Sunday, December 27, 2009

Some after Christmas thoughts...

Now that it’s over, I think it’s time to discuss the issue of Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and such.

I have no problem when someone says happy holidays to me. None. I am a non-practicing Catholic, and I do know Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. So in the spirit of Christ- I think I can be magnanimous and tolerant and sensitive to people who do not practice Christianity- or any religion at all, if that be the case.

As always, I see more than black and white- I see a million shades of grey. (And yes I like to spell grey with an e.) I’m not sure why this is even an issue. It bothers me enough to write about though.

On Christmas day, my son and I went to the movies. I said Merry Christmas to the kid that sold me my popcorn and he replied in kind. “Merry Christmas to you too.” My son mentioned to me that he had no problem with Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza (yes, we know Kwanza is a made up holiday) - he is an atheist who practices some of the teachings of Buddha, but not all. I had been thinking about writing this but had not discussed my annoyance with the general population over this issue, with him at all. Yet he too found it disturbing that people could not just be kind to each other for a few days over various intermingling holidays.

Jews, Christians, Muslims and Atheists alike have made this an issue, shoving their belief’s down the others gullet. And that makes me wonder why people can’t just take the month of December to be kind to one another. Be tolerant. I’m so sure that would be what Jesus would want, what Allah would want, what God would want, what Buddha would want- so why, oh why is this so difficult for people?

A Christian woman once told me – when my son was on his way to Iraq- that if he got killed he would not go to heaven because he was not born again. I wanted to smack her. I really did (although I never would do anything like that). I did not care if she was Christian… she was pure evil to me. Instead- I cried. She hurt me to my core. I was mad at all Christians for a long time after that. I didn’t understand that so many Christians themselves do not understand the teachings- the bible- and the spirit with which words were written.

To me- it’s insanity to think that God would choose any religion over another- or a God who would not let someone into heaven who put his life on the line for others. Yet it really mattered not- because my son himself does not believe in heaven.

I believe in life after life- I believe we continue to come back in body after body until we get life right. Until we let go of the material world, until we learn tolerance and love for all human and animal kind. I don’t know where I am in this imaginary scale- but I know I strive to get life right. And so does my son. The Catholic’s didn’t teach me this belief- in fact, I don’t know that anyone did, but I have always believed that my soul is on a journey. The day my son was born I looked into his face- his slanted eyes staring back at me like he had known me a million years and not just one hour and I said to whoever was there- he is an old soul. I believe I was right. While he has no one he calls God, he is kind, generous, and thoughtful and would surely lay down his life for another.

I have been to some dark places in my life, yet I have hope for humanity. I really do. Sometimes though, I feel like I am beating my head against a wall trying to understand why some people don’t do the things that would in my book at least, make them good human beings. I don’t mean the evil bastards that kill children, or the crazies who wipe out random strangers for sport. I know there is no simple explanation for that… I mean the Christian’s, the Orthodox Jews, the scientific Atheist, the Reverent holier than thou, who can not find it within themselves to say a mere thank you when someone holds their door open, or offer a smile at a ragged cashier at Safeway or say Happy Hanukkah or Merry Christmas and mean it.

So my after the holiday rant is actually a request. Think about this next year. I know it’s presumptuous of me to think I know what God wants… but I really he think that God does not have a preference for religious beliefs, or any type of people. He would rather we be kind to each other than buy each other gifts. He would rather we treat each other well then after church go home and kick the dog. In fact, you don’t even have to wait for the holidays. Start today.

Just be kind.

Friday, December 11, 2009

It's On the Tip of my Tongue

I have this thought… it’s on the tip of my tongue. I feel it embracing me, leading me and trying to help me understand what it wants. But I just can’t make out the words. Not unlike my life in real time- if my hearing aids aren’t in my ears, chances are I will miss what you are saying.

I wait for the epiphany that is sure to come. I look for it too on faces, in the news, even on TV. Sometimes I just sit quiet and hope it will strike me like lightening- only without killing me. I hope like crazy I am not one of those people who gets these amazing revelations 10 minutes before they die because that just won’t give me time to jot it all down.

Now I say all this but I have to tell you- I am the first one to tell other people to stop thinking about life and just do it. I hole up here with my sick and decrepit animals and my deranged puppy, living like a crazy old writer/dog lady, rarely going to social events or even a movie theater anymore. But I’ve done plenty, I lived 10 lives in my first 40 years and my goal now is to make sense of it all, document events before history changes them and find the patterns- break the molds, influence change, instigate hope- fix something.

It’s on the tip of my tongue- I just know it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thanks Mom

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of my mother’s death. She died far too young- only 53 years old. She also wasted much of her life on unhappiness.

I rarely write about my mother because it makes me sad. I do miss her and I wait for her to appear in dreams. It’s been years since I have had a dream conversation with my mom. The last one was a great one though.

I was sitting in a chair- and my mother pulled the chair backwards (how kids are wont to do). In the dream, I was scared I would fall- but then I asked her. “This is about trust isn’t it?” “Yes, it is” she said, “You need to start trusting people.”

That dream actually did change me- and how I perceived the world. I’m still wary- I doubt any city kid like myself can shake the innate knowledge that not everyone is trustworthy. But it changed how I viewed bosses, people I work with and relationships in my life. And it made me remember something someone else said to me once. “Don’t you trust me?” I asked my old boyfriend. “I trust you to be who you are.” He replied. Understanding who people are is truly an important aspect of trust. Understanding yourself though is equally significant.

So, on this 25th anniversary of my mothers death- I am trying to remember her lessons. The gifts she gave me never felt like gifts at the time. As hard to manage as I was- she predicted I would be a writer, and often said I could manage anything or do anything I put my mind to. She recognized early on that my stubborn streak would serve me well and become perseverance as I matured. I was her problem child, of that there is no doubt. I smoked, drank, and never asked for permission to do anything after I was 12 or 13. I was rebellious and if she asked me a question, I would defiantly reply with the truth. “Do you think your [step] father loves me?” She once asked me. “No mom- I don’t.” I did not hesitate one second. I can’t say I would answer any differently now.

My mother died from a virus that went to her heart. A broken heart really. My brother had died 2 years prior and most of her left then. If it were not for my brother’s daughter, born after his death, I don’t think she would have lived as long as she did. My mom, sisters’ and I took care of the baby (Joanna) for the first year of her life- then one day her mom picked her up and didn’t bring her back. My mother searched all over California for her- sometimes coming within hours of her location- only to come up empty, Joanna’s mom fleeing the scene. Her last search was in a horrible rainstorm in late November of 1984. I was pregnant with Nick and when I went to see my mom in the hospital, she asked me if I had found Joanna. “No mom, but I will.” I said. Then she told me about a dream she had. She dreamed she was a midwife and had helped deliver a baby girl. She said they named her Carol, for Christmas. She died a few days later, two weeks short of the anniversary of my brother’s death.

