Moody Blues… page 147

Day 253 – 11/23/2020

Everything from the sublime to the ridiculous makes me cry now. For months into the pandemic I couldn’t keep my head corralled long enough to read a book, and since I got back to it every one I’ve picked up has made me shed good tears, from Alice McDermott’s After This, to Barlow Adams’ Appalachian Alchemy, to the book I finished today The World Without You by Joshua Henkin, which had me sobbing more than once. Even when I have trouble sticking with them, I can’t imagine a world without all the books we want to read – they’re the best thing for taking us from here to there, and I have a big need for that.

It feels all wrong for this to be Thanksgiving week when it should still be summer. Since we’ve never made a big deal of holidays beyond our first Christmas together, the solitude of this holiday season will affect us less than most. And they’re 24-hour days like any other – they pass. Blessings on them all, I malign no traditions.

At least once a week someone asks on Facebook or Twitter “Do you personally know anyone who’s died from COVID?” Rod A, who was a year behind me all the way through school, died a few months ago, and last night I was notified that Loren D, a friend from another lifetime, had died of the virus in Hutchinson’s Stormont-Vail Hospital. There have been friends of friends, parents of friends, but these two I knew well. The longer it’s allowed to rage uncontrolled the more people we’re going to lose and my sense is that it will become real to every one of us before it’s over.

Wet out this morning and just above freezing. There are days when the gray skies put me under. Hope this won’t be one of them.

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Whole new Monday… page 137

Day 239 – 11/09/2020

Hello this morning to a world once again filled with possibility. President-Elect Joe Biden named his pandemic task force today, all of them doctors, all of them experts in their field. He and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris are assembling their transition teams and discussing cabinet appointments. Meanwhile, as my friend The Hoarse Whisperer said, “Is it just me or can everyone else feel the collective world losing interest in even hearing Trump? Feels to me like the world is just ghosting him.”

What I’ll remember most about November 7, 2020, is the car horns, jubilant cheering, and dancing in the streets, not just here in #lfk but around the world. The mayor of Paris sent his congratulations “WELCOME BACK, AMERICA!” and world leaders other than Putin, Bolsonaro, Erdogan, Ji Xinping, and Obrador, all five of whom had a vested interest in a continued DJT romp, have expressed gratitude for our release from the nightmare. Finally the adults will be in charge again and that’s going to be huge.

Still processing the flip-side… learning that it wasn’t 30% of our fellow Americans who wanted another four years of chaotic dismantling of democratic government, it’s closer to 45%, meaning about every second person in the country other than Black people likes what we’ve been watching and experiencing since 2016. That’s weapons-grade knowledge… what do we even do with that?

We’ll have to find ways to live peaceably with each other, starting with thoughtful communication. It won’t be easy. Trust and respect have been broken and won’t be magically restored – it will take work to put things right, if ever they can be again.

Granada marquee on Mass Street

It’s been a week of revelations all ’round…

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Thinking ahead…

If the sun comes up tomorrow morning and there’s a way forward, I have goals…

  • Design an exercise routine and start using the 5th-floor workout room
  • Maybe try a No Alcohol November once we get past today (I crack myself up)
  • Read a book without going over every paragraph three times
  • Eat a vegetable
  • Swear less
  • Start walking again, weather permitting
  • Finish the whole-house purge I started mid-quarantine
  • Spend at least one day without hearing, seeing, or thinking about DJT & Co.

It’s all still a dream now on the 3rd of November and seeing it come to fruition is almost too much to hope for. If Joe & Kamala win this election we’ll still have the virus, the economy, racial issues, and the rest of life in America to deal with, and much to repair, but the difference will be leaders who know how to bring us together and get things done. Here for it, big time.

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It’s time… page 134

Day 232 – 11/02/2020

Here we are… the months, weeks, days, and hours have passed, one by endless one, and we find ourselves on the doorstep of KNOWING. We’ve agonized our way through every bit of it, pulling for America, afraid to hope. We have collective PTSD, not just from the election of 2016 but the four years that followed, and we need a divorce from our abuser so we can get well. The polls are in and tabulated and will change only infinitesimally before tomorrow, so we are where we are. Gonna hide and watch, and hope the growing sense of peace in my gut isn’t just a protective device to keep me intact.

It’s a sunny Monday, the start of a five-day warm-up, and I’m taking the light pouring through the blinds as a good omen. Maybe I’ll get something done today, strike it off the list and use it as momentum. Not sure why it matters, but it still does. Something about self-respect.

