Wednesday, April 27, 2005

So I went to see the Enron movie last night. There were lots of guys in that movie. It brings to mind hazing, cliques, the social power of a clique, maybe just power. Was I born with the power gene? I want to be in control of my life, in charge of other people even, but I'm not turned on by power, more like efficiency, doing things the right way.

Basically I felt slime all over me for a good while after the movie, because I know people like the traders in the movie, like those guys in charge, their little macho clique that took extreme sports trips to feed man egos or lack thereof. I could recognize so many people represented by those in the movie.

The film actually spoke to that. According to a study conducted during the 60s, half of us are evil, half of us will shock someone to the death as long as a credible authoritive entity tells us to follow its order again and again. We acquiesce to that authority, as long as it's perceived to be in the mainstream. How powerful is the mainstream? My god. I hope some little sociologists will post on this one.

So half of us will give in, and take the chance to sock it to granny in California, cut off her electricity and drive the price up over and over again because we can. We can do it. We can make a lot of money too. But mostly it's just fun, like playing a video game, and we get a power trip.

I feel suspicious of my friends. Which ones fall in the wrong fifty? Which ones will shock me to death? Jeepers.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

My mother tells me that when I was a baby I was happiest on her hip. She was my constant companion for two years, me contented to be held, to sleep next to her. I was quiet and good, so good she repeats. I take that to mean I didn't fuss, that more than anything I wanted to be connected this soft mommy body and hear sweet coos.

The tumult of my childhood began at seven. Two parents became three: aged twenty-six, thirty-two, and thirty-three. For my dad it was the end of the American dream; my step-mom was threatened; and mom was wiped out from living past her breaking point for years. I had big, beautiful front teeth like Bugs and fine hair, bright, wispy, and gold. My eyes were large and brown, like they are now. I was awfully freckly, and I was every adult's favorite girl, so good, so quiet.

I've been investigating some since coming back to Texas, not really with intention, just like you would turn over stones after coming back to a field you used to play in long ago.

This third drought (that I mentioned when I last wrote) was triggered by loss. It makes me say in response that I am good. A friend just gave me this exposition a few weeks ago--if you do good and contribute to the world, don't you get good things in return? With a hug on my face I just looked at her and nodded yes, when I knew very well that this is not true; it's not a point system where you work to get to the highest rung of the emotional sublime. But I am good.

I feel the loving eyes of my friends upon me, a little like their own stamina is taking a hit. I've been quieter; I haven't had a clue how to talk to most of them about what's been cutting off my air flow. It's those folds I was mentioning before.

It actually makes me go quite blank here. I'm getting closer, though. Perhaps I'm stunned by the most intimate kind of deceit, promises of a faithful friend left under a little stone in some old field. There were two people who knew, and now I'm the only one.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Ruth Ella Coward Schumacher

It's springtime in Texas, and tomorrow is my grandmother's birthday. Ruth Ella Coward Schumacher passed in August, 1996. She grew up in Illinois, roaming the outdoors, as did my mother, as did I. She had a baby brother, Willis, a mom, and a dad. But her dad, although quite tall and full of health, caught that awaful flu in 1919 and died when Grandmother was just five years old. Her mother had loved him deeply, not in a girlish way, but in a quiet swallow of meaning that spans one's life. She was twenty-five, a widow, with a five- and three-year old to take care of. She went to work for the telephone company as an operator.

Grandmother was green and gold floral, a double stitch, clothes on the line, wisteria, hummingbirds, and dimes in a dish. She taught me how to make things using my mind and my hands--to read a pattern, measure, press and sew; to carve ceramics using sandpaper, tiny tools, and brushes for dusting; to make intricate wreaths; and to roll hair in curlers, with some Rave solution for waves that would roll down your back. Her house smelled like eucalyptus leaves and antique wood. The floors creaked underneath the carpeted hallway where our ancestry hung. I would go there every summer to spend three weeks. We filled our time with projects and the mall, and she would send me home with new outfits and new skills. I felt completely capable in her presence. Her spirit wanted to take on any seeable notion. She house painted, hunched over her garden till sweat dripped; she wanted to do things herself, and I did too. I let her show me how. I listened carefully to her. She was happy. She loved me. She didn't worry. She was proud of me. Grandmother always knew what to do. She wasn't daunted by life.