Friday, June 27, 2014

"With friends like these, well, who needs politicians?"

Some days (read:  most days) all I can think about is my tiny little world and all my stupid little problems, but my narcissistic and solipsistic proclivities are often just what I need to drive me straight into the heart of social issues like LGBTQ equality and reproductive health/rights.  Pity parties get boring quickly, and today is one of those days where some updates about the fight for social justice and equality are just what I needed to pick me up and pull me out of my own egoism.  Charlie used to talk about "ego death" often, and I think if I could give him anything with the life he made possible, it would be the gift of my own ego death...which is probably a gift I'll spend my whole life learning how to give.  Anyway, point is, I just wanted to share some of the interesting news stories I've read this morning with whomever actually still reads this blog anymore, if anyone, or maybe I'm still just talking to myself...whatever.

First, the Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional to stop abortion protesters from harassing women in what could arguably be one of the most emotionally vulnerable moments of their lives.  The Massachusetts law created a "buffer zone" around abortion clinics in which women and other people entering the clinic would be able to escape from the accusatory cries of anti-choice fanatics.  I understand SCOTUS was trying to protect free speech, but I was under the impression "hate speech" was not protected under "free speech."  Based on the history of violence at abortion clinics, especially in Massachusetts, I do not understand how SCOTUS honestly believed these protesters--excuse me, "petitioners"--simply "sought to have quiet conversations . . . about alternatives."

I find it ironic (read:  insulting and disgusting) how SCOTUS can wax on about the unconstitutionality of "blanket bans" while simultaneously blanket banning a law that was made with the sole intent to protect women and doctors as they enter abortion clinics.  Okay, maybe I can't get away with claiming some sort of solely pure intent for any type of legislation, but still, my point remains that SCOTUS proudly and unanimously struck down a law that protects women, reproductive health, and the freedom of choice.  I am not so blind as to not see the point the majority opinion makes about the importance of protecting free speech, but without free choice, I do not see how free speech can truly exist.  I lament the fact that the Constitution does not explicitly protect our right to be left alone or establish a right for freedom from harassment, but I suppose our entire government would be unconstitutional if that were the case.

I lived in Boston for five years, and I know I will not stand alone in saying Boston fanatics can be fucking psycho.  Look at what happens when the Red Sox win--riots everywhere...people destroyed...and that's a celebration!  Can we all take a second and consider how violent these same people have the capability of becoming when they are actually angry about something?  It's all good and well to protect Constitutional rights.  Of course that's important.  Possibly the only pride I have as an American rests in upholding the Constitution, but I also do not think we can read the Constitution out of the context of reality.  The Constitution does not exist in some sort of bubble, free from actual, human experience.  (Interestingly enough, I have made the same argument about the Bible many times, but that's for another day.)  I don't think I'm jumping to conclusions when I assume the Constitution was written to apply to American citizens in the real world, so instead of sitting around debating semantics, maybe it's time our judicial system stepped into reality and decided a law's constitutionality or lack thereof based on how it actually, as opposed to theoretically, affects people.

Okay, and I really thought my rant was finished until I just went to the bathroom and had another thought:  I have been watching "The Newsroom" a lot lately, and in a recent episode I saw, someone accused the lead anchor of only calling himself a Republican in order to gain enough credibility to criticize the Republican party without sounding like just another bitter liberal.  I thought that seemed like an incredibly frustrating possibility--someone parading around claiming to be of your political ideologies all the while criticizing everything about your political ideologies.  And I guess, without making any clear accusations because how could I ever actually know, I'd like to point out the frustration I've experienced in the media's emphasis on the fact that even the "liberal" Supreme Court justices joined in this majority opinion.  As much as we have seem to forgotten this, political labels do not exist independent of actions.  I can call myself a conservative until I'm blue in the face, but if I'm fighting for same-sex marriage and reproductive freedom while calling myself a conservative, that word means nothing.  Or, to quote Shakespeare, "that which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as [bigoted]."

