Merry Christmas.I’m home sick today, nursing a cough and cold and what you see is the extent of my holiday decorating. I’m drinking guava juice out of a reindeer wine glass wondering where has the sparkle of the holiday gone? But we’ll get to that a little bit later. My assigned duties for tomorrow are much more important than those I had today, according to the powers that be, so I decided I should try to get well today . It seems Interventional Procedures are more beneficial than providing psychological support and teaching people coping skills to deal with their chronic pain conditions, so far be it from me to miss the opportunity to serve them in that capacity manana.
December is always a tough one for me. My mom died 18 years in early December and Christmas hasn’t seemed the same without the idea that she’s happy in her kitchen making kolaches and peppernuts and sugar cookies and all the delicacies I remember so fondly from my childhood. I think she is somewhere, though, with a smile on her face enjoying the same fine memories and hoping we will carry on those long held traditions that were practiced so many generations before us.
I miss Grace, she’s in Portland, but doing well. She sends me pictures of the gingerbread houses she makes and from her snowboard and snowshoe trips she takes with her friends. She is such a joy and I’m glad she’s living her life fully.
Emmy and Jason and the kids are in Virginia. They’ve put up the tree and I’ve sent all of the packages to be placed under them. I haven’t been with them now for 5 Christmases. I haven’t been able to watch the children’s smiling faces on Christmas morning. How I’ve missed that! I’ll be home soon though.
March 17th is the day I’ve set for my retirement. I don’t know what I really think about that. I’m still going to have to work every day for the rest of my life, I’m sure. The nagging thought of being put out to pasture remains.
San Francisco has priced me out as it has so many others and I can’t survive here any longer. The people who built the city, the ones who lived and laughed and fought to make San Francisco what it historically has been, all of those people have been replaced with folks here to spend and make a buck. Money talks and if this new influx of San Francisco immigrants can raise the price of studio apartments to $2000 a month and one bedroom apartments to $4000/month, the rest of us are gonna have to play along and try to do the best we can.
I, for one, can’t do it. I probably would if I could but it’s no longer a possibility. The feeling of the city, the ambiance isn’t the same. Folks don’t know their neighbors much less help them. It’s a mass of strangers passing each other every day on sidewalks. A “Good Morning” is usually not reciprocated and everyone is just going their own way trying to survive.
A city of beauty San Francisco is, but I don’t see the joy. I don’t see a community of benevolence like the San Francisco of yore. I belong to the Star of the Sea Catholic Community, I have been poorly participating I hate to admit. My friends ask where I have been and I respond I’ve been around. It makes me think where have I been?
I’ve been holed up in my studio apartment is where I’ve been, too poor to go anywhere or do anything. I know I should have heeded the signs earlier but I wouldn’t accept failure.
I’ve been here, the City of my Dreams, for over four years now. I’m in credit card hell because of it. I’ve also experienced spectacular times. My trip to Israel last February is still deeply embedded in my soul. I would never have been able to do that if I hadn’t been here.
The truth is, I have everything I could ever want or need. I’ve got my health (mostly). I’ve had a career that has, and hopefully will continue to serve me well. I have my family, my grand babies. All I could ever want. But I sit here in this little room and I feel empty. I feel numb. I feel like I don’t feel, but I do. I feel a sense of remorse in not being able to leave on my own terms. I feel incompetent that I couldn’t handle my finances more proficiently, I feel, basically, a sense of failure. I’m at an age where it’s difficult to find work. No age discrimination? Already experienced it. Will I be able to find meaningful work and keep my Virginia house? Will I find friends there? Is this a new beginning or an end to a nightmare? All these thoughts are tumbling around in my head instead of looking to a beautiful time ahead, watching my grandchildren grow, planting a garden, fixing up the house, putting it in order. I have so much to look forward to.
Absolutely overwhelmed. Situational depression. I suspect I’m not the only one who has ever felt this way. Isn’t it strange that you might know deep in your soul what needs to happen but just can’t get there?
Looking inward is not the answer. It’s when we look out and see the beautiful world and participate in it as it goes round and round that we feel whole. It truly is not about the “I” but the “we”. What affects one of us affects all of us I truly believe. The self-imposed isolation we suffer when we become frightened is incapacitating. These things I know.
So I’m going to take a cold pill, get ready to go to mass and listen to Father Joseph’s words and reflect on how to lead my life. What do I value most? What do I want my life to look like? What do we hold dear above all else? Father Joseph will remind me.
Ah Father Joseph. I’ll miss him so. I believe we are friends. I think if you’re not friends with someone you wouldn’t get mad enough at them to spit. We’ve been there. I will think of him and all that he represents always. He’s taught me volumes. I know exactly what he’ll be doing. He will be struggling with his conscience and then doing what he believes is right. He always does. If he ever thinks of me, I think he would feel bewildered. My path has never been linear. I suspect it will never be. But I hope he would remember that my heart is kind and mostly pure and that I really do want world peace.
This season of the year is complex. It brings out the best in us and sometimes the parts of us we would rather not acknowledge. But I still believe that people are basically good. I, for one, need to concentrate on the good in the world and give thanks that He chose me to be a part of his masterpiece. Happy Birthday, God!
Merry Christmas everybody! Visiting with you has really lifted my spirits. This special time of year is to be shared, even the dismal times. I thank you for being a part of my life. God Bless You and God Bless America… we’re in dire need.