Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I give up

I have been so caught up in politics and world events and the (seemingly hopeless) state of our nation, that I've found myself teetering back and forth on the brink of despair.

I have been making myself crazy trying to figure out how my usually cheery happy self could have ended up having such a sucky summer. Bottom line, when I get caught up in things I can't control and have no power to change, I get crazy. I made a career out of that with abused kids and abused kids redux (delinquents).

I'm not recommending denial as a way of life, but I am taking a respite from the several hours a day of currents events I've been dosing myself with and taking my focus closer to home. That being the case, I'm going to finish what I started a year ago, when I embarked on a journey to lose a whole boatload of weight. The weight came on in the process of taking care of my husband while he was ill. Then he got better and I was still . . . well, bigger would be kind.

Since I've been turning a blind eye and thus sleeping better, I've regained my enthusiasm for the gym and healthy eating. Feeling really ready to kick some ass or, at least, 60 or 70 pounds. . . . Come visit me as Big Ass Belle and thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Living without passion

After a morning spent with acquaintances, I find myself completely bored by people without passion. Living in the mid-ranges ~ what a waste. I want highs and lows, immoderate days, something new every day, to laugh a lot and to cry at least once in each 24 hours. I want to be intensely moved, to feel that crystalline peak of being alive and aware in this. precise. moment. of time.

"Maybe it's just in America, but it seems that if you're passionate about something, it freaks people out. You're considered bizarre or eccentric. To me, it just means you know who you are." Timothy Burton

Friday, August 11, 2006

Hillary rags on Cheney

New York Public Radio reported that Hillary Clinton took Dick Cheney to the woodshed over remarks he made at a Wednesday press conference this week concerning the Democrats and terrorism. Big Dick insists terrorists will be encouraged by Lieberman's loss in Connecticut, which loss indicates in the Mind of the Dick that Dems cannot protect the country from terrorists.

When asked about his comments, Miss Hillary stated "I don't take anything he says seriously anymore. I think that he has been a very counterproductive even destructive force in our country and I am very disheartened by the failure of leadership from the president and vice president." I love a mouthy broad. I don't want her to run for President, but I love her to pieces, cranky, in-your-face wench that she is.

Hot Fridays


August being what it is, especially this year, Mike and I have been luxuriating in having Fridays off. Mike has most days off, but I do try to put in at least 6-7 hours each day, Monday through Thursday. The execution of our plan to reduce our business to a manageable level has been a great success. Having a three day weekend every week is one of life's joys and on this hot day we snuggled up with the puppy and watched a Katherine Hepburn marathon, eating ribs and tabouli and laughing until we hurt. What a woman! And those 1930s clothes ~ mouthwatering. I would kill for those clothes, and it's nice to have a boyfriend too.


Judge lectures gunman on homosexuality

From the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, by way of the excellent Oklahoma blog Existential Ramble comes evidence of a fine and clear-thinking judge:

Detroit Judge David Allen, in sentencing Steven Williams, Jr. for shooting Salvagio Vonatti in January, made the following statement:

“It haunts this court, Mr. Williams, that you choose to harm someone so vulnerable. Like you [Mr. Vonatti] is a son, brother, uncle, cousin, friend and lover. He loved and was loved and was on this earth to be left alone in peace and happiness. Who and how he loved was none of your business and was no threat to you and the community… Let’s also get one other thing straight that came up in trial. Homosexuality is not a ‘lifestyle’ or ‘choice.’ Homosexuality is no different than the color of your eyes or hair; you come out of your mother’s womb with no choice in the matter. After all, would anyone in their right mind choose to be homosexual with predators like you shooting them in the head for being gay? Defining the issue as one of choice only makes it easier to hate, condemn and harm as you so illustrate.”

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Campaigning, Oklahoma style, redux

Okay, so I couldn't leave well enough alone when faced with the (silly) Joshua Jantz campaign in which he prays for God to "place a hedge of thorns around the district," among other things.

I just had to write him, mainly because I couldn't find his party affiliation anywhere and was honestly CONFUSED!!

My brief note:

What is your party registration? Why is there nothing on your website that tells me under what party you're running? Thanks, lynette

Sweet Joshua wrote back:

Hi Lynette,

Thank you for your email! I'm registered as a Republican, because that party's platform is more closely aligned with my belief system than other party platforms.

My party persuasion is not on our publications because I'm seeking to win a seat that is traditionally dominated by democrats. For many democrats, the term "republican" is a turn-off to them, and they won't bother to do further evaluation. Our goal is to give them an opportunity to evaluate me on the issues over party persuasion.

Let me know if you have further questions.

Thanks!
Joshua


I don't know, this smacks of hiding one's light under a barrel. Or a bushel, however that churchy saying goes. Is it honestly that young Joshua is hoping to win folks over with his "values" or is he running scared because it seems (hoping, hoping) that Republicans are facing serious challenges for dominance?

Off to write Joshua about his beliefs on women's rights, gay marriage, abortion, unions, the war in Iraq, right to work, oh, just a host of things.

War Criminal

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I want to be Matt

In keeping with today's glimmer (below) I want to be Matt. Love this.

Glimmer

glim·mer (glmr) n.
A dim or intermittent flicker or flash of light.
A faint manifestation or indication; a trace: a glimmer of understanding.


intr.v. glim·mered, glim·mer·ing, glim·mers
To emit a dim or intermittent light.
To appear faintly or indistinctly: Hope still glimmered in our minds.


Today I felt a glimmer of my old self. Despite the fact of it being 103 and despite having not been anywhere near the gym (sigh), I am feeling optimistic and content and even a bit joyful. Today it's a good life, just like it used to be. Yippee!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Campaigning, Oklahoma style

Courtesy of blogger Okiedoke comes the classic bit of Oklahoma absurdity below.

I can actually add nothing to it. But . . . well, it's irresistible, really. It's a campaign poster which asks, among other things, "for God to place a hedge of thorns around the district, & every voter within, that no evil influence prevails" . . . and "for unrighteous candidates to lose interest" . . . and "for the voters to elect righteous leaders."

That district is actually smack in the middle of Oklahoma City, our largest and ugliest metropolis (we have three, so it's not a huge contest). Hedge of thorns? Literally? Are we talking wild rose type thorns or rambling blackberry kinda thorns, don't throw me in the briar patch thorns? Literally thorns. As in the Bible should be read and acted upon literally?

This brings up something I've wondered about, though no great student of the Bible (Lutherans don't get into scripture much, that's more of a Baptist thang). But Leviticus is just full of rules for living: never touch pig skin, owning slaves is okay, as long as they're purchased from neighboring nations, avoiding contact with women experiencing menstrual uncleanliness. It just goes on and on. So is this cretin truly asking for a hedge of thorns? I don't doubt it, really I don't.

Click to enlarge for one of those Thank You Jesus! moments of intense gratitude that y'all don't live here.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

New love!

Oh. My. Goodness. I am flat out in love, lust, luscious, divine, dripping, wholehearted sweet-tart slurping love. I encountered the Red Star tomato this morning at the farmer's market and it is like nothing I've ever tasted.

