I didn’t want to have to do this but…

You know what?

I am pissed.

And now I’m going to rant.

Two Facebook groups were started on the same day – in the early days of the virus – ostensibly to provide information and support for our community members during this time of sickness and fear and mixed messages coming down from the top.

In one group, seemingly comprised primarily of Christian Conservatives, a post about exercising our constitutional rights by not wearing masks prompted one group member to state that she felt safer sporting face covering and she wished that everyone would wear one.

She was verbally bludgeoned.

The group administrator got really ugly and several others followed suit.

It prompted me to leave the group, with a statement on the page about why. I said, “I am leaving because I wanted to be a part of a group that is helping our community.”

I followed with, “Getting ugly and judgmental isn’t helping anyone in our County.”

I was taunted, called names, and told “good riddance.”

I was holding out hope for the other group to be a little bit more open-minded and compassionate and NEUTRAL.

Well, that went right out the window this morning.

“Asshole”

“Troll”

“Dumbass. Moron. Idiot.”

“Go home to your shithole state.”

“Panty waist liberals have no place here”

what the fuck people?????????

I want one person, one, to tell me what good could possibly come out of any of the above comments. How is this possibly helping our old, our sick, our babies, our HEALTHCARE WORKERS?

Sure, I wear a mask to protect myself. I’m selfish that way.

But more importantly, I wear a mask for you.

My son is asthmatic. He has the potential to run into serious trouble if he catches this virus.

I wear a mask for him.

Another friend, who I like to visit, has cancer. I panic at the thought of infecting her unknowingly.

I wear a mask for her.

My mother is 81, lives alone, is freshly widowed and thanks to a bout with lung cancer has only half of one lung.

I hope that every single person in her town wears a fucking mask because I don’t want my mother to die. Alone. Due to someone else’s need to “not be controlled.”

I wear a mask for everyone’s mother.

TAM and I are quarantining together – we are exposing each other to everything that we encounter. He has children. It’s my responsibility to protect him.

I wear a mask for him. For his children.

I wear a mask for the gal at the market who goes home to a very compromised husband. She has to change her clothes in the garage before she can even enter her own home after a day at work.

I wear a mask for my co-workers who are doing their very best to safely provide food and support for so many who are dependent on this little grocery store. While I have been safely isolated, they are dealing with the public 7 days a week, so that you can eat.

I wear a mask for the pregnant woman who is already terrified of bringing her unborn baby into this upside-down toxic world.

You get the picture.

The picture of me with a mask on my face.

I know that no matter what I say, or anyone else says, that plenty of people give we “fearful and paranoid victims of fake news and conspiracies” the middle finger.

Sure, sometimes I wonder if it is all blown out of proportion. But then I think, “Who am I to say?”

Not a doctor. Not a scientist.

Not a constitutionalist either.

So I am clearly in no position to make this call.

99% of us are in no position to make this call.

Really, anyone who is questioning the veracity of the science, who is neither a scientist nor a medical doctor, is out of their fucking minds.

Seriously, think about it, all of us who barely passed Biology 101, are trying to out-science the scientists.

This is not about your constitutional rights. This is about the health and well being of not only your own community but…

The entire planet.

Can you grasp that?

The health of both the earth itself and every single human being alive is in your hands. Do you get that?

WE can make a difference in what happens to people just like us, mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, nurses, factory workers, teachers.

This is not about “being an American,” this is about being a global citizen.

One of the comments on this morning’s news feed asked about the “ethnicity” of those infected and dying?

The ETHNICITY?

Now we are making this a racism issue. So we don’t care about the Chinese (well they started this so why should we be concerned there?) or the Italians (pronounced eye-talian in this bigoted conversation). Does it matter what the brown people in Africa are experiencing?

And no question, in this border town right on the edge of the Navajo Nation, that a mention of ethnicity is pointed directly at our suffering neighbors who have been hit harder than anywhere else in our four corners.

I had someone tell me in the grocery store that she wishes “they” wouldn’t come here to shop – so that she can go mask-free.

Maybe we could have brown people hours and white people hours.

Makes me want to move to Shiprock.

I want to hurl. I am so angry.

And so disappointed in my community.

This is a community of people who pride themselves on being good neighbors and helping each other in times of need. Not wearing masks probably isn’t helping.

Chance are, wearing one is helping. At least there’s a chance of it being beneficial to self and others, while we know for certain that no face protection helps no one.

Sure, they’re uncomfortable. And annoying.

But if I choose to wear one, that’s my choice. Just like some folks are making the choice to not wear one (based on the constitution and personal preference, not on the scientific information that we all have access to.)

