Saturday, February 04, 2006

May the Goddess Guard Her. May She Find Her Way to the Summerlands. May her Friends and Family Know Peace

Thanks, Betty. You saved my life.

From Chapter 2 of the Feminine Mystique:

In the early 1960's McCall'shas been the fastest growing of the women's magazines. Its contents are a fairly accurate representation of the image of the American woman presented, and in part created, by the large-circulation magazines. Here are the complete editorial contents of a typical issue of McCall's(July 1960):

1. A lead article on "increasing baldness in women." caused by too much brushing and dyeing.

2. A long poem in primer-size type about a child, called "A Boy Is A Boy."

3. A short story about how a teenager who doesn't go to college gets a man away from a bright college girl.

4. A short story about the minute sensations of a baby throwing his bottle out of the crib.

5. The first of a two-part intimate "up-to-date" account by the Duke of Windsor on "How the Duchess and I now live and spend our time. The influence of clothes on me and vice versa."

6. A short story about a nineteen-year-old girl sent to a charm school to learn how to bat her eyelashes and lose at tennis. ("You're nineteen, and by normal American standards, I now am entitled to have you taken off my hands, legally and financially, by some beardless youth who will spirit you away to a one-and-a-half-room apartment in the Village while he learns the chicanery of selling bonds. And no beardless youth is going to do that as long as you volley to his backhand.")

7. The story of a honeymoon couple commuting between separate bedrooms after an argument over gambling at Las Vegas.

8. An article on "how to overcome an inferiority complex."

9. A story called "Wedding Day."

10. The story of a teenager's mother who leerns how to dance rock-and-roll.

11. Six pages of glamorous pictures of models in maternity clothes.

12. Four glamorous pages on "reduce the way the models do."

13. An article on airline delays.

14. Patterns for home sewing.

15. Patterns with which to make "Folding Screens--Bewitching Magic."

16. An article called "An Encyclopedic Approach to Finding a Second Husband."

17. A "barbecue bonanza," dedicated "to the Great American Mister who stands, chef's cap on head, fork in hand, on terrace or back porch, in patio or backyard anywhere in the land, watching his roast turning on the spit. And to his wife wit without whom (sometimes) the barbecue could never be the smashing summer success it undoubtedly is . . ."

Friday, February 03, 2006

An All Volunteer Army

Go buy the New Yorker and read the article entitled “Swamp Nurse” by Katherine Boo. It will break your heart.

Boo follows Luwana Marts, a nurse in Louisiana’s Nurse-Family partnership, whose job is visiting poor young mothers in an effort to improve their babies’ lives. The mothers’ lives are chaotic; they move from one ruined trailer to another crowded apartment. They move from one convicted felon to another drug dealer. They don’t bother to have themselves tested for the hepatitis that Marts suspects they have since they can’t afford medical care anyway or they stop taking their hepatitis medicine because it makes them too tired for their cleaning jobs. And, then, they find out that their newborn has hepatitis.

Boo reports: ”Jose, who was with Maggie, [the young mother of the infected infant], then took her hand. Together, they informed Luwana [Marts] that decisions bigger than high school had also been made. Jose was joining the Marines, and he and Maggie had decided to marry. In the telling, their mouths were straight lines. Love and patriotism were not much on their minds.

“I’m less nervous about Iraq than I am about marrying Maggie,” Jose told the nurse as he and Maggie took turns pushing the talkative eighteen-month-old Maia around in an empty diaper box. Since they lived in a community with a particularly high death rate in the war, Maggie saw the Marine Corps and marriage as equally distressing propositions. But the couple had made a hard calculation, and there were two more things they wanted for their daughter that they didn’t know another way to get: good, possibly life-extending medical care and a habitable dwelling in which she might grow up.”

I’ve heard many times that we have a volunteer army. No we don’t. We have a system of enforced poverty and lack of access to basic human necessities that forces young men (including those like Jose who don’t have the sense that the Goddess gave a garbanzo bean) into the service in order to keep their children from dying of hepatitis. And we wonder why the oligarchs are against abortion and contraception and sex education?

Alanis, Where Are You When We Need You?

As Ms. Morissette would say, "Isn't it ironic?

I'm still too angry over Cindy Sheehan's treatment to write sensibly about it. This will have to serve for now.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

May the Goddess Guard Her. May She Find Her Way to the Summerlands. May Her Friends and Family Know Peace.

The beautiful ballerina, Moira Shearer has died. She was best known for her role in the film The Red Shoes in which she played a ballerina.

Is Nausea Enough?

