N-N-1 Autumn 2020

For several years now, I’ve participated in a delightful photography/creative writing experiment that was created by two of my favorite bloggers, Anju, who writes This Labyrinth I Roam, and Norm, who writes Classical Gasbag. They thought it would be interesting to see what people all over the world were doing/seeing/experiencing at the same point in time. As Norm explains it, in N-N-1 the first N stands for the number of participants, the second for the number of photos (they should be the same), and the 1 stands for one time.

Norm hosted this edition, and the subject was Autumn 2020. We all know that this has been a crazy year, and as we transition into a different season, all the participants had the opportunity to reflect on the insanity. The results are bittersweet, but in the end, there’s always hope, and that was reflected in many of the write ups. That’s what I cling to.

Please check out the really beautiful photos and the thoughtful, accompanying writing at Norm’s blog. (My photo appears below, but you’ll have to visit Norm’s blog for the write up.)

Now is the perfect time to stay at home and read a good book. Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Once Upon a Time, Not Long Ago…

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.

Read any good books lately? Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

In Honor of the 200,000

By the time you read this, we’ll have blasted past 200,000 COVID-19 deaths in America, with no end in sight. That’s an inconceivable figure. Its so large that most of us can’t accept it.

That’s 200,000 grandparents, parents, siblings, children, friends, loved ones. Every single one lived and laughed and worked and loved and mattered. If each of those people only had 5 people on earth who loved them (a very conservative figure, in my estimation), then there are 1 million grieving people out there, right now, and it has only been 6 months.

We were all devastated by the victims of 9/11. Now imagine that 9/11 happened more than 67 times over, or basically every other day since this pandemic started. That’s what would have to happen to get to 200,000 deaths in that tragedy.

This is a grizzly thought, but given the average height in America is 5’6”, if you lined up the 200,000 dead head to toe along some rural highway, they would stretch for 208.33 miles. Driving at 52 mph, it would take you more than 4 hours to pass all those bodies. Seriously, that’s a lot of soul-crushing loss.

And lest we forget, dying of COVID-19 is a horrible way to go. Each one of those people suffered. Each one struggled to breathe. Each one felt as if he or she were drowning in their own bodies. And they weren’t even able to have a loved one there for comfort. They died all alone.

And the vast majority of these people died needlessly. Other countries have demonstrated that the death toll doesn’t need to be this high. Our COVID-19 death toll is 597 deaths per million Americans. That may not seem like much until you compare it to other countries. New Zealand has had 5 COVID-19 deaths per million. Japan has had less than 12 deaths per million. Venezuela has had 17 deaths per million. Greece has had 29 deaths per million. Australia, 32 deaths per million. Egypt, 57 deaths per million. What’s it going to take before we realize that something is seriously wrong with the way we’re handling this virus?

We need a leader who leads by example. One who doesn’t disparage those who wear a mask. One who does not encourage his base to congregate, maskless and shoulder to shoulder, to worship him. We need adequate testing. We need accurate reporting. We need financial support. We need supplies for frontline workers as well as the general population. We need a president who actually listens to his own staff, multiple members of whom have come forward to say that they’ve begged him to wear a mask, to set an example, to only share accurate information rather than insane speculation, and not politicize this virus.

In honor of the 200,000 people who can no longer do so, please be sure to vote in the upcoming election. Their silence was forced upon them. We have to speak for them. Please vote.

Now is the perfect time to stay at home and read a good book. Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Mid-Month Marvels: Face Masks That Give Back

A recurring theme in this blog is the celebration of people and/or organizations that have a positive impact on their communities. What they do is not easy, but it’s inspirational, and we don’t hear enough about them. So I’ve decided to commit to singing their praises at least once a month. I’ll be calling it Mid-Month Marvels. If you have any suggestions for the focus of this monthly spotlight, let me know in the comments below!

This month I’m not going to focus on a specific organization. Rather, I’ll focus on an idea whose time has come. There’s a way to give a silver lining to these pesky face masks we all have to wear.

