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Emo. I had to ask what it meant the first time I heard it. Short for emotional, it’s a term used to describe a certain style of dress and behavior of contemporary teens. Lean young men, with tight, low rise pants and close knit tops. Hair always fashioned long, over the eyes, sometimes died or bleached or both. Often sporting makeup and/or nail polish. Generally brooding, and moody. Sometimes bi or homosexual.
Being “out” in high school is a rugged undertaking. Ric, 15, craves acceptance. His basic needs, though the same as his peers, are exponentially harder to satisfy.
“He told us he’d planned to slip out of his room at night, walk to school, and hang himself,” Ric’s mom explains, while I piece together what’s happening. “He called 911 from his bedroom. We didn’t know anything until the police arrived!”
‘Self-preservation wins...he wants to live, not die,’ I’m thinking, as she spews out the details over the phone. In the background a young boy is yelling like a renegade. There is no attempt to hush him.
...he lied to come live with me...his dad...may not be his real dad...and Ric’s not ‘bi,’ he’s confused.”
Complaining that a substitute teacher’s facial expression seemed homophobic to him, Ric plants himself in my office. He wasn’t able to do math homework last night because his mom was blowing up at his stepdad because his stepdad was ‘on Ric’s side’ about the gay thing.
Sometimes I want to spank parents, shake them, yell at them: “GROW UP!” Ric’s still a kid! What the hell was she thinking when she had him text message his stepdad for her, threatening to withhold sex if stepdad didn’t retracted his support of Ric?! Shitohdear! Leave the kid out of your pissing matches!
Another in a string of glorious, crisp, sunny autumn days, and I finally got out into the gardens late in the afternoon. Planted 35 “Deluxe Double Daffodils” from Breck’s (a five star source for bulbs.) Also trimmed out frosted dahlias. A few rosebuds perch expectantly; some may bloom if daytime warmth coaxes them.
The switch to Pacific Standard Time is always hard for me. Though there is welcome light in the early morning when I’m commuting, it is the signal that days are INDEED getting shorter. By 5:00 the sun has set...sometimes I wish I could just hibernate!
Why I believe humans should hibernate. During the past week I’ve counseled three seriously mentally ill teenagers. All three were suicidal and at high risk; they all had a plan and the resources to kill themselves, and all three had attempted suicide (more than once) previously. And in all three cases, an intervention occurred.
Less than 5’ tall, Leah’s in constant pain, the result of injuries incurred from a nearly fatal car accident. Understanding pain’s trump, we connected. Today I learned she’s bipolar. Recognizing her symptoms, this time Leah asked for help BEFORE attempting.
I pray her mom followed through.
It’s happening again. I’m getting grossed out with the news. Every day the same old lie. War bungles, hemorrhaging money, unstable economy, oil prices increasing, and no end in sight.
Near the end of the Vietnam conflict I had to stop watching television. I realized I was becoming desensitized, and the television stayed off for years.
Last weekend we watched “The Silence of The Lambs.” I’d never seen it because friends had warned me it was too spooky. But it seemed tame to me. Wondering why, I realized, since I’ve resumed watching television, including CSI and others, I’m numbed out.
“Can’t the school do something? He sleeps in and has missed classes...he’s not listening to me, can’t you
“Yes, of course,” I reply. “...put him on an attendance contract...excessive absenteeism...court referral...”
“Well I don’t want to get him in trouble, I just want you to give him a carrot, he needs a reward for being there...couldn’t he be given bonus points for attending?”
“What the hell?”
I’m thinking but instead say, “some teachers give participation points, but I doubt your son would be given ‘extra’ points just for showing up!”
Can you believe this?
Tomorrow, I fly to Spokane for a day visit to Eastern Washington University, and a girl’s night out with Jocelyn. Spokane is the birth city of my parents, my older brother and sister, and me. Returning to Pullman from a visit to The World’s Fair in Spokane in 1974, mother’s mother suffered a massive heart attack and died. Creighton and I spent the first night of married life in Spokane, and I’ve been there often for educational conferences. A high desert climate, the area is covered with lodgepole pine forests, and has four distinct seasons. Thankfully, no snow is forecasted.
Cheney is a small town, like Pullman. The population doubles when the University is in session. I was impressed with EWU, its history and featured programs. There’s no substitute for being on a campus to get a sense of its vitality.
Jocelyn and I met her colleague for cocktails, then the two of us had a nice dinner, with plenty of laughter, wine, and honest talk. Jocelyn’s husband was off winterizing their cabin, and her daughter stayed at a friend’s, so we slipped into our jammies, snuggled into their comfy family room, and enjoyed more wine, German chocolate, and conversation.
What a fantastic day. Jocelyn’s fresh baked muffins and rich coffee greeted me this morning. We toured her neighborhood en route to the airport and my flight was on time and smooth.
Creighton, happy to retrieve me, suggested lunch at a small, locally owned bakery. that serves nummy soups and sandwiches. In a festive mood, we shopped at TJ’s for wines and dinners on our way home.
A lovely sunny day encouraged me to clean out the tomato, nasturtium, raspberry, strawberry, and late blooming bulb gardens. Relaxing this evening, I acknowledge my blessings; comfort, fun loving friends, and living family.
