Clearing the Webs

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I envy people who continue to write consistently through difficult or stressful or overly busy times. In fact, I am grateful for those then and now who are documenting not only the current events that are of historic proportion here in our country (and the world as well) but also their insightful emotional responses to them.

I have not been able to muster the creative energy to sit down and concentrate in a very long time. Certainly, moving to a new region that is vastly different from where I used to live has been the number one contributing factor to the scarcity of my posts and even my journal writing. It truly is harder for me to write because of where I live. Heat. Sun. Population Density. Traffic. Sirens. Not enough natural spaces. Not feeling grounded. A dearth of inspiration for sure. I really didn’t want to risk my posts becoming one long lament. Moreover, until May, I had a teaching position that consumed most of my days and ALL of my creativity. It was impossible for me to give any of it to myself when I needed it to create curriculum.

When I was not stuck in traffic or working weekends grading papers and creating lesson plans, I was (and am) utterly distracted by the continued destruction of our country since the 2016 election (and there is a strong argument to be made that it actually has been decades in the making). I soon found myself writing posts of a political nature when my site’s mission really was focused on how I overcame abuse and found my voice again. Don’t get me wrong, I am a political animal (it was my college major) but I really haven’t wanted to directly address specific issues given the general proclivity towards rude behavior and abuse that occurs all over social media and the news.

Then the pandemic hit. I found myself retreating further and further from interacting with others even after lockdown orders were lifted. Everything I have experienced with our local (Florida) response brought me back to my abusive marriage. The lies, manipulation and callous disregard for people was way too familiar to me. It’s hard to write when you have become an emotional wreck. My focus became survival. How do I cope and stay safe?

Still, I write all of this knowing that my life is blessed. For sure, I am no longer in a situation of personal abuse. More importantly, even though the pandemic has changed our lives and livelihoods, I have far more resources than I had before and have been able to make choices that allow me to advocate for others as well as keep myself healthy. Hopefully, this also will open up enough space to begin regularly writing again. I have missed it!

PS: For those who follow me on Facebook, please note that I have not been able to access my page in a long time from any of my devices. Therefore, I cannot see your comments or likes. Please feel free to comment directly here.

Greetings From Ground Zero!

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I suppose I should have known better when the beaches remained crowded with breakers and the governor essentially stood still until they all went home. He was cut collective slack for this inaction by many of us.  Yet, it didn’t take long for keen observers like myself  to realize that something sinister was afoot. (Forgive me if I cannot recall dates or if certain events are out of order. The pandemic has shattered any concept of time.  March and April feel like a decade ago as opposed to four months.  Additionally, the nature of the lack of response has made my mind a bit of a muddle.)

The first quiver of manipulation and sly fibbery happened with our nursing homes when the governor refused to name the facilities where outbreaks occurred. Testing  capacity was limited and the National Guard was called in to help. Still, no one-not even the families of the residents- knew if their loved ones were among the affected. Then came that dark Friday when a nursing home right up the street from my house had to be evacuated. Lo and behold, on Saturday our sly guy in chief revealed all the names of facilities where outbreaks had occurred. Added to this early deception was the fact that our dear leader refused to shut down the state, caving in only on April 3rd. In the meantime, many of his citizens had already begun their own social distancing and quarantining.  We had been paying attention to news out of the West Coast and Northeast; it made sense for us to change our behavior so that we could flatten the curve. Somewhere along the way, our state’s dashboard was created by the fearless Rebekah Jones, who upon refusing to manipulate the data to make the numbers look better, was summarily fired from her job for insubordination (she has recently filed a whistle blower complaint). Not to be deterred, she set up her own Florida Community Dashboard with the claim that her data collection is more reliable and user friendly as well as accurate. As time marched on, our governor’s adolescent arrogance began to reveal itself with his now famous tantrum (with Pence nodding his head beside him) about how well our state was doing and the predictors of being the next New York were hogwash. Well, we are still awaiting your apology governor because here we are! Also, true to form, our Coronavirus  Reopening Task Force was made up of only the state’s powerful  big businesses and ABSOLUTELY ZERO public health professionals. Then, in an instant it seemed our state was reopened in a mishmash of phases that were hard to follow. What was not hard to follow was the rapid and steep climb in cases, because if you know anything about Florida, it couples its plethora of Conservative Christian schools and churches with an equal measure of bars and nightclubs that invite hedonistic and uninhibited behaviors. Oh, have I mentioned that during this short period of time ( I am still talking May here) that there was never once a state wide mandated order for masks? (Still none.) For those of us like myself who have only ventured forth to stores when necessary, the madness of no mask wearers was both frightening and appalling.  I observed this bizarre sort of uncomfortable defiance in no maskers body language, leaving me wondering if they were packing. Furthermore, as I am writing this, I am remembering what our governor considered “essential” businesses during our abbreviated “shutdown”. Basically, it was “GOD, GUNS, and the WWE.  As I have stated, we are surrounded by a powerful Christian Right lobby here who felt that their need to worship en masse and unmasked indoors intervened with their religious liberty. (I am not sure Jesus would agree.) And guns? Need I say more in this “Stand Your Ground” dystopia? As for the WWE, the McMahons are big Trump donors and our governor is the President’s #1 Water Boy. Enough said.

