Thursday, August 28, 2008

An interesting exchange

It started with a link my SIL sent to the members of my family:,15202,164859_1.000.html It's an op-ed written to a military affairs news site, by a man who had served with John McCain in the Navy. The piece explains why he will not vote for McCain. The author is an activist in the group Veterans For Peace.

My father responded:

This opinion is one of many. Some pro and some con. The writer has every right to it. However, it does sound a little like one who is jealous of the successes. For example, the passage on how McCain is only one of thousands of heroes. Everyone has a right to join whatever group they choose. Veterans for Peace is an honest, if mistaken, organization. Freedom is not free. It is paid for by the blood of thousands of "heroes" . And if the payment is not made, freedom will be lost.

In general when my father makes these sort of cliched remarks I let them stand and pass. They seem indicative of a stance that the remark is only the tip of the iceberg. To tug at that thread threatens to pull up everything that's ever been dropped into the pond. For some reason this day I chose differently and sent this message to the group:

When you say that Veterans for Peace is 'mistaken' and then say 'Freedom is not free' it makes me wonder what you mean by 'mistaken'. Do they believe that freedom is free? Or do they believe that each of the lives of these heroes is precious and should be spent with only the greatest of care and grave consideration? Is digging a hole and then having to expend lives and treasure to repair the damage a responsible expenditure?

Our freedom is as much at risk from within as from external enemies. I've been troubled by the quiet ways that George Bush and Dick Cheney have increased executive power, and the way they've done it. It appears to me that their means and rationale have been dubious and don't pass the smell test. I'm curious about the people who say we're defending our Freedom and then in the next breath say we should surrender our civil liberties in the name of security. They don't seem to realize the internal contradiction.

The increased power the executive has taken to itself isn't limited to a Republican administration. I was just reading an article about how neither presidential candidate has clearly renounced the increased power Bush has taken for the presidency. Our constitution is based on checks and balances among the three branches of government. I think that people who say that the president should have the power to overrule the other branches of government are saying that our republic is functional only during good times. I think that reveals a lack of faith in our democratic system that has endured for 232 years, both in times of peace and times of war.

Just my .02

At this point he responded to me privately, opting out of the group discussion:

Hi Debora,

As I understand Veterans for Peace, they believe peace at any nearly price is desirable. I do not. They also believe they are better suited to decide when (and if) to fight. I do not. That is why we elect a president and a congress. If we don't like their decisions, then unelect them next time. They have much more information than anyone else about the threat to our country and to our liberties. There are things for which I would fight and die if necessary although I dislike war about as much as anyone. As for the loss of civil liberties from President Bush and Vice-President Chaney, I have not noticed that I have lost any. By what means have they accomplished this piracy of our rights? The Patriot Act? It seems to me that Congress passed that bill. The interception of communications from foreign suspected terrorists to someone inside this country? It seems to me that to allow terrorists to communica te with each other in order to plan our murder is stupid. With all the "curtailment" of civil liberties, there has been not one major terrorist act in this country since 9/11, and it has not been for lack of attempts. Let's give some credit to those in authority who are charged with protecting the civilian population for this record. I do not want a "dirty" bomb or nuclear device to be exploded in a city in this country so that I can say my civil rights are not infringed. I am willing to be searched in an airport to ensure no one carries weapons on board. I am willing to make similar concessions to ensure detection and interdiction of plans to blow up the Lincoln Tunnel, the Golden Gate Bridge, etc.

I am sorry if I am a dinosaur. This is the greatest country in the world. I do trust our government to a large extent, even those who are not conservative. I think they want the best for the country even though they have some misguided positions, according to me. Please forgive me for my out dated and perhaps short sighted thinking.

The biggest threat to our country is the exploding National Debt, now around $9.5 TRILLION. President Bush shares some responsibility for this, but the Congress is the main problem. They consitutionally are the organization that approves the budget and authorizes the spending. We can defeat the terrorists, but I wonder if we can defeat the congressman who wants to get reelected so badly that he promises a "Bridge to Nowhere", as most of them have.

