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Bird's Blog

Poetry, musings, observations, commentary, rants, confessions...and who knows what else!

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Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Almost Tuesday: Respecting the Man and The Office

While President-elect Obama has record approval ratings, our soon-to-be former President has record low ratings from the public. Only 20 percent of those polled currently approve of Bush - an all-time low and a definite no confidence vote.

So let us at last bid good bye to Bush, who leaves the office of President in far worse shape than when he received it eight very long years ago. The damage he has done to this country and to the world is unconscionable. Let us gladly and willingly let Bush disappear into his plush Dallas neighborhood (leaving the ranch that was never really a ranch at all, merely a prop, to brush and tumbleweeds) and be heard from no more. Let him live a quiet life, as untroubled by the press and the attentions of the outside world as he himself is untroubled by reflection or self-recrimination, and by his sometimes ironic, and almost always ignoble actions.

May his soul rot in hell when he departs this earth; may his cronies rot with him as well.

Let us turn and leave him and face our future, bleak that it is, yet hopeful and promising at the same time.

Never in my life have I seen a country so excited, jubilant, celebratory about and welcoming to an incoming president. Part of our celebratory mood must certainly be part of our pride - pride in the long road we’ve traversed in race-relations in this country. Racial inequities and prejudice have not disappeared from our national landscape - not at all - but we’ve made significant progress. And we have pride too in a victory well-planned and executed, yet a victory hard won.

Part of our mood must be the sheer joy and absolute relief at the departure of Bush and cronies - at the defeat of Rovian thinking that infected even McCain’s campaign. Part of our joy is the triumph over hard-line, arrogant, and irrational conservatives. Do not mistake me, do not misinterpret me - you can be a conservative and be rational and humble, and do the right things. But the tone and tenor of conservatism our country has experienced in the past eight years has not truly been conservatism; rather, that tone and tenor has bordered on fascism and fanaticism.

Yet the changing of the guard does not mean the recession will magically disappear, the war come to a sudden halt, the massive debt we’ve accumulated in the last eight years evaporate. President-elect Obama is, after all, a mere man (a damned smart one, that’s for sure, but still just a man) and not a miracle-worker, not the Messiah (and Lord knows, we don’t want a Messiah anyway - we’ve already had our full of one president who thought he was doing God’s will - and that’ s quite enough, thank you).

We will have a reasonable man, not an ideologue at the helm. Science, reason, debate, analysis, depth and breadth of knowledge - all these things matter again. During an interview several weeks ago, President-elect Obama said words I have not heard spoken with any intent from a president in eight years: science, culture, art, and poetry. He said in times of hardship, these are the things that define a country - its people - these are the things which bring sustenance and comfort - and help us carry on.

President-elect Obama has already made some decisions that I agree with and some with which I disagree. But I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt, to trust and wait and see what will happen. He has my trust because this man explains why he does what he does, and with some eloquence at that. I am aligned with this leader in basic philosophy and in the manner of his thinking - his ability to follow a line of reason and explain his rationale. He will make mistakes - as all Presidents do - but he won’t make them because he didn’t take the time to seek counsel, hear multiple points of view, study, and reflect before coming to a decision. His mistakes won’t come from arrogance or negligence or incompetency. His mistakes will come because he is not perfect - and I can live with that.

President-elect Obama. I like those words as they roll off my tongue, as they appear in type. President Obama. I like that even better. In the last eight years, I have refused to call Bush by the title of his office - I couldn’t provide that level of respect for not only did the man not deserve it, but he demeaned the office as well.

But by Tuesday afternoon, I will be able to respect both the office and the man who holds it.

That’s something indeed.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Woman Who Fell to The Moon

I've joined a new writing group, Shut Up and Write. We meet in cafes. Introduce ourselves, and then we shut up and write for an hour. Here's the results of last night's Shut Up and Write Session:

“What page are you going to start on?” said the young bookstore clerk in white go-go boots. Her voice, high and clear, reverberating throughout the small bookstore cafe - one of many, one of a million ubiquitous bookstore cafes . Latte sippers, book browsers, and the curious people in the corner writing in notebooks or click-clack-clacking on their laptop keyboards looked in her direction. They knew her question was really for them.