Well, it's like a tomato, but ten times better than the best heirloom height-of-summer beefsteak. This tender bit of joy is petite and ruffled with a thin skin and the perfect combination of sweetness and tart tomato tang. It's like a giant tomato compacted into a near-cherry-sized little gem. All of the flavor compressed into a tender nugget 1/10th of the size of a standard.

I am off to get garlic and basil for bruschetta, having tomato sandwich with these sinful treats for lunch. As with all new loves, I can think of nothing else. It's incredible, really.

Keeping this for posterity so I won't lose track of it by the time February and Seed Day 2007 rolls around.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

My guilty pleasure

It's Project Runway. I'm hanging my head but it's the truth. It is absolutely fascinating. The personalities coupled with my history of having dreamed of being a designer ~ well, it's irresistable. Still freaked by Laura's bony chest. Still want her to cover that shit up. I do like her plain-spokenness, having a bit of that myself and appreciating another middle-aged broad who doesn't always talk nice. Love Michael, still rootin' for the home team since Kayne's "related" by way of my friend Leslie. Vincent is screaming for a diagnosis and some meds. In the final three, I'm holding out for Kayne, Michael, Robert. Best of show. How shallow am I? Okay, back to my time off.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Taking a break

Checking out until summer's over. Maybe, that's the plan, but my plans are always whimsical and subject to change in an instant.

Courage

David at the blog Someone in a Tree (link: http://usenderoy.blogspot.com/ ) wrote last weekend about courage and bravery, evident in the experience of a couple in Meade, Kansas who were being persecuted for flying a rainbow flag. He has an update this morning and it's beautiful. Please go and read and, if possible, support these folks with words or $$.

Light!

The light is different. I've noticed it the last several days coming through the stained glass windows in the living room. It has the quality of autumn, a slant and a softness, thank God. Though it is hotter than seems bearable still, the light is changing and the temperature will follow. More than the heat, it is the straight overhead blazing sun that makes me crazy. Six weeks after solstice and the sun is starting to lean. It's coming, my favorite season of all.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Barry and Audrey

In 1964, my mother, Audrey Pearl became absolutely rabid on the topic of Barry. Barry Goldwater was making his doomed run for president on the basis of what was considered at the time a far right wing agenda. Being 7 years old, I don't remember why Audrey was so adamant that Barry was the savior of this country, but I remember how deeply his failure to win the presidency affected her.

That was when my mother started experiencing depression, the first hint of her bipolar disorder which was marked by mood swings of astonishing intensity. I have to wonder if the loss of this campaign played into those other losses in her life: her mother died when she was two years old; she lived in a foster home with distant relatives; was victimized by a child molester of the worst kind; between my oldest sister and me, she had six stillborn baby boys, each of which she carried to the 7th or 8th month before they died. But Barry enlivened her that year, 1964. For Barry, she campaigned tirelessly, attended conventions, fundraisers, was relentless in her advocacy. When he lost, she lost something too: the sparkle in her eyes, the note of excitement and anticipation that had sounded in her voice that year.

I am now horrified by this because Goldwater was one of the most virulently conservative men to have ever seriously run for president. I can't reconcile what I think of far right wing nuts with what I think of my mother. They are callous, indifferent to the plight of regular folks, religious crackpots, greedy, corrupt, conscienceless. My mother was kind, loving, accepting, open of heart and mind, religious in the best way, smart and capable. So how could Audrey be seduced by Barry? What did he say, stand for, believe in that enchanted her, that won her heart and her mind? Here in the south, we generally plant our crazy people right on the front porch for all to see, but this, honestly, embarrasses me, my mother as this kind of conservative.

I am comforted somewhat in reading the Wikipedia entry on Goldwater. It seems there was a huge push in his campaign to vanquish communism, to protect from potential nuclear war. This was surely a response to the widespread fear in the '60s that the hateful commies were going to blow us to mist and the world would end in a horror of radiation poisoning and suffering. Audrey always urged me to take seriously the bomb drills we had weekly at First Lutheran. Those drills found us grade schoolers tucked up against each other like biscuits in a pan, hands clenched tightly over our necks, ready as we could ever be for the bombs to fall.

To say that it was a culture of fear is almost laughable; it was so much more than that. In that time, in that school, that religious community, the fear of communism was alive. We were constantly reminded by our teachers in morning devotions that they were coming and we must be strong in our faith. The worst among them, Stanton Hoffmeier, the cadaverous and frightening music teacher, assured us that the communists were on the way, that they would quiz children, especially, as to their religious leanings and that all Christians would be killed. His sadism was evident in his gleeful assurance that we would have to face the bayonet and admit to our Lutheranism, else we'd burn in hell for eternity. Immediate gutting or hell, but only after life as a slave to the Russians or worse, the Red Chinese.

That decade was frightening in so many ways: Vietnam, riots, cities burning, the Cold War, assassinations, more assassinations, pollution out of control, the fear of nuclear war. There was death and mayhem at every turn and it was overwhelming, but 1964 was just the beginning. If I felt this, though, in my relative innocence, perhaps my mother, even in 1964 and standing at the threshold of mental illness also felt overwhelmed and afraid. Maybe the strong voice of Barry Goldwater, assured as right wing nuts so often are, gave her comfort.

I wonder how she would have felt, had she stuck around, to know of my growing radicalism, my political activism in the '70s and '80s, of my dabbling in Marxism (she would have hated that, I know it), the feminism that transformed me. I think ~ I hope ~ she would have applauded, would have cheered me on, this brilliant, educated woman whose life was so tightly circumscribed by the expectations of women of her time, by her children, her traditional man, her place in society. I wish I could have known her as an adult. I wish I could have given her what Barry gave her for those brief months, and that it would have been enough. I wish she were here so I could ask her these questions. I wish for so much, for my mother.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

I take it back!

Every bad thing I've said about summer, it all vanished today as I hung over the railing of the back deck eating the ripest, juiciest peaches I've ever had. Six in a row, couldn't quit, juice running down my hands, wrists. Heaven in a fuzzy little skin.

Friday, July 28, 2006

When I was 13 years old

A high school boy named Ed started coming by the house. Ostensibly, he was there to see my sister's friend, Marcia, who practically lived with us. But after a month or so, he was coming by when he knew no one else was home. He'd see my sister and her friends out and about and he'd swing by the house where I was most often alone. He was cute ~ muscular, cocky, confident, a jock. He drank a lot ~ a lot ~ about a case of beer a day when he was 17 years old.

At first I thought the fact of my being alone was chance. His first visits were under the guise of seeing if Marcia was around, but he'd stay, drinking, staring at me, making desultory conversation and always staring. It was uncomfortable but exciting and I developed an enormous crush. My father was in the thick of courting his second wife and I was home alone every night til nearly midnight. I was truly an innocent, still recovering from my mother's vanishing act the year before and the subsequent destruction of my family as it once was. His visits and the strange attention distracted me from my grief.

