Day 200 of the hostage situation… page 107

Day 200 – 09/28/2020

This does feel a lot like being held hostage by Insanity, but no, I consciously CHOSE the hermit life… or has it chosen me?

So… diary/psyche, it’ll be your job to remind me that today I actually let a mOnDaY state of mind deter me from exerting even the minuscule amount of effort required to go hang out with Rita. It took more energy to write that sentence than it would have to simply put on a bra and some shoes and drive across town. Tomorrow. Tomorrow’s another day, or so we’ve been led to expect, and tomorrow’s ALWAYS a good day for doing things. It’s even possible my brain won’t be on autopilot two days in a row.

It’s a beautiful fall day, in the 60s, air smells fresh, sounds outside feel like home, and there’s no reason not to be out there gettin’ me some a’ that, except inertia got me like… 🤷🏼‍♀️

Oh well, sufficient unto each day something something…

I’m wishing me better luck with adulting on Tuesday.

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Fall weekends… page 106

Day 199 – 09/27/2020

Rainy misty Sunday… no breeze… all the red orange yellow green leaves silently blessing the falling water. And now here comes the wind, swaying the color bands out there in the great forest of East Lawrence, rain pounding down in earnest. Perfect. And me here with a belly full of breakfast and great coffee, water running in the spa tub. Most of the time real happiness is closer than breathing.

Today is my mom’s birthday and she’d be 93 years old now. She was three weeks short of 20 when I was born and I sort of helped raise her I think, before all my competition started showing up. She died suddenly in 1995 when she was 67, so we’ve been missing her for a long time. My iMac either dumped or hid several folders full of family pics and I realize as I’m searching this morning that all the photos of Mother are gone except this one, her high school senior pic. Maybe that’s okay for now… I can’t picture her at 93, so celebrating her at 18 is sweet.

I remember Mama…

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An Autumn Saturday… page 105

Day 198 – 09/26/2020

Welp, Diary, it’s just you and me today – Kim’s playing PickleBall and then he’ll be in Car Show Heaven for a few hours… after he makes the Saturday breakfast, of course, and not because his wife’s a needy wench, it’s part of the weekend.

I was surprised by my pretty toes this morning after looking at raggedy pigs for months on end. Staying viably human seems really important right now for not losing sight of me and not inviting an *Undesirable* label via my icky and useless elderliness. Takes a little effort, but it never hurts to look your best, wherever you’re going.

… wearing great lipstick and nail polish. 💋
Toemail…

Sometimes, like right now, I wonder about the ways other people are interfacing with the compounded challenges we wake up to every day. Has the inescapable reality of current events caused people to dig deeper for understanding, or are the majority still managing to avoid the inescapable, as humans are wont to do. It’s only curiosity, but it would be encouraging to know that most people are looking soberly at the world this morning.

It will all be… what it will all be, and there’s a payload of peace in accepting that. My head and heart have had me in fight mode since 2015 and now they’re tired. Not giving up, not giving in, just resting in the knowledge that I’ve been faithful to say what I know and the weight of the world doesn’t rest on my shoulders. We’re at the nexus… the things that happen now will come at warp speed and they’re entirely out of our hands save for one crucial item, our VOTE. Meanwhile, attitude is everything.

“Morning will come, it has no choice.”

― Marty Rubin

Something that brought its own kind of joy yesterday… and needs to be kept for whatever posterity follows… my Uncle Vic, who turned 91 this year and has spent a lot of his life delving into and recording our family genealogy, found his dad’s, my grandpa’s, military registration card online. Grandpa joined the Army at 17 and fought at the front in the European Theater before coming home to start a dynasty, so the call-up is surprising and amusing.

Grandpa was a 43-year-old self-employed electrician with an industrial-strength family by the time this showed up. My cousin Michael, Uncle Vic’s eldest, says: It’s a draft notice, even though 1) he’d already served, 2) he had 8 kids in school, and 3) he had a son in the Navy! Grandma said, “Nice try, but you’re staying home.”

