Thursday, March 31, 2016

The wisteria are in bloom again. . .

I lived in the Upper Midwest, mostly, with detours to NH, NE, TX, CO and lived many years in MN -- I have moved a lot --  until I moved to the West Coast in 2002. I've been in CA since 2006.

I don't think wisteria thrives in the very hard frost of MN winters.

At my first CA swimming pool, one of my favorite parts of that pool experience was the walk home. I walked there on one route and walked home on another. My walk home took me through a private apartment complex, a very nice one, probably an expensive one. It has a long trellis that became completely drapped with luxuriously verdant wisteria.  I liked that walk all year round but when the wisteria were in bloom, I'd walk up and down under the archway from which hung dense wisteria.

Here in Berkeley, there is always a lot of wisteria. Wisteria must like cool, misty climates. Fog!

There is an Oakland public library on College Avenue that is fronted with many trellises. Right now, the wisteria is (are?) overflowing on those trellises.

When I lived in Seattle, I lived on the northernmost boundary of the city. I lived on 145th Street, which is where Seattle ended. Across the street from my building was a suburb. It was a poor, shabby part of Seattle, plus remote from everything anyone would want to do in Seattle. With just one bus line that snaked through north Seattle, then through the University of Washington campus and then snaked back up north on the other side of the city. It took forever to go anywhere on that bus.

I came up with self entertainment. I decided early on that all the front yards that I had many hours to view on the always slow bus were 'my garden'. I tried to memorize the gardens and then savor how they changed with the seasons.  It turned out to be a surprisingly satisfying expeirence. I came to quite love trees, shrubs, perennial gardens.  My point is that I paid a lot of attention to flowers in Seattle and I don't remember seeing huge plantings of hanging wisteria. Not anywhere there.

So I am wondering:  where else does wisteria thrive as it does here? I bet wisteria really likes the foggy, misty air of the bay.

on ten-day silent retreats & transgendered humans

I used to sit at least a couple Vipassana ten-day retreats a year, stopping mostly after I moved to CA. It was easier to get into and get to the one in WA State than the ones held in CA. No excuse, I guess. I stoppped going in 2007. And I have signed up for a few since moving to CA in 2006 but just haven't made it. I inform the center, of course, so they can give my spot to someone.

Anyway, when I went to a bunch of these retreats in Onalaska, WA and I also served on many sits, including one from Xmas to New Year's, I got to know a woman who had changed her gender from male to female. She was Canadian and her driver's license and passport listed her as a woman. She had been very highly successful financial as a man, had donated a lot of money to that center. She had some bumps as her life transitioned but she got her career back on track and was making big money again when I met her.

When she applied to sit a course for the first time after her surgery, the center said she could not stay in the male or female dorms and offered to put her up in a kind of shed far from the dhamma hall. So she sued them. A legal woman is a legal woman.

Does this country legally change a person's gender identity when they 'change' genders (I believe many transgendered people feel that they don't change genders, they become the gender they always were but their biology had not matched up).

After her lawyer filed her lawsuit, the center agreed to let her sleep in the women's dorm but in private space. Which was not a big deal because all 'old' students (students not sitting their first course) are given private space. The more one meditates in ten days of silence, the more sensitive one becomes during those days and the more you need to be able to sit in private. The privacy was mostly pink curtains but stepping behind those curtains could be such a relief!

You don't get to know people very much at a ten-day silent retreat. They let people talk the penultimate day, to begin acclimatizing to talking again. Do some folks have a tough adjustment back to talking? I never have had problems talking again.  Maybe some folks dive more deeply than I have yet to dive in silent retreats.

I quite dislike retreats that intersperse periods of silence with talking.  Heck, I hate such retreats. If you have class discussions and group exercises that involve talking and then go back and forth with silence, I feel discombobulated. The silence in such circumstances is not stillness, not for me.

I love the deep silence I have moved into on ten-day silent retreats. Last summer I went to two retreats that were part silent, part talking classes and then part socializing time. In fact, I signed up for the second retreat while I was at the first one, having left the retreat center to use wifi at the local public library with another recalcitrant retreatant.

just ruminating. . . I fell asleep this afternoon, and I did not plan to nap. I slept for many hours. I am full of head chatter. I should meditate a couple hours, still my being. Instead, I'll write. I am outlining a novel that I sincerely think has a brilliant story. Whether my writing skill is up to the telilng remains to be seen. I am having fun, being creative and making my tiny patch of the cosmos creative, intelligent and good energy.

Anyway, I had sat 3 or 4 ten-day courses with this woman who had once been a man, fathered two daughter and then, as she put it, had the chop. She was in a relationship with a woman when she had the surgery but that woman left her when she had the surgery. After her penis was removed, she identified as a lesbian. She was always attracted to women, before and after 'the chop'. Her wife when she was still a man, accused her of molesting her daughters when she first came out as transgendered. That messed with her business reputation  more than coming out as a tarnsgendered woman.

She told me that when she first came out, before the molestation accusations -- unfounded ones -- she was the highest selling realtor in Vancouver. Her business was wiped out overnight. She moved to an island and was 'farming' the island, and eventually built up another successful clientele for houses.

Black Elk Speaks

The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us. --Black Elk

Black Elk Speaks is the first book I was assigned in college. There were a few days of Freshman Orientation and we all had to read that book, then discuss.
 I have reached the peace of my oneness with the universe but I am not in that energy all the time.  I am in that energy right now. It is bliss.

$23 for 12 ounces of almond butter: guess which store?!

I no longer eat peanut butter. I sometimes make almond butter chia seed protein cookies. I substitute almond butter for peanut butter. Yeah, these babies are very healthy. I don't use sugar, of course, not this type one diabetic. And they are tasty delights. I always load up on chia seeds, adding more than the recipe calls for. And these treats work just fine without egg, using flax seed or chia seeds instead of egg. I use the egg, not being a vegan.

So I occasionally buy a sixteen ounce jar of smooth almost butter to make my delicious, healthy, low-carb treat. Sometimes, getting a little crazy, I add chocolate for chocolate treats. Raw organic cacao:  yum.

Today, life took me past one of Berkeley's Whole Foods stores. I had to have a blood draw and the place I go for that is near the Whole Foods. I only go into WF when I have a blood draw, btw. This was my first time in the store, or the lab, since October.

I didn't really need to buy anything. The bus was twenty minutes away. I went into WF to kill a little time. Then I remembered that I was running low of Tom's of Maine mango tooth paste. I figured out a few years ago that I don't like mint much and I hate brushing my teeth with mint toothpaste just before going to bed. The mint, I swear, perks me up just at bedtime. Tom's of Maine sells good toothpaste although I am questioning it. I should just stick with coconut oil and tumeric for tooth paste.  Flouride is a neurotoxin. I shouldn't have bought that toothpaste. but I did.

I rolled around the store a bit, checking on the prices of things I might buy. Like almond butter.

WF had twelve ounce jars of non-organic almond butter for $23, sneaking the downsizing. $23 fucking bucks? For realsies? It wasn't organic, just regular almonds. Also it was not raw.  Criminy, I just bought a full 8 ounce jar of non-organic almond butter at Trader Joe's for $8 and the organic stuff was about twelve bucks.

They had some 'cheaper' almond butters. And they had some brands still selling sixteen ounce jars of almond butter. But all the almond butters began at $20 a jar. Price gouging.

Folks, buy raw, bulk, organic almonds and make your own almond butter.  I make my own almond butter sometimes. I keep a store-bought jar of it on hand for those lazy days when one may feel lazy but one still wants a cookie.  The store-bought stuff, even when the label says the only ingredient is almonds, is smoother, gooier and easier to blend into cookie batter than my homemade almond butter, which tends to come out thick.  I imagine there is some moisture in the commercial jars but if they add water, aren't they supposed to indicate that on the label?

The organic Driscoll raspberries were "only" $7 a half pint,a wild extravagance if I had given in to temtation.  I was tempted. I make some tasty banana pancakes using only smash bananas, cinnamon and eggs -- no flour. Bananas make a good batter, and when you add eggs, you can pour out banana pancakes just like 'regular' pancakes. What's regular? For me, banana egg pancakes are regular. Now and then and sometimes I enjoy adding a few raspberries. It's early. Raspberries will come down in price and will be cheaper at my farmers markets.  I broke free of the raspberry spell by remembering that I should be boycotting Driscoll's because they don't pay their farmworkers minimum wage, pulling some legal shenanigans to underpay the berry pickers.

Everywhere I look in the world, it can seem, I see unkindness and greed.

I want to live in a world in which everywhere I look I see kindness, love, light, joy. All the goodies.  I do live in such a world but sometimes I allow it to become obscured.

