To read previous journal entries, please go to: Journal
1 archive 2/25-3/24/00, Journal
2 archive 3/25-4/24/00, Journal
3 archive 4/25-5/24/00, Journal
4 archive 5/25-6/24/00, Journal
5 archive 6/25-7/24/00, Journal
6 archive 7/25-8/24/00, Journal7
archive 8/25-9/24/00, Journal
8 archive 9/25-10/24/00, Journal
9 archive 10/25-11/24/00, Journal
10 archive 11/25-12/24/00, Journal
11 archive 12/25/00-1/24/01, Journal
12 archive 1/25-2/24/01, Journal
13 archive 2/25-3/24/01, Journal
14 archive 3/25-4/24/01, Journal
15 archive 4/25-5/24/01, Journal
16 archive 5/25-6/24/01, Journal
17 archive 6/25-7/24/01, Journal
18 archive 7/25-8/24/01, Journal
19 archive 8/25-9/24/01, Journal
20 archive 9/25-10/24/01, Journal
21 archive 10/25-11/24/01, Journal
22 archive 11/25-12/24/01, Journal
23 archive 12/25/01-1/24/02, Journal
24 archive 1/25-2/24/02, Journal
25 archive 2/25-3/24/02, Journal
26 archive 3/25-4/24/02, Journal
27 archive 4/25-5/24/02, Journal
28 archive 5/25-6/24/02, Journal
29 archive 6/25-7/24/02, Journal
30 archive 7/25-8/24/02, Journal
31 archive 8/25-9/24/02,Journal
32 archive 9/25-10/24/02, Journal
33 archive 10/25-11/24/02, Journal
34 archive 11/25-12/24/02, Journal
35 archive 12/25/02-1/24/03, Journal
36 archive 1/25-2/24/03, Journal
37 archive 2/25-3/25/03, Journal
38 archive 3/26-4/24/03, Journal
39 archive 4/25-5/24/03, Journal
40 archive 5/25-6-24/03, Journal
41 archive 6/25-7/24/03, Journal
42 archive 7/25-8/24/03, Journal
43 archive 8/25-9/24/03, Journal
44 archive 9/25-10/24/03, Journal
45 archive 10/25-11/24/03, Journal
46 archive 11/25-12/24/03, Journal
47 archive 12/25/03-1/24/04, Journal
48 archive 1/25-2/24/04, Journal
49 archive 2/25-3/24/04, Journal
50 archive 3/25-4/24/04, Journal
51 archive 4/25-5/24/04, Journal
52 archive 5/25-6/24/04, Journal
53 archive 6/25-7/24/04, Journal
54 archive 7/25-8/24/04, Journal
55 archive 8/25-9/24/04, Journal
56 archive 9/25-10/24/04, Journal
57 archive 10/25-11/24/04, Journal
58 archive 11/25-12/24/04, Journal
59 archive 12/25/04-1/24/05, Journal
60 archive 1/25-2/24/05, Journal 61 archive 2/25-3/24/05, Journal 62 archive 3/25-4/24/05, Journal 63 archive 4/25-5/24/05, Journal 64 archive 5/25-6/24/05, Journal 65 archive 6/25-7/24/05, Journal 66 archive 7/25-8/24/05, Journal 67 archive 8/25-9/24/05, Journal 68 archive 9/25-10/24/05, Journal 69 archive 10/25-11/24/05, Journal 70 archive 11/25-12/24/05, Journal 71 archive 12/25/05-1/24/06, Journal 72 archive 1/25-2/24/06
To read my current journal, please go to: windchime walker's journal
*Now that I have a
digital camera, journal entries may be linked to related photos.
Download time should be no more than 5 seconds. The easiest way
to navigate going back and forth between photo links and journal
text is to click on your "back" button at the left of
your tool bar.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2002
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! Happiness is staying home on Christmas. We were supposed to go to Ed's brother's for a holiday visit this afternoon and then to a neighbor's house for dinner tonight. It felt like too much. Happily, the snow has taken care of everything. We'll still go to our neighbor's for dinner tonight, and will meet John and Lorraine for dinner at a restaurant on Friday. This feels MUCH better.
I'm not real fond of Christmas. There's something about its big-dealness that turns me off. Exchanging gifts doesn't appeal to me, neither does eating too much or running around saying, "Ho, ho, ho!" Do I sound like the Grinch? I guess I do, but we each have our preferences. I prefer to be with folks in settings that are simple, heartfelt and relaxed.
While lying in bed this morning, I reflected on how outside the mainstream culture I have gone, step by individualistic step. No TV, no shopping, no newspapers, no magazines, no celebration of holidays, no knowledge of or interest in fashion or hairstyles or makeup, no cocktail parties, no wine or alcohol, no meat, no coffee (not even decaf lattes), no interest in winning anything especially not money, no church or synagogue or mosque, no political party. I've never listened to a radio talk show or put on a garage sale or bought a lottery ticket or tried to erase any of my multitude of wrinkles. I don't color my hair, paint my fingernails, own a lipstick, shave my legs and underarms, or have more than three pairs of shoes. My clothes fit in three small drawers and one tiny closet.
Does it sound like I'm bragging? Maybe I am but I don't mean to. It's just that I feel more like a visitor to this country than a member of the clan. Maybe that's why I'm comfortable being a voice of dissent when it comes to war and injustice and the loss of civil liberties. I have nothing to lose because I'm already outside the circle. And happily I have friends, companions and loved ones who are out here with me. For that I am grateful.
Among my valued companions
is the poet, Denise
Levertov, with whom I have spent hours on this lovely stay-at-home
day. Her poems and statements
against the Vietnam War rage with a passion I hear in myself
these days. How I wish we had taken her words to heart when she
first spoke them! Like this poem that was published in 1992...
In California During
the Gulf War
Among the blight-killed
trees and bushes rusted by Christmas frosts,
the yards and hillsides exhausted by five years of drought,
certain airy white blossoms
reappeared, and dense clusters of pale pink, dark pink--
a delicate abundance. They seemed
like guests arriving joyfully
on the accustomed
festival day, unaware of the year's events, not perceiving
the sackcloth others were wearing.
To some of us, the dejected
landscape consorted well
with our shame and bitterness. Skies ever-blue,
daily sunshine, disgusted us like smile-buttons.
Yet the blossoms, clinging
to thin branches
more lightly than birds alert for flight,
lifted the sunken heart
even against its will.
as symbols of hope: they were flimsy
as our resistance to the crimes committed
--again, again--in our
name; and yes, they return,
year after year, and yes, they briefly shone with serene joy
over against the dark glare
of evil days. They are,
and their presence
is quietness ineffable--and the bombings are, were,
no doubt will be; that quiet, that huge cacophany
simultaneous. No promise
was being accorded, the blossoms
were not doves, there was no rainbow. And when it was claimed
the war had ended, it had not ended.
By Denise Levertov, from Evening Train. Copyright © 1992 by Denise Levertov. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.
Just one more. I do not know when she wrote it or where it was published; all I know is that I love it.
Song for Ishtar
The moon is a sow
and grunts in my throat
Her great shining shines through me
so the mud of my hollow gleams
and breaks in silver bubbles
She is a sow
and I a pig and a poet
When she opens her white
lips to devour me I bite back
and laughter rocks the moon
In the black of desire
we rock and grunt, grunt and
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2002
I did something today that I haven't done for a long time,,,I went back and reread old journals. I started with Journal 6 from the summer of 2000, and then jumped to Journal 14 from the spring of 2001. Because I've stayed faithful to writing daily entries, it gives me an unusual opportunity to see my life unfold like a story. As I read it I certainly remember things, but in some strange way it feels like I'm reading someone else's story, almost as if I don't know what comes next. As I went along, I found myself surprised by the sequence of events; I'd forgotten how things fit together. I was also surprised at how it held my interest. It's a hard feeling to describe.
I've now kept a daily online journal for 34 consecutive months. Almost three years. I've experienced life with a passion that surprises me. I don't know where that passion comes from; I just know it is very much a part of who I am. I've seen my awareness of the world--both its grandeur and its horror--grow to such an extent that almost everything I think, feel and do is tied to this awareness. Some would call it being radicalized; I call it being humanized.
Keeping this journal has helped me live a more conscious life, a life that I attend to day-by-day. Rather like the mindfulness promoted by Thich Nhat Hanh, the respected Buddhist monk and peacemaker from Vietnam. I guess I would call my journalling a spiritual discipline, although I've never thought of it that way before.
I certainly didn't know
what I was starting when I wrote my first entry on February 25,
2000, but I'm grateful I did it. I don't think I would be who
I am today if I hadn't.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2002
It is such a treat to see Ed and his brother John together. It doesn't happen very often but whenever it does I see so much brotherliness in the way they relate to one another. Besides, they look more and more alike with each passing year.
If I were to have a favorite part of this season it would be hearing from and/or seeing old friends and family. I just opened a card from my old art school friend, Mary A. I was afraid I'd lost her because the last I'd heard she and Andy were selling their house and moving to San Diego. Well, the lousy real estate market has kept them here, at least for now.
Mary and I met at Detroit's Center for Creative Studies in 1977. We were students in the fine arts department, both in our mid-30s and married. We hit it off immediately. In December of that year we went to New York City together for an overnight visit to see the mammoth Cezanne exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. That quickly became an annual tradition. I think we made eight trips to New York City in as many years, spending anywhere from one to six nights. We'd go to funky art galleries in Soho, alternative modern dance performances in Tribeca, and to hear jazz at the Village Vanguard in the East Village. Our trips usually coincided with the Christmas holidays so I remember seeing the dazzling decorated tree in Rockefeller Center, ice skaters under the lights at night, and extraordinary store window displays in Henri Bendels and other chi-chi stores.
We got in the habit of going to the Plaza Hotel for breakfast once during each visit. I remember my bill for a Danish, a small glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice and a cup of coffee was $12 in 1978, a lot of money in those days. But usually we kept our costs pretty low. I say that having totally forgotten about how Mary's wealthy brother-in-law insisted on hiring us a limo our first two trips--we only stayed overnight--and paid for it himself. But we much preferred when we explored the city on our own, walking and taking cabs.
Mary and I soon heard about a low cost way to stay in New York City; it was through an agency called Urban Ventures. They would contract with apartment dwellers in the city who wanted a little extra cash. These folks would either rent out their whole apartment and go stay with friends, or just rent a room with a bath and remain at home, sharing the space with the visitors. Our favorite place was a wonderful old apartment on Fifth Avenue at 94th. It was across the street from Central Park and not far from the Metropolitan Museum. An ideal location. The woman who rented us a room was a true New Yorker--intelligent, forthright and interesting to talk to. The second year we stayed in her apartment, she invited us to one of her parties. Mary and I came close to feeling like true New Yorkers ourselves that night.
