IT SHOULD BE LIKE A HALF AN HOUR VOLUME 8 : YOU SAIL AWAY FROM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD ON THIS TRIP BABY

But you will pay…. you gonna pay tomorrow; you will pay tomorrow….

Ha! Maybe this is indicative of where I am in my life, but this song popped into my head about a week ago, and I cannot get enough of it. It is playing in the house constantly.

Today Dave woke me up to go running, which I think makes him a great guy, because when you move across the country there is a lot of fast food involved, not to mention that I have, really, two food obsessions only, Mack Mancos’ pizza (now called Manco and Manco after a bitter family feud, but for me it will always be Mack Mancos, and the bitter feud just makes it that much tastier. Delicious pizza made by questionable people… what could be better?), but that is in New Jersey, far far away, and my other food obsession is In-N-Out Burger, which happens to be never farther than five miles away at the moment. My daughter has a new friend who recently immigrated from China, and she does not have good English yet, but she knows how to say “double-double,” and she would eat there eight days a week if she could, and I’m not that far behind her, though my greed is limited to one cheeseburger, no spread, ketchup and mustard, raw onion, extra pickles. Man am I hungry! So, suffice it to say I was glad Dave woke me up to go running. But, I had trouble really waking up, and I lay on my side looking at him, eyes fluttering open and closed, and I thought, “preview to dying, here you go, it’ll be just like this, fluttering in and out until you flutter out. It won’t be so bad.” Ha! I’m not a dark person. Of course, Dave could always go first, in which case I’d be lonely, and I’d have to buy a Roomba.

“No! Save me, save me from tomorrow. I don’t want to sail with this ship of fools, no no.”

The singer, Karl Wallinger, also wrote the song, and the lyrics are just amazing, IMHO.

“Avarice and greed, gonna drive you over the endless sea.” What drives us all, except the desire to live better than we are currently living? And it keeps us going and going in an endless march of carrot and stick. If you’re not marching your either rich enough to stop, or you’ve given up.

Last night was my second night tutoring online for a new company, and it was a cluster fuck of experiences, beginning when the platform wouldn’t load and I literally had to delete it from my computer and re-download and install. Technology could not work if we weren’t all way more tech savvy than we give ourselves credit for; we’re all tech support now. But that’s Vanilla Sky, and we’re on World Party, not Paul McCartney. Every time I finished feverishly typing with one student a pop-up would appear advising me that there was another student and I had 14 seconds to prove I was there and accept the student. I imagine being the person on the other end of any chat service is like that, like when you chat with Amazon people, and I have a lot more empathy for them. I plan to be a lot less demanding in the future, which I think Karl Wallinger would probably be down with. It’s a rat race, driving me over the endless sea on a ship of fools I don’t want to be fucking sailing with. Karl, save me from tomorrow. I keep telling myself it’s only temporary, and I don’t have to show up if I don’t want to. But I’m gonna do it, “Drawn by the promise of the joker and the fool, by the light of the crosses that burned… you will pay tomorrow”

“Oh oh oh oh
Save me
Save me from tomorrow”

Which of us hasn’t had that sentiment?

“I don’t want to sail with this ship of fools”

It helps that Karl sounds like Mick Jagger on this track, and I love the way he smiles through the whole video like he’s having a great time prophesying my doom. And my doom is so damn catchy! This is an easy one to get stuck in your head over and over, but I don’t mind it being an ear worm, not at all. I can hear it in the shower, I can hum it to myself in the dark night, I can sing it while I pour the morning into the cup, dark, sugary, enticing me to keep rolling on the ship of fools.

Trust me on this one… get on board.

FAREWELL QUEEN ELIZABETH

Above is one of the many photos of the young Queen Elizabeth.

Below is a photo of my Aunt Sara, probably when she was a bit older than the above photo of the Queen, but it’s the only one I could find of her easily (without groping through shoeboxes full of photos).

In my family we always felt like they could have been sisters. And both were, I believe, very dutiful and correct ladies in their lives.

It’s most certainly the end of an era, and I feel that these two women, both gone now, would have had much in common and been good friends, had they ever had the opportunity to meet.

My Aunt Sara was, I think, a sensitive creative person who was married to the wrong man, a man who was extra intelligent, and extra devoted to rules and duty, and not very loving to a creative and soft-hearted woman who did not manage to remain that way during their marriage.

My aunt was a gifted water-color painter, and sewer. She could make complicated clothing like lined suit jackets and silk scarves with rolled edges.

