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the truth, the whole truth and nothing but… [flawed wednesday]

whole truth man

i was 18 and on long island the first time i was called for jury duty.  back then, reporting was for two weeks so i drove out to riverhead each day for ten days.  it was serious stuff and i, in my innocence, listened carefully to every detail during jury selection and, later, during the case to which i was assigned.  i was intimidated by the presence of the judge, law enforcement, court bailiffs, attorneys, these people who had dedicated their lives to justice, to maintain rule of law and abide by due process of such, while providing for equal protection, seeking social order.  “courts:  they exist so the equality of individuals and the government is reality rather than empty rhetoric.” (NACM)  i researched my responsibility.  i was respectful of every instruction i was given, and believed that the process was based on constitutional rights and values and that truth would prevail. “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…”

less than ten years later i was the victim-witness counselor at the state attorney’s office in one of the judicial circuits in florida.  i worked with local law enforcement, the FBI, attorneys, social workers, court bailiffs, judges, all dedicated to the due process of those who had been accused of crimes and those who were victims of crimes.  my position was working with victims of violent crimes or surviving family members of those victims. heinous acts committed upon others, i was intimidated by the presence of cold, calculating types sitting across the deposition table from me, wishing, at times, that i could put a paper bag over my head to avoid identification at a later date.  it was bracing and disheartening, a dark look into what people are really capable of, twisted, distorted minds culminating, often, in the death of an innocent person.  my first case was one of the saddest, though i shudder thinking of many of them, wondering if they are truly rank-able.  the young woman worked at a quick stop gas station/convenience store, her shift the wee hours of the night.  the two men who kidnapped her had planned for a long time to dig an underworld and keep her and other women there.  their efforts were stymied as they began to dig and discovered that sand kept filling the hole, so they assaulted her and murdered her.  one of my very first days: welcome to the state attorney’s office.  each case that was presented was treated with respect and complete attention to detail; the truth was the ultimate goal, for justice, for the memory of the victim, for the victim’s family, for proper sentencing and/or rehabilitation.  “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…”

thirty years later i watch as the wisconsin court system, that which is supposed to be non-partisan, apolitical, a fair arbiter of the law, has deemed the governor’s safer-at-home order during a global pandemic unconstitutional and has thus thwarted the ability of the governor to protect the populace.  “courts:  they exist so the equality of individuals and the government is reality rather than empty rhetoric.” (NACM)  hmmm.  yet, instead, leaning heavily on the right side of the political seesaw of a supposed-apolitical supreme court, the justices declared the state ‘open’ and triumphantly, though virtually, just as during their vote, raised their glasses of celebration in every wisconsin bar about five minutes after their declaration.  the truth?  wisconsin’s coronavirus numbers had not ceased climbing; there was not enough testing nor contact tracing as per the federal government’s previously-stated guidelines, which, at the time, were stated as the truth.  “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…”

meanwhile, the administration’s truth-seesaw has become the stuff of amusement parks and circuses – long roller coasters of thwacking metal cars on tracks, criss-crossing and reversing direction, houses of mirrors, convoluted stories and warped sideshows.  “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…” would present some challenges in this case – were truth to be told.

the truth flies by the hand of the self-served.  the truth is misrepresented in more artistic mediums than the best fine arts university could offer.  falsehoods are reported on, written about, gushed over.  and people i care about and love believe them.  danger lurks in the darkness of this truth-void; the deposition table will later provide bags to cover all the heads.  made-up stories as adults with impact on a country are not merely child’s play.  this seesaw of truth is about life; it’s about living.  it’s to uphold this: “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” (the preamble of the u.s. constitution)

we passed a house flying an american flag.  under the american flag was another flag.  it said:  “trump 2020.  stop the bullsh*t.”

wow.  now that’s calling the kettle black!

stop the bullsh*t???  i should SAY so.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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devoid of color. [flawed wednesday]

red and blue america

this morning i am devoid of color.  like many of you, i had a day – for me it was yesterday – that shook me to the core.  in the midst of all the bootstrap-pulling and the sisu-garnering we are mustering, angst pushed its way to the surface.  i stood in front of my piano and it started.  it didn’t stop until i laid my face on the pillow to rest, late last night, and then it woke me in the middle of the night, poking me into the place where you stare into the dark, imploring your mind to stop.  if you were there too, in the middle of angst yesterday, we were in solidarity.

