Doggy dream

Golden Retriever Running Towards You on Grass Photographic Print

Rusty, my father’s golden retriever, was revered. My father, who each weekend cooked her fresh organ meats, loved her more than he loved my stepmother, my brother, and me. My stepmother loved Rusty more than she loved my brother and me. And I loved my father more than I loved anyone, including Rusty, though I very much loved Rusty. My brother, it seemed, was fairly indifferent to the lot of us and wasn’t what you would call a dog person.

This morning, I awoke from a dream about Rusty, who has been dead some 40 years, but, as I wandered across that vaporous, atemporal continent that separates dream from wakefulness, I believed she was still alive and was confused for some seconds about where on the timeline of my little life I stood.

Once I touched bed, pillow, table and saw mirror, bookshelf, clock, I remembered who I was and remembered, also, the man who has been installed in the White House. Just about every morning when I first open my eyes, his image — or the image of someone in his inner circle — appears, and I find myself needing more air than seems available. This morning I recalled what my stepmother once told me about sleeping dogs with twitchy legs and paws: They’re dreaming about running, she said.

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“…there is, instead, madness.”

“King George III isn’t exactly a hero of history,” writes NPR’s Colin Dwyer. “In most U.S. textbooks, he is portrayed as the British tyrant who lost the Colonies in the American Revolution. He’s scarcely more popular in his native U.K., where his bouts with mental illness late in life earned him the impolite epithet ‘Mad King.'”

This week in New York magazine, Andrew Sullivan writes brilliantly about our own mad king Donald, whose mental well-being he describes thus:

…there is the obvious question of the president’s mental and psychological health. I know we’re not supposed to bring this up — but it is staring us brutally in the face. I keep asking myself this simple question: If you came across someone in your everyday life who repeatedly said fantastically and demonstrably untrue things, what would you think of him? If you showed up at a neighbor’s, say, and your host showed you his newly painted living room, which was a deep blue, and then insisted repeatedly — manically — that it was a lovely shade of scarlet, what would your reaction be? If he then dragged out a member of his family and insisted she repeat this obvious untruth in front of you, how would you respond? If the next time you dropped by, he was still raving about his gorgeous new red walls, what would you think? Here’s what I’d think: This man is off his rocker. He’s deranged; he’s bizarrely living in an alternative universe; he’s delusional. If he kept this up, at some point you’d excuse yourself and edge slowly out of the room and the house and never return. You’d warn your other neighbors. You’d keep your distance. If you saw him, you’d be polite but keep your distance.

Sullivan goes on to say that “this is a fundamental reason why so many of us have been so unsettled, anxious, and near panic these past few months…. There is no anchor any more. At the core of the administration of the most powerful country on earth, there is, instead, madness.”

Until I read this piece, I hadn’t put it together for myself why I have felt so undone since the day the man was elected. It is not so much his odious agenda. As a left of left Democrat, the antipathy I feel towards a Republican worldview is at the level of marrow and sinew; yet, I still have been able to go about my life when one of that persuasion has landed in the White House.

But with a pathological liar

…barging into your consciousness every hour of every day, you begin to get a glimpse of what it must be like to live in an autocracy of some kind. Every day in countries unfortunate enough to be ruled by a lone dictator, people are constantly subjected to the Supreme Leader’s presence, in their homes, in their workplaces, as they walk down the street. Big Brother never leaves you alone. His face bears down on you on every flickering screen. He begins to permeate your psyche and soul; he dominates every news cycle and issues pronouncements — each one shocking and destabilizing — round the clock. He delights in constantly provoking and surprising you, so that his monstrous ego can be perennially fed. And because he is also mentally unstable, forever lashing out in manic spasms of pain and anger, you live each day with some measure of trepidation. What will he come out with next? Somehow, he is never in control of himself and yet he is always in control of you.

It is this sense of being controlled by a force over which I feel little control that has turned me into someone I don’t quite recognize. On the one hand, I am aware that at times I have been made quite unwell. On the other, I am unslumbered and find myself in search of an opportunity to best help those whose lives have been — and will continue to be — violently upended by this madman and his handlers. Yesterday, in fact, I was reading about a call for Virginia residents who might like to serve in the state legislature. Hmm, I thought.

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Trumping God?

I have been following IPLEDGEAFALLEGIANCE for a while now and always find the author’s posts thoughtful, relevant — and humorous. You have to watch this brief clip on Trump talking about God (or not, as the case may be). It’s jaw-dropping.

ipledgeafallegiance

Image result for Donald trump in golf hathttp://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/Video-Embeds/2015/September/Donald-Trump-God-Is-The-Ultimate/

Above is a link to an amazing video featuring journalist David Brody of the Christian Broadcast Network and part of his interview with Donald Trump. In this short 52 second segment Mr. Brody asks Donald Trump the question: “Who is God to you?”

Mr. Trump’s (now President Trump) answer is priceless, in that it explains all we need to know about the depth of Mr. Trump’s thought processes when it comes to…well, trying to figure out what it is that our President thinks about…

Anyway, please click on or copy and paste the link above into your browser and see for yourself and then comment below…unless of course you find yourself speechless.

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On screaming and weeping

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Since I began Ruminationville five years ago, I have tried to write thoughtfully and well about topics of importance to me, which I hoped also might be meaningful to those who follow or who otherwise read my blog. Since the election of Donald John Trump, though, I have been unable to write anything that didn’t hold between the lines an Edvard Munch-style scream or a flood of tears. But as a writing teacher, among other things, I know that unfettered emotion in a piece of writing can get in the way of the intended message, so I thought I’d just better keep my mouth shut for a while until I could express myself honestly but with a necessary restraint.

The new leader of the free world’s first week in office has given us a magnificent view of the hell we are in for, and there is no escaping all manner of articles, videos, and TV news programs attesting to this fact. I, for one, have been unable to tear myself away from the news, though my preoccupation with our collective fall from grace has already had an impact on my health and well-being. It is important, then, to find ways to stay sane in a country that has given itself away to those who would be king or who would curry his favor.

I can say, though, that I will do whatever I can to resist this new regime. Writing is one way to do it; teaching my community college students strategies for being critically thoughtful about the world around them is another. I also can engage my impulse towards activism as it relates to immigration, and I was cheered beyond measure yesterday by the outpouring of outrage and compassion for those affected by Trump’s (and Steve Bannon‘s) malignant executive order and travel ban affecting seven Muslim-majority countries.

On a related note, I have spent the better part of my professional life working with (and for the rights of) immigrants. Specifically, I have focused my efforts on those who have come here from Latin America seeking refuge from war, repression, and poverty. The stories I have heard would break open any heart, including one beating in the chest of a colder-hearted North American.

I feel a special affinity for people who come here from Mexico because I have spent a good deal of time in Puebla studying Spanish and living with the kindest family you might ever find. I can only imagine how much pain they must feel about the dictator-in-chief’s contempt for their country and about his ridiculous promise to build a wall Mexico will pay for, a promise that has prompted considerable, and deserved, ire from the Mexican people.

Within the past several days, in fact, they have risen up en masse and have said hell no — with calls for boycotting American companies there, including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Walmart, and Starbucks (see a Time article on the topic). To this I say hippity hip hooray. Nothing else will put a crack in a wall of wealthy, self-interested white men faster than a threat to their own interests and wealth.

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