Thursday, December 31, 2020

We Made It!

Dear ones, I send this out to you with the hope that you are well and taking good care of yourself. So many have endured such pain this year that our collective weeping would surely shake the planet.

I've lost three loved ones this year; none of them to the virus but shocking and sad nevertheless. Not since the 1980s when AIDS was at its height, have I had this shell-shocked feeling of watching life after life pass away. That gut grinding feeling that the world is surely coming to an end.

I know others who have lost loved ones this year as well, and I see the pain in their eyes, peering out above their masks. If ever there was a time we needed to hold one another, this is it. But we can't. That natural instinct for me to reach out and hug has had to be squelched. It's been hard. I've learned to cross my arms and grab my shoulders and give myself that much needed hug. It actually works! Try it!

I read Anne Lammot for non-sugary uplift and hope. I watch endless nature and science shows and of course pure escapist action and thriller movies.

I am grateful for my family, oh so much. My 3 year old grand daughter painted a small tree ornament (a reindeer) for me this Christmas, and I will treasure it always. I dream of showing it to her when she is 2o and will probably have forgotten all about it.

I am also grateful for my friends, with whom I see on Zoom and FaceTime. Never before have I appreciated this technology so much. Even my 88 year old dad has mastered the Zoom, so the whole family can get together with him and our 85 year old mom who are locked down in a small apartment in a retirement community.

I love that I've met a new friend in my neighborhood whom I like very much and the feeling is mutual. She's a newbie to Colorado also and when the pandemic is over we want to do road trips and camping. In the meantime, we manage some small walks (masked and distanced of course) and catch-up sessions on the front porch when it isn't too cold. She feels like an old buddy -- the best kind.

Oh. I do not forget my warm, funny, and easy-going chihuahua, Luz. Luz and I are together and spend our days and nights close. She enjoys riding in the car, which gets me out even when i don't feel like it. At night, she pushes her 5 pound body against my stomach, thigh, or bottom for maximum warmth. This would have been a much lonier year without her companionship.

No doubt you have been overwhelmed with the chatter of news programs, both on the radio and the television. Can we undo this 24 hour news cycle we've dug ourselves into? Only by selectively tuning in, and conversely, tuning out. I've done a lot of tuning out these days.

For those still able to work outside the home (and even from inside), I envy that they have something to do. At the same time, I know I don't have the energy or the will. My critical inner voice tells me I've been slothful for nine months, and attempts to shame me. My loving inner voice tells me I'm doing the best I can to keep it all together during a pandemic. I'll need to rebuild my physical strength when the world returns to normal. Join a gym again, that sort of thing. My daughter is excited that some day, again, I'll be able to hang out with her children so she can get a break, or maybe have a date night with her husband. It's a win-win situation.

As we end this year of horrors, President-Elect Bidens reminds us that the months are probably more horrible than the past year. While the vaccines are (slowly) being distributed, it's not fast enough, and the new administration will have its hands full correcting the errors and getting the vaccine program ramped up. And still, we will need to mask up and take precautions for the next year. It will be slow going, but it is our only way through this.

I hope you are up for the challenge, my friend. I hope you are finding ways to lift you up during these endless days and nights of dread. There are lights in the darkness and we have one another to lean on, grieve with, and celebrate the things that are still possible.

On this last day of 2020, I wish you love, and peace, and strength. Continue to be the good person that you are. No one, and no thing can take that away from you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

I'd like to be, Under the Sea

G'day to all. As you can see, I've been taking a break from the blog. I wish I could slumber until this whole bloody mess is over and done with. I'm longing for simpler days, like when I was 17 and 18 playing my guitar with friends. These days, however, the input of information is overwhelming. I don't know if my stroke altered my brain in this way, but I've noticed that since I had it at the end of June, I just can't take in very much information at all. It literally hurts my head.

