Sea change…

*

Look at the time, it’s the next-to-last day of summer already! We have a nice cool morning ahead of our 100º high… the sun’s shining, the mowers are mowing, the fresh-cut grass smells like a benediction… and I enjoyed my morning walk before 7:30. We’re supposed to be in the mid-80s tomorrow, and then autumn greets us on Thursday with a high of 61º and rain, wouldn’t that be perfection. Seemed like kind of a short summer, but they all do now, and we’re ready for the loveliness fall brings.

It’s been a week since I sat here and wrote anything, but not for lack of opportunity and effort. I learned early on that my muse does not reward effort… she values only my trust. First and foremost: coffee, preferably Kim’s, which is steeped in love and not tainted by Starry-eyed capitalism. 😊 Next, quiet and focus, which might not be exactly what you envision. I can stare at a leaf outside my window while I write a whole paragraph without glancing at the keyboard. Is that a marketable talent? SPOILER: No. No, it is not. But it’s a good exercise when it works.

And then, when the quiet settles down around me, we talk, my elusive muse and I. She brooks no untruth, no dissembling, no dancing around the real stuff, and sometimes she simply goes away until I’m ready for it. She knows the world is a hard place to be right now if you possess awareness… that double-edged sword of knowledge. She knows other species don’t have to deal with this aspect of life on earth, so she tries extra hard to be kind while tormenting me with things I could maybe think about.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about loneliness… what it is and what sort of power we hold over it… and as with all of life, it comes down to balance. Kim gets twitchy-butt if he stays indoors for too long, whereas it’s pretty okay with me in here most of the time. It does get really quiet, though, especially without the talking heads on TV news who used to babysit me. What I’ve realized is that often all I crave is the murmur, the presence of other people, and I don’t even need to be part of the conversation. Times when I’m happy to sit in the corner of a coffee shop with my iPad, on the periphery, listening to the ebb and flow of communal existence while bearing no responsibility for decisions being made around me, simply benefitting from the nearness of others who resemble me. And then I toddle back home, thankful for the grace of peace and silence.

***

I think about what it means to be an introvert, an empath, a peacemaker, and a relentless advocate for truth and justice, all wrapped up in one neat little neurotic bundle… and mostly it means that at any given time somebody’s really pissed at me and would love to tell me so, and that my spirit is basically conflicted nonstop… but whaddaya gonna do. Refer to description in this paragraph… by the stars, I never had a chance.

***

Life is an endless puzzle, but a bit of awareness and longevity go a long way, and eventually, over years of paying attention, a pattern emerges. Humans are selfish and lazy; therefore, life has only a partial shot at running smoothly at any point in time, and given free reign we will screw things up past all fixing. Are we there yet? Feels like we’re there. I saw this yesterday. It’s real. Feel free to google it.

Dealing with the day-to-day is a contact sport not suited for the faint of heart nor the easily discouraged, and that’s without assholery like the above. Ya’ll can have Orange Jesus 100% to yourselves, thx.

***

I plan to do the same. Hope it works out that way for you, too.

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Rainy-day conversation…

Got up early, possibly because I was asleep before 9pm last night, or maybe because the barometric pressure sent a wake-up call. Stepped onto the balcony into a wall of humidity that took my breath away. Within minutes the sky lost its budding sunrise, there was jagged lightning in its place, we heard delicious crashes of thunder… and then the deluge hit. For a while it was positively monsoon-like, with trees whipping in all directions, and I see there’s a pot or two tumped over outside. The streetlights are back on for the third time and the rain is again coming down in windblown sheets… meanwhile, I’m being a mouse while Kim sleeps off his second COVID booster. I love a dark, stormy morning… perfect for sleeping babes.

