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SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2001
I might have been a bit premature last Tuesday in celebrating my quick recovery from three broken metatarsal bones. Maybe I "healed like a teenager" so the cast could be removed after only three weeks, but I'm finding there is more to it than that. Like getting strength back in the leg and ankle muscles, reducing the swelling in my foot and walking without pain. Since my foot saw the light of day on Tuesday, it has not been a particularly happy camper. My task is to use it as much as possible without putting myself at risk of falling.
So I'm still using La Lucha the scooter upstairs and Ona downstairs. Climbing the stairs two and three times a day takes major concentration and fortitude...and is surely good exercise. Every day brings subtle improvement. And once I start swimming again tomorrow night, I expect to see my healing progress even more rapidly. It should be the perfect exercise, besides being something I love to do. It feels like flying to me.
Speaking of flying, a friend emailed telling me of a meditation she had last Tuesday morning (the day my cast was removed). She wrote:
" I viewed us climbing a mountain together today. . .I had to image pretty fiercely to get me up there. . . you sailed up, hiking boots and a long skirt, sat on the top with an eagle on your shoulder, and after much back and forth talk, allowed her/him to fly you down, the good old feathered wings way, riding the winds and drafts. . .and me right behind you holding on to the eagle's best friend, been flying those between mountain spaces for years, but we were their first human trustables, trying out something new and risky. . . home, tired, soup, tea, and good sleep. . .sigh, head toward the window, looking for wings across the moon."
My friend can take me
along for the ride in her meditations anytime she wants!
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2001
I am so happy! I swam tonight and it went perfectly. No pain in my foot at all. In addition to 16 laps of the freestyle--about seven and a half Olympic laps--I worked on my kicks at the side of the pool. Swimming is the best exercise imaginable for someone like me, and it helps that I adore it. But how could I not? I feel strong and free in the water...like a mermaid.
All the logistics worked well. I scooted down to the middle school, which is less than a mile from our house. It was a clear night with temperatures in the 40s F. Quite comfortable. Once there, I found they had improved the disabled lift so I was able to get in and out of the pool with no problem. Tim, the lifeguard, has to pump it manually to lift me out of the water, so he definitely gets his exercise too!
I plan to swim again on Wednesday. Yippee!!
My daytime activity was to finish putting up my children's story, "Sacred World Web", on my site. I wrote this fable in the summer of 1993 while working with kids who lived in Detroit's inner city. The youngsters and I performed it several times, with my reading it and their using animal hand puppets to portray the various characters.
I was reminded of it recently at Day House's 25th birthday party, which brought together many members of Detroit's peace community. Al F., whom I hadn't seen in years, came up specifically to tell me how much the story had meant to him. He'd seen the kids and me perform it as part of an Anti-Handgun Vigil in front of the Spirit of Detroit statue back in 1993. The National Peace Action Annual Convention was meeting in Detroit, and many participants joined us that day. According to Al, folks are still talking about it.
So I went home and reread
it. I heard a message that made me think of our post-September
11 world. Funny how you write something, put it away, basically
forget about it, and then rediscover it as if it were brand new.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2001
Today was school day. How I love it! Why wasn't school so much fun when I had to go? Maybe for that very reason--because I HAD to go.
The kids were definitely more teachable today. I learned that Thanksgiving week is a tough three days for both teachers and students. Today Susan gave the fourth graders a fabulous introduction to drawing faces as they prepare to do self portraits. Did I tell you that the fourth grade classes will be working on screaming self portraits? Such a great way to engage their interest!
Last week's class started with Susan writing on the board all the ideas kids had for what might make them scream--both in pleasure and in fright. We had lists of insects, sisters and brothers doing sisterly and brotherly things (not things their parents would necessarily like to hear about), scary dogs and terrifying jungle animals, winning the lottery and lots of things I can't remember. Each student was to choose one of these or make up their own scream-producing topic and then write a story about it. Next, Susan took digital photos of all the kids--me too!--doing a silent scream. Hey, maybe this is what got them all excited! It really was fun. Next week each kid will receive a black-and-white print-out of their picture to use as an aid in drawing themselves.
Today's instruction about facial proportion--eyes halfway down the head, bottom of the nose halfway from eyes to chin, mouth halfway between the bottom of the nose and the chin, ears starting at the level of the eyes and ending at the bottom of the nose, etc.--was excellent! Then she gave an intensive on how to draw the eye. I'd forgotten all that stuff, so found it quite valuable to practice the drawing exercises in my sketchbook. I now have a class sketchbook like all the kids.
By the way, I sit at a table with everyone else and do whatever Susan has them do. To be honest, I don't really know what I'm bringing to the classroom in the way of assistance, except that Susan and the kids seem to like having me there. And I sure like being with them. Funny how I originally came in as an "art therapist" but this unofficial position of "classroom friend" seems to have evolved on its own. Maybe that's what being a volunteer means...to let the place and people show you what they want, rather than your coming in and telling them. Well, whatever it is I'm doing there, we all seem to be happy with it.
The fifth graders were on a field trip so Susan and I had a nice leisurely lunch break. I talked her into going out to her car and getting the paintings she's taking to her graduate school art class tonight. She and I share a love of jazz. Today we were listening to Miles Davis's last CD, the one based on colors. It especially appealed to Susan as her most recent series of paintings is called "Jazz".
Here are the three paintings she showed me--Jazz #1, Jazz #2, Jazz #3. Aren't they wonderful? Can't you just hear the mellow sax, lilting piano, wailing trumpet, pulsing bass, steady beat of the snare drum? They are watercolors on full-size sheets of watercolor paper. I can't remember--is that 30" by 24"? Something like that. Anyway, I adore her work!
Susan then went off to get her lunch. While she was gone, three of my friends from a fourth grade Monday class came to visit. One of them was the computer whiz who had created a get well card that everyone in the class signed for me last week. In our conversation today, I told them about keeping this journal with its digital pictures. When I said I was sorry I couldn't take their pictures without first having their parent's permission, we decided there were ways around that.
First the girls turned their backs and looked at some pictures on the wall. Next they got three picture books and opened them in front of their faces. Smart girls! As often happens, one of them wanted to take a picture of me, so she did. I didn't need my mother's permission. Lucky me!
Actually, I do feel so
lucky to have fallen into this delightful "work." It's
a highlight of my week.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2001
It's only 4:30 PM and dusk is already falling. Today has been dark grey from start to finish. Now, this looks more like what I expect November to be. But I have no complaints. It's been positively beautiful until this week. My more earth-centered friends would remind me that grey and rain are also beautiful; the earth needs it all.
Happily, grey skies didn't stop the window washers from coming. I'd be hard put to say how long it's been since our windows have been washed inside and out. All I know is, I am certainly enjoying looking out of sparkling clean windows. It's almost as if they aren't there.
Actually, our house was a beehive of activity this morning: the window washers at 9 AM; Joe, our house painter/handyman, at 9:20 AM; and Susan, our every-two-weeks house cleaner, at 11 AM. This is definitely not our norm. Ed and I are what I would call house-easy folks. Our philosophy is as long as it doesn't leak, break, fall apart, self-destruct, don't fix it. We're fortunate that we both feel that way. I've seen house-proud persons married to house-easy folks, and it isn't a happy match. We both love this old house and do what needs to be done to keep it safe and sound, but honor its "old shoe" essence. However, there are some jobs that need to be attended to, so that's why Joe came around to give us estimates. He'll start working tomorrow.
Even though it could be moist tonight, I still plan to scoot down to the pool. Swimming day is a happy day for me.
Yes, it was moist coming home, but no problem. More like heavy San Francisco fog or an early spring drizzle. Anyway, I'd just spent 45 minutes in the water, so it wasn't as if I was afraid of getting wet.
The swimming was super!
When I'm in the water, I enter a different dimension. It is supremely
silent, with few visual distractions. I have the sense of playing
happily by myself in a totally welcoming environment. Like a dolphin
or a sea turtle. It calms and energizes me all at the same time.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2001
I'm beginning to sound like a broken record. Every day I say today I did my favorite thing. Monday and Wednesday it was swimming. Tuesday it was being with the kids at school. And today? Making art with my friends Penny and Sooz.
Not just making art. We ate Sooz's delicious homemade potato and cauliflower soup, nibbled on Avalon Bakery sweet rolls and Middle Eastern pistachio pastries, enjoyed Penny's special bread and brownies, and drank cups of hot Bengal Spice tea. Then we talked. Our conversations go so many places, I couldn't begin to track them. But life-giving, honest, politically aware, socially conscious, feminist, spiritual, earth-centered, intimate, funny and creative are a few words that come to mind. And, of course, music was part of our day. Whether singing along with Carolyn McDade's CD as we worked, or playing tambourines and my Vietnamese wooden frog, music was always present.
Today we three met for our third official Art Day. Sooz brought wreaths, bunches of dried flowers and assorted creative treasures for us to play with. The idea was to work with masks of our own faces--we each brought that--and make a wreath that embodied our sense of personal power. Of course, nothing was set in stone; we could do whatever we wanted.
Penny was intrigued by my glitter paint and face mask. She ended up working in her journal most of the day, except when she and Sooz helped me do things like attach feathers to ribbons and pull the glue gun trigger with the strength it required. Sooz started putting together her Medusa wreath and read aloud some fascinating background on this gorgon with whom she identifies. With the creative suggestions and hands-on help of my friends, I completed a wreath that will be my mask for the Council of All Beings that we are planning for June. I am the wind.
