Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Apologies

Yesterday was the first time since 2009 that I’ve forgotten to post my thoughts for your consideration. TBG and I are visiting FlapJilly and her parents and other grandparents and her cousins and, I must be honest and admit that I totally forgot to write to you.

Mea culpa.  Mea maxim culpa.

FlapJilly is all consuming, from  hide and seek that got Grandma in the coat closet with my legs stuck above the boots and umbrellas to stuffing her mouth full of delicious and gigantic grapes. She is delightful company, but the company is impossible to ignore. She’s charming and demanding and right  now she is refusing to go to sleep.

She’s overstimulated and overtired and overindulged by her maternal grandparental units, and, perhaps, we’ve aggravated the situation. There is a minuscule amount of guilt on our parts, we must admit. There is something delightfully decadent about making her happy.

Can you blame me for falling into her orbit and out of yours?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Apologies

There are apologies, and then there are apologies.

Mark Halperin, author, talking head, 52 year old Harvard graduate,  says that he understands from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize.  

I'm sorry for the women in his life if it took five others to bring to his attention that which they have been watching forever.  I'm bothered by the men in his life who watched and said nothing.  And I'm annoyed that time will pass and he'll be back after his mea culpas have been swallowed up by the next sexy story.  

Bush the Elder, former President, groped two women at a photo shoot.  His spokesman released this statement:
At age 93, President Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures. To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke — and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner. Some have seen it as innocent; others clearly view it as inappropriate. To anyone he has offended, President Bush apologizes most sincerely.
In her dotage, G'ma, who never told a blue joke in her life, began to leer at the young male aides at the Old Folks Home.  Her younger self would have been appalled.  That younger self was expert at the Oh dear not again, Daddoooooo eye roll, the same one Barbara Bush gave Heather Lind when she heard, once again, that bad joke, that unfunny joke, that reminder that her husband was just a little bit off.

Do I understand him because it's familiar or because I think it's generational?  I wonder if it's the reverse aging that comes toward the end, when your parents regress and become your children, replete with 3rd grade potty humor? 

I'm not sure why.  I believe the one, and I'm skeptical of the other. They were both wrong. Why I am willing to accept the sincerity in one case and not in the other remains a mystery.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Something in the Air - A Snippet

Joseph was kicking a sturdy red bucket.  They were determined kicks, fueled by the furious expression on his face.  He never came close to hitting anyone; his kicks were precise and focused.  He was looking for an escape valve for something that was boiling inside; the girls and I decided that he must have had a bad morning at home.

I'm a little off center myself, now that our President has declared Jeff Flake's take down a personal victory, now that no other Republicans have backed him up or disputed the President's story of his victory lap at lunch.  There's a Bannon backed candidate for his seat; the mainstream alternative seems to be my own personal Congresswoman, Martha McSally, who is a Rubber Stamp Republican, voting with the President 95.9% of the time even though Trump lost our District by 4.9%. 

I twist and turn and get no place.  I wonder if Joseph has a red bucket I could borrow.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Jeff Flake

I had another post planned for today, but evens go ahead of me and here I am, once again, bemoaning the sorry state of American politics.

Jeff Flake, my junior Senator, is trading in complicity for..... hmmmmm..... a run for the Presidency in 2020?  His remarks on the Senate floor are worth reading in full, but here are some of the pieces I liked the best:
I rise today with no small measure of regret. Regret, because of the state of our disunion, regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics, regret because of the indecency of our discourse, regret because of the coarseness of our leadership, regret for the compromise of our moral authority, and by our – all of our – complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs. It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.
Well, you don't hear that every day.

He called them all out for being complicit; it's every bit as powerful as SNL's Ivanka Trump perfume ad, and every bit as true.


My soon-to-be-former-Senator went on.
But we must never adjust to the present coarseness of our national dialogue – with the tone set at the top.
We must never regard as “normal” the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country - the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth or decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have all been elected to serve.
I wonder if he's been listening in to my dinner conversations over the past 10 months?  Petty.  Having nothing to do with .... the people (he's) elected to serve. He sounds like TBG and me, changing from the news because it's spoiling our digestion.

