Consequences

When raising kids, or training dogs it is imperative they experience the consequences of their actions. Biting means isolation, stealing means restitution, isolation and a lecture. It is never fun to watch for bad behavior then give immediate consequences. There are usually dozens of things that also need to be done and then there is the fatigue.

I know any time I let something slide whether intentionally or not, things only got worse. Candy was hoarded and gorged before meals, another theft discovered, dog charged out the door at an even worse time and invariably I was more exhausted.

This month we have a toddler in chief who has not learned from verbal correction or attempted impeachment and still yells he is not responsible. The problem now is 3,000 or more are dying daily from an illness he didn’t want to deal with, the election did not go his way, he was thwarted in his attempt to overthrow Congress and refuses to understand how impeachment works and what it means. He has brought shame to the whole country but feels no personal consequences.

There are some who are adult enough to see we need to attend to the life threatening , the momentous things and feel too overwhelmed to give the immediate consequences, proposing to wait a while. They are elected adults but I doubt they have raised children. To keep peace, to grow responsible behavior, there must be swift, sure, impactful consequences to actions. Apparently even with geriatric toddlers.

Up in the air

Covid -19 infection rates are soaring across the country with hospitals concerned about being short of staff so “allowing ” nurses who test positive to continue to work. How this will affect their health, no one knows. How the hospitals wll survive economically, no one knows. How we move forward without 247,000 already dead? How long will the deathrate hold at 1,000 people a day across the country? What will happen to the people who had severe complications? Will more than a few have a second infection? How bad can it be the next time? Will the vaccines actually be safe?

And still, I hear from former friends that this is all a hoax, some sort of planned reset. Their concern is the economy, the nonessential job their kid lost, the inconvenience to travel and tradition. What I don’t understand is how it can be both a hoax and some sort of intricate plan. How can science be ignored because one doesn’t see a body they know? How can I make them understand when they see a well loved dead body, it will be too late for them?

the value of little things

Today I woke on sundried sheets with an odd feeling of optimism. It is the simple things that make us feel the best after horrible,very bad times. We certainly have had enough ,horrible ,very bad.

I see Joe Biden as the safety pin that floats around the bottom of my purse. It gets transferred each new purse, isn’t pretty, isn’t new but always moves forward and waits to serve.

This year a fool has gotten hold of our carefully knitted , intricately patterned democracy and dropped many stitches running them back many rows. It is a mess. It is discouraging. But when you catch the dropped stitches , put them on that safety pin and patiently work restoration with the crochet hook of unity, all can be restored. It all starts with stopping the destruction, holding the line. It isn’t easy, sexy and there are often twisted stitches that must be redone more than once.

It is easy to glibly destroy what was carefully wrought , tempered, grown into our democracy. Trashing something takes no skill, artistry. The horrible responsibility of stopping death, destruction is daunting enough but to repair amid the scrutiny of little minds with big mouths… I couldn’t do it.

Still I am grateful to Joe Biden for being the safety pin in this time of historic need.

Time keeps on slipping…

I fell into bed exhausted at 7pm. Woke at 11pm uneasy, sort of hungry and sticking my toe out of the covers it was licked by a very awake dog. Riley, awake and not monitored tends to make for disasters. After a bit I got up and did the dishes hoping hot water and productivity would soothe more than the cup of eggnog.

Riley made me take him out and hear the silence ,save for distant tires on the interstate, see twinkling stars and bright high moon through leaves falling silently only disturbed by a black cat bounding through. Somewhere there had been an electrical fire and the smell hangs in the warm humid night. The pigeon loft rouses with a chorus of cooing and settles back to sleep assured everything is ok. Big dog is snoring in the recliner despite my being awake, I have a feeling he will demand normal schedule be kept later in the day, no exception.

You tube movies only partially numb my brain. My heart is aching for my kids wondering if they are ok. Covid infection rates are going up as are hospitalizations and neither have health insurance but both have been drilled on good health practices all their lives. I wanted to make the world so good for them, just, safe, healthy, secure and the last week has shown it to be anything but. I feel like I should have been able to prevent, or stop some of it. Letters, calls, voting,research, personal action and we are still in a complicated, deadly mess where so many children are growing to be parents of hopelessness.

