Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I am reading and loving "I Love a Broad Margin in My Life" by Maxine Hong Kingston. Fact and fiction memoir thought book.

She and her character from the novel "Tripmaster Monkey's Fake Book" go to China.

Sometimes it's her seeing and experiencing China, sometimes him. That's the way it is really, a fiction writer researching, experiencing, knowing how the character will experience. She, writing, just has one of the other experience the train ride deep and deeper into ruralness, where, he, she could move right into an empty house because there are many empty houses. People have moved to the Industrial Zone.

Kingston has been to China twelve times, counting trips to Taiwan and Hong Kong. Wittman Ah Sing, the fictional character, seems be on his first trip.

Before he leaves, he splits with his white wife he's been with for decades[ Kingston has been with *a guy named Earll Kingston for decades) because they have been together so long they have the same opinions of the same people and experiences.

Wittman Ah Sing wants to experience his own China uniquely.

When he stops in the poor rice village with the empty houses, he is of course perceived as vastly rich. A woman wants to marry him and (she implies) have sex with him now. While Wittman is feeling this might be good, he notices that Tana, his white wife appears, sitting next to him, on the other side from the woman who wants to marry him.

Tana is back in the US, and also right there. He can touch her; she's warm and "she's interested, curious, pissed off." He looks and sees that a red thread connects her ankle to his ankle. No such thing with the other woman, "the not hallucinated one."

He lets go of the sex and marriage thing, but still thinks of staying and doing something simple, straight forward--farming rice as it has been farmed here for centuries. Wittman thinks, "Stay, let this life be my whole life, and these people my people. That other life, the one in American, the wife, the son, the Berkeley education, that complex life is a dream. Stay and see the rice through to harvest."

Even though the villagers tell him a farmer is nothing and no one in China now.

All the children as boys. The girls "have been adopted out to the most loving, well-educated parents in the West. Chinese girls will take over and improve America."

This book rocks between past and present, China and America, fact and fiction, in just the way we need to have an improved America. an improved world. It feels like not just a good thing in itself and a great read but a sign that now people who are smart and loving can find a way to tell their whole story, their whole wisdom.

This book, the opening section "Home" starts like a sketch book of a wonderful sketcher deciding what to draw. She writes of what she usually does, of news on newscasts that breaks her heart, of the Big Fire in Oakland that burned down her house and how she worked at a benefit for Hurricane Katrina victims, and this and that.

And then she and Wittman, the main character in her novel "Tripmaster Monkey" go to China and it gets more focussed and bigger. Going between her and him experiencing the train ride makes perfect sense.

We need, all who think, to find ways to publish the sketchboard and find ways to let the sketchbook stay small when it's time and get big when it's time. When all need all of everyone's wisdom, we each need to let our wisdom out in its own style. I keep forgetting how not by the rules this book is operating because it's so easy to read, so nourishing, so delicious.

Hold our for your old recipe.
--"I'm giving you courtesy lessons. I learned that in prison--got my head slapped to the wall."
--"Well, okay, I'll talk to you later."

--sidewalk voices, two women
Black block letters stenciled on the sidewalk: "THERE IS SO MUCH TO MOURN." And in cursive, underneath, "War."

Monday, May 16, 2011

--"I'm giving you courtesty lessons. I learned that in prison--got my head slapped to the wall."
--"Well, okay. I'll talk to you later."

--Sidewalk voices, two women.
A body cell is like a village. There is a lot going on and many entities relating to each other.
--"How you doing?"
--"Long as I can get out of bed every morning. . ."

--Sidewalk voices, two men in a hurry, passing each other as they strode in opposite directions.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Letting Earth breathe me in and out.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

One thing is that someone has been turning over public trash cans in downtown San Francisco the last few weeks.

That always happens, but it's happening more and in a way that seems a bit more malicious. It's usually a Saturday night activity, someone doing it because they are drunk and they can. Lately, it's been happening on weekdays, and some of the concrete rectangular holders of the plastic trash cans have been tipped into the street, often at bus stops where they would make it harder for the bus to pull up.

After that happens, there are little piles of trash out of the mouth of the plastic trash can, concrete trash can holder combination.

With all levels of government hurting for dough, this all doesn't get cleaned up as fast as it might ideally.

Another thing is the Great Pacific Trash Swirl, the vast collection of trash out there in the ocean. I live near the Pacific, so easily something in that mess could be something I touched. I usually throw trash in the can, but now and then not, and besides, something I touched and put in a can might blow away from landfill or a tipped over trash can.

Early Wednesday, the early dark part of Wednesday, I dreamed I was talking with Princess Diana. There was a huge pile of trash, like a two or three story house, on a beach, and we, and others, were picking it up.

The pile was made entirely of crumpled up pieces of paper, such as people throw into street trash cans. Authorities has left racks with bags to put the trash in near the tall pile, and Diana, Princess of Wales and I had picked up bags and were picking up paper and talking.