A lot of people in East Lawrence don’t own personal transportation, so there are always walkers out year-round. As the rain gushes from the sky, soaking flora and fauna and sending out wicked flashes of lightning, I’m glad I wasn’t wandering around outside when it hit, and that I put extra effort into yesterday’s walk. When the first steps out of the gate are an easy stroll, it’s time to make it all ache again so I did, and on the homeward lap I thought of the goals that have been at the bottom of my medical assessment sheet for the past five years or more:

  1. Be able to walk for at least an hour without nerve pain
  2. Spend more time with my sister, and finish things I’ve started

Wow, done and done… and starting a few new ones. Amazing how that works, and it’s a real gift to be able to use my time constructively since those hours will pass one way or another anyway and be gone!

This morning under dark skies that somehow feel promising, I’m proud of my state for once again leading the nation in a moral human issue just as we did with slavery, and for not buying into a desperate last-ditch lie. It gives me crazy hope for a future.

When in doubt, ask “What Would John Brown Do??

***

And now I shall spend the remainder of my morning here… please enjoy yours fully.

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Thinking in print…

If writing is one of your best emotional outlets, you know it doesn’t take much to plant the seed of a thought. I was out for my walk just now, in the early morning cool, and in that relatively brief span of time my senses were stirred in more ways than one.

I’m still opting for flat sidewalks ’til the spine says move on again, so that keeps me within the general downtown area, where early mornings are quiet, with mostly dog walkers and food delivery trucks for company. The route I picked out of the hat this time took me past the Salvation Army building, whose yard is currently hosting a tatty old recliner that must be holding onto several gallons of ammonia. Somebody haul that thing off, ‘k? My senses were definitely awake from that point on.

Once normal breathing returned, I started picking up the breakfast aromas along Mass Street and was ready to make the return loop toward home. Just outside our building I met a neighbor out walking a very beautiful, gentle dog with eyes that looked almost human. My neighbor introduced her as Rosie and said that she’s just recently rescued her from a puppy mill where Rosie was a breeder bitch. After successful pregnancies, Rosie exhibited a false one and was kicked out of the facility. No babies, no eat. No shelter, no care, no love, no survive. Beautiful sweet Rosie is clearly one of the lucky ones… she got out. And she’s sleek and healthy and not broken down… because she got out. But Rosie’s lonely. She misses her babies and her sisters. So my neighbor is on the list to get a puppy from one of Rosie’s sisters, who is due to deliver any day. And I hope Rosie’s sadness will turn to healing. I know, still breeders, but we fix one thing and then work on the rest. My heightened senses (thx, pee-soaked chair) are still rolling it around between heart and brain… and that spot inside that says “You see more than you understand.”

A sweet scenario would have been for a good girl like Rosie to meet a nice baby-daddy and settle in with him to raise however many litters of puppies they were blessed with… to be well cared-for… and to die at a peaceful old dog age without ever having been forced into any of it. That’s what my eyes see… my heart will work on the understanding. And already it’s saying “Every girl’s a good girl ’til life happens. And then she’s still a good girl, it’s just public perception that changes.”

Thanks, heart, I can always count on you.

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Personhood…

Ironically, Mr. Salinger was one of them.

Tomorrow will be the coolest day this week at 89º, then mid to upper 90s after that for the foreseeable. Mornings are prime and on this one I managed to kick myself out the door after doing less than nothing all day yesterday. I love wandering around East Lawrence… there are no two houses alike, and I see something new every morning. There’s art everywhere… on the porches and in yards… not for sale, but because artists on this end of town are crawling out of the woodwork and then carving it into fantastical shapes. I’ve been staying on good sidewalks for a little while… just a stage in the process… but I’m about ready for all-out hiking with Rita again when it isn’t dangerously stifling outside.

***

The fallout from the Supremes’ ill-advised meltdown continues, and it affects every one of us who values herself as a person, especially since it takes some of us a lifetime to get there after being “groomed” to believe we’re weak, ineffective, wrong, and less-than. I was close to 60 before I started really getting to know and appreciate myself, and this official smackdown feels personal despite the fact that I turned in my baby-making equipment decades ago. It was never about babies anyway… it’s always been about power and control. For all the reasons, I have a problem with that approach, and I know I’m not the only one. Millions of women are still consistently voting against their own safety and well-being, but millions more know we’ve been had from the beginning, and I doubt your run-of-the-mill man-on-the-street has a clue how deep that current runs. We can’t please everyone, nor is that our reason for existing.