this morning i am devoid of color.  apparently, for the whole of my life, i have not been as brutally aware of the chasms in this country as i am now.  we are not really one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  and the rose-colored glasses that  birthed loyalty have slid off our collective faces.  this country is as divided as they come.  it is as inequitable as they come.  and woefully, it is as shallow as they come.

this morning i am devoid of color.  in the middle of a global pandemic the leaders of this country are failing us.  jousts of economic strategy are thrust into this health-terror; federal taunts of get-it-for-yourself set the stage, the precedent, a hideous example for a people intent on self-servingness.  we see the curtain pulled on what is important to people and we are appalled.

this morning i am devoid of color.  the in-fighting pales in comparison to the cavalier buttressing of parties.  yes.  “red and blue america are not experiencing the same pandemic.”  we can’t have conversation because that would involve honest communicating.  we can’t seek truth because who could then be blamed? we can’t even talk because we are too angrily disparate to talk.  tilting my kitchen chair back on two legs as we read aloud the news i feel the earth tilt under me and i hold onto the table.

we are not on the same page, we of this country.  this pandemic, capable of uniting us in working to flatten the curve of its dread, is further dividing us.  information is warped; information is withheld.  facts – facts! – are play-doh-molded into whatever pushes forth agenda.  there are two distinct camps of thought and nary shall they meet.  this has generated an opportunity, a ploy, for more polarity; we see it, experience it, up close and personal.  and, to add insult to injury, the great divide, the vast difference between those-who-have and those-who-don’t is exposed like a compound fracture.  despite sixty years on this earth, i have never seen it more clearly.  and it is staggering.

this morning i am devoid of color.  fear has drained the color from my face.  i want us, my husband and i, to stay healthy.  i desperately want my beloved children to stay healthy.  i earnestly want my parents-in-law to stay healthy, our siblings, our families, our extended families, our friends.  but the misinformation war has put us in peril.  this insidious virus is sweeping the globe and we are in danger.  that, at its root, should not be a question or a bargaining chip.  it should not be ignored nor should it be conflated to suit agenda.  it should be factual, pragmatic, cautious, proactive, seeking answers, results and healing of lives – indivisible – for all.

so many people in this nation, practicing goodness.  but this nation?  this nation has a choice to make.

this morning i am devoid of color.  i am deeply disappointed.  i am afraid.

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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1980. no balloons. [k.s. friday]

no balloons

1980.  it’s not often i have listened to this song since four decades ago when i recorded it.  i was a mere 20.  listening to it warbling now, in the way that only old cassettes can warble, has been a mixed bag:  this cassette master, with little studio experience, with reel-to-reel recording, with no auto-tune for my young nervous soprano-ish voice, with too-sweet flute lines and picked guitar, measures-too-long-instrumental-interlude; i am catapulted back.

it is shocking to hear the innocence.  it is shocking to hear the pain.  if my wednesday post this week was too much, i would hasten to add that this will be as well.  this is a song about stripping a young woman of choice, of what should be the blissful love of first intimacy, of no justice, of no opportunity to process.  it’s the story of sexual assault in the late 1970s.  it’s the story of sexual assault any time.  it changes everything.  every trajectory.  it’s my story.

NO BALLOONS is a song of the times.  especially for someone who listened to john denver, james taylor, carole king, joni mitchell, bread, loggins and messina, america, england dan & john ford coley, the carpenters – the A-team of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-interlude-chorus.  simple melodies, simple instrumentation, simply written, simply sung.

i can’t believe i didn’t write it in the vein of led zeppelin or kiss.  it should have been a screaming heavy metal song, full of pointed weapons of anguish, of power-stripped anger.  instead, it sounds like a sweet love-gone-bad song, “you take away my hopes, my dreams, you give me no balloons to fly.”  only it’s not.  it’s about no air.  no breath.

