Thursday, November 3, 2016

Sadness

I’m sitting here with an overwhelming sense of sorrow. It’s a rich, deep melancholy that fills my chest and tightens my throat. It’s a physical weight that twists my gut and stings my eyes. It is not something of which I am familiar.

I have no real justification for feeling so despondent. I have not had a personal tragedy, nor is my health threatened and all my loved ones are accounted for.

So I take inventory:

Cheyanne just broke her leg. Perhaps that is it. The uncertainty of where this latest injury will drive her journey in life, even temporarily, weighs on me.

Or maybe it’s residual from the stress when my entire family (save for my brother) was threatened by Hurricane Matthew. Though their persons are all safe, whole and intact, their homes, yards and towns were not so lucky. And though a beach house that holds a special place in my heart was spared for the most part, the beautiful dunes it lived among are flattened. The sight of the expanse of sand where there once was life feels final and restoration seems futile. Rebuilding is a monstrous task. Perhaps that is enough to justify my sorrow.

Or it could be that too frequently I must stand by and watch my wee Dia bounce between complete wellness one hour and writhing in pain crying out in pleas of desperation the next. She drops precious weight and my mind races with worst case scenarios, yet I can do nothing but encourage her to carry on.

That could be why. It would be justifiable, I’d imagine, if it was - but that is not why. Not entirely, anyway. Ultimately? It’s futility. This feeling of absolute futility. I feel … helpless. Powerless.

“Take back your power.” I just said those words to Cheyanne in my attempt to offer her strength and support but more likely in a subconscious moment of brilliant projection: “Take.back.your.power.”

But what power do I have to reclaim? I am one person. One not particularly charismatic, rather awkward person who has no influence, no following, no voice. Indeed, this very post will be read by people who know me and likely agree with my views. At best, I may reach a few who lovingly ‘agree to disagree.’

You see, I lied. I do know ‘why.’ I’ve known for some time now. At the root of my despair is the witnessing of a people I never thought I’d live to see again. A history I naively believed was behind us as a nation is undeniably beginning to repeat itself. The progress I proudly watched being made, bit-by-bit on the backs and bloodshed of those long gone is seemingly hellbent upon being undone very, very soon.

Racism. Back with a vengeance.

And we are voting it into office – the highest office in our country.

Oh, I know… you are just picking between the “best of two evils.” I’ve heard it all. I hear you begrudgingly admitting you will vote for that certain candidate knowing his views, knowing the worst of his followers, knowing his influence BUT… BUT your religious convictions, BUT your hatred for the other candidate, BUT you are concerned about your pocketbook… The BUTs outweigh your disdain for his disregard of the most human of beings.

BUT that is what ‘they’ are, you know: They are Human Beings. Whether to you ‘they’ are The Blacks or The Gays or The Muslims or The Refugees or The Mexicans or The Disabled or The Women, THEY are human and their lives are about to be turned upside down, if they are not already.

I could cite recent events to prove my point – nooses being thrown over students at schools in the South, racial epithets being hurled like it’s 1964, the overt sexualization of women, churches burning, the KKK’s renewed public activity…  but this is an emotional post, it isn’t meant to be a paper. It’s not even meant to be a political statement. It’s merely me trying to get through this feeling of powerlessness, watching my faith in humanity drain out of me and praying that Tuesday will relieve my concerns and lift this weight off me so we can go about the work of undoing what this man has already managed to do. Rebuilding is a monstrous task, yes, but we can put it back again – even better maybe – if we can hold back the storm from causing further damage.

So here I am, taking back what little power I have. Take this as encouragement to carry on. I know it hurts, but when it is all said and done I will be here and I will stoop with you to pick up all the broken pieces and put us together again. 

Even if you broke it.


 “History is not just facts and events. History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another’s pain in the heart our own.”

-kec

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Far Left



I have an amazing deck in my backyard.  You’d probably gasp if you knew what I paid to have that built. I had to have the feet sunk deep in concrete because it’s on the hill. I had to buy a slide that wasn’t a standard in height or color. It had to be that height and color to come off the deck and hide in the tree just so. Now, in its second summer, it peeks out from behind a great California Pepper tree and hides its inhabitants from the rest of the world.

