I’m Thinking Of A ~ Late Night Thoughts

If you have never read “The Onion” you have missed a delightful collection of completely made-up fanciful and commentary articles. In October 2, 2002 they printed an article that shows they had their crystal ball completely polished – or at least pointed in the right direction. Thanks to durnMoose blogs for printing this article!

The Onion

RIAA Sues Radio Stations For Giving Away Free Music

LOS ANGELES-The Recording Industry Association of America filed a $7.1 billion lawsuit against the nation’s radio stations Monday, accusing them of freely distributing copyrighted music.

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Here is the complete article:

LOS ANGELES—The Recording Industry Association of America filed a $7.1 billion lawsuit against the nation’s radio stations Monday, accusing them of freely distributing copyrighted music.

“It’s criminal,” RIAA president Hilary Rosen said. “Anyone at any time can simply turn on a radio and hear a copyrighted song. Making matters worse, these radio stations often play the best, catchiest song off the album over and over until people get sick of it. Where is the incentive for people to go out and buy the album?”

According to Rosen, the radio stations acquire copies of RIAA artists’ CDs and then broadcast them using a special transmitter, making it possible for anyone with a compatible radio-wave receiver to listen to the songs.

“These radio stations are extremely popular,” Rosen said. “They flagrantly string our songs together in ‘uninterrupted music blocks’ of up to 70 minutes in length, broadcasting nearly one CD’s worth of product without a break, and they actually have the gall to allow businesses to advertise between songs. It’s bad enough that they’re giving away our music for free, but they’re actually making a profit off this scheme.”

RIAA attorney Russell Frackman said the lawsuit is intended to protect the artists.

“If this radio trend continues, it will severely damage a musician’s ability to earn a living off his music,” Frackman said. “[Metallica drummer] Lars Ulrich stopped in the other day wondering why his last royalty check was so small, and I didn’t know what to say. How do you tell a man who’s devoted his whole life to his music that someone is able to just give it away for free? That pirates are taking away his right to support himself with his craft?”

For the record companies and the RIAA, one of the most disturbing aspects of the radio-station broadcasts is that anyone with a receiver and an analog tape recorder can record the music and play it back at will.

“I’ve heard reports that children as young as 8 tape radio broadcasts for their own personal use,” Rosen said. “They listen to a channel that has a limited rotation of only the most popular songs—commonly called ‘Top 40’ stations—then hit the ‘record’ button when they hear the opening strains of the song they want. And how much are they paying for these songs? A big fat zip.”

Continued Rosen: “According to our research, there is one of these Top 40 stations in every major city in the country. This has to be stopped before the music industry’s entire economic infrastructure collapses.”

Especially distressing to the RIAA are radio stations’ “all-request hours,” when listeners call in to ask radio announcers, or “disc jockeys,” to play a certain song.

“What’s the point of putting out a new Ja Rule or Sum 41 album if people can just call up and hear any song off the album that they want?” Frackman asked. “In some instances, these stations actually have the nerve to let the caller ‘dedicate’ his act of thievery to a friend or lover. Could you imagine a bank letting somebody rob its vaults and then allowing the thief to thank his girlfriend Tricia and the whole gang down at Bumpy’s?”

Defenders of radio-based music distribution insist that the relatively poor sound quality of radio broadcasts negates the record companies’ charges.

“Radio doesn’t have the same sound quality as a CD,” said Paul “Cubby” Bryant, music director of New York radio station Z100, one of the nation’s largest distributors of free music and a defendant in the suit. “Real music lovers will still buy CDs. If anything, we’re exposing people to music they might not otherwise hear. These record companies should be thanking us, not suing us.”

Outraged by the RIAA suit, many radio listeners are threatening to boycott the record companies.

“All these companies care about is profits,” said Amy Legrand, 21, an avid Jacksonville, FL, radio user who surreptitiously records up to 10 songs a day off the radio. “Top 40 radio is taking the power out of the hands of the Ahmet Erteguns of the world and bringing it back to the people of Clear Channel and Infinity Broadcasting. It’s about time somebody finally stood up to those record-company fascists.”