There's more. He's finally come to the point at which those of us who've been paying attention for a long time began:
With respect and humility, I must say that we have fooled ourselves for long enough that a pivot to governing is right around the corner, a return to civility and stability right behind it. We know better than that. By now, we all know better than that.
Yup, he is what he is and he's not going to change, neither sooner nor later.  This is a man who brags that he has never said I'm Sorry.  Such hubris is, as Sen. Flake goes on to say, quite dangerous:
When we remain silent and fail to act when we know that that silence and inaction is the wrong thing to do – because of political considerations, because we might make enemies, because we might alienate the base, because we might provoke a primary challenge, because ad infinitum, ad nauseam – when we succumb to those considerations in spite of what should be greater considerations and imperatives in defense of the institutions of our liberty, then we dishonor our principles and forsake our obligations. Those things are far more important than politics.
He is talking about the soul of not just the Republican Party but of the Republicans themselves.  They are so busy keeping their jobs they are forgetting to do their jobs.  
 Leadership knows where the buck stops. Humility helps. Character counts. Leadership does not knowingly encourage or feed ugly and debased appetites in us.
Leadership lives by the American creed: E Pluribus Unum. From many, one.
We were not made great as a country by indulging or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorying in the things which divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake. And we did not become the beacon of freedom in the darkest corners of the world by flouting our institutions and failing to understand just how hard-won and vulnerable they are. 
I still think he's wrong on guns.  I still think he's wrong on reproductive rights.  I still think his votes on Repeal and Replace were misguided.  I think that his book was the first shot and this is the second shot across the bow of I'm Running for President

Right now, though, I really don't care.  Right now he's standing in the well of the Senate decrying the desecration of our American values by the man in the Oval Office, a member of his own party, a demagogue with a Twitter feed.  Right now, that constitutes bravery.

I'm proud of him today.
 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

TEDx Sedona, 2017

The license for Sedona's TEDx project is held by a friend of Seret and Mr. DreamyCakes.  They were flying in from Chicago.  Sedona is a lovely drive from Tucson.  I missed my friends.  The decision to attend was an easy one.

It was a good decision.  There were allusions to avenues of thought I'd never considered before.  There was laughter and there was sorrow and there were gasps of surprise, of outrage, of disbelief.  The speakers were seated in the audience, were available at dinner before and lunch during and dinner afterwards.  They were out on the patio, wandering around, eager to engage the audience.  It was communal and stimulating and very, very real.

There were young women out to change the world.

Zoe Wild, a former Buddhist nun, a whirlwind, an unstoppable force for good in the world. entranced us with tales from the coast of Lesbos, where she and her team braved frigid waters and darkness and rocks to guide boats carrying refugees to shore.

Following their progress to the camp which would house them, she saw an opportunity where others saw despair.  Shifting the paradigm from crisis to progress, from charity to solidarity, she and her team took on the roles of city planners.  Why not create a big city, they wondered?  One Light Global built a community center, a school, gardens and gathering places.  Instead of disparate humans seeking shelter from a storm not of their own making, One Light Global looked at the residents as members of the community, as beings with skills they could share.  A tool sharing program soon created areas for small businesses to grow, for crafting sessions to develop into community support groups, for a sense of doing for themselves instead of being on the receiving end of charity.

Be bold and revolutionary with your participation to enact change

Deesha Dyer applied for a White House internship when President Obama was inaugurated.  She had to be a part of his team, even though she didn't have a college degree.  A full-time job followed the internship, along with her promise to finish her degree.

She did that and rose to become the White House Social Secretary.  Stunned by her own transformation, she resolved to share the wealth of knowledge and experience her opportunities has opened for her.  She and friends founded beGirl.World.  After two years of study together, 14 girls from Philadelphia traveled to Paris and London.

They traveled on passports secured with the help of beGirl.World, taking an airplane, not a rocket ship as someone had posited.  The notion of Europe was that distant to those girls.  They had never known anyone who traveled the world; that's for white girls, they said. After their experience abroad, the girls are going on to college, to the Peace Corps, and, they hope, back to places far and wide.

Again, it wasn't charity.  It was inclusion and sharing experiences and a conscious effort to make these girls citizens of the world.

Deesha made an interesting point:  You think nothing is wrong when everyone is the same.  Those girls didn't feel deprived; they knew no one who ventured overseas, who had a passport, who dreamed of climbing the Eiffel Tower (the real one, not the one in Las Vegas).  Without that opportunity, they really didn't know what they were missing.  Deesha showed them that it was out there, and attainable, too.

