The South Pole, Does She or Doesn’t She?

My husband wants to go to the South Pole. With me. And no, not just because Anthony Bourdain went there and ate God knows what. He’s been bugging me about a trip like this for years. The first thing I thought of when he mentioned it to me was Love and Death, one of DH Lawrence’s principal themes in Women in Love. The snow was “deathlike” and it represented mortality. I must say the image of numbing white expanse spooks me. Funny, because I have no reservations, (literally or otherwise) about making a trip to the deepest nether regions of the ocean to experience the Titanic. What a bittersweet wonder. In fact, the mere thought of bobbing around the rusticles in an aquatic ladybug gives me the good kind of shivers. Not the kind you get by panting through primordial slush.
That kind kept me off of Mount Kilimanjaro two years ago when I had the opportunity to take another Trip of a Lifetime with my husband and daughter. Yes, I turned it down. Not that either of them thought I was up to it, so to speak. The anxiety I felt over the number of shots I would need to get before the trip, the number of hours I would spend in the air, and the eternity it would take me to train for it, was overwhelming. But what unsealed the deal for me was leaving my special needs son behind. The adventure seemed risky and rather self-indulgent to me at the time. At the time.
I’ve been thinking about the number of years I have left on the earth, though. Experiences. When you get older it’s natural for your values to change. Love for family remains steadfast, but accumulation loses its glow. The desire to “buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like” wanes, if it existed at all. I have a museum-quality collection of artifacts, oddities, and antique toys, etc., that I’ve been amassing since I was twelve. I’m done now. No need for anything else. No, really. I mean, what with am I supposed to do with my 18th century enema pump and my Victorian shock boxes at this point except dust them? I just want to share my collectibles with others. And one day, if anyone has the patience to show me how to post photos, (yes, I’m ashamed of myself) I will post them on this blog, and create a virtual museum, and hopefully stimulate conversation with like-minded people. But for now, at my age, it’s time to obsess over my thriving bucket list. Experiences over stuff.
Yet, I didn’t go to Africa, and I’m about to not go to the South Pole. I have below zero interest in that frigid, God-forsaken place. It never has and never will earn a spot on my bucket list. But is it right to dismiss another Trip of a Lifetime simply because it’s not a “Hell Yeah?” One tiny part of me would like to know why the people who research there find it irresistible. (Okay, I guess that counts as above zero interest.) I’m just a little curious about why scientists, nerds, adventurers, and other audacious individuals choose that lifestyle. Why do they prefer to expend their time and intellect inside of a titanic igloo? The whole thing reminds me of TED on ice.
I’ll always regret that I never made it to Egypt to explore the pyramids. But I’m grateful I got to explore a few tunnels in Jerusalem and some Roman/Greco playgrounds. I might not make it to the South Pole but I did live in Terre Haute, IN for six years. I did get to experience bitter cold in spectacular Midwestern fashion. There’s some equivalency, you know. Terre Haute. The South Pole. Both are at the ends of the earth.
I just need to overcome that gnawing anxiety about leaving my son. Maybe I could bring him along. And his dog. Why blow another opportunity? Why miss another Trip of a Lifetime? If I could score a swing for my child all would be well. Does she, or doesn’t she? I don’t know. I’m not getting any younger though, that’s for damn sure. Sometimes I just wish my husband’s big ideas could be less taxing and more relaxing. This one gives me goosebumps.

Where Have All the Yard Signs Gone?

Battle lines were drawn immediately in my suburban neighborhood during the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. My neighbors proudly displayed their political yard signs and defied anyone to disagree with their alliances. Truly annoying people added cheap cardboard rants to inform and bully non-believers into drinking their Kool-Aid.

You knew who your enemies were, (for at least six months, anyway) and you appreciated your allies as you zig-zagged down the street making loyalty checks and sizing up the state of the campaign.

When my young daughter expressed interest in damaging, capturing, or knocking down one of my neighbor’s signs I turned a blind eye. (Bad Mommy. And no, she didn’t vandalize.) My daughter’s in college now and Berned out of the election. Her candidate didn’t make it into the general. He was robbed, so she’s done.