And of course, we know that a couple of years later the RIAA began suing anyone they could possibly think of who might have a single song/CD in their possession that might be a copy. Aside from actually dealing with people who were making enormous quantities of music available, they have also gone after grandmother’s who had no idea how to operate a computer – and there is even a story floating around that they have sued at least three dead people.

Of course, they were a number of years behind ASCAP (another royalty organization) that was collecting money if a Girl Scout Camp sang “God Bless America” around the campfire, but that’s another post!

I was looking through “The Onion” archives and found this article dated November 30, 2005. At first glance, it seemed like just another Onion article that John Stewart might have used.

The Recording Industry Association of America announced Tuesday that it will be taking legal action against anyone discovered telling friends, acquaintances, or associates about new songs, artists, or albums. “We are merely exercising our right to defend our intellectual properties from unauthorized peer-to-peer notification of the existence of copyrighted material,” a press release signed by RIAA anti-piracy director Brad Buckles read. “We will aggressively prosecute those individuals who attempt to pirate our property by generating ‘buzz’ about any proprietary music, movies, or software, or enjoy same in the company of anyone other than themselves.” RIAA attorneys said they were also looking into the legality of word-of-mouth “favorites-sharing” sites, such as coffee shops, universities, and living rooms.

However – this week a serious bill began to make it’s way through the “hallowed halls” of Congress. Here are some of the key provisions:

Criminalize “attempting” to infringe copyright.
Federal law currently punishes not-for-profit copyright infringement with between 1 and 10 years in prison, but there has to be actual infringement that takes place. The IPPA would eliminate that requirement. (The Justice Department’s summary of the legislation says: “It is a general tenet of the criminal law that those who attempt to commit a crime but do not complete it are as morally culpable as those who succeed in doing so.”)

–Create a new crime of life imprisonment for using pirated software.
Anyone using counterfeit products who “recklessly causes or attempts to cause death” can be imprisoned for life. During a conference call, Justice Department officials gave the example of a hospital using pirated software instead of paying for it.

–Permit more wiretaps for piracy investigations.
Wiretaps would be authorized for investigations of Americans who are “attempting” to infringe copyrights.

–Allow computers to be seized more readily.
Specifically, property such as a PC “intended to be used in any manner” to commit a copyright crime would be subject to forfeiture, including civil asset forfeiture.

Any chuckling over The Onion article stopped. I was teaching in India when Indira Ghandi with a single stroke of a pen took all liberties away (including those afforded to those of us who were working there). Somehow, when I read/think about some of the things going on – or proposed, I hear faint sounds of the Sitar in the background.

The Ass Of Assumptions (end) ~ Early Morning Thoughts

A very dear friend of mine (SGB) has a wonderful saying:

“words written can not be unread and
words spoken can not be unheard.”

As D&D would not listen let alone ask, their reactions became more and more pronounced – to me and toward Toby. I was walking a fine line that was no longer a balancing act but a high wire act without a net.

Eventually when walking a high wire while trying to balance any number of things, something is going to fall – and usually the person on the wire is the one that falls. I had been trying to keep everyone at peace and trying to compartmentalize what was going on in my life. While that can be a valid and valuable contribution of life – it can also be a major trap with no escape.

I’ve written before that I have a tendency toward “peace at any cost.” Sometimes there is no peace, and the end cost can turn out to be quite expensive. In this case, with D&D it had several unintended results. The friendship with both came to an immediate end. It wasn’t just that one single comment, but rather a gathering of a number of comments – not just about Toby – that led further and further down the road of erroneous assumptions.

And because they had built themselves a “construct” out of their assumptions, there was no way I could see that would change anything in either their maps or territories.

A construct is any idea that people invent in order to accomplish some particular end. And a construct, while not an absolute truth becomes something people assume to be an absolute.

