We Wear the Mask (Poetry/Reality)

Here’s my assortment of masks waiting for me on the front seat of the car.

That’s REALITY, a temporary address where I don’t really like living for any length of time, as I’d rather dwell in the realm of fairy gardens with doors that open to a gentle forest of everlasting happiness.

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How’s everyone doing with the novel Corona virus, now officially called SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2)

Are you masking up in public?

Have you been to a restaurant?

Have you or anyone you know been exposed and/or tested positive?

Are you still restricting your daily activities?

Are you still washing your hands more than ever?

Disinfection game still at a high level?

ME:
• I wear a mask whenever I go to a store. As soon as I walk outside, I take it off.
• No restaurants or bars for me.
• My DILs brother-in-law got it, was extremely sick and hospitalized, it was touch and go but he pulled through.
• I’m in the high risk demographic and haven’t/won’t attend any large gathering and I also stay well away from anyone in public.
• Still washing/disinfecting daily but to be honest, I’ve always been a clean freak, so it’s not a hardship.

Here’s the bottom line…I HATE wearing a mask but I do it to protect myself and others.
Just in case. Kind of the same reason I wear a seatbelt. Or don’t drink and drive. To protect you and me. Just in case.

It’s a small price to pay, whether or not it’s actually necessary, but doctors and medical professionals wear masks and other PPE during surgery and when they’re in the presence of patients who present potentially contagious symptoms, so why not?


Here’s POETRY.

Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote a poem about another kind of mask. He was an amazingly insightful poet.

We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
       We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
       We wear the mask!
BY  PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR

That Dreaded Call at 3:00 A.M.

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2020 Update:
I’m going to re-post an old one from 2014 because I just saw this meme that triggered a memory. There have been many other moments like this, but the one that came first to my mind was at the hospital where we waited hours for the surgeon to walk off the elevator and tell us what the hell happened to my baby boy, and IF he was going to survive. Or not. I was strong, I was calm, I didn’t cry at all in front of anyone, but at one point, I remember going to the bathroom to cry a bit in private so I wouldn’t scare DIL, and I looked at myself in the mirror and told myself that if I cried, he died, so STOP IT and I forced myself to only think positive thoughts about the outcome. I’m not one that likes the anxiety of a cliffhanger, so I’ll tell you that he DID survive AND thrive, and that’s why we now have Angel Boy 2.0 and Angel Girl 2.0. But on that day and for two months after that, every day might have been his last, and I’m grateful for his every breath. If you know me IRL, you’ll know that is a very true statement.


May 2014

free_wallpaper_of_baby_a_cute_baby_holding_a_teddy_bearThey are always our babies, no matter their age, ya know?

Right now, things have calmed down a bit. Fingers crossed, we’ve avoided a crisis of nightmare proportions…

 

…Monday 3:00 a.m., the incessant ringing of my cell jolts me awake.

I can’t find the damn phone and it stops ringing only to start again.

This time I found it buried under a pile of clean laundry.

When I saw my daughter-in-law’s name on the screen, I almost didn’t want to answer it.

Nothing good comes from a phone call at 3:00 a.m.

Nothing.

And not this time, either.

With a bad connection and dropped words, trying to hear/not wanting to hear, she told me that my son, Angel Boy, was taken to an ER in Rhode Island because of excruciating stomach pains and vomiting.

“What?” That’s all I could say. She had to repeat herself a few times and talk slowly. I wasn’t comprehending.

The pain was worsening and his belly had become distended and was filling with fluid.

The first thing you think of is appendicitis or even a burst appendix, but the tests were inconclusive.

There were other diagnoses floating around but none of the tests pointed to a specific diagnosis: gastritis, diverticulitis, colitis…

The pain was overwhelming and not responsive to morphine.

There seemed to be no other alternative than to admit him and prepare for more invasive testing.

A surgical team was hastily thrown together as exploratory surgery seemed to be the only option.

We’re in California. I’s 3:00 a.m. What do we do?

