Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Morning Thoughts About Love

Good morning, whoever it is that is out there!

To my great shock, I find that there ARE indeed people checking in on this MOST humble corner of the Wood, and I am grateful indeed for your presence.  My mate encourages me to write; in fact he insists upon it for he understands how many stories there are pent up in me waiting to be told.  I tell you our tale only because I am one of millions caught up in this shakedown -- I am here to represent the effect on We the People of the cataclysmic failures of the Bush administration's "All War All the Time" fiscal policies.

The other day Patrick was teasing me mercilessly about how he loved watching me type --  "your hands flying across the keyboards, your eyes intent" -- well, I lost my train of thought immediately, as I was too busy laughing to hold on to it.

I've heard a lot lately from friends speculating about how and why people choose their partners -- now I know that some of that talk refers to my choice of companions.  My partner, bless him,  as my shiny new psychiatrist told me, "looks like he's barely capable of taking care of himself, much less anyone else."  Now this may be true, but it's something we're working on.

When I met my sweetie I was a woman of means, and I knew very definitely that he wasn't all there, so to speak.  I had forgotten, however, that I too was capable of falling off the earth into the rabbit hole of cataclysmic depression, as I was in a very strong phase and had been for some years -- out working several days a week, integrated into society, and feeling way more sure of myself than I had any right to.  When my youngest daughter said "good luck; you're going to need it!" I knew exactly what she meant,  but the minute I buried my nose in his neck I knew I was home, and I'd rather be with Patrick than alone in this house.

When we began the project which was to drain me of all my resources, entirely -- partially due to (as said before) the financial manipulation of my business partner, not to mention the CRASH -- instead of rebounding to get ourselves steady both of us were hit with more shocks -- Patrick with septicemia from gum disease, pneumonia, massive hives all over his body, 3 accidents totaling who knows how many broken bones AND a nasty concussion -- all in the last 4 years.

As I've mentioned, during this time I was OUT.  There is no way to describe a depression as total as the one I am recovering from.  I imagine few of you could tolerate being in bed for a week, much less 3+ years -- but the neurons and synapses and complex brain chemicals were all set on self-destruct.  I could not bear consciousness, as it meant I must deal with the loss of my security, and the utter betrayal by somebody I loved and trusted as certainly as my own child. 

This post is not about betrayal, though I've much to say about that, I'll save it for the social worker.  I've finally made a step for myself and called the elder abuse hotline: enough is enough.  I'm a professional victim and it's GOT to stop.

No, this is about Love and how it sustains us during the dark times.  This is for Patrick, who tended me as carefully as though I were his most precious jewel -- which he tells me I am -- despite his own severe injuries.  When he occasionally flew off the handle about the malfeasance of the person who brought us, finally, to our knees, people close to us acted as though HE were the problem and looked away as we began to sink.  The darkest things sometimes occur among family members -- odd, isn't it?

He is NOT tactful.  He does NOT stop talking (ever)!  He annoys people who don't understand Asperger's, a syndrome which is on the autism spectrum.   He is extraordinarily highly functioning for someone who has teetered on the brink, dancing with this disorder all his life and not realizing it until lately.  I adore him.

All my life because of my own frailties I have unconsciously looked for alpha men like my dear former husband, men who could protect me.  Now I have gone and hooked up, made a real, lifetime commitment to a man who is struggling to get a handle on a major brain disorder so that he can help us stay in our home.

Today, being Saturday, he awoke early to set up his stand at our local farmer's market -- in Marinwood -- come on by!  He sells apple products, which is amusing to me as it reminds me of cartoons I've seen of people selling apples on the street during the Great Depression.  I'm thinking those apple-selling folks would not be amused, somehow.

Before he goes, he goes through the "Julie de-paining" process, which involves making hot packs for my back, which is frankly a source of constant torment, making magical medicinal tea, and making sure I have everything I need.  It's something he likes to do and I am deeply grateful for it as it's a few hours before movement is really something I can think about.  No one in my life has cared for me like this, never, not ever.

He has his stall next to his friend Jim, a brilliant "Heritage" Landscaper who also sells Patrick's magnificent tiny bonsai gardens.  Now clearly, this isn't bringing in a massive amount of money -- but it's brought him validation during a time of his life when a lot of BLAME has been circling around him that doesn't belong to him.

