Archive for May, 2010



100% of royalties will be donated to fund scholarships to vocational schools for kids from the slums of New Delhi.

SEATTLE, WA (MAY 20, 2010) — Bestselling author Rita Golden Gelman launches Female Nomad and Friends: Tales of Breaking Free and Breaking Bread Around the World (A Three Rivers Press Original), June 1, 2010, in Seattle. Forty-one authors tell their stories of adventuring around the world; all but two of them are women. To celebrate the anthology and the special bonding that happens when people share a meal and a book, Rita is hosting a 24-hour global dinner, Connecting through Food, on Friday, June 18th. She hopes you’ll join her by giving a dinner in your home.

The Anthology/Cookbook is the sequel to Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World (Crown Publishers, 2001) which tells the story of Rita’s selling her possessions and becoming a nomad—living in mud huts, in royal palaces, and on magical islands. She’s been a nomad for 23 years. Her story captivates readers; the book is still going strong. Ignoring a warning from her publisher, Rita included her e-mail address. The last line is: “I can’t wait to hear from you.” She was flooded with e-mails from readers worldwide who offered guest rooms, couches, meals…. and their own stories of connecting around the world. Many of those stories and more of Rita’s adventures are collected in Female Nomad and Friends, which includes 59 amazing tales and more than 30 fabulous international recipes.

“We’re encouraging people around the world to invite friends to buy the book, cook the recipes, and share a meal at our Global Dinner Party – Connecting through Food,” said Gelman. “In hundreds of homes, guests will be ‘talking’ to us about the stories and discussing the anthology as well as the food. We’ll post your videos, pictures, and comments on Facebook. Please join us.”

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Imagine this …

A brand of soap … we’ll call it Morning Glory … has experienced sagging sales, having been around for yonks and recently reputed to cause irritation, and worse.

In an effort to revive interest, maybe even bring in some new victims customers, a massive campaign is carefully planned, the main thrust of which is personal appearances by the company mascot, Mr. Glory himself.

With no change in the Glory formula in sight, the ad/PR machine is taking the “ram it down” tact, trotting out the same old slogans, offers and, of course, the big guns, and BIG TIME … a strategy that has worked for them time after time, and sold a lot of soap.

The UK is chosen as launch pad for the blitz, partly because Morning Glory’s reputation has been especially bitten on the ass in that country; rashes have broken out and some users have been permanently scarred.

A budget of £15 million is set … that’s a whole lotta soap.

Now, here’s the puzzling bit; the British government agrees to pay more than half of the bill, plus, plus.

Shocking, heh?

Okay, we’re not talking soap here, but another representation of morning glory called Pope Ben the Roman Numeral.

Yep … he’s bringing the road show to Britain and the British tax payers are picking up a huge part of the tab.

The total bill for the invited visit – without the cost of police and security – is estimated by the Foreign Office to be about £15m. Of this, £7m will come from the Catholic Church, the rest will be shouldered by taxpayers.

Ooooh. I know if I was still paying taxes in England I’d not be chuffed.

The monsignor coordinating the viz rationalizes this depletion of British coffers by passing the Popester off as “a head of state”, a definition the church cultivates actively, and since the Vatican is its own little world, carries some cred, but shouldn’t.

Yes, that’s my opinion; if they want to look like a State, they should pay taxes, and the pope should no more be invited to spew on global affairs than should Sun Yung Moon.

My fav bit, though, of the report is this:

So where is the Church going to find the £7m it has pledged to contribute?

… He said for the Papal visit the church hoped people would double their contributions to come up with close to a million.

Yeah … because the catholic church doesn’t have two pennies to rub together? Paaaaalllllleeeeeeaaaasssseeee …

When the head of this church gets around on an ass (pun intended), dresses in homespun and sells off the art collection, maybe … and only maybe … then there could be a point made for helping out a bit with his travel budget … like donating a week-long bus/tube pass.

Until that happens, though … frozen precipitation in perdition comes to mind as more likely … pope soap should fork out for its PR gigs.

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As the first anniversary of my son’s death approaches … on the 2nd of June he will have been gone for one whole year … it becomes increasingly obvious that I’ve not done the greatest job of proper grieving.

Not that there is a wrong way or a right way to mourn; individually and culturally, there are as many ways to deal with death as there are people who die, and that’s about 10,007 humans per minute on this planet, so a lot of variety.

Death rituals can be part of the process when folks are lucky enough to be afforded the luxury of time to conduct them, when death happens by ones and not by thousands and in situations where the rituals themselves don’t deplete resources to the point of costing more lives.

It occurs to me as I write this, that today’s post prompted my first Google search of grief .. an indication of just how not right I’ve been doing this, and in the course of composing a fucking blog post attempt to face my grief, I’m compartmentalizing, as I’ve done from the time I was told my son was dead.

