Monday, May 25, 2020

BAUMBLOG: I'm Doing Pretty Good. You?

May 21, 2020: RESILIENCE or I'm Doing Pretty Good. You? (Plus Links & Photos)



This is my back garden where I sat this morning and drank tea and thought about what to write. Can you believe someone in San Francisco has, not only a garden, but a small garden in back of the big garden?!? You see, all the lots on this block happen to be 25 feet longer than a standard SF lot. That's just how things were laid out, with all the hills and everything. Not that I noticed when we bought the house in 1977. The backyard was filled with towering wild anise --7 feet high! And anyhow, I was supremely uninterested in gardens at that time in my life. This is the kind of luck I have, on a material level. To end up with this enormous gigantic blessing that I never planned for, never worked for. Life is not fair. But then, we already knew that.
Sitting next to me this morning was Marisol. Amazing to me that the artist was able to capture a REAL PERSON on the four tiles that hold her face. I felt comforted by her presence. I felt I was not alone. Did you know my brain cannot tell the difference between the comfort I would get from an actual human being sitting next to me, and the comfort I get from imagining that Marisol is alive? Isn't that great?

I discovered this when I was performing Waiting for the Podiatrist in 2017, and had written some new lines where the mother (played by a puppet on my left hand) said some nice things to her daughter Alex,
played by the rest of me. Mother puppet said "You're a good daughter," which my actual mother had never said to me, even though I was a fucking great daughter. I thought I would feel terrible hearing my left hand saying those words every night, that it would remind me that my mother had never said them. But the opposite happened! It turned out that my brain did not know the difference between my actual mother saying it or my left hand saying it. I felt COMFORTED! The brain is an amazing thing.

The vine that curls its way across the tile was planted many years ago for the plentiful aqua berries it would bring into the world. I adore aqua. It's very rare in plants. I'm still waiting for my berries. Although, to be scrupulously honest, it did have berry one year. One tiny pale aqua berry. Can you imagine my anticipation of what I thought must be coming? Maybe this year.

When you read my "I Cry Easily" blog, some of you bloggelinis were kind enough to be concerned about my emotional well-being. That was so sweet. Allow me to reassure you that my crying was, for me, a healthy release. I never got stuck in it.

I happen to be a very resilient person -- so far. Nothing has ever knocked me down for a long time, shaken me to my core. I'm kinda like one of those dolls that, when knocked to the side, immediately rights herself. Yes, I do have "What's the point?" moments, especially when I wake up. But the clouds dissipate rapidly.

I have noticed that people seem to have differing amounts of resilience. It has occurred to me that I might just be LESS SENSITIVE than others. I have a friend whose father died about the same time my father died. She seemed really knocked over by the loss. She was shaken. I loved my father and was close to him. But I was not shaken. I thought "Maybe my friend loved her father more. Maybe she's capable of deeper love than I am." But then maybe I'm just more resilient.

My mother was certainly very resilient. Always seeking to find fault with her as she did with me, I thought of her as insensitive. But let me tell you, when my father died and she did NOT get depressed, her insensitivity suddenly transformed in my eyes into RESILIENCE. And even when Nancy, my sister and her daughter, died -- yes, she grieved. But she did NOT get depressed. She went on enjoying her bridge games with friends and reading The New Yorker and watching television. Actually, Nancy's death was very hard on me. I temporarily lost my faith in Buddhism. But I don't think the twists and turns of my emotional state ever rose to a level where others were concerned about me.

I remember, when I was home for a while after my father's funeral, my mother and I were sitting in the den reading, and I heard this strange sound. I looked up and discovered that MY MOTHER WAS WHISTLING! She was reading a New Yorker AND WHISTLING QUITE WELL!

I said "Mom, you're whistling!"

She looked up, startled. "What?"

"You were just whistling!"

She scoffed, "No, I wasn't," and went back to reading. I never heard her whistle again.

I sat there, pondering what had just happened. I realized that my father must have forbidden her to whistle. He was, for all his openness, a real patriarch when push came to shove. I could easily imagine him telling my mother SHE COULD NOT WHISTLE. So unfeminine! A Whistling Wife was just... beyond the pale.

And now my father was gone and the joy of whistling bubbled up through my mother's unconscious!

What does this have to do with resilence? Nothing. But it's too good a story not to tell.

Is my resilience in my genes or does it come from growing up with parents who modeled resilience for me? Or both? During this pandemic, I sure am glad that I'm resilient. It helps me just take care of myself and keep toddling on.