“and now with my eyes closed, i no longer see the pain in yours or feel it in mine…”  and that was a product of the times as well.  i closed my eyes and silenced my voice.  i stopped feeling it.  or did i?  “and i cried as long as the rain lasted and when it stopped i stopped.” was it really that simple?

until this week i really never thought i would share this song again.  after all, the song is 40 years old; i’m an alto, perched firmly on the tenor shore.  but somehow, between the #MeToo movement and the swirling-around-us-in-the-world-contention and public court battles in recent media and the lack of regard for those who truly need help or healing and my aunt’s texted article and the weeping inside of my younger-self and my silenced-silence, it felt like it was time to be vulnerable and candid and believe that our muddy-boots-narratives might make a difference for someone else.

we each have a story, a timeline, an arc that takes us through this life.  things we want to remember in detail, things we desperately want to forget.  things we have lived boisterously out loud, things we have lived in despairing silence.  the tapestry that holds all these threads together is the soul of our experience, the way we can hear others and truly listen, the empathy we can employ in a world that seems to cite MeFirst instead of UsTogether.

i wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone.  i’m pretty sure that every day since those-dark-days-in-the-late-70s i have both been affected and have effected because of them.  i have made choices and non-choices, taken action and had reflexive reaction.  i have searched for answers.

but i also know that my heart was blown open.  i am not standing on a different rung of the ladder, too high up to understand or remember, too discurious to ask, too blinded to see, too discriminating or apathetic to care.

i am next to anyone who needs me to listen, really listen.  i am next to anyone who needs me to jump and catch their balloons before they have flown too far to reach.

 

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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NO BALLOONS ©️ 1980 kerri sherwood

 

 


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“we should be wide awake.” [merely-a-thought monday]

we should be wide awake billboard

i sleepily rub the dreams from my eyes.  coffee helps.  and the snowy world outside comes into focus.  no longer immersed in the land of nod, all things rush back:  the casts, the worries, work task lists, bills to pay, the world around us.  before i peruse the news and the weather, though, i mind’s-eye blow my children a kiss and wish them good days, i hug the dog and the cat lying by my side, i thank sweet d for the coffee with the ernie straw.  it all starts.  the day has begun.

this past week has been extraordinary in so many ways; more on that another time.  i’m buoyed by a hopeful spirit, by connecting with people, by sheer love and the sureness-of-foot taking one step at a time, moving forward; the tide is predictable – it ebbs; it flows.  i am wide awake now, thinking.

“we should be wide awake.”  yes.  for all things.  we should have our eyes open.  we should monitor our response to the positive, the negative.  we should be mindful.  just as worry pervades our time, so does hope.  we need lead with kindness.  we need remember we are sharing this good earth with a hard-to-fathom 7.6 billion or so other souls.  we can’t avoid the reality that the narrative we each individually choose must be deliberately and painstakingly vetted with the truth, with awareness, with sensitivity, with fairness.   not sleepily, not uninterested-in-all-but-the-reactionary-anger-dramatics, not without due diligence.  we must guard against the bandwagon of lackadaisical; we must avoid the geared-down rhetoric of hatred.  we are human beings and we have a responsibility.

just as certain as the tide, it is predictable that the two factions in any division will aggressively forward their agendas.  it is up to each of us to stay informed, to discern, to ask questions, to speak up, to make intelligent, educated choices based on civility, impartiality and honesty, equality, democracy and freedom.  no matter the venue, no matter the place of division.

to be wide awake.

woke:  increasingly used as a byword for social awareness.

read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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everything to lose. pay attention. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

everything to lose.jpg

“one million plastic beverage bottles are bought every minute around the world. yet recycling rates remain low.”

(article:  our addiction to plastic, national geographic magazine, 12.2019)

close to midnight and the texts started arriving fast and furiously.  a warning from My Girl that she was “fighting with people on instagram”.  her passionate responses to objectors on #pattiegonia’s instagram were well-spoken, well-placed, adamant about the wellness of this good earth, vehemently supportive.  i paid attention.

pattie gonia is an environmental advocate drag queen.  a voice.  a loud, sincere, fervent, educated, inspired, contemporary, courageous voice.  pattie/wyn is out there making a difference.  it is easy to be proud of them, to stand with them.  with the partnership of rei, they have created video to draw attention to the things we, as earth-dwellers, have failed to prioritize.  if you watch their dramatic and profound videos, you will weep.  guaranteed.

we must pay attention.  what plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic netting, garbage, waste….are doing to our mother earth is deplorable.  we would not live in such a house.  why then do we live on such an earth?

