Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hallowed

It's an a.m. post as the day is full and ever so Halloweenish for me. I'm drinking some dye in preparation for a CT scan later this morning.
The CT scan isn't a new experience for me, but the Halloween scan is. And how appropriate, drinking the dye so the x-rays will be better able to see my insides. A 'better to see you, my dear' kind of day. Illumination.

Earlier this morning I walked past several lavishly decorated houses with skeletons hanging in the trees, moving ever so gently as the wind pushed by.
I thought for a brief moment that I should ask the radiologist for a copy of the scan to put on my front door. Ghoulish, I know, but so much more authentic than the plastic things hanging around doorsteps or blowing in the wind.
After my walk, I read Priti Robyn Ross' post on Facebook:
On this hallowed eve when some believe that I am communing with the angels, here on this sacred spot on this earth in Sedona, I feel so blessed...taking this healing time-out in my life to replenish my well. I am sending infinite love to you all on this eve where the veil is so thin.....

I love this day and eve, the time when it is said the spirit of the dead come alive to dance through and into All Saints' Day. Such a thin place, thin time.  The term 'thin places' is not new; one can find the concept in Celtic spirituality and other rites around the world. Mindi Burgoyne's one sentence definition says it best: Thin places are . . ."places where the veil between this world and the Otherworld is thin." 

Eric Weiner, writing in the NYT Travel section in March 2012, calls Thin Places 'ports in the storm of life.'  For me, despite the plastic costumes, large size Snickers bars and sugar and dye loaded cndy corn,   All Hallows' Eve has always been a magical, sacred thin time. I know, these days it's not culturally acceptable in some schools to celebrate the tradition of Halloween.
. Falloween is a term I've heard used by school administrators; Fall Harvest is another. I'm a bit amused by the Harvest celebration; perhaps in fifty years it will be a GMO celebration.

That's a long way of saying, I've got to get going this morning. Sending hallowed and sacred thoughts for all those on the east coast. Not much celebration there.

Watch those sugar highs tonight.

It's a thin time and space in Mexico, Brazil and others places around the world celebrating The Day of the Dead, a day when people visit with the souls of the dead.

 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

You have your heaven


From the man who brought us The Red Wheelbarrel

The Hurricane

The tree lay down

on the garage roof

and stretched, You

have your heaven,

it said, go to it.
 
     - William Carlos Williams
 
So few words, so powerful a message. "You have your heaven, . . .go to it."
So many narrow escapes. And no escape at all for some. Garrett and Jane, in Arlington VA, couldn't sleep all last night, fearful the big tree in front of the house was going to fall on them. When they heard the huge crack middle of the night, it took a while for them to realize it wasn't their house. Turned out to be the house across the street. Fire engines came, sought out the owners, and found surrounding people safe. Down the street, perched on the corner, a tree smashed the side of a house.
Wires will be down for days, power not to be had for more hours than one wants to count.
That's one story out of millions up and down the coast. We understand those stories, even when the endings are bad or sad.
But I'm still trying to understand what it means when the subways in NYC are shut down and Wall Street doesn't open. I know, of course, that subways, MTA's, etc. mean no transportation. But what does it mean that the subways are under water - and salt water at that? How is that water sucked up and out? What about all those jobs, memos to be written, meetings to be attended, data to be collected, reports generated, what about all those passive verb types of responsibilities? No power in the city; good chance there's no power to work from home. My guess is that most of it doesn't matter; most of it can wait. Don't have to dig very far to find some lessons in that scenario.
Wall Street is another story, I think. I don't know what happens when the people eager to make some dollars off a natural disaster can't buy clean-up companies. I don't know what happens when someone can't dump stock x or y, or trade away all that insurance company stock. You can tell from the previous sentence that I really don't know what happens when Wall Street closes for a couple of days.  When schools close for a couple of days, the administration just adds a couple of days to year's end. Can't do that with Wall Street.
And, if you are alive and even semi-political, someone has asked you what's going to happen to the election. The fear of FL chads hang over the heads of anyone who voted in 2000. Will there be a winner? I'm sure hoping there is. For those of you around for Hurricane Katrina, can't you just hear George Bush saying "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." FEMA then. Some job.
FEMA today? Looking good. Also looking good are the folks who believe we're in this together, the folks who don't believe the State stands alone.
We'll soon enough be back to the eye of the political storm, so this seems like a good time to breathe, reflect,  think good thoughts and help in whatever small ways we can.
 
 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Full moon rising


We don't worry much about the full moon and tides here in Colorado. Our woe is lack of water. But on the east coast today it's all about water and wind...and the mighty moon. There's something so primal, at least to me, in our battles with Mother Nature. She always wins. Her power doesn't go out; ours does. And that big, post-Harvest moon pulling and tugging at us with all her might.

Full moon and tides this morning; full moon and tides later this evening. We're fortunate out here on the plains; the only thing she's knocked out for us so far is the incessant political media blitzes. No more notes from the spin room; we're going to stick with the spinning winds for a couple of days.
For those of us safe and sound on the politically purple prairie lands, we are freed of the potential visit, the landing of a person of high political purpose into our area. Even the e-mail asks for $3 or more are down today.

That's not very comforting to people already without power, but it's something. To be fair, I guess, Mother Nature sent us some devastating fires this summer to wake us up, to alert us to her presence.
As ironies go, the politicos have found it quite disconcerting that neither Obama nor Romney has mentioned the environment much in this long, tedious campaign. Guess they both needed a weather man, or the Woman herself,  to tell them which way the wind blows.

Just a year ago today the east coast was being battered by a storm; just a year ago friends in CT were in the middle of a two-week power outage. A year ago Garrett and Jane were worried about the large tree next to their house crashing in on their roof.  Just a year ago, Colin and Emma, in West Hartford still thought they'd be out trick or treating for Halloween. Wrong. A year ago, Halloween was cancelled in West Hartford CT. And here we are again? Only bigger?

Is there some message we all missed, something Mother Nature has been trying to tell us for over a year? Something we didn't get, so she's back with a vengeance to tell us more, to scream at us? Don't think that's the way the world works - not a cause and effect or even a correlation. But it's got to be something, don't you think. Halloween or Day of the Dead? Old souls coming to dance with us, caught between their physical world and ours? Too romantic. Random. or not.
It's a wild world, and we're all a part of the swirl. Hearts open and heads up for all those caught in the storm. Where's the national Poet Laureate of Storms when we need one?
 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I've Been Wowed


I sepnt most of yesterday at opening day of the International Leadership Association's annual conference, held in Denver this year. Over one thousand people are attending the conference to talk about bridging the great divides in leadership, focusing on the mountains as metaphor.

The folks from afar are going to have a better chance seeing the metaphorical mountains than the physical ones. Hope the clouds disappear and a vision appears. Such a political time to be in Denver, with Romney blitzing  Red Rocks Tuesday, Obama filling the suddenly chilled City Park Wednesday afternoon. Traffic. Add a huge dose of rain. Snow throughout the night. Not sure how many visitors packed their hiking boots and snow gear for this trip.  The day consistes of  workshops, research presentations, individual papers, facilitated discussions, poster sessions, etc. Words, powerpoint and other visual presentations, group-sharing, engaged learning, sharing and so it goes. Then there are the breakfasts, luncheons, receptions where people do what we used to call 'mingling' but now call 'social networking.' It's a friendly group, perhaps because the members come from various business, social sciences and the humanities. Professors and consultants, doctoral students, entrepreneurs of all sorts. In a way, the ILA members represent a bridges crossing over all sorts of great divides.
Even with all the intriguing sessions available, I sure hope most of the attendees take a break and get into the mile high environment. Be sure to drink all that extra water people suggest. But don't drink it all indoors. Take a hike. Even if it's just to the 16th Street Mall. Get in a car and go touch a mountain.

