Especially in suburbia.
Such a great time with Ophelia Hotass and Roxanne Rohls!
Recently, I’ve made a few observations since I started going to the gym again. I’ve had my starts and stops with this love-hate relationship regarding physical exertion — like many folks I’m guessing. I stopped going last year due to my rationalization that it took 25 minutes to get there — plus it made my body just ache. Well lo and behold, a new Planet Fitness was conveniently built less than 10 minutes from where I live — so that excuse has now been eliminated completely and I’m back.
Having less than stellar knees, I don’t do a list of complex things when I go other than the treadmill. I walk (as opposed to jog) to lessen direct knee impact and my current frequency averages 3 times a week. I do walk quickly enough to burn about 300-400 calories an hour, which equates to about a bite of the nuclear-sized donuts at the Amish Farmers Market next door.
But this observation of mine isn’t about calories, sweat or even the hot guy in the tight blue shirt doing arm curls in the weight area. It’s about Race — the other love-hate relationship I have.
When I do my walking on the treadmill, I don’t plug into the 3 million television sets overhead because I need a rhythm to walk. I have my earbuds plugged into my favorite deep house sounds to keep the pace up enough so I can burn the fat which will allow me to enjoy a donut later.
So anyway, I’m “viewing” the TVs overhead because it helps pass the time and with the closed caption feature on them, I can watch and get a general gist of what most programs are about. Again, not the subject of my observation.
A commercial comes on the cbs station about a new film coming out called “Race.” It’s about the adversity that track and field star Jesse Owens had to overcome in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The word “Race” is stark in the ad and while the story is about running races and racial inequality, I’m uncomfortable with the use of the word and how it’s most likely being used as a halfway clever ploy to get people to notice the film. Once again, not the observation I’m making here, but it DID make me take a look at the rest of the TVs all at once.
As I watched a diverse mix of game shows, crime-recreation shows, cooking, talk, news and sports interview shows — I couldn’t help but notice the disproportionate number of minority faces on the tube. Seriously, the percentage of faces like mine were ghostly absent. At 11:30 am., 9 out of 10 sets overhead at the gym were full of minority faces. Faces in commercials too. Women, men, children as actors, spokespeople, contestants and chefs of every nationality flooded my workout way of thinking.
With all of this diversity in my face, I couldn’t help but think about the recent racial complaint where the Academy Awards Committee was accused of snubbing the black community while favoring “white” produced films. The complaint where Jada Pinkett and Spike Lee — who coincidentally have both used the same white community to bankroll their own projects — decided to boycott the Oscar show.
I get defensive about these types of blanket positions mostly because — well, I’m white. I know about the privilege thing (I’m constantly reminded), I understand the pay disparities, I even realize that I don’t take offense to that nod between male members of the black race when I’m with my black husband and I turn invisible.
What I don’t get is when I’m inundated with sound bytes about how racism continues in the entertainment and sports communities. I’m told it’s unfair and disproportionate. The TVs at my gym tell me otherwise. And on a side note — I wonder why so much of the advertising to the black community transpires during this daytime hour.
by Ed Williams
My car is in the shop which means I get to use Daryl’s car for the day. My first task is making sure he gets to school by 8:00 am. I literally throw together some clothes to wear. I grab an army green pair of sweats with last years living room paint all over them and a ripped waist-band. Hardly awake, I manage to grab a “Jakes Bar” tee shirt in the dark. I don’t have time to shower and barely shove a wet toothbrush down my throat. I manage to wrestle with a pair of white athletic socks I stepped on lying on the floor and locate my brown dress shoes near the front door.
As I stumble down the outside stairs I catch my reflection in the glass-doored entrance to our building of condos. My hair has been pushed into some unnatural sculpture resembling a cross between a 50’s beehive and a Billy Idol video. My glasses are somewhat askew, and at the risk of sounding politically incorrect, I look like a refugee that’s washed up on the shore of some country that’s going to turn me away. This is not good.
As we’re driving to his school, Daryl proceeds to tell me about a dream he had last night that included some obnoxious tipping for a relative who was dressed as a waiter (server) providing us with a half a glass of Coke (no alcohol.) Can this day get much worse?
As we pull up to the school Daryl sees another teacher and blurts,”Oh look! Miss Carol got her hair cut! It looks great.” At which point I slink deeper down into my seat and quip, “Please don’t introduce me to anyone this morning. I look like shit.” To which my Husband retorts, “Oh don’t worry. You don’t have to tell me twice.”
by Ed Williams
I need my coffee this morning. I’m up extra early today. Hell, it’s still dark out. For some reason, I scheduled myself for an 8:00 am dentist appointment. And it’s 20 minutes away. What was I thinking?
