Tuesday, December 23, 2008

poetry and prose

we will be known as a culture that feared death and adored power, that tried to vanquish insecurity for the few and cared little for the penury of themany. we will be known as a culture that taught and rewarded the amassing of things, that spoke little if at all about the quality of life forpeople (other people), for dogs, for rivers. all the world, in our eyes, they will say, was a commodity. and they will say that this structure was held together politically, which it was, and they will say also that our politics was no more than an apparatus to accommodate the feelings of the heart, and that heart, in those days,was small, and hard, and full of meanness.

--mary oliver, "of the empire"

i'm not a poem kind of girl. i like prose; i like the sentiments that cannot be expressed in concise bites or easy words. i, myself, am verbose. but mary oliver is onto something with this one, and reminds me of why the brevity of verse is so good and necessary. fearing death, i am learning, is one of the dumbest uses of our time. it is going to happen, because we are the lucky ones--we, who get to live and move and have our being, who can breathe and swim and eat and move and love, we are alive, and we will die, and not all too long from now. but in our battle to hold onto it all, our hearts grow smaller and harder and contract with envy and cruelty. mine does, i know. and i let my feelings get the best of me, cling to scarcity over abundance.
it is hard. but it is oh, so good. life outside of the empire, that is.

Monday, December 8, 2008

feels like winter in san francisco!

a chilly 48 degrees walking down sacramento street today, made me do a double-take. what happened to global warming?

i'm a little bit afraid the space heater in my cubicle is going to burn the building down.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


some people call it blessed. i always feel this awkward pause welling up in my throat (brain? vocal chords?) before i use any adjective meaning 'fortunate.' take a minute, assess my surroundings: am i around christians? non-christians? if i say 'blessed' right now, how does it sound? completely trite? is there any way to say 'blessed' that sounds genuine? on the other hand, if i say that i'm 'lucky,' do you think that i am taking God out of the equation?

when i'm around people who throw 'blessed' around like they were name dropping at the vanity fair oscar party, i will never use that word. you were not blessed to find that parking spot, i think. you got lucky. five seconds earlier and you would have walked your sorry ass three blocks to the grocery store, and your bags would have broken from the weight of your 2 percent milk. it wasn't a blessing that you got a hotel room at the last minute in venice, even if you did pray with your whole family about it. you got lucky and your timing was right. because it seems to me that if you didn't get that parking spot, or if you hadn't have gotten that room, you wouldn't have been blessed. God wouldn't have been looking out for you. and i just don't think that's the case. some people talk about blessing like it's a wink that God gives them across the room, over the heads of everyone else who hasn't prayed hard enough or worked at it diligently enough.

but the parking spot, the hotel room . . . i can't believe, either, that God doesn't teach us in these mundane ways, or that he isn't orchestrating some crazy shit up in heaven so that when i am at the end of my rope, i get that parking spot and remember his goodness even in the smallest of details. so am i lucky? or blessed?