Recipes for Disasters

9 feb 2022, an occasional blog – Practicing Praxis

What is a recipe for disaster?  Using chili powder instead of paprika?  For sure. But there are other kinds of recipes.  When I have high expectations of beloveds in my life and they don’t come through for me…that’s another kind of recipe for disaster.  I live alone and struggle with loneliness every day.  I’m lucky because I live in a senior cooperative, there are great people living here, and I have food in my frig and i can afford to live here. I know how blessed I am not to be homeless or hungry. I do not take that for granted.  My neighbors are great and I’ve gotten to know many people, though I’ve only lived here during this never-ending pandemic.   But you know what?  I still live a solitary and alone life.   My closest companions?  Sadie, my 19 year old kitty with thyroid problems, and Ketzel, my 13 year old diabetic kitty.  I love them very much, and I do talk with them all the time.  Sometimes I dance in my bedroom and they look at me weirdly.  Sometimes I sing and they really look at me weirdly, since I do not have a good voice.  My kitties love me back…Sadie wakes up and yelps for her food every morning.  And Ketzel walks all over me when I sleep.  They are wonderful companions but they don’t engage in conversation with me. There are limitations when your closest companions are four-legged beings.

Living alone during this freaking pandemic is really hard.  I want to have a companion who I can talk with at the end of each day.  You know….stuff like, “how was your day honey?”  not someone on zoom.  A real human being I can hug and touch (and maybe a little more….i’ll leave that to your imagination, readers). During this pandemic, how do you find people who you can call your beloveds?  People you love, you trust, you want to hang out with.  I’m “old” now so I don’t run around as much as I used to.  I met beloveds in my lifetime through doing political work.  But it’s the damn pandemic.  I’m not going out to protests, going to meetings, doing what I used to do. I’m “retired,” and 70 years old, and currently recovering from outpatient hernia repair surgery.  I’m ok and my neighbors are here for me, but I don’t have “beloveds” living here.  I speak on the phone to many of the beloveds in my life.  Many do not live in Minnesota so it’s hard.  And I’m not planning on jumping on a plane during this pandemic to visit some of my beloveds who don’t live nearby.  

Getting old ain’t a picnic folks. 

 I love living here in this senior cooperative, but I do miss more intergenerational living.  I wish there were more people here who were younger and also more people here who don’t look like me…it’s expensive to live here, and we do not have a racially diverse population.  You gotta have money to live in this community.  I’m used to living in a more diverse world.  So it can be a challenge here.

What do I wish for?  I do not do new year’s resolutions but this year I’ve been saying…I long for the day when we can make a HUGE bonfire and burn all our freaking masks.  I wonder if that will happen or if we will keep seeing variants of covid.  We just don’t know.  It’s hard to see who you are when you are wearing a mask.  

It’s hard to entertain yourself when you live alone.  Lately, I’ve been watching the Olympics, especially watching many of the women compete.  They are amazing.  I’m not a fan of all the hyper-patriotism and the “USA, USA” chanting.  I love it when three women get medals from three different countries and they embrace each other because they are friends!  It’s not about what country you are from or the medal count.  Sometimes I feel sad watching the events. It’s the pinnacle of their lives as these athletes compete…and they are doing it in huge arenas that are empty and they have to wear masks.  But they are smiling and embracing each other and there is a community in the Olympics.  And it’s not about the flag on their jackets.  It’s about being comrades as athletes.  

So what’s my message here?  Surviving the pandemic as best as we can.  Finding beloveds wherever we live.  Yes.  I wish I had better answers. I wish life were easier. Sometimes I wish I were younger and I felt more able-bodied.  But you have to live with the cards you’ve been given…some things you just cannot change.  I can wish for more intimate relationships in my life these days, but I just don’t see that happening.  Who knows?  (“The answers my friend are blowing in the wind….”)

Anybody know any nice Elder lesbians who are single and don’t have a lot of drama in their life, and want to hang out with me?  Let me know, please.

Living Alone during a Pandemic

December 17-18, 2021

I haven’t done a blog in a LONG time.  It’s nearly x-mas…and I’m a Jew, so x-mas isn’t my favorite time. Don’t get me wrong.  I love seeing x-mas trees.  But the capitalism of x-mas is way too much for me.  Too many commercials with stuff to buy.  And Chanukah is NOT the jewish x-mas. Here where I live (in a mostly non-Jewish community) we did celebrate Chanukah and it was lovely.  We lit candles in our lobby and many of my neighbors (mostly non-Jews) came down to participate because there’s not much else to do these days with the pandemic.  We did the blessing, then had to blow out the candles in the lobby and off we all went back to our apartments.  I came back upstairs and lit my own Chanukah candles and did the blessing, and even made latkes one night.  It was nice, but doing it alone isn’t really great fun.

X-mas is supposed to be spiritual, not about stuff.  Right?  You could have fooled me. I have a few neighbors who are spiritual human beings, and I know that they do x-mas not as a capitalist endeavor.   I have TV on too much these days, and all I see are commercials for x-mas presents.   BUY STUFF.  Non-stop.  With this new omicron variant alive and well…I’m indoors too much. To throw out the garbage about 20 feet away in my apartment building,  I put on my damn mask.  There’s covid where I live…too close to home.  As my newsletter says, I’ve been boostered…but that might not be enough these days.  