My grandpa, WWI, 17 years old
My grandparents, their nine children, and first grandchild, around the time Grandpa got his midlife draft notice.

Reese DNA is marinated in service to country and all six of my uncles served in the military, three of them in Korea at the same time.

My Uncle Vic in Korea, about age 21. The other two brothers were 17 and 19.
Uncle Vic in January 2020, 90 years old, beating a grandson at cards. You don’ wanna mess wit da’ lions. Note the Reeses mug.

That was then… this is now. They survived the unthinkable, all of them… why should we not hope for the same grace?

Let us not look forward

Nor back. Be cradled, as in

A swaying boat on the sea.

Friedrich Hölderlin

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A Mermaid’s Tale

swimming upstream

morning by morning

watching for signs

of life on the wing

ready to catch

a sunbeam in action

lasso its tail and ride while I sing

*****

holding the hours

open and loose

letting them do

what stacked minutes do

ready to clasp

the things that are right

let the rest fall and go toward the light

*****

time is a shape-changer

days into months

life is a mood-changer

light into dark

ready to wake

and look at the real

let it suffice for the feelings I feel

*****

the world is still here

despite all intent

it claims my attention

as price for my rent

but with only so much

I can spare for the cost

I’m turning away before it’s all lost

*****

the things I most value

are fully at risk

anguish won’t save them

from those who are sick

so hope is the strongman

that stands as my pick

for swimming upstream

’til THE END

JSmith 09/26/2020

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Not my circus, but what about all these monkeys?… page 104

Day 197 – 09/25/2020

Plans, they change. Hanging with Rita didn’t happen yesterday, but today worked out and even better. She scheduled pedi’s for this morning, and Kim met us for lunch in Cielito’s courtyard, which was all kinds o’ fun and therapeutic as always.

Some people read my mail, Rita reads my blog – same thing – so she knows how tied in knots I am. We don’t talk much about current events lately, what’s the point, but even if there wasn’t a gut-spilling blog for her to absorb, she’d know. When we couldn’t spend time together yesterday she texted me a shot of encouragement to disallow him-who-shall-not-be-named from taking up room in my head and stealing the joy out of my heart. And to remember that it’s my life and I can willfully choose to cut out the chatter. And that we already know how dire it is, so we have to live every day like it’s our final one – because it just could be. I think my work here is done: the last has become first, the baby sister has the words the big sister needs, and the world will obviously keep on turning.

She’s right. 💋

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Just keep moving… page 103

Day 196 – 09/24/2020

Over seven decades of living I’ve collected a laundry list of heavy-duty experiences, but the realities of the pandemic and our crisis of government have combined to generate a climate I’ve never tried to exist in before and I wish the head part of me could be unconscious until late January with no harm done to life or limb. Karma knows I’m not asking for trouble, but I’ve never wanted this desperately to shut my thoughts off, no matter how awful things in my immediate world have looked at times. The possibilities presented by the constitutional crisis we’re being sucked into are so extreme my mind won’t shut up about them and I’ve run out of useful distractions again.

After yesterday’s sound-bites to the effect that “there won’t be a transfer of power,” I said this on my FB page:

“We’d be hatching an escape plan right about now, but no country will take us, due to Covid. Gonna be ‘interesting.’ Sounds like drama but pretty sure America is HERE —-> X.

“We have friends in Canada but they’d be unable to help, with the borders closed. It’s intriguing to see that all the responses to this post have so far been from women – these are the first things we think of when our loved ones are threatened. And isn’t it instructional and humbling to experience what most of the world has lived with forever – that frisson of fear, the knowledge that we.are.not.safe.”

Gonna grab some cheese to have with that whine.

Okay, all better now.

I rescued a little treasure this week and she’s taken up residence on my desk as a daily caution against backsliding, although she and I both know the risk is minimal. Maggie makes me smile for all the reasons.