Although, despite all this preening about my resilience, I AM having trouble keeping up with some really basic aspects of life for the first time:

  1. I am, for the first time, having trouble waking up to my alarm. Either I sleep through it or I wake up, turn it off, go back to sleep and forget I did that or I forget to set it in the first place.
  2. I spaced out about paying bills. First one credit card was denied. Instead of looking into this, I just moved on to use ANOTHER credit card. And then when THAT one was denied, I started using a THIRD credit card. It wasn't until the third one was denied, that I considered the possibility that there might be a serious problem and discovered I had not paid any of the bills!
  3. If there's one thing that I've learned in my 73 years of life on this earth creating theater and traveling the world and falling in and out of love, it's that it's better to clean the dog shit off your shoes right away. I'm not talking about a metaphor here, although it DOES make a good metaphor. I'm talking FACT. If you wait, it just gets harder and harder. (Ahh, still the metaphor....) But I have not been willing to face up to this primal truth! And I've been going through all my comfortable shoes, putting them aside when I stepped in shit and just putting on another pair until I had four pairs of shitty comfortable shoes! (I have one more pair of comfortable shoes than I have credit cards.)

Am I a grown-up or WHAT?!? Let's just settle on...WHAT?!?

However, while not grown up, I AM resilient. So I am now dealing with all three problems:

  1. I have set my alarm to go off at 6am every day, so at least I don't have to worry about forgetting to set it.
  2. I have paid all my credit card bills.
  3. I have cleaned off one pair of comfortable shoes and, when I immediately stepped in dog shit AGAIN, I cleaned them off right away!! Easy!

Anyhow, during this pandemic, I have seen two of my friends go from doing just fine to... doing not so fine, as their circumstances changed. I have told them they can call me any time, night or day. Can't think of what else I can do.

I found the info below on the internet. It's important to know it, because it's for people without resilience and for people who care about people without resilience. The phone number is for the National Suicide Hotline, but I think you don't have to be really suicidal if you just need an actual human voice to talk to:
If The Person You Care About Is In Crisis, Please Encourage Them To Seek Help Immediately. Direct Them To Call 1-800-273-Talk (8255) To Reach A 24-Hour Crisis Center, Text Mha to 741741, Call 911, Or Go To The Nearest Emergency Room. You Can Also Call These Numbers If You Fear For Someone's Safety Or Life.

I also found this online:

I'm sure there are many more resources I'm unaware of.


I get intense pleasure from these colors.

Generally, I disapprove of black houses,
but the color perfectly sets off these magnificent cacti.

Mount Diablo is 60 miles away.


Nikki & Loulou get to stretch out in Christopher Playground,
at the top of Glen Canyon.

This is Glen Canyon. Yes, there is a canyon right in the middle of San Francisco, and it is (a very stiff) walking distance from my house. I love Glen Canyon. In fact, I started to make up a song about it:
Can you imanyon
A canyon
In the middle
Of the city?

That's as far as I got.

At one point (1988?), they were talking about putting a two-lane road through Glen Canyon, so that cars could drive the length to come out on a big road on top. You see, there was a preschool in the one building in the canyon. And the parents of some of the children did not like having to drive veerrrry slowly for 1/4 mile on the dirt fire road to the preschool when they picked up and dropped off their precious bundles. I mean, how outrageously inconvenient! And one of these parents was a very good friend of our mayor at the time, Willie Brown. SO the city was planning to pave the canyon! Can you imanyon????!? Yes, that's how things happen in this world, don't they?

WELL. I was definitely willing to lie down in front of a bulldozer for Glen Canyon, believe you me. But I was moving to Amsterdam! What to do? I needn't have worried. Many many people felt the same way I did. There really was no chance that road would be built. I mean, we're talking major riots threatened.

The preschool folded because it was so damn TEDIOUS for these important parents with their dear little kiddies, to slowly drive that quarter of a mile. WHEW! Bullet dodged.

You can see in the picture of the canyon on the right above that there's a bench. And on that bench, there is a plaque:
I saw it was a memorial plaque. Many of the benches have plaques in memory of someone who's gone. I sat next to it, gazing at the view. And then I noticed the dates. Jared didn't have the chance to go many places in his too short life. But he was on that spot, with his parents, looking out over the canyon. Jared was here Right here with the wind and the sun and the foxtails and the wildflowers and grasses. Goddamit, JARED WAS HERE! Jared, I'm so sorry you didn't get to be here longer.

Well, Bloggelinis, here I am crying again. It's tough to follow Jared with anything other than goodby. Maybe it's easier for me to mourn little Jared than it is for me to take in all the people dying in this country. Yes. I think that's it. Anyhow, as always, it feels good to cry. Thank you, Bloggelinis, for sharing this with me. Terry

No comments:

Post a Comment