Dixie Darr

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Off Days

In Uncategorized on May 14, 2018 at 8:02 pm

On days like today, I just feel a little off. Although I have plenty of things to keep me busy, I don’t feel like doing any of them. That could be because I didn’t sleep well the night before or because I ate something that didn’t agree with me or because, well, I don’t know why. I’m not sick or depressed, just lethargic. Maybe it’s the gloomy rainy weather although I kind of like that.
What I do know is that now that I’m no longer working, I can freely take those days off and do nothing but read. When I was working, of course, there were things I had to get done whether I felt like it or not.
While I like waking up in the morning and deciding what I want to do that day, sometimes I’d like just a little more structure in my life. My typical week includes a very few scheduled tasks. I go to church on Sundays and to the gym Tuesdays and Thursdays. A few days a week I go out to breakfast or lunch. Every day I read and write and exercise and meditate.
It turns out that this is a common feeling. I googled it and found dozens of suggestions for what to do when you don’t feel like doing anything. Read, they say, or exercise, or clean (that’ll be the day), or get out in nature. So I finished the book I was reading, went to class, listened to a few podcasts, took out the garbage, napped, watched a bit of television, and talked on the phone to my beau who was in an even worse mood than I was.
Oddly, that helped. Knowing I wasn’t the only one at loose ends cheered me up a little. “After all,” as Scarlett O’Hara said, “tomorrow is another day.” Tuesdays I go out for Chinese food and then see my friends at the gym. Things are looking up.


Born Wrong

In Uncategorized on September 21, 2017 at 9:54 am

His name was Ken, a little gnome of a guy whom I had a class with at the community college 45 years ago. I didn’t know him well. About a year later, he reappeared, this time as a woman. It freaked me out.

We had studied transgender (then called transsexual) people in Abnormal Psychology, the point being that it was abnormal, even deviant behavior. I don’t remember his, or her, new name, because I couldn’t talk to him and even avoided looking at him. Her.

Flash forward thirty-some years when I met a transgender man named Malcolm. He was engaged to and later married a student pastor at my church. I suppose it helped that I never knew him as a woman, but it was definitely easier this time to accept him and even to like him.

Tuesday night, I attended a talk given by a trans man named Jordan, who was remarkably candid about his life. Probably the most striking thing he said was that 58 percent of trans youth and teens attempt suicide if their parents are not supportive. If one parent supports the child, the suicide rate drops to only 4 percent. That alone is reason enough to accept and support children and teens who feel they were born into the wrong body.

Jordan told us that from a very young age, he tried to convince his mom that he was a boy. As he grew up he experienced constant anxiety that he didn’t look or act “girly” enough because he didn’t know how to be a girl even though his biology was female.

I don’t pretend to understand this. I may have envied or resented boys and men for the privileges they enjoy in our society, but I never thought I was one. It must be agony to feel so fundamentally betrayed by your own body every day of your life.

The only way I know how to deal with this is to let people be who they are. We don’t have to pass laws to tell them which bathroom to use. We have no reason to ban them from serving in the military. We don’t need to change them. We need to change us.

Words of Love (and Books)

In Uncategorized on September 5, 2017 at 10:24 am

Yesterday, I said The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry was about people who love books, and it is. Today, however, I reviewed my notes from the book and realized that as much as it’s about books, it’s about love.

Here are my favorite quotes.

You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?”

A place is not really a place without a bookstore.”

Someday, you may think of marrying. Pick someone who thinks you’re the only person in the room.”

It is the secret fear that we are unlovable that isolates us,” the passage goes, “but it is only because we are isolated that we think we are unlovable. Someday, you do not know when, you will be driving down a road. And someday, you do not know when, he, or indeed she, will be there. You will be loved because, for the first time in your life, you will truly not be alone. You will have chosen to not be alone.”

Now, don’t you think this book is worth a read? I may put it on my list of books I need to reread periodically. More about that tomorrow.

Featured Films – Bonus

In Uncategorized on August 7, 2017 at 10:01 am

My initial reaction to Moana was that, remarkably, no one in the movie thought anything about her being a girl setting out on a hero’s quest. No one made a disparaging comment that she was “just a girl” or suggested that she might not be up to the task because of her gender. To me, that’s a kind of miracle.
Nor did our pastor mention it.
It has not escaped my notice that all four of the movies in our sermon series this year star women. That can’t be a coincidence. A new USC study shows that “women remain strikingly underrepresented in film, both on- and off-screen. And when they show up, they are still portrayed in stereotypical ways.”
I’ve written before (Venus Envy) that the men in my church treat women as equals, as if it makes no difference.
I just want to say that their attitude and support makes a difference to me and I deeply appreciate it.

