View From Table 9

October 19, 2016

The Boy Who Could Fly

Filed under: musings — table9 @ 6:19 pm

For the longest time, I told myself, my son, everyone, that it was all about what he wanted to do. That whatever he wanted, my son, I would support.

It was also about doing what I ‘should’ do. I’d make sure he had what he needed to be successful. Do the best by him. Do what the experts say. Help him understand, accept, even love the way he’s wired. Make sure he has a physical outlet, a creative outlet, he is a Warrior and that’s what Warriors demand. That’s what a good mother does, right? Sees her son’s dreams and helps him follow them? Makes sure he has the tools to sustain himself, to teach him how to leave and be able to create the life he wants for himself, because we showed him how.

So when he stopped going along with the program, my instinct to simply override and push through took over. This was the right thing. This was the best thing, for him, I’m just being a good parent to him. Ignore the hostility and the digging in of the heels, he will get over it and he will see that there is power in flight, and that he should never, ever abandon it. So few in this world have that fearlessness, that joy, he must not be permitted to waste this.

I wanted to believe that my drive is selfless, all for him. That’s not 100% true. I loved to see him fly. I would sit for hours on hard benches, in dusty gyms, in all weather, just to watch. When he flies, it’s a thing of beauty, an alchemy of grace and strength. To see him float, to watch him soar, that made everything worth it.

He was always interested in flying. From the time he was a baby, in one of those motorized swings, it had to be on the highest, fastest setting or he would not tolerate it. He fell asleep zooming back and forth, back and forth. When his father would toss him in the air, when his cousins would play ‘catch the baby’ he would laugh with pure joy. Again! Higher! Pushing him so high on the swing the other parents would gasp with fear, him laughing the whole time. I learned not to flinch, to push down my urge to say Stop! He could get hurt. Of course he could, and he did. That is the nature of flying, and the unbreakable pull of gravity. He seemed to be charmed, though, as injuries were few.

He started in gymnastics with the idea that it would give him an outlet for his boundless energy, good muscle memory and some skills he could apply to other sports. Gymboree, then Little Gym, then “Big Gym.” We didn’t expect that he would reject all other sports introduced to him: swimming, baseball, tennis, soccer. It was then that it dawned on me why: He couldn’t fly through the air on a field or court, and that is what he wanted to do most. Be on the bar, on the rings, and any chance he got on the trampoline.

It never occurred to me that a time would come when he wouldn’t want to fly any longer. How could that be? There was so much joy, fearlessness, freedom in the flying. I selfishly ignored the signs he was grounding himself, believing that the joy that was once there hadn’t left. That I could, once again, watch him float, twist, flip and soar.

Then, today, from his coach. “I think he has lost all interest in the trampoline.” I was not prepared for how sad I would be, how much I will miss this time, how I want to scream that it’s not fair to take this away from me, except it never was mine to begin with. It’s his, to do with what he wants.

It amazes me that what was once full of joy is now ‘boring’. Something so central to him, now not interested. I don’t know quite how to process that. It frightens me that there is no new joy, no new passion filling that place once held by the need to defy gravity. What that means to who he’s becoming. What happens next. How this creature of the air lives with both feet permanently on the ground.

Also, to grieve, as well as to acknowledge my truth – that it wasn’t always just about what he wanted. I wanted it too, probably more than him. This gift was never mine. I have always been a witness to it, and what a great experience that was.

I will miss this more than I can express in words.

February 9, 2015

Singing through the Veil of Dementia

I spent a good couple of hours tonight putting together a playlist for my mother. Researchers say that music reaches the dementia patient long after recognition fades and language fails. The important thing is to be sure that the music selected be relevant, important, enjoyed by the person who is becoming increasingly distant. That music is the most soothing, brings the most joy, provides the best experience.

The process of building her playlist was full of so much emotion for me. Joy, excitement, melancholy, sadness and hope, all rolled up. I noticed how different her musical tastes were from my father’s and that he bought most of the CDs they had. He is all jazz and crooners. Cleo Lane. Roy Orbison. Preservation Jazz Hall. That was never her music. She loved show tunes, Rogers & Hammerstein, some opera – Pavarotti, Domingo, and Gilbert & Sullivan. Catholic hymns, not to be confused with traditional gospel, which was never her speed. Some of her favorites from the St. Colman’s Guitar Mass days. Tom Lehrer. Andrews Sisters. Glenn Miller. What would reach her? What would move her? What would give her joy?