I finally realized that I was not just walking the high wire around D&D, but I was also being untrue to myself by allowing the comments and assumptions to basically be unchallenged and/or unchecked. I had added false luggage tags and added baggage to my train – and it really was slowing the engine down. It actually spurred me even further to look even more into my life and the assumptions I’ve held onto, and which ones I’ve – perhaps – turned into constructs that need to be de-constructed.

In Wait
There are waves of emotions
that travel on land,
there’s beauty in silence
when you cradle the sun;
there are channels of thought
that use sweat when they paint pores,
there are smiles in drawers
that wait to be released . . .

There is a hidden power within us,
just lying around, waiting to be seen.
—Alex Luna
(copyright 2005)

The ending of a friendship
is a painful
as the click
of a coffin lid.

Letting go
Of assumptions
That don’t fit
This emerging life
Of a planetary
Consciousness,
Releasing
Unjust claims
That hold us hostage
To outworn mindsets,
Which drive us
To destroy ourselves
And others,
As penitence
For our power.

Releasing our minds
From the slavery of violence,
Freedom rushes in,
Flying to
Animate fresh visions
Of who we are
And what we can do,
Enwilling us with
Power over ourselves,
To choose
To be and do
With others.

Discovering love
Encoded in our genes
And compassion
That has been building
Through eons of change.
We find
Revived meaning,
A common purpose,
Shared action,
Different ways
Of seeing life,
New learnings,
A whole-some mix,
A holy diversity
Resolving
To empassion compassion
And stride forward
In myriad modes
Of Peace.

This is our time,
Our chance,
To rally Peace
Into the world.
—Verie Sandborg

The Ass In Assumptions (two) ~ Early Morning Thoughts

Some time ago, I began talking about assumptions and the problems I faced with D&D because of it …I had written (in part):

Assumptions are typically picked up from the culture in which we live. We acquired them as we acquired so much of our other knowledge from the culture, without being especially aware that we were learning it.

Going back to D&D for a bit – They both, but one of the D’s in particular have acquired a number of assumptions from the culture we live in AND (although they would be loath to admit it) the gay culture they surround themselves with. That happens no matter what the orientation…but in this case, the one D’s (hereafter D2) assumptions have stronger influences than most. . .Quoting from above: Assumptions typically take for granted that something or other is a fact, the way things really are. Even if they are not that way.

D2 had placed Toby in a category based on his assumptions…even though the assumptions had little basis in fact.

It started the night he told me that I “had more patience that he did what “those’ kind of people.” Now, “those kind of people” is a phrase that has always had the effect on me that fingernails on a blackboard have. And usually my reaction to each is about the same. Being a product of the 60’s and 70’s albeit not directly in the South (except for one VERY long year) – I am extremely aware of just how that phase was said and used.

I never expected anyone I was deep friends with (and who knew anything at all about me) would ever show serious bigoted assumptions or anti-people assumptions at anytime. As time marched/moved/tip-toed on with Toby and me, there were other remarks that were made showing a lack of understanding.

As I had written IF they had asked question and truly listened to the answers, there would not have been a problem. However, for them it was easier to make the assumptions then to find out the truth.

Toby has a bit of an image problem…I would be the first to admit that – but also the first to find out that the image does not match the reality. (Hmmmm, sounds like a few other posts I’ve written.) Toby is 6 feet 4 inches tall with tattoos on each arm. He’s somewhat “built”, keeps his hair buzzed short and has an Ohio accent (crossed with a deep South accent) you could – at times – cut with a chain-saw. He enjoys people of all types and is very gregarious and at times exceptionally outgoing. And yes, he can be mistaken for a hustler.

When I first met Toby I had problems as well. I had written about a deep rooted cynicism that I had to root out.

Later, after D&D’s return from successful errand running. Toby (not his real name or initial) whom I had never seen before, literally came and starting “working” me…I’d use the term hitting on me, but I didn’t want to give the impression of violence. I found that unidentified feeling really rubbing me … and then I realized with a shock what it was. I was surprised by cynicism. Actually a very deep rooted cynicism. Something I was totally unprepared for, and unaware of how much I had.

cyn·i·cism(sĭn’ĭ-sĭz’əm)-n- An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others:

And how was it expressed? Thank heavens only mentally. I think I realized it before it became expressed either in body language or verbally. My inner reaction was one of very high mistrust of the integrity of him and his motives.