I love you all

I thought about this for a couple days and wrote:

Hi, finally getting back to you.

I half wonder if the 9.5 trillion dollar debt in a backward way is GOOD for American security: a great deal of that debt is to China, and I can't see that it would be in their best interests to go to war with a nation that owes them that kind of money! Their best interest is to have us working away.

I think the main threat to civil liberties comes from the executive branch of the government accumulating power to itself. Under steps that the Bush administration has taken it can and has declared American citizens to be unlawful combatants and therefore can be held indefinitely without charge or access to a lawyer. No, it hasn't happened to many Americans, but you can see the potential for abuse.

Under the Material Witness Law immediately after 9-11 at least 70 men were taken into custody without charge or access to lawyers. Most were kept for over 2 months, one for 6, and another for a year. Many were never brought before a grand jury to testify or were asked for information about ties to terrorists. This was through the Justice Dept, an executive agency.

We have been informed that the FBI is found to have mis-used it's power to issue National Security Letters and has accessed information about people with no remote connection to terrorism. The Pentagon and CIA have their own versions of national security letters (although recipients have the right to refuse; recipients of the FBI NSL do not) The Pentagon and CIA are both much more involved in domestic intelligence than ever historically. We know that peaceful groups, such as Quakers have been monitored and their names entered into data bases. Again these are the actions of the executive branch.

We also know that over 700,000 people have found themselves mistakenly on 'do not fly' lists with little recourse and that Americans' bank data is being electronically surveilled.

Though we have not (yet) been personally affected by these actions (at least, not that we know of) and so might be inclined to dismiss them it matters very much to the people who have been. And what makes our country great is that it has enshrined in our Constitution basic human rights for individuals. All individuals are entitled to being treated according to the rule of law. So if an individual is deprived of his/her civil rights for arbitrary reasons and no just cause, we are all at risk--and from the government that has sworn to protect those rights.

America is a great country. However, this greatness is undermined by its government when it doesn't live up to the high standard set by our Constitution. It's not America that's been 'hated' around the world--America is still loved. It's when it fails to live up to its ideals that it draws criticism.


To which I received a rather terse reply: (the subject line was "sorry")


I think you and I will have to agree to disagree on this subject. I don't know where you got your numbers, and I am not disputing them. I just have a hard time imagining the FBI or the Justice Department coming up on a completely innocent person on the street and saying "We are going to hold you for the next year, we are not going to give you access to legal council and you can't argue with us". Sorry, but if a guy like Padilla was detained for a time, he probably did something to cause it. At least we do agree that this is a great country.


I had kept some of the web pages open that I'd cited my statements from, and I considered sending him some sources. However, his email seems to be a pretty clear door-slam, no-more-discussion message.

There's an interesting division among conservatives. It seems there are some who want to 'conserve' the human rights (also known as 'freedoms' in this country) guaranteed by our Constitution. And there are conservatives who claim allegiance to "freedom" but they're really about loyalty and obedience to authority. I suppose they are the ones who don't see the internal contradiction between talking about 'fighting for our freedom' and in the next breath ridiculing someone who expresses concern about erosion of our civil liberties.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Peculiar Dry Period

The feeling of being scattered and not-quite-caught-up has persisted, and it's impacting my ability to write posts, and comment on other people's.

Maybe to break the logjam I'll post pictures of a desert (to mirror my inner state).

A synopsis of the trip:

We drove approx 1200 miles to Breckenridge, CO, for a family reunion. My father is the oldest of 3 kids, each born 7 years apart. My parents had two girls (one who died in 1988, and one yours truly) and twin sons. (I am the firstborn of the grandkids.) My father's younger sister had three daughters, (the oldest of whom is about 6 years younger than me) and their youngest brother never had children. He's about 9 years older than me.

