To read previous journal entries, please go to: Journal
1 archive 2/25-3/24/00, Journal
2 archive 3/25-4/24/00, Journal
3 archive 4/25-5/24/00, Journal
4 archive 5/25-6/24/00, Journal
5 archive 6/25-7/24/00, Journal
6 archive 7/25-8/24/00, Journal7
archive 8/25-9/24/00, Journal
8 archive 9/25-10/24/00, Journal
9 archive 10/25-11/24/00, Journal
10 archive 11/25-12/24/00, Journal
11 archive 12/25/00-1/24/01, Journal
12 archive 1/25-2/24/01, Journal
13 archive 2/25-3/24/01, Journal
14 archive 3/25-4/24/01, Journal
15 archive 4/25-5/24/01, Journal
16 archive 5/25-6/24/01, Journal
17 archive 6/25-7/24/01, Journal
18 archive 7/25-8/24/01, Journal
19 archive 8/25-9/24/01, Journal
20 archive 9/25-10/24/01, Journal
21 archive 10/25-11/24/01, Journal
22 archive 11/25-12/24/01, Journal
23 archive 12/25/01-1/24/02, Journal
24 archive 1/25-2/24/02, Journal
25 archive 2/25-3/24/02, Journal
26 archive 3/25-4/24/02, Journal
27 archive 4/25-5/24/02, Journal
28 archive 5/25-6/24/02, Journal
29 archive 6/25-7/24/02, Journal
30 archive 7/25-8/24/02, Journal
31 archive 8/25-9/24/02,Journal
32 archive 9/25-10/24/02, Journal
33 archive 10/25-11/24/02, Journal
34 archive 11/25-12/24/02, Journal
35 archive 12/25/02-1/24/03, Journal
36 archive 1/25-2/24/03, Journal
37 archive 2/25-3/25/03, Journal
38 archive 3/26-4/24/03, Journal
39 archive 4/25-5/24/03, Journal
40 archive 5/25-6-24/03, Journal
41 archive 6/25-7/24/03, Journal
42 archive 7/25-8/24/03, Journal
43 archive 8/25-9/24/03, Journal
44 archive 9/25-10/24/03, Journal
45 archive 10/25-11/24/03, Journal
46 archive 11/25-12/24/03, Journal
47 archive 12/25/03-1/24/04, Journal
48 archive 1/25-2/24/04, Journal
49 archive 2/25-3/24/04, Journal
50 archive 3/25-4/24/04, Journal
51 archive 4/25-5/24/04, Journal
52 archive 5/25-6/24/04, Journal
53 archive 6/25-7/24/04, Journal
54 archive 7/25-8/24/04, Journal
55 archive 8/25-9/24/04, Journal
56 archive 9/25-10/24/04, Journal
57 archive 10/25-11/24/04, Journal
58 archive 11/25-12/24/04, Journal
59 archive 12/25/04-1/24/05, Journal
60 archive 1/25-2/24/05, Journal 61 archive 2/25-3/24/05, Journal 62 archive 3/25-4/24/05, Journal 63 archive 4/25-5/24/05, Journal 64 archive 5/25-6/24/05, Journal 65 archive 6/25-7/24/05, Journal 66 archive 7/25-8/24/05, Journal 67 archive 8/25-9/24/05, Journal 68 archive 9/25-10/24/05, Journal 69 archive 10/25-11/24/05, Journal 70 archive 11/25-12/24/05, Journal 71 archive 12/25/05-1/24/06, Journal 72 archive 1/25-2/24/06
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MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2002
Today is the two year anniversary of my keeping this online daily journal. My gift to myself is to allow myself not to stay up super late tonight putting up today's entry. It's now almost 1 AM and I've just arrived home after a wonderful night of jazz at Yoshi's in Oakland. Except for a brief time around 4:30 PM, I was out today from 10:30 AM until 12:45 AM. I have lots of pictures and some stories to tell, but they can wait until tomorrow (actually later today!). So check back during the day and hopefully you will find a completed journal entry for February 25th. Nightie night.
It is now 11 hours later; I'm rested and ready to tell you all about Monday, February 25.
First of all, I didn't intend it to be such a big day, but once I was out in the beautiful warm sun I lost my head. That happens sometimes. At 10:30 AM my neighbor Laura and I took Baggs to Dolores Park for his morning romp. For Baggs that means running after his ball. He is a ball maniac. Fortunately Laura and Katy (Bagg's official Mom) use a plastic ball-thrower so Baggs can run good long distances. And can that dog move! No picture I took gave any indication of his speed, so I decided to focus more on his single-minded absorption.
This park is really set up for dogs; it even has a doggie water fountain. When Baggs gets thirsty he simply runs over there, laps up some water and returns as soon as possible to his passion. Of course, as any dog-person knows, you can gauge a dog's exhaustion less by his/her willigness to call it quits than by the length of the tongue hanging out of his/her mouth. After awhile Laura could tell Baggs was done, not that he agreed!
San Franciscans don't take these early spring days for granted. While in the park we saw at least 100 middle school-age kids arrive with their teachers. It was fun to see the youngsters try to retain their "cool" while letting their child-selves play on the swings and playscape. As we were leaving we saw a young woman doing stretching exercises under the palms and a mother sitting on a blanket next to her toddler who was fast asleep. The mother and baby were named Gloria and Freesia. Isn't that a beautiful name for a little girl?
By now--11:30 AM--it was time to meet Dorothy for lunch at Dolores Park Cafe. We've been close friends since 1997, so always have lots of catching up to do. This is our favorite lunch spot, not only because of the delicious vegetarian food but because it is light and bright and has a lovely view out the window. Here's Dorothy and I enjoying a leisurely lunch together.
Since I was so close to the Castro I figured it was a good time to start shopping for Eddie's birthday. On March 9 that dear man turns 72. I know what he likes more than anything--western shirts with pearl-snaps--so I scooted up to Worn Out West. The sales clerk came outside as soon as I got there. He said he heard my scooter. Since WOW has stairs leading up to the front door I require drive-through service, which Sergio graciously gave me. I found a nice looking shirt--not pictured, thank you very much!--and went on my way. I won't tell you my other stops because I want there to be some element of surprise for Ed on his birthday, but I met with success everywhere. I will show you pictures of the old elegant Castro Theatre and the intersection at Market and Castro.
I wish I could let you feel the warm sun on your face and smell the flower-fragrant air that made such a mundane activity as scooting home from the Castro seem like magic. I even dared to take Dolores Street with its three solid blocks of serious hill-climbing. Laura and I had taken that route over to the park this morning and I was pleased to see that Ona handled it with ease. But going home was even more intense. No problem! This scooter is truly amazing. It's not supposed to be hill- or rain-friendly, but it takes anything I dish out. And that's plenty. Here are two views from the top of the Dolores Street hill, one looking north towards downtown and the other looking south towards 21st Street.
By the time I was back in my neighborhood, I felt I needed to celebrate this gorgeous day with an ice cream cone, so I scooted over to John's store. As we chatted outside, Iyah, another neighborhood friend, came by and joined us briefly. I mentioned that I hadn't seen Preston since I'd gotten back. I could tell something had happened when I saw the expressions on both of their faces and the glance that passed between them. My question, "Did he die?", was met by sad nods of their heads.
Preston was a wonderful man. Even though his health was poor--he had to go to dialysis three times a week--he never complained. He was a blues and jazz musician who had a recording studio in his upstairs apartment next door to the deli, and he'd produced many CDs of other artists. Last year I bought one of Preston's CDs and now I'm so glad I did. He will be sorely missed in this neighborhood, in this city where he had lived and made music since he was 21 (he died at 47), and in music circles worldwide. I have a hard time imagining the world without his smile in it.
When I got back home I saw that my aqua handpainted cotton jacket was not on the scooter seat behind my back where I'd placed it earlier in the day. I called all the stores I'd visited and then asked my neighbor Laura if she would please drive me in her car so I could retrace my route. She graciously agreed even though it meant giving up her wonderful parking place across the street, which is a big deal in San Francisco. Luckily, she found one even closer when we returned...empty-handed, I might add. To assuage my disappointment, Laura drove me down the 22nd Street hill on our way home. It was like riding a giant roller coaster! By the way, Mr. Baggs was clearly disappointed that we hadn't invited him along for the ride.
I called Ed and asked him to look for the older handpainted cotton jacket--this one is purple--that I'd bought from my favorite clothing artist who vends at the National Women's Music Festival. I also asked him to look through my computer stuff for software disks I might need for my new computer. Although he was tired after a long day at the VA Hospital, he patiently did as I asked. He sent them out this morning (Tuesday). Thanks, Eddie.
But Monday wasn't over yet!