Back to Leadership. I just read recently that a Leadership search on Google results in 439 million results.  Amazon.com lists over 68,000 titles. What is there to say? And if so many people are writing about leadership, who is actually out there in the trenches or methaphor mountaintop leading? Add the videos, dvd's, websites, and Youtube Leadership renderings, and we have a lot to learn. Or not.
 I have nothing against the marketplace, and certainly nothing against education. Spend more of my life than I care to admit being a student or a teacher. Lifelong Education - I'm a card-carrying believer.
Still, how much is enough? Here are a few titles of books I saw on display yesterday.
Dissent and the Failure of Leadership; Kantian Business Ethics, Lessons on Leadershp by Terror; Handbook of Intuition Research; Poor Leadership and Bad Governance; Cultural Mythology and Global Leadership. If you really want more titles, a list of the classic classics, go to Google or Amazon.  This is just a tasting.

Just a couple more words, as I have to go learn something instead of hugging up to my technology.
Leadership and the Arts, the session I had the good fortune to moderate, yesterday was one of the very best discussions I've heard about leadership. I've gone to the ILA Annual Conference for more than six years, so I've heard and seen a lot. Even did my share of presenting. But this was a highlight.
I'm going to re-post the names of the presenters so you can make sure you get to see, hear, do something - anything -  that Lawrence Argent, Matt Chasansky, Art Jones, Maruca Salazar or Chip Walton does. I'd put the passion of these fine citizen artists up against any five artists in the world.
Passion and the belief that art can bring us together, can change the world, can fuse past, present and future. I'm rarely wowed these days, but I promise these five and their works will wow you. These are leaders in action.



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Leadership

I bet you thought I was going to continue my thoughts on Lance Armstrong, or even worse, talk about leadership and last night's debate. No. Finished with all of that for now, and have submitted my ballot. Delivered.

But the rest of this week I'm going to be caught up in a great conference in Denver - The International Leadership Association's annual conference is in Denver this year. London last year, Montreal next.

It's been a joy being part of the Denver committee and working on the theme, Across the Great Divides: Cultures, Contexts and Complexities. It's been quite a year for Divides, so the city will be abuzz with contested ideas and provoking presentations.

I'm part of a group doing a presentation on Leadership and the Arts as a pre-conference tomorrow (Wednesday). As facilitator, I trust it's fine that I use this blog for marketing - just this once. Come to the whole conference (registration is still open and its downtown at the Hyatt. If you can't come to all of it, try to get yourself downtown tomorrow afternoon for the Arts presentation. I promise it will be illuminating. . . and entertaining. Promise.

Here's the description and the names of the presenters. I'm facilitating, but figure you already know more than necessary about me! Thanks. Hope to see you there. All about art.


   THE  INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP ASSOCIATION presents:

Leadership and the Arts

Preconference Experiential Workshop              Denver, CO

When: Wednesday, Oct 24th, 2012; 13:00 – 16:00
Where:
Hyatt
Price: $50 (includes beverage break)

Leadership and the Arts
Art is an irreplaceable way of understanding and expressing the world. There are some truths about life that can be expressed only as stories, or songs, or images. Art delights, instructs, consoles. It educates our emotions. - Dana Goia

The presenters in this workshop will discuss the leadership role of the arts in representing, reflecting upon and responding to the community—both local and international. The arts are part of the timeless and great cultural conversation that has always bridged divides across the sacred and the profane, traditions and rituals, contexts and complexities, time and space.

How can artists, teachers, curators and directors continue to leap across the great divides? What are the best practices available to preserve culture through the arts while moving forward to embrace generational changes and innovation? Who are the leaders and how shall they lead?

The presenters will discuss these questions from their multiple perspectives and engage in lively conversation with the participants.

Workshop Presenters

Lawrence Argent, Sculptor. Commissioned works include "I See what you mean," Denver Convention Center; "Your Move," University of Houston, Texas; "Leap," Sacramento Airport, CA, Vail, CO among many others. An international artist and speaker whose work has been discussed and reviewed in journals around the world, Lawrence is also Professor of Sculpture, University of Denver.

Matt Chasansky, Director of the Denver International Airport (DIA) Art & Culture Program. In 2010, CNN, the cable news network, named DIA's iconic 32-ft. blue bronco (Blucifer) by Luis Jimenez as one of the best examples of airport art in the nation. Matt is also a member of the Center for Visual Art Leadership Board. Prior to his position as Public Art Administrator, Matt was curator of the Aurora Museum Foundation.

Dr. Arthur Jones, Arthur Jones is currently Clinical Professor of Culture and Psychology and Associate Dean for Inclusive Excellence at the University of Denver’s Women’s College. He has had a longstanding interest in issues of diversity and inclusion. Much of his scholarly work has focused on African American music culture, including the interconnections between issues of culture, power and privilege. He is the Founder and Chair Emeritus of the University of Denver-based Spirituals Project, which works to preserve and revitalize the music and social justice teachings of the sacred folk songs created and first sung by enslaved African Americans. As an accomplished singer, he has also presented solo concert and lecture programs on spirituals throughout the United States.

Maruca Salazar, Executive Director of Museo De Las Americas in Denver. An exhibiting artist, Maruca's well-known work includes small installation boxes related to Mexican altars. She has also worked tirelessly to promote Chicana/o arts locally and internationally. In addition to being Arts Coordinator for Denver Public Schools, Maruca taught art in the public schools. Just last Thursday,  “Hilos,” an exhibit curated by Maruca opened at the Museo. ‘Hilos’ are the threads that connect the entire museum collection to the museum’s twenty years.

Chip Walton, Artistic Director, Curious Theatre. 5280 named Chip as the city's Best Theater Booster in 2010. His directing work has won more than fifty local and national awards. Chip is former president of the National New Play Network and continues to serve on the executive committee. Curious Theatre was in Cohort One of the Boettcher Foundation's Cultural Leadership Program, a program developed with National Arts Strategies. Chip has just finished directing the stunning, slam-bang four star play The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety.

 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lanced


Early morning promise: I'm not going to write about Lance Armstrong, because it's too easy. Who isn't writing about the man who was just stripped of his seven Tour de France medals and had his name deleted from the record books? Let's just pretend he never existed.

Afternoon: Taking my promise back. It's not that I feel lanced - a mere prick or piercing - by the Armstrong doping dilemma. It's bigger than lanced, it's a gouge.I can't help it. So call me lanced and gouged.

For the record, here are a couple of 'lanced' definitions from the Urban Dictionary:
 A. To win a competition through illegitimate methods, particularly in the French Alps.
   B.To jynx(sp) or put a hex on a sports team. Also to make fun of someone in a sarcastic way.
Quicker than one can look up a definition in a paper dictionary, we someone has updated the meaning on-line.