This has been a gut punch of a year for me in so many ways. I need a break and so I'm taking one. I'll look for you all when I come back to center. Take care. Stay strong.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Plenty of Insanity to Go Around

Last week my ex-husband died after a long disease. He was the father of my one and only child. She was an absolute champ throughout his illness, taking him to all appointments and researching all possible cures. He was going to tough it out alone because he didn't want to worry her, but she put her foot down, and he was glad she did. When he was in the ICU for many days before he went home to die, she sat by his beside and took such good care of him. And when I had my stroke, I was in the same hospital. I can't imagine her terror. I may have gone stark raving mad given similar circumstances. All this with a pandemic going on, and yes, there was a patient with COVID in the ICU while he was there.

The day after he died the family got together at my daughter's house to cook up one of his favorite meals: pork roll and tomato sandwiches and corn on the cob. Two family members flew in, two drove from California. I had not intended to go inside, but socialize and eat outside. No one followed my desire to do this, and one person kept putting her face five inches from mine even though I explained I was high risk and didn't want to get too close to anyone. She did it repeatedly and I didn't want to make a scene, so I would turn my head, or tilt my head away. Then I was invited inside to eat, where I sat shoulder to shoulder with this person. I did not advocate for myself. I'm still mad at myself for that. I ate, talked, and then hit the road. I had a terrible dream that night that I had caught the virus. In the dream I woke up with a throat on fire and a raging headache. When I did wake in the morning, I wondered if the sore throat had been real. Talk about messing with my mind!

Have I ever told you how much I now hate the 4th of July? For many years I have: the noisy fireworks that scare animals and people with PTSD, and the sheer hypocrisy of it all. Land of the free, my arse. "We" rid ourselves of our oppressors while simultaneously oppressing people we enslaved. Anyway, back to the wacko celebrations: seems like this year everyone was going nuts with their own personal fireworks. Most public venues canceled it weeks ago. So crazy and pent up people let it rip this year. I was on Facebook with friends across the country and it seemed to be the same insane situation everywhere. The great writer, journalist and intellectual Frederick Douglass gave one of his most famous speeches on July 5, 1852. ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY EIGHT YEARS AGO. Youtube has a stirring video of his g-g-g-g grandchildren reading excerpts of this speech. You can watch it here.

Meanwhile, back at the family gathering, the same person who was drinking too much, talking too loud, and getting much too close, began the favorite argument of uninformed white people by saying she was sick of all the protesting and didn't we know that, yes, ALL LIVES MATTER. She got plenty of gentle push back from others at the table. People were civil, but questioning her words. One way she seemed to come around was when I talked about women's oppression and how much marching and shouting had to be done to make any gains at all. She kind of backed down, saying, "I guess you have to walk in somebody's shoes to know what they are going through." Yes, dear, it's called empathy. I'm thinking of posting this video on FB for her. Kinda says it all. So many white Americans would just like the problem to go away, not understanding that it won't go away until we stop making it a problem. It's always been us, white top dogs, who've kept this ugly system going, after all.

Hoping for a more upbeat post next time around. Bear with me. I'm still recovering! Be safe. Wear your mask. And don't roll over like I did.

Friday, June 26, 2020

I Nominate 2020 as Shittiest Year Ever

Well, for me at least, and for many many others.

On Wednesday this week I got out of bed and couldn't figure out why I couldn't walk straight -- why was I hurling myself into walls and doors?  Why was I having severe double vision, as if I was stone cold drunk?  I stumbled around this way for a few minutes before I realized something was really wrong.  And yet, I still went next door to feed my neighbor's cats because she is off on a camping trip.  It was a surreal trip to make, but cats must be attended to!

I came back home and called my daughter.  You can guess what she said. "Call 911 MOM."  And so I did.  But after I did, I called another neighbor and told her not to be alarmed but there was soon to be sirens and a mob scene of emergency vehicles on our tiny street.  I'm so considerate.

