The mystery of Monday…

Mondays are ridiculous in retirement because what’s the difference? And yet… our psyches have long been conditioned to know that Friday night to Monday morning IS different, feels different, settles down into us in singular ways; therefore, Mondays feel sleepier and less motivated than most other weekdays, and more susceptible to random naps. I’ll take that…

We have a temporary cool-down outside, from a high of 97º yesterday to a forecast 79º later today – somebody’s dyslexic and it’s very sweet. I wore my granny cardigan on the balcony this morning, but my feet were bare – summer’s here! That doesn’t seem quite real this year, but time doesn’t lie… or so they say…

We’ll have things going on this week and next, and then just like that it’ll be JULY. I remember setting an optimistic goal of July 4th for getting fully vaccinated – and repaired as much as possible – to be ready for life when it returned. It’s happening, we’re here, our community and life around the country are making a comeback, and it feels right and good. The flipside is that too much of the world is still suffering from the pandemic and too many world citizens are still fighting the fixes, but I’m encouraged by the smart people all around me and in leadership, so this Monday morning is going down as a win on the books. I’d rather win every time, I like winning, winning feels excellent. But a friend told me you can’t win ’em all, so some of the victories have to be on the inside. When I kick a blue mood to the curb, when I decide not to think about who’s happy to be free of me, when I feel sorry for myself a teensy little bit and then know I’m an idiot for it… those are wins, dammit, a person can build on those. Watch me. 😂 The sun’s peeking through the cloud cover now, I can do this.

If you’ve ever wished you didn’t care… wished you could make the important things not matter… wished you could turn off, drop out, take a mental hiatus until things come right again… don’t. Don’t wish it, and don’t wish away how it all makes you feel. Life keeps right on going and we’re better off if we go with it, willingly and with some sense of where it might be taking us, though we’re blind in the face of the unknown. We don’t have the luxury of dropping out – life simply doesn’t last that long, even though a random Monday can seem never-ending…

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The weekend…

It’s hot, people, DAMN hot! One evening it was a little too chilly and breezy for the balcony, the next morning it was too hot to sit out there, that’s how it works in Kansas. We broke 100º a few days in a row, which is benign unless you were used to a chill wet spring right up to that point. It’s great, though, it’s exactly what we asked for… sun and warmth… and we’ve been all about it. Yesterday, Rita came over for tuna salad sammiches with all the other good summer stuff, and the three of us spent the afternoon in the pool out on the Ponderosa, doing that thing white people do… getting “a little color.” If Eastern European skin pigment is superior, why do we instinctively know that anything other than pasty white looks and feels better? Make it make sense, universe.

Now we’re slated for a few days of cool-down, and maybe some rain again. Helps when it doesn’t all hit at once without letup, and it feels a little sauna-like today, so maybe there are full clouds on their way.

Speaking of without letup… Arizona ballots from a federal election have now been transferred to a private compound in Montana where they’re being scrutinized for “bamboo fragments” and other imagined irregularities.

  1. How is this even real?
  2. How can it possibly be legal?
  3. Bamboo fragments?

And now other red states are clamoring for their own cyber-ninjas and never-ending “audits.” Make it make sense, please.

In the continuing standoff between the science-inclined and the boogeyman-believers, the latter insist that their guy be given credit for a vaccine they refuse to take, and there’s nothing in this world that can make sense of that, so I’ve done entirely enough thinking until at least Monday morning.

Ready for a lazy afternoon. Ready for sammies and beer. Ready for baseball, so bring it, Royals, our golden boys of summer…

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We carry on…

It was a fun weekend, resulting in a train of thought that’s still on the tracks this morning… and the main nugget is that the hum and swirl of American life rises out of a rich network of subcultures thrumming with energy and heart. Some of our societal microcosms are readily visible on the surface, with signs and symbols we know at a glance… service organizations like the Lions Club; religious groupings; a worldwide fellowship for magicians; the Hell’s Angels; and a club for every possible area of human interest under the sun. Saturday night we got to meet a subculture we previously knew almost nothing about – the world of gyms and cage fighting. When you “know a guy,” you go there.

