Advise from a crazy lady

When I was growing up, I remember adults telling me that farting wasn’t ladylike. This statement was lost on me. What the hell does that mean? Ladylike? Isn’t farting frowned upon by everyone? Is there someone you know that can fart in public, and it’s completely acceptable? I want to meet this person. Better yet, I want to be this person.

You wonder how I ended up on this subject. Let me tell you! First, I need to tell you some stories from my past that will help to build some understanding. Each story is like a building block to the end of this squirrel-like thinking of mine.

When my stepdaughter Kyra was about three years old, we went camping. This was the first time that we took the kids camping, so it was an new experience for all of us.  We were in a parking lot of the campsite…

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Last weekend we took a long weekend trip to San Francisco. We had this trip planned for some time and refused to cancel it due to COVID. After months of being shut up in St Louis, we needed out. I, at least, get out almost every day, my work schedule has not been affected by the pandemic. I haven’t missed a day. However, I do limit how much time I spend around people, particularly in public areas: fewer trips to the store, limited restaurant exposure, always wearing a mask, etc.

My wife, on the other hand, has been working from home for months and has been taking it rather hard. She is a social butterfly with an innate talk quota that she must meet to maintain general health and sanity.  This trip months ago as a replacement for a family reunion that was canceled. Neither of us had ever been to Frisco and had a long list of things we wanted to do. Alcatraz and the Winchester House and see the Redwoods and ride the streetcars… Basically, San Francisco had been on our list for years. We planned a five-day trip and booked an Airbnb.

But then things started to fall apart. Alcatraz remained closed. The Winchester House was closed. The National and State Parks were closed. And then travel was discouraged. We had reserved and even prepaid for some tours and tickets. What is California without a wine tour, right?!

But regardless of all the roadblocks, we refused to cancel the trip; we needed to get out of St Louis!

Our new plan was to do more hiking than anything else. The National and State Parks were reopened, so we headed to Muir Woods to see the Redwoods. They were INCREDIBLE!! Walking through a grove of thirty-story, perfectly straight trees is a very grounding experience. The stress of the last months melted away to insignificance.

In San Francisco, we focused on the attractions at Pier 39. We went sailing in the bay, into the shadow of Alcatraz, and even went whale watching out into the Pacific. Watching whales jump out an ocean that covers 70% of an entire planet, makes life’s problems seem rather insignificant.

However, COVID was still a concern, and California is considered a hotspot. However, unlike St Louis, 95% of the people around us were wearing masks. I found it encouraging and even comforting to see everyone watching out for each other by simply covering their faces. Rather than focusing on the inconvenience and uncomfortable aspects of wearing a mask, they just jumped on board and did it. I believe that once a majority of people are participating, there is an unconscious peer pressure placed on anyone not participating. San Francisco has reached that level of conformity. And that’s a good thing!

For me, our trip was less about getting away from home or seeing something new than it was about resetting my perspective. I live a rather stress-free life and have built it that way. But I do tend to get hung up on issues around me and tasks I still have to complete. I’m an engineer, so task lists and deadlines are part of the gig. However, in the end, they really don’t matter in the long run. I need to keep that in mind when things start getting to me.

San Francisco was amazing, and we plan to return to hit all the things we were unable to do this time. We rarely return to a place once we’ve hit the major attractions, but Frisco has enough for multiple trips. I look forward to it.

I absolutely agree with this writer. I am a former Christian and could never understand the focus on locations and buildings. Economically, it works best that way, but that does not benefit faith at all.

My favorite lines:
“- there is no one waiting for you there.”
“Because at that point, he is simply not answerable to you anymore.”

Great read. Made me smile.

Kaahsh

Ved, Quran parh parh thakey
Sajdey kardiyaan ghis gaye mathey
Na Rab Tirath, na Rab Makkeh
Jis paya tisa noor anwaar

Tired of reading the Vedas and Quran
Kneeling and prostrating my forehead shorn
At Mathura or Makka He does not dwell
He who has found Him, only he can tell

Bulleh Shah said;

Ved Quran Padh Padh Thakkey
Sajde Kardeyan Ghis Gaye Matthe
Na Rabb Tirath, Na Rabb Makkeh

Now, I know there are some of you who don’t want to accept the actuality of things. Truth hurts. I know. But this is not just something I believe in.