I usually do that. On my day off, I schedule doctors visits, blood work, and prostate exams all before the day really gets started. I think it’s because I read somewhere that human beings are capable of tolerating more pain in the morning. Obviously, whomever did that study never had a good hangover.
I also like to get these things out of the way. I don’t like anticipating pain or discomfort. Once, I actually talked myself out of doctor’s appointment that was scheduled in the afternoon because I had too much time to think about it.
Circle back to caffeine. Or lack of. I didn’t have time to relax with my second cup of joe this morning. I barely gulped down half the first. When I don’t have my second cup, I don’t feel complete. I get edgy. I end up looking for things to tick me off. I’ve been known to push the cat off the bed because she looks too comfortable. If my car doesn’t turn over at the first twist of the key, I freak out. I’ll shoot nasty looks at school age children playing in the road while waiting for their bus. All situations that I normally handle well when the level of caffeine is sufficient. If not, it just becomes ugly and I google anger management videos.
So as I’m sitting is the dentist chair watching the sun come up and waiting for the novocaine to kick in, I wonder. What if my dentist hasn’t had his second cup of coffee? If my dentist gets grumpy, will he slip? I don’t fancy a drill slipping and ripping my gum to shreds. What if he’s tired? What if he uses the wrong drill size? Dear God, what if he’s hungover and hasn’t had coffee? Dentists must drink heavily after looking into people’s mouths all the time. What if he stayed up too late playing bonus levels of Candy Crush and he’s extra tired? I hope he doesn’t take his lack of coffee issues out on me.
Obviously, I have too much time to ponder this terrible situation as the numbness takes effect and I attempt to spit graciously into the bowl as a stubborn string of saliva refuses to disconnect itself from my lower lip. And that’s a run-on sentence. And I need to pee.
I wish they’d get this procedure done quickly, so I can hit up a hazelnut at Wawa.
I’m a social media whore. Bam! It’s out there!
As if anyone would question those statements. When I run into people at parties, at the supermarket, even on the street, I hear, “I love your Posts! They make me laugh, cry, or just get pissed and unfriend people. ”
I know how to blog, post, InstaGram, tweet, I can pin like there’s no tomorrow, and I even tried that Snapchat for about a week until I discovered those … um graphic images don’t always just “disappear.”
I enjoy checking my social media stats, seeing how many views, visitors, and followers I get. I’m not sure if it’s a need, or an unhealthy obsession, but I do it. I grew up in an environment where everything was charted, graphed, and counted by numbers. Get over it.
To me, Twitter seems to be the most difficult for me to integrate. I use it to follow politicians, the occasional sports figure, and many of my favorite soap opera stars. I like diversity.
Imagine my pleasant surprise when I discovered that I have a new follower on Twitter! I’m not so sure I’m crazy about this one though…
I’ve always had this personal fear that someday, somehow, some WAY, I’m going to be found out as a fake. A fraud. I believe it comes from some inner insecurity that maybe I’m just not good enough.
I think we must all go through that at one time or another. At least, that’s what I’m hoping. I’d hate to think it was only me. It isn’t just me. Right? Emoticon wink.
I’ve been in the process of a true personal evolution (as opposed to a false one). I’m not completely sure if it came from a latent New Years resolution, or perhaps some misguided third times the charm mid life crisis, but it’s here. And I’m a little frightened.
I am fast approaching 58 (does my age make the mid life crisis a mute point?), and I’ve come to the realization that I want to do something I actually like… make that LOVE, for this autumn season of my world. The interesting part (I say interesting because ridiculous sounds too negative) is that I’m not quite sure what it is I actually WANT to do?
Again, I’m guessing (make that desperately hoping) that some of YOU struggle with this as well. If not, well, then consider this yet another coming out story.
One of the problems I have is that I still believe that I’m a spry 18 year old on the inside. It’s when I pass those God awful mirror reflections where my Dad seems to make his appearance (God rest his soul) and I refuse to admit that man is me. Did I just use the word God twice in a sentence? Would that be considered a double negative to an atheist? Do I capitalize atheist? I digress. Squirrel!
I’m looking to change what I do “for a living?” That being challenging enough, I have what I THINK is loads of talent that I just don’t know how to channel into a way that makes sense. A way that I would feel is authentic. To me. To you. And also, a way that would make money.
So I continue to deal with the notion that any day now, I’m going to wake up to finger pointing whisperers who are laughing at how inadequate I am. At how silly I look out here struggling to find “my sense of self.” I hear snickers of “he can’t do that, he’s past his prime,” and “how immature to think he can just drop his current financial freedom (herein known as living paycheck to paycheck) to actually “pursue a dream.” “What a phony. What a fraud.”