Gary & I have 2 kids; my cousins have 5 sons and one daughter among them, one of my brothers has a daughter and a son, and my sister had had one daughter--the firstborn of the great-grandchildren of the grandparents my cousins and I share. So, 17 adults, 10 children, one house. One week, with some variation in duration to meet school and sports obligations.

It went quite well, all those personalities together. I was puzzled at how I seemed to naturally gravitate toward my aunt's family, much more than mine. There was just better chemistry there, and our conversation was spontaneous, very pleasurable (not forced, as with my parents and brothers), frequent, and frequently long.

We, Gary & our kids & I, left a day before the house needed to be vacated. Gary had ambitions to visit and re-visit some of the canyons and formations of southern Utah--we honeymooned there over 16 years ago.

First stop was Capitol Reef National Park, a very long, narrow, north-south oriented tract of land. In this portion of the trip I alone shot over 800 photos. Gary said it's a 'common mistake' with a digital camera. I suppose I epitomized that common mistake--everywhere I looked there was a picture. Obviously, this was shot while on the road.

There are petroglyphs here.

Next day we drove through an aspen forest and then onto the most amazing of roads. It's hwy 12 toward the town of Escalante, and it's like driving on the spine between beautiful canyons. At places the drop-off below us on either side is hundreds of feet. To the west we're tracking the Calf Creek drainage on its way to the Escalante River (on it's way to the Colorado). I'm not sure what creek drainage is to the east. There's a little BLM campground, just 13 sites, and we were lucky enough to get one.

We had to ford Calf Creek to get to it.

Then we went for a hike upstream to find the falls. Scott didn't feel well, so Gary took him back to camp. Connor and I pressed on.

And on and ended up here:
As I arranged the photographs the obvious metaphor dawned on me.

Pressing on.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Leave of Absence/Exerpts

Back from the 12-day road trip/family reunion and still playing catch-up. Feeling scattered and unconsolidated. Way behind in my blog list, since I was only rarely able to get online while gone. I'll post a proper post soon, but wondered if in the meantime I could post another early 2006 diary entry:


I wrote some more about this in a message to Valerie, so I’ll put it here:

Answering the question you asked me, at the start of your message ("What do

you think you can do about it?') was a good focusing point for me. I think
what I'm doing right now about it is having a conversation with myself (sort
of like the more pleasurable, but still rather stressful conversation I was
having with myself about x). In this conversation I'm clarifying the
dimensions of the situation I'm feeling stuck in. And I'm trying to find
the stamina to keep myself focused on this dilemma, because I think
sometimes if you hold 2 seemingly intractable ideas next to each other, that
an unforeseen way might open, just from the tension of those ideas. Make
any sense? Here's what I've come up with so far: The nature of my
dilemma--In order to be happy in a relationship, I need to have a means with
which to restore intimacy when there's a breach. I need to be able to name
my feelings about the breach, and I need to be able to discuss the breach
with the other person involved. I believe I have the skills to be able to
pull off this kind of intimacy + PROCESS for restoring intimacy. (For I am
being realistic in assuming that as long as there is more than one person
there will be potential for conflict, since we each have a blind spot about
what the other person is thinking, feeling, and wanting.)

Anyway, to get back to the Basic Situation: In order to be happy in
relationship I need to be able to communicate wants, needs, and feelings and
have a partner who does it too, as something *functional*, to keep things
cleaned up between us so intimacy can flow.

This is all very difficult when the other half of the partnership has no
skills at all in the area of communicating. I suppose I would say that I
need to have a partner who is able to cooperate with me in using words to
heal breaches in connection.

I don't have this in Gary. And it's very likely that I never will. So I'm
married to a man who not only doesn't have these skills, but reacts with
hostility when I use them.

That's the crux of this situation. I need something in a relationship that
is totally out of his nature and inclination to provide.

