Monday, June 26, 2017

lady on bus asked to touch me

As I waited for a bus recently, a woman waiting alongside me mentioned she was a potter. So I told her my mother had been a potter and that mom's second husband owned and ran Mason Color.

I knew, from artists friends along my life's path, that many artists consider Mason Color the absolute best color.

I learned from Ron, my stepfather (if he counted as a stepfather for I was in college when he married my mom, he and I never lived together and rarely spent time together because that's how things worked out, no animosity, just logistics), that there are many businesses in this world that are what I came to call 'invisible'. We all see the porcelain china set but not many ever consider where the ingredients to make a fine tea cup come from. The porcelain manufacturer makes things with material bought from many businesses. The clay, the kilns, the colors. And not many understand that the colors are the product of chemical engineering, or that color makers patent their color formulas.

If a company used a particular orange or blue in a floral pattern on some fine china, the company would go on using the same exact color until the china line with the color(s) was terminated. And most procelain china companies hoped their patterns would last. Since the chemicals that made the 'orange' on their china were patented combos, they were repeat buyers once a sales rep persuaded a compnay that her company's orange was just the right one. Or pink, blue, green, yellow, whatever. Whichever.

Once, when I was good pals with an artist, once she learned that Ron owned Mason Color, she began to harp at me to get my mom to get her some color samples.  I resisted this friend's wishes for some time because she did not work with ceramics. I would ask her "what are you going to do with Mason Color samples if you don't make any ceramic art."

But then this friend met my mom, who was an artist, and this friend fawned and flattered my mom, using their shared work as 'artists' to cajole my mother into getting her those color samples.

And my mom came through big time for this long-ago pal.  She got a color sample package that had every single color Mason Color was then selling. My pal, no longer a friend by now (and not for about 20 years has she been a friend), had one square inch of colored powder that represent every single color they sold. Mom sent it to me and I gave it to this woman who had so coveted it. As I handed it to her, I said "Now what are you going to do with it?" She said she would use it to make paint. I said she might not understand chemical engineering if she thought it would be easy to turn ceramic colors into paint. And soon after we parted company. I don't know what she ever did with my mom's samples.

My mom fell for flattery and this gal, a psychologist, had picked up on mom's vulnerability. So the gal got her damned samples.

This former friend, the artist who cajoled color samples from my mom, once let me store my household goods in her two car garage. I was in between apartments and away from my home city for the summer. This 'friend' dug through my household goods, found my mother's copy of Janssons Art History tome, a fat book with lots of pictures of famous art. That book purported to represent the art of most human art until the date of its publication. This 'friend' dug through my things, stole my copy of my mother's Jansson's ARt History tome (its a gigantic book) and cut out pictures to use in collages. She also dug out my VCR machine to let a friend's son use it whose VCR had broken down. Guess what? The teenager also broke my VCR.

When I confronted this former friend about cutting up something important to me, and receiving my mom's copy of Jansson's Art book had been very meaningful and important to me, and destroying it and stealing my VCR to give to another friend's teenage son to impress the friend, she shrugged it off. She didn't even get defensive.  Poor boundaries, esp. for a therapist, eh?

I ramble. Eh?!

Back to the lady on the bus, a recent event. After I told her I had been to Mason Color, that my stepfather had owned it and his children inherited it and my mom had been married to it, she asked "Oh, please, may I touch you? This is the first time I have ever met anyone with an actual tie to Mason Color." So, sure, I let her pat me on the arm. She was cute. She was actually thrilled to have et me, even though I kept pointing out that I had not had anything to do with Mason, just my mom and her husband. She said "I can't wait until I get to my pottery studio so I can tell some of my potter friends."

Smoke. Our interaction had the ephemeral quality of smoke. It drifted into our lives ever-so-briefly and drifted out again when I got off the bus a few blocks down the way.

I had someone else once ask if they could touch me based on a relationship in my life. In 2006, I went to a BlogHer meeting in San Jose. A friend of mine had advised the owners, back then (it has been sold), when they started up. This friend specializes in helping online organizations use online media to grow their orgs. This friend, another friend of mine who is also a world renown consultant (different type of consulting!) told me Nancy, the social media consultant, was the best in the world at what she does. And gosh, everyone at that large conference seemed to think so.

During that first BlogHer conference I attended (I have attended others), I found myself on an official shuttle bus, related to the conference. Everyone on the bus was attending BlogHer. I think the whole conference had moved from one venue to another. So lots of women chattering on a shuttle bus, having fun. When someone asked me if I knew Nancy W, I said "Not only do I know her, I have been to her house." And that person squealed and said "Oh my god, you are so lucky. To her house!  May I touch you?"  Writers. They get grammar right more than most. And, of course, I let that blogging woman touch me. That touch was silliness and so much fun.

