Sunday, February 28, 2021

COVIDiary: Clouding

Last year during the March/April/May lock-down, my late afternoon and early evening balcony-time became my soul-saving time. I'd drag my camp chair out onto my tiny 4th floor balcony, tea or water at hand, to read or listen or just to be. 

To be honest, most of my balcony-time was the just being stuff. I'd watch how the trees were leafing out. Or count the number of trains coming and going on the tree-hidden track behind the apartment. But mostly I'd let my mind go blank as I watched the breeze push the clouds around.

Today was lovely and warm - a bit cloudy at times, but fine for balcony-sitting. So I dragged my camp chair out on my tiny 4th floor balcony with a book and my tea to enjoy this last day of February Sunday afternoon. 

I did a bit of reading, but I found the breeze and the tree branches and the clouds pulling me away from my book. So I decided to give in and watch the clouds roll by.

Except I've discovered that, usually, clouds don't roll by. Neither do they scud. 

Nope. In the words of Joni Mitchell, I've looked at clouds from both sides now, and they mostly drift. And slide. And gather, merging with other clouds to grow and form new shapes, or pull apart to drift away from their mama-clouds. Clouds flow. And they are hypnotic. 

It's noisier and louder now than it was during last year's lock-down. Cars coming and going. Lots of folks walking around, talking and laughing. The stillness and silence from last spring has given way to business as usual, the busyness of life. My clouding has a different soundtrack now. 

Still, there are worse ways to spend the last day of February than enjoying a springlike breeze watching the clouds drift by.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

One Night in This Wine Bar in Walton-on-Thames . . .

. . . in the summer of 1979, it was girls' night out to celebrate the impending wedding of my friend Sarah. Sarah and I had survived working behind the bar at the Ashley Park Hotel a couple of years before. We tended the lower pub, for the more well-off folks, not the upper pub where all the railroad workers hung out. Lots of stories about that time, but those will have to wait.

So, back to the summer of 1979. Wine bar. Walton. 

Sarah, a few of her college girlfriends, and I were partying big-time, drinking way more wine than was good for us (none of us were driving). Boney M's "Night Flight To Venus" album was spinning for the enjoyment of all, when in the course of things "Rasputin" hit the air. 

As I recall, there was a small dance floor - or maybe not, maybe we just created one - and up we all jumped and danced free-spirited to that fun song. You cannot sit still during "Rasputin." Arms flung out, spinning around, jumping, being adorable (or irritating, depending on your perspective). Such a joyful memory of being young and carefree and not giving a fig about what anyone thought about our wild abandoned dancing. 

The next day I got down to the local shops to get my own vinyl (yes, vinyl) "Night Flight to Venus" album, which I still have today, even though I do not own a turntable. Thank goodness for YouTube and Alexa.

Why bring this up now? Well it seems that Boney M's "Rasputin" is the latest thing on TikTok, causing a well-deserved resurgence in the song and the group. Hearing the song again made this old lady jump up, fling out her arms, spin and jump around - though I'm not nearly as adorable as I was at 28. 

Boney M was never big in the U.S., so Americans missed out on this joyful stuff. I hope TikTok can introduce my fellow citizens to this Euro-group and its fun music.

"Alexa, play Boney M's Rasputin." Now, go fling out your arms and jump around! 


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Why I Don't Do Lent

Ah, Ash Wednesday. The start of the 40-day church season that I ignore. Here's my confession: once I get my ashes, I don't do the rest of Lent. 

Lent is a season of intense, purposeful self-reflection and introspection, of self-denial, of trying to make positive changes, of repentance, of prayer - all in preparation for Easter. Yeah, I tried it a few years. Read the right books and Lenten meditations (even wrote a several of those in my time), attended the right services, said the right prayers, and followed whatever guidelines and suggestions for having a meaningful Lent were offered. 

But here's the thing. I already beat myself up in a hundred different ways 24/7/365. I don't need forty days to intensify the self-flagellation. Or reflection. Or introspection. I do way too much of all that already. Constantly. Very often in the wee small hours of the morning. 

I read meaningful, spirit-filling books and meditations all year long. (Thank goodness for the Brene Browns, Dolly Partons, and Lin-Manuel Mirandas of the world, as well as some true-blue friends.) And prayers? Yes. Bewailing my manifold sins? Yes. Not sure I want to do more of any of that than I already do.

So Lent has never done anything for me spiritually. All that stuff is guilt-/shame-/anger-/depression-inducing for me. Even all the gazillion meditations offered fail to move me. Lent has never brought me closer to God. If anything, it just kept me in a constant state of pissed-off when I tried to follow the whole 40-day thing back in the day. 

Those of you who find it spiritually meaningful, even necessary, I salute your efforts. If you think I don't understand the season or am missing the point, nah. I've seen it up, down, sideways, inside and out. I get it. 