So like the clock on the wall, everything is cockeyed tonight. I can right the clock but not the times.

Broken but not useless

Many years ago I had a gorgeous Cambodian foster daughter. She taught me so much about resilience in a short time. Seek beauty even if it isn’t practical. Mistakes are not fatal but not trying is. There is always someone who has less, someone who needs you. Most importantly broken is not useless.

I had a one cup pyrex measuring cup, nearly new when she broke the handle off in some long forgotten way. I was mad. In my defense I was 25 and every penny hard won, I thought she was careless. She calmly pointed out it still worked perfectly and a potholder made it good for hot things. Immediately I felt foolish because ,of course, she was right.

Twenty-five years later that measuring cup just shattered into bits, finally worn out. I replaced it with a second hand 4 cup pyrex measuring cup with a chip on the rim. I chose this because again money is a huge issue but mostly to remind myself to accept imperfection. This has been increasingly hard the last few years as weakness, fatigue and loss of balance and endurance are my invisible chip. I realized recently that it is I who have deemed myself useless compared to what I used to do, what I wanted to do.

I can’t deny the strong resentment I have around these limitations. That will never melt into some peaceful acceptance. Frustration looks to be permanent but not crippling if I can fix just what must be fixed,even if in very small bits, break dreams into smaller parts, enjoy what I have knowing others have so very much less.

Find the beauty.

17 days til election day

So many countdowns in my head. And yet someone asked me why I fixate on integrity. I spent a good bit of time trying to figure how to convey how a concept, a trait can be the glue that holds you together, the guiding star you aspire towards. Couldn’t make a good elevator pitch but kept coming back to the point that integrity is part of you or it isn’t and I can’t change either position.

Three days til I find out the results of the last muscle biopsy and find out how I will live the rest of my life. What do I spend my money and energy on? Where do I go? How long do I have ?? Who can I count on, who needs to go one without me? Nothing important besides the core integrity of my life.

Seventeen days til election day and we find out who will represent our country and lead it back to health.

Thirtynine days until Thanksgiving day. The day when families used to gather to eat and visit while playing football or watching it. A day of ambivalence that has been cherished even while traveling frayed nerves and diets are forgotten. A day that launches the race to the next milestone of the year with a parade.

Sixtyeight days until Christmas. The day families used to gather and exchange gifts so everyone was in debt and puzzling what to do with the gifts they hate. Decorations turn every house and yard into something else… elegant or hideous in the eyes of the beholder who cruises through neighborhoods with kids to see the sights, hear carols, feel joy.

Seventyfive days til whoever survives this year can scream Happy New Year! A day of planning how to make the next year better, how we can be better people, a day of relief and rest for most.

But this year each milestone day is buried under the fear of illness, sadness of death, debt, insecurity, and isolation. Soul sucking, life protecting isolation, the hated necessary task of every person, every day. Too many of us know that the hard things of this year will not disappear quickly, traditional celebrations will be very different this year and perhaps for years to come.

The time is here now, decide who we are at the core, what we want to be moving forward so that no matter what we are living through when each of these days come we mark it with joy and hope.

Just a drink of cool,clear water

Taking things for granted is not something I did.  I  know how much of the world does without the most basic things like clean drinking water. Then in the course of 2 days I was put to the test .

They are doing work on my street , long, long overdue work. But this messed with the waterlines so boil order was issued. I was so grateful to get the notice as in TX they don’t give notice, the pressure just drops by half, or dirt comes through the lines and I boiled big pots while calling water company and hearing their surprised voices at the issue.

This reminded me how grateful  I am not to have arsenic contaminated water as in TX, lead as in Flint, MI, or whatever was in Grand Island NY.  I thought about all the people drawing spring, river water who don’t boil it , living and dying with waterborne illnesses. I thought about the rivers that are in danger of pollution from flooding in Michigan, coal ash seepage down the road, fracking in Oklahoma, field runoff all over, and I wanted to fight harder for clean water. Then I told myself, I am so lucky.

