Saturday, November 13, 2010

Silently Screaming Fear

I WANT to go. It’s my last chance to navigate my planet. My last chance to be carefree, and that silently screaming companion fear—for that’s what it is, fear and lack of discipline—holds me, binds me to self. Do what you need to do so you can do what you want to do. Easier by far to scribble the words. Pen to paper has power yet, movement is more powerful still.

The golden brightness of autumn signals folding in, wrapping up, secure against the cruelties of winter. Psychologically, I draw the swathe tighter and snuggle deep into the smothering safety.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What a Difference a Day Makes

Today is a fiery, passionate red optimism. Yesterday was the cold, angry gray of despair. Why? It's the same room, in the same house that sits in the same yard in the same town. The same sun shines through the same window and I perform the same tasks. Yet, today's vision is eagle-eyed, whereas yesterday's was that of a fearful mouse.

I slept in the same bed with the same two cats curled close, warm and purring. I woke to the same people, child readying for work, grandchildren for school. Today, I enjoy the embrace while yesterday I prayed for distance. The deer-in-the-headlight terror replaced with a romping desire. Blue skies with streaks of red and brown drifting through instead of a perception of overcast, brooding storm clouds.

What a difference a day makes when we have the strength to wait, to persevere, to know that change is imminent, even when impossibility strangles. Lessons I learn daily, each moment of each day. Even when I've been tko'd, tomorrow is another day.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Day 67 – Nomadic Existence – What Constitutes Crazy?

Kenosha, WI would not be my final destination of choice. Whether on the south side which is constant activity or this north side that is mock suburbia. When and if I decide to ‘settle’ down, it will definitely be in a rural setting that is real, not imagined. And, it will be with a vehicle. Lately, I’ve been feeling like a suburban soccer mom without the mini-van. I’ve NEVER been much of a suburbanite. We (the suburban females and I) don’t quite see eye to eye on much. For that matter, I suppose I don’t I have much in common with the males either. One of the current things we differ on is what constitutes crazy.

We’ve been in this house 60 days. Since school started in early September, I’ve been walking to the end of the block to get my 5-year-old grandson off the school bus. As with any other state, if the taxpayers pick up the bill, jobs take triple time. Consequently, our road has been closed since the first day of school so the child cannot be dropped off in front of his house like all the others. Thankfully, the weather has been good for walking—and standing on corners.

That’s what I do every afternoon—stand on the corner and wait for the bus. “Some” people have waved, some said hello, one struck up a courteous conversation. Other than that, most drive by, walk by, or peek through their curtains with suspicious looks as to why a woman is standing on the corner. Everyday they give these looks. You’d think that by now they’d know why. I think now though they have a different, more sinister reason for peeking.

A couple of weeks ago a woman came out as I was walking back with the kid. She not only said hello to me but to the child as well, and asked him if he wanted to see chickens. Possibly, if his mother didn’t have a friend who lived on a farm, this may have interested him, but he’s seen chickens up close and personal before, so it was no big deal. It was however, a big deal to me. I LIKE the idea of self-sufficiency and locally grown. I was extremely surprised that she had a chicken coop in the middle of a sub-division.

She informed me that they’ve given her a hard time and tried to ticket her, but her father built the house years before and she is one of a few that are not part of the city and are still county. She has three huge lots, one that the house sits on, one that is a beautifully landscaped yard with wrought iron benches under trees and one that is wildflowers and brush. This last one she is constantly working in and which hides her garden and chicken coop from view of the street.

She’s taken to meeting us everyday and walking down the street with us. She asks the kid what he learned in school and we talk about wars, government policies, people and religious beliefs. Our landlord asked my daughter why her mother is ‘hanging’ with the crazy woman. The few people, who did speak to me on passing, now turn their heads and don’t even acknowledge my presence.

There is another empty lot next to hers that she was thinking of buying until they gave her a ticket for planting wildflowers and told her to “not put anymore garbage there.” The lot is ‘legally’ not wide enough to build so it sits empty. I made mention that it would be a terrific place for a community garden rather than waste the land. She said, “No way. That’ll never happen. This is NOT a community.”

