Life – According to Lucy

What is unconditional love? Is there such a thing?

That is the Universal standard, no? God’s standard?

I mean, by that standard any asshole can be, well, an asshole all the time and still be loved.

Number 1 was asking me about someone from my childhood with whom I’m friends on Facebook.
What is she really like? Is she like she seems? If so, why are you friends with her?
‘I don’t know,’ I said. ‘I think so – I mean, she always was the way she seems now and – it’s friendship at a distance. I can filter it, so to speak.’
But why?
‘She has redeeming qualities. And there are no surprises. I don’t expect things from her I know aren’t available.’
Like what?
‘Like anything beyond casual chat.’
You don’t do casual chat.
‘Sure I do.’
‘Don’t patronize me.’
Relax Mom. You’re just a little – intense.

Note the emphasis on ‘tense.’

‘I am so easy going. I am so laid back I’m nearly horizontal.’

Number 1 was staring straight ahead at this point and I spent a second imagining the conflict in his brain where it’s more logical and he was probably wondering what he could say at this point to lead our talk back to something less subjective than my state of being at any given moment.

‘Sorry,’ I said.
No worries.
‘My friend and I share history. Some good, some bad but she seems to accept me the way I am and I can do that for her as well. Her perspective has always been valuable to me. Does that make sense?’
He nodded the way he always does when I’m winding up to speak in paragraphs.
‘I mean, we didn’t get along much when we were kids. Her sister and I were better friends but – there was something about her that I didn’t want to let go of. I did think she was just misunderstood, or vulnerable or something like that. Like someone needed to really, really reach her. I thought I was the one who could. It’s almost funny now. I couldn’t, no matter what I tried.’
Why, do you think?
‘She’s an asshole. There’s that.’

Is the fact that I am only a certain kind of friend to this person evidence that conditional love is okay? Or does everybody just love parts of people? The truth is we love, much of the time in spite of one thing or another. I happen to know for a fact that not everything about me is lovable.

No. Please. Don’t argue.

While we need not deal with a litany of what needs improvement in my personality and habits, suffice it to say I skate by on credit sometimes. You know, she was always so sweet, sort of thing. Which is bullshit, to be honest. I’m not sweet. I’m empathetic and try to be kind. It’s from the heart and it’s part how I was born and part how I was formed. But sweet? No.

I give those I love credit a lot as well. I – we all let things slide. You have to if you’re going to have relationships. However, lines have to be drawn. Not, I suppose on your love. Just – you know – the really important stuff. How much time you give. How much of yourself you put out there and on the line before you say ‘enough.’

How does one know, then, when love turns to, say, abuse? How do you know that someone is using you? How do you know when to turn and say enough? I’ve had enough. You are damaging me, us. This needs to stop. You’re out of line. How do you draw those lines without losing?

I think it’s all about what you’re gaining.

When you draw a line like that you gain yourself.

Of course, if you’re me, you are wracked with guilt for doing so, but you deal and push through.

What does that mean, you ask.

For me it means I come to terms with the fact that someone else’s truth does not diminish mine and vice versa. I’ve told this story before…….. While at a family reunion some years back, my cousin – three years my senior – apologized for treating me badly as a child. It wasn’t a purge on her part. I’m pretty sure her treatment of me hadn’t kept her up at night, though it took its toll on me. I’m not even sure it crossed her mind until that very moment. My cousin, my aunt (also three years my senior) and I were sharing memories of our childhood. There were some good ones – then there was that very large pachyderm in the room when all of us recalled the not so good ones and Sadie (cousin) said, “We didn’t treat you very well when we were kids and I’m sorry.” Her words were clearly a revelation to her. You could see it in her face.

“Thank you,” I said. “I appreciate that.”

That was it. Except, of course, that the aunt threw in a whatever because she never saw treating me badly as doing anything wrong. She still doesn’t, and that’s her truth and I’d say another story but it was actually the beginning of the end of another story.

What Sadie said healed and inspired me. Remember when I said I’m not “perfect?” I had (have) apologies to make and where possible, I made (still make) them. It was probably more important to me than the persons to whom I apologized. I sat down to write one particular note, thinking This man has grown up, become a lawyer, married, had children – all around successful and happy. What could he possibly gain from my apology?

I apologized anyway:

Dear Joe:

I’m writing to apologize for treating you badly when we were children. I realize you’ve lived well and successfully without my words, but it’s come to my attention recently how healing it can be to hear that someone realizes they hurt you once upon a time and regrets the pain they caused. I am sorry.

He wrote back:

Dear Lorie:

Thank you. Your words meant a great deal. Truly, no apology was necessary – kids will be kids – but I appreciate it. I too know the redemptive power of reconciliation and forgiveness.

The kids will be kids thing was magnanimous of him because, let me tell you, I – along with my brother and several other kids – was a little asshole to this guy. He and I don’t have an ongoing relationship now because we never did, but we are positive energy in each other’s collective consciousness. Working toward good.

How, I’ve wondered over the years, do I get to that place with others? Words haven’t worked. With some communication was nonexistent. Not everyone likes to say everything that’s in their head. Go figure. Not everyone can face the top frigging layer of what’s in their heart and mind, let alone get in there deeper, no matter how many times and ways I tried to peal that onion.

I let many of these people go. Not with harsh words and not without feelings of loss. I am talking, after all, about people I love and who supposedly love me. There are ties, both emotional and genetic – neither to be sneezed at – but it eventually came down to survival. It came down to a question of whether or not I wanted to thrive. Did – do – I want to live or do I just want to exist? In the end – or in the beginning – it turned out to be easier than I thought. I mean – it was hard and it hurt – but when I stopped trying to control them and took possession of the fact that I had a choice in the matter there was clarity. I took myself out of the equation. Only in one case did I actually say the words “I’m letting you go with love.” It was a choice I made because the words needed to be said. They were not met with hearts and flowers and phrases like can we please make this work. It was more like middle fingers and kiss my ass.

Which was not unexpected.

You don’t walk out of someone’s life – you don’t tell your truth – without repercussions sometimes. The bottom line is, however, this is MY truth. It doesn’t diminish anyone else’s. It’s mine, though and I had to choose whether or not I was going to live it.

Do I feel happy, good, celebratory, enthusiastic about having walked away from some of the people who were very important to me?

I don’t look at it like that. To be clear, I didn’t give anyone a middle finger even when I wanted to the very, very most and when one considers how much I like the “F Word,” in all its forms, that’s saying something. I let them go. With as much love and peace as I was capable. It still hurts sometimes that we are not in each others’ lives and I have no idea if they miss me as well. Perhaps we’ll somehow circle back around to each other. The most important thing here is that I chose truth. I chose to thrive. I chose finding myself and filling my plate well over living off the scraps from someone else’s table.

I do love to mix metaphors.

We, all of us here on this planet are, as individuals and a collective consciousness, working toward something. When I let go of people (and things and places) it’s an exercise in freedom. When a relationship is becoming or continuing to be toxic it’s a huge drag on anything positive. I can’t move toward the light if part of me insists darkness is okay. My ego wanted so badly to hang in there with these relationships in order to fix what was wrong. Isn’t that my job? To bring light and love to everyone I encounter?

It’s like this – and I love this analogy. If your friend (or sibling or cousin or mother or uncle or spouse, et al) has pneumonia will it help them get better if you get sick too?

(The correct answer is no)

I mean – duh. Seriously.

I walked away for me. Not gonna lie about that. I had spent years – decades – trying to build relationships with people because we were tied by blood and I loved them and we were supposed to be close. Those relationships were the proverbial castles in the sand and I watched as they washed away again and again, only to try and rebuild them because we – well, what I just said. Finally. I stopped.

For me.

