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.”

 

 

 

five-five

Ho-ly-shit. I am fifty-five years old.

Fif-ty-five.

A month ago my best friend from high school posted a photo on Facebook of her birthday cake with two #5 candles burning on top.

I thought, “Is she older than I am?”

Fifty-five seems impossible. And yet, here I am.

The fact that my brother is looking down the pike at 60 makes 55 seems really old.

I don’t really feel my age – certainly not in my head. My brain actually seems to be regressing. I do feel old in my body. Ancient. I find myself groaning more often than not with any sort of movement like rolling over in bed or crossing one leg over the other.

My soul has a better sense of quietude at this age than ever before.

As I sit in the hammock, looking out over the greening pastures towards the Sleeping Ute, listening to the red-winged blackbirds and watching meadowlark sex, I think, “I wouldn’t wish to be at any other point in my life than this moment, right here, right now.

 

 

zip code

After 24 years as a resident of 81328, I am mixing things up, heading west, and will be a new member of the 81321 community.

Holy shit, right?

It was just finalized yesterday afternoon and still hasn’t sunken in. I was going to savor it, roll it over in my mind, get used to the idea, before making it public. But, as we all know, there are no secrets in a town this size and word has gotten out already; the rumor mill has begun and therefore I am making an official announcement.

Questions abound, such as: Why would you leave your cabin that you love so much? Why wouldn’t you stay here, where you raised your boys? What about your friends here? Why 81321???

I would never, ever leave this cabin if I didn’t have to. It has been such a sanctuary for me. I would not have survived the past three years without these 800 square feet to call my home. The beauty, views, access to the lake, birds, bears, lovely neighbors, peace and quiet; it has all helped me to heal from tragedy and pain.

But, my wonderful landlords actually want their home back. They would like to live in this perfect place. I always knew this day would come, although I had hoped instead that they would call one day and say, “You’ve paid enough rent, the cabin is yours.”

That did not happen.

They gave me notice months in advance so no rush. After my initial distress, I started thinking about the requirements for my new home starting with “where.” Every time I left the house and drove somewhere, I thought, “I could live here, or maybe here, ooh, definitely not there.”

And weirdly enough, it didn’t even cross my mind to look in my home town, even after all of these years.

I had become rather myopic about the 1300 people and .6 square miles of my town, but since moving to this cabin, located between towns, I have expanded my world to the rest of the County.

For those of you who know here you understand the significance of County. For those of you who don’t, this is the rural west, what county you live in is more significant than the town. Ours has a very strong identity, vastly different from the surrounding areas. Ours has a distinct persona, one that I am proud to be a part of, yet because of said myopathy, I lost connection to. 81328 is fabulous, but only a piece of this place that I call home.

And 81328 is changing. Changing in ways that I don’t love. I’ve caught myself, many a time, mumbling under my breath, “fucking newcomers.” I have felt crowded and curmudgeonly.

Dating TAM has drawn me out of that tiny world. I have spent vast amounts of time reacquainting myself with people and places that have been out of my range. It has been lovely.

I have had a renewed love affair with the community at large.

So when I learned that I would have to move, I began a list of what I would need in a new home to make it okay to leave this one.

quiet. private. views. birds. space. closer to TAM. excellent landlords (because mine are the very best.) liveable inside space – although I can be quite creative so inside wasn’t quite as important as outside. space for Elvis without being so close to anyone that I would have to worry about him taking a leg off a passerby. solitude and beauty.

most importantly, a place to sit outside and drink my coffee naked if I want to.

One morning a place popped up on FB, I called, I went there immediately (the Jersey Girl pushed her way right up to the front of the line) and I fell in love.

Primarily because of the one requirement that wasn’t on the list (because I never thought it could be)…

It’s in the Desert.

Yes, my dear readers, I am moving to the desert. Red rock, sand, cactus, cliffrose, scorpions, lizards, heat. My heart’s desire.

It’s about fucking time.

This new home meets all of my other desires except it’s farther away from TAM, not closer. But he is lovely and supportive and we will make the extra driving work. It’s only 15 minutes more.

