Place of Refuge

Place of Refuge

30 September 2012

An ode to the upcoming debates

( blog.nj )

There is nothing either good or bad,
but thinking makes it so. . . 
(Hamlet  II:ii)

Words are thoughts;
thought-words, things
that build apparitions
of what might be.
Thought-words can create
possibility or
they can destroy

Hold your thoughts,
and mold them well
before you deliver them
into the air.  Those
castles built
might build despair

So may it be.

Talk to me --
and not of me.
Truth is best found
in the space
of silent greetings,
and cordial meetings.

walking to the eternal flame: Western New York, late September

It's been a way too busy time for me lately,
and I had to do something magical,
like take a walk
in nature.

My partner found the perfect place to take me,
a place that borders on the magical:

we walked to see an
eternal flame.

And here is what we saw along the way:

the sound on my camera
is broken,
from having dropped it into similar brooks
one time too many:

. . . Now, at this point, you may think:
What's the big deal?
This is just a walk in the woods.
And that was what I thought too,
until I saw this:

(I'm sorry to say I can't get Blogger to accept
the film I made myself, though
I have now processed it in a number of ways.
Good ol' Blogger.
So I'm borrowing this film from YouTube.
At least this one has sound!)

If it appears to you that this flame is burning behind water,
you're absolutely correct.  
This is a natural methane leak
right inside a water fall,
and the result is,
quite elemental.

Here it is, in winter,
with more water:

Well, that truly made my weekend perfect.
I walked away looking
for elves and fairies,
while approaching children squealed in anticipation
of the magic
just up beyond the bend.

May you all have a magical week.

(except for the YouTube video, all photos and film by me.)

26 September 2012

Vanity Sizing and the American Psyche

Sometime between 1999 and 2004, a miracle happened to me: 
I shrank.
In 1999, before I moved from the U.S.A. to Turkey,
I went to the doctor, and weighed in at around 148 pounds,
 5' 10" tall.
When I went to the mall to buy some pants for my move,
I bought a size 12.  I have wide hips.
The width of my hips was always a bit of an issue with me,
and as a younger woman I did stupid things to slenderize,
but then I decided that I had to accept that
my bone structure can't be changed.
And that was that: size 12 pants,
size 10 dress.
A comfortable, but slightly tall
Out the door, I carried clothes made of real cotton
that I still own.

And then I moved away.
In Turkey, I did not shrink,
I remained the same size,
and my skin became paler.
But the first time I bought clothes back in the States,
about a year later,
I was amazed that I was buying
size 10 pants.
A few months later, in the USA, I was a comfortable
size 8, and by 2003 or so
I actually bought a size 6 pants in the USA.
I wish I could show them to you,
but they were really flimsy and feel apart.

America, you see, is the land of miracles:
as long as I was buying my clothes in the States,
I was shrinking.
I could ignore the scale, 
which hadn't budged,
nor had a shrunk in any other proportion.
It was all perception, after all.
I was shrinking.
The closet proclaimed it to me defiantly,
on every tag declaring my new size:
my ass was narrower,
my boobs more modest,  my waist
wasting away.

( from: listxsadist )

Well, if I wanted to be delusional,
I could believe that, but
I've never been one to favor
that frame of mind.
I prefer
the raw, cold truth,
even if it means acknowledging
things like my increasing varicosities.
In the end, I feel it makes life
a little easier.
At the time,
I suspected that there was a conspiracy afoot
to maintain America's delusion
that they weren't getting fatter,
and this morning as I woke up again
to my trusty radio, 
I heard a story that confirmed 
precisely what I had been thinking.

(photo and story at 

Vanity sizing:
the latest, greatest
American tall tale,
designed to keep the clothes
moving off the racks.
This is what one of the women said
on the radio, in her lilting, lovely
Indian accent.
When Americans kept getting fatter,
and the sizes remained the same,
the clothes stopped selling.
The clothing industry, then,
came up with this brilliant idea:
make a size 6 bigger, and
make a size 6 a size 00,
and lead the consumer to believe
they were still as svelte as a model,
even if they no longer fit
into normal-sized movie theatre seats.

I guess the statement that put me over the edge, though,
was this:
the interviewer asked the woman
with the lilting, lovely Indian accent
if this was ethical:
aren't we lying to the public?
And she replied:
It's not really a lie,
if the public wants to be lied to.

Ah, indeed, the logic of it sent my mind reeling,
among other things, I thought:
is this the attitude that the rest of the world  has
about the average American?
That we are complacent, stupid, fat people
in denial about what we really are?

And then I thought:
yes, of course.  That is what the world thinks of us.
I've lived abroad;
I've traveled a lot;
I've seen the attitude towards Americans change,
and that change began when the American public
voted George W. Bush into office
a second time.

It's not really a lie,
if the public wants to be lied to.

( from nmnnewsandviews )

Just minutes before this story,
on NPR this morning,
I had listened to a speech from Mitt Romney,
given in Ohio.  Mitt Romney, declaring
that he will make more jobs, trim down the government,
and be a better international face for America ~ ~ ~

It's not really a lie,
if the public wants to be lied to.

It's the logic of the cheating lover
as he hands his spouse some flowers
and tells her that he loves her
before slipping off to see his concubine ~ ~ ~

It's not really a lie,
if the person wants to be lied to.

It's the logic of the boss,
who gives his employees a modest raise,
telling them that he would love to give them more,
but the firm is struggling so much,
and then buys himself a new private Leer jet ~ ~ ~

not really a lie. . . 
they wanted to be lied to. . . 

In the story about Mitt Romney they interviewed
a woman in rural Ohio,
who I'll bet is a size 6 or maybe even a 4,
and she said her only gripe with Mitt Romney is that
he isn't coming down harder on President Obama:

He should be saying it more like it is, and saying it loud,
she said,
Romney's been too polite;
he should not be so polite to Obama!