Confidence, for those going out into the world during a HUGE RECESSION and already have confidence problems, is not easy to come by.  If you hate rejection, if you are wounded to the quick by it, and it takes you weeks to get over a slight -- going out and persisting ain't easy.

If you have a wounded woman on your hands with two ferociously protective daughters who think you're a lazy bastard (but still love you), you might take a while recovering from their holiday visit.  But my darling has an interview Monday -- he's taking his mighty brain off to the private high schools in the area, and will offer himself up as a substitute teacher.  Dear Higher Power, let him have this.  Please let him have this.

A big step.  Of course I'm not betting the farm on this -- can't as it's mortgaged up to the hilt, ha ha!

So, this is a bit of an unusual post for me, but wish my dear Irishman luck.  He needs a bit of psychic fluffing up, even from those who have never met him!  Here's a picture of him at the fabulous Dickens Fair before we fell off the earth somehow, along with so many others all around the world.

For my sweet Patrick, lyrics from "Danny's Song" by Kenny Loggins:

Even though we ain't got money
I'm so in love with ya honey
Everything will bring a chain of love
In the mornin' when I rise
Bring a tear of joy to my eyes
And tell me everything's gonna be all right



Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Email From President Barack Obama

Hello out there! 

Guess who received a more or less personal email from someone in the White House calling himself "Barack Obama"? Hint:The letter was on the email equivalent of formal stationery and was addressed, simply to "Dear Julie". He thanked me for writing him, which means somebody there read it, somebody or other. 

A few months ago I wrote one of many letters to my President, as I like to feel I can chat with him from time to time.  I tell him my troubles, which are so great right now and oh I feel so very small.  Sometimes I praise him, sometimes I give him a piece of my mind, but I always do it as though somewhere there is someone really listening.

They choose letters for him which are representative of the People, and I like to think that maybe once my letter had been in front of him. Great to get an email; I write many letters to the Prez -- not all of them complimentary, let me say. It felt fantastic to get a response that felt somewhat specific. It  made me feel I could hang on one more day; maybe Hope is still on the way, and there's still fight left in me.
I told him of my woes -  mental illness, partner with a learning disability or two, in foreclosure, financially  abused by a close relative, no conservator or anyone solid to help me, fighting to save my house, no heat for 3 years, sometimes hungry -- and I received an email from Mr. Obama. (well c'mon, this is a busy guy, I don't care if this was a form letter -- I've never gotten an answer from any other letter I've written to him so this feels special!)

Whether HE or someone acting in his Office read my letter or not, I don't know - but I was heard, and it felt good.  That teeny, tiny little symbol just above the text of the letter below is the Seal of the President of the United States of America, which naturally they have devised a way to keep people like me from copying, but trust me, it's there!!  I have left the space in the document as it was, even though I can't make the Presidential Seal appear, no matter what program I use!  Here it is:

Presidential Seal
January 25, 2011

Dear Julie:

Thank you for taking the time to write.  I have been moved by many Americans' letters describing their personal challenges, and I appreciate your sharing your experiences with me.  

I am working diligently every day to address the hardships people like you are facing.  Across our Nation, families are grappling with many difficult issues, including family separation or illness, job losses, difficulty in paying the mortgage or rent, and staggering medical bills.  It took many years to create our Nation's current challenges, and it will take time to bring about the changes our families need.

We have already begun building a solid foundation to help overcome the real struggles Americans are experiencing.  The changes we are making will help strengthen our communities and families, create or save millions of jobs, and fund much-needed reforms to our health care and education systems.

As we work together to improve the lives of all Americans, please know that the trials and triumphs of Americans like you motivate my Administration to work even harder to overcome the challenges before us.  I am confident we will emerge from these tough times stronger than before with a renewed promise of a better future for all.  

Information on jobs, child care, health benefits, housing assistance, and other public resources available to those in need can be found by calling 1-(800)-FEDINFO or by visiting:  Thank you again for writing.


