Who is the Silent Majority?

Sunday my mom and I blew off church. It was just starting to feel like part of the same terrible weekly routine and we wanted to do something different. I asked her if maybe she wanted to go to the state park in Orient (the end of the island) instead and do some walking around outside. She agreed. It was lovely and breezy and fall-like. There were families walking and families fishing. It was very pleasant. Afterwards I hung out at her house for a bit. In the yard. On the way home I passed a couple of really large Biden/Harris signs in her town. It was so heartening to me. I live in a district represented by a Republican Congressman. He spoke during the RNC. There are Trump flags (plural) on my running route. My son went to someone’s house and this boy had a confederate flag on his wall. It’s like that here. 

So I was feeling good. I was feeling good that maybe we could oust our red guy for the scientist and democrat candidate running against him. And then I turned down from the North Road to the Main Road and on the corner and across the street were bunches of people. Bunches of people with Trump flags. And American flags. Sitting. With pickup trucks. It was kind of odd. And surprising. I thought it was just them. Just those people. But after stopping and chatting with my friend (who lives on the Main Road) she told me that there was a parade. A caravan. Of Trump supporters. Driving from up island to the town just before my mom’s. As we sat in her yard, there were giant pick up trucks with flags flapping in the wind. There was the tooting of horns in support of the side-of-the-road folks. It was a lot. So I went home.

On the way I passed about a dozen people out in front of the Marketplace. They had Dump Trump signs. And one Biden/Harris sign. And an American flag. I tooted at them. I shaka-ed at them. And then I went home. But I really wanted to join them. I came home and told my son. He was very much against it. He reminded me of what happened to protestors in Charlottesville. I told him that I felt afraid but that I had as much of a right to be out there as anyone else. And I felt like I had to do something. So I went. 

The guy I ended up standing next to told me he had just come out to the market to pick up some groceries. The first guy that cursed at us after I got there stuck his head out of his sunroof while he was driving to call us “retards.” His lovely wife, stuck her head out next to call us “fuckfaces.” The group that I was with was very passive. No one was responding in kind when attacked in this way (apparently other groups further East had been a bit more aggressive in their responses). The “parade” was still headed East but some of the participants were headed back West as well. At times the traffic stopped right in front of us. One woman in particular just kept yelling “Trump, Trump, Trump” out of her window. Many, many people gave us the middle finger. Many people yelled “fuck Biden.” One man, while stopped at the light, was ranting about how all the criminals were going to be set free and how would we like that. At one point, three elderly folks walked over to join us. They lasted about ten seconds before understanding what participating was going to feel like and immediately left. My friend, from the Main Road joined me for a while though. A family with an approximately twelve year old girl stopped as well. I would like to say that people were more civil once we had a child in our midst but I can’t.

A car full of Trump supporters pulled into the Marketplace parking lot. A man, a woman and two near teens jumped out. They had a Trump flag and ran out of the car with it. They ran over to us and held the flag in between us and the road. The teen girl stumbled towards traffic a bit and I couldn’t help but wonder what this was teaching them. It all felt like madness.

And what it also felt like to me was fear. Power. Dominance. What it felt like was Trump supporters who seemed to be emboldened to do anything. To say anything. And that it was okay. And this was one of the reasons that I really wanted to be out there because as absolutely ugly as it was, I wanted the other people. The ones without the flags. The ones not participating in the cult of personality, to know that we are not all like that. That there is hope. The people in those cars. Many were brown. Many were young. Many had children in the car. Many were female. Many of them did not honk. Many just waved or gave us a thumbs up. Because showing support there in that moment, in any way, seemed really scary. Seemed like then you would be a target as well. And who wants that?

I was able to do it for about forty five minutes and then I had had enough. I came home and literally just sat in the sun for a while. I could still hear all of the honking. Part of me could argue in my head that the majority of the trucks, the flatbed with the sound system, the motorcycles and sirens, were from up island. From a place that was not where I live. But the crowds on the sides of the road were from here. Sitting in the back of pick up trucks. Or on folding chairs on the side of the road. With their American flags. And MAGA hats. 

