Qia and the dark

This story is part of a series about a Balint group for angels. Balint groups are groups for physicians to get together and talk about cases that bother them. This often means facing their own biases and discriminatory feelings. I wrote this in January 2022. The current estimate of Long Covid is 10 to 30% of non hospitalized people. Which is huge and terrifying.

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“And really, it looks like at least half the population will get Omicron. The question,” says Qia, “is how much Long Haul it causes. If it causes 30-50%, like Delta, we are in serious trouble.”

The angels are silent.

“Do you think it will?”

“I am hoping for under 10%.” says Qia. “But of course I do not know.”

Silence again.

“Why do you go to WORST CASE?” snaps Algernon. His wings rustle.

Qia blinks at him slowly.

She thinks about it. “It is the safest place to start.”

Algernon frowns at her. Another angel slowly nods.

“If I start in the worst case scenario, I can face it. I have to think about it, work through it, plan for it. Then I can back off and hope for one of the less horrific scenarios.”

“You are WEIRD.” says Algernon.

Qia is annoyed. Her wings go bat and blood red.

“Word.” whispers a very young angel.

“WHY?” snaps Qia, “WHY NOT face the worst?”

“Most people never do,” says the moderator.

“What?” says Qia.

“Most people never face the worst. They don’t want to. They are terrified. They are scared. They do things to avoid thinking about it. They skip that step and just go straight to hope.”

Qia glares at her. The moderator smiles and her wings go black as pitch.

“We aren’t PEOPLE. We are ANGELS.” says Qia, nearly snarling.

Algernon laughs. “Yeah, well, some of us do not want to think about the worst either. That is Gawd(esses) job.”

Qia is doubly pissed off to be crying. “No, we have to think too.”

“Qia, I agree, but it is hard.” says the moderator. “That is why you have the job you have. Because you are willing to go straight to the dark.”

Qia has her face in her hands.

The angels surround her, soothing, and start to sing.

Dead letter

I get a letter for my mother on Saturday, asking for money.

I am answering the request. I write: Helen Ottaway died May 15, 2000. Take her off your mailing list.

I did not sign my name and I do not fill out a return address. Here is a picture of it, before the stamp. Habitat for Humanity, the next county south. They have not endeared themselves to me.

I get mail for the dead. My mother, my father, my sister. It is the colleges and universities that hang on. Princeton and Cornell have not found me, but my father’s preparatory school Williston, knows where I live. They send me reports. My father hated Williston. My sister went to the University of Washington and graduate school at the University of Oregon. I went to the University of Wisconsin and the Medical College of Virginia and residency at OHSU in Portland, Oregon, so I get mail from all of those. I like the science reports from the University of Wisconsin best. My son went to Washington State University, but has escaped their alumni association, who send me mail. My daughter went to Western Washington and has also escaped their clutches.

I get medical mail too. The American Academy of Family Practice Journal. I do not pay for JAMA but it comes anyhow. Various Family Practice journals and then drug company propaganda. Every so often I get a box of samples. Last time it was glucerna. I guess they have noticed I am older. One odd piece of medical mail is Guns and Ammo. The back story is that we ordered Woman’s Day when the clinic opened in 2010. Then we watched who they sold our information to. The scam is that a magazine will arrive for a year and then they will bill for the next year. We got Smithsonian for a while and that creepy right wing paper all about how we’ll all die soon. Smithsonian gave up on us and then it was RV World and Guns and Ammo. We quit putting magazines in the waiting room when Covid-19 hit. People had to bring their own and anyhow, we only had one person out there at a time.

I subscribe to my local weekly paper. I subscribe to one magazine. With all of the college and university stuff, I have a large pile to donate to the library monthly. Right now the AARP is sending two magazines to my house: one for me and one for my closed office.

And I still get weird junk mail from insurance companies saying “We have changed our rules again just like we did last month! Go on line and read the 47 new pages of rules for us and the other 499 health insurance money stealers!” Makes me gloomy about the wisdom of the US populace. When will we be smart enough to vote for medicare for all? How far will the medical system have to break down? People are dying and will die, including lots of medical personnel.

