Archive for March, 2007

Monkey Mind - Don’t Feed the Monkey, photo by QuoinMonkey, March 2007, all rights reserved                                                                                                                                                                       -Monkey Mind, Don’t Feed the Monkey, March 10th, 2007

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Time to get to the heart of the beast. Silent predator. Guardian. Of what? The intangible tangerine. I miss the silence. The scheduled flights West. I will be going East, end of May, beginning of June. Geography. The Monkey may follow me. To the heart of the South. Breeding some nameless representation of gangly limbs and chirping mouths, receding gums. Wreeereeereereeree. My allergies are acting up. Doubts creep in. At the center is a thing that is less than me.

Everyone seems so confident on TV. What happened to Mister Ed? Airplane glue? Remember those models you used to put together? Cars. They were model cars. A 57 Chevy. Ford Model T. A 63 Volkswagen. But me, I put together models of Frankenstein’s wife. I read Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe. The Fly. Tom Sawyer, too. I could never get into books about Victorian women in crinoline dresses. I wanted to. But I couldn’t.

Wait, I don’t have allergies? I am allergic to work. I’m tired. I need rest. I’m heading to Duluth, to sit by the Mother Lake, the womb of the earth, half Canadian, half American, and skim stones across the surface. It’s the tension that holds them up, the rocks, I mean. The draw bridge will rise. The snow will be gone. The wind will blow. On Park Point Beach the gulls will be flying. You will run in the rain like last time. There were dying butterflies out of season. Come to think of it, there were beetles running along the sand.


One summer I went with a friend and sat on the beach. I didn’t know her well. We laughed so much. And had a picnic in the sand. I got so burnt, I had to have a friend bring aloe vera and Solarcaine over the next day. I couldn’t move. I think it was the last thing we ever did together, the last time I saw her. I never think of her anymore. Except, look, there she is on the page.

That’s what happens. People come and they go. But when you are linked by blood, someone usually remembers what happened. Is that what they mean when they say blood is thicker than water?

Don’t feed the Monkey. Or as least if you do, make him tell you the time.

Friday, March 30th, 2007  

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1567, from Anglo-Fr. memorie “note, memorandum, something written to be kept in mind” (1427), from L. memoria (see memory). Meaning “person’s written account of his life” is from 1673. The pl. form memoirs “personal record of events,” first recorded 1659. 
                                             – from the Online Etymology Dictionary


I’ve been thinking about memoir, the word, the difficulty people have pronouncing it. If you write creative nonfiction, chances are you read memoir. I am reading Bone Black, the bell hooks memoir about growing up in the South. Reading other writers jogs the memory.

My thoughts are pulled to the South because my step-mother in South Carolina passed away a few days ago. I wasn’t close to her, and had not seen her in a few years. Yet when I heard the news, I was flooded with memories of the time I spent with her.

That is the power of memoir.

I have a great sadness at her passing, though our relationship wasn’t as much about the present, as it was the past. Memoir is about the past. It revives and documents the history of living. History is full of contradiction.

Some of the sadness I feel is for my step-dad, who I was very close to as a child. In honoring his loss, I am sad, too. But the grief for me is deeper.

The most vivid memories of my step-mother are from the mid-sixties, my preteen years, a tumultuous time when my younger sister, two brothers, and I were uprooted and moved to the North. It was a difficult transition, and painful to be distanced from my family in the South – the only family I had ever known.

Looking back, it turned out for the best. I was exposed to a whole new culture in the North, different ways of thinking, talking, and living. I met my 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Juarez, who made me read Dickens, believed in me, and inspired me to write. My experiences grew richer. All of them have led me here.

It has been 4 years since I’ve seen my step-mother; it was the year I quit my job and started writing. My last memories of her are leaning back in her rocker recliner, laughing and joking with us kids. We were all grown, well into middle age, attending a short reunion a few miles south of the border river that flows between Georgia and South Carolina – the Savannah.

