Meaningless, all those hours you spent, Raising your voices, lifting your glasses To Cheer. It was meaningless, harboring that hatred, For a man's skin color and shouting The South shall rise again, everywhere, For their health is endangered while Their mouths run, compassion wins. Meaningless challenges the courts Rule: that the poor can be healthy, Rule: that insurance is a right If you pay for it, and you will pay For it, because we aren't grown up, Not enough that it matters, To hand our gratuitous illusionary cash Over to social programs. To a single system. Meaningless, the lack of tact To hammer over and over what the masses Refuse to understand, that they are part, The most important part, for they work at the Bottom of a triangle and seek to pull themselves From poverty. So they shouted, hated, hurt Made bleed when all they had to do was share. Meaningless, the first one hundred days, While apes jump up and down as the President Learns to color and write his name. Meaningless his statement of KING. I acknowledge no king, emperor, ruler, Whose hearing aid and heart are missing. Meaningless, caught in a box crayons Without benefit of a piece of paper That says "In pursuit of happiness." Scoffing, I bow to mediocrity, pretend I can understand...But I don't. It's all meaningless.
I'm too old to sit in the corner, Too old to twist and turn To find my heart and mind Torn asunder over the Future of the past, the once and future, Over hatred and bigotry. I'm too young to concede The world won't change Its clothes for the better. Won't go to a Humanity-R-Us Establishment for a refit. Overthrow the twenties and big brother's uniform. Can't see the colors for the black and white, like TV when It started, with removable tubes You could change out tubes, glowing bright, at The drugstore, right past the cashier While Dubois sits writing in the corner still. Your still produces the elixir Of rebellion, energizing, Thought provoking, intoxicating, At a forgotten power of protest, Of knowing right from wrong As you swing your placard proudly. School taught me to be nice. A fatal character flaw, unreasonable, Being nice, compassionate, sweet, helpful, All words that buzz and bee. Liberal. I'm too young to join AARP Too old to swing from a Constitutional noose. My email sings the need for money, Donations, signatures, and one, Oh, blessed one, that asks for a tip. A tip for taking my money Because I must be old enough To be rich, to have, to hold, to keep. I'm too old to sit silent, Chevy waiting, To drive with fist shaking, gun toting Road rage. Oh yes, I'll yield, sometimes, But not about my politics. Compromise, act. My caution light gleams yellow, But the red light fails. I run as I take action. I'm too young to hand over hope, tethered to My heart, forever to a cause. So many, Change causes change. I change. Voices cluster. Liberal changes are on sale, bargain prices, On cheap fabric imported that Feeds a family overseas, but saying, "Buy American." Too old to wear a flag upon my two piece, My jeans, jacket, elbow patches. Burn my flag, I'll cheer your voice, Serve my flag, I did that. Embroider my flag on a globe, Don't use my flag to beat and bludgeon Those in need. I'll use it for your shroud. We came, my ancestors came, arrived Found a place, to grow, manipulate Become human, chase their tails with Their tales of how we became great. It was 1624. We started it. The movement. Blame us. We advocated freedom, compassion, hope, education. Don't tell me I'm too old, too young, To tell you to resist the crazy. Crazy Worse than the flu, poverty, student loans, Worse than children dying, drowning, starving. I'll resist your overly patriarchal ambiguities, Attempts to cow and control. My body, my life Too Old, Too Young, not to care To not open my heart to others, to welcome. To litigate with my head. Policy maker. Too proud of being a resistance. For when they first banned intelligence, They hurt us all. Stole from us. . Grow old, grow energized, Hit with words, but true ones, Turn your television to truth. Read a book, French philosophy, Grow young, stand and turn to the light, Like a sunflower, follow the judicial glow. I'm too old to find my seat On the bus, train, plane, without First asking to pre-board. I'm too young to have my dreams dashed As they play pingpong with my future. Let me land, resist, fight. Let me...
