On this day I start my seventh decade. Let's see what the rest of this life has to offer.
Still, this is travel-dreaming, so in the best of all possible immunized world, here's where I'd pack off to first:
Sure, Maine and Greece and a return to South Africa, Germany, and Italy are on the list, but they'll have to line up behind the top three. I've missed travel so much since I left my big-girl job. I'm ready to roll!
Of course, I'm broke as hell, but a girl can dream, can't she?
For the past two weeks, the students have been divided with half going Monday and Tuesday and the other half going Thursday and Friday. It seemed a good way to acclimate everyone to the new rules of masking and social distancing, classroom arrangements, and lunch/recess accommodations. The teachers have to do double-duty (when haven't they?) by teaching the in-class students as well as those opting to continue virtual school.
I know Liam and Charlotte were glad to get back; they both admitted it to me. Just being with their friends and teachers and in a familiar space lifted their spirits, I think.
Teachers and staff have been vaccinated, and everyone remains masked. No use of water fountains,so the kids have to bring their own water bottles. Desks are separated. Lots of hand sanitizer.
Praying all goes well with the return to in-school learning. I know parents and grandparents want the best for everyone, but it's been a hard, hard eight months as we've struggled with technology glitches, wonky schedules, and basic algebra, multiplying fractions, and decimals (me!).
Historic. A time for the ages. The kids will be fine academically. They've learned a lot these past months, much of it not academic. Things like resilience, creative problem-solving, and flexibility.
We'll all recover. We'll never forget, though. And teachers aren't paid enough. Ever.
Not a week goes by without some violent act against Blacks, Asians, Latinos, Muslims, and others considered "different" or off-kilter or "not one of us" just because they are. Just because they want the same respect and opportunities and rights.
If you're white, I bet your brain automatically goes to "not all white people, not me!" Well, you know, I don't know. Speaking for myself, no, my family never owned slaves, I do my best to work at being anti-racist, and I've always worked in professions with colleagues of diverse races and backgrounds. But I am aware that simply because of the color of my skin I have an advantage that outweighs even the disadvantage of my age and my sex.
My white European features and style of dress - however plain and unremarkable - give me a free pass for all sorts of things. No one steps aside to avoid me on a sidewalk or holds their purse or packages tighter when I'm near. No one has a problem with my hairstyle (except me!) or speech patterns. I'm pretty confident that if I'm stopped for a traffic violation (haven't been in years, but, hey, who knows?), I'll come out of it alive, even if I show some attitude.
White privilege is real and deeply embedded in our culture and government. The sooner we pale folks own up to it, the sooner we can work to tease out all the threads tangled up in this privilege and straighten them out so that everybody's "thread" is equal in opportunity and respect. The color of that thread should not and cannot matter.
To our Black, Asian, Latino, Muslim sisters and brothers, we owe recognition, respect, and a fierce effort to ensure our skin privilege never again puts them in danger or at economic, educational, or cultural disadvantage.
When will we ever learn? It will take work. Hard, good work. But this has to stop.
I wish I could wax philosophical about how I grew, what I learned over the past twelve months, but I just can't right now. I did none of the things I'd always told myself I'd do if I only had the time. I didn't write. I didn't organize all those boxes and bags of old photos. I didn't sort, discard, downsize. Nope. All I can say is that I survived and my family survived.
The year feels lost to me. Summer, lost. Autumn, lost. The school-year, lost. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas - all lost. Vague memories of everything with photos as proof, but the real touchstones of traditions and gatherings that mark the years couldn't take place, so what's happened over the last year is a jumble.
I'm not sure I can really reflect on the impact this pandemic has had on my life until I can get some distance from it. I need time and space to see how - if - it's changed me. What I suspect - at least, for myself - is that there are some lasting scars that I can't acknowledge right now.
I believe a grieving period is needed. A period to sort through the lost days, the lost connections and memories of things that couldn't happen.
However, I do believe there's light and life at the end of this dark tunnel. So be gentle with everyone for I'll bet they are fragile after making it through this year, whether or not they want to admit it. Be grateful for the small things. Celebrate the big things.
That's all I've got right now.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.