So it's an affront to him whenever I, no matter how respectfully, (And no
matter how reasonable the issue is, ask something of him, or point out
something to him. He also is passive aggressive and frequently acts or
speaks with hostility to get back at me for something that he's mad about
(but not saying)--and something that's not even related to the current

The by-product of that dynamic is that very often in our day-to-day moments,
out of the blue he will behave with animosity. It's often very quick--I
just know that all of a sudden I'm feeling kind of crummy, or a little angry
myself. And it comes down to being a result of something loaded in a moment
that Gary and I just participated in together.

There are 2 requirements for peace in that moment: one is that Gary simply
do whatever is required of him in that moment without slipping in a *zing*.
(That is, not behave with animosity in the first place.) The other thing
required is for me to not react.

This part has been, I think, the focus of counselors and the advice from
helping books--that is, that the only thing I can change in a partnership is
me, so I should be the one to change. That means that somehow I would have
to not feel the sting that he intends, and therefore be unaffected, and so
not feel that anger/hurt that comes as a response to an act of hostility.

And, I'm not sure that I can do that.

I can't see myself as being completely unaffected emotionally by this stuff
when he is just plain rude or disrespectful. I can't see myself being able
to let it pass, either, without insistence that I be treated well.

Anyway, this is all a long way of saying that what I want and what he is
able to give in a relationship seem to be mutually exclusive. For whatever
reasons, he's not up to what it would take to heal things between us. And
he is not able to maintain well-ness in a relationship through communication
and self-disclosure.

That's what I mean by the stuck place, and I'm trying to think of it as a
kind of crucible to see what comes of holding these contradictions next to
each other.

I sent that a little while ago and feel a bit vulnerable. Like maybe there’s some sort of fatal flaw in the way I view my situation that’s obvious to everyone but me.

I think I have a realistic handle on why Gary and I don’t get along. And what I’ve laid out here isn’t even the only deeply divisive issue that we have. It’s a big one, though: the fact that we as a couple are unable to communicate using words and use it functionally on even a basic level as a tool to maintain connection as well as heal rifts.

He seems to take the fact of a conflict very personally, and hold it against me when I’m open about a situation where there’s potentially conflict. Many people believe that it’s a deep affront to them if someone admits they’re less than happy with them. They believe that the right thing to do is to just put up with something someone’s doing that is having a less than positive impact on them. And that therefore there’s an agreement that neither of you will ever say anything that bothers you. Gary seems to come from that place—which means that any time I ask that something be different, that he takes it as an insult. And yet he feels constrained against talking about it with me and instead holds it against me. So he’s got years of resentment against me because I’ve always been honest about my feelings, even if they aren’t complimentary to him.

A little later—back from getting Scott:

I think what was worrying me, was a sense that maybe what I wrote to Valerie is over-dramatizing my situation, or being histrionic or something. That’s what I feel vulnerable to, being taken that way. That someone out side of me might see it that I’ve created this big drama and the intractable situation is just me being dramatic.


I'm painfully aware that 2 and a half years have passed since then and I basically could be saying the very same things now. With some variation in the level of hostility nothing has changed. I suppose it's time to make preparations , serious ones, for leaving this marriage. Looking over my financial assets, getting a handle on investments and that sort of thing. The biggest question mark for me is Scott's emotional state which I have an intuition is fragile.

That said, the vacation was largely positive and I'd like to post a few pictures once I put together a real post.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Provo, Utah

Heading back to Portland. If we can endure it, we'll be there late tonight. If not, sometime tomorrow.

More later.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Checked into a hotel tonight and came to visit my site, and saw that it makes no sense. I wondered if 'blogger' might have exercised its judgment and a little (deserved) censorship. Turns out in my efforts to euphemize I'd used this sign (<) in place of a certain (k). I guess I'd inadvertently used code and altered my text.

I hesitate to have the bad taste to clarify an obscenity, but it WAS an authentic sentiment, probably not the last time I'll have it (and certainly not the first). So I stand by it.

And I corrected the post below.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Road Trip

Today 5 driving hours.

I hate f#ck'n9 kids

10.5 driving hours tomorrow.