Eek, I started this blog post with the intent to briefly comment on a bunch of different articles.  Instead I ranted about one for far too long, so here are some links to other articles of current interest for your reading pleasure:

GOP Sen. Susan Collins supports same-sex marriage

One year later, Kaplan reflects on victory against DOMA

Four same-sex couples join Puerto Rico marriage lawsuit

Susan Rice reaffirms U.S. commitment to LGBT rights abroad (although a splinter v. plank in the eye metaphor comes to mind)

And in case you're still there, here's a song that has come to mind:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

NaPoWriMo Day 3

Here's my charm poem from the NaPoWriMo Day 3 prompt:

A Charm against Love

Pluck the chin hairs from your heart,
collect the ash of modern art,
extract the pigment from her lips,
and grind it all to little bits.
Then steep the mixture, make a tea,
drink the poison, die with me.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Misunderstanding Mythology

I'm not doing very well at keeping up with my own late attempt to do two weeks later, I've finally finished Day 2's prompt, which was to write a poem about a myth that is neither Greek or Roman--

I learned about God and Santa Claus around the same time, and I would not be fooled.  I had it figured out—the North Pole just sounded like a really cold version of Heaven, and Santa Claus just sounded like God’s jolly ol’ best friend.  After all, if only God could be omniscient, how else would Santa know which children were good and which were bad?  No, I would not be fooled into believing in a second, omniscient man who lived up North and had magical powers.  The Bible made that clear—idolatry was a sin.  Our God is a jealous God, and I was not about to make Him compete with a fat, bearded man in red pajamas.  So on His right hand sat Jesus, the Son of Man, and on His left, sat Santa, the Ho Ho Holy Trinity’s sidekick.

I misunderstood childhood.

It took me far too long to figure out just how much I misunderstood, and once I saw the error in my thinking, I realized I knew absolutely nothing.  I successfully created blackout curtains for reality, and by the time I finally caught a glimpse of the light hiding behind the thick fabric, I could barely see past all the stories I had painted on the inside of the fort I built around whatever the truth might have been.  In college, I read a poem about all the things one man misunderstood, and I think I might have accidentally made that poem my mantra.  I misunderstood mythology, I misunderstood fairy tales, I misunderstood religion, I misunderstood love, and most of all, I misunderstood every word you’ve ever spoken to me. 

What is wrong with me from head to toe/That I misinterpret everything I hear?

I misunderstood sex, and I still repeatedly misunderstand my own sexuality.  I misunderstand “like” and “love,” sex and commitment, your smile and my butterflies, your eye contact and my delusions, your future and my past, friendship and loneliness.

What you are feeling for me I misunderstand totally; I think I misunderstand the very possibilities of feeling…

I wonder often if I still believe in Santa Claus deep down.  Childhood has proven much more difficult to let go of than I ever anticipated.  No matter how many times I tell myself I will never be a princess, I still cannot seem to stop looking for my knight in shining armor, and I don’t even want a knight.

I probably misunderstand misunderstanding itself.

My misunderstandings become more and more perilous the older I get—commitment, consequences, responsibility, danger, death—and with every horrific jolt of reality, fear creeps further out of the graveyard of my soul to wrap its bony fingers around every effort I make to pull back the curtains and grow the fuck up.  But I used to “Fear Nothing!” and despite all my confusion, it is clear to me how much I miss being brave.  The most confusing part of all is how many times people insist on the existence of the bravery I know I lack, and nothing scares me quite as much as when people quote my own advice back to me and the words sound so unfamiliar I cannot remember who I could have possibly when I said them, not to mention how far I have strayed from her.  So I think what I fear most is how much I have always misunderstood myself.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

NaPoWriMo Belated Day 1: "If"

So I was rather busy with law school during NaPoWriMo this year, but since I have some down time this summer, I decided I'd do it now because better late than never or something like that.  Anyway, I started today, and the prompt for day 1 involved going to Rob Livingston's Bibliomancy Oracle and writing a poem inspired by the quotation the oracle provided.  Here's the quotation I received:

Today, no matter if it rains,
It's time to follow the path into the forest.
"By the Same Author" - James Logenbach

I have tentatively titled the "poem" (or prose poem...whatever) that ensued, "If":

If I am a watering can, the gardener has taken the day off, and the earth does not thirst for my salty poison anyway.  If I am an ocean seeking revenge on an earth that devoured my faithful albatross, the earth is Coleridge's mariner crying his ancient rhyme.  If I am a Biblical wife running from a hedonistic life, the sky is a vengeful God withholding the water I need to melt my pillared soul and quell the hypnotic flames that engulf my past.