As the list evolved, I found myself planting little messages to her – do you remember? Summer Stage, the King and I, Shall We Dance, Mom? How about Sweet Mystery of Life, Young Frankenstein, banishing us from the living room because we laughing so hard you couldn’t hear the Jeanette McDonald original being sung? Could I, though this work, not only reach her, but could I communicate with her, tell stories to her, through these choices? It is my most fervent hope, perhaps asking too much, that this be so.

Scrolling through my musical library, I wondered, what would my son pick for me, should I be captured by this beast called dementia? What music would he choose out of the hundreds…ok thousands of titles I have stored in one form or another? How would he tell our story, a story of a mother and child, through song and sound? Could I even choose myself which pieces spoke to my very core, the vibration of my existence? I’m not honestly sure I could curate that list, and I don’t ever want him to have to do for me what I am doing for my mother. I would love to hear that play list one day, though.

For now, I bring her this offering, stored away in a tiny music player, no bigger than a domino. I will give them an armband, a set of good headphones, a charge cord. I will cross my fingers as they press play, hoping that she will understand – why this tune? Oh, remember that song, or at the very least, that the sounds bring smiles for both of us. A mother drifting away, a daughter sending love through the songs sung for her. Soothing the grief felt as mom disappears into the mist. Praying for peace.

February 6, 2009

What the #$*(P&? Enough Already!

Filed under: musings,Uncategorized — table9 @ 3:16 pm

Like hundreds of millions of folks in the country, I watched with hope and awe the inauguration a few weeks ago. It was one of those times when I really truly thought an era was ending, we had collectively pulled our heads out of…wherever…and were finally going to change course and fix what is so clearly broken in our economy.

This, after the ‘great bailout’ which (no surprises) turned out to be the great big Christmas bonus from us taxpayers to fatcat bankers and Wall Street bigwigs via their Republican buddies. You know, the guys who then took those ‘critically needed to save us’ trillions of dollars, then managed both to layoff thousands AND still give themselves ‘great job’ bonuses and continue fueling their private jets and ‘team building’ exercises in the Bahamas using our tax dollars.

I figured (hoped) that those payoffs/paybacks/lovely party gifts were the last gasp of a 30 year failed economic theory that if you cut taxes at the top, it spurs investment and that if you regulate less, the market takes care of everything. We can all see how that one turned out, right? (Lots of investment dollars channeled into suspect mortgage schemes and more and more Ponzis that then begat more and more suspect mortgage schemes and more and more Ponzis meanwhile real jobs eroding and pop! goes the economy).

Then we’ve had a succession of black Mondays, as they’re being called, as more and more employers ‘shed’ jobs (like a dog sheds old fur? These are PEOPLE, not things to be ‘shed’) and more and more people sink into unemployment and debt and despair and desperation.

Then comes Mr. Obama and his idea to take those dollars previously directed to fund private jet fuel and Bahamas massages and $30 Million bonuses for running us into the ground and use it to, well, fix our aging creaking water systems, our bridges that are falling down (remember Minn 35W?), and our schools that house our future and are becoming dangerously outdated. Sounds good to me. At least I get a better water system, safe bridges and good school facilities out of it. Maybe even some more energy independence. Under the previous plan, I got to read about how great it was to steal us all blind AND still maintain my standard of living AND get great bonuses for doing so.

So, OK. Obama makes a critical mistake though: He thinks that good ideas should be acknowledged, especially when so many of you have royally blown it (and don’t even pretend to be surprised that this happened since we all know you very well saw it a looong time ago and ignored it because it was making you rich as Rome was burning).

Imagine my surprise to read though that some are either more delusional than I thought OR they really don’t give a crap about the rest of us and are just looking for any way to derail their ‘opposition’ just for spite or because they want a return to the days when they’re lining their pockets with our tax dollars while we drown.

