Saturday, February 28, 2009
I loved "The Belle of Amherst" Thursday night. I knew I would (as I said on Thursday afternoon). After all, it is the story of one of my very favorite poets (Emily Dickinson) performed by one of my very favorite actors (Ellen Crawford) at one of my very favorite theaters (Interplayers). But knowing you will enjoy something ahead of time and actually going through the process of enjoying it are two very different things.
I loved the script. It was nearly musical, as it intertwined Dickinson's poetry with her story. And I so loved Ellen's performance. She brought the script alive. She was stark and sentimental and funny and real. Interplayers has an intimate stage, so the audience and actors are immediately present to each other. I felt transported to the 1800s, when Emily Dickinson lived. Ellen gave me the chance to see things through Emily's eyes. She was so transformed to her character that I almost didn't recognize her, even though I knew intellectually that it was Ellen on stage. Her complete immersion into the role is a tribute to the poet and a gift to the rest of us. I plan to see the play at least two more times.
An exciting sidenote: Ellen had to cancel all the weekday performances for this coming week because she has been called back to L.A. to film the finale of "ER." She was one of the original nurses on the show - Nurse Lydia Wright - you would recognize her if you ever watched "ER" - and actually said the first words uttered on the first show, way back in 1994.
Another sidenote: I've mentioned before that I'm a member of an Idaho filmmaking group called KNIFVES. Well, we are trying to organize a field trip to the show once Ellen gets back in Spokane from L.A. this coming Saturday. I'm hoping to talk the theater into adding a Sunday matinee on either March 8 or March 15, so stay tuned. (BTW, KNIFVES made me board secretary a couple weeks ago. Everyone wants a lawyer on their board!)
shall the universe
Last night I came home and saw something similar to the above image in the sky, except that it was fully night in Spokane by the time I saw the image. It is the crescent moon and venus seemingly right next to each other. I drove right into the view as I drove westward down my street to my home. I almost couldn't believe it was real. That spot must be a plane, I thought. But it was Venus. Below, another view. Both images come from Bob King with Duluth News at his astronomy blog. Beautiful photos, beautiful views.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation. The answers to our problems don’t lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and universities; in our fields and our factories; in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth. Those qualities that have made America the greatest force of progress and prosperity in human history we still possess in ample measure. What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more.I heard the word "entrepreneur" and sat up. Why, that was exactly what I had been wanting to write about, with my "Spirit of Service" stories. In fact, just that day I had been meeting with my friend Mary Ann McCurdy at her consulting office to learn about how she makes her living by working on different projects that make an impact on this community. And here was Obama, highlighting a similar theme.
The synchronicity did not end there. It was the next day that Obama nominated former Washington governor Gary Locke for Commerce Secretary. I first met Mary Ann years ago, when she was Gov. Locke's Eastern Washington director, and I was on an educational board that was trying to get the governor as a speaker at our annual fundraising event. (Mary Ann helped; there were kinks in the plan; the whole thing came together a year later.) I remember being impressed with how efficient and hardworking she was, even in the face of a lot of complications. And when I heard of Locke's nomination, I knew he was an excellent choice. After all, he had the wherewithal to hire Mary Ann back then, didn't he?
It was a few years ago that I actually got to know Mary Ann and her husband Jim (a local lawyer and minor league baseball team owner) through the Interplayers, our professional local theater. They both have been on the Interplayers board; Mary Ann has been its executive director; it is my opinion that they have been more than instrumental in saving Interplayers from near-dissolution. Today it is the only professional theater in Spokane. Both Jim and Mary Ann have been incredibly supportive of my baseball novel, about the 1946 Spokane Indians baseball team that died in a bus crash midway through the season. They even had me do a reading from the novel at the theater. Jim is a minor league baseball guy, so he naturally would be drawn in by the story. But Mary Ann? I think she sees the beauty of the story through the magic of it. They were just great guys, those 1946 men....
One thing I knew about Mary Ann, even before meeting with her Tuesday, is that she is a natural networker. Most recently I ran into her at the Spokane airport as we both waited for flights (she was on her way to DC for the inauguration). She ended up running into two different friends of hers, independent of each other, while we were getting coffee. Within moments, the four of us were sitting and bonding with Mary Ann as the catalyst, gently noting what we each had in common with each other. We now are planning an airport "reunion" (Mary Ann's idea) in the next week or so. She's just a natural at this bridge-building thing. So it makes perfect sense that she should run a consulting business.
