September 11, 2019

REMEMBER

911, quilt by Mary Beth Frezon, 2001. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong of the Michigan State University Museum

This is what I wrote as an early statement about this quilt:

September 11, 2001
The phone rang. I watched my mother talking and prepared myself to hear that someone had died. Who could have imagined? We didn’t have a TV where we were so we didn’t get the barrage of instant images. All we could do is listen to the phoned reports and wonder.

What stuck me about that day was the change. The sky was crystal blue, the Adirondack water still sparkled with the sun, the mountains still held in the lake on all sides. What had changed was me. I felt that someone had knocked a hole in my body or head. That there was a gap between the me of a few minutes before and the me now. I looked at the others and they seemed to have the same problem putting themselves into this new existence.

I’ve used simple images to portray that turning point where the innocent happiness changed on a moment in time. I’ve left a suggestion that this will continue to evolve. All grief becomes tempered over time but how long before the memory of that moment is softened?

We continue to remember and take the time to memorialize and to remember.

…I grabbed the last Sunday Times
You stole my cab
We waited forever at the bus stop
We sweated in steamy August
We hunched our shoulders against the sleet
We laughed at the movies
We groaned after the election
We sang in church
Tonight I lit a candle for you
All of you

from — “Nine-Eleven” by Charlotte Parsons


Remember.

Recently I realized that people coming into an age to work and to vote were either just born or about to be born in 2001. So we begin layers of people who have no connection, no memory of that day or its events. I realize that small children alive then don’t really remember, in the way that some younger than me at the time don’t remember Kennedy being killed. I don’t always know what to make of everything that brought us to this time, with its blowhard narcissist, but I am still here, trying to do what’s right and making art and words and soon to be marching.

I remember being buoyed up by the responses to the September 11th attacks and also being worried about the sudden homeland security and searches and all “to protect us”. And I remember the rising tide of hatred, surrounded by all those flapping patriotic flags, hatred against those “other” people who hated us enough to want to hurt and terrify us. And here we are today.

Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.

#RESIST

September 11, 2019

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World Watercolor Month Day #3

It was nice being off three days. Did a lot of painting, had a nice day with Mom, went to watercolor class. Today, back to work. After work it was still about 90 and it was just bright and glare-y and meh sky.

Came home and put the new line in the weed-whacker and finished whacking the weeds (aka the front lawn). That was more than enough to send me inside!

I’d listened to and read too much news today and thought about how I was working in a mall on the fourth of July and how we’d be pretty busy tomorrow, on a “short” day while all the world craziness went on and even crazier.

So I painted this.

World Watercolor Month Day #3

NaPoWriMo 2019 – Day Eighteen

I had taken a week off my duties as Twitter-Aggregator (“I read twitter so you don’t have to!”) because sometimes you have to step back and regroup. Now it’s time to get back to it and to start trying to exert pressure again to get things done. It ain’t easy being ignored (and what else would you call a non-response from elected officials). For better or worse hope springs up again like daffodils after a bad winter.

All the time I was growing up
people in the movies
generally
did the right thing,
rose to the moment,
made the hard choice,
and even the bad guys
murmured their regrets
and whispered love for mom
in their final moments.
These days, that slaps me
in the face with each request
to send a crucial letter
to text or fax appeals
for the action so needed.
Sure, I think, of course.
Of course I will do that.
And then I wonder why
thousands or millions of
messages and words are needed
for a trusted leader
to do the right thing.
And that is the hardest
loss of all – where did it go
that “do the right thing?”
I don’t pretend that
movies are just like life
but if I have to ask you
to do the right thing
over and over and over
maybe I’m just asking
the wrong person.

NaPoWriMo 2019 – Day Eighteen

NaPoWriMo 2019 – Day Fifteen

One of the more recent changes in the world…

While I’m talking,
your eyes, lowered,
never look at me.
I’m not sure you
are listening at all
but you occasionally nod.
At me? I’m uncertain.
You speak but not to me
your lips reciting
what your fingers send.
Is there etiquette
I should follow here,
like waiting twenty
minutes for a professor?
I don’t know and so
I wait for the return
of conversation.

NaPoWriMo 2019 – Day Fifteen was originally published on

NaPoWriMo 2019 – Day One

And we’re off, today taking a quiet lesson from the wee beasts I live with:

This morning, I turned off the radio,
needing to believe that evil will not win.
In the end, it will not conquer.
So, silence the news, the repeated din,
Three cats thumped down the old stairs
just ahead of me.
They’re the old toy, unremembered name,
that clicked and clacked its way down
a slant with baby carriage or barrow.
they wait by their bowls,
three and a snack-spare
accepting my ear rub and food.
The house is still.
Light comes in each window,
dims and returns, a passing cloud
not noted by the feasting cats
who daily rejoice in breakfast
before seeking their spot of light.

NaPoWriMo 2019 – Day One was originally published on

What? November 22nd?

Where has November gone?

Some of you remember today as the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Some of you know November as NaNoWriMo – 50,000 words, 30 days, 0 excuses.

While I do remember the death of JFK, I haven’t forgotten NaNoWriMo either. But this year, I was just finishing up one watercolor class when another started. If a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m easily meeting my November goal but as you can see from the word counter at right, it’s not showing in words per se.

Still and all a very successful November and it ain’t over yet!

Watercolor Class//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

I’m closing with Kennedy’s famous inaugural speech:

Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, Reverend Clergy, fellow citizens:

We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom–symbolizing an end as well as a beginning–signifying renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forbears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans–born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage–and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge–and more.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do–for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom–and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required–not because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge–to convert our good words into good deeds–in a new alliance for progress–to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.

To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support–to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective–to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak–and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.

But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course–both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind’s final war.

So let us begin anew–remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms–and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce.

Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah–to “undo the heavy burdens . . . (and) let the oppressed go free.”

And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again–not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need–not as a call to battle, though embattled we are– but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation”–a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.

Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility–I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it–and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.

Coping, Dealing and Being Kind

I’m resurrecting this from July 2012 after the Colorado theater shooting, when I reposted it from 2001. We’re all dealing with a lot, coming from all different directions, on top of the normal wear and tear of living.

In the moment, the best we can do before doing anything is to think, BE KIND, both to others and to yourself.

We may not agree with everything everyone else thinks, but nothing is gained by name-calling or accusing others of being crazy etc. We need to be able to live with people and ourselves day to day and months from now.


This was sent to me after September 11 by my friend Gail, who got it from a co-worker. Much of this parallels what is taught to EMS providers about post-incident stress reactions/stress management. Continue reading