mourning

It’s Personal, and It’s Us

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I should be doing my yoga right now, but I’m too busy crying.  I figure that demonstrates more than a modicum of restraint, because what I’d like to be doing is vomiting while I stamp my feet.  Donald Trump won.  Hate won. Fear won. Selfishness won. Greed won. Racism won.  Misogyny won. Homophobia won. Xenophobia won. Zealousness won. The motherfucking KKK won. The DNC won, in its refusal to acknowledge that no matter how qualified, no matter how many good reasons there were to support her, Hillary Clinton was not the candidate to run in a climate of fear and hatred.

You know who lost? Me and my loved ones.  No matter what platitudes are mouthed, this was and is personal.  November is Epilepsy Awareness month.  I usually post one blog post about it, and post several facts and awareness tidbits throughout the month on my personal Facebook feed.  I’ll stop now.  It doesn’t matter anymore.  Awareness doesn’t mean shit when the country just voted for my daughter to lose her healthcare in two and a half years, when she turns 18.  We can’t afford her meds out of pocket, let alone hospitalizations, testing, doctor visits.  I have friends who voted for this.  Were they unable to separate the facts of insurance premiums rising because of the greed of the insurance companies from the ACA? Prayers are lovely, and many believe they are powerful, but they don’t replace rescue meds when your kid is turning blue in front of you.  I don’t know, but don’t anyone dare tell me, my daughter, my Latino family, this wasn’t personal.

Maybe you’re lucky enough not to have to think about the ACA because no one in your family has preexisting conditions.  That’s wonderful for you, I’m not so lucky. Maybe you/your loved ones weren’t worried about the ACA because you/your loved ones have Medicaid.  How nice for you, I can only hope Medicaid and Medicare aren’t targeted right after the ACA, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Don’t tell me you have respect for women, believe in equal rights, when we’ve just supported a man who values women only for their secondary sex characteristics; when we just green lighted sexual assault.

Don’t tell me you care about education, when we supported a man who loves the poorly educated.

Don’t cry about your child being bullied, when we just voted into office the poster boy for bullies.

Don’t tell me you care about the differently abled, when we just elected a man who sees nothing wrong with mocking those who are different, and of course, the aforementioned gleeful plans to repeal the ACA.

Don’t tell me how this was a pushback against the elite, when Donald Trump personifies the elite.

Don’t tell me about hope for tomorrow, when we just chose the ignorance of the past.

Most of all, don’t talk about them.  It was the death grip of us vs them mentality that brought us here.  And no, I don’t mean only those who are afraid of people of color, or women, or the LGBTQ community. I include those who refused to see this as a real possibility and consequence, those who dug into “us” with unrelenting toothless trailer trash jokes.  America is a big country; when we talk about different lifestyles and acceptance that cannot just be code for left leaning ideals, it is real.

I saw a comment earlier, bemoaning this result, listing all the reasons it makes no sense and is frightening that Trump has been elected.  Included in that list? Melania Trump’s nudity.  Yeah, this is why we have all lost, and lost before the votes were tallied. Nudity? Not important.

This is us.  Greedy, fearful, easily distracted by a thin patina of gold and flashing lights.

I am in mourning.

 

 

 

Fundamental

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) around 1570, "The Flaying of Marsyas"

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) around 1570, “The Flaying of Marsyas”

I was going to do a Part II post of our trip to The Met Breuer, but I’m going to do a bit of navel gazing instead.  I’ll use a couple of the photos I took for something else that’s been on my mind.  Recently I’ve heard and seen quite a few people referencing the concept of “fundamentally good.”  As in, human beings are fundamentally good, love conquers all, good always triumphs over evil, etc.  On both small (personal) and large (nations, international) scales.  I’m…not so sure of that.  Not saying human beings are fundamentally evil, or “bad,” but fundamentally flawed? Maybe.  Look at a close up of the face from this painting, close to 500 years old:

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Do you recognize it?  That stare has been all over the news recently.  Here. And it’s been here. Without war, here. No stare, but a story that’s yet to end here. I could go on, find 50 more examples without effort, but you get the point.  I know I could just as easily find photos of hope and affirmation, and that’s why I don’t believe we’re fundamentally evil.  But flawed? Yes.

