Tag Archives: Writing
Neverwhere and Distance
Need and the Balance of Life
A Time of Transition
Changes happen all the time. Sometimes they are small or small in comparison to other things. Other times they seem huge and consuming but may or may not actually be. Right now is one of those times for me. After 5 years here at one of the most amazing gardens I have ever seen I am moving forward and helping them prepare for their next steps forward. This has been a long process as I gave notice in February to allow plenty of time for a transition. We negotiated the original move date to allow them more time to find someone and me more time to transition meaning I am now moving at the end of this month. Several stages of planning, applications, and direction have passed with varying degrees of certainty and levels of adjustment to change they would bring.
Many hours at work have been spent in meetings coordinating work and tasks to prepare them for a new structure and person. Many hours have gone into documenting every task in the job and organizing the office and supplies with the new funding that finally allows a proper set of storage supplies and equipment.
I have been here through a lot of changes at the garden and at home. When I started we were desperately broke, went rapidly down to 2 staff, and I worked closely with the founder most days, the property was private property, and our guest count was around 2000 a year. In these 5 years we have developed a real budget that includes major refurbishment projects, we have tackled the deferred maintenance from a couple decades, we have added a director of horticulture and a nursery manager, we have gone fully public garden, and we had more than 2000 guests in March alone this year. Where this garden can go from here is open to the imagination and it will remain a critical time of history that I was able to be a part of.
Leaving is a professional choice and a personal one that is allowing me to return to Hawaii and pursue a life I choose. But the changes will be massive in many ways. I am leaving my home, my life, my job, most possessions, my online business, my husband, and many friends behind. On the other hand, I will be working every day and returning to a place I previously lived, I will still be me, I will still eat and play and live, I will still love the things I do now, I will still be married, and I will still connect to my friends mostly online. So, maybe it isn’t as much a change as it first seems.
As I talk to each person in my life and communicate these happenings I see many responses and it often amuses me how people react and how the reactions change when they know where I am going. It is interesting those that you seem to feel an emotional disconnect the moment they learn you are leaving the state as opposed to those that immediately want to be sure you know how important you are and have been to them or the company. It is interesting those that wish you well and are sad for the loss until they hear Hawaii and then they are dismissive or jealous as opposed to those that grow more concerned for the distance and costs involved. Friends that step out and support or those that smile and nod are neither one a surprise since I have done this before. But this is the longest time I have had to prepare and communicate and to see the developments as they happen and not from the distance of one that has already done the unexpected.
Returning to life
After the past few years seeing the world with college students in this small, secluded place was exactly the separation from life she needed. Community college had been good. She had finished both programs. But she hadn’t gotten the certificates because she left before the optional test. Community college was still in Houston though and that was the last place she wanted to be. Here she was in the world of this small school and these people that saw the world fresh and light with none of the darkness she had seen in the world.
A memory of winter
A Question of Support
One thing after another recently raises the question of what do we support and how, along with the question of are we giving tacit consent to things we claim to disagree with. This is part of the can we separate the art from the artist question. The obvious ones are companies acting in ways we disapprove of and illegally, and artists of all types that have done things contrary to a civilized culture. But the question runs into every area of life at this point. I have read numerous articles, discussions, comment threads, and had conversations about the topic and noticed several good points and bad points.
Tacit consent is a touchy subject for many people. Are we consenting when we fail to speak up? What about when we purchase something created by someone that has done the questionable thing? What about when we make excuses? At what point do our words of dissent become lies or manipulation when we refuse to put our money and our actions behind them? At what point are we becoming hypocrites when we chose to prioritize our immediate gratification over our principles? At what point are we proving yourself untrustworthy when we manipulate our religion or political stance to support one thing at the expense of so many others. At what point do we become the monster we can’t see when we refuse to support what is right and what supports a just, equal, peaceful, and healthy society in favor of an ideal or convenience that have overridden our judgment?
