Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Empowerment Poem

he never expected
that she would
the knife he stabbed her with.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Making the Best of What We Have: A Ration Book, a Home, a Name and a Life

Here is a photo of my grandmother's war ration book.

My grandparents lived at 3939 Washburn Ave N, Minneapolis, a 1-1/2 story, one-bedroom, one-bath home with an unfinished basement and short ceiling attic which housed their family of 2 parents and 3 children.

Please notice the form of the address. Looks like "12" was an acceptable form of zip code "55412" at that time.

Please also notice the signature.

I've only met one other woman who *today* identifies with "Mrs. HusbandsFirstname HusbandsLastname." I understand that a great deal of pride can go with the tradition. It is a ritual-of-association, but also one that many women today feel contributes to a loss of the personal identity and person-hood necessary for a mentally and emotionally healthy partnership.

I understand that the women on this side of my family struggled to freely choose the men they wanted to marry. (Nothing to do with love or spirit. Everything to do with power and control.) My great grandfather threatened to "disown" -- which is to say shun and disconnect my Grandmother Marie (aka Mrs. Donald Piepho) from any and all family connections and resources -- if she dated or married out of his approval (which she did, twice), and one great uncle on the same side threatened to have my 2nd cousin committed to an insane asylum for the same. This was an extremely dangerous proposition for these women because independent sources of income available to them during that time in history were very limited.

I don't believe that Marie was in any way forced or coerced to sign her ration book this way. Per the delighted tone in her voice when she spoke of her name, I believe it was a tradition she was familiar with that she was carrying out dutifully and with pride. Of course, elders sometimes make light of things for the sake of creating a more positive experience for their progeny, hiding the raw nerves of abuse and violence. Marie did not reveal her first annulled marriage until she began cleaning out her home at 3938 Washburn Ave to enter assisted living. That annulment was forced.

The creepy part of this oppressive history is: had that marriage not been annulled, I would not be here.

The song "Some Nights" by Fun runs through my mind....

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What does it mean to be a lover?

Here is something I read that I want to remember and share. I think it can apply to friendship and family and associates and all kinds of relationships, not just those that involve sex or the idea of sex. And not just between human beings, either, but between humans and animals and between humans and natural resources and humans and all of our creations -- and Creation itself.

Love, commitment, sensory fulfillment and delight can happen between any two entities, which is to say, any couple, any pair, any two. When we say "couple" or "partner," we think of the mated human pair. However, we act in partnership and in tandem with "others" every day.

I'm going to insert some of my broader ideas in [brackets] and replace the commonly used terms like partner and couple with [other] so you understand what I'm talking about:

What does it mean to be a lover?

[You as a Conscientious Being]

It is more than just being married to or making love to someone.
[It is more than liking them. More than spending time with them. More than serving them.]
Millions of people are married, millions of people have sex, [millions of people have friends and acquaintances, children and associates]  - but few [who among these] are real lovers?

To be a real lover, you must commit to and participate in a perpetual dance of intimacy with [the other.] [They are akin to a dance partner, sensitive to the subtle nuances in your movements and signals, accepting the carefully guided pressure of their independence and their leadership.]

You are a lover when you appreciate the gift that [the other] is, and celebrate that gift every day.
You are a lover when you remember that [the other] does not belong to you - [they are] on loan from the universe.
You are a lover when you realize that nothing that happens between you [both] will be insignificant, that everything you say in relationship has the potential to cause your beloved joy or sorrow, and everything you do will either strengthen your connection or weaken it.
You are a lover when you understand all this, and thus wake up each morning filled with gratitude that you have another day in which to love and enjoy [the other].

[Being to Being]

Reiki Wall Decor Angel
Healing Energy Art Blue by primalpainter
When you have a lover in your life, you are richly blessed. You have given the gift of another who
has chosen to walk beside you. Your lover will share [your time and] your burdens. Your lover will see secret parts of you that no one else sees. Your lover [may] touch places on your body that no one else touches. Your lover will seek you out where you have been hiding, and create a haven for you within safe, loving arms.

Your lover offers you an abundance of miracles every day. [They have] the power to delight you with [a] smile, [their] voice, [their] scent... the way [they] move. [They have] the power to banish your loneliness. [They have] the power to turn the ordinary into the sublime. [They are] your doorway to heaven here on earth.

- Barbara De Angelis, Ph.D. / [Rebecca St. Martin]

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Monday, February 03, 2014

Skooling the School

When I was in eleventh grade, I was excited to have been selected to be in the high school musical -- not just a chorus part, but a one-line solo. A friend of mine from out of town was coming in to see me perform. She had arranged a sign language interpreter to come along, and all we needed was to find a place in the light where she could see. I went to my choir director for support and what came next I was not at all prepared for. He told me no: "No interpreter." When I asked why, he said, "It will be too distracting for everyone else."

I tried negotiating. "What if the interpreter is near the wall? To the side?" And "how about near the back with a flashlight?" (I cringe today, thinking of how reminiscent this is of Rosa Parks.)

"No," he said. "We can't have one person ruin it for the rest."

Ruin it?

He leaned back in his chair, tossed the script over the desk toward me. "Here," he said. "Have her read this."

I was stunned.

What else is there to do but obey? I took the script, did a 180 and made a bee-line out of his office. 

I told my mom. She told my friend's mom. There was something abuzz. Something humming in the background. I felt deeply uncomfortable. I didn't know why.

My friend and her mom still drove 1-1/2 hours to come to the play. She did not bring the interpreter. I felt deflated and angry and embarrassed as I handed her the script. I felt like I failed her. Her mom assured me that everything would be fine.

After attorney and coalition phone calls, the school received a disability awareness education.

But I got an education, too. I will never forget how the school principal and the musical director called me into their office (alone) and denied to my face that the director prevented my friend full access to the performance. Their apology sounded something like, "I'm sorry, you misunderstood...." I won't either forget that I was not included in the 12th grade musical -- not in any aspect of it. Of course, I probably "didn't honestly make the cut."

Kindergarten stuff going on in high school. Any time I have *more* than someone else in an area, it is my privilege to be of service. Is that hard?

Is it worth mentioning that my music teacher was a White, Straight, Christian man? Strictly positive, happy-all-the-time with a huge toothy smile, and very, very well-liked by everyone, including me?

Who the hell am I?

A shit-pot stirrer.

There is a new policy. I have been made aware that all musical seasons at my alma matter now have one scheduled interpreted performance.

I lick the spoon. I pretend it's chocolate.

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