Sunday, August 16, 2009

My father and I connect over family, history & politics, for the most part.

He was talking to me (in one of our semi-weekly phone conversations) about all the crazy things he did with me as a kid.

He says he was drunk most of the time, but I don't recall any change in his behavior until he really "got into it" and then he was pretty sedentary and sometimes obnoxious.
Mostly, when we were doing things, I wasn't aware of him being in an altered state.

One of the things I remember, is taking the flat-bottom john-boat out on the Colorado river in flood stage. I don't know why this was a good idea.

We shot out of the boat dock into the streaming chop, torn downriver until we could struggle to the other side. Then, with clumsy geometry, and me at 9-10 years old climbing the riverside trees to pull the boat along, we pulled ourselves upstream, to shoot back across, paddling like hell to hit that boat ramp on the way back across the vicious swollen river. I think I had poison ivy welts for weeks.

Keep in mind that rainfall in Texas happens a couple times a year, in 5-10 inch increments. Formerly dry creekbeds kill people every year, much less racing rivers.

I think we went out for Pit BBQ in celebration of having not drowned.

Somehow, I was already inured to this kind of thing. Some of my earliest memories are of being strapped to my dad's back, with a fly from a flyrod whizzing around my head. I remember trying to see the colors.

He told me about another adventure in which he put me on his back, and hiked up a waterfall.
When he looked down, he told me, he almost fainted. I don't remember. I remember getting better at rock-scrambling.

At age 9, he put a pistol in my hand, and taught me to shoot. He was very proud that I 1. didn't kill anyone and 2. hit my targets (I remember refusing to shoot turtles).

I think my lack of fear had some roots in his late 60s model VW Beetle which had no floor in places, all rotted out. I remember the road passing by, under my feet. I knew I could fall out, but I knew I wouldn't.

He also told me the story of teaching me and my friend Terri how to use a recurve bow in our back yard. He said we spent all day out there. I think we wanted to be Jedis. We were 13-14, the age all girls should be learning to use weapons!

Central Texas is also Snake Central, and he told me about a little snake that came up on the bank where we were fishing, and that he picked me up and held me over his head until it slithered past. I remember being outside the boat in another incident with a snake being very interested in the bait I was reeling in, and his lifting my fairly sturdy (nearly 100#) 10-year-old self out of the water and putting me in the boat.

My dad was this great, bald & burly creature with long arms and hands like slabs of butcher-block, smelling of gasoline, mown grass and WD-40.

As I grew, I got to nearly his height, with his length of waist, arm, and hardness of bone & muscle. My hands are still small, and my features more dainty, but I am still the kid who climbed the trees to pull the boat upstream, picked up the pistol with confidence & curiosity, and hopped in and out of boats without thinking about it.

I told him today, he had raised a fearless kid, and the subtext went unsaid.
He raised a fearless woman. Without meaning to, just being a dad, and doing what he did.

Whatever else wasn't perfect, he did that for me.

Since then, I've found myself dealing with fear, and fearful situations, in a way I realize most people are unable to step into.

I think my dad is starting to figure out what he did right.
It certainly wasn't anyone's model of how to raise a "young lady" and to this day, I can't set the table or fold a napkin.

I can, however, plant & raise, or find, something for that table, cook it well & competently, and do it all as ethically & humanely as possible.

Other Dad-taught talents include talking to owls & coyotes, knowing the wingbeats of a duck or dove, and being able to catch fish anywhere there is water.

It simply doesn't occur to me to be fearful, most of the time.
Even when I maybe should be.

Monday, August 03, 2009

So we finally have a partially black president (others may have been, just not obviously- I still think Taft was black- kind of a white Fat Albert).

We got a black man who can finally complain (due to being a Harvard professor) of racial profiling, and be taken seriously. We got a white cop who teaches racial sensitivity, and fell into the biggest political trap of a generation.

We got a Hispanic woman (Puerto Ricans are incredibly culturally diverse) having to be polite to a lot of idiot racist white men who are accusing HER of being racist.
That was an act of brilliant equanimity on her part, walking over that nuclear (there's only one U, in our post Bush society, thank Webster!) bed of hot coals.
I would have wacked out and put a couple gavels and some copies of the Constitution wrapped around various implements of destruction, in some very interesting places.
Sotomayor exemplified the Klingon ethic, that revenge is a dish best served very, very cold.

Don't get me wrong, I feel for all of them. My own father didn't know he was white, until he was 10 or so.

Class war has walked out into the open, in the health care debate.
What the many need, is single payer.
What the powerful few want, and they pay to get what they want, and our representatives are too weak and whorish to look at statistics instead of the almighty $D, what the powerful few want, they get.

My friend the medical examiner had something very interesting to say about socialized health care:
"I really don't want to have to do another autopsy on a middle-aged guy who died because he couldn't afford his heart/blood pressure/diabetes/cholesterol medication, and chose to feed his family instead".
I really have to steady myself, every time I think of that.

Let me give you a picture of socialism, something I have seen personally. I lived in Germany for six years, under the shelter of my husband's work with the US Army.
Every day, you see old people.
They are on bicycles, walking, chatting, gardening.
White-haired folks are everywhere. They are vital, they are participating, they are active.
They are respected, and kids behave themselves, where old folks are.
Because they know their elders have been through some Serious Shit, and don't tolerate any kind of tomfoolery.

The pyramid of failure in our culture makes a vortex of social failure, from structure to behavior.

We don't support education, or we support it spottily. We don't VALUE education, as a society.
We value Luck.
Unfortunately, Luck is not a reliable investment.
We construct our society on a rickety structure of luck & hope.

Now, we have the opportunity to back it up with the most valuable commodity of all.
Hard Work.

The people who've been working hard all the time, are ready to back this sucker up.. if only..

The people who've been on top, and their elected/hired minions, are terrified they might have to either actually get their hands dirty, or "get a haircut". Meanwhile, they are the ones with the resources to brainwash some squeaky wheels to get the attention of people unskilled in critical thinking. A nice side effect of undermining socialized education.

At this point, we are so far in the hole in terms of social "leverage" that the bottom third of society is uneducated, malnourished, and can't even walk around the mall. They are all so overfed by the stock dividend providers, that they can't, in so many ways, put one foot in front of the other.

Not in terms of health, finances, or education. They've been taught a constantly changing stream of nonsense, controlled by whatever party has power or money in their district.

So at this point, the shovel has to go in deep, to dig a new intellectual, physical and, yes, spiritual foundation. (I am a non-theist, I do better without any imaginary friends)

People have to be able to get educated, to get a job.
They get a better job, to get more educated, to get a still better job.
Along the way, they need to be able to stay healthy, free of partisan interference in their political, personal, social and professional life. I saw far better success of this in Europe, than I see in the US. People interpret freedom here, as the freedom to annoy and endanger others.
Sorry, it's not a frontier any more. Move to Antarctica (look out for penguins).

The more paths are open for people to improve themselves, the more they will do so. The immigrant populations of Europe prove this. Many of the newest, best and brightest in medicine, technology and communications, are children of immigrants.

We are a world of migrants now. We might as well give up the idea of US & Them.
We ARE them. They are us.

Now, can we get on with the evolution?
I'm so ready, I'm so not interested in the Status Quo.
We've had enough rectocranial inversion for the next ten generations.