Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Tuesday Night Grumble and Gratitude

I was going to just grumble grumble grumble. Grumble about that silly movie Green Room winning the Oscar for Best Picture (see my very early dis of it here), grumble about the Bird Photographer leaving town for a week, grumble about all the dumb shit and people we have to put up with who are supposed to be running the country, grumble about always feeling like I need to lose some pounds but knowing that I'll probably never lose some pounds, grumble about doing my taxes and figuring out how to pay for not one but two children in college, grumble about still not having a good doctor to take Sophie to for general issues, grumble about the state of my house, how it's overflowing with books unread and the stack of papers that make up my manuscript that will, perhaps never get written. Grumble, grumble, grumble. The Catholic Church, Paul Manafort, The Methodist Church, sex trafficking, the mediocrity of culture, obscenely rich people -- the grumbles are rolling.

You wanted to hear that, right?

Here's the thing. Despite that silly movie winning, there were a host of truly beautiful, mind-blowing films that should have won it, and I'm grateful for having seen those movies and beyond grateful that there are artists in the world with vision and grace and bravery doing their work. Despite the Bird Photographer leaving me to go shoot birds (with a camera not a gun) in another state, I'm grateful to be partnered with such an extraordinarily talented and sweet man who is doing what he loves best, observing beauty, making beauty. Despite the state of Terrible America, I am grateful for investigative reporters that continue doing their work informing us, digging deep, and I'm grateful to have a brain that is willing to dig deep and wrap itself round difficult things and parse them out. Despite needing and wanting to lose weight, to look like I did twenty-five years ago, I'm grateful to have this strong body that on its best days can lift a 75 pound woman, can walk up a hill to an overlook and gaze out on a shining city with snow-capped mountains and blue skies behind and above it. This body can love, and I'm grateful for that, too. Despite the horror of going through my medical expenses and all the other paperwork I need to do, including just facing the numbers, the dismal numbers, I'm grateful that I finally have a great job that I love. Despite the existential threat to my sanity that thinking about BOTH sons off and away from me in the fall, I am so grateful that they are such fantastic beings with their whole lives ahead of them. Plus, they're damn cute. Despite the tedium of finding a doctor for Sophie and the grappling with CTSS (chronic traumatic stress syndrome), I am grateful that she is doing well on her current regimen of CBD and IVIG, and that she has such a terrific aide at her adult day program. In fact, I think you need to see a recent photo of  the girl:

 Here she is contemplating Art.

And here she is contemplating the Bird Photographer:

Despite the cluttered house, the books to be read and the books to write, I am grateful to be surrounded by all of it, all of it, to have so much beauty in my life, so much love, so much for which to be grateful.

The end.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Whispering Pines

We are having such crystal clear days here, cold and bright and wintry. We are getting rain, too, and earlier this evening there were reports of snow and hail in Malibu. I don't feel clear, though. I feel as if I'm moving around, doing stuff but only half-way, my mind divorced from my body, and I'm hard put to describe the dissociation. I've got the lines to the Band's "Whispering Pines" in my head, the if you find me in a gloom, or catch me in a dream, inside my lonely room, there is no in-between and whispering pines. Whispering. That's what it feels like. My mind and body, whispering. I had a dream the other night that I lay on a crowded city street with people crouched over me, around me. I was being administered some kind of intravenous fluids, yet I felt no pain nor panic but only this insistent loneliness exacerbated by the presence off-screen, off-dream, in one of those city towers of Carl's old girlfriend (!) who was somehow involved in the ministering to me. Yeah. I woke from this dream and felt it like a hangover for hours, the vague, unsettling head fatigue and nausea of it.

Whispering Pines is a song for old love, from an old love, long love, early love, lost love, gone love, forever love and lovers.


Need, like an echo.


An angel came today and did Reiki with Sophie.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Trauma in an Insane World

So yes, the world is broken. We have fallen from the Garden. But this is just a reflection of our own broken relations. Instead of obsessing over the fallen state of the world, it is incumbent upon each of us to take universal responsibility by looking within. It is only from that internal place of healing and strength that we will find the cure for what ails the world.