Rather, this is something so true and eternal that it doesn’t even matter if you or I believe it or not. It will continue to be true.

It, very specifically suggests, going to all the temples, churches, mosques, and other so-called ‘Places of God’, is completely a waste of time.

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If there were one bad apple on the cart

What would you do

If there were ten bad apples on the cart

Who would you tell

What would you change

The cart or the apples

Or is that just the way it goes

The way things are and have always been

At what point do you overturn the cart

Dump it and start again

“But wait… give the apples a chance

They will all sort themselves out”

But they haven’t, have they

What if there were a hundred bad apples

And the cart was bleeding and broken

What then

Should we give it time

Be patient

Have faith

There has been time, generations of time

Yet the bad apples persist

They have grown large and brash and spiked

With clubs and tanks and gas and bullets

At what point does the cart lose its mandate

We have lost enough

Have waited over long

Sometimes you need to overturn the cart and let it burn

 

This poem is the result of a writer’s group discussion about our current protest culture. We have one African-American in our group and she accused us all of holding back and not participating in the dialog. For myself, a White Male, I felt that I should probably remain silent and support the protest in other ways. How could my voice be welcome? However, she pointed out that as writers we are obligated to provide a voice to those that do not have the language or audience needed. She challenged us to write something that addressed the protests. This poem is what came of my effort.

 

By A W Kearney

 

I miss the stars of yesteryear
Before the emotions
Before the tears
Before the memories
When they were cold and crystal clear

I have found that too much familiarity can be a bad thing. Much of our enjoyment in life comes from our wonder at and awe of the unknown. Exploring and experiencing is life and as long as we can continue to seek new unknowns we can continue enjoying the awe and wonder.

But once we reach the point where everything in our life is familiar or a ‘been there, done that’ moment, we can only look back at our past and remember feeling those things. Like most things, it’s never quite as good as the first time.

I am fortunate to still be in the wonder and awe stage of my life. My wife and I are still exploring the world and chasing new experiences and new knowledge. We like to travel to more and more exotic places and try new foods and activities. I always strive to remain in wonder of the world and of the people around me. I am never bored, there are too many things to do and experience. I don’t watch much television because I have things I want to DO and experience and NONE of them are on television!

However, the excitement of discovery and experience can only survive a limited number of cycles before familiarity sets in. The wonders that once took your breath away can become mundane and ordinary. For example: How many of the people living in Denver still look out at the mountains with bated breathe? I love the mountains and am still in awe of them every time I see them. However, I also don’t see them Every Day!

There are people that actually LIVE IN ROME. What….??!!?! How could they not be in absolute awe of their surroundings every single day of their lives? I mean really?

Answer: They could see them every day of their lives. That’s how.

As I said: Too much familiarity can ruin the surprise or destroy the magic, destroy trust, taint emotion, and temper the awe and wonder of youth. As I get older I sense my wonder slackening. I am surprised by fewer movie twists or horrible news events because I’ve seen so many others. I don’t want to be that cynical old grump that frowns away my last years. I want to explore and wander and look up at the stars and breathlessly wonder at the mysteries of the universe.

PS: My wife and I are traveling to San Francisco on Friday. I’ve never been and am excited to explore. COVID is certain to put a damper on many of the activities we had planned (no Alcatraz, no Winchester House) but there will be plenty of hiking and scenery. And maybe some wine… We’ll see.

IMG_4861

My wife and I are looking for an old house to rebuild and found a 120 year old Queen Anne style house that needs some extreme love. We were able to crawl into the house by way of the fallen back wall. A newer addition had fallen and dragged down the rear wall of the kitchen. The rest of the house is in amazing shape. But what really surprised me were the belongings still in the house.

