Stages of Grief

Found in my internet wanderings, a selection of letters from grade school aged kids expressing their anxiety, grief, and eventual acceptance of the fact that Pluto is no longer classified as a planet. They have been compiled together as part of a new book, The Pluto Files.

The kids are rather adamant and articulate about the whole Pluto situation.

And they go through the seven stages of grief:

Shock and Denial – Will says, “You are missing planet Pluto. Please make a model of it.” Then follows up with an illustration in case the scientists don’t remember what it looks like.

Bargaining – John took a poll of eleven people, all of whom thought Pluto is a planet. “I had a half day off from school yesterday so my mom brought me to the Museum of Natural History and the Hayden Planetarium. I wanted to see you so I could tell you this in person.”

Guilt – Madeline works the guilt aspect well….”What do you call Pluto if its not a planet anymore? If you make it a planet again all the science books will be right…Some people like Pluto.”

Anger – Emerson says, “I do not like your answer!!! Pluto is my favorite planet!!! You are going to have to take all of the books away and change them.”

Depression – Taylor is starting to feel the loss. “We’re sorry about giving you mean letters saying we love Pluto but not you.”

Acceptance – Finally, Siddiq brings it all together. “I know how you feel…we just have to get over it – that’s science.”

See images of the letters here.

By the by, our Fair New Mexico has already passed legislation recognizing Pluto’s full planet status. Where I come from, we do “do” lesser galactic structures. Planet or nuthin’ baybee! Mr. Clyde Tombaugh, a kind gentle man (yes, I once met him) would be pleased.

The things that stick with you

Yesterday, in celebration of my mom-in-law’s fabulous birthday, the three of us (The mom-in-law, The Good Man and me), loaded up for a trip to a museum.

It’s become our tradition on birthdays. We have a day of culture in celebration. Memorable days are the best presents ever.

Yesterday’s destination was The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.

I was unsure what to expect when we got there. Would it be Jewish artifacts? Would it be art made by Jewish artists?

But I love museums, so I was totally in.

I was fully unprepared for what awaited me. There were just three main exhibits, as the museum itself isn’t that large.

The first exhibition we visited was called: “Our Struggle”: Responding to Mein Kampf

I’d read online how French painter and photographer, Linda Ellia, took on a project to have artists and non-artists alike transform the pages of Hitler’s nasty tome.

From the website:

“The book’s weight in her hands embodied the heaviness of the Holocaust; she felt compelled to respond. After personally altering a number of the pages to express her anger, she invited hundreds of people from all over the world to paint, draw, sculpt, and collage directly on the pages of the book.”

I could not have begun to imagine how tragic, and beautiful, and life affirming the exhibit would be.

There were over 600 altered pages on display, each one with a unique voice, a unique pain, a unique promise.

There were pages done by professional artists and pages done by random people that Linda met in coffee shops and on the street.

The works were sometimes simple and elegant, like the page where every word was carefully excised, leaving only a page of small rectangles. Or a page where every letter was made into a small figure of a person.

In some cases, the works were very extravagant, a train, in exquisite detail, done in watercolors, completely covering the page. Or an intricate felted and painted heart that was then sewed and stapled to the page.

Each page transformed the words of hate into a work of art. Truly, deeply, reclaiming those pages.

I don’t know if my description or the websites description even does the exhibit justice. It was one of the most profound things I have ever witnessed.

And this one will stick with me for a while.

(image of The Contemporary Jewish Museum, from their website)

Talking About That Little Lady

Stepping into the wayback machine, I recall a trip I took with my parents when I was twenty-one.

It was their birthday present to me, a trip to Las Vegas (all of us kids got such a trip when we became of legal age.)

While there, we paid a visit to my aunt and uncle who live in a small town outside of Las Vegas.

My grandmother was staying with the aunt and uncle, so it was a smallish family reunion.

As we all bedded down for the night, being the youngest, I took up my place on the pull out bed in the living room. This gave me a ringside seat for the show that lay ahead.

In less than 20 minutes, I began to hear the distinct sound of my grandmother snoring. Oh, she was a world-class snorer.

