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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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.

***

***

***

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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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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Add patience and wait…

Hi, just me over here waiting impatiently for spring to find a toehold. Our weather from day to day is schizophrenic, to say the least… warm, cold, rain, snow, wind, sun, low temps, mild temps.

Forecast for the week ahead:

My mission is to stop being a fair-weather walker and just GET OUT THERE. Stay tuned…

******

While I wrestle with my conscience and matters of health, I’m entirely awake to the unspeakable realities happening to fellow humans around the world, and to their lack of choice as to their living… or dying… conditions. My silent tribute to the proud and utterly courageous people of Ukraine, on a beautiful Saturday, in an alternate world…

******

“How wonderful to be alive. I am sorry for forgetting.”

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An almost-spring weekend…

Good morning on an absolutely gorgeous Saturday. It’s still cool out, but temps are heading for the mid-60s by afternoon, the sun’s shining, and something that feels suspiciously akin to joy is rattling around in my heart. Kim made The Breakfast, of course, and it was perfect… of course. He’s been making life as smooth as possible for the past 18 years… and now I can’t possibly thank him enough for never giving up on a fix for the spinal pain… it’s changed everything and given me my life back. There aren’t really words for that.

THIS GUY

I have the world’s best men in my life, and on this day 52 years ago, I gave birth to the absolute best human I know, who affirms along with Kim that I have reason to have existed. Happy Birthday, John Latta. Celebrate everywhere life takes you in the coming year.

Birthday guy at Hot Betty’s for breakfast this morning…

John with hospital co-workers and good friend Lanette, on his right.
Less outnumbered… by one, thx to Mike.
Lisa and her homemade banana pudding cake. That’s a stellar start to a birthday.

Good story to go with the photo above. John says, “There was a group of ladies celebrating a birthday next to us (I thought the birthday girl was in her 20’s, but she’s 46 today!), and I offered her a piece of the cake. Their table went crazy for it, so we had enough left over that they could share in the birthday love.”

******

With a one-sided terroristic war underway, and a psychopath killing as many children as his troops can find, for the sake of shock value, it’s hard sometimes to relax into what’s at hand… the life we’re privileged to live here, at least for now… hard to take joy in the smaller things without being guilt-ridden over it. But the chaos is there and we’re here, and a sanity-based approach to life tells us we can be of no assistance there and very little here. So what’s on tap for today is…

NCAA Basketball Tournament play, starting at 11am with Baylor and UNC, which leaves just enough time for a nice spa soak first. The KU Jayhawks play Creighton at 1:40, our fan-focus of the day, and then it’s endless roundball ’til the sun rises tomorrow, as far as anyone knows. You pick your escapist poison, we’re settled on ours. Which brings up a thought…

Don’t be like Pluto.

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It’s Monday, but it’ll be okay…

We have sunshine this morning, and promises of 60s and 70s coming up this week. Spring loves to tease, and we always forgive her because she’s pretty and she smells good.

Quick bit o’ bi’ness… a reminder that tomorrow my peripheral Facebook page, which theoretically hosts this blog, is going away because it’s outlived its usefulness in the current scheme of things – neither the blog nor I seem to have achieved Meta status, so… anyway, if you haven’t already, click the Follow button on the right and insure that I’ll be able to annoy you to infinity and BEYONNND. Thx.

Every morning I read the news… the headlines… the bylines. I look at the stills, taken at great personal risk by global photographers, one of whom we lost just the other day, an American this time. A tiny angry tyrant is stomping on all the sand castles and making a slaughterhouse of Ukraine, trying to erase the population of a sovereign nation. Much of the world seems to be standing back, out of the fray, hoping the unleashed psycho behind the curtain soon runs out of steam. Meanwhile, pregnant women and their unborn babies are fair game for him.

Hard to witness, harder to be there. Mother and baby both died.

It hurts to watch it all, without the power to change the course of history. We long to fix it but can’t… so it always comes back to kindness, caring, and love. Let your heart keep on loving.

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Time marches on…

(Didn’t get posted yesterday… )

According to the leaf shape, these are daffodils, but they could be jonquils with no argument from me. I like them because they remind me of growing up on the farm. The fence boards are too even and perfect, and my guess is pressure-treated… we were far better-acquainted with hedge posts and barbed wire… but the flowers say spring and my heart says yes. “Hello, March” indeed. You’re welcome here… please be nice.