As I type, there are about 1300 people, asylum seekers, including 50 children, being held in detention sites off the coast of Australia, in Nauru and Manus Island.  Naturally, many horrific photos have recently come out of there.  Crimes against humanity.  Feeling smug, Americans? Don’t. And a little history.

A few months back, Donald Trump said he could look Syrian children (refugees) in the face and tell them they can’t come here.  Because safety. And possibility, and terrorists.  I’m certain I’ve read this story before.  Oh gee, Trump has no compassion for others but a hyuuuuge sense of otherness.  Yawn.  Trump, his beliefs, his greed, not the issue.  The issue is how many, and how many in positions of power and authority, support him and his ideas.  How many voted for him, and will vote for him in November.

Is this current election cycle truly shocking, when we pull our heads out of the sand and look at history, both recent and ancient?  Is the photo of 5 year old Omran Daqneesh (the little boy in the first link) truly shocking?  Is it shocking to see the headlines about last week’s disastrous flooding in Louisiana are focused on which politicians (and political wannabes) have gone to visit and when, whether or not the displaced are getting first page coverage or third?

It is our human flaws that allow these things to occur.  It is our human flaws that make us interesting. It is our human flaws that prompt us to strive for more, for better.  But it’s our denial of these fundamental flaws, our insistence on not only closing our eyes but obscuring our vision and differences that keep us stuck, repeating history.

Anton Raphael Mengs, 1775, "Portrait of Mariana de Silva y Sarmiento, Duquesa de Huescar"

Anton Raphael Mengs, 1775, “Portrait of Mariana de Silva y Sarmiento, Duquesa de Huescar”

 

Imaginary Friends

Mystery flower. I've got a whole container of these very real flowers, planted by an imaginary gardener.  Or the seeds dropped by the bluejay who comes to visit.

Mystery flower. I’ve got a whole container of these, planted by an imaginary gardener.

We all have those friends, who you meet and connect with, where within a short time you can’t imagine your life if you hadn’t met–but you know life would have been different; poorer, tea from a twice-used tea bag.  I have a garden of friends like those, a veritable field of wildflowers, though most of our shared tears, laughter, arguments, and wine have been cyber in nature.

I hate those memes that go around, the articles about clever art installations mocking our dependence on the internet and smartphones.  Do we miss the point, the moment, are we hiding behind our keyboards?  Maybe, sometimes.  But often we’re connecting, building new friendships and learning about points of view we wouldn’t otherwise see.  Those memes dismiss the relationships, the access to viewpoints and information that broaden our worlds.  They negate the very real support.

My first full online experience  was a forum where I met other parents dealing with the same issues as I was, asking the same questions, feeling the same fears and frustrations, laughing at the same gallows humor, sharing dreams, hopes, denial and acceptance.  Equally important were the adults I met in that forum who themselves had the disorder.  Also asking questions, sharing information, making jokes and living their lives.  If memory serves, before then my internet experience was limited to brief jaunts with Ask Jeeves.  Since then, I’ve been a member of several online communities with various special interests, and made some friends along the way in all of them.  But that first forum was special.  What a shock it was for me to discover not all forums were as wonderfully accepting and supportive, with statements carefully phrased so as not to be misconstrued and questions framed to help gather information, not attack.

Maybe the stars were aligned and the moon was in the seventh house, I don’t know.  What I do know is that we formed a tight, tight group that remains intact to this day, though none of us actually use that forum anymore.  We’ve supported each other through medical tests, diagnoses, hospitalizations, dance recitals, IEP meetings, divorces, jobs, life.  We’ve discussed fears of seizures being misinterpreted by overenthusiastic and undereducated police.  Many of us have been fortunate enough to meet a few face to face.  Imaginary friends who send real gifts, offer real advice, real laughter, provide an army of support to each other though various challenges.

