COVID cancels my March trip to Japan. Careless leaders cancel my trips to everywhere. Indefinitely. I decide to restore our fish tanks. And finally get my betta. Sammy has been swimming in my heart for years, and it will break if he dies.
To make Sammy’s home, I need to fix the patio electricity, inspect old gear, buy new gear, build a stand, and plant, cycle, and balance my tank. It’ll take months.
But I’m stuck here. And Sammy’s stuck in a little cup. Somewhere. I push on.
I Zoom with former co-workers still living in New York City. Families pace cramped apartments. Sirens haunt emptied streets. EMTs collect contagious bodies. …
Reflections on my first Dharma retreat
I’ve been meditating for only maybe a couple of years now, un-religiously, so I have doubts about this retreat. Sitting on the Zen Center porch, preparing to submit to the community’s rules, I see a golden cat. She bounds up the wooden stairs, springs to the weathered couch, and plops her sandalwood body down next to mine, a whisker out of reach.
Registration will have to wait. My not-my-cat and I have to savor the sun’s last rays. Together. As if we aren’t soul mates.
Half an hour later I stroke behind her sleeping ears and leave to meet the other humans. …
How to prepare for your worst nightmare
“I refuse to do it, and they can’t make me!” insisted my mother, describing a procedure I could not believe existed.
“They stick what? Where? While you’re awake? Wuuuut!”
She was too mad to explain herself, but I assumed I understood her. To her a colonoscopy was not a standard medical procedure that catches an easily treatable cancer afflicting one in twenty-four women over fifty. No. …
Rose-“coloured” reflections on British civility
I escape my own country these days in search of greener grass abroad. But it wasn’t England’s greener grass that enthralled me — green as indeed it was: it was its green country lanes.
The Wisconsin roads I grew up on seem to have been designed by civil engineers who had never seen the place and meshed their regular geometric grids onto our irregular undulating hills. How else would we have ended up with stop signs at the bottom of massive hills instead of at the logical top, and with irrelevant and impersonal road names like “AA” and “BB”? Wisconsin’s wide roads have broad shoulders and big views. The space lets you pass other humans without interaction, and the visibility lets you avoid humans altogether, if you prefer. It’s open. And endless. …
I’d been waiting for the thing. Because that’s how things used to work. When powerful people did dumb things, one of those things would become a thing, and then their days of doing dumb things would end. For a time. At least.
I thought grabbing pussy would be the thing. Or firing Comey. Or separating children from parents — then letting them die, and raping them. Or praising Nazis — then condemning their victims. Or insulting American hurricane survivors — then abandoning them. When Helsinki wasn’t the thing, I stopped waiting for the thing. There wasn’t going to be a thing. …
When John McCain died, my Twitter feed split between those with power, who predictably lionized the “Maverick,” and those without power, who listed his public record. “Not now,” the chastisers shushed, “the nation is mourning.”
According to the legend McCain the Maverick lived above pettiness and party lines in the world of eternal principles, abiding truths, and transcendent American values. Free from party and power, he did what he felt was right. While missteps happened, they reinforced his humanity. A true American, he was John McWayne in the senate.
If McCain had passed away two years ago that would have been that. But he lived long enough to usher in the Ugly American president. …