Paring Down to the Essentials

Where am I, who am IYes, like the proverbial bad penny I turned back up. Mind you, WordPress seeking its renewal fee played a huge role. Every time I change a card number my automated life goes to hell because — gasp — I must remember passwords and type numbers.  With those skills I would be a techie and not struggle with inserting images.

DSC03846But truthfully it’s been a long time in coming. Why? Communicating feeds my soul. Without it I become my migraine fog or current obsession. Neither are very pleasant nor particularly interesting. Even when I’m (literally) hiding from the light I’ve begun listening to nonfiction shows or books. I don’t fear dementia – some would say it’s already arrived – I just want to learn stuff for later conversation or posting.

Says it all

Crowd shot
Crowd shot

A lot happened over the past year. Like everyone else, I lived, died, and resurrected with the Giants. I can’t thank those boys enough for being so San Francisco. Too cool for school most of the year and then pulling it out of their [fill-in-the-blank] at the end. Yes, I can hear the haters chant it’s a corporate machine. Whatever. They brought every part of this City together without scandal or violence (are you listening Niners?). Not to mention forced the East Coast Media Establishment’s heads to explode. A win any way you look at it.

Pigeon Vultures
Pigeon Vultures

I have loads to talk about in future posts. The homeless situation spawns almost daily and seemingly endless tragedies. Our local archbishop beats the local media like a drum despite using every page of the Internet Troll playbook. With MUNI imploding and rents rising we continue to build our City’s future on quicksand.

But for now I must stop. Need to figure out what and where to pay WordPress. Then climb into bed with icepack strapped to my scalp.

Before I leave, however,I pledge a weekly post. Pictures may be sparser until I remember previous free sites. I must adjust to a world without my camera (see future post).

When It Doesn’t Quite Work

ImageSome days the photography goddess goes with you. Other times she  hangs out with the real photographers. Such was my Saturday. After deleting almost half of my photos I felt like the wolf in this great graphic adorning a bakery near Flax Art & Design. What the hell happened?”

Immediately mantras sprang to mind. “The worst day spent [hobby] is better than the best day working.” “If you at first don’t succeed, try, try again.” “You learn more from your mistakes.” Fill in your favorite cliché. But the pounding in my ears sounded too much like “grab some pine, meat.” [A shout out to my fellow SF Giants fans.] Certain photos [like this fire hydrant] caused this familiar taunt to grow louder. DSC01588

 Then I recalled a great Additude Magazine post I read this week on the near addiction folks like me have to quitting.  The author explained how many steps ADHD sufferers will take to avoid being “devastated by disapproval.”  See http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/10121.html for the original article.

Initially I pushed the article aside because I approach the world like a battleship (invoking the strong women running through both my blood lines). However, closer reflection — notably an apartment littered with failed hobbies and the frustrated voices of exes/friends past — chastened me. I remembered how quickly I dropped things I could not master in an afternoon or [being fair] not ever given certain of my limitations. Not only did it prevent me from perhaps one day mastering certain subjects (hey a girl can dream), but it cost me respect (both my own and that of others). These are losses I no longer want crumbling my foundation. DSC01566

Then I read a great Lifehacker post urging readers to adopt a Buddhist approach to life. It advised making one’s life goal to remove unhappiness rather than chase happiness. You can find this provocative piece at http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/what-do-you-need-to-let-go-of.html

Frankly it deserves a blog post of its own. It still runs through my mind like a waterfall: beautiful but beyond grasp. It’s incredibly empowering but also seemingly dishonest. What if you owe an obligation to the unhappiness? (Ah; the neglected child and first wife lament – time to put this puppy [post] to bed soon). Too many things are whirring in my brain, much like the mural excerpt below. I real sleep more than blogging absolution. DSC01551

Besides not everything becomes a total loss. You end up with the parent best able —and most willing— to care for you. Both you and your ex grow inwardly stronger  after you part. [Plus you get to litter your new apartment with anything you want. Evil grin.] Finally it’s virtually impossible not to come home with at least one or two nice pictures in San Francisco (as hopefully shown below).

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DSC01570  Good night and thanks for hanging in with this post. DSC01597

 

The Power and Treachery of Speech

2012-05-27_12-09-39_665-1Tonight technology driven by a sore shoulder brings you this post via dictation. I feel like a cheap episode of an old Star Trek. Of course all the episodes of Star Trek were cheap so I guess this puts me right at home.

