so much to say and nothing to say

So I’m down here in Trump Country. Covid Country. Florida.

I was nervous to come down here – one, because of traveling and the virus, but two, I was anticipating that the hostility and polarization about masks would be a thousand times more blatant here, in a state such as this, than in my home town.

I was totally wrong. I feel 1,000 times safer in terms of my health down here in the hotspot. Everyone just wears a mask. Period. I also feel safer emotionally here because folks are just doing their thing and not getting up in each others’ business about being sheeple or rednecks or anything in-between.

My experience so far is that folks are respectfully keeping their distance. Most businesses are mandating masks and I haven’t yet heard a single complaint – even from some of the people who I know that think the whole Covid thing is a hoax.

I’ve barely seen a set of teeth since I’ve arrived and I’ve witnessed zero hostility.

When at home, I feel angst every time I go to town because people aren’t being all that nice to each other.

So I was going to write about that tonight. But then, I got on Facebook and as I scrolled through I came across a conversation within my community regarding signage at the weekly Black Lives Matter peaceful protest. The same protest that is being protested by another group, another faction of my small town.

The conversation, on the surface, was “an open discussion” starting with sentences like, “I’m curious,” but no matter how it was framed, my takeaway was that it’s another case of white people criticizing other white people for their approach to the racial issues at hand. What I heard was, “Your sign isn’t good enough; it’s too watered down.”

(Paraphrasing)

And it makes me really sad.

For one, I really like the sign, I like the message, “Human. Kind. Be Both.”

To me it takes the issue to the most basic terms – be a fucking kind person – to everyone.

Criticizing the message isn’t being kind. If I was the person(s) that attended the peaceful protest with the sign, I’d be sorely tempted to not go back.

My point here is NOT to get into a debate about signs or messages or the protests or racial injustice or any of it. My point is that my community isn’t practicing kindness towards one another and that I don’t like what it’s doing to my sanity.

Here I sit in a place I dreaded to visit and I remarked to my mother today, “I’d much rather go your grocery store than mine right now.”

How sad is that?

Recently I have written a couple of posts on the subject of the self-righteous. After the last one, I sat and thought long and hard about my words and my motives. I realized that I too was being self-righteous, in an I’m-not-pointing-fingers-but actually-I-really-am sort of way.

I didn’t like what was going on in my head and what was streaming from my brain to my pen. I felt kind of gross. So I chose to write about my mother, someone who I greatly admire, instead.

I’ve taken a deep look at my motives and reactions. I’ve tried to take a look at myself and where I’m being judgmental and or hypocritical. Where I am being ugly.

I had vowed not to engage in any more social media debates, and yet, here I am, all fired up, wanting to tell everyone where they are wrong. I didn’t jump in on tonight’s conversation even though I had 42 perfect responses for every comment in the discussion.

And I’m finished with that. I don’t like what all of this has been doing to my psyche and I really don’t like what it’s doing to the collective psyche of my community.

Think about it – I am here in what I thought might feel like enemy territory, in the South, and I am relieved that I’m getting a break from my home turf. How heartbreaking is that?

So I can’t change what is happening in my world, but I can change how I deal with it.

Unfortunately, for the moment, that means creating more space, distancing myself from this place that has been my home for almost 25 years because I am grinding my teeth and constantly on edge. I am having unpleasant thoughts about my neighbors, and I don’t feel 100% safe.

Sadsadsadsadsad.

I understand that tensions are high. I understand that really well-meaning people are trying to make monumental changes in the world and are all figuring this out as we go along. I understand that when people are on edge, sometimes they don’t always treat each other with respect and kindness.

But as I find myself succumbing to my negative and judgmental thoughts and feelings, I realize that it’s not healthy for me or for my community. I am going to take a step back.

I’m not really sure exactly what the will look like, but I can figure that out while I am safely and gratefully all the way across the county.

