Monday, November 25, 2013

The Mommy is Napping

What to do? What to do? There are so many things I feel I would do if I didn't need to be aware of her and now I have this time and ... what to do?
Mom doesn't require a lot of care but she does like being cared for and this year I notice more and more that she just wants me to help her. I have my own experience of wanting and needing help so I get it. I do what I can. Try not to be impatient or frustrated. Try to be kind. Try. Fail. Try harder.
I've lived alone for most of my adult life. Sharing space for any length of time always stretches me. With mom there are layers. There's the problems of our relationship. The problems of her aging process. The problems of my aging problems. The problems of ... you It's a lot to parse.
There's always something to cook, or something to clean. There's football on the TV. The volume is always on high.
So she's asleep. What to do?
At night when I'm trying to get to sleep I start thinking about blog posts I could write. Can't remember any of them now. I could read. I could watch one of the shows she won't watch. I can't really turn off the TV because she'll wake up if I do. I could take my own nap.
There's a line in a Joni song. There's always a line in a Joni song. "Now I am returning to myself the things you and I suppress." I imagine it's about a romantic relationship but it's something I feel after these long times with Mom. I put the jewelry back in my nose and call back all the parts of myself that I have not needed around her.
I feel like I'm changing. In ways I can't quite articulate. I have felt that way for most of the year. It's probably in part about living in a new town. The changes of habit. Something is shifting. Good. Bad. Both. Neither.
I never had my own children but I spent lots of time with other people's kids. I remember that feeling when they fall asleep and you know you are free but you're also exhausted. You do something mindless or silly just because you need to not be ... on.
Now I'm starting to worry because she's slept a lot today. Is she sick? Is she slipping away?
What to do?
It's almost time to start the soup.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Is It Safe?

Years ago I had a friend who had seen the movie Marathon Man and used the "is it safe" question as his own method of torture. He would look all glittery eyed and ask the question for no particular reason. We were, at that time, all trying to believe that the universe was going to take care of us in all ways if we had enough faith. We wanted it to be safe. But we weren't really sure it was.
Last week I noticed a post from the Hood River News on Facebook. There had been a bank robbery and schools were in lock down. I got an email from a friend with the heading: Don't go outside! I hadn't really been planning on it so I wasn't too worried.
A little while later I got email from the HOA guy saying that a homeless guy had entered our building somehow and tried to get into one of the units. He's a known homeless guy. I've seen him from my window. He seems harmless but it would be disconcerting to have him walk in the door.  
All this while the news from Colorado became increasingly grim. The news about Syria became increasingly confusing. The news. The news. The news.
The day felt weird. It wasn't that I felt like the robbers and homeless people of the world were on their way to me with mal intent. I wasn't even really worried. But I was something. Disconcerted? Maybe.
I've been trying to get a non drivers ID from the state of Oregon. I went on line for the paper work and filled it out. I brought two non driver IDs from the state of Colorado. I brought my long expired passport. I brought the xerox copy of my state issued birth certificate. None of that was enough. I need a specific state issued birth certificate. I talked to Mom. She sent my birth certificate. I went back. Not good enough. It was issued by the hospital. Not the state.
It's the death of common sense.
Since I have two state issued non driver IDs there must have been a time when the things I have were enough. But not now. And here's why it's pissing me off. There are states requiring state issued IDs before you can vote. I'm not entirely sure if that's true here but when I went on line to register it asked for my Driver's licence number. And you hear people talking about how it's not that hard to get an ID.
I will eventually get what I need. Maybe the third time will be the charm. I'll get my ID. I'll register to vote.
The burglar was taken into custody the other day.
Haven't seen the homeless guy walking around.
Is it safe?  

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Then what?

Kristina came for a visit. That was a very good thing.
It seemed like once or twice a day we'd be talking and I say something about a post I was going to write. When she left I assumed I'd be writing up a storm.
I assumed I'd be writing because we'd had so many great conversations. And we'd met up with Marcia in Portland and had more great conversation. My brain was sparking. I can't really explain why I never got to the page.
Since I've been here my days have been filled with unpacking and general settling in activities. My back has knocked me down a few times. Not terribly surprising since for months I've been moving boxes around. Mostly boxes of books. I found a really wonderful chiropractor but her adjustments are somewhat different than Barbara's. It all added up and I spent so many days on an ice pack that I burned my skin. But I was reading a lot and that also usually stimulates writing.
I think there's a writing guru who says something about "butt in the chair" as a big part of writing. Maybe. But for me it's always been about words building up and repeating in my head. It's often a reaction. I often have a post written in my head long before I sit in the chair. And I did have a few. But they seem to flattened.
The nest is pretty close to settled. I've bought and been gifted a few things but most of the stuff is the same stuff I've been living with and yet it all looks new. Every book on a shelf. Every picture on the wall. I feel more and more ... at home.
I've been asking myself what I'll do when there's nothing left to unpack. It's going to be awhile before that's true.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

That'll do pig.

My living room makes me happy.
During the worst ten years of my life (that would be the last ten years) I began to wonder if I'd come to identify with being unhappy. I wondered if I was able to be happy. It wasn't that I liked being unhappy I just ...wasn't. I wanted to be able to feel my real emotion and tell the truth about it. Einstein said he thought well being and happiness shouldn't be an absolute aim. He compared such "moral aims" to the "ambitions of a pig." I took some kind of validation and comfort in that idea. I felt authentically unhappy. I wanted authenticity.
And now.
My living room makes me happy.


I am, generally speaking, happy these days. That doesn't mean I haven't had bad moments or bad days. 
For a few weeks unpacking got slowed way down. The nest was a vacation rental and full of furniture most of it was taken to a very nice consignment store before I arrived but there was a table, some chairs, a bed and some art. The very cool woman from the store had been busy and took awhile to come back. Once that stuff was out of here I could do some unpacking but I was also waiting for the guy who is helping me with things like repairing my desk and painting the walls and stuff. He got busy with other jobs and a vacation. I was set up enough to cook and sleep and watch TV and use my computer but I wanted things to be in place. So I've had some frustrated days. Some grouchy days. Some lonely days. But then he showed up and so much fell into place. I still have more books to shelve and stuff to put on the wall and more to do but the living room is in pretty good shape. It makes me happy. The kitchen is coming together as well. There are no more boxes in the hall way. 
It's not like I was never happy during the last ten years. I was. And it's always been true that I can fill up with happiness over really random things. Like books on a shelf. Or plants looking healthy. I've never been so far gone that I couldn't see beauty and feel sentiment. But it was harder. 
I'm almost as worried about this ... happiness... as I was worried about my lack of it. But it's not an absolute aim. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Jeane was visiting me years ago. We'd been out to dinner. When we walked in we turned on the TV looking for a movie or something. On every channel there was live coverage of a car chase, a white Bronco. We turned it off. And that was how I dealt with the entire epic of the O.J. Simpson trial. I turned it off. I had no interest. I had no opinion. Until the day of the verdict. On that day I was glued to my television. It was so interesting to watch the variety of reactions. Heartbreaking in some cases. Confusing in others but so compelling.
My experience of the Zimmerman trial was slightly different. I watched bits of because it was always on MSNBC. I found it hard to watch and I usually didn't watch for long. On the day of the verdict I was again glued to the television until it was announced. My first thought was, "Not again." I was so angry I had to turn it off. I couldn't shake that anger for days. I haven't really shaken it yet.
The two trials don't have much in common but they were both a hyper public spectacle. I won't argue that we have a right to see what happens in the courtroom but I have mixed feelings. The courtroom is a theater space even when it's not on television. But it should be a pretty boring theater. It should be about flat narratives and details of legal structures. I think it is most of the time. But not this one. This one was about bad jokes and Twitter reactions and endless analysis and chunks of concrete. And a weary ending.    
At some point a friend changed her Facebook picture to the Trayvon icon seen now in so many places. I grabbed it myself. I'll probably change it soon.
I used to write more about issues of the day. I've stopped because I worry about the culture of opinion. I want to be sure that if I'm going to write something it's going to feel useful in some way and I'm not really sure it's useful for me to add my angst. But the aftermath of the trial has held my emotion. I'm not even sure what there is to hope for but it feels like there are reasons for hope. There is a conversation happening. There are people sitting in and marching and making demands. I think real change happens slowly and happens in heart and minds. Spectacles can be fodder for change.
I'm still nesting. It's slow going but steady. I get frustrated and then I get over it. Every day the nest feels more like mine. I'm still overwhelmed with gratitude.
There is a pub up the street. On weekends they often have bands. It's loud and goes on into the night. The night of the verdict there was a metal band. Lots of whooping and hollering. It grated on my nerves. I wanted quiet and reflection.
Some times.
Most times.
All I feel I have to offer is my attention.    

