Tuesday, May 03, 2022

I remember…

 I’m an old broad.  I was in high school in the 60s in Minneapolis.  I remember:

*My employed, single aunt applying for a credit card, which she could not get without a male signature.  Her unemployed brother signed for her, and she got it.

*The four married couples in my graduating class; all of them “had to” get married and in one case waited for the boy to turn 16 to be able to get married.

*Abortions weren’t legal - there was the abused girl who knew her father would lose it if he found out she was pregnant, so she douched with bleach; and the girl who tried her own coat hanger approach to an unwanted pregnancy.

*Condoms were kept behind a counter, and had to be requested from a pharmacist.  You had to be age 18 to purchase.

*Only married, or about to be married women could get a birth control prescription.  My doctor required me to produce a marriage license to prove I was going to be married.

*In the early 70s, when my husband and I tried to buy a house, my income could not be considered - only the man’s.

Also, in the good old days girls had to wear dresses or skirts to school - no slacks or jeans; teachers were allowed to slap, pull hair, and use paddles; teachers could decline a hall pass for a girl who unexpectedly got her period at school; employers could fire women who became pregnant.

When my now-husband and I got together, I told him I factored in a political candidate’s stance on reproductive rights in my decision making.  He told me I shouldn’t be a single issue voter, that Roe v. Wade was the settled law of the land.


Friday, September 27, 2019

This morning I had a rare day of truly being up before the birds.  Cosmo, the cat, decided that we were lie-abeds by staying there past 4:30 AM.  My Oldtimer, bless him, got up to see why the cat was so tortured, but it was too late - I was awake, and got up at 4:45.  After my usual morning routine of “bisquiting” the dogs, checking the litter box, and making a large cup of coffee, I was on the patio to greet the day - in the dark!

I’ve been out early numerous times, but the hummingbirds are always out to greet the day with me.  Today I even beat the hummingbirds.  No birdsong to enjoy - just the early morning commuters, and the trash trucks positioning themselves to start working the neighborhood at 7:00 AM.  I realized how much I take for granted, being able to work from home, starting my day with a cup of coffee on the patio, while the commuters are already on the road, and the outdoor laborers start their day before the sun rises, to beat the often-unbearable heat.

Now, as of 6:15, the sun is brightening the clouds (we have clouds today!), the hummingbirds are chittering nearby, the finches are trying to work the hummingbird feeders, the grackles are zooming overhead.  It won’t be long until I get a morning “caw” from the raven who stops at the electric pole behind our fence almost every day.  Looks like a lovely day.

*Photo at top is the brightening sky above me. Photo at bottom is from yesterday - my little buddy hummingbird, who loves to sit on the bare sticks near my chair.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Self Care/Self Image

Preface - I've written - and deleted - this post at least a dozen times in the last couple days.  It's been tough trying to sort my brain and express it all.  Tonight, after watching the movie "Poms" I decided to just lay it all out here.  Maybe it will encourage other women of a certain age.  Here goes:

About two weeks ago, I left for a visit to my hometown, the place I spent the first 45 years of my life, on a fairly indulgent vacation.  I descended on my daughter and her family - in the midst of a total kitchen gut and renovation - and made their home my base of operation.  Operation "it's all about me!"

I've tried explaining to a few people the way my brain is - or isnt - working of late, and have had a few pooh-poohs, and a whole lot of  "I don't know what to tell you."  Short version... I've been dealing with being triggered during the presidential election, some intensity on the job, some hyper-awareness that I have now achieved the same age my mom was when she died.  That last one has been brutal, despite everyone's assurances that I'm healthier.  All of a sudden, life really is short.  It's too short to carry around low self-esteem, and the baggage of personal issues.

First motivator for the trip - my 50 year high school reunion.  For over 50 years, I have retained a stiff-necked and outspoken pride about the often-maligned high school I attended.  We've already lost about 60 in the class, and despite being an introvert (who is often not recognized even by people who know me well), I decided to put myself out there, walk into a room all by myself, and attend.

Second motivator for the trip - my granddaughter's ninth birthday.  I've missed too many of these milestones with my far-flung children and grandchildren.  As much as I'm trying to be frugal, I need more visits with my children and grandchildren. In fact, this was my second trip this summer to visit my children - I had a week at the NC beach with my son and his family, who always make me feel treasured.