My aunt once told me that, in the year or so before Marilyn Monroe passed away, she had often thought of inviting her to dinner, because she looked, in the news, to be sad, and tired, and she thought she could use a place to take a break from her life. When Marilyn passed away, my aunt was sad but not surprised, she’d said. I tell this story because I always felt it was perceptive of my aunt, to clue into another woman’s pain, and I think it would have been lovely if that dinner offer had been sent and accepted.

In many ways, the Queen, because she had wealth and privilege, probably had an easy life, and in other ways, for those same reasons, it was probably hard.

My aunt was married to an incredibly smart, respected, and talented doctor, who was also very critical of her and unkind. My aunt had a lot of money, children who had little to nothing to do with her, a lot of time alone on her hands, and a sensitive artist side that was largely unfulfilled. She was, I believe, also deeply in love with the wrong man.

Prince Philip seems to have been a strong and controlling person, dominant, and I wonder, had Elizabeth not become queen, with all eyes upon them, if he would have been loving, kind, and faithful for life. My uncle certainly took pride in being faithful, but it was like it was a chore he shouldered with little complaint, when in fact he complained a lot, and often, and embarrassingly publicly. Many times my aunt spoke in front of me of how she wanted to leave him, but she was, I think, too in love to ever go.


Queen Elizabeth had her problems and missteps like all of us, but she was who she was, it seems to me, unfailingly, when I am certain there were times she would have liked to have been different than what was expected of her. I think she did a lot to bolster morale and, in general, help her beloved country through the challenges all developed nations have. In any case, she seems to have done more than a good job at it, and I hope she’s enjoying a cocktail now with her beloved spouse, and all their former corgis.

And I think it would be more than lovely if she could, now, in the beyond places whatever and wherever they are, get to meet her doppelgänger, my aunt, Sara.

IT SHOULD BE LIKE A HALF AN HOUR VOLUME 7

“Grumpy Old Man” (by Remi Wolf).

Remi Wolf, you delightful youngster, I wish you lived next door to me.

I hope, if you read this post, you will take a listen to her song, and even try a few more by her.

This starts out with a little funk thing going on, bass guitar and maybe some upright bass too? What do I know? It sounds like it. When I hear that, I immediately want to get up and start moving.

Then you get these odd little bells dropping in at the end of a section, like someone’s rung the doorbell, or like the bell before an announcement in a 1960s department store, “Ladies shoes on special this week in our shoe department, floor three.”

“Bo Diddly buy baby a diamond ring, do do do, dodo dodo” wild little flourish there that seems to have nothing to do with the theme of the song lyrics except in the general “don’t take my stuff” vibe at the end.

And the video. Weird, Delightful. Odd. Funny. It looks like she made the video with her cousin Jeffrey and her neighbor Mr. Mackinaw. She definitely thrifted her awkward blue raincoat and her Devo energy dome hat from the 1970s, and she’s wearing a pair of glasses you could have taken off of Rhoda’s face.

I first heard Miss Remi on NPR.

Okay, let’s pause here and thank His Noodly Wonderfulness for NPR. Are you listening to NPR? OMGosh, I could write a whole thing about that. It’s the best, especially if you’re a poor adjunct and you have to commute to hell-and-gone to make a few bucks.

Anywho, I first heard Miss Remi on NPR, as well of a host of other music I just love, and will give a shout-out to Lily Allen, who was also brought to me by NPR. And I don’t think that Lily and Remi are anything alike, but they are both fresh crisp singers with a sense of humor, which I love, since I, myself, me, am also hysterical. I am. Come hang-out and see. And how do I know that both of these ladies are on fleek? Sophie likes them both too, and she doesn’t like anything musically that I like. No jazz, no Amy Winehouse, no Beatles, no Stones, no Split Ends. But, she does love Cake and Weezer… so go figure. Because they’re hysterical too, maybe, like her mom. 😉

I heard this song, by Remi Wolf, when I was driving, and when I got home I immediately started asking my Alexa to play it. Then I looked up the video, and I was hooked, and I started doing her “pull the horn on the big truck” dance around the kitchen. I even kinda want that awkward blue coat.

