Poem: murmurs and glimpses of eternity

Aside

I’ve not been a big fan of Archibald MacLeish, but I stumbled across this poem and found it encouraging. A balm for these hectic times.

OUTLOOK
Not to be conquered by these headlong days,
But to stand free: to keep the mind at brood
On life’s deep meaning, nature’s altitude
Of loveliness, and time’s mysterious ways;
At every thought and deed to clear the haze
Out of our eyes, considering only this,
What man, what life, what love, what beauty is,
This is to live, and win the final praise.
Though strifes, ill fortune, and harsh human need
Beat down the soul, at moments blind and dumb
With agony; yet, patience–there shall come
Many great voices from life’s outer sea,
Hours of strange triumph, and, when few men heed,
Murmurs and glimpses of eternity.

For me, poetry is one of those “great voices from life’s outer sea” from which come “murmurs and glimpses of eternity.”

And I found a pretty neat new (to me) poetry site — Poetry Genius.

Looking for Zita Marie

One of my favorite poets ever was one I remember from back in the early days of the internet when Usenet was abuzz and poets cliqued, critiqued, and flamed each other on a discussion group called rec.arts.poems. My fave was a scientist/poet called Zita Marie Evensen. I loved her poems. Anyone who could conjur the phrase “bitchin’ heuristics” and weave quantum physics into love poetry was alright by me.

What little internet archeology I had time for did not turn up recent traces of Zita Marie Evensen. I was hoping to find her chapbook on some small press site or a blog of her post-Usenet adventures somewhere in the ether. Instead I found evidence that she might have gotten scorched in the flame wars that eventually burned down most of Usenet. Maybe she went on to write more poetry. Maybe she shares it only with a certain lover. Maybe she jots it in the margins of her day planner as she strolls about the halls of (what? academia? a hospital? a secret weapons facility?) wherever it is she weaves poetry, love, and science into the cloth of her society.

I figure I’ll just scoop her poetry out of the cold archives of rec.arts.poems and place it here on the windowsill of my new blog. If only to give it some light. Maybe I’ll get lucky and she’ll send me a “cease and desist” letter asking me to return her poems back to digital obscurity. And I would comply, provided I could have her book in my poetry collection.

please forgive me for i have sinned
———————————————-

please forgive me for i have sinned
my last confession was a timeless while ago

i blithely sang songs to the stars
and thought the melody so sweet
not knowing it’d fall back as rain
and waken dreamers from their sleep

i fashioned a nosegay out of  words
seeing that i have nothing to give
but as i walked back to myself
i crushed the petals with my feet

i held the seasons of your mind
keep  summer-spring forevermore
looking out in space and time
you heard frosted windows break

i gave my poems for you to read
like one red rose   a simple gift
how could i know
how could i know

***

zita maria evensen
c1993 aug 28

and one more…

i am one rainbow someone
——————————————

that’s who i am
i see no borders
i am a crossword genome
of cosmic stardust and
the elemental woman

i am very selfish
with my laughters and my pains
you have no right  no right
to see my marble box
of calico agates and black stones
– i refuse to scream
or cry or go to
wide-web confessions

instead  i will tease you
to laughter   paint you
merry-teary words
teach you bitchin’ heuristics
of love and loving
and dance with stars
at mind-warp speed

i am a rainbow someone
who knows  who knows
i own my hurt
and you have no right
to share them

but silently ever
so silently
i will make sure
you understand

/zme
(c) 1 juni 1994
[rewrite]

Waiting for the movers to arrive

This is my new blog space.  I lost my lease on the old crossimpact.net domain name and I decided to move my old blog onto a hosted WordPress platform.

That, and I figured it was time to quit freeloading off of Matt Mullenweg, who has been quite nice to let me store Overflow on his  server for over eight years. I decided to quit being so much of a freeloader and support him with my dollars.

Back when Matt was still at the University of Houston Downtown, he offered to his fellow Houston bloggers free hosting on his personal server to anyone who would be willing to try this new blog software he wrote called “WordPress.” I was tired of Blogger anyway and was eyeing a change to Moveable Type, but I wanted to help this enterprising kid get off the ground.

He was one of these guys who seemed to have the formula for success (and I don’t just say this in hindsight.) He was whip-smart but self-deprecating, creative, kind, and very charismatic. He had a diverse set of interests like Jazz, political science, nd photography. All those things are hallmarks of the kind of guy you just know is going to be successful. Not necessarily always famous, but successful.

And so that’s my only “I knew him when” story. I tried to buy Matt a beer for rehosting my blog, but he didn’t drink, so I bought him lunch instead. I got to see him play Jazz. He graciously came to a couple of my ill-fated but fun Bad Art Nights. And I accumulated over 1400 blog posts on his dime over the years.

All before he became that Matt Mullenweg.

And, as a final kindness as I file into line amongst his millions of happy customers, he is having one of his people move my baggage from Overflow to this new blog. I’ve been blogging since, well the days when Geocities was the coolest way to self publish on the web. Before the word “blog” was coined. I have twelve years of my life chronicled on Matt’s personal server, my family history, my weird ideas, my geekery, the chronicles of my adoptions and my marriage. Quite a bit of history.

And, as one of the very first WordPress blogs ever, Overflow was historic in another small sense as well. I guess this means I’d better not let it go to seed now.

So I’m just waiting for the movers — a nice guy named Otto — to move me in to the new digs. Paid my first year’s rent. Now I guess I need to think of things to write.

Identify, yes. Idolize, no.

I can’t call Stephen Slater a Hero. Just can’t. I admit I feel for him. I admit to a sympathetic vicarious thrill at his flambouyant outburst. And I give him serious points for style, grabbing a beer and sliding away and all.

