the promise of making it after all

Under The Big Top and in the mom-car the last few days an old song was heard which prompted a few questions from my darling son who could not possibly understand the impact a 70’s sitcom with a upbeat, simple theme song could have

How could he?

But for his mama this show did leave it’s mark. Oh to have that perfect shoulder length flip, drive that mustang and have that apartment — of course there would be a giant L on the wall. When that show first aired in 1970, and through the next seven years, it opened the eyes and sparked the imaginations of many young girls and women probably more than the actual leaders of the Women’s Liberation Movement whom we might have seen on the CBS Evening News with good old Walter Cronkite.

Who?!

Never mind, son.

Here was a beautiful, single woman who was a career girl and not a career girl in the acceptable career girl type of jobs. She drove a cool car, lived in an even cooler apartment, always fashionably dressed and, while she certainly had her fair share of love and infatuations, she didn’t seem to need a man in her life to take care of her. At least that was how I saw it then and recall it now.

Daniel still doesn’t see the point.

He couldn’t. He’s a boy. He’s a boy born in this century where it is a given that women in his life do have choices — not just that choice — girls and young women now can imagine being almost anything when they grow up…wives…mommies…teachers…nurses…artists…business owners…scientists…politicians…almost anything with hard work, education and opportunity. When I was a girl, the sky was so much more limited. As a young girl, what could be more aspirational than your own sofa bed and bubble bath, with girlfriends popping in and out, boasting hilarious problems and even funnier bell-bottoms? When I was a young girl, going to college and getting a good job was expected, but it was a means to an end — to fall in love, to marry, to have babies, to take care of the babies and the home. The Mary Tyler Moore Show showed that there was more out there. Yes, I grew up and followed a traditional female career path, I did marry and did have a few babies too. But I continued to work in my chosen field. I raised my daughters to know that wherever their talents, education, hard work and a little luck takes them it is possible for them to make it, after all.

Maybe one of them can also master the iconic beret toss. I never could.

the year we find out we weren’t immortal

You know what’s funny about death? I mean other than absolutely nothing at all? You’d think we could remember finding out we weren’t immortal. Sometimes I see children sobbing at airports and I think, ‘Aww. They’ve just been told.’

Carrie Fisher

Three days more, y’all. Just three days more.

Right?!

Please.

Yeah, like pretty much everyone else on the inter webs, I’m going to say a little something about the passing of Carrie Fisher and the next day of her mother, Debbie Reynolds. I was thoroughly entertained by their talents; as were so many others. But at this moment I am recalling with gratitude the sometimes profane candor with which they publicly shared their lives together: relationships, addiction, living with mental illness, loving someone with mental illness.

Stars, they’re just like us…and our family because if my life wasn’t funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.

Enough, 2016. Enough.

because the sun still comes up and the earth still spins

It’s the day after the day after now and it still feels like September 12, 2001…and September 13, 2001 today.

Around the corner from The Big Top is a beautiful park where every day, as long as it isn’t balls hot, people gather playing on the playground, running, walking, doing cross fit or tai chi, hanging out, playing with their kids or dogs, playing soccer, flying kites, having parties and even one wedding I witnessed one Sunday morning. It is a vibrant place. It’s a place where neighbors call out a friendly good morning each and every time we loop past each other while running or waking its perimeter. It’s an amazing park and I love this park. I love this neighborhood!

Yesterday, as I drove past it taking Daniel to school and later as went to pick him up, I was struck how empty it was. Running errands, picking up Abby’s birthday cake and Bill’s prescriptions, the atmosphere every where was subdued, dimmed even much like the remnants of early morning Valley fog filtered the sunshine yesterday.

It felt so much like September 12, 2001 literally everywhere. That day after I was so sad, so mad, so scared and so paralyzed, as was pretty much every one else I came in contact with. Now the logical part of my brain knows Presidential election and its results is nothing like the day terrorists murdered thousands of innocent Americans crashing jets into buildings. But the thinking part of my brain also knows that a little less than half of Americans who did choose to exercise their right and responsibility to vote voted for a man who some of his own supporters admit that they believe him to be crazy, and he may get us killed, but at least he is going to be truthful with us. Yes, there is that, Crystal. Thanks! Mr. Trump might have won the electoral votes but he did not win the popular votes of those who actually did turn out to vote. So I am mad. I am mad at Crystal and those who think like her. I’m mad at the antiquated Electoral College that only benefitted early American landed gentry and often does not speak for or represent the people.

The part of me that is feelings is feeling all the feelings right now.

Yes, the anger is directed at all the Crystals and the friends who protested voting for Johnson or Stein as well as ALL the media who gave this man a stage pretty much gratis for the ratings. My friends and family who shared for us all how they literally had to hold their noses in the polling booth and today are expressing all your shock, anger denial, bargaining and acceptance, I see you. I see you clearly right now. I’m frustrated with the Bernie Bros now smugly declaring that they told us so and that Bernie would have defeated Trump…NO!

I am overwhelmed with sadness for myself for feeling so happy and optimistic just two days ago imagining that I was a part of making history for women like me, like my daughters and for little girls like my beautiful grand girls. Sad as I tried to answer my son when he asked how could an ugly angry bully win.

