samedi, avril 28, 2012

Silence and consent

Would, could must
She doesn't  know to ask
Even a what
Beyond ability
Somewhere in those cloudy depths
Lips cannot form answer
Without question
Somewhere on this
Dusty dry road
She became
This woman
She pleases you
Her gaze steady
Eyes polite
Enigmatic only to those who wish to see below
She questions. Does not volunteer.
Can she blame
The succession of men across the table
Mistaking her silence
For consent?

vendredi, avril 27, 2012

The ache of turning life into art

For the past week, I've been engaged in writing, and then editing, a story.

The narrative of a relationship that shattered on the rocks of history and habit, it is purely non-fiction.

I've never been good at writing fiction. For some reason, as I have said here before, my voice sounds mannered and artificial.

The more I write commentaries, the leaner my prose becomes (or at least, that's my intention).  Not quite Hemingway -- but certainly not Henry James.

Hemingway...James...I'm abashed by my own humility.

With all due gravitas, I'm trying to teach my son not to torture his adjectives. Sentences don't need to be as Baroque as a Bach chorale.

Cranking out those commentaries is a piece of cake, compared to what I've been doing this past week.

Each word is like a drop of blood on the screen, bringing back moments of hope, sadness, incredulity, and disappointment.

At the same time, the product is not bad. In fact, it might be better than "not bad." We'll see. I'm shopping it around now.

Writing about a relationship that didn't work out, one in which the other person's behavior profoundly hurt you, can be cathartic.

I write because I can. I use words because I have no other language right now. 

I create sentences like spiderwebs because I must.

And yet I would tear up what I have, gladly, if I could have had the resolution I crave.

This, at least for now -- this must be it.

jeudi, avril 26, 2012

Men without standards, women without scruples

Looking back, I've had occasion to be very grateful that my friends are, in general, really, really nice people.

There have been times in my life when I've had exposure to some women who really weren't all that nice.

Humans of the female persuasion (well, sometimes they were human), who gossipped and back-stabbed and spread rumors about other women have made my life, and these lives of some of my friends, miserable.

But on the whole, I'm thrilled to say that I have loyal, gracious and kind female friends.  And I have guy friends who have the excellent taste to be married or dating or friends with a higher class of women.

Now and again, however, I come across a person who has been beguiled into becoming friends with, or even dating, someone who is just toxic. Or scheming. Or so insecure that they walk on eggshells for fear of tears, or anger, or words better unsaid.

Watch the contagion spread.

Soon some friends aren't acceptable anymore.  Soon some family members aren't welcome. Soon the circle gets tighter and tighter, instead of more welcome and accepting.

If you find yourself in a relationship like that, you might want to consider -- am I becoming a healthier, kinder, more truly compassionate person?

Is my life becoming richer in love and laughter?

Or am I in bed with a vampire?

Pick a toothsome morsel like that, and you may find yourself not only smitten, but bitten.

mardi, avril 24, 2012

The Boy, the bullies and the battle

Yesterday I was driving down to the middle school to pick up my son (AKA the Boy).  Next year he's going to add marching band to his menu of after-school options, and as far as I can tell, he's going to need to rent a classroom overnight to keep up with his schedule.

I didn't use to think so, but the Boy is one of the fortunate ones.  Though he's had his share of negative attention from kids on the bus, and at school (recall the infamous incident of the broken eardrum), he has learned to cope.  Adroitly, if I may say so.

Recently he said to me that after these incidents, he's figured out "how to choose  friends that will defend me."

But Kenneth Weishuhn was not so lucky.  Described as a fun-loving, sweet boy, Kenneth came out to his school recently -- and was tormented.  Picked on so badly that a hate group was formed on Facebook -- and joined, apparently, by kids he thought were his friends.

 A few weeks ago, he hung himself.

Read the editorial in the Sioux City Journal for more information.  ( .

The Sioux City school system, as noted in the article, is the one where much of the documentary "Bully" was filmed. And they HAVE an anti-bullying program. It's very sobering to think that even with intervention, kids can be hit and mocked, insulted and treated as though they weren't human.

You don't have to be gay to have your life made so miserable that you consider killing yourself. You just have to be considered "different."  A minority in a majority school.  A girl on a boy's team. Developmentally disabled.  The new kid.

We need to understand why people bully -- and why some of us choose not to bully.

And then, instead of averting our vision because it's too awkward, or scary, or we simply can't believe what we are seeing, we need to have the cojones to stand up for the child (or adult) who is victimized.

Inside of all of us, there is both a bully -- and a victim.

Who will win the battle in your life today?

dimanche, avril 22, 2012

Class warfare

Many, many years ago, a classmate of mine at seminary told another friend that "Elizabeth has more class in her little finger than most of the rest of us."

I'm not recalling this moment as a compliment to myself.  At the time, I would have given up all of the supposed virtue I had to be blonde, winsome and a hot item among the Presbyterian menfolk.  Class meant nothing to me. Popularity did.

Now that I've had a few years to think about this, however -- I find that class counts. Class matters.

 Not in the sense that politicians use the word.  I find that particularly aggravating. But I don't like slogans, period.

Take the notion of "class warfare," for instance.  I could take you seriously if you were talking about France and the Jacobins or about 1918 Russia, but America in 2012?

Who are these fellows afraid of?

(I do believe that where you are on the socioeconomic ladder makes a difference -- that's a whole other post.)

In an individual, class is an attitude. Class is the company you keep -- and that which you choose not to.

Recently, I've realized that some of the company I've kept has brought me down.

Knowing when to stand up for yourself, and when to walk away is a tricky business, isn't it?

I'm not at all sure I've got that one down.

I'm horrible at catfights.  Unless I get really, really mad. And even then, there are better things to do.

If there's still an ember glowing among the ashes of the woman that my classmates glimpsed back in the day, she's the one I want to nurture.

Only this time, with a little confidence, sass, and compassion.

Class warfare. Who needs it?

Let them eat chocolate. In fact, I'm buying.