June 27, 2012
Pride to look like Americans
In light of the Supreme Court’s recent legal decisions concerning immigration, I propose the following amendments to a certain tablet held by a giant copper lady:
Give me your properly-documented tired, your poor with necessary forms,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free because they are able to, when asked, show necessary papers to law enforcement professionals.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore Strike this statement altogether… send these people to Canada. Only the ambitious and educated need apply.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp* beside the golden door.
*’Lamp‘ means “high-powered search light” used to make sure people don’t sneak through the golden door**.
**’Golden Door‘ is a metaphor implying the entryway*** to a place with a growing economy and abundant opportunity. Like India. Or China. Brazil even. Ever thought about going to one of these places instead?
***Passage through golden door does not guarantee prosperity, acceptance, compassion, or tolerance.
January 13, 2012
This is not how one hopes to meet the neighbor.
But there he is, glaring at me under the porch light, pistol in hand, erasing all the “howdy neighbor” dialogue I’d planned out for our first meeting.
I’d also wanted to tell him I loved the version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” he and his wife’s theatre troupe recently put on in a nearby park. I love Shakespeare but that didn’t rise up as the most relevant statement to make when you have a gun pointed your way.
Rather, our conversation when:
“Was that you?”, he asked.
“Yeah. I went to the backyard that way so I wouldn’t trigger the light over my roommates’ window.”
“Well, just remember that you could have died tonight.”
I was living with some friends during the early autumn of 2008, the third residence for me and Fortuna in as many months, during my turbulence and terrible post-divorce summer. That night, I got back around midnight from an evening with friends and decided to go into the backyard to watch the stars, drink a beer, and smoke a cigarette (amazing what habits return when your life appears to fall apart).
Seemed like a pleasant, non-life-threating idea. (more…)
December 9, 2011
Posted by Steven Joiner under Dog
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DB Cooper Was Not Here
A recent clear, beautiful sunny Pacific Northwest day found me and Lakshmi scaling a steep ridge in search of DB Cooper and his bundle of cash. Though we didn’t find him (yet), the day was pleasant, the climb (700 feet of elevation over about 700 yards) arduous, and the adventure properly adventurous. While I am known to hike in the woods with the pooch, I am not necessarily known as a treasure hunter.
Why then was I out there?
40 years ago, my Great-Uncle Russ heard from a colleague that, the morning after DB’s daring escape, said colleague, from his front porch, sighted a parachute caught in a tree off on a distant ridge. For 40 years, my uncle plotted, planned, and dreamed of scaling that ridge to finally solve the mystery of what happened to Cooper. I knew almost nothing of the legend until earlier this year when my uncle mentioned, almost in passing, that he knew the final resting place of DB Cooper. My great-aunt listened quietly the whole time and managed to contain her eye-rolling to only a few instances.
My insatiable curiosity led me down a wormhole after that first conversation. After 40 years of dreaming, Russ finally found someone who said, “A parachute in a tree seen from over a mile away? That’s the proof? Cool, let’s do it!”. (more…)
November 16, 2011
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A New Day Dawns in NYC
Certainty in Uncertain Times
Parks clear. Cleanup begins. Leaderless movement now a placeless movement. Mixed messages. Clear focus. Regroup. Recommit. Refocus. Violent here. Nonviolent there. Streaming video captured with smartphones of confrontation reminiscent of peaceful resistance images from the pre-YouTube past. Pepper spraying grannies and pregnant women. Molotov cocktails. Rumors of anarchists building weapons. Crowds shut down a port. Hygiene issues. Drugs. Fights. Unclear focus. Clear messages. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in park maintenance and police overtime.
Dismantle the camps while the campers sleep. Worked for George Washington in Trenton. Works now.
Now is the winter of our discontent.
No camps to occupy… good news for the anti-OWS folks, bad news for the pro-OWS folks.
But if your enemy is not in one place, they can be anywhere.
Bad news for the anti-OWS folks, good news for the pro-OWS camp. (more…)
November 15, 2011
Onward and upward
I wrote a quote on the inside cover of a journal spanning April 26, 2002 to January 12th, 2004. The quote, captured before I started journaling, accurately sums up the content that eventually followed:
To become acquainted with yourself is a terrible shock (Carl Jung)
This journal covers the summer leading up to my marriage. It covers the death of my father a month after tying the knot. It covers a time of doubt: for myself, my marriage, my life. It covers my birthday in 2003-2004 during a trip to Mexico when I rediscovered the ability to relax… after almost 18 months of trying.
Basically, it covers my dropkick into adulthood.
I reread this journal yesterday and reacquainted myself with myself, clearly seeing the incompleteness of my search for self during those years. The profundity of the Jung quote also struck me as doubly true. Here is a record of my search from almost ten years ago when that search was very present and active, now viewed through the lens of those intervening years, a perspective full of insight and sympathy for that past, incomplete me. (more…)
October 7, 2011
Posted by Steven Joiner under Head
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Entitled deadbeats protected by the minions of bloated govt.
I went to downtown Portland yesterday to see what three-to-five thousand whiners, deadbeats, slackers, and ne’er-do-wells looked liked when they descended en masse on Portland’s “Living Room” (Pioneer Square). Here’s my report:
On the surface, the crowd seemed disturbingly normal. It spanned in age from teenager to elder in very equal proportions. I overheard radical socialist and/or anarchist ideas (same thing?) disguised as thoughtful conversations about taxation, offshoring jobs, lacking healthcare, access to education, holding banks accountable, and long-term unemployment. People carried signs supporting collective bargaining rights and the power of numbers… numbers of people, not dollars. There were a handful of people in masks or dressed up like Wall St. Banking Puppets. Otherwise, lots of Gore-Tex, baseball caps, and wool apparel. After all, it’s Portland and it’s getting cool.
There were funny signs: “Soylent Green is People! Corporations are Not!”
A sign with an image of a rabbit that said, “Screw Us and We Multiple”
Amusing and not too america-hating on the surface. But aren’t you all subversive freedom haters? What’s on the other side of that sign buddy?
Fortunately, to stave off my own critical thinking, there were some signs clearly spawned by anti-trust-your-benevolent-corporate-friend, anarchist nazis expressing disturbing notions like: “Unemployed Construction Worker willing to work under the table since I can’t even land a minimum wage job” and “Single mother of two with no health insurance”. (more…)
October 5, 2011
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In loving memory of Tim McLaurin*
Snake Got Your Tongue?
I sometimes worry that I spend too much time emailing with my friends when I “should be” doing “real” writing. Yet, just as it was in the lost days of letter correspondence, it is in the process of writing a loved one that I mine deeper into myself and find stories to share with a wider audience. Sharing, after all, is my purpose in this grand exercise called life.
*Tim died in 2002 and I cried when I heard the news. It was the first time I lost someone whom I considered a mentor though I never told him in person that he mentored me. This is the story of how that happened.
In the fall of 1993, I received permission to take a writing class at North Carolina State University. I’d taken ever available writing class at WG Enloe High School (um… go Eagles!) so, while many of my fellow seniors were taking physics and calculus and such at NC State, I got the green light to go and write. The excitement I felt was a lovely precursor to the sheer terror I encountered the first day of class. Here was a room full of adults… and I mean “real adults”, people in their twenties and thirties! Grad students! Adults in the continuing ed program! Then there was me, a 17-year-old with the zits to prove it.
The teacher was an eccentric ex-Marine, ex-Peace Corps volunteer, former snake-handling carnival freak novelist name Tim McLaurin. (more…)