Many acts have no place in a civilized society and in a developed nation. these acts have no place in any society, but we have recourse in a society based on laws and culture to stop them when we may not have previously. It is not that the acts have become wrong and were not before, it is that we as a society have grown and learned to have the conversations about consent and equality, about communication and justice. We have opened the discussion to include more peoples and groups and have been forced to face the reality of inappropriate behaviors that we allowed previously. We have expanded the space of equality enough to show the distance we need to go. Science has developed to the point to show the inaccuracy of statements and beliefs previously held as true. Technology has developed to allow greater connectivity and equality. We cannot go backward and close our minds and eyes to what we know.
Future generations will address these and other issues and they will be rooted in the disputes of today. When I learn a better way of thinking and communicating I embrace it and open my mind, I move forward in a new path and let go of the misconceptions that I had. In this same way, when I learn that a person has done things I can not condone then when I move forward I have a choice to either accept those actions as less important that the item the person creates or to forgo that entertainment or need in favor of an alternative that I am willing to support.
Yes, when we put our money toward a name, be it a person or a company, we are supporting their actions and their words. When we buy the ticket to the movies made by a pedophile or known rapist we provide our statement that we are more interested in that 2 hour entertainment than we are in justice and right behavior. When we vote for a political candidate that lies, cheats, and holds other ideals than the laws and constitution of our nation then we are stating that our moral sense is flexible and we will support what is selfish and easy above what is right.
Acceptance of wrong actions such as discrimination, sexual assault, fraud, and violence is counter to living in a society. The questions and answers may not be clear cut and simple but each time we decide we are making a statement of support or dissent. It is up to us which we chose but we must know that others will choose to hold us to that and we must accept the responsibility of our actions.
The population of the world is vast and the popular names of celebrities, artists, and politicians are limited and heavily manipulated by corporations and media so we see these few people as amazing and rare talents, forgetting that millions of others would stand in those shoes if given the chance. Others with talent are not seen or not upheld. We have limited ourselves not been limited by the available sources. Their actions or publicity neither improves nor negates their qualities and skills. However, it does negate their acceptability as a spokesperson and example for future generations.
Should the error of a man that assaults a woman erase his future as a public figure? Let’s rephrase that though. The rape of a person is grounds for baring the rapist from public positions and honor as an example to society. We must be aware that our words can also give tacit consent. When the woman in a coma was raped and gave birth, I saw many people arguing that it was wrong to call it rape because that implies we know what happened. No! If there is no ongoing and clear consent that has not been in any way coerced, then it is rape. Saying otherwise is consenting to allow it to continue.
I buy most of my video games used so the producers rarely see money from me and I rarely have a game anytime near when it is released. However, when I find a game and company I support and want to see supported, I will go out of my way to purchase it new and to support the team I want my money to give consent to. I am not going to discard my old movies and games that have people involved in that have been proven to be rapists unless I find that I can’t watch those movies and enjoy them without thinking about that. However, I will not go to a theater for those people. I will not buy new videos they are in. I will not give my money to their name in future and I will not forget.
Art is part of a person. When I paint, I paint from within me and my life. I paint a person as they are not as the photograph shows them to an extent. I drew someone the other day and they looked very angry. The view was angrier than the picture that was calm. However, the character is an angry and violent character and I subconsciously reflected that. My colors reflect me and what I am seeing in the art I am creating. When I sew a sleep mask it came from a place of need on my part and a desire to share what I saw as a need. The wood burning, I do represents the world around me and how I interact with it. All of art is part of a person. It is an expression of something within and of the artist’s view of what is around them.
Given that, we have yet another reason that our support is consent. If I am an environmentalist but continue to support destructive companies or buy many individually packaged disposable items how can I continue to say I am an environmentalist. Until our money supports the reality that is right there will not be change. Until we insist those around us behave in accordance to equality, justice, peace, environmental support, and social development we are consenting to the opposing actions and beliefs of those around us.
The recent uproar about a Gillette commercial is an excellent example of this part. They simply said to be a better man and stand for what is right, be strong and stand for justice. People that are upset with that have chosen to support a society of discrimination, assault, violence, and bullying because that is, according to their words now what makes a man a man.
The many directors and actors accused of sexual assault, rape, harassment, and manipulation are another example of what we are discussing. When people choose to go to those movies made by these people, they are choosing to put their consent on those people and to say that they do not insist on right behavior only on immediate gratification.
