We Are the World (Damn, I’m Old!)

I’m watching YouTube Reactions of people watching We Are the World and am weeping… no, sobbing… at how few know even 3 of the singers. Granted these people are much younger than I am, but still.

In case you are under 100 years old and have somehow missed this video, here it is:

 How could they not know Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, or even Lionel Richie by name?! The person most recognized was Michael Jackson, which brings mixed feelings.

I am begging you all who are reading to listen to the songs attached to the names and teach the singers and songs to your children. These are some of the greatest singers of all time and deserve our respect and our voices, no matter how poorly we sing.

Sing your hearts out!

Amber Riley

Conductor
Quincy Jones

Soloists (in order of appearance)
Lionel Richie
Stevie Wonder
Paul Simon
Kenny Rogers
James Ingram
Tina Turner
Billy Joel
Michael Jackson
Diana Ross
Dionne Warwick
Willie Nelson
Al Jarreau
Bruce Springsteen
Kenny Loggins
Steve Perry
Daryl Hall
Huey Lewis
Cyndi Lauper
Kim Carnes
Bob Dylan
Ray Charles

Chorus (alphabetically)
Dan Aykroyd
Harry Belafonte
Lindsey Buckingham
Mario Cipollina (of Huey Lewis and the News)
Johnny Colla (of Huey Lewis and the News)
Sheila E.
Bob Geldof
Bill Gibson (of Huey Lewis and the News)
Chris Hayes (of Huey Lewis and the News)
Sean Hopper (of Huey Lewis and the News)
Jackie Jackson
La Toya Jackson
Marlon Jackson
Randy Jackson
Tito Jackson
Waylon Jennings
Bette Midler
John Oates
Jeffrey Osborne
Anita Pointer (of The Pointer Sisters)
June Pointer (of The Pointer Sisters)
Ruth Pointer (of The Pointer Sisters)
Smokey Robinson

We Are the World with Names

If you are needing to see the connection of names to people, here is the video with names.

Here is the 35th Anniversary Edition with many singers added from around the world. How many can you name? (You better be able to recognize Aretha Franklin or I am going into apoplexy!

Sing to the Heavens, People!

What I’ve Learned About Dentures in 3 Weeks

The first thing I have learned is every person has their own learning curve. I am trying to make mine as quick and easy as possible. It will be interesting to see where I am in a year. For now…

Mindfulness with Dentures?

If you, like me, have never mastered Mindful Eating despite trying for 40 years, dentures are The Way to do it. I have never eaten slower or in a more purposeful manner than I have in the last 3+ weeks. I am constantly on alert about my bottom teeth falling out (which they do with most meals), so I eat very slowly. Very. Slowly.

It is still a trial and error to get my bottom teeth to stay in. It is incredibly frustrating and I know they are fitting perfectly because I have gone, more than once, to get them checked. 

Denture Creams

The grossest thing on the planet to put in your mouth every single day is denture creams. I use Secure after trying powders and liners and the most popular brands of creams. I could open a store with denture supplies I have around me.

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Before beginning any morning ritual and then post-denture-removal ritual is brushing my gums and tongue. If you thought your days of brushing were over, you were mistaken. I feel like I brush more now than ever before.

Thank Goodness for YouTube!

Everything from here on, I learned from YouTube. I think my Denture Magician should have a tutorial to hand out since not everyone has access to YouTube.

Cleaning the Nibblers

This process is just crazy weird and often disgusting. I will describe getting the teeth out of my mouth to clean later.

First, I soak the newly out-of-my-mouth dentures in a fizzy cleanser that comes as a round tablet. I put it in a small denture container and cover it with warm water while it fizzes overnight.

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Morning Ritual

First thing I do is lay a washcloth in the sink. These denture-suckers cost $1000 and will break if I drop them. I am meticulous with protecting them. I’m probably as purposeful handling them as I am eating with them.

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Then it is time to clean the dentures with a denture brush and some denture toothpaste. (Do not use regular toothpaste on the dentures, it will scratch them.)

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Not just clean them, but scrub them.

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Scrubbing?

With my brush, I first clean out a gross, thick, aspic-like glob (and I say “aspic” because, all too often, there is food embedded in the goop) that was left when the dentures were removed from my mouth and swelled in the water.

The swelling with liquid is what the denture cream does against our gums. That, apparently, is the blech that holds my teeth in. 

Even after the soaking, the glob of nastiness is still in there needing to be brushed out.

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Could this be any more disgusting?

But Look How Pretty When Clean!

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Drying the Dentures

Again, learned on YouTube. This part is kind of confusing to me so if you can explain it scientifically, that would be really appreciated.

Drying the dentures thoroughly before putting the paste on is supposed to be crucial to the glue-ishness sticking to my gums. You’ll see why I am confused in a moment, but let’s dry them for now.

Back in my room, I lay them gently on some paper towels, being sure not to have them near any edge where they might fall. Then I get a sheet of paper towel, fold it up so there is a wedge-like angle, and dry the canal of the dentures. I go slowly and meticulously.

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Even after being thorough, there are crevices that are still wet so I use a Q-Tip to dry those places.

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After using the Q-Tip, I set the seemingly dry dentures on another paper towel to evaporate the rest of the wetness on the gum portion for about 10-minutes.

This process is annoying, but I find if I do not do it, my bottom teeth will sit in my mouth until I swallow of liquid and then fall right out again.

I talk to myself. “I love this process! It is so mindful. I am taking care of my mouth so perfectly.” I don’t believe it one whit yet, but I’m trying.

Striping (Not Stripping)

I learned that the cream swells with water/saliva/liquid, so the next step made much more sense to me. 

Then I remembered I was drying the dentures until they were desert-like first. If wet is what activates the cream, why can’t I put the cream on with the dentures wet? This is what someone can explain to me, please.

But, when it is time to put the cream in, I put it in three patches, well, small strips about 1/4 inch or so.

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Then, using my pinky, I frost the cream like I am icing a cake (ironic since I can’t even eat cake anymore).

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I make sure it gets on all sides and edges. This saves me from feeling gushing globs of cream in my mouth. That is grosser than gross, especially when you take your teeth out.

This frosting technique was a stroke of brilliance via a YouTube teacher.

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Sip, Insert, & Hold

Before inserting each plate, I take a sip of water to kick the cream into it’s sticking goo, then put the plate in. (Again, why not put them in when they are still wet or just damp?) Because the cream swells with water, that’s why you don’t need great globs of goop in the gum portion.

When I put in each plate, I press it for 30-60 seconds. 

To Recap

I clean, dry, put the cream in the top plate, frost it, sip water, and put it in first. I hold it for about a minute and then start over with the clean and dry bottom plate, putting the cream strips on after the top plate is secure in my mouth. I do not frost them both at the same time. Each plate gets its own individual attention. Then, once the bottom one is in, I hold it in for 60 seconds.

My Top Tier

Happily, the top plate sticks like Super Glue. It stays in all day without any issues.

I will share how I get it out in a moment; it’s an adventure.

The Fucking Bottom Tier: Eating

The same cannot be said of the bottom plate.

Only once have I been able to eat 2 meals without them falling out. Usually, it is during the first meal of the day that they are slipping out of my mouth.

They say to eat evenly in your mouth, which I have been doing. Again, sooooo mindfully, it is excruciatingly slow and precise. 

I am taking bites as small as one of the front teeth on my dentures. Not kidding. I cut my food, even the soft eggplant parmigiana or fettuccini Alfredo, into teensy bites.

Yet, I can feel the bottom teeth when they begin to slip. I roll my eyes as I take a tiny bite of something as soft as egg salad with a piece of bread with the crusts cut off, using a knife and fork (the idea of biting the sandwich is absurd!) and feel my teeth stabbing me in the gums. From what I have heard, this is all normal. For fuck’s sake, normal sucks.

I can see why people get their bottom dentures implanted. I cannot wait to make a ton of money to get that done.

Removing the Teeth (that haven’t fallen out already)

Clearly, the bottom teeth have zero issue getting out of my mouth when I am ready for bed. They are usually out long before that. 