I swear to the Cosmos

I swear to the Cosmos and to myself that I am never going to let myself get out of shape again..

About this time last year, I was just beginning to recover from about two months of being sick. It was one thing and then another, but I spent almost all my time in bed. Just as I began to feel better and began to be active again, I quickly realized all that sedentary sick-bed routine had given me another deep vein thrombosis (DVT). When I have a DVT, which, so far, I have gotten in my lower left calf, it hurts quite a lot and it hurts more when I walk.

Those two months in bed left me deconditioned. I had stopped swimming. Stopped walking five miles daily. And it was easy to remain deconditioned. Or hard to get back into an exercise habit. However I characterize my slide, I slid.

For months, other than some walking daily, for I don't have a car, I did very little exercise.

Dovetailing with my exercise slide, my money got tighter and the fees for my pool seemed beyond my reach. Then a loving friend gave me a year's worth of fees for my atheletic facilities, last August, for my birthday.

It has taken me all this time since August to rebuild my exercise habit. And I am still not there.

For the first time ever, I have had a real struggle to get back to swimming an hour every single day. For the first time ever, some of my muscles hurt after my lap workouts.  I've been a lap swimmer since college. Never before have I experienced muscle pain from swimming, even when I didn't swim for a year. It has taken me awhile to build back up to swimming a full mile but swimming has never left me with sore muscles.

My upper arm muscles are sore. I keep chugging alone, getting my laps in most days. I am not yet back to every day but I will be soon. Still, I am swimming 4 to 5 times a week yet my upper arms hurt for hours after the laps.

Additionally, I become weak while walking and often find myself looking around for somewhere to sit and rest. While just walking. This has never happened to me before. Well, it has been going on for much of the last year but never before this year.

I see no signs of improvement with my walking experience. If anything, I seem to feel weaker and more uncomfortable with each passing day. All I can do is keep moving and trust that I will eventually be in decent condition, no longer wiped out by walking a mile or two.

Once I am back to my daily laps and walking several miles or more daily, I am not going to stop until physical infirmities as I age make it impossible for me to exercise.

It is too hard to get in condition again. I know part of my challenge is related to aging. Oh, I am not saying someone my age can't be fit. I am saying it seems to take me, at this age, longer to become fit. I begin to see why many folks, as they age, don't exercise. The curve for beginning to get in shape is steep and challenging.

So once I get to the mountaintop of daily hour-long laps and walking five miles a day, I am not ever going to stop. It just isn't worth it to slack off.

And I am not getting any younger, eh?

humour saved me

I like this. When I was in therapy with the psychologist who had been my marriage counselor first, and he supported me during years of custody litigation, he told me my humour had saved me from my very abusive ex-husband. He said that most human beings have a certain threshold of cruelty beneath which they will not sink but, as far as the doctor could tell, my husband, then ex-husband, had no such threshold. My doctor said that in 20+ years of marriage counseling, he had likely seen everything people did to one another, every kind of unkindness and cruelty. He said my ex was the cruelest human he had ever known.

Then he said that he had given a lot of thought (did I mention? This was at a deposition, under oath, in prepration for trial. The ex had demanded the deposition and he dropped his custodypetition after the deposition. I  guess the ex realized his custody challenge was hopeless when his whole case was based on his clalim I was crazy because I saw a doctor but the doctor said I was the sane one.

My dear doctor said he did not think every woman could emerge 'in tact' from the very unhappy marriage we had had. He said he had wondered seriously if I could be okay, well enough to raise my child.  In some ways, I have never gotten over some of that damage but I was, in spite of what Rosie thinks, the only viable parenting option she had. I don't think she believes this these days but there is so much she doesn't know. I didn't tell her things about her father because she was a child and I was a parent protecting her.

Dr. John said that I had cried more than any patient he had ever had, that for the first couple years, he had wondered if I would ever stop crying. I did, eventually, slow down on the crying. I am a crybaby. To this day, I cry easily and I am proud of this trait. I do not hide my emotions much.

Dr. John said, in that deposition, that over and over and over, he would be sitting listening to me tell a heartwrenching story, reporting my latest experirence of abuse, for I saw him individually for about a year while I still lived with my abuser. Dr. John said he would often have to fight to suppress his tears for my stories described cruelty he could barely imagine as real. And every time, he said, at some point in my tale of wow, he would be surprised to hear me laugh. He said every time I told some horror story, often, in the early time of solo therapy, from the day before, I would see some humor in the story as I remembered it, as I sorted through my memories, 'seeing' the abuse in my mind and recounting it.

I don't think I ever told him what made me laugh. I would see, as I remembered my most recent experience of abuse, some preposterously absurd detail, such as my husband puffing himself up with indignation because, as he often complained, I bruised too easily. That's right, I was married to a man who would yell at me, sometimes strike me a few extra times, because I bruised. He seemed to think I magically made myself bruise.

I do bruise unusually easily. In h.s., when a school health nurse examined everyone's arm a week after their tuberculosis test (a week or however long they waited to check), she saw that my upper left arm had a softball size, dark, purply bruise. None of the other girls had bruises. That nurse said "wow, you really are a bruiser. Eat vitamin K, that will help with bruising."

My ex wailed about my bruising regularly, although he gradually tried to strike me in places that would not be visible outside my clothing, like my upper arms, back, upper legs, back of my head. He especially liked to pull me around by clutches of my hair, which hurts like a motherfucker when it is happenin and hurts more for the days it takes your scap to heal. When clumps of hair are ripped off, the tear leaves little wounds in the scalpe and everytime I showered or crushed my hair, it hurt a lot. A whole lot. But that left 'invisible' wunds to my ex learned to like that.

I can remember describing my husband dragging me up three or four stairs in our multi-level home, dragging me up from the garage level to the living room. we had a small foyer level.  I don't remember how it got me on the ground. I suppose I was refusing to let him treat me in such demeaning fashion so he would grab me hard by the hair and jusst pull me down.

But one time, when telling Dr.  John about being dragged up those few stairs, I saw the absurdity in the scene. My pain wasn't absurd. My demaning, humiliating treatment by a man who had pledged beore God, in a sacrament, to love, honor and cherish me all the days of our lives. 

His bullying was absurd. His anger was absurd. His weak, limp-dick bullshit was aburd. Dragging a grown woman by her hair like one used to hear cavemen supposedly did to their women was absurd. It was funny.

It wasn't ha ha funny but laughing helped me cope. Laughter really is good medicine.

Now. . . .I have had some later difficult situations about which I have not been able to see the humor. I see no humour in my daughter's confounding choice to have nothing to do with me for the last fourteen years. I did not abuse her. Her father did. I sacrificed. I made choices to both protect her and shield her from knowing the truth. Now, I fear, her father has won her heart with lies. Quite a nightmarish catch-22. She opened up to him when she got to Cornell, as much because of my lifelong support for her dreams as because of her effort and she shut down to me. I don't know what he said to her and I never got to tell her the many things I had waited until she was an adult to tell her.

I find no humor in losing Rosie.

And I find no humor in losoing the friendship of my muse.

But I do find a lot of humour. Some days, every time I speak to people, I make them laugh. I like that aspect of my being.

And after 30+ years, I still love my long ago first therapist who recognzied and respected my humour.

He said "tree's humour saved her."

It did. I wish my humour might save me now. I am on an uptick but not a full blown upswing. I need an upswing. And I think I am close to finding it. Something big and wonderful have opened up.

Fingers crossed. Meditate, pray, affirm, love. Send me whatever positivity anyone reading has. I'm on the upswing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Patty Duke

My mom limited her children to one hour of television a day. She really disapproved of TV. She settled on what she called democracy to settle disagreements between my brothers and I when we decided what to watch during our daily hour. The limit did not apply when my dad was around and watching tv. We could watch as much as he did but my dad worked rotating shifts when I was fairly young and was often not home in the evenings.

I had one brother a year and a half older than me and an Irish twin less than a year younger than me. During the years Patty Duke was on tv, it was just me and the two bros. Later, when I was ten, my third bro came along and, later still, my fourth bro. Along the way my mom had two girls who were born premature, with undeveloped lungs and they died after very short lives. Mary Ann, my first sister, born when I was 7, died in two months. Catherine, born when I was 12, died after 8 days. 

Well, boring deets about the sibs, eh?  My sister, the one that survived her infancy, was born when I was 14.

During the shank of the Patty Duke viewing years, it was me and my then-two brothers voting on what to watch.

