Flying through COVID

What a trip this was!

Recently Dear Husband and I took a trip that we are calling “Autumn Back East 2021”. Our goal was to visit friends and family, and I wanted to show DH what autumn leaves really look like in a region that isn’t primarily covered in evergreen trees, and introduce him to our nation’s capital.

We flew to Atlanta, picked up a rental car, then drove to Alabama, North Florida, Georgia, Eastern Tennessee, Western North Carolina, and then drove to Washington DC by way of Virginia. Then we flew back home.

It was an amazing trip which lasted 15 days, and since I’m now only blogging every other day, if I gave you a day to day account like I have on trips past, it would take a month, and you’d be heartily sick of the subject before we even left peach country. So I’ve decided to focus on highlights, which I’ll do my best to keep in order. This is the first post in the series, and a there is link to the next post in the series below.

We’ve all read so many horror stories about anti-vaxxers (or at least anti-maskers) acting up on plane flights lately that I must say I was looking at our next trip with a certain level of trepidation. Fortunately, we were able to get nonstop flights both ways, but I was braced to have to make unexpected stops to eject unruly passengers into the flyover states where they belong, after having first been forced to wrestle them to the ground and duct tape them into a seat. I’m not a violent person as a general rule, but I was prepared to kick some anti-vaxxer butt if need be, even if it meant interrupting my in-flight movie.

I had been sizing up my fellow passengers in the waiting area, and one guy had me a little concerned. He wasn’t wearing a mask, and when his wife and kids asked him to do so, he got really angry at them. Eventually he complied, and then sulked and glared at his wife like the big baby that he was, as we all pretended not to stare. I was really happy to see he was sitting nowhere near me once we all boarded the plane.

But before I get to the plane, here are some photos of the airport art that I saw in Seattle and Atlanta. Airports are great places for art. You never know what you’ll see.

The only pandemic drama we experienced on the flight out was a guy, built like a linebacker, sitting just in front of me. He kept his mask on, but his nose was exposed. The flight attendants kept having to stop and ask him to cover up. He would do so, but the minute they walked off, he’d expose his snout yet again. They talked to him four different times, to no avail. Given his size, I really don’t blame the staff for not turning it into a major confrontation. But yeah, he was breathing right in front of me. I was glad I was wearing an N95 mask, even though after a few hours my ears and the bridge of my nose were in agony. Wearing a mask is what a responsible person does.

Because we would be visiting friends and family, we planned to take several rapid COVID tests during and after the trip. Fortunately, they all came back negative, but of course we had no way of knowing that during the flights. I generally enjoy flying, but this pandemic added a layer of stress that I could have done without. I did make a point of thanking one of the flight attendants, because I know that their jobs are about a million times more difficult these days, so I wanted them to know they were appreciated.

Aside from linebacker, everything went smoothly. I settled back and enjoyed the view. My long-legged DH prefers the aisle seat, so I got to point out an amazing circular rainbow. I haven’t seen one of those in years. It’s great to be above the horizon to actually see these things intact. I wish this picture did it justice. We flew along that cloud bank for quite some time, with the circular rainbow keeping us company.

As this was an evening flight, I got to enjoy seeing the towns and cities lit up below, and later, when the clouds came in, we were treated to this lightning show in the distance. (Check out my brief video on my Youtube channel here or if your electronics are compatible, see it below.) If we had been closer, I’d have kept watch for monsters on the plane wings, a la Twilight Zone. But I actually felt quite safe.

We landed in Atlanta and checked in to the closest hotel to the airport, as it was midnight. We were woken up at 6 am by a jet engine starting up right outside our window. Not my favorite alarm clock.

On the flight home 15 days later, we flew from Washington DC to Seattle. I’ll start off with some more art from that day’s airports.