 

 

flying tomorrow

Florida

Trump state

In the middle of hurricane season

In the middle of a global pandemic

To move my 83-year-old, legally blind mother, a grieving widow, out of the house she and my dad shared, into, no, not assisted living, but a condo which she just bought and remodeled.

In the middle of a pandemic

In the middle of hurricane season

She’s badass

growing up

I have found that the longer I live in this tranquil little canyon, the edgier I am becoming when I have to go to town and be around people. I can feel it as soon as I hit the stoplight at the mouth of the canyon and turn north towards civilization.

I immediately begin to calculate how long it will be before I will return home. I begin to move things off the day’s to-do list so I can head back west sooner.

Part of the resistance to joining the world stems from what is here, at my home. I have peace and solitude and beauty and quiet and dark nights and calm and birds. Why would I want to leave here, ever?

And part of the resistance is due to what’s out there, in civilization.

Noise, lights, exhaust smoke, crabby people in masks, angry people without them, a virus.

The Saturday morning Trump Parade that I always forget about until I get stuck in between confederate flags on 666. That really fucks up my day.

And then another thing that I don’t see coming that happens all too frequently, like this morning…

I’m on my way to a meeting and I stop at the coffee shop. Park. Open door. Walk 10 steps and,

“Hi HDD. How are you? I heard that (MXB)…”

2 1/2 seconds later, someone else asks me about him also.

It’s been three years. I am totally in love with an incredible man. I have a new job. A new home. A new life. Three kids. A dog.

ASK ME ABOUT SOMETHING THAT I MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN DISCUSSING.

For Fuck’s sake. I don’t want to talk about him, Why would you even bring it up?

There’s the fact that it’s been three years and we’ve both moved on. There is also the fact that his name doesn’t bring up fond memories. It’s quite painful, actually.

I spend the rest of the day irritated that people felt the need to bring up his name to me. I’m completely baffled about why anyone would think it’s a welcome topic. And, I’m totally on edge because I’m all triggered and reliving shitty times.

In the midst of this I realize that I was suffocating in town. When I told myself that It was so far in the past that no one was even thinking about it anymore, I was wrong. People still connect us – obviously.

I don’t want to continue being “HDD that used to go out with MXB.” And I think I knew instinctively that I’d never be able to shed that identity if I were to continue leading the life that I was leading when our lives were intertwined.

I had to unravel all of it.

As I drive west, back towards my refuge, the pissiness begins to wear off. I shed the angst and take in lungfuls of air. I’m thrilled to be distancing myself. Overjoyed that I made the choice to fly the coop.

 

 

Peaches anyone?

Weird experience today and I could use some help understanding.

Often, when I am finished at the grocery store, I will share my bounty with one of the homeless (I am assuming) folks sitting at the parking lot exit with signs saying “anything helps”, or something along those lines.

I’m even more likely to do it if there is a yummy treat in my bags; a cold bottle of lemonade or a doughnut, even a roasted chicken once.

Today I had fresh, juicy, Colorado peaches.

I was loading my groceries into my truck and I looked over at the woman with a sign and looked at the bag of peaches in my hand and thought, “Wow, I bet she’d enjoy these more than I would.”

So I walked over with the bag and as I approached her,  before I even got very close,  she began to shake her head and said, “Nope. No. No.”

I said, “Are you sure? They’re…”

“No.”

She was adamant.

Then she softened and said, “No thank you.”

I walked away and got in my car, looking at the rejected fruit and wondered…

Did I unwittingly do something offensive?

I didn’t get a look at her entire sign but I did see the word “cash.”

I’ve never run into this before and the last thing I want to do is piss someone off because I’ve mishandled the situation.

Are people more unwilling to take food because of the pandemic?

Is it insulting to hand someone food when all they want is cash?

Does anyone have any insight?

On the way home I pulled a dead fox out of the road and tossed it to the turkey vultures…

I had to feed someone today.

 

side effects may include…

Mood swings, irritability, anxiety, insomnia

I had steroid injections in my spine yesterday for sciatica. Not a big thing.