Barack Obama

Pretty cool, eh?  I thought so -- especially because he gave me resources.  I desperately need to marshal my forces as the wolves circle.  I felt a little better, just a little.  This is truly a completely different communication than I have EVER had with the White House, bearing the Seal and the White House Logo -- a woman can dream that perhaps her President might see her letter.  I suppose stranger things I have happened!  In fact, I know they have!  Rest well, Mr. O -- you have the toughest job in the world, I believe, particularly because you are trying to do it right.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Tonight Patrick and I were watching Countdown on MSNBC, as we have for 8 years now.  Nothing seemed unusual until later in the program, when I began to understand, towards the end of his show, that the words coming at me sounded suspiciously like goodbye.  Patrick and I looked at one another in shock -- it couldn't be possible.

Keith Olbermann, though an abrasive figure to some, has been one of my heroes for as long as I have been watching him.  He is not for the faint of heart or for those who would see this country dragged down.  He used the powerful, stentorian voice he'd been given to do as much as he could to make us AWARE of what is HAPPENING in the brutal and corrupt world of the "Military-Industrial-Congressional" complex.

The man is astute and aware -- so what if he tells it like he sees it?  His point of view has always been a trifle hard hitting, but hoo boy take a look at Irishman Lawrence O'Donnell if you want to see TOUGH.  My god, after all these years of fanatical Fox viewers, it's great to see liberals like Keith unafraid of sticking a rough question to a guest.

I don't get it, and I'm petulant.  Yeah, go MSNBC, you cowardly punks, give us more "Lockdown" -- more of your priceless prison porn.  You should be ashamed of yourselves, letting go of arguably the most courageous journalist in television because of your need to be BOSSES, because of your snippy, disagreeable need to be kowtowed to.  Or because you made "the Deal" with Comcast, eh?

Honestly, you all make me sick!  Well, Keith -- here's to you, Mr. Olbermann -- it's been a great eight years.  I hope you stick with the news business as it will be a poor place without you.

Sniffle.  I'm so outraged and miserable.  We all have our favorite television "friends" and I feel like I just lost one of mine.  Both of us are totally depressed.  We loved him, plain and simple, whether we knew him or not.  We didn't consider him "cold" -- as has been said lately.  We thought and think he was a heroic figure and an advocate for the frail, the sick, and those without voices.  We found him to be engaged and passionate; for the most part he reserved his outrage for the truly contemptible.

We needed his penetrating insight relative to what he saw happening around him.  I suppose he ruffled a few too many feathers over at old MSNBC, for whom I have lost all respect -- almost.  I suspect the Comcast merger was behind it all, as they tilt towards the right.  Oh Keith -- run off with Rachel and the rest and form your own network!  Just an idea ...  I'm in denial still, and still totally grieving over a man I've never met and who is not dead.

I mourn, though, the suddenness of  his departure; my lack of preparation for it -- just like a death.  How odd this is to feel, how very odd.  Well, dear Keith Olbermann, figure out some way to get back to us soon as we will miss you dearly and terribly.

Love, Julie (and Patrick)

Education and the Demise of the American Empire


I have to wonder what is going on in our country, our beloved but not very United States of America.  I have a lot to say about the troll-making as opposed to education taking place in our schools.  Since when did we as a country lose our respect for learning?

All over this land -- and BRAINPOWER used to be our chief, most prized commodity -- we belittle the funding of education and higher education.  The new word for “intellectual/s” is “elite” or "elites" -- said with a sneer -- an absolute and utter misuse of that word.  The word "elite" is defined as:

"A group or class of persons or a member of such a group or class, enjoying superior intellectual, social, or economic status: "In addition to notions of social equality there was much emphasis on the role of elites and of heroes within them" (Times Literary Supplement)."

We are right to distrust the Plutocracy, and those like Karl Rove behind the scenes actually encouraging lack of real, thoughtful debate among our people. Our contempt of the intellect breeds nothing but the same among the People  when the very Representatives, who speak for our vast nation can barely read, much less put a cogent sentence together.  Some of these people are so poorly educated that it is painful to watch.  I can’t stand it!  We’ve gone from being the nation of George Washington to the nation of War, Walmart and Warcraft.