When this pandemic first hit and everyone was in a pure panic, I bought my first two facemasks for $75. They came from China. They took 4 weeks to arrive. They were so small they would barely fit on a child, and they broke upon first use. Live and learn.

Now you can get masks all over the place, and they come in all shapes and sizes and colors and designs. Masks can make fashion statements or political statements or just be simple, safe, and effective with no fanfare. The choices are endless.

Even those of us who realize how important masks are, who care about others enough to wear them, and have the sense of civic duty to take the issue seriously and not turn it into a silly political statement are (news flash!) not thrilled to have to wear a mask. But we wear them because it’s the right and decent and intelligent thing to do.

Having said that, I still wish the experience were more fun. So I started casting about to see what I could do to make that happen. I came across this article entitled, “18 face masks that support a good cause”.

Oh, yeah. Count me in! It would be nice to not only have the satisfaction of doing the right thing, but also feel as if I’m giving back to non-profits at the same time. And after reading the article, I also discovered that a lot of these masks look great, too. So win/win.

You can order masks in a pretty floral design, or masks designed by independent artists, or masks with a sports logo, kitten or dog images, or rainbows. There are more than 1000 designs to choose from in this article alone. And the organizations they support range from places that provide PPE to frontline workers, to food organizations, to homeless shelters, to boys and girls clubs, to the ACLU and Black Lives Matter.

So now while you wear your face mask to protect the lives of everyone around you, you can make an impact in other ways as well. I love this concept!

200722091200-maskspuravida-super-169

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Man Plans and God Laughs

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.

00100lrPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20200901181339625_COVER

Do you enjoy my random musings? Then you’ll love my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

 

Are We A Cancer?

Driving home from work at 11 pm the other night, I was listening to Alternative Radio during my lonely 45 minute commute, and I heard a speaker whose theory is now stuck in my head. The only remedy for that is to stick it in yours. Sorry.

The episode was entitled The Human Cancer in the Covid-19 Era. It’s been several nights since I heard it, and since I was driving, I couldn’t take notes, so my apologies to Dr. Stephen Bezruchka if I get anything wrong. Having said that, the gist of the talk was that cancer, in essence, is unrestrained growth that damages the tissue it comes into contact with. And that pretty much sums up humanity.

Think about it. Our cities and villages used to be perfectly encapsulated inside walls, but now we’ve burst forth and taken over the countryside. We build right over the top of fertile land. We pollute our waterways and the very air we breathe. We send out tendrils in the form of highways so that we can continue to survive. We are responsible for the total annihilation of other species. We’re destroying our host, the planet.

We are also responsible for this pandemic, and the pandemics that will surely follow this one. By destroying animal habitat, we are forcing animals to live closer to us. We live cheek by jowl with the bats and the birds and the swine. And the closer we get to them, the more we will pass diseases back and forth. We’re doing this to ourselves.

Now, everywhere I look, I’m seeing cancer. It’s really depressing. It’s such a helpless feeling.

There is some good news, though. As sentient beings, we can cure ourselves if we want to. We can find gentler ways to live upon this earth. We can choose not to reproduce at this horrifying rate. We can protect undeveloped land. We can eat less meat. We can focus on green energy. There are so many things we can do.

I genuinely believe that change is coming. We really don’t have a choice if we want to survive. The scary part is that I have no idea what the world is going to look like after this pandemic. I only know that we are long past the point where we can take anything for granted.

LungCancerCellCrop

Now is the perfect time to stay at home and read a good book. Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

The Silver Lining of This Pandemic

I heard a scary statistic regarding this pandemic recently. One American is dying from it every 80 seconds. That’s no joke. And my heart breaks for every loved one who has had to experience that type of grief. If we had managed this crisis a little better, if our leaders took science seriously and we all wore our masks as we should, there would be a lot less to mourn in this country right now. What’s happening is nothing short of criminal negligence.

Having said all that, I have thought of a few silver linings to this scary, scary clown… er… cloud. I have done so not because I’m trying to diminish the seriousness of all this death and economic destruction, but simply because if I don’t find something to appreciate in all of this, I may just lose my mind.

