Category Archives: Original

Elitism and Confirmation Bias

Classism and elitism bring with them a whole set of blinders that people don’t know they have or don’t care they have. Elitism comes in many forms, from intellectual, dietary, monetary, bloodline, social class, race, religion, experience, politics, location, work, title, or simple arrogance. But what they have in common is the disdain of one or more other groups or people because they are less than in some way.
The owner of a company that considers his employees less than him and nothing more than cogs serving his wallet does not see a problem in his behavior. For him, his time is worth more and his skills are better because he deserves where he is for some reason. He may think he worked hard for it or has better breeding, or better education, or better skills. Sometimes he just thinks he is better and more worthy or obviously they would be where he is.
Recently I had dinner with a vegan group on the other side of town. The food was good and the people nice but several conversations reminded me of others I have had and I was struck once again by the inherent classism in many vegan groups. Maybe it’s the type that tend to form the groups but there is a blindness to the basic need for a reasonable amount of money to afford the ingredients to support a healthy diet or alternately the storage space and transportation to make your own alternatives. The idea that a Sam’r membership was out of my reach and that I share a small apartment with 4 strangers and no ac was beyond their comprehension. The expensive meat alternatives are simply not in my budget. I use mushrooms and other things when I can afford them but when I am offered a good, healthy free meal I accept meat or no meat. The snide comment that I would grow a better backbone as I grew older does not make me want to be rude to my friends or go hungry, it just assumes I have the funds to eat how I prefer.
As a gamer I interact with a lot of random people of all types and it is interesting to me how different the response is from active game groups to some things that other groups I deal with. Maybe because we are so mixed and we have a different perspective because of it. But at work I always get shocked or degrading comments about my neighborhood and how unsafe it is. Many of them are racist in nature but most are economic because I am near the low income housing in an inexpensive area. On the other hand when the group at game heard I walked to the game because I lived nearby the general response was jealousy because they loved the area and all the stuff available there. It was a completely opposite response and one based in a different perspective.
The same variance in views occurs in various groups I visit or interact with around the world. A lot of them fall into various forms of confirmation bias and the tendency to disregard information that does not agree with you. Sometimes I get the impression is is an arrogance based in fear of failure and weakness. Sometimes they genuinely think they are better and that is why they have more. Sometimes they don’t even realize they act that way.
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Cults and Memories

The past, mothers, religion, improv, and relationships are coming up a lot lately in a mesh of memories and reminders. Relationships are challenging when you have depression and social anxiety. Flashes of memories or just the feelings from the past can sweep over you when triggered and your mind is confused but your body is set in the reaction to something years long gone.
My family was very religious, restrictive, and poor. Unlike some of my siblings, I did not do home schooling at any point. I attended private religious schools. However, I was expected to follow my parents rules of dress, behavior, music, work, speech, and life and not participate in most of what my fellows at school did. Simultaneously being told I needed to be more open and friendly because I was shy and felt isolated from others I was expected not to integrate or enjoy the things they did. My clothes were a source of mockery, along with my speech impediments and that I wasn’t allowed the entertainments those around me shared.

I am a reader. I always have been a reader. But my choice of books was highly restricted. I read everything I was allowed multiple times, even the encyclopedias and dictionaries. But once my options opened when I left their home, I realized that despite the apparent attempts at a good education I was woefully lacking in knowledge, experience, and variety. I began to read a wide variety of books and materials and continue that to this day.

Each incident at school was the start of a chain of emotional events and trouble I knew to expect. In many ways, the expectation was worse than the series of punishments. The schools had orders to use swats for any offence they felt worthy, which is broad and covers most things including failing to turn in homework I completed but didn’t give them. I would ace a test and go to receive my swats for not doing the homework to prepare for the test I aced. Walking dejectedly to the office I knew it was only the first because when I got home I would would get a lecture separately from each parent and swats again from one of them.

Rarely did I do anything truly deserving of punishment because I had a very clear understanding of the consequence and reward ratio. I felt I had a hard enough time without adding extra issues for limited reward. Of course, that means when I did choose to do something the punishment was fairly pointless because I knew what it would be and chose to act anyway. I had already determined the risk to reward ratio was in my favor.

The lives around me were like another world to me that I watched from a distance without relating or fully understanding. From the girl whos parents dropped of hundreds for her to go shopping in the mall alone after school or to take her friends out to the kids sharing the newest dance moves in the halls I could not participate. I was quiet, shy, and introverted and places like a shared locker room were a terrifying thought. Numerous times I opted to accept detention for changing in the nearby restroom rather than endure mockery and embarrassment in the locker room. I also had it drilled into me not to undress in front of others so a locker room was a problem.

Conversations were hard because we shared nothing in common other than classes and those were mostly boring and too easy so I didn’t really pay attention. At some point there was always the risk conversation would veer toward my mother and her cancer, which was not something I wanted to discuss. Religious people would imply either that they were praying which was obviously not working or that if she actually had faith she would not be sick. The added issue that she was a test patient because we couldn’t afford treatment much less any extras or luxuries. I absolutely was unwilling to discuss where the food on our table came from because that was a mockery I knew I could not handle. How do you feed 7-10 people on $20 a week, sometimes more, sometimes less? The poor ladies of the church had a list of stores that discarded usable food and mom had an agreement to collect discarded vegetables for the horse. We sorted through the horses vegetables to see what could go on the tale first.

Many times I remember sitting in a parking lot while my mother composed herself or cried in the one place no one could see. After a horrifyingly degrading day trying to meet the needs of the family or accepting charity she would go home to dad’s anger and screaming rants about anything and everything. She would go home to 2 children in constant medical car and her own terrifying medical care. She would go home to the holes in the floor and walls and the car held together by duct ape and wood. She would go home to watch me cower from dad’s anger and my brothers acting out. Failing that we would go to church, where we spent more evening than not to be told how we were all sinners and needed to give more, do more, be more, bring in more people, and earn a place. We went to the church where I was yet again alone and mocked and here knew the question of my families lack of faith and why they were poor and sick would come up. I knew there would be taunts and often physical confrontation. These happened at school but more consistently at the churches.

