Imprisoned

his prison had no walls,
no guards, no bars.
no warden ever surveyed
the non-existent cells.

yet he cowered there in
a corner of society’s
design; backed up against
the lies he’d been sold.

afraid to venture out
unarmed. emasculated
by manufactured fears
he sprayed his own poison.

propaganda kept him warm,
that and the butt of his
forty-five. he could spew
the paranoia in his sleep.

in his prison he dwells
shackled and hobbled
hoping today he might
justify pulling a trigger.

  
I am beyond weary of being told after every mass shooting in our country that it’s not the right time to address common sense gun regulation. We’ve waited long enough. It’s time. It’s been time for decades.

Up the Down Staircase

Several years ago I worked for an educational non-profit foundation as a trainer. Every week during the school year I flew to different cities all over the U.S. and went into elementary schools to support teachers who implemented the foundation’s mathematics curriculum.

It was an interesting position and I had the great pleasure of getting to know educators in such disparate places as Albuquerque, New Mexico; Detroit, Michigan; Devils Lake, North Dakota; Newark, New Jersey, Flat Lick, Kentucky; and Orlando, Florida, among others.

Before taking the position I’d only flown once on my own, so I ran into a few awkward situations. Once I left my purse at the gate in Minneapolis. This was before 9/11, so before takeoff my co-worker (Patti), tapped the co-pilot on the shoulder and he radioed the gate. 

I fully expected them to hold onto my purse until I came back through in a couple of days, but before we started to taxi, out came a cart and my purse was handed to the pilot who passed it back to me. Of course Patti and I were the only passengers on the little 19 seater headed to North Dakota, but it was still nice.

I spent much of my time in the Denver airport running from one of the larger terminals to a small one. On one occasion I was being paged for my connecting flight as I deplaned, so the race was on.  Sprinting down one broad walkway I rounded the corner behind two adolescent boys. 

They were keeping up a good pace and blocking for me like a good offensive line should, so I didn’t even notice when they barreled straight onto a moving walkway going the wrong way. 

In an instant I found myself struggling to stay on two feet, my bag went backwards and I flailed my arms trying to maintain some balance. It occurred to me to stop fighting the flow and I rode backwards to the end of the walkway all to the applause of my fellow travelers. I bowed deeply and transferred to the correct walkway and managed to make my flight.

Oddly enough I miss the travel. 

Peace, People! 

 

38 Plus One Reasons Why

Last year at this point my blog was just a newborn. It has grown and so have I, physically, emotionally, and mentally.  

This was my post one year ago today, with an additional reason tacked on at the end.

On the eve of our 38th wedding anniversary
I thought it might be interesting to challenge myself to list 38 reasons I’m happy to be married to Studly Doright. 

1. He thinks I’m smart.

2. His sense of humor. It’s corny and quick and keeps me on my toes.

3. He’s a great mechanic. That ability has been ridiculously valuable throughout our 38 years together. No matter how broke we were we always had reliable transportation.

4. He is handsome. Much better looking than I deserve.

5. He’s honest in his dealings with others. His golf buddies refer to him as the Boy Scout. He never cheats. Never.

6. He can admit when he’s wrong.

7. He isn’t afraid to show emotion.

8. He loves our kids fiercely.

9. The grand kids have compared him to a jungle gym. And he would do anything in his power to make them happy.

10. He is loyal, sometimes to a fault.

11. He treats his mother like a queen.

12. He is generous and big-hearted.

13. His laugh. Oh, wow, his laugh. Sitting through a funny movie with Studly is one of the best mood lifters in the world. I highly recommend it.

14. He is a really good kisser.

15. He is an incredible leader.

16. Have I mentioned how smart he is?

17. He will dance with me if he has had enough to drink.

18. He is a good driver.

19. He taught me to ride a motorcycle without wringing my neck.

20. He likes to hold hands.

21. He does everything in his power to make sure I’m happy.

22. Studly loves our cats as much as I do.

23. He is consistent. That might sound boring, but he’s the perfect counterpoint to my Inconsistency.

24. Punctuality is important to him.

25. He makes kick ass obstacle courses.

26. He is a decent amateur auctioneer for our family reunion fund raisers. What he lacks in speed he makes up for in witty repartee.

