Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Year Sixty Four

If you add six and four you get ten. Ten in numerology is a really great number. In the Tarot the ten of cups and the ten of pentacles are both really great. The ten of swords and rods are a bit problematic but they have to do with the completion of ideas. I'm not all that into numerology or Tarot but I do like when things add up. This feels like ten year.
I moved to the Hood and turned sixty, which felt auspicious. This feels like the top of a really hard climb. Now I can sit still and look around. Who knows? Maybe there's a longer tougher climb ahead but for the moment ... I'm just gonna sit here.
I don't have much going on about the age thing. I'm fine being the age I am. I don't like how hard it is to keep my body together. I can take nothing for granted. Drink too much? I might fall down and it's way harder to get back up. If I get sick I get really bleepin sick. If I get tired I get zonked. It takes a sort of hyper vigilance to feel good. I took a lot of chances in my youth and I liked feeling that wild.
Eh. That was then.
I have recently begun thinking I'm almost seventy. It's not true. It's just the way my mind works.
For so many years I drove myself crazy on my birthday. And I'm a little crazy today. Just a little. I'm going to swim. I'm going to get a massage. Mandy made me a cake.
So.
Sixty Four.
Let's see how it goes.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Year Four

It's hard for me to remember what happened when. At some point the mommie stopped wanting to come to the nest. She was just too afraid. I started spending the weekends with her. Her fear got worse as the dementia deepened. I spent more and more time with her and less and less time in the nest.
And then she was gone.
There were things in the nest that were accommodations for her. Chairs. Furniture arrangements. All of that has changed. I have freedom but it doesn't feel free. The nest was technically hers and now it's mine. I am endlessly grateful.
I used to sit in my bedroom and stare into the library and just be happy about the fact of it. We turned the library into a little hospital room for the mommie and I wondered if it was going to change my feeling for the room. It deepened the feeling. All of the meaning making in the all of the books pales in light of that experience. That little room held us for that terrible time.
I still doubt that I'll fill all the shelves with books but right now it looks like they are full. If you move a chair you see the empty shelves and the messy shelves but the chairs hide all that. It looks lovely and I sink into it.
I'm still ambivalent about the Hood. I like some things but I find it shallow and ohsowhite. I just learned that Oregon began with a Constitution banning black people. How did I end up living in a state that began with a Constitution banning black people?
We did have our first annual Pride parade this year. It felt really small town and really sweet. It's a beautiful town in a beautiful state. I love watching the way the colors change with the seasons. I have a few very dear friends. I just don't feel part of much.
I am just here in my nest. Probably with a book.
That sound kind of pitiful and I don't feel pitiful at all. I honestly take take pleasure in just sitting and looking around the room.
It's been a difficult year emotionally. I'm still sad a lot. I still cry a lot. But that seems normal. It's not that hard.
I can't find a way to say how I feel that doesn't feel cliche or trite. This was a year in which something ended. And so. Ya know. I am trying to conjure the next phase.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

