Sunday, September 29, 2013

going to Yosemite in a couple days & not coming back

Growing up in the Midwest -- I grew up in Chicago -- you hear about national parks. For me, I heard about Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Badlands of South Dakota (I was born in SoDak so natch), the Grand Canyon and a couple others. I've never seen thte Grand Canyon. Never been to Yosemite but I live just a couple hours from Yosemite so I'm going to see it before I die. Next week.

I saw Yellowstone when I moved to Seattle. It is worth a visit. And I would sure love to have seen the Grand Canyon. I paid to send my kid there for her 8th grade trip. She wouldn't let me go as a chaperon, said it would be no fun with me. Bitch was already leaving me, I guess.

Well, now I'm leaving everyone.

As a kid, we loved the cartoon Yogi Bear, who lived in Jellystone, which I always imagined was a riff on Yellowstone. And there were Yosemite Sam cartoons.

The Grand Canyon seems the most impressive but I'll never see it.

Amen.

Friday, September 27, 2013

the banality of phony friendship

I am very unhappy right now. I am unhappy because I have very few friends. I think I give, to most but not everyone in my life, far more than I get. I hate myself for doing this. I end up feeling used, abused and chump fucked.  I know, at least intellectually, that I allow myself to get treated shabbily by putative friends but it hurts even if I did create the pattern. And I am not sure I did.

A few years ago, I scrimped, saved and really sacrificed for six whole months to buy a painting that portrayed an event someone in my life had held on a street in San Francisco. This event was related to his now-decades-long vision for his work, to transform communities with neighborhood assemblies. An artist who has carved out a niche with his very mediocre artistic talent creating collages that reprsent events. The artist gets participants that are willing to create self-portraits, then he collages those portraits into a picture of the event. People hire him for housewarmings, corporate conferences and he volunteered to participate in this street cafe this guy I know organized. This guy, fyi, did not invite me to the event, even tho we are colleagues and he was safely living with a woman so I was no threat to him romantically or sexually. I never hit on him but he didnt invite me, ever, to his home and he never intro'd me to her so I didn't go to the event even though many colleagues I know and love were there.

The event was in 2007. The jerk turned fifty in July 2010. On August 16, 2010, which happens to be my birthday, the artist had still not sold the collage representing the street event this guy did, so I figured the artist was trying to unload it. I thought it would be a perfect fiftieth birthday and awesome gift but not quite a fiftieth birthday gift cause the asking price as $600, the most I was willing to pay was $300 and I needed six months of sacrificing to save up $300.

Then, three days before Xmas, the guy who had the event called me and said he no longer wanted to consider me a friend and, and he actually said this, he was downgrading me to acquaintance. Hang to goddess he said that. So there I was, half way to the $300, having fantasized how much he would love owning this painting. Did i go on saving and buy it for him? Did i give an acquaintance an awesome, and, for me, VERY expensive gift?  I had to give it to him. It sorta belonged to him. It is a sweet, although artistically weak, representation of his dream, his vision for his life work. He has made virtually no progrress establishing his vision in the world, which is partly why I wanted him to have this memento of the one time he did a neighborhood assembly. He talks, or used to, about neighborhood assemblies all the time. Now he does any work he can get, does nothing to advance his vision.

When he broke up with me as a friend, I never called him after that. From December 2010 until mid April 2011, I did not speak to him. But in march, I had $300, wrote to the artist, offered him what I could pay and the artist accepted. We agreed I would go to San Frncisco in a few days, pay him and take the painting. I had hoped to spend time with the painting in my apartment, getting to know it and enjoy it, getting a little bang for all that money. I also, selfishly I guess, wanted to see the guy/pig open it and see his happiness upon seeing he had been given this amazing gift.

Then I ran into the guy, purely, he said, by happenstance, at a book launch in the conference center adjacent to where I live. There was a $20 fee to attend and he did not buy a ticket. I mention that because I think he went hoping to run into me and act like it was an accident. He's not stupid. He had to know it cost $20 and he would not pay to go in. He just asked the registrars if he could go in and talk to me and then he offered to wait until the presentation was over to talk to me.

 I had called him the day before, missed him, and missed his return call. I had called to invite him over, giving a fuzzy reasoan about wanting to talk. My only agenda in having him over was to surprise him with the gift. But I left the book launch to have coffee with the pig and he said he was afraid to be alone in my home. Later I asked him if he had ever refused to go to anyone else's home. I listed everyone I could think of from his life, Louis, Kenoli, family, Monisha, Tom and Laura, Laurie, Gabariell, Susan Luken and any name he had ever memtnioned. He said, nope, he had never refused to go to any one's home but mine. He said if I wanted to meet in private space, to rent the party room in my building. That was so humiliating. How was he safe alone with me in that party room if he wasn;t safe in m apartment? I begged him to please come.  I couldn't tell him why it was important to me cause surprising him with the painting was something I had been invested in for six months.

So he left and I rushed ustairs and asked the artist, the only time I talked to him, to deliver the art to the pig.  I said I would send a check and then if he had to try more than once or twice to connect with PIG, cuse the artist didn't really want to deliver it, not being in the delivery bus, I would come get it and give it to him. three weeks later, I learned PIG knew about it but had not bothered to pick it up so I wrote to the artist and said I would pick it up. /but the artist was in NYC. He and I set a date and time and location for me to get MY property -- in the law, a gift giver can rescind their gift intention. When I had impulsively asked Todd to deliver it, I had forgotten that if Todd delivered it, I'd never see it cause I knew PIG would not let me see it.

