Friday, May 2, 2014

Are you out there readers? It's me, Kelly.

I'm not even sure I know how to write a post anymore. 

"It seems like yesterday" has turned into almost two years, a return to conventional employment, a life in a new state, sadness and joy, and change beyond measure.

I began this blog five years ago, on the verge of 50, as an anonymous exploration of midlife. For a few years I wrote reasonably often and reasonably well. 

Then I just stopped.

Perhaps I shall start again. The time seems right.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Step Back and Breathe

A bit of my political "wisdom:" If people selected sexual and life partners like they select political candidates these days, our species would die out in a generation. We don't expect our partners to match our criteria 100%. We overlook faults, differences, and quirks because we see the big picture.
Why do we insist that a candidate support our beliefs 100%? If 80% is good enough for marriage, why not for the presidency?
Politicians used to accomplish great things through negotiation and compromise. Now they scream soundbytes and have their SuperPACs dispense vitriol.
Discourse is getting overheated, so let's all step back for a bit. Indulge my tendency to take a meta-view. Say what you will about profit-driven networks, seems the nation was more civil when everyone watched the same three channels - ABC, CBS, NBC - and the networks did not expect their news divisions to be profit centers. We still had two parties and diverse attitudes, but we were nicer about it.
Now that news divisions are expected to generate profits and ratings and people can choose their news (via cable, talk radio, newspapers, and the Internet) to match their views, we seem to have lost the ability to understand and respect the positions of those with whom we disagree. I remember when my mother supported Johnson and my father supported Goldwater and nary a cross word was uttered. I honestly can't say the same about my own home these days. Mea culpa. 
I've read some heated comments on my Facebook page that give me pause. Who among us can be certain of anything? Now that we can source-shop to support our positions, it's good to remember that believing something doesn't make it true, reading or hearing something doesn't make it true, and saying something doesn't make it true. Pardon the arrogance of my mantra, "Certainty is the New Arrogance."
If we started our sentences with "My position is X" rather than "X!!!" we might actually accomplish something through consensus and compromise. Try this for the next week and see if the rhetorical temperature around you settles into a more pleasant range.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Best Words Ever

This morning on KERA - our local public radio station - I heard the best words ever:

"A high of 78"

It can only improve from here.

Get out and enjoy the north wind.  Look for geese. Think of better times to come.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Could be......Who knows?

Really, friends.  I never intended this blog to go fallow. Life has had other ideas.

For now, I'm going to aim for once-a-month...kind of the post-menopausal version of cramps.

I've been in a tub of glum for a good long while.  The details aren't really interesting (even to me), so you shall be spared. I am, sadly, not one of those writers who is spurred on by adversity.  If I were, you wouldn't have enough time to read about 2012.

But this week feels different.

Fall approacheth.

I've blogged before (here, here, here, and here for example ) about my deep-seated love of autumn.

My fellow hell-dwellers here in Texas can attest to the cruel trick Nature played on us recently, that morning when we woke up to weather in the high 50s.  One of fall's harbingers in these parts is the first time you walk outdoors and find the Air Out There cooler than the Air Inside Here.  While it is true that the temperatures are marginally cooler, one morning does not fall make. Especially if the afternoon brings a high way up in the 90s.

This morning, however, I saw a more reliable sign.  The light has changed.

I am seriously impaired when it comes to the visual arts.  My stick figures are below the 50th percentile.  I don't have the vocabulary to describe this, so bear with me.

Summer light here is harsh.  It's white. It's brutal and unforgiving.  It can start as early as March and last into November in a bad year.

Fall light is softer. It's golden. It gilds things. It flatters. It can be as hot and uncomfortable as summer light, but does not bring the misery.

Today brought golden light.

And the acorns in my yard are twice the size they were last year.

So fall must be close.

And maybe -- just maybe -- we'll see winter.  Then I will have no choice but to cheer up!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Voting "Bock!"

 "Bock! Bock! Bock!"

Let's talk about Citizens United v. The Federal Election Commission (2010).

Waaaaaaay back in the late 1970s, my political science professor taught me that the branch of government that would have the strongest effect on my day-to-day life was the Supreme Court.  Decades after decades, decisions after decisions have proved him correct.

Thanks to the Citizens United case, our wallets are now our voter registration cards and our nation's cash registers are our ballot boxes.

Anyone who doubted Dr. Street's wisdom only needed to drive past a Chick-Fil-A yesterday to witness an object lesson. While I cannot confirm this figure, I read today that Chick-Fil-A - that supporter of "Biblical Families" - earned an entire quarter's of profits in one day. One. Day.*

If one individual, Mike Huckabee in this case, can mobilize such an economic tsunami, those of us who hope for President Obama's November reelection should sit down and make some plans.

Do not be deluded.  Put down your delicious glass of Pinot Gris and LISTEN. 

It is extremely likely that our next president will be Mitt Romney.


President Obama swept into office on the votes of individuals who were not "players" in prior elections.  Many of those individuals did not get exactly the things they had hoped for.  For this reason, they are unlikely to believe that voting is worth the effort.  Evangelical Christians do not have this problem.  They will not stay home, no way no how.

Several years ago while waiting in a checkout line, I heard a child tell his mother he wanted a rubber chicken he spied on the display rack.  She replied, "Sweetheart, you don't need a rubber chicken."  After a pause, he said, "I want something I need."

Isn't this what voting comes down to?  We all want something we need.

Right now, voters need reassurance. They want to believe that one candidate or the other will quash their fears and deliver a rubber chicken.

Guess what?  There is no rubber chicken.

Instead, there are RIGHTS. And LIBERTY.  And FREEDOM.

Basic civil rights - like marriage and decisions about your own actual body - belong to all Americans, gay, straight, purple, male, or female.  Those uppercase words are in danger for many of us.