Because Republicans are now looking to ‘trim’ the rescue package, take tax dollars out of infrastructure spending (stuff we really need) in favor of tax cuts designed to ‘stimulate spending’ – give us our tax dollars back to spend any way we like. Um, if we don’t have jobs, and don’t even have the prospect of getting jobs, we don’t pay income tax and we don’t get any tax dollars to spend, geniuses. What dollars we do get we’re saving like newly evangelized recovering grasshoppers who’ve just realized the storm is coming and we’re not ready.

Companies who make stuff for us to buy with our newly-freed-non-existent tax dollars aren’t investing either because, well, nobody’s buying their stuff (because we either don’t have income, are getting our income cut, or are terrified we’ll lose our income and are now socking away every extra dime). So, not much room for investment when you don’t have customers.

See, before any tax cuts ‘stimulate’ anything there have to be tax dollars generated, and without jobs, people don’t pay so much in taxes. So what you’re really doing here is ‘rescuing’ all those who would still pay taxes even without jobs -those with trust funds, massive investments, large pots of money. You know, the ones who don’t actually work and are having to downsize from their Bentley to their Benz but will never lose their house or their family or worry about feeding their kids. Yeah, they’re the ones who really need help. Truly.

So, my advice for Mr. Obama? Quit looking to make peace in the sandbox. Don’t look to create ‘bipartisanship’ with those who clearly are not interested at all in the ‘common good’ unless the ‘common good’ is only the top 5% of earners. These are the folks who think (truly) that another Great Depression would be ‘good’ for us as it would allow the market to ‘fix’ itself and rid ourselves of all this unnecessary spending and teach us all a ‘lesson’ in how to be self-reliant and strong. End the welfare state! Let them all starve and let only the strong (rich) survive. That’s the right stuff! It’s time for us all to say no more, folks. It just doesn’t work and what you’re proposing is not going to fly.

Enough, already.

October 26, 2008

Bait and Switch

One of the things I’ve been doing over the past couple of weeks was talking with others about this whole bailout. Talking with the young man driving the hotel shuttle in Charlottesville VA. Talking with my seat mate on a train. Talking with waiters and campaign workers and colleagues and telephone customer service folks and friends and my doctor and the grocery store clerk. My principal question: What the heck are they going to use our $700 billion for and how will that fix the mess we’re in?

The answers I got:

Somehow pay off people’s mortgages so they can keep their houses (no one was really clear on how this would work or who would benefit)

Buy the mortgage loans and keep collecting them

Buy the foreclosed houses from the market

Let people refinance their bad loans through the Government

Give banks money they can lend out to people and businesses

Not one person could describe how any of that above would fix the economy, and nobody was really sure of any of what they said above. Almost universally, the answers started with “I don’t really know, but I think…” We’re talking about $700 Billion (or, in other terms, 75% of the gross national product of Mexico) of our tax dollars, and we couldn’t say how this would work to help us get out of this Second Great Depression. Do you smell a rat too?

Guess what? None of us were right. We’re now starting to see how this great Bailout (which our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren) will save us:

Banks will use the money to buy other banks whom the Treasury believes are ‘weaker’, using Bailout dollars and getting special tax breaks (meaning paying less in taxes) on top of that. Stronger banks will get stronger, and weaker banks will get absorbed, and all at our Federal Government’s behest and direction.

Who says Republicans can’t be Socialists? (Not to mention hypocrites – progressive tax plans are Socialist but direct ownership and control of our banking system is not. Amazing.)

Now, notice, there’s not a word in there that talks about loans – in fact, what’s coming out that despite telling Congress that they’re insisting that banks use the money to make loans, they’re essentially asking really really nicely with sugar on top and hoping that this is what banks will do. These same banks who lied about so much, who cheated and stole, are being asked rather than told what to do with our taxpayer dollars that they insisted they needed to fix things, and then turning around and enriching themselves even further at our now very direct and very equally distributed expense. In other words, they’re still lying, cheating, greedy bastards. Heck, there’s even more of them begging for our money so they can remain, well, rich. White Collar Gangsters on Welfare.