Grandkids and great-grandkids were running, dancing, and jumping across the dark brick family room between rounds of lazy adult chatter and a noisy TV. I used to watch The Trooper Terry Show in that room, on a black and white with rabbit ears. It was the same 202 address, with the same aluminum mailbox, that received my letters to my step-dad in back slanted 6th grade handwriting.

The letters would soon drop off in 7th grade, a direct correlation to the rising teenage anger that welled up inside me. I attended New Cumberland Junior High in Pennsylvania and was teased mercilessly for my Southern accent. It wasn’t easy to change the way I talked. They might as well have asked me to cut off my right index finger. Yet, eventually, I did lose the accent. And ties to my Southern roots became confusing and disjointed.

It would take me a number of years to integrate and appreciate my past. That’s what memoir’s for. And in a few months, I’ll be travelling with my Mother to the South to begin researching my book.

Old endings. New beginnings.

I have done a lot of work since the sixties. A lot of letting go. On one of the last visits with my step-mother and step-dad, they told me how different I was from that dark, brooding teenager that sat in the corner rocker and never spoke. Those were their last memories of me.

When you don’t see distant relatives much, you tend to freeze them in place, lock them into distance and time. They are who they were the last time you visited them. But it works both ways. I am frozen, too – a still-frame snapshot in their memories.

Letting go is a great gift. It allows me to make room for all the good stuff. My memories may only be trinkets, shards of 40 year old bone, unearthed from iron-rich banks of Georgia clay that used to muddy my corduroys as a kid.

But my memories are mine. I choose to remember my step-mother for all the good things she gave the world, for what I loved about her:

  • Southern manners, the way she turned a phrase, the lawdy mercies! and come here, shugah’s, and my pet name for Liz, Shug
  • her warm smile, the way she laughed, a loud cackle that could fill a room
  • Southern cooking, buttery mashed potatoes with thick gravy, piping hot cornbread that melts in your mouth, spinach greens with just the right touch of vinegar and salt, fresh turkey and cornbread dressing, sweet iced tea, and a huge vat of homemade banana pudding. That girl could cook!
  • sipping 7up through a straw with me that time I was sick and laid up on the couch
  • she liked to go bare foot, paint her toenails bright red, and always wore flip-flops
  • she loved Granny and Pop the way I loved Granny and Pop
  • she loved the youngin’s, the babies, and hugged them every chance she got
  • she loved my step-dad, who I love, too

I live in the Midwest now. I walked the labyrinth on Monday and thought about how swiftly a little girl can shoot from 11 to 50, with barely a sneeze in between. My step-mother’s passing marks another fading link to my Southern childhood, roots whose stories die with the people who planted them.

I don’t remember the last time I openly grieved. We live in a youth-driven culture that does not emotionally or financially support taking quiet time to honor loss. But writing is a constant process of letting go.

It’s important to live well. Each time someone close to me passes on, it reminds me that this one life is precious. And the threat of death makes you want to live just a little bit harder.

In memory of my step-mother, Betty, who travelled into Spirit, Wednesday, March 28th, 2007, and is being laid to rest as I post this.

For all that has passed, and all that has been forgiven.

Friday, March 30th, 2007

-related to post, Labyrinth Walker

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I am a simple person. I like that I can walk the labyrinth, read bell hooks, and love Stephen King, all in the same week.

I love mysteries, used to devour them. And his books were the ones I packed into heavy cardboard boxes, lugged down two flights of stairs, and schlepped up another one when I moved out of my apartment of 14 years last December.

When I was checking out creative writing blogs, I ran into a 1988 Stephen King article on del.icio.us. A lot of rivers have been sucked dry since 1988. But you can still find a pool to swim in on his list.

There is more at the link – click and roll down to the bottom of the page for his lively explanations, banterish backup, and the story of how Stephen King learned to write. This is bare bones.

Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully – in Ten Minutes
by Stephen King

1.    Be talented

2.    Be neat

3.    Be self-critical

4.    Remove every extraneous word

5.    Never look at a reference book while doing a first draft

6.    Know the markets

7.    Write to entertain

8.    Ask yourself frequently, “Am I having fun?”

9.    How to evaluate criticism

10.  Observe all rules for proper submission

11.  An agent? Forget it. For now

12.  If it’s bad, kill it

(reprinted in Sylvia K. Burack, ed. The Writer’s Handbook. Boston, MA: Writer, Inc., 1988: 3-9, copyright Stephen King, 1988)


Thursday, March 29th, 2007

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i come here often
to ponder higher learning
ice like busted glass

crinkly brown leaves glow
first bare feet of the season
away from center

cool black mud follows
the ripple of blowing hair
under secret feet

out of season wind
shadowboxing the bare elm
blending crabapple

winding in and out
green spouts under black pant cuff
gnat, a rising star

twisted shadow branch
you can walk any season
while going nowhere

juicy green center
the perimeter is dry
sweat between my legs

grubby spring tadpole
dark undertones on the lake
snap to attention

winter is over
from crumbling insanity
springs eternal life

humbled by the saints
who walked tight curves before me
moon high in the sky

talking to Louis
in lotus blossom petals
Chartres calls me home

sun hot on white face
naked feet to unthawed ground
mosquito flits by

near the end of March
how bad i need a haircut
stepping in the door

wavy grass petals
undefined by crooked lines
spikes from a spiral

tennis ball popping
off a catgut racket head
damp earth underfoot

rings of blanket ice
i miss the snowy season
the itch in my nose

lone fly buzzes by
a leaf between pasty toes
yells, “March 25th!”

I stopped at Porky’s
remembered the fire pig year
grass grows as I walk

on the edge again
a stubborn leaf pricked my sole
out came a reindeer

a woman walks near
fire red pants & orange striped top
she wants what i have

drive peace & spread love
dare it to follow you here
chasing a faux tale

part of my practice
mixes raw heat with cold fire
a mother’s last wish

-haiku from labyrinth walk, March 26th, 2007

-related to post, Spring Walk and Labyrinth Walker

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Labyrinth - March 26th, 2007, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved                  

spring walk, March 26th, 2007, entrance to labyrinth, St. Paul, Minnesota, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

-related to post, labyrinth walker

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I walked the labyrinth yesterday. It was 83 degrees in the Twin Cities on a March 26th. Shirts were off, motorcycles tuned, potholes exposed. The temperature threw me. Three weeks ago, we were knee deep in the worst blizzard in 25 years.

I took off my Land’s End quilted moccasins, stripped off my wool socks, rolled up my pant cuffs, and started walking. The cool mud under my feet grounded me. Twenty minutes to the center. Fifteen minutes out.

The journey out is always faster. I don’t know why.

I sat at the center of 6 lotus drops with undefined edges. Growing blades of grass mark the petals in other seasons. But we are only a few days on this side of Spring.

I wrote haiku into a Supergirl pocket tablet with the new Space Pen Liz gave me last week. And then I plopped on my back, legs straight out, and stared at the sky. The moon was backlit against a crisp New Mexico blue. I snapped a few photographs from my position on the ground. I had a thought of David Bowie – planet earth to moon, planet earth to moon.

I was thinking about my step-mother in South Carolina as I walked. She’s been sick, bedridden for some time. My brother called from Pennsylvania on Sunday to tell me that my step-dad wanted me to know – her time may be short. I prayed for her as I walked. But if it is her time to let go, I prayed for the strength it would take to surrender.

With the cool earth at my back, in the center of 41 feet of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet labyrinth, my brother called on the cell. I had forgotten to turn it off. I debated whether or not to answer it. But I knew what he was calling about. So I flipped open the phone.