I know why I went to great lengths to encapsulate each wayward bit of grief, then swallow each whole without letting anything touch the sides. There was so much to do … get Sam and Cj sorted out so I could fly to the other side of the planet. That started it. There was no time to fall apart when packing and making sure my kids and my house and my animals would be cared for for the month I would be away, and getting myself from one airport to another had to happen, and being alone meant just that; there would be no one to hold my hand on a 16+ hour flight, and transiting in Dubai could not happen in a puddle.

Once I arrived, there was more to sort out … more than anything I’d ever considered I’d have to consider … the details of death. Jaren’s dad was there, going through this all, too, and my daughter and her family, and much of my family, and friends, all trying to cope with the loss of him.

Again, a reasonably rational mind was required.

I would go through the motions, do what needed to be done. I would meet with Jaren’s dad and stepmom, my daughter and her husband and others as we all tried to understand this sudden tragedy. I went through what was left of Jaren’s apartment, attended memorial services and let others arrange for his body to be transported to the Northern California town where we would have the funeral.

And at the end of each day, I would go to my room, cry and tell myself that if I fell apart, I would not be able to get myself back together.

Once up north, I stayed with my mother, picked out a casket, wrote stuff for the funeral. I hadn’t been in Red Bluff, California in more than twenty years. It was where Jaren was born.

Since Jaren’s dad did not object, it was decided that he would be buried where much of the family has gone, right beside my father in a lovely little cemetery in the foothills. I wandered the grounds for a while, talking to my son and hoping he was happy with the choices made for him.

I spent time with my mother and some dear old friends, and each night I went to my room alone knowing that there was more to do the next day, deciding again the time was not right to slip into grief.

There’s no doubt that I was afraid. Falling apart in an empty room seemed too much like standing on the edge of a dark precipice knowing no one was there to stop a leap, or to catch when I hit bottom.

So, I didn’t. And it got easier. Much easier to keep swallowing the pill instead of chewing the bitterness of it and experiencing all that nastiness.

Now, almost a year has passed and what I find is that through the process of getting good at keeping the pieces of my grief well separated, my whole bloody life is fragmented. I can no longer grasp big pictures, but only shards of here and there. When I find a sliver, I can gaze at it, examine it, ponder it, but I can’t see where it fits.

This doesn’t work so well.

And it seems bottom has hit me whether I jumped or not.

I’ve been told recently that I need to grieve, to move myself higher up my priority list, to start doing things that make me happy again. Okay. But how do I do that? (Writing has been suggested, and I’m feeling shitty enough to go with that thought, hence this post.)

It seems to take far too much energy to talk to people, to explain, so I shut down and stay home. If I lived somewhere else, I could join a support group or go into therapy, but those aren’t options here.

It’s so frustrating being this sad and not knowing how to grieve.

Some random thoughts …

On my facebook page this morning, a photo of Jaren posted by his friend Francisco under the heading: He’s still here. In the photo, he’s playing the guitar that now sits downstairs in my office hopefully protected from this climate by the case on which he had written in duct tape, “No talent”.

I started crying one day, and Cj said to me: “Mommy, you’re sad. Did Jaren die again?”

When Ernesto is here I feel better … or maybe I’m just diverted … but he’s not now, and it’s worrying that I’m so crap at being alone.

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Still tickin' over ...

I have some deep contemplation to do today … some evaluating, some appreciating, a few James Stewart “It’s a Wonderful Life” moments to ponder … so if I’m pensive, there’s a reason.

Tomorrow, you see, will be my eleventh Not Dead Day.

Eleven years ago today, I was in Singapore enjoying day two of the first holiday I’d taken in years. There were plans to visit the zoo in the afternoon, but the morning was to be passed in the company of a cardiologist who could evaluate my meds and send me back to Seychelles knowing that I was on the right track pharmacologically.

That was the theory.

In reality, however, my quick consultation morphed into a series of tests my body failed miserably, and instead of sharing a banana with my favorite orang utan in Singapore, I was admitted to Mt. Elizabeth Hospital and prepped for an angiogram.

What was discovered during that less-than-pleasant procedure was a blockage in my left descending coronary artery, and what I was told, as I was shifted from gurney to bed with the admonishment that assuming any position but flat on by back could be fatal was:

You have between one and thirty days to live … unless we perform coronary bypass surgery immediately.

So, the next morning they did exactly that.

Mark was there, and spent the time before surgery praying to the wide range of gods on offer in this Asian city; the Buddha of Four Faces in Bugis Street got many oranges and joss sticks that night, which is why one representation graces my house to this day.