I remain a lonely single dyke.  It’s harder at holidays.  Pat is alive, and surviving at 82. I’ll probably see her around x-mas.  Not to celebrate, just to see her.  She still smiles when she sees me, so I’m not complaining.  When my mother died, she had alzheimer’s and she was one nasty old lady. I think she drove my father off the deep end.  He died first, and she followed soon after. Both lived to almost 90, so I guess it’s in the cards that I’ll live for quite a while yet…hopefully without alzheimer’s.   I have vascular dementia…not good blood flow to my brain, so I am forgetful.  I hope I don’t become a nasty old lady.  (I hope that’s not going to happen to me.) I take incredible notes on everything, so I don’t forget.  You should see my date book. It’s really hard to read. But I haven’t forgotten anything major.  I saw my family doctor (Dr Pam) last week.  She read the report done by a neuro doc recently about my memory. He said I’m not losing a ton more memory.  That’s good news, even though I feel like I am always losing more memory.  Dr Pam said I was the only healthy patient she saw last week that was “healthy.”

I’m writing this blog on the day that my new Chef for Seniors, Adi,  is here cooking me my meals.  Sadie old lady cat is hanging out hoping for leftovers.  I’ll have some good meals soon for the next two weeks.  

It’s hard writing these days because I don’t have a publisher for my memoir.  Hard to keep writing.  I’ll keep trying, but it is hard.  bell hooks just died, the wonderful feminist writer, at 69.  I sure would like to finish my book before I kick the bucket.  Not as a legacy, but as something I want/need to write before I’m done. Losing  bell hooks (AKA Gloria Watkins) was hard.  Like losing Gloria Anzaldua several years ago.  Yes, we have their words, but we don’t have them anymore.

I guess that’s why I haven’t done a blog in forever.  It’s hard writing. Period.  

So, the lonely dyke thing.  I really want to have some more intimacy in my life.  More than the many good friends I do have (and love) in my life, both where I live and long distance.  Zoom doesn’t quite cut it.  Disembodied people on the screen isn’t intimate. You can’t touch someone on the damn screen.   And I have too many damn zoom talks.   I’m still young enough to think about sex. Amazing at age 70.  I don’t want a wife.  But I’d love a once-in-awhile dyke to “play” with.  The dykes where I live all have partners. They are lovely women but they have girlfriends.  Socializing? Ha!  I used to meet women doing political work, but anything I do political now is on zoom.  I haven’t gone to any demonstrations in forever.  It’s not like I don’t want to do that, but it’s a little scary when you are 70.  I don’t want to be arrested by cops or pushed around.  I don’t want to become another Mr. George Floyd.  I lived in Minneapolis near where Mr. Floyd was killed by the cops, so I’m familiar with police and violence.  Yes, there are good cops. They are not all bad, I know that.  I’m white so it is less likely that a cop would hurt me, but cops aren’t the most gentle people, even if you are white.  I miss going to demos, but I just don’t want to risk it.  

I wish I had more “stuff” to do in my life.  But it’s winter here and the snow is scary for me.  I’m a person with “three legs” – two actual legs and my cane.  I have lots of new body parts – two knees, two shoulders and one hip that I wasn’t born with – bionic Lisa.   I hope I don’t have to get any other new parts.  So far, I’m holding up.  I’m really careful on the ice and snow. I have a one cane just for the winter – I can flip a piece on the bottom, and VOILA, it has a part that digs into the ice, so I’m a little safer.  

So back to my writing.  I did a holiday newsletter last year.  When Pat was my healthy partner, she was a graphic designer, and she made us a beautiful newsletter.  I’m not so skilled graphically, so now I’m on Volume 2 of my holiday newsletter.  It’s a long letter to all my Beloveds here and long distance…as far away as Chile and England.  It would be much more fun if I didn’t write my newsletter as this lonely single dyke.  Such is life.  I’m looking…but no luck. And as I say to everyone…find me a nice dyke without a lot of drama in her life.  I don’t want to live with her or marry her…I just want a little more intimacy in my life.  I’ve tried some of these lesbian dating sites.  They are not fun.  You write a profile about yourself, and I’ve said clearly that I’m “old,” wanting to meet someone my age, not wanting to jump into bed ASAP, etc. etc.  I get responses from these young dykes who want to have sex with me…even though in my profile, I say that’s not what I want.  I am not going to educate some young dykes about being an old dyke.  Where do you find dykes your age locally?  HELP!!!!  Having a fantasy life is not real.

I’ve taken on projects that keep me going.  I’ve been doing an intergenerational GLBTQ puppet camp!  It’s lovely.  But it’s ending soon.  I’m also in a cohort of “caregivers,” for people with Alzheimer’s.  We zoom regularly and are working on doing political advocacy for people with memory loss.  It is through Caregiving Across Generations.

Zoom is another story.  Of course, it’s how we live in the world now, given we have access, which not everyone has.  I hate talking to disembodied beings online.  I miss human touch. Period.  If there’s a theme to this blog…it’s living alone as a 70 year old single lesbian during a never-ending pandemic. Enough for now.  Blessings to the people who read this.

hot summer day

10 july 2021

I’ve been thinking about Death

I’m seventy and I’ve been to several funerals lately and some old friends have died.

