Archive for the ‘Ripple Effects’ Category

I am looking at the smooth glass and steel buildings, buses and mass transit rolling across the horizon, and tight focus of talking heads that passes for local news. It all looks like home. Cities share commonalities of the commons. The faces and crazy behaviors in the news and news casters alike. I’ve been here too long. so long in fact the news spots are starting to sound less insane. The family that rejoices that that they get to keep 6 pit bulls in a neighborhood. The 18 wheeler wedged in the living room of the guy who happens to be a trucker himself laughing that he is homeless after 35 years. “what are you gonn’a abot it? I feel bad for the guy drivin’.” Or the woman who was accosted at the buss stop, but waited until the third day of harassment to phone the cops. Will I ever adjust? Probably not. But it is getting easier.


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I went to MCI-Norfolk prison today to start basic training in the Alternatives to Violence Program www.avpma.org there isn’t any pay, but there is a big payoff. I was hoping I would be able to work with women. However, Norfolk only houses men.  I’ve taught in the Dallas County Jail education program so I’m not freaked out by the work.  I find it sacred. I have seen inmates turn their life around and make positive changes in their lives.

The guys I worked with this weekend were armed robbers and murderers most would be rereleased in a year or so, quite a few were lifers and would never leave the walls of the prison alive. One an Asian  man 28 or so, entered the system at age 15 for murder;  others had killed brothers, best friends and wives.  My horoscope mentions Lion Tamer as a good profession for me.  I was thinking about that off and on today.  I believe in peacemaking  work.  I came from a violent home life, and propitiated the cycle of violence in my own life for many years.

Until my brother killed himself, then my Indian grandfather took his own life fifteen months later.  Two years after that, my business partner shot himself, the same year my childhood buddy hung himself.  My son’s best friend was shot in a drive by shooting in the neighborhood; my son was sitting next to him and held him until he died.  The kicker was the night a boy running from the notorious Cockerell Hill cops  ( you can see them on Dallas S.W.A.T  yep, that’s my old hood. )  but, once again I digress.  A parolee  ran from a traffic stop I saw him run past my window with three or four cops chasing him. The boy cut through the yard behind my house and hid in Tallmadge’s back porch two doors down.  The house looked disserted but the man renting Tallmadge’s place  shot him point blank in the face with a 45 cal.  Two days later, his mother  knocking on doors in the neighborhood was asking if anybody knew what happened because the cops wouldn’t speak to her about an “ongoing investigation.”  The boy was dead, and I was one of the last people to see him alive. That could be my son and may still become.

It’s choices, I tried to break the cycles of violence by not hitting my kid. I had no training in how to discipline. A smack with whatever was at hand or trapped bloody legs by  a lamp cord was  the only training I had as a child.  To make it crazier, my parents were JW’s at the end of the Mc Carthy era.  Violent  “spare the rod” fanatics.  But we didn’t believe in WAR or violence.  Just beating the sht out of your kids and arguing the moral dilemma of killing an intruder during a home invasion and a give no quarter/ martyr’s  path.

The message of the  60’s struck home with me as a pacifist. The puzzle piece I was missing is the gentler softer way of non-violence.   I tried for years on my own, to get it right. To put an end to the angrey patterns and break the cycles of violence in my life and  to influence my son.  I tried many ways . The  soft spoken questioning with the heart of the Quakers,  the inclusiveness of the Unitarian Universalist and the commitment to community building that I participated in at Richland college.  I even tried studying the ancient  goddess religions to find less violent answers.

I wasn’t the only person searching.  I read Gavin Debecker’s  Gift of Fear Debecker had come from a violent home, he watched his mother shoot his stepfather  and began to work with offenders in hopes of making a difference.  He wondered, as I have done, why two people with the same violent background can turn out so differently.

I was lucky enough to meet up with mediators and like minded peace makers.  It’s not easy to break these cycles of violence.  If you have a list or books to add to the list please put them in responses.

