Posted in African Blues, Just Wondering, Music

Of Two Minds

Thinking a lot about immigrants and immigration lately. That’s certainly not the only disaster looming over our horizon, but the human element affects me strongly. Maybe it’s because of the music I’ve started listening to – a strange admixture of blues and the traditional music of the Sahara desert. There’s been a great deal of dislocation in that part of the world, and not in just the places we’ve all heard about. You can hear that pain in the music. Colonial Europe has a lot to answer for, I think. Just read about the Belgians in the Congo, or the fact that colonial powers arbitrarily divided countries in the Middle East without regard for traditional tribal or ethnic boundaries.

There are a lot of bands out that way: Tinariwen, Tamikrest, Bombino and more. With any luck, their electric guitars and international tour schedules will eventually take the place of IEDs and automatic rifles. In any event, they’re trying.

This song is a rock opera of sorts – powerful, but plaintive and rare as rainfall in the desert. Jimi Hendrix with orchestral backup. It makes me feel pensive and divided between one path or the other. Yes or no. Here or gone.

Posted in Black Lives Matter, DACA/Dreamers, Donald Trump, immigration, Politics

The Mother of Exiles

Illegal sign
If so, then why not me?

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This is the entire statue of liberty poem, written by Emma Lazarus. It basically tells the rich to stay home and the poor, “the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore,” to come here. Come to America. The poem was written by Emma Lazarus, as part of an overall effort to raise money for a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. the “mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name MOTHER OF EXILES.”

In those days, we stretched an open hand to immigrants, now we’ve turned that hand into a fist to exile our own people – the children of immigrants who came to the US as children and who grew up and thrived here. Now they’re people from “shithole” countries, according to the President, who’d prefer rich, white Europeans like Norwegians. They’ve shut down the government over it – leadership by a 5-year-old having a temper tantrum.

I cringe at Trump’s words, rage as his vacillation as he changes his mind from hour to hour, blowing up one bipartisan funding plan after another. First he says yes, I’ll sign a bill that protects dreamers if you give me funding for the wall. A few hours later, he says no, he doesn’t want more people from those shithole countries. What he really means is pretty obvious. I’ll take white people, but black and brown people can suck the air for all he cares. Racism. Our President is an open, hostile racist and the entire country is paying the price for his attitude and behavior.

Trump as an anti-immigration baby
Me, me, me first!

I’m appalled by our current political situation, in ways that I haven’t been before. At the same time, I feel an obligation as an American citizen – the granddaughter of immigrants myself – to clean up the mess the President and his spineless and greedy Republican majority are making. Talk about shit. All they did this year was vote themselves a tax cut, all the while under-staffing critical government positions, packing the courts with right-wing judges, trying to rescind access to health care and blame our problems on illegal immigrants trying to make a living by picking our vegetables and taking the worst jobs at the lowest level of pay. And that’s just skimming the surface. I could list the damage the Republicans have done for another hour. And now we don’t have a government. And they’re blaming the Democrats (who are finally showing some spine, thank you very much) when the Republican party controls all three branches of government.

Statue of Liberty
She weeps

I feel very strongly about the dreamers, maybe because of my own immigrant background. These are folks who grew up in this country and who have little – or no – ties to the countries their parents came from. They’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. They grew up here. They fucking grew up here. Same as me. English is their native language, the US is their home. Some of them didn’t even know they were “illegal” until they tried to get a driver’s license or go to college. They’re in the military. They own businesses. And even if they don’t, even if they’re truck drivers or meat packers, they’re one of us and we take care of our own. Or we should. Maybe that’s a white, middle-class perspective. It doesn’t look to me like communities of color get the same treatment. Black Lives do Matter and don’t give me that crap about how all lives matter. Some lives seem to matter more than others and immigrant lives matter even less than that. I’m furious but I’m also in pain, because I happen to love this country – despite its faults. I am angry at the people who are, basically, taking a dump on it. We’re better than this. I am an American and we’re not that way. I’m not that way. I would have to deny everything that I am to be that way.

We are all immigrants. Mine came from Poland. They came here for the same reasons immigrants have always come here, to step out of poverty and avoid the violence killing everybody else. I’m proud of my heritage, but I am an American. How would I feel if the government suddenly decided that I was illegal and had to leave? I don’t speak Polish, I’ve only been there once. It’s not my home and it’s not my culture. I carry threads of it throughout my life, particularly during holidays. I’m proud of my Polish heritage, but I am not Polish. I am an American. And so are the dreamers.

Posted in Boston, Massachusetts, Nature, Weather, Winter

The Devil in the Wind

They call them nor’easters up here: howling, maniacal weather that blows down small trees, power lines and any other object stupid enough to be built in its way. They don’t respect the calendar. Nor’easters clobber Boston with rain or snow and leave a trail of havoc behind.

I drew up the shade in my bedroom this morning and, at first, could see nothing except more snow on the ground. Where was the storm? Then I looked again. The street looked hazy somehow, as if a fog had descended. Then I noticed the snow, blowing sideways so hard that I could barely see it. Well, okay then. Here’s our storm. It’s the devil in the clouds and in the wind. It’s dark out by now and I haven’t opened an outside door all day. Schools have been canceled for today and for tomorrow. Tomorrow’s high? 7 degrees Fahrenheit.

Posted in Uncategorized

National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day

Chocolate gives me migraines but, man, what a way to go!

Here are today’s five things to know about cherries: Cherries were brought to America by ship with early settlers in the 1600s. Cherry pie filling is the number one pie filling sold in the US. Darker cherries have higher antioxidant and vitamin levels than lighter ones, but sour cherries have far higher levels than sweet. […]

via January 3rd is National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day! — Foodimentary – National Food Holidays

Posted in A Bit of That, A Bit of This, Art, Blogging, Friends, Holidays, New Year's Day

Back From the Dead…Or Headed That Way

Sparkler
Lighting the Dark

I was planning to give up on wordpress.com. The interface became bogged down with multiple ways to add posts and pages. I was becoming more enamored of just plain ol’ WordPress, the kind you install on your own web host and customize from there. While WordPress.com kept getting slower and less efficient, wordpress-just-wordpress was becoming easier and easier to use.

So, why am I back? Maybe I just need to talk, to re-enter the forum I’d deserted so long ago. Maybe Facebook posts just don’t do it for me anymore. They’re not enough. Maybe the ready-made community here was the better option, at least for now.

I use WordPress a lot for my work. I even run a multisite network and learning how to manage that has been a trip and a half. But, maybe for some things anyway, I just need you.

Maybe it’s the new year. I’ve left a lot of my artistic inclinations on the floor as I’ve dealt with work-related issues which are always harder for someone who’s self-employed. I’ve had some medical issues, some of which seem to be retreating and others of which are somewhat more stable than they were before. Maybe 2018 will be kinder than 2017, 2016 and 2015. I’m looking forward to it, at least.

So…HELLOOOOOO out there. I may have nothing but my own voice echoing back to me in a vast, empty cavern. But, maybe some of you are still here. Maybe we can get a little something going that doesn’t include visits to medical specialists and therapists from a number of different backgrounds. Maybe 2017 taught me a little something about reaching out and finding another hand taking mine.