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April 28, 2005

Romantics & Republicans

as i was driving home today, i found myself behind an SUV. it had a total of three stickers with the Bush In ’04! theme, one sticker that said “United Against Terrorism,” and no less than four American flag-type things. one of those was a red, white, and blue licence plate frame that said “United We Stand.” within this frame, there was a vanity plate. it read: YEATS WB. now, unless Yeats W.B. is a junior Republican senator i’ve never heard of, i would assume this refers to The W.B. Yeats, as in William Butler Yeats, the great Irish poet, often called “The Last Romantic.”

i was a little intrigued, to say the least. not that you can’t like whatever poet you wish, but it really blew some stereotypes i had about flag-waving Republican SUV drivers. i mean, this is the guy who wrote “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” which speaks of a respect and love “in the deep heart’s core” for nature and its beauty, even while “stand[ing] on the roadway, or on the pavements grey.” i doubt he’d support oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. i wonder what this man, who was so “weary of the world’s empires,” would think of the “unknown perishing armies” that are still fighting for an elusive peace -- or something -- in the Middle East. and when he asked “was there ever dog that praised his fleas?”, could he have imagined this current administration?

if he did, he probably wouldn’t have liked it. actually, it probably wouldn’t have liked him much either, being the anti-establishment rabble-loving guy he was. a police report once described Yeats as "more or less revolutionary," which was a rather bland way of saying he was a major figure in the Irish Nationalist movement, and supported rebellion against English dominance. ah, but wait! he did have a brief flirtation with fascism... well, never mind. draw your own conclusions.

in any case, i realised i was being quite snobby: it really surprised me that someone who so proudly advertises such political leanings would also love ol’ W.B. so much that they’d spend a chunk of change on a vanity plate in homage to him. it is entirely unfair of me to assume that right-leaning SUV owners are not moved by the gorgeous lyricism of Yeats’ work. it should be enough to inspire anybody.

come to think of it, i bet that driver loves Rumsfeld’s best-selling existential poetry, too.

Posted by hadashi at 6:47 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2005

egg skills

today i watched a girl make breakfasts. i was at one of those locally-owned food places, you know, the kind that have taken over an old Taco Bell building and now have signs in the window that say "breakfast all day $2.99!" and "1/4 burger fries med drink $3.29!" this girl had skills -- every move was clean and efficient. she took orders, made pancakes, fried hash browns to a perfect crisp, and even had this way of putting to-go orders into plastic bags so that everything just slid right in. i was especially fascinated by her technique of breaking eggs -- one hand, one crack, right into the mixing bowl. me, when i make anything involving eggs, it takes all two of my hands and the egg never seems to crack right; it's either too small a break or shell pieces end up in my bowl.

as i paid for my breakfast burrito, i asked her about her egg skills. "oh!" she said, laughing, "i just do it so much now i don't even think about it." "so you've always been a smooth one-handed egg breaker?" i inquired. "oh no! you wouldn't believe how many eggs i destroyed when i first started," she told me. "i had to really watch the owner do it to figure it out. even then, i still crushed so many eggs! you wouldn't believe it! but now i guess i am very good at it." as she said this, she looked almost shy, even surprised. i hope she now thinks of herself as the Supreme Mad Skills One-Handed Egg-Breaking Queen. or something like that. she should.

now i'm thinking about what my one-handed egg-cracking Life Equivalents might be, from two angles. first, what is it that i do so often, so swiftly, that it's become an unconscious skill? i'm going to start small here and say that when it comes to preparing coffee in the morning while still semi-comatose, i amaze myself. watch me simultaneously fold an unbleached cone coffee filter while grinding my fair trade coffee beans (i'm just proving my coffee creds to you coffee purists out there)-- all without doing injury to myself -- and you will be amazed too. but seriously, there are more important egg reflexes to have. like simply letting a car into my lane when it's actually using its turn signal, or picking up the phone to call someone when i say i will. or even genuinely smiling at the Trader Joe's checkout girl because i really am thankful she just fit all my unbleached filters and fair trade coffee into one bag like i asked even though i'm in a hurry and have a million things to do and need to get going thank you very much.

you see, the other angle is a bit harder: what eggs am i currently destroying? what do i need to give more observation and practice to so that what i'm now screwing up i will later be able to do with grace and ease? this one is uncomfortable; while there are plenty of things that fit into the Successful Egg category, i can think of more that are still stuck in the Smashed Eggs one. but at least now i have some perspective: if i choose to keep scooping those dang shell fragments out of the messy bowl and continue trying, then maybe i won't even notice when i can smoothly do the one-handed crack.


Posted by hadashi at 9:12 AM | Comments (4)

April 11, 2005

springtime

it's hard to believe a week has already flown by since returning from Ethiopia, where i was sleeping on the ground in a flimsy tent. well, not exactly sleeping, since between the nightly angry donkey party caused by the herd that was "dropped off for a few days" outside our production enclosure, and constant vigilance for deadly snorpions, i don't think i really slept too much. i woke up this morning in my own bed after a solid night's sleep, and realised i was pleasantly warm (as opposed to sweating profusely) and nicely clean from last night's shower. even though i've camped and travelled quite a bit, i still think i've taken these sensations for granted, as if it were my right to be able to shower at will and have a clean, safe bed. i had to voluntarily forfeit these things to appreciate what millions of people involuntarily don't have. yesterday my neighbour & i worked on getting our community garden ready for springtime, cleaning and pruning and repotting. i should be doing the same with my soul/brain/life space, and perhaps cultivating gratitude in everyday things is a good start.

Posted by hadashi at 7:47 AM | Comments (0)

April 4, 2005

i'm back...

kids.jpg

...from possibly the hardest job i've ever done, and quite possibly one of the best.

Ethiopia was harsh, yet incredibly beautiful. it demanded a lot, but gave me more than i could have hoped.

hopefully i'll find some time in the days to come to give a glimpse of the adventure. first i need to open all the mail, read the (literally) hundreds of e-mails, and do my taxes. sigh.

in case you were wondering, the honey was very much appreciated.

Posted by hadashi at 1:34 PM | Comments (0)