Thank You for Common Language

•May 25, 2014 • 3 Comments

I met a refuge from the Ukraine once in San Francisco. His name was Mehrab. He learned to speak perfect English by singing Billy Joel songs for years while he was a brain surgeon back in his homeland.

Here, in the land of opportunity, he worked as a security guard for a department store.

Mehrab was a lovely, polite person with impeccable manners. I met him on the bus on his way to work.

We chatted the whole ride and decided to have coffee the next day. After coffee we wandered to the Presidio where he sang some of his perfect impersonations of Billy Joel and chatted about being a refuge.

Merhab said he had a friend with 2 children that was desperately in need of work. The man (also from the Ukraine) was a cabinet maker who did not speak English but his 8 year old daughter was a great translator.

I met the man and his precious daughter, Marianna, a week later after asking my landlord to give him a job in the building where I lived with my struggling, brilliant designer boyfriend.

Marianna spoke for her father and translated every question we asked with enthusiasm.  “Oh yes!! We do any work job!”

Finally after about twenty minutes, the Father seemed uncomfortable with Marianna doing all the talking and spoke in broken English to the child, “Marianna, you …sit… little.”

She sat down and listened carefully as her father continued in Ukrainian with instructions. Then Marianna turned to us with a giant smile and said. “Show job. Show tools. Will be done “.

The man did amazing work while Marianna sat with her hands in her lap like a word angel waiting for someone to ask a question in English so she could be of assistance.

I never saw Mehrab again but the cabinet maker’s family invited me to dinner in appreciation for the job referral.

A friend, Margaret, came with me.

It was a wonderful dinner in a tiny, immaculate apartment where we were greeted by Marianna and her 5 year old sister with a cookbook that had recipes in English and Russian.

While the cabinet maker’s wife finished making dinner (including pie), Margaret and I sat with the girls, giggling at funny words in the cook book.

After the splendid dinner and much nodding and smiling in the only mutual language we all under stood (appreciation), my friend, Margaret attempted to say thank you in their language.

The cabinet maker’s wife was placing the pie on the table with little plates and forks when Margaret attempted the foreign language.

Margaret was as sincere as she could be and wondered why everyone looked so confused at her genuine attempt at “Thank You”.

After a minute of befuddled looks, Marianna burst out laughing.

“Why you say good bye? You not eat  pie yet!”

By the way, if someone serves you dessert in another language, you may want to say one of these phrases instead of Good bye

Terima kasih
Gratiam habeo
Toa chie
Thuchi che
Khawp khun kha
Go raibh maith agaibh

Thank you for noticing…

•April 26, 2014 • 5 Comments


History DOES repeat itself. And it gets LOUDER each time.

Complacency is a common place and harm can find it’s way to that place while we think we are only watching it on television.

If we keep believing we are separated by borders, colors, races, religions, and economics, we will be conquered one at a time until the last “isolated incident” occurs and the last shred of denial is sown into the fabric of our history to be repeated over and over again in some other common place…


I know, I know, you have to go to work. You have bills to pay. You have obligations to meet. You are very busy participating in being a working class hero.

Besides, “IT” can’t happen to you. You are protected by laws that never change, rights that cannot be diminished, leaders you can trust, and of course, a God who is absolutely the only thing on this planet that is responsible for it all. Turn on the T.V. and have a drink.

Everything will be alright.

Gotta go. I’m late for church.


Thank you for Freedumb

•April 26, 2014 • 2 Comments

 The credit for this made up word goes to Mr. E. Riley who was a most clever wordsmith and delightfully creative poet for his life of almost twenty one years.

I have been pondering the word freedom for almost four days, seeking the common usage, the appropriate referent, the true definition by finding it’s antitheses, and trying to use it in a sentence that captures the essence of it’s meaning.   The imagery that the word freedom conjures for me does not come in red, white, and blue. Freedom does not look like the wings of a bird that is compelled by nature to fly. Nor does it seem to be a choice in the fork of the proverbial road.  Freedom is not a liberation from a prison, an exile, foot binding, hand cuffs, poverty, oppression, or a dictator.

 One does not become free by merely being liberated.

There are those that would say Knowledge is freedom. There are those that say Democracy is freedom. Some find “freedom” in the “right” to worship invisible entities or promulgate religious concepts. I don’t think freedom is always right, nor is it a right.

I do believe it may be an innate power that is difficult to comprehend without attempting to guide or direct it. And once that attempt is applied, freedom dissipates. I believe a freedom can be usurped by another freedom when it is limited or misinterpreted.

I think maybe freedom is the cry that babies make fresh out of the womb. I think maybe freedom is the soft, dark cloak of death opening to release us to the unknown, or a complete lack of fear when facing one’s self in others. Maybe freedom is unknowable until it is gone and peered at in retrospect.

