Sunday, January 22, 2017

POST-MARCH EUPHORIA

Well, silly me.  Nothing to worry about.  No Anarchists, no opposition "haters", no rowdy marchers, no danger of  being crushed or trampled by the crowd....just 130,000 smiling, happy, positive, determined women, men, and children under mysteriously sunny skies being all polite and funny and creative -- quintessentially Seattle -- in a 3-mile phalanx of humanity moving slowly toward that beacon of modernity, the Space Needle -- where all dispersed and jammed every single bus, monorail, and taxi for hours upon hours (but more about that later...)

I will say we did it in style.  One of our group had an "in" at the historic Camlin Hotel and booked us a bunch of rooms.  It has an old world elegance, updated for the 21st century, but still feeling like you step into the 1920's inside with gold-gilted mirrors and a grand piano in the lobby.  (Much classier and understated than those "other" gold-encrusted gaudy T-Towers, of course.)  Our group of 20 gathered in a back "party room" and proceeded to create signs, eat snacks, have a glass of sparkling this or that, and get to know each other.  There was a core group and then friends of friends.  Many of us were strangers from one another.  I led a sharing circle where we each spoke to what brought us to the march, what were our hopes and fears about the experience, what support did we need...and how do we get from the hotel to the starting point over a mile away early on Saturday morning:  logistics.

Some of us got up early and bussed to the park where the march would start.  Some of us decided to join the march a mile in, at an official "entry point" along the route.  We later found out that the park, which was projected to hold 25,000 was soon overwhelmed with 50,000 or more people spilling into the neighborhood streets.

 My group decided to bus to the first entry point -- a plan several hundred other people also made.  We arrived to a large, colorful, cheerful crowd awaiting a first glance at the marchers headed our way.  A large lead contingent of police cars and cops on bikes came by, then the marchers.  We soon wove our way into the throng and off we went -- part of the excitement, part of the presence, part of history.

I felt a wave of so many emotions; so grateful for my friends and sharing this with them; grateful for the positive vibe all around me and the feeling of safety, shared values, and sense of community where babies to teens joined with adults of all ages, to the very aged with walkers and canes all putting our bodies on the streets and cheering from the sidewalks all along the march route.

Pink-eared 'pussy' hats (as in cat) were the predominant headwear -- women, men, children and dogs donned the knitted hats, a nod to the infamous crude quote by the man who is now the president about the female body part he feels entitled to grab when with women he finds attractive.  We took his crudeness and owned it as our own -- Pussy Power.

There had been a call for silent march and for the most part it was.  We had quiet conversations with each other and offered words of complement and encouragement to those around us, but there were no loud chants or shouts or songs or anything negative at all!  It was a wave of love or at least good humor where satire was more effective than anger.

We reached the Space Needle, hearing that some of our original group were still almost 3 miles behind us, having taken nearly 2 hours to exit the park!  We three Shiny Sisters Ubered back to downtown Seattle and took our place on the sidewalk, watching the marchers pass until the end.  It was a moment of profound delight and pride.  Not one altercation.  No incidents of violence or discord.  And that seems to be the case across all marches everywhere around the US and the world.  I've heard of no arrests, even at the massive 500,000- person march in Washington DC.   Love Wins.

And then you have to find your way home....  We three retrieved our bags from the hotel and made for the bus station to hop onboard and head 25 miles north to home.  Not too many people at the stop, so we felt confident.  Then the first articulated bus came by jammed with people and the driver said "no more room".  Some at the stop said that was the FOURTH full bus!  Hmmm....a little discouraging.  But we waited for the next bus.  Same thing.  It was getting dark.  We were tired.  On to Plan B.  If we took a bus south to the beginning of the line, we could get on and get a seat before it did the whole route and was jammed!  Brilliant.

We schlepped our bags to a different bus stop and hopped onboard a mostly empty bus that goes underground through the bus tunnel.  We were relieved, chatting away, people watching, reviewing the day and when we emerged from the tunnel it was full dark and we were rolling past Safeco Field at a high rate of speed and onto I-90 east to Bellevue.  Hmmm....we'd missed our stop and were now expressing about 10 miles out of our way.  Damn!  That wasn't the plan!  But what can ya do?

Fortunately one of us (not me) pulled up the bus schedule and figured out how to get home from Bellevue -- only two more buses!  Once at the transit station we had to run to catch the next bus or wait an hour, but we made it.  We were finally on our way to at least be in our home county!  But alas, soon we were at a dead stop on the interstate due to a horrible roll-over accident and all lanes briefly blocked for emergency vehicles.  We broke out the chocolate and potato chips.  It was well past dinnertime.

