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Our Collective Breath

by Susan Henderson on June 22, 2020

How are you doing? I feel like I need to check in with you. What are you actively doing to keep safe and emotionally well? What are you actively doing to keep others safe and emotionally well?

I thought I’d spend much of 2020 on my novel-in-progress. I have 33 wobbly chapters pinned to my bulletin board, waiting for my attention, but life had other plans. In March, my father got terribly ill. I went back to my childhood home in Virginia to spend time with my folks. Then a pandemic swept across the world, and I decided I’d better get to New York before it locks down. After only a few days back home, I broke my hand—naturally, the one I use for writing. Then, one night while my husband attended a Zoom meeting in one room of our house, I took a call in another room and learned my father had died. 

If I sound emotionally distant writing all of this, it’s the only way I can tell the story right now.

I went back to Virginia (this time in a mask) to stay with my mom for a month. When I returned to New York, exhausted and unmoored, I flipped on the news and watched another black man murdered as he called out, “I can’t breathe.” I can’t get the image out of my mind of that cop looking so nonchalant, one hand in his pocket, as he killed a human being. 

My heart feels called in too many directions.  

Let me first speak about my father, whose death still doesn’t feel real to me. Here is a clipping from The Washington Post—I wrote this one. Supposedly, there will be a formal obituary written by one of their reporters, but it’s in a backlog since there are so many deaths these days.

This newspaper clipping doesn’t speak to my grief. I put that into an essay I was asked to contribute for the anthology, ALONE TOGETHER: Love, Grief, and Comfort During the Time of COVID-19. The book comes out September first, and I hope you’ll read it. 

If there’s anything I can clearly take away from the past many weeks of heartache, pandemic and protest marches, it’s how we’re all connected. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, our actions, our very breath, can either harm or strengthen the lives around us. That is both terrifying and empowering. 

The sign above helps me re-examine the way I thought I was battling racism in the past. Like COVID-19, we must assume we have the racism virus, and we must take active steps to flatten the curve and, if we work and work at it, to bend that curve. Simply being kind people won’t do. Posting statements of love and equality won’t do. One time gestures won’t do. Policy changes that nibble around the edges or focus solely on law enforcement won’t do. 

Cries of “I can’t breathe” call out in compelling shorthand America’s enduring racial chasm in every measure of well-being: health care and infant mortality, wages and wealth, unemployment, education, housing, policing and criminal justice, water quality and environmental safety.

These are words from the recent NYTimes op-ed entitled What the Courage to Change History Looks Like, and the entire piece is well worth reading.

Let’s talk in the comments section about how to engage in, rather than shrink from, this moment. Let’s talk about the uncomfortable work of holding ourselves, our friends and colleagues accountable. How can we use whatever power and platforms we have to change the systems we’re a part of? What are some ways to get (and stay) active in local elections, school boards, city council? Share your thoughts. And let’s give each other the space to be clumsy and make mistakes because that’s the only way to break old habits and build better ones. 

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Some thank you’s are in order… I was honored to be a part of the judging committee for the 2019 John Leonard Prize. Congratulations to all the brilliant finalists and to the winner, Sarah M. Broom, for her memoir, The Yellow House. I’m grateful, as well, to Jack Smith, who elicited my thoughts about character change for his article “Change of Heart” in the June issue of The Writer magazine. More thank you’s: Greg Olear’s Sunday Pages, National Book Critic’s Circle’s Critical Notes, Robert Gray’s Shelf Awareness (where he featured books that discuss mortality), FSG’s Work In Progress, the Big Sky Journal, TTC Books, Harper Academic, Changing Hands Bookstore, Bookhounds, Wishful Endings, and Jean Book Nerd

As always, I’ll end by sharing the books I’ve read since my last post: 

