What I wore to the rally

So there we were, T and I, walking up Maple Street headed to the Rally against White Supremacy. I was in Oxford, Ohio, the campus of Miami University, my alma mater. Dare I count the years? B.A. in English, graduated 1972. Could it really be 45 years?
Two young women crossed the sidewalk in front of us. One of them paused, then turned to me excitedly, “Is that an Obama t-shirt?” “Yes, Obama ’08. I’m old enough to have been there.” I was pleasantly surprised—amazed even—at the wholesome young student’s excitement. And at that moment I felt a strong intuition: I needed to write and blog about this.
My activist date and I continued walking until we found the Sun Dial, the rally’s meeting point.
There were a few hundred people, mostly students but some boomers like us. I’d found out about the rally from Facebook Events and also knew De’Vante, the co-organizer. We had met at the opening of one of Hillary Clinton’s campaign offices. He had confidently proclaimed from the stage: his goal was to be the first black—and gay—President. I admired his ambition.
A young woman asked if I would answer some questions about why I was here. Sure. She was working on a capstone project. I assume she selected me because I was a gray haired one. I told her I grew up in Hamilton, several miles east. Remembered my first knowledge of racism: African Americans lived on the east side, my white family on the west. My babysitter was a Cohen; I was shocked to discover some people disliked Jewish people, too. I knew early on that something was seriously wrong with Society; I realized what I learned in school was partly lies. My sister married a black guy and I came out lesbian. Our poor mother! At some point years later I told her she’d done something right—taught us to think for ourselves.
The speakers were outstanding. I wish I’d had a program so I knew who they were and what organizations they were associated with. One was an African American female reverend running for Cincinnati City Council. She was one of the most powerful. I appreciated her contrasting her decades earlier time at Miami with how things were now: racism still, unfortunately, but in 2017 people were standing up to it publicly. Even so, some Civil Rights Freedom Riders are memorialized at the former Western College side of campus. In 1964 hundreds of volunteers — many of them white college students — trained in Oxford before heading south to register black voters and set up freedom schools and community centers.
Three civil rights activists — Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman — were murdered in Mississippi soon after leaving Oxford. Their deaths stunned the nation and sparked a major federal investigation. It was code-named “MIBURN” for Mississippi Burning after their charred station wagon was found.

All these memories swirled through my head. It wasn’t until a speaker asked that we hold hands with one next to us that I totally returned to the present. It was the first time I’d held hands with my activist date. Then the March began.
I definitely got my 10,000 steps for the day though my broken Fitbit wasn’t on my wrist. I tried to keep track of what direction we were going so we could find our way back to the car.
T & I are both in our 60’s. Although we are both fairly active, her right knee was hurting and my left hip started acting up. After the halfway mark, we did have the sense to move to the edge of the marching crowd. It was hard to keep up with those younger marchers with long legs!
Near the end, we separated from the marchers when they turned from the street toward the rally area. As we walked across the green space a young woman asked us what the march was about. Evidently, all they could make out was KKK. We reassured her that the march was against the KKK. The chant went “No KKK, no Fascist USA, no Trump!”
We were pleasantly tired as we drove back to Cincinnati. Glad we had made a stand—and contribution to the cause—as elders now.

*** Thanks to Laurel for the writing prompt!

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Where did 2017 go? In many directions

I have been AWOL, I’ll admit. But it’s time to return to my blog and share thoughts. I was hit pretty hard by the results of the Presidential Election. My heart was for Hillary. I canvassed, walking miles, talking to people who answered their door, leaving fliers. In the aftermath, I became literally sickened and took to my bed for several days. A workshop led by Mary Pierce Brosmer at Women Writing for (a) Change on Post Election feelings helped. Although reading national news on my smartphone or laptop gave me anxiety, I felt it was vital to stay alert. As one of thousands who showed up for Cincinnati’s Women’s March downtown at Washington Park, I did feel a surge of power and optimism witnessing so many of us feeling the same way. I continue to monitor what’s going on and go to as many rallies and marches as I can. All is not glum, however. I continue to facilitate the Thursday morning class at Women Writing. I write sporadically and am glad to say it is growing as my favorite season Fall arrives. As an aging lesbian, I wonder and worry if I will be in another lover/partner relationship. OKCupid called to me and I’ve had coffee with two interesting women. One I have continued having dinner with and this is welcomed. My next blog post will be about going to a rally vs white supremacy at my alma mater, Miami University of Ohio. The trip to Oxford and the experience brought up memories and perspective. I intend to share this soon. Until then, Phebe

New Year’s Eve

This time of year has been hard for me. Not 2016 in particular but beginning with Christmas through New Year’s Eve. I usually breathe a sigh of relief when all this is over.