It was easy to feel good about the world after listening to what these two had to say.

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Short and Strident Rant

The executive editor of the New York Times calls outing Bill O'Reilly and Harvey Weinstein the newspaper's biggest stories of his tenure, the ones of which he is most proud.  I can't decide if I'm okay with that. 

Certainly, the stories needed to be told.  Convincing the accusers to speak publicly was a coup others had tried and failed to accomplish, according to Rachel Maddow.  But the New York Times published the Pentagon Papers, igniting all sorts of things .... the end of a war, the end of a Presidency. 

I'm not sure that men will stop behaving badly.

In the meantime, if I have to watch their female announcers wearing cocktail dresses cut down to here with hemlines up to there, then I want ESPN's male announcers to stand beside them in black leather pants, shirtless.  I'm looking for equal opportunity exploitation. 


Friday, October 20, 2017

I Made a Grown Man Cry

OFA asked me to shepherd a group to Congresswoman McSally's office this morning.  We were a small but vocal band of three retirees, each with a story to tell.  OFA does provide fact sheets with talking points; our voices amplified them with a personal point of view.

Bill talked about gun safety and DACA and his experiences in the field.  JannyLou talked about insuring a loved one with Type 1 Diabetes before and after the Affordable Care Act.  The Congresswoman's staffer nodded and sighed and took notes.  He was properly sympathetic and bemused by a system that forces long time partners to skip marriage in case health care costs should bankrupt their family.  He heard what they were saying. 

I asked him if he'd visited the Gabe Zimmerman room in Congress, the one dedicated to Gabby's staffer who was killed on January 8, 2011.  After all, Gabe was employed in the same capacity, meeting with constituents, before he was murdered by a Glock wielded  by a man even the United States Army didn't want to equip with a gun. 

By this point, his pen was down and his eyes were locked on mine.  I was on a roll.

Next time you're sitting next to your employer, my Congresswoman, ask her why she is not interested in keeping you safe.  If I were your mother, I'd call on your behalf.  I was sorry to shock him, but getting shot myself was pretty surprising; it can happen to anyone, anywhere, even in front of a Safeway on a sunny, Saturday morning.

He volunteered that he was driving the Congresswoman to an event this weekend.  He looked a little green around the gills as he said it.  I pressed on.

She's MY voice in Congress, and I don't think she is listening to me.  I told him about my op ed and her response on her telephone town hall and about my repeated, unsuccessful attempts to ask for an explanation.  I reiterated that her vote was a personal insult to her community, an insult exacerbated by the fact that her vote wasn't needed to pass the legislation.  She was tone deaf to her constituents, at least the ones who know me, or know of me, or of any of the others in our circle of horror.

We talked about the Venn Diagram of being-one-step-away-from-a-gun-violence-victim/survivor, about how many people are invited into the club no one wants to join each and every day.  We talked about Las Vegas.

And then we were back on insurance and the fact that I would have been uninsured and financially devastated had I been responsible for my medical bills before the ACA abolished lifetime caps and exclusions for pre-existing conditions.  He was aghast.  His face, already blanched from pea soup to vaguely nauseated, was white. 

Yes, uninsured after participating in democracy, with a 9 year old by my side.  Injured while being a good citizen, just as Gabe was killed while working to enhance my experience, at the side of an elected official.  Injured while waiting in line with those who didn't agree with Gabby at all, and were there to tell her so.  I told him that being scared to meet with people is not the way to make us feel heard, that shaking hands and paying attention would be a good start.

I paused, took a breath, and told him that I felt disconnected from ....

"YOUR representative," came out of his mouth, strangled by emotion. 

She may be one of 435, but she's my one.  She's all I've got and she's not hearing me.  Will you tell her, asked JannyLou? 

We all took a breath.  We shook hands, he took our picture (to be uploaded to the OFA site), and promised to pass along our comments.  As we left, his face had regained a rosy hue, though his eyes had the look as he bid me goodbye.  He definitely heard us.  Whether we can make a difference or not on the larger stage, I do not know, but today we made a small dent. 

