Sunday, October 30, 2016

TRICK OR TREAT OR NOT

I cracked up when I saw this meme on Facebook last week.  It sort of describes how I've felt for the past couple of years.

I love decorating for Fall -- Fall being my very favorite season.  I love pumpkins (not carved), the trees turning a riot of colors, leaves falling, a cornucopia of harvest, mums.

When my sons were little, I was way more into Halloween, of course.  It was a very, very big deal.  And I really loved it.  I loved collecting a huge array of Halloween decorations and creating a cute/scary tableau every October.  I still have a lot of the stuff in the attic in orange and black crates.  I just don't get it out anymore.  It's a lot of work.  Hub doesn't care and doesn't notice.  And while I have little grand girls, they are not here full time and I am.   I'm the one who would decorate, look at, and put it all away.   I'm just not that into the whole witches, Dracula, ghosts, Jack'O Lantern, black cat, big rat, hairy spider, cobwebby thing anymore.


But Angel was here last Saturday morning and I promised to take her to the Farmer's Market to choose a pumpkin for carving.  She designed this cyclops woman (where that came from in her imagination I have no idea) and then I let her decorate our front porch.

My only contribution was this disembodied arm hanging from the door knocker peephole.  I get it out every Halloween; my one nod to the holiday in recent years.  I like that it is sort of creepy and very easy to store and display.

I also have a fake Jack 'O Lantern embedded in my living room planter because little Jewel thinks it's sort of magical. She points with wide-eyed delight and says, "Pukkin".   Cute Alert!


Hub came home with a huge Costco-sized bag of candy yesterday.  I have tried to hand out granola bars or fruit leather in recent years in an attempt to encourage healthy eating in the younger generation, but he goes for the Nestle Company (evil empire) Snickers, Twix, Reese's, M&M, etc mix.  In spite of my resolve to not open it until the 31st, all Hub had to do was mention in passing something about how good a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup would taste during the 7th Inning Stretch of the Cubs v. Indians World Series game last night and I was into that bag like an addict scoring a hit of crack.  Turns out those little candy bars are also a nice breakfast snack accompanied by a steaming cup of black coffee.

I will survive Halloween, though.  I have to work too hard to overcome a sugar-binge these days.  I've matured into decorating tastefully, not gaudily, and eating only a modicum of Halloween candy, not having to replace the empty bag before Halloween, as in years long past.

But if you care to stop by for a frightfully good time, I have set some Snickers aside which I can serve in a hollowed-out skull.  Then we can hop on the scale for a truly terrifying adventure in self-recrimination.  BOO!

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



Saturday, October 29, 2016

THIRTY SECONDS OF FAME

So, I've been whining all week about having a cold.  Men are stereotypically terrible at being sick, but in my house I'm the whiner, seeking non-stop soup and sympathy.  Hub has been sick with a cold too. We apparently caught the bug from the same carrier.  We suspect our little typhoid vector of a granddaughter who is with us 2 days/week.  Her other 3 days of care are at a childcare/preschool where all they do is pass snotty noses and hacking coughs back and forth with their slimy, germ-laden little fingers.  But Hub hasn't complained much at all.  Then again, he is a slave to modern medicine and has never met a pill he didn't think would make it all better.  I lean toward tea and honey and whatever home remedy and crazy alt-med "miracle" cure my friends recommend.  He feels better and I don't, but I see no reason to cave to Big Pharma, regardless.

So last night we had tickets to our local professional theater company's opening show of the new season -- Pump Boys and Dinettes.  It's a fun and sort of goofy musical; lighthearted and full of multi-talented musicians and vocalists.  I questioned whether I should arise from under my super soft fleece blanket and attend, given my weakened condition, but in the end I threw on some "going outside" clothes and a little makeup and went.  I figured all I had to do was sit there and try not to cough.

Well, lo and behold!  A part of the show included a "door prize" giveaway to an audience member.  They pulled a ticket stub from a big bowl, announcing section, row, and seat number.  Yep.  Me.  In a blur I made my way to the stairs leading up to the stage, the actors all beckoning me to come up and claim my prize.  Fleetingly I cursed myself for not looking in the mirror before I left home, but I gamely played along with the thing.  Thirty seconds of fame on stage with the cast, while they snapped a polaroid picture, then back in my seat.

You know that admonition to always wear good underwear in case you have an accident and have to go to the ER?  Same applies to when you go to the theater.  Not the underwear part, but maybe the hair and make-up part.  Oh well.  I'm sure I dazzled them with raw talent.  The audience did applaud.  I'm Broadway bound, as soon as I get over this cough.

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

Sunday, October 23, 2016

THE TRIBE

"I want to be seen, to be known, to feel a part of a caring community."  "I'm afraid to show my true self; I'm afraid of rejection; I'm afraid I'll screw up and people won't like me."

With these two competing heart sentiments, The Tribe was born.   We are embarking on a Grand Experiment -- forming an intentional community of adults who are seeking intimacy in friendship.
Looking back, the way we came together was an organic accident.  Among the group are those who felt adrift after the loss of our church home (lots of words already typed about the "Great Unraveling"); those who still go to that church but are seeking a deeper connection in community; those with no connection there, but wanting something "more", something "different" in friendship.

