Tuesday, March 31, 2009

SB 5832 - On House Floor For Upcoming Vote

As shown here (in reverse chronological order), I've been tracking the progress of Senate Bill 5832 in the state of Washington, which would extend the statute of limitations for some child sex abuse crimes to the victim's 28th birthday. This is a good first step, as it will allow a child to have been out of the family home as an adult for at least a little time before the statute of limitations run on this damaging, secretive crime. It doesn't go as far as federal law, which in 2006 eliminated all statute of limitations on child sex abuse crimes. But it is a first step. Thanks goes to former Spokane County Prosecutor Don Brockett, who has spearheaded this project for several years. See his website at www.stopmolesters.org.

On Friday, the House Rules Committee voted that SB 5832 should go to the House Floor for a vote - another big, positive step. (Thank you, Rules Committee.) A floor vote might take place either tomorrow or Friday, so now is a good time to contact House representatives and ask them to vote "yes" on the bill. You can find your legislators here - just plug in your address and it will give you the names of your reps. Here is a sample letter you can send. This bill is supported by the state Sentencing Commission.

Daily Free Write

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Solid oak, feel the way
.

(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Bruce
Tuten, found here

Monday, March 30, 2009

Daily Free Write

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stay true to your heart
.


for it is your heart that knows your soul and
can suffice as a guide through the universe of time

(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Tony Immoos, found here

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Daily Free Write

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golden moment, the golden essence -
golden fleece, and gold flecks of paint
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gold, golden, goldenrod...

(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Ed Luschei, found here

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Reading Is Fundamental

I read a very funny posting this a.m. by Marmite Toasty, one of the bloggers on Huckleberries, a blog by newsman Dave Oliviera (at the Spokesman Review). Dave does a wonderful job of highlighting interesting blog entries around the region (and world, in this case, as M.T. is from south England, not western United States).

It got me to thinking - what's worth reading out there? I went a long period of time a few years ago reading almost nothing in the form of a novel, as I didn't want to impact my own writing style by picking up other authors' styles inadvertently. I'm over that speed bump, and am back to reading good books. But a lot of the books I pick up now - granted, somewhat at random - seem to be missing something. Either I don't particularly care about the hero, or I can sense that some editor came in and butchered a really, really good manuscript.... I don't want to read only the classics, tried and true. And I don't want to resort to reading only "bubblegum" books (fun books that I enjoy reading but that don't have a lot of substance). I'm really interested in reading today's good novelists. I don't have a genre preference, though I'm not particularly impressed with the new trend of trying to attach readers to heroes with no moral compass. Any suggestions for "good read" books? Post below, or email me your suggestions at bethatlaw@gmail.com.

Daily Free Write

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BREATHE DEEP

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for without the breath, there is no life


(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
Photo credit: Kerry Parkins, found here

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Cocoon

I've been writing my screenplay that I started last week during the screenplay writing workshop. When I write like this, I disappear, even from myself somehow (don't know how it works). So my entries this week on the blog are a bit anemic. Sorry. Am trying to stay active and engaged while giving priority to the screenplay. I have some great blog-type stories I want to tell - likely will happen on Sunday and Monday. I'm looking forward to my next Spirit of Service (SOS) story too. It's a good one, great angle. In the meantime, bear with me. I've disappeared into a world of mystery and intrigue. I didn't know that I would (or really could) write that sort of movie script, but it appears as though I am (and can). I shouldn't drive in this, my writing condition. I'm way, way too spacy to drive right now...

Daily Free Write

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fly away - fly!

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until your wings begin to soar,
silvered and silent into the wind of time



(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Andrea Da Re, photo here


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Daily Free Write


seek the answer, feel the question


(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

AIG, and Another Point of View

I've been watching the AIG mess from afar. I'm in Obama's camp on this one with regard to what to do about the bonuses (or what I think is his camp): taxing one small group of people is likely illegal and is, at best, probably not a good precedent to set. Still, I keep thinking - if the bonuses are taxed at 90%, I won't be horribly offended. Not to add to the villification, but c'mon. Bonuses?

Then this a.m., I saw a letter in the New York Times from Jake DeSantis, one of the guys who heads up an AIG unit that isn't directly related to the debacle. It's called "Dear AIG, I Quit!." He was pretty upset - felt his bonus was legitimate, had taken a salary of $1 for the year as his contribution to try to be loyal to the big picture that is AIG... It was a compelling letter. It made me think about the AIG employees who did try to do right by their company over the years. It also made me realize why Tim Geithner (so far not my favorite Obama appointee) may have seen the bonuses as a legitimate payout, and how the reasoning behind the bonuses was not spelled out very well this past week - which, actually, is a dilemma for Geithner, if he can't articulate his reasons for supporting things. (Here is an interesting article about the impression Geithner left on one reporter a couple days ago.) DeSantis' letter confirmed my gut-reaction thought to the whole situation: could it possibly be less black and white than it all looked from the headlines? DeSantis talked of all the money he lost, both in AIG options and in the stock market generally. He spoke of how his part of the company created the profits, how AIG had repeatedly promised to honor these contracts in March. He said that the ones to blame for the debacle have long since left the company. So. Some gray area.

Some things did stand out, as I read. Like DeSantis' bonus, after taxes (that he was going to give away to charity) was about $750,000. That's a pretty big bonus. Sure softens the blow of taking a salary of $1 for the year. And when he said he did well "by working hard..." Hmmm. Lots of people work really, really hard, and don't earn $750,000 bonuses - nor do they get bailouts from the government that is, in essence, paying that $750,000.

So then I saw another article: "The Mindset of an AIG Executive," by Diane Brady. It helped me see some syllogism in the logic used in DeSantis' passionate letter. There is a disconnect. We are out of balance. I'd rather see men like Mr. DeSantis succeed. But he is missing some points. My favorite one in Brady's column is about the plumber. In response to DeSantis' point that "none of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house," Brady wrote:
True, but if a house has burned down and the owners are left financially destitute, the plumber may have a hard time getting his full pay. And if you’re both part of the same company that carelessly causes the house to burn down, you may get much less.
What I love about our president is how he methodically approaches each of these circumstances. Loved him again in the press conference last night. I actually called my dad after the press conference was over - the good conservative that he is - to get someone's point of view that I trust that isn't my intensely positive one, just so I could keep some perspective. But when Obama said this is about perserverence, I was content. It is. It will be. Perhaps a day will come when the Jake DeSantises of the world end up working in places that do not send our finances into the armpit of despair. That would make me happy.

