I Remember 2018

At the unripened age of 51, I now realize that my teen years were framed by choice, free speech, pot and a vote that seemed inconsequential.  There had been assassinations, the Kennedy’s, Martin Luther.  And the term ‘conflict’…had been a thing of the past.  But to a child of 16: those were acts of the past.  Had times been more turbulent and less self centered in the mid 80’s; would my life had been different?  It hadn’t been until the A.I.D.S., virus and a governmental mishandle took place…did I begin to volunteer to make a difference.  Vote to make a change.  Things are much different now.

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It was last Saturday when it hit me that my entire life has been framed by violence.

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I don’t remember being born on Jan. 28, 2000, and I don’t remember being a year and a half old when 9/11 happened. I don’t remember the panic of my mother as she stepped outside our house in Washington and smelled the smoke of the burning Pentagon. I don’t remember her knowing I would grow up in a changed world.

But I remember other things. I remember being 7 years old and seeing adults who were sad, angry, shocked after something terrible happened at Virginia Tech. I remember not knowing why. I remember the lockdown drills at my elementary school, the helpful signs in every classroom telling us where to hide in case of a “Code Blue,” which meant active shooter. (I remember we were told that having all the kids in one corner, a misguided protocol no longer followed, was the best means of protection.)

I remember being in seventh grade, and I remember my teacher looking up from her computer, pale, and running out of the room without a word during a quiz. I remember her walking back in, tears streaking her face, as she told us there had been a shooting in Newtown, Conn., where her grandchildren lived. I remember her telling us they were all right, and I remember thinking of my little brother in his second-grade classroom and feeling my stomach churn.

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I remember walking into my high school the day after the Orlando nightclub shooting and seeing one of my gay friends sitting limply in a chair, eyes hollow. I remember sobbing. Often, I remember sobbing. I remember friends’ tears a year later, after the shooting in Las Vegas, and I remember feeling angry that I wasn’t crying. I remember Parkland the most clearly. I remember the silence. No one talked about it the morning after. No teachers mentioned it. I remember bringing it up at lunch but receiving only passing responses. I remember talking to my friend Max about how odd it was that no one said anything. I remember him gathering our friends to organize a walkout. I remember walking out, and I remember the silence of the crowd of students standing outside in the March cold. I remember the crackle of the megaphone we used as we read one name of one victim every minute. I remember those 17 minutes. I remember marching, once, then twice, and again and again.

I remember going with two friends last Friday to a Shabbat service in the spare room of a local Methodist church, sponsored by my college’s Jewish organization Hillel. I remember my friend Lucy leading the prayers, with her singing and playing guitar, and I remember my valiant attempts to sing along using the transliterations below the Hebrew in the books they’d handed out. I remember getting kosher dinner with them afterward as they explained to me how and why kosher food was a thing. I remember them describing the different kinds of Judaism they all came from.

I remember waking up on Saturday morning and seeing the news on my phone. I remember the sadness, shock, anger. I remember the haunting thought that the shooter might have gone to our service instead, or could go to the next one. I remember a stream of dripping wax burning my finger at the vigil I attended. I remember the look in my Jewish friends’ eyes.

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And it was then that I remembered everything at once. I remembered all the violence looming around me, and my friends, and my entire generation. I remembered that for anyone born near the year 2000, this is all we’ve ever known.

I remember filling out my absentee ballot a few weeks ago. I remember voting, hoping that weeks, years, decades from now I’d be able to remember that we changed.

##Julia Savoca Gibson/essay/Washington Post

Me, Myself, I

Had I been bits and pieces.lucille-ball-quote

Strays from lint left on a sweater.

Dirt accumulated in the floor of a car.

Fragments of time would unleash the authentic me…

an unnamed dog from a 70’s Monopoly board

a collection of GI’s made of plastic

music from the 80’s…only the prolific and absurd

Lucy would have my love.

All current illness would seem…cured.

 

living is easy

no red wall.

no red button free-fall.

lives mattered without malice

without protocol

all lived by what appeared to be simple means

ranches, capes, basic joists

dreaming the American dream

nothing trite about what we understood

we had more than most

most did not give would they could

saving the earth by way of the dime bag

no pale ale

just bong hits and bonfires

redemption found when a dollar had been given

on Sundays as a basket passed

too young to understand Nixon

old enough to mourn John

we were discovering Lady Chatterlay’s Lover

our bodies were ourselves

living among bathtub Mary’s and American flags on the front lawn

set in stones that were thrown

‘you were right…or, you were wrong’

i can remember hearing of Elvis

where he was

how he had been found

to my young mind i pondered…

‘how quickly life can be upstaged without a sound’

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the Current State of…the State

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There have been numerous discussions on ‘the way of the world’ today!  Particularly, the United States.  The fear that sets heavy in my stomach in the morning when I rise?  At night, upon a not peaceful sleep?