The next day, while drawing a big pot to boil,having the jug yet to fill for hand washing, the water stopped suddenly and completely. I went outside and asked the water company guy on site when I would have water back. I was met with a puzzled look as he said I had water. No was my reply. He pointed to the valve he’d shut and said that was all he had done. And it turned off my water was my reply. In minutes I had water back to fill all the vessels, get clothes started in the washer and it was off again.

I thought about the Indian Reservations where generations have lived without running water even to this day. I understood previously what inconvenience that must be but this day I felt the pressure of the inability to wash clothes or dishes, insecurity about how to make the water I had last since there was no place to go to get more. I thought about the Rohinga refugees living in tents, all about their lives uncertain including this basic thing. How is this possible in this world? And I was getting very tired physically and emotionally.

A few hours later I turned on the tap to see… brown water coming out and it wasn’t clearing. Put some in a jug and went out to the water guy noting the water was the exact same color as the dirt around the valve. He grimaced and said he could flush the main when the guys down the street got out of the way. OK.

I came back in remembering how people in Puerto Rico were collecting ground water after the hurricane, the bottled water sitting unused for a year on a tarmac. How in the midst of this pandemic many people all over the world are fighting illness, poverty, natural disasters and this brown water would be completely acceptable to them.

A few hours later, the truck had moved so I checked the water. It hissed, sprayed, thumped with the air in the pipes to every faucet and turned brown to beige to clear with steady pressure. The next day I got a text message saying boil order was now lifted and sighed while giving thanks.

Each day put some number of us closer to death, homelessness, food insecurity, lack of water, crushing depression, financial insolvency. The pressure of all these things makes a simple boil order feel so much more than it would have been a year ago.

It feels hopeless

Conflict and insult at every turn at every level is really wearing on me. I assume it is the same for everyone but don’t talk to people. Any conversation risks debate on my perceived white privilege, tRump, the reality of Covid-19, pushing through fatigue or some other thing that wears me out.

People on the autistic spectrum feel things though they seldom express it at the time. The more frustrated they become, the more they stuff the feelings they don’t know how to process. It can result in explosion or implosions and sometimes one right after the other. This time is a minefield for them.

As the mom of someone struggling with all the above while dealing with a muscle disease and stupid people across the alley, I feel overwhelmed.

Wholeness, integrity feels so foreign in every area of life, living is just a slog through  the impossible thorny thicket of time.

Living under this administration is like typing with a cat on your lap

IMG_20200730_123229643The cat on my lap is shoving her head into my left hand and intermittently whacking the keyboard with her paw. The result is not what I intend and she has made things happen I don’t know how to do, let alone undo. She is resolute my lap is where she will be and her claws are no match for this dress. I have the scabs to prove it.

All this also applies to 45 whom I having an increasingly hard time to think about without strong , explicit language.

In the last week 45 has said things that rival what a cat paw does on my keyboard: nonsense. He has stuck his ugly orange head where the experts should be howling like this 12 yo confused cat. 45 and his obnoxious sharpie  are interfering with testing, peaceful protests, data gathering in a pandemic and clear decision making for schools. His demands for attention and pettage have a time and place but this is not it.

Fortunately, the old cat is sensible enough to know when she should go curl up on the bed. Sadly, 45 does not have that sense, so we will struggle on with the wounds of jobs,health insurance loss, illness, death, uncertainty of weather encumbered by a yowling old orange thing who thinks everyone should love him.

45 has chosen his own adjectives, “sad” “disgrace”.

Say what?

The only difference is I am white and you are black. You yell that I don’t know anything about being black before you even know my name. You yell that I have always known privilege. You yell I have done nothing for the black community. You yell alot, even before the recent spates of deaths, but you don’t ask or more importantly listen.

In 4th grade Frank Campbell joined our school, he had such political sense at such a young age because of his father in NAACP. I know it wasn’t easy in that school at that time but he taught much. In 7th grade my teacher was Mr Walker, soft spoken,well read and I hung on his every word. My classmates were not kind and other teachers not supportive beyond Miss Dantone from Puerto Rico. The sixties were a time of World Book sorely out of date and only a main library downtown at the same time so much was moving ahead so fast.