Zhiwa Woodbury, from Healing Our Trauma Together in an Insane World

When my Lyft pulled up to the intersection near the school where I work, a line of cars blocked the view, but it wasn't hard to see how many police cars were parked alongside the building. I got out of the car and walked toward the corner, my heart beginning to race. Yellow tape blocked the perimeter of the school, and traffic was being diverted. It was Valentine's Day and the one-year anniversary of the Parkland shooting. I spoke to a bystander who told me that there had been a shooting outside the school. It's a Jewish school and synagogue. You don't need to know much more than that to feel dread. I was allowed to go into the school in a private entrance and faced a sort of controlled chaos that I won't soon forget. This is what happened. A self-identified transgendered woman (I am loathe to write that out, but it has context as for the next few hours we spoke of "him," and "the guy" and evidently those hunkered down in the identity wars claim that it's a sign of persecution) had roamed about the school for nearly an hour, surveying it and taking photos and videos with a sophisticated camera. This alarmed the armed security guard, for obvious reasons. It's a Jewish school. All of this was monitored inside by women in the office who can see everything through security cameras. The security guard asked the woman to stop taking photos. They "got into it." The women inside called the police. They called the police several times. The guard went inside the locked gate, an open vestibule that protects the inner, also locked door. We don't know what was going on inside the guard's mind, but eventually he pulled his gun out of the holster  (live-streamed by the woman who, it turns out, is a You Tuber) and cradled the gun, insisting that the woman stop filming the school. We don't know what prompted him to, but he shot the gun toward the sidewalk where it evidently ricocheted and hit the woman in the leg. All of this is on the woman's live stream with narration, including constant profanity. Eventually, the police came. They arrested the security guard and took the woman to the hospital who walked out with what is called "a graze." Meanwhile, back in the school we spent the remaining periods talking through the drama and calming the girls. It was intense. Later, we learned that the woman has a history of provoking incident at government facilities. She claims to be protecting the 1st Amendment. She does all of this live and streams it o YouTube. The language. You Tube. Live-stream. Transgender. Self-identified. Hate. The guard has been charged with committing assault with a deadly weapon.

I know what I think. I think it's insane to carry a gun. I think the belief that you are protecting yourself with a gun is dumb. I think it's unfortunate that the security guard felt he had to fire it. I think it's insane to believe that the YouTubers identity as a transgendered woman should be an issue in this story -- on any side. I think it's terrible to walk around a Jewish school in Los Angeles and live-stream the recording. I think YouTubers are sick and disturbed people, their vocation useless. I think it's horrible that the LAPD didn't respond more quickly and that the security guard felt so much pressure to shoot. I think it's terrible that school shootings and hate crimes are so prevalent, our minds naturally go toward them at the slightest provocation. I think that you couldn't possibly make this shit up, and if you do, you are disturbed.

With all that in mind, I read this amazing article today about trauma and environmental catastrophe.

There is so much good in the world.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Amusing Health Insurance Anecdote of the Day: Matchmakers

Old Lady Sophie

Sophie's estimable private health insurance company, Blue Shield of California, has been sending out a number of "helpful" missives in the last month. Today we received a notice that as a PPO member, having a PCP means you have a doctor you can turn to for healthcare advice -- whether it's preventive care, treating common illnesses and injuries, or help determining if you need more specialized care. The letter then politely continues to explain why Sophie received the letter and what else she might find enclosed: a list of members covered under your plan and each member's PCP match. Your PCP match was based on factors such as where you live, your age and your primary language. I scanned the rest of the page's verbiage that I've read quite literally hundreds of times, partly to stave off what generally ends in some nightmarish proposal for rate increases or claim denials, and partly because there's always some fodder in them for the old blog. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this time, Blue Shield of California had indeed made a match for Sophie and the match had a telephone number with an area code quite close to mine. Sophie needs a general internist, so I considered it serendipitous. I have an open heart and the hopes of flocks of birds.

Reader, I looked him up.

This doctor's specialty was GERIATRICS. In fact, he is a prominent geriatrician who has been in practice for over 45 years. I am now wondering what sort of algorithm was used to make this match. The tiny little mother mind™ is thinking all sorts of funny and probably to some of you, sad things, but mostly she's shaking the damn head that holds her that she fell for this gesture of humanity from an American health insurance company.  The last line of the missive was this: We hope that you take advantage of the opportunity to build a lasting relationship with your PCP. 

