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Judy Atchinson's A Stubborn Woman
by Judy Atchinson

A Stubborn Woman

A Daily Gazette community blog
QUEST leader's wanderings and musings

Being wary of labels

"Boy Dies Falling"
Academy Spires, Newark, New Jersey

The truth is a line
no more follows time's ire
than a tiny child tailing a cat
echoes a sinking star.

"Between our feigned light piled in the sky
and pedestrian's eyes bricked out
with the sun every day, no one sees stars
or five-year-olds piercing
fifteen stories of weak atmosphere
before there is black top.
Must we return to the line
-- how form is trusted so.
The iron lines trilled
across high-rise panes
should have held his note --
his rigid curiosity a shunt
from boxed air to open (again a line)
he followed to brief flight.

Life will continue to fall
from the sky,
even the sun someday --
a promised dawn
when no light above
will mean boys named Zahir --
shining, radiant, blossoming --
will rebel against gravity
and plummet upward as the beacon should."

-- Kyle G. Dargan (with permission)

In memory of all those children who left us and their lives too early. We miss you and grieve your passing.

"When spring is rising so are my thoughts and wishes. So very much I want for my kids. Education, a safe place to live, a life full of exploration and discovery. An absence of any kind of discrimination.

"To be a black writer means nothing more than that, I am black and I write. Yes there is a tradition, a history-implied one that I am beholden to. But we must be wary of labels that -- asethetically, thematically or otherwise -- dictate more than they inspire, that serve as content controls rather than content facilitators, that help sell books more than they help create them.

>em>The age of "Black is" has passed. The book is written in the age of "black does" and though history still acts as a road beneath and before me, it also begs that the road be improvised, remade and renewed -- that it be allowed to act more as the thoroughfare from which an infinite number of avenues can branch."
-- Kyle G. Dargan
Inaugural Poet for Barack Obama. (with permission)

Something innocent

Now let's talk about the lightness and enjoyment of something simple, naive and innocent. Baking cookies.

I was watching a commercial interspersed with the terror of the Boston Marathon and thinking fondly of Mr. Rogers, "look for the helpers, there are always helpers" and knowing that my kids have never been spoken to in such a way. They have only been spoken to in terms of getting even. "Don't stay hit," "Boys are men and never cry," "Put your hair up and go out there and fight," and to a 4-year-old, "You must fight back, I will keep throwing you back in there until you fight, you have a choice of fighting him or fighting me."

What life for these children? My children of these streets.

So, we bake cookies. And we, all of us, become the helpers. My children have never baked from scratch. All those cheery little clips of children baking and decorating funny misshapen cookies might as well be speaking in a foreign tongue. But we persevere and we struggle to learn together, and we smell that amazing aroma of fresh cookies in the oven, and then we decorate and scrape the bowls with our fingers and then we hand out cookies. To ourselves and to others. So we are helped and learn also the process of being helpers.

Another moment last week, kids feeling that spring feeling and their adrenaline is pumping mad hard. But yet ... the boys and I sitting in the car on Friday and talking about dogs. Ordinary real conversation -- like "What do you like better, cats or dogs?" It's amazing to me that living where and how they do that their love for dogs is so very strong. And then the fool of the man who kicks and beats his sweet pittie came to the house next door. As we watched he started swinging his dog around in the air, every single child in my car rose up and spoke out. One 12-year-old begged me to "call the police." Which of course I did. And as Mr. Evil dog owner called out to us that we certainly did not know how to train a dog, we absolutely bellowed in unison, "yes we do."

Then we got right down to business and discussed how to train "your" dog. And also how to get your dog to protect you. And I said, "with love, guys, you always give your heart to your dog, and he or she will in turn give his life for yours. Then we looked at pictures of my 220-pound rescue wolf hound and I said, "I never, ever hit him, not one single time, and we loved each other until he died, and he was an old, old dog. And then we all agreed it should be the same with people. No gun, no knives, no evil words. Just love, love everywhere.

"Enlightment is not imagining figures of light but making the darkness concious."
-- Carl Gustav Jung

Giving back

Someone who I trusted and shared QUEST with texted me on Friday saying, "I should have known you were only in it for the $$$$." In case anyone else gets it wrong. I have of my own volition cut my salary to $12,900, of which I return 4 to 5 thousand a year to QUEST. I do get Social Security and I don't need an awful lot to live on. I am not a saint, but I know what I need financially and I do not need a lot.

