Friday, April 28, 2017

Non-Apology Apologies

How's this for manipulation:
 I  will take all this blame for your horrible life, if you just please try and realize... that I never meant any harm on you guys.

Trust that the facts are not in her favor, that you guys are teenagers, and that she started it.  Yes, the grown up's feelings were hurt and she went for the jugular. And then she defended it, and herself. You guys saw through it and called her on it, not with any hope that she would listen, but to speak up, with love and admiration, for themselves and the other objects of her scorn.  Watching resilient kids discover their power is both heartbreaking and exhilarating.  That's the only silver lining I can find in the whole sordid mess.    

The grown-up is making deals, is demeaning the pain, is seeking forgiveness.  She's the definition of a tricky person."

Have you seen the story about the kids who saved themselves from a child abduction? They recognized that the man asking for their help was a tricky person.... because grown-ups don't ask kids for help.  

"I'll take the blame if" is not accepting responsibility.  

It's her reality that matters, not theirs, since she never meant any harm. Taking the blame does nothing.  Blame and Responsibility are separate and unequal rungs on the ladder of Whose Fault Is It, Anyway?  Of course she will be blamed; she was the grown up and you guys were little children.  Could she be implying that somehow you guys were to blame?  I never met the woman.  I really don't know.

This is only one sentence.  The entire diatribe would make for an interesting case study; every sentence is rich with irony and pain.  I'm choosing to be happy, so I'm leaving the story with you. I'm going out to fertilize my flowers, the way good parents nourish their children, with just the right amount of good food and fine music and intelligent conversation, even though it's hot and I'm tired and I still have to cook dinner.  I'm putting their needs before my own, because that's a good foundation for parenting little ones and, most of the time, bigger ones, too.

I'm glad you guys have found safety and security and love and good food and fine music and intelligent conversation.  I'm leaving the nastiness right here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

More Books

Another installment of What Ashleigh's Been Reading, aka Playing Catch Up.  I hope there are a few items which pique your interest, too.  Be sure to comment (anytime, on any post) if you've read the same things.

What You Break- Reed Farrel Coleman lives on Long Island and writes about Long Island and the characters could have lived next door to me.  There is nuance and there is anguish and there is just plain rage.  It's one of the best police stories I've read in a long time.

Eleven Little Piggies- The woman can write.  Strong women and a love of the land are front and center in this surprisingly touching mystery. 

Kept Woman- Karin Slaughter really loves her characters, and so do I.  This is a series which should be read from the start; if you've done that, you know just how wonderful their stories are.

Heartbreak Hotel- Jonathan is my favorite Kellerman.  The psychiatrist and the detective and the crime are the focus, and the client is sui generis.

Humans, Bow Down - James Patterson and Emily Raymond with Jill Dembowski; illustrations by Alexander Ovchinnikov.  YA at its best doesn't pander. This Robots Gone Wild dystopian fantasy was a great way to spend an afternoon.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Music Trivia

Lady Jane has taken up temporary residence in a brand new place, recuperating from 8 very long and painful days in the hospital.  She doesn't need daily physical therapy, she doesn't need oxygen ,nor does she need help with her medications.  She is too weak to do much walking and talking; cooking and cleaning are out of the question for the immediate future.  A sociable person, she'd wither on the vine if she were home, alone, using all her energy to struggle to the door to welcome visitors.

The Case Manager at the hospital wanted her to go to a Skilled Nursing Facility to receive treatment; this would be covered by Medicare.  But Lady Jane knew that her PT needs would resolve once she was mobile.  She didn't need daily treatment, she needed to get up and get moving.  The Case Manager reminded her, rather sternly, that Medicare would not pay for the kind of place we were describing.  Imperiously and appropriately, Lady Jane said she would pay her own way.

"I can't travel anymore.  This can be my vacation." 

And she's using it just that way.  I found her in settled in her room in a comfy, padded armchair, reading by the open patio door. A gentle breeze, the cooing mourning doves, the color returned to her previously ashen cheeks - we were a happy twosome.  The facility is brand new; she couldn't arrive until they ordered a bed and dresser.  The hot water heater had issues and so have a few of the meals, but the salads we ate the first evening were scrumptious and filling and the staff is willing and courteous and she has no complaints.

She has no complaints.  That says it all for me.  I'm helping her coordinate her care, so I have a semi-professional interest in the outcome, but mostly I like her a lot and I want her to feel safe and comfortable. We were congratulating ourselves on planning this part of her life so brilliantly when Raul knocked and was granted admission.