The funny thing is that my ego was okay with it. Turns out it’s not as big as I thought. Or it, like the rest of me, was tired of having the shit beat out of it. It checks in every now and then when we stalk someone’s Facebook page to see if they are showing signs of missing me, but mostly we (me, myself and our ego) just move forward with a shrug and love.

Are the people with pneumonia getting better since I stopped trying to be their doctor? If they are it’s not something they’re putting on social media. Again, that’s good because it keeps me free to be free.

I need a lot of checks and balances. Or a keeper, depending on the day.

In answer to my original question about unconditional love. Yes, it exists and I think it can be given but it has to start with unconditional love of self – which is only practical. You cannot give what you don’t have. You must form an acceptance, peace and affection for yourself before you are able to distribute those feelings to anyone else in any real, tangible sense.

I’ll leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes.

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” Lucille Ball

Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 21:31



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I’m Adventure Girl. Just call me Lorie.

We hiked and camped Havasupai Falls. It was a big deal and it wasn’t. I mean, it was a gritty, dirty, mentally and physically exhausting ordeal that I briefly (for like a couple of hours) thought would kill me. So, yeah. Big Deal. Then, when we got there and my body stopped threatening to quit functioning (thank you Shasta cola),  I looked around and saw that I was practically in Heaven. Still a Big Deal.

What’s not a big deal? My whining and stuff.

I felt so stupid for not being prepared for what this adventure required. I mean, I’ve known we were going to do it since February. I upped my work outs six weeks or so beforehand and I’m in good shape. However there is a s-l-i-g-h-t difference between being “in shape” and what it takes to make it in and out of the Grand Canyon. Twelve miles of rugged terrain with at 40 pound pack on your back? I couldn’t imagine it. Who could?

Turns out my husband had a bit of a clue. Mark kept saying to take a pack to the gym, put weights in it and get on the treadmill or the stepper.

“I do the rower,” I told him. Because that makes perfect sense.
“If you were kayaking the canyon perhaps that would help,” he replied. “You need to work your shoulders more. Skinny chickens have fewer bones than you do on your shoulders.”
“I have broad shoulders,” I said.  To which he replied with what I considered a very sarcastic okay.  “And I do that overhead thingy where you pull it down to your chest and I use 70 pounds. Plus yoga and my circuits on the other machines.”
“I just don’t want you to be surprised.”

I was. Surprised. Shell shocked. To the core of my being and the floor of the canyon. I started out well but only four miles in was fading fast and in spite of being well hydrated, I couldn’t recover from feeling nauseous and weak. Energy chews, hydration tabs, dried fruit and an orange had zero effect. Actual food would have helped but I couldn’t even look at the sandwiches we brought. Kimmy was adamant that we keep moving, though she knew I was in trouble.

“You have to keep going, Mom,” she said. “They will walk right by you on the trail. They rescue nobody out here because so many have just up and quit.”
“I know,” I told her. “And I don’t want to quit.” I leaned over to the right, puked up my orange and we went on.

Three and a half miles further I came upon Kimmy and Monique off to the side. (Monique is a long time friend of Kimmy’s whom we’ve all adopted. She accepted our invitation to join Loran, Kimmy and me on our trip when Olivia was unable to go.) They hiked ahead because I couldn’t keep up and their concern was making me nuts.

“If I hear ‘are you okay’ one more time I’ll summon what strength I have left and belt someone. I’ll get there – just not as fast as you.”

This is, by the way, how the old and the weak were eliminated back in the day, and in this day I counted as both.

I collapsed onto a rock and unbuckled my pack.
“This is the last place you’ll have privacy to pee for a while,” Kimmy said.
Pee? I couldn’t even feel my body anymore. If my bladder was full it would have to phone it in. I was done. Cooked.
“Are you okay,” she asked.
I shook my head.
“I don’t know what to do,” I said. “I know we have to keep going but I’m spent.”
Apparently it showed in my face because both Kimmy and Monique looked worried.
“Where’s Loran,” I asked.
“She went ahead,” Kimmy said. “She had to keep moving or wouldn’t make it she said.”
I nodded. I understood and my brain felt the same way. The problem was it wasn’t completely attached to my body any longer. My brain said to do something and my body told it to fuck off.  A lot.
“Let’s go,” I said. Again – mouth attached to brain – body not listening.
“Can you walk without your pack,” Kimmy asked.
I shrugged then nodded, wondering where she was going with this.
“I’m gonna carry your pack.”
“Monique, help me get it on the front of me. Mom, let’s go. Just keep moving. We’re only about two miles from the village.”
So the littlest of my littles had her 46 pound pack on her back and my 40.2 pound pack on her front. That’s where she was going. I was consumed by guilt that could not manifest itself beyond a nagging feeling in the back of my mom brain as we made our way to the little village of Supai. Loran was there waiting and while Kimmy checked us in, ran to a shop and brought me the cola I spoke of earlier. Within minutes of consuming it I felt fine…..ish. I was able to continue and even managed to carry my pack when we got to the falls. It was on a sharp descent for about two tenths of the last freaking mile. Kimmy insisted she could do it but all I could see was her slipping and rolling all the way down the hill, end over end. She is my daughter after all.

When we finally reached the campsite we hung up hammocks, threw in sleeping bags, had a snack and collapsed into an awesome damn sleep. When we woke I was sure it had to be like 8:00 at night. It was 2:00 in the afternoon and the beginning of time not being an issue for three whole days. Phones didn’t matter. Work didn’t matter. Responsibility didn’t matter. Hiking mattered. Swimming in 65 degree pools of ancient blue water mattered. Wine and tequila and jerky and staying hydrated mattered. Jokes and stories and blisters and looking up at the stars every night while I fell asleep mattered. I didn’t fit well into my hammock. We couldn’t figure out why because it was the same one Kimmy had and hers cocooned around her. I guess that extra half a foot of legs and my linebacker shoulders made the difference. It wasn’t as comfortable as it might have been had I purchased a hammock in the ‘Tall’ section of REI but I managed in an I Love Lucy Goes Camping sort of way.  My piece of night sky made it worth every adjustment and readjustment.

I lay there the first night missing Mark like crazy, wondering what in the world I thought I was doing in the wilderness without him. I should mention here that we went to sleep just after dark. In spite of our nap, the lack of sleep the night before and a 12 mile hike (plus wine for the others, tequila for me) drove us back into our hammocks right after supper. We’d walked back to Havasupai falls for happy hour and jumped into the pool just below for the first time. I was hoping for some sort of religious experience out of this trip and decided the fact that I survived the hike, then jumping into freezing cold water didn’t kill me either would suffice for the first day.  Looking up at the stars, thinking I’d never be able to fall asleep, I decided to just be grateful for the amazing experience thus far. What my body had been through, what I’d been able to power through, what I witnessed my daughter power through – I truly had no words. Except thank you. I sent them out to the Universe – to my God, however uncertain I am of what and who that is – and literally, before I knew it, it was the next morning.

We spent the next two days exploring, hiking, while I stretched muscles that were screaming at me to sit the hell down. Kimmy, Loran and Monique were fine once they got a little sleep. Loran hurt her foot on the hike in, so she had to nurse that, but otherwise they behaved like people in their 20’s.


We played card games and Loran won, of course, because she’s like that. We played other word and sight games and talked about stuff and because Monique likes to speak with a Syracuse NY accent, we all did (difficult habit to break, btw) and that’s about as specific as I can be because I understand the rule now. What happens in camp stays in camp. There was nothing bad or crazy or earth shattering. It was simply private and for me, because these are my girls, precious. I felt a twinge now and then because Olivia wasn’t there, but Monique was and it all felt very meant to be. We will do this again and my baby and our Monique (she adopted us too) will both be with us.