Each service I listened then as mom taught me I went home and studied. I read their books and teachings. These always led to questions that if I asked someone other than my parents resulted in something to the effect of me being a girl child that should learn my place and be silent and do as I was told. Years of memorization and reading led me to no other conclusion than the religion was a compounded grouping of modifications stolen from older teachings and chosen by various leaders in the worst periods of history to best control, dominate, and instill fear. It is a religion based on fear and control. It is a religion that teaches the only reason to be a good person is to avoid punishment not because it is right. Each test of the history I was taught led to the inescapable conclusion they had manipulated the teaching to show a lie and manipulate the views of the children they took into their care.

What I saw from the outside was a cult that manipulated participants to view the world through a filter and with careful blinders. They were trying for the isolation of those in the retreats but in the city so they could better raw more people.

My mother was a brilliant and strong woman trapped in a world that treated women as a lower level being. She did all the work for a doctorate but was denied the degree because she was a woman at a baptist college. She was a writer and a researcher by nature, a leader and communicator but denied the right to lead, teach, research, or speak freely. The man was the head of the household and the wife was expected to follow him, obey him, accept his behavior, and not question or attempt to teach men. With permission a woman could teach other women or children but that would be shut down if they questioned her teachings or behavior outside class. Children were under her rule but punishments were the prerogative of the man, as were the rules she was to teach. Girls were expected to be obedient, submissive, silent, and learn the proper behaviors of a good wife. I refused to learn any wifely duties at every step, only many years later learning some of them were fun skills when used for your own pleasure or business rather than in service to a master.

Abecedarian Collection

This first one can also be seen on Writers digest in the forum https://www.writersdigest.com/prompts/abecedarian
Writing our Minds (A Poem in 27 Lines)
Abnormalities are the normal place for writers who
Began their path through experiences and stories.
Cars provide a private space to tell a story to yourself
Doing nothing but the composting of the writing process.
Eaters of experience we reach
Frankly for the reality of the world
Going inside our minds and stories to find the
Hero that can touch our heart and expand our world.
Indigo or blue we wonder as we debate our use of
Jargonistic phrases and obscure terms.
Kelp waves gently under the surface of the ocean like our stories.
Limbs on a tree reach for the sun and we see
Money and industry, life and lovers, history and future
Naively seeing the tree and all that happens under it like an
Orifice opening to show us glimpses of life with pains and
Paeans that ring out in our minds both loud and
Quiet in their passion.
Radicals and racists
Sadly showed their violence in those branches.
Tall in the night the tree remembers lovers sprawled
Under the sheltering canopy of leaves.
Vassals shared their meals under these branches.
Wind blew across teachers and students in the afternoon sun.
Xenophyles, we reach across the world through the leaves of a tree.
Yielding ourselves to the stories told in the wind and the bark we
Zone out of reality and into our pen.

The Bus to Work

Around 6 am I leave my room and catch a
Bus rattling and jerking its passengers to their jobs and homes.
Casual observers see people bored and irritated
Deep in their own spaces, phones, needs, and fears.
Examination shows otherwise.
Friendships are made on the bus.
Groups share space each day of their lives.
Haphazard groupings linked by shared routs.
Individuals that know the daily habits and patterns of the others.
Just as they know idiosyncrasies and dreams of their bus rout companions.
Kindness to strangers vies with the need for distance in confined space.
Languid tourists join the groups in passing and roll luggage down the aisle.
Mild mannered introverts read or watch the city pass.
Noisy extroverts converse across the aisle and over the seats.
Obvious homeless clutch their possession and warily watch
People passing too close for their comfort.
Quickly passing stops keep the flow of conversation new and fresh.
Respect for personal space varies by need as the bus fills.
Strangers stand shoulder to shoulder and smile awkwardly.
Tense individuals try for isolated seats and physical barriers.
Unnecessary anger surges when paranoia threatens.
Very patient strangers step in to sooth or eject ruffled emotions.
Wide gaps of experience and lives interact in a tourist city bus.
Xylocarp smells waft from lotions, lunches, drinks, and grocery bags.
Yes, the bus is a microcosm of society interacting and living together.
Zonal interactions confined to a movable space within society.
2019
Analysis
Becomes
Cultural
Dissonance.
Empty
Fabricated
Geoeconomics
Hurl
Intoxicating
Justifications.
Kneejerk
Lies
Manipulating
Nakedly
Opportunistic
People
Quickly
Retelling
Stories.
Tenuous
Unrelenting
Victimization
Worsens
Xenophobic
Yearning
Zealots.

