Wednesday, August 20, 2014

You Will Live Long Enough To Wear Me

I've been wanting to write lately and find myself drawing back from the keyboard.  I don't want to turn off my readers. I'll just apologize in advance for some things I've been carrying around on my chest. I'm going to make myself ill if I don't write it out.

There is so much going on in the world and little of the news is good. The events unfolding in Ferguson, MO are awful. For the first time, Amnesty International has sent human rights advocates to a U.S. location. There are riots and at least two dead now, with people and journalists being gassed and first amendment rights violated.  Schools are closed.

Last week, an environmentalist used the word "Fucked" to describe how much trouble we'll be in
“If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere.."

There were 20 earthquakes in Oklahoma today. We're heading for another dust bowl.

And Mork from Ork died.

A little girl, age 8, was tased in South Dakota.  Police say it was justified because she had a paring knife.

Water is becoming dangerously scarce. 

And the middle east is all up in crazy, dangerous arms.

Ten miles from here are wildfires that have burned over 12,000 acres. They're contained but won't be out until the heavier fall rains.

ISIS is dangerous, and we need to help people that they've cut off in a canyon and who ISIS are trying to starve out. And ISIS is beheading people. Find your own link on that one. I just can't.

Putin is making power plays and land grabs and I'm not sure if he is following the will of the people or if they want to join him and I'm not sure it's all black and white but I'm pretty sure he isn't so hot on human rights issues either.

Mostly I want to curl up in my bed and pull the covers over my head and wait for all of this to be over.  Maybe breathe into a paper bag for awhile.

I have rage fatigue. As someone who devotes her life to educating others and caring about issues of equity and social justice, I am exhausted. As a white person who would like to be a better ally, I'm out of ideas. I'm blue in the face from talking about white privilege to people who simply do not believe in their privilege and who think the people of Ferguson, and all of those other non-white people shot and killed or harassed or otherwise harmed by a system of oppression, should just "get over it". We shouldn't get over it.  We should deal with it, white people.

Anyway, I'm all worked up; verklempt, to borrow a yiddish word.

And that's just the stuff outside of my personal life.

So I need a moment, an interlude, to focus on something positive.  Human rights and human suffering matter. They matter a lot.  But I need to concentrate for a minute on my own mental health before I go on with the fight.  Which means one thing:

Gratutide list.

Just a list of 20 things I'm grateful for today. Hey, it's what I've got.

1. G. En toto. He makes an ordinary day awesome and the bad times bearable.
2. My old cat is still kicking. She's responded well to my adjustments to her medicine and is doing great.
3.  We have a roof over our heads and food in the fridge.
4. Canning.  I do love making jams and jellies.
5. The hot summer is almost over! Bring on the 80 degree days.
6. That means fall is coming.
7. Went to the doctor today. I'm going to live.
8. My asthma isn't terrible. Even with awful wildfires, I've still been able to breathe.
9. I get to walk to work
10. Lunch with G at least once a week.
11. I woke up yesterday. I was going to write more than that, but that'll do.
12.  Yesterday when I woke up, I had a cute little kitty all snuggled up with me with her head on top of my head.  Of course, today when I woke up, she'd turned around and repeated.
13. Air conditioning. We have a little window unit upstairs.
14. Books.  My book order is coming for my fall classes. I can't wait.
15. I was stuck in I-5 traffic around 4:15 today and a nice man let me merge ahead of him.
16. I gave a homeless lady a few dollars today and she called me "sister".  I nodded my head in agreement.
17. Sitting on the front porch and talking while a cool, lazy breeze plays with my hair.
18. Living in a town where it's safe to walk places alone.
19. Good friends to talk to. Old friends and new ones and friends I only know online. Some friends I'm even related to by blood.
20. I'll probably wake up tomorrow, and I probably won't get shot at, and I will probably have clean drinking water. And I will most likely have clean clothes to wear too.
21. Teachers in Ferguson are taking to the streets to help clean up. Community members are feeding the kids who normally get free and reduced lunches. After a night of looting, all seems quiet in Ferguson (as of ten minutes ago, anyway). And G was really nice and gave me over a thousand songs for my phone, so all the way to Seattle and back, I listened to the Rolling Stone's "You Can't Always Get What You Want".

Ok, that's more than 20. I feel better. I'm not letting any of that stuff go, mind you, but I do feel better.  I may have to do this tomorrow too.

I am reminded of a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, called "Arabic Coffee".  I find it comforting, the way she writes and how she makes something outside of my personal experience feel like home. There is comfort there, but also hope. 

Arabic Coffee
It was never too strong for us:
make it blacker, Papa,
thick in the bottom,
tell again how the years will gather
in small white cups,
how luck lives in a spot of grounds.
Leaning over the stove, he let it
boil to the top, and down again.
Two times. No sugar in his pot.
And the place where men and women
break off from one another
was not present in that room.
The hundred disappointments,
fire swallowing olive-wood beads
at the warehouse, and the dreams
tucked like pocket handkerchiefs
into each day, took their places
on the table, near the half-empty
dish of corn. And none was
more important than the others,
and all were guests. When
he carried the tray into the room,
high and balanced in his hands,
it was an offering to all of them,
stay, be seated, follow the talk
wherever it goes. The coffee was
the center of the flower.
Like clothes on a line saying
you will live long enough to wear me,
a motion of faith. There is this,
and there is more.

(from Anthology of Modern Palestinian Literature, Columbia University Press, 1992)

I'll leave you with that thought tonight... a motion of faith.  I like that.


  1. I share much of your frustration and angst.
    I wonder at why there is so much hatred in the world.

  2. That list makes me want to run for cover, too. So many people just trying to survive. We have so much. May we never forget to be grateful.