Friday, December 21, 2007


who has them? particularly on "living the love which Jesus spoke about" - from a recent post of mine.

I wondered what it would mean to define ourselves as "seeking to live out the love which Jesus spoke of" (paraphrasing Jeanne)

and, in the comments, the question was raised, to paraphrase,

Well, doesn't EVERYONE seek to do that? Can't we claim that we've actually experienced it? (done it?) Don't we have something more special to offer the world? (evidence that it's possible?)

Freaked me out.

I'm still not sure what to say about it.

I'd like to say that my first reaction was excitement that that's true of Quakerism - not only do we seek to live in that love, but we actually, as a whole, do it. Heck, I'd be excited to think that everyone else is trying to. That hasn't really been my experience.

So, really, my frist reaction was SCARY CHRISTIAN! (note: the commenter is a friend of mine and member of my home meeting, and I can attest is not scary in the least) I have a visceral, unhappy reaction, to any implication that anyone has some special "in" with Jesus, or especially with LOVE, especially me, or my group.

Also, and I think I've said this before, I've met a few people who actually do, in my experience, live in and radiate that sort of love, and they're all Catholic, or at least were for most of their lives.

I'm not making some giant statement that Catholicism is the way. They're also all women, and I believe that sort of light is available to men, too.

And, in spite of this repeated experience, I'm not Catholic. I'm just not. Much like I'm not straight, even though most of the relationships I would like to emulate are heterosexual ones.

That doesn't mean that I have to be straight to find true love, it does mean that a lot more people are straight, so it's more likely the good relationships I see will be straight (the worst ones I've seen have been straight too)

There are lots more Catholics than Quakers, too. And I don't even want to get into how easy it is to find Catholics who are NOT managing to be someone I'd want to emulate spiritually (or any other way)

So, back to the beginning, CAN we claim that we know it's possible? that we've done it?

I don't know. I think maybe I've done it in tiny moments here and there throughout my life, but now, it's not my general state of being.

As for Quakerism, I've found that it offers ME more of an opportunity to tap into that love, or to nurture it, than anything else I've tried.

But a huge part of my (universalist) quaker experience is standing in awe of how many paths there are to it, how many guises it takes, and how true one can be for someone else while being the worst fit in the world for me.

So, for me, I SEEK, I don't really claim to have found or accomplished much. But the seeking is important, and the moments where it works out are amazing.

And I love quakers, but I'm not exactly blown away by our superior level of spiritual evolution or anything. I expect us to be flawed, and I'm not all that disappointed in that expectation.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Both of the people I know who killed themselves did it in November. Tonight is the sixth anniversary of my cousin's suicide.

I feel like it's hitting me harder than I remember it doing in years past...

My friend Kate who is adopting an older kid tells me that they warn you that your kid may "act out" on anniversaries of significant/bad things, without even knowing it.

Yup, it feels sorta like that, except I'm not really acting out, more folding up.

God, it sucks.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Love as Testimony

I just got a new comment on a post from last February, good thing I turned on notification for those things, or I'd never have seen it.

Allison (whose blog looks really interesting) asks what I've been thinking since about love as a testimony.

I wrote something the next day, about love being the soil that the testimonies grow out of, which I think is more to the point.

But I'm still frustrated that it's not what we talk about. Jeanne wrote, in a recent post about class, "I think it's fair to say that all Friends seek to live out the kind of love Jesus spoke about." in the context of what we're motivated by, and striving for, when we choose to tussle with the issue of class.

Maybe I'm only frustrated with myself. When people who don't know anything about Quakers ask me about it, I go on about waiting in silence, being moved by the spirit, that of god in everyone, what canst thou say, simplicity, equality, integrity, peace (community doesn't seem to be a testimony in my community! - or at least didn't make the list) what if I just said, "Friends seek to live out the kind of love Jesus spoke about"?


I mean, aside from sounding more Christocentric than I'd prefer (while not actually being so. Doing something Jesus talked about is totally different from what most people think of as "christian" and what I resist about it - accpeting that he was in some way supernatural)

but aside from that, it sounds freaky, mushy, hippy-dippy, new age, flaky or something.

Why does LOVE sound like that? It's so basic, so essential, like dirt, necessary to life, to growth, unassuming at its best....

Do They Know It's Christmas?

So, now two of my 5 radio presets in my car are playing xmas music 24/7. One has been since early november, and I'm already pretty sick of it.

But I still scan through them on my way to work, and usually stop if one is playing
"Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band Aid.

The song was released at the end of 1984, right before I turned 16, and is perfectly dramatic and bleeding-heart-ish for where I was then in my life. I still love it, in a weird nostalgic way.

The lyrics, however, are just ludicrous. I'm embarassed by them. I mean, the name for one thing. "Do they know it's Christmas?" - Well, some of "them" are christian, and certainly know. Some of them aren't, and for them it's NOT. A more appropriate question might be do WE know it's not Christmas for everyone? And should people have enough to eat even if it's NOT Christmas?

And then the "there won't be snow in Africa" - well, actually, there most likely was, some places in Africa. There are some dang high mountains over there, from what I hear. I bet there's snow on at least some of them. But more to the point, who the hell cares about snow? Yeah, that's what starving people are missing out on, snow. Poor things.

I know, poetic license and all that. It sounds good, and was very moving. Sold a lot of records, made a lot of money, which I heard didn't actually help the situation all that much. (as famine is almost always political, rather than due to actual lack of resources anyway)

So I guess it just got me back into thinking about charity and how we see our relationship to the world. The song is so much about guilt because we have and others don't, but also, in this weird way, about how we're better than them (we, after all, know it's christmas, and we have snow to boot)

I'm all for a sense of justice - a sense that something is wrong when we have a huge excess and others are suffering from want, but guilt is different, somehow, I don't like it. And the idea that people are starving because they're missing something that "we" "get" is just offensive.

But the song still moves me. Nostalgia? Poetry? Still caught up in my western world white guilt? Yeah....

*edit* link to youtube video, courtesy of Martin, Thanks!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sad - Missing my co-op

Yesterday was North Country's last day open. I went there in the early evening. I'd been meaning to all week, but this stuff does get put off....

I was amazed at how sad I was. I've known this was coming for ages. Even officially. They announced they were closing a while ago. When the New Riv closed I found out cause I planned on going to lunch there that day. Much more of a shock (but also a long time coming..)

I'm mad that it didn't work, and yet I was part of it not working too. I haven't done my grocery shopping there in ages. It's a little further away than Seward Co-op, maybe a mile, and just that little bit harder to get to (at a weird intersection, with very little parking, sort of trapped between two highways and the river) In addition it sort of never had critical mass, or something. The produce wasn't as good, because it didn't have the level of turnover the other coops do, and so fewer of us bought it, making the turnover even worse.

I miss the community-ness of it. From the handpainted wooden signs which retained a little of the old co-op feel, to the signs salvaged from other closed co-ops that they saved, a bit of history. I wonder where they'll go now.

I know when I was more involved there was a sense of an "in" group. Working members and board members, lots of people who knew each other and were excited to chat when we saw each other. I think that created sort of an "out group" feeling for lots of people, and have heard that was part of what was alienating. Many of us would rather go somewhere where no one has much of a connection (though regulars will often know some of the cashiers, or whatever, anywhere), but it makes me really sad.

I got interviewed, along with lots of other people, for a west bank (the neighborhood) history project. I'll be interested to see that when it's up (I think it will be a website, I'll link to it) - I don't feel very articulate, but it was actually suprisingly healing to talk to this unknown young woman about my history of the place, and what it's meant to me.

Afterwards I swung by Seward Co-op on the way home. It's beautiful, with abundant, lovely produce as you walk in the door, lots of stuff, lots of lights, marketing endcaps. They're doing it "right". So right, in fact, that they're in the process of moving down the street to a much bigger place. The large parking lot is often filled, and the lines are getting long.

And they exist because in 1973 or whenever North Country was getting too big and needed to spin off another co-op. Weird.

I love Seward too, but it felt sort of soulless. I resented it, sort of like when my old dog, Patches, died, I resented my younger dogs, just for not being her, really. How could they ever compare?

I guess they won't. Something real is lost, and something else continues on.

Friday, November 02, 2007

what privilege do you have?