Vote for medicare for all, single payer, single set of rules. It’s not socialized medicine, the only socialized medicine in the US is the Veterans Benefits, and you aren’t going to vote to take them away, are you? Vote, vote, vote.

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For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: envelope.

We want to believe

My cousin said to me once: “We want to believe what we want to believe.”

This was right before Mr. Trump was elected President.

After my cousin said that, I was unsurprised that Mr. Trump was elected. He was elected out of fear and anger and shame and grief. He was elected by people who are afraid that people rising out of discrimination will take things from them. Lower their standard of living. They are afraid that they will have to give things up.

A friend was working on my boat. He said that if I paid in cash, it would be less. Because, unspoken, he would not report the income. I thought about it. I said, “My medical practice is mostly medicare and state insurance. That is paid for out of our taxes: yours and mine. Therefore I am giving you a check and I don’t care if it costs more.”

There is a big culture here of not paying taxes. Cheat the government. Pay cash to each other, nod, nod, wink. It is tempting, takes a percentage off what I pay. But…. the people who I know are doing this are mostly conservative. They say drain the swamp. They say the government is cheating us. But THEY are cheating all of us.

I asked my cousin why he and my maternal family believed a story masterminded by my sister. That my father and my neice’s father and I were villains. One of the villainies was the our grandmother’s money had paid for MY graduate school but not my sister’s graduate school.

But that is not true. My grandmother paid four years of medical school tuition. 21K. I paid my own loans.

After my grandmother died, and then my mother died, my father used “my grandmother’s money” to pay off my sister’s graduate school loans. 36K. My parents also cosigned on a house, that my sister walked away from. They wrote 30K off thier taxes that year selling it. My father bailed her out of 7K on a work credit card. My father called me crying when she bullied him out of another 30K for another house. And that is when I said to her ENOUGH. I refused to visit for a year: until she went into hospice for her cancer. I visited three times while she was in hospice. We made peace. But she did not tell anyone else the truth.

I said to my cousin that I could send the bank statements showing that my father paid for my sister’s graduate school. That is when he said, “No. We want to believe what we want to believe.”

I thought really? So you want to believe my sister because she is dead. We will not speak ill of the dead, so you are ok with me and my father and my niece’s father being villainized and you will not even look at the lies.

VOTE and VOTE against FEAR, SHAME, DISCRIMINATION, ANGER AND GRIEF. We have to stand up. I loved my sister even when she was dishonest and bounced 1000$ worth of checks in my small town with people I knew. My father got threatening phone calls and he paid. That was the last straw for me.

So guess which politician stirs up fear and hate and discrimination and anger and grief? Well, honestly, both sides are guilty of that, but I stand against discrimination. We all shall rise up.

Love and Blessings and Peace you.

The photograph is on one of the last three visits to my sister. She died in March 2012.

happy

Ok, this is a weird little poem to my sister Chris, who died a decade ago. My father died thirteen months later. My mother was already dead. Mother and sister of cancer and father of emphysema, damn the Camels. There was no family slaughter, unless it was by cancer. There was a family meltdown on my mother’s side. Sometimes you have to let people go.

Sister sister mister miss her
look, Chris, I’m happy

Cancer cancer crabby dancer
look, Chris, I’m singing

Daughter daughter family slaughter
look, Chris, I’m healing

Healer healer wheeler dealer
look, Chris, no drama

Wombing wombing quiet blooming
look, Chris, I’m growing

The photograph is of a family cabin in Ontario. It is called “The New Cabin”, “Helen’s Cabin” (after my mother) or “Chris’s Cabin” after my sister. As you can see, it is suffering through neglect worsened by Covid-19. I put those screens up a decade ago, but they are not surviving the winters and the porch roof has a hole. It was a lovely porch to sleep on. I was last there in 2018, and up on that roof trying to tar holes as a temporary fix. We did not dare go on the porch roof, too late for that. Things change and fall away and sometimes we have to let them go. Especially if they are beyond repair. The photograph is taken earlier this year by the people who care for the cabins when we are not there.