The Universe was in alignment and we were able to get the last seats on a direct flight out first thing in the morning and we arrived at the hospital in time to discuss Angel Boy’s medical condition.

Whatever it was, was serious, and needed immediate intervention.

Or. Or I won’t say, but you get the picture. OR is NOT good.

Because his belly was continuing to distend as it filled with fluid and the pain was increasing, there seemed no alternative than a laparascopy with a camera.

The head surgeon speculated about what he might find: a possible bowel obstruction AND something with his appendix.

We gave him the go ahead to fix what he saw, no matter what he found.

We all kissed him goodbye as the first pre-op drugs entered his body and the surgery commenced at 8:00 p.m.

At 10:30 the surgeon came out with a smile.

Apparently, my son had a congenital defect we were never aware of — because up until then it had never caused a problem.

An abnormal sac or pouch that develops at a weak point in the intestines is known as a diverticulum. In some instances, people are born with a diverticulum in their intestines. This condition is called Meckel’s diverticulum.

Meckel’s diverticulum develops between the 5th and 7th weeks of fetal growth.

Because the condition is present at birth, it is classified as a congenital health issue. Although it generally remains silent, life threatening complications may arise.

And they did.

It was a perfect storm of a worst case scenario.

He had a massive bowel obstruction; intestines were strangulated and all knotted up. By the time the surgery started, two feet (24 inches!!!) of intestine had lost blood supply and died, all within a time span of twelve hours. The surgeon removed the necrotic part, did a resection, including eight inches of colon and removal of his appendix.

Without this life-saving surgery, there is no doubt that this Mother’s Day would not have been. It’s anticipated that he’ll have a rapid recovery — he’s already walking around around due in large part to his overall good health and fitness level.

Now, as soon as he’s released and we can fly him back to SoCal, my Mother’s Day will be spent caring for my Angel Boy and nursing him back to health.

His future is as bright as it ever was; this was just a brief course change in a life full of joy and adventure.

P.S. The surgical team at Rhode Island Hospital were/are AMAZING. We lucked out with a guy who clearly enjoys what he does, who knew his way around this type of surgery, and explained it all to us with intelligence and humor.

 

 

Thoughts about Blogging

(An alternate title could be “Please scream inside your heart” like the signage at that theme park in Japan meant to discourage screaming on rollercoasters and reduce the spread of Covid-19.)

I’ve blogged since the summer of 2012. On one sunny day in June, my DIL told me I was really funny and I should write things down and begin to blog.

I knew nothing about blogs; never even read one, so she took the reins and opened a WordPress account for me.

That was eight years ago, as I was reminded by my WP anniversary.

At its heyday in 2014, my little blog averaged around 7,500 visits a month. For some unknown reason, my highest read posts were recipes.

After attending a BlogHer convention, I was excited and energized, ready to monetize, to grow and expand my brand and my voice.

I’ve always been a writer, especially about things that cause me to wax passionately: saving wolves, rescuing abused animals, finding humor in life from my own lens; researching and meeting and learning about all kinds of people (from Al Gore to His Holiness the Dalai Lama), reviewing cool products, and most of all, I LOVED responding to readers and comments from all over the world.

I still do. I respect and appreciate your time and the effort to reach out to a virtual stranger and engage in conversation.

Now I notice that my posts only have a handful of likes and some none at all.

My overall followers from all platforms is around 3500.

Did I lose my enthusiasm?

Nope.

I know why, I DO, but I still can’t talk about what happened except to say that if you read between the lines on certain posts, you might catch a glimpse of infinite profound sadness, more death than death because I’m still alive and breathing.

The walking dead. An episode of the Twilight Zone in real life. A literal black hole.

As I’m slowly getting back into the rhythm and comfort of writing, finding my voice again, I’d like you to know that I appreciate everyone who has stayed faithful to my blog and continues to read my words, even the ones between the lines.

Much love. Seriously. ‘Cos if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s what love is. And what it is not. On any planet. Stars might be crazy, but I’m not, so I’ll continue to scream inside my heart. And my head. In a princessy way, of course.