The now-ex sent his offerings up with the request that cracking open my chest and tinkering with my heart would give me another ten years. (He now says he should have wished for eight … )

It’s been eleven, so I’ve been swimming in gravy.

There’s something about being able to put a date to the time you might have died that lends itself to mental wandering down that path that leads from then to now, and a lot happens in eleven years.

Had I gone then, I would have died a happy, content woman, secure in home and hearth, loved and cared for, with two grown children and a mother and brothers who’d have grieved the loss of me along with many dear friends.

Apparently, however, the lessons weren’t over.

Of course, Sam and Cj are the biggest bonus my extra years gifted. Missing out on them would have been a loss too huge to let myself consider. I would also have missed my granddaughter … the beautiful bit of my mitochondrial DNA that marches forth in time.

I’ve written a few words over these years that may resonate for a while, and somewhere in the big book of my life those count for something.

And I’ve had many amazing moments, and since life is nothing but a series of moments I’m grateful for each brilliant spark illuminating an hour or a minute or a day.

I have no idea when my last moment will come, but having scored the millions played out since my bypass I’ll not be too disappointed when it does.

Death is a door, and when I do pass through there will be no shortage of people I’ll be happy to see again, and hanging around waiting for others to join … as is inevitable … won’t be a lonely endeavor.

So … while you can … wish me a happy Not Dead Day as you enjoy your moments.

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With as much objectivity as my ex-husband’s trashy paramour would have conducting a study of his honor, and with all the credibility of the Catholic church investigating sex abuse of children, the UN has commissioned a review of “the workings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)”.

Fox? Henhouse?

Well … if follow the money rings a bell, this might lead thinking minds in certain directions:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the leading body for the assessment of climate change, established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic consequences.

Those who consider the UN above all suspicion of self-gratification might not think this the giant circle jerk that my brain conjures, but, although a contradiction in terms, the impotence of the organization would indicate that what will cum of this “review” will be little more than a useless sticky mess that doesn’t clean up after itself.

… rather like my ex and the Pope.

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Seeing as how it’s a Monday and all, it seems a good idea to start this week off without kvetching about all the crap going on in the world, but rather spend some time amusing myself … and maybe you.

Always a good first stop is the alternative news entertainingly offered up in layers, and when The Onion disses my bro, it’s even better.

Some are forgiven for not getting the ribbing here, since the story is not at all outrageous if you know him …

“We were told to come over for a late brunch, but as soon as he answered the door in his tanker helmet, I knew we’d be playing World War II with him again,” said Howard, adding that he realized he was in for the full treatment when he glimpsed Martin Short and Bruce Springsteen standing at attention in the foyer. “I suggested maybe having some coffee or a muffin first, but he stared at me and said that I was a private and should just follow orders.”

Having wet myself with this taste of what could easily morph into an urban myth the likes of Richard Gere’s gerbil, I move along to Snopes, where a bit of a bloggy quiz pops into mind.

Which of the following is true:

1) The penis of gangster John Dillinger is on display at the Smithsonian

2) The band 10cc was so named because the term represents the amount of semen in an average ejcaulation

3) A man stapled his scrotum back together after slicing it open while masturbating with shop machinery

4) The size of a man’s nose, hands or feet is a reliable indicator of the size of his penis

Take your time.

If you picked number three, you’re probably as grossed out as I am by the fact that this is a real happening, although, if you’re in the same sort of Monday mood, you won’t be too shocked by the stupidity exhibited by some.

Here’s part of the doctor’s report, which comes will an illustration:

An unmarried loner, he usually didn’t leave the machine shop at lunchtime with his co-workers. Finding himself alone, he had begun the regular practice of masturbating by holding his penis against the canvas drive-belt of a large floor-based piece of running machinery. One day, as he approached orgasm, he lost his concentration and leaned too close to the belt. When his scrotum suddenly became caught between the pulley wheel and the drive-belt, he was thrown into the air and landed a few feet away. Unaware that he had lost his left testis, and perhaps too stunned to felt much pain, he stapled the wound closed and resumed work. I can only assume he abandoned this method of self-gratification.

I’m betting the guy only claimed to be an “unmarried loner” in an effort to save a lifetime of grief from his wife.

So starts the week …

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There are some who might accuse me of Pope-bashing or, at least, hammering the Catholics … shall we say? … mercilessly.

Well … yeah. But they started it.

All those centuries of burnings and beatings and such rather set a precedent for showing no mercy, and, gee, all I do is give a tongue lashing, and like Blacks can use the “N” word, girls who grew up in the bat-like shadow of Sister Mary Stanislaus and her ilk have license to lash.

Yes, I was a Catholic girl, although I didn’t start that much too late, and had my share of rotten treatment at the hands of black-clad despots, so bear with me.

This story raises a host of ghosts, and we ain’t talking little white bread dots.