I’m in my 50s, so, to Remi Wolf, sadly, I’m definitely an old lady, and probably not her desired fan base, but I love this woman. And I love, from what I can see from when I became aware of things that were “cool” in the 70s, to now, how society has really shifted, at least in terms of musicians and people we like on YouTube videos, influencers, whatever, to allow for so much more diversity. Wikipedia says that Wolf is bisexual, Russian, Persian, and Italian, so that’s a little diverse, and she’s not some “perfect doll” looking singer either. She’s funky and fun, and creative with her persona and her look. I just moved back to Los Angeles so that my daughter could go to this relatively new arts charter school, which is in collaboration with the public school in the area, and is awesome, and I see, there, though the principals of the combined schools still wear business formal, that the kids are really free, so free, and so imaginative, and so creative, and so accepting of each other’s weirdness, or lack of weirdness. My daughter gravitates toward funny people, as she would, having been raised by a mom who’s hysterical, but aside from that, she really doesn’t care, and everyone (only about 1/3 of the kids have opted-in to the art part of the school) is cool with each other. Anyone can eat lunch with anyone. My daughter hangs with all girls at the moment, opposite from elementary school when she hung with mostly boys, but some of them speak barely any English, some are of mixed heritage, some are probably not straight, but they may be too young to know, some are fancy dressers, some are punks, my daughter is a hoodies and sweats person currently (which is amusing because the little girl who hung with the boys was 100% dresses and glitter), some of the kids have hair color from the Crayola box, others have perfectly boring hair. If one of them hopped up from the lunch table and started doing a Remi Wolf sort of thing, I believe the rest of them would be delighted, and the more outgoing would join in and the more ingoing would enjoy the show. There is this freedom, with many school-age kids, that I don’t think we had when I was a kid, though I certainly had more than my parents had. My brother was 9 years older than me, and I am 8 years older than my sister, so a pretty big span, and I am going to say the acceptance for weirdness did not progress during that time. I was fairly openly weird t school, and my classmates thought I was fairly weird. It wasn’t a “that’s just her vibe; she’s okay” kinda thing. I’d even venture to say the 90s got more buckled down, and that may have stretched over the aughts too. But now things are loosening up.

And, in my view, Remi Wolf is a perfect example of the feeling I feel out here among the kids my daughter hangs with now. Everything is flowing, and free-to-be-you-and-me in a way Marlo Thomas could never have imagined. I know it’s not like that everywhere; it certainly wasn’t like that in Milton; those parents seemed to want their kids to be happy, as long as they weren’t too happy, and as long as that didn’t involve any tastes or interests different than family had always had. And you gotta love sports. Sports. And it seemed to come with a threat of losing your family if you were not in-step. Out here the kids I’ve met seem to flow, like seaweed in the Sargasso Sea, and their parents are there as home base, but not to make the rules. It’s cool. It reminds me of everything I feel in this song, free flow, but okay to be odd, have silly fears, wear clothing that is an awkward shade of blue and a ridiculous hat, and just go, feel the sun, feel the beat, feel the joy of being who and what you are. And the sports kids hang with the band kids who hang with the no-extra-stuff kids who hang with the autistic kid who flutters from group to group hugging everyone and no one minds or says, “This ain’t your group.”

So, yeah, I could hear this song all day. And, looking up Remi for this piece, I see it may have been used in a macaroni and cheese ad, and why not? Macaroni and cheese is delicious.

Remi Wolf is delicious. Rock-on Woman! I adore you.

DELAWARE

Route 1, runs from I-95 (where I-95 hooks a right into Maryland) down/south to Rehoboth Beach ALL of Delaware below the canal is called “Slower Lower.”

Not everyone is going to agree with me, of course. But all sorts of people like all sorts of different things, and dislike all sorts of different things, and that is okay. I dislike Delaware, where I previously lived, and that is okay.

Delaware.

I grew up in and around Philly, and Delaware was always there. In the days when people bought consul TVs and huge stereos Delaware is where you bought them because it has no sales tax. And I had an uncle in the Air Force, and he lived, when he retired from it, in and around the Dover area. We visited a bit, and I remember my father was impressed that they had larger houses on big pieces of land for cheap. And why? Because, Delaware.

The first state, second smallest, and, until recent years, almost entirely a rural. It’s that last part that get’s ya. I have read the stories about hipsters who leave the city and land in some rural area and open up a micro brew and live happily ever after. And I guess the beer guy, Dogfishhead beer, did that. He married one of the wealthiest girls in the county, and was able to get land and resources and everything else a guy could need to brew his overly-hoppy, painstakingly hipstery beer. What-ev. The rural thing ain’t it, IMHO.

They say that there are 200 chickens for every man woman and child in Delaware. Get it? One person = 200 chickens.

It snuck up on me, the rural.

At first I was just like, well, I’m 10 miles from the Atlantic Ocean; this is cool. And it was, at the time, cheaper than many areas in the USA that are 10 miles from the ocean, any ocean. And the fields, when you’re new, or maybe any time, are something. They blind the view in the summer and fall, when the corn is 6 feet high, and the rest of the year they lay out flat, expansive views of the land as far as you can bear to look, and they change color with the seasons and plantings. I like them in early spring best, when they turn bright green, and my second favorite is fall, when the chopped corn stalks stick up like daggers, and the bales of hay dot the fields in a way that always reminds me of the cover of Houses of the Holy.