Our last trip was in 1984. Although we had both finished art school by then, Mary and I decided to join a CCS student trip to save money. There were about a dozen of us, most of them college age except Mary and me. The head of the painting department at CCS, Aris Koutroulis, was having an exhibit of his work at a gallery in Soho and we were all invited to attend the opening reception. He had arranged for us to stay at the Chelsea Hotel, an icon in the art world where O Henry liked to stay, Dylan Thomas had committed suicide, and Andy Warhol's circle hung out. It had an exciting history and a shabby present. It was in a rough part of town that had not yet been gentrified.
I remember vividly our first impressions of the Chelsea. The first thing was the dead rat in the hall. Once in our room--five of us were sharing a room meant for two--we saw that the french doors leading to the fire escape could not be locked. The fact that we were on the second floor and there was nothing to stop anyone who wanted to from climbing the fire escape and coming into our room was not particularly comforting...especially since the neighborhood looked pretty unsavory. Then there was the bathroom that had obviously not been cleaned, as evidenced by the dirty washcloth wadded up in the drain of the bathtub. They called it "bohemian"; we called it the pits. My friend Mary immediately got on the phone and tried to find another place for us to stay. No luck. The first of New York's many transit strikes was scheduled to begin in two days and there was not one vacant room in the city. Mary went out and bought cleaning supplies and cleaned the bathroom within an inch of her life. We placed an open umbrella in front of the french doors hoping if someone came in, we'd hear them crash into it.
We had many adventures on that trip. One stays vividly in my mind. About 1 AM one night Mary and I got hungry and walked over to the all-night diner across the street from the hotel. As we prepared to sit down at the counter, a man picked up a catsup bottle, broke it on the counter top and started threatening everyone in the place. We turned tail and rushed back to the hotel. The only problem was we had the uneasy feeling that we were being followed, not by the guy with the broken bottle but by someone else. We went to the main desk and asked for our key--they wouldn't give you your own key--and the guy behind the desk yelled out our room number just as the fellow we thought was following us skulked into the lobby. We didn't sleep very well that night.
Another less traumatic adventure happened one morning in a McDonalds down the street. My roommates and I had just sat down with our Egg McMuffins and coffee. A man came up to our table and asked one of us--I forget her name--if she wanted to be in a Clairol ad he was filming that afternoon. This woman had beautiful thick, wavy hair that was so long she could sit on it. The fellow looked OK but we were reluctant to take him at his word, especially in that neighborhood. He handed her his card and said he'd need to hear from her as soon as possible if she was interested. As it happened, a former Detroit neighbor of mine now worked at a well known ad agency in New York so I offered to call him and check this fellow out. When I did, my friend said he was one of Manhattan's most respected directors and it sounded like a legitimate offer. The long-haired woman called him back but learned that she was too late; he'd already hired someone else for the job.
There's no place like
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2002
Ed and I are so fortunate to have a friend like Pat Kolon who chooses to spend her precious holiday vacation here with us at our house. Tonight it was such fun to have each of us happily occupied with her/his own activites--Pat in the living room doing a jigsaw puzzle, me sitting in Ed's leather chair reading Daphne Du Maurier's pictorial memoir, and Ed in the den watching "Gone With the Wind" on TV.
When I downloaded the
picture of Pat working the puzzle, it reminded me of a
picture I'd taken of her two years ago tomorrow, the day I
bought my digital camera and first started adding photos to my
journal. I wonder how many tens of thousands of pictures I've
taken since then? Enough so my webhosting bill goes up every month!
I've been over my web space allotment for months now, and every
photo just kicks it higher. But it's worth it. Photos add
so much to a journal, for the readers and for the journal-keeper.
Besides, keeping a photo-journal has given me a photographer's
eye. It's not that my pictures are so special, it's just that
I always find myself looking for the perfect shot. It has sharpened
my visual appreciation of the world around me to such an extent
that if I don't take a picture of something beautiful or interesting,
I feel like I've missed half the enjoyment. Actually, it can get
a bit obsessive, but I guess that comes with the territory. Ask
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2002
Aren't robins supposed to migrate south in the winter? Well, someone seems to have missed the moment. It sure looks like winter to me with snow on the ground and chill in the air, but there was a red-breasted robin delicately snacking on the honeysuckle berries in our backyard this afternoon. Puts me in mind of myself.
Since 1996 I've migrated west to San Francisco for the winter months, but this year I'm staying put. You know, I'm enjoying being here in Michigan, even when snow and icy conditions keep me inside. It feels more natural to live each season in a way that respects its particular characteristics, to have a time of hibernation, of slowing down, of inner rather than outer-directed activity. Going to San Francisco kept me out on the streets in ways that I can't do here. Even with the Raging Grannies Without Borders, the O Beautiful Gaia project and helping out at school, I only do what I can do. If the weather gets too bad, I simply stay home. After all, no one's indispensable.
Speaking of that, I've been struggling with myself in relation to the mammoth National March on Washington to Stop the War On Iraq planned for January 18 in Washington, DC. Two voices have been going back and forth within my head: the first says I couldn't possibly miss it, and the second says I am tired to death of that ten-hour drive. After all, I made that drive in May, September, October and November. Of course, those were all Mother-related trips, but, thanks to her, I was able to attend the October 26 National Anti-War Rally/March. That demonstration with 200,000 people all saying NO to war on Iraq has been an ongoing source of communal strength and power. And I know we're going to need all the help we can get to make our way through this winter, what with Bush's promise of war(s) scheduled to begin soon after January 27.
This morning gave evidence of my ambivalence. I woke up around 8 AM, went to the bathroom and came back to bed. As I was going back to sleep, I said to myself, "There is no way you are going to drive to DC for that demo!" I dropped off to sleep and dreamed I was there. I woke up for another bathroom stop about 10 AM, and said the same thing to myself; "Oh no, you are NOT going to DC!" I again dreamed I was there. After I'd really-and-truly gotten up, dressed, visited with Eddie, and then sat down at my computer, I found myself writing today's journal entry, and the subject? Why I was not going to the January 18 rally/march in Washington, DC. And within three hours I had decided to go! That's the way it works with me. I can make up my mind about something but if it keeps gnawing away at me, I know I'll probably change my mind.
This time the shift came about during a phone conversation with a Detroit activist named Kim. She had given Pat Kolon a holiday gift to give me--a booklet of original songs she'd written to the tunes of Christmas carols. They were perfect Raging Grannies material, and after singing every one of them out loud--and LOVING them!--I called Kim to thank her and to encourage her to become a Raging Granny. During our conversation, I asked if she was planning to go to DC for the rally/march. She said "Yes." Well, something snapped in me and I asked if she'd be interested in driving together. She enthusiastically agreed. Then I got off the phone and told Pat about our decision and she said she wanted to go too! So now I'm exploring hotel options for the nights of January 17 and 18. And I'm truly excited! The decision feels right, and I know we'll have a lot of fun together. Happily, both Kim and Pat are willing to do the drive in two days each way, so it won't even feel that heroic. And yes, Kim wants to be a Raging Granny! Actually we'll be joining the Rochester, NY Grannies in Washington, DC and sing as we march.
Oh yes, it feels SO right.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2002
I pull my space
like a cloak. Silent,
unremarkable, it sweeps
the floor; dust motes
Pat has gone back to Dayhouse after a lovely visit. In three days we watched three good videos: "I Am Sam" with Sean Penn, "The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood" with Maggie Smith, and "Baraka", a 1994 documentary that I own. Don't miss "I Am Sam" and try to find "Baraka." If Sean Penn does not get an Oscar for Best Actor, there is no justice. And "Baraka"? I can only say that this unique film is for those who want to open their minds and hearts to the sacred in this world at the same time that they recognize how Western civilization never fails to damage that which it desires. Both movies will stay with you.
Pat's daughter, Emily, joined us for a Chinese dinner tonight. Ed and I have known and loved this young woman--now almost 20--since she was seven. It is always a treat to spend time with her. After dinner Emily went with Ed on his nightly two mile walk while Pat and I cleaned up. When they returned she showed him her fancy new cell phone, and then let me put my arms around her as Ed took our picture.
My Denise Levertov books of poetry arrived today. After spending Christmas Day in her company (online), I wanted to hold her words in my hands and read and reread them in the way you only can with a book. My wanting her with me is not simply because I love her poetry, it is because I know she understands. When the bombs start dropping on Baghdad, I want Denise Levertov at my side.
From Evening Train (published by New Directions in 1992):
Witnessing from Afar
the New Escalation of Savage Power
She was getting old, had
seen a lot,
knew a lot.
But something innocent
upheld her spirits.
She tended a small altar,
kept a candle shielded there,
or tried to. There was a crash and throb
of harsh sound audible
always, but distant.
she had it in her
to fend for herself and hold
despair at bay.
Now when she came to the ridge and saw
the world's raw gash
reopened, the whole world
a valley of steaming blood,
her small wisdom
guttered in the uprush;
darkness and the blast
levelled her. (Not her own death,
that was not yet.) The deafening
downrush. Shock, shame
no memory, no knowledge
nor dark imagination
had prepared her for.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2002
May your experience of the New
be in harmony with your hopes and dreams,
and if it is not,
may you be given all that you need
to work towards creating a new reality.
This year I just couldn't go around saying "Happy New Year!"; I had to find other words and another way to wish people the best. Knowing that 2003 will probably bring an unprovoked war by the United States on the defenseless people of Iraq makes it hard to celebrate its arrival. And that is just the beginning. I cannot even begin to imagine what other destructive decisions the Bush administration will make before the year ends.
You know, I used to be an optimist. Hard to believe that now. As 1990 gave way to 1991, I actually believed that our efforts for peace would stop Bush, Sr. from bombing Iraq. Yes, our current president's father taught me to be a realist.
But my realism has two sides to it. At the same time that I carry a dreadful sense of foreboding, I also hold the awe-filled knowledge that transformation is spreading across the globe. As governmental and corporate leaders spiral ever deeper into violence, arrogance and greed, communities on local, national and global levels are working to create a sustainable, just, peaceful future for our children and our children's children. I see this happening everywhere I look. Two sides of the same coin. The trick is to remember there is another side that is hidden when the coin lands tails-first, for "heads" points toward life and "tails" points toward death. May 2003 be a year when the heads win.