Maybe it’s because I don’t have a family–children, I mean–and am not in the majority, i.e., in a heterosexual couple, “normal,” if you will. I’ve been an Other most of my life. In the ’70s and ’80s I reveled in it, demonstrating and proclaiming words like liberation and patriarchy. In the ’90s I bought my first house with another woman. We were a couple for seven years and remain friends to this day. No kids, though, just a dog and two cats. I felt welcome in my neighborhood Northside, the up and coming urban and gritty gayborhood.

Now I’m retired and live on a road that used to be country (there’s a horse and a cow half a mile away!) but is turning suburban. I love my acre and creek and privacy among the trees. I live alone if you don’t count two dogs and two cats.

Yet I make it a point to invite women writer friends to my backyard deck. We toast our imagination and friendship and this is good. They are consciously chosen family, many of them. We share deep reflections and cry and laugh together. Some of us are crafting poems, others hope to write a Great American Novel. I love facilitating these classes and getting to know them so well.

It is morning on New Year’s Eve. What is it about it that so often has filled me with dread? I think it was those early years of drinking and drug experimenting. Being at parties with strangers. For much of my life I have known I felt separate. In recent decades I have worked on this: through Landmark Education, through zen meditation, through Siddha Yoga. Connection had become my mantra.

And this is good. I have chosen to focus on what unites us as people rather than separates. Certainly 2017 will not be easy with a President I abhor. I am disheartened to say the least. But a few relatives I love voted for DT and I still love them. Who said politics is ever easy? Who said life and loving comes easy?

This evening I will spend quietly in front of my fireplace with a new love who came to me in the spring. We have had a tough beginning, parting and coming back together. I do not take a moment for granted! I feel loved and this is the best wish I could wish for on New Year’s Eve.

stay close…

anything is possible

Post by @arganesh3.

Source: anything is possible

Sitting at my father’s grave

Dear Dad,

It is nearly one year since you left this world. I came to your grave, not a usual thing for me to do on Memorial Day, but I knew it would mean so much to you to have flowers put on your gravesite.

I chose some fresh flowers from my yard, such as they were, knowing it was the intention rather than their impressiveness. By the time I got myself out the front door, sunscreen on, and a big straw hat to protect my face, it was nearly noon.

When I said [my visit] would mean something to you, I’m sure part of it was projection on my part, looking in a mirror. Yes, this visit means something to me as well.

Our reconnecting after not communicating for–was it twenty years?–meant much to both of us. I give credit to Landmark Education for urging me to make that call to New Mexico. Although I lost touch, my sister Linda always knew where you and your next wife travelled. You were glad to hear my voice; amazingly, you recognized it after all those years. That call was more easy to make than my anxiety had led me to believe. Eventually I made a trip out West to visit. And it was good.

Then when your wife (after the long ago divorce from my mother) was ill and dying, you two returned to Ohio. You received support from your adult children. After her death, you and I began going out to eat together. It was what I called “your breakfast at lunchtime.” Cracker Barrel, Bob Evans, Big Boy–you had your favorite servers at each one. I bit back my vegetarian rigidity and loosened up a bit to enjoy a few hours with my father.

But that’s the past and you are no longer available for those breakfast sessions. Now I sit here in the hot sun with the noisy traffic on Colerain going shopping on the Memorial Day holiday. I sit on the edge of your plot; there is some grass now but it is obvious that the ground is fairly new. I was there when they lowered you in your coffin. Frankly, it still creeps me out, no matter how many times I see it. It seemed unreal–or perhaps I had to be numb to witness it at all.

It’s All About Me, anyway, this journaling, this blog, and my witnessing the end of a life. I know some day, some month, some year, I will face this, too. Not knowing how much time is left has been a huge zen koan for my life.

I sincerely hope my short visit has been some comfort to you–indeed, for us both.

Another Mother’s Day

I lost my mother in 2007.  The anniversary of her birthday came and went in April. I usually write about her then but did not. Am I not a loving, dutiful daughter?

For one thing, I am getting “real” about my mother having passed. And, although she is not physically present anymore, I sometimes feel her presence, her spirit, if you will. The wind chimes I got her for her deck came back to me after her death. I hear them often; they are comforting as well as beautiful. My two sisters and I text, remembering our mother, as we try to be there for one another.

So this morning as I sat before my fireplace on this chilly Sunday, the theme for my reflection is evident. I sigh yet it is a sigh of acceptance. Perhaps her first-born has finally grown. For acceptance is the final stage of Kubler-Ross’s phases for grieving. One can accept reluctantly but not kicking and screaming in denial (for that would not be acceptance).

I lit incense to the goddess mothers in my living room. If I pause to look and listen, there really are mothers all around me.