True, the man has done some good. Tremendous good. Who doesn't benefit from cancer research? Who doesn't benefit from exercise? Could even catch the guy a break for a few drug injections based on the bouts of chemo he battled.
And it's not completely his fault we made him a hero... not completely. Could have just stayed a celebrity if we all weren't so desperate for heroes. But he fed us. He followed Joseph Campbell's prototype. He went on a journey, did big and dangerous things, triumphed and came back. He nurtured our belief in him as the real thing, a hero for our times. That's all we wanted to know. We had ourselves a celebrity. No, cross that out. We went big time. We had ourselves a hero.

He cheated, he lied, but we thought that he loved us. So we didn't see the truth. Didn't hear it when we were told.That's the lancing, the prick in belief.

 But the gouge, the big hole? For me, it's the peer pressure scandal. Or pressure on those who wanted to be peers (aka being a bully). Tried by a jury of peers and we found them wanting.
But for Lance, it was:
Dope or be dropped; it's an initiation rite; we're in this together as a team.
Peer pressure (bullying) from the hero. What's a mere mortal to do?  Join the inner circle; become as close to a peer to the hero as possible.
The emperor took a long ride in his new clothes and everyone followed. And when, one by one, those mere mortals gave themselves up and suggested the emperor was naked, no-one believed them.
What's the lesson there? Peer pressure to be the best of the best.

Well, here's part of a Grade 5 lesson plan in Health from Webster Hill School in West Hartford CT
"Practice using problem-solving strategies in social situations, such as . . . resisting impulses to cheat, steal or lie; or dealing with peer pressure."

Kudos to the teachers and Community Relations police officers for working on these crucial objectives...crucial to community and a civil society. Very impressive.
But who is going to explain Lance Armstrong's bullying behavior? Who is going to explain the pressure the hero put on those people who wanted to be his peers? There's the gouge.




Friday, October 19, 2012

Tell It To the Judge


 Good news for Edith Windsor and all of us who want to see the Defense of Marriage Act deleted, buried, and just plain gone.

Yea, cheers for Edith Windsor, who married her partner Thea in 2007, having been together for 44 years. Boo, hiss the Federal law that made it impossible for Edith to claim a tax deduction on the estate left her when her spouse Thea died in 2009.

According to Federal Law and DOMA - the Defense of Marriage Act - the claim is available to surviving heterosexual partners, but not homosexual partners. So Edith Windsor paid the $363,000 estate tax. Had she been Thea Spyer's husband, Ed Windsor, a deduction would have applied immediately. Edith paid and filed a lawsuit. Redemption and joy came for Edith Windsor, 83, last night.

Judge Dennis Jacobs and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit yesterday rejected a huge portion of the Defense of Marriage Act. A huge shoutout to Judge Jacobs and the appeals court. Think SCOTUS might find the Windsor vs. United States on its docket next year.  NY Yankees might have lost this year, but the NY Second Circuit Appeals Court came out a big winner.

Some words on Judge Dennis Jacobs. Author is Robert Wright (my older son) who texted this message to me last night:

"I was a law clerk in New York when Dennis Jacobs was appointed as a federal judge. He was from private practice, and was considered to be quite conservative. They had a great tradition of letting the law clerks meet the new Judges over lunch. We were all raving liberals at the time and one of us actually had the temerity to ask him if he felt his background was suited for a position that had so much to do with individual rights and the Constitution etc. I recall quite clearly how he answered and basically admitted, he really did not know, but that he was going to make it his goal to be as fair and open minded as possible. He would regularly call us for advice on cases and always had an open ear. He just wrote the decision throwing out the DOMA Act, which will be heading to the Supreme Court. Amazing journey for Judge Jacobs."

Some of the best news I've heard in days.
 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Guest Blogger Kathryn



Today's posting is an e-mail my friend Kathryn Dudley sent last week. I never met Kathryn's mother, but had heard about her through Kathryn. The thoughtful description her mother's actions, her life as she lived it, pays deep homage in a rich, robust and loving way. The tribute gives voice to love, to life well-lived, a legacy handed down from mother to daughter for coming generations. And what a touching reminder of the potential power we all have to help shape one another's lives. Friends, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, co-workers, lovers - our actions make a difference. Please feel free to share this with others.
                               ---------------------------------------------------

Tribute to Elinor Smith Gerber, mother of Kathryn Dudley

Hello dear friends,
This morning I lost my Mom......Elinor Smith Gerber, after a long and robust life.  My sister Gail and I recently celebrated her 97th birthday with her at her home in Phoenix, Arizona.....where she had lived for 30 years, along with my Dad.  My sisters Becca and Gail and my brother Tim have all been with her in this last week or so of her life.

The legacy she left for me is so rich...and for that I am so fortunate and grateful.   If you ever thought I have good energy.....you should have seen her beat everyone at ping pong up at our Lodge in her early 90's!   If you thought I was crazy enough to try things at a mature age, you should've heard her play piano for church each Sunday until she was 90!   If I ever thought I could teach anyone something, you can't believe the hundreds of people she taught piano and choir and calligraphy through the years.   If you saw me have a sensitivity to people with special needs, you wouldn't believe her devotion to teaching blind and autistic kids piano.   If you thought I was creative, you should've been in the audience at her many operettas.  If you know me to have an acceptance for people of all colors, you should know that she took me to see the amazing soprano, Marion Anderson, in our little tiny town of Lexington, Nebraska and that the only people of color there were the custodians of our church camp and my babysitters, whom I loved.   And if you know me to support worthy causes, you would be glad in the heart to see her open her heart to vote, as a life-long Republican, for Barack Obama in 2008.

She gave me integrity, honesty, tenacity, a wonderful way of knowing how to be in this world, even without huge riches, but certainly with great education and optimism.   She was my example for serving others, but she set the bar high.  She left my siblings with a legacy of love and commitment for each other.
I love you, Mom, and wanted my friends to understand just how lucky I am to have been your daughter.   
Peace, love and understanding,
Kathryn

 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Unbound

"If you give me a dollar I won't vote for Romney" said the cardboard sign held by a scruffy, disheveled man on Josephine.

Gave the man a dollar. Must be worth at least a dollar to be taken from tight-lipped, hands gripping the steering wheel sitting in a traffic jam frame of mind and transported to a big smile, actual chuckle, and hand loosening state of being. Long sentence to explain a mood shift. Thanks for the sign.

Leaving me a dollar less to blow at Whole Foods, my thoughts turned to a friend's husband. She told me this summer that her husband never gives to any of the "do you want to give a dollar or your change to school x, cause y, xxx" at Whole Foods or any stores.

"Nope," she said. Infuriates him that someone wants him to donate money without receiving a tax deduction. What even makes someone have a thought like that, never mind listen to it? And how is it that I know someone who knows someone like that? There is a lot about taxes and money I don't know.  I'd trade the moments of small happiness for a tax deduction on my one-dollar bill any day.

Back to Romney. There is one thing I do know: I was in a binder. No, make that several binders. Think I spent a decade or so in "binders of women."

