Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day



Yet another national holiday, providing yet another opportunity on social media to see who can out-patriot everyone else.

There will be memes galore on Facebook, thanking our "heroes;" declaring that any person who loves this country must loudly and eternally proclaim undying gratitude to our military for procuring and protecting our freedoms.

Which is a crock, really...  If our military were in charge of protecting our freedoms, they would have zeroed in on Congress and the president decades ago.  But that is called a "military coup" and among modern Western peoples, is frowned upon in no uncertain terms.  If you honestly ponder the role of the military in our society, you must concede that "protecting our freedoms" is NOT its primary function.   

We will see flags flying everywhere, on lawns, in cemeteries, on public buildings, and especially in the ether.  Many of those "ethereal" flags will be testimonials to a deranged degree of icon-worship, which will include mean-spirited challenges and accusations that any person who does not "venerate" this scrap of cloth to the zealous degree of the poster is NOT a worthy American; may, in fact, be an enemy in white man's clothing, and/or will be invited to leave this country with the boot of a "real" American planted firmly between his/her buttocks. 

For the record, let me make the following statements:

1.)  I am not anti-military.  Nor am I pro-military.  I concede that the military exists, and will continue to exist in its present form for the foreseeable future.  I do not blame the young conscripts who comprise our fighting forces for the nebulous efficacy of the agencies in which they have enlisted. I don't necessarily thank our soldiers, sailors and flyers for their service;  my feelings toward them tend more toward...apology.  I am emphatically sorry that they go where they go, do what they do, for the benefit of (and generally in place of) the rich and powerful, who then discard them like shell casings at a skeet shoot when they have outlived their usefulness.   

2.)  I do not believe that my degree of appreciation for the country of my birth is anyone else's business.  I do believe that one of the most cherished principles upon which this country was founded is that I may express my disappointment in its people, its policies, its president, its government, without forfeiting my citizenship, my rights, my safety or my life.   Two centuries ago, men DID, in fact, die that I may enjoy that freedom, and the others listed in our Constitution.  Let no person who calls himself a patriot pervert or deny my right to "tough love" my country.      

3.)  I DO NOT worship flags.  A flag is a fancy scrap of fabric--nothing more.  While there are lovely stories behind the symbolism of the design elements of our flag, it is essentially, like any flag, merely a sign of ownership.  We slap the flag on things that we want to declare as belonging to the United States of America.  Ships.  Planes.  Hills.  Mountain tops.  Buildings.  The moon.  We use flags to mark our territory.  They're basically piss on a stick.  If I put a plaque with my name on it next to my front door, I don't worship the plaque.  The value is in the place, the home, that it signifies.
So, there.  Love me or hate me, those are my beliefs.
A final thought:
We are so ready, these days, to fight with everybody about everything.  We argue.  We name-call.  We debase.  We seethe.  We hate.

Because we can.

Maybe this Memorial Day, the thing we should remember is that we're also free to agree.  Embrace.  Build up.  Cooperate.  Love.

Because we can.

Peace.       

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Rights

This came up on my Facebook newsfeed; "liked" (unfortunately) by a friend...


Two responses formed in my mind:

1.) ...And MY rights don't end in front of the muzzle of your gun...

2.)  No...but your willingness--even EAGERNESS--to hurt others' feelings says more about YOU than it does about ME...

But since the person who posted this IS my friend, I didn't put either of these comments on her Facebook post.

Just thought I would sneak them in here, in my very own private (pretty much) space.  

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Handbasket is Still Heading Southward

 
 

For all that we sad, tired, frightened progressives would like to tell ourselves that Trump is repeatedly shooting himself in the foot and that his days as Village Idiot-in-Chief are numbered...

...the painful reality, outside our fast-exsanguinating liberal bubble, is quite different.

 
 
When a candidate can physically assault a reporter--to the point that he is actually charged with a crime--two days before the election, and still walk away with the victory, smelling like a rose...
 