This flight was much better and also much worse than the first one. We had enough points to fly first class. I’ve only done that once before in my life. Alaska Airlines treated us to a decent meal, like all passengers used to get in the 80’s. (I had miso marinated cod.) I now understand why they close a curtain between first class and all the poor schmucks behind us. They only got beverage service. Not even peanuts. We also had ample leg room and comfortable seats. I could get used to this. I glanced around to see if we were sharing the cabin with anyone famous, but of course, we still wore our uncomfortable N95 masks, so who knows?

What I couldn’t get used to was the turbulence. Several days before, the west coast had been treated to a “bomb cyclone”, and now the remnants of that weather system was headed east, right toward our plane. I’ve had smoother rides on roller coasters. I guess this was karma for me making a snarky remark on Facebook that every time we leave town, all hell seems to break loose.

As we sank below the clouds on our approach to Seattle, I got to snap these photos of our city, which include a few of my drawbridges, the space needle, and the sports stadiums. What a pretty city we have.

Anyway, we survived and made it home to see our dogs, who were very excited to greet us. The things I missed most about home were my dogs, my bidet, and exercising at the local YMCA pool. There’s no place like home.

More about what happened on the east coast in days to come!

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American Cruelty

You have to eat or be eaten.

I can’t speak for the rest of the world. At the rate this pandemic is going, I might never be able to travel internationally again, so I’m losing perspective. But I certainly have ample opportunity to observe my fellow Americans from my exclusive perch in the tower of my drawbridge, and I also read enough of the news to believe this to be true: Americans, in general, are getting increasingly cranky to the point of being really terrifying.

I get it. This pandemic has us worn out. The state of politics, especially since Trump came along, has our nerves shredded. And the way that we have all been forced to answer certain moral questions of late is revealing that a lot fewer of us are decent human beings than I previously imagined.

Even though this post is not strictly about masks and vaccines, I do have to say that it seems like a no-brainer to me: If I’m asked to do something that I’m not thrilled with, but that thing will potentially help to prevent someone from dying, I’m going to do that thing. I got vaccinated. I wear a mask. But there are people out there who genuinely believe that they should not be personally inconvenienced just so someone else might live. It astounds me. Public health isn’t about just you. If the golden rule means anything at all, it means, hey, maybe I shouldn’t have a hand in bringing about someone else’s demise.

The whole mask and vaccine thing is just the tippy top of a huge iceberg of cruelty that is becoming increasingly evident. I’m seeing more people shouting at each other from the bike lanes and out of car windows. More horns are blaring. The schizophrenics among our homeless people, who I view as the human equivalent of canaries in coal mines, are starting to rage even more as tensions increase. It’s like we are now in a constant state of full moon. All bets are off. It’s impossible to predict who will lose it next. All that you can do is hope that you’re not anywhere near ground zero when it happens.

My friends who work in the medical field are being screamed at more often, and sometimes even assaulted. Here on my drawbridge, more pedestrians are refusing to cooperate every day. To hell with the 3000 gross ton gravel barge that’s bearing down on us. They have places to go and people to see. Screw the flashing lights and warning gongs.

More people are cutting in line in general. More people are blowing through red lights. The other day I saw two guys engaged in a fistfight on a street corner in broad daylight.

I can’t emphasize this enough: There is NO EXCUSE for yelling at and/or assaulting someone for doing their job. You may not like the policy they’re having to enforce, but they’re just trying to make a living. You want to shout, shout at the rich person who probably owns the company. Rich people should be shouted at a lot more often, if you ask me. They certainly deserve it more than cashiers or wait staff do.

It’s getting so I’m afraid to ask anyone a question, even one as innocent as, “How late are you open?” because responses to any type of question seem to be hostile these days. I spend a lot of time wondering what I’ve done to people. But it doesn’t just happen to me. Not that that’s any comfort.

I just read a fascinating opinion piece by Umair Haque, entitled, “Why America is the World’s Most Uniquely Cruel Society.” It really made me think about how America is set up to operate. It also made me think about how this country came to be the way it is.