Today when I dropped my son off at school. The nice man in the mask who took my son’s temperature gave me a wave. Was he there yesterday? Cheering on the anger? Did the old guy I saw on my run today give me the finger yesterday? What about the people who work in the post office? Or my local Starbucks? I knew. I knew what it was like out here. I can’t say that I didn’t know but it almost feels like my world has experienced an earthquake. An earthquake and everything that I thought I knew is potentially wrong. My world feels askew. I thought that people could disagree but still be kind and decent. But I don’t know. It’s like a license to terrorize. To berate and belittle people who don’t agree with you. And I am certain that that attitude is not one that solely exists here. If it did not feel like the end of the world before, it most certainly does now.

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My Butt is Not Broken

I have a new health plan. I had to pick it myself. Off of the NY health exchange. It was a scary process. I tried to make sure that our PCPs were in network. That we could go to the hospital if we had to. I thought that I had chosen okay. But then when I needed care from specialists or a dentist, I ran into issues. Trying to find a provider that was not far away. That I would not have to wait months for. I happened to take a look at my card the other day that lists the co-pays. $20 for my PCP. $40 for a specialist. $175 for a visit to the ER. 

Yesterday, I was leaving to go pick my son up from work from the farmstand. I was wearing my slippers (flip flops for you mainlanders). About halfway down the stairs, I just slipped. Just slipped. Even though the stairs have metal grippy things on them to prevent slippage. My feet went right out from under me and I landed on one of the steps firmly on my tailbone. I managed to sort of sprawl out and hold on. I managed to not slam my head against another step. I managed to not break my leg. But it hurt really badly. And it sounded like I heard something crack when I landed. I gave myself a quick assessment then ran upstairs to grab my donut cushion to sit on. I ran up to pick up my son, who of course was calling me because I was not there when he thought that I should be there.I told him I had fallen down the stairs which made him more sympathetic. 

I drove home and got myself up the stairs. I called a friend to see if I should go to the ER. I googled a broken tailbone to see if there was anything that could be done. There is not. I just felt like I really needed to know if it was broken or just bruised. I needed to know so I could plan my road to get back to running. I thought that broken versus bruised would entail a much longer recovery. I sat at home contemplating the ER for like an hour. Contemplating the $175 copay. Should I go? Should I not go. My friend said that she would not go. Her husband said that maybe I should go.

I ended up going anyway. I was triaged. I was x-rayed. The doctor told me that the coccyx bone was vestigial from when we used to have tails. I knew that. And it was not broken. I was told to take painkillers and only run if it did not hurt. That made sense.

While I was at the ER, the lady in the room next to me had been in the day before. She had a tooth infection and no insurance. While I was in the waiting room a doctor chatted with the intake nurse about his relationship. The guy’s name who took my x-rayn was Rock. Everytime I talked to someone else, they asked me how I had hurt myself. I wondered why. Did they have to ensure that I had not hit my head? That I was not on drugs? That the story that I told was consistent? I don’t know. I almost asked but I didn’t.

It was the longest amount of time that I had been inside anywhere. And even though a hospital is a scary place to be, it was nice to talk to other people. To people who were not the same ten people that I have seen since March (no offense to those ten people). 

 It has been a week since this happened and I am still pretty sore. I have trotted about very slowly and it does not hurt more. I have a hard time lying on my back. This is only an issue for the cat who expects to lie on my chest in the evening for nighttime loving. I try to do it for a bit for her but I eventually have to dump her off.

I”m glad that my butt is not broken. Maybe it was a warning. From the universe. A kick in the butt as it were. Or maybe it was to remind me that there is nothing normal And wishing won’t make that happen. That pain. As if I needed a reminder.

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Bone Density

 

A few years ago, I ended up getting an unexpected root canal. My gum was sore. I was having all of these weird nervey face issues. And then I went to the dentist and he was like, you need a root canal and we are going to do it right now. Since then, I do not like going to the dentist. My root canal tooth is, for all intents and purposes, a black fang hiding under a crown. I often say that if I had to get another root canal I would have them just pull the tooth.

A week ago I started to have weird feelings that felt like the bad root canal days. I have heard of teeth having to be re-root canaled. I was sure that I was going to be that person. The person who needed a second root canal during a pandemic. I needed to have the tooth looked at. 

I have individual insurance. It literally costs a fortune. This individual insurance includes dental coverage. When I chose it myself, a scary prospect, I made sure that our primary care physicians were in network. I did not really look at the dental coverage. Perhaps I should have.

