Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Zen Beginnings

Someone asked on my alumni email list why we changed religions, specifically naming me among others.  Why, and at what point in our life, we came to Buddhism, etc.

First, I said,  Such a big question! So much to say...I guess I'll do the zen thing and boil it down to the essence....

St. John's is directly responsible.

Then, I sent another post:

that is to say...
When I came to St. John's it slowly dawned on me that I had difficulty interacting with the books and in seminar because I did not know myself. A momentous realization occurred during, or I should say after, the Symposium seminar, when quite a few of us piled into cars and the back of a pickup and went to Spike Venable's house to continue the party. (All Spike had left in the house was some sherry, which we eagerly drank because it was booze of some kind.)

Certain moments at that party blend together as the moment when I realized. Mr. Cornell saying "Ms. Hoog... is drunk! Ms. Hoog... is drunk!" and me thinking 'yeah so are you!' and me responding to something somebody asked by saying, "I don't know what I believe!" realizing that at that moment I could no longer call myself a Christian and two friends of Spike's, not Johnnies, who insisted it was possible to be Buddhist *and* Christian. I had no idea what Buddhism was, and if they explained, I was too drunk to retain it.

But I was beginning to uncover myself. I was busy imbibing Great Books, often reading them twice but still not knowing what to say.

Along about the time we were reading the Bible, my boss in the library, Jon Schaefer, [son of Jack Schaefer] would talk with much enthusiasm about his Buddhist beliefs and about his experiences meditating with Some Great American Convert I don't remember who, who so steadfastly meditated in the snow, etc. I was intrigued, but didn't know what about, really. Some unremembered amount of time later, I was in the bookstore buying up some needed Great Books, when I paused at the Eastern Philosophies/Religions bookshelf, vaguely remembering Jon's enthusiasms.

George Wen... noticed my pause and asked if I was wondering what to start with. I supposed I was. So on his recommendation I bought Zen Mind Beginner's Mind and Three Pillars of Zen. The first I began to read and was hooked. Yes! Yes! Yes! It felt like coming home. The second I used for the illustrations and instructions on how to meditate, but didn't much read because I didn't want to read about answers before I had a chance to experience, having got the message from ZMBM that this was very much an experiential religion.

I tried meditating, but it felt weird, so I gave it up. Long about the time I was able to choose my first preceptorial, and got into "Ancient Chinese Philosophy" with Ralph Swentzell, I thought it might be a good time to try meditating again, and Jon was starting up a pre-seminar meditation period. Never mind that this was pre-Buddhist Chinese philosophy, I knew nothing about that.

So I started meditating, and this time it felt right. That first time, I felt like I was swirling down into a vortex. This time I felt like a Weight Lifted, and I felt ebullient. I have long felt fortunate for that early experience, as it kept me on the path. Buddhist faith asks that you give it a try, and you will eventually experience why it was worth giving a try. This early experience became a beacon when I might have drifted for the sameness of the meditation experience.

It seems to have been a blessing of my life... Blessing? Serendipity? Coincidence? That I chose to walk a path for perhaps the silliest of reasons, and the path I chose turned out to be so important. It's significant to me now that I didn't start meditating until I was ready. The St. John's way was working to help me make the unconscious conscious to the point where I could be ready for the more powerful uncovering of meditation. Being away from my dysfunctional home was helping me shed fear that was instrumental in creating the wall that kept me from knowing myself.

Later on I came to see the religion of my childhood was a pasted-on belief. Since I was a child when it was offered, and at times forced on me, it wasn't something I really had a choice about. I didn't really have much choice about knowing myself, either, as for my survival in a dysfunctional house it was best not to fully face the unfairness of it. Come to think of it, having come to a safe place during a time of exploration, it was probably inevitable that I would lose my religion, among other things.

That's the beginning.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mad Lib Myth Creations

My first thought on hearing about the attempted bombing of Portland's living room was 'I wonder how much of this was the boy's idea, and how much the FBI's idea?  My next, he must be mentally ill.  I first learned of this via the Mayor's blog post via his Facebook feed.  At least his headline made clear from the beginning that people were never actually under any real threat: The bomb was a fake but the suspect thought it was real.

My first concerns were that the facts of this situation might never be truly available to us, it would certainly be distorted in the media to fortify calls for greater security, it would fortify the continued erosion of civil rights, and it would be difficult for this young man to get a fair trial.  More concerns tumbled through my head, like, isn't it convenient that this great threat comes on the heels of several weeks of protest over the implementation of full body scans or full body pat-downs at airports?  No doubt it will be used to shut people up.  And oh yeah, wikileaks has published more embarrassing duplicitous stuff by government officials.  Could this be a wag the dog event?  While the world looks at the US Embassy cables and gets mad, will Americans be caught up in this home terrorist threat?

As the fallout news shakes out, I begin to realize this could have been a very calculated wag the dog event.  Five years ago, thanks to the persistent voices of activists on the street and in city hall, and a rational liberal mayor, Portland said no to the Joint Terrorism Task Force.  No, the city would no longer share its police officers with the FBI in a task force that pushed the limits of civil rights.  Now, the voices are rising for it. Could it be the FBI never forgave Portland for pulling out?  These two news stories are becoming one and the same.

My wish to know more about just what part the FBI played, and what part the young man played, was quickly fulfilled.  At least a couple of friends in my social networks shared the link to the original affidavit.  From this I learned that this seems to be a teenage misanthropic fantasy only allowed to come to apparent fruition through the encouragement of the FBI agents.  Young Mohamed Osman Mohamud allegedly had email contact with someone based in Pakistan that allegedly used coded words regarding his willingness "to prepare for violent jihad."  His attempt to contact a second "Unindicted Associate" failed.  After that, the FBI contacted him, pretending to be a third associate to numbers 1 and 2.  

The undercover FBI agents gave Mohamed several options.  Multiple choice.  I thought, would this boy even have gone this far without those choices made concrete?  Before this, he had vague notions of going to the Middle East, and going to Alaska to earn big money so he could go to the Middle East, but he was unable to do either.  Without the suggestions by the FBI, might someone have noticed he was emotionally disturbed, and got help for him?  What he needed then was compassion.  He certainly needed to be watched carefully, but he didn't need someone to give him a road map to dark fantasy fulfillment.

It seemed to me the agents rounded him into a corner (you can't join up overseas, you're on the no-fly list) and gave him a clear route out to his dark desires.  The affidavit makes this sound so reasonable, like they never led the young man to these choices, that he just stepped in this pile of shit of his own free will.  But I wonder, what kind of body indicators were they giving them as they asked?  What subtle hints in intonation?  Choice number 1 was praying 5 times a day, and number 4 to become "operational."  A young man has finally met his heroes (he thinks) and he wants to impress them, right? 