Deborah’s dad died at age 96 from alzheimer’s. I never met him but felt like I was on the Alzheimer’s journey with Deborah. I went to Minnetonka (someone drove me to the funeral. I’m glad I was there for Deborah and kate and I got to see their daughter.

Alix dobkin…famous lesbian activist, writer, musician. She died too. I didn’t know her but heard her many times at the Michigan womyn’s music festival and here in mpls at an OLOC, old lesbians organizing for change conference. Pat worked on that conference. Her music was kind of “folk” music but really important in the lesbian music world.

Ramona, my old and dear friend here in Minneapolis just texted me several days ago. Her former partner, trish, just died. She lived down south, had a stroke and went quickly. When I moved to mpls with my former parter, Bev…trish and ramona were our best friends. They introduced us to all the dykes here. We lived around the corner from them in south minneapolis. Now, trish is gone.

Rick cardenas, a long time disabled rights activist died. I was lucky enough to know him. He did amazing work. I used lots of his materials in my classes. He was a social justice activist for EVERY issue. Plus, his sister, joann, was my TA in general college years ago. She was great. I really wanted to see her at rick’s memorial. But I found out that she had died several years ago. Another death. Rick’s memorial was at a city park in st paul. It was hot. I didn’t know anyone there but I went and I’m glad I was there to honor him.

My childhood best friend, Susan, found a wonderful guy when she was in her 40’s, and married him. He died. Had a heart attack. Age 62., They had a unique relationship. she kept her rent controlled apartment in NYC and they had a house in the Catskills where he lived. They talked every day, and she rode the bus to their house maybe twice a month. He cooked and cleaned for her. Now he is gone. I went to their wedding in Vegas and wore a tux. I really liked Vince. He adored Sue. Now she is…a widow. She went to an on-line jewish dating service and is dating a guy and enjoying herself now. I’m happy for her.

Several years ago, I went on line briefly and “joined” a lesbian dating service. I had to pay. All the women I met “on-line” just wanted to have sex. Period. I got off that service. About a week ago, I tried again. I filled out a questionnaire about “me.” But I decided I didn’t want to do that again so I didn’t pay and that’s done.

So all these deaths are hard for someone who is 70. I’m relatively healthy. I function. I’m writing. I see people. I garden. I have many friends. But my memory is bad because I have vascular dementia. If I don’t write everything down, and I mean everything…I forget stuff. I hate it. I’m trying to write this memoir and it scares me to think I might not remember my own

The other thing about dying that I think about…is being alone, without a life partner. I am lonely. Sometimes it’s ok. I’m independent. I’m pretty smart. I move very slowly so I don’t fall. I drive carefully only in daylight and I use google maps. Yeah, I’m so smart. And I’m not afraid to ask for help. And I have many wonderful people in my life who help me regularly.

But at age seventy, I would like to share this time in my life with a partner, and I don’t have one. Where the hell does a 70 year old lesbian find a girlfriend? I don’t do bars. I’ve never done “casual” dating/sex. At becketwood, where I live, there are lesbians, but they are all

It is hard thinking about dying alone. Alone without a beloved. I have beloveds in my life, but that is not the same. I want a beloved to care for me in this time…the sunset of my life. Maybe I’ll live another 20 years. Who knows? I don’t want to get morbid so I think I’ll stop now.

Guilty, Guilty, Guilty on all three counts.

New blog post 21 april 2021

Guilty, Guilty, Guilty on all three counts.  I am still in shock and stunned by the verdict to convict the white cop of the murder of Mr. Floyd.  Shock.  Shock heard around the world, not just in Minneapolis.  I got up at 6:30 am this morning and brought in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, wondering if this had really happened yesterday.  I felt like I needed more proof.  In huge font…”CONVICTED. Jury finds Derek Chauvin guilty of murder.” I am still staring at the newspaper.  A white cop finally found guilty of murdering a Black man. Minneapolis will not burn as it did last spring when Mr. Floyd was murdered by this white cop.  

We have yet to bury Mr. Wright, also killed by a whit cop last week.  A white woman cop who thought she was using her taser, but actually used her gun.  Guns are heavier than tasers. I’ve learned that not from experience, but from reading.  This white cop had stopped Mr. Wright because he had an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, and then she saw on her computer screen in her police vehicle that his tabs had expired.  White cops stopping men of color (and women of color too).  They scuffled outside Mr. Wright’s automobile, and then she used her gun, instead of her taser.  She was training another cop, and had been on the police force in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota for 25 years.  Was this racism at work?  An honest error?  Or both?  I don’t know if we will ever know that truth. This verdict yesterday will not end white police violence against people of color and indigenous people.  It is a start, and for that I am grateful as a white woman.  I have been stopped and ticketed by police officers.  However, I have never feared for my life.  This is because I am white.  I am absolutely sure of that.  