Do I get to keep the Arte y Pico award?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Awwwwww, Gee

Lori has given me this award! It's called Arte y Pico. I looked for a translation in google and got these.

Here are the rules: (from the Arte y Pico site itself)

1) You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award, creativity, design, interesting material, and also contrubutes to the blogger community, no matter of language.

2) Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3) Each award-winning, has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.

4) Award-winning and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of "Arte y pico"blog , so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5) To show these rules.

The original site is in Spanish. I'm still new to blogging, so I'm sure I could figure out a way to translate it, but it's 11:00 at night and I'm leaving on a major driving trip to Colorado tomorrow, so I'm going to plead laziness and not try to do that tonight.

Of course I have to give this award to knitter Mrs. Spit, since it looks as if a great deal of the award site is devoted to knitting (some of it to crocheting...and I'm not sure how much due to my language limitations. Maybe it's a crocheting which case is it an insult to give such an award to a knitter? Regardless, Mrs. Spit's site is a work of art from its web design to her stunning essays. Please go read her.)

And Doug is a natural, since his entire site is devoted to art. His photography and paintings are amazing.

Another knitter, artist and wordsmith is Maddy. I also recommend Mercurious, and Andrea.
Gee, I wish I could say something eloquent about the pleasure I get from reading their blogs, but my brain has just checked out. I really need to put it to bed.

Thanks, Lori. But you're my Cuz, you have to like me! (See you in a coupla days.)


From January 2006


Yow, that feeling is so strong, the feeling that time is slipping out of the hour glass. It makes me feel anxious to see anything but a huge swatch of untracked time ahead of me, and I start to feel anxious about its passing, almost immediately. Already it’s almost 1;30, a little over an hour before I go get Scott, and it feels so not-enough.

It occurs to me to tell the truth here—I mean, to summarize in writing what I see the truth of this situation as…to try and get it down into as bottom line, bedrock language as possible.

How I see my marriage to Gary, my relationship with his mother, my own family.

I guess start with me and Gary. I see us as not being very good partners for getting things done. And the bottomline issue underlying that, which makes it unrecoverable, is that we have no mechanism to talk about it. His default is to resent, and get back in passive aggressive ways later. What I need from him is for him to have the capacity to observe himself, take note in a moment that he’s upset about something, and say it respectfully. Not ACT it, in irritated disrespectful tone of voice, or eye-rolling…or in making a negative remark later, under his breath, as he’s passing me. Yes, it’s a hook, yes I suppose I’d be better not taking it—BUT WHO THE FUCK IS HE TO INTEND TO HOOK??? Doesn’t he have a responsibility as well, being the person who starts something? I think what I react to is the underlying discount, and dislike that would give him the permission to treat me that way. This is not the way one acts toward someone that is loved.

OK. So put us, in with those communication strictures, in a situation where we have to cooperate with each other, and communicate with each other—to have to use words to bridge a misunderstanding, to get understanding, and if necessary, healing. We can’t do it. Time and time again, from something as simple as getting ready for a camping trip, to child raising, if we cannot agree on something then we have no language to negotiate it. For me to even use words offends him. He feels harassed by them. He will do something negative, out of something that he’s mad at me about but hasn’t told me. I call him on it, and he tries to brush it off. He doesn’t acknowledge that he just did something hurtful, and often, unreasonable.

Here is a place where I can change my behavior. I can refuse to call him on it. Let it pass. Then the argument that comes from him stonewalling when I call him on it (and then stonewalling on THAT, layer upon layer) will not be born. It’s just that it seems SO WRONG that he do what he did that I’m not able to be silent.

So, basically we are a married couple with no tools at all for handling conflict. Well, I have tools, but I might as well not because I need him to have tools, too, for these conflicts to be able to be worked through healthily. But he goes to his default, each time. Clam up about something he’s angry about or wants a change about; show his anger in unrelated ways, later.

