Did I do that?

Daily Prompt: Forgive & Forget
Share a story where it was very difficult for you to forgive the perpetrator for wronging you, but you did it — you forgave them.

Steve UrkelYes, as a matter of fact.

I know you’re sorry,
and accept your apology.
Yet forgiveness comes only
partially.

Of course we can move on.
And let bygones be bygones.
Yet whether pea or pecan,
the wrong remains, ever so,
by natural or lantern light.

So don’t repeat and we’ll be fine.
If you do, memory won’t skip a beat.
It lives on day through dawn. And
it’ll be ixnay for you in a heartbeat.

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Native American Regalia

Weekly Photo Challenge: Intricate
Intricate: what does it mean to you? Show us your interpretation.

With my iphone, I have become a drive-by photographer–one of those people who take photos that catch the eye. I’ve taken photos of big things like artfully/weirdly colored cars, of which there is no short supply of in Berkeley and small things such as a quirky card that I have no interest in buying, but is nifty enough to text “share” with friends. The technology of cameras in phones have desensitized us to notions of privacy. So much so that there’s a great deal of permissiveness in the idea of taking a photo of something you like or would like to memorialize for positive or negative reasons. Before cameras-in-phones, it was unlikely that you would take the liberty of taking a photograph of a stranger or someone else’s property.

This weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a powwow at UC Berkeley. This was an unplanned activity as we saw the crowd and tents and heard the drumming from our seats outside a local African-Caribbean restaurant and decided to check out what was going on. We were pleasantly surprised to walk into a powwow.

The dancers’ regalia was stunning. The patterns, beadwork, and integration of feathers were done with such care that you could tell that for each person it was more than just clothing. It was a representation of a legacy that endured in spite of marginalization and near genocide. In a heartbeat I would have pulled out my handy camera-in-a-phone and taken photographs.  However, I agonized over whether or not to take a photo. I was dying to do so, and yet I couldn’t. I remembered learning eons ago in 4th grade Social Studies that Native Americans were not keen on photographs and that you had to ask permission if you wanted to take a photograph.

I ended up not taking a photograph (above photo is from the internet). I saw some people with actual cameras taking photos and I could have probably taken one without consequence. Yet I felt in my heart that to do so would be a violation of the sacred. These people were strangers. I would probably never see any of them again. Yet the gathering was sacred and it needed to be honored because it was an honor to catch a glimpse of a culture I know very little about. Not everything is meant to be consumed.

Island Living

Daily Prompt: Beyond the Pale
When was the last time you did something completely new and out of your element? How was it? Will you do it again?

Pharmacist's House in the Sun

Pharmacist’s House in the Sun

In a nook of a turn-up-your-nose-at-the-commoners town, there is a ferry boat that will take you across Racoon Straits to Angel Island.  I don’t fancy country living and have never fantasized about living on the farm or in an isolated cabin surrounded by endless trees and wildlife.  But living on an island has always had a kind of fairy book appeal. Being a life-long urbanite, the chances of lving on an island are pretty slim unless of course money is just a pile of green notes at your disposal. Well I don’t have an endless supply of green notes, but I can say that I have lived on an island.

In its most recent incarnation, Angel Island is a destination for tourists and weekend sojourners. It attracts those who like moderate hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, picnicking, or just hanging out. For years I visited the island as a sojourner. It was an annual field trip my son’s school took the first week in June to celebrate the end of the school year. It also has appeal for those interested in historical tourism. But later about that.

Life on an Island

Life on an island is no walk in the park. Missing the boat is one of those figurative sayings people like to throw around, but when your life revolves around the ferry schedule, a missed boat had real consequences. Depending on the time of day, it could mean being late to school/work/meeting because the next ferry was at 9 or noon or not until 5. Or it could, ironically, mean being stranded on the mainland.

Angel Island is not self-contained. There are no grocery markets or department stores. There are no cars allowed on island. So you have to plan very carefully what groceries you need and be so ever aware of the time so that you aren’t late to leave or late to arrive. I lived on the island because my husband was a ranger for state parks. My husband learned to drive a boat as a way of carving out some degree of flexibility and self-reliance in an otherwise inflexible way of life.

Pharmacist's House in the Fog

Pharmacist’s House in the Fog

History of the Island

If one could assign a disposition, a personality, I would say it tends toward fog than sunniness. My husband and I had a running joke that stemmed from my thinking that Angel Island was always hot. It was, everytime I visited. But once I lived there year round, I realized that Angel Island is almost always chilly.

The house we lived in was The Pharmacist’s House. In the not too distant past, the pharmacist was one of the official people on the island who provided medication to the Asian immigrants, mostly men, who were detained due to immigration exclusionary laws. Angel Island was the Ellis a Island of the west. The men were packed into close quarters and interrogated before being granted or denied the right to stay. Some men spent years on the island. And while there, a few wrote poetry on the walls to pass the time away and to express their homesickness, loneliness, anger or despair. For them, the island was not a home.

Today, the island is a pretty benign place. Who could guess just from looking at it that at one time in history there was an interplay of power and powerlessness that was beyond the pale.

X is for Xylophone

Daily Prompt: Fearful Symmetry
Pick a letter, any letter. Now, write a story, poem, or post in which every line starts with that letter.

T, the famous therapist to the letters, had a new client X. This client had made the rounds, only to end up e[X]asperated. The most recent was L who listened, but then shared so much of himself that X came to regard him as no more than a common loon peddling his “listening therapy technique” as a cover for incessantly talking about himself. The one before was K who was recommended because she was into “karmic healing” but X found herself more depressed after these sessions. To X‘s dismay, K peppered her advice with the incredibly tedious phrase, “carry on, dear that’s all you, I, any of us can do dear.” The “dear” was particularly grating.

T had a supercilious air about him that made X immediately doubtful. The way he was dressed wasn’t especially comforting either. Tinted glasses and a beret topped off with a goatee and ponytail may have tipped off her wariness. The bragging as sharing, which X was especially attuned to , didn’t help either.

“This handmade tea set was a gift by a world renown actress whose name I can’t of course divulge. Tibetan tea, which another client turned me on to, is now my addiction. Tea is very soothing and I encourage clients to intake as much as they want throughout our sessions.”

This day in question X  was explaining why she feels inadequate. “Take one look at the the dictionary, any dictionary, and you see I have the least amount of pages.”

“That’s true that you may have the least amount of words, but you know quantity isn’t everything.”

“Truth is, the quality isn’t great either. ”

“There are…”

“Throw out some words. That’s a dare.”

“Xylo…”

“Toys! That’s the first word you come up with!”

“Try to see it from the positive side of things. There’s a power to x that other letters don’t have: you can multiply, mark spots, give hugs and kisses.”

“Trivialities, doctor! The long and short of it is that I’m nothing more than functional symbology at best and anonymity at worst.”

That session and sessions after went round and round, on and on like this. There was no convincing X that her place in the  language of things, though small, was not insignificant.