Thursday, September 29, 2016

Someone I used to know

Here is the story.

I think I may have been in the 1st grade.  Back then, children who were young for their grade did not have to wait a whole year, there were half grades.  I didn't know Kim that well because she was a half grade behind and had just moved up from Kindergarten in the middle of the year.  Long blond hair and incredibly pretty, but I didn't really know her.

When she came to the bus stop that morning, she was crying.  Of course, the girls gathered around to ask her what was wrong.  She said that couldn't get her mother to wake up that morning, and that her mother was dead.

She must be lying, just to get attention, right?  They wouldn't send her to school if her mother was dead.

You probably guessed, her mother was dead.  Her parents had gone out drinking the night before and got in an accident.  They made it home, but she was more injured than they knew and she didn't wake up the next morning.  It took me a long time to understand the complexities of adult life that would decide that the best thing to do was take Kim out of what was likely to be a messy process and send her on to school.

That was about the time that my dad had finished remodeling our house, and started his home repair business.  For a number of years he did everything from handyman type jobs to room additions, mostly in Pacific Palisades and Malibu.  Yeah, that Malibu.  Kim's dad was a painter, so my dad started hiring him for some of the jobs.

Kim's house was about 3/4th's of the way on that mile long walk straight up hill to the bus stop.  On the days Kim's dad worked, I would get a ride while my dad picked him up, then walk the rest of the way with Kim.  She would also walk home that far with me in the afternoon.

Her dad didn't work with my dad for very long.  My dad said he was unreliable because of his drinking.  It was years before I realized how ironic this was.  But my dad was a pretty functional alcoholic, with his pint of vodka under the truck seat and his cooler of beer on the job site.  But he was harsh on men like Kim's dad - bar drunks, who couldn't get up in the morning.  Drunks who would hurt people they loved.

My dad had no clue how much he hurt me, how often he scared me, how crushed and broken I was by his verbal attacks and unpredictable temper.  He had no clue that I would spend the rest of my life, whenever things were going well, with the sense of dread that everything is about to go horribly wrong.

So, I walked with Kim and felt sorry for Kim, but she never felt sorry for herself. She had her grandpa, "Pop Pop", and horses. Her home may have had a certain amount of chaos, but it also had a really sturdy foundation of love.

A few years later they moved to the other end of the canyon and we didn't hang out together anymore.  Our interests, friends, and half-year grade difference kept us going our separate ways.  Then the flood happened and we moved far away.

But I thought of her over the years.  I thought of her as I went through the chaos of my dad's disintegration.  I thought of her sometimes as I went through some healing processes from that and other trauma.  I hoped she was doing well.

You can criticize social media all you want, but I am thankful for Facebook.  It has gotten me back in touch or gotten me word on people I never thought I would hear from again.  A few years ago, through a group for kids who grew up where we grew up, we reconnected.  We still didn't have much in common, but I was glad to know she was happy, still had horses, and had a good family life.

Today, There was a post on Facebook that she has passed away.  It didn't give any details, but it isn't really important.  Like I said, we weren't really that close.
But tears came to my eyes: sadness, gratitude that I was able to know, regret that I didn't have a chance to visit with her in person at least once.  I also can't help but feel the tears were a bit selfish, it is always hard to hear that a kid you grew up with is gone.  Kind of draws you up short and says "pay attention."

And I don't know her family or friends, good chance I won't be able to make it to the memorial.  But I wanted to tell that piece of her story that I held in my heart. It is also a piece of my story, and now I am done.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Old memory, new thoughts.

I was thinking about a long ago friend today.  I really only knew him for a few months, but it was during an intense time in my life.

The summer I turned 20 I was living outside the back gate of Eglan AFB in the panhandle of Florida.  My 1st husband was in the Air Force, my baby boy was going on 2, and I was angry.  Very angry.

My husband had decided he needed more fun in his life, and had moved out to find it.  In desperation, I complained to his commanding officer and he was forced to move move me in with his newfound room mate and go to counseling with a base chaplain.  I won't go into all the gory details of the things I did to try to get even with my husband, and the story of singing with the chapel choir at the Vietnamese refugee camp is a story for another day.

Anyway, he ended up being required to live on base while I was renting a crap apartment and working as a topless cocktail waitress just outside the back fence of the base.  And I was introduced to this gay guy that lived in a falling down house near by.  He became my son's babysitter, and my friend.

This may seem unlikely, but we really had a lot in common.  We both were in difficult life situations because of overbearing and controlling fathers.  I was the blacksheep for getting knocked up and was forced into a marriage I really knew was not a good idea.  He was the blacksheep for being gay and a druggy, way more drugs than my meager experiments.  Turns out that when you are raised by a bipolar alcoholic, control issues can take a lot of the fun out of getting high or drunk.