I was right. While he was in NYC, Todd contacted PIG, alerted him that I had changed the delivery plan and PIg rushed in to steal my painting before I could get it. Once Todd confirmed in writing that he was suposed to give it to me, the person who owned it and who had, um paid for it, it was stealing for PIG to take it and then keep it.

At first I asked PIG to hand it over to me. Pig said "I am going to forget you  just said that." How was I supposed to deal with that? Breakk into his apartment?  so, to salvage a little dignity, I said "Okay you have it, I'lll live with that but I want to see it. I haven't seen it."

To me, a person buying original art and never having seen it is an obvious reasonable thing to want to resolve. Of course I wanted to see it.

At the time, I was doing free legal work for PIG. I mention that because he has since said I onlyscrimed and saved for six months so I could have an excuse to interact with PIG. Even tho I reminded him that it was a very expensive thing for me, and I used to be an art docent, and that art was important to me and that not having seen it was hurtful to me and I even offered to see it in a coffee shop since he was afraid to be in private with me, he took my free legal help, the pig, but for five months, he refused to let me see it, only letting me see it when I threatened to sue the artist for taking my money and giving me no art and sue PIG for wrongful possessin of my property. I was legally in the right. Easy peasy.

He was aghast that I would embarass him. Then he covered ass and said he had been about to let me see it. "LET" me see my property and he said my legal thrats had nothing to do with the fact that he offered to let me see it only after the threat. He even offered to complete the delivery to me but I would have destroyed it, which is why I didn't take it. I regret that decision. He doesn't desserve to have it.

I called him about ounce a week for five months, begging to see it. Only when I threatened to sue for it did he let me see it. He said he had not realized it had mattered to me seriously to see it. Yeah, right.

I want him to pay me what I paid for it NOW, immediately, or I am going to act on my recent threats.

PIG, are you reading?  Write me a check and put it in the mail tonight. You have my address. Go for a late night walk, up to Filmore there must be a mailbox or post office and mail it tonight.  I have thought of new ways to get back at you and i am not going to let you just keep it. Mail the painting or pay for it.

sweets, scones, donuts, candy

I would kill for something sweet loaded with carbs.

  • Top choice: bacon cheddar scone from Lundgren's Coffee: awesome, pure carb except for the bacon and cheese which is high callorie
  • lemon scone
  • lemon bars -- haven't had one in years but could eat a whole pan now
  • donuts, what are those super sweet gross ones that even have a few drive-thru locations? Or how about bacon donuts in Seattle I have read about? chocolate, nuts, laods of sweet, caramel, pecans, cinnamon -- I"m open
  • very good chocolate cake, like the choco layer cake at Wuollet Bakeries in MInneapolis -- that used to be our basic birthday cake. I could eat a whole one right now.
  • Napoleon pastry -- my step dad used to buy those as treats when I visited
  • hell, Dunkin Donuts -- a box or two of any kind, includ a few raspberry filled ones please
  • candy:  good chocolate, bad chocolate (good is better)
  • high quality buttery caramels -- lots of them
  • pancakes with syrup, raspberry pancakes w/raspberries starting out frozen so they get gooey
  • french toast with syrup

and more.  I want sweets, loads of carbs and this fantasy goes with a free pass on insulin. Magically my insulin will work again for this magical carb filled day.

Oh, a couple poppyseed bagels with lox, cream cheese, red onion and caper. Toasted, of course, and why  not, butter the bagels before the smear.

Store bought chocolate milk.

I am craving carbs. Can you tell?

A whole pizza --- but a really good one like Cheeseboard, not a carby crust but super thin crust, great sausage, mushrooms, AND pepperoni and lots of extra cheese

Cheesecake

Brownies

Cheese pretzels from that great bakery at my farmers market

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

farming & schooling


My great grandparents, maternal and paternal, were immigrants from Ireland (well, the one guy was half Scot but nobody in my fam ever wanted to cop that we had any Scottish in us). Both sets of my ancestors farmed near Montivideo. My maternal great grandfather was a bit ahead of his time. He had something llke 13 kids, about half female and he went ALL his kids to college, not just the boys. He even sent the baby, a girl, to get a Masters in Psychologist which at the turn to 20th century MN was pretty radical, sending a female to grad school in a male dominated thing like psychology. It was very different psychology than you'd get today but that amazing part was my great grandfather's commitment to education of both his daughters and sons.

But, even tho my mom's side of my gene pool has deep roots in MN farm country, my farm experiences were in Indiana. My mom's sister married a farmer, they had an only child who was lonely out on a remote farm so I was shipped there every summer to be the cousin's playmate. Everyone worked on that farm, even small children. And I loved it all. When very young, I stuck close to my cousin's grandma's kitchen garden, where she grew and then canned most of the family's food for the whole year. "Kitchen garden" is deceptive -- it was a massive garden that even tiny children could help by weeding. As I got older, I helped harvest wheat, gathered eggs from the chickens, fed the pigs, and even helped bale straw. I was wicked allergic to the straw and if I participated in that, my whole body was covered in itchy red rash and my mom would squawk to my aunt about stopping me but I loved baling straw, helping anyway and was happy to put up with the rashes. Baling only lasted a couple weeks.

And I really worked. My cousin's grandpa had about 9 sons who all farmed with him but he also hired a lot of farm hands -- he owned many farms. If we kids wanted to eat the farmer's lunch that one of the women folk made daily, we had to put in a full day's work. the food we ate I don't remember. What mattered to me was to earn a spot at the table, to be recognized for contributing to having grown food that day.

when my grandma grew up in Montevideo, her parents rented an apartment in town every winter for the kids could live in town and keep going to school. /with MN snow, if the kids stayed on the farm, they could not realistically travel to school. When I heard that, i was about 12 and couldn't imagine several brothers and sisters living alone in an apartment through the winter -- but, of course, they all had done hard chores always and knew how to cook and care for one another.

