Thursday, January 17, 2019

Keeping the Peace





Keeping the Peace



Leo stretched and yawned. What a relief. The monthly meeting was finally over. Over until the first Monday next month. Sure, the room was in disarray and the snack table was nothing but crumbs, but that was someone else’s job. He had all he could do to keep order. 
Today, Cyrus the opinionated orangutan had tried to dominate the sharing time. If Leo hadn’t cut him off, he would have gone on and on, leaving little time for others to air their complaints or make any constructive suggestions.
The Capuchins had clicked their tongues, hovered together, and kept casting their eyes toward Leo to let him know they weren’t happy that Old Orange Hair spent so much time on his dietary needs. Who knew omnivores could be gluten intolerant? Six syllables! No one could say it but Cyrus. The showoff.
Leo had been tapped to facilitate the meeting again. It was the third time this year. There were certainly more qualified leaders here. Take Ellie, for instance. She would have been perfect to conduct today’s meeting, but she had her walking papers. Some conservation group had bought her and she was going to Tennessee to join up with some of the other elephants who had been liberated.
“I’m no longer invited to take your complaints to the keepers, Leo,” she had said. “They still have some sore feelings about losing a main attraction. Besides, you’ve been here the longest.”
She was right, of course. Leo had arrived at this zoo when it was new and he was just a cub. Hunters had killed his mother, and he had no idea where his father had gotten to. He and his denmates were separated, and he heard that they were taken to a northern zoo. He was bought by this smaller but growing zoo in south Florida. Back then, before the emancipation, things had been very different.
When Leo grew into an older adolescent he got his own ground area with a moat and a couple of youngsters for company. They had brought him a female, but the chemistry just wasn’t there, and it took years for the keepers to solve the problem. When Gloria came, it was different for Leo, at least, but she suffered from PTSD, and it took her some time to take a shine to him. When she did, they made a great couple. Every day Gloria made him grateful to have their growing pride to watch over. 
As time passed and animal rights’ awareness heightened, human visitors to the zoo began to protest, more and more vehemently, that the captives had been deprived of their natural surroundings. The activists’ demands grew; they insisted that the animals be released to their natural habitat. Those days were scary.
Being released to a place he had no memory of was not something Leo thought would be a good idea – not for him anyway. Having fresh, insect-free food brought to him was comforting. He had no idea how it worked in the wild, but he was pretty sure slabs of clean meat wouldn’t be dropped at his feet on a regular basis.
The protestors’ demonstrations intensified, and the zoo owners decided that in the spirit of fair play, they would try democracy. It was a compromise. Of course, the worst bad idea had been opening up all the cages. As could have been predicted, it was pure chaos. Some of the younger carnivores who shall remain nameless forgot their manners, and the zoo was down three African Pygmy Hedgehogs, two Mexican Prairie dogs, and at least a dozen Russian dwarf hamsters.
Some of the more squeamish had to be sedated. When the offenders were threatened with no more reruns of “Animal Kingdom,” and especially no more cleanly packaged food, the more aggressive ones reluctantly agreed to play nice. They weren’t exactly contrite, but for the most part, harmony had been established.  Contracts were entered into; things got worked out.
Nobody had any illusions about making it on the outside. They had all grown complacent and lazy. Tooth and claw days were over. The zoo owners needed a show, and this one had a unique twist. They got Mondays and Tuesdays off, but twice a day Wednesday through Friday and three times a day on weekends, Leo and his associates would give them what they wanted. Things didn’t always run smoothly. For example, some of the adolescent male tigers didn’t always cooperate. They weren’t always willing to pretend to be fierce.
Nowadays the monthly meetings were simply an opportunity for all to air grievances and put forward ideas for making things work better. One of those meetings had proposed the idea to call everyone “residents,” and it was passed with only one dissenter, the gnu. He liked watching humans try to say his name.
The Gibbons, unanimously in favor of the name change, had always been unhappy being called monkeys, if the truth were known. Gibson said something about “if only the guests would just read the damn signs,” The macaques and the Golden Tamarins were pretty non-plussed about the whole naming thing, and the Capuchins were rolling their eyes by then. Most of them had ADHD.
At another meeting it was decided that the veterinarian services be scheduled weekly. Bi-monthly visits by the vet just weren’t enough to keep the allergies under control. Most hadn’t adjusted well to the humidity and the flora, especially the black bear. From fall to the end of the year his nose ran constantly, not a pretty sight.
 The marmosets had wanted a personal trainer to teach them new tricks, and it was rejected as being preferential.  They did manage to push for replacing some of the older trapezes, rubber straps, and rings. That seemed to pacify them. “As long as those residents are getting exercise equipment,” Babs said, “I want a new blanket for a better hammock. The one I’ve got has gotten too short.” Done and done. Management was very accommodating. Leo wondered when the demands might reach a limit, but so far it was all good. Apparently attendance was up, which had to be good for the bottom line. After all, there were no attractions like this one anywhere else.
At first, the leaders of the monthly meeting were rotated; even Ted the tortoise got his chance. But with him in charge, the meeting tended to drag on for much longer than anyone’s attention span allowed. For one thing, his sentences were eternal and lacking in proper full stops. Folks began talking among themselves and not in whispers. Some started grooming one another and, well, let’s just say that Robert’s Rules were forgotten. Nobody could tell if Ted got his feelings hurt or not, what with how he suffered from leaking tear ducts.
Leo had been recruited to conduct the meetings more and more often. Maybe it was the voice. It tended to get everyone’s attention, for sure. On the other hand, he had often been complimented on his sense of fairness. He would say, if asked, that he had seen too much strife and was tired of it. He just wanted everyone to get along.
Currently, it worked like this: Visitors arrived promptly on the designated days. They rolled in, caged in little electric cars connected nose to tail. There were no more armed guards – that hadn’t worked at all. Guns were frightening, especially to the giraffe, poor guy.  His uncontrolled flatulence was a definite turn-off.
Little trains carried the guests all over the grounds on tracks that were installed specifically for optimum viewing. Some still exclaimed their surprise at how autonomy worked so well, but anyone with a brain could see that it wasn’t rocket science. Everyone just had to get along.
So what if the humans smelled funny and walked upright all the time? They had been capable of change, hadn’t they? Willingness to grow and learn were important qualities. Forgiveness mattered, too. Because any bad behavior on either side could be attributed to either lack of awareness or to personal suffering—not malice. That concept was harder for some than others.
It had been a tough situation, and everyone made the best of it. Together they found a peaceful solution. Cooperation rather than competition; Leo’s mate Gloria taught him that. She called it the feminine model.           

