reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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one does not have to look like a snowman. [flawed wednesday]

“so, what do you really do?”

were that question to be paid by frequency, i wouldn’t have to answer it ever again. i’d be a rich chick with a h-o-b-b-y of music. or a h-o-b-b-y of writing. but alas, it is not frequency-paid and so i have to just lightheartedly laugh and, with a touch of demure-yet-playful, explain that this artist thing IS what i do. here i am, a pile of snow with stick-arms, a soul of magical-frosty can-do attitude and someone wants to know what i really do? i may not look like a snowman, but i am a snowman.

“don’t judge a book by its cover,” my sweet momma would admonish anyone who would listen. one day, at 93, she texted out, “don’t underestimate me. i know more than i say, think more than i speak, notice more than you realize.” and she meant it. her spirit – to the end – was strong and she was a five foot powerhouse. whether she looked like a snowman or not, she was a snowman.

we live in a culture that is beleaguered with judgement based on appearances. it’s in no one’s best interest. but it is pervasive and the injustice that stems from quick assumptions is rampant. we have pre-formed opinions for most everything; we have images in our mind’s eye before we do any research, ask any questions, have any conversation. we assume. we presume. we surmise. all before we actually take a second look at the snowman.

it is ‘interesting’ (please note this is tongue-in-cheek) to be looking for new positions. at just-shy-of-62 and just-shy-of-60, it is more age-typical to be celebrating an upcoming or recent retirement than to be passing out resumes. the wrinkles around our eyes, the few grey hairs sprinkled on our heads belie who we are inside. experience and education and boots-on-the-ground knowledge come with a price – and that price is age. in real life, that doesn’t have to be a detriment for an employer. it is a quieter wisdom, a less-intense slower-striding competition with others, a recognition of the collective embrace of gleaning from each other. but the looking-a-tad-bit-older-thing, in person or on paper, rears its head and, too often, the what-we-could-bring is tossed off the table.

here we are, two sedulous snowmen, measured simply by whether we have three round balls stacked on each other, a carrot nose, two button eyes and a scarf wrapped around an undefined neck. we may not look like judge-a-book-only-by-its-cover-snowmen, but snowmen we are.

perseverance picks it all up off the floor and tries again.

goodness. i reckon my sweet momma would have loved the t-shirt i recently saw, “underestimate me. that’ll be fun.”

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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i agree. we agree. [flawed wednesday]

the train quickly passed by us, first in line at the crossing, as i snapped the pictures. graffiti adorned most of the cars and i randomly pressed the shutter as they blurred past. we’ve seen some insightful messages spray-painted on the side of boxcars and this day was not an exception. “agree” it read. timely.

there are things in the night that are reassuring. for my sweet momma, it was trains. she could sink deeper into sleep when she heard the trains in the distance, the whistles of arrival, departure, crossing. i share that with her. we can hear the trains from our house. and many times, in the middle of the night, as the 2am hour passes by, so does the train, its loud whistle echoing on empty streets. i wonder, in the fog of sleep/no-sleep, why it’s blowing its whistle, where it’s going. the lumbering of freight trains slightly shakes the house, even blocks away from the tracks. it’s lulling. i agree, momma.

“i agree.” “we agree.” powerful words. beyond simply concurring, granting acceptance to another’s idea, another’s conception, another’s opinion. it’s easy to agree that trains in the night are the stuff of of sublime entry into dreams. it doesn’t cost anything to agree to trains-in-the-night. there is no research involved, no fact-checking, no questions, no real critical thinking. you can’t lose anything by agreeing about the melancholy of train whistles.

it’s the other stuff that’s harder. the stuff where you have invested – in a big way – in your idea, your concept, your opinion. where you have not necessarily done the research, checked the facts, asked the questions or critical-thought your way into your opinion, but where you are stubbornly attached to it. it’s mind-boggling how this happens and yet it does. each of us has experienced being leeched onto something come-hell-or-high-water and not really knowing why, not really being able to give voice to concrete reasons. we wonder about others so feverishly vested and we gently and generously excuse ourselves for the same unrooted behavior. none of us are innocent.

this holiday season we received many greeting cards. i love getting mail. we’d save the cards and open them at special times so we could read the enclosed letters, the personal notes to us. this december one of our cards disturbed me. it felt like an attempt at absolution. it came from someone who had been dear, who was surprisingly so ensconced in their opinion – before the big disagree – that they did not even attempt to research, to check the facts, to ask questions, to use critical thinking. the pre-printed card spoke of love, hope and peace and they wrote inside, “you are in our thoughts and prayers.” while these words sound like the meat-and-potatoes of agreement, of accord, my heart begs me to wonder aloud – to them – why on earth they would include us in their thoughts and prayers – after the big disagree – when they didn’t include us in their research, their questions, their fact-checking, their thoughts and prayers – before – at a time when it was vital.

i store away in my mind, now, once again, the ever-important repeating lesson that it is much easier and more bottom-line-decent to do the research, ask the questions, check the facts, think-it-through before taking action than it is to attempt to absolve from it after.

the foghorn, another favorite of my momma’s, is not too far, in the other direction. its melancholy blast is also the stuff of sublime entry into dreams. i hear the foghorn and sink into my pillow, the long-island in me relishing the sound of coastlines, reassured by the cozy of being inside on a foggy night. it’s lulling. i agree, my sweet momma.