As I write these memories, I see that education was heavily emphasized.

I remember being quite unsettled when I realized my daughter was 'only' going to get an undergrad degree (from an Ivy!). I still have a hard time grokking that she didn't wnat to go to grad school. She groused 'school is just reading reading reading then writing writing writing, why would I want more of that?"  I still think of her answer as something an alien might say. So I guess I inherited the getting all the educatin you can gene from my mom's side of the family.

My dad's father dropped out of school after the third grade in Chicago because his newly immigrant Irish parents needed him to earn money to feed the family. So a wide range in educations in my background.

I am angry that we ever had (and still have) an economic system that does not provide basic needs for all because we all own the earth in common. I am angry that an 8 year old boy had to quite school and go to work to add a few pennies weekly to the family budget.

But my grandpa Fitz was well eduated. He spent hours every day of his life reading. My mom, raised to be an education prioritizer, often said my paternal grandpa who dropped out of school after the third grde was one of the best edudated men she knew.

aging with grace

When I started having perimenopausal symptoms, my mom was still alive. I asked her about her menopausal experiences, which would have been different from mine because she had a hysterectymy, which, I think, brings on menopause intantly. But she acted like I was talking dirty and hushed me up.

My sister is fourteen years younger than me so she wasn't  experiencing menopause.

But, being me, and always too goddamned open about my inner process (people are so often such shits just cause I talk about what I am actually thinking and feeling -- I just don't get why most folks seem to think we're all supposed to go around posing to fit some set of norms. Where are the norms? Is there a tablet or two, with norms etched in stone like the Ten Commandments? Of course not cause there are no universal norms. We all think differently about everything -- with lots of lovely overlap in which we find kindred spirits who think similarly but, ultimately, we all think differently.

Being me, I kept discussing my perimenopause. I often heard "What you just said is the first time I ever heard a woman refer to menopause."  My favorite time hearing that was from an adorable twenty-something young man who was working as a residential manager at a Vipassana retreat center.  I wonder what he is up to now. He was thrilled, really thrilled, to have a glimpse into the female experience of menopause. I said "You never heard about it before because women never talk, aging women lose value. I am talking to change the world."  Man, I wish I had  male friends like that. He truly was thrilled to hear me gripe about my sudden insomnia.

I kept talking and grdually found out other women I knew had similar experiences. Peggy endured endless insomnia for years just as I did. It didn't ameliorte the misery of feeling like you never sleep -- who knew menopause gives some women wicked insomnia? And then there is my friend Mary Ella, and I love her in spite of this fact, but her menopause was painless and quick. She says it was over like in a day (not quite possible but the point is:   it was fast and painless).

That insomnia was so awful.  It was such a relief to find another woman experiencing it. This other imsomnic menopausal gal was my rooommate at a Spirited Work retreat:   we didn't sleep together in the same room. A kindred spirit.

My perimenopausal stuff started in the late nineties. Nowadays women talk more -- at least older ones - about the reality of menopause. Not enough but more.

Today I launch a new campaign:   aging. I might have found a focus for this rambling diary blog. Aging.

If you are reading this and you have noticed that your knees complain when you get down on the floor on your knees. Is it harder to get up than it used to be?  Of course it is if you are post-50 altho the more jock-like women might not have as much of an issue.  It hurts like hell.

I see my friend Lana with her grandgirls and often think "Gee, Lana is just as bouncey as she was with Alex, her son" but the other day, and I loved her already but this made me love Lana more, she said "my knees hurt when I get down on the floor and then have to get up". She said 'you know, sometimes with the kids, I get down on the floor." She means her delightful grandgirls, the lucky duck. Two granddaughtters that adore her and she adores and she get to be their child care.  I would move to MN and childcare those two girls free but that would steal Lana's love gig.

Anyway, it hurts Lana, about age 59 (soon, not quite, I think, 59) to get down on the ground. It hurta to get up.

Me too. IF I have to get something under my bed, I have to want it pretty damned bad to get down on my knees and get it. I can lay flat on the ground and taht doesn't hurt. I can pull the thing under the bed out. but at some point, I had to kneel to get up and the kneeling hurts. fucking hurts.

Nobody talks about stiff knees.

I hear about cholesterol some. Blood pressure, of course. Let's share our truth about knees. Aging knees don't work like 25 year old knees.

Right now, my right knee hurts all the time. If I roll over in bed, my being half awakens because she knows she has to be tender and careful rolling the right knee. My doc referred me to physical therapy but I haven't made the apppointment cause I want my knee to heal naturally. I'm swimming again. I'd kill to sit in a  hot tub but uc Berk only makes pool hot tubs available to swim team. I can't swim at the Y which has an awesome hot tub cause it is an indoor pool. Once you have swum laps outdoors for years, indoors if stultifying and not even the really great hot tub at the Y makes up for not being able to swim under the sun.

Talk about being an old lady. It gets harder and harder to climb out of the pool. Any day now, I am going to have to ask lifeguards to use the lifts that they have to lift old people, stiff and bent people, out of the pool. Not yet though.

My doc just suggeted I buy a cane. And she is right. I should have one. I am unseady when I steep up and down any curb. Most corners in Berkeley have slopes, for wheelchirs so I can avoid the bend in my knee to 'step' but when I do have to step up or down a curve, it doesn't just hurt physically. It hurts emotionally to see I am wobbly just stepping on a curve.