At 6:45 PM, Laura and I walked/scooted down to the BART station and took the subway under the bay to Oakland. We were meeting my friend Marcia at Yoshi's Jazz Club to see the New York-based Virginia Mayhew group, with Virginia Mayhew on alto sax, Ingrid Jensen on trumpet, Allison Miller on drums and Wayne Batchelor on bass. Oakland's own Mimi Fox, jazz guitarist extraordinaire, joined them for a few numbers. We liked them so much we stayed for both the 8 PM and 10 PM shows. It sure was good to see so many women up on Yoshi's stage--in the jazz world that is unusual.
Laura and I caught the
last BART train back to San Francisco and arrived home at 12:45
AM. It was wonderful to be able to crawl into bed at a reasonable
hour (1:30 AM) rather than staying up to complete my journal.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2002
Today's red letter event was swimming my 24 laps of the crawl in the medium rather than the slow lane at the YMCA pool. No one put me there, I simply decided I didn't want to run the slow-lane obstacle course again today, especially since there were already six bobbers (non-lap swimmers) there when I arrived. I don't think I slowed anyone down in the medium lane; whoever needed to, could easily pass me. But I definitely worked harder than usual, trying to keep up a good pace. I'm feeling it tonight.
than that, I've sat at the computer most of the day. First, I
caught up with yesterday's journal entry and then I archived (one
day late). It is now 10 PM and when I finish this I'm going to
bed. Time for a little R & R (Rest & Recuperation).
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2002
I recall my writing over and over last year, "It's the people." And that holds true. It is always the people. As beautiful as this city is, as glorious as it is to have sunny warm day after sunny warm day, it is the people I will remember.
People like Preston whom I commemorated today by leaving a red rose where he used to live. People like John whose deli/organic grocery is the heart of our neighborhood. People like Suzanne and Carrie with whom I had dinner tonight.
Now there's a story--isn't there always?--that goes with my knowing Suzanne and Carrie. Early last March we had a day like we've been having lately. I celebrated it by scooting over to Mitchell's--a San Francisco institution since the 1950s--for a cone of their delicious homemade ice cream. While there I met two girls and a boy. They were with a woman I assumed was their mother. They agreed to my taking their picture so I did. I told them my web site address and said to check it out the next day as they'd be on my journal. They told me they were celebrating the redhead's approaching birthday, and that the boy and girl with blonde hair were the son and daughter of the woman who was with them. We exchanged first names and that was that. Or so I thought.
Well, the mother--Suzanne--and I have exchanged emails for almost a year now. It turns out we share political views and concern over world events. Since September 11 our messages have offered one another information and support. Even though she is extremely busy raising her children, getting her college degree and supporting herself and the kids, Suzanne manages to check into my journal often enough to feel connected. I have deeply valued our connection.
This evening was the first time we had seen each other since that brief encounter last March. And coincidentally, her partner Carrie, who joined us for dinner, had helped me find an accessible entrance to the AlterNet book launch at New College a few weeks back. Of course, we had no idea at that time of our connection through Suzanne.
What wonderful women! Humorous, aware, intelligent, committed and just plain fun to be with. Conversation didn't stall for a minute; it was as if we had a lot of catching up to do. Carrie will be at next Friday's Global Women's Strike Day march so we'll see one another then, but we three intend to get together other times as well. It is such a gift to find women with whom you feel an immediate sense of community.
The other people who brightened my day were the gang at Simply Supper, especially Mattie whom I'd not seen yet this year. During the summer Scott had called to tell me that Mattie's partner Alex had died. Somehow my mind had twisted things around so I'd thought it was Mattie who had died. Seeing her was like seeing someone come back to life.
People. How I love people.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2002
I'm warning everyone I know: I'm going to be a bit out of it for a while now. That's what happens when you get a new computer. It is three parts thrilling and one part frustrating, but for a computer person like me there's nothing quite like it. I just realized I bought it on the third anniversary of putting up my web site. How's that for an anniversary present!
So now I am one of "those Apple people." I'm sure in no time at all I'm going to be sickening in my fanaticism. It always happens with Mac folks. I can already see why. I mean this iBook is so beautiful! It already makes my old Compaq--today nicknamed "The Dinosaur"--look clunky. A 14" matrix monitor, 1" thin, weighing 5.9 lbs., silver white, with DVD and a CD burner, using the brand new Operating System X. Here are the two laptops side by side on my desk. Which one do you think looks better?
That is not to say I haven't already had my share of frustrations--one application froze up and a software CD failed to open--but that comes with the territory. It takes time to get to know a new computer, especially when converting from PC to Mac. But with my personal tech support system--my neighbor Laura and my nephew John in Washington, DC--plus the Apple phone techies, I'll do fine. I already called John three times tonight!
The purchase went smoothly. Dan "the Apple Buddha" was knowledgable and easy to work with. Laura my Apple coach/support sister drove me to Emeryville (just across the Bay Bridge) and made sure we got what we needed. She then helped me set things up and plans to give me a coaching session tomorrow.
This is so much fun!!!
FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 2002
I discovered the following journal entry while finishing last month's archiving this morning:
MONDAY, JULY 24, 2000
"Does your mother
know you're out in the deep water?"
"You seem able to do more of the exercises today!"
I tried something different at water aerobics today...doing the exercises in deeper water. What a discovery! It's easier out there. My body floats so my legs are more free to move. And because I was out with the rest of the class, I was included in some interesting conversations. Only took me 7 weeks to figure this out! But there was something else going on. I was afraid.
Since re-entering a swimming pool with this MS-disabled body, my old comfort in water had totally evaporated. My legs no longer strong enough to flutter kick. No scissor or frog kick either. My arms unable to lift out of the water to swim either on my tummy or my back. I even seemed to have lost the knack of staying upright. When my feet lost touch with the pool bottom, I felt in danger of going under and not being able to get myself standing again.
During my first water aerobics class in June, I held onto a kickboard the whole time because I didn't feel confident I could keep my head above water. Until today, I had stayed close to the side of the pool so I could grab hold whenever I felt uncomfortable. But bit by bit I have grown accustomed to the sensation of loss of gravity in the water. I've learned how to regain my footing when it's lost. And how to tuck from my middle to keep from going into an unwanted float. All this for a former lifeguard and swim instructor who grew up swimming like a tadpole in the Chesapeake Bay since the age of 5!
Are there life learnings here? Things are tougher in shallow water than in deep. Let go and let the water do the work. When you stay on the edge of things, you're going to go it alone. Fear builds barriers to progress.
Now I can even do a semi-lap on my back by wiggling my feet and pulling with my arms by my side. No, it's not the Australian crawl or butterfly I used to do, but it does propel me through the water. That just might be enough!
If I ever get discouraged about my body and its capacities or lack thereof, please remind me of this July 24, 2000 journal entry. Yesterday I swam my usual 24 laps of the crawl at the YMCA. The lifeguard Carol and I agreed that I am definitely getting faster. Actually my sore thigh muscles after Tuesday's swim made that pretty clear.
Anything is possible.
I needed to remember that "anything is possible" as the day wore on. I'd awakened at 7 AM (with no alarm clock), got out of bed, dressed and immediately sat down at the computer(s). My regular readers know how unlikely it is for me to get going at such an early hour, but I was too excited to sleep. Except for perhaps half an hour, I sat there until 4 PM. For four of those hours I was joined by my Mac coach and dear neighbor, Laura.
Again, those who have bought new computers--especially PC people who have bought a Mac--will understand when I say it was one of the most stressful days I can remember. Nothing big, just a bunch of niggling challenges. But the magic Laura wrought in that time was amazing. For me, the priority was setting up the iBook so I can manage my web site. We're very close to being there. What a gift to have a friend like Laura who is not only a web designer and graphic artist by profession, but a generous-spirited person by nature. It would not be happening without her help.
Late in the afternoon
I scooted up to Mailboxes to send Eddie's birthday presents (March
9). When I arrived home and tried to change shoes for the ballet,
I was so exhausted that I couldn't even tie them . Fortunately
I listened to my body and cancelled out of my date. I am so glad
I did; I'm beginning to feel human again. It's now 10:30 PM and
I'm on my way to bed.
SATURDAY, MARCH 2, 2002
I was in bed by 11 PM last night, fell asleep immediately and didn't wake up until 10 AM this morning. Nothing like a good long sleep to restore one's energy.
At 1 PM Chandra arrived for our lunch meeting. We're responsible for the music part of Friday's Global Women's Strike march and speakouts. We worked together on this project last year so knew what we had to do. She sang a terrific song she had composed about women and the need for support rather than war. We're going to have her sing it at two of the stops: the Welfare Office and the Federal Building. I sang her a song that I'd composed and we'll probably close the march with it at the Federal Building. My song follows:
(Tune: Moon River)
We women will not be
Weâll stand and march and shout til heard
Our lives as mothers, caregivers and lovers
Deserve to be valued more highly than bombs
World leaders say that
war brings peace
But women know that war must cease
We all must be safe, strong and free
In human dignity
For life to survive.