So, if my ‘neighbors’ think that crazy constitutes having chickens to supply your personal eggs instead of buying commercial eggs that have salmonella, I don’t agree. If they think that planting wildflowers is “garbage,” I don’t agree. If they think making friends with the new folks on the block is crazy I don’t agree. My idea of crazy is hiding behind your curtains peering or driving by staring at a woman who is waiting for a school bus. My idea of crazy is not embracing differences. My idea of crazy is having preconceived notions and leaving no room for growth. Not a woman who hand-writes letters at dawn and gives one to that new neighbor saying how refreshing it is to meet someone who talks honestly, and that it has made her days better.

Now really, does that sound crazy to you??

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Teaching Abroad

OK, so here was the reasoning for becoming a nomad (read: homeless). I would then be able to pay for the TEFL certification and go teach abroad where I could make enough to save and come back to settle (read: retire), with 'maybe' a part-time teaching job, but mostly, just writing.

Researching again before I hand over the money, I find that ONLY Asia will I actually MAKE money. Seems everywhere else, oh, except UAE, I will only break even.

Now, to regroup, rethink and obviously, PUNT!!

Day 41-Nomad Existence

Back from the travels to central Wisconsin, back from the travels to the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, back from being a guest of wilderness to being a guest of my daughter in southeastern Wisconsin. Back to dreaming of traveling again--soon. Back to commutes into the big city Chicago and wondering why. I sit snuggled beneath my comforter, beneath school and work preparation activities, beneath with Lola and Rocky on either side. We enjoy the beneath. Later, I will sit beneath the rolling clouds and frisky breeze to waggle my fingertips and knead the inspiration more. Rocky and Lola will chase flies and chomp on luscious cattails.

The last steps have sounded overhead and the last door has slammed. Silence above beckons to us dwellers of the beneath, announcing that all is clear for emergence. Yet, none moves, only purrs and taps on the keyboard. All is well.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day 49 - August 18, 2010 - Bear Island Lake

Today is Wednesday, on Monday I had "The One That Got Away" in wind gusts of 25 mph in a small 16 footer. Well, it's the same 16 footer on the same Bear Island Lake with the same driver--my friends mostly silent but occasionally dryly humorous husband. The sun was shining as we trolled back and forth and back and forth. At least the wind wasn't blowing my line under the boat, into the motor and onto his back--sufficiently hooking my first catch of the season. 

I caught a few more of those 'average' fellows that I spared from the hot skillet. And then, this one came along: 
A small, 1 1/4 pound, large-mouth bass. According to my expert guide, this WAS a keeper because it was the largest large-mouth he'd seen in Bear Island Lake. He caught plenty of small-mouth, a few walleye and a couple northern's, but I caught the large-mouth. Imagine THAT!! Has no correlation to my own big mouth AT ALL!!

The day was nice, but of course I'd forgotten the camera so can't show you (right now) a view of the north woods surrounding a rippling lake, but it is divine. 

We'd been out some 3 hrs, went back for lunch and I managed to get in and out and back in the boat all under my own power, which is pretty good considering I'm not a petite woman (anymore). After another hour on the water, sitting on a pad on a wooden bench, my back was screaming at me through the nerves in my neck and head. My escort was considerate enough to take me back without complaint. 

We arrived at the dock and he asked if I needed help to which I replied, "let's see." I proceeded to attempt one foot, then the other foot, then stood on the seat, pointed a foot (any foot) at the dock and fell face first. Without missing a beat or cracking a smile, he said," Circle one, yes or no. You're beginning to hurt my eyes." 

I grabbed hold of the extended hand and CLIMBED onto the pier.

"I wanted to do it myself. I used to be able to," I said to his back as he threw "OK" over his shoulder and proceeded on.  OK, as in, yeah sure. 

I did used to, honest!

