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Monday, September 14, 2009

Burnout! ... or ... why the oldest park ranger on the planet high-tailed it to an ocean retreat and endlessly patient Tom... .

Contrary to common belief -- Betty Reid Soskin, mother of 3, grandmother to 5 and occasional Tilter at Windmills and all-around Shero does occasionally run out of gas. I've been running on fumes for the past week or so and have been dangerously close to a meltdown; or so it appears. For the first time in my park career I stood in the middle of my supervisor's office and wept unashamedly. I was furious! And I wanted to be. I definitely did not want to be consoled. It was clearly a PMS-worthy tantrum, and it felt good once the tension had run its course.

I was reminded of a time when my poor puzzled young husband, Mel, tried to comfort me unsuccessfully. He stood there looking helplessly confused asking, "what is it that you want, Betty?" I screamed back him, "...what I want most in the world is never to have to tell you what I want! Poor guy. It made perfect sense to me. But when a woman gets to that point logic has become irrelevant. Reason is an empty concept. Being furious is its own reward. Crazy? Sure it is. It's cathartic as nothing else could ever be. It's happens to me no more than one or twice in a decade, and is always memorable.

Today I closed the books; logged off from my office computer for the next 36 hours; announced that my work was caught up, and that I would head for Mendocino early tomorrow morning. There will be no sounds of sirens or gunshots. There is no cell phone reception; only the roar of the ocean just 90 feet away and the wind in the gnarled cypresses ... lying on my back in bed watching the wisps of fog drift across the skylights ... and the silence ... oh, the silence ... .

I'm taking along the latest book by Toni Morrison and leaving behind the troubling draft of a book I'd agreed to review for Heyday book publishers. I've gotten partway through it, but given the schedule I've been keeping, the contents added to the stress that I'm now needing desperately to escape. It needs reading, but not by me -- not now -- not when I'm feeling so off-balance. It is an important book entitled, "Wherever There's a Fight," by co-authors, Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi. Subtitle: How runaway slaves, suffragists, immigrants, strikers, and poets shaped civil liberties in California. Maybe what I need right now is something by Nora Ephron or Sarah Vowell, just until the world slows down a bit.

See you on Thursday.

Betty

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