So then, the FBI agents lead him down a path.  They have a blueprint for action, and they tell him what they need to fill in the blanks.  It's like Mad Libs for terrorists.  OK, we need an action.  He comes back with a dramatic one, bomb the tree-lighting crowd in Portland.  Oh, that's good! Now, how do you want to do this?  More dark drama, the more dramatic the better...kill the women and children.  Video games, movies, rap, they all call for the dramatic.  He wants a bomb, a big bomb?  Well, then he needs to buy this stuff. They give him the money for the stuff.  (Only a portion of the supplies actually needed for a bomb.)  They give him the money for a hotel to hide out.  The FBI builds the "bomb."  The FBI provides the van, and the strategic plan.  More blanks for him to fill in: a map with several possibilities for the "bomb"-loaded van to park.  The FBI makes sure the parking spot is available.  He has to drive the van, but he doesn't have to get himself to a remote location.  The FBI can do that.  Final blank to fill in: he must make the phone call to trigger the "bomb".

So the news is that a bomb threat was foiled.  The FBI narrowly prevented a tragedy. "The bottom line of all this is that the FBI saved Portland from a potentially horrendous attack."  No...the bottom line of all this is that we are seeing myths created before our eyes.  There was never a real threat to the festive tree-lighting event in Portland. There was no real bomb threat to be foiled or narrowly prevented.  A young man who had adolescent fantasies of destruction was fed fantasy fulfillment, and given experts, money, and a clutter-free path to give it a form bigger than he'd probably ever imagined on his own.

I admit I thought to myself Why am I immediately suspicious?  This is what people refer to when they say someone like me hates America.  What can I say to them?  I say it is not new to the peace movement that agents will insinuate themselves into a group, look for weaknesses, and wedge the cracks open. They will incite members to plan violence where no motive toward violence existed before.  Because I want my country to live up to its professed ideals, I don't want government-sponsored agent provocateurs doing this kind of thing.  I say I would simply like to know the facts, if it is possible.  The peace movement's greatest weapons are transparency, honesty, and commitment to non-violence.  The weapons of secret agents are isolation of individuals, deceit, and incitements to violence.  I would just like this case to be transparent.  Let's hear those conversations between secret agents and the violent-jihad-bound young man, not just the picked bits chosen to fortify the affidavit and the fears of the masses.

Further reading supports my fears.  Salon shares that the crucial conversation, in which Mohamed chooses from five options, is missing, that there were technical difficulties.  Really? Scarily convenient.  We'll never know how unequivocal he was about it now, will we?  I learn also this Mad Lib for Wanna-Be Terrorists has happened before.  It looks like you could have quite a bit of reading, if you care, at this link to a Truthout story on that.  Indeed, my Portland pacifist friend reminds us that it's not even the first time in Portland that the FBI has cooked up some completely false allegations.

I am not trying to say this is entrapment according to the law; I have no idea.  I was surprised to find from the Salon article that the multiple choice options are to address that very concern, when to me it seems the very options put the ideas into an impressionable young man's head.  But what about the people who will say I am making excuses for terrorists?  I feel sorry for Mohamed Osman Mohamud. It may be he is a dangerous person.  If the cherry-picked statements regarding his wish to kill families and children are to be believed, he is a scary person.  I only hope he gets a fair trial, and I regret that it already appears his case exists to fulfill fears of terrorists and to encourage the loss of civil rights.

Friday, November 19, 2010


I posted a review at Yelp for Spud.com. It has become my preferred grocery delivery method.  I don't usually do Yelp reviews, but Spud spurred me along at Facebook with a chance to win dinner for two.

Seriously, I'm not sucking up, I really do like Spud a lot.

Let me count the ways I love Spud as a delivery service:

1. Delivery is free if I buy as little as $34.00 worth of stuff. Other grocery delivery services only sometimes give you a coupon for free delivery, and that's only if you buy certain stuff and spend at least $150.00. Even if I had no other reason to like Spud, this makes them a winner.
2. I don't have to be home when they deliver.
3. Even if I am not home, they keep the cold stuff cold with ice packs and dry ice.
4. They use reusable crates rather than disposable paper or plastic bags. (and no deposits required for crates or ice packs)
5. When I buy milk with returnable bottles, Spud takes the bottles back and reimburses me the deposit.
6. I never trust other grocery delivery services to give me good produce that I would pick myself, but I've always been happy with the produce from Spud.
7. I have a choice, to ask for a delivery when I want one, or to ask for a regularly scheduled delivery, and I have a choice as to how often that happens.
8. I don't need some rewards card, but I do earn points for money spent, and actually get money back towards my next delivery fairly often.
9. Spud makes it very easy to know if what I'm buying is from a local company, and even rewards me with the possibility of free stuff if I buy enough local stuff.
10. I get to pick and choose what I want delivered, but if I forget to do that in time, Spud picks some produce for me based on my preferences.

I'm sure there's more that I'm forgetting. As with any delivery service, I love not having to cart those heavy groceries home on the bus. The only drawback: they don't have as many choices available as those other services that charge around $10 for delivery. They do have the kinds of things I want: organic, local produce; and environmentally friendly household goods. The funny thing is, since I started using Spud, those other services are offering me free delivery if I will come back to them. Now, if only they started carrying Swheat brand cat litter...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I dug out my family recipe for kuchen.  There's no great family secret about this recipe...you could do a Google search for a kuchen recipe and find dozens that are similar.  As I look at it, I am reminded of the form of the recipes my family shared.   These days recipes take the form of listing the ingredients and numbering the steps to bake.  The way we shared, I realize now, was designed to fit all on a 3X5 card.  It was assumed the recipient cooked and baked, and didn't need step by step instructions with full sentences.  It doesn't say so, but I'm sure this recipe came from Great Grandma Spradau.  I copied it from her daughter's recipe card,  Grandma Knowles.  That's Grandma Spradau in front, with her birthday corsage, one of her daughters in the back (Aunt Vera?).

I got this out because I'm going to bake a kuchen for my co-workers.  Somebody started a cake-of-the-month club, and way back when I signed up for November.  I don't do so much baking now.  It's years since I baked this...but you don't forget, do you? 

A month or so ago somebody also proposed we create a zine with all our recipes, and each of us who brought a cake could design a page of the zine, or at least hand our recipes over to the zine editors.  I started to think in terms of story as well as cake.  I'd really hoped the recipe would be in my grandma's handwriting, then I would scan and put the recipe in the zine as-is.  Sadly, it is in my crappy mistake-ridden handwriting. Perhaps I will still include it that way.

I thought briefly about making the Poppy Seed Cake, written out by my grandma, all for the story.  There's Grandma Knowles' handwriting, and Grandma Spradau's name, and there's the form our recipes took: brackets pointing from the ingredients to the actions, ever more cramped at the bottom of the card.