Our children are ours.  Face to face or not, we’ve cheered successes and cried over setbacks, we’ve watched each other’s children grow.  Our online village.  Our community, not dissimilar to being a member of any minority group.  But not all of our children grow up.  Some have children that mature and leave home, some have children that will never be independent.   A few have children who have died, or will die.  Sometimes this is known well in advance, sometimes not.  We lost one of ours this weekend.  I’m not specifically close with this mom, she isn’t one of the women I formed a relationship with over and above our common bond, but her daughter was one of ours.

Imagine SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, what used to be called crib death) being a risk forever.  Imagine a life where there is no age where the doctor says you don’t have to worry about that for your child anymore.  In our world that’s called SUDEP (Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy).  Certainly not a common risk, but one that’s all too real.  I’m tempted to say it’s the fear and knowledge of SUDEP that brought our group so close together, but I don’t think so.  Many of us didn’t even know this existed until we were years into our common journey.

Imaginary friends?  Maybe, but much like the mysterious life in my planter, the flowers that have bloomed, flowers of laughter, love, tears, and mourning–are very real.

Rest in peace, sweet girl.

 

 

Deeply Saddened

Because the heart of America is broken and bleeding.

Because the heart of America is broken and bleeding.

I remember clearly the first time the phrase “deeply saddened” came to my mind in response to an atrocity.  It was 1999, and in Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, two students slaughtered 12 classmates, 1 teacher, injured 24 people, and then killed themselves.  At the time it was so shocking, so hideous, I couldn’t stand to watch the news or stay in the apartment; I took (then a baby) Nerd Child and went up the street to the preschool Man Child had attended.  I stood there with the director and teachers, all of us crying silently while we watched the little ones playing on the rooftop.  (NY, you make play spaces where you can.)

Deeply saddened.  When the loss is so huge, so shocking, nonsensical yet calculated, it feels deeper than a personal tragedy; a public loss we all share and mourn, yet feeling we’re powerless in the face of it, and what we feel doesn’t scratch the surface of those whose loss is personal, those who lost children and family members, spouses, friends and teachers.

In the 17 years that have passed since then, it feels like there have been many occasions when I have found myself deeply saddened by a no-longer-extraordinary mass shooting here in America:  Virginia Tech, Virginia, Binghamton, New York, Fort Hood, Texas, Sandy Hook, Connecticut, Washington Navy Yard, Washington DC, Charleston, South Carolina, San Bernardino, California, and now Orlando, Florida.  This is by no means a complete and comprehensive list of mass shootings here in the US, nor does it include any slaughters that came before Columbine: Edmond, Oklahoma, Killeen, Texas, San Ysidro, California–to name a few “big” ones.  Hell, I think the largest mass killing of this type was back in 1857 in Mountain Meadows, Utah.

By the time Sandy Hook occurred, maybe the “shock” of the targets being children so young, I was tilting from deeply saddened to furious.  And now, with this most recent mass shooting in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, 50 dead and 53 injured, I’m still sad, I’m still angry, but I’m sure as shit not shocked.  That this occurred in an LGBT nightclub during Pride Month?  Not shocked.  How can anyone pretend to be?  Look at my (incomplete) lists above.  Children, teens, young adults, adults, black, white, asian, latino, gay, straight, rural, suburban, urban, elementary schools, high schools, colleges, churches, post offices, immigration centers, motherfucking military bases.  If the list of victims, perpetrators and locations is so scattered, the only answer is to find the common theme.

Yeah, I’m going there.  I know, many will see this and roll their eyes, “it’s too soon!” “Mrs Fringe is politicizing a tragedy!”  It cannot be too soon when we know the next mass shooting is only a matter of time.  And this is a political tragedy.  A tragedy of policy, when we live in a country that refuses to enact stricter gun control laws, a country that has in place a congressional ban on gun violence research (renewed, by the way, immediately after 9 people were killed inside a Charleston church), when we know most of these slaughters occurred with legally obtained weapons by people who should never have been able to obtain guns if we had any collective common sense.  Obviously, at this point we, as a nation, have accepted that next time it could be us personally, our children, our loved ones, and we’ve decided we’re ok with that.  Oh sure, we’ll hold vigils and wail, offer prayers and tweets and gnash our teeth–if it’s really a big number killed we’ll even apply an appropriately colored, somber overlay onto our Facebook profile pictures.