We got together to eat.  People love to gather around a meal and this group has some creative and passionate cooks and eaters!  Food, laughter, and lively conversation led some of us to ask...could we be more than a supper club?  Hub and I have experience in facilitating groups.  We offered to lead a discussion where we would vision what we might create together.  Each person talked about what they want (connection) and what might hold them back from getting it (fear).   We talked about what we might do together -- meet regularly, eat, laugh, make music and art, take trips, do good in the world through social and political action.  Sometimes these out-in-the-world activities would include the whole group and sometimes a subset of the group, whoever wanted to join in.   No pressure; just an invitation.

Several months into this, we twelve have grown closer, shared the ups and downs, joys and challenges of life.  We've taken risks in revealing our true selves.  We've laughed and cried together.  We've shared our life stories -- where we came from and what formed us, what significant events contributed to who we've become, and how we might want to change our story for the next chapter of our lives.  We are between 50 and 80 years in age.  Some still work, some are retired, some have children and grandchildren, some don't.  Some are excited about the next phase of life, some confused and fearful.  We live within no more than about 20 minutes driving distance of each other.  We rotate our monthly gatherings in each other's homes, everyone contributing to a meal and then an extended and facilitated time of "circling up" to check in on what's happening in each other's lives, how we're feeling, maybe discuss a topic that helps peel another layer of emotional armor from our hearts.  Sometimes we include singing, chanting, or meditating, or do a gentle qigong movement practice to get us out of our chairs.  We are exploring what it means to be spiritual beings on a human journey, or, simply human.

We are mostly in awe at this point that this experiment has become an important place of community and connection.   We set an intention with a vision and with a willingness to commit to each other.  We show up, physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.

We know that this tender beginning needs nurturing and care, so we've decided to be a "closed group" for now at least and maybe always.  We'll see.  We are still forming.  In fact, we've been a bit secretive, worrying that others may feel we are a clique.  It is not our intention to be separate, but it is our intention to protect the safety we've created with each other.  Yet, hiding this joyful enterprise doesn't feel honest or authentic to me.  So with a warning to the group that I might do so at some point, I am writing about it today.

My offer to anyone interested in forming a similar group is that I (and Hub and maybe others of us), would be willing to mentor others in doing something similar.  Is your heart longing for connection?  Are you willing to be vulnerable enough to open yourself to learning a different way of communicating, a different way of being with people that goes beyond small talk?  Are you ready to know yourself better, change what you want to change, celebrate that which needs celebrating and take a journey of the soul with another?

Then gather 'round the hearth with something good to eat, a smile, a tear, and a warm hug and dive in.  In these times of discord, it helps to have a Tribe.

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

Thursday, October 20, 2016

SUCH A NASTY WOMAN




Last night, as I watched the 3rd and final presidential debate of this election season between Hillary Clinton and "He Who Must Not Be Named", Hub almost made me turn it off.  

I found myself on the verge of a full-blown panic/anxiety attack.  I felt cold all over, heart-pounding, literally shaking from head to toe as I listened and watched the Republican Candidate for President of the United States lie and bluff and bluster and bully his way through yet another public appearance, yet another debate with the most qualified person to ever run for the office of President, attempting to discredit and demean her with name-calling and lies.  Ask anyone.  The fact-checkers and decent people everywhere have it all well-documented.  His indictment comes at the hand of his own words and actions.  

I admit that his vitriol hits me most deeply because he is aiming it at a woman.  Women understand what it feels like to be demeaned in a million subtle ways.  And some of us remember what it was like to fight to try to overcome the personal and institutional discrimination that plagued us for centuries....and still does, actually.  To see it rear its most ugly head on the debate stage is to quake with fear and loathing; has our progress all been an illusion?  How can any sane person support him?  How can any SANE and SELF-RESPECTING woman support him?  It baffles me.

When he called her "such  a nasty woman", tears sprang into my eyes.  Hub reached over and took my hands, reminding me I was only hearing "words, words, words" and that the next President of the United States was on that stage -- that's progress personified.  

He suggested that the guy on the stage reminded him of the evil creatures in Harry Potter -- the Dementers.  Remember them?  

"Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them... Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself... soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life."
—Description of Dementors  http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Dementor

Seems to be an apt description.  

As for calling her "such a nasty woman", the Twitter Universe and Facebook are lighting up this morning with women everywhere claiming the moniker as a point of pride.  November 8th:  Nasty-Fest 2016!  I'm in!  And I'll wear my Suffragette White for good measure!

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




Monday, October 10, 2016

MY STORY OF SHAME

Every time he pointed his finger at her and said, "You should be ashamed of yourself" (which was multiple times), I cringed and my heart sank like a stone.  I felt myself folding in on my myself, like a child punished for a wrong I barely understood or never even committed.  Shame.  What a powerful and destructive emotion to carry.