Third motivator for the trip - my Minnesota daughter has opened her own boudoir photography studio.  I wanted to have a session with her.  After listening to her tell me about the shoots she's done, and the women she's met, I finally understood the idea of this type of photography being empowering and bold.  I need to be more bold.  (There's way, way more to all of this than I'm writing here, but trying to explain it is what has kept me from posting.  Suffice it to say - it really is all about trusting your body, taking a leap, and feeling empowered.)

Fourth motivator - through her work, my daughter met a Reiki practitioner; she experienced some incredible healing.  I was going to have a session.

The reunion was phenomenal.  I didnt get to visit with nearly enough people, but there were at least four that I never really knew or talked to in high school, that I sat with and had long getting-to-know-you conversations.  I got to talk to one person who was gracious and kind, even though the last time I saw her, I was not kind.  I got to relive old jokes, hear about favorite teachers, and listen to a speech by our foreign exchange student that confirmed for me that our much maligned high school truly was an extraordinary place, that we came from a unique and good place.

My Reiki healing was incredibly moving and revealing.  I received great guidance for self care, and guidance about paying attention to both my spiritual and health needs.  I've put several things into practice already, and am seeing the difference.

Finally, the boudoir shoot.  I was so nervous, I was almost sick.  I told Bekah (my daughter) that one of the things I hoped to get from the session was to see myself through someone else's eyes.  She took an extraordinary amount of photos.  I tried to justify it all to myself saying I was going to gift the photos to my husband.  Underneath it all though, I knew I was doing it just for me, and that was ok.  How often do women of our age do something just for themselves, really?  When I was about to go to my gate for my flight home, I hugged my daughter and told her the one word that overwhelmed me about the time I spent back home was "grateful"  I can't tell you how intensely grateful I feel for the wellness and boost to self-image I acquired over my long week of self-exploration, for the family I have, and the friends - new and old - that became part of my life again.

The photos?  I've ordered an album of 17 of them, and a canvas print of one.  I have only shown my husband one - the one I'm about to share here - and will probably keep the rest just for me.  They are incredible, in my opinion, but I'm going to treasure them privately, at least for now.

The emotion, the gratitude, the absolutely stunning healing I received from everything from the reunion to the reiki will stay with me for a long time.  Seeing myself through someone else's eyes - invaluable.  Boudoir shoots - what a gift.  I would encourage every woman my age to do it for themselves - don't leave all that luscious self-esteem for the younger generation!  (And if you haven't' seen the movie Poms, do so!)
Photo by New Light Boudoir, Lake Elmo, MN

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Book Review - Mrs. Everything, Jennifer Weiner

My reason for posting a book review here is simply because I think that all the women I know, my age, would be as moved by this book as I was.

My online review elsewhere read:
Right now, I want to sit down with Jennifer Weiner, look her in the eye, and tell her 100 things. I want to take her hand, to make sure she hears what I say, and tell her how she captured my growing up era. I'm a baby boomer; we all have stories we want to share, and we all think our stories are the most important. Maybe they are.

I finished this book not five minutes ago. The tears aren't dry yet. I don't do a book synopsis but let me just say, this covers it all, from the perspective of two (fictional) sisters just a titch older than I. It's simply but extraordinarily well done. It's been four years since the last Weiner book, and I can see why. This has to be a true labor of love.

To Jennifer Weiner - I know I can't take you by the hand and tell you my 100 stories, so let me just say this, as simply but deeply as I can... thank you.

The depiction of drug use, as well as sexual abuse will be hard for some readers. I had to power through a couple spots; it was so worth the effort. 

It is also notable that my daughter - daughter of a baby boomer - was equally moved by this book.  Here is part of what she said about it:

"This book was exquisite.  I have so many feelings, and just cannot seem to find the words for them.  My mother grew up in the same generation as the main characters of the story, and I feel like Jennifer Weiner did such an amazing job of capturing that era.  I feel like I have a better understanding of my own mother, who I have always been very close to, her struggles, what it was like to be a child of the 60s, with Depression Erar parents and societal expectations pushing her one way, while movements, peers, and the world seemed to be pushing another."

