Thoughts of a Young Girl

I am watching television at the moment, CNNs The Sixties to be precise. I have seen it 2-3 times in the last few days. It is riveting, just riveting. I will never forget it, where I was and what I was doing during those times. When I was a young girl the N word flowed from my mother’s mouth with much to great an ease. Even as a very young child it revolted me. Her racism was palpable, lethal and disgusting. Of course she did not like anyone. Not anyone at all, she always found something “not” to like in anyone. My siblings and I loathed her behavior. We knew something was very wrong.

I have been communicating with my sister in law, we are the same age, of the same era. I must ask her where she was, what she was doing, what she was feeling during those years during the summer of The March On Washington. I was in a Greyhound Bus on my way from Manchester, VT to Monkton, MD. I was sent there to learn more about fox hunting and horsemanship by increasing my exposure to both. It was undeniably a way to keep me out of trouble. Fox hunting was a once disgusting sport where people took great pleasure in watching a pack of hounds tear a fox to shreds. I much preferred drag hunting. Before a drag hunt, the sent of fox was dragged all over the countryside via a bag. I loved the “steeple chase” aspect of the hunt – but that was all. That part was exceptionally exciting, an adrenalin rush. The whole thing seemed to represent something my mother wanted to be, not something her children cared to become. In that bus, on that trip, I held my little transistor radio to my ear and listened to the “March.” God how I longed to be there, to be a part of this movement, to be contributing and doing something useful. They were painfully bloody and violent times. I do not understand segregation, racial hatred and separation. It disgusts me. And I wanted to get off that bus, stop in Washington and join that march. But as a timid young girl I could not do so.

I did not learn to drive until I was twenty-four years old. I was raised to believe that I would fail at anything that I attempted. I was raised without a shred of self-confidence. I became a late bloomer. I would try nothing. It kept me from acting upon my beliefs this made me sad. But my time was yet to come. I had much learning and living to do before I really became who I was meant to be.

My time would come in the mid eighties and early nineties during the AIDS crisis. I was a health care worker in home care. Early on I was exposed to the denial of care to young men dying of this disease called GRID. I became incensed, enraged. I could not accept this, especially this treatment to a part of the population to which I had been so close since I was a very young adult. As a result, I became involved in this towns emerging AIDS organization. I was involved in the grass roots movement in every way possible. Later I would go on to create the best AIDS program of its kind in the world. I am very proud to be able to say that, I am not bragging, it is simply true. I know this because I created and ran a medication program for persons who were HIV+ or who had AIDS. I was able to compare my program to the programs in NYC and in San Francisco. I added to my program a lending library. I did crisis counseling with my patients, their friends, their families and their lovers. I made sure that all of my patients had all of the social services to which they were entitled and that they needed. The doctors who referred their patients to me were very grateful for what I was doing. I was not a counselor, nor a social worker, but I knew what I was doing I knew what was needed. No one else was doing this here in town. I contacted the directors of the NYC and the San Francisco programs. Neither of these programs did anything but deliver medication. In terms of my career this was the most rewarding time of my life. I am grateful to have had this opportunity. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to affect so many lives.

Today it seems so very long ago. I often feel as though I should be doing more, rather as though retirement is not something one ought to engage in. But that just isn’t true is it?

I do not like Blogger. Sorry for the confusion – I deleted my Blogger blog. Bare with me please, I am remaining here at Word Press.

Jazzin’

This prompt holds such meaning for me. It takes me back to the pinnacle of my youth. While everyone else was strung out on rock and roll I was slowly building a jazz library and visiting jazz spots in The Village. Jazz is my music! The first poem is not new. I wrote it in about 2008 while working on my Master’s in gerontology while taking a poetry class. I have the following two book cover photos in my library.

Unknown

Frank and Me

I was just reading
O’Hara.
He spoke of
The 5 Spot.
This is why I like him.

We were there
At the same time.
Could have been
The same day.
But he was somebody.

I did not yet know
My own body.
I used to think
That Thelonius Monk
Was the greatest
Living pianist
before he died.

Do you think that Frank
and I were
there together?
Sat next to each
other?
There was such a smokey
Haze back then
who could see?

Our elbows may have
rubbed.
Maybe it is why
I write today.
A little inter-death
Personism jazzin’
Between
Frank and me.

images

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The_In_Crowd_(Ramsey_Lewis_album)

Cover Art Wikipedia

Lookin’ For Jazz

I am sixteen
Maybe seventeen.
In tight white
pants.
Sharkskin.

Jazzin to the beat,
Headin’
down the street.
Hummin’
a jazzy
tune.

Growin up.