In that article, the author posits the theory that we have a very unusual origin story, even for a colonial country that has been trained to utterly ignore the native people who were here first. Throughout colonial history, America has been colonized by people who were leaving home because on one level or another they were not wanted.

Everyone’s immigration story is different, of course, but we didn’t tend to attract the rich upper classes. Royalty wasn’t trying to move here. Some common reasons for coming to America included getting away from religious or political persecution, or avoiding violence at home, or desperate poverty and no opportunities in their homelands, or they were criminals. Let’s face it. There’s no need to pursue the American Dream unless you’re living a nightmare.

One thing that all desperate people have in common is the desire to no longer be at the bottom of society. They want to experience dignity, respect, and a sense of belonging. Who doesn’t? But in order for you to rise up in the hierarchy to the place where those things are obtainable, someone has to be below you, and that person doesn’t want to be there either, so it becomes a fight. And as more and more waves of immigrants washed up on these shores, more people had to get stepped on, and, the author suggests, this cruelty has since become a habit that has been passed down through the generations.

The English settlers hated the Native Americans. Then they had to hate all the people that came after them and threatened their place in the societal pyramid. So the English hated the French, the French hated the Germans, the Germans hated the Irish, who hated the Italians, and on and on. And of course, slaves got to be the scapegoats for everyone even though they never asked to be here in the first place. Then came the Asians who did the great service of also not looking like us, so they, too, were easy to spot and be cruel to. When we took the West from the Spanish-speaking people who had taken it from the Native Americans, we hated them too.

And through all of this, which is still ongoing, we have learned, consciously or unconsciously, that you have to be cruel to survive. You have to be violent to get ahead. You have to eat or be eaten.

Over the centuries, the cruelty has become institutionalized. Homeless? What a shame. Glad I’m not you. Less than desirable as a neighbor? Lock ‘em up and throw away the key. You don’t deserve universal health care. Higher education is only for those who can pay for it. Can’t get a job? Well, then, join the military and become cannon fodder or the good of the country.

We have one of the lowest life expectancies of any rich nation, and while that’s embarrassing, nothing need be done about it unless it starts impacting ME. We have the highest rate of mass shootings in the world, but hey, that helps decrease the surplus population. The only country that has a higher death rate per capita due to drug use is the Ukraine, and yet we put very little money into our substance abuse infrastructure. Let ‘em eat cake.

Based on this hierarchy of ours, the conservatives should encourage immigration, not attempt to squash it. Because if they are successful in their policies of exclusion, one day they may look around and realize that they no longer have anyone to step on, and it’s awfully lonely at the bottom.

We need to find a way to break this cycle of cruelty and hate. We need to lift each other up if we want this country to succeed. We need to realize that our current behavior is not serving us well.

But most of all, I think we all need to take a deep breath, pause, and grow the f**k up.

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Stupid Deaths

There are many options to choose from, but don’t.

A friend of mine just posted footage of some people on a beach in Lake Tahoe. Bucolic enough, until I add that there was a mama bear and her three cubs walking straight toward them. And they see that, and don’t seem to care at all. They’re too busy sunbathing to worry about minor details like their imminent demise. When in doubt, save the freakin’ beer.

IDIOTS!!!

I was just telling dear husband the other day that when I die, I hope it’s not because I’m being stupid about something. There are so many stupid death options out there to choose from. Most intelligent people value their lives too much to “take advantage” of those options.

For example, you won’t see me driving while intoxicated. I’m also not going to cross train tracks when the traffic gates are down. Nor would I ever jump an opening drawbridge. But you’d be amazed how often these things happen.

I’m also not going to eat something that can kill me if it’s not prepared just right. Fugu can’t taste good enough for me to risk my life or it. Nothing can. I’m also never going to ingest something without knowing what it is, even if everyone says the high is awesome.

