8/24/2005

QOTD

The only way to get published is to persist. Oh yeah, and writing writing writing, writing as hard and as well and as much as you can. All you can do is write the best poems you can figure out how to write, and keep on sending them out -- the rest is out of your control. That, and not letting either acceptance or rejection go to your head. When you sit down and face the blank page, that page doesn't give a crap who's accepted or rejected you before. It's a fresh challenge every single time. And that's the beauty of it.
Anne Haines of Land Mammal via Ivy

And yesterday too, I randomly picked up Write Mind from my bookshelf, and randomly flipped open to entry 99, which said something like:

Wrong Mind: All I write is drivel!
Write Mind: I am blocking my own creativity. The next time I come to the page, I won't write about what just interests me. I will write a pool of my own blood on the page.

And I thought Oh! That's why I'm so afraid of my writing! *facepalm*

Bleeding on the page...vulnerability...lack of borders...victimization...hurt...

But like Christ, can I bleed to bring about healing and reconciliation?

Now /there's/ a challenge.

8/23/2005

Pinoy HipHop

Last week on So You Think You Can Dance one of the competitors danced his survival dance (to gain audience votes and survive til the next round) to a hiphop song in Tagalog. I was totally blown away! I mean I'd heard of Pinoy hiphop, of course, but to hear it on national TV was really amazing and cool for me. This is what happens when a Pinay spends most of her life in the middle of white suburban upperclass America.

It took a bit to find it, but thanks to the community forums for the show, I found that it was Bebot by Black Eyed Peas. Too cool! Then the hubby got online and found a bunch of open access MP3s of Pinoy Hiphop. I'm so jazzed! I'm now the newest fan of apl.de.ap!

So peeps - turn me on to good Pinoy hiphop, kay? Who's your fav and who should I to listen to next?

8/21/2005

Sea Stories

Best Quote from last weekend's camping trip with the kids and 'rents at Ocean Shores:

My friend says "They're so rich, they have to go out to be poor!" - my mother, encapsulating her true feelings about the whys and wherefores of the 'American' urge to 'camp.'

So on the one hand we have my mom who believes that she camped out enough during wartime and on the other, we have my dad who has been itching to go camping since I was a Brownie Scout. Put into the mix the Timeshare they had bought at the insistence of my Lolo some 20 years ago, and you've got the groundwork for what was the actual experience of the 'camping' trip. I keep saying 'camping' because we were actually all just sharing a 5 person trailer permanently parked at a seaside resort with running water, electricity and cable TV. So yeah, in a sense we /paid/ to be trailer trash for a weekend. *chuckle.*

That said, there was nothing more wonderful than to be by the sea again. It was the first time I had been oceanside since leaving Hawaii 7 years ago. Before moving to Hawaii, I loved to be by the sea, but was mostly comfortable near the Puget Sound, rather than the open sea. The power of the waves was just too overwhelming. In Hawaii, the power was worse and actually gave me a sense of vertigo. I thought perhaps I had lost my sea-sense.

But last weekend, I walked along the shore, played tag with the waves, and didn't feel a /bit/ of vertigo. I felt /at home/ finally. And to be there with my family, picking up half sand dollars and watching the kites lift into the sky was just incredible. Having Leny's Book of Her Own along with me helped me reset a few jangled nerves and ease some worries. New ones cropped up, of course, in their wake.

I've nearly lapsed into my old stress patterns except that now I have babaylan in my heart and the sea in my spirit, and all I have to do is remember my walk and everything just seems to be okay again.

8/19/2005

A Book of Her Own III

The essay The Heart of Teaching found in Leny Strobel's A Book of Her Own echoes many of my experiences with teaching PostColonial Literature to college students.

I taught for only two quarters, a pinch hitter for a professor out on emergency medical leave. I taught one class each quarter, two nights a week, the first quarter using the books the original professor had chosen, the second quarter using texts I chose. Both quarters I taught to a group of about 60 students ranging from precocious Freshmen trying to get their general university requirements out of the way early, all the way to jaded seniors trying to get their last general university requirement out of the way before graduation. In essence, the only thing that brought us together was this external requirement, and given their druthers, I knew they would have rather spent their time/money on something other than PostColonial literature, especially once I started deconstucting their understanding of White Priviledge.