The Ninth Circle
East village or West?
Definitely West.
No matter
we swing!

We cool!
We swing to
the Beat!
We’re out!
Listen’n to the
sounds.
Jazzin”
in
the streets.

Who we
seein’
tonight?

The doors open
we find a
spot to
sit.
A cheese burger
ketchup
a beer.

The set starts
A primal beat
engenders heat.

Ramsey Lewis.
The man with the hands.
Eldee Young on bass
Red Holt on Drums.

The In Crowd.

The night is
cool
smoky
hazy
grooving.

It’s late
I leave with
Ketchup
All over me
and
sweet
sounds
in my head.

The Ninth Circle

Photo Credit

Wow! I did not expect to find this photo. Ha! I did not know that it lasted until 2002. 2002? That is a mind blower.

Can be found at dVerse

The All-Star Game

Baseball Memories

Everyone is there, except my husband. My first husband is in Okinawa and I am happy at 20 that he is not in Vietnam. I am living with my in-laws, kind people with a comfortable home and room for both myself and the baby. It is 1967 and I too would soon be in Okinawa. But for now I had found the Saint Louis Cardinals and pretty much had fallen in love. I never missed a game. I could rattle off every stat. Even today, I prefer a baseball game on the radio to TV.

I listened to the All-Star game last night. The lead up was grand and all the emotional stops were pulled out for me, there were many tears. The razzamatazz was wonderful and took me back in time. I went back to my very young adulthood and the love of the game. Then I went back to my childhood. We had left Scarsdale, NY and moved to Vermont. We had to be quiet as it was The World Series and Mummy and Pup seemed to live for The World Series. God, how I love that sound. Of course the Dodgers and the Yankees were playing. The Dodgers had not yet moved to LA. I don’t think it was 54, the Yankees lost the series that year, no, it must have been 55 or 6. It is so hard to remember. We were in the back of the house. Pup was removing the paint from the house. Everyone was working and the radio was jerry-rigged to the electricity coming into the house up in the righthand corner of the terrace under the eves. Mummy and Pup were rivals when it came to the Yankees and the Dodgers. It kind of ended for my father when the Dodgers moved to LA. He was broken hearted. I can still sense his great loss. It was very few years after WWII. I know that his grieving over the loss of the Dodgers was his way of expressing grieving for loss experienced duing the war. I am just sensing this real loss as I write.

summer evening crack of the bat – roar of the crowd

Shared with gratitude at dVerse Open Link Night

The Inn

Haibun
I loved the Inn At Weston where I grew up. This small country inn was the center of our small Vermont town. There was a pool, no land, just a colonial white clapboard building. As Weston’s history began in the late 1700s I believe that this building was quite old. Today it is gone. Another place has been named The Inn At Weston. I learned that it had burned to the ground sometime in the 70s or 80s. For me it was devastating. It felt as if a part of my life had been destroyed, eliminated. I had worked there from the time that I was 13 until I was nearly 19 during the summer months. One summer when I was 16 and it was about 10 AM, I ran up to Jack’s bedroom that doubled as the office very excited about my flight with Bruce. I burst into the bedroom so excited, for I had just flown a plane in between the Green Mountains and over the Inn. Jack and Hugh were in bed together. I knew Jack was gay, although I am not sure that this was a term of parlance in 1962. I was not embarrassed – I just shared my story and excitement then I left. We were family. Jack was like a dad to me. I truly loved him. Because of that love my reaction was simply one of happiness for him.

fireworks danger and excitement – festival time

Shared with gratitude with the wonderful poets at dVerse OpenLinkNight

Keep It Real

the smoky haze
so beautiful
to the eye
because
it hides reality

as i walked
into the five spot
everyone jivin’
swayin’
to the music
i was lost
to the rhythm
the throat of the sax
the piano banging
out the notes
of my youth
I was
reaching
for something so
elusive
i wanted
the fantasy
of being a grown up
connected to a group
in control of emotions
that had not yet
formed

i was seventeen
i was living a lie
being a grown up
drinking and smoking
loving jazz
in the village
the five spot was
thelonius monk’s place

i did an abstract of the 5-spot
all reds and purples
my college roommate
asked for it
i told her “only if i
get kicked out”
she has the painting

heard his kid play
forty years later
there was
no comparison
no fantasy chase
for me now
no fullness in the
notes

you cannot go
back
you cannot go
forward
for all you have is
now
today
so bang it out

there is
no more haze
no more smoke
just that odd
glass of scotch
or bubbly
dates with the hubby
movie night
cosy
snuggled up with a
reel
it’s good
get’s no better

©
Liz Rice-Sosne November 2012