We are in B.I.G. trouble in this country.
 
Let's face it.  It took the better part of half a century for our society to disintegrate to the tragic condition we are in now.
 
Four months of the kind of outrageously pathetic performance Trump is conducting in Washington are not going to significantly alter the course of the Fall of The United States of America.  
 
Nor, I suspect, should we pin a great deal of hope on the 2018 mid-term elections.
 
All indications have us suffering through Trump for at least a full four-year term.  If not, perish the thought, a second one on its heels.  That is, if the country is not literally in smoldering ruins by then. 
 
There really isn't a word for the emotion that overwhelms me as I consider our democratic, constitutional and moral collapse; and my utter helplessness to stop it.  

Osprey

Long and tedious as the season past was (I hesitate to call it "winter," as the period of horrid weather lasted through fully two of what we would normally call "seasons")  we seem to have FINALLY put the miserable cold, wind and rain behind us.  Oregon has erupted into summer...spring got lost in the transition. 

And with our sudden summer has come a bumper crop of ospreys.  They can be seen on almost every utility pole, bridge span or nesting platform. 

On the "Oregon Wildlife Photographers" Facebook page, everyone has posted his/her picture (after picture after picture) of ospreys...fishing, fighting, nesting, doing what ospreys do. 

They're easy pickings for photographers all right...but (of course) I never seem to have too much luck with them.  Finally struck up a relationship with this one on Sauvie Island...and duly acquired MY picture of "Osprey with Fish."  Until I pissed him off and he took his half-eaten fish elsewhere...

 
 
 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Some day


some day
soon, I think
I'll say
*we need to be apart right now

and I can make that happen*
and I won't pause
take a breath
and wait for him to stop me

some day
soon, I think
I'll say
*we live these separate lives
in the same house
and sometimes we're nice to each other*
and I won't wait a beat
listen
and hope he'll say I'm wrong

some day
soon, I think
I'll accept what is
learn to live
not pause
not wait
not listen
not hope

...or maybe not
 
 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Just...Crap


I'm a good person.

I have high moral standards.  I have empathy for the downtrodden.  I'm open to change.  I leave people to do, be or believe what they do, are or believe in, as long as it hurts no one; I allow that it's a big wide world, and the things I do or believe are not necessarily the only or the best things.  I can see the bigger picture, and understand that what I want or need are not always the top priorities, to be achieved at whatever cost to anyone else.

I'm loyal.  I'm hard-working.  I'm generous.      

I appreciate beauty.  I love art and music; I have a spiritual reverence for Nature.

I'm sensitive.  I genuinely care what others think of me.  (Maybe THAT is not a good thing.) 

But I am not nice.

Trust me, the two concepts--goodness and niceness--do not necessarily go hand in hand.  Don't we all know people who are incredibly nice, but, at heart, are greedy, selfish, lazy, vain...not good at all?

So doesn't it follow that there are also people who are at heart, quite good...but, for whatever reason, do not possess the gift, or the talent, of niceness?

I am one of those.

As a woman, all those other traits, all those good things that I am or do, are meaningless--or at the very least don't get the attention they deserve--because I am not nice. 

Women are supposed to be nice.

Sweet.  Loving.  Maternal.  Ever-smiling.  Ever-welcoming.

And let's just say I've never been accused of being any of those things.

In forty years in the workplace, this translated into never being able to quite achieve what I should have been able to achieve.  Strong women are bitches.  Strong women are mean.  Strong women need to temper their strength, hide it, maneuver it in ways that don't draw too much attention.  And if they use their strength of character to get ahead, they are manipulative and unattractively ambitious. 

Well, you know what?  Maybe I'm not so strong after all.  Because there's only so much you can do, only so hard you can battle, faced with constant negative reaction to your very existence, much less your demeanor or your management style.

