Archives for category: War and News of War

I am sipping the cold remains of my second morning coffee, abandoned earlier, on my way into the garden. It’s less than ideally satisfying, as cold coffees go, neither properly cold, nor at all warm. I don’t much care; relative to other concerns it is a meaningless detail. Today, I’m feeling the weight of Memorial Day; it’s been a very long time since Memorial Day was any sort of celebration, for me. It is a day to remember the fallen: lives lost to war, lives lost to violence, a moment to contemplate the wasted human potential sacrificed to the causes of various governments… some of those lacking in moral high ground of any kind. I don’t find it something to celebrate. Instead, I honor those I’ve lost, and the lives lost that matter to others that I will never know. It’s simply my way.

I spent yesterday afternoon in my studio, painting. I’ve commented in other places that I am less likely to paint when I am content, fulfilled, happy, or satisfied. It’s an emotional experience that requires emotional impetus, and emotional momentum, and, for me, a way to communicate what I lack the words for. Make of that what you will. Honestly? I dislike “watching the world burn” in these problematic, chaotic times… but in my studio, and so many elsewhere, these are conditions that have a lot of potential to create great art. (Fingers crossed that anyone is around to appreciate any of it… later on.)

I am feeling a bit glum, and a bit angry. How is it 2021 and sexism is still a thing? Or the chronic condescension of patriarchy? How are so many people unwilling or unable to see the strong connection between sexism & misogyny – and literally all of the other evils of our society? (How many racists do you know who are not also sexist? How many people filled with hatred toward immigrants are not also sexist? How many elected idiots are not also sexist?) Sexism isn’t even limited to men, for fuck’s sake; there are ever so many women willing to carry that apologist torch to maintain this system that burns us all. This is where my head is at today; perplexed and sorrowful about all the human relationships tainted by the ugliness of implicit sexism. I’m not feeling open to excuses, explanations, denials, or “othering”, today. I’m not interested in justification, or placating platitudes. Hell, it’s not even connected to Memorial Day sadness – not even a little bit. It’s just where my head is at. I’m in a place in my own life where I no longer feel any obligation whatsoever to placate various men in my life, although out of general consideration, and a lack of interest in their opinion on an experience of sexism they can not share (and largely seem unable to recognize, as a result), I mostly just don’t discuss it, at all. Complicating all this is that is sometimes feels like a conversation with my father. He’s dead, though… hard to “feel heard”. So the anger comes and goes, not unlike the sorrow of any one Memorial Day; it has a place in my experience, a moment taken to care for it tenderly, to consider and soothe it, and then I move the fuck on to other things. There’s no solution that I reasonably expect to see in my lifetime, and I’ve got things to do.

I put on music to write to, suited to this peculiar headspace, while I sip this cold coffee and practice self-soothing a lifetime of seething rage until I am “okay” once more… For most values of “okay”. It is what it is, I guess. Life is, generally, pretty good. I find it worrisome to see so many people take their anger out into the world, along with a gun… and then end someone else’s life. That seems pretty unfair and entirely inappropriate. I don’t like seeing it become more and more prevalent… but of course, it’s hard to be certain that it has; likes, clicks, views, and the eager drive to capture consumer attention dictates what is in our news feeds every day. The undermining of “truth” – real, factual, documentable truth – has progressed to the point that I’ve even removed satirical and comedic content that uses current events for the foundational content from my feeds. I don’t care to risk my understanding of what is real and true, if I can avoid doing so. I try to stick with content that is fact-checked reliably. It gets harder all the time.

What do we do with all this anger? I feel it, too. I’m trying to find healthy ways to process it, to deal with it, to care for my own tender injured heart without doing damage to someone else’s. Painting is one way. Funny thing; yesterday I was not “painting anger”, although it was among the mixed emotions that pushed me into my studio. I was painting love, and painting hope, and painting joy, and the comfort of emotional safety. I was painting what I want to see in the world and in my own life. I surprised myself with that. Maybe it’s a good practice? I guess I’ll be needing to practice to see what comes of it, over time.

