Looking back and thinking forward

Month: March, 2008

Quote of the day (Update)

From Abby, a graduate student’s paper recently:

Whether you choose to write or go to counseling, they both are unique ways of being able to talk about things that are bothersome and have it finally be okay to do so … in order for people to heal they have to go beyond themselves and confront their pain head on because that is what allows you to live again

From Kevin, another graduate student, in class about Annie Lamott’s: Bird by Bird:

It stirred up emotion and emotion is what makes a good writer

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Early morning thoughts

An afternoon in New York


Two sisters …


In the rain …



Posing for the camera …



Rickshaw time! Cycling through the evening to Penn station, warm blanket over our knees …


A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Crashing to an authentic self



From across the seas.
Big sister Sue is back!
She made a special trip just to see me  … 

Family ties.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Becoming fit for life

Why do I write?

Preparing for class today, re-reading Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones. She has a chapter called, Why Do I Write? It got me thinking. I enjoyed reading her own free write exercise, and decided to try my hand at it … So … Why do I write?

To tell my story. Validate my experiences and stop feeling invisible. I write to share ideas and change people’s minds. Sharing my vulnerabilities opens me up to others so that I might be better understood, more approachable, emotionally available. I write about the mundane and the emotional, how to treat children and relate to myself. Exploring my inner child, I write about relationships with life partner, son, and extended family members. I write about Ada Mae: Cat-type stories and relationship-with-cat tales. I write about the large oak tree outside my living room window, finding imagery in words, weaving together reality with fantasy, poetry with politics. I write because I have to. Expressing myself has become as important as breathing. I write to uncover the authentic core of my inner life, to see my self in print and recognize it for the first time, over and over again.

I write, therefore I am.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Take my advice, I don’t use it

Meet the white man, who …

This is a must read.

Right here.

And then, here’s this …

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Bits of me

New shoes … for a new page


Nothing like a good editorial whipping to realize that writing about politics is just not my shtick – my forte! Politics needs a rational and unbiased brain, and I surely don’t have such an organ! I should stick to what I know best – matters of the emotional mind. And so, when Neilochka twittered @ me personally, suggesting I post a picture of my new shoes, I decided that would be a great way to veer slowly back to the old Tamarika at Mining Nuggets!

And so, Neil, here they are. My new shoes. I have not been able to buy new clothes for over a year. It is a self-punishing thing. I have been in therapy long enough to know that, for goodness sakes. I admonish myself in my mind daily, sometimes by the hour. It goes something like this: "Look. If you are too lazy to work out, eat right and lose weight, you are going to have to wait for new clothes." Or, this: "Look at you!" (While I am staring at myself in the mirror or see myself in a shop window) "How awful! Aren’t you ashamed? Is this how you have chosen to end your days – looking like this!? – no new clothes for you!"

Yesterday, the sun was shining and the air was warmer than it has been in awhile. People were out and about in the streets of Chestnut Hill as I went about my errands, buying coffee, going to the bank, and purchasing all the right stuff for pre-colonoscopy preparation day next week. Suddenly, I found myself staring into the shop window of the Chestnut Hill Bootery. Tomorrow I am headed out to Stony Brook, Long Island to sleep over before presenting a full day of staff development for the teachers of their campus child care center. I really need some new black shoes. My colleagues at Rider (one in particular) have been advising me that it is high time I acquired some! After all, brown just does not go with everything. We all know that! Surely?

So, into the bootery I hopped, and thank goodness there was a kind and patient young woman to help me navigate the various and sundry styles and shapes. I felt like a country bumpkin – it seemed like such a long time since I have had some sales person actually take the time to help me out like that with such patience and a friendly air.

When I eventually came out into the sunshine, bag full of shoes in my hand, I found a parking ticket under the windshield wiper on my car. Meter expired! Oh well, I guess if I cannot punish myself emotionally for shoe-shopping, the cops will do it for me! I smiled to myself about that. External forces confirming my old psychological habits.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Made of the same stuff

A tender conscience

Visiting students in a field placement today.

Women’s History Month and a poster quoting Eleanor Roosevelt:

When all our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Coming and going; Adventures of Priscilla

Spelling out the *real* fear… in black and white

From the New York Times Op Ed. this morning. Finally. Someone says out loud what I have been feeling and thinking about all of this.

March 11, 2008
The Red Phone in Black and White

Cambridge, Mass.

ON first watching Hillary Clinton’s recent “It’s 3 a.m.” advertisement, I was left with an uneasy feeling that something was not quite right — something that went beyond my disappointment that she had decided to go negative. Repeated watching of the ad on YouTube increased my unease. I realized that I had only too often in my study of America’s racial history seen images much like these, and the sentiments to which they allude.