As in Leny's experience, the classes were mostly composed of white middle class students and a handful of folk of color. One quarter I had an Englishman who was incredibly bemused by the class - apparently this 'race issue' was an 'American' phenomenon and he had trouble figuring out what all the hullabaloo was all about. During the first class, I started deconstructing the assumptions about White Priviledge by listing the attributes most desired by US society - male, white, 30s, heterosexual, married w/kids, Christian, making a living in finance or science. This was a list the class generated which immediately made them uncomfortable - I could see the reaction in their eyes You mean I actually have to participate in class even before I've learned anything? . I was setting the standard - I wasn't going to provide all the answers to the complex questions the texts were going to give and they would have to work for their own understanding.

This first exercise immediately Othered the majority of the class. There was usually only one person in the entire group who fit the description of the 'perfect' American. Stage Set.

The rest of the class we wrestled with the concepts of Dominant Paradigm, Alternative Paradigm, Dominant Alternative Paradigm, and Dominant Reactive Paradigm in relation to such texts as A Right to Be Hostile, Palestine and Babaylan. Entering an Othering space where the Dominant Paradigm did not provide the 'correct' answers was world tilting to my students and few survived the class without having to struggle through survivor's guilt and a terrible sense of helplessness. By the end of the class we brought it down to brass tacks - how can we purchase certain products at bargain prices knowing that somewhere, someone was paid a pittance to harvest/sew/assemble the thing we desire/need? How can we survive in an economy built on an ever increasing split between rich and poor? How is it possible to support culturally and environmentally sustainable products that are equitible to workers but more expensive to purchase?

No easy answers, but I saw that as a good thing. They left my class, the ones really engaged in the material, more aware of the complexities of their world and less likely to simply follow White Priviledge because it was the easy thing to do.

Later in Leny's essay, she relates her experience as a member of a mostly suburban, White, liberal, upper middle-class church. She tells of a particular Sunday dedicated to overseas missions and the moment when she realized How could I keep smiling and looking grateful for these good-hearted but complicious projects that reinforced US domination under the guise of evangelical zeal?. She struggled with the good intentions of her church members whose actions and attitudes silenced the political dialogue created by the disjunction between Gospel and Action. She writes To erase such differences, especially in the context of a localized hegemony of Whiteness, was to render my life trivial. And no amount of belonging was enough to offset having my life trivialized. So I left that church, and am still searching for another..

This reminded me of a conversation I had with an Evangelical Christian friend of mine in which I related that my difficulty was not with Christ or even Christianity, but with Christians. To ignore the things done in the name of religion, especially the Catholic Church from the time of the Crusades, through the Counter Reformation, through the progroms, and finally colonization of the 'new world' was to essentially bleach my own skin and commit to gender reclassification. His return argument was unfortunately all too telling, saying that he too felt Othered by the Gospel since Christ was a Jew with olive skin, not a Franco American living in the deep south *ahem*. I have yet to properly respond to this line of thought, mostly because my ire is unbounded whenever I think about the conversation.

It's a difficult thing to be committed to the teachings of the Catholic Church, to have Faith and yet be aware of what has been done to my people, to the indigineous peoples of the world in the name of Christianity, for the sake of "civilizing" and "spreading the Word." But in this process I'm in now, this breaking apart and mosaicking something new, I am realizing that there is space, there is the possibility of decolonizing Christianity, of deconstructing the Master Narratives that have burdened Christian history and created the Whitewashing of Christian thought, because I can imagine that space as existing.

I believe there is space for honoring and celebrating diversity, of creating sustainable cultures of faith that are inclusive, but like my students, we have to be willing to see the possibilities and go forward with hope, using the tools/gifts we have been given, and perhaps to finally beat swords in to plowshares.

I think I'm beginning to understand the shape of my Intent.

A Book of Her Own II

The Gift of Dreams is a powerful chapter/prose poem in Leny Strobel's A Book of Her Own. In it, Leny relates images and narrative from dreams, ending each with focusing texts she titles Ponder this:.

I dream in color and for the most part, I dream surface dreams which seem part mystery science theater 3k, part purge-of-the-daily-stress, sprinkled liberally with twists and turns that would make the average dream interpreter crosseyed.

Occasionally though, I dream True. The specifics of True Dreaming are shrouded in mystery reserved for initiates only (*^.-*) however, the point is, that after reading The Gift of Dreams , I dreamt True and was even given the Gift of Interpretation the same night. I can only attribute this miracle to Leny's poetry.

The details?