Friday, July 12, 2013

Peaches and Lillies

I'm sure there will come a time when the nest is just where I live and I no longer go into a swoon when I see the washer/dryer. The other day I was sitting at the sink eating a cup of cold shrimp and avocado soup and noticed a shadow of the plants on the ceiling. The ceilings are cement and covered with industrial-ish markings. I love them.
There are things about my life that are still difficult. I'm still in pain. I can take out my own garbage but by the time I get back inside I'm in pain. I can't go for a walk around my neighborhood. Pain is an internal thing. I'm not always sure my friends understand how much of it I experience. And then there's my wobbles. I always feel like I'm walking on a tight rope.
A handful of things have slowed down my unpacking. I think next week things might pick up. At least the things that are about other people. Things having to do with my ability or lack there of will no doubt stay slow. Heh.
Pattie has written about the issues of disability for awhile. I've been reticent to understand myself as someone who is disabled. I keep thinking if I could swim more, or do more yoga then I could walk better and there's some truth to that but my knees are too far gone. The nerve bundles in my feet make me wobble. Even surgery might not help.
I just need help. So often. And I hate it. I hate needing help. I hate asking for help.
Maybe the thing that's the hardest for me is when someone does something that seems to be oblivious to my disability. This happens a lot in stores. People walk in front of me, slow me down, send me into a wobble. I think I'm more impatient about this kind of lack of awareness because I grew up with my grandparents so from a very early age I needed to be aware of their needs. I had to be there when they needed someone to lean on. So I am confused when people don't get it. And vulnerability is not a mood stabilizer. My emotions are always extreme and reactive when I feel my own need.  
I'm hoping to get a scooter. A scooter will increase my independence by yards.
No matter how bad I may be feeling there are things about the nest that make me smile and feel better. I am anxious to have things in place. Books on shelves. Pictures on walls. But Jane brought me bounty from the Thursday market including a bunch of flowers that would have not been affordable in SF. When I woke up the nest smelled like peaches and lilies.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Weird Day

1. In SF I had prisoner of UPS days in which I had to sit near the buzzer and wait for a delivery. They almost always delivered in the afternoon. Of course if I went out in the morning they delivered in the morning. My first delivery here was UPS delivering books from Kristina. Of course. She's cool like that. I was worried because I hadn't figured out how to use the intercom for the building. At some point that day I heard a knock on the door and when I opened it the packages were there! They get in on their own! I sent a text to Kristina and we rejoiced. We rejoiced a bit too soon because on my birthday she sent a gift basket via FedEx and I didn't hear the knock on the door. Apparently if I'm in the front of the nest and have the TV on and the window door open there's enough noise to make my already weak ears unable to hear a knock on my door. So, OK. If I have to sign for something there may be an issue but other wise still better.
Then yesterday I knew I was getting a delivery of some dining room chairs so I propped the hallway door open slightly so I wouldn't miss them. Another problem I had in SF was that some of the delivery guys would drop and run. Packages had been lifted from our entry way and if it was a big package I had to beg a neighbor to bring it up, as in the infamous box delivery. And that tradition continues. The UPS guy dropped the boxes off at my door, which is better than dropping them off down the stairs but I had hoped he would bring them in. My door was blocked so I had to move them. It wasn't terrible. I'm doing a lot of pushing heavy boxes around these days but it was a bit of a let down. Today I was waiting for another delivery with the door propped open. By the afternoon I checked and found it had been "left at the front door", which was actually the lobby. It's a more secure lobby but still.
2. I had become increasingly dependent on friends and neighbors to carry trash down the stairs in SF. I was lucky to have very kind friends and neighbors but being able to take out my own trash has made me very happy. But. You knew there was one coming didn't you? The recycling bins are at the top of an alley, also a hill. Even if I could get up it I couldn't get back down. So I call the local garbage company and they say the recycling trucks can't fit down the alley. I call the property management and they don't have a clue what's going on and don't seem to care. I have one more email out to one more possible problem solver and if they don't help I'm back to begging friends. Drat.
3. The nest comes with Internet access although there has been a lot of confusion about how that works. The instructions I got for the WiFi didn't work. The possible cable outlet is obscured by things and will be until more unpacking occurs. In terms of cable Comcast doesn't service the Hood so I had to switch to Charter. Not a big deal. Since I needed a land line for the building intercom I decided to bundle with them. I've always resisted bundling because I hate corporate domination but I more or less gave up and bundled. Internet access is important enough to me to bypass what ever the building may or may not have. Once I was connected I was able to solve my WiFi issue by reading a bunch of tutorials. Quite pleased with myself on that. I'm glad to have both though.
The land line/intercom thing was just not working. Yesterday I noticed that when the guy installed the land line he plugged it into the modem and not the wall. Feeling pleased with myself again I called Charter to ask if I could change that. Oh. Well. No. They have to send a technician. He comes. He does stuff. He tells me there's more to do but he can't do it. I need to get the building wiring guy to do it. He leaves. The property management doesn't have a clue and doesn't seem to care. Again. Same email. Same last ditch possible problem solver. We'll see.
4. And I get an email from Comcast saying I have a credit for more than 100 bucks. Turns out I've been paying a month ahead. Who knew? So the account has been closed for two weeks or so. The equipment has been turned in. The email says I have a credit but no mention of how to get a refund. After a unreasonable amount of time waiting for customer service to answer the phone, which included being hung up on, a seriously slow witted person created "a ticket" for the refund and said it could take three to four weeks. Um.
There's even more but it's not fun to write so it can't be fun to read. These things happen everywhere and I still think that my life is better and more manageable here. I feel bit old and codgerish but why does it feel like it's so hard to get people to solve problems? And do jobs well?  I know people are often over worked and under paid. I get it. But really.
Yesterday was the weird day. I felt a bit punch drunk by the end of it. Today was still weird but better. There's a lot of revolution in the world right now and I'm all about the problems of privilege. How did that happen?  

Sunday, June 30, 2013


I didn't grow up with a dish washer. I remember the nightly ritual of someone washing and someone drying. I'm not sure at what age or if I was ever part of it. I know my job was to set and clear the table so I may have been excused from dish duty. We moved into a brand new house in Maryland with a dishwasher. I remember having to scrub the dishes thoroughly so that food wouldn't "bake on" in the dishwasher making me wonder why I didn't just go ahead and wash them.
When I left home the first time I stayed in a friend's grandmother's house and she happened to have the same dishes my grandmother had. I remember standing at the sink washing the dishes and feeling sentimental. From that moment I loved washing dishes. Really. If you invite me to a party the odds are you'll find me in the kitchen washing dishes.
So now I have a dishwasher. I doubt I have enough dishes to use it on a regular basis. It's on the small side so maybe. I use a dish or two at breakfast, wash them by hand and use them again for dinner. I have been filling up the new machine with dishes as I unpack them and I do notice a difference. I'd been scrubbing a coffee pot and not feeling like  it was getting clean. I put it in the dishwasher and wow. It looks new. But I'm still washing my daily dishes by hand.
My refrigerator might be the only thing I don't love in the nest. It's heavily compartmented and feels small and overly instructive. I'll put my dairy where ever I want to thank you very much. Because I don't drive I tend to do Armageddon shopping. Not easy with this refrigerator. And it's noisy. It makes weird thudding noises. It also so beeps at me if I have the door open too long. I actually find that part funny.
I have a washer and dryer in my bathroom. I have a washer and dryer in my bathroom. I have a washer and dryer in my bathroom. Yeah. That is the Holy Grail. I have always wanted that. Back in SF a neighbor and I talked about how neither of us knew about cleaning a lint trap. We'd both done laundry in laundromats. I did grow up with laundry machines in the house and I think my mom made an attempt to teach me how to use them in my teenage years but in my adult life I've never had them. Well once I had a washer but it didn't work well and there was no dryer. It was easier to go to the laundromat. In New York everyone I knew had their laundry done no matter how much money they made. But I dragged mine up to a laundromat on Broadway near 95th and sat there reading with the hum of the machines filling my ears. My new washer and dryer are complicated and I'm sure I'm not using them perfectly. It took me a long time to find the lint trap.
I have a notebook the size of a New York City phone book. It's filled with manuals and warranties. It's the instruction book for how to live here. I've never needed such a thing. These are the problems of privilege.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Wall of Windows