When I asked her on Tuesday what she did, exactly, she had to ponder it a little. This is what happens to someone with so many skills. She has been the right hand of a governor, a realtor, a therapist, an educator, a board member (of many boards -still), a theater salvationist (if that is a word)..... Her immediate can-do list was clear: organizational planning and rehabilitation, political communications, and people development. Her projects similarly have been very constructive and broad-based. She has just finished helping Eastern Washington University rebuild its "EWU Friends of the Library program," for instance, which required revamping from the ground up. She has a great knack for matching boards with new, innovative board members. She works one-on-one with clients from topics ranging anywhere from effective political speech to policy reform. Many of the tasks generate income. Some of the tasks - well, she will work on it because the project needs her help. She is the embodiment of this "Spirit of Service," business style.
Mary Ann and I talked a little bit Tuesday about what it means to network. It is not about climbing a ladder; it is about building bridges. And it is about doing so with a sense of joy and service. Sometimes something comes back to the person who did the networking. Sometimes it does not. What matters is the effort. Building a business around that kind of effort takes a true entrepreneur. That is Mary Ann.
Think about it: so often we look at helping our communities solely through the lens of volunteerism. And while that is important, it may be beneficial to view community outreach from more than that one lens. What if we looked at our businesses as a branch of the community? How would that view impact the choices we made in our day-to-day business lives? And what if we took that "spirit of service" directly into the workplace, in every moment? So that even if the task is not directly service oriented, perhaps the attitude can be. Let's not just be Saturday volunteers (or Sunday churchgoers). Let us imagine how to live our lives in service.
It is what Obama says: it is about pulling together, confronting challenges boldly, and taking responsibility for our future. And the answers to our problems lie even closer than within our reach. They lie in the palms of our hands.
Frankly, though I'd love to see us keep Mary Ann in the role of consultant here in Spokane, I would not be at all surprised if she receives a call from the "other Washington" from, say, the Commerce Department, seeking her assistance over the next four years. Our loss, the country's gain. I would not be at all surprised.
I hope the best for you, I know the worst – they are one in the same – the same thing – the moment of being – the essence of life – and living – and sound
(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
To keep my spirits up and my energy moving, I switched from the Gregorian chant CD that I was playing (love those chants) to an old favorite: "Songs Of Pogo." This CD comes from an album I received in 1964, at my three-year-old birthday party. Apparently the parent of the friend that gave it to me thought it was a kid's album. Hey, there was a cute possum on the cover of it, with a little birdie on top of his head. Who could imagine it actually came from a political cartoon? Walt Kelly, and the Okeefenokee Swamp? Who knew?
I fell in love with this album. I still know almost all the words to all the songs. This is an accomplishment, since the words are often put together in unexpected order. Like the beginning lyrics of the "Parsnoops" song: "Oh... the parsnips are snipping their snappers, while the parsley is parsing the peas..... or parsing a sentence from handle to hand was the hornet who hummed with the bees!" (the turnips were passing the time of the day on the night of the moon on the porch.... and so on.)
So I just went and proofread what I wrote. Very close, eh? This is how much I loved this album growing up. And how much I played it. And still love it. My nieces and nephews, when they were young, allowed me to sing these wonderful songs to them. The older they got, the more they - ah - encouraged me not to burst into lyrics at any given moment. Fair enough. Luckily I have a brand-new nephew who doesn't know any better - yet - than to love the rhythm of the music. I'll give him another five years or so before he says, Aunt Beth, stop singing those songs!
BTW: Pogo (the possum) is the one who said a line that you may have heard before: "We have met the enemy and he is us."
During yesterday's cleaning, I sang along with the CD like always. There are haunting songs, like "A Time Not For Now":
you need not put stay
a tune for the was can be sung for today
a note for the does-not will sound as the does
today you can sing for the will-be that was.
And all of the nonsensical stuff - well, it makes sense. Like in the birthday song: "but 'fore one can be three, be two.... before be five be four." That makes perfect sense. But out loud? It sounds a little funny. In "Don't Sugar Me," one of my favorite lines is: "See the teapot pout 'cause the kettle's blue...." Funny, right? Because the teapot wants to call the kettle black. But if it's blue, well, you can't do it. So, if you were the teapot, wouldn't you pout about that? Life's so unfair! Funny. Or one of the half-lines in the song "Tomorrow": "or durin' the night, when we're shinin' the moon..." Shining the moon. Get it? You know. Moonshine. Illegal alcohol back during the days of prohibition. All wrapped up in a song that is talking about daytime and nighttime, and is whimsy and in the midst of "watching the tom tit warble hello..." It's a sweet nature song that hides within it a reference to alchohol. Fascinating. Not a typical children's album. I mean - it's not the Wiggles, is it.
My favorite song on the album (other than "A Time Not For Now," above) always has been "Go Go Pogo." It's the first song on the album. It goes from everywhere to nowhere, up one coast and down the other. It was Walt Kelly's "This Land Is Your Land." And - I think it's about election time!