I had about an hour after Chandra left before Marci's baby shower. Baggs visited with me while I sat outside and soaked up the sun. This weather is not only making humans and dogs happy, but the plants and flowers seem to be smiling too.
Laura and I walked/scooted the mile over to Lovejoys Tea Shoppe for the shower. Once there, we met a group of Marci's friends standing outside. Soon Marci arrived and gave me a "photo op" by bumping bellies with a friend who is also expecting a baby.
What a lovely place to host a baby shower! We were treated to a high tea with finger sandwiches, scones and cake for dessert. Laura and I sat with Kate, a friend of Marci's from her Hampshire College days in New England. It was most interesting to hear of her life. I mean, anyone who chooses to go off to China by herself at 16 and live there for two years is an interesting sort of person. Kate is now a high tech computer person who manages a team of men at an established company in Silicon Valley. And of course baby showers mean gifts and lots of oohing and ahing over dear little items like these shoes, outfit and fabric play folder.
I was home by 7 PM and
have had a nice quiet evening at the computer (still my old computer).
SUNDAY, MARCH 3, 2002
Ah, music. Is there anything else that enters us so completely, leaving not a smidgen of our heart or soul untouched? It doesn't always happen like that but when it does I feel like I've been infused with an energy and life that lights up every part of my being. Margie Adam did that for me tonight. Not for me but with me, for her music needs the receiver to be ready and willing to be touched.
Actually Margie has been doing this for me since I first heard her at the National Women's Music Festival in May 1995. And it has happened every time I've seen her since. Even her CDs transform me. I recall when I'd first come up with my impossible dream of living part of the year in Michigan and part of it in San Francisco, I listened to Margie's CD, "Soon and Again", over and over during the long months of preparation. When I'd lose courage and think it could never happen, I'd put on her music and let it carry me back to the place of believing. It carried me out to Emeryville that first winter of 1996 and back home again in the spring.
Until tonight I'd usually seen Margie perform at women's music festivals with audiences numbering in the thousands. The most intimate place I'd ever seen her was at Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley last March when she was one of the pianists brought together by Barbara Higbie for a benefit concert. But even there I was sitting in the middle of a good sized audience. Tonight my friend Dorothy Abbott and I were in the front row of a lovely space that only held 150 persons. The room was filled with women who know and love Margie, so we were all on the same wave length before she even came on stage.
How to describe what happens when this woman sings and plays her own compositions on the piano? Have you ever been around anyone whose very hair vibrates with the totality of their passionate absorption in what they are doing? Someone who carries you with them into the hidden places and secret passions out of which their creativity flows? Margie Adam is such a person, such a woman, such a musician. And the gift she gives is always tied to women's belief in and struggles towards creating the world we know is possible. For activists like my friend Dorothy and myself, Margie's music is like a booster shot of hope.
After the concert I took this photo of Dorothy and her friend Dixie. Then Dorothy took this picture of me with Margie. When I begin to give up hope, I can come back to this page and remember a night when I knew anything was possible.
If a day were to have a theme, today's would be "community". Starting with the beauty and grace of a large class of women, men and young girls dancing the hula together this morning in Dolores Park. And then my joining thousands of members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender community of San Francisco at the grand opening of the GLBT Community Center. While there, my not only running into Jeff and his friends Monica and Regina, but also members of my old chorus, the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of SF, who performed at the opening. And then the deep sense of community we all felt at Margie Adam's concert in Half Moon Bay tonight.
Life is so rich, I am
filled with gratitude.
MONDAY, MARCH 4, 2002
This is a BIG day! My first using my new iBook to create this journal. I can't say enough about Laura's patience and generosity in spending hours and hours setting up my iBook, downloading amazing software onto it, and then teaching me how to use it. Tonight took tons more time than usual to prepare my photos but I'm sure when I get used to the changes in procedure, I'll whiz through it. My brain is actually enjoying riding another learning curve--it's been a long time.
The day started with Laura and Baggs coming over to put in some computer time with me. Well, I guess I should say that Laura put in the computer time; Baggs spent his time licking my face and lying beside his beloved auntie. At noon my friend Luis arrived for our lunch date. We walked/scooted down to Saigon Saigon and enjoyed one of their great lunch specials--panfried salmon with mango sauce, broccoli, rice, cabbage salad and vegetarian vegetable soup, all for $4.95. Do you wonder why this restaurant always makes the San Francisco Chronicle's Best of the Cheap Eats list? It was good to introduce Luis to Patrice who is one of the reasons Saigon Saigon is such a friendly place. Patrice took this picture of Luis and me.
After lunch we went across the street where I showed Luis the Radio Havana Social Club where we'd seen the parking lot performance of the Beijing Opera that rainy night. We then went to the Scarlet Sage Herbal Shoppe a few doors down Valencia. It's one of my favorite SF stores and Luis, who had never been there, agreed with me. After buying a few items, we went to the bus stop at 24th and Guerrero where we continued talking as Luis waited for his bus. I so much enjoy our friendship--he's a wonderful person.
When I returned to my cottage I realized how long it had been since I'd taken time to sit out in the garden. I saw the palm tree had unfurled two new fronds, while the magnolia blossoms are quickly being replaced by lemon-green leaves. The coral pink tulips are in their prime and the calla lilies and impatiens continue to put on quite a show, not to mention the potted lemon tree. The white plum blossoms shimmer in front of our neighbor's towering junipers where birds love to nest. I know because I used to live there.
Soon after 5 PM it was time for me to get back on Ona and scoot down Valencia to the Global Women's Strike committee meeting, our last before the big march/speak out on International Women's Day, March 8. On the way I saw evidence that our doggie friend Morris (remember Morris's valentine?) had definitely been there.
Lori met me at the back entrance where we usually take the freight elevator up to the Crossroads Women's Center on the third floor. Today the owner had forgotten to turn it on so we had to walk/scoot around front and try the tiny passenger elevator. We were delighted to find that Ona was small enough to get in and out without any problem. La Lucha had not been so fortunate last year. The two inches in length between the two models makes a big difference. Upstairs, Jeanette's artistry lay all over the room. Here she is with one of the cardboard poster dolls she created, and this is another. Sharon brought in some foam rubber to help mold Ramona the puppet's face into a less flattened appearance. The folks at Revolutionary Art loaned her to us for the march. Sharon's efforts paid off and soon Ramona proudly stood between Jeanette, Lori and Sharon, looking perfectly rounded. That is, Ramona looked rounded, not Jeanette, Lori and Sharon!
Our meeting went well--things are in good shape for Friday. We finished about 8 PM. After an adventure trying to find someone still in the building who had a key to the elevator, I was on my way home. I stopped for a slice of pizza-to-go, and arrived home around 9 PM. Soon after, Laura came over to give me a much-needed tutorial on using my new Adobe Photoshop software.
It is now 2 AM and I sure
hope I'm going to be able to put this up without any problem because
I am truly ready for bed.
TUESDAY, MARCH 5, 2002
I wasn't real pleased with the quality of yesterday's photos. I can tell it's going to take me some time to find out how best to use my new software, so please bear with me. I've tried a few different settings today so we'll see how it works.
Believe it or not we actually had a cool grey day today; they're calling for rain tonight and tomorrow. But it didn't bother me. When doing laps at an indoor pool, the weather is a non-issue.
I had an interesting encounter at the Civic Center BART on my way over to the YMCA. A young man in a manual wheelchair pulled into the elevator behind me. As we rode up to the concourse level, he said, "Isn't it a pain how you have to go through all this just to ride BART?" I simply said, "You know, I'm so grateful to be able to get around the city with my scooter that I don't really mind." We got off and went our way. Of course, as so often happens, we ran into each other at the elevator going up to the street. We really began to talk then.
Turns out his name is Mike and he was on a pass from San Francisco General Hospital. He'd just started using a wheelchair a couple of days ago. We kept on talking after we'd gotten off the elevator in the UN Plaza area. Mike expects to find out today or tomorrow if they're going to do surgery on him. He said he'd already stayed out longer than he was supposed to, but he really needed some time away from the hospital. He'd been there a week already. I gave him a card with my web address and invited him to visit me there. He seemed pleased when I asked to take his picture for my journal. "Hey, my Mom can see me." His mother lives in New Jersey. I hope she finds her way over here. If she does, I can tell her that Mike seems well. I hope all goes well for him.
I love when I make these unexpected connections with people.
Swimming was wonderful; I even did two extra laps. I'm now up to 26. And I was fortunate to have Gail as lifeguard and to be able to spend a little time with Martha, a new friend whom I see every time I swim. This funky old Central YMCA has the most incredible staff.