I don't think I've ever made this cake though.  I loved it when my grandma made it.  It doesn't even say, but I"m pretty sure when done she would wrap it in tin foil, and the cooked vanilla pudding would soak into the cake, unless that was a different recipe.  However, another reason I love it is that there is NO LEMON.  Why does everything sweet poppy seed also have to have lemon these days?

But there is story  to the Fruit Kuchen recipe as well.  I had to do a Google search myself, seeing that no fruit amount was listed.  Some recipes listed about 4 cups.  Then I remembered that you put enough fruit to cover the batter, and of course, in this old school way of sharing, the women would just know how much they would need.

Grandma, my mom, and my aunt most often made this in the spring and early summer.  First when the rhubarb was ready, later, when the raspberries were ripe. 

There's my mom, my grandpa, my grandma, and my aunt at my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary celebration.  I wasn't able to attend because I was away at college.

I know my great grandpa came from Germany.  I'm not sure about his wife...I'll have to ask my mom.  Either she did too, or her parents did. As a family, we certainly had a lot of German eating habits, like kuchen, and vinegar on vegetables. (And we would say we would "go by so-and-so's house" rather than "visit" or "go to"  ...it's a German thing.)

I suppose I could find some rhubarb in the frozen food section, but I decided I would find something fresh and local, so I put pears and apples on my grocery delivery list.  I'm not sure which one yet...maybe both.  I still want to plant rhubarb in my front yard as a part of the edible landscaping. I want to make rhubarb custard pie, rhubarb kuchen, and take a raw stalk and suck on it, making my mouth pucker so I can remember that childhood feeling of wondering why I was doing that if it was so tart.  And, with rhubarb in my yard, I can feel connected just a little bit to my family's traditions.  Everybody had a rhubarb patch.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

books books books

Unless I suddenly stop reading, this year I will surpass the number of books read in previous years since I started keeping track at Goodreads.  I have been so much more interested in reading than in writing.  I blame the Kindle, among other things. I don't recall feeling the reading bug bite me so bad since I was an awkward kid in junior high. In August, I read the entire Sookie Stackhouse series in 2 weeks.  Some of us who've been attending the Read the Classics series didn't want to take a summer break, so we read and discussed Absalom, Absalom!, Heart of Darkness, and The Sun Also Rises.  Especially notable from my Hollywood Library book group were The Echo Maker and The Sparrow, though we've been reading some great books all along.  Here's this year's schedule.

More recently, I got to meet the author of Lean on Pete.  He's also the singer/songwriter for Richmond Fontaine. He was sweetly authentic.  The several nurses who attend our group were stumbling over each other encouraging him to keep going with his current project about nurses. I told him as soon as his other books were available for the Kindle, I would buy them.  He'd certainly like them to be, but apparently his publisher has other ideas.  They are available in the UK, but not the US....grrrr.  This turns out to be the only book for my book club that I couldn't read on the Kindle.  Seriously, the device has helped me be a better book group leader.

I also got to see Margaret Atwood and Ursula LeGuin as part of Portland Arts and Lectures the same month we read Oryx and Crake.  As soon as I finished that, I immediately read the parallel sequel, Year of the Flood, which, it turns out, I really should listen to as well, as songs are key pieces of the book.  Finish a book at 1 am, it's all too easy with the Kindle to buy the next one in 30 seconds.

I will say though, that because I have fully embraced my preference for reading books on the Kindle, I have returned many library books.  Often I would say all those books with all those due dates were like a ball and chain.  What a burden bounty can be, eh?

So I was thinking, I must have spent a lot more money on books, right, now that, if I have the choice, I read it on the Kindle?  I received my first Kindle for my birthday in May 2009.  (Oh yes...I did buy the "latest generation" of the Kindle, and I am happy I did.  My first one went to a good home.)  I looked at the money I spent on books from May 2008 to May 2009, and then from May 2009 to May 2010.  I actually only went from $270 to $336.  The immediate past 12 months, however, add up to $570.  All those Stackhouse books....  So yeah, you could say the Kindle has rekindled my love of book-reading.

Everyday Zen, I read twice over, as I co-led a class on it at my Zen Center. The first class did not record, but you can listen to the other classes.  Download Class 2, on Chapter 2, here.  Class 3, on Chapter 3. Class 4, on Chapters 4 and 5.  The final two classes haven't been uploaded yet.  We had a handout for the class...you can find it here on Facebook. (and no, you don't have to belong to Facebook to see it.)  As far as preparing for the class, I bow again to the Kindle.  It was so easy to highlight, jot notes, review and print notes and highlights to discuss with my co-teacher and our mentor, and consequently prepare for the class.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Catching up, again

I always said to myself I would not be one of those bloggers that wasted time and blogspace with apologies over not posting, but after such a long absence I guess it would be weird not to acknowledge it.  Where did the time go?  Little things kept me from sitting at the desktop...back trouble, then a foot injury, then just the absence of habit and the new habit of Facebook.  I need to steer my habits back to this spot.  I need to push the reset button in part anyway.  I'd like to get back to the original intent, to explore the multiplicities in my life.  For a while toward the end I was heavy into the book blogging.  While I enjoy doing the slow reads and the reviews, they take up a lot of time, and I don't want those to be all this blog is about.

Interestingly, in the seven years since I began writing here, my Whitman quote seems to have spread as a meme.  Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.  More people I encounter online use it as their tagline.  The idea of multiplicity has spread, and is a natural descriptive word for the online world.  There is nothing but multiplicity here.

During this lucky seven years, books have regained a larger piece of my identity.  When I was a kid, that was the majority of my entertainment.  Now, book groups have changed my reading from mere imbibing to reflection, review, and inquiry.  Those qualities certainly have been part of my reading experience considering my college experience, but recent years have brought a resurgence of the joy along with a consciousness of what I have to offer others from my experience of books.  While I have been a decent facilitator of my library's book group, this past year I have noticed more responses from participants that show my skills have bumped up a notch or three. I'm sure revisiting my college experience and participating in the Read the Classics series has helped my ability to get to the heart of a book, and steer the conversation in that direction.  Half a dozen of us Classics readers were just not ready to take a break for the summer, so we read three books: Absalom, Absalom, Heart of Darkness, and The Sun Also Rises.  We rocked, figuring out these books.

This summer I had a booth for the Portland Chapter of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship at the Division/Clinton Street Fair for the first time.  I don't know why I haven't done this before...money I guess.  I really appreciated that their theme was about community, while the Hawthorne and the Belmont Street Fairs seem to be about Spend Money at Our Businesses.  I liked it so much I thought I'd do those as well, but it didn't work out with my schedule.