Rainbows at sunset, roads to follow. Lined with flowers, cars and noise, In capitols, in the wild, in back, The alleyways, the secret ways, How do we know where to tread lightly? When should our feet pound the pavement And fight the oppression that takes The middle class and the poor from us? We celebrate the shiny, fountain sprinkling Water that gives us a drink of hope, Then take our place, eyes down Shuffling along as we try to Keep the noise down so the neighbors Don't complain. Is this the road of The future? I step outside and look up At the soaring bald eagles who were once Endangered. Their flyways are now healthier. Our roadways should be healthier, broader, Wiser, a step firm with resolve, a hand On the wheel, a place to arrive at. Soon.
Can I do without your call? Making arrangements to survive, To ignore the rest of strife, freely given. Can I do without your song? The snow arrived unasked, unsummoned, With the feeders empty and promises, also. Can I do without your cheer? Here in the gray land of between, Where the silver bells of registers Ring the advent of poverty, competition, Fool hardy expectations of man, not beast. Here I find you, still cheerful, still singing, Your small talons grasping at the dirt, Looking for that last pillbug, that last seed. Your flock only humors me, As the camera whirls, clicks, spits and spats, leaving talon prints as they settle for the night in snow. They wait, they linger until sure That the warmth of yesterday is gone And the time to fly free and warm has arrived. I cannot live without your song, Your calling out of peace and forgiveness All for the price of a seed or two. I cannot live without the holly trees, The magnolias that decorate with red seeds, The pines silent except between creaks of wind. I need your cheer of simplicity.
Don’t believe that you can truly understand more than one thing at a time. Not 100 percent if you are multitasking. Not even mothers will have 100 percent understanding as they deal with work, commute, screaming child, sick child, obnoxious child who learned how to blow chocolate milk through his nose. No, each of those things can balance the others, some outbalance the others, but you can’t experience the whole picture. If most cases, you don’t want that whole picture. But then there are musical performances, books of a pure truth, insights that leave you momentarily undone. So it is with Hamilton.
It’s the sound, the pulse that bleeds into your awareness. Music is the novel of passion, played upon a stage that requires your ‘mind’, body and soul. Great operas ripped the tears from the ones who got it. Madam Butterfly, The Telephone, Bernstein’s Mass, 1776, Westside Story, these will catch you and leave you breathless feeling that you have felt or learned something great. They are stories. Novels.
With greatness that we miss in our busy days filled with office, school, ball games, little league, ballet lessons, commutes, and tae Kwon do, because we don’t pause to see. Great novels make the soul weep. Flowers for Algernon, the first time I read it out loud to students ripped into my consciousness and left me crumpled in front of fifth graders. When the principal walked in on the weeping, he backed out and never said a word. The Reprieved Reformation about a safe cracker who found a reason to change, to lose his greed and save his humanity. AS I Stand Here Ironing, a look at a mother, whose daughter once again is in trouble. Whose teacher wants the parent conference (hear the drumroll of fate calling), but who is HER daughter, HER creation.
Hamilton, a poor boy, orphaned, witness to plagues and treasuries, a man hated and reviled, clung to by women and worshipped, a man against odds, the man who created the treasury, and a duel. It plays like a Shakespearean Novel on the top 20 list of the BOTM (book of the month) club. And it’s the presentation.
I performed in Bernstein’s Mass (what does a Jewish composer know of Catholicism?) where the priest who loses his faith, his congregation and his soul was portrayed as a young priest starting out and the disillusionment, the delusionment, the despair he felt that tore him to shreds balanced on notes that are harmonic in their disharmony. It tore us as performers apart, it silenced the audience and they left quietly, thinking. I saw it at the Kennedy Center the same way. It was beautiful and framed perfectly. I saw it at Lord Albert’s Hall where the priest was portrayed as a pedipiile and that WAS WRONG. It made me sick to watch or listen to it. The tenor changed the entire message. He was a tenor. Really. A European, a German tenor with a skeptical look at any chance of purity in the Church. A tenor who thought that Bernstein was mocking the church. No really, a German tenor trying to understand a jewish composer’s view of the catholic church as the congregation took and used…never mind, it just didn’t feel like what I had performed and seen performed. Granted I am from the upper MidWest where even the atheists have a feeling of respect for some concepts of church and community, except for pedipiiles.
