The trick is to keep moving…

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

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

Where we find ourselves…

Truth can shock us upon first hearing.

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

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

Is that too much to ask?

Meanwhile, it’s hot. Damn hot.

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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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Take me home, country roads…

Word on the street has always been that you can’t go home again, and that seems like a wise release-mechanism… you can leave but you can never really return, you have to keep moving forward. In that light, there are places I’ll be okay not ever seeing again, along with the people who determined the atmosphere there. But for about five hours yesterday evening, Rita and I slipped back “home” and it was good stuff. We were with childhood friends… sisters… in a peace-filled house, enjoying beautiful appetizers and wine, talking nonstop, and the first time I thought of the clock it was 6:30… the next, almost 8:30! We picked up where we left off the last time we were together, some seven or eight years ago, and even though we all grew up in and around the same tiny Kansas town, the conversation was far more about life as it is now than about people we thought we knew then, and vice versa. Small towns… where people know or surmise everything you do and say, and consider it their life’s duty to help regulate same. By accepted standards of the times we grew up in, we’re country girls gone wild… tomorrow one sister will fly home to her partner and her wide-ranging interests, and the other will leave for meetings in three different countries. A third sister will keep pursuing goals that have little to do with former dreams and instead are all about the here and now. And the fourth will continue to observe and learn, grateful for another shot at life in a healthy body, and hatching ideas for the immediate future.

We were so busy being together none of us thought to take pictures, which is fine because even a SMART phone couldn’t have captured the essence. Sweet, easy, real, loving… and the kind of acceptance that heals. One of those relationships where you say endlessly “We HAVE to catch up!” and then one day the stars align and it happens… and it’s always worth the wait.

Surrounded by cheap knock-offs of everything in life, it’s reaffirming to see that some things truly never change because they’re the real deal. What solace and joy in this present era.

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Unsolved mysteries…

Another holiday weekend has passed for three senior heathens sharing a gray chilly Ishtar, complete with Spanish mimosas and good food. Seems entirely apropos and it was indeed perfect. Rita did all the cooking… a small spiral-cut ham, au gratin potatoes, asparagus that she roasted just before we sat down, and jalapeño deviled eggs. Kimmers poured Cava & Pomegranate mimosas until the well ran dry, and a mellow time was enjoyed by all. For dessert, I whipped up a lemon cream meringue pie just like Mama used to make, the complete scratch version, a feat I couldn’t have attempted a short three months ago, and it came out right, go me. Sometime late afternoon Rita went home to nap with Jade, my chair tripped me and held me fast for the next couple of hours, and Kim watched the National Canine Agility Show. When you’re not sure what to celebrate, you can’t go wrong with dogs.

Easter strikes me as one of the weirder Christian holidays, what with its origins in ancient pagan rituals, rites of spring, fertility goddesses, bunny-rabbits and all. Hard to gather up all the pieces and make them fit somewhere… so dogs it is, then!

So many pieces/parts left over every time.

******

In my third trimester of living, I have no answers and know only a handful of things for sure:

  • Life is a gift and we’re here to live it
  • If not for the catalysts of profit, greed, and control, humans could find ways to get along
  • If we don’t make life about truth and love we’ve wasted our time here
  • Human communication is a difficult climb, and that’s entirely because of humans
  • 99.9% of us end up being too soon old, too late smart
  • Karma is a bitch only if we are

******

I believe Finneas gets it right, so I’m sharing his exquisite gift of music with you again…

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Goals…

Since my current objective is to be outside walking every day, I’m hyper-focused on The Weather Channel, and what I’m seeing is a roller-coaster path to spring. Pretty sure it’s that way every year, but this time I’m feeling the nuances. We had 8″ of snow late last week, and parts of it are still on the ground. Today’s high is forecast to be 70º with sunshine, so the remnants should disappear while Rita and I are out “hiking” this afternoon, and I can’t wait. She’s scouting out a path I haven’t taken, just for extra interest and incentive because she’s cool like that.

******

That was yesterday. We walked around the Pohler Lofts neighborhood and spent a little time at the Wishing Bench, which someone with a wonky heart on a rough day set on fire some years ago, but which has been refurbished and laden with items dear and meaningful. Next time I’ll take a fresh pic… yesterday we were just there to look and ponder. We went from Pohler to Hobbs Park & Stadium on 11th and looked at the murals… read the quotes by Langston Hughes, who grew up a few blocks NW of there… along with other words from other souls who helped make Lawrence what it is.

