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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Reading Matter

Ever since that awful week, The Amazing Bob’s last on this blue marble Earth, I haven’t been reading my usual political blogs as much. Of course!

Trump and his band of butthurt, violent, angry white male followers are, yes, scary as all hell but, next to the blinding pain of losing TAB…meh. They seem pretty damned irrelevant. Trump’s not gonna win in November and, hopefully, the Senate and maybe even (I hope, I hope, I HOPE) the House will go blue as well.

This will only happen if all us sane folk get out and VOTE though. Do it! On November ninth, this disgustingly miscreant piece of revoltingly vile humanity and all his dimwitted minions should be no more than sad jokes. They are, and I'm being way charitable here, embarrassments to the human race.

Instead of reading about all that, I’m paying a lot more attention to my kittens. Of course I am. They miss our Amazing Bob – the once and future king of cat cosseters – almost as much as I do. Just FYI, yesterday was the seven week point. I've been without my MOST wonderful and incredible Bob for seven weeks now. Every day is like driving on pitted, unpaved roads through a mine field...in a car with busted struts.

So, instead of Trumpian outrage/idiocy/crimes against humanity du jour, I’ve been following John Cole of Balloon Juice’s pet rescue tales. Jesus, the man’s a saint.

He recently found a grossly neglected, abused dog living in a fixer upper he’d just purchased. John began feeding, caring for and just generally loving up this poor boy. He named him Walter, took him to the vet a number of times and found him a forever home. Walter’s close to being healthy and happy now, thanks to John’s care.

This, this is more helpful reading right now.

What else am I eyeballing? Just finished Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man by that side of ham, masquerading as an actor, William Shatner and his co-"author," David Fisher. Interesting read at points but two things stuck out:
1) Do major publishing houses no longer employ proofreaders and editors? There were more than a few examples of graceless sentence structure and incorrect word usage. Thomas Dunne Books is a McMillan imprint. They couldn’t bother to edit a celebrity authored, sure-to-be-bestseller or did they just cheap out, figuring that Trekkies wouldn’t notice?
2) I would’ve liked to have read more about Nimoy and Shatner’s relationship. Yes, they were chums for a long time but, ya know, MORE anecdotes, pleez! The book mostly skimmed the surface, talking more about the business – Shatner and Nimoy’s careers. Yawn – read this already!
I’m just about done. Next book in my pile is Red Queen by Christina Henry. This story follows her book Alice which I LOVED!

Escapism – I'm all about that shit right now. That and sitting on the seawall steps at dawn. You're welcome.

Monday, August 22, 2016

What Damn Season Are We In?!

When is football season? Now that my beloved Amazing Bob is gone, I don’t know. Why is this important? It’s not really. I’m just remembering late August days when I’d come inside to find him engrossed in a game that was NOT baseball. I’d begin my annual rant.
It’s still baseball season dammit! Why are these steroidal freaks on TV now? It's not fucking time yet! Hell’s bells, it’s 85º out. You can’t play football in hot weather – it’s got to be played when the leaves begin to change color and there’s a crispness to the air. BASEBALL. It’s baseball season! Dammit!
And then, my beautiful TAB would smile that beautiful, transcendent smile of his  – enjoying the theatrics as I faux-stormed upstairs to read.

Officially, football begins on begin on Thursday, September 8, 2016 but pre-season games have already happened.

On Thursday, August 11, the Saints lost to the Pats 22 –34
On my birthday, August 18th, the Bears lost to the Pats 22 – 23

TAB would be happy about this. Me? I don’t care for football but I mentioned that already.

Baseball season isn’t officially over until Sunday, October 2, 2016. So there.

From The Amazing Bob:

Beautiful Catch
While playing left field last week
I made an elegant, leaping, last second catch;
The ball slapped securely into my glove,
But my timing was off: I made the catch
About 20 years to late.
I crashed to the grass like a tranquilized giraffe.
My knee is healing slowly.
The pain remains like a string around my finger,
reminds me that even amateur athletes
must age gracefully
or pay Father Time
Leg-breaker rates.
8/92

Baseball isn’t a life and death matter but the Red Sox are.
~ Mike Barnicle

Here are two other recently found poems of TAB’s.
Several Ways of Saying Different Things
I.
Being married was like taking a foreign language course
that I never passed, never completed, never quite understood,
“What time is it?”
“The pen of my aunt is on the table.”
“If you really loved me you…”
Fill in the blank
II.
I was like one of those characters in the Wizard of Oz
looking for my soul
but not really sure I had one.
Dorothy never showed up
so I did the dishes every day.
III.
My parents never had food fights:
They ate, cleaned their plates
then threw the dishes at each other.
IV.
My wife couldn’t get what she wanted from me
So she turned to food.
The food ate her.
V.
It took nearly fifty years but I’m learning to take nourishment.
I never knew it could taste this good
2/91

Just FYI, the wife in the poem above is TAB’s first one. Not me…just so’s ya know.