Otsego to Frisco go to Fa-a-argo
Okeefenokeee playing - possum on a pogo
Stick around and see the show... go over
and so on. Oh. And then there's the part: "Wheeling, West Virginia - with everything that's in ya - down the line you'll see the shine from Oregon to Caroline...." (oh eenie meenie minie Kokomo go pogo... tishimingo sing those lingo whistlin' go....) Once when driving across country, from west to east, I insisted on taking a somewhat circuitous route so I could drive through Wheeling, West Virginia. Just because of this song. I had to see that town.
I'll end with the lyrics of "Slopposition" - a song that never gets old - not as long as we have politicans:
to all the supposition that was generally supposed
but now the superstitutions that were thought to be imposed
are seen by composition to be slightly decomposed.
As to the Republican response, delivered by Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal (who I happen to like as a person) - first of all, isn't it supposed to be a response? I can find no pundit yet this a.m. pointing this out, but didn't Jindal just have a canned speech that failed to speak to many of the major points of Obama's speech? Also, and even if you are a Republican - haven't the Republicans just become annoying? They keep bashing Democrats on points that do not exist. This Democratic Party is not the party of the 1970s or 1980s. Yes there is spending, but it is spending with a theme of acting responsibly. Yes there will be an increase in taxes but not on everyone - just on families making over $250,000 a year, and 95 percent of families will receive a tax cut. So to say that the Democrats won't consider tax cuts, or that they are raising taxes on people can hardly afford it, or to say that Dems want big government without acknowleding the just-spoken commitment by the president to cut the deficit in half over the next four years (and the just-spoken admonition that he does not like big government but this is where we stand right now, having inherited a huge, big mess).... Well, that all just sounds dumb. Like you're dumb. Low IQ.
And yet I know Repubs aren't dumb. I know Jindal isn't dumb. So - what's left? A trick. That they are trying to play a trick. I'm really sorry to say it, too, because I know that there are Republicans who are sincere in having a different philosophy at how to solve things - Repubs whose nuanced ideas actually could find traction in this administration, whose voices should be rising above the voices of all the noisy tricksters in their party who are playing a smoke-and-mirrors game.
We've had enough tricks over the years. Let's go with sincerity this time, and give the president a chance to flush out his ideas; to incorporate nuances of the opposition's ideas (as long as those ideas branch out beyond "tax cuts for the rich"); and to make a difference in a country that has its problems but that is - let's face it - the greatest country in the world.
Here's a good article on Obama's speech.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
George Clooney went to the White House yesterday and delivered 250,000 postcards to the president and vice president from people wanting our country to take more action there. The White House should receive another 700,000 postcards by the end of the week. The Save Darfur organization is in charge of getting your postcards from here to there. The postcard link is here; the postcards are electronic.
The White House visit caps a trip to Darfur last week, where George Clooney traveled with NBC's Ann Curry and New York Times' columnist Nicholas Kristoff. Right now is actually a pivotal time, so taking action now is important. There could be an indictment from the International Criminal Court against Sudan's sitting president as early as next week; this White House could choose to assign a permanent envoy to the crisis so that our country is proactive rather than reactive. And all this takes place after years of death and violence. Over 300,000 people have died and over 2.7 million are refugees. Read some Darfur basics here. Read a little about the ICC here.
So go ahead. Make a difference. Send a postcard today.
Monday, February 23, 2009
As for my own writing: treatments are drafted here and there, and I started today on drafting the screenplay for my ice skater story. Wish me luck!
Sunday, February 22, 2009
"We held meetings, created events and went to government representatives and elected officials at all levels from local boards to Congress," Marianne says. "Then we went on the road to other communities in our county to tell them how to do it [and to give them assistance like incorporation papers to model]. In 3 years, we had active community associations in every suburban area. We now share information between our communities about government actions and criminal activities. We started a street fair, a winter light festival, a character quality program, and banded together our local Altrusa, the community association, the Kiwanis, and the Lions. We got our county parks to let us raise money, produce a design and write a grant for a huge skate board park. It took 5 years, and some finessing around [some] officials" who were not wildly enthusiastic about the project. "But the kids love it now!"
By the way, Marianne lost that election by 4 percent. "But I think I got far more done than I would have if I had been in the legislature," she says.
I asked Marianne which one of the projects over the years did she feel was the most beneficial. Her response: the community organization itself. Its usefulness to her community and as a model for other communities has been invaluable. If she had only one thing to do over again, it would be that. She says the creation of the nonprofit organization was like a "burst of firework, and then all the other things lit up because the thing in the center went 'boom'." She explains that the organization came together as one big group to do a visioning process of what the community needed, and then worked from that list and made subcommittees including a transportation committee, a schools committee, a crime/resources committee, etc. She warns that transportation is the toughest and longest to come to fruition. Because the organization is a nonprofit, it has restrictions against having political leanings. Thus, its purpose is simply educational.
