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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The Tale of the Topless Dancer, the Baby Clown, and the Cross-Country Heist …

Someone reminded me of this recently… worth a rerun.

In the end it was the rain that did it.  Her breath stopped short that morning as a thread unraveled in the middle of her chest and let go. Water kept falling everywhere-all-the-time-non-stop and she instinctively knew one more day of it would finish her.  That and the asshole she lived with.  Him more than the rain, because when things were new and intoxicating between them the incessant rain had felt nurturing and cocoon-like and hadn’t sent her mood into the toilet.  Zoe had to face it, The Asshole was the cause of her angst, and just like that she couldn’t wait one more second to get far, far away from him.

Fragments of escape possibilities, the kind every smart woman hangs onto for eventualities, jumped around in her head.  When the guy shopping for groceries who persuaded you into his bed on sight… or had it been the other way around… lets you know, none too subtly, that you’re replaceable… a girl has to start reviewing her options.  There weren’t many, she didn’t even have a car, but she was pretty sure she could recruit Teresa and Bobby Lee, whose jobs happened after dark, to help her with the plan she was hatching.

Turned out things were currently loosey-goosey for her day-tripper friends. They’d just been hanging out ’til the next opportunity, and picking up a U-Haul day-rental sounded like a fun little diversion.  So while The A-hole was away on a job, she and Teresa and Bobby Lee – who was strung out enough to let the girls do most of the work, not that he was all that helpful under primo conditions – loaded her stuff, what there was of it, into the truck.  Zoe was possessed by a sense of urgency – go, go, get it done, get out of here – but it wasn’t easy keeping her helpers on task, especially with her brain zinging like a sparkler. Teresa was wearing her customary 6-inch heels, and although Zoe had to admit her friend was as skilled at navigating her spikes on the ground as she was on the pole, all she wanted was to keep moving and be gone before he got home, leaving no trace of herself behind.  

In the kitchen she made a snap decision not to leave him so much as a fucking knife and fork.  She was done.  Finished.  Tired of being played, tired of living at the frayed edge of the law, tired of people she didn’t know showing up at her house at all hours, sleeping there, drinking her beer like it was water, stinking up her bathroom, leaving everything for her to clean up.  And the guns – she was weary of all the firearms. The Big A, until recently The Desired Beloved, kept a .357 Magnum in the bedroom, handy but out of sight, and that had been preying on her thoughts more and more, not because she especially feared finding herself on the business end of it, but because – HOLY GOD – she had a small son who was nothing if not curious.  Her SON!!  Her almost-four-year-old Jacob was at the circus with his second mom, her closest friend, and she had to figure out a way to pick him up on her way out of town!

The rain took a smoke break, they wrapped up the load-out, and she got ready to say her goodbyes, but Bobby Lee had other plans.  By now, the three of them had tacitly acknowledged that this was no day trip, and Bobby Lee, the proverbial good-hearted gangstah, who would find himself cooling it in prison not long after, was reluctant to let her set out cross-country without a companion.  So when Zoe rolled out of the driveway, ensconced in the passenger seat was Teresa, decked out in her CFM spikes, little ankle socks, and one of her eclectic outfits.  The three extra thongs she carried in her battered model’s bag would have to suffice for the duration.  And of course more stilettos and their adorable sock friends – a girl goes nowhere without options.  The tops and little shorts and scarves and vests she favored for covering her lusciously-acceptable assets took up barely any room, and what self-respecting artist leaves home without her makeup?  TRIP. ON!!

The day was getting away.  What if he came home, saw what she’d done, and started tracking her down? The girls navigated their way to the circus, located Jacob laughing with his friends Izzy and Marc, and whisked him away as unobtrusively as they could considering that he was having the time of his life.  Second Mom had taken the boys down to the floor for face-painting and not only was Jacob in clown-face, he’d won Best Award for the incredible look he’d given himself.  Irony of ironies, it ended up as a full-page photo in the local paper, but not until after the little entourage was halfway across the country.

It must have been a hilariously harrowing trip from the coast to the heartland… the falling-apart country girl, the miniature clown who declined to have his face washed in any service station restroom, and the drop-dead-hot topless dancer.  God only knows what Teresa cooked up to keep Jacob entertained with along the way, but she’d never been accused of lacking in creativity and she had a nurturing streak.