Italian Countess (for Donna)
She’s a tough Italian Countess though some folks don’t know her name;
She’s a real committed artist; you can see her joy and pain.
She could’ve lived in Paris hangin’ out with Jean Paul Satre
But went instead to Pittsburgh learning how to do her art.
She settled down in Boston, got a condo and a cat;
Don’t treat her like a yokel ‘cause she’ll tell you where it’s at.
Plays baseball when she wants to, likes to get inside my head;
She’ll cook for me on Sundays – or I’ll cook for her instead.
I love the way she giggles; drives me crazy when she cries;
She plays classics on her flute; got the most delicious thighs.
I love it when she’s playful, adore her when she’s wise.
Spent a lot of time adrift in the magic of her eyes.
She’s a sweet Italian Countess; Lord, I dig her style in bed.
She’s good for me like music, like a loaf of home-baked bread.
We’re learning how to argue, how to share and when to trust;
Learned to pick out shades of grey, and I’ll want her till I’m dust.
7/90

This is my 56th day without The Amazing Bob. Life without him is a thin, pale, molto sad, dull thing and, boyhowdy, that’s a colossal understatement.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

On Becoming Homeless (while deaf)

I asked Felicity, How did you become homeless? What was the lead up?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In 2011 I had been living in Allston with three guys. A cab driver/artist, a stoner who worked at the Tootsie factory, and a scumbag piece of shit who worked in sales at the Herald.

I had moved to Allston in February 2010. In 2009 I had a swift and drastic hearing loss in my "good" ear (already deaf in the other). I left Western, MA to be closer to MGH and the Neurofibromatosis clinic. I'd heard about a clinical trial for Avastin, which could possibly restore my hearing. I wanted to participate.

In 2008-2009 I was working at Springfield Public Schools as a substitute teacher. I had intended to go back to school and get licensure to become an actual teacher. I wanted to teach English as a Second Language. I had my preliminary teaching license and needed my subject license. My best friend's wife is a teacher and gave me tons of resources and study materials.Then when I learned the test was administered by audio, I bailed. My hearing was way too far gone.

At the same time the Springfield Public School System didn't ask me to return. My hearing was total shit and I had no control over the kids – I subbed at the high school level. I also required tons of days off for MRI's, Audiograms and other medical needs.

So when the school system didn't ask me to come back, I filed for unemployment but was told substitutes are not eligible for unemployment. I'd always been good with money and had enough savings to move to Boston and set up while I looked for a job.

I never found a job even though I worked tirelessly sending applications. I applied for sub jobs in Boston and Cambridge on a weekly basis. One thing about being deaf – you'll find most people will refuse email contact. This happens with apartment hunting as well.

I lived on the little savings I had. My dad told me I should apply for Social Security. The Social Security Administration had the audacity to tell me "you can hear," and they denied my application. I had sent them doctor's notes from MGH and audiograms from MEEI, and they had the fucking balls to call me a liar!

Unbelievable!
Editors note: !!!!!!!!!!!
I was in Allston for 17 months. Twice I almost ran out of money, and thought I was doomed. Once I made it through with funds from my tax-return. Another time, I "struck gold" when I remembered a little money I had stashed in a 401K.

Finally on July 1st of 2011, I was totally broke. The timing could not have been better because a couple weeks earlier my scumbag roommate assaulted his girlfriend in our apartment.

I was awoken, one night, by a deep, visceral growling noise. I got up to investigate and outside my bedroom door, scumbag John was growling at his girlfriend and she was bawling. I asked, "what's going on out here?" John just looked at me and they both moved up the stairs to his room.

I woke up the next morning and saw cop cars and a paddy wagon on the street below. I went outside my room and saw a trail of blood going down the stairs. I looked out the window again, and Johns girlfriend was crying hysterically talking to the police. Meanwhile John was in handcuffs, being led into the paddy wagon. The police entered our apartment and interviewed me. I told them what had happened the night before.

Later that day John returned to our apartment. He showed no remorse or shame for beating his girlfriend. I learned later that he also threatened to kill her. It was his girlfriend who had bailed him out.
Editors note: !!!!!!!!!!! Jesus. Typical and desperately sad.
I discussed the situation with my other roommates. The stoner roommate thought John deserves another chance. My artist roommate was more neutral and removed – he usually stayed with his girlfriend and didn't spend much time at the apartment.

