Saturday, March 4, 2017

DTJ - Epiphany

Once we stood tall

I had to stop and ask myself what I believed this week. And I found that very hard to answer. I cannot do it without tears. I cannot look at a tree or two coyotes playing in a field and not immediately feel their loss. I am a photographer who once recorded the beautiful world around me and now I feel I am preparing an obituary for that world.

At the beginning of 1970's I was in Washington, DC working for a Republican Senator trying to end our involvement in the illegal war in Vietnam. Those were the days when we expected our presidents, then Richard Nixon, to go to congress and ask for their approval. He had not. 

Republicans and Democrats had ethics then. They fought for things they believed. And individual members of both parties crossed the aisle to cooperate on bills they believed in. You bantered around terms like liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. Now both parties seem to cookie cutter their droids. And to me that is the really scary part of this whole time line.

I have crossed the aisle before. Now I am marching far left of the chamber. I am by labels a resistance fighter, a cry baby, a poor sport snowflake, bleeding heart liberal. I am told to get over it, leave the room, you loser.

I know nobody should leave the room. We should all stay engaged. And we should resist the labels, the push to put us into neat and tidy categories. And make us march to a specific drum beat must be resisted. I am currently a centrist who has been pushed way to the left of where I am comfortable. If we survive as a people we must remember where we began. 

And what we believed in our very heart of hearts.

If for no other reason than the memory of trees or to protect those two coyotes in the marsh. 


Memory of trees

Saturday, February 25, 2017

DTJ - One Hundred Days is a Long Time



I think I have always lived my life as a sprint. I grew up fully believing I was going to die at 23. Who knew where I got that. Then I belonged to the generation who was not suppose to trust anyone over thirty. I was diagnosed with a chronic disease with a limited life expectancy in my thirties. And just when I was told I seemed to have defeated it relatives were dying off. Sixty-seven seems to be end of days for the older generation of my family.

The ski accident with its closed brain trauma centered my life around today. Life is short. Live it to the max. Do not wait for retirement. Art is great because there are constant new beginnings and endings to your work. And when paintings take too long there is photography. Even my real world job was in industrial construction which has a beginning, middle, and end.

So I admit to diving into this resistance battle to save the republic in short terms. I committed to the first 100 days and it has only been 30 plus. And he is not gone. The republic looks to be in grave danger. Worse every day. I doubt it or me will make it to 100 days.

I knew a marathon runner once. He said I needed to know how to pace myself. The long race was all about pacing and patience. Patience is not my strong suit. I would add recess. You cannot take a recess from a marathon race except mentally. Don't think of the pain or your thirst or the miles yet to run. You cannot stop and smell the roses but I can take the camera out and photograph the land I love which the Republicans seem bent on destroying.

There are so many battles to fight this war, but I can center my attention on just one front. Even General Eisenhower did that in WWII. So my current battle cries are pacing, focus and brief recesses.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dark Times Journal - Save Some of Yourself


I have discovered through past events I am the person who goes on automatic pilot and does what needs to be done until the immediate crisis is over. That is the good news. The bad news is when the crisis is over I will then go off screen and toss my cookies or stand at the edge of a crowd and just shiver. I am not good at pacing myself. Or staying focused for the long haul. At least not at first.

I have to have my time to go off stage and scream. Or run though all those I should have said or done things.Then to consider exactly what it is I am up against. But you cannot take too long because things get worse fast. And if they don't, those things you have ignored, do. Or something totally off in the wings flies into center stage. Something least expected like the Mayor of a town I don't live in hearing something I didn't say about her in a meeting which was suppose to be private per the bylaws. 

I have dedicated today to cleaning up the flat surfaces in my life. Literally. Desktops and tables and cabinets have gotten totally out of control. Off subject? No. It means my mind has been elsewhere like when I dashed into the studio with my ousted paintings, rack and business cards. I just put them on a surface and did the Scarlet O'Hara thing - I will think about it tomorrow. 

Oh, but if it was just that. Just the Mayor throwing me out of the visitor's center. But I have a painting I haven't thought about for a week. Was doing it for a contest which I will not now enter. Why bother? Her friends will be on the jury. Mind pushes it to the back. Some moments too far back. Like why bother finishing it at all. Where would I hang it? Why would I hang it? It isn't my art which counts. Or even my politics. It is some cast off remark in a board meeting. That seems to be the only thing which matters suddenly. Something which was totally off my radar because I was concerned with an illegitimate president and the nuclear codes. And a defamation of character suit?

But then maybe none of that matters because the second reactor on a tsunami destroyed nuclear plant in Japan may just blow up. 

I need to concentrate on saving some of me. But from what? From being wrongly accused? From looking as if I am whining?


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Dark Times Journal - Keep Your Eye on the Goal



Dawns on me there is a reason this blog is named Sidetracked Charley. I can be easily diverted. As I compose this in my mind I am playing with my cat, Thicke, and his kitty whip.

We all have lives and responsibilities. We are not the Delhi Lama on a mountain top. No one drops offerings of food within our easy reach. And most people who get involved in resistance movements are already involved in a myriad of other socially responsible causes. I was deeply involved in the arts and within one group on the board. We were trying to get an art center for our community. Those responsibilities got taken away from me recently. Plus side is I am more time to spend on resistance. Downside is I regret being shoved out of groups I still feel deeply committed two after working toward a goal for almost a decade.