Day 48 - August 17, 2010

Sitting in the middle of a blocked off street with tons of townfolk (wondering where all the young people are) watching and listening to The Boundary Water Boys playing on The Front Porch. We were singing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" (by and by lord, by and by), testifying with raised, waving hands that were washed with Goat Milk Soap, sending scents of cedar and licorice wafting through the crowd.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 44

August 13, 2010, Day 44-Learned many things today, that Ho-Chunks have Mexican stand-offs over parking spaces—as does the rest of the United States. I’m German and I did. My friend is Swedish and she was there. Here we were, in the parking lot of what is called Wally World in Wisconsin Dells—Wal-Mart. The skies had opened and the gods were obviously draining their pool (or at least I hope it was a pool), and we had just spent a minute or two waiting for an elderly man to pull out of a space. He was parked in a space going the wrong way—a totally EASY spot to pull right into if you are going the other way in the other row—you’ve seen those spots. He pulls out, we pull in and we are ¾ of the way into the space and in turns a pickup. We both stopped and stared at each other through the sheet of water running down both windshields, and there we sat. No one rolled down the windows and yelled. No one performed vulgar sign language. We just looked at each other. Of course, I was saying to my friend to continue to pull into the space, which of course, she didn’t do. We just sat as others around us ran between the downpours, raced shopping carts and made happy dry purchases inside. Finally, he backed out and took another spot while we pulled in and waited for the clouds to part just a bit. He walked by, asked us if, “What the fuck, don’t you know how to drive?” and kept walking. We eventually made it to the interior of Wal-Mart where my friend said she saw him, where I said I was looking for him, and neither met ever again. Probably a good thing.

There are other things I learned today about preparation of dead bodies, but I think I’ll save that for a piece of writing. That definitely deserves its own spot.

Beginnings of nomad existence

Beginnings of nomad existence

On July 29, 2010, I made a move for the rest of my life. For the first time in 40 years I am without a home of my own. I have become a nomad to save money to follow my dream. In September I will begin TEFL certification and in January 2011, at 54 years of age, I will leave the United States of America for the first time. I plan to begin in Eastern Europe with a 6-month contract, and then see where it leads. So far it has been an interesting, exciting and challenging experience with cheers and support from great friends and family. While I go forward, I had hoped to keep a daily update here, to find the time and space to write, but I’ve been so caught up in the actually living that I’ve been lax in my writing duties. So I’ll begin at the beginning and hopefully I’ll get you to where I am today, sitting on a screened deck amidst the tops of tall pines and birch listening only to the rustle.

June 29, 2010-a momentous day for a sternly independent woman who has been self-sufficient since the age of 14. She steps into the abyss with faith and belief that she will be supported and sustained as she has supported and sustained others. Not taken care of but cared ‘for’ by her chosen circle, by new acquaintances, by a nurturing universe and most importantly, for the first time, by herself.

August 4, 2010, Day 35 – 7:30am
The rains thundered a rushing river upon my miniature polka dot umbrella
The winds roared and thrashed the sopping sundress around my jittery ankles
Small lakes overflowed at curbs and doorsteps in torrential laughter at my $100 bleeding sandals.
My voluptuous girth extended beyond the colorful polka dots creating a rain barrel derriere, pink underlings peeking through saturated white.

Continued Day 35 - 8am of my personally created nomad/homeless existence that has shown me the unexpected, unanticipated kindness, support and generosity of friends, old and new. The journey has become a worthwhile adventure with directions and destinations aplenty. I can do this or I can do that; I can go here or I can go there. So the rain or snow or tropical heat wave that blankets my parade slows it not. Excitement for life and future bubbles at my lips, twitching and tweaking into happy smiles; taps into my happy feet going forward for no one but me, extending my hand along the way and being welcomed by other extended hands.

August 6, 2010, Day 37 – The morning Metra from Kenosha to Chicago is full of adventure seekers from an uncomplicated small town rural setting to the proverbial big city lights. Children flush with questions of expectation and wonder, parents eagerly creating memories; suits plugged in, tuned out to life; finger licking, tooth-sucking lunch of cold chicken for breakfast, all flying through the landscape, retracing, reinventing ancestral/historical/fantastical travels of the iron horse.