I spoke to our landlord, who was utterly indifferent. I was adamant that one of us had to go. John refused to leave, and the landlord had no problem with domestic violence. So I left.

On July 1st I went to Rosies Place.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
There's more to the story. New in town, without a safe home, job or solid friend and freshly deaf – how did Felicity navigate this challenging world? We'll find out!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Q&A

On Facebook (or ShoutyFace as Tbogg calls it) there’s another one of those Q&A things going around. “Let's have some fun and learn about each other” it reads, followed by questions. And no, the questions don't reveal anything deep at all – they're light and airheady. Suitable for wedding shower games and parties that end in Spin the Bottle or hair and make-up experiments.

I figured I’d just post mine here (because OF COURSE you want to know what MY brill *cough* answers are!):

1. ARE YOU NAMED AFTER SOMEONE? My mother’s father Donado, who she, by the by, hated. Foreshadow much, Lucy? I should have been named Reptilicus Ripley Maderer. Now that's a name that'd give a kid the advantage on the unfair, violence packed playground! Amirite or amirite? Hint: you know I am!

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? The question should be when was the last time you didn’t cry. The Amazing Bob’s gone, dead in fact. Have I, perchance, not mentioned that? I feel certain I may’ve.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? No. What kind of get-to-know-you-question is that? Does the answer tell any of us anything interesting or substantial? No. Not unless the writer’s a calligrapher. I’d be interested in that.

In this digital age, this time of the keyboard, does anyone write anything out by hand at all? At best, on a good day, my handwriting resembles one of those scrawl-y handwriting fonts.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Lunch meat? No, no, no. Vegetarian here.

5. DO YOU HAVE ANY KIDS? Do cats count? If so, two plus one visitor feline who gets regular meals.

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? //shrugs// If I was another person (I'm not inclined to go existentially on a Saturday morning), would I be the type who enjoys opinionated, deaf, semi-fluorescent personalitied, artist types? Who knows?

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Noooooooooooooo! Nevah!

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Again, WTF? How does this query provide a window into a person’s being. Answer – it does nothing of the kind. You’re welcome. Also, yes, I've a full complement of tonsils. Happy?

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? FUCK NO!

10. WHAT IS YOUR CEREAL? Bob had Frosted Mini Wheats each morning. Christ, I miss pouring him a bowl of cereal. Me? Nope, I'm not the cereal type.
11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Yes, though I rarely wear shoes with laces. Vans – I wear Vans!

12. DO YOU THINK YOU'RE STRONG? As compared with who? Am I as strong as Helen Keller? Hilary Clinton? Boudica? Catherine the Great? Harriet Beecher Stowe? Shirley Chisolm? I’m no push over, no weak sister but I’m also no Benazir Bhutto. Duh.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Lemon sorbet unless it’s cookie dough or mint chip or French vanilla or….em, s’cuse me, gotta run up the street to the ice cream shop now. DAMN you!

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Overall appearance and body language.
15. RED OR PINK? Depends on the hue, the shade. Generally reds though.
16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING YOU LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF? My skin. Looks MUCH better on Edward James Olmos.
17. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? One fish, two fish Seuss pajamas. No shoes at the moment.
18. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Coffee and then, some more coffee.

19. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? The sounds in my head
20. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE?  At the moment, red violet. I may be yellow green in moments though. Brace yourself!
21. FAVORITE SMELLS? In no particular order, low tide, lemons, patchouli, lilacs, weed, TAB.

22. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? I haven’t been on the phone in more than ten years so //shrugs//
23. FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH? Sports? Sorry…no.

24. HAIR COLOR REAL? Yes, except for the small patch of purple up front
25. EYE COLOR? Weak tea sitting in the early morning sun.
26. DO YOU WEAR GLASSES? Yes but I often go without because I like seeing the world in a softer, fuzzed focus.
27. FAVORITE FOOD? Anything Oni or Erin make for me. Used to be, anything that TAB made for me. He was a kitchen god. He made stellar curries, amazing carrot cakes and oatmeal, spinach carrot cookies that’d make you flat out swoon with joy.

28. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Both. I can have both, right?
29. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Suicide Squad
30. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Lavender – it’s a T-shirt from St. Fratelli’s!

31. SUMMER OR WINTER? Ummm, Spring, Fall and Winter? I’m mostly *meh* about Summer ‘cept for the swimming and wearing shorts parts.
32. HUGS OR KISSES? Hugs AND kisses both!
33. FAVORITE dessert ?? ALL of them!

34. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING? Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man by William Shatner and Kink Me by Martin Millar – nope, I ain’t particularly deep.

35. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Mouse pad? Nope, haven’t had one in eons.
36. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON T.V. LAST? An episode of Grimm.
37. FAVORITE SOUNDS? I remember loving the sound of waves – crashing OR just gently lapping the shore, thunder, the wind in the trees and, most of all, TAB's voice – he had a big time sexy, mellow, resonant, midnight jazz DJ voice.

38. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Both! And Led Zep too.
39. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? Dunno. Krakow, Poland? Chianciano Terme in Italy? The moon? (OK, that last one was just in a dream)

40. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? Diplomacy and calm in the face of wanting, Nay, NEEDING to rip someone’s intestines out through their left nostril with a snail fork.

41. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? New Haven, Connecticut

41 questions – what an odd number. This little exercise ends with:
“Your turn! Entertain me.
Copy, cut and paste, then edit.”

If you feel like it, do that in comments. And add questions that you’d rather see!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Art Day

Yesterday was an interesting day. I got a slim packet in the mail from a woman in Mahopac, New York, named Angela Rizza.

What’d it contain? Three lovely, interesting, wildlife drawings/collages. The only message was “Thank you!” and her signature.

Now, I don’t know Angela – never met her and wasn’t familiar with her work. How I ended up with three of her illustrations is a complete mystery. Mind you, I’m happy as all Hell to have them. (editor's note: Hell is actually quite the convivial, entertaining joint. Just ask Mister H. Bosch!)

I employed a bit of Google sleuthing and found this:
Angela is a freelance illustrator currently living and working in New York. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2011 with a BFA in Illustration. Since then she has been featured in a number of magazines and shows. Her work is a combination of traditional and digital media which is reminiscent of a classical storybook illustration. Besides artwork, Angela enjoys traveling, birdwatching and CrossFit. During the summer she runs advanced drawing, painting and sculpting classes at Camp Combe, runs after-school courses, and teaches glazing techniques at a local ceramics studio. She is open to comments, commissions, or questions and is currently available for illustration jobs. She is represented by Astound.US 
Huh, OK then! I'll find nice, simple frames and up on the walls they'll go. Thank you, Angela!

Less mysterious (in that I may've let slip that one of her prints would be a perfect bday prezzie – hint, HINT) but awesomely, magical, witty and lyric is the birthday gift from Jen and Oni – a Linda Baker-Cimini print.

Jesus Rapidograph Christ, I love her work. It never fails to fascinate and make me smile.

Oni picked out the perfect frame for it too.

So then, this was my first birthday without my astoundingly awesome Amazing Bob – it was hard but I made it through. Yea me. The day before – filled with memories of beautiful days past, of hilariously off key renditions of the Happy Birthday song, of TAB crafted cakes, covered in a thousand burning candles, of dinners down on Nantasket – was the worst. I was a sobbing I-MISS-HIM-I-WANT-HIM-BACK-NOW-NOW-NOW mess for most of Wednesday. Ironically, part of what made the actual day less horrific was that I woke with a miserable, killer summer cold PLUS I’ve got that pesky hamstring injury giving me no end of pain. Distraction. Not pleasant distraction BUT the blow was softened.

Also too, beautiful and unexpected art helped. ALOT!

(MORE editor notes – click on the images to embiggen them. Linda's and Angela's work is awesome plus. Go to their websites and see more too!)
BEST birthday card EVAH!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Day

This is my first birthday in 30 years without The Amazing Bob. I don’t think I know how to birthday-ize without him. If he was here, there’d already be a carrot cake (made with EXTRA carrots!) in the fridge. He liked to do the baking a day in advance. This morning he’d magic up the cream cheese frosting. MMMMMMMMMMMM! I always licked the spoons and bowl clean and shiny afterwards. OF COURSE!

In the years when my magnificent superhero – The Fabulous Baker Man – didn’t feel up to performing his usual kitchen wonderments, we’d go to Saint Fratelli’s for their carrot cake. It wouldn't be as awesome as TAB’s creation BUT it was still bloody good. Swoonworthy even.

I recall one year, TAB asked the young lady who was waiting on us, to add extra frosting carrots – a LOT of them. He had such a big grin on his face when he made the request. Basically, the top of the cake was just one giant orange triangle. It was tremendous!

So then, what will I do today (besides savagely miss my beautiful man)? Not much, I think. I’ll paint, knit, read and then, later, it's out to dinner with Jen and Oni. Dunno if I’ve mentioned this already BUT Jen and Oni have been taking the most brill care of me. This, losing TAB, would likely not have been survivable without them. Really.