On my way back to BART I had another unexpected encounter. (Was the theme of today "unexpected encounters?"). This time it was a friend from Simply Supper--Dixon. He called to me from across the UN Plaza, so I scooted over to shoot the breeze for awhile. What an interesting man! Self-educated, positive in outlook, a true observer of the life around him, whether pigeons or people. I've renamed him the Street Philosopher.
Then, scooting up 24th Street from the Mission Street BART station, who should I see but my old friend Samson. He got pretty excited and hopped right on my hand, but I guess his excitement got the best of him because he bit me on the arm. Luckily I had on my jacket so no real damage was done, but his owner really scolded him. And you could tell Samson knew he'd been bad. If a bird could slink away with its tail between its legs, he would have done it.
Tonight brought together an unexpected--see, everything today was expected!--gathering of my monthly women's group. I had a date to go to Green's restaurant with two of the women who live in Sebastapol, but yesterday one of them, Helen, thought to see if our other members could join us. Amazingly all seven of us could do it!
What a glorious time we had, full of good food, warm conversation and loving concern for one another. What a grace to be part of such a community.
And now Laura my dear
neighbor/computer coachjust stopped by to see how I'm doing. I
feel so grateful for this day and the people who made it special.
May they receive back all that they have given to me.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, 2002
I'll remember this day. Not only the day, but what I drank for lunch. It was a bottle of Calistoga sparkling mineral water. And I'll be keeping the plastic bottle cap as it is the most expensive cap I ever expect to see. You probably wonder what I'm talking about. Well, as I opened the bottle cap with my teeth--as is my habit--I tasted sandy grit in my mouth. When my tongue discovered sharp edges at the bottom of my two front teeth, I realized it had not been sand but porcelain from my teeth. The bottom corners of my front teeth--where they meet--had crumbled. It was just as our dentist friend had warned me would happen when he once saw me open a plastic bottle cap with my teeth. I'd gotten in the habit of using my teeth as a third hand after my hands lost strength and agility as a result of the MS. I knew the chance I was taking but it seemed worth it. Now I wonder.
So I called a number of San Francisco friends to get the name of a dentist who could handle this kind of tooth reconstruction. I expect to be looking at caps or crowns, but maybe there's some miracle plastic that can be molded onto the existing teeth. We'll see. Whatever happens, I'm going to have to find another way to open bottles from here on out!
The weather forecasts proved correct: rain and chilly temperatures. I had a lunch date with my friend Betty to meet at the Dolores Park Cafe which is a mile from my house. I found myself reluctant to get on Ona and scoot over there, but Betty said she loved to walk in the rain. She offered to pick up salads and sandwiches and bring them to my cottage where we could visit in cozy warmth. I gratefully accepted her offer.
Soon after lunch it was time for Scott to pick me up to go to Simply Supper. I was bemoaning my tooth loss with Guy, one of the regulars. He pulled out his wallet and gave me the business card of his dentist. I'm glad he forgave me for buying a Mac. He did cross his fingers in an anti-hex sign when I told him I'd gone ahead and bought the iBook. Guy is PC all the way.
I think my Apple guru nephew John has figured out why my journal photos have been coming up blurry since I transferred to the Mac. I've been compressing them too much using the new software and that means you lose image clarity. From now on, you might find my photos take a few seconds longer to download, but I'd rather have that than blurry images. Let me know what you think.
image is one I played with tonight. I took yesterday's photo
of Samson and painted it. Lots of fun! I think that's what I've
been missing with my photos of late--a sense of play. So don't
be surprised to find occasional unexpected effects from now on.
THURSDAY, MARCH 7, 2002
This morning I talked to Salma Al-Rushaid. It was the first time we'd managed to connect by phone in several weeks. So much had happened. The lease for their Ann Arbor apartment was not renewed "because of what has happened." Fortunately a friend has let Salma and her four children move into her modular home that is just five minutes away. The pressure on the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago--at least 30 phone calls to prison officials a day, tons of letters and political pressure by people like Detroit's Congressman John Conyers--has paid off. Rabih is now allowed to call Salma and the children once a week--15 minutes per call at $5 for the first minute--instead of once a month. By the way, Salma's phone bill last month was $600. But, most importantly, he is allowed two two-hour "contact visits" per week instead of the former four hours of visits through bars and heavy plexiglass per month. Salma said she and her daughter couldn't stop shaking when they actually got to touch Rabih last week for the first time since January 6. She says she'll go to Chicago every Sunday and stay until Monday in order to visit her husband.
Last weekend Congressman Conyers made an oversight visit and actually saw the cell where Rabih is being held. He issued a Press Release on March 5 describing Rabih Haddad's prison conditions as "appalling." But Salma told me that yesterday the warden asked Rabih if he wanted to be moved out of solitary confinement. Believe it or not, this man who has never broken a law and has no charges against him now, has been held in solitary confinement since Friday, December 14! That is 12 weeks tomorrow or 84 days or 2016 hours. Think of it.
I asked Salma how Rabih was handling it. She said, "Considering everything, amazingly well." When I asked her how she was doing she said she was much better now that she could have contact visits. "That visit really recharged my batteries." I said something about how much we take for granted. She agreed. "I tell all my friends--don't take anything for granted!"
But, as wonderful as it is that they can be together more often, there is still the unknown facing them. Apparently Rabih went before a jury in Federal Court a few weeks back, but there were no charges brought, so I don't understand what that was about. I do know that Salma and the children have an Immigration Court hearing on April 10. The INS wants to deport her and the children to Kuwait because Salma is a citizen of that country. As I've said before, they want to deport Rabih too, but to Lebanon since that is his citizenship. The fact that they had applied for permanent residency in April 2001 and had spent over 14 years in the United States seems to make no difference. Their tourist visas had expired and that is enough to kick them out of the country, at least in a post-September 11th USA.
I told Salma I would be telling their story at tomorrow's Global Women's Strike march and speak-out here in San Francisco. Her immediate response was, "Don't forget to talk about the others!" She and Rabih are so strong in their determination to bring attention to the 1200 men of Arab descent who have been held in jails and prisons across the country since September 11. The government refuses even to make their names public. I promised I would speak for them all.
The rest of my day went well. I was able to get an appointment for 11:30 AM tomorrow with a dentist who is only four blocks from my cottage. I went to the copy shop and had 100 copies made of the song sheet for tomorrow's march. Then I scooted down to BART and took it to the YMCA. I was again in the medium lane so worked up a good sweat--does one sweat in the water?--even though I only did 20 laps. Thought I'd conserve my energy. At 3:30 PM I met with Jason, the YMCA marketing director, to have my picture taken for the members' brochure. Diversity is the thing these days and they get two for the price of one with me--white-haired elder and gimp!
On my way home from the 24th Mission BART station I stopped at La Boheme coffeehouse for a hot bowl of soup. Today was an exceptionally cold windy day, a perfect day for soup. A fellow I'd met in front of the Radio Havana Social Club the night of the parking lot Beijing Opera performance sat down and joined me. Pedro is a most engaging individual. I very much enjoyed hearing his stories about his family and growing up in Peru. As so often happens with my friends out here, his parents are my age!
It was the perfect night to try out my new iBook's DVD player. This afternoon I'd rented an Iranian movie, "The Circle", at a neighborhood video store. I thought I'd also try out the 6-hour battery that comes with my iBook--at least 90 minutes of it--so I turned on my electric blanket and cozied myself up in the bed with the laptop on my lap. It worked perfectly! Such a treat, especially since I haven't watched any TV or videos since moving into the cottage on February 3. I doubt if I'll use it that often but it's fun to have the option.
Oh, I almost forgot. Here's
photo--this one of my next door neighbor's juniper trees.
FRIDAY, MARCH 8, 2002
If days were to have a signficance quotient, today would rank right up at the top. It was as if everything happened, and almost at once! I'm going to give you a quick overview and then take my exhausted body to bed. Tomorrow I'll tell you all about it in words and pictures so that you can feel you were there.
As many of you know, since I returned to San Francisco in January I've attended weekly meetings of the Global Women's Strike committee. Today--International Women's Day--was the culmination of our work. We had a three-hour march and speak-out at five sites in the city. It was a rousing success! But, as life so often likes to do, this day had a surprise engagement of equal importance...to me, anyway. I spent two hours in a dental chair having my two front teeth reconstructed. The timing was close. I got out of the dentist's office 30 minutes before the march started. Fortunately they were within a couple miles of each other. Thanks to Ona my scooter, I made it on time.
So now I'm going to bed
a tired but satisfied activist and a woman with a shining movie-star
smile. What a day!