Don’t fucking ride my ass if I err on the side of caution

I want to walk away from this global pandemic knowing that I did everything I could to keep safe my children, my mother, my sick friends, someone else’s grandmother or husband or child. If I needlessly wear a mask for a while, so be it.

It’s none of your business. I am not hurting you. I am not violating your constitutional rights. I am not going to get you sick, that’s for sure.

The maskless can’t say the same thing about not affecting me.

So, if you are making the decision to put me, the compromised husband, a newborn baby, a nurse or grocery store employee, at risk, go ahead and do that.

If your conscience allows.

But do not give me shit about it.

It has taken everything in me to not respond to each and every cruel and immature comment that I have seen on Facebook (including some of those whose words are coming through layers of folded cloth and coffee filters.) But I refuse to get involved in debates with people behaving poorly in inappropriate forums.

I know that trying to convince anyone on either side of the debate is fruitless at this point. Not my purpose here, although it would be nice if my ranting gives at least one bare-faced community member pause for thought. I’m stating my opinion, but I am not holding out hope that I’m going to change anyone’s mind.

My point is this:

Shut. The Fuck. up.

Don’t be ugly.

Be kind.

If you want to be catty and condescending and critical and cruel, go ahead. But I certainly don’t want to hear it.

Do they make masks that cover the ears?

 

 

still in high school

Yep, that phone call kicked up a few things for me.

Fucking high school. Was there anyone who really felt like they fit in?

I went to the public school in my town until I was in 8th grade. Then I went to my all-girls high school in another town, which was a 45-minute train ride away.

My parents were friends with a whole different crowd, most of whom belonged to the same country club as we did. Those were the people with whom we hung on weekends, family gatherings, vacations.

There was some overlap between the groups, but not much – at all. My friends with whom I had grown up all went to school together. I no longer did.

The gals from high school…part of what added to the fish out of water feeling was the fact that I other friends, in other places. I wasn’t totally immersed in the friendships from school.

And my parents’ friends’ children? Most of them went to boarding school, so I didn’t quite fit in there either.

Between all of these groups of kids, I never felt like I totally belonged to one because I always had a foot in another.

Some might say that it was great that I had so many friends and such a diverse group at that, but that’s not how it felt.

What it felt like was that I was always scrambling to find my place, a place where I didn’t feel like a bit of an outsider. And I never quite got there.

Now, let’s add a bit of bullying.

There was a gal named Camilla who, in our younger years, wanted nothing to do with me because I went to public school.

No shit. She taunted me relentlessly during tennis lessons and wouldn’t hit the ball to me (unless it was AT me) claiming that I shouldn’t be there, that I should just go back to my public school friends.

In school in my town, 8th grade, there were a few girls who I thought were friends who turned on many of us behind our backs, producing one of these:

In our version, I was raked over the coals because I didn’t like wearing the color red. For real – that was the problem with me.

I still don’t wear red.

In high school, because of…

(I honestly have no idea…)

…Janet C. hated me and was determined to make my life miserable. We’d known each other a bit since we were little, (certainly not well enough for her to detest me like she did) but starting on day one, freshman year, she made it her mission to make me feel like shit.

Which I did.

She put old food in my locker. Put signs up on the windows of our classroom doors, ridiculing me, while I was trapped inside learning that a+b=c. She called me sluglips.

Even after she left our school and went elsewhere, she still pursued her prey. Then, we ended up in college together and she continued her bullshit.

And I continued to let it bother me.

I moved west. I still floundered my way through friendships and relationships.

Then I came to work at Outward Bound – prompted by one of the summertime, boarding school friends who I never imagined actually liked me. And now she wanted to work with me?

I remember sitting in a meeting with a bunch of other OB course directors – total misfits, totally weird people. I looked around at one point and thought, “I kind of belong here.”

It was a completely new and almost frightening feeling.

Now I live in this great little community and like I said yesterday, I feel like herein lies my tribe of rough and odd and funny and kind folks.

There was a great group of women with whom I raised my children – they are all still super connected – I distanced myself when I met MXB.

I was the girl who dropped her friends for a boy.

For a few years there, when I was with MXB, the much younger man, I hung out with a community of women – there were 6 of us – that felt like mine. In hindsight, just like in hindsight about every other friendship in my life, I realize that they too weren’t my tribe.

But I was SO excited to feel like I was “in.” That I actually had a group of friends to which I belonged. I got a little carried away, a bit over-enthused about being a posse. I was Lindsey Lohan with the Queen Bees.

And as soon as the breakup happened and I no longer had my link to this community, it fell apart around me and I was no longer one of them. I was, once again, on the outside looking in.

I need to stop here and say that there was one gal, one, who didn’t drop me like a hot potato. I will always be grateful for her.