In highschool, Billie came to school  on bus,wearing baggy overalls that quickly grew tight and she was increasingly tired, depressed. When I asked her if she wanted a boy or girl, she responded ” a puppy. She never came back to school and I never saw her again. Esther was thrown out of her family when she got pregnant. My mother refused to help. I saw her again sitting in the hospital lobby cradling  her crusty,dirty toddler as she told me her life was over at 16 married to the father in deep poverty. I had my father drive me around the red brick public housing complex surrounded by tired bare dirt and suspicious eyes.

In nursing school one student was not wanted as roommate but she seemed happy to be alone as she spent most time with her boyfriend.I was so busy dealing with hunger and bad roommates while trying to read. Turns out most students only read the required list, I read the whole list so had no time for bars and boyfriends. This is when I found Sociology and found more information that filled in gaps all these people left.

My first years of nursing I was drawn into a rut of incredible sameness of thoughts, plans, life experience. The only novelties were the Mormon couple who moved in downstairs, the neighbor across the street who was abandoned by her husband. She struggled in parenting, working and poverty. I am ashamed I didn’t do more to help her.

My first house was in a historic district in Milwaukee, solid, old, home. My neighbors were all homeowners having been there many years. Many retired or stay at home moms and kids fascinated I had no husband and got sun burned. We lived in harmony on porches complaining about bosses, weeds or snowplow sealing the drive  exactly as backing out  the freshly shoveled drives.  Marie told me about the huge magnolia that she brought from TX, how Juneteenth was a thing but told me not to miss the exhibits in the museum of black business in Milwaukee. She made sure I had a plate every holiday I had to work whether she cooked or went. I felt a part of all. Lisa and her family lived a few blocks over and worked with me and was a great nurse, mom but relied on her husband for good food. We had so many things to talk and laugh about. Flora was from Jamaica and she had such a belly laugh and stink eye that transcended her thick accent.

My patients in Milwaukee taught me about homelessness, shelters, domestic violence, drug use, prostitution and despair. I saw women who everyone gave up on, so eager for even one person to see their soul and affirm them saddled with kids they had no resources for. I saw southeast Asians prejudiced against  by all groups. I interacted with, cared for every shade of humans, advocated every way I could.  I loved when I saw patients months or years later and the progress they made and worried about the moms I sent home on city bus to go to homeless shelters.

Then alderman Michael Mc Gee starting saying he was going to purge the city of white people and drive by shoots increased. White friends shunned my house claiming I was in the ghetto. Plumbers, electricians called it the jungle and refused to work in our neighborhood. Suddenly it wasn’t safe for me to bike with my white baby in the trailer behind me or walk the dog at dusk. My neighbors were the same, my house was the same but Mc Gee was the commander of Black Panthers surrounded by armed men and no one had the courage to stand up  to him. He and his son didn’t want to hear, see or listen to  anyone who wasn’t exactly like him. I left Milwaukee.

Eventually I landed in TX. I got used to hearing Spanish and having things stolen. I never got used to black on black prejudice or the belief that I had no idea about anything because of my skin. I met incredible cowboys riding gorgeous pinto horses, ag students passionate about goats who actually saw my mind and heart. I saw the difference in caring, concern from one hospital to another. Coworkers who were great, some were real stinkers but wave upon wave of sick, depressed, poor, people living on the edge in front of us. Sociology wasn’t a thing there, people didn’t matter, just money and divides.

I refused to forget what I had in Milwaukee. I adopted a newborn from Chicago where even strangers saw me as only mom. Doors were opened, chairs offered, smiles given. When I got back to TX the verbal assaults started and continued. The anger I felt amplified when my 8 yo son was stepping in front of me and staring down black faces saying horrid things. I moved to the country, changed churches three times, finally changing religions. I argued down racist doctors, found ones that truly cared for my child and paid cash for care. We went to the beach, carribean festivals, rodeos, parks, libraries where many people were great.  The systemic corruption, racism I saw, experienced, endured,could and did fill a book

So now what was it you were saying?