Her advice to others about how to create something similar: find out who is already meeting as a group in their community - whether that is the grange , or a sewing circle or a lions club - and have some conversations wtih the people whoa re active in those groups. See if you can get a core group of four or five people together and talk about community needs, for starters. Marianne also says that it can take a little while to find out where the community needs are if you do not already have an active community association. It may be that you will need to go through a process of identifying the need first, which could take up to six months. And definitely speak to city and county government folks too, in identifying those needs. And don't give up! Figure out a way to create your own burst of fireworks.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
UPDATE: Turns out, the next step is to go to the Senate Rules Committee, which then will decide whether to "pull" the bill to the Senate Floor. Oops. So many steps... So little understanding by me....
I've been talking about the importance of this bill here, here and here. Then, when I found out that the Senate Judiciary Committee was having a hearing on the bill this past Wednesday, I figured I had to walk my talk. So I went and testified. And sort of got the feeling that the bill would pass, what with its relatively modest reach (since it does not eliminate the statute of limitations entirely) and with the backing of the State Sentencing Guideline Commission chair. But it ain't over until it's over, as the saying goes. So I called Lidia Mori - the staff member that wrote the bill report - at the end of the day yesterday, and she was able to give me the good news. Congratulations go out to all the judiciary committee members (their emails are listed here, if you want to send them a note).
And I want to stress what I learned on the day of testimony: what a difference it made, for my friends (Don Brockett in particular) to have worked so hard behind the scenes for so long on this issue. This bill would not exist, much less pass, if it were not for Don. I know there have been points where he felt like he would never make this happen. Here it was, his own backyard. Here he was, a pretty powerful guy - former head county prosecutor for 25 years. And yet he wasn't making a dent. Except that he was. In one fell swoop. That's the headline. But I know about the years of hard work that got that headline to appear. Good for Don. Good for us - lucky us - that he stuck to it. And thank you, all of you out there, working so hard, on other issues, feeling like no matter how loud you get, nothing happens. Because things do happen. The very fact that you are trying means that you are making a difference. Hopefully there will be outcome too - not just process, but outcome. But thank you first, for making the effort because you know you must, regardless of outcome. It is the right thing to do.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Some weeks ago, I was driving down Spokane Falls Boulevard, which is the street that runs next to Riverfront Park and the Spokane River. I was coming to a crosswalk when I saw a number of ducks gathering at the crosswalk, tails awaggin', feet adancin'....
So yes, I stopped. They looked determined to cross. Which they did, after I stopped. I actually stopped (as the photo shows) way ahead of the crosswalk. You can't always trust a duck to stay within the white lines... Other cars stopped even further behind me. We all knew who had the right of way.
I remember one year, back when I lived near Manito Park (on the duck pond side), I was looking out my window and saw a mama duck and her ducklings waddling their way in a sweet line, one after the other, down the middle of the street towards the pond, and then saw the cars - and one bicyclist - lined up behind them, moving at snail's pace so as not to disrupt nature's course.
The image above reminds me of the story of Ping - a children's story of a Chinese duck who gets separated from his boat and his family just because he doesn't want to be the last one at the end of the day to get on the boat (and get spanked). All turns out well in the end, but I remember as a child being scared for sweet Ping as he can't find his family....
The image also reminds me of a story from last year, when Joel Armstrong, a local banker - there are some good ones out there! - saved the lives of brand new baby ducks who were born in a nest made precariously on the cement awning next to his office window and who one day started taking nose-dives down the side of the building to their mama quacking at them below. Joel rushed out of the building after the first kamikaze jump and ended up catching the remaining babies with his bare hands, one by one, until all of them were standing next to their mom, who seemed to appreciate his help. He and other office folks then helped get the babies to water by transporting them by box the couple of blocks it was to the Spokane River. Snopes.com confirmed the story as true (and posts great photos as well). Those of us in Spokane already knew it had really happened. Joel became known as the Duck Hero - all around the world, actually. He and his family were even the Honorary Duck Masters at the Peabody Hotel in Orlando, Florida (which has a duck march twice a day, with great fanfare). And while Joel definitely went the extra mile, we Spokanians do know who has priority in this town when it comes to getting from here to there.
When making public noise, there eventually develops an obligation to take action. In other words - practice what you preach! So when I learned this week about the hearing set two days ago on this bill, I decided I had to go and testify. The 10-hour round-trip drive was not enticing, especially since I've been sick and so am way behind in the tasks I've assigned myself. But I felt compelled to go.
