Friday, December 19, 2014

It's Time To Get Up In the Morning - by Patty Mooney

"Let's hear those feet hit the deck!" my dad's voice would sail upstairs into the room I shared with my sister, Jeanne. I would hear a brief shuffle of bedclothes in the next room, where my two brother slept. Then silence.

"Well, if Joe and Tom aren't getting up yet," I reasoned to myself, "I'm certainly not going to wake up either." And I'd roll deeper into the blankets. So far, Jeanne had not stirred at all. But actually, I was the only one who had to rise at 6 AM for my high-school classes which began at 7.

It was freezing cold out of bed during those Michigan winter months. The thought of hiking a mile through the heavy, packed snow came as an additional sleep inducer. Sometimes I would be aware of a padded silence surrounding the entire house and I would instinctively know that the snow had again fallen during the night as I slept. The eery brightness of the room so early in the morning would confirm this dreaded thought.

The snow was beautiful to gaze at, out the window, but it was no fun to crunch through huge mounds of it, inch by inch, to school. I often wondered if snow shoes - the kind shaped like tennis rackets that appeared to keep a person suspended above the brutal confection of ice - would help in my predicament.

My mind wandered from pillow to snow, creating a reverie which became a dream: I slip out of bed, dress as speedily as possibly in the ice tongs of the morning, wash my face, comb my hair, shuffle down the stairs and murmur hello to my dad who is sitting at the kitchen table having Shredded Wheat with canned peaches, and a cup of coffee, black. He is reading the Detroit Free Press. The section he peruses depends on what time I come downstairs. Usually I arrive during "Sports."

I decide what to have for breakfast, Cheerios or Wheaties. I gulp down a bowlful of my choice slathered in milk and sugar, and finish in two swallows a tall glass of Minute-Maid orange juice. Then, once I've slipped a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into a brown paper bag along with an apple or an orange, I am ready to advance into the morning.

Layered beneath a heavy woolen coat, an oversize woolen sweater, an angora sweater, a flannel blouse, two pairs of jeans, three pairs of knee-highs, a pair of penny loafers, a pair of rubber boots, a knit cap and a muffler, I make for the front door after waving goodbye to my dad.

Now I'm out in it. Winds are hurled at me from off the mountains of glittering snow. The silence nearly crushes me. I feel heavy and lethargic, and I'm thinking of options to my life. Quit school? In the Ninth Grade? I creep towards the monotone orange brick institution sprawled in the new snowfall. At all entrances, the freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors mill into the building, churning the snow into a river of muddy water and carrying it into the classrooms.

I hear the shriek of a school alarm. It is my father's two-fingered whistle, followed by, "I don't hear any water running up there," followed by his weightily timed, advancing steps.

I never knew what would happen by the time Dad reached me and I happened to be dozing. By that point, my feet never wanted anything more than to hit the deck and get some water splashed into my face.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Whose Lens? - A Poem by Patty Mooney

Whose lens
captured the cheese
cake pose of my mother
before she mothered six
before she met her husband-to-be
on Grande Ballroom balcony
before she walked off
that frothy Bermuda beach
before she stood up, climbed down
the pumice throne
like the hoary head
of a dragon
which lifts her above
roiling sea and quickening sand?
She is alone in the shot,
her smile, breeze-lifted hair
black two-piece,
pale Slavik skin
exposed to the sun
of the day.
Who knew
how her dreams
would develop?

(RIP Magi, 1921 - 2013)

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Amazing World of "Body Worlds" - Photos and Story by Patty Mooney

"Plastination unveils the beauty beneath the skin, frozen in time between death and decay." - Gunther von Hagens

One of the most fascinating exhibits you may ever see in your life is Body Worlds, because frankly, what could be more fascinating than the world of the human being?

This show was featured at the San Diego Natural History Museum a few years ago, and entering the exhibition was like stepping onto the planet of the plastinates.

I have always been fascinated by the mummies of Egypt and of South America, and by the rituals that various cultures have devised to honor their dead. Plastination, invented by Dr.Gunther von Hagens, M.D. of Heidelberg, Germany, in 1977, is "a process that is part of a centuries-long tradition of preserving and dissecting anatomical specimens." Dr. von Hagens wished to preserve bodies for medical studies, as well as to educate the public on medical issues.

We saw lungs on display; a coal-colored pair that had belonged to a smoker, and a pair the color of chalk that belonged to a non-smoker. We saw a healthy knee versus one that had been decimated by arthritis. And we saw people posed as they had been in life: a yoga woman, a gymnast, a soccer player.

It must be pointed out that Body Worlds is the original exhibition of plastinates featuring the bodies of humans who had gladly donated them (or the bodies of their diseased progeny) for plastination, as opposed to copycat exhibitions which display the bodies of Chinese homeless or prisoners. Dr. von Hagens has been unfairly accused of using illicitly-obtained bodies but this could not be further from the truth. Do your homework, people. If it is not a "Body Worlds Exhibit" then do not pay your money to be ripped off by fakes.

