Monday, December 27, 2004

Baby's got back for Christmas! Posted by Hello

Myles = Miles Davis? Posted by Hello

Lynne holds still for a picture Posted by Hello

Cousins in color Posted by Hello

Cousins Amelia, Myles, and Carmen Posted by Hello

Cousin Amelia models new clothes Posted by Hello

Cleo loves Christmas! Posted by Hello

Grandma Diane watches who's been naughty and nice Posted by Hello

aaron shows excitement at a new book Posted by Hello

Christmas Eve at Grandma Diane's Posted by Hello

mjae wears festive shoes, kicks back, & rakes in the goods Posted by Hello

Santa reaches deep Posted by Hello

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Poem as a Daughter


Father’s day comes,
and the girls sit tribunal at the table.

Dad cooks
pancakes flip as his answers.

We hold our cards
spread evenly in our hands

anger anted, poker-faced

Dad’s being bad again.
He’s not hurting us;
he’s hurting himself,
but it’s more important than we are,
and that hurts.

See, he’s not having sex,
but he’s thinking about it.
Not even thinking about it, really,
but categorizing his experiences,
removing the guilt from his hands
his body from the act
his mind from his family
but mostly, from memory.

It’s just a database –
clinical rows and columns –
organized, precise,
but the boxes fill with names,
body parts,
and each of the rows is numbered.

He adds to it obsessively –
purging and enshrining his memories,
catching himself and his past and his acts
in double and triple binds.

Maybe he told them all he loved them.
Maybe number 49 loved him back.
She wondered on nights alone
what she and her son would fix him
for breakfast when he could finally stay over,
what they would buy him
for the first birthday that passed.
She didn’t know she was just
an aggregate of columns and trivia,
defined by size, interest, and preference.
He never could remember her son’s name,
and he never even gave him a number.

He couldn’t remember our names, either,
but we did retain our birth order.
We conformed perfectly
to the expectations of
eldest, middle, and youngest child
of broken homes.
We excelled to excess,
but we could never make his list.

It is not tempting
to wonder how hard it was for him
not to think of us as women with bodies.
I try not to embrace the irony
of complaining now that he can’t see me
as a woman –
as the woman I am in the world.

It is hard enough for him
to imagine a connection to me
as his daughter
as though he still has time
when the counting’s done
to lay his cards on the table.

Daddy doesn’t take drugs,
but he’s an addict.

His pancakes taste good,
but they always fall flat.

We keep dealing him in,
but all he plays is solitaire.

His daughters are always hungry,
waiting for him to feed them.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Christmas Questions

A Sermon Preached to the
First Unitarian Church
of Albuquerque, New Mexico
by Christine Robinson
December 19, 2004

(condensed by yours truly for

Some people look for answers in stories, symbols and cultural practices, but I have always gotten more out of looking for questions. Why do we do this, and what need does it fill, and what is the story saying to our souls? These are questions that one could ask about many stories and seasons, but none better than Christmas. In the Christmas story and our Christmas customs are two of the most important questions there are: "Where is God," and "Where is Good?"

The myth of the incarnation suggests to us that the world is sacred and that every human being, even the most difficult, is also sacred. To take this wisdom seriously is to realize that every person has a divine spark; it says to us that every human being claims an ultimate dignity; even the poor, the sick, the incompetent, the hard to understand. And the incarnation challenges us to see that that dignity is honored in all of the institutions of our world; to work for justice, to love, to help. It challenges us to find the best, the divine, in all of our neighbors, not just the easy ones. This is Humanistic theology. It, too, is an answer to the Christmas Question.

It also suggests to us that divinity partakes in some of the things we value most in ourselves as humans; the ability to grow, learn, change. This is, once again, contrary to the official theology of God, which says that God is perfection itself; the unmoved mover, the almighty, omnipotent, everlasting, unchanging paragon of every virtue. While there is something at least philosophically compelling about such a perfect God, it leaves us emotionally empty, and is not really kin to our experience of what is good or interesting in life.

If our God is what we most value and care for in our lives, the sum of the highest and greatest and most beautiful things we can imagine, then we are almost required to believe in the Process god, for what I love in life is its changes, what I value in others is their responsiveness (which is to say, their willingness to be moved) and what I most hope for in myself is growth and the enlargement of my spirit. If God is to be the best that I know and the sum of the things I value, my god must be a growing god, one whose essence validates in me what I most value in myself and others. God, the child, is a perfect symbol of such a divinity.