Mind you the power amazes me given the state of computers just 15-20 years ago. I vividly remember a disabled friend typing via a pencil clenched between her teeth. Now folks perform high-level jobs without ever touching a keyboard or mouse.  Of course ever since we crawled out of the caves  we have improvised around our puny bodies’ limitations.  We erect huge buildings, roar down streets in fancy cars and literally fly to the moon.  Powers which have wrought great beauty and even greater destruction. Like everything else it depends on who wields the power and the circumstances surrounding them.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Still I find this power of speech particularly terrifying. Oddly because it has always come to me so glibly. As a child I live surrounded by relatives who verbalized everything. Looking back it went beyond merely filling silences. On all sides of my family we saw and experienced everything. Our glimpses became fodder for stories, jokes, and fights. I suppose the modern term is processing, but I prefer living.  Yet when the time came to give my heart away it went to a woman who taught me to value silence. An amazingly gifted  musician she experienced the world by being still enough to hear sounds beyond my range of hearing and understanding.  Like many long-term couples we eventually drifted apart but not before I learned of worlds I missed by not listening hard enough. [Note: picture is not my ex – just random (also gifted) musicians].DSC00949

I suppose the fear arises from using speech in everything I do.  Like many in my family  I always fall into the caregiving professions, no matter how much I try running from them. It’s closely linked with the whole world domination thing I have  had going  since kindergarten. Taught always to give back  my family members and I seek to lift up the world around us. In my case I use persuasive skills –either verbal or written– to cajole, console, or scold.  In my youth I  sought justice  and power. Now in middle-age  I seek to settle or repair things. It no longer seems like a compromise given what I’ve learned of the world’s fragility. Mostly, much like the dictation, its  learning to trust going with the flow. The faster you dictate the fewer mistakes you make. The more people and situations you quickly clean up, the better the worlds.   It’s like bringing a  little spring  in the middle of winter.DSC00704

So what so terrifying? It’s knowing how easily people use speech to do the wrong thing. It’s not just the larger questions of morality its seeing people ripped to pieces by someone else’s words. It’s knowing people so damaged they no longer trust anyone.  It’s remembering, how like any other non-perfect human being, when I used  speech to destroy people. With glibness comes too many glitches is or gotcha’s. With writing I feel distance and a chance to edit (unless I had  the itchy send button finger going).  Of course given my clumsy dictation skills I will always have a chance to edit. Still it harkens of a world where  speech will grant instant gratification. Hopefully I will remember what my ex so wisely tried to teach me, just wait and listen.DSC01267

The Ecstasy of the Everyday

ImageMost of us exist in a dream state. We chase after our greatest desires, or fend off our current challenges, without giving real thought to what matters. “What” being our connections to loved ones.

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Collective tragedies like the Sandy Hook Shootings,  the Boston Marathon Bombings, and the Waco Plant Blast jolt our delirium. Instantly we morph into a community vicariously facing our greatest fears as we sit transfixed near flickering screens. During this collective outpouring we will hug our loved ones closer and dig deep to send what comfort we can afford. In time the closeness will pass as everyday life and loved ones reassert themselves, but painful memories defining generation remain. Dates like November 1963 or 9/11, remembrances of past wars, genocides, or plagues (AIDS), and the seemingly endless mass shootings will drag us back to the original horror.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

DSC00764However, nothing prepares us for the loss of a truly loved one. Even if anticipated the loss brings us to our knees. If we are fortunate, friends and family help pick us up. Still it remains a journey each of us must walk alone. A bleak journey designed to get us to accept a seemingly unbearable loss. Time helps but memories matter more (once we pass the ones loaded with regret). In time hopefully we regain strength enough to once again pass along the love so generously bestowed on us.

Before a torrent of losses of persons both known and unknown, I might have admonished everyone to grab a hold of their loved ones. (Obviously I recommend this approach on all possible occasions.) However, much like the now cliché quote from the movie, we can’t handle the truth” we can’t handle the ecstasy accompanying the emotion. Truly grasping what losing a dearly loved one means would render us besotted, unable to leave their side.  Most likely we would lose them along with our ability to continue as a species.

Still we must train our senses to capture the ecstasy when it arrives (often by surprise). It’s not the big events I remember spending with my mom, loved ones lost to death, or  former friends and lovers. Often its an ordinary day spent doing ordinary things or perhaps a silly day where responsibilities got tossed. At the time it filled me with happiness but didn’t register large in my life. Now these moments are a lifeline. Pay attention to them and soak them for every bit of  available joy. God knows we will be back in front of our flickering screens soon enough.DSC00704

Going Home Again (Briefly) To Seek Peace in a Post-Election World

Can you go home again? And even if you could, should you?