i was driven to nausea the other day when we were helping someone clear out a house.  it was our job to load things up in big red and go to the mini-dump not far from us.  we pulled up and backed up to one of many large dumpsters, all connected to a compactor, to throw in what we had in the back of the truck.   it took my breath away watching all the people throwing in all the stuff….just in this tiny corner of the world.  the great pacific garbage patch looms in my mind’s eye.  THIS is the reason we still have our 40-plus-year-old stove.  because i can’t imagine where it will go if we just throw it out to get a shiny new model before it’s necessary, just to make our kitchen look chic (which, incidentally, is impossible anyway.)

we have been conscious, using refillable water bottles, repurposing, recycling everything we could recycle, a practice of being consumers-of-less, less buying, less keeping-up-with-the-joneses, more picking up trash and, scarily, pulling up next to people who throw things out their car windows to tell them they ‘dropped something back there’.  but we have been learning. and we can do more.  we all can do more.  we have to.  pay attention.

“…right now, there are more plastic pieces in the ocean than stars in the milky way…” (everything to lose by pattie gonia)

it’s bracing.  and it’s tragic. and it needs our true attention.  as pattie gonia says, clothed in a dress made of plastic bags, fully standing in garbage, a ticking clock her companion,  “we have everything to lose.”

 

a short documentary to learn more about pattie gonia:

 

read DAVID’s thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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holding steadfast. [k.s. friday]

holdingsteadfast songbox.jpg

it is against the odds that this tree clings to rock and doesn’t topple into the lake with a great splash and float away.  instead it stubbornly holds on, a steadfast intention.  the rock, the basso ostinato.

at a time when holding steadfast seems mightily important, i wonder about the questions we have been asked.  will you stay?  will you leave?  will you love it here?  in the midst of all the infighting, are you going to give up? will you hold on?

the answers may not be directly related to the actual intent of those questions.

will we hold on?  yes, we will hold on.  we will hold steadfast to our integrity.  we will hold steadfast to the reasons we came here in the first place.  to make a difference, to bring ideas and change, to apply that which we have learned, studied, experienced over at least 80 combined years of work, higher education and profession.  to be honest and transparent and collaborative.  to try and instill a sense of working together into a community divided by narratives too numerous to list.

will we hold on?  yes, we will hold on.  we will hold steadfast to our belief that people should be kind to each other, that people should not work around others nor should they undermine others, that people should instead lift each other up, not drive stakes into another.

will we hold on?  yes, we will hold on.  steadfastly.  to honoring art, the driving force behind this initiative.  to honoring creativity and the blossoming of beauty and wisdom, staunch tenets of artistry.

will we hold on?  yes, we will hold on.  steadfastly.  to believing all is possible.

but, in answer to the real intent of the question asked us….will we hold on?

we will not hold on if others cannot join us in what is real, what is truth, what is most important.  we will not hold on in the fire of pettiness or shameful self-serving underhandedness.  we will not hold on, holding still while others take turns throwing rocks at us, at the real goals of this place, if those are indeed about art.

the answer to the question is not up to us.  we can either cling to the rock, holding steadfast or we can topple, with a refreshing splash, into the lake and float away.

download HOLDING STEADFAST from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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HOLDING STEADFAST from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

 


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flawed cartoon. truth. [d.r. thursday]

Pinochio BIGcopy copy.jpg

i honestly (get the pun?) don’t think i need to say anything else about this.  in light of everything, the subject(s) seems/seem most obvious to me.

(FLAWED CARTOON was drawn and created by david and our dear friend 20.  their cartoons were timely, profound and, mostly, very very funny.   the pig push puppet is a part of my push puppet collection, which, i am sure, you never imagined me having.)

click here if you wish to browse FLAWED CARTOON merch on society6.com

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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TRUTH ©️ 2016 david robinson


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peel back the layers. [two artists tuesday]

peel back the layers copy

“don’t judge a book by its cover,” my sweet momma used to say.  i’m missing her today as i write this post for tomorrow.  four years ago today she left this good earth and i could feel it tilt on its axis, trying vainly to readjust.  she was generous when it came to people.  she saw past what was on the outside; she sought to see what was inside.

the rough exterior we sometimes see on the outside of people is quite often a guise.  we all know someone we believed to be gruff, but turned out to be quite the mush, once you were able to peel back the protective layers.   we believe we know what someone else thinks or feels, but we are actually unable to physically pare back those visible and invisible outer layers, the extrinsic stuff, to get to the raw of their heart, to feel their actual worries or concerns or fears.