The second of the Christmas Questions is, "Where is Good?", and it arises, not so much from the Nativity story as from the accretion of cultural customs which practically overwhelm us at this time of year. And with good reason. The celebration of the Winter solstice is the oldest of celebrations. It is our way of remembering that we belong to the Earth and its cycles. We are nature. The darkness enfolds us as surely as it enfolds the animals in their dens and the crops in the fallow fields. We humans use our ingenuity to light lamps and fires, to put holiday lights on our trees and around our doors, and in an important sense, these are ways, both symbolic and real, of fighting off the darkness.

Where is God? asks the Nativity story. God is here, the story answers, affirming, then, three things we often believe; that the sacred is here in the world with us; that there is a divinity in the human being, that God is a process, a pushing of growth, rather than an abstract perfection existing somewhere outside of this imperfect world. "Where is Good in the darkness?" asks the culture of Christmas. "Good is here", the culture answers; in ourselves, our neighbors, our children, our hearts. It's in the gifts, and the lights, and the cookies. It's in the sharing, the laughter, and the hope for peace.

Thus it is that the spirit of the season is one we seek to capture and hold through the year, for it is a sense that the sacred is here with us, that the glow of divinity is around us; in us, between us. So, Merry Christmas...and may the spirit of the season bring you joy.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Rumsfeld Admits Not Signing Condolence Letters to Families

Meanwhile complaints about Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld increased over the weekend after the military publication Stars and Stripes revealed that the Pentagon has been using a machine to sign a copy of Rumsfeld's signature onto condolence letters mailed to families of soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. One mother in Brooklyn whose son was killed last year said "It makes me feel awful and sad. So many families out there have lost their kids, and he couldn't sign to show how much he cares?" Nearly 1,500 U.S soldiers have now died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The White House continues to defend Rumsfeld. On Sunday Andrew Card said Rumsfeld has been doing a "spectacular job." --

Don't you get it, lady? He is showing how much he cares! He's showing EXACTLY how much he cares. Be glad it's not being delivered C.O.D. Be glad they're bothering to check his dog tags and find your address. Be relieved they're sending him home at all. Remember to send that check to the Republican Party that this hell can continue for four more years!

A Holiday Wish

Today I sent this letter to our esteemed First Man (

President Bush,

You and I disagree on a great many things. I think we both can agree, however, during this holiday season -- such an important holiday of peace and goodwill toward men -- how much it would mean for Americans and for the Iraqi people to carve out one day of peace in Iraq. By this I mean: one day in Iraq without citizens seeing soldiers or hearing bombs or gunshots or helicopters. One day in Iraq without visual reminders of the presence of US soldiers. Just one day, Mr. President, when they won't have to fear for their lives when they leave their homes to buy food. Just one day when the love of their families and neighbors is more real to them, more present, than their fear and hatred of everything the U.S. has come to mean in terms of the threats and dangers of their everyday lives. One day for the children growing up hungry and scared to be able to laugh as loud as they want and not be ashamed at their joy when so many around them are suffering.

All I ask this holiday season is just one day without fear for those we seek to "free" and a whole week of remembering for those of us here in America that our privilege and our distance and our ability to forget their suffering is bought at a much higher price than our global position and personal credit can sustain.

Today, I ask you as a President and as a man and as a lover of what is good in men: Mr. Bush, please instruct your Pentagon to give the Iraqis one day of peace. Ask them to do whatever we have to do in order not to shoot anyone or bomb anyone or scare anyone for one full day. It doesn't seem too much to ask. It's probably inhuman of me to ask for so little but unconscionable not to ask at all. May I be forgiven and my intentions understood.

I ask this in the spirit of healing and renewal that we call by many names.


Mikaela Renz
Albuquerque, NM, USA

Monday, December 13, 2004

Waiting to print

So it's 3:25 am.

Two days before the big community presentation.

Here ensconsed at the office, blinds shut, stealing company resources.

Tired. Very very tired. But strangely happy, too, because the semester's almost over, I'm drinking a coke, and listening to the Shins. Did you know there are no barking sparrows? It was news to me.