The End

Friday, January 11, 2019

Sight



My mother said it was foolishness on my part and I was lucky nothing bad happened. My sister Danni said he wasn’t good enough for me and would have broken my heart. What both of them really meant is: A guy like that? What would he be doing with a girl like you? Because he was way out of my league, for sure. As if they thought I couldn’t see that. I was fat, not retarded.
I saw him before we actually met; at least I thought I did. I work in the mall and was having lunch in the food court. He was standing nearby texting on his phone. My sister was across from me, yakking to me about her sometimes boyfriend. She was trying to wheedle information out of me about him. My sister can be relentless, so I gave in and told her what she didn’t want to hear. She left unhappy.
The guy on his phone could have heard our conversation, but it didn’t register with me at the time; I was too busy admiring his derriere. It was quite nice. We met, formally, if you can call a mall food court formal, over French fries—my favorite thing. You would know that if you saw me. It was a few days later and I was at my usual table. He just took one of my fries. No one does that, especially not a stranger, and I looked up to give him a piece of my mind. And then he smiled. You don’t mind, do you he said, and it wasn’t really a question and all of a sudden I really didn’t mind.
He sat down in front of me, introduced himself, and smiled some more, so I shoved the fries over and we shared. We even dipped in the same ketchup container. I wish I could tell you what we talked about, but honestly I was bedazzled. I know, what a silly word. But it’s true. I do know he talked, quite nicely, in fact, but I’m not really clear what about. Maybe I was in shock. Maybe I was too busy looking at him.
He was too well put together to be homeless or ‘down on his luck’ as my family predicted that night at supper. He had nice clothes, clean and pressed. He wore expensive shoes and he smelled good, I told my skeptical parents. He was clean shaven, too, in spite of the current trend to look like you have a five day growth of facial hair all the time. He asked me questions—I remember that. As if I might have a fascinating story to tell about my boring, ordinary life.
It was true that my imagination knew no bounds for things the thin me would do, adventures I would have, the places I would go. In the real world though, come fall semester, the real me would be starting at the community college. That would allow my living at home and saving some money. After two years I would go off to the university where I would do amazing things and make my parents proud.
It was true that I was smart, even though my mother said apparently not smart enough to stay away from strangers. I had top scores in almost everything that mattered, and the only reason I didn’t get “most likely to succeed” was because the girl who was smart AND pretty AND thin got that. Of course. She will succeed, but not how she thinks.
Oh, and another thing I have going for me, or against me, whichever way I’m looking at it at the time—is prescience. You know what that is, don’t you? I’m not exactly a psychic, but I can see into the future. Not always, but sometimes, and I could see that most-likely-to-succeed girl pregnant with her third child living with the scant money provided sporadically by her ex-husband, the star quarterback who would become a so-so car salesman with all that muscle turned to fat. I thought about warning her, but the way she looked through me, the way they all did, I just didn’t. Besides, that would be breaking the rules.
You have every right to ask why I didn’t use that foresight, my clairvoyance, if you will, to see what was coming with that gorgeous guy joining me for lunch every day. Yes, that’s right; he was there the next day and the next. And the next. Then he asked me on a date. Blew my mind. Me? You’re kidding, right? Why would YOU want to go out with ME?
I like you, he said. I like talking to you. You’re genuine; you don’t act coy or put on airs or try to play hard to get or engage in flirty games. That’s new to me, he said, and I like it.
Well, it was true. I didn’t do any of those things. Never had, and wouldn’t even know how. I just thought I was lucky to have a real conversation with such a handsome man for an hour a day who seemed to enjoy my company. He didn’t appear to see the fat me at all. He laughed at my witty observations, he groaned in pain when I told him some of my most embarrassing moments, and he believed me when I told him about my special skill.
Maybe I was trying to impress him or perhaps just find some way to avoid his sudden departure from my mundane days, but I told him about my sight that first day. I’d never told anyone before. My family were the only ones who knew about it, and they saw clairvoyance as a curse; whereas he saw it as a gift. He said I should be proud of my ability. That it was amazing.
He would point to someone and ask me if I could read their fate and often I could, at least a small piece of it, but sometimes I couldn’t. It can’t be forced and some people are unreadable. He even asked me if I could see what my own life would be like. My family never asked me that before, as if my life really didn’t matter much. I told him I could, up to a point. For instance, I saw some kind of illness within a few years, but I couldn’t tell if it would kill me or not.
It was why I flat out quit trying to control my weight. You could say it was just an excuse to eat whatever I wanted. But I’d been on every diet invented, and if I was going to die before I was twenty years old, what was the point in trying to get skinny and be healthy? That would be so ironic, I said, to be thin and then get sick. I’d never said that out loud either. He seemed to understand. At least he didn’t try to point out the illogic of my thinking.
So we went on the date. First, we walked on the arcade, and he talked to me just like I imagine he would talk to a beautiful girl. That’s when he told me about the offer he had gotten, one that could be the key to a fabulous future, to become a part of something that might be a huge success. He was excited about it, but he just didn’t know if he should do it.
You know where this is headed, don’t you? I did too. I knew then that I was being used, or that my ability was; same thing. But you know what? I didn’t care. For two weeks week I got to feel . . . normal. He had treated me like I was the girl he wanted to be with and talk to. He never wavered in his willingness to listen to my stories, to ask great questions even, uncomfortable ones sometimes that made me think about my ideas about myself and where they came from. He looked me in the eyes and shared intimate details about his life with me, even awkward ones. Did he make it all up? I don’t have that kind of power. I can’t tell. But, again, I don’t care.
First of all, I had fun. I saw myself differently. I saw myself one day carrying on an honest conversation with a good looking man and not feeling beholden to him. I saw me being willing to reveal myself, willing to be smart, able to have a sense of humor, able to be natural. I saw that I might be able to be with someone—maybe even a man—without being conscious of my weight. I was always aware of being the fat one. Not with him. So perhaps with someone else someday, who knows?
I told him what he wanted to know. Why not? It was what he needed to find out before he took the leap, and I saw where it would go, so why keep it to myself? He bought me a great lunch in a nice place. They even served my favorite food. He held my hands across the table letting everyone see. He looked straight into my eyes and smiled at me and thanked me and told me he hoped he would see me again. Even if he was lying it felt really nice at the time.
And he still stole some of my fries.

