Sunday, February 28, 2016

unbreak my heart: nope

I had a series of heart attacks in 1997-98. I did not know I was having heart attacks when I had them. I would feel great pressure in my chest, but not really pain. Then the pressure would go away when I vomited. Once I vomited, I felt perfectly fine.

In those days, I almost never saw doctors. I had insurance to cover doctor visits but I neglected my self care. In the case of those heart attacks, however, I truly had no idea the experience was serious. I thought it was indigestion.

Somehow, though, a doctor became aware of what had been going on and referred me to a cardiologist, who fitted me with a heart monitor for 30 days. At the end, my cardiologist said "Well, you definitely had some heart attacks but it's too late to know exactly what happened."

I was much more obese back then than I am now. I imagine my weight had something to do with those heart episodes.

I have had good heart health since. . . but. . . . as part of my ongoing health care, while doing a routine heart test for a routine annual check up, rumblings of those long ago heart attacks showed up on the test. So more elaborate tests were found.  I don't remember the name of any of these tests.

when I went to the more specific test to see if I had heart episodes, the technologist doing the test was helpful and friendly. She pointed to the lines on the machine that showed my heart beating, but pointed specifically to the kinky lines that indicated that at some time in the past, I had had some serious heart 'episodes'.

Emotional broken hearts seem similar to me. If there were an echogram or cardiogram or whatever to see if my heart has been emotionally broken, I'd want to take that test regularly, although what is the point? Such a test would show, just like my medical tests to look at any possible history of 'heart episodes, would show kinky lines of heart brokenness. And such tests would not show that such lines had healed.

I will never heal from the loss of my daughter.

And I will not recover, ever, from other forms of emotional broken heartedness.

My health, physically, is okay but my broken heart debilitates me. Not the heart attack brokenness. The emotional breaks.

I can be happy again, although I don't really expect I ever will be happy again.  I am thinking very seriously of ending my life. Between the darkness overtaking the world, like the Deatheaters of Harry Potter, the world does not seem to be a good place for someone as heart broken as me. All appears dark and hopeless to me.

I wish I could unbreak my heart. I wish I could just believe it were possible. But I do not.

many people asleep

I have often said that although men are awake, they actually sleep through the most important concerns in life. And I can give you the not very heartening assurance that anyone who goes through life with alert consciousness to-day finds numbers and numbers of human beings who are really asleep. They let events happen without taking the slightest interest in them, without troubling about them or associating themselves with these happenings in any way. Great world-events often pass men by just as something that is taking place in the city passes a sleeper by … although people are apparently awake.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 182 – The Work of the Angels In Man’s Astral Body – Zurich, 9th October, 1918
Translated by D. S. Osmond with the help of Owen Barfield

Saturday, February 27, 2016

the magic earrings live on

Long ago, when my now 33 year old daughter was four or five, my mom visited us. Like all good mom/grandmas with lots of money, she took us shopping.

I usually focussed on having my mom buy things for Rosie. Most single mothers, and I was a single mother for all but the first 18 months of Rosie's minority, have less cash than two-parent households. My mom was great understanding that I was always short.

I imagine mom would have bought me clothes on our shopping trips but I focussed on Rosie's needs.

Once, however, mom bought me a pair of Swaroski crystal teardrop earrings. The crystal is treated to reflect all the colors of the rainbow. Simple, relatively inexpensive for costume jewely. And maybe, just maybe, she bought them to facilitate Rosie giving me a gift.

My memory on why mom made the crystal tear drop earrings is fuzzy.

They are magic earrings. Many times I have lost one, sometimes for months at a stretch. And then the lost earring always reappears. 

Once, when I still lived in Mountain View, a swimming friend, Kay, and I went out to lunch together after swimming, showering, hair drying, dressing. Kay was interviewing a new, new to her, realtor. Kay was househunting, with a budget of up to one million dollars. In 2005, you could buy lots of very nice homes for a million bucks in Palo Alto, Los Altos and Mountain View, although, and this surprised both Kay and I, it was a lot harder to find bargain one million dollar homes in MV than in any surrounding suburbs.

Kay wanted to be able to go on swimming in the MV pool. She didn't like any of the houses we looked at, and I went with her on just about all her househunting shopping trips. She looked hard in Palo Alto becaduse for a long time, she was determined to only buy a new house. There are not many new houses on the Peninsula and the most, which was not all that many, were in Palo Ato.

Kay is from Thailand. She was deeply superstitious about buying a 'used' house. She said she could never know for sure if someone had died in a house and she did not want a dead person's energy in any house she lived in.

Eh. Kay ended up buying a used house in Palo Alto. She shopped more than anyone I have ever known. I eventually met her daughter, a Brown grad, US citizen because Kay came to USA to have her first child so that child could enchor the future citizenship quests of the whole family. Kay is now an American citizen, sponsored by her anchor baby. Once born in America, that daughter grew up in Thailand, where Kay and her ex husband became multimillionaires running a chain of lumberyards.  One kid went to Brown, one to London School of Economics and one to STanford.

Kay's baby went to STanford and she had followed her baby to the peninsula. On her first day headed to Stanford, she got off at the wrong freeway stop, not the one closest to Stanford and saw a model townhome for sale. Kay pulled in with her rental car and bought the model home, with the proviso that all the rented model home furniture come with it. After all, Kay had no furniture in America.

Her daughter worked for an investment bank, her fluency in Chinese being a powerful skill, plus her Brown degree. That daughter got a $350K bonus in 2008! So I guess she was doing all right. The daughter was living in Hong Kong when I swam with Kay but assumed she would eventually live in the US and decided she wanted to own a house for the mortgage income tax deduction.  That chick must have been making some very big bucks if, as an American living and working abroad, she wouldn't have had to pay incoe taxes on a fairly large chunk of foreign income. I guess a $350K bonus took her over the top and she needed a deduction.

Kay would buy a more expensive home, although the townhome was very, very nice. As she househunted interminably, and I had fun keeping her company because it was the only way I was ever going to see multiple expensive hoes in Palo Alto, Los Altos, etc. As she shopped, Kay decided lot size was more important than buying a used house. She ended up buying a very large lot with a decent sized house with 3 bedrooms on a corner in Los Altos. Then she did a gut rehab of most of the house, mostly to give it a state of the art and very expensive kitchen. The whole house revolved around that spectacular kitchen. And the back yard was huge, large enough to plop down a couple more houses. Such lots are very rare anywhere in N. Cali except in the most expensive places.

And, and this was huge to Kay, since Los Altos had no public pool, Los Altos had an agreement with MV that allowed Los Altos residents to use the MV pool at MV resident rates. As a senior, it cost very little to swim in MV and Kay may have been rich but she was cheap. She cheated on getting the senior rate a few eyars early because the young lifeguards selling the swim tickets didn't know how old she looked. Black don't crack. Maybe Asians don't show their age as much as whites. Or maybe one race doesn't recognize the signs of aging in other races. All the young lifeguards in MV were white and sold Kay the very cheap senior rate before she was old enough.

How I run on.

Kay and I had lunch with a new realtor. Kay had first used the son of her bank officer, the bank officer who had preapproved her for a million dollar mortgage, which meant Kay could make offers as she househunted with no delay for mortgage processing. Kay, unfamiliar with American culture, thought she had to use the loan officer's son to keep the mortgage guarantee and we had gone out with the kid once. Just once.

Five minutes into that outing and I was signaling to kay behind the kid's back that she could do better. If Kay bought a million dollar house, the kid was going to make a lot of money, at least fifty grand but he was clueless. And lazy. He seemed to think his commission was a sure thing, easy money. and maybe life works that way for some lucky white boys but this kid was dumb. And cheap. Kay trusted my judgment because of my law degree. Also, I once was a bona fide realtor. And once a mortgage banker. But mostly, I had her reject that kid after assuring her that now that she had the mortgage guarantee, she would not lose it if she didnt use the loan officer's son. Or nephew, whoever that dope was. The kid complained about spending gas to drive us around, when he had insisted on driving us. You don't brumble about spending ten or twenty bucks on gas when you have a sure-thing buyer with a preapproved mortgage. Heck, you buy her lunch along with the gas.

So Kay had asked around and we had lunch with a mature, forty-something, African American British realtor. She was well mannered, smart and clearly knew the real estate business. She'd been selling hosues on the Peninsula for twenty years and her husband was a contractor, who, I believe, got the job to gut rehab Kay's new home.

Long story short:  I had both my earrings on when we arrived for lunch with that realtor. Half way thorugh lunch, I realized one earring was missing. I stood up and shook to shake off the earrings. Kay and the realtor looked, even on their hands and knees on the floor.  I went through my swim bag microscopically. No earring.

then, about six months later, it turned up on a book shelf in my apartment.

A magic earring.

A couple weeks ago, and not for the first time since I moved to Berkeley, I lost one of my tear drop crystal earrings again. This time, I didn't even look for it, nor did I fret. I reminded myself it was one of my magic earrings and it would turn up.

And it did. Today.