I say we repeal that law that gives Treasury the $700 Billion, recoup the money given out already, and have Really Smart People who don’t have an interest in their post-election private sector big money jobs develop a bailout that really works

Something like the We Deserve it Dividend. Now, when I outlined that fabulous We Deserve it Dividend program (which can be accomplished for a fraction of the Fatcat Bailout), there was also not one person who could not describe exactly how they would use their dividend, and relate how that would help solve the economic conditions for which the ‘bailout’ was designed. People would pay off their mortgages, pay off their cars, buy a new car, invest, put the money in the bank, save for kids’ college, do home improvements, buy a condo or house (if they didn’t own one) and near the very bottom of the list they would take a small vacation. All of these things would fix problems – of debt, infusing capital, distributing wealth, helping businesses survive. What a great idea! Much better than the “We-have-no-idea-how-this-works-bailout”, don’t you think?

Or, and maybe alongside the Dividend, something like Paul Krugman’s idea of taking those dollars (he didn’t say these specifically) and getting people to work fixing our crumbling bridges and roads, infusing dollars into our National Parks and schools and public transportation and developing new industries so we don’t make money only lending to each other so we can buy big screen TVs. Something not totally unlike FDR’s WPA and Civilian Conservation Corps. Both programs worked – giving people jobs, building infrastructure we still use today (many of our National Park buildings were CCC projects). Many regard the programs as lifesavers and sources of great hopes during our First Great Depression.

What is it they say? Those who don’t remember history are condemned to repeat it? Yep. I’d rather say “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

September 29, 2007

And Then There’s This…

Filed under: articles,musings — table9 @ 11:53 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

From the Associated press, this article , on the trials of our wounded veterans once they return home.

He was one of America’s first defenders on Sept. 11, 2001, a Marine who pulled burned bodies from the ruins of the Pentagon. He saw more horrors in Kuwait and Iraq

Gamal Awad, the American son of a Sudanese immigrant, exemplifies an emerging group of war veterans: the economic casualties.

More than in past wars, many wounded troops are coming home alive from the Middle East. That’s a triumph for military medicine. But they often return hobbled by prolonged physical and mental injuries from homemade bombs and the unremitting anxiety of fighting a hidden enemy along blurred battle lines. Treatment, recovery and retraining often can’t be assured quickly or cheaply.

These troops are just starting to seek help in large numbers, more than 185,000 so far. But the cost of their benefits is already testing resources set aside by government and threatening the future of these wounded veterans for decades to come, say economists and veterans’ groups.

“The wounded and their families no longer trust that the government will take care of them the way they thought they’d be taken care of,” says veterans advocate Mary Ellen Salzano.

How does a war veteran expect to be treated? “As a hero,” she says.

Surprise, the VA is ill-equipped and severely unfunded. Soldiers are returning with more severe injuries than in previous combat situations, largely because of body armour and of more sophisticated weaponry. We’re encountering new syndromes – for instance, they’ve found that penetrating brain injuries, like those seen in IED encounters, leave the memory completely intact. This compares to blunt force trauma, where the memory is largely spared.

So we’re maiming, crippling, psychologically and physically scarring a generation, calling them heroes, then leaving them essentially ‘to the wolves’. Financially destitute, unable to cope, with limited medical and psychological help. Yep, that’s supporting the troops. NOT. God Bless America. Just be sure to not be a wounded hero.

September 8, 2007

Isn’t it interesting….

Filed under: musings — table9 @ 7:34 pm

That a terrorist plot is ‘foiled’ or another ‘Bin Laden’ video surfaces right around the time that things domesically are in the crapper? I wonder if anyone’s correlated these ‘events’?

In our current scene, forclosure looms for thousands, Mattel I believe is Chinese for “lead poisioning” (and I don’t believe for one minute the company was an ‘innocent victim’ here) and the credit market’s in the crapper as nobody wants to buy bad mortgage bonds (which is impacting lots of other things, trickling down of course to jobs). People are generally unhappy, scared and maybe just starting to think that unbridled capitalism isn’t always such a good thing.

Thanks to unbridled capitalism, now they’re losing their house that they probably paid too much for, they may lose their job too and Happy Times Barbie is giving their kid brain damage. Oh and they’ll have a hard time finding another job that isn’t low paid service b/c all the jobs making things that aren’t bombs have gone overseas, where it’s OK to poison people and ruin the environment again as long as you make a buck.

