Friday, August 26, 2016

Crying on Planes

Alaska. I can't quite remember if I cried on this flight. Maybe not. I was with a good friend.

The first time I cried on a plane was also my very first flight. My grandmother had  a heart attack and lay dying in a hospital in Dubuque, Iowa. I had been on a road trip with an aunt and uncle and when we got the news, the aunt I was traveling with, the aunt we were visiting in Baltimore, and I flew back to Iowa while my two uncles drove the camper through the night and met us there. I was 14 and saved, for maybe a a decade, the individual salt and pepper shakers and the stir stick I'd gotten with the Shirley Temple I'd gulped while swallowing my grief. Whenever I ran across these things in a drawer full of keepsakes they made me sad all over again.

The next time I flew was when my grandfather died. He had a heart attack--and died according to my mother's account--before he hit the floor. By this time I was a freshman in college and hurriedly made the 350-mile trip home, not sure how to negotiate the travel arrangements, thereby arriving at the airport completely rattled.  I remember crying openly on this flight, any effort to swallow the tears impossible.

My father died the next year, and I flew home suddenly once again. There had been a few flights to visit a boyfriend in between, but those trips were emotional minefields too since we'd given up our son for adoption just weeks before we started college. Airplane trips and crying were one and the same to me back then.

Things changed when I flew to France my junior year of college for a semester abroad. Flying was for fun and adventure, but I think I remember laughing so hard that I cried. In the ensuing years of marriage and children, there were more flights that fell into the category of mostly fun, but the motherhood years were when the flying anxiety began in ernest. More crying on airplanes.

With my aunt and my mom aging on the east coast, there were even more reasons to cry on planes. The break-up of my marriage was the watershed (pun intended.) I not only cried copiously on every flight I took anywhere--but I cried while telling my seat mate why I was crying. I have cried--or felt like crying-- for one reason or another on almost every flight I've ever taken.

My flying anxiety is somewhat less these days--but today I found myself crying on a plane once again. Traveling to the Twin Cities to meet my friend Carol who has been on a road trip since May 1 in her 45 ft. RV, I wanted to bring her a gift and found the perfect book: My Life On the Road by Gloria Steinem. I thought I might page through it a bit on the flight. The dedication and the epigraph brought tears to my eyes, and I settled in to read the book, crying over something in nearly every chapter. A history of feminism, told through the lens of Steinem's travels, reading it now when we are on the cusp of electing our first woman president during this era of burgeoning hate and prejudice, is an emotional experience. I'm half-way through the book and wonder what it will be like finishing it on the ground.

Crying on planes, it turns out, is a thing.

You can read about it:  ATLANTIC  BUSTLE
And you can listen to THIS AMERICAN LIFE episode.

People cry on planes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Thank You

I've turned my bath tub area into a place to put plants. Eventually, there may be plants IN the tub.

But what I really want to say here is thank you. I've gotten some very nice responses to my anxiety post here on the blog and elsewhere. I'd send you flowers if I could. Your kindness is beautiful.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wednesday Morning Beach Report: Chaos and how peace escaped.

Pelicans. They usually fly in formation, but it was chaos out there this morning.

And the pure white dove of peace escaped capture by my camera.
Maybe you've got her. Congrats. Enjoy. Send her back my way when you're bored, okay?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Without Love, Where Would We Be Now?

Party lights in the bar at Cold Spring Tavern in the mountains above Santa Barbara

I wish I were a regular person. Like all those drivers speeding north on the 101 last night, seemingly without a care in the world, while I'm telling myself, you've got this just follow the taillights you can see the road you're just doing that thing where you feel like you're driving off into space but you're not. Really. And it was fine. Nothing scary happened. No close calls. No drama. I don't even know where the driving anxiety comes from and I'm not going to let it run my life. But it's there.

And the flying anxiety.

And the fear of heights. And confined spaces like middle airplane seats.

Driving in the mountains is a trifecta of anxieties. But sometimes I go there anyway--like today. And then if I stay overnight at high elevations, I sometimes have murder nightmares.

I think I had my first hypnagogic hallucination years ago in the mountains by Lake Tahoe when I was acting and traveling with a show that played school assembly programs. Every decade or so I have another one. It's that place between waking and sleeping when you're lying there in that crevice between worlds and you're not sure if what/who you're seeing is real life or a dream. Except you think it's real and find out later that it wasn't.

I had my first anxiety attack the day my mom and I went to talk to the social worker at the adoption agency about giving up my son for adoption. I couldn't stop shaking and panting and I was rendered cat got your tongue speechless. The next might have been a couple years later when I woke up from my second back surgery sobbing and shaking and terrified for no real reason.

The adrenaline level in my body is like the tides. In and out. High or not so high. And then oops, we're flooded. It doesn't bother me so much any more. Really, it's a million times better. Yoga. T'ai Chi Chih. A better diet. Enough sleep. It's okay, but I still envy the seemingly carefree.