In honor of my 49th wind, a poem:

He loves to move
and he’s begun to move me
inching me toward
something I didn’t know I still had

His toes are straight
but mine curl
and I’m unsure whether
his admittedly dexterous hands
can stretch
toe flesh
grow bone
where feet
strike the earth
and propel us forward
toward or away
from home.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Poem as a Sister


We’re using the internet now
to solve family problems –
the sisters fighting
in fiber-optic waves.

One step removed from the passion
that causes us to hurt
our words are chosen
clinical in their therapeutic jargon
that belies the seriousness
of the cancer
our chronic defensiveness
lodges in our bodies.

At best
we love carefully
with fingertips and toepads
pressed to baby-bird shells
in mine-fields of good-intention tulips.

We are mindsets and memories.
Our relationships stagger into the present
from the drunken, repetitive
beatings of our pasts
woven together with verbal fisticuffs
and a hollow disregard for the reality
of a sister’s lived nightmare
that never resembled our own.

Our bodies, separate and unequal,
absorbed the family horrors
in three separate ways:
blocked, volleyed, relayed.

We circle each other and spar
now on the attack
now crouching
now unreachable.

We hunger. We are carnivores.
We eat each other
our bellies never full.
All the while
we hold fast
our true-to-life faith
that we can know ourselves
without each other
know our past
without pain
confront our demons
without shedding the ones dressed
in hand-me-down sibling clothes.

We hunger. We fight.
We splinter into shadows of ourselves
and each other
until each shade of gray
becomes layered as clouds –
filled with unshed rain.

Receivers jammed
we listen in the silence
of an unheard future
to the typos
slipping meaning
into unknown code.

Connection lost
our words transmit one long run-on sentence
into cyberspace.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Long time, no blog

What's amazing to me in this rosy day and age is that you can be totally and completely overwhelmed with all you have to do from minute to minute and yet feel unaccomplished.

Where does this come from?

I mean, I am the first to admit that I have some ... ummm ... issues with perfectionism. And I have lofty goals and high expectations of myself. But even given this caveat, I think it's really hard to make all of these minutes we spend busy busy busy really add up to anything substantial or meaningful or lasting. Maybe that's just me.

My mother, the white witch (not kidding), explained to me that the feeling we all have that time seems to pass faster and faster as we get older is really linked to a universal phenomenon. The earth is spinning faster (or something), and we're losing something like an hour a year. I'm sure the Mayans compensated for this in their mathematical calendar, but as a modern person, I feel woefully inadequate in my ability to fold this loss neatly into my yearly activities. I just lose time.

And so days go by, and I don't have time to blog, or journal, or exercise, or make dinner, or get a new dog -- not to mention train a new dog even if I squeeze in getting a new dog -- or shop for birthdays or the holidays. Every minute seems accounted for.

Thankfully, the transition from place to place, deadline to deadline, is made much sweeter by the new automobile and the assured sense that I'm not wasting as much gasoline or oil as I was driving the truck. Merry sigh.

Other than that, though, I have to say that life at the moment ... blows.

I need new music. And a haircut. But really, who has the time?

A New Friend? Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Junk in my trunk? You bet! Posted by Hello

That's right folks, a neeeeeeeeew caaaar! (Can't you just hear Rod Roddy saying that?) Posted by Hello

Thursday, November 11, 2004

I have had the best day. It started this morning with breakfast. I met with my mentor and friend, now 64 years old, who just started a website with his poems, essays, columns, and a link to his wife's artwork.

I got to work and plugged into the blogosphere, where my friends were waiting to share new insights and express more outrage.

I found a link to last week's Universalist Unitarian sermon entitled "Anyway" about what to do with the results of the election as a progressive person of faith. The message: acknowledge the basic goodness of every human being and work toward justice anyway.

I had a hilarious pun e-mail exchange with my friend Chester about the latest Kerry joke -- "Hey John, why the long face?"

This afternoon brought a new link to a site called "" -- where people have taken pictures of themselves with a message to the rest of the world apologizing for the outcome of the latest American election charade. And they're funny and beautiful and haunting and so utterly human and connected that, really, how can you not be cheered?

It works. This whole community-building thing is a good idea. Thank god. I was starting to wonder.

Dear America, please get well soon. Love, Canada P.S. If you're feeling sad, come visit. (Posted on Posted by Hello

2 Nations Under Bush's God. Sorry Everyone! -- New England (Posted on Posted by Hello

"I would apologize, but I live in Nebraska so my vote against Bush was defeated before I cast it. I did, however, almost get fired for arguing about the election at work, so there is that. Sorry!" -- Posted by Hello

Posted on Posted by Hello

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

How many books does it take to cover sociology, community building, and place?