Daily Free Write





group together,
seethe apart...

closer and closer
do we climb together
















photo credit: Simon Garbutt (specks in snow are climbers)

(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

While I Was Gone.... (Update/Statute of Limitations Bill)

My friend Don Brockett tells me that the statute of limitations bill - Senate Bill 5832, intended to extend statute of limitations on many child sex abuse crimes until the victim's 28th birthday - has continued to progress. It did get passed out of the House committee (the subject of the last update), and now is needing a recommendation from a House Rules Committee member to pull it for a House floor vote.

You can help by emailing the members of the Rules Committee in charge of making that recommenation: Chair, Rep. Frank Chopp, chopp.frank@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Richard DeBolt, debolt.richard@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Mike Armstrong, armstrong.mike@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Barbara Bailey, bailey.barbara@leg.wa.gov;Rep. Deborah Eddy, eddy.deborah@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Mark Ericks, ericks.mark@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Tami Green, green.tami@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Bob Hasegawa, hasegawa.bob@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Bill Hinkle, hinkle.bill@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Norm Johnson, johnson.norm@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Troy Kelley, kelley.troy@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Lynn Kessler, kessler.lynn@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Joel Kretz, kretz.joel@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Dan Kristiansen, kristiansen.dan@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Marko Liias, liias.marko@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Jim Moeller, moeller.jim@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Dawn Morrell, morrell.dawn@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Jeff Morris, morris.jeff@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Joe Schmick, schmick.joe@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, santos.sharontomiko@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Larry Springer, springer.larry@leg.wa.gov; and Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, vandewege.kevin@leg.wa.gov.

Here is a sample letter. Or check out my previous explanation of why we need this law.

Daily Free Write

.
believe in the soulful jo
urney to ecstasy of soul
.



(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Weeklong Screenplay Writing Seminar

Oh my gosh. Incredible. Just amazing.

I just came back from Sandpoint after a weeklong workshop - "playshop," they called it, to lighten it up - Trevor and Fred (the people who organized the workshop) also organize Sandpoint's Film Festival - and "playshop" was a true name - except we also worked and worked.... I got up at 4 a.m. every morning to prepare for the day. Paul Castro ("August Rush," UCLA prof) was our instructor. How do I explain this week? I knew this week would be a big deal for me. Still, I didn't really know. Paul is something else. Patient. Deliberate. Brilliant. Enthusiastic. Involved. Maybe it's the last word that made the biggest difference. There were seven of us in the class. He wanted all seven to succeed. So maybe - a true teacher. The one who keeps all the ducklings in a row. Who would succeed at herding cats. And then all the rest of us - all with different projects, none the same as the other. I actually worked on a project idea that had come five days before the class started - without form - none of the ones I've been working on.... so, challenging but doable. We ended up with a first act (in screenplay writing lingo, that means 17 pages). This worked. It all can be tightened, rewritten, tweaked. But it was good, and strong, and more than worth it. I loved how we all got engaged in working with each other's pages - seeing the stories emerge - having faith that they would, as the week progressed. I believed it more on Thursday than I did on Monday, if just for my own work (meaning the path seemed clearer for everyone else all week long). We plan on meeting as a group in a month - to see progress.

Tuesday was my nadir. I had switched my protagonist twice, was back at the beginning and wondering if I needed to switch back. Then I wrote the first five pages. And then I was good. My best writing comes when I let go of control. It's good and helpful to have outlines, no doubt. But it's like I can hear voices in my head when I really release into a story and let it carry itself through. Suddenly I'm just a scrivener. That happened in a couple places in my 17 pages, this week.

Oh! Oh oh oh. I almost forgot. I got an award. Yes - ahem - voted upon by my colleagues... Best Pitcher. Which, we pitched our stories every week as though Paul were a movie executive. I loved the name of the award - "pitcher" - made me think of the guys from my baseball novel.

I'm hoping to have a draft of the whole screenplay soon - in weeks that can be counted in days. It's all so fresh and immediate in my mind - even had a dream last night, that Paul was trying to help us figure out how best to describe caviar (funny). After I finish the screenplay I've started, I'll draft the baseball novel into script (to learn more about the book, go to the baseball novel website); then the ice skater story. Then I'll have three. And then I make this happen.

Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced ponderay) in Sandpoint
photo credit: Sawyer Pangborn, located here

Daily Free Write

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CELEBRATE!

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What a wondrous time it is
what a wondrous journey we're on

.



(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: NASA


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Week Ahead

I am at a screenplay writing workshop in Sandpoint, Idaho all week, with Paul Castro ("August Rush") which is just going to be something else. It means access to the Internet and my blogger's brain will be limited, as I immerse myself in a completely new idea for a screenplay. Very exciting. So if you don't see a posting on the blog for the next week or so, you know why. See you when I return from dancing along the Milky Way.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Novena of Grace - Day Nine

The ninth day of nine days of grace....

There is a lot I said these past days, things that had stifled inside of me, not for lack of willingness to say them, but more for lack of someone who would listen. Friends have listened, family has listened..... But now I have published it, and it is here for anyone to read. And whether anyone does read it - or not - I do feel at peace that I have said these things, out loud, and that I have grappled with deep emotions to do what I could to identify it all. Process matters. Wholeness of integrity while wrestling with process - that also matters. I think I had that this past week. I think the Man of La Mancha would be proud.

There are things I could have said - unasked questions that I could have answered. For example: false reports are so rare, virtually nonexistent, and it is not even worth creating a factor for it; the church still will do what they can to call a victim a liar, though - I have one example of just that, with one client, but I happened to know that the Diocese had another report of abuse (they forgot that they had told me about it!) so then the Diocesan lawyer was the one who looked like a liar; sex abuse victims' lives truly have been destroyed, with real financial consequences (not to mention the pain and suffering) so there is a purpose to paying them money, though no amount of money will never return them back to square one, or give them back their childhoods; the church is not "nice" now, but continues to be a bully - I have a client whose story I was going to tell at St. Ann's parish here in Spokane as my client's surrogate (part of the Diocese settlement is that the victims may tell their stories at the parishes where they were harmed, and my client's abuser was Msgr. Pypers who served at St. Ann's), but the Diocese through its lawyer told me that I was not allowed to act as my client's surrogate in that way. Never mind that my client lives in California, is older, and likely unable to make the trip up here; never mind that he is not a public speaker and so would have asked me to speak on his behalf even if he did live up here. The Church would not allow it. In fact, to date the Church has succeeded in keeping the Pypers story shut down (though the lay review board did list Pypers' name as an abuser, so that's good).

There are so many answers to so many unanswered questions... know that, if you have a question, I likely have an answer - and it's not going to be a pretty answer, most likely....

