Letters

Letters 08-29-2016

Religious Bigotry President Obama has been roundly criticized for his apparent unwillingness to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” His critics seem to suggest that through the mere use of that terminology, the defeat of ISIS would be assured...

TC DDA: Focus On Your Mission What on earth is the Traverse City DDA thinking? Purchasing land around (not within) its TIF boundaries and then offering it at a discount to developers? That is not its mission. Sadly enough, it is already falling down on the job regarding what is its mission. Crosswalks are deteriorating all around downtown, trees aren’t trimmed, sidewalks are uneven. Why can’t the DDA do a better job of maintaining what it already has? And still no public restrooms downtown, despite all the tax dollars captured since 1997. What a joke...

European-Americans Are Boring “20 Fascinating People” in northern Michigan -- and every single one is European-American? Sorry, but this is journalistically incorrect. It’s easy for editors to assign and reporters to write stories about people who are already within their personal and professional networks. It’s harder to dig up stuff about people you don’t know and have never met. Harder is better...

Be Aware Of Lawsuit While most non-Indians were sleep walking, local Odawa leaders filed a lawsuit seeking to potentially have most of Emmet County and part of Charlevoix County declared within their reservation and thus under their jurisdiction. This assertion of jurisdiction is embedded in their recently constructed constitution as documentation of their intent...

More Parking Headaches I have another comment to make about downtown TC parking following Pat Sullivan’s recent article. My hubby and I parked in a handicap spot (with a meter) behind Mackinaw Brew Pub for lunch. The handicap spot happens to be 8-10 spaces away from the payment center. Now isn’t that interesting...

Demand Change At Women’s Resource Center Change is needed for the Women’s Resource Center for the Grand Traverse Area (WRCGT). As Patrick Sullivan pointed out in his article, former employees and supporters don’t like the direction WRCGT has taken. As former employees, we are downright terrified at the direction Juliette Schultz and Ralph Soffredine have led the organization...

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A traveler finds meaning in unexpected places

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli - May 3rd, 2010
A traveler finds meaning in unexpected places: An American Map:
Essays by Anne-Marie Oomen
Wayne State University Press, $18.95
Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
“Why do you think we have so many good writers here in the North?” a doctor recently asked me.
Maybe he didn’t add the ‘good.’ That might be my own addition because that’s how I feel, and that’s what makes me proud of where I live: these good writers who circle us with golden words and take our lives deeper, make them brighter.
“An American Map: Essays by Anne-Marie Oomen,” is a fine book by a northern writer cutting a sometimes microscopic and sometimes a deep and wide swath into our hearts and minds.
Oomen, a writing instructor at Interlochen Arts Academy, uses moments from her life to facet experience, finding small and large truths in unusual places. Moving from Empire, Michigan, across the United States, to Puerto Rico, and back to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Oomen unrolls a different kind of landscape, a deeper travelogue, pulling unexpected meaning from unexpected places.
“Stone Wounds” honors the sacred. In Mount Cardigan, New Hampshire, Oomen is mountain climbing when she comes to rest against a slab of granite running with veins of quartz. “ …long lines crossing and crisscrossing this rock like a child’s script, teasing some words or a story just to the edge of recognition—a mystery, almost a meaning. I hear in the abrupt wind some question I do not understand. Then I remember,” she writes.

WARRIOR STONES
And what she recalls are stones on her father’s farm, and his way of keeping his word to Isaac, an old Indian, who asked him not to till a particular acre of the many he owned. That single acre was sacred to the local Pottawattamie people. That was where their ancestors were buried. Near there, in her college years, Oomen came to interview the old Indian and learned the story of the Warrior Stones, living symbols of warriors who died in battle and became the striated rocks of the Indian burial grounds. “ . . . great dark stones marked by lines of lighter horizontal color, like layers between a cake.”
At first the missionaries honored the Indian belief and invited them to set their rocks in Christian cemeteries, “where the mythic warriors could be honored with the newly dead.” But when the next wave of missionaries came the rocks were forbidden in the cemetery and the Pottawattamie told not to touch their rocks because they were pagan.
This one unforgivable sin of arrogance resonates in Oomen as she recalls her disrespect of that single acre as a child, when she played among the wooden crosses and tore down wooden fences to make guns.
Again, in “The Underpass: Washington, D.C.,” there is so much wrapped and hidden. Oomen is in Washington, D.C., to watch a writing student of hers be honored at the Kennedy Center. Washington is a city she had vowed never to return to, not since being there at a war protest which seemed to sap her zeal for protest. But she is back and can’t help recalling those days on the National Mall and the fact that she had forgotten socks and her feet were numb then. Now she is in high heels, hurrying toward the Kennedy Center but can’t seem to get there on foot. First she is undone by the Vietnam Wall, and the sad fact that she can’t remember the names of two friends who died in that war, and would be listed on the wall. And then, hurrying toward Kennedy Center she and her husband must trespass though what she thinks of as ‘someone’s home.” “It is a rough shelter tucked against the cement pilings because the overpass keeps off the rain, protects from the sun, at least until late in the day.”

A PLACE TO SLEEP
They’ve stumbled into a homeless camp, where two men have made “a place to sleep of a refrigerator box and some tarp, maybe part of a tent.” There is something so much of violation in what she was doing. “I try not to meet their eye, the younger man utters a sound with a question in it, and I glance at him, too used to responding to voice. The other, rail thin, leaning on his elbow in a ragged sleeping bag, shakes his head at our ignorance and stupidity. He smokes a cigarette, and after we have passed, swears.”
In “An Essay of Supposition, Harpswell, Maine,” Oomen brings it all together: the search for self, for meaning, even—in some cases—for absolution, and then loss. After staying often at a cabin in Maine, owned by Betsy, a friend, there is a phone call.
“ . . . it is Betsy, and she tells you the cottage is burning right then (arson, they think) and will burn to the ground, and all that soft light drains out of you, and you stare at the white shells until they seem disembodied, and you can’t talk for long because you know you’ll lose it, and when you hang up, you do. But then you go to the computer and find every poem you ever wrote there and write some more and send them all to her.”

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli’s mystery, DEAD SLEEPING SHAMAN is in bookstores now. She will be celebrating the launch of the new book on May 21, 7 pm, at Brilliant Books in Sutton’s Bay. Everyone is welcomed to come share wine and food and talk.


 
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