When people move out, even in a hurry, they take the important stuff like the good furniture, the family pictures, records, and books. But this house still contained good antique furniture filled with dishes and knickknacks, pictures of the family still on the wall, books, records, old bills, closets with clothes still on hangers. It was eerie, to say the least. In the front room was a hospital bed along with a cot in the adjacent room. Some elderly person had been cared for here in…I look at the calendar on the wall…2005. It all seemed much older than that.

But for some reason, they had left almost everything behind. There are personal photos in every room.

The creepiest thing I discovered was in the basement. A room deep in the dank dark dusty basement had been painted pumpkin orange. The rest of the basement was full of discarded furniture, clothes, and other belongings. But this room had been cleaned out and held an old single bed, a small table and single chair. It appeared to have been abandoned at the same time as the rest of the house. It just made me wonder what the family life was like that they would not only live like this but leave it in such a hurry.

In my experience when someone dies, the remaining family sorts through their belongings and disposes of the house and anything they don’t find a home for. But in this case, it was almost as if they simply walked away.

We are seriously considering buying the house as a project, a last home for us. If we do, I want to include pieces of the previous owners as mementos. Yes, that’s kind of weird, but I think there is some mystery to the house, and playing with it could be fun.

“Who’s that in the picture in the corner?”

“We have no idea. It came with the house,” I say with a smirk.

“What’s with Orange Room in the basement?”

“What Orange Room?” I say mysteriously.

Regardless of whether we end up taking the house or not, I got some pretty cool ideas for stories out of the process.

I’m going to take a break from Twitter and F***book for a while. I’ve been so distracted by the BS and stupidity that my fellow Americans are burying themselves in that I couldn’t tear my eyes away. It is much like a car accident and we’re craning our neck to see the gore.

I discovered that you can mute people on that F***book thing. I mute my step-daughter for a month, she’s an anti-masker, pro-Trumper, bigot, so we really didn’t have anything in common anyway. I’ll see her at Thanksgiving. That’ll be fun.

But the end of 2020 can’t come fast enough. I expect Trump to be out on his ass and maybe some kind of progress on the virus. If anything maybe we can at least agree that masks are a good idea. If America votes Trump in for a second term, we deserve to be sold to Russia. There is no excuse for hoodwinked two elections in a row.

Now, to move on to other more calming and enjoyable topics:

  1. I will be posting here more often. I find that I like the quiet in here much better the social media blast I’ve been hanging out in. This is relaxing.
  2. I really, really, really need to finish this damn book. The book is done. I’m now stuck in an editing loop. So, I’ve decided this is the last go-through. I have some specific things to iron out and then I’m going to submit it. I have other things to write.
  3. I’m working on some short fiction that I’ve previously written but never submitted. I really need to get something published.
  4. I’m outlining my next book – ergo, I need to finish the current book!

I’m also really looking forward to some Football. I really don’t want to jinx it, but I don’t hold out much hope on having a season. In my mind, it would be rash and irresponsible to try and play sports in this environment. Go Pack Go!!

There is a line – an indistinct line – between one phase of life and the next. We never see it coming, but only discern it once we’ve passed. I feel that I am on the cusp of such a line. I can feel myself moving from my adult phase to the middle age phase. And it’s not as disconcerting as I expected.

I’ve been a grandfather for ten years, but that fact did not initiate a change in my phase of life. I was an active healthy forties when I became a grandfather. The phase change didn’t happen until just recently. I found that most adults around me were younger than I. And they were looking to me for advice and leadership. Yeah, weird. Also, my children are all adults and I have taken on the role of the older parent, the ‘boomer’ that doesn’t understand anything in this newfangled world. It is very disconcerting and confusing. And I don’t like it.

My new phase in life shook my confidence, even if it was only symbolic. I had the sudden realization that I’m not only getting old, but am old. Ugh!!

When I was young, I always had a ‘someday’ waiting for me. I’ll figure that out someday, or I can afford it someday, or I’ll have time for that someday. I suddenly found myself with fewer somedays.