Maybe there are some in the body politic who think this is a GOOD thing, but I’m not getting it.  As the daughter of an educator I believe in education.  My mother was one of the first women to enroll in the Chemistry Program at UC Berkeley; in those bad old days in the early 1940's she was told that women didn’t belong in Chemistry because they lacked the necessary intelligence!!

After having been blacklisted during the McCarthy period she spent what could have been an academically brilliant career in the backwater schools of California. And you know what happened?  My mother, because of her passionate dedication to education, influenced thousands of lives over the course of her career, people who have attributed their successes directly to her.   

That is what happens when you take your best people and seed them throughout the country -- for a while there our school system was fantastic.  My mother was an excellent teacher and counselor, but not any better than the thousands of adults with their firm commitment to educating America’s youth, scattered all over the country. That was our brief love affair with education, that 20 year period or so.

Mom was so angry when I elected to send my kids to private schools. My former husband, who could afford it, paid for their education.  They did their part by excelling. I did my part by instilling the “reading virus” (the most important thing I could pass on to ANY MOTHER -- get your kids into reading, no matter what it is they read). My mother thought it so important that the systems remained -- democratic, so to speak, and she was honestly enraged and disappointed that I would take my brainy little kids out of the public system.

By the end of her life she was so profoundly disillusioned by the fate of the public schools that she actually admitted I’d been right all along!!   The differences had become so pronounced that she knew it was much harder to get a quality of an education without extra help. So,and ONLY because their dad could do this, we sent them to the best schools, where they thrived. One graduated from Columbia University and is a free-lance journalist living in Pau, France, with her wonderful David from Venezuela -- ahem, who has his Masters in Geophysics and works for Total, a French company.

My youngest daughter has a Masters in classical Shakespearean acting.  In Tea Party/GOP terminology, we sound like the dreaded “elitists” -- don’t we? Boy, do I feel like an elite?  I’m mentally ill, on the brink of foreclosure and homelessness, and people like Sarah Palin are screaming about people like me because I can read.  What in the world is the MATTER with people?  It seems to me that we are all turned upside down.

Today’s politicos consider education to be of so little consequence that it’s constantly being de-funded.  Forgive me my cynicism, but it seems to me that if even one of their rich cronies had to do without a meal of an endangered species at least once a week, damn it, why should the poor learn to read?.  We’ve experienced a long period of “de-volution” (thanks forever, Devo!) and I am suspicious, wary and annoyed at politicians who don't value the enlightenment of the body politic as one of the most important achievements of political Leadership.

One wonders if a great social experiment is occurring here:  It seems as though our country is engaged in an horrific bout of Orc and Troll-breeding.  Think about the patterns in terms of what we as a culture are being exposed to!  First, there is the increasing lack of a superior education available to all. We've bled ourselves dry with profitless wars, after the fashion of all declining empires, no matter what history has demonstrated to us. 

We watch too much pro-wrestling, reality television - and nobody's reading anymore. I personally think home-schooling is an option that should be chosen by the very few -- the elite, if you will -- the capable, highly organized households that can manage it.  The results are in.

These kids, schooled by Creationists, or parents without the training to properly instruct their children, OR lousy teachers, combined with a nearly universal U.S. contempt for the intellect has begun to produce a thick mashup of American Beef Stew for Brains, you betcha.

And then we become what we are beginning to see -- obsolete, second-rate, dull and incapable of rational thought. Remember the statement: we get the government we deserve?

So go ahead, you bloody vicious Masters of War -- let the children you have groomed with your dark, violent video games and sub-standard education,  prepared for nothing but war,  bleed and die while you grow fat with profit.

It makes me wanna holler.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Empty Nest and Chapter Three

In all these last years since my daughters have left home I have wanted to keep their bedrooms exactly like they were when they left, as they still come home frequently.  My recent financial peril has made this no longer possible, and I hate it, how I hate the sight of my youngest girl removing her things from my home to her new adult home in London.  I suppose my traumatic reaction to my parent's divorce makes me crazier than most when it comes to the loss of the sense of the family home and unity.