SATURDAY, MARCH 9, 2002
Today is Eddie's birthday. It's hard to be away from him on his special day, but we did the next best thing--he opened his gifts while we were on the phone together. I so enjoyed hearing his intake of breath and exclamations over the pearl-buttoned cowboy shirt. I knew he'd like it. He seemed to appreciate every gift, but the one that made him laugh out loud was the baseball hat with "Rough Trade" printed on it that I got in the Castro. He said there were so many gifts it reminded him of his birthdays as a child. That was nice to hear. I do love that guy.
Dr. Javier Torres DDS--who didn't know me from Adam (or Eve)--had taken me as an emergency case during yesterday's lunch hour. I found him to be a compassionate professional who definitely knew what he was doing. I was impressed with the quality of his work, friendliness of his staff, reasonable cost, and most importantly, how my teeth looked and felt afterwards. He covered both of my front teeth in a composite material made of plastic and glass, matched them in color to the teeth around them, and recreated the bottom part of both teeth that had broken off. This must be what they do to movie star's teeth because my teeth have never looked better. Instead of yellow--remember the little girl's comment at the Dearborn school last January?--and jagged-edged, I now have cream-colored, perfectly-shaped front teeth. Ed says I sound glad it happened and in a way that's so!
Next on my agenda was the 3rd Annual Global Women's Strike. I'd helped these wonderful women--shown here at our after-march dinner last night--in 2001 and jumped right in again when I returned to the city this January. The Global Women's Strike is coordinated by the London-based International Wages for Housework Campaign which has chapters in at least 70 countries worldwide. Each city plans its own event to be celebrated on March 8, International Women's Day, with the input and support of women across the globe. In response to recent world events, this year's theme was "Invest in Caring, Not Killing; Welfare, Not Warfare!" Here in San Francisco, we put together a 3-hour march and speakout with stops at five sites--the Welfare Office, Bank of America, City Hall, McDonald's, and the Federal Building. We asked women to bring pots and pans to bang in solidarity with the Cacerolazos protests made famous by the women of Argentina. We had Ramona the giant puppet, Jeanette's painted women posters, signs, banners, drummers, chanting, singing and speakouts by different people at each stop. There were significant convergences of groups--the immigration farmworkers who are on a nationwide tour from Florida joined us at the Welfare Plaza, and 100 women, girls and men from three local chapters of Women in Black stood with us at the Federal Building. The whole event surpassed our wildest dreams.
I can show you pictures but what I'd really like to do is let you hear the drums and chanting--our favorite was "1, 2, 3, 4, invest in caring not war!"--and the amazing things said by women and men at each speakout. At the Welfare Office we heard from Kiilu, a longtime activist who raised her son while she was still able-bodied and her daughter after becoming disabled. A woman from the immigrant farmworkers group spoke, as did a woman with personal experience of the struggle of raising kids on welfare. At each stop a member of the coordinating committee offered background on the abuses perpetrated by the targeted organization, corporation or governmental body, and how we would like to see things changed. At the Bank of America we spoke of the effects of corporate globalization, the third world debt, the Enron scandal, and tax breaks given by the city of San Francisco to the richest corporations. At City Hall, the president of the SF Board of Supervisors Tom Ammiano, came out and discussed the work he and Rachel, one of our committee members, are doing to prevent more violence against prostitutes and to see that justice is done to those who abuse and murder them. As Rachel said, "No woman is safe if prostitutes are not safe." At McDonalds--where we focused on food and health issues--Sharon and Jeanette gave powerful statistics about the unfair employment practices and unsafe food served in fast food establishments. Chandra sangan original song about being a single mom and "flipping those burgers", a representative from ActUp spoke about health abuses that affect persons living withAIDS, and our own Lori, who is a nurse, informed us that physician-prescribed drugs are the third most common killer of people in the U.S.
By the time we'd marched
to the Federal Building we'd gathered a lively gang of participants.
were responsible for a lot of that--those young men were, as the
kids say, awesome! Our numbers were enhanced by the presence of
and youth, women and men of different racial and ethnic origins,
persons of differing
abilities, and women who
came prepared to take a stand and make some noise. We heard
from a number of speakers
at the Federal Building, myself among them. It was there that
I told Salma Al-Rushaid and Rabih Haddad's story and spoke of
the 1200 nameless men of Arab descent who are languishing in U.S.
jails and prisons with no charges having been brought against
them and no chance of bail--America's "disappeared."
We finished with my song, 'We Women", and I scooted right
over to the Food Not Bombs table for a welcome peanut butter
sandwich. My friend Carrie had saved my life with an Odwalla bar
that she'd given me at our McDonald's stop, but I still needed
nourishment. It had been a BIG day!
SUNDAY, MARCH 10, 2002
It's now 1 AM and I haven't been home that long, but I am still flying high! I went to an Irish music jam at the Starry Plough in Berkeley and thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Carrie, whom I know from Mia's Florist where I buy my flowers, is an Irish fiddler who plays this jam every Sunday night. I've been saying for some time that I'd come over and check it out. Tonight was the night. I went alone but Carrie introduced me to Cal, the husband of one of the musicians, and he graciously invited me to share his table. We were right beside the musicians so it was as if we were truly part of the jam. What a treat! One of my favorite pictures was of Carrie and a number of other musicians spontaneously giving one another massages. Cal said that was a first.
My friends, George, Julie and Dorothy, drove me over there after we'd shared a delightful Chinese dinner together at Alice's Restaurant in the city. I'd never been to Alice's before even though it's beside Bernal Heights, not far from my neighborhood. Such an elegant, bright, artistic place. And the food was superb. I'm getting very spoiled here, especially today. I'd had a lovely brunch at another excellent restaurant--Chloe's--with my friend Sandra this morning. It's a tough life but someone's got to do it ;~)
Between my two eating engagements I had a profound conversation with Laura, my dear neighbor and Mac coach. We sat out in the sunny garden while she told me about her life growing up. It was a privilege to receive her trust. Then she gave me another coaching session on Adobe ImageReady, the software I now use to prepare my photos for the web. It's amazing what one can do.
And now I must put my
tired but happy body to bed.
MONDAY, MARCH 11, 2002
Six months later, where am I? What have I learned and how have those learnings impacted my life? I could ask "What have we learned, as a country, as a culture, as a people?", but I couldn't answer that. It is too early to know. Maybe it's too early to ask that question of myself, but something in me wants to answer it, even if my answers are sketchy and hard to articulate.
September 11 was a defining moment in my growth...as an activist, as a member of the human family, as a tiny part of this planet. It was an awakening, a painful, heart-tearing, mind-expanding awakening. Time is now divided into two segments: pre-9/11 and post-9/11. And where pre-9/11 retains an air of innocence, I know that I was not an innocent in the traditional sense of the word. I was well aware and actively involved in the struggle for justice, equality, peace and humanity. I'd been out on the streets and trying to inform myself for over a decade about militarism, globalization, racism and oppression. So what changed for me on September 11? I realized in my gut, not my head, that the people of the world were me and I was them; we were one and the same, no separation between us. What happened on the Gaza Strip, in Iraq, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland, El Savador, Bosnia, South Africa could and would happen here. The planet became a seamless whole, no national boundaries, no isolated political issues, no economic or social divisions. I had known all this with my mind for a long time, and had occasionally experienced it in my heart--as when the U.S. started bombing Iraq in January 1991--but now it was different. What had been a fact of life for untold people the world over had come home to the country in which I lived. Terrorism changed from being a foreign concept to a domestic reality.
My response to September 11, to this awakening, was to act. In a matter of days I was out on the street demonstrating against the likelihood of military retaliation and in solidarity with the Arab community that was already under attack by individuals and the government. I received and sent hundreds of emails in an attempt to hear and share current news, historical perspectives and informed views that portrayed in truthful terms what was happening, had happened and might happen. By then what was called "news" was propaganda. I started to rethink my recent refusal of an invitation to do volunteer art therapy in a predominantly Arab public school in Dearborn. By the end of September I'd met with the principal, art teacher and my friend who had hatched the idea and we had arranged for me to begin sitting in on art classes once a week. I immediately went to the library to research Islam and the Arab-American culture. I ordered 15 books and 2 videos.
As I say, action was my initial response to the events of September 11. At that time, my action was fueled by feelings of rage toward the government of the country in which I lived, rage over what I perceived as actions and attitudes that had made September 11 or something like it, inevitable. It was weeks before I discovered the deep wells of grief that lay hidden beneath the rage.
As time passed my action solidified into an ongoing commitment to non-military, internationally-based responses to September 11. I also became deeply troubled over how Arab citizens and non-citizens were being treated by the government and the general public. The two wars on terrorism--domestic and international--disturbed me greatly. Even as the President and Pentagon coordinated bombing attacks of the already suffering people of Afghanistan, the U.S. Attorney General quickly took away civil liberties we'd thought were guaranteed by the Constitution. Except for Representative Barbara Lee, the Congress rolled over and played dead.