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The top teeth, however, even without a palate part of my top dentures (which I had them cut out first thing), stick like they are cemented in

I had been ripping them off, tearing my gums to bleeding and crying each time I needed to take them out. What was wrong with me? I went to Google and finally learned how to get them out. BLOW! Nudge the front top teeth down, close my mouth, and blow up a balloon. Voila! Out they come each time. And minimal bleeding or crying.

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You can see a drop of blood at 10:00. There used to be a puddle before I learned how to remove my top dentures.

Waxy Crap Stuck in My Mouth

When I pull the dentures out, I am left with a wax-like material crammed into the somewhat still-open sockets.

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This is after I remove the dried cream from my sockets, but before I pulled it off the back of my gums.

Losing Weight!

The best side effect of all is I am losing weight. I weighed at the Cardiologist appointment a couple of days ago and I have lost 16 pounds since I last weighed a few months ago. I can guarantee it has all been in the last month since I got all my teeth pulled.

I can see it in my face and body. How could I not be losing weight with 2 weeks of mush 3x a day and now only eating solids (if you want to call eggplant parmigiana or rice solid) once or twice a day for another two weeks. I eat soy yogurt for the other meals.

I got some bruschetta yesterday, hoping against hope, I could eat the bread. I broke it nearly into crumbs and it was still too hard. I can’t bear to throw it away, so it’s sitting next to me, tormenting me. 

(I did eventually toss it, but sighed sadly as I did.)

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There Is Beauty!

I know this is a lot of whining, but I do want to say that I was able to smile – a lot – while my girls and grandkids were here. I took pictures for the first time in many years with an open mouth smile. Glorious!

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Was It Worth It?

HELL, YES!

Extractions & Dentures (Finally!)

I’m sitting here with new dentures in my mouth. I started writing this when I got my first extractions, but it seemed smarter to wait until I was done. So, here we go.

I do have to say that I am reading this aloud as I write to practice speaking with my new teeth.

“History has its eyes on you!” <— My most practiced sentence. From my beloved Hamilton, of course.

Dental History

Both my parents had terrible teeth. Mom got dentures at 23 and my dad’s and siblings’ teeth were/are a total wreck. Heredity does have a say in how many cavities we get.

I needed dentures years ago and started looking 4 years ago for someone who would do it with my insurance. They had one place 90 miles away, but they wouldn’t pull them unless I agreed to “alveoplasty,” shaving down the bone under my gums which would cost $1000. My insurance would pay for the teeth being pulled and the dentures, but not that $1000. Another piece of that complicated puzzle was I would be without teeth for 4-6 months.

I gave up.

Then the pandemic hit and I fell into despair about much of the world and my life. My teeth were already in disrepair and during the first year of the pandemic, my teeth began breaking and falling out of my mouth. The second year, I got abscesses three times that sent me to the ER for Clindamycin, the medication for dental infections. Every medical person I saw told me to get my teeth out asap because it could cause sepsis and kill me.

During that year, I was working with my insurance to find someone to remove my teeth and give me dentures and I/they/we could not find anyone taking new patients.

My niece works with a dentist who recommended a place called Extraction & Denture Center. (I get no $$ or perks for talking about them.) Their site is amazing in that all the prices are printed right up front. They take no insurance, so everything is really discounted.

Besides their 5-Star ratings all over the Internet and their prices, I would be without dentures for a mere 3-4 days instead of 3-6 months.

Two precious people in my life fronted most of the money that I will begin paying back as soon as I am working again in a week or so. I am so grateful for their kindness and understanding of how bad my mouth hurt and how horrified I was whenever I looked in the mirror. Even when I didn’t have to, I wore a mask, even talking to my kids and grandkids, because I looked so scary.

Of the hundreds of selfies I have done, I took 2 of my mouth and then promptly deleted them. I did not want anyone remembering me that way.

This is pretty much how I looked before dentures.

First 4 Teeth Removed

My first visit to the Extraction & Denture Center was to have 4 teeth pulled. Everyone was so, so kind.

Sonia, the woman at the front desk, and I had spoken several times as I prepared for getting myself there, money being the major issue barring my going at all. Sonia was so kind and patient with me as I, over and over, said I was coming in (it was walk-in, so not an appointment I was cancelling) and did not.

One of my front teeth broke off a few months ago and I got an abscess again under the same two teeth that kept getting them and they were the first two I had removed along with my front tooth that was broken and another, a molar in the very back, that had the gum distressingly low.

Amanda, who got my history and did the X-ray, was sweet as could be.

I explained to the oral surgeon, Dr. Bhatti, that I had had these two teeth abscess three times and he said that the infection sits under the gums and an abscess is a flare-up, but the infection is still there, making me ill. I had no idea. He said I had had that infection since before the first abscess over a year earlier.

For fuck’s sake, no wonder I always felt so sick and tired.

While this place has both nitrous oxide and a sedation option, I knew I could do it with just the lidocaine. Dr. Bhatti numbed the holy hell out of me and I felt nothing for the first time ever of having my teeth pulled. I was shocked at how pain-free it was.

When he finished, it was an enormous relief to have those major two teeth removed and I cried with happiness as I left.

I was put on Clindamycin for the still-underlying infection. After I finished the 7-day course, the place where I’d had the abscesses began swelling and good lord, did it hurt. During that day, I felt it, well, tasted it, as it burst and the infection poured out. Talk about gross. Hopefully you aren’t having a snack while reading this.

I called the surgeon who prescribed a Z-Pack and by day 3 of 5, the infection was gone.

Hurry for kick-ass antibiotics!

Last 14 Removed

I went in a month later, Friday, April 15th, and got the last 14 removed. I cried with joy while waiting to begin as I sat in Dr. Bhatti’s chair. I couldn’t believe I was going to have them all gone, to know I was on my way to a real smile again. The prospect of not having that constant pain, the recurring infections, the need for antibiotics so often, being able to go without a mask as everyone else is removing theirs… it was all really overwhelming.

Again, I chose to have just the lidocaine (with epinephrine) and besides the zippiness of the epi in my system, I had no pain as he removed the teeth.

His assistant, Heather, who was there the first time, too, tapped my arm each time a tooth was removed. They would have said nothing if I wanted that, but I was counting and it helped to know.

I do want to mention an odd thing that happened that night. It might have been a complete coincidence, but had not ever happened before and has not happened since. My heart rate went down to 40-44 for several hours that night. I looked up variations of “Rebound effects of epinephrine” and found a few things, but nothing really about having a lot of injections of lidocaine with epi and the rebound with bradycardia. I debated going to the ER for a couple of hours and my heart rate started going back up again. I see the cardiologist in a few weeks (for heart palpitations from COVID), so will ask him then what that might have been. I did not ask Dr. Bhatti when I saw him on Monday. I forgot.

Impressions Done

Monday, April 18th, I went back in and a great dentist? Technician? Magician? (denture technician) named Alex put these globs of Silly Putty in my mouth and had me bite down for 2.5 minutes each. Top, bottom and palate. I expected to gag, but not at all. And I am a gagger.

It was molded into the shape of my jaw each time.

In Alex’s section, they had a huge screen on the wall where adorable animals were shown, like a constant Cute Animals from YouTube. I was laughing – until the snake came on. Then I closed my eyes and counted seconds until Alex came back to take the Silly Putty out of my mouth.

Easy Peasy!

The Morning of New Teeth

I always wake up about 4am to write. That’s my prime writing time, 4-7am. But this morning, April 19th, I was so… nervous? Excited? I could not place the feeling. I had stomach issues and thought I might even have to delay the 8:30am appointment. But, I recovered in time to call Uber and I headed over.

Later, my daughter Meghann said the nerves sounded like the first day of school. That was the feeling exactly!

Wax Test Set

I went first thing in the morning on April 19th to see how my teeth fit while they were still made of wax. They had to adjust them a teensy bit, but OH MY GOD did I look different with teeth!

I was gagging on the part that sticks to the roof of your mouth, so Alex had Jenay, the main denture creator, shave part off. I was still gagging when it went in so Alex said he could shave that whole part off, but there would be no suction and I would have to use cream to secure the teeth. I didn’t have to think for a second: Shave it off!

When Jenay did that and Alex put it back in my mouth, it was like night and day.