My view to the south is a giant sacred mountain. To the north, it’s open pasture all the way to the border of our local National Monument – a canyon landscape that I will be able to wander at will, filling my soul with magic and beauty. Between my home and the slickrock is a creek that feeds into the river which holds me heart.

And, it’s here. It’s not leaving the state. I’m still going to shop at the same grocery store. I’m still close to my children and my dearest friends. I will come back to 81328 to work, but then I will return to a refuge in the canyons. A place that feels a million miles away.

I’m dropping almost 2000 feet in elevation.

No more digging my way out of multiple feet of snow.

I realize, remember really, that I am a wanderer. Nomadic. Before coming here, I had never lived in one place for more than two years. I get it from my mom; she too is an adventurer. I stayed in one place for so long because I raised my children here.

And because I love it.

But the kids are out and doing great. And I do most of my work from home. And I have no choice but to move.

With this sudden freedom, my hunger to explore new places, creating a home in an as yet unlived-in community, can be fed. I hate moving, but I love to “move in.”

I like to mix it up and I haven’t for so very long.

I feel a certain sense of freedom. I am spreading my wings. I am expanding. Leaving my safe little world. While a bit nerve-wracking, it feels like growth, power, self-love.

It feels like the very right, next thing in my life.

I have made this decision based solely on what I want. I’m not moving to a ranch because of a man. I am not moving to a shitty ski town because of a man. I am not giving up my desert dreams because of another young man and his bad choices.

I am doing this because it will feed my soul.

So goodbye 81328 – you have been so good to me. I have felt safe here. I feel loved. I have friendships that I will continue to nurture and value. I will remain a part of this community, but with some distance.

 

 

 

 

 

emily

Emily

4/21/04

Emily was the person who showed me how to dress up a pair of Carhartt’s. She made competent look feminine.

She taught me how to smoke Drum.

She taught me things about my husband that I would never have understood, but she did because she knew him in a different way. And, she was like him in so many ways that I am not.

She inspired me to be more creative in the field – she made crafty little charts for teaching the stars.

She hoovered everything in my house, including every last noodle spilled in the back of the pantry.

She loved chocolate and red wine.

Emily was one of the most beautiful women I have ever laid eyes on with her green eyes and glorious hair. She taught me the joys of curls and the necessity of blowing my hair out straight.

She could Indian Leg Wrestle like nobody’s business. I’ve seen her flip men twice her size like they were ants.

She always had a drip on the end of her nose – the Emily Drip.

She was the saddest person that I had ever met.

She was also the strongest person that I had ever met. I’ve never seen anyone fight her disease like she did. She was tough.

She taught me that Taureans are not only grounded and earthy, but can also be verbally abusive.

She read the ENTIRE Country of Marriage at our wedding. She cried with my father. She wore my rehearsal dinner dress at our wedding.

She taught me that a woman could be competent, burly skilled, talented and strong, yet still be feminine and like to wear dresses.

She could ski.

She fell off a cliff while making a movie and lived to tell about it. She lost a knee cap and still had better legs than me.

She had the ability to love so intensely that it hurt.

She flaked out on everyone, pissed all of us off, yet came through just when we were about to give up on her.

She always had pictures of her friends around.

She was Everett and Bowen’s godmother.

She had this way of saying hello that made you smile no matter what kind of bad mood you were in.

She held my hand through so many a dark night when I thought I would die.

She was the glue that kept so many of us together.

When she checked into the hospital, we had long phone conversations about how much fun it was to be crazy. I used to tell her that I was jealous that she was in the loony bin and I still had to deal. She didn’t take that the wrong way.

She went through so much and every day tried so hard to smile when she woke up.

She made baby bird sounds in the morning.

You couldn’t leave your food bag lying out without her scarffing all of your treats. She was the reason for the invention of the “Guy Bag”.

She loved Tom, even when he wore those god-awful blue shorts.

She made me smile.

One thing that you could always count on with Emily was that she would flake out on you. But it was never a reflection of her love for you.

She loved me.

She loved my boys.