Raul, a bearded, nattily attired, Hispanic man with a deep Southern accent, is the Community Life Director.... although it took us a moment or two to decipher exactly what he was saying.  Please don't tell me that immigration is only a border issue; wherever he learned his English, it came with a drawl as thick as Lady Jane's Carolina roots.

Once we figured out the where and the what, my friend politely declined his offer to escort her to this afternoon's activities: a community meeting with the Ombudsman from the Pima Council on Aging (the County watchdog agency) and, right afterwards, a Music from the '30's and '40's Trivia Contest.

Raul paused, smiled, and reluctantly shared the fact that nobody else was interested in Trivia, either.  They've only been there a few days, and they, like the building itself, are still settling in, working out the kinks, discovering how their days will go.  For most of the residents, this is their new home.  They will have plenty of time to explore.

Lady Jane, meanwhile, will rest comfortably in her chair, her tablet and her telephone and her book close at hand. (Well, her book was close at hand until she decided not to finish it.  More on that in a future post.)  She's awaiting the arrival of a desk, so that she can be more organized, but, in general, she's doing exactly what she should be doing after a lengthy and debilitating hospitalization - nothing.

Her only job is to heal.  I'll bring her a nightlight and pick up her prescription and bring her something yummy if dinners don't improve soon, and she'll sit on her chair, icing her aching arm, admiring her snazzy, new, fire-engine red walker, as her body readjusts.

It's a rest home.  And yes, it is exactly as comfortable as it sounds.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Bump! The Third Installment

Apparently, what you see is not always what you get.  That's the mantra I'm repeating to myself as I try to come to terms with these words from the body shop guy: If you'd been rear-ended again, you'd have been in big trouble.  You really shouldn't be driving your car like this.
It's been a busy week since the damage was done;  I finally found time to visit the body shop this afternoon.  They are lovely, snarky, funny folks, so his serious tone required serious attention.  we went out to The Uv, he lifted the carpeting in the trunk, and I gasped.

The floor pan is bend.  Smushed.  Crumpled.  Crushed.  There's really nothing left of the car's structural integrity.  A tiny bump would have done me in.

A quick call to the other driver's insurance company secured me a bright red Hyundai Elantra from Enterprise, which did, indeed, pick me up and got me on my way with a minimum of fuss and bother.  I drove back to the body shop, unloaded my stuff, got groceries for dinner and came home, mildly peeved because I left the garage door opener in The Uv.  

There's nothing awful about any of it.  I see that as my fingers type the words.  But I was grumpy and grumbly and was unfit company for anyone.  I soaked in the pool and I swam a lap or two, and I walked a few, and I bent and pressed and pulsed and floated and gradually the yucks soaked away.  

Most of them, anyway.  The space where I placed the memory of the bump! the sound the adrenaline the loss of control, gone in a second but always ready for a comeback performance..... PTSD, the gift that keeps on giving.  It's only a fender, albeit a $6000 fender. I avoided the dire consequences.  It's a beautiful, hot, breezy, sunny Tucson afternoon and the trees are showing off their newly pruned selves in yellow abundance.  

I don't need to be sad; it accomplishes nothing.  I notice these emotions as intruders into my world more readily than I have before, and that's major progress.  I have all sorts of strategies to move beyond the threat and into safety, and they work very well, thank you for asking. I just wish I didn't have to use them at all.  

Really, I just wish that none of it had ever happened.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Earth Day

First published on April 21, 2009, a kinder, gentler time, for sure.

I like Earth Day. I was there at its creation, after all.

It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970. Initially, it was a touchy-feely alternative to the harsher realities of the anti-Vietnam War protests.

You wanted to do something, but war was such an uncomfortable subject and arguing against it made your parents wonder why they were spending tuition dollars while you were telling the lawfully elected President of the United States of America that you knew more than he did. With your picture in the crowd on the front page of the NY Times. At 18 years of age, no less.

But planting trees? Recycling newspaper? Not littering? And all this in service to Mother Earth. Who could be aggravated about supporting Mother Earth?

Earth Day had teach-in's. They were more fun than sit-in's, which invariably involved police and disciplinary action. They were less fun than be-in's, which owed more to Timothy Leary and The Grateful Dead than to anything political or practical. Teach-in's were earnest and had hand-outs and statistics and pictures of desolate landscapes ravaged by the cruelty of man. There was science and legislation and outrage and lots of tree give-aways.

Earth Day had no mandatory family gatherings. It required no gift giving, no card sending. You went outside and did something - cleaned a playground, weeded a median strip, planted one of those free trees. You felt good because you were doing good.

Now there is Earth Week and "We're greener than you are"is the new corporate mantra. Were this still 1970, there would be protests about the idea being "co-opted by the man". Instead, Sheryl Crow is designing re-useable grocery bags for Whole Foods and WallyWorld is selling them next to the discounted paper towels.

