All the history I did not know….

I promised myself, when I decided to start blogging again, that I wouldn’t get “political.” But sometimes it’s just too darn hard to keep my mouth shut.

I didn’t like history or social studies in high school. I don’t remember it being a deep discussion of ideas or philosophies but instead a process of memorizing pages and pages of events in history: the main characters, the main event, and the date, as in, 1620 the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock; in 1492, Columbus “discovered” America (with, of course, no education as to his murdering and decimation and enslavement of a whole population of peoples who definitely didn’t need discovering to begin with); pages of lines of similar history to be memorized. I remembered 1492 — because it had a rhyme attached to it. I remembered 1620, possibly because my maternal grandparents’ generations were early settlers of Massachusetts (a great, great, great — possibly greater great-grandfather being the first president of Harvard College in 1690). And of course everyone of my generation knew December 7, 1941, which had only occurred a brief 25 years previous to my high school history lessons.

Every line to be memorized was an event of war and domination. But the truth? At least in high school, we weren’t taught that the white man committed genocide upon the First Nations people of what is now the United States. Nobody taught me that the white male society of Britain shipped opium to the Chinese and addicted a whole nation just to equalize their huge trade deficits from their own insatiable appetite for tea. It was simply one-line facts of white male society’s domination over the African continent or South America or India or the conquest of some other empire. They were facts we were to memorize and accept.

Nobody answered my teenage question, “Why did I need to memorize these one-line statements of mankind’s history, most of which reflected wars and conquests?” Oh, that’s right:  it was necessary to memorize these facts so that history would not be repeated. Huh? I might have been interested if I was actually taught the story behind His-Story in high school. I might have become an activist if I was taught that the United States is the only developed country in the world that does not guarantee equal rights for women in its constitution — even to this day! Though all provisions have been met ratifying what would be the 28th Amendment codifying the Equal Rights Act (ERA), codifying women’s equal rights, as I understand its status, it has yet to be certified by the archivist that would embody it forever in our Constitution!! I urge the reader to read Her-Story here. https://msmagazine.com/2022/01/27/equal-rights-amendment-resolution-us-house-28th-amendment-constitution/

I wasn’t taught history or the reasons I should be interested in history, and quite frankly, stuffing facts in my head bored me. Instead, for multiple reasons, one of which was an innate sense of wanderlust in my soul, I found myself sailing the South Pacific throughout the Seventies, five years after high school. I was in the South Pacific, without radio, without newspapers, without knowledge of the world “out there” for seven years.

I was overseas when abortion finally became legal in the United States, though I didn’t know that. I only knew that it was illegal when I went to Mexico (across a border that was still free and open) with my boyfriend seven years earlier (my boyfriend’s father, thankfully, having made the arrangements, of which my parents, now long dead, never knew). I was overseas, living in a thatched hut, subsistence farming, in New Zealand in January of 1973 when, I learned many years later, the American War in Vietnam ended. I was somewhere near the Marquesas or Tahiti when burglars broke into the Democratic Headquarters. I was somewhere near Walpole Island, in the middle of nowhere, when Nixon resigned after Woodward and Bernstein, through a free press, revealed his, and the republican party’s, role in the attempt to corrupt the democratic process. I didn’t even know what “Watergate” was until I saw a movie called All the President’s Men years later. I was somewhere in Australia, the home of Germaine Greer, when I heard this thing called the Women’s Liberation Movement. I didn’t give it much attention because, after all, I was sailing in the South Pacific, free, doing what I wanted to do. Weren’t Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best just childhood fairy tales like Peter Pan, nothing to pay heed to? Women weren’t really like that, were they?

Now I’m bombarded with news. I listen. I absorb it. I get upset. I research what I hear, checking the information. I get horrified when, during Trump’s campaign, I see a woman on national TV grab her own crotch and proudly say, “He can grab my pussy any time he wants.” I feel horrified and helpless when an American congressperson, Marjorie Taylor Greene, proclaims “women are the weaker sex” and that “you belong to your husband.”