The PickleBall players should have a good week of it, with the sunshine and warmer temps, so things are looking up all over, dare I say it? I’m ready to put hour-by-hour awareness of what’s emanating from the White House on the back burner, relax a tad, and leave it to people who know what they’re doing. Ready to enjoy and talk about books, music, art, movies, all the things that make living a joy. Ready to live an unexamined life for a week or two. As we’ve seen clearly now, all of human existence is politics in one sense or another, and this will be my platform for the duration:

Listening to the experts and daring to hope. It’s a bold course, but I’m here for it. One more day…

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A Walk in the Woods…

Watching the snow fall, seeing how it gradually covers the flaws and imperfections in the landscape, and thinking: We’re on the cusp of change, either a new embrace of democratic government and individual freedoms, or a sharp swerve into fascism, with no real middle ground available for the foreseeable. This election will come down hard on one side or the other and Americans will deal.

Question: What happens then with what’s been lost? What about all the connections that remain but the relationship part has drained out? What about friends who were friends before we knew we were idealogical foes? Likely most of those ties won’t survive the intense reckoning, in part because there’s no easy way to pick up the thread and go on. Where do we start? What do we talk about? We’ve all shown our colors now and there’ll be no going back to the naiveté of simply not rocking the boat. Life’s too short to be that afraid and disingenuous, and look where it got us.

Will I be big enough, someday when the world feels a little safer and saner, to throw off the slings & arrows, not against me but people I love, toss all the other ugliness onto the funeral pyre with it, light a match, and walk away? Toward more solid relationships, not back into my cave? Right now it feels like no, not right away, maybe not ever if we’re plunged full-bore into an aberrant form of government.

I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen. Will this election be fair and true, or has somebody laid the groundwork for sabotage again? PTSD from 2016 makes me overly cautious about even expressing hope. So far, I’ve managed to write myself through it, but that will no longer be a panacea if everything goes badly wrong.

This is all borrowed trouble from my active imagination, but it’s also a way to prepare myself for any eventuality. Considering the *what ifs* in any situation makes for a better Girl Scout.

I’ve watched a number of people walk out of my life over the past sixteen years… I’ve booted a few to the curb myself… I’ve put some on hold in 2020 until all this is over. Each time, it’s a stark reminder of how sharply divided we are in America, and it doesn’t happen without stirring up a deep sadness. Things will never be so incredibly ideal that we don’t need each other, and those relationships happened for reasons.

Since not everything is meant to last forever, I’ll be focusing on what does – it’s the rational thing to do. I’m hoping for a groundswell of healing energy from people who know that a hard heart will kill you and closed minds lead to blind alleys and dead ends. We can live without a lot of things, but hope isn’t one of them.

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First snowfall… page 130

Day 225 – 10/26/2020

We woke up to a white coating on everything but streets and sidewalks, with light snow still falling… we’ve since watched big flakes come down in earnest a couple of times… and radar shows more on the way. Nothing’s been cold enough long enough for it to stick on, but it’s pretty for now and I love a snow-day. It’ll be even quieter all up in here than usual.

Seeing the vari-colored trees decorated with snow calls for this…

I hope I’ll remember.

Only 8 days/years now…

Me hanging on, hoping for a good landing.

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That will bring us back to Do (oh-oh-oh)… page 123

Day 220 – 10/19/2020

Yup, rollin’ on into another week. We finally started the fireplace last night – it’s been chilly for enough days that the building is absorbing some of the cold and the fire was soothing. Same this morning – high temp today of 46º, overcast and gray. But then… Mother Kansas takes over again and it’s the ol’ rollercoaster ride:

Over the past couple of weeks I’m sensing a sea change in the country… or I hope that’s what it is. I’m starting to allow a cautious optimism to permeate my thoughts and to maybe, possibly believe that truth and right will win out. It’s hard to get there, though, because for as long as I live – and I’m counting on another 30 years or so – the night of November 8, 2016 will never leave my consciousness. We knew that night what the nation was in for and all of it has come true, so never again will I blindly trust that things will work out for the best no matter what.

But… I’m starting to have hope with something under it and I do know what time it is.

Monday’s MickeyD day and my belly’s starting to tell me about it. So with Taco Tuesday and the big weekend breakfasts, that leaves just three lunches a week to get creative with and the routine, for two non-traditionalists, is comforting and fun. Also we’re lazy, yeah.