In other words, she would like to hear Mitt Romney screaming
that Barack Obama has done nothing for America,
that the woes of America are Obama's fault,
that Obama was born in Timbuktu,
that his mother wasn't a white woman from the mid-west,
. . . . .
She wants to hear it again and again,
and she wants to hear it screamed loud and long,
because she wants to be lied to,
because that will help her confirm her own beliefs
that a smart black man should not remain
in the highest office in the nation.

It's not really a lie
if you want to be lied to.

And if she and all the rest of working or
middle class G.O.P. America want to believe
that a wealthy millionaire businessman
really cares for her goodwill,
she can and she will,
as she sits in front of her 48" wide
flat screen TV,
watching the Simpsons,
which she feels comes closest to being like reality to her,
and eating burgers and chips,
in her size 6 jeans.

. . . not really a lie . . . 

(Oh, Romney assures us,
don't worry; we'll still have
Medicare . . . )

Vanity sizing, in the end,
sums up what is wrong with America.
And we hear about vanity sizing,
but still nothing is done about it.
Because we want to be lied to.
Because the truth might mean
that we have to do something about it.

( from runsleeprinserepeat )

I guess there's one good thing we can say about this:
as long as people are still lying,
the world will not end
anytime soon.

Or else that's what we want to believe.

Hamlet: In the secret parts of Fortune? O, most true! She is a strumpet. What's the news?
Rosencrantz: None, my lord, but that the world's grown honest.
Hamlet: Then is doomsday near.

    ( Hamlet II:ii )

    21 September 2012

    Flashback Queen

    ( from: proaudiostar )

    It seizes the brain and numbs
    the soul;
    makes the living breathing world
    a hell.

    Fingers, too,
    and hands and feet
    belong to another,
    but still persist and do their duties

    longing to touch again, and truly feel
    longing to make contact
    with reality.

    It will come; it will come--
    this curtained world has passed before,
    and the waking is so beautiful,
    but how I want my life to be
    a continual display
    of beauty.

    But to do that would be to 
    obliterate memory.

    And that's impossible.

    So I go on, still
    a flashback queen,

    that's me.

    17 September 2012

    Antietum: Bloody Road

    I woke up this morning to a story on NPR about
    The Battle of Antietum, which occurred
    September 17, 1862.
    As I listened, my mind began to compose
    some loose lines and contemplations:

    (picture from NPR website; entire story at the link.)


    Antietum --
    your innocent lands
    still recall the
    men whose blood you drank 
    when they collided, driven by devotion to each
    his own's belief in personal liberty:

    Some, believing in freedom to all,
                                   no matter their color
                                            or vessel for arriving
                                                         on America's shores.
    Some, believing that the dark and enslaved
                                         were less than men,
                                                           and, as such,
                                                       deserved to remain so as they served
                                                      the economy of tobacco.

    Antietum --
    two forces clashed in a 
    Bloody Road, each force driven
    by his own idea,
    a whisper,
    a thought.
    Thousands lost
    their lives; the idea
    of equality ruled,
    and history turned
    towards liberation.

    (from: )

    So sad we no longer care
    for history.   So sad
    we no longer require
    our youth to learn
    to embody the lessons
    of our heredity.  Instead,
    we barely teach them
    to get by; we teach to take a test,
    then hurry home filled
    with forgetfulness, anticipating
    for the next episode of Jersey Shore,
    or the next gossipy tweet.

    ( from: blogofshame )

    History cannot be tweeted,
    but history MUST be known,
    as we stand today on the brink
    of another ideological fissure,
    right now embodied in
    a battle over who should run
    this land:
    a Black Man
    a Mormon;

    a Son of Slaves and Idealistic Liberals,
    a Son of Those Who Believe America is
    The Promised Land.

    But what promise is this?
    Where guns are hidden and

    divisions are bitter,
    the Bloody Road may be
    just beyond the bend.

    Our history can tell us how
    to avoid it, and recent memory
    of murdered diplomat,
    a murder driven by 
    to detail can stand 
    as omen.

    We have 
    no time to lose;
    the only answer is to restore
    our public memory,
    and with it, our ability to choose, 
    and our integrity.

    04 September 2012

    A Diva To Remember: Gilda Radner

    As I approach the upcoming school year,
    I turned to a pro for inspiration.

    Have a great week!

    03 September 2012

    Labor Days Ahead


    the garden goddess is overwhelmed by the height of summer,
    and I,
    am returning to teaching
    after a long sabbatical.



    Much of my word energy over the past few months has gone
    to an article I am writing about
    how No Child Left Behind
    and other educational reforms
    have created a generation of American college students
    who are way far behind.

    Tomorrow, I head back to classrooms full of 'em again.

    My particular focus is on student writing.
    Believe me, it's very difficult to teach writing
    when you'd rather be writing.

    I can theorize away about the problem,
    but when faced with a class full of angry young people,
    my words, and skills, wain.
    Because these students are ANGRY.

    Our youth KNOW they have not been educated.
    They KNOW it's all been a farce,
    and they are amused by teachers 
    and administrators
    who perpetuate it.

    By their first year of university, in fact,
    they expect all teachers to be overworked to a point that the students simply are spoonfed
    what they need to know to pass the test.
    So these dear untutored and undisciplined students get angry
    when a teacher actually asks them to be responsible for their own learning.

    I don't blame them,
    or their teachers,
    but I sure have my theories
    on who to blame.

    Hold on tight --
    I may vent here.

    this Labor Day night,
    my thoughts and prayers go out to all
    the teachers in the world,
    burdened by testing and assessments so overwhelming
    that they get in the way
    of teaching.