Maybe I’ll take a short, very gentle trike ride too. I fucked up my hamstring a few days back – one of 'em anyway. It was the first day that I felt emotionally steady enough to ride without rolling so, naturally, I overdid it.

My motto? Why do when you can OVERdo!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Rainy Season

My friend Luis, who lives in a rainy season-y part of Mexico, wrote this lovely, soothing poem and has given me permission to post.
~~~~~
The Rainy Season

rain runs (to)gather
forming larger drops
splitting in2 finer fall
like living cells

come
listen
to the showers

soft shushing cymbals
whisper through my palapa
(thunder)beats boom
onto my rooftop
brume brooms
the dust away

nature or
whatever you perceive
is a natural drummer

i like percussion too
i wander beneath the nightly storms
if only to feel monsoon in my hair
thrumming down
my (l)own(ly)
back beat

as are you
so are we
as are we
so are you

as are we
so are you
as are you
as are we

Luis Lemus
8/17/2016

I’ve made a new friend!

Her name’s Felicity.

How’d we meet? I was looking for an ASL MeetUp group that was, well, more vibrant and not a dating scene. Felicity was starting one up and it’d be in the mornings not evenings. AWESOME!

Here’s a coolio thing, found out in our early convos – not only is she a fellow deafie BUT she’s late deafened (like me), has the rare genetic disorder Nf2 (like me!) AND Doc Plotkin is her neurologist too! Oh and while I just lost the love of my life, her beloved father died a couple months back. Yeah, we’re sisters in mourning too. WILD!

Here’s another cool thing – she’s a disability rights activist. Wow. I asked her about that – how did she get into activism and what are some of the issues that she’s involved in.

She’s graciously agreed to share with us. (MORE awesomeness!)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It goes something like this.

In Fall of 2012 I was taking ASL 2 at Deaf Inc. in Allston. There I met a woman who works at the Boston Center for Independent Living. I was familiar with BCIL. I told her that they were instrumental in helping me navigate resources after I became disabled. I mentioned what wonderful advocates they were – key in helping me find housing. I had been homeless between July 2011 and January 2012.

The BCIL woman asked if I would be willing to go to the Massachusetts Statehouse to testify about my experience as a homeless disabled woman. I agreed. From there, I followed her activities and offered my "services" whenever they were needed.

In Spring of 2013 BCIL formed a Boston chapter of ADAPT, a national Disability Rights group. BCIL recruited several members to travel to Washington DC to convene with other ADAPT groups throughout the US.

I believe there were between 100-200 attendees with various disabilities. Primarily wheelchair users but a few deaf and blind activists were there too. We traveled there on Saturday afternoon and left Thursday morning. That allowed our group three weekdays to march and protest.

We lined up outside of the hotel, all 100+, and marched to HUD, the U.S. Department of Labor, the White House, Tom Perez' house in suburban Maryland, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Headquarters, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

We demanded that caretakers for the disabled be paid a fair wage, we advocated for the Olmstead Act to be implemented, so that disabled people are allowed to live independently in their own homes, rather than languishing in nursing homes like prisoners.

We gathered in front of the White House, handcuffed ourselves to the fence, and got arrested. They really just wrote us citations. They didn't have the nerve or equipment to transport 100+ wheelchair users to prison.

We used civil disobedience. We would block the entrance and exit to the parking garages of the various Government Departments, inconveniencing the Government employees, until they relented and met our demands.

We took the Metro to Tom Perez' house. He was the Chief of the Department of Labor at the time. When we arrived at his house we were met by the Secret Service. Again, we used non-violent, civil disobedience. We sat and stood on his dead-end street for about six hours. He finally came out and spoke to us. I don't know what he said, as I'm deaf, but he stood his ground and did not agree to our demands. We were demanding that personal assistants (healthcare aides) earn more than minimum wage.

I've also done local activism with Boston ADAPT, Boston Senior Action Committee and Jobs with Justice, fighting for lower fares for the RIDE – Greater Boston's para-transit service. We shut down the roads near Park Plaza, where MBTA headquarters is located.

I've also testified numerous times at the Statehouse and Boston City Hall.

I was the squeaky wheel that convinced City Hall to make captions available at Hearings and City Council Meetings.

I prompted BCIL to participate in the PRIDE parade. I've spent several years nagging PRIDE to provide CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) at their festival stage. They do in fact provide ASL.

That's all for now. I've run out of steam.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Too cool!