We played together from
11 AM to 5 PM and the day was far too short. How I love being
with these women.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2001
Every afternoon for a week, I've been watching Ken Burns' PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) film series "Jazz". I just finished video #6 out of 10. Ella Fitzgerald just appeared on the scene in 1936 and by 1938, at age 19, she was already billed as the "Leading Lady of Jazz". Count Basie has come out of Kansas City to redefine "Swing" in a musically improvisational way, and while on tour in 1938 Duke Ellington's band captured all of Europe except Hitler's Germany where he and his band members--all persons of color--were not allowed to get off the train even to stretch their feet. The outbreak of war was just months away.
I cannot get enough of it! Not only have Burns and his team brought together the story of jazz in an engaging, musically sophisticated way, but they've managed to place it within the larger American story that surrounds it. The high-flying '20s and sorely depressed years of the '30s. But Burns goes deeper than that. He presents the often ugly picture of race prejudice and divisions in a way that does not judge, merely shows it like it was. The "Colored Only" entrances, water fountains, toilet facilities. The "Whites Only" dance clubs, hotels, restaurants. The lynchings down south. The prejudice up north.
It helps me see what is going on in my country and the world today as part of the same story. It gives me hope that the current human rights abuses and loss of civil liberties here in the US will not always exist. It shows me models of strength and grace among those men and women who were most oppressed. It allows me the vision to stand back from today and see it as part of a never-ending continuum of life among the human race--beauty and horror, often at the same time.
It is so much more than jazz. I am experiencing men and women who do not allow what is going on around them, whether it be the Great Depression or the horror of lynchings, to stifle their creative fire and the joy they find in expressing themselves musically. That is not to say they close their eyes to what is going on around them; it merely means they don't get stuck there. By expressing their originality and musical genius, they are working for justice and an equal society.
That is quite a lesson. Especially for me. Especially now.
I read about such things as President Bush's November 13th Military Order that the US will now have military tribunals (also called military commissions) to try non-US citizens. According to Amnesty International, "The commissions would not guarantee defendants the right to know the reasons for their arrest or the charges against them, would not guarantee defendants competent legal representation or the right to avoid self incrimination, and would not guarantee the right to appeal their sentence." The penalty for those convicted may be death. Other countries are not necessarily applauding the institution of these US military commissions. For instance, the same judge in Spain who brought charges against Pinochet of Chile refuses to extradite eight cell members arrested in Spain unless the US will be trying them in a civilian court as opposed to a military court.
The Immigration Service will now track all foreign students so that they will be aware of their whereabouts at all times. Not only that, yesterday I received an email from the Michigan branch of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) that "letters will be arriving in the mail to 566 Arab men, including 80 in Ann Arbor, on student visas between the ages of 18 and 33 in the area. These letters are sent by the FBI and will ask for interviews. This singling out of Arabs by the FBI can be called nothing but ethnic profiling." There was to be an information session held last night at the University of Michigan with the legal director for the ACLU of Michigan. As he wrote, "It is absolutely important that anybody who speaks to the authorities knows their rights. The letter does not mention that you may have an attorney and/or translator present."
I learned in another email--this one announcing a Dearborn demonstration yesterday to protest the racial profiling detailed above--that "1,200 Arab men are currently detained. A Senior Law Enforcement Official said that only 10 to 15 of them may be sympathizers of Al-Qaeda. One man died in custody; the prison doctor said it was from a broken heart. A Palestinian US Citizen wears a tether because his son visited from the Middle East."
Last night I received an email from an activist sister in Windsor, ONT, that referred me to an article in Common Dreams.org telling of US plans to extend its "war on terrorism" to Iraq with the intention of finally taking Saddam Hussein out once and for all, in other words to assassinate him. So the US would again wage war on a people who have endured 11 years of economic sanctions that continue to kill 5000 children a month--September 11th times 12 times 11--and for what? To finish off a two-bit dictator so the US can put in a puppet-leader who will let them extend their precious oil pipeline across Iraq, after they've done the same thing in Afghanistan?
I read these things and they wound me like a missile fired at my heart.
How do people go on about their day-to-day lives with nary a thought about what is happening around them? Is it because these things are happening to the "other", whether in Afghanistan or Iraq or among persons of Arab descent here in the US? Persons whom they do not know personally or encounter in their daily lives?
And yet, I look at the jazz musicians of the '20s and '30s, often persons of color who experienced unfair and sometimes violently abusive treatment because of their race, and I see people living fully and being totally themselves. How did they do it? On the surface of it, it seems that they ate, slept, breathed their art, and thereby transcended what was going on around them.
Can I do that? Do I want
to? Somehow I feel I must live my life fully, creatively, with
zest and enthusiasm, while at the same time holding sight of how
far from truth and justice and peace the world around me has fallen.
It is both/and not either/or. And that's the trick.
Well, I'll just keep working with it...and keep learning from
the jazz masters I'm meeting every day in the film series "Jazz".
They show me it can be done.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2001
Do you ever go someplace for one reason only to find you were there for reasons you couldn't have known ahead of time?
I went to a Holly Near concert tonight with my friends. I thought I was there primarily because I so enjoy being with them...and of course, Holly is always wonderful. I was also happy to support Affirmations, the Detroit Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender community group for whom this concert was a benefit. My new friend Lisa had kindly offered to pick me up, and we were to meet a group of women friends for dinner before the concert. It was at the restaurant that I first realized this evening had an energy and purpose all its own.
We were enjoying our Chinese or Thai soup--the restaurant served both--when Deanne showed up with a woman I didn't know. She was using a kind of one-armed walker that I'd never seen before, so I commented on it. Well, I soon found out that her device was as quirky as mine! Where windchime walker is an art object, Miyaca's walker offers comic relief in the form of a Mexican horse that talks. In a brief conversation later in the evening, I was touched to hear her say that her stroke had opened up a wonderful world that she could never have known without it. I understood what she meant and she knew that I did.
Another unexpected connection occurred immediately after the concert. A man in the front row had told Holly that he'd come all the way from New York City to see her perform here tonight. I spoke to him as he and his friends passed by our seats on their way into the lobby. Well, Mike spent the next ten minutes or so singing to us, praying an Irish blessing over me, sharing that his lover had been killed in the World Trade Center on September 11, telling us how he'd gotten the clothes he was wearing after his luggage was lost coming in from New York, and informing us that he was leaving on a British Airways flight in the morning to do a reconciliation service in Belfast with Catholics and Protestants, and later in the Middle East with Palestinians and Israelis. He also told me that he'd been diagnosed with MS in 1988, as was I. Here is a picture of my new friends Chris, Mike and Kwesi.
Now the main reason I had come to the concert--to be with my friends--still held true. I think you can see that in these photos of Peg, Sooz and I, and Lisa and I. And this doesn't even show the rest of my friends who were there. It was like old home week. Actually more like the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, because so many women in the audience were festi-goers. Holly Near is a Women's Music icon.
And it was Holly who showed me the other reason why I was there tonight. This woman has been in the struggle for civil rights, women's rights, gay and lesbian rights, environmental responsibility, equal distribution of economic resources, and has marched and sung against war and oppression worldwide since she came on the music scene in the early 1970s. So when she spoke of her feelings about what is happening now in the United States and Afghanistan, I was not surprised. What did surprise me was when she sang my all-time favorite Holly Near song, "The Great Peace March." I used to play that song over and over again on the first Holly Near tape I ever bought. Tonight I sang along with tears streaming down my face. It was just what I needed to hear.
There was one final reason
I was there tonight. It was to be reminded that today was World
AIDS Day and that yesterday had been the seventh anniversary of
my friend Joel Payne's passing. When John Bucchino, Holly's co-musician
on the piano, sang and played his poignant song about AIDS, I
felt Joel was singing through him. My heart friend and train buddy.
I miss you.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2001
One more beautiful sunny day. We're getting spoiled here in Detroit. I can't remember another December when roses were still in bloom. Not just roses, but cosmos and some golden flowers I did not know by name. There was even a young maple that had not completely dropped its autumn cloak of leaves. The grass was as green as if it were spring. And the squirrels seemed as happy about it as we humans.
Now all this could change overnight, but I hope it doesn't. I so enjoy being able to scoot around and about. Like today. I scooted down to Kinko's copy center to order our holiday cards. We're using my pen-and-ink drawing that I call "Sacred World Web" with the message "May the beauty of nature remind us of the wonder of the season." The message is not original: I copied from my friend Dorothy's holiday card of 2000. I was delighted to be able to order 50/30% recycled paper for the cards. They'll have a proof ready for me tomorrow.
After my Kinko's business, I scooted the three miles to Ed's office. It wasn't just for the fun of it; I had a purpose in mind. Ona has not been operating properly for a number of months. What happens is that the battery indicator light starts showing the battery is beginning to run down after only a few blocks. That should not happen until I've gone at least four miles.
We took it for service with no success. We even bought two new batteries, but the problem remained. About a week ago, Ed discovered a faulty connection in the charging mechanism, so he ordered a part from the factory and replaced it himself on Friday. My hero! But the battery indicator light was still acting up, so Ed suggested I try running it until it died. I wouldn't get stranded because we arranged that I'd call him on my cell phone, and he'd get in the car and come rescue me and the scooter wherever I was.
