Monday, June 1, 2020

Word of the Year 2020: Build 6: Elevation

On Build thus far

Word of the Year 2020: Build 1: After the Floods
Word of the Year 2020: Build 2: Fronterista
Word of the Year 2020: Build 3: "House"
Word of the Year 2020: Build 4: Chosens
Word of the Year 2020: Build 5: It Takes a Village

Until I began this post, I'd not heard the term, post-traumatic growth.

It is when a person arrives at a post-traumatic mental place where they thrive after a transformation in their worldview.

Following trauma, a person may regain their pre-trauma equilibrium. (And that, by itself, is a tremendous positive.)

Post-traumatic growth, though, from Association Between Resiliency and Post-Traumatic Growth in Firefighters ....
PTG is more than just a return to equilibrium after an experienced traumatic situation. This phenomenon indicates that as a result of an experienced situation a person underwent some kind of transformation and achieved a higher level of functioning than before the trauma.
.... distinguish the two concepts of resilience and PTG, emphasizing that development following trauma results from transformation, which means cognitive rebuilding [emphasis mine]. Resiliency assumes an ability to move forward with life after adversity, whereas PTG involves a movement beyond pre-trauma levels of adaptation. Moreover, researchers stress that resilient individuals do not necessarily have to experience PTG, as not all traumatic events are subjectively identified as challenging.

[PTG] does not exclude the occurrence of adverse effects of experienced trauma. Post-traumatic growth does not mean that the experience of trauma is desirable or necessary to make significant changes in life. It is not equated with a sense of happiness, either. It is, however, an opportunity for a more meaningful and valuable life. [Note: "valuable,' I'm assuming, in the eyes of the person who experienced the trauma]

Another source framed the cognitive rebuilding succinctly, in Resilience and Post-Traumatic Growth: A Comparison: "Post-traumatic growth is manifested in several clearly defined behaviors and thought patterns not necessarily present prior to exposure. [emphasis mine]"

For some of us - maybe most? - it is a 100% good outcome to regain the equilibrium or the life movement we had pre-trauma. There is nothing intrinsically superior about attaining some higher level of consciousness following trauma, in my not so humble opinion.

But for others of us - take me, for instance - when the original equilibrium may have stood on unstable land, then that "cognitive rebuilding" - the mental rewiring - the post-traumatic elevation - is definitely a goal to reach for.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Relocation: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 20: Where Am I Going?

Lake Fausse Point State Park, Louisiana. November 2013.

Well, I am in an interesting pickle. 

With COVID, there is uncertainty about what will be open and what will not - for sleeping, gassing up, eating.

I will leave Tucson on May 29. 

What I know:

I will get into my car and drive east.

What I don't know:

Anything else.

OK, OK, that's a bit hyperbolic. But, really, not much. I have squishy ideas of where I'll stop the first night, and I have a couple of smooshy possibilities of a route I'll take to ..... maybe one place for awhile or maybe another place for awhile but both "one place" and "awhile" are only dimly lit. 

As Bones said so many years ago: In ignorance, I await my own surprise.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Tucson, AZ: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 19: Naked Toes

Benson Sculpture Garden, Benson, Colorado. May 2016.

On one hand, you could say that cosmetic maintenance in this time of stay-at-home COVID is a superficial matter - and it is, literally.

Art Castings, Loveland, Colorado. May 2016.

On the other hand, we humans, no matter how low or high our incomes, find comfort, satisfaction, pure plain pleasure in having our hair, skin, and nails groomed. We want to look good and thus feel good. It puts a swag to our step.

It has been thus for millennia.

Benson Sculpture Garden, Benson, Colorado. May 2016.

Heck, animals groom each other, and it's not just about removing insects, it's part of group socialization, bonding, mutual support.

So with stay-at-home-ness keeping us from our visits to salons and the skilled groomers who primp us, oh, it's a loss that is more than skin deep.

Today I stripped the red polish from my toes. The pedicure I had two months ago (longer?) looked so bedraggled. I can't remember when I ever had naked toes in the warm seasons.

Niels Chr. Hansen, Four Foot Sketches in Pencil, around 1892
Niels Chr. Hansen, Four Foot Sketches in Pencil, around 1892. Source: via Art Coffee

When we were children, my mother used to tell us that our toes were shaped like the statues of ancient gods and goddesses, our toes curled daintily just a bit, with each succeeding toe shorter than the one before.