Happy Birthday Katie Joy Kreifels

I love you all the time no matter what. I am glad you were born. I am forever grateful you chose me to be your mother. I miss you. I will always welcome you back.

And I am not mentally ill.

Please note I have not mentioned your age, just in case you are one of those women who is coy about her age. We both know how old you are. We were both there the day you were born.

Love love love. Mom.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hannah Arendt on lies

This quote is taken from this week's Amor Mundi newsletter, publichsed by the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard, where Hannah was a philosophy professor. Bard offered my daughter a full ride for her last two years of college. She took a year off and then transferred to Cornell, graduating magna cum laude. Mixing subjects. So what?

All politicians lie and truth, as Hannah Arendt reminds us, has never been considered a political virtue. And yet, when a politician lies with abandon it means that he simply feels unconstrained by reality; he imagines himself powerful enough to be free from the constraints of what is.

you be you

I often say "I get to be me, you get to be you." I say it. And I mean it. But I am a work in progress. Sometimes I want someone to be who I want them to be. And, too often, I don't love who I am. A work in progress indeed.

gimmee some candy

I walked to the movie. Afterwards, I decided to walk over to Shattuck and pop into the corner, tiny Target to get some sugar. I was thinking candy bars and ice cream.

I had walked half down the block to Shattuck when I turned around, so I had to walk up hill and just came home. The slight incline from Shattuck to Oxford winds me and I have to take it slow, along with limping from knee pain.

I am jonesing for some sugar so much. I had fantasized, earlier, about buying several snickers bars and a pint of ice cream. And even as I made that fantasy list, I added another pint of ice cream in my head but pretended I was not thinking of getting two pints.

A close call. I came home and ate some blueberries.

But I want sugar. I don't get carb cravings often but when I do, they feel like raging energy. Gimmee, gimmee, gimmee, some candy.


I used to be a fairly serious film buff. And I raised my kid right in the film department. She grew up in the peak years of renting movies by DVD.  I curated, to use a trendy word, what we watched so she saw all of the film greats that weren't inappropriate.  Lots of old movies. All greats, mostly classics.

Rashomon actually works as a bit of a metaphor for my relationship (I guess I should say non-relationship!) because the movie is about the characters telling varying versions of the same event. My daughter and I clearly have deeply variant versions of my mothering.  She must think she got to the ivies without all the richness I soaked her in.

I sometimes wonder if she appreciates the foundation I gave her in film art and visual art in general.  I guess not. If she felt any gratitude for all that I gave her, she would want to connect with me, to honor her mother and not just her father.

I tried to take her to one art museum a month until, that is, she would no longer go with me, which happened around age 15.  Lots of stuff happened around her age 15.

One choice she made that really cut me, regarding visual art is this:  I was a docent at Walker Art Center, a prestigious and awesome contemporary art center.  I sure wish I could get on as a docent at a great museum here but docent gigs are very competitive in the Bay Area. At the Walker, when I underwent my training, they took all comers, didn't even ask for a resume.

Anyway, I was trained to design tours, to customize them for my audience.  No scripts for tours at the Walker, not back then anyway.  I was good.

I offered to give my daughter a tour and she refused. I think at one point she actually told me she understood Andy Warhol better than me. Brat. Even though she hurt me when she would not let me give her any tours of the art I knew well, I stopped in Pittsburg when I drove her to her first college, when she was sixteen, so she could see the  Andy Warhol museum. The Warhol museum was underwhelming but the fact that I went there was a fine gift that I don't think she acknowledged.

By then, she had become unable to see anything good in me, even when I was indulging her, or scrimping so she could see plays and dance performanes.

When she was younger, we would give the Therese and Katie awards when we toured the Walker. We would go through the whole place, including the Walker's great sculpture garden (which has just had a major upgrade and I am eager to see it), and then we would go back and tell each other our respective three favorites in order, number one, number two, number three.  I did not tell her but I now wonder if she ever figured out that by inviting her to 'give awards' for our favorite art, I was guiding her to look at the art a bit more closely. That's what a good tour guide does and I did this before I became one.