I tried to negotiate with my mom, pointing out that the boys could choose a separate hour of television from my choice. Mom rejected my proposal, saying, and she was very likely right, that my brothers would watch Patty Duke even if they had already had their allotted hour. And she believed, also rightly, that I would probably try to watch the boys' tv choices. Although I didn't always watch what my brothers picked. They picked some shows that had no interest to me. Cowboy shows, for example. Twilight Zone, which frightened me.

with love, the will can do anything

"Whatever I do, I do with the greatest love that I have in me. Try this, and you will see that you do not become fatigued at all. Love is one of the greatest stimulants to the will. Under the influence of love the will can do almost anything."
~ Paramhansa Yogananda

I don't know who the person who wrote this is.  I am fascinated how many people I know find themselves exploring non-western religions. Not that western anything is better than non-western, I am just fascinated.

I have no religion, only the spiritual science of Anthroposophy. Better than religion. And I don't know if Yogananda has a religion.

Living with the endless mystery of life. . . .

my courage always rises

"My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me."
~ Jane Austen

Monday, March 28, 2016

this is what my heart feels like . . . sometimes

Broken, torn asunder, beautiful.

Mending Wall

Mending Wall

By Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbours."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbours? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down." I could say "Elves" to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbours."

It's all over

Saturday, March 26, 2016

I could not understand another's pain© DRAFT

©For awhile, when I still practiced, I occasionally was appointed by judges to represent minors being removed from their parents custody, sometimes the parents whose children were being removed and sometimes parents having their parental rights terminated. When I first got divorced and lost my legal work for I had worked for my ex, I signed up with almost any list of court appointed legal work. It was always gut-wrenching work, irregardless of which party I represented. And in the cases I handled, I was, for the most part, going through the motions pro forma. In the state where I did this work, children did not get removed from their parents without true, just cause. And, most especially, the state did not terminate parental rights, freeing the child for possible adoption, lightly. Those parental right terminations broke everyone's hearts in the courtroom, including the attorneys handling the termination for the state.

Once, appointed to represent the parents of an that the state was proposing to remove from the parent's custody, I went to visit the family in their home, for doing so was part of my job, to see how they parents so I could represent the parents' interests. The parents already had six prior children and were overhwelmed and, according to child protection, had low IQs. Not bad people, but the child protection workers had been helping this family for a long time and they believed the new baby would overwhelm the parents, the whole family. Of course the parents cried piteously for me to help them keep their baby and of course I wanted to help them as best I could.  It was my duty to help the parents but after reviewing the Child Protection records that resulted in a recommendation that their parental rights of their latest baby be terminated, I was not exactly enthused to help.

The couple already had six children. Social workers had tried repeatedly to get them to use birth control but they didn't.  They had come to the attention of Child Protection because they were not caring for their children very well. Child Protection workers were convinced that the latest baby would overwhelm them, put all their children at risk.

Child Protection workers have hard jobs. In my experiences with CP workers, they all start out wanting to help families stay together. I never met a CP worker who was eager to remove a child from its parents. It's not easy to take a child way from its parents.  In a way, the legal system makes it harder than it probably should be. In the case of a helpless, dependent infant, the mother in me as well as the lawyer in me wanted to see CP err on the side of caution for the helpless babies. 

After reviewing the CP file backing up its petition to terminate the parental rights of my newly appointed clients, I wanted their parental rights terminated. I wanted to remove all their children from them. And this was a case of the parents being good people who were simply unable to take care of the many children they kept having. Both of them were on disability so their incomes were low. There was never enough money but children can be safe without much money. These parents simply did not have the capacity to take care of themselves, much less seven children.

Like most lawyers in that community, I did not like representing any party in child protection legal proceedings.  I didn't like representing the children or the parents. It was heartbreaking work with no winners, none I ever met.

When I arrived for the family visit, to see the situation for myself, I didn't see or hear the baby. I asked "Is Charlie sleeping?" And the parents said in unison, oh no, he's awake, wait a minute, where is he? Then they went into panic mode to find their two or three month old baby. I had just met them and it was their home so I stood awkwardly in the living room, allowing the parents to find that tiny baby. They found him. Almost suffocated until all the family coats. The whole household, in winter time, had thrown their coats on the baby, not even aware he had been on the sofa. And no one thought to check on the baby, even though they knew I was coming to evaluate the parenting situation.

Every time I repped parents facing the loss of their child or children, but esp. when parental rights were terminated (which I only handled a couple times -- gut wrenching work).

When I saw that infant barely breathing, I urged the parents to call for an ambulance or at least take the baby to an ER, just to be sure he was okay. They were unwilling to do so, already fearful about losing him. They were afraid to seek and accept any kind of help, afraid that anything such helpers learned about them could lead to them losing that baby and their other kids. It was a tragic loop of loss.

I don't know what happened to that baby in that family because an attorney representing another party (I repped either the parents or the baby and this other lawyer reppred the one I didn't rep) had a scheduling conflict and the hearing was postponed. By the time it was rescheduled, I had had a personal hearing of my own and obtained permission to remove my minor child from the jurisdiction of that state.

My most heartbreaking case: the drug addicted mother of infant twins. She had already lost three previous babies and had gotten pregnant deliberately to replace them. She got arrested for something and left them in the case of a drug addict buddy with one pack of diapers, a couple days of infant formula and set off for a 3 month jail sentence. The guy with the babies turned them over, for he was not able to provide for them. I got that woman an apartment, furniture and got her on AFDC (before Bill Clinton changed welfare as we know it), knowing the whole time that there was no way my client was going to get to keep her infant twins, two baby boys.

Her primal scream in the family court hearing room when the judge said her parental rights were terminated still rips through me as I recall it. I tried to comfort her but who can console someone who is basically a stranger over such a grievous loss. I was glad those babies were safe. Being infants, they had higher odds of being adopted, which factored heavily into terminating the mother's parental rights: the idea behind the termination was to give those babies a chance as well as to insure their wellbeing.

I met the mother for our first consultation in the mental ward of the local hospital. She spoke to me like a panicked, caged animal, screaming "please promise me you will save my babies, I lost the others, I can't take it if I lose these, please promise me you will save my babies for me" I told her I would do my best but I knew she would lose them. She did not participate in my frantic efforts to set up a household for her and those babies. She could not take care of herself. As I rushed around arranging a home for her and her infants, I knew everything I did would not stave off that termination. So did that mother, I think, but she was a mother. With no reason to have faith that she'd get to keep her babies, she seemed to magically believe she would, that I had some kind of power to save her from that loss.

The attorneys representing child protection and the CP staff recommending the termination of parental rights consoled me on my legal loss. It was so odd, that I was consoled while that broken, shattered mother wailed just a few feet away. She had shrugged off my attempt to comfort her and just keened away. The judge had left the bench as soon as he declared his decision and we attorneys all trailed out. My law office was just across the street from that courthouse. I left my client in the courtroom because she asked me to leave her alone. as I reflect on these memories, I realize she had absolutely no support system, having burned it all off long ago as she grew more and more lost into addiction. By the time I got back to my office, I concluded, she was probably already high or on her way to scoring her next high.

I felt no judgment as I believed that woman would go out and get high. I felt some guilt and shame that I felt as bad as I did. If my heart was breaking over her loss, I told myself, I could not begin to understand her pain.

drugs for keith

write about the hospice care, going to pharmacy in snow storm only to be told the doc had ommitted his fed script number so driving to suburban hospital to get another script and driving back to drug store, all in a blizzard. and about taking Keith to ER that one time.  . . . . . 
how after all that, when I entered the house of my friends who was hosting Keith and he was sitting by the fire with my little girl at his feet and talking to my best friend, I burst in and exclaimed "you wouldn't believe what I've just had to do" and Keith said "Would you be quiet?  You just came in here and interrupted the first pleasant moments I had had all day."  He had spent the whole day with me, me only going out to get his narcotics and leaving my daughter, who had not yet had her dinner, behind to spare her the snow storm ride and to speed up the trip. It wasn't my fault the federal doctor prescription permit number had been left off the script.

Friday, March 25, 2016

I am enough of an artist to know this

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
― Albert Einstein

the best gift he ever received

One time, a few years ago, I became aware of a painting that captured a wonderful event someone I knew had put on. He and his partner got the city of SF to let them block off a city street and hold a neighborhood assembly.  I did not participate in the event because he did not invite me.  Long after the event was held, the artist who created an assemblage representing the street assembly posted it on this guy's FB page, which is how I learned the painting existed.

Since it was over a year after the event, as soon as I saw it I knew no one connected to the event was gonna buy it. Plus it was posted on my birthday. So I concluded the artist would take more than his $600 asking price which, given his low quality artistic techique was a high price. I concluded I'd save up $300 and offer the artist $300. I knew it would take me at least six months to save up $300, and it did, but that reinforced my belief that the artist would take less. If he still had it six months later, he'd be glad to sell it. And he was. The artist accepted my offer.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I love to swim laps

This week swimming is especially lovely because UC is on spring break. The pool is almost empty. It is so lovely to have a lane all to myself.