She loved her family so very much and shared them with all of us. I knew her nephew as if I saw them every day.

What you saw was who she was – no games with Emily.

She was a spit-fire. Easily pissed off and just as quick to forgive.

She loved to take baths in our claw-foot tub. She loved late-night conversations about Mike and Tom.

She brought squash to our house the last time she came and made us dinner. She taught us how to make Henro’s potatoes. She and Mike brought us honey from Mexico which still sits on our counter, permanently crystallized.

She was my best friend – my sister.

She could annoy me like no other and make me feel like the most special person in the world.

She always told me that she loved me.

She hurt so badly that she couldn’t go on.

 

Chicklets

I got to see one of my chicklets yesterday.

To be honest here, this shelter-in-place thing hasn’t really changed my life all that much. I am an isolator by nature; I constantly crave more time alone, in my house, with no social obligations, and no schedule.

If I could take away the threat of loved ones starving, losing their shirts (or homes or businesses) or dying, this would be the ideal existence for me.

Except for one thing: I can’t see my mommy or my boys.

Mom is a million miles away, but my babies are just 30 miles from here, together, and I can’t get my hands on them.

It is really hard on me to be living through this sketchy, scary, uncertain time and not be able to protect or at least care for my children. I just want to get my hands on them so much – I need a squeeze from their big boy arms.

I need the opportunity to criticize their choices, question what they’re eating, tell them that their bathroom needs cleaning.

I need the opportunity to be their overbearing, too involved, co-dependent mommy.

It’s a killer.

I’ve thought about going to their place to sit in their parking lot and yell up to them on their balcony. I’ve considered bringing them food to place on their doorstep.

Honestly, I’ve thought that I would break quarantine to get my hands on them. I mean, really, if one of them gets sick, I’m going in, so why not do it now?

And of course, I understand the implications and risks involved with that impetuous move, and therefore, have not driven over the hill to serve my selfish needs, instead, making do with a phone call here and there.

But, yesterday, this one and his sweet live-in gal pal stopped by my cabin just to get some face to face time.

(And to pick up a package for the girl that arrived in my PO Box, but I can pretend that they came all this way just to see me.)

It was so so good to see them, but it was hard, really really hard, to stay 6 feet away. It simply feels wrong to socially distance myself from my child. It feels wrong for a mother, this mother, me, to stand back from my own child, to view my own flesh and blood as a potential enemy or for me to be a risk to him.

The sense that we are all living with right now – the sense that anyone we see could be toxic to our own well-being, or worse, that we could ruin someone else’s life just by existing – is too much when it comes to my babies.

It simply goes against nature.

I had to fight my instinct to cuddle, nurture, connect with, and feed this person for whom I’ve been caring for 23 years.

At one point he stepped towards me, momentarily forgetting that we can’t hug, and I instinctively stepped back, as if he were a threat.

That moment was hard. Sad.

Necessary.

Before they stopped by I wasn’t sure that I wanted to see my kiddos because I don’t want to have to socially distance myself, and I wasn’t sure that when one of them was right in front of me, I would have the inclination, will power, or even desire to stay 6 feet apart.

And I was sorely tempted to go in for the hug.

And then I considered TAM, and my co-workers, and TAM’s co-workers, and the gal at the grocery store and the liquor store and the pot shop and at the trailhead where I run; I couldn’t, in good conscience put them at risk.

And vice versa, I couldn’t put my son, his girlfriend, and all of my other chicks who live under the same roof, at risk.

And instinctively, involuntarily, I stepped back from my boy and instead, washed my hands.

It sucked.

But, while it sucked, it was also fantastic to have one of my own, at my home, in the flesh, smiling, laughing, healthy and well even for just an hour.

The natural instinct is to physically protect my boys, and their loved ones, by wrapping my arms around them and bringing them in close.

But instead, I need to honor and act on that instinct by keeping them all at bay.

So, I sent them on their merry way, hug-free, each with a roll of toilet paper tucked under their arms.

 

 

 

 

today’s project

Quarantine day #nofuckingclue.