I told him where I was. He smiled; I could hear it in his voice. We talked for only a few minutes. But the connection felt true.

I sat a few minutes longer, observing a twisted shadow in the distance across the lawn. The walk out moved quickly. I stepped. I wrote. I swerved out of the lines to let a woman pass on the rutted path. She nodded and whispered, “Thank you.”

Each toe dropped to the earth in tune. I can’t tell you how good it felt to have bare feet on earth. In the space between winter and spring, I had both feet firmly planted on the ground. It was the first time in weeks.

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

-related to post, Labyrinth

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Big mujer

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I started experimenting with color this weekend. The paintbrush is a foreign instrument. I prefer pens. You can control them. They are precise.

Paintbrushes are the opposite. Flimsy and loose. You can’t stop the red from bleeding off the lips and on to the chin. Kind of like when you apply too much lipstick. It gets on your teeth, smears your upper lip. It’s a mess, but even lipstick comes in a tube and can be applied between the lines.

My relationship to painting and painting instruments is young. Like where I once was with writing and writing instruments. When I was in college my handwriting was small and compact. People I studied with commented on how tidy my class notes were, and I was popular with students who made a habit of missing class.

Now, with so many years of writing under my belt, my handwriting is big and loopy. I sometimes can’t read it myself. I still start out small but once I get going in a piece, my hand loosens up. It has to to keep up with my thoughts.

I watch my daughter when she paints. She finishes a painting in ten or fifteen minutes. She never stays between the lines. Colors bleed. Sometimes the black sky dominates. Her paintings are beautiful. She tells me, “Look, Mom,” and then she says, “I like this one.”

When I was her age I was already a perfectionist. My parents encouraged me to be a realist. The more life-like my houses–with their three-dimensional roofs–the more encouragement I received. Grade school teachers, too, handed out gold stars for stiff, upright trees and intact, smiling families standing in a row.

I picked up drawing last summer after years of hiatus. I’m still tight with my hand; hence, the doodles. Just finish the piece, I tell myself. Finish it, turn the page, do the next one.

I don’t know that I’ll ever do anything with my art but publish it on this blog. I’m not worrying about it much right now. The blog at least has me drawing again. And it’s getting me curious about the paint stuff. Color, hue, tone, and the brushes. Wow. The variety is endless.

Mostly I’m sick of not coloring outside the lines. It’s become metaphor for the way I sometimes live my life. Cautiously. I’m ready to let go.

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Last week there were cracked pocks of ice along the trail in the park near my house. This week, no snow remains. Only dead dry crinkled brown with lime green shooting through the cracks. The ice skating pond across the street is almost dry. There are pools of water waiting to soak into permafrosted soil. I am lonely. I am lonely most days. I was writing about this in another practice this morning. I think it’s part of a contemplative life, this loneliness.

I want to go walk the labyrinth. I wonder if the snow has melted from her curves. I need to go pick up my taxes and mail them. I want to run wild. It’s not possible. I have obligations and responsibilities. Next weekend, I’m going up to Duluth with Liz. It will be thawing on the North Shore, too.

A photo of Wordraw standing near Caffe Tazza flicked across the screensaver as I was writing. I briefly glanced up and there he was on his cell phone to a friend with a newborn. I remember the lady bugs in the window of the Taos storefront. And how warm the sun was on my face. Spring comes to Taos earlier than here in the North. I wonder if it’s the way the ground freezes real hard here. And tumbles out of itself in gusty March winds.

It doesn’t feel like a typical March. Seventies yesterday. We opened the windows and a cross breeze blew through the house most of the day. I am weary. And need a break. Next weekend away will feel good to me. I am noticing that I am ready to make a life of this writing thing. Not really the way I thought it would look. I might never get to do just one thing around writing. It may always be this combination of darts in and out of the real world and the fictional one in my mind.