From Jeanne, who often rocks my world

Father went to college
Father finished college
Mother went to college
Mother finished college

Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor
Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
Had more than 50 books in your childhood home

Had more than 500 books in your childhood home (I don't know, I think so?)
Were read children's books by a parent
Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18

Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
Had to take out less than $5000 in student loans in order to go to college
Didn't need student loans to go to college out of high school
Went to a private high school
Went to summer camp
(a YMCA one, but still)
Had a private tutor before you turned 18
Family vacations involved staying at hotels (occasionally, when I was young)
Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18 (I adored hand-me-downs, but I didn't need them)
Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
There was original art in your house when you were a child
Had a phone in your room before you turned 18
You and your family lived in a single family house
Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
You had your own room as a child
Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course (in order to wangle the scholarship that allowed me to go to college without student loans)
Had your own TV in your room in High School
Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
Went on a cruise with your family
Went on more than one cruise with your family
Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family
(true, but we also couldn't always pay them)

Wow, I figured I'd have a lot bolded, but this is particularly a lot.

Of course this list is flawed, or at least incomplete.

Someone else somewhere mentioned that it doesn't ask if you went to, or finished college, if you worked your ass off not to have college loans, or took 8 years to do it cause you were working full time...

I went to a private (Friends) high school, but in grade 4-5 I went to public school, where my compatriots were much richer, one of my classmates was the FDR's granddaughter. Bill and Hilary Clinton bought a house in that suburb when they went to New York. So if I'd graduated from that public high school, would I have less privilege? I don't think so. The most working class school I went to was Catholic, not public. I'm not sure if that would have been "private" or not.

Also, in my experience having a tv or phone in your room was a status symbol of much greater interest to my working class friends. I'm pretty sure my best friend, who was clearly more "working class" than me had both of these well before I did. She had a greater awareness of them as status symbols, and to some extent it was easier for her family to provide those than, say, a college fund.

Also, lots of my wealthier friends had hand me down cars. Getting your parent's 4 year old audi when they get a new one certainly isn't less privileged than getting a 10 year old junker that's new to your family cause your parents aren't done with their 10 year old junker yet :)

And original art. My grandma's house had tons of stuff that she'd made, perhaps falling in the category of crafts ratehr than art, but how do we count that? we had *my* original art, from middle school art classe, on the walls :)

Which actually reminds me of a conversation I had with Jeanne about grade school classes. I left my main room for art, gym, music, and I think science in grade school. I think she said they didn't leave for any of those. That's a difference I had no clue about, I thought all kids did that. Though I know those programs are getting gobbled up in public schools these days, I thought they were alive and well everywhere in the 70s.

Oh, PS, I'm not tagging anyone, but I'd love to see lots of people do this.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It never goes away

Speaking of mourning, tomorrow (or the next day, I don't remember dates well) is the anniversary of a dear friend's suicide. It's been two years.

I've stopped forgetting and thinking I can call her, or we should really hang out.... mostly.

I met her when I was 22 and she was, I think, 10. I was with my new girlfriend at her lake cabin, and Marina was a family friend. I remember a motor boat ride in which all she said, pretty much, was, "you guys are so weird!", repeatedly - and she was clearly thrilled with our weirdness.

We would hang out together at family gatherings, the three of us, never terribly interested in "adult" conversation, even once we were all clearly adults.

Perhaps the last family gathering was a weekend at an inn, we all went for a walk in the woods and M and I ran ahead and tried to make things that looked like animal tracks in the snow, and then ran back to try to convince other people that some strange animal had been there before us (it just recently occurred to me that our own tracks were all around these, oops)

She also made snow angels with me, and tromped across a frozen lake with me when everyone else was inside watching sports or something.

That girlfriend and I broke up, and didn't talk for a number of years. Marina was key in getting us to be friends again. At one point she told me we had to talk because she was sick of feeling like she was from a broken home. Shortly thereafter, she got me to volunteer to stuff envelopes for the league of pissed off voters, right before the 2004 election, and then at the last moment slipped in. "oh, Sarah might be there for part of the time, that won't be a problem, will it?" She was a brilliant conniver sometimes.

I knew she was having a lot of trouble, I always felt completely at a loss as to what to do. She generally seemed pretty happy when I saw her, so it was hard to recognize how hard it all was. (I, on the other hand, mope at the drop of a hat). I wish I had been a better friend, called her more, perhaps even challenged her more to fight it, to value herself, I don't know. I think she had some pretty vicious demons.

This is a really old photo of us - maybe ten years ago.

North Country Co-op is closing

I'm sure most people who know what I'm talking about already know this, but it's a thing in my life I need to talk about anyways...

The co-op has been around, apparently, for 37 years, just a little less long that myself. I think it's the oldest co-op in the Twin Cities, at the very least the oldest surviving one (for a few more days)

It was the last collectively run co-op left from the early days. Though I think it's had a general manager for the last few years. A friend pointed out at one point that in a way the fact that this didn't save it was a vindication of collective management. I guess so.

I used to work at the New Riverside Cafe, down the street. Another collective that never really seemed to have it together. North Country was like a role model - they actually managed to pay themselves significantly above (like twice!) minimum wage, a long term goal for us that we never reached while I was there...

I'm not sure what all happened. A forced move in about 2000 certainly didn't help things. North Country was maybe the only place that might have been able to pull off the tiny-store-with-wood-floors-and-wood-bins thing long term, but they lost the store and had to grow or die, for sort of unusual reasons.

I'm much more sad than I'd be if any of the other co-ops closed, though Hampden Park would be close, and none of the others seem to be in danger of it.

North Country, for a long time, retained so many of the old hippie co-op values, I guess. The co-op itself would participate in boycotts if they found the issue important enough, and put an emphasis on community building, education, and so one, even when it didn't help them market anything (take note, idealism can make life hard, damn) - They were one of the few co-ops left with a working member program (now hampden park will be the only one) - they're not very efficient, but such an important part of creating community. Oh well, strike one for efficiency I guess.

I guess I'm mourning, more than I expected.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The hard way

I biked the first 3 or 4 miles of my 8 miles bikeride to work this morning with my back tire rubbing against the frame.

For the first mile or two I just thought, wow, this is really hard, I must be really out of shape, or having extra trouble adjusting to the colder weather (at the beginning of winter I always go much slower for a bit - harder to breathe colder air, or something) but eventually I figured out my wheel was rubbing. My first instinct was to try to just go with it and fix it at work (I have an irrational aversion to stopping, even if it will make things much easier and faster in the "long run")

But eventually I stopped, and sort of wiggled things around and thought I'd fixed it. It worked for a bit, but then would get bad again. I went maybe another two miles like this, "fixing" it another 2 or 3 times.

Eventually I figured out that I actually needed to tighten the wheel. I don't know if someone had tried to steal it or what, but it was just pretty much wobbling around. oops.

It was AMAZING how easy it seemed to bike after that. Almost miraculous, and so simple, yet requiring a choice and some focused attention.

So I'm wondering what else in my life is like that - spiritually, emotionally, that I'm avoiding looking at because I don't want to slow down or stop for that long, or that I'm not paying careful attention to, but addressing in a slapdash fashion that won't hold for long. I'd love to have that sort of breakthrough - there are plenty of things that feel that hard emotionally and spiritually in my life.

But I don't seem to be able to find what's dragging me down.

Monday, October 29, 2007

What have you done?

Sort of fun, borrowed from Robin

What shocks me the most is how many of these I'm not sure about. Sometimes because I've seen it on TV or read about it, and it's sort of a shock that I havent' ever, say, actually been in a hot air balloon...

Also, I've taken a bath with someone (a couple someones actually, though not at the same time!) and had romantic candlelit things with someone, but at the same time? I'm not sure...

What have you done?

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink (I don't drink, sigh, I guess that would be extra generous)
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain (how much of a mountain?)
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive (I've never taken a new car for a test drive)
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris (Rome?)
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea (in the desert, from an airplane, it was very cool)
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game (and survived the crush afterwards)
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb (baby racoons)
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run (probably in my back yard when I was a kid)
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk. (not drunk, on LSD though)
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe.
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing

49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater

66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken (sigh)
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced (broke up after 9 years, but not divorced)
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone (well, I lived with my parents growing up..)
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship (not a cruise ship, but taken a boat from Stockholm to Leningrad, back when it was Leningrad)
94. Spoken more than one language fluently (not close to fluently, but I can bumble in 4 languages)
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour (only to the next stop)
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart (I don't think so)
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone (sorta)
114. Gone on an African photo safari (I keep thinking this says "potato safari")
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse

119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school

131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey

135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read (they're all important)
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (do clams count?)
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care (nursing home)
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Food Ethics

So, I'm reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and generally really liking it, though I could do without the input of the husband (mostly stuff I already know) and the daughter (who seems like lovely teenager, but I don't generally read things by random lovely teenagers, or adults for that matter)

Anyway, I'm finally at that part of the book that always (in, say, The Omnivores Dilemma, for example) makes me cringe and want to stop reading.