This American Fat

I listened to The This American Life episode:Tell me I'm Fat with some trepidation. The introduction to the show sounded promising because it said we need to rethink the way we see being fat. Ya think? I starting rethinking the way I saw being fat decades ago but ... OK. I listen to This American Life a lot and have for years. I do because it's smart and usually has a different perspective. Full disclosure: I sent them a piece years ago. It may have even been about the way I experience being fat.  I have the rejection letter somewhere.
There were some great moments but after I listened I was overwhelmed with sorrow. A deep bone crushing sorrow. And. Of course. Rage. I started a post but couldn't even finish because ... why?
But then Margaret posted the show on Facebook. I yammered on in her comment box. A friend read it and I ended up yammering on in her ear. So. Clearly I have something to say. These are my thoughts.
The prologue was relatively solid in terms of ideas. I've been aware of Lindy West. She seems interesting. She sounds a lot like Marilyn Wann but no where near as radical. In the first act of the show She and Ira laugh it up about a time when she broke a chair and in that moment she still feels like someone who makes jokes so she can be an easy to get along with and not too demanding. She shouldn't have to worry about a chair. None of us should. When she's talking about Dan Savage it felt great because someone needs to bang back on that fat hating ass hat. And she did a great job. She talks about Seeing Leonard Nimoy's fat photo's, which are wonderful. Another disclosure: I saw him in a car in Boulder once. He smiled at me. Swoon. She does a great job in this section. She also says being fat is it's own punishment. It's something she wrote to Savage years ago but even now with her new woke perspective she doesn't seem to notice it. Am I nitpicking?
When responding to another post by Savage in which he responds to a Gay hating suggestion that Gay marriage isn't a good idea because they die younger ... (ridiculous) ... he says that then fat marriage isn't a good idea. In her response to him she says fat people are already ashamed. Um. Otherwise her response to him is great.
Then there is a bit of a great song by Sophie Tucker in the second act we get to Alma.
I can't really write much about this because it is just entirely heart breaking. And right after it, in a break, Ira is introducing an upcoming act and says...grab a Twinkie. Why?
It's an awkward quip at best. Alma works with him. The quip felt like a cover for (I hope) the sadness he might have been feeling after hearing the choices his coworker and (possibly) friend has made and continues to make. And it seems like everything comes down to the idea that size acceptance is about fat people being able to eat crap with impunity. I'm pretty sure eating a Twinkie is no proof of how much you've unseated the internalized oppression that fat people are relentlessly unseating. Not shame. Oppression.
Act three.  I love Roxane Gay. She is smart. She is fierce. She is nuanced. I don't really have a problem with the things she says. I feel them. They are personal. They are not rhetorical. They are complex. And they break my heart. They make me want to go into restaurants and hair salons and theaters and BREAK ALL THE FUCKING CHAIRS.
The forth act is about a Christian weight loss program, which is teeth gritting.
If you listen to the podcast there's one last bit from Lindy West. And it is very sweet and on point. The show is worth a listen. I imagine it will get a few people thinking.
The Take Away, another one of my favorite shows because it is generally smart, is doing a week long series on obesity. So far it's blather about why people are fat as if fat people are a construct of modernity. Lindy West will be doing a discussion at some point. Her intro talks about pizza being a feminist issue. Because .... why?
When ever I write one of these posts I get caught up in a long yammer about my ideas about food. I'm just not going to do that. But we have to stop conflating size acceptance with some loopy idea of permission to eat.
A friend of mine was told by her doctor that she is morbidly obese. She also says she has trouble finding clothes that fit some times. She is NOT FAT!!!! Not even a little bit. It infuriates me. When I'm telling her she's not fat I wonder if I should just let it go because the doctors and fashion industry clearly think she is. Maybe I should just welcome her to the community. The problem is that as long as someone her size is seen as fat I will not get good medical care. I will not have parity in public spaces. We have to be clear about what fat is. It is so much more than one size, or a group of sizes. It's an expression of diversity. It is so complex and so personal and our conversations are so frustrating. It isn't just about how much some one eats or how much they exercise or what their genetic background is or if they can buy a dress. It isn't about accepting the size of your ass. It's about not even having to do that work because the nonsense ideas about being fat have been knocked down. IN OUR HEARTS. IN OUR BONES.
Now that I've started I'm having trouble stopping. I could go and on and on. I have in the past. I got tired. I felt like I was saying the same thing over and over.
A friend of my mother's picked me up at the airport once. She told my mother that when she first saw me she didn't think much of me because of my size. But once I started talking she realized that I was so smart and interesting. Mom thought this was great because the friend had realized who I was despite my fatness. I thought the woman needed to ask herself why she was so hateful and literally narrow minded.
I wanna break all the fucking chairs.