I found our Joanna 5 years later.

People that knew my mother will remember some good and some bad things. She was not well most of her life, suicidal and manic (gifts from her parents) she was hard to be around sometimes. Growing up with her was like walking on eggshells- we always knew a crack was coming. She was hardest on me. She had a great laugh and a sharp wit. She was smart. She was lost. She was broken. She was beautiful.

In retrospect, I see many lessons. Lessons about love; Don’t be jealous or petty or insecure. Lessons about parenting; be there, be there, be there. And don’t be so critical! Lessons about life; don’t waste it, it’s too short to be unhappy.

Earlier today, when I started writing this, I received a phone call from an old friend. It was an interesting phone call in that we talked about dreams (actual dreams not wants) and the power of the psyche to grab information from the universe. I didn’t mention I was writing this- but that was the direction I was going in when I sat down at this computer.

I think the best thing my mother ever gave me was my intuition. I tried to drown it when I was younger- but now I rely on it like the best friend that it is. Now when I think of someone, living or passed on, I try to send a message. I miss you, I love you. I’ll see you in my dreams.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Bubble People

Some days, I am surrounded by optimists’. Oh, not most of my friends- most of them are as crotchety as I am. But people I know. People who like bubbles and insist on happiness at all times. Frankly- they are annoying. I really can’t say I know one person who has not had some difficulty in their life. Sad events, loss of loved ones- financial woes- or all of the above. If you look at the numbers, life ain’t so rosy. Sometimes, you just have to look at the facts and acknowledge them for things to change and get better. Say it out loud. Life is shitty sometimes.

Yet we plug along- well most of us plug along. Sure- I see rainbows occasionally. I see acts of kindness for no apparent reason. I see the good stuff- and I file it. But I file the bad too. The senseless murders, wars, child abductions, mothers killing their children, friends killing friends-the permeate evil making its way around the world.

In the last few weeks numerous acts of violence have caught my eye and turned my stomach. A little 5 year old in my former home of North Carolina, was found dead in the woods. Shaniya Davis’s, mother- and I use the term mother loosely- accused of trafficking her baby for sex and an aunt refusing to believe that her sister could harm her baby. Someone must have known this woman was a crappy mother – at best. But those rose colored glasses people are so wont to wear protected the villain and not the victim- the 5 year old child whose short life must have been a living hell.

Yesterday- a friend of mine posted on facebook about a friend of his murdered in his home. The man was a former Marine and a Las Vegas police officer. He interrupted a robbery attempt standing in his own garage when he had just returned from work. Shots were fired and in the end Trevor Nettleton was dead, but his family inside the house, his wife, visiting mother and two children were safe. He was the third Las Vegas Metro Police Officer killed in 6 months.

Today, I was walking my sister’s German Shepherd. Bella is a good dog. She is wary of strangers but normally friendly. Today, Bella growled at a man on the trail and would not stop until he moved aside. My immediate reaction was to say, “No Bella, it’s okay”. I thought for a second though and realized maybe her instincts are better than mine- so instead I said “good girl”. I know the man heard me and I’m sorry if it offended him. But I would rather be sorry than dead.

People tell me I am negative- even my own son, a bit of a skeptic himself, said so last week. Maybe I am. I prefer to think of myself as a realist. Do I expect the worst from everyone? No, not really, but I am ready for it if it comes.

I believe that many of the horrible acts of crime committed are committed because people don’t want to see or get involved. I don’t know about you, but I report suspicious people in the neighborhood or suspected drunk drivers. I keep my eyes open at the grocery store, department stores, and parking lots. I don’t like surprises.

To believe the world or even any part of the world is free of malevolence is just ignorant.

It seems to me- most of the prayers for peace and goodwill go unanswered. I’m not blaming God- or Satan either. I blame people- and I blame people that won’t open their eyes and see things the way they are as well as people doing the violent, despicable acts.

If you think keeping a smile on your face and ignoring the hatred and vile incidents humankind is capable of will make the evil disappear- you are wrong. But…the 10 % of me that is optimistic wishes you were right.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just Say Thanks

These last two Veterans Days have been a little different for me. I’ve always admired our military heroes, the men and women who have sacrificed their time, energy and some- their limbs and life to serve our country. I have always thanked them for their service when given the opportunity or lent a helping hand when I was able.

The faces of veterans are changing though. Beside a craggy-faced sixty- something from the Vietnam War, or octogenarian- plus from WW2, are twenty-three and thirty year olds. While many of their friends were in school having keg parties, most of our new veterans were in Iraq or Afghanistan serving their country. My own son is twenty-four years old and a combat veteran.

What I have learned since my son and the son’s and daughter’s of my friends became Inactive Reserve Status, is with the end of their military career; where staying alive was a primary concern, often comes new problems. From PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), physical disabilities and mapping the VA bureaucracy, to finding jobs, translating rifleman or tow-gunner to a resume, dealing with people that don’t know how to work as a team or how to give it their all; or finally mourning their losses. Being a veteran can be hard work. Many of them find it difficult to function in a world where there are so few rules. Some of them need help.

I thought when my son got out of the Marine Corps people would line up to hire him. Who wouldn’t want a man that could work four or five days in a row with no sleep? Or make decisions with bullets flying at his head, or someone that had never called in sick? I was surprised and disappointed to find that some applications wouldn’t allow him to include his military status or history. He decided to go back to school instead of explain the four-year gap in work history to people who didn’t care.

This Veterans Day I salute and thank all veterans that ever served our great country. I realize now, they were all once young and somebody's children.

For more information on how you can support the troops and our veterans, visit my website

And if you get a chance- just say thank you – it means the world to those who have served.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Russian River Summers

My mother was a sun worshiper. Every summer she would pack us up and take us to Russian River for however long she could afford. Sometimes a week sometimes two, if we ever stayed a month I don’t remember.

When I think back now it really wasn’t much of a vacation for her. She still cooked up a storm and still had to clean up after us. Then as we got older, it got easier in some ways and harder in others.

We usually stayed at the Hi-Tone Motel. My mother’s cousin Tony Luchessi owned and operated the motel with his wife and son, Isabel and Rich. We all loved Uncle Tony. He was an affectionate Italian who never appeared to be anything but happy. Tony built a house in the back of the property, overlooking the kidney shaped pool, and we stayed in the house. There were four of us kids, my brother John, sisters Linda and Angie, me, my mom and alternating fathers- old and new, visiting when they could.

The stories generally swirl around my head in no chronological order. I’m sure sometimes I mess up the years in a roughly ten-year time span of my early life. But certain incidents I recall as clear as a bell.

