Thursday, June 22, 2017

Grenfell Tower/Triangle Shirt Waist

Each time I see a post or news article about the low income apartment tower than became a towering internal, I think of the Triangle Shirt Waist fire.

I imagine every law student still reads the Triangle Shirtwaist case. Two brothers, virulently anti-union, employed mostly teenage girls to sew.  The fire that killed 146 people flared up quickly. The reason so many died was the owners had locked the exit doors from the outside so none of their employees would be able to stop working (or, maybe, use a toilet?).

It was a great tragedy, of course, and instigated a call for safety regulations.

As I watch the insane ManBaby administration and read about the, evidently, also insane British government's neglect that lead to the fire of Grenfell Tower, I keep thinking there will be more such tragedies. Nothing like the needless deaths by neglect of the government regulating that housing tower is going to get the auxterity nuts in power to stop giving things away to the rich.

your life will get better when. . .

Health care in Colombia in 1972: I studied for a year in Bogota, Colombia. The great poverty was shocking for me. One thing that keeps coming to mind, esp when I read that Congress wants to take health care away from 23 million more people (how easily many seem to ignore that tens of millions who don't have health care now . . .). In Colombia, I never saw a wheelchair. Disability access was all but nonexistent but, I assume, middle and upper class disabled had access to what they needed. The poor disabled, such as persons born without legs or paralyzed at birth somehow obtained wooden boards that had four wheels on it, just a couple inches off the ground. And those poor disabled people dragged themselves around on those wheeled boards, dragged themselves to their begging spots. They were usually caked with dirt, wore ragged clothing and appeared to be homeless. Such tragedies are coming our way, it seems.

The above comments were based on my long-ago experience in Colombia, over 40 years ago. Then I googled health care in Colombia, a third world country, and was happy to learn that in 1992 Colombia began to enact changes in its health care system. They have not yet achieved full universal care but the vast majority of Colombians now have health care.

So a third world country can do better than the USA?  This is what we get with the rich in charge, eh? yet our Fuhrer wants only very rich people running things.

Where are the good rich people, the ones who magically take their huge tax cuts and invest in jobs and America's future? Where are the moral rich people who believe that what we do to the least of us we do to all? You know, where are the rich folks who buy into the Christian ethic of caring for others?

It happens all the time in heaven

It happens all the time in heaven,
and one day it will begin to happen on earth again.
That women and men who are married
brothers and sisters, friends and strangers
will remember their birthright: humaneness.

And they will get down on their knees
and while holding each others hand so tenderly
with tears in their eyes and all the forces of their hearts
will speak sincerly, truthful and deeply loving:
"How can I be more loving to you?
How can I support your true beautiful self more?
How can I be more kind?"
And they will share with each other the mystery
how to live as a true human being: to ever love more... 
~inspired by Hafiz

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

parking fines while white

Once, while living in Minneapolis about 20 years ago, I did not pay a parking fine on time. I got a notice in the mail informing me that a bench warrant had been issues and I could be stopped and arrested for not paying the fine. Additionally, the fine went up, way up. My best option was to go down to the courthouse and pay the increased fine. So I did.

I made my way to an underground level of the Hennepin County Government Center to the window where fines, or maybe bench warranted fines, had to be paid. To my surprise, I found a very long line. All the people in that line were youngish black men and me. All the black guys talked about how they, too, had failed to pay a parking fine. Unlike me, they got picked up on their bench warrant.

I learned, listening to all those young men as I waited my turn to pay, that cops in Minneapolis very specifically did license plate checks all the time on cars driven by . . . black males. Those men described the way cop cars would pull up behind them and immediately start running a check. They talked about how much they dreaded getting caught in traffic in front of a cop car because they believed the cops were always looking for reasons to stop them. Expired tabs on the license plates was a good reason but a bench warrant pleased the cops more. That meant the cops got to haul the hapless black driver to jail and subject him to jail processing. For a late parking fine.

I suppose part of the steep spike in the parking fine is not paid on time is to give drivers incentive to pay up on time but it seemed to me unpaid parking tickets and then bench warrants were being used to harass black drivers.

That same year, I had another parking ticket. If I didn't pay a parking ticket on time, I probably didn't have the money, esp. after I had already paid the penalty of paying late once.

