How I tell it

“But so much is storytelling.”

I can tell a version that redeems everyone, or I can parrot a story that I’ve heard countless times since childhood.

It’s a bizarre, scary, daunting and liberating epiphany to notice that it isn’t just the events of what occurred but how I assign meaning to the occurrences that can influence, if not wholly determine, how I feel and what I suggest to listeners whether a single person or hundreds.

This is a trick about storytelling as it is a subtlety of self-perception. Recently, I told of four instances where a similar threatening dynamic occurred across 10 years and when I recounted them together, as a part of a set, I started to read new meaning into the dynamics coloring my life.

Over the last three weeks, I’ve seen how readiness to tell ones story depends on an agency to be the one to elaborate and describe. To be the subject rather than an object of a fly on the wall, a nuisance, or a passive extra in some larger event. It has been remarkable to witness the shift happening, as well as the consent or non consent to share, to tell.

On forgiveness

Ridiculous. Infuriating. Asinine. Callous. Those are some of the feelings as I read an op-ed by Michael Eric Dyson spinning Desmond Tutu’s death and legacy as an alternative to the current calls for racial justice and the reckoning of the genocide across US history and the colonization of North America by European immigrants [https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/28/opinion/desmond-tutu-america-justice.html].

I want to jump to and, who is the audience for this editorial? Because why M.E. Dyson writes is preposterous.

I find the processing of whiteness — white guilt about white supremacy and whitewashing to pretend that the record is not as sordid as it is — that passes as civics and domestic politics within this nation state to be depleting and by that I mean exhausting and energy-sapping and life-taking to meet callousness with compassion, to forgive when they willfully forget and perpetuate and perpetrate new lies.

I am not a close student of Desmond Tutu’s public speeches and statements, leadership and political moves and public stances. I’ve done some reading about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission following the end of apartheid but we are far from being in a place where white America will tell their truths.

I want to ridicule Dyson by pointing out the absurdity of being a tenured professor at Vanderbilt University writing about the merits of making it work out. I find it difficult to read because this is more naive than Democratic legislators trying to negotiate with Republican peers who do not accept women and people of color as equals.

I once believed a myth that Black people in the United States could save the rest of the citizenry. But I don’t but much faith in such savior roles or racial dogma at this juncture in my life. I want to judge my younger self for harboring such foolish naïveté, as I did about all the shovel-ready-projects that were supposed to lubricate the stimulus package in 2009. But all that grandiose policy amounted to little of what was promised. It was futile for the president and members of Congress to promise about an 21st century energy grid or rapid transit trains spanning from Florida to the Northeast to California when they could not guarantee governing majorities for years on end. Instead, they made multi-year promises when they rose to committee chairs then were sidelined into minority party status by November 2010.

There’s something similarly amiss when Black Lives Matter is being conflated with cancel culture and then blamed for the inhospitable and dysfunctional and violent state of affairs between races in the United States.

Dyson doesn’t say “turn the other cheek” but he suggests that the well of indigenous and Black redemption of reckless white Americans is a renewable resource. To highlight the forgiveness of family members of the Charleston 9 is unfortunate, if not perverse. To have to hold and accommodate a man who pretended to be coming for prayer group is a tremendous and horrendous burden. Maybe redemption and forgiveness can be infinite but at this stage in my life, they do not feel sufficient for the illness and ailments that plague this society.

Maybe the timeless aspect of the oppressed’s forgiveness is that we are all humans and ultimately, there will/must be some balancing amongst the humans but it is hard to feel that when most of what I see is ignorance and defiance among people who have been accustomed to others suffering being coupled with their indulgence. Even as they learn of their impact, they don’t want to rein their excesses in. They want to continue to be violent and genocidal in their supremacist belief systems.

What’s the point of taking the moral ground when the ground is being seized and taken or plundered? Rather than prescribe maybe he could acknowledge the anguish and disgust that people of color feel. The pain that more whites acknowledge and empathize with and can acknowledge rather than argue or avoid. But there’s no reconciliation without going through the agony and saddling the burden of that leadership on people of color and other oppressed majorities is not how we rectify the brokenness of the powerful.

From the oven to my belly

7 of the 19 windows currently open are on the smittenkitchen.com domain, those being:

Earlier today, I baked the corn pudding recipe for the first time. But that page is no longer open so it isn’t in the list above though it was the gateway to a number of these other sweet, baked things. The estimated cook and prep time was 40 minutes but between bathroom assistance and reading two books, it was closer to two hours before that was finished. It took about two hours for all of the dish to be gone, too.

As the list above reveals, I like to bake. And I like chocolate. And I keep coming back to SK and Deb Perelman because the simplicity and the reductions in how to prepare is a relief and the food when finished is devoured.

