Pause and Play

When I close my eyes, the sounds of the city awakening are the first memories. I woke up early nearly every morning, listening to the sounds of Santiago coming to life, readying for work, steadying the culture. The cool mist of morning haze swayed around the high-rise apartments across the tiny valley and our own building, teasing us to enjoy the cool sunrise that would soon give way to the heat of late summer.

img_2173Walking in Santiago has a soundtrack, a background stream of staccato notes that if I ever heard them again, I would be transported. The road outside the apartment is filled, traveling every which way depending on the time of day, with cars, trucks, and scooters. There are people bustling to the financial center of the city, of the country, near the U.S. Embassy. Well dressed even in the rising heat, they have quiet conversations as they scurry away. It’s not New York or San Francisco loud. It’s a more subdued dialogue inside the city confines.

As we take to the streets for a morning exploration, the sidewalks are filled with bicycles and scooters, zipping around the pedestrians. They are an irritant that could be a dangerous one. The people don’t seem to mind. As we travel through the city, there is no undercurrent of music that you sometimes hear in large cities. There is no undercurrent of public transportation. The sound is weirdly muffled, steamy, and strange to my ears. It is conversation. It is discussion, laughter, and serious direction. The voices of Santiago and clear and lyrical, regardless of the tongue speaking.

My companions are of this city, and have had a long love affair with this town. As with all love affairs, their vision notes the changes over time that irritate as well as inspire. The bicycles make people nervous on sidewalks and the tongues that speak are clearly not native to Chile. The incoming population from other countries is jarring. We travel through my friend’s lifelong journey, as we navigate days and lunches and dinners, parks and walks, ice cream and antiques. I learn more about my friends by listening to them guide us in this life. I learn about the Chilean people and the love they have of culture and the future. It’s more than learning why there is always vinegar and oil on the dining table (rather than salad dressing) or why palmitos are a favorite. It’s the way my friends spoke about everything Chilean, be it family homes or the food people eat. 

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There is this honest, underlying pride that permeates the culture. It’s at odds with itself right now, fighting to breathe in a culture that is struggling against new and old. We traveled through parts of the city that were devastated by youth and protests; lower walls covered with myriad graffiti and damage. Those not covered with spray paint are covered with steel sheets and wood, saving windows and precious architecture. Armed military stand ready in parks to disperse the crowds and hoodlums. Unemployment is high and immigration is high, causing the standard stresses. Who is stealing jobs? What about the cost of goods? What’s next? Fear flows through all cultures.

But underneath, there is a pride of culture, history, language. Chilean food speaks to the integration of European and Indigenous tastes, priding itself on fresh and pure. There is a crossroads of culture in language. My companion told me that they can tell when someone is not Chilean, by their language accent and words they use. In an antique shop, the owner complimented my friend on her way with language, noting that most people don’t “talk that way, any longer.” Slow, clear, lyrical, the language tells one volumes about a culture. This gave me the distinct impression that Chile is at a cultural precipice. Can they maintain this proud depth of identity?

img_2135In the middle of this trip, we spent a few days in Brazil, and there couldn’t be a more different culture than Chile. Chile has a well-spring of Europe under the covers. The memories of Spain, Germany, and parts of Northern Africa all influence Chile’s identity. Brazil has this crazy chaos, in every aspect of life. Maybe it is their leaders, maybe it is the closeness to Europe and Africa, maybe it is a deep tie to nature – I am not sure. There are vast chasms between what they say and do, what is important and what is actionable. There is an underlying tension in speech, driving, goods, living conditions – all of which are in your face when it comes to the canyons between them. The soundtrack of this country is the scooter beep. Incessant and irritating, they are gnats in your ears. Sleep is a relief.

img_2102Back in Chile, there was a comfort to me in that underlying European maturity. The days were filled with wine and food, laughter, and exploration. I would love to visit in Spring, when the city is alive with flowers and scents of new life, when the breeze is cooler, the beaches open and laughter walks the roads. I am grateful to see this beautiful country through the eyes of friends and loved ones; it was a rare insight that I am truly thankful to have received.

~TDD

Breath of Hecate

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1.