Songs to Raise Girls: three songs

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today is memorize, and oh, what I have memorized! I saw a t-shirt at the Nowhereelse Festival in Ohio that said, “My memory is 80% lyrics.” Yes, me too, a mix of songs, poetry and books that I have read. My sister Chris and I were busily memorizing songs as soon as we could. Here are three very educational songs for young girls. The last one we learned from our cousin, who was a girl scout and a girl scout leader. She was in the calendar one year, making cookies. I was very very impressed and a little jealous.

I bought a four hour recording session at a silent auction and the recordings are me and my sister and my father. We did them in two sessions. We made a list of songs and lost it immediately so we all took turns suggesting songs. My mother had already died of cancer. My sister died in 2012 and my father in 2013. I am so glad to have these recordings. We called it Mocoko for Malcolm Ottaway, Chris Ottaway and Katherine Ottaway. We sang most of them just once and so they are not polished, but I still am happy to have them.

Bridget O’Flynn

I sang Bridget O’Flynn to my daughter when she called me about dancing. “Mom! I love to twirl!” Um, well, yes, your parents met at a contra dance at Glenn Echo Park in Maryland. We love to twirl too.

Late in the evening

A cautionary song, an old barbershop quartet song, that we sang.

Fascinating Lady

I wonder if the girl scouts still sing this.

The photograph is my son scaring me. Ok, that boulder is sitting there balanced BUT! GET OUT OF THERE! Taken in Palm Springs in 2011 up on the mesa. Beautiful.

always on your mind

This is a compilation poem from more than one song and more than one person I’ve dated. A friend and I really dislike a song her husband sings that has the “I wish that you had told me” line. We make faces at each other and whisper, “We wish that you had listened.”

Sometimes I am treated as an admiring audience by a male. At least, that is the role he would like me to play. I get pretty bored pretty quickly. If he doesn’t give me reasonable floor time, if he doesn’t listen, well, goodbye. Find another female slave. One male tells me that my poetry doesn’t matter. I think, oh, I guess it doesn’t matter to YOU, but it certainly matters to ME. There is a certain wicked enjoyment in writing poetry that references his words, heh heh. Enjoy!

October 8, 2022

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always on your mind

the songs you sing
I was always on your mind
you wish that I had told you

isn’t that a lie?
you told me never to ask you
to do anything. Ever.

what was always on your mind
you told me many times
you could read mine

what was always on your mind
you said you could read mine
I wish you had. Even once.

what was always on your mind
was your fantasy me
who obeyed your every wish

what was always on your mind
was that I would wait at home
available to listen or for sex

what was always on your mind
your terror of the ball and chain
that I’d entrap you into marriage

what was always on your mind
had nothing to do with me
I tried hard to tell you

what was always on your mind
had nothing to do with me
I tried hard to tell you

what was always on your mind
was a fantasy. Not me.
How can you be surprised I’m gone?

you wish that I had told you
you say I was always on your mind
I wish that you had listened even once

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I took the photograph on Marrowstone Island a few days ago.

Boa Black in dishabille

This is my beloved cat who died in February 2020. She was named Boa Black or Feather Boa, depending on the situation. We got her as a tiny kitten at the pound. She had the softest fur and purred the instant I picked her up. She was 17 when she died.

For the Ragtag Daily prompt: dishabille.

stone

stone shaped heart
refuse to love me
refuse to let me in

I don’t try to change you
I am here to change me
not you

not to bury or change or rewrite my past
but to unearth past feelings
to examine them without prejudice or fear

to hold them with love and care
so that they don’t inform the present
so that my feelings are now and not mixed with past

I listen to what you say
I am here with you to learn
what are you saying to me?

you say you are always truthful
but you break laws
you smoke some stuff, legal now

you say you do not speed
sometimes you do not speed
sometimes you do

you say you never watch series
when I suggest a series
now you tell me you are watching a series

you say you never try to hurt me
mostly you never try to hurt me
except when you do

you say you never lie
you seem to believe what you say
I don’t

I try to pay attention to what I say
I try not to say never
I try not to lie to myself

I watch you and wonder
what lies do I tell over and over
to myself and others?

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Written 6/22/22