I also have zero desire to play with explosives or fire or deadly weapons. I think a lot of stupid deaths are caused by youth and arrogance. That whole, “It can’t happen to me” thing is ridiculous. If it has happened to someone, then, by definition, it can happen to you.

I’m not saying that people should be so cautious that they don’t live their lives. If that were the case, no one would ever walk across a street, even if the traffic lights are red. We’d all be paralyzed with inactivity.

It’s a statistics thing, really. If I want to enjoy the redwoods, I’m not going to cancel my trip to see them because one person was crushed by a falling redwood. I just won’t wander amongst those trees during heavy winds or rains, and will heed all warning signs that I come across. Calculated risks. That’s the ticket.

Currently, 95 percent of the COVID-19 deaths are by people who refuse to get vaccinated. The fact that this whole issue was ever politicized is a travesty. Going without a mask while unvaccinated is not living free, it’s living stupid, and potentially dying stupid. It’s entirely preventable at this point. There’s absolutely no valid excuse.

So if you’re thinking of juggling chainsaws while walking a tightrope across the Grand Canyon, I’d urge you to think of the consequences and consider how much you value your life. Because there’s nothing quite so pathetic as having someone stand over your grave, shaking his or her head, saying, “what a stupid, unnecessary waste.”

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What Will the New Normal Look Like?

We have all been changed by this past year.

I’ve heard much chatter of late as to what the world will be like once we’ve finally developed herd immunity from COVID-19. Some people seem to think everything will revert back to the way it was when we were all more naïve about viruses, their transmission, and their impact. I don’t see that as a possibility. First of all, sorry to say, but COVID-19 will never be completely eradicated. And other pandemics are sure to follow sooner or later.

So this gives me the opportunity to make some predictions about our new normal. I’m sure I’ll look back on this blog post someday and either laugh at my foolishness or think, “Dang, you’re good!” (That’s one of the drawbacks of blogging. There’s nowhere to hide from your past idiocy. But sometimes you also get to say “I told you so!”)

The reason I’m fairly certain that we will not return to days of yore is that when my boss suggested that we’ll all probably be vaccinated by the end of the month and should therefore be able to revert back to our old shift-change-in-a-teeny-tiny-little-room habit, I had a visceral reaction. Panic, if I’m honest.

First of all, due to HIPAA, we’ll never know for sure if everyone has been vaccinated. Second, as of this writing, the scientists are not yet certain that vaccinated people cannot still be carriers of COVID, and even they say that these vaccines are not 100% effective. The news changes daily, but until I have more reassurance than that, I don’t feel like marinating in my coworkers aerosol, thankyouverymuch.

The smallest lesson from this is that a lot of us are going to find it hard to unmask. I’m struggling with the concept, and I HATE wearing a mask. I’m tired of my glasses fogging, and I feel claustrophobic. But I do it because I know that it has been the safest, most responsible thing to do. It will be difficult for me to gauge when that safety and responsibility is no longer needed.

We’ve all been changed in various negative and positive ways by this past year. We’ve slowed down. We’ve isolated ourselves a lot more. Many of us have worked from home. We’ve all learned that it is possible to do these things. Some of us have liked it, and some of us have not. I suspect that a certain percentage of those who don’t like it will find that they like it a lot more when it becomes voluntary, and they’ll adopt a sort of hybrid lifestyle.

I suspect a lot of people who have been telecommuting will resist going back to the office 5 days a week. That, and businesses will have learned that there’s a lot less overhead to pay when you don’t have to maintain as much office space. And, surprise! The work still seems to be getting done.

On the real estate front, many people who have been allowed to telecommute have sold their houses in the big cities and have moved… well, anywhere they’ve wanted to move. A lot of people have gone rural. It’s going to be really hard to persuade them to come back. (It’s sort of the opposite of, “How will you keep them down on the farm, now that they’ve seen ‘Paree’?”)

And now that I’m more aware of virus vectors, I don’t see myself ever being as comfortable going to large concert venues again. Don’t get me wrong. I miss live performances. I just don’t miss sharing my airspace with a thousand strangers.

