Friday, March 25, 2005


Serious True Story -

Amid all this talk of Terri Schiavo and “culture of life” I remember the time, in 1979, my friend Diana and I blundered into the midst of a young woman’s decision whether to “pull the plug” on her dying father. We were all trying to be writers in a small town on the coast of California and we had agreed on this afternoon of wine and literature weeks earlier.

Her father, a well known artist, had been ill for some time. Of course, we had no idea of the seriousness of the situation before we knocked on her modest cabin door.

While we were trying to decide whether it was ruder to stay or abruptly leave her alone with her decision, being discussed over the long distance telephone to the hospital in another state, she motioned us to sit down, while keeping the phone glued to her ear, punctuated by “uh huhs” and “oks” to the person at the other end.

It was her younger brother, the one who would actually say yay or nay to the doctors in charge on the other end of the phone.

We stayed the afternoon; we had come to talk poetry; we talked about end of life decisions, the cruelty of fatal diseases, the kindness of hospice, the frustrations of long distance.

We drank cheap white wine and ate stale chips. We hugged, and laughed and by the time we left, the sun was setting, the decision had been made, we were all exhausted, and we hoped we had helped a little bit.

When my own mother died twenty years later, she had the graciousness to do it all at once, sparing my sister and me such hard decisions.

Small Bit of Satire –

Headlines we’d like to see: “Bush to Clone Terry Schiavo.” “’Done with Death on My Watch,’ Says Bush.” “Bush Considers Unearthing Christian Corpses for Cloning.”

Explaining his new stance in favor of cloning certain individuals, Bush explained, “I know I used to be against it, but now I think we need to use all measures in our culture of life. If we let sick people die; if we let dead people stay dead, we have failed.”

“Except for murderers and adulterers, of course,” he quickly amended. “And Democrats” one reporter thought he heard him mumble under his breath as he left the podium.


This just in from my old friend, known as Mystery Business Woman. She travels to the far East quite often and shares her experiences seen through the lens of global geopolitcs:


March 20, 2005

This morning as I pack my bags to leave Shanghai, CNN reports that “stars” including Paul McCartney’s wife and the lead singer of Yes, are protesting the Chinese slaughter of dogs to make fur coats. CNN shows scenes from a film made surreptitiously. I glance up from my packing to see a grainy shot of the strained hind legs of a black dog. “The images are too gruesome to show on television,” the announcer says. Voiceover discussion ensues with the filmmaker: “The dogs are skinned alive. The sound of their cries is unimaginable.” Here dogs are a delicacy.

On my flight, I read the Shanghai Times. Over objections from the U.S., the EU has agreed to ship weapons to China. Germany and France are spearheading the initiative, stating that the reasons for the arms embargo, dating back to Tiananmen (SP.) Square are no longer valid. Sale of “high tech” weapons will be avoided, they claim. The article explains that the Europeans hope their newfound flexibility will lead to the sale of European cars and other goods to the People’s Republic. Bend over.

At the airport in Hong Kong, the idea for this blog takes shape as I read Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran. Explaining The Great Gatsby to her students, she writes, “We in ancient countries have our past – we obsess over the past. They, the Americans, have a dream: they feel nostalgia about the promise of the future.” I suddenly realize that I am witnessing the demise of that promise. China is the future. For Americans, though they may not realize it, the dream is dead.