This always makes me smile, although I can't say that my naked toes today look like those of an ancient goddess.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Tucson, AZ: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 18: Signs of these Times

COVID masked dinosaur, McDonald's at Grant and Tanque Verde, Tucson, Arizona. May 2020.

On today's weekly hunting-and-gathering foray, I saw signs of the COVID times. They ranged from the whimsical to the utilitarian to the ... ironic? wry? earnest? apocalyptic?

COVID mask and gloves bucket, Food City, Tucson, Arizona. May 2020.

COVID shopping carts, Food City, Tucson, Arizona. May 2020.

COVID biotech sticker, Sprouts parking lot, Tucson, Arizona. May 2020.

Two artists for the above sticker? The second unknown to the first?

"Biotech is Godzilla" is a cultural reference for fans of 1980s-90s thrash metal, which presaged death metal.  The Brazilian band, Sepultura, who birthed Biotech is Godzilla, was a thrash metal band. There is even an Arizona connection here, as the band spent some time in Phoenix writing songs for its Chaos A.D. album.

From a 2017 article in Revolver, 5 Things You Didn't Know About Sepultura's 'Chaos A.D.':

Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra wrote the lyrics to "Biotech Is Godzilla"

As a longtime fan of early punk-rock bands, including Black Flag, Bad Brains, Circle Jerks and especially Dead Kennedys, Cavalera was excited by the idea of having DK frontman Jello Biafra contribute to the album. He didn't want him to sing, he just wanted lyrics.
"I don't think Jello is a bad singer, I just think his lyrics are so great. They're so sarcastic and smart. So I asked him to write the lyrics and he said, 'What should I write about?' I said, 'Anything you want to, man.' So he came up with 'Biotech is Godzilla,' which is about the 1992 Rio Summit, where all these politicians got together and talked about technology. Jello's big theory was that AIDS was invented by scientists in laboratories. It was a disease created by us."

The lyrics to Biotech is Godzilla

Rio Summit, '92
Street people kidnapped
Hid from view
"To save the earth"
Our rulers met
Some had other
Secret plans


Say what?

Strip-mine the Amazon
Of cells of life itself
Gold rush for genes is on
Natives get nothing

Is Godzilla

Mutations cooked in labs
Money-mad experiments
New food + medicine?
New germs + accidents!
Like Cubatao
"World's most polluted town"
Air melts your face
Deformed children all around
Ain't what's so bad
Like all technology
It's in the wrong hands

Cut-throat corporations
Don't give a damn
When lots of people die
From what they've made

Is A.I.D.S.?


So you just never know what you're going to discover from a simple sticker slapped onto a pole in a grocery store parking lot.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Flashback to 2015: Jefferson Island, Louisiana: Rip Van Winkle Gardens

I remember the pleasure of standing under cover of bamboo, listening to the softness of the rain and the creaking of the boughs.

A flashback of those moments, and others, in this 2015 post.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Jefferson Island, Louisiana: Rip Van Winkle Gardens

Jefferson Island, Rip Van Winkle Gardens, Louisiana

Yeah, I know, looks weird, yes? It's a slug. Or roly poly, maybe. I like her upturned mouth.

Time's awastin' on my 2nd Louisiana year, and today I wanted to put to bed the Rip Van Winkle Gardens on Jefferson Island. It was my second visit, the first being abbreviated back in October 2014.

Jefferson Island, Rip Van Winkle Gardens, Louisiana
Gosh, what a pretty place. With so much shade, it's a pleasant escape from Louisiana heat. Many spots to sit and be contemplative.

Jefferson Island, Rip Van Winkle Gardens, Louisiana
There was a short afternoon rain while I was on the paths, and I took cover under a stand of bowed tall grass and bamboo. A taste of this rain below:

At another spot, I sat in front of thick bamboo and listened while it creaked and the peacocks complained loudly to each other. And my belly rumbled a couple of times, too. Here it is below:

When I was here last fall, there was some exciting snake action, which I caught on video here:

Can you see the snake in the picture below? It's a copperhead.

Snake in the bamboo, Jefferson Island, Rip Van Winkle Gardens, Louisiana

No? Let's get a little closer:

Snake in the bamboo, Jefferson Island, Rip Van Winkle Gardens, Louisiana

And let's get a real good look:

Snake in the bamboo, Jefferson Island, Rip Van Winkle Gardens, Louisiana

Hahahaha, I like snakes.

As I said here, I much prefer the gardens on Jefferson Island to the gardens on Avery Island. That is, if one is ambulatory. Jungle Gardens on Avery Island is a driveable experience, so it works much better than Jefferson Island for people who find walking difficult.