In San Francisco I had one blind that I raised and lowered every day. It was in the bedroom. There was a window in the living room, which opened on an air shaft and my neighbors could see in if they wanted to look but most of them kept their blinds pulled. I used to like to open the back door and watch people walking down Powell but if the door wasn't open there was no way for anyone to see into my apartment from the street.
One of the best things about the nest is the wall of windows. But I do live on a down town street. There are shops and restaurants and people walking by at all hours. The question of when I lower the blinds is a daily quandary. I like having them open but I am a bit on display. There's nothing to see really and most people are looking into shop windows. I am not not overly concerned. But the other night I stood up and it felt like I looked straight into the eyes of a woman eating on the patio across the street. She may have been looking at my plants or just the architecture. She may not have been looking at all. It just felt like I stood up into her view.
There is a transom-ish part of the window above which I leave the blinds lowered at all times. Nice that they work that way. I seem to have arrived at a system. The first blind I open in the morning is the one by the bookshelf and near where my desk will ultimately be. It's in a corner. There are plants in front of it. It feels obscured. The second one I open is at the other end. The table is there and I've eaten on it but lately I've been eating on the corner of my butcher block. When I was eating there I felt on display, somewhat. It wasn't a big deal but it was a little weird. In any case now I open it and if anyone looks up they may see me scrambling my eggs. Oh well. And last of all the middle, which is also a door with a Juliet balcony. I love opening it and looking up and down the street. But it is right in front of the hallway and I suppose if you were at just the right spot, at just the right moment you might see me walking from the bathroom to the bedroom in my towel. Probably not but I open it last. At night the pattern falls apart. I resist closing them at all.
Morning in Hood River is quiet. I live above a coffee shop so I see people clutching their cups on the street but not many. The day brings out the folks. Some seem like tourists. They travel in groups and look all around them. Others seem like locals. Walking dogs. Pushing strollers. As the evening arrives the restaurant patios fill up. I've been told the summer is busier and in the winter it will get really quiet.
Mom has the blind raising and lowering ritual firmly in place. It always seemed a bit hyper to me.
I like walking past someone's window and catching a glimpse of their life. Especially in the city. Not in any prurient or invasive way but just a glimpse of life.
There's a clear blue sky tonight. Not many people on the street but lots of cars. I think I'll wait until the street lights come on.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


There's really nothing good to say about moving. Everyone says it isn't fun but there was a level of un-fun-ness that seemed wrong. I'm not going to detail it because ... it's over and I want to be over it. I guess as long as I'm unpacking it's not really over but unpacking is almost fun. It's kind of like a raggedy Christmas in which you're opening packages filled with stuff you've had for a long time but you're glad to see it.
There was a moment, after the movers were gone and R was packing things into the car when I was alone in my apartment and I wept. I can still fill up with tears thinking about it.
We didn't get far that night but once we were on the road the next day it was fun. Driving across Northern California and then into Oregon is like driving through an endless post card. In the last leg of the trip, from Portland to Hood River, both of us exhausted and wanting to get out of the car, the beauty of the river and the waterfalls carried us.
And then I was in the nest. It was late. I was on the verge of a physical, emotional and mental breakdown. But I was in the nest and fully aware of the difference it would make in my life.
For so long I've felt like I didn't have any ground beneath me. No reserve. I was running on fumes. I wasn't running very well. Every hurt felt lethal. Every stress felt overwhelming. Many of my reactions felt disproportionate. Being in the nest feels like the ground has risen up under me. I still have bad moments but I recover from them.
The nest is perfect in ways I would not have imagined. I haven't fully integrated that I get to live here. This morning I had a complete melt down thinking that things were going to fall apart somehow. No reason. Just a random release of emotion. It happens every day and I suspect it will for awhile. But. I recovered.
I had set the cable/Internet appointment for two days after the movers but the movers were a day late so I wasn't really ready for the guy when he came. He was extremely fun and cool and just rolled with the chaos. Got my land line, cable and Internet set up. There's some confusion about my WiFi access and it wasn't coming from his company but he made a valiant effort and got it going. Something went off the rail and the next day, which happened to be my birthday, I couldn't get Internet on my IPhone. Whenever anyone talks about not liking Facebook I talk about my birthday. For the last few years Facebook has made my birthday fun. I post pictures of what I'm eating and people leave me happy birthday messages. So not having that access made me fairly miserable. I spent the day digging through boxes trying to find all the parts for my computer. It turned out that the WiFi was blocking the 3G. Not sure why since I've always had both on my phone. I had actually thought about that possibility and should have just turned it off but the guy had worked so hard to get it going. I was afraid to lose it. I still don't have the WiFi thing sorted.
Jane and Karen came over with a huge bunch of flowers, a wonderful cake and Chinese food. It was good.  
I pushed to get some things unpacked and in place. On Sunday Jane took me to the store. I'd been feeling like I might be getting a cold. That afternoon my intestines were acting up and I felt like crap. I got under a blanket and recovered. My entire system is a little out of whack so I do some work and then I rest. I have enough set up to feel like I can slow down.
I put a load of laundry in the machine and then go eat breakfast. It makes me happy. No stairs.
I go and get the mail. It makes me happy. No stairs.
I take out the garbage. I'm happy. No stairs.
So many things that are routine and not even fun make me happy because I CAN do it.
On either side of my television cabinet is a floor to ceiling window with a beautiful view. My eyes wander away from what ever show is on. I can watch the people on the street below. I can watch the trees on top of the hill. On one clear night I watched the moon rise.
I'm anxious for books on the shelf and no more boxes but I'm calmer in many ways than I have been in years. Maybe this will wear off. But. Not for awhile.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Saga Continues

When I was in India we would go to a hotel and ask how much things cost and there would be price quoted. Then we'd go to a room and there was no bed and when we asked for the bed there would be a charge. And then we'd ask for a sheet and there would be a charge. Movers are kind of like that. They do warn you about the cost maybe going up once they are there and that makes sense because you can't be 100% clear about what they'll be doing. But today there was a "stair" cost and a "shuttle truck" cost and kaching kaching kaching. The price may also go down once they're here. I asked for some help moving but I doubt they'll need to do much. BECAUSE I BEEN WORKING MY ASS OFF!!!
So I'll get that money back.
I think.
Saturday night, after shopping, after the boxes had arrived, I found it hard to relax. I stayed awake until 1:00 packing. Woke up at 7:00 and started again. Jeane arrived and we packed all 25 boxes.
Packing books isn't really hard. I have the same kind of frustration with the variety of sizes as I do when I'm shelving books. It's a bit like a game of Tetris. Jeane filled a few boxes with odds and ends but most of them were books. I still have some books left to pack.Maybe two more boxes. And some other stuff.
I feel relatively calm about the remaining packing but pretty stressed about the day of the move. There's just no way to be certain about anything. The movers "will do they can do to be there in the morning". The later they arrive the later we take off to drive to the nest.
There is a really cool photo group about North Beach. Perfect timing. I've spent so much time walking those streets. Eating and working in those restaurants. Drinking in those bars. Waiting at those bus stops. It's nice for me to look at those pictures.
I am waiting for more boxes. I paid extra for faster delivery. Even if no one else comes to help I'm in good enough shape to try and remain calm. I'm not calm but I am trying to pretend.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Something Went Wrong

