Saturday, May 30, 2020

My Own Stories Witnessing Racism

Just like the "Me, too" movement stirred up buried memories of my own encounters with predatory men, the death of George Floyd (and so many others) by a white police officer is just another reminder (wake up!) of the brutality black and brown people live with every day.

I'm sure that I've witnessed numerous instances of racism, and listened to countless white people spew racist remarks, but because I wasn't personally in the cross hairs, it didn't resonate with my younger self.

I attended a workshop more than a decade ago on racism and bias, and it really shook me up. I was choking back tears at my own complicity and lack of awareness. I was that fragile white person and I'm sure there were folks in the workshop who thought, "Oh, she only now getting it?" Yes, I am a product of the dominant white culture.

I wanted to share memories that are arising for me at this critical time.

  • Helping my neighbor with her garage sale. Watching cars pull up, take a look, and pull away. This happened often, too often to be a coincidence. A mostly white town of surfers and liberal college students, old family conservatives clashing with a now liberal, left wing City Council. So, yeah, you guessed it, she was black. I finally turned to her and shared my observation and asked her if she thought it was because she was black. "Oh, yes." she answered. My head exploded.
  • Same town, I was selling my electric bike and a friendly guy with his elderly mom drove about 40 miles to pick it up. I told him he'd need to purchase a new battery for it, and I wrote down the name of the shop where I purchased it so he could get the right battery. He asked me to please write a receipt and I did. Awhile later I received a phone call from the POLICE asking me if I had sold my bike or if it was stolen. You guessed it, he was black. I verified I sold it to him. The bike shop owner had called them, his racism in all it's full-blown shame. I was so upset: this was a gentleman and a sweetheart. So was his mother (well, a gentlewoman).
  • Completely different town and region in California: A few years ago we hired a college student to house sit for us while on vacation. A real upstanding young man - serious about his studies, his photography and his faith. We were so lucky to have found him and trusted him to take care of our three dogs and our house. I knew, however, that neighbors would see a black man coming and going from our house while we were gone, and to deal with the matter straight up, I took him around to the neighbors to introduce him as our house sitter. My husband thought this a little over the top, but our sitter appreciated it very much. Would I have done that if our house sitter was white? Nope. I wouldn't have had to.

Those are just a few instances that I can remember off the top of my head. I'm sure there are many more that have faded with time. This is what black and brown people have to deal with all the time. Can you imagine the drag on your psyche to have to be this vigilant every day? Walk a mile in their shoes.

White people must confront their racism. We are the problem. Only we can fix it.

Monday, May 18, 2020


My sweet friend Toni Bernard just sent me the newly published pocket version of her book "How To Be Sick," along with another of her beautiful watercolors.

I think the book is valuable for anyone struggling with any kind of illness or hardship.  This book is specific to illness (usually not diagnosed and/or dismissed by medical professionals) but her book "How to Wake Up" is a guide to living through joy and suffering.  She's been a practicing Buddhist for over 20 years.

I have experienced a number of health challenges in my life, and any one of them could have led me into permanent despair.  Somehow,  I always rise.  Maybe after a long while filled with doubt and self-pity, but I do either recover or learn how to organize my life in order to accommodate my body.

Right now the big challenge is how to adjust to this never ending stay at home situation.  Like you, no doubt, I've experienced every emotion possible.  Some days I just nap and nap and nap.  The waves of dreams wash over me and I give in to them.  Yesterday I emptied the dishwasher and cleaned the very messy kitchen and this was my big victory!

The things that sustain me now are the Colbert Show on CBS - smart, funny, sexy Stephen!  The Sunday Morning show on CBS is one of the very best shows on television, with their mix of news, art, music and interviews with, say, Graham Nash (this weekend) and other notables.  I've also become immersed in The Last Kingdom on Netflix, thanks to this blogger's suggestion.  It's captivated me completely, though it is filled with barbaric gore and epic battle scenes from the ninth century.  It is perfect escapism.

Our area is beginning to loosen restrictions, but I'm waiting to see if the numbers rise again before I abandoned the precautions set up.  I'm comfortable enough at home, though antsy and many times bored.  Oh. So. Bored.  And so very physically tired because I'm too whatever to get much exercise.  Ennui is a good descriptor.

Trying to be gentle with myself. 

How about you?

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

It's May, It's May

May 12 ten years ago I was realizing I couldn't stay with my wife -- the situation was out of control.

May 12 nine years ago I was living in Sacramento with my parents, ironing clothes for mom by the looks of my Facebook page.

May 12 eight years ago I was released from the hospital after a life-threatening event.

May 12 three years ago I was holding my baby grand daughter.

May 12 this year I'm living in Colorado and going to get my snow tires changed out.  I had a lovely mother's day with the family, in their backyard keeping a safe distance.

Thanks to blogging and to Facebook, we can keep track of little anniversaries like this.  Sometimes it's a good thing, other times it's not.

And this May, we'd better not go blissfully astray unless we want to risk dying from this blasted virus.  I trust that sometime, again, we'll be able to fully indulge.