The End


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

First fiction piece: The Shell Station on Highway 41


The Shell Station on Highway 41

Maddie sat in the hot car with the windows up watching the guy next to her tend to his Harley. He had filled the tank, made sure it didn't drip, wiped the cap and replaced it, folded and stowed the rag, checked to be sure his bag was bungeed, zipped up his windbreaker, climbed on, balanced the cycle with his legs and was donning his gloves, pushing each finger in mindfully.
Donnie was in the convenience store paying for gas for the poor car. He was no doubt buying another eight-pack, too, and their cans would soon join the empties and other trash littering the floorboards, front and back. Even the back seat was cluttered. He had taken the keys so she couldn’t listen to the radio, much less open the windows. Such an asshole.
Maddie opened the door and stepped out into the noise and confusion that was a holiday weekend at the biggest gas station in town. Bells dinging, engines running; eight bays and all of them with cars and trucks being filled. It was going to be a hot one, and the cold blue waters of three different springs beckoned.
All she had with her was her driver license and a little cash: fourteen dollars and some change. She walked up to the Harley and caught the driver’s attention. He looked at her with a question in his light blue eyes. It wasn’t an unkind look at all, just curious.
“Can I come with you?” she asked. What the heck was she doing?
He paused and searched her face. What he saw there must’ve convinced him, because he smiled. It was the sweetest thing she had seen in ages.  
“Sure,” was all he said, and he reached into the saddle bag and handed her a helmet and a windbreaker like his, only smaller. She put both on as he stepped down on the starter. The machine came to life with a smooth rumble. He settled into the seat, nodded and she climbed up behind him and wrapped her arms around his middle. He was small, probably no more than 5’6” and thin, but she could feel his muscles moving as its owner guided the motorcycle effortlessly onto the highway headed south. They took off. She laid her head on his back and let herself cry.
***
Dave knew his mother was going to have a fit when he showed up with a girl—one he knew nothing about. Hell, not even her name. He’d been divorced for three years now, and it had been at least that long since he’d been home. He was only going there now because his brother insisted. “You better come now or it might be too late,” Mark had said. Maybe just trying to scare him, maybe hoping to borrow some money, knowing Dave wouldn’t say no face-to-face. Not to his little brother.
But, forget his brother. What was the girl’s story? And why him? Dave had seen the car parked beside him. Nineteen-eighty-eight Mustang convertible. It was a mess. A pretty cool car underneath all the neglect—even a good washing would have helped, but it needed more TLC than that.
He hadn’t paid much attention to the passenger until she stepped out of the car. She looked to have been neglected, too, what with her wrinkled, soiled clothes and scuffed up sneakers. Even so, there was something in that look, staring at him with those eyes. Eyes a guy could drown in.
Maybe that explained why Dave said “Sure." Nothing else did. Was she being abused? Did she need help? Or, was she going to murder him some miles down the road when they had to stop to sleep? Hell, she didn’t even know how far he was going. She might want off way before Key West, so no need to worry about Mom’s reaction. The surprise passenger would surely be long gone by then.
Maybe just a ride out of there was all she wanted. Possibly some cash. No sense in trying to know what couldn’t be known. Never had much success figuring out people’s motivations anyways. Sometimes even they didn’t know why they did what they did. Like himself. Like right now.
