Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It Must End

The murders of innocent children in Pakistan disgusts and horrifies me, along with the rest of the world (except for the perpetrators, who insanely feel justified).  Many of the children were buried in their school uniforms.

I wonder if human civilization will ever learn anything at all .  We can feel outrage, pain, sadness, but what I also feel today is my own helplessness in ever changing anything.  I cannot ever lose hope, but I have to admit to helplessness.

The plight will never end (one of my favorite statements, though coined by Hannibal Lecter via Thomas Harris).

Women, the elderly, and children are victims of war....and mainly children:


I myself need to remember that, when my vision is hampered by my own concerns about the past, personal harms done to me, etc, that I need to pull my head out and look at the larger world.

Cry out against this horror, and all others.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Reading Not So Between The Lines

My friend and I were perusing dating profiles last night out of curiosity. I thought I'd highlight a couple of salient points.

Short note to women (I am sure men go through this, too, so it probably applies on both sides):

1) A person who denigrates their ex in a dating profile (and elsewhere, but especially in an online profile which is supposed to "market" a person you know nothing about and make them look attractive)--please know that this person is going to say the same things about you once the inevitable break-up happens, and throughout the relationship, too.  This is because they are a) not ready to have a relationship and b) still attached to the ex and need to work out those issues a lot more.

And believe me, the conversations with this sort of person aren't going to be fun for you, will be generally untrue or half-truths, and you are going to hear about "the crazy ex" a lot and how no relationship ever works out (big red flag there, too--it means they have never really worked on a relationship, or the other person tried and they didn't)  These are ploys for maximum sympathy, designed to rope you in, good.  I used to say these sorts of things, too, and really regret how stupid-assed I was.  And I was also very stupid to fall for the same thing myself at first, but no more.  If someone you find on these sites gets into the, "Oh, look how I have suffered at the hands of crazy women (or men)"--run the other way, fast.  It is a red flag waved by red-painted people.

2) If anyone seriously denigrates their ex in a dating profile (or in real-time) for having life difficulties well out of their control (aside from outright criminal behavior, which they also shouldn't be talking about in a profile), please run, fast, and don't give this person the time of day. It shows precisely how sensitive this person is to difficult issues of every shade, and how helpful.  It could be a breakdown due to trauma, hospitalizations of any kind, cancer or other serious illnesses, losing a home, needing to step in and caretake a child or a vulnerable elderly person, unemployment, or any of the unpredictable things that happen to someone...because unfortunate things happen to us all.  You, dear woman (or man), are the next person to be abandoned when the waters get even a bit rough. Your problems detract from THEIR crises and problems anyways, and those have to be first and foremost in the relationship, right?  Consider yourself warned.  The other question you should ask is, " Why did you not help your partner when they were having problems?" The answer is: they didn't feel like it.

Further, the story you will be told about the unfortunate ex will a) be mostly untrue and b) be manipulated by omission, "weasel words" and slanted statements to cast the manipulator in the most bright and vivid light possible, and the unfortunate ex in the worst, partially so you won't be tempted to talk to her and hear his/her side of things.  If the person uses the phrase "she was nothing but a victim" (or something similar)--get away, because you will eventually be described as such, too. Or, you might get about five words as to why things ended, even more worrisome: there will be a lot below those words to which you really should be privy.  Mostly, though, you will hear how terribly inconvenient it all was.  You are supposed to be sad on his/her behalf, just to let you know.

Also, some people have profound secrets themselves, which is generally why they employ the "crazy ex" tactic (sorry to say, but women are often particularly sucked into being made to feel superior to the ex..the old "you are not like the others" trick...it's a ploy, and an effective one which most manipulative types make good use of...and the women forget they are next if they don't toe the line.  Vanity and being made to feel superior are strong drugs, best resisted).  Plus, nobody wants to talk to a "crazy ex"--who might just be quite in full possession of their faculties and have a couple of salient things to say that you should know, too.

To the writers of such little gems:  you might want to consider waiting until you are actually ready.  Really: would you respond to a dating profile like that?  Would you actually want someone in your life who is attracted to such negativity?  Think about it...because if you get someone who is attracted to that, you are next, too, for all the things I just described.

As for myself, I realize just how much I need time to think about things like this. It's not like replacing a car or something, and I am living just fine and working on my own troubles and very real shortcomings, which is all I can work on, anyways.  I am not at all lonely and have plenty of things in the world that provide happiness and companionship.