Get Over Yourself

In Uncategorized on July 17, 2017 at 5:54 am

You left our church, which you had attended all your life, because we voted to become a reconciling congregation. An old woman who had never married, you were afraid people would think you were a lesbian.
I’m trying to wrap my mind around that.
You don’t reject gay people because you have strongly held biblical beliefs based on six carefully selected verses, but because someone might think you’re gay.
Got it.
It’s all about you.
I never liked that Tom Brokow labeled you the Greatest Generation. I know you made it through the Depression and aced World War II, but that was all decades ago, and since then your major accomplishment seems to be clinging to racism, misogyny, and homophobia.
People tell me I should cut you some slack. Why? Because you’re too old to learn anything new? I don’t believe that. Science shows us that we can learn throughout our lives. You choose not to.
Who are these people whose opinion so concerns you? Friends? Will your friends of 20 or 40 or 60 years suddenly start treating you differently because your church believes that God loves all people?
Do you worry about strangers who might see you enter this church?
I guess it doesn’t bother you when LGBTQ people experience intolerance, prejudice, harassment, and the threat of violence due to their sexual orientation. Or when particularly vulnerable young LGBTQ people endure physical abuse, estrangement from family and friends, and torment at school, which can lead to underachievement, dropping out, mental health problems, and homelessness.
You can’t be bothered that LGBTQ people attempt suicide more than eight times as often as straight people because people might think you’re a lesbian.
Apparently, you’d rather people like me think you’re a bigot for discriminating against people for the way God made them.
And those anonymous people who distress you so much? They already think you’re gay.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Black in America

In Uncategorized on July 5, 2017 at 10:14 am

Written and posted yesterday by my dear friend, Rev. Sheila Baker-Johnson
On this day set aside for celebrating our country’s freedom, this sixty-six year old black woman, raised in conservative, red, white, and blue Texas, BBQ-eating, Girl’s State, all-city government, National Council of Christians and Jews (at the age of sixteen) could not find breath enough or peace enough in my soul or heart to be proud of what we call freedom in this country.
This past Friday night, I went to the 8:30 showing of Wonder Woman alone. As I was leaving the parking lot, a large, black Tundra truck was slowly crossing in front of me as I waited to make a left turn. It stopped. A small light began to flash on and off in my eyes.
I realized the truck was not moving forward, and I was blocked. In those few moments, I wondered if I remembered to tell my adult children that I loved them the last time I saw them. I wondered who would be the first to see my blood in the front seat of my car. Will they remember to sing Amazing Grace (which is my shero hymn) at my home going? Did I do my best in life and had I forgiven all that I needed to forgive? All of the spirits of my brothers and sisters killed unmercifully, unrighteously, and too soon were entwined in my spirit that night in the parking lot.
The light continued to move up and down and after several breaths of prayer, I lowered my window about a third of the way. It was a white police officer, non-threatening, smiling, and gently saying, “Ma’am your lights are off.” I said, “Thank you, officer, I did not realize that.”
As I turned my headlights on, I’m sure he saw the fright on my face. “Have yourself a good evening, HUN.” And he drove away.
You may say I’m over-sensitive–I should not have been out after dark alone. I should not be Driving While Black. I can fix those things, but I cannot fix being black in a racist society. I tried to cry it out, pray it out, dance it out, meditate it out. But that small, innocent, gentle INCIDENT could have ended differently.

Please do not comment on this post if you have never spoken out verbally, voted, or penned resistance against racism, excessive use of force, #45, or called your senators or congressmen about the state of their jurisdiction. I’ve done all of it, and I’m still black. And I’m still very, very sad.

Lost in America

In Uncategorized on July 4, 2017 at 8:09 am

I woke to this headline: As U.S. Retires as World Leader, China and Germany step up.
I can’t find much to celebrate this Independence Day.
My cousin Sandy agrees. “(It) really takes the fun out of the 4th of July to have that fool in the White House. Can’t get enthusiastic about the songs or anything patriotic.”
We lead the world only in things like weapons, violence, and the number of people in prison. If you think America is the greatest country in the world, watch this clip from the HBO series, Newsroom. The other countries of the world (except Russia!) share a universal disdain for our so-called leader. Just six months ago, our President was the most admired man in the world. How quickly things change.
Our Constitution, our character, and our very democracy are under attack by the human POS in the White House.
The one bright note I see is that the Resistance is alive and well. In the words of Paul Simon, “They’ve all gone to look for America.” Make no mistake, she’s lost and needs our help. Our legacy will be that we did not vote for the son of a bitch. We resisted, and we kept resisting.
Maybe our biggest disappointment is that 62 million people thought putting this man in the White House was a good idea. And after all the chaos and devastation he’s caused during his first six months, millions (although not 62 million) still think so.
I heard someone say, “things are bad now, but they’ve been bad before.” Really? When? When have we had a president doing everything he can to dismantle our democracy? Anyone? I posted this on Facebook, and one friend suggested that the last time this happened was when King George III was still in charge.
You know what it took to get rid of him. That is what we’re celebrating today.