Once past the accident and on our way again, we relaxed into knowing we'd soon be at the bus station that would get us to the bus home.  But then....the driver slowed to a crawl and pulled over on the shoulder of the freeway and turned off the bus.  Everything went completely dark for a moment.  Now what???  We have no idea. He cranked the engine and we were soon on our way, but something was obviously wrong because he was hanging in the right lane going about 40 MPH.  We made it though, got on the bus home, and nearly collapsed into the car when a kind husband met us at the station.   The trip home was nearly as long as the march, but hey, it was another Shiny Sister bonding experience where we got distracted, had great conversations, disagreed, got a little pissed, people-watched, ate, read Facebook posts to each other, and laughed A LOT.  Typical outing for us.


So, the march was much more than the march.  We were part of history, we showed up and "spoke" with our presence that we will not be silenced and we will be watching and participating in working for our values, our vision, our Democracy.  We were part of a huge community of souls around the globe (millions all over the world marched on 1/21/17!), among the citizens within a free and proud United States, members of a small community of friends old and new in Seattle, and held within a smaller knot of friends- to-the-end from our own county to the north.  Eventually each of us ended up singularly in her bed last night, grateful for all of it -- even the interminable bus adventure.  Can't wait 'til next time....WE RISE!  STRONGER TOGETHER!

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






Friday, January 20, 2017

PRE-MARCH JITTERS

Oh, hello there Anxiety Monster! I knew you were lurking and I was wondering when you could pounce again.  Yes, this does seem like a good time.  I've been pretty emotionally healthy and stable until November 8th, but even then kept you at bay; you and your ugly partner, Depression Monster...where is she, by the way?  One would think she'd be asserting her considerable influence at this dark time in our country and in my psyche.  But no!  In spite of periods of overwhelm and anger and sadness-- no Depression!  Woo-Hoo!  So, anyway, welcome to you.  I will sit and listen to you for a few minutes, since it's been months since you took your leave after wrecking havoc with me last winter.  What ya got?

Hmmm....yes.  Good point.  This big Seattle Women's March tomorrow is projected to be one of the largest in the nation -- estimates say up to 100,000 people.

Yes, I know I hate crowds and especially those that feel like a herd of people one so could easily be trapped in and trampled by.

Yes, I know the Anarchists could show up and cause all manner of disruption.

Yes, I've heard the new president's supporters may also show up to shout at us, try to goad us into a confrontation, or pretend to be one of us while screaming outrageous epitaphs and showing outrageous images in order to sully our good intentions.

Yes, I know that even those on "our side" will approach the march in various ways -- in spite of a call for a silent march, it is guaranteed that there will be those refusing to march in silence.

Yes, I know we are a weaponized society and some crazy person could toss a bomb or start shooting at the crowd.  I know...I know...

And yet, I'm not giving in to your little diatribe of "what ifs".  Am I apprehensive?  Yep.  And I terrified?  Nope.  All will be well no matter what happens.  Because I am willing to risk any or all of the scary scenarios you are throwing at me.

I hear you...you are trying to get me to call in sick and watch it on TV.  I'll admit there is some attraction to doing that.  But you don't understand...this is a monumental thing we are protesting.  We are exercising our First Amendment rights to stand up for our very Democracy, for dignity and human rights, for freedom of the press, for our environment -- all the things this new administration is eager to dismantle.  This is no time to cower on the couch.

I'm also marching for women.  I remember too well every time in the campaign when he denigrated women, admitted to sexual assault of women, ridiculed Hillary and called her a "Nasty Woman".  As I watched him do this, I shook as the buried memories of my own experiences with horrible, predatory men surfaced.  I march for us.  For my granddaughters, who I want so much to be raised in a nation where care, compassion, dignity, grace, equality, and inclusion are the norm.  I march because I am furious that I even have to march for the basic human rights and dignities that have been trampled by this man who has taken the oath of an office today that he does not deserve to hold.

So, you see, you can't sway me this time.

I've laced up my hiking boots.  I've donned my official Washington State Women's March sweatshirt.
I'm meeting up with good friends shortly, hopping on a bus, spending the night in Seattle, and making my way with the throngs early tomorrow morning to the rally that will kick off the march.  I will be there.  I will be "full in", not watching from the sidelines.   You will likely be with me, I know.  Come on along; maybe you'll learn not to be such an ass.  Cuz sometimes you just have to shut the hell up and do what must be done, even when you're a little bit scared.