Playing with the cat is sanity producing. Blogging is sanity producing. Being forced out of something you believe in is devastating. This week is about mourning that. And the loss of friends I worked with toward that goal.  

I got trumped out of a venue I had set up for a group of artists. And I was reminded that Trump has made it acceptable to behave amorally. It took me a few days to work though the loss and refocus on the resistance. Amazing what taking your eyes from the goal for just a few days can do. I feel as if I am wading back through deep water and not sure when the underwater landscape drops off beneath my feet.

And I find I am very, very angry with those who don't want to get involved in politics. In case you haven't noticed it is all about politics these days. Even where you are allowed to hang a painting.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Dark Times Journal - Battle Fatigue



I think the alertness necessary for resistance is tiring. It seems so little to do in the grand scheme of things: Get up and log into the computer, review the latest news, visit my on line resistance group, check email for Indivisible battle plan, dash off emails to elected officials, share important info. Usually takes only about an hour but in an hour I am so angry I have to begin the day again with comedy YouTube to lighten my mood. I feel good I have done something to resist how things are going.

Then the news hits about something dumb Trump has done or how the congress has voted. Today it was that congress said coal companies can dump their slag in the rivers which provide us drinking water. And I cry.

But what I am most angry at this morning are those who want to make social media fun again. I have been instructing them how they can stay away from the political news feed. My guess is they voted for DT and don't want to know what he has done just now. They are ostriches. Lots of ostriches out there these days.

One friend of mine who doesn't want to discuss politics didn't register to vote. Another friend dropped the internet doesn't like the political news but when I run into her she wants to know what is happening with it now. A third friend just uses her internet to stream reality TV but always asks what she can do to help. But she does not want to email or call congressmen or march or just relay action plans.

At first I was polite. Even helpful. Done with the helpful. And polite is applicable if I can get away with the face I make as I walk away from their anger over the cost of avocados. You do know DT said his army would invade Mexico?

Speaking of ostriches, anyone seen the Democrats? Hillary? 

I realized yesterday I was emotionally exhausted and went over the mountain to buy avocados and pretend the world was normal in the produce section of Smith's. All the shoppers had that look on their face I am sure was on mine: our world may not be normal ever again.  

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Dark Times Journal - Exposure to light



Inspired by the Women's Marches around the world, and sickened by the inaugural I watched in horror as each day in the last week brought our country and our ideals down further. In someways I was going tharned like the rabbits in Watership Down; frozen in the middle of the road staring at the headlights approaching. But I kept on keeping on devoting a small portion of each morning on the computer to research on issues before congress and firing off emails to my representatives. Even making a few calls.

I hate calling. Email, personal messaging, chat are invented for me personally. Or at least I believe. But I made calls. Love it when I can leave a message, short and sweet on one issue, and then disconnect. But I was at a loss for words when I got a person when I called my congressman's office. After a pause I recited my script and she chuckled. Silence from me. Then she hastened to add that of course the congressman would vote that way on that issue. But she would make note I was on his side. 

On his side. Comforting. It dawned on me suddenly that our democratic legislators are just as alone as we are in this horrid new world. Do they have a secret group they can turn to for support when they feel helpless and hopeless against this dark tide?

My secret group has gained members, and more are willing to voice their opinions. There are a few of us, I fear at times, who dominate the conversation. Saturday we all met in person. It was not the best of possible times for everyone. We are busy people with jobs and businesses and travel plans. But 25 plus showed up. They were real! They smiled and hugged and shed tears. Some I had only met in the social media group. Others I have been friends with for years and was relieved to find in this different reality we could still be friends. I have lost a few. And several I call friends just by not calling them. I know we could not share anything real. There would be this barrier which could not be bridged. A barrier which was not there with this group.

This was a action meeting. A meeting to decide on our direction in the difficult times ahead. But it was also a coming home. A support group. People I could talk freely with about the emotions and frustrations within me. And there was the joy of finding out I was not an alternate fact to be dismissed. This was real. These people were real. Our feelings of dread and despair are real. They are shared. There was this wonderful light where there had been gloom.

So when the question of our next meeting came up. There were no excuses of too busy or whipping out the calendar on the iPhone to check available dates. All agreed it had to be sooner rather than later. Our country needed that commitment. We needed it.

We haven't got a name yet. But we are a group. We are united. There is light.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Dark Times Journal - It Was the Worst of Times


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of our despair. . . .

Opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

And so it is now going from the grace and hope of the Obama family in the white house, to the swearing in of the evil troll. All on Friday seemed so utterly hopeless. I could not watch any part of the telecast let alone his evil words of carnage stolen in part from The Bee Movie. So appropriate as he jokes he steals all we have gained in our society. 

It was a day of tears. 

But then Saturday as the Women's March on Washington grew and grew on live streaming a glimmer of hope. Reports came in about the size and number of sister marches not just across the country and around the world. Some 470 in total with numbers beginning at 2.9 million and rising. The largest protest in the United States around an inauguration. And perhaps the largest protest in the world against one ruler.

So many taking the microphones and delivering short but hopeful speeches of united in a common cause. It seems a long and difficult climb out of the abyss. We just must not give up. We must work hard to resist. To best the orange troll in the white castle and his sale of our freedom to the dark lord in Russia. 

It is the winter of our despair. Hopefully spring will bring more hope and light.