Ummm ... all of them?

I am disturbed. I just received a simple e-mail requesting a good book to recommend to a friend about community building and sociology, two subjects I've spent a considerable amount of time studying. A simple request, right? Yet I find myself utterly stumped! I open it up to the floor.

My response to the request:
Shit, man. Talk about braindead! I'm like a deer in the headlights. The pressure, the pressure!!!

I need more to go on. What's he interested in?

Sounds like he's reading for fun. I'm trying to think of fun reads. I'm thinking William H. Whyte and/or Jane Jacobs.

My personal favorite is an essay written in 1908 or something by Georg Simmel. I think I may have an electronic version. This essay has been credited as the start of urban sociology. I'm amazed at how relevant it still is.

Umm... I just got a book from Amazon called Shaping the City. It's a neat look at global cities with a crosscut of disciplines and topics.

The Great Good Place? I just got that one, but after the Introduction, the rest of the book is a let-down so far. I hope I'm wrong. I still have a ways to go.

I mean, if he really wants to dig in and read the classics, have him go for Henri Lefebvre's Production of Space or Michel de Certeau's Practice of Everyday Life.

Umm, more topical things? Mike Davis: City of Quartz (re: the fear that shapes modern-day Los Angeles). Arnold Hirsch: Making of the Second Ghetto (re: racism in Chicago as determinant of growth and city form)

Again, I'd have to know where he's coming from to get him where he wants to go. (Once a planner, always a planner!!!)

The more I think about this, the more I want to know what the one book answer is. We need to write one. How about it? It's the community building part that I'm struggling with, here. There are books about community building and books about sociology and books about places, but there really aren't too many that are about all three at once, which leaves me dissatisfied with any one in particular.


Monday, November 08, 2004

A More Optimistic Thought for the Morning

Martin Luther King, Jr. made the following quote from a fellow Reverend popular. Even if it is not literally true, I choose to believe it and to work to make it reality:

"The arc of history is long, and it bends toward justice."

Shantih Shantih Shantih.
(I pray for the peace that passeth understanding)

(What is good in me greets the good in you.)

Poem for the End

Czeslaw Milosz:

On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A Fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it always should be.

On the day the world ends
Women walk through fields under their umbrellas
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlars shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.

And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels' trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.

Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet,
Yet is not a prophet, for he's much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
There will be no other end of the world,
There will be no other end of the world.

Sunday, November 07, 2004


It is amazing how glacial shifts happen in a matter of days if you're brave enough to be open and honest and vulnerable.

I invited my entire family over for breakfast, knowing there were icy undercurrents of feelings and misunderstandings and on and on. After a yelling match and hasty exits and awkward re-entrances, we all emerged on the other side knowing a lot more about where we're all coming from, and I, for one, have much more sympathy and space in myself for the hard places in which my siblings find themselves.

And all it takes is drama, bravery, and openness to catharsis. No problem, right?

What with the recent election, family events, and major friend-related controversies, it feels everything is up for grabs. A scary moment, to be sure, but one filled with more potential for movement and change than I've felt in a long, long time.

I was reading an old journal this weekend and found a line that I don't remember writing but rather enjoy:

I go forward asking nothing more than everything I ever wanted, instead of the nothing I've settle for so far.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Sister Sadness

I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.

Actually, less than a pen. She gave me an explanation for why I'm not invited to her step-daughter's birthday party.

She did NOT give me an explanation for why she won't acknowledge that she's hurting me by ignoring my feelings.

Sigh. I guess tomorrow's another day.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Helpful Religious Tip for Bush Supporters

I think I may get arrested for wearing this tee, but it's worth it. I didn't do a bumper sticker because I don't want my car to get messed with.

Thanks to Maggie for the info about Cafe Press, where you can create your own merchandise!

Check out my new store:

Thursday, October 28, 2004

GOP=God.Oil.Police. (Not Necessarily in That Order)

More from Punk Planet ( Posted by Hello


A good question, brought to us by Punk Planet () Posted by Hello

Voting as Community-Building

So yesterday, I exercised my rights as a citizen of a (gasp!) barely-surviving democracy (can't you see my rights' bulging muscles??).