Still, there is beauty in the Church. And there are good people there. I had a nine days' worth of it. A complete cycle - nine is the end of a cycle, did you know? Look at 10 - 1 + 0 - it is a one. A new cycle. So nine is completion, as we ready for what comes next.

Some of the words these past nine days encouraged me to have a voice; some gave me thoughts to ponder. And I do think that I have found balance, both physically and spiritually, just as I asked. And Grace, too. This last day of nine days, that is what I said I sought, when I went for my individual blessing. The relic-holder looked at me expectantly. Grace, I said. Just - I'm seeking Grace, today. And so she asked that God give me Grace. It was a perfect way to finish.

Daily Free Write

any time is a good time
the process is the answer
wholeness of being is the progress


(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

KNIFVES Event: "Belle of Amherst"

My movie-making group from Idaho, called KNIFVES, attended the "Belle of Amherst" matinee yesterday at the local Interplayers theater. We organized it so the group would get a chance not only to see this wonderful play about Emily Dickinson but also to meet the play's star, Ellen Crawford. (Ellen is from the original cast of ER, and played Nurse Lydia Wright. She had just returned from filming ER's finale.)

We had 16 people attend from our group. It was the third time I had seen the play. I love this play. I love Ellen in it. There are a couple scenes that particularly move me - when she talks about unexpected kindnesses from Emily Dickinson's father, for instance. It also tears at my heart every time I hear the line that she waited "eight years" for this so-called educated critic to come see her at her home town (only to have him tell her that her poetry was spasmodic). It's the story of the writer, isn't it? How we wait and wait.... for this one thing to develop. Which would be okay, if the answer ended up "yes." But what if it is "no"? Or what if - worse - the answer never comes? Ugh.

We also had the "talk back" afterwards, which means a discussion with Ellen and audience members. It was a challenge for her since she also had a show that night. She really did it as a favor to our group. (One thing that I found out during the talk-back was that the monologue pieces in the play that are not poetry are taken almost exclusively from Emily Dickinson's letters.) No one asked her a question about the filming of the ER finale, which surprised me a little. I did see the ER show this past Thursday - thought it was the finale, though it wasn't. I used to watch the show in its early years - felt some kinship with it, since my sis is an ER doc and got her training in Chicago - so was looking forward to the finale. The almost-finale episode did not disappoint, and included a lot of the cast from the first season. Particularly touching throughout the episode was the interaction between Drs. Carter and Benson, especially given the history between the two characters from the early seasons (when Benson supervised Carter). And there was one powerful scene between Susan Sarandon and George Clooney (as Dr. Ross) as they talked about the grandson of Susan Sarandon's character - what he was like.... The way she described him - simultaneously it described both any child and then, very specifically, this child. So heartbreaking. And then, his line in response - well, I won't say it all here. Just watch the scene.

Because the talk-back took awhile, the KNIFVES group didn't get a chance to meet with Ellen one on one. She did sign some posters, and did speak briefly to one of our youngest members whose film is going to be in a competition in Texas. That capped the whole day for me - that Ellen had a chance to wish Katie good luck.

Child Sex Abuse Statute of Limitations - Update

I have heard from Don Brockett - who has headed the issue of extending statute of limitations on child sex abuse crimes in the state of Washington - that a House hearing on the current bill (Senate Bill 5832) that extends the limitations until the victim's 28th birthday) is now set for Wednesday, March 18, at 1:30 p.m. in front of the House Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness Committee at the House Hearing Room E of the John L. O'Brien Building in Olympia.

Go to the hearing if you can. (I won't be there as I am at a workshop in Sandpoint all week.) Or email the committee members. Here is a sample letter. The main reason that the extension is important is that it often takes child victims a long time to realize that they have been abused and to get over the shame and sense of responsibility that they have for the abuse itself so that they can step forward and report the abuse. As noted by the state's Sentencing Commission Director Jean Soliz Conklin during her Senate Judiciary Committee hearing a few weeks ago, it is important to let the child have at least some time out of the childhood household to be able to feel comfortable bringing forth the accusation.
Also, this is the recommendation of the Sentencing Commission - to increase the statute of limitations to the victim's 28th birthday - based on a comprehensive study that the Commission made this past year - so it does come recommended from a state agency.

The extension covers only some of the child sex abuse statutes. And it does not eliminate the statute of limitations entirely. But it is a beginning.

Committee email addresses are:
Rep. Christopher Hurst, hurst.christopher@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Al O’Brien, obrien.al@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Kirk Pearson pearson.kirk@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Brad Klippert klippert.brad@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Sherry Appleton, appleton.sherry@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Roger Goodman, goodman.roger@leg.wa.gov; Rep. Steve Kirby, kirby.steve@leg.wa.gov; and Rep. Charles Ross, ross.charles@leg.wa.gov.

Novena of Grace - Day Eight

There were so many people in church for Day Eight. It was overflowing. Does this mean that people attend the Novena just on the weekends (which bookend the nine days)?

Loved the blessing. Loved the songs. Someone complimented me on my hair as we were leaving church. Ironic, since my hair worries (see Day Six) is what drew me this year to the Novena in the first place.

The sermon was on the prodigal son. It was told well, and considered well - probably told with an eye towards those in the church who have not been around recently, as a subtle way of welcoming them back.

You know the story - where the younger son takes his inheritance and squanders it, then gets stuck feeding swine, figures that this is not the life, and so returns to his father's house and asks forgiveness. His father celebrates the return; the oldest son complains because he has been toiling away for years and the father had never celebrated him; and the father replies, saying this is the time to celebrate your brother because he was dead but now is alive.

Hearing the story again reminded me of another sermon I heard a few years back using the same parable, but not told - or used - as well, from a priest who clearly was in torment over the sexual abuse scandal. He himself had known some of priests who have turned out to be pedophiles. He spoke of how he had not realized, how he wondered about whether he should have realized. His agony was honest, and I felt bad for him. Then he spoke about the story of the Prodigal Son. If the pedophiles were like the wayward son, and he was like the father, then should he not welcome the abusers with open arms back into the fold? I shook my head no. It was mixing apples with oranges. The parable is about God as the father, not priests. Besides, these abusers were still with the swine, stuck in their stories, their obsession, their justifications. None of them had walked towards home. And yes (as pointed out yesterday), the father does go to meet his wayward son as soon as he sees him in the distance. But the son had to walk towards home first. And then, if the parable can be used to talk about abuser priests and nonabuser priests.... isn't the only affront against the older son one of wounded pride? It is not as though the younger son first killed the older son, or fondled his genitals. Oh, and if the parable is used to talk about abusers as the wayward son and the hierarchy as the father - the parable would need to read that the father ran off with the son into irresponsibility, leaving the older son holding the bag. Which just emphasizes the point that the father in the parable represents God, not some fallible human being....

