On Being Liberal

People look at me with big Joker smiles and visibly quiver with aggression. Every argument they’ve stored up for this moment, moving there just under the surface of their skin like angry alien larvae waiting to burst forth.

Their alternate reality paints me the alien.

Their hate fuels my fire.


TPD: Six

I almost missed the lilacs. The lilacs that never ever bloomed under a towering old red oak that took everything of value from the soil, and ate up all the sun from the sky. Never bloomed…until the oak came down. I know there’s a metaphor for my life in there somewhere.

I almost missed the lilacs. Should have looked for them a few days earlier. But I did find them. Faded to a shade of dust, shedding tiny blossoms, like snow. Still fragrant.

One whiff and it’s summer. One whiff and I am twelve again. Picking armloads of them to scatter throughout the house in cans and jars scavenged from my mother’s kitchen. The biggest bouquet squirreled away to my own room, up the steep stairs.

I almost missed the lilacs.

KJSmith/040920

 

 

The Pandemic Diaries: Five

A few days ago, just before the governor signed a stay at home order, I ran out one evening and picked up take-out. I did this with absolutely stuffed-to-the-gills pantry, fridge, and freezers. I did not need take-out. I was just feeling lazy and didn’t want to cook.

That was wrong. I was wrong.

Yesterday I ran across a post from a local guy who had tagged all his favorite small shops and eateries and encouraged people to “go out and get a nice meal and take it to the park, have a nice dinner out with the family. Support these small local businesses.”

What the hell?!
No.
What part of staying home are people not understanding?

I’m pretty sure STAYING ALIVE is more important right now than supporting your favorite mom and pop pizza place. Leaving their homes to feed you puts them at risk, as does you leaving your home to pick it up.

Those salads I picked up last week? I have no idea what germs might have been on those plastic containers, wrappers, utensils, bags. The person at the drive thru window was unmasked, ungloved, as was everyone I’ve seen at stores and restaurants up to that point.

We’re those salads worth my life?

Nope.

Our only focus at the moment should be trying not to die.

Businesses will  be lost.

Bank accounts will  dwindle.

But we’ll be here when it’s over.
We’ll be here, damn it.

We can can figure out how to get through the financial and emotional aftermath later.

But we have to survive it.

Stay The Fuck Home.

KJSmith/040620

The Pandemic Diaries: Three

I’m taking a break from my much loved social media, at least for the weekend. (Let’s call it what it is…my addiction.)  I just can’t stand all the carelessness; the utter disregard for anyone else that I’m seeing  there, on Instagram and Facebook…can’t abide all the Twitter snark. The bullying. So much ignorance.

This blog was started as a place where I could leave all the extra little things in my head. All the little snippets my brain writes when I’m not even trying. I don’t know what it’s going to be from here on out.

But stick around, because whatever it becomes will always be real, brutally honest, and maybe, sometimes, even beautiful.

KJSmith/032820

 

The Pandemic Diaries: Two

I have a small favor to ask. Will you help me?
Okay, ready? Here goes:

I want you to have some respect for the rest of humanity.
You’re young and invincible…but…
THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU.
Do you get that? This is about all the people who are not
Young…Invincible
It’s not just about protecting older people
It’s also about protecting young people who have health problems.

This is about protecting everybody.

Everybody you know. 


This isn’t about the world you’ll inherit someday
It’s about the one we’re living in right now.
It’s grossly uncaring, even inhumane
For anyone to be out living their lives like it’s a normal day.
It’s not a normal day. It may not be for a while.
But that’s okay. This whole thing could be okay…

If you’ll just Stay Home.
If you’ll just stop socializing in groups.

Here’s your generation’s chance to Save The World.


♤♤♤


If I die because of this…if my husband dies…
don’t come to my funeral with tears in your eyes.

Come to our funeral with an apology on your lips.

An apology that will be too late.


And God forgive you.

I won’t.

