Let it Snow

December 20, 2009 § Leave a comment

I found this image on karenswhimsy.com. She said it’s an illustration from an old children’s book, in the public domain, but doesn’t name the artist or book.

I woke up wanting to write about Joe Lieberman (let’s boycott Connecticut until they get rid of him), Christmas—should I send an e-card to all those I love, but haven’t contacted lately just because—when I decided to check out the paper, and got annoyed with Frank Rich’s choice of Tiger Woods to epitomize the falsity of the past year and decade.

My views of monogamy are well known to those who read this blog. Still, I wouldn’t want to be married to Tiger. Yet there’s an enormous difference between what he did and what the financiers and Bush administration did, and I refuse any facile connection.

Maybe it’s because my parents gave me a book of Greek myths when I was seven, a book whose size and pictures and even the look of the words I still remember. The stories of gods and mortals sunk deep into my imagination. There were also the Blue, Green, Red and Yellow Fairy Books and J.M. Barrie and C.S. Lewis to populate my inner world. I grew up rich with stories and characters, and the penchant for celebrity fetishizing never took hold. (Exception: The Beatles. But I was 9.)

Most everyone agrees that the crux of our current problems is people believing only what they want to believe, refusing all signs of danger if it means giving up pleasure, profit or comfort. The corollary to this is that, human-natural as this tendency is, it’s gotten worse.

Yes, no, maybe. We shouldn’t forget that the growth of systems of industry and finance follow their own evolutionary laws; that numbers matter; that much or our world is fueled by machines that can “think” much faster than we can. Our computers aren’t conscious or malevolent (yet), but they make individuals and more importantly, groups and segments of the population, able to do things bigger and faster than ever before. Think acceleration, exponential functions and speeding cars hitting patches of black ice.

This doesn’t explain Dick Cheney, but then nothing does.

Which brings me back to Christmas and the sound of snowplows outside. I want to walk in the new snow. I miss having a house I could throw a party in—miss the old days in Newcastle, N.H. when my mother would serve champagne with breakfast on Christmas morning while we opened the red velvet stockings decorated with handmade felt toys and the letters of our names, beautiful stockings with bells on the toes that she’d sewn for us years earlier. After the stockings and the blizzard of presents, we’d have eggnog made with whipped cream (more like zabaglione than anything else) and we’d all drink too much and spend the afternoon in bed.  I was young and in love and bed was a very sweet place to be.

I do regret that my mother so often was left to cook the dinner by herself. But some years she had a lover too. She was the age I am now and she had a house big enough to throw a wedding in, with the Atlantic ocean just outside, and three not-too-bad kids.

Nobody had a computer and Joe Lieberman hadn’t been elected yet.


with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions 

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

--W.S. Merwin

Stimulate Me

March 20, 2009 § Leave a comment

cash2I wasn’t going to write about the AIG mess because everybody has, and I imagine readers are sick of it. But I can’t write about my personal life because it makes me weep and want to bite chunks out of my arms and legs, and my mind’s closed like a clam to to all to wonderful curious things of the world. So, politics. I keep thinking of something Philip said: that Obama was correct in focusing on the bank bailout, that Geithner would survive, and all this hysteria was inevitable and had to be both given room and ignored. “What nobody understands about politics,” he said, “is that you have to allow the populist rage. But you don’t have to react to it.”

Obama is reacting to the rage, but as minimally as he can get away with. He’s doing his best to keep the love (Jay Leno loves him). Congress gets to play the Big Stupid, as it does so well. I can’t imagine how the 90% tax plan will survive legal challenge, but maybe nobody will challenge it. Maybe the death threats will convince enough executives to give back their bonuses. Too bad Rahm can’t deliver the threats himself.

Meanwhile, AIG is suing the IRS for taxes it paid and now says it doesn’t owe. It’s one of those fights that normally would be way under the radar, but nothing AIG and its companion losers do can be under the radar now. Maybe they don’t need million dollar executives. Maybe they need a good PR guy. I know one who’d work for 250k. Although, now that I think about it, he probably wouldn’t take a job at AIG.  It’s kind of like working for the Treasury. You have to be really smart and accomplished to be considered, but if you are those things, why walk into the shit?

I’m disappointed in Geithner but I haven’t given up all hope. I still trust that Obama knows a little more than I do. In any case, you can’t expect the capitalist system to transform—which is happening—without a lot of battle and mess. The astrologers say: the last time Pluto was in the place in the sky was during the American Revolution. I don’t think we have the spine for a revolution but maybe this time we can manage change without bloodshed. (In the U.S. I mean. Other countries have it rougher.)

For the record I’m a rationalist who likes to read books about how we deceive ourselves by not understanding the mechanics of chance and coincidence, and so imagine patterns and forces when none exist, and books about the evolutionary basis of religion—at the same time, I love to read Michael Lutin. *

As Scott Fitzgerald said, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” That works for me. He went on to say, “One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise.” So, not quite applicable to my point—I’ll have to find another quote to bolster my split-brain problem—but very much to the current situation.

*Vanity Fair astrologer, website wheresthemoon.com

Obama’s a Leo. Where he is this week, according to Lutin:
“In order to be the creative genius you’d like to be remembered as, you have to smash a few rules once in a while and take a few risks that could put in jeopardy everything you have been trying to build and preserve for ages. On the other hand, when you hear the drums beating and the call of the wild night birds, can you really turn up the TV and pretend you don’t have those urges and yearnings?”

I thought it was me hearing the wild night birds. I guess I was just dreaming.

Btw—all those states rejecting stimulus money: I’ll take it. I’ll spread it around. I know lots of good hardworking, people who need a jolt, a little spring of excitement as the bank account zooms.

Shovel Ready

February 4, 2009 § 1 Comment

goldenshovel1I’m getting seriously tired of these Republicans. From that wimp Gingrey who apologized on the air to Rush Limbaugh because, for one moment, he acted like he was actually in Washington to do his job, to McCain thinking he didn’t lose yet—I want to say one thing: America, love it or leave it! You can be in Iceland in six hours!

What does Obama have up his sleeve?  Is he letting the Repubs dig their own grave? (Now there’s a shovel-ready project if there ever was one.) By being so nice…a little stern with the Wall street guys but giving the Senators cookies…letting them think they can work him over, let them bring on their bully boys, their would-be Cheneys…then watch as the I’m-mad-as-hell-and-I-just-can’t-take-it-anymore citizens run amok and dispatch the lot of them with everything we’ve learned from watching MSNBC’s Lockdown?
Actually, I don’t watch Lockdown, but I have caught a glimpse or two.

Not much happening here. Lovely lunch with my friend Maddy, and before that a brisk walk in the pretty cold sparkly winter day, a stop at the French bakery (where I bought cake because it was Maddy’s birthday) and the conversation went like this:

Me –I don’t know what I want yet.

Baker  –That’s okay, it’s good to just get out of the cold.

Me    –It’s not that bad out now. It’s sunny.

Baker  –It’s dark when I get to work; it’s dark when I go home.

Me    –Well, at least it smells good in here.

Baker –I can’t smell anything anymore unless it’s nasty or it’s women’s perfume.

Me –Um, which of these two [cakes] is better?

Baker – I don’t know; I don’t like chocolate…

For those of you who get hot thinking of resurrecting extinct animals, here’s one for you. George Mitchell could take it with him as a negotiating aid. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/04/titanoboa-cerrejonensis-2_n_163943.html

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