Yes, He’s Our President

We are all reeling after the January 20th inauguration. It happens to be my birthday! I celebrated with my kids and spoke with the other ones. I rejoiced that I have 3 adult children, two in their 40’s and one in her late 30’s, doing extremely well in their lives with loved and loving significant others, homes and jobs they adore and lives that reflect some measure of maturity and accomplishment. I can think of no other greater birthday present. My oldest with my son-in-law took me out to eat at a local neighborhood favorite place, we talked and shared with 2 of their friends who are also friends of mine, and they gave me a bag of wonderful goodies that will brighten my life and my home. Hugs and kisses all round.

Still, the pall of the last year culminating with the election of what I describe as a mentally ill clown with serious ability to create great damage, has hung over me and everyone else like a cloud. Today’s woman’s rallies, (with supportive men as well, of course) stretched across the globe. Here in Chicago we had over a quarter million people downtown–they clogged the entire downtown area and forced them to cancel the rally. It was just too many people. The point was made. We aren’t going to take this lying down! We’ve put that pussy snatcher on notice!

Yet…yet…I am still depressed about it all. The immediate signing to rescind Obama care is a warning bell that is clanging much louder than I would like. It is the introduction to a season when the needs and requirements of the hard-pressed, hard working middle class and poor will be ignored and spit on. When the “entitlements” which are the social contract put into place by FDR so many years ago will be wiped out. When many will die because they cannot receive the health care they need, even though we live in a country where our doctors and health care professionals, our hospitals and our diagnostic and treatment tools are the best in the world. The outrage and the despair walk side by side–I careen from one to the other, but ultimately I find myself in despair. At my age, 68, I am not about to rush out and get angry in the streets. I avoid crowds as an introspective writer. I’ve found the Chicago political scene crazed, frustrating and cruel. So what to do? Take pen to paper, it seems and begin doing my blog once again, because, as my mother once told me as a child, “the pen is mightier than the sword.”

And so it is.

 

 

On Sarcasm

 

 “Sarcastic: scornful, contemptuous, withering, cynical, satiric, ironical, sardonic. See: ridicule; DISRESPECT.”

Roget’s Thesaurus

 I often enjoy and laugh with love or appreciation, at least, when sarcasm and cynicism are expressed by other people—(usually in writing, sometimes in conversation), though rarely when I am having a good talk with a friend or someone I’d like to get to know. As a daily relational expression, it doesn’t work for me. It’s really hard to have a good conversation with someone if they are being sarcastic and you are being sincere. You either have to adopt sarcasm (read: defensiveness) or leave the conversation. It can be annoying.

It’s also mean to be sarcastic with someone who is sincerely trying to share something with you. How far can you get if a friend is sharing her grief over the loss of a boyfriend and you are sarcastically blowing her off with offhanded remarks? She won’t appreciate it unless she believes that somehow your sarcasm is really an expression of how much you care and that this is a sign of how your group operates in the midst of emotional turmoil. At my age and stage in life I find I simply do not have the time to wade through some else’s hidden motivations in the midst of conversation. I’d like to feel their support up front, not have to guess by picking through the morass of derisive and caustic reactions. To some this may be delightful. I posit they are predominantly the young. We expect our young to be cynical, it’s their imitation of maturity. As we grow and evolve, the goal is to drop all that baggage. As Robert Bly once said, “we spend the first half of life putting things into the bag and the second half of life taking things out.” We all know how ugly an old sarcastic individual can be. Someone who carries that much armor and defense around at a late stage in life is not an attractive person to witness or be with.

Either way, sarcasm, unless everyone present is being sarcastic, tends to be a conversation killer and a distancing device. I think it comes from FEAR: 1) You fear not being cool so you act like you don’t give a shit about anything 2) You fear the underlying emotions of whatever is being shared or expressed. Either way, sarcasm, to me, kills genuine flow. Unless the parties agree that everyone views life from that POV–sarcastically; derisively, it can really be alienating. I think it also comes from disappointed idealism–people who are always sarcastic are people who have lost hope that things will be better than they are. I am from the Boomer generation and my memories of being young are tied up with tremendous (if misguided) idealism and hope. We really thought we could change the world and make it a better place. We did and did not succeed. The history of the 60’s are filled with triumphs and failures, but I am sure nothing would have been accomplished if we had dismissed the possibility of a better future for ourselves and others with a sarcastic and cynical ennui that excused us from even trying. We were, quite simply, idealists. We were sincere in our self-expression. Some of that sincerity came from being protected and naïve, I grant you that, but we retained a childlike response to life and I cherish that.

I continue to live a life guided by a strong sense of the childlike because that is what keeps my creative process and my artistic impulses flowing. I remember striving always for honesty. I still do. Not just integrity and doing right, but being honest with people in my day-to-day interactions. This past idealism, the hope of our childhood and youth has produced in me and many others of my age the ability to be shocked at the cleverness and cynicism of our politicians and our government, our businesses and our institutions. I know not everyone has honesty and integrity upfront as their guidelines, but the lengths to which people and institutions in power have gone to lie and cheat and steal–the sheer mendacity of their actions–completely blows my mind still, to this day, and I survived Nixon.

The only way to assail this kind of abuse of the human condition is to go at it with scrupulousness, and demand that leaders and businesses and institutions that govern us and control our daily lives come clean about their hidden agendas. I see nothing wrong with that. We cannot do this if we are engaged in derision and contemptuous scorn for life–it must come from a strong and real belief that there is an essential goodness to people and we must demand it from our leaders. Sarcasm is a symptom of a lack of hope– it is dishonest because the person denies real feelings in favor of brushing things off or in favor of appearing uncaring and cool. If you are busy being uncaring and cool you simply don’t have the time or will to unmask the decision-makers, who are way beyond uncaring and cool and have graduated into cruelty, manipulation and destruction.

The danger of sarcasm and cynicism as a daily dose, if practiced for long enough, is that it produces a lack of love and compassion. A young person who sneers at life becomes an elder who manipulates the marketplace and commodifies every piece of information for his or her own gain. Yet I know many compassionate, loving people who are sarcastic. They hide truly wonderful, caring natures and they are often there for people they love in tangible ways, although they would be the last to admit it. However, I do believe that in the midst of being sarcastic and cynical, it is really hard, if not impossible, to also be compassionate and loving simultaneously. The two states are mutually exclusive–sarcasm and compassion. We have to be willing to be tender, to be soft, to be open to ourselves in order to be open to the true nature of another. This takes bravery and courage–a coward never faces pain in himself or someone else.

In the annals of literature, many great writers, whom I have loved and continue to love, expressed an incredibly cynical view of life, but somewhere, somehow, the greats always managed to pull out of this with a character or a sequence that rises above the ordinary defensiveness that human beings have developed to protect themselves from vulnerability.

Vulnerability. That is really the crux of the discussion. I feel that we, as humans, have developed all sorts of elaborate techniques to hide from ourselves and others who we sincerely are: vulnerable humans who are going to die. We are exposed, frail beings who get hurt and lost and fearful and wonder about the meaning of it all. The only recourse against the tide of dismissal is to embrace the acceptance of both the pain and the miracle of life. In doing so we are becoming a part of that miracle and that will activate a new kind of power.

 

 images (1)

 

Easter Thoughts

What does Easter mean to you? I don’t know what it means to me, honestly. I grew up a Jew, so Easter was the holiday where all my friends got dressed in their beautiful, pastel and colorful Easter clothes and went to church. In those days we wore white gloves with our dress coats–I had a beautiful gray dress coat and white gloves. That was the coat I wore to temple on Friday nights–Family night was once a month. However, I knew nothing about what Easter meant because my mother wouldn’t allow me to study or read anything about Jesus, or Christ or the Christian religion. I was seven when I brought home a little book from the school library, The Story of Jesus. My mother went ballistic and told me we are Jews and we didn’t study things about Jesus ( she didn’t call him Christ) and she made me take the book back to the library the next day. I returned it to our librarian, who unfortunately lived up to the stereotype of the grouchy, white hair in a bun spinster many librarians were in those days. She pursed her lips and looked at me as the heathen I was. It was actually a sweet little book and I was intrigued about the baby Jesus.

Many, many years later I spent twenty years as a Christian studying the new testament from a more mystical but also detailed point of view, and I had a kind of epiphany. No, I did not become a born again Christian or join a cult, although me and the kids attended Unity Church, a metaphysical Church, for many years, (we also kept going to temple and my son had a Bar Mitzvah in that period of time), but then I realized that the Buddhist and Zen approach to life and practice more suited me, my spiritual values and outlook and my temperament. I will not reveal here what my epiphany was because it is so politically incorrect that some might call me an anti-Semite even though my ancestors in this life are “Semites,” whatever that means. I will leave that epiphany for another time, when I am just about to kick off the earth plane. As for now, I have no need to share it, but I am pretty sure that the Jesus story, some of which I am sure is historical, was the cause of a major rift in the human species that continues to this day, and if the Jewish people don’t embrace reincarnation and the realization that they have been everything at one time or another, the fight in Middle East will continue until Global Warming stops the whole damn thing, which I am pretty safe in saying will happen fairly soon.

I am grateful for the fact that I can call myself a Jewish, Buddhist, Christian Astrologer and I see no problem with holding all of those religions and philosophies all together in one person. I can have two opposing ideas in my head at the same time actually–however these religions, philosophies, stories, inventions or science of mind as the Dali Lama says Buddhism really is, are not a dialectic but the roundabout storytelling about why we are here that the human species has been telling itself for a very long time. The Jesus Story, the Buddha Story, the Mohammed Story, the Moses Story, the Abraham Story–these are all incredible and insightful parables and their historical significance or reality is just not important. I take what works for me from each story and move on. Many people think this makes me a dilettante, but I could care less.

