Mind the Gap–The One Hundred Percent

I remember the beginning of The Occupy Movement; first came the stories, little blurbs on the news. People started talking and it grew and grew and what started in a park in New York City spread like wildfire and many cities, one of them my town of Portland, Oregon joined in the protests.  It was new and exciting and no one could seem to know what to make of it.

I was stoked! I am a firm believer of Power to the People and all that. The whole movement had this air of fresh hopefulness. Looking back now I think I saw what I wanted to see; a grassroots effort leading to something big and changing the world. I admit that I am a sucker for that sort of thing.

However, I was not as exuberant about the methods of the movement which struck me as unsustainable. The entire concept of occupying didn’t sit well with me. I was cautious. I was afraid the fledgling movement would just make some noise, spiral out of control and then die on impact.

I wrote about the movement back then. I pleaded with the protestors in a series of posts, to be careful. I knew they needed a leader and I was hoping one would emerge…

To my dismay a leader did not step forward and the movement, like a chicken with its head cut off, ran around and around in circles making a huge mess and then just up and died. There seemed to be no clear goals or agenda, just occupying.

I visited the Portland camp a few times.  I remember the people there. The hopeful and the not so hopeful. The extremes of humanity.

I remember the friendly man in the tie dye who welcomed us to the occupation, I remember the art tent, and the free condom jar. I remember the makeshift kitchen and the line of hungry and grateful people.

I remember the teenage girl in white shorts and flip flops, hungry, dirty and cold eating a glazed twist like it was heaven. I wonder what happened to her? I wonder what happened to many of them. I remember their faces. I remember the despondent man in the wheelchair and the little old lady who screamed at us, and the boy with the fancy rat…

I remember the kind people who showed up with a giant urn of coffee and the woman and the little girl who were passing out homemade cookies with the tiny M & M’s.

I also remember the number of obviously homeless and mentally ill staying in the encampment. Many of them seemed to be there just to “make the scene”.  Most were not concerned with equality or social justice. Many just came for a hot meal, and who could blame them? Some came for a party.  It seemed many had nowhere else to go and were just taking advantage of the situation…

.

Did the movement accomplish anything beyond becoming a parody of itself? A messy and expensive one at that. The same conditions are present, nothing has changed, our problems have only deepened.

In my opinion one of the core reasons the movement did not meet its objectives is because it had no objectives except to occupy; to take, to seize public and private property in the name of protest and damn everyone else.

We need more togetherness in this world.

The movement alienated the very people whose support it needed; your average citizen. The responsible adult who has bills to pay, perhaps a family to take care of, a job to go to (if they are lucky.) Who has the time or inclination to sit all day in a park and “protest”?  I think frankly the whole thing scared and upset a lot of our citizens. To succeed a movement needs to be inclusive, it needs to bring people together, it needs to solve problems not create more.

Occupy Portland, October 21, 2011

The thoughtful voices calling out for fairness and equality, for rationality, were drowned out by the storm of senselessness the movement became. It became a circus and the media gave us all a front row seat.

The few who truly cared were striving for social change.  I think they may have been in a bit over their heads and for all their lofty ideals and ideas, the practicalities of life got in the way as they have a tendency to do.

Perhaps in all reality, all it was just a bunch of angry and frustrated people, not knowing what to do about being angry and frustrated.

It is easy to sit back and judge. To say it was all for not and that it was a complete and total disaster…but I don’t think it was all loss…

What can we learn from this?

If anything, The Occupy Movement showed us the ugly side of our society. It shed the light on just how many angry and desperate people there are and what they can and will do. It showcased the need for equality and justice and what happens when our safety net of social services gets pulled out from underneath us.

I think recent world events have helped put it all in perspective for me.  What we Americans deem important at the time can look puny in retrospect compared to what people in other countries have to endure. I think many of us, myself included, take our freedoms for granted.

Everyone wants, but no one is willing to work for it…it’s pass the buck, follow the crowd, don’t dare think for yourself and leave the mess for someone else to clean up.

They say revolutions can get messy, I will agree to that but revolutions bring change, The Occupy Movement in this country was no revolution–just a mess.

Life isn’t easy and our problems as a society cannot be solved easily. Our biggest strength as a nation, is our diversity. We live in a land of a million ideas and a million ways. This perspective makes us special and unique and this makes us strong. Whatever and however we solve our problems, and we will solve our problems, requires not just work but it requires…

We the people, by the people, for the people..