I’ll never get used to being crammed into a crowded elevator or subway again. When people cough, I’ll feel a flashing red alert inside my head. I doubt I’ll ever enjoy long air flights again. (But then, they’ve been going down hill since the 80’s, anyway.)

Now, when I forget my mask, I don’t get very far. I feel naked and exposed and vulnerable. I’m horrified. I turn right back around and I get it. I think it will take more than a minute for me to get past that feeling.

I suspect that this virus has changed us in ways that we have yet to see. Personally, I’ve enjoyed not having a single solitary cold all year long. I wouldn’t mind continuing to wear a mask in more crowded places if I could stay on that path.

I suspect, at a bare minimum, a certain percentage of us will continue to wear masks, at least some of the time. I also suspect that those of us who do are going to get bullied for it by various factions. But we are living in a different world now, and that’s just a hard fact.

These are my predictions. What do you think? In any event, time will tell.

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My Interpretation of ProLife

I try to work toward the common good.

The other day I was watching Biden’s speech on the one-year anniversary of the declaration of this pandemic. It was streaming live on Facebook, and as per usual, the comments were going by so quickly that I couldn’t keep up with them. I did note that some were really supportive, but a lot were from a hostile, angry, lunatic fringe. I decided to focus mainly on the speech.

I struggled to understand why what Biden was saying in this instance was so divisive. The man was talking about his plans, moving forward, to battle this pandemic, and said we all needed to work together for this to be a success. He hoped that the vaccine rollout would continue to be even faster than he first anticipated, and he prayed for those who have lost loved ones. He encouraged us to keep wearing masks and socially distancing, and hoped everything would be more normal by the 4th of July.

After hearing that speech, I felt compelled to throw in a comment of my own, so I typed:

“So nice to hear calm, reasonable, and reassuring words. We’re not out of the woods yet, but progress is being made.”

The comment did get a lot of likes, and also a few laughs, which confused me. Did they think I was joking, or was that their rude way of saying that they thought what I said was a joke? Whatever. Concentrating as I was on what was being said by the president, I didn’t notice the responses to my comment until long after the comment ability had been discontinued.

One guy chimed in:

“bet you do like being told what you are and aren’t allowed to do…..speak for yourself”

A second guy responded:

“uhmmm she is speaking for herself”

To which the first guy replied:

“lol…touche….hoping nobody would see that…bad wording….”

Reading this, I thought, “Why would you assume, based on my comment, that I like being told what I am and am not allowed to do? What prompted you to respond to my positive, yet relatively generic statement? That’s really weird.”

But like I said, comments where turned off by this point, so I kind of had to let it go.

Only I couldn’t. I lost sleep over it, even though it was rather trivial. The only way I was able to get any rest was by telling myself that I do, indeed, have a voice, and a forum on which to express myself. I’d be blogging about it in the morning.

So here’s the response I’d dearly love to give this guy:

I think it’s safe to say we can both agree that nobody likes being told what to do. But here’s where we part company: I most definitely do like being advised by scientists, experts, and leaders on what the best practices are to keep my community safe and healthy.

I was raised not to be selfish. I instinctively try to work toward the common good at every turn. Wearing masks sucks, yes, but I feel that the need not to kill anyone supersedes my desire not to have my glasses fog up every time I exhale.

I also stop at red lights, so as not to kill myself or anyone else. I wear seatbelts. I don’t shout “fire” in a crowded theater. I don’t storm capitol buildings or try to overthrow duly elected presidents. I don’t cause riots, I don’t wave guns around in public places, I do my best to keep the environment safe for future generations, and I pay my taxes so that others can be helped in times of need. I also don’t tug on superman’s cape, because I’m just that considerate. If this pandemic has a silver lining at all, it’s that it has given us a visual indication of who is considerate and who is not.