I’m not looking for reassurance, I assure you. At least, not from you. I’m searching for reassurance from me. I want to bust out of the closet AGAIN, to become who I’m meant to be. Isn’t that what we all want? Don’t we all want to be authentic? To be true to ourselves? Don’t we all hide pieces of us that we sort of hold back on for fear of ridicule, or laughter. Like tripping in the cafeteria at 9th grade lunch.
I’m overwhelmed with paths I want to take at this point in my life. But I’m going to find one. One that works. It may not be that great American novel, but it will be MY journey. Maybe that’s what I’m so afraid of. I’ve always had a direction. A goal. A destination ahead. The path of always being in control. Always certain.
It’s so scary for a control freak like me. To enjoy the process now. To continue to listen to my heart (maybe I’m not a fraud after all), to go with the flow (I hate cliches), to make a plan (let’s be somewhat realistic here), and to live in the moment.
I’m fortunate that I have a husband who continuously supports me (some say support, some say blind love. Potato. Potahto.) And I DO get such lovely feedback from the social media community (is there a name for that in the urban dictionary?) So here goes.
Wish me luck.
Not sure why I chose this photo.
Maybe I’m shocked because I need a manicure.
I didn’t believe that I could still sob like an eight year old kid. But I did. Today. Most of the day actually. Over a stupid, determined, tuxedo, lap-loving, purr-happy cat that I knew for maybe 10 weeks.
We adopted the tiny bugger from Daryl’s school. They have a relationship with the local ASPCA to let the students interact and sometimes learn to care for kittens. The kittens are part of their foster program.
Our first grand dame, Zazu, came from there 5 Christmas’ ago and we adore her, so after much cajoling from Daryl (3 glasses of good wine, and the promise of something naughty), I FINALLY gave into seeing a photo of this new kitten. “He looks a little sick. Like maybe he has a cold or something,” I snorted. “Just a cold, ” Daryl assured me, “He’s on antibiotic. He is THE friendliest kitten I have ever seen there. He came right up to me and sat on my lap, then climbed onto my shoulder to purr. It’s like he wants to snuggle all the time!”
“Okay,” I said reluctantly. Or as reluctantly as I could fake. “But you’re giving medicine, and litter, and clean ups, etc.” Daryl agreed. He takes such wonderful care of Zazu. How could we not welcome more love into our relationship?
I got home from work after 5 the day he came into our home. Daryl had off and got Pippin used to his new surroundings. We have a very small condo, and our initial challenge was going to be keeping the baby from his big mean old sister Zazu.
This kitten was pathetic looking. Runny nose, gook in both eyes, sneezing into everything, including a few cups of my coffee. But something about this cat was special. Something I haven’t seen before in any of my million cat history growing up. He was just LOVE. We kept him in the bathroom all night. He’d jump into the sink and fall sound asleep while his purr motor ran rampant and loud.
As soon as I would open the door, he would follow me like a puppy. He didn’t meow, didn’t bite, and rarely clawed at anything. As I would start the Keurig he would lie on my feet looking up at me. I’d bring my coffee to my sofa perch and he’d hop right up and plop onto my lap. Not in a cat way… but just a plop. Then he’d purr so loud as I stroked his tiny head. It was just what I needed to start my day. So calming. So loving. Every morning as I watched the sun rise and dawdle on FaceBook.
He was peace. At least to me. Not so much to the queen bee Zazz. She finally got to meet him face to face after the sixth day if “cat-solation.” She wasn’t pleased. He went immediately up to her face as if he were the new 8 year old kid on the first day of school. Hey there lady… my name is Pippin. I think you look really neat. I like you! I’ve never known Zazz to say an unkind word to anyone. She doesn’t even meow. Until now. A hiss and a growl that I think even surprised HER!
Pippin backed away as if to say, okay lady, that’s cool. You’ll warm up to me eventually. In the meantime, I have a lap to find. I left them alone that day and when I came home from work, they were sleeping in the same bed (ours) about a foot or two apart. Zazu looking at me as if to say okay guys… “It’s” really annoying me and when can you take “it” back to where you found “it?”
This behavior between the two continued for a day or two to mixed reviews.
Pippin’s cold wasn’t really progressing like I’d hoped. It wasn’t getting worse, but it wasn’t improving either. Kitten snot everywhere. The poor guy didn’t seem to mind. He continued his lap loving, purr mending ways.
I decided a visit to the vet was in order. I wanted to have him checked anyway even though the ASPCA did their routine shot treatment before he was adopted. As soon as I took Pippin out of his crate, the vet held his head (as he continued to purr loudly) and informed me that Pippin had herpes.