Wayétu Moore, The Dragons, the Giant, the Women
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Autumn of the Patriarch
Virgil (translated by Seamus Heaney), Aeneid Book VI
T Kira Madden, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls: A Memoir
Ann Napolitano, Dear Edward
Anna Burns, Milkman
Sarah M. Broom, The Yellow House: A Memoir
Julia Phillips, Disappearing Earth
Victor Hugo (translated by Julie Rose), Les Misérables
Jia Tolentino, Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion
Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper
Alice Hoffman, Faithful
Chia-Chia Lin, The Unpassing
Cameron McGill, Meridians
Ethan Watters, Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche
Sarah McBride, Tomorrow Will Be Different
Bryan Washington, Lot: Stories
Harriet Shenkman, The Present Abandoned
Charles Dickens, Hard Times
Hannah Tinti, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Fleishman Is in Trouble
Ellen Meister, Love Sold Separately
Esi Edugyan, Washington Black
Elizabeth Alexander, The Light of the World
Marie Mutsuki Mockett, American Harvest
Kazuo Ishiguro, Remains of the Day
Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility
David Koehn, Twine
Caitlin Moran, How to Build a Girl

And a few re-reads: 
Claudia Rankine, Citizen
Max Porter, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers
Heather O’Neill, Lullabies for Little Criminals

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Last thoughts: As we learn to engage more in the urgent issues of our time, how do we also take care of ourselves and make time for our own dreams? And where is that line between self-care and simply exercising the privilege to disengage? Would love to hear from you in the comments section. I’ve missed you.



{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Henderson June 23, 2020 at 11:51 am

It looks like the second article on my dad is in either today’s or yesterday’s Washington Post. Here’s a link… https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/community-deaths/2020/06/22/ec3a0254-b3b5-11ea-aca5-ebb63d27e1ff_story.html

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Maury Feinsilber June 23, 2020 at 5:51 pm

It feel somewhat stabilizing just to see you here, in the virtual domain that you’ve created, cultivated, maintained, and shared the bounty of for so long now; here, in spite of all you’ve been through; here, despite all we’re all going through, *some, many, much more than others.*

Vigilance in staying well and keeping loved ones well is still exhausting, but now, or for now, at least, there seems to be methodical ways to contend with surviving. Let’s face it, we, as writers, are by necessity solitary individuals, or as Ernest Hemingway had said when accepting his Nobel, “Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.” Back in March, when social isolation began for most, being forced to stay indoors for an unlimited amount of time gave me a feeling of expansiveness, as if I suddenly wasn’t under the gun to get “IT” (whatever ‘it’ is) done, and for a long while this was wonderful: working without that pressure stressing my concentration, I was able to work in a more interiorly relaxed way and the work itself, being all I had to, or was allowed to, focus on, benefitted from this greatly. I completed a vitally important project (which we’d discussed) and that, of course, felt sublime. And then I gave myself a little break and allowed myself to really read the newspaper and peruse social media, and then that little break went on, fine, it was a time of crisis, who didn’t need a break?, and on, and on, and then, seemingly out of nowhere, another disease became a pandemic, one that’s been roiling, virtually unstopped, since 1619. Meanwhile the train of concentration had left the station when I was so terribly, even willfully, distracted, and the only way I’ve finally gotten back onboard has been through running and stumbling and falling and getting up and limping, and going and going, and tumbling, and going, finally onboard again and trying to figure out the controls, once again. I do thank god, though, that I’m back aboard. And meanwhile (again), our world is still very ill and, let’s face it, since long, long before the murder of George Floyd, very, very sick.

What I, as an individual, can do to help eradicate racism is, if not all, then at least some of the above that you’d mentioned. The Trump administration is a pernicious proponent of racism and fanning its flames, so cutting off the head of the heinous juggernaut, come November, is as vital to ending this sea of misery and butchery as anything else. There’s so much more to do, more than I can even imagine, but figuring out just what that will be is a morally imperative task that to not engage in is, I sincerely believe, by extension, immoral.

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Susan Henderson June 23, 2020 at 8:14 pm

I needed to hear your voice. Thank you for this.

