Almost there…

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Peace. Quiet. Insulation from the bitter cold. Isolation from the bitter of any sort. These are welcome qualities embedded in The Day After, and with a steaming mug of Kim’s coffee in hand, parked in front of my space heater, eye on the frigid streets below, where absolutely nothing is happening at 9am… it’s an okay perspective, good for processing.

We did it, boys and girls. We’ve survived 2022 thus far, with enough optimism left over for contemplating yet another go ’round. Every new year, with its staggeringly-blank slate, presents an Offer We Can’t Refuse, so off we toddle like lemmings, eager to test the waters and prove the worth of all those valuable lessons we learned in past contests.

I have no idea what to expect from the year ahead, except that it will most likely play out in ways I could/would never program on my own. And it will undoubtedly be more of same in many ways, so the resulting balance/imbalance will be key as always. What will life look like as 2023 progresses?

In these days between Christmas and the New Year, we’re afforded an opportunity to think about that question in detail, should we be feeling especially brave and bold. How might things continue to change, for better or worse, since change itself is a given…

For me, 2022 was the year life actually did change big-time: I was provided a way to leave behind the nerve pain that had haunted the 50 years of my life just prior, thereby opening doors thought permanently closed to me. The effects are ongoing, with no reason to switch horses or alter plans, regardless of any setbacks, which are part of everything. A bad fall in October slowed me down but didn’t stop me, so we’re still bringing you our regularly-scheduled programming for the foreseeable future.

One thing humans are desperate for is restarts. “Let me try again. I can do better.” And more often than not, we do. I’m 100% for restarts and second chances and the grace to use them well, and I’m ready for lots more of that in the year ahead of us… grace, mercy, communication, comprehension. Connection.

This part of the calendar year is packed with holiday celebrations of every sort around the globe, with something in it for everyone. As we take a little time to wool-gather… reminisce… make a pin-cushion of our thoughts… I hope we’ll each gain a renewed sense of respect for each other and what it takes to coexist in the world. And work on doing just that…

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A gift from last Christmas…

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Finneas is a brother to Billie Eilish and has worked with her from the start of her career.

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

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Sail away…

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We could live aboard a ship

Hip to hip

And lip to lip

And if we ever lose our grip

We’ll go right back

To lip to lip

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And if our anchor doesn’t hold

If we drift and get too cold

If we falter, we won’t fold

We’ll go back to lip to lip

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If we sail for many days

Go too far and get too crazed

I will gladly spend my days

Sailing lip to lip

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Lip to lip

Lip to lip

On a big fat sailing ship

I would gladly spend my days

Sailing lip to lip

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Let’s get aboard a big fat ship

And we’ll go sailing lip to lip

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Composed by Kim Smith October 30, 2020 while attempting to achieve optimum weightlessness in the spa tub.

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On we go…

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One down in the string of winter holidays if we don’t count Halloween in our race to 2023. Turkey Day was nice. We skipped the turkey and went straight for our personal list of comfort foods… Kimmers and me, Rita and a friend. Easy to make, satisfying to eat. We raised a solemn toast to all those displaced from their homes and traditional lands so that we might enjoy the bounty of life, and thanked whatsoever gods there may be for the gifts.

Our unseen and much-maligned fellow travelers before us paved the way for the societies and civilizations we now take for granted… while they became invisible as a people. We did that. We disappeared them. I’ve been thinking since Thursday about what it means to be invisible, undetected by the world’s radar. My body has almost recovered from my fall in October, but my spirit will never forget the cool detached appraisal from that impeccable young woman as I lay there like a bug on the sidewalk. She made eye contact but never saw me, and went on her way without a second thought. That’s invisibility… when someone or something simply does not exist you’re under no obligation to give weight to it. I’ve tried several times over the past few days to wrestle a feeling into words, but I couldn’t get a handle on it until a story this morning spelled it out: A thing unseen never has to be dealt with.

