Greetings From Ground Zero!

Sirens of Annihilation | Massive Burn Studios

     Image courtesy of: https://massiveburnstudios.com/art/sirens-            of-annihilation/

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.

Why Write?

Image result for woman writing as resistance art
            Courtesy of: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/553802085399155400/

        Since moving to a new state 3 and 1/2 years ago, I have found it difficult to tap into my creative outlet on a regular basis.  Lately, I have wondered why- given that my life is filled with less responsibilities and a bit more time in which to write. I have moved away from the near daily reminders of my past into a space where I can build a whole new life for myself. Perhaps my expectations were too great. Reality has a way of biting into those beliefs, forcing a change to my mindset. So, what’s changed? A close examination bears the following: my job as a teacher pulls and drains at the energy required for such a task beyond the work day.  Each year my school community has challenged me with a new class to teach. The trust placed in me to create (yes!) another new course with its accompanying curriculum is both an honor and a burden, given the high expectations (there’s that word again!) that I place upon myself. I wouldn’t have it any other way, either.  When I moved here, it was important for me to cultivate a community-not necessarily replicate the one I left but it needed to come close. My work environment fits the bill.  It is a place of love and support and laughter as well as being intellectually stimulating.  And herein lies another obstacle to my creativity-a draining commute! I find the endless traffic lights and the strip mall landscape and multi-lane roads unbearable. The lack of investment in modern and efficient public transportation here borders on the ridiculous (no, it is ridiculous!).  There is no time of day when traffic is not heavy.  Local and state leaders truly have not had (and I would argue still do not have) the gumption and vision to move forward in this area. The only exception may be the desire to build highways in rural areas, which is nothing but a blatant attempt to further develop an already over developed fragile ecosystem whose drinking water problems may very well be the death of us. And given the fact that one has to travel over large bodies of water in order to get from point A to point B-not only to get to work or other destinations, but to also evacuate-you would think that this would be taken into account. But I live in a heads- in- sand-state; so again, I have lowered my expectations of things changing anytime soon. For now I have found a route home that is tolerable and calming for the most part.

 After a day spent teaching and a drive spent being grateful for not getting into an accident, all I can muster is a yoga workout and then meditation on my mat! Dinner, a bit of wine and a good British murder mystery is how I usually end my day.

Still, there are two things I truly fear most about hitting the keyboards these days. First, that it will be an endless lament about how much I miss my four season home state and the nearby mountains. If I couldn’t get to a higher altitude, I had the woods and hills. THE QUIET. Florence Williams reveals her own writing challenges in her book, The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative.  In her introduction, she writes of her family’s move from the majestic mountains of Colorado to the “Anti-Arcadia that is our nation’s capital.” She states: “I yearned for the mountains. I felt disoriented, overwhelmed, depressed.” (p.8)  After reading that bit, I realized that I was not alone; my emotions were validated.  And while I cannot escape the din more regularly, I find myself seeking out the trails in a nearby park. If I turn up my headphones just enough, I can almost not hear the sounds of the sirens that seem to drone on several times within a half-day’s span. Moreover, I head north as much as possible ( five times in 2018!). My soul is fed by time spent with the boys and my closest friends-not to mention mountain hikes and walks in the woods!

     My other fear is that I will devote most of this blog’s posts to the current political climate in our country. When I first started the site nearly 7 years ago, I wanted a space where I could explore and grow my writing as well as offer a forum of hope for anyone who was experiencing an abusive relationship. I wanted to write about my new life in order to convey a message of  triumph and joy and profound appreciation for resisting and overcoming personal tyranny. Well, that is done! But what about the oppression of these past two years? What about the culmination of the hard right turn this country began taking in 1980?  I cannot not write about it.  Writing is an act of resistance that is just as affective as the activist work that I have participated in since November of 2016. Writing clears my mind. Writing raises my voice. Writing sends a message of resistance to the abusive and repressive power structures that seek to quiet us. Writing raises the vibration and gives us energy and hope. So write I will.

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Holier than Thou, How?

Image result for Holy and strong spirits

  Image courtesy of: Two Spirits | Native American Gender Diversity | Independent Lens | PBS

Am I to drown in a lake of fire or am I heaven bound?  

Is my sin only manifested in one man

Fallen and depraved and under continuous damnation from God?

Am I truly the apex of all creation?

Am I a mere helpmeet unworthy and incapable of godly leadership?

Or is the Energy of The Spirit not bound in a book or the walls of a building?

Is it not flowing through rivers and streams

And the vast oceans that encompass this Earth?

Is not water the most Holy and High of all creation?

The One from which all life has sprung forth?

Is not water life itself, without which all living beings will perish?

Does The Spirit not speak to me in the blowing winds and rains and snows?

Is the message not heard in the noisy gong of birds at dawn?

And seen through the long looks of deer in the fields?

I say The Kingdom is within me

With each breath and prayer and call to action

I will persist against the evil and damning forces within our midst 

So keep me from your heartless judgements

Your parochial beliefs 

Your confines of complicit catechisms

Speaking Truth to Power is my road to Glory and Salvation

Day 5. I think I have said enough today.

In the Name of Love*

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Save others so you can Sanctify yourself

 Help others so you can Heal yourself

Live for others so you can Liberate yourself

In this tempest tossed time

it is necessary to remember those whose lives were lost

Those who desired- not special treatment- but equal treatment

Access and Admittance

  Sacrifice without Servitude

 A place at the table and a room at the inn

And choices without the taint of self-righteous judgement

Day 4.  Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. *The title is inspired by U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)”- one of my top favorite songs from my favorite band. They continue to rock on in my heart and soul!

 

Ezer

Words on a mirror boldly inscribed

     A morning benediction

A declaration given from son to mother:

BE A STRONG WOMAN TODAY 

A gift in a time of trial

The signpost becoming a daily mantra

The trial transformed into tribulation 

A decade passes

Another trial begins

A new day, a foreign world

A  testing of stamina

More political, yet deeply personal 

EZER:

  An ancient Hebrew word 

WOMAN, STRONG AND BENEVOLENT

Hung as a reflection around my neck

An Incarnation

An Incantation

to boldly go forth

in the undying belief

that we shall overcome

Day 2. Emily made the necklace for me (she also wears one) as a Christmas gift.  She is a talented artist, designing jewelry as a weaver and metalsmith at her Island Street Studio.