That’s what we are trying to do, isn’t it? Trying to effect our readers and public with our vision of the world at that instant. Music takes the instants and compounds the eyes with ears, the blood with pulse, the soul with wonder, fear or hatred. I should have put my two careers together before this, the narration of exploring a saga by pace made so much clearer to me now.
I’m an intellectual, know as a nerd in this time and place, and I am attempting to write the great novel of my time. Arrogance in the least application. No, not arrogance. I want to be a writer to leave a footprint that I understood something beyond what I am now. I want to be for the future to seek guidance from and to turn that which is bloody and awful to a tale told by a fool about the purity of man.
It’s the sound, the pulse, the overwhelming focus on one incredible thing at a time. It’s a message that must speak of itself. It’s the dark calling to the nightmares, setting them into patterns. It’s why children put their noses under the covers while their eyes search the shadows.
Then the man from Hamilton speaks of his upbringing in Puerto Rico, an American territory. He tells of the tragedy of poverty, of exploitation by hedge funds who now attempt to topple the people by placing demands for payment against a government not allowed to file for bankruptcy. He speaks in the language of the musical Hamilton. He appears on shows including John Oliver’s. We know John Oliver as a man of intelligence and integrity who has a campaign against cigarettes internationally with Dave, a diseased lung. We know him as the exposer of lies and corruption. That he sides with Hamilton in his pursuit for justice for his home gives it credence.
The sound of children crying from hunger, orphans, health care costing twice for the same system we have on the mainland. They became a territory as a result of war. They have an honor roll of US Veterans of War and believe in the US as part of their nation. They still see the our hope as theirs. So we walk away and leave them adrift in a world of greed where teachers can’t teach because there is no money.
Hamilton. Novels, Operas, Comedies, Lies, Justice, Defeat. Ultimately, in order to understand life, you have to stop and focus on just that. You have to let go of what you think and what you feel without the experience and open your heart to the message. Hamilton has a focus for today. It’s powerful. I hope to write a novel with that kind of power of exposure someday.
I was thrilled to see the blossoms of Spring trees over the last month. It brings a lot of random chatter to mind. Chatter that outweighs the squirrels who now bring the feeders to the back door and bang until I fill them. They’ll hang them up themselves soon. I think they have the right idea. If we want something in life badly enough, we should look to be actively working towards that goal. My goals? I want to continue reading everyday. I have two books waiting for my attention. Carl Hiassen’s Bad Monkey and Jonas Jonasson’s The One Hundred Year Old Man, who climbed out the window and disappeared, these sounded so good from the titles alone. It made me scurry to the bookstore clerk and buy them, with all the enthusiasm I learned from the backyard squirrel gang.
My husband has been following Spring training for the Nationals for the first time. He’s an Eeyore who feels like Chicken Little. But the Nats seem to be having fun. I was hesitant to show enthusiasm because if things go wrong, I get to hear about it. I don’t like drama unless it’s on the stage or in a book, so I’ve kept mum. But as the first game of the season came along, I decided to take the plunge and become a number one fan. I failed at being a cheerleader, as I cheered for all of the players from both teams. The Braves vs. the Nationals, and the pitching was fantastic. Both teams were very well coached and gave off that special aura of teams that cared. I’m supposed to stick to one side or the other, but the sportsmanship and the game intensity left me breathless and exhausted at the same time. Life can be like that. It has its showers, and thunder storms, but in the end, I want to be that person that has overcome the storms and played the game to the absolute best I can.