The companies that destroy our waters, violate the laws, abuse their workers, and waste materials are an example of another aspect. When we buy their products we support their choice to destroy the planet, cheat the economy, break the law, exploit the people.
Our money is our first form of consent in most of society today. Our spending habits is where we most directly how what we support and accept. We need to be vocal and active to support the things we believe in but we must also put our actions and money to support the same things.
A Walk in the Garden
I had a walk in the garden today and the air was chill, the sun bright, and the bees busy and happy. Having not been out for photography much recently it was really refreshing to walk in the woods. A morning of spreadsheets left me ready for walking and fresh air, even if cooler than I like. these pictures are from today not from the trip detailed here.
The past couple of weeks have been an interesting mix. A trip to New Braunfels did not go quite as planned. It was relaxing, frustrating, painful, and quiet.
Typically, I go to New Braunfels to go to Schlitterbahn. this time, however I just wanted quiet. I took a friend for 2 quiet nights hiding from New Years which has historically not gone well. Staying at the Howard Johnson was quiet and comfortable. They were well priced, clean, and friendly. I was annoyed to find on the second night that the drain plug cannot be closed for a bath, you can only do a shower, but it wasn’t the end of the world. Staff will tell you if you chat with them that they can be somewhat inconsistent in cleaning and maintenance and I found that was true. The refrigerator was unplugged, but as long as you are nice to them they take care of anything.
My friend had to leave early so I was alone the second afternoon and night which led to the later adventures and doctor’s visit. Having purchased a new sketchbook for the trip I spent lunch sketching in Alpine Haus restaurant enjoying a quiet German lunch. It made a nice followup to the Huisache restaurant from the night before which serves American food that is well done and pretty. Although my friend was unhappy to learn quail is served mostly whole. The appetizer plate was fun. The only issue arose after returning to the hotel. that is when I learned I left my phone somewhere. Eventually I found it…it had been run over by a car.
Antique shops and thrift shops in the area filled my time after my friend was home and on the way to her doctor. A pleasant time exploring a friendly town. Near dinnertime I was debating either a poke bowl or the free apetizer at the steakhouse that the restaraunt provided when things went another direction.
My car, who I haven’t owned long but have had no problems from, overheated. I stopped to wait it out and explored Target and a couple other places in the shopping center. However, I was only just recovering from being sick and was tired so I went back to the car hoping to get to bed. this led to a hand full of 2nd degree burns and eventually a doctor visit. I saw the doctor several times and the nurse, and an assistant as my hand was checked, cleaned, treated, then wrapped. I had a prescription and instructions for care and left unsure how I would drive several hours home with my right hand bandaged like a club and hurting like hell. I am right handed and although I use my left hand often, I found it really challenging to do so when I had to.
I returned to my hotel to rest and found by morning that my hand was healing but I was getting sick again. Once I got home, after a detour to return my friend’s keys, I spent several days in bed sick. Still congested today, I can hardly hear out of my right ear.
All of this did not ruin my trip however. New Braunfels was friendly, quiet, and pleasant. May painful new years is not really a new thing and getting sick is not the fault of the trip. Pleasant weather and good food was a soothing side note to the chaos wending it’s way through my peaceful trip that remained peaceful other than moments of screaming pain and rain clouds chasing me home after.
Today, I type this with no bandages and no medication for sick, and my car shows no sign of any problem. No evidence of overheating or what caused it shows itself but she obviously felt I should have gone back to the room and rested a bit sooner…when I first thought about it.
Changes happen, sometimes fast and sometimes slow but the interesting point is what changes. Often changes are skin deep or partial. I have been reading some of Asimov’s Robot series and the parallels in conversations to our society are still relevant. He shows this same point in the 50 worlds and their relationship with Earth, each other, and in particular with robots. When you look back in your own lifetime you will see many changes. Examining history beyond that reveals many more. But how many of them are complete changes in society and not overlays? How many fluctuate and move through various parts of society, thus never really uprooted? One of these is the sense of other, of the group beneath. Who that group is varies by place and time but there is a villain, a scapegoat, and an inferior. These may be each a separate group or combined in a complicated image of what a group is.
