Sunday, July 31, 2016

A BEACON SHINING BRIGHTLY


When she walked out onto the stage dressed all in white, we all cheered.  We had invited a small group of true-blue Hillary supporters to our house to watch Hillary Clinton's convention speech.   We were all in a celebratory mood.  People showed up with food and wine.  We had champagne and cake ready to serve once the balloons dropped at the end of her speech.  We gathered 'round the TV and listened intently to her message of hope and determination.

And I cried.  Standing in the back of the room, Hub on the sofa to my right, my son and DIL standing nearby and my granddaughters running around on the deck just outside, I was moved by the moment.

I was overcome with memories of myself at 23 years old, having been introduced to feminism in a Women's Lit class -- the first college class I ever took.  (I was late to college, having chosen to work right out of high school).  That firebrand feminist professor spoke of ways women could be in the world that I had never known or imagined before.  Other women in the class were equally moved. I found friends there and with them formed a Consciousness Raising Group.  We met in each other's living rooms for three years,  raising our voices, our fists, and the questions that came to define the Women's Movement.  We hosted a major women's weekend at the college, the first of its kind, with the featured speaker being author and feminist icon Germaine Greer.  We were in awe.  We worked our butts off for the Equal Rights Amendment; lobbying, writing letters, marching.  Some of us from those years became life-long friends.  We've scattered geographically and have pursued different life paths, but several of us are still in touch via Facebook now.  We've all grown older and perhaps more mellow, but we haven't forgotten and hadn't given up the dream of what could be.

Watching Hillary I remembered, too, that the volatility of that personal awakening in the '70's wrecked havoc with my fledgling marriage, leading to a year-long separation from Hub when I was 27 years old.  We had married at 21 as high school sweethearts with no life experience to speak of, expecting him to be a teacher in our hometown and me to be a housewife and mother.  Then our worlds had come undone with a move to the big city, him in medical school, me in college and suddenly also a feminist ready to rail at the world -- and him.  It was a hard and important time in our lives.  It changed us.  It moved us forward, eventually, to becoming  a couple today in our 60's sitting in our home with our family and friends watching history being made by Hillary Clinton -- the first woman ever to be a major party nominee for President in the United States.  Watching,  I felt keenly the passage of time, yet also gave a nod to that young woman in her 20's who still lives within me, smiling and raising a fist in the air in solidarity with a moment so long in coming.

Tears in my eyes, I looked over at my daughter-in-law standing next to me and saw her wipe a tear.  My son handed us both tissues and he put an arm around me.  I heard my grand girls in the background and realized this was what it was all about; that our work and passion back then would mean that the generations coming after me would have a different world to live and grow within.  They will have their own passions, their own fights, their own awakenings, but maybe this one is one they won't have to struggle so much to win.

I know there is still sexism, misogyny.  I know it's not all fixed with one woman finally standing on the national political stage in a place previously allowed only to men.  But to me Hillary looked like a beacon, a light toward which we all turned last week and I thought, "Yes.  Here we are.  I've been waiting for 43 years.  We rise!  Finally, we rise."

At least, that's the view from here...©

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

IT'S PARTY TIME FOR POLS

I hardly know where to begin.  I'm in turns restless and impatient, dismayed and agitated, excited and joyful.  Hopeful and bereft.  And sometimes just crazy happy.  I'm trying to breathe through it all and BE HERE NOW, but damn!  It's hard.

Every four years I become obsessed with presidential politics.  I'm a presidential campaign junkie.  I watch all the debates in the primaries (OK, this campaign I skipped some of the R debates, because really, that was just torture).  I devour news and opinion.  I tune in to primary night results.  I listen to the pundits.  I scroll Facebook and news sources.  I get invested.  By the time summer and the conventions come along, I'm in so deep I can barely keep afloat.

Every night last week I tuned in to the Republican National Convention.  I knew I would disagree with much of what was said, but I was curious about their perspective and the hows and whys of our differing world view.  Holy Shit!  Armageddon over there at the RNC!  The United States, in their view, is a dystopian landscape of violence, death, destruction, anger, hatred.  Who are those people?  How can they deny actual facts and spin a web of fantasy that is based on nothing but pumped up fear and the desire to have a strongman (strawman) save them from people like me?  It was startling.  Their presidential nominee has been labeled a racist and narcissist with not one iota of experience in elected office, yet he declared in his speech that only he can fix the world they are so afraid of... and they cheered him!  This, after chanting over the course of the week in true mob mentality fashion, "Lock her up!" about the Democratic nominee for president.  Yes, that's one way to deal with your adversaries.  Not really what our democracy is about, but then the word "fascist" hasn't been tossed in his direction for nothing.

