Monday, August 27, 2018

A Memory, Remembering

The Unused Portion (in case you haven't guessed) is on vacation, so I'm reposting this oldie-but-goodie because it was written about the place I'm going to be tomorrow.

see you all soon, when I'm back state-side!

Monday, August 20, 2018

On the Road Again!

"You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” - Miriam Adeney

"I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” - Mary Anne Radmacher

"A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." - Lao Tzu

"Traveling carries with it the curse of being at home everywhere and yet nowhere, for wherever one is, some part of oneself remains on another continent.” -Margot Fonteyn

"We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls." - Anais Nin

"One's destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things." - Henry Miller

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

"Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” -Maya Angelou

"Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves." - Henry David Thoreau

"Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold your life in your hands all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time.” -Hannah Arendt

"A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places.” -Isabelle Eberhardt

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." - Mark Twain

"As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own.” - Margaret Mead

"Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” - Mary Ritter Beard

"For the born traveler, traveling is a besetting vice. Like other vices, it is imperious, demanding its victim's time, money, energy and the sacrifice of comfort." - Aldous Huxley

“As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.” - Virginia Woolf

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." - Saint Augustine

"Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home." - Matsuo Basho

"The best education I have ever received was through travel." - Lisa Ling

"Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world." - Gustave Flaubert

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Ghost of Poems Past

Snake Awakening

after (how many?) caresses

when our lips (finally) brushed

playing on the edge

of tension,

I tasted tobacco, beer, and stubble

went back for more

for his fingertips, and my longing

like an old lover, like how my fingertips

remembered the curve of his back

like the taste of my fear, shaking

low, like a snake awakening

an earthquake


with his breath in my ear

lips on the back of my neck

a bite on my shoulder

his hand in my hair, pulling

a sigh from my throat

hands sliding

through moans



I called him, have called him

it was Solstice, he emerged

fully grown from his cave

to receive the goddess

and interrupt my dreams

in my bed

with offerings and ablutions

knocking me clean

into the next ecstasy, days

of weak knees, staring eyes, whimpering sighs

weeks to forget the way my womb


to his touch

tobacco and beer

and stubble

on my tongue

my pleasure on his

these gods of summer,

these shadow plays!

ripen to bittersweet

while dancing thankful

across my skin.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tuesday Afternoon

I didn't write a blog post this week, as in, I didn't have a running theme that I engaged with on the page for several days in a row, that I polished up and edited to post on Monday.  I have a big event coming up, and most of my time and energy has been taken up by planning and prepping for that One Thing, and the weather has been hot and humid, which exhausts me, so I've been pretty wrapped up inside myself and my daily to-do's to get everything done on time, or at least demonstrably close.  one thing I DID do this week was write a letter to a local person who is the administrator for a facebook group that I was blocked from for standing up for my people, my family, and myself.  so, I decided I would post that letter here, and call it a day (night).  feel free to contact me if you want your name added to the signature line, or if you find any typos or anything.  thanks, and enjoy ~

Letter to: Jim Dougherty

and: Ulster Publishing – Woodstock Times
PO Box 3329
322 Wall Street
Kingston, NY 12402
(Fax) 845-334-8202
Brian Hollander, Editor:

Daily Freeman
79 Hurley Ave.,
Kingston, NY 12401
fax: 845-331-3557
Tony Adamis: Managing Editor, ext. 01095

Brian K. Mahoney, Editorial Director
(845) 334-8600 ext. 103

Lower Hudson Valley Chapter - NYCLU
297 Knollwood Road, Suite 217
White Plains, NY 10607
Telephone: 914-997-7479
Fax: 914-997-2936

Following is a letter to Mr. Jim Dougherty, the administrator for the online Facebook group 'Woodstock Bulletin Board'.

Mr. Dougherty -

I was distressed to learn that I was blocked from the Woodstock Bulletin Board facebook group because as an educated Romani woman, I chose to bring attention to the fact that a White woman was appropriating my culture, and using an ethnic slur for my people as the name of her business. I learned of this 'blocking' on August 2 - the 74th anniversary of the liquidation of the 'Gypsy Camp' at Auschwitz-Birkenau, adding further insult to injury. There were two businesses in the town of Woodstock who also used this slur in their names, both closed, now, and while I didn't patronize either establishment, I did make it clear to others how it made me feel to see those hurtful words every day, and used them as examples to explain the ignorance of others to my young son. While there are many businesses who use the word “Gypsy” as their name, as we evolve as a society and culture, there are quite a few business owners who have realized that this is an inappropriate practice, and have changed their business names out of respect for who we are, and what we have faced, as a people. We have a right to live with the same dignity that is afforded to every individual in this country, this state, this county, and this community, and by blocking me from a community group, it is made it clear that there are those who don't think my family is entitled to the same rights as others, that my son doesn't deserve to be treated with the same respect as other students in our schools, and that we don't have the right to know when events are happening in and around the community in which my family makes its home. This thoughtless act clearly states that I either agree to being demeaned, degraded, and silenced, or I can’t be in the group, so I feel I need to speak up for both my family, and my people, before this misinformation disseminates any further, and is allowed to spread its hateful poison throughout the beautiful Hudson Valley, which has long been home to many cultures and religions, as well as minorities and refugees.