My point is that when choosing to do things, I don’t think merely of myself and how the thing might inconvenience me. I think about the wider world. I think of consequences and how others will be impacted. I think of friends and family, young and old, people yet to be born, and total strangers, even those I suspect I wouldn’t like or agree with. That’s what you do when you’re truly pro-life. You look at the big picture, not just your very narrow, selfish agenda.

Hoo. Thanks for listening. I feel cleansed.

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The Upside to Face Masks

Have you gotten your annual winter cold?

Yeah, face masks fog up your glasses and make it a tiny bit harder to breathe. Yeah, some fools think they violate their rights, or that they send some form of political message. (Such as, “I care about your life?” Beats me.) Yes, it’s a pain when you forget to wear one and have to go back to your car or house to get it. And I haven’t seen the bottom half of the faces of my friends in so long I’ve forgotten how they look. But I’m beginning to realize that there are quite a few upsides to face masks.

For example, it suddenly occurred to me today that I haven’t gotten my annual nasty winter cold. I’ve come to resign myself to it every year, but so far, knock on wood, I’ve gotten off scot free. No complaints here! (And I haven’t had the flu in decades because I get the vaccine every year.) I may have to wear masks every Autumn and Winter from here on out.

I’ve discovered other benefits as well. Masks keep your face warm when it’s cold outside. I’ve also been using one to hide an unsightly pimple on my nose for the past week. Bonus points! And I can stick my tongue out at people I don’t like and get away with it. It’s very satisfying.

I never thought, this time last year, that I’d have a favorite mask or an obscene collection of masks, but I do. How quickly fashions change. How quickly priorities change.

Of course, the primary upside to face masks is their ability to protect those around you from this deadly pandemic. That alone should be all the reason one needs to wear one. Personally, I’ll move heaven and earth to avoid killing people, but that’s just me.

No, this isn’t me. Just some random pic from the internet, but I like her attitude!

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A Hateful, Clueless Meme

A twisted use of a powerful photograph.

You may have seen this disgusting meme floating around on social media. A friend (Hi, Jen!) pointed it out to me, and I was instantly repulsed. The message it seems to be trying to get across is, don’t follow the mask-wearing sheep of the world. Resist. Do what you want. As if not wearing a mask makes you some kind of hero.

This meme seems to be quite popular amongst the foolish people who think that by not wearing a mask, they’re exercising a constitutional right. That is patently absurd. None of us have the right to put the lives of everyone we come in contact with at risk. We all have a responsibility to maintain public health. If that weren’t the case, we’d be pooping on the public sidewalks with impunity. Because holding it doesn’t feel good.

There are certain standards that have to be maintained in order to have a healthy society. You don’t have to like it. You just have to do it. Selfishness does not pair well with being a member of a community.

But even more offensive is the fact that this historical photograph has been appropriated to make an ignorant, hyper-conservative meme with its own agenda, when the man in the photograph was anything but a poster child for that ideology.

Let’s start with the one indisputable fact about this photograph. It was taken in 1936, during the launch of a German military training ship called the Horst Wessel. All the witnesses to the launch are giving the Nazi salute except for this one man, who defiantly keeps his arms crossed. That must have taken a great deal of courage.

Historians now think that this is a photograph of either Gustav Wegert or August Landmesser. More and more people are starting to believe it was Wegert, as there’s more evidence that he was working at the time at the shipyard. Alas, if it is Wegert, it isn’t as compelling a story. Wegert never experienced Nazi persecution. He wasn’t imprisoned. He survived the war. He was simply against the Nazi salute because he was a devout Christian. This is admirable, but not particularly exciting.

If this is a photograph of Landmesser, on the other hand, it makes for a fascinating tale. Landmesser did join the Nazi party in the hope of gaining employment, but he was later kicked out of it when it came to light that he was engaged to a Jewish woman, Irma Eckler. They were married, but the union wasn’t recognized under the Nuremburg Laws. They had two daughters. He was thrown in jail for “dishonoring the race.”