Tea at 1024 Nuuanu

Teacups all around me in rows, in stacks, and in random groups. Cups, saucers, teapots of all sizes teeter and sit. Music, not exactly quiet but that feels quiet and helps mask the sounds of others around me. I feel alone in a small teashop waiting for slow steep tea and an afternoon teatray.
Flowers, hats, and patterned teacups surround me in a soothing comfort like Alice falling gently down the rabbit hole. Some are tied to their saucers to keep them together, like they might run away or leap off the shelf. One set is a saucer and small teapot with no cup. It reminds me of the women with saucers of tea in historic novels rather than cups of tea because it cooled quickly with no unmannerly blowing. An orange pot pops out at the eye in front of a jar of shells. A tray of blue and yellow teabags perches behind a music stand, slightly masking a set of tiny tins. Clear glass teapots rise in an acceding row on an old sewing machine. On the top shelf one pot perches precariously on the handle of another.
I ordered the vegetarian afternoon tea. An adorable tea timer with three sand clocks to determine strength arrives right before a fresh salad in a teacup. After that, hte tray of bite sized bits lands in front of me and each piece is new flavor. Each thing was excellent and perfectly balanced with the others. The rich, creamy chocolate in a thick layer on a chocolate brownie is two bites of chocolate bliss. Perfectly spiced jackfruit in a fresh wrap is a bright tasting bite of pleasure countered by one of the 2 tiny scones with clotted cream.
Because I came late, the lavender scone is slightly stiff but the flavor is good and the cream softens it. The tray is set perfectly to alternate one savory to one sweet until done. Music, mostly instrumental opera soothes the experience. Friendly staff tries hard to keep up with the busy flow of people that enter and settle in for a long tea. I watch them setting up a tea party and greeting guests both planned and unplanned as I enjoy my tea.
Creamy kimchee bites are a surprise for a tea tray but are a fine counter to the sweet bites. It is creamy and flavorful but gentle and sits well. Each piece on the tray is two to three bites and all quite different from each other.
A creepy antique porcelain doll in a crochet dress looks down on my table. Soft fuzzy, sheep like chairs cushion me. Beaming little girls look wide eyed at all the cups, pots, hats, and accessories. A flash of bright blue eucalyptus stands tall on the top shelf.
My host was unwilling to serve inferior tea and recommended I alter my selection because upon review they had a bad batch of my first choice. Their attention to detail is part of the experience. You choose your cup and a hat and sit inside or out to have tea alone or with companions. They don’t intrude but are there to keep things flowing. When I finished my tea she refilled it with more water to re-steep the leaves.

A tall wicker dress form stands elegant by the eucalyptus, reaching for the ceiling. Butterfly wings hide in the next room. Tall silver candlesticks hold large pillars of white on the top shelf I see through the window into the next room.
The sweet clotted cream flavor lingers soothing my pallet as I take in my surroundings. A precariously tilted tray of stacked cups, saucers, and pots stand secure beside a running girl in blue. Glints of glass and silver sparkle around me. I can almost hear the dormouse in the large blue and white teapot. My red pot is as round as the queen’s skirts beside my sleek white cup with swirls like the white queen twirling and swishing away. One tiny tea set stands on a tiny cake stand that would hold a mini cupcake.
The berry cheesecake bowl like a tiny trifle and the storybook chocolate brownie square that is half creamy rich chocolate sit in my memory and taste buds as a girl in her pink hat counts teapots in the throne like window seat. I sit and enjoy a second pot of tea to settle my snacks and sweets.

At the back of the restaurant a door opens to a very Victorian hall comprising the passage to the restrooms, the stairwell, the entry to the kitchens, the doorway to the courtyard seating, and a couple work areas in the back. In the bathroom, tiny tiles sit under your feet as you stand at the old, low sinks that are from another time.This place is a quiet retreat from modern reality with soothing tea, foods, and simple environment.

https://www.teaat1024.net/

Balance of Justice

As with every other thing that has come up recently in need of evaluation, meditation, consideration, action, or writing I find everything I read this week is tending toward justice, balance, and how relationships fare within. The recuring theme has been one of the need and requirement for balance for there to be justice and the imposition of justice. News has stories on the topic. Public demonstrations demand justice and a more balanced approach to issues. One book talks about a created entity enforcing justice but failing to head the balance and the destruction it causes. Another focuses on a god that renders justice when no other justice is availible or done and that requires a balance in his judgments. Another talked briefly about the historical divine female justice. As I meditate and try to settle my mind and emotions to know what to speak and how to act in the strugles in my own life I find myself wanting justice. Balance has always been a prime goal in my life but I fear I have of late lost that balance and cannot clearly see what balance would be justice.
What is justice in a relationship? It justice what we want in a relationship? Without it accountability is questioned and trust is eroded when there is need for it. Balance becomes a critical part of the equation when you are talking personal level issues. But no portion of our life is lived in a vacume and each impacts not only each other but our emotions, thoughts, and ability to deal with the others. Stress with friends and stress at work make home life more difficult. Add in that home life may be seperate from the relationship issues and there is another layer of question. Can you evaluate the balance of justice when you are in the middle of the maelstrom?

I speak of living alone, far from any frineds and from my husband but in truth I rent a room sharing an apartment with four other women. I am never really alone. My space is a room that shares walls with my neighbors. My work is a desk open to all and with a camera on me at all times. My volunteer hours are spent across the window from the supervisor. I travel the city on a crowded bus. I meditate in a group. I write in a group. I swim on beached full of locals and tourists. I game in a group. I share my kitchen and every space I live in with strangers. The distance often feels greater because so many strangers are always so close to hand. No one close to me is close to me. If I returned today to Texas this would not improve however. I would have space but I would have no more close companions. Family is a distant thing without my mother and marriage is a strange uncertainty hovering above an ocean we have yet to cross.
When you give up everything in your life to move to a new and uncertain life you act on a choice to accept uncertainty and lonliness for at least a time. When you do so in a relationship but find yourself alone anyway it is a difference of gradiation. How many times do you let someone hurt you before you step away? Do you let them prove they can change if they make it clear they are opposed to people changing and don’t believe people can change? How do balance and justice affect the situation? When fear has stalked you for years it becomes the overriding sense of the world. Every action is tinged with the fear that it will be the one to cost you something critical from job or home to friend or husband. Sometimes you fight to protect those things even though they are already lost because you can’t accept the loss of another thing.

