The Confusion I was relieved to know that my neighbor’s terrible, hacking cough was from her taking a huge hit of weed and not from possibly being infected with COVID-19. At first, the sound of her cough had my radar up for her being a … Continue reading Pandemic Aside
As I listened to Vice President’ Biden speaking to a group of people on the radio yesterday, Super Tuesday 2020, this metaphor for the two likely candidates for the upcoming General election came to me in a flash: “From Buffoon to Galoot in one fell swoop.” It sounds just like something my mother would say; though she’s passed more than a decade ago, I believe it was she whispering politics in my ear. I have no doubt that she’s rolling over in her grave in disbelief that The Donald is President of the United States. I could almost hear the sarcasm in her voice compressing so much sound and fury of our politics today into a few words, which would go something like this, “Good Lord have mercy. We are going from a buffoon to a galoot in one fell swoop!” These descriptions of Trump and Biden are so apropos that I decided it was worth a blog post.
I don’t post much, and I try not to listen to what is considered news today. I have concluded that there is absolutely no need to tune into the 24/7 propaganda cycle that focuses on fear, lies and optics, so it’s eerie when I know what’s going on even when I’ve unplugged from the feed. Somehow, through osmosis, intuitiveness into our greater consciousness, or just plain ignorance to how much media I’m actually exposed to, I always seem to know what’s going on in a general sense. Today I listened. I indulged. I’ll admit. I was hoping to hear about a couple of local measures I support, but I also wanted to know who won the Primary.
I mean what happens when 20 Democratic candidates fragment the vote?
If we can figure out how to use psychographics drawn from huge data sets and use sophisticated modeling for predicting winners, you’d think at least one quant geek would advise a decision maker at the Democratic National Committee that Americans don’t like too much choice. It’s overwhelming and makes us anxious. Or, hasn’t anyone ever heard the saying “United we stand, divided we fall?” Perhaps this Emperor at the DNC wears no clothes?
So, like a good American, I skipped over to my polling place and voted. My civic duty now complete, I felt underwhelmed. I voted for someone I’d never heard of because she was the first name listed after the WASPY guys I didn’t want. How can I be expected to be knowledgeable about all the Presidential candidates from which I had to choose? If the DNC doesn’t care about narrowing the pool down for me then why should I care to know everybody in that pool who wants in? Instead, I’ll pick the gal that most likely can relate to me, and I make that decision from her looks and a few blurbs about her on a website. And, that’s the truth
Being an informed voter on 20 hopefuls is a bit much to ask of me don’t you think? I know 20 people where I live, and it took a minute. I don’t have that much time. I’m a busy single Mom with a lot on my plate. So my voting algorithm went like this: she’s got my vote if she’s un-embedded in D.C. corruption, unlikely to die in-office from old age, hasn’t sent me a ton of expensive, glossy fliers, hasn’t groped a man or woman in a professional setting, and is a black/brown woman. This person knows me more than the others, I figure.
If, as a consultant, I had handed my bosses 20 bullet points in a summary, heads would have rolled. I wonder how these three-bullet guys, the elevator speech gurus, felt about the ballot. They likely are Republicans anyway, so never mind.
The news channel that I found on the radio last night must have been public access. Can anyone say, “Start sending out resumes if Trump wins the General?” I digress. Anyway, this public access channel played really long clips of Vice President Biden speaking. Maybe that was a live feed? I don’t know or care, but in any case he sounds so contrived; like a ventriloquist is pulling his strings located where a spine should be.
When I think of Biden, I can’t help but conjure up images of a dumb jock, just happy to be included in the party and completely unaware of what’s really going on. Think of the dude at the beer keg with his stomach painted in the team colors, saying hi to everyone and not meaning a word of it. Or, more politically, think Chauncey Gardner in the film Being There sans the charm and doubt that there may be wisdom in that man.
In my first job out of college in the mid-nineties, I worked as a journalist and I covered the Food and Drug Administration in Rockville, Maryland (very exciting). Joe Biden was State Senator from Delaware then and he often would be on the Amtrak with me and a bunch of other white collars grinding to get ahead. He’d be going home to Delaware from D.C., most likely. He had no entourage, just the best threads in the train station. I thought he was cool for riding Amtrak—a man of the people—the people who ride Amtrak that is, not the local.