A young veteran we love and respect owns a gym in the KC area with some other people including his wife, and in the interest of positive advertising, physical fitness, and pure badassery, he’s fought his way to professional status and a spot just under the headliner on the card… so it was time we saw the show for ourselves. A sweltering hot evening, long lines of fans, huge fairgrounds pavilion with big open windows, BBQ, drinks, a light-show going on, music that was primarily heavy-duty vibrations felt from the feet up, long tables arranged concentrically with ends toward the cage, and chairs designed by Satan himself for maximum torture. Knew I was gonna be in trouble, but I wasn’t missing this, even though the undercard consisted of something like fourteen fights before it was our man’s turn. And it was great – we were with friends who are family and everything was laughter and hugs and a feeling I’d forgotten over the past eighteen months… belonging. I found myself doing things I vowed I’d “never do again,” like sip a sistah’s drink when offered, shake hands, hug people face to face, laugh and talk unmasked in a public gathering… but almost three months of being fully vaccinated, plus our negligible transmission rate, makes all the difference. The people-watching was sublime – no worries about the generations coming up, America… they’re beautiful.

Kim has taught me a lot about boxing, which was of absolutely no use in this venue – the action is fast and furious, three 3-minute rounds, and there may have been only one match that lasted through two. Most of the amateur matches were over in under a minute, with someone either knocked out or tapping out, followed by hugs and camaraderie all ’round. These guys fight out of various gyms and mostly know each other, and the whole operation, under the glitz and glitter, is squeaky clean, everybody checked again before entering the cage, everything recorded and monitored. That said, there’s a thing in all of us that loves a winner, and we can turn primitive in a heartbeat when that’s on the line. I can still scream with the loudest of them, and I welcomed every chance to stand up outta that chair. A colossal thank you to DM Bruce Associates for their co-sponsorship of the night and their sweet hospitality to us as always.

Our man Deron “The Pharaoh” Carlis won by knockout in the 2nd round and walked away unmarked, so the evening was a total upper, and when we came home after 10:30, 8th Street was all lights and people, with the streetside dining areas full. We hope the city will let those stay open all summer!

When the light goes… when life dies down to an ember… it’s easy to think it might be finished, never coming back, never the same again. But being in that pavilion on Saturday night, with people from all over the NE corner of Kansas, having Deron’s (ridiculously young) parents come over to hug us, and seeing other people we’ve met since moving here, full of happiness and hugs, was a little revelation: I still need other humans, they aren’t all impossible to communicate with, and it feels good to care. Who knew cage fighting could do all that?

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Zen for the Third Trimester of Living

It’s a sunny Monday, there are actual butterflies outside my window, and I’m feeling all charitable and positive-y, blessed be. The morning walker brought me a nice warm Everything bagel, made a fresh pot of coffee, and started the day/week with hugs, so I already owe him AND the universe, meaning a good attitude is the very least I can do, and it’s so simple on the good days…

My fav RN and I had a text convo this morning that touched a little on what I’m sharing now, in the sense that one way to survive in a whacked-out world is via a simple formula: Get in, do your job, get out, live your life. This piece of writing, found unattributed, provides a fairly decent manifesto for doing that at this stage:

I asked a friend who has crossed 70 and is heading towards 80 what sort of changes she’s feeling in herself. She sent me the following:

1.   After loving my parents, my siblings, my spouse, my children, and my friends, I have now started loving myself.

2.   I have realized that I am not “Atlas.” The world does not rest on my shoulders.

3.   I have stopped bargaining with vendors. A few pennies more is not going to break me, but it might help the poor guy save for his daughter’s school fees.

4.  I leave my waitress a big tip. The extra money might bring a smile to her face. She’s working much harder for a living than I am.

5.  I stopped telling the elderly that they’ve already narrated that story many times. The story makes them walk down memory lane & relive their past.

6.  I have learned not to correct people even when I know they are wrong. The onus of making everyone perfect is not on me. Peace is more precious than perfection.

7.   I give compliments freely and generously. Compliments are a mood enhancer not only for the recipient but also for me. And a small tip for the recipient of a compliment: never, NEVER turn it down, just say “Thank you.”

8.   I have learned not to bother about a crease or a spot on my shirt. Personality speaks louder than appearances.

9.   I walk away from people who don’t value me. They might not know my worth, but I do.

10.   I remain cool when someone plays dirty to outrun me in the rat race. I am not a rat and neither am I in any race.

11.   I am learning not to be embarrassed by my emotions. It’s my emotions that make me human.

12.   I have learned that it’s better to drop the ego than to break a relationship. My ego will keep me aloof, whereas, with relationships, I will never be alone.

