Saturday, November 26, 2016

Wisdom Is in Short Supply

I and 599 other students sat in complete silence in the largest University of New Mexico lecture room the afternoon of November 22, 1963. We had just heard that President John F. Kennedy was dead. Shot in Dallas, Texas. Most of us had spent our lunch break watching the live news on TV's in the dorms or the Student Union Building.

We had come to Sociology 101 not just because it was the next class on our schedule but because it was something to do besides watch the horrid images. And we figured if anyone could say something to make it all go away it would be Professor Varley.

He walked up on to the stage into the silence and wrote with chalk on the black board, Class Dismissed. And he walked off. We sat. Without words. As we rose to leave a student behind me loudly said, "At least the man who should be president will be now." I slugged her. I would probably have faced a week long suspension except that all classes were suspended for all of us so that we could observe history being made. I watched waiting for someone to say something to make it all go away. 

It seems I am often waiting for those incantations. I waited for the Warren Commission to say the right thing. I waited after Martin Luther was shot, and Robert Kennedy. The Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion seemed surrounded in silence. As my father lay dying I waited for him to give me something I could quote for years. I still had faith after 9/ll that wise men would say wise things.

Now trying to absorb the election of Donald Trump to President I find there are no right words. Some events are just beyond our ability to sum up in black upon white. I keep harking back to Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address, ". . . far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it will never forget what we did here." 

There are events in our lives which we will never forget. We will always know where we were when Walter Cronkite broke into As the World Turns to announce that President Kennedy is dead or the second plane it the Towers on live TV. Some things are just a huge disturbance in the force, to paraphrase Star Wars. They strike us dumb. That Donald Trump won the electoral college is not unlike the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Every time I try to sum up the event I just cry. Not for Hillary's loss but for what our country will be like under a Trump administration.

Monday, November 21, 2016

He Isn't Right

My brother always told me I was dumb. Not daily but often enough I got that he considered it his mission in life to make me believe it. He was clearly in league with my mother, or she with him, who would say, "Men don't like smart women so being dumb is good."

Those may not have been her exact words but there was a whole lexicon of of them she marched out. Her top priorities for me were dates, marriage and kids. I was a huge disappointment because in my first year of college I did not get my MRS degree. I constantly got lectures about not studying at the law library, majoring in Fine Arts because I wanted to curate a museum and not decorate the nursery, and not going to church to catch a man. I might have gotten her to drop that last one if I had not constantly broken into lectures about religion being the opiate of the masses and Zen was the way.

It was my father who revealed to me the results of my IQ scores from routine school tests to talk me out of attempting a Master's. But having my brother tell me daily I was dumb was hard to override. A lie becomes the truth when repeated often as the political parties of the US have now proven. I graduated from college and my brother didn't. He went on to write computer code for programs, I became a project engineer and at one time wrote manuals for the mere mortals who had to use those programs. But to the very last day of our communications he told me I was dumb.

Still I was always seduced by intelligence. It may be the new sexy for this generation but it was always the sexiest thing for me. Even in causal friendships brains is a major factor. It may be that or the fact I am an introvert but I do not do casual chit chat well. Even a chance meeting with a friend in the freezer department of the store can progress rapidly to the global implication of Chinese Tilapia in Albertson stores in the United States. I am sure Google and Wiki were designed for me.

As my very intelligent late husband used to say, I do not tolerate fools gladly. So you can imagine how very thrilled I am at the results of the last election. Maybe Mom was right and I would have been happier had I been dumb like my brother constantly told me. But I doubt it.

The coming four years is not going to be easy. Trump reminds me too much of my brother. And I don't like speeches where every three word sentence is repeated three times as if I am the dumb one. I just won't watch his speeches. And maybe I will learn to chit chat since dumb is now the new normal. Somehow I doubt it. I expect I will just spend more time on Google and Wiki.

I am considering doing a cross stitch sampler which says, "You Don't Have to be Intelligent to be Elected."

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Times They Are Changing

"Be careful what you ask for," my father used to caution. I was well read and very creative at a very young age and I could come up with curses to curl even the toes of goblins. Most were directed at my brother. We were never the best of friends even though I would protect him against the monsters down the street. He was a bit of wimp when it came to equals and grew up to become quite a beater of women.

Dad never quite understood that I wanted all those things I asked for in my curses to come true. I haven't talked to my brother in thirty some years. But I was reminded of him daily in this election cycle. Trump is like my brother in so many ways. My brother wasn't orange but he was a big mouth which always threw belittling put downs at me. Especially when he lost at a game but even when he won. I even stopped playing games with him to avoid losing or worse winning.  That is when I would come out with my hexes. Hexes to ward off the evil and protect myself. I think hexes is right. I had been deeply influenced by Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and several books about King Arthur and Merlin. And then there was the short story The Monkey's Paw so I knew even wishes had powers beyond our control.

When he got run over by the Baptist Church dump truck (but totally survived) I dialed it down a bit. Well, at least out loud. But I have been left with a firm belief that words, especially my words, have power. And I will confess to wanting change for this country. But, trust me, not Trump. Too much like my brother. They both scare me. So does my ex-stepson, too. He looks more like Trump.

Frankly, I believe I would have preferred a revolution. But seriously I wanted a constitutional convention. Not Trump. Never Trump. But as I was shown with The Monkey's Paw we seldom have control over how our wishes are translated. Dad was right. Be careful what you ask for. I am not always as careful as I should be. But surely this is not my fault. And the dump truck was driven by a drunk Baptist.

And if my ex-stepson is arrested as a serial killer I promise to never get on TV and say he was a good boy. And if my brother runs for president I will not vote for him. But this country needs change. I just hope this ends well.