Many of us have had personal tragedies, upheaval or illnesses in our lives that have caused us to accept a new normal.  Well, mass shootings are our not-so-new normal here in the US.  The NRA–hell, friends of mine–will be defensive, certain of their right to mourn alongside the rest of us and those who lost loved ones this weekend.  They’ll mean it.  Most of those I know who are against sensible gun control will genuinely be saddened by this most recent tragedy–maybe even deeply.  They’ll hold up the shooter’s history of hate, insanity and domestic violence as “proof” that we need more guns.  Above all they’ll point to the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms as sacred, not to be contained, controlled, or god forbid tampered with above all else.  Above all else.  Above:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among those are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.   ~~Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, 1776

1776 was a long time ago.  As a country, as a world we have grown, changed, and advanced so much it makes no sense at all to apply the guidelines written then as a document to be followed to the letter now.  We know it, but it’s inconvenient.  So much easier to be reactionary and defensive, luxuriate in the righteousness of our greed and mourning, to cry, Patriotism! while accepting our new normal.  It is greed when our elected officials put the contributions of gun lobbyists and their interests over those of their constituents.  When we continue to elect and support those officials, we, as a people, are validating that greed.

Even in Fringeland, we’ve been down this road and I’ve written about this subject too many times before.  Some will read this or other pieces better written with more facts than mine, and they’ll point to other nations.  Hold up as proof of America’s greatness charts of violent death rates by country, point to how far down the list we are, how many more are killed by violence in Columbia, Honduras, Somalia, etc.  Is that the type of comparison that makes sense, that we want?  These are nations shredded by internal strife, wars civil and otherwise, ruled by poverty and desperation.  They’ll point to statistics on crime and shout that criminals have guns, so we all should.  No, the answer to gun violence is not more guns.  They’ll then say we will not be able to eradicate all guns, so we shouldn’t eliminate any.  I can’t even follow the intended logic on that one.  We continue to fund disease research and treatments, even as we know we cannot eradicate all disease.  They’ll say the CDC cannot conduct studies on gun violence because guns are not a disease.  I call bullshit.

I won’t begin quoting statistics, they’re everywhere this morning.  I will say that yesterday, while we were watching the antics of blustering politicians on Twitter, and crying as we watched the horrific scene outside of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, I saw another “small” story come up.  This one local, not too many stops away on the train.  A young mother of three was shot to death on a playground, protecting her children. 

Gun violence is a disease in America, and mass shootings are the weeping of our bleeding hearts.

Cost of a Nickel

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Here we are. Again.  I debated whether or not to post about the current protests in Baltimore in response to the death of Freddie Gray.  It’s all over the news and social media, lots of people with a better grasp of the nuances than I are already covering it.  It’s exhausting, it’s embarrassing, and it’s too important to ignore.

Once again, we are consumed with the death of a young Black man who died while in police custody.  This is not new.  I’d say we’re drowning in it, but we aren’t–and we should be.  Mr. Gray saw the police cruising by, reportedly made eye contact, and he ran.  He was arrested, dragged into the back of a police vehicle, and then while handcuffed, in between the arrest and arriving at the police station–some 45 minutes later– somehow his spine was broken and he was paralyzed, a week after that he was dead from those injuries.

It’s known as a “nickel ride,” when handcuffed suspects in custody are thrown into the back of a police van, not secured/seatbelted (itself against the law), and then the vehicle is driven in a particularly rough manner, so the person is thrown around with no way to brace themselves.  We know this isn’t new because of the name for it, a reference to when a ride on a creaky wooden roller coaster was five cents.  To ride the Cyclone in Coney Island now costs $9.00.  When the Cyclone opened in 1927, a ride cost twenty-five cents.  So yeah, not new.

The news and social media is currently filled with photos and video clips of rioting in Baltimore.  As telling and mysterious as Freddie Gray’s broken spinal cord is that the news wasn’t filled with photos and videos of the protests before the violence began, and isn’t filled with photos and videos of the thousands who are protesting peacefully.