I have not testified at a legislative hearing since law school - oh, just 20 years or so ago. Back then I was working in the legal clinic at the University of Maryland with women in prison serving extraordinarily long sentences for having killed abusive husbands. I came up with a three-point plan (all of which succeeded, BTW) to help these women, and future women, receive more insightful treatment from the legal system. One point of the plan was to pass legislation that allowed expert testimony on the battered woman syndrome in murder or assault trials where there was evidence that the victims had abused the defendant. Back at that time (1987), that kind of testimony was often rejected by the trial court because it was only admissible in cases of self defense and the definition of self defense was limited to "imminent" (immediate) harm. This bill was going to allow defendants to argue "imperfect self defense" (i.e., subjectively but unreasonably believing that there is imminent danger), which had the potential of reducing the crime from murder to manslaughter. In rare cases the testimony could help in achieving an acquittal.
The year after I left law school - and through the hard work of battered women advocates in Maryland - the bill passed, and the other two points of my plan also came to pass (which were to create an educational video about these women's plights in prison, and to achieve clemency for those serving too-long sentences.) In fact, it was after viewing "A Plea for Justice" that then-MD Gov. Donald Schaeffer went to meet the women inmates in the video and ultimately chose to pursue the clemency route. He was the one who asked that the clemency petitions be filed. It was a controversial move at the time, but I personally knew the details of the cases, knew their significant merits, and was really proud of him for granting clemency.
Fast forward to this past Wednesday: When I arrived at the hearing, the room was filling up for other bills to be heard that day. For one of them - dealing with public defense funds - Adam Kline (head of the Judiciary Committee) spoke about the "Eastern Washington" verdict that had just come down. I smiled. Why, he was talking about the $3 million verdict my colleagues had obtained. Hey, I know that case!
When they called our bill, it struck me that it did not seem controversial. There were only three of us testifying, all in favor. There were essentially no questions. They all were very nice to me, that I had driven all the way over from Spokane (and my hoarseness gave away how sick I was), but still no questions. Sen. McCaslin - a Republican from this county - was particularly nice to me, and thanked me for coming all the way over for the hearing. They don't get many people to make the drive.... The non-controversy felt odd, since this bill has been killed in this very committee for several years. Now it will pass? Hmmm.....
What was most powerful about the presentation, for me, was the woman sitting next to me. Jean Soliz-Conklin is the executive director of the Sentencing Guideline Commission. She explained to the committee that the Commission had studied this issue during the past year through an ad hoc committee and that people "from Eastern Washington" had in particular given the committee great insight into how a child sex abuse victim often needs to have time away from the family home before being able to come forward about the childhood abuse. She also said that states vary extremely on where to place the statute of limitations, but that there did seem to be some uniformity that age 28 (for the victim) was an acceptable spot, so the Commission was making that recommendation.
My testimony was basically what I have said here on the website. Abusers are sick, but are under a compulsion and we need to give the abused children time to realize that the abuse is not their fault, that they should not stay silent....
I stuck around a little to listen to students and teachers testify about a freedom of speech bill for student journalists. But then I needed to head home. We shall see what happens next....
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
If three letters could change my name, how much would I be able to transform my life if I understood all the letters? I spent that whole evening writing and rewriting my name. After that, I carried the spelling book with me while I went to collect firewood, weed the maize field, just everywhere, until I learned to write. ...And the story goes on from there.
As my new knowledge of words boosted my confidence and courage, I made a resolution: Yes, my life has been like this, but I and my sisters and brothers should be given education, as much as we would like.
This NPR piece is short and it is powerful. What we take for granted here.... This woman - Chameli Waiba - is my Spirit of Service story for today. Without her, there would be no bridge.
Drudgery has a meaning -
listen to it
This free write reminds me of the saying, "Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightment, chop wood and carry water." Hence the block of wood in the photo.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
In the meantime, I got sick. Probably the flu. Achiness, sore throat - you know the routine. And my day yesterday was filled with appointments. So by 5 p.m., the last thing I felt like doing was breaking down a set. But I drove back into Spokane from Sandpoint, Idaho at exactly - you guessed it - 5 p.m., so I figured I needed to follow through with my commitment.
Already at the set breakdown scene were several young people who are involved and integrated with the theater. "Cowgirls" had done so well that there is talk of a summer revival, so we needed to keep the set pieces intact and move them to the basement floor that way.
What I noticed more than anything else (even more than the heavy lifting and subsequent sweating - boy, I sure didn't feel good) was the precision by which all these theater people managed the tasks at hand. It was disorganized organization, like a symphony in the middle of its last movement - the musicians all know the end result and the rest of us are all gifted with the opportunity to watch it unfold.