I created on-the-spot enso pictures for people.  Kids were the best.  They gave me new ideas for animals in which to incorporate an enso. The kids totally got it when I explained an enso represented that clear, open mind we get from sitting in quiet meditation. I came up with the idea of a comic strip called ensoland.  Every creature would have an enso as part of their being, and they would go about solving conundrums of the spirit.

horse enso            goldfish enso

My homi read her poetry at the library this summer.  Two loves in one spot.

my homi reading poetry

One of my pumpkin plants has taken over the front yard landscaping.  I believe it is the jack-o-lantern plant.  It overwhelmed the Howden pumpkin plant.  The Howden originally had the first small pumpkins, but they fell off.  My yard guy said that was because they weren't pollinated.  The big plant kept wrapping its tendrils around my blueberry bushes, tomato plants, and herb plants.  Naughty pumpkin...I scolded it as I rescued my other plants.  Next year I plan to supplant it with a rhubarb plant. Maybe somebody I know will be ready to divide their root mass this fall.  All my tomatoes are still green.

pumpkin taking over

first pumpkin

See more photos here, including this wacky guerrilla sign.  Can you tell me what it says?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Garden just about done

Many things have been keeping me busy and away from the computer. While I didn't do most of the labor, some of this garden project kept me busy. I hired friend Koken for some of it, and friend Stan for most of it. While I chose to dot the wall with different colored bricks, like a brick wall, Stan deserves the credit for the layout and curved design. He also shaped the remaining slope of the yard. I wanted to have pretty much all edible landscaping. I got advice from my wise groundskeeper friend, and I went to a program on edible landscaping at the library. It turned out to be presented by a facebook Buddhist friend of mine.

I planted the veggies in the front, and some of the mint areas, that's all. I plan to have a garden party, maybe in July or August. Maybe some of the tomatoes will be ready. We've had so much rain, some people lost their tomatoes to lack of sun and heat and too much rain, and I actually come out ahead, having planted late.

Here's what the juniper bushes looked like (all I had was a winter scene, because otherwise, why did I want to take a photo of these runaway bushes?):

2008 front yard, juniper bushes

And here's when they were taken out:

bushes gone

Objects the guys found in the dirt under the bushes:

found objects where bushes were

My neighbor two doors down said she probably was the one who lost the baseball. Now she has a couple of kids who will be the ones losing baseballs. When I planted the veggies, I found another toy, a 4-in. orange frisbee from Trix.

Plants ready:

laying out the plants

Blueberries already!

already blueberries

See the full front yard with plants labeled here. Note I plan to put roses in this winter, where the veggies are. Even roses are edible. Vitamin C! As far as I know, the Red-veined Sorrel is not edible. Somehow that ended up in my box at Farmington Gardens, though I don't remember picking it out. Speaking of Farmington Gardens, that was a fun outing with my sweet friend from work.

See all the photos in this slideshow.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Slow Read: Mrs. Dalloway: finished

Mrs. Dalloway Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Just as I was afraid of, Septimus kills himself. He acts as though cornered by Dr. Holmes...better to jump than to face the man. The omniscient narrator flits with the ambulance back to Peter.

Ah, but thinking became morbid, sentimental, directly one began conjuring up doctors, dead bodies; a little glow of pleasure, a sort of lust too over the visual impression warned one not to go on with that sort of thing any more--fatal to art, fatal to friendship. True. And yet, thought Peter Walsh, as the ambulance turned the corner though the light high bell could be heard down the next street and still farther as it crossed the Tottenham Court Road, chiming constantly, it is the privilege of loneliness; in privacy one may do as one chooses. One might weep if no one saw. It had been his undoing--this susceptibility--in Anglo-Indian society; not weeping at the right time, or laughing either.
I just remembered, in The Voyage Out, Clarissa Dalloway said she loved her husband because he was a man, as well as like a woman to her, referring to their ability to be intimate with each other. Yet here, later in their life, the two don't seem quite so close. It is Peter who is reminiscing about their time together when young, and his own emotional upheavals, which one would think at that time would be ascribed to a woman.
Clarissa had a theory in those days--they had heaps of theories, always theories, as young people have. It was to explain the feeling they had of dissatisfaction; not knowing people; not being known. For how could they know each other?

...It ended in a transcendental theory which, with her horror of death, allowed her to believe, or say that she believed (for all her scepticism), that since our apparitions, the part of us which appears, are so momentary compared with the other, the unseen part of us, which spreads wide, the unseen might survive, be recovered somehow attached to this person or that, or even haunting certain places after death . . . perhaps--perhaps.
Here is another possible way to see the whole of the story, "that unseen part of us, which spreads wide." We get just one day, and as the story flows from one to another character, we get a deeper understanding of each. The whole of each person cannot be explained fully through their own thoughts, or through the views of others upon them, but altogether.