Yes, it was an achronistic Mad Men type of thing for Romney to say. Today they call them folders. As ironies go, it was a woman who spent lots of her political life in binders who showed some real class in yesterday's political world: Hillary Clinton, unbound.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Paranoia

"Paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep..."  Long ago lyrics from the Buffalo Springfield.
Back in the day of Vietnam, Kent State, all sorts of reasons to be paranoid.

I'm sensing some paranoia of a different sort these days. Maybe it's from watching too much Homeland, but I'm feeling it.

Oh, there are reasons.  In the Denver area a ten-year old girl was kidnapped and found dead and dismembered last weekend.  I walked a little later than usual yesterday morning. With at least four elementary schools within walking distance I passed clusters of kids and parents, and some children walking alone. It's a bright, sunshiney, safe feeling neighborhood. Or so it was. Of the several children I said hello to, only one looked at me and said hello back. Everyone else was heads down, avoiding the stranger on the street. Guess that's good news - children trained not to trust strangers, ever - no matter what. Necessary.

This morning I left the house earlier, with the sun not yet in rising mode. Took my usual path, passing by some alleys and parking areas in this upscale part of town. I'm not talking street alleys, these are nice, planned neighborhood alleys.

"Can you tell me how to get downtown?" says the voice of the young man walking out of the pristine garage area of the townhomes.

"Sure. Just go left and keep on walking,"  I say, with a morning smile on my face.

Less than a minute later I am in OMG mode. OMG, must be a robber, a killer, the killer -- how and why would some young man be out here in Lowry with a backpack early in the morning trying to figure out how to get downtown?  Should I call the police, alert the neighbors, text the world?

I calm down and review my craziness. It was simply a young person wanting to get downtown. Maybe he is visiting, maybe sleeping out here, maybe running away from home. Just a guy looking for directions. Get over it.

I finish my short walk as a helicopter comes into the area. It hovers just over the area where I had talked to the young man. Just sits up there, hovering. I remind myself that we are close to an air force base, we are close to an air and space museum. Planes hover, at times, in this area.

Too much Homeland,  overdose of media asking us to observe people closely, even at home or in the neighborhood. Anyone acting strangely? Could be the kidnapper/killer. Think I'll stay away from all media until it's both Debate and Yankees time. Then maybe there will be something that deserves a tad of paranoia.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Green Fields of the Mind



 Mid-October, season of Keats' mellow mists and fuitfulness and baseball playoffs. Feeling the mellow a bit early in the playoffs. Playoffs, not even championship days, and I hear Bart Giamatti calling me. Swirling, falling leaves Saturday morning in Denver;  swirling, falling Derek Jeter in the afternoon. I know it's not over until the fat lady (weight-challenged or whatever she may be called these days) sings, but I'm already off into the green fields of the mind.
Baseball and so much more. My favorite essay about life.

                                           "The Green Fields of the Mind "
It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops. Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone. Somehow, the summer seemed to slip by faster this time. Maybe it wasn't this summer, but all the summers that, in this my fortieth summer, slipped by so fast. There comes a time when every summer will have something of autumn about it. Whatever the reason, it seemed to me that I was investing more and more in baseball, making the game do more of the work that keeps time fat and slow and lazy. I was counting on the game's deep patterns, three strikes, three outs, three times three innings, and its deepest impulse, to go out and back, to leave and to return home, to set the order of the day and to organize the daylight. I wrote a few things this last summer, this summer that did not last, nothing grand but some things, and yet that work was just camouflage. The real activity was done with the radio--not the all-seeing, all-falsifying television--and was the playing of the game in the only place it will last, the enclosed green field of the mind. There, in that warm, bright place, what the old poet called Mutability does not so quickly come. But out here, on Sunday, October 2, where it rains all day, Dame Mutability never loses. She was in the crowd at Fenway yesterday, a gray day full of bluster and contradiction, when the Red Sox came up in the last of the ninth trailing Baltimore 8-5, while the Yankees, rain-delayed against Detroit, only needing to win one or have Boston lose one to win it all, sat in New York washing down cold cuts with beer and watching the Boston game. Boston had won two, the Yankees had lost two, and suddenly it seemed as if the whole season might go to the last day, or beyond, except here was Boston losing 8-5, while New York sat in its family room and put its feet up. Lynn, both ankles hurting now as they had in July, hits a single down the right-field line. The crowd stirs. It is on its feet. Hobson, third baseman, former Bear Bryant quarterback, strong, quiet, over 100 RBIs, goes for three breaking balls and is out. The goddess smiles and encourages her agent, a canny journeyman named Nelson Briles. Now comes a pinch hitter, Bernie Carbo, onetime Rookie of the Year, erratic, quick, a shade too handsome, so laid-back he is always, in his soul, stretched out in the tall grass, one arm under his head, watching the clouds and laughing; now he looks over some low stuff unworthy of him and then, uncoiling, sends one out, straight on a rising line, over the center-field wall, no cheap Fenway shot, but all of it, the physics as elegant as the arc the ball describes. New England is on its feet, roaring. The summer will not pass. Roaring, they recall the evening, late and cold, in 1975, the sixth game of the World Series, perhaps the greatest baseball game played in the last fifty years, when Carbo, loose and easy, had uncoiled to tie the game that Fisk would win. It is 8-7, one out, and school will never start, rain will never come, sun will warm the back of your neck forever. Now Bailey, picked up from the National League recently, big arms, heavy gut, experienced, new to the league and the club; he fouls off two and then, checking, tentative, a big man off balance, he pops a soft liner to the first baseman. It is suddenly darker and later, and the announcer doing the game coast to coast, a New Yorker who works for a New York television station, sounds relieved. His little world, well-lit, hot-combed, split-second-timed, had no capacity to absorb this much gritty, grainy, contrary reality. Cox swings a bat, stretches his long arms, bends his back, the rookie from Pawtucket who broke in two weeks earlier with a record six straight hits, the kid drafted ahead of Fred Lynn, rangy, smooth, cool. The count runs two and two, Briles is cagey, nothing too good, and Cox swings, the ball beginning toward the mound and then, in a jaunty, wayward dance, skipping past Briles, feinting to the right, skimming the last of the grass, finding the dirt, moving now like some small, purposeful marine creature negotiating the green deep, easily avoiding the jagged rock of second base, traveling steady and straight now out into the dark, silent recesses of center field. The aisles are jammed, the place is on its feet, the wrappers, the programs, the Coke cups and peanut shells, the doctrines of an afternoon; the anxieties, the things that have to be done tomorrow, the regrets about yesterday, the accumulation of a summer: all forgotten, while hope, the anchor, bites and takes hold where a moment before it seemed we would be swept out with the tide. Rice is up. Rice whom Aaron had said was the only one he'd seen with the ability to break his records. Rice the best clutch hitter on the club, with the best slugging percentage in the league. Rice, so quick and strong he once checked his swing halfway through and snapped the bat in two. Rice the Hammer of God sent to scourge the Yankees, the sound was overwhelming, fathers pounded their sons on the back, cars pulled off the road, households froze, New England exulted in its blessedness, and roared its thanks for all good things, for Rice and for a summer stretching halfway through October. Briles threw, Rice swung, and it was over. One pitch, a fly to center, and it stopped. Summer died in New England and like rain sliding off a roof, the crowd slipped out of Fenway, quickly, with only a steady murmur of concern for the drive ahead remaining of the roar. Mutability had turned the seasons and translated hope to memory once again. And, once again, she had used baseball, our best invention to stay change, to bring change on. That is why it breaks my heart, that game--not because in New York they could win because Boston lost; in that, there is a rough justice, and a reminder to the Yankees of how slight and fragile are the circumstances that exalt one group of human beings over another. It breaks my heart because it was meant to, because it was meant to foster in me again the illusion that there was something abiding, some pattern and some impulse that could come together to make a reality that would resist the corrosion; and because, after it had fostered again that most hungered-for illusion, the game was meant to stop, and betray precisely what it promised. Of course, there are those who learn after the first few times. They grow out of sports. And there are others who were born with the wisdom to know that nothing lasts. These are the truly tough among us, the ones who can live without illusion, or without even the hope of illusion. I am not that grown-up or up-to-date. I am a simpler creature, tied to more primitive patterns and cycles. I need to think something lasts forever, and it might as well be that state of being that is a game; it might as well be that, in a green field, in the sun. From A Great and Glorious Game: Baseball Writings of A. Bartlett Giamatti