This isolated incident isn’t isolated.  We, as members of a greater community that purports itself to be vested in equality–equal opportunity–need to look at why and how violence continues to erupt. Violence in these arrests from those charged with keeping the peace, and violence born from frustration with generations of inequality, lack of opportunity, and lack of response to peaceful protests.  And fear.  Lots of fear from all angles.  Judgements, proposed solutions, and decisions made from fear are never going to offer true progress and resolution. Instead of tsk tsking the anger shown in these clips and mindlessly accepting all that’s shown as all there is, we, as consumers of media, need to look more closely at what hasn’t been highlighted, what isn’t being shown.

Like most others I know, I don’t agree with or condone rioting.  I can’t help but wonder, if no one condones it, no one wants it, and we’re all filled with mourning and solidarity and the Kumbayahness of peaceful protest, how come no more than a few in the mainstream were speaking out and airing videos before there was footage of flames?

Not So Great Escape

I left this view,

Bricks, bars, and concrete, just a hint of green.

Bricks, bars, and concrete, just a hint of green.

and this mourning pup

If she could, she'd be dressing herself in black from head to tail.

If she could, she’d be dressing herself in black from head to tail.

And spent a couple of days looking at this view

Pool!

Pool!

Ok, maybe it’s true that an overnight in the suburbs with Art Child isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I imagined a vacation this summer, but I take what I can get.  I needed to get out of the city, away from the waiting and waiting to hear about the apartment, because I’m a peasant.  And apparently peasants aren’t worthy of timely responses, regardless of how much money is involved. And a couple of days of laughter with friends are always a good thing.  Besides, look what I got to snack on while poolside

Blackberries!

Blackberries!

once I valiantly fought off this guy

Ok, I waited for him to finish and fly away, but I was still brave.

Ok, I waited for him to finish and fly away, but I was still brave.

I floated in the pool, felt my freckles multiply, and watched Art Child turn blue having a great time

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Don't be silly, I don't sub skate, but it makes an excellent flotation device.

Don’t be silly, I don’t sub skate, but it makes an excellent flotation device.

Mr and Mrs Smitholini and I had dinner outside, and had a visit from a neighboring family.

Mr and Mrs Tick dropped by

Mr and Mrs Tick dropped by

with their children, Lyme and Disease

with their children, Lyme and Disease

The four legged members of the household were particularly happy for the company.

She let the guests know exactly where they should go

She let the guests know exactly where they should go

while he watched her

while he watched her

and he wished they would both stfu and let him enjoy his massage.

and he wished they would both stfu and let him enjoy his massage.

Later in the evening, Mr. Chic–artist and model extraordinaire, third born of the Smitholinis, about to return to his art college– gave Art Child a trim.  Her bangs are now perfect, she is beyond thrilled, and all is right with the world.

The following morning, I tried to snap photos of the bluejays chasing each other from tree to tree, but they were too damned fast.  IMG_1885 IMG_1905On the way home, we stopped in a new to us fish store, where Mrs Smitholini and I drooled over the gorgeous and healthy fish and coral.  They even had frag tanks with very reasonably priced pieces (“frags” are fragments of coral reef colonies, a more budget friendly option than buying entire colonies for your tank, not to mention the thrill of watching a tiny frag thrive and grow into a colony in your very own slice of the ocean).  I had a long chat with the manager about the latest in LED fixtures for the best coral growth, and then, in the back, I found they had the tank of my dreams.  THE tank.  80 gallons of shallow reef goodness.  I inspected the glass, the silicone, inspected the cabinet under the tank, climbed a ladder and peered into the back chambers.  Mrs Smitholini stopped me from actually climbing into the tank.  She’s always been my voice of reason.

 

What Year is This Again?

NYC: Liberty Island - Statue of Liberty

NYC: Liberty Island – Statue of Liberty (Photo credit: wallyg)

I can’t even gather my words into a coherent rant, it’s more of a splutter.  A few days ago I read about this case in Indiana. In all honesty, at first I couldn’t read the article all the way through.  It’s like opening your front door and seeing something so terrifying, so shocking, your reaction is to slam the door shut, flip all the locks and put the chain on.  But you know it’s there, and know it’s only going to gain traction and strength if you don’t open the door again to confront it.