I called around locally to see who takes our plan. I was striking out. Completely. Finally I went to my insurer’s website and checked the provider directory. I found a dentist a few towns up. I called and explained that I thought I was an emergency. I was able to wrangle an appointment for today. I tried not to get all worked up about going. 

The office is in a strip mall in between a Chinese buffet and a nail place. It had a very 1970s  decor vibe. The waiting room was full. An African American family with a dad and three kids. A Hispanic couple. The ladies behind the front desk were speaking Spanish to the patients coming out and those on the phone. The only other white people in the office were what seemed to be a couple of office managers and a technician. And the reason that they really stood out was that they were not wearing masks, Not even pretending. Not on their chin. Or hanging off an ear. Not one anywhere. And I could not help but think how disrespectful this was to the patients. To everyone else in that office wearing masks. And I really wanted to report them. To someone. But then I felt like this was my privileged self talking. Knowing how hard it was for me to find a dentist that took my insurance, I felt like I couldn’t take this provider away from these patients. I felt like a reverse Karen. 

When I come across this type of behavior (see blog post on my conspiracy theory stylist), I want to just walk away. But I stayed. I really wanted that x-ray. While I waited to be called into the back, I did so outside of the office entirely. I just couldn’t sit in there with the unmasked people. Unmasked white women. When I was taken in the back, I was put in the station closest to the front. That was good for me. There were no plexiglass shields between where I was sitting and the patient in the next cubby over. That was not good for me. The woman who seated me told me that I could take my mask off. That seemed like a bad idea. So I didn’t. The technician was a young African American guy. I explained my situation to him and he took one x-ray of my root canal tooth. It showed nothing. He ended up taking two more x-rays of the area. The dentist came in. He was Indian and spoke with an accent. He looked at my tooth. Looked at the pictures of it. Ultimately the diagnosis was that I am suffering from bone loss in that area. I will need to go to an oral surgeon. He told me that he liked my last name. He said that it was how he always thought about things that went together. That they just clicked. He took the time to show me my x-rays. He showed me where I am losing the bone. And the root canal tooth that looked like some alien plant life was living inside of it. He told me that I should stop using whitening toothpaste. And he referred me to an oral surgeon. 

So my experience on the inside was so much better than what my initial reaction was. To the outside. I wanted to say something. To the ladies at the front desk. To the technician. But I did not. And I struggle with my responsibility when it comes to this. Where does that lie? Should I report them? Or does that cause more harm? 

I have no answers. And I feel like I should quarantine myself for 14 days.

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Getting Through

I hate the pandemic. I hate that it has taken away so much. So much of the obvious things, like hugging and eating out. But so many other things. At least for me personally.

I have found it difficult to read a book. I keep having library books that were on hold, come up for me to borrow. I start to read them. I try. I really do. But before I am halfway through I have drifted off. I lose interest. I just drop it.

The same holds true for watching things. Nothing seems to hold my attention. I like to watch old Grey’s Anatomy. So, so, so many episodes and seasons. It is like slipping on comfy slippers and flannel pajamas. I am up to the storyline where Izzie gets sick. Maybe it is season five. Post-Denny but George is still around. I can have it on and sort of pay attention or not. Watch it or not. I know what happens. And I still love it. 

The only other thing I have been watching is Korean dramas. But not the serious ones. I like the ones with the most ridiculous plot lines. Crash Landing on You (somehow the main character ends up in North Korea after a tornado paragliding accident) and Kingdom (a historical drama but with zombies!) I think that I like these shows because I have to pay attention. I have to read the subtitles. And they are so ridiculous. In a good way. 

The other thing that I really like is my “garden”. It is a “garden” because it consists of a bunch of plants in pots on my deck. I have three tomato plants; one is cherry, not doing great but really producing a bunch of tomatoes; one has blossom root rot so the tomatoes it has produced are rotted at the bottom; and the last I was gifted via my CSA. She is doing the best. Still healthy and green but her two tomatoes that she came with are still green. I am holding out hope. My cucumbers produced three great ones and have sort of shit the bed. I struggle with under and over watering and I think they are suffering because of it. I was also gifted a pepper plant from my CSA. She also came with a cheater pepper on her. It is still hanging in but I took too long to repot her and she dropped all of her lovely flowers in the interim. My favorite is still the eggplant. Right now she has four beautiful eggplant. I worry that I am going to harm her development. I worry that the ants are not good for her. But she is hanging in. In hindsight, I would have chosen a variety that did not need to grow for so long. Even her biggest one has a ways to go. I remain ever hopeful.