All things end, all things change. That’s the nature of things. The misogyny in America will end.  My hope is it ends today, this election term. My hope is that the change that comes is for more equality, not less equality, for more compassion and kindness and love before more hatred and darkness. My hope is it ends before my granddaughters are ordered to wear the handmaid’s robes.

If time passes before my next post, it’s because I’m taking a long walk in nature and looking for its goodness and beauty. But today, because I’ve chosen to live in this society and no longer in a thatched hut cut off from the world, because I see these continued and mounting threats against women’s rights as well as the continued discrimination against people of color:  Sometimes a woman has to speak out against these continued injustices.

Or then again, maybe I’ll leave again and fly to Midway and take care of the albatross.  Who knows (I sure don’t.)

A Most Interesting Road Trip

I’ve been on a road trip the past 10 days, which is why I haven’t been getting to my blog, but my, oh, my, what an adventure! It started simply enough, driving down to see my daughter in Oregon City, then out past Boring to visit my friends in the Columbia Gorge. I rendezvoused with my 35-year-old son in Issaquah, and my granddaughter in Seattle. All and all it was an almost perfect road trip, but nothing to raise a Monkey’s Eyebrow to. So to spice it all up, before I took the ferry home, I decided to mosey off to the back of beyond, do some exploring which turned out to be Nothing that was Boring or Dull.

(Author’s note, in case you don’t get it: All italicized names are real names of towns and street signs, though the distances traveled could only happen in one’s imagination. Also, it is slightly R-rated, so if you’re sensitive, stop near Santa, Idaho — though a slight downgrade from the North Pole — and wait for my next blog post).

As I started following a map and road signage in italics, I felt it was all a Riddle to be solved. Curiosity got the best of me, maybe like Jump Off Joe felt when he met Tom Dick and Harry over by Jackass Butte. Yes, I found Friendship in Book but it was Difficult trying to understand folks pronouncing Zzyzx Road as the way to get to Hell For Certain. In a Pinch, trying to Jot Em Down, the Recluse in Fingringhoe insisted the shortcut was through Weiner Cutoff, Condom, and Clit, but for obvious reasons, I chose to go down to Booger Hole in the opposite direction from Goofy Ridge. Though I found myself briefly at Happy Corner near What Cheer, it was a Tightsqueeze. I experienced a brief Surprise when I drove down Goa Way, finally feeling a bit more Neutral before I realized I had gotten Nowhere.

I got in a Funk because I could not find Money to spend, being so poor I couldn’t even buy a Bread Loaf or Two Eggs. Speeding through Knockemstiff and then Hooker, I stopped briefly in Hopeulikit but there was a Little Snoring in Onacock down Fanny Hands Lane, so once again, I carried on down another street that some Dickshooter named Dingleberry Road which took me directly to Cocking Fuckborough, a town that at least asked visitors to “Please don’t laugh at our village’s funny name.” That was kind of Cool, I thought, but it was no Fluffy Landing when I skidded at Greasy Corner, ending up at Bacon Level near Deadhorse, wondering where that bacon might have come from (but pretty sure why that corner was greasy).

Desperate to return to Paradise but at least try to find Sublimity, I thought I’d go to the Blue Mountains. But I immediately started questioning the morality of the area when I saw Humptulips and Loveladies standing at the edge of Whorehouse Meadows. The morality squad had apparently tried to change the name to Naughty Girl Meadows, but that idea went down the Crapper — which, by the way, was a town that really swirled down the Drain, because — as the story goes — folks in Burns Down convincingly proclaimed themselves more Needy of the services and more Rough and Ready to keep the name, because, though Remote, they were competing with the Intercourse Pretzel Factory over near Ticklenaked Pond. It need not be said that most decent men quickly said Aloha to that whole area, and would Zigzag to avoid Truth or Consequences which would of course result in Gouge Eye in Bitchfield if their women got wind of where they’d been.

