vendredi, avril 13, 2012

Stalking you

He used to find me on a particular website -- and would implore me to meet him for a tryst,  place to be determined.

Trust me, I didn't know this man from Adam.

But he thought that he knew me.

Even after having blocked him, I still felt violated.

Another guy would have software that told him when I signed on -- and immediately his icon would pop up, demanding my attention.

And then there is someone's girlfriend -- unable to find me on Facebook, she seems to have resorted to other means to make sure that I'm not in communication with an old friend.

She's not the first.

View my twisted grin.

For the purposes of comparison and naked curiosity, I've checked out the girlfriend's Facebook feed a few times -- but she didn't keep me guessing, so I moved on.


Many of us do it. Some of us have personal issues that need to be addressed in real time, with real people.

Most of us are just fascinated by other people's revelations.  We look at feeds or profiles the way, in the old days, folks used to read the gossip columns in newspapers (and some of us are old enough to REMEMBER the old days).

I'm not sure how healthy cyber-stalking is, however. Sometimes it keeps us stuck on old loves, or mired in new fantasies.

Sometimes it creates more anxiety.  But perhaps the anxiety was there already. I can imagine lovers, who say they trust one another, stoking the fires of jealousy, when there is nothing of which to be afraid.

Often, it can reawaken grief.

I'm not sure all of this access does us that much good as evolving human beings.

At best, the ability to check up on one another is a tool.

At worst, it is torture.

I never was much for torture.

How about you, darling?

jeudi, avril 12, 2012

Pacifists in the "Mommy Wars"

On Wednesday commentator and inside-the-Beltway, who-gives-a-hoot-what-she-thinks Hillary Rosen dissed Ann Romney, wife of the Republican heir presumptive, Mitt Romney.

Ann Romney, says Rosen on CNN, "never worked a day in her life."

First of all, that's an unbelievably stupid thing to say.   Raising five kids, as Ann Romney (a brave women who also fights MS and has survived breast cancer) pointed out, is a job -- and can be a full-time job.

It wasn't long before the blogosphere lit up with outrage -- both Obama's public relations team and team Romney didn't stop fanning the flames.

Even though, of course, Ann Romney isn't running for anything.  Even though the Republicans had gotten enmeshed in a battle over contraceptives that alienated many women who thought it had been fought and won, oh, forty years ago.

Now we have "Rosengate."

And guess who is fomenting the outrage behind this and trying to turn it into a catfight?

Mostly men.

Mostly highly paid, Caucasian men --- political operatives and the men for whom they prostitute themselves.

(Can you tell I'm not as impressed with D.C. culture as a loyal subject ought to be?)

One of the most discouraging aspects of this whole manufactured controversy is that most of us women (at least the ones I know) could care less what Hillary Rosen has to say -- or whether Ann Romney responds.

We're past the outrage. We happen to have friends who work inside AND outside the home. We know that people do thinks for reasons that are complicated -- and often not the things that they really want to do.

We also happen to know that, as much as we'd like policies that support women and men who stay home to take care of their children (and fat chance getting those from this Republican house), men are, increasingly, in  crisis.

Look at the numbers of guys who can't find jobs -- at the way the balance tips towards women in colleges.

How about the decline of jobs and economic sectors that traditionally appealed to men?

The dilemmas we face and the choices we make aren't ripped from the latest cynical political ploybook.

How about you stop talking to yourselves, Washington denizens -- and start talking to the rest of us?

Or you can keep on ripping each other to shreds.

Just look behind you, and notice -- the rest of us stopped fighting, long ago.

We're too busy talking about what really matters.

mercredi, avril 11, 2012

I'd rather be alone...

Than walk blindly between tables at a flea market

Fighting impulse

Raise booted foot and smash, smash, smash

Games and cozies and discarded china crashing to the beaten earth

Grip your back tightly as you weave through the cars and pray

That your need to prove your manhood

Cancels not my desire to draw constant breath

To accept chilly silence as the price of not being alone

Too large a price

Embrace solitude instead of

Stalking imagined competition in constant fear

The embers that glow relentlessly among the endearments

A shoddy glue designed only for a sell-by date

Or barter kisses for your friendly, breezy farewells.

Seeker of reality among the ruins of past love

Instead of a reality ruined

Asking if perhaps

Sane standards

Find echo in sound of another voice

Not yet.

mardi, avril 10, 2012

My Holocaust relatives

As I try to put the house together after our renovation, I've been going through boxes.

Many of them are from my parent's house. For years, they sat in a trailer outside, waiting for us to decide: buy or renovate?

I love geneaology, although I have to say that trying to figure out who is a second or third cousin, and who is twice removed, almost inevitably prompts head-scratching.

When that occurs, I turn to my smarter relatives -- second cousins twice-removed.

Opening one box, I pulled out an old photo album.  I recalled having seen this before, but I didn't remember what was in it.

I wasn't ready for the first photos I saw.

A man dressed in a long coat, his wife  in the respectable middle-class fashion of the times (perhaps the 1920s), her head adorned with a huge hat, stand in a square, perhaps in a park.   In between them, nestled comfortably, smiling at the camera, is their lovely daughter -- is she in her teens? Her twenties? I can't tell.

On the back of the photo, in neat, decisive, final words, is written, probably by my grandmother: Max and Irma and Julia.  Killed in the Holocaust.

I imagine them in a prosperous apartment, somewhere in a large German city -- Berlin?

Another photo shows a younger Uncle Max and identifies him as "Grandma's brother." I'm not even sure if they are the same person.

I imagine Max and Irma and Julia at home, surrounded by ponderous Victorian antiques, or strolling through the Berlin streets. And then the picture grows dark.



Because my mother's family came to America in the 1880's, and my father's family in the early 1900's, we didn't have a lot of close relatives killed by the Nazis.

Yet for my grandmother, and for her mother and her mother's generation, the grief must have been deep -- a wound that never quite healed.

My grandmother was very active in helping Jews get visas before the Holocaust -- yet somehow these relatives end up staying, and dying, in Germany.

There aren't too many people left who may know why.

But now that I have seen their faces, I would like to know who they were.

We have a pretty good idea of how they died.

I'd like to learn something about how they lived.

Max, Irma and Julia.

Across the decades,  a relative sitting in a quiet Philadelphia exurb remembers you. And hopes that you have finally found peace.