The "why I am not a vegetarian" chapter -which seems to, maybe only to my oversensitized ears, skate dangerous close to, "how vegetarians are misguided and/or kinda stupid" chapter.


But anyways, it's particularly weird because I'm falling more and more into sympathy with her way of thinking. It's seeming less and less likely that I will be as pure a vegetarian (or one at all) as I have been for the rest of my life.

I even ate a bite of "walleye cake" at the state fair last summer, and the last bites of some free-range chicken that no one else was gonna finish, just to try, maybe just to de-purify myself, or see if I'd get smote by lightening.

Thinking more holistically about food, I have to wonder about eating canned or frozen seitan or packaged and shipped tofu, rather than a locally raised and slaughtered chicken. It's not as clear a choice as it used to seem. Certainly I could eat local and vegan (I've never managed vegan anyway) in theory, but I don't, and I think it might be beyond me realistically, and I do, after all, have to live in reality.

But, man, she tried my patience. She makes some really good points: like not all meat is factory farmed (and her family actually eschews factory farmed meat, opting for the vegetarian option in restaurants, for example, and eating only meat they "know" or at least know more about..) And like the fact that the figures about how much more land you need to produce meat instead of soybeans or whatever are based on a certain system (granted, the system that produces the vast majority of the meat in the US) - and that nomads herding goats in desert landscapes are actually making the most efficient use of the resources available. They would die if they tried to live there on local corn and soybeans.

BUT, mostly I freaking felt like I was back in college arguing with smartass boys who were really only all about defending their right to never have to change anything, or even suffer a twinge of conscience.

OF COURSE eating goat meat if you're a desert nomad makes sense (AND, it has pretty much absolutely zero to do with the food choices of the vast, vast, vast majority of people who will ever even hear of her book)

OF COURSE if we just turned all the farm animals currently alive loose to "survive in the wild" it would be a mess (seriously, if I didn't already have the impression this was an intelligent woman, well I don't know, I'm shocked)

At one point she goes off on vegetarian food grown with GMOs and pesticides, as compared to organically raised free range animals. Right before she berates vegetarians for doing basically the same thing in reverse (except less so)

(Just in case she gets to it, too, I realize eskimos can't live on local tomatoes year round, and I also realize that other animals eat meat - just trying to remember the idiotic arguments I've heard that have nothing to do with the actual lives of the people making them)

She has some weird riff on some famous vegan who apparently wants to have a farm where animals can live out their lives and die natural deaths. Yes, I am at the point where this seems a little odd to me, and yet I don't imagine that this famous vegan would actually, as Ms. Kingsolver proposes, gather up all the eggs her chickens lay and incubate them into more chickens, at which point she would be overrun. It is possible to not kill chickens OR put energy into breeding more. sigh.

So now I'm annoyed. I want to go vegan just to spite her. Why resort to the old moronic arguments when there are plenty of decent ones? Like that a farm as a whole, living system, just possibly works a lot better and makes more sense with animals integrated into it, or that death is part of life and we really need to get over ourselves, or that vegetarians who eat milk and or eggs (like me) are just hypocrites and living in a dream world, especially in a system where the relatively useless males of the species often aren't even used for meat, but simply thrown away (at least with chickens, who are so specialized that you wouldn't raise and eat a layer - as far as I know, nor would you eat or sell eggs from a broiler - heirloom breeds that are useful for both make a lot more sense, though I don't even know how I would find eggs from those chickens, I don't know if anyone in my area raises them.

I would totally go back to eating (some) meat if I could manage to kill it myself. I'm there ethically, I may just be too squeamish, or tenderheartedly in denial. How many of my other food choices am I still effectively in denial about? Lots, I think. damn.

Friday, October 12, 2007

My Dog is so cute - pure fluff

There's not even a story, I just came across this old photo (almost a year) and Maddy, the little one, was so little. She's about as long as Jordan now, but still significantly shorter.

Oh, and she chews up everything in sight now, including the other dogs. I'm surprised to see an intact leash in this photo, I'd forgotten what they look like!
Playing in the water a few weeks ago:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What a day

A weird combination, not nearly as exciting as I made it sound.

I went to a thingy on employment law with my boss. It was pretty informative but generally comging from the perspective of trying to figure out how not to give employee things. I mean, that's unfair, a lot of it was actually, "treat your employees fairly and you won't get into trouble" - but other parts still made me flinch every now and then. I've never been around so many lawyers at once, it was freaky.

On the way home I decided to bike by the empty space where the 35W bridge used to be. I still hadn't seen it, more than two months later. It's all cleaned up now - just missing a bridge. And you still can't bike along the river near it. And the 10th Ave bridge, which parrallels it and was closed for a good long while is totally backed up wiht rush hour traffic, ugh. It's so weird how small the river looks. Most of the span was over land, which somehow made me even more surprised that so few people died. Nothing to cushion that huge fall. It was a little eerie but mostly empty feeling. strange. I so wanted to get more caught up in that drama than I did. It was like too freaky and too distant to process, somehow.

I practiced mandolin notes, but have yet to set up a lesson. I love it, though it goes out of tune it seems every day, and needs to be retuned. A good lesson in constant listening and regrouping.

Oh, and I got carded! I haven't been carded in a decade! I must be extra youthful, or immature today.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Putting Food on the table, what do we need?

This came up on Jeanne's blog too, in a comment, that working class folk can be too concerned about "putting food on the table" - to the point of not valuing the arts, social action, and various things that won't, "put food on the table"

One of the weird things is, that it's not usually really about food. Most people who are making decisions about what sort of education to pursue, for example, have enough that they're not in a position to really worry about whether they will have food. It may really be more questions like, can we have a car? a good car? an annual vacation? more than one?

I'm not denying that people in the US (and goodness knows, elsewhere!) have to worry about having food - just that lots more talk in those terms than actually have that problem.

I just read an essay in The Case Against the Global Economy about folks in some remote village/country/culture, who used to be very self sufficient, proud, and assured that none of them are poor, having been introduced to western values and systems, now despair of their poverty, and are unwilling to do much to help themselves. I think it's a pretty common story. People who used to work togetehr, grow their own food, build their own houses, and think that they had enough, were even blessed with abundance, get electricity and TV and western "jobs", and all of a sudden they are terribly poor, and ashamed of where they have come from.

I just bought a new computer, I dont' really need one, but I do like to email people, play around online, be able to look up recipes and blog and post my photos - since I now have only a digital camera and never get photos printed when I have film anyway.....

But I obviously, clearly, don't need that stuff.

Plus, I went with a friend who likes this stuff more than me (she doesn't blog, or play around online as much as me as far as I can tell, but she likes gadgets more.) and she and the salesguy were just on a roll together - you need the latest because the old ones can't do this and that, videoconferencing, yada yada. I don't want to do any of that stuff, and I dont' really want to be tempted to do that stuff, but on the other hand, if you get an old one with a small amount of memory, you may not even be able to open some websites, or do basic things, as even the basics get jazzier and jazzier. I want it to stop, and it won't, and I don't have the guts or the wherewithal (apparently) to just jump off... I bought the new one, though a low end model. blah.

And there are things I question needing which I have much better justification for - my house, health insurance, a car (!)

I wonder what it would be like to decide I don't need those, to find another way. The house I'm most determined about, though it's the greatest expense. Plus there is plenty else to look at before that even becomes a reasonable idea (all the crap IN the house, for starters...)

I fantasize about a quaker community/commune - growing our own food, having some simple, sustainable, needed business. Maybe it woudlnt' need to be quaker. I've been drawn to Eastwind, which makes peanut butter, and which has been most in front of my face over the years because I eat their peanut butter, but I don't know. I have never even visited.

And I don't want a bunch of other weirdos to go off and play in the forest with, I want a revolution, all over.

I want to see air travel fall off immensely, and car travel. I want to live in a world where people know the names of almost everyone they see all day (not because they're isolated and only see three people, but because they're in a vibrant community) I want to live in a world where work that doesn't need to be done (making crappy clothes, or stupid plastic toys, for example) just doesnt' get done, and we do something meaningful, or at least fun or relaxing, with that time.

I'm not sure how it relates to class, but how we think about what exaclty we need seems crucial, and how much we need to have before we have enough to share. In my experience the more people have, the farther away that figure is from where they are right now.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Class Stuff

Jeanne has some interesting new posts about quakers and class, and particularly education. Martin made an excellent comment on the latest one about feeling pity for those of us who put emphasis on status and education, rather than really following Jesus' example of hanging out with the grubby.