I was perusing creative writing blogs this morning. I saw one in Portuguese, one in Swedish. I opened them but I couldn’t read them. I simply stared at the characters on the page, hoping something would sink through to me. I am that connected to someone who speaks Portuguese or lives in Sweden. And they are that close to me. I shrink when I realize that they will probably be able to read my blog. Because English is the dominant culture language.

I’ve been reintroduced to dominant culture thinking through Riane Eisler and Jean Shinoda Bolen and Alice Walker in the last month. I listen. I read. But all I have to do is go walk the labyrinth and the barriers melt away. The Spring thaw. Because that’s what happens with archetypes. All people can relate to them. The universal language.

But I’m supposed to be writing about spring break. When I was in college, we didn’t take the kind of wild spring breaks I see on TV these days. Thank goodness for small favors, to quote my mother. We might head over to a remote beach at the ocean for a day and walk the boardwalk. Back then I owned a mint green Ford Econoline van with my lover. I worked at an Alert gas station in the summers. Or pumped gas for semi’s.

It’s hard to remember spring breaks. Everything seemed to run right into fall and winter.

Monday, March 26th, 2007

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Funny how on this Spring Break Monday morning I want the tile floor to be warm. It’s cold, cold as tile can be on a still cool morning. If I turn on the heat, then my mid-morning the whole house will be stuffy.

Spring. A transitional season. A season of wind, sudden snowfall, 80-degree days that make you fret summer will be a scorcher. Or today. A “normal” spring day. A breeze will start up by noon. The temperature will hit 68. Clouds will gather by late afternoon. A chance for rainstorms tomorrow.

I’m making it up. We had rain all Friday night and most of Saturday. Then sun yesterday. I’d like to say spring is my favorite season. A hopeful season. Warmth after a long, cold winter. The shoots on the elm trees are so brilliant green they make your eyes hurt. Especially elms, the weed of trees. Nasty little yellow seeds that by planting time will blow across fields and roads, move like swarms close to the ground.

Spring, and if it weren’t for the ushering in of summer I could pass on it. If I lived further north spring might be a continuation of winter. Nothing to write home about.

Good news is my allergies are not spring allergies. People around here are sneezing and crying about their allergies. Radio DJs home sick on a workday morning. I wouldn’t mind staying home, not sick, though. I wouldn’t mind being a kid again, having the week off for Spring Break. Wouldn’t mind spring one bit at all.

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Sunday Morning really rocked today. The least of it was that it ended with my beloved sandhill cranes roosting on the Platte River. Beautiful.

And Stevie Nicks is still rockin’ in middle age, after 30 plus years, with no sign of stopping. She said she’s not the least bit interested in telling a partner when she’s leaving and when she’ll be home. She chose art over relationships. Liz and I saw her a few years ago at the Target Center in Minneapolis. She is a performer like no other.

 But what I want to mention is that Vanessa Redgrave is opening Broadway this week with a one woman play on Joan Didion’s work, The Year of Magical Thinking. They interviewed both Joan and Vanessa. Compelling material. Redgrave is up there on stage by herself for an hour and a half.

“I’m not alone,” she said. “Hopefully, the audience will be filling these seats, right up there with me.”

Didion showed up at every rehearsal to watch Redgrave. The best quote from her about writing Year of Magical Thinking: “I had to write it down. I can’t think unless it’s in terms of writing.” The play includes the death of her daughter as well as her husband. It is hard to imagine her grief. Impossible.

 My favorite segment was on Martín Ramírez, an artist who was confined to a psychiatric hospital in the 1930’s after being diagnosed as a catatonic schizophrenic. It is a sad story. He hardly said a word in 30 years but found room under tables, wherever he could, and drew his heart out. Painter, Wayne Thiebaud, was allowed to visit Ramirez and talked about his work which is hanging in the American Folk Art Museum in New York City.

I wish I could see it in person. He drew with wooden matchsticks on whatever paper he could find. Some of his work used pages from books or candy wrappers. Some was on the roll paper that a doctor pulls out in the office and spreads across the stainless steel table for exams. His drawings were striking. Busting out of silence.