Magic earrings. Lovely.

another 'I hate Catholic priests' tale

Around the year 2002, maybe 2003, my baby brother bought a house in Berwyn. Our mom had been living with him in his previous, much bigger house. When Dave and his longtime life partner broke up, they sold the house to split the equity, which was not entirely fair because my mom had bought that house, given them the downstroke, a huge downstroke. Tom, Dave's now departed ex who became his ex before he died, unfortunately (so after helping Tom build up his estate, Dave got zippity do dah and Tom's heirs got equity my mom's assets had built up for Tom.

Life is often unfair, eh?

So Dave downsizes and, of course, takes mom with him.

Mom was isolated. Dave worked all day. And Dave parties a lot. Mom had no friends in the new neighborhood, not that our mom was every much of a social butterfly. she usually had at least a couple friends. But when Dave moved her to Berwyn, just as memory issues set in and she lost a meaningful capacity to form bonds, she was suddenly living alone almost all the time. Between work and dating, because Dave vigorously enjoyed his new found freedom for unlimited zipless fucks, our mom spent virtually all her life alone in the house, sometimes venturing out into the yard.

The poor thing regularly locked herself out of the house, by mistake. Then she'd get the young housewife next door to shimmy into the basement through an unlocked window and let mom in. Thank goddess that neighbor let her in, eh? Otherwise mom would have been adrift all day, no phone, her memory to addlepated to remember she had two other sons, multiple grandchildren, friends, and, push comes to shove, police and firemen to help her. The neighbor's help helped a lot.

Two houses away from where Mom and Dave lived, there was a YMCA building that was used for a senior day care center. One did not have to be enrolled full time either. One could just drop in, like most senior centers. We tried, as hard as I could 'try' from California or my sister from Kuwait, to get mom to check out that senior center. When we visited her in person, we'd go over there with her.

The center was not quite a day care center. It was a senior center to give seniors a space for socializing, with various classes.

Dave knew, and so did I, that by the time he had moved her to Berwyn, mom's memory was pretty far gone. She couldn't find her two two doors down to that senior center, much less make friends.

That unhappy situation for my mother continued for several years. My sister, by then, had moved back to thet states (altho she now lives in Shanghai!) and settled into Urbana, IL to get her PhD, which she got a couple years ago and left the country. by then, our mother had died.

One day, sis told bro that she was taking mom down to Urbana for a weekend. Then sis dropped mom off at a nursing home in Urbana, asked them to evaluate mom and mom was found to have such serious memory issues that she could no longer be alone. Mom had to have one of her children take legal responsibility for mom or else the court would appoint a guardian ad litem. Sweet sis would not accept responsibility. I tried to explain to sis and another brother that being legally responsible did not put my sister at any risk financially. It was about making decisions. The court wouldn't accept Dave to be mom's power of attorney because he had not been giving her all of her multitude of prescribed meds. I actually supported the choice not to give her the shitload of meds she was prescribed. But I was in CA and my mom and siblings duked out how mom would spend her final years in an arena in which I had no voice. And I was grateful.

But it was wicked hard on Dave. One day he lived with his mother, as he had for fiffteen years ore more and one day she was gone. If she had been put in a nursing home near where Dave was, he would have visited her once a week for the rst of her life. He didn't own a car so he could not drive to Urbana.

Once our mom was in the nursing home system as a ward of the state with an attorney makig decisions, mom got shuffled around to several nursing homes, each one further from Chicagoland than the last. She died in a nursing home that was a four-hour drive each way for Dave to visit. Sometimes he could get a boyfriend to drive him, make a day of it. And every time Dave visited her, which, dear fellow, he doggedly did as often as he could which was not a lot but it was something, the nursing home always said Dave was the only visitor our mom ever had.

Now I lived in CA and did not have airfare to fly to Chicago to see a mother who could no longer recognize me. And I had my own tenderness about Chicago, which is where Rosie had settled after college, after doing the NYC tour many college grads do. Chicago used to feel like an endless wound that I had to avoid.

So bitch sissy moved mom downstate. Initially mom lived a few blocks from sissy and even then, sissy, her husband and grandchildren, never visited our mother once. Not once.

I think sissy had kidnapped mom under the mistaken belief mom had assets sis could use. Oh, sis would have fed and clothed mom but then, I believe, she was imagining a little boost in income. Sis' family had some tight years when she was in grad school and her "artist" French husband was unemployed.

Families. What got me started? Catholic priests.

Before the depth of mom's dementia had fully bloomed, I went to the Catholic Church just a block or two from Dave's house in Berwyn.  I went to a mass with my mom.

I scorn the Catholic Church but my mom remained a devout Catholic always. True, she did divorce and remarry, which is technically a sin but, geez, go into any Catholic church for any Sunday mass and throw a ball at the congragation and it will bounce on at least several divorced and remarried Catholics who did not, by the way, seek annulments from Rome.

So I had my wandering mom with me after going to one mass with her. She was happy to be in a Catholic Church. They almost all have the same vibe, ya know? She felt that vibe. Then I waited to talk to a priest. One bombastic blowhard priest saw me, saw I was waiting to talk to him and he deliberately kept me waiting, turning repeatedly to talk to others that came up to him after i had. I suppose they were parishioners so he knew them, but geez, don't churches welcome newcomers, new potential, um parishioners?

That priest was a dick before I said more than hello, father, I'd like to talk to you.

Then I explained that my mother was a lifelong devout Catholic, that I lived in CA and although mom lived with my brother, he worked on /sundays and did not have a car anyway. Could the parish find a parishioner/neighbor to take my mom to church?

Now this priest knew bupkiss about any memory loss issues with my mom. I had escorted her out to the car because standing for long stretches bothered her. In fact, I had finally interrupted that pompous gas bag and said "Father, I need to talk to you and my mom is elderly and waiting, I only need a minute." Finally, the twat talked. Well, listened. Then he told me the parish did not want to be liable for any possible harm to my mother.

"For real?" I exclaimed. "Are you seriously telling me, and I was raised Catholic, going to a Catholic school just like the one this parish has so I know how Catholic parishes work, I know you have an Alter Guild Society that does just the kind of thing I am asking for. You have absolutely no foundation for refusing my mom. You've never spoken to her."

He said to call the parish, maybe someone could help my mom get to Sunday mass, which would have meant a very great deal to my mom. She may have been slipping but she was not yet slipped out of reality. And she loved the Catholic Church and all of its tenets.

I never called the parish. That gasbag had reminded me that the Church had nothing to offer my mom. I suspected the priest didn't want to help my mom get to church because he, rightly, suspected that an old lady living with her son was not likely to put a lot of money into the collection basket.

That's the thing. My mom would have given that church money. Many's the time when we were growing up, when maybe dad had gambled his paycheck on the  ponies (which my dear old dad loved to do and his behavior caused much heartache for my mom), mom still paid into the Sunday offering. The parish I grew up in required every household to meet with a church staffer, disclose tax returns and settle on what each household would pay. My mom filled up the weekly offering envelopes, which were coded to each household, before she spent dime one on her family. So my mom might have had a hungry baby or two but the church got those filled envelopes (unless gamgling dad thought to steal those dollars for his beloved pass time, betting on horses).

Even if mom had never given dime one to that Berwyn parish, a real Church, a Church built on Christ's perfectly wonderful message to love, would have welcomed her. And found her a god damned ride.

I told that scummy priest that I was a lawyer and I saw no way the church would be liable if a parishioner, in their personal capacity, decided to make a Christ-like choice and be kind to an old lady.  He wasn't concerned about liability. He was just an asshole, as most priests in my childhood had been, although in my childhood, I worshipped all priests as above mere mortals like purely innocent little girls such as I had been.

his will unbroken: no fucking way would he give in

My mom pressured me into declaring myself to be dedicated to becoming a nun.  My luck turned, to my happy surprise, when my aunt the nun saved me. My mom moved on to my Irish Twin, my brother Joe, ten months younger than me.

Mom did more than pressure Joe. She enrolled him in a seminary boarding school for seventh grade, age 12, without consulting him Training to become a priest at age 12, just imagine.  Although ballsier than me, Joe also felt her pressure and agreed to spend half of his seventh grade – age 12 – at a residential seminary for future priests.

A priest brought Joe home, unannounced one Sunday afternoon, after several weeks  before the end of the semester and solemnly asked to speak to our parents.

Joe and I eavesdropped.

“You son does not have a vocation. He cannot return to our seminary.”

At that seminary, all the boys, twelve years olds and up, had to get up, knee and pray on their knees at 5 a.m. Knee and pray for an hour before breakfast. Joe would not do it. And when the priests yelled at him, my ballsy awesome brother joe would say “There is no fucking way I am going to get up at 5 a.m., hungry, and pray on my knees for an hour before breakfast. NO fucking way.”

The priests had tried many things to break Joe. They made him knee before the whole school all day, with a piece of wood running across his arms and shoulders, made him hold up that wood, like a piece of the cross. Sometimes he had to kneel while holding up that board. And he always endured his punishment in front of the school as everyone else ate breakfast. They actually would withhold breakfast from Joe. They made him do it every day for weeks and occasionally they would ask Joe is he was ready to knee and pray at 5 a.m.

His answer was always the same: no fucking way. Once, that priest, told our parents, Joe had said “I’ll fucking starve to death before I get up at five fucking o’clock in the morning and pray while hungry. No fucking way.”

Mom gave up on giving any of her children to god.  I still wish I had had joe’s balls when I was 12. 