We always had cousins or people who my mom said were cousins at the motel and all over Russian River. All the adults were called auntie and uncle- although to this day I don’t know if half of them were actually related to us- even though I do remember that most of them were Italian.

I got my very first and last spanking from my dad in Russian River at “Uncle Bob’s house. My dad had brought my sister Linda, his new sister in law Carol and me to Bob’s house for a weekend. I was about seven years old and when Linda and Carol, both 12 and nearly 12, got to go off without me. I threw a tantrum. My dad took me to the bathroom, put me over his knee, and gave me two or three whacks on my butt. I was used to my mom’s swift backhands, but my dad had never hit me. I don’t think I talked to him the rest of our time there. I held grudges when I was young.

The Hi-Tone Motel was located on Old River Road, halfway between downtown Rio Nido and downtown Guerneville. There was nothing much to do when we were there other than bother Uncle Tony who frequently gave me jobs like cleaning the pool ring with Ajax cleanser and a cloth or helping Aunt Isabel make pizza for the gang. I got to put the salami on the dough. Occasionally my brother and I would go play pee-wee golf but most of the time I just wanted to swim. My mom once told me that the year I taught myself to dive I spent 8 hours one day just diving. My stomach and face were beet red from the belly flops but by the end of the day I was diving like a pro. Other times I perfected my underwater techniques, holding my breath and diving for pennies- something that would come in handy later in life.

One of the most standout days for me is when my father saved my little sister’s life. Angie was just a baby- and like all top-heavy babies, when she leaned over the deep end to look in the pool- in she went. There were several people there- all good swimmers, but none as quick and alert as my Dad. He had her scooped up so fast she never knew she was in trouble. My sister, who had a different father, always had a soft spot for my dad- I wonder if somehow she felt the cosmic connection they had.

I think it was the following year that my sister Linda became the recipient of my bad attitude then, in turn, I was the recipient of my mom’s uncontrolled rage.

I had found a puppy in the field behind us. I’m not sure if I was alone or with my brother but of course I brought the puppy back to the “cabin”. It was some kind of mutt, a ginger color with a brown muzzle and he or she took right to me. I can no longer remember how I or we convinced my mother to let us keep the puppy. Maybe she was just too tired to fight me knowing I would never give up when it came to a dog. The pup however, made a mistake when later he pooped in the house. My sister Linda told me I had to clean it up. Well I didn’t think that was part of the deal I guess- or maybe I just didn’t like Linda telling me what to do. Eventually I got some newspaper and picked up the poop – and just to have the last word- pretended to throw it at Linda. “Here” I said. Unfortunately- for the pup- and me the runny poop went flying off the paper and hit Linda right in the neck. She ran screaming to my mom and I was severely punished - worse than the crime called for. And the pup was sent elsewhere. I’m sure I hated Linda and my mom for the rest of that summer vacation.

The following summer was a bad one too. I can’t remember what my mom’s marital status was at the time. I am guessing split up from my stepdad for one reason or another. She was a head turner and never let moss grow under her feet in-between men. So that summer she was dating someone younger than her and I remember even at eleven years old thinking he was very good looking. When she went out on her date-I had a total melt down. I’m not sure what it was about- but if I were to guess now it would be I felt unloved. I decided to steal the car and go for a ride. Well I guess I had trouble starting it or maybe getting it out of the driveway. My Uncle Tony took the keys and then I really flipped out- and then some Aunt- whose name I don’t remember- was smart enough to take over and instead of fighting with an eleven year old- took me out for a malt. I remember talking to her- telling her my problems whatever they were. She was warm and compassionate – calmed me down and in retrospect- I think she may have had a chat with my mom because I was never punished for trying to take the car.

The next summer was my best. I had my first two-piece bathing suit and even a little something to put in it. My “cousin” Patrick was there and he was the cutest boy I had ever seen. He had blond hair, beautiful green eyes and a golden boy tan. I don’t know how old he was but I think about sixteen. I followed him everywhere. He would be downstairs in his room reading comic books at night- and I would just go sit in his room- just to be near him was enough for me.

One sunny day when we were all at the pool and Patrick was actually paying attention to me, I postponed going upstairs to the rest room just as long as I could- my bladder was bursting. When I finally did go up there I was in a big hurry- and started tugging my bottoms off on the way into the dark cabin bathroom. I sat my fanny down on the toilet seat without a thought- and all of a sudden, something big I mean BIG hit my privates. I put the seat down and tried to flush while pulling my drawers up as fast as I could- and screaming to the top of my lungs. I could hear the thing hitting the top of the toilet seat and my screams grew louder and drew attention. My cousin Patrick, Uncle Tony, mom, sister and brother all came running. When I told my Uncle and Patrick what happened they thought it must have been a bird. So off they went to rescue the bird. Then I heard a yelp come out of one of them and my Uncle Tony swearing something in Italian. It turned out Mothra was living in the toilet. If you remember the Japanese horror film of the giant moth you will know what I am talking about. That moth was so big it would not flush. My Uncle said it was the size of a small bird. I was molested by Mothra, but saved by my heroes. That summer erased all the bad ones.

I don’t know why we stopped going to Russian River. Maybe because Linda got married - maybe because we moved to Marin and we didn’t need to be in search of the sun anymore. Or maybe Uncle Tony got too old and sold the business. Whatever the reason I’m glad I have the memories. I remember my mom looking voluptuous and beautiful in her black bathing suit on her bronze body and her fancy sunglasses, turning heads in her convertible. I remember my sister Linda with her perfect figure and her thick brown wavy hair, going to Rio Nido to the dances where she would probably break a few hearts. I remember my brother Johnny following Uncle Tony around with tools in hand- helping fix things. And my sister Angie, in her little bathing suit bending over the pool and tumbling in or me playing with her in the shallow end for hours at a time. And I remember me- practicing swimming and diving and holding my breath- as if my life depended on it. Maybe it did.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dream Lover

Once in a while, people, like my family and friends ask me: “ Don’t you ever get lonely-alone all the time?” My answers vary. The truth is… sometimes I do get lonely. But not so much that I would settle for less than what I need or want in a companion.

I sure wouldn’t mind someone to eat dinner, go to a movie or talk about a good books with, who could rub my back too. But the truth is- writing is my lover. Writing is what obsesses me and makes me happy or sad. It drives me to get up in the morning and stay up late so I don't miss too many hours of an already too short day.

Today I am cleaning house… but here I am. I’m taking a break because I have no less than five stories going through my head today. I can’t turn them off. Like a bothersome lover who needs some attention- I must stop everything and do what I do before he will leave me alone. I don’t really mind though- because I love to write.