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

Monday, January 16, 2017

PRE-MARCH TANTRUM

Well, the Shiny Sisters (two close friends and me) gathered in my living room today.  I thought it was going to be a two-hour coffee and catch-up since we've all been busy with the holidays and then travels since the first of the year.  But no.  It was a 5 hour gab-fest.

Gab-fest sounds like a bunch of giddy gals gossiping and eating bonbons.  We did NOT gossip.  (And we ate a winning combination of chocolate covered candied pecans, tangerines, and dried apple slices.  Fruits and nuts in other words. Healthy.)

We are all marching on Saturday in the Seattle version of the post-inaugural Women's March on Washington DC.  Seattle is projected to have the 2nd or 3rd largest march in the nation.  We'll see.  But the numbers 50,000-100,000 marchers has been bandied about.  I don't really like crowds, so I'm panicking ever such a little bit.   I hope to stick to the edges -- an aisle seat so to speak.

Thinking and planning around our participation in the march today, we three all agreed that the shock of November 8th has not really worn off.  Nothing is the same as it was before then in terms of emotional stability.  Anger, rage, disbelief, and dismay fight with the longing for peace, understanding, calm, and presence.  Overwhelm and the inability to discern what is most important among the multitudes of issues arising struggle with the desire to focus on that particular issue or two that speaks to our hearts most passionately, such that we can shut out the other calls for demands on time and attention and devote ourselves to that which we feel most drawn to protect, to promote, to ensure.  So much is at stake.  So much just feels crazy right now.

We three are a microcosm of the emotional upheaval that is causing, in my judgment, an entire nation to feel rather tense and unsure.  One of he Shinys started out stating that she is cynical that the system itself can be trusted; that nothing we do will really matter; nothing will change for either party.  We are doomed.  The other Shiny offered that the Republic may not survive; that Citizens United has us all in its clutches and the money flowing to candidates will win out over the cries of protesters, but still we must try.  Both felt a focus on "working locally" was likely the more strategic and productive way to go.   I sat there slouching in my chair pissed and deflated.  Why were we making all these calls to legislators on speed dial then?  Why was I sending emails and letters and reading about arcane Senate voting rules and memorizing names of Senate committee members?  Why were we even marching?

"Local?"  I sort of shouted.  "What the hell does that even mean?  Do I have to go sit at a School Board meeting and discuss next year's paper towel budget?  Go to a city council meeting and listen to ordinance issues?  Find out who the hell is on the county council cuz I'm ashamed to admit I don't even know?!?   How does "local" translate into pushing back on a president who is a crazy man and an agenda that will gut the progress we've made on so many human rights and environmental fronts?"

I sort of had a tantrum; I felt like "Fuck it; I'm wasting too much time on this.  Where's my coloring book?"  But of course, my vacillation between rage and inspired activism on every level is that of so many these days.  The tension between wanting to fix this brokenness somehow and just being so overwhelmed and angry at this predicament means the screaming and crying need to periodically be given voice in order to calm again and move forward with some modicum of intelligence and grace.  Emotions need to vent; then the mind can proceed to planning and doing.

So, off we will go.  You should see the multi-paged organizational document one Shiny has produced for the group of 20 of us who are meeting for dinner the night before, staying in Seattle at a downtown hotel, then getting ourselves to the starting point of the 4 mile march and home again from the end point.  It has taken so much time, skill, determination, and passion to create just this logistical plan.

But it feels good and we feel ready -- doubts, cynicism, anger, dismay, and all.  Because you show up.  Because this is time for not backing down, not accepting the unacceptable.  None of us want to be loud and rude and certainly not violent.  I will be marching in silence as is being encouraged by the march organizers (and rejected by those who want to shout out their chants and pains).   But putting bodies on the front lines, getting off the sofa, away from the computer, turning off the TV and making our own bit of history will make a statement and we will take a stand for our values, our vision, our ideals.  It's what must happen on Saturday because it's the right thing to do.

I hosted two movie nights at my house pre-election, one about the suffrage movements in England and one about the same in the US.  At the time it was a celebration of women and the power of the vote, on what we thought was the eve of electing our first woman president.  Now I think of those brave women and join them in what may well be mean streets, where our banners will wave, our signs will be hoisted, and our voices will rise loudly or be muted in silent witness to this country I love, to the Republic which must stand.