Without going into exactly what the plastination process entails, the Cliff Notes version is this: It's a "Polymer impregnation of perishable, biological specimens," which includes animals and humans. It's a plastic makeover of a flesh-and-blood body.

We are now able to see all aspects of the human body as never before revealed to us. We can learn so much about "our bodies, our selves," in a rich, colorful way. Religious philosopher Teilhard de Chardin once said: “We are not humans on this earth seeking to have spiritual experiences; we are spirits having a human experience." I recommend that anyone who can, embrace this opportunity to explore the mysteries of human anatomy.

There were several families present, many of them wheeling baby carriages, or with children checking out the various displays. People pored over each plastinate in a respectful way, speaking to each other in hushed tones. I think that they could sense that when they walked out of the exhibit, they would feel more alive than ever before.

To learn more about Body Worlds, go to the Body Worlds website.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing all our friends, family and acquaintances a Happy Holiday season. This is a great time to remember to be thankful for all the good things in our lives. This is one of the most amazing and challenging times in all of history to be alive. As Jerry Springer says, "Take care of yourselves and each other."

Friday, November 21, 2014

Gabriel of Tikal - A Poem by Patty Mooney

Gabriel thrived in the humid Guatemalan cenote.
His suitcase skin blended with fallen Ceiba leaves.
His ecstatic eyes floated like beads on tepid water.
He cruised from end to end, hungry for meat.
The Mayans considered him a god and fed him

chickens, turkeys, coatamundis, and once a sleepy fisherman
surrendered a foot. But the day the toothy god snapped up
a child the croc's status was revoked, his head paraded high
on a stick for days and then fashioned into a ceremonial mask.

The godless reptile was once more revered,
imbued now with the ghost of the child.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Night With Robin Williams, "The Hairy Comedian" - Photo and Story by Patty Mooney

Robin Williams at RIMAC Auditorium, UCSD

My husband and I saw Robin Williams about 30 years ago and at that time we laughed our butts off. Robin was so fast! You could just see the wheels in his head spinning at 150 rpm. Fast! We happened to have a couple of backstage passes which a friend had given me, so we got to meet him in person. It was just after his Mork and Mindy days, and his career was rocketing skyward. One very distinctive characteristic about him which I noticed was how HAIRY he was. Black hair, everywhere, even on his hands. Underneath his clothing he was sporting a gorilla suit!

I went to see him a few years ago with a girlfriend who had one extra ticket, so it was a girls' night out. We weren't in the "nose bleed" section, exactly, but Suzi was sorry she had not brought her binoculars. Good thing they had the two big projection screens so that we could fully enjoy Robin from our vantage point.

He was just as funny as ever, and still very fast. He jumped from topic to topic, from sex to drugs to politics, and then he would mix the three like a helium cocktail. There were a couple of women sitting nearby who were in stitches pretty much the whole time (an hour and a half) and they had infectious laughs. The three of us chortled like a pack of hyenas!

Robin totally delivered. After his stand-up, the audience rose to their feet and bestowed him with a standing ovation. His last series of jokes had me in tears. Imagine Christopher Walken as a porn star: I..... am IN you.... now.

Oh my! Thank you, (and RIP) Robin Williams, you hairy beast, you.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Dave "The Water Man" Ross, the Ghandi of the Ghetto - by Patty Mooney

Several months ago, my friend, David "The Water Man" Ross was stabbed again by a homeless person while giving out water to the homeless. (He was first stabbed several years ago.) He is a man I admire greatly, doing important work downtown with those who have less than nothing. He's fine; his arm is all bandaged and healing, but I worry about him, as many of the homeless who haunt our streets really need to be medically and/or psychologically treated, and are a danger to themselves and others.

I wanted to post an award-winning video we produced about a day in the life of San Diego homeless, featuring The Water Man, along with Rachel Jensen, Director of the Girls Think Tank. It's called "Small Acts of Kindness." And following that is a story I found online about Dave.  


By Fernando Romero, August 30, 2008

DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO – They call him the Water Man. And with good reason. David Ross spends most of his day distributing free bottles of water among the homeless. Ross, who frequently addresses the San Diego City Council on behalf of the down-and-out, says the homeless people he sees every day suffer from physical problems and are malnourished. “So giving them water is essential, or else they would die.”
“I know there aren't many people out there who care, but people should know that water is not a privilege,” Ross said. “We all have a right to water. So why aren't we providing water fountains for them?”

Those who know him say Ross has earned the trust of those he's trying to help.

“He's got their confidence. He gives them lots of personal empathy. He gives them more than water – he gives them a human connection, respect, and what humans need the most, love,” said San Diego pastor Gerry Limpic. “He's reaching people I can't reach.”

Read the rest of this touching story at the San Diego Union Tribune site