Thursday I was sitting around waiting for boxes. Trying to remain positive. Doing other things to move the whole moving project along. Wrote my silly little post. At 5 or 6 I called Lowes, they tracked the shipment and discovered it was picked up in South San Francisco at 3:30. OK. South San Francisco is about twenty minutes away. I held out hope for a late delivery but no. Now I have a FedEx tracking number and I see that they will be delivered the next day. I have a Chiropractic appointment, which I need but I decide to move to Monday because I don't want to be gone when the boxes arrive. I'm not happy but I feel like I can still make it work.
Friday morning I track the package and it's on the truck by 8:00 AM. I wait. And wait. At some point I check the Fed Ex site and the package has been taken back to the facility in South San Francisco with no attempt at delivery. WTF? I call and get customer service blahblahblah and am told someone from the local facility will call. They never do.
I'm not really up for what I need to do. I don't have strength, stamina, balance. And still I've been doing it. I've been packing and pushing boxes around and getting it done. But I have to stop and rest so often. And what if I need more boxes? I need to get things (mostly books) packed so that I can see if I have enough. It takes me time. The stress is building and the worst part is I feel so alone. The people I rely on are on vacation, or dealing with family emergencies. People have said they will come to help but aren't saying when. My apartment is torn up.  
This entire process has been troubled by system failures. The post office doesn't get things delivered even when extra money is paid. Bankers don't return emails. Just lots of things not going well and I feel so worn out. I get that moving is always stressful but when I was younger and more able I could deal with it all. I could work a little harder. I could shift and adapt. Now I operate in a narrow band. Things that go wrong narrow it even more.
I mean that's the things we all deal with isn't it? Something went wrong. It happens. We adapt. We deal. Maybe we rant out for a minute and then we recover and we deal. I just don't have an reserve. I don't recover quickly. I guess these are the problems of privilege. People are living in boxes and I'm freaked out because a delivery of them has been delayed. These boxes have been on a truck twenty minutes from my house for three days. It's maddening.
Saturday I get an email from Lowes saying my package has been delayed. Really? I check the FedEx web site and the boxes are on the truck by 7:30 AM. I wait. 10:30. 11:30. 12:30. 1:30. 2:30. 3:30. Debbie calls to take me to the store and just as we're discussing what to do since I can't leave my apartment the buzzer sounds. I push it and shout out the door but no answer. They have left the box full of boxes at the bottom of the stairs.
That happened.
Debbie says she'll help me get it up the steps after we shop so I start out the door and run into a neighbor and his son. His son picks up the box like it's a  box of Kleenex and runs it up the steps. Phew.
A week from now the movers will be hauling stuff out of my apartment. The next day I will walk into the nest. I'm calling the condo the nest. Jennie noticed that I'm moving from Chestnut Street to Oak Street, which I had already noticed and found amusing. I'll be perched in my new tree. In my nest. And things will still go wrong. But for all the reasons I keep listing (no steps, washer and drier, friends close by) it feels like things will be easier. I'll be able to rebuild a reserve.
At least that's my hope.  

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Summer of Jest

I'm sitting here waiting for more boxes to be delivered.
I have so much to do but I'm sitting here.
To be fair I have canceled PG&E, set up cable, changed some addresses. But I've been pacing myself everyday by combining that kind of thing with the more physical act of packing boxes. So today is just almost mellow except for the stress of looking around at all the things I need to be packing. I won't relax until the books are packed. Mostly because I need to know I have enough dang boxes.
I joined a Facebook group reading Infinite Jest. I've wanted to read it and I thought being part of a group might be useful. Maybe even fun. It's not exactly a book to read when your mind is spinning with lists of things to do but I jumped in.
I like DFW. I'd say I love him but I think he would find that odd. How can I love a guy I never met? It's not just about the writing. In fact the writing is a struggle for me. I recognize the skill. He makes me laugh. Out loud. He uses words that thrill me. But he is smarter than me by big numbers and I can't always retain the thread or the structure. I love him because he so totally lucid. Which is hard to experience and also know how he ended. Alas poor Yorick indeed. It seems a bit crazy to take on this book at this time but on the other hand I am so often awake and unable to sleep it kind of works.
So. I'm just sitting here.
I could be reading.
I just ate some yogurt with peaches and berries.
I just ate some triple cream on toast.
Too much dairy. My digestive system will be cranky soon.
Just refreshed Facebook.
Checked Twitter.
Listened to Caroline Casey.    
I've never been sure why but I always get UPS delivery at the end of the day. Just checked the email confirming my order. I don't want to stray too far from the buzzer in case they come.
Tried to take a nap in the chair beside the buzzer. Failed.
Finished a book that I'd already started before I started Infinite Jest.
Watched an episode of Maron.
I'm just sitting here. Waiting. For more. Boxes.

Monday, June 03, 2013


Moving isn't fun but it isn't terrible. I've never really used Twitter much because I've never really understood it but these days I do have a desire to announce every mile stone. The hash tag just came to me. Once you accept the fact that no matter how carefully you pack, something will get broken and no mater how much you plan, something will be forgotten then you just take it one box at at time.
Some nights I can't get to sleep. Some night I get to sleep quickly but wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep. Or I wake up earlier than I want to and can't get back to sleep. Or some combination happens. My appetite is all over the place and I can't think clearly about cooking. I pack box after box and I look around and see how much more there is to pack. I haven't finished one whole room.  
I am a meaning making addict. I know this about my self and often try to adopt a (fill in the blank) is just a (fill in the blank) attitude but I can't stop. I keep thinking about what has happened and what could happen and I burst into tears a few times a day. I also get giddy with excitement a few times a day.
The first time I moved I was three months old. I moved two more times before I graduated from high school and in my young adult life I moved and moved and moved. Until I moved into this apartment. I've lived here for a third of my life. I keep saying that over and over. If I live until I'm eighty it will have been a quarter of my life and will I be in the condo for a quarter? I hope so. Because moving isn't that much fun.
I got a lot done today.
There's so much left to do.
And the clock is ticking.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Digging Out

I went through and tossed out about fifty pounds worth of old writing and assorted paper from college. Maybe more. One of the first classes I took was creative writing. I was in my mid-forties. It had been years since I'd written anything more than a journal entry. I sort of tried to write some memoir once. I wrote in large scrawl on a large drawing pad. I don't remember if I ever learned grammar but I certainly didn't remember any. It didn't mater much because The class was being taught by a poet of the Beat bend. First thought. Best thought. In my end of semester student review she wrote that I was an accomplished writer. I knew better than to own that. I think the word accomplished might reflect quantity as well as quality. Still, having just reread some of those one page splotches, I did do some pretty cool writing in that class. I was uninhibited by critique. The teacher could barely speak in full sentences. She was dear and eccentric and effusive but not at all interested in being corrective.
In one of the last classes of my BA in Humanities I wrote: It may be ontologically important for creative writing to strive to express itself in ways that are not decipherable.
Oh. Well. See. It was in a paper titled: The Problem of Causality: Race, Gender and Class in American Narrative. It was also taught by a poet but a poet who could speak comfortably on many levels and complete complex sentences. She made lots of corrections of my grammar and suggested more perfect ways to say things. I took her praise a bit more to heart. I worked harder to earn it. Rereading it was interesting. I took on quite a lot in a relatively short paper and it was laden with other people's ideas. But I enjoyed the reading and writing I had to do in that class. I looked for a MA program in which I could continue and hone my grasp of theory. I didn't find one and maybe it's just as well.
This digging out of personal history is intense. I spent a whole day reading through things and reeling at what I'd been through and what I'd done and how long ago it was. It doesn't feel like it was that long ago. It never occurred to me that I would like college. And then I graduated and got a job playing a video game.
I mean.
Today I found another pile.
I wrote:There are ways in which all writing is an intersection at which a reader and a writer arrive. At an intersection people pause, wait to feel the other's intention. Who will go first? Who has the right? Who got there first? Will everyone obey the rules? How fast will anyone move and will that determine how fast the other can react? One false move and there is calamity, or maybe not calamity but an involvement. Hesitation is not a function of fear. It is a function of awareness.
It feels a bit disembodied but I've pulled it out of context. It was a short page on an Emily Dickinson poem. And thinking back to our class and the time it is fairly good thinking.
This digging out part of moving is reverie, some regret and filled with long forgotten selves. From which I am hoping to assemble what ever or who ever is about to be.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