I’m listing books  on non-violence  community building:

Books on Conflict Resolution

A Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson (Paperback – Mar 2008)    Paperback: 304 pages   Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (March 2008)    Language: English    ISBN-10: 0156033909

  ISBN-13: 978-0156033909

A Anger Management For Dummies (For Dummies (Psychology & Self Help) by W. Doyle Gentry PhD    Paperback: 384 pages    Publisher: For Dummies; 1 edition (December 6, 2006)   Language: English

  ISBN-10: 0470037156

  ISBN-13: 978-0470037157

A The Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution : Preserving Relationships at Work, at Home, and in the Community — by Dudley Weeks; Paperback    Paperback: 304 pages    Publisher: Tarcher (January 4, 1994)    Language: English    ISBN-10: 0874777518

  ISBN-13: 978-0874777512

A The Dynamics of Conflict Resolution: A Practitioner’s Guide — by Bernard S. Mayer; Hardcover     Hardcover: 263 pages    Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (May 15, 2000)    Language: English

  ISBN-10: 078795019X

  ISBN-13: 978-0787950194

A Conflict Resolution : Theory, Research, and Practice — by James A. Schellenberg; Paperback    Paperback: 260 pages    Publisher: State University of New York Press; 1 edition (September 29, 1996)    Language: English

  ISBN-10: 0791431029

  ISBN-13: 978-0791431023

B Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss what Matters Most
by Douglas Stone, et al (Paperback)Paperback: 250 pages Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics); 1 edition (April 3, 2000) Language: English
ISBN-10: 014028852X
ISBN-13: 978-0140288520
A Dealing With People You Can’t Stand
by Rick Brinkman, Rick Kirschner (Introduction) (Paperback)Paperback: 208 pages Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies; 1 edition (August 1, 1994) Language: English
ISBN-10: 0070078386
ISBN-13: 978-0070078383
B Getting to Resolution: Turning Conflict Into Collaboration
by Stewart Levine (Paperback) Paperback: 226 pages Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers (January 15, 2000) Language: English
ISBN-10: 1576751155
ISBN-13: 978-1576751152

From Conflict to Cooperation : How to Mediate a Dispute
by Beverly Potter, Phil Frank (Paperback – May 1996)

  • Publisher: Ronin Publishing; 1 edition (February 26, 1996)  ·  Language: English
    ·  ISBN-10: 0914171798
  • ISBN-13: 978-0914171799
A Getting to Resolution: Turning Conflict Into Collaboration
by Stewart Levine (Paperback) ·  Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers (January 15, 2000)  ·  Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 1576751155
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576751152
A The Conflict Resolution Toolbox: Models and Maps for Analyzing, Diagnosing, and Resolving Conflict by Gary T. Furlong (Hardcover – April 7, 2005)

  • Publisher: Wiley (April 7, 2005)  ·  Language: English
    ·  ISBN-10: 0470835176
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470835173
A Interpersonal Conflict by William Wilmot and Joyce Hocker (Paperback – Oct 27, 2005) ·  Publisher: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages; 7 edition (October 27, 2005)  ·  Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 0073135542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0073135540

B Managing Intercultural Conflict Effectively (Communicating Effectively in Multicultural Contexts) by Dr. Stella W.C. Ting-Toomey and John Oetzel (Paperback – Jul 25, 2001)

  • Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc; 1 edition (July 25, 2001) ·  Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803948433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803948433
A Using Conflict Theory by Otomar J. Bartos and Paul Wehr (Paperback – Jul 15, 2002)

  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (July 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521794463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521794466

A Anger Management For Dummies (For Dummies (Psychology & Self Help)) by W. Doyle Gentry PhD (Paperback – Dec 6, 2006) ·  Publisher: For Dummies; 1 edition (December 6, 2006)  ·  Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 0470037156
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470037157

A Gift of fear    Publisher: Dell (May 11, 1999)  ·  Language: English
·  ISBN-10: 0440508835
·  ISBN-13: 978-0440508830
A essential books B good books

http://www.avpma.org   Alternatives to Violence Program
http://www.peacegames.org  Non violence in schools.
http://www.justicewithpeace.org   Nonviolent Peaceforce Training: Conflict Intervention Skills
http://www.corrymeela.org  helped broker peace in Northern Ireland
http://www.peaceabbey.org  nondenominational community in Sherborn, MA

more later ….