Last night's Presidential Debate was a spectacle unprecedented in American politics, as were the events leading up to it.  History can record (it's all on video) the onslaught of disgusting and reprehensible words of the Republican candidate for president in 2016 throughout this campaign.  I won't repeat the litany.  But last Friday, a videotape was released wherein he uses vulgar language about women and boasts about his conquests, saying "when you're a star, you can do anything."   He admitted to being a sexual predator and committing assault.  Of course, now he says he never did it, it was just "locker room banter."  His big defense is to accuse President Bill Clinton (who's own sexual escapades were litigated 20 years ago) of doing much worse, and then showed up at the debate with women who have accused Bill Clinton of assault to throw Hillary off her game.  Classy move.  Punishing Hillary for what her husband did.  Yes, women need to take responsibility and be punished for the behavior of their partners, I forgot.

All of this has brought up a long-buried incident in my own life.  I was 25, working at the medical center where Hub was in medical school.  My boss, 22 years my senior, was a renowned professor, foreign-born, urbane, and demanding (but with a smarmy smile that belied his cruelty).  I was a secretary; actually I was more like a "clerk", my immediate supervisor was the secretary.  I made coffee and typed and answered phones.    I thought myself mature and savvy; but I was no match for him and looking back I see I was naive and timid.   

He often had me come into his office to "take dictation", but he spent a lot of time critiquing me, trying to help me be more sophisticated.  He offered suggestions on clothing, make up, hair, and one time he told me not to move my face so much because it would create wrinkles.  He asked personal questions about my marriage and offered helpful hints for a "good relationship".  I listened uncomfortably, tried to laugh it off (without moving my face) and was relieved when I was excused to go back to my desk.  (Think "Mad Men" -- those were the days when this type of thing was commonplace and not "reportable".)  

One day he asked if I would be a participant in a study he was doing on a new type of stethoscope.  I said I would.  He stood up and locked his door, so we wouldn't be interrupted and he could concentrate, he said.  He then proceeded to lean in and listen to my heart, so close to my face I could smell and feel his breath on me.  Then he said he needed to test it on the femoral artery.  This is located in the groin area.  Why I didn't run from that room then and there is a mystery to me.  I felt trapped.  I felt intimidated and I felt like I would NOT behave like a scared rabbit.  I was trying to be strong.  He asked me to lower my slacks just a bit so he could access the area.  I did.  He asked me to slouch down in my chair.  I did.  He placed the stethoscope just so and listened, taking notes on a yellow legal pad.  Then he said he had what he wanted and told me I could go.

I was shaken.  I was sick to my stomach.  I did tell my supervisor and she was sympathetic, but helpless to do anything.  We agreed I didn't have to go to his office alone anymore and she would run interference for me.  (Some time later, she told me the study was legit and he got other subjects to participate, but no part of the process involved the femoral artery.)

Not long afterward he insisted on taking me out to lunch at a fancy restaurant in downtown Chicago to thank me for a project I'd completed for him.  I don't know why I agreed to go; maybe to not let him intimidate me; maybe to try to overcome the shame I felt in his presence.  I had toughened up with him and likely felt I could "handle" him at this point.  So I went.  Lunch was fine, although he criticized the outfit I chose to wear that day.  Afterward he said he had taken a room at a hotel for the weekend to get some work done away from his family and he needed to pick up some paperwork there to take back to the office.  I was trapped.  Once in the room, he lay down on the bed and encouraged me to sit near him.  I refused.  He told me he loved me, over and over.   I told him he was crazy and I wanted to leave.  He reached out to touch me, and I rebuked him.  I told him I would scream if he tried to touch me again.  He became angry, told me I was acting like a child.  He grabbed his briefcase and headed for the door.  I followed.  In the taxi ride back to the office I ignored him, wouldn't answer his questions, or respond to his benign comments.  He acted as if nothing had happened.  Finally, in anger, he told me I should thank him, because now I knew the depth of my commitment to my marriage, having been "tested".  

I told my supervisor and another doctor in the department who I liked and trusted, a good man.  But he did nothing.  Within a month I left to go to work in another department for a kind, respectful, and caring doctor who I still admire to this day.  

Shame.  Writing about this (I've actually only told a handful of people about these incidents since they happened around 1975) makes me so sad for that naive young woman, so sad for there being no place to go with my story at the time.  Was I a willing participant?  I guess so...if an older man in a position of power taking advantage of an obviously naive young woman defines "willing".  I relate to Monica Lewinsky in this regard, so yeah, Bill was definitely an asshole in that respect.  I've heard she's felt ashamed too of her naivety.  Shame makes you want to hide.  Shame makes you hate yourself for who you are, not what you've done, or what was done to you.  It's soul destroying.

So, when a 59 year old man (his age when the video was made in 2005) says the things he said about women he's tried to seduce and/or grope without their consent, that is a man who objectifies, feels entitled, and is absolutely unrepentant and uncaring.  He is a shame-making machine.  He is dangerous.  And he is running for president of the United States.  If there is shame to be felt, I wish it would start with him.  But it won't.  In fact, he shamelessly trotted out women (who he was using for his own means) to humiliate Hillary and then pointed the "shame on you" finger at her.

Too many women have stories like mine to tell.  Every woman has been objectified in some way at some time.  All women must rise up and keep fighting this fucking shit.  Vote as if your life depended on it.

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