Peter on Daisy, his wife-to-be:
so wholly admirable, so splendid a flower to grow on the crest of human life, and yet he could not come up to the scratch, being always apt to see round things (Clarissa had sapped something in him permanently), and to tire very easily of mute devotion and to want variety in love, though it would make him furious if Daisy loved anybody else, furious!
After 30 years, Peter is settling, it seems. So he goes to the party, telling himself he'd like to pick Richard Dalloway's brain. He's somewhat ambivalent, however. Does he really judge Clarissa this way, or is he talking himself into it?
"How delightful to see you!" said Clarissa. She said it to every one. How delightful to see you! She was at her worst--effusive, insincere. It was a great mistake to have come. He should have stayed at home and read his book, thought Peter Walsh
Clarissa is surprised at her own party:
What name? Lady Rosseter? But who on earth was Lady Rosseter? "Clarissa!" That voice! It was Sally Seton! Sally Seton! after all these years! She loomed through a mist. For she hadn't looked like that, Sally Seton, when Clarissa grasped the hot water can, to think of her under this roof, under this roof! Not like that! All on top of each other, embarrassed, laughing, words tumbled out--passing through London; heard from Clara Haydon; what a chance of seeing you! So I thrust myself in--without an invitation. . .
Peter softens as he watches the party:
There was a breath of tenderness; her severity, her prudery, her woodenness were all warmed through now, and she had about her as she said good-bye to the thick gold-laced man who was doing his best, and good luck to him, to look important, an inexpressible dignity; an exquisite cordiality; as if she wished the whole world well, and must now, being on the very verge and rim of things, take her leave. So she made him think. (But he was not in love.)
Peter and Sally wait and watch while Clarissa flits about as hostess. Sir William arrives...I knew it! The connection.
The party's splendour fell to the floor, so strange it was to come in alone in her finery. What business had the Bradshaws to talk of death at her party? A young man had killed himself. And they talked of it at her party--the Bradshaws, talked of death. He had killed himself--but how? Always her body went through it first, when she was told, suddenly, of an accident; her dress flamed, her body burnt. He had thrown himself from a window. Up had flashed the ground; through him, blundering, bruising, went the rusty spikes. There he lay with a thud, thud, thud in his brain, and then a suffocation of blackness. So she saw it. But why had he done it? And the Bradshaws talked of it at her party!
I wonder what the old lady symbolizes. Earlier, Mrs. Dalloway had watched her, musing on the intimacy of the old neighbor's actions, not knowing she was watched. Now, Clarissa retreats from her party for a few minutes.
It held, foolish as the idea was, something of her own in it, this country sky, this sky above Westminster. She parted the curtains; she looked. Oh, but how surprising!--in the room opposite the old lady stared straight at her! She was going to bed. And the sky. It will be a solemn sky, she had thought, it will be a dusky sky, turning away its cheek in beauty. But there it was--ashen pale, raced over quickly by tapering vast clouds. It was new to her. The wind must have risen.
Now Clarissa is witnessed. And she ponders...
The clock began striking. The young man had killed himself; but she did not pity him; with the clock striking the hour, one, two, three, she did not pity him, with all this going on. There! the old lady had put out her light! the whole house was dark now with this going on, she repeated, and the words came to her, Fear no more the heat of the sun. She must go back to them. But what an extraordinary night! She felt somehow very like him--the young man who had killed himself. She felt glad that he had done it; thrown it away. The clock was striking. The leaden circles dissolved in the air. He made her feel the beauty; made her feel the fun.
Meanwhile, Peter and Sally connect.
When one was young, said Peter, one was too much excited to know people. Now that one was old, fifty-two to be precise (Sally was fifty-five, in body, she said, but her heart was like a girl's of twenty); now that one was mature then, said Peter, one could watch, one could understand, and one did not lose the power of feeling, he said. No, that is true, said Sally. She felt more deeply, more passionately, every year.
And Richard is charmed by his daughter, and tells her so.
And he had not meant to tell her, but he could not help telling her. He had looked at her, he said, and he had wondered, Who is that lovely girl? and it was his daughter! That did make her happy.

It was the perfect thing for Elizabeth to hear just then.

And this is the end:
"I will come," said Peter, but he sat on for a moment. What is this terror? what is this ecstasy? he thought to himself. What is it that fills me with extraordinary excitement? It is Clarissa, he said. For there she was.
At first I thought, well, he never was out of love with her. But now I'm thinking it is that invisible connection that has lit him up. It is because she enters fresh from her epiphanic moment. Of course it is a moment in which one could fall in love all over again, or one could connect with Love again.

I've been wondering, just what was her epiphanic moment? It seems to be that she completely connected to life is Just This. Moments connect, and this is what makes life beautiful. Even in death.

The beginning
The 2nd quarter
The 3rd quarter

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Slow Read: Mrs. Dalloway: 3/4 through

Mrs. Dalloway Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

When I reached my arbitrary stopping point (no chapters!) I was wondering if Sir William was as good a doctor as his fame warranted, and if he was the connection of Septimus to Clarissa.

Not so sure I like Sir William as a doctor, but I imagine he would have been popular for the way he took problems away. Out of sight, out of mind, and euthanization.

Proportion, divine proportion, Sir William's goddess, was acquired by Sir William walking hospitals, catching salmon, begetting one son in Harley Street by Lady Bradshaw, who caught salmon herself and took photographs scarcely to be distinguished from the work of professionals. Worshipping proportion, Sir William not only prospered himself but made England prosper, secluded her lunatics, forbade childbirth, penalised despair, made it impossible for the unfit to propagate their views until they, too, shared his sense of proportion--his, if they were men, Lady Bradshaw's if they were women
Poor Rezia. She is a good woman who still cares for her husband, and intuitively doesn't trust Sir William.
He swooped; he devoured. He shut people up. It was this combination of decision and humanity that endeared Sir William so greatly to the relations of his victims. But Rezia Warren Smith cried, walking down Harley Street, that she did not like that man.
Richard Dalloway has lunch with Lady Bruton and Hugh Whitbread on the same day as Clarissa's party. My, there's a lot that fits into this day. Lady B doesn't like Clarissa. How astute of Richard to be the one to remind/ask Lady B to the party. Milly Brush, her assistant:
"D'you know who's in town?" said Lady Bruton suddenly bethinking her. "Our old friend, Peter Walsh." They all smiled. Peter Walsh! And Mr. Dalloway was genuinely glad, Milly Brush thought; and Mr. Whitbread thought only of his chicken. Peter Walsh! All three, Lady Bruton, Hugh Whitbread, and Richard Dalloway, remembered the same thing--how passionately Peter had been in love; been rejected; gone to India; come a cropper; made a mess of things; and Richard Dalloway had a very great liking for the dear old fellow too. Milly Brush saw that...
Richard must be quite the politician. He can't truly be glad to hear about his old rival being in town? They apparently agree that if Peter's looking for a position, they won't really be able to help him. ""In trouble with some woman," said Lady Bruton. They had all guessed that that was at the bottom of it."

After they leave, Lady B dozes and dreams, and this seems significant to me, like this is how all the people are connected, underneath the conscious world, and would explain the way the story is told, as though the omniscient narrator is passed from person to person, familiar character to stranger, and back.
And they went further and further from her, being attached to her by a thin thread (since they had lunched with her) which would stretch and stretch, get thinner and thinner as they walked across London; as if one's friends were attached to one's body, after lunching with them, by a thin thread, which (as she dozed there) became hazy with the sound of bells, striking the hour or ringing to service, as a single spider's thread is blotted with rain-drops, and, burdened, sags down.
Richard fills out as a character:
Why these people stood that damned insolence he could not conceive. Hugh was becoming an intolerable ass. Richard Dalloway could not stand more than an hour of his society.

...She had failed him, once at Constantinople; and Lady Bruton, whose lunch parties were said to be extraordinarily amusing, had not asked her. He was holding out flowers--roses, red and white roses. (But he could not bring himself to say he loved her; not in so many words.) But how lovely, she said, taking his flowers. She understood; she understood without his speaking; his Clarissa.
I am so impressed with Woolf's ability to show us know how, from the outside, Clarissa seems to be a social butterfly, but from the inside she is thoughtful, and finds deeper meaning in her daily life and her talents.
An offering for the sake of offering, perhaps. Anyhow, it was her gift. Nothing else had she of the slightest importance; could not think, write, even play the piano. She muddled Armenians and Turks; loved success; hated discomfort; must be liked; talked oceans of nonsense: and to this day, ask her what the Equator was, and she did not know. All the same, that one day should follow another; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday; that one should wake up in the morning; see the sky; walk in the park; meet Hugh Whitbread; then suddenly in came Peter; then these roses; it was enough.
Miss Kilman: what a pill. "But Miss Kilman did not hate Mrs. Dalloway. "Turning her large gooseberry-coloured eyes upon Clarissa, observing her small pink face, her delicate body, her air of freshness and fashion, Miss Kilman felt, Fool! Simpleton!""