I am brought back to the moment in time; when the focus had been on the Cold War.  The Vietnam war having just ended.  And, the, walking on egg shells, feeling, my parents displayed.  And, perhaps, not just them, but other Baby Boomers, as well.

 

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“We are as forlorn as children lost in the wood. When you stand in front of me and look at me, what do you know of the griefs that are in me and what do I know of yours? And if I were to cast myself down before you and tell you, what more would you know about me that you know about Hell when someone tells you it is hot and dreadful?”

  • Kafka

Different Like Me?

When young, my house burned down.  It burned itself right to the ground.  No photographs.  No trophies.  Not fish names, Zeak and Zach.  No clothing.  No piece or scrap of a life…that I had come to know.

Being 15 years old.  Much of the usual had been going on, before the loss.  Puberty, confusion, work, confusion, education, confusion, church…and, much more confusion.

To top trauma off?  I began to believe that being gay…was a sin, pitiful and certainly, not something you brag about.  To voice my concern to an abusive father an emotional absent mother…would have been like calling an angry lion out of its den.

Though I do not remember much of that period of time.   I found comfort living at the home of my best friend, Red.  With an agreement between Red’s mother and my parents, the ‘stay’ would not be forever…And, so, a new and hippie improved home, was found on Maple Street.

Launched between Red and I?  The secret life of gay’s in the 80’s, in a semi rural New Hampshire city.  Without words, Red and I, knew we were different.

How fun was that time?  Piper, Red’s mother, was from New York city.  She was divorced with 5 children to raise.  She introduced me to True cigarettes, Amaretto, Joan Baez and watching television from the bed.

So different were those 6 or so months.  I hated to leave and head home to anger and violence that appeared  from nowhere.

What astounds me now?

Leaving New Hampshire, as a young adult, I encountered a vast array of people, places and things.  Most of which, I would never have had the courage to gather in my memories…had it not been for Maple street.

91 percent of New Hampshire is white.  Living in Madison County, North Carolina, at the ripe age of 23 and rainbow proud…there had been only one group akin to the suffering gays were encountering, with Jesse Helms and his prejudice cohorts!  With every pride march and every volunteer group I joined; African-American Pride had been right there to offer a hand in guidance.  After all, they had decades, centuries of experience.

Full circle, I have forged my way back home to the same abusive father and the same, emotionally distant mother.  I have also been able to re-acquaint myself with those I went to school with.

I am furnishing a post from my Facebook page.  It’s topic surrounds the handing of the torch from Obama to Trump.  I am liberal.  What else would I be?

I have few friends.  It is best that way.  I keep my circle close, and offer what love I can.  Those I went to school with, those I wandered the streets of Concord, New Hampshire…with, have not changed.

They long for football days.  They post recipes and abhor politics or…upsetting the apple cart.

I will say first off:

Shame on me.  When the heat turned up over Obama and Trump…abortion, racism and gay rights came into play?  I will say, my first assumption had been, here we go, another cracker carrying a gun talking about my uterus and sexuality.  First and foremost,  I apologize for that generalization.  It is my perception of a group of persons who have aged…yet, live for the next party and next playoff game.

If I were honest, there had never been any comfort in my teens, unless I had been on Maple street with a select few others who were…different like me.

I have posted the conversation with persons I have known for about forty years.

I will say, when the statement,

…babykiller and by angery lesbian who couldn’t get a man.!

Came up…

I felt like the marches I had encountered down south.  When I had been advocating change not only for AIDS, LGBT and African Americans…reappeared again, almost 30 years later.  As though, with what few steps forward my minority, other minorities and many in between the cracks, took forward…we were taking several steps back…

So upsetting to me is the idea that persons I have known; as children, were stating things like…

So tired of the posts about politics.

Trump won.  Get the fuck over it!

or,

better yet,

they post pictures…

of football games and proms from years gone by!

In someone’s estimation.  Someone I cannot even remember growing up with, I was not always gay.  And, I was indeed, just another angry lesbian!

Dear Old Friend,

I have always been gay.  Yet, I feared coming out of the closet until I could get out on my own.  Am I angry?  Fuck yes!  Angry that my politics have upset you so!

John Boy: Nice try!!!! Conservatives didn’t riot or burn other people’s property.
Ruth M Bowley
Ruth M Bowley No! They are just wanting to take my right to marry away! They are just attempting to make sure millions of Americans remain ill. And, more importantly, they would like to go back to an era…before, Martin Luther King!
John Boy That’s not true . He’s only been in office for two days and you are already criticizing the job he has done.
Heath Hetero: He took away the fine for not having ins so he’s already took nobamas hands out of our pockets!
Heath Hetero: Two days in and the new president has done more for America than nobama ever did other countries now want to talk to our New President!
John Boy: The ACA is one of the most complicated bill ever past. Congress voted it in without even reading the whole thing. It has fingers in all sorts of crap that most of us don’t have a clue about. It will not be fixed overnight.
Ruth M Bowley
Ruth M Bowley That is why I am wondering how Heath got a hold of him. Usually, he is not ‘out of the closet’ with his ideas.
John Boy: How do you come up with he’s trying to take your right to marry or your medical and bring us back to the 60s???????? Where did you get this info Ruth Ruth M Bowley??????
Ruth M Bowley
Ruth M Bowley I didn’t answer you yesterday, John. Because there is no reasoning to a white male, who feels he isn’t being heard, who voted for Trump and wants his guns! In other words, John there is no reasoning to a group of America’s population who have not had the struggles that many have.
Heath Hetero: That’s funny because in DC pro life women weren’t welcome in their March! Some equality!!!
Ruth M Bowley

