On the Cusp of 2021

I remember last New Year’s Eve when we all thought 2020 couldn’t possibly get any worse, but it went further into Hell than we could have ever imagined.

I am begging for 2021 to be a polar opposite of 2020.

The only things that improved in 2020 were my kids, grandkids and my writing more. I did win NaNoWriMo, after all.

So many things need to change. Reality being the most important. Kindness, Love, Gentleness, Compassion… let’s find those qualities again.

Time to move forward.

When Sadness Hits Hard

My daughter Meghann homeschools and has a business where she provides curricula for homeschool families. Her website is Rooted Childhood and she is well-known in the homeschool world.

So it was with great sadness Meghann announced the death of another amazing homeschooling mom, Emily Mitchell. Em was the mom of 4 beautiful children, the wife of a loving husband and was an extremely loving Christian. She was also pregnant.

According to the GoFundMe page, Em, who had no complications and was a completely healthy woman, was eating her breakfast on December 22 and then collapsed, dying even with the help of everyone and EMS. An autopsy is being done to find the exact cause, but it seems to have been a blood clot that broke loose and zoomed to her heart, killing her instantly. Killing her and her unborn baby.

The homeschool community has been a point of much sadness this week, being reminded of the precariousness of life. COVID-19 has had a similar impact in too many families this year, but this death has hit even me (and many others) very hard.

How could a perfectly healthy mom just die? In front of her children? At Christmas, the most holy day of Em’s family’s year? Meghann thought about all the projects Em was working on for her kids, thinking about the stashes of presents, the Christmas dinner they were looking forward to. And now these kids’ lives are forever changed, Christmas now will be a time of sadness and mourning.

Please hold this family in your hearts and, if you pray, your prayers. Hug your children and your partner hard. Remember how short… how really short… our lives here on earth.

Art by Anne Cote

Addendum on DNR and COVID-19 Vaccine

The main book I am working on right now is (tentatively titled) Every Flower in the Garden, formerly In the Bushes. It’s an autobiographical novel loosely based on my life in the gay community from 1978-1988… immediately pre- and post AIDS.

Part of my research included reading How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS by David France. In this book, which was amazing for those wondering, I read how gay men fought for medications, that their rallying cry was “Drugs Into Bodies” (before morphing into “Silence = Death”).

The way the FDA tested medications could (and does) take many years to work through the vetting process and in the time it took them to approve medications for AIDS, hundreds/thousands died.

The group ACT UP protested everywhere they could find that someone might hear their voices to get them the medications faster and faster.

The men and women fighting for their lives wanted ANY medication invented that might save their lives, or prolong it… even if for only a couple of months.

My Do Not Resuscitate Order

It was in reading this that I had my mind changed about having a DNR hanging over my bed. If gay men who were so sick they could not sit up or even cry anymore, who went blind, who had horrific infections… if they could beg for a longer life, I should… and could… do the same.

Vaccine Reactions

In my previous post, I talked out why I would be waiting at least 6 months before reconsidering the COVID-19 vaccine. I forgot to add an anecdote about a relative of mine.

She got the Merck & Co.’s Zostavax vaccine to prevent shingles and within 12 hours was in the ER with the shingles. Zostavax came out in 2006 and this person got the vaccination in 2018, right before a slew of lawsuits about this reaction not being disclosed even though the company knew of the “side effect.” Zostavax is no longer in the United States because of the lawsuits from people like my relative who was so so sick with the shingles. The vaccine was removed from the shelves in the US November 18, 2020… half a minute ago.

It took from 2006 to 2020 to learn enough about the vaccine to remove it from use. What will we be seeing from the Coronavirus vaccines in 14 years?

Lady In Village Worried Painting by Paul Kasem

Pondering the COVID-19 Vaccine

When the kids were little, I was just shy of being an anti-vaxxer.

After research and thinking, I did selective vaccinations, spreading them out, individualizing them and then, as in the case of the whole cell Pertussis vaccine, eliminating it altogether. Meghann had a horrific reaction to the whole cell Pertussis vaccine, so I did not give it to her again, or to Aimee. When the acellular vaccine came out, I felt much more comfortable about it, but think the time had passed for them to get it anymore. If they had needed it, I would have given it to them.

Coronavirus Vaccination

So now that the Coronavirus vaccination has come out and I am in Phase 1c/Phase 2 (depending on the chart you choose to read) of the order of who gets the vaccine first, I am having to think about whether I want to get the vaccine or not.

I’m reading about HIV/AIDS for research for one of the books I am writing and after reading How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS by David France, I am left wondering… why no vaccine for AIDS almost 40 years after it became known. Yet, with COVID-19, a vaccine was created in less than a year!? I’ll give you that hardly anyone cared about gay men getting AIDS, many people believing the death sentence is what they deserved. But when babies started dying and unsuspecting hemophiliacs and women started dying, no one seemed to care enough to “Warp Speed” a vaccination for them either.