I'm not saying I know what God would do here. I do think, though, that it doesn't work to extend the metaphor that way.

Daily Free Write

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Heavy mapping agrees with the beard

whole mapping draws onto the scroll




(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Novena of Grace - Day Seven

It was Day 7 of the Novena of Grace here at St. Aloysius Parish in Spokane (at Gonzaga University).

We are definitely on the downhill side of the mountain. At least for me. It is like antibiotics. They tell you to keep taking the entire set of them even if you start to feel better in the middle of the cycle, to ensure that you really do knock out the illness completely.

One recurring thought this week is how, just before I started the Novena, I had been thinking a lot about the Egyptian goddess Hathor and her alter (altar?) ego, Sekhmet. In fact, I was getting ready to do a posting called "Hathor and Sekhmet: The Dual Diagnosis." As the story goes, Ra (the Egyptian name for God) was frustrated with the bad behavior of men on Earth and so he came to Hathor, goddess of all good things like sunlight and happiness and cows, and asked her to do something about these incorrigibles. And do something she did. She turned into Sekhmet, and went to war with the men. She started killing them all and drinking their blood until even Ra was afraid of her (and Ra was on her side). To stop her, Ra planted a bunch of beer and colored it with red pomegranate juice so that Sekhmet would be fooled into thinking it was blood. Sekhmet drank the beer and it mellowed her out, turning her back into Hathor.

I've had Sekhmet moments before. Once I was working on a case where the opposing counsel was being a jerk and was trying to harm my client, so I nailed him on it. Suddenly he started returning my phone messages by calling back my co-counsel who was, and still is, one of the most terrifying lawyers in this region. When my co-counsel called me with the messages, I said hey, why is this guy returning my phone messages by calling you? My co-counsel said, "Because you intimidate him. Hell, I'm on your side, and you intimidate me." Funny. I had taken on the guy only after he had tried to mess with my client. But I do think a little of Sekhmet was at the forefront there.

So last week, I was thinking - should I be shelving my Sekhmet side? And what does that mean? Sekhmet is a little insane, but is Hathor too mellow? Or perhaps the post-Sekhmet Hathor is the way to go. Perhaps that Hathor can take on the wrongs of the world with discrimination and evenhandedness, while still making her point. Don't know. Keep in mind, Sekhmet becomes Hathor again only because she's drunk with red beer. Is that a good thing? Maybe dump them both. In fact, over the years I have identified more with Joan of Arc - a warrior of balance - than with either Sekhmet or Hathor. But Joan is far more like Sekhmet than Hathor. And I am looking to put down my armor as I shift my focus from lawyering to writing. So maybe I should be relaxing all warrior ways. But if I do, will I let anyone down? Will anyone be in danger if I let down my guard? This was my thought process a week ago.

So this Novena of Grace - where I've been back and forth this week about exactly how tough I feel I must be on the hierarchy of the Church, when I know that problems still exist and that children potentially remain in danger - it seems like no coincidence that this week dovetails with all my recent Hathor/Sekhmet ponderings.

Daily Free Write



bring to me

helpless, hopeless
and the horizon



















(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Novena of Grace - Day Six

Day Six was all about the oil.

Pulpit phrase of the day: "If our hearts are good, we can weather this storm."

My last time with the Novena of Grace, the blessing with Holy Oil - the Anointing of the Sick - came on Day Eight. This time, Day Six.

My last time, it was a hands-on blessing with all recipients in a circle, taking turns in the middle. That time, there was an elderly woman with crippling arthritis that stood next to me, looking just like my grandmother before she had died, so small yet so resolute, in such pain, always. May she get some relief, I had thought at the time as we all encircled this woman and placed our hands on her as the priest anointed her with oil and prayed for her healing.

This time, there were no such dramatics. Just a priest and me (the anointing blessing requires a priest, apparently - for that was the same each time). Yet still - so profound. He anointed my forehead with a murmuring of words, then the palms of each hand. We both said amen. As I left the Church, I rubbed my hands across my throat.

Which is the confession of the day. My physical imbalance that I am working to correct through this Novena of Grace is my thyroid. How I know? I keep losing hair. Lots of it. Still have lots more to lose. But when a handful came out last Friday, and then I heard that the Novena of Grace was starting up last Saturday, I knew that I needed to go.

So that's the confession. This whole Novena journal began because of vanity.

Now, in my defense, the hair loss likely is a symptom of a hormonal imbalance, likely with my thyroid (for which I already take medication), so it is fair and right that I should pay attention to the symptom and get the imbalance treated (and not just with the Novena but by a doctor too, which I am doing). But I don't know that I'd be so adamantly focused on creating balance with my thyroid if it weren't for the visual effects at stake here.

It could be I'm just losing all the gray. This happened to me before, where all my gray hair fell out. Back then - so many moons ago - I was in my 30s, very stressed out, and suddenly I was going gray. One thing led to another, I reduced the stress, and I lost most of the gray. Not too much hair fell out that time because I wasn't too terribly gray yet. This time? I've been losing it in handfuls.

And while vanity was the impetus, healing seems to be the result. My hair already has stopped falling out. How weird is that? All week long, I have lost almost no hair. Intellectually I know this cannot be due to the Novena of Grace, since hair follicles decide weeks ahead of time to release their strands of hair (and it just takes awhile for the cycle to manifest). Still. A little weird, don't you think? That I have had virtually no hair loss all week long during this Novena of Grace....

In the meantime, all this focus on my throat this week (in one of the relic blessings, the relic was even held on my throat instead of my forehead) seems to have had the additional effect of releasing a bunch of words I've had stored up about the Church. And so I've felt some balance spiritually too. Just the sharing of the words has created a healing.

God works in mysterious ways.

And so ends the second trilogy of days. One more trilogy remains.

Daily Free Write






shelter yourself from the storm, yet immerse yourself within the place that causes the evidence of helplessness
















(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Novena of Grace - Day Five

Day 5. In the middle. In the very middle. Four days of the Novena are in my past. Four days of the Novena are in my future. This day: the very middle. The eye of the storm.

Random thoughts about Day 5 of the Novena of Grace here in Spokane....

