Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wisdom Keeper

I'm writing a story that incorporates much of the ancient wisdom so prevalent in my part of the world. Ancient Native American, Celtic, African and other teachings came together here and worked to help the people survive. More than religion, these ancient customs joined people not just to one another, but to all of their ancestors through time immemorial.

I read and collected the wonderful Foxfire books produced by students in the 1970s. I still feel a sadness to know now the price so many of the children paid in the production. The teacher was honored with much recognition for his achievements, but ultimately spends the remainder of his life isolated alone in a prison cell for crimes he committed against his students. He is but one of the many sad reminders of other legacies this land of isolation and poverty foments.

For that reason, my research strayed away from those reliable sources of the old ways. Besides, I wanted older, weirder ways for my stories. I wandered into several local libraries and started conversations with the ladies there. Having been directed to a particular area with a number of potential references, I settled at a desk and began perusing.

"Excuse me," a tiny little voice whispered. I looked up, shaking myself from the delight of the reading material. It seems someone in Gilmer County once upon a time found half of a petrified woman's body. I was eager to learn what became of it, where was the other half, which half was it? I was riveted and a bit consternatious for having been interrupted.

A small, well aged woman stood before me. She had sparkling eyes. She could have passed for Betty White. In a look alike contest, I would have picked her.

"Are you the lady looking for the old stories," she asked?

"I am."

"I have some you might want. I've been collecting them my whole life and just haven't really known what to do with them. My children could care less."

As it turns out, she is what she calls the local Wisdom Keeper. Her mothers before her were the healers, the story tellers, the conjure women of days of old. From the time she could read and write, she followed her mother, grandmother and great grandmother around the mountains while they gathered, prepared, healed and conjured. Whatever they did, she wrote down in her little book. Whenever she could get them to explain the logic behind it, she wrote that down too.

"Would you like to have them?"

Holy hallelujah, would I? Shezam! I just hit the mother lode. The next day, I followed her carefully written directions to a quaint cabin. Her notebooks had been kept safe and tidy, if not a little faded and damp in placed. I am only now taking a break from my reading. Now I know what to do just in case a haint follows me home. I can call the wind. Dance in the rain and smoke it away any time I like. I know what the birds really mean when they appear to just be doing ordinary every day bird things.

For the honor of this gift, I had to agree to certain things. I am not allowed to reveal the identity of this woman to anyone ever. "Lord, God, the folks at my church would burn me at the stake if they knew I was an old conjure woman!" I can do that. I am not allowed to use any of the spells to harm any living thing - only to heal. I doubt I'll use the spells at all, since they seem primarily silly to me so far, except for the ones about sending away death and ending floods, droughts and tornadoes, which still seem a little silly, but what the hey. Also, I must find some young girl to whom I must pass on the ancient wisdom (I'm taking nominations). Finally, I must visit my new friend to let her know how my learning is going and to let her answer any questions I may have. Consider it done.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Think For Yourself

I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but I can't help myself today. This week's political insanity has me reeling. What is the purpose of government anyway? Government serves the public good. In order to do that, government must deal in probabilities, not possibilities. That which is likely to happen that would harm innocent people.

It's easy to see that if a fire starts at my house, then the fire could spread to other houses. Other lives will then be put at risk. Maybe it won't. Maybe it will. Let's not wait and see. Let's all put out the fire. Government is good at that. Private enterprise is not. I don't want to be waiting next door while the fire department attempts to run the credit card. I want to be safe.

Likewise, I don't want to be walking down the street among people who are sick with horrible disease. I want them to get health care. I want them to live, be well, happy, healthy. I don't want to be waiting next door while the health care business runs the insurance and credit card. I want to be safe.

In all good altruism, I want you to be healthy. I want to be healthy. I want less stress and drama in my world. Private enterprise health care is not working. Tort reform won't fix it. Requiring me to buy into insurance run health care is not working. I don't want an insurance company telling me what health care I need. I want a physician telling me that. But I do want a ticket to the physician.

There are no jobs. The money has all been stolen and most of America is scraping by on a wing and prayer. Sure, we'll make it. If we live long enough. If we don't get sick. If we don't get hit by an uninsured motorist. If we don't get apoplexy from listening to all the health care debate.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What's Your Passion?

I'm tired of this expression, this use of the word 'passion'. Whenever I'm asked "What's your passion?" I'm tempted - profoundly, deeply, shall I say it - oh yes - PASSIONATELY - inclined to respond "Well, I like a strapping young cowboy and wild crazy monkey sex in a barn with the cows and pigs watching me this time." I don't say it. But every fiber of my being cries out to do so. I want to see the shocked expressions on those faces. I want to drive home the fact that passion is not something so commonplace that everybody has one they can publicly expound upon while chatting at Starbucks.