I’ll go hang out with Rita today and the rest of the world will come ’round right for a while. Odds are we’ll laugh ’til we cry, and maybe let the tears be therapeutic before we wipe them away; we’ll accomplish enough to keep her energized and encouraged; and one more day of WTF-is-coming-at-us will have been dealt with in productive ways.

And all the women said, AMEN.

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America, America…

DISCLAIMER: Not a diary post. Entirely opinion-driven content which some call political but I refer to as WTF is going on? My questions are genuine and knowing the answers would go a long way toward reconciling the collective transmogrification of this era. It’s therapeutic simply to ask.

  1. Which character traits found in Donald J. Trump are the ones that inspire trust, confidence, and loyalty in his followers? What do they hear when he speaks, what do they see as he moves through his world?
  2. Why did safety precautions during a worldwide pandemic become politicized? Why this battle over that situation? Does somebody stand to benefit if more Americans die? Is that why the mounting death toll – now more than the sum of five U.S. wars – is refuted and ignored?
  3. We see fascism encroaching on our now-creaky system of democracy… we’ve been watching its advance for the past four years, and far longer underground. Why are Americans who are anti-fascist, as our parents were, now the enemy? And why is that way of life what Donald Trump’s voters want for America?
  4. Will people really buy into four more years of daily chaos because they care about only one issue? How fairly will fetuses-saved balance viable-lives-lost when the counting’s done? And one last time, why are the unborn the only Americans who qualify for the unassailed right to live?
  5. His rallies never took a break until stopped by the virus. Endless political rallies held by the incumbent, who does that and why?
  6. The rallies consistently attract people who seem primed for confrontation, avid for it. Is the primal desire to inflict damage on liberals a general thing in the GOP now? Is that the emotion that drives the narrative?
  7. Why has the angry, armed white man become an icon in this era? What’s the appeal? Is the typical Trump voter really that base?
  8. What are the tenets and characteristics of today’s GOP that motivate an average citizen to align with it? What is it about the interface, the interaction with the public, the perceptions attached, and their code of ethics that causes people to identify?
  9. A homogenous society, pretty same-same, nobody weird, nobody marching to their own drummer, all pigment and cultural backgrounds tame and non-threatening… that feels like the kind of world conservatives want. Will there ever be real communication on all that and more?
  10. Are Trump’s followers good with a country where everyone except white Republican males is a second-class citizen? Where Black citizens live life from cradle to grave dreading THE MOMENT? Where LGBTQ citizens are gradually, or quickly, re-stripped of the equal rights and protections they’ve won, older people are entirely expendable, and truth is something our grandparents valued?
  11. After standing against Russia’s brand of ethics for generations, why does Trump’s base now want to BE Russia? What changed?
  12. For the evangelical world, which helped put him where he is, are there no lines anymore, no principles that matter beyond their agenda? And does the end ever really justify the means?
  13. What about Donald John Trump says “Jesus the Savior” to evangelicals and others? What are the similarities, the places where their reputed characters align?
  14. How do loyal Trump voters see the world in the next four years? Serene, the opposition vanquished at last, society remade into the conservative mold? No visible differentiations, nothing that marks us as a diverse, free, happy, inventive, creative society with the maturity to give and take? Will every aberrant blip, especially in cities now designated Anarchy Jurisdictions, be dealt with swiftly and forcefully before somebody can incite a neighbor? Is our right of redress against what was representative government already dead?
  15. Will Trump’s people and Republicans in general be happy with the spoils if he wins? Satisfied? In a mood to play nice? Or is this forever now? That’s the answer I want most.

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Fall has fell… page 102

Day 194 – 09/22/2020

Fall officially starts today, 2020 having caused us to sidestep spring and summer this trip around the sun. It’s beautiful – days in the 70s, low 80s, nights in the low 50s, and the leaves are responding accordingly. The tree across the street that burns from top down every year has burst into flame, and now the leaves in its center are turning. Eventually, they’ll all be down around the matching truck on the street and another autumn will enter the record books.