One of the days, I helped an older Jesuit with his walking crutch get through the mammoth church doors. He couldn't make his way. No one but me noticed that he needed help. My heart hurt, watching him try to cope on his own. In turn, nobody helped me, though I needed someone to hold open the second door. I had to instruct someone to help. She did. He thanked me. Another woman behind me, already outside, told me to be careful - that I had almost toppled over backwards down the outside steps as I was helping this man get through the doorway. I said it was chaos for everyone. I didn't want her to feel bad that she hadn't helped us out initially.

Other random thoughts....

A friend of mine told me a story of a little soul who was in heaven. He decided that he would like to be incarnated on Earth, and that the one thing he would like to understand was the concept of forgiveness. So he went to God and asked for the privilege to be incarnated with the goal of learning all there was to know about forgiveness. God granted his request. The little soul ran home, thrilled about his upcoming adventure. His little neighbor soul asked him what all the commotion was about. The little soul told his friend what God was letting him do. The friend thought about it for awhile and then said, "I'll tell you what I can do. I can ask to be incarnated as your father who beats you every day, so you can learn how to forgive me." The first little soul looked at his friend. "You would do that for me?" he said....

Other thoughts....

The sermon on Day Five spoke much about voices - about having a voice and speaking the truth. That sometimes people want to silence the truthteller, like when the townsfolk thought of killing Jeremiah because he kept saying unpleasant (but truthful) things, but there can be no silencing of the truth, no matter how unpleasant it sounds. It helped me immensely, to hear those words. I really do like this priest. Egads.

What he said at the end was powerful too: he had been talking about leadership and its potency, and how St. Xavier had written a letter saying that the duty of giving orders is a dangerous thing to give to those who are imperfect (or something like that)... and I thought yeah, yeah, the burden is great on all you ministers to be leaders of the flock... and then he spoke about leadership of this parish, and said that everyone is a part of it - that all must minister to each other. That this is not one leader, but many. These are big words, I think. They are not words heard often, regardless of forum. That the leader wants to share leadership like that.

Last random thought....

Towards the end of the service, I had a fleeting thought, that I sure do love the Catholic church. It teared me up. I'm so tired of crying this week.... This time I had tears because I was sad that I feel so compelled to be a broken record and rail against the workings of this Church when I love it too. And how can it be that this Church - that does not even belong to me - is a Church that I love? (with its history and its saints and its Holy Water...)

I do not love the Church's structure. Nor do I love a lot of the Church's teachings. I could never convert - they wouldn't have me. Seriously. They couldn't. I say "no" to too many of the teachings to be allowed to convert.

The root of my love is in the Church's ancient beginnings - in the stories of Hildegard de Bingen and Joan of Arc, of Michael and the other archangels. It is in the rituals that hold sacred power. It is in the people who have befriended me. It is in the priests who I have met individually, who have been true men of God. I have seen God in them. This has been my fate - to rail against Church structure, but then to meet its many good people and priests, one by one....

Daily Free Write

.
lost - tales of woe - greatest moments - listen closely



(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Novena of Grace - Day Four

Yesterday was the first day of the second trilogy of days of the Novena of Grace at St. Aloysius Parish here in Spokane and at Gonzaga University. I am in a pattern now of healing, or so I believe. It was physical healing I sought when I stepped into the church last Saturday, the first of the nine days. It is spiritual healing that confronts me as the week wears on.

I do love the smell of incense. I have forgotten about that this week until towards the end of the service each day, when they wave burning incense into the air and, like magic, I can smell its sweet scent as though it is burning next to me.

I am less verklempt now (to throw in a Yiddish word in the midst of a Catholic process) than I was on that first day about my role, and the priests' roles, and about my internal conflict of wanting to participate in this ritual while still standing firm against priest sexual abuse and those who might have allowed it. It has helped these past few days that the words of the priests leading the ritual have been thought-provoking and self-reflective. And it has helped because I believe that this is where I am supposed to be. At this Novena, this week. For whatever may come.

In one of the Novena services this week, one of the priests told a story of a governor who wanted to pardon the innocent at a prison, yet all the prisoners stated they were innocent. So he gathered all the inmates together and asked if there was anyone - anyone - in that room that was guilty of the crime that he was in prison for. Finally one man in the back of the room raised his hand. This was the man that the governor pardoned; he could not, the governor said, leave this guilty man in this prison to put in danger all the innocent men that were there! Funny.

The story triggered a memory for me, of the one bishop who participated in the cover-up of the sex abuse by priests who actually has come forward and apologized. I know of just the one. In his apology, he said he was "deeply sorry that the way we handled cases [in Orange County] allowed children to be victimized by permitting some priests to remain in ministry, for not disclosing their behavior to those who might be at risk, and for not monitoring their actions more closely." Yes, there was a reason for the apology, as old documents were getting ready to be released that showed his involvement in that lack of oversight and proper decisionmaking. But this was a real apology. A real admission of guilt and responsibility. It was not a tap dance, like all the other "apologies" I have seen. I called his office that day back in 2005, when I first saw the apology, and told his secretary to tell him that I said thank you. I was not anyone he would know, I told her, but tell him thank you just the same. I know a lot of people are still angry at this bishop. And I think he has not had clean hands since then. But it was the only time I saw something remotely resembling bold.

In today's Novena service, the talk was laden with words about peace and justice and humility. They were good words, strong words, right words, that recognized how far we have drifted - how far church leaders have drifted - from remembering how to stay humble. And then, at one point, there was a quote from Pope John Paul II, something he said back in the early 2000s: That if you want peace, you must work for justice. And that there is no justice without forgiveness. Apparently it is the phrase the Church uses now, in its reconciliation program.

But there needs to be truth, too.

People have asked me why not forgiveness and have used, as an example, that Pope John Paul II went to prison to meet with the man who shot at him and forgave him there. If the pope can forgive his perpetrator, why won't abused Catholics forgive their Church? I have been asked.

Well, let's look at it. First, the guy was in prison. So there already were consequences for his actions. The pope did not have that to worry about that. All that was before him was whether to forgive the man. Also, this guy was not the authority. The government was. Frankly, I am more forgiving of the pedophiles - who labor under a compulsion - than I will ever be of the hierarchy, who systematically put the interests of the Church ahead of children. In the pope's case, the authority - the government - had taken proper action by arresting and convicting the perpetrator and holding him jail where he could not harm others in the future. This is completely the opposite of what the Catholic Church's hierarchy did in this country. For decades. And still. I do not know of a single bishop in the United States - other than Cardinal Law from Boston - who was removed from his post in spite of the fact that we had decades of bad oversight from essentially all of them. And Cardinal Law from Boston was actually promoted. To Rome. He has a highfalutin title now. Without accountability, without a cleansing of the house and the system and the process - without even a "mea culpa" parting from the lips of the leaders in a real, substantial way - then there is no truth. We need truth.

