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Jeanette, Then Sammy Dog, and Now, Evangeline
That was Jeanette. My Jeanette; I loved her and couldn't, at the end, take care of her. Protect her.Jeanette changed my life, my point of view. And now, there's Evangeline, running from the Liberian civil war, stuck living by the side of a building in a hellhole refugee camp. I called the UNHCR today and finally got someone who knew what the organization does. But every time he went to specifics my connection seemed to break up. If I understood him correctly, if someone will sponsor these kids, which means take them in once they come to the US, the UNHCR will pay their airfare and for their education. If the kids come without sponsorship, they are responsible for everything. Since I couldn't hear the man right--it sounded as though he was shouting from Africa and occasionally an airplane went by and blocked his whispery voice. Nobody but me wants to do the legwork right now and that's discouraging. No, what is discouraging is I can't just bring them over and have them live in the garage. Or my basement which I don't have. That sounds cruel but I know I need my privacy. I'm too fragile emotionally and I know I can't promise. It broke my heart that I couldn't care for Jeanette when she needed a mother so badly. I couldn't see past her mental illness and couldn't live with it. I just didn't have it. I know most people wouldn't either. She had serious problems. Most people would have felt justified pushing her away, but I didn't. Most people wouldn't have felt they failed. But I did. I really did fail. I couldn't help it, but I'm sorry with every fiber of my being. I still love her, miss her, and I'm still horribly sorry.
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They're Murdering Children While I Pack
Gee, I'm even fatter than in that picture! I'm growing out of my clothes..again! My stretchy cotton knit shorts are the tightest I would wear them. I keep eating though, ignoring what I resolved in the morning after I weighed myself. By the night time when I'm tired, I'm ready to eat whatever is handy and my weight keeps climbing. It isn't as though I'm eating so much more. I have to cut out desserts--will I?--noooooooo. I need to eat only very carefully in the evening or not at all. Will I remember? I don't know. And I have to stop eating right away when I feel I've had enough. Is that easy? It's one of the most difficult things I've ever failed at. And every day after dinner, I feel guilty, and later, before I go to bed, guiltier. I'm still packing only now, I'm getting down to the nitty gritty. Or so I think. We went to my mother in law's apartment today to help her and she wants to give up her cat. Unless her other son wants him, Pumpkin has to come to us. Not only does he have thyroid and chronic ear infection problems, but he's a very lovable one-cat-household-only cat. He's pushy and rough to his fellow felines. He's beautiful, but that doesn't count. He's lived all his inside life with one older woman and I guess he isn't about to accept a brother and sister. Not if he can help it. And I still haven't gotten the information for Betty and Evangeline. I called Africa this morning and couldn't get through. Then I forgot. I'll try tomorrow morning. So far, it looks as though Evangeline is telling the truth. And Buduburam Camp is a horrible place. Who could blame her for exaggerating, if she is. There is so much worse going on in the world. And way too many orphan or needy children for a world where we can conquer aids and build smart bombs. We are mad chimpanzees massacreing children and their parents, tearing them into pieces with machetes or blowing their brains out with rifles. And if we're not working to stop the murdering, we are supporting the genocide. We can ignore it, move away as I'm doing, and stay in the house as I plan to do. But that doesn't absolve me. I live in a peaceful little world only because others died to make it so. That includes the slaves who built this truly great nation and the Arab oil barons who, with our money, supply the guns to the rebels. The Jinjaweed chase down children and kill them with the money we spend at the gas pumps. It's that simple and that horrible.Now back to packing because life goes on even when people are dying for no other reason than having been born. I just found a closet half-full of paper. I guess it's good I found it now.
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Little Betty on my Mind
Life begins. We're all the same. Just imaginary beings with the appearance of being held together by something solid. But nothing is solid, not even rocks. I spent all day packing on our first floor. There were pots for every type of cooking, and implements to turn anything over, stir, or whip. Lids of every size and color, and enough silverware for weeks of meals. And that was just some of the things I put into boxes. In between, I talked with Evangeline and when I mentioned coming to America, the spirit light went on. I'm being more careful than ever before, not promising anybody a bed in my house. I know I can't tolerate other people very well. We are the same but she has no pots, no warm clothing for the cold nights and no place for her little sister to sleep. I will buy clothes for little Betty so she can look like a little American child. Not poor and hungry. I just thought of another religious friend who might help. And her family is all racially mixed which would be helpful. This is beginning to sound feasible. Possible. Tomorrow is our settlement on our new house. It's an early day so I'm off to bed.