But not only have I been hindered from getting ahead, I've been actively and aggressively sent backward.  For the repeated, grievous transgression of not being nice.  For not wrapping my "less desirable" personality traits in the cotton wool of sweetness and passivity that our still-paternalistic American society requires of a female.  As a woman, you better damned well be the most skilled or the smartest or the best educated if you want to get ahead without niceness.  And since I am none of those things...well, it is what it is.

I used to believe that I had not encountered much gender bias in my years in the workplace.  I used to believe that I had worked hard enough and been good enough to get a lot further than I had ever believed I could.  But that isn't enough, is it?  Looking back, I realize I was never encouraged to have big dreams of achievement, not even by my parents.  And though I did accomplish some things, they were little more than the small things I was allowed to shoot for. 

And always, always, any forward progress I made was a tough battle, hampered as I was by my lack of natural niceness and my inability to fake it.  There were folks along the way who recognized my goodness and my abilities.  But there were more who resented and disliked me.  And when management had to make tough decisions, I was always at the top of the "Expendable" list.  Every. Single. Time.

Which is why I finally took myself out of the workplace.

I believed that the only boss I could ever please would be myself.  I believed, left to my own devices, I could be successful despite the social handicap of not being nice.

Silly me.

We all know how that turned out with the restaurant.  In the end, I almost lost everything--including the one person who, I thought, would always be able to reach inside of me and connect to the good person I was.  And now, I'm running around the countryside with my little concession business, doing fairs and festivals and markets, and I find that still--STILL--being "nice" is what is going to get me ahead.  It's what is going to ensure my acceptance and my continued participation at venues where the competition is fierce and the management is...volunteer.

In fact, being "nice" might be even more important now that I'm a sexagenarian.  Everybody expects older women to be even more sweet, even more loving, even more ingratiating than women twenty or thirty years younger.  Oh. My. God.

I can't do it.  And if that is what is going to be required of me to be successful with even this tiny pebble of the planet that I call my own...

It's not gonna happen.     

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Pressed Into Oblivion




I must have been very young when the concept of responsibility was impressed upon me.  Perhaps I was too young to assimilate it in a healthy way.  Perhaps the Catholic dogmatic interpretation of the concept was so strong, its burning in left indelible scars on my psyche. 

Whatever the scenario, I only know that my life evolved into a six decade struggle between “have to” and “want to.”

I’m just not happy if I’m not doing something I think I’m supposed to be doing.  But neither am I content if I am so occupied. 

The guilt-logged Catholic in me cannot be quieted unless I’m involved in a “project” of some import, impact, or duty.  Conversely, the ever-rebellious counter-culture hippy who grabbed the torch from the dutiful little uniformed school girl is never content unless I’m spitting in the eye of the respected and expected, flipping it off and doing exactly what I want to do.

Over the years, those two battling sets of motivation have become so entangled and enmeshed that I, finally, find myself all but paralyzed.  I can’t be happy doing anything.  I can no longer distinguish between what is “have  to” and what is “want to;”  and even when I do, one half of me works overtime to sabotage my satisfaction with the effort. 

This dichotomy has been particularly damaging during the past several months—the months since the November election.  The weight of all the troubling crap that is going on in the country, and in the world, lies on me like a lead blanket.  And my warring selves will not allow me to pick up anything strong enough to lever that weight off my soul. 

I can find no freedom, no lightness, no distraction. 

I’m just…suffocating.     