Why would I care… I’m old, right? Why do I even harbor an opinion? What if half my fellow Americans want me to fade out and shut up about all of it? Sorry, not that old yet. I go on Twitter in the mornings and wave my freak flag around for a while, happily giving a heart to everything I agree with, mouthing off, venting, picking up a few laughs… then wander away to Facebook with my adult face on (sometimes). I’m harmless, if annoying, and people should be grateful I don’t have the piss & vinegar to be an actual problem, which is true of most “old” people I know. Word of advice: Don’t turn your back on us.

I say we purposely go about changing the perception that we’re accessories who are better seen but not heard in public…

***

General male wisdom** holds that feelings and emotions interfere with real life, but Mansi and I say…

**My personal husband Kim Smith is exempt from all such aspersions.

***

Apropos of nothing, and reflecting only a mood of fond reminiscence…

I’m fine, it’s fine, everything’s fine, hope you’re fine…

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Living in harmony…

Good morning, fellow conspirators, I hope your day’s spooling out in proper order so far. In my own little world, I was gently awakened with the words “There’s a bagel waiting for you,” and indeed there was. Everything… toasted… still warm…with veggie schmear… after which I was ready for anything, so I walked to Massachusetts… and from there to the Kaw to watch it roar and tumble. I stay close to the head-high railing because lots of bicyclists go back and forth on the walkway and I can’t always hear their shouted “On your right” or “on your left.” This morning I waited for someone on a bright yellow bike to pass, but instead the rider slowed and pulled to a stop. He turned out to be a very cheerful skinny old man my age who immediately struck up a conversation about how much water continues to sluice through town from the west. Turns out he’s a retired professor from Baker University by way of Atlanta, lives not far from downtown, loves to ride the bridge, and has a knack for making somebody’s day. Old people are so precious… if you make eye contact we’ll talk to you, so watch yourself, but we do know shit and we feel seen when somebody acts marginally interested.

From the category of Unsought Information… you see me talking about walking to various states. Here’s the deal… I’ve always heard that our north/south streets were named in the order the states entered the union, so here’s what I did, I googled it. Right there’s the fraction of difference between thinking you know something and finding out. Here’s what I found…

ARE LAWRENCE’S STATE STREETS REALLY NAMED FOR STATES IN THE ORDER THEY CAME INTO THE UNION?

Great question! The answer is, sort of. Here are the states by order of entry into the Union. If you go by this list, the state streets in Lawrence are numbers 1, 2, 3, 11, 5, 13, 9, 6 (Massachusetts). Then numbers 14 (Vermont) through 27 (Florida) are in perfect order. Then it goes 32, 30, 38, 31, 29 (Iowa). It seems that after Iowa Street, the city planners pretty much gave up. Here is a great article on the reasons (or lack thereof) behind this order. It’s interesting to note many of the southern states were purposefully left out.

***

Okay, there ya’ go, make of it what you will… or can. My job is to keep walking cross-country.

***

Currently making the rounds online is a rant that requires a second and third look and a well-measured rebuttal, which someone has been kind enough to provide. I hope everyone on social media who reads the first installment will also read the second. The first makes one kind of statement, the second another.

From the article accompanying the quotes:

“The most interesting thing about the initial post is the sense of victimization coming from the original poster. It seems to say that having to pay attention to issues of justice and civil rights and being asked to acknowledge the ongoing impact of historical oppression and what role each of us might play in keeping others down somehow takes something away from them.

“Being asked to see and care about victims of injustice doesn’t make you a victim yourself. The logic there is so strange. And what does it mean to shove being gay down someone’s throat? Because of course it would be reasonable to push back against someone actually cramming something down your throat, but in this context ‘shove it down my throat’ usually means ‘did something publicly in my line of vision.’ Not the same thing.”

.

A commenter said: “I spend so much time surrounded by straight guys who talk about nothing except women’s bodies and sex, but my pride flag bumper sticker is apparently throwing my sexuality in people’s throats.”