Looks like my daughter is a better reviewer than I!  Also, just in case others are as slow on the uptake as I am, I read an interview with Jennifer Weiner, which caused me to take a closer look at the title.  It's more significant than I realized, because of the pun...  Mrs. Everything, OR "misses everything."

Thanks to Net Galley, and the publisher, Simon & Schuster for the Advance Reader Copy.  I also purchased a final edition, because this one is worth owning.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Recent Completed Art Projects

Strange how it takes a while to realize I haven't put up photos here...  I guess Facebook has taken over my brain.  Here are some recent art projects:  some collaged "Block Babes,"  two dolls from an online class with Paula McGee, a batch of fabric pumpkins with real stems, and another doll I've named Wisteria.  All thoroughly enjoyable art - and more on my table to be completed soon!
 Block Babes
 Block Babes
 Celeste - face
 Celeste - all

 Terra - face
 Terra - all
Fabric pumpkins

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Moon, Soap, a Book, Other Randomness

We had a full moon last night - it was just dark enough to show well, and just light enough to finish our walk with the dogs, when I took this photo.  Not bad for a phone photo, but it would have been nice to capture the real impact of a late September moon behind drifting clouds.

We're enjoying our return to evening walks.  Right around the time the heat became too outrageous to take our furry pals out, I managed to sprain my ankle, so we had a good excuse to lay off for a while.  There's no describing how excited and agitated the dogs get as soon as walking equipment makes an appearance after dinner.  They love their walks; it's still warm enough that we wait till dusk, and we only walk a mile, but we all enjoy it.  The biggest surprise to me?  Mosquitoes!  I feel so cheated!  I thought moving to a dry climate meant no mosquitoes, but those little creeps have eggs that can wait seven years in a dry spot, plotting for the right rain deluge to set them free.

Yesterday I got an email from a woman who wants to buy soaps as client thank-you gifts.  It's been so long since I had a soap client, my inventory is quite low.  I've said it before - I'll never stop making soap, I love it so, but it always surprises me when I get orders.  My family says I'm not allowed to stop making it, but what they really want are lotions and creams.  While I agree my skin care products are outstanding, it's the soap creation that makes my heart sing.

In the Oldtimer and Lily days, I made about 5,000 bars of soap a year, and had this lovely place to display, and a convenient workroom at the back of the store.  There are so many things I miss about having that store, even though the income was lousy to non-existent!

One of the other things I loved about the store was selling books, especially to the high school kids.  I miss the glow of their faces as they realized there was an adult who would talk to them about Harry Potter, or any other favorite book.  I miss the excitement of a grade-schooler, tugging at her mama's sweater and jumping up and down saying "Books!  They have books, mama!"  I miss the pleasure on the face of the high school counselor who realized we brought in a supply of each of the required reading list for each grade, all in affordable format, and we were passing them on at our cost to the students.  I'm just sorry that our small attempts at being good citizens of the community weren't enough to keep us there; you don't pay bills selling things at cost!  (Don't ever ask me to create your business plan.)

Speaking of books, I just finished an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Jodi Picoult's newest - A Spark of Light.  Picoult never shies away from controversial subjects - in this case a shooting at an abortion clinic in the south - and this book is no exception.  The way she manages to put together a compelling, readable story, that is so clearly well-researched, leaves me in awe.  This one was uniquely told in a reverse timeline fashion that worked surprisingly well. #ASparkofLight

Soon, I'll be traveling for both business and pleasure.  I hope to return to blogging more often (she says for the umpteenth time).

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


This morning, I dropped my five year old granddaughter off for Kindergarten, just as I've done (four days a week, mostly) since she began her Kindergarten career last July.

Most mornings are pretty routine, although we get a bit of variety when, say... it's spirit week.  I'm particularly fond of pajama day, when one of the teachers is at the door in her footed puppy pajamas, greeting the children.

Since our ritual began last July, I've been tickled to have these few minutes with my granddaughter each day.  Taking her to the gate of the "Kinder playground" is pure pleasure - teachers and aides greet us with smiles and high fives; 99% of the "kinders" run to the school with anticipation and pleasure.  My granddaughter is always alert, asking if we are arriving in time for her to have plenty of playground time before her day starts.