We are also volunteering to harvest our church’s community garden. We go every Friday. It is the easiest part of the volunteering season. We do not need to plant or weed, we just go and pick. We take our haul to the priest who ministers to the Hispanic congregation. He used to do those services in our church but found space closer to where his congregants are. He has a pantry in his garage. Refrigerators and a freezer. Shelves for dry goods. Along with our harvest we have been taking him jars of spaghetti sauce. Pasta is a simple dish that the pre-teens of the farm workers can make their younger siblings while their parents are still working. I still find it hard to wrap my head around that.

The time in the community garden is precious to me. I love knowing what is growing locally. What is in season. It is what the community garden is teaching me. When we first went, there were a lot of lettuces and kale (the kale never seems to end). On a kale side note, I make my son harvest it. Three kinds. He has no patience for it. I make him do it. Every. Week. 

I have learned to identify what an artichoke looks like when it is growing. I know what collard greens look like. And how snap peas grow. I know that the scratchy zucchini plants irritate my skin. And that we need more time for cucumbers and tomatoes. I learned that hot peppers grow vertically from the top of the plant. And that swiss chard always looks beautiful.

Last week someone must have come and taken all the zucchini because there were none. Our haul was meager, kale, some peppers, basil, collard greens and chard. My tomatoes at home have just started coming in so I know that those will be ready soon. I am looking forward to a mad tomato harvest. 

These are the things that I can still do. The things that do not require more focus than I am able to provide. I dote over my plants. Maybe too much. But I love them. Their greenery. The smell of the tomato plans. The velvet softness of the eggplant leaves.

These are the things that I can still do. Not so many. I wish the list were longer. But I do not know when that will happen. For now, I will remain happily smelling tomato plants, feeling up eggplant leaves and watching bad Korean shows.

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Hair Off

 

Today was the day I had scheduled for my mom and I to go and get haircuts. I started going to this woman in a salon up island. After going to her for a few months, and chatting like you do while getting a haircut, I picked up on some things. Things that led me to believe that she was a conspiracy theorist. Things like, she did not carry her phone on her all the time because she did not want to be tracked. There were other things as well. So I was a little leery about going to have my hair cut by her. To have my mom’s hair cut by her. But we really needed haircuts. I scheduled them for the first of the day on a Tuesday morning. Today was that Tuesday. 

My mom came to my house. I insisted we both wear masks in my car with the windows open. Of course with the general anxiety about going, I ended up leaving my phone at home. So that made it even more anxiety inducing. I was worried that my son would not realize that it was there, try to contact me, and panic. So there was that too. Good times.

When we got there, we were supposed to call in but, well, no phone. So I stuck my head in. I was told that my stylist was not in yet. We waited outside and there was a hit and miss temperature taking regimen that seemed kind of worthless (no one took my temperature, ever). Finally we saw her, walking across the parking lot, maskless. She saw us outside and told me to come in with her. I did. She walked in, the only person inside without a mask. She chatted with one of the hair washer girls. Dropped stuff in the back. Then back to the front to finally grab a mask. I was getting ready to tell her that she could not do my hair without one.

She started putting the foils in my hair. And while we were chatting she told me that she only wears a mask when she is at work. I asked her what happens when she goes into places. She told me that she pulls it down once she gets inside (and then she demonstrated). She told me these things after there were foils in my hair. I contemplated not having her cut my mom’s hair. Because, she is not taking appropriate precautions. She does not believe.

I felt like there were too many people in the salon. The girl who does the hair washing let me borrow her phone to try to ensure that my son knew that I had left my phone behind. I told her that she could just hold it if she didn’t want me to touch her phone. She laughed and said that it was fine. I would not have let someone whose virus tolerance I did not know touch my stuff. But maybe that is just me.

