Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Today feels like the kind of day where energy is just skidding and zinging all over the place. Maybe it's the last day of the month, and there's a scurry to finish all things June. Maybe it's the waxing state of the moon, growing and swelling like a great pearlescent melon. Maybe it's my body's response to that. But I'm feeling this great conflagration of energy moving toward, moving away, stirring up round and around.

Today I am thinking of Lt. Dan Choi, poised to be the 266th member of the U.S. Military to be discharged for his sexual orientation since President Obama took office. I am thinking of the frustration he must feel and the faith he has to summon, having to defend his service to his country and his right to love as his heart dictates. I am not often in the practice of measuring oppression, and so I am uninterested in whether a man who is gay has it better or worse than a black woman. I have never lost a job because of how I love. My personal life has never affected my employment, as far as I know. He may be sweating under his dress uniform today, but I hope he is stayed with righteousness inside his heart.

I am thinking of men and women in the streets of Tehran who want a new government, who want fairness and balance, and their rage at the fact that no one is listening, that their government is brutalizing them. I live in a country that allows me to say whatever I think about its politics. I am that kind of free. My heart aches for these citizens: they need not know democracy, but they do not know freedom.

I am thinking of white men who were victorious in suing the city of New Haven, CT, because they feel they were unfairly passed over for promotion, and the strange charge around this non-starter of an issue. This is not an issue of race preference, it's an issue of employee measurement and what makes a good fireman. Ultimately, if I need to be rescued from my third-floor apartment building, the fireman's strength, stamina or ability to make good decisions in stressful situations is not as important to me as is his ability to score correctly on 80% of multiple choice questions. Yeah, I feel good about that.

And I am thinking of a green-eyed, gray-haired cat.

This morning I popped by a neighbor's home to borrow a ladder: sweetheart and I are painting the apartment, and alas, ceilings too high for our three-foot step stool. After a quick hello and chat, I shouldered the six-foot aluminum ladder and made for my car. One of her kids walked out with me to open the gate, and quick as a flash of gray lightning, their cat zipped out the door, off the porch and into the foliage on the Rogers Park Fruit Market grounds.


Lisa, Fiama, Gabriele and I spent about fifteen minutes crouching in bushes, tiptoeing around and calling for this cat, who blended perfectly with the shadows beneath the leaves. I listened to them call to her, "Micha! Micha!" over and over, Lisa directing her son and daughter in a musical urgent Italian. I wondered what she was telling them, and what the cat's name meant, and I felt like a prize heel. I'm the one who needed the ladder, they were buzzing me back out the gate. The cat thought, "Freedom!" and ran for the door. She looked like a house cat, long hair, cozy, moody. Not a cat who hunts birds and rodents and brings them home as rewards; a cat who sleeps with her butt in the sunshine and nudges beside you to watch Sex in the City reruns.

Peeling back evergreen boughs, I found myself eye-to eye with her. She sat poised, looking irritated but not frightened, almost dubious about her situation. "Oh, I found her," I whispered, "there she is."

Fiama crept into her space, grabbed her and scooped her up, Mom cheering and congratulating in a sincere but dry voice, "Brava, bravissima."

I wished them well, apologized for the trouble, tied the ladder in my car and went home.

Some days you just want to dart out of the house, where all the stuff his happening, and curl up into a ball and hide in the shadows. It's nice when someone remembers you, too, and brings you out of that darkness into the light.

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