How do I even?

This needs to be put into words.  It is November of 2016.  Donald Trump has been elected to be our next president of the united states of America.  And I am scared to death.  I hope I am wrong.  I fear I am right.  I put this down in case I am right.

It’s 2016.  Right now,  we still have some semblance of civil liberties.  Obama has created a health plan for Americans, but that is now in jeopardy.  The Supreme Court hangs in limbo, there is one vacancy that needs to be filled that the congress is balking on Obama filling.  I hope Obama fills the vacancy and screw the congress.  I believe he has the right.

Dark days are coming.  Ruth Bader Ginsberg, I don’t have much hope that she will outlive a donald trump term.  god bless her soul.  she should have resigned in the middle of obamas term, though.  Dark days.

Saturday Night Live did a satire about him, and he demanded an apology and equal time.  a harbinger?  The loss of first amendment rights?  The beginning of the end?

he wants a wall.

he wants a muslim registry.

he is stacking his cabinet with white supremacists.

he is asking for top security clearance for his children, who will also be running his businesses.  wtf?  loopholes much?

i just want to put this in writing, in case i forget who i am in the future.

i hope to HELL the country doesn’t become dystopian enough that i ever have to remind myself of these things.

i care about Muslims being able to pray.

i care about Jews being able to pray.

i believe Black Lives Matter.

i think a wall along our southern border is WRONG.

i WILL provide a safe space for those who need a refuge.

i sure as fuck hope i’m being melodramatic and this all blows over after four years.

 

 

Sippy Cup

The sippy cup rolls on the floor.

I wonder what kind of life you will have?  

Your father with his beard

his bright shirt

his black vest

his bowl haircut

your kerchief

your cherubic cheeks

your family on the train

playing  cards in the club car

drinking sodas

or is it water

i don’t know

but is it

that

you are one of the only children

who doesn’t squall

on the train

you seem

so happy

your father is doting on you

holding you

singing songs to you

you are stroking his beard

his strange beard

his Amish beard

Decay

lightning bolts fingers sizzling static uncontrolled

just try to butter a piece of toast this way

or button your jacket

like you’d chugged a gallon of coffee

with a side of sugar

electrified

jitters

“oh, geez, I guess I had too much coffee….ha….”

but I had none…

i really had none. 

I have essential tremor

the kate hepburn syndrome

the booze helps 

but it kills your liver

plus they frown on it at work

so what do you do?  

if you work with your hands? 

get fired for drinking?

or get fired because you can’t solder anymore?

Fitter Girl

Dripping wet, 98 pounds, it’s summer, carrying steel from one side of the room to the other.

“hey, fitter girl, why you want to do this?”   I think to myself, “she wants a baby and we can’t live on a woman’s pay”

I say, “I was unhappy sitting behind a desk.”

“hey, fitter girl, I thought “take your daughter to work day was YESTERDAY!”  (laughter)

I continue working.

Home, soaking wet, exhausted, bruises on my shoulders from carrying pipes.

“kathy, can you go get me mac donalds?”

“ok.”

“hey, fitter girl?  can you bring me a left handed pipe wrench?”

My middle finger goes up.

I decide I need to focus on something to be valuable.  Because being a 98 pound girl won’t cut it.  I decide I’m going to be a kick butt welder.  I go to the hall and practice for hours each night.  I get decent.
Time for a new job site.  New foreman, I’ve never met him before.  “you ain’t like M.W. are you?  ’cause she’s an asshole and you better not be like her.”

I don’t know her, but I’m my own person and hopefully not an asshole.”

“hey fitter girl? do you wanna suck me off?”

I carry a core drill up a ladder because there’s no stairway yet.  No I don’t want to suck you off.  “she wants a baby, that’s why I’m doing this.”  

Home.  She hasn’t brushed her hair.  There’s food in the garbage disposal from yesterday.  She’s playing video games.  “can you get me Mac Donalds?”

“ok.”

it’s raining, next day on the job site.  Mud.  slogging.  The welder doesn’t show up.  My chance.  I say to the foreman, “I can weld.”