Once again, I saw what I looked like with teeth and got tears in my eyes. Stunning difference.

The Wax Try-in

I was to return for my new teeth at 2:00pm.

Testing Out My New Teeth at the Denture Center

Alex brought me my new dentures and he knew before they were in my mouth a segment needed to be adjusted on the back bottom rim. They did that and I put them in again. I could not believe how good they felt. Mind you, my gums still have holes in them from the teeth removal process, but the dentures, besides feeling like I had a mouth full of hard something, did not hurt.

I was given instructions and was shown how to put the cream inside the dentures.

Then I was showing off my new teeth to everyone in the place. Dr. Bhatti came in and was effusive about how great I looked. Alex was a wonderful cheerleader and then other assistants in the office also were very kind.

Then I walked outside to my new life with a smile again.

New Teeth!

My New Teeth 4/19/22

This was me walking out of the Extraction & Denture Center. No makeup. No posing. Just filled with glee!

Last Thoughts

I cannot say enough about this place. From my first contact to walking out, every single person was a joy to spend time with. Dr. Bhatti is amazing. Heather took such wonderful care of me. Alex was so much fun. Jenay, who I did not meet, created a masterpiece. Sonia has the patience of a saint and I appreciate her more than I can say. Even my limited contact with Amanda that first day, she set the tone of what I was going to experience there. What I did experience there.

No one alluded to how fat I am, although the waiting room chairs all had arms so I sat outside on a bench (thank God for the bench!). (Get some sturdy chairs without arms for us fat people!) They accommodated my walker and were patient when I was slower than most people getting in and out of the exam chair. You who have read my writings over the years know how important Fat-Friendly Providers are to me. This place wins the prize for kindness and non-judgment.

If you are reading this, Extraction & Denture Center angels, thank you, thank you with all that I am, for giving me something I could not have gotten without you.

The ability to smile once again.

Censored Out of NaNoWriMo Forum!

I’ve been on the periphery of the NaNoWriMo community since 2018. I have never really found “my crew.” So as I was trying to “find my crew” in the LGBTQIA+ group, preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo in April 2022, I thought I would try to find others who were of like minds.

I wrote:

Old Femme Dyke Looking for Other Old Homos (Most Un-PC Thread Ever)

taking a big deep breath

“I’m a 60+ year old femme dyke and am writing a semi-autobiographical novel about the years between 1978 and 1988, immediately pre- and post-AIDS. It’s mostly uplifting – filled with fun and joy, sex and way too many drugs, and includes a road trip (of course).

“I’m keeping the vernacular of the time, hence wanting to talk to others who were in the discos – the glory holes, the bath houses, etc. – during those years. I was a fag hag who lived with groups of gay men, so was privy to their sexual lives. While graphic sex isn’t the driving factor of what I’m writing, it is definitely the undercurrent throughout. (And I am not wanting to have sexual discussions here!)

“Adding another layer, I was coming out as a femme lesbian in a world filled with androgynous women. Drag Queens were my sister-friends. Trans folks were rare, so have bit parts in the book. (One of the hundreds of Un-PC things being written.)

“I am also wanting companionship as I recall those who died without hope and without their families.

“Gads, this is complicated. Anyone?”

Reply from the Moderators

Intro to automated one:

“Hello,

“This is an automated message from NaNoWriMo to let you know that your post was hidden.”

That was boring.

Highlights of the individualized email:

“Your post has been hidden because of the language of your title and in the body of your post.”

“… inflammatory words.”

“… you are part of the community”

“… you have every right to reclaim that word …”

“… we support the community reclaiming those words …”

“… seeing these words can still be triggering …”

“Thank you for understanding.”

My Response

“Well, ‘understanding’ is probably not the word I would use, (name removed), but since I have no choice in the matter, that pretty much is the end of it.

“You and I both know that ‘inflammatory’ words are in the eyes and ears of the beholder. These words are not inflammatory to me at all, never have been, even in the cruelest and most volatile of years.

“It’s certainly going to be interesting to see this book in the hands of the public some day. I better build my walls of armor now.

“This reminds me of the 1978 book called Faggots by Larry Kramer (I encourage you to look it up) when the gay community went berserk with his disclosing what they wanted to keep hidden. I can relate!

“Instead of feeling thwarted, I am empowered to move forward faster.

“Thanks for the sword!

“Barb Herrera”

Where Do I Belong?

Zack (pre-transition) and me standing in line to get married in San Francisco, CA on February 16, 2004

I called my former partner, my Beloved Zack, to ask, “Where do I belong if I don’t belong with my tribe?” He was so kind and said, quite emphatically, “NOT IN THE LGBTQIA+ COMMUNITY!”

He recounted a discussion at a Transman meeting after his phalloplasty and they were talking about penises in general and someone stood and said “My girlfriend” (who was sitting in the meeting of transmen), “is triggered by the word ‘penis'” and expected the discussion to stop. Zack told the guy to take care of his girlfriend by ushering her outside if she did not take care of herself by removing herself from the transmen meeting.

That was the last Trans meeting Zack went to.

Again, Where Do I Belong?

Me, San Diego Gay Pride 1987

So, am I so old that I really do not even belong in the gay community anymore? What about my feelings of ostracization and feelings of experiencing ageism?

I have marched and written reams of articles fighting for lesbian rights, gay rights, lesbian mothers’ rights, gays in the military, gay marriages … I’ve spoken on local and national TV news programs … and now I am marginalized? Now my own experiences are moot because I am old?

Zack and I in the news after our San Francisco wedding.

Now I am not needed because those rights have been won and it was so long ago, the fight doesn’t even matter anymore? Because no one alive in these groups remembers the people who fought for them?

I FOUGHT FOR THE RIGHTS THEY HAVE TODAY!

Who the fuck did they think won these rights for them?

Now I am not needed because I am not PC? Because my words don’t “fit” with the younger mindsets? Because the vernacular changed while I was out fighting for their rights?

Me, San Diego Pride Parade 1987

Where Are My People?

Zack told me to find an older group of liberal straight writers to work with. I have no idea where they are, but will begin a search. (Thank you, Google!)

Isn’t that kind of sad? Isn’t that really sad?

I think so.

Disney World at 50… My Memories

Here come a bunch of thoughts/memories in celebration of Disney World being 50-years old this year. Please keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle! ¡Por favor mantenganse alejado de las puertas!

December 31, 2021

I am watching the ResortTV1 Live Stream at EPCOT. There are DJ Dance Parties all around World Showcase. It’s crazy!

DJ Dance Party in Italy – 12-31-21

I watched the New Year’s Eve celebration at the Magic Kingdom last night (they do 2 nights of it) and it was wild seeing the MK rocking out to dance music! (Tristan corrected me and said it is called EDM Music now. Yanking me into the new millennium!)

This is what it looked like at the end of the fireworks show. Spectacular!!!

MK New Year’s Eve Celebration (a day early) 12-30-21

I’ve been scanning more pictures and putting them on SmugMug (the best photo storage place ever) and can across one I had been looking for forever.

Tristan and me, November 21, 1982 … with Mickey!

Could my glasses be any bigger? Look how long my nails were! Clearly, I was not typing on anything yet. And I was so, so, so tired. I had no business dragging my new baby and my newly postpartum ass to the Magic Kingdom, but I was just as obsessed about Disney then as now.

Back then, running into characters was a hit or miss thing. There were never announcements or special locations to find them, so to run into so many characters that day with Tristan was so cool! Especially this one with Mickey!

December 24, 2021

  • I first went to EPCOT September 28, 1982, during one of the preview days. I was hugely pregnant with my first (he was born October 20, 1982) so technically, he was at a Disney Park before he was even born!
1st look at EPCOT September 28, 1982.
Inside the Land September 28, 1982.
  • It’s really weird seeing people wearing masks at Disney Parks. I am rarely out so they are still foreign to me. Others have said it looks weirder when people do not have them. I suppose I will get there, too. I have to say, it does make me happy to know Disney still takes COVID seriously. I would wear my mask everywhere, not just inside rides, but that’s just me. I can only attend to my own safety. I am willing to bet I will wear a mask every day now forevermore. Remember how we used to roll our eyes at the Japanese tourists who wore masks all the time? Look who’s eye-rolling now.

