Women's Happiness, or lack of

Here we go again with that American dream, the pursuit of happiness. Are we really surprised to find that we have less, rather then more in this country of supposed plenty, the richest country in the world with supposedly the most opportunities? (A list of the US standing in terms of education, child death, death penalty, health care and on and on would be appropriate here. Sorry, I am not a great researcher.)

"First, since 1972, women's overall level of happiness has dropped, both relative to where they were forty years ago, and relative to men. You find this drop in happiness in women regardless of whether they have kids, how many kids they have, how much money they make, how healthy they are, what job they hold, whether they are married, single or divorced, how old they are, or what race they are." Marcus Buckingham, Huffington Post "All told, more than 1.3 million men and women have been surveyed over the last 40 years, both here in the U.S. and in developed countries around the world. Wherever researchers have been able to collect reliable data on happiness, the finding is always the same: greater educational, political, and employment opportunities have corresponded to decreases in life happiness for women, as compared to men."

What constitutes happiness? We know that the northern European countries are considered to be the happiest, but I would prefer calling them more content, in great part due to their greater social security and stability. My Swiss friends rarely change jobs or homes or mates. Functioning within the system they gain social status and the added comforts that go with such. Telling though the Swiss can hardly wait to get away, is there a nation that travels more for escape?

The US is such a melange of everything, surely in the metropolitan areas there is barely any refuge to be found in the glue of social conventions. A sense of belonging and purpose surely must contribute to an individuals happiness.

As a child of the seventies, or sixties how can we possibly feel happy in this oh so very strange world, where Bush manages to get elected not once, but twice. Where wars are fought despite mass protests on absolutely wrong presumptions. Where the earth keeps on being raped and polluted despite forewarnings for decades. Where global warming kills off the walruses, to mention only today's news. Where as a feeling, breathing human being we are inundated with atrocities from around the globe by the hour, even the minute. "Anybody who can look at the state of the world and NOT be depressed isn't paying attention." someone's quote and maybe bumper sticker

What happened to peaceful coexistence and living with nature? Dominion is still the name of the game. Animals suffer our perceived needs, which really are just endless wants and we turn a blind eye to theirs. And what really gets me is the cry to violence from those professed Christians, those that kill doctors that perform abortions, those that cry war on those not proven guilty, those that seek revenge when Christ told us to turn the other cheek.

Oh well, let's get personal: I don't go to church, I do not have family, I am an immigrant, first generation, I don't feel I belong, I am not happy!

First thought is well, get your attitude adjusted, happiness is of your own making, no one to blame but yourself. How easy we are at assigning blame, including to ourselves!

To be happy is supposedly a choice we make. This goes in the face of us human beings, by nature being if not dependent, certainly interdependent. We need one another for survival, at least have been doing so for millenniums. Yet, instead of cooperating and thriving, we the human race, engage in wars and exploitation of one another and Mother Earth. How can we not feel depressed in this male dominated western, uncivilized world? And no, I am not a hard core feminist that hates men, but think that this patriarchal way of being sadly is emulated by women too, especially those on the ladder upward.

Walruses are dying en mass because of global warming, in today's news. Somali warlords keep on fighting and the women keep subsisting in inhumane conditions. Women still work harder for less. For the few that did break through the ceiling that many slave away in one form or another. Isn't it amazing that the word slavery still applies and such conditions thrive in today's US democracies. Russian and Asian women and so many others are lured to the land of milk and honey only to find themselves in a living hell.

Want not and you will be happy, all misery exists because of desire is what some say. Blame is placed on the images found in magazines and on TV. Supposedly I make my own misery by subjecting myself to such and comparing myself to face lifted, plastic boobed dolls and maybe to the sex kitten toys sought out in men's magazines. We live in a world of addiction, now who of those porn obsessed, beer bellied, incoherent dopey eyed specimens of the male variety can go beyond the old fashioned role of provider and make a woman feel truly seen, heard and met intellectually, emotionally, spiritually and bodily?