Today seemed like a good day to try it. So I ran Ona four miles, but my hands got pretty darn chilly before I reached Ed's office. The sun was still out but no longer offered much warmth. Eddie brought me inside, made me a hot cuppa tea and sat me down at his computer. Then he took off on Ona, with the intention of running it out. By then the battery indicator lights were flashing and a beep beep was sounding, in what was supposed to be the final warning before the battery gave out. Ed took it around and around a circle of streets near his office for an hour--he thinks it was four miles in all--before it finally died. That seems to point to a problem with the battery indicator rather than the battery or operating mechanism itself. Tomorrow I'm going to call the Amigo factory/service center and see if we can bring Ona up there this week. It's about an hour and a half north of Detroit in what is called the Michigan thumb.
A short geography lesson: Michigan's lower penninsula is shaped like a mitten so Michiganders always put up their left hand, fingers closed, palm facing out and point with their right hand to where they live within the mitten. We live at the right edge of the hand just below the thumb.
When I got home, I came upstairs to my computer room, unwrapped the CD I'd bought at Holly Near's concert last night and put it on. Wow!!! What a perfect gift for me at this time. It's as if every song on it had been written after September 11 by a kindred soul. Political, truth-telling and musically exciting. Remember my sharing the words to "1000 Grandmothers" in my journal after Notable Women sang it at our last rehearsal? That song is on it.
The CD, titled "Edge", is Holly's most recent and can be ordered off the Holly Near web site. It features not only Holly and the pianist John Bucchino but a fabulous collection of Northern California's finest musicians and vocalists, including Joey Blake from whom I took Voicestra circle singing workshops for a couple years in Berkeley, CA. Joey is an extraordinary vocalist and exceptional human being. This CD brings everything and everyone together.
I was just playing it
again a few minutes ago when Eddie came upstairs to kiss me good
night. Now, Ed and I usually have different political views and
musical tastes, but not this time. He took the liner notes and
read along as Holly sang three of the songs. He was amazed! "This
is something new...at least to me!" That is high recommendation
if both Ed and I appreciate it.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2001
Today was a swimming day. As you know, that makes me very happy. I swam without stopping for 40 minutes and it felt fabulous. I've added a couple laps each time; tonight I was up to 22. I think that would be about 10 Olympic-sized laps of the outdoor pool. I cannot tell a lie: what pleased me most was that everyone who started swimming when I did, left the pool before me. I'm sure they swam at least twice the number of laps I did--I'm as slow as a tortoise (sea turtle?)--but, hey, I exercised longer than they.
Did I ever tell you I'm competitive? You should have seen me in my running days!
Good news about my scooter Ona. I called the Amigo factory service department and had a very informative conversation with a fellow named Eric. He concurs with our suspicion that the problem is most likely with the battery indicator rather than the batteries. Only problem is that would mean the whole control panel has to be replaced--a pricey undertaking. Ah well, I'll do whatever is needed to get her in good working order again, especially before I take off for San Francisco in January. Out there I depend on my scooter like most people depend on their car. She's my wheels...my freedom!
Part of the good news was that I learned there's an Amigo scooter repairman named Randy who lives in the Detroit area and makes house calls. Eric said he trained him and has every faith in his abilities. Ed and I don't mind paying extra to avoid spending a day on the road going up to the factory in Bridgeport, so Randy it is.
Before going swimming,
I scooted down to Kinko's to proof our holiday card. The drawing
looks good, but unfortunately they'd neglected to put the message
inside. I don't mind scooting back down there tomorrow because
it's close to the place where I bought my glasses. I sat on them
as I was changing into my bathing suit in the locker room, and
now have one earpiece sticking straight up! I trust the good weather
will hold for another day.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2001
According to the forecast, we have one more day of this beautiful extended autumn weather. I intend to look back and say I used it well. That was certainly true today. I left the house on Ona my scooter at 12:30 PM and didn't return home until 5 PM! It was a day of errands--getting my glasses fixed, stopping by Kinko's to do the final proofing of our holiday cards, stopping by two markets and one drug store, and going to the business store to buy address labels for the cards. But, as always, surprises accompanied the mundane.
First, it was being greeted by a smiling woman when I scooted into the grocery store. This is a relatively small supermarket where I used to shop more than 20 years ago. Faith, who has worked there for 26 years (!) said she recognized my big smile and warmly resonating voice. She said, "You always livened us up when you came in. And I remember you bought healthy foods!" I then saw Randy, whom I recognized from years past. He's worked in the store for 20 years and proudly showed me his pin with a star for each 5 years worked. It's nice to remember and be remembered.
Then at the business store, I saw a wondrously unique beaded purse hanging from the shoulder of the woman ahead of me in line. I asked if it was artist-made and she said, "Yes, by me." Her name is Robin Perrone and these purses--she's making one for a friend right now--take months to complete. She strings hundreds of small colorful beads on yarn and then knits the yarn into a purse. The strap is a stunning array of larger beads. I've never seen anything like it. Apparently she takes commissions, so if you want to pursue the idea, simply email me and I'll put you in touch with her. Here's a close-up of the purse, and a picture of it hanging from Robin's shoulder.
The next surprise occurred in an aisle of another market. There was Eddie walking right toward me! And what was I there to get? Would it shock you to hear it was Odwalla juices?
After purchasing my precious juices, we walked/scooted together to his office. I then took the lake route home. I suspect you're not surprised to hear that either. It was lovely down by the water. The lowering sun highlighted bare trees and green grass along the median overlooking the lake. There was even a bed of scarlet geraniums still in bloom. A parade of bikers, walkers--with and without dogs--runners, and one scooter were out savoring this next-to-last mild sunny day.
As hard as this autumn
has been in so many ways, Michigan, at least, has been showered
with gifts of natural beauty beyond imagining. We can only be
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2001
What a day!!! Sunny, temperatures in the mid-60s F., blue skies and everybody out on the streets. Ed and I used it well by going to Ann Arbor, scooting through the University of Michigan campus, and getting together with an old friend for lunch. When I say "old", I mean in terms of the duration of the friendship.
Eddie and Frankie first met in a third grade classroom at Ann Arbor's Angell School in 1937. Ed and his family had just returned from living in Vienna, Austria for two years, and Frank and his family had been in Ann Arbor for only four years. They had escaped Germany in 1933, just as Hitler was imposing greater legal restrictions on the Jews. Frank credits his mother with having the prescience to insist they leave Berlin immediately after his father was stripped of his position as head of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Berlin because he was a Jew. Many family members and friends perished because they stayed.
Ed and Frank have been friends for 64 years. Now, that is a friendship!
In addition to seeing Frank, we did a little shopping. Shopping is not one of my favorite activities--except at women's music festivals--but somehow Ann Arbor's different. There's a store on Liberty Street that I like very much. It's kind of a funky place with imports from India, Equador, Guatemala, Nepal, Indonesia and other countries. The owner/buyer assures me the craftspersons receive fair prices for their goods, and I trust she's right. Today I found the perfect warm turtleneck top. Guess what color? If you said purple, you're wrong! It's red. I can tell it's going to be my uniform in San Francisco. Very cozy.
We also bought me a Walkman-type CD player with earphones. It's an extravagance, but one I'm sure will be well used...on the train going to San Francisco, for starters.
So now Ed's finished buying me holiday gifts. See, that wasn't so bad.
It was still so beautiful when we got close to home that I had Ed drop me and Ona my scooter off at the commercial street near us. I just couldn't go inside yet! So I went to the post office and got the Eid Arabic-design stamps I want to use for our holiday cards. After a brief stop at the fabric/craft store for some sturdy cord to reattach Ona's windchime, I scooted home.
Tonight was my swimming night. What a mild evening for a scoot! Beautiful. The swim was beautiful too. Forty minutes of solid pleasure.
Tomorrow I'll be at the
school all day. Ed will drop Ona and me off in the morning
and Susan, the art teacher I assist, will drive me home after
school. Now, I have to tell you she lives an hour away from me,
but sincerely offered to do this. What a gift!
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2001
How does she do this every day?!? This being teach art to six classes of lively youngsters. She being Susan the art teacher I assist in a Dearborn public school one day a week. Now the word "assist" doesn't really describe what I do, but I don't know what else to call it. I simply sit at a table with the kids and do the art projects they're doing. Occasionally I scoot around to see what they're up to, give encouragement to the frustrated, affirm the ones who proudly show me their work, and set up five-minute periods of silence when I can talk the class into it. Now what would you call that?
In the night, I thought that maybe what I'm doing is being a grandmother in the classroom. You know, kind of like Holly Near's song that my women's group loves to sing--"1,000 Grandmothers". Whatever it might be called, I adore doing it and Susan and the kids seem to like having me there. That's all that matters.
As the kids get used to having me around, intimate tidbits of their lives pass between us. Like the fourth grade boy at my table whose little brother was run over by a car on the way home from school yesterday. Apparently the seven-year old has a fractured skull but is already home from the hospital. As I understand it, T. was supposed to be watching his brother as they walked home, but had run ahead to be with his friends. My guess is that he feels to blame. Now, T. is often a behavior problem, but not today. He really got into drawing his screaming self portrait and did an excellent job. I think it probably reflected what he's been doing inside his head since yesterday.
Then there was the fourth grade girl who had missed the first day of working on this screaming self portrait. Art doesn't come easily to her anyway, but today she got terribly frustrated. Fortunately she sits beside me so I could see her distress. She must have erased the outline of her eyes ten or twelve times, and each time she got more upset. We were able to talk a bit about her feelings and her struggle for "perfection", whatever that is. I hope I offered her another way of looking at things.