The few museum tours I have been on in the SF Bay Area seem scripted to me. The docents even have tablets with them and they show tablet-sized pictures of art as they talk. People are surrounded by a show that excited them enough to go to the museum and get on a tour and then they show tablet images?  I don't get that. And the tours are very controlled. I don't get that. I understand that a docent plans her tour but if someone in the group asks about another piece, that is a sign of a good tour for me. It means the audience is engaged. But mostly, the docents here cut off comments on any art but the ones they planned ahead of time.

Oh!  I just looked at my title. I have seen many Kurasawa movies but I only saw his brilliance Roshamon today at the Pacific Film Archive, two blocks from my place. At the UC Berkeley new art museum.  They show great films every day but I can't afford to see them all. I might get to "Seven Samurai", also a Kurasawa masterpiece, coming up soon.

My big art thrill this week is going to be going to the Edvard Munch show at SFMOMA. My daughter used to have an plastic blow up thing, a bit like a doll, of the 'Scream' person in Munch's famous scream paintings. I bought it for her but she liked it. I wonder if she likes Munch's art.

I'm going tomorrow. SFMOMA is the rare art museum always open on Sunday, unless its Christmas or some other major holiday. I think they do it to capture the many tourists who come to SF and stay over to Monday. They are closed on Wednesdays.  I applied to join this year's training for tour guides at SFMOMA but they contacted me when I was in the hospital, twice, in February for heart failure. After the hospital, and ongoingly, I have not been up to snuff. At first, I was depressed, which I consider understandable. Feeling my heart beating off kilter, finding myself breathless while sitting still, finding myself unable to walk because I struggled to breath, this stuff scared and then depressed me. I thought any quality of life was over.

Bit by bit, I am climbing back. I'm aging so I will never be young and spry again. Heck, I never was spry. My knees have always had arthritis, with stiffness and pain. Of course my knees are worse now. My new pain specialist thinks I need a knee replacement so I have a referral to an orthopedist.

Rambling along. I don't think anyone reads this blog. I get hits, mostly from G+, but I don't think the hits are from anyone I know. Ya know?  I write to the ether, like putting a message in a corked bottle and tossing it into the ocean to get some word out.

Roshamon was a good movie. The audience was very interesting. The audience for a Kurasawa film is completely different from the political activists I am used to seeing and knowing. I did not see one person I know, which is rare. It was a very interesting audience to me. It was the most silent movie audience I have yet experienced. Two women near me, who were not disabled but took two disabled seats (right before two disabled women who needed the seats arrived and they did not yield up the seats they had no right to. . .). Privileged women, for sure, because they started out talking early on as we viewed the film.  I think they noticed what I noticed, which was that it was an unusually quiet, respectful audience so they stopped talking. But later on, they chirped to one another a bit. They clearly see themselves as privileged. They were dressed expensively. They looked very casual but wore expensive clothes and their expensive shoes gave the away.

The whole audience seemed much more prosperous than a jammed city council meeting. Berkeley is a mixed bag.

And, I imagine, Roshamon brought out people of good taste. That's why I was there:  I had never seen this very famous film. Now I have.

It was a squeaker but I made it

I wrote, earlier today, about strengthening my will force by swimming, which uses my limbs, arms and legs, to carry me into my future. I wrote that to try to motivate myself to go.

It worked!!!!!

Not only did I go, but I had a whole lane to myself, which added motivation. It is rare that I don't have to share a lane. I push harder when I have a lane to myself. I am a slow swimmer and I am always very aware, when sharing a  lane with another swimmer or two, that they go faster than me. They might not go much faster, but I have to pay attention so I could be polite, wait at the end of a lane for them to finish a length and turn around to keep going.

Being all by myself, which is what a solo lane feels like, lit me up. I swam harder than I have for a long time. Of course, I am building my swim muscles again, going more often, swimming longer.

Soon, I'll be back to an hour a day. An hour a day can be tough. Not the swimming, but it is hard to get an entire hour in a lane with only one or two others.  People come and go, new energy to adjust to. And, truth told, although I do my best to calibrate my moves in the water to be consider of other swimmers in my lane, it disturbs my meditative swimming.

Swimming is all silent, except for sound of water moving, me breathing, my thoughts. I consider it meditation, but it can be meditation disrupted.

Not today. Today it was perfect.  I wonder why there was almost no one at my pool today..

And when I left the locker room, my stomach growled in hunger. Pefection. I had a green salad with thai spices and a few bites of steak.  Heaven anew.

stepping forward with my will

Our will carries us into the future. Our limbs carry us into the next moment and then the next. And exercise is a wonderful metaphor for how we might strengthen our will. In committing to regularly use our limbs to move, to move into next moments and more fitness and health is a great will strengthener.