Armistice Day; the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, 1918, The Great War ended. Father’s father fought in that war. I know nothing of his experience. Dad served in World War II, but isn’t inclined to memorialize the experience any time, let alone on Veteran’s Day.
I imagine Dad at the duck blind today, anticipating the moment a fat mallard drake might come into range. No flag waving, no parades, no wreaths or speeches. But, just maybe, a silent reflective toast to buddies long gone, and a bitter sip to the current fucking mess we’re in.
Stormy weather; plenty of rain with wind gusts that stripped the trees, tossing dead branches from the Pacific Willow about the back yard. Dogs and ‘big one’s’ remained inside, snuggled into couches, and content at computers. The wood stove warmed us throughout the day, just as the fragrance of homemade soup stock comforted our senses.
Next Sunday we head north for Thanksgiving at Beach Haven. In years past, I’d decorate the house in Christmas cheer the day after Thanksgiving. Now I’m away, I start earlier. Though some decry early onset Christmas, I love arriving home to the glow and promise.
Was it the storm?
Maybe the call from his dad?
Certainly we know the meds (mixed with wine) can cause problems.
But this was concerning to me...
he fell in the bathroom
(is there a lyric here?)
but it’s not funny.
After he slipped on the bath mat,
knocked the shower doors off their moorings,
after I awoke to the clatter, and came to his aid,
after he arose, then fell again,
after the dogs retreated under the bed,
after he returned to the bathroom
then fainted flat out,
I decided I’d better stay home today.
And so I did.
In a paroxysm of frustration, i called Dad tonight to see if he’s as disgusted as I, with the news and politics. Though later than his usual meal time, he was just pulling an easy dinner out of the microwave.
“Fell asleep after my drink, thankfully missed most of the news!”
I love him so much. When he’s gone, it will be like losing a magnetic pole for me.
Sitting solitary in this big house, regarding the holiday decorations, I wonder: “Would I be able to remain living here, were Creighton to die before me?”
Winter blues; wages of age.
Kit; fiercely female, redheaded warrior leader, angel, counselor, caregiver.
Gail, lost and found, aching, wounded, bright, vulnerable, capable, seeking, emerging.
Mutual dependence provides each with greater security, enhanced living conditions, and increased autonomy.
Mattie; looks like, acts like, and often is mistaken for a puppy, even though he’s thirteen. Easy going and always good natured, he’s everyone’s friend.
Jacques; smart, scamp, survivor, arrived at our door as a charity case six years ago. Needy, responsive, devilish, devoted, he’s improving with age, stability, and love.
Both women will care for the beagles while we’re on Orcas, affirming my belief in symbiosis.
Change of plans. Call from Beach Haven; water main from the well is broken, unable to locate leak, no water to cabins, don’t know when it will be fixed.
Sometimes things happen for no reason at all, but we have to pay attention and make decisions based on current reality. Together we agree, if there’s no solution by noon tomorrow, we’ll stay home this upcoming week. I’ll work Monday and Tuesday, then have five days to play.
I wonder if I’ll be able to behave as though I’m there? Will I lounge by the wood stove, reading, writing, and drawing?
Where ever did the phrase “at sixes and sevens” come from? It’s how I describe my feelings this morning as I try to figure out what I should be doing.
Before the news of water problems at Beach Haven, I’d have been packing and preparing for departure. Now, totally unsettled, I still want to go. Like an itch, scratching doesn’t satisfy.
Asking for direction, I awake C. We call to learn the problem remains, though workers are seeking the source.
Weary-wise, we decide it’s an omen to stay home...many signs and signals point to “flat broke and busted” blues.
If our original plan had held, I’d be at Beach Haven writing this. I’m not, yet soon will be.
Awaking with many shades of regret at canceling our getaway, we questioned the validity of our reasons. They held fast, like oysters on rock, yet desire to feed our souls has triumphed.
Calling back, we learned the leak had been found and fixed. That’s all we needed to abandon logic, embrace passion, and reverse course.
Packed and ready to launch, we agreed to shoot for the 8:50 a.m. ferry. The alarm is set for 3:00 a.m.
We’re so ready!
“O darkhundred hour.” We were on I-5N by 4:00. Hit some early commuter backup through Seattle, but made the 8:50 ferry, which was virtually empty.
Taking advantage of its deserted expanses, I shot a series of photos which are quite exciting. The massive vessel, all steel and iron, within the backdrop of foggy islands, water, and shorelines provide remarkable counterpoint.
In Eastsound we purchased provisions, fresh bread and choice olives at Roses Deli, and were in our cabin before noon. Unpacked and pooped, we cracked open a Spanish bubbly, munched on bagels and goat cheese, and celebrated!
Lunch melted into dinner. Darkness enclosed the bay and we were sleeping by 6:30 pm! Awake at midnight, I read a couple hours, then slept soundly until dawn.
The mornings here are my favorite time. Kindling a fire in the small woodburning stove, I watch daybreak tiptoe into the bay. From the still quietness of night, birds and otters emerge into light. Bufflehead ducks, cormorants, and loons fish the shallows.