December 23, 2021

I am finally getting back to blogging. It’s been awhile and having to let go of a lot of things to get some work done. I totally missed NaNoWriMo, wrote on Day 1 and then dropped it to get work done. I am having a great time with work, so that is good, but it is time consuming.

BACK to DISNEY WORLD!

  • I discovered a Live Stream of Disney Parks from Josh and Jenna, a brother and sister who call themselves ResortTV1. I accidentally came across them in Instagram, as a recommendation, and that night they were doing the first Candlelight Processional after the pandemic began. I had to watch and it was amazing! I told mom and my youngest daughter Aimee and we all watched together. It was great. We’ve watched the Candlelight Processional as a family for as long as they have been having them (the began in 1994).
A photo I took years ago of the Candlelight Processional in EPCOT.

Now I am in love with ResortTV1! Their Live Stream is so wonderful because they stop talking when on rides. Not everyone has that courtesy. Thanks Josh and Jenna! You now have a fan!

  • Memory when watching Retro Disney World Josh did as I watching IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. I loved that music and downloaded it onto (what is now an ancient) iPod. Months and months later, after listening to it dozens of times, I had a client who needed to have her baby before she could even go home and get her things and she was most upset she didn’t have her Reflections of Earth music. I laughed and pulled out my iPod with headphones and she listened to it during her cesarean. We thought that was the craziest thing ever. Who would have guessed a midwife being a doula would have something so obscure, IN SAN DIEGO, as Reflections of Earth from Orlando’s EPCOT at Disney World on her iPod?
Photo I took of IllumiNations

  • I wonder how many videos I am in from being in the parks so much over the years.
  • I just learned they removed my Dancing Fountains (aka Fountain of Nations). The last show was on September, 7, 2019. You can see how out of touch I have been with my Disney Self. I am immersing myself again and it feels good. I used to dance like crazy when Yanni’s Standing in Motion played and wonder if people recorded the crazy fat lady dancing like a banshee to a fountain.
Photo I took of “My” Dancing Fountains.
Another angle of “My” Dancing Fountains.
  • Looking at these Live Streams, I see how much things have changed since I was last there about 3 years ago… maybe 4. I was sad to not see the Christmas Arch in EPCOT from the Dancing Fountains to the Christmas Tree next to the World Showcase Lagoon.
Photo by Disney Addicts
From Disney Tourist Blog

October 1, 2021

  • For years before WDW opened, there was the Walt Disney World Preview Center in Lake Buena Vista between 535 and down what was then called Preview Center Road. It opened in January 1970 and closed right before WDW opened in 1971. In that year, we had to have visited it more than a dozen times. I have in the recesses of my memory, every word of the spiel.
  • Here is one of the many pics I have taken of the Preview Center over the years. I remember being there, dirt road out front, as if it was yesterday.
  • I stepped into the Magic Kingdom when I was 10-years old. It was a couple of months old. I remember it like it was yesterday. I can see Cinderella Castle at the end of Main Street. The place was pristine. Magical does not begin to describe that memory.
A photo I took from the catwalk outside California Grill at the top of the Contemporary Resort.
  • My mom started working at Walt Disney World (WDW) in 1973 at the Pueblo Room at the Contemporary Resort. The Pueblo Room was where George Kalogridis also got his start as a busboy. My mom, a seater, worked with George for several years. He is now the President of Segment Development and Enrichment for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products (whatever that is).
  • Because mom worked there, we got in free. This was when tickets were a thing, but there were rides that didn’t need one and we went on them a lot.
  • This is a WDW Tickets in 1973 site.
  • One of my faves was If You Had Wings. There was never any line and it was ice cold inside. Looking at the video, I am reminded of the growing hanging fish… and the people in the waterfall. Wow.
  • We went to River Country a lot. That was on Bay Lake (a natural lake, whereas the Seven Seas Lagoon is man-made) by the campground, Ft. Wilderness. Early on, and for a long time that I can remember, there were no alligators (that we knew about or saw) in Bay Lake. We used to swim in the lake a lot and there were and swimming races by Discovery Island, across from the Contemporary in Bay Lake, early on, too. We knew about the amoeba early on (Naegleria fowleri) but until several people died from the primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, the warning about swimming in lakes in the summer were rare. Now we know much more.
Bay Lake behind the Contemporary Resort.
  • When we went to the Magic Kingdom when my mom was working, as it got close to her getting off work, we would hang out in the arcade on the ground floor of the Contemporary Resort. It is still there, but much larger now. We did not have arcades back in the olden days, so this was fascinating. I cannot imagine my parents giving us much money to spend, but I do remember playing air hockey, probably on someone else’s dime.
  • How did we find people who were lost in the park? How did we do this without cell phones? I can’t even remember. My mom says we had to meet at certain places at certain times and BE THERE or else. I guess we found each other. I know where everyone is tonight!
A photo I took of the welcome arch.
  • I remember when Space Mountain went so fast they had to slow it down when someone got hurt. Sitting one in front of the other? No thank you!
  • Ahhh, the Buckets… the Sky Ride. I loved that thing so much once I got on them. I was scared for years, but once I finally climbed in, it was great! Wonderful place to make-out.
  • Speaking of making-out, when one was at the Magic Kingdom (MK) at night, there were tons of places to get naughty with a boyfriend or girlfriend. How was there ever a time without cameras everywhere? I liked by the Liberty Tree Tavern… very dark there.
  • Tomorrowland Terrace. Remember the eccentric Michael Iceberg? He was fascinating with his musical computer!
  • I also saw Maynard Ferguson and other jazz musicians on the Tomorrowland Terrace stage. So much fun with my band friends.
  • Grad Nights! I don’t know how I got to go to so many Grad Nights, but I went to several. Here is a list of the performers for Grad Nights from 1972-2008. I graduated in 1979, but know I was at other people’s Grad Nights, too. Tickets were expensive! 1972, they were $9. Get a look at the Dress Code. HA!
  • I knew the MK so well, I could do tours and did. Later, I went with a couple of families who were on vacation and photographed them, allowing everyone in the family to be in the pics. I took some great shots! Do I still have them? Nope.
Photo I took from Liberty Square.
  • I do have some of the (now missing) thousands and thousands of pictures I took at Disney World during my Rec.Arts.Disney.Parks (Radp) days. I need a separate blog just for all the posts I have from there.
  • We took Tristan to WDW when he was 4 weeks old. Here are a few pics of him. How tired do I look in my 1982 giant glasses? I should have been home nursing my newborn! I tried nursing in the Baby Care Center… lovely with rocking chairs in a darkened room that was cold and cozy. I had a hard time nursing in bed. The rocking chair was nigh on impossible. My boobs were so swollen!
Tristan and Me at the Magic Kingdom November 21, 1982.
  • Remember the Year of a Million Dreams? 2006-2008. I love this pic of a monorail I took. The moon high above.
  • Here’s an early monorail leaving the Contemporary Resort.
  • Oh my god, do you remember the hoopla surrounding when the “Fry Cart” was coming into the Magic Kingdom in Frontierland? If you were in online Disney groups in 1996, you will. If we had known it would be gone by 2008, I wonder if we would have had such heated discussions. I love McDonald’s fries, so I was all for the fry cart.
  • Do you remember when Tape Art came to the 2nd floor of the Contemporary Resort? I happened upon it accidentally and let the Radp group know Michael Townsend and Erica Duthie were decorating the hotel, inside and out. I LOVED the Tape Art! Here’s Meghann and Aimee after their own creations… while imitating what they made!
  • Here’s one of my fave pics I took of Cinderella Castle from the top of the Contemporary Resort.
  • Another Castle pic I took. Same vantage point.
  • And a few moments later, when the Castle changed colors.
  • The 5-Legged Goat on the wall closest to the monorail going through the center of the Contemporary Resort. When riding, I would always make sure to show it off. I told parents if they looked at it, their kids would not cry all day. The craned their necks.
  • This next one is Tristan and Meghann behind the Contemporary Resort when they were 3 and 9 months respectively, in 1985. Mickey sunglasses. Go, Tristan!
  • Meghann on her 21st Birth Day in 2005. Crystal Palace.

