I told her I don’t want her to live in a world where her vagina is a liability. How can a person who is essential to bringing life into the world be treated so poorly? This is a country where her gender means she makes 28-cents less than her male equivalent. A country where “equality” is a hollow word filled with adjectives like homophobic, racist, misogynistic, supremacist, narcissistic, ugly, evil, and wrong.
I smiled. We all smiled. The other three agreed. In unison, oh yeh, he was my favorite, too. They went on and on, and I told the story of my regret, and how I just found pictures and a letter of and from him, and yes, I admitted I had thought of him, both recently, and often.
I never fully considered the upside of “suffering” but after reading Janine’s poem this morning, I smiled. When I awoke this morning, I was intent on finding beauty today. I was intent on finding joy. I was intent on writing something uplifting this morning. I was intent on appreciating happiness. I found it in Janine’s poem.
Just like in Improv, it’s not always easy to roll with the line, though. But it’s better than killing the scene. In life, when we accept what’s put in front of us, the outcome, at least in my experience is healthier. Acceptance sure works better than Pepcid, TUMS, and Zantac. It’s cheaper, too. Denial had me drinking alongside the alcoholic, ignoring the problems, and in a constant state of resentment. It sucks to be perpetually disappointed. Saying goodbye to denial is a great relief to the mind and liver, too.
Those lines are delivered by two characters. The sincerity and vulnerability of the lines, though originating from one, is shared by the two, both of their desire to be seen, to be understood, to be appreciated, and to be loved is so fervent that it is palpable.
On this last day of the year, I could focus on the worst parts of 2017, but that’s foolhardy. Who wants to look at life half empty, when it is so full of promise? Not I. For that reason, I’m going to say goodbye to this year with love and admiration for the friends and family who brought me so much joy, so that I could return it. As I look ahead to 2018, I know in my heart and mind there is nowhere to go but up.
My Aunt Karen called me last night. And did we have a gab! I am named after her, a point of pride for me, and at some point in the conversation, we talked about our shared name. I love my name! I love how both Karen and Craven are two syllables and how each start and end with the same consonant sound. Before I even came to appreciate those things, I first loved that I was named after my mom’s younger sister.
I don’t normally have Thursday nights free and I was excited to get out. I’m currently grounded from yoga and walking the dogs and was desperately in need of being around people. I loved listening in on their conversations, watching them react and interact with the art.
We are always told to “Put yourself in their shoes” or “Walk a mile in their shoes” or some other iteration. And I have tried over the years to do just that. I recall sitting in court at 26th and California, listening to the public defender plea with the judge or jury as a death penalty was considered and begging for forgiveness. Those moments almost always made me think about how we choose our paths, and ultimately how our environments contribute to our behavior.
I’ve always wondered without journalism where we would be? What if no one photographed Pearl Harbor, Vietnam, or September 11, no one documented the Civil Rights Movement or Women’s March, nothing to intricately connect our shared experiences like fine Irish lace? Outside of our those shared experiences, each family needs its own history keeper. Each family should know its own truths. Who knew that when my mother gave me a Christmas ornament 24-years ago that its meaning was not so much about the trajectory of my career, but more about my role in this family, its history keeper?
Yesterday morning I spoke with my sister and shared my blues about being alone Christmas Day. Bridget will be with her father today, and I am not making Christmas dinner, which we’ve always shared with my parents. I was dreading being alone. In spite of my little pep talk, about subtracting “no” and “can’t” from my vocabulary, I was falling right into the trap I desperately wanted to avoid: Self-pity.
Acknowledging and accepting what we have; isn’t that what this day is about? A savior was born in a manger on Christmas Eve because his parents didn’t say no. Mary and Joseph didn’t cut and run. They didn’t resist, they humbly accepted the scene as God presented it, and what a gift they gave us.
My favorite story which makes me believe in fate is from January 1942 at St. Bernard’s Hospital. Patricia Craven and Dorothy Burns shared a room in the maternity ward. Patricia gave birth to Pasty, and Dorothy gave birth to Marie. The mothers would meet again 27 years later when Patricia’s son, Jerry, married Marie.
I picked out a nicely wrapped gift. Once unwrapped my eyes welled up with tears as I discovered the contents. The gift made no sense to me. Just like Bridget and the cream cheese, I didn’t understand why someone would give a second grader an ADULT nail clipper set. Really? A nail clipper set? It’s been nearly four decades and I’m still befuddled and bewildered at the thought of that gift.
Those who know me well, know how much coffee is part of my morning routine. I used to smoke. Just like milk and sugar in my coffee, my cigarettes loved red wine and coffee. I was the justice of the peace, jubilantly joining and blessing the unions of cigarettes and coffee and cigarettes and red wine. Kiss the bride, kiss the bride. I realize now my cigarettes were hardly monogamous, but they were happy couples all right. I remember impatiently sitting at Billy’s Grill, a diner on the South Side on Southwest Highway, and waiting for my coffee just so I could light up. That behavior is evidence that every relationship can get tense.
Remembering my Grandma’s smile
Remembering my Dad chasing us around the house tickling us as kids
Remembering my Dad’s beard in the morning when he came home from a shift at the firehouse
Remembering my Dad rubbing his scratchy beard and cold face on our cheeks as we ate our breakfast