SQ Diary… page 18

Self-Quarantine Day 23 – 04/04/2020

Fourth weekend of sheltering in place – Kim’s been out for groceries, wearing nitrile gloves and now a mask, and for solitary walks and bike rides, but I haven’t been further than the balcony since we shut the door. It’s okay, staying in isn’t a problem.

Just really not all about humans right now. For instance, I’d rather not know that in today’s economy certain people are considered too costly to save. The coronavirus effort is eating into the 1%’s share of the pie, and the worker bees, who are strictly Not Our Kind, are wasting, by which we mean utilizing in the name of life and death, “our” supplies. The supplies paid for with worker bee tax dollars and stockpiled for the use of the elites, not the states, most especially not the blue ones. Somebody forgot to tell Jared and his father-in-law how this whole “united states” thing works.

I’m not mad, bro, just doing a little self-healing… trying to accept the facts. It’s no surprise that the lives of boomers and other slackers mean nothing to gazillionaires, I know that in my bones. And since the man who would be king is incapable of accepting blame for anything… anything… he’s landed on the medical community as a scapegoat for this virus he said wouldn’t be happening here. I guess he and his tribe will never have need of those heroes. But even that new strain of cruelty isn’t shocking – we’ve seen everything he’s done and said for the past twelve years and longer.

What I’m still sorting is that people I love – and thought were intelligent, caring, compassionate, empathetic people – supported him, voted for him, haven’t backed off their fealty in any measure, and will brook no criticism of him. There’s a word for it.

Also I snipped an inch off my hair… more or less… here and there… and it looks fab. I am killing at this stay-in-your-cave game.

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SQ Diary… page 16

Self-Quarantine Day 21 – 04/02/2020

Dear Diary,

Can you help me?

That’s okay, I just came to talk, you don’t have to do anything…

Sleep – never my best friend, always kind of a flirty elusive thing – is messing with me again. We became BFFs after I married Kim sixteen years ago, and I slept nine or ten hours a night like magic, plus an afternoon nap. My brain shut off when my eyes closed, no worries, and out I went. Not liking this new normal where I lie down and my brain and body fight me and each other for the next foreseeable hours. So yeah, just thought I’d get that off my list…

I keep expecting to wake up one of these mornings and find that my focus has come back, some oomph, a hint of drive, but the opposite is happening… my give-a-shit is experiencing technical difficulties. Write a few words, read a page or two in a book, play Words with Friends, again, some more, work a jigsaw puzzle, stare out the windows. Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure there are a couple of bills buried on my desk, or on the dresser whose load never lightens while the little stacks become bigger stacks and get overly friendly with each other until nobody knows what’s what anymore. It was still looking slightly purposeful before all this hit, so I could pretend not to see it, but it’s time to sort it out…

Starting to sort the metaphysical aspect. It is what it is. It will be what it will be. People have made their choices, from the top down, and the wheels are in motion. No amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth will slow its roll. A Mariana Trench full of human tears won’t alter its course. The only unknown is how bad. Saw this morning that the Pentagon has ordered another 100,000 body bags.

Beyond a couple of trusted news people, the only voices I care to listen to are Andrew Cuomo and Dr. Fauci. Governor Cuomo’s calm measured tones, telling us the truth morning after morning with no varnish on it, are like a security blanket. He makes me cry every day because he’s a real human, taking responsibility, trying to protect his people, speaking TRUTH. I can handle just about anything if you give me the facts and get out of the way. Once you lie to me or show me you’re all about the cya, I’m done. The governor is respecting his fellow humans by giving it to us straight in a low-key way, and he’s a life preserver.

Thanks for listening… it helps.

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SQ Diary… page 15

Self-Quarantine Day 20 – 04/01/2020

Slept more hours than not last night, so there’s that. I’ve awakened my Sleeping Sciatic by spending most of my time at my computer, because sure, why not, so it has a say in everything right now including in the middle of the night. Would it kill me to at least FEEL good?