I am not referring to the fact that the ad is unoriginal; as several others have noted, it mimics a similar ad made for Walter Mondale in his 1984 campaign for the Democratic nomination. What bothers me is the difference between this and the Mondale ad. The Mondale ad directly and unequivocally played on the issue of experience. The danger was that the red telephone might be answered by someone who was “unsure, unsteady, untested.” Why do I believe this? Because the phone and Mr. Mondale are the only images in the ad. Fair game in the normal politics of fear.

Not so this Clinton ad. To be sure, it states that something is “happening in the world” — although it never says what this is — and that Mrs. Clinton is better able to handle such danger because of her experience with foreign leaders. But every ad-maker, like every social linguist, knows that words are often the least important aspect of a message and are easily muted by powerful images.

I have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery, and when I saw the Clinton ad’s central image — innocent sleeping children and a mother in the middle of the night at risk of mortal danger — it brought to my mind scenes from the past. I couldn’t help but think of D. W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation,” the racist movie epic that helped revive the Ku Klux Klan, with its portrayal of black men lurking in the bushes around white society. The danger implicit in the phone ad — as I see it — is that the person answering the phone might be a black man, someone who could not be trusted to protect us from this threat.

The ad could easily have removed its racist sub-message by including images of a black child, mother or father — or by stating that the danger was external terrorism. Instead, the child on whom the camera first focuses is blond. Two other sleeping children, presumably in another bed, are not blond, but they are dimly lighted, leaving them ambiguous. Still it is obvious that they are not black — both, in fact, seem vaguely Latino.

Finally, Hillary Clinton appears, wearing a business suit at 3 a.m., answering the phone. The message: our loved ones are in grave danger and only Mrs. Clinton can save them. An Obama presidency would be dangerous — and not just because of his lack of experience. In my reading, the ad, in the insidious language of symbolism, says that Mr. Obama is himself the danger, the outsider within.

Did the message get through? Well, consider this: people who voted early went overwhelmingly for Mr. Obama; those who made up their minds during the three days after the ad was broadcast voted heavily for Mrs. Clinton.

For more than a century, American politicians have played on racial fears to divide the electorate and mobilize xenophobic parties. Blacks have been the “domestic enemy,” the eternal outsider within, who could always inspire unity among “we whites.” Richard Nixon’s Southern strategy was built on this premise, using coded language — “law and order,” “silent majority” — to destroy the alliance between blacks and white labor that had been the foundation of the Democratic Party, and to bring about the Republican ascendancy of the past several decades. The Willie Horton ad that George H. W. Bush used against Michael Dukakis in 1988 was a crude manifestation of this strategy — as was the racist attack used against John McCain’s daughter, who was adopted from Bangladesh, in the South Carolina Republican primary in 2000.

It is significant that the Clinton campaign used its telephone ad in Texas, where a Fox poll conducted Feb. 26 to 28 showed that whites favored Mr. Obama over Mrs. Clinton 47 percent to 44 percent, and not in Ohio, where she held a comfortable 16-point lead among whites. Exit polls on March 4 showed the ad’s effect in Texas: a 12-point swing to 56 percent of white votes toward Mrs. Clinton. It is striking, too, that during the same weekend the ad was broadcast, Mrs. Clinton refused to state unambiguously that Mr. Obama is a Christian and has never been a Muslim.

It is possible that what I saw in the ad is different from what Mrs. Clinton and her operatives saw and intended. But as I watched it again and again I could not help but think of the sorry pass to which we may have come — that someone could be trading on the darkened memories of a twisted past that Mr. Obama has struggled to transcend.

Orlando Patterson is a professor of sociology at Harvard and the author of “The Ordeal of Integration: Progress and Resentment in America’s ‘Racial’ Crisis.”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
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… with all due respect …

Once again Hillary Clinton is trying to (as Obama says) "hoodwink" us – as if we are all intellectually impaired or something. How can Obama be Vice President if, according to the Clintons he would not make a good Commander in Chief? Now look, President and MRS Clinton, either Obama would make a good Commander in Chief – in which case I am voting for him –  or he would not make a good Commander in Chief? Make up your mind. You see, I like it so much that Obama does not treat us as if we are all intellectually impaired, that I think I’ll just continue to stand firm with him until he becomes President of the United states.

#9 … #9 … #9 …


I can’t believe I forgot to buy Tom a card for it!

So, Tom:

Happy Anniversary. Thanks for the ride! And especially for the wonderful dinner last night.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Blogging the blues away