I like to say I have a view of Coit Tower. If you stand in the kitchen or the bedroom door and lean your head just the right amount you can see a small pie sliver of the top of Coit Tower. If you don't know what it is and you try to look in the day it might seem like some part of any old building. At night when it's lit up it's more obvious. On days when the Giants are playing big games it glows orange.
I love my apartment. From the minute I moved in I loved it. I've lived here longer than I've lived anywhere, ever. Almost twenty years. I love living in North Beach. I love living in San Francisco. It feels right. It feels congruous.
The downside of my apartment is the steps I need to climb to get in and out of it and get the mail, take out the trash, do the laundry. As my aches and pains have increased I've become a bit of a shut in. And when I do get out I can't walk very far. So I haven't been to my pool in a year.
I'm moving to Hood River, Oregon. One of my oldest friends lives there. Another old friend lives in Portland. And I've met people there when visiting who I am looking forward to knowing better. It's a beautiful town and I'll be living in a beautiful condo. It's all quite amazing and I feel a sense of possibly that I haven't felt in years.
The minute I walk into the condo my life gets easier. There's an elevator. There's a washer and a drier in the bathroom. There's a coffee shop right below me.
I am somewhat worried about the rain since rain hurts my joints and sometimes gets to me emotionally. But I usually have my head in a book, or I'm locked into a screen. I lead an internal life. I also have a feeling that I might actually get out more. Oddly enough.
The Pacific North West is the only part of the country that I thought I'd live in that I have not lived in. In fact I imagined myself living there when I was older. So it also feels congruous.
For the moment I am overwhelmed by the packing and moving process. I am weepy when I think of the people and the life I am leaving. But it feels like the best thing that's happened to me in years.
A link to the condo is here but I'm not sure how long it will be live. A link to a condo above mine with the same layout is here.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


There's a clothing company that does something stupid every few years and then they get a lot of attention. Negative attention but attention none the less. The CEO said something stupid about not having large sizes because he only wants cool, beautiful people wearing his clothes and there are memes everywhere. More attention.
A factory collapses and garment workers die. It's happened before. It happens because we want cheap clothing and clothing makers want lots of money. The workers live and die in that breach.
I'm not terribly interested in clothing. Maybe I should say that I'm not interested in fashion. I like my clothing. I think I have a style, of sorts. I like natural fibers and clean lines. I generally prefer a loose fit. I like color. I do feel good in a new outfit, or a favorite outfit. But I don't feel like I need new clothes every season, or even every year.
For awhile I've wanted to write about my shirts but as a topic it never got me wound up. The news lately keeps triggering my thinking.
When I was a teenage hippie chick many of us wore thermal underwear shirts under overalls. Well. Actually. I never did because I could find them in my size but I always wanted them and then one day I found them in a Lame Giant catalog. Good colors and my size but always cotton poly blend. I made do.
From time to time I'd get a catalog from Big and Tall. I guess they figured if I was buying big clothing there must be a man in my life who also wore big clothes. One day I noticed thermal shirts on the cover and I looked inside.  They don't seem to be on the site right now but they were 100% cotton and ... they were cheaper.
I mean.
Why is men's clothing better quality and cheaper?
I bought a few before I went to NC, which turned out to be a mistake because Mom keeps the house at a balmy 75 all of the time. They're great in SF though. As the summer rolled around the catalogs came covered in short sleeved shirts. I bought a few. I love them. All of the shirts are a bit too big. I wasn't sure about the sizing. I still love them.
One day I remembered that I'd heard men's and women's shirts button in the opposite direction. I checked my new shirts against shirts I'd gotten from a women's catalog and yeah. Different. Again I wonder why. But also, if I walk up to you on the street and you're wearing a shirt not specific to your gender I will not notice. I am really quite obtuse about such things. And if someone looks at my shirt and notices ... oh well.
The tag says the shirts were made in India. Of course there's no detail about exactly where. It's unlikely I'll buy more any time soon. Not because I'm boycotting but I just don't buy clothes very often. But it's troubling.
There are small companies that make very nice clothes for fat people and I buy from them as often as I buy from anywhere. I feel like they produce locally but I'm not really sure about that.
And I find myself with not much more to say. I just wish I could buy a shirt, in a fabric and a color and size that I like and know with certainty that no one was living with misery and fear. Having recently read about the history of cotton it seems like it's never been true.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

My relationship with my Mom has been filled with conflict. Some of which is about her, some about me and much about things neither of us could control. I've tended to focus on the conflict. But there's something about being a witness to a person ageing that pierces a narrative.
Physically Mom is in great shape. At 87 she is on no medications. None. Her only physical issues are joint related. She's had both hips replaced, one hip twice and one knee. She should have the other knee replaced but it doesn't hurt and she doesn't want to have more surgery. Mentally she is slowing down. She is an extremely intelligent woman and she is frustrated when she can't remember things or take in information. I'm always watching for signs of deterioration. Always worried about what might go wrong.
I think about it when my almost two year year old neighbor visits. Watching her brain suck up information is great fun. It's not just the rote ability to hear and repeat. It's the dots that connect and her expression of her growing awareness. Such delight!
It's not as simple as the circle of life thing. Childhood is also filled with frustration. And Mom is happy she lived when she lived. She is a person of her era. As am I. Which is part of the problem.
I wrote a piece about Mom once. I tried to contain and frame the conflict and draw out the complexity of our story. She didn't like it. She likes simple, happy stories. She wants a Hallmark world. I do everything I can to give her that world even though it is painfully limiting. We can't live together but we are wound together in ways that are both neurotic and endearing. It's just not simple.
I used to think unconditional love was about letting go of every hurt. Forgiving every injury. Now I think it's about being able to hold both the pain and the love. To be able to see people clearly. All the bad faith and all the effort to be more. We are all fumbling along, bumping into one another. Wounding and wounded. Forgiving and in need of forgiveness.
Well, actually, sometimes it is simple. Sometimes it's about surprising her with cinnamon rolls and taking as much pleasure in the way her eyes light up as she takes in every bite. Sometimes it's about making her laugh.
Today we are on opposite coasts. She is having brunch with friends. She has the card I sent on the table. There are chocolate frogs on the way.
She is my mommy.
The narrative is pierced.
The conflict lays down with the affection.
We are dancing on the field of the lord.

Mom at sixteen.