And, woe is me, I have no family so I will go on aging all along with no fantasy that some caring kin will even check in on me. No one checks in on me now.  Certainly not my daughter.

Katie, your mama is sixty years old. Are you ready to hear someday that I died and you made the choices you are making? Believe it or not, I worry about that moment. I think it is going to bite hard and I am still your mama and care that you will feel at least a pinch to hear I am gone and you let all this time pass without contact. Every ache, every limping curb step, is made worse knowing my Katie doesn't care. I am positive it would all hurt less if I felt her caring about me.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

love, lobster two for five dollars and my dad

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My dad was a compulsive gambler. It caused a lot of heartache and it is why my mom ultimately divorced him as soon as she climbed over my back as her household/childcare slave to get her college degree. Truth told, dad had stopped gambling by the time mom left him but it was less painful to buy the gambling excuse than to admit my mom was a grasping bitch. She just wanted to be married to a more prosperous man and she found one. She claimed three rich men proposed and she chose the one who remained calm when my sister, about age 2 at the time, had a tantrum in a restaurant. I still wish she had married the Cadillac dealer she claimed also proposed. I suspect Ron was the only deal cause other than his money, she stoooped down to marry him. Uneducted but rich and such a male chauvinist and fat - repulsively so. I used to wonder how she could stand sleeping with him on top of her.  I used to fantasize the Cadillac dealer would give all of us used cars. Not Cadillac! Ugh. I never wanted one of those. A modest used car would have been just fine.

All thru h.s. I never socialized (maybe that's why I have no memories of being ostradizd; I spent h.s. caring for my baby bro and sis. My sis born the week I graduated 8th grade and I spent more time with both those babies in the first years of their lives than mom cause mom worked half time to pay her tuition and went to college full time. Mom said 10,000 times "I am determined to finish college before you graduate h.s. and head off to college and then I'll be able to help you." I believed she meant it and I truly believed I was investing in my own future as well as hers. It wasn't until I was in my forties that I realized she was determined to graduate from college before I left home from college cause without her slave (me) she could not do college. She needed my childcare. In those days, day care centers rare. Mostly babysitters were neighbors who charged by hour and I was pressured to rush home, starting in sixth grade through 12th, to pick up the latest baby to save babysitting money. I couldn't play after school:  I had to rush to save babysit money, then tidy the house, usually do a grocery run with a stroller and one or two babies and fix dinner. I did that for six years. Then ONCE in coillege, with my dad left holding the bag for three kids in college at the same time and mom gone -- she disappeared for a couple years with my babies, which was close to what losing Katie felt like but I got them back eventually, I had loved them like my babies cause they were mine.  Once dad said at the beginning of a semester that he was having a hard time coming up with cash for books for all three of us in college so i said "I'll ask mom, she promised for years to help me." my mom had a good teacher job and a husband who paid all the household bills so her salary was pocket money and she had to pay for the kids needs but, still, all I all I asked for was $30 for books, explaining dad could give it to me, financial aid didn't cover the textbooks. and she wrote back and said, Gee, Ron and I just bought a Winnebago (a gigantic one that slept 8) so we can travel with his girls next summer and I agreed to make the payments from my salary so I can't give you any help." I wrote back -- too poor to phone -- and said "Please, mom, the semester has started, I don't have books, I have no way to buy them, it's only $30" $30 in 1974 more than now but geez, I literally put her through college. It broke my heart but my heart breaks easy I guess cause everyone I have ever loved has stomped all over it. Well, I have a few friends who love me who have not broken my heart -- but I have "friends" who have also broken my heart. Like Marc.  These friends take from me and give little. Take take take. And I am such a chump. I give generously whenever I can.

I hated that Winnebago. She used the payments to justify never helping me. A fucking luxury camper in her husband's name.
My dad borrowed the money from one of his gambling pals and I got my books and my dad said "I will never forgive you, Therese, if you ever ask that woman for another dime. Fuck her. She used you and then she stiffs you like that. Have some pride and don't you ever ask her again." And after that, dad made sure I had what I needed and it was hard with 3 kids in college at the same time.
Money had such different value. My college had trimesters, so ten-week semesters, not really like the quarter system. I would get $100 for spending money for those ten weeks and it seemed like a fortune. Plus I had a campus job. I didn't spend much.  I did not ask my mom for money again until Katie's father sued her for custody. And she came through for me, saving Katie. But that was her husband who shelled out, not her. He was a decent man. I kinda liked him but never spent any time with him so he was more like a cartoon than a person to me, unreal.
One year, tho, still seeking my mom's approval, I scrimped and saved to send her a dozen yellow roses for Mother's Day. Yellow roses were my mom's thing. I learned that if I ordered far enough in advance, it was a little cheaper because that company for sending flowers -- blanking the name, it was a national deal that contracted with local florists and charge high prices -- but ordering early meant no long distance call so it waved me a couple bucks. I remember the roses cost $30 -- interesting coincidence. I was so proud of what I had done. so on mother's day, I sorta thought mom would call me and thank me, even tho kids see it as their duty to call mom on mother's day. Finally, the day winding down, I called her. I chatted a bit, said happy mom day and waited for her to say thanks. But she didn't. puzzled, for there had been a card from me included, I was careful of that -- talked to the local florist to be sure about the card -- so I asked her if she got my yellow roses. She sighed a big dramatic sigh -- mom was a drama queen and said "Oh that, it was such a disappointment. When the florist pulled up, I thought Ron (husband #2) was sending me flowers to recognize my stepmother of his girls (who despised her, of course and she never did a damn thing for them -- they lived with their mom and were just kids) so when  I opened the card and saw it was from you and not Ron, I was disappointed."  I wish I were making this up.  I never sent her a mother's day gift again, altho I would call. I doubt if she ever realized why.