So what’s a good Neocon to do? Enter Bin Laden and ‘real’ terrorist plots.

Hmmm…

September 4, 2007

I Am the Guardian of a Compassionate Soul

Filed under: musings — table9 @ 8:04 am

Lately, I’ve noticed something more and more about my son. He is an unusually compassionate soul.

The first truly ‘standout’ event was at another child’s birthday party about a year ago. One of the other kids was upset because his balloon broke. Our son (then age 4) went up to the crying boy and said “Here, take my balloon. It’s okay.”

I’ve also begun hearing from other parents at his school that their children are coming home with his toys. When they ask why, the children are saying “I asked him, and he gave it to me.” So I asked my son, concerned that maybe he was either A) getting demands for toys (“The Godfather” syndrome in preschool) or B) doing this because he doesn’t think people will like him/be his friend if he doesn’t give them gifts. His answer: “I don’t mind. They are happy.” (age 5).

I mentioned this to one of the teachers at his school, an older woman named Celeste who’s taught for many years. Her answer surprised me. “Oh, my. You’ve got a very rare quality there. Your son is a compassionate soul. At this age, this is not something he’s been taught, it’s just how he is. It’s a gift, means he’s here for something very special.”

I fully expected to have a selfish child I’d need to teach generosity and compassion to.  I never expected the opposite – to teach a generous child not so much selfishness, rather wisdom and judgement.

I’ve seen the first glimmer of this – him saying later he was “just joking” when he gave something he really wanted to another child.  Used that as an example of first, to be sure you really want to give something and second, to make clear that giving is a complete act – can’t take back later because you regret or didn’t think through it.

So, be careful, son.  I’ll do my best to show you wisdom, though it will I suspect take some soul bruising on your part to learn.

At least you won’t be a Republican :).

July 5, 2007

Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Jesus

Filed under: musings — table9 @ 11:23 pm

Lately my son has been excitedly wiggling a tooth, waiting impatiently for it to fall out so he can put it under his pillow for the tooth fairy. He told me she leaves a gold dollar for him, takes the tooth up to heaven so baby Jesus can give it to a new baby waiting to be born to use.

This from a child who hasn’t set foot in a church since he was, oh, about two. That would be about the time our ‘new’ Catholic Archbishop in Virginia announced that a good Catholic couldn’t take communion unless they followed every single Church teaching completely, including those on birth control (being a sin), abortion, etc. That would be when I once again had it with the Church.

My son is fascinated by the Baby Jesus. Thinks about him, talks about him, wonders what he’d like for Christmas (his birthday). He came up with the Tooth Fairy thing completely on his own. Well, not the dollar part. That’s the other kids in his school. But the part about the teeth going to heaven for new babies – as far as I can find, all his. It just astounds me, his ability to create meaning.

Which makes me think: What is it about Baby Jesus that bothers me? Why am I perfectly fine, encouraging even, of other social constructs such as Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, even delighting in them and dreading the day he discovers the deception? Why do I thrill in the magic of their belief, yet feel slightly sick at the concept of Baby Jesus?

As a child, I liked church. Loved hearing the stories. Thought the ideas were pretty good – love each other, don’t lie, cheat, steal, don’t kill, etc. As I reached conciousness, I remember being quite shocked to see that all these people professing these beliefs – my parents even – ignored them the rest of the time. I mean, they all pretty well followed the “Big 10” but the other things – like feed and clothe the poor, be charitable towards other, don’t envy or covet, don’t speak ill of others, etc. – nah.

Now to be Catholic, Italian and Irish is to have the faith woven in the fabric of your world. Leaving the church is like cutting part of you off – it’s so woven in your life you can’t figure out what threads to pull out without it all falling apart. So I became a ‘cultural Catholic’ like so many others around me – following the rituals, marking the days, all while realizing we’re all hypocrites. Eventually I stopped going altogether, except for family rituals, visits home, and mostly holidays.