.  The Occupy Movement showed us something about ourselves, it showed that We The People are a force to be reckoned with. There is power in strong emotions including anger, but that energy needs direction. True change requires work from all of us.

All 100% of us.

…and this reminds me of a quote. The author is unknown, consider it your typical everyday citizen. It came from a piece of graffiti on The Berlin Wall, it was found and recorded after the fall of that famous wall.

“Many small people, who in many small places, can alter the face of the world.”

The dream is not over, only postponed.

Strawberryindigo.

Based on :Image:Peace Sign.svg, drawn with thi...

Much has happened since The Occupy Movement began….

‘Occupy’ costs U.S. cities at least $13M – USATODAY.com

Occupier’s Occupy woman’s home (citizenjournalistdotorg.wordpress.com)

Cameron Whitten from Occupy Portland to mayoral candidate to hunger strike (photo essay) (photos.oregonlive.com)

Occupy Portland Website (www.portlandoccupier.org)

We The People (strawberryindigo.wordpress.com)

Occupy What Next? (strawberryindigo.wordpress.com)

Occupy Standoff (https://strawberryindigo.wordpress.com)

Occupy Moves On (https://strawberryindigo.wordpress.com)

Occupy Portland, October 21, 2011

 What others are saying…

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This was written in response to The Weekly Writing Challenge put on by The Daily Post.

To participate in the challenge, tag your posts with “DPchallenge” or leave a link to your post in the comments. We will keep an eye on the tag and highlight the week’s best posts on Freshly Pressed each Friday.

This week’s theme: Mind The Gap: “As we revisit the events of Occupy Wall Street one year later, or cover the new happenings, some WordPress.com bloggers have begun speaking about what the Occupy Movement does or does not signify for them. For this week’s Mind the Gap, let us know: What does the Occupy Movement mean to you?”

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Dress me up weird Portland

Here I am in the middle of downtown Portland.  I am wandering around looking for interesting goings on to write about. Portland is a city that prides itself on being weird. Bumper stickers with the motto ” Keep Portland Weird” is plastered all over cars. People take this to heart around here. That is one of the aspects of Portland I enjoy the most.

So it is of relatively no surprise when I spy Robin. Yes, THAT one, Batman’s Robin. Well, it kind of looks like Robin, he’s got the costume except this guy is unshaven and dirty and is carrying a backpack.  He’s appears to be flying a sign asking for spare change.

I hear” Hey Robin!” from a passerby. Robin deftly and quite expertly flips the offender his middle finger, I begin to laugh and I try to snap a pic of the scene but the boy wonder is too quick for me and hides behind his sign by the time the flash goes off.

This is the sort of thing I came down here to find. The raw, the unusual, the sometime crazy but wild creativeness that is urban living. I have been witness to many strange scenes on the streets of Portland but never before have I purposely set out camera in tow to look for them.

I told my family I was going downtown for the excellent hubs of blatant consumerism that I have been known to frequent in the past. Little did they know I was setting out into the wilds of the urban jungle in search of a story, or a little adventure perhaps. At least I’d be getting some exercise and getting out of the house.

Robin was the first but certainly not the last person I saw in costume that afternoon.

It didn’t take long before I saw two others dressed up. I tried discreetly taking their picture which resulted in some not so good photos. I vowed to get a better shot next time. There seemed to be a theme going. People dressing up in costumes and just walking around going about their business like it was nothing.

I have to admit that I am probably a bit out of it. I am a middle-aged mom with two teenagers. I’m sure people have been walking around in costumes for years…” Where have you been lately?  You may ask. I don’t know… but I do know that it is a little strange, definitely Portland weird for sure and I like it. I not only like it….

I LOVE IT!!!

I am jealous. I instantly wish I had worn some sort of really hip and happening kind of outfit, avant garde, edgy and creative….something with bright colors…wings too and boots!

I have always liked to dress up since I was a wee one. At five I would sneak into my Mother’s closet and try on her dresses and put on her makeup. As I grew older I would continue the tradition. I have always had a flair for the dramatic and when you are 10½ or even 20½ it’s considered cute and when you are 42, it’s odd to say the least. I realize this and have confined my dressing up to the only socially acceptable day for this sort of thing: My favorite holiday, Halloween.

I have accepted his little “fact” of life and I’ve gone along with it; waiting patiently for Halloween to arrive so I can let all my dramatic weirdness come out.  I’ve made it no secret that I am a big kid at heart. I think engaging in a little fantasy and play is good for one’s psyche.  Some of us take this adult thing way too seriously. We need fun and some of us won’t admit it.