But "if" is the biggest two-letter word in the English language, and what if I no longer want to be an overused metaphor indulging in solipsistic pity?

If I am abundance personified, my life is the pain that makes my existence possible, and I would rather swim in blind gratitude for every unprecedented experience than drown in arbitrarily dichotomous qualifications of good and evil, right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, alive and dead.  If I am the road not taken but just as fair, the world is a high school English class forever destined to misinterpret the frost that glistens in the winter of my snow globe memories.  If I am a mirage of a lake in the desert, the earth is a thirsty traveler, and I promise not to disappoint.  I promise to be more than a mere hallucination.  I promise to fill the dunes of sleeping souls with so much water the world can finally wipe the corners of its eyes clean and gaze upon the rainforests that grew atop my cheeks when I was too busy flipping hourglasses to notice.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Feature Blog Post: Bloodless Murders, Homo Sacer, Agamben, and Violence Against Women

A friend shared her most recent blog post with me yesterday, and it completely blew me away.  I need each and every one of you to read this ASAP.  She is so brilliant, and I have no words to describe the beauty of her mind.  It's a post about her thoughts on Giorgio Agamben's "Homo Sacer:  Sovereign Power and Bare Life."  The post is called "Bloodless Murders."  Here's a little teaser:

"Bare life, in this way is the exception that never was. The laws of the sovereign are before, beyond and behind you, even when they weren’t. Even when your city was a pile of scree on the Palatine hill. The law is fortified, it is sustained by what preceded the city and by what now stalks the woods, the encroaching woods beyond the gates..."

Ok go read it.  Now.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Fall, or Where is My Wonderland?: An endlessly futile search for rock bottom.

I meditate with my palms facedown because the rest of my day I hold my hands out, palms face-up, waiting for the inevitable pile-up of all the burdens no one else seems to want to carry.  But after a while, my hands get full and my arms get tired, and when I sit in silence and listen to the vibrations of the strings around my body, I have to place my palms on my thighs and will the world’s burdens through my legs and into the earth beneath me.  A woman gave me some grounding stones once, and when I held those between my hands and my thighs, I could feel the roots that had been swirling around inside my stomach all these years shoot into the earth and steady my feet for the first time ever.  Now, when I hold those burdens between my palms and my thighs, I can feel each one travel into my skin and latch onto those roots and slide into the earth like a fireman sliding down the pole to rescue someone from a burning building.

But who saves the fireman when the station burns down?  Because I’m starting to feel my legs shake again, and I’m worried I might crumble beneath all the weight of the people I love so much.  I want to be a rock, but even rocks need the ground beneath them to stop them from falling into the molten core at the center of the earth.  And I don’t mind holding everyone else’s burdens, but I seem to have lost sight of the ground, and I’m afraid if I keep falling, I’ll end up in hell, or maybe on the opposite side of the earth, hanging upside down from my feet, like Alice tumbling through the rabbit hole.  But no matter how much I search, I can’t find my wonderland, and I’m starting to question its existence.

He used to be my ground, and he always used to say, “I just keep waiting for the ground to slip out from under us because all of this feels too good to be true.”

I always told him to stop waiting because if it’s supposed to slip out, it will, and there’s nothing we can do about it either way so why spend your time waiting and worrying about something we can’t control.  I think in my head I didn’t want to believe it would happen, but it did, and all of his worrying did us no good.  It didn’t even prepare him for what was to come because after the proverbial ground shook and collapsed, he was gone, and I was left to pick up what was left of myself and carry it away in search of new ground. 

I haven’t found it yet.

But I’m hoping if I keep meditating everyone’s burdens into my legs and down my roots, I’ll eventually find the most fertile soil the world has to offer.  Then I’ll sink my feet so deep into the earth my toes will touch China and my head will touch heaven and I’ll finally be able to stand on my own and my arms will stretch to the sky like branches and the only things my palms will hold will be rain and dew and caterpillars molting into butterflies. 