At any rate, it is a jungle out there...keep your wits about you and your eyes open.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Such Times In Which We Live, and Wendell Berry

I am saddened beyond measure by the news, the chaos, prejudice, racism, violence, fear.  I am heartened by the untold thousands willing to protest, risking life and limb to do so.  I grew up in the sixties and seventies, and remember well the assasination of Kennedy (one of my first indelible memories), Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy. I remember segregation, and the racism within my own family.  The plight is unending; the plight is something against which every human being must exert vigilance and courage, as long as we all have breath.

Sometimes, as a writer, I wonder what good my words might ever do.  This is especially true for poetry.  Poetry is meant, ultimately, to be a balm for the world, or an illumination, a reminder of everything good, bad, shadowy, lightful, and all of this woven from sheer language, like the most wonderful alchemy.  I lost my way as a poet for many years, for various reasons.

Part of my recovery as a poet is to read other poets again; right now I am reading as much of Wendell Berry's work.  Berry is an activist, a farmer, a family man, a brilliant writer, a man with great moral courage (yes, I repeat this a lot, but I am beginning to think that the development of true moral courage is probably one of the goals of my life).  His Wikipedia biography is well-written and worth a read:

Wendell Berry

Here is Berry during an interview with Bill Moyers; Berry reads, "A Poem on Hope."


I thought I would describe how cute my granddaughter is tonight, instead of talking about shadowy stuff.

1) She lost her first tooth a few days ago.  She did not want me to make and embroider an elaborate tooth-fairy pillow with a cute little pocket for the tooth.  Instead, she wanted me to put the tooth in a baggie and put her name on the baggie with Magic Marker so the Tooth Fairy would know whose it was.  She is a very practical soul.

2) She got a dollar from the Tooth Fairy (the rule is that the Tooth Fairy says you can't spend your money from her on candy).  Thistle then proceeded to wave her dollar in my face like it was a gold certificate and talked about all the things she could buy with it, including "hot snack" at school (they have "hot snack" and "hot lunch" every Friday at her school, and she likes understanding how money can get you those wonderful things.  She calls it "having money in your hand").

3) She wrote me a letter all on her own today that said, "Grandma i love you so so so so so so so much."

4) She wrote a song about the local drugstore, CVS, which is called "CV CVS."  She has been copying the one lyric (which is the title also) onto multiple letters for family and friends, drawing multicolored musical notes on the letters also, and putting the letters in envelopes to send them.  She is a very good marketer of her songs, it seems.

5) She is learning to eat spaghetti by twirling it on her fork.  Tonight was the first night we had anything like a proper dinner...the past week was the organic equivalent of Spaghetti-os and macaroni and cheese from a box, as we were both too sick to eat much or cook well before tonight.  Thistle told me tonight (exact words) that "It is fun to slurp spaghetti but not polite.  It is important to eat properly."

6) For some reason, she wants to have a "spy name" and me, too.  Her spy name is "Ghost Pumpkin."  Mine is "Window Glasses."

Saturday, December 13, 2014


I am very sad that almost no pictures exist on the Internet of my friend Anne and the other victims of San Diego serial killer David Alan Lucas.  You can, however, see a brief picture of her, and another two victims (horribly, a mother and child, Suzanne and Colin Jacobs) in the following video.  Anne is the woman with the long hair.  Lucas had other victims (one woman, Jodie Robertson, survived the attack and testified against Lucas in his trial).  Lucas had his death penalty affirmed in August; his execution date has not been set and it is likely he will die in prison of natural causes.  No matter how I feel about the death penalty (I have never, because of Anne, Asha, and others, been able to say no), if he ever does get executed, you can bet I will be outside San Quentin that night with people who loved Anne and all the other women and children he killed and hurt.

Here is the link to the video from ABC 10 News in San Diego:


By the way, look at how handsome he was back then.  Who would have believed he is a serial killer?  He looks like a surfer; he had a business (carpet cleaning) and a girlfriend.

No Stranger to Lost Women

Note:  some potentially triggering subject matter here.

I have gotten about a third into the way of the first part of my Asha Veil book.  It has so far led me to a very life-changing chapter in my younger history: I knew someone who was murdered by a serial killer in 1985.  My friend, Anne Swanke, was a music major at the University of San Diego (the place where I was raped in March 1981 by someone I had previously trusted too much--talk about  life caving in on people too young to handle any of this).  Anne was abducted by serial killer David Alan Lucas when her car ran out of gas late at night.  This was long before cell phones, call boxes, etc--one has to wonder how many lives have been saved because of those things.

I can find no picture of Anne on the Internet, though one existed for some time and I did not capture it.  She had long red hair, blue eyes, freckles.  Anne sang alto and sometimes tenor in the University choir in which I also sang.  It is a weird coincidence that Asha and Anne both had alto singing voices; both were music majors and talented musicians as well.  It reminds me of Ovid's Metamorphoses, violated and brutalized women turned into nightingales that forever ply their sorrow in night songs.