But, even by his own previous statements on an attendant forum a few years before, his behavior was childish and unprofessional. I’m sure he knows it and I hope for his sake he doesn’t let the hype convice him that his behavior was justified.

I do think his story points out a great lesson for us. That how we as customers treat service people is an important base measure of how civilized our society is. I hear my daughter complain regularly about customers’ behavior when they come through her checkout line. The most bitter complaints come from customers who abuse her when she has to enforce policies she did not set and has no power to change. She just checks groceries, folks. She does not set prices, coupon policy, or the number of items allowed in the express line. Give her a break, okay?

Service people do more than serve us what we want and need. They help ensure that public resources are most available and accessible for all. When we are all in a public place, Superrationality dictates that we need to be aware that everyone else there is there for some need and we all need to share this space, time, resource in a way that works best for everybody, not just me. Often I find myself in line somewhere actually being grateful for the whole phenomenon of it. That people actually acquiesce to standing in line as a default. To me it’s a sign of cooperation, civility, and justice. When I have the presence of mind to see it, I can actually enjoy the quotidian social wonder of taking my place in a queue.

For me, it’s a good barometer of my prayer life. When I am in my mindless ego-drone state, I am Mr. Exceptionalism. Yeah the rules are good, yadda yadda, but my situation is different. When my praver hygeine is caught up, I can be aware of my behavior and the needs of others. Especially service people and my fellow customers.

Oh, and for the love of Pete, I hope that the identity of the woman whose behavior was the cause of all this is not discovered. She owes an apology, but she does not deserve the crapstorm that will hit her if her name hits the media.

Plus, if we think about it, we have all been this woman at some point. We can all think of moments where we’ve rationalized exceptionalism, where we are convinced that the rules can be bent in this case, just this once, for me.

I do it while driving several times a week. I sheepishly hung up my cell phone in the car the other day, recalling how I often huff at other drivers to “get off the damn phone and drive!” Pot, Kettle, black, way too often.

So I find two great measures of my own Christian maturity; how thoughtful I am in public service situations, especially to those who serve, and how gentle I am with those (including myself) who fail to overcome their own exceptionalism.

Good To Know: Minty Fresh Money

Well, whaddaya know? Apparently the U.S. Mint sells new John Adams dollar coins, in lots of $250 and $500, with free shipping and handling. And they will let you use your credit card so it will show up as a purchase and not a cash advance.

Like free money. Well, not free money, but money “at cost.”

Apparently the Mint is doing this to encourage the circulation of new dollar coins. The coins last longer than bills and so saves printing costs over time. There you go — you can buy fresh minted cash for free and do a civic service (of sorts) at the same time. Good to know.

Blessed and Idle

Seems like I have been spending a lot of time fiddling with gadgets lately. Game devices, mp3 players, laptops, all the info- and enter-tainment infrastructure of our household. There is much negotiation and wrangling over the newly-minted currency of who gets access to what screens in our family. These negotiations are complicated by the gadgets’ various states of operation and disrepair. Lots of fidgeting with cords, chargers, controllers, and other detritus which must be wrangled like wayward sheep. Every little gadget commands a debt of time and mental energy to keep it working and in or out of the proper hands at the proper time.

Fantasies of “unplugging” have been coming to me fairly frequently lately. Getting rid of cable TV. Mothballing some of my gadgets. Drastically reducing my footprint on social sites like Facebook, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Luddite. I feel the lure of the latest unobtanium too. When the iPad came out I was all “Ooooohh, Shiny!” on the inside. And I have a fleeting bout of SmartPhone Envy about every other day.

But really I enjoyed Peter Bregman’s confession in Harvard Business Review — Why I Returned My iPad — and admired his honesty in front of what has to be the most plugged-in audiences in the world. I concur, Peter. I’m glad I did not get an iPhone or iPad or iAnything for my recent birthday. My life is such that I have very few “idle and blessed” moments too. The last thing I need is another gadget to fill the idle moments I do have. Even though I admit it is teh cool and sports mesmerizing blinkenlights.

I’ve talked about the useful, instructive nature of boredom before. And my kids roll their eyes when I tell them that boredom is good. I know it’s good to be unprogrammed and unplugged for a healthy dose each day. But I find, especially lately, that I am not taking my own prescriptions.

Poetry, reading, art, and useless idle writing (like the kind I’ve been doing a lot less lately on this site) are the casualties of my latest case of gadgetalia fixation. My feeling that I might be “missing something” if I unplug for even a day tempts me to profane the sacred idle moments my soul needs.

The antidote, for me, is Mary Oliver’s poetry and maybe a chance to be “blessed and idle” in adoration tonight.

From the Summers Day by Mary Oliver
“I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

So here’s wishing you (and me) a very healthy dose of boredom real soon.

Special, But Not That Special

I’ve admired Mike Rowe since seeing his righteous talk at TED about the dignity of blue-collar work. Now Mike’s made me proud to be an Eagle Scout again with his Eagle Scout Letter. He’ll send a signed copy of that letter to any Eagle Scout who asks (and sends a SASE.)

It reminds me of listening to Fr. Ron Cloutier tell us in ministry training a few years back, “You’re special, but not that special.” Awesome. I think it is a sacred duty of priests and prophets to say “y’all get over yourselves” on a regular basis. I know I need to hear it more often than I do. Exceptin’ from my wife, who does that just fine.

How do you top treadmills? Well…

This video by OK Go (the dancing treadmill guys) will make you smile. Pay close attention at the 50 sec mark when the video starts to get a little bizzarre.

The whole thing is goofy, catchy, and endearing. The thing is pretty amazing once you see that they choreographed the Notre Dame Marching Band plus dancing children with streamers, recording the music live in a field in one take using a cherry picker for aerial shots. The audio setup alone must have been pretty impressive.

And you apparently can downlod the song and video for free from the band’s website.