I so don't want to go swimming today. I don't want to put on my suit. I don't want to jump in the pool. I don't want to shower afterwards. I want to stay home and sit around.

So I am going swimming, using my limbs to develop my will and my physical wellbeing.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

my grandbunny Fluffy

--> This is the story of how my grandbunny Fluffy came into our lives.
For a Christmas bonus for me when my daughter was five, I got a gift certificate from my employer for Dayton's, the former local, 'fancy' department store in Minneapolis (and other places). It was only for $25 but I appreciated it.

Over that Christmas, something happened to my daughter. She was very upset after the incident, entered therapy, struggled. She had been one of the favorite kids in her kindergarden class. Her teachers had told me "Rosie is the kind of student every teacher dreams of having. She is well behaved, very interested in learning and she sets an example for the other children."  But after the incident, I heard reports from those same teachers about how had changed dramatically since her two weeks out of town and, thus, not at school. Note:  this was both a kindergarden and day care business. I chose it because as a single mother with a 9-5 kind of job, half day day care didn't work for me.  So she went to that school on days when there would have been no school at 'regular' schools. It only had kindergarden and all day care. It was a good program, actually.

Her teachers began to report that Rosie was picking fights with other children, disrupting class lessons, refusing to pay attention.

Rosie's Sunday school teacher also began to question what had happened to Rosie. Rosie only saw that Sunday school teacher for an hour a week so when that woman asked me, after one Sunday School class, "What has happened to Rosie?" I decided to sit my five year old down and ask her.

Rosie was acting differently in other venues, too. Once we went to a dinner party with some of my co-workers and Rosie stole a piece of jewelry from the hostess.  When I confronted her, she said, in an angry tone that did not resemble the happy angel I had always known, she said "It was your fault because you didn't buy it for me." She was angry with me. She did other things similar to the jewelry theft and when confronted, she always said "It was your fault" and she sneered and curled up her face into an ugly grimace. She was angry. Hurting angry.

I had noticed many changes in my five year old but hearing the Sunday school teacher note those changes made me realize something had happened. I assumed that what had happened was that her father had lost his temper during her Christmas visit with him, maybe he struck her.  I was not particularly concerned when I thought "maybe her dad spanked her".  I read her a bedtime story, tucked her in, tried to create a warm cosy environment before I said "Rosie, something has happened to you."  She hid under her covers, started crying and said she couldn't tell me, that 'he' said he would kill me if she told.

I stopped that conversation right there because I knew my antipathy forwards her father could easily influence the conversation. Plus I was still thinking that he had spanked her, and being spanked had shocked her. Or he had shown her his temper. Once when she was in college and I had paid to fly her to see him for a few days around New Year's, she called me from her cell phone, sitting in the cold in her dad's car, crying and telling me he had been very angry, explosively so, frightening her and she had told him she wanted to go home.  Home, for her, was not with me. I think she flew back to Chicago where her then-boyfriend lived. He was her home then.

I didn't know what to do next about my newly miserable little girl. I said to her "I am going to find someone to help us."  She said "But how, how can someone help us. The court says I have to see him." Yes, this is how the daughter of two lawyers talk.  And, for all I know, her dad had talked to her about court orders around his visitation which, until this incident, I had always honored, of course.

She was sobbing inconsolably and kept saying "how can you help me? I have to go there." so I said, to sooth my child, "I don't know what I can do but I will find out what I can do.  I promise I will take care of you."  I said such things over and over to sooth her. She cried so hard, she snuffled a bit as she first fell asleep.

Then, the very next morning, when I dropped her off at the kindergarden/day care place, one of her two teachers asked me if I had a few minutes. Then, when I said I had time to talk, both of the teachers (with assistants in with the children), one wringing her hands and both of them appearing very uncomfortable, silently lead me into the kitchen of the little school, closed the door and we all sat down.

The gal who took the lead was literally wringing her hands as she said "I don't know how to tell you this and it is very hard for me but given the significant changes in Rosie's behavior since Christmas, we believe she may have been molested. We don't see such a dramatic change in a happy child like Rosie except for something like that."

To which I responded, glad, at least, that I could make the moment easier for those two good women, "Well, I actually figured out last night that something happened to her over the holidays, I asked her and she said yes but I didn't press her to tell me."

The two teachers explained to me that, by law, they were mandated reporters and they were legally obligated to report suspected child abuse of any kind. They also said they had the name of a therapist at U. of MN. whose practiced focussed on molested children and if I took Rosie to see her, they would not make the mandated report. The therapist would still have to, they said.