A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.
–H. L. Mencken (1880 – 1956)

And now – “the rest of the story ~

At one point, I was asked to house/dog sit for D&D. It was going to be a simple weekend – in on Friday – back home on Sunday. On Saturday evening, D&D were expected to be at a contest that a mutual friend was entering. I was more than willing to go and would be back for the dogs within about 2 1/2 hours.

In the middle of the afternoon chaos struck. (this IS a story about D&D after all!) The person who was entering the contest was being pulled in about five directions for rides to the contest and a couple of other places. This was not a problem – however, Toby was riding with him. So, he dropped Toby off at D&D‘s for about 45 minutes. All the people were delivered, I had a delightful time at the contest. Our friend didn’t win, but wasn’t too upset about it either. The weekend came to an end (and yes, there was a problem with the puppies – it only took a couple of hours to clean-up ~ they do belong to D&D after all.)

As I was driven home by D1, I explained what had happened and everything seemed to be fine. Alas, it was not going to be. On my part – I made the assumption 1) that D1 had discussed it with D2 and 2) that everything was fine.

Several weeks (!) later I received a very boozy phone call from D2 that literally started off with “I know what you did.” My response was an ever so polite “What?” “I know what you did and I have a few things to say about that.” Again, my response was an ever so polite “What the ______ (insert any word you want here) are you talking about?”

“I know that Toby was here and I want you to know that” (here is it)those kind of people stand on the porch and if they have to poop or pee – oh well, that’s where they do it.”

—tomorrow the final chapter of my friendship with D&D.

The Ass In Assumptions (one) ~ Early Morning Thoughts

Assumption comes from the Latin ad + sumere, and has the meaning of “to take something for granted,” “to suppose that it is true.” Assumptions typically take for granted that something or other is a fact, the way things really are. The thing that makes assumptions difficult to deal with is that they largely occur at the unconscious level.

For example: Why should anyone study? One ponderous answer might be, “Knowledge is better than ignorance, or, It is more important to acquire learning than it is to know nothing. “
And a voice says: “That’s certainly obvious.” I wish it were, but it is not. Identifying assumptions is never obvious. Assumptions are not learned in school and then promptly forgotten — like the capital of Britain , or the Einstein’s famous formula. Assumptions are typically picked up from the culture in which we live. We acquired them as we acquired so much of our other knowledge from the culture, without being especially aware that we were learning it. (insert trumpet sounds around the above statement please)

Before going on, I need to add another little term to the discussion – construct. A construct is any idea that people invent in order to accomplish some particular end. (please insert more trumpet sounds here) A construct is not the same as an absolute truth. A construct is simply an idea which people–very often people with an agenda–have created.

It’s been awhile since I mentioned anything about D&D. While not a major part of my writings, what has happened over the last few weeks IS a major part of my life.

I have written about how I met Toby and some of what we have gone through in an attempt to make he and I -“us.” For a number of reasons that has undergone a change, and we are going to remain in the friends category. This is a good thing. It’s making maps match territories, making sure luggage tags are accurate and accomplishing what they need to on each of our life journey.

What is important now is to work hard at developing yourselves into truly wonderful human beings. Ultimately, the relationships you form are a reflection of your own state of life.

Going back to D&D for a bit – They both, but one of the D’s in particular have acquired a number of assumptions from the culture we live in AND (although they would be loath to admit it) the gay culture they surround themselves with. That happens no matter what the orientation…but in this case, the one D‘s assumptions have stronger influences than most. For all I know, D has some serious personal experiences that have caused some of his strong assumptions to “flower.” Re quoting from above: Assumptions typically take for granted that something or other is a fact, the way things really are. Even if they are not that way.