I have many more memories to share but want to get this out on Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. I will add more as I can.

A photo I took of the Cakesle 25 years ago. Everyone hated it but me. I loved the Cakesle!

May 20, 2022

Do you remember when Disney Cast Members were not allowed to have mustaches, beards, piercings other than ears (and only for women, of course). How fingernails used to be limited to just beyond the fingertip and the color had to be “conservative?” Earrings had to be posts in diamonds, silver, or gold… no Mickeys allowed, even.

I was watching a Live Stream at Animal Kingdom and the CMs had so much jewelry. And tattoos! Visible tattoos on a Cast Member? Just wow.

I took this picture of Joe Rohde on Opening Day at Animal Kingdom and he was an anomaly in the Disney Cast Member world wearing so much jewelry and a mustache.

Joe Rohde, Imagineer who created Disney’s Animal Kingdom on Opening Day, April 22, 1998.

Random Ponderings

I’m going to write things I think about. Many of you might not give one whit, but many of these things, I hope are springboards for extended posts. Others, just thoughts, maybe for my kids or grandkids, who knows. I just feel the need to get some things out that have been piling up in my journal.

  • Just had my several-months-late Dermatology Exam for the melanoma that wanders over my freckled skin. CLEAN! Not even a biopsy needed. I was so scared there would be something I should have been in months before to find. Whew!
  • Serious memories jumping up. Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here showed itself this morning. Then there is the Great American Melting Pot… I know about a few million Republicans that need to review that one.
  • I’m doing a labor intensive project for work so am pretty sure I will not be able to do NaNoWriMo this year. My book sits staring at me and I pray I still have the words when I get back to it. If I didn’t sleep, I could work on it, but, alas, I am still tired some of each day. I do, however, LOVE the book a lot. It’s moving along well. When it moves forward.
  • Do you remember Afterschool Specials? They have a boxed sets on Amazon selling all of them! I remember running home to make sure I saw each one. They were fantastic. It was the first place I saw anything about where babies came from. Reading the synopses, I would love for my grandkids to see these. Nothing that I know of is around nowadays.
  • Out of the blue, I had a dream about drag queens in Minneapolis. Mary Tyler Moore was there. Not one clue where that trigger came from.
  • “I need to sing louder than my fear.” (I don’t remember where I grabbed that, but love it!)
  • When I was in 5th grade, I had 2 crushed velvet skirts, one deep purple and the other deep blue. When the waist was in the proper place, the hem was down right above my knee. For some reason, I needed the skirt up around my ass instead, so pulled the waist up under where I would one day have boobs. Sitting here 50 years later, I am embarrassed for what that little Barbie had to have looked like, her panties showing with each step she made. What was I thinking?
  • My first kiss was during Spin the Bottle and I kissed Pat Quinn. I can still feel that tender, wonderful kiss. I wonder if any one since has been as sweet.
  • I have a post I’m working on about Zora Neale Hurston and W. E. B. Du Bois. Both these black writers, essayists, and, in Hurston’s case, also an anthropologist, have opened my eyes more about Black History than anything I have read before. I hope to finish the blog post post soon.
  • I’m reading War and Peace for the first time and absolutely love it. A client recommended it, saying it was better than Anna Karenina (both by Leo Tolstoy), which I really loved, too. I thought, “What the hell,” and was sucked in from the beginning. I am listening to it (50 hours long!) and know I would never have been able to read all the Russian names, hear the French properly (bits in this translation are in French, sometimes translated to English, but not always) or pronounced the cities’ names correctly. I really like hearing it. Thanks, Audible!
  • I just saw that David Cassidy died. In 2017. How did I miss that? Liver failure from drinking. He was 67 years old.

Bette Midler and Memories of “P,” the Best Drag Queen Ever

As I work on my book about the late 70’s and early 80’s right before and after AIDS hits, I am going through so many inspirational music genres. Of course, Disco has the main stage, but so do Broadway Musicals.

Right now, it is Bette Midler. I have listened to her Bette Midler: Live at Last over and over the past few days as I write about the drag queens I hung out with between 1978 and 1980. Hung out is not really what I did. I fawned over them.

P

Paul Wegman as Miss P

I followed my favorite queen P like a puppy dog. I was so enamored of P I could not be in her orbit for a long enough time. I was 17 when I met P. She was the emcee at the Parliament House, a gay complex here in Orlando. I lived for the drag shows… Thursday through Sunday nights. I loved sitting up front, in the vulnerable section of the audience. The lights were always glaring over the first few rows and P could see who was there easily.

Her ability to banter with anyone was uncanny. She took great chunks out of people’s armor, illuminating their naughty sides, baring their shameful sides and highlighting their most wondrous parts as well. Her brash social commentary operated without any polite bullshit enveloping it.

It wasn’t until I was out of the drag queen community and came out as a lesbian, reading everything I could about the gay community that discovered Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds. In there, Judy Grahn, a poet and historian, shares a bit about the history of drag queen speech:

“…incessant witty verbiage, gossipy, outlandish, repetitive, poetic, and philosophical in the most elemental sense. Sensual, barbed, informative, revolting, political – Fairy speech is a living art.”

Another Mother Tongue, Judy Grahn, page 86

Also:

“…splashy entrances and exits, louder than anyone and funnier, more daring, taking up a lot of space and always with a smart remark, a critique, a commentary cutting through hypocrisy, conformity, or rigid manners, revealing the bones of the matter.”

Another Mother Tongue, Judy Grahn, page 86

Drag Queens will have a prominent space in my book. They taught me a lot about communication and honesty. I struggle with that a lot, so am tapping into P and the others to be brave and keep writing.

Bette Midler

P loved Bette Midler, “singing” to her Live at Last album so many times even I memorized the words. As I listen to Ms. Midler sing, I can see P lip syncing to “Shiver Me Timbers,” guiding the audience through, “C’monIWannaLeiYou” and sharing hilarious Sophie Tucker naughtiness.

I wanted to add this small part about Ms. Midler because I want her to know how integral her voice was to my growing up.

When P became a friend, his name was Paul. Paul and I worked at Subway Sandwich Shop in Winter Park, near Rollins College. I was even more enamored of Paul than I was of P (which, looking back, would have been a pretty hard thing to do!). He teased me as if I were his kid sister, playing pranks on me like, on my first day, sent me back into the old parking lot to pick lettuce behind a brambly bush. I can see him still, cigarette dangling from his lips as he sliced the salami, laughing at my blissful gullibility; anything to make Paul happy. (I really did think there would be lettuce to pick back there.)

We had a small transistor radio that played above the slicer and whenever Bette Midler’s “The Rose” came on, Paul stopped whatever we were doing (except making sandwiches, of course) and swept me into his arms to dance with him. I can still feel his warmth against my body. That song encompasses everything I feel for Paul.

This book I am writing. Paul is my Muse. I talk to him as I write. “Do you like that? Did I describe it right?” It might be fiction, but it is autobiographical fiction. Paul wants me to get the words down as he saw them, too.

I’m writing, dear one. I am writing.

Paul Wegman died of AIDS August 24, 2004. He is missed by so many.

Writing in a Cocoon

I seem to go through cycles in my writing.

First, I love to write, then share what I have written with a couple (few) people, then read what I have written at various Open Mics on Second Life.

Then I find myself feeling all heady and full of myself when I get good reviews (which, so far, have been always).

After that, I struggle to reclaim my humility, feeling as Dani Shapiro says in Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Writing Life, that when one shares their work before it is finished, it drains the energy to continue writing. The pressure… divine pressure… is released before the task is done and the work suffers.

I am in that third place, realizing that I have been floating on a cloud of good reviews and instead of writing, I am gloating, looking over what I have written. The previous post, Ravel’s Boléro & My Writing, is an example of that gloating.

When I wrote:

Turning back to the window after hearing a couple of guys oooo and ahhh, (Lisa) stood watching two particularly active men. Tilting her head and squinting, they became notes on a musical staff, Ravel’s Boléro pulling the men through the staccato eighth and sixteenth notes. She watched as they tumbled three-quarter speed through the lines on the page, each thrust into a man’s body creating the accent at the end of the wave before a new crest of orgasms began. The symphonic orchestra in her head, mixing with We Are Family on the motel’s radio, created something resembling a Stravinsky composition.