This week will be tantalizing before temps drop back into the 40s and under:

In my desire to be outside walking every day, I’m done with winter for this go-round… but I’m pretty sure it isn’t done with us. Kansas winters are sneaky, so never turn your back on one. For a handful of days though, we’ll enjoy the heck out of the balcony and what’s out there on the streets, and be fully prepared for spring when it settles.

I can’t remember the farm without thinking about my little brother, who was a Leap Year baby and not happy about it. Three older sisters teasing him about only having a birthday every four years was an annoyance he didn’t need, among many others. He would have been 66 this Leap Year, which is hard to envision as he left us at 29… and it will never not hurt…

******

… and yet spring comes every year.

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Courage, like love, needs hope as its daily bread…

My sabbatical from televised news has worked out so well I’ve extended it indefinitely, but the events of the day remain on my radar via the written word, with what’s happening in Ukraine uppermost. This morning, after posting several things on Facebook regarding the attack by Putin, it occurred to me to wonder why I’ve been so drawn in by this conflict, and I immediately realized that it’s because we so narrowly escaped our own date with a dictator, who’s still hovering over history. With America so divided, the fate of democracy still hangs in the balance, no easy breathing room yet. The Former Guy was very much a part of the lead-up to this war, supporting the little KGB ferret in his grandiose plans for the planet, and both of them need to be absent from the world stage for the good of all. President Zelensky was the victim of TFG’s arm-twisting over Joe Biden’s candidacy, so it’s a neat little package brought ’round full circle, and the machinations need to end now. President Zelensky has my highest respect as he fights for and with his people.

“We’ve already suffered so much. We’ve lost so many people to war, and famine, and historical events. Almost seven million Ukrainians were killed in World War II, more than any other country. We don’t need much. We’re not an imperialistic people. We aren’t very warlike. Our land is covered with black soil, so we can grow everything we need. We just need peace.”

(Baryshivka, Ukraine: HONY Archives 2014)

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A simple little story…

art: Autumn Skye Morrison

Sunny but cold. Today feels like one long tunnel. I tried all morning to write a letter, but it isn’t coming out right, so either it isn’t meant to be written, or I haven’t cracked the code of truth yet. For now, this is a better story that somehow speaks to what I was trying to write…

My dad has bees. Today I went to his house and he showed me all of the honey he had gotten from the hives. He took the lid off of a 5-gallon bucket full of honey and on top of the honey there were 3 little bees, struggling. They were covered in sticky honey and drowning. I asked him if we could help them and he said he was sure they wouldn’t survive. Casualties of honey collection I suppose.

I asked him again if we could at least get them out and kill them quickly; after all, he was the one who taught me to put a suffering animal (or bug) out of its misery. He finally conceded and scooped the bees out of the bucket. He put them in an empty Chobani yogurt container and put the plastic container outside.

Because he had disrupted the hive with the earlier honey collection, there were bees flying all over outside.

We put the 3 little bees in the container on a bench and left them to their fate. My dad called me out a little while later to show me what was happening. These three little bees were surrounded by all of their sisters (all of the bees are females) and they were cleaning the sticky nearly-dead bees, helping them to get all of the honey off of their bodies. We came back a short time later and there was only one little bee left in the container. She was still being tended to by her sisters.

When it was time for me to leave we checked one last time and all three of the bees had been cleaned off enough to fly away and the container was empty.

Those three little bees lived because they were surrounded by family and friends who would not give up on them, family and friends who refused to let them drown in their own stickiness and resolved to help until the last little bee could be set free.

Bee Sisters. Bee Peers. Bee Teammates.

We could all learn a thing or two from these bees.

Bee kind always.

~~author unknown

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Confronting reality on a weekend…

It’s a sunny Saturday morning, 27º and headed for the 40s this afternoon. Monday’s forecast high of 55º will be a bit of a heat wave, and if the wind stays down and the sun stays out, imma plan a river walk, brief though it might be. Meanwhile, I’m quickly forming an attachment to the treadmill upstairs and we put in a solid fifteen minutes together yesterday. Gonna go say hey again before KU-KState b-ball this afternoon since the game will have me glued to my chair for the duration.

Lately I’ve been taking weekends off and deliberately emptying my head of thoughts that clamor for expression… but there are fellow humans in every area of life who don’t have that option and might never at any point. Not to play favorites, but if nobody was working at the hospital, for instance, when our weekend emergencies happened, we’d know we were in a world of hurt. The hard truth is, we’re IN that world now, we just don’t have the knowing yet.

