And If You Did Know?

In Memory of Sharon Michele McAvoy Nichols .:. December 24, 1949 – October 10, 2005

November 1, 2004

What is Really Important

Filed under: her words — mark @ 4:22 pm

I am sitting here not knowing what is next. I just kind of feel as though I am a raw nerve, and do not want to move too much or say too much. I am getting glimpses of normalcy, but it is not there. I feel as though I am moving through a fog and yet I am here. I had no idea dad’s death would impact this much. I am doing some of the things I normally do on Monday, but it feels different. I find myself not understanding things, that I am somehow outside of myself and watching myself. It is odd. At the same time I feel a clarity that I do not normally feel. I am not pushing myself, and yet I am finding that I feel connected when I do little things like sweeping the floor. I do not notice the passage of time and yet I am very aware of the time. This is very different way to feel for me. I miss my dad even though I had little contact with him. I feel as though I should call him, knowing that he is not there. I want to hear his voice even though I usually felt either nothing or badly after talking to him. I want to call people to talk, and yet I do not want to have to deal with it. It is a very different way to feel. I miss my husband terribly and yet I am relieved to be alone. I am enjoying the silence and yet I want to be distracted. I have no focus and yet I feel very aware of what is going on within me.

Another thing I think is emerging as a result of this experience is that I can see that an awful lot of what I have been worrying about is not worth the time and effort. Being so involved in politics for example, while it can be fun and interesting, needs to be put in the proper perspective. I like looking at politics and will continue to do so, but I need to keep a perspective about it. It is only one part of my life, it has only the significance I give it and no more. Things have always been difficult in the world, and will continue to be so. I can do some small things to help, and no more. I need to take a break from things now and then. I think this coming weekend my husband and I can give ourselves permission to do something just for us. I have truly enjoyed being in this campaign and I love the friends I have made, but I need to keep in mind that politics overall are meaningless. The people involved are important, the outcomes and the mess they provide are not real. I guess that is the key to this. What is after all real? The mess being made by the Washington Keystone Cops is not real. The truth of life is about people; not money, not power, not politics, not ownership, not any of the artificial things we run after. People and love are real.

October 31, 2004

Goodbye Dad

Filed under: her words — mark @ 8:46 am

This is one of the hardest entries I have ever made. Yesterday my father died. He had been driving his truck when he just pulled over to the side of the road. A witness told the police that he sat there for a minute or so then pulled back onto the road in a U-Turn. When he pulled out another truck was coming and hit him directly in the side. My father was tossed around and sustained some broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a broken scapula, and head injuries. The head injuries were the problem. He hung on for two days, then yesterday, October 30 at 12:30 p.m. he died. He was 83 years old and not in good health.

Those are the facts, but somehow just seeing them there means so little. My dad was a difficult man in so many ways. He was very angry about his own childhood. His father had beaten him almost every day. My grandfather was severe and very strict. He thougth the way to shape a child into a good citizen was to beat him into submission. What it did to my father was to make him angry and afraid.

My father was very afraid most of the time. He served in World War II and Korea. He was a medic in the Navy and was attached to the Marines so he hit the beaches in a number of battles in the Pacific. He saw a tremendous amount of death and destruction. He rarely talked about his experiences while in the service. But after Korea he came home and never quite fit into society. He struggled with what to do. He had been discharged from the military on a Section 8. This means that he had mental problems associated with emotional problems. When put together with the trauma of having been beaten as a child, I think it was more than he could bear. He never quite figured out what his place in the world was. He tried job after job. He would get frustrated and quit or get fired. He tried his best to be a good father, but having had such a bad role model he had big problems with that as well. The two things I remember him saying often were: “Grow up” and “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” He could be very cruel and punishing. He would be upset at something and suddenly get very violent. He tried to kill my mother a few times, at times where my brother and myself could see it. He was also funny. He had a good sense of humor, at times caustic, but still funny.