Haven’t yet worked my way past the basic divide in the pandemic issue… one side says it’s about people, the other says it’s about money. What’s being done to our medical community here in the U.S. is heartbreaking, infuriating, crazy-making. All I can do for now is try not to inflict myself unnecessarily upon the world until I can swallow the deeply-entrenched cruelty that’s been awakened in our society – lots of awakenings this morning, huh…

Maybe I just need to cut ’em slack? This from my friend Mylène AF in Quebec:

“Reading some people’s posts, I realize how many have not grasped the severity of this situation. The fact that we are in a time of exceptional circumstances where NONE of the old rules apply and only exceptional measures will do. Everything has changed forever. The world we knew before is gone. Let it go. Those rules don’t apply anymore. Move through the stages of grief if you must. There is a definitive before and after line here.”

**********************************

Jeff Bezos isn’t intellectually challenged, though, so this makes no sense. It strikes this farm girl as a no-brainer… If almost 9 million dollars per hour rolling onto your side of the ledger isn’t enough to take care of the people who make that money for you, there will never be enough. It will never happen. The poor(er) among us will never be cared for, ever. Today there is no one poorer among us than Jeff Bezos – I wonder if he’s even slightly embarrassed about telling us that.

But perspective helps. Kim’s been sending lush guitar notes through the house for the past hour and now he’s making the Saturday breakfast on Wednesday – he knows how to get me to make actual food part of my day, and the flavors are a mood-lifter – sloooow food, with the love cooked in, as my sweet cousin Lonnie Joe always said. Feeling better already.

So yeah, some food, more coffee, sunshine, birds, balcony, Kimmers is going for a walk after breakfast… I’ll accomplish one thing I can point to as participation in living… and we’ll find ourselves at the end of another day. We have only so many chances to get this right, by which I mean everything. We’ll either figure out how to help each other and survive as a species or we won’t, end of story.

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SQ Diary… page 14

Self-Quarantine Day 19 – 03/31/2020

Yesterday was Crash & Burn day. Encountered asshole-ishness all over social media nonstop, and by bedtime I gave in to the bruises and cried myself to sleep for the first time in about seventeen years.

My Pollyanna heart can never retain the fact that at least a third of my fellow citizens don’t want what I want. They prove in a crunch that what they want is chaos and license, and they’re making it harder for the rest of us to survive. And while we do what we can to protect ourselves and the people we love most, other Americans are calling us liars and accusing us of ganging up on their president.

Things like this don’t happen here, dammit, this is America. So somebody must be hoaxin’ us, right? Can’t be real.

SOMEthing real is happening. Medical personnel are dropping like flies – at least 51 doctors in Italy alone, I don’t know the current U.S. count – while they try to save the rest of us, without the tools they need. Wearing week-old masks (regs say to change after each infected patient) and draped in trash bags, slogging through hospital hallways clogged with patients on gurneys, hoping to save more people than they lose, and dreaming of just a couple of minutes to sit down somewhere. Or to pee – who knows when that last happened? Food? That was so two days ago.

The mean-spiritedness from the doubters is incomprehensible. Somehow it’s the fault of the medical profession that we’re all leaderless and stumbling in the dark? It’s OUR fault as ordinary everyday citizens that we allowed ourselves to be lied to without end?

The worst part of the pandemic so far – until the body count shocks everybody out of their shoes – is getting to know who we share a planet with. The philosophical/political/cultural divides are revealing more than we may have wanted to know. We don’t all share the same values, that’s being made painfully clear, and we’ve forgotten how to lay the differences aside for the good of all.

We can’t seem to communicate with each other – the two conversations never come together. It’s all about anger and suspicion and ideologies that simply can’t mesh – there are things unleashed in the nation that are tearing us apart at the seams, things that can’t be reconciled with the concept of a republic, a democracy, a united group of states. Unity has been shattered and replaced with a veneer of arrogance, an “I’m right, you’re wrong” approach to all of life.

It all feels unbearably sad. An ignominious end to a fairly good idea. We’ll still be a nation when this is over, in some bright tomorrow… but we’ll never be the same. That’s either the best possible news or the worst. Hope we all get to stick around for the ending…

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SQ Diary… page 13

Self-Quarantine Day 18 – 03/30/2020

Had my first sleepless night since the pandemic broke. Couldn’t get comfortable, tame the aching, stop my thoughts. The person charged with overseeing the welfare of the nation is bullying blue-state governors, accusing doctors and nurses of theft, hoarding, and black market activity, because given the chance that’s what HE would do. My disgust and fury are off the chain. City ERs and ICUs are war zones, nobody’s working their own angle, for god’s sake! Their only aim is to stay alive long enough to make a difference.