.

See interpretation below…

***

We want to believe that the divisions are many, but it’s really all one thing and nobody wants to deal with it down to a nubbin until it’s actually solved… how to survive together on a small planet.

Raises hand. Looks closely.

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Expectations v the real world…

It’s a beautiful 4th of July, but it’ll be a quiet one… nobody in this house is in the mood to celebrate the recent annulment of independence on what was a holiday in its honor. Independence is solely for straight white Christian men, so all the glorious speeches today about what it means to live free or die will ring hollow and mean little. Fireworks are a sad joke… they torture innocent animals while everything goes up in smoke and noise, truly a metaphor for the day. Women have been put firmly back in our “place” which we’re supposed to “know” and adhere to. It’s been made crystal clear that we are brood mares, entitled to room and board but tasked with every responsibility men don’t care to own. And since the Court has for the first time in its history REMOVED rights from U.S. citizens, we can realistically kiss them ALL goodbye. So far, we’ve seen the demise of women’s hard-fought right to manage our own bodies, the striking down of birth control rights and freedom even for married couples, and the right of every human to breathe clean air. Now Clarence and Company are taking a second look at Obergefell, and anyone who thinks the right to marry the person you love won’t be erased… is delusional. As the dominoes continue to fall, swerving conspicuously around Clarence’s mixed marriage, once illegal and calling for death-by-citizen, they’ll get to our right to vote, and women will truly be out on our ear. But none of this is new nor recent… Abigail Adams’ entreaties to her husband were made nearly 250 years ago.

***

We stand helplessly by as we watch democracy being systematically dismantled, the power of change having been removed from our hands while we weren’t watching. It’s all very sad and maddening, and in the end inevitable. Self-government requires that everybody pull their weight, contribute to the good of all, stay informed, and vote. We’ve lost much of that, along with the capacity to face truth, deal with it head on, and make the changes required to actually fix anything. Thus, the oligarchs are taking over, the Supremes are legislating from the bench, the legislature is ruling from the minority, and the presidency has been damaged and weakened. We came within a hair’s breadth of tyranny on January 6 of last year, and we are nowhere close to being out of danger as a nation. If there are American citizens left who feel an urging to help set things right, now would be the time.

***

Crucial to bear in mind…

***

***

And it contains no glee nor happiness.

***

I wish everyone an honest July 4th, eyes wide open. Celebrate the wins, grieve the losses. Fully own the independent spirit that lives inside you, a force no one but you can cancel. Stay strong… Lady Liberty’s about to go through some things and she needs our support. And to quote John Prine, “I still love America, I just don’t know how to get there anymore.”

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Reality intrudes…

This was a ridiculous week to run out of my antidepressant and forget to pick it up… the week the Supremes decided to burn it all down. And now I’m awake early on a rainy Saturday morning, reading headlines. Just saw one alluding to Evangelical Republicans’ delight and joy at the pain they’ve managed to cause for women, for the environment, for the security of same-sex marriage, for the warp and woof of U.S. daily life. Looked at the article behind the headline and its tone was one of crowing success, disdain for human emotions and conditions, and overflowing with we-won-you-lost glee. The fact that it makes conservatives so happy when we’re sad tells me it would be a long trek back to actual relationship, and maybe that’s how they prefer it… throwing it all in our face and walking away.

Words are so freaking cheap, made that way by improper and dishonest usage. It’s a trip of the tongue to say you love someone, a trick of the brain to vote for people who will hurt them. I see younger people saying again that both parties are the same, the mindsets are identical, nobody’s to blame for anything, everybody’s to blame for everything, none of it means squat. They’re mostly young enough not to have memories of what fascism did to Germany, was allowed to do, was invited in to perpetrate, so I don’t take their declarations very seriously. There are two mindsets at work in the nation, and they have little in common. One has heart behind it, the other fear and control. One leads to life, the other death. It’s distressing to watch people cling to lies and desperation… on the other hand, I cannot help them without removing their freedoms as ours are being dismantled. One thing conservatives aren’t taking into account in their celebrations is that the Supremes’ decision to sacrifice the environment in favor of money will affect each of them in equal fashion with the liberals they want to end. Unless we have a few kabillion extra bucks lying around, we’re all eventually going to die the same suffocating death, so maybe don’t laugh too hard or too soon.