The dancing man at Cold Spring Tavern today looked carefree. He was the only one, at first, on the dance floor, waiting to pounce into his routine as soon as the music started. His t-shirt said Fireproof and there was some biblical quote too. Hair and beard reminicient of Charles Manson, he had a fervent gleam in his eyes and danced as if it meant salvation. Maybe it did. Maybe he was up there saving all of us, letting anyone who was watching channel their anxieties through him. Later in the afternoon, he danced outside on the gravel patio. In the sunlight, I could see he had no front teeth and that the skin on his arms looked as though it hadn't seen the indoors in years. Still a half-dozen pretty women danced with him un-ironically. And who knows, maybe they were all regulars--the dancing man and the women and the bikers and the families.

Without love, where would we be now? were the song lyrics that followed me to the car while behind me, the man kept dancing. That song stayed in my head all the way down the mountain.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Tuesday Morning Beach/Crime Report

Long Billed Curlew in the foam

The bird watching has been wonderful these last few mornings. Curlews, willets, godwits, whimbrels, plovers, and pelicans. I'm not a photographer with a real camera, but I still can't resist.

Pelican taking off after riding the waves

I felt a bit like I like was sticking my long beak into someone's business this morning when I saw a cosmetics bag in the street just a few doors from home. There was a prescription bottle lying there with the mascara and lip gloss and such, so I knew it couldn't be trash. I wasn't sure whether to call the police or maybe just try to find the person whose name was on the prescription bottle. I Googled and bingo. (She's a professional with an office locally.) She thanked me and told me her car had been broken into this morning and that she'd be right over to pick it up. That seemed a bit naive, but I said sure, hoping I wasn't being naive about telling a complete stranger to come over to my house. 

Wisely, she had second thoughts and called the police officer who was already on the case. He came over and got the bag and asked me a few questions. According to his timeline, I picked up the bag just moments after it had been tossed. She's not the only person I know whose car has been broken into lately in broad daylight, so local readers, take note.

The officer wanted my contact info, so I gave him my card which has the cover of my book on the front. What's this? he asked. I explained. We had the so you're a writer conversation, but he was really interested in the book. The story. What? You're reunited with your son?! How's your relationship? What about his adoptive parents? Oh my god, that's amazing. 

Seems like he was either adopted himself or maybe had an adopted child or two. I wanted to ask, but didn't. I did enough minding of someone else's business today. But if you're adopted, or have adopted children, or an adopted sibling, or if you're a birthmother or know anyone who is, you might like to read MY BOOK.

And if you do, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It's a story for everyone and anyone, really. But I love it when it hits someone close to home.

My largest heart rock to date--but too big to carry home.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Wednesday Morning $%&*@ Report

Yes, I altered this photo.

Sometime it's great to tinker with reality. Sometimes it's not. When I read this morning's New York Times, I saw that of the top ten trending stories, all but one had to do with $%&*@. Almost the same was true of the most read stories and the stories selected just for me (a long time subscriber.) However, there were only or two stories about #$%&@ in the most emailed stories. Friends don't let friends drive drunk and they don't email one another about #$%&@. I'm not going to be blogging about him or linking to articles about him on FB. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. 

There's a lot to read. A lot of very important stuff. How about this heartbreaking blog post by my friend Elizabeth Aquino
Or THIS? There'a a very pretty picture there.
Or read about THIS BOOK, then maybe buy it.

Or instead of obsessing over $%^&* follow this hot advice:

1. Go buy a box of those Trader Joe's peaches right now. Seriously. Get up. Go. 

2. If you want to put texture on your walls, maybe don't use that powdered pour in the paint can texture. I have no idea what you should use instead.

3. If you are a MAC user and you're doing an online search on your state website for unclaimed property (well, California, for sure) use your CAPSLOCK key when you type in your name. Seriously. 

You're welcome.

I don't know what the quote of the day was in the New York Times today, because I often don't see it now that I read it online. But I'd vote for this from the article on Las Vegas real estate wherein the reporter interviewed this guy who is losing his shirt. “I just don’t know what this world’s going to be like in 90 days. I have never been more confused about my country.”

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Mall Report

I think my current glasses are just like the ones I had in 7th or 8th grade.

I went to the mall today. Something I almost never do. Remember when there were Hari Krishna or maybe they were fake Hari Krishna (I forget which) soliciting at the airports? The mall is like that now. Hawkers stand in the middle of the walkways aggressively passing out samples for perfume or age-defying potions. Shoppers walk as close to the stores as possible, ignoring the shouts  and outstretched hands. Madame, you need this cream. Very special. You will like. Bla-bla-bla.

 I was there for an eye exam. Not an eye cream. I can't read the signs when I'm some place new. I can only read signs if I already know what they say. I began wondering if maybe we're evolving not to read. We listen instead to our smart phones giving us turn by turn directions, and sight is devolving into a secondary sense. Or I need new glasses. Which, it turns out, I do. And I have cataracts. Actually, I have the beginning of cataracts which is worse than full-blown cataracts because there's nothing to be done except wait until you have full-blown cataracts, at which time you can have them operated on.

Here's what having cataracts is like if you'd like to know. There's that shuffle of lenses part in the eye exam when the doctor is asking you when is better---one....or two? Two or three? Now, which of these is better, etc. You can choose the better choice, but it's still not good. The letters are sharper, except only as if seen through a dirty windshield. But I'm getting new glasses. They're fabulous. I'll look great, I just won't see great. But better.

And I have this fantasy that someday we might sit in a big exam chair with a device in front of us, discerning major life choices. Which is better, the doctor will ask us, choice one or choice two?