Old photo of original bench.
Hobbs Stadium

We love this town, which is still in Kansas but so not like the rest of the state. Our Democratic governor, Laura Kelly, is one of the nation’s most endangered in this year’s midterms… and her GQP legislature has hatched a bill to separate Douglas County, one of two blue dots in the state, from the rest of NE Kansas and stretch our voting block in a straight line across the state all the way to Colorado, 400 miles long and an inch deep. Against our will. Against anybody’s better judgment. Against sanity. It’s crazy-making to be rendered helpless in our own defense, which delights some people no end.

I have a theory, which if proven wrong would crush me. I think you can make #lfk your kickaround dog, poke her with sticks, try to put her nose in the mud… and get virtually nowhere. Digest this in whatever way lines up with your basic philosophy, but a blurb Google handed me says “Lawrence, Kansas was founded in 1854 by antislavery radicals who had come to Kansas under the auspices of the New England Emigrant Aid Company to outvote proslavery settlers and thus make Kansas a ‘free’ state. The city was named for Amos A. Lawrence, a New England textile manufacturer who funded the company’s settlement efforts.”

“Antislavery radicals” sounds so… judgmental, don’t you think? When we go to Free State Brewery… Free State Dental… any number of clearly freedom-loving spots in town… I just think how fresh the air feels. I am for sure anti-slavery, but isn’t everyone? Wait… that’s the “radical” part, isn’t it. From what I can gather, John Brown was a nutty old scarecrow who knew his beans, knew right from wrong, knew people weren’t livestock, and he left an indelible imprint here, as we continue to ask ourselves “WWJBD?”

Abolitionist John Brown has been famously depicted in a mural done by Kansas artist John Steuart Curry in the State Capitol building in Topeka, completed in 1940. The mural portrays Brown almost as an Old Testament prophet, a Bible in one hand, a rifle in the other.

Mr. Brown did his rabble-rousing in the 1850s, coinciding with #lfk’s infancy and likely setting the tone for future dealings with the surrounding world. Then in the 1860s, as Civil War devastated the country, William Quantrill contributed his bit to history:

“The Lawrence Massacre, also known as Quantrill’s raid, was an attack during the American Civil War (1861–65) by Quantrill’s Raiders, a Confederate guerrilla group led by William Quantrill, on the Unionist town of Lawrence, Kansas, killing around 150 unarmed men and boys.

The attack on the morning of Friday, August 21, 1863 targeted Lawrence due to the town’s long support of abolition and its reputation as a center for the Jayhawkers, who were free-state militia and vigilante groups known for attacking plantations in pro-slavery Missouri‘s western counties.” -Wikipedia

Quantrill couldn’t burn most of the native stone buildings on Mass Street and elsewhere, but he did his damndest to scorch the character and reputation of Lawrence. And how many people today can even tie his name to this place in history?

I may have been too mesmerized to take pictures yesterday… I haven’t been out much ya’ know… but it’s all still there and we’ll go back. Not today, however, when the high temp will be 28º, a 40º drop from yesterday afternoon’s balmy stroll. Overcast. Gray. Glad I got out and shook hands with Monday while the gettin’ was good. I’m more thankful for a little sister who never whines about slowing her “veteran hiker” pace for the old girl with the hardware onboard. Wait… she has plenty of same, so she knows.

Thought I was seeing ghosts slipping along the sidewalks… all that talk of Quantrill’s Raiders and John Brown and how we got here. Turns out it’s snowing, and now the flakes are gathering mass and acting all sassy. I get to stay in here all day, and walk or no walk I’m loving it. I’m wishing all of us a cozy day bathed in peace and freedom…

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Life in its third trimester…

Longevity is a thing in my gene pool. My two grandmothers both celebrated their 95th birthdays in their right minds… some of my great-grandmothers lived into their 90s… one of my uncles is 92, in shape like the Marine he was, and still living an independent life. Other relatives have beaten the odds as well… kept their faculties about them… lived long and prospered. I consider that a positive thing, as I enjoy living and prefer to do it on as healthy a basis as possible.

“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.” -William Saroyan

Since embarking on my 70s almost five years ago, life has changed in both subtle and clear-cut ways. It’s getting easier to stay mellow, partly thanks to the solitude of the past two years, partly due to the changing character of American life, which has taken on a set-adrift sort of feel.