Sandy white sidewinders
trickle down the frosty asphalt
unconscious, unaware that they
are crushed by mounting progress and steel-belted purpose
I watch them dance giddy and free
ashamed of not knowing if
they are coming or going
not knowing if it is them
or me
wanting more

2.

Pale caramel and icy
My world has transformed itself
by my grasp, my fortitude
A dim idea of direction
shadow faith
Flashbacks, piercing the center of my body
longing for what I knew,
uncertainty and doubt
My life is speaking a different language to me
and I am straining to understand
Change, Change, the soft, icy embrace of Change
lusted for or not,
She is a lonely, somber lover

3.

I reduced control
to the barest a thin slice of skin
between all and nothing
facing myriad directions,
I built it back up in consciousness and breathed
a long and smoldering 360 degree sigh
Eyes and mind open,
a heart beating again
It’s time to build, time to make within
the sphere of my hands
and mind a new world order,
pin prick in the center of me


shipA momentary blob of poetry in an otherwise quiet and patient Sunday evening. Forgive the intrusion. I’m blobbing some of H.D. Thoreau here, too, cause I’m feeling it.

“I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I do not wish to go below now.”

If Thoreau could have said “E-Ticket Ride,” he would have.

-TDD

 

Dear John,

Those who repeat their mistakes are doomed to perform them again and again. Those who refuse to look at history and refuse take into account economic, political, social, and scientific influences on that history are doomed to walk its narrow path again. I’ve hopefully woken up a smarter woman for having opened my eyes and seen yours.

fearI used to think you were innocuous, and needed little thought. Doesn’t “right” always win? The thing I forgot is that from every point of view, all people believe they do “good.” I gave up good and bad long ago – there is only love and hate, war and peace, poverty and fecundity, and the long variations in-between. Where we land on the continuum is up to us. You, Ignorance and Fear, are at the far ends of the spectrum.

What I cannot fathom is why you have so many friends? And why those friends continue to have influence? I think that it is because we truly live in a place where we welcome fear and ignorance; otherwise, we wouldn’t embrace them. When I finally had the courage to stand up and turn off my media feed, I became my own thinker. My mistake was forgetting that you hadn’t turned off yours. My mistake was not knowing the company you keep.

And that is the part that I have the biggest difficulty with and sadness about. It’s not about your policy of lies and deceit. Everyone lies. It’s not about your messed up policies of misdirection and obfuscation. We all do that, really… vis a vis statistics. No. It’s about the fact that you have taken in so many of the people that I know and respect. You have made them your friends. And they willingly embraced you. We all know that community is built by like-minded people. Ergo, those people who I believed were my community, my tribe, have ceased to be so. Where I thought they were open to new ideas, respectful of human life, fair to the less fortunate, and desirous of building a nation of educated, thoughtful, ignoranceand creative human beings… well, I was wrong. Because, yes, a vote for you is a vote for the antithesis of all those good works. Yes. Those who went this direction must embrace what they really are – full of hate, violence, racism, sexism, unethical behavior, illegal behavior, and true ignorance. A vote for you, Fear, is a vote to accept hatred into your heart. A vote for you, Ignorance, is a vote to accept the brutal treatment of your fellow human beings, the ridicule, and blindness to conditions, and deafness to the plight of people who truly have it worse than you. If that is what one of my tribe has accepted, then they are no tribe of mine. You cannot run away from it. I do judge you on your actions, and your actions support these concepts. Do you deny it? Yes? Then you have made my case.

As Dr. Stephen Covey said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” I have listened, tried to understand. I have tried like a lover who is desperate for embraces in the cold, dark night. I must admit that Yoda was right – there is no try. Do, or do not. And I have to finally admit defeat. I do not completely understand. Perhaps I am too tired to understand, or maybe weak myself. I do know that I cannot be a party to the toxicity that you engender. I will continue to work toward understanding – but I cannot do it with the noise you bring to the table. I thought about a trial separation but that seems inadequate. I know that I have to break it off completely.

So, Fear and Ignorance, and your tribe, I unfriend you. I am walking away, taking my digital-ignorancebelongings with me. If I need to get a civil standby to watch over me while I take my goods away, so be it. I will protect what is still my tribe with all the tools I have available. I’m clearing the phone book of you and your ilk.  I’m going to out and party with my true tribe and make plans for my future. I will send you back all your hatred and lies in a nice box, wrapped in pretty emptiness and delivered by stoic apathy. You will not hear from me for some time.  It’s just as well. I wouldn’t know what to say to you until the plans for the future become clearer.

