Life is Beautiful — Wine and Cheese (Doodles)

More timely words from our pal Dina Honour. She is saying the things I can’t even, just yet.

While in Prague recently, friends and I toured the Jewish Quarter. We stood among thousands of crooked and wilting headstones dating back to the 15th century. We silently absorbed the names of the 80,000 written in simple script upon wall after wall. Prague Jews who never returned home. We toured the Spanish Synagogue and meandered through a well […]

via Life is Beautiful — Wine and Cheese (Doodles)

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An Open Letter to Women — Wine and Cheese (Doodles)

More wise and exhausted but necessary words from our buddy Dina Honour over at Wine and Cheese (Doodles). Dina, I’m #WithYou!

Dear Women: I didn’t choose this fight. This fight chose me the moment I was born and the doctor announced “It’s a girl!” Trust me, my life would have been a lot easier, my voice less hoarse, my husband less harassed if the damn ERA had passed the first time and we were done with […]

via An Open Letter to Women — Wine and Cheese (Doodles)

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When You Are Feeling Outnumbered

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Today is Veteran’s Day, commemorating the end of the War to End All Wars. If you don’t know much about World War I, I strongly recommend two books: Barbara Tuchman’s Guns of August, nonfiction about how we got from the end of 1910 through the first 30 days of the war; and Jeffrey Shaara’s, To the Last Man, a fictional account that shows how people from the bottom to the top of the military and political establishments throughout Europe on both sides made the devastating and heroic and deadly decisions that the war forced on them

War is a bizarre human endeavor that brings out the worst and the best of the people engaged in it on both sides. And our poets help us make sense of it. So in the troubled days ahead of us now (please, God, not including war), when you feel embattled and outnumbered, remember what Shakespeare gave us in Henry V, Act IV Scene III: 18-67.

 

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!
.
KING. What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin, Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.

.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.

.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.

.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”

.
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words—
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.

.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered–
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

In which I’m still here and nothing is okay

Some hard thoughts from our pal Luther Stiler.

Infinitefreetime.com

lgbt_lifeWell.

Got that one wrong.

Like a lot of white people, I keep wanting to write things like “I did not realize I lived in a country this hateful.”  I already Tweeted that my main mistake was underestimating the number of assholes in America.  I genuinely didn’t think there were enough white assholes to elect Trump.  That right there is a failure of empathy on my part; people of color and LGBTQ people and any number of others who aren’t straight cis white people have been telling us this for years, and while I thought I was listening I clearly wasn’t.  America isn’t any different from what it was a few days ago.  There’s just a whole lot of white people who can’t deny what America is any longer.  The proof just got rubbed in our faces; it’s going to keep getting rubbed in our faces repeatedly for the…

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In Retrospect

So this is the poem I wrote about voting on Tuesday, or actually, waiting in the playground before we got into the school to vote: anticipation.

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Election Morning, Nov. 8, 2016

Alexander Hamilton Elementary School

 

Bodies order themselves in circles, concentric,

The newest arrivals on the inside, protected:

One step forward. Stand. Watch each others’

Nervous faces, watch the selfies on this

Historic morning. Another step forward. Stand.

 

This election has kept us guessing, neither able

To watch this boor go up against this white-clad

Suffragette, nor able to look away, alas.

One embraces the thought of war—he’s a fan,

Apparently; the other considers him deplorable.

 

The circle moves incrementally, a lazy dragon

Shifting forward one step at a time, waiting to take

A stand on the issues, to fill in small ovals

With a black marker on a slightly shielded shaky

Table. But not yet. For now, take a step forward.

 

Stand. I hear a woman say, “This is like that

Catholic thing in the garden.” Oh yes. The living

Rosary. People stand in a circle, each saying on prayer

To our mother to save us. Three rounds: Joyful,

Sorrowful, Glorious mysteries. Pray for us sinners.

 

Yes, this is a circle like that one. Taking a step forward.

Standing. Remembering the joys and sorrows of

The last eight years. Hoping against hope for glory

To come. Twelve hours later we sit and wait for hope

And unity to win, take another step forward, stand.

 

When Stories Make Us Stronger

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2004) started as a horror-comedy TV show to make fun all the angst we went through in high school. As it gained popularity, and the writers and showrunner Joss Whedon got into their groove, it turned into a popular culture phenomenon with lessons about loving teamwork, sharing power, and having the courage of one’s convictions. It was about female power, strength and leadership, and most of all the redemptive power of love, friendship and community.