There are three more former Minneapolis police officers going on trial for the murder of Mr. Floyd.  They watched as Chauvin had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck, and did nothing.  They will probably and hopefully be found guilty.  When the verdict was read by Judge Cahill, I sat in front of my TV alone, and yelled, YES…three times. Guilty of second-degree unintentional murder.  Guilty of third-degree murder. Guilty of second-degree manslaughter.  The image of this cop being taken away in handcuffs behind his back will be etched in my mind and heart forever. The world will know in several weeks what kind of sentence this white cop will receive.  He will go to prison.  We don’t know for how long.  Sentencing guidelines suggest he could be put away for up to 40 years, though he has never been convicted before.  Remember, he is still white.  

President Biden and Vice-President Harris spoke to the Floyd family, and then spoke on national TV.  Next steps?  Passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.  It has passed federally in the House, but not in the Senate.  We shall see.

I feel a modicum of hope, though this court case will not end white supremacy or white police violence against people of color.  Should I have hope today?  I want to say yes, but I just don’t know if change will happen.  I just don’t know how many white supporters of the former president, also known as “the orange man,” in my own writings, will be changed by this verdict. I want to have hope. 

Practicing Praxis, An Occasional Blog

3-7 April 2021

How does one capture what it feels like to turn 70 years old?  It’s hard.  Today, during this pandemic, I had a “drive by” birthday party.  

In the midst of the murder trial because of the death of Mr. George Floyd, an African American man, killed by a white Minneapolis police officer here in Minneapolis last June.  In the midst of a car that killed a police man in Washington DC. yesterday. In the midst of a pandemic where a half a million people just in the U.S. have died.  In the midst of people in Minneapolis living in tents because they are homeless and/or lost their job. In the midst of so many people starving around the world because they are poor, because where they live isn’t safe, because they are migrants or immigrants. In the midst of rich people getting richer in the U.S.  In the midst of people of color in the U.S. not getting access to the vaccines that might help them live longer lives. 

And today, I am privileged enough to have had a “drive by” birthday party.  No, it wasn’t all white people. Friends came today because they love me (and I am blessed to have so many beloveds). They came because they care about me and wanted to celebrate my 70th birthday.  My memory, due to vascular dementia, isn’t great, so I’m writing to remember today. I’m writing so I have a record in my mind about today. All of today.  My friend, Leigh Combs, took pictures of everyone to document the day.  And I want to remember as much of today as I can. I have written copious notes of who came here today, who called, who sent me an email or a text to say happy birthday.  I want to remember all of my friends and say thank you.

This blog will go on my website, and some of this might go into my book, Are We ‘There’ Yet?: Social Justice Journeys in my Lifetime.  My literary agent (sounds fancy!) is Grace Freedson.  She has her own literary network.  We went to high school together, and then lost track of each other for decades.  I was a bridesmaid (!) in her wedding when I was 21 years old. Wait until you see that picture!  She worked for a publisher and then because she is brilliant, she created her own network.  She shops my book to publishers and if someone wants my book (!!!), she will make her money by getting a percentage of my royalties.  And we both know that books by white people about social justice ain’t gonna go on the best sellers list. I am blessed to have Grace in my life.  So I keep writing.

It is Easter weekend.  I’m a Jew and Passover ends tomorrow.  I love matzah but I am getting a little tired of it.  It will be Ramaden for my Muslim sisters and brothers in another two weeks. They will fast and not eat until the sun goes down for…I’m not sure how long. More than a week.  Today, there were (Christian?) grandchildren running around Becketwood on an Easter egg hunt.  Again, not my thing.

I remain “single, solo and senior,” in quotes because of the holiday newsletter I sent out to friends.  It is hard doing this pandemic with a life partner.  I am lonely. I love my kitties, both old and wonderful.  They have been my buddies, but I sure would love to have a warm body next to me sometimes.  I have a crush on someone. That’s all I will tell here. Do NOT attempt to get his information out of me.   She is not available for many reasons, but I do enjoy having a crush. Makes me feel a little more human. 

So…who came to my drive-by?  I am going to name as best as I can all the beloveds who came today, as well as those who contacted me and could not make it.  I am blessed. Many of my beloved social justice students came by. I love them dearly.  In no particular order…Jennifer Nguyen Moore and her daughter Luna and husband Kendrick. Jennifer and I go back 16 years to General College days.  She does environmental justice as a woman of color and has had to face all the horrible Anti-Asian violence that has been happening in the U.S. It is not new news,  but it is worse during this phase of the pandemic.  Too many people, mostly white people saying it’s “those Asians” who brought the pandemic to the U.S.   Mollie Lacey, a white lesbian, who lived a block from where Mr. Floyd was murdered, but has moved with her partner, to be less in the war zone, and to feel less traumatized.  Yes, there are white people who have been traumatized by the murder, though we cannot feel it the way people of color can.  Sara Kettering, the white woman who got a Master’s Degree in Public Health. She really wants to do work with people with Alzheimer’s, since she lost her father to the disease. She has had the privilege to do lots of unpaid organizing for quite a while.  She’s really done a ton to stay in contact and connected with the many social justice students, so I’ve stayed in contact because of her work. She just got a job finally and is working with a small non-profit collecting prescription drugs that people are not using any longer. Her organization is finding ways to re-circulate meds to those who need it.  Then there’s Katie Nordhagen, who has helped me so much over the past years, driving me to doctor appointments and helping me move. She and her partner, Erick stopped by. We have often gone for grilled cheese to the All Square Restaurant locally where formerly incarcerated people work, as they take “classes” from the founder of All Square, to acquire job skills and go on to productive lives, since it is so damn hard for former felons to find work in the U.S.  And the grilled cheese is great!  