But by the same token has the fear colored your judgment of things so you cannot make a balanced judgment? Stess wears you down and damages your health. After a while you are tired, sore, sick, and afraid all the time and reaching out of it alone becomes a Herculean effort that becomes almost sisepheyan. Doing so alone, without even friends is something I would not wish on anyone. I am not the type to wish ill on others anyway as that is against my sense of balance and peace. I have for some years now striven to live in the balanced and clear understanding of Buddhism. Though I did not entirely give up my Child of the Trickster place it took some time to understand that the same balance is required for both. It is not contraditory to be a pacifist that will fight to protect what is right in the same way as it is not contraditory to stand with the chaotic trickster and be a voice of peace and balance from them. The trickster has always served the good of humanity and balance over the rules and other gods. Knowing yourself and touching the divine spirit it part of the path. But what of justice and depression?
The idea of depression on either path has always been a problem for me. For a long time it made me more depressed because I was sure it was wrong to be depressed and be on this path. But at some point in my meditations I realized that it just is. It isn’t right or wrong or something to do with me but it is just depression. Depression can be a physical thing that needs addressing. Which I have, admittidly not had checked. It can also be a response to stimuli and this will abate when the stimuli does. In truth both external and internal, they are both stimuli and can be addressed not as a personal flaw and internal identification but rather as a state that must be acknowledged and seen for what it actually is not for the excess impacts it causes.
So too, justice is not my choice and action. I have no control of those things. I can act with equinamity and balance and maintain justice in myself but I cannot control others and their impacts on the world. I can see their impact on me and what is my response but I cannot change their action. I can choose to exclude them from my sphere of influence and I can withdraw my trust from them but I cannot make them act as if my path is theirs. But can we have a relationship with those of a drastically different path? In some cases yes. and in others less so.

remembering that enlightenment is a moment to moment thing and not a permenant state of being helps. I am not striving to be in the perfect state, I am balancing myself in this moment. I am aware of now and of life and am striving to reach the state of peace and calm acceptance I remember from what feels like a great distance. It is the point I have for reference at this time. It seems like so long ago I moved off my path and lost that balance but that I still know the feeling tells me it is not out of reach. But also it tells me that depression is a moment to moment thing as well. I do not need to be confused by the drastically different feelings or thoughts that come across me because all things are moment to moment. We do not live in tomorow or yesterday, in this evening or morning but we live in now. If I can accept that at this moment tears threaten to spill and accept in another moment that rage consumes me then I can accept those moments I am at peace just the same. Why does it seem harder to accept the reality of those moments and allow them to be without analysis and disruption? Is there something in all of us that rejects that or is it the fear and depression? I think it is a lot of things wrapped into our ego trying to maintain control however destructive the path it pushes us onto.

Alone

Living alone in a city I have only been back in for a couple months I joined several groups to keep active and around people, and to hopefully make some new friends. But sometimes it is really hard to get out the door and join a group of people and smile and be social. Usually I feel better after, if very tired. Social activities leave me tired and both drained and restored.
This week has been a particularly challenging one for that. I am not ready to face my emotions and thoughts around the insight and choices in front of me. Writing has been difficult and drawing just hasn’t happened. Sometimes I am very calm because I did find the insight I needed. but often I’m just numb.

I spent today playing video games. I don’t do that often, it’s a waste of time. But I just couldn’t get myself ready for a group. If the morning one hadn’t cancelled I would have gone to coffee with them but after that…it just wasn’t happening.
I’m not upset anymore, not right now. I have a life to live and anyone that wants to be a part of it knows where I am. But I am remarkably grateful I am here in the place I chose and have the ability to wait it out. I can be at peace while I work through the thoughts and emotions and act when ready. In the meantime , I am living again not just surviving.
Money is short and I am lonely but I am active, doing things I enjoy and things I believe in, I am working, I am growing things, and I have a room to live in that is clean and simple. I game, volunteer, cook, swim in the ocean, read, sew, meet people, and meditate. It is enough to live and I will recover.

Weight

What do you say when your emotions have given up trying to keep up and you are just tired? It is hard to write and hard to think beyond the basic tasks in front of you. Your mind hovers, not stopped but unwilling to
touch the items pending and straining like a weighted cloud over you. The world around you is heavy and distant like you are working through a perfectly clear morass. Nothing directly hurts but your body aches like you have just finished a hard
day of martial training and bruised and strained everything. You aren’t sad or angry because that would focus on it and take an effort you just can’t muster. Motivation drains away like someone pulled the drain plug and if you manage to think of things to do it is a constant effort to actually do them.
Numbness is much worse than sadness or anger. Numbness comes
after the pain and anger and saps you of the strength of will to do something
about it. You know what is happening. You know what you need…well sometimes you do. The problem is you can’t pin it down and act on it. Even focusing on the thought is like holding a giant jelly ball that won’t be still. You feel the wrong size for the world around you and like you are moving the wrong speed. Your hair feels wrong and the world sounds too far away.

These are often times you don’t recognize yourself in the
mirror or can’t think of things about yourself. Good things bring a moment of light or lifted weight but it can’t hold it off you long enough to get free. Certainty that things are going wrong or will go wrong grows and the thought is more resigned than warning. Someone that normally stand up to anything and can go through anything can be stopped in their tracks by this weight of
depression. These are the ones least prepared for it and least sure how to
cope. Most likely there is an actual physical component that should be treated involved but they are very unlikely to seek the help they need.

We need to speak for what is right.

They say nothing happens you can’t handle. Bullshit. That’s right up there with everything happens for a reason or god is testing you because he loves you. No. People can heal, they can recover but they can’t always handle what happens. a lot if what happens is because people don’t care about the other beings on the planet are are selfish and self righteous. and if you think a god is ordering your life and testing you with a bad relationship then you believe that same god is starving millions and torturing people around the world. That selfish and egocentric view is killing society.
Life is often hard. it isn’t right. It isn’t fair. But it is. we should try to make things better because it’s the right thing to do not because it helps us. When we ignore the beatings next door because it isn’t our business or ignore wrongful imprisonment because they are the other we are wrong.

There isn’t always something we can do but the choice to ignore it and accept it is the problem. The choice to agree is worse.

Connection

It seems every time I write lately what I write about comes up in what I read the next day and what I read about comes up in the talks at meditation. Not the topic and action that I start on, the deeper parts.
Today I wrote about a moment that changed everything. The story meandered through the past and the memories of my husband and moments of impact.

It ended with a thought about his calm acceptance of what everyone sees as my sudden decisions. I was trying at one point to explain how they aren’t really sudden even if they are. After leaving the Lanai to catch the bus home I went back to reading.

