Saturday, November 16, 2019

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

I can't remember when I first put up a protest sign on the freeway overpass near me. It must be going on two years now. It was seeing a retweet of a Freeway Blogger sign that prompted me to do my first. I reached out to Patrick after my first one -- all via Twitter of course -- and he gave me some hints for cardboard sources and other places to post in my little 'burb of Novato. He sent me maps with detailed instructions on how to access the prime destinations.

The first few signs stayed up for two weeks or more. The longest surviving sign was my "Families Belong Together" one. The elaborate "Where are the Children?" sign, decked out with small children's clothes, also stayed up quite awhile. The shortest length of time? About 10 minutes, when some asshat exited the freeway, threw a U-turn, pulled up to the sign, and yanked it down, yelling at me, "You can't do that." The sign? "Impeach."

I just came back from putting up "Bravo Masha," inspired by the amazing Marie Yovanovitch and her testimony yesterday at the House's Impeachment Inquiry hearing. That might be my new favorite sign, although I was pretty partial to "Vote Damn It," too.

You might think I'm wasting my time, here in this little San Francisco Bay Area bubble, that I'm just singing to the choir. I dispute that. Hammering home the crises we face, day in and day out, as a direct result of the current White House occupant and his band of death eaters, matters. I shout it on Twitter, too. And I shout it in postcard after postcard after postcard I send. And I shout it in the hundreds of letters I send. I shout it at rallies I hold and rallies I attend, too. And I shout it texting in support of various candidates.

Raise your voice. Stand up. Rise up.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The New Normal

Aunt Micki's husband died about five years ago. They had been married for more than 50 years, and she had dedicated the last seven or so years of his life to caring for him as his ailments, again and again, sent him to the hospital then rehab then home. When he died, her biggest task was getting accustomed to what she dubbed the "new normal."

When my Mom died in September, we all had to adjust to a new normal. She and Louise (my Mom) were born just 13 months apart. Louise moved down to Florida permanently and lived in the same active senior community as Micki. They were attached at the hip, even more so after Bill died. And when Mom was diagnosed in early 2017, it was Micki who took on the task yet again for caring and nurturing someone in ill health. Though there were bad stretches in the 2.5 years between her diagnosis and her death, Mom lived quite the active life during that time, only just stopping her thrice-weekly golfing this past summer. For Micki, the new normal has got to be hard as everywhere she goes, Louise is absent.

And my new normal? Meh.

I miss my Mom. I miss hearing her voice for real and not just in my head and in the voicemail messages I never deleted. It's been nearly two months, which means I'm past the timespan between my visits to her. I should be leaving on a red-eye tomorrow morning to spend five days with her. I should be in constant contact with her. But that's not the new normal.

The new normal for me is avoiding looking in the corner of my desk at the unopened sympathy cards sitting atop the box of her cremains. It is making her sour cream coffee cake in the tube pan that was hers. It's wearing her emerald ring and earrings, putting my hair back so the earrings are visible (something I just don't do as a rule). It's turning on the cow lamp that her sister Joanne gave her that Micki thought was ugly but that I relished as much as Mom did. It's wearing her pair of docksiders, her outrageously vibrant golf socks, and the fox shirt my cousin Deb gave her.

In sum? The new normal is just new. And normal.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Serendipity of Mickey Mouse

This is a true life story. It just happened yesterday. Pete and I were staying with our friend down in Pasadena on an unexpected trip the reasons for which I'll glide over at this point. While we were doing our own thing, our friend Leigh, her friend Bob, and her mom went over to have lunch in the Brewery area of L.A. and do some shopping. Back in the car, leaving to go home, Leigh spots a Mickey Mouse picture next to a dumpster, along with some artist-related gear and such.

She tells Bob to jump out of the Jeep and get the print, which he does, and they also look at the other items. Someone else comes as well and Bob asks, "Is this okay to do? Take this stuff?" "Sure, everyone does," the guy says.

It's only when taking it out of the car, after arriving at the house, that they look more closely at it. The matting is amazing, matching the colorful patterns on the print itself. They also see it is signed. And that it's a limited addition. And that it's embossed.


When Pete and I arrive back with Le Daughter last night, we know none of this. All we know is that Leigh wants to give Le Daughter that print. What you might not know about Le Daughter is she worked at the House of Mouse for two years as a cast member. (We jokingly call her a "furry" because we're funny like that.) Le Daughter is also someone who would feel very awkward being given what she figured must be a very expensive gift.