That impression changed in 2012 when the spotlight was so bright even Biden’s handlers couldn’t hide his awkward dumbness. He made inappropriate remarks and groped women. I was living in Pennsylvania then, and remember barns tagged, “I’m no racist! I hate Baby Joey too!” For the Democrats, he became that unwanted, clueless Uncle you try not to invite to social functions because he’s going to embarrass you or himself somehow. I was a Republican back then…everyone messes up at some point in their life okay…forgive me. Now, back to being a Democrat, I can see, party affiliation has zero impact on my impression of his character. He’s a wooden dummy and I don’t know who is giving him the words and thoughts that come out of his mouth. I am pretty sure they aren’t his own.
And, there’s no need for me to wax on about Trump’s incompetency. He is a caricature that is an actual man, I think. I bet 30 years ago, I could have done much better than he did if I had been given the same capital he was given out of the gate. C’mon now, doesn’t everyone know that using that much gold in and on any building looks gaudy. These Harvard grads think that being given millions in seed money from the family fortune is starting from scratch.
Trump is the iconic 1980s raider tycoon that believes greed is good. Will anyone ask The Donald what he thinks of greed? Trump is the epitome of a buffoon. Why do so many plumbers, electricians, and union guys like him? He’s not on your side guys! Just because he’s white like you doesn’t means he’s got your backs dudes! I’m pretty sure that he thinks you’re all a pile of doodie too. Stop with the delusion and the hatred.
Well, that’s my blog today. It is uninformed perhaps. I thought I’d join the world and post this pile of meaningless bull dung before I delete it as drivel instead.
“Racist! White Devil,” she spews Her lips bristle—an angry red Her skin rich, glowing brown like melted dark caramel She is beautiful This killer winging daggers at my ignorance I dodge the blades and silently think “Even translucent white devils bear crosses!” I think this … Continue reading White Devil
I did not reflect on my 40th birthday nearly four years ago. I simply cried that I was old. I howled when I realized I was older than my mother was when, as a child, I remarked to her “40? That’s old!” Please allow me to provide my my own insights on having some experience now on Earth
1. The world stays the same. We gain and lose a variety of perspectives along the way.
2. Traveling highlights our commonalities as humans
3. People will let you down, and tear your heart out. They will betray you and hate you for no good reason.
4. People will amaze you with their acts of kindness, particularly those you thought had given enough.
5. Age does not bring wisdom to all – choose wisely to whom you pay attention and to whom you hand your trust.
6. A scattered approach is the sign of a creative mind. Discipline gathers the pieces together somewhere down the line. Trust the process. Don’t make lists. You’ll forget where you put them.
7. Many people are good, but fear can overshadow it.
8. Fight the urge to care for your own first. It’s in our nature, but we’re all the same at our core.
9. Animals suffer from our gluttonous consumption. You will be judged by how you treated the creatures of the Earth. You shake the universe with the splat of an insect.
10. Childcare means very different things to different people and so does house cleaning.
11. Get your hands dirty. Make messes.
12. Stereotypes are rooted in truth from the past, but you need not subscribe to them. Be the change you want to see in the world (That sentence, of course, is plagiarized).
13. Don’t fear plagiarism. Being copied is the ultimate compliment. There are no new ideas.
14. Watch Star Trek – everything you need to know about life and a better future is in there.
15. Humans waste great innovations until leaders show them how not to.
16. War determines the victor who then determines history.
17. Be childlike and respect a child’s point of view, for it is closer to God.
18. Bad customer service really stinks and something smells rotten in Denmark (and most other places).
19. Exponential population growth is destroying our planet. We need a plague or a plan.
20. If you can’t enjoy the moment, then you’re entire life is fucked.
21. Boredom is for the weak minded. Life and people provide too much fodder for story telling.
22. Change politics. Every incumbent in the western world is corrupt.
23. Be kind, and know your enemies.
24. Be funny. Life is too important to be taken seriously.
25. Question everything – for most of it is made up by another human just like you.
26. Read, Read, Read! For God’s sake man! Read more books and articles than you write.
27. If you have a dream go for it even though you probably will fail. Remember it’s the journey that matters, and failures are stepping stones to success.
28. Human beings are hypocrites. Nature has integrity.
29. Stop coddling children. Grimm’s Fairy Tales are awfully scary. Not everyone is a winner. In fact, nobody escapes life unscathed or alive. The children of today will be the same scarred, imperfect humans we are.
30. Strive to be childlike not childish.
31. Mom and Dad did the best they could do with what they were given, and chances are they fucked up, but after 40, that’s no longer an acceptable excuse for anything.