“You’re shitting me right?” was my elegant no filter response. Apparently, cat herpes is quite common in shelter environments. Kittens can also get it from their mothers milk. It’s an airborne version that is extremely contagious to other cats but in no way harmful to humans.
Did you say contagious to other cats?
What about Zazu? We’ve kept them separated for several days. They haven’t had any contact really. We still have their food and liters in different locations. Zazz should be fine right? “Unfortunately, your other cat is already infected,” was the vets response. “It’s THAT contagious.”
After getting a very expensive bag of various pills, powders, and liquids. I headed home to explain to Daryl what our next steps were. Pippin hopping in and out of the travel crate like it was an adventure without the least bit of hesitation.
Within a day, Zazu was a wreck. Her eyes filling up with gunk, her sneezing incessant, and she could not eat or drink without vomiting clear mucus. She got depressed pretty quickly and hid in places that were not her usual spots. It was very difficult to see this cat who was never sick, go downhill so rapidly. The herpes had taken over.
Daryl decided to get her to the vet within the week. He brought his own bag of prescription goodies and our home soon looked like the ward for wayward cats with bottle, salves, and liquids with schedules that rivaled any senior living lobby.
With patience, teamwork, and a little time, we got both animals to a sense of chaotic order. We did it together. All of us.
The two pusses even tolerated each other somewhat out of a resolution of we’re all in this together in this tiny little condo world. We can make this work.
Eventually, Daryl and I could not stop this kid from wanting to sleep in between us. He’d climb up and plop directly between our heads, never fearing getting crushed or being uncomfortable. He would stay with us all night. Purring most of it, as Zazu continued her nightly slumber at our feet.
A few weeks later, Pippin began walking with a slight limp to his hind left leg. I guess we just attributed it to him sleeping on it. He’d be running to play with his favorite laser light and he’d sort of trip with it. Way too quickly within a few days it evolved into he couldn’t walk without his back end sliding to the side. He looked drunk. Almost cute… if it weren’t so serious.
Back to the vet. X-rays, and tests and still no answers. New antibiotics in hand, we coached the little guy along. Hoping to see improvement, he deteriorated quickly. His entire back of his body began to lose function. He had to drag himself around. He never complained or looked in pain as he tried to come running to me looking like a funny seal. I had to pick him up to get him to my lap since he couldn’t climb. He had no control over his bladder or bowels. We were losing him.
Daryl made another vet appointment for that late afternoon. I ended up staying home with the little guy for the day. I cancelled all plans on my schedule and decided to wrap him in a favorite blanket of his (and mine) and sat with him on my lap all day. He was semi alert and continued to look at me off and on during the day, his tiny face staring at me as if HE was trying to comfort ME. At one point I even told him that I didn’t think things looked good as I wept and he stretched his paw out and touched my arm. He continued to sleep off and on, hiding his tiny head deep into the blanket. He couldn’t get up to eat so I would take him to his bowl and watch him attempt to stand as he’d flop into his bowl of water. He just looked at me and placed his head on the floor. I lost it. Like an 8 year old kid… I lost it.
I don’t know how animal volunteers do it. I don’t know how they can look at these faces of unconditional love, of painful eyes, of unspoken thoughts and continue to care for or lose these creatures of heart. I give them credit.
The back of my head kept saying to me, it’s only a cat silly… you haven’t even had him for long. Snap out of it! Stop acting like a big baby.
Daryl came home in cautioned silence as he opened the crate and we watched as Pippin hobbled in without question. Without hesitation. To the vet for blood work. We wanted to see if there were any solutions. Deep down, I didn’t believe the day would end well.
So many of you reached out. So many of you understand this incredible loss of a pet. More than a pet. A family member. One that never really gives you grief. They just want to be with you is all. They don’t judge your looks, your attitude, your mood. They just see your soul and they allow you to see your own.
Thanks for the support. It is truly of value.
And thanks Pippin, for coming into our lives no matter how brief. We love and miss you terribly. 😿
As in one collective breath
for me to open my life
To crawl out into the light of day
The light of who I truly am
Of what I want to be
I must take that step in confident urgency
to throw open the sash
place one leg out into the cold uncertain place
and watch the rest of me follow
As I begin the year
In a place I’ve only seen
through the glass of a window.
apparently, this dog never needs walked.
a beautiful June afternoon on the campus of NYU.
always look in the smallest of places
always see what most never see
turn your head
squint your eyes and blink.
forever look harder, deeper, and discover
that we all have places
that are hidden, obscured, or around the next corner…
but oh so incredibly and beautifully found.