Something happy yesterday as I was bopping through my photo cache – a pic of John, taken I know not where nor when, but I love it. That smile turned my okay day stellar.

John says: Taken April 26, 2013, inside a Lockheed Super Constellation on display at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

I’m thinking this might be the weirdest of Halloweirds we’ve experienced, so I’m bracing for the worst while opening a large porthole to the best. Mere days to wait, we hope, as we test our capacity for suspense, stress, and terror. Suck it up, fellow believers, we’re going to make it.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith

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The mOnday Muse… page 117

Day 214 – 10/12/2020

Good morning, my Diary friend, did you make the most of your slack weekend? I slipped so far into neutral I couldn’t even feel the engine running and it wasn’t detrimental, as far as I can tell on one cup of coffee…

It’s a sunshiny Monday, with eventual temps in the low 70s, Kim’s in NoLaw slamming balls around, and I’m looking at stuff on my desk I could deal with and get rid of. Might do that…

A history note, Diary: Because the sound of their voices exceeds the limitations of my medications, I’m following the Amy Coney Barrett hearing this morning via Twitter and it’s totally meeting expectations so far. Claims of fairness are being bandied about, but there’s nothing fair about what’s happening in the Senate today. President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, a 20-year veteran of the courts with a stellar record, was not afforded so much as a meet-and-greet by the GOP following the death of Antonin Scalia, with some 296 days remaining in the Obama administration. Now, with 21 days left in the Trump administration and over 9 million citizens already having voted for our next president, Mitch McConnell and his Senate will almost certainly confirm Ms. Barrett, whose name was put forward before The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s funeral had taken place. As is my duty as a United States citizen, I question her character and integrity for being a part of this and putting her name on such a tarnished process. She has three years’ experience as a judge and they’re vaulting her to the Supremes? Their motives have never been more transparent.

So then… mood for starting a new week?

“She’s kidding, right? She didn’t really mean that. Right?” If you’ve been giving me shit, I live for that flicker of doubt.

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The weeks… page 112

Day 207 – 10/05/2020

And lo, we are delivered once again unto mOnday. Hello bright world, hello color, hello resolve… let’s go.

It’s chilly this morning, but the PickleBallers don’t much care as long as the sun’s shining. Kim would have crawled out of his skin by now if they hadn’t been able to keep playing outdoors when SPL closed things down, so that needs to go on for as long as possible… ’til frostbite becomes an issue.

This morning we have the case of Schrödinger’s president… he is either ill or not ill, highly-contagious or benign, in hospital or out… and American life limps on. Less than 30 days from an election nobody trusts, we have little real knowledge as to how it might all play out, which is crazy-making. Should we be finalizing our passport applications and choosing the things we’ll take with us… or getting prepared to roll up our sleeves and put the country back together? The truly crazy-making factor is that we may not have a definitive answer for months, not days. But hey, why borrow trouble on a mOnday when I could be making GOOD trouble somewhere??

Every time I’m out here scribbling, leaving my Diary open to the immediate world (and how do they know there isn’t another, grittier one somewhere) I spare a thought for the wanderer who happens upon my blog space. Poor soul doesn’t know me from a ton o’ coal so he or she just has to jump in and run with it (or flee). I inherited a wonky sense of humor from Daddy, added to it in various ways during my Latta years, polished it on John’s delicious sarcasm, and I’ve honed it now for sixteen years keeping up with the KIMN8R. Short story… it isn’t for everyone.

And all at once, sunshine pouring in through the windows, hot coffee right here, memory flooding the room, I LOVE THE WORLD. It’s the best place I remember being so far, and it feels worth keeping intact.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith

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Day 200 of the hostage situation… page 107

Day 200 – 09/28/2020

This does feel a lot like being held hostage by Insanity, but no, I consciously CHOSE the hermit life… or has it chosen me?

So… diary/psyche, it’ll be your job to remind me that today I actually let a mOnDaY state of mind deter me from exerting even the minuscule amount of effort required to go hang out with Rita. It took more energy to write that sentence than it would have to simply put on a bra and some shoes and drive across town. Tomorrow. Tomorrow’s another day, or so we’ve been led to expect, and tomorrow’s ALWAYS a good day for doing things. It’s even possible my brain won’t be on autopilot two days in a row.