I say embrace your inner child and if it doesn’t hurt anyone…Go for it!  No matter what it is…..as long as you have fun and who care what anyone thinks? Make a total fool of yourself (it’s not officially fun unless you do.)

So in the tradition of The Power Puff Girls and Robin, Larpers and Furries, Comic-cons and “crazies” let’s dress up!

Damn convention and all that….I DARE YOU!  

…I will if you do…

HAVE A FUN DAY!

Strawberryindigo.

Garden Confessions

I have to admit something that I am not proud of and this is difficult for me to do.  I am somewhat ashamed but I have the need to confess…I am a nature lover.  I proclaim this in much of what I write. I cannot help but do this since I feel a profound connectedness to nature, I do.  I am a big advocate for the environment. I recycle, I reuse, I hug trees and all that….yes, I am a nature lover….. and I am a neglectful gardener.

For the past year really, I have barely done the bare minimum in my yard and it shows. My sanctuary, as I once called it, is getting ragged at the edges; weeds are popping up, left to seed, the grass has brown patches and the roses are wilty.

Queen Anne’s lace has taken over in the back and choked the life out of one of my favorites: a spectacular white swan coneflower, its creamy whiteness and dark brown centers stood in terrific contrast to the Black-eyed Susan. Now only the Susan remains; her bright yellow petals were being encroached by the fine white flowers of the over-zealous and jealous Queen Anne.  A wild and invasive royal who is apt to take over the whole kingdom. I have been digging out her bundled white roots but no matter how deep I dig there is always more.

Black Eyed Susan

I lament this. This is my fault. I am not only a neglectful gardener, I am a soft-hearted one who tends to let an unknown mystery plant grow and grow until I find, which I usually do that it is an invasive weed.  These science projects, so to speak have run rampant as I have not kept up my previous level of commitment.

The Hot Lips Salvia has grown leggy and the usually sensational Scarlet Daylillies never emerged due a growing shade from a behemoth of a hedge that has taken over the west side of the yard.

The hydrangea need pruning but the fuchsia has never looked better.  I am amazed at the resilience of nature; how it endures. How no matter how much we mere mortals try to have it our way, nature has hers in the end.

That being said, it would be foolish of me to fight what has been going on since before we know-it-all humans came on the scene. Nature has her checks and balances. It is a good system and insead of trying to buck that system I am going to try to mimic it as much as I can.

My plan is to plant mass quantities of White Sweet Asylum; a free-seeding, free-wheeling annual that’s ambitious and attracts a good number of various beneficial insects. The Queen and the Asylum will battle it out and hopefully, with some help from me, the Asylum will win out.

I am coming to the realization that I can use these priciples anywhere. The trick is to go with what already works. I have been reading up on the subject and plan on eventually taking out much of the grass and replacing it with native plants and edibles.

This will take a few seasons but I’m not in a hurry. I will document my progress and keep your posted.

For now I will try to stop cringing when I see the brown patchy grass and the wilted roses…and I’ll try to hold my head up high in the neighborhood. Having an unkempt weedy lawn doesn’t make me a bad person does it?  Hey, I can proudly say that we used less water this summer…conservation is important too!

Have a happy day!

Strawberryindigo.

(Note: all the above photos were taken last summer)

Weekly Writing Challenge: Stylish Imitation: Seuss to Shakespeare

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong  end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”
Dr. Seuss

I think my love affair with books and the written word started from the moment I held my first book in my chubby little hands.  They say you never quite get over your first love and my first happened to be the words and through them the imagination of the one and the only, Dr Seuss.

Theodor Seuss Geisel or Dr. Seuss as he was known, authored 46 children’s books and it was he that influenced me more than any one other writer.

Of course he didn’t write “The Great American novel”.  Most people wouldn’t use Dr. Seuss and great in the same sentence, but to me he was great.

The good doctor inspired me through his fantastic imagination and entertaining wordplay to become a lifetime reader and writer.  It was Seuss who said it was O.K. to be different and that it’s fun to embrace our own unique selves. It was he that allowed me to give childlike whimsy importance in my life.

It took me many years to realise this. As children grow to adolescents they tend to put away childish things. I was in a hurry to grow up and so The Doctor and his wonderful world of books sat on the shelf gathering dust until I had my own children and through their eyes I rediscovered his books all over again.  It has been only recently that I’ve noticed how infused with Seuss I really am.