But, in rural areas people are insular, and they like it like it is, and they like it even more, is possible, like it was, and not like it could be or might be. And they like the people to be the people who always were, and they don’t really want you moving here, and they’re not welcoming, and all that you might bring looks to them like a virus from Wuhan looks to the rest of us. How did you find this private place of theirs, and how can they get you to get out, and not tell anyone else about it? Brigadoon the place, that’s what they want. The whole Saturday Evening Post story that Trump sold to the white man, the rural folks bought that hook, line, and sinker..

This is not true of the whole state, but of the part they call slower-lower. The locals sell bumper stickers that say LSD and Lower Slower Delaware to trick the newbies, because the name is actually Slower, Lower Delaware, like that, so the newbies look stupid in the eyes of the born-heres. They mark ’em, right on their cars. They also mark themselves, with these special black license plates that are no longer available, so you have to have been here in the “before times,” which means any time before YOU showed up, to have one. Newcomers who really want to be real-deal rural will spend thousands to buy the plate from a dead guy’s car.

Facebook is a great place to see this kind of thing in action. Someone will post to a local group, “Is the corn man out today?” And someone will reply, “He just left; he ran out of corn.” And another person will say, “He ran out of corn because all you people moved here and now we can’t get any anymore.”

Never mind that the corn man might be damn glad to sell-out of corn, to anybody, local or not. There’s an open current of hostility. And don’t get me started on the pick-up trucks. But, just one story, imagine standing in line in a freezing drizzle to vote in the presidential election, and a huge pick-up, with gigantic Trump flags out the back, is circling the line playing Ted Nugent at a nuclear volume, and the truck keeps getting waaaay to close for comfort to the line of waiting voters. Or, imagine going to one of the many drive-on beaches, and a pick-up truck sets up camp next to you, and proudly plants their “Fuck Biden, and Fuck you for Voting for Him” flag in the sand next to you. Or imagine driving these country roads, and a pickup truck seems to be trying to run you off the road, and the driver yells something and gives you the finger when he passes you. Okay, that was three stories, not one, but, and there are so many more.

If you live east of The One (route 1, not Keanu Reeves), and only venture to The One for dinner out or some such thing, you can basically convince yourself that you’re in vacation wonderland, and everyone around you seems to be too. But if you’re west of The One it can be a very different experience, from your locally born neighbors to the chicken trucks carrying soon-to-be-dead birds everywhere in miserable conditions, to the general attitude of folks. I remember one time saying to my local produce lady how I liked her watermelons because they were never “sandy.” “Sandy?” she snapped. “What’s sandy? You mean mealy?” I guess yes, I meant mealy, but I grew up saying sandy. From that day on she seldom had a smile for me, because I was not from there; I’d used the language of a foreigner. A white person, like her, American-born-and raised, like her, and yet, a dirty foreigner. When a true friend of mine died, a friend who was a local as you could get, but who was, and thought of me as, a true friend though he was local and I was not, his family made certain I knew that I was not going to be included in any memorial of him, because I was not “one of them.”

I guess, if there’s someplace you’ve always wanted to try living in, you should be brave, and try it. If there’s someplace you need to be living in, whether you desire to live there or not, you have to be brave too, and look for those people who are open and accepting, like my friend who died, and take what you can get that makes it better when you can get it. For all the many many pro-Trump and Fuck Biden signs I’ve seen, for all the people who’ve yelled at me in parking lots because of my “Black Lives Matter” window cling, for all the church marquees that post rude and divisive messages in the name of Jesus-the-white-non-Jewish-man there have yet been bright spots, and I leave this post today with one that has always delighted me, what I call The Biden Barn. This photo is my photo, but I know not who The Biden Barn belongs to; I only know I love that person quite a lot.

Wait for it….
Closer…..
Dude, I love you.

I was always so happy to see this through my windshield. Now, I enjoy it being in my rearview mirror.

The Tupperware of My Enemy Is My Friend…Or at Least My Goodwill Donation

Are you like I have been? Do you invite everyone over? When you move someplace new, do you invite the neighbors in, rather than wait for them to possibly invite you? (Pre-Covid and all that…) Are you the first to say, “Need a place to hold it? We can come to my place!”

I am that person.

Or, I should correct, I have always been.