I’m glad you started by saying what so many of us haven’t admitted, that so many of us are introverts and solitary creatures, and the idea of the world on pause and staying in our writing nooks, uninterrupted, is (for a while anyway) the world as we like it best. I’m excited about the work you created and edited in that quiet, deadline-free, space!

My youngest came home last night–first I’d seen him in way too long, though we did masks and then shared dinner outside, sitting at opposite ends of a long table. Felt unbelievably nourishing to hear his voice and see his cute face. He stayed over night and, before he went back to his life in Brooklyn, went to the polling place to vote. (David and I voted by mail.) I agree that cutting off the head of the serpent is as vital as all the micro changes we need to make as individuals. My dad wanted so badly to live to this next election and vote for someone honest and principled.

I love this space and all the hearts and voices that spend time here. Look forward to seeing you in real life again at some point!

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Maury Feinsilber June 24, 2020 at 3:06 am

So glad you got to spend time with your youngest — your boys seem absolutely amazing human beings. So (selfishly) glad to hear your voice and thoughts on this forum❤️

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Russell Rowland June 23, 2020 at 10:36 pm

Susan, I’m so sorry about your father. Believe it or not, I was in Winnett last week, and I thought of you. I even took a photo of the grain elevator to send along, which I will. As you and Maury both said, I started this pandemic isolation off with a feeling that my life wasn’t all that much different, and I got a lot done, finishing the first draft of a new novel. But I have decided it’s going to take a long time to ever be able to put into words how much this has impacted me. I feel it, but I have no idea how to explain it. Especially with the added element of the racial issues.

I feel hopeful about the fact that we seem to have reached a turning point as far as the nation’s attitudes toward police brutality and racial inequality, but I’ve heard many people point out the fact that we can’t just make noise for a few weeks or months and then fall into a sense of self-congratulatory back slapping for being so woke. This is going to take perseverance and a continued push to actually accomplish anything. I also feel hopeful about the election. I think Trump has finally come up against two very massive issues that he cannot manipulate, and the sense of panic in his behavior and that of the people around him gives me great, guilty pleasure. Considering the way the 2018 election went, even before things went to hell, I would not be surprised to see McConnell and others go down with him, which would be a lovely start to 2021.

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Susan Henderson June 23, 2020 at 11:51 pm

Yes, yes, I feel like we’re at a turning point (and that’s good) and the one way to lose all momentum on it is to get self-congratulatory and feel like the problem and the solution belongs to others and not ourselves.

I’m glad you feel hopeful about the election but, given the voter suppression we’ve seen already in Georgia and Kentucky, I’m deeply worried. Best defense is MASSIVE turnout. I hope your predictions are right! And I’m thrilled you have a draft of a new novel!!

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Colleen June 24, 2020 at 2:36 am

I always love reading your entries here. You always provoke thought. I am not an author. Most days I can barely remember to write my name. But you and your friends who respond cause me to think and reflect and I like that. Incredibly for me the hardest part of the past 4 months hasn’t been learning to walk again after knee surgery. Nor working from home, since I am social and vowed I would never. Homeschooling my kids hasn’t killed me and we’ve actually had fun and created bonds in new ways. Instead what has been heart wrenching is seeing the level of racism that was just under the mask with people I called friends. People I believed thought the same as me. I have refused to budge on this matter. I can tolerate differences on politics, religion everything else, except human rights and decency. So I have been forced to purge and some have hurt. I have genuinely had to grieve the loss of what I believed. I tried dialogue. But truly today 2020, if they haven’t gotten it by now….it takes so much restraint some days to not say “are you f&(&/@:? kidding me”. So in many respects learning to walk again also involved learning To walk away. Setting my and recognizing some of my boundaries are impermeable.

Hugs to you in the loss of your father, a truly remarkable man. Here’s to healing in all the ways we need.