So true. In a flurry of pre-New Year housekeeping a while back, I sat here and wrote down some honest thoughts, and then before I could change my mind I hit SEND. I did hear back from the person it was sent to, but nothing I said was addressed beyond “hello.” That’s invisibility and it feels like being canceled. I’m getting used to it out there in public… my white hair and wrinkles announce my lack of viability and visibility everywhere I go… but I’m not so familiar with it yet from people I once knew. Such a strange disorienting sensation, and one I apparently need to get used to sooner rather than later because it’s happening with startling regularity at this point. When you say or write something, attempting to keep life honest and real, and not even an echo comes back… do you still exist?

It’s the dilemma of every older person I’ve ever known. Am I still here? Does anybody see me? Does anyone give a flying fvck? Honest answer: No, the world does not care, get over it and fix it yourself. My inner voice, which becomes louder year by year, has been telling me to go where I’m celebrated, rather than stay where I’m merely tolerated, and I’m sure that’s a solution to keep in mind. I only know that if it costs you your peace, it’s too expensive.

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The world is so full of anger it keeps us off balance. I talked with someone yesterday who’s running primarily on anger fumes right now, and for good reason. We both know we can’t stay this rage-engaged forever, but sometimes it gets shit done from the inside out, where it matters most.

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We are saved by those who tell us the truth… those who come to us bearing gifts of love and grace and an easy transparency that says “I got you.”

Thankful. So thankful.

A special thank you to my husband as we embark on another cold winter, with its lack of sunlight and sometimes unfriendly weather. I’m forever grateful he knew what to do with the grubby old cardboard box full of broken pieces I brought him.

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You’ve always had the power, my dear…

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Have you ever taken note of the way, no matter how far out in the ether we get, life is standing by to provide gentle instruction or yank us into line? It’s uncanny how often I encounter that situation or bring it on myself without even trying.

And have you ever wondered what my blog title means? Twenty years ago I found myself playing for time, and the process has never stopped. Still playing, still breathing, always hoping for more time. And just as there are all kinds of ways to play… music, games, roles, gaslighting… there are myriad more ways to age. I consciously chose long ago to walk willingly into my last set of years and enjoy them in all the ways available, but I have companions who sometimes muck things up for me simply by doing what they do. Old, old companions like melancholy, self-doubt, and depression, whose lies complicate absolutely everything.

For instance, I preach that life is all about change. And then when something in my life changes, I tend to HATE it.

SPOILER: That can be a sign of encroaching crustiness. I’m discovering a list of other indicators, how’s your caffeine supply this morning? Fortified enough to visit my psyche for a minute?

Okay, so…

This blog spot has become more and more about the aging (maturing?) process, which is a no-brainer since I’m now considered an Old.

If you are not yet so designated, time will sooner or later provide you with the following knowledge, and you can save a little angst and hassle by preparing ahead of time:

  • We forget things. Not like appointments or where we left our car keys, but who we really are and how life works, by which I mean it isn’t about us. Very few people remember that we exist at this point… which is quite freeing now that I mention it.
  • The more years we live, the more personal loss we accumulate.
  • The more personal loss we accumulate, the greater our fear of abandonment.
  • The greater our fear of any kind, the more timid the soul.
  • Past the age of viability in the eyes of the greater world, everything becomes a test of one kind or another.
  • The knowledge that we’re failing some of those tests should not be considered a signal to sit down and give up.
  • We do well-meaning things that manage to accomplish the opposite of what we intended.

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I somehow turned into my grandma during these years of crisis and chaos… but did I DIE? Not yet, so there’s still time to learn a couple of things:

Lack of self-respect is self-abuse.

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No matter what it feels like…

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This thought helps restore me to myself this morning… and you can trust it too…

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Whatever gives your life just a little bit more peace… do that.

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Keeping things manageable…

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Up at 5am on a Saturday because it was time to crawl out, I guess. My brain leads a life that diverges from what shows, and it loves to think in quiet darkness while morning caffeine gradually permeates my person. Kim’s out trekking Mass Street from end to end, so it’s totally silent all up in here and conducive to slipping down rabbit trails.