I’ve had one once before – when my kids were really small.

I remember afterward wanting to claw my (ex) husband’s eyeballs out.

I often had that desire but this was different; this time I considered acting on it.

I eventually put two and two together and realized that the added Oomph was because I had just been loaded up on “Roids”.

Well, I really like TAM and have no interest in clawing his eyes out, so when I didn’t feel any anger or aggression towards him I thought I was in the clear.

I left his house this morning to run an errand and in a matter of 15 minutes, I:

Got miffed enough at the front door covid tester to say something snarky under my breath and then stew about it until I finished shopping and moved on to saying something snarky directly to people who had blocked the parking lot. In my out-loud voice.

I didn’t have too long to fester about that one though because I rapidly advanced to sobbing through the drive-through phone, pleading with the pharmacist to save me from my agony.

I apparently really needed her to save me from myself.

 

 

Privilege. Power. Hypocrisy.

Each morning I drink my coffee and read the news, scroll through facebook, catch up with Heather Cox Richardson. Then I go for a walk in the canyon and process what I have read. More often than not, I end up riled up.

Note to self: stop reading the news before the walk

2nd note to self: stop reading the fucking news

What’s got me going this morning is white hypocrisy.

Locally, state-wide, and on a national level – it’s everywhere in the BLM movement.

Disclaimer: I am white, from a very privileged background, with an excellent, expensive, private school education. I knew very few people of color growing up. I do not, in any way, share in the experience of the discrimination and hatred that BIPOC have lived.

I am ignorant as fuck.

But I hope that I am not a hypocrite.

Anyway, what I am observing is white people taking the lead on racial issues – from their position of comfort and privilege.

ALL of us need to jump on the racial injustice bandwagon. It’s time, and it’s our responsibility. Especially for those of us whose privilege has led to where we are in this moment in history. But shouldn’t the drivers of the bandwagon be the people whose experiences we are addressing?

For example, many of my closest friends are queer. I can stand up for their rights, I can protest against discrimination and hatred and ignorance. I can educate myself. I can offer support. I can try to educate others.

But can I speak for the Queer Community?

Uh, no.

And what I see these days is some white people, often those considered leaders in the BLM movement, speaking for BIPOC. It’s one thing, in my humble opinion, to speak with the oppressed, but for??????

And in so many of these conversations, the speakers are angry, self-righteous, condescending, arrogant, and utterly lacking in compassion for those who are just trying to figure this all out.

I often feel like I am being schooled, not educated.

Many of the folks to whom I am referring are doing really good work in their communities or across the country towards equality and for that I am grateful. But you can’t deny who you are. Because one’s partner or best friend is brown or black or asian (currently receiving a rash of racist shit during this pandemic) – this does not make one an expert.

And this certainly does not magically make one a Person of Color.

I read amazing articles written from positions of relative ease – big houses, good educations, white-collar jobs, a full refrigerator, health care. I pour over them, trying to learn, but when that (white) writer speaks with a tone of superiority, I shut right down.

We can’t deny who we are. Just like it would be gross of me to pretend that didn’t belong to a fancy country club, I hate to see others pretend that they haven’t participated in a world made available to them because of their skin color.

Once I was old enough to make my own choices, I chose to no longer participate in the elite world in which I was raised. But I once did. For many years – mainly the formative ones. I enjoyed my privilege. I benefitted from it. Turning my back on that world doesn’t erase it from my history.

For me to speak on racial issues I must first come from the place of admitting to coming from the place from which I came.

I must own, not deny, the advantages that I have had, and continue to have.

I must own my lack of knowledge, lack of first-hand experience, lack of understanding.

I hear “community, equality, love,” and those words are not muffled by a mask in the age of a pandemic. How can one care so much about the experience of others and yet be selfish enough to not protect those around us?

Is the decision to put your neighbors at risk possible for you because you know that you can see a doctor if you get sick? You have family and friends who will help care for you? You know you won’t starve if you miss work?

Me vs We

Entitlement?

