this year i devour
which is also an art.
— margaret atwood
I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the
beginning and the end,
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.
There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.
Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.
Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and
increase, always sex,
Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of
To elaborate is no avail, learn'd and unlearn'd feel that it is so.
Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, well
entretied, braced in the beams,
Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,
I and this mystery here we stand.
Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not
Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by the seen,
Till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn.
Showing the best and dividing it from the worst age vexes age,
Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while they
discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself.
Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of any man hearty
Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and none shall be
less familiar than the rest.
I am satisfied - I see, dance, laugh, sing . . .
- excerpt from "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman
Deportation Is Not A Family Value: "During his first two years in office, President Obama’s administration has dramatically increased enforcement of undocumented immigrant deportations. In fact, the current administration has far exceeded the Bush administration’s level of deportations and is currently spending $17 billion per year on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)."
“I don’t want to become someone who ignores the pain of others. We’re all human beings, together, on this planet, and it’s only an accident of luck that means I can give and not receive.” Source.
This series of maps is pretty interesting (if somewhat predictable): Food Atlas: What Are We Eating, and Where?
Best title of a movie review I've seen recently (and the review itself is pretty good too): In Which We Realize We Hated Lost In Translation In Retrospect.
Training Plans for Multisport Athletes: Your Essential Guide to Triathlon, Duathlon, XTERRA, Ironman, and Endurance Racing: I'm training for my first half marathon in Jan, my first marathon in May, and my first Ironman 70.3 in August - I've used this guide, along with a few others and the advice of more seasoned athletes, to create a training plan for the next 8 months - so far so good. It has a wide variety of plans that take into account your goals, your current fitness, your time frame, etc.
Vows-fan and romantic that I am, I admit to being taken by these last lines of this weeks profile: "Ms. Banky, the bride’s friend, referred to these changes as “ghili vili.” In Farsi slang, she said, 'It means that he created a revolution in you.' 'You’ll say, "Does he make her ghili vili?' Ms. Banky continued. And if he doesn’t do that, it’s a no-go. Jesse makes her ghili vili.'"
“Nothing happens? Or has everything happened, / and are we standing now, quietly, in the new life?” - Juan Ramon Jimenez
"My mother confronted the age-old problem of the Negro parent in America: how to explain discrimination and segregation to a small child. She taught me that I should feel a sense of 'somebodiness' but that on the other hand I had to go out and face a system that stared me in the face every day saying you are 'less than,' you are 'not equal to.' She told me about slavery and how it ended with the Civil War. She tried to explain the divided system of the South - the segregated schools, restaurants, theaters, housing' the white and colored signs on drinking fountains, waiting rooms, lavatories - as a social condition rather than a natural order. She made it clear that she opposed the system and that I must never allow it to make me feel inferior. Then she said the words that almost every Negro hears before he can yet understand the injustice that makes them necessary: 'You are as good as anyone.'"
"It has been my conviction....that any religion that professes concern for the souls of men and is not equally concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion only waiting for the day to be buried. It well has been said: 'A religion that ends with the individual, ends.'"
"True pacifism is not unrealistic submission to evil power . . . It is rather a courageous confrontation of evil by the power of love, in that faith that it is better to be the recipient of violence than the inflictor of it, since the latter only multiplies the existence of violence and bitterness in the universe, while the former may develop a sense of shame in the opponent, and thereby bring about a transformation and change of heart." [SJS: This really puts a lot of faith in people to feel shame when they are doing something wrong/evil, but I guess that is the Christian in him, who has such faith in all humans . . . ]
[Describing the bus boycott]: "During the rush hours the sidewalks were crowed with laborers and domestic workers trudging patiently to their jobs ad home again, sometimes as much as twelve miles. They knew why they walked, and the knowledge was evident in the way they carried themselves. And as I watched them, I knew that there is nothing more majestic than the determined courage of individuals willing to suffer and sacrifice for their freedom and dignity."
I'm about half way through The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. and I'm really enjoying it. This isn't a traditional autobiography, rather it's an excellently edited collection of King's letters, diaries, sermons, and even papers he wrote for school! For anyone who respects and is inspired by MLK Jr, this book is a wonderful chance to learn about his young life, his philosophical and theological development as a young man, his relationships with his family, and his development into one of the most prominent and important leaders of the 20th century. An enjoyable and inspiring read.
Also reading and loving: The Importance of Being Iceland: Travel Essays on Art by Eileen Myles.
I just finished Sara Miles' Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion. While Miles has had some interesting experiences, and I appreciated her exploration of the idea of communion in relation to the very palpable idea of serving others (she runs a food bank), the book gets SO repetitive. Yep, I get it - your work at the food bank is a new type of communion. It's the sort of idea and story that might have been better served by being an essay instead of a complete book. I appreciate her sharing her journey and her liberal interpretation of Christianity (I myself am in the midst of figuring out my own liberal understanding of Christianity) but as a book it just doesn't hold up.
Sounds good to me. "Bruce McCall imagines the Manhattan street with no room for cars...but there's a baby stroller lane, a Segway/skateboarding lane, and a runner/jogger lane." via.