Today, though, is a day for housekeeping, and mindful service to hearth and home. This, too, is “my way”. I’m not sure why Sunday. I could say “the habit of a lifetime” – but it isn’t. Growing up, I most commonly saw housework being done more or less in all the waking hours of our family life – and all of it done by my Mother, or Grandmother, or some other woman, in some other home. I’m fortunate. I get a lot of help from my Traveling Partner. We generally both handle routine basics during the week. I do a few hours of focused housekeeping on the weekend, to get ready for a new week; I like the results, all week long. My partner tackles a lot of the maintenance and upkeep of the house and the technology we live with. It mostly seems a pretty fair division of labor. My resentment, when it occasionally builds up over time, tends to be more about my own shortcomings self-care-wise, and lack of skillful boundary-setting or time management, and discomfort with asking for help when I need it. Recognizing that’s “on me” to resolve, I try to be aware of my bullshit before it spills over elsewhere. No doubt I could improve in this area. lol

I look at my list of chores for today. It’s honestly not “all that”, and definitely doesn’t amount to enough work for any hint of annoyance or resentment or fuss. It’s just a routine Sunday on a long weekend. 🙂 Hell, I may even paint more later – I’m feeling very inspired lately. I don’t suggestion that that is a good thing… it’s just fuel for the artistic fire within.

I glance at the time, and into the bottom of my now-empty coffee mug; it’s time to begin again.

Too many holiday reports of violence against family members, loved ones, children, partners… fucking hell, where did people ever get the notion that it is acceptable to act with violence upon those that are dear to them?? It sickens me.

…I’ve been angry, even enraged, even felt “righteously” so, such that my own actions seemed to me to be both inevitable & necessary, and also wholly justified (which did not and does not make it true, ever). I also managed not to kill anyone. Just saying. Don’t kill people. Don’t even raise your hand against them in anger.

Notice I haven’t said anything about men killing women, women killing men, etc; violence is not a gendered issue. You can say what you’d like about who kills more of whom, but the simplest of truths is that the life of another human being is not yours to take. Doesn’t matter what your gender is. I don’t seem room to argue with that axiom, myself, and I embrace it. (Don’t talk to me about war, or military force, or the justification for violence under some conditions – unless you, yourself, have been both soldier delivering that military force, and also a civilian experiencing having that force delivered upon you, please; without both perspectives what do you even “know”?)

I’m fairly over violence, generally. I respond poorly even to milder forms of emotional violence (raised voices, a nasty tone, guilt trips, manipulation), particularly after living without it for a while. I don’t mean to say I “never” raise my voice – I sincerely attempt to avoid doing so, and feel incredibly disappointed in myself when I fail to control my volume and my tone adequately well. There’s work involved. It’s work I find worth doing, so I keep at it.

…Then I read another news story that fills me with real horror; an angry parent kills their kids, takes their own life, in the midst of a messy angry divorce, or a partner slays their mate, or someone kills a parent… horrifying. What gave any of them the sense that this was an acceptable choice? How was this okay to do? Why haven’t we “made it stop”?

I sigh. Sip my coffee with a feeling of sadness for a moment. A pause to honor lives lost to the shittiest of excuses; anger. So not okay. There have already been dozens of lives lost in 2021, to familial violence, partner violence, and hate crimes. It’s the fucking 3rd of January. Maybe 2021 can be a year we finally get a grip on our anger and do better – as a species? As a planet? As a global community? Yes, I’d love to see humanity put the brakes on warfare, but more than that? I’d very much love to see humanity stop killing those most dear. I mean, seriously? It seems like a pretty obvious improvement, generally.