In another class, a third grade girl sitting at my table brought up the subject of religion. It helps to know that the vast majority of students in this school are Arab American Muslims. Many of the kids are fasting--even from water--during the month of Ramadan. The school will be closed December 17th and 18th for the two-day celebration of Eid, when Ramadan ends.
This blond-haired blue-eyed girl said her mother wants her to make more Christian friends. According to her, some kids don't want her to visit their houses because she's Christian. "They tease me about my skin being white." On one side of her was a Christian boy--he said as much--and on the other side, a Muslim girl. We all agreed that people are people no matter what their religion or color.
Whoever started that myth about it's being easier to be a child than an adult? Seems to me these three youngsters were dealing with similar stresses to their parents and grandparents. Is it my fault? Am I good enough? What does it mean to be different?
How many wars and terrorist actions try unsuccessfully to answer these three questions?
I always wish I could show you pictures of these beautiful children, but I don't feel I could do so without getting their parents' permission. But, like last week, I took one picture that I think I can share. It is of the second graders lined up to go back to their regular classroom. The art teacher Susan is the only one who's facing the camera.
Speaking of Susan, do you recall her three wonderful Jazz paintings that I showed in my November 27 journal entry? Well, a regular reader who works for an art publishing house saw the paintings and fell in love with them. After exchanging emails, it appears that one of Susan's paintings is going to be published in an upcoming book on painting! I couldn't be more pleased...nor could Susan.
There were two more encounters
that especially touched me today. One third grade girl came up
and stood quietly beside me as I was working on my self portrait.
When I looked up, she smiled shyly and said, "My brother
told me about you. He said you're the best visitor we ever had."
Then a fourth grade girl handed me a drawing and said, "I
made it for you." It was a portrait of a smiling girl with
the word "peace" written eleven times around her face.
How could she have known that particular word said everything
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2001
Today was Ona my scooter's day to get fixed. Randy, who does house calls for the Amigo Factory in Bridgeport, MI, spent two hours working her over. After testing the batteries, battery charger and control panel, he determined the problem was in the control panel, so he replaced it. There were a few other small problems that he fixed as well. When we get a good day for scooting, I'll take her out and put her through her paces. Sure would be nice to see my scooter friend back up to snuff!
Joe was also here continuing to work on Ed's bathroom--stripping wallpaper, plastering and priming the walls before he paints them. That man is a hard worker! We've had him doing a number of jobs around the house this week--repairing the small hole in my bathroom wall that Brian the plumber had had to make when he replaced our water pipes last spring, making a wooden ramp for the front steps so Ed can more easily take my scooter in and out of the house, painting wood sealer on the insect-compromised baseboard panels in our garage, and even giving our garage the most thorough cleaning it's had in years. Seems like Joe can do most anything he sets his mind to.
I had a lovely low-key
day. I watched Randy work on Ona, read a little, took care of
some email business, opened up and thoroughly enjoyed listening
to my new portable CD player, updated our holiday greeting card
list on the computer, wrote a brief note to go inside our cards,
finished watching video #7 in the Ken Burn's 10-video PBS "Jazz"
series, had my favorite dinner--a crabcake sandwich--with Ed,
did our few dishes and then came upstairs to write today's journal
entry. I'm now listening to a program that is featuring music
from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia as part of "In Performance"
on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) radio. Whenever I hear
such beautiful Celtic-inspired music, my roots start to vibrate.
They are roots I don't often think about, but they recognize their
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2001
Brrrr!!! My first cold scooter ride of the season. Actually all that got chilled were my hands, but they were definitely not happy that I'd forgotten to wear mittens. As soon as I got down to the main commercial street, I popped into the first gas station/food shop I saw and gratefully bought a $2.75 pair of men's working gloves. They sure felt good.
But even with the cold, flowers were still in bloom. Believe me, it's a novel sight--in Michigan anyway--to see a rose peeking through a thicket of Christmas lights!
Before I left home, we'd tried the portable ramp that Joe had constructed to cover the front steps this week. It worked wonderfully well for Ed to push the scooter in and out of the house. And I was surprised to see that--although it is a very steep grade--I could actually ride my scooter down it. Going up was another story. I think we'll end up using the ramp as it was originally intended--for Ed to free wheel the scooter in and out of the house. It certainly makes for an easier transfer, and that's what we were after.
To get back to my scoot, the glasses store was my destination. They'd called to say my frames had come in. Actually, I hadn't ordered new frames, so I thought they meant the earpiece I'd ordered. When I'd sat on my glasses at the pool last Monday, I'd done damage that required more than simply twisting them back into shape. Fortunately, the whole thing was only going to cost me $10 because of the insurance I'd purchased when I'd gotten this pair of glasses. With blended trifocals and special lightweight lenses like mine, you sure don't want to have to replace them at full cost. As it turned out, they had ordered a new pair of frames for me instead of just the earpiece. They gave them to me for the original quoted price of $10. Pretty neat trick!
After a warm bowl of red bean and rice soup at the bagel shop next door, I scooted back home. Ona's battery indicator dropped a notch after only one and a half miles, so I'm not sure the new control panel fixed the problem. Ed took her out later in the afternoon to see how many miles he could go before the battery completely died. After an hour--3 miles--the light started blinking and it began to beep its final warning. He's going to continue his experiment tomorrow. Even with Ed's extra weight, that still means I would probably only get 7 miles on flat terrain before the warning signals kicked in. I sure would like to get more distance than that...especially in San Francisco with the added hills.
Pat K. came over with her portable massage table about 4:30 PM. This dear friend--and wonderful massage therapist--has faithfully given me a massage here at home every week since I broke my foot. What a gift! She then boiled spaghetti and heated the pesto sauce she had brought to share for dinner. Ed had gotten us lovely mixed greens for a salad, so we had a terrific meal. After dinner Pat and I watched the video, "Breakfast At Tiffany's". It's always a shock to see where we were in our collective consciousness back in the '50s and '60s. Our culture has grown up a lot since then.
And now it's almost 1
AM and I am ready to hit the sack. See you tomorrow night.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2001
There are moments of pure bliss that come upon you unawares. You're going about your business and suddenly there is joy staring you in the face. It happened to me tonight.
My Canadian friends Pat and Joan were driving me back home after our monthly Notable Women singing rehearsal and group dinner at the Pita Cafe. We started singing in the car. It was dark outside, we're driving along the highway--two women and I--singing old songs together. Singing with feeling, I might add. Songs like "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes", "Secret Love", "On The Street Where You Live", "The Way You Look Tonight", "Moon River", "Unchained Melody", "As Time Goes By".
I am sitting by the right window in the back seat of our navy blue Pontiac convertible. The dashboard lights are glistening and car lights flash by as we ride down the highway. It is dark outside. Daddy is driving, Mommy in the seat beside him. I see the red glow of their cigarettes. The windows are open and my short red hair blows in the warm spring breeze. It's Sunday night and we're coming home from our cottage at the beach. We've just finished listening to "Amos and Andy" on the radio. Carolyn, Miss Em and I start singing "The Ash Grove", a song we learned at camp. Carolyn goes into a harmony and I try to keep to the melody without sliding into her part. Daddy joins in. All is right with the world.
And so it was tonight. All was right with the world. Pat was laughing, Joan remembered every single word, and I was being overly dramatic as we sang of love and longing.
How we needed this. What a hard autumn it has been. How rare to experience pure joy since September 11. And how essential it is to refind it now that winter is upon us.
But tonight I didn't have
to find joy; it found me.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2001
And the good weather continues. No frost, no ice, no snow. A bit chilly, but lovely in the sun. Flowers still in bloom, grass still green, squirrels as active as if it were October. What a December! A friend says it's evidence of global warming. Probably so. And yet...beauty is beauty.
I took advantage of it by scooting to a restaurant a mile away for lunch with my friends Joan and Brigitte. We first met in water aerobics at the park back in summer 2000. Our friendship solidified this summer and has deepened in our now-regular lunch dates. I forgot my camera today but can show you summer pictures of Joan dancing at the Concert of Colors and Brigitte with her Parisian grandchildren Max and Stella at the park.
It is such a gift to have intelligent, wise and humorous friends with whom to discuss issues of global significance and silliness all at the same lunch. Both of them have rich and interesting backgrounds--Joan as a journalist and newspaper editor for 40 years, and Brigitte as a book editor who had the painful experience of being a homeless refugee at age 11 in Germany after World War II had officially ended.
See what can come of water aerobics? And I thought I was there for exercise.
I must show you a picture I took at yesterday's Notable Women singing rehearsal. It was our Solstice celebration and, as part of it, we went around the circle sharing what had given us joy in the past year. Judith spoke of her gratitude for Nancy, her new love, and for her 16 year-old dog, her old love. She mentioned that he was out in the car waiting for her. Well, that pushed someone's button in the group.
Joan T. is more than a dog lover; she adores them. And she has found the perfect way to express this love by sitting for animals when their owners go off on vacation. We all agree that when we die, we'd like to come back as Joan's dog.
So Joan spoke up and said,
"Oh no! We have to bring him inside!" When another woman
said she wasn't sure we should do that because this was the Unitarian
Universalist church's worship space and what if a member of their
congregation was allergic to dogs, Joan said, "Well
then, I'll go out and sit in the car with him." She wasn't
being difficult; it was just that she couldn't enjoy herself knowing
that an old dog was sitting outside in a cold car. Fortunately,
one of the women remembered that the minister had a dog who frequently
visited this space, so Judith went out to bring her dog inside.
Here is Joan
meeting the old dog.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2001
Do you ever wish you were not so conscious, aware, informed? On days like today I can understand the 90% of Americans whom the polls say support President Bush and his actions since September 11. It would be so comforting to give up my need to know, my responsibility to look at the larger picture, my commitment to truth and justice, and let someone in power tell me everything is black or white, good or evil, us or them. It would be like returning to childhood when Daddy was the arbiter of ideas, opinions, decisions and actions. It would be much much easier than trying to make my way through today's confusing, contradictory, complex international and domestic situations and come to responsible decisions that lead to actions for which I am willing to hold myself accountable.
The news that dumped me into a pot hole of discouragement was that Fast Track--Bill HR 3005--passed the House of Representatives by one vote. Fast Track is "a procedure through which Congress gives the president authority to negotiate trade agreements and provides special rules for considering those agreements. Fast Track transfers constitutionally-mandated powers of Congress to the Executive Branch." It almost certainly means a speeded-up expansion of NAFTA to the rest of the Western Hemisphere through the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). And the oligarchy gains ground.
How to remain hopeful in these times? How to continue the struggle for truth and peace and justice when public dissent has been declared an act of terrorism (see the Patriot Act of 2001)? How to console yourself when, according to the polls, only 10% of the American people are not in lockstep with President Bush and his advisers?
If I simply stayed in my head, I'd be lost. I must go to another part of my being, the part that believes the words and music I sing--the spiritual within me that resonated today as I read an email from my friend Marcia. In it she quoted these words of our mutual friend, Carolyn McDade: "May I be faithful."
If Carolyn were speaking religiously, I would not give it a second thought. But she's not. She is a woman of global consciousness, courageous action and unrelenting truth. Someone I love and admire. A model of how to live in today's world with your eyes and mind and heart open. Creatively, authentically, passionately.
And so I ask myself, what does it mean to be faithful? To what am I faithful? The answer is halting but clear. I am to be faithful to what I feel called to do and be in today's world...a voice of truth, peace, justice and reconciliation. I am not to worry about what happens or fails to happen because of my words or presence. The outcome is not my concern. That does not mean I do not want the best possible outcome; it simply means that whatever happens will not stop me from speaking and being as I must.
I can't help but believe we have been prepared for these times, that in some profound way they are the reason we are here. I think of the persons of courage who dared to say the emperor was wearing no clothes during the McCarthy era. They paid mightily, often with their jobs, sometimes with their lives. So here we are again. The political pendulum has swung far to the right, and the small numbers of truth-seers and truth-sayers in our midst must be willing to stand up and be faithful to all that they know and believe.
To be faithful means to
be yourself no matter what. May I be faithful.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2001
Today we travelled to the source. We took Ona my scooter up to the Amigo Plant/Mobility Center to see if Dave, the Service Guru, could fix her up. It was a two hour drive each way and Ed did it all...for which I am grateful.
Dave replaced an internal charger cord and the circuit board in the steering column, better situated my charger outlet plug and disabled the battery indicator warning beep-beep that I despised. He then took her out for a test ride. Even though he seemed to feel it was working fine, I needed to test it for myself. We sure didn't want to have to turn around and come back up anytime soon.
So I took her out for a test ride. Now, you have to understand, we were pretty far from any city. In fact, next door to the plant was a cornfield that I kept driving by as I took Ona around and around the Amigo grounds for about 45 minutes. On one of my turns, a woman invited me to drive in and tour Plant 3, where the Amigo scooters are assembled. It felt like going into the womb of the Great Mother.
Paula kindly showed me around and introduced me to a group of friendly folks. There was Mike assembling a scooter, Dewey working with electronic components, and Charley and Kate taking care of their tasks. I later learned that Kate assembles the Touchtron control panel that houses the circuit board Dave had just replaced on Ona. Everyplace I looked there were parts of scooters--like these arms--and scooters ready-to-go, like these bound for Costco stores.
I came away feeling good about Ona's performance, and pleased with the people and place responsible for her existence. I'd confidently recommend an Amigo scooter to anyone.
We got home around 2 PM, I had some lunch and then worked at the computer until my book group members started arriving at 7 PM for our monthly gathering. Mary Margaret, Pat, Alicia, Lisa, Joan and Lenore and I discussed Martin Prechtel's Secrets of the Talking Jaquar. Ah, the places that discussion went! Shamanism--which was the subject of the book--dreams, magic, women, today's world situation, globalization and indigenous cultures, politics, the global groundswell of rising consciousness, navels (innies and outies), global warming and polar bears, and more. It helps that we have both Canadian and US perspectives and an age range of 20 years. I am always stretched, delighted, disturbed, comforted and surprised by these women and their intelligent, probing and humorous comments and questions. One of my favorite images of the evening was their shoes sitting beside our front door. An image of friendship shared.
Tomorrow I intend to drive
for the first time since I broke my foot six weeks ago. And where
am I going? To school of course!
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2001
Yippee!!! I'm driving again! And today was a good test as I was in the teeth of expressway rush hour stop-and-go traffic coming home. Even using windchime walker to walk from my car into school and back presented no problem. It's only been six weeks and two days since I broke three metatarsal bones in my foot and was put in a purple cast from toes to knee. Thanks to a lot of friends holding me in good healing energy, I am again on my feet.
Do you remember my asking folks to image me walking, scooting, swimming and dancing after I'd first broken my foot? Well, yesterday I received a most creative expression of someone doing just that. Elaine Carr is a friend, exceptional artist and an inspiring art teacher at a Windsor, Ontario high school. Apparently she sent one of her gifted students to check out my web site. When the young woman did so, she read my request for such active imaging. Her response was to draw me scooting like the wind, hair tail flying behind me. Last night at our women's book group, Elaine's roommate, Mary Margaret, brought me Maggie Szczepanska's pencil drawing. Isn't it fabulous?!? I've already put it up on my "La Lucha the Scooter" web page. My deepest gratitude to Maggie for helping me to fly again!
As I'd written last night, this was my day at school. Each time I go, I love it more. The kids are so warm, loving and enthusiastic, and Susan is just the kind of art teacher you'd want every child to have. She teaches, but it's so much more than that. She inspires kids to take a chance, to be creatively themselves. Trees can be purple and grass, red. You don't have to stay "inside the lines." All you're expected to do is your best.
I was especially touched with how she handled a very difficult situation. The mother of one of our fourth grade girls died violently yesterday. Instead of hushing it up as so many teachers might have done, Susan started each class--except for the first grade--by saying, "I expect most of you have heard that L.'s mother died yesterday. They don't yet know exactly what happened, but if you'd like to make a card for L. today, I'm sure it would mean a lot to her." She then asked if they had any questions, thus allowing them to talk about what must be upsetting to them. A most sensitive, healthy approach. The children seemed to appreciate it.
In all the classes, we continued working on our self portraits. When they were finished with their large drawings, Susan asked them to make a mini-portrait of their classroom teacher and one of her and/or Ms. Patricia (me). I ended up with a pile of wonderful drawings, and here are three of them. The first is by Klea, the second by Lara, and the third by Mike. Did you notice that Mike has me riding a skateboard? Makes it pretty easy to see why I'm smiling in this picture Susan took of me making art with the third graders at my table!
Do you remember the Art Linkletter show, "Kids Say the Darnest Things"? I had a few examples of that today, both funny and touching. In this afternoon's third grade class I was busy coloring my large screaming self portrait. In it my teeth are quite prominent. My neighbor at the table kindly handed me a yellow ochre crayon with the words, "Here! This'll be perfect to color your teeth." No offense meant or taken. In the fourth grade class I had asked my tablemates to tell me how they will celebrate Eid--the end of Ramadan--this weekend. When I asked if they had fasted, one of the boys said, "We fast so we'll know what it's like to be poor." And that from a nine-year-old. And finally, do you recall the fourth grade girl who got so discouraged trying to draw her self portrait last week? This week she showed me a wonderful drawing she'd made with her teacher's help. When I complimented her on it, she said, "I remembered what you'd told me--not to get frustrated, that I could do it!"
Before I left at the end
of the day, Susan showed me a "Peaceville" banner that
had been created by her after-school class of gifted students.
It was so large she needed to take two photographs to get it all
one shows the World Trade towers with the windows perfectly
lined up in one and askew in the other. Part
two highlights a brillantly shining sun. Seems to me these
kids have more of an idea of what it means to live in peace than
our respected government's leaders.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2001
How does one work effectively for peace in times like these? I asked this question of my women's book group on Wednesday. Specifically I asked if they thought it would help to spend time each day "envisioning peace." With all the information that comes my way, I find myself constantly riding the edge of discouragement, trying not to fall into the black hole of fatalism.
Every day I receive more emails/articles detailing distressing news about what is happening here in the US and abroad. The latest was President Bush's announcement yesterday that the US has withdrawn from the Antiballistic Missile Treaty. This will free the Pentagon to test and deploy a missile defense system without restrictions. After 30 years of keeping some kind of lid on the production and testing of nuclear arms, a man who has not even been in office for one year has thrown it away with the justification that "the ABM treaty hinders our government's ability to develop ways to protect our people from future terrorist or rogue-state missile attacks." Not that missiles or a missile shield would have prevented September 11 or any such terrorist acts.
At the same time that he dismantled this longstanding protection against the global expansion of the arms race, President Bush "invoked executive privilege to block a congressional subpoena exploring abuses in the Boston FBI office, prompting the chairman of a House committee to lambaste his fellow Republicans and triggering what one congressman said is the start of a constitutional confrontation.