I remember once when I was jumping on a trampoline and came down on the back of my neck. He cleared a fence in one jump to come and see if I was okay. I also remember once when I cut my toe with the lawn mower. He came out from under the car he was working on very quickly and came running over.

He once told me that the Soviet Union and the U.S. were heading in the same direction only that they were doing it with a gun butt, and we were doing it with the ballot box. I can see now that he was right. He had some true wisdom.

He never got over his prejudices. He had difficulties with anyone who was not white. He referred to other races in prejorative terms. But to his credit I did not hear this from him until I was about age 17. At that time he used a very prejorative term about an African American. I was taken aback and said I had never heard him say anything like that. He said that he had always felt that way but realized that it was a terrible thing and that he did not want to pass that on to me. I have always admired him for doing that. Another thing I will always admire and be grateful for is his willingness to sit and discuss the past. At one point about 12 years ago I went to Tennessee to visit him. We talked about what it was like when I was a child. He admitted to the abuse and said he was sorry. I have always admired him for that as well. I see this as being very brave and strong.

My dad never came to any of my events. He stayed away from my concerts with the band. He did not come to any of recitals in dance. He just did not do that sort of thing.

The point of this is that my dad was human. He had his strengths and his weaknesses. He could be very difficult, and he could be heroic. He could be strong and brave, and he could be cowardly. He did the best he could under some very difficult circumstances. I will always love and admire him, not because he was perfect, but because he was human.

Thank you dad, something I said to him often especially in recent years. I love you dad, somthing I always said to him. I forgive you dad, something I did get to say. I will miss you dad.

With love, respect, gratitude, and forgiveness. You will always be in my heart.

October 17, 2004

A New Reality

Filed under: her words,politics — mark @ 4:56 pm

Here is an article that took me quite by surprise. I wanted to share it with everyone so here is the link.

Talking Points

October 16, 2004

The Enigma

Filed under: her words,politics — mark @ 4:31 am

I am sitting here thinking about the remarks made by Senator Kerry during the last debate that has drawn so much heat about the Vice President’s daughter. It seems that one of the questions asked of the candidates by the moderator, Bob Sheifer, was about whether homosexuality was a choice. The president, in his usual shape shifting way, side stepped the question. However, Kerry talked it not being a choice and brought up Mary Cheney as an example. Afterward Lynn Cheney, the vice president’s wife chastised Kerry saying that he had done it for political reasons. Well of course he did, but it seemed to me that it was the in the vein of showing that there are few absolutes. It seemed to me that he was saying that there are many people who have faced the truth of their sexuality and have realized that they are who they are. It further seemed to me that he was pointing out that the vice president has dealt with his issues around his daughter’s way of life and is more accepting than perhaps his wife.

I have some difficulty with the vice president and his business choices and his political choices. I think he has developed the capability to put his business or political interests ahead of being a citizen of the world, and for this I do not think he belongs in a powerful position over which he has so much control over people’s lives. However, I do think he is a brave man to have accepted his daughter and her life style. It takes a great deal of courage to face your own feelings and deal with them in order to accept other’s choices. To have accepted his daughter and not tried to hide from her shows integrity and courage. I admire this about Vice President Cheney. It does however require that I look at him in a different way. Perhaps he has become adept at separating his private life from his professional life. It seems that in his personal life he shows great compassion and courage, while it seems that in his professional life he is ruthless and driven. This is a conundrum. I think it takes tremendous personal introspection to accept other’s as they truly are. I think it takes time, effort, and a willingness to look beyond our own perspective and see that others have every right to be who they are. So I see that Vice President Cheney has done a great deal of personal work to get where he is with this. I admire him for it. It does make me wonder why he does not seem to use this same type of introspection around his role as vice president. I do acknowledge that I only know him through the media, and that this type of information is usually skewed one way or the other, so I need to give consideration that it is not always unbiased or fair. I do however think that he has done enough to harm our environment and our international reputation to warrant my distrust of him politically. Having decided our energy policy behind closed doors, with energy insiders who have monetary interests at stake, and seemingly without acknowledging that it was not ethical shows a lack of ethics. To have constantly insisted that Saddam and Al Quida had ties when all of the evidence directly contradicts it. To have helped Halliburton win no-bid contracts in Iraq, especially when he is still getting money from them. To have consistently spewed the party line when it is obvious that it is based on lies and half-truths. All of these make me question him as a vice president. But I do have to admire his loyalty to his daughter.