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Susan Henderson June 24, 2020 at 2:00 pm

That’s the greatest compliment–that my posts provoke thought. Thank you for that. My hope is always to start a dialogue, which is why I’m always more interested in what happens in the comments than any of my original posts. They’re just meant to launch a discussion. And, together, if we think of ourselves as lifelong students, we hopefully get better, smarter, kinder, more passionate about life.

I’m so impressed with how hard you’ve worked to rehab your knee. Do you have most of your range of movement back? How have your kids adapted to homeschooling and online socializing? So much of school is not the classroom work but those conversations between classes, the visits to the locker. I can’t imagine how different school would be without all of that important downtime.

I’m with you on all of these issues. Growing up outside of DC, we’ve all developed a lot of ability to listen to differing political ideas. We all have friends and neighbors and family members who’ve worked in the various branches of government. But issues centered on hate, exclusion, basic human rights and decency and justice… to me that’s not politics, and those aren’t areas where I’ll negotiate.

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Colleen June 25, 2020 at 4:30 pm

I have full range of motion the biggest issue so far is strength and endurance. Crazy how quickly you lose strength. So to help with that I have purchased an e-bike (hopefully to be delivered soon). This will allow me to bike the hills around our house with the kids. They are pretty excited.
Interesting about home schooling. My child that was struggling academically actually focused on school and it took her away from some toxic social issues that were interfering. My son who is very academically inclined struggled. He was submitting his work weekly however the school failed to teach any of us the process so all of his submissions were blank. Half way through with no reports I inquired as to how each of my kids were doing and only then did I learn he wasn’t doing well. So we zoomed in got some additional walk throughs and he made it. Neither want to be homeschooled next year because of the loss of social experiences. I don’t think they will be going back so I need to figure out the other.

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Susan Henderson June 25, 2020 at 5:24 pm

I have to look up “e-bike” because my brain has invented a flying ET-like bike experience (and I hope I’m right)!

Interesting what this experiment of homeschooling has taught all of you about the different learning styles and emotional/academic needs of your kids. That can only be a good thing.

Great to talk with you last night… see you again in a couple of weeks!

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Susan Henderson June 24, 2020 at 6:21 pm

This is a great article by Nikole Hannah-Jones:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/06/24/magazine/reparations-slavery.html

It’s long, but there’s a play button just below the second paragraph of the article, and you can have it read to you.

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Ric Marion June 27, 2020 at 6:31 pm

Susan,
First of all, my condolences on the loss of your Father. There is a bond between little girls and their daddies that we mere mortals cannot fathom. My heart goes out to you as you navigate your path through your grief.

The wife and I survived the virus – so far. Our children stepped up and wouldn’t let us leave the house, bringing groceries, masks, gloves, reminding us to stay safe. It helped that our youngest’s significant other works at Grace Sinai in Detroit. She let us know the best way to work through this. At one point, during the worst here in Michigan, she inadvertently entered a room to find it stacked with bodies. Puts stopping at the corner store for a soda into perspective.

Like most folks, we miss our old life. Cards with friends is NOT the same over Zoom. Not hugging our kids, not going to the grocery (couldn’t imagine I would ever miss that…), coffee with my pals. Yet, this is what we have while we anxiously await some leadership, some resolution to our shared distress. That Woman in Michigan has done a great job shepherding us so far. We have been lucky to have her, though I do miss my semi-weekly massages. I have survived Nixon, Reagan, Bush (twice), and we will survive this.

Out here in rural America, with Trump flags and disdain for much happening in the cities, it is a bit harder to be vocal – and keep my day job. Yet, hope came from my youngest, now living in the big city. He and his friends are discussing the topics here and he called to say thank you for raising him the way I did. He remembers the first time he used, “That’s so gay.” and I forbid it ever being said in the household. And one couple in our card group, whom he has known since little league – he said he was seventeen before he knew they were Black. Seems it never came up, and if it had, it would just be normal. Will it take a few more generations being raised not racist for things to change? I hope not, and, hopefully, I did a small part.