“These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all… “

But in other ways a mellow state of mind is a total reach, so it’s healthier to feel, experience, vent, exorcise… and move on. “So strange, the world of social media. We think we’re negotiating the rapids just fine, and then with no warning we’re hung up on the rocks of somebody else’s bad day. Or our own.” -source unknown

Being misunderstood… misperceived… misjudged, is a fact to be dealt with for the duration of life, but it’s always jarring when it happens. I’ve never managed to solve the mystery of someone else’s misguided disapproval, so I tend to ignore it instead, which works just fine most of the time, but does add to a general sense of social malaise. Human interaction… for as educated, experienced, and sophisticated as we like to see ourselves… still swings wildly between love and hate… peace and warfare… acceptance and exclusivity. We lack the courage of our convictions so we lamely defend them ad infinitum, with less than positive results. When it comes to human communication we’re a consistent contradiction, our facts in disarray, our feelings spilling over, our frustrations fully on display. Everything’s a competition, an opportunity to be offended, a place to stake a claim. It’s exhausting and simply reinforces my reclusive lifestyle… the energy available to me can be better used elsewhere.

Things happen every day to remind us that the world is a cold and crazy place, that values vary among individuals… and the challenge inherent in human existence to care about each other becomes ever more… challenging. Sometimes there’s a sense that no genuine caring is left in the world and it’s every man, woman, and child for themselves. But when I think about the people I love, and who love me, or at least value my personal welfare… I know I’m inundated by the good life and I’ve never had it better. Perspective is everything.

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The days of wine and roses…

Seventeen designated “I LOVE YOU THE MOST” holidays with my husband and counting… and it’s all still real. Since his kitchen is the best restaurant in town, we’ll share something with the love cooked in, toast to happy days ahead, and feel grateful.

The romance is still there, and it’s everything:

Happiness is overrated and likely sinful.

Despite the gaiety and lightheartedness of our forebears, Valentine’s Day, like other “human interest” observances, is hard for people with heavy hearts. Being alone, when every conversation is about being with another person, takes a toll. I see you… do today on your terms.

******

To Kim, who has saved my life from the beginning, countless times over… you’re The Guy.

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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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Forever…

Oh hi, just me here, thinking about stuff again. We emerged yesterday from ten days of frigid temps, snow, fog, and rain… by which I mean all of 2022 thus far… so today’s high near 60º will feel like a holiday. We may get to enjoy a couple days’ worth before the cold asserts itself again, and this reminder of spring is tantalizing. However… 

… BACK, that is.

A thought: I have three partial rolls of Forever stamps in a caddy on my desk. Considering the number of pieces of snail mail we send in a year’s time, that may be how long they last – forever. The post office will be a distant memory and someone will find these sticky tokens, and wonder… and if that turns out to be the most puzzling artifact in my house, I will have dodged a number of bullets.

If you’re looking for an exquisite read, I recommend The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles. There were passages that literally took my breath away, left me in tears, transported my winter carcass out of the cave. It’s a compelling, layered story beautifully told.

From the sublime to the ridiculous… I see this morning that “urine” is still trending on Twitter because all over America people who think they’re part of a master race are drinking their own pee. Horse meds with a piss chaser for “treating” COVID, as opposed to vaccines… anything to own the other half. This is actually where we find ourselves at the start of Pandemic, Year Three. I can step back, separate myself from all of it, and muse about the implications until ever-present reality steps in again and I want to circle the wagons for protection and support… and then I realize people I used to turn to aren’t there anymore and aren’t invested in what’s up. The shock of that knowledge has worn off, but the ache never leaves.

And then I come across other news and facts, and have to face it that the ridiculous is totally in vogue right now.

DISCLAIMER: The law has not yet been instituted, but it’s on the books.

Ready or not, sublime or ridiculous, we’re swimming in the waters of a new year, human-ing and hoping for the best. Each of us has challenges to meet, unique to us but universal to the race, and that’s where our hearts and minds will be. The year 2022 will inevitably be a stretch in ways we have yet to envision, so I hope we’ll all experience some “outside myself” moments, some chances to be there for someone else, to make those small differences that make ALL the difference. And if we find ourselves with softer hearts when (if) 2023 rolls around, we will have won something important.

*****

Old(er), not old. Age, like sex, happens 99% in the brain.

And that brings us full-circle back to forever, which we all wish belonged to us and maybe does, we’re just not sure how or where. Seems like an okay idea to live like it’s a fact… with everybody’s forever in mind.

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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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Journaling toward peace…

Last week while triumphantly purging my Drafts folder, I found this piece from 2016 sitting in there untitled, and I remember receiving an okay to print it but for some reason never did. It was written by someone I know, after TFG won the White House in 2016, and reads like a road map to where we find ourselves today, so now is its time to see daylight.