After all, I bet he didn't go into work today thinking that his was a dangerous job.  I bet he goes home with a different mind set. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Smile

Forget Jeff Sessions rewriting history.
Forget Donald Trump and his $25,000 unfulfilled promise.
Forget the Cubbie's dismal hitting and Gordon Hayward's shattered ankle.

Instead, look at this face.
Aren't you smiling?


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Red Rocks

You have to ease into the vortex, even though it comes upon you rather suddenly.  One minute you're climbing through Coconino National Forest, filling your eyes with thick green conifers.  Then the road bends and this is there:
I was naughty.  I couldn't help myself.  I had no side-seat driver.
I took my own pictures while piloting thousands of pounds of metal.
Like I said, I couldn't help myself.
It helped that everyone else on the road at that moment was also slowing down to oohhhh and ahhhh.

The red is from iron ore.
Sometimes it's orange.
Some of the tops have been sheered off by glaciers
but most of the formations resemble sand castles, dribbled over time.
Parked in one of the many Scenic View pullouts, I found myself counting the layers.
I was looking at a picture of deep time, imagining ancient creatures crushed within the walls.  
Sedona does that to you.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

On Vacation - A Snippet

Three moms rented a house for themselves and those they love.  I drove from Sedona to Flagstaff one night to join them.

There were a lot of them and they were paying for the space so I came prepared to sleep on a couch, happy for their company.  I had my pillow and sleeping bag and a camping mat just in case all the couches were taken. 

Oh, no.  That was most certainly not happening. 

A not-very-happy-but-extremely-gracious young man gave up his bedroom.  The moms dismissed my protestations with that look you give your teenager when she is, unbelievably, stating an absurdity.  Each one of them would have slept on the floor before allowing me to do so, no matter how well equipped I happened to be.

And as I stood there, surrounded by their love and their caring, I felt old. 

I walked in with the enthusiasm of a college kid on a weekend adventure, couch surfing and hanging out in pj's with my friends.  They saw a grandma, someone they could and should cosset and treat with the courtesy due her cronehood. 

It was a moment, denizens.  It was a very interesting moment.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Re-Entry

I'm having issues. 

It was only 525 miles round trip, but the air was different and the company was different and I was, for a day or two, different, too.

Re-entry is jarring. 

I have dozens of emails; I'm ignoring them all.  The refrigerator is empty; I really don't care.  I walked around the backyard, watering and deadheading and reorganizing networks of vines, but the effort was desultory at best. 

I read Langston Hughes essays and tried to ignore the tv; I hadn't heard one all weekend.  I avoided all electronics, with one exception.  The Cubbies were invited into my cocoon, via phone apps. 

Tomorrow is a full day, and the week to follow even fuller.  Tonight, I'm going to pretend that I'm still on vacation.




Friday, October 13, 2017

On The Road

I'm taking myself on a mini-vacation.  People invited me, and I said yes. 

Seret and Mr. DreamyCakes, have flown to Sedona.  Amster and her girlfriends and their assorted relatives of all ages from a variety of relationships have rented a big house in Flagstaff.  They all wanted me.  I had no reason to say no.

Packing is making me smile.  This is an opportunity to wear my fall clothes.  I'm tossing a light jacket into the car.  I can wear my cowboy boots.  The problem is restricting myself to just enough; my inclination is to take everything (I've just mentally added another pair of cowboy boots).

I'll be gone for 50 hours; the planning has taken three times that. 

I'm printing out the driving directions just in case I lose my cell signal.  Somewhere I have a map; I'll be perusing my route tonight as I watch the Cubbies.  Since Lucy (myMapQuest voice who has a lot of 'splaining to do) has taken to muting herself for no reason at all, I want to be sure I know where I'm going before I get there. 

According to sedona.net, late September through mid-October is the best time to visit Sedona to see the fall leaves change color.  Watching the leaves turn behind FlapJilly as we Facetime is as close to a leaf peeping opportunity as I get. The drive up and back is an extra added bonus to a weekend with my friends.  

I have some new library books from which to choose, and a cornucopia of delights for my picnic lunch.  I'm bringing adult libations and games for all ages and my own pillow and blanket, just in case the kids have added more friends than the linen closet could support.  

I'm not responsible for anyone's happiness but my own.  I'm a guest among guests among people who are friends.  