A bunch of former social justice students texted or emailed me…Dana Johnson (doing a PhD in Texas about reproductive justice which she learned about initially in the social justice minor!); Laura Anderson with two kids works in a hospital but her husband has the virus now; Amanda Swarr who lives out west not sure where, has lived and worked in South Africa; Ellen Schneeberger (Schneeee!), not sure what she’s doing but I heard from her; Amanda Stapleton, an Asian adoptee, has done immigrant organizing; Jon Delperdang, a new Dad, not sure where he’s living but he loves being a Dad; Chelsey Perkins, a journalist in Minnesota in a small town, doing great reporting and loving it; Crystal Spring, a radical teacher in the Minneapolis schools teaching drama (Augusto Boal’s theatre) to urban youth; Robyn McGrade, in Minneapolis, I think trying to run her own restaurant during the pandemic, no easy feat; Tori Hong, fabulous artist who started doing art in the social justice minor and now has her own business, and who has a partner, Minh Bui, who created and updates my website:  There’s more…I’m looking through my notes, but will move on and if I see other people in my notes, I’ll add them back.

I’ve come back to this blog, but don’t feel like I have the energy right now to write more.  There’s more to say…just not right now. Gonna get this posted.  Thank you as always, Hayden Bui, the brilliant man who designed my website and posts for me.

Practicing Praxis, a new blog entry

March 16-22, 2021

It is almost Passover, 2021.  I happen to love Matzah with butter, and Matzah Brei for breakfast, and prior to the pandemic, I made all these different kinds of Haroset from all over the world for our sedars.  If you don’t know what haroset is…look it up please.  It’s part of the ritual foods we eat at Passover. We have big dinners called Sedars on the first two nights of Passover.  Passover lasts 8 nights but we only have these big gatherings on the first two nights. 

It is hard being a Jew in a Christian world.  I live in a Senior Cooperative building in Minneapolis. There’s only a handful of Jews living here as best as I can tell…given that we all wear masks. I don’t know how many people live here, surely between a hundred to two hundred.   I moved in at the beginning of the pandemic over six months ago, so I only know faces with masks. 

Last December, 2020 about six months after I moved in, I asked the management of the Cooperative if I could place an electric menorah in the lobby of my building since there were multiple x-mas trees in the lobby.  It’s not that I’m such a religious Jew; I’ve explained to non-Jewish friends that Chanukah is a minor Jewish holiday but it became a big deal because Jewish kids wanted presents at x-mas time, so Chanukah became the “Jewish x-mas.” (I don’t literally this, but you get the point, right?} 

Spring has sprung in Minneapolis so it’s lovely to be having some warm weather as Passover approaches. No buds on trees yet, but they are coming soon.  And equally important, my birthday is April 3rd…as spring begins to happen here.

I am turning 70 years old in a few weeks.  That blows my mind. When you are young, you don’t think of yourself as aging.  So I never imagined myself turning 70 years old.  Damn, I say this aloud and it blows me away.  Seventy years old.  

As I am turning this momentous corner, I’m working on trying to finish my life story/my memoir.  It’s called:  Are We ‘There’ Yet?” Social Justice Journeys in my Lifetime.  It’s scary working on this book.  It just has my name on it.  The other books I’ve worked on with Beloveds were collaborative works. This will just have my name on it.  Damn.

I’ve never sat down for long periods of time to write without a pressing deadline.  It feels great to sit for several hours and just think about putting my words on the page. What a privilege!  The more I write, the more I believe that this book will really happen.

I just finished revising a chapter, “My Mother’s Story.” It is about my mother’s journey into alzheiemer’s and what it was like for me.  I’ve started to do a podcast, and I also decided to read this chapter at a weekly zoom call for members of the Becketwood community.  All this happening as Passover will begin in about ten days.

I’m also doing a podcast.  I am planning on reading the chapter about my mother on an upcoming podcast.

Going back to the chapter I am working on…

Practicing Praxis – A New Blog Post

February 26, 2021

Damn, it has been a while since last I wrote a blog post.  And now, I’ve started my own podcast.  Look me up and you’ll find me!  You’ll find links on this website.  

Spring is in the air!  It feels wonderful after what feels like a forever winter living during this pandemic.  I want to burn my mask!  Yesterday, I took off my flannel sheets and put on lovely cotton sheets.  I opened my windows to let in some fresh air, though it’s not totally warm yet in Minneapolis. I had to close my windows today! And the weather people are saying we might still have some snow. I hope not.