We’re in year three of a pandemic that didn’t have to be like this… a disaster that could have been stopped in its tracks in the same way ebola, smallpox, rabies, polio, and the flu were dealt with… and if our early-detection systems around the world hadn’t been dismantled by TFG… or if any real measures whatsoever had been undertaken after we knew what it was… we’d be in a far different place this morning. But since none of that happened, a world more soberingly real than anything we may have imagined is right on our doorstep.

The brave new world that’s headed our way will register on people’s consciousness dead last here in the heartland, but it’s already being felt in the cities. I know someone who at one point was managing three hospital units including her own, and helping another manager with three or four additional units. Another nurse spent some time in a small African country where people in the hospital were lying on the floor, some of them seizing, with people simply walking over them. She knows it’s only a matter of time until the U.S. looks that same way because, to quote yet another RN, “At some point all of these customer service surveys and trying to turn the healthcare experience into a five-star hotel or resort stay will be shown up for the farce that it actually is. You either are dying and get the emergent care that you need and somehow find a way to pay for it, or you die. No more of this ‘my food wasn’t tasty enough, my room wasn’t clean enough, my sheets weren’t soft enough, the nurse wasn’t pretty enough, the nurse didn’t speak to me subserviently enough… ‘”

There’s a level of incivility toward medical personnel from patients and family members that inevitably bleeds over into interactions among staff and departments to the point that structure disintegrates… chaos eventually reigns… and Americans, of all people, sooner rather than later, walk into New York-Presbyterian Hospital to find fellow humans writhing on the floor for lack of beds and/or personnel. It sounds like a made-for-TV movie, but if you’re connected to the healthcare world at all, you know this country is right on the edge.

COVID and its children have only multiplied and strengthened, regardless what anyone wants to believe. It isn’t slowing down, it isn’t confining itself to the old and infirm, its voracious appetite for living its best life has not diminished. The world’s efforts to be stupidly valiant in its presence are laughable and thoroughly tragic. In my own formative years, we stared polio down and turned it into history, but 65 years later Americans seem to be devolving, most definitely to our own detriment. The vaccine technology that once saved us has become our enemy and I wish I didn’t know that about my fellow man. We are, of all species, most to be pitied, for we so richly deserve our fate. Sometimes you get what you ask for. Probably one of Murphy’s laws…

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What they wanted…

Artist Credit: Bozorgmehr Hosseinpour
"We wanted to help people
We were smart and driven
We loved science and physiology, humans and disease
So we made a commitment
We signed up
It was an honor

We read thousands of pages
Attended hundreds of lectures
Pulled all-nighters
Took more exams than we thought possible
Finals week felt insurmountable
But it didn’t break us
It made us stronger

We learned statistics and biochemistry
Immunology and pathophysiology
We mastered genetics, virology and pharmacology
We read scientific papers and learned how to dissect them
Papers, not videos
It was an honor

We came running when you needed us
Literally, running down the hallway
To the ICU, the trauma bay, labor and delivery
I need help, you said
We can help, we said
It was an honor

There were moments that we thought would break us
Moments that drove us to journaling, to therapy, to nightmares
Broken babies.
Paralyzed children.
Dead pregnant mothers with three kids at home.
The wail of a mother whose son just died.
We bent but we did not break
We returned because you needed us
And we could help
It was an honor

Then there was fear
Fear of walking into our place of work
Fear that we’d be killed by going to work
Fear that we’d kill a loved one because of our work
There were tears and sleepless nights and anti-anxiety medications
But you banged your pots and pans
You sent us pizzas and called us heroes
You needed us
We could help
So we wore our masks, and our gowns, and our gloves, and our goggles
We decontaminated ourselves before going home and isolated ourselves from our families
We almost broke
It was an honor

How quickly the joy turned to defeat
Elation to rage
You’ve learned to do your own research now
You know better than we do
Gaslighting is your language
Your selfishness is astounding
You don’t want our help when we ask you to stay healthy
Yet you arrive at our doors begging for help at the end

You stole our resources
You hobbled our ability to help those who did what they were supposed to do
You killed our patients by filling our beds and using up our ventilators
We can’t help any more
You broke us
There is no more honor”

- Anonymous

A poem written by a physician after reflecting on the veteran who died in Texas because of the ICU bed shortage. 
Artist credit:
Bozorgmehr Hosseinpour