We’ll need to begin again, particularly if we hope to change the world…

Sipping coffee between housework tasks. It’s a rather ordinary sunny, chilly, autumn Sunday. I hear my Traveling Partner working on a project in his woodshop. Lovely day. I mean… lovely day right here. Your results, based on a quick look at this morning’s news headlines, may vary.

It’s a beautiful day to make good choices, and to be that person we most want to be.

…What a mess we’ve made… I mean… as a nation, a society… a species. Just saying. We could do better.

So… the U.S. election is in progress. “Election Day” is just a couple days away. I hope you are not imagining any great ease in national tension based on some particular outcome…? It’s unfortunate that we’ve allowed our political discourse to degrade to false dichotomies and ad hominem attacks. Growing and maintaining a society built on equality, rights, and freedoms shared by all requires a more subtle understanding than that, it would seem. We have, by that measure, failed entirely. It’s sad to observe the increasing racial tensions in so many cities, and hate-filled rhetoric becoming so commonplace, everywhere.

Full disclosure? I’m neither a republican nor a democrat. Nope, not “green party” or libertarian, either. (Nor communist, socialist, fascist, or other organized party affiliation of any brand.) I’ve still got a stake in how things turn out; I’m American. I live here. I shop here. I work here. I earn here. I invest here. I hike and camp here. I enjoy the local roads and infrastructure here. I vote here. This particular election season I voted as early as I could. I think our method of voting is fairly horrible, and doesn’t have much potential for any outcome other than degrading into a two-party system (or system in which only two parties have a legitimate chance at a win). Our government is implicitly institutionally racist – it’s also implicitly and institutionally sexist, and extremely so. I dislike both those things. I vote specifically against those conditions, and I look for opportunities to do so.

Feeling down about the election this year? I encourage you to (re)watch South Park season 8, episode 8, “Douche and Turd”. Definitely. If you’re looking for something more… hopeful… I recommend CGP Gray (on YouTude) episodes from his Politics in the Animal Kingdom work. There are better ways available to us. We’d only have to decide to do differently.

…Honestly, I don’t understand why we have not yet embraced – fully embraced, for real – direct democracy. Legitimate actual democracy. We certainly have the technology to build a secure system for online voting, already. (Do you doubt that is true? I direct your attention to the various online banks and similar systems, as well as your basic banking ATM. Also… the NSA. We don’t lack adequate encryption methods for secure online voting. That’s one challenge we don’t face at this point in time.) We already know the electoral college has nothing whatsoever to do with a democratic election, and is an artifact of another time. (I sound like I am on the edge of ranting. My apologies. You don’t need that from me, of all people. I’m simply continue to be astonished at the lengths parties will seem to go to, in order to restrict people from being able to vote at all. It rather undermines the very concept of democracy.) That’s what sours me most on “this great nation”, I think, we call ourselves a democracy, but we don’t actually mean it “for real”. We very much prefer that our democracy return only results that we personally favor, however harmful or distasteful to the majority. 😦

Please at least just fucking vote, okay? Not a joke vote. Not a “protest vote”. Really vote. Maybe it “doesn’t matter” to you in any way you acknowledge – but it matters to the lives, the literal lives, of so many other people… please? Vote. And… just saying… if you’re going to vote at all, why not also make your choices based on outcomes that will truly serve the largest number of Americans in the best possible ways? All Americans. Even the ones you don’t like, personally. 🙂 Instead of focusing on an assortment of party platforms that were chosen to serve those in power (or the special interests they have obligated themselves to), just put your vote on what will serve Americans – all Americans – the best possible way, resulting in the best possible quality of life for every one of us – and not at the expense of other Americans, or even other nations. It’s not a zero sum game. It’s not a fucking pie. It’s time we all changed our thinking to get better results for the survival of humankind. It’s not about the money.

It’s time to begin again. Let’s start with what we’re voting for.

