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.

 

 

 

hurting hearts

A boy from our community took his own life.

He was a teenager, still in high school, with his entire life about to open up for him, and he chose to make it stop.

I’ve never had a conversation with this boy (not from a lack of trying) but I feel as if I knew him.

See, we lived in the same neighborhood, our tiny little mismatched subdivision of cabins and fancy homes. 3 roads in one direction, two in the other; a square with a line through the center, each side about a quarter of a mile long.

I had a deck. This boy had a bike. I sat on my deck and watched this boy ride laps around the neighborhood, around and around, again and again, often for hours. It was so constant that he became part of the backdrop of my world.

I had the neighbor who growls at his dog in his weird aggressive way. And, the Atmos guy who comes home on time for dinner with his family each evening – his truck signaling to me that it was time for my evening meal.

The hundreds of little unidentified birds that crowd the powerlines to watch the sunset. The woman who walks with her umbrella and phone, loudly sharing her conversation with anyone wanting to eavesdrop.

When you camp out on the deck like I did for so many years, you get to know the neighbors by observation. And if you observe closely, you learn a lot.

This boy had something sad about him. Something dark. His monotonous peddling made it obvious that he was trying to work something out in that head and heart of his. I’ve done that; the miles that I have walked in attempts to find some peace would take me all the way back to New Jersey.

I often wondered if I could be friends with him, at least connect with him, break through the shell. I like teenagers, especially the brooding ones. I wasn’t necessarily a brooder, but dark thoughts accompanied me everywhere when I was his age.

I said hi to him whenever I saw him at the mailboxes. He grunted in response, never looking me in the eye. I was determined to get a smile from him.

My friends with whom I shared deck dates knew him, had watched him, wondered about him. My dear friend R and I regularly speculated what the boy’s life must be like – never knowing if we even came close.

My sense was that this boy was loved. That someone’s heart has broken, irreparably, over his senseless death.

I want to call R, to tell him the sad news, but R too is gone. He died last year. The fact that I can’t tell him makes this death that much more poignant.

I had so hoped for some relief for this child. I thought that one of these days I would see him smile, maybe even get a “hello” out of him.

I was unaware of the boy’s name until yesterday when I called my son to ask if I knew him. My son said, “Not to sound insensitive, but it’s not that much of a surprise.” Then he added, “He’s the kid who rode around your neighborhood.”

And as much as I hated to admit it, he was right. This child was lost.

There was a time in our home when one of my children was so angry, so miserable, so unhappy, that I worried about him attempting to end it all. I constantly reminded him that suicide is not an option, that there is always, always, a way out – a way short of death.

I prayed that he heard me.

My child turned to drinking and drugs which led to near death, but he is still alive, the self-destruction seems to be a thing of the past. Most of all, he’s happy.

I am so eternally grateful that I can still wrap my arms around him, get into arguments with him, I can still worry about him like any mom wants to do.

My soul aches for this neighbor boy, for his family, for our community. A child should never feel that there is no other way out than to take his own life.

How could we have possibly let this one slip through the cracks?

 

 

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?

 

 

on the issue of masks

I’m wearing one. No question about it. I just bought myself a new one yesterday.

I’m investing money; I am in this for the long haul.

Some of you are choosing to not wear masks. Your prerogative.

I wish you would wear one, but if you’re choosing not to, then I guess I’ll just back up a few steps if we need to interact.

But what I have noticed is that backing up, covering my nose and mouth, conducting myself as if there were a global pandemic, is making me the recipient of ridicule and derision.

Many (not all, I guess?) of the maskless are getting quite smug. I’ve noticed it particularly in young adults – those who are relatively new to adulthood and to making decisions on their own.

And most interestingly, the worst of the smuggers that I have encountered are young women.

I’m not saying anything political or making sweeping generalizations about the population who are not wearing masks – I see young, old, male, female, white, brown, black.

If you want to go to the lake with your family and friends, god bless ya, I’m kind of envious, but I am making different choices.

