Saturday, May 13, 2017

Nuts in May

Ah spring sun!
ready to run!

winter is over
rain has gone

windows open
doors unlock

ominous grey
to azure blue

spirits lift
like morning dew

a sea of dark
turns an ocean of color

flowers blooming
bunnies grooming

California poppies
fill the scene

blue waters fill the bay
white horses sparkle away

nothing like May to put
the wind in your sail

long shadows
grace the trails

maybe it's nuts
to run while it's hot

then again, may be not

maybe it's time
to go nuts in May

time to run?
"you must be nuts," they say!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Opera Night

a wide brim ruby red hat
black trim compliments
a long black
backless dress

possibly cashmere?

she smiles looking down
a pair of pointed mottled boots
peek from below the dress

period 40s?

the red hat
leather red jacket
perfectly match

the hat rests at her side

small rhinestones decorate
black opera gloves
clutching a glimmering red purse

the light dims

the lady sits and waits
it's warm
she sheds the red
revealing red beads

she looks right and smiles
red ruby lips,
"Good evening"

The curtains open
ruby red fades to black
Opera night begins

Photo credit: Opening Night at the Paris Opera

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Raindrops

Grey
Oppressive
foreboding sky
making her shy
an inner voice exclaims, "I don't want to run in this!"
the bus stops
she finds the trail

green lushness stops her in her
already sodden tracks

deeper in this green world
she begins to see raindrops bounce off leaves
and even her nose

she absorbs this wet world
embracing the sensations it offers
she stops again to examine the drops
suspended on a clover - perfect little orbs

she wonders...
if it wasn't for the weather, they might have been tears
the tears of a jilted lover pining for past and lost years

she moves on -- thankful for the raindrops

Friday, March 17, 2017

"Words matter..."

The San Francisco Chronicle article, entitled, "Frederick Douglass and Writing the Resistance" by Vanessa Hua conjured up much imagery painting a wonderful portrait of Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist, and a former slave, who up until the very day he died, dedicated his life to fighting for the oppressed. Hua's article coincided with black history month and also takes into account Trump's inauguration and the subsequent Women's marches that took place across the nation and the world on January, 21, 2017.

A hundred years later, America finds itself waging a similar fight for equality under the umbrella of the civil rights' movement. Fast forward to January, 2017. I find myself standing in the pouring rain in one of the most progressive cities in America outside the Town Hall the day after the inauguration of President Trump finding it difficult to believe people are galvanized to such a pitch that they feel yet another march for equality is necessary. Insofar as decades go, things have indeed changed for women and minorities for the better, but the question remains, by how much? The inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States is an indicator that we do not have gender equality and may have even lost some equality.

The fact that we have a president who was freely elected by voters who had a knowledge of the existence of a tape-recording of him bragging to a TV host about sexually assaulting women and subsequently dismissing the banter as, "locker room" talk is demonstrative enough that we have not moved very far towards equality at all. The revelation of the tape should have been enough to end his campaign under a cloud of shame and public outrage, but it did not. The fact that Trump was elected president despite the existence of the tape is more than demonstrative of gender inequality. As a matter of fact, it reduced gender equality even further given that Hillary Rodham Clinton, an accomplished politician with a track record of public service failed to win over voters along the political spectrum. Even worse, she was vilified for infractions such as using a private email account for affairs of state, but Trump remains untouched for admitting to sexually assaulting women. Misogyny was rampant throughout voters' expressions online and at rallies, and was a large factor in Clinton's loss of the presidency.

Women who had accused Trump of harassment and rape were also the target of misogyny. They were dismissed as, "Liars", "Why now?" even though the concept of zeitgeist could answer the latter question. Make no mistake that the misogyny was from all along the political spectrum along with misogynistic language used by everyone who disliked Clinton. The language used across social media to describe Clinton were more often than not, very gender specific. Language included words that described negative traits, or labels reserved for females; "Wall Street Whore", "Bitch", "Old hag", "Shillary", and the list goes on. I am left wondering how Frederick Douglass, a champion for equality, including women's suffrage in the 19th Century would feel hearing such terms being used today in the 21st Century? I'm drawn back to Vanessa Hua's description of two women's poster of the "American flag with the inscription “Words Matter” on an eagle with its wings outstretched." Words indeed, do matter.