I was thinking about this in terms of Peter Kramer’s talking about “differentiation”. I was first thinking about what this means, his theory that couples seek someone who has a similar level of differentiation. I was thinking that that’s not true, in Gary’s and my case: I have the tools to communicate, work things through to resolution, and heal. Gary does not. In light of that I think that I have more differentiation than Gary. Then it occurs to me that the way I express my lack of differentiation is in being susceptible to the passive aggressive things Gary does and says. My being unable to let them pass.

I’ve got to think about that.

Another bottom line I see in our relationship is his capacity to deny that something is wrong. How terribly far he has to be pushed before he looks at his responsibility, before he takes action. And how he chooses inaction, consistently. Even when he says something like, “This year, I need to win back the boys’ respect and yours too (I’m not sure he said that)” he means it in the moment, but then puts it away. He accepts a tremendous amount of pain in his life-enormous losses (a viable sex life with me, respect of his children, love of his wife) by refusing to acknowledge that he’s in pain.

These two things, the inability to communicate and his unwillingness to face facts, are things I see as bedrock in our relationship and I’m thinking that it’s not possible to feel love in a relationship like that. Oh, you can do what my family does: You’re supposed to love your family. Therefore, you DO. That means that you don’t acknowledge the things that are painful between you. You don’t acknowledge when something isn’t working, because to give voice to that is to NOT love you. It is better to have the appearance of loving, the agreement of loving, then to have the underlying intimacy that love springs from. The trouble is, to get to the intimacy, people have to go through what they’ve been denying. It really is like the woman said in her book: “She couldn’t see. But she believed she could.”

And I know we can’t. But the willingness of my parents, and Gary, for that matter, to be able to face certain fears about themselves, and pain they’ve locked away…is very unlikely. So I have to love on THEIR terms: which is, don’t admit that there’s not really much intimacy basis for the love that is professed, don’t admit that things are wrong.

Perhaps Al anon really would be a good place for me.

My boys are suffering from living in a relationship like Gary’s and mine. Gary may want to do something about it, when he thinks about it or I bring it to his attention, but he doesn’t follow through. I can’t model a good back-and-forth-using-words-to-resolve-differences example when my partner in communication doesn’t have the tools. It’s like trying to dance with someone who absolutely can’t dance…but thinks he can.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Weekend Away

I spent the weekend at the beach, about 10 miles south of Newport, with a long-time friend I went to physical therapy school with.

There were 30 in our class. When we graduated I worked for a year in Long Beach in southern California. I lived in a household with 2 other women, 3 blocks from the beach. I had taken Serena's place; when she moved out I moved in.

The house didn't look quite this tricked out when I lived there in late 1978--1979. But it was a very happy time in my life.

I moved to Portland in late 1979. A few years later I was delighted when Serena moved up too, then with a husband and her 4 year old girl, and an infant daughter. When her husband finished medical school they moved out to the coast.

Serena is one of those people that I naturally gravitated toward. She is someone whose presence is restful, and I always feel inspired around her. In her presence ideas are catalyzed that nudge me toward the "getting warmer" feeling.

No matter how much time goes by this is the way it is with Serena.

I hadn't seen her in at least 12 years. And it was the same.

She'd had to leave to tend to her mother, so I arrived to a note and an unlocked door. I'm glad the house was empty, so I got to take in her surroundings. I think of her place as being an extension of herself--just her generosity of spirit overflowing and filling her house and then overflowing into her garden. The house was filled with light from the skylights, plants, and art. No matter where I looked my eye fell on something beautiful and intriguing. It was completely still, the quiet broken only by the scales of the wind chimes. I followed their sound to the back patio. I'd removed my shoes when I came in, but found a pair of thongs, so I put them on to walk the path that led through the many island beds she'd planted.

It was so beautiful I wanted to cry.

When she came home we walked on the beach. We talked for hours, awakening the next day to converse some more. Did I mention that I always feel enriched and replenished when we talk?

It was very hard to leave this space.

It is rare that I find it as replenishing to be in the company of another as I find in being alone.