I asked her if she used name brand beauty products or if she had them mixed special for her. She pretended I hadn't asked that, and that I had asked what she liked to do.

She said one thing she liked to do was take a word, like sawyer, and find out how many words she could make from it. I asked her if "wa" was a word, and she said she thought it was.

I moved onto a combination of wondering where we were supposed to take the full trash bags and noticing this was a dream and I didn't have to do anything with the trash bags because they didn't exist. I got that idea, and moved on to noticing I had been talking to a famous person I don't know.

It took me long, it seemed long, for me to get to I was talking to a famous person I don't know who's dead.

After getting that, I quickly noted that her son William got married five days ago, and as part of fashion discussions of the dress of his bride, Kate Middleton, there were pictures of Diana, Princess of Wales in her wedding dress. There hadn't been pictures of Diana in the paper for quite a while.

In the dream, Diana looked great. Age had made her more focussed, in a good way, and less over-the-top gorgeous, but still gorgeous.

If she were still alive, there could have been articles about whether Diana's dress for her son's wedding struck the right balance of looking great and not out-shining the bride.

If she were still alive, the world-wide situation with land-mines would be less bad than it is now.

Land mines were something she chose to focus on, a little rough for a royal. Much realler seeming than poofy wedding dress. Land mines are left for future generations of children to find, and haven't found an equally large against person.

Using the whole princess picture to do good on heavy issues--she was up for trying. She shook hands, ungloved hands, with AIDS patients when some underinformed people would have thought that dangerous.

When I first read the book "The Constant Gardener" by John Le Carre I thought it was partly a tribute to Diana. Now I don't think so. I think that's me thinking, not Le Carre, but it really worked as a way to read the book, and as a way to think about beauty and power.

The constant gardener was a British diplomat who was past it. His age and his level of job meant he was never going to matter much, just keep shuffling around the world. He was best known for being able to make British plants grow in a variety of climates.

He was married to a gorgeous young idealist. She thought that the British government should not support bad activities of the government of the former colony her husband was posted to. The activities hurt the poor people of that country. She thought that was wrong.

She was so beautiful that men tended to lose the ability to think in her prescence. She wanted to use that fact, and the fact that her husband was a diplomat, to help the poor people of the country they were in. Tricky.

So tricky that she was murdered. She was murdered in a car before the book began, trying to make things better with beauty while at the same time being near, but not having, real political power.

So we see her through others memories. Men who fall over stupid in the prescence of her beauty often resented her. Her husband was constant to the memory of what was best in her. He married a beautiful young idealist. Her found after her death she did things he didn't know about and wouldn't have advised, but he knew that she was a young idealist and he a tired diplomat. Though hanging in with his idea of the best of her made him less tired and more idealistic.

What can someone who mieets some ideal fantasies of being a woman do about bad stuff happening in the world? In the fantasy of the ideal woman, for a long time, she wasn't doing anything messy and anything that might upset the current set up. So how can the fantasy be used to messily upset the current set-up, or can it?

I got hom one evening and my roommate told me she'd heard on the news that Princess Diana and her boyfriend had been in a car wreck, and the newspeople didn't know yet how they were. The newspeople though he was badly hurt and didn't know about her.

I decided her boyfriend, who I'd never heard of, was dead, and that she was hurt, a broken arm or something, and weould be okay. And I dnd't think about it much and went to bed.

In the morming I didn't think about it at all. I moved the two wrapped up newspapers, the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times, from outside the door to inside the door without looking at them, and went on my slwoly walking Sunday way.

It was blocks of walking later that I saw a paper. "DIANA DEAD" in huge letters.

I felt like a cannon ball had gone right through my torso, hitting both my gut and my heart. I felt terrible. And confused.

I was feeling this bad, about this. I didn't get it. I had liked Diana, noticed the AIDS handshaking and the anti-land mine stuff and other non-typical for a royal activism, and I liked it but didn't think about it.

I felt terrible about her deaht for a couple of weeks and quite bad for long and long. Obviously, I wasn't the only one.

One of those mass oubreaks of emotion that the media often try to pretend has happened was really happening, and drafting people who wouldn't expect to take it that way, like me and many others.

Some people who know her also went "What/?!" and felt they sooner or later had to tell us what was wrong with her. And they waited a bit, and did tell us, which was somewhat calmer.

But the feeling of something really big getting killed at a really wrong time remained, remains.

If Diana, Princess of Wales, were alive, the land mine situation world wide would be less bad than it is now.

She wasn't perfedt, but there was a prescence thing, and she tried to use it for good. She tried to use a girly image done perfectly to heal some very rough tough guy problems. On some level, reality itself may be allergic to that because it's different than the way it's been for a long time.