A month or two after these late night visits began, they became sexual. Not on my part, his alone. The visits became frightening, ultimately violent. I grew terrified of him and dreaded his stopping by the house. Watching my sister and her friends open the back door when he was still a known visitor, he knew where the key to the house was kept in the garage. He came in even when I locked him out. I'd hide the key, he'd find it. I would flee the house, he'd chase me and tackle me in the neighbor's yard, rubbing his hard dick against me, grunting like an animal, biting, hitting. And still I had that crush, trying to believe it was something other than what it was. Always, I was filled with dread at the sound of his car on the street, the headlights in the driveway.

What I wanted, I think, was love and attention and something to fill the empty hole in my heart that opened up when my mother disappeared. I was thirteen and isolated in my sadness and grief, but not so much that I was not flattered by this high school jock's attentions. I wanted a boyfriend. What I got was an aggressive, threatening, violent ongoing attack that I felt powerless to stop. I tried to fight him off and, in fact, he never succeeded in actually raping me. But the assaults were chronic and vicious and shameful. Failing always to penetrate with his dick, he began to penetrate my psyche with hurtful words.

It lasted for two years, generally at least once a week, sometimes more often. He got to know my father's pattern and he knew my sister was always gone. I told no one. I couldn't. I felt responsible because on some level, I wanted the attention. I never wanted what I got, but I wanted something, some part of him. It stopped when my father got married and reoccupied the house with his new wife.

I sometimes wish I could go back to those early relationships and have a do over: do them again, the woman I am now, and fuck those men up. I would hurt Ed, hurt the son of a bitch. I would pistol whip Ross with my ever faithful .357. I would thumb out the eyes of that motherfucker who attacked me at 18. I could have justifiably blown away the cocksucker who kidnapped and assaulted me at 19 had I been armed then as I am now. I am not the weak, vulnerable little girl I once was.

I wish I could meet them over again, but of course it would be pointless. The attraction for predators is the vulnerability, the broken spirit, the hurt inside. Why hurt inspires them to hurt even more is beyond me. I have no use for men, for people, like that. I am not sure they deserve to live. It's animal behavior, attacking the weak, but we're supposed to be better than that. Once I became ready for them, strong in my core, in my heart, and well able to protect myself, to not lie down for another hurtful bastard, they quit coming. I'm locked and loaded now, a fighter to the core and they've all run away, cowards to a man.

Simplicity?

I don't know if it's possible for me, but it's definitely a dream. The first roadblock is my husband, sweet man, who wants to live surrounded by all of this stuff, so much stuff that we have to have a maid to keep it all neat and tidy. Our collecting was one of the many things we had in common upon meeting. Canes, eyecups, poison bottles, compasses, snuff bottles, art, antique furniture, quilts; the list is endless and overwhelms me to even consider.

If I had my way at this point in my life, I think I'd live with the most basic furnishings and as simply as possible. I could easily become a hermit and sort of an off-the-rails (crackpot?) on the issue of saving money. I want to collect money, not another telescope or pair of opera glasses. I hate to spend money, hate it, though I do it ~ a lot and with regularity. I have a warehouse full of bought and paid for antique furniture. Nothing would thrill me quite as much as liquidating the entire mess, then starting on the house. Selling it all off and converting to cash feels like freedom in my heart and soul.

As with most things in my life, I am deeply conflicted. I will not, cannot convince that man in the next room to go along with this. I think of moving out and living the way I want to live, with my husband as my boyfriend. This craving for freedom from stuff came upon my father a little later in his life ~ around 65. I am 49, but even though Daddy was a collector, he did not even begin to approach this level of (insane) acquisition.

It is so odd the way my views change over time. Ten years ago, I would have said that the urge to add treasures to my life was one that would never leave me. I envisioned a retirement full of long road trips searching for this beloved object or that one. Now I just want to shake it all off and get free, but I am trapped by love.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Random Thoughts

Of summer madness, I hope. I walked to my shop from lunch and nearly stepped on a mass of horrid buzzing cicadas in the grass. I heard them before I saw them. They were hideous and terrifying. I think they were fucking, but there were a lot of them, so I guess it was an orgy. I still get a big time case of the willies when I think of an old cat I had who jumped into my bed early one morning with one of those horrid creatures clenched in her teeth.

The happiest news is that I've now been to the gym twice. I am still trying to figure out how I lost that kickass energy and enthusiasm, and I'm hoping it is simply the summer blahs. I remember that I was there one Sunday, did three one hour classes in a row, then the elliptical and some weight routines. Got weak, light headed and then all of my motivation just evaporated. Two days, better than no days, but nowhere near my every day routine of three weeks ago.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Summer

My brain is baking, it's dry and hot, business sucks, I'm tired, don't want to work, can't sleep, can't stand to look at my crispy garden, the birds are wondering when I'm going to feed them, don't want to work out, don't want to spend money, I have nothing of interest in my head. It's summer.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Excuses v. Results

The excuse was that I singlehandedly unloaded a truck full of antique furniture. The results are that my ass is sore and my shoulders hurt. The fact is I did not go to the gym as planned, but got my ass kicked anyway by working like a stevedore for 12 hours straight. Gym tonight for certain.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Make Excuses or Make Results

Just called my trainer, the magnificent Monique of Physiques by Monique, to tell her I couldn't make my session tomorrow. Her cell phone carries the caution "Remember, you can make excuses or make results."

Alas, I have been making excuses to avoid the gym in the midst of my summer malaise. I will begin today making results. I will.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Sherman the Dog Woofs on Gay Marriage

The heat, the middle east, war everywhere and then this . . . Sherman the dog speaks out on gay marriage, gay penguins, gays who "change" by marrying the opposite sex. It's too hot for this shit.

http://www.family.org/cforum/sherman/

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Broken

Adrian died just after he turned 13 years old, running from the cops in a stolen rusted out beater that topped out at 30 miles an hour. Had he not run a red light, he'd have been captured, taken to detention, lived another day. As it was, he forged ahead, ran the light, hit a truck in the intersection, flipped the behemoth of a car, igniting it. He killed one woman in his carelessness; paralyzed another.

He was dead for three days before we figured it out. I knew he was missing, but he'd been missing before. It was not until reading the paper the morning of the third day that I recognized the description of the sweater I'd just purchased for him, the two dangling silver strings he wore in his left earlobe.

The police came to the office to show me a photo of his body. He was almost unrecognizable and yet there was that pale fuzz on his upper lip, the softness of his face, grotesquely battered and torn, not yet even approaching manhood. He still wore the earring and the green cable-knit sweater, now drenched with blood, jazzy vinyl V's across the front stiff and rust-colored. It was Adrian, this child I'd worked with for two years, the young man who repeatedly asked to live with me, knowing I was his parole officer and it was purely insane for him to believe he could outrun himself, his history, in my home.

Adrian got loose after returning to Tulsa in shame over a disastrous placement I'd made with an aunt and uncle. These people, generous and kind souls, were the parents of a severely disabled child of eight. No one else in Adrian's family would have him. The State of Oklahoma was out of ideas and there were too many nights I sat at the office calling shelter after shelter, one foster home after another, trying to find someplace for him to be, just one night.