We talked about the women who came west in the 1800’s, doing what we were doing and decided they were complete idiots. I mean, we walked a few miles in a well ordered and populated area, dressed in leggings and tank tops, having driven to the canyon in Kimmy’s brand new SUV.  They traversed all kinds of landscape, grief stricken at having literally walked away from their families and everything they’d ever known, attired in dresses and undergarments that weighed 10 to 15 pounds all by themselves, knowing nothing about what awaited them at the end of each day, let alone for the rest of their lives.

Who does that?

There was no feminist uprising but it was definitely a feminine-centric four days where we were free to talk about anything we wanted and many times simply chose silence. We all have lives. We all have secrets that we don’t and really feel no compulsion to share. There were the moments on the various trails we took where looking around and taking in – well – everything was all we could do. I was and am humbled by the beauty of our earth. I was also forced to see the changing earth and am deeply troubled by it.

The whole experience was, more than anything, about allowing the thoughts that came into my mind to do so and then leave. In the creek by our campsite sat a partially submerged picnic table. I waded out to it daily and sat with my lower extremities in the cold ass water, just staring. There was nothing to do. I had nothing to do. Nowhere to be. No work to be done. No distraction needed. The universe – and my constantly overly stimulated cranium contents gave me permission to be.

To be.

And the thoughts rolled. Same old thoughts, some good, some troubling, just – the stuff. But I was sitting in ancient water, turned blue/green by several sciencey things that I’ve heard and don’t remember, so the thoughts were less animated than usual. Less threatening.  Not to mention that dealing with anything out of the canyon involved hauling my ass out of it and I thought it best not to dwell on the exit hike. I just sat in the water and promised my calves, quads and hamstrings they would feel better and the rumor that we were going to have to walk an additional 12 miles in a few days was a dirty lie. Funny enough, they believed every word I said.

Just like Olivia when she was four and I convinced her that Fred was her real name.

Can I talk about the camp food? It was pretty great, actually. Kimmy did an amazing job organizing and then cooking. As a novice I got to pretty much watch this time. I may have milked the “this is my first backpacking trip” thing to an extreme, but seriously – I gave her life.

My favorite things were the snacks. Jerky and dried mango slices. Pretty sure I could have survived on those alone. Did you know there’s such a thing as organic, nitrate-free, gluten-free jerky that tastes amazing? I have loved jerky since childhood when taking Saturday outings with my dad to music stores and car repair places. One of the stores we’d hit was in Cuba, NY and owned by Dad’s bass player Ivan. I don’t remember Ivan’s last name but he was kind and he gave Mike and me candy and soda and beef jerky. Then I grew up and that shit was bad for you. Full disclosure, it’s still chock full of sodium, but the cancer causing chemicals have been removed so I’m down. I ate a goodly amount of the stuff at Havasupai and I’m not sure if it was the actual jerky or the memory of Saturdays with Dad and Ivan and Mike that had me smiling like a six-year-old at Christmas every time we opened a package of it.

It’s so much easier to make me happy in the wilderness.

What can I say about the hike out? First of all I’ll say our backpacks went out on the mules. Super important factor there. I’m sure it saved my life because, loved one or not, during the last two miles where you’re walking up a steady grade to climb out of the canyon, the only thing keeping a person going is the promise of pizza and beer at an incredible spot in Flagstaff. Someone slowing you down to a crawl might be someone who is left to make her own way home, even if, as she reminds you, she did spend 17 hours in labor to – what did I say earlier? Oh. Yes. Give you life.

Even without the packs it was no picnic. My legs felt like pieces of wood. I kept thinking, What the hell Gepetto, you told me I was a real boy.

And I never hit my stride. That was the thing I wasn’t prepared for. Looking back at all the mistakes I made for the hike in, I understood why it didn’t happen. I was sure it would be different on the way out and it was, of course, to a certain extent. I didn’t throw up thanks to the Coke we bought the day before and nothing seized up thanks to the bottles of Gatorade and the electrolyte tablets. But that place during a run or a hike in the Superstitions when my physical and mental seem to come together and all thought drops away, simply wouldn’t come. For a while I blamed on the Chatty Cathy hiking behind me, you know, chatting.  Jesus.  For miles.  Please, God, make her get a cramp or something. She’s driving me nuts. I finally stopped to “tie my shoe” and let her and her very quiet companion go by because I just couldn’t give a crap about her roommate’s cousin’s wedding where she met this guy and spent the weekend at the beach and what was in his head that he didn’t call back.  I’d have tripped her just for fun but then she’d have had to stop and recover and would have been behind me again.

Meanwhile back on the trail I concentrated on breathing and the purging of thoughts. They come in, they go out. No judgement, just flow. Very yogic, very zen. Waiting for my stride to kick in. It’s almost here.  Here it – nope.  Not yet.  Okay.  Just keep going.  Just keep going.  Keep going.  Keep.  Going.


I caught up with the girls – or rather, they stopped to wait for me. Yay. We can take a br-

“Wait! Where are you going?”
“Break’s over,” Kimmy said. “Let’s keep moving.”
“But I – ”
“Yeah, don’t even try, Mom.” Loran stayed with me as we watched Kimmy and Monique move off down the trail. “Attila the Hun walked slower than sister.” She was joking and I wanted to laugh but my laughing muscles hurt.
“I don’t understand why we have to walk so fast,” I whined. I had no desire or intention of trash talking my daughter as her not-hurting-at-all body walked away on her used-to-this legs, but it was hard. My brain was suddenly a mean stranger and if I wasn’t going to find and hit my stride and it was no longer Chatty Cathy’s fault, somebody had to pay.
“It’s all right,” Loran said. “Catch your breath and we’ll go in a minute. Remember, though, you do have to power through. If we stop every few minutes we’ll never make it out of here.”
“Right,” I said. “Power through.”

Power through.

And there it was.

Not my stride – that never did show up. It was the religious experience I’d been waiting for. There were no rainbows, no angels singing, no sudden and amazing peace. There was sand and rocks and cacti and my swollen feet, and sweat and about half way up the canyon, after I’d sent the girls on ahead for the last leg of this shit, tears of frustration, swear words, requests for spiritual help and fortitude sent out to every last dead person who “owed” me (things got a little fuzzy) and several disjointed Hail Mary’s. Half a mile or so from the top a young couple passed me and encouraged me to hang in there.

“You’re almost to the top,” the girl said.
“Ffffff.” I stopped myself. I couldn’t tell their perkiness to eff off.

Power through, Lorie. You got this. It was nothing I hadn’t said to myself a thousand times in the last few hours but this time I believed me at least a little.

“Listen,” I said to the couple as they stood there munching on their energy bars and not sweating like goats.  “When you get to the top you’ll find three women waiting for me and possibly looking a bit anxious in case they really did abandon their giver of life and she’s laying dead on the trail. Tell them they’re out of the will.”

The couple laughed, which had the desired effect on me. I love it when people get my jokes. I looked behind me for the hundredth time that day because as delusional as the physical exertion was making me, seeing where I’d been was an amazing thing. I’d walked that. As I was taking in the moment I heard someone yell “Mule!”


The goddamned mule train was less than a quarter of a mile behind me and I knew those guys moved at a pace even Kimmy couldn’t maintain. I was not going to let my pack beat me out of the canyon when it had started the journey a good two hours behind. I limped on.

Here is where the “spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,” b.s. really came into play. In my head I was already at the top, jumping up and down, high-fiving the girls, throwing our crap in the car and heading to Flagstaff for the best tasting beer ev-er. My body though?