When I arrived around 6:30 p.m. this evening, the end of the pool designated for slow swimmers like me was full of tangled lane ropes. So some slow swimmers were swimming short laps and also swimming around the tangle of floating, unanchored ropes.

I went down to the fast end of the pool and told a lifeguard in front of an empty fast lane that I am a slow swimmer but it is wrong to treat the slow end so shabbily. Fix the lanes, I suggested. In the mean time, I told him, I'm swimming here.  I knew I didn't need his permission. I can swim wherever I want. I talked to the lifeguard in case some fast swimming jock came along to harass me, which happens sometimes, even when I swim in the slow lanes. I have had fast swimming jocks tell me I swim so slow I don't deserve to be in the pool, to which I usually respond by quoting my monthly fee to swim there and remind them that UC students like them get to use the entire sports-recreation center, including all the pools, for only ten bucks a month.

The lifeguard said "No worries."  I said "I'm not worried. I'm all paid up and have a right to swim." Then I jumped in. When I surfaced, he said "I mean no worries with me. Swim where you want."

Like I thought. But he was forewarned, able to fend off a macho man -- it is always a jock male who tries to jockey me around at the pool. Fast women just move to another lane. Jock males, accustomed to male entitlement (lots of Asians at UC, lots of Asian swim jocks   ..).

Eventually they fixed the lane lines at the slow end and I moved over a lane or two at a time until I got back down to the slow end.

It is lovely to have a lane all to myself as I did today. Next week, the lanes will be like rush hour at 6:30 and I'll go back to swimming at noon, which is also rush hour but full sun. I love swimming in bright sunlight.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

questions for men

I gave many of my sex partners blow jobs even though I never particularly enjoyed them. And only one old partner ever went down on me. My ex-husband told me that if I needed more than his missionary in and out, like him touching me 'down there', there had to be something wrong with me. I was such a dope. I put up with that bullshit. He was such a knucklehead that until I got pregnant and it became too late for me to get the abortion he demanded I get, because I wouldn't get one, and he started haranguing me that I better not give him a daughter, that he only wanted a son, he did not know that male sperm determines a baby's gender, that eggs are all neutral until sperm arrives. For real, he did not know some birds and bees basics.

He never asked me for a blow job. I gave him some oral sex anyway but not enthusiastically. If he wouldn't give it to me, I wasn't going to give it to him. And to demonstrate the quality of our relationship, I was afraid to talk to him about my past with men giving me oral sex because he would have hounded the hell out of me. He knew I wasn't a virgin but he liked believing I had had sex with very few men. He never asked. I never told.

Now I wish I had asked all my sex partners along my path in life how they feel about blow jobs. I've never asked a man. I've given them when they seemed to want them. My first h.s. boy friend shoved my face at his crotch and I figured out what to do. Then he told me I was a slut and dumped me. That animal did not go down on me either. He hated how smart I was and he paid my older brother to take his ACT. His grades were so low colleges were resisting giving him a football scholarship. He was a bruising tackle and ended up going to a Big 8 school. Is there still a Big 8? I don't know and I don't need to. Fuck football. Anesthesia for the masses, another show like the Trumpf for president show. Don't look at the man behind the curtain, just look at the screen folks.

I never talked to men, sexual partners, about what they liked when we had sex, nor did they ask me.

Except one very attractive man, several years older than me, who was in Minneapolis for business for a few days. We met on the train from Chicago and spent three great days in bed. He gave me lots of oral sex. He liked to wake me up that way. After he had awoken me twice by giving me oral sex, but slowly and gloriously working his way 'up' to it, kissing and licking me all over, slowly and sensually. What a great way to be awakened. After a couple times, entirely understandably, he said "ou know, I'd like you to do something like this to me."  I said "Oh, I'm sorry, I have never had sex like this. Tell me what to do." A great lover, that guy.  I know he liked blow jobs because he told me so and he more than earned them. A few other partners put my hand on their male member or shoved my face but no guy ever volunteered oral sex except that business man who canceled a couple days' worth of meetings because we were having such a good time in my aw school apartment. I also cut class.

Blow jobs have been on my mind. Sex is on my mind. Love and romance are on my mind. And, always and forever for me, sex is only hot for me these days if it is with a loving commitment, good communication and a consciously loving relationship. A tall order that will never be filled.


But, seriously, I'd like to be able to ask some men about blow jobs, what they like, why they like what they like. And what else do they like?

And this:  are men sexual in the way men are presented as sexual on tv shows, in the movies and in comedy routines?  Chris Rock makes it seem like sex is all about blow jobs for him. Is that one of his schticks or is that he real idea of loving, committed, and hot sex?

Ten years ago, a guy I never dated but who I love as a friend still, asked me if I would date a guy with erectil dysfunction. Of course, I told him. If I loved someone, that would not matter to me at all. There are lots of ways to have a good time togehter physically.  It took me a couple yeears to realize maybe that guy was tenatively feeling me out for my interst in him. I was hot damm attracted to him but I was still smitten with my 'muse'. These two men were business partners and I just didn't see how I could have a dating relationsip and sexual affair with my muse's partner and be fair to his partner. The guy with ED deserved someone who felt about him the way I used to feel about my muse.   Right?

notes to slf

write about that time I housesat for maggie for 3 weeks -- the cat screaming at 4 a.m. maggie saing if the cat is shitting on carpet you are pissing her off

family dogs©

©My third brother, Tom, had a dog named Schulz. Schulz was a testament to our father's deep, overt favoritism for Tom. When me, Chuck and Joe had been little, Chuck and Joe begged for a dog and got one. Then my dad asked his father, grandpa, to get rid of it when we were out on a picnic. My dad hated dogs.

My dad would have done anything in his power for his favorite son, Tom, so when Tom wanted a dog, he got one. Schulz.

I don't know what kind of dog Schulz was. I believe he was a mix of breeds. He was not small, not big. He was dark brown. He a schnauzer kind of body but he was bigger than a schnauzer. I should give up describing Schulz. I don't know dogs.

When our parents divorced, my dad had insisted on keeping custody of then seven year old Tom. I think my mother was cruel to go along. Dad didn't use a lawyer so he had no way to enforce his demand. I believe my mom left Tom behind so she could just take her two youngest children and pass herself off as younger than she was. Seriously. She told me that when she first married her second husband, a guy she dated before she filed to divorce my dad while preaching her Catholic faith to the day she died, she didn't lie about her age but she let folks wrongly believe 'the babies', age 4 and 7, were her only children. This likely also explains why she didn't tell me where my babies were, for I had spent more time with her babies than she had and then they disappeared. For over a year, I had no idea where my mom or my babies were. We found out after my dad hired a detective to find them. I was starting college as mom left but, geez, one day Tom had a mom and one day he didn't. One day he had a younger brother and sister, plus three older sibs heading to college and next day it was just him and our depressed dad. That was cold. And that's when Schultz arrived.

Schultz made sense. He made enough sense that none of the rest of us siblings complained that Tom got a dog when we had been denied one. We were all worried about Tom living alone with dad.

It surprised all of us when my dad developed a fondness for Schulz. Not being a pet lover myself, but not an idiot, I believe people do tend to develop bonds with dogs they live with. Not me. I have spent plenty of time in the same house as Schultz during summer college breaks, holidays and, later, visits from law school, yet I never bonded with Schultz. Still, I was pleased to see the pleasure that dog gave my brother and my dad.

When my older brother, Chuck, went to law school, he moved back into dad's house so he also moved in with Tom.

Chuck the fuck was always crazy.  I don't know what kind of crazy. He was mean. He was a bully but more than a bully, he liked to be cruel. Or maybe he couldn't stop himself. Not after he invented his own imaginary dog, Murgatroyd.

Murgatroyd was a Great Dane or a mastiff. Again I am fuzzy on dog types plus Murgatroyd was not real.  Murgatroyd lived in the closet, Chuck often told anyone who would listen, of Chuck's bedroom.

That Murgatroyd was about as nasty as Chuck. No surprise there, for Murgatroyd was Chuck's invention.  Murgatroyd, Chuck explained to poor Tom during the years Tom was trapped in that house with Chuck and Murgatroyd, would order Chuck to hit Tom. Chuck would apologize to Tom as he hit him however many times as Murgatroyd had ordered. While he beat on poor Tom, Chuck would rant on about Murgatroyd's instructions. He'd say things like "I don't want to hurt you but Murgatroyd says I have to."