Too many times, Adrian would smile and say "I'm going to the bathroom," then disappear down the stairwell, his way of giving me the gift of going home to my life, the home I love, the relationships with people who care for me, love me, stick by me. He loved me and thus Adrian, a child who grew up in squalor and filth and violence, who never had anyone stick by him, care for him, love him, allowed me to return to my brick cottage with the old trees, stained glass, oak floors, piled up feather beds with antique linens, the warmth and love and safety of my home. He returned "home" as well, often spending the nights on the cold vinyl couches in the ICU waiting room of a downtown hospital.

Too many of these nights and then the aunt and uncle, saviors of this unwanted, unloved, abused, now-delinquent child. A going-through-the-motions approval of the saviors' home, then approval yet again for them to move with their son and Adrian to New Mexico. I am not ashamed to admit that I felt relief in the placement and subsequent departure of this difficult young man. I was exhausted, angry with the ridiculously limited resources of my state, sad about his losses and grieving the severe and likely permanent emotional damage he had suffered. I was regretting that I allowed myself to love this boy. It was easier with him gone. I had other boys to care for, other children whose problems were not so entirely hopeless, so unrelenting.

Two months, three months, good progress reports and then a middle-of-the-night hysterical call at home from the aunt. Adrian must go: he had threatened their son, he had been forcing the boy to fellate him, threatening to kill the child if he told. Adrian, my 13 year old charge, now a sex offender by virtue of the age and handicap of his cousin. Adrian was humiliated by the return trip to Oklahoma. He refused to talk about what had happened in New Mexico, he was as angry as I'd ever seen him, and as sad.

A local shelter, having had a reprieve, gave him another shot. By virtue of his recent experiences, he had moved into the arena of Offender where compassion ceases to exist. Thirteen years old, now and forever after an Offender, a Perpetrator. Friday afternoon, I left him at this shelter 30 miles away with his promise that he would get through the weekend, no matter what. Sunday morning early, the call to come get him. He had smoked a cigarette in the bathroom of a movie theatre, an unpardonable transgression made more firmly so by my protests about the idiocy of depriving fragile, vulnerable delinquent kids of cigarettes. A two hour trip to gather him up and place him in yet another shelter where he lasted not even long enough for me to make it home. Sunday afternoon and he was gone and I would not see him alive again.

Adrian was the last child in a string of five that I buried in a period of 26 months. That abysmal record earned me the nickname "Death Row" among my sensitive and loving coworkers. Although I was one of four social workers in "South Central," home of the worst of the worst delinquents in the county, this sorry record was stunning and evidence of the profound problems of the children in my care. Evidence, too, of this state agency's habit of rewarding good work with absurd numbers of the most complex and difficult assignments. Slackers got 14 cases, I often had more than 30. Adrian's death was the impetus for my move from the back end of the kid business to the front, from juvenile parole to child welfare investigations.

Adrian's history was one of despicable abuse: drunken parents, sexually abusive father, a sister dead under suspicious circumstances, another sister permanently brain damaged from near drowning in a mop bucket full of water while mom and dad drank at the bar, yet another sister turned to prostitution at age 12. The intervention should have happened in infancy; thirteen was just too late for this child. Knowing his history I could not work up a rage over his abuse of his cousin, it just made me sad, agonizingly so.

People told me that God killed Adrian, as if that was a comfort. God killed him, they assured, to prevent his harming other children. God rescued countless others ~ future victims ~ by sweeping down and flipping Adrian's car. But if that's the case, what about those two women he hit? One dead, one paralyzed. What did God want to prevent them from doing? Were they sex offenders? Is it worth three lives to God to save others from the potential for sexual abuse? There's sure a lot of abuse happening in the world if that's the case. Does He need to rev up the executions, flip some more cars, paralyze some people? Has He lost the pace? If it was death administered by the hand of God to prevent suffering, was the eight-year-old not worth Adrian's life? Why didn't He run the bus to New Mexico into a ditch. Did God not care as much about the profoundly disabled eight-year-old?

Others said his death prevented his becoming a monster. It was his life, though, which made him a monster if indeed he was. His death just gave him relief from a world he did not understand, from the aching need within his heart and soul that drove his rage and despair and his violence. I don't excuse it, it's not mine to excuse. I think God needs to step up to the plate here and explain this one. Adrian was broken before I ever met him. His brokenness led him to harm others and that's untenable. It's been 12 years. I still think of this child and my heart hurts.

Speechless

I feel sick inside, a churning in my gut that has nothing to do with the 12 cookies I ate for relief and everything to do with the fact of seeing George Bush on the screen in a restaurant at noon. I closed the shop early and came home for a nap. I don't have the words to express the feeling. It's part fear, a goodly portion of anger, a sprinkle of disbelief and a big dose of helplessness. There is so much wrong with our government today. I tell myself it can't get much worse and the Pollyanna in me pipes up and says "it will all work out" but I think this sick feeling comes from a genuine fear that things will not work out. I am speechless and going back to bed.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Going mad

It was 105 degrees yesterday with a hot wind. The droning of the cicadas is driving me to madness. July 15 is the hump day of summer. August is a horror but the psychological lift of September 1 is just over the horizon and I know by then I can survive if I can just make it to August without roasting my brain. I pray for a cloud to hide this straight overhead sun, and no clouds come.

Monday, July 17, 2006

My first drag queen

Just 18, a small town girl transplanted to the big city of Houston, so innocent even in my wild child persona. I wanted to grow up! Experience life! Do sophisticated things! Grownup girls have manicures and pedicures and so I did. The guy was great and I was charmed by his effusive and dramatic personality: he was lively, funny as hell. He worked and worked on my virgin feet and schooled me on buffing my heels, keeping that up-pointing little toenail short, how to prevent foot pain when dancing all night in heels. I had a blast, my feet in his hands for hours, laughing 'til my sides hurt as he screeched upon finding yet another rough patch. He asked where I lived and hearing Montrose, asked if I might run him home. Of course!

"Wait outside," he cautioned, "I'll be out in a minute." I dutifully waited outside in my little brown Toyota, admiring my whore red toes as I propped them on the dash. I dozed a little and woke up annoyed because this ride was taking up too much time: it was Saturday and the night was filled with promise. I honked the horn and within moments a glamorous woman rushed out the door, slung her duffel over the seat and jumped into the front. In his precise baritone, James said "sorry! let's go!" and I experienced one of those moments in which it seems the world stops spinning. It was him, the pedicure guy, but it wasn't. It was him but she was beautiful. It was him and he invited me to her show and I was enchanted. My first drag queen, now dead of AIDS for over 20 years, handsome James, the luscious Miss Jenna. Such a loss.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Death on Pittsburg

Several years ago when I was still doing child abuse investigations and Mike was trying to die on me, I arrived home late after a particularly difficult day spent watching a tortured baby succumb to her injuries.

