Tuesday, October 16, 2018

This Present Chaos

view from the living room window in St. Paul

Once upon a time I was married, and one Sunday afternoon the man I was married to told me the marriage was over and that he would be marrying someone else. Oh, and he and his new wife wanted the house so they could raise their new family there in the house where my husband and I had raised our daughters.

This blog was born out of the chaos that ensued, and in that time this blog had another name, which by a court order, I was required to change. I had another name then too. But my old self had plans in that time of chaos. I would leave California and live in a new place with my new name, and so I bought a condo in St. Paul, Minnesota not too terribly far from the little town in Iowa where I grew up.

Plans. Plans are good. But I fell in love with a man in Los Angeles. Love is better than plans. So I stayed in California, and first one daughter and then the other--and for a brief while both of the daughters and both their partners lived in the condo in St. Paul. Years have passed. The man I fell in love with after a first date on post-card blue sky day in Griffith Park got lung cancer and died four years ago. My mother died nine months later. Sometime in the next year I will leave the house I shared with my mother and where the man who loved me took his final breaths. My budget must shrink to fit my shrinking alimony.

Last week the daughters and their partners  moved into a house of their own. I'm not in my 50s anymore, and I do not want to live in the lovely condo on the 3rd floor of a historic building with no elevator. I am too historic to cross the icy alleyway to garage without falling down. Too historic to trudge up all those stairs with bags of groceries.

In this new chaos there will be painting, and floor sanding, and odd little fix-it tasks, and way too much cleaning. There will be too many books, and what do I keep and what do I sell, and what do I give away conversations inside my head that must eventually translate into some kind of action.

In some months, I'll start a new life somewhere else. I'm envisioning a tall building with an elevator and a view of the Mississippi River.

this present chaos

Saturday, September 29, 2018

I believe Christine Blasey Ford

I think the place I wondered into for dinner was called the Mad Rose. A good place to go on the night when you are mad and going to see a movie about a mad king.

I watched her testimony. I watched Kavanaugh's. That night when I'd had enough, I took myself out to dinner and to the Fathom Events' "King Lear" with Ian McKellan--a film of the play from London, captured live. "Lear" is a typical Shakespeare tragedy, by which I mean almost everyone dies. It felt like a party. Popcorn and my silent cheers every time another manipulative character met his/her bloody end. Though I flinched and squirmed when Cornwall gouged out the good Gloucester's eyes. Earlier in front of the TV, I'd felt like gouging out my own.

Christine Blasey Ford walked into an environment where she knew no one except the small coterie of lawyers, husband, and maybe another few persons that she'd brought with her. She was in a room mostly populated by men to talk about being sexually assaulted. In a strange city. In a different time zone. Participating in a process she knew so little about that she was surprised to learn just a few weeks earlier, that she'd need a lawyer. She was there to tell what had happened to her 36 years  earlier. A story of assault and how she'd feared for her life. A hazy story with many of its details lost to memory's inherent failings while other details had drilled themselves into her being.

Dr. Ford suffers from anxiety. Check. She suffers from claustrophobia. Check. She's afraid to fly. Check. Yet she flew to D.C. to appear at the hearing. Check. While the fear of flying yet flying conundrum seemed to puzzle a few people, I wasn't one of them. I am afraid to fly. Flying is anxiety and claustrophobia combined. But I have to fly if I want to get to the places I need to go. I need an aisle seat. Near the front or the rear of the cabin. I need booze. I need the strange man sitting next to me not to touch me. Not his leg against my leg. Not his arm against mine. I need more booze. I need something completely engaging to read. Preferably something somewhat terrifying. Though not something terrifying about flying. Terror to cure terror. A weird homeopathy.  I might watch a movie if there's an appealing one offered, but if there's genuine emotional content, often I will sob uncontrollably--like I did recently when I watched the the Mr. Rogers movie on the way back from Minnesota. Love and its companion emotions  move us in the face of terror. Those are the moments during the hearing that Christine Blasey Ford cried.

Bret Kavanaugh was in his element. D.C. Familiar faces. Scores of men ready to believe him, rooting for him, the esteemed federal judge. Yet he came in full of bluster and protest. He would not or could not answer many questions directly. I might believe that he believes that he did not attack Dr. Ford. But that doesn't mean that he didn't attack her. In the best case scenario that I can imagine the Bret Kavanaugh of then and the Bret Kavanaugh of now might not know one another, but there was a struggle going on inside the weeping man blustering and bullying in order to protect his honor. A knock-down, belligerent, eye-gouging battle wherein the now Bret would pluck out the "vile jelly" in order to not see the past Bret.

I was such a stupid 15-year-old. I would not have survived the wild 80s in a big anonymous suburb brimming with affluence and influence. But I know how boys can be boys. In 1970 I went to a party in the woods after prom with my date. A bonfire, the night night sky through the treetops. Stars in my eyes. Romance. A perfecting ending to big event of senior year. But the only other girl was leaving just as I arrived. "Hey, why don't you pull a train for us?" one of the football players asked minutes later. I didn't know what that phrase meant. I'd never heard it. The look in that boy's eyes told me. The laughter of the other boys told me. I remember all their faces in the firelight. And their names. I remember how my date escorted me back to the car and we left.

I want to hear the testimony from the other women who've accused Kavanaugh and those who have told about his drinking. There are so many survivors of sexual assault. I want those stories. Terror to cure terror. Voices to give voice. Every time a woman speaks, another woman will speak. I have to believe that story by story, vote by vote, jail sentence by jail sentence, impeachment by impeachment, change will push its way forward. And I believe that the good men, even those who have suffered from the madness of not understanding, of not believing will, like Lear, come around to see the truth of their own tragedy.

Get thee glass eyes, 
And like a scurvy politician seem 
To see the things thou dost not. 
---(Lear to the blinded Gloucester)