I'm on the road.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

It's Starting

I had to chastise the salesclerk at the framing store - there were Christmas decorations on display.  It was October 1st.  They were tempting and pretty and completely unacceptable.  Fall had barely ended.  Halloween hadn't even come out of the closet.  What was the great rush?  Along with the assault in the stores, I am finding similar angst in my mailbox every day.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Center beguiles me with lined note pads.  St. Jude's had return address labels delivered.  A home for orphaned Lakota Sioux children has been sending me dream catchers for years; I'm waiting for its arrival in the usual over-sized, over-stuffed envelope full of cards with religious messages (a friend brings them to her church) and stickers and labels and larger pads than the doctors in New York City provide.

We had to move from California to stop Little Cuter's never ending gifts from the ASPCA. She sent them $1 when she was 8 or 9; they spent 50 times that on unsolicited calendars and posters alone.  At Christmas time, they were the beggars to match.

FlapJilly loves stickers; I have a drawer full of stick-able rectangles with flowers and stars and American flags, with angels and fishes and colorful houses, all abutting addresses which no longer belong to anyone I know or love.  We took Daddooooo's check book when he began paying for them; the more he paid, the more they sent. 

I'm sure there is research proving that direct mail works; otherwise they wouldn't send it.  Often, I prove it myself. 

Operation Homefront included a very cool 5x5 decal for my car's sun shield; I couldn't apply it without sending a small donation first.  They are on my list of regular charities, so I didn't feel as if I had been played..... even though I had been, certainly and definitely.  Guilt is a tremendous motivator.

Annoyance is not.  There are envelopes full of goodies which I store or give away without looking at the return address more than once.  I'm ignoring their intrusion into my home, feeling mildly perturbed that I'm keeping their stuff but remembering the lesson of the ASPCA and Daddooooo. 

These people cannot be encouraged.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

If You Give A Presser and Nobody Shows Up......

were the words really said at all?

We felt like that tree in the forest, falling to the ground, wondering if anyone was hearing the sound.  The local president of NOW, the leaders of LUCHA, the OFA usual suspects, and I were gathered in the courtyard of the YWCA yesterday morning, ready to present our words and our passion to the media assembled before us.  

Unfortunately, nobody came.

That didn't stop us.  We spoke, a video recording was made, photos were taken.  Uploading and sharing and registering the event took place on a variety of platforms.  It was all very 21st century.  It happened, even though no one was there to hear it.

For the record, here's what I said:

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
For what legitimate purpose does one need dozens of assault rifles? You can't buy large quantities of fertilizer without triggering an alert. You can't buy Sudafed without the purchase being recorded. An assault rifle is at least as dangerous as cold medicine.

Do you have them for defense? I've seen the police and the military up close and personal, armed and ready to protect me. Believe me, if the Marines want you, you are toast, and I don't care how many civilians with how many rounds of armor piercing ammo you have.

Armor Piercing Ammo. Are we really having this conversation?
Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

The Hearing Protection Act worries about the health and wellbeing of the shooters who, poor dears, are forced to wear ear muffs to protect themselves from the sounds of their sport. Protections in sports are well known – my son played lacrosse, I still have his pads. My daughter played soccer; the refs knocked on her shin guards before every game. Your sport has risks – buy the equipment to keep you safe.

And if you are loooking at your gun as a tool, then wear protective gear, just like a welder wears a mask.

The Capitol Police were not watching the game when they heard the shooting. They heard the shooting and came running. If there were suppressors on those guns I wonder how many more Republicans would have spent their summers in the hospital, alongside Congressman Scalise.

I get it. Who will make the list? I came of age during Nixon's Enemies List. I understand the fear. But, how about a list made by the Army? If the army disqualifies an individual because he does not have the mental stability to wield a weapon alongside others who are being trained to kill, then why shouldn't the rest of us be just as protected from this person as his squad mates? I asked Rep McSally this question in an op ed in the Arizona Daily Star several months ago; she called me a liar in her telephone town hall a few days later. She accused me of purveying misrepresentations and false statements. Well, Ms McSally, the only facts in the piece were your votes; the rest was my opinion that you have a special responsibility to this particular district, with our particular history, to represent us.......not to Rubber Stamp President Trump's agenda. 