Sunday, May 05, 2013


Yesterday was the anniversary of the Kent State shooting in which Allison Krause was killed. Allison had graduated from my high school the year before I started there. I didn't know her but many people who did were still there. Shock and grief filled the halls. A huge fight broke out around the flag pole because some students had lowered the flag to half mast and others were trying to raise it again.
The word straight was used to describe people who went along with established social structures. The rest of us were hippies. I remember wandering into the battle and being hit by accident but after too much time in an MFA program I question whether my memories have been twisted by the need for drama. I do have a few very clear memories. I remember a young man, a hippie, with a wild Afro in blue jeans and a t-shirt and I remember another young man with short blond hair and a button up shirt. He was a football player who was dating a cheerleader. In any other school he would have ruled. In fact he may have been a prom king. Hippies didn't go to the prom.
In many ways that day shaped who I became. My belief in my country and its institutions was crushed. If the national guard could shoot an unarmed student at the college in which she was an honor student how could they be trusted? You didn't have to know Allison for her death to have that effect. You didn't even need to be a student at her high school. You were part of a generation. And we no longer believed.
Of course the blond kid was also part of my generation. I wonder what happened to him.
There's a Facebook group for my high school and there was some talk about Allison yesterday. Three other students were shot and killed that day. Three other high school student bodies. As a generation we are credited with lots of social awareness. But I'm not sure anymore. What did we do?
I'm reading Twilight of the Elites It's great thinking but as I was reading last night I was thinking about Allison and a fight around a flag pole. I feel like we're still having that same fight around that same flag. Things feel so broken.
I have genuine affection for Obama. I'd vote for him again if I could. Drones. Guantanamo. Education policy. Yeah. I know. But I stopped believing in institutions a long time ago. I don't think there's much good that will come from inside the Beltway. I guess I just feel better with someone who at least articulates values that I share.  
There's a very good thing happening in my life but I'm dealing with a lot of self recrimination as well. Questioning how and why I got where I am. Feeling wrong. But I remember that day. I remember that young woman who I never ever knew. I remember feeling like I was waking up. And many of the values developed during that time are the ones I still hold dear.
We weren't the first generation to want social justice.
I know we won't be the last.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I started to write this post awhile ago.
When I was in NC Mom and I watched The Iron Lady. I felt like it painted a relatively full portrait of Thatcher. I grimaced remembering the Thatcher/Reagan years but I had enough distance to see why she thought what she was doing would be good. I basically ignored as much of the news during those years as I could because it was all so crushing. There's been a lot of discussion about her lately. I keep starting to write my on the one hand on the other hand view of her but it feels hollow.
George Orwell wrote that cliche's of the day were a product of contemporary politics. I pay a lot of attention to how I say things. Sometimes I worry that I am too much of a relativist and not clear or definitive. But I do have strong feelings. When I'm with people who I know agree with me I am probably more direct. When I am talking to someone who I know has an opposite opinion I am generally more reserved. When I'm writing a blog post that will be read by two or three friends I am a combination of both because some of my friends don't see things the way I do. I'm not beyond cliches. I aspire to be.  
I was reminded of a conversation I had in a Facebook thread. Conversations in comment boxes are always a bit frustrating. I'm not sure how it started. A friend from EA posted something. This is a person who I never really worked directly with but knew because they were friends with people on my team and had a great reputation. When I left they called to tell me about a possible job. They are a person who truly cares about others and backs that up with action. At some point in the tread that was about something I can't remember, they said something about personal responsibility and choice. It felt so hard and cold. I left the thread. I wanted to write about it then but I was in NC with nothing but my smart phone and arthritic fingers. Now I'm trying to include the memory in a post when I don't even remember details.
I do remember the essential feeling I had.
Choice is always made in context. Entire plot lines are drawn from someone making a choice without all the information they need to make it a good choice. The story is about what happens after the choice and how it all works out. Or doesn't. Life feels more complicated than most narratives. It's so rare that a choice is good or bad. We make a choice and moments later we change our mind our modify our trajectory. Even the most informed choices still leave us feeling our way along.It's too easy to end with the idea of someone making a choice.
Conservative politics often feel hard and cold to me. But I know conservatives. They aren't always hard and cold.
I'm in a pretty good mood these days generally speaking. But the news from Boston hurts the heart. The news out of the senate today hurts the head. When I blogged regularly I felt like I needed to comment on every daily event. But it feels hollow. It feels cliche.
We live in such hopped up times. Less than four hours after the bomb went off in Boston there was already music and a fancy header for every news report. With no solid information news hosts struggle to fill time. Writing that even feels hollow.
Seriously. Is registering when you buy a gun such a big deal? Do we really need all guns to be available to everyone all the time? Seriously? Just because a piece of legislation won't make everything all better should we do nothing? And conflating the event in Boston with gun legislation is just sloppy thinking. That's how I feel. That's what I think.
The Iron Lady's you made your own choices now live with the result social policy was cold and hard. And it didn't work. I mean for the love of everything can we just be a little more nuanced? A little less snarky and snippy and chest thumpy and what ever.
Of course.
I like snarky and snippy some times.
I'm in a pretty good mood lately. Some really truly good things are happening. And I have the news on less often. I listen to music more often. Almost every day. I still like to be informed. I still have a response. I still have a desire to be in the mix. I am still brought to tears daily. The micro and the macro are zones I expand and contract into and out of every day. I think we all pretty much do.
Is started to write this post awhile ago.
And I wanted to finish it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Some Thing and Some Thing

Some thing happened.
It's not worth detailing. My reaction was disproportionate. I knew it was. I could not control it.
You know those films where a building is being purposefully collapsed? It seems like they always happen in Vegas. The whole building seems to crumble all at once. That's how I felt.
I understand my psychological architecture fairly well. I can usually tell when something has tapped some part of the substructure. There's a Rickie Lee lyric:There are wounds that stir up the force of gravity. A cold that will wipe the hope from your eyes. 
So I've been down. Dumbstruck. Wounded. I stopped listening to music. The one time I tried I felt like my heart was being torn from chest. I slowed participating in social media. Stopped checking in.
I want to say I'm all better but I'm not.
There may be some thing happening.
Many problems may be solved.  
 I did have some fun with food.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Still Home

I've been home long enough to find it surprising how much pleasure I am still getting from just being in my apartment. I look around at the plants and books and just stuff in general and feel ... good. For something that is really not at all what I wanted it to be my music project has made a huge and positive difference in my day. I almost filled 160 GB, which could make me sad because I'd like to buy a bunch of new music but I can't afford and I feel like I have a bunch since I'm hearing stuff I haven't listened to in years. Bruce Cockburn just now. PLus I could delete some opera. Traviata tends to load all at once instead of aria at a time. You really have to be in the mood for the whole thing.
I wrote a food blog about my post soup coma. Right now I'm eating a bowl full of left over beef chow fun, cashew chicken and pan fried string beans.  A lovely mish mash.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013


I saw a quote on Facebook yesterday: I will not live an unlived life. It wasn't a famous person or at least not famous to me. It gave me a brain cramp. If you're living you are living a life. How do you un-live? Of course I understand the intent. I know that life can feel somnambulism and rote. It just seems like an inexact way to say what was intended. Aphorisms call for dubious metrics.
And then I realized that the book I've been talking about reading has In Praise of the Unlived Life in the title. But I think (having only read excerpts and a review) he's writing about what I mean. 
I know when I was in NC I felt zoned. I worked on puzzles and read books and made soup. I had numerous conversations about nothing interesting. There were days when I felt like running out the door. 
Now that I'm writing about it I realize that I'm not really sure why it bugged me as much as it did. It felt like a grand pronouncement with no substantive intention. It feels like we nod and smile and applaud these things and we don't really know what's being said.    

Monday, March 04, 2013


Muni has a policy that women can ask a driver to let them off of a bus closer to their destination when it's late. They won't go off their route but if letting you off a block away from a stop gets you closer they will, or they should. I learned about it one night when a woman asked to be let off on my corner. I got off behind her and we struck up a conversation. We've been neighborhood friends ever since. We see each other from time to time and chat. We have never exchanged information but I'm always glad to see her.
I was always reticent to ask. The policy is not well articulated and some drivers think it's after dark and others think it's after 10:00 PM. Some stop and others argue about the policy. I hate asking for special treatment so if they argue it makes me miserable. It's not really special treatment if it's a policy and if they say something like they don't have time I'm OK. It's ridiculous because they have to stop on my corner anyway. We're talking about maybe two minutes to let me off.
One night it was dark and raining and I asked and the guy said it was too early. My knees weren't as bad as they are now but I did limp. I got off and walked home in the cold, dark night feeling angry and sorry for myself. It was pouring. I got soaked. The guy was so unkind. For no obvious reason I remembered all this recently and was going to write a post about it and then forgot.
I am increasingly dependent on kindness. I am becoming Blanche Dubois. But I am never comfortable asking for help.
I am lucky. I have great neighbors who get my mail and take my trash down and carry groceries up. I'd be in so much more pain if they didn't do these things. But there are times when I need to ask. It's just so hard.
After I read the book review for the Philips book I realized that I had a book he'd coauthored. I don't remember if I read something or heard him on the radio but I remember buying the book during one of Kristina's visits. Kristina's kindness is legend in my life. Specifically her contributions to my reading addiction. I think there was a scenario in which we found one copy of the book in one book store, which she bought for me and another in a different book store, which I bought for her. And then we made jokes about our kindness.
I decided I need to read the book I already have before I buy a new one. I don't know why. It's some weird notion of discipline I made up. Anyway. I think I'm getting a feel for his thinking.
I grew up with my grandparents and knew I had to help. I never resented helping. I took pride in it. Philips makes this very point about the naturalness of kindness. He writes about the pleasure of kindness being in the way it connects us with other people. But it also makes us vulnerable. I think I learned that my help toward my grandparents was a sort of rent. A need/obligation. And that shadowed my pleasure and sense of connection. I've been trying to untangle those wires for years.
When I was in North Carolina people seemed so kind. Mom and rarely approached a door without someone opening it for us. One host in a restaurant stretched herself like a ballet dancer to hold two different doors. Sales clerks and grocery checkers seemed less disgruntled than they do here.
One morning I walked out the door and saw the bus a block away at the stop. I figured I'd missed it. I started down my hill and when I looked up the bus was stopped at my corner. The driver was one I saw many mornings and she must have seen me and was waiting. I heard the sound of the door opening and ran for it so grateful and surprised.
Kindness is surprising. It's another thing Philips mentions. It shouldn't be. But it is.  