Anti-Chen Protest Day 32 - Million Men March
Anti-Chen Protest Day 32 – Million Men March (Photo credit: My Hourglass)

Most of you are shouting “HELL NO” because past experiences discourage such a fanciful exercise. Returning to small classrooms remind us how it felt being small and powerless. Class reunions trigger old insecurities and disappoint dreams of rekindling old bonds. Family get-togethers rife with  tension inspire endless novels, plays, and films skewering the underlying hypocrisy and pain.

Rome visit, June 2008 - 57Yet the enduring truth about family – be it is biological or created – is no one knows you – or rather past parts of you – better. Conversely you know them. It explains why nothing hurts worse than a searing conversation with a past lover, estranged family member, or classmate with an overly good memory (yes they exist, even in my age group :)). Wisely many of us avoid  these conversations  (not only do we suffer but we inflict suffering in return). Too often funerals drive home the painful finality of this choice. Still most of us have moved on to create new families and/or communities so we generally even survive this horrible guilt.

Listen ... Rape is a polictically volatile top...However the very items sowing the seeds of emotional terror also support the bridge to honest communication. Despite conventional wisdom – and millions spent to reinforce it – deep down no one carries more credibility than someone of our own background. (Yes, we can all name favorite pundits, celebrities, and ball players. But I said DEEP DOWN.) The same bridge(s) among us also provides refuge when things get really bad (pride be dammed) financially or emotionally. Past closeness and ever-present DNA spawn obligation deeper than the eye can fathom.

The Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco, CA a...

Its this ever present obligation – and past bonds – which prompt me to post the following election advice to old friends and classmates.

Curitiba - O candidato do PSDB, José Serra, co...
Curitiba – O candidato do PSDB, José Serra, começa oficialmente a campanha na capital do Paraná (Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, it hurts to lose campaigns. I have spent most of life supporting losing candidates and causes because either conscience (liberal) or identity (lesbian) demanded it. Afterwards I spent my free time fighting those new administration’s policies on war, poverty, or civil rights. Similarly, each year I came up with money I didn’t have to fight nearly annual  referendums designed to prevent the LGBT  community from holding jobs or keeping our families and relationships safe. I don’t begrudge the time or the money, especially since each seems to be paying off. It’s the same reasoning prompting me to respect those former friends, classmates, and family members still pushing for a conservative movement. Hopefully this mutual respect will allow us to find common areas of agreement.

However I must address a disturbingly large fringe of you. (Mind you, though, it truthfully surprises me who among you ended up on this fringe.)

Grow up people. Quash the racist imagery (you know who you are). Quit mocking poor and disabled folks (especially when some many of us remain a paycheck or diagnosis away from joining them). Quiet your inner demons demanding you see each darker skinner person as a criminal non-citizen (especially when as a child most of you resisted this temptation). None of you either came from – or even married –  the fabled 1%. Many of you – like me – lack the racial purity necessary to truly belong to Aryan Nation. Even choosing a conservative parish won’t save you when the forces behind most organized religions decided to jettison you (besides how many of you really want your life run by an Ayatollah of any stripe?).

Anti-racist-rally-Sydney-2005-Dec-18-small
Anti-racist-rally-Sydney-2005-Dec-18-small (Photo credit: Wikipedia)The world changed quite some time ago.

This election merely gave voice to the pre-existing New Diversity. Most of your children will move on to embrace it either economically (it makes good business sense) or romantically (to paraphrase a brilliant writer: “the best racial integration is horizontal” — why, it builds family). They will leave you behind much like many of us turned away from our grandparents’ overt racism. You will also find yourselves increasingly isolated both at work or online.

2011 Diversity Conference
2011 Diversity Conference (Photo credit: OregonDOT
Shh
Shh (Photo credit: Jasmine Hutcherson)

If you really can’t hold it together right now, then step away from the keyboard. Many of us are watching appalled and with growing anger.  Even if you want to cut off all our past connections, remember what you type stays somewhere. Make similarly stupid remarks at work and you will find folks scouring for other racist comments when they sue you. Most importantly, a time-out might also let you remember how we all once wanted to make the future a better place.