My fat spider in the window has retreated for the day, and I’m starting to think about mine, having eased into it with the best coffee in town, Kim’s. I have a date with Rita mid-morning to get back into her project with intent, so we’ll see where the day goes from there. Yesterday’s SI-joint injection is showing signs of having a good effect, which creates hope for accomplishing things, as people do when they get up in the morning.

Random thought because breakfast is supposed to happen about now: I’m tired of food – the thrill is gone. Reading has lost its luster, and now eating is just one more job to do. I wish comfort food wasn’t so thoroughly comforting – I could eat mac & cheese, potatoes, bacon, or Ramen noodles every day, or some of each, but the concept of protein versus carbs is a pain in the ass right now.

Which brings me to a new thought… do I hone in on the nitty-gritty of daily life under a COVID cloud in a bid to keep the heavier worries at bay? On first inspection it sounds like truth. Pretty sure I try to bury the real concerns under a shroud of silence and major on the minors instead. The things I can’t say to anybody, not even me, have to be choked back every day and squashed down into their hole with the lid slammed shut, so at least once a week I’m on the verge of jumping out of my skin and wreaking havoc in all directions.

Kim captured a similar interface from this morning’s sunrise – a liquid but fractured state, still on fire but starting the day with trepidation. Maybe Mr. Sol and I can pool our energies and make it to Wednesday…

Photo Credit: Kim Smith

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Diary… page 101

Day 193 – 09/21/2020

I’ve averaged a diary post every other day since I started documenting our experiences in The Time of COVID, which should prove interesting to me in some future world, looking back. I hope we’ll all be afforded grace for remembrance and reflection when the chaos ends, and I hope there’ll be time enough left for healing the breaks, bruises, lacerations, and gaping wounds. My ESPN let me know early on that I was slated to live in interesting times, with a hint that it wasn’t going to be a cake walk, but I hedged my bets until reality came knocking. Hello, world, how did you get all up in mine?

Every time I sit here to write it’s with the intention of staying upbeat, encouraging myself, putting things in perspective. But as soon as I start thinking, the monologue heads south… why is that? Maybe because every.single.day.without.exception there’s a new crisis, a new scandal, a new threat to our peaceful existence? Is that why I’m a witch at the keyboard? It’s possible…

I read a quote from Patricia Heaton this morning that resonates:

“Being 62 is great! With mortality even more present now and the end looming, you realize… I don’t need to do anything I don’t want to do. I don’t have to tolerate people who aren’t good for me.”

At 73 it’s even more true for me and it’s a nicely-liberating affirmation to take in.

I’m seeing Dr. Schmidt at the Pain Clinic today and I hope she can break this endless loop – my last two injections haven’t touched the nerve pain. If she orders PT I’m here for it.

I hope this much is true…

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Writing it down… page 100

Day 192 – 09/20/2020

Kicking thoughts from pillar to post while I wait on one of Kim’s ranch omelets to rescue me for yet another week. First thought… how can life be so amazingly wonderful and simultaneously so dystopian? By now we kind of know how we got here, but how are we going to get out?

A second thought on a bright cool Sunday morning… mean-spiritedness is killing America – the collective desire to wreak vengeance and/or heap contempt upon “the other side.” Have we never been one side since the Civil War? Or were we ever. It feels like an army of hard-asses is lined up against us bleeding-heart liberals, drawing joy from our tears, our push to save lives AND democracy providing fodder for much hilarity and ridicule. And what does it look like from their side? Do we appear to them as angry, spiteful citizens? What’s the source of this need to wound each other and why can’t we kill it? And what happens to us if we never do?