But this it not time for fanciful thoughts:  Anne was kidnapped off the side of the road, and found some time later, dumped on a rocky hillside in San Diego, another woman tossed like a pile of trash, away.

I am no stranger to lost women, it seems.  San Diego itself has a creepy, seedy underbelly like nowhere else:  it is the place I lost every shred of my innocence.  I learned that friends could betray, that a benign-seeming person could be a rapist, that a boyfriend I loved would not protect me (and how I recycled that scenario again in 2011!), that a priest I trusted could be a serial rapist of young men in the seminary.  I would have done much better had I gone to UCSC; m. said he loved his time there, and I am sure I would have, too, in view of the cold ocean and the dry fields, and the hippie students who probably would have accepted my quirky self.  Yet this was my path: I learned early that life has an underbelly, and that bringing the underbelly to light can defuse it, if only a bit.  "The plight will never end," Hannibal Lecter counseled Clarice Starling, but it is possible to salve at least some of the plight.

I felt vulnerable in San Diego in a way that I have never felt anywhere else, even in my hometown of Los Angeles.  It is likely I will never go back there alone: always I go with someone who understands that I feel the need to hold someone's hand, metaphorically:  too much happened to me and the place is forever tainted, sorry to say.  My boyfriend from that time lives 40 minutes away from me, asks me to have coffee with him, maybe lunch or dinner; what does he have to say to me?  That he is sorry he did not have the moral courage to shelter someone who had stood by him as he studied through two Bar exams, that he is sorry I have PTSD, that a part of me will never heal, that he is sorry our innocence was robbed?  That my rape lives in me like a dybbuk that will never be exorcised, and he understands that? Who knows?  Anne's death was the distillation of all that was wrong back then: it is as if a crack opened up in the fabric of time and horror poured into the world.  I was young, I was foolish, I trusted too much;  Anne was young but I doubt she was foolish: she was a young woman whose car ran out of gas, late at night on a dark road.

Why is it that people never consider my rapist, long dead, and feel anger on my behalf?  Why is it that Anne's killer has women writing love letters to him?  Why did the person I loved with all my heart say that I was responsible for an attack that happened to me from behind, from a person I could not see, someone who came out of the dark while I was sitting at the end of a row, listening to music?  Is it so hard to say, "This is a person given over to evil pursuits and you are not to blame for what happened?"  I am not all-powerful:  no one has the ability to protect themselves 100 percent of the time. Why blame the victim when the perpetrator shoulders the entire burden of guilt?

My task as a writer this time around is to cast as blinding a light as I can on the abyss, the underbelly, to remember Anne and Asha, and in some ways, all the women who are the collateral damage of what I can only say is evil incarnate:  we can look and look into a person's history and understand that abuse can produce certain behaviors, but at some point, pedophiles, rapists, murderers, etc., make a choice to behave as they do, and that choice tips the scales straight into evil.  If I can shed my little light for a moment on that, and for a much larger moment on how much the world lost when Anne and Asha were taken from it, then I will have accomplished my task as a writer this time around.

Friday, December 12, 2014

No Way

There is a planned reunion for a dance class I took for many, many years. At first, I leapt to it, then realized: I sought approval from this teacher for so many years...I have a fantastic teacher now in a similar genre and feel my confidence growing, but I still carry remnants of a time when I felt I was not good enough and never would be. I must refuse to get involved again...I cannot be away from Thistle for a weekend anyways, but I also cannot get involved in guru worship again...it is a dangerous place for me to go.  I seek approval from inappropriate people: from that teacher and from m., who rejected me so cruelly, who describes me on a public forum as not even having basic mental health, and still from whom the slightest word makes me happy...I must remember that most people do not treat me as he did. When there is a real apology from him, maybe...but until then, I must be careful.

There is risk and danger in trying to remake and reorder the past with people, to try and make things right again.  There is no sense in that delusion, only a compounding of the sadness I already have over these people.


First off: bronchitis has settled very deeply into my lungs. Neither of my doctors can see me today, so it is time for Urgent Care.  I am never supposed to get infections while on chemo. I have had pneumonia before without knowing it.

I have also sadly decided that I am going to stop trying to re-join my old writing group that meets at Orchard Valley Coffee in Campbell.  The self-appointed "gatekeeper" is so problematic at this point that I am tired of trying.  I am sorry he hoards every activity we ever shared. There was no reason for me to have to struggle to find a dance community, another writing group, etc....it happened only because he decided to try and hurt me as deeply as he could.  I think the person he really wants to hurt is not me, which I think is too often the case.  We hurt in others what we hate in ourselves.