He was released from jail in May, 1938 for lack of evidence, as they argued that nobody was sure that his wife was fully Jewish. But two months later he was imprisoned again, and sent to a concentration camp. His wife was also sent to prison, and in fact gave birth to their second daughter there. She was then sent from one concentration camp to another until she finally died in 1942.

Landmesser was released from his concentration camp in 1941, but in 1944 he was drafted into a penal battalion and forced to fight. He finally died in battle in Croatia eight months later. He was 34 years old. His daughters grew up in an orphanage, and later in foster care. His oldest daughter published a book about the family’s persecution for “racial disgrace”.

Whether the defiant man in the photograph is Wegert or Landmesser is irrelevant to the message, as far as I am concerned. It is evidence that somebody was willing to stand up for their principles at a time when a lot of people were being brainwashed and following blindly or acquiescing due to fear. This photograph gives me hope. But when I look away from him and at all the others, it makes me despair. That’s why the photo is so powerful to me. It shows me that I can hold both feelings at once.

The very idea that this picture has been twisted around to make doing the wrong thing, the selfish thing, the life threatening thing seem heroic is disgusting and outrageous, and insults the memory of the man, whoever he may have been, who was brave enough to be on the right side of history.

If you created this meme, shame on you. I added the x to the meme so it couldn’t be copied and used. Not from this blog, anyway. Not today.

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Once Upon a Time, Not Long Ago…

I’m so sorry. We have no excuse.

I know you’re still young, and can’t remember a world that wasn’t like the one that we have today. That’s entirely the fault of human beings, and I’m really sorry for what you’re missing out on. I hope someday you grow up to make the kind of differences that we adults have failed to make for you.

Once upon a time, we could breathe the air without a filter.

Once upon a time, the sun was so bright that you couldn’t look directly at it.

Once upon a time, you got to see the full face of everyone you encountered, and that made it a lot easier to know how they were feeling.

Once upon a time, there were things called concerts.

Once upon a time, you could see the stars.

Once upon a time, kids your age enjoyed riding bikes and playing little league.

Once upon a time, you could travel to other countries.

Once upon a time, people could hug one another.

Once upon a time, people actually went outside on purpose, for pleasure. (You’d have loved camping.)

Once upon a time, there was a thing called democracy.

Once upon a time, the rivers weren’t choked with algae.

Once upon a time, we didn’t fight over water.

Once upon a time, people got together in large groups for school and just for fun.

Once upon a time, the world was a lot more populated, and maybe that’s where everything started going wrong.

I’m so sorry. We have no excuse for what we’ve done. I wish you had had the chance to know the world the way I remember it. You deserve so much better.

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On Being an Adult

Not all grownups are adults. It’s such a disappointment.

When I was little, I longed to be an adult, because I figured that would mean I could do whatever I want. Boy oh boy, but I had no idea what I was talking about. Not a clue.

It’s true that grownups can do whatever they want. They can commit crimes. They can be selfish. They can be greedy and thoughtless and cruel. They can abuse the planet. They don’t have to pay taxes even though they take advantage of the infrastructure that’s provided by taxes. They can make idiotic decisions. They can disrespect their elders. They don’t have to think ahead or consider consequences or feelings or take any responsibility whatsoever.

Grownups can get away with that stuff. And since 2016 I’ve been seeing more and more grownups doing just that. It really makes me weep for the future of this planet.

But what I’m beginning to realize is that even though all adults are grownups, not all grownups are adults. It takes integrity and conviction to be an adult. It takes maturity. It requires that you realize that the world does not revolve around you. It is all about understanding that your actions effect other people.

One simple, straightforward example is the wearing of masks during a pandemic. Doing so may not be fun, but it says that you care about the people around you, whether you know them or not. And yet I’ve heard so many “grownup” excuses.