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The Angst of Packing
Harry's taking a nap so I'm taking a break. I worry, like the woman in the painting, that I won't get done, and like her, I'll feel embarrassed. Nobody will actually care, just like her girlfriend looking on. I was swindled out of that painting. When I participated in an art fair in NY, a guy asked me for two pieces in exchange for his writing an article in a magazine he showed me. Stupidly, I did it. He took pictures and then carried the artwork off never to be seen again. And of course, the article was never seen either. At that same show, I gave one of my BEST pieces to the organization holding the fair and they were supposed to give it play. As far as I can tell, they didn't. I think it's a good organization though at least, even if they're full of shit. I think the reason they wanted it was the hunky guys pictured in it, not the gray haired woman between the two. Live and learn. This morning, I called Africa since I can't so far get any of the American agencies to return my calls or emails. That includes the State Department. It sucks. Well, I did call and the UNHCR, who supposedly pays for the kid's airfare didn't know anything. The guy with whom I spoke said to call back Monday. It's not easy to understand the African accent. It's as difficult as the Scottish accent, or maybe one from Arkansas. None of us English speaking folks can understand the other. Unless one of us is from Europe. They're really clear. What a bunch of boring shit! I get tired I think from the Lupus. Harry gets tired because he gets up early. If I didn't say so before , I have had a numb yet painful toe for a couple of months now, and months last year. It seemed this morning the other foot was getting into the act. My doctors gave me some goofy diagnosis, but I've already been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy of which this is a part. I can't expect doctors to know anything but the common stuff, right? What I didn't know that I found out through research--at the Mayo Clinic--was the problem I have with getting overheated is part of that. A few of my passing symptoms are actually peripheral neuropathy. My rheumatologist and regular doctor couldn't figure that out. Both act like whatever I have is just a shock to them. They're never seen it before. Frustration is a big lupus symptom. Harry's awake so it's time to pack again.
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My African Story
I'm always foiling around with the fonts on here, so it's a triumph when, like today, the font I want comes up.I'm in the computer room smelling the cat feces; they like to do their business in this kitty litter. No amount of encouragement seems to change that. So I'm sniffing some ungodly stink while I type here. The "spirit" light is on. It blinked on and off this morning telling me to get on with my business and then came back on. I've been downstairs eating dinner and now I'm back here singing along with Pippin, one of my favorites. So I guess my family is stuck listening to me sing. I believe this light is the way my family talks to me during the time I'm conscious. Sometimes the light goes on and off responding to what I say to them. That's exciting when that's happening. On-line today I spoke with a teenager who fled the civil war in Liberia. She's been in a horrible refugee camp in Ghana with her brother and little sister. They lost their parents to the war. I don't know how she found my name or whether she simply tried many people at random to find someone who might help them. Or whether it's all a scam to come to the US. And does that matter? A while back I sent her $25 to get whatever she needed and she didn't ask for more. She did not bring up the subject of coming here; I did but I did not offer to bring her. I thought it was impossible. However, she says she is being given tickets for her and her sister and brother if someone will call and say they want them. I've told her I can't actually take her; I'm too old and don't want the responsibility. I'm ready to be a grandmother, not a mom. She's only sixteen, her brother seventeen, and little Betty is two. She's called often on the phone and I've even spoken with Betty. Betty happens to be an irresistible baby. What baby isn't? I worry about jumping into another situation that's too hard for me. Another one I can't handle and have to break another heart. It's happened twice already and I want that to never happen again. Evangeline is the sixteen year old and she's very much a teenager. She isn't lying about the camp; I've read about it and it's exactly like she said--you pay for everything including toilets and food and if you can't, you sleep in the street, relieve yourself in the bushes at the mercy of child soldiers, and starve. There are so many orphans. I don't think Betty is really Evangeline's sister; a woman gave Betty to Evangeline saying that's what Betty was. I asked the spirits why Evangeline contacted me. They clearly told me I had wanted to do something about the genocide in Africa and now I could. I could help someone. And today the light came on. Then Evangeline asked me to call for her.