In conclusion it says to me that like all of us the vice president is an enigma. While I respect him as a father and a person, I do not appreciate him as a vice president.

October 15, 2004

No Real Choices

Filed under: her words,politics — mark @ 2:17 pm

I have watched the three presidential debates and I must admit that I feel disappointed and somewhat cheated. I do feel as though Senator Kerry won but having seen him speak about the war in Vietnam, I wish he could have brought the same passion to the problems we now face.

I do see that there seem to be many people who do not want to face our problems and as a result do not want them talked about. But knowing that the candidates, and their staff, were the ones who set the agenda. The debates were predictable and flat. The two were doing their stump speeches and that is boring. Of course I admit that watching Bush act like a spoiled and petulant child is amusing. He is quite the brat.

I admit that I would prefer a campaign that included others such as the Green candidate, the Libertarian candidate, and Ralph Nader. I think having them included would broaden the debate and keep it from becoming just a contest for rich white men. I remember growing up that one of the myths I was told was that anyone could become president. Not so much now. If you are not willing to kiss the ring of Corporate America, then you do not stand a chance. They have marginalized all of the other candidates. I have listened to Ralph Nader and I know he is telling the truth. I know that he is our conscious. He is not in the pocket of “big business” and as a result does not stand a chance. How sad. We could use someone of his intellect and knowledge, but we will have to pick one of the Corporate Choices instead. Of course I will vote for Kerry because at least he is not a big baby who does not want to have to think or read.

Yech!!!! What a world, what a world.

September 17, 2004

More Guns?

Filed under: her words,social issues — mark @ 6:17 am

Yesterday I spoke with my husband about gun ownership in this country. Now that the assault weapons ban has been lifted it has become figure for me. It seems that a number of people he works with own guns. This took me aback. I have seen what guns can do to people. Working as a crime scene technician for a few years I saw the aftermath of violence up close. It is so different that what is seen in movies and television. It is not glamorous or pretty. It is sad and ugly.

As my husband was talking I saw an image of people having guns to help them feel safe in this scary and noisy world. I understand the fear. Yesterday I had to talk to my boss. He pointed out that I had missed a meeting. I felt that sinking feeling that I get when I have been caught in a mistake. I always revert to a young child in those circumstances. When I was a young child and was caught in a mistake my father would punish me, usually in a violent way. He spanked or he beat both my brother and myself. So when I get caught in a mistake my first reaction is one of fear and dread. I am afraid I will get punished before I can explain or protect myself. Since the meeting with him I have been thinking about the situation. I see that I am so afraid of mistakes that I have tried to create a world around me that is safe and secure. The truth is I cannot make the world into what I want it to be. Fear is going to happen. I cannot stop others from being themselves, nor do I want to. Being in the world is going to bring up issues. My job is to take care of me no matter what is going on out there. It is hard to be myself in the world when I want to protect me from the fear. It is hard to stay balanced when the fear can happen at any time.

Fear happens no matter what. It has always been thus. We have been trying to feel safe forever by trying to build a fortress of some sort. I know I have tried in recent years to limit my contact with the outside world so I would feel safe. I felt safe in some ways, but not others. I felt cut off and afraid that I would not see the “bad” coming. Then about 4 years ago we elected a new president. I began to see some scary things start to happen. We got attacked and then went to war. My goodness, this is scary. So I am feeling afraid more and more. I know that there is little I can do about the world situation, but I am still very afraid right now. As a result of this I need to be very gentle with myself and not try to protect me from it. I can make myself safe and not let the fear take over, it is hard but I have always been able to take care of me and I will now.