13.   I have learned to live each day as if it’s the last. After all, it might be the last.

14.   I am doing what makes me happy. I am responsible for my happiness, and I owe it to myself. Happiness is a choice. You can be happy at any time, just choose to be!

Author unknown but appreciated

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Smile, be kind, take in a little happiness… it befuddles the naysayers and makes children and old people feel better.

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The Temptation of Truth

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The Lie said to the Truth, “Let’s take a bath together, the well water is very nice. The Truth, suspicious, tested the water and found it was indeed nice. So they got naked and bathed. But suddenly, the Lie leapt out of the water and fled, wearing the clothes of the Truth.

The Truth, furious, climbed out of the well to get her clothes back. But the World, upon seeing the naked Truth, looked away with anger and contempt. Poor Truth returned to the well and disappeared forever, hiding her shame. Since then the Lie runs around the world dressed as the Truth, and society is very happy…

Because the world has no desire to know the naked Truth.

*19th Century legend

**Painting: Truth Coming Out Of The Well, Jean-Léon Gérome, 1896

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Despite hopeful movement toward restoration, the upheaval we hoped would end when the former guy left isn’t over at all. The people who want America to have an authoritarian form of government want it BAD, and they never give up on that ideal nor its methods, so the battle for recovery will be uphill all the way. Our consolation is that the adults are running the shop again and a fair-to-middling MAJORITY of us want to stick with democratic rule. Joe Biden, the first American president to say it out loud, told us the other day that “Democracy is in peril in America,” and that’s clear to anybody paying attention.

Encouragingly, while we’re fighting to hang onto our very way of life, things are happening on all fronts, much of it positive. One wee problem that does need lots of work…

Ongoing stress and turmoil notwithstanding, the world turns. Every day. And life is about more than just surviving… we still want what we want, need what we need, and those things are all wrapped up in the freedom to be.

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Plausible invisibility…

For my niece KG, my friend VP, et al

We walk among people every day whose physical lives are defined and confined by invisible illnesses of the immune system. They know it, we don’t. They feel it, we can’t. Lacking a cure or effective treatment protocols for something called fibromyalgia, for instance, doctors have traditionally preferred to suss out other “causes” they know how to prescribe for. As research is turning up clues and avenues for possible treatment, the wheelbarrow load of symptoms that’s been newly-labeled as ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis chronic fatigue syndrome) may finally be coming into favor enough for medical professionals to seriously address it. That would be nice. My friends-and-family circle is dotted with immunocompromised individuals who live quietly inside bodies full of pain and perpetual exhaustion, so an intentional focus by the medical community would be as welcome as rain… says the girl who loves rain. A truly frustrating part of autoimmune disorders is their capricious nature – they flit around in the body, inflicting bits of torture here and there, feinting, withdrawing, teasing, tormenting. And then they all take a powder somewhere and HEY! A GOOD DAY!! Blessed be if it happens on a day when you really, really, really want to do something.

Some autoimmune disorders eventually leave markers that become visible to the casual observer, but some don’t, staying hidden at cell level, disrupting the daily peace of the carrier at will. Talking to someone who’s never experienced anything like it is generally not very helpful. And complaining just… well, we all know where that gets us in life. We humans believe what we can see, touch, taste, smell, and hear. We don’t do well with “phantom” illnesses, in ourselves or others – “You’re up walking around, taking nourishment, so show us the medical report or you’re a lazy piker.” America has little patience with those who can’t or won’t tote that barge, lift that bale. Who ever said life was fair, right?

Someone you know has an illness you can’t see, so a few things…

1) That person is fighting every day just to be able to participate in life

2) It likely never occurred to them that one day they’d wake up sick and never get better

3) Trying to be stronger than one feels is exhausting – be patient

As for the curious claim that people with invisible illnesses are “faking it,” what can we even say? What would they gain from that? Being in pain, unable to move freely, medicated, in and out of doctors’ offices, spending thousands on medical expenses, experiencing the gamut of emotions that accompanies chronic illness, missing most of what people call life because they can’t “get there.” Easy to fake and totally cool, right? We all wish we could find a sweet deal like that and coast.

Everyone you know, every human you’ll never know, deserves personal dignity and at least a pinch of understanding, so if empathy isn’t really your thing, at least give them that much. Leave them that tiny place inside that believes they’ll be better someday. And never forget that they miss their old carefree smiling selves, too.

This has been a PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT on behalf of hurting people everywhere. Thank you for your support.

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Mitch Teemley

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