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Some Things Happened

I'm almost done getting all my discs into the IPod. There are 4641 songs on it now, which thrills me. Just as I finished writing the post yesterday Big Big Love hit the shuffle. Fun. Mood shifter.

Then I watched the first half of a documentary about Ai Weiwei. He's so interesting. Sometimes his art reminds me of an American artist who I have mixed feelings about but Weiwei's art is so rooted in a political perspective. In the doc he visits the town in which he sustained a brain injury from being hit by a policeman. He goes to ask that an investigation be launched. While there he has a dinner, which moves outside in front of the restaurant where he is joined by a group of fans. It creates an image that is comically close to the last supper. The police ask if he can move back inside and he says he will when he finished eating. All he's doing is having dinner with friends but it's such a challenge to a political system in which gathering together is seditious. He uses Twitter like a weapon against tyranny.

Later I read a book review. After the first paragraph I was ready to buy the book .     
  ...he argues that, instead of feeling that we should have a better life, we should just live, as gratifyingly as possible, the life we have. Otherwise, we are setting ourselves up for bitterness. What makes us think that we could have been a contender? Yet, in the dark of night, we do think this, and grieve that it wasn’t possible. “And what was not possible all too easily becomes the story of our lives,” Phillips writes. “Our lived lives might become a protracted mourning for, or an endless trauma about, the lives we were unable to live.” 

The reviewer doesn't seem to like Phillips much and after I'd read the whole review I decided to wait. I have a book he co-wrote and I think I heard him being interviewed about it. He has many interesting things to say. Many lucid things. 

So a few random and disparate things happened. And I got a bunch of salt and pepper shakers washed. By the end of the day I felt clear. Or something. Clear is not the right word. Smoothed out. But also full of thought. But also other things. Hard to quite describe. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What I Mean

I was dreary yesterday. I'm dreary often enough that I might not have noticed but I've been so happy to be home. I was getting used to that feeling. After awhile I realized that it was the after effects of writing my letter. I felt uncertain. Worried that I hadn't said things well enough. Imagining all manner of eye rolls and worse a passive lack of understanding. What I mean when I say that being fat is a political identity for me has to do with my experience of the polis
A friend of Mom's picked me up at the airport years ago. A few days later Mom told me that her friend had not thought much of me at first glace because of my weight. After talking with me on the way home she decided that I was a very intelligent and kind person. Mom was very happy because the friend had seen past my weight. I was pissed. I asked Mom why it was OK with her that someone (anyone) had made an assessment of me based on appearance, specifically my weight. She stuttered and stammered because she has the same assessment of fat people when she sees them. She's fat. Her mother was fat. Her mother made no apologies and thought dieting was stupid and unhealthy. She was on and off diets all her life and still thinks she's failing because she's fat. Some part of her is angry when people think anything bad about me but she believes that if I were thin it wouldn't happen. I bring it on myself.
I don't really care what people think, especially strangers. I cared more when I was younger. I know that when I was with thinner friends I harbored a thought that people would see me with them and know I wasn't like other fat people. Sigh.
Another friend told me a story about her father. He almost didn't hire the man who ultimately became his business partner and life long friend because he was fat.
Someone once told a friend of mine that she couldn't imagine having anything to talk to me about because I was fat.
In my letter I mentioned a woman on her show who seemed full of fat hatred. I didn't want to go into it too much and still don't because, honestly, I don't have the energy for people like that anymore. Sanctimonious. Full of certainty. Blind to their own bad faith. And most of all, unwilling. You can not talk about the health of fat people and hate them and think you are fair. You are not. You are not concerned with my own good. You're concerned with being right. You're a bully.
I do wish I could talk to Melissa and people like her about it all. She said she has an obsession with The Biggest Loser. Really broke my heart. And realistically, public people like that getting random e-mails. I mean. I just feel like I'm shouting into the void.
Today there is a new statue of Rosa Parks on one end of Washington and a Supreme Court talking about dismantling the voting rights act on the other end. It's all so important. When I talk about my political identity I imagine eyes glazing over.
So I was dreary. And I'm still a little dreary. But. As MHP's father used to write in her birthday cards. The struggle continues.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Open Letter To MHP

Dear Melissa,
It's me, Tish.
First I should let you know that this is an open letter and I should say to people who may read me but not watch MHP, Melissa writes a lot of letters to a lot of people and reads them on her show. They're smart and fun and, well, you should watch.
I watched as you wiped off your makeup in solidarity with the Barefaced and Beautiful campaign and, in some way that I'm not quite clear on, as a response to National Eating Disorders week. The connection you make is about the sense that too many young women have of not being good enough. You look fabulous with or without make up. I agree that sometimes makeup is a mask and sometimes it's a fun way to play. I'm just not sure that taking off makeup speaks to the serious issue of eating disorders.
It would be interesting to know how many of the 81% of the 10 year-olds who are afraid of being fat are boys. The same question would apply to the hospitalizations for eating disorders. Makeup may be an issue for a percentage of boys but, again, it's tangential at best.
The show you did on the politics and profits of weight loss was discouraging for me because it began with the assumption that losing weight was desirable and healthy and the only positive choice. The slight deference paid to the idea that fat people shouldn't be demonized banged against the wall of fat hatred articulated by at least one of your guests. I am in complete agreement that food is political and race and class issues are an important part of that discussion but even on the set your usually very smart show the assumptions about fat people were brain numbing. Belly fat? Really?
I have this issue with so much of the lefty media I so enjoy. I'm all for organic, local food. I'm angry about GMOs. I'm nodding and agreeing and then someone starts talking about obesity.
Let me be clear about why that bothers me. I'm fat. For me being fat is a political identity. I am generationally fat. I do not need sympathy or support for being fat. It's a body type not an illness.  
I was a fat kid. It wasn't easy being a fat kid in the fifties but I am terrified for fat kinds today. They are being told that they have a disease. And there are thin kids who eat fast food and play video games. It's just as bad for them but no one seems worried about them. 
I have as much affection for Michele Obama as I can have for someone I don't actually know. But this rise in eating disorders and her articulation of the obesity epidemic are connected. Again, love the garden. Love the dancing. But don't thin kids need those things?
Can we please do some critical thinking about fat bodies? And health. And social justice. And beauty.
I also have as much affection for you as I can have for someone I don't actually know. I love the show. I just long for some different thinking, some deep wisdom and insight. These are the things I usually get from you.
Your biggest ( not a loser) fan.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Yeah. So.