Today you don’t see any signs in my sub-division. Not one. I’m sure this will change as we slide into the final stretch of this tedious but enthralling train wreck. It’s a shame, (shame being the operative word) that my neighbors, and the electorate in general, aren’t proud enough to display their allegiances. The ones who do are either judged and juried immediately, or forced to run and take cover in their homes after making a trip to the grocery store.

I wonder if my neighborly situation will improve in the next few weeks and the American spirit will prevail. I wonder if my neighbors will proudly plant their yard signs based on conviction and faith in their candidate—not just on mutual hatred for the other one. I haven’t put my sign out yet. And that’s not a good sign.

Potty Talk–a Tale of HB2

Say it aint so! NCAA and ACC, you’ve knocked the buckle right off of my Bible belt state! North Carolina is at its knees, and you are testing our faith. Pulling seven NCAA championship games, and then withdrawing nine ACC championships—including, gulp, basketball—all because of our stupid potty law? This is September madness. What the hell are the righteous supposed to do?

I hear moaning everywhere, and the gritting of teeth, and the tearing of flesh, and so on. I understand that principle is important but we’re talking about sports for God’s sake. And a huge economic impact. Please Council of Presidents, rethink your decision. Please Governor McCrory rethink your decision. North Carolina is deeply polarized like the rest of the country, and people have drawn battle lines over this issue. Talk about your Battleground State.

I thought about Governor McCrory and bad decisions when I visited the Netherlands in April. My husband and I wanted to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Hieronymus Bosch’s death. Bosch was a medieval artist whose paintings about heaven and hell were macabre and brilliant. His heaven was jolly and meant for pure spirits; his hell was for tortured souls who had made poor choices in life.

We confronted HB2 every time we went to the bathroom. The ubiquitous unisex signs implied justice for all, and caused me to lament the sad state of our politics at home. HB2 had passed shortly before we left town and it was embarrassing trying to explain to people that it didn’t represent us, just our myopic lawmakers. (The real potty talk came later though, when I tried to explain Donald Trump.)
I would like to share my own HB2 experience, which occurred in the charming city of Den Bosch. It was a wee adventure that left me, well, flushed.

One morning my husband and I went to a pub for breakfast and before we ate I wanted to freshen up. I practically fell down the circular staircase looking for Damas and Gent signs, stick figures, or signage of any kind guiding me to the correct bathroom, but there weren’t any. I admired the state of civil liberties in the Netherlands. “If we could only be so open-minded at home,” I thought. “They don’t even need signs here.” I entered one of the bathrooms and spotted a stall immediately.

After relieving myself I was about to step out when I heard the door open. Then I felt heavy steps on the floor. I got nervous when I didn’t hear any chatty female voices. My face started to pump when it occurred to me that there must have been urinals in the room. As I listened to the deep growls and low voices around me I realized I was an idiot who was stuck in a men’s room.

How gender specific. Oh hell, how on earth did this happen? At that moment discrimination wasn’t on my mind, or the LGBT community, I just wanted to escape my own poor choice.

This probably would’ve been funny in the states, where I could have joked my way out of the bathroom. But in Den Bosch I was a female tourist trapped in a men’s room stall surrounded by male grunts and complicated Dutch accents. (My years of German didn’t make a dent in what I was hearing.) My I Love Lucy situation was causing me sweat and gag, but I didn’t dare peek out of my stall. I just had to wait.

Finally, after about six minutes of quiet I slowly opened the door and fled. “Why didn’t you just look at the signs?” My husband asked me as I pumped half a bottle of hand sanitizer on my body. “I didn’t see any, I swear!” So much for awareness.

When we returned to NC HB2 hadn’t been repealed, businesses were starting to migrate, and athletic organizations were threatening to retract tournaments. The U.K. Foreign Office had even issued a travel alert to its LGBT community. How embarrassing. That’s when I knew my state was circling the drain and I should just turn around and go back to the Netherlands.

Pity Bosch isn’t alive today. He would converse with Governor McCrory about the dire consequences of his decision. “Governor, methinks you should reconsider this most egregious and unfortunate law. North Carolina and its legions of mighty sports fans are ill-tempered and burning with outrage. They may not be prepared to turn the other cheek, or even press the lever in your general direction this November. You have pissed them off, so to speak, and they are hell-bent on tanking your career in politics. Believe me sir, life without basketball is bad, but hell is worse.”