“What page are you going to start on?” she says holding the print-out of the inventory in her hand, her hand with long, dark, elegant fingers. Fingers that thumb through book pages and sheaves of computer print out. Fingers that grip the metal bars running across the seat in front of her on the T bus on her way to and from work. Fingers that sometimes drum quietly on her crossed leg as her head nods to the sounds in her iPod, the sounds in her head - the sounds she imagines are out in the world out there. The sounds she can’t hear.

What page are you going to start on? A good question for which I am not sure I have an answer. What page should I start on?

She wears a white sweater over a grey T-shirt, glasses, and corn rows. Dark thick black glasses you would expect to see on a man in a 50s movie, no a teenaged boy who has not only entered the science fair, but has won first place and is on his way to the state sponsored fair which he will also win. Eventually this teenaged boy with the dark, thick-framed glasses will be one of those clean cut guys you see in movies like Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff - wearing a white collar shirt with short sleeves and a few pens stuffed into the shirt’s pocket. He will have a degree in space travel and one or two masters degrees and Ph.D. in physics. He’ll have built rockets, know all about quarks and mass and the universal gravitational constant.

But what page ARE you going to start on? Where should you start? Would page 15 be a good place to start? What would happen if you walked into a bookstore, browsed the shelves, and every book you pulled out started not on page one, but on page 15, or 28, maybe even page 62. That might be a bit too far, starting on page 62. You’d be dropped right into, perhaps, a dull moment in the book, in the story, a lull in which the protagonist is sitting in a bookstore/cafe - one of the many ubiquitous bookstore-cafes, just sitting there, sipping a decaf nonfat latte, wondering on what page her story will get going again, wondering on what page her car will break down on a back country road, changing her life, and the plot, irrevocably.

What page are you going to start on? You pull another book, because you don’t want to start on page 62, surely there’s another option - so you pull another book. This one starts on page 12. A woman has just stumbled, tripped in the grate of a busy city street (perhaps she was crossing the street to get to the other side, to get to one of those ubiquitous bookstore/cafes we’ve heard so much about of late). She has stumbled, skinned her bare knee, broken the nail of her big toe so the beautiful white line from her French manicure is ruined. And her purse has spilled - so classic, so cliche. And as she gathers her possession, a handsome man with sharp white teeth and dashingly well-trimmed mustache and beard, driving one of the buses, rolls up and runs her over flat. That would be a good page to start at. Page 12. But what will happen next, on page 13? Wouldn’t the story have ended on page 12 already? Start and stop on the same page. Not much of a book that.

You put that book back on the shelf. No, you don’t want to start on page 61 or 12. What else? You pull out yet another book, a thick, stubby book with a blue cover. You open it to page 3 and read:

Strolling down the street, wondering if she had let the cat out, she fell.
She landed upside down on the moon, grey-green moon-dust shoved up her nose.

She had always wanted a nose job. Now NASA could pay for it.

She took the gum out of her mouth and made a cast of the impression her nose had left on the surface of the moon.

In court, the lawyer showed enlarged before and after photos of her nose, and handed the jury the bubblegum fossil of her nose as it landed on the moon. A small baggy of moon dust was also handed over to the jurors, each Each one dipping a finger into the dust before passing it reluctantly along to the juror in the box.

Half the jury were women with long, hook-like noses that gleamed under the artificial light of the courtroom. Though they were jealous of of the woman’s options and didn’t buy her story, they were inclined to side with her.

In the courtroom sat that man with the close-cropped hair, wearing dark, thick-framed glasses and short-sleeved, white collar shirt. Yes, the teenager who had won one science fair after another and gone to work at NASA. Now he sat in the courtroom, listening carefully to the expert witness who discussed he universal gravitational constant, the moon’s earthquakes, its dust particles and the affects of a gravity-less environment on the nose. The man analyzed the evidence at hand. Then his eyes glazed over and in his head he saw equations

F net = m * a


F grav = G*m1*m2/d2

He ran the calculations swiftly in his head, determining the gravitational pull between the woman and the moon, Between himself and the woman. He wanted to know. And when he finished his calculations, he opened his eyes. The woman with the moon-dust nose was surely the girl of his dreams. His calculations could not be wrong. And she had been there, to that place he had, so long ago, designed rocket ships to reach. And she had arrived there simply by falling down.