After the foils came out of my hair, and my mom’s hair had been cut (I sent her back outside), I went up to the front of the salon. That felt better than being in the back. We continued chatting. My stylist told me that she took precautions like she did for the flu. She told me that asymptomatic people did not spread the disease. She actually said this to me twice. I let it go the first time but the second, I tried to differentiate between asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic people. She did not respond to that. Likely because she did not want to argue with me like I didn’t want to argue with her. 

I did not make a follow up appointment. The only solace that I had was that our incidence rate is low in NY. I may not be able to go back there if that rate goes up. I told my mom that we would see how I feel in like a month. Maybe we would go back. But maybe not. I worry that I put my mom at risk after all of the precautions that we have taken. After so much time. What if that time inside with a person who thinks that the virus is like the flu, harmed her? So selfish. So I don’t know if I can go back. Even though the hair off my head has made me much lighter. And feeling more like myself. But myself these days is low virus risk. So I may need to move on. To try someone else who is more virus averse. More virus believing. And not so selfish.

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A Tale of Two Doctors

I have a very low risk tolerance for the virus. I do not want to be in a small place with other people who may have a high risk tolerance. I do not want to be someplace where people are not wearing masks. I prefer to be outside. With a mask. At least six feet away from you. Because the only thing that has changed is that there is less infection and more hospital space. And that is because of masks and social distancing. And while I would love to go back to normal. I really don’t see that happening any time soon.  Until there is a vaccine. Or a cure. 

But this week I did things that I would not have done last month. I had a dermatology appointment that I did not go to. I like to have my skin checked annually. I have a lot of moles. And not the cute kind in your garden. So I called and made another appointment. They gave me one at three in the afternoon. In my heart, I knew that I should have asked for a different day in the morning. But I didn’t. I got there and there were no signs on the door telling me to wear a mask. The woman at the counter took my temperature but there were no signs in the office telling people to socially distance. There were already two people in the waiting room. I did not want to sit next to them. So I sat in the entranceway, technically outside of the office. I really should have just said that I would wait outside since it was a beautiful day but I didn’t. And I sat there for half an hour. A couple came in and the woman had her nose hanging out of her mask. I wanted to punch her. Remember. Low risk tolerance.

I could feel my anxiety rising the entire time. I almost just left. But I had paid the $40 co-pay! They finally called me back. The woman asked if I would sign a small pad. It was to give the doctor permission to do a biopsy if she thought I needed one. I just signed. My doctor may have retired as I was seen by a young woman. She was good about looking at all of my skin. I pointed out the moles that I suspect. And there was one. She said that she would just take it off so that I would not have to come back in three months for her to look at it. I am relatively certain that it looked the way that it has always looked. But I said okay. Because you are in your underwear and a paper gown. And she just cut it out and put it in something and said that it would be sent somewhere to be looked at. 

On the way home I cried. It was all of the anxiety. And it was that part of me, that had been with me my entire life, had been unceremoniously cut from my body and sent off. And it is not like I loved that mole or anything. I am probably better off without it. But it was a part of me. And now it is gone. 

For some reason, I had another appointment today, with my primary care physician.I almost cancelled. I did not think that I could be a giant ball of anxiety two days in a row. But my appointment was the first of the day so it already felt safer. When I got to the office and went up the stairs (I drove because I was afraid my temperature would go up if I ran there and they would not see me). There was a nurse in front of the door to the waiting room. She had on a mask and a shield. She took my temperature before I was even allowed inside. When I got inside, there were a lot of signs regarding social distancing. They had put a small bench seat in front of the front desk in order to maintain distance. 

I waited about five minutes and was taken back. The nurse also had on a mask and a shield. We talked about things. How we both think that you will catch the virus on a plane if anyone has it. Even if there are masks and social distancing. When my doctor came in she had on what looked like an N-95 mask, with a surgical mask over it and a shield over that. 

 I really like her. I recommended that she watch the K-drama, Crash Landing on You. She told me that she would be able to suspend reality because she watched Bollywood. I did not think to ask her for a recommendation but I should have. We mostly discussed my mental health. She thinks that I am depressed. I am certain that is true. She recommends talking to someone. Or she could write me a prescription. I am not ready for that. I could see that happening when it gets cold out again. I can’t imagine all of this pandemic and then freezing. She told me that if I go to get my mammogram, I can tell them to call me in when they are ready to see me and I can wait outside. She also looked at the excised mole site and cleaned it, regooped it and put a new bandaid on it. We scheduled an appointment for October. I will be getting a flu shot then.