KJSmith/032720

The Pandemic Diaries: One

 

 

There is so much I want to write about. The need to spew all my frustration and rage onto the page is almost overwhelming. But, at the moment, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around all of this. I don’t consider myself a real blogger, as only a handful of people ever see this page…I am a real writer, though. Unpublished, little read, except by friends, yet still writing. I’ve been leaving pieces of myself on bits and pages of paper since I was 14 years old. So here I am, again.

I cannot say that anything here will make a lot of sense. This will read more like a stream of consciousness diary entry. So, bear with me. This isn’t about the artfulness of each individual entry, but it’s about the bigger picture. The legacy of words I will leave wafting through the ether.

I’m not generally a fearful person, but more of a “suck it up, buttercup” type. Life throws shit at me and I get on with it. Sometimes I survive through my own wit, wisdom, and tenacity. Sometimes it’s been pure luck. Just being in the right place at the right time, or coincidentally being acquainted with the right people. Either way, I’ve just smiled through gritted teeth and got through it.

What’s happening now terrifies me. For maybe the first time in my life I don’t have a solution, or not much of one anyway.

My fantasy solution would be a fully stocked bunker hidden in the mountains with enough supplies to last about six months. What I actually have is a kitchen pantry stuffed with about 2-3 weeks worth of food, and 6 weeks worth of our prescription medication. Oh, and a full tank of gas in my old Honda.

(…and toilet paper. Enough for a month. Do not ask me to share.)

 

That’s it. That’s what my husband and I have going into this new nightmare.

We aren’t walking into this with perfect health and young, resilient bodies. We are marching into this pandemic with just a very little bit of hope. Hope that our friends and neighbors value our lives enough to stay home and not risk infecting us or anyone else. Hope that employers realize that lives are more important than money, and do the right thing by closing their businesses temporarily…even if our leaders don’t have the nerve, backbone, or balls to insist upon it themselves. Hope that everyone we care about comes through unscathed.

Hope that we ourselves will survive.

We may not be youthful, but our dreams are. Our lives may not be new, but they’re still worthy.

♤♤♤

Last night I let the dogs out for “last call” and after putting them back in the house, I remained out on the porch for a few minutes. The night air smelled wonderful, the scent of the neighbors fresh cut grass still lingering on the breeze. I sat down on the front steps, leaned back against the porch post and looked up into the budding limbs of the oak tree, trying to find stars in a cloudy sky. Would this be one of the last times I’d smell cut grass? Maybe.

I closed my eyes and took a deeper breath.

Dramatic? No. Realistic. The situation is beyond my ability to control. I don’t think any of us will come out of this unscathed.

I’ll settle for simply coming out of it alive.

KJSmith/032320

Politics or just Hate?

Yesterday we went to “Family Day” where my husband works. While not our usual ‘cup of tea’, it was cute, and not a bad way to spend a couple of hours. I got to tour the buildings, and see exactly what he does all day. There were bounce houses for the kids and food trucks…a dunk tank manned by the bosses…that sort of thing. It wasn’t a bad time, even though I didn’t know very many people.

We did bump into one of his best friends, someone I’ve known for years. His wife was there, as was his grown daughter and her toddler son. I actually have very little in common with these people, but I’ve always enjoyed their company. The daughter (let’s call her Abby) used to cut my husband’s hair, and eventually became my stylist also, until she quit and moved on to a different career. Abby and I were never besties, but she was always pleasant and respectful.

Yesterday, she was blatantly rude and dismissive, while her parents greeted us with strained smiles and few words. Abby went out of her way to avoid us numerous times throughout the day after the rather short, forced greeting. It took me till this morning to figure out why

I know that I have vastly different opinions on politics and religion than most of the people I rub shoulders with every day. I’m liberal, living in a very conservative place, so I tend to keep my mouth shut just to keep the peace. Abby is a redneck. She proudly displays the rebel flag across all her public social media accounts glorifying hate, while also claiming to be a ‘good Christian’. I’ve never had her as a ‘friend’ on social media, though she and I did follow each other on Instagram, where I post mostly just my own photography, and she posts mostly pictures of her kid.