In mid-December I became aware of and active in the upswelling of community outrage over the unjust detention of an Ann Arbor Muslim leader named Rabih Haddad. Through Rabih--whom I have never met--I became friends with two Arab Muslim women, his wife Salma Al-Rushaid and her friend Huda. This is a grace and gift that I doubt would have happened without the events of September 11.
So where am I now? Certainly in a more stable place than six months ago. The inital rage and secondary grief have been replaced by a deep-seated determination to do all that I can to be a truth-sayer and worker for peace and justice. No longer do I see activism as something separate from my daily life; I am always an activist, whether in educating myself, conversing with others, writing in my journal or playing with friends. That flame is always lit. And I now see that the struggle will never end. I am not looking for success or accomplishment--sweet as that would be--I am looking to be faithful to the struggle in every thought, word and action that make up my life. It is activism and creativity, activism and play, activism and beauty, activism and truth, activism and spirit.
In a word, the answer
to my initial question is integration. I feel more integrated
and of-one-piece than I did six months ago and in the years before
that. May it continue to be so.
TUESDAY, MARCH 12, 2002
I love improvisational days! Today I expected to have a normal San Francisco Tuesday--to go swimming and have tea with Marci. Then a friend from out of town showed up and the day took on a life of its own.
Jeanne and I first met when we shared a table at the Starbucks on 24th Street in Noe Valley. After she moved from the city five years ago, we stayed in touch through occasional phone calls and Christmas cards. Today was the first time we'd seen one another since 1997, but our connection remained strong. As Jeanne said, "I think we just knew one another, don't you?"
Instead of swimming and tea, I had the delight of joining Jeanne at the Palace of the Legion of Honor. This jewel of an art museum sits on top of a hill with views of the bay to the east, the ocean to the west, the Marin Headlands to the north and San Francisco's pastel houses stacked up to the south. Curling up to and around it is the Lincoln Park golf course. As one of the most beautiful public courses imaginable, it is dearly loved by golfers.
Jeanne let me and Ona my scooter off in front of the museum and went to find a parking place. The place was teeming with people because it was a "free Tuesday" and the opening day of a popular annual exhibit combining art and flowers. Jeanne and I arranged to meet after each of us had seen what we wanted to see on our own. I quickly discovered what that was for me...and it had nothing to do with art in a museum.
I took off down the paved path over by the golf course and lost myself in the lush green grass, stands of tall trees and glimpses of the ocean and the bay. Everywhere I looked my eyes feasted on glorious sights: a twisted tree that the winds had sculpted, and another tree that leaned into the arms of its companions. I got off the path and put Ona through her paces running her over the grass up to a cliffside overlook. I sat there for what seemed like a lifetime. After so much city life, it was extraordinarily sweet to hear nothing but the wind and the calls of birds, to smell the salty fragrance of the ocean and the tang of eucalyptus, and to see the bay with the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. Why would I go inside to see human-made art when I could see this?
But eventually I did leave that idyllic spot and scooted over to the museum. It reminded me of the hard transition I'd experienced on a solitary trip to the Four Corners in 1994 when I'd driven into the bustling town of Sedona after having spent three days and nights in the silence of the mesas. I love women as a rule, but there's something off-putting about hordes of chattering female creatures crowded together in an already over-crowded museum. A few of the art and flower arrangements were interesting--like this one that played off a Richard Diebenkorn print, and a quirky green bouquet that echoed the shape of a piece of sculpture--but my favorite exhibit was the Dada and Surrealism show that had no flowers in it at all. It was a kick to see the famous Mutt urinal and an assortment of tongue-in-cheek photos, films, collages, paintings and found objects of that outrageous period of art.
After awhile I got hungry and it was in the cafeteria that Jeanne and I hooked up again. After a little nourishment, we were both ready to leave. Before going home we stopped at what I think is the best Chinese restaurant in the city--Ton Kiang on Geary between 22nd and 23rd Avenues--and enjoyed a scrumptious meal. Don't we look satisfied?
As I'm writing this, Jeanne is stretched out on my couch all warm and cozy in her sleeping bag. This is the first time I've ever invited anyone to spend the night here, but today it felt right.
Aren't I the luckiest
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13, 2002
We awoke to a sparkling sunny day. Jeanne arose before I--who wouldn't ?--and walked up 24th Street to see her old haunts. She came back saying, "How I love it here!" Before she got on the road heading north to her home in Portland, Oregon, I talked her into accompanying me to the Scarlet Sage Herbal Shoppe on Valencia. She liked it as much as I thought she would. On the way back, we stopped at the corner deli and got sandwiches to go. She took hers in the car and I took mine into the garden.
Everywhere I looked was beauty. To my left were coral-colored tulips shimmering in the sun and Baggs chomping on his favorite plant. To my right was a profusion of flowers, most striking of which were the calla lilies and newly-blooming orange tulips beside the stony path. Baggs did his best to interest me in throwing his ball, with no success I'm afraid. But I sure didn't mind loving him up. Laura came out to join us and she and I had another of our wonderful free-floating heart-to-heart talks. I so admire that woman. Before I could believe it, it was time to go to Simply Supper.
Scott and I met Diane and Rebecca, her faithful companion, outside the church. She told us that she'd been kicked out of where she'd been living but a caseworker had arranged for her to stay in a shelter that would accommodate her dog. She said, "I wouldn't go anyplace without her."
There's a tough set of stairs for me to get up to the room that houses Simply Supper, but two weeks ago my friend Scott and one of the guests who is also named Scott started carrying me up the stairs in a chair. I feel like the Queen of Sheba!
We were busy today with
120 guests. It was just a steady
stream of folks from 3:30-5 PM. After we closed, Scott and
Bill, one of our regular guests, worked on a solo that Scott's
preparing to sing on Easter at his mother's church. Bill is a
professional musician who sings, plays the piano and does some
vocal teaching on the side. Apparently he had performed a program
of Brahms songs at St. Mary's Church in the city last weekend.
Bill often gets to Simply Supper early so he can go in the sanctuary
and play the piano; that was how Scott learned of his musical
abilities. I sat in on a portion of their
session and learned a lot by listening to vocal tips Bill
was giving Scott. So much for stereotypes of who eats at a free
dinner...in San Francisco anyway.
THURSDAY, MARCH 14, 2002
It looks like my mother is slipping away. That's the way it feels, like she's on a long gradual slide that is inevitably going to dump her in the deep end of the pool. But oh so gently. Thank goodness. These last few days she's been less and less engaged, just staring at my sister blankly when she visits. Today she was hooked up to oxygen and only managed a few tiny smiles. Her weight--which was not great at best--has dropped into the 60s. Carolyn said she looked like a tiny bird all curled up in a ball. But she seems to be in no distress. Again, thank goodness. We spoke briefly on the phone two days ago and I was able to tell her I loved her and she told me she loved me. That meant a lot.
Of course I keep asking myself if I want/need to be there with her. So far, I've not heard a clear "Yes", but when/if I do, I'll be on the next plane heading east. Whether here or there I feel so connected to her and I know she feels the same. I did send a bouquet of daffodils, tulips and hyacinths today. Mother loves spring flowers. Carolyn said the vase was on her bed tray and one of her tiny smiles came when Carolyn read the card addressed to "Moth". That is our family nickname for her.
Everything I do these days has Mom at its heart. Whether standing vigil at the Federal Building with the Quakers, swimming laps or exploring downtown on my scooter--as I did this afternoon--she was with me. Even the movie I saw--"Monsoon Wedding"--reminded me of her during the time of Eddie's and my wedding. By the way, I so heartily recommend this movie about a family in India; it has everything from lots of giggles to tenderness and powerful truths. An excellent film.
In my explorations through downtown I happened upon a jewel of a park with a wonderful Marisol sculpture of Georgia O'Keeffe and two of her beloved dogs. I even met a little towheaded toddler who fell in love with Ona's pink horn. That thing is a real kid magnet.
It isn't even 10:30 PM,
yet I feel ready for bed. My conscious attention to mother plus
a lot of exercise is taking its toll. Fortunately, tomorrow is
a pretty unscheduled day. And, who knows? Maybe I'll wake up and
say it's time to go east. I'm open to any possibility.
FRIDAY, MARCH 15, 2002
Open mics are so risky. I'm not thinking of the audience, although it can be risky for them too, but for the artists. How gutsy to stand up in front of a room full of strangers and share your heart in words, music, movement or all three combined.
Tonight Stacey, Laura, Marcia and I went to the Friday night Open Mic at the International Cafe to see my friend Tom Keller, the performance artist. As I had expected, his work was politically relevant, creatively layered, intellectually stimulating and professionally executed. I would very much like to see him do a one-person show.