Yours in good health.

Bless their hearts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A Show About Humanity with Two Guys In Charge

Have ya'll been listening to Jason Lehmbeck's and my podcast? I sure hope you are, but if you're not, you should start today because two of the finest young men on the planet had a discussion with us about what it's like being a sibling and growing up in a family with a child who is medically complex or who has special needs. Confession: it's getting more and more difficult for me to figure out how to write a descriptor -- how to describe my daughter in language that is clear and factual and that doesn't further stigmatize her or others like her. Special needs, medically complex, disabled, differently abled, people first, etc. etc. ad nauseum in these -- what should I can them? -- fraught times.

Anyway, my son Henry and his roommate Toby spoke on Who Lives Like This?! about their lives growing up in families with one or more children with disabilities. They also talked about their feelings, their friendship, their futures and their hopes. They shared their wisdom and experience. I think they will open your minds and break open your hearts.

Here's the link to the show. Please do us a favor and share it far and wide. We hope to continue to build a community, and this show is not just for those affected by disability or medical issues or caregiving. Dare I say it's a show about humanity?

Who Lives Like This?!

Saturday, February 9, 2019


I haven't written here in over a week, and I haven't visited many of your blogs. I have, mainly, been out of sight. I was helping to take care of my uncle who had a bad fall and was recuperating in rehab and then my house. I was glad to do it as he's family and has been very good to us, but man oh man. Caregiver central. Fortunately, my father and cousin Philip came out this past week and helped me with all things caregiving, so I'm feeling a tad more sane. Here's my cousin Philip getting all the love from me. He is really more of a brother to me than cousin as he lived with my family for a number of years when his parents, my aunt and uncle died, and my parents became his guardians.

I sure do love him. I didn't get a good picture of me and my dad together, although I did get a good picture of my dad wearing a man purse, but I won't post it here. I'll tell you this much -- he looks good even in a bright orange cable sweater AND a man purse.

I went to Portland a week ago with my dear writer friend, Tanya Ward Goodman. She sprang me from the confines of home and caregiving, got us a fabulous hotel room and coaxed me to not only do some writing of the goddamn book but to walk over 12,000 steps on both days we were there! We went to see the glorious Pam Houston, Lidia Yuknavitch and Cheryl Strayed celebrate the recent publication of Pam's new memoir Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country. I haven't yet read it, but I heard her read parts of it, and it sounds beyond beautiful.

I was called up on stage that night with Pam, not because I'm a writer or because I am about to finish my goddamn book, or even because she knows me, but because she was playing Truth or Dare with Cheryl and Lidia, and one of the truths was that she was in a sorority, and one of the dares was for her to sing a sorority song. She was up on stage and turned to the audience to ask whether anyone else was in this particular sorority, and I don't know what came over me, but I revealed that I was (Reader, you might not be aware that I was in a sorority, and it's not something that I talk about nor will I, but even though it's sort of embarrassing in this day and age, I actually found beautiful lifelong friendships and had a smattering of fun back in the day -- plus, you know, Pam Houston was one, too), and there was an enormous roar in the place and I fainted dead away. Just kidding. I raised my hand, and because this was in PORTLAND and everyone there was a Lidia, Pam or Cheryl acolyte, no one else in the entire place (and there were hundreds of women in there) owned up to being in this particular sorority, EXCEPT FOR YOURS TRULY. So, yeah. Pam called me up on stage, and everyone around me yelled at me to GO! so I went. Pam sang and I pretended to sing one of our sorority's stupid songs, and it was actually kind of fun if you like singing with a famous author in front of two other famous authors and an auditorium full of Portlanders. Here's the still photo from the video that Tanya took:

And here I've gone and revealed it to more people. Holy shitoly. Now you know everything about me. Just so you won't hate me, here's a photo of me back in the day at a party. I was not drunk but I was wearing a wig for some reason, and that blue shirt is actually a dress that I tucked into a pair of tuxedo pants. It was 1983, for god's sake, and I was thin.


Here's another one.

How about that clown collar? Underneath was a black velvet dress with a jewel neck. The collar buttoned on. A few drinks later, here I am:

So, there you go, Reader. I showed you what I was doing back last week and then way, way back to when.

What's happening with you?


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