27. He is really good at mental math. I never need a calculator when he’s around.

28. My parents loved him.

29. He insisted that Daddy move in with us so we could care for him after Mom passed away. The two years we had with Dad before he died were some of the best of our lives.

30. He never lets me take myself too seriously.

31. He doesn’t worry.

32. He respects my opinion and listens to my points of view.

33. He sees me as an equal partner in our marriage.

34. He can cook much better than I can.

35. He can laugh at himself.

36. Studly has a stellar work ethic.

37. He knows how to enjoy life.

38. And, he loves me. He really, really loves me.

39. No matter how crazy his work becomes, he never brings it home.

I made it! Truth is I could’ve gone on and on, but I probably lost most of my readers half way through. That’s ok. This one’s for my husband.

Peace, People.

A Good Talk

My mom wasn’t much for sharing feelings. We knew when she was angry. It was impossible not to know. We knew when she was happy because her smile lit up the room, but she didn’t tell people, even those closest to her, what was really going on inside her heart and mind. Maybe she talked to her sister. I hope so.

I, on the other hand, share way too much. If I’m happy I’ll tell you why. If I’m pissed off, you’ll know the reason, and then some. I even annoy myself sometimes.

When Mom was dying I flew down to stay with her and Dad at their apartment in Sweetwater, Texas. I’d just begun teaching that year in Great Bend, Kansas, and it wasn’t easy for me to get away, but my grandmother needed a break from caring for her dying daughter and it was my turn.

Can you tell it was something I did not want to do? I was in denial. Mom and Dad were, too, so we didn’t talk about death during the daylight hours. But at night, when Dad was asleep Mom and I talked. Now we never directly approached the subject; that just wasn’t going to happen. We danced around it, tiptoed, balanced on the edge, but anytime I came too close Mom’s face tightened up and the subject was changed.

We sat in the bathroom of their claustrophobic apartment and didn’t talk about death. 

I’d bought her a book. It was the children’s book by Robert Munsch, I’ll Love You Forever. I’d hoped it might break down some barriers and allow us to express our feelings before it was too late. She refused to read it.

“I’m afraid it will make me cry,” she said.

“Maybe that’s the point,” I said.

And that was the end of that.

She needed someone to come care for basic health care tasks, but a private nurse was out of their budget range. I suggested we contact hospice care. 

“But that means I’m dying,” said the woman whose bladder cancer had spread throughout her body and into her brain.  

“Maybe you are,” I said.

And that was the end of that.

She had a major seizure the week I was there, and was admitted to the hospital in Abilene. I should have stayed, but again, we were all in denial and I had a plane ticket back to my life in Great Bend. When I left, Mom was her old self, joking with the nursing staff and not talking about death.

She never recovered enough to leave the hospital, and when my Daddy called to say we needed to come we left as soon as we could get some loose ends tied up. 

As is often the case with those near death Mom roused herself the day we arrived at her bedside so she could interact with us, touching our hands and trying to reassure us. She called my daughter stubborn and we all had a good laugh, then she drifted off to sleep.

I sat with her that night and listened to her struggle to breathe. With her captive there in that hospital bed, attached to all the monitors, I finally got to tell her the things I’d wanted to say that she didn’t want to talk about.

“Mommy, I love you and I wish you weren’t dying. If I could I’d hold you in my arms and comfort you as you always comforted me.”

At one point Mom opened her eyes and tried to tell me something. It was important to her, but I couldn’t understand her speech right then. I called in a nurse and she tried to make Mom more comfortable, but she stopped trying to communicate after that. I’ll never know what she was trying to say to me that night because she passed away soon after.

I guess the point of this is, don’t wait to tell people what you feel. We’re all dying. It’s just a matter of time.

Peace, people.

Busybody

I’m a natural busybody. My tendency to chat up complete strangers drives Studly Doright crazy. He’s something of a misanthrope and I’m whatever the opposite of a misanthrope is. A posithrope?

When I’m on a solo journey as I have been  these past couple of days I indulge my urge to make polite conversation with fellow diners and shoppers. 

This morning I had breakfast at a Panera Bread adjacent to my hotel in Paducah, Kentucky. The place was hopping, but I couldn’t help but notice an older gentleman at the counter with his perhaps 9-year-old grandson. 

The man was obviously a regular there–everyone knew him by name–and he was proudly introducing the little boy who was visiting from Ohio.