*** 
The weather report had promised rain, desperately needed. They'd promised it before and been wrong, but they were right this time. It started with a sprinkle, then increased to a solid, diving rain. No sense in pressing on. She had to be wet to the bone with just his ex-wife’s windbreaker covering that thin cotton blouse and her torn jeans. Dave wasn’t doing much better. The all-weather gear was tucked safely in plastic zip-locks in the saddle bags, and he had started to shiver.
He pulled off the road into what looked like an ancient motel—little yellow cottages in a semi-circle, four of them. There was a lighted sign that no doubt said vacancy, but so many of the letters were missing, it just boasted “can y.” He rolled under the overhang in front of a door labeled office and shut down the beast.
They both got off, and even though he’d felt the girl’s presence for the last seventy miles, it was the first time since she walked up to him, asking to come along, that he saw her face. Poor kid looked scared. Probably having second thoughts—thoughts like maybe he was going to kill her instead of the other way around.
 “Listen, I’m not...” He started.
“I know.”
“How do you know?”
She sighed and looked down as if gathering some information from the stones on the ground. “I just know.”
It looked like that was going to be the sum total of her communication, but then she looked up. “I watched you.” Her gaze was intense.
“When?”
“While you were getting ready to take off. You’re careful and a little bit fussy. You want everything to be just right, and you make sure it is. You take care with things. I saw how you looked at Donnie’s car, too. I could see that you felt sorry for it, and you were right. He never took care of anything. Not like you do.”
“You do know that doesn’t clear me as a potential serial killer, don’t you? I heard Ted Bundy was pretty fussy, too, but he was a bad dude.”
Then she smiled. “Maddie,” she said, and stuck out her hand.
He pulled off his glove. “Dave. Pleased to meet you.”
*** 
That was their story, and they never deviated from the script. Not one word of it. Their kids had asked them to tell it nearly every year on anniversaries—twenty first this year. Their daughter, the youngest, or sometimes one of the boys, had earlier pressed for more details, like did they make it to Key West, was his mother really sick then, did Uncle Mark want to borrow money, stuff like that. None of it mattered, but they told it anyway.
They made it to Key West. They took their time. By then she knew just how to make him laugh—and blush—and he knew he was never going to let her get away. He introduced her as his fiancĂ©e, and his mother who was nowhere near dying was thrilled. In fact, Momma stayed alive long enough for all three of her grandkids to know her and call her Nana. By the time she passed, both boys were taller than Dave, no huge feat, and their baby girl was in fifth grade.
His brother Mark did want money, and Dave gave it to him and never saw a dime of it back, but Maddie said it had been a gift all along. Uncle Mark was godfather to their first born, and by then he was married for the third time. That wife managed to last the longest. Mark told them not everyone could find the love of their life—in a gas station or anywhere else.
Donnie the asshole was never seen again, even though Maddie and Dave went back to North Florida and settled on Dave’s fifteen acres. They often got gas at that same station and both of them wondered if they might see the guy. Dave wanted to buy his Mustang, and Maddie thought she maybe owed him an explanation. What had Donnie thought when he came back and she wasn’t there?
When the story got told, Dave and Maddie always warned the kids that no one on God’s earth should ever, ever, do what their mother had done. Or their father either for that matter. It was foolish and dangerous and could have ended very differently. Very differently indeed. Still, the kids couldn't miss the look their parents gave each other every time they told it.