And Joe proudly bragged about how he had stood up to those seminary priests, who were expert at breaking boys. My mom forbid him to tell anyone why he had left the seminary but, geez, if a bunch of tough priests had failed to break Joe, our mom was clueless if she thought she could order him to do anything. He was proud to be unbroken, unbowed. I was proud too.

Actually, the only way my mom could ever get Joe to do anything was to pay him. Joe loved money. He would painstakingly weed every single weed of our front lawn, which had more weeds than grass, if mom paid him a penny per weed.  He knelt for those pennies.

I love recalling his refusal to bend to those priests, who are all a bunch of cunts of one kind of another.

Friday, February 26, 2016

to bloom

I'll be good

I am not actually crying as I write this but, emotionally and energetically, I am sobbing the way a young child sobs as they talk after having a hard cry.  My being is atremble, my breathing uneven and silent sobs are rending my being.

I am very unhappy.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

your longings are lanterns on your path

I like this line:   your longings are lantern on your path.

"know thyself"
Do you know how beautiful you truly are? (No, I do not.)
Do you know how deep your courage runs? (Yes, this I know quite well.)
Do you know you are always loved, no matter what?(No.Intellectually I know,energically, not know)
Do your know your body is a sacred Temple of Wisdom? (The nuns taught me this! I believe it.)
Do you know your sexuality is wild and innocent? (I like this but do not know it)
Do you know your womb holds the power of all creation? (Yes I know)
Do you know your longings are magical lanterns on your path?
Do you know your fears and pains are places calling for love? (yes, this I know)
Do you know your precious heart opens in vulnerabililty?  (this I know quite well!)
Do you know you belong here on earth? (No, I am not sure I do, long to check out.)
Do you know everything can be healed, and is being healed?  (No, this I do not know, not for me.)
Do you know you are love? (Yes, I know.)

crunchy v. smooth nut butter

Like many American parents, I fed my daughter some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. My favorite peanut butter sandwich is peanut butter with banana slices. I don't remember if I ever served her that.  I don't recall, but my memory could be faulty, feeding her PB&J a lot but I always had peanut butter on hand.

I packed her lunch for her child care day the year before kindergarden, again in kindergarden. She did not like to get the school lunches when she still went to a public school with school lunches. 

Kids compared lunches. And many items a parent can tuck into their child's lunch have currency in the lunch swap business.  I used to often tuck in packaged strips of fruit leather, first the crappy kind with sugar but eventually our fruit strips were nothing but pure fruit. I knew Rosie bartered away most of those fruit strips because she told me so. She complained when I switched to the no-sugar, all fruit ones because they had lower value on the swap market.

I don't recall her telling me what she got in those trades. I would have just packed whatever it was she was hoping to get if she had asked. I don't think what she got mattered to her as much as having something that was desired by other kids. It was the act of swapping lunch treats that mattered, not the treats. Not so much.

As time passed, she and other children talked about lunch. And, apparently, the children preferred plain peanut butter to crunchy. If the preference, the popular choice, was plain, then a crunchy peanut butter sandwich had no value.

I was just fine with my daughter being unable to swap her crunchy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on carefully chosen, whole grain, nutritious bread. I wanted her to eat the sandwich.

Again, and I could be wrong, I think the real concern was having things in her lunch box that other kids were willing to trade for.

One day, she asked me to stop giving her crunchy peanut butter. I explained that I had once read that one of the top sources for kid's choking on food was smooth peanut butter, which could get stuck in a child's throat and stop breathing briefly, sometimes long enough to harm or even cause the death of the child.

The article also said to slice hot dogs in half because the average hotdog bite could lodge in a child's throat. For a few years, I had sliced her hot dogs so she wouldn't choke, but then i coached her, extracting her promise that she would chew chew chew.

She brought up her preference for plain peanut butter a few times, with me always holding my ground. Until one day, when she was five or six, she started crying when, once again, I said I couldn't bring myself to buy plain peanut butter.

I don't think I told her, and this is my truth, that I prefer crunchy. She and I shared our household peanut butter. Maybe I should have just told her I like crunchy and don't I get to have some food in the house that matches my taste?

The last time, when I finally gave in and switched to plain, after I repeated yet again my anxiety about choking hazards from smooth nut butter, she was crying, unhappy and lamented "But mom, I am old enough to eat creamy peanut butter. I am old enough now."

To which I responded "I am not old enough, yet, honey, to buy plain peanut butter."

I may have never given her plain peanut butter. I really do prefer crunchy nut butters.

Nowadays, I eat no peanut butter. I eat almond butter. In Rainbow Foods earlier this week, I bought a jar of raw, organic almond butter. First I put the crunchy almond butter of my favorite brand into my shopping cart. As I began to walk away, however, I saw that the sixteen ounce jar of crunchy cost $19.95 and the smooth almond butte was only $13.35. So, for what I believe might be the first time in my whole sixty two years and counting, I bought the smooth.

So what does this price differential mean? It is not more expensive to make crunchy. Is crunchy more costly because it has greater demand or because it has less demand?

I quickly surveyed several brands of raw almond butter. There may have been three different brands. They all had the crunchy priced higher than the smooth.

Living with another one of life's mysteries. Why more for the crunch?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

You were alive during the Vietnam War?

When my daughter was in high school, in an American history class, she studied the Vietnam War. She talked to me, some, about what she was studying. By h.s. she didn't keep me way in the loop but I usually had a general understanding of what she was studying. She might have told me what she was studying inadvertently by simply recounting some social interactions in her day.

But she was interested in the Vietnam War and actually brought it up with me, reciting some facts she had just learned in school.

I responded by extemporaneously sharing with her some of my memories of the Vietnam War. I do not remember, now, what I told her, or what aspect of the Vietnam War I discussed. Not precisely. I think I talked to her about knowing college guys that had been to Vietnam or guys who had been drafted and only gone to college to avoid Nam. I described the night in my freshman year in college when all the guys my age were subject to a lottery. Guys with low numbers were going toi be drafted and being in school no longer spared them from war. This shift was just. It was unjust to let kids who could afford to go to college avoid serving and make only poor guys go.

She listened attentively. Her listening to me attentively slowly waned during her two years in high school. She left high school to start college, on a scholarship, at age sixteen. I don't think she ever appreciated what a huge sacrifice that was for me, realized that by letting her go to college away from home two years early, I was giving up two years with my only child. If I had known she was going to disown me, I would not have given up those two years. And, low, in the fourteen+ years since she left me, I have painfully reviewed the way I just gav away two years with my only child.

Anyway, when I said a few things about the Vietnam War, she said, rapt by whatever I said, "You mean you were alive during the Vietnam War?"

I was surprised she had not done the math, not fully realized I was, indeed, alive. Not onlyw as I alive, but I participated in anti-war marches, of course.

Then I told her about the fall of Saigon.

The fall of Saigon, in April 1975, came up today in my writers' group, triggering my memory of Rosie appreciating me for some moments in 1995 or 1996.

In 1974, virtually no students at my college had televisions in their dorms and ery few students at my university lived off campus.  When Richard Nixon resigned, in 1974, college kids packed into the student union to watch the one television in the union. There were also one television per dorm but those tv rooms were tiny. Most students wanted to be around others at such a solemn time. It seemed ominous to watch the president of the United States resign and it felt good to be surrounded by friends to watch it.

When the whole world was able to watch Saigon fall on television, the crowd in that student union was even greater. The students were all deeply silent and we all stood to watch, even though the student union had lots of sofas and chairs.  Now I am recalling some of the images, of people with their children crowding to get on planes and choppers to get airlifted outbefore Nam completely fell. We listened to tv announcers talk about how Vietnamese who had supported the US were the ones getting out, which, gulp, meant some didn't get out that wanted to.

And we all know that Kissinger set up the fall of that war so that Cambodia would fall into the hands of the brutal Khmer Rouge who slaughtered over three million Cambodians. I don't think I talked to Rosie about Cambodia.

I didn't impress her much by the time she was in high school. And it seems somewhat sad  that it was only the fact that I was alive during the Vietnam War that impressed her. But at least she paid attention to me, listened to me, placed some value on what I had to say.

She sure doesn't place any value in me now.

draft halloween blizzard, sled, 12 pack of diet soda

If I were going to get a book length manuscript published, I think my best, most prolicate, work is about me. So memoir. How to plot that out?

I have been thinking of doing something a little different. Publishing a bunch of memoir pieces but without a narrative thread. Is such a thing doable? All things are possible but, realistically, would any publisher publish a book that had my old man matha fucking, my "I am going to bring you down, Father" in the same book? Or 'I'll be good" and 'my pants fell down in a food store'.

favorite story:  after the 1992 Halloween blizzard in Minneapolis, when 36 inches of snow fell in one blizzard and kids trick or treated in that blizzard singing christmas carols, I was in between homes and Rosie and I were staying with Joni and Cary.  I shoveled a path from the street to their drive way so I could pull my car off the street for the snow plows. And then Rosie and I decided to walk the several blocks to a small cluster of shops nearby, mostly just to get out. We were all feeling cooped up and Joni and esp. Cary were not used to little girls all day long. And Rosie was not used to being cooped up.