I would say that every woman living in a patriarchal society must feel, to the extent that she has not given up her own nature in trying to adjust to the dominant male mode, like a round, fluid sphere inside a rigid, tight fitting square. The dominant mode of striving for success - at any price, placing value in acquisitions, promoting image and hiding essence, none of it for the common good, must feel alienating.

And then comes the midlife crisis, the no longer holding value with diminished sex appeal in a man's eye and finding out how easily one is replaceable. Some women turn to women only to find out that we lost our sense of cooperation and engage in similar dominant behavior with one another as we tried to escape from.

Women supposedly get sadder and men happier after 4o, isn't it obvious? Men think they still can score a young chick, at least they imagine themselves in the running league, to them it is always a possibility. Women know better, that is with the exceptions of those like Demi Moore and the likes, and you know how they look and tweet!

But sex goes only so far and then are the realities for some of us: No insurance, no secure income, over the hill with no good prospects for work or a mate and only one incident away from catastrophe. Men rot in jails while women struggle to survive and bring up their kids alone. Men cheat, some women leave. It is known that men do better financially after divorce then women. We wonder why these women are unhappy? No doubt if we asked them they would express relief from having gotten away from an unfaithful husband,  one more interested in porn, or hanging out with beer drinking buddies watching TV all night, or ogling women because another male heart failed to open. Is it a wonder women are unhappy? How many truly happy couples do we know?

Women used to have friends that filled the role of a caring, nurturing, intimate other in their lives, but in today's society, try to make a friendship a priority, when work demands run round the clock and time is scheduled down to the love making, or fucking, if both involved indulge more their fantasies then each other.

Happiness is relative that is for sure. Bliss isn't, we know when we are immersed in it and usually it has something to do with feeling connected, with feeling seen for who we really are, with being intimate and alive with an open heart.

The pursuit of happiness may be overrated as regards the striving for success and acquiring of acquisitions while states of bliss, such as in watching the sun rise and set, the shadows fall and take their places, the birds come and go, and the dogs cock their heads while they look up expectantly, these kinds of pleasures may be way underrated.

Impromptu Acquisition

I left home looking to replace my rain barrel and came home with a monstrous leather chair:
The kind I had been dreaming of, soft, comfortable and not torn. A perfect place to read. (What happened to the times I could read anywhere anytime, including on my way to school, under the covers in secret, in the bathroom in the bath tub, sitting, standing, lying down ... what happened?)

These days the light is not right, the reflections bothersome, my eyes are too tired and my body tosses and turns. If I could I would try reading in a head stand, it can't be worse then what I am doing so far.

But now I got this comfy huge throne in my tiny home. For a moment I feared I might not get it through the door, but with a little help we did it, and ever since I am rearranging my whole home to make things fit. There are always more then one way to do one thing, just as there are many roads that lead to Rom and certainly many rivers that find the ocean. Never mind that I liked it that one way, it's good to be flexible, it's good to invite change and sometimes it is excellent to buy on impulse.

New chair

new bike

new camera

I better get my butt moving,
then get stuck in comfort zone.

25 Years

Today, 25 years ago we arrived in Santa Fe,
in a red beat up Toyota pick up truck, down to a few bucks.
we would spend the night aside on the road, not far from this site.

The magic of Santa Fe had lured us, little did we know,
we thought we were close to Mexico,
but soon enough snow surprised us then, as it still does now.
First snow sprinkled Mount Baldy today
and offered foreboding of what is yet to come.
Who knew that a frosty season might last 8 months out of 1 year?

Brown, thick, round walls of dirt and straw against blue, sunny skies seemed like a perfect antidote for way too much time spent in New York. Soon we were settled along a charming narrow dirt road, in someone's library turned to guesthouse for welcome additional income, as most working Santa Feans had then, and certainly need to use ingenuity now, to make ends meet.

Roosters would wake us before dawn. He found work that very first day in construction. I stayed home alone. I had not yet learned how to drive, had overstayed my visa, - and was at a loss. Still reeling from life's harsh lessons and yes, losses of love, money and things, but most importantly loss of naiveté and a simpleton's trust.