We elected you. We want you to represent all of us.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Random Thoughts On Writing

Brenda Starr's great aunt kept a journal. Some of her writing is in English; much of it is in swirls and lines and dashes that her great niece described with delighted hand motions. The aunt was a legal secretary in the early 1900's, which meant she took shorthand.  Can any of you translate from steno pad to iPad?  There are stories in there, just waiting to unfold, if only we could read them.
*****
G'ma printed.  She claimed her cursive was unintelligible, and was no faster than her printing.  There was always trouble when I presented my first she was ill note from home to the teacher; it was obvious to everyone but my mother that printing was for children, not adults.  But comparing her hand printed notes to the chicken scratch that passed for communications from my father, I am very happy that she stuck to the legible.
*****
Mr. 12 is in the last cohort of students who was taught cursive writing.  I wonder how his successors in the upscale school district will sign a driver's license, a marriage license, a check.  How will they read  historical documents' elegant script?  How will they read their parents' diaries?  This is a worse predicament than Brenda Starr's steno pad personal history; this is akin to losing the fancy F - for - S and random spellings of the 18th century.  The originals will be inscrutable to my great grandchildren.  This makes me sad.
*****
My children wrote thank you notes, one sentence for each grade, on stationary of their own choosing.  My granddaughter sent us a thank you note after her third birthday, signed with her initial, written in her own hand with her own yellow crayon.  My heart nearly exploded.
*****
We weren't allowed to use pen and ink until the third grade.  Cartridge pens
http://www.penhero.com
were preferable to fountain pens, with their accompanying and quite spill-able bottles of ink.
https://tinyurl.com/yd79maoq

We could choose any color ink at all; turquoise, peacock blue, purple were my favorites at one time or another.  Only the teachers could use red ink.  Decades later, in Marin, when my kids were small, the teachers were encouraged to avoid the use of red pens so as not to offend the sensibilities of the little ones.  I sighed.
*****

Monday, October 9, 2017

All Those Stories

I fell asleep last night wondering where my grandmother purchased her groceries.  I knew her neighborhood; G'ma grew up in the house I visited as a grandchild. I remember taking the bus with my grandparents, riding the El with them, walking the neighborhood, but never buying toilet paper or oatmeal or tea bags.  I don't remember seeing a purveyor of those goods.

 At the delicatessen, around the corner on Linden Boulevard, the bell rang startlingly loud when you opened the door.  That didn't distract us from the pickle barrel and the giant wedges of french fries, the most delicious taste ever.  Brother and I, feeling quite adult, walked down 93rd Street all by ourselves.  We ordered at the counter and carried our bounty home, oil staining the small brown paper bags holding the fries.  Pride and grease were a delectable combination. 

dailyfoodandwine.com
The bakery a few doors down tempted me, too. 

Not with the breads and the rolls I'd usually covet, but with the tray of cherry topped, whipped cream covered, yellow cake and strawberry filled paper wrapped Charlotte Rousse.

I can still smell the combination of cold and sweet on the plastic spoon.  I ate while we walked back to Bubba and Zayde's six-flat; there was no way I could wait until we got to their front porch.

John's Bargain Store had wooden floors and long open tables with goodies priced just for Bubba and me.  We tried to get the most for our dollar, sometimes two dollars, always surprised with our treasures, enjoying the experience as much as the goods themselves.  

I see FlapJilly's delight as we drive into the Target parking lot.  She's happy to wander the aisles, feeling the so soft blankets and choosing her very own Wonder Woman , cleverly resting on the shelf just at her own eye level.  I've become my grandmother, even if I don't know where she bought her groceries. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

The End

I cannot live in this space forever.  I have to find a way to put the fear and the anger and the grey cloud back in the box at the back of my brain, the one so rudely wrenched open Monday night by another fool with a gun.

I found myself telling the story of That Day to two acquaintances at the gym today.  I can't remember the last time that happened.  We were all outraged.

It was strangely comforting to share; I forgot what it was like to be at the center of Tucson Love.  I've been traveling under the radar, ever since Little Cuter told me that she was doing the same.  It's harder for me now that I have a distinguishing physical characteristic (aka my limp), but unless I'm pressed for details I talk about a seriously unfortunate incident and leave it at that.

As my heart is mending, once again, my body is improving.  Structural Integration has reconfigured my body's relationship to gravity (at least that's what she says is happening).   TBG compliments my posture on a daily basis, and he's my fiercest critic.  He wants to see me scurrying; he loves every step I take on the road to a fluid gait.