I’m sipping my coffee, quietly reading some news. I give up on it quickly; most of the news is at best a bit of a downer, and at worst holds some amount of potential to be a significant mood-wrecker. I stifle a sneeze, and wonder why I haven’t put a box of tissues in my studio, yet? No, I’m not ill. It’s just a stray sneeze. Dust? Or allergens of some sort. I return to my coffee and my thoughts.

Where does this path lead?

I took my first walk in the countryside since the move, on Saturday. It was a lovely day for it. The entire weekend was sunny. Saturday was pleasantly warm and somewhat mild. Sunday was ferociously hot for the area. I enjoyed both days quite a lot. The walk was lovely, and I am glad I got out on the trail, although most of the walk was simply around and about the new neighborhood. 🙂 Plenty to see, all of it new, most of it entirely ordinary. 🙂 Small pleasures still count as pleasant.

There is the usual assortment of roadside flowers in bloom to be seen along the way.

I walked a bit more than a mile. Far enough to walk a new path, to see some new points of view, and to wave at new neighbors.

I crossed a small foot bridge passing over a small branch of the creek that flows past our house.

The walk was enough to make my ankle ache, by the time I had returned home. Still, I wasn’t in much pain this weekend, and as improvements in quality of life go, a reduction in pain is a good one to enjoy. So, I spent the weekend enjoying that. 🙂

I sip my coffee, now, enjoying my recollections of the weekend just past, and thinking about the day ahead. Later on, I’ll drive “into the city”, which I’m not looking forward to at all. It’s just a necessary errand. Portland is seriously “stirred up” right now, and I’ve no interest in becoming mixed up in that chaos. I looked over my route, yesterday evening, and verified it does not need to take me through the heart of things, down near the courthouse, before confirming my plans. Portland, Oregon, has a lively protest culture, and I have long respected and valued the willingness of Portland’s citizens to take a stand against injustice. That feeling does not diminish the experiences of profound inconvenience and considerable risk that go along with attempting to pass through an area filled with protesters, counter-protesters, and aggressive law enforcement. I make a point of keeping my distance, unless I am intending to be an active participant. Safer.

I notice that thoughts of protests, protesters, and conflict, have caused my heart to pound and my breathing to become shallow. I take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and relax. There is no threat here, just me and this cup of coffee, which I am enjoying very much. I think about my Saturday morning walk, instead, and feel my shoulders relax, and my heartbeat slow down. I sip my coffee and begin to plan my day.

…Pretty routine stuff, but I’ll point out that generally speaking, on the average, things tend to be pretty routine, day-to-day, most particularly if I allow them to be so. I could keep myself constantly in a state of tension, ready for a fight, poised on the edge of drama, constantly examining my experience for threat of danger, or revisiting past conversations looking for an enemy to confront… I know people who do. I once did, myself. It’s not actually a pleasant or comfortable way to live, and it didn’t seem to enhance my quality of life at all – and it didn’t reduce the danger or drama in my life, or do much to actually prepare me to deal with those sorts of things, in fact. It was just uncomfortable and emotionally messy. I’m glad I gave up those practices (and they are experiences that do require practice) in favor of practices that tend to tilt life more in the direction of contentment, joy, ease, and satisfaction in life. Turned out that life itself did not need to change much – it was more about my perspective on life needing a change (and how I treated myself in the context of the events of my life). 🙂

I finish this cup of coffee, on an ordinary enough Monday, beginning a routine sort of day. It’s enough. I begin again. 🙂

I may not write for a few days. There’s a lot going on in our flailing culture, right now, and I’d rather not provide a distraction. We all need to face this. We need to look America’s “original sin” of racism in the face and clean up the mess we’ve made.

I’ll resume writing, but for now, I am doing other things, and making room for long-silenced voices to be heard. Thank you for understanding. Please, definitely vote every time you get a chance, and definitely do your part to put decent human beings who value humanity and human life into office, instead of self-important already-wealthy liars and cheats whose sole intention is to enrich themselves at the expense of the nation. We can do better than we have, and we owe it to ourselves, our communities, and our future, to do so.