I was so devastated during that period in my life – so crushed about the loss of community. But I realize now that it wasn’t as much about losing the individuals as it was about losing my (perceived) place in a group.

The loss of fitting in.

I felt like once again I had fooled myself into thinking that people liked me when in all actuality, they didn’t.

Fucking Brutal.

So every time I accused everyone of acting like they were in Middle School, I was the one who felt like I was still in Middle School, dealing with Camilla and Janet and the girls who wore red.

Crawling out of the black hole has forced me to re-examine every single relationship I have in my life. Friends, family, not-friends, long lost friends.

And people around here who I have always liked and admired,

and assumed that they too, didn’t necessarily want me around.

Well, I am learning that some people actually do like me. Some even want to hang out.

But more importantly, I am realizing that variety is the spice of life and that I am so very fortunate to have people from all different walks of life who are walking varied paths in my world. In my tribe.

I don’t have to be a part of a group. I don’t have to be a part of a “community” that is really just a clique.

Why would I want to limit myself like that?

 

 

 

playing hooky

I had so much to do this weekend.

Work – tons of it – hours and hours.

Clean out my truck – you know, skis and shit.

Fix the broken window in my truck – in case, after getting my skis out of there, I decide that I want to pack my camping gear so that I am ready on the turn of a dime.

Dishes.

Laundry.

Taxes.

Write a piece for a book that I’ve been contracted for a contribution.

What did I do?

Not taxes, not dishes, not work.

I ran a load of laundry but then walked away from it for two days so everything has to be washed all over again to get rid of the still-wet stink.

I went for a run. I went to yoga. I napped. I went to the desert.

When I ran on Friday, I decided to try something new.

Stretching.

I know, totally new concept.

At 54 I’ve discovered what the rest of the world seems to know; to stretch is to not hurt.

I’ve been struggling with my running for a few years – my problems have gotten progressively worse, and yet I have continued to put one foot in front of the other because for as much effort as it takes, running with lead-filled legs is better than not running at all.

The other major problem with my running has been the need to pee. And pee.

And pee.

Since giving birth, I haven’t been able to run more than 100 yards without stopping to dribble.

Between my legs becoming hard as a rock within 25 steps and then having to stop and drop my pants, my runs have become far from fluid and have consisted of this weird pace of runwalking that I can continue for 15 miles but certainly wouldn’t want anyone to witness.

Post-surgery, post convalescence, I have realized that I am fragile. That as tough as I am, my body needs more care than it did when I was 30 and could do 10 miles, off the couch, with not a sore muscle afterward.

I’ve realized that perhaps, I need to take a little bit better care of things (me) so that I no longer have to live by the motto, “Pain is inevitable, suffering, optional.”

So on Friday, as I am clawing my way back to the land of the living, I decided that I would try this stretching thing. I climbed up to a slickrock bench overlooking a canyon and spent 30 minutes doing a combination of yoga and 1980’s field hockey stretches.

And lo and behold, I could run. for the first time in years, my breathing, not my legs, wore out. This may not seem like a big deal to most, but I feel as if I have just discovered sliced bread; something everyone else knew existed, but I hadn’t bothered to try.

Also, because of the surgery, my bladder is fixed – back to “normal” – and I can bounce without anything falling or pouring out.

This means, for the first time in 22 years, I can drink water when I run.

Before it wasn’t worth it. One sip of H2O and it would dribble right down my leg with the first two steps. I have been dehydrated for YEARS.

Between the stretching and the drinking, I felt like a powerhouse superhero Olympic athlete for almost all 3 miles.

Everything changed. I have found a new love and appreciation for this tired old body. I am reveling in taking care of this bag of bones that has taken such good care of me over the years.

And with my new joy, I decided that I should definitely go to yoga on Saturday. Which I did, but then needed a nap to recover in the afternoon. And then, wanting to try out this stretching thing again, I had to go to the desert to see how it worked there.

We hiked, then we stretched, then we hiked more. And I felt great afterward.

Until I got home to the piles of dirty dishes and stinky laundry and shit tons of work that got ignored while I practiced being an athlete.

Which is why I had to say goodbye to TAM (This Amazing Man) last night and sit at home, alone, late into the evening reading through handwritten letters from prison inmates.

And which is also why I have been up since 5 am pouring coffee down my throat, reading more of those letters to prep for a meeting this morning in just a couple of hours.

My dog won’t even get up yet.

And as I sit here with a pile of files on my lap, all I can think about is my new discovery of athletic prepping, so instead of those fucking files, I’m blogging about running.

Still playing hooky.

 

“Ego Tube”

Back in the day – the day when I was taking people deep into the wilderness; when I was young, vibrant, idealistic, and rather self-righteous – the day when I was a purist, a leave no trace purist – I had a thing about summit registers.