We walked to Orcas Island Pottery, a 3 mile jaunt. Later,Creighton learned that though all the cabins had been reserved, with the water issue, everyone else requested refunds.
Trite though it sounds, each day I am alive seems like a gift. I feel it more deeply as I age, and the sense of gratitude is intensified when I’m here, in this simple log cabin, with no distractions other than the view.
Dolly Parton quipped one time,“it’s amazing how expensive it is to look this cheap!” Equally surprising is the amount of effort it takes to afford a few days of simplicity. It’s worth it to me.
We dashed into town and the landing to visit our favorite shops, then enjoyed the afternoon reading, drawing, and practicing bass.
Up earlier than is his pattern, Creighton enjoyed the still morning water, watching the bufflehead ducks dip and bob close in to shore. A doe and fawn, naturally, hesitantly alert, made their way up the beach, then circled back behind our cabin. It’s Thanksgiving, and I’m feeling blessed.
After “real” eggs (from the hens on the corner) we went for our walk, past the aged cemetery, up to the horse ranch, and back. Though sunny, a brisk, cold wind nipped our ears. An abundant wood fire, simple turkey thigh dinner, and lush red wine will warm us inside and out.
Moonset; full gold globe descends, casting her glow across the lightly riffled bay, appearing ever more luxuriant as the horizon lifts to embrace her. In an orange sherbet diffusion, muffled moon assimilates into Saturna.
Sky and water, trees and islands merge into one great darkness. Only the swish of waves on shore communicate their distinction.
Pensive musings fill our thoughts and conversation as we acknowledge our last day on island. When we started vacationing in the San Juan’s, we dreamed of buying land, owning a house and retiring here. Sadly, it seems even less realizable today, than twenty years ago.
7:30, lobby of MS Yakima, mocha gone, C sleeping in car, L writing and wondering. How can I procure a little bit of this heaven? Would it still be heaven if I owned it? What is it that makes it feel like heaven when I’m here? Can I get that anywhere else?
with access and resources.
with limited growth and development.
Shelter, services, utilities, linen, all provided.
Wood already chopped and dry.
Hot water, clean windows.
Illusion of simplicity.
Nothing you own remains simple. It will always demand some fixing, maintenance, repair, improvement. Ah well...
“Home again, home again, hippity hop.” Both dogs, well cared for in our absence, were quite happy to have us back. The rains held off so we could go to the park for a nice romp.
Now comes the post Thanksgiving letdown, and a long lead up to the winter holiday break. Very PC (and OK) to call it that! Many of my friends and colleagues observe traditions other than Christmas.
Though Christianity is the religious backdrop in my upbringing, my parents protected our right to worship as we liked. I feel the spirit most when surrounded by nature’s beauty.
As I’ve referenced in prior entries, my mother was raised Catholic, and was slated to be a nun. Fortunately for me (and the line extending from her) she rejected the habit.
My dad’s understanding of the history of religious strife in his father’s homeland, Scotland, and in the rest of the world, jelled into a rich belief system which he offered his children, but never forced upon us.
Years ago, deep in conversation, dad told me that he admired the teaching of Jesus Christ, the man. Christ was a historical figure whom dad elevated right up there with Teddy Roosevelt.
In contrast, Creighton was raised (or is that razed?) in a highly religious environment. His mother’s mother was a member of the Daughter’s of the American Revolution (DAR), and the name of her father, Creighton Kimler, is imprinted on a brick in the church to which he was affiliated.
Creighton’s father’s father escaped France and the priesthood, to meet up with his French affiance in the US. He never told his French relatives of his marriage(s) and children. From a humble, farming family, in a tiny country community, the church was his only route to receive a quality education
Finding it hard to focus, to put nose to grindstone, to work, work, work. Just want to hibernate. Don’t get paid to lie (or is that lay?) fallow and dormant for a season. Damn.
Mid week, one day at a time, I’m such a driven person...or maybe not...don’t know how I’d stack up in a race to the finish...just want to finish each day with a sense that there was good reason for me to be.
Spending too much time shopping the internet, and not enough on more creative projects. Damn. Never satisfied with myself in winter.
OK. I’m not the kind who, in her aging years, is considered to be a party animal, the spark that lights every one else up. No, not me. Remember, I’m the one who gets her energy hibernating. Since that isn’t possible, I look for other outlets, and conviviality seems to be one socially acceptable substitute.
So, today I initiated a “secret Santa” gift exchange in the Visual and Performing Arts School, suggested a last day potluck, and advocated for other social activities. Happily, the Santa exchange and potluck are being well received, and after hours imbibing is in the works.
Can’t blame it on the moon, being the last quarter. Maybe static electricity, or the forecast of hurricane force winds on the Oregon coast, and possible snow in the Willamette Valley, caused a ripple in the nervous make up of some already off balance people.
At the same time a man was holding volunteers hostage in Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters, a small group of volatile students were fomenting fights on campus. I walked into the middle of it and helped get onlookers moving along to class.
Unfulfilled want, pain, mental illness, all seem to escalate during winter and the holidays.
The Tip Jar