So I have enjoyed the sermons. But they are not quite doing it for me, in terms of helping me come to a place of permanent peace.

Keep in mind, I'm a lawyer. I have represented victims of sexual abuse. It was my job to protect. And I have too much knowledge. I know that the system is not fixed. I believe, for example, that the system of protection in the Spokane Diocese is inadequate because of my own dealings with the layperson review board here these last couple of years. And I'm very aware that a more active lay review board in the Seattle Archdiocese was fired after making stringent efforts to make real change in the Church there to protect kids in the future. I remain quite concerned that the Church has yet to create a system that, as a practical matter, protects children first. So forgiveness could be a good thing. But there still needs to be consequences to actions. Without new, purer action, there can be no new consequence. It is how the conscience works.

Daily Free Write





.
Seek the essence
of belonging
through
the forgiveness
of light









(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

KNIFVES Event and Interplayers

Well, it is all set up. As mentioned here, I was organizing a fundraiser event for my movie group called KNIFVES to attend "The Belle of Amherst" starring Ellen Crawford at the Interplayers Theater at the corner of Howard and Second Avenue in Spokane. We are all set for this coming Saturday's matinee at 2 p.m. (March 14). Though I'm still trying to set up an after-event/presentation for our group. Anyone who wants to attend the play and then stay for the yet-to-be-determined after-event at the theater, be sure to contact me! We also will get a chance to talk with Ellen briefly after the show.

Novena of Grace - Day Three

It was snowing yesterday, Day 3 of the Novena of Grace at Gonzaga University's St. Aloysius Parish. The dabbing of holy water was lost amongst the dripping of snowflakes. It was funny, how wet we all were. No one let me catch their eye so we could laugh.

My knees are hurting now. But only when I kneel. It's when I notice.

Happiness and full of light. This is what I felt as the service began.

One of the read-aloud prayers was from a woman who asked St. Francis Xavier to heal her husband's anger at the church for the pedophile abuse crisis, so that he could return to the church of his childhood.

It impressed me, that the priests read that prayer. It made me sad, the way the prayer was written. I got confused, imagining why it made me sad, or what would have made it better. I gave up imagining and felt sad for that family instead. Just for them. It was then that a different feeling overwhelmed me. It was Grace, perhaps. Tears welled in my eyes. Down my cheeks. Unexpectedly. Like an angel had smiled into the center of my heart with a blessing and the enormity of the blessing overflowed and overwhelmed.

The rest of the service... didn't matter. Though I did get my individual blessing at the end, from one of the relic holders (relics from St. Francis Xavier). When I said what I was seeking - balance, both physically and spiritually - and that the two are not necessarily connected, the relic holder smiled and said she imagined that they were. But then, she did not know the details of why I sought spiritual balance here, in this Church, or what might be causing imbalance in the first place. (See Day 1 for some of the whys and what-fors of it all....)

And then I was fragile. For the rest of the day. All stemming from that moment of grace.

And so the Novena's first trilogy of days came to end.... Two more trilogies to go....

Daily Free Write

.
gratefulness
shall start the slow journey
through evil, the absence of good
and e
vil, the absence of heart
.


photo credit: NASA
(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Statute of Limitations Bill - Update

A few weeks ago, I wrote a series of posts about a bill proposed in the Washington state legislature to extend the statute of limitations on child sex abuse crimes until the child victim's 28th birthday. I started the posts as acknowledgment of former Spokane County prosecutor Don Brockett's hard work on this issue over the years, and to recognize his efforts as a "Spirit of Service" story. It culminated into me going to Olympia to testify on the bill. The bill passed through committee and was waiting for a Senate floor vote.

The good news: the bill has now been voted out of the Senate and sent over to the House. Now we need to work to get it through the law-making process over there. Don still has concerns that the bill covers only some of the sex abuse crimes against children. The details of his concerns are at his website, www.stopmolesters.org.

Here is a list of the members of the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee in the House (the committee now in charge of taking action). If you contact them to urge action on the bil, please consider also urging that they broaden the bill to include other sex abuse crimes (Don has a list of those crimes here):

Rep. Christopher Hurst: hurst.christopher@leg.wa.gov, Rep. Al O’Brien: obrien.al@leg.wa.gov, Rep. Kirk Pearson: pearson.kirk@leg.wa.gov, Rep. Brad Klippert: klippert.brad@leg.wa.gov, Rep. Sherry Appleton: appleton.sherry@leg.wa.gov, Rep. Roger Goodman: goodman.roger@leg.wa.gov, Rep. Steve Kirby: kirby.steve@leg.wa.gov, and Rep. Charles Ross ross.charles@leg.wa.gov.

Novena of Grace - Day Two

I went to the afternoon Novena yesterday. Beautiful. These services make me feel happy and full of light. This time, like last time, someone has befriended me. This time, like last time, it was quite by accident. That is something nice, too. To make that connection.

Some of the people's prayers are read out loud each day. One person's prayer yesterday was for strength to stop drinking. The very next prayer was from a parent who was worried about an alcoholic son. Hmm. Were those two people related to each other?

What is great, too, is the after-service event. That is when you can get an individual blessing from a St. Xavier relic. You tell the relic-holder what you are seeking, and the relic-holder (could be a priest, could be an assistant to the church) places the relic on your forehead and does a blessing related to what you are seeking. The first day, my request for a blessing was not very well organized. But then I honed my words, and yesterday simply said that I sought balance both physically and spiritually. It was a nice blessing. I guess it can matter to have clear in your own mind what it is that you are seeking.

Daily Free Write






grace and graceful journeys

beckon me away and through













Photo credit: Chris James- located here
(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Novena of Grace - Day One

I happened to see the announcement in the newspaper yesterday: St. Aloysius Church - Gonzaga University's cathedral - was having its 82nd Novena of Grace starting that exact day. It was time to go again.

Since I'm not Catholic, I don't quite understand what a Novena of Grace is. I know the basics: it is a nine-day ritual of coming to church each day and receiving a blessing with - in this church's case - a relic from St. Xavier. Then on the second-to-last day, there is a group hands-on blessing with holy oil. The nine-day event is intended for healing. Many come for physical healing. Others come for spiritual healing. But healing does seem to be the goal. Apparently Spokane's Novena is considered the largest in the world.

Last time I went - only time I went - was 2005. I was just out of minor surgery, and was very anemic from the ordeal. The doc had told me to expect to be anemic through the end of the year. When I went to see him a month later (must have been about April), he came in with the blood test results looking shocked. I was nearly back to normal, he said. This is - quite unusual, he said, almost mumbling to himself. "Oh - I know what happened," I said. "I went to the Novena of Grace over at Gonzaga about a month ago. We did a blessing with holy oil at the end. I asked for my anemia to be healed. It must be from that." He did not look reassured.

