Dita Parker

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Closing time

The last sunrise in two months has cleared the horizon in our northernmost towns. I can only imagine what it's like living in perpetual darkness broken by a fleeting twilight. I've seen some very atmospheric pics and those accustomed to it vow you get used to it, but I doubt I'd survive without the sun.

News broke that these parts have already seen a 2+ degrees temperature rise, courtesy of global warming. Winters are getting warmer and stormier, weather records keep breaking with flora and fauna trying to cope, some succeeding, some failing. Climate change rolls at a FF speed here in the Thule and since none of our known species existed the last time such rapid warming and changes occurred no one really knows what fate awaits them. Scientists speculate and it's not a happy outcome on all arenas. Some will go the way of the mammoth and become extinct, some will adapt and survive.

How blind we are to things happening right in front of us, but when you're in the thick of things and likely to be affected by changes in the status quo you tend to employ some motivated reasoning, maybe even denial. Belief and confirmation biases loom large and you'll always find information to support your views and opinions if you just dig deep enough. It may be your interpretation and your imagination at play but by God you'll have proof no expert can take away. Besides, everyone knows experts can be bought to interpret findings to suit any need.

But. Facts are still facts. Underlying truths are still underlying truths, bedrock to be uncovered and insanely hard to eradicate. You can cover them with muck and malarkey, coat them with lies, polish them using evasion and diversion while shirking responsibility and accountability and even succeed in your dastardly deeds for long periods of time. But not indefinitely. Because you're entitled to subjective views but you're not entitled to subjective facts and the fact is our species has made things worse for all species. Wars, storms, flooding, drought, famine and the unrest and migration that inevitably follows will make things worse still, so much worse before things gets better.

But we're not quitters, are we, sweetie darlings? We know it's never too late to mend! If it's man-made, it's mendable. It has to be. Or we'll go the way of the mammoth and you don't want that, but that's always an option, and Mother Nature will do just fine without us. It's we who depend on her, not the other way around. She may need our help cleaning house but if she sees none forthcoming she'll have no qualms showing us the door. Her way or the highway, folks! The choice is entirely ours.

Speaking of evasion, diversion, shirking responsibility and accountability: I'm still waiting on reversion of rights for my books with EC. Fact: I'll never write for them again. Underlying truth: I leave with a bad taste in my mouth. And when the ROR comes through and true? I don't know. Maybe I'll come across a siren server whose song I won't be able to resist but those are the opposite of freedom so right now the computer says No.

Self-publishing sounds more and more like serfdom. We talk about controlling our books, our careers, our fates, but the more you look into those services and servers the more disillusioned you feel. Or I feel. How do you feel? About Amazon and suchlike? I bet you're a happy buyer. Are you a happy seller, a happy author? Their template. Their playground. Their game. Their rules. What's the alternative, you ask? Good question. But not the one I'm asking. What I'm asking is are you satisfied with the service(s) provided? Are you?

I still write fiction but, more and more, writing is what dancing or drawing is: a reset button, a thing for moments when I'm alone with my head, alone with things that either need to be said and remembered or let out and forgotten. I'm violently glad I have more than one language, genre and sphere in my tool belt. Something doesn't work? Live and learn and move on. And I have.

And speaking of things I'm thankful for: She paid me a visit in dreams the other night, a dream where she stood under a bright yellow umbrella outside the kitchen window, smiling warm and wide, a ray of light in the rain. She waved and I waved back, she turned to leave and I couldn't follow. No pain. No tears. No pleas. Peace. Love. Hope.

That's what they are, the departed. They're like the dying light of the stars we track at night. Long dead but still transmitting. You know it's the past, you know that just like those stars they're not really there, that what you're seeing is no longer there. But they leave a trail, a long tail, a light for you to follow and remember them by.

The present? The present is a pressing matter. It's an emergency and I'm on call. Such is life, sweetie darlings; forever temporary, often arbitrary, but we had fun, didn't we, now we'll just have to have fun somewhere else. Sounds like an adventure. I'm always up for one. Coming along?

Last call! Join me for the parting glass? Can't leave and go home without one. Yes, I'm buying. So. What are you having? All set?

Here's to memories of the past and hopes for the future, to mistakes made and lessons learned.
Here's to Mother Nature and the Universe, to truth and consequences.
Here's to lovers and dreamers, to fighters and warriors of light.
Here's to the walking wounded, those shot through the soul.
Here's to authors and artists, to readers and keen listeners, to all of you with open hearts, eyes and minds.
Here's to fun and friendship, to passion and love.
Here's to courage and curiousness, to goodness and kindness.
Here's to health and happiness, to a long life and a quick death.
Here's to you, dearest denizens, wherever you are.

Cheers, saúde, santé, skål and sláinte, sweetie darlings. Joy be with you all!

Joy be with you all.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A midsummer night's dream

I dreamed I wrote a rather long and rambling essay on the economy, ecology and equality. Long because of the amounts of cause and effect and problems and solutions I managed to cram into that one piece, rambling because of the myriad associations, the links and bridges I managed to build. Full of pathos, I went from global warming to refugees to immigration, from nationalism to fascism to racism, from global trade to global warming and back to refugees again. My theory of everything.