I want to close the year
by showing the peace
painting made by a fourth grade girl in the Dearborn school
where I help out. May we listen to and act upon her wisdom.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2003
BRRRRR!!! I went out for my first scoot in a long time and was it ever cold! The wind was out of the north and it meant business. I guess I should have realized it was an inside-type day when I didn't see one person out on the streets and only one car in the parking lot at our lakefront park. But the snow had melted and I wanted to take advantage of the clear sidewalks. I'm learning that can change overnight!
I remember I also started 2002 by scooting down to the park and taking pictures. Even though the conditions looked more wintery then with an ice-covered lake, frozen outdoor skating rink and ice fishermen in the harbor, it was sunny and not all that cold. Certainly not this windy. And there were people in the park that day; unlike today when I was alone with the geese. But I still loved it. The sandy beach with its ice-encrusted shore, beach grass swaying in the wind, a row of picnic tables stacked in front of the kayaks, the partially-frozen skating rink, the icy harbor, icicles on a fence that was bearing the brunt of the wind-whipped lake, and a wintery sky to the west.
I brought in the New Year by acting on a decision I'd made a long time ago but had been putting off because of the bother involved. I finally signed up with a different Internet Provider. I'd been with AOL for most of my computer years and had gotten more and more turned off by them. It was so many things--AOL's Big Brother attitude toward their customers, their tendency to kick you off with a message saying it was the fault of your own modem (which was totally untrue), the large amounts of disgusting SPAM that AOL users have to put up with. But the thing that finally moved me to action was their pro-war, pro-Bush, pro-Israel, pro-corporate "news" that I was forced to see everytime I logged on. I knew that if Bush gets his way and the US goes to war with Iraq, AOL would be one of their loudest cheerleaders. There is NO WAY I would stand for that. So yesterday I signed on with Earthlink.net and so far I am delighted.
My niece Carolyn uses Earthlink and said they have NO SPAM and she rarely gets kicked offline. I got a half-price deal for six months if I stayed with dial-up service instead of changing to high-speed DSL. I don't have any complaints about dial-up so I was happy to take advantage of their offer. My three phone calls to Earthlink tech support yesterday were handled with competence and courtesy. I appreciate that. So now I'm getting the hang of using Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. What delights me the most is that I can put up whatever web site I want to serve as my home page--what I see when I log on--so I chose my favorite alternative news site, www.commondreams.org/ What a change to read about Iraq Peace Teams and the Reporters Without Borders instead of having to look at Rumsfeld, Bush or Cheney! My biggest task now is to create a new email address book. I worked on it for three hours last night and am only up to the "Gs". But I'll just take my time and it'll get done. Anyway, I plan to keep AOL for an extra month to ensure an easy transition.
It feels like a good start
to the New Year to say goodbye to one of the greatest purveyors
of government propaganda in the US. Another choice for peace.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 2, 2003
This afternoon I received an email from a regular reader of my journal. OK, it was actually from my husband Ed who always signs his politically-inspired emails to me "an american mother." I reply with the signature, "A Concerned Citizen." Here is an american mother's message:
you see i am at least as interested in not invading iraq as you, but you see, you may be blunting your message with what appears a dislike for cheney, bush, et al but that may be putting off the marginal people, people who dislike war but like bush a lot.
you see, if you are going to make a written point, set aside the other hobby-horses for the time being, as making a point on a pencil you remove the dreck of wood and graphite that does not contribute to the point. the sharpened pencil is already there. michaelangelo's 'david' was already there in the quarry marble. it was removing the excess that causes the finished product to emerge, whose message transcends the ages.
you see it isn't cheney, or condoleeza or colin (who might be popular enough to be the next president) it's the damn bloodiness, uselessness and transgenerational hatred insuring more of the same. hitler emerged directly from the first world war. israel emerged directly from the first and second. tens of thousands of american boys will be separated from their intestinal processes if war starts, and perhaps ten times that number of devout people who pray five times a day, with no distinction to age, sex, etc.
you see, putting down powell doesn't kill two birds with one stone for antiwar activism. it doesn't even kill one...
stay to the point, i.e., if you have one. as it is, i am not so sure what it is. is it 'we wuz robbed' in florida in 2000? that is a good point. is it, 'we wouldn't be in this mess if nader was elected?' i believe it. 'gore?' i believe that too. 'corporate america is steering us to war?' sounds right to me.
but if your message is antiwar, shave, sculpt off the others, meritorious as they may be. you are a powerful communicator. use that power efficiently.
an american mother
What an interesting perspective! By the way, this is what keeps me intrigued with this guy I married 36 years ago. He and I can see things totally differently yet somehow manage to find a common thread in the unravelling fabric of today's world events. Not always, mind, but often enough. For instance, we are both against war in general and this proposed war on Iraq in particular. Maybe for different reasons, but the end product is the same.
So, after letting my ego have its mini-tissy fit after reading his implied criticism, I stopped to ask myself the question: Why am I writing this journal and sending it out into a web of unknown readers? Is it to change minds? To use as a bully pulpit? To bring a modicum of truth to a world wrapped in lies (in my humble opinion)? To work for peace, justice, freedom and all the other ways of being that I hold dear? To dump on Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld, et.al.? To say my say and imagine I'm being listened to? To express my innermost thoughts and feelings? To share the events of my daily life? To take and put up pretty pictures? To answer whomever it was who asked me when I first put up my web site in 1999 how I kept such a positive attitude as a person living with a disability? To encourage other disabled folks to get out there and live life full out? To examine my life day-by-day and try to get a sense of what's going on?
My list of questions could go on forever. How do we ever know why we do what we do? Our powers of self-delusion are usually pretty well refined, especially by my age (60). So any answers I give here, or even within the privacy of my own head and heart, are only partially true. What's truth anyway? The older I get, the less I see "truth' as a objective reality. What I call truth might be seen as a pack of lies to someone else, and vice versa. My perception of reality as a white woman born into privileged circumstances will have little similarity to the reality experienced by a person of color born into poverty...even if we were born on the same day in the same place and experienced the same events.
But, to get back to Ed's remarks, am I interested in sharpening the pencil of my musings so that I might be a more effective anti-war spokesperson here in my journal? Boy, that's a hard one! Yes, I would LOVE it if what I send forth in this journal were to make my readers think twice about the wisdom of attacking Iraq. It would be wonderful if someone who was riding the fence between supporting a military or a non-violent solution would choose non-violence because of something they read here. But the question is...is that why I write this journal night after night whether I feel like it or not? To proselytize for peace or any of my beloved beliefs? No, that is NOT why I write this journal.
I write this journal because it is important to me to share my journey with a community of sisters and brothers rather than going it alone. That's why it's such a hodge-podge of reflections, reporting, questioning, proclaiming, crying, laughing, raging, seeing, hearing, feeling and thinking. As best I can express in words and/or show in pictures, this journal mirrors my life, day by interesting or not so interesting day. If I turn some people off or engage others by what I write, that comes with the territory. I'm not looking for any particular response from my readers. Well, maybe respect. Over the years I've had many positive and a few negative responses to my journal, but I never hear from the vast majority of readers. All of which is fine. I like hearing from folks but whether I do or not, I'm going to keep on writing.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that this journal is mainly kept for me. Does that sound narcissistic? Maybe it is. But even so, I'm not sure I care. I just know that my day isn't complete until I've put my journal to bed.
Remember when I said yesterday
that I wanted to ride my scooter because I didn't know how long
the clear sidewalks would last? Well, 24 hours later, they were
clear no longer. But what is more beautiful than falling snow..especially
FRIDAY, JANUARY 3, 2003
Today Pat Kolon and I discovered that going to the Detroit Institute of Arts works very well, even with my scooter and even in snowy conditions. Actually the snow had stopped falling by the time I got up this morning. The roads were pretty clear but the sidewalks were definitely not. It was truly a winter wonderland. But that didn't stop us! All I had to do was walk the few steps from our front door to the garage, get in my car and go pick Pat up at Dayhouse. I then drove us to the DIA--about two miles--and, although we unloaded my scooter in front of the museum doors, we soon discovered that the underground parking garage is perfect for our needs. So from now on, we'll be cozy and dry while Pat takes La Lucha my scooter from the car and assembles her. We'll then take the elevator up to the street and only have to walk/scoot twenty steps to the Farnsworth entrance to the DIA. This means Michigan's winter weather need not keep me home!
The Detroit Institute of Arts is much more than simply a museum of art. It is home to the Detroit Film Theatre, "for 29 years one of America's most comprehensive and acclaimed showcases of contemporary and world cinema." From September to May, films are shown every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights with matinees on Sunday. In addition to offering films, the museum has instituted a new program called "Fridays at the DIA." Every Friday evening the museum stays open until 9 PM and offers music/dance/storytelling performances as well as drop-in workshops, lectures, tours and artists demonstrating their craft. Tonight the Fiddlers Four (Michael Doucet, Darol Anger, Bruce Molsky and Rushad Eggleston) were packing in crowds of young people for their two performances at the Diego Rivera Garden Court. And of course this is an art museum!
The DIA has diverse collections of art from around the world, as well as unique treasures like the Diego Rivera murals that the artist spent eight months painting on site in 1932-33, and "Quilting Times", a wall-sized mosiac by Romare Bearden. And of course, travelling exhibits come regularly to Detroit, like the mammoth "Degas and the Dance" exhibit that brought us to the museum today and even got Pat's daughter Emily, a dancer herself, to join us. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the Kresge Court for dining--where Pat, Emily and I enjoyed a Detroit soul food dinner of fried catfish and macaroni and cheese--and a cafe at the Film Theatre that is catered by one of Detroit's best vegetarian restaurants.
Isn't it strange how I'd
gotten so caught up with San Francisco that I'd forgotten all
that Detroit has to offer. I'm glad that I'm staying here this
winter so I can get reacquainted with my city.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 4, 2003
Ah, what could be more lifegiving than being with women? Especially the women of the Great Lakes Basin who are forming community around the O Beautiful Gaia CD project! Today was our monthly all-day gathering and, as always, it was superb. I'm not going to try to share my photos or stories tonight; I'll save that for tomorrow. Let me just give you a few teasers so you'll be sure to come back!
Check out Alicia's sheer delight (head thrown back and grin as wide as the sky) as we were doing movement together in the Ojibway Nature Centre of Windsor parking lot before they opened and we went inside to sing. And sing we did...for glorious hour upon hour. Not only did we sing songs written by others, but members of our community wrote their own verses and shared them with the circle. You can see how it felt to receive the applause of our sisters. But applause was not the only thing we received--how about these backrubs?