Eventually, you both may make it back into my life as a distant bystander. In the interspace, I will grow stronger. I choose to dust myself off and not only be deaf to your cries and woes but to actively disarm them. As a friend just said, there will be many opportunities for heroism in the next four years. I pick up that challenge and may create a few of my own. It’s time that I got off my lazy, complacent intentions and got some real work done. I’m not listening any more, I’m doing. I will more than survive you. I will take root, I will thrive, and I will work hard to not take from you but to diminish you. I want your flame to be small, cold, and wanting… wanting for air to breathe and for darkness to enfold you. The way I make you small is by making the rooms of life so bright that you disperse in the oncoming day. I will challenge every word you speak and every game you play. I will take bruises and beatings if it means keeping you at bay.

I want to live my life with a community and country of which I can be proud. That starts at home. For those of you who want grace, passion, creativity, love, hope, truth, knowledge, patience, tolerance, and true justice, I am with you. It’s time to drive our tribe forward once and for all, and let the last gasps of Fear and Ignorance be a hollow whisper in our memories. Goodbye. I will not wish you well or luck because I do not wish them for you. I only wish for you both to get exactly what you deserve.

Regards,

-TDD

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Things

I recently read an article in some such magazine about the 10 things every woman should have. This, of course, was written by a man and, being a “glamor” magazine, he was a designer. Yes, at least one of the things that every woman should have is one of his designer bags.

However inane the article, it got me thinking about the 40-something woman, myself included, and what were the 10 things we should have. At this point in my life, I look around and ask myself – what should that be?

10. A good hair cutter and/or hairdresser. By this time, I’ve figured out what I like in the people who take care of me – an attitude that is like mine. The main thing my hairdresser should have is the goal of helping me look good. That’s why I keep going back.

9. A method to their closet. I know what I like in clothes now, although I’m willing to have a “fad” section. But in the end, if I can’t find it, I’ve lost it. So, I actually separate my clothes by color and type, so I can find them. No, I haven’t alphabetized them. That’s next.

8. A good ear for what your body is saying. There comes some point, about now, where you realize that you are not all that. And you’re not 20 any longer. But you’re not dead yet, either. Movement is good. Healthy food is good. Laughter and sleep – way good. Push a little sometimes, back off others. We know when too far is, well, too far. And being women of body intelligence, we listen.

7. An amazing chiropractor and an equally amazing massage therapist. Remember that whole body thing? Well these guys are there for when we forget to listen.

6. A favorite chocolate. Lindt 85% Chocolate. Enough said.

5. A few good recipes. Whether you’re a light cook or a die-hard, there’s something we should all know how to pull out of the drawer, once in a while, and make off the top of our head, whether it’s S’mores or Beef Wellington.

4. Our own style. By this time, we’ve figured out our likes, dislikes, and never like it again things – whether it’s sports, clothing, food, makeup, hobby, etc. We know what drives the passion, fuels the fire, and gets us creative, the true reason for being. What do we create? It doesn’t matter, as long as it has the stamp of “us” on it.

3. A passion. Not only do we have a sense of style but we’ve discovered the source – our passion, a reason for getting up in the morning and greeting the day. Writing, children, painting, music, partner, garden, school – whatever it is, every woman needs her passion.

2. Perspective. Not only do we know that we are pretty powerful, we also know our limitations. We should have the ability to step back and get the entire picture, the whole enchilada. We have been there and in many case, done that. We can speak from experience. All experience? Hell no! That’s perspective, too.

1. And yes, the number one thing every woman my age should have is: A sense of humor. Come on! If we can’t laugh at ourselves now, it’s just going to get really ugly later. Life is not to be endured but enjoyed. We’re going to sag, bag, and lag. We’re going to get gray, well, most of us will. We’re going to want to take naps. Yes, we will age. We will require moisturizer. Let’s laugh along the way. We never know how long we’re going to get so let’s just enjoy what we have right now.

And look, there’s not a purse amongst the things I need. Take that, Michael Kors!

-TDD