And Mother Earth is grateful.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Surgeons - A Snippet

"You have to really trust a man who takes power tools to your head,"  is the quote on the front page of today's Arizona Daily Star.

TBG and I smiled as he suggested that I tell you about Daddooooo and the brain surgeon.

We hoped that whatever was removed would also remove the most noxious pieces of my Dad's personality.  I thought of posing that to the surgeon on the morning of the operation, but I was stopped in my tracks by the piece of tissue paper stuck to the doctor's cheek.

He'd cut himself shaving.

Re-read that quote.

Brother and I could do nothing but try not to laugh.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Death of the Shopping Mall, One Store at a Time

Macy's is leaving the Tucson Mall.  They're not relocating.  They're just leaving.

The Container Store opened a brand new outward facing store a few years back, and Toby Keith dedicated a barbeque and music destination around the same time.  Now Keith's is gone, and so are two other restaurants which followed.

Sears is still there, though, and it was near there that I entered this afternoon, bent on replenshing TBG's dwindling (okay, empty) stack of chocolates with a pound of See's.

At least, that was the plan.  I was surprised that the store's website told me that it was closed when I Googled it on Easter Sunday; I assumed it was for the holiday.  But, no, that was optimistic.  In fact, after I parked the Uv and dragged my still-aching body across the parking lot and past the Hallmark and the Red Robin, I found that the store was, indeed closed - closed for good.

There's white butcher paper covering the windows, there's an open rear entrance providing a glimpse into a storage area filled with empty shelves and pedestal trays, and there's a sign on the door:
Store Closed.  Sorry for the Inconvenience.
I accepted their apology.  It wasn't much comfort for TBG's chocolate lust, though.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Not-Kathy and her cousin were my partners in crime this afternoon, and they bore the full brunt of walking as rehab.  We met outside the Pilates studio after my one-on-one hour; I was warmed up and ready to go.  The sun was low in the sky and a slight breeze was blowing as we strode across the parking lot and onto The Loop, Tucson's 131 mile multi-use path linking our city to its surrounding communities and major waterways.
Yes, we do have waterways.  They are dry, horse and hiker friendly washes for most of the year.  During monsoon, though, it's a different story.  All the debris dumped upstream comes roaring on snow-melt-cum-rain fueled waves; people stand on the overpasses to watch as rusted out vehicles follow sofas downstream.
Downhill, following the Rillito River (yes, we recognize the redundancy) as it passes beneath Campbell, then uphill, which is much easier.  We chatted and gave advice and kept up a decent pace. I concentrated on using my newly discovered thigh musculature to propel me forward.  I thought about keeping my shoulders in a toaster slot (a Pilates image) and holding myself up from my abs.  I made sure to use my entire foot - heel, ball, toe - as I tried to put equal pressure on each side.

It sounds more exhausting than it is.  It makes me smile.  I'm proud of it all, because 6 years ago I couldn't do any of it.  Two years ago, getting to the path would have been a milestone. Today, we three walked about a mile and a half, and I lived to tell the tale.

This is the part that gets me.  This is when I start to whine, most often to myself, although if there's a good friend nearby, she's often a witness to my angst.  We stopped to hug and make plans for tomorrow and then I pretended to move.  The mind was willing but the flesh was weak. I lumbered, I galumphed, I limped, I whimpered and, somehow, I got myself into the driver's seat.  I would have been furious if I'd had the energy.

I hurt.  Everywhere.

Everywhere but my heart and soul.  I took a walk this afternoon with the girls.  That makes me smile.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Bump! A Follow Up Report

The Uv's insurance claim was registered, but no action had been taken.  

When the phone rang at 5:30 the next morning I flashed to G'ma (Nope, she's dead. Yes, it's raw; it was 5:30 in the morning, people!) Who else?  My adrenaline, already stoked from the fender bender, was aluminum in the back of my throat before I said Hello.

"Ma'am, this is Maria from Erie Insurance calling about your claim number......"

"Do you know that it is 5:30 in the morning here?"

"Oh. No. I am So Sorry. I'll call back."

"Will you?" I wondered, and I hung up the phone.

We connected later, the company is taking full responsibility, I can go to my preferred repair shop, they'll get me an Enterprise loaner car, the appraiser will meet me and write the check on the spot, and yes, I was sure that I was feeling fine.

PTSD, the gift that keeps on giving.  I was fine as far as the claim is concerned.  The rest of me, the part that goes a little nutty and has a hard time finding its way back to center, that part is still a work in progress.


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