I bought that sled, which thrilled Rosie. And I hauled her home in it, easy to do with all that snow. Walking to the shops had been arduous. Walking in large mounds of snow, because snow drifts a lot higher in places than the total snowfall measurement, had been exhausting. She thought I bought the sled to pull her home and give her a toy to use in the snow.

We had gone into the hardware store because we had trekked in and out of all the shops, for something to do. All shops were packed because everyone was getting out, waiting for the city to plow streets so folks could resume normal lives. NO one could drive for a couple days, which is unusual in Mpls. Usually one can get driving soon after a snow fall ends, the plows are out before the snow stops. But this wallop of a storm paralyzed even winter-adept Minneapolis for a couple days.

So we went through the hardware store single file. Virtually anything useful for winter was sold out so when we got to the back of that hardware store and I saw one, last purple sled, large eough for three children, I grabbed it. Rosie squealed in delight. And I was happy to pull her home.

But I bought that sled beause I was a diet soda junkie in those days and I wanted the sled to haul home a twelve pack of diet coke.

I also bought packages of frozen Byerly's wild rice soup, which is awesomely delicious. For reasons I no longer recall, I bought a package, one serving, of that wild rice soup for JOni, me and Rosie but I chose something else for Cary.  Maybe it was the ham in it. She was fussier than Joni.  Something about that soup lead me to believe JOni wouldn't like it.

I bought a few other things, all seemingly heavenly treats becaduse it had taken just about a whole day to get to those shops and return home. When I upacked the soup, with JOni, Rosie and Cary watching me pull out each treat, when I said I had not gotten wild rice for Cary, she was crestfallen. When I tried to offer her my wild rice soup, she wouldn't take it, wouldn't admit she was hurt but she was.  I wanted to understand my blunder but she wasn't talking.

I had been scheduled to move that Nov 1st into my next home, my things in storage. The moving company had called early in the day and informed me that I would be their very last move, and probably not for a few days. With my things being in storage, instead of an apartment underpressure to be empty so the next tenant could move in, my things could wait. Sounded reasonable.

The move delay was understandable but a stress on us all. Joni and Cary had been gracioius hosts. We had shared dinner most days, taking turn cooking and cleaning up, but we had worn out our welcome. It was me, but also a 9 year old child is a lot noisier than a house with two forty-somethig lesbians who have never had kids. It was harder on Cary than Joni who was, after all, a child psychologist.

are you equipped to handle the extraordinary?

gratefulness and reverence

"Gratitude is the vessel that we lift to the Gods that they may fill it with their wonder-gifts. If in all earnestness we foster the feeling of thankfulness, then gratitude, living devotion, must be there to the invisible spiritual givers of life; and it is the most beautiful way to be led from one's personality to the supersensible if this guidance goes through gratitude. Gratitude ultimately brings us to veneration and love of the life-bestowing spirit of man. It gives birth to love, and love makes the heart open for the spirit-powers pervading life. If after every meditation we arouse in ourselves the feeling of gratefulness and reverence--a feeling that we can call a mood of prayer--and be aware in what grace we are taking part, we shall realize that we are on the right path for spiritual worlds to approach us."

--Rudolf Steiner, Guidance in Esoteric Training

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


I wish I could emerge into my fuller, more real self. I love this image.

I am stuck.
Stuck stuck stuck.

embrace who you are, yeah, right

I agree with the thoughts expressed here but I find it easy to say "embrace who you are' than to actually do it.  I feel painted into a corner, with heavily oil-based paint that is never going to dry. In other words, I feel deeply isolated and cut off, unable to follow the pull I feel my life is calling me to. Everything costs money that I don't have.  It costs money to socialize. And after not being able to afford any new clothes for at least ten years, it is hard to show up appearing middle class. I look shabby and one's appearance limits one in social settings. Being unable to join friends for outings that include spending money is isolating. Not having money to take classes to build my skill set is isolating.

Embrace who I am, what, in an empty apartment with no one to see or know me?!

reminded of time I lived in a battered women's shelter

This reminds me of the month I lived in a battered women's shelter while awaiting my temporary divorce hearing, at which the judge ordered my husband, who had changed the locks on our jointly owned home and refused to let me in to get baby clothes even. The residents had to take turns cooking meals for all the other residents, which was abused moms and children trying to figure out their next steps under the pressure of the limit of just one month in the shelter. I was lucky. I was upper middle class, only temporary cut off from my assets when my now-ex canceled all credit cards, closed our joint bank account with the bank going along with that illegal act, and his bro was our investment broker and when I tried to access some of MY money in that brokerage firm, he just wouldn't let me -- also illegal but 35 years ago, such discrimination against women was so routine that few people grokked that it was, um, illegal to deny a person their own legal assets.

Anyway, I cooked a lot, largely because as the oldest girl in a family of 8, I was used to cooking large quantities and most of the women either were not much as cooks or too stressed to plan meals.

The shelter would give the cook a list of what food was available for her assigned meal and then the cook could make whatever she wanted. One time, my food list included hamburger so I proposed having hamburgers. The person in charge of doling out food told me hamburgers were too expensive, they used up more hamburger per person than the shelter could afford.

The shelter had endless supply of flour and vegies so I made hamburger pizza. After that great pizza, all the women begged that I do all the cooking. I was happy to oblige. Every resident had to do a chore daily and I preferred cooking to cleaning toilets. Plus it was fun to do and fun to be praised. We had hamburger pizza once a week, each time hamburger popped up on our food list.

A couple years after I left the shelter as a resident, but had continued at its weekly aftercare support group for support during my custody hell, I somehow came into possession of a watch, a free male watch. Acting on instinct, on the evening of Christmas Eve, I went to the shelter, where alumni were always welcome to enter (the location was kept as secretive as possible), I knocked on the door, a woman who knew me for she was a social worker when I had lived there with my baby and thanked me profusely. She said a little boy had just come into the shelter, that they had small gifts for all the children but that boy and now the boy would receive that cheap watch. A little thing but anyone whose life path leads them to a battered women's shelter, much less on Christmas Eve, is traumatized.

I wonder, sometimes, if battered women shelters still exist. Back when I benefited from one, it was kinda new in this country for anyone to acknowledge spousal abuse was an actual thing.

our task, as part of a whole

A human being is part of a whole,
called by us the 'Universe',
a part limited in time and space.
He experiences himself, his thoughts
and feelings, as something separated
frm the rest - a kind of optical delusion
of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison for us,
restricting us to our personal desires and
to affection for a few persons nearest us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison
by widening our circles of compassion
to embrace all living creatures
and the whole of nature in its beauty.
~~ Albert Einstein

my pants fell down in a food store

When my daughter was in the second grade, her class was asked to write in their writing notebooks daily. They would be given a prompt. The children had to write at least two complete sentences, which is a steep goal for a child who is still writing in block letters, not knowing how to spell many words.

Rosie never wrote more than two sentences but she also never failed to write two complete sentences.

My favorite memory of those writing assignments was when she was asked to write about her most embarassing moment, as of age 7.

She wrote "My most embarrassing moment was in a food store. My pants fell down."

All the kids tended to echo the writing prompt in their first sentence. The word prompt was written on the blackboard so they could all copy down big words like embarrassing.

Why do I love Rosie's two line story about her shame in a food store?

When she showed me her writing notebook, I remembered the moment her pants had fallen down when she was three or four, in the Byerly's in St. Louis Park. At least I think it was SLP. It was the biggest Byerly's at the time, a fancy new store. The main floor of the store was filled with straight aisles, up and down. All along the outer perimeter there were little turn outs that focussed on one kind of food. There was a dairy turn out, a wine turn out, a coffee and tea turn out.  These 'U' shaped bulb-outs from the main store had displays in the middle of the "U" and then all around the perimeter of each 'U'. In the back of the "U", if no other shoppers were present, no one could see any shopper in the "U".

Rosie had been in the back of the dairy "U" when her pants suddenly fell down around her ankles. I happened to see it and, just about as fast as the pants had fallen, I pulled them upt. No one saw her but me. She did not voice any embarrassment at the time.

When she wrote about that moment a few years later and I read it in her writing notebook, I remarked on it, telling her I had been unaware she was embarrassed. She must have felt her shame keenly if she remembered it years later.

When I brought up her two-line story about her pants falling down in a food store, she laughed and said "I had to write 'food store' because I couldn't remember how to spell grocery."

I love that very short story. I feel empathy for my very little girl feeling embarrassed in a moment when no one saw her vulnerable but me. And I love, so very much, her intelligence in writing 'food store' because she couldn't remember how to spell grocery.

I had known since she was an infant that she was very smart. Heck, a pediatrician had told me when she was only a year or so old that I had a genius on my hands and I should be prepared to send her to a school for gifted kids. But she, personally, demonstrated her intelligence when she wrote 'food store'.

I love her. I miss her.