I'm surprised they let me in the church. I have, after all, represented victims of sexual abuse against the Spokane Diocese. I did, after all, sue Spokane's bishop for defamation of a housekeeper. (long story, not told here) Oh, and I did a countervigil to the bishop's prayer vigil for the victims one very-cold March day in 2004. I was on the cement steps of the cathedral downtown all morning long, with a small lit candle, waiting for other countervigilants to arrive at noon. About an hour into my morning, someone from the church came and told me to blow out the candle. That it was a fire hazard. On cement steps. With nothing flammable nearby. Man. Later, I did a letter to the editor that said victims don't want the bishop praying for them - last time he prayed for them, he decided to file a motion to dismiss all their lawsuits on statute of limitations grounds. (This is true - he said he had the lawyers file the motion after praying about it. I'm wondering who gave him the thumbs-up on it during the prayer process - likely not God, since the motion was not a good one, only caused temporary delay, caused incredible emotional pain to sexual abuse victims, and ultimately was unsuccessful). I said in the letter that they preferred that he pray to regain his memory instead (since he had testified in deposition that he could not remember any of the myriad of reports he received about one abusive priest in particular).

After all that, one would think that someone would spot me at the Novena and politely come up and suggest that I leave the building. Go syphon off the energy of someone else's church, one imagines that someone at the church might say to me. Especially since I'm not Catholic. Though my grandfather was. He entered the church devoutly. He left the church as an altar boy, refusing to go back. Guess what we think happened to him when he was an altar boy.

And one also may wonder why I even go in the first place. Especially this time, as it turns out that one of the priests conducting the Novena this time is high up in the Jesuit administration, is named in the new lawsuit against an abusive priest left to roam the recesses of Alaska, and fits the profile of being part of the hierarchy that maintained silence. Church first, children somewhere after that. The other priest is this guy's brother. Actual brother. Who also served in Alaska. The chances of one - much less both - of these men having clean hands when it comes to protecting kids during critical times these past couple of decades is pretty small....

I go because I love the Novena. I go because I love the Christian mystics. I go, this time, perhaps to come to some place of peace about imperfect men in a perfectly ordered spiritual world (even though we do not ourselves see or understand how each step holds that perfection). Perhaps I go, this time, to learn even more about having discernment while letting go of judgment. These men believe in hell. So if they hold responsibility - well, that that is where they will go when they die, for it is the structure that they believe. Perhaps they are in hell now. One can only hope, for the sake of their souls. For if they are not in hell-on-earth, and yet they were responsible parties, well then, they are without conscience. And that will just turn ugly in the long run.... for them, actually. In death, if not sooner. Or so I imagine it to be true. It's like the real definition of karma - it is not punishment for bad deeds. It is, instead, the universe's way of balancing out imbalanced energy. If you have acted outside of your integrity, then there is an imbalance. And the universe seeks to create balance. Hence, karma. You're best off if karma is instant. Otherwise, it will just build up over time, decades, lives.....

A part of me wonders if maybe I shouldn't come to the Novena at all, now that I know that part of the hierarchy is leading it. But I know that is false. I actually have a small physical ailment, so it is perfect for me to go to the Novena this year. Besides - it is almost a calling that I go.

Perhaps it is to heal the building. My exorcist play is about that. And my own presence has been about that at times, without me even knowing it. At my office, for instance. It is in the old Catholic girls school. Apparently a priest abused one of the girls in the building, I found out recently. Maybe even in my old office on the second floor (I'm on the first floor now). What are the odds of that happening? Decades after priest sexual abuse, a lawyer happens to lease an office in the building where abuse occurred - maybe even the very room where abuse occurred - and ultimately represents victims of sexual abuse against the Church. Karma, in a good way. Poor building. Poor room. At least some justice prevailed there. Even if it came decades later.

And I go to the Novena because there is something greater about it than these two priests. They asked at yesterday's service how many people had been to this Novena between 60 and 70 times. There were people who raised their hands. Amazing. So this Novena - it is not about the relationship between the priests and me. It is instead about the relationship between God and me. Between the mystics and me. Between St. Xavier and me, and his relics.

I guess. I don't know. I do know that I seek the healing offered in the physical. And I do believe that healing can take place on a multitude of levels. We will see how the week pans out. It is, after all, the Novena of Grace.

Daily Free Write


Wrong way? Every way!
every way, and every moment


(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Daily Free Write

.
Change the direction of your soul
so it seeks the way of the flow





(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)

Friday, March 6, 2009

"Yes We CANS" Food Drive

I am worried about the economy, and whether people will be safe. I know things are so much better in our country than in other countries. Still, I wonder how people in this country will be able to pay their debts, make ends meet, stay in their homes.... There is stagnation in the air. The Dow is suffering (though it did end up today instead of down).

But what if each one of us did something? Took a step. Made a move. Any move. Anything.

In that spirit, I am taking the step of telling the story of a bunch of CAN-do Texans who decide to do a "Yes We CANS" food drive way back on January 19 - Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There had been a national Call to Service. I actually wrote up an item about it around that time.

Also around that time, I had gotten an email from a Texans-for-Obama group which had decided to use the week surrounding that National Day of Service to collect canned goods. (I was on their email list because I had volunteered in El Paso, Texas during the primaries in March, where I canvassed and volunteered on the Obama Voter Protection Team, with the latter meaing that I observed the voting at the polling location during the day and then a caucus location that night).

The email told me that the Texans-for-Obama had collected 766 pounds of canned food during that one week - a remarkable amount. In their words:
We put our Obama grassroots skills to work and block-walked our neighborhoods for canned food. We also walked in the MLK parade and collected donations at the MLK Festival at Huston-Tillotson University. In total, Austin City Council Members Mike Martinez and Lee Leffingwell sponsored over 1,000 grocery bags for us to fill up with food and deliver to the Capital Area Food Bank. In one week, we've already collected over 766 pounds of food!

So then they thought they'd try for even more:
Given this initial success of the "Yes We CANS Food Drive", we're going to keep the momentum going. Instead of stopping at 766 pounds, we'd like to challenge our fellow Texans to keep collecting food donations through the end of February. Our new goal is to reach one ton of food. Thanks for answer the call to service. 2,000 pounds. We can do this!
The final number has arrived.

The weight of all canned food collected is - drum roll - 3,000 pounds.

That is a lot of food.