One day, when I knew I had not paid a parking ticket but I had not gotten the letter in the mail informing me of a bench warrant, I started out the day looking for cop cars, dreading having them run a check on my license plate.

I had nothing to worry about. I did get stopped, at a railroad crossing for a very long wait for a long freight train, in front of a cop car. For just a moment, I worried that the cops would run a check on me and arrest me. Then I relaxed. I realized those cops would not run a check on me, that they only ran such checks on black drivers. It was a long wait for that train, maybe thirty minutes.

Immediately after I could move, when the train had passed, I changed my plans for the day. I went downtown to pay my ticket.

I must have been pretty broke because I spent the afternoon waiting my turn in a courtroom to get permission to pay the fine in installments.  The judge readily agreed to installments and told me to go to a certain civil servant to work out the details. The judge had explicitly said I could do it in three payments but that motherfucker civil servant insisted I could only make two payments. He smirked, then laughed, and said if I didn't pay the second installment thirty days from that day, he'd make sure I got picked up on a bench warrant.  A white asshole.  I don't like trying to imagine how that petty bureaucrat might have treated a black looking for some help catching up financially.

I'm ready

Today I went to my writers' group but I left after an hour. I just didn't feel like writing. And I didn't want to listen to one of the writers who was there. I've never enjoyed listening to the guy and today I just wasn't able to make myself. So I left early.

Suddenly faced with an unplanned morning but caught away from home, I made the impulsive decision to walk downhill to catch the #79 home so I wouldn't have to walk uphill two blocks to catch the bus that drops me at my corner.

I got on the #12 bus, not sure where it went. I learned it does not go near my home so I got off at a major cross street, thinking I'd take a bus that would take me to my corner. Easy peasy. I had gotten off across from Trader Joe's and, on another impulse, decided to shop.

My fridge is overflowing with food, much I will have to throw out because I wouldn't be able to eat it all. Sometimes that happens. I go to the store for something to do, buy food I do not need.

So, as I mulled the impulse to go to Trader Joe's instead of just waiting for another bus going to my corner, the 51B, btw, I realized I had my Versacart with me and I could get a gas of lemon sparkling water.

So I did.

Paid for the water and then remembered how hard it is to get my cart with a case of water onto, then off, a bus.

So, another impulse. I would walk home.  I haven't been doing much walking lately, not since I got my motorized scooter. I can't haul home cases of water on the scooter and bringing water home a few quarts at a time has frustrated me.

So I walked home, which is .06 miles.

The walk reminded me why I needed the scooter. After walking a block or so, I could barely move along. I had immediately begun calculating my route home, thinking of where I could stop and sit to rest. I know every place to sit and rest between Trader Joe's and my building but I haven't had to use them since I got the scooter. I have not had the scooter all that long but it has greatly uplifted my spirits to be able to go about the world without experiencing a lot of pain, heart palpitations, deep fatigue and a struggle to breath.

The .06 miles home from TJ's would be tough for me under any circumstances but esp when I am hauling twelve quarts of water. The weight matters. Pushing that water taxes me more than merely limping along with a cane.

Which, again, is why I bought the scooter.

I have been feeling happier, lighter in recent days.

Today's outing purged that lightness away.  I see, now, that I never truly believed walking was getting beyond me. And the scooter has its own limitations.

Do I dare to take it on BART to the city so I can do what in the city?

Do I dare to eat a peach?

I am ashamed of my longings, lifelong longings that have never been met. I haven't even been able to get my fantasy of someone bringing me a cup of nice tea when I am a little sick. Such a small thing to want.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

taking a page from my daughter of long ago

Katie Kreifels, my adult daughter who has shunned me for almost seventeen years, was anorexic when I knew her. She once told me she did not blame me for her anorexic and I let her tell me that without responding. I believe she is anorexic, at least in part, because she was appalled by me being fat.

I used to be hella fatter than I am now. I am almost 100 pounds below my all time high, below the weight when she was in the first grade and told me she didn't want me to be a chaperon on the school field trip to the arboretum because I was fat. We had a fat friend, for Joni was friend to both of us, who weighed almost 500 pounds -- and she was kinda short.  Katie was mortified when Joni wanted to come to our school's holiday craft fair, to spend money to support her school. I told her I was not going to ban Joni from that holiday fair and if she really wanted to ban Joni, she had to tell Joni herself. She couldn't find the nerve, or maybe she found her shame, because Joni went to that fair.