I was in my old childhood church, before the Reconfiguration, when the altar was still at the back of the Church not the side, and definitely not relocated to its new space. I was in a hurry, because I new Fr. F was in the Vestry and that I needed to help him quickly. I found him in the room to left side of the altar, apparently frustrated. Sunlight streamed from a skylight above us. Around him were several others who I perceived were there to help him get ready for Mass. The problem was, though, that no one knew how to put on the elaborate vestments required. No amount of explanation from Fr. F seemed to help as the others didn't seem to speak the same language. I, though, understood him, although I too was unfamiliar with the vestments. We quickly layered on robe after robe, a few of them resembling flannel nightshirts that I had seen during the Real Day. After arranging the layers, the robes didn't quite settle correctly, so I knelt to tug at the hems. As soon as the robes were correct, Fr. F departed to start Mass. I don't remember if he thanked me, but I do remember feeling a sense of relief and accomplishment.

Once Mass starts, there's no going back to the main church except by using a hallway hidden behind the altar that connected the Vestry with the Bride's Room. I ducked down the passage and met a person who was very agitated. She said that there was a fire in the Bride's Room and she didn't know what to do. I quickly went down the passage telling her that I could try to put out the fire. In the Bride's Room I found a large table covered in candles all burning brightly and threatening to catch the table on fire. I quickly pulled the pin on a fire extinguisher and used the fluid to put out the candles. I realized that the fire had been deliberately set.

Ponder this: There is something only you can do, something sacred, something necessary. Something that must be layered to be complete, that will require both humility and the willingness to set things straight/correct before it goes into the world to do what it needs to do. But in moving from Light to Dark, beware of the possible destruction of what has been built, that there is a sabatour Within. You have the tools to end the destruction and allow the Work already set in motion to proceed unimpeded.

When A Yoga Master and the Pope Meet

One of the interesting things about reading several books at the same time is that themes tend to play against each other, creating a dialogue likely never imagined. When Pope John Paul II was simply known as Bishop Karol Wojtyla, he conducted a retreat, providing daily talks on the Christian path to young college students in attendence. In contrast, yoga master and writer Jeff Davis shares his insight into both discplines to create a mindful writing method in his book The Journey from the Center to the Page (which on glance at Amazon, has apparently been remaindered as a hardback, so the paperback is actually more expensive than the cloth cover version. Interesting.)

*shakes head to clear thoughts*

On the one hand, Davis shares his conviction that ritual is an integral part of a successful writer's life. Rituals define writing space, making the act of writing a sacred thing. In my heart, I believe what he is saying is true for me. I seem to write best when I define my writing space distinctly as opposed to haphazardly trying to write something down between this task and that. But lets face it, as a working mom facing the very real possiblity of adding another part-time job to her already busy schedule, the looseness required to honor ritual seems a remote possibility. However, the impression is clear especially in light of my recent exploration of Babaylan. Ritual moments are important and I'd argue, for myself, essential to both my well being as well as my writing. Rituals provide balance between the busy-ness of our day to day world with the stillness needed to tap into the passion that fuels art.

Enter JPII. If there is one thing we can say about the Catholic Church, it's all about ritual. Theodrama. Ritual and repetition ground the Mass, the Rosary, the Book of Hours. In his second talk Christianity, the Religion of Choice, JPII continues his idea of community and conversation between God and Creation from the first chapter on God Is Person. His view focuses on the Gospels as revelatory, and not so much in the sense of prophetic or historic, although he is adamant that the Gospels are these things also. But by saying that the Gospels are revelatory, he means that they are one side of a conversation that God is trying to carry on with Creation, that the entire life of Christ is about bringing about balance between God and Creation. (The choice part for JPII comes into whether or not we choose to believe this is what's happening.)

So from reading this pair (thank you Mark Geisler of WWU for showing me this method of close reading) for me I can say that Life gets out of balance because I'm juggling so many things at once. Being out of balance means I can't focus on writing very well. The key to achieving balance is to first recognize there's an imbalance then enter into a ritual that creates the space for balance. The beauty of it, though, is that this points to the possibility that writing is not outside my faith, but that actually the pattern of my faith might reveal how to go about being the writer I aspire to become.

(It's interesting to note here too, that I first learned the key concepts behind close readings - historical/cultural context, alignment of key passages to other parts of narrative, connection to experience and other texts - from the homilies I heard each Sunday and Holy Day. Thankfully, most of the priests I've encountered are really good at close readings and have strengthened my ability to enter into texts more fully.)

Unlearning Fear

In Dick Straub's book Christian Wisdom of the Jedi, the author speaks of the need to unlearn fear. I remember Yoda saying something like "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." Straub argues that by unlearning fear, which to my mind goes beyond simply releasing fear, the spiral to the Dark Side is effectively avoided.

Now this seems to be correct on the surface, and I'd even go so far as to say that it would be a good thing for me to unlearn my fear patterns, to decouple myself from fear narratives. But from what little I know of Gavin De Becker's book The Gift of Fear , I also know that a healthy respect for fear can be protective.