All the food went to the Capital Area Food Bank (which will continue to need a hand, for anyone who wants to donate in the future). And while all I did was receive their emails (and keep track of their actions, and post this, and soon circulate this posting to my El Paso email list...) they thanked me anyway:
Thank you for acting upon President Obama's challenge to get involved in community service. In these these difficult times, food donations are even more important as we try to meet the growing hunger challenge. While Obama's bold economic stimulus plan will make a huge difference in turning things around, it's our responsibility to take action on the local level. So if you still have extra food in your cabinet, please continue to support this food drive and help our neighbors in need.
And what did these Texans plan to do next? Plant trees, through a local tree planting organization. (Their February/March weather is nicer than here in Spokane, I presume.)

When I read their news, I remember that things can happen. Energy can move. This country can get itself back up and standing, financially and otherwise.

So this is a challenge I put forth to all of us. Let's follow the lead of these grand-hearted Texans and take our own steps. A food bank in Spokane is Second Harvest Food Bank at 1234 East Front Avenue, 509-534-6678. A food bank in Coeur d'Alene is Community Action Partnership Food Bank at 4929 Industrial Avenue, 208-664-8757 (and here's an article on their current desperate need). Or do something else today that helps out someone else, whether it costs money or not. A small step by each one of us will create ripples of progress across the land.

Daily Free Write




Shall we dance with the moon and the stars?











Or with the sun, and its power of possibilities?






Even beyond the power, though, exists the hope forever banned from reality until it is the reality, in and of itself



(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
moon/stars photo credit: NASA

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Daily Free Write

.
bring through to its beginning the essence of the emotion, for through its roots will you discover the core and the beginning of the feeling
.


photo credit: Chris James - photo, titled "Anguish," is here
(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category on the right)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Synchronicities, and a Warning

NOTE: there is a warning at the end of this post. But don't look now - it would ruin the surprise (er, warning) not to read it in context.... Wait until you reach the end.

First, synchronicity: it has been the word of my day these past 24 hours. The first one: as this posting discusses, I ran into Jimmy Orr on the Internet - someone I knew many, many moons ago... (turns out, and a couple of emails later, this Jimmy Orr is the same Jimmy Orr that I knew way back when). I pondered in that posting what it might mean, that Jimmy and I went storm chasing one day in 1985 and that both of us, now, are in the middle of the firestorm that is this country's politics. (Jimmy is a lot more in the middle of it than I am, though I definitely stay informed and feel involved.)

Then last night, I saw this news item, about a pink dolphin (with more pictures here). Incredible image. So here is what is weird: several years ago, I had a dream that I was standing on a cliff - like on the coast of Ireland - and down below were all these whales. One of the whales was my whale. That whale was pink. Now, I don't really talk about this dream. After all, I'm no fool - nor am I Georgia O'Keefe - I know when an image likely has sexual connotations to it.... But the dream was so real that it has never faded from my mind. Besides, whales - in Native American lore - represent our soul's DNA, spanning eternity. That's a pretty powerful symbol. I shelved the dream but did not discard it.

To see the image of this pink dolphin yesterday - to see that one could actually exist in such a vivid pink, just like my dream - it stunned me. Especially after having just that day speculated about how one event from years ago can impact events today. And then, in my research about the dolphin (an albino by all accounts), I saw where it was first seen last summer on June 24. This is the anniversary date of the bus crash of the 1946 baseball guys, who are the subject of my novel.

And if a pink water mammal - which can exist, I find out now - is an albino, does that mean that a pink whale is just a girl's Great White Whale? (a book I never have read....) Certainly my not-yet-realized project, in relation to the 1946 guys, is to get their story out there more - to get their movie made.... Just over this past weekend, I wrote the treatment for the movie of the story of these baseball guys, in particular to get something specific (untold here) moving this week if possible down in LA... and now this....

The final synchronicity - they do happen in threes, you know - was this a.m.'s decision to post a photo of the statue "The Awakening," of a giant man emerging from the ground. The statue was moved recently, but I remember it out on Washington DC's Hains Point, which is a "peninsula of land jutting out into the confluence of the Potomac River and the Washington Channel..." Back when I lived in DC, I loved to take people to Hains Point and see the statue. He is Neptune to me.

It was not until today though, that I realized that I all but created "The Awakening" in mask form back in college - sans the beard - years before I had ever seen the statue. I had taken a course on making masks, and I had a three-quarter mask that I had made out of paper mache that I called "fear" that looked just like the face of the man in "The Awakening." And I made an arm to go with it. (And then I dressed all in white with the mask and the arm and danced - with my mask-making class - around a fire in the woods, and had a feast afterwards of hummus and berries and fried chicken. Hey, it was UC Santa Cruz - things are a little less traditional there...)

So how weird is this, that I made the mask in 1983, then saw the Awakening statue in 1988 or so, but never made the connection between the two until this morning, in 2009, after two other powerful synchronicities that have made me pause and think?

Oh, and wow. It just dawned on me. EVERY SINGLE IMAGE HERE INVOLVES WATER.

Okay. So this is what I am going to presume about these synchronicities. I am going to presume that something very big is about to happen, and very personally to me. And that it will be a good thing. And that it is time for this to happen. All my life, it has been gelling, whatever it is. And now, it is time to manifest. This is especially true if you look at the Free Write (thought of the day) that I used with the Awakening statute image: "The mysteries unfold each step of the way. The challenge is in the awakening."

So, that's the synchronicity. Here's the warning. Ready?

Several years ago, I was walking past a fountain under construction - more water - with a man who I had been dating, who was in the middle of breaking my heart. (In his defense, I think his heart was hurting a little too.) As we walked by the fountain, we saw large vertical slabs of concrete getting ready to go in to the middle of the fountain. He said it looked like Stonehenge. I said I'd been to Stonehenge as a kid and that I had slept next to it overnight, back before they had fences around it to keep people away. He stopped, mid-stride, looked very seriously at me, and said that this was important information to share right up front, especially to share with anyone who was thinking about dating me. That I needed to warn people right up front. I said, Huh? He just looked at me like I knew what he meant. Which I don't, really - other than, what, I should let people know that I may have picked up a spark of mystery, intrigue, magic and faerie dust when I slept next to Stonehenge 27 years ago? Maybe whatever I picked up is contagious. Infectious. An infectious disease! Maybe that's what he meant. If I did pick up anything. I don't even know if I did....

Nonetheless, that's the warning. To all and sundry who meet and befriend me: back in the summer of 1982, when I was 21 years old, I camped out one night in a tent next to Stonehenge. I don't remember if I had any dreams.