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The house we are renting leaks, but it doesn’t rain on us. We live downstairs above the poorly insulated basement. Very cool in the summer. Winter in Boston, not so good. I walked the dog down to the Franklin Library, the very first public library in America, to return a DVD of Harry Dresden. That I conveniently forgot to include last night on my way to work.

I noticed several houses near me were wrapped up like Christmas packages with a rainbow of colored tarpaulins Blue, yellow, black. Some of them looked like they were rush jobs, a few drycleaner bags held in place with duck tape and bricks placed haphazardly along the rooflines to secure the flimsy makeshift tarps. “what the hell?” was my first reaction, then I wondered if this was yet another arcane northern ritual, like all of the fire and police cars driving through town and neighboring townships with lights and sirens a blare on fourth of July parades. Bloody racket went on for hours.  Thank god for the Doppler effect. Then I spotted the reason. Shingles that only a few months before lay deep in their snow encrusted winter wear. The weight of one infinitesimal ice crystal unit flopped upon thousands, millions of brothers and sister flakes the decimation they can do damaging the shingles on houses.

How one small ripple effect cascades to rivulets that pull brittle shingles from tarpnails holding them securely guaranteed;  I’m sure by reputable roofers in the area. How one tiny incident of a billionth of an ounce can make it all happen. Reminding me of an explanation of Chaos theory my old Geology professor. “We’ll, something had to be the first; or nothing would ever happen.”

But how does Harry Dresden, the Detective and Kaballa chanting Wizard have in common with snowflake damaged roofs? It’s the unknown, and the cascading effect that has brought me here today.

 Last installment, I placed a target on my back, unloading trucks for a local Bigbox and applying for damn near every job that I found in two states. Well, I figured, if you can’t move energy one way, do it another.  There is a pride one has in having a job, even lowpaying minimum wage jobs of Americas’ vast working poor. when I looked at the bruises on both arms, breasts and knees from catching boxes and being scolded for improperly facing cans of soup and children’s sandals in spec with the Plan: An obvious failure in their eyes. Incompetent and slow minded. Humbling really, putting back into the environment I fought so hard all of my life to escape and now having lost the primary skills of one to one correspondence and keeping ones head down to avoid the lash. Now those crappy technology call center jobs didn’t sound so bad after all. But this is about moving energy wasn’t it.

Didn’t take long, I have about 275 resumes out. I’m on the second round of two now. One training technology, I do love teaching and the other a TSA officer at the airport. One gets me out of poverty, one gets me back into the industry and doing something I love. Here’s hoping I get the one I love, it pays the most and I feel at home.

A song by the Roaches comes to mind.

“Please, Mr sellack can have my old job back?
I won’t be mean to the customers when they want to
…. Send their burger back, and I’ll even clean the steam tables,
if you’ll just give me my old life back.”

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Buying a sofa doesn’t sound like a very emotional thing to be doing. For women well it’s better than buying a good pair of leather fashion boots at the beginning of the season, on sale, 7o% off.  Depending on the  brand…

Not today, I’ve spent twenty minutes in the shower bawling my eyes out over buying a sofa. Why? because, we are moving into a new place just on the next street over; Crescent St.  Why the trauma? It’s the third place we have lived in since my husband changed jobs in January. Leaving me to head up the rear moving from our dream home in Texas to the god-forsaken-north of Massachusetts.

First apartment was such a dump, dust fell from the ceiling when the heffalumps and Wossels upstairs walked. The gaps in the windows kept the ambient temperature at 50 degrees even with the thermostat at 90. So we paid the bloodsuckers 3,000.00 to break the lease and thanks to the generosity of  my husbands’ new job. We’re allowed to rent faculty housing for a year, until the deal changed and the incoming Dean bumped us out.  Not a problem.  I look forward to the new house. Hopefully, we will be able to get some roots. It’s been nerve-racking listening to the rumors and ignoring snipes from the community over our being in faculty housing. We’re not Faculty you see and by some therefore not worthy, even though we pay rent and they don’t.  Every few days I’d hear a different story.  You can be there six months or you shouldn’t be there at all, no, it’s okay you can stay for a year. Drove me nuts!