I had an aunt who was very seriously crippled from rheumatoid arthritis. Her hands were all curled up and she could not really use them. So were her feet. And her legs hurt like hell and she could barely walk when I was young. By the time Katie was born, me age 28, my aunt didn't walk at all. She got lifted in and out of cars, in and out of her wheelchair. 

My mom, of course, was eager to meet her first grandchild. Mom planned a trip to meet Katie soon after she was born. In those years, my mom traveled crisscrossing the Midwest regularly to see all her kids but I had, for a few years, the only grandchild! Mom nearly always took her disabled sister on these trips. My aunt lived somewhat housebound. She had a daughter, husband, granddaughter but they didn't live with her (well, my uncle did) but she mostly lived her life inside her house. Trips across the Midwest with my mom were a highlight for my aunt.

But when I talked about planning for mom's visit with my teenage sister and very disabled aunt, my then-husband put his foot down and forbid me from hosting a cripple in his house. Of course I thought he was wrong. I thought he was a real asshole to deny a very disabled, suffering woman the simple pleasure of riding along with her sister and nice, eating a few meals out and meeting our new baby. I capitulated to his asshole decree that my aunt could not enter his home because he was very abusive. I had enough on my hands coping with his routine, cowardly nastiness. My mom and teen sister were appalled that our aunt was forbidden in my home.  It was rotten. But I had the worse part of the deal:  I lived with that asshole another year and a half.

I write about my aunt-the-cripple, which is how I referred to her back then (I had an aunt-the-nun and an aunt-the-cripple) because I sometimes wonder if Katie shuns me from the same kind of energy that lead her father to banish my very painfully disabled aunt from our home.  She seems to have gotten a lot of her dad's etheric, ya know?

Is Katie ashamed of me because I am fat? I believe she tells people in her present life that I am 'severely mentally ill' but I do not have a mental illness. Her father accused me of being mentally ill as the grounds for his custody position, which is when I learned that when someone is accusing me of being mentally ill, it is very convenient to have an established relationships with a respected psychologist. I'm not in therapy these days but once I learned about the personality disorder I have, I moved to the Seattle area to get treated by the world's leading authority on my disorder. I was treated in her clinic for two years. That psychologist never gave me any drugs and steadily reiterated that I do not have a mental illness. I don't think Katie reads my blog but I wish she would read this:  Katie you are so wrong to tell people in your life that your mother is mentally ill. I have no mental illness. And you don't know about the treatment I have undergone, nor the very rigorous diagnosis experiences I have had. I. Do. Not.Have.A.Mental.Illness.

I have type one diabetes, heart failure, serious arthritis all over my body, a knee replacement is in the offing. I use a cane. And heart problems are common for diabeticsl I believe my heart problems are the result of losiong you, which has left me shattered and brokenhearted.  The way my heart feels when it is not working right is exactly what I feel when I think "losing her has broken my heart".

Anyway. Katie started college at sixteen, at great sacrifice by me. I sold my house to make her college possible, an income producing duplex. Gone. For her. As gone as she is. The real sacrifice was letting her leave home early. My sister brought over the brochure for her early college program and said "I am letting you know about this college because I think if you spend the next two years with Katie, she's going to kill you with her meanness towards you."

I was so blind, so pixilated by my Katie, that I did not know what my sister might have been referring to. Intellectually. Viscerally, when my sister said that, I knew she spoke truth:  my daughter was unkind, often cruel, to me

Anyway, her last nine months or so living with me, she developed anorexica. She spent the entire summer before she started college in anorexia treatment, partially residential and then for the entire summer, she was in full time day treatment.

No one has a closer bond related to eating than the mother.  I had suckled her at my breast, fed her all her life. Of course she connected her anorexia with her hate of me. And just because I didn't see her hate does not mean she didn't hate me.  She did. I see it now, hindsight being 20 20, eh?