I had great hopes to use the three months off work to finish the great American novel. Didn’t happen, so many things grabbing my attention, following the despair of intelligent leaders watching everything fall apart. Still, the sun rises each morning, the deer have eaten most of my flowers, the Baltimore Orioles come to eat at my feeder and at night, the stars still shine, glistening among the fireflies. The river still flows past my house, the moon rises in the East, Life is good.

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Susan Henderson June 28, 2020 at 4:37 pm

So glad to hear from you, Ric. I love to know your view of the world and always feel like you help me re-set my lens by reminding me of our place within nature. I’m glad you and your kids are in regular conversation about what’s happening in the world and about the BLM movement, in particular. That’s it’s become a multi-generational movement is hopeful, if people have the stamina and attention span to sustain it until laws actually change. I hope you’re right, but I don’t feel like this administration is the normal back and forth between Republican and Democratic presidents. There’s a level of corruption and dismantling of the pillars that hold up democracy that worries me. 

I’ve talked to so many writers who thought the downtime would be good for their books but then couldn’t concentrate. It’s a fascinating phenomenon. I’m trying to get out and walk on a regular basis. And it helps to wave hello to people, even if we’re far away. We were a part of a car ride parade last weekend. Not the same as walking, but just being among humans again–even at a distance–felt unbelievably good. I’ll look for fireflies tonight… see if I can catch your mood!

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Susan Henderson June 30, 2020 at 2:26 pm
Susan Henderson July 3, 2020 at 10:20 am

Check out the Hidden Brain podcast: https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510308/hidden-brain

This episode (on implicit bias and police shootings) is especially relevant: https://www.npr.org/2020/06/12/876073130/the-air-we-breathe-implicit-bias-and-police-shootings

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Susan Henderson July 3, 2020 at 11:25 am

Check out the Active Allyship podcast: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1196381

This is two women helping to open the uncomfortable conversation about unconscious and systemic racism. And they have a FB group where you can discuss what you hear and take the conversation further.

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Eudora Watson July 18, 2020 at 1:46 pm

Susan,

Your dad sounds like an amazing man; I’m sure your obituary does him justice in a way that a more formal obit never would, and, having written the local obit for an accomplished, much loved relative, I expect that writing it was both a privilege and uniquely painful.

For the rest, it’s said that it’s a curse to live in interesting times. Given the steady stream of bad judgement that characterizes our federal government – on top of and in aid of the twin pandemics of COVID and racism – these amount to shocking times. But taking a break from focusing on injustice is not, in my opinion, a stance of privilege, systemic racism, or anything like that. (And I can’t help but comment that the current discourse doesn’t generally include expressions of guilt about ‘taking a break’ from the reality of other daily, global, national and local injustices – against women or against the environment, for instance.) Rather, it is a privilege to allow ourselves to be stunned into immobility by the gross flaws in the ways humans go about being human.

In working against being stunned, it is helpful for me to remember that I am in for the long haul in this fight for a better world. And to remind myself that I must do the things that will keep me fit for advancing the causes I believe in. These are the same things I remind my students about: stay hydrated, rested, nourished; get exercise, work at your craft, keep your eyes open, and learn at every opportunity.

I work at an “access” college – the type of state university that students who can’t get into “better” schools come to. And whether I am working with a young woman from the Bronx to help her build her reading, writing, and thinking skills; or a young man from a small rural area to pass his Teacher Certification exams, I am working for a better world. One grain of sand at a time.

On the craft side of things, I’ve been working to keep the ‘submitted’ part of my Submittable account active, I’ve been working on deepening my story-telling skills, and I’ve just had a short story accepted by Main Street Rag. That makes two acceptances this year – practically a record for me.

Finally, thanks for providing this space for thoughtful exchange.