So the mules caught me. On one of the narrowest parts of the damn trail. I jumped up on a stone wall and pinned myself to the side of the canyon with amazing dexterity for one so lame and exhausted. My will to live had apparently returned. After the animals and their tail wind moved on I finished my journey. I walked with slow small steps that were all my legs and hips would allow. Sweat had saturated my clothes and I’m pretty sure I’d never been quite so dirty. Discomfort was my only emotion and every brain cell was fixated on the very second I’d get to take those goddamned hiking boots off and – what’s that? I heard cheering.

“Whoo-hoo! Mom! You made it! You did it! You’re amazing!”

Aw, it was nothing.

I looked up and there were my three best friends that anyone could have. We high-fived and hugged and took pictures and told each other how awesome we were and how bad we smelled. At the car we changed into dry, clean clothes in front of God and everyone. Kimmy told me to at least turn away from the road as I changed bras – does anyone see the irony here? I just shrugged – way too tired to care what anyone saw or might have been frightened by.

It was over. But I felt a new freedom – reference the nudity mentioned above – and accomplishment that’s hard to put into words. Oh. Here’s one.


We drove home on heated seats. Thank God and Subaru for those. Having pretty severely injured both my hamstrings years ago, it’s difficult for me to sit for any length of time on a given day. Driving and riding long distance takes some creative planning, stretching and sometimes contortionist movements so we don’t have to stop every 15 minutes. I’d have never made it the five hours it took to drive home, even with the stop in Flagstaff, if not for those heated seats. And can I say it seemed like the height of pleasurable indulgence to have the air conditioning on so we could all enjoy the warmth on our tushies.

Since we got home I’ve hugged that experience to me. Havasupai was a sort of rebirth. It’s here, I thought to myself. It’s time. My time. I found a little bit of myself I figured time had erased and at first I called her Adventure Girl. Adventure Girl has no (well not very much) fear and she’s weaved her way back into my brain and life in ways that have allowed me to do what I do with a larger sense of purpose and an ability to focus on the larger part of that phrase. In other words I’m living in gratitude more often than despair. I don’t have to keep fear at bay because gratitude and faith allow me to power through things that used to stop me in my tracks. I’ve reclaimed – myself, my responsibility, my privilege, my life. I am the journey and every day is an adventure.

I am Adventure Girl. But I just call me Lorie.









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We Have Nowhere Else To Go

As I sit here staring at my computer screen, trying to come up with just the right words to say in as concise a way as possible, the actual truth of what is going on in our country regarding racism/misogyny/classism/homophobia/hatred, our president, global warming, the possibility of nuclear conflict with a country run by a guy who resembles and speaks like the kid who was continuously shoved in a locker in 7th grade and a media who vacillates between responsible reporting and egging everyone on, I find – I got nothin.

Okay. That’s not true and all 23 of us know it. (Readership for the last few blogs has gone up. Thank you.)

I have a lot to say but it’s not concise, it’s not going to please everyone and it is going to be punctuated liberally with the F Word. You’ve been warned.

I can give you the bottom line.

We have nowhere else to go.

So, yeah, we better figure this out.

Let’s start with the white issue as it’s the Big One at the moment.

Dear Every White Man Who Cares About This:

I do not want your shit. I do not want to replace you. You have owned something called ‘having the automatic advantage in every situation known to humankind since God knows when by simple virtue of the color of your skin and the gender with which you entered the world.’ I have no desire to take it from you. I simply want you to share said something. The really good thing about it all is there is enough for everybody. You’ve read the saying that states, roughly, sharing basic human rights with everybody doesn’t mean you get less. It’s not pie? What that means is, sharing basic human rights with everybody doesn’t mean you get less. It’s not pie.

Women, People of every imaginable color, LGBTQ Community, People of other countries, those with British accents, Serbian accents, those with moles, Baptists, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Canadians, athiests, Indigenous Peoples, those who meditate, those who mediate, those with disabilities, those with alternate abilities, et al.

I watched the men and women – there were women present in Charlottesville marching with the white supremacists – as they chanted things like “Jews will not replace us.”

As what? What does that even mean? Honestly, I asked the white guys I know and am close to and they have no fucking idea. Mostly they just shake their heads and wonder, as do I, why we can’t all just work hard and play harder.

And just for all y’all history buffs who consider the tearing down of statues of Confederate soldiers and Confederate flags an affront to either the “truth” of American history or an insult to “southern culture,” come the hell on.

Robert E. Lee and all whom he commanded committed treason against the United States of America. They fought for a system of government that supported and defended enslaving human beings based on the color of their skin. That enslavement included the buying and selling of people as if they were horses or cows or plows. Husbands and wives were separated, mothers and fathers were sold away from children too young to comprehend what slavery was. Women were bred like farm animals, raped and abused by their “owners” because it was the “owners’” “right” to do what he liked to those held in bondage. Men, women and children were forbidden to learn to read and write and could be and were beaten within an inch of their lives for defying this or any other order given by their white “masters.” They were forced to practice Christianity and had to give up the culture and religious practices handed down from their forebears. This went on for 200 years!

Read the above paragraph again. Now tell me you want one statue commemorating that crap, let alone hundreds.  To be clear and factual, the majority of those statues were erected during the Jim Crow era that started in the late 19th century and the Civil Rights era in the 1960’s.  Funded by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the statues were part of an intimidation program that stated loud and clear on local and state levels that in spite of what the federal laws were, African Americans were still considered less than white people to those in power in the south.

Someone posted, “No white person alive today owned a slave. No black person alive today was a slave. We can’t move forward if people want to keep living in the past.”

Though I know the person who posted the meme wasn’t doing so in the name of the “alt-left” (whatever that is) I couldn’t agree more. Let’s live in the now. Let’s take down the monuments to a way of life that was so abhorrent it inspires actual, physical nausea more than 150 years after it ended.

Jesus, how in the world are we not further along the road of equality one and a half centuries later? How have history books not been rewritten to reflect the truth of what happened to Native Americans, African Americans and women? In the late 90’s I saw the movie “Snow Falling on Cedars.” Until then I didn’t realize that during WWII Japanese American families (many of whom had members fighting for our country) were interned in camps all over the United States. Incarcerated because of their ethnic and genetic heritage. You know, the same war that segregated African Americans and Native Americans from those with white skin even though they were all fighting for the same side?

But we’ve come so far.


It’s common sense, really. It’s The Golden Rule.

Did you ever notice that when speaking of said Rule, the T in “The” is capitalized? Because this isn’t just any old rule. It’s THE Rule. THE ONE.

“Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” Some form of the same is principal in every religion from Christianity, Judaism, Islam to Bahai faith to Confucianism and Wicca. It’s part of Humanism and Existentialism and can be found in the history of almost every ancient culture.

Treat others as you’d have them treat you. Love your neighbor as yourself.

What goes around comes around. Karma is a bitch.

Do you see how these are connected?

It does beg the question, if we treat our neighbors badly, if we don’t love our neighbors, yet we say we believe in The above Rule, what, exactly, do we think of ourselves? Now, there’s a perspective, huh? Which, you’re welcome, I don’t have the energy for today.

Listen, it’s not complicated. Be nice. Be kind. Be fair. Do everything, absolutely everything in the name of love. Love of self, love of others. Love of God, Buddha, The Universe or a frigging dining room chair. I don’t care. Just. Love.


Keep things in perspective.

There is much good in this world – in this country. While there is division there is also unity, though they won’t show you much of that on the evening news – or the morning news for that matter and certainly not on your Facebook feed. I don’t know what the exact ratio is, but I’ll estimate that for every 15 negative stories there will be a story of hope or faith or goodness or just something funny broadcasted. Additionally, humans are programmed by nature to look for the bad stuff. It’s our survival instinct. If we know what we’re facing we can protect ourselves. Thankfully we can also protect ourselves by knowing what’s positive, by being positive. This, of course, doesn’t mean hiding our heads in the sand and ignoring what needs to be done, but remember, what we focus on flourishes. I have friends who calls themselves resistors. That’s what they do and I find it completely exhausting and an ultimate way to fail at everything because they are focused on telling people how wrong they are. They’re not focused on an issue.  They’re focused on resisting so that’s what they get to do. I much prefer Mother Teresa’s approach. She said she wouldn’t march against war but if someone told her where to show up and march for peace, she’d be there. Every time. There’s an important difference.