They managed to get across the state line before the truck started breaking down and losing A/C.  With no other choice and facing potential defeat, they pulled into the first U-Haul place they saw, where not only did the gracious employees put them into a brand new truck, they transferred the load for them.  Meanwhile, Teresa nabbed the paperwork from the office and had a private moment with it in the Ladies, changing just enough numbers to keep law enforcement in the rearview mirror for as long as possible.

Okay… back on the road.  Drive, catnap, get junk food… drive, catnap, get junk food… straight through to the middle of the continent.  Zoe wished Teresa would get behind the wheel once in a while, but she trusted herself more so she kept her mouth shut.  Mile after mile over the next two days, through dark and light, her mind was occupied with the immediate past, the slightly-unhinged present, and the murky future.  “How – really, time to be honest here – did you end up as a 21-year-old single mom living with a big-time coke dealer who finances his operation by stealing and chopping high-end cars?  I mean… really. Let’s talk.” Despite being more adventurous than most, she’d always seen herself as a good girl.  And notwithstanding a couple of rough patches with drugs, binge-drinking, and heartbreak, resulting in a few ill-timed decisions and close-call extrications, she still knew she was a good girl.  She just needed to get away from a bad situation and clear her head and she’d be fine.  She had to get clean, too, a process that was already underway since she and Teresa had fled with only so much stuff.  Zoe knew she’d be crashing about the time they reached their destination and this wasn’t going to be pretty… but when you need time and a fortress, you head home.

She didn’t call ahead, her reasoning emotion-driven … what if her mom or dad sounded dismayed at the news that she was on her way back to the farm?  What if that much warning was all they needed to head to the mountains?  What if they said, We can’t do this, you’ll have to figure it out on your own.  She knew, worn down as she was, that anything less than love and acceptance at this point would break her, so she kept her foot jammed in the gas pedal and her eyes on the road.

Halfway through the third day out she turned in at the farm, her little clown asleep in a crumpled heap on the seat, his face paint smeary and faded, and the dancer folded up against the door looking shaky and shop-worn.  And surprise, surprise, no mom and dad. Genuinely stunned that her instincts had been right for once, and so exhausted her knees would barely keep her upright, Zoe decided to pull a Scarlet and think about it tomorrow.

Sure enough, show up on the morrow they did, the parental units, visibly distressed to see a U-Haul truck in the yard and their daughter and grandson right there in the flesh, big as life and twice as natural.  Oh WELL, Zoe thought, so much for ready acceptance and a port in the storm… time will have to be my friend.  Wonder how much slack they’ll cut me on that?

As it turned out, slack-cutting was in Zoe’s favor but Teresa had to go. One look at her exotic, tall, blonde, stacked loveliness, legs all the way to her ass, starting with the six-inch stilettos and those baby-doll socks that promised everything, and Zoe’s mom decreed that Teresa would need to be on the next flight out.  She was.  They drove her to the airport the following morning, however much her dad may have inwardly wished for a week or so to get acquainted.  Back to the coast ma’am, end of story, thanks, and all that.

Zoe and her dad off-loaded the truck into an outbuilding, and after a couple of days had passed he asked, “Shouldn’t we be getting that truck turned in?”

“Well, no,” Zoe said, “it isn’t going back – that’s… the rest of the story.”

So at dusk she filled it with gas from the farm tank, and with her mom and dad following she drove, drove, drove, drove, far out into the countryside, parked it where it would eventually be discovered, and in the pitch dark carefully wiped it down, leaving it unlocked, keys in the ignition. While she industriously removed DNA from the truck, her dad was fretting and urging her to hurry.  He kept saying “I just know we’re gonna get caught.”

Her mom finally said “Oh, hush.  You’ve watched entirely too much TV.” That and her general enthusiasm over the night’s shenanigans almost moved Zoe to forgive her for her initial coolness.  But no… not ready yet, and she had too many overwhelming things to figure out before she’d know who she was again. So she crawled into her parents’ back seat, fell asleep on the way home, and proceeded to lie on their couch in a fetal position for a couple of weeks while life took a vacation.