Every new beginning is a bit like a new birth. I do not do well with birth. I prolong, resist, hesitate, and moan and groan. No, I say, I am not ready! My mom was 2 weeks overdue with me and still I did not make it easy on her. Neither did they make it easy on me with their forceps.

25 years ago, bewildered, at a loss, resistant, I wondered; who am I now?

Today, more then 30 years ago, I arrived in New York after midnight and after all buses suspended service until morning. Not one to spend when not necessary, I settled in to a seat in one of the waiting areas to snooze until service would resume. And so began my US adventure,
when I yet had no inkling of ever becoming a US citizen and never even had heard of what must be considered my home town now, Santa Fe, the City Dipherent.

Gilbert Roybal, another victim of homicide

Another homicide only 1 week later, my heart feels bruised, which is nothing compared to no longer having a beating heart, or one on life support to be donated to someone in need! My condolences to the family of Gilbert Roybal, 44, owner of the Ancient Spirit hair and nail salon, located in downtown Santa Fe, off West San Francisco, in the same courtyard as the Sakura Japanese Restaurant.

To all accounts this was a good man, with no enemies who could pride himself in our Governor having frequented his business. The news says after work, still during Fiesta weekend, he stopped by the Eldorado Hotel to enjoy some Salsa music and somehow got involved in an argument. I sure hope it is not a gender related hate crime, as this is the first question that comes to mind to many when hearing of a hair dresser in trouble.

Hate seems though in the ether. Again the news discussion boards were filled with hateful commentaries. Many are ready to blame the illegals, the day workers, the transients for crimes committed in their community. Others want to throw out the baby with the bathwater and stop Fiesta festivities cold, keep them strictly to religious ceremonies. Always there are those to blame the politicians and police for not doing their job. One or two bemoan the lack of a death penalty when needed! It seems that anonymous comments illicit a flow of unmitigated hatred.

We are all for free speech, but with freedom comes responsibility! I do imagine if the boards were no longer anonymous the posts would become more temperate. Meanwhile a good man has been on life support only to harvest his organs, our community experienced another loss, this time of a treasured member and the question remains what are we not doing that we could to make Santa Fe safer? I wish I knew the answer.

You may want to check out my post on Chris Rose and the crime that happened only 1 week prior. http://uomis.blogspot.com/2009/09/chris-rose.html

maybe to be continued ...

Fall, not from grace, but new bike!

It happened, one of my worst fears, I fell off my bike yesterday!

Only one week earlier I had succumbed to a good deal and got myself a new and different bike - on sale. It is hard to resist a good deal and even harder when my purchase benefits charity. For every bike sold in the US, one goes to an African health care worker! The Kona Africa bike www.konabiketown.com/ was conceived to support the distribution of health care in Africa. Isn't it a great idea! This bike it is perfect for me:

I love the look of the composite, to me elegant, frame, not a glossy, but dull, solid black. Finally a step through frame that does not require of me to be an athlete in swinging my one leg back over a huge milk crate or over the darn bar, - while holding my two pups on lead. The bike has one gear only, just fine for riding downtown, on flat terrain, going on errands and exercising my pups. The foldable crate up front is cute and to me very practical. It holds all the necessities for outings: Camera, phone, and for the pups, poop bags, treats and water. The brakes require some getting adjusting to. The one brake handle on the bar adjusts the back peddling system and not used properly can easily spill disaster, as happened with me. The Kona bike comes with a lock of the back wheel which has limited use here in the Southwest where bikes get stolen, even with parking meters they had been attached to! The seat is wide and comfortable enough and ah, sitting upright is such a relief, such a long missed pleasure, it's got to be worth the expense. I have been wanting to ride upright for decades and it seemed impossible in the US to find this kind of bike, similar to what I have known and loved in Amsterdam.