Jeez, any wonder I can’t sleep? Top epidemiologists in the world and he consults Mr. Baseball…

I never really knew what hate feels like until landing in this era. I’ve seen its effects all my life, especially during the Civil Rights struggle, and I watched the white supremacists come out of the woodwork during Barack Obama’s time. SPOILER ALERT: They never left, they somehow gained influence and they’ve brought friends. I’ve been angry at people, furious, ready to fight to the end… but I’ve never known what it was to hate. I’ve learned. I despise every atom of Donald J. Trump with a white-hot cleansing fire. I find no honor in him, no respect, no character, no intelligence, no self-control, no class. It’s ALL about him, ALL the time. He displays not an ounce of empathy for another living thing on the face of the earth.

Family members, friends, their kids, the nurses and doctors of the world, are on the front lines doing what they’re trained and conditioned to do, with one hand tied behind their backs. They’re putting themselves at risk every hour they work, and they do it by choice because that’s who they are. For them to be slandered with accusations of theft and waste is so out of the norm it doesn’t bear thinking about. They’re reusing nasty old masks and other personal protection gear, strictly against regs, because there isn’t enough stuff lying around to STEAL in the first place!

Lumpy has no idea what those life-and-death hospital scenes look like – just as he has no clue what real Americans deal with day to day during GOOD times. Suit him up, send him in, let him stay on his feet for twelve hours breathing through a funky mask and standing in body fluids. And then send him back in there the next day and the next. With the same mask. And when he whines, slap him so hard his cousins fall down.

I’ve wondered over the years what it would take for me to get political on Facebook again and bring it to my blog. Answer: this. All of it since 2015. It finally reached critical mass and toppled of its own weight. It’s my battle and I’m up for it… but first you cry.

DISCLAIMER: SOME of the white people in red states.

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SQ Diary… page 10

Self-Quarantine Day 15 – 03/27/2020

And it was night, and it was morning… fifteen days since I walked into our loft and shut the door. Kim’s in and out for necessities, but I haven’t even been in the hallways. I’ve been sick since we sequestered, but haven’t been tested. They’d just send me home to recuperate anyway. I cough and break into sweats ’round the clock, and in the night I wake up wondering if my next breath’s coming… but it always does.

On a far more critical front, moms of healthcare workers the world over are holding our collective breath, hoping our kiddos somehow get the protection and the supplies they need. It’s a limbo like this mama has never fallen into before and I’m not a nice person right now. Speak truth to me or get out of my face. Help or GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY. I’m not dying because of lies and I don’t want other people to either. But they are, dammit, more every day.

Food holds zero interest – I have to make myself eat. It feels counterproductive to tuning out. People are so very gullible and under-informed with their remarks – and so cutting – my belly’s doing flip-flops continuously. The hardest thing about the Trump Era is the cruelty.

Kimmers is filling the spa tub. We’ll soak and talk and I’ll probably cry and we’ll climb out feeling a little better somehow. So grateful not to be living this part of life alone… so many are, and dying without human touch to ease the transition. How much can hearts break and keep on beating?

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SQ Diary… page 9

Self-Quarantine Day 14 – 03/26/2020

Kimmers got his before-dawn walk this morning, and now he’s on the balcony in shorts and an In ‘n Out shirt, Pink Floyd blasting from his phone, keeping himself moving, staving off catatonia. He’s used to hours of court play every week, and lots of walking and bike riding. His guy-brain suffers if he doesn’t move more than he sits.

I, on the other hand, am a lump that coughs, so there’s much room for do-betters as the days pass.

And now he’s playing his Taylor guitar, letting it ring out there in the clean air. The days name their own schedule… whatever delivers us to the next hour… and the next… and thus unto sleep once again.

My guitar babe before I knew him…

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Wait! Breathe…

 

One by one

dig the clods

from your throat

and recall what breathing felt like

 

Leave the answers

to people who have them

what you don’t know

hurts less than what stands in for real

 

Tell yourself you

don’t care that might makes right

that right doesn’t matter

that upside down is how we do things now

 

You don’t care

it doesn’t matter make a note

it’s what saves you until they turn the lights back on

and the night-critters scatter until next hoedown

 

Not to care

makes the days fruitless

and the nights frightening

but no other armor has been provided to the rank and file

 

So wait here in limbo stasis

until the rules change for better

to something your heart will see when right counts again

you know it always did no matter what the storytellers say 

 

JSmith 11/22/2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday blues time…

Oh shoot, a Sunday when the blues come down with the rain, so ya’ roll with it, because what else. They’re just the ol’ familiar “Vacation’s Over, I Miss the Highway, Winter’s Comin’ Blues,” and they’re nothing a pot of Kim’s coffee, some introspection, a few tears, and my keyboard won’t play like a sad harmonica simply because that’s how I deal.