We can’t erase who we are, who we’ve been.

But we can change, and change we must.

But change isn’t possible unless we start with the truth of who we are.

Honesty or hypocrisy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am finally, finally, having an evening to myself – my first semblance of “normal” in quite some time.

It has been quite a bizarre week. A little Twilight Zone-y. I felt entirely disconnected from my sweet existence. Things went a bit off-kilter in multiple realms of my life and I too went off-kilter.

I was coming back to center; things were on the upswing.

And then,

we went to Mesa Verde in the middle of a Global Pandemic.

I do so love to say, “Global Pandemic”.

There are not a lot of visitors in the Park right now, but enough.

Maybe 70% of them wore masks.

I wanted to say something to the 30%.

I wanted to respectfully say, “You know, we have a Mask Mandate in place.”

And with a bit more of an edge, “Hey, you are putting my community at risk. I shouldn’t feel unsafe in my own town.”

And then, with a lot more edge, “GO HOME!!!!!”

I was sad. Disheartened. Disspirited.

I just want to say “Come on people, quit being a selfish asshole.”

But I keep my mouth shut…

because I have manners.

And also, because I know that the maskless won’t suddenly change their minds and apologize for their lapse in judgment.

Because I know that a confrontation is likely to escalate on both sides.

Because I know that the leaders in my county will not enforce the Governor’s mandate.

Apparently, rules don’t apply to them.

Because it feels hopeless.

I was truly trying to refrain from going on a tirade about masks here on my blog. Part of why I haven’t been writing much is because I haven’t wanted to be a part of another heated discussion on social media and I have friends on both sides of the fence on this issue – friends who I would like to keep.

I’m actually sick to death of social media. I’ve limited my usage to only news. And only a certain amount. I am so disappointed in so many human beings that the load has gotten too heavy. Like so many others, I need a break from it all.

So, let’s go to the National Park and check out cool things.

And there it is, all of the garbage, the Rebels and the Sheeple, together on Sunday family outings in a beautiful place, in my town, my community. Every person there was obviously either masked or unmasked, and that single factor alone influenced how folks were interacting with each other and if I am to be completely honest, it fully influenced what I thought of each person I passed.

I do NOT want to be that person. I’m the gal who will smile and talk to anyone and everyone. So to feel anger and resentment towards my fellow human beings, based on appearances, feels super icky.

Disapproving is a very uncomfortable sensation.

But disapproving I am.

Disappointed.

Dismayed.

I want to carry around a sign. One side will say, “Thank you for wearing a mask.”

The other side…”Fuck you.”

But still, behind my mask, I keep my mouth shut and just step away from anyone without a face covering.

Then, at the Cliff Palace this man and his family blew past everyone on the trail, almost, if not actually, bumping people out of his way. And as the guy is huffing past me he says to no one and everyone, “Look at all these fucking stupid people.”

No shit. In front of his kids. In front of everyone else’s kids. Totally unprovoked.

Unless having to look at a person in a mask is provocation enough.

So my question here is Why?

Why does my mask bother this man so much that he feels the need to be ugly in front of his children?

Why do so many of the maskless feel the need to get mean?

If this is all about individual “rights” then don’t you have to respect someone who is exercising their individual right, even if you don’t agree with it?

And if the maskless feel that we Sheeple are (dumb, scared, brainless pusses…) go ahead and think that but again, why the hostility?

And then I wonder,

If the Science is wrong, and people are wearing masks needlessly, the only harm they are doing to anyone is irritating the maskless. They aren’t putting anyone at risk of anything.

But, conversely, if the Science is spot on, and masks will help prevent millions of deaths, then the maskless are actually doing harm. They are putting other people at risk.

So then, why the fuck are the maskless getting pissed off at the covered-ups?

It makes no sense.

Nothing makes sense these days.

So, sitting here, under my tree, watching the evening light change over the canyons, I think that the entire world feels a little Twilight Zone-y.

Except when I am here. This makes sense.