When Leigh told when we got home that she wanted Le Daughter to have it, both Pete and I were astonished as well. It sure looked like an expensive item. "Look," we said, "It's signed! And it's a limited edition! Wow! Wow!" The others go into the kitchen to get dinner on the table, and Le Daughter and I stayed looking at the print. She was really hesitant because of the presumed cost. I told her that Leigh wanted to do it and that a few hundred dollars means different to her than it does to Le Daughter (or even me). I also reminded her what Leigh said, which was to give the picture back to her if Le Daughter no longer wanted it.


We headed to the other room to eat, and that was when Leigh told us the story of how that picture came to be Leigh's to give to Le Daughter. Leigh was just so delighted at the thought of happening across that picture and, knowing Le Daughter was coming over, the whole serendipity of it all. 

"Mickey's World" now hangs in Le Daughter's living room. Each time she comes home or goes out, she will see it. For me, and I'm sure for Leigh, that picture brings my daughter to life. That IS a picture of Le Daughter. And she is loved.

 You can find one in a gallery. It goes for $3,500.

Thursday, November 7, 2019


Or, more precisely, the ripple effect.When one of my tribe is ecstatic, I am happy, too. When one is worried, I fret as well. And when one is overcome by remarkable sadness, I become overwhelmed with melancholy.

Oh, but if only it were just me experiencing the ripples. But it isn't me. It's never just me. And this isn't even about me. It's about the whirlpool of ripples taking out everyone in my tribe, which in turns ripples through their other tribes, leaving us all in a puddle of despair and hopelessness and fear, and anger at ourselves for giving in to all the darkness.

I am fortunate. I have been within those cascading and crashing ripples before. I have seen that there is safety once you can navigate through them. They do end. You do get through them. You will see and experience good and laughter and joy and camaraderie and friendship, and love. You will. I will. We will.

It's just extraordinarily difficult to see the shore right now. But I know it is there. I'm counting on it. And I'm banking on all of us making it there.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Babbling Brooke

Only my name's not Brooke.

But babble? I am fluent in babble. I also prattle. Maybe I should have entitled this "Prattling Patty." But that's not much of a play on words. And, now, fresh back from a Google search of synonyms of "babble," I am back to show you what the mighty Google overlords offered.

Sure, I've heard of "rattle on." Wait, what the hell is "gabble"? Okay, sure, "chatter" and "jabber." But then, whoa, "twitter." Is that what it means? Have I not once in the nearly dozen years I've been on Twitter made the connection with its name? I have not. Well, I have now.

Let me meander back to whence I started. About three weeks ago, I left Facebook. For all the good about the platform -- especially for the ability to have groups of folks able to discuss issues of shared concern (like the current White House occupant, his merry band of death eaters, and local politics) -- I just couldn't stay.

Following the 2016 election, I stayed even after it became apparent that Facebook, at a minimum, allowed Americans to be besieged by Russian social media antics. I stayed because I chalked it up to stupid people. And you just can't fix stupid.

But Zuckerberg has now decided that Facebook will allow campaigns and candidates to run ads filled with out-and-out lies. Stupid is one thing, but even the most advertising-resistant among us know that advertising works, and not just in the case of stupid people.

And so I left.

Twitter's Jack Dorsey faced the same issue with regard to political ads. He took a decidedly different approach and will no longer accept political ads. Period. I won't assign hero status to Dorsey. His decision to let Donnie Douchebag violate Twitters TOS is shameful, as is his failure to allow so many white supremacists to do the same. And those political ads represent just $3 million in revenue. (By contrast, they amount to $350 million for Facebook.)

So I will continue to twitter on Twitter. Come to find out, I'm apparently also going to get back to gabbling on here.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Time, it Flies, as Life is Fleeting

Eldest turned 23 yesterday. When I started claiming this little part of the Internet as mine, he was on the cusp of turning 10. If I were to go into the archives, I imagine I could find a post filled with awe that he would enter the double-digit age. "I can't believe he's THIS old," I likely exclaimed.

I am no longer surprised at the rapid progress of aging. Appalled? At times, sure. Before the epiphany that led to my deeply held atheism, I was an all-out believer. The nightly ritual of prayer has been replaced with thoughts of "I cannot believe I'm almost 60!" and "There's no way in hell we'll ever be able to retire" and "Oh, ugh, I hope I die before Pete."

That last thought, of course, is a direct result of the very recent and raw experience of my mother's death and the removing of all vestiges of her life from her home. I filled three boxes with those vestiges that would come home to me. Her cookbook, the one she got when she was 16, and the one she used over the next 67 years. Her recipe box, with so much goodness to savor. A couple of pairs of shoes. Her china. Remnants of her copper pots and pans collection. A blouse that I would never wear but that represents her so fiercely that I had to have it to hang in my closet and see every time I open it. A huge Rubbermaid container that holds a treasure trove of pictures for me to dive into before carting down to my sister and younger brother for them to do the same.