She did not talk to me much about her eating disorder. She was always too angry about it to talk to me about it. But she did make some comments. A couple years later, after she had her AA degree from the early-college program and worked a year in a restaurant, she decided to go to Cornell's Hotel School. I was taken aback, pointing out that making her career about food might not be optimal (she was not into hotels, but restaurants!) She said "This makes perfect sense, Mom. I love food. I think about it all the time."

She's out of the food biz these days but she worked in it for several years.

She also talked to me, just once, about the way she tended to feel powerful when she did not eat, when she had power over her choice to not eat.

For some reasaon, a few days ago, a thought flitted by related to Katie's anorexia. [She looks anorexic to me in current online photos but I am sure that thought would anger her and prove to her I am crazy.]  I remembered her saying she felt powerful when she didn't eat, felt in control.

I have been fasting a lot since my heart failure issues cropped up. I am hounded by most of my docs to lose weight but they all ignore the fact that I am on insulin. Losing weight when on insulin is notoriously difficult.

But when I was hospitalized the second time this February, the hospitalist gave instructions to give me no insulin for five days. And I lost 28 pounds. Some of the weight loss likely came from my choosing not to eat all the carbs they tried to feed me. I knew I wasn't going to get insulin so I tried to eat no carbs, which would reinforce the dopey hospitalist's belief that I didn't have type one. I begged her to consult with my endocrinologist, just as she had consulted with my primary doc, but that little twat stole my power and my insulin from me and simply withheld insulin.

She actually wrote in my discharge orders that I should stop using insulin. For real.

They gave me no insulin, basal or bolus, for five days and I lost 28 pounds.

And now my cardiologist and my pain specialist always put, in post-visit orders, that I should lose weight. I swim a mile almost every day. I eat, on average, 1,500 calories a day. I eat almost no carbs. What the fuck am I supposed to do? Just starve the weight off?

I've tried starving it off. I can go a couple days with no food at all. I learned this while in the first hospitalization and Dylan Easley, asshole ER doc, gave an order that I be given no insulin (even though my glucose read high in his ER) and no food. It took 36 hours to get his starvation order changed.  I was angry. The incident, however, showed me I could go 36 hours with no food.

So since the hospitalizations, I fast pretty regularly.  My glucose is out of control.

When I met my pain specialist last week, I had lost another ten pounds. And then I had a lightbulb moment:  "Oh, if I stop using all the insulin, I'll lose weight."

This is not a good choice.  I hate it when unthinking doctors nag me to lose weight. They don't offer me any advice how to do it. And they don't seem to believe I eat as I do, or that I exercise as I do. No doc ever seems to believe a fat patient.

Anyway, when I saw I had lost more weight, I remembered my Katie Joy talking, ever so fleetingly, of feeling good while starving because it put her in control.

It's not right for me to stop using insulin. Diabetes can cause heart failure. Diabetes may have caused my heart failure.

I had this flash related to Katie's anorexia and a whisper within my being said "you could lose weight by not using insulin." It was not an angel whispering to me to do something harmful.  It's a dark whisper.

I am very unhappy

Monday, June 19, 2017

swimming to me

I have been a lap swimmer most of my life, beginning in law school. A classmate was into lap swimming and got me into it. At first we joined the YWCA, which cost money, plus gas for cars and parking downtown St. Paul. The second year, duh, we discovered that law students, like all the other students, could use our university's atheletic facilities. Once I learned I could swim on campus, I became dedicated to getting in laps every day I was on campus, which was usually five days a week.

How I loved the relative luxury of just walking a short walk through a bucolic campus to the pool, get in some laps, shower, dry off and arrive at another class feeling great from the workout and the shower.

One really great thing about that pool from the law school years is it was never crowded. Few students took advantage of the middle of the day lap swim hours.

One odd thing that happened to me at that pool, well, in the locker room:  I had bought a beige, lace-trimmed underwire bra. It was my first not-totally-boring bra. My first underwire. I have not worn many underwires because they cut into my rib cage but this particular bra fit me perfectly and the underwire didn't hurt at all. That underwire just kept my breaks perfectly perky.

My friend, the one who introduced me to lap swimming, noticed that bra as soon as I took off my top, admiring my bra. I kept undressing and showed her the underwire, talked about how comfy it was. Her sister was also in the locker room that day, for some reason. Her sis lived with her but her sister was not going to that university. But her sis did not have the full bosoms my friend and I had.

