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The verdict in the molestation trial of Jerry Sandusky is in: Guilty.

I read Yahoo Sports writer Dan Wetzel’s article just after breakfast. His previous articles about the case have been fair and shown no bias, which in itself marks him as an excellent journalist, particularly in the sports universe, which often rushed to the defense of its heroes and legends when their worthiness is challenged. With this article, it was as if Mr. Wetzel had let a dam burst. There is no mistaking his personal feelings about this case. And I admire him for expressing them.

I am glad that Sandusky’s victims have found some justice. What happened to them can never be undone, and has left permanent scars but perhaps this gives them an opportunity to live somewhat more peacefully with those scars, knowing their stories have been told, and believed. They have been vindicated.

My own reaction to this verdict has fascinated me. This man is guilty. And yet, somehow, when I read the verdict, I felt a strum of guilt, sorrow, and doubt in myself. Like my childhood self remembering how I must have been mistaken about what was happening, how I should respect and pity my abuser, how it was me that was crazy, not him – not an old grandfatherly figure.  Shit.

This has stirred up a lot of stuff for me. How we protect our abusers by our silence, and how we are mentally manipulated by them so that the concept of right and wrong is twisted into something like a cheap candelabra pulled from the ruins of an incredibly hot fire.

I am not one to revel in the misfortunes of others, even when they brought those misfortunes – and this guilty verdict – upon themselves. Perhaps I should find more peace in justice. Perhaps part of my own issue is that my abuser died before I (or anyone else) could confront him. And his sins died with him, except in the minds and souls of those others (and I’m sure there were other, not just me) that he abused. There was no justice there.

I guess I will have to think on this some more.

The fact that my Mother had Alzheimer’s when she died niggles at my swiss-cheesy brain sometimes.

I have always said that I have a mind like a steel sieve, especially since that unfortunate head injury on Easter Sunday some 20 years ago. (Only Tug, the best dog in the universe, was there to witness it, and he took my secret to the Rainbow Bridge.) But sometimes, I am more aware of my inability to retain things than at other times.  It’s been an interesting adjustment for MKL, who has the memory of an elephant (and elephants have 10 1/2 pound brains with large, multiple-fold temporal lobes). He must be frustrated by the apparent empty space between my ears.  He’s a grand storyteller, and often says, “Do you remember when I told you about….” or “I think I shared with you….”  My unfortunate response is (way too often) “I don’t remember that!”  On the plus side, it means that most things are new over and over again, and for me, that’s okay. But I do hate that it seems like I haven’t been listening to him, because I have. I love love love his voice. And his stories.

While I have grown comfortable with my forgetfulness, my brain is offering up a new twist lately – mistaking words.  For example, on a Comcast commercial tonight, they were advertising a “Multilatino” package for those viewers who wish to see more channels in Spanish.  I saw that word and read it as “Mutilatinos” – as in a combination of the words “mutilated” and “latinos” – which is awful all by itself.

And here’s another example. In that first paragraph, where I was talking about elephants? I originally wrote “elephone”. And where I wrote elephants? I wrote “elephonats”.  It’s corrected now, but seriously….WTF?

This is just the most recent example of something that seems to happen to me all the time.

And while this one is not my fault, it is one of my current favorites.

I prefer my wi-fi to have bacon. Actually, I prefer everything to have bacon.

These days, if I’m going to comment on something, or read it aloud, I always make sure I do a double-take before I say anything. Better safe than stupid. Or with a besocked foot in my mouth. Either way.

This could just be a normal aging thing, like my increasing tendency to look for my sunglasses when they are on my head, or double checking to be sure I’m still wearing earrings – both of which, now that I write that, indicate that perhaps I am just unconsciously checking to be sure that my head is still attached. I’m not ruling that out.

As I am within licking distance of the half-century mark, I wonder if this is more of a problem or a symptom, than a quirk. I’m pretty sure I should start journaling in a more detailed fashion, and doing crossword puzzles. That’s what seemed to keep my Mom’s brain clicking. Not Sudoku, though, because not only do I not know how to pronounce it, it makes me want to shoot everything in sight. Not good.

Of course, I can’t recall any more recent incidents even though they happen often (there’s some irony for you, huh?)  Which doesn’t make for as interesting post as if I did remember them. But you get what you get.

So what about you? Are you “of a certain age”? Do you have similar word foibles? Don’t worry, share away…I most likely won’t remember.