This morning, she was worried... the Kinder playground was empty.  "Are we early?"  No... we're right on time.  "There's no one on the playground!  Are we late?"  No... we're right on time.  I parked, helped her adjust her backpack, and held her hand as we crossed the lot.  We stepped into crossing guard territory and I asked what was going on.  "Oh... there's a stray puppy who has been greeting all the children, and we've confined him to the Kinder lot until we find the owner."

Sure enough, there was a large pit-bull type, panting happily, and surrounded by staff in red shirts.  Did I miss a memo, was today a spirit day?  As I returned to my car, I saw a mom in a red t-shirt with a Red for Ed logo.  It dawned on me what I'd missed, and I wished I hadn't dressed in lavender.  I spoke up, saying "I just realized what the red shirts are for today!"  She looked a little concerned, but acknowledged me.  I told her the movement had my full support, and we chatted a bit.

She was eager to tell me that she worked in the district office, and it really wasn't about raises, it was about science equipment and other things to benefit the kids.  Raises would be nice, but that wasn't all there was to it.  I mentioned that I was originally from Minnesota, but before I could finish my thought, she said "OH!  Then you get it!  Their budget is double ours!"  We talked a bit more, mostly about the fact that despite what others think, we senior citizens do indeed vote in favor of education bills and bonds, despite our concerns that it might not really be getting to the place it's needed.

It seems like a simple enough conversation, and you are probably wondering why I detail it here, but it triggered so many thoughts.  Since moving to AZ, I've been shocked at how poorly the state's elected officials treat education.  I've been shocked at cuts to education funding, I've recognized poor teacher pay, and more.  And I thought about what I've seen in the few months my granddaughter has been in school - teachers with special outfits for spirit day, or working to protect the children from a stray "puppy" that happens to be a largish, eager, pitbull-type who stands at least waist high on the children; asking if parents could pleases help stock the classroom with much needed items like facial tissue or glue or maybe a snack once in a while; the fact that we are always greeted with a pleasant face; the number of teachers who line the sidewalk for the arriving buses.  They aren't just punching a time clock, and putting in their straight eight - they are involved, committed, and doing extra odd jobs without complaint.

Arizona, you could do so much better.  Educated, well-rounded students make good citizens.  Like all employees, well-recognized teachers would only give more of themselves - and not just use their time here as a notch on the training belt to take their experience elsewhere.  What could possibly be more important than giving a good foundation to our future?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sweet Autumn

(photo of an autumn past)

Early Saturday morning, first cup of coffee on the patio, comfortable in real slippers and a light flannel robe... brought a great deal of reflection.  It began simply enough, with the thought that in other places I've lived, comfortable at this time of year on the patio in a robe would have been surprising in that the weather was warm enough, not cool enough, as is the case now.  I never realized until moving to the Phoenix area, how many of my memories are accessed by visualizing what the seasonal indicators were at the time.  Were there leaves on the trees, was I wearing long sleeves or short?  Though we see seasonal changes here, the most notable is simply the temperature, so the year-round warmth keeps me confused, and I find my year slipping past, thinking once again that it's still summer.  I may never adapt.

This was a rough summer for me.  I've been secretly proud of how relatively untroubled I've been by July's high temps the first few years we lived here.  This year was different, and I found myself thinking summer would never end, wishing for a break.  Lolo always said to be careful of wishing your life away...

Perhaps the long hot summer, or the awareness of blessed coolness, caused me to dip my toe into a bit of melancholy, thinking of autumn activities such as trips to apple orchards and pumpkin patches, wandering the farmer's market filled with the colors of fall in gourds and pumpkins and apples.  Every memory, from our first taste of a fresh apple cider doughnut to pumpkin carving with the kids came clear, and I felt a longing for fallen leaves and the scents of autumn.

In the past, I was never thoroughly able to enjoy fall, because the specter of winter loomed, grinning, over the sweet colorful landscape.  I rushed through those brief fall days, mostly concerned with battening down the hatches, winterizing the yard, and wondering if kids' costumes would fit over winter jackets.

