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I dressed in black for work today. It matched my mood and I felt emotionally the way I did after 9/11. The flags should be lowered as after any national tragedy. The people around me were unnaturally subdued.

I did wear red and black socks, with flames. I put them on as part of my intentional choices in wardrobe: my prayer bracelets, so I’d have Julian of Norwich and Saint Francis’ prayers and my family with me; the flame socks symbolizing the burning rage I felt.

flamesock

I wore a blue pantsuit to work yesterday. When we passed a line of people at a polling place on the Muni, the stranger next to me and I chatted about looking forward to the results and how we’d both already voted. He was a Hispanic man.

After work, I gathered with good friends to watch the returns and celebrate with sparkling wine in Hillary glasses. We had hotel rooms so we could celebrate and not have to drive.

As results came in, I was saddened but not surprised to see Indiana go so heavily for bigotry and hatred. I was still optimistic until about 8:45 Pacific time. Worry won out and I lost my appetite for food and drink, and was very quickly completely sober.

The level of stress in the room was climbing, and Whisky felt it, and always more nervous around men, barked more, and I became more tense. My anger grew at the margins by which Hillary was trailing in key races – margins less than the number of votes given to 3rd party candidates in key states. I wanted to yell at the TV commentators, at something. Every time Whisky barked I was ready to snap and when I snapped at her, that just made me angrier at myself. A vicious cycle.

I was – and still am – horrified that so many people in the US could support a candidate who exemplifies the worst in us: misogyny, bigotry, racism and xenophobia. I grieve for the damage the President-elect has said he’ll do to the climate that the entire world relies on, and what that means to my nephews and their families. If that happens, it won’t be recoverable. I am heartbroken.

The damage done to the lives of those persecuted, scapegoated and demonized may be irreparable. The damage done to the Presidency and our collective reputation and the values espoused in our Constitution pale in comparison.

Finally, we could not continue to watch. I needed to be alone, so Whisky and I went home. Whisky was anxious and somewhat fearful of me, adding to my distress. I tried to sleep, and woke up multiple times, only to remember what was wrong.

I cried. When two women I know asked how to explain to their young girls that we could elect a person who thinks it’s OK to sexually assault women, and who vilifies people who aren’t white, there are no acceptable answers. A man raising twin four-year-olds with his husband, said he’d read the first thing is to tell your children you’ll keep them safe, and then reinforce the values we teach our children. I work with many people who are first and second-generation immigrants. I was emotionally fragile all day – near tears multiple times.

So, I dressed all in black for work today, except for those red flame socks. My rage has no outlet that I will allow myself to express, without sinking to the level of the President-elect, and that I will not do.

I have read what far more eloquent people have written to process the election results. I read and later watched, the leadership and caring exhibited by Hillary Clinton in her remarks today. Once again, she put service to the country above self. Once again, President Obama showed his grace and ability as a leader, exhorting us to support the President-elect.

I’m not there. Right now, I’m not sure I will ever be able to support the Executive branch while the new President-elect is in office. He’s despicable. I’m closer to The Audacity of Hopelessness from Roxane Gay, and No, Let’s Not Congratulate Him from Connie Schultz than to the speeches either Hillary or Barack made. Especially – and maybe always – what Connie wrote.

My rage still burns, but I’m working to be able to channel it productively. I won’t need to wear the flame socks to remember that. I will use the rage to forge an even more steely resolve to work on what must change.

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October light

October light

It’s said that All Hallows’ / Samhain is a “thin time,” when the separation between the corporeal and spirit worlds is very thin. Celebrated and commemorated through All Saints and Dia de los Muertos rituals, the spirits of those we love but who are no longer living with us are central during this period.

It was very much a liminal few days for me, with thoughts and feelings of loved ones very much present. Halloween, always an excuse for a party in San Francisco, was topped with a parade for the San Francisco Giants World Series victory. It all meant that my city was in a celebratory mood. On November 1st, a neighbor asked me “how was your Halloween?” “Good.” I said, with a smile. His young son was eating candy for breakfast. Actually, I stood on a thin edge.

My emotions were so near the surface that it made being in public a challenge. I cried easily and often, for grief and happiness: grief for my loss and failures, and happiness for the good memories. I included my dad and my dog among those dead to be included in prayers at church. I went from thinking of loved ones to seeing the joy of a family with their 6-day-old child and twin toddlers, and cried for both. I hope people at church just figured I had a cold, based on how often my handkerchief was out.

I felt the blessing of sunshine and the fall breeze on my skin, and missed my dog Phoebe. Phoebe and I would have been together outdoors on a hike or in the garden on such a day. She would have set a quick pace up and down hills a few years ago, but went far more slowly the past few years. Out for a walk at a brisk pace, traveling past our old haunts, I miss her. She’s been gone just 4 months now. At least outdoors, it was sunny enough to wear my Oakley sunglasses, which hid my misty eyes from people on the street.

