Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The mountain and me

(The view from much farther north of the South Sound)
I think the best thing about working in the South Sound is the day it clears out after an extended rainy or overcast period, is looking out of my window and seeing "the mountain", seemingly floating in the sky about a lower layer of clouds and fog.

I just find it extremely comforting to live in a place where we affectionately refer to one mountain as "the mountain" eclipsing all of the rest. The Puget Sound is ringed by mountains - the Cascades, the Olympics, but only Mt. Rainier can claim the title of "the mountain." It is like Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (to poor Mount Meru's chagrin) or Fiji in Japan. Interestingly enough, those mountains are sleeping volcanoes as well. Perhaps it is their sleeping danger that inspires such respect, as if uttering their name will awaken them in their fury.

The mountain scares and intimidates me but awes me as well. I can't keep my eyes off of it. My window view of it distracts me from my piles of family law pleadings on my desk. I fear that if I take my eyes off of it, that the mountain will somehow change shape, that when my gaze returns it will have disappeared behind another wall of clouds or it will be spouting clouds of steam and ash sealing the doom of Western Washington.

I look at it and remember the words of Isaiah in the Old Testament, "Let us go now up unto the mountain of the Lord..." and remember the sacredness of "the mountain" whatever that mountain may be in various countries around the world. In Tibet, Buddhists and Hindus take sacred pilgrimages to Mount Kailas, in my own faith Brigham Young had a prophetic vision of establishing the church in the mountains of Salt Lake City. What is it inherent in mountains that demand that our vision not only be thrust upward but that in doing so that we must commune with the divine?

I am a girl born at sea level, who fears looking down from lofty peaks, for fear of falling down. I generally find solace and comfort in water, that which is familiar to me, but something about the mountain outside of my window, the same mountain that could threaten my existence at any given moment, allows me to feel less a stranger here. Both the mountain's unpredictabilty and its abiding sacredness makes me feel at home.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Little Miss Anxiety Disorder

I think I have serious anxiety issues. My chest is increasingly tight and my ability to sleep has diminished dramatically in recent weeks. No matter what relative stability my life seems to maintain, I nonethless find unsettling events in every situation around me. I cannot even watch economic reports on the news because I fear that I am one step away from certain homelessness or needing to declare bankruptcy, despite having a stable income at present. Our nation's lack of energy stability has created in me an increased awareness of my own dependence on fossil fuels to provide for my own economic security was well as to allow me to see the people I love. I am constantly fearing at work that I am not billing enough hours and that I need more clients, although I feel incredibly selfish every time I bill any client for work that I do (I clearly was not meant for a firm lifestyle and need to get back into public interest work to cure this billing fatigue and guilt).

I am not sure why I feel like everything in the world around me was specifically calculated to cause me this unrest, and I don't know at what point in time I became this excessive worry-wart. I long to live in the moment and be happy, but I just have no confidence in my present state of affairs.

I hate the necessity of the formal economy. I hate how anxious it makes me; how fearful for my own survival I have become. Am I the only person that just feels a lack of control of my economic circumstances? Why should this affect me so much?

I have now become Herbert Marcuse's One Dimensional (Wo)Man.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Something on which I must rant

So I know that ranting on this subject could potentially render me on some government watch list or subject to the Bush administration's domestic wiretaps, but I have to rant on how much I despise Department of Homeland Security regarding their regulations of refugees. I have been attempting to help a Sudanese refugee (who was badly injured on the job working on an Alaskan fishing ship), apply for Lawful Permanent Resident status. Unforutnately, due to a law (which I can only assume that was passed by the Republicans who control Congress and signed by President Bush) only 10,000 refugees can be granted LPR status yearly. As many as 40,000+ refugees apply for LPR status yearly. This means that my friend Thichiot will be placed on a waiting list that could mean that he doesn't have LPR status granted until at LEAST 2016. How does this represent American values? Here are people who meet the very definition of tired, poor, and weary, because their lives have been uprooted by conflict and war, and here we are as Americans telling them, they have to wait, almost a lifetime, before they can feel the full benefits of our legal system. And truthfully, they don't even feel them as LPR. They really have to wait an additional FIVE years after their LPR status is granted, until they can apply for US citizenship and then they still have to wait again for their applications to be processed. It is disturbing. It is un-American. It makes me ashamed to be an American and tell people who have already suffered so much that because of intense xenophobia in Washington they must continue to wait. This is not protecting American citizens or American values. This is merely showcasing our arrogance and lack of goodwill due to the rest of humanity. It is humiliating, but I have to tell Thichiot that his hopes of becoming a LPR will not be fulfilled anytime soon.

***** A subsequent correction to this post - I was wrong. Thichiot does not have to wait ten years because he is a refugee. Refugees can still be adjusted without the statutory wait. HOWEVER, the limitations in numbers still apply to people who were granted asylum in the US. The difference between a refugee and asylee turns only on one small fact - refugees are granted asylum in the US before they come to the US, while asylees are granted asylum after coming to the US (and then filing for asylum to be granted here as means of giving them a status with immigration). It is still lame. Asylees have to show the same standard to be granted asylum as refugees must show before they come to the country.