When my mother, to save her own sanity and pride, left her wayward husband (my adored but flawed father) and fled to Twenty-Nine Palms, CA to take a high school counseling job, I never imagined the reactions I would have.  My father, who was never very good at money, rented every room in the house that could be rented out.  I sobbed hysterically into the arms of my long-suffering first husband, who was at a loss to explain my outbursts -- as was I.  At the age of 21 all I could think of was death.

Suddenly the floor of familial support evaporated out from under me and I had my first severe siege of Bipolar disorder, which was NOT helped along by the cocktails of sixties psychedelics I was imbibing at the time.  I wasn't aware of the family genes -- alcoholism on my Grandaddy's Cherokee side, and insanity on my Granny's seemingly normal side -- a lovely coupling.

Thank god for me -- I escaped the alcoholism gene and merely am mad as a hatter from time to time.  Not lunacy, just the pools of deep sorrow that certain women are known for -- there has always been a cultural archetype of "the weeping woman" --"La Llorna" -- the woman who weeps for her lost children, husband or any significant relationship.  The person who has a hard time coming back from all of that, yeah, that would be me.  The ancient myth of Demeter and Persephone is in my bones and tears and blood; "if you were born a woman, you're born to be hurt," as said Dolly Parton.

I turned into my mother after all.

Because of the precarious nature of my housing situation (as I blog while I should be filling out yet another modification form oh help!), my youngest daughter is doing all she can to pack up her room of 26 years into a few small boxes so that I can rent it out.

It's probably just as well, as to this day I weep when I walk into their rooms, and that's not healthy.  A twelve year mourning period over one's children is not at all in the range of "normalcy" as they are alive, they thrive, and they are very happy in their trajectories.
I want their happiness.  I do.  But I never, ever imagined their journeys would take them half a world from me, leaving me grief-stricken, with a wound that still has not healed.  I just found a letter I wrote to them both in 2005, which ended with a quote from the Diana Ross song "Missing You" --

     "oooh, oooh I'm missing you; tell me where the road turned?"

And I'm afraid Mama Bear is "still crazy after all these years" -- not the lachrymose drunk my mama was, but a lachrymose mentally ill mother is no better.  I still carry the fear that if I had been "better" or "well" they wouldn't have left, but evidence from all my friends proves the opposite.

Everybody's kids are suddenly clearing out their rooms!  Suddenly, this whole crop of adults has sprung up in place of the children I remember, and I'm not dealing with this very well.  Still, I am so very proud of my daughters; they are so independent, well-grounded, highly educated and such good people.  Beauty is as beauty does, all right.  That's why it's so hard to let go -- I really am attached to my daughters.

It's not the same for them, though, no matter how much they might love me.  My youngest told me once that it was normal for parents to love their children more than children loved their parents!  Imagine my   -- response.  I've seen the opposite and in young people here that are on a different path with their own parents.

I wanted their independence; I didn't realize what it would mean.  Letting go in a way I never thought would be demanded of me is required here, and my skill set is weak!  To all of you who are going through similar emotions -- I see the silent sorrow in the faces of women my age -- my heart goes out to you.  Chapter Three of our lives remain to be lived, and some of us haven't a clue as to how.  One day at a time, I remind myself of that eternal god-blessed/damned phrase one day at a time.

This next year will decide my fate.  If the All-That-Is allows me to remain here, I should like to do so.  I want to see my grandchildren be carried into my home, borne in the arms of their happy parents.  In the meantime, back to work saving the house, and adoring my grey fluffy cats and sweet Patrick.

Again, a Happy New Year!  My heart's blessing goes out to all of you in these difficult times.  May we lose our fear, may we feel freedom of the heart once again, serving others as we served our children. I find that life without service to others is nothing.  I wish I knew where my True path lay, and where my little pack will rest in six months.  That would be Patrick, me and our two grey fluffy cats, Myshkin and Demelza.

There is something about cats/felines that humans have always worshiped.  Why?  Ah, who can say that they know? Life is a great Mystery and nothing will ever or should ever change that.

Good Lord -- a giant black cat just waltzed into our upstairs bedroom window, annoying the hell out of my grey cats and delighting us!  Cats find me, and I like that!  A big fat sleek gorgeous black cat came in out of the cold out of nowhere, saying hello to us in this New Year! 

So -- hello to 2011 and the road forward!