And, eventually, Child Protection of Hennepin County got involved, interviewed my little bunny and made a finding of substantiated child abuse. Please note that I was not present for the Child Protection interview, or the MD interview, or the police interview. Nowadays, child who these kinds of professional suspect abuse interview such a child once but back then, it was one interview after another. Plus we went to therapy.

The first day we saw that therapist, btw, she asked Rosie if she knew what a secret was. The little honey said "Yes,  a secret is something you tell your mom."  I cheered up to hear that. I interpreted to mean she trusted me. Then the therapist asked Rosie if she ever dreamed when she slept. To my surprise, Rosie, who has always had superb verbal skills, even at age 5, said "Yes. I had a dream last night." Then the therapist asked her what the dream had been about. I was surprised that that therapist had moved so fast with Rosie, surprised at her questions. The therapist had asked me to keep quiet and let Rosie do the talking until the therapist drew me into the conversation so of course I kept quiet.

The therapist asked Rosie to tell her about the dream. "In the dream, I was in our house in Omaha, inside with my dad and my mom was outside the house running around because she was being chased by a monster."

Then that therapist asked Rosie if she could draw a picture of the monster. Rosie said sure. She liked to draw and that children's therapist had a large white board and many color markers all set up. I suppose the therapist used such tools regularly.

Rosie drew a picture of a penis. The penis was the monster and she filled up almost the entire white board with her drawing. She made a long, cylindrical shape, with bushes around the bottom and little spurts coming out of the top. If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would probably not have believed that therapist if she had tried to describe it to me. Nowadays, I suppose I'd take a cell phone photo of it. Sometimes I have wished I still had the picture Rosie drew that day because several years later, she erupted in anger and repeatedly angrily denounced me for making up the whole thing.

I still have a copy of the child protection report. I so didn't make it up.

I've never had a lot of money, even when I worked. I was working a job job when Rosie was five. I had saved my Xmas gift certificate, planning to use it to buy myself something new to wear. In those days, I usually bought myself a new, cotton knit, summer dress each spring and I had planned to use the $25 towards my new dress that year.

So Rosie continued in therapy. Sometimes the therapist would call me in for a bit, mostly not.

Then Easter approached. I began to talk to Rosie, and talk to myself, about how to keep her safe during her next, court-ordered visit. I was afraid to withhold a visit because I had already faced years and many tens of thousands of dollars, fighting over custody.  I did not want to withhold visits and become embroiled in more legal battle with my ex. So I said that I would confront her dad and once he knew I knew about the abuse, he would not do again for fear of being charged.

This triggered new anxieties in Rosie. She must have talked to the therapist about my, I see now, poor plan to confront the ex and send her for Easter visit because the therapist had me sit in for part of a session. She had Rosie talk about her anxiety over going to visit her dad. She told me that I was naive if I thought telling an abuser that I knew about his abuse would stop him. And I was not naive, just blind. No one knows better than I do how abusive her dad could be. Our marriage counselor testified in his deposition that my ex was the cruelest human being he had ever met and that was in over 20 years of marriage counseling.  I was slipping into my abused victim mentality when I tried to convince myself I could stop my child's abuse by just telling her dad to knock it off.

Then the therapist asked me the perfect question. She said "what did you tell Rosie that night you first confronted her about the changes you saw in her?"

Bingo. She had me. So I said "I told her that I would protect her."

Therapist asked, "Do you think she feels protected if you send her for this Easter visit?"

And I knew in that moment that I had to withhold the visits.

There's a lot more to the story. Tears are streaming down my face and have been throughout this.

I actually sat down to write about my grandbunny Fluffy. I always called her Fluffina. "My dear little Fluffina" I would say in a silly, arched tone, playing a goofy impression of talking fancifully.

I decided to spend my $25 Christmas gift certificate on a Gund, white, fluffy bunny. Gunds are great because you can toss them in the washing machine and keep them clean. Cleanish. They do wear out if your kid makes her the favorite doll. Rosie slept with Fluffy always, even took her when she left for college.

I sometimes made a fuss about Fluffina, my grandbunny, to make Rosie laugh. I would ask if Fluffina, my dear little Fluffina could spend one night with me.

At Christmas, Rosie gave me small note cards with 'gifts' such as "I promise to tidy my room when you ask without complaining." The most important gift guard, which she gave me for Xmas many years, was "This coupon good for one night with Fluffy." But whenever I tried to cash in the Fluffy coupon, Rosie would tell me she just couldn't part with Fluffy, not even for one night, not even to honor the coupon.