 

Happy Birthday, Anne Frank

Forever fifteen…
#AnneFrank is trending today on Twitter; I wonder what she would have thought about social media? She never got the chance, though, did she, because she died in a concentration camp. I’m still angry and maybe that’s why I stand in solidarity with #blacklivesmatter and for the resistance against brutality.
I think I first read The Diary of Anne Frank when I was twelve or thirteen. The original version of the film is on Netflix, and today seems like a good day to watch it again and to honor her indomitable spirit and to remember what someone like Hitler can do to innocent people. Especially now.
Some of my favorite quotes:
–It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality…I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.
–How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
–No one has ever become poor by giving.
Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness.

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Black Lives Matter in Carlsbad, too

On Friday, in solidarity, I attended a Black Lives Matter march and demonstration in my city.

There were eloquent and passionate speeches by local black leaders; I’m not sure of their names, though—afterwards, the microphone was given to current and former Carlsbad residents of color who spoke, sometimes emotionally, about the discrimination they had faced here growing up or on the job.

In a moving way but not angry or raging, one after the other shared their negative interactions with the local police that were vastly different from mine. The crowd was mostly young but very diverse, and the common theme was “thank you for coming, thank you for hearing us”.

The only negative incident I personally witnessed was an angry white woman screaming that she wasn’t a racist but then she walked away when no one took the bait and engaged with her toxicity.

I wish that more of my neighbors had come out to lend support instead of fearmongering and condemning and criticizing the efforts of our younger generation who have (rightfully) decided that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Maybe the truth is that they’re a little or a lot racist and the reality is that it’s hidden MOST of the time.

I was proud to be there and to witness this historic event.

I took a LOT of pics and videos ‘cos a pic really is worth a thousand words.

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Crimes against humanity

Tear gas, rubber bullets, martial law, curfews, civil unrest, racism, police brutality–exactly HOW many planets are in retrograde now?? ‘cos something’s going on and it’s beyond the plot of any science fiction story. We’re living in a neverending episode of the Twilight Zone.

Add to that list, Ebola, earthquakes, a possible supervolcano in Yellowstone, the pandemic, record unemployment, food lines…WTF.

What I find to be quite troublesome is the way #blacklivesmatter and the ensuing outrage about yet another senseless murder is the number of people in my little SoCal beach town that are right wing racists who hide behind their so-called “christian” facade. It’s absolutely DISGUSTING and there’s always just the tiniest little hint of anti-Semitism in their rants and comments. That orange puppet really brought out true colors in people, didnt he? The mask has slipped. It’s ugly and depressing, and I’ve lived here for 35 years.

This is a fun little graphic:

Image may contain: text that says 'Food for thought: The last time Saturn was in Aquarius was during the Rodney King Riots. The last time Pluto was in Capricorn was during the American Revolution. Neptune was in Pisces when Rome fell. We have all 3 right now.'

I haven’t yet attended a march or a gathering, but I probably will. We need to do something, stand up, show up,  become part of what’s happening and not allow hatred to continue.

We are not the enemy.

 

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A couple old songs that are way too relevant.

 

It’s not protest. It’s rebellion.

IMG_9325This is what it is: “the action or process of resisting authority, control, or convention.”

In 1773 it took a bunch of angry white boys (many of them dressed as Native Americans) destroying shipments of goods and burning down a city to begin the process toward ending tyranny and oppression. It was called The Boston Tea Party and was the precursor to a certain revolution and the beginning of a new country. Somehow “we” forgot that and decided tyranny and oppression were okay for some people – we “forgot” it for 200+ years, in fact.

A phoenix can’t rise without ashes.

I know what it means to protest in order to express an objection to what someone has said or done.

I do a lot of protesting. I protested against the use of animals in labs. I protest to honor the animals that die so people can wear their fur. I protest against factory farms. I protest in favor of being a vegan.

I protest against puppy mills, animal abuse, the killing of wolves and coyotes–I protested to save my lagoon against being raped and pillaged by a rich developer–I protest for my right to choose what to do with my own body–yeah, I know what it means to protest.