We didn't lock lockers in those days. Wow, huh?! So I didn't lock my clothes. My books and wallet were in my law school locker. All I took to the pool was my suit, swim cap and goggles, then put them back in my law school locker after the swim.

Someone stole my underwire bra that day.  It had to have been my 'friend' or her sister because no one else knew that bra existed, that it was in a locker at that pool. And there were only the three of us in that locker room.

It was a creepy theft. Someone I knew stole a bra. And they rightfully calculated that they could even use it and I'd never know, not being privy to others' bras under their tops.

I don't remember being driven by anything specific when I started lap swimming. It felt great to do. It felt great afterwards.

When I moved to CA, because of delusional infatuation for a man, I resumed my daily swimming, building up to, for over a year at one point, two hours a day. Seriously. Other than that year, I swam a mile a day since moving to CA eleven years ago except for holidays.

In the past year or so, I started swimming less and less. Not to avoid swimming. I stopped going because getting myself to the pool had become hard, painful and had me breathless. My pool is only about two blocks away but the walk to the pool wiped me out. I would think about swimming but then remember the draining walk and not go. It is an incline, my walk to the pool. When I first lived here, the walk seemed flat. As my heart problems evolved (I know this now, did not know it for a long time), I swam less and less. I couldn't face the uphill walk. It wiped me out, leaving me fatigued the rest of the day.

Then my heart issues got diagnosed, treated. I still am breathless, still can't walk up to the pool but now I have a mobility scooter. So I'm back in the swim.

Today, swimming my laps, still building back up to an hour/mile, not quite there yet, I remembered when I had turned my swimming, in my early CA years, as swimming towards something. I was going to slim down, find a life partner and have daily companionship.

I was swimming to relationship, to happiness.

Now, I tend to think I have no future, that all I am doing is waiting out my death. My death could take a long time but I am ready to go now. I am not suicidal.  The main thing keeping me from suicide is my fear of the karmic consequences. No one really knows the meaning of life, or what happens in the afterlife. If suicide is some kind of profound wrong, I don't want that karma following me past the veil. So I am not enthusiastically living.

And I am not swimming to get to a better life or some romantic fantasy. Nope. I am swimming because I see that my life could drag on a few years, or even longer, and I can't walk these days.

I met a new doc last week who looked at the same recent knee x-rays that my primary doc had seen. My primary doc said the x-rays didn't reveal much. This new doc, a pain specialist, said the x-rays indicate I probably need a knee replacement. She asked me if I'd like to improve my leg before pursuing a knee replacement. Of course I would.

I'll get a knee replacement is an orthopedist who does lots of knee replacements recommends it. I have a slight anxiety that I should rush and get it now before I lose my health care. But heck, once I lose health care, I will die from type one diabetes because I could never afford insulin again.

Anyway. What a jumble, these thoughts. Writing to me, too.

I decided while swimming today, a hot-for-Berkeley, dazzlingly sunny day making the water dance with light, shimmering light, undulating ripples spreading light and lighting me up, somehow, that I need something to be swimming towards. Not towards a man. Not towards my wish for a relationship. I am swimming to be happier, to be healthier, to be able to walk up that slight incline to my pool.

I am swimming to me.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

time to tuck the tiny tot

It's time to tuck the tiny tot
into her tiny bed
it's time to tuck the tiny tot
that's what the tiny tot's mother just said

adopt the pace of nature

Adopt the pace of nature.
Her secret is patience.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hours later, I feel the sun burning my skin

Once, age sixteen, I went to the Indiana Sand Dunes, an area of the shore of Lake Michigan that is all high sand hills.  It was common for couples to go to prom and then, the next day, go to the Indiana Sand Dunes for an all day picnic and, I always believed, sex.  I went to a couple proms but I never went to 'the Indiana sand dunes' as part of a special, big-deal date.  I was such a Catholic girl in my all girl Catholic school.

One day, some girlfriend got her family car and three or four girls went to Indiana Dunes State park. We spent the entire day on the beach. It was the first time I had ever gone 'to the beach' without my parents, or any supervising adults.  I am sure my folks thought an all-girl trip was fine and dandy. And it was.  My virginity was safe.

No one, however, told me to cover up my skin for most of the day. No one suggested I should not stay on the hot sand, along the water, in my bathing suit all day long.