There’s so much joy to be had in the little things they should be able to make up for the blowback, but that’s a tall order because the bigger things are so very momentous and they’re hanging in the balance. Freedom of speech, freedom of movement, gender freedom, actual rule of law, human equality, a heart for the weakest among us… all the things whose absence makes us less than civilized. It’s worth being thought a fool in the effort not to let them disappear.

A new follower gently ribbed me after reading her first post here: “It started all good and then went gloomy. Now I’ll have to think of all the sad times in my life.” Nailed it, kiddo, what can I say? I’m that mostly-quiet, watches-everything, absorbs-and-translates chick who drives you nuts with her incessant FEELINGS. Holy-moly. But in my defense, there ARE disclaimers.

My mood is fairly hopeful today due to some uncharted combination of factors, so I’ll just enjoy the bounty. But oh, for a safe place to hide until it’s all over. And if there’s something that will keep me from thinking…

Postscript: This is such a good encapsulation of what’s happening, I’m leaving the link here for posterity:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/covid-hurricanes-wildfires-politics-2020-is-an-american-nightmare-that-s-wearing-us-out/ar-BB19evBc?ocid=Peregrine

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The hours… page 99

Day 191 – 09/19/2020

Up at 5:30, looking at the quiet street under my windows… dark and still out. Hearing the morning trains passing through, and wondering what kind of sunrise is being staged just below the horizon. It’s a masochistic act to be awake this early – it stretches the hours like taffy and they feel exactly that thick and cloying – but early-to-bed, early-to-rise is a fact of life and I’m not giving up the early-to-bed part right now, especially heading into another time change. Oh jeez, time change. At least this one’s the easier of the two. Right now, with all of us confused as hell anyway, would be an opportune time to lock this one in – since it’s the real, actual time that God made – and be done with it.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died yesterday and my blood ran cold when I heard. 2020’s fourth quarter may end us, but there’s no way out except right through the middle, so I’m linking arms with my people and staying ’til the closing credits.

And Saturday is here again, with its sweet routines and self-granted permission to do less than nothing. I’ll take it. If I can find a comfy enough hole to settle into I’ll slide on through another weekend and live to tell about it.

There’s a slight pink tinge in the eastern sky, but the sun is a no-show. Oh well, it’s not like we count on it every morning…

Ope – there it is, big, orange, perfectly round, floating in a sea of gray. And life goes on…

Photo Credit: Kim Smith

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The weekend… page 98

Day 190 – 09/18/2020

It’s a morning for thinking thoughts and writing some of them down, just to touch base with me at week’s end. Kim’s playing PickleBall in NoLaw, then has PT out at Ortho’s new facility, so I’m without adult supervision for the next four hours. Oops…

Sitting here soaking up the quiet makes me think of the young professional couple who are moving to our building after experiencing life in one down the street with its noisy all-hours party vibe. I doubt they’ll regret their decision, based solely on the peaceful easy feeling here and the way we let each other be. It would be a steep challenge to achieve this atmosphere in a place where everybody’s renting and most are short-term.

We still have The Skies of Doom from all the fires, a sickly yellow tinge that portends no good, but the sun’s shining through and I just noticed something that made me smile. For about three years a spider has had a summer home on the outside of the big window next to my desk, first in the left-hand corner, then at some point moving to the right. It looks like a fat-bodied garden spider and it’s there at dawn every morning, then hides for the day and comes back out around dusk to prepare its web for dinner guests. The window-washers bring their crane-lift once a year and scrub the glass on all five floors, and for three years running they’ve removed my 8-legged resident’s condo, only to have it reappear the next morning in the same spot every time. The windows got a bath yesterday and my arachnid friend was on the J.O.B. when the sun came up this morning. Google says garden spiders have a lifespan of about a year, so I’m dealing with successive generations here. Wow, the loyalty! It’s all about location, location, location, baby. 😂