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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A PACKER
We're planning where to put our furniture in the new house. I'm still packing, now down to the second floor and the basement mostly. The house is filling up with boxes. No, I don't mind; it's fine. It won't be fine though when we've moved. I'll have to work fast to put everything away. I find it depressing to be closed in by boxes and things that are in flux. I'm so much looking forward to moving; to being there. Our little neighbor girls left today for a few years in Jordan. They're Palestinian and their parents want the girls to learn their culture instead of becoming average American brats. The two younger adorables will come back home after Mom's two month vacation. Mom dressed in the Arabic schmata outfit, hardly spoke English, but was a good neighbor by my estimation. She is a beautiful young woman, not surprisingly. The Palestinians and Israelis have the same DNA. Anyway, we'll be moving before they return and I'll miss the little girls. It would be nice to have grandchildren but I can't simply order them. I love children and I'm good with them. I'll have to enjoy my new little neighbors. I'm a little drunk right now, having had wine with dinner. It's time for me to do the dishes and then relax, but I love to write on here. Time has passed; it's late and I'm not drunk. The dishes are done and I'm almost ready for bath and bed. I'm on the phone ordering house dresses from Lane Bryant. Yeah, I got that fat and that old. I like to work around the house in house dresses. All I need now are orthopedic shoes. I guess sneakers would do and I have them. Nothing else is doing other than waiting on the phone line. I'd rather go pick out the clothes and they would probably be cheaper, but I don't have the time and I have only one of those dresses I've come to love so much. So it's time for google, the order and bed. G'night.
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A PALACE WITH THE WORK OF GOD IN THE BACKYARD
I sold the painting above to someone who loves it; I never did. But I did love the tree and what I used to see out my studio's sliding doors. The grass, the tree, and the boat made my view far better than the bricks. The tree was magic. Not long later the tree was cut down and the boat was sold. All the grass was cemented and there was nothing more to see. I left that studio for the air-conditioned and heated middle bedroom upstairs where the view was of white curtains. I always believed I'd live in this house until I was too old to manage it. Even though the steps were more and more difficult, I belonged here. Every room had memories and when we finally were able to renovate the house, I enjoyed the hardwood floors and the new bathrooms. Then Lupus forced my retirement, our son moved to Delaware and graduated from college. The steps were hard and I started to dream about living in the suburbs. Eventually, after looking at houses in every Philly suburb, we thought about Delaware and long after that, we found our new house. I'm packing day and night with only two weeks until the movers come. I'm trying to leave all our daily stuff available and maybe I'm doing okay. Everything in buying this house cost much more than we ever expected and we may have nothing to add a dishwasher and conveniences like that. Knowing we may have only our old furniture and the bricks to look at doesn't make us regret our decision. We both feel lucky. I can hardly believe I'm moving into the suburbs, to a single house with a quarter acre. I'll have a sun room in which I can paint the trees I love. I can plant whatever trees I can afford. I'll have the space and no one can force me to cut the tree down. I can read a book by the fire, or sleep in a different room with the cats jumping up and down. Harry will have his own room where he'll keep his papers and nick knacks and I can have a clean dining room table. I won't have many steps and I'll even have an attic. I'll have to watch Moon, our male feline because when he sees other animals he tries to get to them. He's a sissy when they come back at him, but fierce originally. And fast. Moving to this house is a gift, I believe. I prayed, I asked my family--all of whom have passed-- to help me find the right house, and then for them to help us get it. The light in this room came on the day we found the house and the day they accepted our offer. I never thought I would live in what I think is splendor. To me, it's as good as a palace. The house is as much perfection as I've ever dreamed of. I don't need more; I'm content and I'm very grateful.
We found our house about a week ago. We must have looked at fifty houses, some in the Philly area originally, and eventually in Newark, Delaware. We listed all the things we wanted: very few steps; central air conditioning; gas or electric heat; etc. This house had almost everything we wanted. It's hard to believe we're leaving our house and Philadelphia after having lived in this house for thirty years and in Philly all our lives. It's cheaper to live in Delaware and it has the suburban atmosphere we would like to experience at least once. We've lived in noise and in the middle of activity forever with a high school across the street and neighbors all around us. We've been lucky to have had nice neighbors, but there's never been much privacy and never any quiet. It's crowded and busy here. The house in Newark is in a very small development with its own driveway, nestled in a wooded area. There are neighbors but they live at least twenty-five yards away. We may be overdrawn and eating hot dogs, but we'll be able to relax. Right now, we're packing. I keep boxing up items Harry hasn't used to years only to find he needs them now. We have eighty-one boxes, chairs and tables in storage and our dining room is packed with boxes too. We're not done either. There are calls to be made and papers signed. This house is selling; at least we hope it is. I think we've fixed everything and the bathrooms and kitchen here are lovely. Nicer than we've seen anywhere else, including our new house. I'm looking forward to Newark, but for now, I'll enjoy taking baths in our beautiful bathroom.