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Living with HIV

Pretty Red Ribbon Gear

My sister is living with HIV.

I don’t remember when I got the call, perhaps six months or a year after my mother died, so in 2000, maybe even late 1999. I know that all the open wounds from Mom’s death hadn’t healed yet and none of us siblings were very close at that time.

She was crying. Actually, she was totally, utterly freaked out. Or maybe that was a later conversation, after the reality hit. She’d tested positive. There’d been a workplace accident, and she’d gotten blood in an open cut on her hand.  And now she had a deadly disease. And I was stunned, and devastated, and utterly helpless.

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living wageWhen you find me struggling with the obvious on wage and labor issues, remember that I spent nearly a decade as a libertarian before I slowly, painfully reasoned my way back to a supporter of a well regulated economy with capitalism as the engine and liberalism as a steering wheel.

A friend who is deeply involved in the Occupy movement posted the picture to the left on Facebook a couple of days ago, and it let loose a cascade of thoughts that drew a little of that old poison from my wounds.

My old reactionary core rose up in protest. Really? You’re going to go there? And then I paused. It’s a really good question. Its opposite is asked many, many times in libertarian and conservative circles. At what point is taxation theft? And if it is always theft, then why is it not also theft to take the benefits of another person’s labor, and profit from it? 

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anger and forgiveness

Tbird is the guest author of this post about anger and forgiveness. She recently completed her conversion to Judaism after years of study. Originally from New York, she now lives outside Denver Colorado and has a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from Colorado State University in Fort Collins. She has also been my friend for many years and is a constant inspiration to me. I hope you find her as inspiring as I do. 

Many belief systems call on us to seek out one another’s humanity, even in the darkness of people. We are asked to find a spark in the people who would hurt us or others.

The Quaker belief is that every life has value.

Universal Unitarianism holds the principle of “affirming and upholding the inherent worth and dignity of every person” at the top of their list.

As humans in the West, we are constantly told to be good, be polite, be kind to strangers, know compassion, let go of anger, and forgive. This is hard to reconcile when we know there is evil in the world; there are people who hurt children, murder neighbors, or think it’s a good idea to barbecue live kittens. How are we supposed to be nice, to affirm the inherent worth of such people?

In Judaism, the good and the bad both have a place. There is room for both anger and forgiveness.

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FOR YOU LOVE PEACE .......... MAMITA SUFFER PA...

.. (Photo credit: LUZ-2011)

Happiness Results from Full Participation in Life

How many of us have groaned or sighed when some happiness guru or another has said ‘just think positive’? How many of us have growled at the speaker or the book and thrown the remote or the book across the room in anger?

Do you know why you get so angry? That kind of deep anger covering up an even deeper injury? It’s because you’re being asked to take half (more or less) of reality and pretend its not real. It doesn’t work, because ‘think positive’ is only a bit of the answer, and the wrong bit, at that.

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Blood, Bones and Butter in the window

Blood, Bones and Butter in the window (Photo credit: Marisa | Food in Jars)

When I put e-books on my library hold list to read and review, I am sometimes completely unaware of what I’ve just ordered. This was very much the case with Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton. I thought I had ordered a cookbook to browse through. Instead, I had ordered a memoir by a cook (a chef, really).

Happy, happy mistake. This is a meandering memoir full of foodie-licious details of French and Italian cooking and the sort of personal details that make you either want to put the book down for a moment to absorb what you have just read, or plow forward.

I read this, coincidentally, during a weekend devoted to making peace with my family of birth. Hamilton, too, describes such an event, and like mine hers was a fraught mixture of success and failure. Mine, however, is unlikely to be set down as a memoir, certainly not one as mouthwatering as hers.

I identified with the craziness of her childhood life, the mistakes of her young adulthood, the settled certainty of later choices and then the even later questioning of that certainty. I grew to care about the character even as I sometimes judged her as harshly as I judged myself.

Throughout reading it, I badly wanted to hand it to 15 year old overthinker to enjoy, but realized even with the impulse that he needed more life experience to truly appreciate this book, even with his love of cooking and dream of being a chef someday.

This was not, for me, an easy book to read. It was, however, fascinating and heartbreaking and full of truth in both its lurid ugliness and beauty. I hope someday to whip up a concoction this complex and delicious, and suspect, sadly, that I never will.

 

Wow, did that get poetical. Deal with it, folks. That’s how the book made me feel.

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Overthinker Masked for Guy Fawkes Day (Bonfire Day)

Overthinker Masked for Guy Fawkes Day (Bonfire Day)

Remember Dances with Dragons, that adorably assertive and clueless little boy? Or perhaps The Perpetually Grounded Son, who spent over a year being the source of many stories about the woes of being a parent? Or Teenager, who got tired of me calling him the Perpetually Grounded Son?

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Posing with ‘Tommy’ at the Kansas City Zoo

Every now and again I’m startled when I’m out in public with one of my sons, who quite naturally (in my eyes) are polite and thoughtful and show interest in and respect for other people. When whichever son I’m with is out of hearing, suddenly a clerk or a fellow shopper or someone else at the event approaches me and asks how I did it.

How I did what?

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