A compelling viewpoint, shared by permission…

11/09/2016 – Physically ill this morning. America got the president it deserves. May the “greatest generation” and their ignorant, bigoted offspring live long enough to see the suffering that their choice creates. I’m fearful for B’s safety, and my own.

11/10/2016 – My spare thoughts are given to the idea of leaving, and if and/or when that might become a necessity. Not the best sleep I’ve ever had.

11/12/2016 – As I’ve had time to process, I’m feeling more resolved to see what comes and to approach it with optimism. Leaving would only help place the country even more in the grips of the ignorant deplorables who believe that God and their newly-elected president will save them from all they hate. And we’ll see. Perhaps he’ll ruffle feathers on both sides of the aisle and actually stir positive change. Or, he may fall under the spell of the conservative puppet masters and do real damage. But my fear of the latter doesn’t promote health in my own body/psyche, so I’m letting it go – as best I can. I’m working out, I’m eating well and being the best I can be, so that my life is enjoyable for me and a refutation to all those who believe that their god should, and will, smite me. I felt physically ill for the first couple of days, and was filled with bitter anxiety, and I’m letting that go. Living well, and happily fulfilled, is the best revenge.

As for safety, my conversations with B and various coworkers have been revealing. It’s only us, those of us who consider ourselves “enlightened whites” who are truly upset. One year into Obama’s first term, the black populace at large gave up on their (misguided) dream that their black savior had arrived to put right all that had been done, for generations, to demean and belittle them. And those who were never misguided, such as B and most of my coworkers, and who realized that one man – even if granted 8 years – could never overcome that much baggage, are resolved, as they have been their entire lives, to wake up and move through another day under the leadership of whoever is sitting in that seat. As they rightly point out, they were being gunned down in their own homes and during routine (profiled) traffic stops as much, if not more, than ever under Obama, so what’s the difference really? Their schools were being defunded and consolidated into even more wasteful and poorly run “charter schools of excellence.” When your skin color or race has been a key to oppression your whole life, and you learn from infancy not to trust leadership, then leadership does not matter.

B was sad for me that I was so hurt by it, but he was not in the least surprised by the outcome or any more worried about his future or safety – he lives with that fear every day anyway, something I had not fully understood. So, we’ll stay put unless things get crazy and we are physically threatened on a regular basis.  And in the meantime I’ll try not to be mean-spiritedly joyous when the deplorables suffer. The day after the election, General Motors announced that they were laying off 2000 workers in Ohio and Michigan, two states that voted for Trump because he’s going to get their jobs back. Imagining their confused, devastated faces brought me more glee than I care to acknowledge. But that’s as unhealthy as my own anxious depression. Those are lives and children and aging parents and stories too. I won’t become the fount of hatred that I detest in my “enemies.” Here’s to improvements where we can find them and strength to stand up and speak when those around us are being abused.

11/21/2016 – We’ve all had a lot of processing to do, and each of us does it in our own way.

Initially I read every bit of news, no matter how painful, in the vain hope that I might read something that would reverse the actual truth. But instead, I got an unbalanced helping of articles that said “it won’t really be as bad as we think it will be, it can’t be because…” and the alternative, which was always along the lines of “here’s how easily Trump will erase Obama’s legacy and gut: (your choice) the arts, gay rights, healthcare, etc.”

So then I stopped reading the news entirely, escaping into retail therapy and fluff pieces on psychology and history.

Now I’m back somewhere in the middle, taking my truth with the lumps so that my eyes are open, but not getting too bogged down in it.

Otherwise it is much the same here. Work, household chores – and now that it’s getting cooler, cozying up in the evening and staying to ourselves.

11/22/2016 – And now we wait, as the President-Elect prepares to appoint White Supremacists to key government positions and mixes his own business dealings with the machinations of world government. We wait. And in the meantime we LIVE.

We don’t have the luxury of allowing rampant ignorance to thrive.

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Don’t forget…

The peripheral Facebook page that links to this blog will be going away soon, so if you haven’t yet read this post: https://playingfortimeblog.com/2021/11/16/a-message-to-the-faithful/ … please do. That is, if you want to stay connected to Playing for Time. And let me just say that it’s terrific to have you here, so I hope the circle will be unbroken.