It’s not very often that I agree with Jack Danforth. In fact, his name simply conjures up for me bad memories of the way Anita Hill was treated. But my brilliant friend Elizabeth pointed out this article to me in today’s WaPo and I’m glad to see Mr. Danforth saying what he says. I especially agree with him about the meanness that is, for me, at least, the predominant characteristic of today’s Evangelicals.

The article quotes Samuel Lloyd, dean of the National Cathedral, who says, ”My hope and my guess is that there is a fair amount of revulsion and that the moment is right for one or more candidates who want to appeal to a more generous spirit in the American people.” I think that’s what I’m trying to get at with my discussions of Galway Kinnell’s poem about St. Francis and the Sow. When the poet says, “though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing,”

I think of America, which seems rather desperately in need of someone who can reteach it its loveliness, who can retell it in words and in touch that it is lovely, until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing.

Danforth says he’s “counting on nausea” to turn politics around. I’m not so sure that’s enough. I’m wondering a lot these days about the role of heroes and heroines. Do we need someone who can articulate for America what is good about it and remind it of its better nature? Or is it something that lots of smaller someones can do? And if so, how? Or is Danforth right and nausea alone will turn the tide?

Find a Sacred Well and Read Some Poetry -- or Write Some!

Happy Imbolc! February 2nd is one of the eight major Pagan holidays. It goes by several names, but in my Circle, we call it Imbolc. It’s been almost six weeks since the Winter Solstice and you really can tell that the days are getting longer. Spring’s not here yet, but we can tell that it’s coming.

We celebrate and honor the Celtic Goddess Brigit (pronounced Breed). Brigit was worshipped at various sacred wells throughout Ireland and Scotland. She was the goddess of, among other things, blacksmiths and poets. I’ve always loved that juxtaposition -- blacksmiths and poets. The connection, for me at least, is that they both work with fire.

I’ve been thinking lately about what poor poetry, what poor art in general, totalitarian regimes tend to produce. And here’s what I believe, although I know of no study that backs this up: I believe that the side with the best poets always wins in the end. In the sixties, the anti-war side had, by far, the better poets, albeit that those poets tended to put their poetry to music.

And, I’m wondering, where are our poets today? Who’s writing good poetry that explains what’s wrong with the theocracy that is being installed in the White House, Capitol, and Court Houses across America? Who’s writing the poetry that will, in the words of the poem by Kinnell, help America to remember how to blossom from within of self-blessing?

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Gift

So today pretty much sucked. In fact, it started sucking last night, when my throat started to feel scratchy and when our new moon ritual was only kinda ok, which happens sometimes, but it's so much nicer when everyone really clicks. And then, the cloture vote. Less said at the moment, the better. I'm still trying to process what to do next. At five o'clock, an absurdly early hour for me, I gave up and drove home, getting more despondent every minute.

When I opened the door, there on my floor was a package that the mailman had brought to me from one of the many dear friends I have that I've never met. For no reason at all, except to wish me a happy holy day on Imbolc, February, 2nd, was this amazingly gorgeous new tarot deck. And it's some kind of serendipity because, last night at the dark moon, we cleansed and consecrated divination tools, which for almost all the women in my group, means tarot cards. And, today, I have a beautiful and meaningful new tarot deck.

It's amazing, isn't it, how a kind act can help us to remember that we live in an enchanted world, in spite of the George Bushes and the Haliburtons, and the cold germs? Once, when I was doing chemotherapy, had just been abandoned by my lover of twenty-some years, and was about as sorry for myself as it was possible to feel, I was sitting in a restaurant trying to make myself eat something. I called for the check and the waitress said, "A man saw you sitting in the window, came in and paid for your meal. He left this." It was a tiny, dirty scrap of paper, torn off of an envelope and it said: "Believe." I still have that scrap of paper and it keeps me going sometimes when I feel like giving up.

So, while I don't have any grand strategy to save the Republic (the song I keep hearing in my head is "I need a hero!"), nor any deep philosophical explanation for what happened today, other than to say that evil, as it sometimes does, temporarily prevailed, I can say that I'm not giving up. I'm bloody, but I am not yet bowed.

And, because I've been reminded today of the power of gifts, I'll gift you with a tarot reading, if you like. Click on Lunaea's link in my Wicca section, ask a question, and pick a card from her oracle. Tell me in comments what you pulled and I'll read for you. As they said in Dr. Zhivago, "Ah, well then, it's a gift."

I Am Begging You

Call today and demand that Senators filibuster Judge Alito. Just go here for all the information on who to call and how to reach them. DON'T limit yourself to only calling your own Senators. Call the ones that blogger Thersites lists and tell them that if they can’t stand up for women, you won’t be donating any more time or money to the DNC or the DLC and that you’ll be telling the DNC and DLC which Senators are to blame.