In the party I support, the Democrats, we've had our own brouhaha what with Socialist/Independent Senator Bernie Sanders suddenly becoming a Democrat to run for president and then decrying the primary process the Dems have in place for choosing the nominee.  He struck a chord, hit a nerve, revved up the disaffected on the Left and used his bully pulpit to push the Dems leftward and good for him for that.  But in the process he denigrated the true Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, effectively undermining her to the point that now that he has lost the nomination and is trying to get his troops to line up behind her, they've gone AWOL and on Monday even booed him when he called for unity.   Their intractable ideology is looking just as whacked out as those on the far right.  Comedian Sarah Silverman, a Bernie supporter, even took them to task during her convention appearance with one of my favorite (and ad-libbed) lines of the convention so far:  "Bernie or Bust people -- you are being ridiculous!"  Golly this is fun!

I know I am biased, but ask anyone who is an expert on conventions and they will tell you the RNC was a hot mess.  Nobody knew how to run a convention and it was a bit crazy and chaotic.  No big name Republicans agreed to speak or even attend, and even the entertainers were washed up third rate oldies who ranted a good rant, but really, who cares?

The Dems have run theirs, the first two nights this week, like clockwork and all the biggies are out to support Hillary.  On Monday Michelle Obama gave a speech for the ages (ask anyone, even the sensible R's say she rocked it), along with inspirational Cory Booker, firebrand Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie himself finally stopped with his Ego Trip and gave his full-throated support to Hillary.  (I don't dislike the man at all; he just annoyed me a lot.  I hope he is an important voice in the Senate with Warren).  Last night Bill took the stage and did his Bill thing.  I have some quibbles with the speech, but overall he bragged Hillary up and gave us an insider's view of the absolutely life-long dedication she has shown (not in front of cameras or on the national stage) to helping others and moving our country forward.  Tonight the trifecta of Joe Biden, Barack Obama, and Tim Kaine (VP nominee) will all speak.  Tomorrow Chelsea will introduce Hillary.  In contrast to the doom and gloom at the RNC, the DNC is upbeat, positive, hopeful, and reveling in the slogan "Stronger Together".  Yes, our side gets silly trying to out-Liberal each other at times, but I love our diversity and our can-do spirit and the knowledge that we really are all in this together.  We are not looking for a "daddy" to fix it.  We got this.

So, I don't know where I'm going with this except to say, every four years I get caught up in the excitement.  I lose sleep over polls and worry about the ups and downs of the race.  I pray nothing will derail my candidate (hello email scandal) and I lament that the other side is often so mean, with this year proving to be worse, with the meanest SOB yet as their standard-bearer.

I also get overwhelmed with patriotism.  I reflect on our democracy and the history of our country and I weep with gratitude that, warts and all, we have maintained this grand experiment for 240 years.  Other countries still want to be us.  The least we can do is be aware, involved, and engaged in this process. At the very least, we must  realize what a privilege we have; one that should never be thrown away or taken for granted -- just ask anyone who has lived under a repressive regime.

The next few months will be a roller coaster ride.  But also a time to play catch up if you are not as tuned in to politics as some.  Time to listen, read, ask questions.   Be informed.  Think critically.   And get ready to cast your vote on November 8th.  People have died to protect your right to do so.  Don't diss them by not caring.

At least, that's the view from here...©


Sunday, July 17, 2016

BASTILLE DAY

Son Two is dating a wonderful young woman who is already well-traveled at 28 and she is widening his horizons of travel too.   Of course by my standards "well-traveled" means leaving the county where I live.  A slight exaggeration, of course; I've been to almost every state (may have missed Kansas and Oklahoma...) and two foreign countries -- the ones that cozy up to the US -- Mexico and Canada.  I did not like my Mexico experience.  I'd like to move to Canada, but it will be overrun with political refugees if He Who Must Not Be Named wins in November.  Anyway...

On July 5th Son Two and his gal left the US and flew to Lisbon, then on to Barcelona, Pamplona, back to Barcelona and on to Paris.  France.  To coincide with the Bastille Day festivities.  When I heard of their plan, I inwardly freaked out about them being in a big, already targeted, European city for a national celebration where likely every third person in the crowd was a terrorist.  It is a testament to my recent therapy sessions that I kept my fears to myself and didn't completely bum out their plans by shouting out my own worries and warnings.  I smiled and said, "How cool!  That will be a wonderful experience!"  Then I put it all out of my mind, as best I could.

I watched for the daily Facebook "photo dump" as they made their way from destination to destination.  Sightseeing in Lisbon, going to a bull fight (I was so happy my son hated the bloody spectacle and left after the first bull was killed), watching (not participating) in the running of the bulls, visiting museums in Barcelona, eating and drinking and socializing with locals as well as Seattle area friends who were also in Europe at the same time, and then walking the canal in Paris, watching the Bastille Day parade, and taking in the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower.