Another griper -- when mom had a hsyterectomy and was found to have cancer, she was in hospital long time. I sent her several care packages, obvious with my name on the return. again, she never thanked me. Again I asked her if she had enjoyed getting her favorite treats in a series of thought care packages -- I kept sending them when she went home, cause she was laid up for several weeks. Like Brussels Pepperidge Farm cookies -- her favorite, one week. Brie and good water crackers another. And novels and magazines. I kept it up every week for months and she never mentioned it. when I asked her, she said "I assumed they were from your sister, she is always so thoughtful."  My sister had not sent her a single card.  Even after she knew the weekly care packages were from me -- she knew all along, I had my return address on them -- she did not say thank you.

Story of my life.  Nobody notices me, the people I poured the most love into ignored me.
A happy story. The first christmas after mom told us where she was living -- she hid a couple years, having lied under oath when the divorce judge made her pledge under oath that she would not take the kids out of Ilinois. Two hours later a moving truck pulled up and took all our furniture -- taking her kids beds away without the kids! and then she hid cause she was afraid of having lied to the jduge. She moved to Ohio the day she looked a judge in the eye and swore she would keep the kids in Illinois. Why did she turn up? Because she pissed off the judge. My dad never hired a lawyer, just advocated for himself. He went down and asked the judge, pretending he didn't know he wasn't supposed to talk to the judge without a lawyer, if he had to pay child support when she wouldn't tell him where her kids were. The judge was furious that she had lied so blatantly under oath and suspended child support and said "She won't get a dime until she shows up back in my court and tells me where those kids live."

In those days, there was no interstate custody jurisdiction protection, no PKPA (the parental kidnaping prevention act -- which I literally wrote a book about long ago in another life, for a continuing legal edudation class. It became the handbook for the State of MN until the next continuing ed on interstate custody jurisdiction.  I had written it for my boss, who wanted to get elected as a judge and wanted to appear as a family law expert but I wrote it. He didn't really even underatnd the PKPA. AT the CLE conference, it was painful to listen to his presentation on the act. On the table was my book, two inches thick, full of rich analysis and useful insights for lawyers and he clearly did not understand it. But when it had come time to put an author's name on the book, he left my name off. When I objected, he said "we never had an express agreement I would credit you" and I said "We never had an express agreement I would do all this work for free AND for no credit. My name goes on the cover." Grudgingly -- I wrote the fucking book -- he listed himself as the author and credit me as a helper.  I took it cause fuck him, right? Man that guy was a pig. 

He did become a judge too and then he got pushed off the bench for, basically, being such a jerk. He would joke about wanting to smack his wife around during divorce trials involving spouse abuse. A feminist group monitoried divorce judges and worked to get rid of him. He took an early retirement, using his hearing loss as a disability. He had had the hearing loss all his life and when he took the bench. it was a bullshit and expensive-to-taxpayer way to get rid of an incompetent, abusive boob sitting on the bench.

She told us older kids she had hidden because she was afraid dad would kill her. Baloney. My dad was never violent -- ever, in any circumstance. He was cowardly, actually.
so then, for that first xmas -- all us big kids missed the little ones and missed our mom -- all my brothers rushed to Ohio to spend Xmas and see mom's new home and see the kids. So I stayed in chicago cause otherwise my dad would have been alone. I was about a college junior. Dad said "Go with them, I know you want to, I know you are just staying cause you pity me."  I said "Dad I am staying because I love you." On that Christmas Eve, my dad, who was severely allergic to shellfish, went out and bought two live lobsters just for me -- among a ton of other treats. He swore the lobsters had been on sale two for five dollars off a truck but i know he went to a fishmonger and paid going rates.  And he got his sister to have us over for dinner so we wouldn't roll around alone in the house without all our other kids. How I loved him for those lobster.  I didn't much care for lobsters, altho of course I can enjoy them once in awhile and of course I ate those, flamboyantly savoring them for dad's sake.
My dad was hard in many ways. His gambling hurt us. He incested me when I was about seven (and, I believe,  but do not know, all his kids). One thing most folks don't know -- and I know this from my dad and Katie's -- that even parents who do things like that love their kids and even after things like that, the kids go right on loving their dads. that's just how kids come, programmed to love and they don't stop loving just cause someone hurts you.  
After 'the incident'  used to beg her dad to come see Katie, even tho she had a guardian ad litem after her assault and the guardian ad litem insisted they see each other in court-supervised settings. Two hours in a boring center with a stranger sitting to supervise is a little visit for a drive from Omaha to Minneapolis and I knew Katie needed her dad so I said I would subvert the guardian ad litem and let him see her and just escort them, keeping my distance so she could see her dad. But he didn't want to see her. Once she was hospitalized -- on dec 22, 23, and 24. Of course I told her father how sick she was. Caller ID was new. I got an unfamliar call number but the message was Frank so I dialed -- he was at a motel near the Mall of America shopping with his girlfriend with his daughter in a hospital, hemmoraging huge gobs of blood the size of baseballs and bigger. She had to get transfusions and my severely OCD kid freaked out cause I had to sign acknowledging that the transfused blood might give her aids. back then they didn't know how to test to be sure there was no aids in the blood. And the pig didn't call her, much less go see her in the hospital. He was christmas shopping an ssee shows with his girlfriend.  I didn't tell her he was in town. I couldn't hurt her.