My back and the back of my neck ended up so badly, and deeply, sunburned that my skin was scaled. Ridges upon ridges of burnt to a crisp skin. My skin.

I knew before the end of our time at the beach that I had overexposed myself to the sun so I covered up. Too late. The damage was done.

By the next day, my neck and back were on fire. Heat literally emanated from the crispy scales that seemed to sizzle. My skin sizzling!

My mom took me to our family doctor, Dr. Lorenz. Dr. Lorenz kindly talked to me about never exposing my very tender, very Irish, very burnable skin to all day sunshine ever again. Then he told me to take a towerl, soak it in water, freezer the wet towel in our freezer and then place it on my back. He warned that it would be hard, even painful, to spread the frozen, icy towel on my back but I had to do it anyway. He said the frozen towel would draw some of the heat out of my burned skin.

This was not a casual sunburn.

Dr. Lorenz was right. Those frozen towels did draw out the heat, reduce my suffering. It still took several weeks for all my dead, burned skin to fall away, for new skin to grow. The only thing that soothed me, for not even moisturizers and skin lotions helped, were those frozen wet towels.

My daughter inherited her dad's complexion. She has a very faint olive tone in her skin and she tans. No one in my Fitzpatrick clan ever tanned. I have never had a tan. I get burned and then my burn stabilizes if I am swimming outdoors every day, which I am doing again these days. I still look red but my skin gets to a point where it stops burning.

Katie also got her dad's brown eyes. She does not look a lot like me but, and I don't think she knows this, she looks a hella lot like my mother. Once, when she was about thirteen, I took a photo of her and my mother, then forgot about the photo. When I found it years later, I was amazed at the identical angle of her nose, her clavicle, her eyebrows. Side by side my mother, they looked very much alike.

She got her coloring from her Kreifels kin. Her bones from my mother, who, like Katie Joy Kreifels, was a great beauty. And, apparently nothing from me but love, exposure to the arts, cello lessons, private school, camping, season tickets to multiple theater companies, then season tickets to dance companies. And endless, and expensive, dance classes. And at the end, I sold my duplex, with its income production, to finance her first college. And she got my love, which seems to mean diddly squat to her.

And I bet she loves believing she looks like the Kreifels instead of me, since she hates me. But she looks like a Crowley. Like my mom.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

I wait a lonely lifetime

What I am seeking is also seeking me
When I run after what I believe I want,
my days are a furnace of stress and tension.
But if I sit in my own place of patience,
What I need flows to me itself, without
any pain.
From this I understand that

What I am seeking is also seeking me
is looking for me and attracting me.
~ Hazrat Shams Tabrizi

I wait a lonely lifetime. . . . 

I can't be without you

I can't be without you ...
Why don't you say it too: I can't be without you ?
~ Rumi

let joy move you

Don't move the way fears makes you move.
Move the way loves makes you move.
Move the way joy makes you move
~ Osho

get into gratitude!

Friday, June 16, 2017

I wait for you to believe in me

I will be waiting here
For the ray sky to cry
For your suspicions to die
For you to really try

I will be waiting here
Fr the white snow to melt
For the roses to be smelt
For you to feel what I felt

I will be waiting here
For the moments to pass
For the memories to last
For you to break that glass

I will be waiting here
For the ships to sail on the sea
For the clock to strike three
For you to believe in me

I will be waiting here
For your silence to break
For your soul to shake
For your love to wake

~ Rumi

do you have a son, she asked

Once, maybe a year ago, a woman who does not actually live in my building and who has been verbally abusive to me on many occasions*, got into the elevator with me and a senior, white-haired black man who has lived here, as I have, since our building opened 9 years ago. The woman's mother also moved in here when the building opened but her mother rarely leaves her apartment. So I guess this daughter is being a good daughter, visiting her mom, maybe running errands for her.  I have never seen 'this woman' bringing groceriers to her mom's place or bringing anything.

This woman found out I have an adult daughter who has shunned me, now, for almost 17 years. As soon as she learned it, the woman shifted from being someone who nodded hello to me in the elevator or waiting for the elevator to someone spitting verbal abuse towards me. "It your fault your daughter hate you", she say. "I know you did something, I know you must be a bad mother."  I endured a few of these verbal assaults but this is my home. I should not be serially subjected to hurtful, abusive talk from a stranger who doesn't know one damned thing about me, other than my race, or about my daughter.  I trembled inwardly when I would see this woman. I often felt tears smarting just at the sight of her.