Deb Perelman’s website is up there with Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food cookbook as a few of the constants that I return again and again. I only began to use Perelman after a friend’s recommendation of World Peace Cookies in December 2016 whereas I’ve had Bittman’s cookbook since 2002.

I frequent the site for Saveur and Food52 as well but not with the frequency of the others.

The American way

pledges of transparency and accountability have given way to opacity and impunity.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/12/18/us/airstrikes-pentagon-records-civilian-deaths.html

This from staff within the Pentagon. Where senior officials did their damnedest to prevent these observations and documentation from being seen and known.

Military. Corporations. Schools. Government social programs. Consultants on COVID relief over the last two years, some of who are retired military brass.

Plutocrats plundering for the sake of their own enrichment. A timeless series of acts of collusion and nepotism and corruption. Some people want to perpetuate beliefs of American exceptionalism but this conduct is no different than hundreds of other nation states and regimes.

Epic squared

all the arts are about getting your shit out. And getting it out in a way that, if you’re lucky, is gonna create a path for someone else to work through their shit.

https://believermag.com/interview-black-thought-john-morrison/

Then I have to get more “personal, intimate and vulnerable” to exhume the trauma and divulge the unspoken.

exhume (verb): 1. to dig (something buried, especially a dead body) out of the earth; disinter. 2. to revive or restore after neglect or a period of forgetting; bring to light:

Considering my intrigue with dead, death and deafening, I am to exhume, indeed.

Ailments > Healings

Earlier I read a phrase that the meager attempt of a solution providing resolution to a tremendous problem was akin to:

aspirin for cancer

And I jumped to the metaphor that the machinations of Democrats and the Democratic Party are antibiotics — over-prescribed and increasingly ineffective.

There are various fronts and flanks and subcommittees among the Democrats: senators and congresspeople within the federal system, legislators across the states, and those at the municipal and local levels; the Blue Dogs; the New Democrats; the Progressive Caucus; the social liberals who purport to be fiscal conservatives; the alumni of the Obama administration, the alumni of the Clinton administration, and those who worked in both; co-sponsors of the Green New Deal; the military hawks versus the peaceniks; and the Squad. Obviously, there are others but this is an incomplete list.

And there’s some sparring, jockeying, subterfuge, allying and aligning between different individuals and certain camps. I speculate that there’s not cohesion or unanimity on the benefits and reasons for growing the numbers of D elected officials as some of the DS in Congress do not care for other DS, and some of them are capable of befriending and cuddling and aligning with Republicans. The split between the Bernie Sanders supporters versus the Hillary Clinton supporters became a leadership vote (and upset) within the Nevada Democratic Party that is now causing the power and roles between the national body (the DNC) and the state parties to be renegotiated. Even though many leaders of the state parties may not have stood with the current NV leadership on the Bernie/Hillary vote, they are seemingly with the outsiders and insurgents-who-have-become-officials interns of data files, money and bank accounts and some other forms of power-sharing or power-grabbing.

That being said, the suggestions that what will salvage or strengthen the levers of power and structures of politics are more Democrats are offering a miserable remedy for a severely broken apparatus.

The continued dependence on a two-party system inhibits us from destroying some of the legal and financial structures that are barriers that essentially prohibit new actors from entering politics. When the legal barriers are too high that they are nearly impossible to alter, we are told to settle into the limited notion that we most work within the Democratic or Republican Party, which is inadequate for the ailments that we face. There are special interests who maintain the status quo and they do not wish to move towards greater democracy.

They will not accede without demands. so we must make many demands.

Blowback: haunts the future

From the 2000 book Blowback: the costs and consequences of American Empire (published by Metropolitan Books) by Chalmers Johnson, who was in the Navy, stationed in Japan, researched China, then did intelligence work or informant with and for federal agencies.

“There is a logic to empire that differs from the logic of a nation, and acts committed in service to an empire but never acknowledged as such have a tendency to haunt the future.” (pg 8)

“The United States, however, is the world’s most prominent target for blowback, being the world’s lone imperial power, the primary source of the sort of secret and semi secret operations that shore up repressive regimes, and by far the largest seller of weapons generally.” (pg 11)

Staying this after acknowledging how Russia, Japan, and Israel had received blowback in the 1990s, none of which compared with the magnitude of energy and animosity directed at the US.

“Blowback itself can lead to more blowback, in a spiral of destructive behavior. A good illustration of this lies in the government’s reaction to the August 7, 1998, bombings of American embassy buildings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. (pg 10)

Sadness place

Earlier today, I wondered: where is sadness in my body?

My first thought was my heart. That was too obvious and a thought rather than a feeling. A few, split seconds later, I sensed my feet. Again, here I was returning to my feet.

A few months ago, I resolved to care for my feet in ways that I care for my hands. I’m still not doing that across the day as my feet are below my waist, not easily above my waist hundreds of times a day. Yet, I am offering more attention, soothing embrace of my two feet and ten toes. Still, this is not enough.