I wasn’t around for Pearl Harbor. Unbelievably, I’m not that old. But my parents equated their feelings about 9/11 with the feelings they experienced when they heard about Pearl Harbor. My father was unable to serve, so my first-hand experience of World War II is non-existent.

Almost.

Years ago, when I was a road warrior for work, I spent a lot of time in New York City.  On one visit, I had a string of meetings with ad agencies on December 7. I liked (and still do like) to create quintessential experiences for myself wherever I go, and so at the end of a long day, I decided to go have an experience at Sardi’s.

For those of you who don’t know it, Sardi’s is a classic restaurant in the Theatre District. It’s one of those places that you can go for a late supper after the show lets out. Known for the hundreds of caricatures of celebrities lining the walls of the dining room, Sardi’s has been a Broadway institution for 90 years. I considered it my duty to experience it firsthand, so on a chill December twilight, I made my way under the flashing neon and the burgundy awning, through the mahogany and glass doors with their brass kickplate, and into a slice of history.

The dining room was quiet so early in the evening, so I headed upstairs to the bar, which was bustling. I ordered a martini and stood back a bit, watching, gauging the energy of the people clustered together chatting. But not for long. The folks were welcoming and social and I was almost immediately included in conversations with people who seemed to have known the place forever.

There was a very drunk elderly woman, garbed in exquisitely pure white, complete with turban, wearing way too much makeup and hanging onto an extremely handsome young Brazilian man.  She was somehow related to the New York Times family, and we had a long chat. She kindly bought me another martini, and when she had excused herself to powder her nose, the Brazilian gentleman slipped me his card – thick, cream-colored, embossed with his name.  He was her kept man – her Giglio, he explained with pride. But if I required anything, he was sure he could get away, and she wouldn’t mind. How…. kind.  He was really quite charming, discrete and nice about it all. And I declined, in case you were wondering.

There was a small circle of old-school newspaper reporters who enjoyed complaining as much as they enjoyed drinking, which was quite a lot, and seeing as how I was a fresh ear, they bought me another martini and regaled me with tales about their long careers.

And then there was the final little circle of elderly gentlemen.  About six of them. They were all Pearl Harbor survivors. They met at Sardi’s every year, coming from around the country on December 7 to celebrate life, loss, patriotism, and victories large and small.  Two of them had overcome cancer.  Others had lost spouses, children, careers. But all were proud of their own survival, their own tenacious hold on life.  They told me stories – where they had been, what it had been like, how they had felt.  Tears were shed. After a couple more martinis for all – I bought them a round – they made me an honorary member of their unit and asked me to promise to come back the next year. They would be there.  I was honored. And I was proud to have been able to meet them all.

I did not make it back next year. In fact, I never made it back. But December 7 never passes without my recalling those men and that night.  I’m fairly sure that their number has dwindled, perhaps to nothing. Nevertheless, I am with them in spirit tonight, wherever they are.

(And after that many martinis, I had dinner with an ex-boyfriend and his wife, and spent the evening pretending that I spoke broken English with a charming French accent when the waiter was around, much to his amusement and her displeasure. I think the old boys would have gotten a kick out of it.)

 

Photo title: For My Mother, Who Loved Trees

Big Island, Hawaii.

Today is my Mother’s birthday, and I miss her, but I know she’s having a marvelous time wherever she is.

Quote of the day: “Don’t grieve. Everything you lose comes around in another form.”  –  Rumi

Daily gratitudes:
My mother
San Pellegrino
Down pillows
Being able to work from home when I am under the weather
Little leaf tornados
Thai food for a troubled tummy

I have 318 draft posts in the stomach of this blog.

318. That’s getting close to a post for every day of the year (just in case you couldn’t intuit that for yourself.)

But here’s the thing:

I have no idea what some of them are about.

Like most writers, my inspirations do not always strike at the most convenient times – like when I’m sitting down at a keyboard or with a journal and a pen.  So I do what all writers do. I write down whatever I can wherever I can. Because I know I won’t remember it by the time I get to the “writing place”. I can’t even remember the five-item grocery list that I’ve been reciting to myself ceaselessly for an hour – even going so far as to make up a little song as a memory aid – if I walk into King Soopers and am distracted by the shopping carts being stuck together.  Poof!  The list is gone, just like the outline of a cloud. I will, however, remember, while sitting in a meeting at work sixteen hours later, that I forgot to buy lemon juice.

This lack of total recall translates into several things:

1.   I have a dozen notebooks going at once.

2.   Even so, I don’t always have one with me. When I need one and no current notebook is handy, I find (or buy) a new one.