So maybe it is no surprise that nineteen years after the episode “Amends” aired, I saw my friend on Facebook saying, “It strikes me that there’s a Buffy episode about today… the one where she has a soliloquy on the work never ending. I forget which.”

I responded, “Amends.” And posted the following quote:

Buffy: You’re weak. Everybody is. Everybody fails. Maybe this evil did bring you back, but if it did, it’s because it needs you. And that means that you can hurt it. Angel, you have the power to do real good, to make amends. …Strong is fighting! It’s hard, and it’s painful, and it’s every day. It’s what we have to do. And we can do it together.

My friend replied, “Shouldn’t this be your status today? And for all time?”

She’s not wrong. That quote comes from the middle of Season 3, when Angel, after having been turned evil, slayed by Buffy, sent to a demon dimension and then sent back by the Powers that Be, is trying to attempt suicide by sunlight, and Buffy tries to stop him. Then snow comes to Sunnydale, California’s Christmas morning and he doesn’t die, but rather continues to work for good.

The problem is, that this is a situation where she is fighting a friend to get him to fight for people’s safety. Previously, at the end of Season 2, when Angel was still evil and before Buffy had dredged up the guts to kill him and save the world, she is confronted by a neutral demon who is trying to help her. In a voice over, he says:

Whistler: Bottom line is even if you see ’em coming, you’re not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So, what, are we helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come, can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.

That is where we are today, in the middle of a big moment, with a cascade of big moments ready to attempt to engulf us in the weeks and months to come. My friends—sad, terrified, ashamed of our brother and sister Americans who apparently hate us and want to strip us of our rights and safety—are trying today to take a ragged breath, wipe away their own tears and those of their friends and children, and get ready to take a stand. Count. Find out who we are.

So thank you, Joss Whedon. Your stories will help us to do it.

NaNoWriMo: Nation over Novel

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So yesterday I was struggling to write a blogpost about how we need to vote to avoid turning this country into an English-speaking version of 1930s Italy or Germany, how if we fail our country now, we are both figuratively and literally screwed, all our buried racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia, all our buried shit will come up from where it has been buried for so long and will be turned into public policy.

I am a student of history. I know how that sort of thing turns out.

And I was trying to write this, I found it easier to write about writing, something neutral and safe. But I am a writer and I cannot stay neutral and safe. Yesterday on Facebook, I put out a post saying this:

“Well, even if Wednesday does not begin with a hail of jackboots, we have our work cut out for us trying to unfuck this country from its toxic political discourse and the reality of recharged institutional oppressions. Where do we even begin?”

And while many of my friends focused on my (apparently) original use of the verb “unfuck,” my old friend Jack Reynolds wrote the following:

“Where to begin? Create things of beauty; art, music, poetry, food. Step out of comfort zones with small acts of kindness, not random unplanned ones but something to do everyday. Smile. Tell a joke. Give compliments. Break bread (gluten free if needed) with others and find out what makes them tick. As Dan Berrigan once said “Lets tell the truth to each other and see what happens.” Make community. Don’t search for it, make it or it’ll never happen. Smile. Take quiet time and not take ourselves too serious. Take others seriously. Be grateful for any and all things that are beautiful and unearned and are gifts. I heard a sailor say that you can’t control the wind but you can control the sail.”

He is wise.

So I thought I would write a poem to give us hope, because I seriously believe that this is a huge part of what art is for. So this is my offering to you and to God and whatever other gods might be out there: for sanity and liberty and the hope that this country stands for.

Election Eve, November 7, 2016

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live…” Deuteronomy 30:19-20

 

The moon is half-and-half tonight, like

A mitzpah coin holding out its promise:

That this is not some space-opera dystopia,

Where the creepy demagogue wanna-be

Is going to shoot down the moon, leave

All our tides raging out of control, our seas

Washing their bloody waves, troughing through

Our silent, ravaged, grey cities. No. Never.

 

The moon will remain to govern all our tides,

Those of water, those of blood: like clockwork.

The shining silver half-coin will grow to full,

Showing that we shall be together, not long hence,

With what this country was always meant to be:

The melted alloy of many elements, the gift given,

The promise kept: that we are stronger together,

And together we can heal all the broken pieces.

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