Home for a visit after Murgatroyd's arrival, I was shocked and concerned. I was concerned for Tom, of course, but also for Chuck. I didn't know much about mental illness but it seemed seriously wrong for Chuck to pretend he had an imaginary dog and then pretend that the dog had ordered him to hit Tomy, who was just a little kid. And a sweet kid. I had received the message all my life that Chuck was just fine no matter how cruel he was to me or anyone. So I had grown up wrongly believing my parents knew something I didn't about what constituted normal.

Now I know my parents were probably not all that sane. My longtime therapist, Jane, once told me she got the impression that my parents were each very damaged. Then she said "And then, on top of being very damaged, having a child like you would be really scary to such damaged people. You were brilliant, highly intuitive and you caught everything, even if you didn't understand it from an adult perspective. You probably scared the shit out of your parents."  Jane never suggested I probably also scared the shit out of Chuck the fuck but I probably did. I have learned that many men are scared of powerful women. I have also learned that I did not always self-regulate my power as well as I can, as I now do.

I don't remember a single negative interaction with my brother Tom.  Later, when I had a daughter, Tom was endearing with her. I'll never forget watching six feet plus Tom teaching tiny tot Rosie how to do somersaults in my dad's living room. Tom did somersaults over and over and over, and then tenderly coached Rosie to do them over and over. It was also funny to watch long, lanky, stick-thin Tom rolling over, his arms and legs all sticking out but he was somersaulting.  Tom had also been very tender with our baby sister when he was still a child himself. He was nearly always the one who insisted on riding with her on rides at amusement parks. He felt, even at age 10, that he was the person best to truth with our baby. This meant Tom went on a lot of 'baby' rides but he doted on the baby so it was fine. And I doted on Tom and my sister on those rides. If Tom hadn't ridden with her, it would have been me. I love it that Tom insisted, chilvarously and so different from our eldest brother, on protecting his little sister. I could have used a Tom when I was a tiny tot myself!

I talked to my dad about my concerns about Murgatroyd. Dad said the same thing he had always said to me, or Joe, and then Tom, about Chuck's abusive bullying. Dad would shrug, sometimes waive his hands in a way that seemed to indicate his helplessness and say "Would can I do?"

once, in response to dad saying that, I said "You could act like a parent, take care of Tom, tell Chuck he can't hit Tom if he wants to go on living here. There's lots you could do, Dad."

Dad was furious at my words. He roared in anger, told me to shut up, mind my own business and said "You were always like this. You've always had it in for Chuck."

Life is full of mystery. We all live with endless dissonance. One of the greatest dissonances in my childhood was my parents' resolute unwillingness to even try to do something about my clearly disturbed older brother.

When Chuck would beat on little Tom because Murgatroyd had ordered him to do so, Chuck kept Schulz out of his bedroom, which is where he did his beating.

It wasn't full blown beatings, as Chuck sometimes explained when he would pace up and down the length of our house, talking to himself out loud. He did that talking and pacing thing a lot, also.  In hindsight, I see how crazy his behavior was. Heck, I saw it was crazy at the time but had less frames of references for it.  Chuck said "I don't hit him very hard, just enough to please Murgatroyd. Murgatroyd just wants to order me around and I have to obey him but he doesn't really want me to hurt Tom seriously."

When we first moved into the large, sprawling house that I grew up in (the house had 14 rooms), on the very first day, with my mom inside unpacking and I sent outside to play, I got on Chuck's tricycle and began to ride it down the gangway, the cement walkway alongside our house from the back yard to the front. My parents had said the trike was for sharing but Chuck considered it his. He wasn't around.  I was uneasy in a new neighborhood. I only intended to ride the trike up and down the gangway, turning it around with each lap, because I had been told I could not leave our property. Technically the gangway was outside of the backyard but, I reasoned at age four, which is how old I was when we moved into that house, if I stopped at the front edge of the house and turned the trike around, I was not technically leaving 'the back' yard for at that point, I had not yet entered the front.

I rode up and down that gangway a few times before Chuck realized I was on 'his' tricycle. He came over and ordered me to get off. I, stoically, tried to keep going. I was headed towards the front of the house. I called out loudly for help, hoping, futilely, that my mom might intervene or Mrs. Farkas, the nice lady who lived alongside that same gangway might say something to Chuck.

Instead,  a short, plump, dark-haired woman appeared, angrily yelling at Chuck to stop hitting me. She pulled him off me.

I loved my new neighborhood. I instantly developed the fantasy that the woman, Mrs. Vacco, whose son Frankie was Chuck's age and whose daughter Rosemary became our date-night babysitter, was always going to save me. For a short while, whenever Chuck picked on me outside, I shout as loudly as I could, hoping my avenging angel Mrs. Vacco would save me.

Mrs. Vacco only saved me that one time. After she pulled Chuck off me, she marched around to the front, went up to our front door, knocked and talked to my mother, helpfully informing mom that her son was beating up on her daughter. I don't know what mom said but Mrs. Vacco must have decided to mind her own business going forward.

I held out my fantasy that Mrs. Vacco might save me again for a long time.

Within a year or two, my younger brother Joe had grown bigger than Chuck and Joe put an end to Chuck beating on me.

I remembered that I had Joe as my protector when Murgatroyd was ordering Chuck to hit Tomy. Other than pleading with my father to do something to protect Tom, I saw nothing I could do. All my brothers are big men, all at least six inches taller than me. Additionally, Chuck's total scorn for me gave me absolutely no moral authority with him. I did mention to Chuck that I thought he should not hit Tom. I even once worked up my courage to suggest it seemed crazy to me that Chuck believed an imaginary dog in his closet was ordering him to hit Tom. To that, Chuck would respond that he knew Murgatroyd wasn't real. And then Chuck would go on doing as he pleased, as he always had.

I haven't seen Chuck since our father's funeral in the late eighties.  I hear things about him. He retried as a judge a few years ago. His sons did not go to college. He quit smoking after chainsmoking for decades. I do not hear about his real life or any irrational behavior, which doesn't mean Chuck has become normal. I hear very little about him.  None of my siblings have kept in touch with him so none of us hears much.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I want to live in this place

I took his hand

"When I Met My Muse" by William Stafford

I glanced at her and took my glasses
off--they were still singing.
 They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
 Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent.
 I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched.
 "I am your own
way of looking at things," she said.
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation."
 And I took her hand.

I met my muse just over ten years ago. For a long time - way too long - I confused my muse with the man who was in front of me when I met my muse.  I have tried to talk to the man, to acknowledge my mistakes about him and towards him, but he will not give me that gift. So then I let myself get trapped into confusing, once again, the man with the muse, focusing on how I could not let go of his cold, unfriendly ghosting, without  the sweet honey of making amends and, ideally, for me, parting with a semblance of friendship. He agreed to have that make amends conversation but 2.5 years later, he continues to rebuff my requests to have it.  I have to let him go. Well, he's gone. I have to let go of wanting his sweet honey.

Now I see that his unwillingness to show me simple human kindness is all about him. I also realize I have no understanding of why he makes the choices he does.

Most importantly, I did meet my must ten or so years ago and my muse remains with me.

Every glance at the world is, with my muse lighting my way, a sort of salvation.  Oh, that's why I am here. Oh, that is what I must do. Oh, that is who I am.

My way of looking at things is perfectly right. For me. Only for me. I only have to 'be' right for me.

the right side is my experience

Sunday, March 13, 2016

our homesickness is our only guide

We have to stumble through so much dirt and humbug before we reach home. And we have no one to guide us. Our only guide is our homesickness. --Hermann Hesse

I walk the line

Saturday, March 12, 2016

swim, meditate, love myself

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this too, was a gift.
~ Mary Oliver

I think I posted this quite recently but it is up for me.  My daughter gifted me a box full of darkness in 2001. In the early years of that darkness, I was a limp rag, barely able to function.  I made multiple suicide attempts. Then I got very serious in my last attempt, in 2003. I was resolutely determined to take my life. The ER doctor told me it was impossible for me to have taken what I took and then survived until I was, quite inadvertently, discovered the next day.

I was put into a psych ward for a 72 hour hold. It was a holiday weekend so it became five days, because some kind of administrative judge (a psychiatrist) had to determine I could be released.

Something about those five days set me on a right path.  I sized my situation up. I realized there was nothing the stsaff could do to me if I expressed as much of my intense anger as I could try to express. I wasn't psychotic, so violence was never a concern.  Until that day, I had rarely acknowledged the inchoate anger I felt a lot. I've had a lot of sucky things happen to me that I won't go into now. I don't need to, which is progress.

