Posted in Emotions, Judiasm, words

The Border Patrol Agent and the Criminal Defense Attorney

It’s Passover. Jews view this as deliverance from slavery. Christians tend to view Passover as a time when the Jews smeared lamb’s blood on the doorposts of their homes so the Angel of Death, who came to kill the first born of each family, would pass over the homes of the Jews. Yes, there was an Angel of Death and the first born of the Egyptians was killed. There’s more to Passover than that.

I prefer the Jewish view. Deliverance. The little guy wins. We were slaves in Egypt. Now, we are living mostly freely, but not always, in just about every country on the planet. What enslaves us now? Bigotry, along with a lot of other things but I’m going to be typing about bigotry. What’s that you say? Some of your best friends are: white, black, Muslim, Christian, whoever else is not just like you. That’s nice but bigotry is more insidious, more hidden. Bigotry creeps around inside of us and presents itself in ways that are acceptable to ourselves.

Twice, I’ve been forced to look beyond the surface where my prejudices lie and see the human.

The first time was in court when I represented a soldier and argued my guts out to keep the judge from imposing more than the minimum mandatory jail sentence. Back at my office, I realized what I had done. While I wanted to tell my client to get a real job and stop sucking up my tax money, I saw the young man under the uniform. I saw him as a person. I saw the pain I’m pretty sure he carried inside of him. I still think blowing up Iraq and Afghanistan are two of the stupidest, waste of money things the US has done. Now, I see beyond the uniform. I see broken women and men who come back from combat with horrible memories, feelings that didn’t get felt while trying to survive, nightmares, and inability to function. I see them feeling ashamed when they have nothing of which to be ashamed. I see that shame keeping them from getting the help they desperately need.

The second time was last night when I attended a seder held by my temple. I was seated next to a border patrol agent. I think the border patrol checkpoints are useless, a waste of money, and that the agents engage in racial profiling. All those things are true. But the man sitting next to me was an ordinary guy. I’m rethinking my penchant for referring to border patrol agents as Nazi bastards. This one is tough. I’ve never hated anything as much as I hate border patrol agents. But the man sitting next to me was an ordinary guy. I refuse to make eye contact when I’m in a checkpoint. I raise a finger as I drive off. But the man sitting next to me was an ordinary guy. I’ve never been pulled over in a checkpoint because I’m Caucasian and clearly of Western European heritage.  Half the time, I’m not even asked my citizenship. Chicanos have told me about how they are routinely pulled over in checkpoints. Twice, I’ve gotten snarly border patrol agents to instantly back down by identifying myself as an attorney.

But the man sitting next to me was an ordinary guy.

I’m linking with Nina Marie. Check out what other artists have been doing here.

Posted in Emotions, Photography, words

Once upon a mood so terrifying…..

I’m back to what passes for normal. I think. I’m calm. I can function and this functioning calm feels stable. That could change in an instant. I had a manic event that lasted for three weeks and became unbearable earlier this week. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t calm down. I couldn’t function. But I sure wrote a couple doozy stories for my writing class! This one is for an assignment where we had to write a story based on one of the fairy tales we read. I chose to write about Hans Christian Anderson’s The Toad.

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The Very Pissed Off Toad

Once upon a time, there was a woman named Yael who didn’t like closets. Or boxes. Or girdles. Or cleaning the bathroom. Or being told she was inferior.

“Either there’s no difference between men and women – except for plumbing – or I need a sex change operation” said Yael often.

Oh, my. The people of the church were appalled. And terrified.

“What if the girls thought like that?” cried the fragile men.

“Who will make my supper and wash my socks?” cried the lazy men.

“Isn’t it time we had another baby?” cried the misogynous men.

Yael had a husband, but no children.

“You should have a baby!” screamed the terrified women who like to call

themselves girls even past menopause.

“You should have a baby!” screamed the terrified men.

Instead, Yael went to college. She started a week after her 25th birthday and

a week after she got the braces removed from her now straight teeth. Yael studied hard.

“We hired a woman once. She didn’t work out so we don’t hire

women now,” said the asshole in Human Regulations.

Yael fought hard. She didn’t lose, but she didn’t exactly win.

“I didn’t mean anything by that! You’re overly sensitive,” said the

jerk employer who thought he could grab Yael whenever he wanted.

“I don’t know what your problem is,” said the jerk at the New York

State Human Rights Division when Yael tried to file a complaint after being fired by the jerk employer.

Yael still fought hard. She didn’t exactly win, but she didn’t lose,

either.

Yael went to law school. And to court. And to trial. And to the

Supreme Court where the chief judge said, “This is an historic morning! All the attorneys are women and two of the judges are women.”

Say that shit in New York and you’re permanently off the bench before

lunch, thought Yael while she tried to smile without sneering.

Yael continued to fight hard. She didn’t exactly win, but she didn’t

Lose, either.