“i agree.”

“we agree.”

easy. and so hard.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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chaos. [flawed wednesday]

1000 pieces. we finished it in two days. two blustering cold, freezing rain, pallid grey days. we moved the tiny pine tree forest to the end of the dining room table and turned on all the twinkling lights. we had snacks early and glasses of wine later in the day. we’d leave the table and then return to it. there is something deeply satisfying about piecing together the outer edges of a puzzle and then, slowly but surely, gaining on the whole image, tiny sections of the picture emerging.

if only life were quite that easy.

the puzzle of our lives is in pieces. though i suspect we can pull the ones with straight edges and fashion them together into a frame of sorts, it is the rest of it that will prove challenging. we are upended. there is no picture on the front of the box to follow. it is disarray. chaos.

a friend recently chided me on my distraught emotions. “you were plucked out of a snake pit,” he texted. although i mightily disagreed at the time, i am beginning to see the wisdom of his words. people are not what they seem, sometimes, and communities can easily become poisoned by the actions of a very few. i don’t know when i will rest easily again. every night i am awake, reviewing, wondering, trying to figure it all out with little to no information. i am appalled time and again by ruthlessness. our friend may be right. it’s beginning to look more and more like a snake pit. and his words of reassurance and encouragement may be spot on. but it is chaos for us right now.

this week is pivotal in our country and in our own town. between a president psychologically and constitutionally off the charts, congressional leadership following along nose-tail-nose-tail in his feverish and fraudulent election-fraud wake, a senate run-off of significant proportion, a deadly pandemic spiraling out of control, our country, its democracy, and its constituents’ health are in peril. it is chaos in this country.

in our own town, they are erecting concrete barricades, blocking roads, re-attaching window boards, putting a potential curfew in place. the boy-with-the-big-automatic-gun who blithely killed two people on the street a few streets away is being arraigned. the district attorney is announcing his decision on whether or not to criminally charge the officer who shot a young black man seven times in the back in the line of duty earlier this summer. there will be unrest. there will likely be violence. it will be chaos in this town. again.

we have a couple other puzzles in the closet ready to be tackled. i’m thinking it is entirely possible that we will clear the table of this one we completed, stashing the pieces in a ziplock bag inside the box with the picture on the cover. we might choose another. empty the pieces onto the table, turning the cardboard pieces over to see the colors on the other side, placing the box-with-the-picture so we can work from it. in the moments we feel the most chaos we may walk over to the table, pick up a piece or two and, because we have a post-chaos-pieces-in-the-box picture, begin to sort and put it together. it will feel like a little bit of accomplishment in the middle of real chaos.

if only life were quite that easy.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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tuckered out. [flawed wednesday]

like a non-dangerous heat-seeking missile, babycat searches for the warm spots in the house. when the sun pours in the front windows, you will find him laying on the rug in the middle of the room. when the sun is higher in the sky and no longer checkers the rug, he will seek out the next. he can be found next to the radiator in the girl’s room, on the dog (read: cat) bed next to the radiator in the sunroom, on the bed waaaay up by the pillows, just above the radiator over the windows. he seeks comfort. he’s one smart cat. especially when he is tuckered out.

as this year-of-years comes to a close, it would seem that we are all tuckered out. yesterday we saw a wooden trivet for sale – beautifully crafted with cuts made by (i’m guessing) a jigsaw or scrollsaw. the very center featured the carved number 2020. from the center, there were what resembled fragile flower petals forming the rest of the trivet. each of those petals featured was carved intricately around one four-letter word: the one that starts with an f and ends with a k. yup. we should have purchased it. it seems fitting. sooo tuckered out.

we have only a few days left of this year. what shall we do with them? it has been my tradition, with calendar in hand, to review the year – at the end of the year – to see the rise and fall of breathing through all of it, the things we accomplished, the things that failed, the places we went, the times we shared with others. you know, the whole roller coaster ride.

this year i’m not sure if that would be fun, however. we are tuckered out.

this year we might just curl up next to the radiator and rest.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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“truth decay.” [flawed wednesday]

truth seems a scarcity these days. like various species of rhinos, elephants, penguins, tigers, whales, it seems to be on the endangered list. vulnerable, it is threatened by agenda, by usurping rhetoric, by propaganda, by people hiding behind cloaks of superheroes. it has been battered by self-aggrandizing people, by persons in positions of power, in high places, in low places. dangerous falsehoods and narrative abound, both in the telling of lies and in the non-telling of truth. “we are suffering from truth decay,” brian stelter reports, “we are in a truth emergency.”