For some reason people think getting tested is some get out of jail free card. Testing negative only means you haven’t been positive for COVID-19 up to that moment in time. You can test negative and contract the virus 5 seconds later. You still need to wear a mask unless you’re selfish. And unless 100% of the people you are spending time with are getting tested every 5 seconds, the risk remains. “Some of us get tested” is just not good enough.

Another convenient excuse is, “Well, I tested negative after my risky behavior, so what’s the big deal?” To that I say congratulations and thank God. But do you want a cookie for that? Because you gambled with your life, and the lives of everyone you come in contact with. This time you won. But that doesn’t mean you always will.

People also think that if their job puts them in a high risk situation, then there’s no reason not to engage in high risk experiences while off the clock as well. That’s like saying, “I’m exposed to radiation all day at work, so I may as well get irradiated when I’m home, too.” In contrast, an adult is even more cautious at home, to reduce their odds of shortening their lifespan as much as humanly possible.

We are all under an enormous amount of stress right now, so some people believe that a little self-care by socializing with friends every once in a while is worth the risk, because it improves their mental health. Poppycock. One person dies of suicide every 12 minutes in America. That’s horrific. But one person dies of COVID-19 in America every eighty seconds. So you’re 9 times as likely to die of COVID than you are of suicide. I’d rather be alive and mentally disturbed than sane and run the risk of killing off another human being.

And what’s wrong with socializing with a mask on and 6 feet apart? Why do people have to be all up in each other’s faces, taking selfies cheek to cheek? I know it feels like you’ll live forever, but no. Death comes for us all. No need to flirt with it.

Yes, self-care is vital. But your right to self-care stops right at the line where your actions can potentially harm others, especially the more vulnerable amongst us. Adults know that. They understand that the golden rule isn’t a suggestion. They have a moral compass.

Adults also realize that other people love them and worry about them and they make decisions accordingly. Adults realize they have responsibilities and obligations. And adults know that they have to set an example for others who look up to them.

I don’t know how so many of us were never taught the importance of being an adult, and the importance of taking care of others. It’s a serious failure of society at large. I think, perhaps, that was why societies were invented, though. Societies are meant to protect us from the grownups who refuse to be adults.

We all live within a societal contract. There are rules we are meant to follow in order to experience society’s perks. It’s not supposed to be a tug of war. The contract isn’t supposed to be null and void every time you get a wild hair to cut loose. It’s supposed to be common sense.

In my county, we’re not supposed to gather in groups of more than 5. We’re supposed to wear our masks. We’re supposed to remain 6 feet apart. It’s not fun and it’s not fair and some people view this as judgmental or political or controlling rather than a matter of life and death. Those people are not adults.

Humanity is becoming more of a disappointment with each passing day. And we’re all going to pay the price. It’s all so senseless. I’m becoming so scared that I’m practically blind.

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Man Plans and God Laughs

Are any of us doing what we thought we’d be doing this year?

Are any of us doing what we thought we’d be doing this year? I’m thinking probably not. It’s like a nuclear bomb was dropped on 2020 and we’re dealing with the fallout.

I thought about that as I took this picture. My husband and I have accumulated a variety of mask designs, from the pretty to the comfortable to the fun to the professional. Before this year I never owned a reusable mask in my life, and I would have never guessed that these would become essentials that I’d need to function in society. The first mask I got in March (Or February? Time seems to have blended together this year.) was hard to come by, a horrible price gouge, and broke upon first use.

Now you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a mask manufacturer. But be careful: some masks are more effective than others. A good way to test your mask’s effectiveness is the candle test. If you can blow out a candle while wearing your mask, it’s not effective. Learn more about that here.

Washing my mask has become a daily ritual. There’s always at least one mask hanging on my back porch. It has become the image that sums up this entire year for me. If you had asked me what I expected to be the iconic 2020 picture for me back in January, I would have probably said a selfie from our much anticipated (and ultimately cancelled) trip to Italy in May.

Man plans and God laughs.

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