Kudos go out to all who helped. There was Maynard, of course. We argued over who was older (he is, but not by much) as the punctuation to the fact that I claimed elderly status when I couldn't successfully help him bring the chaise lounge up from the basement. There was Chris - new to me but not to Interplayers, someone who works long and hard behind the scenes to make sure that things go smoothly there. And then there were the "youngsters," as I call them: Gracie, who is in a play down at the local community college but thinks her part might get cut; Ginny, who will be stage manager for "Belle"; Jeremy, who had the unfortunate luck - like Maynard - of carrying furniture with me as his partner, and who even was willing to suffer through the experience more than once; Damon, who (it turns out) performed as one of the customers in a restaurant scene in a movie on autism called "Mozart and the Whale" that was filmed in Spokane using North by Northwest production company; and Brian, who out of the blue asked me about my baseball novel, taking me by surprise that he knew about it in the first place.
There were funny moments - like when I hovered around the baby grand piano as all the men took sides and lifted it from the stage to the floor, and then I asked for acknowledgement of how I "supervised" their work. Maynard and Chris simultaneously said that it appeared I was taking over Maynard's job. But overall, it really was just a lot of grunt work - moving set, sweeping floor, moving on. And not too many people outside of the eight of us will even know what we did, or realize the numer of splinters we got from moving a rustic set in the first place.
In the end, "Cowgirls" will become "The Belle" in part because a small troupe of industrious people chose to help move the view. And I'm glad I was there. Being a part of that group last night gives me new appreciation for what takes place, literally, "behind the scenes." In theater. In general. In life. I should have taken a picture.
I have just heard from Don again. A hearing on this bill - Senate Bill 5832 - is set for this coming Wednesday, February 18, at 3:30 p.m. in front of the state Senate Judiciary Committee in Senate Hearing Room 1 of the J.A. Cherberg Building in Olympia. He asks that we attend if we are able. If not, you can email. Members of the committee with their email addresses are: Senator Adam Kline - Chair, email@example.com ; Senator Debbie Regala – Vice-chair, firstname.lastname@example.org ; Senator Val Stevens, email@example.com ; Senator Bob McCaslin, firstname.lastname@example.org ; Senator Mike Carrell, email@example.com ; Senator Jim Hargrove, firstname.lastname@example.org ; Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, email@example.com ; Senator Pam Roach, firstname.lastname@example.org ; and Senator Rodney Tom, email@example.com. Chris Marr and Jim Hargrove are the bill's sponsors.
As Don explains in more detail on his website (check out the "latest information" link), this bill does not eliminate the statute of limitations altogether (a step that other states and the federal government already have taken in recent years) and does not include all child sex abuse crimes. Nonetheless, it is a step forward. Having it pass is important. Please help if you are able.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
In one scene, I heard a thief tell George Clooney (and Brad Pitt, I believe) that they were "antelope playing in a digital world." I didn't know what it meant, but it sounded very poetic and ephemeral. I had this image of them running like the wind but still not being able to keep up....
Turns out, the line was that they were "analog players in a digital world." Makes more sense. Not so poetic, though. It does reveal, I think, in which world I feel most at home. That would be The Range, right? Seriously, Wyoming. I love Wyoming. Now there, the antelope play.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
The writing class will focus on turning true stories into literature - something I did with the story of the 1946 Spokane Indians baseball team.
Here's the blurb on the class that Michele is distributing:
PAINTING WITH WORDS - Saturday, Feb. 21st, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. - $30
Come join us at a Creative Writing Workshop with local author Beth Bollinger. Ms. Bollinger is the author of "Until The End Of The Ninth," a novel based on the true story of the 1946 Spokane Indians baseball team that died in a bus crash midway through the season. She will be teaching us how to turn true stories into literature. Future classes include illustrating and creative binding for the stories that you write.
Actually, even if you don't take my class, you should consider taking the class on book binding. It looks like fun - I'll probably be taking it myself.
Chris got right back to me. Here's what he said: "Thanks, Beth. Working with Sen. Jim Hargrove, I requested that the Sentencing Guidelines Commission evaluate the current statutes of limitations for child sex crimes. The resulting bill SB5832, which I co-sponsored, increases the statute to 28 years. It is a step towards eventual elimination of the time limit and I am hopeful we can pass it this year."
We all need to tell Chris Marr (6th district/Spokane) and Jim Hargrove (24th district/Port Angeles) that they are moving in the right direction. And we need to contact our own state senators and representatives to encourage them to support this bill as it begins.
I do think that elimination of the statute of limitations altogether is best (which is what the feds did for federal laws, back in 2006). I am also concerned that the proposed extension of the limitations - to age 28 - does not apply to the most serious charges (e.g., the ones that involve force or kidnapping) unless the victim reported the crime to the police within a year of the crime taking place. But at least by introducing a bill, Chris Marr and Jim Hargrove have created movement. Let's let them know that we support that movement, and also tell them of any changes we might want to the bill itself.