Monday, May 29, 2017

Redemption

Because of the spasm and the virus and the flu and the general depression that makes me want to sit in the dark ... I've watched a lot of TV this year. Some of which was good and much of which was dopey. In many of the shows there's a narrative in which a bad guy becomes good. Or maybe just reveals some goodness. Generally I like characters who are a little good and a little bad because we all are. But there is something so satisfying and surprising about really bad guys doing good.
For so many years the mommie and I couldn't talk without arguing. And then we both started watching Days of Our Lives. There were clear good guys and clear bad guys and then there were guys who could go either way and we could argue about them. It was soft arguing that had no real consequence. Those conversations relaxed the real tensions between us. We would talk for a long a time about these imaginary people. We could stretch out and have strong opinions. We couldn't do this with our own issues.
On the weekends I tend to listen to the radio and I heard this story on the Ted Radio hour. It's powerful because they call it our story. There isn't really a bad guy. There's a guy who did a bad thing. It's thought provoking. How do we forgive and still have a sense of accountability?
There's a saying about people who forgive and forget, people who neither forgive nor forget and people who forgive but never forget. The characteristics have associate religions in the saying but I don't find that part useful. I have always related to forgiving but not forgetting.
Forgiving isn't hard if you see people and their actions in context, if you accept that people make bad choices and that you might have made a few of your own. Forgetting often feels like accepting the unacceptable.
I've been thinking about all of this mostly because of the screen time but also because I'm not confident in my ability to be in relationships. I retreat into my self. I am confident in my intentions. I want to forgive. I don't really worry about forgetting because my experience is that forgetting happens on it's own.
The political environment is so toxic and filled with hate. It feels like the bad guys are in power and they are ruining everything. They're ruining a lot.
I like the way redemption feels. I like when the bad guys are surprising. But I've been watching a lot of TV.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Yoga Zone

Right before I got sick in the beginning of the year I was feeling really good about my yoga. I do a very short practice but I came up with a few poses that moved well from one to the other and I was able to stay focused. Then I got sick and weak and out of the groove. I am back to a daily practice but it's never really been as good as it was.
I do a seated triangle pose. Instead of holding the stretch (which is a really good stretch for my shoulders) I get into the movement. It's like Pavlova takes over. I'm doing Port de Bras. Not a good Port de Bras. A flailing, spaced out Port de Bras.
I feel like part of yoga is about stillness. Your extend your arm and your leg and you stretch as far as you can and then you ... feel. You breath. And you feel. It's awareness and intentionality. It's not flailing.
For a few days I added music. Krishna Das chanting to be specific. I'm usually irritated by that kind of thing but he has such a warm, resonant voice. It helped. It exacerbated the Pavlova thing a little but I found my self holding a pose longer, for a few beats, or until the end of a phrase. I moved slower.
When I was sick it took me a long time to get dressed. I could barely get from the shower to the bed. The weakness was obliterating. I'm not that weak any more but here is a residual effect it seems. I get really spaced out. I find myself in a blank stare, often with a sock in my hand. I think we need a little bit of that kind of thing. Just zoning.
Spaced out.
Spaced in.
I'm not sure it's useful to have goals in yoga but if I have one it's enhanced awareness. I am no where near that goal.
Except every once in a while.
It's just me.
In the pose.
Wide awake.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Eggs