it has become pervasive, this rotting apple. from the top down, we do not have fine examples of truth-telling. we watch as the spinning stories spin faster, out-of-control, madness. it has permeated every little corner, this toxicity. even in our own little worlds we see evidence of spinning stories, of truth-evasion, of gaslighting, of madness. it is a contagion of its own merit, this decay, and we must brace, stand steadfastly in reality and facts and protect truth. we must ask for it, require it, demand it. we need push back against the covering-up of what is real, what is truth. we must find the verifiable core, have hard conversations, move in a healthy, unwavering way to verity. we need rail against the extinction of truth.

because of the hard work of dedicated organizations, wildlife may make a recovery. with the dedicated work of each person, each capable of forthright honesty, humankind would benefit from a truth recovery.

“this much is clear: we cannot afford to fail in our mission to save a living planet.” (world wildlife foundation)

yes. because extinction is extinction.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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bullied. as a woman. [flawed wednesday]

“never be bullied into silence. never allow yourself to be made a victim. accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” (harvey fierstein)

“to thine own self be true,” my sweet momma would say. she and harvey fierstein would have been pals. heck, i should be pals with harvey.

there is a cost. we all know that. coloring outside the lines requires sisu, gumption, chutzpah. speaking up, speaking out, speaking for, speaking against. a cost.

like you, i have been bullied into silence in my life. i have been harassed and i have been victimized. i have been liquified and poured into molds that don’t fit. i have been vaporized. i have allowed it. i have not allowed it.

i am a woman. and with that comes bullying, harassment, victimization. with that come molds, generalizations, inequalities, assumptions.

i am not naive enough to believe that were i to be a man i would never face any of these crushing blows. but i do believe that i would have faced seriously fewer.

it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been sexually assaulted at an innocent 19. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that, in reporting the abuse of many underage young women, i would have my life threatened at 21. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been scarily pursued by a man-with-a-foot-fetish at 35. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been terrifyingly stalked at 50. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been verbally and professionally assailed at 60.

were i to be a man, the men who wielded the power in each of these might have tucked his superman cape away, might have had a second thought, might have played out his control-game-fantasy somewhere else.

but i am a woman. and, for some reason deeply embedded in society, that changes the rules and empowers the mongers.

i have been silent.

for too long.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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the asinine. [flawed wednesday]

if you look at the leaves on our front lawn in this photograph, you will see splotches of green. this is the path that some incredibly audacious person took walking from the sidewalk to our front brick wall in order to steal our two biden/harris election signs. yes. STEAL.

that morning – the saturday that joe biden was declared the new president-elect and kamala harris was declared the new vice-president-elect – someone had the gall to walk into our yard and take the sign out of the middle of the yard. then that person continued walking – right up to our old brick wall – and took our other sign.

now, i have never had election signs in my yard before. ever. but this year was different and, in addition to a couple other social justice signs, i was proud to have “biden/harris” gracing our home. i was looking forward to rolling one of them up for our special box, a remembrance of this turbulent time.

opening the miniblinds and letting the sun in the front windows i immediately saw that the signs were gone.

what was this person thinking?

did he/she think that they could prevent the inevitable? did he/she think that taking our signs would mean that the election results would shift? did he/she think that stealing from someone else’s property would be ok, acceptable, appropriate? that stealing candidate signs is not petty and immature? is that what this current president has taught them? that their angry opinion and their inflated sense of ego and importance would give them permission to steal? that their bullying would actually change anything? that their malfeasance would warp voting results that have everything to do with actually saving the soul of this nation, of democracy? that stealing signs would stop any new-day-for-america change of this nation toward equality and hope, a trajectory so needed for so long? that they don’t think crybaby tantrums and an obvious desire for retribution undermine the (supposed) value set they proclaim? did it occur to this person that we might have a security camera on the front yard? did it occur to them it is a misdemeanor? did they think that their whiny, pouting, coddled leader himself, all the way from his time-out corner in the white house, would pay their legal fines?

it is apparent that we were not the only target of this infantile and illegal behavior. many other biden/harris signs were gone from yards we had smiled at while passing and the bigger wooden signs that had been erected were pushed over. yes, now there is a display of puerile behavior. to have followed this/these person(s) around our neighborhood, triumphantly snatching signage out of the ground, would be to witness the asinine.

maybe the next time they steal something from someone they’ll smile and wave. candid cameras can be ruthless these days.

oh. and by the way, stealing our signs did not change the results. your guy lost.

peace out.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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true colors. [flawed wednesday]

you can’t go back.

