Dear friends and readers,
Kerry Kennedy would not have walked nearly 45 minutes in the truly freezing cold trying to find where is a bus-stop for a bus that runs in the middle of the day only on weekends. She would not have been driven to this because the apps on her iphone don’t work and so she can’t call the expensive but reliable Uber people to take her home.
I assume my reader has read the story of Kerry Kennedy — yesterday; here’s another installment. My ex-grief support person, Cheryl, a friend on line sent me the story, and on facebook I saw people referring to it.
I’ve had people refer to this immurement as a slap on the wrist (how metaphors erase realities); for what I’d like to know? Or say it doesn’t matter much. Well, here’s a woman with an army of chauffeurs, relatives and friends galore probably who would help her get where she wants to go, and she goes to trial, risking a jail sentence rather than take a plea bargain where she’d have her license suspended for 6 months. And as I read the story through a number of the central particulars differ importantly in the report of what happened, I see a similar indifferent cruelty: her lawyer did say it was depressing that such a case should be brought to trial as if she had committed a major crime. Says Cheryl it’s liberty of movement. It’s freedom. It’s empowerment — and in Northern Virginia often necessary. That is what has given rise to Uber cabs.
Here’s my take of what lies beneath these reports: she took a sleeping pill (or pills) very late in the morning and didn’t get to sleep enough on them, or she took one before leaving to calm herself, and then had to leave to make her appointment so she jumped into her car to drive; she did not realize how powerful the stuff was (it’s a brand new drug I can see, the sort rich people get access to — Kaiser offers drugs well out of copyright). So she goes into some kind of automatic drowse and plows into a truck. Then knowing what I didn’t, that this act will be regarded as enough to try to punish her as far as the system is able, she flees the scene in her car. The police pursue her. They catch her — they don’t shoot her down the way they do black people be it noted. Then when the police came over — I’ll be she was indignant and “uppity.” Don’t they realize who she is and what happened? how it was reasonable. I’ll bet she refused a drug test then. The grains showed up in a test hours later. So the police got mad and threw the book at her: “driving with impaired judgement.” That is a criminal charge and later she refuses to plea bargain. So a DA saw a chance to make a splash.
A few contrasts: I did not drive off (run away); I had not injested anything for hours, including food. I hadn’t slept that is true; I was driven by stress from driving my daughters with no break, and getting lost at least once during the day. I was exhausted from grief, not from when I was 8 but from the last 14 weeks. I got out of my car and sat on the ground and cried. The police officers were courtesy itself to me because I was courteous to them and the charge was the least they could come up with: “failure to pay full attention.” They thought it was a hit-and-run (by a mythical white car) until the video of the second part of the accident showed no other car. They still cannot account for the car being smashed on both ends though.
End of Kerry Kennedy’s story: She hires world-class lawyers who work to free political prisoners and is acquitted because when she was 8 she lost her famous photogenic father. It’s a story exhibiting the behavior and resources of privileged people: I don’t have an Abbie Hoffman to defend me nor a famous father for others to grieve over. Only my unknown powerless husband who couldn’t even get the HMO (or any other doctor we saw) to treat him with kindness or courtesy, much less try to help him once his cancer metatasized into his liver.
(I remember how the surgeon who did what I now realize is a criminal operation would complain to us about people who complained. He really disliked that you see. he fee was $8000 to the surgeon alone. It did nothing not an iota to affect that cancer. Yes he took out the growth, but it could have been removed with chemotherapy and the other doctors were surprised he did not immediately take that route. I know why now. The liver was a threat right then. But he wanted to do that operation; he told me he enjoyed them, and then he’d get is fee and the patient would not “leak” because his tissues were “fresh.” So he utterly destroyed Jim’s digestive system. Before the liver went bad, Jim was seeing he had maimed himself for life, how little he could eat for life, how few were the foods he could tolerate. How easily he became nauseous. So there’s an operation that was said to be successful but what it did was terrible and it had no effect on his condition whatsoever.Then it made the liver mets much worse. The stomach was tiny, right by his throat and he continually was washed by the poisons the cancer threw up into his face. The surgeon admitted the cancer would not be worse. Jim starved to death.