Eudora

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Susan Henderson July 19, 2020 at 12:25 pm

This is all good to think about. I think both ideas are true. Taking breaks recharges the body and the spirit. And we can’t lose sight of our own work and passions. That said, I am acutely aware that the work of standing up to injustice is tiring and can turn forces against you; and that I have the luxury of saying this work is too hard and letting it be someone else’s problem. I’m in this for the long haul too, and I like your message of keeping your eyes open for opportunities to advance the cause while continuing to nurture myself and my own projects. Like everything, it’s a balance. 

Congratulations on TWO acceptances! Link them here so folks can read your work.

Glad you stopped by and gave me lots to think about. 

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Eudora Watson July 20, 2020 at 12:16 pm

Susan,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I agree completely that “the work of standing up to injustice is tiring and can turn forces against you.“ Somehow these days are reminiscent of the potential and excitement of the 60s/early 70s Civil Rights movement and the chilling constraints of the McCarthy era.

Thank you also, for the invite to post a link to my recent publications. The first of my flash fiction to be published is also the first to be published by Obelus: https://obelusjournal.com/content/on-going-into-the-world-instructions-for-a-bookworm/

Main Street Rag recently accepted my short story, “Nostalgia,” for their print publication. As it happens, this is my first accepted short story. It won’t appear till next year. I have always admired the Rag’s feisty approach: https://www.mainstreetrag.com/magazineliterary-magazine/

Yesterday I submitted a personal essay on redlining to a special edition call for A Public Space. https://apublicspace.org/about They are open again for general submissions in October.

You might be amused to know I still have, and recently unearthed to use as a guide, a compilation of short story markets you put together – maybe it’s something you posted when you were a guest speaker at a BackSpace conference. The first category is “Too competitive for words.” So far, I’ve had to cross off the now defunct DoubleTake and Glimmer Train from the “Ultra Competitive” category, but it’s still a very useful list.

And, thanks for all you do to create and nourish community.

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Susan Henderson July 22, 2020 at 12:50 am

Oh wow, that’s powerful, your piece in Obelus. I love that you’re sending your stories out, outlasting the magazines themselves. Smiling.

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Billie Hinton September 14, 2020 at 6:07 pm

I’m so behind in commenting here – but want to say I’m so very sorry about the loss of your dad. I hope your mom is doing okay these months later, and that your entire family is safe and staying healthy.
We’re quarantining very seriously still and hanging in there. We finally had a carefully planned visit with my son and his wife over Labor Day after not seeing them since January. I’m thankful my daughter’s university went remote after a couple of weeks of in-person classes. She’s here and safe.
We’ve all been reading and writing and learning and trying to support groups that are addressing racism in real ways. While this year has had so many heartbreaking incidents, I hope that maybe things are coming to a point of change, beginning with a much more global awareness of the issues that have been in place for so long.
In a very difficult year, we do have some exciting news. My son and daughter-in-law are expecting! I’m also happy to say my son has gotten the okay to complete his PhD research remotely and they’ll be moving to be near us in the late spring. This news is a bright spot in an otherwise very dark year.
I hope you’re having many bright spots, Susan!
Billie

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Susan Henderson September 15, 2020 at 12:27 pm

Billie, Yay, so glad you’re here. Thank you for your thoughts about my dad. Sunday was his birthday so I’m really feeling his loss lately.

Glad you have your daughter with you right now. That’s a long time of not seeing your son. It’s so weird and hard to not have regular visits with the kids. I know part of it is the natural order of things, but the pandemic has made that transition so harsh. I finally had time with both my kids, mask-free, in August when we all went down to visit my mom. It was the first time we were all able to get together safely since my dad died.

My youngest was here the other day, actually needed to pick up furniture, and I was so glad to see his face… even with a mask on. His girlfriend actually lived with us for much of the summer while she was between apartments and it was great to see and hear another human, when so much of our interactions with the world are at a remove right now.