Fatherhood has been on the horizon. The concept of the father who works full time and the son who wants to play ball is about the economic sphere you are in. Look at LaRoche, who left the Nats, and took his golden first base mitt with him. It was in the news for several days because he retired, turned down millions of dollars to be with his son. His family is a baseball family. His father brought LaRoche to watch him practice and play. LaRoche started bringing his son when he was old enough to understand that this occupation was his father’s passion. The son was there, in the dugout and sometimes practicing, with the Nationals and never caused a disturbance of any kind. If fact, he was our good luck intern so that we took the National Baseball East award (is it called something like that?) The year he left, we didn’t win our pennant. But he was told his son wasn’t welcome at his new team. The NEW team’s management thought that his son would be a distraction. So LaRoche quit. Literally, he took his ball and went home. Six months of intensive baseball moments, and they wanted to take that father son balance and remove it from LaRoche’s life. He made the right decision. Boys need their dads. They need to toss a ball around or go biking or have a special moment together. Our society had moved from male to female to mocking males to not understanding why the male image was so hard to maintain. Or sure, being a doctor is nice, but if you have a son, shouldn’t you teach him how to be a man? Shouldn’t Fatherhood and being a man have positive ramifications? My husband worked 60 hours a week, he couldn’t be there for playing ball with my son. It’s one of his deepest regrets. It took my son a while to see what a father is. Hardworking, worried, kind, intelligent, non-apologetic and still involved as much as possible. He sees that the times he thought his dad was ignoring his needs was only part of what his dad did. Both of my children took martial arts and ballet. It was easier for me to involve them in activities that took place at the same time. When it was time for a performance or level exam, the kids would look up and there in the very back was their Dad still dressed for work, grinning his support and never missing a moment. His dad was there. He taught my son patience, even though patience was hard for him. He taught my son to respect women. He taught my son commitment. I know he would have spent more time at home if he could, but like LaRoche, he put his family first and kept us safe and loved. Mr. LaRoche is lucky to have such a wonderful opportunity.
April Fool’s Day is such a silly day. I have trouble thinking of pranks these days. My favorite Fool’s Day was when I came into the family room to tell my kids TV OFF. They had put suction cups on their heads and string tied to the TV and had their tongues hanging out of their mouths sideways moaning like zombies. Heehee, they had been listening.
I loved being a mother of two intelligent kids. They came up with the wildest ideas. A cardboard box was a castle, another was a horse (a great steed), and a big dog became a Princess protecting the dragon while the knight on his steed tried to invade. They could make up anything with whatever items were on hand. Police training was in the front, with bicycle traffic having to follow the officer’s hand signals. If you ran the light, you served five minutes in their jail. Even mothers had to comply. Dinner was slightly delayed as we waited for the traffic of the neighborhood to pass by. Sand was marvelous. We had big trucks and little trucks, Matchbox cars and generic cars, blocks for roadways and buildings, and the kids drove their vehicles around and around. I gave them a sheet and we colored a neighborhood onto it. Now they had a new map, and it was time for The Phantom Tollbooth, a lovely way to teach words and puns, to be read at bedtime. Bedtime followed bath time which had the kids learning to take showers with an umbrella until confidence was gained and they could shower without it. We sang dinosaur songs at bedtime. There was always a book at bedtime.
There wasn’t any data on the impact of language, although my parents had done the same thing for my brothers, sister and I. I grew up reading, my children did also. Now they say a child must hear 150,000 words before they turn 5. I’m sure I gave my children twice that. The future of the world will rest with children who have heard words and have hope, and children who have been ignored because the family was too poor, too tired, and had too few resources. Poverty clones itself. I watched that happen when I taught. Parents who didn’t have the education or opportunities that I had, who had to work two or three jobs to make things work, are facing an uphill battle. Their parents didn’t have time, the freedom from prejudice, or resources. Poverty weighs on your soul. There are strong community leaders out there. People who sit on their porches or in churches or school who help change hopelessness. Families like my parents who believed in the power of books and knowledge. We could change our situation. My mother went to college when we arrived in high school. She worked hard and got her BS, MS and PHD in six years. That was my role model. My children had their father and me. I went back to school when my daughter was in kindergarten. I worked hard and took my children to class if I couldn’t find a babysitter. I earned my Masters. Now both of my children have Masters. Intelligent kids. They’ve outdone me in their aspirations.
Baseball, flowers, kids and random thoughts today. Men empowered. Women empowered. You have to put your best foot forward in life. I like jumping in puddles and hopping. Does that count?