Sometimes I can scarcely believe it all happened. Like some nightmare. I can’t believe he’s dead only that he’s not here with me any more.)
Authorities in this country: all powerful, acting with impunity, and punitive. A story about an over-drugged stressed society with a mean streak of punish, punish, shame. When Princess Grace had a stroke while driving in 1982, her car went over a mountain — no one bothered to have strong fences at the edges of these in middle Europe. For years afterwards her daughter then in the car with her, luckily surviving, was therefore blamed. It must have been her driving. Alas, no proof so they couldn’t put her on trial, in jail or take away her license to drive. Since it was Princess Grace, the dream icon of 1950s middle Americans, the whole thing left alone.
Mine story is still on-going: Maybe I do have a poor or inadequate lawyer too; I was told on the phone yesterday he did not charge me for the consultation. Generous — but maybe he was not impressed with me or my story. A paralegal is handling my case and I was told she’s in court, so cannot return my call until at least next Thursday. What matters a few days?
I want to ask two questions: why did the DMV reject my papers when I gave them all they wanted, including a sheaf of reports showing I have no epilepsy and am normal? If they rejected them, why should they accept another round in May? what’s to stop them from keeping this kind of response up? They are earning their salaries this way.
I am afraid my car is rotting. I go out each day and run it for 15 minutes, I put it in gear and go backwards and forwards. I listen to David Case reading aloud Tolstoy’s War and Peace for half an hour. When the car has warmed up fully, I shut it off and go back inside. If they don’t let me drive again (policed, imprisoned) I fear I’ll lose much of my $17,000. How does one re-sell a car? I’ve no idea. I am paying insurance all this while too.
As to my feelings, the continual basic experience of being alive just gets worse. Yesterday I saw someone on Facebook commenting on an opera, a kind of happy remark about how the opera comically does not at all relate to its source. Once upon a time I could give a few seconds of a morning to such a thought, write it somewhere and move on. I can no longer have such unqualified cheer. Everything I experience comes interwoven with anxiety or a kind of bleak loneliness whether it be about bills or something I signed to get a credit card (which I now won’t activate and hope the whole thing will go away), or how brutally cold it is outside so that I don’t know where a bus stop is precludes trying to get somewhere by bus — or what’s in today’s snail mail (which I’ve learned to dislike the sight of).
I face what my life will be from here on in. Alone, without meaning over the day. Much anguish and anxiety with no one to help me counter this. Missing him, remembering, thinking about my past life, his. Daily getting these harassing unscrupulous notices telling me I must have this warranty or do that. The admiral would pitch them without telling me of them.
I am more sad, more desolate, as time goes on though I seem to fill my days with activities insofar I can — now being isolated from some any activities not close to a bus or as metro route allows. I am distracted less –I don’t invent trips to shop when I really don’t have to any more. Can’t get to the gym. So that I disliked the look of the place, the weird unsocial feel, the gross TVs, the dank place for a pool doesn’t matter. More reliant on Netflix. Now watching Breaking Bad, disk 2 (I must be mad).
But I can’t reach Cheryl anymore. Must give it up. We talked of phoning but that’s not what I need. Towards the end she became perfunctory and that made me sad. I fear I won’t be able to reach the Haven on Saturday afternoons — 6 have been set up for me and others to join a group of people recently widowed to talk about it together. I will try for it though.
Those who block all expansion of public transportation are the criminals. They cause the excess deaths. Isolate people and keep them powerless (down south the strategy against poor African-American and white people too). My story is also about the lack of public transportation. Boy is it.
Maybe I spend less daily (just a little, nothing to make up for loss of car and insurance): I don’t order a stationary bike as then I’d be faced with the problem of putting it together (assembling it). One of the things from snail mail is from JASNA -DC –all along the problem has been the woman running it are businesswomen types (really) from Maryland so I am not surprised that I will not be able to get to next JASNA meeting. So I won’t look at it until tomorrow.