Our day began at 9:30 AM in the parking lot of the Ojibway Nature Centre of Windsor. We wanted to do some movement together in the fresh air before the doors opened at 10 AM. As a scooter-rider, I moved a bit but my sisters really got into it. They grounded themselves in the earth below, reached toward the skies, stretched their arms from sea to sea, and bowed in reverence to Mother Gaia. And then Joanna led them in dances during which they invited me to be in the center of the circle. What healing energy!
Our singing room was cozy with a stone fireplace and a view of birds waiting patiently in bushes for their turn at the birdfeeder outside the window. We began, as has become our tradition, by chanting "O Beautiful Gaia." From our first gathering in September, this chant naturally evolved into a time of spontaneously sharing verses that we offer as prayer and the community joins in the praying. It's funny how quickly a group establishes "traditions"; another of ours is having Pat Noonan light the candle on our altar. Now, the altar itself is always different. This month our artist sister Pam created a ritual celebration of the rivers and lakes that surround and connect our two countries. And it was Pam and Diane who drummed us into a spirit of sisterhood.
This was a day of song, pretty much from beginning to end. We will be recording our section of the double CD, "O Beautiful Gaia," on June 14-15, 2003 and want to embody the songs we will be singing well before that time. I say embody rather than learn because our intention is to sing as with one voice that wells up from the love and commitment to the earth that has brought us together. This is no choir or chorus; we are a circle of women who will do whatever is necessary to protect, sustain and help restore the health of air, water, land and species that human choices have put at risk. This CD we are creating with our sisters in Atlantic Canada and Atlantic New England is not intended for easy listening; it is intended to be an instrument of cultural transformation, a passionate statement of love that will touch hearts and inspire action. There is a shared urgency to get this message out before it is too late.
So, even as we sing, we are educating ourselves and forming subgroups to work on land conservancy, river-keeping, species preservation, biodiversity and whatever other issues we feel called upon to address. In addition to working with already-formed community groups and coalitions, we plan to use creative means like song, visual art, writing and quilting to express and act upon what we learn. At lunch today, each subgroup met and brainstormed ways to enact our vision. I was part of the community art group that met with the Windsor artist Elaine Carr. We began to envision an environmental installation that would literally connect the two shores of our shared Detroit River. We will work with Marion Overholt of the river-keepers group and hope to involve Shaun Nethercott (Detroit's Matrix Theatre) who shared with us at our December gathering, and a number of other community groups on both sides of the river. This is a big project but we decided to dream big and go from there. The land conservancy group came up with the idea of bringing together inner city youth from both countries to learn about and work on projects involving the land we share. Today the quilters received their first completed quilt square. They spent much of their time creating verses to two of the songs we will be singing on the CD. The writers worked together all the way through lunch and emerged with at least eight new verses to the song, "We Say Yes."
We sang songs like "Beginners" (music by Norma Luccock; text by Denise Levertov) that have intricate harmonies and take sustained attention and repeated singing, and others like the peace song, "If Every Woman In the World," that got us on our feet, clapping our hands and singing from the depths of our being. It is this kind of heart-singing that we want to bring to every song! When we sang the words, "of every age and generation," I was mindful of the gift we share in having both Bethany, age 15, and Jean, in her 80s, as part of our circle. Every age and generation...
By 4 PM it was time for us to finish for the day. As we left the Ojibway Nature Center, a sacred land of hiking trails and environmental education programs set within Windsor's city limits, we were delighted to meet two employees and their friend: Erin and Kristine with Kaa, a Ball Python from Africa (whom she let us pet). On our way out to the parking lot, La Lucha my scooter and I encountered an impassable path...impassable that is until my friends the human snow plows got to work! Many of us then went to eat dinner at the Michigan Diner, a Windsor, Ontario institution since 1950.
Not only do I keep this
ongoing photo-journal of our Great Lakes Basin community gatherings,
but Penny Hackett-Evans, the American coordinator, has been making
a wonderful photo
album filled with collages using the digital pictures she
takes each month. I remember Carolyn McDade saying in a retreat
years ago that unless we share our stories, what happens will
be lost. May what is happening here never be lost.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 5, 2003
Today's journal entry
is really the one written for yesterday (see below). As I've noted
before, it often takes longer to prepare the photos and write
my journal entry than it does to live the event in the first place!
But I wouldn't want to do it any other way.
MONDAY, JANUARY 6, 2003
Now I feel human again! The pool opened tonight after what felt like FOREVER but I guess was only two and a half weeks. Oh, did it feel good to be in that water, swimming my thirty lengths of the crawl. My body is still vibrating from the exertion. I feel so fortunate to have found this most-perfect exercise and to do it, not because it is "good for me", but because I absolutely LOVE it! After having the pool practically to myself for a couple of weeks before the holidays, it was quite peopled today. I call these folks the "New Year's resolution" crowd; they usually last a few weeks ;-)
It's 12:30 AM and I've
got to take myself to bed. Tomorrow I get up early (for me) and
go to school...another activity I have sorely missed during these
last weeks. I can't wait to be with my kids again!
TUESDAY, JANUARY 7, 2003
I guess the biggest struggle for folks like me these days is how to stay focused on what we want our world to become even as we recognize where it currently is. There is tremendous tension between our dreams--that can often seem impossible--and the realities that smack us in the face every time we hear of a new decision by government and corporate leaders that threatens to bring destruction and the loss of freedom in its wake. For many, this tension can be paralyzing. So when I received an email today from a woman whom I respect greatly, I took her painful questions to heart. She wrote, in part:
"So, I always look upon you with *amazement*! You are the most hopeful person I know, yet surely you too must realize how steep the odds. This is going to sound like a silly question, but I was just wondering if you could tell me, where do you get your hope from?...There is too much that is terribly wrong...I swing like a weather vane in a tornado. You seem possessed of unswerving certainty. Pray, tell me where you find it!"
Ah, dear sister. I SO understand everything single solitary thing you write about the seeming futility of change, the two steps forward one step back that often seem to be more like one step forward, two steps back, the despair that can settle like a black unlifting cloud over those of us who dare to become awake, aware and conscious of what is really going on in the world. And yet...AND YET. When I look around me and see so many committed, untiring, creative workers for change, I cannot stay in that dark place. Young and old, women and men, black/white/brown/red/yellow...THEY are what give me hope. It is not the "results" of our work but rather the undying struggle of vast numbers of individuals and groups worldwide that fills me with hope. Our work is largely unsung, unreported, maybe unnoticed, but it is happening day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. And, for the most part, this work is totally non-violent. That is VERY important to me. I personally must only use tools that reflect the end product I want to see. So violence, hostility and even sarcasm does not work for me. Nor do they work for untold others across the planet. And even though our Raging Grannies are called to RAGE, our raging is done with love, humor and the passion of belief in the power to promote change, to make people think, to wake folks up. There is not an ounce of hatred or violence in anything we do or sing or say. We just tell it like it is. It puts me in mind of Carolyn McDade's song, "No woman is required to build the world by destroying herself." In that song, she speaks of the power of rage. For me, it is often that creative rage that keeps me from going into the black hole of despair; it is that rage that gets me out there into action rather than sitting around wringing my hands and lamenting the sorry state of the world....
Of course, I didn't even mention one of my most consistent sources of life and hope: the children! Just being in their presence fills me with everything I need to keep on keeping on. The world can be going to hell in a hand basket, as some folks say, but you'd never know it when you're in an art room with kids asking your favorite food and then making it for you in oil clay (the kind you model and then smush back into a ball at the end of class). Today I requested and was given a vegie-dog with mustard in a bun, crispy french fries, corn on the cob with pats of melted butter, a garden burger with feta cheese, mustard, relish and onions, and a raspberry smoothie with whipped cream and a cherry on top. I mean how could you be down in the depths with that kind of loving attention?
It wasn't only food that they made out of clay: it was a smiley face with its tongue sticking out made by one girl, and a zoo with a variety of animals and people walking around looking at them that a table of six girls dreamed up and made on their own. And it wasn't only their clay projects that delighted me; it was a second grader from Somalia who showed me his drawing with the explanation, "This is just some of my family. I didn't have room to put in my grandparents or aunts and uncles!" It was my hearing one kid out in the hall ask Susan, who was tanned from her vacation at a resort in the Dominican Republic, why she had changed color!"
Every activist should
be required to spend at least one day a week with children. I
think we'd keep our hope alive if we did.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 8, 2003
Can you imagine an email getting you so fired up that you would churn out a half a mile of the crawl without stopping? That's what Alix Olson did for me today. But I'm sure if you've ever experienced Alix doing Spoken Word, you would definitely understand. That woman has more fire in her little finger than most folks have in their whole body. She just plumb knocked me out when I saw her perform at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival in 2002 and 2001. Spoken Word like your life depended on it...which it does the way Alix presents it. She takes on the culture, homophobia, politics, world events, the patriarchy, militarism, capitalism, sexism, racism...just about every "ism" we know. No lie is too small to uncover and no dream too large to imagine. She is funny, intelligent, informed, passionate, articulate, inspired. When she starts talking, you hold your breath so you won't miss a word. I mean this woman changes things.
Anyway, I got an email from Alix today. Totally out of the blue, I might add. The subject was "help for a sister/warrior." Since she knew I'd been to the Michigan Festival and was communicating via my windchime walker email address, I figure she must have found me through my web site. She wrote "i'm looking for a picture of the 'raging grannies' to go along with one of my pieces for my new book-- and i was pointed, via the internet, in your direction." She signed her message, "thanks so much for your help, and for doing the raging warrior work that you do, alix o." I wrote back to tell her I had three photos that might work but, before I could send them, I'd need to check with the Grannies to see if they were OK with having their pictures in a book. Of course they will be, but I still need to check. I mean what activist wouldn't want her picture in a book by Alix Olson??? Give me a break!
When I hit that water an hour later I was so full of sister/warrior energy that I just couldn't stop! With every stroke I counted myself fortunate to be in the world at this time with these kind of people at my side. For some reason I had forgotten about Alix Olson and the no-holds-barred way she tackles war and power and greed and imperialism and and and...
Just remembering her gives me such a feeling of strength. There are SO MANY OF US OUT THERE, each one doing her or his work in uniquely creative ways. Together we have a power that we cannot imagine. It's just hidden from view, that's all. But I'm not going to forget again. I'm going to order Alix's CD off her web site and listen to it over and over and over. With Alix Olson at my side I'll never get tired of the struggle.
