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Slogging Through the Archives

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A month ago, I wondered where all the bloggers went when they left the service that dare not speak its name. The new blogs lay untouched for long periods of time. It made me think that perhaps having to pick up and move elsewhere had soured the writers on the whole idea of blogging. Now I realize where they went, for I am mired in that same sucking mudhole.

I’m up to my neck in the old entries. Funny how swimming around in all the forgotten words and ideas has robbed me of all inspiration to write anything new (temporarily, I hope…) . It’s been such a monumental task to pull all those words out of cyberspace, and cache them in a form that is under my control. I’m only saving them as Word documents at the moment. At some future time, I’ll print them out and buckle them into my big binder. Why does that seem safer to me than storing them on my hard drive or a CD? Right now, I am under the gun just to inject them into my computer…I have four days to get this done. Somehow, I think it’s not gonna happen…

Interesting, though, this trip down Virtual Memory Lane. How surprising was the unexpected development of a “journal community!” It sprang up like lightning, sparked across the virtual horizon like a giant meteor, and then, as quickly, began to diminish and decay. There was a steady exodus going on even before the final blow-out. Perhaps anything that catches fire so quickly and blazes so brightly is doomed to a brief life…it just burned itself out.

And each of us expatriates has stood at the fork in the road and pondered which path to take. New community? Virtual diary? The seed of something different, something more? I thought I had made my decision… But my visit to the past has pointed out one troubling fact about the j-land community as it was in its heyday. I enjoyed it. And I miss it. What to do?

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Another Christmas Image

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Do I have too many Christmas trees? Jury’s out on that. But this is the living room tree…the tree of memories. Twenty-nine years of married life, and then some…

Christmas Present

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From my house to yours—

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Merry Christmas

winter solstice

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hand raised in shield and salute
I’ve watched my retreating love
disappear southward
his warmth a mockery
his smile weak and distant
the cold of his absence
claims my world

each day sees a larger plot
of my heart in shadow and frost
as he grows smaller
and now the rain
has washed away
the consoling memory
of his wink and grin

someone tells me
he has turned
reconsidered his leaving…
tomorrow and tomorrow
will he be nearer?
will his closeness thaw my heart?
when will I know?

Christ-mas?

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Yes, I understand that the holiday is called Christmas. The first twelve years of my life were spent immersed in the “Christ” part. Midnight mass. Advent wreaths. “Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel. (In Latin. In chant.) Fasting three hours before Communion on Christmas morning, which meant no marshmallow Santas until after church. But also something greater. So large as to be beyond mortal reach.

Later, it was the born-again, “Jesus is the reason for the season” chant. Our brother, god, and savior taking on flesh to become like us. In order to save us from…ourselves. And, perhaps, each other.

So I have been there. And I have done that. And when it comes to the true meaning of Christmas, these days, my soul echoes a resounding…silence.

The rich, centuries-old traditions of this season must have a universal significance; of this I am convinced. But the earsplitting cacophony of forsaken, rapacious humankind drowns out the still, small voices that speak of the essence of the earthly experience, and its relationship to things of a higher plain. The spiritual has become incredibly distant. The pseudo-spiritual covers all like a thick layer of dark molasses. So I, like an ever-increasing number of erstwhile seekers, don’t even go there.

Christmas, now, means dusting off old memories, oohing and aaahing at the sparkle and glitter, questing after the taste, sound, or feeling that will make it all make sense. And, on December 26th, discovering that, once again, the nexus has remained inches beyond reach. Or miles. The old trails don’t quite go where the heart needs to go. And the new paths lead nowhere.

And so…here is a cat with antlers. He’s cute. He is mostly the meaning of Christmas for me these days. That is sad. Isn’t it?

Changing Faces

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I think I’ll change my face for the next few weeks…

Change of Heart

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When I began this blog, I swore it wasn’t going to be an extension of my old one…that it was going to be something new and distinct.

For the past few days, I have been immersed in the “Terms…” archives, copying off the old posts in preparation for closing up the place. I’ve come upon gems and turds… Some that make me sigh, “Damn, I can write!” And some that underscore the wisdom of not transferring all the old stuff over here.

This one is a gem. It was written way back in the days when I had, like, two very occasional readers. I’m going to break my own rule and post it here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
11:40:00 PM PST

Old Friends

I was looking over my ancient journals, trying to find a poem I wanted to share here. Instead, I found this. It is the draft of the goodbye letter I wrote to my one girlfriend back in the midwest when my husband and I left for Oregon nineteen years ago. Terry and I had been friends since first grade. I was 29 years old when we moved away…

I’m afraid I have to fashion my own goodbye, or feel I was being untrue to myself. Each time a member of my family tore away from me to journey out West, there was no proper goodbye—only a sort of “We’ll be seeing you” or “We’ll keep in touch.” Never a release of the sadness of parting. Never an acknowledgment that a time of closeness was ending and a time of distances beginning.

I have learned through the absences of my sisters that distances do change relationships. Much as we hope against just that when we embark on our separate journeys, and much as we swear to each other that it WILL NOT happen, still it must.

Sometimes I have yearned so achingly for what once was that I thought I would drown in uncried tears. Perhaps that is more than a small part of what causes me to make my own journey now. And yet, I leave someone behind who would tip the scales toward staying, if that were the only reason for going.