Monday, February 22, 2016

a vast, all-encompassing quality

“Love can have this vast, all-encompassing quality. It can be allowed to spread until it permeates the very core of our relationships. Yet often, instead of giving love room to expand, we box it in with our expectations. Expectations make our love conditional on whether or not the relationship fulfills our wishes. How can you expect love to last when you demand that it meet your conditions, and you act as if you own another person?”
–H.H. the 17th Karmapa, ‘The Heart Is Noble: Changing the World from the Inside Out’

Sunday, February 21, 2016

S. Carolina is a bit cray-cray

Two friends of mine decided to move from Whidbey Island in Puget Sound (north of seattle about 45 minutes) to south Carolina. They had decided to move somewhere warm. When I began to tell mutual friends that this couple was moving to S. Carolina, virtually everyone I talked to about it said "Oh, you must have gotten that wrong, South Carolina is such a conservative red state. They must be moving to N. Carolina!" One friend, Peggy, even mentioned that no blacks had represented S. Carolina in congress since the Reconstruction period after the Civil War. I was impressed with that friends knowledge of SC history. I had gotten it right: they moved to S. Carolina. And this couple is very liberal. This is their retirement home. And they have the man's brother and sister-in-law live there and they thought it would be nice to live near some family.The woman had lived in the Pacific Northwest her whole life; the husband was originally from the Northeast, NYC, I think. And they are wealthy. I think wealth can cosset liberals in cocoons of other liberals.

My friend has shared a few funny stories of the hated in SC for yankees and how pretty much anyone who was not born and raised and lived in SC all their lives is a Yankee, according to her.

Soon after they moved, SC elected a black to Congress, although I am not sure which office.

worrying comes to nothing

read da buk -- first full sentence from Ruby

My niece Ruby, like all the women, seriously, in our clan, is brilliant. Her first whole sentence, which her mom and I had to convince ourselves was the baby talking because she started saying 'ree da buk' around ten months, was 'read the book'.

My sister, just as I did with my daughter, had begun reading to her baby in utero. Once born, from day one just about (maybe not at the hospital!), I read to my daughter and my sister read to hers.  Our girls were readers, as we had been.

Both my daughter and my niece also became gifted writers. My sister is a writer. I am a writer.

And we are all full bosomed!  Tacky aside, couldn't resist.

Anyway, before she was walking, Ruby often would start saying, ree da buk, and when someone did not get what she said and pull out a book on the spot and start reading, she would say it louder and louder. She was a stubborn baby and toddler. My sister used to say "ruby is stoic and intrepid". She was and, I imagine, she is, although I haven't seen my niece since 2007.

Ruby is now a full academic scholarship student at Smith. My daughter had an academic ride to Cornell, from which she graduated magna cum laude!

Proud mama.

Proud aunt.

Smart women run in my gene pool. Smart men too but Irish girls are the best, as any Irish person knows.

how our hearts were designed

“funny how our hearts were designed
to love so fiercely.
but break ever so gently.”
~ Sanober Khan

something I miss . .

I miss having a garden to tend, harvest and eat food from it.

I miss having a space outdoors to occasionally grill chicken.

I miss having a family.

I miss my daughter. My grief over her absence seems to only intensify.

I miss being happy.

I miss feeling loved.

I miss working.

I miss the Midwest, often fantasizing about moving back there but unable to afford the move.

I miss having the freedom owning a car offers, such as being able to explore the outdoors. I have seen almost nothing of CA and I have lived here ten years.

I miss camping, which also seems to require a car.

I miss more but this is bring me down.

it's not your door

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Ralph Waldo Emerson on forests/trees

"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

they see what they want to see

This reminds me of the Simon (or was it Simon and Garfunkel? I am fuzzy on that.) who sang 'people see what they want to see and disregard the rest".

aint it the truth?

Friday, February 19, 2016

as the pool turns

My gang from the pool had lunch yesterday. It was wonderful.

There were many conversations, lots of planning. What were we doing? We hardly know one another. Several days a week (Kay is the only one of us who swims every single day, me I swim every day when I am hitting with all my pistons, hint: I haven't been hitting with all my pistons lately, I skip days and I hate myself when I do, c'est la vie? I am hating myself for skipping today), we greet one another while we wait for the gate to open. Most folks have busy lives. If the gate opens at 10:30, they arrive at 10:20 or, even, later. This is where our friendships have grown, in these few minutes.

Some of the women knit more ties in the locker room. I imagine some of the men knit more ties in their locker room. Just the other day, Flattop Jack told me that Pete is the biggest talker he's ever known. I was so happy Jack told me this about Pete because Pete has implied that I talk too much. I have always suspected Pete is also a great raconteur, like me. Ah ha! Jack says that Pete will stick around the locker room talking for as much, and sometimes more, time than he spends in the pool. This is a lot of talk time because Pete swims for an hour. So does Jack swim an hour. And I also do. I never talked for an hour in the locker room!

I do chatter a lot at the gate, probably more than anyone but Pete. I have had a sense that people enjoy my conversation, for the most part. I have been me a long time, right? I know that my chatter often warms people up. I have honed this gift. And it is a gift, to talk in a manner that invites others to feel safe enough to reveal pieces of themselves that they would not otherwise reveal.  I am not always delightful but now and again, I hit it just right.

I don't know exactly where I stand on what I want to get from this. I am actually very weary of having all kinds of delightful, shallow connections. I want to go deep, and then deeper, with a few friends. I have some amazing friends and I think I might have more deep, intimate friendships than the average bear. But I want more. I want more depth. I don't want so much the shallow stuff but I can,when I am happy, create this kind of connection almost effortlessly. It is fun. It is more fun than standing quietly with a few humans for a few minutes at the pool gate, standing quietly day after day, year after year, close to these few humans but unconnected. Each person has a right to be private, of course. I guess I believe many humans seek more connection and I guess I see it as some of my work to create some warm human connectivity whenever, and as ever, I can.

That's what I've been doing at my pool. Let me give you a timeline for how I work.

I showed up at the Mountain View pools in October 2006. I didn't talk to anyone until someone spoke to me. I nodded hello when I arrived, for the first few months. I might have said hello if someone said hello to me. But I did not introduce myself. I waited to see what the commons wanted.

I could recount the early steps of how I began to knit myself into relationship with these folks. And, let's face it, I probably will, I write about everything that happens in my life, sooner or later. Today, I just want to give you an idea: I began my relationship to the pool crowd in October 2006.

I am shy. People that think they know me, they think I am not shy. I talk a lot. I am a good storyteller. I tell many intimate stories. I think the intimacy of my stories give people the false impression that I am not shy. Maybe? I am not sure how people see me.

I stayed at the very front of the line and limited my chatter to the other three or four people at the front of the line for over a year. I ignored guys like Pete. Partly I ignored Pete cause he is very attractive. Pete is a gorgeous man. And he gives off the air of being very prosperous and very, very confident and secure. I nabbed him as a 'ladies man', a 'playboy', a man not worth my time. Besides, he was never in the front of the line. He swims MWF. Whenever he would arrive, I noted that he was always greeted warmly. I saw that other folks in the line liked and loved him. I gradually realized he'd been coming a long time (ten years? longer?). Yup, some of these folks have been swimming together over ten years.

Over the winter, less people swim. This winter was hard on us swimmers. It was colder than last year, plus we had to swim in the crummy pool. The good pool was renovated (it just reopened, which we used as the occasion to go out to lunch). The 'bad' pool is not heated well. Factor in a colder winter, a colder pool: less people showed up.

So, over this winter, the people I was used to chattering with faded out. Suddenly, Pete was at the front of the line. We began to bond.

It turns out that he is a wonderful man. Wise. Mature. He calls himself a Buddhist. Who knows what that means for Pete, but, still, it suggests he wants to be a good person.

Almost everyone does want to be a good person. I wish I could get myself to assume that. Then I wouldn't have to wait a year to pay attention to good guys like Pete.

I was out of town for two weeks in January. During this time, a new swimmer showed up. Michael. When I am not at the pool, Michael shares the lane with Kay. I was able to warm up to Michael quickly because, gosh, if Kay liked sharing a lane with him, he had to be all right.

Kay and I always share, whenever we can, which is almost always. It makes such a difference to be with someone you know.

When Kay was recently in Bangkok for two weeks, I shared with Michael. He is great to share with.

Quite a lot of swimmers are awful to share with.

What is our criteria? Almost anyone is okay to share with if they smile. Almost no one who fails to smile feels okay to me and Kay. Quite a lot of people think nothing of coming to our lane, asking us to circle (it is part of the etiquette to ask, to let the other swimmers know you need to circle) without giving us a human greeting. Most of the time, when someone asks us to swim without smiling, we don't like them but they are pretty easy for us to accept because at least they asked. It would be so much easier if they smiled. If, however, someone gets in and starts swimming without first letting us know we need to circle AND they don't even smile or acknowledge us in anyway, it is awful to swim with these folks. Keep in mind such people are not being actively offensive. The absence of a tiny bit of human warmth, though, is huge.

I think all human circles have such subtle signals, don't you? Perhaps it is just my imagination, but these subtle cues seem even more subtle to me in the pool. They seem much more important. We are, after all, relatively vulnerable in a swimming pool. We are almost naked.

I think I learn more about how humans behave in the commons at the pool than in any venue I have ever been in. And keep in mind that, for the most part, I never speak to most of these people. Our entire relationship consists of a very few cues when they enter the pool and when one person needs to accomodate the swimming pace of another (sometimes a slower swimmer needs to let a faster swimmer pass).