I will put my money where my mouth is.  I will respect the right of those who disagree with me to vote for whomever they choose.  I will respect the rights of those who do not believe a woman's body is her own to not get abortions.  I will respect the rights of those who do not believe gay Americans deserve the property advantages marriage bestows to stay home from gay weddings.  And I will support the right of evangelical Christians to buy chicken sandwiches until the cows come home.

After all, this is America.

If, however, you believe that rights are universal - without regard to color, gender, or sexual orientation - I beg you to do whatever you can to bring out the vote for President Obama in November.

Everyone deserves more than a rubber chicken.

*Correction: This figure turned out to be an exaggeration. The last figure I read was eight million, a record one-day profit. Still...the money here is stupendous.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A little love letter....

Yesterday, the heavens opened and rained down love upon me, love dressed in the clothes of The World's Best Friends.

Just over a month since my sister's death, I found myself hard up against the deadline to clear out her apartment. 

I'd been through the rehearsals for this last August when she moved from a non-assisted senior complex into a wonderful assisted living facility, and the year before that when she moved to the senior complex from the house she'd shared with our mother.  Over the years, she had turned into - if not a full-blown hoarder - a person with a serious inability to part with stuff.  She wasn't a generalist, like the folks you see on reality TV, their spaces full of every item they've ever touched.  She was a woman with specific attachments.  While she was more than willing to toss things like family photos ("Why should I keep those? What's the point?" she asked as Young Girl and I pulled our history from the large green trash bin after my mother's death), she refused to part with a single book, be it a cheesy circa-1962 "annual" from the pharmaceutical giant for which my father worked (full of head shots of every intravenous fluid salesman in the country), one of four outdated dictionaries, or one of the dreadful romances or cozy-mysteries she favored. She had mock turtlenecks in every color L.L Bean produced in any given five-year period with fake Crocs to match. In the last move, I did manage to coax her down to 25 shapeless fleecy vests.  You get the picture.

Handling the tangible evidence of a lost life is always complicated, but doing so in an assisted living facility is exponentially more so. With every box or bag you cart down the hallway, you see realization of their near future on the faces of the elders you pass, regardless of their level of cognitive capacity.  They all know what it means when the furniture starts to move.  I did my best to work while people were in the dining room or at "Sit-er-Size" or bingo, but contact was unavoidable and painful all around. I told myself I was putting the task off because of my other responsibilities - funny how busy we become when we need to be - but the truth was I just didn't want to do it.  Too much finality.

I'd declined many offers of help. Part of me somehow felt I was doing some kind of penance, paying attention after the fact, and that such things needed to be done in isolation.  But the unit had been rented for August and it was Time.

I asked the fabulous women of First Amendment Friday if they could help me for a couple of hours yesterday.  I needed, I told them, help bagging up and loading the items I was sending to the Women's Crisis Center resale shop.  If we had time, maybe we could take some of the smaller stuff to my house in our cars.  Then we'd have lunch, and discuss a time when their teenage sons might be available to move the larger things.

Every one of them who was in town showed up at the appointed hour, and pitched in with organization and discernment that was far beyond my capacity. They knew what to do when I didn't and they did it. Before I really knew what had happened, my van was full of the resale bags and boxes, and their cars were packed to the brim with keeper things.  We dropped those at my house, delivered to the resale store, then rendezvoused for lunch.

Cue the cloudburst.

While we waited for our food, they announced that they'd decided they were going to take care of the rest of it that afternoon. Without my help.  They realized, they told me, that I'd reached my capacity and they took away the keys to my sister's apartment. After lunch, they came to my house and commandeered my van.

About an hour later, four chosen sisters, two of their husbands, and five assorted teenage sons and their friends descended upon me with everything in tow.  Everything.  Some went into the garage, some into the house. My van was packed with boxes of books I plan to sell a few towns away. I stood in my bare feet with my drawn, sad face and watched true friendship in action.

This post goes out to you, my friends.  My birth family may be gone, but your love and support hold me close in ways it never did.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Next Chapter

Once again, I emerge from the depths with a little update and yet another promise to resume blogging.  Maybe this time it will take. For now? Three cheers for bullet points.

  • My sister died on Thursday, June 21.  You can find the Whole Sad Story in previous posts.  Her Stage IV breast cancer was diagnosed 6 months before our mother's death in 2009. She endured chemo, whole brain radiation, gamma knife surgery and suffered the worst side effects of them all.  We found out, about six months ago, that the cancer had returned in her bones; her subsequent rapid decline led us to infer that it had again bloomed in her brain.  The amazing nurses at Home Hospice   and Traditions Senior Living and Memory Care, who took such good and kind care of her over the last year, believe she had a left-side stroke on or about June 14.  I believe that most of her final week was pain free, for which I am grateful. 
  • Young Girl is tall, strong, beautiful, and smart at the twelve-thirteen midpoint.  She's an inch and a half taller than I am and stealing my shoes. The last six weeks of school were a struggle thanks to a nasty bout of drug-resistant strep combined with mononucleosis.  All of this made the crutching required by her knee injury even more atrocious.  She rarely made it through more than two hours of school each day, but still finished with straight As and outstanding test scores.  I could not be any prouder. She's enjoying a second much-deserved week at camp and will visit a friend in Tennessee next month, her first solo flight.
  • Our friends are our rocks right now, our true family.  Some of you know the details of the Great Unpleasantness (there's a southern euphemism for you, right up there with "The War of Northern Aggression") afoot in The Man's extended family.  Let's just say that my chosen sisters and brothers restore my faith in humanity.
  • I agreed to humiliate myself in a production at our local children's theater, opening July 6. I'd forgotten how much fun it can be to play.  This was a much needed lesson.