I didn't tell her that throughout her childhood I used to beg him to come see her and I used to write to her other relatives in his family and offer to pay to fly her for visits. I wrote 'she loves you and needs your love" and they ignored me. I didn't tell her that stuff either cause I didn't want her to be hurt if they turned me down, which they did.
then she gets into an IVY and the whole clan brags about having a relative in the Ivy League, taking credit for her and he told her "Honey, we all tried and tried to see you but your mom wouldn't let us, she cheated you out of having our whole family in our life."  He said "now we can finally have a relationship, she can't stop us."

The fucker. I had begged him for years to see her, call her on Christmas and her birthday.

Once, before the incident, she spent Xmas with him and I shipped all my present to her to Omaha. He told her they were from  him and mommy didn't give him anything.

I hate everybody. Esp. me.

I have scrimped and save to buy other gifts for other friends.  I'll tell those sob stories another day.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

don't surrender your loneliness, Hafiz


Don't surrender your loneliness
so quickly
Let it cut more deep

Let it ferment and season you
As few human
or even divine ingredients can

Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft
My voice
so tender

My need of God
Absolutely
Clear

- Hafiz

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

my night in a VW bus

In the fall of 1972, I spent the fall semester in Guanajuato, Mexico studying with my university. They sent down one Professor, a Spanish professor, who hired a couple local lecturers and a rug maker. Voila, a small satelite campus! The local lecturers were anthropologists and archaeologists.They told us amazing stories of ancient Mexico and right up to when the Spaniards quite viciously conquered the Mexican indios.

The rug maker was a sweet guy who taught each of us how to make one small two foot by three foot rug. I wish I still had that rug. The first half was perfect, each loop perfectly sized, so perfectly a machine could have done it. I used a pencil to make each loop perfect. but it took forever and I wanted to get class over with and get stoned. All I wanted to do was get stoned. So I rushed the rug. I loved the rug because half of it was obsessively perfect and the other half was wild, uneven loops, lazy, quick, rushed loops. I got the rug done in record time and my late afternoons were no longer wasted on rug looping. I was out getting stoned. And my only regret is I got rid of the rug, testament to my pot smoking, errant youth.

We made friends with other Americans who were just passing through, trying to travel all around Mexico in their year off. They saw us students as stodgey, although we had more dope than they did. Young Americans traveling in VW vans as a couple did not make all the Mexican male student friends we two blonde gringas made. My blonde travel pal and I had endless guys followinig us around, all of them hoping to get lucky. My roomie and I had great dope connections. Two blonde American college girls attracted endless packs of admiring Mexican boys who all fanasized that all American college girls had free love sex. In truth,my pal and I were virgins but none of the Mexicans believed us. And all of the Mexicans would score us dope, hoping with each buy that we might have some free love sex with them.  You didn't buy lids in Guanajuato. You bought bricks. The bricks were the size of the much larger house bricks used in adobe homebuilding, bound tightly with metal wire lie a bale of hay back on my uncle's farm in Indiana. Cut open the metal wire and the tightly bound brick burst into a bushel of dope. Our first bushel was the best. Acapulco Gold. It was golden toned and looked like a loose bushel of wide wavy waves of grain, like the golden tops of good wheat at its peak on an Iowa plain.

Acapulco Gold was as good as its reputation, much more powerful than the skunk week sold back home. Plus the altitude in Guanjuato was high. Two hits and we were flying. And we rolled 'em like cigars and smoked one cigar each. Why not? I think we paid $20 for that first kilo of Gold and it was always that cheap or cheaper.


We got to know other Americans, the travelers. These other Americans were a young married couple who ended up breaking up in Guanajuato when the gal slept with a sleazey Mexican womanizer who slept with all the sexually active gringas. So he didn't sleep with me. I was a virgin. He did con me out of my brohter's h.s. football jersey, which was an idem with considerable cachet in Mexico. It had his school'name on it and his number in bulky embroiderered letters. The guy said "You can always get another one" and he was cute so I gave it to him but I knew I could never get another one.  My brother dropped off the team and became the team manager. Managers did not get those cool jerseys. That jersey was super thick, long, warm,cosy and cool. It came below my ass, kept me toasty warm and in Mexico it was very, very cool to be seen in it.  And I just get it away to a guy ally catting with several girls i knew. I was a dope. He was very cute. but he never hit on me.  Maybe that's why I gave him the jersey altho I also remember being disgusted by him because he told each girl he slept with that she was his true love.  I still want that Jersey back.

Before the couple broke up, a few Americans decided we would celebrate American Thanksgving, our first away from home for all of us,, by driving to a nearby town with a steakhouse known for its Argentinian steaks. Huge fat steaks super cheap, by our standards. None of us drank -- we were all too stoned.

The steaks were awesome.

We had intended to drive home the same day but we fell asleep after the steaks and by the time we awoke it was too late to drive on the dark, bad roads.So we agreed to camp under the stars. No one had tents but all had sleeping bags.

I had a bad cold. I was coughing, hacking and wheezing.

The married couple with the van got to sleep in the van which was not exactly warm but at least they weren't on the ground. They whispered to one another and agreed that I was too stick to sleep outside on the gorund so they insisted I sleep in the van. I was shy about intruding into their sex life, which was a big deal to my virgin self.   I knew they had sex in that van most nights but I was very sick and I couldn't resist sleeping indoors. Believe me I wasn't such a virgin that I didnt know they fucked like bunnies in the van. But they insisted I sleep inside, expressing concern I migh develop pneumonia. I was pretty sick. And i didn't really sleep all night cause I hacked all night. So i doubt the couple slept all night either.