Should I Trust Science Implicitly?

Can I trust science implicitly? (I am speaking for myself because I believe each person gets to make the decision for themselves. Several people in my life cannot wait to get the vaccine. More power to them!)

There is a saying in the medical field to lay people: You just haven’t seen enough to know better. That is often true in birth. Doctors tell midwives they believe birth is so fabulously easy because they haven’t yet faced the split second catastrophes that can happen in the healthiest of women and babies. I have said that phrase myself to other midwives who thought I was being alarmist in my warnings to stay alert, not to become complacent in the “normalcy” of birth.

But in this case, I have seen enough to know bad things can happen with vaccines. I do not, in any way, believe vaccines cause Autism, but I do have concern about injecting the actual virus, a brand new virus, into my body hoping for an immune response that will re-attack at a later date when the virus jumps back into my body again.

Decision

I talked this out with my therapist and my girls, having them just be sounding boards and as I was able to discuss it, it seemed the right thing for me to do is wait. I am not going out, don’t have to go to stores, am not wanting to go to bars or anywhere crowded. I can stay in my space and stay safe.

The only people I miss in close proximity to me are my mom, brother, Aimee and her baby. I want to hug them all so badly. I miss my puppies, too. But I do not want to die… whether it is from Coronavirus or the COVID-19 vaccine.

I will sit quietly for at least another six months and see what goes on with the reactions. I know it will take some serious deciphering the truth from hearsay, but I am pretty good at reading studies and medical jargon. I will reevaluate my decision in June.

In the meantime, I am writing a book.

I Won NaNoWriMo!

The goal for National Novel Writing Month is to scribble out 50,000 words on a new piece of work. I did it! Actually, 51,000 words (204 book pages) by November 30, 2020. I am so proud of myself.

The Autobiographical Novel/Historical Novel (not sure which it would be considered yet) about life before and after AIDS took amazing turns as I was a Planster (someone who does an outline, but also allows the characters unfold as they want to). I have whole characters that birthed themselves and a relationship between mother and daughter was born. I don’t quite know what to do with them yet because that was not in the original outline. I have never written a novel before so I am reading everything I can about how to do one, but not sure I will find answers in someone else’s books.

We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, I WON!!!

NaNoWriMo & More

Today was Day 12 of National Novel Writing Month and I am kicking ass at writing! I have met, or surpassed, my goal of 1667 words every day since Day 1. Today, I went over 20,000 words towards the required 50,000 to “win” NaNo.

President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris won. I breathed for the first time in 4 years a couple of days ago. I cannot wait until the dumpster fire is gone from our once-beautiful White House.

My Fibonacci Therapy is AMAZING. I really do not know how to even explain it except a lot of “seeing” and “changing” things around in my mind. It is more than The Secret kind of seeing, it is seeing my own mind shifting.

I’ve relieved a great deal of my feet and right ankle pain. In 1996, I went to a pain therapist who taught me Biofeedback and Self-Hypnosis and I used that knowledge for decades, but as I have gotten older, I either have forgotten how to get in that healing zone or have become resistant, so this therapy is reminding me -and teaching me new ways I never knew before- to relieve the pain in my body.

Things are good. We’ll see what happens with the Novel I am writing. It is rather pornographic at times. I wonder if it will be sold in the Fantasy Adult Bookstore and Glory Holes next to the Four Seasons Total Landscaping.

In the meantime, I am writing writing writing!

NaNoWriMo 2020

Today is Day 2 of National Novel Writing Month and I am giving it a go again this year.

Project Shift

I thought I was going to be working on my Psychological Thriller about a serial killing midwife, but last year’s project demanded I regroup and work on her.

So, I am back to In the Bushes (working title). The book initially began as a memoir, but it is about gay life between 1978 and 1982 and I struggled with it last year because of outing issues, along with the drugs and rampant sex. Then a few weeks ago, I learned there is something called an Autobiographical Novel, using the outline of one’s life, but creating an entire story mixing fact and fiction and voila! All my concerns were gone. I wasn’t going to out anyone and I could talk about sex and drugs all I wanted without incriminating anyone.

Still Some Ongoing Issues

Between tropes and fetishizing, I worry what people will think. My life was very white, but for the sexual experiences with black men (several characters prefer black men sexually) and that will surely not go over very well.

The main concern is the religious right will, once again, say, “See? They got what they deserved” by having such indiscriminate sex and extreme hedonism.

But I am writing.

And that is a very good thing.

Fibonacci Therapy

I’ve decided to abandon Talk Therapy and have been led to a different type of therapy.

Through working on my Psychological Thriller, I found the book The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. The subtitle is: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Within 2 chapters, I realized the book was not just for my character, but for me.

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Vastly Different Healing Modalities

Van der Kolk, in wonderfully scientific ways, explains how we now know that actual physical changes are occurring in the brain when there is abuse, neglect or trauma. Well-known in the mental health/psychiatric field, he’s found that people can heal their brains… physically and chemically… through Yoga, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), EFT (Emotion-focused therapy), neurofeedback (biofeedback) and activities such as theater and Tai Chi.  