But this loss has wave after wave.  I can go long stretches where I am okay and then the undertow of grief pulls me down, the waves can seem endless. Dark dark dark dark. Then darker.

The past six to eight months, I have been almost paralyzed in depression.  I've been depressed a lot, it's an old friend. My only lifelong friend. But this lastest bout really has been deeper and darker.  I have gone days without eating, aware I feel starving sensations but not caring enough to move. I have gone days in which my only movement was to go to the toilet, refill my water bottles that I keep at my side and inject insulin.

That insulin is a sneaky thing. People who don't care at all about themselves don't bother to inject insulin. Yeah, for us type ones, even when I starve myself, I have to inject. My body makes no insulin and if I don't inject some, I get sick. When I am very depressed, I don't mind feeling sick but, another kicker associated with insulin:  if I am going to stay alive, I don't want to expeirence the complications that come with neglecting my diabetes care. Blindness, food amputations (my baby bro just had to have a toe amputated last week!), strokes, heart attacks. I wouldn't mind if a stroke, heart attack or throwing a clot (unrelated to diabetes but also a health challenge of mine) if it would take me out. I am so ready to leave this life. More than ready.

Here's my problem. My failed 2003 'serious' "determined" attempt convinced me I was not supposed to die.  I don't fear facing any kind of religioius consequences. I don't think suicide is a sin. and, somewhat fortuitously, I have a couple friends who are totally in harmony with the idea that suicice is not wrong, just another choice.  This might be weird for some but it is very comforting to be able to talk about taking my life to someone who loves me, listens with love and does not judge.

Most people judge. Or think they have to fix something. Or run away as fast as they can, afraid to get involved with a crazy person. Afraid of being asked to face some hard shadow work, to witness my shadow work, not theirs, of course.

In the past couple months, as always happens eventually, something has shifted.   I'm swimming regularly again, getting plenty of exercise and eating carefully. No more starvation days.

I used to wonder how my daughter could starve herselef, which she did very seriously as a teen. She had to be hospitalized more than once for anorexia. And I did see her, briefly and in an awful situation, last winter. She sure looks like, just as her first anorexia therapist toild us, anorexia is like alcoholism, a lifelong challenge. She looked thinner than when I had hospitalized her for starving herself.

Back in the nineties, when I still had a duaghter, I wondered how she could just go so long without eating. The eating disorder therapists, like the ones at family therapy and at our one on one sessions with her therapist, said it is a lifelong challenge. Based on what she looked like last February, she's still anorexic.


On the days I starved myself, not to be thin, but because I didn't care about myself enough to walk into the next room and pick up a piece of food, I would feel my body craving nourishment and feel in control.  I wonder if she feels control when she starves herself and tightly controls what she eats.

I don't think she'll ever talk to me about her eating disorder. Or anything else. And I don't have one.

And I am not suicidal. Someone who tests her glucose six times a day even on starve days and who inject insulin as needed, based on the glucose testing, is not suicidal.

Glucose testing and insulin injecting gave me away.

But something has happened, as something always does, inside me. Or would that be outside? Where do we begin and end? inner to outer, outer to inner. 

I've been peeling off layers of self delusion. I've been seeing parts of my past life with a new clarity, new insight.  I've been meeting myself more and more fully.

And I have remembered what I did, what I changed, when I was a limp rag fourteen eyars ago and did not want to live.

First, I went swimming. Second, I renewed my meditation practice. And now I have a third task:  I am outlining a novel. I am no longer going to write stuff like this or longer memoir pieces. I have writing ability. I am going to plot a novel. And then grind it out, stick to the outline, work many hours daily.

I used to know someone who described studying for years to decide what to do his Stanford doctoral dissertation on. He was also living his life and sometimes his work was not his top priority.  When he finally settled on a dissertation topic, he once told me, he got up and wrote for several hours every morning, day after day, until it was done.

That's what I am doing with my novel. Outline. Then hours daily writing, craning it out, good, bad, mediocre, great. Just knock it out.

And then more.

And swim, meditate, love myself.

this is very painful

I am stuck stuck stuck.
I am in hellacious hell.
I am stuck where
I am absolutely sure
I do not belong.

My work:  asking to be shown my way forward, my next step.

a very thick shadow: I'm conscious of mine

We are still certain we know what other people think or what their true character is.
We are convinced that certain people have all the bad qualities we do not know in ourselves.
If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick shadow.
Such a man has saddled himself with new problems and conflicts. He has become a serious problem to himself, as he is now unable to say that they do this or that, they are wrong, and they must be fought against…
Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow he has done something real for the world.
He has succeeded in shouldering at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic, unsolved social problems of our day.

If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections,

then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick shadow.

Terry Lectures, 1937
Psychology and Religion
Collected Works 11

Carl Jung on how ALL project

Just as we tend to assume that the world is as we see it, we
naively suppose that people are as we imagine them to be. . .

All the contents of our unconscious are constantly being projected
into our surroundings, and it is only by recognizing certain
properties of the objects as projections or imagos that we are able
to distinguish them from the real properties of the objects. . .

Cum grano salis, we always see our own unabowed mistakes in our

Excellent examples of this are to be found in all personal quarrels.

Unless we are possessed of an unusual degree of self awareness we
shall never see through our projections but must always succumb
to them, because the mind in its natural state presupposes the
existence of such projections.
It is the natural and given thing for unconscious contents to be

General Aspects of Dream Psychology
Paragraph 507
Carl Jung

this has me thinking

Although it is possible to join sex to love, they are intrinsically unrelated. Sexuality can accompany love, but has nothing to do with its pure, original, nature.
Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 143 – Erfahrungen des √úbersinnlichen/Die drei Wege der Seele zu Christus – Cologne, 8 May 1912 (page 184)
Anonymous translator

"Intrinsically unrelated" . . . this has me thinking

Friday, March 11, 2016

a sunlit silence in my pool

Today it was cold, intermittently raining. I love swimming in cold rain. All the outdoor pools are heated here. The water is not heated all that warm but on a cold day, it feels warm when you jump in. Today was especially lovely for swimming because it rained heavily on my short walk to the pool but by the time I got through the locker room, goggled up and ready to swim, there was a sunlit silence (to steal from the great poet Ted Roethke). The pool almost empty, probably a combo of final exams just before spring break and the cold rain. Few swimmers would have guessed that the sun would dazzle at 12:30. Yet the sun dazzled.
A great, great work out. Not just my body; my whole being was lit.
I often plan to move back to the Midwest. I think the Midwest has vastly superior art museums, as it happens. And I don't mind frigid winters, not even the MN ones. I don't think I can go back to swimming laps indoors. Sometimes, and usually on a day like today when the pool is nearly empty and its cold out of the water but the sun has broken through, I swear I feel the earth rocking as it orbits around the sun. I can't give that up gentle rocking.

Other times, there is other magic to behold while swimming. Sometimes, on clear days when it is not overcast but the sun is not in my eyes, I swear I can faintly discern the way this big old ship we all live on is moving, how the stars that I cannot see in daylight are out there also moving. I feel cosmic movement.

I regularly berate myself for not spending enough time in nature. And I often wish I had a car to drive around some of this beautiful state I have not really explored, so I could walk in different woods and meadows and feel all kinds of life all around me, as I am sometimes able to do in nature.

I should stop berating myself. My outdoor swimming keeps me in close energetic connection to this planet, this universe, the stars, the sun, the moon.

I love swimming.  This picture, which I posted on this blog on Jan 22nd, captures my daily swims.

my arms are barking

I love swimming. I always have. Sometimes I fall out of the habit but I always return to lap swimming.

I think moving the body is essential to people's wellbeing, not just physical health. I think moving one's body keeps one's 'chi' or energy moving.

I think yoga and qigong and other movements are beneficial but I also think people should realize that exercise is a way to move one's chi too.

I often do qigong in the pool. Many giqong practitioners tell me that is not possible. I do not say much in response. I know when I am moving my chi when I do qigong and when I move my chi in the pool.

My qigong master taught me that although there are physical movements to move my chi, my chi is really moved by my mind moving through my body in certain patterns. I do this in the pool. Not always.

Right not, my upper arms are feeling a bit of a burn. I am pushing myself to swim harder, to get my heart rate going more. I swim very slow, which is still great, especially for my knees. But harder workouts are a goal, not a hard pressing goal but a goal. I guess I successfully worked out a little harder today.