As soon as we all got settled in for the night I heard a zipper unzip. I never wanted to beam myself magically out of a space more. I heard that zipper. How could I not hear it. I lay on one side of the van, the woman in the middle, the young husband on the other side. He unzipped her zipper, testing the situation, I suspect, in hindsight. Man, that zipper sounded loud.  It had to have sounded just as loud to each of them as it did to me. And then he put his hand down her pants and fingered her and she moaned.

Oh my gosh, I wanted to escape but I was on the inside. I could not have left the van without making a scene. I steeled myself for a long stretch of sexual play. But they must have come to their senses. I think the gal pushed his hand away. We all knew I could hear it all.

We never said anything.

That zipper was so loud but so was the fingering and the mild moaning before she stopped it.

And I actually believed sleeping in the van seriously helped my health. Really.

I was so sick. It was sick cold out. Everyone not sick was jealous I was in the van but I would have given everything not to sleep in the van.  And sadly there had been room for everyone in the van. It is weird, in hindsight that since the couple lost their sex nest, they didn't let everyone in.

That zipper was so loud. Blue jeans. Levis. Loud zipper.

Great steaks. Happy first thanksgiving abroad.

Z-i-p!  That was in November 1972. I have never heard a louder zipper since then.

I don't want to be alive anymore

I have spent a lot of time thinking about suicide. Is it a sin?  I doubt it. I think the cosmos is too vast to deal with such microscopic detail. One human being is nothing, a speck, meaningless. How could it matter if one human takes their own life?

The only thing that keeps me alive is cultural crap. Everything we think about the way things work is culture and culture is all made up crap. So belief that suicide is a sin of crap, crap based on the idea that some greater being out there matters, and that we each matter.

We don't matter. I don't matter.

I don't wnt to livei in emotinal pain all the time.

I want to say petulant angry crap. I ant to say nobody loves me but that is not true. Some people do love me. Not very many but some. No one who loves me would be disturbed if I take my life. They would be sad when they heard but they would quickly reenter the streams of their lives, go on and forget the brief sadness they felt.

Cause I don't really matter to anyone.

I am doing to try to commit suicide again. I am are of the hesitancy in that statement.  But my desire to die is not hesitant. It's just not that easy to do it since drugs are the waky I try. A gun would likely be better. Buy a gun, stick it in my moth and blow out the back of my head. Pills barf up. Pills take time. The hardest pat with pills is after you take them but you are still alive. What do you do? Knit? Wach tv? Read? It's a wierd waiting.

A gun.  I could use my birthday money for a gun.

Monday, September 09, 2013

marijuana seems to be everywhere

Suddenly it seems like everyone I know but me is smoking dope. And it turns out most of them have been smoking dope all along. And what is the current nomenclature. My kid told me, gosh, fifteen years ago, that no one says 'smoking dope, mom, you are so out of it' and if the phrase was dated in 1997, I trust it is a dated phrase now.

A neighbor the other day casually mentioned he smokes 7 to 9 bowls a day of 'medical marijuana'.  He obviously thought I was about as unhip as a person can be because he explained to me what a bowl is. Duh. I know what a bowl is. I kept wanting to interrupt him and ask him how much dope his bowls hold but he was having so much fun talking down to me that I just let him talk. I think he was proud of his dope smoking. And I think he smugly assumed I really didn't know what a bowl was. Was his glass? metal? did it involve water? I liked water pipes:  they smoothed out the smoke. But you can't beat a joint, esp. fat ones. In Mexico, in my peak marijuana smoking time, I rolled them like fat cigars and smoked the whole thing. I know dope today is more powerful, more carefully bred but even in 1972, Acapulco Gold was powerful, killer dope. Back in college in flyover Wisconsin, no one really believed Acapulco Gold was real. And then suddenly this college kid plopped a brick of golden-toned -- a lot like beautiful golden waves of wheat only marijuana -- on the living room floor and said, "let me get some plastic for the carpet before we cut it open". The memory of how that tightly bound, small bale of gold exploded is one of my favorite memories. Whoosh. And we were kinda greedy about our dope. We shared with the other college kids who were too chicken to buy more than a couple joints of skunk weed but we made them pony up some dough. We would say 'we took the risk" but we didn't. Cute guys who hoped to get laid took risk, not us. We were virgins, btw. The guys dreaming dreams of whore gringas.

And as long as I'm blathering, how's come the Obama Administration has decided to leave Washington and Oregon States alone with their legal marijuana but still is moving to shut down medical marijuana clinics in CA?

I don't want to smoke dope. I never cared for being high, other than for the brief year or so during which I smoked quite a lot of marijuana. I lived in Mexico and our first purchase, split between two college girls, was a whole brick of Acapulco Gold which really was golden tones. It came in tightly bound 'bricks' the size of a heavy-old-old-fashioned building brick, The gold bricker was bound by metal, just like a bale of hay. When we cut the metal, the golden marijuana exploded to about the size of a large laundry bushel. We share some joints, sure. And we tolled them all like fat cigars. And we smoked our way through that first brick in a couple weeks. The brother in the family where we rented rooms got it for us and he took a huge portion as he payment, altho we had also paid him for his service. After that, we bought from some of the Mexican boys who trailed us like dust clouds, all hopingi to get laid with one of the blonde gringas. Those guys did not get greedy. that son in the household stole from us and the creep threatened to rat us out to his folks if we objected to how much he took. like they used in Mexico. I swear, I am finding out almost everyone I know is smoking bowls or joints or something cannibis filled every damn day but me. Maybe that's why it looks like all are having more fun than me.

Every now and then, someone comes along thinking they are obvious much hipper than me. So far, I am the only person I know who smoked nothing but mass quantities of Acapulco Gold for four months, getting so high I couldn't move. Well, I could roll Js and smoke them but otherwise, not move.