Just as I was about to dive into full-blown melancholy, the sun rose enough to tint the sky peach, lavender, palest blue.  The hummingbirds, usually the first to work the yard in the morning, began their aerial maneuvers overhead, with occasional dips and swoops that defy logic.  Hearing an odd noise to the left, I looked up just in time to see a Gila woodpecker gripping the hummingbird feeder tightly, surely giving me a dirty look for letting it go empty.  These are the memories of autumn in suburban Phoenix, and this is where I'm supposed to be now.  I put down my coffee cup and headed to the kitchen to make hummingbird nectar.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Quick Project Update

Not too much to say today, but because it's been a while since I posted photos of completed projects, I thought I'd share a few photos.
 Tags made on laminate samples, using primarily Tim Holtz ephemera packs for the images.

 Mixed media decorative canvas.

 Things with Wings shrine.

 Decorative pillows from cutter linens

 Painted and redecorated master bedroom.

Junk journal (cover)- some printed digitals, some old papers and junk.

 Inside the junk journal

 Again, inside the junk journal.  (Printed digitals from Ephemera's Vintage Garden.)

 Small mixed media canvas from a class at Craft Fusion - Class by "Blooming Gayls."

Grandmother Clock shrine using base from Joggles and Graphic 45s Halloween in Wonderland.

That's all that I've completed for now.  I seem to have been bitten by the junk journaling bug, and am enjoying using a mixture of purchased digital images, old papers, new papers made to look old, and more.  I'm primarily journaling in Traveler's Notebook sized inserts, but am also enjoying altering old magazines and digital printouts.  I have a couple dolls in the works, but we know how that goes... I'm terribly slow in finishing.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Childhood Sounds

(Dad in his wheelchair)

As a child, one of my favorite things to do was lie in bed and listen to the grown-ups talking in the kitchen.  Sometimes it was late at night, and they were sitting around the kitchen table, discussing the things they didn't want the kids to hear (that's how I found out one of my aunts was expecting her third child).  Other times, it was a late night game of hearts, being re-hashed as to how a hand should have been played.  My favorite time, though, was Saturday morning, when my dad didn't have to go to work, and I could listen to him wheeling around the kitchen; he would sing and whistle, and his wheelchair tires would squeak on the linoleum floor.  Someone, probably my mom, made it a rule that I couldn't get out of bed before 7:00 AM on Saturday, so I would snug down under the covers and just listen.

Weekdays, mom usually made the pot of coffee the night before.  In the morning, she would set it over the flame to re-heat, and I could hear the tap-tap-tap of her wedding ring against the Corning Ware pot, as she tested to see if it was warm enough yet.  Mom hated early mornings, but got up every day to pack dad's lunch, and fix his breakfast - one fried egg, two pieces of bacon, a piece of toast with marmalade (which he dunked into his egg yolk, a taste I never acquired).  As soon as he left, she went back to bed.  To this day, the thought of the tap-tap-tap of a wedding ring against the coffee pot is incredibly comforting.  Those sounds signaled that the routine was in place, and all was right with the world.

Next week, my dad will have been gone 34 years.  It's been longer than that since I've heard the wheels squeak on the floor, the whistling, the songs.  Longer still since I've trailed into the kitchen on a Saturday morning to see his bright blue eyes welcome me, and then have him whisper "it's almost 9:00 o'clock, go in and tell your mom it's time to get up."  I wonder if he knew I could tell time, and knew that 8:15 was not "almost 9:00 o'clock."  He just wanted her to get up to share the morning with him...

Friday, November 18, 2016

Books, Books, Books...

For the past three years, I've given myself a personal challenge to read at least 50 books per year for the Goodreads Reader's Challenge.  Right now, I'm just four books from my goal for the year, and am close to finishing one.

I'm curious - what would all of you recommend as compelling and enjoyable to close out my year?  You can see what I've read in the side bar, where my book montage is featured.

(Currently reading The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August.)

You're up - give me something compelling...

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Silence...is not golden

Dear men of a certain age/mentality...  You know who you are,  And you know who we are - the ones who closed our eyes, silenced our hearts, thought we had to put up or shut up...

Personal on-the-job experience:
"I require my female employees to have regular professional manicures."
"Anyone can lose 10 pounds over a weekend if they try.  Let's weigh you - I'll give you $100 on Monday if you lose 10 pounds."
"If you wore a lower cut blouse, I could get a better look at the milky whites..."
"It looks like you are using being knocked up as an excuse to eat one-too-many hot fudge sundaes."
"My best client is in town for the weekend.  It would help if my assistant was "nice" to him.  He's staying at a great hotel..."