The chapter I read was The Third Thing. It talks about this very topic. That when you are torn between two things you need a third thing. Two things is not a choice. But a third will come and balance things out, offering the way forward. It appears sudden but it is the culmination of the process that the two things created.

my first meditation session with this group they talked about dealing with intense emotions and sadness. I cried on the way there and going to sleep for several nights before.
The next time we talked about what is and the whole talk meshed into what I read the days before. I had been reading Writing Down the Bones. The idea of using writing meditation as a path to not following the thoughts and emotions when sitting meshed interestingly into the talk about sitting.
The last thing I read before one session was that a well that dashes about cannot draw water. We cannot do happiness, it flows through us in our stillness. I was a few minutes late and sat in stillness with the group. She talked about ending suffering and sharing love. We talked about enlightenment being a moment to moment thing not a permanent state. The balance of mind, and the four keys. She talked about the calm acceptance of what comes that you feel in enlightenment.
Saturday we sat on the ridge through the day. I was at a crossroads in my mind and emotional state. I had one of those two choices that need a third way. I didn’t realize that is what I needed. But in stillness I found a moment of peace and acceptance of what is. it didn’t change the situation but it let me see what is and reach a new possibility.

I went to the meditation Sunday lonely and sad but more at peace. Leaving , when she hurried over, obviously she had somewhere to be she was putting off, to give me a flower it struck a light in me. I’m not alone even if I have no close connection here. We are all one and connected. It is enough.

I don’t know what now but I do know I will be here for it.

Cooking

I love to cook. I love the ingredients, the flavors, the smells, the history, and the tastes. I spread my ingredients out and chop and prep running several dishes at a time until I have a meal or several meals ready. My goals are to have good food within a certain flavor profile for as many servings as I need and to have no ingredient waste if possible. I try to prepare lunch for several days and take the remainders for my meal that evening I prepare them. I want colors and flavors textures and scents. Food starts when you smell it and see it and the richness of the flavor is increased by the richness of the colors, scents, and texture. Some things I love the flavor of do have troublesome smells or textures but they are worth it.
I really learned to cook here in Hawaii the first time I lived here. Obviously, since I was in my 30s I did cook prior to that. But food wasn’t the same kind of interest. There were times I worked hard to prepare and learn complicated dishes and meals but I didn’t’ really understand them. I didn’t understand flavor profiles, cultural distinctions, the historical and cultural reasons certain dishes are what they are, why some substitutions work one place and not another. I loved good food but had not yet developed the love of ingredients, history, cooking, and the rich value of food and sharing food.
After I moved back to the mainland I had a really hard time adapting to what was available in stores. They are the usual things to people there and to many of the dishes I ate but not to how I learned to relate to food. Since I have returned here I find myself once again enjoying my time picking vegetables in China town or visiting the various stores I love to find ingredients at. I am coming back in to the pleasure of just cooking something because I want to not just so I can feed my family. I don’t come home too tired to think about cooking or to a kitchen I am unwilling to cook in. The kitchen here is small but clean and decently stocked with pans and needs.
Now I buy a few ingredients and spread them out to prep. I can take a couple vegetables, a protein (today it was tofu and mushrooms), a base like starch or purple sweet potatoes or kamut, and whatever I happen to have in my cabinet for spicing and flavor extras to create a series of different dishes for the week. Each is put into it’s container and sealed for the freezer and a bit is put on my plate for dinner. I spent $7 today and made dinner and 4 lunches by adding rice I made while I ate lunch and some spices from my cabinet.
I love that feeling when I finish eating something really good and know I have several meals ready for lunch in the freezer and when I look back to check the kitchen it is clean and ready for the next person with no sign I have been in there. I had only a few vegetable tips to discard and I could use those for broth if I had a way to store them.

Last week my flavors were mostly Italian leaning and this week they are more Thai or like those you see in Buddha bowl recipes. The week before I made each one different (to be able to do that with the same few ingredients pleases me.) Sometimes I have an ingredient I don’t know the name of because all the signs were in Chinese. I have used some of them many times and am familiar with them even if I don’t know what to call them. Others are new and that is always fun. I have learned usually to tell how to substitute or how to cook/prep something new by examining it.
I love food and cooking. Good food is calming and pleasant to enjoy. The ingredients have a history and a story. They are connected to cultures, people, and history of our lives. These foods rose out of cultures and impacted the changes in cultures. Food are the foundation of sharing and communication in many situations. They can be a way to connect or smooth interactions. Food is important and it is a foundation of society.

An Office Divide.

Politics, the great divider. It is interesting that the thing designed to run our society and equitably distribute power is seen in people’s minds as a way to control power and ensure their way which they know is the only right way is done. People argue and discuss, fight and work without hearing one another or understanding the reasons.

Compromise is not always the
answer, often you cannot compromise and move forward. When you continuously compromise with one that is extremely wrong you move gradually closer to that wrong. The person with the destructive plan may have other good concepts and desires, may care for their family and friends, may stand as a beacon in some things. None of that in any way changes a destructive or hateful trait that must not be allowed to dominate a society.

Early morning discussions of politics in the office almost always devolve into arguments and disagreements that fall back on irrelevant statements that misdirect from the discussion and inflame responses by sounding taunting and snide. That does not lead to understanding but people are not trying to understand they are trying to win. Politics is about wining and it is reaching into every area of life.