The words used to describe Hillary Clinton matter because they are dismissive of women. The words dismiss women because they reduce women from being intellectual beings on a par with men to mere objects of ridicule by only referencing them by their gender and sexuality leaving them devoid of any capability, or reliability. The words confine women within a boundary of derogatory gender-specific traits that place them beneath males. For example, the repeated descriptions of Clinton as shrill; "Why does she have to yell?" Yet Trump's calls to his sycophants to, "Lock her up!" went unheeded. Ever heard of a man being described as "Shrill"? Never. And you won't because that is a word reserved for women only. Men can't be shrill, only forthright and direct. Never shrill -- only, "saying how it is."

The fact that Donald Trump is now president demonstrates that his words, tone and inflections were not put up to the same scrutiny as Hillary Clinton's intonations. If anything, the supporters of Trump were galvanized by Trump's yelling. Trump's yelling helped him in contrast to Clinton who was penalized for behaving in a similar way when she described supporters of Trump, as a "Basket of Deplorables." Both sides screened her labeling of predominately white working-class Trump voters with a fine comb and rightly so, but Trump's calls to "Lock her up" and "crooked Hillary" were not put up to the same scrutiny. Clinton lost credibility whereas Trump gained it. A male politician behaving unlike a president became an asset rather than a liability -- it got Trump elected. Words really do matter. Gender-specific words reserved only for women model attitudes. Those attitudes manifested themselves throughout the election and legitimized them. It is precisely why we do not have gender equality and why America does not and most likely will not have a female President in the foreseeable future. Sad!

Link to Vanessa Hua's Article:
Frederick Douglas and Writing the Resistance.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Giants

tall and stupid
they carry on
oh how some wish
they be gone!
stumbling
bumbling fools
brandishing fists
admonishing, astonishing
crushing us all

hour after hour
they stand tall
egos rising above them all
stumbling
bumbling fools
brandishing fists
admonishing, astonishing
crushing us all

the little people
they yell and holla
"they're here to make us great 'n' talla!"
silly, angry little people
stop, look and see
stumbling
bumbling fools
brandishing fists
admonishing, astonishing
crushing us all

stop! stop! pay attention all!
crush the fools
reject it all
don't sing along with those
stumbling
bumbling fools
brandishing fists
admonishing, astonishing
crushing us all

The gates of hate
hold the enemy inside
the closed minds
trap you and hide
it's how the tall
stumbling
bumbling fools
brandishing fists
admonishing, astonishing
crush us all

the giants remain
in spite of our call
stop! stop! these
stumbling
bumbling fools
brandishing fists
admonishing, astonishing
crushing us all

The giants blame the little folk
ain't it all a flipping joke?
laugh'n harder, and louder
stumbling
bumbling fools
brandishing fists
admonishing, astonishing
They've crushed us all

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Invisible...

Introduction: This is a real experience that took place about 4 years ago, but it feels as real today as it did back then. I'm okay now -- Thankfully. I'm lucky. I have a low stress job that I enjoy; good friends; and a man who has stood by me through thick and thin for over 25 years. Churchill's black dog will never ever leave, but he can be kept at bay and even embraced. It's an on-going process keeping the black-dog at bay. Writing and running is my outlet.

No place to Hide

I get dressed donned in my tight denim skirt, denim tight sleeveless vest, leather boots and leather waistcoat, and holiday Christmas glitter nail polish. I'm pleased with my party get up as I look at myself in the full-length mirror, and I feel good -- sort of. But the slim figure, I feel, is slim due to my lack of appetite. A constant nausea -- a sense of loss fills my stomach instead of food. I eat because I must work and get through school. I must make an effort. I walk into the party.

People are laughing, talking, dancing and drinking... I head to the bar -- dutch courage. I often like this environment, but tonight is different. Very different. I feel alienated, aloof and detached. Funny, I've been feeling like this a lot these days. But here I am with no place to hide.

Snap out if I think. So I try. I walk up to two people I know. I walk up, smile (forced) and try to engage. After listening for a while (which feels like an eternity), I stop and glide away. I feel invisible. No, I AM invisible. It's not my imagination. "Have another drink. Maybe you're just not relaxed", says an inner not so convincing voice of the rational.

I try again. It's no good. I'm invisible yet I feel exposed with no place to hide. I leave and the door closes quietly behind me. I feels like it's the only thing that will know I've left.

