2015 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 400 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

“…if I had my goddam choice…”

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“You know what I’d like to be?” I said. “I mean if I had my goddam choice?…I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all…And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff–I mean they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d be the catcher in the rye…”
Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
Who wouldn’t like to have written that? You can hardly put into words everything he’s caught in those lines–every bit of longing and need, every bit of hope, every bit of love. We want to know Holden, and we think we do.
I don’t think JD Salinger even wanted the fame and fortune that book brought him. What he wanted was to write it.

The death of the sun

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better chimney pots

“Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes–gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun.”
Chapter One, Bleak House,Charles Dickens.

Written for profit? For an audience? For fame? Maybe. But I think you can see and feel his love for and enjoyment of writing in every word. You can open his book anywhere and find sentences like this one.

I know, we can’t all write like a Dickens (I can’t), but isn’t this the underlying goal? To try to?

And it’s a murder mystery, not a lofty book on social justice. One reviewer said of the main character, “Bucket can claim to be the first detective proper in English fiction…with his fat forefinger, his false bonhommie, his omniscience and his indifference to everything other than solving the crime.”

Dickens was one of eight children, raised in poverty, with little formal education.

Magna Carta–what?

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A_Chronicle_of_England_-_Page_226_-_John_Signs_the_Great_CharterThis year marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the closest document England has to a constitution. They’re one of three countries without a written constitution, along with New Zealand and Israel. Our constitution is based in part on the Magna Carta.
Why?
It was created out of real protest, not by politicians.

Demonstration against G8 Summit in Le Havre

It was the first time protesters spoke truth to power and had a real impact–they would no longer be ruled at the whim of the King, a tradition in place for as long as anyone could remember.
It is the origin of the legal concept of our right to due process of law for people and property.
It’s still used–Darcus Howe, an outstanding Civil Rights leader in England, in the case of the Mangrove Nine, 1971, used Magna Carta as his defense.

Jay Z Magna Carta Holy Grail cover

One historian said recently–it has survived by magic rather than its words. What it carries is hope. And that’s how people have used it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/15/belfast-g8-protests_n_3446781.html

Can you write about Black if you’re White? Etc.

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We want to.

nelson mandela

But our history says should we?

Race

Carrie Jean is a main character in Jumping: a Novel. She’s Native American, with a multi-tribal background, raised by a Navajo grandmother. The group of students she travels into the Void with come to rely on her spiritual rituals as reminders of gratitude. I, a white writer, venture into all those areas.

Nathan is another character, a fellow Void traveler, who is African American. I write of his family and history, too, and of his thoughts and dreams.

In another part of the book, I write about a Muslim man meeting his maker (who is a white non-Muslim woman from another life).

Is this right?

Some writers are still divided on this issue. Others offer advice (these happen to be cartoonists):

“Don’t just parachute them in.”

“Ask your PoC friends to read your stories. If you have to ask if something is racist, it probably is. Base your characters on real people, but don’t just project your own feelings into a stranger’s life. Don’t assume that because someone is a minority that they’ve lived a certain kind of life.”

—Maré Odomo, author and illustrator of Internet Comics
Source: http://midnightbreakfast.com/writing-people-of-color

Is it better than the alternative?

Rosa-Parks-racism-free-9349328-367-335

I like to think so.

Amma hugs–I’ve had three. Why?

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Amma
“Amma will embrace all these people tonight.”

‘My daughter, my daughter, my daughter,’ she says over and over in my ear.

I’m lost in the lap of something so much bigger than I am, and I rest there. All I can see is the folds of her white robe as I’m overwhelmed with the permeating scent of roses, which are everywhere. And then I’m falling out of the hug, as her attendants pull me back to put the next person in, pressing rose petals and strangely, a Hershey’s kiss into my hand.

I was charged with the energy of that hug for days after, hearing her words in my ear–‘My daughter, my daughter, my daughter.’

Once a year Amma, India’s hugging saint, comes to town. She arrives at a large hotel in Albuquerque that can accommodate the thousands who come for a hug, as crazy as that might sound. When you arrive, you remove your shoes, are organized into groups, given your hug number, fed and are presented with all kinds of memorabilia to buy, from photographs to clothes. While you wait for your group to be called, you listen to Indian music, are strewn with rose petals, watch multiple large-screen videos of Amma’s good works around the world, and look at everyone else who has come.

It all moves along smoothly. She and her team are experts at this–after all, she’s hugged more than 30 million people world wide, royalty and celebrities included.

When your group is called, you join a double line of people, in chairs, gradually moving forward, like musical chairs. Up ahead, Amma is dressed all in white, sitting on a sort of low throne, hugging people, one after another—families with babies, the old, the infirm, young people, people speaking different languages. When you’re finally next in line, her attendants move you to your knees a few feet from her, asking you what language you speak.

You’re sort of dropped into a tight group of front line attendants, dressed in yellow robes, who are plunging people into Amma’s lap and then dragging them out, in a claustrophobic frenzy. You’re in a feel-good, out-of-body daze as you’re pulled out.

At first I thought that wonderful feeling was from her, from what she has. After the third hug, I began to believe that we generate it together. She calls it forth, and what I feel is my soul answering.

Photo: Erode, Tamil Nadu, Monday, January 12, 2015

2014 in review–What was I thinking?

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I have no idea what I was thinking. Now I can see that honestly following the course of my book, from my hands out into the world, garnered a few people’s interest. That, along with the tarantula migration I  witnessed. That goes without saying, of course, since who wouldn’t be interested in a tarantula migration?

Anyway, food for thought for the coming year. Here’s to everybody having a great one!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 520 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 9 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.