…I swooned and shared the paragraph in half a dozen places, including, as you see, here in my blog.

Shapiro says that when that swooning happens… when one is so enamored of a section, a sentence, a word… that is the first thing to go in editing.

The original attribution is from British journalist, critic, and novelist Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, who said: “Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it — whole-heartedly — and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”

I re-read what I wrote and laughed aloud because after I put it here in my blog, I saw the absurdity of the paragraph, that it would take a musician to know what I was talking about. Is it a pretty section? You bet. Can I use it where I put it in the book? Not at all.

Re-Building the Cocoon

I’ve decided I am not going to share any more of my writings with people until I am ready for Beta Readers when the book is finished. I’m going to stop bragging about the book’s possible names, the importance of writing the book now and how much is me and how much is the character.

I’m re-building my cocoon.

I better stay in it for a darn long time, too. I have work to do!

Sharing my writing is sapping my creative energy. I need to cocoon and write for my One Reader (my inspiration!), finishing before sharing the whole work at one time.

Ravel’s Boléro & My Writing

I’m working sort of diligently on my main Work in Progress about the gay world immediately pre and post-AIDS and created a few sentences I wanted to share with you before I tell you about my Rabbit Hole experience with Ravel’s Boléro .

Turning back to the window after hearing a couple of guys oooo and ahhh, (Lisa) stood watching two particularly active men. Tilting her head and squinting, they became notes on a musical staff, Ravel’s Boléro pulling the men through the staccato eighth and sixteenth notes. She watched as they tumbled three-quarter speed through the lines on the page, each thrust into a man’s body creating the accent at the end of the wave before a new crest of orgasms began. The symphonic orchestra in her head, mixing with We Are Family on the motel’s radio, created something resembling a Stravinsky composition.

The paragraph formed as I was writing in silence, Boléro being what began in my head and then I had to look and see when the movie 10 came out… 1979… exactly where Lisa would have heard the song first. Lisa was also in band and would have known details about the music. Then as she came back to herself, the combination of Boléro and We Are Family, a disco song, would have created the cacophonous sound of a Stravinsky orchestration. I have never liked Stravinsky, so that was an easy one to “hear.”

Example of the complicated cacophony Stravinsky offers.

Herbert von Karajan

Moving to YouTube to listen and the first orchestra I heard was the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra with Herbert von Karajan as Conductor. I watched mesmerized and needed to know more. First, I scrolled through the comments, blessedly I read Spanish, too, because everywhere I read the next few days had a lot of Spanish comments and articles. In the comments, I see the word “Nazi” in relation to Karajan, so off I go to Wikipedia and learn that sure enough, he was a Nazi during WWII. When he traveled around the world to conduct orchestras, he had been picketed, his evenings of conducting interrupted by protesters (including here in the United States). While I do not know the year this particular video was created, the orchestra is all white men. He died in 1989, so before then. While his conducting was amazing and my favorite, I just cannot watch him anymore.

Maurice Ravel

Then I head in a different direction learning about the actual piece Boléro by Frenchman Maurice Ravel who, thankfully, was not a Nazi. Boléro was a commissioned piece for a ballet.

I find the rhythm, the pace and instrumental shifts as interesting as it starting pianissimo (as soft as possible) and ending fortissimo (as loud as possible).

I have listened to orchestras from around the world play Boléro… professionals and students, loving each performance. There are Flashmobs that are worth watching.

Two ballet performances in particular are worthy of your time. Both were choreographed by Maurice Béjart, one with a ballerina, Maya Plisetskaya and one with a ballerino, Jorge Donn… an extremely homoerotic piece that is amazing to watch.

Jorge Donn dancing Boléro

I have a preference for the slower pace… between 62 and 76 beats per minute. These were the beats Ravel himself set in his scores. It annoyed the crap out of him to have the conductor speed up as the piece goes on, something that, apparently, is really common.

When Piero Coppola was doing the first recording of Boléro in 1930, Ravel sitting next to him, Coppola says:

Maurice Ravel… did not have confidence in me for the Boléro. He was afraid that my Mediterranean temperament would overtake me, and that I would rush the tempo. I assembled the orchestra at the Salle Pleyel, and Ravel took a seat beside me. Everything went well until the final part, where, in spite of myself, I increased the tempo by a fraction. Ravel jumped up, came over and pulled at my jacket: “not so fast”, he exclaimed, and we had to begin again.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bol%C3%A9ro

Conductor Arturo Toscanini

Toscanini premiered Boléro with the New York Philharmonic in 1929. I am sharing that because the original recording is in YouTube and knowing that was the first playing in public of the piece gives me shivers of happiness! How lucky we are to be able to hear this! Instrumental foibles and all.

Where’s the Part About Writing?

Listening to Boléro, my writing has been going really well. This book is flowing along. Not fast enough for my taste, but at least it is going. I must have listened to it 100 times now, and watched half of that.

Gustavo Dudamel

When I need to take a break, I love watching Gustavo Dudamel, a Venezuelan Conductor who is delightfully animated as he directs the Wiener Philharmoniker. Someone commented: How to be a good conductor… really love music or have a controlled seizure. This fits Dudamel perfectly.

And then there is writing this post. No one might care, but I have a new blog post out and I am very happy about that!

Coming Back, Again

I am doing really, really well.

COVID Vaccine

I have gotten BOTH my COVID vaccines (Moderna), having nothing more than a sore arm the 1st time and no side effects the 2nd, I am 3 weeks out from the 2nd shot. Not bad for a once Anti-Vaxxer, eh?

Writing

Writing is going really well. I wrote so much during NaNoWriMo 2020, still needing to write more, but am editing a lot, too. This is an excerpt from near the beginning of the book:

Lisa heard Manny whispering, “Is that one over there?” She looked and saw a tallish man wearing jeans and an AC/DC tee shirt slip behind the azalea bushes.
“Lake Eola is hopping tonight. Let me go talk to him,” Lisa said.
She stepped away from her friends to follow the older man now in the shadows. When she was also hidden in the darkness, she softly asked, “Are you looking for someone?”
His answer was more a grunt than an assent.
She continued, “I think your friend might be over there.”
He nodded towards her friends chatting out on the sidewalk. They were deciding who would be the first “friend” tonight and who would be the decoys for the cops so the cocksucker would be safer with the guy in the bushes.
“Yeah, you know where my friend is? He got lost. Tell him where I am.”
She went back onto the moonlit sidewalk, pulling Manny by the hand, the hand that was sweaty and sticky before he even got near the other person.
“Don’t be nervous. Once you get going, it’s easier.”
She yanked him back behind the azalea bush and dropped his hand before turning to go back to the other two guys waiting for her to find them a “friend,” too.
Lisa and the two waiting their turn sat on a bench together, chatting. They acted as if nothing out of the ordinary was going on except they were out at Lake Eola at midnight on a school night, watching the space ship-shaped fountain changing colors.
Lisa had been going to Lake Eola since her family moved to Orlando in 1965 when she was four, six years before Disney World opened. Orlando was sleepier then. T.G. Lee Milk had a ranch with cows on it on Bumby Avenue T.G. Lee was just a boring building now. The city had changed so much in thirteen years.
The three of them waited and before seven minutes were up, Manny was back out of the bushes, looking triumphant.
He said, “You were right! It was easy!” and all the guys high-fived each other.
Manny was the first of the group to suck cock at Lake Eola that night. Lisa felt like she had become a tour bus operator on a kinky road trip through Anonymous Homosexual Sex Land.

Malignant Melanoma

Well, I had a patch that needed surgery for awhile and my daughter Aimee and I did all kinds of woo woo incantations and such on it and by the time we finally scheduled surgery and did another biopsy to see how much it had grown or gotten worse, it was GONE. HA! I cured myself! So, for the moment, I am cancer-free. Wheeee!

Spirituality

I have been exploring, as I have said before, and had been looking for the perfect book to guide me along. I read all sorts of Ram Dass (whom I love) and then some other books, but one was suggested to me that was perfect: Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo. It answered so many of the questions that have puzzled me for so many years and I finally feel on decent footing for finding a spiritual path just for me.