*****NOT A DISCLAIMER: I read yesterday that people are simply done with COVID and all its iterations, finished, through, sick of hearing about it, and I know in my bones that's a fact. But it doesn't change the equal and opposite fact that COVID doesn't care, it just wants to eat, sleep, live, and reproduce, and will for as long as we allow it. Our refusal to deal with facts is bringing our amazing, incredible, unmatched, behemoth of a healthcare apparatus down on our heads and the implosion will be... simply beyond. We've been warned... and warned... and warned... and we do not care. Sars-cov-2 is now part of the warp and woof of human existence, and the cost will be incalculable. "The fall thereof was great... "

There's nothing you nor I can do about any of it now, unless you're unvaccinated. You have the power to do that much and it isn't too late yet. The variants are becoming increasingly uglier, but the vaccinated are staying out of hospitals when they do fall ill. However tired you are of knowing about it, the death toll goes on relentlessly. And the people who once had the tools, energy, and incentive to help are finding other ways to stay alive. May whatsoever gods there be have mercy on us.

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A gift…

From my heart to yours this weekend… for all who read my “working through anger” post yesterday, and all who need the sweetness this morning.

John sent this, saying it makes him think of Kimmers and me, which puts me on the edge of tears before the music starts. Finneas, beautiful soul, is a brother to Billie Eilish and has worked with her from the start of her career. At the end of the video, their family silently gathers together…

How do you know
If you’ve done everything right?
Is it the love you have at hand
Or the cash you kiss at night?

How do you know
If it was worth it in the end?
Did every second really count
Or were there some you shouldn’t spend
On anything but anyone you love?
Was this the life that you were dreaming of?
A movie night, a yellow light
You’re slowing down and days are adding up

So don’t waste the time you have waiting for time to pass
It’s only a lifetime
That’s only a while
It’s not worth the anger you felt as a child
Don’t waste the time you have waiting for time to pass
It’s only a lifetime
That’s not long enough
You’re not gonna like it without any love
So don’t waste it

I’m unimpressed
By the people preaching pain
For the sake of some small gain
In the sake of someone’s name

I’m unprepared
For my loved ones to be gone
Call ’em far too often now
Worry way too much about mom

Don’t waste the time you have waiting for time to pass
It’s only a lifetime
That’s only a while
It’s not worth the anger you felt as a child
Don’t waste the time you have waiting for time to pass
It’s only a lifetime
That’s not long enough
You’re not gonna like it without any love
So don’t waste it

It’s family and friends, and that’s the truth
The fountain doesn’t give you back your youth
It’s staying up too late at night and laughing under kitchen lights
So hard you start to cry

Don’t waste the time you have waiting for time to pass
It’s only a lifetime
That’s not long enough
You’re not gonna like it without any love
So don’t waste it

–Finneas O’Connell

Find your joy this holiday season. Look for a handhold and hang on…

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Anger vs Gratitude…

Woke up yesterday morning processing anger, straight out of a dream… Kim said the growls and grumbling at 6am, which he first mistook for snoring, were truly impressive. I repeatedly ran everything through the wood chipper all day but the fury remains untamed as of wake-up time this morning.

Also, write this down: I DO NOT SNORE. However, my dreams are a wonder to behold for scope and realism. Yikes.

The catalyst for the renewed angst seems to have been a combo of things… fresh statistics illustrating our dismal outlook in the face of COVID and its progeny… the fact that we find ourselves in this position due to humans’ inability to care about other humans… and a heartbreaking article about the burden we’ve placed on the medical world and the toll that’s taking.

The pandemic is as much an industrial-strength shock to the medical community as to the rest of us out here who of course know it all. Those medical people spent long years full of sleepless nights on little food, learning how to save lives, maybe even yours or mine someday. That’s their drive, to make people better and thus the world a teensy bit softer for the landings. And they’re good at it, really good, and they know things, and have seen and done things which you and I do not want to know, see, or do… nor will we, because we don’t have what it takes.

Medical personnel do the jobs they’ve been trained and educated to do on an equal-opportunity basis… pigment, religion, politics, and rude combative patients notwithstanding, they do their jobs. And then one day a snazzy new virus knocks on the door like the skeavy Orkin termite, and the game changes overnight. The breakout quickly becomes the pandemic the world has now been living in for two years, with all medical personnel, equipment, and hospital units required for the flood of sick and dying. It’s no longer about “making things better,” there’s no time. You keep the patient on your right alive, if possible, while losing the one on your left. The hours blur while you pull double shifts on your feet, clothed in trash bags and week-old masks because the supply closets are bare, praying you don’t catch whatever this thing is and end up dropping in your tracks. And then you watch that very thing happen to a colleague… and then another. And in a heartbeat, working in the medical field has become more about death than life.