Here is a link to a website where you can find your state legislators. Email addresses for Chris Marr and Jim Hargrove are firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. You'll see the pattern of how to write an email address (last name first, then first name, then @leg.wa.gov - system is the same for House members).
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
According to reports, the CT protesters started out in front of the guy's pool house, and it took one of the guy's neighbors to point them in the right direction. (Which I love, that a wealthy neighbor would give such a tacit thumbs up to the group's effort by helping them get the protest organized in the right direction.) Also, apparently one of the police officers who was ensuring that the protest was legal told the protesters that what they were doing was great - that his own sister had been evicted, and that as long as the protesters gave the police department prior notice, they could do these peaceful protests whenever they wanted.
And the banker's response? A quote from William Frey, from the above-linked article: "I could care less. It's really much ado about not much at all. They have a first amendment right to jump up and down and scream." Now there's a guy who knows how to win friends and influence people.
This all comes in the midst of news reports about how bankers won't loosen the purse strings for borrowers in trouble in spite of all the bailing-out money we have given them. They seem more interested in giving themselves bonuses.
When is the next protest? Are there any going on in Spokane? Can I go? (though likely in Spokane, our local bankers are being helpful - hmm - I'll find out and get back to you on that)
I do have one caveat. Any protest needs to be peaceful, MLK Jr.-style. I point this out only because there were some odd quotes in the above-linked article about NACA not intending a peaceful protest (even though everything they did seemed plenty peaceful). And NACA is also in the business of working with banks to help debtors come up with solutions to restructuring their mortgages so that the banks can forgo foreclosure, so it is my assumption that they are legitimately working within the boundaries of the First Amendment to make known their cause and opinion. Check out their website here.
Whatever is going on, something needs to happen. NACA is the first group to make that point in a tangible way. So I tip my hat to NACA and its 400 protesters for bringing attention to this issue in a peaceful but powerful way.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
It's not like I've never acted before. Back when I was 30 (oh, so many moons ago) and living in Cheyenne, Wyoming, I was in three plays. I was the lead in one of them (a short play that we performed for the nursing homes in town), and had a solo in another. And - well, yes, I'm a lawyer. Which isn't acting, per se, but it is public performance.
And I did have fun with the Improv section in Sunday's class. Possibly it was the topic. Crystal set up the scene as me on a date with this guy (one of the men in the class); we've been dating for a month; he has this habit of ogling other women while sitting with me; and I find this annoying. Well, now, I don't know if impromptu putting together that scene was acting. More like therapy. But it was fun, and we made people laugh.
But then came the awkward moment, when it was my turn to go in front of a (pretend) camera to get a lesson on deliving a line for a (pretend) commercial with a (real) actor - Scott Alan Berk - giving me tips. I'm usually not shy. But put me in front of a camera with one line to deliver about garlic mints and... well, let's just say it didn't go so well. "I'm really more of a writer," I explained to Scott before we got started, to ensure that his expectations were set at an appropriately low level.
Still, the class was a blast. It was good to get a sense of what actors do. And it gives me this chance to let people know that Crystal's group, Acting Center NW, has a coupon on its website for a free dance class. Crystal is a welcoming and kind teacher. Also, for people looking to get head shots, Crystal is giving a class on it on Monday, February 16, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Post Falls location for $35 - the price includes a head shot. Adam Frangione will be the photographer. Call (208) 704-2767 for more information.
I'm a lawyer. When I negotiate, I tell the other side what I want up front. I push the envelope some, and what I want does not always mesh with what I believe I can ultimately get. But I don't play games. Realistically I couldn't pull off the gameplaying with panache. Idealistically I want to be myself and use the system for the good of my client, not the other way around. If I do play a game, it is the game of refusing to play a game.
When I started in the law 19 years ago, the other side often thought I was bluffing. I had envelopes pushed back at me. At times I got less than what was fair, and wondered if my style got in the way. Over time though, I have trained lawyers to know that when I tell them what I want, I mean it. This is my bottom line and I will fight to the end if there is no proper compromise.I still have to train new opponents. I still have to know my stuff so I can follow through with the "or else" part. But I get to do my job authentically. And these days, I get answers faster. In the long run, my way is both more honorable and easier. Any parent would agree that having clear boundaries is key. So I love Obama's negotating style. It suits me. I think it will work in the long run. I do wonder, though, about other Obama fans whose negotiating styles are different. How are they going to tolerate him for the (hopefully) next eight years?