Somewhat Caught Up

Work is really good. I am thrilled writing is going well. My kids are amazing and we get to spend a few days ALL together in a few weeks. Me, my mom, my kids and my grandkids. I have not seen all 3 of my kids together in one place in about 10-12 years. I am going to be in heaven! All but one of us is completed vaccinated. We are prepared!

Hopefully, more soon!

COVID & Me: I Year Old

March 11, 2020 was the day the world learned we were in a COVID-19 Pandemic.

A Year Ago…

…I was riddled with anxiety and depression knowing I was going to die within weeks. I did not want to die alone in the hospital, so decided I would die by suicide at home. I gathered all the most potent medications and set them out, trying to figure out when I should take them. I called a beloved friend who would sit with me on the phone as I faded away, so felt more in control over a completely out-of-control experience.

A Year Later

On March 11, 2021, I got my first COVID vaccine shot.

I am going to make it through this pandemic alive.

Reflections of Aire

Last week’s Initiation class was about the element of Air(e) (I like the E on there even though I am not British.)

I am a Fire sign, but was l-o-s-t in the Fire element discussion and meditation 2 weeks ago. I did not have much hope for Aire, something I had never given much thought to.

So imagine my shock when, as the meditation began, I was thrust onto the terrazzo floor in the house I grew up in, ice cold because the air conditioner was always on… the antique Hi-Fi Stereo System we had playing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. This stereo was like a suitcase with hinges so the speakers could come off and be placed, corded, somewhere in the room to get the best sound. For me, the best sound was when each speaker was sitting on either side of my head, blaring into my ears.

Flying!

As Pink Floyd played, I found my (drug-free) 16-year old Self lifted out of my body… spontaneously. Not something I had ever heard of or aspired to do. First, I flew around the house, up to the ceiling, then I mentally opened a window and flew out of it. I wandered/floated around the neighborhood, my viewpoint being that of a bird. I felt no flapping wings, did not feel like a bird, but was UP and dipping and flying back UP again. I could hear Pink Floyd in my ears, but it sounded further away.

The first place outside of my neighborhood that I had to visit was Disney World.

When I got used to the flying feeling, I thought how cool it would be to wander further,

I never told anyone about these flights of fancy lest they commit me to a psych hospital, but in times of pain or fear, I would zip up and away from where I was not having a good time. Escapism at its finest.

Not sure when I stopped flying around, but I had not thought of it for eons… and then…

Initiation Into Aire

…imagine my surprise when, as our meditation began a couple of weeks ago, Pink Floyd started playing in my head almost immediately. Before I could even wonder what I would do during the meditation, I was up and out, the still-familiar feeling of flying I had not experienced in decades.

I wandered all over for the 40 minute meditation, but don’t remember exactly where I went (should have written it down!), but it was fantastic.

Claiming the Aire

I won’t overlook air again!

And, I was also reminded I have a hummingbird on my left breast, a dragonfly on my right arm and Tinker Bell on my calf. Apparently I am more Aire than I thought!

Reflections of Earth

I owe you all a Reflection of Aire, but this came out first.

Last night’s Intuition celebrated the wonders of the Earth and Earthly bodies. I know the earth well, so knew this would not be a difficult experience. I did, however, go places I did not expect to and now I will take you with me. (And if you think I am crazy, so be it!)

I was a midwife, doula and monitrice for 32 years, catching about 900 babies and watching even more born through the decades.

So, when I started traveling through time during the meditation, it was not shocking, but surprising that I wandered as a midwife. I walked so many places, barefoot, my feet muddy and toenails chipped and caked with mud.

I walked to wooden houses, mud huts, spaces around a fire with no covering at all. I was walking from my mind’s eye. I did not watch myself, but was looking out my eyes as I moved around. I did not catch any babies during the meditation, but was “With Woman” as counselor, curandera, spiritual leader, doula.

And then I moved even further back, an early human, lots of hair, but upright and in caves. The fire outside the opening kept the animals from approaching the wetness of birth, the blood and fluids that sank into the earth and, subsequently, added to the designs on my feet as I was finished with my time with the family.

I easily went further back, walking on knuckles and feet, knowing I was a gorilla one moment, a chimpanzee another. I wandered as a great ape, not as a midwife, but as a mother myself. Alone, but not lonely, laboring alone and as I birthed, I birthed my Self.

photographer: Barb Herrera

What a beautiful experience.

Disappointment & Bliss

Disappointment

After ALL that processing of the upcoming surgery, the surgeon’s office called me and canceled, rescheduling for March 30. That Malignant Melanoma best keep itself in check until I can get it melon-balled out.

The cancellation was not a total bust though because I ordered my own Bariatric Gowns and will be able to bring my own on the 30th. Wheee!!

Bliss!

I have been trying to get the COVID Vaccine since I decided to get it about a month ago. While I am not in the age range, I am extremely high risk health-wise. If I got COVID, I would be gone soon after.

So, it was with enormous joy when I got an appointment at a pharmacy close to my house for Thursday evening!!

Dojo Bliss Art

I thought and considered, long and hard, the pros and cons of a vaccine that was so new, but the odds were against me if I did not get the shot. Wayyyyy against me.

So I am giddy with happiness!

Surgery; Wagging the Dog

I go in tomorrow for my 3rd surgery (in 14 months) for removing the malignant melanoma I gave myself after sunning for years with Crisco on my skin, being a lifeguard for a decade and swimming in outdoor pools with nary a drip of sunscreen on me.

No white-skinned, blue-eyed person should have that many freckles brought by the sun fairies.

Anyway, after the last surgery debacle, the doctor and I decided to do the next surgery in his office and decide what works best next time after this office surgery experience. I agreed wholeheartedly, after being terribly mis-managed physically in the Operating Room last time.

Tomorrow, March 8, 2021 at 3:00pm is the surgery.

I had 2 virtual meetings with the surgeon (whom I adore) as we planned the surgery. I asked for a sturdy chair with no arms so I could sit on it and lean over the exam table while he used local anesthetic on me. He thought that was a clever idea and solution to my teetering on my side for an hour (or more) on the exam table. I also asked if I could please have a Bariatric Gown and he said that was easy.

How hard is it to have chairs without arms available? Costco sells them, for crying out loud. And I am HARDLY the fattest person on earth who goes to their offices. Why have I been struggling with this chair issue for 40+ years?!?

So when I called Thursday to make sure everything was in place, they said they knew nothing about any of that, there were no chairs without arms in their office and they did not have bariatric gowns, either. I calmed my anger for a few minutes to explain why I needed these things… and, by the way, the office knows me WELL, how fat I am, disabled, etc. I make them all laugh and we always have fun.

Until now.

I called on Friday and the surgeon’s nurse said I would be placed on the Bariatric Exam Table they have and they would “try” to get a bariatric gown for me. “The doctor never told us about a chair (she said almost spitting).” I decided there, that even if I cannot order my own chair, I would order my own fucking gown and carry it around for myself.

Solution Power!

Anyway, after I hung up and had a good frustration cry, I regrouped my senses and thought about how I can make this as pleasant as possible. Not enough time for a gown, but will bring a sheet with me to cover myself with.

The teetering on the exam table took a few more hours to find a solution.

My U-shaped body pillow! I took the cover off, washed and bleached it and then put it in a ziplock bag. I will carry my body pillow and my comforting supplies (more on that in a moment) and re-dress the pillow when I am in the surgery room. I can hold/cling to that as I am on my side and it will keep me immobile.

Music to My Ears

I am bringing my tablet set up to play my George Winston Playlist, starting with Autumn, then December and on and on. There are 5 hours of George Winston; I doubt I will need that much.

Earbuds are in my purse, along with my Ibuprofen and MY SIGNED NOTIFICATION OF HAVING DIABETES SO I CAN GET THE COVID VACCINE! Not that anyone tomorrow will be giving me a shot, I am carrying that sucker around just in case.

My Golden Ticket

Ready to Wag the Dog/Run My Surgery!

I will holler when I can about how things went. I feel MUCH better writing this out. Thanks for listening!