This morning, I decided to polish all of my silver jewelry which I don’t do very often being of the mindset that if you wear it enough, the tarnish will just rub off.

It’s like, if you leave your dirty laundry in the hamper long enough, it comes back out clean.

I pulled out things I haven’t worn in years – mostly because they were too tarnished. Or, I just got lazy and wear the same things over and over.

I found my grandmother’s engagement ring, my great aunt’s delft china bracelet, and two silver bracelets from boys whose names I don’t remember.

I have a whole new collection of accessories.

It’s like I had Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

 

The City Market

My essentials list finally got big enough to justify a trip to the store.

Grabbed the list. Grabbed the bags. Grabbed my newly crafted grey paisley mask, and out the store I pranced.

All kinds of excited to see other human beings.

Which turned out to be rather disappointing because walking into a food store with everyone glaring suspiciously over top of their masks and avoiding all contact with each other feels really fucking creepy and post-apocalyptic and not fun at all.

I sat in my truck before walking into the store, watching to see if others were wearing masks because there’s this part of me that is so averse to hysteria that I still wonder if this is all a bit dramatic.

I didn’t want to look pretentious.

I firmly decided that yes, I would do it. Over my ears it went, immediately steaming up my glasses. I put on my non-latex gloves, grabbed my shopping bags knowing that I would have to bag my own groceries if I insisted on using them, grabbed a freshly disinfected cart and a handful of wipes and aimed straight for Starbucks.

Not getting a lotta lattes these days.

I screamed out my order through my double-thick muzzle, smiled at the cashier even though he didn’t know it and waited impatiently for my fix.

Next, I had a prescription to pick up so I got in line for the pharmacy.

I looked up as I lifted my cup and caught the eye of the pharmacist who watched me attempt to drink my coffee through my mask.

Yeah, I did that.

 

news from the underground

I’m not depressed. Not technically. I’m actually in fairly good spirits.

But I am feeling an emotional toll from this fucking weird-ass time in our world.

It’s showing up in my inability to concentrate.

I can sit down to work, and focus for hours…

IF, I am not interrupted.

Alas, once something distracts me from what I am doing, like a wasp buzzing around the living room or the dog barking at the neighbor, I can’t recover.

I have organized every piece of paper, every letter that needs a response, my cases, my files – each file labeled with a to-do list on the front, every item accounted for.

Couldn’t be more organized, more straightforward, more distraction proof, and yet,  when my concentration is broken, I can’t rein it back in.

I try. I re-read what’s in front of me. I tell myself, with my out-loud voice, what I was doing and what needs to happen next, as in, “Pick up the blue pen, sign your name, fold the letter, put it in the envelope, address it, stamp it, take it to the mailbox.”

I pick up the blue pen and next thing I know, I’m creating a grocery list.

I look back at the pile on my desk and it looks like someone else’s Chinese homework to me – nothing I can make sense of.

It is SO hard to keep my brain on track.

My head is so exhausted and overwhelmed and over-fed.

Too much information that is too much to process.

Everything takes extra thought – did I wash my hands? Did the mailperson wash her hands? How can I mail this without having to go to the desk at the post office? How can I hand this file off without touching it? Did I touch my face? Where’s my dog?

Where the fuck is my dog?

He no longer wants to come into the house, particularly at night when I want him to.

He’s gotten all weird and wormy and fearful and anxious and odd.

He’s sitting outside right now, in the dark. The only way that I will get him in tonight is to go outside and drag him in with a leash.

Even he is feeling the emotional toll.

Maybe instead of trying to focus, I should just go lie down with a tennis ball in the driveway.

 

Prine

I’m sad today that John Prine is dead.

So I am going to listen to his music all day long.

And as I sit here, appreciating every word, I think, “Why did I not listen to him for so long?”

And then I remember…

My ex-husband LOVED to hear his own voice.

And he thought he had a superior singing voice.

Bad combination.

But what made it worse was that while he sang, boisterously, to John Prine, he tried to imitate him.

It just came across as if he was singing out of his nose.

He’s probably doing it right this minute.

I shudder to think.

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?