Though I had left Boring in search of anything not so Dull, I began to Desire to return to a more Happy Corner. But I found it hard to escape some of the routes, feeling trapped in an endless Bear Dance. It seemed it was all a Sweet Lips Community wherever I turned. Right outside of Tightwad, I entered Ugley. Upon driving down Done Movin’ Lane, only briefly did I think I’d found my exit but realized it wasn’t Goodenough. The sign then told me to drive slowly past Cocks, but possibly I did not drive slow enough because I ended up at Wankers Corner, which was Halfway to Why (which of course at this point I had been thinking Why for quite awhile) where I was so desperately praying to enter Humanville, but, no — Oh Hell no — it turned into a Three-Way with a Dildo, followed by a Failing Plunge to Virgin. At this point, Cut and Shoot was a Hazard though it no longer seemed Peculiar.

I stayed long enough to hear about Blue Ball who clearly stayed too long in Titty-Ho, but he had missed the turn, I’m told, to Idiotville and so arrived Spread Eagle with someone else’s Bastardo where the whole town came out yelping Yeehaw and throwing Rabbit Hash at him like Windpassing, which blew the doors wide open at the Smut Eye Grocery. I knew for sure now that I was in Satan’s Kingdom, which they claimed was simply a state recreation area, but it was actually a Flasher town in Young America. Every town on the map was leading me either to Lizard Lick — or was that Dick Lick Springs or Beaver Lick? Lotsa licking going on everywhere I went is all I know. All I could think was Oh Pity Me. I honestly did, and Whynot? It was a nightmare as I turned down Uncertain Road, past Bucket of Blood Street — a labyrinth, for sure — before I came to No Name. I was beginning to realize I might have arrived at Low Point right off of Middlefart when a Bend took me straight to Asylum.

Now completely in a Panic and wanting to get home, I drove down Bad Root Road to Point No Point where I came to Climax so slowly I almost missed Penistone. Near Crapstone, Embarrassed as I was, I had to use a bathroom but they wouldn’t let me use Pee Pee Creek, so I carried on down A Dog Will Lick His Butt But Won’t Eat A Pickle Road which dead-ended in Accident. There was a toilet in Bathtub Gulch but it wasn’t very clean because the sign said, “Please put toilet paper only in the toilet. Everything else goes in the trash,” and apparently everyone had followed those instructions. I was quite getting desperate to get out of this nightmare when I suddenly arrived in Half.com where there was a sign that said “That Way To Earth.”

Feeling like it had all been a nightmare, I started to see more familiar territory. I passed through Muckanaghederdauhaulia, which I knew translated as Piggery Between Two Expanses of Briny Water, so I was confident I was finally coming out of the darkness I had entered. All I’d wanted to do was to escape things that were Dull and Boring, maybe like the bartender who named his town Äteritsiputeritsipuolilautatsijänkä because he wanted to name it a name no one else could use — or misuse like I just have.   Thank Dog or the Universe, I thought. Whynot?

Almost home, I passed through A Spring Where Two Buffaloes Were Killed With the Same Shot, aka Tweebuffelsmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein. From there, I came over the ridge, and I finally breathed in the sweet tranquility of home-sweet-home, though I’ve never been able to pronounce it in all the years I’ve lived there, but its translation brings me Serenity and Comfort, and eases my soul: Saint Mary’s Church in a Hollow of White Hazel Near the Swirling Whirlpool of the Church of Saint Tysilio With a Red Cave — Such a lovely sounding name  — Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.   I think I’ll stick to Boring and Dull after that seemingly immoral trip to Hell’s Canyon.

Old Journals – Old Memories

I found an old journal from 1996 that I haven’t looked at probably since I stowed it away. Old memories. One of the first entries reads: “No one can play the strings of your song. I realize that now. I realize what I keep playing is your laughter. What I keep playing is your love. It’s you I play, not me.” Though I allowed it to be a painful time, I’m glad I recorded its journey where I had allowed myself to “fall in love” with the most unavailable — and truly the most gorgeous — man on the planet.

How did I deal with my pain? Exactly as I always have: I jumped on a plane and flew away, this time to Florida, by myself. These are the thoughts that I recorded in a brand-new journal.

Wind on the mountain
Freedom pushing
Strength resisting
Isolation
Solitude of the eagle,
Of the hawk.
Everything trying to merge and
Everything trying to separate
Wholeness held in one hand
Loneliness wrapped in love
Love not knowing its own face
Love not seeing, remaining
Undiscovered and unseen.