So what have I been doing? I try for pleasant things or not unpleasant and sometimes satisfying because I’m in the world of a beloved or good book or interesting movie. Or it would be more if I were not doing this because Jim died. Or reading a friend’s letter or writing to a friend.
I’ve been three times to Northwest Washington now, the Temple Baptist Church right off the main campus of AU, and the last time despite the 3 degrees temperature I walked across the main campus to the library. Maybe that was the best moment in some ways: I had not been there since 1992 and renewed my library card, can access the catalogue from home from my computer, can take books out, put them on reserve for my students, and when there use all databases. I was shown how to use their digital system, something the students and staff at GMU will not do. They are instructed not to help! or so some have said to me.
I can manage AU as once I get to the Metro public transportation is fine. It’s hard to time: I got there half-an-hour early and had to sit outside on a park bench waiting for the first official person to arrive to open the building. It went well yesterday at AU all three times: I did my teaching stint well; the day of the open house was pleasant. Mr Oscher is a very rich man who has no heirs and conceived of these programs to give older people an enriched last 30 years. They are low key, only the key people are paid, no credit for the courses. So almost everyone doing it for the love of it. No pressure.
I’m getting different messages from the different sessions about how to conduct these classes — am I first among equals and must not expect too much in the way of reading? or is it a regular class except everyone there voluntarily, and partly out of a desire for companionship, to explore something meanginful with others — something not mentioned in these sessions.
I’ll see. In the meantime I’m really spending my days reading Austen and about her — Sense and Sensibility stood up to an upteenth reading. A strong book. I noticed how tight it is, how rarely Austen does comment and not at length. It calls to mind Richardson, so if her views are obsolete or different from what you infer from her ironies, we don’t know it. I took out Paula Byrne’s The Real Jane Austen and Janine Barchas’s Matter of Fact. Byrne is the best she’s written thus far: I liked how fixing on objects allows her to get to particulars; I have already seen sleights of hand (which show you must not believe her assertions altogether – but check) but it’s an addition to Austen studies — something in the new mode of moving away from chronology and telling of biography in new ways She does not lend herself imaginatively in the way of Rebecca Mead’s My Life in Middlemarch (or Gorra on James’s Portrait of a Lady and life) but she has power with her publisher and is given room to give full particulars of each incident surrounding the object and then attaches these to Austen’s fictions. It’s insightful. The Barchas is good in the way of Jocelyn Harris — strong on facts – even if all these historical objects and structures and contemporary texts are not alluded to specifically in Austen’s texts, you learn a lot about the full context of the text.
My Net friends — letters and postings off-list and off-blog and on list too — are what keep me going. On Trollope19thCStudies a member told us about and sent URL for wonderful podcast of a lecture by one Professor Gifford on Scott (the man is also the librarian at Abbotsford), complete with film of the places Scott lived and those redolent of his books. My life on the Net is what helps sustain me.
And daughters. Caroline helped with tax, drove me to Trader’s Joe, to buy a new handbag to replace my broken one. Yvette and I today we have a good HD- opera, Prince Igor. We are debating whether to wear boots because we have to walk under and through tunnel not meant for people to walk in and sometimes it is flooded for a couple of inches high … Back again at 5 or 6, and home for spaghetti dinner, me with wine, Yvette orange juice as we used to do when the Admiral was live.
I was originally prompted to write this blog by the message I saw on face-book about the opera. I also this week on a list-serv for Aspergers Adults in DC participated in a thread about driving and navigation meltdown. Nowhere else have I before this met anyone — really — anyone at all who had these problems of getting lost, of having to be sure and study the google map, of practicing to go to a place before it’s time really to go, of being puzzled by the GPS and not being able to operate it (!), and now there they all are. I feel not so alone. Today it brought home to me how little those who haven’t a real disability understand of what life is for those who have one.