I left the office and I did not cry. I had felt relatively safe the entire time I was there. And they had hand sanitizer to use on the way out. Granted, I did not lose any of my body during that appointment but I think that if the dermatologist’s had made me feel that comfortable, the entire mole procedure would have been less traumatic. 

I will eventually go for my mammogram but I need to take a break. Build up some risk tolerance. Because nothing has changed. There is a virus. And it could kill you. No matter your age. Or your health status. So I am going to try to keep healthy until there is an effective and safe vaccine. So wear a mask, or you won’t be seeing me.

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Crash Landing on You

There is much more crying these days. I talk about crying with friends, both male and female. It reminds me of when I was in training in Thailand in the Peace Corps. We would all have discussions around the current status of our digestive systems. It is like that. The crying. Now embarrassment free.

For me, I find that I cry much easier now than pre-pandemic. I also have a really hard time focusing. I have read almost no books. I can’t concentrate. But I like to watch shows that tug at my heartstrings. Shows that make me cry (who needs more crying). It really makes no sense. I was watching Call the Midwife for a bit, which I love. But I found myself not really paying attention. Drifting off. On my phone. Texting people. So I gave up.

Then a friend recommended a Korean drama to watch. I have history with Korean dramas. My household was into the historical ones. There were always very elaborate headdresses and castle intrigue. I never really got into it but it was on enough so that I became familiar with the Korean characters that occupied the story. The conniving wives. The hapless husbands. The really evil guy. And the truly supportive friend group. I knew friends in Hawaii who were really into some of the shows that were set in more modern times but I was never hooked. Until now.

Enter, Crash Landing on You. First of all, it may be the most ridiculous and unbelievable plotline. It involves characters that are somehow able to cross back and forth from North to South Korea with impunity. Life in North Korea is portrayed as one of lack (unpredictable blackouts) and spying (listening devices and wiretaps). The North Korean soldiers are sometimes authoritarian and sometimes understanding. I learned that the production of the show had engaged individuals with knowledge of life in North Korea so perhaps there is some truth to what this looks like. But I question all of it.

The story revolves around a South Korean businesswoman and North Korean soldier who meet (um, this involves paragliding and a tornado). And faultingly fall in love. And who, through a series of improbable flashbacks, somehow came in close contact in the past. It is a love story. An improbable and ridiculous love story. The woman’s sister in laws are conniving. The brothers, hapless. The evil North Korean army commander, very evil. The women in the North Korean village are so supportive. As are the main heartthrobs’ fellow army command.

In my heart, I should look at this entire show with disdain. But I don’t. It has become my obsessive show. It has become the show that makes me cry at every episode. It has become the show that forces me to pay attention. That I watch even though the episodes exceed my one hour per show watch limit. I watch in Korean with English subtitles. Sometimes I have to rewind because the main female character speaks so quickly. There is no looking away. No phone gazing. No texting. I could watch it in English but I love to hear the Korean language. The swoops and swirls of it. The inflection and the emotion. I have to listen. And then I have to read.

Every episode, since the big James Bond motorcycle save, I cry. And it is not just the star crossed lovers that make me cry. It is the relationship between Yoon Se-ri and her mother. It is Ri Jeong-hyeok’s mother’s realization that the woman sequestered in her house is the one for her son. It is Ri Jeong-hyeok’s piano playing on a dock in Switzerland that saved Yoon Se-ri. It is the dead brother and the rat and the watch. More ridiculous with every episode. But I love it. It is the show that completely suspends reality. And I am all in.

And perhaps that is because we are now living in a time that seems to be suspending reality. A pandemic. Use of military force in the streets. A president that sees no problem with any of this. So suspension of reality is where we are today. Maybe if what is happening today can happen. Then maybe Ri Jeong-hyeok and Yoon Se-ri will somehow be able to stay together. That the really bad guy will get what is coming to him. That is what we all want. In Korean dramas and in real life. So give Crash Landing on You a go. Give it your full attention. Believe. Believe because some days it feels like it is all we have left.

