Gay Marriage. So, the US Supreme Court denies a couple of appeals and makes a few million dreams come true. Thank you.
Posted in Equality, Gay Rights, Law, Same Sex Marriage
Tagged America, classism, commentary, contemplation, Democracy, dreams, Gay Marriage, United States Supreme Court
When my friends and I started smoking – in our teens in the 70’s – cigarette smoke was everywhere. Elevators, hospitals, restaurants, grocery stores, workplaces, you name it. My mother smoked through 4 pregnancies. I remember Sunday drives with both my parents smoking in the front seat while my little brother and I whined in the back. Still, I took up the habit as soon as I could get away with it. (No one carded at the gas station, they were just eager to make a sale to all the high school kids passing by.)
Back then Big Tobacco operated like devious, mad scientists, didn’t they? They polished up the image so you wouldn’t even consider that you were consuming a carcinogen. They commissioned scientists to research exactly how to make their product more addictive (yes, they did), and as soon as the results were in the project was terminated and the researchers were sworn to secrecy. Sugar,. That’s right. Just the right amount of sugar in the processing of the tobacco triggered the nicotine in just the right away to get all those new smokers hooked, making them life long customers.
I remember when my best friend – indeed, my first REAL friend in the whole world – was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. She’d had the biopsies, part of a lung removed but it was too late; the cancer had metastasized and was already in her blood stream. She did the chemo, the radiation, she went on a raw food diet, she made plans to go to Costa Rica or some other paradise that promised a holistic cure to her ailments.
She decided to sue R J Reynolds. Say what you will about smokers who sue tobacco companies; I understand the arguments completely. I’ve had those thoughts myself. “You knew it couldn’t be good for you.” “You could have stopped, but you didn’t.” “No one made you smoke! You chose to do that your self, when so many people chose not to.” On and on. But when my friend tried to justify her decision to me she said, “When we started smoking those things were everywhere! If you wanted to be cool you had to take up smoking in school. And when it became an addiction? It was more powerful than I was. I was an addict. And now it’s too late.”
She had the support of her lawyer husband, but even he knew it was a futile effort. I think he agreed to support her because it gave her some sort of feeling of empowerment. She had the lawyers videotape her testimony… just in case. She died before she could go to court in person. Her husband dropped the case after she passed.
The lawyers for R J Reynolds were like pit bulls, of course. They looked up everyone who had ever been in her life. Her psychotic mother, cousins, aunts, uncles, grade school friends, high school friends, abusive ex husbands, everyone. It mattered not to the lawyers for Big Tobacco that I lived nearly 2,000 miles away from where we had our first cigarettes. They hunted me down, found me in my tiny little blue house and knocked on my door.
When they identified themselves to me I told them to “Get the fuck off my property. I have no obligation to speak to you. I will not speak to you. Get away from my house.” They never came back. It was a minute victory that gave me no satisfaction. I had lost my best friend in the whole world because of shrewd and deceptive marketing, and the sale of a product the company knew would kill millions. They had secured enough profits to withstand plenty of nuisance lawsuits, after all. Nothing was going to break that camel’s back, or put the Marlboro Man in an early grave, right?
The moon whispers of her nuance, her hidden places
and her sovereignty over night, as the night hawk flies I hear
the cries and wonder at the solitude of her flight.
Morning comes with the sweet mutterings of sparrows
and the flowers turn their head eastward anticipating light.
You will have to drag me kicking and screaming because my love resides
with the rocks and the trees and my lover’s creaky knees
and as the rattlesnake’s percussion speeds the beating of my heart
I will give up the ghost only to marvel at the mystery of daylight.
Posted in appreciation, Earth, life, love, nature
Tagged belonging, day, death, ghost, life, love, nature, night, rattlesnake, rocks, tree
I don’t remember if I said goodbye to you at all. I was away, so far
and living the dream, a sordid tale, the novella you would abhor. You,
who had the sweetest heart in later years, your thick glasses
blowing up your eyes into enormous moons to witness the travesty.
I did not witness the Mass, I did not go to the grave site, I did not
mourn with my mother. She lost you and I did not mourn. I lost you,
and I did not mourn. Forgive me, please. Born a fool, known a fool, and yet
you loved me, prayed for me in the darkness and the quiet of the faithful night.
Could you ever know how I remember you with such heavy heart and mourn
for you so deeply now? Decades it’s taken me, decades since you’ve been gone.
I won’t forget, I never have.
You taught me to count, to pronounce those words so full of consonants.
There was no molding here, this was life that traversed an ocean, this was
life that knew no borders, this was a wish upon a very distant star.
If I could thank you (did I ever?) now I would. Sweet and strong, you were
my champion, my teacher, my soulful song. I would be a worthy human being
were I half the woman you shared with the world. I fear I am barely half
the woman you were, one quarter the woman that sprang from your loins.
And yet, I strive, full of hope and determination – the legacy
of the pioneering heart.
Posted in alienation, Apathy, belonging, Community, Contemplations, Death, family, Health, Poetry, Respect, Responsibility, Uncategorized
Tagged bravery, death, dedication, family, farewells, forgiveness, guilt, legacy, strength, wisdom
Please take the time to watch this. It is inspirational.
the way you think you should.
As a child I wished that the people around me understood me.
As a teenager I wished that I understood myself.
As a young adult I wished that I understood the world.
As a middle aged woman I finally understood that it was all up to me.
All of it.
I had help along the way, of course…
A priest who, while I was having a very public personal crisis, fell asleep on the couch after drinking too much whiskey with my father, and who, through his ineptitude, affirmed for me that I was, like it or not, on my own.
A high school art teacher who despised me and my work, and another high school art teacher who liked my work. (My thanks to both of you.)
A total stranger who soothed me while I wept uncontrollably on a curb on Sea Cliff Avenue, and kept repeating to me that it was okay. I finally believed her enough to get up and walk away.
A sister in law who had the guts to say to me, “When are you going to stop blaming your parents for everything?”
A friend who said to me, “You have a chip on your shoulder the size of Gibraltar; when the fuck are you going to lighten up?”
Numerous people who told me, “You wanna play, you gotta pay.”
An ex lover who told me to get into therapy because she couldn’t possibly be the source of my happiness in life.
Trungpa Rinpoche who came up with the concept of “idiot compassion” and laid out the dangers of being an enabler and of being enabled in a fresh way.
Todd Rundgren who kept me believing that there really is a Love of the Common Man, and Jackson Browne who convinced me that it was important to sit “thinking about Everyman”.
Joni Mitchell who taught me that a woman could be clever and brave and outspoken and intelligent and articulate (and also play a mean Jazz guitar).
A few former employers who assured me that I really should work for myself because I definitely don’t like being told what to do.
My father who taught me to have principles and be steadfast in upholding them.
My mother who showed me that gentleness is strength.
And somewhere, deep inside me, I helped myself along the way. I found the woman of my dreams and the good sense to not sabotage that relationship.
And finally, my numerous furry friends over the years have shown me what unconditional love really looks like- so, in a sense they trained me.
Posted in alienation, Apathy, belonging, Community, Contemplations, family, Health, psychotherapy, rage, Respect, Responsibility, Uncategorized, Wellness
Tagged adolescence, Buddhism, childhood, confessions, courage, Father, idiot compassion, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, middle aged, Mother, reflections, self awareness, Todd Rundgren, Trungpa Rinpoche, unconditional love, understanding, young adulthood