Outside the team is working too hard to have these discussions unless they do it on lunch. But in the office you hear these most days. The same men that talk about wanting to hang a basketball court to prove to the crew that they are better at physical stuff because they can play a sport and entertain themselves with sports all day bring that same mindset into a political or racial discussion. The boss that firmly believes each race can be categorized and slotted into a work and skill level will argue politics on any topic with no regard for human decency because in his mind they are the other. Throwing fallacies, irrelevancies, and false information into arguments is common in discussions and it prevents any of them from actually becoming a
discussion.
Living in Texas religion and politics were intricately tied together and one rarely was discussed without the other. Here in Hawaii it is different. Not that people’s religion does not affect their political stances but discussions are different and even when directly opposed there is often a smile in the voice and an underlying knowledge this is someone I like even if we disagree. One man in my office is incredibly religious and blatant about it. His religious stance is drastically different than mine but unlike the similar stance people I was around in small town Texas, here we not only get along well and work together but we only discuss it when on non-confrontational topics. There is a customer that is of an opposing faith that brings it up on most calls and
insists there is religious discrimination happening. The interesting point is that none of us knew his religion until he started doing that and we never discuss religion in the office.
I often have lunch with the crew working the warehouse that day and discussions with them are about life, working, playing, the island, families, and what we are doing to earn money on the side. We discuss the future and our goals. We discuss how people eat and live and the cost of living. Politics is a side note that is discussed only as how it impacts people. Religion isn’t discussed often. Some of the office people understand that and discuss it with an attempt at balance and compassion but that can be a challenge.

This is the difference, politics as a discussion or power or politics as a discussion of impact.

Just writing

Chill air from the AC feels like it is cooling my bones in my bare arms. The odd wavering drone of the long flat ceiling mounted unit above my head can be felt in my head where the pressure from the back of my neck is trying to produce a migraine. The first thing I do on arrival is reach
up and lift the vent to direct more of the air away from my desk. I didn’t move to Hawaii to be cold. Pulling on my hoodie the soft fuzzy interior brushes my arms lightly with a silky softness that doesn’t really match the heavy grey exterior. Staying on track when writing has been a challenge so I have started using the Shut Up and Write group as a place to do writing exercises and practice just writing or specific skills in writing. Some of them I post here, some of them I don’t. My primary goal write now is to write, and when that isn’t happening, to draw. I practice tones, descriptions, PoV, and styles. I practice topics, timing, speed, focus, freeform, and themes.
I get the exercises from writing magazines, talking to writers, reading books about writing or comments from writers, a few came from online. Some are hugely helpful, some just keep me writing. I am once again
building a collection of scenes and moments, thoughts and characters, lines and stories that are swirling in the back of my head trying to become a coherent story. Like Sir Pratchett talked about it is still like standing on a mountain looking across a valley and seeing only the highest peaks as you slowly lower the clouds and reveal more and more spots until the whole valley is cleared and coherent. I have a sense of it but it isn’t clear to my coherent mind yet.
The light in this room is adequate but dimmer than it seems. When you enter from good light you see the off tinted dingy feeling light that lends the old white walls a greater age than they have. Highlights in grey and tan increase this rather than combat the sense of tired efficiency. A quiet competence fills the space but radios and videos play here and there, competing for attention from a group that each has different interest and taste. A mix of rushed immediacy, detail specific, and relaxed tolerance pervades the workspace with a tension born of loose structure blending with OCD details. A need for a constant inflow of cash means an urgency touches everything and errors are a risk so the tolerance may be natural but it is pressed back out of necessity.
Doing more, being more places, being around more people, seeing more things – all of this feeds my writing. When I hide in a hole and see no one I can’t write. Writing for me is visceral in a way that requires experience and sensation. The feel of the sun as I walked down the hill from my car to the office at the garden was a pure experience that inspired a myriad of sensations and thoughts, memories and questions. Watching the people swarm at the intersections in Waikiki with their chattering noise and bright colors like
plumage of birds on display inspires amusement, observation, stories, loneliness, comfort, anxiety, and memories. The birds diving out of the tree for bugs in quick short swoops reminds me of the kittens learning to hunt and the bees moving between flowers. Each thing is a host of trains and streams of consciousness that arise from the scent, the sound, the colors, the pattern, the words, and
the moment.

Why do I Write ?

Today, another writing exercise. This is a sort of stream of consciousness based on what is around me and a question. It is unedited and random.

Why do I write? That is an interesting question, and one I
am not certain I can fully answer. I write to express myself. I write to get
the words out. I write to remember. I write to describe. I write to share. I
write to heal. I write because writing is part of who I am. I am not writing
but writing is and writing is happening. As Writing the Bones said “writing is
writing.
The sun is out. The ac is on. Heat wraps around you with a
wet blanket. It isn’t hot like I remember as a child. The stifling, heavy heat
that press on you and pushes tendrils into you sapping all your energy is
pervasive in Texas and Louisiana. The damp heavy air makes the heat oppressive
as it nears or passes 100 degrees. Mosquitoes and gnats swarm and bite causing
you to bleed and itch into your dripping sweat. Plants wilt in the sun and
often in the shade. You can’t water during the day or you burn them but you
have to water or many plants will die from the heat and dehydration. This same
dehydration will hit you if you spend to much time out in it when hiking,
working, camping, walking, or playing. People frequently fail to notice just how
dehydrated they are. In some areas the dry air draws the moisture out of you. In
others the heavy, wet humidity causes you to sweat it out.

A pounding echoes through the shop as the crew loads and
unloads materials and preps those that need pre-assembly or dismantling. Hearing
the sound outside the glass door my mind tries to picture what they are doing
and what equipment they are working with. I am uncertain what crew is here
today, although I have seen several of them coming in for equipment or paperwork.
Having taken the time to get a tour of the shop I know what equipment we supply
and assemble here. It helps me to follow the calls and conversations around me
if I know the materials we are working with. Having grown up on construction
sites and reading blueprints all the details make sense but the names are a
blur and a mystery. I don’t remember names. I remember the sounds of metal
alloys as they are worked or hammered. I remember the sounds or the specific
tools. I remember the smell of sawn wood and how the acrid touch of arsenic
touches the treated boards lending a different smell than the white pine or the
rich cedar smell.

Image and Bias

Like many other authors, my writing is often inspired by
what I am reading or by the people around me. One of the books I am reading
right now is
A Slip of the Keyboard
by Sir Terry Pratchett. Of the many tangents it inspired, one is how others see
each of us and how we build our views of others. How I see myself is its own
conundrum but reading this book and
Finding
Mary Foster
brought to mind the many varied ways I am viewed by others,
both those I know and those I do not.
Some people have a particular image they want to put forth
for others, like playing to an audience. Others have a mold or image they
strive to fit into. Unconscious or not most people have an idea or image of what
they should be. Inherently this implies they have an idea what others should be
as well.

