31 March 2009

Poem here and gone

Surrounding me, filling me,
a truth found, waiting impatiently,
to be chiseled in stone, written on the heart.
Ego satisfied, sitting back
in awe of the perfect poem.

Slipping through my hands
before the pen, leaving only
the forlorn residue of escaped words,
finding the quick path to immortality
somewhere near the horizon line,
filling in between the trees,
expanding around the clouds.

Seen. Unseen.
Forgotten. Felt.
Out of grasp of hand and tongue.

17 March 2009

Kiss My Fat Ass, Laura Ingraham

Anyone who read this blog during the most recent election knows that I'm not a Republican. This is not an ode to Meghan McCain, about the current strife over identity and direction in the Republican Party, or even about Ann Coulter or Laura Ingraham. I know little about Ms. McCain, Coulter, or Ingraham, other than that one is a famous daughter of a political family, one a cultural critic whose approach to her ideology (and reproach to those who disagree with her) is too distasteful and disrespectful for me to read, and the last I recognize in name only as a conservative media personality. I could not have told you prior to this week if Laura Ingraham opinions appeared in print, on broadcast media, or on the Internet -- or all three.

Meghan McCain recently has written on her blog on The Daily Beast criticizing Ann Coulter and the Republican Party, claiming that they are out of touch, offering little to younger voters. Laura Ingraham, taking umberage with McCain's comments did not attach her views. Rather, she commented about McCain's body size, calling her 'plus size'. McCain's response on The View yesterday: "Kiss my fat ass!"

Kudos to Ms. McCain for clearly identifying two important points: 1. personal attacks do not cultivate intentional, effective discourse; and 2. it is ridiculous to buy into the current unrealistic media images regarding body size. McCain is a size 8 - 10.

To attack McCain's appearance because her opinions differ is unbelievable for someone with a national audience -- or anywhere. What does one's appearance have with one's capabilities? Nothing! Ingraham, continuing her childish spat with McCain today, called her a idiot and a pawn of the liberal media. Unable to sustain her comments from a few days ago, and apparently unable to counter McCain's comments about the failure of the Republican Party to attract young voters, Ingraham continued her ad hominem attack on McCain. She has not moved forward any sort of reasonable debate with McCain and others who have criticized the Republican Party. It would appear that she doesn't care too. Perhaps Ingraham has unwittingly proved McCain's point of why some conservatives are out of touch.

That Ingraham would even suggest that McCain's weight has any bearing on her opinions, her writing, or her capability to comment on current political or cultural events is so beyond the pale of acceptable debate. One's weight should not have any bearing on one's professional capabilities. Haven't women been fighting this type of thing for years - that women must conform to certain stereotypical ideals in order to be acceptable? Had a man said what Ingraham said, he would have been vilified, perhaps asked to resign from his job (cf: Don Imus). In most workplaces, a man would have been fired if his opinions of a women's appearance were made known.

Yet, women often put up with this. We are barraged by unreasonable, unrealistic images of what we are 'suppose' to look like and are considered failures if we don't. As someone who works in a young company, I am one of the 'older' people in the office (I'm in my late 40's). Rarely is anything said about men in my office -- most of them much younger than me -- having gray hair. While nobody has said anything discriminatory to me regarding my quickly silvering hair, I have had many women ask me why I don't dye it. "Aren't you afraid what people will think?" "Will you dye it if you have to look for a new job?" "People will think that you don't care what you look like."

What? I'm always neatly clothed, even for a work environment that is jeans and tee shirts, wear makeup in the office, have nicely styled hair. How could anyone think that I didn't care about my appearance?

Like gray hair, weight is an issue. I've heard comments from men who have had beer bellies for 10 years and hair growing out of their ears regarding women who have a bit too much weight on their backsides, or heavy legs, or flabby arms. And we let them get away with it. We don't stand up against it. We do it to ourselves.

Women shouldn't put up with anyone verbalizing these ideas. We especially can't let other women do it. We can't perpetuate these weight-obsessed images with negative comments about how we look. We need to fight back for ourselves and our daughters -- size 8 is nowhere near a 'plus size'. And is it necessary to call any size a 'plus'? Being healthy and accepting of one's body type -- whatever it may be: curvy, slender, buxom, athletic -- is what we should celebrate. Not adhering to some unhealthy media image is the right thing to do.

Join me in echoing Meghan McCain's retort to Laura Ingraham, telling all who think that it is funny, snarky, or a legitimate response to disagreement to suggest that one's capabilities are determined by the size of one's skirt: KISS MY FAT ASS.

You can read Meghan McCain's response to Ingraham here.

14 March 2009

Writer's Block?

I was speaking with an acquaintance yesterday, who called me from BVI where she lives in the winter. We were speaking about some events that have impacted both of us and many friends, trying to come to terms with our feelings. I had written an email to her earlier in the day.

"You write so well", she said, "you should do so more often".

I found myself saying "I used to write a blog..." I startled as I realized I had used the past tense.

"You should do so more often," she said.

Yes, I should, but I just haven't been able to sit down, clear my thoughts and write for so long. Funny how the longer one goes avoiding something, the more daunting it becomes. Even when I have drafted something in my head, I have been unable to get it down with pen and paper or keyboard and screen. Posts about books and movies and plays, about daffodils and bleeding hearts starting to poke through the leaves in the woods or pictures the old dead stump of a tree that is about to fall, about the small joys of family, or how I've struggled to recognize the good in a difficult employee and suddenly we are able to laugh even when we disagree; about how writing status updates in 160 characters is too confining to me and that I think Facebook for finding high school friends is stupid, but that it has been a wonderful tool for communicating with a specific circle of friends, even in times of crisis: all of these and more would have been great posts; perhaps some will appear in the future.

In the grand scheme of things, I'm not worried about not being able to write again --it is temporary -- but I wonder how much of this is a general malaise that I see in many of my friends right now. I don't know if it's being at mid-life, if it's the economy, if it's only because it is still winter, despite the recent warmer days, but it seems that everyone I am friends with is going through some sort of major life stress -- stress at work, fear of losing their jobs and the fear of not being able to find another one, sickness, death of elderly relatives, struggling relationships, pain from one kind of loss or another.

It is all very real, painful; psyches bobbing in rough wakes. Not quite gale force winds in open seas, but stormy. It can wear you down and make it seem like there isn't time, or strength, or determination to do things like write.

As I read through this, I can predict that some people might conclude that I'm depressed. Let me assure you that it isn't something as drastic as that. It isn't as if I can't laugh, can't enjoy family and friends, or am ready to jump off cliffs real or metaphoric. It is only that writing is the activity that is getting squeezed shut right now.

Thanks to those of you who periodically stop by here. I don't intend to let the past tense to describe permanently this blog. But I don't know if I'll be back here tomorrow, or next week, or in a few months.