Friday, October 12, 2012

What's Your Opinion?


Going to make this quick and set my head towards the weekend.
This head has been aswirl since 11:30 this morning. No, maybe since 7:00 last night when Joe Biden decided to be a facial/body contortionist. I'm a pretty loyal Democrat and have been for a long time, but this sort of Barack/Joe bi-polar debate - Ambien Adventurer and Steroid Superhero  - has me wondering. Not jumping ship, for sure. But wondering about the people who are writing scripts, coaching, staging. Saw The Three Musketeers at DCPA Wednesday night. Why isn't the person who directed the swordfights and body language directing the Dems' debates? I want an interview with the theater manager.

But that was just a little kink last night. This morning, I went for a hair cut and found myself in one of those big black chairs, hair wet and body wrapped in one of those hair stylist body protectors. The stylist asked if I wanted to talk about politics.
 I said, "Well, I am voting for Obama, but I'd like to hear your perspective on the election."  (Note to self: not always so good to look for diverse opinions). Off we went.

"Oh, that ring of Obama's? Not a wedding ring at all. If you look inside, there's an inscription in Arabic that says 'there is only one God and that God is Allah.'  Yep, he's a Moslem all right, but pretending not to be. Mitt Romney might be a Mormon, but he has American values."

"Wonder why Joe Biden said there was no problem with Iran last night? That's because Obama is a Moslem and wants the Middle East to rule us."

Those are bookend quotes. In the middle were abortion, health care, jobs, values, ethics, all the big words with all the wrong (to me) explanations. Sincere, passionate, 'researched.'

So head swirling, but still able to move into polite mode, I asked where she got her news. Oh - from her sister, a very smart and well-read person. Does her research. The stylist talking with me hadn't actually heard Joe Biden last night, but she had heard about his Iran comments and what they meant.

While she was talking, I suddenly visualized the day not quite two years ago when I decided to pamper myself with a pedicure. In a state of near-collapse from chemo, I wrapped a scarf on my bald head and went to a salon. Sitting in one of those big black chairs waiting for my feet to be brought into a state of relaxation, the question came:

"Do you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior?" 

"Hmm, not sure. He didn't save my hair." Seriously.
Never went back there again.

What is my problem? Do I look nice, look like I care, that I'm open to recruiting for whatever it is?
Is it the big black chair? Do I not read the signs or contexts of these places I choose? My head is still swirling. Going to take it, new haircut and all, out for a walk in the falling leaves. Keep your head on straight over the weekend. Enjoy.


 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day of the Girl


I don't usually post twice in a day, but I just wanted to post a couple of things today, things that matter. My being irritated by people who unwrap their cough drops slowly is just a tad too meaningless. I should delete the whole thing, but as those of you who write know well, it's hard to throw those words into a black hole.

But I'm still focused on Pakistan and Malala Yousafzai. This morning I e-mailed a religious sister associated with a school for the very poor in Pakistan. The school is temporarily closed down, and everyone filled with fear. I want to post the e-mail I received, but fear to do even that.
The ripple effect of the fear factor is startling. I fear to name the woman with whom I communicated, fear to name the school, the town...fear that I might cause someone harm by just sharing information.
How do we fight our own fear and step up? Who steps up for human rights around the world? Who can do anything to change the beliefs and actions taking place?
What's to be done?

Today, October 11, 2012 is the International Day of the Girl.

Her ‘Crime’ Was Loving Schools

She refused to back down, stepped up her campaign and even started a fund to help impoverished Pakistani girls get an education. So, on Tuesday, masked gunmen approached her school bus and asked for her by name. Then they shot her in the head and neck.
“Let this be a lesson,” a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said afterward. He added that if she survives, the Taliban would again try to kill her.
Surgeons have removed a bullet from Malala, and she remains unconscious in critical condition in a hospital in Peshawar. A close family friend, Fazal Moula Zahid, told me that doctors are hopeful that there has been no brain damage and that she will ultimately return to school.
“After recovery, she will continue to get an education,” Fazal said. “She will never, never drop out of school. She will go to the last.”
“Please thank all your people who are supporting us and who stand with us in this war,” he added. “You energize us.”
 
Day of the Girl on Thursday, and they remind us that the global struggle for gender equality is the paramount moral struggle of this century, equivalent to the campaigns against slavery in the 19th century and against totalitarianism in the 20th century.  (excerpt from Kristof NYT article today).

Sounds and some fury

A few dog walkers and I are the only unplugged people I have seen in my fairly early morning walks this week.
All - that means every one - the kids waiting for a school bus ae plugged in. They might be reading or texting, but those plugs are still in and the bodies move ever so smoothly to some music unknown to me. Each one to her own rhythm; each one in a world of his own. The runners are all plugged in; most dogs walkers are plugged in. I'm so unplugged in the early morning.

But it's the morning noise that I love more than any other sounds. I like the birds, the geese, landscapers, and trucks. I know, it's pretty Walt Whitman-ish, the 'I Hear America Singing' sort of thing, but the cacaphony of morning makes me feel alive.

When we lived in Bologna Italy, across from an infamous nightclub, we would be awakened by the 4:00 trash collectors and the recycling truck that recycled a bottle at a time. Endless it was. As soon as those noisemakers left, I'd drift off, only to be awakened about 6:00 by the streetcleaners. Trucks, brooms, cleaning. Then the voices of those on the streets. It was urban, funky, in a language I didn't much understand, but I loved it. And I love equally (well, maybe a bit more equally) the sound of the waves in the distance fills my soul with music.
Over the years I've spent several weeks in Costa Rica outside the city. It's morning in the tiny A-frame where I stay when the chickens and roosters begin talking and when the truckers, a couple of miles away, go into second and third gear up the hill. Every morning, I can hear the shift. Grinding it out. Wherever I go, morning noise signals life.