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Pandemic

 

We are depressed. We are trying. I have started to buy random things. Expensive things. Things that I do not need. It has not made me feel any better. The days are the same. It is Wednesday but it feels like it should be Friday. My son needs to do more things but I struggle with what that would be. I don’t have the motivation to fight much about it.

I look in the mirror. I have admittedly given up on my hair. There is truly nothing that can be done. The back ends curl up. Like the girl in the Wendy’s logo. It has three distinct sections. The top. Then the middle that covers my ears. And then the back that lies on my neck but is too short to put up. I hate it. I hate it but don’t care enough about it to do anything. When I go out, I put a mask on. No one knows who I am anyway. Invisible.

I have giant circles under my eyes. They look a little like allergic shiners. But I don’t think that is what they are. Maybe they will just get larger and larger until they encompass my entire face. Creep down until my entire body is a purply yellowy mish mash. Maybe it is an as yet undiagnosed symptom of COVID. 

I wonder if we would feel better if the sun would shine for more than one day in a row. If I could see the end. And I conflate pandemic with elections in the fall. So much is fraught with uncertainty. And there is so much worry. A second spike. I will continue to sit on my food horde. And maybe add to it. Because I see no way out. I can’t see the normal. I can’t feel it. I can’t get pandemic out of my head. And maybe that is the enduring legacy of COVID for those of us who (hopefully) do not contract it. A head full of fear. A head full of doubt. About our future. About my son’s future. About our country’s future. I don’t know that there will be a vaccine for that. Ever.

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Dear Governor Cuomo

 

Dear Governor Cuomo,

I hope that this Tuesday finds you well. For some reason, this week seems particularly bad to me. Nothing has changed. Nothing at all. And perhaps that is the problem. I had a really difficult time focusing on work today. I really wanted to have something to do that was relatively mindless but I only had work that required thinking. And using judgement. And interpreting policy. And, well, I just couldn’t. 

Maybe it was the reporting that the WHO still is not saying that individuals who have antibodies are actually immune from the disease. Maybe it was my son’s high school reporting that the prom has been postponed (he is not even impacted by this). Maybe it was the news of the ER doctor that committed suicide after working in a facility in NY. Maybe I am just tired of cooking dinner for my son who is never sated.

I know that I am really a lucky person. I am still working. I am still getting paid. My mom is staying safe at home. My son is able to do online learning without difficulty (save for our small internet issues yesterday). The growth on the cat’s neck is a benign cyst. And the sun was actually shining today. I know that I am lucky. But maybe knowing it and feeling it are two different things entirely. 

The thing is, I’m not sure what I would want to do if I could do anything I wanted. Would I want to go for cocktails in Greenport? Or maybe sit outside with my mom and aunt when we meet for ladies who lunch. Be a complete sloth in my friend’s big room as we watch old Top Chef episodes and she quilts while we chat. Eat a big family dinner at my other friend’s house. All of us gathered around his dining room table for a meal. Go to the bootcamp class offered by the town that my mom (77) has been going to for close to 20 years. Grab a coffee in Starbucks. Or just sit at my mom’s kitchen table and eat a grilled cheese sandwich that she has made. She uses those questionable american cheese slices that may not even be actual cheese. And this vidalia onion dressing that she uses in everything. And then she always has chocolate chip cookies or brownies for dessert. Maybe that is all I want. Lunch with mom.

But it is hard to see that path. The path that gives me a timeframe for when I can go in my mom’s house. Where is that in the state’s opening plan Governor? I see the dial and the valves and the stages for reopening. But I know in my heart that I may not be eating a grilled cheese sandwich with my mom until there is a vaccine. And that may not be until next year. 

I don’t mean to kvetch. I am a rule adherent. I wear a mask if I have to go out to the store. And I social distance whenever possible. And I do not really go anywhere else aside from maybe picking up takeout. And I will continue to follow the rules. Because I know that will get me back to the grilled cheese. But right now, it just seems really, really far away. And I am not complaining but it just makes me sad. And some days, even when the sun is shining, the sad is just a really heavy burden. And today it is weighing me down.

But, as always, I have to thank you. Because you make me feel like someone is looking out for all of New York. For me. For all of us. And we really appreciate it.

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How Many Days?

 

The other day Governor Cuomo (it may have been today) put how many days it has been since NY has been on pause. And it is not a lot. Like 51 or 53. But it feels like forever. The days all bleed together. