El Milagro: Came in at 4 and got stuck by Nurse Kim, who said, “Do you mind if I stick you?” in her quiet, tentative Vietnamese-influenced voice. Kim was the first person who ever cannulated me back in April and we talked about that briefly: “You were the first person to stick me.” “I remember that day. You’re a vet now.” We talked about her baby, who is 6 months old already, and all the baby books she got for Christmas. I told her that I have a friend who is adopting a child from Vietnam and we discussed international adoption for a few minutes. Kim wondered why anyone would adopt from overseas since there are so many babies needing homes here. She says her husband wants her to talk Vietnamese to their baby, but she doesn’t want to. She says it’s too hard to think about speaking Vietnamese now that she speaks English all the time. In her world there is no one to practice her first language with so she is shy about using it with the new baby. She seems to me to want to be completely acculturated and not look back. We in my profession have spent much time encouraging people to hold on to their roots and their non-dominant culture, yet many of the actual people from those cultures are lured by the American Dream. They get sucked into the hypnotic allure of becoming part of the Master Narrative of the dominant class (see Hans’ comment on Post # 26 last July). I didn’t reply in any confrontive or educative way to Nurese Kim’s statement… just accepted it and questioned the ethics of my being the monkey with hands over his ears.
Later: So, it is a new year. 2007! I still catch myself thinking we’re in 1977 once in awhile. 1977; 1997; 2007… they really all feel the same to me. The only markers of change are the growth of the kids and the advent of email. There’s B.E. (before email) and A.E. (after email). What was life like before email? I can hardly remember. How did we do business without email? Did I really call people long distance? I remember FAXing notices out around the state: we had long auto-dialing lists of FAX numbers and that FAX machine was just rattling along at a delirious clip. Since email came along in 91 (to me), I have had more regular contact with my dad. I would hardly ever call him… but since he and I both got AOL email early on, our communications grew to about 1 or 2 times a month! For the first few years we emailed like people would write or converse... back and forth. Now it seems like I back and forth and he only forths. So I usually don't know if he has read my emails or not, but I assume he has... just as I assume he reads this blog.
So when my mind drifts and I get unstuck in time and catch myself wondering briefly if it’s ’77 or ’97, one of the things that I can grab onto is thinking about email. Otherwise, it could be ’77 again, right here in the present. In 1977 I was starting graduate school as a stoned-out West Texas hipboy (some sort of cross between a hippy and cowboy). I had the world by the tail back then; I was confident in my profession as a social worker and starting graduate school for social workers and everything seemed to be going just right. My actions, thoughts, and feelings were all in synch with what I was doing and that made me supremely happy. It was an exciting time in my life and now, looking back on it, I realize it was less of a turning point and more of a bending point. My values and ideas were bent by graduate school in ways that have stayed with me since: really a bending into the profession and the belief system of social work more than a taking on of new theories. Also, graduate school brought together a class of people who I really respected and have been proud to be acquainted with (for the most part) ever since. In many ways, it’s been like riding a Utopian Wave for the past thirty years.
Even Later: ....that’s what I am getting around to saying: that I am grateful and happy to have had such a charmed life. Even in the worst times I have been lucky enough to have good friends who cared for me as much as I cared for them. We were our own cosmic family. We held each other and listened to each other and encouraged each other through our foibles, failures, and our heartbreaks. And we waited together and looked forward to better times and those times have inevitably come. (Am I just going on like this because we finally won the Congress?). In the best times we have partied and celebrated life in as many of the wild and fulfilling ways there are to be imagined. The other night Liz said, looking back over the past year, that it had been a hard one, especially last Spring, and I nodded knowingly, although I am really jumping up and down with joy inside…. just thrilled to continue being here. We (I) have so much to be thankful for that I have a hard time looking back and thinking it was so bad. Plus, Lizzie says I don’t even remember how bad it was (lucky me). It’s much easier for me to look around myself right now and say, “Look what we have! The weather is sunny. I have the afternoon off (It’s actually January 5th in the afternoon as I am writing this home part of this piece) and I can hear two ten-year old silly girls rolling around upstairs amid giggles and the occasional scream. What could be better? Having several of Kay’s cookies left to eat right now… that would be better.”
When I stay completely in the present everything is just fine. Last year maybe it was a rough one, but I can only think about it in the present and right now all is well. Maybe we have pain and heartache and scary, worrisome times to look forward to, but right now, typing on these keys and hearing the girls playing and seeing the dog sniffing around at my feet, all is well. I can bring myself even more into the present when I breathe… and that feels right and perfect too.
I talked to Johnny in Hawaii a little while ago and hearing him report that he got the box, ate Kay’s cookies, played with the pendulum man, and is on his way to Waimea Bay to body surf…. what a great report for a DAD to hear from his wandering son. Actually, just hearing his voice makes it a good day.
So, let’s hope for a new year better than the last one, and let’s remember to appreciate what we have in every moment. Let’s treat others the way we want to be treated. Let’s live and let live. Let’s remember that all the blessings already are.
I can’t help it. I just have to throw out this old hippy wish that I used to write on my holiday cards back in the flower-power days: May the sun shine upon you, all love surround you, and the pure light within you guide your way.
Notes: For newcomers, there is a review of the basic structure of this Blog at Post #47, which you can access by clicking on "August" on the sidebar under "Archives".