You might find my love of morning noise quite surprising if you see me during the day or at night in public. Left the theater early last night because of the three cough drops the woman next to me ever so slowly fingered out of her oversized knock-off Coach bag, and even more unslowly unwrapped. Took a couple of acts for her to pop those suckers into her mouth. Her sounds, my fury.
Watch me at the movie theater trying to find a seat removed from the popcorn stuffers. I can handle the real popcorn addicts because they've usually finished their $25 crackling bag before the movie begins. But those who chomp every mouthful slowly, over the length of the film, make me want to ask for my money or sanity back. And should they be the same people who chew the ice cubes in their $10 diet soda drink, I'm as likely to ask them to be quiet as I am to sigh heavily and make rude sounds.
Then there is the theatre matinee or late afternoon movie, discount price, where lots of seniors ask one another what a various character has said. Loudly. Everyone is loud because no-one can hear. I'll take the adolescents texting any day. Until my hearing goes, of course.

The option might be to wrap myself in a a sound-proof bubble when I go out to public places. But I love public places and spaces when the people in them behave as I wish.
So. What is there about morning noise that appeals to my soul and the daytime noise that sears my soul?
I think it is the sound of the world grinding alive that I love. Nothing easy, but wheels are turning, setting the way for something new, a fesh start.
The gearing up works for me; the daily soundbites in public places, food and chatter, irritate my ears, my sense of space. Another version of the world being too much with us.

Ironically, these thoughts all uncurled as I was thinking about the Vice Presidential debate tonight. All that sound, all that fury...and my bet? Not going to signify anything.
The good news: Yankees and Baltimore. Can watch a great baseball game, mute the sound on occasion, and still know what's going on. I get to control the sound and still figure things out.
Hope you hear the sounds you need to hear today.
 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Imagine


Today's the anniversary of John Lennon's death... That so-long ago Beatle who urged us all to give peace a chance? Way back.

Someone once told me that one way to not act old was to not talk about the '60's and '70's. "All that peace, love, anti-war and Woodstock stuff is like talking about the Revolutionary War. And the Civil Rights stuff, affirmative action, equality, women's movement is all old stuff too. Forget it. Might as well be talking about the Revolutionary War."

Well, appears as if the Supreme Court is still wrestling with that 'affirmative action stuff' as my fingers are pounding this out. Whose side are you on this time? As for that antiquated notion of 'equality' I'm just thinking about America's beloved moral and ethical bicycling hero, champion to the masses, unleveling the playing field as part of a massive drug use scheme.

England's Sarah Brightman appears to be leaving behind the phantom of the opera with her purchase of a ticket to fly into space on a Russian spaceship. Pretty revolutionary to me. Sounds a little  leaving on a jet plane-ish to me.

And that person was right about the anti-war stuff - there's so much war going on in so many places I'm not sure where to anti-war more? Feeling like Pakistan, but which segment of the Pakistani communities? Should we be for or against Turkey's involvement with Syria? and so it goes. Can't even pick just one war to focus on.

But back to John Lennon. Pop culture, I know. Not heroic in the Joseph Campbell, Odysseus, Gilgames sense. But...give him a break today. There has to be a reason Imagine caught our attention way back then....and even more now.

Maybe it's not so bad to act old once in a while.

 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Malala Yousafzai


What a difference twenty-four hours makes. Yesterday I/we were celebrating the energetic, courageous 90-year old woman in Denver CO, wearing red dancing shoes and sporting a bright star tattoo on her shoulder; today we are trying to understand how and why 14-year old Malala Yousafzai in the Swat Valley in Pakistan was taken off a bus and shot by a member of the Taliban.

True, the young woman was known as an advocate for the education of girls in Pakistan. She had become what some might call a poster child for the situation in the Swat Valley. Her school had been closed down by the Taliban when she was eleven. She cried that day, sad to give up her dream of becoming a doctor, giving up her dreams of a better world.
Her story is long, and complicated, especially for a fourteen year old.

 Somewhere in the world today 14-year old girls are getting a tattoo, taking an AP class, falling in love, having an abortion, playing soccer, practicing the flute or crying into her pillow about her parents' endless arguments. Somewhere there is a 14-year old who is homeless; somewhere else is one getting her fourth pair of UGGS. Somewhere a 14-year old doing a bulemic purge; another one skipping school; still another doing a science project and another running for office at her school.

In Swat Valley, Pakistan a 14-year old girl is alive, in spite of being intentionally shot in her head and neck. A girl whose dream is to be educated. A girl with a dream deferred.

I've added a short 2009 video from the NYT about about Malala Yousafzai. It's one of two videos. Tough, raw, disconcerting.

As Wordsworth reminded us, sometimes
The World is too much with us; late and soon.  Too much with us today.

http://video.nytimes.com/video/2009/10/10/world/1247465107008/a-schoolgirl-s-odyssey.html

Monday, October 8, 2012

Red Badges of Courage

 Saturday morning, walking into the monthly meeting of Denver's Pen Women,  I commented on the bright red shoes of the petite woman on the couch. "Nice red dancing shoes."

She said, "Oh, you know red is for courage."  Opening her shirt to reveal her left shoulder, she proudly showed me the red star tattoo just under the shoulder.  " I am a star - and I am courageous." Sat in the chair near her, and paid some attention to the meeting.

At the call for new business, the petite woman in the bright red dancing shoes and red star tattoos had an announcement:

"Next Saturday I am having my 90th (that's right - 90) birthday party from 2:00 to 4:00 at xxx ( a very classy downtown hotel). I hope you can all come. No presents - with one exception. I collect heart-shaped rocks. Not store-bought, but the real things. If you have or can find a heart-shaped stone, please bring it. I'd like to leave the party with a bag of stones."

"Should we rsvp?" someone asked.  "No, the hotel will figure it out if there are more people than I thought there might be. This is the third big party for me at this hotel, so all will be fine."

"Had another birthday party there also. My Marriage-Divorce Celebration was the best. I was married to one man for 23 years, but then I ran off with a traveling salesman. Stayed married to him for 24 years, but then I found out he had been cheating on me all the time. I stuck with him for a couple of years because we had fun and I wanted to have a 50th Marriage-Divorce Celebration.
Wanted to be able to say I had been married for 50 years. That was the best party."

If you see me shopping, know I am looking for red shoes or a glittery red star. If you notice me walking the streets this week, head down, you'll know I am searching for a heart-shaped stone. For a 90th Birthday Celebration.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Why Is This Happening to Us?


No, not the snow, nor the dreary, cold day.

Why Is This Happening to Us? was the title of a presentation given by David von Drehle at DU last night. David has been with Time Magazine since 2006, and if you still read those news mags, you might remember him as the author of the thoughtful article on Chief Justice John Roberts after the Healthcare decision. Or you might remember him as the writer assigned to write the Person of the Year article after Obama was elected in 2008.

Brief Bio:
He wrote for the Denver Post sports page when he was 17 (Youngest ever and probably youngest forever). Wrote for the Clarion at DU. Did lots of writing as a grad student at Oxford, where he decided he wasn't going to spend his life as an academician. Good move.

Went to Miami and wrote for the Herald. Got a man freed from death row with his reporting. Wrote an article about a hurricane that won a national prize for deadline writing, and the consensus is that it's the best hurricane article ever written about what it is like to be hammered by a hurricane.

Then to the Washington Post. Many a prize there, and was the man sent to research and write about the 2000 election debacle in FL. Deadlocked: Inside Story of America's Closest Election.

There's more, but I think you get my point: The man can think. And write. What else would you expect of a philosophy and English major, from a man whose early life goal was to write for Sports Illustrated?

