Tag Archives: storytelling

little scraps of wisdom

Before I dig in – happy 11th anniversary to me on WordPress!

I started this blog because I needed one that provided password protection as I worked through something in which I as working with quite a few mean, rich, white, ladies. I never thought I would migrate my very first blog over here, but I did – because of my mom… which bring us to today.

The world, it just keeps spinning, doesn’t it?!?!?!

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nathaniel_Dance_-_The_Pybus_family_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg Nathaniel Dance - The Pybus family
Nathaniel Dance – The Pybus family

So, for today’s installment of “my mothers reality is just not my own, but I keep learning from her in ways she might probably resent” –

My mother, with a solid gold heart posted this to her social media;

Which is true, absolutely true – with one exception. She is living in a home belonging to someone else (other than her) home and I don’t feel like this applies right now – though in any other place where she has had a piece of the pie this is absolutely true, and I mean it is absolutely true.

And so in my failing wisdom in thinking that she could acknowledge this I commented something along the lines of “if you lived in your own house, it would be”. I will admit that I was probably guilty of being too strait a shooter in this case, I thought she would get that this was true – based on her own comments to me about where she is living.

Anywho…

With in minutes I got one of her texts (I am starting to think that she refuses to call and face shit because she loves the anonymity of texting – you can be as big an asshole as you want without having to visually or audibly deal with the reactions… and  I get it – I am a coward too).

I am the blue –

 

So yeah, I’m not innocent in the exchange.  But, I loved the idea behind the social media post (which is the primary way she talks to me, she really only emails my husband – and rarely calls anyone – which I get, I hate talking on the phone too)….

**blargh**

 

Mom’s – definitely can’t live without them… but (and it is a big BUT) it is what happens after that, which the real miracle… right?

 

 “I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
~ Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

 

like certain portions of the anatomy – 302/366 (catch up)

What was the best conversation I had today in the last twenty-four hours?

I think it was with my son, about our experience listening to the audiobook; The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

What a magnificent audiobook, it is a fabulous story. Science made real, and personal.. the way it should be. The book made me cry, it made me laugh, smile… it was profound, and light. It was family and academic.

I recommend the audiobook to anyone. I got mine through the library.

PS – I am now only twelve days behind in these posts!

 

“Conversation, like certain portions of the anatomy, always runs more smoothly when lubricated.”
~ Marquis de Sade

 

 

Dat’s done get done. 8/365

 

What did I get done? The prompt asks that, as it stares at me, from the screen shot on my phone like a duck-faced selfie ready to be giggled at like a twelve-year-old boy.

This is a crazy question.

I woke up today. I woke up feeling like crap.
I thought about calling in sick, then realized I had to take my son to school and just how much is on my personal schedule today.  Decided to take it slow, son and I could be late.  I worked on a grant, watched/listened to The Great Gatsby (audio-book during my solo commute, movie while I worked on the grant).

My day is not over yet. I have a logic model to finish, an event to attend, a child to pick up, some night-time cough and cold medicine to take and a bed to get in to. I think I will manage to finish this up, and thankfully tomorrow is another day!

(from here)

Whats for dinner 7/365

It is supposed to be about what I had for dinner, but that has not happened yet today… but, I do know what I will be having.

This

From this site.

Though I call it cochinita pibil.

I also pickled some onions.

from this page.

I did not really follow either recipe. I made the pork in a crock pot, because I thought it would make the house  smell awesome.  It did! I also improvised an achiote paste – and yes, I keep achiote in my pantry. I also used a blood orange.  Because of the slow-cooker and the improvised achiote paste, the meat is not as orange-brown as is traditional, but it tastes wonderful!

(from here)

Is there such a thing as an art based EULA?

“A good book deserves an active reading. The activity of reading does not stop with the work of understanding what a book says. It must be completed by the work of criticism, the work of judging. The undemanding reader fails to satisfy this requirement, probably even more than he fails to analyze and interpret. He not only makes no effort to understand; he also dismisses a book simply by putting it aside and forgetting it. Worse than faintly praising it, he damns it by giving it no critical consideration whatever.”
~ Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading

One of the biggest arguments I ever got into when I was in college was about artist (and specifically to the discussion then, authors) responsibility.  It was one of those life changing conversations and it has played out in my mins for the last 25 years in varying forms and with multiple applications.

One of the concepts that was brought up minimally then, but seems much more relevant now is that of the artists spectator. The actors viewer, the artists watcher, the authors reader.  I would argue that art is a social process, there is an end-user and a silently understood agreement (a EULA, if you will) between the artist and the one who “experiences” the art. I am not saying that a painter paints for a specific audience, I am saying the artist paints for an audience. This plays out in many ways.  I am not speaking to message of the art form, nor am I speaking to interpretation of the art form. I am speaking about the end-user. The watcher, reader, listener, or viewer.