I live in Becketwood, a senior cooperative here in Minneapolis.  I’m on a committee, the “diversity” committee.  Most senior living places are VERY white, because of who inherits wealth in this country (mostly white peeps), so as we age, there’s more white people who can afford to live in senior places. Becketwood sees “diversity” as something for the marketing people to work on, and I’ve tried to explain that diversity isn’t about “add and stir.” You can’t just advertise in places where people of color live or hang out.  You don’t just add people of color to your community or your workplace and “stir.”  Us white people need to build relationships with people of color, and that takes time. And I don’t know a ton of people of color who want to hang out and hook up with us white people so we can count them as our friends.  We (white peeps)  get nervous around people of color if we haven’t had them in our lives.  We have micro-aggressions. Look that up. I don’t want to go into that in this blog.  Us white folks aren’t so smart, and we don’t realize that POC (people of color) can “read” our discomfort immediately.

A side note which is related…I’m working on my life story – a memoir.  Memoir feels like such a fancy word. But, I’m turning 70 on April 3rd…and that’s a big threshold, and it’s coming up soon.  I never imagined myself as an elder, or a person turning 70.  I don’t think I’m being ageist. It just still feels like a HUGE threshold to be crossing.  My book is called, Are We ‘There’ Yet?: Social Justice Journeys in My Lifetime.  I have a literary agent!  Look up Grace Freedson.  I was a bridesmaid in her wedding when I was 20 years old!  We did not keep up with each other. But we re-connected a few years ago through Facebook (thank you Zuckerberg).  Grace worked for publishers earlier in her life, but she is brilliant and started her own literary network.  Her job?  I’ve given her a bunch of information about my book and she tries to “sell” my book to a publisher.  When she succeeds, she will claim a percentage of any royalties I might earn.  And I’m not planning on having my book appear on the New York Times best seller list. So Grace won’t get rich and neither will I. She’s wonderful and I’m incredibly lucky.

Now…Back to “diversifying” our lives as white people.  There’s no formula, I’m afraid. My journey has meant taking back roads, side streets, roads with lots of potholes and roads where you hit a dead end.  No super-highways. I don’t have magic answers. In fact, I’m not sure what else I can say right now.  In my book, I tell lots of stories about all these back roads. I’m going to read a chapter from my book on a zoom link here at Becketwood in a few weeks. I’m really curious how people will respond. At Becketwood, as I noted, we want to live in a diverse community but it has not happened and our committee is attempting to change who we are.

When I think about change (in the context of talking about diversity), I think about what happened in Washington DC on January 6th, and the trauma of watching the insurrection happen. I think about when Mr. Floyd was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis in May. The trial of the police officer will be starting in the next few weeks.  Our governor has allocated a huge sum of money to “protect” people from any violence that might happen.  But are people of color “protected” from the police in this country? NO.  When the violent insurrection happened in Washington, DC, the folks of color in my life immediately knew their lives were at risk, and one friend said to me, “I’ve got to go food shopping, because I don’t want to be out on the streets…”

There is nothing easy about creating a world where people of different racial backgrounds can live together harmoniously. Certainly not here in the United States in 2021.  I’m going to go back to my now and work on another chapter.  Don’t know if this has been very inciteful. So be it for now.

Make New friends but keep the old

October 13, 2020

“Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold. Make new friends, but keep the old; Those are silver, these are gold.” The song came from a poem written by Joseph Parry who was born in 1841 and died in 1903. Many years ago while I was a Brownie and then a Girl Scout, I learned valuable lessons (along with having fun) that I really did not fully appreciate at the time. Age and lived experience have shone (shined?) a different light on some of those things. I wanted to do links for many of the sites connected to the ideas/people in this blog, but I don’t know how to do it, and can’t remember how.

If you were in scouting, the first few lines of one song likely quickly come to mind.
Until recently, I had forgotten the others.

I have something called “vascular dementia.” What is this? In healthy brains, we produce blood vessels that feed our brain. My brain doesn’t do this. My blood vessels are dying off and causing me to forget a ton of stuff. Like tonight, I couldn’t find my cane in my less-than-1,000-square-foot- apartment. I searched and searched everywhere. No, I don’t have Alzheimer’s Disease, but I do have this form of dementia. Dementia doesn’t mean I’m crazy; it means I can’t remember shit. I’m hanging on during this pandemic because of my beloved friends. Leigh Combs, dear friend, who is driving me around (because I’m fearful that I could hurt myself or someone else if I drive). She is also helping me give away many books to places like the East Side Freedom Library in St. Paul, and the GLBT Library at the U of MN. She does a great interview too—she interviewed me for her podcast…it’s somewhere here on my website; she interviewed me for her podcasts (pre-pandemic) There’s Sara Kettering, who just finished her Master’s Degree in Public Health, and was a brilliant undergrad in the Social Justice Minor that I co-created. And Katie Nordhagen, another former Social Justice Minor who has shlepped me to various doctors for my ulcer in my esophogus (another fun fact that comes from covid stress. She works for Cargill and is continuously on Zoom doing amazing work. There’s also Robbin Frazier. She worked for the Alzheimer’s Association and now administers an amazing program at the U. of MN where she educates and organizes primarily communities of color about Alzheimer’s. Then there’s Dr. Eddie (Eddie Moore Jr, founder of the White Privilege Conference who calls me to give me love, and I’ve joked with him when I said that I do know more than a few African American men around the country. There’s Tori Hong, another former social justice minor student whom I love who creates beautiful art and pays herself for her work, something she first explored in the social justice minor. There’s also Hayden Bui, the trans man of color who created my amazing website and has made it full of so much of what matters in my life.