Some people are cautious, with their time, their privacy, their resources, their personhood.

I have not been very good at any of that, and I have always gone on the assumption that everyone will be open and welcoming, given the chance to be so, so why not be the one to start the ball rolling?

I’m less sure of that now, and I don’t think it is a bad thing. In any case, I’m no longer interested in it.

Don’t bemoan my fate. I’ve not become a hater or anything. I’m just changing my priorities, or, I might even say, having some.

Back-in-the-day, as we old-heads say, the people I was having in were usually people I’d grown up with, and their extended new friends/family. That was almost always fine, because we had a life-long understanding of each other, and we knew that the night was going to end with everyone, drunk or sober, belting out “Born to Run” as loud as possible. (That’s right, as LOUD as possible, not as loudly as possible, for we were from Philly, and we didn’t give a good fuck about grammar.) I never had to specify pot-luck. Everyone knew, and the tables would groan under the weight of the too many dishes everyone (many of them fine Italian cooks) would bring. It was pretty great.

But, as happens, we all moved, followed our partners, our passions, or the sun, and ended up too far away for those parties to happen anymore.

I went forward, assuming that everyone would be similar, that people were people like my people, but that is not the case, and, truly, I was dumb-da-dumb-dumb-stupid to think so.

Still, it’s probably good that I went forward into the world swinging wide the doors to my house. I think that’s where my head and my heart were at the time, and I think it was right for me, and lot’s of good came of it, but, ultimately, whatever came of it, good or bad, really wasn’t what I was looking for.

So what was I looking for? What are you looking for? Do you know?

I think some of that changes as we age, and some of it stays the same, of course, Captain Obvious in the house..

My priorities have shifted. They are much more about my family of three, and much less about everyone else. I have been a care-taker, not with the old-school Philly peeps, but with all who came after, more or less, and that’s who I thought I was, and who I thought I wanted to be, and how I thought I mattered in the world.

It has long been a goal of mine to, in some way, matter in the world. And I think I kept that as a hope, clenched in my hand, and now, I’ve let go of it. Whether or not I matter in the world, whether or not anyone knows I was alive after I am dead, these things no longer matter to me. I matter to me, and being happy and enjoying my life matter to me. When I’m dead, I won’t care if I mattered to you or not. I will care, right before I die, if I’ve enjoyed my life, and spent it with the people who matter to me, and not spent it continually courting the people I kept hoping I would matter to. And why did I hope I would matter to them? I think I thought they were cooler than me. How junior high is that? I’m a dope. I’m cool enough on my own.

As I pack up and get ready to move from where I am to someplace that, in my view, is, for a whole host of reasons, better, I am clearing things out, taking car loads of things, things I no longer need or care about, to Goodwill. Putting furniture out and listing it FREE on Craigslist. Instead of opening the door to the house and beckoning people in, I’m opening the door to the house and shooing things out.

Of all the houses I have owned and the apartments I have rented, this is the one I have loved the most, and been the most comfortable in, and now cannot wait to get away from. I accomplished all I could, and now I want to leave it behind; it is too big; it holds too many people and things; it’s so beyond what I need or want that it is a chore. I want to lighten up, to spend my time walking hand-in-hand with my husband, or hitting the beach or the mall with my daughter, or traveling with both of them, just for fun, and, aside from work, which we all must do, not doing a heck-of-a-fuck else. I’ve said my goodbyes, in the way I want to say them, and seen who I want to see, and soon I’ll be on the road, which I love. I love being on the road. I like the new thing, the next chapter, I just don’t like the holding pattern of transition, and the goodbyes before leaving.

So, during this last adventure, here in this big house, I may have had more people in then I have ever had over before, and I have been asked to visit less of those people in their homes than ever before. I ran into a lot of takers. Not that they are, in fact, my enemies (as the title implies…). They just never were true friends. They were just people who were happy to be invited someplace. I gave them something to do that cost them little-to-no effort. They gave me a feeling of purpose, I guess. Occasionally those people, willing or under duress, brought things to the house, and, sometimes, accidentally left them here, and some of those things are serving dishes or plastic-wear (hence the title of this post), or odd little gifts that were stand-ins for time spent together caring about each other, and no matter what it was, it really has no meaning or love behind its presence here, and it all gotta go.

And so too must my attention, care, concern, and friendship. In the words of Roy Orbison, “It’s over; it’s over; it’s over.”