If Diana were alive, she'd be getting attention for some other causes. She could find causes that were cutting edge for someone at her level and not necessarily easy. She could use her looks, title and vibe to cause lots of people to notice the causes, and some to act in support. There's decades of that not happening, of her imaginative judgement not interacting with the unfolding of the world.

Was that part of the stunning ouch I lived with for weeks after her death, some particular things not happening that would have been very good, and them not happening is very bad. We don't know what we're missing, but some of it sensed it for a while, regardless of our self-image about grieving for a princess we hadn't met.

Can pieces of the old fashioned image of women be used in a new way for a new kind of good?

There's a lot of trash to pick up, and it's not clear where to put it, since really here is the only place we have to put it. How to pick up after mistakes, where to put it--in which part of here to put it? People mixing and matching old and new and going for power might find some interesting answers to those questions.

The Radical Faeries are gay guys who go for loud gender combos. Wear dress, keep beard. In a
way, Diana was being that kind of radical. Wear those great dresses and go after nasty war practices.

Land mines are like the worst of butch. "We gotta job to do and we gotta do it the fastest harshest way we know. We aren't hear to think about children playing and wandering around in twenty years."

Would you like a little femme with your butch? How about a lot of femme?

What combination of femme and butch makes your garden grow, makes it possible for you to do the work you were born to do?

Julie Des Jardins checks out how women get helped or blocked if their natural destiny is learning new stuff about science in her book "The Madame Curie Syndrome." It's a great read. She *develops an argument over the length of the book, but each of the chapters reads separately and briskly as she summarizes lives of some women scientists from Madame Curie's time to the present.

Things have gotten better. However, at the end f the book, she has to say, and she clearly doesn't want to, that she's surprised at the extent to which things aren't better enough.

There's a way to rate scholarly publications of individuals based on how much they've published and how much other scholars have cited what they've published. It's points system.

In being considered for tenure, permanent employment at a university, a study showed that women have to have five times as many points as men to be perceived as being equal.

A seventies feminist saying was that for a woman on a job to be considered as good as a man, she had to be twice as good. The saying ended, "Fortunately, that isn't difficult."

Five times as good is tougher. As things get fairer for women and women can move more freely in more areas of endevour, we start to see where the more resistant and indigestable lumps of "no women here!" are.

"No women here!" in the US is tough to pull of, but limited the numbers and power is possible. That the number are limited in some of the sciences is clear at a glance, and how that works is shown in studies like the five times as many points needed study.

An article in the New York Times talked about how in law and adverising the number of women over all is approachiing half, but the number at the level of partner is way below that.

Women at an all woman advertising firm said a difference with all women is they focused one working all day long, lunched together and worked through lunch together, and went home reasonably early.

When the top management is mostly male, they said, goofing around a lot of the day is normal, as are long lunches where not much actually gets done. And everyone, men and women, have to stay late to earn power.

So the women in an all woman law firm made a garden where they could grow the work and go home fairly early to grow the home.

Julie Des Jardins in her book on women scientists cites first the five times as many points needed study and then cites that which wouldn't be formally citable--anecdotal evidence. What she heard people say when they heard she was working on a book about women scientists was that women had the ability to be good scientists, but that them for succeed at science in real life they needed more than they ability. They needed to be like men. Live like men; work like men.

I imagine Diana alive and with a web prescence. I imagine the opening page on her site having two prominent links to "Dresses" and "Causes." And those are crosslinked. If you're looking at a dress she wore to an event for a particular cause, you can go to an explanation of the cause. Not to the causes own web page, but to an explanation in Diana style. Probably not by her, but like her.

If your in the right place for you, it's easy to be creative.

Royals shake many hands. This is non-fascinating. That Diana shook hands with AIDS patients when she did was interesting, and was a public health and spiritual lesson. Some news places covering would say that she couldn't catch AIDS just by touch--public health lesson.

The other reason people would be reluctant to touch AIDS people would be old--they are bad, avoid, avoid, shun, don't touch. Not a great thing about humans, but an old thing about humans.

Also old is the instinct to reach out and help and comfort people who need help and comfort. She creatively and gutsily reminded people of that part of being humans.

Pictures of her greeting people would often show her relating warmly and at eye level to young children of just to age to not remember or understand the rules about not walking over there, the place which is dangerous from the war long over that isn't over when it blows up a kid.
Anti-land mine activity was for her both a stretch and a fit.

Do you make the beauty of how you live from brand names, or do you mix your own?
Dance to the silence.
Open doors.

Friday, May 06, 2011

God kept trying to give 19th century religious people the gift of time, but a lot of them felt the gift as an attack.

"This is a big part of how I did it. I did it with time, and lots of it." People paying attention to layers of rocks and the stone critters in them kept inferring more and more time.

And that time gave room for animals to evolve and sometimes evolve differently and become different species. It is really a lot of time, impressive. God made a lot of time, and we happen in it. That would be one way to feel about it all, but the loudest reactors to the gift of time saw it as anti-God, rather God's amazing way of working.