I only just recently figured out how to choose the picture I want when I click on share-to-Facebook. It's not like it was hard. I don't always see all my options. I'm still ripping and listening to music. The shuffle changes with every new add. Today is heavy with Joni as expected. And I've been fooling around with the Food Blog.
I clung to my IPhone when I was in NC. I didn't actually do much telephoning but I was a social media freak. Facebook was the town square. Twitter, which I have never really understood how to use, was the minute to minute headline. There must be a way to post from one thing and not end up spamming Facebook.  If I share from Foursquare on Twitter, Facebook and Tumbler they all post to Facebook. If I'm home I go to Facebook and hide all but one but I couldn't do that with the phone. I've been trying to use Path more often but I forget about it. I seriously love the image of the moon that shows up when you "go to sleep"  but I forget to "wake up". Path doesn't always have the book I'm reading or the music I'm listening to, which bums me out. And it would be one pore post on Facebook.
I never update All Consuming anymore.  I just did because I was thinking about it but I doubt I'll remember to do it again. There was an option to add Netflix, which I did but I don't see it. I thought I had a Netflix "gadget" but I don't see that anymore. Why?
It's all so scatter shot.
And silly.
But fun.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cleaning And Listening

I read The Summer Without Men on the flight home. It was a long flight and a longish layover in Atlanta so I had plenty of time. And it was the perfect size book for the amount of time I had. There were interesting echos of my current life in the book. The main character spends some time with her mother who lives in a retirement home. Someone dies and someone makes a comment about how that happens when people of a certain age get together. Yep.
She sublets a house and there's some fairly detailed writing about the cleaning she does as a way of nesting. I loved it. Cleaning is a way of taking possession of a space. My apartment wasn't dirty when I came home. In fact there was some obvious cleaning that had been done for which I was grateful. But things were just off. after two weeks I have things mostly back to the way I like them. I am surrounded by my plants and books and at my computer. Home.
For a few years I've been trying to come up with a way to have all my music in one easily playable place. I have a nice collection of CDs and a few cassettes. I haven't bought much new in years. Once when I was still working I bought a small stack of new discs and I have five or six new songs in my phone. I never listen to them any more. My disc player doesn't work. It has a five disc capacity but doesn't shuffle and makes a loud thunk between each disc. I didn't want to rip everything into my computer because I didn't think I had enough space. I decided to get an IPod classic because it had the most space. I decided but I didn't act on it. It's not a lot of money but it's a lot for me. Well I came home from Mom's and made my move. I thought I could put music in it and by pass the computer. I was wrong. If I'm not wrong someone needs to tell me how to do that. I was bummed at first but it turns out I have a fair amount of space on my computer. So far it's working out.
I sort of hate ear buds. Decades ago I bought tiny Radio Shack speakers for a Sony Walkman. They've been in my back room buried under junk. Really they're so old I didn't think they'd work at all and I didn't think they'd work with the IPod. But they do.
Mom puts MSNBC on first thing every morning and it's on all day. I watch a fair amount myself but I listen to more radio. MSNBC is so repetitive. It's hours and hours of opinion about some aspect of political news. I like a few of the shows. Mostly Rachel, Chris and MHP. Some times Ed covers labor issues. But all day is brain numbing.
So now I'm home. Have I mentioned that? And every day I add more music to the IPod. I listen to it with the little speakers. My shuffle goes from Lester Young to Oingo Boingo to Barry White to Verdi. I lean heavily toward singer song writers and rhythm and blues but I have a variety. Today I'm adding all the Joni. Should make for fun listening tomorrow. It's been a really positive thing. There may have been better ways to go about it but it's doing what I wanted it to do. Making it easier to listen to music. I'm not sure when that became hard. It used to be reflexive.
I'm one Harper's away from being caught up on three months of those and New Yorkers. I'm caught up on random television shows. I did write the food blog. I was fooling around with the template and now there's no way to share it to Facebook or Twitter embedded on the post. I don't know why. I wanted to use a picture Kristina took but I can't get it to be where I want it to be. I'll keep tweaking.
I haven't walked out of my apartment. Which has been good. Something I needed.
Stevie Wonder is singing.
Picture me smiling.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Invisible Gorrilla

I like having a baby in my life because babies grow. Babies become new people over and over. Maybe there are some hard wired characteristics but even they expand and contract. In the three months while I've been gone my not quite two year old neighbor has gone from just being able to walk without holding on to something to being able to go down the steps and dancing. Her language skills have developed. She's always been dexterous but even that skill has sharpened. Her personality has filled out. Deepened somehow.
In my twenties I used to take some kind of psychedelic once a year to reboot my thinking. I'm not sure if it really worked but it was interesting. And I moved around a lot. Being somewhere new made it possible to be someone new.
I have changed in the past few years but I'm not sure the changes have been useful. I've always processed emotionally by talking. I feel like I used to be someone who got calls. People called. To talk. That's just not true anymore. People are busy. I guess. And I find myself reticent to reach out. I'm not even sure why except I hate that feeling of needing to talk and hearing the busy-ness in someone's voice. I still love talking. I just don't seek it out or rely on it. I've been hurt and resentful about that but it was a habit that got broken. I think that part might be good.
I fully intended to come home and sink into a Sims coma. I was going to live on delivery and anything that did not need to be cooked. I have played a bit but I have little projects in the apartment that pull me out of the game. Reclamation projects. I don't mind being pulled out. I haven't cooked anything more than scrambled eggs.
Something feels looser.
I've been drawn to images of Buddha. I like the presence. The being-ness. The stillness.
Mom lives in a retirement community and someone, either there or one of her friends is always sick. There were several deaths while I was there. On her refrigeration door, in the middle of the frog magnets, is a Do Not Resuscitate order. It's a perfectly smart thing for an older woman who lives alone to have but it's unnerving. In my darker moments I have thought about having DNR as a tattoo. Being there, where the phone calls came in about who was in the hospital or the grave, made something real. In a way. Something about change being inevitable. Even when it feels impossible.
I used to think it was good that she was there with people in her age cohort. People with shared interests. Now I'm not sure. It seems imbalanced. It seems like there needs to be babies around.
I heard Jill Bolte Taylor on the radio the other day. She was describing an experiment in which people were told to watch kids passing a ball back and forth. At some point a gorilla walks across the screen and most, maybe all, of the people didn't see it. That's my big fear. Being so stuck in a habit that I don't see the gorilla.
When my goddaughter was growing up I noticed the changing. It continued all through her years in college. Every time she came home for a break she was someone new. Now in her twenties she is still changing.
And by change I mean growing. Developing. Casting off habit. Becoming.
There's something.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Flying While Fat/ Home

Right before I left for my trip Barbara told me that she and her daughter were talking about flying and comfort. Barbara said that I might have to purchase two tickets and her daughter said that it was discrimination. I was comforted to hear that someone so young got it.
Two friend's were over for dinner and I mentioned it to them. They didn't believe me until I showed them the Delta policy. Delta does not "require" that a person purchase two seats but you may be asked to move to another seat if you are making a fellow passenger uncomfortable (humiliated) and if the flight is full you may be asked to take a later flight. They were drop jawed.
I am fortunate to have a mother who can afford two seats. My flights both going and coming were full so I might have been asked to take a later flight if I hadn't had them. In both flights the person in the third seat felt free to use my second seat for their belongings. I didn't actually need the room. Put me in a weird position. Should I have said get your stuff off of my seat? Eh. What. Ever. Also on both flights there were children and I couldn't help but thinking that one more person could have flown that day with some creative thinking.
So with the two seats I was no more or less comfortable than any other passenger. I can never sleep on a plane but I read my book. It was OK. And people were friendly and kind.
See now.
After these extended visits with Mom I feel as if I've been wearing clothes that are too tight. It's partly because of the bad psychology in our relationship but it's also about personalities and what a friend describes as a profound generation gap. I just become so focused on her and so repressed that I barely exist. After a few days being home I can feel the blood flowing back into my brain. And then there's a lot of processing and recovery. What ever the mechanic of having an adult relationship between adult child and parent may be, it is not one we seem to understand.
It's not terrible. I read a lot. She doesn't always make reading easy. If I read she talks.. But since I was at her house she'd get a paper and read that while I read a book.We worked on puzzles and watched all five seasons of Doc Martin, which she loved. Kristina sent us the first season of Dowton Abbey and I got the next two from Netflix. Yes. That's right. I've seen the entire third season. Wanna know what happens?
I cooked. I'm going to try and write about that on the food blog. Later.
When I have returned from a long trip in the past I always notice that my apartment smells like me. But this time  a friend of a friend stayed here for a few months. She left the windows cracked. It's not like I smell good and she smelled bad. But my apartment didn't smell like me. It was disorienting. Travel is disorienting. Being gone that long is disorienting. And something about the kinetic experience of my apartment not smelling like me was disorienting.
Disorientation can be useful. I don't even remember the old habits of living. I don't even remember the channels on the TV. Slowly some things are coming back. But I'm enjoying coming up with new ways of being in the day. I am doing lots of reclaiming.
It's Fat Tuesday.
I am home.