I’ve never exposed her or her parents to my vehement political ramblings and rants. Abby’s dad is one of my husband’s best friends at work. They’ve worked together for somewhere in the vicinity 30 years. I’ve kept my real thoughts to myself when in their presence. We’ve never discussed politics. (I’ve had my entire life to learn how to tune out any random ‘redneckishness’, as I am southern by birth and raising and am related to a lot of good ‘ol boys and girls.) I didn’t think there was any way that Abby could actually know the scope of my liberalism.

But then I remembered one random photo I posted on Instagram. It’s a picture of a Pete Buttigieg campaign sticker on the back of my car. Probably the only political thing I’ve ever posted there. Abby must have seen it…Abby, who has never ‘liked’, or even seemed to notice, anything I’ve ever posted there, has made the conscious choice to be rude to us based solely on a political bumper sticker. There will be no intelligent discussion on the matter. No respectful banter between acquaintances.

Then this morning I wake up to the news that students at Georgia Southern University burned the books of a Cuban-American author following a lecture about acceptance and diversity. (Link below)

I love my southern friends and family, but I’m sick and tired of some southerners showing their asses…their very hateful asses. Making the south, as a whole, look bad. Making us a running joke.

I’m proud of my very deep pioneering roots in this nation. We came here for religious and political freedom and acceptance, but a lot of us want to deny these very same things to absolutely everyone who isn’t like us. Too many people have forgotten the truth of this country’s founding. Or maybe they never even understood it to begin with. They didn’t really listen in History class, I guess.

So, Abby and her family can go their way. I don’t care beyond being sad that she’s raising a child to hate.

There are a lot of things I still don’t understand about being human…I don’t understand the ‘why’ of a lot of things…but I know that we should at least try to be kind. I admit, I don’t always achieve that myself… But I know for certain that we should reach out and help other humans live a decent life. Not just humans who look like us…think like us…love like us…LIVE like us.

It is indecent and inhumane to do anything less.

KJSmith101319

https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/11/us/georgia-southern-university-book-burning/index.html

City

Every once in a while, I miss being in the city. A city. I’ll miss being out with friends late at night…walking out of a loud bar into the relative quiet of the street…bundled in my coat, breathing cold night air…drunken laughter, our faces glowing golden in the street lights.

We all looked happy in that light…were happy.

But the golden glow was lost with dawn, and the hangover, and time.

Eventually, most of us left the city. Or maybe it was just me. In any case, we all moved on, moved away, to lives and places where we tuck ourselves in tight behind our doors as the sun sets. We light our faces with a bluer glow, and drink grocery store wine from a warm corner of the sofa.

Every once in a while…

I miss being in the city.

KJSmith 91219

(Photo cred: noukka signe/unsplash)

Ever

This is how I feel. I think the life we’re living right now is pretty damn beautiful and amazing…even on the shitty days, at least you’re here and you’re breathing and being.

I’m not one of these people who’s gonna lay there on my deathbed and say “I’ve had a good life, I’m done, go ahead and unplug me.”

Fuck no. Keep that shit plugged in…freeze my silly ass if you have to until they find a cure for whatever the hell is trying to get me.

And if, in the meantime, they perfect a way to put human consciousness into a perfect shiny robot body…hell yeah…go for it!

Because I won’t ever be done here.

Ever.

https://instagram.com/quantum.world.awaken.your.mind?igshid=d4vxne22iszw

On edge

Hard to believe it’s August already. Summer will soon be shifting into the weird transitional limbo we get in the south…Not still summer/not yet fall.

I grew up in a place where seasons were very specific. Edges carved in stone.

Fifty years deeper into climate change and 600 miles closer to the equator and things have changed a bit. The seasons are connected and overlapping…a Venn diagram of nature and weather and time.

But damn, I miss the edges.

KJSmith/080119