Too bad I don't remember half of it but I do remember feeling a strange but strong sort of relief getting it all down in writing, as if I hadn't quite known what I thought on the subject before I wrote about it and had now laid down a burden, the anxiety that comes with the feeling you don't understand the world around you, the hows and whys, the implications, the consequences. In my dream I had managed to collect my thoughts, observations and opinions, arrange them in a well-structured manner and lay them out coherently and elegantly. (One can dream, right?)

He built this garden for us, they were called, my nocturnal notes, a slight but quite deliberate misquote of a Lenny Kravitz song, I presume, since I opened with a picture of our garden, a garden I gladly work on but one my husband has had a heavy hand in creating. So he doesn't bring me flowers every day. He built me a garden. I realized this is the longest I've stayed put, and not the least because of the garden that grows around me, a house that's like the tropics in the arctic, the peace and happiness I feel in both.

Who has the right to peace and happiness, or prosperity? On what terms? On whose terms? Who promised life would be easy, fair or happy, a man once asked when the question came up, a man who'd never suffered or struggled, who'd never been and never would be any type of minority, an outcast, disenfranchised, displaced, the underdog. No one had ever denied him, crossed him, belittled him, stomped on him or stood up to him. I understood his question. I just don't think he did. I don't think he gave a second thought to where his wealth came from, to whom or what he owed it to.

Taking a close, critical, honest look at most anything usually makes you focus on the flaws and the problems in something, then promptly sign up for a transcendental meditation class, learn mindfulness, go buy one of those adult coloring books, whatever takes your mind off the fact the world is a pretty fucked up place getting worse by the second, now that you really look at it and think about it, so better not look too closely, better concentrate on things closer to home such as you, yourself and, well, you, Jon Lajoie was right: Fuck Everything. Wait, what?

One of my university professors believed cultures evolved in cycles, all cultures following the same cycle but at a different pace. All clashes between nations, cultures, creeds and even individuals stemmed from our conflicting values and views, our place on the cycle, and our need to impose those values and views, our will, on others. I've seen such forces in action, determinism, relativism and entitlement at its worst. I've seen evidence to the contrary, kindness and compassion and selflessness at its best.

Maybe authors and artists can't change the world but they show us what it's like to live in it, what it feels like to be human, living under the same sun and moon but very different stars.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Into the woods

Spring! Jumping the gun since 2014, because it came early, just like it did last year. I don't mind, oh not at all. Since we didn't have much of a winter, might as well get started on the next season. I've been soaking up the light during the day and marveling at the skies, the Milky Way and the constellations every clear, cool evening. You don't need NASA or ESA or any other SA to travel into space, I managed to catch the Galilean moons, with frickin' binoculars! The week before last the sun kept breaking through the darkness, the solar storm painting the sky with colors we don't often get to see in these southern parts of the Thule.

The streets and roads are dusty, all the sand and gravel the city has sown to keep us upright on the slippery pavements still waiting to be washed off and brushed aside. You can't take a longer walk without coming back with a cough and the taste and feel of sandblasted teeth. So I head for the forest, so very thankful we live on the fringe of a sizable one. It's still not very fragrant, my green cathedral, but it is coming to life, migratory birds catching up with the locals, squirrels and hares shedding their winter coats and colors, the first brave flowers lifting their chins to the spring chill.

Chloe the cat loves all the action outside our windows. She's growing fast, as babies do, and she's turned out to be quite a gentle soul, even when excited. She had no scruples first toying with then catching and swiftly eating a moth that had the misfortune of ending up indoors with the firewood, but she is always careful with us and if I've gotten a scratch or two, well, that's what you get for being a slow cumbersome human and not a fast flexible feline. She gets up with the birds, as babies do, and I'm wondering OK dreading whether we'll sleep at all around Midsummer. Must remember to clear calendar on and around Midsummer, just in case.

Not that far off, summer in this hemisphere. Well, it ain't, just count the weeks! We have no grand plans this year, we did quite a tour in 2014. We're saving up for something we hope to do next winter. We've also been putting off a family trip to the States, quite content to play host to people visiting us, that it's grown into a big production, way too big. So many people to visit, family and friends, so many places to see, new sceneries and old favorites. Anybody know the winning numbers to the lottery? Whichever lottery. Willing to share, by any chance? We have no problem traveling on a budget, you keep the rest, deal? OK, you know where to find me!

But where have I hidden my books? I almost hid the whole blog when Google kindly, curtly, and using very vague language, terms and conditions informed me that my at times sexually explicit self is uninvited to the Blogger party. OK. Their party, their guest list, got it, thanks.

And I get what they're trying to do, what they've been doing for years, but their latest move reminds me of a 11th or was it 12th century Pope who sent out Crusaders to purge a city, or was it a citadel. They asked him how would they know the Christians from the infidels. "Kill them all," the Pope said. "God will sort them out."

      All my pretty ones?
      Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
      What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
      At one fell swoop?

