You can’t sleep here

The old woman is sleeping. Her eyes are closed and her chin sits on the top of her bundle of possessions. Her hands dangle in her lap, arms rest on her thighs. She sits heavily on the blue metal bench. Her gray hair is neatly fashioned in a tight bun on the top of her head. The woman wears no makeup on her pale, slightly ruddy face. Her clothes have that washed-out no particular color look and fit loosely over her large body.

The green plastic chair is the first thing I see as I approach the transit station. It is overturned and tied to the top of her cart. Everything and nothing gives her away as someone who has nowhere to go. But mostly it is the cart or rather the possessions in the cart, which I can’t actually see. I can see several full plastic bags and something large and dark blue. It could be a blanket or a sleeping bag folded up. Everything in the cart is as tidy as her hair. The cart is not a grocery store cart. It is the kind of two-wheeled cart one can buy to tote groceries from the store.

This is what I see as I pass. I think how hard it is to just get enough sleep when you are homeless. You sleep in small frames of time never having enough to really recharge, to really give your body and your mind, particularly your mind, what it so needs to survive. Thriving is a wistful dream. Sleep deprivation kills. Even this kind of sleep deprivation shortens your life even if you have a place to live and plenty of nutritional food and exercise and love. If you don’t have these things, there is no reserve and sleep deprivation is more lethal.

While housed people are thinking about how to have healthier longer lives, the old woman just wants to sleep. And Christ, is that too much to ask? Apparantly so. As I board the train, I see two police, one on each side of her. I see her outstretched hand holds something. An identification? The train begins to move slowly out of the station and the woman stands up, begins pushing her cart, moves away from the bench, from sleep. Weariness in her every lumbering step.

sleeping dogs

“What they say about dogs is that sleeping dogs dream and only sleeping dogs. They lie in their dreams. So people say let sleeping dogs lie. Waking up a dreaming dog is inadvisable. A dog suddenly awakened from dream might do anything.“ — Book of Baba, verse 58


Chili’s restaurants are closing all over the country. I read this today. I’ve never been to a Chili’s restaurant. It is probably not such a bad thing that they are closing. Except for the people who work in these restaurants who will be losing their jobs. It is hard for them. As hard as working at a Chili’s is the prospect of losing your job working there at a time when a lot of people are losing their jobs and you don’t really know if you will get another one any time soon. Soon enough to keep you from losing all the things you have. 


All the things you have. Every book, every dish, every picture, every blanket, towel, tv, cd, everything. This isn’t a fire. There is time to save everything, but nowhere to take it. No one to take it. Your things are junk on the parking strip next to the dumpster. In the dumpster. Garbage to the landlord who has to dispose of it.


It is no consolation at all to the waiter, the cook, the manager, that Chili’s was an expression of mediocrity supporting the conservative traditionalist point of view. Accept this crap; it is good crap. Conformista.


Conformista is a Spanish concept. Almost the same as conforming, but we Estados Unidas don’t like to say we conform and we have these little pretend rebellions , which usually involve buying something advertised as rebellious. And the end result is conformance to the whims and wishes of the corporate robber barons. 


The Mexicans, on the other hand, do not harbor such illusions, such delusions. Conformista — adapting to what is around you. Making the most of the place you are in. Not kicking against the destroyers. Maybe this is a concept the Spanish were able to sell to the indigenous people and maybe it was easy to hold up the natives to the north as an example. “See what happens when you fight back. You are destroyed. If you don’t want to be destroyed . . . conformista. Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead should be translated into Spanish. 


Of course, not every Mexican shrugs and accepts. Not every American eats at Chili’s and believes life is good and just. It is hard to fight against the apathy here and I suspect it is just as hard to fight against it in Mexico. Every culture has its dark side, its own paralytic condition.


Religion is a part of that paralysis. It is the thing that is slipped between the lips — the body and the blood, communion — with this bread, with this blood is communicated all the tenets of oppression, in the guise of a savior. Each religion has its own sacraments of enslavement.


Religion is a closed loop always coming around to its own argument as a justification for what it says is true. ”It is true because I say it is true.“ ”This book (insert Torah, Koran, Bible, Bhagavid Gita, etc, here) is true because it says it is true.“ You cannot doubt it because it says it is the word of God, or Allah, or Yahweh, or Shiva. Every word is true.


No its not.


Each of these books have some basic truths and each of them have some hideous lies. Each destroys, each is cruel, each is oppressive. Each is a tool of the ones who intend to always be masters by the ”divine right“ of their self-anointing. The king is anointed by God.


No he’s not.


Put some holy oil on his head and call it good.


No its not.


If there be God and God is represented by any one of these ”holy“ books, then I put myself outside of the circle. For I am woman, despised of God. The words of these books make a slave of woman, of me, call me whore when men force themselves on me. Say I must not speak in public, must enshroud myself lest my form tempt a man to sin. 


What insane world, what mad culture makes a straight line to righteousness through the practice of such evil?


Evil it is. No woman should subject herself to that darkness. Every woman who does bears some responsibility for the suffering of future generations of women. Maybe that is the nature of original sin. Allow evil and you visit it upon your sisters. 


Oh Eve, what brutality did you fail to protest?