Paying Homage to Designers, Including the Inner Ones

Social Graphic Designer
Social Graphic Designer (Photo credit: Filimonas)

I whiled away the last hour or more on blog design. Confident a new theme, color scheme, or header picture would magically transform my blog into a high-end magazine knockoff, I grew frustrated as reality intruded. Namely, no quick set of clicks could suddenly elevate my work to match professionals. After all they poured years of sweat into learning their various trades, developing a host of innate talents, and acquiring multiple influences to inspire them.

In the past my Attention Deficit Disorder (“ADD”) inspired ineptitude would result in me tossing my hands up in despair and walking away from a host of creative projects.Day 15--Frustration My mom on seeing the “look” would tease “out, oh better let the Wookie win.” My longtime ex-partner – her already too small house littered with my failed projects – more accurately described me as lacking discipline. My ex (a gifted musician) knew with practice comes, if not perfection, at least competence. Inside I saw only a fulminating frustration destroying another set of dreams. Fortunately I have inattentive ADD so I could quickly let it go after my initial outburst. Unfortunately, this  ADD type made me forget to pick up after myself (gulp; remember I said “ex.”🙂

Our computers II
Our computers II (Photo credit: aranarth)

Then I discovered – relatively late in life – the virtual world of computers. Here I could save documents without running out of space, redesign pages without tearing them up with erasures, and manipulate hosts of objects without censure. Once again my childhood dreams of world domination resurfaced – if you follow this blog, you will see these dreams reappear on an almost weekly basis. :). Suddenly I could physically create documents resembling my inner designs. This greatly aided every job I went onto hold, whether complex or mundane, paid or unpaid. Moreover, I more easily tracked things, which previously  disappeared along with the paper scraps holding them.

Fortunately designers of all stripes helped  me to plunge feet first into this world. Each year designers made computers ridiculously easier to use and more  beautiful to view. (I have the bills to prove it.) College English professors hammered the need for structure,balance, and variety from the simplest sentences to the most complex paragraphs. (Building on the foundation the nuns laid – albeit heavy handedly – when I was a child.) Gifted designers like Robin Williams shared secrets in books like “The Non-Designers Design Book.”  (Classically boiling down the great principles  Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity to the easily remembered CRAP.)Magic Lessons

Communication
Communication (Photo credit: P Shanks)

Despite the wide variety of fields represented, all emphasized Communication. More significantly each placed the responsibility on the writer, not the reader for understanding the message. However unlike my punitive inner self flailing in frustration, each provided  methodologies and tools making it possible. Much like WordPress created an army of bloggers, these folks birthed design for the masses. Still much like a CPR class won’t turn us into heart surgeons, none of us will replace a truly gifted designer. It’s okay; the CPR class might get you to the heart surgeon, and a WordPress blog may carry your Little League team through a season.

Of course, it also means once again my ex was right. Sigh. Yet another lesson learned too late. Or maybe just learned later. Until the end, none of us can know whether something is “too late” or “just later.”Also some of us can only learn the hard way. Or ultimately my rationalization skills improved.exWives Club

Water, Water Everywhere and Not a Drop a Drink

http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/12/4715318/who-carries-their-waterwelcome.html

Dan Morain Exposes Poisoned Water – The Sacramento Bee

Well
Well (Photo credit: echiner1)

Dan Morain of the Sacramento Bee reports on the plight of those living near tainted wells in Central California. Folks there cannot (or should not) drink the tap water, open their mouths while showering, or cook with the water. Why? Tests have proven almost all the wells carry one or more toxins.Thus many residents must drive to Fresno to buy jugs of clean water. Ironically most  are  Latino farmworkers who gather the crops helping to poison these wells.

English: mexican farmworkers
English: mexican farmworkers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Morain rightly criticizes government officials and wealthy environmentalists for failing to act. Governments pass the buck (but not the money) between local and state governments.  Large agribusiness fear litigation so ferociously lobby against the few legislative efforts. Out-of-Area Environmentalists focus on replenishing entertainment areas like the Bay and Delta, or funding Third World countries‘ efforts to purify their water. In the interim, grinding poverty prevents Central Valley residents from leaving.

Many residents rightly fear developing current and future diseases. One mother even reported one of her children developing mouth cysts.

Of course as Morain rightly admits none of this is “new.”  As such most readers will just skim the story as they search for an update on the latest celebrity hookup. This indifference always blows me away since we all live together. We really have no reason to believe diseases developing from long term exposure to dangerous toxins (including soil fumigant DBCP banned since the 1970s) won’t spread like past epidemics. Photo of polio patients in iron lungs during 1...