I see truth in just about everything and falsehood in just about everything. Fortunately I have good critical thinking faculties and I can give myself permission to take a bite of enchilada without obligating myself to eat the whole damn thing. A small bit of the Christian enchilada, the Jewish enchilada and a big bite of Buddhist enchilada mixed with astrology and mystical studies: mix, stir and eat! Yum! A really full and rich spiritual meal. Alan Watts used to call himself a “spiritual entertainer” and I call myself a spiritual salad–all the ingredients are necessary to make a really full and rich meal out of a salad such as this, and boy, do I enjoy it! I believe in the Angelic Hierarchy, I have guardian angels and spirit guides and writing angels (thank you, guys!) and my music angel is–well–he’s an angel! I’ve had angelic intervention several times in my life and it has saved my life a few times. Other times it has given me the strength to go on when I felt all was lost. And that is what I am getting to today, Easter, 2014. I took my morning walk, got my morning cuppa joe and sat in the little Monument park a block from my space. The gentle breeze, the warmth of a gorgeous April day, so welcome after the Arctic Vortex Winter from Hell, warmed me, and depressed though I was, I was able to re-address the day and get to gratitude for being alive. I find, more and more, that this exercise is absolutely essential for me on a daily basis. I just don’t wake up feeling all that great and unless I meditate and do something tangible to touch something spiritual inside of me, I am going to be walking around day after day depressed, miserable and filled with self-pity.

I have to confess I really do not know or understand the Easter revelation. Something about how Jesus rose from the dead and came back to disciples to show them that, indeed, life is eternal and there is no such thing as death? I don’t care whether I or anyone else believes this or it is true or not. It can or cannot be true; that is irrelevant. What matters is that we understand that life is eternal, that there is no such thing as “death” of the essential essence that is the human spirit. The body dies, yes. The personality is scattered off into the ether, the perspective (I imagine) widens and deepens, we get to see the whole panorama of personalities and lives we’ve lived and others have lived and the groups and people we’ve lived these lives with. Why is that portal closed to us while in our bodies? Precious few of us ever have the privilege of glimpsing former lives in detail without great effort and much doubt as to whether what we’ve accessed is even true or just the remnants of stories told to us, our subconscious, our imagination, who knows? Reincarnation cannot be “proved” in the empirical world. It really demands faith.

Faith. What a word. It sure has a bad rep in our pragmatic world. We’ve divided down the middle humanity: people of faith and religion and people who are scientific and rational. I love science and I consider myself pragmatic and rational and I believe in Darwin, and yet I also have Faith! That makes me a true iconoclast I guess. I fit with no group. Buddhism is not a religion, it a science of mind, and it does not encourage faith at all. Christianity appears crazy and irrational at times to me, and it requires faith in things I find ridiculous. I’ve had to tread a path of my own, I guess, that combines an understanding of things that cannot be proved alongside the beauty of empirical science. In fact, the deeper I go into the science of the universe, both the macro and the micro levels of it, the more I realize that some sort of intelligence runs through all of it. That’s all I can say. So for me, Easter is about understanding that Intelligence as it incarnated in the personhood of Jesus. He came to upgrade the human approach to life on earth and precious few understood his message. The Church and all of its offshoots sure didn’t and doesn’t. The Jews turned their back on it and continue to do so. Other religions try to ignore it. So where are we?

If Jesus came back to earth today, what would he say?

How to Feel Bad and Look Good

How to Feel Bad and Look Good

Feeling bad and looking good is an art form. Doing it while you are at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder is doubly hard! How to do? The red top is from the Gap a million years ago–it was probably around $30. The necklace I just got from Target–it was $10. The earrings are from Wolfbait and B Girls–a local artist’s and designers consignment shop. There were around $38 with my generous (Thank you girls!) “neighborhood discount.” You cannot see my bottom but I am wearing a wonderful graphic black and white skirt from Target–$25. The tights are from American Apparel–around $18. The socks from who knows where? The hair–mom and dad! The rain helped the curls come out so there is some advantage to living in the city that has the worst weather IN THE WORLD bar none, except maybe Lodz, Poland or somewhere in the beleaguered Ukraine.

Speaking of Ukraine, Putin will dive in next to wipe them out of their illusions of freedom; the Crimea was just an appetizer. So after he got his muscle back from the Olympics he wants to flex, doesn’t he? I would like to guide you, invite you, entreat you– to read my story in the short story section. This deals with the Putin phenom a few years back, when he murdered Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian journalist and activist who openly opposed the Chechen conflict and Putin as well. She reported unflinchingly from Chechnya, but it seems that was just a warmup for present events. I wonder what her ghost is saying now!

Click to access a-dirty-death4.pdf

At any event, what has this to do with beauty, design, clothing, fashion and me? Not a whole lot, but I just feel better when I look better, even when I am feeling bad. Perhaps it is from my mother who died at age 61 dressed in a silk blouse and pearls. Perhaps it is the “egoic self” as Eckart Tolle would surely label it, perhaps it is insecurity, or too much obsession with the superficial or god knows, whatever! I think it’s just fun! I tell people I am a  flower. You don’t ask a flower why does he or she look good or wonderful or pretty or colorful do you? A flower is just a flower! It blooms, it flowers, it enjoys the moment. I don’t question that for myself. I love color, I love fashion and putting things together, I love using my body and my hair and my face as my palette–it is all I’ve got, after all! So for me, I am the canvas which I paint each and every day–no matter how hard it is or how bad I feel! I mean, today I have a bad cold I got from my daughter’s dog Lolie, who I stayed with for 5 days while she was out in LA visiting my son-in-law who is working on this wonderful new show on Amazon with Jill Soloway entitled Transparent. Watch the pilot–it is stellar!

SO, anyway, there I was in her wonderful beautiful apartment with this rather demanding, unaffectionate, finicky old dog that poops and pees all over the place numerous times no matter how much I take her out, who is curmudgeonly, grumpy and often unfriendly! She has a way of getting right underneath your feet to let you know she’s there but when you go to pet her she backs away like you are about to hit her. She’s got the demand and guilt inducing behavior pattern right down. And then when you are asleep she poops in the dining room or the living room, even though I was taking her out 4 times a day! OY. Meanwhile, this stay she was sneezing, sneezing, sneezing and coughing and chuffing and coughing and chuffing–and yes, I got her cold. Then I got sick and the two of us were a right nasty pair of grumpy old women. I feel for her. She’s 80 or 90-something and Lord knows, I probably won’t live that long, but if i did, knowing my “glass is half empty” mentality, I’d be a grumpy old woman too. However, it doesn’t make it any easier that the lovely apartment is at the top of the building–that I like–up 3 double flights of 45 degree inclined stairs. Up and down. Up and down. Please don’t tell me this is good exercise. I already know. But it does get tiring. This morning I packed up and said our goodbyes and came home, turned on my humidifier and got dressed up to take a picture for this blog!

Why?

I say WHY NOT?

Of course, the Dalai Lama or Pema Chodron, my role models and mentors, are not dressing up in earrings and spaghetti straps are they? I am. What kind of Buddhist am I? I chastise myself, but to no avail. I am the kind of Buddhist who likes to dress up and smile for the camera.

quello e appena il modo che e.

That’s just the way it is.

Tiger Woman is Born

Photo on 2014-02-27 at 13.59Subtitle: Honesty or Self Sabotage?

I never know whether the tiger in my tank causes me to rant and rave inappropriately because I am a self sabotaging whining kvetcher who can’t hold her tongue and control her mouth, or if I am really unleashing the honest stuff about what I am seeing in front of me. You be the judge. Or better yet, DON’T JUDGE! JUST LISTEN! Or in this case, read. Of course, you know damn well, at least those of you (all five of you or whatever) who are “fans” (I use the term loosely) of this site, that this is my M.O. anyway–the whining, kvetching bitch that lets it out. On the other hand, what have we done to women in our culture for God’s sake? If I were a guy complaining about life and the state of affairs: political, personal, cultural, whatever, you would probably call me an advocate or a journalist or something. Or a “whistle blower.” I mean, are we referring to Congressional analyst Mike Lofgren who just appeared on Bill Moyers and wrote a devastating essay about the deep state, which I highly recommend you all read ASAP. (Link is below:) or are we talking about Tiger Woman, who isn’t nerdy or a policy wonk or a numbers cruncher?

Essay: Anatomy of the Deep State

A man, a congressional analyst, and admittedly someone who has been, until now, a policy wonk who crunched facts and numbers behind the scenes. An introspective dude who was more than likely not prone to ranting and raving about anything, he carefully investigated and then paced his allegations in a circumspect and rational way so that his credibility would not be tarnished with what we often refer to in women (and men these days as well) as uncontrolled “emotionalism” Whatever that is. Tantamount to Freud accusing women with active and passion-lit libidos as “nymphomaniacs.” Haven’t the female of this species had it up to here with false accusations about our behavior if we don’t act, talk, look and sound like men? I am a feminist of the feminine persuasion–meaning, I got big boobs, I am curvy, I had 3 kids and loved nursing them all, I was barefoot and pregnant for many years and celebrated it; at the same time I went out and conceived kids without fathers–I was an intentional unmarried mother and not ashamed of it either. I do feel badly that my kids did not have another parent (male or female) to step in and help things along, but we had a kind of village around us that included their grandfather and a bunch of other people so it wasn’t completely isolated by any means. Anyway, back to the present. The bottom line is a feminist who adores being a girl. Which brings me to that wonderful Rodgers and Hammerstein song from one of their few collaborations that totally tanked, Flower Drum Song. Here’s the great Nancy Kwan giving me the background theme of my life: (my early life, that is):

Now, let’s face it. Nancy was beautiful and very American. She was irresistible, charming and this song is SO TOTALLY RETRO it’s hilarious! THROWBACK TIME FOR SURE! But there is some kind of wink, wink nudge nudge about it, too, a kind of irony, that although she protests against men whistling at her she secretly likes it just the same. I wonder if all women feel this way–even if the more militant of our feminist bunch would NEVER be caught dead admitting it. Or if you are gay, than having the admiring glance of another woman? We all want to be thought beautiful sexy and viable to someone and I dare any woman on this planet to totally say otherwise. But here was Nancy Kwan, representing an Asian girl who was the hip, modern young generation of Asians facing parents from the old country–in this case their parents from China who immigrated to San Francisco.

To expand on this, Rodgers and Hammerstein did not shy away from racial themes. Hammerstein was, after all, a Jew during times when anti-semitism was a huge issue. These days it’s gone underground, but never fear, when shit hits the fan, all manner of racial crap will float to the surface and I am sure anti-semitism will be part of the sewage. In the meantime, (I am getting to main gist of this post in a minute or two) I face african americans who accuse me of being paternalistic, racist and a privileged white girl with immunity to life’s vicissitudes. That’s how my parents raised me, for sure, that’s what they wanted for me and my sister, but that’s not how my life turned out, and the poverty and suffering I have been through over the course of my years on earth have taught me that the illusion of entitlement does nothing to prepare you for what can happen to a life on earth, nor does it help you at all if you are a rebel against the social structure or the societal expectations and demands, or if, for whatever reasons (I would call it karma) you are simply called out to speak for fairness and against injustice.