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


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

DATELINE: SOUTH LAKE TAHOE

DATELINE SOUTH LAKE TAHOE.  Weather Update:  The sun is out, shining down on about 3 feet of newly fallen snow in the Heavenly Ski Resort Village in the past 48 hours.

After driving 2 long days to get here, through stretches of horrifying ice and snow on I-5 from Portland to Cottage Grove, Oregon on Day 1 then through raging winds, pouring rains, and alongside threatening to overrun the highway flood stage rivers on Day 2,  we got here late Sunday afternoon to discover that "Heavenly", the mountain, was closed to snow sports due to power outages and high winds.  And remained closed until this morning.  (Worst storm in a decade!  Yay timing!)  Imagine the mood of my snowboarding-fanatic husband.  Not good.  But to his credit and newfound "mindfulness" and acceptance of the present moment, he did not rant or pout (much) and substituted snowboarding with snowshoeing yesterday and seemed relatively (very relatively) content-ish.  But this morning, he was out the door with high hopes and it looks like he might be having a great day up there in the powder.  I hope so.

As for me, my vacation week is much as I expected it to be regardless of snow conditions.  I brought my snowshoes along, but that was just an "idea" more than a plan.  He went out in a blizzard yesterday, and admitted he was happy I didn't go.  He was rather miserable on his return trek along the lakeshore as the wind blew pellets of wet snow in his face.  He came back soaked!  He knew I'd have hated it.  So, I've been hanging out in our sweet cozy condo with my computer, my books and magazines, a fridge full of food, and my coloring books.  I am sort of compulsively addicted to coloring right now.  I got two new books for Christmas and a new 100 pack of watercolor brush pens.  That's MY idea of Heavenly!  They also offer yoga here at the resort.  I'm all set.

We've explored the Village here and I was left feeling a bit disappointed at the limited number of little shops close by -- I expected more diversity.   Lots of ski gear and clothing shops, tons of restaurants, a couple of coffee places (yes, Starbucks, of course), a real estate office, a donut shop...and one cute little boutique called "What a Girl Wants" (they were right) where I bought two overpriced shirts (one for yoga and one lightweight hoodie) that are super cute!

We wandered over the state line (we are currently in California -- a block away is Nevada) to Harrah's Casino, a behemoth of a drab gray reflective building that looks a bit like a high security prison with its no window aesthetic.  Of course that's to confuse the gamblers into losing track of time passing...hours, days, weeks.  We are not casino people.  We walked in and saw all the slots (that don't even spit out money anymore!), roulette tables,  21 tables and the sad looking people staring like zombies at the games, smelled the stale cigarette odor, used the restroom, walked to the next closest exit, and left.  Casinos are soul-deadening places, in my judgement.  Vegas has a certain attraction because it's so iconic and it has a vibrancy with lots of shows and people-watching, but as a rule, the actual casino part of Vegas is also sort of awful.  Haven't been there in many years; no desire to go.  So, no, the casino wasn't a distraction choice for us while waiting for the mountain to open.

Instead we went to another Marriott sales presentation and bought some more Destination Points.  That's their thing now instead of "timeshare".  You buy points and "spend" them on various vacation options -- resorts, airfare, guided tours, hotels, luxury home rentals,  cruises, "experiences" like the Kentucky Derby, Grand Prix, etc.  Of course we had NO intention of buying anything, but we'd been talking about taking one of the European River cruises and spending some time in the British Isles.  (HaHa!!! I say this like a seasoned traveler.  We've never left the North American Continent!)  And we have an idea of doing a family vacation with our adult children and grandchildren.  We have many ideas for modest (by some standards), comfortable (by any standard) travel and this will help us realize some of them.  Hub has always wanted to travel more than I, but I'm starting to come around.  A little.  On my own terms.  Will keep you posted.

Vacations do provide one thing, regardless of unexpected snafus.  They get us out of the normal routine.  An unintended consequence of our slowed down trip due to the driving conditions over the weekend was more time in the car together to talk.  We love to either be totally silent in the car, or to talk for hours.  Sunday was talk day.  We did sort of a review of our lives together and talked about what may have happened had we made different choices along the way; what we'd have missed and what we might have gained -- or not.  It was a time of deep sharing and reflection and helped us both know ourselves and each other better.  We love that kind of thing.  Introspection, teasing out with questions to each other the next layer of thought and feeling about our perceptions, our decisions, our hopes and dreads.  We always end up feeling closer.  And for that, even a trip that is less than perfectly meeting our expectations is actually an opportunity for growth and connection that would have been lost in the routines of home.  A good thing.

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