What are the triggers that create and build the internal
stories you have about those around you? Clothing is a major social marker and
is the first point of information in many instances. They are an indication in people’s
minds of a person’s sense of style, their social status or standing, their
interests, personal and grooming habits, financial status, origin or home
region, connection a person may have, and sometimes their religion. These
images and indications may be completely inaccurate but they are typically
automatic and impact our interactions. Some people have an image of what other
things imply about a person and their background based on skin color, gender,
hair, eyes, voice, or mannerisms.

Depending how and where we met, you may have a very
different view of me than someone else. I am naturally quiet, introverted,
adaptable, passionate, generally untrusting but very trusting of those I am
close to, compassionate, and interested in learning and growth. I am aware of
some images of me, such as those that find me cold, distant, angry, and harsh.
On the other end you have those that find me open, caring, trustworthy,
compassionate, and quiet. On another range you have those that find me eager to
learn, intelligent, thoughtful, practical, and diligent compared to those that
find me flighty, uninformed, brash, talkative, and uncaring.
If I am viewed on such a broad scale as loquacious and brash
in one corner and silent and shy in another what purpose is served by me
worrying about my image? It is of interest though. As a gamer I am accustomed
to roles and displaying an image in short sessions. The idea of being a
different person for different needs is not hard to understand.
When someone enters a room in an expensive, tailored suit
people tend to respond differently and treat them differently than the one
entering in shorts or the one in a mini skirt. Their memory of each person
tends to be colored by the clothes as well. Consider, each of those
descriptions gave you an image of someone didn’t it? It was likely more
complete than just the clothes really give you reason to know. Play a game with
me for a minute or two.

Take each of those outfits in turn and create a brief story
showing a person of different origins, social classes, and put both more than
one gender in each role. How does your image change?

We each live many roles in life. In many ways we are a
different person for each. However, none of these roles define us or are
actually separate. What they define is the view others have of us and maybe how
we contain the needs of our lives. This could bother us or it can inform us. We
can learn to notice our own reactions and stories we build about others.
Perhaps we aspire to be the same in all our roles but perhaps we do not. That
choice is personal and is a point of growth or awareness we may not all be
striving for. But not judging others on a biased view or opinion of minor
factors.
On the other hand there will always be some words, actions,
and patterns of behavior that are incompatible with our own standards or
beliefs. That one item may be the foundation for a judgment of exclusion. We
should always strive to not base judgment on invariables such as physical
traits, medical issues, orientation, place of origin, or gender. We may be
unlikely to completely remove bias but that does not mean we accept it in
ourselves or others. I have no interest in associating with hate, control,
violence, or divisiveness. These are variable traits and chosen actions and beliefs.

Return with me to the images of the people entering a room.
Take each individual of each gender from each story and picture them
demonstrating extremes of emotion and behavior such as hat, kindness,
professionalism, laziness, fear, love, open mindedness, and closed mindedness.
Now, after all that, when I step back and say someone in a tailored suit,
someone in shorts, and someone in a skirt enter the room what is your mental
image? Has it changed? Do you get one image or a series of varied ones? Have
the colors changed?

Distance

Distance. My last post was the distance of those that lost their place. This is about distance within society and relationships. Sometimes we feel distant from someone we see every day. Other times we feel close to someone at a great physical distance. Other than a few nieces, nephews and cousins I am distant from my family. For years some of us lived in the same area but we rarely saw one another and after mother died we were increasingly distant. My husband and I are physically very distant but we talk every day and text all the time, we are not distant. We don’t have the emotional distance that is the standard in my family or his. My job is new so there is a natural distance of strangers that must be together every day and interact on a proscribed pattern. My roommates are each in their own worlds with little contact between us. We are distant in a whole different way.
Having moved back here again I feel the great distance to the mainland friends. However, when we lived in the same state we all worked and rarely saw each other. So, is the physical distance the source of that distance? Recent years have brought a new battle, with depression. That is part of the distance. Social anxieties and my natural introvert tendencies are also factors. My distance is often of my own devising and probably often in my own mind.
Crowds have always been difficult, sometimes to the point of physical pain or illness. I don’t make friends well, so moving many times, often great distances, allowed my circle to shrink from small to near non-existence. When you don’t make the casual friends most people have, you tend to have fewer but closer friends. To suddenly realize they consider the outsider and casual acquaintance you feared you are is not so much a shock as a blow. You are not surprised but you don’t know where it leaves you.

Gaiman at one point says that events are cowards. Like events, stresses tend to leap out at you all at once rather than one at a time. We all have stress and problems. How many can add up before you feel like you are being killed by the death of a thousand paper cuts while a mountain falls on you.

Many people add a little distance to those around them when a major stressor hits. By the same token some people distance themselves from people undergoing large amounts of stress. When debt becomes a problem or their marriage is strained that may become a verboten topic and one less thing friends are party to. A fight at work or uncomfortable relationships there are another type of stressor. Illness, auto problems, children, family, sick pets, trouble with neighbors, natural disasters, fear, debt, lost of income, each thing adds up a little or a lot and affects you and those around you. Each thing adds distance somewhere.
When work stresses you out and you come home angry it affects your family. Each thing adds to or changes the distance somewhere. Often that distance is more inside you than outside or it is in response to the changes in your behavior. But that distance feeds the fear, depression, anger, and pain. Distance creates distance.