I had good maternal instincts when I decided to buy Fluffina for Rosie. My Rosie needed something to comfort her. I was always very aware, when we struggled to cope with the incident (whatever the truth of it may have been, I never fed her ideas and I believed what she told all those experts. With the child protection interview, they gave Rosie anatomically correct cloth dolls and asked her to show what had happened to her.  I was not present, although I was in the building. I had no input into what she said to that child protection worker. And I had never asked Rosie to tell me what had been done to her. I read the reports. I read what she told child protection, the therapist, the doctor, and the police officer but I never asked her to tell me. The only reason I know what she did in that child protection interview is because, yes, the child protection worker's report included it.

There were two anatomically correct dolls in the room. The child protection worker asked Rosie if she could show the woman what had happened to her using the dolls. And she did. She demonstrated the male doll placing his penis in the anus of the female doll.  I had never before had a conscioius thought of anatomically correct dolls. After that interview, I felt a little violated, thinking I should have known about the dolls. I guess they don't tell parents what they are going to try in such interviews so the parents can't plant ideas in their child.

The incident ruined my life. I believe it is the root of why my daughter has shunned me for sixteen years. When she was in the fifth grade in therapy with a man named Paul, she got to a point where she angrily denounced me for making up the incest. Paul said child predators count on the children's memory erasing what happened.

And about Paul. When Rosie was in the fifth grade, she was having serial panic attacks, was very anxious. Her pediatrician referred us first to a psychiatrist for meds. Rosie and I walked out of the appointment with that psychiatrist for he reeked of cigarette smoke and he wrapped katie up in a bear hug upon coming to the reception area to call her in for the consultation. He did not get permission to touch her and my little OCD wretched as he actually lifted her a bit off the floor in his bear hug. Both the unpermitted hug and the reeking cigarette smoke had both of us reeling. She looked at me with so much panic in her eyes. I said "Let's get out of here. This is not the doc for us." And on the way home, we decided meds were not the way to go. So we'd try one onone therapy for Rosie.

Rosie said she would only do therapy if I agreed that I would never talk to Paul about the therapy, never ask him about anything she said. And I never did. I wonder if she ever realized, then or later, what a huge thing she asked of me. I agreed to let her see a therapist that I could not talk to about her therapy because I thought my little girl needed to talk to someone and if honoring her demand would get her to go to therapy, I loved her enough to do it. She was only ten.

Paul agreed to Rosie's terms with one exception. He said he had to interview me once to get her social history. Which he did.  That was the only time I talked to him. She saw him for several years, if I remember correctly. I recall that when she developed anorexia and started to see someone, also a male, who specialized in anorexia, she had to let go of Paul. I went  to Paul's office to get her records for the new therapist and, sure, we chatted briefly. He said "I never thought she'd take starving herself so far." "Neither did I." And that was all we ever said to one another except during the initial social history.

And yes, I disclosed the incident. And he disclosed that Rosie had not mentioned it to him. She got around to it somehow. Maybe Paul brought it up. I don't know because, coming from a place of profound love, I never asked Paul, not once, about what she talked to him about. I sat in his reception room for all her appointments. He's say hello when he came out to get her. But it came up at some point and she was cold fury . . . at me.  She screamed, so many times, that it didn't happen, that I had made it up. And I would try to remain calm and remind her that a child therapist, her kindergarden teachers, her Sunday school teacher, a child protection worker, a medical doctor and a couple cops had all concluded the incident had happened. Some of them saw it before I did because, as I learned in this hellish experience, mothers often don't see that their child is being abused because to surface abuse is to surface trouble. It can be a Pandora's Box.

And our incident sure was a Pandora's Box for me.  It cost me my only child. And he, her father, is not only her FB pal but also her boyfriend's FB pal. Her abuser gets to have a relationship with her. And I, who gave her so much, including things she knows nothing about, am shunned. And she lies about me to folks in her life, perhaps to explain why she shuns her mother. She tells people I am severely mentally ill. How sadly funny, eh? Our marriage counselor testified under oath, and he was a man who had initially studied for the priesthood and was a very, very good man, that her father was the cruelest human being he, the doc, had met in 20+ years of marriage counseling. That doctor said her father needed extended psychiatric hospitalization, at least five to seven years, and even then, the doctor testified under oath, her father would likely never be well. The doc said he didn't think her father should have any visits with her, at least no unsupervised ones.

But she has a relationship with her father and not with me.

She can think whatever she wants, but I saved her. And I gave up a very great deal to save her.