3.   If no notebook at all is available, I use whatever I have to write on – bills, receipts, dry cleaning tickets, my hand.

4.   I can’t throw anything away because it might have a precious nugget of creativity on it (though I do wash my hands). Kelsea is going to have to save everything so she can piece together my memoirs after I am famous and dead.

5.   I am a menace on the road, because it is very hard to write while driving.

6.   Sometimes my notes make no sense at all.

Many of my post drafts are just a title.  If it’s a brilliant enough idea to be a post and to have a title, surely the title will trigger that same waterfall of creativity about the topic.  Wouldn’t one think? Well, one would be wrong.

Take, for example, a post drafted in February 2011 with the title “George and Jennie”.

I don’t know anyone named Jennie. And I only know one George. Maybe something about Winston Churchill’s mother? I tried googling “George and Jennie” – maybe it was something an old movie stirred up, or something inspired by NPR’s StoryCorps series.  I often find that those spark the creative kindling.

The only thing I came up with was a couple named George and Jennie in Fayetteville, West Virginia, who mysteriously lost five of their children after their house caught fire back in 1945. Now, this does sound like something I would actually write about, but I know in my heart that I have never heard of this tale before, nor was it at all related to whatever my post was going to be about.

So I guess my George and Jennie post is as much as mystery as what happened to the five children sixty years ago (not to minimize the tragedy).  It will likely come back to me one day while I am petting a random dog or rock-climbing or changing cat litter. Most likely at a time when no writing resources are available.

Some draft posts are titleless and contain nothing but a few choice phrases. Opening those is like opening a present – I have no idea what I’m going to find inside. But those are the ones that, when the spirit moves me, I can whip into a literary frenzy and complete with relish (and mustard, if that’s your preference). Those drafts are easier to work with.

Many potential posts dwell in my notebooks as well, lists of them.  I often say to Kelsea, “I should write a post about that,” and she’ll say, “You should.” I treat her as my back-up brain – two days later, I’ll ask her,”What was that great idea I had for a post when we were watching Jersey Shore?” Sometimes she can remember, but sometimes she can’t.  Darn unreliable back-up brains.

The notebooks contain nearly finished pieces, but unfortunately, they’re in the notebooks.  And that’s often where they stay. Which is why Kelsea is going to have to keep everything that I have ever written on.  Half-baked (as opposed to fully cooked) posts will also dwell for eternity on neatly lined pages if they take longer than a bus ride to finish.  However, few of them – this one, for example – will, like a single-minded and determined sperm, make it to the promised land.  But only a very few.

A draft is defined as “a preliminary version of a piece of writing” or, if you ask Mr. Webster online, “an instance of drinking”.  I think for a lot of writers, there’s little distinction between the two.  Just ask Hemingway. But at the end of the day, as I contemplate my 318+ drafts, I’m certainly inspired to drink a toast to them, and to all that someday-to-be-tapped creativity.

Photo title: Permanent Maps

Quote of the day: “We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.”  –  Ursula K. LeGuin

Daily gratitudes:
Tears
The smell of warm asphalt after a light rain
Laughing with my sister
Cranking at work
My vintage earrings

Today’s guest poet –  Maya Angelou

Remembrance

Your hands easy
weight, teasing the bees
hived in my hair, your smile at the
slope of my cheek. On the
occasion, you press
above me, glowing, spouting
readiness, mystery rapes
my reason

When you have withdrawn
your self and the magic, when
only the smell of your
love lingers between
my breasts, then, only
then, can I greedily consume
your presence.

I’ve never had the honor of encountering soldiers as they were actively doing their duty.  I’ve met soldiers on leave, and former soldiers, and Marines, about whom I can never say “former”.  Because once a Marine, always a Marine.  I suppose I am fortunate in never having been in an active war zone, where our fighting men and women were doing their finest to protect me, but I can say in all honesty that I am surely glad to know that they are where they are needed.

So today, I want to take a few moments to acknowledge the soldiers I have known and respected, and in some cases, loved.

My Grandpa.  The source of my earliest memory – a very wise and peaceful man.  He enlisted during WWI (I think), but never saw action due to a most unfortunate accidentally bayonet injury.  If that hadn’t happened, would I even be here?

My Aunt Irene.  She was an army nurse during WWII.  She met her husband in the military, and while he was likely one of the lamest husbands ever, he could kill a chicken by swinging it around above his head, holding it by the neck.  I don’t think that’s much of a recommendation.  He wound up running off with his son’s wife’s mother.  Probably the best thing that ever happened to my aunt.