So, I have this strange memory of us sitting and talking about our lives for hours.  I don't know when we had time, I had a lot of other things going on.  Maybe it was just that we clicked, and we shared so intensely it just felt like hours.  He had this big question that haunted him, was he really gay or was it just a way to really hurt his high level Air Force officer father?  He was also shocked that I had never tried cocaine.  So he proposed an experiment.

Now, I know what you are going to say, it was all a scheme.  I have tried to explain bits of this story to a few friends in the past, and that is about as far as it gets, that it was just his game.  But really, it wasn't like that.  We were really friends.  But the idea was that he would get us some cocaine so I could try it, and he knew how it affected him, so we could try it out and see if he was really gay.

This was the mid '70's and I was having anger one night stands several times a week.  This was really not that big a deal.

So, yes, he really was gay, and I hope I put his mind at rest.  Before the end of the year I was back in Orlando, working as an erotic dancer.

I wish I could remember his name, I can sure remember his face.  I hope he is out there somewhere tonight, settled somewhere nice with the love of his life, happy. But that was the '70's, we had no idea that there was this virus waiting to pounce just a decade later.

And here's the thing, I'm happy for my LGBTQ friends who have more freedom to love who they love. I've been getting to know a whole range of people in their 20's, even 30's, who grew up without as much angst about sexuality.  I know it isn't across the board, and a lot of it probably has to do with living in California, but they are just so so aware and so accepting of whatever relationships work best for themselves and their friends.

Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been different if I had had those same understandings, those same freedoms.  I feel like my days of being able to experiment and try out new things over; the opportunities just aren't there.  There are questions that will most likely go unanswered for me; questions I didn't  even know how to ask at the time.

I hope that this freedom only continues to grow.  People need to be able to be themselves.

Friday, September 16, 2016

rusty hamster wheel

Warning; I'm about to be real honest about something that may be hard to hear.

It is no secret that I am fat.

There are a lot of things you can be and keep it a secret, but being fat isn't one of them.

I understand things about why I am fat that people don't like to hear; genetics, depression, and the slow suicide of not caring.  And I am a product of my society. I know fat makes me ugly and undesirable.  There have been times in my life that being undesirable have made me feel safe.

Now it makes me sad.

I am also enough of a product of my society that being older makes me feel ugly and undesirable.

Sometimes I think I would like to have another relationship; to once more feel the quickening of my pulse, to share gentle caresses, to...

But I'm fat and old and ugly and hideous and no one could possibly be attracted to me.

And if someone showed interest, I would think they were either some kind of pervert or trying to get something from me, and as I don't have anything worth anything, it is back to them being some kind of pervert.

And so here is the thought that runs across my mind from time to time.  Because I pre-reject myself do I put out vibes that are guaranteed to repel any interest in my based on, say, my sparkling wit or easy laughter.  Or just my kindness.

Because you don't have to tell me, unless you just can't help yourself, I know I am an intelligent, creative, kind person.  I am not hard to please, and I am near great in ways you will probably know.  Because I also have a broken truster and it is really hard for me to let people get close enough to know.

And it makes me sad.

It is a vicious circle.  It is a rusty hamster wheel of a circle squeaking in my brain.

Because there is a part inside of my that still feels desire, that still wants and dreams and sometimes feels attraction, knowing the whole time that it is surely impossibly out of my reach.

And I try to cheer myself up and give myself pep talks and say "you never know"
but I know.

And now you know that I know. So you can stop wondering.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

While I'm at it, food podcasts I like

Another well represented subset of podcasts I enjoy are centered on the subject of cooking and eating.  Like yesterday's post, please to share if you have a favorite I have missed.  I am just going to talk about these in the order they show up in my feed, so alphabetically.  I'm not going to post links, as I believe they are all very easily searchable.

America's Test Kitchen Radio
I listen to many podcasts that are also radio programs. I love having this ability to hear these shows on my schedule.  America's Test Kitchen is probably known to many home cooks, more likely as a TV show.  I really don't know what I like the best about this show, the taste comparisons, the product and gadget reviews, or reports on food trends.  This and more is all presented by interesting and personable hosts. Sometimes there are repeats of segments or whole shows, but that is true of many of these more professionally produced podcasts.  Still, this is usually the one I listen to first on Monday mornings, and it helps get my work week started right.

Fork Report
This is a local radio show that airs on Saturdays on KFI.  Neil Saavedra (sp?) has been a long time producer and sometimes host on the station, and I have enjoyed his work for many years.  I also sometimes like to listen to The Jesus Christ Show that he does on Sunday mornings, but only in bits and pieces, now and then. He is a little too orthodox for me.  This food show, however, is a favorite. He offers hints, food news, and cooking ideas like the other podcasts.  In addition, he talks about local restaurants and food related events.  He often has guests from the SoCal area bring in food and drink which he samples and comments on during the show.  There are occasional remote broadcasts as well. It should be mentioned that Neil is a big Disneyland fan and an annual passholder, so he includes the culinary news from the happiest place on earth.