Featured tonight was a young poet, Elizabeth Chin. I was blown away by the power of her words and passionate delivery. I hope to connect her with Nellie Wong, a well-known poet who is a friend of mine; they need to know one another. I sense I will be saying of Elizabeth Chin that I knew her back when. She was that good.
And who should I see there tonight but another cousin! Kevin and Lily, his girlfriend, met us at the cafe on their way to a later event with Stacey and Laura. After all these years of having no blood relatives in the Bay Area, I now have one sister, a brother-in-law and two cousins. I love it!
Speaking of family, today I had tea and cookies with a dear member of my adopted San Francisco family, Marci. She and Evan are the ones who dreamed this magic cottage into being and have rented it to me the past three winters. They are expecting their first child in early May and this afternoon the little one danced while I held my hand to Marci's belly. I'm guessing he--they have been told it's probably a boy--will grow up to be a belly dancer like his mother. After all, this is San Francisco!
I must say how grateful
I am to have received messages of loving support from journal-readers
regarding what I shared yesterday about my Mom. It helps to feel
your presence. The day also gave me another gift. Mother and I
shared a brief phone call. Oh, how precious it is to hear her
say, "I love you too."
SATURDAY, MARCH 16, 2002
Today I spent the day with two of my dearest friends, Vicki and Sherry. It was Vicki who asked me that life-changing question back in February 1995: "And you, Patricia. What is your dream?" My spontaneous, previously-unconsidered answer--to spend part of the year in San Francisco and the remainder in Michigan--prompted what has become my annual winter migration.
On my way over to Oakland I realized I'd never shown you what I see when I take BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). On this sunny Saturday, two political banners drew my eye outside the 24th/Mission Street BART station. I was happy to see that one had an anti-war message. Once down on the platform, I waited a short 15 minutes for the Richmond train going to the East Bay. We traveled underground--and under the bay--until we reached West Oakland when we came up for air. From there until I got off at the MacArthur Station platform, the train alternated riding on the surface and riding underground.
Vicki, Sherry and Sparky met me at the station. They put Ona in the van and drove me to Vicki's house for a visit. Before going in, we walked around the side of the house. I had to take a picture of this towering cactus; I'd never seen it before. Once in the backyard I admired Vicki's landscaping project, especially the new stone fountain that is under construction. We then went inside and got comfortable in Vicki's living room.
As we've been doing for years, we each--except for Sparky, that is!--took time to share what has been going on in our lives. We call it a check-in. For most of the time Sparky slept in the middle of the living room rug. We figured he was tired out from his grooming appointment this morning. But as soon as Sherry stretched out on the floor, there he was, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. What an adorable creature! Do you remember how tiny he was the day they brought him home a year ago? He's actually gone from a mere 5 pounds to a hefty 9 pounds since then.
After a grand visit we drove to a vegetarian restaurant in the heart of downtown Oakland. I can't even tell you what all we had; what I can say is that it was absolutely delicious. My friends kindly allowed me to take home our leftovers. That means at least one yummy dinner still to come.
When I got to my street, I stopped at the corner deli so John could help me disconnect windchime walker from my backpack. He had been part of the team that had attached it to the back of my scooter earlier today. The happy surprise was that John's new wife, Lena, was there so I got to meet her for the first time. It was also a treat to see his mother--who is my age, by the way. They are like members of my own family.
It was a totally delightful
SUNDAY, MARCH 17, 2002
Although it was St. Patrick's Day, I can't say I did anything particularly Irish today. Actually I stewed a bit in the bed before getting up at 7 AM. So many things to think about regarding the uncertainties of these days. I find myself dealing with anxieties about flying with my scooter back to Washington, DC after Mom dies. Anxieties about how to carry all I'll need in a backpack and also deal with my walker and laptop. Anxieties about probably having to fly into Dulles Airport and then deal with their shuttle buses from the plane to the terminal. Where will I pick up my scooter? And where should we stay? I'd prefer to stay in Falls Church, Virginia where I grew up and where Mom's visitation and funeral will be held, but I don't know which motels to contact. I need to do some online research. In the midst of all this stewing, I found myself comforted by the knowledge that Eddie will meet me there. He plans to drive from Detroit, 500 miles each way. I am so grateful to him for offering to do this.
Don't you think our minds prefer this kind of worrying to dealing with what's really going on? Like the fact that my mother is dying and I'll probably never see her again. It's a defense mechanism and a pretty effective one. At least for now.
Well, that was my morning activity. At 12:30 PM I scooted up to the corner deli, had a fried egg sandwich and Odwalla juice, looked at the Sunday paper and waited for Scott and Stacey to pick me up for the ballet. What a lovely program! It was Balanchine's "Jewels" with three dances: Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds. The costumes and backdrops were visually stunning and the music--Faure, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky--were delectable. During the first piece, 'Emeralds", I found myself thinking about how Mom and Dad used to take us to see the National Ballet in Washington, DC when we were young. Not only the ballet, but the National Symphony and plays at the National Theatre. What a gift to give three little girls.
As beautiful as "Emeralds" was to look at, Scott, Stacey and I agreed that "Rubies" was by far our favorite. Where "Emeralds" and "Diamonds" were traditional, "Rubies" was wonderfully quirky and full of life. By the way, we were surprised to find the matinee practically sold out with Standing Room three rows deep. Stacey and Scott took turns using my disabled companion's seat and, as usual, I was happy to sit tall in Ona my scooter. For $12 it's the best bargain in town. Disabled seating is in the back row of the main floor; I think the folks one row ahead of us are paying at least $60 a ticket.
After the ballet we went over to Scott and Phil's for dinner. What a feast...and what fun! Phil outdid himself with the creativity and pleasing combination of tastes in his menu. We started with curried squash soup topped with dollops of yogurt. The main course was an original recipe of shrimp with tomato sauce over polenta, fresh string beans and tossed salad. As always, the feeling around the table was warm and full of smiles and laughter. Of course, the company was not only of the two-legged variety: we had Scott and Phil's friends Kushka the cat and Havah the dog, Linda's whippet Alex, and Jamie and Dmitri's little dog Star. After dinner we moved into the living room where a fire in the fireplace felt very good. Today's wind was the kind that chills your bones.
Scott drove Stacey and
me home about 8:30 PM; in the process he disassembled/assembled
my scooter for the third time today. Believe me, friends
are the "jewels" of my life.
MONDAY, MARCH 18, 2002
This time with Mom is teaching me something about myself. I can handle most anything if given time to take it in at my own pace. I don't like shocks. I guess none of us does. But having these days and maybe weeks to assimilate the prospect of Mom's death is allowing me to mourn her little by little rather than being hit all at once by a ton of bricks. You'd think I could have been doing that all along--after all, she is 89--but somehow I didn't. It was like she was always there for me; all I had to do was pick up the phone and call her. With my Dad, who died 15 years ago, he had in essence left us years before he actually died. The Alzheimer's that claimed him for 9 years before his death meant that all we had left at the end was his presence in body, and even that was sometimes hard to recognize.
I realized how much it means to me to have time to prepare when I read my sister Carolyn's email tonight. She and my nephew Bill had gone to the funeral home today to make as many arrangements as they could ahead of time. When I read that we'll probably have to wait a week or two after Mom dies to get an appointment at Arlington Cemetery--where she'll be buried next to Dad--I literally breathed a sigh of relief. That means I'll have time to prepare for my trip east instead of having to rush off the next day, as I'd feared. Whew! I can deal with that. Sometimes governmental bureaucracy isn't such a bad thing.
This was one of those catch-up-on-sleep days. I didn't really get going until the afternoon. I checked on motels in Falls Church and was given the name of a small, unpretentious one in the middle of town. I called and found their rates extremely affordable, but the appeal is less the price than the location. If I have time during our stay, I'd like to be able to scoot around Falls Church and maybe go over to our old neighborhood. The other motels--all upscale, national names--are out at Tyson's Corners which is just a huge shopping center. Not my cup of tea at all. Eddie liked the sound of this place as much as I. So that's one of my concerns taken care of.
When I looked at myself in the mirror--which I don't do a lot--I realized I'd best get my hair cut. It's been 6 weeks and the shagginess of my hair showed it. As I left my garden I couldn't resist taking a picture of the spiky orange tulips, more of which seem to appear every day. I then scooted up 24th Street, past these wild geraniums and the beautiful view at the corner of 24th and Dolores to the place where I get my hair cut. I must say I'm not terribly pleased with the results. I asked Lily, who had cut my hair very very short in February, to leave it longer and just shape it. Well, she practically scalped me. But it'll grow, as Eddie reminded me in our afternoon phone call.
After getting food for tonight's Global Women's Strike dinner meeting here--spinach pies, hummous, falafel and pita bread--at the corner deli, I sat in the still sunny garden. How could anyone feel stressed when they look at these calla lilies?