So do I.

I've been looking outward all week.  My least favorite memories are brought front and center with every mention of the murderer in Las Vegas.  He deserves no air time. The Arizona Daily Star understands this; MSNBC does not.  I'm really disappointed in them, too.  I told Brian Williams that he shouldn't glorify the shooter just as TBG noted that he never used the kid's name.  Tell the stories of the doctors who had to walk past the dying to save those they could.  Talk about the first responders, those in uniform and the ad hoc volunteers, the ones who ran back into the fray.  I want to feel good about Americans; I don't want to focus on one evil man. 

I'm so angry about the media's priorities and I'm so sad about the stories of the dead and hearing about the heroes takes me right back to Nurse Nancy's hand on my bleeding thigh as she stared at my chest wound, telling me to worry about one problem at a time.  That, too, is strangely comforting.

And those are all really good thoughts, thoughts I am happy to welcome into my life once again, thoughts for which I will gladly make room in my brain.  I'm squishing the real-but-let's-not-dwell-on-them thoughts back into their corner..... as the migraine I'm breathing through will attest.

It's hard work to rearrange my personal space, but it's impossible for me to allow this killer to do it for me.  That is giving him more power than he has earned.





Thursday, October 5, 2017

Taking the Easy Way Out

I'm trying to put it back in its box in the back of my brain.  I'm not being very successful.

So, I am directing you to the Op Ed piece I wrote for our local paper, The Arizona Daily Star, which was published in today's paper.

I'll be back tomorrow, I hope.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

After Las Vegas

Little Cuter is angry.  She has tools to deal with the anger, but she doesn't like being in that place. The kid put wherever you go, whatever you do, always bring your own sunshine on her Senior Page.  She brings joy to everyone, everyplace, everywhere.  It's been a hard and gloomy week.

Big Cuter called several times yesterday, checking that his maternal unit wasn't tripping over her frown.  I want to make sure that this doesn't take anything else away from you, he said, remembering that since the shooting in Aurora TBG and I are reluctant to go to a movie theater.  I know how much you loved going to the movies; I don't want you to lose anything else.

TBG is disgusted.  Congress, the NRA, gun manufacturers, Trump.... he's grinding his teeth and trying to keep from exploding.  I've been the recipient of hugs and sideways glances and admonitions to take care of myself; he's right back there in the Emergency Room, waiting for word.  It's not a good place to be.

And I feel like I've fallen off a cliff.  I cannot get my head around so many dead, so many injured, so much blood and pain and suffering.  I'm imagining the broken field running over bodies, and my brain begins to fog.  What is usually safely ensconced in the back is now a full blown cloud, sneaking into every crevasse.  

I'm flummoxed.  I don't know what to do to make it stop.  I don't know what more I can say, how much louder I can scream, how many more letters and phone calls and emails and op eds I can create when it feels like I'm beating my head against the wall.

I don't understand why this is an argument. No one hunts with an automatic rifle, semi- or not. These are weapons of war.  The Las Vegas shooter was a terrorist. So was ours.  It's so obvious to me, how can anyone really disagree?

What can I do?  

I read for a while before I left for cards this afternoon.  An hour later, TBG woke me from a dead sleep on the couch.  I wasn't tired when I sat down; I think my brain just turned off.  It's nice to have an internal GFI switch when my soul is drowning.

And now I'm seeing the stories and I'm sobbing.  I could feel him get shot....... A sunny soul..... I'll miss him, I'm his mama.   

I'll be fine.  I know I will.  I just want to say that I am not enjoying the journey.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

I'm Spent

It's 24 hours after the massacre in Las Vegas.  

I can't write any more today; I couldn't wait to publish yesterday's second post, and now I'm empty.  

Tonight I'm going to try to sleep without dreaming.


Monday, October 2, 2017

A Second Post, Because It Has To Be Said

Little Cuter's text message.  TBG's words before I joined him on the couch.  Hockey Mom via Facebook.  I barely had the shades up and the sleep out of my eyes before I was shivering.

Don't watch the coverage.  Drive carefully.  Pay attention to the world around you today.  Don't forget to say I Love You.  Everyone has a suggestion.