Elizabeth learns from Miss Kilman. Is it good for her?
But then Miss Kilman was frightfully clever. Elizabeth had never thought about the poor. They lived with everything they wanted,--her mother had breakfast in bed every day; Lucy carried it up; and she liked old women because they were Duchesses, and being descended from some Lord. But Miss Kilman said (one of those Tuesday mornings when the lesson was over), "My grandfather kept an oil and colour shop in Kensington." Miss Kilman made one feel so small.
It seems perhaps Elizabeth will learn the good from Miss Kilman, without buying into the bad. Perhaps the appeal is simply that Elizabeth identifies more with dad than mom, and his simpler needs. Elizabeth leaves Miss Kilman for a walkabout.
And Elizabeth waited in Victoria Street for an omnibus. It was so nice to be out of doors. She thought perhaps she need not go home just yet. It was so nice to be out in the air. So she would get on to an omnibus. And already, even as she stood there, in her very well cut clothes, it was beginning. . . . People were beginning to compare her to poplar trees, early dawn, hyacinths, fawns, running water, and garden lilies; and it made her life a burden to her, for she so much preferred being left alone to do what she liked in the country, but they would compare her to lilies, and she had to go to parties, and London was so dreary compared with being alone in the country with her father and the dogs.
A sweet time between Rezia and Septimus. I wonder if his apparent lucidity, and their sweet connection, foreshadows something bad.
It was wonderful. Never had he done anything which made him feel so proud. It was so real, it was so substantial, Mrs. Peters' hat. "Just look at it," he said. Yes, it would always make her happy to see that hat. He had become himself then, he had laughed then. They had been alone together. Always she would like that hat. He told her to try it on. "But I must look so queer!" she cried, running over to the glass and looking first this side then that.

...But this hat now. And then (it was getting late) Sir William Bradshaw. She held her hands to her head, waiting for him to say did he like the hat or not, and as she sat there, waiting, looking down, he could feel her mind, like a bird, falling from branch to branch, and always alighting, quite rightly; he could follow her mind, as she sat there in one of those loose lax poses that came to her naturally and, if he should say anything, at once she smiled, like a bird alighting with all its claws firm upon the bough.
Uh-oh. This definitely can't be good.
She brought him his papers, the things he had written, things she had written for him. She tumbled them out on to the sofa. They looked at them together. Diagrams, designs, little men and women brandishing sticks for arms, with wings--were they?--on their backs; circles traced round shillings and sixpences--the suns and stars; zigzagging precipices with mountaineers ascending roped together, exactly like knives and forks; sea pieces with little faces laughing out of what might perhaps be waves: the map of the world. Burn them! he cried. Now for his writings; how the dead sing behind rhododendron bushes; odes to Time; conversations with Shakespeare; Evans, Evans, Evans--his messages from the dead; do not cut down trees; tell the Prime Minister. Universal love: the meaning of the world. Burn them! he cried.
I would like to get a glimpse of those papers. Crazy brilliant, I bet. His wish to burn them does not bode well.

The beginning
The 2nd quarter

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Slow Read: Mrs. Dalloway: halfway through

Mrs. Dalloway Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

I left the last reading wondering how Clarissa Dalloway might have been affected by Peter's visit. This reading gives a glimpse into Peter's response. He surprised himself with tears. He thought he'd been over this years ago. It seems to me both are experiencing the rebirth of old selves. I wonder what they will find their relationship to those old selves will be?

Stalk women much, Peter? It seems Peter has a fantasy life without being very reflective about it:

There was a dignity about her. She was not worldly, like Clarissa; not rich, like Clarissa. Was she, he wondered as she moved, respectable? Witty, with a lizard's flickering tongue, he thought (for one must invent, must allow oneself a little diversion), a cool waiting wit, a darting wit; not noisy. She moved; she crossed; he followed her. To embarrass her was the last thing he wished. Still if she stopped he would say "Come and have an ice," he would say, and she would answer, perfectly simply, "Oh yes."
So Peter falls asleep in the park,
Suddenly he closed his eyes, raised his hand with an effort, and threw away the heavy end of his cigar. A great brush swept smooth across his mind, sweeping across it moving branches, children's voices, the shuffle of feet, and people passing, and humming traffic, rising and falling traffic. Down, down he sank into the plumes and feathers of sleep, sank, and was muffled over.
and also in the park is Mr. Septimus Smith. Why is he and his wife in this story, I wonder? They were in the vicinity of Mrs. Dalloway, and in the vicinity of Peter, but is there going to be something more significant? It seems to be a pretty convincing glimpse inside Septimus's head, and how far gone he is, seems like schizophrenia to me, but it seems also to be brought about by the war. Hallucinations:
It was horrible, terrible to see a dog become a man! At once the dog trotted away. Heaven was divinely merciful, infinitely benignant. It spared him, pardoned his weakness. But what was the scientific explanation (for one must be scientific above all things)? Why could he see through bodies, see into the future, when dogs will become men?
Peter reminisces:
Somebody who had written him a long, gushing letter quite lately about "blue hydrangeas." It was seeing blue hydrangeas that made her think of him and the old days--Sally Seton, of course! It was Sally Seton--the last person in the world one would have expected to marry a rich man and live in a large house near Manchester, the wild, the daring, the romantic Sally!
Sally Seton...wasn't she Clarissa's love interest back when? She was!
Over and over again he had seen her take some raw youth, twist him, turn him, wake him up; set him going. Infinite numbers of dull people conglomerated round her of course. But odd unexpected people turned up; an artist sometimes; sometimes a writer; queer fish in that atmosphere. ...As we are a doomed race, chained to a sinking ship (her favourite reading as a girl was Huxley and Tyndall, and they were fond of these nautical metaphors), as the whole thing is a bad joke, let us, at any rate, do our part; mitigate the sufferings of our fellow-prisoners
Clarissa seems to be something of a salon hostess, or a patroness. Huxley and Tyndall must be significant. Oh, they were scientists seeking to separate science from religion. Atheists again. Clarissa doesn't believe in God.