If I sound angry, that is only the limits of the written word. I’m not at all angry. I’m relieved. I never fit here, and the lack of true friendship was only part of the lack of a good fit. But it took me about 3 years to see it, which is 3 too many, and 3 I’ll never get back. For those lost years I am a little dissatisfied with myself, but, I grew me during that time, and I grew my marriage, and I grew my child, who is really a formed person unto herself, and did not fall apart, but thrived, during the pandemic, and of who I am so very fond of and proud to know. I want to give her better soil to grow in than they have here. And I am exploring my heart’s desires, and reaching for what I want, and I am wholly focused on it.

Time, if the pandemic taught us anything, is not limitless. Maybe it is for a virus, or the universe, but for poor frail humans it is very much a trip that comes to an end. And, maybe the second thing I feel I learned is that when, where, and how that end happens is not in our control. So, up until that ending comes and knocks at your door, you had better be spending all the time you can afford to (meaning all your away from work time) doing things that will make you miss you, when you are gone. And to hell with everything else. I’m certainly going to try to do it, and I’m going to be very imperfect at it, and it’s about damn time I shifted my focus from out-there, and on you or you or you, or that guy, to in here, and on me and we three.

With love to Wes Anderson, for teaching me all I ever needed to learn:

INSTEAD OF WORRYING ABOUT WHAT THE K-12 SCHOOL IS TEACHING YOUR KIDS, WORRY ABOUT WHAT IT ISN’T

It is a cold October afternoon in 1977. I have just drained the fat off of ground beef that I have browned in a frying pan. I carefully dump it into the casserole dish on top of the cooked and drained elbow macaroni, add in shredded cheddar cheese, a bag of frozen cut green beans, and Mrs. Capcovick’s special sauce. I stir gently, cover the dish with foil, and slide it into a 375 degree oven. In 40 minutes, when my father and brother are home from work, it will be ready for my father, older brother, younger sister, and me to eat for dinner. My mother is already at her job at the Bell Tell switchboard, and will not be home until 1am. My sister is home from school and playing in the living room. I am watching her while I cook. I am 12 years old.

That memory, and that yummy casserole that my family ate many times, was brought to me by my 6th grade home-ec class.

Are you worried that your children are being taught about things they should NOT be taught about in school?

Give it a rest.

Are you worried that your kids will find out that the US was once full of white people who owned slaves, like founding fathers Jefferson and Washington? They already know.

Are you worried that your kids will find out that white racism did terrible things to Black people, and, far too often, still does? They already know this.

Are you worried that your kids, if they are white, will feel badly that white people are sometimes awful to other people because of racism? I am a white person, and I feel badly about this, and I share with my non-white daughter often how ashamed I am of these behaviors, and how imperfect I am at my own reckoning with race. She still loves me, and it’s not bad, feeling bad, and owning that, as a white person, I have a duty to do better. No, I never lynched anyone, and I don’t think anyone in my either immigrant or coal-miner ancestry did either, but I do know that, sometimes, as poor and uneducated as they were, they felt superior due to being white, and said and believed racist things. And for this, I carry shame and sadness, but I still get through my day in a successful way. The fact that I am a product of white people and share the history of racism has not ruined my life. Seriously, all kids know this anyway. Hello, YouTube. If you’re making a mountain out of this molehill you’re both waisting your time, and teaching your kids the wrong thing:

“We don’t look at hard stuff in our pasts (and present) because it makes us feel bad.”

Yeah, don’t teach your kids that. TEACH YOUR KIDS TO DO HARD THINGS. Give them strength and resilience.

AND, give them Mrs. Capcovick.

In 1977, in my middle school, I had math, and science, and English, and social studies, just like my daughter has now. I also had art, and music, and choir, and band could be in there too, and home-ec, and French (or Spanish), and woodshop, and typing, and CPR and first aid, and metal shop, and the dreaded gym class, and guitar lessons, and square dancing, and mechanical drawing, and sewing, and photography, and theater arts, and we also still had recess, and I know there were probably other courses throughout my junior high school experience that I cannot remember. In 1977, between the overlap from when my mom dropped off my little sister with me and went to work, and when my dad and brother came home from work, I made dinner. And often it was Mrs. Capcovicks’ casserole, which I learned in her class in 6th grade. She also taught me to make fettuccine with Alfredo sauce with bacon and peas.

My daughter, in the Cape Henlopen School District in Delaware has math, language arts, social studies, science, band (or choir… kids have to choose 1, and only 1) and, of the 4 quarters in the year, first quarter, gym, second quarter, art, third quarter, health, and fourth quarter, keyboarding. Yup, that’s it.

That is all she is doing.

My daughter is missing out on learning real life skills, like cooking, and having a peek at other things she may have an interest in or aptitude for. All they are doing in the Cape Henlopen School District is teaching the bare minimum to get kids through the standardized tests, and the only after school enrichment they offer is various sports teams.

As a parent, this IS something you should be concerned about.

First of all, these classes that my school district is not teaching are usually hands-on, fun, and engaging. These are nice breaks from the “sit in your chair and think” academic classes. Secondly, these classes offer windows into a world of career possibilities that kids won’t even know about unless they are exposed to them. With a second language you could become an interpreter. With typing you could become a court stenographer. With woodshop you could go into construction. With mechanical drawing: architecture. With sewing: fashion design.

Why aren’t our schools offering these other classes anymore? Have you asked your school district this question?

I also remember, for you parents worried about sex ed, that Mr. Baine, I wanna say, I think it was Baine, taught sex ed. He was super cute and fit, and I had a crush on him, and I remember what he told us about male anatomy. He stood there, with his trim body straight, and put his hands together as if in prayer, and turned that point of the hands down to the floor, and he said, “The penis hangs there like a loaf of Wonder Bread, just hangs there. Unless it is excited.” I was mortified. There were boys in the room too. Mr. Baine said the word penis, and compared it to Wonder Bread. And that is absolutely all I remember about sex ed. Of course, by the time I got into his class, I already knew all about sex, because my mom told me in second grade when I asked. I knew, from second grade on, all about sex, and I never was a pregnant or promiscuous teen. Imagine that.

Wonder Bread, People. Imagine that!

Seriously though, is your school district just getting by, or is it really teaching your kids all about the world, and not just about the basic 4 topics? Ask, and get involved in that. That is something that actually matters. That is something that your kids are losing out on. If you don’t demand it, you will never get it.

Stop shutting down education, and ask for more. Your kids are worth it.

Forward Through Grief

I am one of those annoying people who always has advice, and who is always thinking about how to proceed with life.

When we lose people, places, things, etc., the challenge is moving forward. Sometimes it can feel disrespectful to move forward, as if we are not giving enough notice to grief, and what is gone. Also, though, I have noticed that it sometimes feels, when I am in grief, like I am a rock in a stream. I am still, and grieving, but everything, including the thing being grieved, is whipping past me in the current, and it becomes my choice, I often feel, to decide whether to stay behind, and if so, how long, or whether or not to move forward.

There is a brilliant chapter in the brilliant book, The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, that covers this very point. The chapter, “Speaking of Courage,” illustrates quite clearly how a soldier, home from war, and in grief, is not only passed-by by life, everyone around him that he used to be in step with has moved forward in life, and his time in the war made him behind them, but his grief keeps him behind. He is grieving the loss of a fellow soldier, and feeling responsible for it, and he cannot let go. War, of course, is a shit-show, and none of the foot soldiers are really responsible for what happens after they find themselves in the meat grinder of war, but that lack of control almost makes them hold on to their position as the rock in the stream when they return, and they stay where they are, hoping for a way to affect a situation that they had no control over, and that, for them, is over. For myself, when a pet dies, like my cat Jones, see prior post, I often feel myself asking what might have happened differently to cause a different outcome. I think this double whammy of grief, and trying to control the out-of-control, keeps us still in the water, cemented, while everything alive and good rushes past us.

And, so, we must first (and here is the annoying advice part) tell ourselves that we are allowed to pick our feet up out of the riverbed. We are allowed to recline onto the water, and let the current move us forward until we can start paddling and directing our flow again. The first step to heal is to allow ourselves to move. It’s not disloyal, or shirking our duty, or unkind. There are so many living things around us, still needing and wanting us in our lives, that to stay still is the selfish part as it helps no one.

But how the fuck do you get yourself to loose your grip on the pain of grief, the pain of being out-of-control?

One thing that always helps me is to watch a funny movie, like really funny, can’t help but laugh even a little. Or my favorite movie, which is all about releasing grip, The Darjeeling Limited. That one always helps, even though it’s not funny.

Another tried and true way for me to become alive again is to create. When we lose something, and we respond by creating, we gain something. Maybe it is not as wonderful or large or etc. as what we lost, but it is creation in a space that is left bereft. We begin, in a small way, to fill the void.

So, today, I created my lunch. Homemade hummus (which makes it almost impossible to eat store bought), is what I have created today. My hummus has chick peas (garbanzo beans) in it, and also olive oil, and lemon juice, and tahini, and garlic, and cumin (I love cumin!). To serve my hummus I like to add some chickpeas on top, and some drizzled olive oil, and some ground salt, and… this to me is the genius part, some hand-chopped pistachios. You could make this with any bean of your choice almost (maybe pintos would be too soft), and any spice, and any nut or seed. It would probably be great covered in sesame, or served with little pickles maybe! I ate mine with some tortillas that I laid in a hot cast-iron pan for a minute to stiffen up.