Pete, Michael, Kay and I, we don't talk about too much outside of our pool experience. We have debated, in two-minute segments, over the winter months, pool etiquette. We have make up names for people. This name thing is a lot of fun. It reminds me of my first year in law school.

In law school, you are in huge classes for most first-year courses. A typical Contracts class lasts the entire first year, two full semesters. You are assigned to a seat so the professor can call on you at random. You sit in the same formation with maybe 100 other law students three times a week for two semesters but you don't really bond with many of them. You get your seat assignments in the first few days of class when you don't know anyone. So just because you ended up on the seating chart next to a particular person, that doesn't mean you have a personal connection. You're stuck all year, good or bad. But then, as humans are wont to do, you do find your tribe, you find your kindred spirits.

I never really found kindred spirits in law school. I didn't belong there. I never 'got' law students. They seemed to like to talk about the law all the time. Boring. Boring for me. Gee, I was so young when I went to law school. I can't tell you how many times I thought "These people are the most boring people I have ever met." Then I would have a teeny, tiny awareness that maybe I was in the wrong place, that maybe I had set the course of my life to go in a direction where, gee, all the people were boring. I would begin to have the faintest glimmer of doubt that perhaps the law was the wrong path for me. But I had invested so much in law schoo.l. And I didn't know what else to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a writer but I had internalized a belief that I could not be a writer, because writers starve. Grown ups had always advised me to figure out what I wanted to be and then to work for that goal but they had also always told me my goal, to be a writer, was the wrong goal. Around and around I spun. Law school seemed like a lifevest. So, when I had moments of doubting my choice, as I chafed at the way my fellow law students seemed to love talking about legal reasoning, analyzing ad nauseum the stilted legal analysis of famous legal opinions, I would sometimes feel sick to my stomach but I would shake this off and I actually told myself, many times "Law students are boring but lawyers will be interesting."

Up in my high corner of the classrooms (I always sat to the right of the lectern, as high up as I could go, so I could daydream in peace), I had names for all the people I didn't really know but that were a part of my life all day, five days a week.

I haven't made up silly names for the surrounding community since law school.

Michael brings a bracing approach to his names. He gets all upset about the woman he calls 'silly cow'. If you read my blog (I don't think anyone does, except maybe Cathy in Halifax), you know the kinds of names I use. Bangkok Kay, Flattop Jack, Stanford Pam, Little Pam (I haven't talked about the Pams in my blog but these are the kinds of names I use). There is Japanese guy (many asians swim with us but 'Japanese guy' doesn't seem to understand one single word of English and definitely does not understand the concept of pool etiquette, which we can't convey to him since he has convinced us he does not understand a single word of English).

I don't like Michael's names.

I like Michael. And I am glad he likes me, that I am in with him. But the fact that he comes up with negative names for the people who irritate him (well, sometimes I come up with negative names but I like to think my choices have some warmth if not poetry). I would hate it if he called me silly cow.

Pete does names a lot like I do. He calls Ada, for example, London. She is Chinese but she grew up in London and speaks with a British accent. London is a nice name, I think.

I think yesterday's lunch got started because Pete asked Kay out to lunch. I think she was interested but uncertain. I think I came up with the group plan to give her a chance to see Pete in a different light. But maybe I didn't come up with anything. Maybe Kay came up with the whole thing and skillfully got me to be the mouthpiece. Who knows?

Kay showed up looking gorgeous. She is an attractive woman, always. But she wears no makeup at the pool and most folks have never seen her in street clothes, with her hair groomed. She is attractive without makeup, in her sweatsuit, then in her bikini. On the street, she is a hottie. She is strikingly beautiful, with the kind of beauty that turns heads. She wears lots of jewelry, all of it real, she assures.

I've seen her in her public persona before. But yesterday, she outdid herself. She was smoking. She is nearly unrecognizable, compared to her pool persona. I like this. It is exciting. I bet if i were a guy and I saw this contrast, it would be even more exciting.

We have a large, round table for six. Pete chose to sit next to Kay. I thought that was a good sign. Of course, if Kay wants Pete, I want her to have him. If Pete wants Kay, I want him to have her.

I don't really know if our group lunch was a commons effort to help Pete and Kay consider each other but I like imagining that it was.

I asked Pete a couple weeks ago if he was interested in Kay. He said "I did ask her to have lunch with me." I waited for more. He added "As to whether or not I am interested in her, it is none of your business." I said he was right, that it was none of my business. Then he added "I will say this. There is always ambiguity between men and women." I liked that exchange. I like Pete. I am so glad I have begun to see him.

So there we were, all at lunch. There was talk of making it a monthly thing, a standing opportunity for any regular swimmer at our pool to socialize. I can support the idea but I am unlikely to go to many such lunches. Like I have written, maybe elsewhere, I am full up on casual acquaintances. I love them but I don't get fed by them.

As I continue to lose weight, I become more and more aware of the various ways in which I need to be fed. The way in which I most need to be fed is relationship. I need a partner. There is a case to be made that I might increase the odds of finding such a partner by expanding my casual, delightful networks of wonderful people. My man, he'll show up. I don't have to be out there looking. He'll show up.

trust the silence

Trust the silence
Trust the work that gets done
in silence
Trust love
Trust faith
Trust me

Thursday, February 18, 2016

"I'm not a cheetah, Mom!"

When my daughter was growing up, I often had her run into shops while I stayed in the car. Back in the days of renting videos, for example, when we were just returning videos, I'd have her get out of the car to drop off the videos, save me the trouble of finding a parking spot.

Or if we were picking up a pizza, I'd pull up, she'd run in and get the pizza.

Once, when she was fairly young, maybe seven or eight, I said something about speed. Maybe I said "Hurry up", worried about where I had the car stopped or something.

She said "I'm not a cheetah, Mom!" and then she ran into whatever shop she was headed.

When she got back in the car, I asked her why she had said cheetah. "Cheetahs", she proudly told me, are the fastest animal on earth. No animal runs faster than a cheetah."

There was actually a pizza chain where she grew up called Cheetah Pizza. I had not understood the name until Rosie told me that cheetahs run faster than any other mammal.

According to Wikipedia, Rosie got it right. The cheetah is the fastest land animal.

Sometimes she groused about having to run out of the car as I have described. I would calmly point out that we could stop renting videos, stop ordering pick up food, etc.

Eventually, as she got into the middle school years, she just flat out refused to do it.

There were signs all along of her emotional disconnect from me. She regularly did not give me a birthday present, for example. She rarely acknowledged Mother's Day. 

My sister used to tell me I was wrong to not force her to do some things for me, to contribute to our shared wellbeing, but I knew Rosie was seriously OCD.  I knew that she had an issue of being compulsively defiant, although I did not use that language back then in reference to Rosie's often puzzling, stubborn refusal to simply show me ordinary sharing-a-house-a-life kindness.  She wouldn't do chores around the house. Well, she did all the laundry because she didn't want me to touch her clothing.

When I first remembered, just now, "I am not a cheeteah" I was awash in warm feelings, warm memories. I reflected too long. Now I am crying, remembering my neverending loss.

perfect pitch, total recall, smart

I traveled to Spain in the fall of 1975, intending to spend the fall semester in Grenada, Spain, which was the headquarters of the Moors (Muslims today) when they controlled Spain. The Alhambra, a seemingly endless castle built by the Moors to house their governor, is in Grenada.  The Alhambra is exquisitely beautiful in all its details. It also

no winners when both parties angry

"You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger."  Gautama the Buddha
I was punishing myself with anger. And now I am not.

Ironically, I was angry about my perception that someone was unjustly and abusively angry towards me. No winners in competing anger.

if Congressmen vow to do nothing, do they still get paid?

It is appallingly shameful that Republicans in the House and Senate proudly declaim their determination to do absolutely nothing of substance during Obama's last year in office.

So my question is:  do they still get paid? should anyone be paid when they vociferously declare, all over any media that will cover them, that they won't do the work they are elected and paid to do?

Of course not. They should not be paid.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

honor among thieves

Since I am a law school grad, I often know things that people who didn't go to law school don't know.  I know, for example, that a 501(c)(3) nonprofit has to have, at a minimum, annual board meetings or it is not entitled to nonprofit status. I know, as another example, that a nonprofit board is jointly and severally liable for acts and negligence perpetrated by employees of the nonprofit. I once told this to a friend who abused the 501(c)(3) status to avoid paying income taxes but he never, not once, had a board meeting. When I told him a nonprofit board is liable for all liabilities of a nonprofit as well as any acts of negligence or malpractice, he said "Then what is the point of incorporating? I thought being a corporation protected the organization from liability."  "That's for-profit corporations. There is a price to pay for the not insignificant privilege of not paying organization income taxes: among such pricing is board liability and the IRS requirement that there be an objective and actual board of directors directing how that nonprofits finances are handled. A founder of a nonprofit can sit on its board but they can't direct the finances without a real board giving real approval to how an org's money is spent.

This person was furious with me when, as I confronted him about other examples of his lack of integrity, I threatened to report him to the IRS. Not having a board was just one of the illegal things he did with his nonprofit. He had a partner in this nonprofit fraud. He and his partner think of themselves as good men. And I, truth told, think of them as good men. But we get what we deserve. These guys said "Everyone uses nonprofits the way we do."  Yeah, many people abuse the nonprofit tax status although if the IRS were to audit such a fraudulent nonprofit, the people faking their right to not pay taxes on organization income would be personally liable. And they could be found guilty of criminal fraud.