There was a handful of us who believe(d) that Leave No Trace means leave. no. trace. and that leaving a plastic tube with paper and pencil, attached by cable to the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere was leaving a trace.

Trash.

A physical reminder of man’s need to make his mark, to conquer, to claim fame.

So, those few of us who felt so strongly about the issue often ended up with a few summit registers in our packs as we hiked out of 30 days in the backcountry into civilization. Mostly unbeknownst to our students. Mostly. We knew that what we were doing was controversial, but like I said…

self-righteous purists.

Lifting a summit register is often no easy task. It usually entailed telling my students to start the climb down, “I’m just going to coil the ropes, I’m right behind you.” Then, with a few mighty swings of an ice axe, the cable would break and the entire thing got stashed into the top of my pack and down I’d go to meet my group – no one any wiser.

Word of our tireless endeavors to clean up the Weminuche was getting around amongst the higher-ups in our organization and the word then came from those higher-ups to us lower-downs to stop this practice, but, since we imagined ourselves to be the next Ed Abbeys, saving the planet one golf pencil at a time, we ignored the warnings from above.

Until the day when I dragged my students into re-supply way the fuck out in the wilds where a dirt track crossed a remote trail and lo and behold, there was my supervisor’s supervisor’s supervisor, come all the way down from Denver to have a face to face with me.

Apparently, one of my students who was rather perceptive (and impressionable) and fully aware of the trash issue, had taken a register when I wasn’t there, stashed it in his backpack, and brought it home to Connecticut with him where his mommy unpacked his bag, found it, and immediately called our offices to let them know that her child, who had come to Outward Bound because he got in trouble with the law for…stealing…had stolen something with the support of his Instructor.

Me.

Fuck.

Wrist slapped. Warnings issued. Promises made. And the lesson I learned…

Be more stealthy when stealing.

I have lost some of my edge in my old age. I no longer take such a hard stance, although, I do still believe that humans should not be leaving anything manmade in the Wilderness. Especially not affixed to a mountain top.

I understand that some, (most), like the camaraderie that reading other people’s scribblings at the end of a hard climb brings. So I am slightly less militant. I certainly won’t sign one, but I will consider leaving one in place, especially if the people I am with are enjoying it.

Depending on where and how offensive it is.

So, I went out to Utah the other day and climbed to the very top of a ridge which is not a peak – it’s more like an 80-mile undulating wall of China. I am sure there is a “highest point” but it could be anywhere in that 80 miles and the reality is that the monocline is only at most, 900 feet tall; it’s not some massive peak begging to be conquered.

As I got to the tippy top, the place where the sloping incline of rock abruptly stops and there is a 900-foot uninterrupted drop down to the wash below, I saw a cairn (a pile of rocks marking a trail…don’t even get me started on those in the wilderness) marking what seemed to me, to be the perfect place from which to cast oneself into the abyss with no hope of surviving.

I know, as I approached the pile of rocks that I don’t want to take one step past it, but would everyone realize that before they did take that step, that one step too close to the edge?

Dumb, I thought as I made my way towards the offending and potentially dangerous pile of sandstone. And then, I saw it. A glass jar with paper and a golf pencil.

Summit Register.

Not even on a summit.

Granted, it’s a steep climb to get there, but my stubby-legged dog made it, and it was no great accomplishment. Not a big enough one to warrant a symbol of great achievement.

In glass no less. Everywhere you look is solid rock – slick rock – perfect for dropping a glass jar.

Inside, of course, is the inevitable notepad and pencil. One person has written on the register and it says:

Dude, (and Dudette) if you’re calling it an ego tube, and you not only signed it but actually put it there, what’s that saying about you?

And who the fuck carries a glass jar of tomato paste in their backpack? Obviously, this was planned in advance – the jar was clean, pencil sharp, and paper stapled.

The old me was outraged. The newer me was also outraged. Nonononononononononono. Not here. Not okay. Not ever.

So the old me picked up the jar and stashed in my pack. I scattered the rocks used to build the cairn, the new, more careful me resisting the urge to trundle them over the edge since there was a truck below me and trucks usually mean people and I didn’t want to kill anyone.

I fumed. I was disheartened to find that here. Here in my place. Here in the fragile desert. Here where it didn’t belong.

Trash.

When I got back to my truck, I decided that the only thing to do with the offending item was to take it to the visitor’s center. My hope is that they will put it on display with a sign that says, “DON’T be an asshole!”

To the conquerors of the peak, congratulations, you hiked less than a mile and climbed, at most, 900 feet, never losing sight of your truck.

To my old rebellious friends…

I stole another summit register!!