Fall is memory season, with everything drawn in vivid color so as to really stick good, and events of a lifetime come at us in a rush. We’re simultaneously children, hormonal teens, the exhausted sandwich generation, and plain freaking old, so it all hits different and too fast for a healthy sifting. I end up feeling blindsided every year by the onslaught of memory and emotion, stretching back to my birth into a family clan. If I get to live as long as my grandmothers there’s a book I have to write… after everyone I’ve ever known is… you know, gone… but as the 3rd-oldest grandchild in the dynasty, I thought all of it was forever, and that the love, trust, and sense of belonging would always be there. That’s the child talking… the adult part of me knows nothing is forever. But oh, how we wanted it to be.

Relative to this morning’s musings, I think all death, human and otherwise, should take place in the fall. Winter’s too miserable, summer’s too hot, spring breaks your heart forever… so fall it is, everything finished and neatly tied up before the snow flies.

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I’d never really put this thought into words before, but when I read it, I knew that I knew, and that it was okay.

Therefore…

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We all do this, thereby hurting each other in lasting ways.

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There’s no way on this green earth to meet anyone’s standards but your own, so be kind, be goodhearted, and live your life.

Pollyanna says…

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We haven’t seen chaos like this in our lifetimes, making it hard to accept that it’s our turn in the barrel for a while. But history shows that this doesn’t last forever, so we can’t forget how to really live. Happy fall, happy sifting…

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Making way for the advents…

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It’s a magical world outside my windows this morning… leftover raindrops, kaleidoscope leaves, dogs happily taking their people for walks, dark blue skies carrying rain on down the line…

Fall seems like the ultimate dichotomy, with everything bursting out in glory just before the death and darkness of winter. But we can’t be fooled or depressed, the seeds of spring lie in silence and their time to shine always comes ’round again.

The autumn season is full of melancholy, even without the memories we attach to it, and then hot on its heels come The Holidays, DUN-da-da-DUN. For an oft-depressed introvert, Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day looms like a darkened maze to be navigated, but here I still stand, living and breathing, so it’s been survived before and will be again.

All of life, now, requires a certain level of preparedness, a considered mindset going in. The guardrails have mostly been obliterated from human interaction, leaving all of us to feel our way through the minefields and try to come out whole on the other side. The old traditional celebrations bring every feeling to the surface, all of it requiring patience and wisdom to deal with as it comes at us… and we aren’t always successful in that. And let’s face it, we weren’t that great at it in what we thought were the best of times, so a bit of self-kindness is called for since all the dynamics have changed.

The above is for my fellow introspective “feelers,” a miserable condition we share because we can’t help it. The Holidays will no doubt be as sweet and beautiful this year as always, and if any of it brings us angst we simply won’t tell anyone, no worries, The End.

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Fall, football, follies, and forays…

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Stopping in to say hi after a quintessential fall weekend which included pep rallies and parties, Jayhawk Football Homecoming, a snazzy flyover from the Air Force base, a big car show downtown, a PickleBall tournament on new courts, and perfect weather. The KU community is reveling in the fun of having an amazing football team for the first time in about fifteen years… brings new life to the town and gives the basketball team a little breathing space.

For me it was a reflective couple of days, enjoying the beautiful weather from the balcony, absorbing the vibes from a quiet remove, glad to know it’s all going on out there without my help. And yes, I’m still lazy no matter how good I feel. Sometimes when it’s all noise and action out there but quiet and peaceful in here, reflection leads to realization… and one such awakening has been that no matter how much we talk, generally only a small portion gets translated into comprehension. So… maybe… fewer words in every direction for maximum impact? Talking is a chore anyway, the older I get, I can do with less of it!

Bring it, I’ll deal.