I'm finding, also, that I'm running up against a disconnect about financial privilege and, maybe intellectual snobbery. They can be related, and they're both important issues, but in some ways they're very seperate. I think it's important not to lose sight of either.

As far as economic justice, there is so much to say, and I'm almost lost. I imagine all sorts of radical (at the roots) changes, a real spiritual revolution, not just in wealth distribution, but in thinking about what we need, and what we have to share just to be ethical. I think Quakers try, but from what I can see, it's so focused on buying the right things (organic food, priuses) without quesitoning the model (what if we grow our own food? bike everywhere? carpool?) - not entirely, but enough to be frustrating.

And the thing is, we so can't do it alone.

I grow some greens and tomatoes in my little front yard, there are increments, but I'm not going to, and don't even want to, be the hero of a revolution. How revoluntionary woudl that be? a revolution without special heroes.....

I don't claim any superiority here. I just gave up and ordered clothes from Old Navy for work, ugh.

As far as other class stuff. I think of it as cultural, and related to racial and other divisions in our meetings.... I'm not sure what to do. I joked over email with Jeanne once, when talking about the food at potlucks (how it's often so weird for a working class person (and plenty of others) - that I fear a time when we all bring beer and pork rinds (didn't George HW Bush love those? maybe, gasp, my stereotype is off) to potlucks in the name of "cultural sensitivity" but not move forward in any real way.

What's the difference between trying to be something we're just not? (me, a vegetarian, bringing porkrinds to potluck because I hope it will make someone feel more welcome) and the, for lack of a better word, real issues?

Not only, why are we all impressed when a kid in our meeting goes to an ivy league college, but not if they go to trade school, or start working? How much do we pay attention to that and overlook the chance to celebrate how well they're living into their light?

And what about all the kids who can't go to ivy league schools, even if they're smarter than our kids (gasp!) - because they didn't ever have a shot at that sort of education?

What about, for that matter, the existence of quaker schools? It seems to me possibly unquaker to send your kid to one. I mean, I dunno. I went to one, and I think I might well have been eaten alive at my local public school (an idea that some of my teachers, sadly, promoted, and which I've heard from kids at my meeting who go to quaker school as well) but if all children are god's, why can we give some of ours an "out" - rather than committing to public schools and working as hard as we have to to make them places we'd be proud to have our kids go (and bringing all the other kids along with us, hopefully)

What if we really saw ourselves as inherently connected to each other? including our garbage haulers, and the gang members in our cities? (different groups I know, and I don't mean to imply garbage haulers are criminals, I've just never seen representatives of either at meeting) what would that be like?


I had honey in my coffee this morning. Funny, cause it's motivated by wanting to "eat local" - but that's pretty much an impossibility with cofee and me. I'm not even sure I want/"need" coffee in my life, but sometimes I really do like it.

And I'm justifying it ala Barbara Kingsolver, who drinks shade grown coffee almost as a form of activism (my words, not hers) as it allows the trees to stay standing. And, if they had to switch to another crop to make money, they wouldn't. Hmmm

But anyway, honey in coffee is kinda weird, but also good.

I went swimming yesterday, and it was REALLY NICE. I've been lake swimming on Oct. 7th in Minneapolis once before, but then calling it swimming is definitely a stretch. I ran into the water, dunked my head, and ran out. Yesterday I actually got to swim around, it was chilly, but lovely, "brisk" and "refreshing" were the favorite adjectives of my few compatriots.

I didn't go to my regular lake. Well, I drove there, but there weren't many cars around, and it's very isolated, and I was alone and apparently a woman was raped there this summer. So anyway, I chose not to, which makes me sad, not feeling safe in one of my favorite places, but such is life.

I went to my old favorite beach, which used to be the quasi-illegal beach. I already would feel safer there as it's less isolated, and likely to be more populated, but I hadn't been there in over a year, and they've cut down all this brush and there's a lifeguard stand and buoys now. The folks there tell me "the peculiar people still come" so it's not so bad, and the lifeguard doesnt' even stop you from swimming out past the buoys, which is the most important thing. Still, I was sad to see it so well groomed....

it improved my mood immensely. I will miss being able to swim.

Monday, October 01, 2007

It's World Vegetarian Day

I think that's a little gimmicky and annoying, but also sorta cool. I find it alternately amusing and annoying that every day is a "holiday" about something now - carrot day, egg day, monster truck day, whatever. It's probably also world side of beef day, knowing how ironic the universe can be.

Or not. In a way it's a good idea - like the great american smokeout or whatever (do they still do that?) I wonder if it works.

I would have tried to be vegan today (and I can still try for the rest of the day, or week) but I didn't find out until I got to work and I had a bagel with (local, organic) cream cheese on the way here.

After 21 years of eating vegetarian, I am getting less and less comfortable with the absolutism of it. Plus I have a crush on a meat eater. (dang)

But it seems like almost everyone has a much easier time quitting something all together than cutting back, or simply paying attention - at least AA thinks so.

There are lots of great reasons to be a vegetarian, or at least eat that way more often - it can be better for you (but maybe only if you switch from a bad meat diet to a pretty good veg one, which is actually sorta what I did - at least a better one), it's obviously better for animals (esp if you weren't eating exclusively sustainably, humanely raised animals), and it seems to me quite reasonable that it's better in terms of world hunger and the environment.

But really, we only need to radically reduce meat eating to attain most of those things (be able to have earth-friendly, small scale farms, where hopefully the animals get a fair shake) - It would be MUCH better all around if everyone switched to eating meat once a week than if a few people go totally vegan.

But, as that's not happening quite yet, I suppose I think of it as making up a little bit for someone who's not thinking about it (which is still most people, I think)

For whatever reason I was thinking about it this morning, about how I wish I had more people in my life who understand why I do it and respect that, but DON'T think I'm better than them or something, or that I think I am. It's surprisingly infrequent to find that.

Monday, September 24, 2007

random updates

*** I got a Mandolin on Saturday. I've never played an instrument, tried guitar at about age 12, but gave up almost immediately. I'm really excited, and also feeling totally lost. I dont' read music at all, so it's an interesting challenge. I just emailed about lessons, eeek!

*** I still have a crush, on the same person, but haven't done a thing about it, except eaten a lot. I thought this would be easy by the time I was this old (actually, I guess I used to think I'd be happily married)

*** I've been wanting to talk about sex with my sunday school class, but we've decided to just let it come up naturally. Yesterday it came up once when we needed to find a second teacher, even though there were only four kids there. They asked why, and I explained it's about dealing with the (hopefully remote) possibility of sexual molestation. It's very weird to sit there and say to 4 middle school girls, essentially, "we have to do this because there are people out there who want to hurt you, or at least kids like you" ick.

Also, discovered that one of my kids really hates sex ed class because she DOES NOT WANT TO KNOW what boys "go through" in relation to puberty.

Hopefully more and better opportunities will arise, and I/we won't make a complete mess of them :P

Some days I so identify.....

Friday, September 21, 2007

I've been taking lots of photos of myself (and often one or more critters with me) lately.

This is my favorite, even though Phoebe is actually trying to get away....

It's like part of trying to "find myself" or something.

How 70s

Thursday, September 13, 2007

slippery slopes

So, my friend just sent me this column about fish eating as a "slippery slope" back to wanton meat eating (for us vegetarian types)

It's been on my mind a lot lately. I've been vegetarian for almost 21 years (my vegetarianism can almost drink legally?) and, like the writer, have recently wondered if I "should" eat some fish, or even other meat.

A few weeks ago, at the state fair, I had a bite of said friend's walleye cake. It was good, but not the experience I was hoping for/dreading. I have felt a bit "off" and had wondered if eating dead animals would provide some nutritional miracle, make it all better, and then I would HAVE to, at least if I didn't want to be some sort of masochist.

But, no epiphany, phew!!!!

and the drama leading up to it was extreme, should I or shouldn't I? what am I getting into here? am I selling my soul? (well, not quite, but kinda) for kind of an anti climax when it came to it. If nothing else, I should probably do that sort of thing every now and then to remind myself I've never been or will be "pure"

I've discovered, in myself and my own life, that I make "rules" when I don't feel I have the time or energy to be radically present all the time, to function with integrity all the time.

At this point I don't think it would be "bad" to eat some animals, if they were raised humanely, in some sort of harmony with a reasonable eco-system (like a biodynamic farm), and if it happened pretty rarely (maybe once a month)

But currently, among other things (primarily my emotional trouble with the idea of killing an animal myself) I just don't think I have it in me to be that conscious. It's so easy to talk yourself into things, and this isn't that much worse than that, spiralling along until you have no "standards" at all.