Basically as both a woman and a person of color, I've learned that to be afraid is to understand that all things are not equal in the society in which I live. The rules are not the same for me as they are for members of the dominant paradigm. My fears are founded on both experience with sexism and racism as well as being witness to the sufferings of Others. These aren't fears that can/should be dismissed, but rather examined very carefully, not only to validate them as grounded in reality, but to also protect against those strange moments that can blind side me. Those weird times when I'm followed around in a store by a clerk who I realize is making sure I don't steal anything. Those strange times when the leer of a man may change to an aggressive move to possess me physically, mentally or emotionally. Those cold moments when I realize that I am target, object, exotic, Other.

Fear can paralyze and lead to unbalance, but the Jedi I have seen both in the movies and in real life, are aware of the messages fear bring and use that knowledge to protect, enlighten, and heal. I think even Yoda would agree that this is a type of Listening to the Force.

*chuckle* although I have to admit, I'm not ready to face a laser dart ball with only a lightsaber and a helmet with the blast shield on. At least, not yet.

8/18/2005

QsOTD

Make visible what without you, might perhaps never have been seen.

- Robert Bresson


People may fail many times, but they become failures only when they begin to blame someone else.

- Unknown

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.

- Chinese Proverb

8/16/2005

A Book of Her Own

I have been reading/enjoying/challenged by Leny Mendoza Strobel's memoir A Book of Her Own.

I actually started with her first book Coming Full Circle which tends to be more academic in style, but soon discovered that where Coming Full Circle asked the question How do Filipino American's experience decolonization? A Book of Her Own gives the answer to What happens after decolonization?

I have this bad habit of sometimes jumping to the end of stories to find out if the heroes make it in the end, and I imagine that same impulse drove me to dive more deeply into Leny's second book before finishing the first book. I hope she'll forgive me.

I'm working through this idea of pagbabalikloob that Leny describes as a turning of the soul towards Home, a movement similar to the space I am looking into now - that turning inwards, of gathering what is outside of myself to see what fits/illuminates/augments that which is Within, the center of seven paths. Home, she asserts, is that space beyond the master narratives of Master/Colonized, white/color, civilized/savage, male/female, all the dichotomies created by the interaction/clash between the Western world and the indigineous world of the Philippines. This goes beyond reappropriation, for Leny, beyond bridging the gap between what was lost and what was assumed out of survival, beyond even the excavation of lost stories and methods to bring back connection with the land and its people. She writes:

I am blessed. If I need anything, it's the gift of healing I want for the rest of us. I want the gift of strong story as medicine for our souls.

Here she first acknowledges herself as not only separate from the master narratives that have burdened her, but also as strong and sacred. Her view turns outward, seeing in her own healing, the potential for healing within others. And that healing comes from Story, strong story, that connects instead of differentiating. In this space, there is no Other, it is instead communal, gathering in spirit, and for me, drums the necessity that is our existence.

My favorite poem so far in the book is The White Man in My Bed. I read it the other night while the day cooled by seawind and my children slept dreaming of salt and pepper beaches and broken sand dollars. I read it again, out loud to my husband, my own White Man in My Bed, and he laughed at the title, then, like me, was drawn into the story, the assertion of the poem, which so aptly reflected our experience.

But we transcend politics
Race, class, gender
Even religion
Even language
So do not stare at us.
You won't find answers here


And I'm sure he remembered like I did, the red faced woman in Umatilla, WA we encountered nearly two decades ago, the woman who obviously took offense that a woman of color and a white man should share a meal together, snuggle close and exchange the flirtations of young love, treat each other as equals. I often wondered if she thought I was overstepping my social standing, if she would have been more comfortable if I was serving the meal instead of eating it with my boyfriend, if she thought I should be in a nearby field, stooped and bent over the mint harvest. Perhaps she was of a mind that it was one thing for this white boy to have a colored girl for a plaything, but to parade her in public was just too much for her mind to handle. She stared at us through lunch, her face beat red and her lips pursed white. She stared at us as she left the restaurant and she stared at us as she got into her car and drove away. It was likely a miracle that she didn't have a coronary on the spot.

God Is Person

Our soul is our absolute identity, created by God in God's image. God is the First Cause, who reaches out to us and in turning our awareness to God, we come into right relationship wiht the First Cause, God who is Person. It's noted that our theories/concepts of God are not God, but theories/concepts - metaphors which, though powerful, merely reflect (usually imperfectly), what Is.

-- paraphrased, Chapter 1 The Way to Christ.