32. Mainstream schooling is an outdated construct and a wretched failure. If you have children, home school them if you want them to learn anything of value.
33. Be accepting of things you cannot change. Change the things you can.
34. Charity begins at home.
35. Move your body. It is good for the soul. Dance alone in the rain and sing loudly.
36. Volunteer your time. It’s worth more than money or gifts because nobody else wants to do it.
37. Get worked up over little things, medium things, big things. There is too much apathy in our world.
38. Do what you can. Even small steps make a difference. Don’t hoard.
39. Although this life is one of many and the universe is more than our petty minds can fathom, go forth in this focus as though you’ve got one shot.
40. Be interesting so that somebody else wants to listen to you. Perhaps someone will stand on your shoulders one day. Maybe one day we will fold space and time to prove there is more in Heaven and Earth than was dreamt of in our stone age philosophy.
In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU for short, babies like my son are called “25-weekers.” Babies get this name from being born extremely prematurely, at only 25 weeks gestation. My son was born weighing only one pound, four ounces in the middle of August 2015.
For 147 days, Joel lived in the NICU of two hospitals (Alta Bates in Berkeley and Children’s Hospital of Oakland (CHOO)), and I did too.
He required three blood transfusions. He endured intubation and a feeding line. He was poked by needles and prodded and invaded in his tiny isolette. So that his head wouldn’t be shaped like a toaster, as one nurse described it, he was turned every three hours in a world he wasn’t supposed to meet for another three months.
The nurses and doctors knew challenges were ahead. People who care for high-risk infants are well aware that premature babies face a mountain of health issues and developmental delays. Some go blind or deaf. But, not my son! I denied any possibility that he wasn’t going to grow up with a perfectly normal childhood to become the all-star captain of the football team and prom king. He still may be all of these things, but the nurses and doctors were right. His start was not smooth sailing, but I wasn’t ready to deal with what was coming next. I was so overwhelmed in the moment.
Living in a NICU is an emotional roller coaster. The first time I held my son skin-to-skin, the nurses had to do a dance with the tubes and wires just to lay him on my chest. Feeling him next to me was the happiest moment of my life. Minutes later he was ripped from me. His saturation was dropping. He was unable to breath. What followed was a real scene that looked familiar. I had watched dramas like this on shows like ER. Everyone on-call raced into our room. People pulled me out of it—I stood and watched through the doorway dazed, crying and in disbelief that my baby was dying in front of my eyes. The happiest moment of my life quickly turned into one of the worst. The medical director had to be called to re-intubate my son. After several attempts, he got the almost microscopic tube into the airway. My son stabilized. I had climbed and sped down that first hill on the coaster ride which was to come.
In a NICU, life and death are so close at hand. There is nothing normal about this environment. I cannot fathom how someone works there every day. My admiration for NICU nurses and doctors is too profound for words. At the very least, they are my heroes. They smiled for me through the harsh sterile smell of the soap, the meticulous record keeping, and my tears, feelings of guilt, shame, tiredness, confusion, anger, sadness, and all of my hopes and fears. Maybe they’re used to it. Every parent in the NICU is in emotional turmoil. I watched as some struggled with diagnoses they weren’t prepared to hear. I got choked up upon hearing that some mothers leave their babies there because the outside world with all its addictions, hustles and other terrible things calls to them; especially after the trauma of having a baby admitted to a NICU. I talked with some couples who couldn’t wait to go home, but had to wait until their babies didn’t de-sat for six minutes. I witnessed the nurses and parents of a baby mourn its death. I sat glued to the monitors so often that some nurses turned them away from me; trying to teach me to look at my son and the signs of desaturation his little body would show.
As months passed, I slowly came to terms with the fact that I was a new and first-time Mom at 44, with nothing but God, hope and a very sick baby. I had no home, no money, no assets, no car, no family, no friends, no nothing. I literally was starting from zero. The hospitals got the ball rolling because they need to get paid. Social workers applied for MediCal, and I got the aid that is wrapped in with this application. I also got referrals to the Regional Center of East Bay (RCEB). Assessments followed. My son qualified for all services: PT, OT, Speech and Early Intervention.
We lived in shelters and all over really: Oakland, Hayward, Brentwood, Pittsburg, Sacramento, LA and even a truck for a couple of nights. A year ago, we got “housed,” as it is called—through a project-based voucher at a decommissioned navy base that is being repurposed as housing for homeless people. As much as we moved around before getting the apartment, I did my best to stay in Alameda County. This is the place where our lives were saved. This was our new home.