But we are in for a bumpy ride.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Yellow Volkswagen

In college my father proposed to buy me a car upon completing my junior year on the Dean's list. He would buy the car for me but I had to afford everything else it required. I wanted a VW Beetle in butter cream yellow. I thought it was such a unique color. But I suddenly saw them everywhere. As I also begun to see all the expenses of a gift horse (well, Beetle). I was putting myself through college at the time. No student loans then. I had part time jobs on campus and close to campus. I mostly walked everywhere I needed to go. Or took the bus. Albuquerque had a good bus system. 

So as the spring semester inched on I saw more and more yellow Beetles and more and more flaws to my father's generous offer. But I also began to see just how expensive putting myself through college was. How much a toll on my life the jobs took. Not to mention the studying to keep up my grades. All my friends worried about me. I was no longer fun.

 I kept up my grades. I completed my junior year. And I quit college. It would be two miserable years before I would go back to the University of New Mexico and complete my degree. I kidded around that it was all the fault of the Yellow Volkswagen Syndrome (YVS). Until Dad had offered to buy me that car I had not seen all the flaws in my life and my choices. Hell, I was even majoring in the wrong subject, and for all the wrong reasons.

This election is my current YVS. Only this time the myriad cracks suddenly visible are not in my life but in my country. How in Hell did it get this bad without me noticing? Surely 2000 Election was a sign, but I figured the system would self correct. The Tea Party was a warning sign it hadn't. I saw the back peddling on women's issues as minor flaws, but then the minor flaws seemed to be more and more prevalent. Then they were everywhere. The DNC and the RNC picking their two standard bearers revealed the entire spiderweb for cracks and fissures in the Statue of Liberty and the land it represents.

It isn't just our infrastructure which is crumbling. Our Democracy is dust.

After years of working in the building trades I decided the bulldozer was under appreciated as a remodeling tool. Now I see that our country is not just a remodeling job like Trump proposes (Make American Great Again). A Constitutional convention will be too little and too late even if we achieve it. We need a complete and total rebuild. A revolution.

I will vote on Tuesday. I see it changing nothing. Fortunately I am old enough I will probably crumble before the Huns take the walls. Too bad. This seemed like such a great place to make history. But then the fall of the Roman Empire is history.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

When Life Gets Too Complicated

When life gets too complicated and overwhelming I often opt out. At least for a little while. This week has been like that. And increasingly more so. Yesterday I took radical action. I closed the my calendar, grabbed a camera and called to my loyal canine companion, and headed out to where I knew I would see nobody. I even left the cellphone in the truck.

I live in New Mexico mountains because such stolen time is easy to arrange. I only had to drive a couple of miles. I did not realize until I was walking with Magique at my side how long it had been since my labradoodle and I had done this solo.

Mardi Gras's passing in the last week of August had begun a round of walking with friends. I knew Magique was as lonely for our missing fur friend as I was, and I was constantly arranging play dates with friends with dogs and trails picked for the exercise and comradeship as opposed to solitude.

Maybe I was over complicating my life so I would not have to face the loss of my 17 year old Standard Poodle. Such walks as Magique and I took yesterday were common fare when Mardi Gras was here with us. Every stop I took for a photo opportunity I found myself looking for her. I once had two totally well trained photographer's dogs who stood behind and beside and never got in the frame if I stopped and raised the camera. Now I just have one.

It was a great walk yesterday. The weather was perfect and the photo opportunities quite nice. When you walk with just your fur kid there is a wonderful silence which fills the path. It is simple. And very calming to your soul.

We miss you Mardi Gras

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Through a glass darkly

Another spindoctor word. My sister used it yesterday. She wants to simplify her life. But unlike declutter I don't know that we have any control over simplification. Unless we commit murder, plead guilty and upon entering an ultimate "long care facility" with bars do something to get us thrown into solitary confinement with no hope of release.

Life generally is just messy. Let's take just passwords for those various techno machines designed to make our lives simpler. I once had this grand scheme for passwords. They came in two basic styles. I used the forbidden pet names for social media sites, and variations on a favorite author's name for ones demanding more security and then if I had to use other than letters substituted a letter with a number. Then suddenly I had to reset a password with one at least 8 characters long using upper and lower case letters and at least one number and a symbol (@#$&*or + but never (){} or []). At that point I went to the dreaded notebook to remember my fanciful creations.

And speaking of techno machines I began with a desktop computer, added a laptop and then a tablet. Sitting on my coffee table (too full of books to hold a coffee mug) is a Firestick which promises to simplify my TV streaming by bypassing the BluRay player (which will have to be plugged in when I want to watch CD's). Sort of afraid to open the box. 

The modem/router for my board band fiber optic service may have simplified my life (if someone would come up with one word or acronym to use) except that my photographic printer does not communicate with it even though it says it should. And to get photos from camera to desktop to laptop to tablet I am learning to use dropbox (maybe) but if I delete the tablet from the equation a jump drive just seems easier. Be nice if tablets had USB ports for jump drives. 

Would be nice if I could afford a computer guy to come in and make all the machines play nice with each other. So I took a part time job which required I fill out a time sheet and scan it in to email it to those writing checks (electronic deposit into bank but they still send a check I cannot cash). But now they have given me another tablet (cannot use mine), with another password (another set of requirements for said password) to record my hours on. To make a long story short it evidently reads imaginary characters on the log in like when you backspace to delete a letter you didn't mean to hit. I am constantly calling to have it unlocked. And so when it is not unlocked promptly there is a Time Correction/Adjustment Form for each and every day to be filled out and submitted electronically (scan and email or FAX). All this to cut down paper and transmission costs and simply the process so it stops abuse and fraud. I currently have four such sheets to fill out and FAX this morning.

Thinking fondly of that solitary cell in a maximum security facility. Wonder if it requires a password. How about IQuit? Oops, no number.