He has done extensive research with Veterans, abused children as young as 2-years old, elder adults who thought they would never feel better, folks with PTSD and C-PTSD and any number of others with trauma histories.

Van der Kolk does not believe medications and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)/talk therapy are as helpful as therapists have believed for decades.

I concur.

So Many Strikes

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I’ve been in therapy since I was 18-years old, almost continuously. 41 years. I feel I am at the same place I started all those decades ago. I’ve tried CBT, DBT, sand tray therapy, art therapy, angel therapy, crystals and many more I can no longer remember, that’s how useless they were. I’ve been in a dozen different types of group therapies as well, most of which seem to have been created to see who can tell the worst abuse story.

DBT comes the closest to changing my thought processes, but that is because of the Mindfulness aspects. DBT has a lot of CBT in it, so it is all but negated.

Fibonacci

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Fibonacci: an integer in the infinite sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, … of which the first two terms are 1 and 1 and each succeeding term is the sum of the two immediately preceding

Instead of singular modes of therapy, I want one that builds on another, lifting me higher with each step.

Fibonacci in Nature

Nautiluses have long been how I see healing… one chamber being worked on and when that section has been completed/emptied, it is time to move to the next chamber.

I began a new type of “therapy” yesterday. I am not sure how to even explain it except it was beautiful and after the hour and for hours afterwards, I felt at peace for the first time in so long I cannot remember when the last time was.

My body was not twitching. My aches and pains simmered lower than they usually do. My mind was able to focus on one idea at a time instead of a cacophony of many voices so loud, none were even able to be heard.

Finally, there is a shift.

Finally.

Therefore:

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The World Knows COVID-19

I talk to people all over the world. I have for a long time, especially at work, but also when I talk to Customer Service people on the phone or in chat.

Since the Pandemic began, it has been a global moment for me. I am no longer frustrated when I cannot get my point across because the person does not speak English as well as I need (and I am always very patient anyway). It is like there is now a leveling of everyone, all of us in the same space in the Universe. (Hope I am saying this right.)

Whomever I speak to, we talk, sometimes just for a moment, about how we are and how our families are doing… a checking in with each other’s humanity. I have never had this feeling of being on the earth with so many others as I do now. That we ALL know this stress, fear, sadness and isolation is quite the reminder that we are really all together in this space and time.

Very humbling.

Home Wax Fun

Oh, I don’t know how, but my facial hair has taken on a life of its own since the pandemic.

Wax Strips

A few weeks ago, I tried some strips and they worked well. Blessedly, I know the pain of waxing, so wasn’t too surprised by the yanking off of the strips that pulls the hair out by its roots.

Flamingo Wax Strips

Hot Wax

Not knowing which I would like better, I bought Bliss Hot Wax, again not caring about the pain involved. I’ve felt worse.

So yesterday, I heated it in the microwave like it said to, in 30 second intervals for about 5 minutes and then sat down to my prepared area at the dining room table.

All I can say was it was a wax debacle. 

Threads of wax were everywhere, reminding me of strands of cotton candy as it is being twirled on the paper cone. My dress, my face, my fingers and the prepared area on the table were covered with plops and strings of bright blue wax. 

I did get some hair removed, so there is that. But I am firmly of the belief that, for me, hot wax is best in the hands of professionals.

Back to strips!

Remnants of the Hot Wax Experiment

Talked to the Doctor

The surgeon was very kind and patient as I asked my questions and even sat quietly while I cried.

He explained how the decision is made to put a person on their side or their stomach… it is the anesthesiologist’s choice… and he said they made the wrong decision. He said next time he does surgery on my back, he will insist I stay on my side, which does have its own challenges, but he said surgery was fast and there was too much trauma to my body to make the stomach a good choice.

Underboob Slice

The doctor explained that when someone is going to be on their stomach, they use cushions to help the breasts not be smashed on the table and it looks like the cushion was out of place.

He said because the cushion was misplaced (which happened because I am a challenge to turn over, which I already knew), then trauma split my underboob open, something that can happen to “fragile” skin. I told him I have yeasties under there a lot, but not in a few months and he said that can make the skin fragile (the perfect word I had been looking for), but it was no excuse for not getting the cushion where it should have been.

I asked if next time we might put the cushion in place before I go into the Operating Room and he said that was a good idea, but reiterated that anything we have to do small, he will try and keep me on my side.

“I’m Sorry”

As I said in the previous post, what I wanted most of all was an apology. He said, “I’m sorry” twice and I thanked him and told him that was what I was needing to hear.

I told him I had zero desire to sue for anything and I wanted him to know that, that I trusted him and his team and since he explained it, and apologized, I feel better.

Crying

I cried talking to him. I am still crying two days later.