Everytown's Survivor Network (can you believe that we need such a thing?) is there if I need them; they reminded me on Facebook and Gmail. Before I could revel in the pictures of FlapJilly's weekend with Maga and Papa I had to wrench myself back from the brink.

I think I'm fine, most of the time.  But right now I'm hearing sirens which haven't blared for nearly 7 years.  I'm holding the hand of a dying child, begging her not to leave me, watching the light go out of her eyes.  I'm on a Medevac helicopter and then I'm in and out of consciousness, asking for Christina, knowing that she's dead.

I don't want to know anything about the Vegas shooter.  I don't want to see his face or hear his name.  I want his memory to vanish from the face of the earth.

I want this and Sandy Hook and the Pulse and San Bernadino and Isla Verde and and and and...... I want them all to have a different ending, I want pink powderpuffs to come out of the muzzles of 9mm Glocks and AK47's, I want Congress to act.  I want people to realize that prayers are lovely but ultimately meaningless in the face of the next fool with a weapon.  I want action.  I want a change.

So, today, after I call my representatives to vent, I'll put on my orange SURVIVOR shirt.  I'll wear it to Mah Jhong, to Prince Elementary School, to the grocery store and to lunch.  I'll accept the stares and I'll hand out my little Moo cards from BlogHer'13, the ones with BE HEARD! on the front and Everytown and Americans for Responsible Solutions contact information on the back.

If I can do it, quivering and shivering and yet somehow standing tall, why can't you? 

Can you ask your prayerful neighbor to call Congress about the silencers bill?  Can you write a Letter to the Editor yourself?  Wonder where the political will to stand against overarming the populace has gone?  Do you have to look in the mirror to find the answer? 

I seem to have moved from angst to fury.  No one should have to live with what my family and I carry around, not Steve Scalise nor Connecticut kindergarten kids nor Vegas concert goers, not first responders in Tucson or hospital personnel in Salt Lake City, where many of the most recent victims were LifeLift-ed because the local hospitals were overwhelmed.

Think about that.  The hospitals couldn't care for the dead and dying. 

Something is seriously wrong. 

I'm going to put on my SURVIVOR shirt and go out and do something about it.

How about you?

Who Defines Me?

"Are you okay?"

I hear it every few days or so, when I wobble or lean or grab a chair back to steady myself as I stand up.  I'm much stronger than I used to be, but my actions often belie my inner sense of self.  I know that merely getting up from a chair onto two feet evenly supporting my weight is a major accomplishment; I congratulate myself (quite often) on achieving the upright position. I know that it's impressive. 

The naive observer does not share my confidence.  Without knowing my story, the kind woman at the table next to mine sees a grey haired, impaired, elder.... and she offers a smile and some help if I need it.  She sees me as broken.  I see myself as strong - strong enough to walk across a parking lot, strong enough to lift flats of water into and out of the Costco cart, strong enough to wander through the Lincoln Park Zoo with FlapJilly.  She watches me lurch across the restaurant to the cashier and doesn't know that once the synovial fluid starts moving I'll be striding out to my car with more fluidity than I had last week.  She sees the outside and constructs her own narrative.

Granted, observing my can be open to interpretation.  It's not great.  It's not perfect.  It's not what I want it to be.  But it is what it is.  I'm proud of the effort it took to get here, proud of the effort it took to develop a plan and stick to it.  The results will take time, but if I persist I believe that I will achieve success.  Maybe the success won't look beautiful to anyone else, but I will know that I've done what I can. 

I wonder if Colin Kaepernick feels the same way? 

Without knowing his story, without the experience of being stopped and frisked for no reason other than the color of my skin, without listening to the pain and the fear, without considering the emotional and intellectual effort it took to take a knee, the haters are hating.  Just by looking, they deduce intent.  They define what they are seeing from the outside, without considering what it took to get there.

Eric Reid, a 49'ers teammate, talked with Kaepernick.  They spoke to Nate Boyer, former Green Beret and NFL player.  They talked and they thought and they planned a statement, a respectful statement, a statement that was a respectful gesture....... (their) posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.

That's what it means. 

Just as my sister couldn't tell me not to wear my favorite flannel shirt because the vertical blue stripes on the white background looked like concentration camp garb and how could I possibly leave the house in an outfit that supported the Nazi's extermination of our family, outsiders cannot redefine the players' actions because it looks like disrespect. 

Your vantage point does not define me.


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