A lot of balanced, healthy, and much-needed!, sex-positive material was about to become invisible, blogs and people trying to do exactly what Google is trying to do except I'm no longer sure Google knows what they're doing and who elected them sheriff anyway and yeah their party their choice but have they thought this through come on OK my frustration is showing but seriously. And then they took it back. Asshat waving, admitted that perhaps sex, sexuality, nudity, and pictures and talk thereof, are a part of human existence and the human experience and personal expression, and not always in some sordid, pathological or exploitative way.

I have no faith they would have been a wise, discerning judge. I think they would have been more along the lines of that 11th or was it 12th century Pope, just to be on the safe side. Let someone else sort us out. So I got ready to  take my at times sexually explicit self somewhere else. But then they took it back. And you know what I felt? Relief? In part, sure. But I also felt...effete. I was getting ready to leave the party and what do they do? Open the open bar! Where are you going? Stay, have a drink, have two, look at all the lovely people here, don't you want to stay and chat? And I felt like saying no. Like saying that I'm exhausted and ready to go home, that I don't want your drinks, I don't know what's in them, that I can no longer stomach all the double-dealing on the dance floor, the backbiting in the ladies', all the bullshit, that this party was supposed to be fun, not another battlefield, I'm all stocked up on those and that's where I'm needed, and if you need me, you know where to find me.

Haven't stopped feeling that way since, which I guess is all the evidence you or I need that maybe it's closing time, time for the parting glass. Not a farewell-forever glass, I'm not going anywhere, but a closing-this-den toast. And relocating where, when? I'm not sure. I think I need some more forages in the forest before I decide, then perhaps some more stargazing, if it's not too cloudy. (I caught the solar eclipse through a haze, the sun morphing into a crescent moon. Magic.)

Those woods and mother nature, the skies and the universe, they show you the true perspective of things. At least that's what they've shown me. I want to look and listen closer still, see and hear what they are trying to teach me. Don't know exactly what I expect to find but I do know what I see and feel, stepping into the woods or lifting my chin to the spring chill and the constellations, knowing I'm made of the same stuff they are: serenity and simplicity, urgency and infinity; elated and solemn at the same time. Filled with a sense of wonder. A sense of wonder. Magic.

[F]rom so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.  (C. Darwin)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Be kind, rewind

'Tis the season to be jolly... Well, it is, sweetie darlings, carnival season! Followed by lent, which is all about penance, abstinence, giving up, letting go. Of what? Carne vale means a farewell to meat but there are better ways to fast than a forty-day vegetarian streak.

What if we gave words a rest this lent? Spoke less, listened more. Wrote less, read more. Rich coming from someone whose livelihood depends on how one uses words and language? That's just it, dearest denizens. How do we use our voices? Are we all mouth and no ears? All busy fingers and blind eyes? It sure feels like it as you move around the World Wide Wildness.

And it is a jungle out there, isn't it, one where words and sentiments such as pity, remorse and mercy play but a bit part, so it seems. How easy it is to cut someone down. All you need is 140 carefully chosen characters. Or just brush them off with a swift swipe. Or round up some friends and go after them, pitchforks sharpened, torches a-blazing and scathing scythe at the ready. You'll never have to face them. You don't even know them. You know nothing about them, all you have is a personal opinion and your private soon public emotions and we are all entitled to ours, but that's as far as our entitlement extends, isn't it?

At least it should be. But we take freedoms in the jungle, and what a free-for-all it is, one where entitlement knows no bounds. I feel some David Bowie coming my way... Oh man! Look at those cavemen go / It's the freakiest show / Take a look at the lawman / Beating up the wrong guy / Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know / He's in the best selling show... All the world's a stage and everyone wants their fifteen minutes, and so what if someone gets hurt, bleeding hearts of the world: unite! 

No, I'm not saying some don't deserve a good tongue-lashing, but that's an art right up there with every other form of using and choosing language. Start screaming and the opposition will only scream louder to make sure it's heard. Hiss and curse, vilify and objectify, and the opposition will only come up with something lower and lewder. Silencing someone, or attempting to, is the surest way to draw attention to them.

No, I'm not saying that banning words or the ones who misuse them is the answer. Quite the opposite. Freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of opinion and the right to dissent are under constant attack all over the world, even in our parts. You know it's bad when your government, your government, starts distorting facts, suppressing truths, killing people based on metadata and attacking freedoms it has sworn to defend.

You know the end is nigh and that they're only getting started when they flash the for-your-own-protection card. I don't feel safe, I feel violated. I don't feel reassured, I feel hoodwinked. Utterly hoodwinked and disgustingly violated. The hubris. The hypocrisy! You want to rule the world you better listen to your subjects or else you're just another dictatorship.

There is nothing more dangerous than a freethinking human who refuses to be silenced. There is nothing more powerful than a freethinking person who demands to be heard. I hope that this carnival season, you celebrate your freedom and rights. And I hope that this lent, you honor your responsibilities.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Silenced by the night

A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.
~ Ludwig Wittgenstein