I did notice that the talking heads on the various shows are trying to play a catch-up game with the polls that say how much people like the president's process. The media's take, in a nutshell: finally he is listening to us, which is changing public opinion. Really, there must be a requirement for a DSM-IV diagnosis of narcissism to be on one of these television news shows.
And I'm loving Bob Herbert's column this a.m. A snippet: "There is always a tendency to underestimate Barack Obama. We are inclined in the news media to hyperventilate over every political or policy setback, no matter how silly or insignificant, while Mr. Obama has shown again and again that he takes a longer view."
Also last night, I think there was some serious writing on the wall for Republicans. Some won't care because they come from states that are so conservative that it won't matter come election time. Some, though, are listening closely and realizing that this odd-man-out routine might just make them man-voted-out down the road. For all the threats about tougher battles down the road, there must be a number of Republicans (Senate side at least, where you have to be more moderate because you are pleasing an entire state's population) who are thinking, huh. I don't think I want to be crossing this amicable Obama guy, especially when he keeps offering to listen to my ideas and inviting me to watch the Super Bowl with him.....
I did love how the president separated out the different kinds of Repubs. There are the three that stepped forward to create compromise on this stimulus bill (he thanked them). There are the ones who sincerely hold beliefs that differ from his own (he respected them). And then there are those who are playing a game (he called them out). For that middle category - the ones who sincerely hold a different belief - those guys just might end up at the discussion table at some point, in part because Obama has been respectful while disagreeing. Besides, I can respect them too. At least they are standing up for something that they sincerely believe.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Looking at the piece of paper two days ago, I smiled and felt sad all together. I don't live near him so my visits, though often, are not daily, or weekly, or even monthly. With young children, that consistent contact is so important. As they mature, a phone call works to keep in touch. But the little ones - they love instantly and then are left to wonder at the absence of the person that they have just chosen to love. Truth be told, though, my sister and her husband encompass my nephew with such a sense of love and safety that it is likely that only my heart breaks when it comes time for my visits to end. His heart is fine. This is my fervent wish.
While I was there this last time, and after the grocery store incident, we spontaneously came up with a clapping game. It's the best way to describe it. It evolved when he flipped his hands together and I imitated him. He looked, laughed, studied me. Then he flipped his hands back and forth again, and I imitated him. Well, now, this was magic (I think he thought). If I just do something silly with my hands, I can get this lady with the blonde hair to do it too. This game we played off and on for days. My sis even got it on video. What I loved - absolutely loved - is how he would laugh after each time that he got me to "clap." He laughs like a waterfall, I told my sister. It sounds just like a waterfall....
We played this other game too that I called "Monster." I would growl like a monster and crawl towards him on all fours while he ran to his mom on the couch. Then he would come towards me as I turned my back to him and moved away (pretending that I didn't see him) and then he would just get wide-eyed and giggle and run to his mom as I turned back around to growl and chase after him again. My sister said that the look on his face as he ran to her was one of sheer terror and joy all wrapped up into one. This we did for long periods of time. It required my sister to stay sitting and anchored at the couch so he had a safe place to go when I started chasing him again.
And he is the sweetest kid. We decided to show him the Bollinger family tradition of watching a football game on a Sunday. It was the Sunday that the Eagles were playing the Cardinals for the NFC championship. That was why we went to the grocery store, in fact - to buy chips, hamburger patties, hotdogs etc. As I wheeled my nephew around in the grocery cart (and he, apparently, chewed on the grocery list), I kept telling him how exciting the day was going to be. He understood none of it, other than my sheer joy and anticipation. But he gets this idea of joy, so he laughed and got excited too. Oh, and I spelled out "Eagles" for him, too, in true Philadelphia-fan form. ("E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles!"). I had a convert.
Now, here's the thing. After the Eagles lost (so sad, so sad), and my level of joy had greatly diminished, and we were all eating dinner.... my sister said, "He's trying to cheer you up." I looked up, and it was true. This little boy was swinging his head around, looking goofy, making silly faces, just to get me to smile. And here he was, just 14 months old. What an amazing capacity for compassion he has. I smiled - truly smiled - and he grinned back. He had done it. He had gotten that funny blonde lady to be happy again.
So I guess I am not alone in my admiration of President Obama and the integrity of his process.
UPDATE: And still the Mainstream Media can't figure out what the headline is. CNN just posted a story with the titillating headline that Obama is more popular than his stimulus package. Buried in the story is the fact that people approve of his method of negotiation over anyone else, and certainly over Republicans. Why is that not the headline? Because it's not as sexy or controversial? Really? And one wonders why we feel that the MSM disappoints us time and time again. This much is clear: if there is to be a new method of politics in Washington, D.C., it will not be because CNN caught the headline at an early stage. And it won't be because they don't have the story, either. It'll be that they bury the story out of preference for a grabbier headline.