I think we readers, watchers, viewers have gotten piss spoor about this part of the social contact. I know of only a very few people who consistently do these things actively, and even they slip up. We have gotten lazy, we react before fully reading, watching, listening or viewing. It may be that artists have stopped giving a shit about that their audience thinks or responds to their work, but on some level they have to want the people who experience their works to not pass by it in ignorance? I don’t know.

I, personally, write in the hope that the person reading my works thinks about something.  While I may be working through something deeply personal, having a reader respond often offers me greater insight. If they misunderstand, it helps me learn how to be clearer.

 

 

I have a friend that writes. They have an incredible vocabulary, though it is sometimes a bit archaic. They are pretty good at giving the reader what they want them to react to. I would say it is a mark of a good writer.  The interesting thing with my friend though, is that there is a general laziness with interpersonal conversation. That is frustrating. I imagine that the marvels and instant gratification of social media play out in these things.  Based on how I see communication working out now a-days, people seem to like to get their panties in bunch. They read a post, or see a picture and form these hard-line reactions.

I am no saint in this regard. I caught myself doing it all the time. it was to the point where it became personally embarrassing. Thankfully I have some friends who loved me enough to tell me to go back, read it again.  So, I would pull my panties out and go back. And 99% of the time, I had reacted rather than read.

So, what are some things that I do that help me know I am doing this?

If something pisses me off, I go back and read or look at it again. Occasionally I will read it out loud, or view it in a different place.  I pinpoint the words/images that I am reacting to. I ask myself what are they trying to communicate? If I am still unclear, I ask questions.  Am I reacting very strongly, then take a break and go back to it later (in instant gratification land, this can feel tough). In the case of written work, write it out. Look up words that you may not be sure about how they are being used (this one has been fun, for my friend with the archaic vocabulary, I sent them a list of all the words I had looked up when I had read their work… I thought it a fun conversation).

In the world where texting, email, posts, and comments have become a regular form of communication, it might behoove us all to become better at what I might call active appreciation.  Actually, you do whatever you want… but as for me, I am going to try to listen, watch, read, and view  with more attention.

whose boat is on the running stream…

“What should I possibly have to tell you, oh venerable one? Perhaps that you’re searching far too much? That in all that searching, you don’t find the time for finding?”
~ Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

ecbracletred22-020

We are cleaning house to host Christmas. And as is often the case on such endeavors (at least in my life) things have been found that elicit powerful and profound reactions.

I was tidying up our mantle and found a stone jar with a fossil lid. Curious, and willing to delay the tidying up to explore, I opened it up only to discover something I probably needed to find.

It was a 5 foot long string of red beads.

as i pulled the strand out, I thought back on when I must have bought it. 17 years ago, when I was in Quito and roaming one of the many folks selling things in the parks.  I remember picking this one out because it had two “gold” beads in it.  I twisted the string of beads onto my wrist, feeling a simple pleasure as I felt them wrap around.

It is a simple standard of beauty that has carried with me. Many of the indigenous women, of varying tribes, in Ecuador wear them. It is said to ward of evil and to protect the wearer. One will see these wrapped in various widths and on various ages of the women in Ecuador. Red bracelets are actually something pretty widespread and come in a variety of materials.  It is a familiar one to me, and I have worn it on my wrists for these past few days, a certain level of comfort in seeing its length wrapped around my wrist. I touch them, roll them against my skin, admiring the variety of sizes the beads come in.

Last night, I was in the bath tub and wondered if the string would suffer from getting wet. I rolled and untangled my bracelet and gently laid it out to dry.  This morning I picked it up and twisted it back on my wrist.  There was such a comfort in that ritual. I wondered how many other women had gone about starting their day by twisting these beads around their wrist, in a mix of superstition, habit, and because of the gentleness of it.

 

red beads
This is my red bead bracelet.

“For such is the way of it: to find and lose, as it seems to those whose boat is on the running stream.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

ignoring my limits

​In our society, the women who break down barriers are those who ignore limits.
~ Arnold Schwarzenegger​
I would hope that women get exposed, personally, to women who break down barriers. Actually, I hope that men get exposed to women who break barriers too, because this is still something that needs to happen.  I am lucky, in 1980 my cousin was the second best archer in the world. Amazon comparisons aside, this was HUGE. Women have been slinging arrows for eons, but to get to a level where you are second best… in the world… wow, she is pretty impressive in this respect (and many others).  How wonderful is it that we live in a world where we see more women breaking barriers and becoming awesome at what they do.

This took a long time to come for me. Born in an era that was just starting to feel out the women’s rights movement.  Add to that the fact that I was born and raised in countries that have very “traditional” roles for women. So, breaking barriers was not something I even thought about until, that is, I moved to the United States. Before that, I think my most adventurous aspiration was to be a flamenco dancer.