D had placed Toby in a category based on his assumptions…even though the assumptions had little basis in fact. It started the night he told me that I “had more patience that he did what
“those’ kind of people.” Now, “those kind of people” is a phrase that has always had the effect on me that fingernails on a blackboard have. And usually my reaction to each is about the same. Being a product of the 60’s and 70’s albeit not directly in the South (except for one VERY long year) – I am extremely aware of just how that phase was said and used.

I never expected anyone I was deep friends with (and who knew anything at all about me) would ever show serious bigoted assumptions or anti-people assumptions at anytime. As time marched/moved/tip-toed on with Toby and me, there were other remarks that were made showing a lack of understanding.

Toby could come across negatively IF (again – IF) no one asked questions. I had no problem looking him in the eye (which is a little difficult as he is several inches taller!) and asking what I needed to know. Was there a possibility of untruth? Yes, but as I learned with children (all three of them!) truth WILL out…all you have to do is listen for it.


AS D&D would not listen let alone ask, their reactions became more and more pronounced – to me and toward Toby. I was walking a fine line that was no longer a balancing act but a high wire act without a net.

— more tomorrow

The Cowardly Closet ~ Late Night Thoughts

In all honesty, I have been following the hypocrisy on both sides of the Imus affair,and had actually started a fairly lengthy essay on my thoughts. I took a break and started reading blogs that I follow each day, when I read today’s post at A Spider’s Web in Thornton Park.

I felt as if I had been hit in the stomach with a fist. My sadness gave way to anger and then back to sadness. Spiders blog has been an incredible light in my world. He’s just gone through heart surgery, is facing treatment (possible surgery) for cancerous tumors – and now this. All caused by anonymous scum that don’t have the guts or “cojones” to come out their own closet to say or do what abhorrent things.

Yes, I deliberately used the phrase “out of the closet.” To me, these people that hide behind anonymity are closeted bigots that would probably be completely comfortable hiding behind white sheets and pointed hats – or wearing green shirts with a swastika on the sleeve.

I have re-printed his entire post. Be sure to read it completely – then my statements at the beginning will make sense.

From A Spider’s Web In Thornton Park

I had written the first part of this blog on Tuesday Night…

I just got back from a wonderful dinner with some friends tonight and my phone rang. It had been ringing all night long at dinner – but I didn’t answer it because it kept coming up Private Number and I didn’t want to take a call from an unknown person at dinner. So it rang again when I got home. I answered it and no one spoke on the other end… just sounded like a car radio on the line so I hung up. A couple of minutes later it rang again… and this voice said “Brett”… Has the cancer killed you yet? I said “No” and they said, “Damn it God – let the cancer kill him – let the cancer kill him” and they hung up.

Now, I can only assume that this is an individual who read my blog and I KNOW it is not any of my readers – I can only assume that it is the same person who was harassing me last year over my letters to Patty Sheehan. Only my blog buddies and my closest friends know about my illness – so it must be someone who reads or has read my blog.

So, gentle phone caller – sorry to disappoint you, but you did not upset me. I am not a basket case nor am I bothered. Actually, I just feel sorry for you… that something is making you do things like this. Calling me, telling my employer about me, none of that will make me die. I am too strong, too mean and too stubborn to die just because you want me to. Nope, sorry – someone greater than both of us will make that decision.

By the way… have a nice day and just remember – karma is a real bitch…

Then on Wednesday, I get this comment on an old post…
———————————–
Um, yeah, hi, this is Death. I’m still gunning for Spider. I think the cancer will get him.

Death said this on April 11th, 2007 at 4:40 pm (edit)
———————————–
Well… it is now Friday and I hate to say it but the gentle caller has won. He found some things on the internet that were totally personal and done on my own time. Long story short, I was terminated from work today because of a personal ad he forwarded to the CEO of my company, the VP of my division, the Chairman of the Board – my VP found it to be “disgusting, immoral, vile and made him sick to his stomach” – so since I could not be terminated for something that was done on my own time from my own home, I was terminated for sending personal e-mails to several friends and my parents from work.

So gentle reader, you win. I surrender; you have what you have wanted since July… I hope you are happy, I hope you sleep well tonight, I hope that you can look at yourself in the mirror in the morning.