Here in Albuquerque, there are something like 10 early-voting locations around the city. I went to the one I thought would be the least-used. I was expecting to dash in to a hole-in-the-wall, strip-mall ex-store, cast my vote in relative isolation, and feel vaguely and smugly superior.

Instead, although the location itself conformed to my low expectations, I was met with the sight of a line of about 75 citizens, waiting patiently and downright cheerfully for their chance to vote. The line -- at least two people wide -- stretched past at least 6 storefronts. An hour after arriving, when I finally made it inside, the poll worker said they'd had at least 400 voters a day since the first day of early voting -- October 6 -- and each day the line got longer. The day before, they'd had 635 voters. I don't want to do the math, and without comparisons from years before, there's no real reason to. I bring it up mostly to share just how buoyed my spirits were to see all these people, who clearly care deeply about the fate of their country, believe enough in the system to participate and cast a vote.

The atmosphere was festive. People were careful to treat each other respectfully and a bit delicately, as you weren't sure if the person you were talking to was voting "your way" or not. Even so, people did not hesitate to share their positions on specific issues, when an opportunity came up. Mostly, people talked about the activity of voting -- the prohibition on partisan pins or campaign material, the presence of poll monitors, etc. At some point, sarcastically, I mentioned to a friend standing in line with me that all we need to do to solve America's problems is to militarize this country. The woman standing behind us didn't bat an eye before telling me, in no uncertain terms, "Ma'am, I was in the military for 30 years, and I can tell you the LAST thing we need to do is to militarize this country. We don't want to end up like Russia." We all had a good laugh once I explained that I was mocking the Bush mentality, not advocating for expanding the military-industrial complex.

But people smiled. People talked. People said excuse me and please and thank you. There was a palpable sense of shared stakes -- in democracy, if not in a particular outcome of this particular democracy. And I suddenly gained the perspective that even if the worst of the worst happens and Bush prevails, our democracy will not be lost. Bush may try, and empire may do its best to undermine the power of the people, but there is still a vocal populace who believe in their right to determine the best government.

Like Maggie, I am an eternal optimist, and I may look too hard for the scraps of sunshine that signal a change in the weather, but as long as the people believe in the PROCESS of democracy itself and are willing to fight for their rights, the days of leaders like Bush & Co. are numbered. I have to believe that.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Today my heart is heavy. Technology can't solve what the human heart can't provide for itself. A sister can't e-mail if the feelings hurt too much for words.

I am humbled by my own limitations at building relationship within my own family. I am studying for a masters degree in Community Building, and I can't pick up the phone and call my own sister. I have to e-mail her an apology for a most-likely unforgivable hurt.

Today I am haunted by a phrase from a birthday card hint by my friend Maggie (see for her profile) referring to the amazing movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: "We learn from what we'd like to forget." How true is that?

So today I explore the infinite abyss, in silence and in prayer.

Monday, October 25, 2004


So note the time stamp. Here I sit, waiting for my PDF versions of Illustrator Board with AutoCAD & TIF files to plot.

Writing the latest Elliot Smith to CD while listening on I-tunes.

Does anyone notice how out-of-hand all of this is?

All this technology, and it still takes 15 minutes to print! A whole 15 minutes! Ridiculous.

This weekend, Jeff & I watched a whole lot of tennis. Keegan & Aaron were in a tournament along with their Jefferson Jets teammates. Quite the social event for pre-adolescents. I was impressed by the general sportmanlike conduct of little men & women alike. We overheard several supportive comments, even to opponents. Makes me feel better about the state of the world.

Doesn't hurt that the Sox won game 1 of the series, either. Watched the game at Maggie & Joe's with a bunch of friends of friends. The chile was excellent, and the comraderie was unmatched. It was effortless to be there as a couple with Jeff, even bringing the boys along. Poor Aaron was outnumbered as one of only two Cardinals supporters. He handled it with grace & humor, as only he can do.

So, except for plotting with a race against the impending dawn, life is good. Real, real good.

Go fucking figure.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Jeff & Mikaela in Gila

Jeff & Mikaela on Their First Vacation to the Gila Wilderness with Marjorie and Justin, Summer 2004 Posted by Hello

My Boys & Brenna & Tipper Posted by Hello

Babysitting Brenna Posted by Hello

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

My shutterbug roomate provided this last view of the girl and her dog, reading together on Forrester Street. Thanks, Marjorie! Posted by Hello