Still With Me

I’ve been missing my mom.

There was the initial relief that she was no longer suffering (and the constant stream of people and things to do after she passed away), but that has all subsided and I’m left with “normal” life. Only since my mom has always been a part of my daily life, even more so as her health deteriorated over the last few years, it feels very abnormal to be without her. Even when I first moved out to Colorado 20 years ago, I called her every day. And even at my busiest time with 2 or 3 or 4 kids to chase, my mom was the person that I sent my texts and pictures and told my stories about every little or big thing in my life. I took her to the doctor and the store and to lunch and to all of the kids’ activities. Rarely did a few days go by without seeing her, or hours without being in touch and checking in to see if she was doing okay. And now, there is just a hole. It’s a terrible feeling, that hole.

My mom told me at least 100 times that she would always be with me. She believed that we are more than just our bodies, and I believe that too. It’s brought me peace, truly it has. But still, I wish she could sit here with me and see the kids grow. Come over for dinner. Gather my articles and photos from the newspaper for me like she always did. Even in the nursing home, unable to leave the bed, she managed to collect them for me. I can’t seem to remember to go buy them for myself after all the years of her proudly collecting them.

So I was thinking about my mom and was starting to feel pretty sad about her not being here. And then I was looking through some old photos on my phone the other night. I don’t remember what I was looking for, but I was scrolling through older images and I came across some screenshots that I took of a Facebook conversation. It was in October, just days after my mom broke her pelvis, and it was the first time since that injury that she was on Facebook and commenting on anything. She was being very silly (and drugged on painkillers) and making all sorts of funny cat emoticons comments. Like this:

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It was cracking us up, and my daughters and I were commenting back, telling her how glad we were that she was feeling better, and how she was making us laugh. She kept at it.

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I saved three separate screenshots of the conversations. As you can see, they are of cats typing, playing dead and dressed up as a rainbow colored unicorn. Crazy stuff. (I mentioned she was heavily drugged, right? Cause pelvic fractures hurt.)

Anyway, I found those screenshots and I was giggling at them,  feeling better as I thought about how much I always enjoyed my mom’s sense of humor. About how even so broken she kept her spirits up, and ours. And how nice it was to find this little piece of her that I had saved.

But then I found this poem, right in the middle of the three screenshots. Not before, not after. In between. The screenshots of the cat emoticons all say 9:17, and the screenshot of the poem says 1:04. It’s of a totally different thing, and not even anything that I remembered seeing before or capturing. So I stopped to see what it was and to read it.

This is the screenshot:

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I’m sure that some technically savvy soul out there could go digging and find some “logical” explanation for how this happened and why a totally random separate screenshot that I’ve never seen before got popped in-between the three messages I took of my mom being silly at one of her last happy times. I’m sure there is some explanation. People love reasoning and things that can be categorized and easily referenced.

But I’m going to chose to think it is just my mom, stopping in and telling me that she misses me too. Reminding me that she is always here with me, and that I only have to stop for a moment and look, and I will find her.

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Some Thoughts Inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Yesterday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I’ve been working on this post since yesterday, but the kids and my life keep pulling me away. And sometimes I have to stop myself from waiting until something is “perfect” before I post it. I have to remember it’s more important to speak our own truth than it is to do it perfectly. This is true for all of us.

This year, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day felt especially important to me. As I look around at this world that we live in and the way things have been going in terms of racial prejudice, injustice and poverty, I feel Dr. King’s words and his message are more important than ever. And eerily, they still ring so very true today.

Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.  MLK

 

Black lives matter. We’ve all heard this recently. It actually started in 2012 after Trayvon Martin’s murder, and has become a movement to bring light into the darkness about the number of black lives taken by the police.  But I wonder if people really know that. Because now, everywhere I turn, I hear an argument of sorts that states, “All lives matter,” as if “Black lives matter,” made someone feel left out.

Of course all lives matter. That isn’t even up for debate.  But I don’t get shot in my home and neither do my children. And it is safe to walk on the streets of our neighborhood and to go to our grocery store at any time of day or night.  Life is different here in small town (white) America. Here, there is a general safety and assumption that our lives matter. But that isn’t true in Ferguson, or in a very large section of Milwaukee, or Chicago, or Detroit, or countless other places in this country.

In those places, life is different. Where there is no money, there is a systematic segregation. Yes, that is the right word. Segregation, just like Dr. King talked about so many years ago. Only this legal and it’s allowed. (Not unlike what Hitler did was legal, and allowed). You don’t believe there is segregation? Take a drive down Hwy 41  just off the interstate by the gleaming Miller Park. The road says, “Freeway Ends” and you will spend 20 minutes in another world. That is segregation.