… current research and expert opinion suggest that men within the Catholic Church may be no more likely than others to abuse, and that the prevalence of abuse by priests has fallen sharply in the last 20-30 years.

How’s that for missing more than one point in one go?

First, let’s look at the “research” … and feel free to note my bolding of type and call it hammering if you like:

The best-known study on sex abuse by Catholic priests was published in the US, by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Commissioned by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops

Well, grab my head and stick it down a baptismal font! That attribution drips.

Moving right along to more on the point-missing, how’s this?

“The real problem is an abuse of authority, the duty of care that pastors have to their flocks,” says the British historian, and former member of the Jesuit Catholic order, Michael Walsh.

“This has been abused and that is the greatest scandal – that’s what is systemic, rather than sex abuse.”

No, Father Michael … the real problem is that kids have been getting fucked by priests, and the fact that church dudes in big hats and dresses did everything in their vast powers to make sure nobody ever did a thing about it, and that tactics that guaranteed this were engrained into the fabric more clearly than the face on the Turin shroud, just made it more fun.

Trotting out stats is often a dodge, and here’s a classic case of the trots used to suggest that: “There is a big gap between the reality and the public debate … ”

Overall, from 2001-2010 the Vatican has considered sex abuse allegations concerning about 3,000 priests dating back up to 50 years, according to figures given last month by Monsignor Charles J Scicluna, who as the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice heads the office that investigates such cases.

Though the cases were spreading geographically, “the phenomenon itself is much reduced,” he said, noting that there are 400,000 priests worldwide.

Sorry, but the cases the Vatican “has considered about sex abuse allegations” hardly qualifies these numbers as hard data.

My favorite bit of gospel though is this line:

“Celibacy can indeed be a challenge but the vast majority of sexual abuse is not committed by celibates … “

I’ll be charitable and assume this means theoretical celibates …

There’s more, but I have kids to bathe, and if anyone tries to sprinkle them bashing and hammering will happen.

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Confession: I was a junkie.

No, I’m not talking drugs here … although given the decades I was misspending my youth I was far from circumspect, but that’s not what this post is about.

This is about news. I was hooked on it.

Starting in high school, I have written for newspapers, worked in TV newsrooms, yapped away on radio and made money keeping track of media coverage for companies, lawyers and folks whose babies won beauty contests. I’ve followed murder cases and exploding Fords, sticking 45-second clips onto reels that run for days … in the process stamping permanent images of mayhem to the inside of my eyelids.

For much of my adult life, mornings didn’t begin until the radio clicked on at about the same time the newspaper hit the doorstep, and my coffee always came with opinions.

Rehab for me was a small island in a big ocean a long way from everywhere else where there was one TV station that aired 5 minutes of news in English … didn’t matter, since I had no TV … and a newspaper that consisted of 8 pages. And … there’s no news on Sunday.

Cold turkey is ugly, and I suffered, right up to the time I shook the yoke of the constant flow of information on world happenings and it dawned on me that horrible shit can happen without me having to know about it.

I have learned to be a social imbiber of news, taking in what interests, educates or elucidates and allows me to participate in dialog with others likewise motivated to keep up with some of what is going on beyond the inside of our own front doors.

This being the case, this year’s Reporters Without Borders report listing “Forty predators of press freedom” has me tipsy enough to actually put a blog post together.

It’s a disturbing read:

There are 40 names on this year’s list of Predators of Press Freedom – 40 politicians, government officials, religious leaders, militias and criminal organisations that cannot stand the press, treat it as an enemy and directly attack journalists. They are powerful, dangerous, violent and above the law.

There are few surprises, as it doesn’t take an article addict to have the dope on regimes like those in North Korea and Burma and know that journalistic freedom doesn’t even blip on the radar of rights denied. Zimbabwe, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Cuba … ditto. Spain was a bit of a surprise, but that’s an ETA thing, apparently, like Italy’s issues with organized crime taking a toll on truth-telling in print or broadcast.

Personally, I’m not at all happy to see Mexico named as among the most dangerous countries for journalists, having had 62 killed in the last decade, and I’m happy Ernesto is a musician, not a reporter.

But back to my recovering news junkie status and how I’m dealing with this infusion of inclusion in the goings-on.

Strong arm tactics, murder, intimidation … yeah, yeah, yeah. Reporters will balls have dealt with this since Grag covered Yurk’s attempt to take over the cave by hiding the mammoth meat.

Quite frankly, all the predators described by RWB don’t scare me half as much as Fox News.

It’s not vicious attacks on reporters that will crumble the fourth estate to dust, but pretty people passing palatable pap to the people … the vapid to the vacuous.

Far more insidious and likely to put an end to journalism as we once knew it … Sarah Palin clothed as credible.

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