Speaking of the struggle, here's song I wrote today for us Raging Grannies to sing at the INS protest demonstration on Friday, January 10. That's the second INS Registration deadline for men over the age of 16 who have come to America from 14 countries...and we Raging Grannies have this to say about that:
O IMMIGRANTS, O IMMIGRANTS
(tune: Three Blind Mice)
O immigrants, O immigrants
Watch what you say
Watch what you do
John Ashcroft an-nd the INS
Will put you away with all the rest
They won't tell your names or give you bail
It's so unjust
O immigrants, O immigrants
That's what they say
But if you do they will hose you down
And crowd you in cells where you can't be found
It's all done in secret so never mind
Your civil rights
O immigrants, O immigrants
You're not alone
This is your home
The Grannies are here to sing and shout
Ashcroft will see we know what he's about
The bullies can't bully you in our sight
We won't give in
Won't give in
THURSDAY, JANUARY 9, 2003
fuzzy envelopes sealed shut
promise of spring contained therein
bare branches stretch toward sky
arms intertwined in cold embrace
promise of spring contained
seeds of hope rest unseen
arms intertwined in cold embrace
can we trust the promise?
seeds of hope rest unseen
like hopes for peace, unspoken
can we trust the promise?
does the magnolia bud believe?
like hopes for peace,
bare branches stretch toward sky
does the magnolia bud believe?
fuzzy envelopes sealed shut
FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2003
A letter to the Raging Grannies...
I'm home for 45 minutes to warm up before I head back down to the INS office. Our Grannies will be RAGING there between 2-4 PM today, Friday. There was a demo from 7-9 AM and now there will be another one from 2-4 PM. The INS office is supposed to close at 3:30 PM but there are still so many people inside waiting to be seen (100-150 according to a man I talked to).
I got down there with my sign--"We are ALL immigrants...stop the round-ups!!!"--about 9 AM, just as the demo was ending. I talked to Bob Parsons of the Blue Triangle Network, the group that organized the vigil, and he offered to come and speak to us Raging Grannies at tomorrow's meeting! Hope lots of you can make it! Anyway, I stayed in my car with my sign from 9-11:20 AM, holding it out the door and telling folks who were on their way into the INS that I was with them and I totally disagreed with this registration business. They seemed to appreciate it. Then a woman reporter from the Detroit Free Press showed up, asked me some questions, but the main thing was that a man from Pakistan who had just left the INS office, came over to talk with us. He gave her a superb interview. This is a man who has been working as an engineer for General Motors for years. By the way, he's been waiting FIVE YEARS for the INS to process his application for a Green Card! This is a well educated--currently working on his PhD--man who had to go through being searched, fingerprinted, questioned, as well as waiting from 7 AM until 11 AM to be seen. FOUR HOURS! He said the security officer was very unpleasant--"the woman treated you like you were a criminal"--but the interviewer was OK.
Anyway, I'm off again in a few minutes to be a presence of solidarity for the persons being registered and a protester of the system that set this up. Talk about reminders of how the Japanese-Americans were treated in the US during WWII! Now everything is set up for detention camps right here and now. AGHHHGGG!!!
enRAGED and ready to sing with my sisters
Well, I think I'm finally thawed out. After a long hot shower and some time at the computer my fingers are acting as fingers should. There for awhile I wondered if they ever would again. What I neglected to mention in the letter I wrote to the Grannies at noon was to dress warmly--very warmly--if they were coming down to the demo at 2 PM. But of course if they looked outside their windows, they'd know that. Heavy snow showers chased sun and blue skies off and on during this bitter cold January day. A day that surely tested the mettle of protesters. But, hey, this is Michigan after all!
Anyway, six Raging Grannies braved the chill and joined me in front of the INS office in Detroit for the 2-4 PM rally and demonstration. Judy Drylie, Bev Bloedel, Dolores Killewald, Magi Mooney, Virginia Haynes and our co-founder, the intrepid Kathy Russell. We sang and sang and sang some more. It was such fun to see people's faces as they heard our lyrics! Even the hardboiled press and media seemed to get a pretty big kick out of us Grannies. As the afternoon wore on, we were photographed by both Channel 7 TV and a Detroit Free Press photographer. Ed has already seen us on the 6 PM TV news, and Hugh of the Free Press took all of our names and said ours was his favorite picture. He even took a Raging Grannies portrait for us with my camera. If you wonder where the rest of our Grannies are in the assorted pictures, all I can say is that occasionally we lost a sister or two to a warmly-heated car. But usually they returned.
Certainly it was fun to have press and media attention, but that serves only one purpose: to wake people up to what is happening in this country that they might still think is a democracy. Today it was immigrant men 16 years of age and older from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. December 16 it had been immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Sudan. Who will be next? All of us out on that cold, windy sidewalk remembered the words of Pastor Martin Niemoeller of Nazi Germany: "First they came for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, but by that time, no one was left to speak up." I think each one of us wants to say, when it is all done, that we did everything we could. We did not remain silent. We did not hide our heads in the sand.
Today's demonstration of solidarity with the immigrants who had to register with the INS was at the same time a demonstration of protest against what our country has been doing to persons of Arab and South Asian descent since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Everyone out there today fears that the illegal jailings, like that of my brother Rabih Haddad, coupled with this wave of registrations, and the general anti-immigrant attitudes and actions by the government and public alike will lead to round-ups and detention camps like those that terrorized Japanese-Americans during World War II. A young man at the demonstration held a sign that said it plainly, "What's next? Concentration camps?"
Hopefully, the press and media will tell it like it is, so that people of conscience can begin to see what is happening and do something about it. Like join us on the streets, or if not that, at least talk to friends and family, maybe write letters to the editor, or contact their senators and representatives and ask them to advocate for immigrants. We have to get beyond this "us" and "them" mentality that is being fostered by the man who currently sits in the oval office. His words and prejudices remind me of persons I've met who fear differences because they feel so poorly about themselves. If you feel good about yourself in a healthy and respectful way, you have no need to put others down or see them as enemies.
Be that as it may, on the streets of Detroit this cold wintery day, we knew who we were: sisters and brothers to one another. Here are some demonstrators talking with a man who had had to be registered and his wife. You know, that was what touched me most deeply about this demonstration. So often we are advocating for people who are far away, like the Iraqis this year and the the people of Afghanistan last year. But here we were offering support to the very individuals who walked by us or stopped to speak. When we Grannies sang or the group chanted; when we held our banners and signs high, when speakers took the bullhorn and shared their thoughts and feelings...all of these things were seen and heard by the very people we were there to support. I can't remember feeling more gratified by a day of activism.
But as grateful as I am, I remain deeply saddened by images I saw of the men on their way in and out of the INS office today. Young men carrying toddlers and their wives walking beside them, both with worried expressions on their faces. Old men with their wives, looking lost and forlorn. Men walking by themselves, heads lowered as if expecting a blow. Groups of young men, smiling and with the ubiquitous cell phones to their ears, trying to look like they weren't scared but not quite succeeding. The fear was palpable; no one was exempt. And no wonder. After what had happened in Los Angeles on December 16--600 Iranian men strip searched and thrown in jail--who could feel safe? But, from news reports I've heard so far, no one was jailed in Detroit today.
I want to thank the Blue Triangle Network for organizing today's demo, and for all their efforts on behalf of the Arab and South Asian communities...and especially for the "disappeared" who have been jailed. I also want to thank Judy Drylie, my friend and Raging Granny sister, who got my scooter in and out of my car and took many of these photos. Actually, I didn't take any of today's pictures. You can tell because I'm in so many of them! The other photos were taken by Judy Markle, Hugh the Detroit Free Press photograher, and one by the Public Relations Director of the Detroit INS (!).
And now, my friends, I
have got to go to bed. This was a very big day.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 11, 2003
These Raging Grannies really deserve a lot of credit. They are very busy women and yet we still had ten grannies show up for our monthly meeting today, two of them new to our gaggle. We welcomed Kim Redigan, a gifted political parody songwriter, and Wendy Watson, a longstanding community activist, both of whom will add a lot to our group.
Half of the women at today's meeting had been part of yesterday's most strenuous demonstration at the INS. Kathy admitted that she'd stayed bundled up most of last night, trying to get warm again. Both of us had had problems with our feet becoming painful and then numb in yesterday's +9° F wind chill conditions. At dinner afterwards, we had shared our concerns over what this problem was going to mean for us at next Saturday's rally and march in DC. After all, yesterday's demo was only two hours long; how would it be when we were on the streets from 9 AM to 6 PM? Today that dear woman brought me a pair of socks that are supposed to keep you warm down to -40° F. I think she may have taken care of our problem. Thanks, Kathy!
Today's meeting was most informative. Bob Parsons of the Blue Triangle Network came to speak to us about the work of their group. It was the Blue Triangle Network that organized yesterday's demo at the INS. He tied their struggle for just treatment of Muslims, Arabs and South Asians in the US to the historical treatment of Jews in Germany and Japanese-Americans in the US during WWII. In post-September 11th US, this coalition of Arab and non-Arab organizations and individuals has seen chilling reminders of everything that led up to concentration camps for the Jews and internment camps for the Japanese-Americans. He told us how years of mandatory registration of Japanese-Americans in this country had made it easy for the government to round up the leaders of that community in three days and ship them off to internment camps. And that was only the beginning. This is why the Blue Triangle Network is so disturbed by the recent mandatory INS registrations of immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries. They see where this can lead.
Our Grannies listened closely, asked searching questions, discussed how they saw it, and seemed to understand Bob's message with both their hearts and their heads. We committed to doing everything we can to educate the public about what this increased repression and mandatory registration of immigrants means and where it is likely to go. As it is, a good number of our songs already address this subject.
After Bob left, we had an hour to handle our monthly business. We firmed up plans for the Washington, DC rally/march on January 18--at least six of us are going!--and arranged for a gaggle of our Grannies to sing at the Windsor, Ontario anti-war rally/march scheduled for the same day. It was suggested by one of our members that we focus exclusively on the repression of Muslims, Arabs and South Asians like the Blue Triangle Network does. That opened the door to a fruitful discussion of how each of us sees the mission of the Raging Grannies Without Borders.
I invited Peg to tell us about the Sweetwater Alliance and their struggle to stop Perrier from taking--at no cost to them--spring water from Michigan's aquifers in the middle of the state, and making $1.5 million a day selling it as Ice Mountain bottled water. The only money received by the state of Michigan from Perrier has been $85 for their original permit. Perrier is currently planning to build a second factory elsewhere in the state so they can take even more water from the Great Lakes basin and double their profits. The Sweetwater Alliance has been active statewide in protesting this precedent-setting theft of water using both the legal system and community-based group actions. Needless to say, we are all asked to boycott Ice Mountain water.