Tra la, it's May, the lusty Month of May
That lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray
Tra la, it's here, that shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear
It's May, It's May, that gorgeous holiday
When every maiden prays that her lad will be a cad
It's mad, it's gay, alive, a lust display
Those dreary vows that everyone takes, everyone breaks
Everyone makes divine mistakes
The Lusty Month of May
Whence this fragrance wafting through the air?
What sweet feelings does it's scent transmute?
Whence this perfume floating everywhere?
Don't you know, it's that dear forbidden fruit
It's May, the lusty month of May
That darling month when everyone throws self-control away
It's time to do a wretched thing or two
And try to make each precious day one you'll always rue
It's May, it's May, the month of "Yes, you may"
The time for every frivolous whim, proper or im-
It's wild, it's gay, depraved in every way
The birds and bees with all of their vast amorous past
Gaze at the human race aghast
The Lusty Month of May
Tra la, it's May, the lusty Month of May
That lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray
Tra la, it's here, that shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear
It's May, it's may, the month of great dismay
when all the world is brimming with fun, wholesome or un-
It's mad, it's gay, alive a lust display
Those dreary vows that everyone takes, everyone breaks
Everyone makes divine mistakes
The Lusty Month of May

Friday, May 8, 2020

Lookin for the Happy

After eight weeks of relative isolation for me, I'm looking for things that make me happy. I'm tired of the bickering on Facebook; exhausted by the horrible news and can't even read past the headlines in the papers. It's all a shit show and I've had enough. So when I saw this video, I said, "yes!" Enjoy. And stay well.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Blue Skies

I woke to a beautiful sunny morning today. Last evening we had such a magnificent thunder storm. I opened the blinds in my bedroom in order to look at the southern sky which was lighting up like the fourth of July. One of the strikes was so close that it rattled all the windows in the house! It was more exciting to watch the night sky than to fall asleep. I think I must have been awake for quite awhile, but I don't keep a clock in my bedroom so I have no idea.

We had a good storm the day before as well, in the mid-afternoon. When it all cleared up I saw this out my window:

I woke up yesterday feeling hopeful and physically well. I had more energy than I've had in weeks. I don't exactly know why, but it really doesn't matter, does it? I took Lucy out to one of our open nature reserves and we had a nice walk. I could tell she was joyous as well, as she scampered and leapt in the tall green grass.

Our stay at home orders have been lifted, but with restrictions. I'm more than fine with not going to shopping malls (yuck) and crowded movie theaters. I am going to continue to stay at home as much as possible, because I think, based on science and history, that we are going to see an up-tick in cases now that people are out and about. What about you? Are you staying home?

Friday, May 1, 2020

Missed Mail and Close Calls

I applied for my Colorado driver's license on February 5, 2020. I have not yet received it so I went on-line to track down its whereabouts. Turns out it was mailed to me February 10, but returned as "un-deliverable." I double checked the address on my temporary card and it is correct. So, I can't get a hold of the DMV because offices are closed until May 18. I then will need an appointment to go into the office to retrieve it. They've got all my contact information, but of course have not contacted me. A bother, but small in comparison to the next bit of news.

Yesterday was my parents' 65th wedding anniversary. I called around lunchtime and got no answer. Odd. But I didn't panic. Maybe they were out walking their hallway at the retirement center.

Then I got the call at 4 pm from my dad: my almost 86 year old mom is in the hospital after having fallen down and hitting her head. Paramedics were needed to get her up, and they took her to the Emergency Room since her hip hurt as well and she's already suffered two broken hips over the last eleven years. Of course Dad can't go into the hospital with her and that is a critical danger for her. She cannot tolerate opioids of any kind, but this is on the medical information sheet the center gave the paramedics as they wheeled her out. She also is cognitively impaired as a result of Parkinson's, and becomes terribly paranoid and panicked in a hospital setting.

My thoughts began to race about all the terrible possibilities that lie ahead. Luckily, and thankfully, dad was able to pick her up at the end of the day and take her home. Whew. We worry about mom; she's very weak from almost thirty years with Parkinson's, and any chest infection would likely kill her. She's also becoming very difficult to move, even for trained caregivers, because she is so stiff and weak of limb. If and when she can no longer be cared for in their apartment she would need to be moved to the skilled nursing unit. In this time of COVID-19, people in that unit cannot receive any visitors. For my mother this would heighten her dementia and cause untold suffering. I was spinning out with worry that she would have to undergo surgery and recover in the SN unit and it would be a nightmare for her.

This is the same unit where my husband died in January this year. They take good care of people there, but it is still something no one would want. There is much sadness, suffering, and death there. Luckily, Steve was there for just over a week. He hated it. It was a blessed relief when he quietly slipped away in the wee hours of the morning.
So now that I've depressed the living shite out of you, how about some soothing music?

Happy May Day! I remember making paper cones of flowers for my mother on May Day when I was in elementary school. Did you do that?

You Can Go Home Again

 I took a vacation in the first week of May.  I went back to my high school and college stomping grounds, still populated by many friends of...