Artist unknown: The crying girl, Colored Ballpoint Pens Technique

Looking at the bruises on my breast reminds me of the ones I had on my breasts after I was raped in 1979. I didn’t remember getting those, either, so it is a similar emotional response.

I do not like things happening to me when I am not aware.

Another thing he said that made me feel somewhat relieved was he was in the Operating Room from the moment I got in there until I was wheeled out and into Recovery. I do trust the man. (Is that weird?)

Pathology Report

He told me the results; the margins were clear! (They got it all.)

Yay!

Follow-up in Clinic

When we talked in person, he checked my underboob and it is healing well, which I knew. He apologized again and I told him I wish we had done the excision in the office, which we had talked about. I said I had never regretted having a surgery until this time and that when we have to do this again, if he can remind me of what I wanted in a coherent moment, I would appreciate it. He said as long as I can sit still, that could be done. I told him I can sit still; I have tattoos.

He did say that the decision to do the surgery in the office or the OR can go either way. He said sometimes, when he does one in the office, he thinks they should have gone to the OR. I said I understood that and I would take his advice and we could make the decision together.

It was a very good face-to-face meeting.

My back is healing really well. I have steri-strips on. I am not itching anymore. I look forward to this one being done.

Art: Talia Shipman

Cancer Post-op Recovery

Surgery was Friday, August 21st and it went really well. The incision is much smaller than expected, so that was good, too.

I do not have the results back on whether they have all margins (meaning they got it all), but the doc is calling today so I can ask then.

Bruising

One thing that was really weird was I was way bruised after this surgery. Not on the site, but my upper arms and right breast.

They are healing fast, but that first day they were bright purple.

This was the weirdest thing, though:

This is an open slice on my right underboob, the one that is the most bruised. What the heck happened here?

Feelings

At first, I was amused. I think I was still high from surgery, though.

The 2nd day post-op, I began to cry looking at the bruises, especially the ones on my right breast, with the slice. I hesitate to call it “triggering,” but it definitely felt bad. What did someone do to me when I was under anesthesia that would cause these injuries?

More questions for the surgeon, whom I greatly respect and have zero intention of suing. I think mostly I want an apology.

Is that so bad?

Art by  turddemon

The Democratic Convention

I watched all of the Democratic Convention and am so inspired. 

I had no idea that Dr. Jill Biden worked through the entire time she was Second Lady. And she will continue working as First Lady? That is commitment. 

I had no idea about Vice-President Biden commuting each day back and forth to home to be with his 2 boys at home after his wife and daughter died.

I have not cried with hope and joy so much as I have these past 4 days.

Yes, I have hope.

(And it didn’t hurt that Steve Bannon was arrested by the Postal Service today. That made me laugh ALL DAY LONG.)

I Will Risk Dying to Vote

I have been an absentee ballot voter for many, many years.

absentee ballot Navelgazing Writer

Sure, I could have gotten to the polling place, they were always right near me, but I wanted to ponder the votes slowly.

  • Pro-choice?
  • Democrat?
  • Separation of Church and State?
  • Bigot?
  • Etc.

My Vote Counts Navelgazing Writer

Decision Time

But, if 45 is going to fuck up the Postal Service to ruin mail-in votes, thinking he will win by destroying absentee votes, he will not quash my vote.

Even though he has closed many of the polling places (as we watched the Red States do during primaries), thinking people will not stand in line to vote, he is quite mistaken.

If the USPS is not saved quickly, I  will vote in person. Pandemic be damned.

absentee ballot Navelgazing Writer

Risking My Life

I am in the highest risk categories for COVID-19… fat, diabetes, asthma, cancer… sure to die if I acquire the coronavirus, but I am willing to put my life on the line to vote in this election.

vote pandemic Navelgazing Writer

I will rent an electric wheelchair and have it delivered to the polling place, where I will meet it and then get in line to vote.

It is my right to vote in this election and I don’t give one fuck how much 45 tries to block me…

…I WILL VOTE.

 

voting Navelgazing Writer

COVID Orphans

I’m watching the start of the school year speed closer. With that, comes my increasing fear about what is going to happen to those in the schools because of the rampant spread of Coronavirus. Yet, schools seem to have no choice, being forced to open or they will lose the government money they desperately need.

45 COVID Orphans Navelgazing Writer

COVID-19 Orphans

While not the first, this sweet boy lost both his parents within 4 days of each other.

justin hunter 45 COVID Orphans Navelgazing Writer
Justin Hunter, 17 years old

The reality can be students going to school, taking the virus home with them, infecting the rest of the family. As we know, those who have underlying health conditions fare far worse than those who are healthy.

COVID orphans, a blip of a phenomenon at the moment, will, as the school year begins, be seen more and more.

Superspreader Groups

It really does seem like schools are set-up to become superspreader events. Superspreader events tend to occur when groups of people congregate without masks or social distancing.