Meditation Series – part 5: development of a practice.
lhagthong) that use aspects of both forms. Samatha is a form that also does but it is often today a paired form with Vipessana and you develop both together. The very long history of these forms leaves a lot of room for research and discussion about how they combine or don’t. “According to Thanissaro Bhikkhu, “samatha, jhana, and vipassana were all part of a single path.”” The early roots are Theravada but it ended in the 10th century and was revived in the 18th. The idea of open observation is to see all without interpretation, expectation, editing, self, or bias. You are seeing physical phenomenah such as breathing without engaging with it. It is not you, it simply is.
Forced Intimacy – hugs, personal information, consent, and space
Weather has halted my bug project and I hope to work on it over my days off next week. In the meantime I have continued the meditation series and I have a side piece I have written…
Forced intimacy – hugs, personal information, consent, and space
I have read several articles recently about forced intimacy from a variety of perspectives. Few of them were rape related or directly related to sexual consent although that is where most people’s minds first go. Instead the conversations were about forced physical contact, emotional contact, information sharing, and other types of intimate coercion. Several things have really struck me in this.
First is that for most of my life there has been the social expectation of many of these forced intimacy and forced consent situations on people. This is really the first time I have seen these discussions seriously entertained and continued not laughed off. While we have huge amounts of progress to be made we have at least gotten to where the discussions can start. For the first time people can say that children should not be forced to accept intimate physical contact and explain why. For the first time people can talk about the difficulties of living in the world as society has built it when they have disabilities hat require assistance or design considerations. For the first time employees like myself can discuss in serious terms with our companies how we can address the accessibility issues onsite and feel people are listening and actively considering the issue not risking our position.
Second is the impact on today’s society of the assumptions made previously. I often hear opponents of many topics say things about what their parents did as examples that it doesn’t cause damage or why it is good. But that very argument shows otherwise. they are demonstrating a lack of compassion and ability to be open to the discussion. They are demonstrating the continuation of the abuse cycle because it is just how they think it should be. They are showing they cannot conceive of a better way or a healthy society that renders these things obsolete. Damage has been done but the alternatives are still in flux and discussion so the issues are not clear to everyone and I don’t see them becoming so anytime soon.
What are people talking about when discussing forced intimacy that is not sexual or not considered sexual by observers? The first article that comes to mind is one that discuses the forcing of little girls to accept hugs and why it is not okay. Forcing them to accept hugs that make them uncomfortable teaches them they have no choice in who touches them, who is physical with them, how physical someone is, how they choose to interact on an interpersonal level. If they have compromised immune systems or are regularly in contact with someone that does then lives can be at risk. If they are highly introverted or have social anxieties then it can be extremely difficult and uncomfortable for them. If the people are subtly doing inappropriate things it is just wrong. I was a little girl and am now a woman that looks younger than I am. Men will often try to force a “friendly” hug on you. Hands stray uncomfortably close to where they have no business, they crush you in close as you cringe and pull away and they laugh.
I am open for hugs and happy to hug many people. I am an introvert but I am also a professional and know that it is an expected part of business and life in the south. But that is the point, I know it is expected that I will smile and pretend to be okay with it and not show that the not quite visibly inappropriate men make me uncomfortable. However, it has changed over the years, there is already improvement. Most guests do not reach in to hug instantly now, they may reach out to shake hands and more than a few actually wait to see what I will do first. So, we are making progress in understanding the issue. Women are more likely to lean in for a hug but are less likely to be as close and crushing about it as some years ago. I think most women expect that any woman is okay with a hug from another woman, which is likely typically true but still I would prefer to have an indication of what people want in their space prior to initiating close contact.
Another point of intimacy is personal facts, feelings, and medical information that people are asked to share. One of the articles discussed places, especially venues, that are only partial accessible and rather than posting details of what their accessibility is and how they accommodate needs, they ask people to tell them what their needs are. Some of those are probably trying to be nice and offer personalized help but that singles people out when it could just be a part of how things are done. It also asks them to share personal information when they should not need to. Beyond that, many places are not fully accessible so guests may be required to rely on other people. So let’s consider how that looks in practice.