The bottom line, a man in Indiana was drugging and raping his wife for at least three years. She found video clips of this on his phone and pressed charges.  Good for her!  She did the right thing.  No excuses, no taking the law into her own hands.  Prosecutors did the right thing, asked for forty years in prison.  He was convicted of six felony charges, and sentenced to twenty years.  Here’s the part that makes my heart drop to my bowels:  He won’t be spending any time in prison.  Twelve years were suspended, and he will spend eight years in home confinement.  Why?  Because it was up to the judge.  A judge who told the victim she should forgive her attacker.

On a smaller scale, let me ask why?  Why does she need to forgive him?  What was done to her was immoral, illegal, unconscionable. Still, in my opinion she showed incredible strength of character by leaving him (so many women feel trapped, afraid and embarrassed in abusive situations they don’t have that strength), and by pressing charges.  On a larger scale, how can this sentence be allowed to stand under the guise of justice?

More than why, how?  How can this be?  How can any judge think this is ok, and where are our leaders to say, “Hey! This can NOT happen in a country that is supposed to be about equality and justice for all.”  Anyone who reads Mrs Fringe knows I lean left. But this isn’t about left or right.  It’s about assault, it’s about treating women as property.  Men and women in positions of authority should be speaking out about this, in my opinion.  Especially the women.  So where are you, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Oprah Winfrey, Jill Abramson, Janet Napolitano, Indra Nooyi, Ursula Burns, Diane Sawyer, Arianna Huffington, Melinda Gates, Ann Coulter–how about Lady Gaga?  There are many strong, powerful women in positions of authority in this country.  Apparently not enough.

That this woman was drugged and assaulted repeatedly over a period of years is sad and infuriating, but not shocking.  Again, horrifying for her (and her children!), but it shouldn’t represent anything grand. There are fucked up people in this world who do fucked up things, maybe I’m cynical, but I believe this will always be the case.  But this end result, this judge’s ruling does represent something.  It illustrates all too clearly there is someone in this country in a position of power and authority who believes wives are chattel.   That judge is an elected official–that tells me there is more than one someone who believes this.

According to this article in the NY Daily News, the judge told the woman to move on.  Maybe she could, if attitudes were different.

Sarcophagus of Crying Women

Sarcophagus of Crying Women (Photo credit: voyageAnatolia.blogspot.com)

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Today

I went here

and my head exploded at seeing the ride on mower in the quiet zone.

and my head exploded at seeing the mower in the quiet zone.

And I wore this

Turtle.

Turtle.

And I brought these

Green for turtles, green for mitochondrial disorders.

Green for turtles, green for mitochondrial disorders.

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And then I did this

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When I arrived, there was a homeless man playing guitar next to the Imagine mosaic.  There’s always someone there singing and or playing.  But usually, they’re singing Imagine.  Today, as I walked past, he was playing and singing Let It Be, the song Nerd Child played and sang at my mother’s funeral.

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I did this in honor of an exceptionally brave little warrior.  Friends across the country released balloons or planted bulbs to show support, respect, love, and mourn with a friend when we couldn’t be with her in person.

While I was in Strawberry Fields releasing balloons; a friend, along with her husband and her daughter, was laying her six year old son to rest many miles away.  Too soon, too short, too heartbreaking.  Mitochondrial disease is something that most people have never heard of, but those who know it, know it all too well.  It’s an umbrella term, the name covering many sub-disorders, but all affect multiple systems of the body.  The mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cells, bringing oxygen, converting food to fuel and energy. Some forms of mito disease are more aggressive than others, and different people are affected to varying degrees.  There is no cure, not much in the way of treatment, and understanding of mito diseases is really in its infancy.

I’ve never met this friend in person, never met her son, but I know her, knew him, wept for every setback and cheered for every discharge from the hospital.  I’ve already blogged about online friendships, how very real many of them are.  But some have a depth I have no words for.  Medical needs moms, special needs moms, the communities and friendships developed are invaluable and indescribable.

Mito sucks, epilepsy sucks, cystic fibrosis sucks, cancer sucks, neuro-transmitter disorders suck, von willebrand’s disease sucks, CDKL 5 sucks, all the assorted disorders rare and otherwise that most-people-can’t-even-name-the-color-of-the-ribbon suck.  But the friendships, the support?  Beautiful, pure, sometimes gut wrenching and always filled with love.