Now, please know that I do not mean to demean flamenco dancers by that statement.  There is a ton of back story to that. My father bullfights. I spent the first ten years of my life either watching him bullfight or helping out at our ranch that raised fighting bulls. Bullfighting is the glue that hold my relationship together with my father. I live in a world where I both hate it and love it. My more intimate knowledge about it provides for this. Like many things in life, it is both beautiful and brutal.

My father is well-respected among bullfighting circles around the world.  I went to visit a friend of his when I was an adult and he told me how he met my dad. My dad had been trying to get a chance to bullfight right after we had moved from Spain to Ecuador, but it is not something one can just go to the park and find a pick-up game.  So this friend of my fathers recalls that he ans his friends kept getting these calls about this silly American that wanted to join them in a bullring. After several months they realized that they were not going to get rid of his persistence so they had him come along.  At this point in the conversation, my father’s friend looks me in the eyes and tell how he and all his friends saw my dad get in the ring and were stunned by how good a bullfighter my father was.  He is still good. Anyway, I grew up with enough privilege that I really believed that I would end up a mother of many children with a wealthy enough husband and live in a country other than the USA. Needless to say that did not happen.

I recall moving to the US just at the start of the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment. Which was the same time that my cousin was an Olympic archer, my aunt had won Emmy’s and was becoming an artist. There was something empowering and horribly frightening about this. So, at this point in my life, my tweens and early teens, I realized I could be anything I wanted to be if I wanted it hard enough.
So, I hung on to my dream of having lots of children (I have always wanted six, for what it is worth) but now I could be that and do anything. In high school I was stunned when a friend stopped me after me describing my future self and said that it was great I had these ideas about what I would do with my children, but she had noticed that I never mentioned their father or a husband. I am sure that my mother had to work so very hard and had to fight to provide for my brother and I after my father took off with another  woman and left us high and dry was the impetus for this visioning I was doing.
So, I chased dreams.
It wasn’t until I was thirty that I was able to revisit my father and his bullfighting passion. I was back in the US and newly married and he invited me to join him for a special convention in Texas.  Through a random series of events I was able to share a room with a female bullfighter. I had never even really imagined this. I was aware of women like  Conchita Cintrón and Bette Ford, but hadn’t really thought about it in terms of how many crazy walls they had to tear down.  To put this in perceptive, in 1998 I attended the bullfights in Ecuador and on the last day I asked the man who was our former veterinarian if I could join him in the callejon (the inner ring, where the bullfighters and their assistants hang out in a bull ring). His reply was to tell me that I could because that the ban on women being there had been lifted a few years ago… which makes the ban on women in the inner circle to have been lifted around 1997!!!
So, here I was in a room with a woman bullfighter by the name of Raquel Martinez. A petite and beautiful blond woman. I felt like her opposite in everything, I was tall to her short, brunette to her blond, squishy to her toned, make up less to her flawless make-up. I was in awe. Never in my growing up as my father’s daughter had I ever considered this, and now in the presence of a woman bullfighter I was in awe. She was kind, gracious, gentle… had a great sense of humor, she was both strong and vulnerable. It was an amazing time. She was the first woman I ever asked for make-up advice. We talked about the men we had loved, and how crazy it was to try to be a woman bullfighter. I have not seen her since that time, but she has remained on of my treasured experiences. She was part of a group of women who were tearing down walls, and she was amazing.
For the record, I do not want to be a bullfighter… I would much rather dance the flamenco.

giving it meaning?

“Love is just a word until someone comes along and gives it meaning.”
~ Paulo Coelho

Read about words here.

 

When you go through this list… what have you been called?

girl
tall
tom-boy
ugly
pretty
mean
young
silly
dirty
selfish
scared
stupid
Just like your father
just like your mother
gringo
spic
retard
cunt
asshole
jerk
fucking asshole
immigrant
Christian
Atheist
boring
whimp
coward
bitch
crazy
anal-retentive
psychotic
lame
square
stiff
baby
chickenshit
pussy
wuss
bat-shit crazy
bonkers
kooky
freak
whacked
spastic
postal
nuttso
loony
gross
disgusting
creepy
skeeve
creeper
scum
rat
thug
worm
scumbag
slacker
Amazon
attention whore
bastard
commie
douche
hussy
mess
lurker
skank
pooper
poseur
socialite
snob
elitist
wanker
white trash
nerd
geek
dork
bookworm
dweeb
gomer
has-been
slut
loose
hoochie
trick
hoe
fugly
mangy
turd
twat
lame-o
reject
pig
thick
fat

How did being called that make you feel?

I have been called all of these.

How do you judge me now that you have heard what others have thought?

If you ask me how I feel… I would have to say that I still don’t know what to think, other than they have hurt… to varying degrees.