~skeptical look across his face~….”okay, let’s see what you’ve got.”

New machine, plugs it in.  I put on my welding hood, I’m going to totally impress him.  The rod spits and sputters, just won’t run right.  I felt sick.  Terrified that maybe I didn’t know how to weld after all.

“it’s not working right.”   He curses and puts on the hood, picks up the stinger, and lo and behold, doesn’t work for him either.

Machine was hooked to the wrong voltage.

“hey, fitter girl?  you shouldn’t be welding.  you shouldn’t be here.”

I was up near the ceiling.  Somehow a shower of sparks happened to fall on the guy who said that.

Foreman:  “you won me over, you have that line over there to weld, I’ll give you K.Z. to pimp.”

Home.  It’s my thirtieth birthday.  She throws a twenty at me and tells me to buy something.  Lovely.

“she wants a baby but I don’t think she’d be a good Mom.” 

“hey, fitter girl?  Wanna go out with me?”

not really.

My welding hood drops and he’s gone and she’s gone and all that exists is the glowing puddle of metal.  Salvation.  Resurrection.  Zen.  Meditation.  Peace.

“hey, fitter girl?  You’re ok.”

“I’m damned good, is what I am.”  

 

 

Elaine Adams

I was in class and heard that it was a substitute teacher, it was math class.  I walked in to class and saw a woman dressed to the hilt like it was thirty years prior.  Cat glasses.  Heels.  Everything was a flashback from the fifties.  And me, not being able to hear, was fixated on the flashback.  And excruciatingly aware of how bad the rest of my classmates were treating her.

My classmates also treated me badly, I was the lowest on the pecking order.  Bullied quite a bit.  High school sucked.  So I empathized with Ms. Adams.  She’d teach for a couple days, then the regular teacher would come back.

The students were horrible to her.  I think because she was several decades behind, appearance/fashion wise.  So stupid.  I saw her  close to tears several times.  I reached out to her.  As, just, “I’m as demonized as you are.”

I was just trying to survive.  It surprised me when she took me under her wing.  She took me to mother/daughter events.  She showed an interest in my success.

Elaine.

I struggled in math.  She tutored me.

Elaine.

She had no daughter.  I went with her to the mother/daughter event at her church.

Elaine.

My brother told me that NASA would call her and she’d do math problems that nobody else could figure out.

Elaine.

Sabrina called me and I saw Elaine in myself.

I mentored Sabrina.

Elaine.

I looked her up today and found out she had died in 2014.  I also found out that she was quite the philanthropist.  And that she took a special interest in women and girls succeeding in math.

Elaine.

Was she a lesbian?

Elaine.

It doesn’t matter if she was a lesbian or not, she loved and wanted girls to succeed.

Elaine.

Happy Mothers Day, Elaine!

From your adopted daughter, Kathy.
I made it.  Hopefully I can help others as you helped me.

The deaf kids

I was one of the deaf kids.  I always kind of felt separated from my so-called peers.  I’d look up and people would be staring at me and laughing and I would have no idea why.

I’d go to use the bathroom and the other girls would circle around the stall I was in and chant, “stare, stare, I don’t care, you’ve got dirty underwear”.

Did they say this because I was staring because I had to read lips?

I think because I couldn’t hear people and I had to read lips, people thought I was staring at them and also kind of stupid because I wouldn’t always understand what they were saying.

Needless to say, childhood, being “mainstreamed” was kind of hellish for me.

I had to go to speech therapy for a long time.  I think I was in fifth or sixth grade before it was decided that I could speak well enough to get along.  I had particular trouble with the letter, “S”.

Once or twice a year, for reasons I didn’t know at the time, my parents would load me in a car.  We’d go someplace, sometimes a house, sometimes a school cafeteria, sometimes a restaurant.  What I remember about these times is relief.  I was surrounded by other deaf kids.  Other kids who knew what my life was.  Matthew.  Shelley.  Robbie.  Others whose names I do not remember.

Those were times I cherished.  Times when I wasn’t on the outside.  Times when I was just as good as everybody else.  Times when I wasn’t ridiculed for not being able to hear.