Considering his stalkerishness, I was wondering if Peter was really getting married. The lady does exist...he just doesn't appear to like her attentions all that much. Hmmm.
It was impossible that he should ever suffer again as Clarissa had made him suffer. For hours at a time (pray God that one might say these things without being overheard!), for hours and days he never thought of Daisy. Could it be that he was in love with her then, remembering the misery, the torture, the extraordinary passion of those days? It was a different thing altogether--a much pleasanter thing--the truth being, of course, that now she was in love with him. And that perhaps was the reason why, when the ship actually sailed, he felt an extraordinary relief, wanted nothing so much as to be alone; was annoyed to find all her little attentions--cigars, notes, a rug for the voyage--in his cabin.
Back to Septimus. This is also why I think of schizophrenia:
Here he opened Shakespeare once more. That boy's business of the intoxication of language--Antony and Cleopatra--had shrivelled utterly. How Shakespeare loathed humanity--the putting on of clothes, the getting of children, the sordidity of the mouth and the belly! This was now revealed to Septimus; the message hidden in the beauty of words. The secret signal which one generation passes, under disguise, to the next is loathing, hatred, despair.
Dr. Holmes, inept general practitioner. Sir William at least can diagnose mental illness when he sees it. Could Sir William be the connection between Dalloway and Smith?

The beginning

Facebook Wayback

Last week the meme spread to change our Facebook profile photo to one from wayback. I chose one I used here from my 2 year birthday. However, when it comes to status and links, it seems "wayback" is more like a month or two ago. Here are some things I want to remember from wayback...this summer.

I often went to this farm stand, which was in the parking lot of the restaurant right behind the library, right after I got off work on Thursdays.

We trust no kittehs were harmed in the making of this video.

Via Choten: One year walk/beard video

Found when looking for ways people told the story of Buddha's Enlightenment: a Mary Oliver poem.

My allergies have been worse for longer periods of time, and I've heard from others. Just as I suspected, climate change is doing this.

Further proof that "evolutionary psychology" is a poorly disguised pseudo-scientific vehicle for the dissemination of bigotry

Inspired by Felicia's hurricane, I wondered if there was a Hurricane Heidi. Indeedy, 1967, I was 5 months old. There was also a Tropical Storm Heidi in September 1971. I just remembered, my family moved to the house I grew up in when I was 5 months old.

This work and video done by co-worker's daughter.

Fun stop-motion video made from innards of old cameras.

Sherman Alexie short story: War Dances.

Not Always Right: the rain in Portland.

The health care reform debate was raging this summer. Now it is sadly another corporate entitlement. Then, I said:

The money that could be spent on health care to cover everybody is hardly anything compared to the money that has been spent on war for the past 8 years. If we can spend that kind of money on destruction, we can spend that kind of money on health, and what we get back will not be rubble and blood, but able human beings who can participate positively in our communities and our economy.
I still haven't seen the movie. Sure, I will eventually. But meanwhile I hope to get around to reading the blog that inspired Julie/Julia.

Snow leopard!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Slow Read: Mrs. Dalloway: The Beginning

Mrs. Dalloway Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

First, let me say I really enjoyed The Voyage Out. There was an intimate feel to the gatherings of the English expatriates somewhere in South America. Before arriving, however, Mr. and Mrs. Dalloway were passengers on the ship which housed the heroine Rachel Vinrace. I was so intrigued by that little glimpse, I quite looked forward to Mrs. Dalloway. Rachel is an innocent. She hasn't been awakened to the ecstasies and epiphanies of love. The other characters on the ship provide examples of couples, such as her relatives, the Ambroses, as well as the Dalloways. The Dalloways are a key to her awakening. He is a politician, she his adoring wife. Their marriage appears to be the perfect example: they enjoy intimacies in private; they know each others' quirks; they enjoy each other. Yet when there's an unexpected intimate moment with Rachel, Mr. Dalloway kisses her. He seems to feel Rachel brought it on them both; she, however, is ignited. This is the spark that ignites her pilot light to love. (She has a very yonic/phallic dream.) She does not completely understand this feeling, but likes it, and is ripe, ready to fall in love. Reading, I hoped the right person would happen along. The Dalloways depart, and I find myself wondering, does this happen before or after the next book I read? Are the Dalloways really so understanding of each other, even of themselves, as they at first appear to be? That kiss seems to belie the notion, but it also was a kiss that needed to happen, so as to awaken Rachel, the sleeping beauty.

The story of Mrs. Dalloway begins with her running errands for her dinner party. While she walks, she muses. She'd chosen Richard Dalloway over Peter.

But Peter--however beautiful the day might be, and the trees and the grass, and the little girl in pink--Peter never saw a thing of all that. He would put on his spectacles, if she told him to; he would look. It was the state of the world that interested him.... So she would still find herself arguing in St. James's Park, still making out that she had been right--and she had too--not to marry him. For in marriage a little licence, a little independence there must be between people living together day in day out in the same house; which Richard gave her, and she him.
I've been wondering how old is she as compared to The Voyage Out? This doesn't help me much:
She felt very young; at the same time unspeakably aged. She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was outside, looking on. She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day.
In The Voyage Out many if not most characters were not religious. Mrs. Dalloway informed Rachel she didn't know yet. Clearly Mrs. D. was part of a set who thought about such things, and Rachel hadn't needed to, yet. I wonder if this was the norm at the time, or was the author's ideal world. This thoughtful non-belief seemed also to carry an enlightened rationality.
not for a moment did she believe in God; but all the more, she thought, taking up the pad, must one repay in daily life to servants, yes, to dogs and canaries, above all to Richard her husband, who was the foundation of it...
What a heady time it must have been for the Woolfs, to be part of the Bloomsbury Group, in which they rebelled against the Victorian age. And hmmm, what great fodder for books.
She resented it, had a scruple picked up Heaven knows where, or, as she felt, sent by Nature (who is invariably wise); yet she could not resist sometimes yielding to the charm of a woman, not a girl, of a woman confessing, as to her they often did, some scrape, some folly. And whether it was pity, or their beauty, or that she was older, or some accident--like a faint scent, or a violin next door (so strange is the power of sounds at certain moments), she did undoubtedly then feel what men felt. Only for a moment; but it was enough. ...But this question of love (she thought, putting her coat away), this falling in love with women. Take Sally Seton; her relation in the old days with Sally Seton. Had not that, after all, been love?
Speak of the devil. Hadn't she just been thinking about this guy? Peter's quite sure Clarissa will see him.
"But he never liked any one who--our friends," said Clarissa; and could have bitten her tongue for thus reminding Peter that he had wanted to marry her. Of course I did, thought Peter; it almost broke my heart too, he thought; and was overcome with his own grief, which rose like a moon looked at from a terrace, ghastly beautiful with light from the sunken day.
He announces his new love. Does this upset her world view? We'll see, I suppose. Certainly she began his visit by telling him she was having a party and he wasn't invited (or was she being coquettish?), but when he leaves abruptly
saying "Good-bye, Clarissa" without looking at her, leaving the room quickly, and running downstairs and opening the hall door. "Peter! Peter!" cried Clarissa, following him out on to the landing. "My party to-night! Remember my party to-night!" she cried, having to raise her voice against the roar of the open air
What a day for ghosts in Mrs. Dalloway's life. She ponders her past as she prepares for the night's dinner, and one shows up, opening old doors she'd thought she'd closed.