I picked up this book mainly because I've been looking for a book to help me understand the foundation of thought for John Paul II's Theology of the Body, a body of work covering 129 encyclicals given between 1979 and 1984. Think of it - the previous pope spent /five years/ talking about the integration of body, soul, and spirit, and the basis of his line of thinking is simple - the body itself gives clues to the divine. Much of JPII's philosophy is based in phenomenology which was developed in response to the apparent failure of the Renaissance philosophy. It's heady stuff, and I can't say I understand it, hence the need to find some way into the conversation. I'm hopeful that The Way to Christ will give me the clues I need.

Because somewhere, I think, between/among/through/inside babaylan and JPII's ToB added to the Native American stories and my other previous experience, is the amalgam for my mosaic.

Advice to a Writer

Before you begin writing ask yourself the question:

What am I writing for?
- watch for the Ego, who says things like "to prove myself," "to gain recognition," for these are spaces of fear;
- center yourself, breathe deep in Mountain pose and ask again
- the answer to this question is your Intention for writing

Once you have your intention, clarify the immediate focus for your writing session. Intention and focus are two different/related things, but intention must come before focus.

-- paraphrased from Chapter 1 of The Journey from the Center to the Page

I bought this book because I've been having a terrible time finding a copy of Judith Barrington's Writing the Memoir. Borders claims it's out of print, but Amazon still seems to have copies. I may have to order it later on. Anyway, I picked Journey from the Center because of this idea of Intention that has been milling around in my brain, how it is a remedy against Emotional Reasoning a habit of mind I've identified as needing to be released as I examine/rewrite my master narratives.

The thought is that as I take apart these narratives, breaking them free from myself, allowing mySelf to be decloaked, those pieces can be used as pieces of a mosaic. The mosaic itself takes on a shape depending on my Intent, which has to do with healing/community/story, and the glue/cement that holds these pieces together is an amalgam of Faith.

Finding this book, then is a curvature back to the original space, bringing writing together with intent and making a new method of visioning storymaking.

Books...books...books...

It's an embarassment of riches, really. Richness in the sense that I have so many wonderful books on my shelf ready to be read. Embarassment because I'm having a hard time reading any one book from front cover to back cover. A friend tells me that I'm one of those types who uses books more for reference, taking what I need from them, and considering most of my unfinished books are nonfiction or collection, I tend to agree.

A bit ago The Chatelaine encouraged me to create a book blog of sorts, a listing of my shelved harvest similar to The Galatea Poetry Library . So I've started a blog called simply Wor(l)ds, which will be an ongoing project listing the books on my shelf or on my wishlist and their relative state of being (read/partially read/unread/signed).

For what purpose? *shrug* Perhaps it's yet another attempt at accountability, but just as likely, a shorthand way to give a passerby a better understanding of where I get all these crazy ideas of mine, and allow all my spaces a voice in BWT.

QOTD

To journey without being changed is to be a nomad.

To change without journeying is to be a chameleon.

To journey and be transformed is to be a pilgrim.

-- Mark Nepo

Return from the Sea

Been gone to the sea for a few days...many adventures...much to write about...not enough time to do so...

Highlights include walking on the shoreline, talking with the waves...reading Leny Strobel's Book of Her Own...herding the butterflies that are my elderly parents and my young children...working on the ideas of Intent, Focus, and Babaylan...

...more...later...soon, I hope.

Oh yeah, and I turned 40 today.

8/10/2005

Then Comes the Calm

"I Am Not Driven, So Much, By Intentions, As I Am Stunned Into Being By Intent"

~LDC, 8/9/05

Thank you, Lorna for reminding me of lessons just newly learned and nearly forgotten. You're a blessing!

A Day of Weirdness

*10:45 am*

So, I have a cousin in Canada living there on a visitor's permit. She's met a guy online. They've fallen in love. He lives in Tennessee. He says he's Catholic. He owns his own lawn mowing service. He only has a high school degree. He's divorced and has two kids. He's bought her a ring. She says she's in love. He says he doesn't care that she has a college degree. He says the women in Tennessee don't work. She says he can't make her his slave. He agrees. He seems nice on the phone. He's willing to be a practicing Catholic again. He says he loves her. He called my parents Ma'am and Sir.

And my mind is just /screaming/ in panic. My cousin wants to be a Benedictine nun. My cousin wants to teach. My cousin has dreams that could not be fulfilled in the 41 years she's lived in the Philippines and Dubai combined.