What are you for?

I have a feeling what we’re all for is a lot closer than it seems. As we all move forward, toward that which means the most to us all as individuals and as a society, remember,

One: The Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Two: As I stated at the beginning of this and as I used to tell my daughters when they were in the middle of a knock down, drag out, fist-doubled, phone throwing fight – we might as well figure this out because we, very literally, have nowhere else to go.






Filed under Activism, Daily Life

Stuff: My Head Was Getting Full

Greg Allman died. That made me cry. I’ve been a fan for most of my adult life (translation: since Mark and I have been together as adults because he’s a HUGE fan) and that’s part of why I cried. I knew how it would affect Mark. And Matthew. Matt sent Mark a note on FB saying, “This isn’t real, is it?” Of course, it was.

The Day The Music Died played in my head – when Sweet Melissa and I’m No Angel weren’t. The music didn’t really die. Just the musician. Taken down by the same insidiousness that took many others. Others with names like Joplin, Morrison, Hendrix, Cobain, Cornell, Jennings.


What do I hate about addiction? Is it that it’s selfish? That it is a form of entitlement that doesn’t just destroy the one addicted but entire families, communities even? Yes. Of course. I hate that it disguises itself as pleasure and peace. I hate that I love that pleasure and peace.

Am I an addict?

Probably not but maybe so. I have the genetic predilection certainly, on both sides. I remember being at an Al Anon meeting once and voicing my frustration.

“Isn’t there someplace I can go where this shit doesn’t exist?”

To a person, those in the meeting with me either shook their heads or simply said no. Take away the alcohol, the drugs and what is left to be addicted to? Food, sex, work, shopping, money. Obviously it’s not the substance at fault. It’s the behavior patterns. And we all have them.

Am I an addict?

I have been, yes. I have displayed addictive behavior driven by everything from hormones to the lack of them. All the kids at home to the kids all moving away. Euphoria to depression. Not enough work to too much work. Not enough choice to everything laid out before me like a banquet. No ice-cream in the house to an actual banquet.

My latest dilemma is stress at work and sleepless nights, both of which, of course, feed on each other. In my first half-century I could count the nights I was unable to sleep on one hand. This does not include infant/child induced lack of sleep. Those were a given and had nothing to do with not being physically and psychologically able to let go of wakefulness. No, the latter is something that was saved for me until I was lulled into a false hey, this getting older thing might be okay, state of mind. Kids are grown, hot flashes are easing, I see freedom calling up ahead sort of thoughts were roaming playfully in my brain.

Then the next section in the manual opened itself up to me and revealed that those hormones I used to have do more than just all those other things I thought they did. They also helped me to sleep.

Apparently they’re gone just like said slumber.

I, literally, lay awake all night long.

It happened once. And again. Then again. And more regularly. I started taking half a Benadryl at night get to sleep but it didn’t always work, so I’d take a whole one. Sleep was deep and as long as I took it fairly early I could drink enough coffee in the morning to wake up for the day. Which became a problem in itself because I really don’t have a large coffee capacity. One or two cups are the maximum and it always took a third to shake the antihistamine blues, which, in turn made me shaky and a little dizzy. Then the antihistamine stopped working and I became pretty frantic. I cut down on coffee, upped my water intake and spent a couple of days and nights trying to get my shit together so I could sleep when I was supposed to sleep and be awake, you know, when I was driving and working and stuff. I went to my doctor who offered me Ambien or something like it. Non-habit forming, of course. Such an ironic, bullshit claim. Perhaps the drug itself is non-addictive but if you, like – everybody – are a fan of sleeping, the drug becomes your habit. There’s no way around that. Also, there are some pretty severe side effects with Ambien.  My two favorite, upon reflection are hallucinations and sleeplessness.

I’ll just let you mull that one over.

I took a pass.

My doctor was okay with the half dose of antihistamine but concerned that I took it within an hour of having a night-cap consisting of a shot (and probably a half) of tequila. I told her my liver wasn’t completely happy with me either, but the tequila helped me fall asleep and the antihistamine kept me asleep all night.

That’s important – the all night thing. Some of my worst times have been when I wake up from a sound (sober) sleep in a full on panic because – for no reason at all. Anxiety is in full swing with no warning and no solution and by the time I’ve reached a state of I’m actually not going to die horribly at this very moment I’m wide awake and pissed. And still anxious as I go over every single thing that is/could be/was yesterday/might be tomorrow – wrong in my life, Mark’s life and the lives of my children, grandchild, mother and brother. I have, at times, scooted over to cuddle with Mark but that wakes him up because he knows, even in his deepest slumber, that I do not like to be touched in my sleep. We have lines of demarcation in our bed that may not be breached once I’m in lala land. When the kids were little it was this way because one or more of them were there nightly and there was barely room to breathe. Then it was hot flashes. If I cuddle up to my poor hubby, he knows somethin’ aint right and will wake up ready to take on the world in a way only certified morning people are able to do but it’s the middle of the night so we’re both screwed.

……….Or so I told my doc.

She said, again, that perhaps the Ambien would be a better choice. I said, again, no thank-you.

I have an aversion to relying on medication. I mean, if I had to take something because I was diabetic or had epilepsy it would be different – and I have taken meds for PTSD (long story there……well, really not so long, but for another time) and depression. There was a start date and an end date in sight with both, so I wasn’t quite as concerned. I became addicted to nose spray once. Started taking it when I had a cold and didn’t get off it for two years. The thing about nose spray with a decongestant/antihistamine is that, besides making one look sexy and attractive when shoving it in one nostril then the other and taking a deep huff each time, it makes your nasal passages more open than they would ever be naturally. When you try to stop taking it cold turkey you don’t just get a stuffy nose. Your nasal passages slam shut like there’s actual gold in there to be protected and you can’t breathe through your nose, nor can you swallow because you can’t breathe through your nose. Try it. Plug your nose and try to swallow.

My father was addicted to nose spray. He became ill and was in the hospital where an idiot doctor overdosed him (that one is a long story) with a medication his body basically had a bad reaction to. He was in a state of unconsciousness for such a period of time that we truly thought he would not make it. During that time he could, of course, not take his nose spray. We watched as he struggled to breathe. His suffering was incredibly difficult to witness and inspired the aversion I spoke of earlier.  After Dad recovered I went to my doctor for help in ridding myself of the nose spray. She said, simply, to use it in one side or the other as often as I needed until the side that wasn’t getting any assistance unplugged, then stop using it on the other side. She said it could take about three weeks. I was off it in less than two and felt so free and, well, stupid for not figuring this out much, much sooner.

Now, to get back on medication and have to depend on it for something that should come as naturally as sleep? No. I couldn’t see it. Still, if I was honest with myself, it was six of one and half dozen of the other in the drugs vs. alcohol category.

Am I an addict?

Probably. But I’m an extremely particular one, if so.

I stopped taking the antihistamine a few weeks ago. The long term effects started to rear their ugly heads. Moodiness, increased day-time anxiety, depression – they came on fast and were difficult to control. I cut out sugar at night, back on coffee in the morning, cranked up my water intake and am gradually settling into a more restful pattern leading up to bed time. Basically I’m a three-year-old again. Who gets a jigger of tequila and a Coronita nightly if she wants.

I’m not giving up all my fun.