I can’t breathe. You might say, “That guy had it coming to him. The police were only doing their jobs. They don’t harass people unless they deserve it. And it was ruled justified.” But 11 times that man said, “I can’t breathe.”

What if you got into a disagreement with an officer? I know, that would never happen to you. But theorize with me for a moment here and imagine it happening to you. Let’s call it a misunderstanding. Do you think that he would put you in a choke hold? Even after you told him 11 times that you couldn’t breathe? Right out in public, in broad daylight, until you died? Do you see that as any kind of remote possibility in your life, or your town?

We live in a different world. You don’t see it because you aren’t looking, not to mention that it’s tucked away. If you are looking and you do see it, then you’re mad as hell that this goes on in the country you call your own. Which means you are already part of the movement.

4 ½ hours. If you were shot, would your body lay out in the street of you neighborhood for 4 ½ hours? Would that be allowed? Would someone come up with an excuse trying to make it alright?

How about this… Do you have to fear the police because of how you look? Not who you are or what you’ve done, but how you look?  You don’t believe it? I’ll tell you who to ask. Ask a white mother who has adopted black sons. Ask her when she starts to train her sons on how NOT to provoke the police in any way. She’ll tell you the danger is real for all black boys turning into men and that they need to understand this before puberty to protect themselves.

I’m not saying that all police are bad, or even the majority of them. In fact, I have some wonderful friends who are police officers that I trust totally and I am so thankful for the service they provide. Some of them even go so far as to mentor kids in the inner city and are doing all they can to help. I believe that most police are doing a good job. But in order to keep that profession honest and justified, we have to punish those that abuse their powers and do harm unnecessarily, on purpose or not. But that is not happening. And that is the part that allows a creeping darkness to wrap itself around the profession itself and undermine the good that police can do. We need to recognize and correct the holes within that system.

And then there is the media. They are bought and paid for, and they are selling you whatever they are told to sell you by their owners, and I don’t just mean things you buy with your money. It isn’t truth they are selling though. There may be a smidge of honesty here or there, but there are never two sides represented. They are brain washing you to get you to do and say and believe and buy whatever they want. And in doing so, are able to get most people to forget about anything else. And it’s working. We talk about the Packers and the weather and Duck Dynasty. But poverty? We blame for that. We judge that. Or we ignore that. Hungry children, we place blame and ignore and we talk about a football game. Really, that is what we do. We spend lots of time on imaginary things and say we have no time or money to help with important things.

I probably sound like a conspiracy theorist, only I’m not. I’m someone trying to shed a light on the darkness.  I’m someone who went to college for journalism and is very, very good at research. And I’m telling you, the media is not telling you the truth, and certainly not the whole truth. You have to look deeper to find it, and we have turned into a lazy society who wants it spoon fed to us. They know that, too.

Did you know? “The typical nightly newscast often depicts people of color only via negative images of black men in handcuffs and Latinos invading our borders.” (http://www.freepress.net/diversity-media-ownership)

Or… 90% of all media in America is owned by 6 corporations. And you know what corporations are, right? They are those entities out there trying to get us to buy things. Things like medicine and clothing and beauty supplies and assumptions. But since there are only 6 of them, we basically only get a couple peoples point of view, and we’re taught to treat them as truth. And we do. We trust in the NBC’s and the FOX’s stamped on their foreheads and we let them tell us it’s okay if we just go buy that car because the poor aren’t working hard enough anyway. And besides, our country doesn’t have any money to help anyone right now.

God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty. – MLK

The fact that the government has no money? Guess what. That’s a lie too. Our military budget is $640 billion dollars this year. JUST THIS YEAR.  There is not a country in the world (IN THE WORLD) that has a military budget that is even 10 percent of that. Which means we are either spending our money very, very unwisely or we don’t need to have a budget that large. What if we cut it in half? We’d still have a significantly larger military budget and be way bigger and stronger than ANYONE else, but we’d have $320 billion dollars to spend elsewhere. $320 billion dollars for schools, to pay teachers, to feed children. To send people to college or help folks earn a living wage, to assist the veterans so scarred from serving this country. To get help for the homeless. To improve the inner cities and give them the funds to get their feet on some solid ground for once and have a chance at a real education from day one. To take care of the elderly, so many of whom live in poverty. Cause you know what? $320 billion dollars would go a very long way.

Or how about this?