When the skies go all gray and weepy, my psyche does inventory to see what we haven’t felt bad about lately, haven’t cried bitter tears due to the rank injustice of, and we let those bad kids out to dance a fugue or two. The pathos is so satisfying – we were wronged, yes we were, there it is, so clear anyone could see it…

And from that silly exercise this rainy morning, an insight: being a farm kid carries with it an inherent amount of social isolation, especially for girls, in key ways. Because I rarely got to hang around in town after school, by the time I started high school I didn’t know the code, and my whole life has subsequently felt that way, like trying to catch up to a world the insiders knew about but I didn’t. 💡 This thought is multi-faceted and I still need to flesh it out, but I did promise you I’d keep working on this knot of letting go…

I grasp at my core that the base knowledge of belonging is seminal – it informs everything else. But in the end, we give ourselves permission to be – no one else holds that power, so we can be bold and SAY who we are and where we belong, if we decide to. However, the flip side is that it doesn’t matter who you decide your community is, it’s made up of individuals and those individuals can turn on you, or fail to support you, or leave you out of the loop at any time and it will no longer feel like your place in the world. So if you unexpectedly found yourself on the outside looking in, would you have a place to go, another community that might not only take you in but where you would want to go and would at some point fit in and feel at ease? Or would you care?

Would you maybe be old and settled and formed enough by then to decide your family and your books and your online friends were all the comfort and companionship you really wanted – and trusted? Would that be sad or wise? If it were informed by experience would it be logical? If it were, by that point, based on available energy of all the varieties there are, it would have to be acceptable, and finally, forgivable, am I right?

Different strokes for differently-wired folks, and I’ve written myself unblue. There’s even a bit of sun glowing through the clouds.

Gloriously, at last, we belong only to ourselves, which answers so many questions no one else can even name for us. They’re ours to think about. Namasté.

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Brother Bear…

How will I ever write this…how many tries will it take to get it right?

The holiday season always seems to bring the unexpected into our lives in some way. We went to an Open House in a friend’s newly-redecorated loft next to ours one evening last week, and I found myself in a free-range conversation with a woman who was helping to host. We eventually landed on the subject of pain and I was telling her about my gifted shaman friend, Ken, who had helped me so much through his knowledge of massage and the human lymph system. She asked me his last name and when I told her she said “Oh. He died. A couple of months ago, I think. He killed himself. Oh, I’m so sorry to be the bearer of bad news.”

We said our goodnights soon after and I’ve been trying to process the reality of her bombshell since. Cold shock gradually gave way to “Damn you, Ken, that’s so unfair. We were friends, you owed me one more conversation.” During my last session with him, which was less than three weeks before he died as it turns out, he told me he was getting ready to make some big changes in his life and pursue things that would be about his own peace and happiness for once. He sounded hopeful and resolved, and I affirmed him in his plans, telling him what a beautiful human being he was and that he deserved to be loved and appreciated and happy. He sat next to me on the massage table, his bare toes on the floor – he was 6’5″ – and went over *breathing lessons* with me again, the thing that ultimately keeps me healthy. He said “What if I’m not around sometime? You have to remember how to do this. You can never forget.” Did he know then? Was that the resolve? Or did he not yet have an escape hatch in mind in case things didn’t pan out… ?

How could he take himself away? His supremely gentle spirit. His soothing voice. His gifted touch. His knowledge, beautifully spooky in its intuitiveness. This isn’t my first rodeo with suicide and once again it’s like being yanked out of my skinsuit with no warning and left standing here raw and wondering what to do. I would have helped him in a heartbeat, and I can hardly bear the knowledge that I can’t bring him back to tell him that and a million other things. We hugged when I left that day, and I said I’d book another session soon. That was August…now it’s December…and what with various minor crises of our own I never did. 