I sleep better, for the most part. Electronics are banished to drawers and other rooms. TV is off and the temperature is cool. I’m dreaming again which means I’m not taking myself to an oblivious place and when I wake up it’s just slow and cranky like it’s been from the time I was a child. Not groggy and “why did I take the stupid antihistamine again,” the way it had been for a few months.

Am I an addict? I have addictive tendencies – just like most people, I suppose. I’m on guard, though. I mean, everybody has to die from something but I won’t go because I drank/smoked/shot up/snorted my internal organs to death. That hurts like hell. That hurts everybody like hell and it’s hard to get over. Some people tend to obsess, even.

Can one be addicted to making sure they’re not addicted?

These and other insane questions will be covered on the next edition of “Shit I write down so my head won’t explode.”

<Insert eye roll here>

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Filed under Daily Life

Catching up…..Life as a Badass

Dear 23 Readers:

Oh my gosh, it’s been a long time since I sat down to write an update. I’ve been thinking of you, though and decided today is the day to reach out. There’s been a lot of change lately – nothing negative – just different. My mom is selling her house and that’s very emotional for all of us. It’s definitely time. She and Dad bought it 27 years ago and it is the “stable” home my nomadic children have known. We’ve moved so much and 1141 N. Nielson has been the port in many storms. We had Easter dinner at Mom’s and realized it will probably be our last holiday in the house. Matthew (#4) and I sat by the pool and started to talk about it but tears threatened and I am way too macho for that crap. Mark and I found out, recently that our good friends are moving back to Boston due to a job offer. Then, at work, we promoted my assistant manger to store manager at a different location. Which means a promotion for my key holder and hiring someone new for her position. Which means I have to talk to and play well with others I just met….. See? All good stuff, but change in the people in my peripheral and that always freaks me out. <sigh>

In other news, we camped Easter weekend with the fam. Part of it anyway. Loran (#3), Matthew, Kache (grandbaby) and Mark and I headed out for the last desert camp of the season. Lots of fun. A little too much tequila Saturday night after Kache fell asleep. Matt played guitar and I may or may not have sung “How Great Thou Art” acapella, at the top of my lungs, around midnight.


Kimmy(#2) and her husband, Matti (note the i at the end of the name as I also refer to #4 as Matty and we try not to mix up the two. It’s worth noting we also have two Brandons – #1 as well as my nephew Casey’s husband, Brandon – differentiated by the spelling of their middle names Jeffrey for #1 and Geoffrey for nephew Brandon or by referring #1as Bubba or to Nephew as Nephew or Uncle Mooney, referencing somewhat dated family redneck jokes. Don’t ask.)

What the hell was I talking about?

Oh! #2 and Bodington went to England on a vacation I am openly envious of. They’ve been all over the place – South Africa, Ecuador, Japan – and that’s lovely, but England is on my bucket list and they got to go to Hogwarts and have high tea and see the Queen and Prince William. I am jealous.

It’s later now.

Pops left for New York (more change). Mom flew with him and will hang with family and friends that still reside in the frozen north. Her house sold, things are moving along nicely at work and my assistant moved on to his own store. <sigh>

Due to all the above mentioned change – not to mention the state of the world – I’ve been somewhat grumpy and have been making an effort to take myself out of a negative state of mind. I tend to be, by turns, cynical, annoyed, snarky and bitchy simply out of habit that is exacerbated by watching the news or Saturday Night Live and getting the latest Trump update. The negativity is like a cassette tape that’s on repeat in my head, when basically, I’m a very nice person.

Ask around.

What got me thinking about my own state of mind was Brandon’s. Admittedly, his is a bit of a challenge to me as he is Mr. Spock and I am a cross between my Aunt Gertrude, Karen on Will and Grace and the old bat Shirley McClain played in Steel Magnolias.

Don’t ask.

Anyway, one of Brandon’s favorite comedians is George Carlin. I get it. He was a funny guy. Sardonic, ironic, brilliant, fast and – largely negative. While I understand it is a comic’s job to point out the irony, etc., in daily life, depending on who they are and what their style is, things can get really dark. Carlin’s style fell into that category. I mean really, really bleak. So if Mr. Spock is listening to this guy who speaks the “truth” and does it loudly and in a somewhat angry voice, how exactly is that going to affect Mr. Spock?

Well, I don’t know. But it’s not good for Brandon.

For instance, Brandon is Agnostic. Fine. It’s his choice and frankly I don’t think God cares either. I mean, really, if God is all powerful and good and whatever, he knows Bran’s mind and heart and could really not give a shit less if #1 goes to church, a baseball game or the living room couch on a Sunday morning. However, Bran has been getting adamant about it. Even a little belligerent. And I’m like, “Dude, what? Okay. You don’t believe in the religious God. I’m good, and seriously, Supernatural is about to start. Please don’t get in the way of my Sam and Dean time.”

Yesterday we were on our way to an appointment in BFE and Bran brought his George Carlin CD. I listened for about 15 minutes, turned it off and looked at my son.

“Jesus, no wonder you’re half crazy over this crap,” I said. “You’re living your life based on the gospel according to George freaking Carlin.”

Thank God I know how to be subtle.

“You may not believe in the stuff written by whomever claims to be the scribe of God in any given part of the Bible, but please please give the same discriminatory once over to Carlin’s material. This is his schtick. You get that right? He was apparently one angry fu—.”
“Sorry, but jeez! All this time I’ve been worried that you’re gonna end up punching pro-life marchers in the forehead or telling little old Mother Theresa look alikes that they’re full of sh-uh-baloney because you don’t believe so much and it was just a stupid recording of George Carlin warping your good sense!”
“Well,” said my completely unimpressed by my rant son. “If you look at things logically, he’s right about almost everything he says.”
“Perhaps if everything was black or white, but the gray areas count, Bran.”

There was more, but it got me thinking about what I listen to and what floats around in the space between my ears. In Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose, book I read and re-read endlessly, Eckhart Tolle talks about the ego and the recording it plays in our heads. A constant diatribe of discontent and negativity. We’re always something whether it’s annoyed, irritated, entitled, deprived, anxious, resentful, victimized – made up stuff that keeps us enslaved to negative feelings. Some of it, of course, can very well be rooted in real events or needs and wants, but most is habit. Think about when you’re driving and someone zooms in front of you. It startles you and you immediately decide that person did it on purpose or without any thought for you so they are suddenly the enemy and you can call them a worthless ass hat or perhaps a douche lord. Or a freaking jerk or a f&^$ing a$$hole…….. I digress.

I read something in the Buddhist Bootcamp blog that said (paraphrasing) You are not stuck in traffic. You are traffic.

Sing it with me : e – PIPH – any.

Of all the things that annoy me, it annoys me most that I am them. (That one is mine)

My point is not to demean anyone’s space. We are where we are. And I would never suggest that anxiety and/or depression are a figment of imagination. I’ve been there with both of them and for whatever reason they might exist for someone, they’re real as hell.

So are the voices.

Just kidding.

For the daily, though. The recording that plays over and over – maybe we could change it up. It’s surprisingly easy to do. The first step is to realize your ego is a separate entity from who you truly are. Your ego believes the guy cut in front of you in traffic ON PURPOSE to RUIN YOUR DAY. Sanity tells you he, like you, is just trying to get where he is going in one piece and he did a bone-headed thing. Maybe today you can refrain from telling him how many ways you’re going to eff him up when you get a hold of him the next time you see him on the freeway. Perhaps when someone walks into your store to ask directions or for something you clearly don’t sell you can summon a smile, even though they’re the 73rd person to do so, and give them the information they need instead of the finger.

Do you get where I’m going? Away from the edge and today I’ll take you with me if you want. Tomorrow I may be calling you for a lift.