And I never got to spend a single night with my grandfunny, Fluffina. Fluffina was wearing out last time I saw her, when Rose set off for college. Like all truly loved bunnies, she's probably not around anymore. Just like I am not longer around in my only child's life. I'm all worn out, bled dry. And her father is part of her life. What? Did she want to show up at some event having a parent and she is ashamed of me but not him?

I'm not surprised she still loves him. She never stopped loving him. I learned that one of the cruelest aspects of a parent abusing their child is that the child goes on loving them anyway. A child's love, like a mother's, does not stop because someone has hurt them.

Well. That's how I came to have the one grandbunny, Fluffy. She had a pink threaded nose for a long time but the pink faded.

"fried rice" made with quinoa and. .

I love to make fried rice with quinoa. I buy a bag of peas, carrot bitty pieces and other tiny veggie pieces. I stir fry the vegies in seasoning, then add the cooked quinoa.  I love this dish and have not made it in awhile.

I have resolved to not buy any new food until I have eatened or tossed all the food in my house. My cupboards are full of canned goods I am never going to eat. Gosh, I found about 30 boxes of sugar-free jello. I remember having a sugar free jello phase -- about ten years ago. I don't remember why I ever had so many boxes of sugar-free jello mix. I don't eat sugar-free jello now because its full of chemicals. But why did I ever stock up on so many?  I have no recollection of what motivated me.

I put all the sugar-free jello, a very few boxes of sugar-free jello pudding and a box of splenda. Did I ever use Splenda?  I don't remember using it. And the Splenda was unsealed. What was I thinking?  Chemicals.

I can have my friend rice quinoa -- with shrimp!!! -- because I have all the ingredients on hand!!!

I am doing a major decluttering, getting rid of anything I have not used in the past year.

My gosh, I moved into this apartment 9 years ago and I have things filling my very limited closet space (I have two tiny closets) and some of my kitchen cupboards with things I have not used since I moved here, not thought about since I moved here and likely never will think about or use. Out. Out. Out.

A challenge is getting rid of all the stuff. Not having a car, there are logistical issues getting a few hundred pounds of books or kitchen stuff I never use (one cookie sheet is enough, one muffin tin pan is enough. . . so why do I have multiples?!).

Today at the library, as I passed the Friends of the Library bookstore which sells used books patrons donate, a lightbulb went off. The library is just a block away. I want roll books over in my dear little Versacart.

I have a juicer an acquaintance gave me years ago. I have never used it. He found it on the street in SF and thought it was brand new. I guess he already had one. I have never used it because juicers strip out the fiber and I want the fiber. 

I have no cupboards large enough for my large stock pot so I keep it atop my kitchen cabinets, where there is about 20 inches of space. It makes the place seem cluttered but I have to put it somewhere and, I feel, somewhere in my kitchen.

I was all set to release all of my CD's. I have all my music on various iPods. But when I went through the CDs I have, I found several I have never listened to. So do I listen to them, just store the music on some device or just release them unheard?  I'm sitting with this one.

As I cleared out a kitchen cupboard, I came across a large jar of home-canned (and sold at my farmers' market) tomatillos. I can't toss those babies so it is time for chicken enchiladas with tomatillo sauce.  Yum. And the jar is a good one I will keep and use to store some food like oatmeal or quinoa pasta.

Just now, my main focus is getting up, putting on my swimsuit, putting my clothes back on and head to the pool. As happens so often, I am resisting. So, as I often do, I have a deal with myself:  I will go to the pool and swim ten lengths. After that, if I want to, I can stop. The beauty of this is that once I do ten lengths, I am all warmed up and into the grove of up and down, up and down, in a meditative silent bubble of me, dappled sunlight, undulating water, undulating light in the water and sun shing so bright it stings my eyes, which means it is also going to sting my skin a bit.

I do not want to get up and get going. I will. But I don't wanna.

Friday, June 23, 2017

the way you treat people

The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become. —Goethe

galaxies upon galaxies upon galaxies

This is not a photo of stars, although, yes, we can see stars in the forefront. Look deeper. This is a photo of galaxies upon galaxies upon galaxies. And we are a part of this majestic creation. Stardust all.  Or is it love? joy? What?  What's it all about.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Grenfell Tower/Triangle Shirt Waist

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

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

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

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

your life will get better when. . .

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

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

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

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

It happens all the time in heaven

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

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

parking fines while white

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'm ready

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

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

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

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

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

So I did.

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

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

So I walked home, which is .06 miles.

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

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

Which, again, is why I bought the scooter.