Rest in peace, sweet boy.

Someday

I can do a lot of dreaming looking at this photo, how about you? ~Mrs F

I can do a lot of dreaming looking at this photo, how about you? ~Mrs F

Late August.  Time for the annual panic, “oh no, the school year’s about to start.”  I’ve been walking around saying this summer has felt particularly odd because of the cool weather.  Lies.

Summer is just never long enough for me.  If it isn’t cool temps, it’s temps that are too hot, or too rainy, or too many obligations or too many deaths.  Just not enough, which is an old and familiar song for me.  The theme of much of my writing, the guilty chorus that whispers about my parenting, the peek at my word count at the end of each day’s writing session, the ever ready want of more.

The other day I went with Nerd Child and Flower Child to my godson’s Eagle Scout ceremony.  Induction?  I don’t know, scouts aren’t a big thing here in Manhattan.  My suburban friends reassure me that scouting exists here in the city, but I’ve never met any beyond a small, half hearted cub scout group when Man Child was in 1st grade, disbanded by Christmas.

Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges

Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges (Photo credit: honus)

 

It was very sweet–though I know better than to use the word sweet in relation to an almost seventeen year old boy– and made me feel old and nostalgic.  We took the train to Brooklyn and the Scout’s grandmother, where I sat with my kids on her couch in the living room I spent hours in as a teenager.  Not too many people from my past have stayed in Brooklyn, let alone the same house, so it was very alternate reality feeling.  We met up with a friend and traveled the rest of the way to Long Island.  There I saw more friends, and watched my kids goof around with theirs, and felt the absence of a good friend’s son who passed away last summer.

Obviously more goes into the Eagle Scout thing than I understand, Godson and parents were very, very proud. Local politicians and reps attended and gave brief speeches and congratulations.  A snapshot of a lovely moment.

I also missed Man Child.  Between boarding school and college he’s been away a lot, and I did get to see him this summer, but he’s already back in the dorm.  This is the first time he hasn’t come home to be “home” over a break, and it’s damned weird.

Kind of maudlin today, aren’t I?  Did get to the beach with Flower Child yesterday, which felt good, but didn’t quite recharge me in the way I had hoped.  A family of three, two parents and a little girl of about 4 years old settled next to us.  I couldn’t believe the amount of shit they had with them for two hours at the beach.  Six towels, two large shade umbrellas, three huge bags of toys, sunscreen, and snacks: three people.  The little girl was covered neck to calves in one of those bathing suit/lycra sun coverall things.  I swear Flower Child and I saw bathing suits that looked just like it in the museum last year, what women wore at the turn of the twentieth century. This was not a fair skinned family, but you would think they were albino (am I politically incorrect, is there a more current term?) with the amount of sunscreen they slathered on.  I’m not going to mention their little disagreement with the lifeguards about the safety of their sweet pea, and the rule against life jackets/swimmies in the ocean.  I know it seems counterintuitive to the Backyard Pool crowd, but really.  Big waves, riptides, small children, you don’t want them at all out of reach and where they can’t safely stand.

I know we’re all so much safer than previous generations, fewer kids will find themselves in the dermatologist’s office with a skin cancer diagnosis, but widespread Vitamin D deficiencies weren’t a thing when I was using baby oil and iodine instead of SPF 8000, either.

Listened to Creedance Clearwater Revival on the way home, remembered when that was my favorite beach music.  When I had to turn the tape over it was time to flip and freckle my other side.  I used to work odd hours, at the time I lived in South Brooklyn and worked in either Manhattan or downtown Brooklyn.  In the summer, if I was working overnights I’d leave work and head straight for the beach, get a few hours of sleep and sun before heading home to eat, nap, and go back to work.  Swing shifts, I’d get up early, get on the train and go back to sleep on the beach, leaving just enough time to shower before work.   Thinking a lot about those days as I work on Astonishing, tapping into those old work experiences and certainties that I would, when I was ready, be a published author.

It’s ok, you can laugh, there was no internet then to tell me that isn’t how it works.