As we saw numbers rise along with our collective anxiety (mine is the highest it has been in 12 years), our so called leader threw around racist blame at our state’s farm workers ( you know that the people that feed us) as well as the Black Lives Matter protesters (you know the people that wear masks and are fed up with endless injustice).  He had nothing but big brother sympathy for the young bar trolls, chastising them gently and identifying with their need to party. The latter group was responsible for the upward trend in cases and has now been identified as the average age patient in ICU with worse conditions than previous patients. As a result, bars are now not open unless they serve food. Thank you, Governor.

So county and other local leaders have been left to fend for themselves.  I can imagine their frustration! Mandatory masks are now required in my county but I could go one county south and land on a maskless planet. The governor has been stubbornly and stupidly resistant to both masks and rolling back reopening. A recent meeting with Miami area mayors proved fruitless. In Florida, Big Money talks more than anything else regardless of the long term consequences to the health and welfare of its citizens and the economy.  Disney and other major theme parks are in their first week of reopening (with restrictions) and the scaled back Republican National  Convention is still on the calendar for August 27th.  As my oldest son would say, “Dollah, dollah bill y’all.” Schools are being forced to reopen in August at least 5 days a week  by command of our Education Commissioner. Here in Florida, they will issue executive edicts out of Tallahassee when it suits their agenda but will leave you swinging in the breeze when local conditions merit a larger action from them. To this day the state’s unemployment system continues to dysfunction. No help from Tallahassee for the nearly quarter million unemployed who continue to struggle to feed their families and pay their bills.

We are all suffering unnecessarily in Florida as well  our country because of the lack of strong leadership. I am beginning to think that those in power are willing to live with the collateral damage of dead bodies in order to further their authoritarian agenda.  One of my friends has even called it America’s Holocaust. Strong words for this feeling that we are all being led to our own demise.

The best choice for us is to continue to take care of ourselves and to speak truth to power nonstop.  I refuse to back down in the face of purposeful and malignant ineptitude and malfeasance. It may be hard to believe, but the pushback is strong and somehow we will prevail.

To my readers: thank you for taking the time to read this post.  It is a stream of consciousness  piece that needed to be written because my body could no longer hold onto my anger, anxiety and frustration.

From Florida With Fear: A Found Poem


This poem was written a couple of years ago as part of my writing class’ found poem project. (A found poem  takes existing texts and reorders the words. Usually, I select anywhere from 75-150 and then cut them in half. Then from there, I construct a poem.)

I had read Lauren Groff’s  Florida, which is a collection of short stories set in the state. As a transplant who has struggled to live here, I found her stories to be affirming of my angst about this state.  The fact that Florida is now the epicenter of the virus serves as no surprise to me. The lack of leadership is epic in its dysfunction.  I thought today was a good day to share my anxiety as well as my observations.  I want to thank my stepdaughter for her help in transferring my poem to the post. It was trial and error but she made it work!

High Tide

                    Rough Atlantic surf near St. Augustine, Florida

 

The wind is up and the surf is rough

I need its roar to quiet my mind

quell my sinking thoughts

(It’s a daily occurrence)

I am seeking peace and clarity

and finding it to be a rarity

Can you hear them again?

The thundering hooves of despots and the pandering peacocks

with  painted smiles

promising

protection

A return to greatness and glory

Making the nation “theirs” again

They’ve created a turbulent uncertainty

and a typhoon of terror

They fracture freedoms of the disenfranchised

Revoke rights and restrict access

Rape Mother Earth in the dead of night

This is not my beloved country

I am not in the land of the free

But there’s still time to be brave

I am swimming with the riptide

Rowing with one oar

( I’ve been here before)

  and racing into the headwinds

in search of a safer shore

Day 18: Part of an undated entry in my writer’s notebook, rediscovered.

Union

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The journey began on a rainy, cold, and dark November evening

Blacker than Black

Sheets of sideways rain and gusts of raw wind

Driving in circles

I misplaced myself

Still, I was determined to heal

Something was calling my name

When I discovered its source, I knew I was home

  Yoga:

a sacred space

The challenge to stay grounded

Yoga:

The  shedding of the stain of suffering and taint of living in a toxic world

  Yoga:

a refuge

Yoga:

The discovery of auras and energies and cellular spaces

that transform into a places for healing

and ways to move through pain

Yoga:

Once I walked in darkness, now I walk in light

 

 Day 17: This poem came from a post in 2012 entitled:  How Yoga Saved My Life https://wordpress.com/post/buildingalifeofhope.com/431. As with all found work, much has been transformed or changed. Yoga  has been a tremendous gift to me on endless levels with-I expect- more to come. 