I find I think if I lived a life in which I was always acutely attentive to "God", this wouldn't be a problem, but the prospect of the thing is more than daunting, somehow.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Hope and renewal.

My dogs chased a bald eagle at the dogpark yesterday.

It wasnt' in much danger. It was swooping back and forth across the river, and they running down the beach yapping at it crazily. Still, it thought it best to take a more focused path out of there.

It was pretty darn cool, actually, to see it pretty close like that.

Especially 'cause as a kid I thought I'd never see a bald eagle.

Now I see them fairly often, at least a number of time per year, often a few times a month in the summer.

Which gives me hope that if people actually care about something it can change.

But the pessimist in me reminds me how hard it can be to get people to care about things.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Golden Compass

Nancy recently blogged about Harry Potter and the whole "christian" hullaballooo about it, which seems to have died out since the days of the early books. I highly reccommend her post.

And, in the comments, "The Golden Compass" came up. I saw a preview for the movie when I went to see the last Harry Potter one.

A friend had recomended the book as I was reading the first Harry Potter - as somehow similar, but better. I suppose they're similar in that their protagonists are 12 years old, and they're fantasy, and maybe that they're about good and evil, but very different books.

Someone commenting on Nancy's blog remarked that this movie would create more of a stir, as the author is not a christian, and the story is most clearly anti-church.

I doubt it, partly because it's a much less popular series, partly because it's MUCH more likely to be too hard to read for many kids (I can't imagine anyone under ten, or maybe 14, being able to get through it)

It really helped explain some things, when I first read it. Things I already knew, but didn't know how to say to other people. There's a definite theme of there being something beyond our current understanding, but organized religion has it ALL wrong, and in a really dangerous way.

I highly recommend the series ("His Dark Materials") I'm re-reading them at the moment (third time, I think) and am, yet again, a bit blown away.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Quakers and class II


I just set up a google group for folks to talk about quakers and class. Jeanne has a new blog, and has apparently set up a group for working-class quakers.

This Google group is more broad. I had been thinking about an "allies" group, sort of restricted to folks who don't fit in Jeanne's group, but I'm thinking now more of a general discussion group, which working class folks are free to participate in, if they can stand the cluelessness (or potential cluelessness) of the rest of us :P

Monday, August 20, 2007

Resource Center of the Americas Closes


I found out this weekend that the Resource Center of the Americas has had to close its doors. I worked there until about a year ago, one of the places I felt most at home. And it's been a pillar of my community for much longer than that.

I'm not even sure what to say about it, except that it's a great loss. We did great work on education, activism, and general community building.

It's particularly sad in the face of all the stuff that's heating up about immigration recently (though I guess it's always been a big "issue"

I will really, seriously, miss that place (though I am happy to hear that some sort of volunteer-based version will live on, I'll have to check into that)


Friday, August 17, 2007


Zach has a recent post in which the comments have veered towards the validity of homeopathy and alternative medicine in general, and just now into the effectiveness of anti-depressents.

I've never been on them, but I've thought about them a lot.

I can tend to be a "down" sort of person. The last woman I dated was more of an optimist than I have ever known, and really brought this home to me. It was nice for me to have her perspective on things (she really saw the good in almost everything, it wasn't like she was saying something sweet and insipid about really bad situations, just that she really saw what there was to be excited about. It baffled me sometimes, but was really nice too) - I'm sure it was often less nice for her to have mine :)

And I know a lot of people who have taken them, at least for a while. Not least my mom, who I never really "processed" it about. But I remember my dog ate the bottle of valium from her purse when I was nine, and worrying about the dog - but why was my mom on valium? that didn't come til later. I think she was one whatever everyone ws on before that (something with an L?) and she was on paxil a few years ago (might still be, I'm not monitoring her nursing home meds as maybe I should be, but they took her off a lot of them when I moved her there, which I appreciated) - In any case, I can't imagine it helped. She's always been very negative and terribly anxious the whole time I've known her. Would it have actually been worse without drugs? yikes!

Two people I know who went on and off different drugs described it as like being under water, or seeing your emotions on the other side of a glass, but not being able to feel them.

But a friend of mine has tons of friends who are on them, and she says they feel their emotions just fine.

I have lost two people to suicide. Both were on drugs at some point, one was when it happened (she was actually IN a psych hospital when it happened, which pissed me off, can't they at least do THAT?) but they never got the mix "quite right" I guess.

My cousin had been on prozac (I think) and gone off it a while before. Various folks in my family pointed to that as THE PROBLEM. - Not that he was 33 and unemployed in a family where acheivement is important, or that he'd broken up with the love of his life a few years before (dumbass), or that it was a few months after 9/11 and he was volunteering every day at "ground zero" (well, actually, that was a popular notion too, I guess), or that he lived in a family where the best they can offer you for despair is prozac (I am convinced that if I or his ex had still been actively involved in his life it wouldn't have happened, a fact that doesn't eat at me as much as it used to.) Not to mention that he'd told me he'd decided that the way he eventually did it was the best way to kill yourself when we were teenagers.

I've had therapists suggest drugs, mostly when I was in a real downswing in my life breakup, lost job, right after Jon's suicide) - and I said "no" - but the one time I considered it I had to do SOMETHING, so I took St. John's Wort and vit. B (which I think is more important, now, for me) and stopped eating sugar, and the effects were pretty amazing. I was also getting a ton of exercise about then as I lived about 10 miles from where I mostly wanted to be, and didn't have a car, so I got a lot of biking in.

It also seems like for some people it is this amazing turn-around - from functioning to not functioning. And often I envy them. Someone told me once that a friend on Wellbutrin got super duper efficient and drove everyone nuts around him, but I thought, hey, maybe I could use that. Even if I wasn't less depressed, my house would be clean for once, right?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Quakers and Class

The topic has been coming up lately. Largely because my friend Jeanne attended the workshop on it at this year's gathering and has been profoundly moved (to action!) by it.

she has a guest post on Rich's Blog about it this week.

And we've had a few good coversations, always slightly forshortened, in real life and through email lately.

I find myself, unsurprisingly, not working class identified, but wanting to be an ally...... but not really sure how to do that (which I think is okay, and not optimal, I think recognizing the need to be an ally and admitting one's cluelessness are farther than many people ever get)

I have a sense of uneasiness about our material wealth as a community. Partly because as a person who tends towards the economically socialist in a way very tied into my quakerism, I'm more than a little shocked that quakers are so willing to get rich and stay rich in the face of such injustice in our society.

I've also become keenly aware of my own class biases and how well they fit into my quakerism. I was raised to be quite a snob, and averse to interacting with "those people" any more than necessary. My mother was one who offered drinks to men doing work on our house, but in special glasses that we never drank out of.

I was also raised to prefer natural fibers, imported cars, subtle makeup, flats over heels, a huge list of things that you just don't talk about in polite company (money, religion, sex, politics - which, even as a child brought me to think, "what's left?")

It's surprising how well this training fit my later life as a quaker (and a lesbian, but that's perhaps neither here nor there) - we talk about politics and religion, but that's easy, cause we share them. And, sadly, we talk about them (I have noticed) often in a VERY "us" vs. "them" sort of way (those silly people who believe creeds, those bad people who support the war - often party because they have kids over there.

Speaking of the war, I'm disturbed to see how good we are at "conscientious objectorship" (as a first day school teacher of young teens, I am keenly aware each year that part of taking attendance is laying groundwork so our kids can get out of military service because they're quaker - and I'm also aware that most 13 year old kids see this as a perk - not having to risk one's life - rather than as a deeply held moral conviction (which, granted, are just forming for most of us at 13)

I know some meetings and other quaker groups are working with the kids who get recruited (who needs the draft, after all, when economics in our country are so awful we have an effective draft of desperate kids with no other way to get an education or even nowhere else to go? - we have a sharecropper rather than a slave army now, what a solace!) But mostly, we don't (mine doesn't) - as quakers do we not care about those kids anymore? Are we failing to instill in our kids a horror of killing other people, rather than the easier horror of risking one's own life?

Anyway, back to class (the bigger picture) I really like what Rich wrote in his earlier post on this...

From Rich's 2005 post, with reference to why various sorts of working class folks are sorely underrepresented in our meetings:

It is not because Quakerism is a subtle, profound faith for intellectuals (it isn't).
It is not because working-class people are prejudiced against us.
It is not because working-class people are too busy to worship.
It is not because working-class people reject peace.
It is not because working-class people can't stand silence.
It is not because God wants it that way.