But as for me, I'll continue my year-long Lenten practices without doubling up on them for the next forty days. I guess my only Lenten discipline is ignoring the whole thing.

Monday, February 15, 2021

COVIDiary: Vaxxed, Still Masked

Achieved my second dose of the COVID vaccine last Friday. Happy to report no side effects have shown up so far. Even my shot-arm didn't give me much trouble.

But I'm still double-masking, especially while working at the museum. I wish every public place would display a sign as clever and to-the-point as this one on a Seattle food truck:


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

O, Happy Day

We pause in the midst of a deadly pandemic to celebrate the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. Proud of my state of Georgia for helping elect them both and for electing Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock as our new U.S. Senators. It's a joyful, hopeful day. Onward!

A few of the day's highlights: 

                                                            Joe Biden sworn in as President

                                                Kamala Harris sworn in as Vice-President


                                        Lady Gaga's Star Spangled Banner, powerful and perfect


                        Amanda Gorman, 22 years old, delivers her poem "The Hill We Climb"


Georgia's newest U.S. Senators sworn into office by our new Vice-President/President of the Senate

Monday, January 18, 2021

COVIDiary: In Which I Give Up on Getting the Vaccine*

I give up. I've tried every which way to get an appointment for the COVID vaccine, but to no avail. I've called, put my name on lists for texts and phone calls, I've been rabid about checking every website for availabilities, but no, nothing. 

The whole roll-out of the vaccine is a hot mess, with every state and community doing it in different ways. I suspect that the only folks getting the shots right now are of a particular race and socio-economic class, and while I, too, am of that particular race and socio-economic group, even I can't get the damn thing. I worry about me. I worry about non-white poor folks getting access. 

Life is beyond stressful right now on every level. I believe I'm holding it together for the world to see, but inside? Nah. Not so much.

At work, I stay masked and keep my distance from our guests. At admissions or in the shop, I'm behind plexiglass. When I'm at Swan House or Smith Farm, I'm outside, masked, and keep my distance (I talk loud).

All my shopping is done online, I do not eat in restaurants. I do not meet friends. My immediate family, plus the other set of grandparents, have been together since late May/June, keeping our contacts few and far between. All meetings for work, church, etc., are via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. 

I get a COVID test whenever I feel it might be necessary. Sometimes the rapid one, sometimes the PCR. Keeping safe is my top priority.

I'm emotionally, mentally, and financially tired, drained, stressed. Having to chase down this vaccine is too much. So, I give up.

And I do not want any more advice on how to get this done. Unless you text, call, or email me saying you are on the way over to my apartment with the first vaccine injection and can guarantee that you'll be over in a couple of weeks with injection number 2, then please, no more suggestions. 

Congratulations to those of you who have managed to start the vaccine process. But for me, I'm out until the system is easier to navigate.  

* UPDATE: No sooner had I posted this blog than I got an email from one of my healthcare providers that it had appointments available and to check in. Which I did. I got my first dose this afternoon after work and have my appointment for dose number two in February. Still, the process stinks and I worry about all the folks not as connected as I am. 

Monday, January 11, 2021

COVIDiary: Things Fall Apart

We knew they were coming. We had plenty of notice. They'd been publicizing it since it became clear that their cult-leader president had lost re-election. 

They were coming to Washington, D.C. on January 6 to try to stop the certification of the Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden. 

Well, let 'em come, right? Let 'em swagger around making goofy threats, waving their stupid Trump flags. Men acting like little boys with their brainless women - what could they do? 

The Capitol is well-protected, and there's always the National Guard. Look at all the over-reaction to peaceful protesters in June - tear-gas, rubber bullets, huge show of force by law enforcement. Naturally, all this would be in place to greet the Trump whackadoodles, right? 

Oh how wrong we were. 

Goaded by the most disgusting man ever to hold the office of president, the MAGA idiots stormed the Capitol building, intent on destruction and perhaps murder of elected officials. Videos show Capitol police opening the barriers for these terrorists and are most definitely complicit in this act of domestic terrorism.

Can you tell how angry I am right now? 

Hm. What was the difference between the over-reaction to peaceful protests in June and the lack of law enforcement reaction to this mob terrorist attack on our nation's Capitol? 

Hint: skin color. 

I'm so angry, I can't complete this post in any cogent manner. How many law enforcement officers were involved? Military? Elected officials? How can any American with half a brain support this? 

More violence is promised by these low IQ, trashy thugs in the coming days. We shall see if this country can hold together. Democracy is fragile, evidently, and what we thought was a foundational Constitution is being shredded by 40% of our population. 

Maybe I should be fearful, but what I am is angry. Steam-coming-out-of-my-ears angry. 

Oh, and coronavirus cases and deaths have skyrocketed.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

COVIDiary: Let's Kick This One To The Curb, Eh?