“A study released today from Oxfam reports that the richest 1 percent in the world are on the verge of controlling more than half of the globe’s total wealth. Already the richest 80 people in the world together own $1.9 trillion, which is just about as much as is owned by the 3.5 billion people in the bottom half of the world put together.” (Robert Reich)

There is a revolution coming, my friends. You can’t have such inequality without the force of that snapping the structure. This country is at a tipping point, so many of our people poor and oppressed, working hard but not making enough to even pay for necessities. There is hatred in hearts and so many who refuse to see, too comfortable in their own warm home and decent incomes to risk looking outside. But this revolution is coming, nonetheless. We will wake up one way or another, whether we look inside ourselves and travel outside our comfort zone and jostle ourselves from our own slumber, or we get shaken out of this sleep by the power and force of change. Either way, this country has been asleep too long. It’s just a matter of time.

We are all one people. Really. We are. Don’t believe that we are all so different. It’s just another lie they are telling us.

There are things that give me hope. Like all the people posting about Martin Luther King, Jr. this week, who realize that the injustice he fought so hard for (and died for) is still not over. Who are all still touched by his words and his dream.

The only way to change the world is one little movement at a time. A Facebook status, a conversation, a blog post, a person deciding to march and help raise awareness (and that ends up with 50,000 marching, but it took each and every single person to decide to do that to tally up to 50,000).

Martin Luther King, Jr. is still speaking. I have heard his words ringing out all over the internet this week. I’m listening, and now so are you….

There’s a Mouse Stuck in a Glue Trap in My Kitchen

There is a mouse in my kitchen, in the back of a drawer, stuck in a glue trap.

Naturally, I’m in the living room, writing about it. Why? Cause I can’t do anything about it. Hell, I can’t even look in the drawer again.

We bought a very old house this fall. Very old, like 118 years old. A huge old house, like 3,200 square feet. And it sat empty for over 2 years. So, a house that’s just empty means centipedes the size of house cats, and mice.

We knew this. I mean, we saw mouse poison and even a few dead mice when we first inspected the house and again when we cleaned it. But we have cats. And really, I’ve lived in houses that had mice before. First off all, because I lived in poverty for years and that means the houses aren’t’ always the best. But I’ve always had cats and that has always immediately solved the mouse problem. They take off for the hills. Until now.

The problem is that even though this is a very nice home, there is a sort of a belly to the house, a undercurrent of places that exist only inside the walls of the house where the cats can’t get to but the mouse (mice?) can. Behind drawers and inside cabinets going into walls that have been renovated over the years. So the mice aren’t scared of the cats there. They are safe there.

I thought of poison but I have kids and even tucked back, it’s too scary. And besides, if a poisoned mouse gets eaten or played with by a cat, the cat gets poisoned. No good. Plus, then the mice will most likely die in the belly of the house. Mice are small, but who wants decomposing small rodents in the house. No. Just no. Poison = bad.

I settled on glue traps. The mice were only showing droppings in the back of 2 drawers and in the cabinet with the cleaning supplies. Perfect. I tucked glue traps back there with some graham cracker stuck in the middle for bait.

This morning, mouse in trap number one. Stuck. ALIVE. Looking at me and squirming. I just shut the drawer.

Fuck.

Now what?

I went to Google. I love Google. It’s my favorite website. I only got so far as to type, “Caught m…” and the first suggestion was, ‘Caught mouse in glue trap now what”

Ahhh, Google. It’s so nice to not feel alone.

Google suggestions….I could hit him with a crow bar. Or a sledgehammer. Or put him in a few bags and drive over him with my van. There was big debate about humane versus inhumane going on…

The thing is, I’m probably a Buddhist. At least, that’s the religion that speaks to me most of all. And in Buddhism, there is this whole “ahimsa,” thing, meaning “non-harming.” A cosmic karma of sorts where all living beings are the same energy and if we harm one, we harm ourselves. I really believe in that. So I let spiders out of the house if I can. I really don’t want to hurt much less kill anything. But mice can’t live here either. So where is the line between harming my family and harming rodents? I don’t know. I do know that they can’t live here and share our house, but I’d prefer the line didn’t settle on a sledgehammer either. I Googled further.

Apparently, I can put the trap and mouse in a sealed container and fill it partially with vegetable oil and “bathe,” the mouse in the oil to free him. Once I free him from the trap, I can take him to a field at least one mile from all buildings and set him free, being careful all the while to wear bite proof gloves and not touch him to avoid diseases. And to do all this fast enough to not suffocate him. Sounds fun, yes?

But it’s literally 0 degrees here this morning, so I’m kind of thinking that setting a wet vegetable-oiled mouse out into the wild this morning might kill him anyway. Thoughts???

So, what to do?

Naturally, write about him, or her. It could be a her. I have no idea. I left it in the drawer and I’m avoiding my kitchen. I’ll play with the baby and hope that’s the only mouse we have. It’s possible.

Happy Friday, all.

P.S. I’d attach a photo, but I really can’t re-open that drawer.