July 27, 2015

Can You Hear Death Singing

...One of my favorite Patti songs.

Two sweet souls left the world this past week. The first, my old boss from the Office of Technology Assessment, our "supernatural, extra brilliant, intelligent, kindest of souls (to paraphrase Allen Ginsberg).Executive Director John Gibbons passed away on July 17th. I loved working there with so many intellectual, scientific, technical people. They weren't all nice, but they were at least really interesting. Most of them, though, were great. And I believe he had a lot to do with that. He encouraged open offices, lots of staff activities, and he showed up. I'll never forget the Christmas we really went overhoard. The whole agency had some kind of carnival, maybe to raise money for something. I led a mini-aerobics class, and there was Dr Gibbons, dancing away! He frequently attended the computer classes when I instructed everyone else. He left us to become the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy when President Clinton was elected, and he took a lot of key staff with him. It really never was the same after he left. And then Gingrich got his revenge and killed OTA. That's all besides the point now. Dr. Gibbons had that rare combination of high intelligence, kindness, ability to relate to anyone, and the drive to make the world a better place for generations to come. So he's gone now. The second person, I barely knew. He and his brother together were Amingo Glass. Ed's health had been declining. I admired Henry's tenderness with his brother when he brought him to doctor appointments. Their art is a testament to the best of brothers. I didn't know him well, but any time an artist passes, it's just different to me somehow. Here's a video about the brothers. Henry is the bespectacled one.

But the whole death thing. I think it started with my dad, and now, twenty years later, it seems like more and more people I know die every year. And I suppose that's the way it's supposed to be. But it makes me want to get comfortable with the idea. Intimately comfortable. I want DMT. I want to meditate on it. I want to sink into it. See it, not to control it, but to anticipate it well, like one would a vacation.

My dream death? I would be lying comfortably on my deck chair, late at night after a really hot day. Just now a cool breeze is washing over me. Heat lightening and fireflies break up the night. The clouds are playing over a full moon. The forest creatures are having a tribal jam but not so loud as they could be. It's peaceful. I'll have adjusted my attitude, calmly surveying the familiar silhouette of my trees, and I'll notice a glow coming through what looks like a green tunnel within the forest. It will seem perfectly natural to get up from my chair and walk down a glistening pebble path that wasn't there before towards the glow.... the heat lightening will intensify. The biophony will reach a crescendo. I'll feel a gentle suuuuuuccccccckkkkkkk and I'll be pulled through the tunnel, It really is green. I imagine it will take my eyes some time to adjust, my shock to subside. But when I'm centered, I'll look around and see people I used to know. I'll see some really old souls that I'd only heard about. I'll be on the Other Side and it'll be ok. It'll be sort of like going to the Fairie Festival every year and seeing those people I only see once a year, maybe, like a reunion. A permanent reunion.

Anyway, I feel very comfortable with that scenario. I just don't want it to happen real soon. I'm going to see Patti Smith in fuckin' AMSTERDAM in OCTOBER for my BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!

July 11, 2015

Beauty queens

IPageant girls. Why do they do it? I personally can't fathom what would motivate a young lady to put countless hours and energy into presenting herself to a panel of 5 judges' subjective appraisal.....to say nothing of the nerve it takes to don a tiny bikini and parade around a stage, smiling the whole time like it's perfectly natural! It sounds like the makings of a nightmare to me. Until a few years ago, my only experience with Miss America was watching the show once a year on TV, picking out a favorite, and then making not-always-flattering comments about the contestants (and now I feel embarrassed about that last part!). I can't speak for other pageants, but here's a little bit about my experiences with the Miss America Scholarship Organization, at least on the local/state level.

My education began in 2013, when my younger daughter decided she wanted to compete in a regional Miss West Virginia pageant.  Ironically, she decided this while watching that year's competition on TV.

I quickly learned that Miss America contestants, even at the most local level, have many responsibilities even before winning a title. Each young woman must develop and support a platform, beg their friends and family to donate over and over again to the Children's Miracle Network, and of course, polish their interview and talent skills. Once a title is won, the demands increase; now on top of everything else, she must attend events on behalf of her local organization as a representative of the Miss America organization. And now of course, each title holder has her eyes on the big prize: the state title!

Willa competed in her first regional pageant in West Virginia, and she placed runner up. I was skeptical of her desire to compete again. I thought that her senior year of high school would be full of enough activities, along with looking forward to college! But no. Instead, she and Pageant Dad were soon strategizing, traveling to pageant shops for dresses, practicing her walk, watching YouTube videos. And before I knew it, she was crowned Miss Potomac Highlands and she was off to Morgantown to compete in the Miss West Virginia pageant. She won the Preliminary Talent award, and was one of the semi-finalists. Again, I thought (maybe, this time) it was over. She was going to college in New York after all, a new adventure all itself.

And she didn't compete that first year of college, but she told us she missed it. She was following all the New York pageant news. It's an especially exciting era for these girls, now that the third NY girl in a row has taken the Miss America crown! Again, almost before I knew it, she and Pageant Dad were discussing workouts, gowns, and platforms.

By this time, my mostly cynical attitude towards the Miss America system had turned into cautious optimism. It certainly wasn't because of the scholarships available. I don't care how carefully you shop, money spent on pageants can quickly cancel anything won. No, it was the non-tangibles that convinced me it's all worth it.  As a teen, her distrust of girls ran pretty deep, for good reason. I was worried she'd run into the same cattiness from pageant girls as she'd experienced growing up in a small town where one girl could make another's pretty miserable. Happily, I hear far more stories of girls helping each other backstage, see them post encouraging words on each other's Facebook pages, hear them bonding over disaster instead of using them to make someone feel bad.  Sure, there are a few bitchy ones, but they tend to be in the minority, and unlike middle school where girls flock around the bully to avoid being bullied, these girls are shunned. I've actually been more concerned about a couple of the pageant directors than the girls under their charge (think "Dance Moms"), but that's another story (where is Christopher Guest when you need a mockumentary director?!)

So she won a regional title, Miss Erie Canal in November 2014. She had a busy year, with college in full swing, and now a title to support. She worked hard, did well in school, as well as fitting in voice and other coaching, supporting her new platform (Involving Young People in Politics), and making appearances as Miss Erie Canal. And of course, prepping for Miss New York!!!!

This past June, she did make it into the Top Ten out of 29 girls, a pretty big deal in a competitive state like New York. Of course we all all hoped she'd make it into the Final Five, but that was not to be; mostly we were just happy she'd progressed, and she got to participate in the entire pageant (only the Top Ten girls get to compete on the final night).

By now, my attitude towards Miss America has taken a 180 degree turn from where it was in 2013. The Miss America pageants have changed my daughter from a girl unsure of how she fits with the rest of the world into a young woman with real confidence. It's driven her to perfect her talent (classical voice), and made her more socially aware as she has worked to support her platforms. She's made some pretty cool connections, both in the pageant world and outside.

So the next time you hear about some local girl competing in a Miss America pageant, please don't roll your eyes and by all means, get that picture of her in a bathing suit out of your head! You don't know what you're looking at. Ask her, instead, what her platform is all about. Wish her good luck! And look for Willa next year (and/or check out her blog). She's coming back!

July 6, 2015

some nights... and a serious question for you wordsmiths

i could swear i was up all night dancing
but i know i was home, on my deck, staring into the woods.
i can almost feel the motion of the dancers near me but can't see their faces, almost know the music that was playing.
one morning i awoke, remembering that the night before i thought had discovered that the ink night sky was actually shiny black gift wrap that you could float up and punch holes in with your embroidery needle. and it made stars, from the light behind it. the moon was really just a hole someone had cut into it.
sitting on the deck tonight, heavy air, dark sky except for the fireflies. some asshole who can't give up the 4th of July still exploding fireworks. then he stopped and the usual suspects started jamming in the woods again. i think i could recognize the aroma of my yard from any other: petunias, honey locust, freshly cut lawn, honeysuckle.... and it changes with the season. i think i like its summer smell best, especially at night.
so last night i was writing about food. i can't figure out what the word analogous to smell/aroma, vision/visual/, hear/aural, touch/tactile is for taste? comment.

July 5, 2015

My old dog

Tonight the 12 year old love of my life
Refused to come sleep on the bed.
He's down there on the floor.
I like him to Keep my feet warm down there
And i like to touch him with my foot when I wake up in the middle of the night.
And of course I worry: is he trying to get me used to him not being there someday? 
He is a very wise, sensitive creature. 
I wouldn't put it past him.

June 10, 2015

You're not vaccinating? You're stupid.

I got this email today:
Lisa Ashelman dr.lisa.ashelman@gmail.com
9:18 PM (21 hours ago)
to Lisa
Date: Mon, 8 Jun 2015 22:20:08 -0500Subject: Fwd: The Vaccine Issue comes to Iowa - an emergency
Dear Friends,
Below is the greater part of an email my friend, Linda Hedquist,​
 received this morning concerning the need to find more attorneys to sign on to the letter requesting that California not eliminate exemptions from vaccination.
It is very scary to us​ that the state could effectively force every child to receive more and more vaccinations in years to come. This would change the whole relationship of government to healthcare. Once we accept the idea of forcing children, then more and more groups will be added to the list. This will not be restricted to children. Adults are going to be required to get vaccinated, too. There will be no escape no matter how impotent the vaccine. 
As you may have heard, for example, airlines are in talks about requiring vaccinations to board domestic flights in the US.
California's bill is the first in line right now. Many states, including Iowa, are watching what happens in California. If California goes for forced vaccination, other states are sure to follow.
The current action is to get as many lawyers to sign on to the letter mentioned below asking California not to force vaccinations. 
If you know any lawyers personally, in any state, please ask them to sign this letter. (Instructions below). Thank you!
​All The Best,Dana​.....................................................................................................................


On this link (see below) is an attorney letter to California officials expressing the  intention of attorneys throughout this  nation-a nation of 50 united states, founded on the principles life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,  to challenge the constitutionality of California bill (SB277), if passed into law,  that would dare allow a State or Federal government to force medical treatments on its citizens without their consent...which includes in this case, giving the State authority to make medical decisions (compulsory vaccination) for a child against the parents wishes in order for the child to attend private or public school. DETAILS:  There was a tsunami of 110 vaccine bills across the nation in this year's State legislatures.  One bill looms darkly on the horizon of our liberty!
We just got word from an Assemblyman in the California legislature that  SB277 which seeks to remove all philosophical and religious vaccine exemptions will be pushed forward this week. It has been requested that a strong letter from the nation's attorney arrive to the Assembly no later thatTuesday, June 9, 2015.  If passed (and it appears to be likely)  it means that all children in California except those that are seriously medically ill must be fully vaccinated in order to attend private or public schools. (fully vaccinated means 49 vaccine doses by the age of six)It is important to WHO and the CDC establishment that this one bill passes,  as it is scheduled to function as the model bill  mandating compulsory vaccinations for all children, state to state, next year.  It is to be noted that the HHS, sensing a California victory and on the heals of successfully compelling the employees of different industries (currently hospitals and teachers) to vaccinate or lose their jobs... has published, in February 2015,  a draft leading to nationwide compulsory Adult vaccinationsSee this 5 minute powerpoint:  st-jude-logo-horizontalWarns that it is the vaccinated that is endangering immuno-compromised childrenHumanity666 powerpoint presentationPlease go to this link, read the letter, see who has signed and in the next 3 days talk to attorneys, colleagues and friends of attorneys to sign up on this nationwide attorney initiative.  I rarely ask you to take action.  I am asking you now to treasure hunt at least one attorney in your sphere of influence... Eileen

http://healthfreedomaction.org/lawyers-opposed-to-california-sb-277/ ATTENTION ATTORNEYS: Email vaccinejusticecenter@gmail.com TO SIGN ON TO THE LETTERExecuted on behalf of all liberty loving attorneys byRobert Krakow_______________________________________Robert J. KrakowLaw Office of Robert J. Krakow, P.C.The Woolworth Building233 Broadway, Suite 2320New York, N.Y. 10279(212) 227-0600 (888) 449-8529 (fax)rkrakow@krakowlawfirm.com

Soo..... I wrote back:

 I think it's very scary to think that a small group of non-vaxers could threaten the health of pregnant women, their unborn babies, and people with compromised immune systems with diseases that have pretty much vanished from the US. People with cancer and the elderly are especially vulnerable.

It's  a sad fact that in a country where people spend more on their dog's health than people in the third world make their entire lives, we can't be more responsible. It's a sad symptom of upper class privilege when certain people are allowed to expose the rest of the world to their unnecessary disease, when so many in 3rd world countries die every day because they can't get vaccines. Can you imagine how disgusted they would be to find out that someone in the US refused a vaccine against a disease that kills 400  kids every day (measles)? I know I am.