you can’t unhear it or unknow it or unsee it. in any circumstance. at any time. that, alone, gives me pause.

these times, amped up, when people have been foaming at the mouth and spewing vitriol, have been enlightening and have turned the spotlight on these wise words – words cautioning how we speak, how we act, what we do, what we condemn or uplift, what we profess.

decades ago i directed a youth choir in florida. they were performing in concert and their last piece was the song “true colors“. i purchased large swaths of different colored cellophane, body-sized sheets, which they held up in front of them as they sang, “and i see your true colors shining through. i see your true colors and that’s why i love you. so don’t be afraid to let them show, your true colors, true colors are beautiful…like a rainbow.” as they finished they let the cellophane in front of them gently drop to the floor, draping around their feet. exposed, in their own true colors, they stood.

we are exposed. the true colors are showing. and this nation is none too pretty. 71 million people in our country vehemently supported the current reigning president for the position of leader-of-the-free-world as 75 million voted for change. and now, the 71 million, led by their tantrum-throwing leader, are not letting the good man who won win.

i have been stunned time and again throughout the last few years as i watched people close and far, by proximity, by relation, by partisan lines, stand with a person who is as close to the definition of evil that i can point to in recent times. i have asked questions, i have researched, i have pointedly disagreed, i have been horrified.

where has the collective moral compass gone? or did i miss the memo that stated self-serving agenda was the sole soul choice on the menu?

it is astonishing to watch people line up behind a pathological liar narcissist. astounded time and again, i’ve been overwhelmed reading or hearing the words of the complicit comrades in his sociopathic administration. astounded time and again, i’ve been struck by the echoes of these same sentiments in people who i would have thought knew better. angry words rat-a-tat through the country like automatic weapons leashed upon non-followers. falsehoods and pretense, derogatory and snide, spread like rapid fire. a true lack of moral compass, lack of principle has led the corrupt way and 71 million people have jumped on the furious bandwagon, jumping up and down with unmasked glee, screaming the anger they have dislodged from the depths of their souls. it is staggering. and unforgettable. and utterly terrifying.

every thing counts. every word uttered. every action taken. every everything. those things do not just disappear, vanishing into a fog of wishing-it-different. instead, they linger in the universe and something shifts in what you know about others.

those words – the ones they pummeled you with – are hard to unhear. those actions – the ones with which they affected lives – are impossible to unsee. those ideals – the ones that align with the malignant soul who sits as the current president – are unbearable and simply cannot be unknown.

some true colors are just not beautiful like a rainbow.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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cleaved. [flawed wednesday]

it was well-intended. the highland park library had a sign up with these words and i copied them down as we passed by. stay apart, stay safe and we will get through this together. a sentiment about the raging pandemic, it was momentarily reassuring.

but only momentarily.

for, really, we are more apart than together. we are more fractured. we are more divided than we ever thought. we are cleaved.

at this moment, each place i look i see the destruction of entities breaking in two, splitting. there is no reassurance for that. there can be no healing without truth, without compassionate, fair and decisive leadership. disparate sides will ultimately fight to the death, no eye to clarity, no ear to healthy conversation, no wisdom, no heart. just agenda, riddled with prejudice, with self-aggrandizing, with aggression, with inward nationalism-under-every-heading, surrounded by a protective cloak of complicity.

people put asunder. entities put asunder. the country put asunder.

if apart will bring us together, we are on the right track. if apart is just simply getting us through, we are beyond cleaved.

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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save the gumballs. [flawed wednesday]

i never won when the county fair contest involved guessing the number of gumballs in the jar. it’s just hard to wrap your head around just how many gumballs fit in a jar – so many more than you think possible.

at the beginning it was twisted entertainment to watch the CNN gumball jar fill up. the cnn anchor would add another gumball to the jar each time the president lied. and then, when it was full, he would add another jar. and another. and another. and now? i’m not sure how many jars and gumballs it would take to truly represent the sheer number of times this president has lied to us, the populace aka his employers. it is not entertaining. it is not funny. it is outright pitiful, many gumballs past pathetic.

to realize that this period right now, the final approach to the election, is one of “the president’s most dishonest” spans of time is absolute lunacy. what is this country thinking? why, on this good earth, is it perfectly partisanly ok for the leader of the free world to constantly lie? he is a pathological liar and his egocentric comrades are both passively and actively complicit in their acceptance of his disorder, of forwarding his vast cauldron of mistruths, of his failures, of his vileness, of pushing his self-serving agenda, of aggrandizing his behavior.

this country will never win any contest guessing the number of presidential-lie-gumballs in the jar. instead, it will sink deeper into division, deeper into inequity and prejudice, deeper into an abyssmal lack of compassion, deeper into suppression, deeper into dark despair, deeper into the lies. this country will reside inside the pathological sickness in this president’s head.

please vote him out and save the gumballs.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY