Hello, Universe

I’ve been struggling  and I know I’m not alone. We in the United States have been told in very clear terms that we are on our own. Our government serves the wealthy and powerful, and that’s it. We the People get crumbs while the elites party on.

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

Mental health is a huge issue for many, many people right now. Life’s always been a tough row to hoe, but this pandemic has upped the ante. I’m fortunate in that I have my writing. The middle-grade novel I’ve worked on for the past eight months has been my lifeline. I am very grateful for this project. However, if all goes according to plan, I’ll be sending the manuscript to my agent by the end of the month. And then what? Each time I think of COVID minus a writing project, my anxiety surges.

So here’s my official statement to the universe: Hellooo, I am open to new story ideas!

 

Thankful Thursday: Sunrise Movement

Today I’m (again) exceedingly grateful for Sunrise Movement. These young people are  fighting with moral clarity, passion, and a fierce determination.  They endorsed Green New Deal candidates across the country and played a key role in Jamaal Bowman’s victory in New York on Tuesday and what is looking like a victory for Charles Booker in Kentucky. Incredible!

And next up is Colorado’s U.S. Senate primary on June 30th. Sunrise endorsed Andrew Romanoff and I can tell you Sunrise Colorado is on overdrive. Phonebanking, flyering, etc. On Monday, we were in front of Hickenlooper’s house and the crew got me so fired up that I shouted myself hoarse and clapped a big ol’ purple bruise in my palm.

 

Here are some of my Sunrise cohorts in the streets. June 2020.

The tides are turning and the young aren’t going to settle for entrenched, corporate politicians. Change is coming!  So, so grateful for Sunrise Movement! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Thankful Thursday: hoopla edition

This morning I woke planning to run on the trails. Then I looked out the window and saw tree branches bouncing in the wind. Instead, I opted to hoop inside.

Hooping with my niece D in Ohio. August 15, 2019.

I haven’t hoop-danced in quite a while. I’ve attempted it a few times over the past months, but couldn’t summon enough oomph. This whole pandemic situation and the blatant desertion of working people by the political elite of both parties is exhausting. And infuriating, rage-inducing, horrific, etc. And did I mention exhausting? No dancing for this one.

Until this morning. People, I hoop-danced for 25 minutes and pretty much grinned the whole time!

Take that, you soulless ghouls. I refuse to be broken.

Newsflash: we all need a haircut BUT

. . .bad hair days aren’t enough reason to accelerate the spread of COVID-19.

Wildebeest at Zebu’s graduation. May 11, 2018.

Yesterday, Denver nurses stood in intersections to remind the selfish flag-waving assholes in huge trucks that their demands to reopen the state so they could get their nails done were putting healthcare workers and others at risk.  Today, Colorado’s governor (Jared Polis) announced he was lifting our stay-at-home order on April 27.

I’m so exhausted.

John Prine, rest in power

It feels particularly cruel to lose a man of such empathy and wit right now. If there’s one thing the world needs more of, it’s people sensitive to the struggles of others. John Prine left us a catalog of songs that illustrate a deep understanding of people’s inner lives and the moments that often go unremarked. He was a treasure.

In the fall of 2002, President George W. Bush was beating the war drums (with the enthusiastic help of Democrats like Senator Joe Biden) in preparation for invading Iraq. During those months, I played “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” an awful lot. It was my way of maintaining equilibrium during those days of flag-based jingoism. Because, no exaggeration, flags and flag decals were EVERYWHERE. My family attended anti-war rallies in Denver during that fall and spring of 2003, and I helped the boys make signs that expressed their sentiments. Here’s Zebu in the middle, holding his sign.

Civic Center Park, Denver. October 28, 2002.

That sign was always a big hit at rallies because, once again, John Prine had nailed it.

While digesting Reader’s Digest in the back of a dirty book store
A plastic flag, with gum on the back fell out on the floor
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside, slapped it on my window shield
And if I could see old Betsy Ross I’d tell her how good I feel
But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
They’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war
Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
Well, I went to the bank this morning and the cashier he said to me
“If you join the Christmas club we’ll give you ten of them flags for free”
Well, I didn’t mess around a bit, I took him up on what he said
And I stuck them stickers all over my car and one on my wife’s forehead
But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
They’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war
Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
Well, I got my window shield so filled with flags I couldn’t see
So, I ran the car upside a curb and right into a tree
By the time they got a doctor down I was already dead
And I’ll never understand why the man standing in the pearly gates said
“But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
We’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war”
“Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore” 

Well, the U.S. ignored the millions of us around the world who over and over took to the streets to say NO WAR ON IRAQ, and invaded in March 2003 (with Senator Bernie Sanders voting against invasion and occupation). John Prine died on April 7, 2020, and minutes after I’d finally dragged my sad self out of bed this morning, I learned Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign.

Today is an especially hard day on the planet. Think I’ll put “In Spite of Ourselves” on repeat and sit in the sun.

John Prine, rest in power.

Knock-knock

Zippy and I knocked on doors for Bernie Sanders today. We started out together because he’d never canvassed before, but after one block, Zippy confidently headed out with his own list.

The day was a beautiful experience, in multiple ways. One, it was sunny and downright balmy (high 40s) which was a welcome reprieve after this week’s frigid temperatures and yesterday’s blizzard. Two, we started the day with about 50 enthusiastic volunteers, including a couple with a cute-cute-cute baby. Three, I had some really great conversations with voters I contacted. And four, it was gratifying to canvas for a candidate I truly believe in (as opposed to knocking doors for a lesser evil).

As I said in several of today’s conversations: I’m not naive enough to think our problems will be solved merely by electing Bernie Sanders. We have a lot of fights ahead of us if we’re going to turn this ship around. But the beauty of Bernie’s campaign is that he welcomes we-the-people in those fights. He knows he needs us and he embraces our participation because we will only win if we stand together to fight for the common good (which includes a Green New Deal and Medicare For All).

Bernie Sanders is the one candidate with an army of people ready and willing to take to the streets for equity and justice. Today, I was proud to be a Bernie Bro.

Taking back the color red

The other day I saw a neighbor walking up the street ahead of me. In 2016,  that white woman displayed a political sign in support of Agent Orange (something I don’t think I’ll ever forgive or forget), and when I saw her walking along in her red T-shirt I experienced a surge of anger. That red shirt triggered a stream of expletives about how she supported a white supremacist. (Poor Zippy had to endure that volcanic eruption.) Stupid mean people. Stupid red shirt.

But you know what? All the horrible racist people in this country don’t own the color red. Red is a beautiful color. Red belongs to all of us.

Cave Creek Canyon Ranch. May 16, 2019.

And no one wears it better than this dapper Northern Cardinal.

#Gravelanche: Peace, Justice, and Mike Gravel

Today’s mail brought something fun:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A packet of Pentagon rolling papers from presidential candidate Mike Gravel. Mike Gravel, former U.S. senator from Alaska, is running for president (and last month his campaign offered these papers in exchange for a donation). These papers are meaningful because while a Senator in 1971, Mike read a portion of the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional record. He believed the public had the right to know the truth behind the Vietnam War.

It’s true that Mike Gravel is an older white man. But, he’s also the most antiwar, anti-imperialist in the field of candidates and we need him at the Democratic debates. We need his perspective and brutal honesty. In order to qualify for the DNC debates, Mike needs 65,000 individual donations. I’m imploring everyone reading this to donate $1 each to help him reach the quota.

Mike Gravel is against endless war. Both wars for oil and the so-called “war on drugs.” We need Mike’s honesty and passion on these issues during the debates. Please join the #Gravelanche and make a donation today.

Terrible feeling of déjà vu

I wore this shirt while camping this week. Its message is just as timely today as it was when I bought it during war criminal George W. Bush’s presidency.

The back reads:
What is the Downing Street Memo?
On May 1, 2005, The Times of London published a July 2002 memo from the head of British intelligence, who had just returned from Washington, to Prime Minister Tony Blair. Written seven months before the war in Iraq began, the memo says that President Bush, contrary to what he told the American people, had already decided to go to war and, even worse, that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” Meaning, the Bush administration was intentionally fabricatinng evidence linking Saddam to WMD and terrorism in order to trick the American people and Congress into going to war. 

The more things change the more they stay the same. The greedheads/warmongers of the military industrial complex can’t ever get enough.

Recap of Green New Deal town hall

Last night the Boulder/Denver hub of the Sunrise Movement held a town hall meeting on the Green New Deal. It was organized by the two young leaders who worked their tails off to put it together. I’m the group’s token Baby Boomer (my words, not theirs) and was proud to assist Michele Weindling and Nick Tuta as I could. We had over 100 people show up on Memorial Day, many of them young people who care so deeply about the climate crisis they dedicated their last evening of the long weekend to activism. Impressive and humbling.

As I listened to the speeches from young activists and watched the Green New Deal presentation that included the many, many challenges facing young people today (decision to not have children due to climate crisis, crushing student debt, stagnant wages and tight job field, etc.) I teared up. And when those same speakers declared their resolve and refusal to back down from their demands for real action on the climate crisis and environmental equality/justice, I wept some more.

These young people aren’t going to take No for an answer and politicians best wise up. They either need to Step Up or Step Aside. We need a Green New Deal.

Forgot my camera so have just this one blurry shot of me in my Green New Deal bandana. We had a table for people to make one for themselves, their kids, or dogs.

Please support the young people in their efforts for a sustainable future and contact your representatives to demand they co-sponsor this aspirational resolution. Thank you in advance!

Sunday Confessional: I’m not feeling very neighborly

So many people in my neighborhood have signs in support of candidates and policies that are destructive and greed-based.  Candidates who want nothing more than to strip away our health care. Strip away protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Strip away health insurance coverage for young adults under their parents’ plans.

I tried explaining my family’s health care needs to a kind neighbor displaying a campaign sign for one such candidate, telling him it was hurtful to see that sign in his yard. He listened to what I had to say about my family’s medical needs and how that candidate’s policies would change our lives for the worst. He listened and then said he’d talk to A and D, two men in our neighborhood. Well, apparently my female opinion wasn’t enough in the face of men’s opinions because my neighbor still has the sign for the candidate backed by the Koch Brothers in his yard.

Then there are the many anti-Proposition 112 signs in the neighborhood. All of them saying it’s more important to save a few oil and gas jobs in Colorado rather than protect the health and safety of its citizens. Every time I see one of those signs I wish I could put a drilling rig/fracking site on their front lawn. It’s so easy to vote against public health and safety when you’re not at risk. There is zero chance we’ll ever have oil and gas operations in our neighborhood, so fuck everyone else around the state, right? Not to mention how insane it is to ignore the fact that the planet is on a crash course to extinction due to fossil fuels.

I apologize for venting here. I just wish my neighborhood was filled with people trying to behave less like ignorant greedheads and more like Mister Rogers. I’m gonna go back to my fictional neighborhood now . . .

Thankful Thursday: people-and-places-in-my-head edition

I’ve said this before and I’m gonna say it again: I’m very grateful for my creative life.

For the past few days, I’ve immersed myself in a work-in-progress project I’d had to put on hold for much of December while working on another, and yesterday told Zippy I’d fallen in love with the manuscript all over again. I’m grateful to love the work I do.

Today my gratitude is more specifically about the refuge my fiction provides.  Admittedly, it’s not an impenetrable fortress. Earlier, I had to make a shaking-mad phone call to my House Rep’s office after learning about his pro-NSA surveillance vote and I just hopped onto Twitter in time to read about Agent Orange’s racist and hateful remarks about people from Haiti, Africa, and Latin America. The very act of writing that out has me so agitated, I’m now chewing at my cuticles. Clearly, the people and places in my head don’t keep the ugly at bay 24/7.

BUT.

I do have an outlet when the current reality feels too horrible to contemplate. And I hope that’s true for everyone, whether it’s watching goat videos or smelling sweet puppy breath or welding sculptures or hiking or drumming or blowing raspberries on a baby’s chubby tummy or resting in a pool of sunshine or . . .

Please, do whatever it takes.

Anguish and Outrage

This morning I did my twice-monthly volunteer stint with the Denver VOICE. As the non-profit’s Twitter bio states: “The Denver VOICE is a monthly newspaper that provides entrepreneurial opportunities to people who are homeless or impoverished.” It’s a wonderful organization that can help people earn enough money to get off the streets.