For example, I love tulips. I would have a gazillion tulips sprouting in my yard, in vases around the house, in my car, in my hair. This is not a passion. I do not suffer, endure, stake my very life and being on tulips. Even if I did indulge my desire for everything tulip, it would only be, at best, an obsession, at worst OCD. Never would it arise to the level of a passion. Bubba Tyrone, who wistfully shares that he has a 'passion for music' is misguided - listening to everything Cher is merely an obsession.

Passion is something more. According to Merriam-Webster, passion is a state of being acted upon by external forces, it is ungovernable emotion, an intense, overmastering conviction. Passion takes to you the very heights - and depths - of all that makes life glorious and sacred. Beethoven, writing symphonies while his own ears couldn't hear the notes, had a passion. Mother Teresa, slogging through the disease and pathetic prejudice of a caste system in order to bring comfort and love to those deemed universally vile, had a passion. Anyone willing to risk suffering the depths of pain and despair to bring love and beauty to an otherwise cruel and vicious world has passion.

For those of us who are rationally compelled to anger and joy in the realms of politics, fashion, music, charity, religion, and, yes, sex, these are - for most of us - merely interests. However motivated we may feel, we rarely rise (or sink) to the extreme levels of passion. I exhort us all to delve into those various interests and to give them our all when necessary. But I must caution us all to avoid like the plague the extremes of passion - of being controlled by some uncontrollable emotion so fierce it might take all we hold dear.

I don't know how we got to the place where everyone must have a passion and is thereby compelled to discuss them over cocktails, coffee or on early morning newsertainment shows. Perhaps we just don't want to feel that we are run of the mill. We want to feel special, to highlight that which defines and motivates us. To hold ourselves out as something more than the every day, with qualities that are unique and special. In doing so, we only manage to express our similarities.

Similarities are still good things. A friend who lay dying expressed that it wasn't the glories of her life that she would miss. It wasn't the celebrity parties, the best seller lists, the hobbnobbing with the great and the wannabes. It was the every day, the little moments listening to her children fight, her husband grumble, the sunlight through the kitchen window while the coffee brewed. To which I say, touche. Go forth, people. Dare to be ordinary.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Republicans Support Abortion

Okay, I know that's a bit of a stretch, but work with me here. RNC Chairman Michael Steele is quoted as saying "Republicans oppose any new government entity overruling a doctor's decision about how to treat his or her patient." I found this quote while snarking around on For those who have never actually read Roe v. Wade, the ultimate basis for the Court's opinion that a woman has a right to choose to have an abortion is the right to privacy that a patient has in making important medical decisions with her physician.

This illustrates my fundamental difficulty with Republican discourse. Statements are made without thought or reason. There is a failure to follow thought to its logical conclusion. What is essentially the basis of democratic principles is turned into a rhetorical malapropism.

No one, American, Republican or Iranian wants a doctor's decision about how to treat a patient to be sacred. My doctor doesn't get to decide what is done to me. My doctor gets to tell me what the problem is and what options are available to fix it and what the likely consequences of failure to fix it will be. I get to decide how I will be treated.

Oops. No, I don't. I don't have health insurance. I don't get to decide diddly squat. A physician would likely treat me except that our government allows corporations to only guard the bottom line. Because the law requires corporations to only make money, and not engage in things like free services to the indigent, the government's policy stands between me and my physician's decisions on how I should be treated.

Damn. Does this mean I'm a Republican?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

I don't like Valentine's Day. Never have. Being a lifelong commitment phobe, it's just one of those days that does not relate to me any way, shape or form. It occurred to me last night that I'm basically just jealous. It's something in which I can't participate. It's silly (and lots of even ruder things) to resent the celebration of romantic love by others. I'm notoriously silly.

VD has its roots in ancient times, as do most of our celebrations, in the holiday of Lupercalia. It is alleged that ancient Romans slaughtered goats, dipped strips of goat skin in blood and then whipped women with the strips to guarantee fertility. One web site went so far as to state emphatically that women liked this. The rest of the history I found was speculative and boring. Suffice it say that this festival has been around for a very long time and likely has its roots in laws of nature. Spring is coming and with all that reproduction in the air, we are all prone to succomb. Might as well secure that partnership now, especially when it's so cold and a good time to snuggle.

Romantic love didn't really come into fashion until the Victorian era. Prior to that, most marriages were either arranged or the result of capture during tribal raids. The most ancient formal marriages I know of are jewish, the requirement being an actual written contract (which for the most part, all the husband need do to end it is tear it up). Over time, customs became laws and laws became money delivery systems to lawyers. If that isn't the death of romantic love, I don't know what is.