I have also decided to put an end to A Spider’s Web in Thornton Park. I have enough going on in my life without having to deal with without having to deal with the nut cases out there on the net. A lot of the information general reader found out had to come from my blog… and I am just tired of thinking 3 times before I post something something. The loss is just too great…

I love you all, I thank you for everything – especially the love you showed me the past month… I will be around – I am sure that Tony and Sorted will keep you posted on my ongoing treatment.

It’s been real, it’s been fun – and it HAS been real fun! I am just sorry it has to end this way at this time – this may be closing the barn door after the cow ran away… but given the past month, I need to focus elsewhere – and not be looking over my shoulder.

I am really going to miss you all – each and every one of you.

And gentle reader, now that you have gotten what you want, maybe you will have the guts to tell me who you are…

~ by Spider on April 13, 2007.

————————–
Fear has its use but cowardice has none.
—Mahatma Gandhi

Cowards can never be moral.
—Mahatma Gandhi

The coward threatens when he is safe.
—Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Only cowards insult dying majesty.
—Aesop

Dear Spider ~ You have no idea how much I will miss you!!!

Self-Fulfilling Anger ~ Early Morning Thoughts

A fellow blogger once wrote that comments and emails are like drugs … we get some and then we want more!!! Today, when I got home there were two emails about my post yesterday about anger. Both brought up the same point … a valid point.

When I talked about becoming angry, not just irritated, but angry I was expressing what was going on within me. That feeling of almost rage about something. Now, there are times when anger is very appropriate, however – it’s where the anger is directed and what’s done with it that’s the important issue.

You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.
–Buddha

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
–Buddha

When I started having the problem of getting the delivery, I was irritated which then as the problem dragged on, became anger. Now, that anger was becoming something that was beginning to effect how I was viewing things around me. It was becoming the overriding emotion for the day. It actually was beginning to resemble a volcano, with hot lava about to erupt.

What made me work at changing was watching the man on the bus. His anger had reached such strength that nothing, no one was right, doing right or being right. And by that I do mean no one. It almost became laughable. People were getting on the bus too slowly, the lights should change faster and the rain needed to stop. He grumbled at a lady because her umbrella was wet and would get the floor wet…which it already was. The windshield wipers were too noisy. And his list was getting longer as time went on. That’s what I mean by his external behavior was beginning to mirror what I was feeling internally.

In the discussions with the company that was supposedly delivering the package, I was faced with choices. I could really “let-them-have-it” or try and figure out what was going on. When I got the final phone call last night attempting to get to the bottom of the issue, the person on the other end tried to place the blame where it wasn’t … on me. Again, I could have really vented – but I chose (this time) to simply stay where I felt I wanted to be. I stayed firm, but calm.

Today, the decision paid the benefit. There was another phone call this morning about the delivery. I’m sure the person calling was expecting a major problem…but within five minutes the issues had been completely resolved, the delivery DID arrive at the time it was supposed to AND I got a discount on the purchase price for the delay.

Now, I’m not some kind of Pollyanna that thinks that everything can be solved with calm words, sweet behavior. I KNOW better than that. What I don’t want to do, is become as that person on the bus – the kind of individual who thinks that everything is wrong, nothing and no one is right. That kind of behavior becomes almost a self-fulfilling prophecy…keep believing that, and soon that’s exactly what will happen. Once we cast someone or something/someone as the enemy everything is to be suspect and made to fit the preconceived ideas we have.

Anger is only a natural reaction; one of the mind’s ways of reacting to things that it perceives to be wrong. While anger can sometimes lead people to do shocking things,it can also be an instinct to show people that something isn’t right.

A number of years ago there was a book titled “Don’t Waste Your Sorrows,” but I would like to use the term “Don’t Waste Your Anger.” There are some things we should be angry about – injustice, hatred, bigotry (all kinds), deceit (any kind) and the list could go on. However, if the anger isn’t causing some kind of action, then to me it’s wasted.