My arms are barking.

el ingenioso hildalgo, don quixote de la mancha

on Margaret Atwood, dystopian future visions & utopian ones

One of my writing idols is Margaret Atwood. I read her magnum opus, The Handmaid's Tale, when it was first published in 1985. It seared me. The writing is brilliant, of course, but her piercing vision of possible human futures is what seared me. In Handmaid, she included small glimpses of an alternative, non-dystopian future. In her later books,

Thursday, March 10, 2016

on getting wet and being a dope

I don't mind getting wet. It can be dangerous in frigid below zero weather. Then wet socks can be treacherous. But here, I get wet, I feel cold, then I get to, eventually, take a hot shower, put on clean dry clothes and be reminded I am alive in a body.

If I get wet going somewhere and have to sit around awhile before heading home to my hot shower and dry clothes, I pack a sweater inside a plastic bag inside my ever-present backpack or messenger bag, also an extra pair of dry socks in plastic.

Even with raingear, with some of our recent rains, I get wet inside the raingear but I kinda like feeling wet, which, to me, reminds me I am alive and feeling the world.

And umbrellas puzzle me. I have never owned one. As I walk on crowded sidewalks in SF, sometimes, dodging umbrellas so they don't poke my eye out and usually this is when it is moist and not really raining. . . .

Once a guy came to Berkeley and we went out to dinner. He was on a motorcycle and there were foreasts of late evening rain.  He had brought rain gear for his motorcycle but he still fretted about heading home before the rain. Finally I said "Well, you could always stay at my place" although he only lived 3 miles away, "if you don't want to get wet."

He said "She's trying to seduce me."

I am very shy when it comes to sex. I don't think I have ever seduced a man I was not already in a committed relationship with.  Old fashioned? Neurotic?

I said "I have never seduced a man. I have guest accommodations."

He said "What if I go home and it rains?"

And I said "You'll get wet."  I wanted to add "And when you get home, you can take a hot shower, put on warm dry clothes and remember you are alive."

It wasn't until long after that I thought maybe he was flirting.  Maybe he was hoping I'd ask him to stay over. I would have loved to have him spend the night but he needed to ask. Maybe that was his way of asking. but this thought did not float into my lizard brain until a year or two afterwards. And maybe I just retroactively imagined he was flirting.  I don't get flirting.

If he was waiting for me to make the first move, he had the wrong gal.

We finished that dinner. I owed him $7 so I paid $7 of his part of the bill. If it was supposed to have been a date, I didn't get the memo.

He made it home, safe and dry. And we never hooked up. Ever. I wish we had and but I am also glad we didn't.  I would never have been able to bear losing him if we had been lovers.

Living in ambiguity.

I need kindness

I have been unkind, of course, but I don't think I am an unkind person.

I need kindness right now, perhaps even more than I need air and water.

I am parched in many ways, excrutiating ways.

which gate of hell?

I need to reread my Faust so I might ascertain which gate of hell I am trapped in just now.

I am experiencing excruciating emotional pain.

At times, but not for a very long time, I have shared with someone that I felt excrutiating pain. I remember very specifically the last time I shared that with someone. He responded by chiding me, telling me he was sure I was exaggerating. I wasn't. His telling me I had to be exaggerating wasn't excrutiating but mostly because I was already in excrutiating pain.

When I was in treatment at UW, my brilliant therapist Melanie told me that until she treated me. she had not known anyone with my disorder to experience such intense emotional pain. I moved away shortly after she said that. If I had been able to keep seeing her, I would have challenged her on that.  It has been my consistent life experience that my experiences, while uniquely mine, tend to be in the same range as other humans.  If my therapist had never had a patient before me that experience excrutiating emotional pain, maybe she did not know that patient very well.

I made a decision when I entered BPD treatment. I decided I would be as honest as I could possibly be with my therapist. I believed that being as open with her as I could be was my only salvation.

She helped me. She showed me how to manage even the most excrutiating pain. But it takes people. I have no people.

So which gate of hell is about intense isolation and no others.

Or am I simply in hell now, and hell is being all alone?

a toe amputation

My baby brother has Type two diabetes. All my brothers have diabetes.

Dave is not the baby in our family. We had a baby sister, who is living in Shanghai these days.

I have four brothers and they all have diabetes.

So did my dad and a maternal grandmother so it runs in the family. So far, I am the only type one.

My dad had lots of foot problems and so did my mother. I won the good feet lottery. I see a foot doctor annually because foot problems can escalate quickly for diabetes and lead to amputations. My doctors tell me I have the feet of a twenty six year old.

When I met my current endocrinologist, I had just seen my foot doc but she insisted on looking at my feet, following her new diabetic patient protocol, I guess. So she looked at my bare feet and said "You really do have the feet of a twenty six year old."

Last winter, I visited my baby brother in Chicago. I saw that he has curled up hammer toes that have wounds most of the time because no shoes can fit his feet. Our dad had those hammer toes. And our mom had serious bunion issues. My baby brother got both, hammertoes and bunions. But he doesn't buy health insurance and he does not get adequate health care.  The last time I saw him, he had to wrap his toes up every day. And at the end of each day, his feet were bloody.  I knew his foot wounds were a serious consideration for a diabetic but I held my tongue. He's an adult. I can't solve his problems and nagging wouldn't help.

This is my baby brother, my best brother, and, in a meaningful way, he was my first baby. He was born when I was ten and I spent every minute I wasn't in school tending my baby brother. Our mom never really liked tending babies. As the only girl in the family at that time (my sister not born until I was 14 and I was her primary caregiver except when I was in school). My parents often let me take the car to school so I could hurry to the day care provider to get my baby sister. Our mom was going to college by then and working part time to pay her tuition. Mom's college effort only worked with my childcare, housecare, laundry services and weekday dinner prep. Girl's work back then so my four brothers, some of them too young back then to do household chores, had to take out the trash, a boy job.

I ramble.

pig pen mud baths

When I was a child, I spent a lot of time most summers on my aunt and uncle's farm. My aunt was my mom's sister. My aunt and uncle had one child, a girl.  I was shipped off for multiple reasons, and I imagine the adults thought they were all good for me.

I got to spend time on a farm, a real working farm actually in the country surrounded by endless farms in Indiana, just a few hours from my home in Chicago.

I got to spend time with my cousin. This was only okay. My cousin could be a great companion but she could also be really unkind to me. A year younger than me, once she got to school age (it was better when she was younger), she frequently informed me that I was there to be her playmate and under her orders. Her mother had had several miscarriages and doted on my cousin fiercely. And they spoiled her rotten, in my informed opinion. She seemed to always get her way, especially if I was involved her giving her what she wanted. I always had to play what she wanted to play. She used to actually tell me I was there for her, like a summer job, and I had to do what she wanted.

I had no recourse. Her doting mother never, not once in my recollection, told my cousin she could not bully, hit or nag me.  When I tried to seek support from my aunt when my cousin was behaving particularly unkindly towards me, it seemed my aunt did not hear me.

My uncle was a smidge better but he worked on the farm all day and in a factory all night because he did not make a living on the farm. He did not own his farm. His father owned several farms all adjacent to one another, with each farmhouse inhabited by one of my uncle's many siblings. My uncle even had a couple siblings near my age, one my age exactly. Maggie. Maggie was all right. As I got older, I crossed over to Maggie's house and farm as much as I could get away with, although my cousin always, sooner or alter, whined that I was there for her and it was my job to, not just play but to obey my cousin.

So lots of the time during those summer sojourns, I felt abused and picked on.

But a farm is a magical place for any child to spend time and not even my bullying cousin could erase that magic.

The tree outside the room I slept in was a huge mulberry tree that was taller than the two story house. Picking mulberries, stuffing ourselves with them, getting purple faces and hands with them, was pure joy.

The string of those same-family farms had milk cows, but now on the farm my aunt and uncle lived on. The cows were houses and milked at one of my uncle's uncle's farm.

My uncle's farm house pigs and, when I was getting near high school age, chickens.

My aunt and uncle fought about money a lot. My aunt yelled at us kids not to eat too much. I remember feeling guilty at most suppers, guilty that with each bite I was risking my aunt's economic survival.  The only time we weren't berated not to eat too much was when Rosie, my cousin's grandmother, was harvesting from her huge kitchen garden.

All the kids on those farms had to weed and tend that kitchen garden at some point. I loved that. I loved Rosie.  I loved hanging out at Rosie's house.

My uncle had a sister, Jane, who had had polio in childhood and was wheelchair bound. Rosie almost never left her house. There were no ramps. Some of her many adult brothers and the many farmhands hired as needed during key harvest times were all fed by Rosie. .   and this would make for some nic e short stories that would be fun to write but I want to write about my mud paths. My cousin and my mudbaths.