Read this article last night, super inspiring: "Unstoppable: Introducing our 2011 Reader of the Year, Ryan Levinson, an athlete who competes like a champ while fighting a savage form of muscular dystrophy."
Ugh, horrible news: Massachusetts State Police joining Secure Communities.
Maybe because I'm currently reading Martin Luther King Jr.'s autobiography (which isn't actually his biography, per se, but a wonderful compilation/editing of his journals, letters etc), I was especially struck by the comments of the chaplains during the coverage of the DADT repeal this morning. I found it not only personally offensive that many stated they would be unable or unwilling to counsel gay service members, but also a real mark of their unprofessionalism - if you're a chaplain and you say you can't counsel anyone who is "different" than you, then basically you suck at your job.
Check out: Run and Become: Motivation and Transformation at Brighton Marathon
Left: love this photo: "in the 1980s, james r. murphy began teaching students at la guardia public high school mathematics and problem solving by creating string figures through a sequence of complex steps. one of the students, robin moore, photographed each student’s achievement as a visual record, standing tall and proud behind decaying hallways and tiled bathroom walls." via.
"The American Constitution Society has run a new piece by Wilbert Rideau, describing his time in solitary confinement. As the ACS’s introduction describes him, 'Wilbert Rideau is author of In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance, a memoir that recounts his 44 years in prison, where he became a journalist and won several journalism awards, including a George Polk Award and the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel. He was freed in 2005.'" via.
"This morning's Boston Globe has this effective new article reporting on this important new academic research just published in the Stanford Law Review about post-Booker sentencing realities in the District of Massachusetts. The Globe article is headlined "Disparity cited in sentence lengths; Analyst studying Hub’s US judges alleges bias risk" . . . Here are excerpts from the Globe coverage: Since the US Supreme Court struck down mandatory sentencing guidelines five years ago in a landmark ruling, the difference in the average sentences of the most lenient and most severe federal judges in Boston has widened, according to a new study that says the trend threatens to undermine fairness." via Sentencing Law and Policy.
"You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive." - Martha Graham
An idea/discussion that pops up every once in a while, and I always find interesting/persuasive: If Nonprofits Aren't Working Themselves Out of Business, They're Failing.
Wow: Runner Crawls to Finish as Team Wins Title for Ailing Coach.
"We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be." - Anne Lamott
The crystal goblet and the wine…
You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.
However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.
It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.
And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.
It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.
I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.
I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman’s tea cup.
But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and—somehow—the wine.
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.
It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.
It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch; to love and let
go again and again. It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously,
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.
I can’t do it, you say it’s killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry,
You float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor’s button blue and bobbing
on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.
Almighty comforter, we deeply desire for your kingdom to come and your will to be done. We ask that you empower and strengthen us to break down systems of injustice and poverty in the world. Give us, your servants, tireless vigor as we follow your will. Amen. Source.
From Boston Review: The Worst of the Worst: Supermax Torture in America
Though often framed as an alternative to incarceration, drug courts can actually expand the incarcerated population. In her article for The Nation‘s War on Drugs issue, Tracy Velazquez explains how. (via Prison Law Blog)
Ugh, pretty upsetting: "Susan G. Komen Foundation Elbows Out Charities Over Use Of The Word ‘Cure’": “So far, Komen has identified and filed legal trademark oppositions against more than a hundred of these Mom and Pop charities, including Kites for a Cure, Par for The Cure, Surfing for a Cure and Cupcakes for a Cure—and many of the organizations are too small and underfunded to hold their ground. 'It happened to my family,'said Roxanne Donovan, whose sister runs Kites for a Cure, a family kite-flying event that raises money for lung cancer research. 'They came after us ferociously with a big law firm. They said they own ‘cure’ in a name and we had to stop using it, even though we were raising money for an entirely different cause.'"
"I'm all over the place, up and down, scattered, withdrawing, trying to find some elusive sense of serenity. The world can't give that serenity. The world can't give us peace. We can only find it in our hearts. I hate that. I know. But the good news is that by the same token, the world can't take it away." - Anne Lamott
In support of International Human Rights Day, UN Secretary General: “People were not put on this planet to live in fear of their fellow human beings.”
"what I count on / is a white birch / that stands / where no human language / is ever heard." - Yosano Akiko
Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.
- - - - - - - -
Today marks 3 months since I started running! The stats: Longest distance run = 10.5 miles. Races: 5K, 10K, 9mi. Total mileage run: 297.4 miles. Next race: January's half-marathon.
"Before Christmas, the people of Mexico [and lots of Mexican-Americans in the US!] join together for the festivities of La Virgen de Guadalupe, Our Lady of Guadalupe, on December 12, one of the most important dates in the Mexican calendar."
"But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and form anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you . . . But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return." Luke 6:27-35.
