac Public Library Saturday as I handed him "Hot Flashes, Hormones & Your Heath," with a bright yellow blurb on the cover that shouted "Find out if HORMONE THERAPY is right for you."

Somehow I wasn't thinking when I took that baby off the shelf, it never entered my mind who I would encounter at the check-out counter.

If that wasn't bad enough, I found a parking ticket on my car, but I'm going to fight it. I wonder if I can get a jury trial.

No one should have to pay to park at a public building, like the library.

I'm with you on this one Sister Stella! I'm free Monday night if you want to get together and make some picket signs.