She was a tiny, ethereal thing only 5 months old, an amalgam of palest cream and red and purple, the combination of her fair and perfect skin and her hideous injuries. She lay in the pediatric ICU absolutely still, incapable of movement as the result of a fractured skull and a massive intracranial bleed, the pressure from which would have killed her if she had survived her ruptured liver.

She died at 4:30 that Friday afternoon. Her wounds were uncountable and included tiny pearl-like toes nearly bitten in two, contusions and bruises covering essentially every inch of her tiny body and, of course, the catastrophic internal injuries. Her mother had been "unable to revive her this time" ~ a direct quote I will never forget, implying as it does that there had been many other times.

It was the boyfriend who killed her "out of boredom" ~ another monstrous statement which I have tried and failed to extricate from my memory. His nightly antics with this fragile infant included throwing her across the room, swinging her around his head by one foot, one arm, biting her feet, toes, fingers, ears, suffocating her and reviving her, over and over and over. The thing that gave birth to this infant had found the baby unconscious upon several occasions after arriving home from work. A cold water bath had each time revived the little girl and for the sake of a twisted love ~ of the man, not of the child ~ she remained silent.

This was running around in my head, one of the most revolting episodes of child murder I ever encountered, when I pulled up and parked in my driveway at the end of this hideous day. Exiting my car, I noticed a pair of downy woodpeckers at the feeder. They were clearly companions, feeding each other suet and seeds, and I immediately decided they were in love which took my thoughts to my love, Michael, sick in bed and not getting better.

He and I have a history of comparing ourselves to birds: the mourning doves nesting on the windowsill one year, beautiful birds who mate for life, caring for one another with such solicitude, reminding us of ourselves. The swans at the lake across town ~ another pair, mating for life, constant companions, obviously devoted to each other. So these small black and white birds hanging out together, feeding each other, fluttering about and notably enjoying life reminded me of us at a better time when our life was enchanted, when happiness was a constant and joy a permanent resident in our home.

The birds took off as I approached the front door and I turned to watch their swooping low flight across Pittsburg Avenue. What a stunning thing, to be able to fly, and these two were graceful and lovely, virtually dancing through the air. One swung especially low and POW was smashed by a passing car. The car sped on and the companion bird fluttered to the street, standing by the still body on the concrete making a soft chirring sound, nudging his felled companion with his head.

I was sobbing so hard I could barely breathe and I stumbled up the stairs and into the house to tell Mike about the bird, to ask him to go and see if there was any hope for the stricken creature in the street. I could not do it, could not look at that small feathered body, and he could not either, being too sick and weak on that day to get out of bed.

I wept and prayed and raged at God and demanded to know how shit like this can happen. Yes, the birds, but even more so, the two of us. How can two people be so completely happy, so joyously content, doing good work, living a charmed life and POW out of nowhere comes the speeding car of devastating illness, laying one low and breaking the heart of the other.

This is the eternal question, I suppose, but the universality of it in no way diminished my own heartbreak nor my own fury over the unfairness of it all. All illness is unfair and I'm not one to whine about it as a rule, but watching my baby dying every day was intolerable. It was more than I could bear and I don't know how he survived or how I got through it. I don't know how people do these things and I will whack the next person who says "God doesn't give us more than we can handle," because I know that he's confused me with some strong bitch, some backbone-of-steel disciplined rigid unemotional wench who can handle this sort of thing because I can't. I can not.

And yet he survived and he thrives and I survived too. That is a gift and I am wholly grateful for it. Another day spent in a good life with my soul mate and now it's all beginning to seem like ancient history. There's laughter in this house again, much love and that extravagant joy that sweeps in out of nowhere and lifts up my heart.

I am standing on the restored floor of a life I once thought was completely solid and unbreakable. It's easy to think that when things are so perfect and there's so much love and passion and kindness and affection. The floor is good and strong again, but it has been broken through and will never be 100% and I will never quite relax into this life and this love as I once did. It's sad and it's life and it's okay. We had a spectacular 10 years of heaven and some folks never get any heaven on earth. It is okay.

Tomato Sandwich

One of summer's joys is the tomato sandwich. I think it's a southern thing and it certainly has its trashy overtones, made as it is with white bread and Miracle Whip. There's no substitute for either one: using the correct ingredients makes these orgasmic. The tendency is to substitute sour dough and a good quality mayonnaise ~ don't do it. It's just not the same.

Mike and I eat the first tomato off the vine in a celebratory bacon and tomato feast. He's a meat-eating boy and turns up his nose at tomato sandwiches. Except for the occasional salad, his tomato eating is confined to the monthly bacon and tomato feast, so the rest of the harvest from those 15 plants is mine.

The best tomato sandwich comes from a massive slicer and those don't come on for several weeks after production begins. I anxiously await the ripening of the first Whopper or Big Beef or Andrew Rayhart ~ any of the heirloom beefsteak babies.

I don dark glasses and scarf to skulk into the grocery to snag my Wonder bread and Whip. My mouth is already watering thinking of that big fat juicy red thing on the counter at home. Back at the house, I lay out the bread and give it a heavy coat of Miracle Whip. Next is a thick slice of tomato ~ 1/2" or more ~ and then salt. That's it, the perfect tomato sandwich.

It sounds like nutritional disaster and it probably is. But there is nothing else like that first bite of the summer: spongy bread, tangy Whip and that exquisite meaty sweet and tangy tomato. It is moan inducing and sloppy and juicy and about as good as life can get on a hot summer afternoon when the cicadas are droning and the humidity wraps me in a muffling blanket so thick I feel I'm going to suffocate. The tomato sandwich is a gift from God to help southerners survive the summer.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sugar

My sugar's had diabetes for last 5 years. No family history, just a messed-up middle including chronic pancreatitis, cirrhosis, enlarged spleen and some severe scarring and blockage of the ducts from the liver and pancreas. The only cure proffered by docs for chronic pancreatitis is to quit drinking. Same with cirrhosis. Only my baby doesn't drink.

Diabetes ~ it can be hell. He has been on insulin for about three years. As a strong, muscular, hard working man, he never ever in his life gave a thought to what he put in his mouth. The shock of actually having to think about what he's eating has been almost too much for him. Well, it has been too much for him because his average blood sugar readings were running between 240 and 270 until 6 weeks ago. He has frequent scary monitor flashing "HI HI HI HI HI" which means his blood glucose reading was over 500. I have been so frustrated and sympathetic and scared because I can't fix it and I know it's hard and going on this way would surely kill him. Blood like syrup doesn't help anyone and the long term chronic illnesses associated with out of control sugars are dreadful.

Our doc fought him on an insulin pump, saying he'd never manage it properly, skin could get infected, blah blah blah blah. But it wasn't getting any better. I pushed and pushed and finally got a referral. He's been on the pump for 6 weeks and his average reading during that time has been 90. His three month average ~ the Ha1C ~ was 6.5 or approximately 135. I imagine when he gets a clean three month average on the pump, it will drop to 5 or even less.