A slide show below of Jefferson Island's Rip Van Winkle Gardens:


Friday, May 1, 2020

Word of the Year 2020: Build 5: It Takes a Village

Kazbegi, Caucasus Georgia. May 2012.

On Build thus far

Word of the Year 2020: Build 1: After the Floods
Word of the Year 2020: Build 2: Fronterista
Word of the Year 2020: Build 3: "House"
Word of the Year 2020: Build 4: Chosens

There comes a time when a solo woman observes that she might have to leave behind the cachet of a "woman of a certain age" and enter the land of a "woman of age."

"Not today," she says to herself. But it's coming some day, not too far away, because from her ship's deck, she can just make out the shoreline, and her boat inexorably inches closer to the beach.

In preparation for landing, she's got to consider aging issues.

I've talked about building a chosen family. A chosen family brings mutual intimacy, emotional sustenance, wise counsel from brains not our own, soft places to fall.

For practical, simple transactional needs that arise as singletons age, it's good to build a real-life or virtual home in a village.

Money Crashers offers a useful article on How to Plan for Old Age and Elder Care When You Don't Have Kids.

The advice isn't just for elders without kids - it's also for elders who have kids, but the grown kids:
  1. Live far away
  2. Already have care-giving obligations to others, such as special needs children or in-laws for whom they provide care
  3. Struggle with personal challenges
  4. Are well-intentioned and enthusiastic about being supportive, but just don't have the skill set their parents need
  5. Exploit their parents' finances or are emotionally/verbally/physically abusive
  6. Don't want a relationship with their parents

The article uses the term "elder orphan," a label with only sad, victim-y connotations that I don't believe are helpful. However, the advice in the article is solid.

Some highlights for what solo elders do to build a village around them:
  1. The Village to Village Network
  2. Work longer and save more to pay for future in-home care expenses that will help you stay in your own home
  3. Choose a supportive neighborhood (e.g. walkable to grocery store, library, park)
  4. Consider house-sharing or communal living
  5. Make new friends
  6. Wellness-tracking or wellness-alarm systems
  7. For folks who have the means: geriatric care manager

One of my daydreams is to buy a plot of land that is, literally, here:

In this daydream, I have one or two dogs to provide companionship and safety. I live in a tiny cabin. I might not have any internet access. I have water. I have this stunning view.

Although this might work for a year, realistically, I'm going to want to age in a town, in a walkable neighborhood, with internet, live music, diversity of age around me, a library, pocket parks.

I'll want a village.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Tucson, AZ: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 17: Laundry Economics Revisited

At the laundromat. El Paso, Texas. February 2019.

As a renter who lives in budget apartments that don't include washers and dryers, I use communal laundry facilities. Fortunately, all of my domestic apartment choices thus far have included facilities on-site.

It was in 2013, when I lived in Lafayette, Louisiana, that I first learned some lessons about laundry economics. This was the first time in my domestic rootless life when I had to pay to use a washer and dryer.

Not mentioned in that 2013 post about laundry economics was another lesson I learned. I remember clearly the elation I felt upon this discovery. Which was: Buy more pairs of underwear! What a eureka moment!

Underwear takes up so little space and is so light! By having more pairs of underwear, I could extend the number of days without having to do laundry! I don fresh underwear each day, and although I could handwash it, I don't want the hassle. I do feel okey-dokey about wearing external clothing three, or maybe even four times, before tossing it into the laundry bin. (Since COVID keeps me home most days, four times is common.)

So now enter COVID.

There are two laundry facilities in my apartment complex.

One day, in March, the managers suddenly closed the facilities due to COVID!

They directed tenants to nearby(ish) laundromats.

To protect tenants and apartment management staff.


Diverting tenants from a relatively low-traffic, on-site facility to one that would be often filled with customers? And where one must hang about said laundromat until the laundry was complete, thereby extending the duration of exposure to and from others?  It was a decision that would result in greater danger of exposure to tenants (and to other Tucsonans), rather than less.

And what about the tenants who had no transportation? Or single-parent tenants with young children, who would have to schlep their kiddos to the laundromats, putting them at greater risk for contagion? 

Fortunately, after (I assume) some consternation expressed by tenants (including me), the management sought and found processes to protect both tenants and office staff, and they re-opened the on-site facilities some days later.

But the closure prompted me to consider strategies to change my usual practice of once-a-week, one-load laundry work to every other week.

I counted out my underwear. Twelve.

I have bought six more pairs of underwear.