"Committee members said the order's sweeping language created a shift in presidential policy and practices dating back to the Harding administration. They complained also that it followed a pattern in which the Bush administration has limited access to presidential historical records, refused to give Congress documents about the vice president's energy task force, and unilaterally announced plans for military commissions that would try suspected terrorists in secret."
It never seems to end.
So how to be a person of peace committed to truth, justice and the freedoms this country was founded upon? How to maintain the will to keep up the struggle?
My friend Lisa helped me with this question in an email today. In it, she wrote,
There was something that I wish that I had said the other evening in the group when you were asking if working to envision peace was the way to go. What I want to say to you is that the work you are doing is soooooo important. When you pass on all the information that many folks don't have access to, that is such a powerful way to work for peace and justice. It avoids all the B.S. ideological stuff of the Left because you aren't trying to tell people what to think and what conclusions to draw......by providing them the information you allow them to reach their own conclusions and that is so much more effective than giving someone a political line. Also your passion for justice comes across in the emails you write and that is also soooo powerful. So I just wanted to encourage you to keep doing your work there and I think that it is one of the most effective approaches that any of us could be taking right now. So if you do decide to do some visualizing, please don't stop doing the other (not that I think that you would stop but I just wanted to offer my perspective on your efforts as I think they are wonderful and powerful).
Lisa refers to the group
one sent a few minutes ago--that I send out regularly to folks
in my address book. Since September 11, I've unfortunately had
many opportunities to pass along little-known information about
current global and domestic issues. Often the information includes
ways to take action and/or let elected representatives hear our
views. It's so hard to find truth in the mainstream press and
media these days that I feel compelled to share what I read/hear
from alternative news sources. Thank goddess for the internet!
And thank goddess for friends like Lisa who hold up a mirror so
I can see the value in what I'm already doing.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2001
What fun! I have never seen my friend Pat K. this excited in the decade that I've known her. And it happened so unexpectedly.
She came over for dinner and in conversation mentioned that she needed business cards to hand in for an assignment at massage therapy school. I told her I'd be happy to help her as I have the software and have been making my own cards for a couple of years. So after dinner we sat down together in front of my laptop.
We started by exploring the internet to find an appropriate symbol to use. She'd mentioned either hands or the Chinese symbol for peace, so I went to my favorite search engine--www.dogpile.com--and typed in "chinese symbols". Through that we found a wonderful site called www.tribals.com that had an amazing collection of symbols. The one she chose was an ancient symbol of two hands curling into spirals. Excellent for massage.
We then played with different layout designs, colors, fonts and type sizes. It really came together nicely. When Pat saw the first page of business cards emerge from the printer she broke into a smile that could have encompassed the planet, and started dancing around in delight. By the time I took this picture, she had settled down a bit but was still glowing.
She deserves it. Pat has devoted so much energy and attention to her massage classes and clinicals since enrolling in the program last February. And she's done it while running Day House (the women's respite center in Detroit), regularly offering hospitality to community organizations, helping a friend care for her elderly aunt, giving massages on her own, decorating and selling or giving away her Blessing Candles, raising a teenaged daughter as a single mom and being an exceptionally faithful friend. I personally think she's the best massage therapist I've ever known. In February 2002 she'll graduate from massage therapy school and be ready to take the licensing exam for Michigan.
It was a joy to celebrate
her in this way.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2001
I intended to write about tonight's wonderful Solstice gathering at Pat N.'s apartment in Windsor, Ontario. I'd already prepared the photos when I went online to check my emails. Well, the journal entry quickly lost priority. I learned that Rabih Haddad, a respected and active member of Ann Arbor's Muslim community for two and a half years was arrested by three INS agents on December 14. He is being "detained indefinitely" at an undiscosed location with no bail. He has been charged with no wrongdoing.
According to the email I received, Mr. Haddad "has spoken out for the humanitarian needs of people in Afghanistan many times throughout the state of Michigan since September 11. He represented the Muslim community at a Town Hall meeting sponsored by Rep. Lynn Rivers and has participated in panels at University of Michigan. Mr. Haddad is also on the board of trustees of the Global Relief Foundation, the assets of which were frozen by the Bush Administration yesterday. There were no arrests of Global Relief officials at the foundations Chicago headquarters.
"The only information that the INS has given about Mr. Haddad is that he is being detained indefinitely. He has a wife and four children here in Ann Arbor and is a deeply loved member of the Muslim community. What has happened to Mr. Haddad would have been unimaginable in our community just four months ago."
So I wrote our two senators and three of our representatives from Michigan asking them to investigate and advocate for Mr. Haddad. I then sent a letter to my Michigan friends encouraging them to do the same. I began my letter to my friends in this way:
They came for the Jews and I didn't speak out. They came for the Blacks and I didn't speak out. They came for the homosexuals and I didn't speak out. They came for the Arabs and I didn't speak out. And now they've come for me and there is no one left to speak.
Let us not let it come to that. We must speak out and we must do it now...
It is after 1 AM and I
must go to bed. I'll write tomorrow about the Solstice gathering.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2001
I don't know how many years Pat N. has put on her Solstice gathering, but I gather it's been going a long long time. This was my third or fourth year. But this was a first for all of us--Pat included. The first Solstice in her new apartment.
Until she moved to this apartment a couple of blocks up the street, Pat had lived for twelve years in a roomy old house in downtown Windsor, Ontario. It had a living room with a large fireplace and a wooden mantlepiece on which we traditionally placed our Solstice candles. After our ritual sharing we would have a sit-down potluck dinner in her dining room. I think there were usually at least twelve of us, often more.
Well, that roomy home became a millstone around Pat's neck. In September she happily divested herself of it and years of accumulated "treasures" and moved into this apartment building where she'd always wanted to live. Interestingly enough, her mother had lived there years before.
So instead of a mantlepiece, this year our candles lit the center of the room on a glass-topped table. The dinner became simply--simply??--appetizers and desserts, but our ritual followed the same pattern as before.
We gathered in a circle in the living room. Pat called in earth, air, fire and water through the Four Directions. We sang a Carolyn McDade Solstice song accompanied by the CD. Pat then invited us to share the reading, song or poem we'd brought, and to follow that by lighting our candle (that we'd also brought). As always, the sharings were richly woven, a tapestry of light and dark. This year, the thread of September 11 ran through much of the fabric. Karen read from her journal; Joan read a Pablo Neruda poem; Ann read an article from Oprah's magazine; I sang two short songs by Mary Buckley. Each woman seemed to intuit when it was her time to speak; there was a flow to it all.
When each person who wanted to share had done so--you didn't have to--and everyone had lit their candles, I asked that the lights be dimmed. Now it felt like Solstice. The glimmer of light in a sea of dark.
We closed with another of Carolyn's songs and gathered around the table. There we were greeted by Sheila's stuffed mushrooms, Eleanor's roasted garlic spread, Pat's cream cheese and salmon roll-ups, Lisa's guacamole, my red pepper hoummus, Ann's garlic-parmesian cheese toasted pita strips, Italian olive spread, cheeses, breads, chips and cashew nuts. Desserts included a lemon frosted angelfood cake, Joan's homemade apple pie and Pam's combination baklava and pecan pie. YUMMMMY!!!
Conversation took over after we'd enjoyed the food. Pat held an imaginary microphone to Joan's mouth as she (Joan) told the story of being interviewed by the media regarding her feelings about the Downtown Mission and Soup Kitchen moving two doors closer to her flat (they were surprised to find that she's delighted!). As happens in gatherings of interesting women, there was serious conversation and silliness all mixed together.
And then it was time for the next part of the evening--singing! We started with song sheets that had a selection of Solstice songs derived from Christmas carols. That led into an "old songs" sing-a-long. I'd inadvertently started this tradition last year by singing "The Way You Look Tonight" as part of my ritual sharing. That got us going...going back to World War II songs that some of the women remembered from their youth, 1930s and '40s songs by Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern and Rogers and Hart, 1950s songs that many of us had memorized in our teen years, and show tunes of all eras. We found that a few of us--especially Joan, Lenore and Alicia--seemed to know the words to practically every song we could think of. It was lots of fun both last year and again this year.
This gathering highlights
one of the great joys of my life here in Detroit/Windsor...and
that is the women. I always miss them when I head off to San Francisco
for the winter months, but we all know I'll return with the robins
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2001
I awoke to white-gray skies, but when I looked more closely there was a hopeful pattern of brindled blue among the clouds. So I left the house about 10:30 AM with my rain poncho on my lap, but I didn't really think I'd need it. And I was right. In a half hour the sun had pushed its way through the clouds and blue skies prevailed. Lovely!
This was my first opportunity to check out the effectiveness of last week's service on Ona my scooter. After a day of serious riding--perhaps six miles--I am delighted to report that the battery indicator stayed on "full charge" the whole way! Thank you, Dave.
Much of the day's activities involved getting things ready to go to San Francisco. Since my scooter is essentially my car out there, I have two requirements beyond the scooter operating properly: to stay warm and dry. Although San Francisco doesn't do snow and ice--good thing with those hills!--the winter rainy season with cold winds off the ocean can pack a pretty decent chill. My red teflon-coated silk poncho takes care of dry, but warmth still needed some attention.
Even today my lap was cold. I've wanted some sort of lap blanket for a good while, but couldn't think of anything that would be small enough so it couldn't catch in the wheels. On the way to our shopping area, I thought of the possibility of using a baby's crib blanket. So when I got to the stores, I scooted in one that I knew had a children's department.