No one likes a person like that! But they like you even less if you happen to be a white woman. So if you readers feel that whining about being a poor white women in this day of political correctness is not acceptable, why click off this page! I am not interested in being politically correct–I am interested in being truthful. African Americans in this country are now on a self-righteous bandwagon of injured woundedness that they claim gives them entitlement to  hate and feel vindictive and to complain constantly about the unfairness of life. And most of the time I agree with them! We have a terrible history in this country and the racial bias and profiling that is going on now is absolutely inexcusable and reprehensible! That DOES NOT, however, mean that a white person, say a woman of 65, fr’instance, without a male to give her credibility or a corporate job or any job for that matter, without money of her own and zero ownership in the Capitalist ownership fantasy has also not got a right to shout for better conditions! We need better conditions for everybody! This should not be a racial or gender issue, this should be a human issue. The Dalai Lama is forever exhorting people to look at the unity of the human condition; to see this as a humanist challenge, but we are forever separating into factions that war against each other. It just seems to me that if we are looking for human fairness and justice, that ought we not ask the question: aren’t we all on the same side? Or as the Buddhists say, we are all in the same  boat. Really.

So I see this as me slipping onto dangerous ground right here. I found myself on that ground after I got lectured last night by a young African American man that the reason I cannot condone suicide as a viable act of protest in a dangerous and volatile world is because I am not black, I have not experienced racial prejudice based on my skin color, I have not been profiled and reviled because of this, I have not come from a history of enslavement and torture and ill-treatment of my people. The discussion came out in the Socialist Alternative group that I am now not a member of. I was only a member for a month anyway but they took my $20 membership fee –non refundable.

We had a “meeting” at an old Union hall, 37 S. Ashland Road in Chicago, which is quite famous for the mural that lines the walls as you walk in. It is home of the United Electrical Workers in Chicago, located on the near West side. The building has fallen into terrible disrepair and looks to be basically coming down piece by piece. As you walk into the cavernous front entrance you get a feeling that whatever happened here was a long time ago and the life and vitality of those movements has gone elsewhere or vanished completely. I think this is sad, but I also see it as a sign of the times. Whether this is the “fault” of the Capitalist “regime” as these young socialists like to refer to it, or it is because we do all of our business online through digital devices, who knows? The young people that I mostly associate with would find this place depressing and I did too. We climbed up numerous stairs to a tiny meeting room where the ceiling was falling down and there were tables and chairs haphazardly placed, filled with debris, garbage, flyers, books and all manner of junk. The impression was of disorganized chaos and low self esteem. That, too, was depressing. Not much can get done in an environment that screams self hatred at you!

I won’t go into the details of the discussion, but there were two older people there who I would have liked to get to know, but I probably will not do so at this time. They are both members of said Union and kept quiet during most of the discussion which was led by the leader who courted me over several weeks once I joined the Socialist Alternative online in a moment and flurry of idealism after watching the video of Kshama Sawant in response to President Obama’s state of the union address. I post it below:

http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lh7LBtrBq1g

This intelligent and savvy woman got my attention and I impulsively joined the organization with all kinds of ego-driven fantasies about becoming the first woman president of the United States. Yes, I know. Please do not chastise me on this fantasy..we all have our moments. Next thing I knew, the leader of our local Socialist Alternative group, which has about 8 members, started calling me and courting me and even taking me to lunch several times. I was flattered because I am a lonely Buddhist meditator who has the social life of a gnat. However, last evening’s meeting cured me of both my fantasies and my dreams that we can change social events from the outside in. We cannot. As Ghandi said, we must become the change we want to see in the world. Change is essentially, to my mind, an inside job and it involved the understanding that world peace truly does begin within. If individuals on this earth plane are not peaceful inside of themselves, if we carry unresolved baggage and all sorts of unrecognized subliminal fields of chaos, we cannot possibly hope to see anything but that disorder reflected in the outer world! As above so below! As inside, so outside! Simplistic but so true.

I don’t want a bunch of pushy males telling me what I ought to think and then fucking  pulling the race or religion card to justify their statements. I may not fit with the socialist trajectory and I am fine with that admission, but I do know I’ve been called to teach and to leadership and I need to find the right venue. This group is not the right venue. Being told that suicide is a valid act of protest pretty much stretches my limits. What if the leader’s son  told him that he was planning to off himself as an act of protest? How do you feel about it now, Mr. Socialist Alternative? I liken this to Dylan Farrow, Woody Allen’s molested daughter, asking the Hollywood assholes who sat by and did nothing , how they would feel if it were their child that he molested! When things hit close to home suddenly the M.O. changes.