ImageIn the 2.5 years between her death sentence diagnosis and her death, we prepared. Kids and nieces and sisters identified what we would like of hers. The items she loved the most, she would press me to take. (I assume she pressed others as well.) "Don't you want the china, Patty?" "These rugs are so wonderful, are you sure you won't have them?" "What about the Japanese china cabinet?" "The elephants?" Although she didn't say it outright, what she wanted was to know the items that meant so much to her would mean the same to me. So I claimed everything she pushed onto me, to ease her mind, so that she could find a way to peace.

The three boxes and the china cabinet arrived Thursday, six weeks after her death. My house is now sprinkled throughout with her life. The ceramic frog that holds the brillo pad. The 1950 Betty Crocker cookbook. The non-stick tube pan that was used to make her sour cream coffee cake Saturday morning. Pewter rabbit salad set. The cup (with lid and straw!) I bought her to keep her hydrated. That blouse in the closet.

I walk through the house and no longer need a mirror to see my Mom.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

It Ends With a Bang

I'm feeding off the title of my last post, which I think has been more than a year ago.

I won't be doing this again.

But today, right now, I'm doing this. My Mom died a week ago. I am on her computer in her room in the house formerly known as Louise's.

I will write more, I think. But, for now, I want to make sure you all know that it might not end with a bang, but it ends.

Man, does it end.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

How Will it End?

Last year, when I dropped a bunch of weight with zero effort on my part and I was convinced I had some horrible disease that would be the end of me, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. I honestly was relieved because I found a way to extricate myself from my job: death. [There's a lot of back story to that, but suffice it to say that my overwhelming sense of honor had me feeling as if there was no way I'd ever be able to leave that company.]

Thinking about what I've just written, it sounds so very callous, particularly if someone you love -- or you, yourself -- is in the midst of dying. You might be outraged. I suggest not reading the rest of this post.

You know what other thoughts I had when I thought I was about to be handed a death sentence?

"I won't have to do all the work to downsize."

"My kids -- all of them -- will be all right."

"I hope I outlive my Mom."

"Why doesn't someone just kill VOTUS?"

But not once, during that entire time, did I give one thought that God exists. As most of my life I have been a believer, I know that in past times, I did seek solace in God. When my own Dad died. When my nightly prayer up until a few years ago was to say the "Lord's Prayer," and ask God to keep my kids "healthy, happy, safe and free from harm." [No, I'm not entirely sure why "safe" and "free from harm" both came to be utterances. They strike me now as remarkably similar.]

On my walk this morning, I got to thinking about the catechisms and scriptures that are thrown our way by the most vile of creatures, such as Rubio or Pence or name-a-death-eater-believer. How do they possibly have any faith whatsoever, given the evil they're committing? What religion doesn't have those two fearing for what they'll pay at the end? Aren't they terrified?

My need for vengeance fuels this mad desire I have, to convince men like them, moments before they die, that there is no God. But those last few moments of grief they'll feel won't offset the lifetimes of faith they had. Or the amount of evil they did in God's name.

How will it end? I still don't know.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Morning Walk

I got Wonder Mutt to go on what used to be her regular morning walk. In the past couple of months, her willingness to do it has waned considerably. She's getting old. Her original (benign) tumor is substantially larger. Pete says if you look at her from behind, she looks like an American football player with a ball tucked under her arm. And not one of those Brady-wobbly-filled balls, either.

But today I tricked her by taking the regular walk in the opposite direction. She's my walking buddy. I need her up and about twice a day if I'm ever going to make my 14,000-step goal in any given day. So, yay, 4,000 steps already. Thanks, Corrie!

Today's Springsteen music was "The Rising." That's not necessarily relevant to whatever direction this post ends up going. I'm just setting the scene.

I didn't have this blog way back then, during that period of time that centers on the events of 9-11. (Is it because it's September 1 that my mind carries me there or is it just "The Rising"?) I had the added bonus of being about two-months pregnant with Youngest. And by "added bonus," let's just say there was a lot of shit going on for me personally. It was all just such a cluster fuck.

Image result for homer simpsonSo is this post going to bring me to today? Like I realize that I should never say, "This is the worst ever," because the world will say right back, "You ain't seen nothing yet." Or, as the great Homer says, "So far."

Nope. I think this post is about the walks I do with the mutt or on my own, when I just listen to (and, yes, dance and sing to along the way) whatever Springsteen album I play. If it's a song I'm really into, my mind focuses on the song in all its glory -- the words, the music, the voice, the memories of when heard in concert. When it's just my usual soundtrack of Bruce, my mind wanders and I dwell on minutiae and gigantically big deals and everything in between.