But no woman should ever have to trade one set of dreams for another set. No woman should have to compromise herself, her culture, her language, in order to settle for what has been drilled into her heart as 'culturally acceptable.' No woman should have to expose herself to a loveless marriage, abandonment, rape, torture, and death in order to make do, to send money back home, make it big overseas, or any of the other incredibly violent narratives we have created in the name of capitalism, progress, and social advancement.

I wrote this poem years ago and now I stand, hands empty, heart blazing, mind reeling. I don't know how to help her. I don't know how to prevent the prophecy at my fingertips.

Mail-Order Bride

When you come to meet my family in the barrio, you
already have the envelopes and papers in your pocket.
You let us sit you at the head of the table beneath
the wood carving of the Last Supper and serve you an
evening meal. We listen to you marvel at the taste of
spicy chicken soup laced with tamarind. We do not tell
you that the chicken is our last meat, that the
portion you take is more than enough to feed my three
youngest sisters. Instead, we wait for you to agree;
then we will know the family will eat chicken or maybe
even pork for many months to come.

I do not eat that night while I sit next to you. I
spoon my soup onto my little brother’s plate, a last
farewell to our only boy. I hope you will let me send
money to him once we have left. For school, I will
tell you, my smile as soft as morning mist, perhaps a
little for new clothes. I try not to wonder how often
I will have to beg this way.

You sit on the porch late into the night, sipping
Black Label and sharing cigarettes with my father. My
mother sits in the kitchen trying not to listen to you
struggle through our language. My father is patient
and he speaks your language slowly, deliberately,
haltingly, so you will never suspect he knows more
than you thought he should.

I lay safe within folds of mosquito netting when you
give my father the papers and a thin envelope. He does
not keep the papers, instead glances at them to be
sure they look in order. The envelope looks so tiny in
his hand and he is unsure, uncertain that this is the
right thing to do. He looks into your hazy blue eyes
and rubs a hand through his thin, grey hair. Then he
folds the envelope in half and slips it into his back
pocket. There is not much more I can do for my family.
I am too small, too smart, too old for these barrio
boys. We both know it is better to find a life
elsewhere.

In the morning we walk to the church together and I
hold your dry white hand as we say our vows. You press
cool, rough lips to mine and it is done. There is no
question what you want from me, yet you will have to
wait until you take me to your country. There is only
time to kiss my mother and squeeze my father’s hand
before we must leave to board our plane. We sisters
try not to cry and my mother begs us to stay, but it
is just for show. There is nothing for you here except
banana plantations and open pit mines.

I take one last look at the white washed church then
begin to fold myself up. My knees to my mouth, my
polio back turned sideways, my too large eyes wrapped
in swaths of my black hair. You fold my crooked arms
haphazardly to fit into a small envelope you have
brought, then slip me into your jacket next to you
passport and wallet. With a satisfied smile, you pat
your pocket, your newest acquisition safe against your
heart.

*8:45 am*

So, until a few days ago, I didn't know the US has an embargo on technical information exportation to certain countries. After all, we seem pretty loose with our cultural exportation and appropriation. There's a list out there, several hundred PDF pages long, of specific people we cannot share scientific discoveries with, cannot promote the peaceful exchange of ideas with, can't collaborate on creating methods to perhaps eliminate hunger and disease within our lifetime. These folks are primarily citizens of Sudan, Iran, Libya, and Cuba. Iraq used to be on the countries list, but recent...events have apparently opened that country.

There are, of course, folk associated with the NPA and other south Philippines resistance groups listed, and yes, I admit to checking for my family names on the list.

Today I had to write a scientist in Iran that no, we can't send a sample of our scientific journal to him, not even the link to our online library. Oddly, the man could become a member of our association, attend out meetings, publish in our journals, but he can't hold whatever we publish in his own hands.

I guess I'm supposed to feel glad I live in a free country and all, but I just don't. I just feel really sad that the US has these kinds of relationships with other countries, relationships that stunt our mutual growth and benefit.

Here's a link with more info on it. I find it interesting that this situation comes under the balliwick of the Treasury Department.

8/08/2005

New Links Today

I was googling Indo-Pinoy looking for any other information on Native American-Filipino American folk and found this entry which led me to the Sassy Lawyer and the Manila Standard Online

So I’ve made Sassy Lawyer and the Manila Standard regular BWT fare.

I love synchronicity.

Edit: I rearranged my links and I /still/ have a weird extra space after the Diaries of Jose Rizal. If any one can help me figure out why that's happening, I'd sure appreciate it. The coding looks exactly the same as all the other links in the list.

Edit II: A Shout Out to OB for figuring out the tag problem! Ah, my kingdom for a */*! *chuckle* Now my list is all pretty.