I won’t replace my shoes and socks with some sort of glove for walking but I do wonder how to afford ny feet more love when they are adjacent to the ground and so much of my day is spent upright, and when I round up, my eyes are six feet off of the ground. And my feet are just about six feet away from my brain with all these other body parts in between and clamoring for their own sort of attention, affection, acceptance, allowance, and appreciation.

So, the sadness. It may also be in my back. Weighing on my back. Scratching my back. Hunching my whole body forward, leaning forward towards the coming onslaughts of the rest of the day and future days. Tightened in my back. And constipated like knots in my back.

I was asking for the location as that may be a passageway into my tears, if and when I can locate the sadness. The mild sadness of four decades isn’t the pangs of sadness that beget sobbing. Mild sadness has created a callus of enduring, and of keeping on in the presence of so much shit that abounds and surrounds. I’ve banished certain categories of shit and suffering — quitting jobs, eliminating manipulators, ghosting on dickheads, refraining from professional sporting industry hoopla and hype from devouring weekends and evenings. But there’s thousands more types of shit and suffering beyond these few.

And I’ve pushed the squalor into some far corner or high shelf in a closet within this body where I don’t stick my hands or cast my eyes. Switching from neglect to attentive is not an easy pivot. Or maybe it is, but I’m in need of ways to come into that sadness without dissociation or critical analysis. That feels like the balance needed for bike riding, not leaning too far towards the side of critical analysis not leaning too far forward or backwards that I flip over handlebars or fall off of the bike seat. I learned to bike at a late age, later than most, and maybe, I’ll do something similar when it comes to learning to feel the big sad. Maybe that place where my butt is on the seat and my feet are on the pedals is not that far away. But, I ought to figure out where to place my feet and my hands and where to place my back without getting too heady as I go there.

Get a ducking clue

As Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor says:

But it does mean that there is intense insecurity in this country. Social dislocation means people don’t know where they fit. Immigration gets the blame. It’s totally racist and it is about class and economics. It is both at the same time. Race and class are entwined in this country, and the constant efforts to separate the two create confusion.

But that’s why we need a fucking political party that can challenge that way of thinking. A party that can argue with this framework. Instead, the argument is just ceded to the right….

These clowns in Congress are laughing all the way to the bank as they do the bidding for, to be crass, the capitalist class that is running things!

Picking on the youngest ones

That mark, David Shor, has the audacity to chide the 20-something volunteers, temporary workers, part time workers, interns and entry level employees for the Democrat Party.

Shor picks on the young adults, when there’s layer upon layer of the Old Boys Network in campaign consultants, lobbyists and other industries that orbit around partisan political.

Shor picks on the young adults when there are the incumbents and first time candidates that come from the traditional places resulting in the likelihood that they will get their blessings and backing of the bloated Establishment of the Democratic Party.

Shor picks on the young adults when there are the donor class who invest in disappointing mediocrity that enshrines modest tweaks to the status quo rather than robust interventions and interruptions oc systems that are broken for most families, adults and children, but systems that serve the plutocrats.

And this wunderkind wunderkid is heralded for concluding that 18-29 year olds are more progressive and more liberal and more radical than the typical Democratic voter. Note: there’s an aspect of confirmation bias considering the swaths of adults eligible to vote who are to disgusted by Democrats and Republicans to identify with either of the two main political parties.

But this Obama campaign acolyte is being repurposed and repackaged because the Democratic Party knows that it faces multiple existential crises. First among them, that the older voters who preferred HRC in the 2015-2016 primary are dying while tge teenagers coming into voting age are much more likely to vote for Bernie Sanders abd AOC types of candidates.

And, the Old Boys Network can’t stand it.

In part because the white guys in power, who benefit the most from nepotism and it’s-who-you-know patronage, don’t want to share power and have to adhere to equity. The white guys don’t want to have to give up half of all the seats at the table and half of all the positions to women. The white guys don’t want to have to give up 20% more of the seats at the table to men of color. The white guys don’t want to have to give up another 5% of the seats to gender nonconforming and non-binary people. The white guys do not think that their slice is only 35% of the whole.

That said, the white guys in power do not believe in equity, fairness, or representation. The white guys in power do not believe in this basic form of democracy.

Too many white men in power who put the letter D after their name will collude and conspire with Republicans to defeat or thwart changes coming from the reluctant Ds, those of us who pick that affiliation as the lesser of two evils and a compromised, hollowed political audacity.

Shor looks to the history of the likes of Bill Clinton, John Corzine, Chuck Schumer, Terry McAuliffe, John Hickenlooper, and Steny Hoyer. He trusts that there will be plenty more doors and floors for him to rise to, as the Democratic Party has plenty of seats for just his type.