Norris Woody.  My father’s best friend in the world.  My father wasn’t eligible for the draft, but Woody was and saw action in Germany in WWII.  He brought home some battle souvenirs for my father, who kept them in a trunk in the attic.  I remember that one of them was a captured Nazi flag.  And I remember the day my father found out Woody had died.  We had just gotten back from the beach, and he stood in the kitchen doorway, bracing himself on either side of the doorframe, nearly ashen, and said, “I just realized that I’m not immortal.  Woody is dead.”

John Prince.  A Boulder local for a number of years.  We met in a Laundromat, and somehow, I became the person to whom he told his darkest secrets about his time in Vietnam.  I will not repeat them here.  We only ever saw each other in the Laundromat, and once in Juanita’s.  He was mustachioed and handsome and always wore a cowboy hat, and he was the most polite man I ever met.  Every time we met, he tipped his hat, and called me “Ma’am”.  I never minded being called “Ma’am” by him.  I was always a little swoony for him.  I wonder what ever happened to him.

Stan:  Stan and I never met, but I feel I know him.  I have channeled his recipe for slumgullion, and his picture is in my living room. He served as a doctor in several wars, and I’m not sure he ever found peace in this life, but I think he has in the next place.  And he left a lot of good in this world.

Ex-Pat:  Yes, my ex-husband is a veteran.  He was fortunate enough, when drafted during the Vietnam era, to be sent to Korea, where he was a medic.  And he helped people.  I think it scarred his tender side, perhaps even made him turn away from it forever.  But he is proud of having done his duty, as he should be.

BIL Tom:  Tom was also a Vietnam-era draft, and he wasn’t as lucky as ex-Pat.  He went into the jungles and emerged with a nasty wound from a pongee stick, but he emerged alive.

Jake:  Jake and I dated for a short while.  He too was a Vietnam Vet who carried the mental scars.  He had a horrible fear of snakes, and I learned early not to startle him in his sleep.  His service changed him.  There was much he couldn’t speak of, and he would get emotional when he did.  But his heart was huge.

CJ: Ex-Pat’s best friend for a number of years, he was seriously wounded in Vietnam, and it took him years to recover.  But recover he did.  After knowing him for 25 years, he has never spoken to me of his service or his injuries.

Lyle:  While we have never actually met, we’ve talked for a few months now.  I can sense more about him than I know, and I know he’s spent most of his life tredding in dangerous territory in the Middle East.  He’s saved some lives and watched some be lost, and it has marked him, but he keeps going.  And that is honor.

Captain Buddy:  Buddy epitomizes the “Once a Marine, always a Marine” motto.  He still celebrates the Marine Corps birthday every year with his mates, and I was honored to be his guest at one such celebration.  He too has shared much with me, which will never be discussed with another living soul, and again, he has honored me by trusting me with that knowledge.  He is one of the few people on this planet who I know will always have my back, or “tune someone up” on my behalf.

And last, but never least, my Captain: His service in the Marine Corps was an honor to his country, and the country returned the honor, by helping to care for him during his last illness.  He wouldn’t have stood a fighting chance without his Veteran’s benefits, and he fought as hard as anyone I’ve ever met in his battle to live.  I wish it had been a fight that he’d won – I doubt there were many others that he’d lost.  He would always laugh when I would try to sing the Marine Corps Hymn to him, so I tried it as often as I could during the years we were together.  He had such a great laugh.  He was such a good man.  As he always told me when I was low, “Marines and Risdons never leave a man behind.”  He couldn’t help leaving me behind this time.

So to all you soldiers who have touched my life – and that is all of you, whom I have known or whom I have never met – I thank you on this day in May for your service to our country and to us. 

As long as there is memory, you will never be forgotten.

Photo Title: The View from Olympe

Somewhere in the British Virgin Islands.

Quote of the day: “No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.”  –  Helen Keller

Daily gratitudes
Flea markets
Baby bunnies
Cooking without burning something
Turquoise
The power of bathtubs

 

For The Best

Rain falls outside the Oxford.
It drips off the eaves, like tears.
Sometimes, those tears trickle down my cheeks
on cold, wet days like these
when the future feels hopeless.

Songs are sad.
I droop.
All hope
feels lost.

I remember other nights here.

Love

made
well.

Laughter

well
spent.

And now
when I take a spin by the
fifth floor
I wonder if the ghost I feel
is me.

But the rain falls
harder and harder
on Wazee
as the spring day dims.

And for me,
there is nothing to do
but keep going.

April 2014
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