And then there’s the headache that tends to follow after all that emotion. To give myself a break, I immerse myself in a really good book. Here’s a quote from one by Diana Gabaldon, whose writing made me think of this as a “thin time.”

“This is the thin time, when the beloved dead draw near. The world turns inward, and the chilling air grows thick with dreams and mystery.”
Diana Gabaldon, An Echo in the Bone

On Eureka near 22nd.

On Eureka near 22nd.

Yesterday, I remembered the wishing tree. I was thinking about whether to walk home from my appointment near 18th and and Eureka and it clicked – the wishing tree would be on my way home. That clinched it – I was walking. I wanted to see the tree again. Then I started to remember what I had wished for last year, and my spirits lifted.

Welcome to the wishing tree! Please make a wish and place it in the jar with a slot on its top. In the next days your wish will be on the tree. Words of gratitude are also welcomed. P.S. something happens when we all wish in one place.

I have been frazzled, with multiple projects going at work, trying to wrap up my teaching assistant responsibilities, finishing a project for a Christmas gift, and wanting to enjoy the season – the parties and the quiet joy of a walk at dusk when one can see decorations on the exterior, but also sometimes see into homes with parties and lit trees. Anyway, with all the have-tos, I’ve feeling squeezed on the fun and joy parts over the past couple of weeks. Thinking about the wishing tree is one of those quiet joy moments.

At dusk on my walk home.

At dusk on my walk home.

Although I discovered the wishing tree last year, it has been going on much longer, according to comments I saw on social media last year. It’s at the opposite edge of my neighborhood from my home. Anyway, as I climbed the hill, I was hoping it would be there again, and thinking about what I would write this year. I was also reconnecting to a nugget of joy from earlier in my day – a conversation about employee benefits I can expect to take effect come January.

To some of you, this might seem puzzling. It represents a milestone to me. I spent much of 2009-2012 looking for work. Even though I’ve been working full time (and more) for most of 2013, I was on contract. No benefits, and always knowing I needed to keep looking for work, even when there was no time to do so. Even with this job, which is formalizing the work I’ve been doing full time for the past 3 months or so, there are no guarantees. But roots are important to me, and being officially part of the team will feel good. It still hasn’t happened yet, officially, and I still hesitate to say it out loud, for fear of jinxing it. Four years of almost continuous job searching, whether for full time or consulting roles, takes a toll. For each one, I have to get excited about the possibility of the role in order to write a convincing cover letter, or do well in the interview. Then, if I am not selected, having convinced myself they’d be crazy not to hire me, the letdown is rough. I’d learned to try to gear up for the pitch, then detach from the role and assume it wouldn’t happen. That was necessary to keep looking for other things, too. This role is different. I’ve been doing the job for a while, so I can’t detach from it. My work requires me to assume I will be there next year, to deliver on the commitments I am making now. I am not built to promise what I can’t deliver.

So, back to the wishing tree. When I visited the tree, I was approaching the end of graduate school, with no income for a few months, and knowing that I really needed some solid work. So, my wish last year was for a full time job that sustains me – both spiritually and financially. As I walked over the hill yesterday, I was thinking that last years wish was almost true. The serendipity of talking about benefits that morning, when I would revisit the wishing tree that evening, put a smile on my face.

Written by all ages, wishes range from peace on earth to the latest toy.

As I approached the tree, others were leaving. I don’t know whether they had written their own wishes, or just paused to look. I read some of the wishes hanging from the tree: for peace, for a pony and some special toy, for something about middle school. Then, I looked at the jar – were there tags left? Yes. I picked a green marker and a tag, and wrote my wish. I put it in the slot in the jar, so that it will be laminated and hung from the tree with the others.

What did I write? I said thanks for the help making last years wish come true. As for the rest, I’ll check in next year.

May your heartfelt wishes come true for you.

P.S. The tree is located on Eureka near 22nd Street in San Francisco.

I just finished weaving in the tail end on my spiderweb shawl this morning. I actually finished the crocheted border about a week ago, but didn’t want to take on the weaving-in at night. I did get some done watching/listening to NCAA basketball games, and finished it while watching Skyfall on DVD. I got much better at keeping the slippery yarn on the slippery crochet hook, and did establish a feel for the pattern, so I didn’t have to stop and count stitches as often. It may have taken me 20 hours to finish, but I really didn’t keep track.

I look forward to wearing it this afternoon – it is silky-soft and so fine it compresses into scarf size.

Now that it’s finished, I will miss the work of it – the feel of the soft fiber slipping around my fingers – and leaving a blue stain behind, and the rhythm of the stitches. If you want more information on the pattern and materials, you can find those here.

I will have to come up with another project, but not just yet. Life is a little crazy just now. Of course, that may be the best reason to find another knitting project.

 

Hexagonal lace shawl knitted with hand-dyed indigo silk fiber from A Verb for Keeping Warm.

Hexagonal lace shawl knitted with hand-dyed indigo silk fiber from A Verb for Keeping Warm.