Once upon a time, it did bother me to not get flowers delivered to the office so all my world would know that someone considered me important. Not having that candlelit dinner at my favorite restaurant was a drag, as was no one with whom to cuddle, snuggle and be silly. After living quite some time and seeing my friends marry, divorce, remarry, redivorce, reremarry, and so on, I think I'm starting to get over it. I may have missed some of the public recognition once a year, but I certainly had my share of candlelight, flowers, chocolates and cuddles. So, I'll just learn to be grateful on this day that there is no one to fight with.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Crimes and Punishments

Why are people (Republicans) arguing that Obama should be holding a military trial for the panties bomber? Does anyone know the reason behind this argument? I'd ask for the rationality of this argument but they're republicans, ergo, not rational.

What benefit is obtained by conducting a military trial over a civilian trial? Well, there aren’t any of those pesky little civil rights thingies to worry about. No lawyer, no grand jury, no right to not incriminate yourself, etc., etc., etc. Not much of a right to appeal. Just enough to get it over turned in case you aren’t an enemy engaged in warfare.

Why is a civilian trial is mandated by American law? Well, there are those pesky little civil rights thingies, various statutes, countless Supreme Court opinions and The Posse Comitatus Act (1987) all of which forbid assertion of military jurisdiction over a civilian. Even in war zones. Even on military property. And, yes, even on military property in a war zone.

But, you may ask, is the panties bomber a civilian? Indubitably. Only Congress can declare war. After 9/11, Congress only enacted an Authorization for Military Use of Force. It did not enact a Declaration of War. Without a Declaration of War, a person (even an ‘enemy combatant’) can’t be tried in a military court, because military jurisdiction only attaches upon a violation of any rule of war. No war, no rules. No rules, no violation. Without a war declared by Congress, we have no enemies.

Men and women are being killed and maimed to protect the very right – civilian trial by jury of our peers – that Republicans are now viciously attacking. Now, I’m not shy about my criticisms of the American system of justice. I have many. They are legion. That being said, I am fairly confident that a man who tries to set off a bomb in his underwear on a plane in front of 200 eyewitnesses is likely to be convicted, even if he is afforded each and every constitutional right imagined by the leftest, hippiest, socialistest, commie pinko fag of all time. Besides, what's life in prison, or even the death sentence, compared this: the dude set his dick on fire. Even a military tribunal can’t do that.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


One day, a handsome young boxer showed up on the other side of my fence. I didn't see him at first, but heard a voice say "I was really having fun, but now I'm really not and would you please look on my collar and call my dad please?" I turned around and he sidled up to me.  I checked his collar and sure enough, there was a number. I called and his dad was driving around frantically looking for him. He had chased a deer and it seems went a little further than he realized.  Dogs are capable of telepathic communication when they want to. Most of us just don't listen.

One night, my dog, Webster, took off up the stairs while my landladies were eating dinner.  The door at the top of the stairs separates the basement apartment from the kitchen.  I called him back down so he wouldn't disturb their dining.  He harumphed loudly.  "But, Mom," he whined, "they NEEEEEED me."  I was in the futile effort of explaining to him that they did not need him, he just wanted their dinner when the door opened and a voice called out "Webster, we need you."  So, apparently dogs are also psychic.

I think psychic, or animal communication, is really a matter of perception. Heightened perception perhaps, but it may be nothing more than paying really close attention to the details around you. Birds in the yard chirping away won't rouse any concern, but if the entire neighborhood is silent, it feels disturbing.  Likewise, if they're all screeching and squawking like mad. Something is surely not right with the world and if you investigate enough, you'll probably figure it out.

I saw an HBO special last weekend about Temple Grandin, the esteemed scientist who has discovered humane ways of treating cattle. She was able to see the holding facilities the way the animals see them and design a system that kept them calm. By paying attention to what the cows said in their behaviors, she was able to understand what they needed and ultimately save time and money for the companies involved.

We all, animal, vegetable, mineral, communicate. Information about us is tossed out with our very breath. It leaks out of our pores. Blares from our minds and hearts throughout the universe. We don't pay attention to what we're saying except with words. It's just as well. Very few of us are listening. Most of the world is so busy screaming about what they want to say, they couldn't hear us anyway.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


It's a secret. Carefully guarded. I first learned of it a long time ago. I tried to stop it, but once the bullets started flying, I admit I high-tailed it out of there. I tell myself that I least made a difference in my small little area of the world and that some thirty-five children had a shot at life without that very real fear of what comes in the dark. It still doesn't feel like enough.

The secret?  Georgia leads the world in the crime of child prostitution. This is according to the FBI, Georgia DFACS, and numerous other sources from whom I can't obtain precise citation. That's because there is no precise citation on any record to give, at least that I can find. However, I have been told by those who should know that this is a fact.  Now, let me reiterate something. GEORGIA LEADS THE WHOLE WORLD IN THE CRIME OF CHILD PROSTITUTION.