It’s always about the meanness, the cruelty, about how much butt-hurt people can cause to fellow citizens who are just trying to get through life. Where does that come from? What shapes one party of people into a given mindset, world view, automatic response? What has molded conservatives in such a way that the first thought is to PUNISH? To make people PAY for their supposed wrong-thinking. To line all the ducks up with a laser and forbid them to move. Where did they get the idea that they need to tell every individual what to do and how to live? And that by not following their edicts, we’re sinning. Clarence Thomas, having scuttled women’s right to full personhood… the right of married couples to use the birth control method of their choice… and the right-to-life of humans who need to breathe Earth’s air going forward by quashing climate change response… now wants to take another look at the case which decided same-sex marriage. He of course hasn’t mentioned Loving v Virginia, which makes his own mixed-race marriage to Ginni possible. After Clarence leaves, they’ll dump that one too, if not before. If Ginni ends up being indicted for the 1/6 insurrection, all bets are off.

In these years, with every part of life in turmoil and all of it changing, I’m okay with the fact that we’re two nations. We always have been, so we might as well accept it, deal with it, and try to live through it since our basic differences haven’t always kept us literally at war with each other. Until the major issues can be resolved, the two-nation thing keeps us from grabbing each other’s throats in any organized way, so it’s a necessary buffer, which is no doubt why we’ve built it, all of us, working together. Imagine that…

***

And now we are here.

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The widening gulf…

***

What’s left to say… after days spent digesting the Supremes’ breathtaking display of misogyny, gun mania, white supremacy, and transparent fascist yearnings, the anger only grows, deepens, and takes on a life of its own, all of which is patently unhealthy. It isn’t that we didn’t know… we’ve been well aware on some level since we realized we were the opposite sex that we’re also, by default, the inferior sex. Oh, but never mind… ask any incel, sex is sex, and women are what’s here for the taking. We’ve been shown once again that as females in our society we have no standing or input regarding our own selves, and especially as regards reproduction… you know, like livestock. Our thoughts, wants, needs, health, or well-being have no meaning to the males in charge – we exist simply as seed-bearers, the bringers of continued life on the planet, with our own humanity disregarded. Nor do they actually give a rat’s ass about the fetuses involved.

***

In two months I’ll be 75 years old, so clearly the discussion doesn’t concern me. Except that it does because it’s a moral issue of the highest order. We’re not allowed to so much as harvest organs after someone dies unless they personally signed off on it pre-exit, so women officially have less control over our body parts than a corpse. Both my mom and g’ma would be dismayed to see this day… pretty sure they thought the struggle for equal humanity would have been resolved by now. We’re a family of optimists.

***

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***

I get angry… injustice is my lifelong nemesis. I vent on social media, posting a flurry of righteously indignant comments and memes until the poison starts to leach out of my system. And then I go to ground again, much to the relief of my long-suffering friends and contacts. Meanwhile, nothing has changed except that the atmosphere has grown a little more toxic everywhere.

***

I wish I were less helpless to kindle positive change. I’ve felt pretty comfortable in this country for most of my life, which in itself is a clear acknowledgement of privilege, but the U.S. isn’t everything we were taught to believe it was as school children… sad but no longer shocking. We’re not all that… some days we’re not any of it. Are we even still TRYING to get it right? Honest answers only.

***

***

A message for the power-driven …

***

Reality being what it is, certain attitude adjustments are required from time to time, so I’m making a big note of this today and getting on with it.

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The trick is to keep moving…

*

This morning it struck me that ten years after following John’s suggestion to start a blog, I’m still here. You know the old question, “Where do you see yourself in five years… ten years?” If anyone has ever gotten that one totally right, I’d love to meet them. The past ten years have been packed with events, milestones, eruptions, and weirdness… who among us could have predicted COVID and its ongoing effects? And now someone I love is miserably ill with it for a second time, despite two shots, two boosters, and vigilance, so it’s never going away. We’re stuck in the circumstances of our own ignorance and inflexibility… twin curses of being human.