 There’s also buzz about The Secret being based on the Power of Positive Thinking work of Norman Vincent Peale, though he is not credited in the book. They made it sound like another James Frey.  

 If you get a chance to see this week’s Sunday Morning in an archive, take advantage of it. Otherwise, you can read about these items at the links provided. It’s one of my favorite shows on TV.

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Wonder Woman Headgear - from ComicBloc.comI got a short, one page letter in the mail on Wonder Woman stationery from someone in last year’s Taos writing Intensive that inspired me to scour the world for Wonder Woman quotes.

It made me wonder if they actually remembered that writing practice I read about carrying the Golden Lasso of Truth through Missoula, Montana on Halloween, 1975, dressed in powder blue, unribbed long underwear, navy wrist bracelets, a fire red breast plate, and yellow domed headgear.

Or do they just love Wonder Woman as much as I do?

Here are the best quotes I found from DC comic books and the 1975 television series The New Original Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter. I also found The Wonder Woman Pages to be an incredible archive of information.

I’m reminded that TV, screen, and comic book scribes are writers, too.


[Oh, wait, that was Fried Green Tomatoes, one of my favorite films of all time. And, yes, I’ve even eaten them!]


“This is the Golden Lasso. Besides being made from an indestructible material, it also carries with it the power to compel people to tell the truth. Use it well, and with compassion.” – Queen Hippolyte (played by Cloris Leachman)

“Go in peace my daughter. And remember that, in a world of ordinary mortals, you are a Wonder Woman.” Queen Hippolyte

“Please take my hand. I give it to you as a gesture of friendship and love, and of faith freely given. I give you my hand and welcome you into my dream.” -Wonder Woman #167

“If it means interfering in an ensconced, outdated system, to help just one woman, man or child…I’m willing to accept the consequences.” -Wonder Woman #170

“What was it that John Lennon said? ‘Love is the flower you’ve got to let grow.’ Let it grow already, and quit trying to legislate it!”  -Wonder Woman #200

“Of all people, you know who I am…who the world needs me to be. I’m Wonder Woman.” -Infinite Crisis #1


And, finally, my personal favorite:

” A new journey to be started.
A new promise to be fulfilled.
A new page to be written.
Go forth unto this waiting world with pen in hand, all you young scribes,
the open book awaits.
Be creative.
Be adventurous.
Be original.
And above all else, b
e young.
For youth is your greatest weapon, your greatest tool.
Use it wisely.”

–Wonder Woman # 62 by George Perez
the scene where Vanessa Kapatelis graduates and Diana is hugging her

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

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I saw Riane Eisler at Amazon Bookstore last night. She wrote The Chalice and the Blade in 1987. As I commented in Saints or Sinners, she has a new book out, The New Wealth of Nations. It took her 10 years to write it. It took her 10 years to write The Chalice and the Blade.

Talk about process.

Eisler is an Austrian born Nazi survivor who has dedicated her life to meaningful work designed to evoke world change. She’s written books about politics, sex, partnerships, and now, money. She is animated and funny. She has a serious message.

When I left, I wondered if I was doing enough. I have a feeling that’s exactly what she wants me to wonder.

I sat next to Liz on the green couch a few feet from Riane, the same spot I sat to see Jean Shinoda Bolen a few weeks ago. I am still digesting Riane’s talk. I haven’t read her new book yet. It’s hot off the presses. She wrote the Intro in January 2007. We were her first book signing. She drove to Amazon straight off the plane at MSP.

Wordraw responded in his New Saturday post to a comment I made from Eisler that there is a need for women to penetrate high places, not only in this country, but the world. Places where important decisions are made about the economy and war and wages and healthcare.