 

 

Thoughts While Driving in the Sunshine State

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Stuck at another endless red light

I wonder

How will I leave if it’s a Cat 4 or 5?

Will I make it out alive?

I consider the fragility of my state

(and I mean my mind)

Refugee status is one crisis away

But then I disagree

(with myself in my mind)

Catastrophe and Calamity

have already arrived!

The Winds

The Rains

The Fires

The Explosions

The Persecutions

and Famines

My status is wavering and faltering

like the ground beneath my feet

My fears are well founded:

The displacement of my gender

The  violation of my validity

my cogency

my power

my credibility

Declaring war on me

Religion that seeks my submission

with no regard of my opinion

never mind my cognition

A refugee in my own nation

The waters are rising on a blue sky day

 

Day 16: Came home from work and this is what happened. Florida is on the front line for climate  and political change. A fragile beauty that continues to be destroyed on land and water. 

Broken Men

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We suffer at the hands of others’ inadequacies

The ones whose original wounds ferment and smolder

like cans of old fish and slow burning peat

The air is saturated with their stench of self-hate

Their fathers were tough-minded tormentors and serial abusers

Tyrants at the dinner table

They swallowed supper in shrinking, sullen silence

Broken men who turned to God or the Devil

One adorns himself with the armor of false piety

but he is a disciple of those brothers from Kansas

(He got lost on his way to Nazareth)

His aim is your body:

Submit and have children

The other is a con

A wielder of counterfeit deals

Your body is a tool to be grabbed and discarded

Submit and be paid in millions for silence

Yet they aren’t the ones holding the Aces

They are held up by others with skin in the game

Enablers and Expenders

Inebriated Indolents and Posturing Posers

Beware of the ones with more secrets to hide

They are the bona fide criminals in our nation’s homicide

Day 15: A piece grown from the word “inadequacies” that sprung from my brain while standing at the kitchen sink!

The Running Manifesto

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Her mind is restless.

She is living with a sense of foreboding that she finds difficult to escape.

Running:

the welcome release valve,

the essential respite,

the place to gather thoughts and make sense of things.

Running gives a woman positive bodily integrity.

The sheer act tells the story of how a woman won’t be controlled

by restrictive laws or narrow thinking

that seeks to put her in her “place”

or shames her into choices

that someone else is making for her and her life.

She controls the pace because it is her race to run.

So why  run?

Run to stay empowered.

The goals?

To remain a free and self-determined woman.

And what is she training for?

Her Life

 

Day 14: This poem has pieces from a post of mine “Freedom of Movement” that I wrote on November 6, 2015- the year before election night. I must have had a sense that changes were approaching. In reality, they were already underway; the widgets were set in place in the 1980’s. 2016 was the beginning of the overt onslaught.

 

Host Bodies*

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What is the sanctity of life?

When does it begin and when does it end?

Whose life is sacred and holy?

I hear that the state of my  body in your state will have no exceptions.

Incest and Rape: Criminal conceptions

 Six week legality is out of touch with reality

You care for the “Innocent”

Yet spare no regard for a woman’s predicament

Born Female

Born with no human value

Born to temper the impulses of our own personhood:

Education

Self-determination

Independence

Sexual Expression

I live in fear of the pitchforks of Oppression

Intent on seizing Political Power and Unholy Ascension

 

 

* Title inspired by the idiotic comments of Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva who used the term to describe pregnant women five times during a recent interview. He later apologized but we all know the subconscious mindset has a truly ugly way of revealing itself.

Day 13: Recent state laws passed extreme abortion restrictions with the intent to get their cases before the Supreme Court. Such an ugly contest that doesn’t take into consideration ANY situation and does not have any medical or scientific basis, just right wing Christian religious belief disguised as a means to protect the unborn when in reality they don’t protect the living.  Their agenda is female subjugation and dehumanization, period. Jesus would be mortified.

 

False Self/True Self

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Don’t try too hard to prove yourself

Your posturing will become a self-fulfilling prophecy

Others will notice your overt preening,

that missed aim at pleasing.

The past is just that

Remove the emotion

Remain steel-eyed and unbroken

The moment is small

 It will not be your downfall

  The Warrior Woman is

Herself

Most of all

Day 12: There will always be forces out there that stray into your path, obstacles that attempt to block your growth, ideas, and momentum. The challenge is to keep your head and not let your emotions rule or past experiences serve as the means of responding to them.