So many people think they are smart enough to figure out the law as well as a lawyer who worked her ass off for years to acquire the knowledge a lawyer has to have to be licensed.

And guess what else? If a couple of 'good' guys form a for-profit corporation that is just a shell for an ordinary business partnership and if their corporation does not have enough capital assets to cover any and all potential liabililty if they screw something up, it is possible to pierce the corporate veil of a for-profit.

A fraudulent nonprofit wrongly reporting itself to the IRS as complying with 501(c)(3)

some dissociative aspect of the self

Everything in life can be, at one point or another, so damned tricky, especially romantic love.

I don't think I have ever loved anybody; I have loved dissociative aspects of my Self.  I don't love myself very well. I am dissociated, too much of the time, from my own resplendant wonderfulness. When I have loved men, I haven't seen them. I see my projections of my own fineness, my own adorable Self.

Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream is about loving dissociative aspects of one's Self. He nailed the absurdity and the experience of the daffy dissociative.

Another play in which Shakespeare brilliantly presented dissociative love is Twelfth Night, a play also full of human absurdity misinterpreted as love by some characters and by annoyance in other characters.  Twelfth Night is no Midsummer's Dream, in my opinion. Someone once suggested, declaratively, as if his read of Twelfth Night was definitive, that Twelfth Night is about confusing love and power.  After he told me that, I pored over the play and rewatched any movie version of the play I could get my hands on.  I think power is just one dissociative projection some of the characters exhibit in Twelfth Night but I think he got it all wrong and this mistake should have signaled some valuable insights into who he is.  Twelfth Night would appeal to more males than Midsummer's Dream would appeal to those males. Twelfth Night paints the experience of falling in love, both with real people and with dissociative aspects of the self, more seriously but, in my final analysis, both plays are about the sometimes (frequent?) dissociative nature of romantic love.

How to stop? How to change? Is it like getting to Carnegie Hall, needing practice practice practice? Well, at age 62, not thin and not rich, it's not like men are falling over themselves to get a shot with me. I don't get practice.

In a recent conversation with a good friend, after she had told me something about her romantic love interest that troubled her, I heard myself saying "He might be unconscious when he does this and if he is unconscious, I don't think there is anything you can do. The work of love really steps up to challenge us precisely in those moments when our beloved, or our projection of our beloved, challenges our ability to love them around all impediments.

And that last line brings me to a place I can stop:  Sonnet 116. Sonnet 116 is one of Shakespeare's best known love poems. It's the one where he writes 'in a marriage of true minds'. Could he mean that minds are true when consciously awake?  My favorite part of Sonnet 116 is where it says loving another around all impediments is Love.

So far, I have not encountered anyone who loves me around the impediment of being an imperfect human.  Yet the problem could very well be that I confuse dissociative projective love with conscious love that allows me to see the object of my love in clear consciousness.


Gobbledegook? Or just more dissociative projections?!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Ah! douce campagna, honey in the heart

The Well-Dressed Man" ~~ Wallace Stevens. 
After the final no there comes a yes
And on that yes the future world depends.
No was the night. Yes is this present sun.
If the rejected things, the things denied,
Slid over the western cataract, yet one,
One only, one thing that was firm, even
No greater than a cricket's horn, no more
Than a thought to be rehearsed all day, a speech
Of the self that must sustain itself on speech,
One thing remaining, infallible, would be
Enough. Ah! douce campagna of that thing!
Ah! douce campagna, honey in the heart,
Green in the body, out of a petty phrase,
Out of a thing believed, a thing affirmed:
The form on the pillow humming while one sleeps,
The aureole above the humming house...
It can never be satisfied, the mind, never.

I wanna go outside nm

One time, Flannery and I took a road trip from Minneapolis to New Mexico and back again. Ruby was with us. She was fourteen months old and not quite yet someone we thought of as a person who talked, at least not with words. That road trip was one of the best weeks in my life.  Ruby was at a peak of perfection. She was just beginning to talk but she already understood everything we said. She was a funny toddler, making jokes almost before she could talk in sentences.

We drove two long, hard days to get from St. Paul to Roswell. Ruby was a sport but, geez, being cooped up in that car seat took a toll on her. She looked a little bit like that 'Scream' guy in the Munch painting. She was so frazzled, like she was thinking 'what are you people doing to me, life with you guys has been pretty good, you've been so good and kind to me and now, what's going on, why this torture?' We knew she had had it when, just as we crossed the border from Texas into Northern New Mexico and stopped at the first gas station we had seen in hours, after filling our tank with gas, Flannery went in to pay, leaving me alone in the car with our frazzled buntot. I was in the front seat, behind the wheel. Ruby was sitting behind me so I couldn't see her; this way, her mom could sit in the front passenger seat and see the dolly girl. So there I am in the front seat. It's May and hot as hell in the New Mexican desert. I am mostly along to provide childcare when my sister attends a conference but, also, I loaned my car to the proceedings. Like Ruby, I feel that my sister has set a very aggressive driving pace.

We were driving like bats outa hell because we were going to go somewhere else, somewhere further, somewhere that would have required a third day of hauling as son the road, then a fourth day to get back to SE New Mexico for the first teacher job fair. I don't remember the name of where we were headed but my sister said it was supposed to be one of the most beautiful places in the country. It was her trip and her money so I had agreed but I didn't care if we saw this place or not. I love New Mexico. I go there a lot. Hey, I'll see it all eventually.  It would have been two days of hard driving witih little time to enjoy one of the most beautiful places in the country. My sister had underestimated drive times and the toll the long drives took on all of us, but especially her baby.

So, we pump the gas, Flannery goes in to pay and me and the kid sweat it out in the car. All of a sudden, Ruby starts thrashing and screaming wildly. She's screeching something about let me out but, not quite using words. I thought she was demanding that I let her out of the carseat. My sister had an ironclad rule about staying in the car seat and this is the kind of maternal rule that I would never break with another woman's kid. With any child not my own, I have always done my best to follow the mother's rules; the kid needs the consistency. Plus on a road trip, well, heck, there's all kinds of things two grown sisters can do to piss each other off. I was not going to blow my wad of good cheer with my sister over the car seat. So when Ruby started freaking out and demanding that I let her out, I coo'd towards the back of the car in sympathy, trying to speak to her soothingly, telling her that we wouldn't be in the car all day, honey bee. this will be over, soon. I even assured her that I was hot and miserable, too. We're all hot and miserable, darling.  I forgot to mention that one of the things that happened on this road trip is that my linguistically impressionable sister and I had started talking in a goofy twang. Born and bred in the upper midwest, come to find ourselves speaking in a broad drawl. That drawl was fun, actually. So I drawled to the little one, hey, we're all hot, honey chile and we'll be getting down the road soon, I expect. And I bet your mama brings us some cold drinks!

Right about then, I swear, baby Bibbsey blew some kinda gasket. She broke out of that car seat. It was impossible. But she did it. She broke out. Right at that moment, my sister returns to the car and the first thing she sees is Ruby thrashing all over the back seat, broke free. She says "Did you let her out of the carseat?" "No, ma'm, I didn't," I drawled tensely, "I haven't moved from this here wheel. She just kinda blew."

What Ruby had done was impressive. It was impossible for her to break out of that carseat and she had done it.

"I know you have you heart set, Flannery," I said, "On getting to that great resort but I'm thinking that if we make this child sit in the car for a day's drive there and then another day's drive back for your conference, she's going to die. Seriously, I think we have to get this child out of the car."

My sister almost collapsef with relief. She had been thinking the same thing, that we needed to skip the resort detour and go to the town where the first job fair was and just hang out for those two days. It was so amazing that through the strength of her will Ruby had freed herself after begging her mother and her aunty to release her from that car seat.We both respected the baby's power.

After checking maps, we realized we were at the intersection for the road south to the town where that first job fair would be.  We decided we'd head south and stop at the very next motel with a pool, no matter what. And we did.

It was on that southerly drive that I saw my first New Mexican daytime moon. It was to the east, so to our right. I pointed it out to Isbe, hoping to distract her from her misery in the car seat.  It had been hard to force her back into it but we could not drive with a baby tossing around in the car.  My sister did get in the back seat and held her baby for a long while, out of the car seat, to soothe her.

The next day, we took a risk and put Ruby in the car for the two hour ride down to Roswell. We had spent the night in Portales, where my sister's conference was gonna be. In Roswell, we stopped at the tourist information spot and asked about where we could have a picnic so Ruby could play outdoors. Come to find there is a sweet little zoo in Roswell. We went to that zoo and had ourselves a picnic. We cooked cheese quesadillas by putting them in the back window of the car, in direct sun. It just took a couple of minutes for the cheese to melt. We have photos of Ruby smacking her lips at our car-cooked picnic. It was so fucking hot.

The next day, my sister went to the conference. Ruby and I went to get haircuts, explored the parks in Portales and went to a grocery store to buy picnic food to meet my sister, Ruby's mom, over her luncn break. The grocery store had a constantly rotating tortilla making machine. It reminded me of going to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. Instead of squatting latina women patting masa dough into flat rounds and slapping them on a hot griddle, this machine was a series of hot griddles that flipped the tortilla down over and over so it hit about a half dozen hot griddles and the tortilla landed at the bottom completely cooked. Discovering the tortilla machine had felt like magic.