So here’s my short list of COVID positives:

  • My commute has been a lot less congested. At least at it was at first. And I love what that has done for the planet.

  • If I do have the urge to eat at my favorite restaurant, odds are that I won’t have to make reservations. In fact, I’ll most likely have the place to myself. And I kind of feel that it’s my duty to patronize these businesses in these trying times.

  • I haven’t really seen as much political advertising, and definitely haven’t been subjected to the number of rallies that would be normal while building up to this presidential election. And I don’t miss them. Not even a little bit.

  • I’m no longer being made to feel guilty for my introversion. People expect me to keep myself to myself right now. It’s a shame that I need an excuse to do so, but since I’ve got one, I’m definitely taking advantage of it.

  • It’s easier to weed out the fools around me than it once was. They’re the ones refusing to wear a mask, or the ones who wear their masks with their noses sticking out. I don’t even have to speak to them to know. Less energy expelled by me that way.

  • And for those of us who do wear a mask, we have a whole new way to express our individuality.

  • Oddly enough, I’m getting to attend church a lot more. I work on Sunday, so physically attending church has been a rare treat for me. But now my church does services on zoom, so I can attend from work. I hope they continue to have a zoom aspect to their services when this pandemic finally runs its course, because it’s a real benefit to shut ins, and to people like me who just can’t be there.

  • Despite the politicizing of masks, I genuinely believe this pandemic unites us more than it divides us. Because the only way we’re going to get through this is together, and through our mutual losses and all the related stressors, I think we’re beginning to realize that we have more in common than we thought.

All these things count for something, I suppose. At this point, I’ll take what I can get. Stay safe, everyone.

Masks

Now is the perfect time to stay at home and read a good book. Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

“I’ll Hold My Breath ‘Til I Turn BLUE!”

That is a threat that many a bratty child has made when things aren’t going the way they want. A savvy parent will let them do it. If the child actually has follow-through, at least the moments of unconsciousness will give the parent a bit of peace.

If only this type of self-destructive behavior were limited to children. It’s so incredibly counterproductive that one would think this instinct would be outgrown. But it’s becoming increasingly evident that that is not the case. There are a lot of stupid people in the world.

I am still completely stunned that mask-wearing in the time of a pandemic has become so politicized. There are those who feel that wearing a mask impinges on their freedoms. Which freedoms are those? The freedom to put your loved ones at risk right along with the rest of your community? Personally, that’s the last freedom on earth that I want. But then, I was taught to care about other people.

There are those who believe that COVID-19 is either a hoax or that it’s really not that big of a deal. I’m assuming that’s simply because they have yet to experience the death of someone close to them. But it will happen. It will happen to all of us sooner or later. As of this writing, 620,000 people in the world have died in this pandemic, and 5,000 people a day are afflicted with the virus. That we know of. Sooner or later, it’s going to be impossible to ignore.

It defies logic not to wear a mask. Even if you only think this virus is a remote possibility, don’t you care about others enough to want to protect them from even the most remote of possibilities of death? Don’t you want this pandemic to get under control so that others won’t have to wear a mask, too? How can you be so selfish?

If your behavior only affected you, I’d say, “Yeah, go ahead. Don’t wear a mask. Hold your breath until you turn blue.”

But the problem is that you’re making everyone around you turn blue, too. That’s not only childish, it’s psychopathic. Shame on you.

holding_breath

Check this out, y’all. I wrote a book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

 

Personal Responsibility

I am really proud to live in the State of Washington. I’m impressed at how we’re responding to the pandemic. I listen to Governor Inslee’s press conferences every chance I get, and he’s doing a terrific job keeping us up to date. We are not rushing to open things back up. We’re prioritizing lives over profit. I know that that is causing people to suffer, but in the end, staying alive is more important. This is a time when we all need to make sacrifices, even to the point that it hurts, in order to protect our fellow citizens.