Meeting the RCEB was empowering. My son’s therapy was nothing that I could have ever expected, which was to drive to a dingy office somewhere, leaf through an outdated Cosmo and sit in an uncomfortable chair as he would be ushered elsewhere while I waited for him to finish.
Caring about how I was doing?
Listening to my struggles?
This is EI?
At first I thought, this is some California, granola feel-good hooey. One day, they’ll discover I am on MediCal and the real therapy will begin—back to that dingy office with outdated magazines and uncomfortable chairs. But, that never happened. I met Program Managers who advocated for me, and some of my son’s therapists have become friends. These people catalyzed my return to confidence because they were on my side—on our side—on my new family’s side. I accepted that they really did care for me because I mattered as much as my son—because I am who my son has primarily.
Because of the work my son has done he is at parity with his peers on cognitive abilities. He sings and dances. He laughs and he cries. I love to hear his cry. For so long, he couldn’t cry. He could only breathe. He is three now, and he has come so far from being a fragile “25-weeker,” that I dare say he can now be called a poster child for the immense benefits of early intervention.
When did beauty and sex appeal become intertwined?
It has been my experience that the two things do not go hand-in-hand, yet they usually are spoken about as if they were. I think about Jean Harlow, Mae West, Mick Jagger, Denis Leary who are all very sexy indeed, but not classically beautiful. Sometimes the disconnect between society’s definition of beauty and what is happening between one’s legs is explained in utter disbelief. I would have more money for my laundry than I do if I had a nickel for every time I heard one of these phrases when a man couldn’t stop touching me or wanting to fuck me:
“Baby you are damn sexy.”
“It’s not one thing—you’ve got the whole package.”
“It’s your mind darling…Your mind is what turns me on.”
“It’s the connection I feel when I’m with you.”
Being the insecure cunt that I am, I usually ask men for further clarity in a bat-your-eyelashes kind of Sally Field ‘You like me, you really like me’ kind of way. “What do you like about me specifically though?” I unabashedly probe.
Inevitably, he sighs before grabbing my ass, tits or voraciously kissing my neck before explaining that my 43-year-old, overweight 5’4” frame is made of flesh he just cannot get enough of. Then, I am held up in great esteem as the superior choice when compared to a model he shared his bed with the other week, the stripper he watched dance that night, or a young bartender with a perfect body that failed to keep his interest for very long.
“She just had nothing to say,” he explains.
I want to quip, “You cared about what she had to say?”
But, I hold back. Sarcasm and sheepish ego-satiating questions are like oil and water.
At first, I was sure every man was lying to me—assuaging my ego—telling me I was hot enough to fuck without blatantly lying, so that I would let my inhibitions down and he could do what he pleased, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. There have been too many unrelated instances of men telling me the same exact thing for this tactic to be the truth and the truth to be fiction. With these examples, and my understanding of quantitative studies—that is when reproducible results in two or more experiments creates validity—leads me to think the guys were and are telling the truth. I may not be Cosmopolitan material, but it seems most of my casual encounters result in an erection and a man who is not content with wham, bam thank you Mam. I usually am called the next day or so. He wants me. He misses me and wants to see more of me though sometimes he is unable to articulate why.
I think about my attraction to David Bowie as a teenager. By no stretch of the imagination was he the hottest rock start in the 80’s. He was not the epitome of a beautiful man, and yet the way he moved, his odd lyrics that spoke to my soul and his confidence despite the awkwardness made my fingers and toes tingle. Just thinking about the men I’ve been attracted to–famous and personally–who would never be Calvin Klein’s choice for underwear model still can get my panties in a bunch. The way my first love bit his bottom lip and ran his sterling silver ringed fingers through his thick dark auburn hair is one of the sexiest images I can muster, but he was not beautiful. The untouchable and deeply sad eyes of a young man I could only look at from afar in college haunts me to this day—sexy, but not beautiful. The lawn mower guy with a thick head of dark brown hair, green eyes and disinterest in me was more sexy than beautiful – though he was both as a young man.
As I get older, the text of a frustrated love interest is sexy to me. “Okay you win-I happen to miss you probably more than you miss me. Call me,” it vibes and reads. He doesn’t want to like me at all, but he can’t help it, and he admits it. It’s funny and real and that’s sexy. He likes when we read together and talk about math and science. He even likes my obstinacy and absolute insistence that I do things my way. The last thing he wants to do is let me in, but he does.