After all is said and done, turns out I had an Ischemic stroke, verified by an MRI. I was admitted and administered drugs to help with blood flow.  Scary, and yet I had the ability to speak, I had no loss of function and my cognitive function was only mildly impared.  I spent the night and was released the afternoon on Thursday.  On the way out of the hospital I stopped into the ICU, where my first husband (father of my daughter) has been.  He is very ill and he looked it.  We have been friends again for the last 10 years, after 20 years of acrimony following our divorce.

Cape Cod with my husband's family, 1979    

My daughter has been so very happy to have both her parents living in the same town that her family lives in.  We've had some wonderful holidays together in her home.  He's been a fun and connected grandfather (Pop).

And soon, he will be going home to die, supported by hospice and good medications.  While I am heartbroken, I'm more concerned for my daughter.  I haven't lost a parent, but I know it hurts like hell.  We're all in for a hellava week.

And I'm aware that my energy right now is at its lowest ebb.  Docs say I'll probably feel extra tired for a week or two.  But hell, I'm alive

We just never know what the future will bring, do we?  Life changes on a dime. 

These are crazy times, compounded by personal grief.  Doing what I can to keep my spiritual and physical equilibrium.  And here to support my daughter. 

Here's what I've been listening to today to lift my spirits:

Monday, June 22, 2020

Father's Day

Yesterday I read a lot of tributes to fathers on Father's Day.  People on FB also shared old family photos of their dad.  So many have lost their fathers, and often times their mothers as well.  I am a rarity at my age (63) in that both my parents are alive.  They married young - and had three children by the time mom was 25.  Imagine!

This guy in the photo with Dad is his oldest friend on earth.  They've known each other since they were four years old.  They had many adventures during their summers in high school, hitch hiking up and down the state of California doing odd jobs.  Sometimes they got home by the skin of their teeth.  It may surprise you to know they are polar opposites when it comes to politics.  They don't often talk about it, but in private Max will tell me that one day we shall convert my father (wink).  Max, like many of my dad's best friends, is a musician and artist, as was his father.  My last night in North Carolina almost a decade ago, Max and his wife drove me to a friends house deep into the woods, for a jam with all the regulars.  Banjos, guitars, fiddles and an upright bass -- these people drank and played old-timey music into the wee hours.  A memorable evening.  I was a hung over, bleary eyed passenger on the airplane the next day.

It's always been a wonder to me how my dad can be so conservative and rigid in behavior and appearance and have so many bohemian friends.  He always has.  It might stem from his Great Aunt, who was an out-loud bohemian and artist herself. He used to rock the chemical trays in her dark room on Orange Avenue in Coronado, California.  She photographed celebrities who came to play on the beach and lounge by the pool at the historic Hotel Del Coronado back in the 1930s and 40s. 

He took on a lot at a very young age -- marriage and children by the time he was 28.  After a lifetime of living with a couple of step-fathers or his grandparents, he longed for stability.  I don't remember him as a fun dad, he was a disciplinarian and mostly we children walked on eggshells around him.  He regrets that now, and wishes he could have had a more relaxed relationship with us.  He still has an extremely controlling nature, and things must go his way or things get very uncomfortable. 

Until I moved to Colorado last year, I had spent the previous nine years living close to my parents (sometimes with them).  It was difficult for me, I felt duty bound but also newly constricted after a lifetime of living on my own and not under his influence.  It was out of economic necessity that I lived with them for two and a half years.  We had many blowout arguments, which distressed my mother greatly.  I went out for walks -- frequently.  Only way to blow off steam.  When I moved into my own place, we joked with each other that no one had died.

I'm sure that I, like so many adult children, have a very mixed view of my life with Dad.  I love him dearly and sometimes I also hate his guts.  He has been terribly hateful at times, and then he does something wonderfully loving.  My husband also had a difficult relationship with his children, and they kept their distance as adults.  It took me a couple of years after we married for me to fully understand how damaged those relationships were.  This was their first Father's Day without their Pop.  Just like my dad, Steve could be a lively and interesting friend, but he was very chilly when it came to his children.  It's sad.  His kids are great and his missed out on so much.