Next up: Depression and Naked Disco Dancing.
……………My second cousin, once removed asked for advice, via her Facebook page, regarding something she could do to channel some extremely negative energy and (as I read it) sort of clear her space. I didn’t answer at first because, though I’ve come to think a lot of her and I adored her grandmother (my first cousin, once removed), I don’t know her well and it felt presumptuous to offer said advice.

I know. She asked. But my answer was a very personal one and it felt strange putting it out there.

Like I was naked.

Then she posted again, expressing surprise at the number of constructive suggestions she’d received when she sort of expected irreverence. SC chose a couple of the suggestions and shared her plans to follow through on them, but there was no irreverence. No silliness. No outrageous behavior to upend the blues. I responded thusly:

You wanted something irreverent? I’ve got it, I think. During times when life overwhelmed me, when sadness curled me into a fetal ball of fear under the blankets in my bed, behind closed and locked bedroom doors, my husband – whether reacting from concern or just not knowing what the hell else to do – marched in, turned on Donna Summer or Gloria Gaynor or The Bee Gees and told me to dance. I said “I’m naked under here.” He said, “Perfect! It’s pretty hard to take anything seriously when you’re dancing naked to ‘I Will Survive!'” I protested. I bitched. I cried. But he wouldn’t take no for an answer. So just to get rid of him I danced. Naked. To disco. There was some serious stuff bringing me down. Those dances became my fuck you to losing my mind to them. Irreverence matters. Do the constructive things you’ve mentioned but grab some irreverence as well. That’s just for you.

Just for you.

And, so you see, I was naked. And it was frightening. Not that anybody saw – except me. And nobody cared – even me – which was weird because we all know exactly how vain I used to be.

Shut up.

When I danced I discovered a kind of freedom that I hadn’t known since I was a child. It was a letting go of energy that children know instinctively how to release. As we grow into adults and buy into the trade offs that life inevitably brings – you know – make the deals to get the stuff, I think we tie up the instinct piece by piece and sell it, accidentally, for shit we never needed in the first place. It takes a level of consciousness of which most 12 to 30 year-olds are unaware to say no more often than not. And, frankly, I thought I’d said no. A lot. I thought I was pretty Zen. However, I forgot – or more likely – ignored the fact that pretending the deals I was making weren’t, in fact, deals and stuffing fear and anger in my “I’ll deal with that tomorrow” file like I was Scarlett O’Hara isn’t the same thing as being fully centered.

As if “fully centered” actually exists on this plane……

Adulting is hard. There’s no way around it. I knew it and I believed it. I just didn’t make room for it. And so, in that first summer and fall we spent in New York, when I was away from my two oldest daughters and my mother and Mom had cancer and I was still reeling from the loss of my father and I hated my job and Matthew hated me because I’d gone back on my word never to move one of my children from their home during high school and all of that didn’t even scratch the surface of the guilt and grief I was carrying from years of deals, I curled up in my bed one day and thought – well I stopped thinking. I was afraid to think. Or feel or move. I was afraid.

Which is where Mark and Donna Summer came into play.

It wasn’t the last time he found me that way. The first time wasn’t the last time I danced. And I still make deals. But I make them more fully aware of what I’m doing. There’s less idealism involved but there’s also less fear. I traded the need to have everything in its place for learning to live in the moment and be thankful for it. I traded wanting everyone to like me for liking myself. I traded religion for faith and I traded feeling like a victim to living like a badass.

I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t she sell sunglasses? Yes. I do. But what one “does” isn’t what makes one a badass.

I dated a guy in college who was, in every sense of the word, unavailable to me. It’s okay. It was my pattern as a commitment-phobe to choose those whom I could not have – which is a story for another time. With the advent of social media, this person and I crossed paths again five or six years ago. It was hey, how are you? Tell me about yourself…… We caught up a little and that was it. Except for one thing. He said to me, I’m happy to know you’ve lived a joyful life.

I hadn’t told him that. I mean, we’re basically strangers and I certainly didn’t reveal anything deep. I had a moment of what does he mean by that? Was I not joyful back then? Is he judging me? Which sounds like pure egocentric paranoia.

You’ve met me, right?

But once I dismissed Blanche – which is what I call my egocentric personality in honor of the character immortalized by Vivien Leigh in the movie Streetcar Named Desire – I was able to take the compliment for what it was. An impression given. My aura. It’s basically who I am. Really am. When I look at the things I’ve been through in my life – the good, the not so good, the horrifying – and know that who I am now, at the heart of it is the same happy, loud, curious, open, joyful being I was as a child and that all of my personalities get out of bed every single morning – THAT makes me a badass.

I’ll bet you just figured out you’re one as well.

It’s been lovely catching up!  I’ll try not to wait so long before sitting down to write next time because I have been known to go on and on………..


Filed under Daily Life

Any More Questions?

Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on Friday. It was one of the saddest moments of my life.

I marched in the Women’s March on Washington, in Phoenix, on Saturday and got over it.

Since then there has been, on social media, a plethora of photos and videos of the marches all over the world. The speeches, the chants, the singing, the sheer size of the crowds have been awe inspiring. The atmosphere at the marches has been, without exception, positive and empowering. I was, during the march and the hours I spent in the company of thousands of women, men and children, swept up in the positive message of love and equality for everyone. So, when I saw the posts from some women who were confused and angry by what they saw as anti-Trump rallies I was shocked. I was tempted to answer their posts in kind but decided to answer their question instead.

Why did I march?

I marched for my three daughters and my niece because there is legislation being drafted that, if passed, will take away their right to make reproductive choices that should only belong to them. I marched for women of all income levels who, if the current administration has their way, will lose access to affordable health care.

I marched for my son who has asthma because if the ACA is repealed with nothing to replace it, he will no longer be covered by my insurance till his 26th birthday. And that policy that he hopes he can get through his employer (he’s a musician and a part-time bartender) will no longer be available because it’s only available due to the ACA. Even if he could afford other insurance, he might not be able to obtain said insurance because he has a pre-existing condition.  His meds? $900.00 a month. Each. He needs three of them.

I marched for my other son who is disabled. Arguably the most marginalized of all the marginalized. If cuts talked about by the current administration are acted upon, his great big whopping food assistance allowance and his SSI will be decreased even further as will his medicaid insurance. He wants to return to school. Grants? Yes. Cut. Did you know that all references to the office of the ADA have been taken off the White House web site?

I marched because we elected a man who thinks it’s okay to speak about women in a way that degrades them as people. I have dealt with misogyny since I was in 7th grade and two boys wrote a poem about me that started out, “Tits or no tits. That is the question.” When I protested to the teacher I got detention. In my first job after high school – at 17 – two men in their 20’s used to corner me daily for a “Lorie sandwich,” then proceeded to discuss how said tits looked that day. When I reported it to my supervisor and then the owners of the business I was told to “get along with people,” and, “boys will be boys.” One of those “boys” is now part of the Wyoming state legislature that is trying to pass a law that makes it illegal to punish a business for discriminating against someone if they are offended by that person or their “lifestyle” (e.g. gays, lesbians, transgender, interracial couples, disabled people..…) I was fired from a job when I was 24 because one of the supervisors made a pass at me and I told him I wasn’t interested and, in fact, was offended by his behavior. Two weeks ago, after assisting my sales manager and me in thwarting a would be thief, a police officer walked up behind me and ran his hand across the back of my shoulders and down my arm and told me to take good care “hon.” He shook the hand of the 23-year-old man who works for me. Make no mistake. These are only a few of the stories I could tell and they pale in comparison to what some women have dealt with. I – we deserve better. So I marched.