The two of them ordered ahead of me and took a seat at a large table, joining three other men. Once I had my wonderful cinnamon crunch bagel and creme cheese (oh my heavens!) I found a seat near this group. 

Surreptitiously I listened in on the good natured ribbing, noticing that the grownups included the little boy, especially giving him a hard time about his Cincinnati Reds. As I ate and pretended to read a newspaper I realized the men were part of a regular men’s coffee group, casually solving the world’s problems from a their corner at Panera Bread. 

I remembered my own days of sitting with my Grandaddy and his coffee group at various cafes in Floydada and Lockney, Texas. Sweet nostalgia overtook me, so of course I had to say something.

As I left I stopped by the table surrounded by these older men and told the grandfather how having coffee with my own granddaddy during my childhood had made an impact on me. “Those were the best days of my life,” I said. 

He smiled and patted me on the hand. I had to leave before I started to cry. 

Peace, people.

Are American politics absurd enough?

Definitely worth reading. I love this blog. Notesfromtheuk.com.

Notes from the U.K.

No one’s complained yet, but it’s been weighing on my conscience that I make fun of British politics more often and more joyfully than I make fun of American politics. I have several excuses, all of them true but none of them good enough:

  1. I grew up in the U.S. and spent most of my life there, so its absurdities are less visible to me. Mostly. If you want to see what’s right in front of you, it helps to be an outsider.
  2. Britain wraps its political absurdities in such glorious traditional craziness that it invites satire, from the little loops in the parliamentary cloak room where you can hang your sword, assuming you weren’t in such a hurry that you rushed out without it this morning, to the prayer cards MPs leave on a seat because it’s the only way to reserve one and there aren’t enough to go…

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One for the Road

This morning I set out from Doright Manor near Tallahassee, Florida, on a trip to see my daughter and her family in Illinois. I’ll tally over a thousand miles on the trip to Illinois, necessitating an overnight stop.

Right now I’m relaxing in my hotel room in Paducah, Kentucky. Paducah is a pleasant community, home of the National Quilt Museum and a terrific arts and antiques district. On this trip, though, I’m only seeing the inside of my room.

 

Part of a Japanese quilt exhibit from 2013
  
Dream Catcher quilt

 
Friends and family wondered why I decided to drive rather than fly, and to be honest a couple of hundred miles back I was wondering the same thing. Driving all day in sometimes brutal interstate highway traffic has every muscle in my body wound tightly and in desperate need of a massage. 
 
if only!
 
In spite of that I enjoy driving when I have the time. It gives me a sense of control that flying doesn’t. I have my own car at my disposal instead of needing to rent or commandeer one at my destination.
Early on this morning I promised myself I would resist the impulse to load up on junk foods and diet sodas during my journey. In fact, I decided I’d stick to healthy foods only.

That promise lasted for approximately an hour into my drive when I stopped to use the ladies room at a Burger King and exited the establishment with a large diet Dr. Pepper and a cinnamon roll. 

 

Pretty sure my cinnamon roll topped 500 calories.
 
It all went downhill from there, but I do think there might’ve been a carrot or two in my Mexican food dinner. The lime in the Corona Light I had an hour ago was most likely the healthiest part of my day. Note to self: must do better tomorrow.

  
Paducah is more than half way to my daughter’s home, and there aren’t any major metropolitan areas between here and there. If I get up early I can be there by early afternoon. And tomorrow, I’m eating healthy! Although, I think there’s a Krispy Kreme on my route….

  
Peace, people!

Musical Walk

thanks to you, Pandora
in the space of one brief walk
my life is infused
with sugar, and bad blood,
the beating heart of rock and roll,
happy! happy! happy!

adam levine lights me up
and my walk turns into a strut.
huey lewis holds my hand and
twirls me around.
imagine dragons and pharrel
got me singing along.

too happy not to dance
too old to care that
the neighbors all think
i’m crazy, crazy, crazy!
maybe i am, but life is
too short to waste on
pretending to be sane.

http://youtu.be/M7JVlpm0eRs
  
Peace, people!

Perspective

 
A young woman says, this is my body; this is who i am.

A middle aged woman says, this is my body; it’s a part of who i am.

An old woman says, who the hell am i, and where did this saggy old body come from?

I’m somewhere between middle aged and old. My thighs have become best friends, and even though they sometimes rub each other the wrong way I’m glad they still offer support.

peace, people!