Speaking of which… the effects of ignorant inflexible human behavior are on display every few days now in the 1/6 hearings, showing us how deeply entrenched kakistocracy has become. Just as during Watergate, it’s demoralizing to hear and read the things said and done by people who were elected to work for the good of all. The money they’ve made off with. The laws they’ve broken. The lives they’ve destroyed. Apparently it’s necessary, every fifty years or so, to hold up a mirror so Miss American Pie can see if she’s done yet. The assessment from here is that she’s on life support, hemorrhaging, her coffers raided, and she’s being stripped for parts by the worst of the worst. It’s an uphill climb for people of goodwill who want her healthy and happy. More of an Everest, really.

Where we find ourselves…

Truth can shock us upon first hearing.

I have yet to meet the elephant I won’t discuss. As Kim likes to say, “I ain’t skeered,” and there’s very little that has the power to back me off of issues I care about. In this third trimester of living, it feels like there’s less to lose by simply being me. If what I say here or outside my door drives you crazy, makes you want to hurt me, beat me, make me write bad checks… that’s a you problem. For me, a diary with accountability has been just the ticket for getting through the past ten years of intense stress and change, and I owe a deep debt of gratitude to John for his discernment and wise advice. Also apologies for embarrassing him on the regular, but he did ask for it, when you think it out…

This is all coming from an old girl who cares far less about far more things than she used to… and far more about the things that actually matter.

Is that too much to ask?

Meanwhile, it’s hot. Damn hot.

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The arc… bends…

We’ve made it to HumpDay of yet another engaging week in the life of the USA and smaller environs, including my hideout. After just short of a year’s fast from televised news, I’ve been compelled to tune in to the 1/6 hearings because although history does repeat itself, it happens only once in the flesh. Before I tuned out of news-watching, I was an MSNBC girl, mostly by process of elimination, the same process that took place Monday morning before the start of the second hearing. I was early by fifteen minutes, so I clicked the remote, looking for a spot to land. Tried C-SPAN first, three ancient talking heads droning on as to what the imminent proceedings might portend. Looked at CNN, chose not to stick with the panel in place. Stopped by the networks, ABC, NBC, CBS, moved on. They were all still ensconced in the bubble and squeak of their Hello-America-How-Are-You morning fare, instantly reminding me that there’s a too-casual way of addressing world news. So I settled in with my old friends at MSNBC, remarking to Kim, now home from PickleBall, on the changes since we’d last seen the gang. Nearly everyone looked younger, shinier, more rested, which speaks to the reduced political angst they’re tasked with tracking every day, and it’s clear that things are changing for the better, even when we can’t see it happening. So that’s encouraging, as is the fact that no one can stop the truth. It comes out.

A footnote from the first morning’s hearing…

I watched most of the Watergate hearings in 1973 on a little black & white TV while my 3-year-old played and napped, and the names and shenanigans are still vivid. Shenanigans is precisely what they were, as opposed to the sedition that was being fomented by the Trump administration. In fact, by comparison there is no comparison. The recent series “Gaslit” provided a good look back at the quaint and silly misdeeds of the Nixon administration, and a timely contrast with the treasonous crimes of Trump’s. I can’t wait for the remainder of the current hearings. I assume they’re mostly preaching to the choir, but even the choir likes a good schematic.

Onion Choir agrees

***

So yeah, if you’re goin’ back in, might as well dive deep.

All things considered… Russia’s war against Ukraine, racial and political unrest in the US, gun violence off the charts, economic uncertainty [I could do this all day]… our inability to accept each other will end us more efficiently than any of the above. I wish we could get it together, but with age comes realism. I get along with Kim as seamlessly as any experience of my lifetime, but words are as tricky for us as for all other humans and we can mistake each other’s meaning in a heartbeat. In light of that reality, why do we harbor the fiction that the world can learn to get along? It’s an impossible assignment… and yet, what else is even worth fighting for?