Months have passed, you’re still pulling all your shifts and more, and now the monster has a name… Coronavirus. Or COVID-19. Or just COVID. There are even approved vaccines available… but not for you… because medical people, some of the first and longest-exposed, are not at the top of anybody’s priority list, which should have been an early indicator of where it would all end up. We only hurt the ones we love… or need like air and water.

Now you’re lonnnng months into the process, which feels less like a battle and more like an endurance race. You’ve gone from hero… “Doctor, please, help me!” “Nurse, I need you, please!” … to zero. “No, I DO NOT HAVE COVID, YOU’RE LYING!!” “It’s a HOAX! I can’t die!!” Nurses and doctors have been assaulted, insulted, spit on, screamed at, and blamed for letting people die of a scary disease those same people refused to vaccinate for. In the hopeless melee, the lofty goal of making things better dies a quiet death, and people we desperately need for our own selfish purposes are simply not there anymore. Their own institutions, in many cases, haven’t backed them up, haven’t provided the safety measures needed, haven’t compensated them for their heroic over & above sacrifices. The public, in too many places, has turned on them in ways we could never have imagined. These nurses and doctors see their lives trickling out, day by day, for a goal that no longer feels reachable… and for a populace that wouldn’t know the difference if the landings were made softer… and they’re finding other, less soul-killing things to do.

In parts of our nation where COVID and its variants are rampant, the bright shiny people who wanted to make a difference are walking away. Why risk death for people who don’t in the least mind if you drop in your tracks because they refused the antidote? Or because your employer doesn’t want to pay extra staff. Or “extra staff” is now a figment of the imagination. We won’t comprehend what we’ve lost until they’ve all taken their gifts elsewhere.

The pandemic is nowhere close to being over. Two thousand people a day are still dying in the “greatest nation on earth.” It hasn’t magically disappeared, it hasn’t been prayed away, it’s with us for the duration, however long Mother Earth lets us stay in the nest. As so often happens now, the minority chose for all of us, and life here will never be the same. I’m exorcising my rage today by paying homage to every person in the medical community who has tried, against insurmountable odds, to change the outcome, to save all lives possible, to make a difference. Thank you for BEING THERE and for using who you are to slow our slide to hell. Really, truly… thank you forever.

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Deep thoughts…

Fall… holiday season… perpetual change… bring on the nostalgia. Happens every year, we survive it or don’t and then we put it back in the closet ’til next time. Just for the sake of novelty, I’ve been trying to do the opposite … take it all out of the closet, evaluate each component on its merits and keep or not, according to my conscience and Marie Kondo.

Over the past hour I’ve jettisoned almost fifty draft posts that are no longer at risk of ever seeing the light of day, thank the universe. Hoooo, babies, what I’ve spared you from over the years by not publishing everything I write! That draft folder was a dank place steeped in anxiety going back to 2015, a litany of woes, a broad sampling of idiocy, none of it well done. I have no idea where my head was with some of it… post-surgical opioids?? At any rate, the evidence no longer exists, nor is it a threat to anyone, and you can thank me at your convenience (I like chocolate chip cookies and Michelob).

Amongst the ruins there are treasures to be rescued, always excellent motivation for sorting and tossing…

*****

*****

*****

Men die wishing they could know for sure if they measured up.

Women die wishing they’d known how to own their lives from day one.

*****

There are people — the friends of your heart — who pick up on everything you don’t say — and they put it into a context that fits everything you know about them and everything they know about you. And that’s just real.

And then there are days when a memory shows up and brings Christmas with it… a card from 1955 when Kim was four years old and his sister Joy was five. 💙 Christmas happens in the heart, moment by moment, and I remember thinking last year that I never wanted to see another December like that one. It’s December 1st in the year 2021. The moments start now.

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Sea changes…

Whether we’re true believers, hangers-on, or equal-opportunity revelers, the holiday season from Thanksgiving to Easter exerts power over all of us. It’s hyper-represented, and thus misses the mark every year, by which I mean world peace is yet to be realized, and peace almost anywhere has become a myth.