In addition to all this, the leader, who was an intake social worker for Department of Human Services here in Chicago and, at 60, has a nice fat pension to prove it, sarcastically informed me on the way to the meeting that his job was to deny benefits, food stamps and welfare, to people who came to his little cubicle! How wonderful, say I to myself as I finger my SNAP card in my wallet. Thank God he wasn’t MY social worker or I wouldn’t have the much-needed $180/month food stamps I now use. This didn’t turn me on as I realized the raging hypocrisy one meets in all sorts of life’s venues, socialistic ones included. During the meeting, our leader, who I will name S, made repeated attempts to curb my statements or my ability to comment on other people’s statements, who underhandedly made nasty references about “the ruling class” and “uninformed members” referring to statements I was making to the group. I was soundly put down for my stance on the Ukraine and called a “capitalist” because I want them to have free elections and leave Russian rule, because their stance is that the EU is a Capitalist organization which will enslave them through the capitalist alternative which is just as bad as Putin’s regime. Which may be true, who knows? S lectured me about my simplistic approach by presenting the Dialectic that we see in our world, but I did not invent the Dialectic–it’s part of the human brain to simplify conflict into opposing forces. More on that later. However, in the course of a two-hour evening which felt more like six,  S’s technique was basically to muzzle me, curb me and ultimately silence me. I found this sexist, insulting and reprehensible. The two older workers, one a woman with some intelligence and insight, didn’t seem to mind that S spent a great deal of time sneering at me sarcastically during the meeting in order to control my output–(the typical male thing that happens when women stand up to paternal, patriarchal power), because she probably didn’t give a rip. She and I did a bathroom run and I briefly mentioned to her that I thought S was over the top in his surreptitious, half-concealed, subtextual put downs directed at me, she said, “well, just ignore that, he’s very intelligent, you can learn a lot from him.” Yeah right. Like how NOT to show up in this world!

At any rate, off me and 3 men go to the local bar for a beer, (in my case 2 glasses of wine), whereupon one young man informed us he was doing a Masters in the history of religion specializing in Occultism and Wiccan. At the University of Chicago no less! A great big OY on this one! Oh Lord, just my area of expertise–I spent 25 years studying Occult groups and philosophy though ultimately did not stay with them because of the whole black magic thing which really repelled me. I’ve studied Theosophy and ancient religions and Celtic and Druid religion, The Rosicrucians, Madam Blavatsky, G. de Purucker, Annie Besant, Native American beliefs which I still study and incorporate to this day, Judaism, Christianity (20 years, in depth) and Buddhism. In essence, as an autodidact, I am a lifelong student of religion. I tested this guy with a few questions and he hedged and hemmed and hawed and basically played this game of Socratic technique and turned questions back to me. I finally tried to change the subject off of religion (I mean, come on–a largely self-proclaimed atheist group talking religion?) when I realized this young man was a cynic and a very defensive asshole who I really didn’t want to have any conversation with, but I was stuck! There were 4 of us at the table, me the only woman! The other two were engaged in some dialogue about whatever. I told this young man about my 2 years experience teaching at Westwood college. I saw him listening intently with what appeared to be interest. I was hoping we could spark a conversation about education, education reform and other issues related to teaching. Instead he interrupted me mid-sentence and said, declaratively: “Do you always talk at people in conversation?” I guess I wasn’t aware I was talking “at” him but rather sharing experience, but I will concede his relative immaturity and idiocy meant that he felt intimidated by my experience. This had the effect of  cold water thrown in my face and I was speechless for a moment–which was exactly what he wanted–in essence, he told me to “shut up.” I actually apologized to him and he got this smug look on face his face and said “thank you for apologizing.” Double Oy.  

So, along with S trying to muzzle me during the meeting, this fellow telling me to shut up, and then to top it all the young black man lecturing me about suicide, I began to see a pattern here. If I were willing to be sweet, soft and quiet, you know, the old white-haired ghost that doesn’t know anything, they would’ve loved me! Or if I had been 28 and adorable they probably would have let me talk! But that old caveat, that I talk too much and I interrupt the men and I make declarative statements, and I am too “aggressive..”?Haven’t we heard this all before? Just another sexist ploy to shut the woman up.

I am done with the Socialist Alternative. On the way home in the car I let S really have it. I haven’t yelled like that at a man since I was married 300 years ago! Wow! It felt good! I’m sorry–that is SO un-Buddhist of me! I let him know that the whole evening was a bunch of males piling on with their sexist, ageist crap. I also let him know that suicide is the worst solution to any problem! It’s a long term final solution to a short term problem! Come on! S then said you should have said this in the group and I told him I couldn’t get a word in edgewise between Mr. Religion and Mr. Black who seemed to think that lecturing in a soft tone of voice made them right! Plus Mr. Black (not his name) informed me that unless my ancestors were slaves he wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say! And I kept on repeating over and over that “life is precious” and because of that I also got time is precious and I informed S, who was my ride home, that it was time for me to leave the group.

During the meeting, by the way, S spontaneously told this story about how as a grown man his Welsh mother hit him on the back of his head and it woke him up and made him go take a long walk to process it. I mentioned this in the car on the way home and he exploded and said I didn’t know a damn thing about his mother, and how dare I bring that up because she was mentally ill and a totally crazy women. And I informed him that I had a feeling I understood what she was trying to tell him–like sometimes you need to get hit upside the head to wake up~! He told me he would not go any further with this and would not be working on this issue, to which I replied “you’re right and that’s why I am not going further in working with you.” Who in hell was I to bring this up? he exploded! Because YOU told the story, I said to him, so you are begging for some insight here! Of course he wouldn’t understand intuitive insight if it slapped him in the face. And, as I am nothing if not an intuitive, I kind of did slap him in the face with it. I won’t apologize for that. The whole ride home was one of those explosive scenes that I will probably be thinking about for the rest of my life. My friend asked me later in our deconstruction session, “did he take it?” meaning, did he take the explosion? And I  said yes he did! Which leads me to understand two things, 1) that deep down S respected me and understood the truth of what I was saying, though he would never allow himself to admit this, and 2) he liked me. Perhaps it was a romantic thing. But as he is married there was a tiger inside of me nudging me to blow this shit up. I cannot have a thing with a married man at this stage of my spiritual journey. At least it showed that, indeed, there are some interesting intelligent men out there that may find me attractive and I need to attract one that is available and who loves Tiger Woman.