Eventually one morning she woke up to sunshine and her old self-mocking mantra popped into her head, “Good girls go to heaven.  Bad girls go everywhere.”  Well, hell, she thought… I’d better get going.

And she did.

{Not exactly fiction — you can’t make this shit up.}

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Time, yeah… page 94

Day 185 – 09/13/2020

I fronted a smooth face to the world for a long time. But now, thanks to the power of genetics, when I look in the mirror I see all my grandmothers looking back at me, and like Nora Ephron I feel bad about my neck, so – SCREW mirrors. The never-ending decade formerly known as 2020 is aging me from the inside out in subtle but irrefutable ways, something I vowed wouldn’t happen. The joke’s on me… life and time run this show and both are brief and merciless.

One truth that’s emerging from the current chaos is that hope keeps us young and if it starts to fade to any quantifiable degree our remaining store of callow youth goes with it… and you can’t get that back. It’s the age-old story… the tree, the fruit, the serpent, the question, the opportunity… and the choice… to know. Once we see behind the curtain the world changes forever, but without truth nothing evolves upward, especially the difficult truths, the ones we try to avoid, so it all has to be faced. There are things I wish I didn’t know about my nation, my neighbors, and the world… but as all the best people are saying, “It is what it is.” Innocence has been deflowered and total adult knowledge and responsibility have landed on our doorstep. Dammit-cwap.

Perhaps I’ll achieve this venerated state of wisdom…

John said something yesterday that will stay with me. He was updating me on friends whose plans for future retirement are altogether lovely but currently almost beyond reach, and when I showed concern that time and circumstances might keep them from realizing their goals, he put it all into perspective with one profound thought… “Sometimes the planning and hoping is the payoff.” That’s so sweetly true. Once in a while when we’re hanging out on the balcony, talking about the price of cotton and how high the river might rise, Kim and I build sand castles out of ways to spend lottery money… the people we’d share with, the promises we’d keep, the possibilities that would suddenly be open to us just for having several million dollars at our disposal. Our plans are always doable and perfectly reasonable, but actually achieving them would be far more time-and-labor-intensive and less-perfect than the dreaming, we know that… so things are totally fine as they are.

We’re here for it, though, if it ever happens – we’d be just darling as bona fide millionaires.

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Sunshine again… page 93

Day 184 – 09/12/2020

Mist, rain, autumn air… the stuff moods are made of. By September, melancholy starts to scoop me up and set me down in other places, in other times, and the memories are crisp. Every sight, sound, and aroma speaks of the past, distant or close, and the fact of being alive registers in conscious ways. The missing… those who’ve died and those who’ve chosen to absent themselves from me… and the handful for whom I’ve done the same… those losses are still grieved. Acquaintances, friends, extended family… the attrition is never easy and each exit leaves a mark. Endings are hard and they’re rarely the end, so with the arrival of fall every year the goodbyes all have to be replayed, reabsorbed, reconciled… while the beauty of the season both breaks our hearts and renews us.

Over a lifetime, I’ve accumulated a few blues-beaters in my medicine bag, including humor, music, reading, writing, good conversation with people I love… and let’s face it, food and drink. But sometimes the only right response to a stretch of bad highway is sass and sarcasm… and movin’ on down the road.

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Reading the room… page 92

Day 183 – 09/11/2020

As I type today’s date, it all comes back… the planes, the chaos, the unimaginable death toll… the knowledge that we’re as vulnerable to sudden destruction as any nation in the world. And now we know we’re equally vulnerable to another unseen enemy, with the number of dead exceeding the 9/11 count by orders of magnitude. The aftermath of what happened to us on September 11, 2001 is ongoing, but the actual events of the day had an end. By contrast, the pandemic we’re living through carries no expiration date, no terminus, no promise of a return to life as we knew it… and it requires a psychic adjustment every morning.

There are days when “time flits, oh shit,” and others that spool out their minutes in laborious 60-second increments, everything in slow motion, a record played at the wrong speed. I daily replay my role as a barely-sentient lump while my thoughts slam around inside my skull like a trapped moth, and there are only so many ways to diffuse that kind of energy, crying being one, writing it down being another. My old go-to, reading, is there again, to a point. My powers of concentration still leave a lot to be desired, but I’ve picked a few winners lately that have improved my frame of mind.