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Ourselves. We have the power to change US. That implies great freedom… what if I were responsible for ONLY ME in terms of choice and control? It’s called reality and I’m loving it more and more. This isn’t my world, I just live in it, giving it my best shot on my way through, end of story.

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Because you’re faithful and patient, I save things to share with you. Enjoy…

Focal seizures make me have to sit or lie down wherever I am, so I relate… and animals are simply the best.

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I live in my own head so much it makes me questionable friend material… but I keep trying. Friends, family, other connections…

I fully relate to this.

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And on a related note, if you live anywhere near my world…

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What’s your favorite season and why is it fall?

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Wrote this yesterday before the day turned irresistibly beautiful… before we walked with friends to a restaurant new to all of us and spent a long lunch laughing and cementing friendship… up the street to Sylas & Maddy’s for ice cream… and a nice stroll home, talking all the way. The Muse tapped my shoulder about this post in the late afternoon, but by then I was far too comfy where I was…

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Favorite season? Fall, hands down for me, for all the reasons. In general, it isn’t too ANYthing… too wet/too dry, too windy/too still, too cold/too hot, just friendly, benign, middle-of-the-road weather while we brace for winter. And never have I been more conscious of the letting-go process fall embodies. The bell tolls, bring out your dead!

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Uncertain of our significance in the universe, we hang onto everything we encounter in life… we might NEED this experience, this memory, this bit of detritus we never really understood in the first place! And we do need some of those things, but not consciously. They’re all there, influencing everything we say and do, we don’t have to think about it constantly, none of it is going away. Short of a lobotomy, most of us will remember the significant moments in our lives, both good and bad, until death or the dreaded Oldtimer’s claims us. The goal is to no longer be predominantly shaped by the negatives we can’t entirely forget – life is genuinely not long enough for those memories to be left in charge… they rule from a bad motive and muck up things that would otherwise be perfectly beautiful for us, thus the need for fall housecleaning. It starts from a spiritual place.

Yesterday Kim and I took a drive through the countryside, which in Eastern Kansas this time of year is a requirement. The leaves are getting creative in their death throes, everything looks crisp and clean, crops are ready for harvest or soon will be… and there’s no sense of regret attached to any of it. Earth’s inhabitants respond to the seasons and behave accordingly, humans in ways that are hard to define. Autumn is the dying time so we tend to assign an extra portion of melancholy to its days and miss its true essence entirely… that death isn’t always a downer, sometimes it’s required. Industrious as we may be, the house isn’t clean if the stench of old death still permeates the walls… so really… why do we cling so tightly to things that once hurt us, made us question our right to be here, and still hold the power to ruin an entire day if we let them? I think that was rhetorical…

I love all the sweet, poignant, utterly lovely moments fall brings, leading to the kind of memories that save us in moments of uncertainty and that inescapable sense of being alone.

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If you find yourself overwhelmed by loneliness and questioning your place in the scheme of things, remember…

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Also, and this is very important to me…

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Pre-fall melancholy, but it’s okay…

Yesterday, Kim and I said in unison “It feels like fall,” and this morning we’re still in that mode. It was in the low 60s when I walked this morning, no breeze, sunny… and I was glad for my long-sleeved shirt. There are already dry leaves to scuff through here and there… how quickly that happens! This afternoon I’ll walk downtown for a haircut and feel just virtuous as all get-out… two walks in one day, omigod, can she DO that? This is likely why energy is rationed after a certain age… we get all scrappy about it and tend to overuse the privilege.

Yesterday too, I learned of the death of someone I knew in another lifetime… a classmate through grade and high school, a truly nice guy. In the ensuing years, there have been few reasons or opportunities for contact, so nearly all the connections have faded except for this: he was the first boy ever to kiss me. Fifth grade. And now at 75 he’s gone, one of several from my graduating class of fourteen. (I don’t mean 1914, thx, I can read your mind!)