I'm also not terribly interested in "privilege guilt" - or guilt in general, these days. I don't want to sit around and bemoan how awful I am for growing up with the "right" sort of grammar, or that certain snobbery, I want to work on how to make friends (Friends?) across those often invisible but also often daunting lines. And I'm a little at a loss.

Amusingly, one of the things I've heard recently is that working class folks are much more likely to be about "getting things done" rather than talking about it ad infinitum - so here I am putting it out there in words that I have nearly no clue how to proceed in life

The Healing Power of Water

I went swimming last night, with my best swimming buddy, at my favorite lake, after a trying day in which I broke down crying a few times and had to call a few different friends to keep myself from floating away.

It's amazing how much it made everything all better. A sort of prayer, but with every cell of my body.

Monday, August 13, 2007


I painted my toenails this morning. I never do it very well. I think the average seven year old (who paints their toenails) is more careful about it than I.

They are navy blue. I think it kind of looks cool, and kind of makes me look like a corpse, which is not so cool. Oh well.

I don't know if I have anything deep to say. spiritually things are, maybe, the calm before the storm? (or the eye of the storm?) I feel a bit in limbo. Not catholic limbo (like people need to pray to get me out - though that might help) or the party game/dance - just stasis. It's weird, weird, weird.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

soft shelled

The other day I was walking my dogs by the river, and I guess it's really low right now, there was a huge expanse of sand exposed that is usually underwater, with lots of clams laying about on it - usually at the end of a trail-clam locomotion doesn't come up much in my life.

But, in walking out to explore, I accidentally stepped on one, and in just crunched under my foot. It had never occurred to me that their shells are so much softer and vulnerable when they're alive. That is, after all, when they need them. I felt really bad.

I also identified.

I often feel like everyone in the world is tougher than me, and I don't know how to get by in a place where the rules of the game are written for those with much better protection. Maybe like playing football with no gear, or even naked, when everyone else has it all, but I don't really know from football...

One of the things that upsets me so much about my ex's new person is that she seems terribly cold and harsh. And I saw glimpses of tenderness in my ex, sometimes really profound tenderness (vulnerability and compassion and maybe other things too) - so I worry about her. But also, I think, it was a problem in our relationship that she had a much better "shell" than me (or tougher) - she survives things unscathed pretty well, and often got fed up with my weepyness or need to be slow, tender, deliberate. This is probably a really good next step for her, and somehow that makes it all the harder.


I went to see a play by a friend last night, part of manna fest, a spiritual "fringe" festival. It was deeply moving, hard to watch (about witnessing a murder), and helped me, in some odd way. Sadly, not to put my "stuff" into perspective (well, maybe a little) but just to see making sense of God and pain from a different angle, maybe

We went out to a coffeeshop afterwards, and someone discovered a cicada working on shedding its shell on the way in. We eventually all went back outside and watched it for quite a while, struggling to be free. Another one came along and seemed to help it (though sometimes I couldn't see how, I was a little afraid it was going to eat it - I have no idea how cicadas are with each other) It was pretty amazing. I've never seen one alive before.

When I got home I prayed for patience (I'm sort of into this praying like a little kid thing again, I never did it as a little kid - but went through a phase about it over a decade ago, now) before I went to bed at maybe 11. I woke up at 3, to who knows what, and lay awake an hour, but was amused and frustrated to find that my first thought was that it should all be settled by now, seeing as I'd prayed.

Clearly a little more work to do.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Bridge Collapse

I suppose that most people have heard that a bridge in Minneapolis collapsed last night.

I was far away, as were most folks I know (and I don't know anyone who was involved) but I'm still feeling pretty shaken.

Last night they told us 7 were dead, this morning it's only 4. I'm glad the numbers went down, but 20 are still missing, and I suppose it's likely most of them did not walk away.

I kneeled on my bed like a little kid and prayed for those people and their families. Such an odd thing for an adult atheist, I wasn't talking to anyone but myself and the universe, but somehow those things can be a comfort when little else can.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

passing through a hellish time in order to be broken open

Liz just said that in a comment below on the "Fire" post.

I guess that's it, and I want the growth that comes afterwads, but not the hellish time.

I resist so hard, and I don't even know how to stop resisting. It's like all those muscles have been frozen in place for a long, long time.

And, what if you're broken open and all that happens is that everything falls apart? What if the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train?


Friday, July 27, 2007

A little bummed

My ex-sweetie has a new sweetie, and I'm sad about it. I haven't met this new woman, and I'm trying not to dislike her, but I'm not very good at it.

I am really not cut out for dating. It takes me longer to get over someone than the time I spend with them (usually, it appears) I'm still not really over the person I dated before her (which was clearly one of the problems, but not the only one)

In this case I know (well, I mostly know) that we shouldn't be a couple. There are fundamental differences that make it, while not totally unworkable, less that truly fulfilling for either of us. But we're really good friends and sometimes I find myself really sad that we'll never live together, or be primary in each other's lives, that we may not even know each other in 30 years (or ten!) And part of me wants to believe that would could have/should have/still could work those other things out.

And still, I guess I'm like a dog in the manger. I'm sad to think of her loving someone else that way. And, of course, that may be jumping the gun, they've been dating less than a week, but still.

I just don't "date", myself. Almost everyone I've ever kissed (5 people!) is someone I've at least thought about marrying (with the two males in my teenage years, it was a very brief thought process, but still....) Sex (even kissing!) is just something too vulnerable, or powerful I guess, to be something I could ever do with someone I don't have some sort of trust with, and a sense of some sort of longer term commitment.

Anyway, it's feeling pretty damn lonely right now.

(I wonder if "damn" will make my rating worse?)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My movie rating

Online Dating

Apparently based on the appearance of the "bad" words "hell", "hurt", and "dyke"

scary sillyness

Friday, July 20, 2007


I was recently talking to folks again about how I used to be slightly concerned that when I set myself to "holding someone in the light" I more often saw them amidst flames than a friendly sort of gro-light. It wasn't hostile, but it wasn't exactly, well, gentle, either.

I've come much more to peace with it recently (and occasionally have visions more like gro-lights) - that God/Truth is not always warm and fuzzy, and powerful, transformative experiences aren't easy.

And fire is coming up a lot lately, in terms of being "on fire" - the passion of early quakers that so many of us feel lacking in our own experience. I find that I tend to think I miss it too, but then I wonder how terrifying it would be to feel that.

I've just taken a job that I like, and that's really cool in a number of ways, but in others it's not totally in keeping with my ethics, in some ways it's diametrically opposed (as I have a renewed interest in/call to step outside "the man"'s society entirely - to be like the birds and the lilies of the field (maybe)

I also just re-read an old post of Zach's discussing some of this, in which one comment was that you can't recapture (?) the fire of early quakers unless it's based in God and guided by Jesus.

I feel like I've harped on this already, but that's just so not true, or at least not apparent, to me. I have little mystical experience (well, rather, little mystical experience -my experience is in ways frequent and quiet - no "burning bushes") but everything I've experienced of the world implies to me that it doesn't depend on calling on Jesus. that that works very well for some, because Jesus makes sense to them, or the story works for them in some way....

But the big mystical "IT" is there anyway, and probably not terribly interested in the words, or even the concepts, that we use as we bumble around. If it's Jesus, I guess I assume he can get through to me (being God and all) even if I don't know his name, if it's something else, perhaps it can get through even if someone can only interpret it as Jesus.

Anyway, I'm craving (and fearing!) that fire too. Not sure how to help way open for it, of if it's simply not there right now (which I rather doubt).

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

locavorousness (?)

So, a friend tells me the local co-ops are sponsoring some sort of "eat local challenge" this august (perhaps the only time it might be reasonable for a good number of folks up here in the frozen northlad, though of course 100 years ago, or even 50, most people ate mostly local food, I would think)

So, initially, I thought, well, in august you should be able to eat EVERYTHING local. Sometimes I think I'd like to live off tomatoes alone (but then my mouth starts getting sores from the acid...)

But then I thought, no chocolate, no cofee (that's not SO hard, but I usually have some a few times a week), no banannas, etc. Not to mention having to check out things like bread, no rice (except wild rice! mmmmmm!) PLUS, I like to eat in restaurant (hippie/eco-friendly restaurants mostly, but still) - no popsicles, except for homemade.... It will be an interesting challenge for me.

Actually, I think the goal is only 80%, which seems like it should be quite do-able (but measured how? calories? money spent? types of food? weight?)