The End



2019 Decision

I think I'm going to start posting some (maybe all) of my short stories here. I may or may not ever see them in print, but at least here my friends and visitors to my blog can read them if they like. I'll still add my pithy comments and complaints and essays from time to time, but if you're not interested you can skip them. I'll identify the stories as fiction and pick one today to post. If you read anything here, let me know, please. It keeps me going.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Happiness is Overrated


I read a letter to an advice columnist from a guy named Jamie. He had decided he needed to jettison some friends from his life – friends who weren’t making him happy. It made me think, and of course thinking makes me write. 

Oh, Jamie, 32 years old and deciding that happiness is the most important thing and that you can afford to kiss friends goodbye who don’t make you happy? Phew. Just wait until you’re 62 or 72 or 82 and see how much that perspective has changed. If life, for you, is still about having your washing and ironing done and your bills paid, I’d be surprised. Your little run-in with some illness issues might have frightened you, and I get it – at your age, that is a shock. A little later, a blink of the eye really, no longer surprised by illness, your cabinet stocked with little amber medicine bottles, you might wish for more, not fewer friends. Let me explain.

At 78, I have widened, not narrowed, my circle of friends and am richer for it. I have friends much younger than I – maybe even twenty years younger. We talk about the kinds of things I don’t talk to my age-appropriate peers about. One of my younger friends is dating again after being a widow for quite a few years; it’s so much fun listening to her analysis of the dating game in her early fifties. Another recently had a hysterectomy and is concerned at how her sex life will be affected.  I enjoy honest conversations with both of these gals about something I have long since stopped worrying about.

I have book club friends and we rarely talk about the book; we talk about grandkids and retirement and ill loved ones and ongoing insecurities. We meet for lunch every couple of months.

I write, so I have a writer’s group. Four of us are old enough to remember JFK’s assassination. We love to read each other’s musings. Would I call these people friends? Of course, but they are in my widened circle.

I have online friends. Some are Facebook friends – people I knew once personally and have moved away from, or they me, so we manage to stay connected this way. But then there are some I met at an online writing symposium. We connected immediately and have stayed in touch sporadically for over a year. They, too, are writers, so they are articulate and expressive and you wouldn’t believe some of the things we are able to talk about, teach each other about, having never physically met.