I speak up –and out– A LOT.

But I’m really sick of white people thinking that the lives people of color are less valuable. At this point, if I was any other color than what I am, I would be BEYOND angry.

Angry for the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. And before that, let’s not forget Trayvon Martin, etc, etc. etc.

THIS is a rebellion.

It’s an old story that needs a new ending.

I lived in Detroit during the riots in the late sixties. I remember my mom and dad talking about the National Guard and how disgusted they were that conversations and circumstances had so egregiously broken down that there was no way to convey change OTHER than riot and rebellion. Chitchat hadn’t worked. Racism is pervasive. All Trump did was bring it out in the open. It’s always been there. Ugly and malevolent, a symptom of a deeper malady in our society.

(That’s when we moved to Cali, which caused me to lose interest in becoming a doctor and much more focused on my tan and beautiful surfer boys, but that’s another story.)

I have a friend who graduated from high school in Louisiana in the nineties and she told me her prom was SEGREGATED. I could not believe this type of behavior still exists. It’s a different world down there, down south. According to her, not much has changed since the days of slavery and lynchings. That’s why she left, she said.

My mom lived down south too. She hated it. As the daughter of a rabbi (my grandfather), she experienced her own share of racism and anti-Semitism, and was vilified not only for having black friends, but for standing up for and with them when they were refused service. She told me she actually saw signage that said “For Whites Only”. Her stories of that disgusting inequality stuck with me; maybe why I’m such a rebel.

I also used to live in La Mesa, where the crowds were hit with rubber bullets and pepper spray. I thought about joining the rebellion, but didn’t. That doesn’t mean I won’t the next time.

We have an obligation to join the rebellions and stop police and the government from targeting and killing people of color. We have an obligation to show up and speak up, and when possible, record the atrocities. 

Justice.

Like Michelle Obama said, “…it’s up to all of us–Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out.”

Here’s the whole statement from Michelle Obama:

“Like so many of you, I’m pained by these recent tragedies. And I’m exhausted by a heartbreak that never seems to stop. Right now it’s George, Breonna, and Ahmaud. Before that it was Eric, Sandra, and Michael. It just goes on, and on, and on. Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it. It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets. I pray we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us.”

Targeting people just because of the color of their skin is immoral. Sometimes there’s no other way to effect moral change than with a NONpeaceful response when no one seems to listen to the words.

Power to the people.

 

 

Holding Space

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IMHO, this is one of the best descriptions of what it means to hold space.

There will be times when you have to release and trust the awakening process. It may not be an easy thing to do, especially when a connection exists. Let others know you are there, offer support when asked and hold space for them in a kind, loving manner. The rest is up to them and The Universe.
Holding Space    The Creator Writings, one of my fave blogs.


I had heard the term but couldn’t wrap my brain around it, and as a slightly OCD Taurus who likes answers to questions and details and timeframes to be specific in order to feel safe, holding space is a confusing and nebulous and ephemeral concept, but I’ve been determined to understand because it resonates deeply with me. I’m relentless when it comes to understandING.

It’s a way of not doing anything when I’m all about doING and fixING and solvING. (All of those ‘ing” words that we’re trained to edit OUT of our writings.)

To hold space is to do nothING but BE.

BeING.

That very beINGness of taking a breath and stayING silent and havING faith and trust that everything is happenING as it should–well, that’s nearly impossible for me.

But here I am. I am. So hum.

 

The boy who is my heart

Update Mother’s Day 2020: I wrote this post about my son lightyears prior to Angel Boy 2.0. because without him, I wouldn’t be a mommy at all.

Since the birth of his baby sister, AB 2.0 and I repeat this conversation pretty much every single time we speak or we’re together. (A little needed reassurance about his place in the world.)

“Who’s my very favorite boy?”

“I am, Grandma!”

And who’s my second favorite boy?”

“DADDY IS. DADDY IS!”

“You’re right! Now…who’s my favorite GIRL?”

“CharChar is, right, Grandma?”

“You got it, T. And then who’s my second favorite girl?”

“MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY!”

Just keeping it straight for the second little boy who is my heart.

(P.S. My poem was published in Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream Volume 34 #4)

 

The Yellow Steamroller

So much depends
upon

a yellow
steamroller

buried
in the dirt
 
behind the shed
On one bitterly cold wintry afternoon, I embarked on a major yard cleanup project. I raked all the pine needles shaken loose during the fury of Alaska-borne winds that roared down the coast to Southern California.
Metal rake clanged against metal.
Then I saw it, a bright yellow igniting the dirt and pine needles, suffused with a gleaming radiance through the brown. 
steamroller1
I threw down the rake, crouched on all fours, and with bare fingers dug through the wet fecund soil to uncover an abandoned yellow Matchbox toy from the spot where there once was a sandbox that my son’s dad  built for him when we first moved to this house in 1985.
I discovered in situ a three-inch wide artifact imbued with all the wonder of my perfect four-year-old child, the same age that my grandson is right now, thirty-five years later.
I gently brushed away decades of encrusted soil and sand.
steamroller2
sandbox
I was engulfed in wave after wave of memory.
I was there. Really there. 1985. 
I saw him–my precious four-year-old son in this beautiful huge sandbox filled with fresh, clean sand.  
I watched him as I often watched him from the bay window in the kitchen overlooking the backyard where I would wash dishes and keep an eye on him, keeping him safe–always keeping him safe–as he played in the sand with his dump trucks and cherry pickers and this steam roller and his buckets and plastic cups and forks and sticks with his cats and dog always near, and the loveliness of the memory set me on my heels and I cried.
Happy tears for the exquisite soft rosy glow of healthy well-fed cheeks, the deep Imperial jade green eyes, the curls that were my curls, my boy, my angel love.
The boy whose every breath contains a whisper of the intangible all encompassing LOVE I possess for this being who was a part of me before he was a part of the earth and sun and sky and sand.
The boy who is — and always will be — my heart.
I shut my eyes tight to keep the pictures from disappearing, but the ephemeral/evanescent impressions floated away with the tears that spilled out for the remembering of the beauty of a luminous child playing in a sandbox, singing to himself and constructing sand sculptures of the future, or, in his case, building words and spinning thoughts and erratica.
Those grains of sand that between his fingers mashed and smashed into forts and tunnels were the detritus of the granite from whence his brain reformed them grain by grain into skyscrapers of words and sentences that flow like a path from the back door to the sandbox.

And what eventually happened to the steamroller? It’s still here in the garden, living a new life helping another curly haired, green eyed little boy weave his own stories…

In a way, a sort of homage to…
The Red Wheelbarrow
William Carlos Williams
so much depends
upon
a red wheel
barrow
glazed with rain
water
beside the white
chickens.

Yummy Hummy Mummy Update: Abandonment

sunset

What kind of mother abandons her babies?

This isn’t how I wanted the story to end.

I like stories that end in happiness and joy, and now I have no idea what went wrong, what happened.

Is there something I could have done? I would have helped her; I’m a fixer, I like to take care of animals. And people.

Mom built a great nest, laid one egg, and I kept waiting for the next one but it never came. For a while, all was good, she sat on the nest daily and I made sure that I didn’t bother her just in case she liked privacy.

Mom hasn’t been around for about three days. The one little egg is still in the nest. I’m sure it’s not viable at this point. I wonder why she disappeared. Did she get attacked by a predator? Did her instincts tell her that there was something wrong with the egg and it shouldn’t be born?

We’ll never know, but it triggered my own issues with abandonment and not having answers to painful experiences or not being able to render aid.

It’s not natural for mothers of any species to abandon their children. It goes against all the laws of nature and psychology and maternal bonding. Sadly, in humans, abandonment leaves the children to deal with “mother wounds”; significant emotional, mental and psychological aftereffects.

However, on the bright side (which is where I like to live), there’s a Vireo successfully nesting; she comes back every single year. So far, she’s had about one hundred babies born out of the same little seashell bird house nestled in the ficus tree.