Right now, I am eating something that I grew in my tiny city-lot yard every day. It's an exciting sort of connectedness, though never enough for a whole meal. Last night I have 6 green beans and a largish cherry tomato with my vegan sausage (made in CA or VT or somewhere) for dinner, very yummy. I am also getting at least 1 raspberry and 1 blueberry each day - my plants are still a bit young. The reliable stuff amidst my gardens is chard and kale. I think I should be able to eat something I grew every day, probably through september, but it will be interesting to see if it ever amounts to 30% of what I eat in a day, which would be nice (and maybe possible when and if the tomatoes come through) - I'm pretty sure I have done so every day since June 1, so hopefully it will be an "all summer" thing.

I have thought about keeping chickens, which is legal with neighbor approval in Minneapolis, but with my three exuberant young dogs, I think I'm already pushing it with the neighbors, and it would hardly be a peaceful place for chickens. It's always in the back of my mind though. I had a duck egg from a fellow "nightengale" (well, her duck) this spring, it was weird, but interesting.

Monday, July 09, 2007

gathering...... hmmm

a few days back from gathering now, and really more exhausted than I am used to ever being. In my worse moments I wonder if I have west nile virus (I vaguely know one person who does, and have friends who think about it more than I do, so it's been more in my thoughts lately.

That would be yucky...

Anyway, it was my first time commuting, which was good in ways but hard in others (one, I hate driving) I would say that both mostly revolve around my tendency to feel unconnected at gathering - like I don't have enough friends, am somehow failing to engage, I am really shy. Commuting made that worse, in ways, because I didn't eat with everyone else, I had even fewer opportunities (always often untaken) to talk to new folks) - and yet, I got to go home, and hang with my critters and water my garden, so it was much better than being trapped in a new place without anyone to talk to.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Hell, and other things I don't believe in, or do

A friend was reading my blog the other day, and was surprised that I had made a reference to wanting someone to burn in hell. she knows I don't believe in hell, and I guess was rather taken aback (I don't think she was as surprised that I can be that vengeful, sadly)

"The Afterlife" also came up, interestingly, when we took our first day school rockclimbing at vertical endeavors, and a young woman working there asked me about our "church" - They kept assuming our group was a birthday party and we kept saying, "no, actually, we're a sunday school". This young woman goes to a local christian college and was very interested in my belief system. I kept waiting for her to get rabidly evangelical, but she was actually quite respectful, if somewhat bemused.

I don't know if I ever believed in heaven or hell, (maybe a bit more in heaven) as a child. I think I have somehow always understood them as metaphors - as simple ways of saying something that's hard to say, or simply as comforting stories. (well, heaven anyway). And, yet, in their way, they're very real to me as that. As real as the green eyed monster (who is pretty real to me!) or my guardian angel, or liberty as a big green lady in new york harbor - a bit realer I guess, though not literally true.

I know I was never afraid of being on fire for the rest of eternity - that's just too darn weird.

I explained to this young rock climbing helper that I have a slightly more "real" myth about the afterlife, and one that is less so, but perhaps more satisfying. - I used to want to believe in reincarnation, though I could never buy that I, in my entirety, unsed to "be" cleopatra (or anyone else in particular) in her entirety. It does make sense to me, however, that as we rot and our atoms are dispersed again out into the universe, bits of our "soul" are part of them - or they were at least part of it, and so perhaps we do have memories - like body memory - from other lives. It's more a way of thinking about the cycle of life than a belief system, but it does make me happier than a simple "we rot" (or as one of my students gleefully proclaimed when I brought it up on the way home, "the worms eat you!")

but, in thinking about this woman that I can't forgive, and all the people in the world for whom it is so hard not to want some sort of "comeuppance" - I created a story for myself that says that when we die (or sometime around then) we finally have a full understanding of what we did in life - who we hurt, who we helped - a full, deep, whole understanding. For someone who has hurt a lot of people that would be hell, for someone who lived in great love that might be heaven - but either way it's a part of a process, the pain is part of a healing, not just a retribution, but a cleansing. (I also was raised to believe, and do, pretty much, that people who are generally hurtful are already in their own personal hell - I don't know many who seem like they're really having fun to me, but I didn't say that part)

But, this young woman asked me how both stories could be true - how do you go through this painful, healing process (or happy, celebratory process, I guess) if you're busy dispersing into the universe to be other things?

I was baffled, because obviously neither one is REALLY what happens - clearly none of us knows, but my guess is, well, we rot. Then she asked me how I could bear not to know, which struck me as odd because of course, I don't believe that she knows, she's just decided to believe something. I guess you just get used to it.

My friend said she actually grew up believing hell was an actual place where actual people were suffering, so she can't switch to using it as a metaphor, or a myth - it's real or it isn't (and now she believes it isn't). I can't imagine the terror of believing that. No wonder some people are so obnoxiously evangelical. Trying to imagine what it would be like to believe scares me. It makes me incredibly sad that small children are burdened with that sort of horror. Especially because it seems empirically so very unlikely to be the truth of things.

I can imagine it a little, I guess. There are lots of things that I believe that other people around me don't seem to. That nonhuman animals have rights too (and therefore there are huge atrocities taking place in this country on a daily, nay, hourly, basis), that genetic engineering is a very dangerous sort of blasphemy (there I go again - against what? against, I suppose, the way things - including human bodies - work in this reality of ours), that living beings matter infinitely more than making money (people individually seem to believe this - at least those I meet, but the socieyt in which I live seems to take it as anaethma) - so I know the chicken little feeling all too well (though I don't know the story of chicken little well enough to know if he was right in the end)


Friday, June 01, 2007

Forgiveness (and Love?)

'been pondering this stuff lately, also "acceptance" I think.

Had a talk with some folks a few nights ago about it, and a big part of it (for me, right now) is about the difference between forgiveness and pretending (or really thinking) that everything's okay.

And as I think about it, and as stuff comes up, "do you forgive me?" and "do you still love me?" swim together and overlap a lot, though they're different.

And both are different from, "can we go back to the way things were?" - I don't understand forgiveness outside a context where both people take responsibility (though often it's more on one or the other) for racidally (at the roots) changing the problem that requires forgiveness in the first place - or maybe I can understand forgiveness outside that context, but never reconciliation.

Sigh, and I really want to believe in that of God in everyone and ANSWER it, but sometimes it feels so cleverly hidden with so many barbs and traps, what do you do?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

feelin' random

It's a lovely day out, but I'm apparently burned out on lovely days, or something. There's this weird pressure to be outside, doing things. No bugs, no rain, not too hot, not cold...

but, I don't know, I planted my last tomato and watered stuff, I've got blueberry plants I have to get in the ground but that's a big project and I'm feeling a bit wimpy today I guess. I think I'll do that tomorrow morning.

My dog, Robin, pottys in the house (both kinds, I think), and is terrified of being in trouble. It's not a good combination. I've starting putting her in a crate when I go out, but she HATES it, it's a bad scene all around. This is her.

Robin is a cutie

She's very cute, and very sweet, so I feel bad when I find myself hating her. sigh.

I biked downtown today for a job interview. I live in the city, but in an area with yards and things, a few miles from city center. It was hotter downtown than in my neighborhood. freaked me out. I get the whole "heat island" thing on a new level. Usually I think it's so hot I don't notice the difference, or too cool, or whatever.

My interview went better than any I've had yet. Meaning mostly that I don't think the woman was sitting there thinking "WHY am I even interviewing this person?" - but we'll see. Job hunting is totally demoralizing (at least after the first few weeks) just so you know.

I've been driving more than I want to, I'm such a car addict. It's sad. And I don't get it, because biking is just better I mean, even if it wasn't better for the planet and my figure (ha!) it's just more fun andd I'm less cranky when I do more of it. Hard to remember all that sometimes though.

gratuitous photo of maddy because it's the cutest thing ever:

Maddy and Turtle

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Everyday life (sort of)

So, I've been pondering about posting. I'm not feeling very deep or like I have spiritual insight to share right now, but there's something - a desire for whatever scant connection the internet provides? (that's sort of sad) in me that wants to post something.

And, I often say, and people I really respect say, that the divine/spiritual isn't really seperable from regular life. But then really, on a spiritual blog, you don't expectto hear about grocery shopping, or even necessarily emotions (that one in particular bothered me)

I just posted something that I had written and saved as a draft months ago (almost) - I think I saved it cause it was too raw, and with no answers to boot.

