This Feels Like the End of the World

The west coast is on fire. Fortunately, none of those fires are very close to Seattle. Yet. But all that west coast smoke got blown into the Pacific Ocean, hit an induction current, and headed right to Puget Sound like a freight train from hell. We now have some of the worst air quality on the planet. Poor Oregon has it even worse. I’m struggling to breathe.

The day before yesterday, when I got home from work, I was coughing, my heart was pounding, and I had a headache. Air matters. I kept having to fight down a panic attack when I felt as though I wasn’t getting enough.

My inner child was freaking out. “You’re gonna DIE!!!” “Help me!” I was on the verge of tears for most of the day. This feels like the end of the world.

Yesterday I brought a respirator to work. A respirator. And we thought masks were bad. I would never have predicted that I’d be relying on a respirator. This is not the world I had planned to live in. The smoke has blocked out the sun. It’s a perpetual twilight.

But with time to think, I was able to compare my situation to others. Not being able to breathe is terrifying. I thought of my late boyfriend, Chuck, who had to fight for every breath he took. When he was having a really bad asthma attack, he’d want me to put my hand on his heart and talk calmly to him, so he wouldn’t freak out. “You’re breathing. You’re breathing…” I can still hear myself saying it. I learned to say it even before I was fully awake. Now I get it. I get it, and I’m heartbroken at the thought of it.

I also feel even worse about George Floyd. Lying there in the street, being choked to death by a cop. He was looking at the crowd, who were desperately trying to talk the cop out of this, but the crowd, for good reason, was too afraid to physically intervene. How frightened and alone he must have felt as he died.

I feel for those in industrialized China who have lived with this air quality every single day for years. It’s a travesty.

I’m outraged for those prisoners in Guantanamo. Many are still there, and some have been waterboarded more than 80 times. What animals are we to do that? It has long been proven that torturing doesn’t yield valuable information.

I weep for all the people who have died of COVID-19, each one struggling for breath as they went. And they had no loved ones by their side to put their hands on their hearts and talk calmly to them. So much of this has been unnecessary.

Winter is coming and the fires will die down, but we’ll still have to deal with this pandemic. In the best of times, I struggle with depression during these Pacific Northwest winters. The isolation. Not seeing the sun for weeks on end. The raw, wet, unrelenting rain. Now add a heaping helping of COVID-19 on top of that, and I fail to see how any of us will make it to spring with our sanity intact.

Please, God, do not visit an earthquake upon us right now. I can’t take another thing. Stop 2020. I want to get off.

Stay safe everyone. Wear your masks. Wash your hands. Vote.

Me, just trying to breathe. 9/12/20

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Dogs for Defense

Proof positive that we Americans are not the people we used to be: shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a program was created called Dogs for Defense. Citizens were asked to volunteer their dogs to be trained to help with the war effort. They were to become sentries, scouts, messengers and mine detectors. For some reason they specified that these dogs must be pure bred.

More than 10,400 families volunteered their dogs for this initiative, and only 549 came home, many to live with their handlers rather than the families who gave them up.

Today, this could never happen. For starters, we are now of a mindset where we don’t expect to sacrifice anything for war. If you tried to impose food rationing for example, riots would break out. I also think we are no longer the starry-eyed patriots we once were. I don’t think that any war has been considered noble since WWII.

Give up my dog? Not on your life. Not unless the front line was right down the street from my house. Not that my dogs would be much help. One is terrified of men based on his brutal start in an abusive puppy mill, and the other is such a lover he’d be kissing the enemy on the nose and begging for Snausages.

Over the years, our love of our pets has become more intense as well. In the 40’s, despite the “boy and his dog” image, pets were often relegated to the back yard and tossed table scraps. Veterinarians were a rare indulgence basically reserved for farm animals, and dry dog food was only just coming into vogue. Annual medication for pets has really only been popular for the past 20 years. I think if people in the 40’s knew we’d be taking our dogs to groomers and dressing them up for Halloween, they’d have laughed.

Moot point entirely. Now the military has its own dogs. Standard Poodles (I kid you not) and German Shepherds are on patrol at Guantanamo even as we speak.

It’s really interesting to see how public perception about various issues evolves over time, isn’t it?

dogs for defense