It is a strange thing to admit but I am what I am and I really don’t mind if my sentences go on and on with lyrical rhyme and a rat-ta-tat patter…or how at times I will make up a word on the spot just for tricks. I have been known to repeat a word over and over because I like the effect. I enjoy thumbing my nose at convention. I think convention can be the killer of creativity and I try to steer clear.

I enjoy the sound of words, they way some roll off the tongue can be a thing of beauty. Other words have a certain look to the letters; a dotting of an “i” and the crossing of a “t” in just the right place can be visually appealing.  Words are like spices to me; an almost infinite selection of different flavors and tastes. Some words can be quite melodic and burst onto the page in an explosion of color.

  In the lines of my writing I see Dr. Seuss and a smidgen Poe; I’d like to think perhaps a tiny bit of Shakespeare with a twist of Lennon. There are many contributors and I have benefitted from them all. Books have given me the inspirational words of people such as Gandhi, The Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh.  Science fiction’s  Arthur C. Clarke, Piers Anthony and Philip K. Dick let me dream.  Jared Diamond, Brian Greene and Micheal Pollan have made me think.

I think I owe some sort of thanks to Seuss and others who have molded and shaped me as a writer and a person as well.  We are what we read and we read what we are. 

“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is more you-er than you!”
Dr. Seuss

What book(s) or author(s) have inspired you?  How have they influenced and shaped you as a writer? I would love to hear about it, let’s chat…

Strawberryindigo.

 

Weekly Writing Challenge: Stylish Imitation (dailypost.wordpress.com)

How cool is this!

Change

“Nothing endures but change.”

Heraclitus

I feel the change in the air. I can see it in the golden light of the morning sun. I can hear it in the insistence of the caws of crows. Sunny the Calico runs back and forth across the lawn. I think she can sense it too; there is a certain energy to this day.

The wind picks up and shakes the tall pines that frame the yard. The deep purple Asters have begun to bloom and complement quite nicely the bright yellow Susans.

I spy a white butterfly. It is Cabbage White, I believe. It is a flurry of activity and is much too quick for me to identify it by the tale-tell spots on its white wings. It flutters around before stopping by some phlox and then heads to a popular spot for butterflies; the Buddleia or otherwise known as, what else: A butterfly bush. This magnificent plant is heavy in nectar and butterflies as well as hummingbirds and bees are attracted to it’s heady scent…it calls to them like moths to a flame…so irresistable.

It is hard to believe that it is September already. This past summer has seemed to just fly by. I look at my poor neglected lawn; shaggy around the edges, brown spotted and weedy. I admit I have let it go this past year. I have found different priorities and a perfect lawn stopped being one of them.

I have learned to enjoy my garden more and work in it less. I have accepted a certain amount of naturalness and with it some untidiness. It seems the birds and the bees and the cats…. and the dragonflies don’t seem to mind.

I mention this as a big greenish dragonfly circles over my head, high in the air. What a magnificent creature. I marvel at it’s speed and agility. I sit under the beautiful green Laurel tree, a tree I planted when my son was in the first grade. It stands tall just as he does now.  He’s a senior in high school this year. Oh my, how time flies.

The breeze plays a melodic tune on the chimes in the tree as the wind picks up again. I remind myself to enjoy this time; in a few months time it will be cold again and I will watch from the back window making plans for the coming spring and wishing I could sit under the tree and watch the butterflies as I am now.

A chickadee stops and sings its namesake song: “Chickadee-dee-dee-dee” to me atop the fence. Mario comes in very slowly from behind the fuchsia, creeping through the grass on his way to the little black headed bird. The bird is much too fast for Mario and flies away.  He acknowledges me with his customary ‘”silent mew”, sits down and together under the laurel tree, the cat and I watch the seasons change.

 

Weekly Writing Challenge: A few of my favorite THINGS

“We see things not as they are.

We see things as we are.”

The Talmud

Old and Unwanted Things

Here I am at the local dump amongst old unwanted things. The place reeks of decay.  It is quite the surreal scene and there is much action going on. People dumping this thing and that. Workers busily compacting it all; pushing it aside for the next dumpload. I am here with my sister. We have reached that stage in life when you end up going through and cleaning out your parent’s stuff.  It is a strange and bittersweet task that most of us will experience in our lives at one time or another.

We have a truckload of old junky things from the garage, nothing too sentimental or important; those things will come later, for now it is this.  My sister is a wonder of a worker and she immediately gets busy throwing things onto our assigned section of a giant junk pile.