Ken knew I was working on a novel and he asked if there was a bit part in it for a shaman called Bear. If I finally nurse it over its hurdles and finish it at some point…or if I don’t…he’s in there. And I have to believe that Brother Bear is still out there somewhere on his journey, encountering new hurdles to overcome. He was an inexpressibly exquisite creature in this life.

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Studies in human nature…

Solitude_IAC

 

“I vant to be alone.” ~ Greta Garbo

Except, according to Ms. Garbo, “I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said, ‘I want to be let alone!’ There is all the difference.”

There is all the difference.

You can’t do much writing, unless you’re journaling about one of the dustier sciences, without becoming a student of human nature, an endlessly intriguing and confusing subject. Who could ever comprehend humans? And having somehow done so, how would we ever live with what we’d learned about each other?

Once in a while the undercurrent of low-grade depression that accompanies my existence gets to be a bit much and I’m forced to acknowledge its existence to the point of taking a break from whatever seems to be the main problem. This time, Facebook was clearly leaving me in a state, so a Fall Sabbatical was an easy decision, and I’d no sooner closed the door than my normal sunny personality started breaking through again. Full disclosure, I also activated my sleepy Twitter account around that same time and started finding *inner healing* through shooting my mouth off.  To each her own poison.

Yesterday iMessage, which I can get to on my desktop now only through Facebook (I need a teenager, STAT), contained an odd and off-putting message that still has me in a mood. It was a clip of a skit enacted by young black students, male & female, dressed in scrubs, shooting police officers with automatic weapons, along with a personal message that said in part: “I have felt that you lean towards only seeing one side. I know you have taken a recess from FB and I just wanted you to see this. Are the youth in our schools being given permission to have such disregard for authority? This will only lead to more serious problems.”

Why now? Why purposely back me into a corner when I’ve said I need the exact opposite of that for a while?  I can wish mightily that I had answers, but I don’t. I’m tired. My head is tired, my heart is tired, I just need to go in a different direction for a few weeks and let some of the nastiness of recent battles filter out a little. I’m angry. Angrier than I’ve ever been in my life that lizardy old men think it’s just fine that other men assault and take advantage of young girls like I once was, and they laugh about it and celebrate it and elevate each other to the highest offices in the land. So angry. For the first time in my life there are people I hate.

It would have been an excellent time to let me alone. I asked nicely, after all, like any good little American girl would do. And we see, over and over and over again, how that works out.

 

 

 

 

 

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What do you read when you’re sad?

 

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what do you read when you’re sad

what do you write when your skin doesn’t know how to

hold you to a place where your heart can’t find cover

who anchors you when you need to fly free because

the ground has thorns and rocks and all of it

reminds that belonging bears a price you won’t pay

what do you read when everything hurts

what do you write when the nice words won’t come 

the soft words have sharp edges and your pledges

to stop the tears all come to lies

tell me what you read when you’re sad

jsmith 9/12/2018

 

 

 

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A Time for Truthiness

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I do seem to be gone. But not for good. Don’t you go away forever either, friends, I would miss you terribly. Fall will happen, it always does, and we will be right again, and be human together. Be safe ’til then…

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Catharsis is not pretty…

18-heart-breaking

Dammit, life in the end is a cruel mysterious bitch because it’s so beautiful and so brief. I stand in the shower and cry wracking sobs that leave my ribs sore because we’re getting into our 70’s now and some of my most brilliant friends are falling to Alzheimer’s and I can’t make it stop and IT’S NOT FAIR. And I’m wrapped in a towel with my hair dripping water and running down with the tears and I’m trying to find words that mean anything at all when the world is ending and I’m mad as hell and nothing’s right anywhere except… a precious beautiful man loves my son and maybe I can stop crying in a little while… maybe… because when life seems like it has to end right this minute so we won’t die from the ache… there’s something so good we’d be really… pissed if we missed it.

And then we’re crying… softly now… from the grace and the sweetness and the peace and the yin and the yang.

The balance is always there if we can let the quiet find us…

… so pain is such a mixed bag that we don’t really dare wish it to be gone forever. That’s a much-needed revelation this morning and I’m glad for it.

Have a beautiful spring Sunday, friends. Because life is good. So good.

 

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Grief – a most peculiar thing…

Untitled

“The world breaks everyone, then some become strong

at the broken places.”

– Ernest Hemingway

So many kinds of grief for humans to deal with. So many humans dealing with so much hurt. Be kind. Let the candles speak.

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