I have been feeling happier, lighter in recent days.

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

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

Do I dare to eat a peach?

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

taking a page from my daughter of long ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am very unhappy

Monday, June 19, 2017

swimming to me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was swimming to relationship, to happiness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am swimming to me.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

time to tuck the tiny tot

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

adopt the pace of nature

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

Hours later, I feel the sun burning my skin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was not a casual sunburn.

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 17, 2017

I wait a lonely lifetime

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

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

I wait a lonely lifetime. . . . 

I can't be without you

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

let joy move you

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

get into gratitude!

Friday, June 16, 2017

I wait for you to believe in me

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

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

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

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

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

~ Rumi

do you have a son, she asked

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fuck her, eh?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

American democracy is childish fantasy

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

we are saved only by love

The world is violent and mercurial--it will have its way with you. We are saved only by love--love for each other and the love that we pour into the art we feel compelled to share: being a parent; being a writer; being a painter; being a friend. We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love. ~ Tennessee Williams

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Anyone who actually knows me know I don't use illicit drugs and except for a very rare beer in the summertime, I don't drink alcohol.

I did smoke a lot of marijuana for a couple years in college. Then I returned from S. America and never smoked dope again. That was 1974!

Recently, at the Alta Bates Ashby ER, in February, a blood test done on me showed Ecstasy in my system.  A false positive for sure.

Geez, my primary doc prescribed medical marijuana for my considerable chronic pain and I rejected it. She said they sell stuff that doesn't get a person high but I still didn't check out medical marijuana.

An asshole ER doc put me, so illogically, on a psych hold, accusing me of being actively suicidal. I reasoned that I had come to the ER of my own volition seeking help for heart failure. I pointed out that coming to the ER for medical care is not indicative of suicidal intention.  This pig also ordered the ER staff to withhold insulin, even when a glucose test showed my glucose was over 200.

The next day, I refused any more blood tests, would not let docs listen to my heart and did not accept any medical care until I saw a psychiatrist. I eventually saw a psychiatrist named Dr. Fitzpatrick. He told me I would be amazed how many unwarranted psych holds get ordered out of that particular ER.

Apparently Dr. Dylan Easley has a real thing for punishing already sick people who, in his judgement, act a little upity. He promised me he would not put a psych hold on me and then he walked out of the glass cage I had been forced into and grabbed a passing nurse and told her to put me on that psych hold. That meant 24 hour babysitters. That meant they took away my insulin -- after other ER staff had told me they usually let diabetics manage their diabetes in the ER. There I was, already sick and Easley ordered the staff to withhold insulin from this type one diabetic and also ordered that I be given no food. It took over 24 hours to get the starve-her order rescinded.

Why are there a surprising number of psych holds at Alta Bates Ashby? Is it all because of the asshole Dr. Easley?   I wonder.

And I even wonder if he spiked my blood test with ecstasy to buttress his outrageous decision to put me on a psych hold. Get this: on this psych hold at this hospital, you don't get any psych treatment. You just get humiliated. denied insulin, denied food and are forced to sit with babysitters.

Ecstasy!  I had a business partner in the eighties who had used ecstasy a few times. She always spoke of it as the most blissful experience imaginable. I loved and greatly respected her but I never tried ecstasy even tho she steadily urged me to.  I am not likely to start using ecstasy at age 63, eh?

Monday, June 12, 2017

the time to make up your mind about a person

"The time to make up your mind about a person is never."
Tracy Lord, from the 1940 movie, The Philadelphia Story.

a new doc I really like

It took a few months to get a first appointment with her but I finally met my pain specialist. I liked all her suggestions.

how does one hurry to find the Love of one's Life?

A person without Love is not a living
human being.
He or She is just a lonely
and lifeless walking corpse.
If you are not still in Love
hurry and find the Love of your Life.
Quench your thirst for Love.
The Beloved is also thirsty for a Lover.

~ Rumi ~

Sunday, June 11, 2017

gosh golly and gee whiz

Gosh golly, it feels great to swim laps under the sun. During my swim today, I particularly enjoyed all the ways the light undulates in the water, pierces my eyes from the sky when I do a length or two of backstroke (to move different muscles).  The light is magic.

The exercise is also magic. I feel lit within. I feel great.  And I am getting closer to knowing, once again, how great it is to swim every day.  I'm getting there!

Gosh golly, I feel great.

Gosh golly, I really do.

Gee whiz. Aw shucks.

And for today, I had a lane all to myself. Sundays are like that at my pool.

go deeper

I'm so fed up with males ruling