And this is how it is between fathers and their children. 

Friday, June 12, 2020

Can't Turn Me Around

Another Friday in my small little life in the time of covid-19.  There is so much happening in the world outside that I would love to be participating in.   I'd like to join people in my town as they gather in front of City Hall standing up for justice and racial equality.  I'd like to be in the streets marching with Black Lives Matter.

Except for the virus.

I am, after all, a 63 year old (just this week) with Type 1 diabetes and a host of other things that make me high risk.  So I watch movies recommended to better understand the black experience in the U.S.A.  Many of them I have seen before but there are new ones (for me).  I had a birthday fundraiser that exceeded my goal (thanks, friends) to raise $200 for the Equal Justice Initiative.  Turns out, this wasn't the first year I raised money for them.  I have also been a contributor to the Southern Poverty Law Center since the early 1980s and the ACLU.

One of the most moving experiences I've had was a visit to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, NC.  I was visiting friends in Chapel Hill, Mount Airy and Asheville.  I don't remember how I found out about the center, but the fact that it was in the building where the Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins started, well, that was it for me!  The original lunch counter is still there on the ground floor, with the museum and center above.  Staffed mostly by young docents from the local colleges, it is an immersive experience.  My friend and I were the only white people there and we had some heartfelt conversations with the other visitors.

I believe change is going to come.  There is more momentum this time around.  NASCAR has banned the use of the Confederate flag, Confederate statutes are being pulled down by the people (not waiting for governments to take them down) and the military is hopefully changing the names of the numerous military basis that are named after Confederate generals.  I'm not naive enough to believe change will be all encompassing and come quickly, but I do feel a difference these days.  Of course it's up to us white people to change our behavior, which is after all, the problem.

I'm glad to see the many resources out there for white people to learn about the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, the Tulsa rioting of white people killing black people (including dropping bombs on the town from private airplanes).  It's a long a terrible history, and it is our duty as citizens to know it.  We've turned away from it much too long.  Our schools need to devote more than one month a year to study our nation's sin and shame.

Keep the faith, friends. Have a good weekend.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Little Joys

I took a walk the other day with my daughter. It was dreadfully hot but I wasn't going to let that deter me from some outdoor time with the lovely Laurel.  We rested on a bench in the shade when the sun got to be too much for me.  When the clouds blew in the temperature dropped and we left the bench to head home.  We have very changeable weather here in Colorado.

On our way back we found several little displays like this one.  Children having fun in the greenspace between houses.  That's been very thoughtfully set up in our town, so there are plenty of hiking a biking spaces among the housing developments.

When I was a child I spent so many hours outside, either playing games or simply lying in a grassy field.  We took expeditions to the creek, our lunches in sacks or tied up in bandanas. We were explorers.  Those activities gave birth to back packing as a teenager.  I was an enthusiastic back packer and spent many happy days with my friends in the Ventana Wilderness and trails in the Sierra.

Leonard and me, Mt. Carmel 1975

When my first husband and I sent out our wedding invitations in 1978, we opted for our cover to be a black and white photo of us sitting at our campfire near Mt. Lassen in California.  I wish I could find it to post here, but I cannot.  He and I continued to back pack until I had our child at age 30.  I think that was the end of back packing, though we still hiked and went camping with her.

I'm delighting in these little joys of remembering.  Life is terribly restricted right now, and there is so much sorrow.  Although I am impressed by the more than 10 days of peaceful but rightfully angry marches, I worry how many well meaning folks are going to get this virus.  And of course I'm angry when the violence breaks out.  Angry, but not surprised.

What happens to a dream deferred?

      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?

      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.

      Or does it explode?

Harlem, by Langston Hughes

Hope you are finding some joy in your life these days.  Be well!

We Made It!

Dear ones, I send this out to you with the hope that you are well and taking good care of yourself. So many have endured such pain this yea...