Can you believe $108 for a crib blanket? Gawd, I don't think so! As I was leaving the department I saw the perfect thing--a purple (of course) polar fleece girl's vest for $26. Now, that was more like it. And in the children's department I also found the perfect pair of warm stretch gloves. Putting on gloves can be a real challenge for me with my less-than-able fingers, but this pair worked fine. And are they cute! Shiny pink with colorful iridescent beads around the cuffs. I love them.
So now I was warm. The next scooter requirement was a backpack that can double as a carrier for my folded walker. Carrying my walker is important in SF because sometimes I need to ride my scooter to a venue that is inaccessible. And then there are the times I simply want to be able to walk instead of scoot when I arrive at my destination. In any case, I need a way to carry my walker on the scooter.
Peter, who helps run my SF neighborhood organic deli/grocery store, developed a technique for my walker-carrying last year. It entailed removing the backpack, folding windchime walker and placing her upside-down behind my scooter seat, and then reattaching the backpack to hold it solid. La Lucha's backpack had been cut and sewn to fit but as her seat was significantly smaller than Ona's, it would not work for my new scooter. Ona needed her own backpack.
Luckily we have an upscale camping store, so that's where I headed. Five minutes later I was all set, thanks to Adam. Not only does this backpack have the capacity to be a walker-carrier, but it is bright orange and will increase my safety on the streets by making me more visible. Believe me, when crossing a busy SF street visibility is a plus!
Now I was free to take care of the rest of my business, and that was to buy Ed a couple of gifts. I can tell you what they were because I've already given them to him! A box of 24 Godiva dark chocolate truffles and a birdseed wreath for him to hang outside in the courtyard of his office. His response? "On a scale of 1-10, the birdseed wreath is definitely a 10...and the truffles are 100!" This man defines the term chocolate-lover.
Our weather continues to be unseasonably mild. My poor forsythia out back is very confused and thinks it's spring so it's already starting to bloom. On my scoot I also saw these confused bushes with their brand new leaves shining in the sun. The roses haven't stopped blooming since September, and these pansies seemed quite content as well. Even the pansies in these window boxes were lush and colorful. And anyone who does outdoor work has remained busy all autumn, like these tree-trimmers I saw up in a huge elm.
I took the lake route
home and was struck by the beauty of this yellow
berry tree and the sight of bare
trees against the blue sky. What a beautiful day.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2001
The following is a copy of an email I sent to the Committee for the Political Resurrection of Detroit (CPR) listserv at 7 PM today:
I have just returned home after spending the afternoon with Rabih Haddad's family, friends, character witnesses and representatives of the media/press in the US Immigration Court waiting room in Brewery Park, Detroit. The bond hearing itself was closed because of "secret testimony" by the government.
I'd estimate 300 people turned out to support Mr. Haddad, a well respected member of the Muslim community in Ann Arbor. They only allowed as many people into the waiting room as there were chairs available; I was fortunate that I'd brought my own "chair" in the form of my Amigo scooter, so I was allowed to stay. A number of supporters offered their chairs to witnesses who would not have been able to stay otherwise.
My new friend, Fadi Kiblawi, a University of Michigan student leader who had driven in from Ann Arbor (even though he has a hard exam tomorrow), was one of those who gave up his seat to a witness. I'd met Fadi out in the parking lot where he kindly said yes to my request that he help me unload my scooter from my car and assemble it. He even stayed with me when I had to return to the car with my camera after the guard refused to let me take it into the court waiting room.
In our conversations I learned that Fadi, a Palestinian whose family left Kuwait in 1986, is a member of the executive committee of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, U of M. He'd been instrumental in planning the September 28 anti-war demonstration at U of M that drew 5000, as well as the more recent meeting called to inform more than 500 Arab men on student visas in the Ann Arbor/Dearborn area of their rights regarding the FBI letter they'd received requesting that they "voluntarily" report for questioning.
Fadi also told me of the importance of Rabih Haddad's work as co-founder and organizer of the Global Relief Foundation. As he described it, this is one of only two Arab relief organizations that has been actively gathering funds to help the Afghan refugees and victims of war. A major part of Ramadan is to give aid to those in need, so the Global Relief Foundation has been an essential part of that effort. Fadi said it was particularly unfortunate that Mr. Haddad was arrested and the Global Relief Foundation's assets were seized by the government on Friday, the day before Ramadan ended with the celebration of Eid. Many Muslims would have donated great amounts of money on Eid to help the suffering people in Afghanistan. A note of cruelty to me was that Rabih Haddad was not even allowed to bring his Quran into jail on one of the most important Muslim holy days of the year.
Today's bond hearing got under way at 2:30 PM but it was not until all Mr. Haddad's witnesses had testified that the judge postponed the hearing until January 2. The reason given was that the government witnesses were not present. We didn't hear this news until 4:30 PM.
When we left the waiting room, the halls were crowded with media cameras--they weren't allowed in the court area--and downstairs was a large gathering of supporters. Salma al-Rashaid, Rabih Haddad's wife, spoke calmly to the press and media before she and her children left to return to Ann Arbor. I'd had an opportunity to spend some time talking with Salma in the waiting room and found her to be a most courageous woman.
I encourage everyone to come out to the Immigration Court on January 2 to support Rabih Haddad's rightful effort to get out of jail on bond. I'll be sure to send an email to the group as soon as I hear the time of the hearing.
in peace and solidarity
I've just finished listening to/singing with Holly Near's song "1000 Grandmothers". That's what it was like today--I was a grandmother offering the presence of truth and love to a people who needed a grandmother. How did I know so strongly that I was meant to be there today? Why did Rabih Haddad's arrest and detainment disturb me so much when I read of it on Sunday night? I can't answer these questions. But when I was one of the few who was allowed to stay in that court waiting room, I knew there must be some reason. All I could do was be present, and so I was.
I sat most of the time with my eyes closed, offering peaceful loving thoughts to all involved in this hearing. Rabih Haddad himself, his lawyer, Salma and the children, the judge, the INS agents and lawyers, the witnesses, Mr. Haddad's supporters, and every representative of the media and press. The phrase "May truth prevail" kept going through my head like a mantra. And so I sat until one time I opened my eyes and saw Salma, whom I'd never met or seen before today, shyly smiling at me. I returned the smile and continued to sit in silence.
And then at a particular moment I knew it was time for us to meet. So I scooted over to where she was sitting with her friend and the children. Her face lit up with relief, as if indeed she were seeing the face of her grandmother. I don't know exactly what I said but I know it was what she needed to hear. And I know she needed to have her hand held in mine. What a mystery!
And so I ask all who read this to hold Rabih, Salma and their children in especially good energy. They need and deserve it. When I asked Salma what we can do to help, she shook her head and said, "I don't know." I then said, "Prayer?", and she cried, "Yes, oh yes! That is what I am asking of everyone. Prayer is what we need--pray that the truth will come out."
What a gentle-spirited courageous woman. And she has a good sister/friend at her side in Huda. As I told her, "You are not alone. There are people all over the world who are with you and your husband in this. Stay strong. The truth always wins. It may take awhile and we may have to stay strong for a long time, but the truth will come out."
May it be sooner rather
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2001
Today was my last day at school until the new year. I'm really going to miss the kids and Susan their teacher. If nothing else good comes out of the events of September 11, at least it connected me up with this school. I am grateful for that.
Can I be honest? Well, I guess I'd better be--this is my journal, after all. Although it's only 10 PM, I feel more inclined to go to bed than to sit here and write today's entry. It's been a pretty intense couple of days. I forgot to tell you that after spending much of the day in court yesterday, I went off swimming last night. Actually it was just what I needed. Nothing helps me work off steam better than doing laps. I ended up doing 30 laps of the freestyle without stopping (that's 14-15 olympic-sized laps). I was so disturbed by what I'd seen, heard and felt while sitting in that immigration court waiting room--feelings I certainly couldn't express there--that nothing served me better than to thrust my arms through the water and kick my feet as hard as I could. Even so, Salma's face stayed with me all night long.
So I'll tell you tomorrow
about my day at school. Good night for now.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2002
The winter Solstice. The longest night and shortest day. The first day of winter. A sacred time when the veil lifts just enough to glimpse the depth of mystery behind it. To me that time occurs at twilight.
I left the house at 4:30 PM. Brrr!!! Winter came right on schedule. This was definitely a ski mitten day, not a fancy-dancy glove day. But there was one advantage to wearing my new gloves: I could take photographs without removing them. Not only did I catch a glimpse of nature's twilight, but also saw how humans do their best to hold back the night. Three blocks from us, on the lake, is a house that always puts on the most extravagant light display in our community. The animated snowman waves, reindeer stand guard and hundreds of thousands of lights sparkle in every conceivable--and inconceivable--place.
I spent much of the day
happily working at my computer. I finally caught up with piles
of email, and had a delightful time creating an online Solstice
card to send to friends. You readers are my friends and
I'd like to share the card with you. Just be forewarned--it is
graphic-full and takes awhile to download. Why don't you take
a minute or two and whistle or sing a little song; it'll go much
faster that way. Happy
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2001
Do you ever notice a theme running through your life? The theme I see for myself since September 11 is on a bumper sticker recently made for me by Carol in Massachusetts. Although she and I talked briefly at the Michigan Womyn's Festival in August, our friendship has developed mainly through my journal and her emails. When she recently wrote and asked if I'd like one of the bumper stickers she was handpainting for a few friends, I gratefully accepted. But instead of using it on my car, I asked if it could be adapted for use on my scooter. Today I applied it to Ona my scooter. And what does it say? "Love is stronger than fear." And with it she sent two small American flag stickers to use if I chose.