Having both experienced emotionaly abuse many times and having once been a lawyer who helped women escape emotional abuse, I knew how to put a stop to it. I knew this woman's mother was accountable for all her guests behavior, including the behavior of her daughter. I knew if I submitted a written complain, our property manager would warn the abuser that if she kept on emotionally assaulting me, her mother could be evicted.

My report angered my neighbor's adult daughter, as one might imagine. She began to verbally harass me for snitching on her and she continued to bring up my lost Katie Joy. Tears would be streaming down my face and I would stand there like a child, frozen, weeping. I made some verbal requests for the woman to stop but, like every abuser I have ever known, she wanted to see me upset. She enjoyed seeing me cry. She would say "You are crying because you know I am right. You won't see your daughter again until you deserve to have a daughter and I bet you never get to see her again."

So I reported her again. Both reports in writing. Strike three and her mother would have been evicted. So this witch stopped abusing me about my daughter disowning me.

And, just fyi, tears are streaming down my face as I write this, as tears always stream out of me if I dally in thoughts about my daughter in any connection for more than an instant.

Being a bully, and nasty, this women looked for other ways to abuse me.

She had her mother's security fob, the fob necessary to get the elevator to go to any floor but the ground floor. It is a security measure. It states in all leases that residents should only admit their own guests. It states in the leases that letting persons unknown into the building is a lease violation and doing so consistently could lead to eviction.

So this bully would wait until I entered the elevator, wait until a stranger entered the elevator with us and then offer to let them up.  She likely did this regularly. I did speak to her about it, pointing out that if someone has a legitimate reason to be in the building, and the only legitimate reasons involve visiting specific residents who are supposed to let people in. I pointed out that she had no idea who she was letting up. She was silent as I said this and then waived some guy onto the elevator with her mother's fob.

I submitted a written complaint about that. Her mother was informed that she cannot give her daughter the security fob and that the daughter can't let people up.

So, after this two write ups, the bully was very, very angry with me.  She was furious that I took steps to stop her emotional abuse when she would not stop when I asked and she was furious that she got that security fob taken away because then she had to wait to be let into the building and up the elevator. She does not leave here. She is not supposed to have a fob. I didn't care if she used her mother's fob but I did not like how she let lots of people in.

Bully did stop bullying me. And she did stop letting persons unknown to her up the elevator. 

A couple times, her mother had just buzzed her in (buzzing someone in allows one of the elevators to open and deliver one's guest to one's floor) but the bully missed the elevator and I was also waiting for the elevator. She asked me if I would let her up, not very pleasantly pointing out that it was my fault (it was not) she had missed her mother's buzz-in because I had hit the button for the elevator. But I let her ride up with me because I knew she really has a mother, on my floor as it happens. And I am not an asshole.

Letting her up a couple times lead to my longwinded point. The last time she, not very sweetly, demanded I let her up because her mother's buzz had failed to let her up, I let her up. Then, just as the doors closed, an elderly black man who, as far as I can tell, does nothing but go outside to smoke cigarettes. He doesn't seem to go to church, as so many of my black neighbors do. And he smokes a lot of marijuana in his apartment. I know this because he lives two floors directly below my apartment and he likes to blast loud music when he is high, like at 4 a.m. I have gone down at 4 a.m. to ask him to turn down the noise. He does not answer. Later, he has told me, he thinks he must have been asleep to which I had responded "Well I was awakened by your music and it went on all night."

Funnily, he was complaining to me because property management had called him at 8:30 to report the many complaints about his all night stereo noise.  At first, I considered keeping it private that I had been one of the complaints. It is not my nature to lie. Sure I tell some white lies but, at some fundamental level, I have always been more at ease with telling my truth. And, yes, I recognize my truth may not be the same as another's. So I told him, out at the bus stop around 8:45, that I was sorry he had been awakened by property management but I was one of the people his stereo had kept awake for hours. He said "Why didn't you come to my door and say something?" So I told him how I had tried that and he had not responded, even though I pounded loudly over his stereo.  "Man," he said, "I musta been asleep. I got to get me a house or a duplex, live in a place with less neighbors."