There’s more people who care about me… I just can’t remember who they are right now. Hugs virtually to all, lisa

Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
New-made friendships, like new wine,
Age will mellow and refine.
Friendships that have stood the test-
Time and change-are surely best;
Brow may wrinkle, hair grow gray;
Friendship never knows decay.
For ‘mid old friends, tried and true,
Once more we our youth renew.
But old friends, alas! may die;

New friends must their place supply.
Cherish friendship in your breast-
New is good, but old is best;
Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
The song came from a poem written by Joseph Parry who was born in
1841 and died in 1903. I am not aware of when the Girl Scouts began to
use the words in the song I came to know or how often they altered all but
the first stanza.

Practicing Praxis, an occasional blog by Lisa Albrecht, 25 August 2020

My eye surgery was on august 11, 2020. In the midst of this never-ending pandemic, I had a hole in my left retina. I could not see well at all. Now, I’m working on patience, which is not easy for me.

I’m sitting up in my bed, with the Republican Party Convention on MSNBC. I do love Rachel Maddow. If only this is/was fiction… but it isn’t. Orange Man (as I call him) is the great savior! He’s saved our country with his timely response to the virus! (really?).

He’s the great patriot! And it’s those Democrats who are ruining our country. Taking away our freedom of speech! (really?) I did, indeed, watch the Democratic Party Convention last week, and even felt slightly optimistic about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Hard to believe that an elder middle of the road white man could make me feel positive. That’s a pretty sad statement.

Last night, members of the Orange Man’s family spoke. What a wonderful dude!
Defending many U.S. cities from “defunding” police departments! (Oh no…that includes Minneapolis!) A white woman who is head of the Republican Party proudly saying she’s a housewife… a regular gal! A married hetero white couple who defended their home (with guns) from rioters…many of whom were people of color! An African American Republican Senator (the only one) raving about how great Orange Man is. And former NFL African American football player, Hershel Walker, saying there’s no way that Orange Man is racist. He knows for sure, since he’s such a good buddy. And an African American cop… saying how wonderful Orange Man is for all cops. Christ was also prominent too as Savior of the Republican Party. It makes me so sad that there are so many wonderful and radical Christians who have to hear this.

Tonight, Secretary of State Pompeo will be speaking from the King David Hotel in Israel. That’s “illegal.” Government officials are not supposed to do that…Pompeo SAID THAT. MSNBC just announced that the Republican Party just cancelled another speaker, a woman who spewed anti-Jewish rhetoric, citing the Protocols of Zion, among the most anti-Jewish pieces of hate ever written.

The Republican Party is great at finding MANY people of color who support Orange Man. Another sad statement. He’s now pardoning an African American man on camera, smiling and signing a document I just heard Senator Rand Paul endorsing Orange Man. Surprising. And best lie that Rachel Maddow just reminded us about… Troops reduced all over the world, thanks to Orange Man. I remain stunned that there are so many people in this country who believe that Orange Man is making America great again. Enough for tonight.

Practicing Praxis: Friday, Aug. 7, 2020

It’s one of those nights where I can’t sleep. The melatonin doesn’t help and my doc doesn’t want me to take sleeping pills. I don’t know if this is a blog or the preface to “my” memoir or another chapter in the memoir.

I have such a hard time with technology these days. I can’t keep up and I don’t remember things like websites, passwords, etc.

I hear the clock ticking every day now. It’s the clock of my life and I’m alone and often scared. I will have retina surgery in several days – Aug 11 th , 2020. We’re in the midst of the pandemic that has exploded around the world because the corona virus is so contagious. Here in the U.S., we have a federal government that is a mess, “led” by Orange Man Frump. I cannot say his name. More and more people are dying, especially from communities that have been historically marginalized. People of color, poor people, old people, disabled people. As an old and disabled person, I’m in one of those “historically marginalized communities,” though I still have enormous white privilege and class privilege. I’m a lesbian in a big city in the Midwest where people don’t kill lesbians openly, which makes me relatively safe. I’m not “fragile” nor do I support the concept of “white fragility.” I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge and I get my social security check and I have retirement money. I don’t ever want to be silent, especially in the face of racism right now in the U.S.

After the murder of Mr. Floyd by local police here in Minneapolis (May 25, 2020) there was incredible violence here, and all over the world. Much of Lake Street in Minneapolis, and parts of University Avenue in St Paul burned. There are still boards over storefronts that have not re- opened as well as empty spaces on city streets where buildings burned to the ground. Many of the plywood boards say, “BLM” or “This is a POC-owned business.” These words have been sprayed painted on the boards; there’s also incredible artwork, done, I assume, by local street artists. There’s beautiful paintings of Mr. Floyd, and there are indelible markers everywhere naming all the people (mostly African American men—but let’s not forget women of all colors and trans people of color) who have been killed by police around the U.S. When I went to the memorial site on Chicago Ave. and 38th St, I went to say a prayer, not to go to a demo. But I saw more white people who look like me taking pictures on that corner. Fuck, a black man was murdered by police there! And many of us white people want to post pictures telling friends on Facebook that “we were there.” That is not about social justice. I think of the concept that Jesse Villalobos and I have spoken and written about: white followership. Us white people need to learn how to follow and not be at the front of the line. It’s not a bad thing because not everyone is a leader. It’s time now for people of color in the U.S. to move us forward since we white folks are still embracing white supremacy (even though we deny this).