Monday, May 1, 2017

April Gets an "F"


Yeah...  So, I failed.
Didn't get those ten entries posted last month. 
All I can say is, what with the state of the country and the abominable Pacific Northwest winter, things are so depressing that I can't whip up enough interest in much of anything to bother committing it to "paper."
Too...I have been keenly feeling my increasing internet invisibility.  Can't really GET too much more invisible here on "Coming to Terms..."  But I don't seem to be much of a force on Facebook , either.  Don't attract the notice of too many of my "friends" around that community, any more. 
As much as I have been wrestling and ruing the "old fart" behaviors I've developed in the past few years...it seems like some things never change.  I'm still that shy, forlorn seven-year-old, walking around the playground at recess all by herself, watching all the other kids playing together; wondering why I am on the outside looking in.
At first, the internet seemed like the place where that old dynamic was going to finally be put in the past.  But, as it happens...not so much.
I'm sure it's entirely my own fault.  There is that old saying, "In order to HAVE friends, you have to BE one."  As a kid, I guess I never had a good idea of how to BE a friend.  I think I wanted too much that I was unable/unwilling to give in return.    
And I think, half a century later, that's still the case.  In real life, in the ether...I am who I am.  Who I always will be, apparently. 
Enough of that, now. 
I'm not giving up my goals on the blog.  Just because I failed the month of April, I am not now going to walk away and dust off my hands, never to return to this place...  This place that was once a vibrant community room, full of life and conversation and sharing.  It has become at once a place of quiet contemplation, and my personal rubber room in which to rant and scream and cry and laugh.
Not the same, but useful, nonetheless.
So I'll be back.     

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Grant me the Serenity


Coming up on the 2017 Astoria Crab Festival. 

Doing events in Astoria is like being at home.  Since we moved to Scappoose in 2001, Astoria--70 miles west on Highway 30--has become our second home.  We've rolled a series of at least five different trailers, plus several incarnations of restaurant equipment, down the highway to events in that lovely little town.  The event center at the fairgrounds has become so familiar, I almost feel like a part owner.

One of my favorite things about doing events in Astoria is the opportunity to "camp" practically on the grounds of the venue.  The past couple of years, we've been able to turn our little 12-foot utility trailer into quite serviceable sleeping quarters for 3 retirement-age ladies.  It's kind of funny, really.  We have to squeeze three cots, three sets of luggage, three sets of rainwear (it almost always rains at some point while we're there), lighting and power for after-hours entertainment (which involves sitting on one's cot and reading or watching You-tube videos on someone's device) a cooler for cold foods and a box for non-refrigerables into a 12' x 6' space.  Quite the challenge!  But...well, I love the challenge.  It's a part of the trip that I most look forward to

So this year, we have managed to fall into some "luck."  A friend of one of my sisters couldn't abide the idea of us cramming ourselves and our stuff into that teeny trailer, so she offered to acquire a hotel room for us for the three nights we'll be on the coast.  As it happens, three nights in the Best Western on the Prom in Seaside.  For free.  A gift.  That's great isn't it?  Isn't it?

Well, yeah.  It is. 

But my crotchety old-lady soul is being surprisingly cranky about the change in plans.  Apparently I have finally become too old and set in my ways to be grateful and graceful about manna falling from heaven.  I guess I want to bake my own bread, thank you very much.   What am I...some kind of idiot?

Shoot me now...           

Monday, April 24, 2017

Enough Already!



The view of my deck through the sliding glass door...  :(


This article was posted on February first at Weather.com: 

Since then, there has been THIS news: 

And then, there was March:

According to the National Weather Service, the wettest March on record was in 2012 when 7.89 inches of rain fell. As of Monday morning, Portland International Airport had recorded 7 inches of rain.

...Portland has also not experienced two consecutive dry days since Feb. 12 to 13. The last time the region saw three dry days in a row was Jan. 12 to 16 (but there was plenty of snow on the ground, so the "dry" might have been hard to notice).

And April:

The normal annual precipitation for Portland is 40.8 in. The normal water-year-to-date precipitation in Portland on April 24 is 32.94 in. At 53.17 in., the water-year-to-date precipitation as of April 24, 2017 is 161.4% of the normal water-year-to-date precipitation.

I am so god-damned sick of RAIN, and COLD, and DARK, I can hardly get up in the morning. 

Please....MAKE IT STOP!!!!  For just two or three days in a row.  That's all I'm asking.

PLEASE!!!!