Rich schools are able to retrofit their classrooms with partitions, but what are schools without those resources to do?

coronavirus Classroom

Overcrowding in schools have been an issue for decades, some states setting limits on students in the classroom. But when they spread the students out into different classrooms, do they have extra money given to them to hire more teachers?

Here is a great list of teacher-student ratios including how much money each state averaged on each student. You can easily see how little states like Arizona and Alabama spend on their students (about $7000) whereas New York spends $22,000+ per student. Where is the money coming from to Corona-Proof the classrooms?

Schools Already Spreading Coronavirus

retrofit Navelgazing Writer

Schools have not even opened yet, but in Georgia, teachers have been going in to prepare for the school year.

However, after ONE DAY in the classroom, Coronavirus cases and exposures sideline 260 employees in Georgia’s largest public school district, Gwinnett County.

While students in that county will be attending virtual classrooms, the teachers were expected to teach from the school’s classrooms instead of at home. No explanation seems to be had for the dichotomy in locations. Teachers tried hard to be allowed to teach from home, but that was denied.

teacher COVID Orphan
Ashley Newman has resigned from Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia after being denied the option to work from home.

It seems Ms. Newman made the right choice looking at the number of sick in that county after one day.

Bring in the Kids!

There is research that shows kids under their teen years might not spread the disease as much as adults do, but that does not mean they are not carriers at all. Testing and research is still gathering information.

Korea School Navelgazing Writer

What if they happen to be carrying the virus more than we think now? What happens if they spread coronavirus to the teachers? To other students who then take the virus to susceptible members of their families?

Multitude of Trials Regarding Children and COVID-19

When one becomes a COVID Orphan, the enormity of the situation seems to reach far beyond what we could imagine.

COVID-19’s Devastating Impact on Children: Governments Should Mitigate Harm, Protect Most Vulnerable writes:

“More than 1.5 billion students are out of school. Widespread job and income loss and economic insecurity among families are likely to increase rates of child labor, sexual exploitation, teenage pregnancy, and child marriage. Stresses on families, particularly those living under quarantines and lockdowns, are increasing the incidence of domestic violence. As the global death toll from COVID-19 increases, large numbers of children will be orphaned and vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.”

The article made me cry, the pending reality being so bleak.

Plans for Sick Teachers

teacher Navelgazing Writer

Are there plans for sick teachers or staff? How likely will a substitute want to come into a classroom where there was a sick teacher?

Schools are left to choose their own approaches.

One extreme is to basically do nothing — just tell the sick student or teacher to stay home. The other extreme is to shut down the school for each case. If a school plans to do the latter, it may as well not open at all. There is an intermediate option: Close the classroom for a few days, clean it and reopen.

I am very glad I am not a teacher or a mom with school-aged kids right now. I would not be sending them to school, but what if I was a midwife and had to go to a 30-hour birth? What would the kids do?

What a world we live in. So many choices and all really sucky.

Scared Navelgazing Writer

John Lewis’ Challenge

Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation: Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.

John Lewis.

Each day I wonder if this will be the day I am inhaling the coronavirus, sending me off to be a statistic on the nightly news. I have been sitting, not writing, mostly waiting, to see when the end will arrive.

And Then Today…

I watched the funeral for John Lewis and saw, really for the first time, how his fingerprints are on an almost unlimited number of moments of the last 65 years.

What is the highest calling of my heart and how can I stand up for what I truly believe?

Writing

Writing is the highest calling of my heart. I have so many stories to tell that are going to die with me when the time comes.

I have hundreds of birth stories to share.

I have so many stories about my observations, while not as momentous as John Lewis’ but they are mine, nevertheless.

Just Write Already

Okay.

 

 

 

When Whites Protest

So we are 52 days since George Floyd’s murder in plain view.

Protests for Black Lives Matter

Protests began the day after his murder and have continued since. The protests are against systemic police brutality against black and brown people, with Black Lives Matter being the major focus of the gatherings and anger. Blessedly, finally, it is not just blacks protesting, but people of all races and colors have joined in around the world. I have been buoyed by the white faces I have seen standing next to our black and brown sisters and brothers.

As the protests, mostly peaceful, have continued, our President seems to have hijacked them to promote intimidation in the name of “strength.”

Starting with gassing and shoving peaceful protesters on June 1, 2020

…so he could walk across the street to hold up a Bible (upside down) for a photo-op.

45

Vile Actions

Because of the incredibly unethical and vile desires of our President to create disharmony any place he can think of, he has sent “Federal Officers” into Portland, Oregon.

These Trump thugs are unnamed, unmarked and masked so no one’s face can be recognized. The “officers” are pulling random protesters off the street and putting them in unmarked vans, driving them to unknown buildings where, without any semblance of human rights or dignity, they are being interrogated. Many of whom were not even arrested! Just taken off the street as if we were living in a country led by a mad man.

Oh, but we are in a country led by a madman.