Then my son came, through amazing circumstances. And I was astounded by him and his world. Rekindled my faith, found a Catholic church I really liked and a pastor whose words really spoke to me. Found a community. Then, an Archbishop changed and the wheels came off. Back to hypocracy. I mean does God really care whether you vote Republican or Democrat?

Yet I feel conflict when I see my son reveling in the wonder. I recognize that the Church, for all it’s flaws, gives us a cultural, spiritual, framework that for me seems childish now but for my son, the child, seems to find strength in. His world *is* black and white, brilliant colors, magic and miracles. Greys, pastels, and reality have not found their way into his world yet. I hope it’s a long time before they do.

So, maybe I should give him the joy of Baby Jesus, teach him the Big 10 and the importance of loving others, caring for the old, clothing the poor and feeding the hungry. He will at some time I’m certain see the hypocracy I do in Organized Religion. What I hope will endure in him, as it has in me, is that little burning ember in my heart, that belief that we really can do all those things, and that they’re important. Maybe that’s enough.

May 14, 2007

Mountains from Molehills…

Filed under: musings — table9 @ 5:23 pm

OK so everyone who’s heard of how painful and/or difficult or unpleasant a mammogram is (i.e., the jokes about slamming your breast in a refrigerator door, etc.), listen up: It’s not.   Yeah, they smush your breast in-between two plates.  For like 15 seconds a pop (4 total – that’s a whole MINUTE of your life).  Yes, it hurts, like a big pinch.   Not nearly as bad though as many other tests or ‘procedures’.  Honestly, I found a pap smear to be more uncomfortable than this, and that lasts longer.

Plus, my FP referred me to a practice that reads the films while you wait, and the only thing they do are mammograms.  SO, no waiting for days, no making another appt to get new films done. I waited about 10 minutes before the doctor called me in.

The result?  Clear as a bell.  And thanks to age, I do NOT have ‘very dense breast material” as I had been told before. I saw the films, and she answered all my questions.

Whew.  I hadn’t realized how much it was scaring me until I heard that.  I’ve been grinning ever since.

May 11, 2007

Senior Citizen Free Preview Month

Filed under: musings — table9 @ 7:31 am

So, I’ve always heard about how, when you age, visits to the doctor proliferate like dandelions, right? I just always figured it would happen right around the time your Medicare ID shows up.

I think I’m getting a free preview month.

After my friend Larisa was diagnosed with Breast CA last month, I made a new commitment to taking care of myself.  Yes, I did go to an OB/GYN, and have my prescription for a mammogram.  I’ve also ended up at:

Dermatologist

Cardiologist

Family Practice

and am headed to:

Radiologist

Plastic Surgeon

All before Memorial day. Dang.

BTW I’ve also experienced the surreal.  Dermatologist was to check out a strange cut-that-wouldn’t heal on my shoulder that DH spotted and kept an eye on. As it turns out, it’s a basal cell carcinoma.   Wow. I have skin cancer.  What’s weird is that it completely does not phase me, even after I went to the FP and for the first time circled “cancer” on the new patient questionnaire.

What’s also strange is that since I’ve gotten that DX, nearly everyone I’ve told has reacted like this: “Oh, yeah, I had one of those…” Who knew?

So now I have a great excuse to not go to the beach, or at least cover up a ton, and have rededicated my life to sunscreen.  I love Coppertone Continuous Spray stuff. It rocks.  Must go search for large floppy hats.

Oh, Plastic Surgeon is to remove said lesion, as it’s in a tricky place according to Dermatologist.  Maybe when I go there I can ask why it seems my entire body has slid 2″ towards the floor.  I kid you not.

As it would happen, FP directed me to a radiologist nearby who does only mammograms and reads them in her office right after you take them – no going home and wondering, no terrifying callbacks to get ‘better pictures’, only according to FP like 10 minutes wait.  Cool.  This works well with my aforementioned sheer terror something will be wrong. No coincidences.

Anyhow, it does seem like I’ve spent a great deal more time in doctor’s offices in the past month than ever before in my life (even when we were doing infertility TX or the time I blew out my knee).  I suppose a nice perk is that I’m now caught up on People and Good Housekeeping. 🙂  I also have a new appreciation for the life of a Senior Citizen, that’s for sure.

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