I’m sure Bosch would enjoy painting the hell going on inside the NC legislature. He might even turn his brush outside to an array of rainbow-colored porta-potties basking in the sunshine. Maybe porta-potties are the answer to the HB2 problem. They are unisex after all. I say porta-potties for everyone! Perhaps I should contact the NCAA and ACC powers that be and share my solution. “Ladies and Gentlemen, porta-potties don’t discriminate.”

If it were only that simple. Unfortunately, time is running out in the Tarheel state; our lawmakers need to repeal this stinking law. I don’t want North Carolina to go down the toilet. Our sporting championships already have.

The Black Therapist and the Autistic Man

After I read this article, and watched the video, and blew my nose, I thought to myself, “If this ever happened to my autistic son’s African American therapist–if he were ever popped by a, ‘I don’t know why I shot him’ law officer, I wouldn’t be able to forgive him. I still feel that way. Especially because these officers added insult to injury by flipping Kinsey over and cuffing him–while he was bleeding. If they’d hit an artery and he had bled out and died, they would have to stand trial for what, second degree murder? Negligent homicide? Hopefully, but probably, not anything. He had his hands up in the air for God’s sake. The lack of understanding and respect in this country–on every level–has me thinking that society’s gone f___ing crazy. I wrote My Son almost TEN years ago. It was prescient, and now it’s dated. Life matters. Whether you’re black, white, disabled, LGBT, a veteran, a senior, a cop, or a child. A little Kumbaya would be nice, I just hope we don’t wipe each other out.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/07/21/south-florida-police-shoot-autistic-mans-caretaker-as-lies-in-street.html

South Florida Police Shoot Autistic Man’s Caretaker as He Lies in Street

Police in South Florida Thursday said they were investigating an officer who shot and wounded an autistic man’s caretaker, as video emerged apparently showing the caretaker lying down with his arms raised before being shot.

Police were responding to reports of a man threatening to shoot himself on Monday, North Miami Assistant Police Chief Neal Cuevas told The Miami Herald.

Officers arrived to find 47-year-old Charles Kinsey, a therapist who works with people with disabilities, according to WSVN-TV. His 27-year-old patient reportedly ran away from a group home. The therapist claimed he was trying to return his patient to the facility.

Police ordered Kinsey and the patient, who was sitting in the street playing with a toy truck, to lie on the ground. The video shows Kinsey lying down and putting his hands up while trying to get his patient to comply.

An officer then fired three times, striking Kinsey in the leg, Cuevas said. No weapon was found.

The latest shooting comes amid weeks of violence involving police. Three law enforcement officers were fatally shot and three others wounded Sunday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, by a shooter whom police also gunned down. Two weeks earlier, two white officers in Baton Rouge killed a black man, Alton Sterling, 37, on July 5 during a scuffle at a convenience store. That shooting, captured on cellphone video, provoked widespread protests about police treatment of the black community.

On July 6, another black man, 32-year-old Philando Castile, was killed in Minnesota when a police officer pulled him over. The next day, a sniper killed five Dallas police officers as they guarded a peaceful protest.

In Florida, Kinsey’s attorney, Hilton Napoleon, provided a cellphone video to the Herald on Wednesday taken moments before the shooting. It shows Kinsey lying in the middle of the street with his hands up, asking the officers not to shoot him, while the autistic man sits next to him, yelling at him to “shut up.”

“Sir, there’s no need for firearms,” Kinsey said he told police before he was shot, according to WSVN. “It was so surprising. It was like a mosquito bite.”

Kinsey is black. Police haven’t released the name or race of the officer who shot him but said he’s been placed on administrative leave, which is standard.

The investigation has been turned over to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, Cuevas said.

In an interview with the TV station, Kinsey said he was more worried about his patient than himself during the incident.

“As long as I’ve got my hands up, they’re not going to shoot me. This is what I’m thinking. They’re not going to shoot me,” he said. “Wow, was I wrong.”

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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