Soon enough, I could also hear the recognizable sound of my dad sawing up some logs.

Mom joined him quickly, singing harmony in this snore chorus.

From the other direction of the house came sound new to me, but easy to identify. My uncle, also snoring. More quietly but surely there, my model beautiful aunt also found her nasal instrument.

Great. Five adults, all sawing the logs. I didn’t get much sleep that night.

I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t become a snorer, no matter how much age and genetic heritage may dictate it would be so.

Plus, I am a very light sleeper, I reasoned, so I’d wake myself up if I started down the road of my destiny.

A good plan. That hasn’t really worked.

Time passed, as it will, and wouldn’t you know it, my nose and soft palette have found their tuning. I’ve managed to become a snorer.

Not massively so, as attested to by The Good Man, but yes, I do snore.

And yes, I do usually manage to wake myself up when I do.

Like, oh, about half hour ago when for some reason a sound much akin to an angry hippo issued from my nostrils.


Ladies don’t snore! They don’t! Damnit! I’m a lady!

Ladies also don’t sweat, so I am unable to account for the pool of moisture around my neck upon waking up this morning.


A couple years ago, The Good Man and I joined another couple for dinner and drinks at one of the yacht clubs in San Francisco. The Good Man’s best friend is a member.

After a fine meal, the four of us retired to the bar where, with drinks in hand, we engaged in a rousing game of liar’s dice.

Well, just as things get rolling, as it were, an Admiral of the club, a huffing old Caucasian man with a bulbous nose and wearing a rumpled navy blue jacket bustled over to us. He leaned over the bar and blurted, “Ladies do NOT shake dice in bars!”

harrumph harrumph

Remember when you were a kid in the front seat when your mom was driving? When she would hit the brakes, that strong mom arm would come out to protectively keep you from flying through the windshield?

The Good Man and his best friend did something akin to that, keeping both of their lovely wives from rocketing up off of their bar stools and becoming real unladylike in a hurry.

So let’s see…let’s recount my offenses. Shaking dice in a bar. Sweating. Snoring.

Oh fine. When the old definitions don’t fit anymore, it’s time to edit the dictionary!

A lady can indeed shake dice in a bar! And also, I suppose, snore. Ladies can also drink whiskey, shout at sporting matches, drive too fast, belch, curse and gamble.

There. That oughta cover me.

At least for this week, anyway.

:cue Tom Jones:

Wow, New Mexico, really?

I’m late to this party, but just have to write a few words of huffiness regarding the New Mexico Senate’s vote to start taxing tortillas.

I got wind of this from former Albuquerque mayor Jim Baca‘s blog and have read up a bit more this morning.

This article from New Mexico Independent told me all I need to know.

The vote has already passed the Senate. Ugh.

So look. I get it, ok? In the best of boomtown heydays, New Mexico has never been a rich state. How does a state make money? Taxes.

A few years back, New Mexico made the move to end taxes on groceries.

When I moved to California over a decade ago, I was shocked to discover that grocery food items here aren’t taxed. Holy jeebus, California will certainly tax everything else! But food, no.

Then California decided to add in a tax on junk food items.

Ok, fine. I disagree with it, but I get it.

So, in theory, I understand what New Mexico is doing. They need money. Lots of it, and so adding in a junk food tax is not totally unprecedented.

However…when the “junk food” term applies to cultural food staple items like tortillas and chile pods, now I have to ask myself just what the sam hell is going on in my home state?

I tend to shy away from the “tax the rich!” debates, but I have to say, on the face of it, taxing flour and also taxing tortillas made from flour really sounds like punishing the less financially well to do.

I’m left a bit perplexed at this whole thing.

For New Mexico, a state that has always sought to maintain the ethnic heritage of the multi-cultures that call the Land of Enchantment home, this seems to be a strange and rather elitist move.

To quote Joe Monahan, this whole debacle “will surely be remembered as an example of the utter disconnect in our time between the elected and voting classes.”

It seems not really very fair, Oh Fair New Mexico.

(You’d think the guv, no stranger to a tortilla, might have more to say?)