(I only write poetry when wounded by love.)

A mockingbird sings, looking for love to touch its soul too. I wait for the sunset in Key West. Still thinking of that man. Can’t get into him. Never will. Can’t get away from him. …But I will. The broad arm of a mahogany leans across the second story patio of Mallory Square, giving shade, but my skin is fried by too much sun.  I can’t feel its cool brush. There’s a gentle clatter of ceiling fans in an effort to move air that’s too tired to move.

At the Italian Fisherman, another day, I sit on a patio at the water’s edge. I watch garfish and cat fish being circled by one small barracuda while shadows of pelicans pass over. At the table next to me are two fat women who are bitching about work in Minnesota: that they’re not allowed to wear perfume. The light breeze brings to me a strong odor of overpoured perfume clinging to their clothes as if telling their boss, “Fuck you. Smell me now.”

Later, traveling across the Everglades, heading to Clearwater, I notice a man following me in a gold Subaru. When the highway becomes four-lane, he hovers next to me, turning constantly to stare at me. It creeps me out. My imagination runs wild, as I imagine him taking down my license plate, and though it’s a rental, somehow he will find out who rented it, telling the agency some story to get them to give them my address. Damn my imagination. I slow way down, visibly taking out a pencil and paper while I drive, letting him know to beware that I am now taking down HIS license. He finally drives on ahead.

There are Native Americans in the Everglades that still live in — or at least build — thatched huts of bundled cattails — like the one I built for myself in New Zealand — but they put tar paper across the peak. A canal that borders Highway 41 is dotted with fishermen. The shacks might be their fishing shacks. In the distance a charcoal cloud, heavy with rain, hangs above the swamp that extends to the horizon. I learned later that a jet crashed into the Everglades — not within my vision or point in time — but 109 people died. The nose of the plane, the plane itself, was buried 30 feet deep in the muck. If anyone had survived the crash, the alligators were waiting. Salvage was not discussed.

Farther west, I met the green fabric of fields woven into the blue fabric of sky from which (for whatever reason), I weave in a quote by Annie Proulx: “We face up to the awful things because we can’t go around them.” That man — that man that I came to Florida to escape — is with me again, like a needle stuck in an old record. I must face why I am attracted to the emotionally unavailable. I already know why I get on planes and fly away when my heart is hurt.

I’m airport watching now on my way back to the Northwest, leaving behind plastic-fantastic. Key West is a fascinating amusement, but overall I dislike Florida. Sitting at Delta Gate 54A, a 25-year-old, hidden behind sunglasses, tells me: “…I was 17 then. A long time ago. I was a day late. Didn’t matter if I was a dollar short or a day late, my parents would take care of it.” He takes off his glasses to clean them on his shirt and puts them back on. “But now,” he says, “it’s the real world.” Yes, it is, I think.

I glance away and see an old man, with trembling hands, eating a nacho with jalapenos. He drinks water,  it shaking in his hand, but suddenly he stands up and moves away from a young woman who’s drinking a beer, changing tables. Then he changes tables again. He’s moving yet again when a long-haired man with a beeper, looking at each beep, distracts me.

Another man, older, without a chin, is standing nearby. He keeps pulling up his overly baggy pants in a way that accentuates his penis and balls. He looks like a child molester. Two indiscreet Native Americans walk by, carrying ceremonial drums. For some reason, the man I’m trying to erase from my heart and mind re-enters, a constant thrump, like the river flowing over rocks and boulders on its way to the sea. Conversations distract me. “Where’s she going to stay?” a man asks. “In the States,” she answers, jutting out her jaw. I didn’t hear the rest as the conversation blurred into a man talking about back surgery to the stranger next to him.

Yes, there are windows opening constantly in the pulse of time. I take it in, like a grouper’s mouth sucking in the unsuspecting dinner. I notice an elegantly dressed woman in colors that accentuate her aged tan and silvered hair. She sits alone, watching also, her hand lazily drooped over the arm of the chair, while mine is scribbling in my journal.

And then she rises, as do I, when boarding is announced.