Denver VOICE vendor John Alexander

During today’s session at the distribution desk (where I sold papers for 50 cents to the vendors who will vend them for a suggested $2 each), I shared many smiles and laughs. It was a good morning. And then, near closing time, one more vendor came in the office. It was a man who struggles with mental health issues, and today was particularly difficult for him. He became agitated and then emotional. It was heartbreaking to witness someone in such a vulnerable condition.

As I drove home, I cried. For the umpteenth time I thought, “Life is a hard row to hoe.” But then I remembered the GOP greedheads who are rushing through tax legislation that will decimate the safety net that’s supposed to support the nation’s most vulnerable, and my anguish turned to outrage.

How dare they turn their backs on people struggling to keep their heads above water?How dare those politicians enrich themselves and the already uber-wealthy at the expense of the rest of us? And, perhaps most importantly, why aren’t we taking to the streets with torches and pitchforks?

Bunny Monday with a hint of peril

I miss seeing bunnies on my lawn and haven’t snapped a photo of one in a while, so went to Pixabay in search of an image. There were many wonderful photos, but this one jumped out as a fitting representation of our political predator-prey dynamic:

Rabbit, Run!

Need more goat

Cute goats,

I beg-your-pardon goats,

and goats that recognize revolution’s a-comin’ and they’d best get out of the way or risk getting mowed down by angry mobs.

Thank goodness I still have access to a free internet and all its goat images.

American Crow for president

Solitary crow seen through my kitchen window, December 2015.

Every time I see or hear a crow, I smile.
I stop what I’m doing so that I can watch what it’s doing.
Because, crows are smart.
How smart?

Crows sometimes make and use tools.
Examples include a captive crow using a cup to carry water over to a bowl of dry mash; shaping a piece of wood and then sticking it into a hole in a fence post in search of food; and breaking off pieces of pine cone to drop on tree climbers near a nest.

Crows are that smart.
Wouldn’t smart be a nice change?
Also? Crows maintain extended families and communities.
And wouldn’t responsibility to community feel really nice right about now?

Radiance: a work in progress

Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen –
that stillness becomes a radiance.

~  Morgan Freeman

It’s been a hard week, stillness and radiance-wise. Every day, I’ve called the soulless Senator Cory Gardner regarding his votes on the health care repeal. His staffers don’t seem to be taking calls anymore and so I’m forced to leave messages. Confession: I don’t give good voice mail. Even under the best of circumstances, I’m prone to blithering-blathering-wandering messages that spend way too much time in the ditch before I yank the steering wheel and get the call back on the pavement. Today I shouted my entire message at Senator Cory Gardner. However, I did not curse.

Come to think of it, the last time I swore during one of those calls was a couple months back when I reached an actual human. That young man told me if I cursed one more time, he’d hang up on me.

Maybe I’m actually making progress with this whole radiance thing.

Remember the Vasa

I photographed these carved figures with my phone while visiting the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, and have held onto the bizarre image for months as I waited for the right time to display it here.

Today feels like an especially good day in the Corporate States of America to share these figures from the Vasa’s prow.

I’ll let Wikipedia explain:
[The Vasa] was constructed at the navy yard in Stockholm under a contract with private entrepreneurs in 1626–1627 and armed primarily with bronze cannons cast in Stockholm specifically for the ship. Richly decorated as a symbol of the king’s ambitions for Sweden and himself, upon completion she was one of the most powerfully armed vessels in the world. However, Vasa was dangerously unstable and top-heavy with too much weight in the upper structure of the hull. Despite this lack of stability she was ordered to sea and foundered only a few minutes after encountering a wind stronger than a breeze.

Militarization.
Privatization.
King’s ambitions.
Dangerous instability.
Greed and arrogance.
Epic failure.

The Vasa sank after traveling just 1300 meters.

Today I’m indulging in a little wishful thinking.

(NOTE: As a writer, I’m also thinking about how there’s truly no such thing as an original plot line. Greedheads gonna be greedheads, from the beginning of time…)