Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sometimes I run

...without direction

Monday, October 29, 2012

To the Naysayer on my shoulder

To you, naysayer on my shoulder,

You don't have my shoulder to shout on, no, not anymore. You can't sit there, so pompous, self-righteous and destructive. I flick you off my shoulder. You can take that bullying and shove it up your celestial ass. I'm not going to listen to you.

Naysayer, you and all of your little friends, are the bitter toxic voice who shouts, “I suck. I'm a failure. I can't finish anything. I'm mediocre.”

I'm not.

I say fuck you.

I'm going to write, and I am a writer. It's what I do, and what I need to do. 
I write because I feel joyful when I do, because I like how it feels to see something new. 
I write because I'll always have a friend to talk to. 
I write because I like the belly of things, I like the gut. I like the muddled, messy, subterranean underworld of thoughts/ideas/feelings/truths. 
Where life and decay collide. 
I write because I feel alive when I do.

Naysayer, I'm not going to make any more promises to you, or anyone else. I make a promise to myself. I promise to make tiny changes. I promise to try, for the somethings that get carried on when we are all gone. I promise to listen and to speak, and to shout and to cry and to be and to write about it all.

The world doesn't owe me anything, and I don't owe anything to the world.

But this is the work that means something to me.

The work of my own subterranean underbelly.

You and your sidekicks, i.e., money, success, perfection, recognition, you can all go and have your own little naysayer party.

I'm working to try. I need some creation, and I need to believe in courage and love, and hope. So I'm going to write. And try to make small changes.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Plea to Mr. President

Dear President Obama,

I'm writing a plea to you, because I am going to cast my vote for you in the upcoming election. Along with everyone else on this planet, I just got here. And I feel lucky to have been born in this country, even though I certainly had no choice in it. I realize how fortunate I am, being able to vote, and I hold that privilege very dear.

But I'm pleading with you, because while I think you do listen, and I think you are a thoughtful person, I've struggled, and still struggle, with supporting you as our leader. I'm saddened and angry about your decisions in office, specifically with regards to catering to Wall Street, your degradation of our civil liberties, your support of domestic oil and gas production, enacting indefinite detention without trial, decriminalizing torture, and drone strikes. I just think war is stupid and sad. And we all have too much blood on our hands.

I recognize you have a tough position, but I'm tired by the choice I face this November, choosing between not the lesser of two evils, because there are many evils, but feeling so utterly helpless in this position.

I'm more terrified of a Romney/Ryan administration. Terrified of what they will do to this sweet life-supporting planet we are all on, what they will do about health care and women's rights, what they will do about pushing back on the strides we've made on one of the biggest civil rights and legal issues of our time, what they will do about increasing our already over-zealous military/industrial complex. Unfortunately, my vote won't really decide whether or not Romney/Ryan will be free-wielding power for the next four or eight years, I'm not in a swing state.

But I'm saddened mostly by what I interpret as a hardening of the peaceful part of you.  In the debate last night, I watched as both you and Governor Romney battled it out, trying to convince We the People who is a stronger leader on National Security. I think you've been pulled so far into the fight of the baddest of the bad guys, and have forgotten what Just Peace means. I couldn't tell much of a difference between the two of you and what was being said.

Being just and peaceful doesn't mean being weak, it doesn't mean not standing up when it's a necessary fight, but it is rooted in what one of the most well-known socialists in human history preached, the Golden Rule. Because the personal is the political, and this becomes even that much more apparent in an election year, I hope you remember that Just Peace isn't just about battling and fighting, it is a way of conducting our lives which creates the conditions for human flourishing-joy and sustenance for peoples of all nations, as well as flourishing for the natural world.

 I guess I'm just concerned that a part of you may have died.

Governor Romney, Paul Ryan, and the Republicans have a severe lack of respect for the intelligence of the people with their continued political prevarications. Romney also demonstrates a severe deficiency in moral intelligence. I think you have it, but it's been lost or buried somewhere along the way.

I still believe in the power of Truth-Telling, even when we can't know it all. Even though it may be mightily tested in our times, I still believe our system is salvageable. I'm not blind to the inherent vulnerabilities, but I need to believe in the strengths.

And I plea to you to be a truth-teller, and to find the Just Peace part of you. I urge you to have the courage and love to speak to us, and also listen to us, regardless of the outcome of the election.

That's all, I just had to get that off my chest, Mr. President.

And good luck.

As Ever,


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

And So We Go

Well, I like to think we will go. Go where?

On another long-hike, of course.


Where else would Jacob and I go when we GO?

Right now, I'm sitting with Margaret Thatcher, Kurt Vonnegut, and Frank Clifford.

I'm rereading A Man Without a Country and And So It Goes, because KV always seems to pull me out of any kind of funk.

"I wanted all things to seem to make some sense, so we could all be happy, yes, instead of tense. And I made up lies, so they'll fit nice, and I made this sad world a paradise."

Most lies aren't intended to make this sad world a paradise, but I believe KV when he tells his lies. Not sure why.

Jacob woke up earlier than I did this morning and when I came out he was sitting in front of his computer screen. Lately when I look over his shoulder I've seen a black background with little colored boxes being moved surrounded by a green fence like thing. This is the world of Dwarf Fortress. 

However, this morning instead of Dwarf Fortress, I saw a map of New Mexico. And then I saw a trail which travels along the Continental Divide. And he said, "I want to go hike."

I was jumping for joy! Yay! He wants to go, again!

I've been trying to plant the seed now to go on another hike for a while. Like a few months. But I know he actually kinda likes what he's doing at work right now, and I don't really like what I'm not doing, which is not working on anything really that important except learning about how other people write, and how much crap there is on the internet.

So I didn't want to push him.

But he wants to go!

Maybe next Spring? I don't know. But we will, one day, hopefully, go.

Frank Clifford, an LA Times writer and editor, who is also by my side, wrote the BEST portrait of the west I've ever read in The Backbone of the World. 

"Progress may have liberated us from the need to work the land, but it has not freed us from the impulse to do so. Disconnected from nature, we become strangers to our senses. But the senses are like smart dogs that grow restive when they are ignored for too long. They need work to be happy. Pay is not the issue. It is the experience that matters."

Also, "The trail provides the sort of organizing principle you need when you are looking for an excuse to drop everything, lock the door on your life, and light out."

But unlike my husband and I, Clifford was less interested in hiking the trail than he was in the Divide country and the people who lived in it. He was interested in spending time around people who have tailored their lives to fit into exposed places, where travelers spend a night or two. He wanted to write about their stories, not those who pass on by, before they are all gone.

Through his reporting, and clear cadence, we meet ranchers, a sheep herder, a Yellowstone Park Ranger protecting elk and grizzly bears from illegal hunters, and a group of Blackfeet Indians in Northern Montana.

I am in love with this book, and the people who are in it, and the contradictory frontier values.

And now I'm ready to go hike.

And So We [will maybe?] Go.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Less resistance on the backstroke

This summer a naturalist in the Kern River Valley was talking to a bunch of us field tech's about the mysteries and evolutionary feet of feathers. Jon Schmidt had been collecting feathers since he was a kid, and taught us the basics of identification, and started to get us to think about how this particular vertebrate body covering contributes to the incredibly diverse form and function of birds. In short, feathers are a marvel. They are amazing; with a capital A. 

Feathers are downy soft, or stiff. They are fused, fringed, barbed, or flattened. They can be as small as a pencil point or larger than a human body. They can be vibrantly colored, or dull and lackluster. They are used to attract or repel members of the opposite sex or predators. They can hold in water, or repel it. They can whistle, snap, vibrate, hum, snap, or bristle.

Again, capital A.

Since I find myself with a more than usual abundance of free time as of present, I was excited to stumble across Destin's Smarter Every Day: a youtube series this guy interested in science decided to create and use as a conduit for doing cool science shit, and it is pretty sweet.

In How Bird Wing's Work, Destin debunks popular conceptions of bird flight using computational fluid dynamics. Essentially, the bird wing is a biomechanical check valve; on the downstroke feathers overlap to create a boundary layer where air can't pass; but on the backstroke, wings separate, feathers turn, and a space is created where air flows through. 

I never knew there was less resistance on the backstroke. 

If you look up to a bird in flight, watch for that moment when the sun peaks through during the backstroke, that moment when the wind whistles through, the moment of least resistance. A moment brought on by an adaptation to body covering. 

No wonder Darwin devoted four chapters to feathers in Descent of Man