Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

To Retire

RainSomewhere, lost in the obligations and responsibilities of day-to-day life, buried under the rubble of forgotten things, a bright orb of thought shines in the darkness. It is here that I begin again, picking up the pen to tell a story:

A lifetime of work behind me, for the moment—I find myself “retired,” not even sure that I have any infinity at all with that word. To retire is to go to one’s room, shut the door and lie down. I am not ready for that. At the same time, I am not ready to take on the world with some great expertise and experience, but rather find a gentler middle ground that affords me mornings of tea and reading, hours of writing practice, walks among cottonwoods and a sense of gentle purpose that still allows for a contribution to the world in which I live.

Like a high school girl biting her nails in the guidance counselor’s office, I do not know what I want to do. All the while, I receive offers to consult on this or that, to plan and produce and to create a little something that flows into a checking account. I do not think that I am ready to give that up and yet there is a satisfied weariness in me that compels me to a greater quiet.

I have spent the last several weeks unwinding a clinical practice for my husband who doctored patients for 37 years. I worked with him for 24 of those years. The goodbyes were emotional and I ran around feeling like I had to take care of everyone. It left me tired and numb. A whirlwind of activity including a yearly retreat that I organized for 250 people topped it off and now, for the first time in the span of things, I am at my keyboard, my symbolic pen, trying to put my thoughts in an order that makes sense and brings me comfort.

It all seemed to go by so fast, schooling, friendships, marriage, work, the things that define you until you can get to the core of something else, something greater that doesn’t need a label.  I imagine my life a film, and what I desire now is a slow and interesting fade and not a sudden stop.

This morning I sat on the deck with my tea, as I often do, gazing at the fading stars and a bright half-moon. Hoping for a deep stillness, I was interrupted by a Labrador retriever who lives to have the tennis ball thrown. In his persistent and unrelenting manner, there was no peace, only the sound of the ball being dropped, panting and a blond dog jumping up and down as I acquiesced to the inevitable. Similarly with the state of things in my life now, a hope for quiet and a joyful disturbance that keeps saying “not quite yet.”   I suppose I should say “stay tuned. . .”

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

Bread, Bombs and Bullshit

iStock_000014146004XSmallAs the sabers rattle in our nation’s capital and the argument is made for retaliation against the violence perpetrated upon the Syrian people through chemical attack, the pulse of everyday America beats to a different heart. A war-weary nation still struggles to get on its feet from a kind of violence wrought by the greed and corruption in our highest financial sectors. Those crimes against humanity have gone unpunished. Retaliation is best served “profitable,” as in fodder for a military industrial machine or companies with trusted household names like Halliburton.

Meanwhile, back in America’s backyard, food insecurity is directly related to unemployment and poverty and is fueled by hopelessness. A country that allows its seniors and children to go to bed hungry seems to me the greater violence that begs to be addressed by those in power.

In one breath, the winners and losers mentality of our highly dysfunctional congress bemoans the distribution of food stamps, even though over 16 million of our own children are hungry. In the next breath, there is somehow money for bombs and drones and things we can do to assure that retaliation is had for Syria’s lack of morality. 1,400 people were ruthlessly hurt and killed in a country whose leaders have made power more important than human life. But what of our own leaders who turn the other way so as not to be impacted by the violence of poverty and hunger that perpetrates its devastation in every single county in America? Where is the outrage against that? Where is the war on hunger and unemployment?

“President Obama is not asking America to go to war,” said John Kerry…then added, “This is not the time for armchair isolationism. This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter.”

So how is it that Washington can be a spectator to the slow slaughter and scourge of hunger in this nation? How can they debate who dies or gets sick from lack of nutrition by cutting food programs—because we can’t just keep printing money, damn it– but we can print the money to go to war? You want to satisfy grabbing your nuts and grunting while the war drum beats? Fight the real war– the one here on our own soil that needs fighting. Fight for jobs at a livable wage. Fight to end hunger so that no child ever goes to bed with the pains of hunger or struggles to stay focused in a classroom that is blurred by the suffering of not enough nutrition to run their little brains. If you can spend money on bombs to show Syria who is boss, why can’t you spend money to feed your own people?

My heart hurts that we can do such violence to one another, but I do not believe that the United States has to be the policeman to the world especially when we have so many problems of our own that are asking to be addressed. Will Washington ever grow up and start looking for solutions that do not involve us bombing the shit out of everyone before we say “oops.” Remember “Mission Accomplished?”  Isolationism? What is the word that means isolation from your own people—the people in this country that suffer? Why do these problems not bring back a congress from vacation, ready to roll up its sleeves and find viable answers? You would think that having witnessed the outcomes of such arrogant behavior would be a deterrent to the hawkish leaders who sit before television cameras and try to convince us with grave sincerity why we must attack, while the rest of us watch from home and mutter “you are attacking the wrong problem with resources that could heal your own people.”
September is National Hunger Action Month. www.feedingamerica.org

• In 2011, 50.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 33.5 million adults and 16.7 million children.
• In 2011, 14.9 percent of households (17.9 million households) were food insecure.
• In 2011, 5.7 percent of households (6.8 million households) experienced very low food security.
• In 2011, households with children reported food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than those without children, 20.6 percent compared to 12.2 percent.
• In 2011, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (20.6 percent), especially households with children headed by single women (36.8 percent) or single men (24.9 percent), Black non-Hispanic households (25.1 percent) and Hispanic households (26.2 percent).
• In 2011, 4.8 million seniors (over age 60), or 8.4% of all seniors were food insecure.[v]
• Food insecurity exists in every county in America, ranging from a low of 2.4 percent in Slope County, ND to a high of 35.2 percent in Holmes County, MS