The week is not over. Finish strong.

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Are we there yet?

How’s the whole space-time continuum thing working for ya’ lately? Feeling a little stretched? Compressed maybe? Are we any closer to understanding the warp and weft of the fabric of our existence? Are we tuned in or out? “Einstein concluded that space and time, rather than separate and unrelated phenomena, are actually interwoven into a single continuum (called space-time) that spans multiple dimensions. So how many dimensions are there in the space-time continuum?”

https://www.wonderopolis.org/wonder/what-is-the-space-time-continuum

This, boys and girls, is what happens when rain and gray skies become the order of the day for days on end… the coping mechanisms run right off the charts into unexplored territory, including black holes.

My brain has run amuck, so in lieu of actual wisdom this morning I offer you memes, glorious memes, which die an ignominious death if not shared forever.

From the current news cycle:

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Breakthrough?

It’s been raining for days. It’s raining when we go to bed, still coming down when we get up. It’s wet, gray, fairly relentless, and requires a certain mindset, which is under construction as we speak, entailing reminders of green forest and spring flowers, justifying everything. And hark, what do I see in yon sky? Wonder of wonders, it be the SUN! Lo, life continues, boys and girls, despite every indication to the contrary. Not for all… but for us, the “lucky” survivors.

Even with sunlight now pouring through my windows, it’s hard to settle into thoughts of daily life as it used to be. The brokenness of our society is increasingly hard to ignore, to look away from, to deny, even more so this week with the slaughter of 19 children and two teachers. How do we deal with the heartache, knowing we can’t fix it but can only live in its midst and try not to turn into one of the bad guys? We don’t know, we’ve never been here before, and even my grandparents’ stories of the Civil War are not that instructive in these circumstances, although we are indeed engaged in a great barely-civil war of the spirit with our brothers and sisters.

Maybe our culture of “say the nice thing, do the nice thing” has rendered us incapable of truth in our relationships, even the closest. Does our desire to please, to be uber-accepted, keep us in circular mode… never quite getting it right but never giving up the effort? When do we hop off the Official Good Person treadmill and do a status check on who we are? You know, now, today, after everything that’s happened. I guess some of us stop treading when the world shuts down for a pandemic and we can suddenly hear ourselves think. We start slow-walking it when a million Americans die from the still-ongoing pandemic. We careen off the track when our babies are relentlessly slaughtered in their classrooms. We go into neutral when the whole world seems to be at war and rushing headlong into some kind of dystopia. And then the thoughts get really loud. Bossy and dictatorial. Words like “Stay awake!” figure bigly in the inner conversation. Simultaneously, it’s easier now to remember that I’m simply a creature on the planet, trying to survive without harming anyone else, doing my Girl Scout best, pretty much end of story. At this point, what seems doable to me as a human animal is very basic:

  • Want the good stuff for yourself and the world
  • Work toward conditions in which the good stuff will thrive
  • Don’t hoard any of it

Every human.

There’s no way to stop the decay without removing the two-headed monster of money and control. The monster has been alive and expanding since the first white man set foot on the soil of this continent, so it’s like… a big problem. Who’s gonna slay the dragon? Who ya’ gonna call? On the other hand, where ya’ gonna run? I’ll keep fighting with the only weapon I own, my words, in case they might have some effect somewhere that I’ll never know about. Since I always read what I write, the words are mainly for me… to keep me honest, to maintain sanity, to sort the world into digestible chunks, to keep the fulcrum balanced under the humor/angst see-saw.

Right now, with the sun lighting up the trees, I’m giving it all over to a strange sense of joy, inexplicable but undeniable. The feeling is completely welcome here, especially since it’s the foundation for all other emotions.

******

******

Kim just got home from PickleBall and said there’s a wall of black in the western sky, headed directly for us. That’s okay, can’t rain on my parade, I’ve already talked myself through it. You make it an excellent day, please, and if anything I say resonates with you, ever, come talk to me in comments. I know you’re out there. 💙

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Moving right along…

Strange weather day… foggy and currently in the 50s, with a chance of severe storms after 10am. It’s very still outside, and except for the occasional car passing below my windows I might as well be the only human awake. I like that in a morning.