(I just stopped writing to try to shrink the size of my text here. And I fucking don’t know how to do that so I don’t see the ends of my lines of type. I hate fucking technology sometimes. I refuse during this pandemic to be on 10 zoom call meetings every day. But I wish I was better with this shit.)

I’m several days away from retina eye surgery and I’m scared. I’m alone, in the Becketwood Senior Cooperative and I don’t know many people here, since I moved in May during the pandemic. Everyone wears a mask so I can’t see people’s faces. Even before masks, I wasn’t very good remembering names and faces. Now it’s worse. I am going to get tested for alzheimer’s. I’m not going to obsess on it, but I do worry. I’ve watched Pat go downhill for over a decade. She is in what is called end-stage alzheimer’s. She is safe and well cared for in Cecilia’s Place and Grace Hospice manages coordinating her care. I wonder often if she’s going to outlive many of us since she doesn’t have pandemic stress. When I see her, she smiles, says random words and when I visit at meal time, I feed her as she sits up in her hospital bed in her diapers. Life is prolonged in this country by doctors who just want to keep us alive. ( Read Atul Gawande’s book – Being Mortal). Pat is 81 and she can’t feed herself, bathe herself or offer a full sentence that makes sense. But she is still smiling. I’m glad she didn’t turn into the alzheimer’s person who was my mother, always whining, crying, being nasty and miserable.
But it’s still so fucking hard. I don’t really have a partner anymore, and her adult children are not my children. We have relationships, but not ones that are deep and meaningful.

I am alone, no partner. I can wish all I want but I don’t see finding an old lesbian on my horizon as possible. I’ve had several crushes recently, but I haven’t acted on them. It’s not the right time for me now.

I’ve gotten to this surgery because a number of my former students (or people connected to them) have been taking care of me. I haven’t been driving and my apartment at Becketwood is less than 1,000 square feet and I have so much shit. Books from my professor days, tons of papers…endless. I’m paying for a storage locker close by, but I long for a simpler life. I just haven’t figured out how to make that happen. Am I a pack rat? The Becketwood social worker asked me that. Yes, a single woman retired professor, alone, except for her two cats, not in great health, dragging around too much crap. Since I don’t have children that I gave birth to, in many ways my former social justice students are the people I’ve nurtured over many different years in various settings. They bring tears to my eyes because so many of them are doing incredible things in the world, and they are willing to come and help me. That blows me away.

They are my heroes.

I’m no longer part of the Warriors for the Human Spirit community; I was dismissed by Meg Wheatley because I talked aloud about white supremacy, especially so white people who are Warriors could figure out how to listen to people of color and deal with white supremacy. I’m no longer on the Board of Project South. Thank you sister Rose Brewer who opened the door to the incredible education I got working with Project South. But they moved to working exclusively in the South with Southern people in leadership. I’m no longer work with SURJ: Showing up for Racial Justice, either nationally or locally. I left on my own terms but there were folks there who didn’t like my “style.” What does that mean? Being a NYC Jew in your face dyke? That’s some of it for sure. I learned so much about Buddhism when I was involved with Warriors for the Human Spirit. I believe I’ve become a much better listener and learner and teacher, and I’m enormously grateful.

I think I’m not quite so “in your face” as I used to be, though I still stand by the words – “Never be silent in the face of injustice.” Am I gentler? Maybe a little, but I still won’t let people or institutions off the hook. Again, isn’t it about time that more of us white folks learn to speak out for genuine racial equity, not simply including people of color, but really changing who runs institutions and who makes decisions.

I’m fearful about the upcoming election. I fear that Orange Man Fromp will manufacture a way to bypass elections or create new chaos here. And all we have is Biden. An older white man liberal who isn’t very radical. He’s yet to pick his vice president. Many hope he will pick a Black woman. We shall see. Again, the “system” is rigged. Just like there’s little hope for “police reform;” I’m now calling it police deform.

I was going to do a racial justice workshop through the St Paul community acupuncture network, organized by Trish Kanous, who is white and Muslim. I wrote up a description, Trish was getting a church to host us, it wasn’t going to be on zoom and it was going to be a small group. Guess what? We advertised it for over-55 white people who were struggling with how to build community with people of color, especially Black people. And no one signed up. No
one. What does this say? Are we white people not wanting to really deal with white supremacy? But we ARE willing to show up and take pictures of the memorial site where Mr.Floyd was murdered by cops.

It’s late now for me. Closing in on 2 am, and I need to continue to work on cleaning up and cleaning out my apartment before the surgery. This felt good to write. I don’t write much at all anymore. My eye has not hampered my ability to see this screen on my laptop. My phone is too small to do anything like this. That’s one reason why I hate text messages. People don’t
want to talk on the phone. They just want to punch out a few sentences. I’m not looking for a two hour conversation but I appreciate hearing someone’s voice. And thinking aloud spontaneously.

Enough for now. Virtually yours, Lisa