Then there is the fear. Fear that almost suffocates. Fear for what will happen if this President-elect is able to make good on any of his campaign promises because so many of them will have a direct affect on my family, my children, my grandchildren and other people who I love. Fear that envelopes watching the world financial markets plummet because they are likely just a little bit worried over what we have wrought. Fear because so much hate feels empowered and emboldened right now to let their hate flag fly because their guy won. Fear over the truth that the checks and balances afforded by our Constitution are legitimately in jeopardy with executive, legislative and soon, judicial branches all representing one party.

And then I circle back to more anger.

Pundit cousin Joe Scarborough tweeted yesterday a quote from Lincoln admonishing us all to end the divisiveness and come around to support our new President-elect, With malice toward none, with charity for all, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, and I answered back to give us a moment because, after all, the far Right took YEARS to mourn their losses after 2008. 

Yes, Mrs. Clinton and President Obama both, with grace called for the same thing reminding us that is one of the things that makes America great; and they both are right. Too right. But this is painful, and it will be for a long time. Hope was beaten down, battered and bruised Tuesday and it HURTS! We will heal. We will get back up again. We will because that is who we are as Americans which makes our peaceful transfer of power every four or eight years all the more one of the hallmarks that makes us truly great.

Give me a moment. Give all of us a moment.

Let us work through the painful grief we feel right now.

You know, the path that this country has taken has never been a straight line. We zig and zag and sometimes we move in ways that some people think is forward and others think is moving back, and that’s OK…

That’s the way politics works sometimes. We try really hard to persuade people that we’re right and then people vote. And then if we lose, we learn from our mistakes, we do some reflection, we lick our wounds, we brush ourselves off, we get back in the arena, we go at it. We try even harder the next time.

The point though is is that we all go forward with a presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens, because that presumption of good faith is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy. That’s how this country has moved forward for 240 years. It’s how we’ve pushed boundaries and promoted freedom around the world. That’s how we’ve expanded the rights of our founding to reach all of our citizens. It’s how we have come this far.

And that’s why I’m confident that this incredible journey that we’re on, as Americans, will go on.

~ President Barack Obama

the names

Fifteen years later, today I am going to leave this right here because literally anything else is just noise.

“The Names”

Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.

A soft rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,

And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,

I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,

Then Baxter and Calabro,

Davis and Eberling, names falling into place

As droplets fell through the dark.

Names printed on the ceiling of the night.

Names slipping around a watery bend.

Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.

In the morning, I walked out barefoot

Among thousands of flowers

Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,

And each had a name —

Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal

Then Gonzalez and Han, Ishikawa and Jenkins.

Names written in the air

And stitched into the cloth of the day.

A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.

Monogram on a torn shirt,

I see you spelled out on storefront windows

And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.

I say the syllables as I turn a corner —

Kelly and Lee,

Medina, Nardella, and O’Connor.

When I peer into the woods,

I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden

As in a puzzle concocted for children.

Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,

Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,

Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.

Names written in the pale sky.

Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.

Names silent in stone

Or cried out behind a door.

Names blown over the earth and out to sea.

In the evening — weakening light, the last swallows.

A boy on a lake lifts his oars.

A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,

And the names are outlined on the rose clouds —

Vanacore and Wallace,

(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)

Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.

Names etched on the head of a pin.

One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.

A blue name needled into the skin.

Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,

The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.

Alphabet of names in a green field.

Names in the small tracks of birds.

Names lifted from a hat

Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.

Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.

So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.

who tells your story

Hey, remember Judy?

Yes, of course, I remember her. She retired four years ago, right?

Yes. She died.

Oh my goodness!

She died three years ago.

Oh…Oh…

Yeah.

She did retire four years ago. She was given a wonderful sendoff with all the love and good wishes and promises of let’s keep in touch. But life…work…Cerner at work…family…life…you know.

No one, I guess, really kept in touch because life and all that. But sometimes late at night at work with a little downtime we talk, we laugh, we remember…and a name is dropped and we wonder, how is Judy these days? No one knows. Life, work, family and stuff, you know. Her name is searched on Facebook…even if she was never on Facebook and then she is Googled and, well…

Judy died October, 2013. She was preceded in death by her parents and brother. She worked as a Registered Nurse for forty years and found her calling in pediatric nursing. Judith was an artist in varied mediums and also enjoyed collecting and reading. Judith’s intensity in her interests was extended in her caring for those who were close to her.

Literally people, you have know control who lives, who dies, who tells your story.

And for a moment, I do reflect a little on the fact that there is no control once you are gone who tells your story.

Kind of hard for a girl like me who, in her adult life, almost demands a little control over who will tell my story when I’m gone. True, I write much of it down for all the reasons the arm chair therapists might imagine and for my children; but ultimately I have no control what parts are remembered, what parts will be re-told and what parts will be forgotten…even if I did write so much of it down.

Well, at least I know what shall be played at my memorial. Thank you Zoë!

Literally everyone should want Jesse L. Martin to sing  I’ll Cover You  at their memorial.

Rest in peace Judy.