Monday, October 28, 2013
Jahnean has a new bumpber sticker on her WindStar...something political about gays and straights, that is embarrassing because it overlooks Lesbian Feminism...so typical of the masculinist Southern homo community.
Old Age, I decided, is a gift. I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometimes despair over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my mother!), but I don't agonize over those things for long. I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging. Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 & 70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love ... I will. I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old. I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things. Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect. I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver. As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore.Quest-ioning One's Self is rudder worship. Sage says so, says so!!! I've even earned the right to be wrong. So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day. (If I feel like it)
Monday, October 21, 2013
Monday, October 07, 2013
Sunday, September 01, 2013
When I was 14, my boyfriend at Marian Catholic High School functions was a varsity fullback by the name Isaac Diaz. He was cool, suave, and popular with everyone except my father, who saw me give him a hug after playing a winning game. Dad caught me alone in the garage later that afternoon, and gave me an ultimatum: If he ever saw me hanging around with another Spic, he said he was gonna cut me up in little pieces and bury me in the backyard. And I believed him. He didn’t know it then, and still doesn't now, that he’s the one responsible for switching on my social conscience concerning racism, sexism, and Catholic bigotry. He was also the reason that I didn’t get to go to the Senior Prom when I was a Junior, because the only guy who asked me was the VERY exotic foreign exchange student from Brazil, Sergio something, who looked Portuguese but would pass as a spic to my father, so I didn’t even ask if I could go. He never caught us though, on our morning walks to the pomegranate tree on the next block, for a snack before classes started. I did manage to go to the Homecoming dance the next year and meet up with my buddy/friend Frank Concha, who was a Philipino who looked black, and danced like one. Thank goodness I found your Dad on the beach that summer before my Senior year, so I had a ride to my Prom in his white ’58 T-bird with a black landau roof, and power windows, only to be called swab-bait by my classmates. Your Dad proposed to me in that car, and that’s how I got as far away from my father as I could get. We did spend a year getting me acquainted with the Williams family, and getting me pregnant in Apollo,Pa. before we drove back to Calif. for a job at North Island NB, in Coronado, in a ‘62 Rambler that we had to trade-in for a yellow ’67 Mustang, because preggies me couldn't fit behind the wheel of the Pennsylvania car. After Boo was born I flew with you kids back to PA, and your Dad followed with Blossom,the cat, in a U-haul, towing a new 71 Vega station wagon that we bought to haul an early Sears minibike, but you know the rest of THAT story. Thought you might like to know that yer Mom had California car lust, and that I got married for that T-bird, which your Dad bought from one of my bridesmaid’s father, and he bought me the Mustang for having his baby, you. I didn’t like the minibike, but he’d gotten that for being a daddy to his Mother’s first girl. Anyhoo…back to the social conscience background. I heard about NOW on the telly when Title 9 was passed to promise equal funding for girl’s sports programs in schools, and went to a meeting in E.Washington, and fell in love at first sight with Gray. She was the first woman I ever loved, so she was my introduction to gay rights, even tho neither she nor I were gay, but I understood that issue too, and could relate to it. (when I told my father that I might wanna join the Navy and be a pharmacist to start medical training to become a veterinarian after discharge, he scotched the only idea I’d come up with in HS, because of the ‘lesbian threat’ in the Waves…he made it clear that I was being raised to marry and have catholic grandbabies. (You were so baptized, by the way.) Is it any wonder I became so radical as to take off on my own when Becky got to first grade, to join the Revolution, and change the World? Can you even imagine how painful it is for a woman with my IQ, to be raised and surrounded by people only close to average? I was so close to suicide by the time I left, that being alone was the least of my fears. And I’d bet that you hurt so bad, you never prayed for my safety. Any questions?