It isn’t because women have all the answers. Or are better at doing the job. It is to role model a connecting, relational archetype. So that people in power (who for every great effort we have made over the last 50 years are still mostly men) can learn new ways of relating.

And those who are not, can become empowered.

“You can’t just throw money at women and children in 3rd world cultures and expect change,” she said. “The best thing you can do is help them organize politically. They have to infiltrate a system that wants to keep them submissive. Teach them to be empowered.”

Eisler’s categories may seem general. They are broad because she studies systems. She is looking at the economic model from a broader perspective which includes gender. I’m thinking she gets into details in her book which is widely supported by many influential men, as well as women. But I’ll have to read it to tell you more.

One thing I know for sure – the old warrior models we are operating under are not working. As Wordraw said in New Saturday, “there are wars, skirmishes and a feudal mentality dominates politics. There is a lot of hunger, many types, lack of milk and lack of compassion.”

There were pointed questions in the basement at Amazon after her talk. One woman haughtily asked, “Why can’t the U.S. be more like Europe, more progressive in its thinking?”

“What do you mean?” Riane said. “Right now there is more anti-Semitism in Europe than anywhere else I’ve seen. Don’t forget, Hitler came out of Europe.”

Another woman asked her what she thought was holding this country back. She paused for a moment. Then she said the fundamentalist religious thread running through the heart of this country is where the greatest resistance is rooted. Fundamentalism in any religion is about power. With dominance, as opposed to partnerships, you are either with them or you’re a threat. It’s black and white.

But the world is full of gray. And if relational global models are allowed to penetrate the dominate system in great enough numbers, then the dominant will feel less threatened. They can let their guard down. And the balance of power can start to be restored.

Eisler sees women, and men who are willing to embrace the feminine in themselves, as the great equalizers. For all of us. But mostly, for the children of the next generation.

I can’t speak for Eisler. And I wouldn’t want to. All of this is my interpretation after an hour of listening and filtering her words through my own experiences and brain. But I felt a need to write about it. I am being moved in a direction of action. I don’t know yet what that will be.

At the end of her talk, there was tension in a room filled primarily with middle-aged women (there was only one man) who leaned toward the left. Many of us had fought hard in our early 20’s for equal rights.

I started to wonder, if there is this much dissension among grassroots women on the ground where her message is most likely to take seed, what hope is there for the rest of the world?

She wasn’t fazed. She said we need to keep talking. She sees hope for this country. There are many good things that spring from our rugged individualism. She has not given up.

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

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miguel becomes a shaman ~ i knew him when he was my cousin ~ grandma said he had the power ~ now he’s a curandero ~ at least he’s not a crystal eater~


Miguel 1Miguel 2Miguel

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Hemingway, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2007, photo © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

I stumbled on an online blurb, Hemingway’s 5 Tips for Writing Well, when I was researching blogs the other day. It reminded me that I have a copy of A Moveable Feast on my shelf that I’ve been wanting to read. I’m adding it to my “must read this year” list.

I haven’t read a lot of Ernest Hemingway, even though he received the Nobel Prize in Literature the year I was born. But I find him to be one of the most quoted writers out there. Did he have a good publicist? Or was he just *that* good.

Maybe it was the way he lived his life. He was part of that wave of literary modernists, the Lost Generation. There was a woman in the December retreat who said she had been friends with his granddaughter, Margaux Hemingway.

In some ways, it seems like a tragic lineage. It reminds me that writers take a lot of criticism. A need for thick skin comes to mind.

Here are the 4 tips Hemingway often quoted from The Kansas City Star’s style guide where he was a reporter for a short time in 1917:

  1. Use short sentences
  2. Use short first paragraphs
  3. Use vigorous English
  4. Be positive, not negative

Copyblogger’s Hemingway’s 5 Tips for Writing Well explains in more detail, adds a 5th tip, and a final quote from a comment Hemingway made to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934:

     5. Never have only 4 rules.

I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.

– Ernest Hemingway

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

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