I understand why some states are opening back up too soon. To do otherwise is probably political suicide. People are sick to death of being locked down. People are desperate to get back to work. Those things are tangible. The air is thick with impatience and frustration. Whereas this virus is invisible. You don’t actually see it until someone you love dies.

So I admire Governor Inslee for taking the moral high ground. He’s putting the people first. That’s not something you see many politicians doing these days.

The irritating thing about his press conferences on Facebook is the comments that stream past as he speaks. “You can’t make me wear a mask.” “Who are you to decide whether I open my massage parlor back up?” “Contact tracing is unconstitutional!”

In kindergarten, along with the concept of sharing your toys, it seems that we need to teach children about personal responsibility. While it comes naturally to many of us, it appears to be something that needs to be taught to others. In short: The world does not revolve around you.

You’re absolutely right. No one can make you wear a mask. And no one should have to tell you when to open your business. And while I’m pretty sure you may have to reread the constitution, I’ll admit that contact tracing is a bit of an invasion of privacy.

But you are part of a civilized society. And if you are going to take advantage of the benefits thereof, there are certain sacrifices that you need to make. That’s the contract you’ve entered into. You don’t have to like it.

Just as you shouldn’t shout fire in a crowded theater just because you think it would be funny, and you shouldn’t kneel on someone’s neck for nearly nine minutes simply because you have superior firepower, you also should not do anything else that increases the risk that people around you might die.

You’d think that would go without saying, but apparently not. Every single day that I’m at work, I sit in my bridge tower and watch the pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists go by. Fewer and fewer of them are wearing masks. More and more of them are out and about. There seems to be a general feeling of, “It can’t happen to me, and I don’t particularly care if it happens to you.”

What these people seem to overlook is that their actions don’t only affect them. If they engage in risky behavior, they also risk bringing the virus home to their loved ones, or to their coworkers, or to the innocent schmuck who happens to pass too close to them on the sidewalk, or to the health care workers who have to risk their lives to care for us. Those are the people I worry about.

If you want to act stupid, that’s your prerogative. But you’re also making bad choices for everyone you come into contact with, and that’s unconscionable.

How American it is to think that just because we’re tired of this virus, we can ignore it and move on. Boo hoo. It’s not fun. It’s a hassle. We want to think about something else. But this virus only has legs if we give it legs. In cases like this, moving on isn’t an option.

Every day, at the beginning of my shift, I sanitize everything in my work space that I think could have been touched by coworkers. I do this for me, and for my husband, and for anyone else I might encounter. And at the end of the shift, I sanitize again. I don’t do this for me. I do this for my coworker who is about to occupy this same space. I think about his son and his wife as I clean. I think about the fact that a 10 year old boy needs both his parents to be healthy to take care of him.

No one can make me do the right thing. No one can make me do anything, technically. I do these things because I know I’m personally responsible for holding up my end of the contract of civilization. I do it because I’m an adult. I do it because I care about my fellow human beings.

personal-responsibility

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Be Careful What You Wish For

I understand why some people are longing for some rose-colored memory of what the past used to be like. A time when no one had to lock their doors and all the birthday cakes were made from scratch. A time when we were all content in our respective places, supposedly.

The present, for many of us, sucks. I can see why people would like to think that all of society’s ills could be cured by going back in some time machine to a period of former glory.

Nothing ever seems as awful in retrospect, after we’ve survived it. No one can truly remember the pain of childbirth, for example. If they could, we’d be a planet full of only children.

So many people wanted to Make America Great Again that they didn’t stop to think about the consequences. Now the past has rushed up to smack us in the face. We’re experiencing a pandemic not unlike the Spanish Flu of 1918 with no end in sight due to an utter lack of leadership, and 108,000 Americans dead at the time of this writing. We’re seeing unemployment like the Great Depression of the 1930’s, and are embroiled in riots like those of the 1970’s.

All those things were bad enough on their own. We get to go through them all rolled into one. Yay us.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired.

good old days

Check out my refreshingly positive book for these depressingly negative times. http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5