Ego aside-(which is hard to do for a writer) I think I was born to write. Not that I think I am particularly good at it- I think I’m fair. I just have a need to sit down and put words on paper. They don’t have to be my words. The words can belong to any character. I don’t have to believe all these words or live by them. They are just there- wanting to be somewhere else. Sometimes they are my words and I do live by them. But that’s a different kind of writing- like today- a purge- so I can get back to real life or what you call real life.

When people ask me what I write- I tell them anything and everything. Some days I write recipes or silly children’s rhymes, other days I write literary fiction and sometimes letters to strangers. It doesn’t really matter to me. I just need to do it. The same goes for reading- although I am less fervent now then 20 years ago, if there is nothing for me to read I will read the cereal box, the cleanser can and whatever else these old eyes can make out. I read junk mail.

My days consist of fleeting moments of reality that interrupt my fantasy world of characters with annoying regularity. Logically I know I can’t stay in character so I have silent conversations like the crazy ladies of Market St. in San Francisco. I’m in my own little world.

I try to keep myself together. I pretend to be normal. Sometimes I catch someone looking at me in a flirty way and I think wow, he must be desperate. Still though- it brightens my day to know I can still turn a head now and then- even if that head belongs on a 70 year old.

This romance with words has taken a toll on me though. It’s not like I don’t know that. I have aged. I am wrinkled, fat and a bit cantankerous. I’m really only happy when I have finished writing something. If I still smoked- I would light up a cigarette every time I finished writing something.

So, if I were to meet someone today- he would have to take a back seat to my real lover. He would have to be smart, secure and have a great sense of humor. He would have to love all my flaws and ever so gently tell me when I wrote something crappy. He would have to be patient while I flipped and flopped on thought process and when I stayed up all night researching the life of a snail or trying to find out who is in charge of dispensing toiletries to Marine recruits. Honestly- I would find me to be a pain in the ass.

Now, maybe I can go back to cleaning for a bit. This is how days get away from me. Just like this.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Don’t Change A Hair For Me…

I can no longer count how many boyfriends I had that I tried to fix or change before I came to the realization that you can’t or shouldn’t try to change anyone. We fall in love with who we fall in love with – we fix them and then we throw them away because they are too boring, too stiff, too lazy, too old, too immature or the worst- unfixable.

In the beginning, everything is great, right? “Oh he watches the game every Sunday so I’m free all day to do what I please.” Then your birthday lands on a Sunday. Uh-oh. He is a slug, he doesn’t get it. “But I always watch the game on Sunday.” He laments. “It’s MY BIRTHDAY you buffoon.” And so, the end begins. We know what he is made of don’t we?

I learned to make meals that coincided perfectly with half time for my old boyfriend Jim. A gourmet meal and a quick dessert could all be handled on those precious game days if one knew how to play the game. Halftime was MINE although he certainly benefited from it.

But football, basketball, boxing, and even slow poke baseball was never the only problem. How about the toilet seat? I was raised in a home where the rule was the toilet seat was put down- and no one and I mean no one, ever dared miss the toilet. I remember my first time spending the night at a boyfriend’s house and getting up in the middle of the night and falling into the toilet because I was expecting a seat to be there. I can’t imagine my dad or stepdad ever making that mistake. I’m sure my brother put the seat down too. It was after all, the way a gentleman was taught back then. My son and I just had this conversation the other day. He too puts the toilet seat down and is surprised that people are surprised by it. His father does not. Needless to say; his father and I are not together. (MS Word doesn’t even like the word gentleman in that sentence- that should tell us all something.)

So sports and toilet seats and let’s see what’s next. Oh yes. The way you look at other women. WHY do you look at other women at all? Why are you such a dumb ass that you get caught ogling skinny 18 year olds? Who by the way think you are disgusting.

And could you please not talk to the waitress so much and if you must, please look at her face and not her boobs? That would be nice.

While we are on the other women category. Why have you kept the letters your stupid, 15 year old girlfriend wrote you in high school? You are 60 now. I’m sure she no longer thinks she will love you till the day she dies and hopes you feel the same. (Yes, I read them. The poor thing could not even spell. ) (If you actually married the same 15 year old and are still married then good call on saving those letters.)

I want to thank you too for the wonderful birthday present you gave me. Yes, those tickets to Super Bowl Sunday were wonderful. Do you mind if I take my friend Patti? She is a big fan of … what is the name of the team again? No card, no flowers? No problem. I’ll freeze my ass off and have beer spilled on me, what could be more romantic?

Now, I know there are women who love this stuff. And I have to admit I have fallen into that trap too. If you want to spend time with your guys you find ways to do it. But here is an interesting fact. I have a female friend who is athletic. She runs, swims, bikes, and jumps off high places into water. Her husband does not. Just a little something to think about.

Would it matter to me now if you talk to the waitresses boobs? I guess I would be glad you could still see them. I haven’t been able to test that one out lately.

I watch my sister Linda with her guy Frank. He is an old Casanova although a loyal old dog to her, and she could care less about his past or his occasional flirts. He does his thing, she does hers and they meet up most everyday for dinner. She takes vacations without him and he actually has time to miss her. And the reverse is true too. I don’t know if Frank puts the seat down or not. I hope so because Linda is so tiny she would fall all the way in! It doesn’t matter though- because they have actually reached the point in their life when they can say. Don’t change a hair for me… and mean it.

So I guess you are wondering what brought this up? Me being single and all. I was thinking that if I met anyone now- I would not pretend to like anything I didn’t like. Conversely, I would not try to change anyone either. (Except the toilet seat MUST go back down if for no other reason the dogs will drink out of it). My standards are higher now. So the chances of me actually meeting someone are much slimmer. But just in case- I think I will not change a hair for them. If you know what I mean.

** Other than mentioning my old boyfriend Jim, and Nick’s father Jon, this is about no one in particular, but bits and pieces of more than a few guys in my life. Jim has passed away and Jon still does not put the seat down.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Health Reform- Update

Yesterday, I had a pleasant, completely unexpected experience that I would like to share with you.

Do you remember back a few blogs where I was lamenting the lack of health insurance I have and trying to figure out if indeed “socialized” medicine would be worth a crap or not? Well I have to admit I did suffer a pre-conceived notion of what I thought it would be about- although still- thinking long lines and tons of paperwork were better than the nothing I have right now.

My preconceived notion was a little more than long lines though. It goes like this. I am in a line of sneezing and coughing undocumented folks who are chattering away in their native tongues, wiping the noses of their rheumy little children with their hands because nothing else is available. I am purposely not mentioning what the native tongue would be because here in the bay area it could be just about anything. It does not matter. I pictured gray or yellowed white walls, the outside of which are covered in graffiti, the inside with windows no one can see out of, facing a field of debris dumped by loving Novatoans no longer concerned with not being litter-bugs.