Have I mentioned my response to the American flag these days? It is a combination of narrowed eyes, clinched teeth and unpleasant thoughts. I've sat with Carol's bumper sticker for over a week trying to decide if I could add the flag. As she said, without the flag people might not realize that she's referring to the events of September 11 and what has happened since. I finally decided to go for it, flag and all. And I'm glad I did.
Using the flag as a symbol of peace, of what this country can be instead of what it is right now, changed my feelings toward it completely. It was as if I reclaimed the American flag as "patriotic", using my own definition of the word. Patriotic, for me, being attitudes and actions that call my country to be the most respectful, responsible and just that it can be.
We should never allow others to co-opt our symbols.
"Love is stronger than fear" also characterized an email I received today from Salma al-Rashaid, whom I had met at her husband Rabih Haddad's bond hearing on Wednesday. Then this evening I received a phone call from Salma's friend, Huda. As I'd felt on Wednesday, we three had forged a strong connection. I'll be driving to Ann Arbor to visit Huda on Monday.
I will close with a photograph
I took today of a gaggle of Canadian geese resting beside sun-lit
wind-whipped waters of the lake. Whatever we humans do or don't
do, beauty remains.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2001
As so often happens when I see one level of reality--as in yesterday's theme, "Love is stronger than fear"--a deeper reality presents itself. What has been coming at me from one direction and another of late is a consciousness of death. Certainly not a subject folks like to talk about during this festive time of year. But I'm beginning to wonder why not?
The more thoroughly I immerse myself in life with all its paradox and intensity, the more powerfully I am drawn to its twin, death. It happened at school on Thursday. There I was surrounded by the unmatched life and energy of children, when the subject of death--a hard death--entered the classroom.
As I'd mentioned last week, one of our fourth grade girls lost her mother to a violent death on Wednesday, December 12. Susan discussed it with the children in her art classes the following day and promised to tell them what had happened as soon as she knew. At that time, the death was under police investigation.
So this Thursday, every class except the first graders started with Susan saying, "I know all of you have heard about L.'s mother. I now know what happened and will answer any of your questions. Please raise your hands and realize this is a serious thing we're taking about. I expect you all to be respectful."
"How did she die?"
"She took her own life by hanging herself in the basement. You know, sometimes a person might think things will never get any better and that the only way out is to take their life. It's sad but that sometimes happens."
"Who found her?"
"I don't know. But L. was here at school so I know she wasn't the one."
"Why did she do it?"
"No one knows. And if you hear anyone saying it was because of this or that, tell them to come talk with me. We must be very careful not to gossip or repeat things that are not true. It will hurt L. if we do and we want to make things easier for her, not harder. You know, we can't always tell what other people are thinking or feeling. Like I might look at you here in class and maybe your face is blank, but all kinds of things might be going on inside of you. Maybe you're sad or happy or scared, but I wouldn't necessarily know that. The same with me. You can't know what's going on inside of me either. I expect it was like that with L.'s mother."
"When is L. coming
back to school?"
"She and her sisters are staying at their father's mother's house. Apparently she lives near school so we're hoping L. and her little sister who's in kindergarden will come back after the holidays."
And so the questions and answers continued. What a wonderful model of how to handle tough things in life. Susan was honest and forthright, but only gave the information that the children asked to hear. When there were no more questions, Susan encouraged them to make a card for L., telling her they were sorry about her mother's death and letting her know that we missed her here in school and looked forward to her coming back. She suggested they write their telephone numbers on the card if they felt like it, and ask L. to call them during the holidays. The cards I read were so sensitive and kind they brought tears to my eyes.
So that was one, very poignant, encounter with death this week.
Another occurred last night as I watched a video called "Wit" that starred Emma Thompson, was directed by Mike Nichols and co-written by the two of them. It told the story in unsentimental--often realistic--terms of a 17th Century English professor's diagnosis, treatment and death as a result of stage 4 ovarian cancer. Watching this movie helped solidify my resolve never to resort to experimental, pernicious cancer treatments of a stage 4 cancer. If such a treatment offers me a few extra months of life, I'll say thanks but no thanks. If I were young and had children, I'd probably want to take a chance on anything that might give me extra time, but at my stage of life it seems silly to grasp at time as if it were the ultimate prize. I'd want to protect my last days from intrusive medical treatments, and live them with all the conscious intent of which I was capable.
As I contemplated these recent encounters with death, I realized the theme I articulated yesterday--"Love is stronger than fear"--has death at its heart. I mean what was it about September 11 that has caused so much fear in people and governments? Death. The inevitability and often unpredictability of death. Is this so-called War on Terrorism really a War on Death? If so, it is doomed to failure.
I think what September 11 taught us, if we were open to the teaching, was that death comes--often unawares--to people who do not deserve to die, people who are simply going about their life as if it would go on forever. Now that's a strange statement--"people who do not deserve to die." We all deserve to die for it is a natural part of life. You cannot have life without its twin, death. Why do we reject that notion? Why do we do everything we can to put off the inevitable? What's so wrong with death?
Ah well, I guess I am bringing up deep philosophical issues here. But that is what gave September 11 its power--the fact that it touched on the core questions of existence. If we ignore that and just try to retaliate, punish, protect and guard against further terrorist attacks, we're missing the whole point. And what point is that?
Life is not an infinite
resource: it has a beginning, a middle and an end. And its end--death--is
not to be feared as some stranger coming in the night. Death is
as pure a force as life. Life and death are partners and we must
befriend both. We must live as if we were to meet death with the
next breath, and die as if we were to meet life in our final breath.
If we do this, fear has no hold over us and love can have its
MONDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2001
What a privilege to be invited into someone's home and treated like an honored guest! That's how it was for me today at my new friend Huda's house.
Huda and I met last Wednesday in the Immigration Court waiting room. She was with her friend Salma, whose husband's bond hearing we were attending, and I was there to be a presence of support for Rabih Haddad, his family and the Ann Arbor Muslim community. If you recall, Mr. Haddad had been arrested and detained without bond. No charges had been brought against him. Another in a long line of racially-motivated United States jailings of Arab Muslim men since September 11. As I understand it, over 1200 men are currently in custody, most of them with no formal charges having been brought.
Huda, Salma and I had forged a significant bond in that chilling atmosphere last Wednesday. We've been in email contact since, and on Saturday Huda called to invite me to her home. I arrived at 1 PM today.
As I walked slowly from my parking place with the help of windchime walker, I was greeted by the sight of an open door and Huda's smiling face. Behind her was the inviting glow of a fire in the fireplace. Once inside her home, Huda's husband and niece greeted me warmly. In a few minutes their two boys, ages 8 and 9, joined us in the living room. The boys never left what soon became a very adult discussion of world events, and in fact added remarkably mature comments from time to time.
I felt right at home.
I must tell you about the magic of their living room. It was still decorated for the celebration of Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan, a month-long time of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. At the center of the living room ceiling hung silver ornaments, and radiating from them to the corners of the room were shiny purple, pink and blue streamers. The ceiling itself was laced with philodendron vines that spread across it like an arbor. A glorious effect on this cold snowy Michigan day!
Our conversation literally covered the globe. Huda and her husband have lived in a number of countries, are highly educated and well informed. It was fascinating to learn about their work educating Muslims and non-Muslims about Islam. Ann Arbor has a large close-knit Muslim community of which they are a part; Rabih Haddad and his wife Salma are their closest friends. I also learned that Huda's boys and niece attend an Islamic private school in Ann Arbor, where both Rabih and Salma are volunteer teachers. Huda's niece said that Mr. Haddad is her favorite teacher. And this is the man who was refused bail because he is a "danger to the community!"
But most poignant was to hear what life has been like for Arab Muslims such as Huda since September 11. She spoke of watching the first plane crash into the World Trade Tower, falling to her knees and praying, "Please don't let it be Arabs who have done this!" She knew what it would mean if it were, and her fears have been realized. Huda no longer feels comfortable even going to the grocery store. As she is scarved when she leaves the house, people identify her as Muslim. She says they look at her differently now, and it makes her feel very uneasy. She stopped going to the community college after September 11 and took her boys out of public school. Everything has changed for her and her family.
Do Americans consider what it means to hundreds of thousands of people in the United States--people like Huda and her family--when they so quickly categorize Arab Muslims as terrorists or terrorist-sympathizers? Do they realize that one of these so-called "terrorists" cried for four days after September 11, so upset was she by what had happened? Do they realize that the law of Islam is the law of love?
As I said to my friends today, it is hard to be a citizen of this country during times like these. How I wish I could be proud of America and its people. But I do know there are a lot of people out there, people we do not hear about in the mainstream media or press, people who do not go along with this war of hatred against an innocent people. I meet them on the internet, out on the streets protesting against war and racial profiling, and in the communities and groups of which I am a part. Not just in this country either, but in cities and countries the world over. And we will not be silent. We will not allow these prejudicial--often violent--attitudes, actions and laws to go unchecked.
When I am next out on the streets with my sign attached to Ona my scooter, I will be there for Huda, her husband, her boys and her niece. Their faces will be before me as I stand strong against the wrongs that are being committed in the name of patriotism. I will be out there insisting that my friends be treated with the same gracious hospitality with which they treated me today.
As I said to Huda, we
belong to one family.
©2001 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.