I do have my old writing group I have been in for years, so that is a blessing.  I am glad they still wanted me back.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

And the rain rain rain came down down down

The above title is from Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day

We are having much-needed rain here in Santa Cruz. Thistle and I are very sick, me with bronchitis and Thistle with a cold. We are riding out the storm fairly well, though I had to use several towels this afternoon to dam up a flood coming under the door.  Many, many trees and branches down, the creek visible from the house, wonder if it will overflow the banks.  Sonic boom of a landslide somewhere in the neighborhood, massive branches coming down. I hunker down after Thistle goes to sleep, read Slaughterhouse-Five, incredulous that I have missed this amazing book all my life. I cannot put it down.

So it goes....

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

creepy dream....

I often dream of people close to me who have died, and usually they look younger and happier.  When my mother died, I dreamed of her in my childhood home, ironing, looking out to our backyard, a time when she seemed so happy.

However, the dream I had about my mother in law frightened me...I dreamed last night that she was dumped into my house to take care of, along with Thistle  I felt frantic, trying to care for a young child and a helpless elderly woman. I dreamed I was able to help Mary sleep peacefully, but then she woke in terrible pain, disheveled and afraid. For some weird dream reason, she ended up under my dining table, where she had four seizures, then folded herself up into a fetal position.

All week I have been feeling shadowed and sad...I wonder if she is okay in the afterlife.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

No More

I am glad women are beginning to speak out more forcefully against violence towards them.  I have included an excellent article from CNN today.

Someone in the local writing community emailed me information recently about one person in my life who obviously blames me for being sexual assaulted and for my subsequent, serious PTSD reaction.  I do not think he understands, nor cares about, the role of a partner in mitigating trauma after an attack. And I am saddened, but not shocked, that he displays for a large online community's derision my years-ago hospitalization of four days in an excellent therapeutic ward because of PTSD after the assault.

I am equally as sorry that he offers up his cruelty and derision about my hospitalization as a way of making himself look compelling and attractive somehow. Any woman who would be so desperate or so insensitive to respond to that sort of thing, I figure would be someone he amply deserves. We all have struggles and some people have infinitely worse things to struggle with, and far more potential for destructive consequences, than I do. I am glad most people I know would rather be compassionate and strive for enlightenment than choose such a degree of callous ignorance.

Anyways, this is a good article.


Monday, December 08, 2014

Laser Rat

My house is in a heavily wooded area in Santa Cruz County.  Because I no longer have a cat, I have, from time to time, wood rats making a visit.  They are gross, and therefore I bought one of those electric rat zappers.  It's been some time since I've been able to get the trap set up (plus no evidence of rodent activity in the house), but I set it up anyways, as it has been raining.   I baited it with cat food, as that is easier to sprinkle in the little holes at the end, where bait goes.  And today...behold!  A rat, gone to Rat Heaven.  The nice part of the zapper is that you really don't have to see the rat.  I love all beings, but rats are destructive to a house and carry diseases of all kinds.

Home Depot and Orchard Supply are becoming my new best friends as I get my Lompico house into shape for a second big haul-out.  I'm so disgusted that it has taken me so long.  I cannot get a refrigerator in until the deck is replaced, unless it is brought through the back entrance, but am going to call an appliance repair guy as soon as the haulout is done.

In the meantime, i am pulling up all the linoleum in the kitchen/dining room and calculating square footage for the new linoleum tiles.  Next is deciding whether to repair my parquet tile floor in the living room or crowbar up all the tiles (many of which are missing anyways) and replace it with new flooring.

It's turning out to be quite a project, but I am proud of the work I have done.

Plus, no rats.  

Sunday, December 07, 2014


Thistle's school participated in our city's annual holiday parade, which was quite fun.  The school had built a float (crepe paper, chicken wire, etc) on a flatbed trailer, and made it look like a red steam engine.  The "steam" was provided by bubble machines, and there were benches for as many kids to sit on as could be loaded into the trailer.  The rest of the kids walked in front of the float (which was towed by two dads in a red truck), and there was a drill team led by the dance teacher; we stopped at intervals so they could dance to the "Locomotion" song. All the kids, and some parents, wore neon-spring-green sweatshirts.  It was really fun--all the parents walked behind the float and waved to people (we joked that we were the Secret Service).  There were quite interesting folks in the parade, including a man with a giant blue wig driving a pedicab containing a man in a giant rainbow wig, who played an electric sitar.  Only in Santa Cruz...and it's one of the reasons I love this town.