It is infuriating for us when non-Roma choose to impersonate our culture with their swirly-skirts and tinkly-bell jewelry to be seen as mysterious and exotic, while we suffer the slings and arrows of “dirty gyppo, go back where you came from thief/beggar/liar – Hitler should have finished the job!” We have been accused of kidnapping little White children while it is our youths who are systematically removed from their families/culture/language, as with the recent case of 'Maria', a blond girl 'found' among darker people, and taken from her foster family, later found to be of Roma decent. The news story prompted a rash of officials across several countries to go out and conduct a witch-hunt against dark-skinned people with light-skinned children...of which I am one. Given the recent horrific events endured by immigrant families that have been savagely ripped apart by Draconian government policies, it seems we are slipping farther and farther into allowing the kinds of hate-speech and prejudicial attitudes that brought about the Holocaust, and there are a great many people who are willing to stand up and demand that it Not be allow to happen Ever again.

Would the town of Woodstock, the all-inclusive hippie-love-fest, peace and understanding art colony of years past not gasp openly if a shop using an ethnic slur for Jews, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, or Native Americans opened its doors for business? Or would it be tolerated? What if it was insulting the Whites? The slur to which I am referring is one you may not even know is a slur. The word is Gypsy (please note the capital 'G' – a lower case 'g' perpetuates disrespect for the exonym). The word is highly controversial, and some of us use it among ourselves with pride, though the preferred term – for those of us who grew up having epithets hurled at us – is Roma, or the more specific names of our subgroups (known as vitsas), some of which include Kale, Manoush, Romanichal, Dom, Lovari, Kalderash, and Sinti.

In all fairness, I'm sure the owner of said business is probably a lovely individual, and my intent is not to cause them any harm or embarrassment, but to give them the chance to openly acknowledge their mistake, make the proper apologies, and perhaps even do their small part to make sure their customers are informed as to the truth about our people, rather than just taking our name and using it for the benefit of their own finances. Another business owner in a similar situation some time back agreed to keep books about Roma and some printed materials with information in the store, and on their website – would these local folks perhaps agree to sell products or disseminate information in the same manner? Would they consider sponsoring an essay contest, donating books about the Romani people to the library, or sponsoring a forum? They are creative people, and I'm sure they can come up with a way to use their success to open a dialogue and engage positively with those who find offense with the slur under which they chose to do business.

The term 'Gypsy' comes from the erroneous belief that our ancestors originated from Egypt. Our language, customs, and DNA kits tell the true story – we originated in India, before being spread in a Diaspora across Europe and the Americas as slaves and servants, without rights, who have been systematically oppressed and slaughtered to this very day. In many countries we are still barred from schools, ensuring that our children will not be educated, and therefore perpetuating the cycle of poverty we have been held in for centuries. On the other hand, many of us have managed to overcome great odds to become educators, doctors, lawyers, artists, musicians, and bastions of cultural literacy. We bristle at the Halloween costumes cultural appropriators don every year. Our children are confused and shamed by those who dress up as caricatures of our grandmothers, while we ourselves fear to don our own cultural dress as it gives us away to a society that has made it clear they only want us as models for their own romanticized version of what being Gypsy means, which is usually so far from the truth, it hurts.

Several Roma recently wrote in to Hudson Valley One about an article written about a performance of Macbeth performed at Opus 40 in which the director of the Dzieci Theater Group misrepresented our culture, and we were treated to dignified response stating that they were 'misquoted', and would be changing the way they presented the performance in the future out of respect for us, and our cultural heritage. That is how to “be a good neighbor, and work to make things better daily”, a quote taken directly from Mr. Dougherty's facebook page – not by blocking community members from community groups. We call upon the business owners, the town, the community, and activists of all stripe to choose to do the same, and be on the right side of history with this issue. Racism, xenophobia, antiziganism, and any kind of racial intolerance is on its way to oblivion – let us use this as an opportunity to advance together, and move into a more inclusive future where the town of Woodstock can reengage with the statement made on the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce and Arts website, “...where the individual is always welcome and new and creative beginnings are always possible.”


(several people whose names I removed to protect identities)