Don’t get me wrong! I am more than greatful for the housing, it was a god send and I hope helped us both out by getting some income from the property for the scool. Until they could hire a new Dean.

We have an unseen guest in our School St house. Everyone knew about it and after a few weeks of door handles opening and slamming shut we found out too. We nicknamed him “Phantom Dennis” I knew something was up when I heard stomping in the Attic (then found out we don’t have one, it’s been turned into the upstairs bed room) The next day Russ let me know we’d been bumped. “Phantom Dennis already told me” I said.  Then a few days later we had more slamming, until I told PH.D, (phantom Dennis)that we had to move and it wasn’t my idea, but he could come with us.  The slamming stopped; the only other weird thing is we watched the dog be scooted across the floor for about 3 feet. Misty yelping in protest and trying to keep her balance as the unseen boot up the butt swept her along. Not cool Phantom Dennis! We scolded. Behind the cupboard door is the closed off door to the basement and the footsteps we hear in the kitchen seem to cross the floor from the cupboard to the cabinet diagonally. We keep Misty’s bowels in front of that cupboard. I think Dennis was just making the rounds that night. The topic of conversation was moving.

I digress, I found the new place a block over, under the new moon, so it must be a sign. A Green and 6” x12” street sign on the corner anyway.  It’s smaller than this house, painted a nice mustard color. I’ve found an insulated  paint additive that claims to cut energy costs by 40% I think I will try it. Anything to save costs. The landlord is cool enough. Young couple quite no kids, dog lovers and about par with me as a  clutter bug, And they have a dog… The only places that take dogs here are rat holes, or expect a monthly 50-100 extra dollars to cover pet damages. Rent here is the same as we pay for our house in Texas and for just about the same spaces as we had in walk-in closet space. Our master bath in Texas is the size of our bedroom in the new place.  

Homes are so different here, “So, Terribly old you know”  as  a drunk at a London pub explained the meaning of Stonehenge many years ago. The bathroom is next to the kitchen and on the first floor. So, I’m hobbling half asleep down steep stairs two or three times a night. It’s big enough for the few pieces of furniture I was able to bring from home.  We have had a lovely 2,000.00 sofa, carved wood, the color is called chocolate aubergine.  What is left of it after the damage the movers did to the carving getting it through the door. My Egyptian hand carved acanthus leave throne chairs made it through the front door but not in to the living room. Why Russ had to have the smaller room for the living room… I won’t even go there.  It’s been a gift to be able to stay here during the winter to be warm and safe and only a few feet from campus.

I’ll be in a better mood when I get a fulltime job. I’m just watching the few remaining things of physical value get destroyed or left at curbside for the junk men to haul away.  I’ve been dressed for a while and I guess I’ll go and look for a new sofa that can fit through the vestibule of the new house.  I still belive cutting the legs off the one we have is the best choice for the value.  The alternative is spend money for crap piece of furniture and dump our lovely one at the charity shop. It just doesn’t seem right.

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Feast or Famine

Feast or famine, the spring is gushing abundance on me. Being out of work for the longest period of my life prior to my 10th birthday when I started working with my Great Aunt Helen sweeping hair and shampooing blue haired old ladies in her salon. She wanted me to go to “Hair school” I thought it was beneath me, I wanted to be a college professor!

Well, I’ve been a college professor, and ya know. My education hasn’t put food on the table since February, until yesterday anyway.  I was approached, after begging and whining to teach a class in Storage technology, I have two courses coming up that will bring me up to speed on the subject. Ah, education… The one class will teach happens in august, on a test basis. And I’m back in technology again! Not sociology, not psychology… technology at least it’s got an ology on the end. 