Just read "I Don't Care About Your Band," by Julie Klausner, and while I laughed a few times, and Klausner's definitely a smart gal, I can't quite say I liked the book. Klausner gets off on talking about her sexual conquests graphically, wittily, and, occasionally, honestly. The book is easy to read and occasionally entertaining, and Klausner is no doubt a good time to hang out with. But she's also rabidly judgmental, totally heteronormative, self obsessed, and will manage to offend you at some point, whether it's her casual insults towards "tranny feminists" or those she finds fat and ugly. Learning to be funny and shocking without being cruel can be hard - but its not impossible. (As always, feel free to check out what I'm reading on my GoodReads profile - I think it's a great tool for keeping track of books and getting suggestions from friends).
I'm enthralled by geochaching, and was touched by this article: "Nine-year-old with autism finds connection to family while geocaching: What comes so easily to other boys his age -- language -- is difficult for Ryan Hurley, but not when the family goes geocaching."
Support the DREAM! We Cannot Afford Not to Pass the DREAM Act: A Plea from Immigration Scholars.
An interview with the Reverend of the church I've been attending for the last 3 months, Rev. Pam Shepherd: "A lesbian in Christian ministry is just a head-snapper. A lot of my friends had to struggle with the thought that either the Christian faith tradition was not what they thought, or else their friend had just gone crazy. Or both. Walking with old friends on this journey has been a gift in both directions. So many people have been wounded by the church. Especially GLBT people and women. Traditional Christianity has been devastating in codifying bigotry and unjust relations. When I meet people who hate the church, I want to say I’m sorry for all the hatred nurtured in the name of God’s love, and then I want to ask them, 'So when did the church first break your heart?' Because there’s always a story…and ministry is about hearing that story and being able to say, with the authority of the church, 'That is not true about God, and not true about you.'"
"But you can’t get to any of these truths by sitting in a field smiling beatifically, avoiding your anger and damage and grief. Your anger and damage and grief are the way to the truth. We don’t have much truth to express unless we have gone into those rooms and closets and woods and abysses that we were told not go in to. When we have gone in and looked around for a long while, just breathing and finally taking it in – then we will be able to speak in our own voice and to stay in the present moment. And that moment is home." - Anne Lamott
Always a favorite, and a welcome reminder: "Do you have doubts about life? Are you unsure if it is really worth the trouble? Look at the sky: that is for you. Look at each person’s face as you pass them on the street: those faces are for you. And the street itself, and the ground under the street, and the ball of fire underneath the ground: all these things are for you. They are as much for you as they are for other people. Remember this when you wake up in the morning and think you have nothing. Stand up and face the east. Now praise the sky and praise the light within each person under the sky. It’s okay to be unsure. But praise, praise, praise." - Miranda July
Full text available here.
"I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. n the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."
I've been reading Patti Smith's (National Book Award winning!) "Just Kids" for a few days and am absolutely loving it. I'm not a huge Patti Smith fan, and I don't know all the artists and people she references, but she is a wonderful storyteller, managing somehow to recall details from decades ago and describe things intricately, while at the same time always moving the story along at a quick pace. It's a book about love, friendship, being an artist, being young, growing older, it's a book about the 60's, the 70's, and on, a book about New York City, a book about inspiration - it's got it all. A wonderful read. (Check out my friend Zac's glowing review of "Just Kids" as well)
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way
for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review
each of your life’s ten million choices. Endure moments
of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you.
Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound
of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart.
Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes
pointing again and again down, down into the black depths.
- Dan Albergotti
to make things happen,
the alarm to wake us up, the coffee to perc,
the car to start.
The rest of what we do, we do
trying to keep something from doing something,
the skin from aging, the hoe from rusting,
the truth from getting out.
With yes and no like the poles of a battery
powering our passage through the days,
we move, as we call it, forward,
wanting to be wanted,
wanting not to lose the rain forest,
wanting the water to boil,
wanting not to have cancer,
wanting to be home by dark,
wanting not to run out of gas,
as each of us wants the other
watching at the end,
as both want not to leave the other alone,
as wanting to love beyond this meat and bone,
we gaze across breakfast and pretend.
- Miller Williams
"As I usually do, I was listening to National Public Radio as I got ready for work this morning. It may surprise you to know that a working class person like myself listens to NPR, but not as much as it surprised me to hear you saying that Congress should withdraw funding from The Smithsonian, because it’s only enjoyed by the elites. The working class, you went on to say, enjoys professional wrestling, but we don’t provide federal funding for the WWE.
This is one of the most ignorant and offensive things I’ve heard on the news in a long time, and that’s saying something.
Here’s a news flash for you: not all working class people enjoy professional wrestling, or NASCAR, or even college sports. A whole lot of working class people enjoy the arts and count on federal funding to provide us access to them."
Wow, censorship, bigotry, homophobia, classism, and a continuation of the cult of ignorance this country has been alternately worshipping and fighting since Bush took office? And all before 9am.
Before your mind like rocks.
placed solid, by hands
In choice of place, set
Before the body of the mind
in space and time:
Solidity of bark, leaf, or wall
riprap of things:
Cobble of milky way.
These poems, people,
lost ponies with
Dragging saddles --
and rocky sure-foot trails.
The worlds like an endless
Game of Go.
ants and pebbles
In the thin loam, each rock a word
a creek-washed stone
with torment of fire and weight
Crystal and sediment linked hot
all change, in thoughts,
As well as things.
— Gary Snyder