I heard someone speaking on C.B.C. today about "giving." "People tell me that the giving of yourself make them feel guilty because it gives them so much pleasure. And I reply that they should enjoy the joy and keep on giving, it helps everyone, including yourself." It's like those helpers of Mr. Rogers, all of you become helpers and the giving and taking become one. It is the majestic circle of life.

It is a quiet sunny day and I am sitting in my sunny back room which is three walls of windows, and I saw a bright red cardinal pull up at one of our bird feeders. A small young cardinal but a welcome splash of color all the same. But then my attention was diverted by Wilbur carrying on and I looked out from a different window and to a different perspective and watched the County of Schenectady clean Van Antwerp Road, the street I live on, which happens to be Niskayuna. Because it is a county road it gets preferential treatment from the city.

Three walkers and a cleaning truck. One is actually leaf blowing the sidewalks and two others are making nice even lines of dirt around the street gutters and picking up leaf and twig litter. Then down comes the street cleaner truck with its water and brushes. Oops, the big truck's big trip just made the big trip a second trip. Cleanest street in town now. I will be on the hill today let's see how clean and tidy those streets and sidewalks are.

To add to the tale I remind all of you that Schenectady snowblows these same sidewalks in the winter. And we know that never happens in the hill.

Just an aside about the chiefs comment about the intense work in crime that is keeping his police people too busy to mingle with the masses. I see masses of police vehicles hanging in the parking lot of the traffic building on Albany Street. Oh yes, they are actually leaning on the cars eating doughnuts. No, I am not making this up. And in case you respond with, "surely those are the traffic cops," I respond with, nope, the traffic guys drive different cars clearly labeled traffic enforcement. But they do mingle in with the rest of the crowd.

It is most definitley a Koffee Klastsch; most likely the food comes from Newest Lunch, where the best pressed uniforms always hang out.

Funny because when I call 911 and tell them of my problems the dispatchers never seem to know of what I am speaking. When I mention the cut- through from Albany St. to State St., they get a little snippy and say that it is not on the map. You would think I was calling about the outer reaches of Alaska. That cut- through is paved and is a daily repository for ticket giving police to hang in wait for errant speeders and other miscreants.

Some one needs to update maps and while they are doing that give lessons in common courtesy and the art of customer service to these dispatchers. Rude they surely are and many of us can attest to that.

So far afield

My heart is sad and weary that a child, a 19-year-old child, wreaking all that havoc and death, is so completely distanced from his actions that he went back to his school to attend a party after the partaking of the Boston Massacre. His mind and brain so compartmentalized that he could just walk away. What leads these children so far afield that they become martyrs to a code they do not even understand? And I use the word martyr loosely as this child was obviously not ready to die. I believe he saw himself as Batman serving a cause of justice. His own or his brother's death probably never entered into the equations. And I leave this quote for you to contemplate.

"A Zen priest was jailed several times after getting caught stealing small items from his neighbors."Please," a friend begged him "Stop stealing. I will provide you with what you need."
"It's not that," the priest replied." I steal so I can get back to the prisoners, and bring them the message about the way."

-- Zen Story

Jesus, too, spoke about visiting those in jail. And some of us are jailed by our spirits and in our bodies. Let us learn to take better care of each other and not just in times of crisis but all the time.
And speaking of feeding the flocks we recieved a call today from Long Island, and it was a woman called Mary who has organized the Subway resturants here and in other locations to donate their bread. Not a small task. And we are one of the flock to be fed. "Feed my sheep." And indeed we are being fed. And we can pass it on even if it is just baking cookies.

We have been so lucky and beloved at QUEST. But we are like that man-eating plant at Little Shop of Horrors constantly screaming, "feed me-feed me." And so I ask again, help if you can, time, money, tangible donations. The way to show the way to kids is to simply walk the walk. Prove to them that they are valuable.

"My heart that was rapt away by the wild cherry blossoms- will it return to my body when they scatter?"
-- Kotomichi

Right now this nation is yet again torn apart by another crisis. I shut my mouth (or pen) and offer this.

"The immigrant's heart marches to the beat of two quite different drums, one from the old home land and the other from the new. The immigrant has to bridge these two worlds living comfortably in the new and bringing the best of his or ancient identity and heritage to bear on life in an adopted homeland."
-- Mary Mc Aleese

Native Americans are the only natives in this land -- that's why they are called Native Americans or First Nation People. The rest of you get over yourself already. LOL.

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