And the one that sent me to therapy for PTSD...
"If you die on the job, can I do you while you're still warm?"

And these statements don't begin to touch on the waitress experience - unzipped flies, pinched bottoms, being pulled onto a lap...

My dear husband (who was not in my life during those times) asks me why, no one has to put up with that!  Why didn't you speak out?!.  Why? Because we thought we had to stay silent - single moms have children to support; married women have bills to pay.  And the few who did speak out, right then and there...were forced out of jobs or demoted.

No more.  We know you, your type, and the lap dogs who support you.  You will not have our daughters, our granddaughters.  One of you will not have our nation.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Politics - Beware!

It's amazing...  Recently, I was speaking with a new-ish friend about my blog, which caused me to page back through time and take a look at what I've posted, primarily to see what she might come across.  Lo and behold!  Four years ago, a post about politics, and someone who shocked my self-awareness.

While most of the post centered around my hurt feelings and self-analysis (original post here - http://loloschild.blogspot.com/2012/09/me.html), much of it was triggered by what felt like the most negative, dire political season of my lifetime.  If I had been able to see the future, I would have relished the decency of it all.

It's not news to anyone who is able to read that this is the most ridiculous, embarrassing, and disgustingly lengthy political season we've ever had in this country.  I've grown weary of speeches that shock my sensibilities, of spin agents earnestly trying to make a silk purse of a sow's ear.  I worry constantly about what my granddaughters might be hearing on TV, or from playmates, for heaven's sake!

But I digress...  As worried as I am about many things that relate to this election season, I know that I'm not only unable to tune it out, I'm unwilling.  I suppose I'm a bit like a bird watching a snake - horrified by what I see, but afraid to look away.  However, I feel certain that this climate, this national state of mind, is really not good for us as a collective whole, no matter what side we take.  I'm afraid all of us, especially young people, are becoming desensitized to name calling, playing with facts, churning up violent thoughts, ridiculing others for appearance/beliefs/stature.  I'm no longer afraid of a collective ennui, but rather a collective toxic stew of fear and blame.  This is the stuff that creeps in and leaves an ugly taint on our spirit, one that could be impossible to remove.

Every morning, I have my first cup of coffee on my patio.  I enjoy beautiful sunrises, birdsong, the ballet dance of dragonflies over the pond.  I am filled with gratitude for the beautiful life I've led, every single day.  To survive the election season, I hope to take that gratitude and send it outward, in hopes that I can heal some small part of the despair that seems to overhang us all in this dreadful political season.  Every small step, every positive thought, helps turn the vibe from fear and negativity to one of hope and appreciation.

PS - the image above is from our family vacation six years ago - one of the lighthouses on our route.  I'm posting it as a symbol of casting light, providing hope.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Puppy Feet

BIG puppy feet, especially for an 8 week old.  We have a new family member - just a matter of days after the conversations that went back and forth about having had three dogs most of our married life; about the two we have being afraid to play with one another; and culminating with my comment that some days I wanted a third, some days I didn't want any.

When the ad came up for the puppies, my Oldtimer was instantly in love.  I hesitated.  Too much work, I said.  All that potty training and night time crying and accidents and limitations and, and...  And twenty minutes later we were in the car and looking at puppies.  This fuzzy bundle was the first we pulled from the pile of squirmiing sleepers.  Love at first sight.

Our second night's sleep was already better than the first.  He seems smart enough to try to hide the accidents in the house, in the room we use the least.  He's a fast little devil.

Names came and went - but as he played tug-of-war with one of Molly's old toys the first morning, it became clear that Tug was the perfect name, not only because of his attitude now, but because of how it will fit with the bruiser we expect him to become.

As to his new siblings...  Rosco is unnerved, Molly has apparently forgotten what it's like to have a furry playmate, and Cosmo hisses and looks longingly at the house next door, waiting for the seasonal residents to return.

As to the work load - I knew it was going to be high, but I had forgotten entirely how that level of high alert feels, the constant on-watch issues, and the need to let the other siblings know they are still loved. My Oldtimer has actually skipped golf for the second morning in a row, being the good supportive new parent hs is.  Despite that, I'm exhausted - and have no regrets.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Where is the Love?