Thursday, August 15, 2013
As I was approaching my first Saturn Cycle, I dreamed of being more than just an average housewife and mother. I wanted to change the world I’d been raised to fit into, the world I’d delivered my children into, to be one in which adventure and personal growth could be achieved without being ground down to a common denominator of passive acceptance and dumb luck. I didn’t want an ordinary life of raising ordinary children to become ordinary cogs in a system of ordinary sacrifice and struggle. I wanted to walk the shining path I saw before me, the path that led to real freedom, and the chance to make a difference; a path that my kids could follow without losing faith in their abilities to make the world a better place. Liberation was not so much a goal for me as it was a means to become unshackled from the expectations that chained me to a grist mill, the same chains that my children would inherit from an average, discontented mother if I didn’t make a radical effort to change the course of my life. Having no marketable job skills and only marginal talents, I had no other choice but to leave my kids safely tucked with their father and his family, as I made the jump into the ruthless, dog-eat-dog, world of sexist, racist, classist society of strangers, alone, with no economic, marital or political status, with nothing but my naked feminism and my willingness to hold fast to the idea that I had an obligation to do whatever I could to make the world a better place for myself, my children, my fellow travelers, in this one life I owned. I almost didn’t make it through the first two years. Leaving my family and sisters tore a hole in my heart and I still weep when I remember the terrible loss, the awesome guilt, the horrible pain of knowing that I could never return to the fold that I had so drastically changed with selfish ambition and cold desire to become someone important enough to right the wrongs of an indifferent society. I was crazy with grief and the idiocy of believing that I could just volunteer my services to change the world, to heal the ignorant, to accomplish revolution of the social order, one person at a time. Suffice it to say, that I did get tutoring at the hands of the mental health establishment, which eventually convinced me that I had to learn how to make a living as something other than a revolutionary feminist or die an unsung martyr to masochistic idealism. So I abandoned my attempts to infiltrate women’s centers and lesbian affinity groups and took advantage of a displaced homemaker’s training program to become a member of the pink-collar labor market as a nursing assistant in old folks’ homes. For ten years, I privatized my radical tendencies, complied with rules of behavior and dress codes and actually learned to care about the needs of others. I loved the work and it took me a long time to get used to being paid to do something I really would have done for just the satisfaction of being loved and needed. The paycheck gave me the freedom to make a home for myself and my community of misfit artists and musicians and poets who did our living and loving and world-changing on the street as guerrilla thespians. And we did make a difference when we occupied the campus of Syracuse University to demand that they divest their stock portfolio of South African apartheid. We must have been one of the last straws because very shortly after our movement hit campus, apartheid fell and we were all astounded further when the Wall fell in Berlin. My employment in nursing homes ended shortly thereafter because I was arrogantly determined to make a comparable difference at my worksite by arranging to organize a union presence, activities for which I got fired and blackballed. My co-workers did vote in the union and invited me back, but I was already suffering job-related wear and tear, so I left home again to join the Rainbow Family of deadheads and hippies. Only to find myself living in a police state where there is no free camping. I traveled in a Volkswagen, up and down the Californicated coast trying to make a home for myself and my dogs only to be told that I am too old to be of use and that I take up too much room and that my grant-writing skills aren’t worth a salary because the alternative culture is full of volunteers who are happy to donate their talents to the Cause. So I went back to a mental health counselor, got diagnosed with depression, Lyme disease and osteoarthritis and retired to the desert with a nut check from Social Security, something I had always avoided like the plague because I thought it would damage my credibility as a writer. I was delusional thinking I had any. The irony of all the years I spent in Syracuse was hearing Karen DeCrow warn against the trap that was women’s culture as she stepped down from the presidency of NOW, and after being barred from that culture on my arrival at the doorstep of her hometown women’s “club,” I was forced to gather beautiful New York men around me who could feel empowered by my feminism, not threatened by it, and that we together could accomplish such a moral victory by making an ethical stand and sharing a very certain pride of actually accomplishing real change. Karen must have been right, in her own way. Women’s culture failed to get the ERA ratified, reproductive freedom is still a political football and the politics of sexuality is clamoring for the bondage of marriage. Woman, as an independent individual is still shackled by trite convention, her dignity, security and pleasure still measured with the shortest stick. This one woman, however, has accomplished much on any everyday basis with the life and time allotted to me, and I do feel satisfied, justified even, that my choices have been good ones, and that if my children knew the woman I’ve become, they would be proud of their mother. The personal IS political IS personal. And it’s all been worthwhile.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
I like to think I learned in school that the S