The smaller circle contains my old, old friends – some since junior high school, some since college, and some since my days as a career woman. There are a few I have distanced myself from, granted, since our views on the weightier issues are in direct contrast, but if they were to call me with a sick husband I would be there. I don’t give up on friends; I don’t pitch them from my life if they don’t make me happy. Sometimes things that make me sad are at least as meaningful to me as the things that make me smile.

Some of my best friends are dead, see, and I feel their loss. I miss them and realize how fleeting life is. I stand in my kitchen and use something one of my now departed friends gave me or I remember buying it with her there, and it hurts, but I love it that I have that memory. My life is so much richer for having had those much-loved friends in it.

And the tighter circle yet? My family, of course: My husband and two kids and their spouses and the two babies. Yes, babies. At 75 my 38-yr.old daughter had her first – the love of my life, a grandson – and two years later she had another – my nine-month old granddaughter. They make me happy and sad, I worry about them and fret over them, and hurt when they hurt, but they are what give my life purpose, and that, my young friend matters so much more than happiness. I have a purpose. I’m Nana. It’s not my only purpose; I have a less-than-hardy husband who I take care of, and I edit technical texts for my son. And I write my novels and stories that no one has ever heard of. Purpose.

Not for all of us does life become about happiness and reducing stress. And everything will stop being fun eventually, trust me, but you won’t be able to just leave. And overthinking can’t really harm you; you never know, you might find enlightenment in one of those thinking cycles. And some day the only time you will have is spare time; busy-ness will be a thing of the past.

I’m doing end-of -life thinking right now – making arrangements, as they say. I’m de-cluttering and writing letters to loved ones letting them know what they meant to me. Is it fun? I suppose I would call it fulfilling; maybe that’s a mature form of fun. These times are meaningful and sometimes tearful. Some of my friends are going through awful stuff and they aren’t any fun to talk to, but those talks help me grow and help them feel heard. Growing and being of service beats happiness, hands down.

Every relationship I’ve ever had has taught me something – about myself, mostly. Even the negative ones—maybe especially the negative ones. I had one person in my life – a really close friend – who drained my energy. She could be cruel and narcissistic and self-righteous, and so I let her go. But my anger at her fueled me to write a novel – I ended up writing three of them, actually, probably just to show her. She called me one day and I didn’t answer. Two months later her son called me to tell me she had ended her life. I don’t blame myself; I know what her demons were, but I wish I had answered the phone. Was I so delicate, so fragile that I couldn’t take whatever hurtful thing I thought she was going say? Now I’ll never know and that haunts me. If you let go of friends because they are difficult and challenging, you might just not learn what they have to teach you.

My advice would be dive into the fray. Live fully and with passion and purpose. Don’t aim for a stress-free life, one that is mellow, one that honors only self-preservation. Take risks – in friendships and in life. Open yourself up to people. Widen your circle; don’t narrow it. Embrace prickly. Comfortable isn’t always the best way to be. Comfort breeds complacency. Sometimes discomfort is a great motivator. Don’t try to decide what kind of person you want to be – just be it. And drag some friends along to talk to as you go.

Hair


I decided to stop coloring my hair. I mean, after all, it was ridiculous the money I spent to stay a brunette every five or six weeks, and six was too long. The worse thing was that we had moved to north-central Florida from south Florida, and even though we had reasons to go back (Ed’s mom was still alive) it felt crazy to have my hair cut and colored by my favorite stylist, a four hour drive. Talk about a major inconvenience.

So, here I am, nearly all of the insane things I did to my hair (highlights, lowlights, toner, you name it) have nearly been shorn by my new stylist, Melanie. I said I was trying to ease into this final stage of life rather than just let it happen. Denial, I think they call it. Melanie is great with short, short pixie cuts, so all my efforts to stave off aging have fallen onto the parlor floor, been swept up and tossed out. And my hair, most of it, is white now. And I mean white. When people talk about race and call themselves white? Let me tell you: no one is truly white. My hair is.

I almost gasp every time I look in the mirror. We drove to Tampa to see some friends we hadn’t seen in a while, and my girlfriend said, “Oh, my.” I know, I know. It will take some getting used to. It’s got to be harder on the people looking at me than it is for me; I only have to look in the mirror once or twice a day. I can’t imagine her dismay as we sat and talked for hours. Poor thing.

I swear, I think my husband doesn’t even know I have hair. I used to do drastic things to my then brown hair and he never said a word unless I asked, “How do you like my hair?”

“It looks nice,” he would say, I know no doubt asking himself what was different about me. Clueless.