It’s a beautiful fall day, in the 60s, air smells fresh, sounds outside feel like home, and there’s no reason not to be out there gettin’ me some a’ that, except inertia got me like… 🤷🏼‍♀️

Oh well, sufficient unto each day something something…

I’m wishing me better luck with adulting on Tuesday.

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Diary… page 101

Day 193 – 09/21/2020

I’ve averaged a diary post every other day since I started documenting our experiences in The Time of COVID, which should prove interesting to me in some future world, looking back. I hope we’ll all be afforded grace for remembrance and reflection when the chaos ends, and I hope there’ll be time enough left for healing the breaks, bruises, lacerations, and gaping wounds. My ESPN let me know early on that I was slated to live in interesting times, with a hint that it wasn’t going to be a cake walk, but I hedged my bets until reality came knocking. Hello, world, how did you get all up in mine?

Every time I sit here to write it’s with the intention of staying upbeat, encouraging myself, putting things in perspective. But as soon as I start thinking, the monologue heads south… why is that? Maybe because every.single.day.without.exception there’s a new crisis, a new scandal, a new threat to our peaceful existence? Is that why I’m a witch at the keyboard? It’s possible…

I read a quote from Patricia Heaton this morning that resonates:

“Being 62 is great! With mortality even more present now and the end looming, you realize… I don’t need to do anything I don’t want to do. I don’t have to tolerate people who aren’t good for me.”

At 73 it’s even more true for me and it’s a nicely-liberating affirmation to take in.

I’m seeing Dr. Schmidt at the Pain Clinic today and I hope she can break this endless loop – my last two injections haven’t touched the nerve pain. If she orders PT I’m here for it.

I hope this much is true…

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

Someone reminded me of this recently… worth a rerun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And she did.

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

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Rainy Monday… page 74

Day 137 – 07/27/2020

For reasons I’m still exploring, I grew up a pleaser and it’s taken me most of my life to shed that tendency, but at this point the people I care about keeping happy are few in number and all the “should” has gone out of my relationships and interactions. “Is it true, is it real, is it right?” If not, our conversations are going to be brief.

The isolation that defines 2020 is showing me that I’m really not all that nice a person and people are likely justified in their relief to be shut of me, at least for the time being. A quick mental inventory of extended family members tells me the gene pool is overweighted by about half toward the conservative-thinking side, and most of those choose to keep me at arm’s length, at the least, for which I can’t blame them since I rarely shut up online. It’s a different story in person… there are days when I don’t say much of anything out loud.

Most of my lifetime has been marked by saying too much, blurting stupid things, irritating friends and family with my penchant for trying too hard, so I love my life in recent years, here in my comfy citadel where I have few opportunities to be overbearing, at least in the flesh… and I’m learning from all of it. I say what seems important to say and a steady sense of detached calm carries me through and over a lot of things… but at its bottom is a loneliness that defies description. It embodies the grief of death and endings, and the nowhere feeling that comes from having no idea what will happen next, where it all goes from here. It sounds like worry when I put it in writing, but it isn’t so much that as the waiting… the heavy sense of quiet outside and in… the tension everywhere… while the fight we can’t do anything about swirls around us.

I just want it over, decided, finished one way or the other. Either full-on fascism will be the victor, everything about America that hasn’t already changed will complete its metamorphosis, and we’ll live with the results or die FROM them… or we’ll get a second chance to make democratic government work. One hundred days is a long time to hold our breath.

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Rainy days and Mondays… page 68

Day 130 – 07/20/2020

It’s one of those Zen mornings when the sun comes up but hides behind dark clouds right away and everything changes. Kim had to vacate the PickleBall court ahead of the rain, so maybe we’ll pretend it’s still the weekend, have a big breakfast with the fresh salsa a friend delivered, and hit the spa tub again. I would not object. Rain is cool – it happens, literally, out of the blue, and always feels healing to me.

The process and experience of healing means different strokes for different folks, and I used to see it in my imagination as a fluid line moving forward, when it’s anything but that. You have to want to get there – the work, receptivity, and humility required don’t come cheap.

The isolation 2020 has imposed, in all directions, is proving to have some benefits, as most things in life do, however grim they may be at the time. It never hurts to take a step or two back and look things over from a new perspective, in fact it’s what keeps us from solidifying in place and letting life go on without us. The rain washed those thoughts in…

Weather forecast says showers could hang with us for a couple of days, so we’ll happily hang in…

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A bunny tale…

Easter was three months ago but we all pretty much missed it so this lightly-edited return to 2013 seems okay… and yeah, still feeling sentimental. A piece I wrote seven years ago…

Yesterday for the first time in memory, Easter Sunday buried me under a huge pile of nostalgia.  You’d think Thanksgiving and Christmas would have considered that their sacred duty, but no, it was innocent pastel little Easter that blindsided me.