Here in Berkeley, there is no smoking of anything in rental buildings with six or more units. It might be more than four units. Whatev. I think he had voiced wishful thinking to live in a place where folks couldn't report him for smoking illegally.

So I had reported this guy and he remained just as genial to me as he had always been. And he knew I had reported him. And he has never blasted his stereo at all, as far as I can tell. I do smell his marijuana. I let that slide. Its ciggie smoke that really bothers me but he is careful to smoke his cigarettes not just outside but across the street, away from residents' windows.

So. The emotionally abusive bully, the old codger who likes to smoke marijuana to loud music and I all find ourselves on the elevator. Emotionally abusive had long since taken to not acknowledging me unless she needed me to let her up. This day, she very pointedly directed her request to be let up to the music-loving pothead. Then, speaking as effusively as possible, even a little flirtatiously to an old man she was condescending to, she talked to him, turning her back to me to signal that I was not a part of the conversation. And I remained silent. One elevator ride isn't long enough to have a fight. This guy, the music loving pothead, is always friendly to me. He is also sharp. I think he saw that the abusive bully was making some kind of point. He talked to her, but he glanced at me, too, to include me in the dialogue. I remained silent.

Then she asked him if he had any grandchildren. She had tried to get him to open up on several topics. She so wanted him to be effusive with her, as she was being with him, to drive home her pettiness, to make sure all three of us knew I was excluded. Like it was a blacks only elevator chat.

Fuck her, eh?

I did not respond to her but I did respond to my neighbor. Not her neighbor. Her mother's neighbor. She doesn't know that I see this man all the time and we have a friendly connection.

He said, slipping into some kind of guardedness, or so I thought I detected, he said "No, no grandkids."

"Do you have children?" she asked, all smarmy sweetness, batting her eyes, pulling up her chest to emphasize, I suspected, her bosom. Not that she was interested. She was interested, I believe, in making me feel left out.

"I have one son," the man said and said no more.

"Well, there you go. There's still time. You will be a grandfather someday. Just you wait."

Then the man said "My son, he in prison."  He did not say, but it sure felt like this to me, that his son is in prison for a hella long time, like too many black men in this country. His voice held years of grief. I heard it. But emotionally bullies apparently don't pay attention to people when they aren't trying to hurt them. When she was mean to me, she tended to be note perfect in judging how her unkind words attacked me. But she was clueless about this old man with a black son in prison. She had not seen his whole being droop when she asked if he had kids. I had. Then I was glad not to be in the conversation.

The old man, with one black son in prison, probably for a hella long time like this culture does to black males, got off on the 4th floor. Bully and I rode up to my floor, her mom's floor in silence.

I wanted to say "You know how black men get locked up for decades. That man's son might never be out of prison in that man's lifetime. It was insensitive of you to prattle on about his future grandchildren."

And I know, with all my being, that this man had also done a long stretch in prison. And I remembered I have never seen him with anyone. And I thought about my belief that he is pushing seventy, if not in his seventies.

Since that passing encounter, which I am sure the old man forgot for he had forgotten me telling him I was one of the folks who had complained about his late night stereo booming, I have wanted to ask him about his son, how much time he has left. I never would ask that question, not just off the bat. Maybe if he and I struck up a friendship, hung out a bit, had a cuppa together. Or a joint. He offered me a joint that day at the bus stop, the day he got awakened at 8:30 a.m. for his loud stereo.

Bitch bully?  I don't think I've seen her in a long time. If I have, she had been ordered not to talk to me so she could be around and not speaking to me. Thank goddess.

She once said I had to have done something to lose my only child. Crying, blubbering like a baby, I sniffled and cried as I said "You don't know anything about me, much less my daughter, you don't know what you are talking about. Please stop. I haven't done anything to you."  This was the turning point, when I realized I had to file a written complaint, invoking the lease clause that says residents ar responsible for the behavior of their guests.

American democracy is childish fantasy

"The U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis made the very basic and elementary observation that Americans “must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” Why all this nonsensical talk about “American democracy”? It’s a childish fantasy." ~ Paul Street, in Counterpunch