Maybe the pigs came along when the family group of farmers pooled resources and built a chicken barn. It was a chicken barn stacked with small cages in which the chickens live their entire lives. I think they could hop out of the cages in those days, on that farm, but they rarely did.  Sometimes my cousin and I, or, more likely, Maggie and I, would be assigned the task of collecting eggs, which often were only to be found underneath the chickens who probably thought they were brood hens and nesting on eggs that would become their baby chicks. Nope. No roosters around. These chickens' lives were only about egg farming, not chicken farming after all.

I was a lousy egg harvester. The chickens would often peck at my hands when I reached for an egg. Maggie was very good at this job. She had done it much more than I did, living there year round and all. She moved her hand under a chicken so fast the chicken didnt see her hand. Sometimes the chicken felt the egg being moved and pecked her but Maggie was used to the pecks. It wasn't so much that the hen pecking hurt me:  it startled me, so I approached the eggs lunkishly, alerting chickens to my presence and intentions so they pecked at me to keep their egg, to keep what they wrongly believed was their baby, I guess.

So egg harvesting was out for me.

Then my cousin and I were given some task related to the pigs. I am fuzzy on our chore. We always had chores on those farms. One of my favorites was harvesting wheat. A good short story there. I also liked baling hay. Maggie and I were given a job I loved: the hay bales would be routed up to the lofts in the hay barn on a hay bale conveyor and then just fall off in stacks in the loft. Out job was to quickly pull the bales out of the piling bales and, as best we could, stack them. maggie and I could only lift one bale together, one on each end. And we could only stack them three or four high. When we had all the loft area we were working on stacked as high as we could stack, then and only then some men would appear to do the higher rows.

I quickly learned I was allergic to wheat. Or dust. Or something. My entire body would become covered in an itchy rash. I could have gotten out of helping with the hay baling. My mom had forbidden my aunt from letting me do it. But I loved doing it and would sneak off.  My aunt never really wanted me around.

And keep in mind, escaping my cousin to do fun farm stuff with Maggie and a bunch of friendly farm men was an everpresent goal.

For reasons I no longer remember, my cousin and I were given some pig task. Maybe we put out food for them? Maybe we were to add water to their pig mud baths?

She and I loved to soak in the muddy pig baths, fully aware, because of the odor, that they contained more than mud. They contained pig shit and pit piss.  We dove into that shit, literally. and we combed the bottom of every mud hole, and there were about half a dozen, to find rocks that we would stack up and eventually rinse off, hoping to find a beauty. We never found any beauties but we never quite gave up the quest to find a beauty. The quest was the fun?

Heck, yeah, the quest to find beautiful rocks was how we rationalized our pig mud baths but we liked those mud baths for the same reason the pigs did. They cooled us off on hot, muggy summer days. And mud baths just feel good.

We were careful to shower off every speck of mud before we stepped around the chicken barn, for the pig barn was behind the chickens. We knew, without anyone having said so, that my aunt would not like to know we were soaking in pig shit, or, as we put it, looking for beautiful rocks.

My aunt did eventually find out and we were not allowed to go past the front of the chicken barns. I had already been fired as an egg collector so I had no good reason, according to my aunt, of being near the pigs or their mud baths.

I loved those mud baths. And my cousin was mostly fun for that activity.

My cousin never went egg collecting. She also spent the whole year there and she was never given farm tasks. At least, she never got involved with harvesting wheat when I did, or hay baling when I did.

I gotta write about harvesting wheat. Maggie and I had a simple, joyful job. My uncle, his father and endless brothers and farmhands had an expensive international harvestor combine to harvest wheat. It had big rolling blades that rolled the ripe wheat stalks, cutting them up with vacuum suction pulling the wheat grains away from the blades. The combine left the wheat grass in heaps in the fields to dry, and we'd be back later with the hay baler when the wheat had dried abit. Behind the harvesting machine, the combine, was pulled a trailer to collect all the wheat grain. We'd work until that trailer was full. It has steeply sloping sides so the grain slide down fast, making quicker work of the job.

But the grain tended to cluster in the middle. The combine vacuum system sucked up the grains and then blew them down into the wheat trailer, or hauler, or whatever it would be called. The grain shot down from above the trailer but it did not dissipate well. It tended to pile up in the middle.

The men wanted the grains to be spread evenly in the trailer so they could stay out in the field until it was completely full.

Oh, and get this. On very hot, long days, someone from the farmhouse, a woman, always, cause all men were harvesting, would come and bring us lemonade, or kool aid, cookies. Mostly we all needed to drink.  A real meal awaited all the workers in the kitchen. Rosie, the wheelchair polio victim, made those daily lunches and took great pride in what sheoffered. Kids were never allowed to eat until the men, who were all working on farm chores, got to eat . . . except when Maggie and I actually helped. On those days, we got to sit at the very long table in the big old farmhouse kitchen and help ourselves from the huge platters of Rosie's delicious food.

I adored Rosie and truly believed she was the best cook in the world.

Oh. Our job during wheat harvest: we stood in the trailer and spread out the wheat as it rained down from the sprocket that pumped it with airblasts from a spout feeding off the combine. And the best part of that job: Maggie and I took turns standing underneath the downpour of wheat grains. that made the whole day's work worth while, the wheat shower, as we called it. We got teased. My uncle said we shouldn't do it but we could see no harm and neither could he, really. And it was so much fun.

Eventually the container into which lots of wheat was sprayed in a reverse blast of air, like a wheat shower, would fill and we could not stand under it, just roll around on top of thewheat to keep it evently distributed.

The bst part of the wheat harvest was those first minutes of wheat shower when we could stand upright under the shower, with no grain under our feet. When we really could 'stand int the shower' of wheat.

Good times.

Those farmers tried to get in two wheat harvests each summer, but did not always achieve two harvests.

I often returned to Chicago just after a wheat harvest so my mom would see my body covered in rashes and complain about my allergies. I was allergic to everything when I was a kid. Maybe I still am.

I didn't care.  What was itching and chamomile lotion to sooth the itching compared to wheat showers and catching hay bales as they fell off the hay bale conveyor belt that lifted the haybales up into the hay lofts?

I would think of those hay lofts through the winter, wondering how my cousin's realtives, for they weren't my literal family, used up the hay. Did they start at one loft and work through each lfot or did they remove them layer by layer as they had been stacked? I reasoned they surely just worked through loft by loft, not carefully deconstructing the layers Maggie and I helped stack but I liked pretending I could see men, using big hooks on each end of a hay bale, pulling down haybales in order, one by one, row by row, top to bottom.

I never visited that farm in winter, not once. I always planned to rush to the hay barn if I got there in winter but I never did.

Another story:  maggie's brother, and my maternal uncle's brother, Charlie was a few years older than me. And he smoked cigarettes. And, good heavens, he would smoke in the wheat silos before wheat harvest. There was always some flammable wheat at the bottom of any wheat silo. One summer, Charley fixed up a bedroom set up for himself in a silo and it was whispered about among the adults. I guess he snuck girls, or a girl, in there, but the whispering was mostly fear that he'd burn the whole farm down if he smoked in the silos. He did smoke in the silos but I adored Charlie and never ratted him out. I wanted to. I considered it. But Charlie had a temper.

He would give me Indian burns whenever I did something he disliked, leaving my forearm that he had 'Indian burned' red and sore. I would tell adults about his attacks and get no response. I was only a girl and everyone adored Charlie.  Nope. His name was Frankie. charlie was my uncle's name. Fix that.

My cousin must have picked up that farm family's habit of physical harm. She would bite my forearm when she became angry with me. She would bite me hard enough to leave cuts for each of her teeth, leaving proof that she had bitten me hard enough to break my skin under multiple teeth. I would show this proof of her misbehavior to my uncle, or my aunt, and no one ever said anything to my cousin, no one suggested she stop. They would tell me I must have provoked her.

Sometimes we drove out to South Dakota to see my maternal grandparents, so cousin and I rod ein the back of my uncle's Caddillac. He always drove a Cadillac, an affectation my dad always mocked behind his back. "What does that hick farmer need with a Cadillac?" And my uncle mocked my dad for driving cheap Chevy's. No love lost there.

I adored my uncle Charlie until I didn't, which was when he began to molest me.

Now, me age 62 so my cousin maybe 60, she is still furious that I ever told anyone her father molested me. He did it for years. And my aunt knew and blamed me. Just like my mom knew what my dad did and blamed me.

Recently, because my best and my baby brother had part of a foot amputated, I contacted that cousin, who has remained friends with my baby bro to tell her, to tell her he would need help to recover and she's 3,000 miles closer than me. The exchange went okay untl she added, meretriciously "I never know what you might be up to so I didn't trust you when you first contacted me about your brother." 

My siblings are all angry with me, too, for my unwillingness to say our father did not molest me.

Thinking about pig mud baths and wheat showers was more fun. I'm done.