He had asked that Roscoe introduce him at the talk, as they are still close friends - friendship forged in an undergraduate philosophy class. Thirty years ago. One of those If...Then... connections.

What's my point? Got some good history from a good thinker, a reminder that at the turn of the century in New York city there were 27 some odd newspapers. Anyone could set up shop, at least for a while. Have an opinion? Voice it.
Then radio. Then TV.
Most of us are from the age of homogenized news on three channels - NBC, CBS, ABC. All channels vying for the masses. Vying for the masses means taking a centrist point of view. We're products of the times when the media wanted to please us all.
Today, we're back to the old game, with an exponential explosion. Not 27 channels, but hundreds of channels looking for an audience. Can't win them all, so seek out one group and go for it. Niche Reporting. Niche Blogs, Niches dissected and room for more. There's no center, something Yeats told us long ago.
Hadn't thought of it that way. Perspective helps.

More, so much more - thought-provoking, riveting at times. Explanation of the history of the two-party system and its evolution; the emergence of bi-partisanship. Sound too wonky? I promise, it wasn't. Not at all.
All presented by a man whose job is to think. A man who thinks, talks, writes and lives minus soundbites and spin.

Just one more anecdote.   Audience Question Time:
"With so much bias in the media and so many spins out there why aren't we teaching understanding media to high school and college students? "       
Good question. David does the Pinter pause. Then responds:

"Better to take a course from Roscoe. Seriously. Take philosophy courses; learn how to think; learn if A and B really do lead to C. Take courses in Logic. Geometry. Syllogisms teach one to think. Learn over and over how to think." 

Other good questions; other brilliant answers. Some context, post-debate, on why all this is happening to us.  Wise words for the weekend.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lost in the Funhouse

After all my dithering, Fear of Missing Out won and we took ourselves to DebateFest at the University of Denver last night.

We left our place in Lowry a little after 4:00 in the afternoon, and breezed straight into underground parking at the Daniels School. True, we had been given a parking pass along with a VIP ticket to an event hosted by Daniels. BUT...Roscoe and I, between us, have done the round-trip to DU thousands of times. Seriously. All times of day and night. Neither of us has ever had such a smooth ride into campus.

No traffic jams, no delays, no long lines. I even checked my phone to see if there was a message about a bomb scare or some other disaster. Nothing. Seems that most people stayed out of the way.
So we had lots of time to listen to music, meet up with people, visit the various booths, and generally hang out.

A young woman at a booth advocating safe sex, had boxes of condoms on her table. She looked up at me and said, "You know, condoms are an important part of health education on a university campus." 
I chuckled and nodded.
What I really wanted to say was "Oh, I know very well. I was the vice provost when we made the decisions to distribute condoms in the residence halls." I could have told her the story of Sister Maria, then coordinator of the religious ministries,  stomping into my office, red-faced and lips so tightly pursed together that nothing could get through. Even worse was when her lips unpursed and her monologue began. But we got through the initial shock, and condoms prevailed.  Hadn't thought about the condom confrontation in a decade.
Figuring this young woman didn't need to know my life story. I just took a couple of condoms, smiled and walked on to the Jobs and Social Justice booth.

 Students and others set their blankets out early, marking their spots, and then engaging in games, entering the hot dog eating contest, scarfing free pizza, and eating Ben and Jerry's ice cream. All of that and great bands blasting music in the center of campus. True, people had their signs, had unique ways of demonstrating their positions, but not a nasty remark was to be heard.
Governor Hickenlooper spoke outside; Chris Matthews of Hardball broadcast his tv show live from the lawn; security was present, but in the background. Class act for the organizers, the security and police, very class act for all those who pulled this event off so smoothly.

For those of you fortunate to occasionally hang out on a college campus, you know how much energy and life just oozes in and out of classrooms, meeting spaces, the outdoors. So, add the community to this smashing outdoor fest, and you know a good time is being had by everyone. Mellow laughter, good conversation, hugging, laughing. No alcohol, seemingly no-one drunk or high, just good times at an important event. Even those not interested in politics knew this was the place to be.

After a while, we wandered into the event to which we were guests. Again, good times. Fair number of suits and ties here, but also a good number of young children, pulled along by their parents for this historic event. Good food - no, great food - with all those students from the Hospitality School setting the culinary stage. The building is smashing in design, and its architects were there.

Fun, fun, fun. High-minded, full of food and conversation, we walked up the stairs and on to the Joy Burns Plaza. Wind whipped across the plaza and the temperature had dropped a good 20 degrees from the time we had gone in the building.  Both candidates had arrived on campus. The winds had shifted, the air had become chillier.
Winds and chill.
Time to go home, to watch the debate in a safe place where I didn't have to keep my mouth shut.
Good thing. My candidate must have gotten lost in the funhouse, lost his way. As I watched and tried to listen I felt lost in the funhouse also. No laughs, no 'we're in this together.'
Earlier in the day my son Rob had put on Facebook, "Most important night of the year."  He was right after all, switched channels to watch the Yankees. Good times. Important night.

For the Romney fans at the debate and on campus, all indicators are that it was a big, fun house last night at DU.
And - regardless of one's political affiliations - cheers to DU for such a first-class job. Brava!

 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Going My Way?

I've never been known for my ability to give directions or follow directions. Correction - give or follow maps or how to get from one place to another directions (I can give out the other type of directions quite nicely).

Even in Denver, with those monumental mountains to the west, I hesitate to use NEWS directions.
"Go three blocks to the north, and then turn east " in English makes no more sense to me than it would in Aramaic. I'm confident saying or going west only when my route has said mountains staring at me, head on, eyeball to eyeball.
As some birds do flock together, most of my friends tend to be NEWS avoidant. We talk about the south - US, Italy, Southern Spain, and even the southwest. We prefer the grander, more global concept of north, east, south and west to the smaller, more provincial use of the term to get from one place to another in the city.

Hard to admit, but at least a few of us aren't really into using street names as reference points. There are certain routes I've taken from one place to another for years, but I don't know the side street names. Just know where they are. Can smell those streets coming (as my sense of smell isn't very refined I do spend a fair amount of time getting lost).

So, yes we do rely on visual references most of the time: the cemetary, REI, the church with the statue of Saint Sebastian, three blocks past the big Seven Eleven with all the people hanging around.
Sometimes we're a bit vague - just a little past Wash Park or down by the Sports Authority stadium on the right side of the street.

Most of the time we manage, and manage on our terms. Navigating in such a manner helps eliminate people asking for rides more than once, and even better, our methods tend to encourage others to offer to drive. Might be geographically impaired, but not dumb. Sometimes works to be directionally challenged, impaired, disabled, different or whatever the current term may be. We prefer to be called highly visual, with distinctive abilities to discern unique icons.

Here's a recent example of what happens when some of us pretend to be people who can give and follow directions:

Had made e-mail plans to meet my friend Ginia for coffee at a cafe I hadn't been to.
Read her e-mail quickly and put Rooster at 10:15 on my calendar.  Rooster on 10th and Logan.
Sunday, driving into the city, I asked Roscoe to take the turn on Logan, drive to 10th to see if it would be a good walk from Lowry.  We drove past Logan and 10th and there was nothing close to a coffeehouse there. No commerical buildings, other than apartments, in sight. Nothing.