I've been having trouble with mail delivery since arriving here in February. Occasionally I'd get a pile of mail and then weeks would go by with nothing. I finally called the local post office last Friday after I discovered that none of my February bills had ever arrived. Today I was surprised to receive Eddie's Valentine! Not only that, but a wonderful packet of drawings and letters from my kids at the Dearborn, Michigan school where I volunteer at home. I think this was my favorite letter:
To Mrs. Patricia
I hope you are going to come back soon. everybody missis you .were all said and I keep thinking your the best nise's person I ever seen.
We miss you.
Our Global Women's Strike meeting went very well. We agreed that this year's march and speakouts were a big success, and discussed ways to make it even better next year. Rachel, Lori, Jeanette, Sharon and Chandra were all here tonight; only Susan couldn't come because of her job. I'm going to miss these women.
I'll close by showing
you another of my painted photographs; I call it "Yellow
Sky". It's too bad I don't enjoy this new software!
TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 2002
What a beautiful day! It's like the Spring that we'd enjoyed in February and had lost in early March, returned. It was so warm folks were coatless and even sweaterless. Everyone was outside, including me. Actually it seemed strange to be going swimming at an indoor pool, but it was Tuesday after all. I did scoot up 24th to do some errands before going to the YMCA, and then scooted all the way home after my swim instead of taking BART. Very sweet to feel warm sun on my face.
At the pool I tried out the disabled lift that they've just reinstalled. I guess there are now three of us scooter/wheelchair swimmers, so it certainly was worth their while to fix the lift. It worked just fine. Although I'd managed to use the handicap-accessible steps, I didn't always feel confident, especially after doing my 24 laps. My legs have a tendency to turn into wet noodles by then. The lift is definitely safer.
I rented another DVD today. I had trouble deciding between "The Wizard of Oz" and "Peter Pan". Heavy choices! I chose Judy Garland and the Munchkins. At dinner I set it up on the kitchen counter and watched the beginning. After I finish this entry, I'll tuck myself in bed and watch the rest. I must say seeing a movie on DVD is like I've never seen it before; the color and clarity is breathtaking.
I experienced one of those
timeless times today. It was late afternoon and I was sitting
in the garden with the sun warming me. The calla
lily beside me was playing host to a snail, a bird was singing
sporadically in my neighbor's yard and I could hear the low hum
of traffic out front. It brought me back to late afternoons in
my childhood when I would go outside and sit by myself on the
front steps. I remember the smell of dinner cooking in the kitchen,
the sound of Mom rattling around in there, the sight of the sun
dropping behind the trees across the street, and the cries of
mothers calling children home for dinner. It was always my favorite
time of day. It still is.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20, 2002
My gift to myself on this Vernal Equinox evening is to allow myself to go to bed without writing a journal entry. It's now 11:30 PM and I'm too pooped to pop. Check back during the day tomorrow and hopefully you'll see today's pictures and stories. Until then, happy first day of Spring!
Now that I'm rested--it is Thursday afternoon--I'll tell you about this lovely day.
First of all, it lived up to any ideas one might have about what the first Spring day should look like. It was so warm and sunny that I actually got sunburned during the hours I spent outside reading in the garden. Such sweet hours. I was reading through the galley proofs of my friend Dorothy Walter's second book, Unmasking the Rose. I hadn't seen this manuscript since I'd done a thorough proofreading four years ago. What a transformation she has wrought; it is much more readable, tightly constructed and accessible to a varied audience. The story chronicles the onset of Dorothy's Kundalini (spiritual) awakening 20 years ago when she was a 53 year-old English and Women's Studies professor at a small Midwestern university. In it, she uses a rich blend of narrative, journal entries, intellectual reflections and poetry. I believe that her authenticity, lack of ego, humor and literary talent will make this a popular book when it is published in a few months. I'm certainly enjoying reading it.
But it wasn't just the book that delighted me in that sunny garden. I was visited by two friends: first Ditch, who always keeps her distance, and then Baggs who is much more people-oriented. In both cases I managed to take pictures that could be titled, "Find Ditch" and "Find Baggs". These animals certainly blend into the landscape when they choose. But soon Baggs decided to follow my lead and simply soak up the warm rays of the sun.
After running a few errands, it was time for Scott to pick me up for Simply Supper. We tried taking another picture of the "queen" being carried up the steps, but it turned out pretty dark and blurry. Happily my picture of Doug with his beautifully multi-colored hair was a keeper.
We were surprised when we left the church at 5:30 PM; it was cold. Of course, what we call cold out here in California wouldn't impress you Midwesterners, Eastcoasters, Canadians or other assorted winter-friendly folks, but it meant my light cotton jacket was woefully inadequate. So when I returned home I put on my trusty purple polar fleece jacket and warm muffler and took off on my scooter. I had a few things to buy in preparation for this weekend's WoMaMu (Women Making Music) camp.
I know you're going to laugh, but I had my heart set on getting a midriff-baring top to wear for Jamie Anderson's bellydance workshops. Remember Jamie from the Michigan Women's Music Festival? My teacher and co-performer at Sunday's Acoustic Stage bellydance performance with the Drumsong Orchestra? Remember my bodypainted sunburnt negative tattoo? I can still see a faint outline of it even now. Anyway, my destination was the Indian store, Bombay Bizarre, down at Valencia and 17th street. I figured I could get just such a blouse there.
On the way down Valencia I passed a woman who said, "Weren't you at the Global Women's Strike?" It was the director of the Women's Building who had spoken powerfully at the Federal Building. She said, "Did you know there's a talk at the Women's Building tonight by two Indigenous Women organizers from Mexico?" I had not known and told her I might come over later. My desire to take advantage of every opportunity while I'm still in San Francisco struggled with the thought of how sweet it would be to have a quiet night at home. The latter won, so I turned toward home after my success at the Bombay Bizarre ($9.99 for a royal blue midriff-baring blouse).
At least I thought I was on my way home. That was until I heard a voice say, "Hi, Patricia! Aren't you going over to the talk at the Women's Building?" So much for my plans. I turned around and joined my friend Dorothy Abbott on her way to the Women's Building. They say if you hear the same thing from two independent sources, to listen carefully because you're hearing the truth.
I'm glad I went. The
stories told by Nellys Paloma, K'inal Antsetik of Chiapas
and Mexico City, and Martha Sanchez, 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance
from Guerrero, were powerful testiment to the willingness of women
the world over to put their lives on the line in order to create
more just societies. The room was full of women and men, many
of whom were bilingual. I know because they didn't have to use
earphones to receive translations like Dorothy and I did.
I'm also glad I went because it gave me an opportunity to spend some time with Dorothy before she moves to Memphis, Tennessee in a week. I've enjoyed knowing her, even briefly. It's always a gift to connect with a sister activist/writer.
Maybe now you understand
why I let myself go to bed last night instead of staying up to
write my journal. It had been a lovely--and very full--day.
THURSDAY, MARCH 21, 2002
After taking my dirty sheets to the laundry this morning, I scooted over to Dolores Park, went up to the highest rise and placed my feet (in my Birkies) on the earth. I am so aware that living with the prospect of my mother's death takes a lot of energy. It isn't that I consciously think of her all the time, just that she's always with me. I feel I am doing a long distance death watch. So whenever possible I try to restore and nourish myself in simple ways...like going to the park and just sitting there. Actually I didn't just sit there, I took photos looking 360° around me. Here they are: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9.
And it wasn't simply the earth that nourished me today, it was a bowl of mushroom cilantro soup at Dolores Park Cafe, and looking at murals like those at the Mission Pool building and at the Women's Building. Here are a few of the incredible images that cover the lower half of one side of the Women's Building: #1, #2, #3, #4.
And it wasn't only beautiful places that gave me life, it was the people and animals I met along the way. Scott at the park with his dogs Bonnie and Cisco, the soap bubble-chasing champion. Ditch sitting serenely in the garden before I left for the park. Her owner Marci who had just finished watering the strawberry and broccoli bed when I took this picture. Mr. Wong who always gives me curbside service and had my sheets washed and folded by 5 PM today. Katy who kindly came over to change my sheets for me, and Baggs who showed her how fond he's grown of his friend Patricia. Evan who stopped by for a brief visit around 11 PM. And Katy, her sisters Theresa and Becky, and her nephew Nicholas who just left a few minutes ago. Theresa, Nicholas and Becky had just arrived from Chicago so it was 2 AM their time. I must say three year-old Nicholas is a mighty good sport! And I am a disappointed photographer whose wonderful picture of the four of them just fell into my computer's version of a Black Hole. Darn!
But now I anticipate singing
and making music with women I love up on top of a hill overlooking
the Sonoma County wine fields for four days starting tomorrow.
I will not be anywhere near a computer until I return from WoMaMu
early Monday evening, so I send you every good wish for a lovely
©Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.