Ruth M Bowley Citizens with pre-existing medical conditions may be concerned about what will happen to them if Obamacare is repealed. And 20 million Americans who have healthcare insurance for the first time may wonder how they will fare under Trumpcare.

John Boy:  Jeeze Ruth didn’t know you knew me better than me . guess I will have to go buy a gun seeing I don’t own one. And I guess I will have to go out and get all the money I have. ( I’m far from rich) and as for being white well I’m sorry I didn’t have a choice about that. And I don’t have any pride in that because how can someone be proud of something that I had no choice in. But that’s fine just believe what you want.
Ruth M Bowley

Ruth M Bowley Odd because I could have sworn I saw a few people from your circle of friends…

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John Boy:  What are you talking about????
Heath Hetero: John I’ve got guns for both of us.Lol oh yeah our founding fathers made sure that I could if you have a problem with that tough shit! As far as preexisting conditions the republicans have said over and over that’s not what they want to get rid of, and 
John Boy:  What did you think you would get with Clinton in office????
John Boy: In my eyes abortion takes the right to live from the child.
JessicaFascinating. This whole conversation is fascinating. Let me make this perfectly clear to all the men on this chat. My uterus is my business. What I choose to do or not to do with it is certainly not your business. No one has a right to tell me what to 
John Boy:  You always had a choice. Don’t get pregnant with your uterus!!!!! Murder is not a right.
John Boy: Your argument does not hold water.
Jessica:  Really? Don’t tell me what to do with my uterus. And by the way. Tell all your kind raping man friends to keep their dicks in their pants. Majority of abortions are to undo a rape.
John Boy: That’s a whole different subject and you know it. A little responsibility can save a life!
Ruth M Bowley
Ruth M Bowley God fearing white man…speaks!
John Boy:  Selfish baby killer speaks.
John Boy:  Bigot
Heath Hetero:  They marched for abortion and for free contraceptives ! Well if they used contraceptives they wouldn’t be pregnant, I have go buy condoms, buy your own pills, and grow up.
Ruth M Bowley
John Boy: Don’t put up the whole post you coward ???
Ruth M Bowley
Ruth M Bowley Yup. I already got your okay.
John Boy: Is your father white any family members white males???? Bigot
Ruth M Bowley In actuality, since this is a public arena, I do not need your permission.
John Boy: She doesn’t even realize that Trump has done alot for gays and supports them . But when your ignorant your ignorant.

John Boy: Your the one who just popped in but that fine I’ve had enough of asshats and pussycaps.

By babykiller and by angery lesbian who couldn’t get a man.
I don’t have a problem with Gay’s never had. But you are what you are angry and you weren’t always a lesbian. I tried to have a civilized conversation but your to much of a bigot. Repost that! Bet you won’t
 
In 1973, when homosexuality was removed from DSM-II, there was a great deal of controversy about that decision in the psychiatric community. Many psychiatrists and psychologists still believed that homosexuality was a psychopathology which must invariably cause impairment and distress. Others recognized that the impairment and distress often seen by clinicians were a byproduct of stigma and social repression of homosexuals. This group argued that the pathologization of homosexuality in the DSM was a form of social control that itself contributed to the social stigma and to the harm it did. See DSM-II_Homosexuality_Revision.pdf
Black Like Me…John Howard Griffin

“Nothing can describe the withering horror of this. You feel lost, sick at heart before such unmasked hatred, not so much because it threatens you as because it shows humans in such an inhuman light. You see a kind of insanity, something so obscene the very obscenity of it (rather than its threat) terrifies you. It was so new I could not take my eyes from the man’s face. I felt like saying: “What in God’s name are you doing to yourself?”

What is ‘Black Like Me’?

Black Like Me, first published in 1961, is a nonfiction book by white journalist John Howard Griffin recounting his journey in the Deep South of the United States, at a time when African-Americans lived under apartheid-like conditions. Griffin was a native of Dallas, Texas, who had his skin temporarily darkened to pass as a black man. He traveled for six weeks throughout the racially segregated states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia to explore life from the other side of the color line. Sepia Magazine financed the project in exchange for the right to print the account first as a series of articles.