I marched for my nephews, married in October. I marched for their son, born a week ago. The current administration is intent on putting an ultra-conservative on the Supreme Court to pave the way toward overturning gay marriage rights. Though my nephews would still be married in Arizona, thanks to the forward thinking citizens who had the intelligence to make marriage legal for all, who knows what would happen elsewhere? Love is love so I marched.

I marched because I believe in building bridges not walls. I live in Phoenix and I love the cultural mix of the southwest. I am open to refugees. Yes, I want to be safe but holing up in our country in a nationalist militarized snit (and acting like other countries are going to pay for it) won’t accomplish that.

I marched because I believe that between Putin, gerrymandering and voter suppression this election was rigged. I never understood how important local elections are or how important correct zoning for the districts is before now. There are more democrats than republicans in this country. How did we lose?

Gerrymandering. Google it.

I marched because I understand now and will help make the next election different.

I marched because we are killing our home, our planet and I want to help turn that around. Because climate change is not a left wing conspiracy or a Chinese hoax. Believing in science is not a plan to sabotage anyone’s religion. Nature is my church and the fact that I belong to the earth, not the other way around reminds me that there IS something bigger than myself and I owe it to future generations to preserve the only place we have to exist.

I marched because I – we – had to start somewhere and by God we did and it was magnificent! I marched with my friend Toni in Phoenix. Her sister, Shirley, marched in Durbin, South Africa. My childhood friends Pat and Chris marched in Minneapolis and Washington, respectively. My cousin Calley marched in Los Angeles. We marched with women, children and men of every color, sexual orientation, level of ability and religion. We marched as one out of love. LOVE. We marched because SOMEbody and to DO SOMEthing.

So we did. We marched. Now we move on. 10 Actions in 100 Days. The first one is at Kimmy’s house on Thursday.

Any questions?



Filed under Activism, Daily Life

It’s a Process

In the wake of the 30th anniversary of my marriage I thought I’d write about what makes a good marriage, but more than a month has passed since the momentous occasion and as I put hands on the keyboard in the hundredth attempt at doing so, I find I know very little. And I know everything.

Conundrum anyone?

People who’ve been married or together for decades will tell you though. The truth as they know (or don’t know) it.

Why stay together?

Love?  Yes, of course it’s love, but, really, what does love mean?

I don’t know.

But I do.

Therefore I have no advice to give and I could go on all day, giving you thousands of tips on how to formulate a lasting relationship that will bring you happiness and fulfillment. Or not.

I read once that spending a lifetime with one person goes against the natural tendencies of human nature. Taking into account some of the humans I spent time with when I was in the dating world, I totally get that, but even given the propensity of people to pick the wrong human, I disagree.

Look. We are basically alone on this carnival ride known as Life.  I, personally, have been confused about almost everything from inception. That I met someone when I was 11 years old and have loved him from the start seems like the way to go if at all possible. I mean two heads are better than one, right?

Not that there haven’t been hiccups.

There was that time when I was 13 and standing on stage with my cousin and brother, in the gym, prepping for a talent show performance. Mark came strutting in(and those who knew him back then will be able to visualize this as well as I), his arm around his girlfriend and greeted me across the room with a, “Hello beautiful.” My father, who’d been sitting facing us, heard this, stood up and turned around slowly with a murderous look on his face. (Those who knew my father will be able to visualize this as well). I thought it was all over right then.

Thanks Dad, for not killing my future husband.

There was the time when I was 15 and expressed my love for Mark via a letter and he said, “yeah, thanks but no thanks, jail bait.”

Fine. He was sweet and kind but the result was the same. My ego and my heart were shattered.

There were the weddings. Ours. To other people. Ironically, in the same year. The marriages lasted about the same amount of time as well – which is to say not long.

The hiccups our first few years together came rapid-fire and left us both wondering why, when we had loved each other for so long at that point, it was so difficult to meld our lives. I mean it’s not like Mark thought he knew everything and I was stubborn to a degree most commonly documented in mules. What attracted us to each other sometimes repelled us and many times in those early days the thing that held us together was the thought that if one left, the other would be alone and at the mercy of the short people we were so good at creating.

I can’t say that the hiccups ever stopped. I mean, it’s life. Somewhere in there, however, we found a groove and I can sum it up in one word. Communication. We talk and it depends on the day, month, year, millennium, moon cycle – whatever – who talks the most. I mean, you’d think it would be me simply by virtue of the fact that it’s me and, obviously, I talk a lot. Granted, some of those conversations are between me and, well, me, and the diatribe is pretty much never ending, let me tell you, but no. It’s not always me. Mark has a lot to say as well. That means one of us has to listen, which is harder. When Mark and I were first married I’d pour my heart out about a frustration, hurt, anger – basically I just needed to talk. He’d listen for a while, sum things up for me and offer a solution. Then we’d fight. I’d tell him he wasn’t listening and he’d tell me I was out of my mind because that’s all he’d done for however long we’d been sitting there. It took years of practice for him to understand the difference between problem solving and listening. It took years of me listening to him for me to understand that his intentions were good. He wasn’t trying to shut me up.

It was a classic Mars/Venus thing.

Now we set aside time for just talking and just listening. Sometimes we spend days that way. Sometimes we cobble together a few moments because our schedules keep us apart.

And that’s hard because we like being together. We’re buddies.

I remember when it dawned on me how much I love Mark. I mean, I always knew I loved him. But that all-encompassing never want to be without him ever again and can’t remember a time when it wasn’t that way thing. That you’re stuck with me now dude, so don’t even think about trying to get away, realization that had nothing to do with the five children, mortgage and car payments we’d racked up.

It was around our 15th anniversary and it came to me that almost all the memories I had were of Mark. Or if they weren’t of him, they were made within the time I knew him.

And it didn’t scare me.

I had been the one afraid of commitment in the beginning. I had been the one to run away. I had been the one who could not believe that another human being would love me just for me and that all I was required to bring to the party was – me.

I was enough and he was enough and around year 15 the realization dawned that I believed it. I guess what I saw was the difference between the beginning and the present. I slowed down long enough to pay homage to the process that was us and to acknowledge the beauty of life and this extraordinary gift of love I’d been given and was still allowed to participate in…..

…..And then a kid threw up or threw something at another kid and as quickly as the first 15 years passed, another 15 went by.

We are now entering a new phase with freedom involved that we have never experienced as a couple. It’s so new, in fact, that we’re not quite sure what to do with ourselves, though we’re determined to figure it out, one adventure at a time. Nude beaches have been mentioned but the reality verses (my) fantasy has us sticking with hiking in Montana – fully clothed – and sitting on beaches where everyone is at least strategically covered.

I, personally, am so jazzed by this phase, it’s almost hard to process. I feel like a grown up – like someone who is ready to explore a part of life I didn’t think I’d ever experience.

I feel open.

Believe me, I was not even close to the neighborhood where open lives when Mark and I started out, let alone knocking on doors that might actually do just that. It’s another gift choosing to build our relationship has given me. Given us – because Mark was fairly walled of as well. We learned and earned trust that has, more than anything else, released our hearts, minds and souls and enabled us to progress together and as individuals.

It’s a process has become our watch-phrase and it is a process we cherish. It is a relationship we nurture and never, ever take for granted. We have been married for 30 years, together officially for 32, in love for 40 and friends for 44. As much as I’ve learned and as little as I know, I realize fully how special that is and how blessed Mark and I are.

So, to answer your question. Wait. There was no question. It was my proclamation of how to stay married and do it well.

I have no idea.

Or, at least I have no road map.

Honestly, it’s a process, is the best I’ve got. Let it be a process and stay in the moment thereof. It’s kept Mark and me sane. Or at least together. And if we’re together and happy, how effing important is the sanity?

I’ll let my kids write that chapter in another 30.


Filed under Daily Life