I think most men love and hate that I cannot be controlled or held down. I have a mind of my own and it drives them crazy. They like my passion and how I move. My honesty takes some aback. They try to unravel how I can be vulnerable and pissed off that I am vulnerable at the same time. Is it the mystery they find sexy?
It may be rare when beauty and sex appeal mingle, but when it does it makes for superstar fireworks that we usually only see in movies: Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Grace Kelly, Robert Redford, Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise, Melanie Griffith, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and I’m sure you have your own favorites. Still, none could hold a candle to David Bowie for me when I was 18. It’s the whole package baby—the whole package. Now that I think about it some more, I might go so far as to say that sex appeal and beauty are like time’s arrow moving in one direction. In that phallic arrow, sex appeal can become beautiful, but beauty alone can never become sex appeal. There is just no makeover for that one now is there?
I suppose it all started when I decided to become a unicorn, which is a mythical creature that doesn’t exist except in the dreams of the middle class voyeurs of weekend erotica. My demands for my individuality drove my husband to the brink of insanity. His jealousy caused him, my sister and his (my matron of honor and self-proclaimed BFF) to try and 5150 me, which I learned without having to experience the act of being committed, is an attempt to declare me insane. Imagine that! A woman in 2014 who creates a virtual identity for her sexuality is a danger to herself or others.
When the police were called because I threw a wine glass at the wall, I grabbed whatever I could from the run down hotel room where all of this freedom was to begin and ran to hide. I knew I looked like the insane woman they claimed I was, for I had grabbed a shower curtain that had been packed up, a few books, my computer, of course, and my Birkenstocks. I had been betrayed by everyone I thought cared for me. It was not the first time I would fall to my knees that month and cry to God. “What the Hell am I supposed to be learning?” I cried it again and again. The crazy woman who collects cans for a living and channels the Dali Lama grabbed me and pulled me aside when I was hysterical. She told me that I’m not supposed to be in control. “Let it go…” she laughed at me. “Just let it all go…” Her hand flitted the words into the wind. But, how was I supposed to let it all go? I had my dogs, no job, no money, no direction, and I knew nobody who would help me. The universe was about to give me my first lesson.
The events that were to unfold from that night are stranger than fiction. Suffice it to say, I am writing this post from an apartment of an ex Israeli soldier who is a French chef and lover of Fellini and Kurosawa films. He drove two hours to pick me up in his Range Rover with no promises of anything. He cooked me dinner. He wanted to hold my hand and listen to opera with me. He is a poet and apparently a very load snorer. He has left me alone here to write. He has fallen asleep in his bed and I could rob him blind, but I won’t, for the universe gives me everything I need when I need it. I am in awe, and I am still learning. I’m still insistent on a few things.
I want to keep my dogs. I made a promise to them-the only living things to stand by me no matter what, so I won’t just drop them at a shelter to save my skin, or to be put in some shelter prison. This insistence has been met with outrage and disbelief. Still, they are fat, happy, sleeping soundly and were just groomed yesterday. Since I’ve been “in transition,” the eccentric name for homeless, my dogs and I are in better shape than we’ve been in years. How fucking funny.
I started with three dogs. A man I am fairly sure is a non-violent kind of crazy fell in love with one of them, Gracie, and kept her. I know she is safe with him, as they drive to Scottsdale Arizona in his BMW. She finally has the one owner who will love her like the princess she is. He told me that he was saving her from me, and I believed him. She needs him as he needs her. He will be her forever home. I still have my 11 year old Shepherd Husky, Jake and my little bitch of a min-pin, Bella. She is irreverent, intolerant, watchful, loyal and just like me, her attitude betrays her size. I have six bags of stuff-mostly clothes, this computer and my music. I still have no car, no job, no desire to work for another asshole ever again, but it seems I have everything I need. I do have the ability to write and post ads on Craig’s List, like my most recent ad, which reads as follows:
Any decent men?
Single female needs decent place to stay for about a month. I need to get my life in order without someone calling me names, or stealing from me. Are there any decent people out there? I can cook, clean and I have other skills too.
Join me on my adventure in LA. Fasten your seatbelts. I have a feeling it is going to be a bumpy ride.
There is no inherent trade-off between profitability and destruction except from our own design. The industrial age is over, but in its place is the power of connection, which waits to be unleashed fully. Comprised of individuals, our collective work has more power than we could have possibly imagined.
Mayberry Amidst Mayhem.
A personal experience of having friends live and die on Facebook