KCRW's Good Food
This podcast covers some of the same news as the other ones I listen to.  It also talks about some of the same events and local eateries as the Fork Report.  What distinguishes this one for me is, first, it's focus on stories of global changes and our food supply and, second, on local and sustainable food.  I enjoy that they include a weekly trip to the Santa Monica farmers market and often talk with local chefs and vendors about what is in season and how to use it.

The Splendid Table
This podcast from America Public Media is hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper, of the beautiful, full, fruity voice.  Some ot the stories are the same, some of the guests are the same as are likely to show up on the other two public radio shows I have mentioned.  I think she does more call in questions, and she has a wider, even international, audience.  There are two particular segments I really enjoy that are unique to this show.  One is almost every week, Road Food with Jane and Michel Stern.  They have their own website, and have been traveling the highways and byways of America for years, eating in every out of the way place you can imagine.  I love to hear their take on regional specialties, and if I ever get to take a major (or even a minor) road trip, I will be looking at their website for places to try.  The other less frequent segment is when Lynne plays Stump the Cook with a call in audience member.  They tell her some ingredients they have, and she can add a few more, but only if they actually have them, and then she describes what she would make with them.  Often she will have a guest foodie as well as the audience member commenting on her idea and then if they say they would consider cooking and eating it, Lynne wins, cheers all around.  This suits my way of cooking; not "here's a recipe, go get the ingredients" but "this was on sale, what can I do with it."

So there you go, hope that makes for some tasty listening.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Some podcasts I have been meaning to mention

When I first walked away from the Sunday Club I used to attend, I thought I would find another club.  But every time I thought to visit another one, I felt sick to my stomach (can you say PTSD?).  Then I got this incredibly boring and repetitive job and discovered the wonderful world of podcasts.  Today I want to talk about three, in particular, that helped me walk though this changing time in my life.

The first one I found was the Into the Wild Podcast.
Darin Hufford was just as angry and fed up as I was.  Eventually he went through changes and I went through changes.  I don't listen anymore, but I won't say anything against it.  I don't highly recommend it anymore either, but I need to mention it, because it was what I needed for a time.

Because of mentions on Into the Wild, I discovered The God Journey.
Wayne Jacobson and Brad Cummings have talked though a lot of ideas and seasons over the years I have been listening.  They talk honestly about getting to know a God who really loves us, without all the religious expectations.  I hesitate to say too much about who they are, what they have done, and what they are known for.  If you choose to listen a bit, I would like to to not come with too many presuppositions.  But, in case you were wondering one way or the other, they do come from a Christ centered place, but without a lot of the uptight BS, just a lot of freedom and love.

There used to be a God Journey Forum that I participated on for a time.  Because of some of the interactions there, I met a few people that I only know online, on Facebook now, but who I truly treasure.  Everytime, I think I have gotten everything from this conversation that I can, something new starts unfolding for me.  It truly is a part of my ongoing journey.

Another podcast that had a good long season with me, but has somewhat fallen to my way side is Beyond the Box.
If you are interested in unpacking some complicated theology, especially about ultimate reconciliation and non-violence, then I would recommend that you listen through  some of the older episodes.

If you have been reading this blog or my other one, ( ) then you know that my spiritual journey is ongoing and not exactly inside the walls.  This being said, if you know of a podcast that you think might interest me, please do let me know.  I'm still working that boring, repetitive job.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Last Thoughts?

Jesus once said this thing, no I'm not going to go look it up and quote chapter and verse, but it was about letting today's trouble be enough for today, don't worry about tomorrow.  We never know what is going to happen tomorrow.  Truth be told, we barely know what is going to happen with our next breath.

You never know when the conversation you are having with someone is going to be the last time you ever see them.  But we can't run around saying goodbye like it's the last time.

And so I fight a mighty battle.  Against myself.

I feel how I move slower than I used to, and more things hurt.  I hate that I am more sensitive to temperature extremes, bad air, and strange foods.  I don't stand up well from low places.  I am just not as bendy.  And I don't see any of this getting better.

But that doesn't mean I need to give up.

For example, I have started really working at poetry again.  It feels deeper and more meaningful than ever before in my life.  But every single stupid time I stand up and share it, I fight the battle.  I'm too old, I'm irrelevant.  What do you think, old lady, that you can get pack the years?  But the years are what I have, that is where the meaning comes from.

And I also find myself battling this idea, was that the last time and I didn't know it?  Will this be the last time?

Was that the last time I will ever be loved?

Was that the last time I will ever go to Disneyland?

When I go on this next camping trip, will this be the last one?

And the hard part is, some of these things might be true.  But I need to now worry about it.  I need to let today's troubles be enough for today.

Years ago, a friend of mine put it another way.  "Most people have one foot in yesterday and one in tomorrow, pissing all over today."

So, today I have been resting a bit, laughing a bit, thinking a bit.  Babies smiled at me, I did some sewing.  I wrote the first draft on a poem.

And tomorrow?  Tomorrow will come with its own worries, I'm sure.