I can't wait to get back to the apartment. Home hasn't even been that sweet either. My marriage was suffering -- buckling under the weight of depression. I'm working hard to hide my darkness from the light of day. I get to the apartment lobby and in full view of the enormous window exposing myself to the night, I sit and cry... I try to text a friend, but can't see the words I type... I abandon the text. I climb the stairs, enter our apartment, shower and quietly go to bed... My husband doesn't stir. I lay in the dark both metaphorically and literally...

Getting ready is now the best part of a party... But what's the point when I leave feeling worse and more depressed than before. I want to sleep and not wake up. Sad, but true. It's true what they say; loneliness is often felt more in a crowd than alone. All is not lost and I slowly plan to work towards a full recovery.

Another door closes, but stays just a little ajar in my life. I've opened the door to another life... I can now only participate in small groups at best, but really prefer one on one interactions with a close friend or partner. Priorities change. I find solitude in a long distance trail run. It's where I find peace, feel free from anxiety, alone, invisible, and with no place to hide...

The door is always ajar, but I work hard to keep the crack of light and to stop it closing completely. Depression is real, complex and multi-faceted. Don't ever ignore someone, or anyone for that matter. It can slam a door shut...

Adrenoverse
Adrenoverse

India: Palaces and Poverty

As we passed through the Silicon Valley of Delhi, the difference between the shimmering glass towers of Google and the abject poverty of the poor across the freeway was insultingly striking. Here, the 21st Century and the 16th century are merely separated by a freeway.

As we slowed to line up at the toll gates, disheveled figures appeared from nowhere like apparitions gliding up to the windows of waiting trucks, buses, and cars. A figure taps on our car window pointing to a bundle of rags holding a baby. I observe how occupants in the other vehicles react to the now plentiful number of beggars. I'm struck by how the occupants of the cars behave when approached by these beggars. They act oblivious to this spectacle and treat the people as if they are invisible. The scene is wretched and pathetic. We only have large bills -- no small rupees to hand out. I look down and try to avoid eye contact like everyone else. I'm uncomfortable, guilty, and sad. The window-tapping figure eventually moves on to the next car.

At the time, I was ignorant of much of the uncomfortable truth behind the notorious amount of begging in India. According to various human rights organizations and UNICEF, begging is often run by organized crime and it is advised never to give money. This is much easier said than practiced when a young "mother" is pleading for money for milk, but giving is actually the very worst thing you can do because it does nothing but perpetuate the problem of what has been described as human trafficking. Apparently, the babies are often rented out and even drugged to give the listless appearance of the child which often garners more money. The money is then shared between the beggar and the person renting out the baby. This and many other scams are the ugly sides of what is a truly magnificent country. Nevertheless, underlying poverty is the driver of such exploitation of children.

I'm left unable to reconcile this abject poverty with the immeasurable wealth of this country. Corporate giants, temples and palaces adorned with fine marble and gold shine in the faces of the poor and destitute destined to a hash life by no other reason than by accident of birth that places them into a low caste. Although the caste system was outlawed by secular India, the system is firmly ingrained within peoples' minds and still practiced. However, India is evolving and the caste system is heavily criticized among religious reformers. The government has anti-discrimination laws that are designed to protect the lower casts from discrimination.

As we drive through some poor areas, people are cooking on make-shift kerosene stoves, and children running around barefooted (but not unhealthy looking). I observe people at water-pumps at the end of the street washing clothes, bathing and collecting water. Stray cows, goats, boar, pigs and dogs, graze on rubbish from the markets. Nothing goes to waste. We see a bunch of cow dung formed into neat little piles of flattened patties baking in the sun. Our driver explains that cow patties are collected, dried and used for fuel. One has to admire the resourcefulness of people in this country. However, the resourcefulness is borne out of necessity rather than social conscience. Our driver, Sherma explains that the problem of poverty and high birth-rates among the poor is attributed to no access or very little access to education. In the cities, the working and middle-class see education as the single most pressing factor to a "good life."

Our driver continues to explain how people, including himself, work themselves into the ground to secure their children a good education -- often one their parents never had. I feel hopeful that this attitude is how India will continue to evolve and become less economically polarized. Unlike the drive from Delhi to Jaipur, the progressiveness that India aspires to will take far longer. But like the journey to Jaipur, they will get there.

Research:

"Organized begging is one of the most visible forms of human trafficking—and it's largely financed and enabled by good-hearted people who just want to help."

Slate Article: Keep the change

Child Labor and UNICEF in action report

A detailed report of begging by the Delhi government. Stats and figures show at least 20% of child beggars are coerced.

Begging for a Childhood - Analysis of child begging in Delhi