we each have our bark-masks, carefully designed for the venue or situation within which we find ourselves. we choose what to share with others, rarely brave enough to shed all that outer bark.  for there have been times when you have peeled back the layers, revealed truths in confidence, perhaps looking for wisdom or common ground, and have been torturously walloped with judgement or scorn.  it becomes much harder to allow the next shared peel.

it takes courage to BE who you really are with others.  it takes courage to meet on common ground.  we fear the gruff outermost skin, we are afraid of what we see and don’t understand.  we may not realize someone else feels that same fear.

but there are cracks in the bark; there are fissures in the icy exterior.  the tree may be shedding, the trunk expanding, growth waiting in the wings.  allowing for cracks, fissures, reaching toward and not away – those can be the gps to another’s heart.  it’s not always what it looks like.  growth is waiting.  because, you know, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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the two of you. [k.s. friday]

thetwoofyou songbox1 copy

the two of you:  two reasons why i breathe ~ my children (cd liner notes)

this will never change.  most of the things i gather around me are things that make me think of them, feel them near.  it’s as simple as framed photographs or collages or a peace keychain or lanyards that say ‘colorado’ and ‘boston’.  it’s a screenshot of a text message i want to remember.  it’s a note jotted on my calendar about something My Girl or My Boy said to me or a date that is important to them i want to remember.  it’s notes they wrote as children held by magnets to the refrigerator or in small frames bedside.  it’s laughter saved in a video.  it’s moments of tears driving away from their homes.  it’s a rock saved on a hike in the high desert canyonlands with The Girl; it’s The Boy’s childhood favorite ny taxi pencil on my piano.  nothing is huge.  everything is huge.

most of my also-mom-friends will agree that, outside of spending time together, the one thing certain to lift them up on any given day is a reaching-out-to-them by a grown-up child.  it’s the moment ANYthing else stops.  it’s the silently-agreed-upon, strictly-held-to and always-welcome interruption in the middle of visiting others, working, hiking, cooking, sleeping.  both The Girl and The Boy knew – and know – that they can call or text at any time of day or night and i will be there; i will answer.   ‘always there’ is a fierce inner motherhood promise designed to both ground and frustrate children, whatever their ages.   it’s a guiding principle, a mom-creed.   it’s absolute.  it’s truth.

from the moment they were born everything changed.  and, from that moment on, one thing didn’t.  the two of you ~ two reasons why i breathe ~ my children.  ❤️

download AS IT IS on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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THE TWO OF YOU from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 


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what they value is on the wall. [merely-a-thought monday]

kenosha tire sign copy

my poppo was staunch about a few things.  tires, brakes and windshield wipers were three of them.  not only staunch, he was particular; his tire brand of choice (for him and for anyone he loved) was without-a-doubt-michelin.  and so, with the exception of the time i had a tire blow out on a highway far from home, on a sunday, with no specialty tire store open, i have always bought michelins.

we’ve sat at kenosha tire many times, really for every vehicle:  the vw, the minivans, the jeeps, the xb.  having new tires mounted or a tire fixed or having all four rotated, they are courteous, informative, and speedy.  i never truly mind waiting for something like this to be done; i love to watch people so i stay amused most of the time.

this establishment has been there since 1970.  it’s not a fancy place; there’s a variety of chairs, a variety of plaques with sponsored-team pictures, a variety of tire samples and tire signs and a large screen tv.  sometimes there’s a dog or two and i suspect maybe there is a cat back in that office with the counter-level swinging door.  this is a family business and their dedication not only to their customers but also to the community is obvious.  i always feel like they listen to me; i always trust them.

before we went out west, we had our tires rotated…i could hear my dad nagging, er, reminding me all the way from heaven.  on the wall next to my chair was this sign.  the four-way test of the things we think, say or do printed on rotary international paper.  it struck me as a simple tool…something to help frame our thoughts, the things we blurt out or defiantly or unthinkingly state, the things we do that have the potential to hurt others.

it is clear to me that kenosha tire values people.  it is clear that they support their community.  and now it is clear to me that they found this simple guide to kindness was important enough to put on the wall.  we should all have a wallet-sized copy to which we can refer.

i’m betting my dad would be pretty staunch about using this shop to buy our tires.  kindness in business was another one of those things he was pretty particular about.

as a matter of fact, i’m also willing to bet that, other than 2x4s, i-beams, sheetrock and maybe shiplap, this is the only wall-related-discussion he’d be interested in.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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