Which all leads to my throwing the brochures and crap on the floor of his ancient red VW van and declaring that I am quitting the group and need to move on.

Afterwards I had a few second thoughts but not many. After all, this was an opportunity to socialize and meet people–am I not a misanthropic curmudgeon complaining about loneliness all the time? But then what kind of socializing is it if you are with people who treat you like a 2nd class citizen? Because you are woman for God’s sake? Because you are over 60 and not sexy and cute? So I asked myself, Honesty or Self Sabotage?

I think a little of both.

THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD

The Bridge to New York

If any of you reading my blog ever deign to actually go into my pages where I’ve posted work, some finished some in progress– (this is my subliminal attempt to shame myself into finishing the work–it hasn’t completely failed nor has it succeeded as yet), you will find 1) some typos–because I’ve found them–yes I need an editorial gloss STAT 2) you may come across the novel-in-progress What Does She Want? AND you may, out of generosity, actually go in there and read it, and if so you’ll discover the said-mentioned minor typos, but you will also discover that this is my attempt to create a new reality not only for myself but my character! NO, I will neither defend or attack the writing process as fantasy and reality mixed, at this stage of my life and writing who cares?

It is what it is!

Yes, no apologies no explanations. However this post is more in the line of a kind of plea, a desperate one at that. For 6 and half years I’ve been under house arrest, landlocked in Chicago due to poverty, subsequent depression, anxiety, sporadic and often non employment, bad paying horrible jobs, food stamps, shelter for a short stint, therapy, no therapy, anxiety attacks, meditation, (that was the good part) well–I have just not seen much movement in the way of outer freedom. Inner Freedom I got in spades! For that it’s been a godsend! But I am dealing with the worst Cabin Fever of the century–six years worth! I need to get out of here! And if you read the above novel-in-progress you will follow along with one of the two main characters, Mona Sterling, as she attempts to leave Chicago and build a Bridge to New York by way of Montana. Of course, that’s the novel, it’s an adventure story. But MY LIFE–not so much! Life is not a novel and I already did Montana! Loved it, may visit again, God knows, but not planning to go back there now. I just want 1 week in New York. I figured if I could somehow save $1500 out of my monthly stipend I might be able to do 4 days in May, including flight and airbnb somewhere in Williamsburg, maybe eating fruit and sandwiches or something, but I figure a full week might actually give me time to look for a job and go to some publishing houses on the off-chance I might even sell my work. You never know. I have faith in the craziness of such ideas.

This is where YOU, dear reader, come in. If you could somehow see your way to donating even $10 or more if you can, why, if 50 people donated that would help! My donation page and I would love you.

Warning: this is a plea for money!

In these days and times artists must beg for patrons and so I am begging! Help a 65-year old writer, musician, blogger, vlogger see her two youngest kids and experience a real fun time in New York and maybe make some contacts at the same time! And even if the work-fantasy doesn’t materialize, I can still wander the streets of NYC feeling blessed to do so before I die! I can still LEAVE CHICAGO AFTER ALMOST 7 YEARS OF NOT LEAVING CHICAGO FOR EVEN A DAY. I can still get a new perspective in life and we all need that.

If you can help me, great. If not, read What Does She Want anyway and tell me what you think.

Read: What Does She Want 2013-14

HELP

Photo on 2014-01-29 at 14.37

A Rambling Series of Disconnected Thoughts

Photo on 2014-01-27 at 15.13

‘Bout time I added something new to the world of allison fine! Right now the world of allison fine is:  a) looking for a job AGAIN b)weathering the coldest winter in Chicago history–or Chiberia as we’re calling it. You know, a few years ago (2011?) we had Snowmagedden! That was fun. Lot’s and lot’s of snow, everything shutting down, all of us wandering around in our snow gear and boots wading through huge tufts of lovely white snow. It was an unofficial holiday–our neighbors became people again, not just boots clicking on the walk behind you as they hurry to the train station, not just couples animatedly talking to one another and ignoring the oldster sharing the pathway, (that’d be me)–in other words, for some reason we reached out to one another and the usual rigid ageist demarcations that characterize Chicago fell away. (A side note: I just lied about my age on an on-line application! I said I was born in 1960. Even THAT is too old for most jobs, though it shaved 11 years off me!) c): (yes, I didn’t forget there was an “a” and a “b” way back up there), writing and working on multiple projects as usual, walking every single day no matter what the weather–(nearly froze my fucking face off today walking 4 blocks to Walgreens) having coffee with my iPad or iPad with my coffee at various places, and generally making a nuisance of myself.