Without a bed or home of my own and the view through these middle-aged eyes is of the wonder of a missed and lost childhood, a second childhood, an innocence regained with knowledge that enhances the experience.

I asked for feedback to go forward, feedback to make me a better facilitator, teacher, person. I asked for feedback to carry me on to the mext pinnacle. I was given a treasure chest with a feather lock.

There is more to come to get us caught up to August 17th, Day 48. Stay tuned, I will get there.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Stupid cost of health care

Everyone should quit smoking, right? Smoking is one of the leading causes for many illnesses, particularly lung cancer (the most frequent cause of cancer death), COPD, Atherosclerosis; and they have linked smoking to osteoporosis, thyroid diseases, peptic ulcers, and the list just goes on. Smoking contributes significantly to the high cost of medical care because, so the story goes, so many smokers are uninsured (the POOR with their bad lifestyle decisions that everyone else is paying for).

The cost to diagnosis and treat lung cancer is astronomical. Lung cancer is fatal in 88% of patients. Per the EPA:

Treatment Period Incremental Cancer Treatment Cost

Initial (3 months) $26,042
Maintenance (per year) $11,325
Terminal (6 months) $30,112
(Based on Baker et al., 1989, with comorbidity charges from Baker et al., 1991.)
1984 to 1996 is 2.14; Bureau of Labor Statistics.) Average Per Patient Costs for the Three Periods of Treatment for Lung Cancer in 1996 dollars. Costs adjusted for inflation using the Medical Care component of the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) 1996:1984 = 2.14 (Bureau of Labor)

I'm getting to a point here, bear with me.

Since most lung cancer patients die within the first year, we'll use this total figure as one years cost--$67,479--give or take a few dollars depending upon where in the year they die.

OK, let's look at helping those poor sops make better lifestyle decisions. QUIT SMOKING! That's the ticket out of this medical and financial nightmare for both the individual and the government run insurance (Medicaid & Medicare). The government WILL incur the medical costs if the individual is uninsured. They WILL treat the individual and provide medical care. This is a good thing, for some it's a complaint.

Well, the cost to help them quit smoking, to purchase the prescription drug Chantix (which arguably has it's own issues, but has helped MANY quit--particularly this writer); a month's supply of Chantix is $184.00. Those poor sops can't afford $184 out of pocket. Now, you may ask how they can afford to buy the cigarettes and I contend (from experience) that the $5, $6, even $8 for a pack of cigarettes is MUCH easier to come by in any given moment than a lump sum of $184.00.

Here's the question: Why don't insurance companies pay for Chantix? Why would Medicare STOP paying for a patients prescription of Chantix? Is it too simple for all those educated heads to calculate that $67K is far MORE than $1100 (the cost for the maximum of 6 months use of Chantix)? Even if we, the poor sop here, break it down for them-compare apples to apples, 6 months to 6 months-I still think $34K is MORE than $1100, isn't it??? I know I'm not good with math, but I do have a calculator, and I know I'm not near as educated, but really, isn't $34K more than $1100???

Here's your tax dollars at work. Don't complain about the poor sop who is costing soooo much because of her bad lifestyle choices. Complain because the stupidity of Medicare, Medicaid AND insurance companies, would RATHER pay for the cancer than the cessation.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Illinois Considers Banning Blunts

this is the most outrageous use of time and money that i've seen in quite awhile. we're going to make these cigars drug paraphernalia as are "rolling papers and water bongs."

when was the last time you were unable to buy rolling papers? and for that matter, my corner store sells water bongs under the name of 'hookahs.'

the only thing this does is make more laws to have young poor people jailed under. what police officer is stopping a person walking down the street in Lake Forest and searching them for 'drug paraphernalia?' do we honestly believe they don't have it? smoking weed is the most widely performed illegal drug action by ALL regardless of socio-economic, religious, racial, gender, or any other classification named. why not realize this and stop wasting our tax dollars on more ridiculous legislation aimed only at a particular population?

so many issues of homelessness, hunger, domestic abuse and we waste energy on trivialities.