The Narrative Shifts

fire Navelgazing Writer

The protests have not only become about Black Lives Matter, but also an urban assault by our government. Thousands of new people are flooding the streets to protect the Black Lives Matter protesters… the Walls of Moms, Vets, Nurses, Union Reps, Teachers, Dads, Grannies… all standing before the Black Lives Matter protesters.

So when I read:

From Black lives to ‘white spectacle,’ Portland protests have lost focus, civil rights leaders say: ‘The focus has been moved from where it is supposed to be and made to be a spectacle, a debacle,’ said the president of the Portland NAACP.”

“Black community leaders are urging local protesters to shift the focus of demonstrations back to the Black Lives Matter movement and away from what has become a largely ‘white spectacle.’”

…I was baffled how someone could argue in this moment about where the focus should be going. Isn’t this a Put Out The Biggest Fire First situation?

Navelgazing Writer

Don’t the two “causes” intermingle? Aren’t the walls there to protect the Black Lives Matter protesters from being attacked?

Portland has a mere 6% Black population. That so many non-Black folks are out to protect their Black citizens, I find, spectacular.

Of course, I am writing from my white perspective, which might discount everything I say here, but when our country is being attacked from within, shouldn’t everyone be standing and fighting regardless of color?

Am I missing something?

Wouldn’t getting rid of the Federal Officers allow the Black Lives Matter message to resonate louder than ever?

In the same article mentioned above comes this commentary:

“Reginald Richardson Jr., pastor of Your Bible Speaks Seventh Day Adventist Church who describes himself as ‘nonviolent,’ encourages white allies to act as shields for Black people, who have a historically fraught relationship with law enforcement.

“’Black men and women will go to jail at a higher rate than our white brothers and sisters,’ he said. ‘It is time for our white brothers and sisters to stand up and be that barrier.’”

This is my thought exactly.

Cancer Returns/COVID-19 Negative

I have been waiting for some settling before writing, but it seems things are just pressing forward, so here we go!

Cancer First

I have Malignant Melanoma Stage 0, for the second time, on my back.

cancer Navelgazing Writer

I was going to the Dermatologist’s doctor to do the excision, but when I went on Friday to have it done, people either had no mask on or had it around their necks. And there was no hand sanitizer anywhere. I had never noticed before, but when faced with surgery, I noticed every unclean thing. I cancelled the surgery and left after telling them why.

Yesterday, I met with the surgeon who did the 2 cancer removals last year and it was wonderful being in his office again. I make them all laugh and they remembered me, which was great.

Hamilton Navelgazing Writer

The doctor played Hamilton Mixtape for me during surgery last time, so we are both Hamilfans and talked about it being on Disney+.

We did discuss the surgery eventually. He said we can start with local and sedation, but in the OR and take a smaller circle, trying to get the margins taken out, but if he does not, it will be a bigger excision like my arm was. He also said it was up to the anesthesiologist whether I had sedation or general. I said that was fine.

COVID-19 Testing

Before I could get my excision, I had to have a negative COVID-19 test, but let me tell you, that was no easy feat.

covid Navelgazing Writer

I am disabled so cannot stand for long and have no car, so waiting in line or doing drive-through testing is impossible for me. Testing sites are not made for disabled people! My therapist said that was an ADA issue for sure and I needed to let someone know how difficult it was for me to get a test.

After days of fruitless trying, I tried to get my Primary Care doctor (who told me to get one, too, because I had conjunctivitis our of the blue) to call in a prescription to LabCorp or Quest because they will only test with prescriptions for it. She said, “You can get tested anywhere! Just go to the clinic and get it there.”

But, people line up, standing, at 6am for the 9am start of testing. Once they sign in, they get back in their cars and do the drive-through thing. Both of which disqualify me.

Just

An aside. Do you ever notice when people say, “Just <fill-in-the-blank-of-instruction>” that the task is really complicated for everyone but the speaker?

coronavirus Navelgazing Writer

Same with, “All you gotta do is <fill-in-the-blank>.”

Doctors & Their Dismissiveness

When I called the primary care doctor, the nurse said the “All you gotta do” line and when I explained to her the situation and that I had conjunctivitis and couldn’t I make an appointment to come in because what if the conjunctivitis was COVID-19. She snorted saying, “You can’t get COVID in your eye,” like I was a stupid patient. I told her the doctor she is working for told me about it being a sign and perhaps she should Google it.

At any rate, they would not call in a prescription to a lab.

COVID-19 Navelgazing Writer

So I called the Dermatologist’s office to see if they would call in a prescription, especially since they wanted a negative test before they would schedule my excision. “We don’t do that. All you gotta do is….” and I got pissed.

CentraCare

The conjunctivitis did not respond to the 5 days of drops and my primary care was sending in a referral to an ophthalmologist. I shook my head when the nurse said that. I told her it takes WEEKS for me to get their referrals in the mail. “That’s what she told me.” I said I really hope I don’t die from COVID-19 before the referral gets to me.

clock Navelgazing Writer

I made myself an appointment with CentraCare online. It was for 6 days ahead. So I waited.