This is nothing short of a miracle. And he is so empowered by it. He reads labels, figures carbs and eats what he wants. His weight is steady at 172 and he punches his buttons and keep an average sugar of 90-100. I am sitting here in tears as I am writing this because I hadn't realized how absolutely terrified I was of the long term consequences of untreated diabetes. I think I had already accepted that he was going to become very, very ill again and then die. Lose his feet, kidneys, go blind. I know all of those things can still happen, but this gives me such hope. Thinking he might be around a while longer lets me admit how much I love this boy. My sweetheart, my sugar baby.

Idiots and liars

Only George Bush could manage to cast the 4th largest yearly US budget deficit in history as major progress. TV news is simply picking up and broadcasting that trickle down supply side economics has been a smashing success! Yes! It's working! And that makes me want to smash something. Like his head.

Net public debt during the Bush dictatorship has doubled and spending has risen by $1 trillion. One fucking trillion dollars. It just makes me want to cry. Whitehouse staff got a cost of living increase this year, as did the congress. Karl Rove, satan incarnate, got somewhere in the range of $3-4,000. Cost of living. It's a rare company that gives COL raises any longer and the minimum wage has been stagnant since 1996: no cost of living increase for the poorest Americans or most Americans, for that matter.

I would not be at all surprised if this entire issue turns out to be more lies propagated by Rove et al. Republicans have to maintain control of congress in the upcoming elections. The deficit is a huge issue for most people. Bush and company lied about Iraq and so many other things. I feel paranoid, crazy, but these are paranoid and crazy times. I think it's a lie.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Runway resumes

In keeping with my schizophrenic approach to life, while I am less than enchanted with popular culture, I adore Project Runway. And this year's contestants are marvelous!

Top on my list is, of course, the darling Kayne, one of our own and just a baby, hailing from Norman, OK where he designs pageant gowns. He's a friend of my office manager, Leslie, and Leslie's one of my dearest friends, so we're almost related. Plus, he's precious. Go Kayne!!

Laura scares me! And she's a southerner!! But geeeze, could she be any more New York fabulous now? Cover up that chest, girl! Kind of makes me feel all creepy cringey inside seeing all of that bare bony chest hanging out there. Put it away!

Jeffrey. Eeeewww. I've search the net trying to find out what this boy has written on his neck. Whatever it is, makes his neck look twice as big as his head and it's just not pretty. Big time willies from this lad. Go home soon, Jeffrey!

I am rooting for Vincent, as I'm for the underdog most of the time. Poor Vincent. I sense a nervous breakdown on the horizon and I liked his outfit with that basket hat.

The whole new crew is fascinating. I am living vicariously, imagining how lovely it would be to make pretty clothes all day. I wanted to be a fashion designer from my earliest memories. Loved to sketch, loved to sew, my Barbie was always clad in the latest of my designs until she became a topless dancer (when I pierced her prominent breasts with quilting pins to give her pasties). When I was 10, Barbie was attacked by a masked Ken, viciously raped and then tucked away in my closet to recuperate, thus ending my design career. Perhaps in my dotage, I'll design frisky clothes for old broads. Meanwhile, I'll just watch.

Oh fuck it

I give up, it's not even noon and I've been cussing like a sailor. I will now strive for acceptance of my almost lyrically profane native tongue being part of my charm: nasty-mouthed southern belle, ain't she precious?

I will do my part for a return to civility in other ways. I will, for one, refrain from flashing strangers my bare breasts. I will not moon anyone. Neither will I fornicate in public in the light of day (with the exception of my own back garden).

I'd like to drown Andrea Yates

Just for the pleasure of it, I'd like to hold her head under water, watch her struggle, fight for breath, see the terror in her eyes as her lungs filled with water. It's hard to believe she could have done that five times ~ five times ~ without coming to her senses. But no, one after another, she drowned her children. One dead baby, two dead babies, three ~ all lined up post-drowning. I can't even fathom the terror of the children remaining alive as she killed them one by one.

I don't really like kids. They require constant care and attention, they're noisy, often irritating, but mostly just work. I knew this about myself when I became pregnant at 16 and I have no children. I love them as an abstract concept and 5 minute visits are fine, but the day in, day out are of children overwhelms me.

Clearly it overwhelmed Andrea Yates as well. So why can't more people figure it out? Could she not have realized after one child? maybe two? that maybe she wasn't mother material? And how does one woman murder five children, one after another, without realizing what she's doing? It's inconceivable and so I think it must have been intentional and thus she is some kind of evil that I can't begin to understand. I have talked to too many parents who murdered their children and only one stands out in my mind as evil.

Similar to Yates, that woman held a blanket firmly over her two year old's mouth until she ceased to struggle, then took a leisurely shower, washed and dried her hair, checked the baby to find she was not breathing, then sauntered to a neighbor's house to call 911 and pretend she needed instruction to do CPR. This while the child had been dead for 30 minutes and after having had three separate verifiable CPR trainings. The 911 tape of that call literally made my hair stand up.

I understand rage, I understand losing one's temper, frustration, depression, feelings of despair. I understand all of that. I do not understand serial cold blooded murder of innocent and powerless creatures.

Relapse

Day 2 of my plan to clean up my potty mouth. The justification for my relapse (of course I can justify it!) is that I worked like a beast out in the heat all day unloading two trucks full of antique furniture. It was hotter than it's been all summer with enough humidity to feel like a damp blanket. It's mighty hard to be a prissy belle when you're sweating ~ sweating, not glowing or even perspiring ~ like a big old hairy man.

All was well until about 5:30 when a "fuck" slipped out. I caught it though and returned to proper language until . . . until my sister came by and we talked about my help problems and then it all came out, two days' worth of stopped up profanity gushed from my lips as if a dam had broken. I was powerless to stop it and so I am starting over. I must say there is a relief of pressure with that rupture of last evening and it was satisfying indeed to call a cocksucker a cocksucker. Sometimes nothing else will do, but since I fired the little cocksucker yesterday, perhaps I will have more success today. One day at a time.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Help a baby


Once I fell in love with Billy, I couldn't get enough of dogs. Pets and People http://www.petsandpeople.com/ out of Yukon, Oklahoma, does more rescues for its size than almost any other humane society. It's a grass-roots outfit with an exceptional record and a committed unpaid staff. It's really astonishing how much they accomplish and how devoted they are to successful placements. Potential adopters have to qualify and commit to providing a high quality home for the animal. Once an animal's been through Pets & People, it always has a home there even if the placement doesn't work out. It's exceptional.

Since I can't have any more animals in the house, I'm sponsoring a dog by sending $20 a month for food and such. It's a nice program for those who love animals but can't have one (or another).

Vash is my current adoptee and I'm hoping he'll find a home as several others have in the last year or two. Sweet boy.




Babies




Being childless by choice, I still find that there's a mothering instinct and it comes out with my animals. There are two ~ Billy the Jack Russell and Mo the tuxedo cat. Mo came to us on a cold winter night as a gangly 10 month old (or so). It was very cold for Oklahoma and he was meowing at the door, alerting my big old cats-of-the-time, Yellow and Gray that something was amiss. I gave him food and water on the front porch because the kings of the house would never tolerate an interloper.