I pictured shaky alcoholic doctors, bitchy intake people and haggard nurses.

I hurt my neck a few weeks ago, probably shortly after I wrote my piece on Health Care Reform, perhaps from being slapped around so much because of it! In any case, still broke and hurting quite a lot, I bit the bullet and googled “health care no insurance Marin County”. What I found was Marin Community Clinics. and this is what I read: “Marin Community Clinics is a vital link for thousands of uninsured and low-income women, men and children in Marin who cannot afford health insurance or private health care.” Well, I thought- that would be me.

I called. My first surprise is that they said they could take me the following day. They told me my appointment was at 3:30 but please come at 2:30 to fill out the appropriate forms. Bring check stubs or 2 years tax returns. The woman I spoke to was more than pleasant. She was down right cheerful.

I brought my paltry check stubs and showed up 2:25. The first thing that struck me was the outside of the building was not a disaster. It was painted and well kept. There was plenty of parking and minimal litter. (less than the Safeway parking lot)

The inside was a very pleasant surprise. First, it was not crowded at all. There were maybe seven people waiting- in a very spacious room that could easily have held 50.

The intake people were mostly Hispanic women. They were professional, helpful, sweet and genuinely concerned about my neck. They handed me 5 forms to fill out. The same as any doctor office. HIPPA form, medical history, emergency contacts, why am I there? It did not take me an hour to complete the forms. They copied my check stubs and figured out what I would owe on a sliding scale. They practically apologized because I would have to pay 50.00. I paid, they said sit and they will call me. I sat for less than 5 minutes and heard my name.

I was seen by a PA, named Rose Mary A. She was professional and compassionate. After hearing my symptoms, she was inclined to think I needed x-rays to rule out disk damage. Meanwhile, she ordered an injection for pain (an anti-inflammatory) and some pills. She gave me a neck brace. I have yet to go get the x-ray or pick up the meds because that will be more money and the well has run dry until Tuesday, but I will then.

When the nurse came in with my shot I asked her if it was going in my neck. She laughed out loud “No way!” she said! Whew, I thought.

On my way out the door, I met the Physician on duty. He was young enough to be my son but very pleasant and clearly without the ego that most Marin County doctors who I have met carry around with them. And he was good looking too.

Overall, I have to say the whole experience- even the shot received with no pain involved, was pleasant. On a scale of 1-10 as medical visits go, I would say a 10.

If this is a glimpse of what we could do with non-profit medical centers then I have to say they will get my vote. (And I recognize it could go south if run improperly)

All you naysayers who beat the crap out of me last time I came to this conclusion on this subject, if you would like my vote to be otherwise- send a check. I would love to get my x-rays before Tuesday next week, as I sit here now neck in brace, trying to figure out which way I can hold my head that will cause the least amount of pain.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Banner Year

Nineteen-hundred and sixty- two was a banner year for me. I made it to the double-digit age, the magic 10, I was almost attacked by an aggressive German Shepherd, I helped catch a bad guy, I found my way home from four miles away in the San Francisco maze of streets, I learned a little about human anatomy, almost lost an eye and my dad helped solve a famous murder.
About three weeks into my fifth grade school year, my brother and I were playing or fighting and running down the hall in our new home in stocking feet on hardwood floors. I lost my footing and slid face first into the door jam between the rooms where I was trying to make my turn. By the time my mother picked me up off the floor, my eye had swollen shut and was protruding out and inch. She took me to Alemany Emergency where her mother had died from a car accident when my mom was eight years old. A drunk driver had run a stop sign on New Years Day. She didn’t want to be there, I remember her telling my step dad how she hated that place but she was scared I would lose my eye if she didn’t get me to the closest emergency room. I didn’t lose my eye, but I saw everything with a yellow haze for about a year (after I was finally able to open my eye at all) and my teacher at Longfellow paraded me around to all her teacher buddies like a circus act. It was quite grotesque. I had a lump on my eyebrow into my late twenties.
My brother Johnny, his friend Chuck, and I got lost in San Francisco when my dad dropped us off at Larsen Park one day. When he wasn’t there on time to pick us up I led the three of us on the four mile trek back to my moms house. I remember not really knowing where I was going, but pretending I did. We walked down streets I recognized but probably didn’t know their names. Past pastel stucco homes with carriage garage doors, and those great wide stair banisters I used to like to slide down. My brother Johnny, would have been about seven years old then. He never once complained about walking four miles on his crooked little legs. That kid was tough. I think that was the beginning of my bent towards leadership. Those two boys followed my lead, never once doubting I would get us home. Afterwards, I was damn proud of myself. A confidence building moment in time, which would both, help and hurt me throughout my life.
My dad was mad when he finally caught up with us. I guess he thought a ten year old would stand there and wait. I guess he didn’t know me very well.
My mom’s house was at the very top of a long street in San Francisco. From Geneva St. it was all up hill. Technically we were in Daly City, but a block away was San Francisco. My brother and I walked to school everyday, down Pope St. to Hanover then Lowell to Morse where Longfellow Elementary stood. Hanover St was always a little scary. There was a house on a corner lot that had three or four big German Shepherds tied up outside who would go crazy when we walked by. Growling and pulling at their ropes; as much as I loved dogs, I always sensed danger at that house.
One day one of them got loose and I wanted to run but Johnny stood perfectly still so I stayed with him. The dog charged us, growled and then wrapped his mouth around Johnny’s thigh, and still the only thing that kid moved was his big eyes when he looked at me for help. The dog never bit down. He scared the crap out of us though. We walked away very slowly, barely breathing. As soon as we were out of dog sight we ran like crazy all the way to school. We got in trouble for being late and when I told them what happened they didn’t believe me. My dad did though. I never saw the dogs outside again. I’m pretty sure some uniformed officer knocked on their door. I often wonder now, how Johnny knew not to move. Sometimes he just knew things.
One of my favorite things of all time was when my dad picked me up in the paddy wagon. The paddy wagon was originally a detention van used to pick up and transport criminals, drunks mostly, converted to a Crime Scene Mobile Unit. But they didn’t use terms like that back then. It was just “the wagon”. He came to school in the wagon because he was working on a case about a half a block away. My dad was a San Francisco Homicide Investigator and the case he caught was a big one. I say he caught it, but I think every investigator in the department was on that case. The Iva and Ralph Kroeger case was front-page news. The house where they murdered Mr. and Mrs. Arneson was less than a block from my school. On this particular day when my dad came by school to pick me up, he had a big gash across his rather large nose. When I asked what happened he told me he was investigating a case and when he had gone to the basement a piece of wire was strung across the stairs and caught him in the nose. He wore the scar the rest of his life. That same basement was where they found the murdered couple.
While my dad worked his case- I worked a case of my own. Behind my moms house, high up on the hill butting up against San Bruno Mountain and the Geneva Drive in Theater, was a street called Bellevue. Because there were only homes on one side of the street and the theater on the other, we often played ball on that street. All of us kids, my brother, his buddy Chuck, and the Kellogg kids (there were tons of them) would play kick ball for hours. Sometimes we would hang out or build forts on the empty lots. One day one of the Kellogg kids noticed a man in the window and said he was naked. We all looked. I think I may have been the only one that didn’t really see anything. I saw him standing there, but I didn’t see what everyone else was seeing. Never-the-less, we all ran home to tell our parents.
The uniformed police came to our house to take a report.One of them told me he knew my dad. I remember them asking me if I could help them. Of course I could! They asked us to play out in front of the man’s house again. We didn’t have to look up they said. They would be there watching. The first few evenings nothing happened, but then- finally he appeared in all his glory. I remember running home, my face flushed from the foggy San Francisco evening and the excitement of helping the police. I hoped my dad would be proud, I wanted to be just like him.
Some weeks later, my cousins, actually they were my cousins, cousins, Trudy, Toot, Bubby and I were walking down Geneva St. to go to the Excelsior Theater. My stepdad was working at the Italian American Social Club on Russia St. at the time, about a block away from the theater. I can’t remember now, who was the first to notice the man walking behind us but it didn’t take us long to figure out he was exposing himself to us. We screamed and ran the block to Russia St. My step dad was busy working so he called my Nan to come get us. I don’t remember if he had any consoling words for us or if he even believed us. I do remember he gave us cokes and let us sit at the bar. I always liked doing that.
Nan was like our grandmother but in truth, she was my mother’s aunt. Nan had bleached blond hair, a whiskey voice, and an old San Francisco accent that many people mistook for New York. She smoked Viceroy cigarettes and talked “carny talk” with my mom. That was their secret language when they wanted to talk about things kids shouldn’t hear. They spoke so fast I thought it was Italian. She came by the house every night to tuck us in and tell us a bedtime story when my older sister and I were little. Now, since we were older she would just stop by and visit whenever she could.
When Nan picked us up, we told her what happened. She was not a bit surprised. “That was just a dickie shaker” she said. “It happens once in a while.” There was no horror, no lectures, no Catholic guilt. We weren’t scared for life by the little penis he held in his gnarled little hand. In fact, she had us joking about it by the time we got home. Nan was not afraid of much.
My Dad’s case went on for quite a while. His investigation took him to the two places he knew best in life- San Francisco and Santa Rosa. The murdered couple was from Santa Rosa the murderers from San Francisco. The search for Iva lasted a quite a while, then she was spotted in San Diego and brought back to San Francisco to be tried along with her husband, for murder.
That year, my dad taught me how to dust for fingerprints and transfer them to the special paper they had. He taught me about phrenology, no longer used today but I still keep that information in the back of my mind; and how to pay attention to people and my surroundings. He also taught me how to walk. Long strides he would tell me. If you are going to take long walks, use long strides and save your energy. I guess he knew me after all.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