Lawrence has had her blowout celebrations for the Jayhawks, wrapping up with Sunday’s parade down Mass Street and up Mt. Oread to Allen Fieldhouse, and now the team, coaches, and support personnel are on a quick tour of the state. After KU won the championship in 2008, that year stands as the school’s highest enrollment mark. Stay tuned, we could see a marked increase again this fall. It’s a good place to be.

Can’t find crowd estimates for the parade yet, but the night we won the championship there were approximately 70,000 people downtown, so we can use our imaginations. And there were only three (3) arrests made that night, mostly minor infractions. This really is a good place to be.

So now we move on… to summer and all the outdoor living we can stand. To walking our buns off. To life here in Free State Kansas… it’s all good.

This thought woke me up today…

Therefore…

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THEY DID IT!!!

Our beloved boys of fallwinterspring grabbed the brass ring and brought it home!! The joy, exuberant spirit, and sheer relief are palpable through the walls and it’s healing to wallow in all of it while it lasts.

Kim and I walked Mass Street around 4pm yesterday and with traffic blocked it was all people, all the time, with hours left until tip-off. The air was full of happy anticipation, with long lines outside venues offering watch parties. We came home, made pizza, as one does in these situations, and watched the game in the relative quiet of our own place, hearts in our throats ’til the final seconds. Simultaneous with the closing buzzer a roar went up from the streets, we tied our tennies on our feet, grabbed sweatshirts, and romped one block west to see it all for ourselves. I’d hedged about doing that since I’m just 3mo post-op after my back surgery, but when it might well be a once-in-a-lifetime thing… no regrets. I took a hiking pole, hung onto Kim, and celebrated. Put my spine in the shelter of a parking meter, held on, and watched the sea of happy humanity parade south, likely only to snake its way back north at some point. It was an exquisite sight.

It was stunning to see how quickly Lawrence converged on downtown, with thousands of students streaming down from The Hill after watching the game in Allen Fieldhouse, and other people hoofing it in from all directions. I sensed no bent toward celebratory destruction, just a happy, thankful, somewhat inebriated vibe. There was a low-key, benevolent police presence, with extra personnel brought in from the KC area for the party, and they seemed part and parcel of the night. They were appropriately industrial-size and sober-faced but friendly and helpful, and registered no concern over the myriad open containers passing under their noses, nor the sweet scent of weed permeating the atmosphere. A very mellow kind of noisy happiness was going on and I’m so glad we didn’t miss it. Neither of us thought to take a selfie to prove we were there… but neither will we ever forget it.

Eighth Street was a party all day, from early to late, and when we walked back home it looked like a brewery had exploded, but I’d put money on the street having been swept and scrubbed before the sun came up this morning, along with Mass and all its tributaries. Lawrence loves to party and knows how, so we get to keep doing it.

The scene on our corner, with our building in the background, while the outcome of the game was still in question…

In the nine years since we moved here, the Royals have won the World Series, the Chiefs the Super Bowl, and now the Jayhawks the National Championship… such a richness of human spirit in a world that could use a bigger share of the wealth. In hard times that won’t quit, there’s something about a group of individuals melding themselves into a team and winning the big prize that takes us out of ourselves. And we love them for it… with their gifts and talents and achingly-perfect forms, they’ve briefly rescued us from the pall of failure, death, weakness, and discouragement. We desperately need our heroes… kudos to the parents who bear and raise them, these beautiful young men and women who are our future.

ROCK CHALK!!

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… and one to go!

There is joy in Mudville this morning, and we’re collectively gearing up for the final round, happening tomorrow night. The bluest of the blue-bloods are duking it out, you see what I did there, and the excitement only builds.

Massachusetts Street yesterday immediately after the game ended… all photos courtesy of the Lawrence Journal World.

******

Party tomorrow night starts at 8:30, win, lose, or draw! Be there!!

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