Next morning, going to work, I saw the kitten hobbling up the driveway as I pulled out. He could barely walk. Stopped and picked him up and his feet were bloody. Going directly to the vet, the soon-to-be Mo began working his magic curling around my shoulders, purring in my ear. He was precious. I decided I'd get him fixed up and find him a home.

When the vet called to tell me that his paw pads had frozen and would need a week's worth of treatment, I had already been working to place him in a good home. Ensconced in the room recently vacated by the evil stepdaughter, Mo won Mike's heart in an instant. Amazing! Mike doesn't love cats like I do. He likes them, but has never had a bond with one until Mo and so we were a three cat home until Gray and Yellow died a few years later.

As cats go, he's one of the finest around and I love cats with a passion. He's gorgeous ~ black and white with pale Martha Stewart green eyes and the sweetest manner of any kitty I've ever had. He's a big boy, too, at around 18 pounds. He's not fat (well, maybe a little), but he's a big boned cat ~ tall, long, just a big ol' boy as we say (too often) down here.

At the moment, he's black and white and yellow, having nosed around in a bouquet of lilies from the garden, covering himself in that indestructible yellow pollen. He wakes me every morning, purring, stepping around the pillows. In his old age, more and more, he wants simply to be held. Cuddled into my arms, he settles in and purrs and gives me blinky eyes of contentment. Mo. My love.

And then there's Billy, responsible for my conversion from dog hater to dog lover. Billy is a bad little Jack Russell, 15 pounds of rascal, a precious little soul all wrapped up in a brown and white doggy suit. He saved my husband's life with a little help from me and a smidgen of input from some good doctors. I don't know that it's possible to love another living thing like I love this dog.

My pristine mouth

Made it through the day with only one slip ~ "shit," attached to bull, because a bull without shit is just impossible. Bullshit is going to be hard to give up, harder than fuck. It is so emphatic, such a perfect expression. It's a sentence in itself, the definitive end to absurd arguments.

I've cut my workers down to two days a week ~ they were not around yesterday, making the warehouse a peaceful and pleasant place to be. Today we're unloading a truck full of furniture so we shall see whether my newly pristine mouth can retain its sweetness.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Fuck!

I am going to try to give it up, my wickedly foul mouth. I am increasingly distressed by a loss of civility in daily discourse. Odd that I am so insistent upon proper manners, yet I curse like a sailor. I like the contrast between my belle persona and my nasty dirty mouth. It's fun to throw "cocksucker" into a conversation and fuck is quite simply the best expression of distress I know.

Foul language is said to be the last resort of those who are not smart enough to find other means to express themselves. I don't know about that, but I do know that there have been times in my life when no expression fits and so "motherfucker" or "son of a bitch" or "shit" is all that's left and the only thing to give relief.

Five years ago a six year old girl told me that her mother's boyfriend made her give him blowjobs every afternoon when she got home from school. In an effort to rescue that child, I visited the juvenile court with an affidavit for removal. A new judge ~ one motherfucking cocksucking evil bastard ~ refused to sign the affidavit because of some pissing contest he was in with the district court over how to interpret the statutes. While he puffed up his chest and measured the length of his dick, this child had to swallow a man's semen two more times.

I am a proper southern belle aside from the aforementioned ripe language, but the rage that filled me over this asswipe's political games led me to screaming in the lobby of the courthouse that the judge was a cocksucker and a motherfucker and every other miserable not-fit-to-live thing I could think of. That was wholly improper and certainly out of character, as I've generally been one to retain control of my emotions in most situations. But if fit and it came out and I don't regret it for a minute, even though I narrowly escaped jail and it still took another day to save that child.

I was always prone to an oath or two, but I truly became fluent in my native tongue of profanity when I became a social worker. Exposure to parole officers and cops and investigators set me free and I realized what I'd been missing. The satisfaction of an appropriately timed profane utterance is not to be missed. And I will miss it, if I can keep up my personal ban. We shall see.

I just want to do my part to make this world a better place to live where some things are off limits and should be. I never got a spanking in my life but I was slapped twice by my mother, once for saying "darn it" at the table when I was seven and another time for looking at the sun when I had measles. Maybe my mother was right. Probably she was.

Lies

Adolf Hitler once stated, "The great masses of the people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one." His minister of propaganda stated it this way:

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie.

"It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. "

— Joseph Goebbels, German Minister of Propaganda, 1933-1945

Our Congress is at it again, having recently failed to pass the permanent repeal of the estate tax, it's now been reintroduced and coupled with a bit of gravy for the timber industry. The tax benefits .04% of the wealthiest people in this country and, if repealed, will cost between $250 and $750 billion over the next 10 years.

At a time when the minimum wage has been stagnant for 10 years and our deficit is incomprehensible, this is pure insanity. It is a lie, just one more from an administration devoted to misleading the public.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Pretty man

Dropped by an AA meeting yesterday to pick up a little spirituality to go with the funk I've been lately. Instead of grieving over the fact that 5 out of 7 of my precious neices and nephews are right wing nutcases and believe Bill O'Reilly's lies and know that Fox News is the only reliable "neutral" source for information about the world, I figured I'd get out and be around folks who are dealing with the basic issues of life: be sober or drink, live or die.

It's a little meeting five miles from my house ~ the Original Group ~ and it's been around since the '50s. There were a few folks I know, but most were relatively new as is typical of this group on the wrong side of the tracks and with a reputation for attracting low-bottom drunks. Funny how self righteous recovering alcoholics will get and how that smug overconfidence can make one not want to be around the low-bottom folks, the dually addicted, the dually diagnosed, crazy and alcoholic.

I've never had that problem, I've always been attracted to the clubhouses of AA because it's where I "grew up," hitting 3-5 meetings a day for the first five years of my sobriety. Only place to get that kind of action is in a clubhouse, which is a meeting house that will attract lots of transient sobriety and low-bottom fresh-out-of-treatment or fresh-off-the-street cases.

The meeting was good and it picked me up. Reminded me that whatever I focus on grows in meaning and importance, that learning to let go is critical to my serenity, reminded me that living in peace and serenity really is magical and I can make it a goal to get there again if I take action.

But here's what really picked me up, flirty tramp that I am: a fine and lovely man named Louis. Loooouuuuuis of the sparkly eyes and white teeth and m-m-m-m-muscles so fabulous I could just bite them. Louis, Louis, a funny man, a flirty man, a really, really sexy man. It was fun flirting with my two old honeys, they're precious and so good for the ego. But Looooouuuis, honey pumpkin sweetheart darling. This beautiful man is smokin' hot.

Motivation wears many hats. For the moment, it is Louis who will lure me back to that meeting which will, eventually, reconnect me to my Higher Power and lift me out of this emotional cesspool I've been floundering in. I am, after all, a married woman and happily so most days. But we say in AA "it takes what it takes." We also say "nothing happens by mistake in God's world." So there it is. I figure He knows this flirty southern trampy thang and precisely what it takes to get her back to meetings. Louis works for me. Thanks God.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Chaka, Chaka, Chaka . . .

