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.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

COVIDiary: What to Get Me for Christmas

Nothing. Please. Nothing.

This has everything and nothing to do with the current pandemic. It's really not the year to get twisted into knots about what to buy me. 

I don't need more stuff. And what I do need can't be bought. Sleep. More time and adventures with the grandkids, family, and friends. Peace of mind. Continued good health. Time. 

So please no gifts. Please. 

Christmas is my very favorite time of year. What most people hate about it, I love - all the carols, all the lights, the hustle-bustle, too-full calendar. All the corny stuff. And I love Baby Jesus. Santa.  A live Christmas tree. Lights. Peppermint. Pine. Cinnamon. Oranges. All of it. I love. 

But the prezzies? Nah. Don't need 'em. Please, nothing for me. 

And for the record, I'm not buying you anything, either. The only ones on my list getting gifts are the grandkids, because - you know - grandkids.

If you've already bought my gift, keep it for yourself or donate it. I truly do not want anything for Christmas, including any guilt that will ensue if you get me something and I have nothing for you (because I won't have anything for you).

So sit back and enjoy your November and December without wondering what to get me for Christmas. And that will be my gift to you. 

P.S. - I love Christmas cards. Be sure to send me those.

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Dear Trump Supporters: Now It's Your Turn to Listen

Four years ago, millions of us were gutted to find Donald Trump elected president. How could this happen? What had we missed about folks who decided that this carnival barker of a man would be better at running the country than a brilliant, experienced woman? So the three million more of us who had voted for the smart woman were told to stand down and to spend time understanding the Trump voter - this mythical "heartland" voter. 

As a daughter of the South, I already knew - though I'll never understand - the Trump voter. They are family. They are friends. I know what drives them and what they're afraid of. I've listened to the fears. I've listened to the hopes. 

Many are one-issue voters - abortion, guns. Many come from a homogeneous background - white, Protestant or evangelical, consider themselves the "real" Americans, triggered by words like "socialism." Others see their world changing in a way that leaves them afraid and confused. And when constantly told that the "other" is taking your job, your way of life, killing babies, and coming after your guns, folks will follow anyone who promises to put a stop to whatever they're afraid of, whether it's bullshit or not.

Got it. 

Now, Trump voter, it's your turn. It's time for you to tuck away your fears and preconceived notions about us. You need to listen and really hear what millions and millions of us think. We outnumber you, so trying to understand us will be to your benefit. 

Like you, we represent a wide range of beliefs, fears, and hopes. 

Like you, we consider ourselves moral and patriotic. 

Like you, we want what's best for our country and the people - all the people - who live here. 

Unlike you, we're not a very homogeneous group racially, culturally, economically, politically.

Unlike you, we do tend to live in cities and their suburbs because cities are the financial, educational, and cultural centers, Cities are where the jobs are. Cities are more accepting - or ignoring - of differences. So, yes, a lot of folks who live in large population centers aren't white. Many have different religious views. They are centers of the richest of the rich, poorest of the poor, and everything in between. 

There are a lot more "unlike yous" that you need to understand, but those differences are as varied and personal as there are individuals. 

We are certainly not politically monolithic. We range from solid center - even a little right of center - to left-wing radical. In fact, we're all over the place politically. I know this frustrates you. It sometimes frustrates me. But I believe our crazy political spectrum is a strength, not a weakness. I'm proud that we don't have to tick off all the center/left boxes to work for good. 

So. Now it's your turn. You have to wonder why this country and cities around the world took to the streets to celebrate the defeat and downfall of Donald Trump. If you don't wonder or don't want to know, I invite you to come out of your very protective comfort zone and learn about us. 

Honestly, I'm not feeling very kumbiya at the moment. I'm over trying to understand you. It's time for you to take the time and effort to understand me. 

I don't know if any hearts and minds will be changed. But we all have to live and work and play in this country together. We are all citizens of the United States. It is in our best interest to at least find some common ground.

The ball is in your court, Trump supporter. I'm ready when you are.

COVIDiary: Light in the Darkness. Finally.


Tuesday, November 03, 2020

COVIDiary: Vote2020

Please, God. For the sake of John Lewis, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and those of us still living and breathing in this land, end the nightmare that started four years ago tonight. Amen. #BidenHarris2020

Thursday, October 22, 2020

COVIDiary: What a Long, Strange Trip

Sigh. A long, strange never-ending trip. 

We're finishing up the 9th week of virtual school, and I'm still in awe of the teachers. The amount of work they put into ensuring a variety of teaching methods, learning tools, apps and off-computer assignments that allows for just about every learning style is truly amazing. They seem to work around the clock, as assignments come through at all hours of the day and night. 

As a writer I'm particularly impressed with the amount of writing the kids have to do, both the 2nd graders and the 5th graders. All are getting well-schooled in grammar and parts of speech. Punctuation, capitalization, and neat handwriting count. Dramatic and information narratives, short dramas, and writing exercises for, yes, language arts, but also math, science, and social studies are required several times a week. Glad they're all getting lots of practice in expressing themselves effectively.

Virtual learning has its ups and downs - so much freedom and variety, but a lot of extra work for everyone (especially the teachers) and just plain ol' missing the structure of being at school, being with friends. 

And I have to admit - inwardly screaming, actually - that I'm tired. Working six days a week - three with the kids and three at the History Center - is testing me right now. It's a physical thing, but it's more than that. I feel dispirited. Part of it is this crazy virus, certainly, but it's also the awful things that Trump has foisted upon our nation and the stress of worrying about the upcoming election and its outcome. (Yes, I've voted and my ballot received and accepted.)

This could have been a time when we all came together to fight COVID-19, saving lives, the economy, and everyone's mental and emotional health. But this awful, low IQ, vindictive scam artist creep that a minority of us put into power has made everything - everything! - worse. I want him and everyone in his government gone. Out. Never to be heard of again.

So, yes, months of stress and feeling helpless and hopeless wears on one. Throw in working a 6-day week, and I'm beginning to sink. Even all the Halloween candy and horror films aren't doing much to bring me cheer. 

But like everybody else right now, I have no choice but to stay on this long, strange trip carrying a tiny  candle of hope that we'll turn a corner and behold a better world. 

So, fellow travelers, let's link arms and hold each other up as we struggle along. [insert hopeful Depression Era song here] Sigh.