I miss those kids.  I lost contact with them.  This makes me sad.

I am sure that those nights, what I thought was just play-times with other deaf kids, was probably a support group for parents of deaf kids.

I remember there was an auction one year, and my family donated a lot of things to the auction.  I don’t know what the auction was benefitting.

I am so glad my parents took part in whatever group this was, just because it gave me the chance to interact with other kids who were like me.

I think I am a better person for my hearing issues, but yes, I’d love for it to go away.

I want to reconnect with the other deaf kids who were part of that group, but I have no idea how.

I limp along in my life today, and the hearing continues to be a detriment.  One day.  One day, I hope this can change.

 

 

 

 

 

To the “little” heroes

This is all about the unsung heroes.  The ones who do the small things that change lives, with no expectation of repayment.

When I was nineteen, I was in a far-away town, going to college, driving an old rickety car.  I was pulled over one day by a police officer.

“What’s wrong, officer?”
“You have no brake lights.”
“oh, gosh, that’s dangerous.”
“Pull over into this parking lot.” 

So, I pulled into this parking lot and he followed behind me.  “It’s probably a fuse. The fuse block is located here.”  points to the area below my steering column.

Sure enough, it was a fuse.  He could have given me a ticket.  Instead he chose to help me.  This would have been in Winona, Minnesota in 1987 or 1988.  I still remember this small act of kindness.  Wherever he is, I want to thank him.

One of the “little” heroes.  He didn’t have to help me.  He didn’t have to tell me about car fuses.  It took him about ten minutes out of his day.  But he showed a stranger a small kindness.

Also in the same general time-period, perhaps a little later, 1988 or 1989, I was newly married, also in Winona, Minnesota.  I was not mechanically savvy, and my husband, less so.  We lived in a little trailer on the outskirts of town, we had paid 2500 for it, fully furnished, and it was a wedding gift from his mother.  We were dirt poor.  One day in the middle of winter, the furnace wouldn’t work.  I happened to be at a friend’s house babysitting.  Brian called me at Tammy’s house.

“the furnace is dead, there is no heat.  Stay there for tonight.”  

I drive there in the morning.  He’s sleeping in the kitchen using the oven for heat.  We scrape together all the spare change and cash we have.  We come up with about $30.00.  He has to go to work.  He tells me to go and buy a space heater.

I go to the hardware store.  Not knowing anything about electricity, I buy the best space heater $30.00 would buy.  (hey, it was thirty years ago, almost!)

I get home.  Take the space heater out of the box.  It’s got a weird plug on it, and I can’t plug it into any of our outlets!  (wrong voltage, I’m imagining).

I take it back to the hardware store in tears.  But I know nothing about electricity, so I can’t figure out what space heater I need, or what to do.  I was pacing the aisles and crying for probably a half hour or so.

“Ma’am?  What’s wrong?”

I blurted out my situation.

“hang on, I get off work in an hour, I’ll come over.”

He came to our trailer, with an electrical meter, and figured out our furnace problem, and asked NOTHING in exchange.  Just a thank-you and a hug, was all he wanted.

He was a “little” hero.  He didn’t donate tons of money, he didn’t give his life.  He gave an hour of his day to a stranger who had no means to pay him back.

A few years later.  I was a second year steamfitter apprentice.  My car wouldn’t start.  It was towed to a garage, I hesitate to say which one, in case I get somebody in trouble.  But it was a large-ish garage on the far east side of Madison, Wisconsin.  The mechanic, a younger man, recognized that I was desperate, and couldn’t afford to pay much money, took me aside, gave me a great big long screwdriver, and showed me how to jumper the starter solenoid, so I could start the car.

“Just bring it back here for me to fix when you can afford it.”

For six months or better I was starting that car with that screwdriver.

Another “little” hero.

To all of you, I hope this goes viral (it probably won’t since not many people follow this blog), but if you see this and recognize yourself……

THANK YOU.

Twenty, twenty-five years later, I still remember that little kindness you showed me.

 

THANK YOU.