Then, on Facebook I saw there had been a Bastille Day terrorist attack in France.  My heart skipped a few beats, my breath caught in my throat.  Almost simultaneously my phone rang.  One of my BFFs called to see if I'd heard from my son.  Another texted.  Frantically looking at Facebook posts I realized in short order the attack was not in Paris.  It was in Nice.  800 miles from Paris.  Still....the horror of it, the madness.  My son messaged me right away to assure me they were safe.  Whew!

They flew out the next morning, as scheduled, from Paris to London then on to the U.S.  I followed their route and breathed a bit easier when I knew they were over U.S. airspace and then on the ground and home.  But that is a false sense of security isn't it?  Our own gun violence can mean innocents are killed here as easily as anywhere.  What has happened to our sense of safety in a world gone a bit mad?

I know this is really nothing new.  History shows we have always been a violent race, that violence manifesting in a myriad of ways.  Now we have smart phones that broadcast the news and videos almost instantly, and then over and over and over again, as if the same event keeps happening.  It's all crazy and I can't dwell on it.

This moment, this moment all is well.  I am sitting on my back deck, watching the approaching dusk, feeling a chill in the air, smelling salmon baking in the oven, hearing Hub pad around the house.  All is well.  Until it isn't.  The world is a little mad.  But so it has always been.  Good people of compassion and love and optimism keep the balance.  May each of us be one of those people.  May our children always be safe.

At least, that's the view from here...©

Photo credit to my son!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

TAKING THE FALL

I think it was the power of suggestion.  I went to my annual Medicare Comprehensive medical exam appointment a few weeks ago and was given a handout on "fall prevention".   I read through all the long list of things to do to prevent falls in one's home and community and I tossed it aside, thinking, "It's all so obvious!  Sheesh.  Besides, I practice yoga.  My balance and agility are superior to most people my age."  (Well, OK, my ego didn't really get that carried away, but I definitely didn't think the list really pertained to me, so if I really did put words to my dismissiveness of the list, it likely would have sounded like that.)

Then this week, when I fell in my home two days in a row, I started to panic.  What the hell is going on with me???  Well, nothing that taking another look at that little list wouldn't solve.

Our home is taking on "childcare center" characteristics since we watch our little granddaughter two days a week (down from three, but still have to have all the equipment in place.)  She's walking/running/climbing on everything now so the baby gates are up at each deadly stairway to prevent her from tumbling down.  The one in this photo comes up from our lower level, where our laundry room is located.

Friday I was lugging the large laundry basket up the stairs, the one that really is too big and awkward for me to handle on a good day, being a woman of short stature.  It was piled high with a couple of loads of clothes from the dryer.  I didn't want to make two trips, so I muscled it up the stairway and got to the gate.  I don't like to move the gate because it's tricky to reinstall, so we've taken to just leaving it up all the time and stepping over it.  Easy, breezy unless you are carrying a heavy awkward laundry basket.

So, I got to the top, and started to lift the basket over the gate, throwing off my center of gravity such that I started to tilt dangerously backward.  I righted myself (thank god!) and decided to just lift and fling the basket forward and let the basket and clothes fall on the floor over the gate and I'd pick it all up once I was over the gate myself.  So the basket got flung forward, but my body followed, knocking through the gate.  In an instant the basket was upended on the floor, clothing strewn everywhere, the gate was collapsed and I was collapsed on top of it at the top of the stairs.

The list says many falls happen when one tries to carry in one trip what should be divided into two or more.  Duly noted.

Then yesterday, not as dramatic, but with the same result, I fell again.  We still haven't unpacked all the boxes we stored things in when we had our floors refinished.  I am going through them slowly to take the opportunity to do a deep clutter-bust of stuff we don't really need.  I had been working in my office yesterday, but had not finished.  Later in the evening I went in there to fetch something, without turning on a light because it was dusk and I could see just fine.  I grabbed what I needed, turned to leave the room and stepped on a metal vase holder thing.  I  rolled my foot over, lost my balance, and down I went.  Again.

The list says to always have good lighting and to never leave clutter on the floor, and most definitely not in your walking path.  Duly noted.

I am fortunate that in both cases I bounced right up, so I guess I can credit yoga for that.  My doc told me a "person my age" should get down on the floor 2-3 times a week and practice getting up.  I'm down on the floor dozens of times a week with my granddaughters and my yoga practice.  But it's a whole different thing being down there from a fall.  It's startling and potentially injurious.  I'm grateful I didn't hurt myself.  I'm going to study the list again, and not be so high and mighty with the "that would never happen to me" proclamations.  Better safe than sprawled.

At least, that's the view from here...©