In years past, I put everything on my todo-someday list, because I always had someday to look forward to. Now, I’m limiting that list, realizing that I no longer have all the somedays I had before or the energy – stamina – drive I once had. So fewer things fit on the list. My PhD in History is still on the maybe list, but my singing career is probably off for good.

I think people react to life changes differently than others. For some, this is when many people go through the proverbial mid-life crisis. I’m not feeling any urge to buy a Porsche or get a mistress or even a tattoo, really. Maybe I’m handling it better than some. I wish my father were around to compare notes with.

I try to imagine his reaction to reaching this point in life and wonder how he handled it. He did not buy Porsche or have a mistress (as far as I know). But what did he go through? How did he handle it? I don’t know. I was unaware of the line at the time and so couldn’t ask. Now I wish I had him around to talk with.

Both my father and grandfather died in their mid-sixties – the grandfather phase.  I’m in the same phase now. However, they were both smokers with high blood pressure. I am neither, therefore in theory I will outlive them and enter a phase of life they never experienced. In contrast, my grandmother lived to be ninety-nine years old. I intend to live to one hundred and twenty. I don’t know what phase that is, but I will be ready.

Now that I am aware of the indistinct lines that separate life’s phases, I will be better prepared when they appear and will embrace them as the mile markers they are meant to be.

via The Giant Exhale

The winter exposes the bones of the landscape,
the skeleton of the world.
I have cried at the table because the meal
brought me back to who I used to be.
It was easier to put a dog down when I was younger;
now, my proximity to death scares me.
I took pictures at her funeral to prove
to HR that these were actually bereavement days.
My mind blurred as I read his poems.
I wanted the words to bend one way
and they didn’t. I wished he was drunk.
Listening to Tupac’s “Brenda Had a Baby”
and I cried at the lines, “She didn’t know
what to throw away and what to keep.”
How the fuck did he know that?
That’s fucking sad and brilliant.
And while I was meditating,
I forgot to breathe in.
I exhaled my life out through my nose.
I will be so happy when the currency
of the flesh is no longer at war
with my internal life,
but that might be the GIANT exhale.
The loss of that tension might
equal the loss of drive.
Letting it all go.
Letting it all out.
Forgetting to breathe
in.

Jason Fisk lives and writes in the suburbs of Chicago. He has worked in a psychiatric unit, labored in a cabinet factory, and mixed cement for a bricklayer. He was born in Ohio, raised in Minnesota, and has spent the last 25 years in the Chicago area.

I have kept quiet up to this point on the Black Lives Matter protests. I fully support the protests and have not been quiet about that at all. My social media shows that clearly. But I have hesitated to add my voice to the cacophony of voices available on the topic. I am an educated white male and didn’t feel that it was my place to say or do anything other than provide silent support. This movement does not need a white savior but should be lead by those who have needed the voice for so long. They should get the attention and the platform and the focus. My experience is so removed from the pain and crushing scrutiny our neighbors endure every day of their lives, that I was not sure I had anything at all to add to the conversation.

However, as a writer, I have a talent and an audience that many of the voiceless of this movement have no access to. A friend of mine pointed that out. She said that writers have an obligation to be the voices of the voiceless and to speak to our audiences in a language that the movement may not be able to speak to.

So, from the view of a white man on the privileged side of the tracks: Protest!!! Grind it all to halt. The system we have is not working and must be rebuilt. But you can’t do that while you’re still clinging to the old. I know this will alienate or freak out many of my relatives and readers, but I’m okay with that. I would rather be alone on the right side of history than hang out with the losers on the wrong side.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that All Lives Matter. But you can’t really say that the system works that way and until it does, the system is broken. When a white criminal and a black criminal receive vastly different police interactions and prison sentences. You cannot say that All Lives Matter. When the police routinely choke and beat black youths. You cannot say that All Lives Matter. A police officer pulling their gun should be the very last resort in any situation, not the first.

If you actually believe that All Lives Matter, then you should be in the streets protesting too. Because our justice system does not believe that All Lives Matter has demonstrated that time and time again and again and again.

It will only stop when we as a nation demand that All Lives really do Matter, every one of them. That is not what we have today. And that is why I support all of the protests.