For all the uses of the word freedom, for all the misuses of the word freedom, and all the justifications applied to the word freedom in our culture, I thank Mr. E. Riley in his attempt to define our limited perspective on the subject.


Thank You for Fear

•April 25, 2014 • 1 Comment

Fear can scream at you, it can paralyze you, it can take possession of you, or it can whisper to you with an intuitive little nudge that is designed to make you walk away from a situation at an expedient pace.

This was useful to humans when we could allegedly be devoured by dinosaurs.

I have been in a few precarious situations in my life wherein fear has kept me from harm. I have been in some situations where I did not adhere to the intuitive nudges of fear and found myself having to repair damage to my psyche. I have also been in situations where fear had no business in keeping me safe, it just lingered around like a nuisance, telling me to run when there was nothing to run from—fear gone bad, out of context, stuck on replay from some other time when I was supposed to run from dinosaurs and did not listen.

Sometimes this “out of context” fear sneaks up on me in layers, like an onion with an invisible core. It requests that I examine the source of it’s appearance and unfolding. It whispers “Remember when this happened?” or “Don’t trust that because…”. This “stuck on replay” fear says “You will fail.” or “This person will hurt you if you love them.”

This kind of fear can keep me looking backwards at dead dinosaurs and prevent me from exploring a safe jungle of orchids and bird songs.

Fear in itself is not a bad thing—like I said, it has it’s place and it can keep us alive.

I am thankful for that aspect of fear.

But fear that is self generated from associations, distorted memories, or lack of information can harm us more than that from which fear was designed to protect us.

Fear that is generated by authorities or others who wish to control us on some level is the worst kind of fear. This can destroy whole cultures with invisible dinosaurs.

It is insidious and we must walk away from IT at an expedient pace.

Thank you for the ability to recognize fear.

Thank you for Metamorphosis, Mutation, and Transformation

•April 22, 2014 • 3 Comments

Sometimes change is just an illusion, not quite integrated, a visual veneer that doesn’t make it into the real fabric.
It’s kind of like a mean, unhappy person with an expensive face lift. The face lift is not a true transformation, but the surface change may contribute to a metamorphosis of the person by creating different responses from others around that person.

“When you smile the whole world smiles with you.”

This can induce a gradual change into a happy-almost adjusted-only-needed-a-little-validation-and-acceptance-person. It can also just confuse the hell out of everybody.
For a genuine transformation, there has to be more going on than verbal proclamations or painting over a dilapidated building.
Real metamorphosis must go all the way in, penetrate the chrysalis, mutate the conceptual genes of the transformee.
Authentic change is not like a corporation that can out source it’s labor pool, exploit the environment, and still appear economically stable and friendly in it’s home town. It’s not a nation that can legislate behavior to force it’s populace to be “nice” to each other, without being “nice” to it’s populace.
Real transformation has to penetrate the complete picture, the whole person, all the parts of the entity.
Sometimes we think we have changed or that someone we love has changed or that times have changed.

Have we? Have they?
Is life Mutable? I think it might be.
I want to mutate into the best human I can be to contribute to a transformation in the whole of which I am a miniscule part. It is the only way I know to instigate a metamorphosis—start with one gene at a time.

This is not so easy, but I am attempting to adapt without resistance.


Thank You for The Ship of Fools

•April 1, 2014 • 1 Comment

So much has been written and artistically depicted in regard to the allegory attributed to The Ship of Fools; A boat of crazy people without a pilot, without direction or guidance, oblivious to their own journey.

These days it seems we may all have been aboard this allegorical ship, economically and ecologically pirated without being piloted.

Perhaps there is a new mooring in our future.

Perhaps it is time for the fools to take back the helm from the pirates who have sprung a leak in our boat?

Today is the day of fools. We are all in this boat together. Let’s think about it, yes?

A German Woodcut from Narrenschiff 1549:


Thank You for the Ta-Da Nick of Time

•March 28, 2014 • 3 Comments

Remember Rocky the squirrel and Bullwinkle the moose?

Remember how Bullwinkle would get into a crazy situation and Rocky would zoom in and save the day in the ta-da nick of time?

I am Bullwinkle and life is Rocky.

Read that last sentence twice.

Life can be rocky but it seems that no matter how precarious things may look, or how far I get stretched to physical and metaphoric limits, something amazing happens in the ta-da nick of time to bring my life back into balance.

It seems magical sometimes. It seems like I may be the luckiest person on Earth sometimes.

It seems like the Universe just pulls a rabbit out of the hat sometimes.

Maybe all of us are this lucky and some of us just don’t recognize the synchronistic elements that guide us.

On occasion I forget to notice these moments, and take for granted this wonderful life of cyclic ups and downs.

But this morning I am so thankful for the many Rocky moments that make this journey fascinating and mystifying. I have too many examples to list.

Thank you for the TA DA! Nick of time.


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