— more tomorrow

Flung From The Tree Into Life ~ Early Morning Thoughts

Today I became very angry. A delivery that was supposed to happen yesterday … with the companies precise scheduling “sometime between 8:30am and 5:00pm.” It didn’t happen, in spite of several phone calls to find out what was going on. It didn’t happen. It was scheduled today, supposedly before 12 noon – or shortly thereafter. Again, several phone calls later – no one really had a good answer as to what happened. The mysterious delivery is supposed to happen tomorrow. Perhaps it will – but what I gained today is going to make tomorrow a lot easier.

I started to become quite angry. I was not irritated (that might have been justified). I was becoming very angry. The kind of anger that would have translated into outward behavior, I have no doubt. When it was finally determined that the delivery wasn’t going to occur – unless someone waived a magic wand, or sprinkled fairy dust – I headed to catch a bus to get some errands done. As I was sitting on the bus with the rain coming down (Oh, just great! … mutter, mutter, mutter), there was another problem. One that really caught my attention. A gentleman got on the bus who had obviously had a very bad day – no, make that a week (at least). Nothing was going right, everything was wrong and everything was everyone else’s fault. No one could meet his standards for breathing, let alone living. When he got off the bus, there was almost a collective sigh of relief – but one from me of awareness. As much as I don’t want to admit it, his outward expression was somewhat matching my own inward feelings.

Had I continued with my thoughts and mental complaints, things would have been very different. And I wouldn’t have begun to notice things around me again. The beauty of the clouds as they moved, the various expressions of people as they moved through existence. I wouldn’t have noticed something I thought went out of style when I was a “young-un.” There was actually a child with folded paper sailing a “boat” in the water of the gutter.

I want to borrow a story from a wonderful teacher/actress that I have the privilege to know personally. She has an amazing outlook on life and living.

My cousins live in Asheville, North Carolina, where Jesse is a prominent surgeon. He is a fine man, a very gracious man, a very loving man, but a man who doesn’t like cats. His wife, Frances, is a delightful person who loves cats.

One day a little neighbor girl ran crying to their house. Her cat had climbed up in a tall, slender tree and couldn’t get down. Jesse thought that was a very good place for a cat to be, but following Frances’s gentle persuasion, he said, “Let’s see what we can do to help.”

The two of them decided that Frances, who is of diminutive stature, would grab the lower part of the tree and work it down until the topmost branches reached Jesse. Then Jesse, who is quite tall, would scoop the frightened cat from the top of the tree to safety. Their plan worked well at first. Frances grabbed the part of the tree within her reach and pulled it toward her. The tree tipped down like a thirsty giraffe, bearing a tiny passenger on its head. The branches were almost to Jesse when Frances lost her grip!

Whoom! The tree slipped from Frances’s hands and sprang away with such great force that the cat was flung into space! Catapulted! Claws out! Eyes wide! Approaching a certain but unknown destiny.

The little girl was crushed, but the shock of her beloved cat’s mode of departure stopped her sobbing. Frances was overcome by guilt because she and Jesse had lost the little girl’s cat. Jesse tried not to laugh. They all accepted the foiled rescue attempt. What else could they do?

A few days later, Frances was in the grocery store and noticed a friend pushing a grocery cart with cat food in it. She knew that her friends’ husband didn’t like cats any more than Jesse did. “I see you have cat food. Do you have a cat?” she asked.

Her friend stopped, looked around to be sure no one else could hear, and said, “Frances, the strangest thing happened. My husband and I were sitting in out backyard when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, this cat landed at our feet! My husband looked at the cat and then at me. He said, “Maude, the Lord has sent us a cat!”