I can’t recall the last funeral I went to, no idea whose it was. During the years I looked after my dad, I carted him to service after service as his contemporaries left for parts unknown, until he and I had each absorbed an astounding surplus of words without remembering a single one. Kim and John know I don’t want a funeral… and I’m not sure I can even sit through another one in my lifetime. Say it NOW, everybody, ALL of us. NOW is what we have, ALL we have, as far as we know. Anything said or done after we assume room temperature is wasted. Relationships, however, are not a waste… all respect to the past and the people we’ve known. Each one plays a part.

In every segment of life, we need a tribe, but also to remain secure within ourselves when we feel cut adrift and tribe-less. It’s a process every time, with parts excised and others adopted and owned. After you follow the bread crumbs down the path enough times it starts to feel less scary and more challenging, by which I mean exciting. Interesting, at the very least.

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Yes, Diary, me again…

Don’t know what’s up with Ms Muse these days but she will not stop with the subtle impulse to “write it down.” And as I verbalize that, I know it’s because I’m on the downhill slide to a finish line of sorts, set on fully owning myself before 75. Almost there, and mulling every year of it, just to be all milestone-y, although it would be fun to match my grandmothers’ records and stick around past 95 with my head still on straight. Seventy-five is no kind ‘a stopping place!

Kim and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary last month, and on nearly every Sunday morning of those years he’s made me a ranch bean omelet to die for. I’m still here though, having just consumed yet another exquisite offering that made my taste buds cry for happiness. On Saturdays it’s fried eggs and Kim Smith hashbrowns, on Sundays it’s the omelets… hundreds of each by now and never a chance of getting tired and jaded because it’s new all the time. He’s a trained institutional cook with a gift for making a meal for two taste like heaven, and I’ve really only bragged on breakfast. Everything he makes gets constantly upgraded as he goes along, so yeah, I’m a lucky girl and I have to stop talking about him now or he won’t want this going public. Let me just remind you, though, that he came to me precisely the way I ordered him: “I’m not getting married again, but if I did, he’d have to be younger than me and love to cook.” Be careful, little mouth, what you say, your heart just might know what you want.

When the world starts taking pieces of you from little on up, it becomes the seemingly small things that keep life worth doing. Beautiful walks, music that says what we can’t, people who love us enough to care for us, the grace to wake up and be us again for another day, year, decade, or more…

As an inveterate Pollyanna, I’m glad there are people who keep promises, who do everything in their power not to disappoint or hurt us, who are fully present. I think that’s what my invisible friend had in mind this morning… paying homage to the people who make life good. They don’t have to, it’s just who they are.

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**No one, including me, sees your name when you click a star rating, but it does make my day, so thx.

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Helpful, honest, happy family = amazing…

I’m sitting in my 4th-floor perch on a rainy Wednesday morning, observing the dog-walkers and the drizzled foliage while I savor the events of the past week. John booked a spur-of-the-moment flight to check in with the parental units, and his timing couldn’t have been more spot-on… we needed to see and celebrate with him. When he was here about this same time last year, life was feeling markedly unsettled for all of us including Auntie Rita… and much positive resolution has transpired since, so we toasted to every bit of it. On Sunday he treated us to a wonderful 18th wedding anniversary celebration at Basil Leaf… Italian food, wine, exquisite desserts, and the best company we could ever want, while we counted our blessings. Life remains good.

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Between the weather and timing, we managed a handful of walks… and the remainder of our waking hours were spent talking and eating, a true Midwest sojourn for Atlanta man. Tomorrow he’ll return to his oncology unit and we’ll resume our exercise routines in earnest, possibly skip a meal once in a while… and life will go on until we see each other again. The days since last Friday will keep my heart fed for some time to come…

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Until next time.

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The world delivers a load of stress to our doors every day. I’m glad real family, however we manage to come by those people, is there to help us handle it all and move on. I fiercely love and need my people.

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Living in harmony…

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the article accompanying the quotes:

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

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

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

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See interpretation below…

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

Raises hand. Looks closely.

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The trick is to keep moving…

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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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