I look out the window at the white tulips atop Jones, and I feel so sad, and I miss him. I told one of the other cats last night as we looked out the window that Jones was on the wrong side of the glass. And he is. But, he had a bad disease that I couldn’t fix, and it broke my heart to let him go. And isn’t that the best we all can hope for, that we break someone’s heart a little when we have to be let go?

But I cannot stop and be a rock in the stream. There are other people and pets I am supposed to be loving, and they deserve me too. I need to start moving in the water again. And creating, even a fancy lunch, is a good way to start.

Today’s Blog Post Is Brought To You By The Letter T

HA! I took this snap, just to see what I’m looking like these days while I tutor… and there it was… Tina Belcher, TUK shoes, and Tom (Robbins). Three Ts. Coincidence? Probably, she typed, with a wry expression on her face.

Lots been going on lately, not all good, but all different.

We said goodbye last week, to Baby Jones, or Jones, or Pinstripe Jones, as he was originally named.

Jones was a very sweet boy. He loved chasing the laser more than anything else, and he liked treats (Temptations) and wet food, and tuna. The funny thing about Jones, he always had his cuddle moments with me, but otherwise he kept to himself, and, just like Rosie, about two weeks before we could see he was sick, he started getting more friendly and cuddly with the other two humans I live with. He is the kitten I stole from a little girl while at the SPCA. Yes, I did that. We were in the kitten cage… she and her mom and me and one other person, and they released about 30 kittens that had just become eligible for adoption into the cage. It was like being in the glass case full of dollar bills from that old TV game show… you know what I mean. There he was, Jones, the striped boy I wanted. I tried to grab him, but he was like lightening around the cage and then, like that, the little girl somehow nabbed him. “I’m sorry; he’s mine,” I said, and took him and turned and walked out of the cage, while she and her mother stared at me with their mouths open. And just last week Jones died, too young, and with a very aggressive form of cancer. Am I sorry I stole him from a little girl? Nope. I’d take a short-lived Jones any day over no Jones at all. He was a very sweet young man. Sorry little girl. But, you’re in your teens now, and probably glad your cat is still alive. And I’m glad that Jones had us to live with in his short life. It is my feeling, having had a few feral cats now as pets (and Jones definitely was the son of a feral cat, and a bit uncivilized himself) that feral cats just don’t get the lifespan of non-feral cats. They have a charm all their own, and they certainly need us more, but they’re going to break your heart sooner than their more domestic brothers and sisters. I think the outdoor life is just hard, down to the cells and the bones.

At one point we had five cats here. And in the last three years, one went back to my mother (she had asked us to take two of her cats, and one, Henry, just never got comfortable around our dog, though our dog basically ignores the cats, so Henry went back to my mother who, after she gave us her two cats, went and got another one! So now Henry is with her, and her other cat, Joey, and is happy.), and Rosie, the feral tortie darling I rescued from a school parking lot that was wedged between I-95 and 295, succumbed to cancer (in her nose, and not treatable) in 2020, and Jones left us this year. It’s curious, because I was so worried about how Jones was going to take traveling when we move next month (in other news, we’re moving), and he always loved Rosie best of all; they often snuggled, and I have felt he’s missed her, and now he’s right next to her, together forever. I would have rather had Jones with me, but maybe he had other ideas about who he wanted to be with. I do think, having had five, that there is a limit to how many you can give good attention to if you have more than one cat per person. I know that we loved Henry, but it seemed like there was always someone else trying to get rubs first, and then add his fear of dogs in… it’s tough to give enough to all. And our dog is a fellow who doesn’t like to share his mom!

I was going to continue… but maybe that’s enough for today. Jones deserves his time, and so does my grief, which feels deep, as it always does when I lose a furry baby. It is down in there, burrowing away into my heart, and it won’t stay quiet for some time to come.

Oh, Baby Jones, Baby Jones, how I miss you. You had the softest most luxurious fur I ever felt, even softer than your long-haired brother. You had a sweet and gentle personality, and you were a big boy; you looked like a mountain lion until the day, oddly enough, you didn’t; you seemed to have gotten smaller overnight, and we should have known that it was not our perceptive abilities that had declined, but your physical ones. I love you, and you’ll always be so special to me, and I hope your journey was easy across the rainbow bridge to find your darling Rosie. Give her a kiss and a cuddle from us.

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