In the beginning of the first year that the mommie lived in the Hood she had a health crisis. One of the ancillary problems was she didn't want to eat or drink. I spent the day pleading and cajoling trying to get her to sip water or take a bite of apple sauce. After she ate or drank she flinched and pulled away. I talked to so many nurses and doctors about it. Her primary doctor at the time ran a blood test and three days later had his assistant call to tell me to push fluids. It will always be one of the most ridiculous things a health care professional has ever said to me. Was I supposed to water board her? Eventually I took her to the hospital because I was worried about dehydration. 
I was talking to a nurse there about the eating/drinking problem and she suggested that the mommy might have Thrush. I have since learned that Thrush is a common occurrence when people take antibiotics. Thrush makes eating and drinking painful. There were so many health care professionals taking care of her and none of them had thought to look in her mouth. I asked the next doctor to enter the room to do that, he diagnosed the Thrush and the treatment began. 
I took her back to the nest and hired round the clock home health care. (There's an entire chapter to be written about why I did that.) I noticed that she wasn't eating the meat or vegetables in a soup but she seemed to like the broth. I started heating broth and having her sip from a straw. It felt like it took me too long to figure that out. It felt like I was always playing catch up. I was always realizing something about her decline after the signs of it had been evident for a while. But I was surrounded by people who had the job of managing her health care. Why didn't they figure it out? Why did I have to ask the doctor to look in her mouth and see the condition that was somewhat probable? 
I have so many of those why questions and the answers are usually about resources and time and funding. There is an occasional somewhat beleaguered acknowledgement of the wrongness of the situation, which rapidly shifts to an affirmation that every one is doing their best. I'm always supposed to understand that I shouldn't be angry at people who are working so hard and I should accept that things just are the way they are. It's some kind of perverse sign of maturity when you're able to accept the unacceptable.   
I'm a sixties kid. I haven't trusted institutions for most of my adult life. But the extent to which I feel the elder care systems failed the mommie and me is infinite and I will never recover from that failure. I will find a way to hold all those feelings and carry on with my life but I will never not be furious. Ours is not the worst story. I've heard too many. 
So. 
The mommy was in the nest for Easter two years ago. I was eating ham and eggs for breakfast. She looked at my plate and asked what it was. I told her and asked if she wanted any and ... she did. 
It was a turn around moment. Eggs could now be added to the very short list of things she would eat. I called it the Easter miracle. 
But, ya know, it was really about the Thrush clearing up and her beginning to heal. People told me she wasn't eating or drinking because she was getting ready to die. She got well and lived almost another year and a half. 
The mommy died a few days before Thanksgiving. I sort of held my breath through the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years daze. I didn't mind other people celebrating but I couldn't feel any joy. I didn't expect Easter to be hard. But this year her birthday falls on Easter. It's just too much. 2017 has been a bit of a bummer so far. Too much snow in January.  Too sick in February. Toe infected in March. And just now a flu/bronchial thing has me hacking up a lung. 
I feel the need to write about the great care givers and the visits from friends and the things that have been good. But I just feel bad. I'm sad. I'm angry. I want to bake an apricot upside down cake and get ready to celebrate. I know my friends and family want me to be happy and I will be. I promise. Just not today and not tomorrow and ... I'm not sure when.  
Happy Vaisakhi. 
Chag Kashruth Sameach. 
Happy Easter. 
Happy birthday mommie. 






Monday, March 13, 2017

Broken/Fixed/Broken

The mommie was in the nest for a few weeks the first year she was in Hood River. She had a health crisis that resulted in some delirium. She was afraid to walk, afraid during transfers to and from the wheel chair. She was always worried that she was going to fall out of bed. Every night I sat with her playing a song on YouTube and singing along until she went to sleep.
One of her care givers was a guy. We were both crazy about him. He was very sweet to her.
I was trying to reassure her that she wouldn't fall out of bed one night. I told her I was there and he was there and we wouldn't let her fall. He heard me and came rushing in to help with the reassurance. My bedroom is small and he was a pretty big guy. He knocked my dresser and a pottery perfume jar fell behind the dresser and broke. He didn't notice and I didn't tell him. I didn't want him to feel bad. The pottery was a gift from my friend Marsha.
I visited my friend Jane in hood River a few times before I moved here. One time we drove up to Portland and met Marsha at the Saturday Market. We walked around looking at things and I admired the little pottery thing. I remember it being described as a perfume bottle but truth be told it would have been an odd one. The opening was quite wide. Marsha bought it for me quite spontaneously. I kept it with my other perfume bottles on my dresser. For years.
Part of the difficulty of that time was the invasion of my space. I needed the help but it was hard to have someone always here. Furniture got moved. Things were always a bit out of place. Things got broken.
I managed to dig out a few of the bigger pieces and later DeAnna moved the dresser and found the rest. Last week I glued it back together as best as I could. I was feeling really happy that I'd managed to save it.


As I was dusting the shelves to put it back I knocked a very delicate bottle over and the top shattered. Too many pieces to glue. Some things can't be fixed. Loss is constant.
I'm not that gloomy about it. I wasn't as fond of the glass one I'm not even really sure who gave it to me. And I am still happy about fixing the pottery.
As time passes, my feelings of loss change shape. I still have some amount of time every day when I'm thinking about the mommie and everything that happened and wishing I could have avoided some of the things and generally done a better job taking care of her. But I am adjusting to life without her. There are times when I'm happy.
I've always liked that line from Leonard. "There's a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."