 

 

showing off for our guests

I have a friend in town. We went to high school together; we’ve seen each other once since I left Jersey in 1987.

And here she is as if we saw each other just last week. 

She’s here because she is thinking about moving here. She used to live on the I-70 corridor, then she moved to the PNW to get out of the snow but she misses the sunshine so I am trying to convince her that here is the perfect compromise.

I want her to join me in my little corner of Paradise, so I am trying to show off my homeland.

The problem is, she arrived just in time for another Saturday morning “Freedom Ride” through downtown Cortez; our weekly reminder that I, and apparently we (the “liberals”) are Sheeple.

I told her about our citizens who are tearing into each other over the issue of a piece of fabric.

I said to her, “I’m so embarrassed – my County is so poorly behaved right now.”

I told her how I normally feel about my home town. I told her that we are a community of folks, with the good old fashioned values of “neighbors helping neighbors.”

I explained to her that I have always felt at home here, and accepted, and included, because we value taking care of each other more than we do personal politics.

I was the lone hippie that moved into this County before it was discovered. I may have been ridiculed behind my back, but no one ever, EVER, made me feel like I didn’t belong.

And now, I am telling my friend that my once idyllic little haven is being torn in half over a piece of fabric.

She has been so safe, so careful, so isolated behind her mask, and so supported within her city and state. She is in utter disbelief at the fact that anyone would fight this simple and life-saving courtesy.

She says, “Wait, isn’t there a mask mandate from the Governor?”

Then, “Don’t your neighbors care about their neighbors?”

“Do I want to live here?”

It’s sad, and as I said, embarrassing. I hate that she is seeing Montezuma County at its ugliest. I try to tell her that it’s not always like this but I don’t see that it’s going to improve any, any time soon.”

I hate that she is witnessing our divisiveness, our self-righteous anger, our stupidity.

I’m mortified to say that our leaders, and so many residents of our corner of the world, believe that they are above the law. 

Our people are going rogue and it’s not flattering.

It’s off-putting to someone considering moving here.

She’s questioning if she would feel safe walking down Market Street in her mask and “Make Orwell Fiction Again” t-shirt, and I have to say, “I’m not sure you are safe.”

She’s from Portland.

She feels less threatened there.

People, think about that.

 

 

 

Remember when…

In the beginning:

“We’re all in this together

Yes, I’m happy to wear a mask to protect my neighbors

Does anyone need anything from the City Market?

MoCo  – neighbors helping neighbors

Let’s share books, recipes, laughs – from a distance

You, with cancer, I will protect myself everywhere I go so that I can still visit you – from a distance

We need to support our vulnerable populations

Our poor neighbors, community members, on the Navajo Nation – let’s help them”

Remember those days?

Those were good days.

Scary. For sure.

We had no idea what was coming. But there was a collective angst that bonded us together as a community.

There has always been, in rural towns, an entrenched belief that we are all reliant upon each other, regardless of our differences. When push comes to shove, you show up for your neighbors to help with branding, preparing meals, bucking hay, regardless of where y’all sit on the political or religious spectrums.

It takes a village.

Unfortunately, in just a couple of months, it has changed to:

“You can’t tell me what to do

It’s all a hoax

I am healthy and fit so I don’t need to wear a mask. If you feel like you need to wear one, maybe you should eat some veggies and go to the gym instead

Who cares about my neighbors

I’m not going to the store for you – no one’s going to make ME wear a mask

I am going to gather maskless, in public places because it’s my right.

I might start shit with anyone who doesn’t agree with me on the issue of masks

Our neighbors from Shiprock shouldn’t be allowed to shop here

Fuck the Governor”

I have been so honored to live in a tiny world where being a part of a community means that you are loved and cared for – even by folks you’ve never even met.

This sense of togetherness was one of the main reasons that I picked here instead of anywhere else to live.

But, I am watching as neighbors helping neighbors spirals into neighbors hating neighbors.

Sad people. Very very sad.