Early fall temps have settled in for a while, with daytime 70s and 50s overnight. It was cool on the balcony yesterday with a breeze going, so I came in and put on the socks Kim brought me from 3rd Planet, and kept layering until I was comfy again. It’s the unvarnished me, looking like my Grandma Wagner, feeling utterly Zen, and keeping the fun in funk. For posterity…

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Just the facts, ma’am… page 97

Day 189 – 09/17/2020

Lately I’ve been helping Rita with a big project, meaning she works while I watch and then we get lunch, sometimes joined by Kim. Since it’ll take a month or so to wrap this up, we’ll be spending a lot of hours together, a godsend in a time when we’re choosing to limit everything else. It’s pretty crazy that we landed in the same town for our blue-hair years, and even crazier that we still like each other. And that we have each other’s back – you can’t put a price on that.

My first instinct in life has generally been to trust people, an approach that’s brought me a lot of grief, and yet I persist – I want people to say what they mean and mean what they say. I don’t call myself Pollyanna for nothing. In the course of staying out of the public fray, I still try to engage, keep some kind of dialogue going, have a voice in the daily reality reveal. And so, at least once a day I bump up against fundamental differences with someone I like. Dammit-cwap! Human existence has some hard rules and one is: IT AIN’T ALL ABOUT YOU, SISTAH!

Long months into a multi-headed crisis that’s been drained of language, nearly emptied of emotion, flattened to a resigned “It is what it is,” it’s hard to keep everything sorted. But Kim and I are where we’ve been since the inception – for the sake of conditions and circumstances, we’re opting to mostly stay put until we have better information, a steadily-diminishing infection rate, and possible remedies. Internal memo to everybody else: YOU DO YOU.

The pool-closing out at the Ponderosa is happening this morning, and then PoolBoy will be on hiatus until spring. It’s a bona fide sign of autumn, and I just noticed how much orange is showing up in the leaves outside my window. The yearly melancholy that comes with all of this probably won’t lift until winter, but that isn’t a bad thing – my muse stays close and we work it out.

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Breakthrough… page 96

Day 188 – 09/16/2020

It finally happened. Not because energy welled up from within and burst through my fingertips, but because disgust overwhelmed my ennui at last. Yesterday I studied the smears, smudges, and assorted rubble in front of me until I found myself on my feet, transferring everything to another surface while I decontaminated my desk and surroundings. Today the clean expanse glows, and holds only one extraneous item – so far. My monitor is free of dust and spit-takes. The 3-layer cart next to me has been unloaded, sanitized, purged, and repopulated with nothing but the priority goods, based on need or the shot of Happy they deliver.

It’s cause to wonder what else could happen right under my nose. Will I wake up one morning to discover that the WTF Basket has been whittled down to a sentimental note and an invoice for the t-shirt I really am going to send back? Will the two bins containing The Dread Unsorted find their way into the light and be forced to give up their secrets? My carelessly-hoarded stockpile of duplicate photos, bad photos, totally unnecessary photos… the ever-accumulating email… my series of I Need To Clean That Out folders… will all of that magically come up missing some glad morning? Stranger things have happened.

Since progress and success are not without price, I paid for my random foray into the real world with sciatic pain off the charts, but in my own masochistic way it was worth it. Might see what else I can get into… not sure if it’ll be instigated by ambition, boredom, being grossed out, or all of the above, but anything that moves the story forward is acceptable currency.

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Bowling for buoyancy… page 95

Day 187 – 09/15/2020

Some days the slog is uphill both ways, through rain, hail, sleet, snow, and broken glass. I wake up and Brain says “Again? Nothing’s changed and you want me to engage with this shit show AGAIN? It’s a freakin’ lot of hours ’til bedtime, chicky.” But… life goes on.

I saved this comment by my Twitter friend Kim – it hits me deep, what with the daily carnage everywhere:

As challenging as this stretch of time has been, I know I would have imploded without the things Kurt Vonnegut recommended to us. It’s just a fact.

Things that “make my soul grow” …

Note to me and mine today:

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