About systemic racism… I’m glad you’re reading and learning and trying to be supportive. We’re doing the same. David’s university is really taking a hard look at blind spots as we all are at the National Book Critics Circle. It can be painful, humbling work at times, but better to share the pain and burden, I think.

There are definitely bright spots in this shits-storm of a year. Daily bright spots if you look for them. Congratulations on the little one on the way!! Keep us updated!

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Gerard C. Smith November 5, 2020 at 9:06 pm

Hello Susan;

First let me say I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your Father. It is always a sadness to lose the ones whom we love. I hope that your Mother is holding up well. And I hope the same for you.

The COVID thing is difficult for all of us. At our age (me at 81 and Mimi at 79) we have to be careful, not that that isn’t so for everyone but it is more so for we ancients.. In Mimi’s case care is particularly called for. She was operated on for lung cancer in March and just as she recovered from that she contracted pneumonia. She’s better now, the pneumonia is cleared up and the surgery got all of the cancerous tumor (no chemo or radiation necessary) so that’s a good thing. Now, all she has to deal with is Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia, but so far it’s just a condition that needs monitoring but no treatment. So, in the big picture, we are lucky ones. Mimi’s health problems seem manageable and this old fat guy has no health problems and I’m still strong enough to walk the golf course, which I do.

We’ve been having a time caring for our next door neighbor for the last several weeks. She fell down a flight of steps and broke her neck. Her husband is a selfish bastard who has not been home since the accident. He flies for a Japanese air freight company and is making excuses for staying in Asia, but we know he’s been in this country and Europe and just doesn’t want to come hom and deal with his responsibilities. It’s a touchy situation as his wife, our friend, alternates between being angry and making excuses. Unfortunately she is not getting well and was readmitted to the hospital this afternoon for another operation. We are hoping that she will go to a rehabilitation care place for professional help after this operation as neither Mimi nor I are equipped to give her the care she needs. It’s a tough situation but I suppose in time it will straighten out.

I find the political and cultural news both baffling and disheartening. The right wing nastiness disturbs me greatly and I’m saddened that some intelligent people of my acquaintance have bought into the current political meanness. I understand, and in some ways sympathize with conservative ideas, but the perversion of those ideas running rampant is devastating. And racism, always with us but I thought lessening with our “better angels”, is another horror. I think that if I was a black or brown person in this society I would be a bomb thrower and I am amazed at the forbearance evidenced by those so put upon by our white controlled society. I thought in the nineteen fifties and sixties that we were going somewhere positive with American society but an awful lot has been torn asunder in recent years. Let’s hope that we can begin to mend the wounds in the next few years with Joe and Kamala showing the country what decency means. I remain hopeful that despite the steps backward that we have witnessed we continue forward progress toward “a more perfect union.” I find more silence when it comes to politics and racism that is comfortable and wish more openness was
easier to find and decency was a more sought after value. I don’t know that I can do much to help the situation but I try in whatever small ways that I can.

I put The Back Of The Moon in a bottom drawer where it may remain forever. But, I have something going, about 20,000 words and fourteen chapters of a lighthearted “unauthorized biography” of two imaginary but never-the-less magical cats who would prefer to have an an authorized biography written. But what they would prefer would be nothing but unstinting praise for them and their antics. Such an authorized biography would be untruthful so their preference cannot be accommodated. But, they look over my shoulder as I write and comment. Some of their comments are not for civilized ears.

That’s it foe now. My best for you and yours.

Jerry

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Susan Henderson November 7, 2020 at 3:35 pm

Hey, Jerry! Good to hear from you. 

We’re holding up okay, given the weirdness of not being able to see and hug friends and family, and given the atmosphere of political meanness you describe so well. I’m glad you’re taking good care of Mimi and your neighbor and getting some walks on the golf course. We’ll just have to do what we need to do to keep ourselves and loved ones safe and look forward to the hugs and freedom when it happens. 

I love the whimsy and originality of your new writing project! Keep following the magic! : )

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