When I went 6 days later, the nurse assistant looked at my eye and got out a swab for a COVID test. I didn’t even have to ask. He swabbed up one nostril… and let me tell you, that was infinitely easier than when I had the lit sparklers shoved into my brain via my nostrils.

20 minutes later I had a negative result. YAY YAY YAY!

The Nurse-Practitioner gave me a prescription for different eye drops, stronger. I am doing better goopy eyes-wise, but it has not cleared up completely.

More Testing Coming Up

I will have to have another COVID-19 test 72 hours before surgery, so that is coming soon. I should know in the next couple of days when surgery is.

As Rachel Maddow says, “Follow this space!”

Stop Pulling Down Statues!

Disclosure:

I am a white woman whose father fled Cuba in 1959, so I have Latinx in me, but I grew up in a white culture. I acknowledge my white privilege and welcome others’ comments about this topic. Question: Does my being white completely discount my thoughts? Curious.

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While I despise many of the men (and they are all men so far) who are depicted in the statues being removed and what they have done to Indigenous People, Blacks, migrants, etc., I believe there is another way to handle this besides getting rid of them.

robert_milligan_statue_black_lives_matter

History is Watching

From the beginning of time, when one culture takes over another, the new folks pillage and destroy the other people’s libraries, churches/mosques/temples/etc., statues, buildings and sometimes, whole civilizations.

Then a few hundred or thousand years go by and those looking back wonder what was in their heads that they destroyed these beautiful icons. How could someone throw that exquisite vase down? Why would all the stained glass have to be broken? What was the point of burning the books? Did they really have to bomb the thousand-year old building?

Navelgazing Writer
Bundesarchiv Bild 102 4597, Berlin, Opernplatz, Bücherverbrennung

Reasoning

While it seems a good idea at the time, to force people to change and teach them a lesson,  is it always right to force people to adhere to one religion, one belief system, one mindset? Eons of civilizations seem to believe it is.

I asked a history buff friend of mine how people can justify forcing others to convert, asking if they got bonus God points for nearly killing someone until they “confessed” and “converted.” How can that even count towards God being happy? Wouldn’t you want people to voluntarily change their religion/minds? Why not just let the heathens go to hell and suffer for their original religion? He told me many religions find it meritorious to have converts, no matter how they get there.

But I have to ask, don’t they know the “converts” are faking it to stay alive? I mean, if they were forced to convert themselves, they would hide their own true religion, practicing in darkness, wouldn’t they? How can they not think others are doing the same thing?

Navelgazing Writer
Spanish Inquisition (1478–1834)

History Comes Around Again

When I was in Humanities classes, looking at drawings of buildings that were destroyed by war and/or hate, it seemed absurd to have destroyed so much beauty.

And now, with the statues of Confederate soldiers, Presidents, Christopher Columbus and others being pulled down and destroyed, who will be looking back in 300 years wondering where the history went to. Did we totally ignore the Civil War? Why are there no markers of that tumultuous time?

Navelgazing Writer
Conventry Cathedral in England, built in 14-15th century, bombed on November 14th, 1940.

Alternatives to Destruction and Removal

I’ve wondered why we can’t leave the statues and have markers or co-statues that share the new attitudes of the day. New York City is doing just that:

For the Columbus statue, the city would add historical markers and commission a new monument to honor indigenous people. Other markers would be added elsewhere to give additional context for other statues and monuments.”

Art

Isn’t art all about the reaction to it? Loved or hated, art has had its share of controversy. Robert Mapplethorpe‘s works freaked plenty of folks out as he unveiled his X Portfolio male nudes and BDSM photos. When Michelangelo‘s Pietà was attacked with a hammer in 1972, controversy surrounded the decision to restore it.

After the attack, some art historians and restorers wanted the statue to remain as it was damaged as a sign of the violent times. Others said it should be restored but with clear marks delineating the damaged parts as a historical testament.”

Pieta Navelgazing Writer

The decision was made to restore the statue.

Artists

So what of the artists’ who created the statues being defaced and/or pulled down? Are we censoring their art? Aren’t we all about not censoring, but allowing freedom of expression?

Why isn’t this discussion more prevalent as the atmosphere becomes more politicized and beautiful works of art disappearing? Shouldn’t we be reminded of our history through statues? Can’t we find ways to honor both sides of the anger?

What happens when a George Floyd statue is erected and the winds of change are Trumpian 100 years from now. Should that statue be removed? Of course not! But there are people who would find it extremely controversial and offensive to be erected.

Which statues do we fight for?

BLM statue

 

 

 

 

“Why Should I Watch Hamilton July 3?”

I have swooned and oo’d and ah’d over Hamilton: An American Musical for a couple of years now (I know, I was late to the game). Now that it is streaming on Disney+ July 3, 2020, I have been asked why someone should watch the show.