Two weeks ago I put my hat in the ring to substitute teach in the local ISD. Today, I got a call and subsequent interview to teach at the local elementary school.  So, in a week after spring break, I’ll be on the rotary to show up and commando through lessons plans. I have thought about  getting certified to teach 3rd grade. I’m hoping that k-6 have less drug-sex-n-rockin-roll involved that the high school classes I have taught in Texas.

I am hoping that I get enough income from subing that I can leap to the next lilly pad, know what I mean?


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My great Grandmother on her trek from Kentucky left a piano on the Prairie for the “WyldInjuns to learn to play. ” chucked it out of the back of the Conestoga wagon herself, so they say. I understand…

Where to start over?

I bemoan the loss of things for them and friends who are in need of help.  My mom was right I have a home and more crap than I need. There were times in the past few months when I felt like torching the piles of boxes, bedspreads and plastic table ware I’d collected over the years. Other times when I cried over something I had foisted on a local charity shop or worse on friends to lug around.

OMG! What are you whinin’ about, It’s not like you lost everything in a fire! My mother chastised me last week about sniveling over lost items that I had to dump on my move to Boston.  Then I got the Call from Mari, the friend we had saddled with our abundance and Pack-rat-cquetering had collected over the years. Everything we had given to friends back in January went up in flames last Saturday afternoon.

Thirty homes destroyed in five arson set prairie fires in three counties. My friends lost everything they owned. Mari, Muriel and Seasonal Dave, affectionately known to everyone as Father Christmas, or just Santa to most of the children in Sandia, Texas and all parts along the way, during the holidays and Sam the Sunny View Mall Photo Easter Bunny. Which is who Dave was being when the call to rush back home and help fight the fire came.

The fires had hop scotched through the small ranch called Tara Verdandi burning almost to the house stopping at the edge of the small dog run a few feet behind Muriel’s house. Mari is retired and rented an old  house trailer that had been use while they built the ranch house.  Dave and Muriel’s house escaped because they used the two wells, until both pumps were destroyed in the blaze, to water the house and fight back the fire with garden hoses and a wet broom. Mari’s trailer stands down by the barn next to the orchard or what is left of it. They heard falling trees for three days after the volunteer fireman left, most of the cops of trees are charcoal cinders that will need to be felled before the next big wind knocks them down or they fall on wanderers in the woods.
I just spoke with Mari, she was feeling bad about not saving the old Gateway laptop I gave her during the move along with a few boxes of books. 

I’m just glad she is alive, “I tried to run in and save the laptop and some stuff.” She said, But Dave held her back because smoke was beginning to seep out of the windows at the front of the trailer. She was able to save some favorite cutlery, sans melted handles. Like the wiring and tires on the ruined truck parked out front of her home that  she borrowed from  Dave and Muriel to make the half a mile drive to the edge of the property to fetch the mail or drive the thirty miles to the Stop n’ Go for essentials between the trips in to town for groceries.

I said that Muriel’s wood frame ranch house is okay, it did not burn however, everything is destroyed by smoke ash and cinders. The Barn has only a few posts standing, both riding mowers, essential to farm work gone, both wells gone, along with the ranch truck. Not counting diaries, school photos and a life time collection of brick-a-brack and hundreds of other rituals of daily life. Gone. Just Gone, in ten minutes time and a Prairie-fire-dragons’ kiss, just like that.
Mari is waiting for the neighbors to help her drag the collapsed roof of her trailer aside to see what else the fire gods left for her other than a melted heap of laptop and a raku bowl I had given her during the move.

Dave and Mari are retired Muriel still works for the school district in Sandia.
Here is a link to the photos of their place. Photobucket(you can see the bed frame is all that is left of Mari’s house.)

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Puddles were everything to me as a child, magical places that existed and then were gone. I can still see my face peering over the edge of a puddle and meeting myself for the first time. “hey that’s me in that reflection” I remember thinking, or whatever words a small barely verbal child would think. I got the first good look at myself. Now nearing 60, I’d like to spend more time on rainy days reflecting on my life and making some sense of it all. If I can.

It’s my own journey,  I could always make time for a little company.

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