I then spoke of the ongoing community demonstrations in front of Detroit's DTE building and the Detroit Water Department to protest their cutting off gas, electricity and water for non-payment of bills. Often renters are caught in the middle and suddenly find themselves without heat, electricity or water. People have died because of this. The Sweetwater Alliance web site also tells the story of this struggle to keep access to water a right and not a privilege.
After discussing these and other issues, we decided by consensus that the Raging Grannies need to be involved in as many of these struggles as we can, rather than limiting ourselves to one issue, no matter how important it is. Our commitment is to our grandchildren and all who will come after us. We want to leave them a world that is rich and diverse, healthy and just.
And then we sang...which, after all, is what we Raging Grannies are all about.
By the way, the Detroit
Free Press ran a good
article by Kim North Shine about yesterday's INS registrations
and protest demo. The Grannies weren't pictured but the issues
were given a fair hearing. That's all we ask.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 12, 2003
What could be more awe-inspiring than to be present at a birth? Today our Notable Women community had that privilege as Deanne played and we sang her brand new song, "Does It Fit In the Circle of Life." I could not sing it dry-eyed. For me, that is always the sign of a truly significant addition to the world of song. Not simply as music but as a message that touches one's heart and transforms your way of being in the world. Deanne said this is the first song she has ever "made public." And I said to her, "Get thee to a piano and keep churning them out!" When a song has such power and beauty, there's always more where that came from. It isn't just being a fine musician, either, it's the place from which the song emerges, it's who you are, what you've lived and all that you hold sacred. For Deanne, it is her abiding love of the earth that inspires everything she does, thinks, says, creates. She is truly an Earth Woman. And this song comes out of that deep place of reverence. No wonder I wept as we sang it.
I so loved being with
these women today. With this autumn's Mother-related trips to
Washington, DC, the flu and the Raging Grannies, I hadn't been
able to attend a Notable Women rehearsal since September. And,
although most of us are also part of the O Beautiful Gaia CD project,
each circle has a different focus and energy. Singing with Notable
Women feels like coming home. Our director--dear, gifted Nancy
Nordlie--had brought some wonderful chants today, as well as her
drum, banjo and guitar
with which to accompany us. We sang the chants in rounds, which
always reminds me of singing in the backseat of the car as a child
with my sisters. Drums, rattles and a rain stick added to our
sense of being in touch with the pulse of the earth. For most
of our time together we stayed in our seats as we sang, but I
remember at least one song that brought the women to
their feet. And as you can see, the song, "Carry
It On", really got me going. When we sang the
verse about victories we've won, I thought of Gov. Ryan of Illinois
Death Row as one of his final actions as Governor. What a
victory that was!
MONDAY, JANUARY 13, 2003
After the busy weekend,
today was a day to sleep in, make journal art, take care of Raging
Grannies' business, catch up with emails, go swimming, watch an
hour of "Further Tales of the City" on video, and finish
my day at the computer. It's now after midnight and since tomorrow
is a school day, I'd best get myself to bed.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2003
I unexpectedly walked into a hornet's nest of feelings within myself this afternoon, feelings of which I'm not particularly proud but which don't seem amenable to intellectual arguments...not yet anyway. Their power is in the fact that I wasn't even aware that I had them. These feelings were unleashed when I heard that a friend with whom I've shared a lot of political discussions and who has consistently voiced her opposition to the US attacking Iraq, will not be attending the January 18 anti-war demonstration that is practically in her backyard.
I fear I'm responding with judgment, which I don't like, and self-righteousness, which I like even less. But when I think of Magi who is 81 and Charlotte who is 70--two of our Raging Grannies without Borders--getting on a chartered bus at 8:30 PM Friday evening, riding through the night to Washington, DC, getting there at about 9 AM, being on their feet marching and standing in the cold all day, then getting back on that same bus at 6 PM that evening (Saturday) and riding through the night again, only to arrive back home in Detroit at 6:30 AM Sunday morning...I have to wonder how folks will live with themselves if they didn't do something to try to stop this war before it starts. For instance, if I hear my friend who stayed home complain about the war once it starts, it's going to be hard for me to refrain from saying, "So why didn't you do something about it ahead of time!"
I realize demonstrations are not everyone's thing. Some people write letters to the editor; others phone/email/fax their elected representatives in Congress. Some might support anti-war organizations financially; others might bring their creative gifts to the cause. Some do what I call "email activism", while others bring their organizational skills to the effort. There are as many ways of taking a stand against war as there are people who oppose it. But each one of us must do something! We cannot just sit and moan and groan about how bad things are without taking some kind of tangible action. For if too many of those who are opposed to the war "sit it out", so to speak, it looks like they agree with Bush's plan to destroy Iraq and its people (or Afghanistan or North Korea or whomever he decides needs to be destroyed) and the chance of stopping his war machine becomes nil.
Now my friend might say there's no chance anyway, so why bother. That, to me, is the scariest thing. If people of conscience refuse to act on their consciences because it will make no difference, then they are saying, "Go ahead. Bomb countries, kill civilians, destroy the infrastructure, take control of their natural resources, install your puppet government, litter their land with mines, pollute their water and air with deadly chemicals, cause generations of their babies and children to get sick and die unnecessarily...do what you will. I have no power; you have all the power. I've given up."
We can't give up. We mustn't give up. As long as we have breath and a brain to think, a heart to feel, hands to work, we must do all we can to save this planet and its life forms from those misguided leaders whose decisions bring death not life.
So I guess I'd say to
my friend, "OK, so if you don't go to the demonstration this
Saturday, please spend some time considering what you can
do, what you will do. I say this not in judgement but in
all seriousness. These are times that require every single solitary
person who is awake and aware to take action. In whatever is your
particular way, please take action. And, for all I know, you already
are. If this is so, I commend you. Let me know how I can support
you. For we must be together in our efforts for peace. We must
share with one another. It is the time for community, not going
it alone. Together we can change the course of history; alone,
we too easily fall into cynicism and despair. Here, take my hand.
Let me help you over the rough patches, and you do the same for
me. We cannot wait any longer. Now is the time."
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 15, 2003
Tomorrow afternoon Pat, Kim and I are off for Washington, DC. All going well, we'll spend the night in Pennsylvania and arrive in DC early afternoon on Friday. We're taking the Dayhouse station wagon so I will primarily be a passenger. Sounds good to me! After checking into the Holiday Inn on the Hill--three blocks from the Capitol--I hope to scoot over to the Code Pink vigil at the Peace Park across from the White House and visit with the women. Maybe we can even do a little singing. Saturday at 9:30 AM, we'll be meeting up with the Raging Grannies of Rochester, NY and our Raging Grannies Without Borders who came by bus. Our rendezvous spot is the corner of Constitution and 1st. The rally is scheduled to start at 11 AM at Constitution and 3rd on the west side of the Capitol. The Raging Grannies--at least 19 of us--will be walking around singing our songs to the crowds. After the rally--which looks like it might last three hours--we'll be marching to the Navy Ship Yards to serve as "weapons inspectors." If it's anything like October 26th, this will be an all-day affair. I can't wait!!! By the way, the rally and march will probably be televised live on CSPAN as they were on October 26th. Keep an eye out for a gaggle of Grannies in decorated hats and shawls, and singing up a storm ;-)
I do not intend to take
my laptop, so you won't be hearing from me--online, anyway--until
Monday. May your participation in this global day of protest be
filled with life and energy...and may our voices be HEARD!
FRIDAY, JANUARY 17, 2003
On The Way To Washington,
Friday, January 17, 2003
Liquid tears frozen on
rocky ledges cut by the highway's
rusty blade. Do tears drip like
icicles from our eyes or have we lost
the ability to cry?
Do we stare dry-eyed into
face of war and say it can't be
stopped, it is inevitable?
Have we lost the capacity for
horror, to feel in our cells the
tragic cost of war?
Do we sit before our TV
numbed to what is being said,
what is being planned? Is it
too late to wake up our sleeping
sensibilities and cry tears,
hot and heavy tears that can
The questions raised in this poem that I wrote as we drove through the hills of northern Maryland on Friday afternoon were answered a few hours later as I "happened upon"--they say there are no accidents in the scheme of things--Starhawk leading a Spiral Dance in a small park on 17th Street not far from the White House. I scooted over to the circle of perhaps 100 young and old women and men and asked to join. I was invited into the center of the circle where Starhawk and a community of drummers were preparing to begin the ritual under the bright white full moon. I was greeted with welcoming smiles and given two rattles to shake. Then Starhawk began to invoke the Goddess and to introduce the meaning of tonight's Spiral Dance. Her voice was so soft and our numbers so large that every phrase was repeated in unison by those closest to her, so that our sisters and brothers on the outer edges of the circle could hear what was being said. This communal intonement only increased the power of her message and helped each of us recognize our place as co-creators of magic. As Starhawk described it, our dance was dedicated to weaving the web of peace with justice. She asked those in the center of the circle to hold up the "webs" that had been created using fabric strips wound around and stretched across plastic hula hoops. The intention was for these webs to catch the powerful energy being generated by the dance. I picked up a web and held it high. The chant we were all to sing as the dancers danced was:
We are a circle, within
With no beginning and never endingÖ
Breath by breath, thread
Conjure justice, weave our webÖ
Well. All I can say is
that as the dancers spiralled around me on this frosty moonlit
night, the drums, the chanting, the collective energy spiralled
deep within my being and actually made me believe that peace was
possible. I will never forget the faces--the love shining forth
from the faces--of those who danced as I sat in the center of
the circle with the web of justice held high. When Starhawk re-entered
the center of the circle--she had been leading the dancers--the
chant grew ever louder and faster until finally it became a tone
shared on different keys by all the participants. Eventually we
moved into the silence. When I opened my eyes, Starhawk was looking
at me. Our eyes met, we smiled and a connection was forged.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 18, 2003
How does one put words to experiences that touch the deepest part of your being? How do I steer clear of sentimentality when it was my heart that marched the streets of Washington, DC on this cold sunny day, a day when a half a million people (or 300,000 or 200,000 or whatever number they want to come up with) came together from all across this country to say in one voice, NO WAR ON IRAQ!
I had attended the A.N.S.W.E.R. anti-war rally and march in Washington, DC on October 26 and had not been able to imagine ever seeing anything that would top that...but this did. Partly because this was not a beautiful sunny autumn day but rather the coldest day in Washington, DC since the year 2000. We awoke to temperatures of +11º F and it never got warmer than +24º F. But there was a bright sun shining, blue skies and, most importantly, no wind. And we all knew enough to come prepared.
My travel sisters, Pat and Kim, had wisely brought hand and boot warmers to share. These miracle-workers are small plastic packages filled with a combination of iron and other heat-generating substances that you put under your toes between your socks and your boots, and between two layers of gloves or mittens. They keep you warm for six hours, and that is exactly how long they worked for me. Of course I had several more hours of scooting around outside before we finally returned to the motel at 8:30 PM, but I never got too uncomfortable.
