February 2015


Spring has come unseasonably early here in Oregon, and I can sense things stirring in my backyard already, pushing and slicing their way to the surface. They don’t want to wait until a more reasonable time–they want life right now. Vines are slithering out of the ground, soft and green. The sprouts in the veggie patch are starting to spread their tentacles. Buds are bursting open on tree branches, and the tiny finches, which have been waiting for this all through winter, are tearing them to pieces with their hard beaks.

I want to shut my door and keep Mother Nature out. I distrust Her on good days, and fear Her on worse days. She is out to get me. I will put on music to block out all that happy growing noise, and savor the little bits of my world which I can control. Cut roses in a vase. Nuggets of meat on a plate. My pet dog. I can close the blinds and burrow deep into my bed. Let the messiness of the spring happen without me. In the comfort of my home, I can pretend that I don’t live in a wild universe.

Still, I can feel them from here, moving in the brown soil. If I don’t ever go out there, I will wake up one fine morning in a house covered with weeds.

When is the fall coming back again?

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It’s funny–I’m thinking that to most progressives like me, Barack Obama’s presidency has been a bit of a struggle and a letdown. It’s my own fault. My expectations were way too high. It was hard not to get swept away in the idealism of the moment back in 2008. Reality could never live up to that, for so many reasons, whether because the President himself wasn’t gutsy enough or because the Republicans hated him too much. The presidency itself has become mired in so much nastiness–government shutdowns and gridlock and calls for secession and endless vitriol–that it’s difficult to recall that once upon a time, it was inspirational to watch this guy get elected.

So it’s been a little surreal to see Barack’s old slogan “Yes We Can” take on a life of its own on the international scene. The Prime Minister of India recently used #YesWeCan as a hashtag to solicit suggestions from citizens about how to improve the country. And the Spanish anti-austerity party, Podemos, has been chanting “Si Se Puede” at its marches. I suppose that for people in those countries, the phrase has not become soiled by our domestic political wrangling. Or maybe the world still loves a catchy American meme.

I find the Spanish left-wingers especially humorous. Watch out, if you keep chanting that, you might get a…paralyzed center-right government? Oh well, perhaps their willingness to protest will get them what we haven’t been able to achieve. The Europeans are pretty good about standing up for themselves when they feel their quality of life is being curtailed.

My personal aspirations for “Yes We Can” are a lot more humble than they used to be. “Yes We Can” elect someone other than Scott Walker to be the next President? Please?

My blogging friend nananoyz recently posted about giving up her Candy Crush addiction. Naturally, this brought to mind my own online obsession…

Every day, I tell myself that I will only spend a little bit of time on it. And every day, I end up scrolling down and down, down the Facebook newsfeed rabbit hole, getting sucked into that swamp of pop culture detritus and endlessly repeated memes. After a while, everything runs together…suggestive selfies and announcements of a death in the family…funny dog videos and petitions about animal torture…inspirational quotes and sad break-ups and Darth Vader toys and cocktails and people Liking each other and telling each other how beautiful and awesome and amazing they are in a giant skin-deep clusterfuck of momentary connections…I can’t stop to think about any of it anyway, because there is the next thing to see and the next…

An hour or so later, I surface again, my brain dulled, my eyes glazed over, my attention span shrivelled down to that of a fruit fly with ADD, so that I have a hard time focusing for the length of a stupid Taylor Swift song. “It’s okay. Tomorrow I’ll only a spend a few minutes on it.”

But the compulsion to shoot myself up with junk remains, and the Facebook dealer is always there, giving its goods away for free, tempting me with those shiny pictures and videos. What if I miss out on stuff? OMG! I have to check Facebook!

Lord knows, if I didn’t, I might actually end up caring about something important….