The point is that fear is a natural part of life in this world. It is a constant and always will be. Trying to protect myself from it does not work. I know that if I go out into the world I am at risk for being afraid. I am also free to enjoy the beauty and joy in the world. So in order to be available for the joy I have to be in a place that might bring up some fear. Trying to come up with ways that help me feel safe is good; trying to feel safe by putting others and myself at greater risk is foolish. I know how to use a gun; I have been through training for using one. I also know that that it takes practice, a lot of practice, to use one in a danger situation. Putting a gun in the hands of someone who does not practice constantly is a prescription for disaster. All one has to do is look at what happened to President Regan. Trained professionals, people who practice constantly, when someone tried to shoot him. Watch what happens, everyone gets disoriented and is not sure what to do. These people work at dealing with these situations, they are lost. So how well is someone, who does not practice at all, going to deal with this type of situation? Most law enforcement officials will tell you that having a gun in a danger situation often leads to death, often for the owner of the gun. So perhaps we can look at helping the world feel safe by helping people feel protected and cared for instead of trying to arm ourselves more and more.

September 16, 2004

The Revolution is Happening

Filed under: her words,politics — mark @ 4:18 am

We have reached a terrible milestone in that we have lost 1,000 of our brave and dedicated soldiers in the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. I can find no reason for our having gone there. There were no weapons of mass destruction, the country of Iraq posed no threat to us, Saddam has been captured, and yet we are still there! I am completely lost as to why. I mourn for the soldiers and their families. I mourn for the lost lives of the Iraqis. I mourn for the lives lost on 9/11 and their families. I also mourn for the loss of our national honor and our international veracity.

I must admit I am somewhat in awe of the audacity of the Bush administration. They keep saying things that are not true over and over and over until it becomes conventional wisdom. They are adroit at offering the Big Lie. I listen to Lord Halliburton (Dick Cheney) say over and over that they had weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam was connected to Osama Bin Laden and that as long as he is saying it, it is still believed by many people. This whole episode is very scary. I feel as though I am living in the land Alice entered in “Through The Looking Glass.”

I do believe more in the Chaos Theory than in any conspiracy theory, and I believe that the people in charge in Washington have their own agenda that is about greed and power, which blinds them to anything other than their own power. I also think that because they have the media on their side that they can deliver their message constantly. I know this is why so many think that keeping Bush another four years will keep them safe, but seeing all that he has done that is not part of the everyday discussion is amazing. He has been so brazen about giving away our future, without any compunction that it just makes me light-headed. I am amazed that the economy, which is headed south, is never talked about. Having just read “What’s The Matter With Kansas” by Thomas Frank, I see how the neoconservatives have been working toward forwarding their agenda for some time at a grass roots level. All of the current events that converge: media consolidation, people working two and three jobs to make ends almost meet to they do not have time to look beyond their daily routines, and the gang in Washington consolidating their power with corporations and the religious right, it all adds up to revolution. I think we are in revolution right now. I have been thinking that the revolution that is inevitable when the gap between the rich and the poor reaches critical mass was going to happen soon. But I am beginning to see that this is the revolution. Wow, what an interesting time to live.

August 13, 2004

More Nuclear Weapons?

Filed under: her words — mark @ 2:29 pm

I just read an article on Common Cause by Jon Else called: “The Museum of Attempted Suicide” about nuclear weapons. I found myself remembering the silliness of “Duck and Cover” from my childhood. I remember at the time thinking that it would be awful to go through something like that. I kept thinking I wanted to go with the first blast because I did not want to be alive after the blast.