I’m the eldest of three sisters.  Our brother is gone, our parents, too, all of our grandparents have passed away, a lot of aunts and uncles, a few cousins, and without warning yesterday a tsunami of loneliness sent me rolling end over end.  My sisters, although close in spirit, don’t live nearby, my son and Kim’s are long hours away in different directions, so it’s just me and Pa, which is ordinarily more than fine.  The KIMN8R himself is now an “orphan by default” — grandparents, parents, step-parents, sister all went off and left him via death.  His niece and nephew, cousins and aunties live far away.  So.  We manage, and we have a very good time at it.  Yesterday was just one of those days.

The growing-up years.  Depending upon the whims of the calendar, Easter morning sometimes dawned sunny and mild, but more often cloudy, gray, and chilly.  Regardless, we four munchkins threw jackets and hats or goofy little headscarves over our jammies at the crack of sunrise and ran across the driveway to our grandparents’ big yard where Grandma was waiting with our Easter baskets.  The hedges and trees and other hidey-holes yielded up an abundance of chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, candy eggs and assorted Easter-y gifts until our baskets were full. Then back home for a breakfast of waffles and bacon, followed by a mad scramble to get into our new dresses – made by our mom – white anklets, and patent-leather shoes. Our little brother was stuffed under protest into a pair of pants and a jacket, and the tie that always gave him a church headache.  As for the three of us girls, we could be found complaining bitterly about the way Mother did our hair — it looked dumb, too curly, too straight, too not right.  Caught up in the joys of motherhood, she continued the grooming ritual on the drive to church, straightening or smacking anything within arm’s reach and using Mom Spit to clean the ears of whomever was fortunate enough to grab the middle position, front seat.  When she managed to get dressed is a mystery for the ages, but at least our dad knew enough not to sit in the car and honk the horn the way one of our uncles did every Sunday.  I have to wonder if he would have lived to see another glorious Easter morn.

Once there we sat in a row, with Grandma in charge of keeping order through the judicious application of Juicy Fruit gum, pencils and church bulletins.  Our parents were in the choir shooting us the stink-eye if we whispered or giggled too much, while we pinched each other under cover of the pew in front of us.  Grandma gave it her best shot, in her Sunday dress and hat and one time wearing a pair of earrings lovingly shaped out of flour-salt-and-water paste and gifted to her that morning.  Grandpa went to church with us about once a year, at Christmas time.  He always said he wasn’t cut out for church because “When I work, I work hard. When I sit, I fall asleep. And when I go to church, I sit, so… ”

Our parents would leave the choir loft and sit with us for the sermon, during which time Daddy invariably found it imperative to clip his nails. That little task accomplished, his next aim was to free a piece of hard candy from its crackly cellophane wrapper.  His painstaking efforts to keep the whole process quiet only resulted in its taking f.o.r.e.v.e.r. … one tiny explosion at a time.  If I’d been the pastor I’d have marched down from the pulpit and thumped him on the head, but I couldn’t think about it or the giggles would do me in.

Church blessedly over, we all piled back into the station wagon, our brother sighing loudly and claiming a window seat so he could stick his head out and breathe again.  He’d already ripped his tie off on the way to the car.

We’d come back home to the aroma of the Sunday dinner Mother had somehow put in the oven that morning — another mystery of time and space — shuck out of our good clothes, and start sorting our Easter basket haul.  Pretty sure we managed to stuff a goodly pre-lunch portion of it in our faces.

The afternoon usually consisted of endless egg hunts of the boiled-and-dyed variety, culminating in the cracked and battered dregs getting thrown at whichever sister, brother or cousin veered into our line of sight.  It was all fun and games until somebody put an eye out, of course.

I’ve been contemplating what sort of cosmic convergence might have set off yesterday’s blue mood, but nothing momentous stands out.  Just a little too much, maybe.  A little too much perfect day, a little too much sunshine, too much quiet, too much capacity for remembering, too much of not seeing people I love for too long.

The earth is back on its axis now and life goes on …

1951 – the year I fully realized I was no longer an only child. My sister Susan was about 3 months old that Easter.

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