Girl, what were you thinking?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Plaster baby

There's a plaster baby strapped into my truck with the passenger side seat belt. He's part of a lamp much loved by Maxine.

I've spent three days with Maxine in the last week, a startling thing because I am selfish, so selfish with my limited free time. Last Friday, she and I set out to explore retirement centers. At 74, she finds her big house and immense lot a trial. She sits alone with memories of two husbands and a son, thinking of the son and daughter who rarely come to see her, the grandchildren who hardly seem to know she's alive. Her house is dark, owing to its eastern exposure and '70s construction leaving her short on windows to admit the sun. She is lonely. Sad. She has fallen three times in the last six weeks, all three times doing serious injury to her face, arms and legs. She's afraid.

I am afraid for her and I want her to be happy. I have often been angry with her in the past for her demands and neediness, for her transparent efforts to manipulate my ailing husband (he who will not be manipulated and who does not respond to her doses of guilt).

Of late, I've been thinking how it must be for her, having buried the love of her life three months shy of their 50th wedding anniversary; having suffered along with a depressed son, lived through three of his suicide attempts and a final success; having buried yet another husband within 18 months of the marriage; having a living son with multiple chronic illnesses and a daughter who has no time for her and rages at her when they're together.

So we set out on a rainy Friday I would have loved to have spent on my living room sofa, book in hand, watching the birds at the feeder, being at home. Our final visit late in the day to Town Village made me impatient. The manager's sloooooow voice and slooooower walk irritated me. My self centeredness and thoughtlessness is, at times, absolutely stunning. It was another day before I realized that her molasses-in-January manner was geared to the residents of the Village. They are old, slow, sometimes feeble, often confused. All I could think of was my own impatience, wish to get home, wish to be done with the day and get back to my life.

Maxine and I had dinner and a fine dinner it was and somewhere in the midst of filet and brussels sprouts I laid my impatience and irritation to rest. We talked honestly about the possibility of her moving. There was something in her manner, in her eyes ~ it makes me cry to write this ~ because there was something there that seemed so desperate for love, for companionship, for community, and along with that need there was hope. I don't know how it happened, but I fell in love with my mother-in-law after 14 years. I saw someone in her I've never seen before: tender, wounded, sad, but with a resilience unsuspected and with a longing to live the life she has left as fully as possible. Maybe I just got my self, my cursed selfishness, out of the way.

This is the second day this week I've spent moving Maxine, decorating Maxine's new home. comforting Maxine in her helplessness. I really did not know she was so fragile, but I am very strong and I've packed and moved and lifted and coaxed and encouraged and joked and loved her through this. We're not done, but we're close. Her one bedroom apartment ~ 20% of the space she had before ~ is charming. I sent her to dinner and flew into action unpacking, hanging pictures, rearranging furniture, making it feel like home. I've made emergency runs to the old house to retrieve panties, lest she get a "reputation" among her new friends. I've fretted about whether they'll engage her and befriend her and that worry has been set to rest. I feel like a mother. I haven't been so excited ~ or felt as good about ~ anything I've done in ages.

I can't wait to get back there tomorrow with a triple mahogany armoire from my warehouse, just the thing she needs to finish up her bedroom and hang all of her church dresses just so. David, at Someone in a Tree recently wrote about the joy of doing for others. It is so simple and yet he is right on in saying that unexpectedly helping another leaves him "Genuinely break-into-a-goofy-grin happy. Sometimes . . . even a little teary-eyed." Me too.

I know this. I learned it at my mother's knee, in church, and I relearned it in Alcoholics Anonymous and I learn it and learn it and learn it. I have had my head so far up my ass of late and have been so far gone into thinking of myself and my needs and what's lacking in my life and my world that I've missed out on the simple soul-nourishing joy of helping another with no thought of return.

So I have a plaster baby strapped into my pickup. He's headed to Maxine's tomorrow, along with the mahogany armoire and more mountain pictures, remembrances of her 50 year love, a Wyoming cowboy. And I am happy, more so than I've been in a while. I can't fix the world, I can't fix my own Daddy's dementia, I can't solve my work problems, but I can help Maxine.

Smackdown

The Emperor of the United States of America has been reminded by the Supreme Court that he is, in fact, simply a President. No doubt the true Axis of Evil, Bush-Cheney-Rove, will work feverishly to find a way around the Supreme Court ruling that it is not okay to simply confine people without due process, without representation, without charges, just because. Nevertheless, for the moment, the Emperor is exposed and I pray for the continued health of the ancient Justice John Paul Stevens.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Insanity

Is it the heat? Or genetics? My mood swings are disturbing. Summer has never been fun for me, and the hot, dry Oklahoma landscape with straight overhead glaring sun nearly drives me mad. I wear sunglasses until 9:00 p.m. when there is finally a respite from the light. When the heat comes with a hot, hard wind, as it will in late July, August, I can see why women on the prairies walked 15 miles to find a cottonwood from which to hang themselves.

But we're not on the prairie. We're in lush and beautiful Green Country, land of lakes, trees, rolling hills, rivers.

So maybe it's genetics. My mother went mad in her late '40s. Officially bipolar disorder, my creative, brilliant, magnificent, educated mother reached a point where she was either catatonic for days or rising at 3:00 a.m. to dance and sing and express her thrill (mania) in being alive. That sort of thing ~ mental illness ~ was politely ignored in her social set and she refused meds and worsened over time. And then she vanished. Christmas of 1969 she walked out of the house and hasn't been seen or heard from since. Oldest missing persons case in this state.

I have thought of vanishing myself. Of late, I think of the freedom of simply driving away, recreating myself in some small town, working as a waitress in a coffee shop, perhaps. My natural motherly instincts, so wasted on the boys in my shop, could be released and come to full flower and the reward would be tips! I call folks honey, baby, sweetie, cupcake on a daily basis anyway. It's my nature. I could do it for money, I could.

After a day of pouring coffee and slinging hash, charming all comers with my sweet self, I could retire to my little room in, perhaps, an old Victorian four-square. Simply furnished ~ a twin iron bed, rag rug, rocking chair, lots of light. Me. My books. No television. Peace.

Would I miss this life? I look at my sweet husband, asleep in his ancient oak bed, tucked into the antique linens, puppy at his side. I would miss him. I would really miss the puppy. Is it madness looming, or just summer?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Is there any way to stop this madness?

Our government is obsessing about flag burning today. Our people and "their" people are dying in Iraq right this minute. This country's spending is out of control and Republicans are forging ahead with an estate tax cut to benefit 5100 of the richest Americans. We are taking big steps toward turning this democracy into a dictatorship. Republicans are refraining from approving another 25 years for the Voting Rights Act. The assaults on our freedom and privacy are increasing and the economic insanity perpetrated by this administration is of historic proportions.

I love our flag. I am a patriot. I can still recite the Pledge of Allegiance as I did every single day of my grade school years. I get chills when I hear the Star Spangled Banner. I know all of the words.

I think this obsession with flag burning is, as we say down here, flat out insane. Pointless. It's a red herring when we are faced with so many serious life and death issues. It's Monday and I'm pissed again.