I have been riding bikes since I was 10 years old and got one for Christmas. I remember my mom, afterwards, expressed her worries about my discovering their surprise gift and spoiling the fun. The only fall off a bike before yesterday was when I followed my mom through a busy intersection in Zurich and anxious I got my tire stuck in a track. Thankfully nothing broke ,not then when I was maybe 12 years old and not yesterday. No, I don't wear a helmet for bike riding, it spoils the fun for me. I did wear a helmet eventually riding my scooter though as even I recognized the irresponsibility and foolishness in not doing so. Helmets do look ridiculous on most anybody and most certainly on me.
My mountain bike has been good for me. I bought it 15 years ago by default, as no upright bikes then were available from our local dealers. The pretty color lettering had much to do with my choice. It is a solid bike, with gears that make it reasonably easy to go uphill. It has served me well. I hope I can keep it as there is bliss in having the right tool for the right occasion.

to be continued, maybe ...

Chris Rose, Victim of Homicide

I love the expressions on their faces. The image was captured, in July 09 by Susan, a tourist, an artist, a vibrant and an empathic woman. I had watched  this photographer in tears, focused on blind Bonnie Hearn on stage, no longer able to perform with her husband. As her heart was touched, so was mine, we talked, we became friends and she mailed me these images, my favorite among her many wonderful photos. (Susan graciously gave me permission to share these images with the public.)

Sunday morning September 6th, Christopher Rose was found lying face down along the Santa Fe River at the DeVargas Park, a victim of a violent, crime.

It is disconcerting that he may have been there for a while, somewhat hidden in the brush, along a route I take all the time, so I may have passed him unknowingly. This is also the place from where I watched him steal a few roses from the Santuario de Guadalupe in bright day light only about 6 weeks ago. I chastised him for it. I figured someone ought to speak out and tell him what is not right. Defensively he mumbled that the flowers were his, and he was Christ, and he needed them to sweet talk the ladies in to dancing! I did not respond too kindly. It was obvious that he was excited and in a hurry to get to the plaza where the music and dancing was happening in full force. I had seen him there before and here Susan captured him with his grin that clearly shows his pleasure. It reminds me how music and dance can bring out the best in us  and bring us together and almost bridge gaps of social rank, age, and at least for  moments unite the fringe elements of society with the establishment.

Christopher Rose, 45, victim of a premeditated murder, stabbed to death, had arrived in Santa Fe only about 4 months prior and was considered homeless even though he had family members in town, and is remembered by at least someone as a dear and kind uncle.

"George R. wrote: I knew Chris as a friendly guy who never harmed anyone, always had a smile, who sometimes went a little overboard in his remarks to people. He was boisterous, but mostly in a fun way. He carried a guitar and was always ready to belt out a tune whether he could play it or not. He knew more pop songs than I have forgotten.
Vaya con Dios, Chris"

Sara commented in the New Mexican: "He was a sweet man. He came to Santa Fe for rehab and it didn't work. Rest his soul."

August 2. I was hanging out with my buddy at the fountain on Water Street involved in intense listening to his concerns about work. Chris came stumbling along, almost falling over my pups who, uncharacteristically, barked at him. In no time some tough looking and acting biker duds took offense to Chris and it looked threatening enough for me to insist to call the cops. As usual by the time of their arrival the tension had dispersed and the guys had moved on, no harm done.

Afterwards one young street kid came up to us and apologized for Chris, saying something like that he did not know how to hold his liquor. We got in to an exchange of alcoholism, family problems, willpower and seeking help with AA. On our leave my buddy expressed surprise that Chris had not been harmed yet by anybody, as he seemed to manage to offend others rather easily. This was said only a bit over 1 month prior to Chris' demise!

My heart goes out to all those that suffer violence, addiction and mental illness. As a community we have a responsibility to provide adequate care to the fringe elements of our society. Some readers of the news jumped to premature conclusions, condemning the police, condemning the day workers that hang out in the area where Chris' body was found, condemning the illegals and the transients and the local and the national figures in politics. I sure wish we were less quick to condemn and more readily available to empathize and to seek working solutions for ongoing problems, that are not just local, but world wide. This homicide was Santa Fe's fourth for 2009.