All that dope was a lot of fun but when I got done with my international year, which included a detour to the cocaine capital of the world in 1973 -- Colombia -- I never did illegal drugs again.

I don't like being high, on beer, pot, drugs, what have you.

And that reminds me of an old song . . ."too much fun? That's news to me? too much fun? Then there must be . . . a whole lot of things that I never done cause I aint never had too much fun?"

I have never had too much fun. I don't think I have ever had nearly enough fun in my whole life. I admit to some anxiety that sixty is too late but I have not given up, not quite. I sincerely hope to have too much fun very soon.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Mary Cassatt was rich and still it was harder for her to be brilliant cause she was a chick

My mom was a painter. She once did a painting of several sunflowers. She placed actual coffee grounds in the middle of the sunflowers. Don't know how she got the coffeegrounds to stick but they sure looked like real flowers leaping off the canvas. She was proud of it and I proud of her. At the time, I had no idea VanGogh did sunflowers. I knew a lot of his work. My mom took me -- and only me, the only girl child -- -to the Chicago Art Institute once a month my whole childhood so I saw lots of his stuff. The Chicago Art Institute, as you probably know, has a lot of art from Van Gough's time and then Monet's. Do you know why? Because a rich Chicago female painter -- Mary Cassatt. When she returned to Chicago after her paris adventures, she talked her parents into buying all her great French painter friends' art and then it all got donated to the Chicago Art Institute.  It's who you know, eh?  In college, I had a poster on my dorm wall of a Van Gogh, of his bedroom.

Even though it is a print, this bright print is quite a find. No way to know for sure if it accurately represents the original painting.  If art were not ephemeral would it be quite as wonderful?

My best friend's mom's proudest acquisition was when she bought a reproduction of one of Cassatt's paintings. Cassatt was somewhat (mostly) overlooked because, foolish female, she tended to paint women and often, how boring!, women with children. She painted her reality, in other words, a world in which women and children were paramount and men were background.  In her time, female reality had little value so she was not taken as seriously as an artist as a man was. But she was a genius painter, way ahead of the provincial Chicago art world where she began before she flew over to Paris on an umbrella. (I made the umbrella part up, to make myself giggle).

I remember my best friend's mother's pride in that reproduction. I used to sit in her dining room, while Mary was tied up with a chore or something, and stare and stare at it and try to imagine how painting would be different for a woman. It seemed so exotic -- a female artist from Chicago who went all the way to Paris and then painted and knew so many renown painters.

That's the life my mom wanted . . . alas, all she got was no birth control and the only approved way to be sexual was to marry and crank out babies. She hated being a mom, had 8 full term pregnancies and we were all unhappy. My grandparents happily paid for private college -- they shoulda paid for Paris. But, then again, mom dropped out to get married, which really meant to get laid.

In 1953, William INge won the Pulizer for his play 'Picnic', turned into a famous film starring William Holden and Kim Novak. My daughter played the Kim Noavak character,, the female star, Madge, in a college production. I read the play, watched the film, learned everything I could aobut the gay playwright William inge. I was born in 1953.  Watching my daughter play Madge, who could have been my mom -- the prettier girl in a nowhere little town with very few life choices. A pretty girl was suposed to marry well. Madge does not make that choice but each time I saw Katie in the play, I prayed, irrationally, that Madge would make the safe choice and marry the rich man's son and not run off with the hot but deadbeat boy she loved. What do you think Madge chose?

As my heart beat hard as I identified with my daughter as madge, I identified just as hard with my mother as madge.  My mom made the wrong choice:  she chose the safe bet. At least Madge chose love, passion, adventure, and, yes, risk. But choosing safe did not give my mom the life she longed for.

And I went to the play several times, 4 or 5, and by the end, I felt so much empathy for my mom. That played deserved the Pulitzer. The guy had brilliantly captured the very few choices most women, like my mom, had in 1953. In 1953, my mom had one 18 month old, then in August she had me, and in August 1954 she had a third baby. Damn. Damn. Damm.  Choose the hottie who is going to give you a thrill and an adventure, that's what I say now.

But what would I have said in 1953?!!  Look how I ramble.

I was up all night writing to submit something to a writing contest and it seems I can't stop. feel free to delete my long ramble Egil.

an unborn bird works very hard as she begins to peck her way out . . into the world


I've been thinking -- I am so odd -- of the chicken hatching display at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. My dad took his kids there many times every year. It was my brothers' favorite museum and a great way to spend an endless rainy or cold Saturday. My favorite museum was the Chicago Art Institute -- girl stuff -- so mom took me there at least once a month, rarely missing. I bet dad got us to the science museum nearly that often. My parents thought we were really lucky to live in a city with such great museums. I define all planetariums, aquariums, science museums, natural history museums and art museums by the ones I grew up with in Chicago. Chicago hosted a World Fair -- whatever happened to those, eh?!! and the city built a jeweled necklace of museums on its waterfront to show itself off to the world. But, as I often do, I digress. . .

The chicks hatching always fascinate me. I think of birds breaking out of their shells often because I once read that a tiny, yet unborn, baby bird uses more force in the first moments it begins to peck its way out of its shell than it will ever use again in its lifetime.

I am steadily feeling myself pecking my way out of an aspect of my being, and in the instant when I start to move, to peck myself out of a self that no longer serves me, it does take great power, so much power that it hurts. And I cry a lot. And grieve what I am shedding.

Happy and sad. All birth is like that, I think: happy and sad. The beginning of something is the end of something else?