I feel like I should get a decent photo of me like this and post it on Facebook and Google for email because every time I look at my profile picture, I feel like a fake. All the selfies I’ve taken I’ve deleted. They make me look old. I keep saying that when it all grows in pure white I’ll do it or have someone professional do it. But for now when you go to my Facebook page or get an email from me, I want you to know: I don’t look like that anymore. Soon I'll get around to changing my profile picture, even here on my blog.

It made no sense! I live in the woods – five acres in a tiny town a half hour from a decent-sized city. My three-year-old grandson still asks me to get down on the floor and play with him, and my baby granddaughter studies my face with serious concentration, makes some kind of decision, and throws herself from her mother’s arms to reach for me, so I guess I’ve managed to impress the only two people in the world I care to dazzle.

I was working before and wanted to keep the illusion that I wasn’t an old person who still needed to work. So I dyed my hair. I’m not working any longer – well not for pay and not anyplace that I can’t just stay in my pajamas to do what I do. Those of us who are good with words will always be able to “work;” in fact, we’ll never be able to stop. Writing is a blessing and a curse. I’m driven to write. Just look at this little silly thing about me going gray. I couldn’t stop myself from putting it down on paper. Such a dork. And now I’m one who looks her age.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Going to borrow something someone else wrote, that I might have embellished just a tad, but something I feel needs to be said. It's political. Posted by a Christian Pastor, James Lyttle, on September 17, 2018:


“I remember the day after the 2016 Election, a friend of mine who happens to be white, remarked on social media that he “finally wasn’t embarrassed by America and our President.” Others claimed they had "suffered" during Obama's presidency.
Since then I’ve heard those sentiments echoed by more white folks than I can count: supposed relief at once again having a leader who instills pride.
Since I don’t have the time to ask each of them individually, I’ll ask here:
What exactly were you embarrassed by?
Were you embarrassed by Barack Obama's lone and enduring twenty-five year marriage to a strong woman whom he’s never ceased to publicly praise, respect, or cherish?
Were you embarrassed by the way he lovingly and sweetly parented and protected his daughters?
Were you embarrassed by his eloquence, his quick wit, his easy humor, his seeming comfort meeting with both world leaders and street cleaners; by his bright smile or his sense of empathy or his steadiness—perhaps by his lack of personal scandals or verbal gaffes or impulsive tirades?
No. Of course you weren’t.
As as for how you suffered, how did you suffer when the American Auto industry broke sales records, or when clean energy doubled, or when the deficit was cut, or when unemployment was cut in half, or when Osama bin Laden was eliminated or the stock market tripled or when he won the Nobel Peace Prize, or became Time Person of the Year?
Honestly, I don’t believe ever suffered by being embarrassed. That word implies an association that brings ridicule, one that makes you ashamed by association, and if that’s something you claim to have experienced over the eight years of having Barack Obama representing you in the world, I’m going to suggest you rethink your word choice.
You weren’t “embarrassed” by Barack Obama.
You were threatened by him.
You were offended by him.
You were challenged by him.
You were enraged by him.
But I don’t believe it had anything to do with his resume or his experience or his character or his conduct in office because many of you seem fully proud right now to be associated with a three-time married, serial adulterer and confessed predator; a man whose election and business dealings and relationships are riddled with controversy and malfeasance. You’re perfectly fine being represented by a bullying, obnoxious, genitalia-grabbing, Tweet-ranting, Prime Minister-shoving charlatan who’s managed to offend all our allies and insult distinguish world leaders, National public servants, and local authorities. And you’re okay with him putting on religious faith like a rented, dusty, ill-fitting tuxedo and immediately tossing it in the garbage when he’s finished with it.
None of that you’re embarrassed by? I wonder how that works.
Actually, I’m afraid I have an idea. I hope I’m wrong.
Listen, you’re perfectly within your rights to have disagreed with Barack Obama’s policies or to have taken issue with his tactics. No one’s claiming he was a flawless politician or a perfect human being. But somehow I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about here. I think the thing President Obama did that really upset you, white friend, was having a complexion that was far darker than you were ever comfortable with. I think the President we have now feels much better, decidedly whiter.
Because objectively speaking, if what’s happening in our country right now doesn’t cause you great shame, I don’t believe embarrassment is ever something you struggle with.
No, if you claimed to be “embarrassed” by Barack Obama but you’re not embarrassed by Donald Trump, I’m going to strongly suggest it was largely a pigmentation issue.