An Unmade Bed

Last night at dinner my daughter in law pointed out that my shirt was on inside out. It had been that way for a few hours and for my trip to the store where once again I was tripped up thinking people were looking at me because I was cute. No… just loopy.

I am like an unmade bed. I am rumpled and messed, lumpy and lopsided. My whole life is like this. When I get up in the morning my bed looks like three people sleep in it. Covers are on the floor, books and/or magazines are everywhere, sometimes there are cookie crumbs. Usually three of the six pillows are on the floor too, sometimes landing on my old dog who lies next to my bed. If not in his crate, my little dog is next to me somewhere, sometimes under whatever cover is still on the bed, sometimes on a pillow like the king. Middle dog got tired of pillows and books landing on him and legs kicking him long ago. He sleeps somewhere safe.

I get up and feed animals, grab my coffee and stagger back to my messy room. Sometimes I try to straighten the bed. Sometime I wait for my coffee to kick in. My clothes are scattered about. I do hang them up… but they always come back to the bench, the dresser, the floor. I don’t know how that happens.

I shower, brush teeth, apply makeup and fix my hair. I never look in the mirror again. My hair is long and thick, really, thick, still-I never run another brush through my hair all day. Sometimes at work, I tie it in a knot and hold it up with a pencil. When I remove the pencil it just falls where it will. When my son is around, he will remind me. Mom- Hair. Mom- lipstick. I just forget. It’s not that I’m not vain- I surely am. I just forget. Sometimes on weekends, I forget to brush my hair until bedtime.

My kitchen counters are cluttered. Coffee pot, toaster, mixer, Buddha, bills, coupons, Lysol, doggie meds, syringes, soaps, cleaning supplies, cleaning supplies, cleaning supplies. In spite of my clutters, I have a phobia about germs.

My office is the worst. It’s the toss it in there room. I recently straightened it out. I hauled two large garbage bags of papers out. Copies of stories, printed and reprinted while I comb for errors that I will inevitably miss anyway. Another dead tree with my name on it.

My brain is scattered. Throughout the day I will have conversations in my head. Or, I should say my characters will have conversations in my head. I use their voices. I say things just like they would. Male, female, animal… it matters not. In North Carolina I used to walk in the woods and have out loud conversations. The woods aren’t as convenient here.

Sometimes when people are talking to me, I’m not really listening. I am hearing my characters instead. It’s messy. I always have to say- I’m sorry, what was that you said? Sometimes my sister Angie catches me. Are you there? She asks.

Once in a while I think: what if I get hit by a car and someone has to go through my stuff? Then I clean. I clean drawers and fold everything nice. I toss old scraps of crap I can’t remember why I saved in the first place. I would hate for my sisters to be going through my stuff and saying to each other- wow she was more disturbed then I thought. My son would understand. He is the same- without the germ phobia. But he would be days on end trying to make sense of my scribbles and scrawls, my meaningless doodles.

I have friends who are neat and orderly. My friend Diane packs a suitcase that looks like she had an engineer draw up plans for. Honestly. I know her cabinets are organized. I’ve never seen them because she lives in Texas-I just know it. Her hair is always neat too. Her clothes are not wrinkled or inside out either. My sister Linda spends hours getting her hair perfect or cleaning and organizing. She even gets paid to organize people. My sister Angie has perfect closets. She straightens her shoes. I just toss mine in and close the door quick, well occasionally anyway, when I put them away at all. Most of my friends are normal to neat. Why they like messy me I couldn’t say.

