Thursday, May 26, 2016


    I've been thinking a lot about the multiple personas we display depending upon the people we are with and the situation.  More than knowing the right time and place to tell that bawdy joke, I'm talking about the different people we become to match a locale - sometimes referred to as wearing different hats or masks.  For example, I have my mama persona, followed closely by the wife one (sometimes they intermingle), the manager one, the sister/friend, the performer/writer and maybe a couple others.  At the core is me, or my perception of me, and the rest is layered on from there.
     My kids have never seen me act or sing professionally, mostly as that part of me has been on hold since they were born.  They've seen me at work, but they were so young and I wasn't really being a leader at that moment in time, so they don't know that part of me.  They absolutely know the mama who walks through the door and hasn't quite transitioned from work to home.  My husband has had many a conversation with me about the people I live with not being my employees.  (I am clearly still a work in progress.)
      What has been keeping me thinking is that so many of these personas are necessary, sometimes due to the nature of life (i.e. work vs. home) and sometimes due to necessity (i.e. Heather's true desires vs. what Heather can get away with the world knowing). If my need for organized paperwork spills over into my home life, no harm no foul.  But if I was the sort of person who fell in love with inanimate objects (objectophilia), I should probably keep that between myself and said object (and my support group).
     So, I've been wondering whether this separation of church and state can lead to a fracturing of the subconscious. Is this compartmentalization a way to deal with the necessities of life? Or ultimately does this lead to a less then fulfilled human, a broken soul (more emotional than spiritual)?  Is this the sort of thing that shocks your kids when they clean your personal effects out after you've shuffled off your mortal coil and gone to join the choir invisible?  Do we leave anything in writing, or burn it all before we die?  How much do we want our loved ones to know about our true selves, the part we listen to crappy love songs to satisfy.
     Mom and I had a discussion about her notebooks and personal records long before she died.  She said that if anything happened to her, I wasn't allowed to read any of it.  I was to destroy it all.  I told her, tough luck - I'm not destroying anything.  Needless to say, that pissed her off.  It caused her to start winnowing out her personal effects long before she died, airbrushing her image and my understanding of her.  As her death was so unexpected, she didn't get much headway on clearing the farm out. After she died, I was left with a couple of boxes of papers and notebooks to look through. I won't share the intimate details, because she didn't want me to know them after all.  It did make me wish that she had wanted to talk about some of this with me before she died, because I wanted to understand the whys behind some of her choices in life.  
     Oracle reminds us that we've already made our choices, we're just here to understand why.  Perhaps there's no more reason for my mother to explain herself, as there is for me.  As long as we're all consenting adults here, and comfortable with our conscience, then shifting in and out of whatever applicable persona is necessary for the task at hand might not fracture you or obligate your exposition.  But it begs the question, which is the authentic self and which are the clones.

Monday, May 9, 2016


     Our cat Bagheera died yesterday.  He fell off the couch and broke his leg; his nineteen year old bones, too brittle to handle the landing.  As you would imagine, it was a horrible experience for the entire family, and we were thankful that my sister was there every step of the way.  She had come to celebrate Mother's Day with the children, as she is their other mama, and yet again, she was there to comfort and love all of us.
     Bagheera was my mother's cat, though originally my sister's.  When my sister came to live with us and help raise #1, she had to leave him with mom.  Many years later when my mom came to live with us, she had three cats and a dog named Bear.  Having long since moved to a bigger place as we were anticipating mom coming at some point, our new landlord was ok with the cats but not the dog.  Mom tried to re-home him, posted notes at the vet, reached out to the very few friends she had - but no one could help.  She had two choices, take him to the pound where he would watch her leave and never come back, and no doubt be killed after the allotted time, as he was an older dog and very jumpy, or put him to sleep.  She felt she had no other choice, that I had given her no other choice.  She never forgave me for making her kill Bear.  Honestly, I've never forgiven myself either.
     When she arrived with her cats, Cree, Turtle and Bagheera, she kept them in her room and to herself.  This was the norm for several years.  Six months before mom died, Cree developed diabetes and quickly died from kidney failure.  Mom was devastated and kept his urn on her desk.  She told me that when she died, she wanted the cats to be buried with her.  When mom died later that year, my sister and I mixed Cree in with her ashes and buried them together.  I opened her door and let Turtle and Bagheera out the same day she died.  It took them many days before they joined us, but eventually they did, and then they became mine, ours.
     Turtle died 1/20/2013.  She laid down in the hallway upstairs one day and decided not to get back up. The vet said her body was shutting down.  It would only be a matter of time.  So we made the hard decision to let her go and be with mom.  Because she died in January, my sister and I had to wait until May, the time we go each year to celebrate mom's birthday, her three children once again around her.  That year we did just as we had promised mom, and put Turtle with her.
     And now Bagheera is gone.  His death is a horrible loss for the family, as we loved him so very much. He had formed special bonds with each of the children and with my husband and myself. He had been ours for so long that he was really our cat.  He sat with my husband during his writing time.  He sat in my son's lap while he played video games or sat on his butt when my son would stretch out on the couch.  If you got up off the couch, Bagheera would immediately move and take your spot, leaving a circle of cat hair and dandruff.  I didn't care about the mess; life is clearly too short to worry about these things.  My eldest would tolerate him slowly walking over top of her on his pass to the open seat - high praise from someone who isn't an animal person.  And the little one was in love with him, absolutely smitten with the old cat who let her carry him around from room to room, who never got upset when she kissed him and hugged him.  He would burp old cat breath, and she would tell him how fabulous he smelled.  He would slow blink back at her, letting her know that he had claimed her as his own.  For me, Bagheera was the last link to mom,  Holding him while the vet administered the euthanasia was necessary as my duty owed to him, but so painful, as though I was cutting myself off from her - this nineteen year old cat, my life preserver.
     Bagheera will be physically reunited with mom, Cree and Turtle this weekend, when we three join again to celebrate what would be her 72nd birthday.  I know that she was waiting for him yesterday, Bear and the other two beside her.  I've always believed that our animals go on to the afterlife, because as mom used to say, heaven would be less than perfect without your pets.  Eternity is a long time to be without your best friend.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Two Vignettes

     A couple short vignettes from today:

     Two older customers got into a heated discussion first thing this morning while in line waiting for a teller.  Back and forth they went about Donald Trump and what he would do for the country if elected.  "He'll make America great again ... (no, he won't) ... stop all these immigrants from taking our jobs ... (my parents were immigrants) ... but I bet your parents worked ... (yes, they certainly did) ... these immigrants don't even have to learn English ... (you're right there) ... our grandchildren won't even have Social Security thanks to this President ... (that's not true) ... etc."  They didn't agree on anything except the immigrants/illegals were ruining this country and getting all the benefits.  The pro-Trump person was a woman and the person, a male.  "Sir, you are wrong," she said several times.


     Later, I was helping a client in my office.  He was telling me that he called customer service last night, but he got "an Indian, and you know how you can never understand them."  I stared back at him.  Then he said, "not an Indian Indian, (then he patted his mouth and said oo-oo-oo-oo-oo), you know, an Indian."
     Honest to God.
     I'm not kidding.  A grown man repeatedly smacked his mouth with his hand in my office, reenacting his spot-on racist stereotype of Native Americans.


     As Dave Chappelle says, this racism is killing me.