As I read the article I saw that the numbers of weapons we have is astounding. We had 30,000 in 1966 and have been producing many more since. For what? Upon whom will we use these? Using them will contaminate the earth for centuries. Then Jon Else spoke with eloquence about a safe that was filled with money, bond, stocks, and gold. It had been in a city built to see how a bomb, called Priscilla, would affect everything. Everything in the constructed city was destroyed except the safe. All of the contents were “safe”. Of course they could have looked at Hiroshima to see that many safes were standing in the rubble after the explosion there. But who wants to use other people’s data?

The article goes on to talk about who would be able to use the contents of the safe once the human race was destroyed. He further spoke of the concrete bunkers that have been constructed to house the leaders so that they will be safe. I was struck by one very interesting thought—We are going to save the ones who brought this on in the first place? How ironic. Would it not be more intelligent to put young people who could re-establish the human race in these bunkers? And even more importantly people who were opposed to this? At least that way it would not start again immediately. I will never understand war and the flimsy, stupid, and transparent reasons given for it.

August 10, 2004

Why the Patriot Act?

Filed under: her words,politics — mark @ 11:57 am

I have been reading a great deal about the Patriot act since its introduction. Many have decried the Orwellian overtones and have been saying that it is the undoing of our Democracy. But I cannot help but wonder what the true purpose of the Act is. I have never been one for conspiracy theories. I do not think most of us have the intelligence or wit to pull one off. I think Chaos theory is much more likely to explain life. So I look at the Patriot Act and wonder—what is going on?

In thinking about this one thing that keeps coming up is that “Big Business” would just love to have much of the information that would be more readily available as a result of this act. They could have access to much more than they do now. They would know your most intimate secrets. They could then market more directly to you. After all the intelligence community does not really need this information. They have demonstrated time after time that they cannot keep track of the information that they have access to now. So why the Patriot Act? Perhaps it is just marketeers trying to get their greedy little hands on more specific personal information from each of us. Just a theory.

August 4, 2004

What is the Truth?

Filed under: her words — mark @ 5:42 am

I am reading reports of the Orange Alert issued by Tom Ridge. As I read them I see that there are prespectives being represented. Some are saying that the alerts are from outdated information, some are saying it is a political move to show that the Republicans are wanting to keep the fear factor going so as to keep us willing to give up our freedoms, some are saying that it is politically motivated so that we do not mind protesters being arrested or barred from protesting. I know that the debate is like so many other debates, there are no easy answers. But the debate is important. Debate, while it can be sticky and messy, is one of the most important aspects of democracy. A lively debate is envigorating and helps keep opinions fresh and real. I think one of the biggest threats to democracy is that debate has been stopped far too often. As I watch C-Span I see that often the politicians do not listen to what others have to say. They speak for the cameras, not to each other. The actual debate goes on behind closed doors. As I watched the Democratic convention I saw that it was a love fest for Kerry. There was no debate, their were no dissenting opinions, there was a party to celebrate Kerry as the Chosen One. I saw one woman show some courage in challenging the lock-step opinions, and she was arrested. I know that it is difficult to listen to others without prejudice clouding our views, I also know that it is very important to develop one’s own opinion. I think it has always been difficult to know what the truth is, I also think it is important to find our own truth. As I read the opinions of the reporters and journalists I think is vital to my mental health to not just buy into a certain set of ideas and just go along with them. I love that I have this outlet to state my own opinions. I think the biggest threat to democracy today is people giving up and not being involved. I think the biggest reason for that is that it is so hard to sort out the actual truth from the opinions. But this has always been the case. We are such wonderful creatures, we fight and push and manipulate, but in the end it is everyone’s choice. Choice is one of the only absolutes. We all have the choice to believe whatever we wish. If you find that you follow someone else’s opinion without question, then you have made your choice—that is that you give it away. If you listen to others then make up your own mind–then you keep your own power. It is hard to know who to believe but it is vital to know what you think and believe. I believe that the only way to know that is to keep searching, listening, trusting your own instincts, and making up your own mind. The more someone tries to convince me of something the less likely I am to believe them.

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