My cousins’ story gives me new insight into the dilemmas of traveling and the bewilderments I often find in life. I identify with that cat! Often flung out into uncharted space. I’m not sure where I’m going, but I’m going there very rapidly. Clashing priorities, scrambled agenda, sudden assignments, unexpected incidents catapult me into areas and activities for which I have no comfortable preparation. Sometimes, I even look like that cat. Claws out! Eyes wide! Grasping for breath and trying unsuccessfully to get my act together before I land.
–Jeannette Clift George
Travel Tips From A Reluctant Traveler

–angry cat
cloudking.com/artists/pinguino/angry-cat.php

–angry kitten by Yiannis Pavlis
http://www.pbase.com/lens/image/2863613
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FIghts, Fears and Hopes ~ Early Morning Thoughts

It’s much later/earlier than usual, but I’m having trouble getting to sleep. This post is going to be a bit more immediate and personal than most ~

Earlier D&D joined me at a favorite “watering hole” (does anyone use that term anymore?) for some conversation. As I look back on the evening, I should have seen some red flags up and waving. As the one D is connected with the floral industry, this time of the year is really stressful, trying and will wear you out. I have been told Valentines is the worst season of the year in that industry.

I was getting ready to leave and they had me stay for a bit longer, and offered to take me home. As riding in a car beats riding in the bus any day – there was no argument on my part.

On the way home, a really nasty fight broke out between D&D. I understand that there will occasionally be problems in any relationship, but this one was particularly over-the-top and embarrassingly public . It involved yelling, threats and finally the car being pulled over and one of the two getting out and threatening to walk off and leave us stranded (which, as he had the only set of car keys – was a real threat).

It was my reaction I was trying to figure out. I should have been annoyed, angry at the scene I was watching (along with a few startled people in the gas station parking lot where the threat to strand us was being played out), but I was deeply, frighteningly and emotionally upset. I was shaking, I had trouble breathing and at one point was very close to tears. I covered it over for the sake of getting D back in the car and back on the road.

After I got home, and thought about it – I mean REALLY thought about it, I had a realization of why it upset me, and why I needed to take a good look at it.

Eons ago (in a galaxy far, far away) as a junior in high school, I was accepted for a fledgling program at a college in Minneapolis. The school wanted to try introducing high school juniors to the college experience (?!) during summer school. I’m sure for some that might have worked very well. I was definitely NOT prepared for life in the city nor discovering what being gay meant without someone to guide me through the process. Let’s just say, throwing a rather confused lamb to the wolves is a pretty good description.

I finally met someone who took me under-his-wing with all the ulterior motives that entailed. However, I was oblivious to the obvious and was just glad to have someone to be around. He lived with his parents, and they seemed to be understanding of his being gay and my trying to figure out being gay. So, I packed an overnight bag, and off I went for a weekend sleepover.

He wanted me to meet some other friends that night, and we went to a party of some kind. I think it was a celebration for one of the guests, but I never really could find out – and being as young as I was, I had other things on my mind.

We left the party with a car full heading to yet another persons house. At some point, an enormous fight broke out in the front seat. I’m talking screaming, punches, threats of great bodily harm being flung about and ended with one of the two trying to put out his cigarette on the other. I was terrified to my core, to say the least. When the car pulled over and the two combatants got out to continue their rambo-esque behavior I was close to tears. I had never seen/heard or been around anything like that, and all I knew I wanted to do was get away. And that’s exactly what I did. It’s after midnight, I’m in a strange city – without too much idea where I am and I’m heading as quickly as I can away from what’s terrifying me.

I am now a long way from the school, no idea where – a long way from his house, no idea where, heading down the way to get to the major highway. I thought if I get there, I can find my way back to somewhere. I walked, dodged dogs and even had the police pull over to see what the heck I was doing. Of course, there was no offer of help from them – other than to tell me to avoid the “bad” areas up ahead.

When I pulled this incident out of my memory this morning and realized that was where my reaction to the fight came from. I could almost taste the fear and panic I had gone through, and my heart was pounding just as it had then.

And I realized that one incident had created a condition within me. I realized that when those situations have happened either with me or around me, I’m playing the tape of that night – all the terror, hopelessness and determination that I would never be around or involved in something such as that again. Now that I’ve had that “ah ha” moment, I can begin to deal with it and change it into something that become much more positive – and hopefully more productive. It’s a case of my map not matching my territory, and I’m surprised I haven’t gotten lost more than I have.

And now to sleep – perchance to dream ~

more on this later