We Are the World

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2017 at 6:03 am







“This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me”
We sang the chorus with gusto, and then we faded out when the verse came along. When the chorus returned, we sang out.
I was at the spring concert of Safonia, my friend Marla’s women’s chorus, and the theme was folk music. She asked us to sing along with this classic. Listen to the story of how it was written here.
Sung by everyone from Pete Seeger to Lady Gaga, it’s been called an alternative American anthem as well as a Marxist response to “God Bless America.”
It’s fun to sing, although a little jingoistic for me. I prefer the hymn, “This is My Song,” sung to the haunting tune of Jean Sibelius’ Finlandia because while it acknowledges “This is my home, the country where my heart is, Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine,” it also points out “But other hearts in other lands are beating, With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.”
Take a look at the photograph of the earth from outer space and you notice that there are no barriers between countries, nothing that shows conflicts between governments or division of races.
In fact, some scientists accept the Gaia hypothesis, which proposes that our planet itself is a breathing, living organism. This fits my personal theology.
The Earth is not just our environment, according to Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk and Zen master. “We are the Earth. The Earth is us. We have always been one with the earth.”
Once you accept this, Finlandia makes even more sense. “O hear my song, thou God of all the nations, A song of peace for their land and for mine.”
This is my song.

These Two

In Uncategorized on June 28, 2017 at 10:02 am









When Griffin was born nine years ago, he was the first baby in our family since his mother was born 37 years before that, and I became a great aunt (well, I was always a great aunt). His sister, Harper, came three years later.

They live in Phoenix, so I only get to see them once or twice a year when they come to stay with their grandparents. While I wish they lived closer so I could see them more frequently, three or four hours at a time is about all I can take of these perpetual motion machines. After their grandparents move to Tucson in a couple of years, I’ll see them less than that.

Last night was my chance to get caught up with them this year. Both are smart and sweet and profoundly silly. I’ve heard that kids laugh about 300 times a day while adults laugh only five times. Spending time with them puts me several weeks ahead on my fun quota.

Griffin likes science and social studies. His science project this year imagined a tour through our solar system including visits to Jupiter’s moons and surfing (!) the rings of Saturn. He still counts Pluto as a planet no matter what Neil deGrasse Tyson says.

Harper’s favorite subjects are art and math, although at heart she is a performer who says she “never” gets stage fright. She recently had eight inches cut off her never before shorn hair so she’d look more like Taylor Swift.

Both love sports. They swim every day and run. Harper takes gymnastics and Griffin likes baseball and basketball. They may go to a sports camp this summer to learn archery.

My brother said an aunt’s job is to rile them up and then go home. He thinks I do it very well.

I think my job as their great aunt is simply to love them to distraction. I do that very well, too.

A Mystery to Me

In Books, Uncategorized on May 5, 2017 at 9:53 am

As a kid, I read all the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books I could get my hands on and later discovered Agatha Christie. Then I abandoned mysteries. In my twenties, I was all about science fiction, reading Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, and Frank Herbert’s Dune series. A friend told me he thought I’d like Larry McMurtry’s All My Friends are Going to be Strangers. He was right; I read every McMurtry book that came out through the exquisite Lonesome Dove and several beyond that, although there was no matching that one.

Edging toward thirty, I turned to nonfiction, reading all kinds of books about philosophy and writing and finding your calling and nature.

Somehow I found my way to Louis L’Amour. I started with Riders of the Purple Sage (because purple) and then ran his entire collection of westerns. When I read his autobiography The Education of a Wandering Man, I adopted his habit of making a list of every book I read, which I continue to this day.

In the mid 1980s a friend told me about Tony Hillerman. I became a devoted Hillerman fan and through him, a fanatic reader of mysteries. I love finding new mystery writers and tend to read every book they write. Here’s a list of my favorite mystery authors with some commentary.

Tony Hillerman – when he passed away in 2008, I mourned as well the loss of his characters, Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, so I was thrilled to learn that Hillerman’s daughter Anne intended to carry on the series. Her first book, Spider Woman’s Daughter, was terrific, but I was very disappointed in Rock With Wings. I’m cautiously optimistic about the just-released Song of the Lion. I’m #53 on the holds list, so it could be a while. I especially enjoy her emphasis on Chee’s wife, Officer Bernadette Manuelito.

Sue Grafton – I was browsing in the mystery section of Woodbury Library in 1991, before the days when every library (and every other entity in the universe) had a web site, and I found H is for Homicide. After reading that, I started over at A is for Alibi and have read every book since, three times so far. I’m looking forward to Y is for Yesterday coming out in August but also already dreading that Z is only a year or two away. Nobody even begins to fill her shoes.

Margaret Coel—the Wind River series appealed to me because it was set in Wyoming and gave me a chance to learn about the Arapaho living on the reservation there. That Coel lives in Boulder is a plus. I met her at a Colorado Authors League lunch once and turned all fan girl. I was sorry to learn that she is ending the series after Winter’s Child, the latest book.

Here in no particular order are some other mystery series authors whose books I look forward to every year.

Sara Pretsky

Marcia Muller

J A Jance

C J Box

Dana Stabenow

Craig Johnson

Nevada Barr

Julie Smith

Susan Wittig Albert

Lisa Lutz

I’m always on the lookout for new authors if you’d like to make a recommendation.