The Joy of Destroy

This is only my second time here but I have begun to enjoy it. Yes, it is loud and stinky and full of garbage that the birds fight over. It’s not those parts I enjoy. It’s the throwing out of things. It is a terrific stress reliever and its a lot of fun. I love to take an item; a thing…whatever it is; an old wooden chair, a mangled wicker basket, an ugly old lamp, whatever. I throw it in rather haphazardly with thump and a crash and sometimes a dull deep satisfying thud into a pile full of other people’s junk. I am not a violent person but I do admit this act of throwing things out is exhilarating and liberating too.  At times it can be fun to break things…the sound, the feeling, the energy emitting from the very act. Molecules crashing into each other. My whole body shakes as I release piles and piles of pent-up stress and anxiety.

It is a rather freeing experience. All our lives we are taught to value and treasure things. It’s a bad thing to break them. Things are valuable.  At one time someone paid good money for all this stuff; these very things that litter this gigantic open air warehouse which sits on the industrial end of the city. Now these things are unwanted junk and it feels good to destroy them.

I start to feel good. The sun is out. It is a nice day and I start to forget why I’m here.

Reflection

This is a freeing experience but it is also a reflective one; all the while that I’m releasing all this pent-up aggression I am also watching myself throw out pieces of my past: the old white chair that sat in my parents room. I used to like to sit there, sing songs and talk to my Mom about all kinds of things when I was small about 5 and 6. It reminds me of those times…there goes my Dad’s old metal desk with a massive ka-boom!  I remember the drawers being filled with pens and rubber bands. I remember him sitting there writing, stapling things. I recall the smell that his adding machine would give off when he used it. It seems like almost yesterday…there goes that ugly green lamp. It used to sit in the living room of the old house. I always hated that lamp, now I think I might miss it. It’s strange. All of a sudden I feel like taking it all back; the desk, the chair, the lamp.  “I can save these things. I can fix them.”  My thoughts race. I never put much stock in these things before but now, now as I watch these pieces of my past, these things and they are just things…as I watch myself throw them out one by one…I realise these are moments I’m tossing out, moments with loved ones that I’ll never get back.  Now quite unexpectedly these things; these old pieces of junk have gained significance to me.

I admit I was tempted to keep some of that old junk but I didn’t. I couldn’t but I did keep something; I noticed it when we first got here. I had almost stepped on it.  It is an odd thing to see at a place like this.  A photo of a smiling and happy family. I don’t know who they are but it strikes me as lonely thing…this orphaned photo. Someone’s memories laid out there. Left behind. For some reason it made me feel better to snap a photo of it. To me, it’s like in some small way these people, whoever they are won’t be completely forgotten.

My Favorite Things

Since that day I have taken inventory of all the things I treasure most in the world ( my favorite things) and I’ve discovered that not one of them hold any real monetary value. These things I hold so dear, are representations of moments but it goes beyond that; to me, it’s as if a tiny drop of essence of the owner is left behind in the object. I can almost feel it. At least it makes me feel good to think I can.

One of my most recent treasured objects is a Buddha statue. It was my Dad’s. It sits on my nightstand. Whenever I look at it with it’s happy smiling expression, I think of him and I smile back.That feeling is priceless and could never be replaced by a million things.

Strawberryindigo.

Related articles:

Weekly Writing Challenge: A few of my favorite things (dailypost.wordpress.com)

Weekly Writing Challenge: A Few of My Favorite Things thepunktheory.wordpress.com)

Few of My Favorite Things (beebeesworld.wordpress.com)

Weekly Writing Challenge: A Few of My Favorite Things (sks-whatevs.com)

Weekly Writing Challenge: A Few of My Favorite Things (scrapydo.wordpress.com)

Fresh Quotes for September: PEOPLE

“O brave new world that has such people in it.”

**William Shakespeare**

“I think smart is sexy. I like smart people. People that are comfortable with themselves I think is very sexy. My cat is really sexy.”
Gina Gershon

“The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.”
―    Alfred Adler

Click pic to hear Mr. Rogers Garden of the Mind

“If people make fun of you, that probably means you’re doing something right.”
―    Evanescence

“I am the people-the mob-the crowd-the mass/Do you know that all the great work of the world is done through me?”

*Carl Sandburg*

“The less you mess with people, the better off people are.”

*Clint Eastwood*

“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

*Anne Frank*

“We hold the view that the people make the best judgement in the long run.”

*John F. Kennedy*

Click on pic to hear the song

“How does it feel to be
One of the beautiful people?”

*Lennon-McCartney*

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
―    Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Click on the Earth for “Imagine” video

Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.”

HAPPY SEPTEMBER!

Strawberryindigo.