My mind goes from one subject to another without my permission. Research always takes me on a road trip with no map. I like it this way though. I like my brain hopping all over the place and looking for answers to questions I haven’t asked yet. It is messy, I know. But I think it has to be this way. I imagine some would say that sloppiness and creativity do not have to go hand in hand. And I agree. But...maybe for me - not being all about the material helps open up space for some creativity and crazy stuff that would not find it's way to me if I were busy matching socks.

I am like an unmade bed. But I am comfortable.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Health Care Reform or Not?

I have been noticing the past few weeks that lots of my facebook family and friends have been taking the online poll regarding heath care reform. I haven’t tallied up the score but I have noticed that folks are very clear- yes or no- even though there is a maybe option. The only person I saw that was brave enough to be undecided was my cousin Linda. (Good for you!)
I don’t know how everyone became so clear, when no really has all the facts. Of course, it looks like it’s divided down party lines, and the political rhetoric of both the left and the right is mimicked perfectly in the comment sections.
That’s what was bothering me originally. I couldn’t hear any voices- just politicians and talk show hosts.

So, I started thinking… and that led to a little homework… which led to more questions.

I am going to try to lay this out- the facts and figures I have gathered, so that it makes sense to everyone. (no easy task given the mumbo jumbo I am digging through. )

So I think the BIG divide consists of these questions:
Is health care reform socialistic?
Will tax payers pay for everything?
Will the government decide who lives and who dies?
Will companies be fined if they don’t offer insurance?

One question at time folks. First, though- let me tell you where I am coming from. My personal perspective-
I belong to neither the left nor the right of political parties. I am independent. I am one of those people who need to know the facts before I make a declaration. I am open- minded and usually able to see both sides of an argument. I am decisive- so I cut through the crapola and sugar coat nothing.
I am a 57 year old white, middle class woman who has not made much money in last two years. As an independent contractor, I paid my own health insurance the last four years until the beginning of this year when I had to drop it. It was crappy anyway- my last complete exam cost me about 2K out of pocket. I have preexisting conditions that won’t kill me and will never qualify for disability but will keep my premiums high and my pharmacy at rite-aid busy. I am about 40-50% deaf in both ears. I wear (2) hearing aids which I paid cash for- 3995.00. The life span of good hearing aids is about four years if the dogs don’t eat them.
I am currently employed- my employer does not offer health insurance or pay me enough to buy my own insurance and groceries too.
Of all the different health coverage’s I have had in my life, my favorite was Kaiser Permanente. The doctors were the best, the wait the shortest, copay the lowest and prescriptions were free or 5.00. My pregnancy, C-section and 5 days in the hospital cost me 60.00. Granted, that was 25 years ago but the going rate then for that particular pregnancy would have been about 8-10 grand and probably 40,000 today.
Okay- so here I am wondering if health reform is a good thing or a bad thing. I see all my buddies have already decided so why haven’t I?
Right off the bat- my gut tells me we need reform. Few can afford to go to the doctor. ONE gauze bandage in the hospital can cost 14.95. An overnight stay in the hospital- just for the bed... no meds, no Band-Aids…can be 700-1000 dollars per night.

Okay- on to the meat.
Tax payers are afraid they will pay for this. Guess what? You (and I) already do. 27 years ago when my brother was in motorcycle accident with no health insurance- the taxpayers foot the bill for his 100 plus days that he lingered in a coma, his brain surgery, his eye surgery, his ICU stay (over 2 months)… oh yeah- the helicopter ride from Nowhereville to Santa Rosa Memorial and the ambulance ride to the “rehab” hospital where he died 3 weeks later. I never thanked you fellow taxpayers- so thank you on behalf of my family.
Okay- nothing has changed there- we taxpayers still pay for uninsured everything.
Who decides who will live and who will die now? Well… it sort of depends but mostly for this conversation –right now, it’s the insurance companies. And I do mean some (hopefully) high school graduate who may or may not be intelligent and who for practical purposes is an order entry clerk. They have no medical background at all. They input some information- and their program kicks back a reply. There is no case by case. You actually have a better shot with the government because they would be given new guidelines for deciding treatment options.

Will individual people be fined if they have no health insurance?
Well this is as confusing as it gets. As of this moment in time- nothing is in cement. BUT it looks like yes small businesses with a payroll of 500,000 would indeed be fined under the current proposal.
According to an article “Proposed Health Insurance Fine Puts Small Businesses In A Fix” By PETER BENESH an Investors Business Daily news analyst. “The penalty would start at 2% of payroll and increase with payroll size. The maximum penalty would be 8% of payroll for firms whose annual outlay for wages and salaries is $750,000 or more.”

“According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 46 million Americans, or 18 percent of the population under the age of 65, were without health insurance in 2007, their latest data available.
A recent study shows that based on the effects of the recession alone (not job loss), it is projected that nearly seven (7) million Americans will lose their health insurance coverage between 2008 and 2010. 3 Urban Institute researchers estimate that if unemployment reaches 10 percent, another six (6) million Americans will lose their health insurance coverage. Taking these numbers together, it is conceivable that by next year, 57 to 60 million Americans will be uninsured”
Last but not least… is health care reform socialistic?
Socialism is definitely an economic philosophy, which believes capitalism, is not fair. With emphasis on health insurers that have taken advantage and helped set prices for health care that almost no one can afford I think Pres. Obama’s plan might include a government run health care system that would probably work as well as the Veterans Administration.(yes that well)

I think … for what it’s worth: there is a solution somewhere in between socialism or government run facilities who know nothing about medicine and greedy insurance companies who also know nothing about medicine. I think, they can use successful models, like Kaiser for instance and have affordable health care for all. Yes, some will pay more than others- larger groups higher discounts, lower co pays.
Some things need to change though. Somehow, hospitals and medical offices need to manage their costs. Medical suppliers need to play ball. EVERYONE needs to help.

The President says he can find money in Medicare and I believe him. I have seen redundancies for years in that program and I am getting close enough in age to be worried about it. I could personally walk into any government run office right now, and save them a butt load of money in printed materials and Xerox copies alone. And accounting is not even my forte.

I have inserted several websites I read and loosely quoted a paragraph or two. I tried to find a GOP website with facts and figures as opposed to editorials- to no avail. I will keep looking. I know- there has to be something out there.

If any of this has helped anyone that is undecided- then good. My intention was never to change minds- I just couldn’t help but think maybe someone else was as confused as me about the facts. I am open for discussion and please feel free to let me know what I missed.

Meanwhile, I am going to take my aching feet that need a doctor for a pedicure and hope that before I am completely crippled I can buy my own insurance. It would be nice if I didn’t have to worry about when I can afford to go to the doctor next.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thinking about BaMa

My Great-Grandmother Katie, has been on my mind a lot lately. I’m not sure why. Usually when people are on my mind so much or if I dream about them, I call them or email, but those no longer with me… just keep bugging me until I hear what they are trying to say.