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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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Thankful…

Holidays now are ghosts of traditions past, but yesterday felt right. Rita and Kim did the cooking, kept it simple but delicious, and all the feelings were mutual. Three people in one room on the same page makes for a relaxing observance and we enjoyed it all.

In the afternoon, Rita went to a movie with friends and we flaked out with football, isn’t that how it’s done? We missed getting a picture of Kimmers, but he snapped one of us for posterity since the hope of “next year in Jerusalem” is never guaranteed.

*****

And oh wait… here’s Kim on yet another beautiful day this November… 💙

We hope everyone’s gathering was peaceful, all hearts grateful, all ties intact. That’s a lot.

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There’s nothing more freeing than truth…

The past week held a little of everything, which I’m still processing. Forward progress happened… news of the world disappointed and sickened us again… the daily goodness we depend on was all there… and we learned more things about the people in our lives.

I’m still abstaining from TV news and benefitting from that new habit. Reading the headlines for myself is a different animal from hearing them pounded to a pulp by the various talking heads, and it worms its way into my psyche far less. It’s all still happening, still every bit as appalling and life-altering… but when I walk away from the written word, my brain knows there’s far more hope in the world than we’re being led to believe.

The past couple of weeks have been a watershed… a time for facing truth. The bent of the nation and the world is a totally real thing… corporate fascism is bursting with energy and drive in the civilized world, and the peculiar ethic, the tenets, the morés that fuel it have by now filtered down to the man on the street. A 3-minute conversation is all it takes to turn a buzz-word into a breakup. Who we are is out in the open, and it isn’t who everybody THOUGHT we all were.

A long-lost relative drew me into a political discussion recently, which stayed civil until I asked him how he could align himself with one of the most heinous human beings on the planet. His answer, “You make it about him, an undignified coarse-talking buffoon of a personality. I voted for principles. I learned a long time ago to live day to day on PRINCIPLES ….NOT…. Personalities. So….Judy, if we can’t compromise in our relationship, then we have to do the next best thing. Cut ourselves loose from one another.” For the second time in 20 years, you mean, after a 3-minute conversation. I have yet to find a 2021 Republican who will talk with me… just talk, and listen, and talk some more, with thoughtful silences and an indicated willingness to consider any and all facts. Apparently it’s a guiding PRINCIPLE not to do that.

The same relative told me, “I loved Robert and Judy Latta. This Judy Smith person I can’t deal with.” THE FACTS: Robert Latta died a violent death and didn’t come back, and Judy Latta, in many necessary ways, went with him. Judy Smith is who I am. You never knew me.

The division we knew was there, that we can feel building month by month, is too real for words. Until now we’ve been able to cover parts of it up and pretend it’s really nothing and it’ll smooth over. But people are finally saying outright “I don’t like you, please go away,” so I think it’s here to deal with for the foreseeable.

People don’t appear to want to talk, discuss, consider, think, instead preferring the lines to be drawn in indelible ink and never trespassed against. If the U.S. falls apart, it will be due in large part to the fact that most of the population can’t understand, and is not interested in, the differences between fascism, communism, democratic socialism, and democracy. The words themselves become the meaning and the power, and the human capacity for discernment and comprehension takes a hike – it’s all too threatening and complex to deal with.

The fact that truth is hard to come by in this era makes it a supreme challenge to keep the meaning in our relationships. What, we’re now asking ourselves, are those connections really all about? What makes them different from anything else out there? Why do we cling to myths and fairytales? Maybe I don’t want to know the answer to that one…

Despite my relative’s disavowal of The Former Guy, he’s still the de facto head of the GOP, still shaping its posture, still tainting whatever its values were. And as my chosen life coach John Pavlovitz wrote in September of this year…

“In this iteration of our nation, the elemental decency that should define human beings is no longer a universal requirement. The base-level expectations of those we live in community alongside simply do not exist anymore. There is no standard anymore.

For so many people here, it is no longer just about a sharing a difference of opinion on an issue or about voicing opposing political ideologies or even about the expression of personal or religious freedom—it is about inflicting as much pain as I can to people who I know nothing about and who have done me no direct wrong.

I’m not sure where we go from here, but I know that this version of America isn’t worthy of our or anyone’s children inheriting.

We’re going to need more good people becoming louder about what is and isn’t within the bounds of civilized society.

We’re going to need to name what is unacceptable and to demand decency and safety for all of us.

We’re going to need to collectively hold on to our souls or there will be nothing beautiful left to leave after we’re gone.

We have to do better.

We need to reverse the Trump Effect on America.”

And then made a golden idol of it.

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