On October 26, I had been in town to visit my mother during what turned out to be her final illness. She had perked up a lot after I'd arrived on Tuesday, so I'd felt comfortable going off on Saturday to attend the rally and march in DC. I remember being absolutely delighted that things had worked out so I could be there. I had wanted to go but my busy schedule at home had put me off. Then Mom got sick and I cancelled out of everything and went anyway. Early that Saturday morning, I'd gotten on the Metro (subway) at Shady Grove near Gaithersburg, MD. When I got off the train near the site of the rally, I happened to meet Cynthia from Colorado and we quickly formed our own two-person affinity group. It was wonderful to share the day with her. But today was different--today I felt like I was part of a big family of loving sisters. And it wasn't simply the feeling of community that made it special; it was having a shared purpose, having a unique contribution to make to the greater whole. It was as though every piece of activism I'd ever done had been leading up to this moment, that this truly reflected who I am at my core...a Raging Granny!
The Raging Grannies who had driven and those who had taken the overnight charter buses from Rochester, NY and Detroit, MI were to meet at Constitution and 1st NW at 9:30 AM. Well, Kim and I met up with Elaine, her husband Ron, and Josie from Rochester, NY soon after 9:30 AM, but the bus Grannies didn't make it until 11 AM. So the four of us stood--I sat in my scooter--on the corner welcoming folks as they made their way to Constitution and 3rd NW where the rally was to be held. Many wonderful signs passed by carried by groups of folks from all over the United States, including Minnesota and even Alaska. We met and talked with a woman named Peace Walker who has been on a solitary walk for peace since last April. We saw a woman with an apron full of peace buttons. When I saw her later in the day, her apron was almost bare. We had a long conversation with a DC Metro police officer named TJ who was assigned to protect our corner in his patrol car. This young man from Kentucky surprised me by stating in a forthright manner that he was totally opposed to Bush's proposed war on Iraq, and that he wasn't the only one. He said that many of the DC Metro police officers were veterans and knew what war was like; they didn't want anything to do with it. He also told us how much he had liked and admired Senator Paul Wellstone who used to work out with them at the police gym. TJ was one of the most transformative agents I encountered all weekend.
Although the Rochester, NY Grannies were reluctant to start singing--they have an agreement that they will only sing when eight Grannies are in attendance--I talked them into calling it "practice" so we could do what we had come there to do...sing. Did we ever get wonderful responses from folks as they gathered around with big grins on their faces and sometimes sang along with us! One young man with a baby on his back and a mandolin in his hands even accompanied us for a couple of songs.
Now, I have to tell you right up front that my being a Raging Granny has definitely gotten in the way of my former commitment to being a "photo-journalist." There is no way I can sing and take pictures at the same time. Especially today. It had taken Kim and me a full ten minutes to put on my fleece gloves and the hand warmers under my Gore-tex mittens and nothing was going to make me take them off! So any photos I wanted would have to be taken by hands other than my own. I have Granny Kim, Pat's friend Bernadette and her daughter Josie, Vincent who climbed a tree at the rally and took pictures with my camera, and innumerable women and men whose names I do not know to thank for the photos I will share here.
When we saw our Raging Grannies Without Borders coming towards us from across the street, we were four happy Grannies! And within ten minutes, the Rochester, NY gaggle showed up too. There had been so many buses coming into town--900 at last count--that everyone was delayed. Now we had a goodly gaggle with 13 Rochester Grannies and 7 from Detroit. When we sang it took two pictures to get us all in--#1 and #2!
After practicing a few songs at our meeting place, we started making our way over towards the rally; it was now 11:30 AM. We stopped to sing on a grassy field before we got to the Mall, and attracted a large, enthusiastic audience. It was there that a woman whom I'd met on the Metro last night and had encouraged to come to today's rally/march, came up and said, "I just wanted you to know--I made it!" Here are Charlotte, Vicki, Josie, Kathy and I while we were temporarly between songs. We then moved on to the Mall. Was it ever crowded! I had literally to run interference with my scooter while calling out, "Make way for the Grannies!" to get us into any kind of position so we could hear the speeches. But before we had positioned ourselves so we could hear anything, we sang another set of songs at the back of the crowd. It was then that Dorothy Russell, the daughter of my friend Julie in the Bay Area, came running up and gave me a hug. She goes to boarding school in Philadephia and had been down for the October 26 rally, but we'd missed seeing one another then. I also ran into Jayne, the wonderful bodypainter from the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. She had come down on a bus from her home in New York City. It was amazing that we met again; we'd also seen one another on October 26. But this running into friends happened to me all day long. It got so the Grannies were laughing and saying, "Patricia knows everyone!"
I guess now is as good a time as any to talk about the many, many interviews we gave during the day, and the untold cameras--press, TV, documentary filmmakers' and personal--that were trained on us during this long day. The Raging Grannies are media magnets, it seems. We were interviewed and/or photographed by an Italian newspaper, NPR (National Public Radio), the Women's International News Service, the Buffalo News, the Washington Post, and many others. At one time I was surprised to see a microphone in front of my mouth as we marched along singing. But for me it wasn't the press or media attention that most delighted me; it was the smiles, laughter and cheers of our sister and brother peace marchers, especially the children and students. You could almost see their stories in their eyes, stories that so often include having parents or grandparents who do not understand or approve of their commitment to activism. It was as if seeing and hearing this group of gray-haired women who share their horror of war and are willing to get out on the streets and use hard-hitting song parodies to get their message across gave them the feeling of family understanding and approval they so richly deserve. Their faces are what will stay with me.
Even though we arrived at the rally pretty late, we still heard several speeches--among them, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Jessica Lange, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Detroit, MI), and former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. We were so far away that even when Vincent took this picture from up in the tree, you still can't see the stage. But the sound equipment was excellent because we could hear the speeches quite well. Actually, it surprised me that even though we were so far back, everyone around us was totally focused on what was being said and often cheered and chanted with the rest of the crowd. Don't forget, it was very cold, so standing for hours of speeches was not the easiest or most comfortable thing to do. But even though we couldn't see the stage, there was always plenty to look at with the incredible variety of signs around us. By the way, almost everyone carried a sign or a banner, many of them homemade.
I understand the march started at 1:30 PM, with the first group arriving at the Navy Yard, its destination, an hour later. We probably didn't start marching until sometime after 3 PM, and it was 5 PM before we completed the march, but lots happened during those two hours. First of all, there was a bottleneck at a place where there were no curb cuts for my scooter to navigate. The Grannies stayed with me and eventually we called on "our grandsons" around us to physically lift me and the scooter--230 lbs. total--over two curbs. Then one of our Grannies came to the end of her walking abilities and had to stop. A man happened to be pushing a cart with cardboard boxes piled high, and when our Grannies asked him, he graciously let Magi climb up on the boxes and get a ride! Magi, Kathy and one of the Rochester, NY Grannies had their own adventures after that, but all turned out well as far as I understand. When Magi had to stop, we all stopped. And while they were working out her transportation, the rest of us stood by the side of the road and sang. Lots of people stopped to listen. The warmth of their response was brighter than the sun. And even when we sang while walking--which we did a lot--the response from those around us was amazing. Everyone loves the Grannies!
Eventually we were the very last ones to be marching. The police on motorcycles were right behind us, red lights flashing. Occasionally they'd call out "Grannies, get up the sidewalk!", but we figured we had as much right to stay on the streets as everyone else, so we just kept on walking.
By the time we arrived at the Navy Yard, it was close to time for our Detroit, MI and Rochester, NY Grannies to meet their buses for the return trip home. Now there was a scene I wish I'd photographed! Along New Jersey Avenue all the way up to the Capitol a mile away was bus after bus after bus. And on the sidewalks were crowds of folks waiting to board their buses. Of course, the problem was that, with the crush of buses, most were unable to go to the exact location where they'd arranged to pick up their passengers, so folks were scurrying hither and yon trying to find their buses. But that didn't keep the young activists from turning it into a party with their drums and dancing. I do love these kids!
Kim and I walk/scooted in the street because there was no room on the crowded sidewalks. We really had to keep our eyes open to keep from being run over by the buses as they crawled past. Maybe that's why I didn't think to ask Kim to take a picture! After about a mile, we came to a Mexican restaurant--actually the same Mexican restaurant at which I'd had lunch in September when I did my solitary No War On Iraq vigil in front of the Senate Office Buildings--so we went in to get some dinner. By then it was 6 PM and we hadn't eaten since breakfast. There was still a half hour wait, so I went--gratefully, I might add--to the bathroom, called Ed on my cell phone, and watched some of the nightly news on the TV in the bar. When they showed pictures of the rally/march, folks started cheering. We didn't see it but one of the fellows later told us the Raging Grannies had showed up briefly. You see, everyone in the restaurant recognized us as Grannies because of our hats and shawls. It was fun to be called "Granny" all day; it felt like we were all part of one family.
I guess that's what I'll
remember when I think of this landmark January 18 Rally and March
for peace. For on this day, we were all members of one loving
family. No one was left out, not even George Bush. If he had chosen
to come speak to us--more importantly, to come listen to
us--he would have been welcome. I don't think many of us wants
an adversarial relationship with anyone, not Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld
or Ashcroft. We just want peace...peace grounded in true
SUNDAY, JANUARY 19, 2003
It is very late--actually early morning--and I am home again after an amazing weekend in Washington, DC. Tomorrow I'll share stories and photos of this most remarkable experience, but before I turn in, I'd like to show you two images of Saturday's mammoth anti-war rally on the Mall. I warn you, I kept these photos pretty large so they might be slow to download.
The first is a picture of us Raging Grannies from Rochester, NY and Detroit, MI singing a song on the street, one of many, many such songs that we sang during our seven hours together on that chilly day (high of +24º F). The second is a photo taken for me by a young man named Vincent who climbed a tree to get a better view of the crowds at the rally, crowds that were estimated by the organizers to number a half a million people!
And now to bed with dreams
of peace dancing in my head.