Currently, Georgia law considers this a crime and dutifully arrests said prostitutes and throws them in jail. They are prosecuted. More often than not, the pimps are not thrown in jail and are not prosecuted. In any number of the juvenile facilities in which the girls are imprisoned upon conviction of guilt, they are then prostituted out of the very parking lots of said jails. And no, I can't give you a precise citation on that, either, but I watched it one day and was very nearly arrested for the flaming shit fit I threw. I bet if you stop by a girls juvenile jail and spend some time watching, you too can witness this atrocity. I can give citation to a PBS transcript on the issue:

Okay, sure, there are some savvy 16 year olds in that crowd - NOT - a 16 year old prostitute is too vulnerable and uneducated to be savvy.  GROW UP! For the most part, the girls range in ages any where from 4 to 16. (After 16, it isn't child abuse any more. Okay, I know, the law says it is, but we're talking about reality here. After 16, you're just another trouble maker kid nobody wants to hear about.)

Georgia has a proposal to fix this problem. It's actual pretty good legislation (except that like all other similar legislation it doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of ever being enforced). It proposes to change the law such that a child under the age of 16 isn't capable of committing the crime of prostitution, but instead is defined as a victim of a felony.  FINALLY!

Oops!  What's this?  Georgia Christian Alliance, the Georgia Christian Coalition, Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, and the Georgia Baptist Convention are vehemently OPPOSED to the passage of this act.  Why?  Well, in my humble opinion, it is because the act will prosecute the many members of these organizations who I believe are likely sexually abusing children for fun and profit. No, instead they argue that this law legalizes child prostitution.  It doesn't.  HB 582 and SB 304 absolutely do not legalize child prostitution. Instead, those bills clearly put the guilt on the pimps and the johns and provide at least a structure intended to help the children.

In 2001, the FBI arrested some 15 pimps involved in an organized conspiracy of selling children for sex. It was the first time in 30 years that anyone was sent to prison for pimping children in Georgia.  The average sentence was 6 years. This created such an uproar in Atlanta, that advocates got together and opened a model program for these girls called Angela's House.  It has 6 beds.  Let me reiterate something - there are thousands of child prostitutes in Georgia and the landmark, model program for them holds 6 beds.  Eight years later, after this landmark model program has opened, IT STILL ONLY HAS 6 BEDS.

So very much needs to be done to fix this problem, that I can't begin here to say what we can do now. We can do little things every day. When you watch the news and someone talks about an inappropriate relationship between a student and a teacher, contact that station and remind them that calling it a relationship validates the teacher, but calling it rape, which in fact it is under the legal definition, validates the child. Be careful to whom you give money as many who claim to be fixing the problem are the problem. Bitch. Go now to your representative, mayor, governor, police chief and complain bitterly, loudly and often.

Monday, February 1, 2010

If Rush Were A Woman

"Doris Kearns Goodwin is married to Richard Goodwin, who is a funny guy. If I were a woman, I wouldn't want to be married to him, but women look at men differently, I suppose."  Rush Limbaugh

Now, Rush isn't a guy I like to quote. But this one just struck me as so essentially Rush, that I had to share it.  Why, you may ask, do I consider it essentially Rush?  Well, because, in the first place, it doesn't say anything particularly relevant. And yet, it says so very much. About Rush.

I think well of both Goodwins, although DKG had her share of criticism for citation omissions (and, it is pretty easy to do). To her credit, she has admitted her own errors and gone on to do some fabulous work. RG, likewise, is a gifted writer, thinker and has numerous qualities women everywhere would find seductive. 

So, what is Rush's point?  "If I were a woman" is a curious thing for even Rush to say.  Can we imagine it?  No, we can't. In the first place, if Rush were a woman, he wouldn't have money.   No woman could ever be hired to do what he does. No woman could even pretend to be as monumentally stupid as Rush sounds. No woman could look in the mirror every day at that face and not do something about it. Rush could not be Rush and be a woman.

"I wouldn't want to be married to him" really insinuates more than just a small gender identity issue here.  Obviously, Rush has given some thought to the kind of man he would want to marry, at least enough to have identified qualities he would want and not want in a husband. It would appear, to my mind at least, that Richard Goodwin isn't quite the hot looking stud type Rush would go for, if he were a woman. Richard Goodwin is not what I would call handsome, in the strictly physical, superficial sense, although he does have really nice eyes. He's also 78, so hunk is pretty much not there for him any more, if it ever really was.  On the other hand, Richard Goodwin is funny and he is absolutely hands down a fucking genius.

Rush has been married - three times. And divorced three times.  I'm not sure what kind of woman would want to marry Rush, but it is clear that there is no kind of woman who want to remain married to him.  So, here's the kicker.  Rush is right about something - women do look at things differently, Rush. Indeed, we do.