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Archive for July, 2007

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Homage to great readers!

Friday, July 20th, 2007

I just finished reading, with much delight, Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s La Sombra del Viento, in its English translation as The Shadow of the Wind. It’s a novel about a novelist, rival book sellers, crooked publishers, a mysterious place called The Cemetery of Forgotten Books (which is where all the books I wrote must have ended up), and a vile hospice run by a some shady nuns called The Ladies of the Final Ordeal. Yes, it’s funny. It’s also Gothic, frightening, bawdy, heart-breaking, politically astute, and generous. [read on]

The causes of terror

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

On Tuesday this week, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that he had a “gut feeling” that the U.S. is in danger of another terrorist attack soon. Not practical evidence. Not “intelligence.” A “gut feeling.” That’s America. We trust our gut; we only need “intelligence” when we have to prove something; and if we don’t have the “intelligence” we need, we fabricate it or go back to our gut feelings. The one thing that has helped the Bush administration most is September 11. [read on]

This miracle!

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

Each day I see a little more clearly what a miracle it is to be single, responsible to no one but myself, still relatively healthy and as sane as I’ve ever been, and about to live in some beautiful new place where the necessity to earn a living and provide for other people no longer dominates my life. Scales fall from my eyes. I want to move into a new landscape and touch it, smell it, roll in it, squish it between my fingers, chew on it, drench myself in it, know all its seasons and moods and colors, know it well enough to adore it: I want to move in and grow roots in it and make something, maybe something with my hands, that doesn’t have to be successful, doesn’t have to please anyone, or sell, or meet anyone’s standards but mine. If that is possible, life is about to become true in a way I haven’t experienced since I was four. For the first time, I see how dishonest the necessity to earn money has made me, how habitual that dishonesty has become. But I also see that it is possible to drop dishonest habits and come home to a home that is not a place but a way of being. [read on]

Letting go of all those photographs…

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

I’ve spent the last couple of days sorting through my life in photographs, from birth to the present moment, preparing to let go of yet another big box of artifacts. An online photo processing center called Snapfish is offering 30% off what they call “memory books.” That spurred me into a new phase of my continuing effort to lighten the weight of what I haul through life with me. [read on]

Friday the 13th, Boogie on down

Friday, July 13th, 2007

Ah, beautiful. I have now been in my new home for a whole week, and it is feeling less “new.” It is only 82 degrees F in Houston at 9:30 in the morning, so I have not yet turned on the air conditioner. The windows are open, and I hear the rustle of oak leaves and the whish of pine needles. Another good friend has said she, too, is hoping to retire in Portland. For the moment I am not reporting for work, not grading papers, enjoying myself in a “constant state of enquiry and mild excitement,” as Stephen says to describe his state of mind when he’s painting. Literally and metaphorically, I’m dancing a kind of boogie of joy to be alive and still actively creating my life. Oh yes! [read on]

Decisions, decisions

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

I whoop with pleasure, reading the travel blogs of thirty-somethings out exploring the world alone (see My Links on the right sidebar), and sometimes I feel a little weird going on with this blog when, until July 25, my travels are interior. That is, I am nattering and figuring, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing lists of figures till I feel like I’m nothing but a jumble of numbers myself. Nobody ever told me that “retirement” involves making a HEAP of really BIG decisions about things (like money) I know nothing in the world about. I might also add that this process is gawdawful boring and therefore I am not (what a relief) going to chronicle it here. But that explains why I’ve been quiet the last few days. I’ve been doing THAT. What I can blog about, for those who want to know, is the fact that Manko and Kendra finally got paid; and the more I learn about Portland, Oregon, the better it seems. [read on]

Playing house, Brokeheifers 2

Monday, July 9th, 2007

I love my new apartment! After 41 years of living in places with various constellations of other people I was supporting, I’m now living in a doll house, or a cradle in the tree tops (oak to the left, pine to the right, and their boughs intertwine right in front of my balcony). I love the simplicity (I can see everything at a glance), the beauty (those freshly-painted walls, my last few collected things from all over the world), the grace of it–because to me, simplicity is grace. This place isn’t quite as small as the one-room efficiency-with-bathroom-in-the-hall where I lived in Greenwich Village in 1971, but it’s close. Basho is settling in, chattering his teeth at the birds and squirrels in the two trees. So that’s the good news. Manko and Kendra, on the other hand, who have been selling Kirby Vacuum Cleaners 12 hours a day, six days a week since May 25, have still not been paid the promised $1950 a month guarantee due at the end of their first month of work. [read on]

Courage and Zen

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

One of my favorite teachers is the Rev. Bill Clark, who used to be the minister at the UU Congregation here. Thanks to Alicia for sending me this link (accessible to those who have QuickTime and can listen to MP3 downloads) to a wonderful sermon of a little less than half an hour in length, on the subject of courage. If you don’t have the half hour or the technology to listen to it, here’s the part I love best: [read on]

Freedom to walk through some doors

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

Alan Johnston is free, and his words move me. In his press conference he says, “Maybe you have to have been a prisoner of some kind for some time to know how good it is to be able to do the most basic, basic things that freedom allows–like to get a haircut, to drink what you want, to walk through some doors, to speak to people that you love…” I think of the prisoners I love, the men who edit The Midnight Special (next edition coming out as soon as we get it copied and mailed). “To walk through some doors…” after years of sliding steel, banging steel, metal bars, steel grids, handcuffs, chains, and triple-thick plexiglass windows, just the wonder of being able to walk through some doors. Freedom. I think about the doors in free people’s lives, doors both literal and metaphorical. [read on]

Guarding the stories

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

I am so grateful for National Public Radio. After the inanities of television, even television news, even so-called “Public Television,” the depth of National Public Radio is a great relief. I often hear a snatch of something as I’m driving, and then I come home, go to the web site, and read what I heard, or listen to it again. This time it’s a series on War and Literature, and a book by Aminatta Forna, a woman from Sierra Leone. Her most recent book is called Ancestor Stones. This piece of it brought tears to my eyes: [read on]