We are given family from birth, with no option to say we want them or we don’t. We grow to love them because we know nothing else. But we choose our friends. Long ago, and it is long ago, you and I chose each other. Through the years, it has often looked as if one of us had outgrown the other, or as if some storm would finally destroy us. Yet, somehow, we never seem to have really had the choice of reversing our decision to love one another as sisters. Love is often stronger than whatever life can deal to it.

Please, never forget that our friendship has always been something absolutely special to me…at times it has been my lifeline to the rest of the human race when I would have thought that humanity had abandoned me.

Our friendship will not end here. It will simply change here, in ways we can’t understand or foresee
because we are still young. Know that I love you and always will, for long ago, when we chose each other as friends, I believe we chose for life.


Wednesday, November 19, 2003
11:55:00 PM PST

Commentary on “Old Friends”

My old friend came to Oregon for a visit in October of 1997, and I haven’t seen or heard from her since.

The remarkable thing about that letter is, I believe I actually gave it to her. I was so much more willing to be generous with myself back then. I wanted to tell other people how much they meant to me. I was determined not to be afraid to expose my deepest feelings for the people I loved the most.

You know, I can’t do that anymore. I think that was the thing that struck me about this letter…the reason I had to put it in this journal. To show how life changes you. How the sheer weight of the years, and the tears, just flatten you. When you’re young and innocent, you can throw your emotions around like that. After you’ve had them thrown back at you a hundred million times, you start to keep things to yourself. You get older, you get tired, you don’t want to take those chances anymore. The chance that the gift of your love…will not be looked upon as such a great gift after all.

Ah, what a downer of a journal entry! But it was an upper, too. It was good to remember that once I had a friend I loved so much. And that I let her know.

For The Children of Iraq

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Years ago, Judy Collins wrote a song for the children of the beleaguered city of Sarajevo. On a television special she did a few years back, she told the story of the song, and how she had planned to include it on every album she recorded until the children of Sarajevo lived in peace once again. The tune, “Song for Sarajevo,” is on her Christmas CD, “Come, Rejoice,” recorded in 1994. So, I run into it once again every year when I pull out my long parade of holiday CD’s. It is a haunting song; I cannot hear it or sing it without my eyes filling with tears. It speaks of the most tragic victims of our human penchant for blowing each other to smithereens when we disagree.

This year, I cannot help but think the name could be changed to “Song for Baghdad…”

Blood in all the streets
Running like a flood
There’s nowhere to hide, nowhere I can go
I reach out my hand
touching death itself
Just another holy day in Sarajevo

I can hear my heart
pounding like a clock
Hiding from the planes and from the bombing
Fire from the sky
burning down my life
There is no more love, no more longing

But when I close my eyes
I dream of peace
I dream of flowers on the hill
I dream I see my mother smiling
When I close my eyes I dream of peace

Once I had a home
Once my life was good
Once my mother sang to me and held me
Then the fire came
falling from the sky
There is no one left who can protect me

War’s a wicked bird that never comes to rest
Feeding on the dreams of all the children
War’s an evil bird flying in the dark
Every holy promise has been broken

But when I close my eyes
I dream of peace
I dream of flowers on the hill
I dream I see my mother smiling
When I close my eyes I dream of peace

Can’t you stop the war
Bring it to a close
You are tall and strong and I am just a child.
Can’t we live in peace
Stop the flowing blood
Make a blessed world where I can be a child…

When you close your eyes
Do you dream of peace?
Do you dream of flowers on the hill?
Do you dream you see your mother smiling?
When you close your eyes do you dream of peace?

Song for Sarajevo (Revised 9/97)Words by Judy CollinsMusic by Judy Collins
Universal Music Corp. (ASCAP)/ The Wildflowers Company (ASCAP)
(Administered by Universal Music Corp.)

Photo by embedded freelance writer Michael Yon

A Dose of Reality

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A very wise Republican once said, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannt fool all the people all the time.” The American people may have been a little slow on the uptake after 9/11, but in recent months, they have begun to prove why one of America’s greatest statesmen was moved to utter those words.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks, here on our own shores where enemies have rarely dared to set foot since we became a sovereign nation, scared the hell out of people. By some cosmic accident, the Bush administration occupied the seat of power at the time of the attacks, so the people looked to them for answers and protection. The Republicans put all their corporate boardroom leadership skills into play. They smelled fear and exploited it to the hilt. If the word “terrorist” could strike the people dumb and pliant, they would invoke it freely and often to get everything they wanted.

Fast forward four years. To a war effort that has the US armed forces with one foot in a bucket of quick setting concrete and the other on a banana peel. To a disaster relief system that, when called upon to perform, lived up to the “disaster” half of the moniker, but the “relief” part, not so much. To a government that has been the nation’s hard-on for five years, and is suddenly in desperate need of a healthy dose of Viagra.

So, they go to Dr. Frist for the scrip. Frist whips out his prescription pad, and pens the Rx. “Bird flu.” That “fear” card worked magically for us in the past. We’ll pull ourselves out of the fire by making ourselves strong and in control in the face of this imaginary impending catastrophe. Since true disaster has proven light years beyond our leadership skills…

Though the once finely-tuned Bush media machine was enlisted once again to spread fear-producing half-truths in public places, the people, by and large, are proving stubbornly immune. Unfortunately for the GOP, images of real dead soldiers, real anarchy in Iraq, real drowned nursing home residents in New Orleans, have clouded, or maybe clarified, the people’s view of the Republican leadership. The American people are showing all the signs of coming down with a full-blown case of reality. They may have been slowed and stunned by 9/11, but they are starting to get it. And soon the Republican leadership is really going to get it.

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