Remixing and Modding

ukuk lalang and I have been backchanneling about remixing and modding that has been around since art and artists have been sharing work, but we think has only recently begun to be codified as a type of resistance to dominant artistic paradigms. We're still working it through, though, churning through the idea of authorship, authenticity, and appropriation.

ukuk lalang sent me this today which is a sweet remix of Adrienne Wolter.

I smile,
Not because I’m happy,
(though I’m not sad)
Or because the sun is shining,
(even though it is).
No, not for anything like that.

There is so much wrong
At any given moment,
But when I see you,
It is all becalmed
By the one thing
That is so right.

****

Which of course, made me smile. Ain't perpetual motion machines grand?

(Mostly) Free Stuff

Scored some nice nearly free stuff this weekend after sorting through the shelves for no-longer-needed books.

Morning Star (Nick Bantock);

I fell in love with the Griffin and Sabine series back in the early '90s and met Nick Bantock a few years ago. His work is the first art that I had come across that combined narrative with physical objects and Morning Star completes the series finally for me.

The Artist's Way

I've owned this book off and on since it came out, and it was recommended to me by a friend recently. I decided I should pick it up again when I realized I couldn't remember what of her philosophy I had absorbed nor could I explain why I no longer do Morning Pages or take Art Dates.

As a family, we got other books after the Great Bookshelf Culling, including Book Four of the Lemony Snicket series for 79 cents after all was said and done, a Pooh Bear cookbook, a circus truck board book, and two Pokemon books.

I love that I have a family of readers!

My birthday book pleases me most, though, since it bridges the apparent gap between my Faith and my love of all things Star Wars. It's definitely my blush purchase of the weekend even if I only paid half price. I really wanted to pick up Jude Watson's newest hardback , but I'll have to wait until next payday.

Why the blush you ask? Because I'm still dismantling this stuffy writer's persona I've developed and it makes me feel vulnerable to admit I read stuff like this. *chuckle* Whattevah. As they say, My blog, My space. ^.^

And no, I'm not gonna say what I traded for such goodies.

8/04/2005

QsOTD

...always thinkin the next poem 24/7, pluckin that next poem outta the air, breathing it, dreaming it, thirsting for it.

and always smiling at the muse when she is demanding your bones, and that you bring her your fire.

- BJR

Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple "I must," then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.

--Rainer Maria Rilke

Beautiful.

*thank you BJ*

Personas

Recentely Ernesto wrote Currently Posting As and said "Even though I sign in this blog with my real name, this "me", this "I" (as the Chatelaine says, this "Moi") is a persona that only exists on-line, and the similarities with the real person facing the screen are only coincidental."

*eyes wide in sudden comprehension*

This blog (BWT) is a persona, one persona of many I have had/worked on/evolved. Ten years ago, you would have met a 15th century noblewoman named Wynefrid who followed a Duke and Duchess around in the SCA. Or perhaps you would have met a member of MC3 as they jumped a Beltane fire. Two years ago you may have met a tailor in a city called Vodzhya who was in love with a Prince.

*chuckle*

This blog has become a persona of a writer-mom with incredible drive and ambition. It would be easy to maintain that artifice, except that once the curtain has been pulled aside, it's hard for the wizard to maintain the illusion, even if that illusion was just for herself. I've been ambitious to the point of torquing myself into knots and not cool creative knots, but tight, unmovable knots. And I've realized that no matter how many new resources I look for, no matter how many new connections I make, they are all tools, but /not/ the work itself.

I've lost track of the central, the inner point, the seventh/first path to the self. The Six Directions can give guidance, new ideas, experience, but until those things are taken to the Center, they are meaningless.

Personas are nice to get all dressed up in, but once in while, most of a while, its good to just Be.

To Fly. To Soar. To Love. To Be.

Waking Up

A glass of chivas to OB for providing the wake up words I /really/ needed today.

OB: "i know its horrible to only write for a feature. ive been told that real writers will put to pen religously every day and have these set patterns where they will and must produce some work for X numbers of minutes Y times during the day."

*glances at her writing log*

OB: "i have not read all of eliot's work and couldnt tell ya the difference between (john) donne & (stephen) dunn but im learning."

*glances at her stacks and shelves of books*

OB: "and one of the things that ive learned is that your process is just as unique as your writing style and the minute someone tries to warp your process to match what they feel your process should be... RUN! DONT WALK!.... get da fuk outta der!"

*glances askance at her critical self* /See/! I shout /There is another way!/

OB: "me, i work best under the pressure of a deadline. for the most part, i dont write the poems until the 11th hour but i do know that i am thinking about them."