There’s a hopscotch path that leads to the deck on one side. It actually leads to a path to the deck - a curving, almost hidden path with hand holds on the side in case going up or down is ever an issue. A beautiful honeysuckle-covered archway marks where the hopscotch path begins, and to the right of that is a pagoda-shaped shaded sand box filled with beach sand of the most amazing texture. Scattered among all these paths are messages welcoming angels and fairies and friends. There are impatiens planted around a crab apple tree and blue-blooming flowers on a bush I can never remember the name of, and in the spring the magnificence of it all is astounding. It’s a true fairy garden.

On the far side from the fairy garden is another path up the hill. This one is rigged with a rope along the fence to help with the climbing. There’s a secret path to the deck from here. It’s small – too small for me, but completely accessible for the wee one that slips quietly through. There are stairs built now too. They lead up to a terraced garden – but not on that side. No, the far left - against the fence - is reserved for mountain climbing and ‘search and rescue’ and all sorts of adventures that have been had and many that have not yet even been imagined. 

There’s not one day that goes by that she doesn’t visit some part of her magical world. As I watch her traipse in and out of view, her lips moving inaudibly playing out the script she’s written where she’s a super hero or a fairy or a shark… I realize this backyard – this house - so far out here and isolated and so much too dear for my current state of finances… This house, this backyard… gives her a childhood that someday she may not take for granted. Or maybe she always will… but …it gives her a childhood.

And you see, with this one. . . That may be all she’s got.

Perhaps that is true with all of us. Perhaps whatever we have of life, whether it be 100 years or 30 or 10, it’s only as wonderful as we let it be. And perhaps I’m foolish in thinking that spending money I don’t really have to give a child a bigger life than the doctors predict, will give her a bigger life. After all, they say ‘30’ and a lot happens in 20 years. (So much happens in 20 years.) But, is there a place I can conjure up where I’d regret giving her a world where fairies live and magic happens? Is there a life too long where that could ever be a regret? Of course not.

So I will. 

I will stoke the magic and the fantasy. I will encourage the buds and fruit to bloom. I will help bend the branches to hide us from the world. We. We will travel and explore and hug and kiss and draw and create and love. We. We will hope and support and nurture. And we will do this no matter what the rest of the world does. While its inhabitants hide behind its paranoia and fear and want for weapons and hate and blame and ugliness against the unknown. We? We will battle on facing our very real foe. We will take up no weapons but love and we will engage no soldiers save our own resolve but we will be truer and braver and we will live more.  


Sunday, March 13, 2016

#SupportiveSpring

Ah...spring. Who doesn't love it? The world comes alive again. Bulbs prove their hidden existence pushing their color through frozen soil, the hillsides dress in bright inviting shades of green and the days grow longer and brighter. We find ourselves smiling, feeling hopeful and carefree.

It's an especially special time for us women. We look forward to wearing that favorite summer frock, those sleeveless tanks and our shortest of shorts and, of course, our favorite teeny bikinis. So what time is it girls? Time to brush off those diet and exercise programs and get motivated. This year we are going to get that perfect BEACH BODY! 

So, who's with me? Let's all start our green tea cleanse and reward our efforts with the sweet dessert of 75 burpees and 1000 russian twists!

I bet we can get into April before we start having recurring dreams of murdering our husbands for a bag of Doritos. I've got confidence that we can get through tax day before we throw a hand weight through our plasma screen over a Carl's Jr. ad.

OK, no. Let's get real (and screw these women and their photoshopped perfect bodies).

I have a real women's challenge to propose. How about this - how about starting right now we support each other every single day until the first day of summer. Let us go into summer with a BEACH SOUL. 

So here's how my #SupportiveSpring challenge goes:
  1. Declare your commitment to the challenge on Facebook! Use the SupportiveSpring hashtag so we can search for it.
  2. Every day do something. Yup. SOMEthing.
  3. Every day share what you did on FB (with the hashtag again)
  4. Whenever you see someone post what they did, be sure to comment or like their accomplishment. 
The hard part of all this is Step 2 above. Every day you have to do something. Here are some examples:
I ran a marathon.
I did some yoga.
I parked 3 spaces down from an open parking space to walk the 10 extra steps.
I only smoked 5 cigarettes today.
I stopped before I ate the entire bag of chips.
I purposely got out of bed.

Got it? If not, watch my Facebook for my daily 'dones.' Today will be better than others because I kind of 'did' stuff, but don't worry - I'll have days where "didn't kill the cat" will be my greatest accomplishment.