Maybe then I’ll get a break, but hippies lean on trees under the guise of hugs, and when my ex used to hug me, she’d hold me so tight and throw so much of her body on my two feet I’d have to take a few steps back to steady myself beneath the weight of us.  I always wondered what would happen if I didn’t take those few steps back, if I just let her fall, but the truth is, if I didn’t hold her up, I’d be beneath her, breaking her fall, hitting the ground before her, softening her blow by absorbing the impact with this doomed cage of flesh and bones and blood and everything else, wearing the bruises like a sign for the world to see that no matter who falls, I’ll be the one who gets hurt.

You know when you're falling in a dream and you always wake up before you hit the ground?  Maybe the ground is just an illusion, and our subconscious knows this so the only way to stop falling is to wake back into the illusion of reality because if we didn't, we'd fall so deep into our minds we might not like what we see.  And maybe that's why I can't stop falling--I can't stop trying to explore the depths of my mind and the collective conscious of humanity, and I'll never get deep enough if I wake myself to stop the fall.  I guess what I'm saying is, if life isn't about reaching the destination but enjoying the journey, maybe my life isn't about hitting the bottom but exploring the fall.

Mama Owl

Thanks to my mom, I've been tuned into this Live Owl Cam on for weeks, and in the process, I've become utterly obsessed with this mama owl and her owlets.  The other night, I had a really strange dream about hanging out with mama owl, and in the dream she told me, "I should write a book about being a mother owl."  I woke up and told my mom the dream, and she said, "Don't forget to write a prose poem about it!"'s are some pics I took from the live cam and my very first draft draft draft of my prose poem/short story/purple prose about mama owl.

Life as a mama owl isn't all fun and games, you know.  Sure, my babies are cute as a button...maybe even cuter...but have you seen the hawk that lurks outside the nest, watching my comings and goings, taking notes like a goddamned detective, waiting to pounce on my unsuspecting babies?  Even though papa owl guards the nest every time I leave to hunt for food, I can't help wondering when I'm gone if I'll return to all three of my babies waiting in my nest with beaks open wide and eyes squinting in the sun...or maybe just two, or one, or none.

And one day, they will be gone, but if I behave the way nature instructs me (and do I have any other choice?), and if papa owl keeps the hawk at bay, they'll leave the nest for all the right reasons.  They'll leave the nest because they've finally learned to take that ultimate leap of faith and spread their wings and fly.  Those are the metaphors humans so often use when referring to their coming of age process, but humans will never know what it really means to spread your feathers into wings for the first time and leap into the air without a safety net, hoping you won't fall, hoping you'll fly, but never knowing for sure until you try.  But humans fall and get up and fall and get up more times than a simple owl can count, but if one of my baby owls tries to fly too early and falls, there is no getting up because the sky is not the limit as far as birds are concerned...but the ground is.  And no human could grasp how far the ground really is from the sky.  No human could grasp how far birds really fall when our wings fail, and we drop from the clouds.  No human could grasp how unforgiving the ground really is to a bird plummeting to its inevitable death.

But for now, my babies just wiggle and squeak and sleep and eat, and I wish I had another mama in my nest to keep me warm.  Because it wasn't that long ago that I was a baby owl, nestled beneath my mama's warm feathers, or cuddled up with my siblings, squeaking and wiggling and waiting for food without a single care in the world and no knowledge of the dangers that awaited me outside my little nest--my whole, tiny world.

And humans have so much more time to grow up, to grasp the concept that the world holds dangers at every corner, to learn how to protect themselves from predators, especially considering they really have none.  But we are surrounded by predators--hawks, eagles, humans...--and we only have but a few short weeks to fully grow up and grasp the concept of our mortality.  Maybe that's why our brains are so small.  Maybe if our brains were larger, they'd explode with fear from all the danger we face on a daily basis.  But I reject the human concept of a "bird brain."  We are smarter than they think.  Isn't phrenology an antiquated concept by now, anyway?  Haven't enough scientists disproved the connection between brain size and intelligence to prove that birds, no matter how small our brains may be, are still of a heightened intelligence?  Maybe humans are the "bird brains" because they research and talk and think and write but never seem to listen, never seem to change, never seem to grow or evolve or learn.  Maybe having a bigger brain actually means lesser intelligence.  But I won't go that far because I am only a simple owl; I can only speculate; and I wouldn't dare stoop to the level of assuming a species' intelligence based on brain size.