I am saying something about the attitude of the maskless population who think that they are superior to those of us with our faces covered.

It shows in the condescending looks I get when I am the only one in the room with a mask. It shows every time an open-faced individual bumps into me – accidentally on-purpose.

Last time I went to Walmart I ran into a girl who I had babysat, who in turn babysat my children, and is now grown up, old enough, to be raising her own. We usually stop and chat, but as I was deciding if I wanted to make the effort that it takes, she looked at me with a smirk on her face, a “hrmph” on her lips, haughtily lifted her head and walked right on out of there, wholly superior to this old lady’s fear-ridden existence.

So yesterday, I went elsewhere to try to support one of our local business, and while searching the aisles for wood putty, a young lady, an employee, who went to high school with my kids (meaning that IF she is 21, then it’s just barely, making her still a child in my mind,) approached.

I greeted her warmly – as warmly as you can with half of your face hidden. She was lukewarm in response. At first I thought, “Maybe she doesn’t recognize me with my mask on,” so I said, “Hey__________, it’s me, HDD.”

She looked at me with “Duh,” written all over her face…

Which I could see the entirety of because she wasn’t wearing a mask.

Suddenly I remembered skimming over something on Facebook about this particular business and their lack of Covid-19 restrictions.

Should have paid more attention to that one.

Anyway, in response to her general inquiry about helping me find something I responded that I needed wood putty which apparently was one aisle over.

And apparently the only way there was for her to push past me, in the narrow row of wood glue and stain. She literally, physically, bumped me out of the way, with a total “I dare you to say something,” arrogance.

I did what any sane person would do as she passed…

I held my breath.

I was pissed, and yet I didn’t say a word.

For one, it’s too hard to talk while fighting for every breath through multiple layers of cotton and coffee filters.

Two, I knew that I would get no support from any of my fellow customers or the managers of the store. That was perfectly clear.

But the main reason that I didn’t say anything was that I am sick and tired of the animosity between the believers and the non-believers.

People have gotten so ugly with each other. Unkind. Disrespectful. Nasty.

As a mother figure, I could easily have justified saying to this gal, “Oh Honey – I really wish you’d be more careful and cover up your face.”

Of I could have said, “What the fuck are you doing getting so close to me?”

But I didn’t because we need to be gentle with one another right now in this topsy-turvy world.

And though I may be secretly judging those who are making different decisions than I am, I also understand that others are making the decisions that they believe are right for them, and while we each might (probably) feel very strongly about our positions, does it mean that we have to be ugly with each other?

I don’t think so.

I get it that if I choose to continue to isolate, to cover my face, to wash my hands 52 million times, that’s my choice and I am the one who is “inconvenienced,” by having to wear a piece of cloth over my face. It is my responsibility to take those precautions – which I am.

But I believe that it is the maskless’ responsibility to respect those boundaries – not push against them.

Literally.

Why must there be an air of superiority? Sure, they could be right and I could be wrong (and paranoid).

OR I could be right and they are about to get a lot of people very sick.

But, I’m keeping my covered mouth shut because we do not need more divisiveness right now and I believe in being kind. So why do people on the other side of the debate feel the need to totally disrespect me, my choices, my body?

I’m not inconveniencing anyone. I am not spreading a deadly disease. I am not forcing any of my political beliefs on anyone. My mask is not taking away anyone’s constitutional rights.

My masked friends declare that they too have been on the receiving end of physical contact, snide remarks, and general disdain. I am not imagining this.

But what I can’t imagine is why it has to be this way.

There is no need for condescension.

No reason to be smug.

PS: Before any of the maskless gets all hyped up – I am fully aware that there are many of the swaddled that are verbally taking people out for NOT wearing a mask. That’s not okay either. And to you, I say, “Be kind. Be respectful. Play by your rules. Socially distance yourself…

And for Fuck’s sake, don’t start shit with your neighbors.”

 

 

 

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.