Okay, so I feel distant and far from friends. But, as I settle back into the peace of living here where I choose to be I can admit that the distance is no greater here than it was anywhere else. I can allow myself to admit the distance is my own pain, social anxiety, and fear of being hurt more. Recognizing that allows me to acknowledge when I am creating a distance that I choose not to develop and to change my actions and reactions, thus breaking the triggers and changing the stories. The distance here is the same in every meaningful way as it was there but I am taking action in my responses.
Distance in society and relationships is a constantly changing thing with each layer and interconnected connection flowing with changes in the others. Our work life impacts our emotional state and our energy levels. What we eat, read, enjoy, and where we go affects our relationships and energy levels. I quit drinking and found my circle of active friends changed because we had different interests and pastimes. When stress levels are too high I find it hard to maintain the social connections that could help my mental state. But all of those things are also impacted by the many facets of the lives of each other person involved.
We live in a web of constantly changing distance that is as much internal as external.

Neverwhere and Distance

Taking the bus to work allows a lot of time to read. One of my books this week is Neverwhere. I am reading it again for a book club but it has been a favorite for years. One idea has especially stuck with me for years. That is how easily one falls from society and how hard it can be to return.
On the streets near my place you see a lot of homelessness. Mostly people ignore them, avoid them, and fear them. I often wonder why. What is it their fear? Sometimes I wonder if part of it is the fear they could easily be in that position themselves. Does it feel contagious or dangerous to get to close or acknowledge them? This is part of the the idea in Neverwhere. The act of acknowledging them, of helping them causes him to lose his place in society and fall through the cracks into the city under the city.
I understand this. Over the years I have spent a lot of time with homeless in many cities. There is a distance, a sense of separation from society that feels insurmountable. Being there either with them or as one of them you feel like you are in another world, a harsh and dangerous world far removed from the life you so recently knew. People rushing by have no connection to you and look down with a demeaning disdain and fear of contamination. Parents pull children away like you will eat them or infect them. Women move across the street like you are a threat to their safety.

By contrast, living in the high rise and living on the farm were vastly different from each other but they are connected. There is a pleasant and casual hostility between the sections within society, a rivalry of place and meaning. It is vastly different than the alien world underneath that none of them want to acknowledge.

The department head at one job asked the group how many of us were 1 or 2 checks from being homeless. Less than 5% could say no and most of those shared expenses with families. Working every day, many with multiple jobs, most with two or more family earners, many in school, most sharing expenses, yet we all lived paycheck to paycheck. Each of us knew that we needed every single check just to survive.

When that is always in the back of your mind (And how could it not be niggling at you to some extent) you see those homeless and know that you are one injury, illness, pregnancy from being where they are. Maybe the fear isn’t fear of them but fear of our economy and society that will not protect those on the edges. Would your friends be there if you went on the street? Would they blame you for being lazy or understand what happened? Would they help or would the distance grow? Would you be able to let them help or would your shame increase that distance?
I volunteer at a public garden and many people walk there or take the bus. Nearby is a walking underpass everyone avoids and says is unsafe. But the only reason anyone has ever given is that the homeless sleep there and need to have regular purges by the city. Daily I see homeless people. They are desperate, hungry, dirty, often broken. Many have given up. Sometimes they make me uncomfortable with smell or actions or talking to themselves but they don’t make me afraid.

But I approach them as someone that feels a distance from society and those around me at work, in stores, on the bus, on the beach. I still struggle to relate and communicate as a part of society. They talk about sports, family, nights out drinking, casual friendships, and simple lives they assume everyone relates to. Groups have always been hard for me anyway but life has made that more true rather than less. My degree was gained in classes with students half my age. My family is distant, callous and judgmental. Friends are far away. I worked my way to a high rise apartment and fell more than once in life. I have lived in many cities and in many parts and sections of society from the farms to the law offices, the hospitals to the construction sites, the streets to the high society events.
When people around me talk about how hard it is to afford living I remember mom sitting in the car calculating how she would feed 8 of us on $10 for the week. I remember selling cookies or anything else she and I could make so I could afford to be a part of the business meetings. When they talk about taking time off work or leaving their jobs or their 18 year old needing to look at getting something I remember I was a model at 14 and carrying lumber before 12. I remember working 5 part time jobs to pay for school and still being buried in school debt now. I remember driving my shiny new Mini and my limping 40 year old Honda. They talk about fearing the homeless and I remember the van of guys trying to grab me and the old man shooting the shotgun at the kids picking blackberries and us running unsure if he would really shoot us. I remember fights in the street and quiet nights answering phones in the room beside the morgue. I remember gardens and farm animals. I remember dark streets and formal dresses. I remember dying friends and casual game nights. I remember motorcycle trips and camping in the cold. I remember hospitals that couldn’t tell me what was wrong because there was no point in testing someone with cheap insurance and hospitals with spacious private rooms for comfortable recovery for those with the right insurance. I remember losing my job knowing I wouldn’t be able to pay rent and just leaving to avoid it. I remember using a public bathroom to get into my suit or formal dress so I could be at the event and smiling or the interview. I remember mother crying after a hellish trip to get to a meeting because she realized everyone there just had dinner, dressed, drove over and was reasonably calm and feeling normal and she was desperate, stressed and exhausted. The car caught on fire on the way there, her cancer treatments were possibly coming back, she had a migraine, one child was sick and another hurt, dad and she fought that day, a storm slammed into the house as we left for the meeting but there was no rain when we arrived and everyone else was dry, the floor in the bathroom collapsed and the mortgage company wanted to take the house.

Distance. It will never fully leave me. I can never completely escape the feeling I may not belong and that those around me can see it. Even when they cant and I know it, I feel like they can. I feel the distance so I can’t escape it. So, I understand the idea of falling through the cracks.

Distance

Leaves of Peckerwood Garden

Over time I have done collections of images of various types from bark or magnolia blooms to pathways and the recent stairs collection. Today’s collection was inspired by the variegated maple I got a picture of the other day.

Often the best part about a plant isn’t the bloom, it may be the leaves, the bark, the form, the behavior, or the smell. This set is devoted to leaves in Peckerwood Garden and it could be massively larger than it is.

When I write I often do it on my phone at night and just past it into here when I am on a computer so going back through it sometimes I edit and review and sometimes I just post. This is a collection of mostly old images I have taken ranging as far back as 2014 and I have done little to the set to prepare it for here.