I am not a critical writer. I am not writing this like a critic would at all. I will share the parts that are fascinating to me that I’ve learned through reading the back stories of the writer, director, and lyricist, Pulitzer Prize winner, Tony and Grammy Award winner… and more, all for Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alex Lacamoire, a musician, arranger, conductor, musical director, music copyist, and orchestrator, doing many of those duties with Hamilton, as well. There are a dozen more I have poked around learning about, but the show itself is what I will focus on.

Onward!

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda came across Ron Chernow’s book Hamilton in the airport on the way to a vacation. Within 2 chapters, still on the plane, the musical began formulating in Miranda’s brain.
  • Alexander Hamilton struggled to climb the ladder from poverty, through education, aching for recognition and a sustainable income for his family. He had many obstacles in his way and Miranda felt his path was similar to many Black and Latinx folks in the United States today. He felt Hamilton’s story was still our story.
  • There was never a question of the diversity of the cast. Miranda had already done In the Heights, another (mostly Latinx) diverse show that won him 3 Tony Awards in 2008. It seemed natural to create a cast that looked like America does now. In 1775, blacks were slaves; whites ruled and were soldiers (for the most part). In 2015 while blacks were (are) in too many ways still enslaved, the face of America has changed from primarily white to more brown and black.
  • Therefore, if your children are not white, this can be an eye-opening experience to see people of their color in an amazing award-winning production. Even 5 years ago, the theater and Broadway were blandly white. Thankfully, that is changing and Miranda leads the charge.
  • The music is the music of today. Hip-Hop, Rhythm & Blues, but also shades of jazz, British pop music and gods bless the Schuyler sisters and their Destiny’s Child sound.
  • I have heard the album at least 200 times and I am still catching puns, humorous connections and overtones of lyrics and music that run as threads through the show. The complexity of wit, rhyme, storytelling and musical history all combined really is genius.
  • Which makes the realization that “My Shot” took an entire year for Miranda to write. A. Year. One song. The entire show took 6 years. One song took one year.
  • When Alexander Hamilton talks about not throwing away his shot, he comes across many choices and is always wanting to move up the ladder. It is also double entendre for his final dual with Aaron Burr that (not giving away anything since more than 200 years have passed already) when Hamilton did, in fact, throw away his shot (pointing his gun upward) allowing Burr’s shot to kill him. The only shot he seemed to have tossed.
  • Costume Designer Paul Tazewell made a brilliant decision to have the costumes as traditional clothes of the time, but has asked the actors to wear their faces and hair however they want during the show.
  • History repeats itself. Again and again. Perhaps not with a duel, but with the arguments that, at that moment, seem life and death (and often are), but so far, our country has bounced back and learned new ways to function (and codified them in the laws) or have fallen back onto the Constitution of the United States.
  • Alexander Hamilton is not seen as perfect. He is a human being with odd foibles considering the man most likely had hypergraphia or a lot of mania in Bipolar Disorder. “Why do you write like you’re running out of time” is a thread throughout the musical (“Non-Stop“). Writers use this phrase as incentive to keep writing even when it is challenging. Write like you’re running out of time! WRITE!

Hamilton Navelgazing Writer

  • Dilemma for those with younger folks: I know an lot of younger kids who love Hamilton and can sing every word, even the F-word. Disney is deciding still what to do with the show… edit? or not edit with warnings. I am hoping they offer 2 choices; hope someone thinks of that. The F-word is said a couple of times, but there is a love affair with Maria Reynolds (pronounced Mariah), a brief side-step that leads to a great deal of strife that eventually rules Hamilton out of being a President in our history.
  • Schools are using the show as a backdrop to bring history to life. I will say I thought all that Constitution stuff was dry as toast. Until now. Once I learned the music, I read Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, then his Washington: A Life (which I actually loved more than Hamilton!) and that period in history is now ALIVE for me! I can “see” the war, I can “feel” the conflicts, I can “experience” a life I never would have been able to before. History has come to life for students with Hamilton! ALL of history should be taught this way!
  • Tickets to Hamilton have been so expensive, but Lin-Manuel Miranda has a serious need to serve and saves seats for students, some of whom pay $10 for what would go as a several hundred dollar seat on the open market. (I bought my mom a ticket for the Opening Night of the Orlando cast at $490.)
  • EduHam is a class Miranda has helped create that is free through August in response to the Pandemic at hand. It teaches this part of history in a way students can understand… recommended for grades 6-12, but clearly many younger folks participate. Watching kids singing, dancing, creating plays around Hamilton are magnificent teachers.

Wrap Up

All of this sounds so boring compared to the experience of Hamilton: An American Musical! The musical is picked apart in YouTube, high schools sing for us there, 3-year olds are singing “MY SHOT!”, the poetry of rap is examined as if we were looking at a miraculous artifact.

Which it is. All of it.

Even if you only watch it once, please watch it once. Open heart. Open mind. With joy for how our country was made.

We are amazing.