*rattling the bars of her self-inflicted cage* Yes! I see freedom!

'Cause here's the thing, I've been imposing the pressures of 'deadlines' (ie. submission dates) to create the energy to write. How truly kfkd is /that/?

Okee...so here's what OB has taught me today. My process is my process. I know what to write and I know how to write it. I /can't/ write right now because of all these perceived pressures from journals, from readers, from myself. My relationship to my art and my creativity is /really/ messed up right now, it may take months to get it back on track.

And That's Okay.

Because when I do get back on track, it will be real-me writing.

*smile*

8/03/2005

Seven Paths

Hot rice
Cold sardines
Garden ripe tomatoes

Comfort food. A risky thing to eat at work for lunch, but there it is, the need for comfort and this is the shape of it today. No salt for the tomatoes though...bad for the heart. So I'm left to imagine the metalic tang heightening the sweetness of the red fruit. It's enough.

I hear old Mercury is up to his contrary tricks again, traveling backwards and causing words to falter all over the place. Lots of writers taking well deserved breaks out there, but also blogs are closing, harsh words are being left on doorsteps and window frames. Usually I'm good during Merc Retro, having been born during one, but this time thick thoughts are things on the periphery, and I'm left with a diet of two syllable words and pop culture phrases.

But Mercury is just one story, one narrative, one way to explain the apparently inexplicable connections and current discontent. They tell me Saturn is doing funky things too, and soon I find myself surfing the 'net in search of my favorite astrologers...John Cainer...Eric Francis...googling phrases like Current Transits and Christ Centered Astrology and such. It doesn't seem plausible given my current faith path to be doing such things, but these are older narratives, familiar ones from a life Just Before this one.

And somehow this thought dovetails into thinking about Leny's deconstruction of Master Narratives to decolonize the mind which leads to Babaylan and the 'old ways' of the Filipino people and how those old ways are like the native ways of the Pacific NW and how Six Directions that Eileen speaks about is part of the Seven Paths of my old magical system and how choices and love are what is most important in life.

I've spoken about mosaics, about being broken by life and experience, having to take those pieces and create new meaning with them. Now it seems that the breaking and the coming together are happening all at once, very fast, so it's hard to tell where the spinning will end, where I will step off the carousel onto a new path.

I try to break it down into manageable pieces...there is story...there is audience...there is healing...there is linking to the land...there is community...there is art...there is witness to what was once unspeakable...there is history...there is heritage...there is culture...there is movement...there are old ways...there are new paths...narrative...performance...standing still...bringing together.

"the idea of canon is dissolving with all this extension of story" - Sky

The decentering of the written word for the sake of the story’s heart.

"The point is, you're bigger than any problem or situation in your life, and part of why you struggled in the past was precisely because you failed to recognize that fact. There is no situation -- personal or professional -- that actually has more power than you, or that has more influence over your life than your simple ability to make decisions. But you would go a long way toward helping yourself and everyone else if you refuse to let other people's fear have any influence over you." - Eric Francis

It is a radical thought to move from being afraid of being forgotten/overlooked to just /being/. And allowing that /being/ to fill the soul with what is needed.

Is this the babaylan way?
Is this the storyteller's wisdom?
Is this the gift the problem presents?

8/02/2005

The Body Aches

It took many weeks to come...others had theirs before mine arrived...I tried to stave off the jealousy by reading blogs...but finally...beautifully...it arrived... Signed and hand numbered too.

The Body Aches a poetry chapbook by my friend Ernesto

*Big Smile*

Thank you, Ernesto, for putting your vision and heart on paper for all to share. Fur Eileen is still my favorite from the collection for it's inward view and unfolding narrative. A wonderful example of hay(na)ku.

Favorite lines:

I
thought I
wanted to write

******

Which, in view of how I'm feeling today, are apropos.

8/01/2005

Making and Meeting Goals

Not so great in the month of July for writing. Personal stuff mostly making it hard to be creative or to make time to be creative. *shakes head* I'm having one of those tough spells where I'm wondering yet again "just because I'm good at it, does it mean I should be doing it?" thingies.

This performance storytelling stuff is really interesting but is it just another fad for me, distracting me from the fear I have about writing?

Spiralling self doubt is really not very much fun. It's a matter of momentum, I think, though. I had great momentum earlier this summer, then wore myself out a bit, then found that I'd been ignoring other important parts of my life because of the writing, now having so little writing done, then it's easier to give up, than to try to start gaining that momentum again.

I don't want to give up, though, but I don't want to keep making promises I can't seem to keep, either to myself or to others. So all in all, I really don't know what to do. *sigh*