I had a special bond with my Bama. Besides being named after her- I was told all my life I looked just like her. Now- today at 57, I look at my hands and see hers, age spots in the same places and in the mirror, the wrinkles on my face bring her face into view. She was tall and lean though, where I am short and not so lean. She was 5’9 and maybe 140 pounds, she had an athlete’s body.

Katherine Niemann was a tough German woman who came to this country in 1906 when she was seventeen; all by herse
lf. Her first job here was in an insane asylum in Sonoma, cleaning, I think. She met my Great Grandfather John there-- he was a young carpenter at the time.
She was intelligent and independent. She taught herself English on the boat coming over. I still have the book she used with her notes in German and then later in English. When my Great-Grandfather became a San Francisco Policeman, they moved to San Francisco where she taught swimming at Sutro Baths. Eventually, she opened her own bakery/store in the Geneva-Mission district. (The same area my mother's people lived). Her brother, Willie Niemann owned the Buena Vista Café, now famous for their Irish coffee.
She was brutally frank. Not unlike myself. She made no bones about letting someone know if she did not like them. Later in life, her sharp tongue kept her family away. She could read my mind too. She always knew what I was thinking. She had a way of telling me things that made sense to me.
She had two sons. Will, my grandfather who died when I was about 2 and Ben, my Uncle who I loved to death. Bama, was the one that told me- “The worst thing that can ever happen to parent is to have their child die first.” I never forgot her words or the teary eyes that spoke them- 10 years after her son had died.

Kate raised my father. One story is, my grandfather was a ner’do’well and his wife was not able to support a baby- so they gave the baby to my Great-Grandmother. Another is they paid them off to get the baby and that my Great-grandfather bullied the situation. Either of those or none of them could be true. In any case- my
grandfather was not a very responsible guy and I think he was an alcoholic too. Still- he was her favorite. Later my dad was her favorite. She called him a schmoozer. She knew he manipulated her- but she didn’t care.

When my Great-Grandfather left her for another woman, my father was about three years old and she was probably about 50. She lived in a big corner house on 46th Ave. In San Francisco and rented out rooms. She took care of herself.

She received something like 800.00 in her divorce. She eventually remarried, the kindest man in the world- Papa Carl. He bought her the house she always wanted- with lots of land to garden, have chickens, trees and a place to sit in the shade under the gra
pe vines.

When she was in her 70’s she was stricken with breast cancer. She had the breast removed and came home 4 days later to tend her farm. Papa Carl was already gone. She was alone. She asked me if I wanted to see her scar. I shook my head yes even though I was afraid to see it. She took off her shirt and showed me he gapeing hole that was once her chest and underarm. She was stitched from under her arm towards her back to the front middle of her stomach. They was no plastic surgery for 70 something women in those days. She sat down at her sewing machine and removed the pocket, which was always on the left side of all her shirts and moved it to the right. She stuffed that pocket everyday with a fresh handkerchief to fill the gap and make her look even.

Bama told me all about dreams. I believe she had prophetic dreams that would disturb her for days at a time. She had a tendency to believe in the odd and occult- things like rubbing a dead persons hand on a wart would make it disappear. Thankfully we never tried that one on my wart.

Her medicine cabinet was full of Bengay, Mercurochrome, and Colgate products. I can still smell her Bengay. She taught me to bake, cook some German food and sew. She taught me to garden- though I never was as good as she. I learned how beautiful a birds song is when I sat at the kitchen table eating my homemade jam on homemade bread listening to her German canaries make music. Sometimes I would just sit with Papa Carl and watch him play solitaire and listen to the birds.

She lived through two world wars, Korea and Vietnam. She raised two sons and one grandson. She buried one son and one husband. (no tears were shed when her ex-husband passed). She traveled from Stade, Germany to San Francisco, California all by herself. She slept through some of the 1906 earthquake until her brother ran up the hill and made her leave the flat. She thought it was a thunderstorm. She lived with German guilt most of her adult life because of Hitler. She could not watch a war movie. She was not religious but was spiritual. She slept with a baseball bat next to her bed. She saved rainwater to wash her hair and reused everything until it was no longer usable. She never left a light on and when I stayed with her she fashioned a button to a string fastened to a light switch on the lamp so when I drifted off to sleep the light would go off. She was around for horse drawn carriages and trips to the moon. She took her first airplane ride in her late 70’s. She never drove a car. She could give a cold look like no one else I have ever met- although my mother said my cold look was the same. She loved my father, my brother John and me. She was an independent woman forty years before the movement.

I like to think I am like her. The good stuff anyway.

So now, I am searching for what it is she is trying to tell me. Maybe she is just trying to say hello. But I think it’s more. Should I sew? Bake? Plant some potatoes? Should write her stories? I wish I could hear more clearly. Maybe she will tell me in a dream.

Friday, July 3, 2009

How Stupid Are We?

It’s really hard to not be upset with my fellow Americans right now. I think the majority may be morons.

There are people lined up collecting Michael Jackson memorabilia, and showing up at places his body will not be, kids who did not even know who he was, in tow… to mourn a guy that was completely fucked up. I don’t deny that he had musical talent- or that he even had altruistic tendencies. But, this was a guy who could not function in the world. Now that in itself does not make him a bad guy… but he had strange ideas about appropriate behavior with children- which he shared with the world… and apparently 75% of America was not listening. At the end of his life, he looked like Batman’s Joker and surrounded himself with nuts and sycophants. He was a very sick man and no one should be surprised by his death.

Meanwhile, I have a bunch of friends who are holding their breath waiting for word from their Marines in Afghanistan currently involved in Operation Strike of the Sword. Or worse- word from the Marine Corps officials that make those calls none of us ever want. They have to dig for news.

This morning I woke up to Michael Jackson news… at 6AM. There was not a word about the current state of affairs in Iraq or Afghanistan’s Operation Strike of the Sword. Not even a mention of the Marine killed in action, the British Lt.Col killed in action or the missing soldier. Not a word about the many wounded.

It’s easy to blame the news media… but frankly- they are in business to make money and those that aren’t in it for the money- have their political agendas and tailor the news to fit their goal. So I am going to blame the people that continue to listen to the speculation, adulation, and misplaced hero worship the news media is spouting.

How did Americans get so stupid? I’m guilty too. I do stupid stuff when I should read a book, I watch soaps, I waste time, I cyber argue with morons... but I never forget our military in harms way, or the people who have laid down their lives for our freedom or the freedom of others who don’t have the where-with-all to fight for themselves. Unfortunately- this news does not sell advertising.

Now I know- most of you that read my blog feel the same as me… so maybe this is preaching to the choir, but I had to get this off my chest… so I can get on with my day and appreciate the freedoms that some have died to ensure.