For someone who likes to imagine herself a communicator, I’ve clearly done a piss-poor job of it over the past ten years or so. I’ve sat here at my computer, thoughts preoccupied with the immediate, and watched the world change, moment by moment, event by event… observed while the prevailing mood of the country rolled from benign tolerance to annoyance, to resentment, to violence… and I still have a hard time believing where we find ourselves at the end of 2021.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said “I don’t get it” in the past decade, I’d buy a lovely dinner for the first person who could map out a schematic of what’s happened, and why almost nobody wants to talk about it. I’ve had conversations with a few former stalwart conservatives whose thinking has morphed over the years, and without exception they’ve been happy to tell me what drove their change of heart… things like morals, ethics, concern for other humans, how people are treated around the world, money, greed, blurring of government and religion, crime at the top, and so on. On the other hand, no 2021 conservative I know has shown the slightest willingness to have an adult conversation with me about the world and their take on it. If I ask a question, I’m intrusive and threatening. If I answer one, I’m rude and aggressive.

“I don’t get it” is no doubt a huge tell in the age game, probably a thing boomers say. But I’m just being straight, I want to KNOW. I want to know why we ended up locked in this cage of solid lines, solid walls, a complete stonewall. Everything that happens in the world affects us from womb to tomb, and the past decade has been packed with trauma and upheaval, so why would we think life wouldn’t have changed us in the process as well? There are people I care about who are so transformed as to be unrecognizable, but I still care. If they’re close to me, or were before society started unravelling, I’ll ask them questions… because I want to know who they are NOW. It’s no secret that I’m not the same person I was twenty years ago – life happened and it set me off in all new directions, for which no apologies are owed. Okay… so I’m a different person, you’ve changed, talk to me about what took you down the road you’re on… human things, not statistics, not rants, not I’m-right-you’re-wrong… simply, here’s who I am now, and because I love you I’ll even tell you why.

Somebody a lot of people claim to worship said “You have not because you ask not.” I’ve asked to the point of being summarily kicked to the curb… or I simply know I’ve asked for the last time “Who are you at this age? Can’t we have a conversation?” and if I push the envelope one more time I’ll be locked out and blocked.

How then do we lower some of the walls, open some windows, figure out how to trust each other? I’m hanging out here in the wind, an open book, knowing my liberal friends and family have my back, and wishing those I love on the other side would be straight with me so our relationships aren’t permanently broken. How can a simple two-sided conversation be so threatening? After everything that’s happened, it seems disingenuous to pick up and go on as if nothing has been altered and pretend we still know each other.

Either I’ve asked the wrong questions the wrong way… the right questions the wrong way… or there was never going to be a right way to start with. Communication is by nature at least 2-sided, so I’ve obviously over-talked because what I’m hearing from the other side is crickets. People forget they unfriended me years ago for being liberal-minded, we make a chance connection, they send me a Facebook request, I say yes (oh, Pollyanna, girl… sigh), they see I haven’t altered my worldview since last time they disowned me, they confront me with what are later described as rhetorical musings (with question marks at the end), I answer (being an old bag with a heart o’gold), they take offense, and within three minutes I’m out on my ear again. Will I never learn? No, no I won’t. It’s just how I roll.

I make enemies because I care and I won’t shut up. I lose people from my life because I talk to almost everyone the same way… I say my truth and I don’t dilute it to a ridiculous degree to keep from offending. What I should have been saying to people I love is “Don’t talk to me about your politics or who’s done what and how much you hate it. Tell me what you care about, what keeps you getting up every day, what life means to you now… and talk to me like you want to be there. I’m not being confrontational, I just miss you.”

And then I remember that I’ve done it too… I’ve dropped people like they were hot after the second time they slammed me in front of the gods and babies on Facebook… and I doubt that felt right to them either. Doesn’t seem quite like comparing apples to apples, but I’ve been impatient and unkind plenty of times during this challenging era.

From birth we know who we feel safe with, who we want to be around, who our people are, where we find comfort and peace. We of course also know who we don’t trust, who makes us clam up and be an observer, whose views scare the daylights out of us, who makes us feel less-than… and ain’t nobody got time for that.

You wouldn’t think a person would forget a thing like this, but it slips my mind that there are fellow humans who genuinely dislike me, disavow me, and have no interest in hearing my name again in this lifetime. None of what I’ve said is about those people… they have personal freedom to stay off the path I’m on, and that’s how that works.

The world has shifted under our feet and relationships we once thought couldn’t be broken are in ashes. It feels necessary this morning to acknowledge that, accept it, and keep moving. I’m sorry for my part in the brokenness… but I don’t give up without a fight when something matters, so I’m sure I’ll continue to annoy and disgust people I don’t even know are looking.

For now… let’s think about holiday lights.

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