Friday, January 26, 2018

For Auld Lang Syne

26th January 2018

I flew into Edinburgh, city of my birth, today, in winds so wild, it felt like being in a child's plastic toy plane being swung on a piece of elastic. Whenever I touch down in my native country, my lungs involuntarily expand and then let out the air as though they had been waiting all this time to properly exhale. I am home. I have spent the last almost thirty years in the United States, but my body fits into this country, and no matter how I try to fit it elsewhere, the hand of who am I  just doesn't fit into any other glove. I took my first breath in Scotland's capital city. Some part of my body cannot forget that. Some part of my apparatus recorded its malt-smelling, castle swirling, first action. This is the wet garden for me, sprung in completeness, and no other garden with any other smells or sights will ever move into this sacred garden.

Though I had flown over five thousand miles, with only the barest of naps in the tight space allotted to those who were not among the high-flyers, my first instinct upon disembarking was to steer my trolley into the nearest tea vendor and sit in the window with the rain falling slow against the glass and sip. It is a British reflex, this comfort hole of tea drinking. It was wild and windy and rainy outside, and I had to get to where I was going, but instead I stopped and sat and felt as one does back in a lovers arms after a long absence.


Little wonder then that I have spent my last thirty years in exile, conjuring for myself what all this  means. My writing track is pretty well grooved at this point, an archaeologist not of shards but of blood and guts, of the Scottish sinew that pulls me taught and is tied to the land like the bones of a farmer buried in his own tilled field. That is who I am.

Friday, January 19, 2018


19th January 2018

My Christmas presents this year are dragging me kicking and screaming into the era of technology.  I have given up my flip phone for a smart phone, and I am writing this blog entry on the latest and greatest laptop that defies all my befuddled brains expectations of reality. The door flew open, and I was sent headlong into a new age, and I don't mean the sage-burning drum-beating Om-chanting new age. This is the cold steel era of data and gigabytes, terabytes even. This is the future, so I am told, and I'd better learn to love it.

But it's a living nightmare,  a swirling world of passwords and passcodes and Siri and mouseless mice. It's a trapdoor world where if I pick up my phone and hit by accident a few buttons on the side, before you know it, I'm back out in the cold and this little Hitler in my hand is demanding a password to let me back in. Even when you think you remember your password, you are sorely mistaken: the long stream of letters, numbers and capital letters, all of which you were careful to include (because the contraption told you that otherwise your password was "weak") no longer seems to work. Or the security question which there really is only one answer to: what was your first album? I know the answer. I give it. But the phone thinks it is a security breach and starts sending me emails (which I can only get to on my old and faithful almost-as-clueless-as-me IPad) that a terrorist has infiltrated my little castle of passwords and passcodes and thumb prints that never even work.

If you have read best selling author Yuval Harari, you'll know that he thinks we're heading into an era in which data and technology will take the place of religion and where the very gods shall be supplanted by this new iteration of ourselves, Homo Deus. But if Harari is right, I might as well off myself right now. I might as well put my pillow over my head and let myself escape back into the burning sage fog of gods and goddesses, of myth and story. It might be outdated, but it is a much warmer place to live.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Women in Black

12th January 2018

"Tell all the truth," says Emily Dickenson, "but tell it slant." Perhaps that's what the women at the Golden Globes this last Sunday were doing in their black dresses. They were there to speak truth to power, as witnesses to Oprah's "We're fed up with the whole male hierarchy" thing. But perhaps the protest was a little too slant from these women in their high heels, shuffling along like geishas, skirts and neck-lines split.

We women are so programmed to think our job is to titillate, that even when we take the moral high ground we do so in slinky revealing dresses.
I know I am sounding like the Moral Majority Fashion police here, but that's not where I'm coming from. They could show up naked for all I care. Showing up naked would actually be a very good and immediate dispeller of the titillation game, since naked unadorned bodies are just naked, as anyone who has spent any time in nudist zones can tell you. All too often, women speak truth to the power game and then out of the sides of their mouths endorse the very rules of that game.

What if men showed up to such events in Speedos with slits up the front and back? It would look very like someone had something to prove. And yet, this is what women accept as the norm for themselves. Even when we are defending ourselves, we play right out of the male fantasy book. Look at any female TV show host (except PBS!), made up to look like a magazine cover and the neckline plunging. (Except Rachel Maddow, of course, who for obvious reasons gets a pass on this.)

This is Rebecca Traister who wrote the best-selling book "All the Single Ladies." I don't agree with some of what she says in that book, but she seems to me to be a good example of women, attractive women, who are not playing the game, but are comfortably on an equal footing with their male counterparts.
So wear your black dresses in protest, women of Hollywood. You have all the truth inside you, but  speak it straight and give no quarter. The power of this movement is that we no longer have to tell it slant.

Friday, January 5, 2018


5th January 2018

Along with everyone's new year shaky resolutions come the inevitable predictions. Everyone wants to know what 2018 holds for them personally. On Hogmanay's eve, I achieved an unprecedented  perfect score in a certain card game, not a small feat, and I'm taking that as a good omen. No one likes the unknown, especially if that unknown threatens to plunge us into more of the same, thank you ma'am. We want waves of abundance and love and good fortune - the kind you don't have to break your neck to get, the kind that trickles down without any effort at all. Whether we are materialists or not, we like to be in the good graces of the gods and goddesses,  We want life pressed down, shaken together and overflowing.

We cast a glance at the astrologers, hoping that the patterns of the stars can say something about what is to come, and maybe they can. We flip through the yellowed pages of ancient prophecies, ones like Nostradamus who seemed to be seeing quite clearly when he predicted all those centuries ago the rise of a "great, shameless, audacious brawler," to a seat of power round about now in history.

My prediction: the great shameless, audacious brawler is going down in 2018. I made a bet with a friend that this would happen before June of this year. Without any appeal whatsoever to science and its numbers, my feeling is 2018 is going to be a notable year. Let the gods and goddesses perne in a gyre. Let the good times roll!