When we were done at the beauty party, the gal at the beauty parlor was surprised to learn I was from Minneapolis. She said 'y'all talk just like you is from around here'. Flannery had suggested that I stop talking in my made up twang because I might offend the local people. It was so great that the local hairdresser thought my accent sounded about right. Ruby had really long hair and she begged me to get it cut short cause it was so hot but my sister wasn't ready for a short haircut. Mostly, we just went for the haircuts for the air conditioning. Even though it was fucking hot, like a hundred and ten degrees in the shade, no pools were open yet. They didn't open until after Memorial Day and this was early May.

Now I remember what made me think of that trip.

read from HERE  

Once we settled into the Bed and Breakfast in  Portales, New Mexico, we had a little apartment. Two bedrooms, living room, even a kitchen. It was just for three nights but it was a sweet, temorary home. The landlady served us breakfast out on the patio. It was not superhot at breakfast time. We had two bedrooms, a living room and a dining area. The building was built in an old Mexican style. Our apartment was on the second story, which offered us views of the surrounding flatness with mountains in the distance. It was a very different world than the one Ruby had known in Minnesota. It looked exotic to me. It must have looked very different to her. It was a great place to stay for several days, with the comforts of home. The patio outside our front door also had a table where the hostess had offered to serve us breakfast. She had said "Phone me in the morning when you are ready for breakfast and I'll serve it inside or outside. Tell me what you'd like." Me and the kid hung out there while my sister went to her conference on the first day.

The first morning of our three mornings in Portales, Ruby woke up real early and asked her mother something. Ruby had just barely begun to talk when we started out on this road trip. A lot of grown ups don't notice exactly when kids start talking. My theory is that just like a kid tries to stand up and walk, what, thousands of times before he actually gets up and walks, a kid tries out a heckuva lot of sounds before they are understood. But inside the kid, long before the adults around them catch on, well, the kid is making sense. They tend to roll the words together so they don't sound right to adult ears but kids are usually talking before most people around them understand them.  I figured this out, actually, when my baby sister was two. Flannery was a very late talk, true. I had  realized, before anyone else did, that she was actually making a lot of sense long before most folks could understand her. I don't know exactly why but one day I realized that she was speaking in long, great sentences but she was rolling the sounds of the words together. Ca tin ah at. If you reposition those letters I wrote in that last sentence, it says cat in a hat. Well, this is how my sister talked when she first started talking. After this happened with her, I started watching for this moment with all children I have known and loved. They all do it: they all roll the sounds of words together in just slightly the wrong way. . . until they get it right. Just like a kid tries to stand on her own over and over and over until she gets it right. I have a theory that the earlier the grown ups understand the kid, the better their lifelong verbal skills are. The sooner the kid is understood, the sooner they can really begin to build their verbal skills. I have known kids that I could understand completely but their parents still didn't have a clue that the kids had developed language beyond mama and dada and no. No gives a toddler power, eh?! I have coached a few parents on how to listen to babies. My own kid was a super early talker, one of the earliest I've ever known. The kid, of course, gets most of the credit but I give myself a good dollip, too. Come on, I talked to her just like this every moment of our shared lives. It only made sense that she started talking in long, interesting sentences right from the gitgo. Lots of folks thought my kid was a genius when she was only one because of her verbal skills, even her pediatrician. Maybe she was. All I know -- and all I knew then -- was that I had a lot to say to the kid and I wanted to hear everything she had to say and come on, let's get started.

So by the time my niece Ruby came along, I was good at listening to early language skills.

In that B and B in Portales, Ruby woke up the first morning and asked her mother for something. Her mother, my sister, did not understand her request and denied Ruby's request. I was ostensibly asleep in the next room. Ruby blew another gasket. She kept repeating herself, demanding something from my sister. My sister could not understand what she was saying. They began shouting angrily at one another. Oh, get this, one of the things they kept shouting was "We have to be quiet, Tree is still asleep." As if. I had not  been awake from the first shout. When a mother hears a baby cry, she nears that cry even if she had been asleep.   I was trying to hang back, to give them some alone time as a family unit, just the two of them. These little accomodations really help on a road trip when you are in each other's faces day and night, right?

One night on the way down, in Oklahoma, Ruby woke up in the middle of the night, in pain about something, teething maybe. She screamed, really and truly screamed, for at least an hour. I lay in my bed and pretended I was asleep the whole time, reasoning that there was nothing I could do about the baby's pain and if my sister needed my attention, well, she would ask for it. Of course I heard Ruby screaming for that hour. I mean, come on, it was a Motel 6 room, not a suite at a Hilton. I just pretended to sleep to eliminate one level of complexity in the situation. The next morning my sister asked me if I had heard Ruby's crying. Of course I heard her, I said. "Thanks for keeping quiet," my sister said, "I was so glad you didn't wake up and try to help. There was nothing you could do and I didn't want to have to deal with you."

So, a couple days later, when Ruby started our morning with another round of screaming, I decided to once again pretend I didn't hear the caterwauling. This scene was completely different. How was it different? Here's how. Ruby got up and said "I wanna go outside". Our B and B apartment was on the second floor of a two-story building. Outside our front door, was a table and chairs. It was hot out there. It was New Mexico in May. But it was entirely understandable that our curious, smart little kid wanted to go outside and see this place.

My sister heard her make sounds like this: "I ous si".

Ruby would say 'I ous si' and my sister would say, "I can't understand you."

Then Ruby would scream.

I might be making it sound like Ruby was a screaming kid but she wasn't, actually. I think the only times I ever heard her pitch a fit was the time she blew a gasket and popped out of her carseat and then in the B and B the morning she wanted to go outside.

I kept quiet when Ruby and Flannery first got to arguing that morning in the B and B, remembering how Flannery had been glad I stayed out of things the night Ruby was in pain all night. That night when she cried in pain in the motel was also the only time in her life she ever did that.We learned later that Ruby had a prolapsed rectum, which meant her rectum was squeezing out of her and it hurt like hell. Poor baby.

So here's the scene. Ruby is making a very reasonable request to step outside and explore the new land we just dragged her to. My sister can't understand her and she is trying to keep the place quiet so I can sleep in. I am trying to keep quiet to give my sister and her daughter some mother-daughter family time without the auntie in the middle.

I lay there and listened to them fight as long as I could stand it.

One thing about my niece: I have never personally known a more stubborn child. Her stubbornness is, in my humble opinion, awesome. I always experienced her as a totally reasonable kid and the only times she ever 'acted up' was when she made an eminently reasonable request and she was misunderstood. I always thought that she 'acted up' not because she was a brat or anything but because her intellect was offended. I always thought it upset her that people didn't realize she wouldn't ask for something unreasonable.

It was pretty reasonable to want to go outside and explore the New Mexican sun. I thought so, anyway.

The poor kid got so worked up. My sister got so worked up. After a few minutes of all that screaming, I figured I might as well get up, that there could be no illusion amongst any of us that I was sleeping in. Come on, we were all very awake, thank you very much.

How to play it? My sister was standing outside her bedroom door, holding the door closed to keep Ruby locked in the bedroom. In addition to the poor kid's wailing, the door was slamming and bamming as the two of them fought, one to open it, one to keep the kid in the bedroom until she calmed down.  "You are going to stay in there until you stop screaming," my sister kept saying, "This time, I am not going to give in to your crying." My niece kept saying "I wanna go ou si".

I opened my door and gestured for my sister to come close so I could speak without Ruby hearing me. I explained that I believed Ruby was saying, that she was asking to go outside.

"Oh, well," my sister said, "She can go outside. Ruby, you can come out now. Let's go outside. Let's ask the landlady if she can serve our breakfast out there." Sis had turned on a dime, then  Ruby did too.

We did have our breakfast outside. Ruby sobbed a long time. You now how sometimes a kid cries real hard and then they sob uncontrollably for a long time afterwards. That's what she did. Her eyes were so red. She shuttered with those uncontrollable sobs.

One of the great things about kids, maybe the very best thing about them, is that they are always willing to put unhappiness behind them. She may have sobbed through breakfast but her unhappiness was forgotten.

Why am I telling this long, long story tonight? Because I identify with those long ago sobs that emanated in my dear little Ruby when she kept begging to go outside and her mother misunderstood her. On that long ago morning, my sister 'got' that Ruby was asking for something. She knew her daughter was saying 'I want' but she couldn't understand the next part. My sister kept saying "what do you want?" and Ruby kept saying "I wanna go ou sie"

I feel like I am clamnoring for something but nobody can hear me. Well, that nobody is listening.

When my sister kept saying what do you want and Ruby would repeat her fruitless line, then Ruby would say "I'll be good, mommy, I'll be good", with poor little Ruby sobbing as she spoke, the sobs arising beyond her control.  My sister wanted to give Ruby what she wanted and once she knew what she wanted, she let her out, of course. Our dear Ruby sobbed so mournfully as she said "I'll be good, I'll be good."

I feel like that little girl, sobbing 'I'll be good', over and over.

I'll be good, I promise.And if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.