When you see a person approaching a door that looks like they need help most people assume the polite thing to do is step up and open it. However, they are likely to prefer you ask “may I help?” first. Also, their needs may dictate how is best to open the door. I tend to open it so that I am behind the door with it between the person and I so that they have all the space and can avoid contact if they prefer. I would never reach my hand out and grab a person without permission. If they look like they need an arm I will ask if they want assistance and offer my arm waiting for them to indicate how is best for them. I learned this from my mother as she grew older and had more medical issues. She often required assistance but she was fiercely independent and had a strong sense of personal space. Recently in learning from friends and reading I have grown to understand even more and to see that even in that, there is assumptions on my part and that it is not my place to assume they need or that I know what they need. If I have the capacity I should ensure ease of access for as many as possible but I cannot assume the personal contact needs of others.
I work at a public garden still in transition, which means our accessibility is at best described as under development. Our founder lives on property, but as he grows older the garden is a challenge even for him and he designed it and built it. Being available to him as needed but not imposing has taught me a lot about how it is different when work space and home space intersect. I am often a buffer for him and help for others to understand the balance he prefers. The expectations of others is changing and they are more likely now to ask his preferences and agree we shouldn’t press him if he is uncomfortable.
I think this brings me back to my basic point. The question is one of comfort levels. If someone is uncomfortable then something is wrong and we have no right to force people into those situations. It isn’t necessary. they do’t need to hug in greeting or enter the home when there is a table and chairs on the porch. There is a growing understanding of the concept of personal choice and active consent.
What I am seeing now is a growing conversation about consent. In a culture that has normalized forced consent in so many areas this is a huge change is is both uncomfortable for many and slow to develop. Many talk about what rape culture means but often you hear a lot less about the details of that, like the casual moments of intimacy that are expected and the level of consent that people are expected to give. It is an interesting and very in depth topic that can branch in hundreds of ways.
Meditation series part 4: Active meditation
Meditations Series part 3 – Short sessions and tea
Meditation series – part 2: Focus and Stillness
Meditation Series – part 1: Intro
Sexism and Casual Discrimination Today
Today, a slight departure from my ongoing Bug work.
Growing up we did stories and limericks and word games a lot. One of my favorites was when we were in the car, mom would have me make a story using the names of the street signs in the order we passed them. The names could be anything, they just had to be those names in that order. Think about the names of streets you see. They are people’s names, cities, things, landmarks, historical references, colors, anything someone thought of. I still do it in my head sometimes and it is still amusing.
I was the kin of kid that saw a large puddle with a big rock and a leaf and for a moment, sometimes more, it was much more. In my imagination the image was me looking down on a sea with a large rock and a boat or a turtle or something floating in it. Often it was the world of tiny people rather than an image of what it would be larger. My imagination would carry me, ever so briefly, away to another place, somewhere I would rather be.
Today, walking in to work, I realized that I still do it. Just for the briefest of moments. It is something easily ignored or not noticed in the many thoughts and images that fleet through my mind. But I work hard at being in the moment and present, at being aware of my thoughts and responses. It surprised me a little to see that I hadn’t really noticed that I still do that brief escape and image. Those small things still make me happy and give me a brief moment of beauty because I still see the magic in them that I did as a child. I hope I never lose that wonder in the world around me, because it is beautiful and it is amazing. Even those little things, like how a leaf lands or where the water pooled.
An interesting article.
Who is a Scanner?
“Intense curiosity about numerous unrelated subjects is one of the most basic characteristics of a Scanner. Scanners are endlessly inquisitive. In fact, Scanners often describe themselves as being hopelessly interested in everything (although, as you’ll find out, this isn’t so). A Scanner doesn’t want to specialize in any of the things she loves, because that means giving up all the rest. Some even think that being an expert would be limiting and boring.
Our society frowns on this apparent self-indulgence. Of course, it’s not self- indulgence at all; it’s the way Scanners are designed, and there’s nothing they can or should do about it. A Scanner is curious because he is genetically programmed to explore everything that interests him. If you’re a Scanner, that’s your nature. Ignore it and you’ll always be fretful and dissatisfied.
It’s a whole new way of thinking, I know. And much of the world doesn’t see Scanners’ behavior as admirable or even acceptable. But it wasn’t always this way.”