I'll take my walks either way.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Rides to Heaven on a Gyroscope

A couple of months ago, I saw a client I hadn't seen for a number of months. Like more than a dozen people have in the recent past, she commented on how thin I was. We chit-chatted, outside my office building, about stress and aging and health and weight. We talked of the many elderly women I'd encountered in Florida, visiting my spry 81-year-old mother, and she asked if I'd ever noticed how some women, when they get old, get skinny and stay skinny. I didn't really take offense at it, overall, but it definitely stuck with me, her comments, and I've shared them with other people.

Yes, I have lost a lot of weight. Yes, some of it was intentional. Give up drinking, and you'll easily drop some. Set your steps goal to at least 14,000 steps per day, and, yeah, you'll drop some more. Try to eat slightly more healthy, and, yup, there goes another pound or two.

And that's what it was like for me, until about February, when I got really sick with back-to-back viral infections, and then ended up with a raging ear infection, which caused me to go on a regimen of antibiotics, and all that time, the weight kept dropping. I started to eat high calorie foods with utter abandon, only my appetite was lackluster at best and the weight kept dropping.

When I could start wearing my sister's size 2 shorts, I knew something was wrong. (Besides the fact that, clearly, clothes manufacturers have, over the year, tried to make us all feel good by calling a 1970's size 10 a 2017 size 8 (or 6).) So I reached out to my doctor, mentioning the weight loss (which was clearly detailed in my damn charts over the years), and asking for a test to see if my hyperthyroidism had kicked in as it had a number of years ago. When the doctor told me the test was normal, I messaged back, "I guess I'll just have to be happy I'm skinny."

Only I wasn't. Happy, that is, to be skinny. I didn't even need my good Dr. Google to tell me that unintentional weight loss is a thing. So when there was another not-good sign, I turned to my ab-fab OB-GYN, and she took up my cause. And, thankfully, she took it up with a vengeance. Detailed blood tests, ultrasound, biopsy, CT scan and, come Monday, colonoscopy and upper (and maybe lower) endoscopy.

For the record, nothing definitive yet, and the scariest (I think) things it could be have essentially been ruled out. In the end, perhaps my client is correct and this old lady has just reached her old-age weight. I will strive to continue to expect that to be the case, even as I chug through a gallon of some vile medication in advance of Monday's procedures, waking up at 3:30 a.m. to finish it as required.

Exactly 30 years ago, as my dad fought a 3-month battle against a clearly winning brain tumor, I started getting massive headaches and had to see a doctor. We laughed -- really -- at the highly improbable likelihood that I, too, had a brain tumor. I didn't. It was TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome).

While the doctor and I didn't laugh this time, there's nothing that says we won't be laughing later this week. I'm counting on it. 

*Guess where the title comes from? Yeah, Springsteen's "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street."

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Old Angry White Woman

I am just an old white woman tired of bullies. And I am legion.

That's what I'm feeling right now. Maybe it was schlepping to the #MarchForTruth in San Jose yesterday, early so I could help with the set up. Maybe it was standing with hundreds of other people, listening to Americans from all backgrounds, talk about, really, saving the world. [Yeah, I really believe that. That's our purpose now.] Maybe it was the postcard I sent VOTUS the other day, asking him to "Fuck off."

But what pushed me over was something I saw in a closed group I'm part of. It referred to some antics on another closed (but less secret and discriminating) group that I also happen to be a member of. One of the women in the all-women's super secret group -- yes, anti-female-only screenings of a fucking movie, an ALL-WOMEN'S group --was being sniped at by some run-of-the-mill local crazies on that other group.

So, yeah, off I went to that group. And one of the biggest asshats in town, after my friend commented, went on to post information identifying her as a county employee working for the Board of Supervisors. Mind you, the issue at hand was not county-related. No, it was city-related. As in, the city we all happen to dwell in. And it's called "City in the Know," and people post items which are generally non-controversial. When the more controversial items start up, it mostly stays civil. But every so often, it's not so civil.

Like on that thread where the asshat posted my friend's career information. I wouldn't have necessarily seen the post at all, had I not been referred to it. I must admit my life has been consumed by larger battles of late, so I don't pay as much attention. But then I realize it's precisely because I haven't been paying that much attention locally that we're in the mess we're all in. Not just me, of course, but all of us, complacent in our bubble of contentment and kumbaya, as the crazies took over, by sanitation district by school board by planning commission, and we let them.

No more. So you want to know what I posted as a reply to that asshat? This:

"Where I live on the Internet, we call what you did 'doxxing,' ASSHAT'S NAME. 'Searching for and publishing private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.' It's an evil stunt. And you just did it with such ease. I'm impressed."

I am just an old white woman tired of bullies. And I am legion.

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

I can't remember when I first put up a protest sign on the freeway overpass near me. It must be going on two years now. It was seeing ...