Spiritual Trip to Mexico (circa 1990)

A new doula-longtime La Leche League friend of mine and I had this wild idea to go visit a curandera down in Mexico… a healer… some would call a curandera a witch. Use whatever form of wise woman you choose.

My friend (I will call her Julie) was driving her smallish, good gas mileage car and we drove around San Diego devising our plan before finally turning south… you know, since Mexico is south of California, right?

Spiritual Supplies

We two white girls had zero clue about curanderas or Mexican culture. What we knew were from bad movies that (now I know) mocked Indigenous People all over the continent. When we stopped at the small gas station god knows where, we bought a couple of nectarines and a couple of plums, microwave popcorn (3 bags) and, of course, unfiltered cigarettes. Healers want tobacco, don’t they? Sitting here with this trip so far in the past, I am ashamed of my stupidity, but am trying to offer myself grace for wanting to do the right thing.

And so Julie and I headed south, not having one idea where to go or how to find a curandera, but we just trusted we would find one.

What we did figure out before crossing the border was the question we wanted answered: Were we going to be midwives?

Into Mexico

90 minutes later, we were sure we’d crossed into Mexico… no border crossing, no Border Patrol and certainly no fence gave us the exact moment we moved from in the United States into Mexico, but surely we were there by then, right? We were on an asphalt road in a pretty flat area of desert that looked much like the desert in San Diego, but the little bubble compass said we had been heading south for that hour and a half.

Driving into nowhere, we verbally asked the Universe for directions to a curandera. I’m trying to remember if I really thought that would work or not, but I do know we did it.

After not much longer, though, we saw some houses on the horizon and headed towards them… now on a dirt road. A really bumpy dirt road that had us both bouncing around the car, hitting our heads on the roof and everything. But we were giddy with excitement (and nervousness) that we might find who we were looking for.

Asking for Directions

We eventually made it to the neighborhood we’d seen on the horizon. There couldn’t have been more than 75 or a hundred houses in the small area we were in and a lot of people were outside, some working on cars, women talking, kids playing.

The houses looked kind of like this… there was a paved road with dirt roads every few blocks.

In my broken Spanish, I asked, “¿Dónde está la curandera?” The men were the ones who came down to the car to talk and every time I asked, they would point the way… pointing down the street. We would drive down the block, then ask again at the corner and someone else would point in the direction to go. When it was time to turn down a street, someone pointed the way. Not one person seemed to think what we were doing was odd or absurd. They all but nodded and showed us the way. We followed the directions until someone said, “Esa casa.” That one.

The Curandera

We parked a couple of houses away and gathered the plums, nectarines, tobacco and microwave popcorn and walked to the small house that looked kind of like this, without the fence.

We stood at the door and I was going to knock when a very old woman who was only up to my shoulders in height (and I am 5’2″!) opened the door and stepped back asking us in.

How she knew we were there is beyond me. We were silent walking up and it seemed unlikely that someone called to give her a head’s up. We saw no electric lights and the house was silent except for our breathing. There were two rooms… the kitchen/dining room and the living room. Both were 3 steps wide and about 4 steps long. The walls were covered with Catholic iconography. Take this next picture and put it on every wall, floor to ceiling and on the altar in the living room; that is what it looked like.

There were also candles burning everywhere including several to the Virgen de Guadalupe (the Virgin Mary).

How Did She Know?

The curandera knew exactly why were there without our saying one word. She said the word “midwife” in Spanish (partera) which we both recognized and looked at each other, waggling our eyebrows as a gesture to say “How the holy hell does she KNOW?!?”

The curandera was magical. She was so tiny and wrinkled, but stood the whole time, giving us her 2 chairs at the table. She talked to us, recited many prayers and we were entreated to cross ourselves which I did even though I was studying Judaism. It seemed the right thing to do at the moment. We were asking… she was answering. She deserved our respect.

She pointed at me several times and I got the gist that she was saying I was already on my way to being a midwife. I was much closer than Julie was, that was true. I had worked through a lot of my fears, but it would still be many more years before I was able to BE a midwife and not freak out worrying about someone dying in my care.

Facing Fear

After talking to me for a few minutes, she turned to Julie and made tsk tsk noises and tapped her forehead several times. She reached for a jar that had pink liquid in it… set right on the kitchen counter… and I could catch every few words of Spanish. She was telling Julie she could see how scared she was about being a midwife and she needed to stop being afraid.

She handed her the wide-mouthed jar 3/4 full of the pink potion and gestured for her to take a drink. Without questioning, Julie took a swig. Her face contorted from its vileness and she handed the jar back to the old woman who put the lid on and gave it to Julie again who was near tears from how disgusting it was. She said it tasted like brake fluid.

The curandera told her to keep the jar and any time she was afraid, she was to take a drink. Julie looked at me and said she would never be afraid again. Voila! The magic trip worked! We laughed about her calling it brake fluid because it was, in many ways a “brake” on her fear.

After Julie’s encounter with the brake fluid, we offered the fruits and tobacco to the sweet woman. We’d set the microwave popcorn aside thinking 1) she didn’t have electricity 2) she didn’t have a microwave 3) she didn’t have teeth, but the curandera pointed to it and we gave her the 3 bags. She did not want the tobacco and I could all but hear in her head, “What idiots!”

The curandera walked towards the door, letting us know our time was up and we hugged and kissed her on both cheeks as she bid us a lovely farewell prayer in Spanish. I swear we were high as we floated back to the car.

Driving Home

I asked Julie if she was okay to drive after the potion she’d drunk and she said she was, just really buzzy, which was the perfect description of how I felt.

Buzzy.

While the trip there was over flat land, we somehow found a mountain going North to the States again. The mountain was a dirt road for much of it, but it became asphalt when we got inside the U.S. (That was my guess anyway.)

It looked a lot like the picture above. We drove slowly because we were never sure who was around the next bend and we would have to squeeze the car against the mountain so the people could pass in their cars. I was never so thankful to be in a tiny car.

Being in the passenger seat, I could look over the side and more times than not, when I dared peek over, there were buses and cars and carts down the mountain, clearly having fallen some time in the past. I told Julie if we fell over, no one would ever know where we were. We had not told anyone where we were going. There was no such thing as cell phones back then. We didn’t even have GPS to find our way… just the little bulb compass attached to the windshield.

Nervously, I laughed and Julie did, too. A wind picked our car up and dropped it down hard. We did not laugh again.

Home

We headed north until we were clearly on a road leading to a highway and finally found ourselves on I-8 between Yuma, Arizona and El Centro, California… about 2 hours east of San Diego. Once again, there was no border crossing, no Border Patrol (we never saw Border Patrol on our journey) and no fence. We were not even certain when we passed back into the United States, but once on I-8, we knew how to get home.

As we know, I became a midwife. My friend Julie is a nurse and I am sure she is a magnificent nurse who deals with fear in every way she can. I know she still has that jar of brake fluid on her altar.

Ego, Ego Everywhere

As I traverse this new-again “Spiritual Path” (I really am not sure what to call it yet), I have come up against feeling left out/that people are talking about me/that people are ignoring me/MeMeMeMeMe.

I’m reading Walking Each Other Home: Conversations on Loving and Dying by Ram Dass & Mirabai Bush and, of course, the topic of Ego is discussed in-depth.

So as these not-so-fun feelings are coming up, I am being given the “opportunity” (HA!) to explore where they came from and why I am hanging on to them. Interestingly, I have not cried about feeling “other”-ish, something I would have typically done before. Instead, I am looking at the feeling, from a little further back, and smiling… sometimes actually laughing at the humor of why I think so many people talk or think about me in their day-to-day lives… how absurd that really is.

That is not to say the feelings evaporate, but the nettle-sting of them is blunted considerably.

I like this a lot better than boo hoo-ing over feeling left out. With my Self, I am never left out!

I’m Glad I’m a Boy! I’m Glad I’m a Girl!

This is the name of a book I have had for over 3 decades, that I found at a yard sale.

It’s really quite a ghastly book that I never showed my kids until they had kids of their own because of the sexist pages between that sexist-sounding title.

Copyright 1970

So, without comment, here is the book:

My question becomes:

If you, at anytime while looking at the pages thought, “Well, that’s true!” I am asking you to reconsider that gender role again. Is it always true?