One day, a peacock jerk came up to Yael and demanded she pay

attention to him. Yael told him to leave her alone. “Hey, you were coming on to me, bitch!”

Yael looked into the peacock jerk’s eyes to hold his attention. She

smiled. She reached into her left pocket, removed the stun gun, pressed it to the peacock jerk’s groin, and pressed the trigger. She did this until the screaming stopped.

Yael won.

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I like to think that bipolar disorder doesn’t define me, but I’m trying to believe the impossible. I can’t cope without proper medication. Even on the best meds I’ve ever had, I still had a three-week episode that effected every part of my life. On the worst day,  I got an email from the College of Arts & Sciences – part of New Mexico State University – asking for art submissions for a symposium on mental health and justice. I’ve been to these things and never once has there been a speaker who is actually mentally ill. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of work to do before we remove the stigma attached to mental illness. If there’s never one who is mentally ill speaking, that says people are convinced that the 26% of the US population with a diagnosed mental illness are too stupid, too crazy, too irrational to be allowed to speak. Remember when women were considered too irrational, too emotional and not smart enough to speak in public? In case you missed it the first time around, now that the US has a Sex Offender in Chief, you can catch it now.

At the very depths of this manic event, I had to stop what I was doing and make art to submit for the symposium. I’ve no illusions about my work being chosen. I needed to say what I had to say.

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I subscribe to the Digital Photography School newsletter. This week, there was an article about photographing cats. Cats refuse to pose, insist on squirming and leaving as soon as they see a camera. Using the suggestions I read about, I got a fairly decent photo of Tinker.

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I had to play a bit with it.

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I’m linking with Nina Marie. You can see her blog and links to other terrific artists  here.

Posted in words

The Power of One

One.

I am a multi-media artist – both visual and written media. Today’s post doesn’t have photos. It’s not about fabric or beads or ceramics. It’s about words. It’s about life. It’s about One.

The Talmud tells us: Whoever saves a life, it is as if he saved the entire world. Whoever takes a life, it is as if he took the entire world.

One.

I am sad today. I am angry. I am frustrated. I am reminded of so many things. I am not going to be quiet.

One.

Yesterday, I listened to Michael Moore as he spoke at a rally in New York City. He said that if American Muslims are required to be registered, Michael Moore will sign his name on that registry. So will I. I will sign my name in English and in Hebrew. I will sign my name so that no one will think I agree to allow a narcissistic bully to turn my country into Nazi Germany. When I’m frustrated, I will remind myself of those who saved a life during a hideously dark time when saving a life meant risking one’s own life. They saved a life by not asking too many questions about the person sleeping in the barn. By not asking too many questions about the person gathering the crops. By sharing a bit of food. By offering a lie to give a Jew time to hide. All small acts. All having profound results.

One.

I am bipolar. I will not be quiet. I will lead this parade of One when I’m encouraged and when I’m frustrated. I will not allow anyone to think that I will stand quiet while people with mental illnesses are castigated, hounded, shunned, discriminated against, or shoved into a closet. When I’m frustrated, I’ll remind myself of the look in a client’s eyes when I told him I’m bipolar and still achieved my goals and dreams. I’ll remind myself of the look in a client’s eyes when I told her that looking at the ugly memory, acknowledging it was an ugly event helped ease my PTSD. I will remind myself of the friend who told me that because I spoke out, she now had the courage to seek help.  I will remind myself that if I want mental illness viewed without any stigma, without any shame, that attitude has to start with me.

One.

I will not buy any product that puts money in Donald Trump’s pocket. Maybe that means not buying one bracelet. Just one. We are all one. Just one. We each make a difference. The tiniest difference, made thousands of times, is powerful.

One.

Yesterday, I wrote a story for my writing class. For me, this story was risky. I am trusting that my reader will see what my reader needs to see in this story. It’s a story about my great-great-grandparents, along with my 10-month-old great-grandmother boarded a ship, spent 8 days in the belly of the ship, paid roughly 3 months’ wages for their passage, to escape to religious freedom. It’s about how two words allowed me to see that my grandmother’s horrible German was really Yiddish and we were really Jewish. It’s about my doing things my great-great-grandparents hardly dared to dream were possible. Thirteen people will read that story. Perhaps each will see something different in the story. When I wrote about the study quilt for a Tree of Life quilt, I asked readers what they saw in the study quilt. I got all sorts of answers. Each was different from what I wanted to say. I was frustrated until I realized that each interpretation was valid. Each was meaningful to the viewer. Writing my assigned story taught me that it doesn’t matter what insight the viewer/reader has. Each insight is valid. Each insight has value. Perhaps the entire purpose of art, both verbal and visual, is for each person to glean something of value to herself.

One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One.

One. The most powerful number of all.

I’m linking with Nina Marie. Click here to see what some great artists have been making this week.