Thursday, November 26, 2020



Henry and Oliver, Yosemite 

Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them. Introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life. Ask permission before taking. Abide by the answer. Never take the first. Never take the last. Take only what you need. Take only that which is given. Never take more than half. Leave some for others. Harvest in a way that minimizes harm. Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken. Share. Give thanks for what you have been given. Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken. Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever.

Robin Wall Kimmerer, 
Braiding Sweetgrass 
Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Dysfunctional Resilience

 Last night I was reading in bed and I heard a crackling sound and then again a rustle and I thought it might be Sophie but I didn't feel like getting out of bed so I kept reading (Homeland Elegies) but that was it, the guilt was creeping in and then I heard coughing a tiny cough a choke, really, so I lay the book down and got out of bed and walked down the hall the short hall and into the darkness of the room where the lady lay the princess lay gurgling. I don't know how to write anymore and remember writing these tales before when I used commas and semi-colons and short muscular verbs. Now it's all run-ons and no punctuation and stream of thought because after nine months of being at home and teaching on Zoom and doing all the usual things with Sophie like marveling at her hair and feeling her grace and changing her diapers and managing her medication and arguing with her insurance company and paying Nice Neurologist to write me scrips and listen to my suggestions for what we should do next, well, there's no other way to get it all down. I flipped on the light and Sophie's lips were dark were they blue? was she breathing? had she had a seizure? where's the pulse-ox? Let's make a long story short (the requisite shall we?). Sophie is ok so no worries all is well thank god (where is god?) and I sat up with her all night, you see, because I knew in that moment that had I not gone into her room at that exact moment she might have died. It feels good to type that out here in the public space that is this old blog for you dear Reader some of you well over a decade. I just knew in my bones that this is how it will happen but that it did not happen not happen last night. I sat up all night and then I fell asleep and woke with a start at ten til nine and Sophie was still sleeping Sleeping Beauty right next to me her lips red red rosed. I had to teach at 9:30 on the Zoom and one of the Marias was coming at 9:00 so I got up from the bower where we lay and made coffee and opened the door to one of the Marias who would be taking over for me. Where was I? My friend Noa from days gone by calls this all of this dysfunctional resilience and I call it a tale, a happily ever after, thickets of thorns and brambles and words and thankfulness to be alive, even now with no punctuation.

Saturday, November 7, 2020


 It was the best day in a long long long long stream of days, wasn't it? When Kamala came out in her white suit, the tears started falling, and I felt absolutely nothing but happy when she spoke and then Joe spoke and then all those people in their families walked up there and all those silly fireworks went off and for a moment -- yes -- I felt glad to be American and to be a part of it. I remember going to a resistance meeting in another lifetime, shortly after walking with three quarters of a million people in downtown Los Angeles on the day after Dear Leader inaugurated himself and we talked so passionately about grassroots activism and what we'd need to do to change things and we did do those things but damn the years went by and wore us down and everything, literally everything, that we thought might happen did and more and nearly destroyed us and did destroy hundreds of thousands of lives but we kept it up. We kept up the calls and the postcards and the letters and the writing and the marching and the protesting and the talking and the arguing and holding people accountable and calling out bullshit when we heard it. We stopped when we were exhausted and other people stepped in. We laughed a lot but we were fucking sick of it all, too. And then this week happened and it was probably the weirdest three days ever, waiting to see what would happen, hunkered down in our homes, stepping over the homeless, ordering our groceries, teaching our kids, wearing our masks and posting memes and wiping up drool and comforting our seizing daughters and reading Twitter and novels and Louise Gluck poems and not sleeping and all the while trying to wrap our minds around the fact that nearly 70 million people who live on the same land actually wanted Dear Leader again, actually voted for the man and justified their votes with their usual talk of pocketbooks and Jesus and Israel and socialism and godlessness and killing babies. 

So, yeah, I'm very happy tonight. It's as if a weight has been lifted and thrown off, far off and we're all ready to do what's next. We hopefully won't ever have to hear from a leader who not only mocked disabled people but actively worked toward and supported and put into place policies that harmed our children. I don't want to ever talk about him again. Tonight, President-Elect Joe Biden included persons with disabilities in his speech and spoke in complete sentences with vigor and not a trace of malice or threat or law and order. He spoke little of himself and much of those who'd put him there up on that stage in Delaware and how wonderful that bells rang in France and people shouted in Germany and people danced in the streets all over this country, this grand and terrible place.

Thursday, November 5, 2020



On Tuesday night, when I saw 65 million people had voted for the man we call President in Terrible America, and after I'd felt disappointed then depressed then terrified then enraged then numb I threw the IChing, drew Hexagram 37 by tracing my hand writing writing writing into fingers and thumbs over palm, hunched over the tile table in my dining room. Hexagram 37 is Family (What will become of us? I'd asked). Be certain, however, that you are not involved in carrying out a role for which you are unsuited, or a role that has been cast upon you. This will rob your life of meaning. Every line of the hexagram changed, an occurrence that in the nearly forty years I've been using it, I've never seen. Skip straight to the transformed hexagram when all lines change. Look it up look it up look it up and then read Hexagram 40 (Liberation) which is sometime in the future so I eventually stood up minutes hours later peanut butter ghost redolent and walked down my dark hallway to the bedroom. It's a short walk but about when I'd gotten halfway my children smiling down from the wall of years the slant of moonlight disguised by the blue blinking LED light from the box over the door that waves in this constant stream of information to my room my sanctuary my sleep, I felt  suddenly enlightened (halfway) not by ghosts or peanut butter or Jesus or hands or Chinese oracles but by my persistent unconscious which was screaming exceptionalism is a lie. It was as if a hand were placed on the top of my head palm down the fingers draped over forehead (halfway) my eyes closed breathing there in the hallway (halfway) soothed.

Now it's Thursday and it's all a lot.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Forced to be an optimist


I can’t be a pessimist because I’m alive. To be a pessimist means that you have agreed that human life is an academic matter, so I’m forced to be an optimist. I’m forced to believe that we can survive whatever we must survive. 

James Baldwin



Let's go.


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