Well, here we are...  this past February, I became an official senior citizen, 65 years old.  I'm a Baby Boomer who is now on Medicare.  I graduated from high school in 1969... just a few months before Woodstock took place.  We were (supposedly) the generation of sex, drugs, rock-n-roll.  Free love, color blind, peaceful.  We were going to change the world - the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

I happen to have been a total failure at the sex, drugs, rock-n-roll part.  I often joke that I'm the person who should run for President, because I'm probably one of only two people in my generation who hasn't even smoked marijuana.  (Trust me, I don't want the job of President.) Growing up always the new kid in school, always in hand me down clothes, and with parents who were so far from Ward & June Cleaver as to be laughable, I tried with all my might to work hard, get decent clothing, and fit in somewhere.  I was married at age 18 in large part because of the sex guilt thing; a holdover from the 50s, I guess.

My mother (Lolo), an incredibly adept astrologer worried over my being absolutely no good at being an Aquarius child.  She thought I should frequent jazz clubs, wear long flowing scarves, and do good works while dressed like a 1920s flapper.  I was lousy at every aspect of being born in the sign of Aquarius but one - I was color blind.  That worried her too - she'd seen what mixed race couples faced, what the children of those couples dealt with, and later, so did I.  Unlike my mother, I wasn't losing sleep over it.  I was in the most ethnically diverse high school in the city of Minneapolis, and I couldn't apply her worry to my friends.

The summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school, we had "civil unrest;" the burning of shops on Plymouth Avenue, and confrontations between police and black protesters.  (http://www.mnopedia.org/event/civil-unrest-plymouth-avenue-minneapolis-1967)  Out of that unrest grew The Way, a black empowerment movement, complete with its own building, on Plymouth Avenue.  At the beginning of my Junior year of high school, the white girl in an a-line skirt,  neat sweater, and pantyhose was sent by her journalism teacher to interview the community leaders at The Way, and write a story for the school newspaper.

The reaction of the school administration and teachers to my article was eye opening.  I wrote about the neat brick building, the passion and integrity of the people I interviewed, and their hope for the future.  My instructor was asked how much I was paid for the biased article.  And that - more than the "riots" on Plymouth Avenue - was my first introduction to the differences between us.

My reaction was always to view all subsequent race events and hate crimes in horror, but yet to put distance between myself and them, because I thought I knew the real people in situations, and knew things weren't really like they were being shown on the news.  I distanced myself emotionally, because I didn't accept it as reality.

Over the last few days, I've looked back at all the minor racial events in my life, and have come to realize they weren't minor.  There was the accusation of being a biased reporter on The Way story; the experience of racial manipulation in a courtroom setting; the fact that my favorite customer in my southern store (a black woman) refused to have lunch with me in public; being sneaked into my haircutter's shop before opening because I was his only white client. I laughed all of this off, I didn't see it for what it was, I called it a one-time incident, or people seeing an issue where one didn't exist, not an indication of what was seething underneath.  And now... I feel like the proverbial old lady, sitting in my rocking chair, only able to look back, and facing all the missed opportunities to make things better.

Most disturbing to me is that I don't feel much different than the girl who wanted decent clothes, to fit in, and thus, to not spend hard-earned money on drugs and parties, even though that's what almost all of my friends at the time were doing.  I feel only slightly less colorblind.  The really odd thing to me is that those friends who participated in all that the 60s and 70s had to offer, are now the ones who are rigid, unforgiving, and holding others to a much higher standard than they were held to.  Many are using found religion, to share their judgement and lack of compassion; their adult children post online support of political candidates who spew hate language, and act as though it's gold.  Others are just strident new Republicans, hanging onto their guns.

I have no answers, I don't have a conclusion.  I am filled with grief over the loss of what I thought the world at my dotage would be, and what it really is.  I am filled with shame for the opportunities to speak up and make a difference that I missed.  More than anything, I am so sorry for the number of times I laughed at friends who tried to tell me that something was a racial incident, and I just didn't see it.  I don't want to feel like this - like I have to apologize for my entire generation, we had such promise.  Where is the love?