Please remove me from your mailing list. I usually just report spam but, as someone who works in the health field, I can't let this slide. You people are selfish, entitled, and sadly misinformed. I suppose your little tag line "it is the vaccinated that is endangering immuno-compromised children" comes from the ridiculous notion that the vaccinated "shed" the virus. Your slide show (linked above "Humanity 666') is a disgusting scare tactic that has very few facts to support it. I would've laughed if it weren't so poorly written, and the pictures so horrid. I could blame the increased rate of mortality as children age on the fact that they've breathed more air as much as blame it on the vaccines they get. The fact that the US has a higher rate of infant mortality is more linked to pre-term births than anything else -- the US has one of the highest rates of pre-term births in the world. But you probably didn't know that , did you, because you were too busy sobbing over Ian's "allergic" reaction to his vaccine.  In fact, Ian had a lot of problems, didn't he? In fact, Ian was also allergic to antibiotics. His mother suffered from preeclampsia. He ingested meconium. He may have contracted a virus. He didn't even receive the vaccine until he was 8 days old -- and at 47 days old just as he was beginning to improve, he was accidentally administered the very antibiotic he was allergic to.  The fact that you are exploiting  this little boy's death to tell LIES and half-truths to further your agenda and POSSIBLY THREATEN OTHER CHILDRENS' LIVES is criminal. You should all be in jail.

June 8, 2015

It was supposed to be a stormy night

but it's not. I'm sitting here on my deck. It's like I can tell they're out there and I can tell they sense me. In fact I can sense their discomfort in me writing about knowing this.... The trees drip noisily, the crickets scold. It's like seeing a glow but not knowing what's making the light. The spirits or whatever they are were riding the balmy late spring air, so soothing after a stormy day. Dancing gracefully to the biophony's unearthly performance. But the music stops suddenly. Why? I wonder. Was there danger in the air? An earthquake about to crack my yard in two? No, it turns out they were just trying to agree on what song to play next, because starting with a simple high melody from the crickets, intertwining voices* of the forest joined in,  the volume magnified then fell back, the harmonies mesmerized; I started thinking about what words would go with that music. I soak in the atmosphere, admiring the honeysuckle scent, then petunias, depending on which way the breeze blew. Not a star in the sky. But fireflies. The forest took on shapes, representing the spirits in the trees. I felt them really not liking me writing about them, I really did. I took the noises in the forest personally. I believe that probably makes me a madwoman. But then there was a sharp crack just in front of the deck like a branch breaking, but there was no branch. It was not the cat. I decided to come in the house and bid all a quick goodnight.

*What is another word for "voices"? I don't want to call them voices. What is the generic word for how non-humans
speak? We refer to each species' particular voice: A dog barks. A cat meows. But isn't the word "voice" a human word? I've never heard anyone refer to a dog's sound as a voice.

June 2, 2015

Moon over

A full moon rises over the eve of our Spoutwood frolic. After a week of working and playing outdoors literally all day, I stand here now, my boots no longer planted in rich loamy farm ground - no here I am, feeling lost in the Hampton Inn's asphalt car lot, gazing for direction from Mama Moon. She is rudely framed on either side by huge neon erections advertising stores that sell fireworks. It's enough to make a country girl howl.
Still I will dream tonight of: sweet mergirls
splashing dreamily and laughing softly in Spoutwood's gentle creek, pretty boy Tinkerbells
in tutus, kaleidoscopes of color, bubbles! the delight in reunion with old friends, swarthy men in war paint trancing out on their mad drums (video by Erik Yount, Youtube), dogs with wings.

How do I say thank you for something that's so huge as the Fairie Festival? 13,500 in attendance, ya'all, but didn't it feel like more? i think it's because of the presence of the Others, felt but perhaps not seen. My mind is still whirling, images of this and that popping up into my pleasant, yet mundane, world, reminding me to take with me the spirit of Spoutwood wherever I go, something I paraphrase a Ginsberg line to describe "Holy, the extra brilliant supernatural kindness of the soul." Reminding me to be inclusive, compassionate, and aware... it wasn't lost on any of us that as we prepared for our Spoutwood frolic, turmoil was just south of us in Baltimore. Wishing we could pack up all the kids from down there and bring them to the world of Spoutwood if only for a day, and then wishing the same for children everywhere, and those adults who need so desperately to find the child within. And they're not the only ones.