My favorite hang out, Half Italian Grocery, Bakery etc., where I can literally sit for hours writing and applying for jobs online and surfing the net, has closed FOR A WEEK while the entire staff (well, the “in group” staff–i.e. the Owner and her 3 best friends who work for her–the other step n fetch its will just have to do without pay for a week–LOL–life is sure NOT EQUAL IN AMERICA IS IT?) while they all go to Cabo, Mexico to stay in the time share of one of them. The owner is paying for the plane tickets. Now, they ALL WORK HARD–no question. AND they do a great job. Maybe they DO deserve a vacation! But to close the store and take off? I dunno folks. That strikes me as just the kind of noblesse oblige middle class garbage that makes us poor folks so fucking mad! While the upper 1% enjoy Mexico we have no place to go and four other employees have no paycheck! Is there something unequal about this picture? I will admit, one of those four folks going to Mexico is my friend and she owns the time-share and I am totally happy for her. I guess I am just jealous. Poor people don’t deserve vacations, do we? OK my daughter wants me to stop calling myself poor and she’s right. She is supporting me and I am NOT poor–I have 2 toasty rooms, no car but don’t really need one, plenty of clothes and books and a computer and an ipad and an iphone and an ipod, lot’s of freedom–I am extremely grateful. I am only whinging because I am doing very well and I love my life and I just want a couple of perks–like maybe a vacation in NYC and a 1 bedroom apartment, but really this is small stuff. My daughter is fantastic and I sing her praises everyday and if I ever get some money for my work or whatever she’s getting a chunk off the top right away.

For me, this is more about my value system and my understanding of class distinction and income disparity and all the attendant issues that go along with the sliding down of our middle class (most of which would’ve have been called “working class” in the old days, but Americans have an aversion to the concept of “working class” so they lumped everyone from those earning $10K a year to those earning $80K a year as “middle class”). Ridiculous and wrong, but there you are. This is just about my concern for income inequality. It produces anger, resentment and jealousy and some day that might cause a revolution! And if I am still walking and talking I plan to be right in the front lines of that new version of Occupy Wall Street, you can count on it!

We, in America, have a fantasy about the American Dream and I won’t go into that garbage right now, but let’s just say that the dream was never attainable for a large majority of people anyway, to be honest, and in addition, the dream is really more of a nightmare. I mean, what is a bunch of materialistic garbage anyway but a millstone around your neck? That mortgage, that car you are making payments on, the time share, the vacation home, the etc etc etc–do you really own anything? If you found out tomorrow you had 3 more months of life on earth, what would matter to you? I know this is an old trope, but I am going to trot it out because it bears repeating. The only things that REALLY MATTER are loving relationships with your fellow humans and that includes the family you may loathe.

Speaking of loathing, many people loathe their families, but family, blood relationships are the meat and potatoes of the karmic journey, and those who avoid family are not doing themselves any favors, they are just waylaying the evitable. The bottom line is that, like marriage, family is a never ending reminder of unresolved life lessons. The ‘in your face’ confrontation of those human issues we’d like to think we’ve mastered or have under control, but of course we don’t, are why we are here in the first place! At least, so I’ve been taught! Mirror reflections of the subliminal psyche, if you will, the karmic “other side” of the coin in some cases, in others, too much a reminder of ourselves. Either way, working on family issues by hanging in there with our siblings, parents, children, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents–doing so without judgement as much as possible–is kind of what the job description of ‘being human’ IS, right? At least I thought so! But judging by how my own family treats me, I would say their consistent long term avoidance of me says otherwise. I only avoided my parents when I was young and defensive and filled with hubris. I thought I could conquer the world and I thought I didn’t need their input and I thought I could find substitutions. THERE ARE NO SUBSTITUTIONS. YOUR FAMILY IS YOUR FAMILY. This lesson really hit home hard for me when my mother died suddenly. There I was, at 32, with three small children facing mortality in the face. She had a stroke and I walked into her home (I had a key) with two of the youngest, (ages 2 and 5) to find her on the kitchen floor, still breathing but essentially brain dead. We stared at death, all three of us. You never get over that kind of shock. I understood then, at a relatively young age, viscerally, that life is precious and life is short. It is essential for all of us to work on the core relationships now while we still have a chance, but to my observation few people feel this way and as a result we have families behaving in judgemental, defensive and avoidant ways toward one another.

This makes me sad. Especially in regards to my own family. I want to spend time together, hang, schmooze, kibbutz, interact, share experiences and love and and fun, and they all want to be as far from me as possible! They see me as a poor, lazy, starving artist who wants to freeload off of them and they’ve got their material shit together and they’ve surrounded themselves with surrogate family and friends, so what do they need me for? I have nothing to offer but myself, the fruits of my creative and spiritual journey and my love of fun! I have only the one family–no surrogates. I’ve faced that I will probably spend the rest of whatever life is left to me alone without the company of my blood relations–they have nothing but contempt for me. In America if you don’t earn a living people assume you are lazy and useless. I do have lot’s of interaction with oldest daughter so thank God and her for that. The other two are intermittently in and out–not so much out of avoidance but rather out of independent lives and busy work schedules. I am giving the kids a pass. But other family members, not so much!

You know who you are!

I am leaving behind a shit load of writing and music and let’s hope a future generation will see some value in it. 

So for now, in Chiberia, I am laying down this series of random thoughts. I plan to meditate on gratitude and forgiveness today, so if there is some sadness or loneliness or bitterness in this post, why that’s OK. It’ll all come out in the wash. I forgive myself.

Namaste.