Deciding not to text Ginia, I did a quick google on Monday and I had it figured out. Rooster and Moon at Bannock and 10th. It's close enough to the Acoma Theater that I can figure out how to get there and where to park.
I find it, and am crazy about it.The place is packed with all sorts of people talking or pounding away on computers, IPads and phones.  A young woman shouts out that she loves my yellow and orange colors (just call me pumpkin latte).
Ordered up a tea and sat outside. It's 10:30, fifteen minutes after our designated meeting time. I dial up Ginia and ask where she is. "I'm sitting here at the Roosterxxx cafe."
"No, you aren't," says I. "I'm here and you are not."
"Uh-ugh. Right here on 10th and Lincoln. The green house, across from Channel 4."

Enough said. I take my drink and drive my car up two and a half blocks to Lincoln and 10th.

I see a green house on my left, a block away. "Closer to 11th," I think, as if I were justifying myself to someone.
There she is, sitting outside the Roostercat Cafe. I explain the Logan text, and she says "Logan...Lincoln that's what I get for using street names instead of visuals." There you have it. That's our world and we're fine when we don't try to act like other people.

What are the chances of two Rooster cafes within three blocks of one another? We're in the city, not out where roosters are popular, where roosters signal it's time to get up and get moving. I order up another cup of tea. Two Rooster cafes within a couple of blocks. Guess that might actually be a time for us to use both street names and visuals.
By the way, I highly recommend Rooster and Moon and Roostercat. Different ambience in each place, but both warm, friendly and a place to hang out.

Tune in tomorrow to see if we go to DU for Debatefest today or avoid the traffic, the lines, the chaos and stay home. Right now it's just the kind of day to be on the University campus and the right month for political debates. Just the wrong time for massive traffic snarls.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

In the 'Hood

Two visions as I walked out the door:
 Plane above with large banner flying, "Mitt, worried about us now? The 47%."
Truck moving slowly down the street. Pro-Life. Blood-riddled painting of an alleged "baby"
post-abortion on long sides of the truck.

I've been in the Air and Space Museum (Wings Over the Rockies) twice. Don't remember it as being all that large. Certainly not large enough to hold the thousands of people lined up to hear Mitt Romney speak. Didn't know there were that many Republicans in Denver.  Huge lines of people with tickets, and another large line of people hoping to get a ticket. Free event and people walking in appear happy, satisfied.

Finally, I find a group of MoveOn.org, Women for Obama, Educators for Obama protestors, Disabled for Obama, LGTBI Group for Obama. And others. A presidential parade with blocks and blocks of police and security as far as the eye can see. Give the protestors credit as Romney enters into the drive close to where we're standing. It's all polite, well-intentioned, friendly.

One African-American Educator/Women for Obama shouts, "African-American, Latina, Disabled, Women for Obama." 

"What about the Unborn?"  A woman leaves her little group walking into the talk, pulls out her camera and says again "What About the Unborn?"

That's what this election is about? A crowd gathers. Small, silent, but watching.

"You want a baby? I'll have one and give it to you" is the Pro-Obama woman's answer.

"You have an unborn baby you don't want, I'll take the baby for you" whispers another.

The Advocates for the Unborn turn their cameras/videos off and walk away.

Jaw tight, face clenched, a man walks up and almost spits out, "Latinos for Obama? Does that include the Latinos killed by Obama's Fast and Furious operation?" I think he looks Latino, Hispanic, but what do I know from looking at anyone?  Most of all, he looks angry.

Several women reporters come up to observe. Turns out one is from Bosnia, the other from the Dominican Republic. They met this afternoon on the DU campus, doing a walk-through prior to the debate. I ask them if they are excited.

The both loved the campus, thought all the people at DU were so friendly, so helpful. They had no idea the school would be so big. They're making friends with other journalists from around the world and are overwhelmed by how exciting everything is. The reporter from Bosnia exclaims several times about the freedom of speech, the power of freedom of speech here, the openness of freedom of speech. Feels good to meet some international ambassadors for DU and for Colorado. Before the debate has begun, it's already sent a positive message to the world.

The two women interview a physically challenged woman with a 'Handicapped for Obama' sign. The woman is small, bent, and obviously tired. She is sitting on the grass wearily holding her sign. The tall transvestite standing by her side, as if protecting her from the crowd, has moved on. She is happy to have been interviewed. I've taken a photo of her during the interview and ask if I can share it on my blog, "Of course," she smiles.





Monday, October 1, 2012

Once Upon a Time


Sunday morning, corner of Syracuse and Sixth. Six-thirty a.m.  Turning my head east, the fat full harvest moon stares at me. Turn to the right, and slivers of yellow, pushing through the pink clouds wink at me. Sunrise. Standing in the middle of our world, or so it seems, the moon's magnet pulls on me and I head her way.
Monday morning, corner of Syracuse and Sixth. Six-thirty a.m. Turning my head east, a grey sky oversees the space; turn west, and it's all grey. Nothing pulls, so I head north. All grey.

How much will the dawning of the day affect my mood, my day? Don't know. Here in CO, we have so few of those all grey, it's hard to know. The majority of days call us to the sunny outdoors here, if only for a short walk or an after-work bike. And this morning might just be the work of nature's trickster; by noon the sun could be shining, and the breeze blowing, welcoming Obama and Romney to town.

Turns out, a Mitt Romney show will be playing right across the street from us tonight at the Air and Space Museum in Lowry.  Guess this is a dry-run, tuning up before the gala first debate at DU on Wednesday. The University is teeming with excitement, concerns, buzz and secret service. The Ritchie Center is closed for three days beforehand, making sure everything is in control.

We still haven't decided whether to go to Debatefest on Wednesday, watch the debate televised on campus.  It's that FOMO (fear of missing out) thing, that makes me ever think it would be worth the mad scramble to get on campus. Let's see if I can go rational, sit in the comfort of home, and watch Jim Lehrer direct two overly-prepared I-want-to-be-president heads.

Final tale for the day - it's going to be a long day, so I'll leave you with this. Late last October,  the East Coast, particularly CT and MA were shut down by a big storm. Wires down, pipes broken, mounds of snow and no school in many towns. No power for two weeks and more.  In West Hartford, CT Halloween was, at first, postponed. Then cancelled. Yep, the storm grinch that stole Halloween.

Saturday, talking to Emma, 10, who lives in West Hartford, I said, "Well, I'm sure you will have Halloween this year. It just can't get so cold and stormy so early this year. Someone should write a book about the year Halloween was cancelled."

Her comment: "Oh, when I grow up I am going to tell my kids about the year Halloween was cancelled. I'll tell them how kids weren't being nice to one another, some were not telling the truth, brothers and sisters were fighting. Because the kids wouldn't behave, Halloween was cancelled."

Curious about how tales, myths, legends get created? How and where that Tower of Babel story began, why the locust came, why Noah built his arc, the droughts appeared, the how and why of just about anything? The beauty of the mind, filling in the blanks, creating a story must be at the heart's core. Is the desire to develop a story as instinctive as the Monarch butterflies move south each fall? I couldn't tell her how profound her story was, how she and her story fit in with a long line of storytellers since time began - tellers of tales trying to explain the world to whomever would listen. I just savored the tale and promised to hold on to it.

Once upon a time....Once upon a time...