It has been an historic year. One damn thing after another, actually, but lest I tempt fate on this almost last day of the year, I seem to have survived. So many didn't. No need for a yearly recap - who'd want that? Still, I do have some last thoughts to get down for posterity, so here goes. 

Things Done:

  • Stayed alive

And that's it. That's all. I managed to stay alive.

Things Left Undone:

  • Everything else

I didn't finish writing any of my great American novels, become a master chef, learn to knit or throw pottery, run a marathon, sort my finances, organize old photos, or become fluent in Urdu. I didn't even read as many books this year as I did in 2019. 

What I Learned:

  • I would be just as bad at total retirement as I always thought, so I'd better keep my job.
  • Teachers aren't paid enough. I've always known this, but they've really had to up their game this year, doing triple and quadruple the work for virtual school.
  • A good percentage of my sister and brother Americans are stupid and selfish (not the fault of their teachers). Harsh, I know, and something I always suspected, but if COVID19 and the 2020 elections taught me anything, it's that a solid knowledge and respect of science and civics is tragically missing among the populace. I know I'm breaking that commandment not to judge others, but I'm willing to swim a few laps in the Lake of Fire in the afterlife to calls it as I sees it. 
  • Teachers aren't paid enough.
  • Too many white people are dangerous assholes who need to sit down, shut up, and listen to non-white folks. 
  • Teachers aren't paid enough. 
  • Americans have no idea what socialism, with all its variations, is. 
  • Teachers aren't paid enough. 
  • I still remember how to do fractions and decimals (thanks to helping with Liam's virtual school). 
  • Teachers aren't paid enough. 

And that's all I have to say about 2020. It's been a watershed year in the most awful of ways. Too many senseless deaths, life upended in a million ways. I'm thankful that at least I can hold my grands close, and I pray all of us stay well. 

Let's tiptoe into 2021 and lie low until we see if it's safe.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

COVIDiary: A Very COVID Christmas

In the true spirit of 2020, I just ain't feelin' it this year. Normally, "not feelin' it" at Christmas would throw me into a cross between panic and depression, but this year I'm just letting myself sink into the lack of Christmas 2020 spirit without making a big deal out of it. 

I'm staving off holiday blues by reminding myself that 1) I'm alive - not only that, but I'm not - nor have I been, so far - hooked up to a ventilator; 2) daughter made it though a bout of coronavirus and son-in-law and grands have managed to avoid it completely; 3) the kids and I (and their teachers) have a welcome break from virtual school; and 4) meh - I wear a mask, mostly stay home, and keep my distance, but a major chunk of this is out of my control. 

In short, I view this as a go-with-the-flow Christmas. It won't be the best Christmas ever - memorable, but not the best. Major family traditions have gone by the wayside for 2020, but we still get plenty of laughs playing board games, creating outlandish art projects, and modeling in impromptu fashion shows. 

Yes, I have a tree with colorful lights. I'm watching Christmas movies non-stop. The balsam candle makes everything smell Christmasy. Christmas cards from family and friends connect relationships to the season. And, of course, the food. But that once-a-year-definitely-Christmas feeling is missing this year. 

So Merry COVID Christmas. The main thing is to stay safe. Try to live long enough to see the end of this pandemic and Trump. Wear a mask. Only hang out with my own little safe group. Vote. Get the vaccine when offered. And next year - next year - I'll double-dose on Christmas spirit. 

But this year, I'm just going to relax and get through it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

COVIDiary: Pandemic Thanksgiving

The pumpkin pies are chillin'. The spinach mornay has all its cheesy goodness stirred up, ready for baking. And the cornbread dressing, with the sauteed onions and celery and corny-breadiness lending a heavenly aroma to my home, is patiently awaiting the fine turkey drippings from daughter's star attraction tomorrow. A fairly normal night-before-Thanksgiving. 

Except it's not.

We'll be about a third of our usual Thanksgiving crowd, paring way down, and sticking to the immediate family to stay safe. We'll miss seeing everyone. We'll miss everyone's special recipes. 

Still. I'm thankful. I'm thankful that most of the family has avoided coronavirus so far, and the ones who have been laid low have recovered. 

I'm thankful we - and the teachers - have survived virtual school. 

I'm thankful I'm still semi-gainfully employed (The gainful part is in question.) 

I'm thankful we elected a normal, respectable person to lead our country and pray we can recover from the last four years. 

I'm thankful I can read and write. I'm thankful I have a comfy bed and a big ol' bathtub. 

Mostly I'm thankful for my family. Which is why we're staying as safe as we know how this weird holiday season. 

Tomorrow will be great. It will be memorable. The goal: To eat till our buttons pop and survive to see the new year.

And, of course, to be as thankful as can be for love, laughter, and good health.