WHO IS WITH ME!?? #SupportiveSpring








Monday, February 22, 2016

I am the Threat

While everyone goes on about their business, posting selfies, funny memes and chatting about how big of a douche Kanye is, 6 people abruptly left this earth. They were simply random victims of a random act of violence in a tiny town in Michigan. You know... shit happens.

At this point we're all so worn out by the repeated fodder for gun violence conversations that we're not going to bother addressing this one on Facebook because - shit - who wants to open that can of worms? I mean ... how tired are we all at this point? How many times can we post the words 'enough already' before their very posting is  enough already. Besides, I can already predict the responses. I could pre-populate the replies:

"It's our constitutional right to bear arms!"

"Guns don't kill people, people kill people!"

"Those Liberals are constantly threatening our freedoms. They are the real threat!"

That one is my favorite. 

No, but seriously, it is my favorite. You see, I am the threat. I'm the one threatening your lifestyle.

But the dude with a gun. No, he's just fine.
They will all be missed.

Guess which one of us killed 6 people Saturday?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Some Friends Make Better Enemies

Today she came by to help me with my job search. I saw a position for Manager of Business Strategy at a company I admire. I was reading through the qualifications and requirements when she shot me down. "They want someone with good business intuition. Two out of your last two ventures didn't go very well, did they? I don't think you qualify."

I argued that if my advice had been followed, both of the projects would have done much better. "Sure, but you weren't respected enough to have your advice heeded, now were you? Why would you expect someone else will?"

With a sigh, I moved on. "OK, what about this Executive Assistant job?" I asked. "Surely I qualify for that!"

"Oh absolutely you would!" she gushed "You'd be over-qualified in fact. And bored. Plus you'd be tied to an unfulfilling job 9-5 Monday-Friday with a 2 hour commute. You'd see Dia on the weekends basically. You said you didn't want to fail as a mom."

She was right, I guess, but the word "fail"..? Ouch.

I gave myself a "just keep swimming" pep-talk and soldiered on. "Ah, look at this!" I said pointing to the listing. "A start-up that needs someone with my exact skill set. This is where I live, where I thrive, where I shine!!!" I was visibly thrilled. My heart began to warm up. I sat up straighter. This is exactly the kind of thing...

"Oh HELL no!"

"What?"

"Did you see the bio on the CEO?" she implored. "He's literally 20 years old. He's like a boy genius. And look at the other guys on the team. I think the oldest one there might be able to legally drink. They are not looking for a grandma to bake them cookies, for God's sake. They'll want some young, hot college student with enough skills to get by. This is Los Angeles, Katie. What are you thinking?"

Enough. That was what I was thinking: enough. "I'm getting burnt out on the job search." I said. "Wanna go for a run?"

She did (thank God), so we suited up and went out for a quick 3 miler. A few hundred feet into it, she asked if this was the pace we were going to keep for the whole time. "I dunno" I shrugged. "I just wanted to clear my head." Thankfully she said nothing more and stayed with me, but I had the sense she really wasn't pleased about it.

We had jogged about halfway when she asked "How old do you think Robin Wright is?" We both enjoy the series "House of Cards" so I thought nothing of it at first.

"I guess around 50. She plays 50 on House of Cards, right? Why?"

"She's your age, then. She's very natural looking - isn't she? Doesn't look like she's had any work done. And that body! She's had two kids, too. And when she runs on the show, it's a way faster pace than this."

There it was.

Well I don't like to talk when I run and, besides, where would I begin? I tried to pick up the pace.

On the way up the hill with the sun in our eyes, she looked at me and asked "Why do you make that face?"

"Huh? Oh..." realizing my eyes were scrunched up and my lip was raised in a bit of a sneer. "Sun's...in ...my... eyes" I panted. "and the ...hill... is... challeng...ing."

"What do you think drivers passing you think? Do you suppose they think you're this ugly all the time? Or maybe they think you are just so out of shape that you are practically dying?"

I countered - while gasping for air - that I probably was too middle-aged and plain for any driver to bother checking me out enough to notice my sneer. "You are probably right" she said.

When we finally got home, she looked at her watch. "That was one of the slower times for that run, huh?" "Probably" I responded. "I need a shower."

I was hoping she'd take the hint and suggest packing up, but instead she declared this the perfect time to jump on the scale and weigh in. "You first" she insisted.

I reluctantly plunked myself on the scale. Looking between my feet I saw the number glaring back at me larger than the time before. "Oooo" she cooed. "That's a gain, isn't it? What are you eating?"