I find that one of my bigger struggles in life is being "too emotional" - I'm not sure what to think about that. I spend a lot of my time trying to repress or gloss over what's really going on with me, because people think I'm insane if I don't. No, I don't have chopped up bodies in my basement. It's just that I hate people sometimes, I'm bad at getting over breakups, I'm often profoundly moved by things other people ignore (and often I totally miss things other people are profoundly moved by, it's not a universal law or anything)

I asked some friends in my meeting recently about having a clearness committee with other people in the meeting (I haven't yet asked the other people I have in mind, though) I was wondering if couples who break up do this when they both want to stay at meeting - how do you deal with having "negative" feelings towards other people in meeting? How do you even deal with a void where there was once what you thought of as intimacy? In any case, they both seemed uncomfortable with the idea, and seemed to have a concern that my goal was to badmouth someone and hurt their "standing" or something in meeting. I still don't quite get this, as my goal was to have them there and have it be a mutual process)

so, I wonder as a community if there's an expectation that we all paste on smiles and if they're not genuine, that's okay? (I have to say I didn't ask the community, so it's not a fair characterization, on the other hand, the folks I asked have served on Ministry and Counsel, so I assume their views can be taken as somewhat representative of how M&C would respond)

certainly dealing with problems is often unpleasant and ugly. Are other people just better at letting go of things? How can I possibly learn to be so?

Monday, May 21, 2007

First Day School end of year

Yesterday was the end of first day school for another year. All the teacher folk got roses, which was really lovely (and cheaper than t-shirts, which I have loved, but am ambivalent about - they waste resources and are often made in sweatshops, and I think I'm one of the few people who wear mine regularly.)

We went around the room and asked the kids to say one thing they liked about the year and one thing that needed improvement. It started to look as if everyone would say they liked going to the coffee shop down the street, but we imposed a ban after the first four. so, coffee shop, lock-ins (sleepovers) and talking were basically the good things. a desire to paint the room and have fewer movies and no video games at lockins (a constant battle) were the main "needs improvement" areas. My favorite comment was on how much one kid appreciated the "randomness" of our class :)

I think I secretly like that too.

I'm trying to remember what we talked about. hmmmmm....

We went rock climbing on saturday, at a climbing gym. I wasn't going to try it, but couldn't stay away. Still, I couldn't make it further than halfway up any climbing wall, and seriously envied a girl who had come with friends from our class, must have weighed 50#, and could scamble up anything in moments. Two days later my arms are really sore! I spent a lot of my time talking to a gym employee about God. Mostly I talked. She goes to a local christian college and seems to hold significantly more "traditional" views than I do, but was very respectful and interested, if occasionally a little shocked ("but the Bible says....", or, "how can you not care what happens when you die?") It was a very good interaction for me, who can hole up and isolate a bit, at least theologically.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Weird Dream

I had a dream last night that I was at Northern Yearly Meeting and we were discussing having hired ministers / representatives - either for NYM or nationally, maybe both? I don't remember.

Anyway, Jesus was there (not glowing or anything, just another guy, though in long robes and sandals) and was "running" for this proposed office.

I was adamantaly opposed to changing the proscription on paid clergy. In the dream I think it didn't even occur to me that it was weird that it was Jesus we were talking about.


I NEVER dream about Jesus.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Just Checkin' in

I really just can't stand to not have a "March 2007" archive. I don't want to look like a slacker, at least not at first glance :)

Life is slightly crazy. I'm unemployed again, and actually loving it (just not the lack of money, and, well, the lack of purpose a little bit - but having more free time is great!)

Still trying to save dogs from Georgia. I'm working on a transport this weekend, but am hopefully not fostering any of them. It's crazy, as there are a lot of problems much closer to home (even in my own state) but at least locally, it's not nearly as bad. Of course the solution is to set up a mobile vet down there and do guerilla spay and neuter or something, but it's so overwhelming, there are a million ways to approach it, I guess.

I got back in touch with my most dramatic ex. Or, she got in touch with me. I was (am?) crazy about her, literally. It's scary to know people who can make you crazy (or bring out your crazies, or whatever). What's amazing is that she actually finally apologized for huritng me. It's hard to explain how completely floored I was by that, esp. as it had been a point of contention since practially the beginning of our contact ("I never hurt you, if you hurt, it's because you're screwed up").

The sad thing is that it didnt' change things for me as much as I'd like. I guess I forgive her. What does that mean? I don't want her to burn in hell, or suffer in life, but I only wanted that on a few very fleeting occasions anyway. I wouldn't trust her again, and wonder if I ever did. I don't want to be friends, basically because overall she wasnt' nice to me, and I'd say that was an understatement. I still am horrified by both of us back then (we were cheating on her partner, something she, and eventually he, didnt' seem to think was that big a deal)

Anyway, mulling forgiveness, of others, of self, and what does it mean exactly? I don't think anymore that it wipes the slate clean - I'm not sure what it does, and I'm not sure if I've attained it.

Loving her still feels like pretty much the worst thing that ever happpened to me. I acknowledge that much worse things happen to other people all the time, but it seems I've been pretty lucky. My feelings about it helped me understand the concepts of pure evil and satan (especially disguising himself as God). Sounds silly, but it's true. I learned about myself in the process. But as a good friend says (to paraphrase), I think I'd rather know less and be happier.....

I feel like whenever I read about forgiveness, it's mostly people exhorting others (me) to do it, "you really should, you know, for your own sanity" (or for God, or whatever) - but how? It's not something I feel I can choose to "do" - it seems like grace or something, something that descends upon you, when you're ready, or open, enough.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Center

Over on Liz's blog (the title is a link to it) the comments on a post have veered towards a discussion of what "the center" that many of us are trying to move towards might be.

I realized after the fact that I had revealed myself as an inveterate universalist when I made the claim that "the center" changes depending on what people you're including in your calculation (if you have a scattering of points on a graph, you can find a "center" of the scattered plots)

While the idea seems to be that for conservative Friends, and/or christians (?) The center is true, it has to do with God, and that transcends people. So that new people don't shift it at all?

If there is one (well, there are lots of centers, but if there's a "true" one - that can be true for all of us) does it shift a little when each new person is born or dies?

Or is it constant. has it been constant forever? was it the same center for dinosaurs? Or do they lack souls and therefore not have a center? (rhetorical question, I don't beleieve that for a minute, God certainly doesnt' depend on us for existence, if it has it - except as a word a concept, but if you believe in it, you believe in more than that, I'd guess)

I realized a bit later that I don't necessarily believe that it changes (though I probably believe that more than that it doesn't, if THAT makes any sense) - it's possible that it doesn't change, and yet every new person brought under consideration changes our perception of it. More like science, where our best understanding of truth shifts constantly with new information, sometimes subtlely, sometimes radically, but pretty constantly...

And then I wonder if anyone should NOT be taken as part of the equation - which touches on (perhaps) the idea of "that of God in everyone" (at least my understanding of it, which is not a bit of the reflection God, but that we are all a piece of God, and it is (?) diminished by the loss of any one of us)

So, are psychopathic killers part of God? Does their "truth" shift the center, or, rather, give us new information about it (that can be trusted, that is not false) - or are they simply outside the system of God? Is anyone outside the system of God? Not in terms of basic respect owed (like, no one should be tortured!) but in terms of for lack of a better phrase, building the kingdom?

Love is at the root

Ok, so I felt somewhat foolish after reading even the first few comments on my last post, because it's so OBVIOUS that love isn't a testimony, it's like the earth that the testimonies grow in.

But then I'm left with an even bigger question, why do we talk about the testimonies so much and love so little?

It's like the testimonies are rules that you can follow - because you want to be a "good quaker" - or a 'good person" or whatever.

And I used to get a bit squeamish when folks would say it's not all about the testimonies because I thought they were saying:

a) it's all about God (and therefore, as a nontheist, it has nothing to do with you)


b) even worse, God might change "his" mind - if he's the God of the Bible he might (in my opinion) change it to something sort of icky - he might chuck equality out the window and tell us to slaughter all our enemies, except keep the little girls for sex slaves (reference, anyone? I'm so bad at Biblical references) or to kill our first born child or something.

me and God still have some talking to do....

But back to the "love" thing - while I'm not about calling it God, I think there is something, and love is a decent word for it, that grounds the testimonies, and nourishes them. It might even seem to undermine them (in moments where it says - yes, lie to that slavecatcher about whether there is a runaway in your basement - sad that I can't think of a more current example) but it can't be truly undermined, though it can be ignored.

We don't use "SPICE" much in my first day school class. I think it's kinda corny anyways... but I think every now and then we manage to touch on the rest of it, even glancingly...