I liked the way the point of view shifted from one character to the next as Mrs. Dalloway went about her walk and her errands, like it was the wind listening in on the thoughts of the people on the street.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Fat Karma: Voodoo Hex of Fat Fear

I've been busy reading those books quite relevant to this subject, and designed a Buddhist class series focusing mostly on Mindful Eating, but also including information from Health at Every Size, and Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat.

I've got a list around here somewhere of threads I'd still like to cover. Add this website, First Do No Harm, to things to check out regarding Health Care Bigotry. While procrastinating over my class series preparation I read through all of these. It is heartbreaking. The most recent is on anesthetic. I just love :/ how health care providers will act as if it is the fat person's fault that they cannot figure out the correct dosage. How hard can it be to improve dosage knowledge?

On to this thread. There are quite a few soggy science articles on obesity. I just read one today that was an eye-roller. Whenever you come across an article on how bad obesity is, take some time trying to find the science in it. Well, first you'll notice the required fat-person pornography. You know, the lazy fat person body parts that show just how gluttonous and unsexy we fat Americans are. This lazy article claims obesity has surpassed smoking as the "bigger drag on health." The science they quote? Debunked, long ago. There was no such thing as a quarter of a million deaths from obesity. CDC even admitted that was a mistake. A mistake!

A CDC-sponsored study, published last April in PLoS Medicine, found that as of 2005 smoking was the most frequent killer (causing about one in five deaths), with high blood pressure following up close behind (causing one in six deaths). Obesity came in third at that point, being responsible for almost a quarter of a million deaths—or one in 10.
What else do they have to say? That some survey said obesity affects quality of life? Well, maybe if we weren't of a group still acceptable to marginalize, maybe we'd have a better quality of life. If I have one quibble with the documentary series, Unnatural Causes, it's that they didn't cover the detrimental effect that sizism has on people. Perhaps that is because a cascade effect demonizing "excess" weight has been in effect for so many years that there are no studies looking for anything but fat as the cause for poor health. It is entrenched in the public consciousness that fat is bad. Yet Unnatural Causes showed that inequalities because of wealth, societal standing, and race all have an effect on health, even down to a person's propensity to catch a cold. See number six: chronic stress can be toxic.

That is part of the voodoo hex equation. Everyone tells us we have poor health because of our weight. Many feel justified in treating us differently because of our weight. Doctors treat us differently because many of them view us as ugly, lazy, lying, and/or non-compliant. This chronic stress has an effect on all those indicators that are linked with obesity, and for which obesity is blamed.

Because we have these messages coming at us, many of us from the time we were children, many of us believe them. We believe we are unhealthy. We believe as long as we are fat, we are incapable of being healthy. Not only does this add to the chronic stress, and diminish our motivation, it has to spark a nocebo response. Heck, the placebo/nocebo response works on some even if they don't believe it.

I think of this karma like many little pins poking us. Every time a person has a thought about the badness of their fat, it is a pin poking them. Every time a doctor tells a person it's going to make them unhealthy, it's a pin poking them. If we believe it, and continually think these negative thoughts toward our bodies and our supposed inability to take care of them, we continually poke these needles in our psyche. I visualize myself repelling those pins. I refuse to let them sink in, to draw blood. You should do it too. Whether you think you could lose a few pounds, or the doctors keep telling you that you must lose weight, don't let those nasty pins prick you. Don't feed those thoughts that say, if only I lost some weight, this walk would be easier. If you think that, the walk will be hard, and it's though it doesn't count. Allow it to count. Allow yourself to feel how healthy your body really is.

I have had doctors scold me, telling me I need to exercise more. (Remember, they don't ask. I don't remember anyone ever asking.) When I say I do, and that I also have a fairly active job, they say it's not enough, and the job doesn't count. Funny thing, this study shows that if I believe that, indeed it will not be enough. I don't believe that thought. I believe there are aspects of my job that give me a workout, and it is indeed exercise that counts, like the housekeepers in the study. Jeez, I have proof. When I cut back from full to half time, I gained weight. Are these docs going to tell me I need to work out 20 hours a week to make up for the dropped work hours? Remember, those times Oprah lost her weight, she was working out many hours a day.

I fantasize about what a different world it would be if those who make it their job to care about my health would not try to hex my health. How much more pleasant it would be if a doctor expressed concern about my health by saying something like this: "I'm concerned about your weight, and your blood pressure going up in recent years. I've noticed otherwise your health indicators are quite good. Won't you tell me what your habits are that support your good health?" We could then proceed to have a conversation about those things I do that are good, and that I enjoy doing, and collaborate on how I could improve my habits. We could also acknowledge that my family's history of high blood pressure could be the thing that caused my slightly elevated number, and that perhaps perimenopause is effecting changes on my body. At no point in this fantasy does the doctor wish early death upon me, because at this point, none of my health indicators are that alarming.

Earlier posts in this series:
It Starts Young
Health Care Bigotry
Morbidity and Weight

Slow Read: Mrs. Dalloway

I'm going to begin another slow read starting this Sunday. I hope some will be inspired to join me. I find these slow reads nice for several reasons:

  • The amounts per week, even per day, are so small that I hardly need to take time out for this extra reading.
  • The time spent reflecting about the week helps the book sink in better, and I remember more of it much later.
  • I'm reading the books for a reason... in this case a Classics book group led by a professor...and this keeps me on track so I'm not cramming in the last few days.
  • If I know others are reading along, I am more inspired to write my reflections. I hope if you're reading along, you will make comments freely, or even post your own blog entries.
I must give a nod to the blogger at Bookshelves of Doom. She has been doing "Big Reads" for a couple of years. She's just started one on The Woman in White. I'd love to join her, but I've got more to read.

Mrs. Dalloway Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

You can find it here at Project Gutenberg Australia. Hmmm I wonder why it's not at the main Gutenberg site. Since I'm reading on the Kindle, and you may be reading some edition or another, I'm marking each reading by the beginning sentence. Or, just divide the book in 4 parts and consider that the approximate reading for the week.

  • January 10-16: The beginning to...
  • January 17-23: Remember my party, remember my party, said Peter Walsh as he stepped down the street... to...
  • January 24- 30: How long had Dr. Holmes been attending him? to..
  • Jan. 31-Feb. 6: But Rezia laid her hands on them. to The End

I've begun reading this one:

The Voyage Out The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf

It has Mrs. Dalloway as a character, and is Woolf's first book. I'm not reading slow, but I may not get finished before I need to start this other. I'm liking it so far.

I also need to read Dreams from my Father before the 19th for my library's book group. There I go, stacking up the books again.

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