I took inventory over the past few days' meals. It wasn't that bad and I told her that. "Maybe it's water" I said. "Or wine," she quipped. "Could be all that wine."

I really needed that shower.

"Dia will be home soon." I said. "I'm going to get in the shower. I assume you can show yourself out?"


"Oh sure" she said. "I'll come check on you later."

"I'll be here."

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Quest for Poopfection

I'm cheap. Well, let's call it 'frugal' shall we? So when I clean my birds' cage, I just use pages from a magazine I'd otherwise be tossing out. None of those fancy pre-cut, grit-infused scratch sheets for these parakeets. Recycle, re-use don't ya' know?

This task usually does not require a lot of brain power. Tear out pages, lay them on the bottom of the cage. Done.

Lately, however, I've been putting a lot more strategy into the arranging of said pages. It's getting more and more difficult to get it done these days.

Now, I'm not going for a Martha Stewart mosaic of bird crap, nor am I hoping for a featured photo in BirdHouse Beautiful. Plus, I'm fairly certain not one of my friends has ever examined the bottom of the bird cage much less gotten judgy on the editorials... BUT. I do try to mind the photos that face upward and I try to ensure that they are suitable to poop on in a house with an impressionable girl.

Our local "Inside SCV Magazine" is a perfect size for the bottom of this cage and, therefore, typically is my go-to. Plus it's shit anyway, so why not? Sure, I know there are a lot of "Want-New-Boobies?" ads and even articles, but Tetris was my game back in the day, so this rag can't beat me. Right? Right! Except with the latest issue, I ended up with about 1/4 inch more paper than required and it had to be strategically layered criss-cross style before I could get the top layer to NOT show an augmentation ad.

I'm not going to go off on a huge rant this time or connect the dots for everyone on how this very issue is why it's less likely that we'll elect a woman president in my daughter's lifetime than a raving lunatic with a chimp for a sidekick, but I will leave you with this:

Right now my birds are doing more for good for society than we are doing for ourselves. Poop on, dear little birds. Poop on!


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Too Close for Comfort

"Momma?"

Her voice was shaky, unsure, sounding much younger than her 30 years. I could feel her fear in my bones. It became my own.

I could picture her huddled in an airport bathroom with alarms sounding out in the corridor, afraid and uncertain.

Sitting in front of the computer, the phone to my ear, toggling between a half dozen webpages: the weather radar, 2 different tornado alerts, a map of Dallas, a map of the airport and Twitter - trying to find something that would prove her safety, I felt completely helpless. "She has to be safe. Keep her safe" I silently prayed.


Her texts during her brief stop in Dallas - one where she wasn't supposed to have even deplaned - went from a cheery banter ...

...into a terrifying reality.

















And then she called. We talked as they moved the passengers off the plane, into the terminal and eventually into an "Authorized Personnel Only" area in the lower part of the airport.

I was somewhat comforted being on the phone with her, but as the events unfolded and the situation became more and more dire, I began to panic a little. What if? What if I lose the connection? What if? What if the tornado hits and debris and devastation are raining down on her and I'm not there?

She can't be hurt. She can't be scared. I have to protect her.

But I couldn't. The best I could do was man the computer, stay on the phone and pray.

So I did. I reported each town the tornado hit as it traveled on its course of devastation. I obsessively watched the radar relaying to her how the storm, miraculously, was everywhere around the airport but never exactly there. "It doesn't hit there" I said. "It's south east of you and its moving north east. It's going to miss you!" I said. "But it touched down?" she asked "What about those people! Oh, Momma! Are they OK?"

Even in her own panic, she thought of others. Now I proudly reflect on what an angel of a heart she has, but at the moment it just tore at my soul. "She has to be safe. Keep her safe" I prayed again. "I cannot be talking to her for the last time, God. Please."

For one of the longest hours of my life, I stayed with her on that phone, thanking God we weren't disconnected. When the series of storms finally yielded and the break was long enough for the passengers to be lead back upstairs into the terminals, we hung up. She kept me updated through texts that her flight, fortunately, wasn't canceled. After a few more delays for various reasons she was finally safely in the air and eventually into the arms of the man she loves. There was some comfort there for me - that she was where she was happy and loved - but today as I read the horrifying news of the devastation, of the 11 dead, of exactly how close it came, I just wanted those arms that are holding her to be mine.

-KC