Fausto Brizzi’s 100 DAYS OF HAPPINESS was stellar. I next tried to read Sinclair Lewis’s IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE, but it’s too close to the bone right now. I started THE LADIES AUXILIARY by Tova Mirvis, which is wonderful, put it on pause to read Michael Cohen’s DISLOYAL, a terrific choice if I’m going to read only ONE of the many accounts exploding onto the stage at the moment, and now I’m returning to THE LADIES… and I’m acknowledging the profound sense of gratitude that accompanies the return of an old friend… one of my very oldest. There’s really nothing to compare with the deep joy of opening the door to another world and falling for the characters I find there. The things we should never take for granted comprise a long list.

This morning’s dawn was wet and gray, much like yesterday’s, and PickleBall not being an option Kim’s out for a bundled-up walk. There are things I could do today… declutter my desk, reorganize the 3-basket cart next to it, sort the remaining odds & ends on the dresser… pay a bill, start a load of laundry, dump computer files… but here’s how it will likely go: I’ll sit right here for another hour writing, reading, and drinking coffee… eventually I’ll pick one thing from the list of possibilities, do it, briefly feel good about myself… and slide into The Zone again. That’s my best guess. Looking forward to the day when I shock myself with an energy burst but until then I’m glad for pages to turn…

Postscript: Kim brought me a blueberry-lemon Danish from Wheatfields’ and delivered it to my desk warm, so today’s showing definite potential. Carpe Diem, chicky.

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Seasons… page 91

Day 181 – 09/09/2020

It’s misty, windy, and chill again this morning and it rained before dawn. The showers may stick around for a bit, and our highest forecast temp through next Wednesday is 83º so the times they are a changin’.

The seasonal transition to fall is the best, followed by winter-to-spring… everything seems to come ’round right, with new air, different foliage, the desire to FEEL it all again. And even though autumn has delivered a heavy load of melancholy since October 1985, it magically renews me every year like clockwork. In the swirl and murk of multiple crises bearing down on us, my spirit’s been waking me up the past few mornings with a jolt of happiness… anticipation even. Hello, soft muse, I’ve missed you.

Photo Credit: Kim Smith

Since there are good and positive aspects to every experience I’m consciously seeking them out, and one I’m happily aware of is the opportunity I’ve had to get healthy. Among other things I could whine about, I took a doctor-prescribed Rx for about eighteen months that altered my body chemistry or some such for the next three years, and now I have things almost squared away again which produces a fierce sense of gratitude. As recently as March, shortly after we started isolating, I had to give up coffee, of all slings and arrows, but with the advent of cooler weather I braved a trial mug and discovered that we’re friends again. If that wouldn’t make a girl feel better in September, you have to wonder what it would take.

Fall is about endings so it inevitably holds a hint of sadness for most of us, but its quiet, gentle beauty provides a store of firewood for whatever winter brings. I have a nice little stash going here, gathered from my desk as I watch the leaves change from one day to the next. The arrival of a new season is giving me hope… life goes on, the planet keeps turning, things we couldn’t possibly bear up under have happened and we’re still standing, so my hat’s in the ring until the large female vocalist lets us know differently.

Under everything, always, is this…

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Happy Days… page 90

Day 180 – 09/08/2020

We’re cliff-diving today… yesterday’s high temp was 96º and today’s will be around 59º with overcast skies, rain, and wind. Capricious Kansas.

Closing out a beautiful weekend with rain couldn’t be more perfect. This may have been the most memorable birthday celebration since my 50th with my sisters in Colorado, for different reasons but with the same sweet vibe, and I came out feeling cherished, something we should all get to experience at least once. I had loving convos with my boys, greetings from enough friends and family to match my age, and a totally-unexpected gift from some of the best friends anyone could ever ask for. This amazing armful of flowers left me speechless and on the verge of tears…

The weekend weather was conducive to staying in until evening balcony drinks, Kim made the food I love, and we spent three days being goofy together and feeling wrapped in cotton. Su-weet.

The sunflowers are in bloom out at Grinter Farms and I’d love to see them this year, but for now a shot that fits the day…

River Photo Credit: Kim Smith

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