MONDAY, JANUARY 20, 2003
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.'S BIRTHDAY COMMEMORATED
What I have to show for
this day follows. I wrote my account of January 17 and January
18 in Washington, DC. Even though I spent most of the day glued
to my computer, that did not stop me from being deeply mindful
of Dr. King and his legacy, the legacy of non-violent peacemaking
and risk-taking truthtelling. May we not trivialize or sentimentalize
his life or his message.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 21, 2003
I returned home from Washington, DC late Sunday night to find a letter waiting for me from my brother Rabih Haddad. It's been a strange few months with both of us not receiving letters that the other had sent. Whether it was the fault of the Monroe County Jail or the US Postal Department, we do not know, but whatever the cause, it has been disturbing and a bit disorienting. I, for one, have found it hard to write when I didn't have any sense of what my brother was thinking and feeling. I had not heard from him since November 6, two days before my mother died. Sulaima had emailed in early January telling me that Rabih was worried because he hadn't heard from me in a long time. That's when I found out that two of his letters had never reached me. I had been feeling disappointed that I hadn't heard from him after my Mom died. I knew Sulaima was aware of her death, as were Rabih's brothers, because I had received deeply compassionate emails from all three of them, but I'd heard nothing from my brother Rabih. And it seemed that at least one of the letters I'd sent him over these months had not reached him either. I was beginning to wonder if maybe I was on someone's "list."
Well, his letter of January 14 made up for everything...more than made up for everything. First of all, it was long--seven sides of yellow legal paper handwritten in pencil. And what he said touched me in ways that I can't express in words. I want to share some of it here:
My dear sister Patricia,
I hope this letter finds you in the best of health and the highest of spirits. I know I haven't written in a while but I was waiting to hear from you about the condolence letter I had sent you back in mid-November upon hearing from Sulaima about the passing of your dear mother. I can't tell you how frustrated and disappointed I was when Sulaima told me that you hadn't received it. I put a chunk of my heart into that letter. I knew your heart would be broken so I sent you a piece of mine with which to mend yours!
After a paragraph in which he sent me good wishes on my annual journey to San Francisco--he didn't even know I was going to stay in Michigan this winter--he wrote the following about his imprisonment:
With the sunset of today, I've completed 13 months of captivity, ten of which I've spent in solitary confinement. This has given me a chance for reflection and contemplation. I have learned things about myself that I did not know before. I have attained a much higher standard of self discipline and self control than I've had before. I have come to know and understand different faces of humanity that would have been impossible in any other setting...
He then proceeds to share a series of far-reaching critical analyses of the criminal justice system, the 30 year-old "War on Drugs", and the more recent "War on Terrorism." His analyses are carefully formulated, objectively presented and thought-provoking, but I don't feel comfortable quoting him without his permission. However, later in the letter, he does give me permission to share a poem that he recently wrote. He prefaces it in this way:
In conclusion, I'm sending you something I wrote recently. I called it "Ode to Emmett Louis Till." Emmett was a 14 year-old boy who was lynched in Missippippi back in 1955. I was so moved by his story that I found myself pouring my emotions into words...
Ode to Emmett Louis Till
Come here children, gather
Come huddle together and be still
Listen with your hearts, don't make a sound
Listen to the epic of Emmett Louis Till
A giant of a boy at age
A mountain of a man when men were few
If freedom had a face that could be seen
Then Emmett would be its crimson hue
Beaten to a pulp by the
With savagery akin to the wildest beasts
No one can feel what Emmett had felt
So toast him not at your hypocrite feasts
They thought they'd killed
him by their deed
Later, they washed his blood away
Little did they know they'd sown the seed
And fertilized the soil they aimed to fray
His body lay dead, but
a movement was born
His blood was spilled to fuel its flare
Fragile were the limbs they thought they'd torn
Iron was the will they'd forged from despair
Emmett, your blood is
still gushing strong
Your bones are still broken each and every day
Many have striven to right the wrong
but the bigotry of some still thrives today
The embers lay smoldering
beneath the ash
While a storm is brewing out over the sea
The scoundrels, betrayed by a lightning flash
Shall stand exposed for everyone to see
All masks have fallen,
not one remains
What monstrous features have been revealed
Crosses and Bibles, blotted with blood stains
Of those "loved" to death in order to be "healed"
Those of us who "differ"
still tread your path
Emmett, freedom has turned elusive anew
The children of your slayers still wreak their wrath
On today's "sand niggers" and the Muslim few
They speak of peace as
they march to war
They've scorched the fields of Liberty's bloom
Hypocrites of a breed not known before
They are the children of the womb of doom!!
December 8, 2002
Monroe County Jail
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2003
The most unexpected outcome of last Saturday's anti-war demonstrations in the US and worldwide is happening here within my own heart: I am experiencing glimmerings of HOPE, hope that the people might indeed manage to stop, or at least slow down, President Bush's determination to attack Iraq. This is a new feeling for me, one I never expected to take up residence in this longtime activist's heart. But when I read the New York Times editorial, "A Stirring in the Nation", on January 20, and today's editorial in the same paper, "Lighting the Fuse on Iraq", I heard voices urging the President to listen to the people and slow down his heedless rush towards war. Coming from the New York Times, a traditional supporter of the Bush administration, this editorial position came as a surprise.
Finally, it seems that our cries for peace are being heard. Now, whether or not George W. Bush and his advisors are listening is another question, but if they're not, they are in for a rude shock when they go to war and no one cheers. Even a self-described "raving Republican" like the woman I'm getting to know at swimming is against this war. My new friend said both she and her husband do not think Bush's push for war is "prudent." My Republican husband Ed said tonight, "I am so mad at Bush I can't see straight!" When the President starts losing his rank-and-file party members, he's in BIG trouble.
I used to think that such opposition would quickly evaporate once "our men and women in uniform" were out there on the desert sands. That's what happened with the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The minute President Bush, Sr. started dropping bombs on Baghdad, all opposition died away and was replaced by the Stars and Stripes waving and yellow ribbons circling bare winter trees. But now I'm not so sure. A gut feeling against going to war--especially a pre-emptive attack with only one ally, Tony Blair of the UK--is spreading across this country day by day. It cuts across all segments of society--urban/rural/suburban, class, race, political party, age, religion, educational background, country of origin. As the January 20th New York Times editorial said, "These protests are the tip of a far broader sense of concern and lack of confidence in the path to war that seems to lie ahead." The big "I" word--Impeachment--is already being raised by progressive stalwarts like former Attorney General Ramsey Clark. I think the President had best do less talking and a lot more listening. The people are not behind him on this, and I'm beginning to think the people just might lead us out of what seemed inevitable only a week ago.
May it be so.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 23, 2003
It all finally caught up with me. The mammoth efforts of the four-day weekend, arriving home at 10:30 PM Sunday night after twelve hours on the road (counting a leisurely lunch in Cumberland, MD), spending over twelve hours on Monday preparing and writing up my online journal entries with pictures (to bed at 2 AM), on Tuesday spending the day with the kids at school and then working late into the night on the journal entry about Rabih (to bed again at 2 AM), lots of catch-up work at the computer yesterday and swimming thirty lengths of the pool last night. Today I let myself totally veg out. That's when I discovered how exhausted I am.
You know, I so rarely mention my disability that if new readers didn't see pictures of me on my scooter, they probably wouldn't even know about that part of my life. I don't focus on it too much myself, but the reality is that everything is hard for me nowadays. Putting on my shoes and socks can take fifteen minutes or more, just climbing the stairs in our house is an endurance feat that sometimes reminds me of my marathon-running days, even walking to the bathroom with my walker is often a race against time. What I'm saying is that nothing comes easily, so when I'm tired things just get harder.
The long and short of
it is that I'm going to try to cool it for a few days. It's at
times like this--times when I'm particularly tired--that I'm at
risk of falling and breaking something. May I listen to what my
dear, hardworking body is trying to tell me and respect its needs.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 24, 2003
SACRED EARTH AND SPACE PLOWSHARES III
ÝAt 7:30 am Sunday, October 6, 2002, remembering the anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, three women entered Minuteman III missile silo # N-8 in northern Colorado. Acting out Isaiah's prophesy, "they shall beat their swords into plowshares," Dominican sisters Carol Gilbert, Jackie Hudson and Ardeth Platte hammered on the concrete silo lid and the tracks that carry the lid to its firing position. Their disarmament action included cutting cables, spreading their own blood in the sign of the cross on the silo and the tracks, and cutting through the surrounding fence in three places. The women were inside the silo area for an hour, able to also complete a liturgy on top of the silo before they were ringed with humvees and military and police personnel with weapons leveled.
The sisters were dressed in mop-up suits used by toxic clean up crews, with Disarmament Specialists written on the front and CWIT (Citizen Weapons Inspection Team) in big letters across the back. They were arrested and are currently being held in a Colorado jail.
From the Baltimore Independent Media Center
There are those of us who do our work for peace by marching in freezing weather, or calling our senators and representatives, by writing letters to the editor, or organizing peace groups of one kind or another. Maybe we put an antiwar sign in our front yard, or pin an antiwar button to our coat, or speak openly about our opposition to war in conversations with persons who disagree with us. All these "pieces of the peace" are worthy and necessary. But there are those few who go beyond anything the rest of us could imagine, those who put their lives on the line--cross the line, actually--and perform acts of civil disobedience that invite arrest. For some, this takes the form of sitting in the middle of a street with members of their affinty group, arms locked, blocking the street as best they can. In these cases they might be pelted with tear gas, pepper spray, high-power water hoses, police batons, rubber bullets, beaten or kicked, dragged away, and/or thrown in jail. Sometimes, as has been happening lately at antiwar protests, the police might ignore their attempts to be arrested and just let them be. You never know exactly what will happen when you choose civil disobedience as your path to peace.
But there are three women who DID know what would happen when they chose their nonviolent actions for peace. Srs. Carol Gilbert, OP, Ardeth Platte, OP, and Jackie Hudson, OP, were well aware when they entered that missile silo in the Colorado desert on October 6, 2002, that they would be imprisoned for years. The latest word I have is that it could be up to 30 years!
Why do they do it? How could they dare to do it? And what good will it do for these three nuns to end their lives in prison this way? Will it change the course of world events? Do people even know they've done this action and are being held in a jail in Colorado?
I can't answer these questions. But when I think of Carol, Ardeth and Jackie, I think of Gandhi, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and countless other persons who have faced unknowable consequences of actions taken for the benefit of all. These are the heroes, the martyrs, the beacons of hope whose light shines far beyond their own time and place. Sisters Carol, Ardeth and Jackie have spent many years in jail for earlier nonviolent actions of resistance to the US production and use of nuclear weapons; this is their mission, their call, if you will. You can read about them on the Dominican Life web site. And if you want to do an important work for peace, you could write these women as they spend day after day, month after month, and year after year in jail. That is what I did today. Their address is:
Sr. Carol Gilbert, OP
Sr. Ardeth Platte, OP
Sr. Jackie Hudson, OP
P.O. Box 518
Georgetown, CO 80444
© 2002-03 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.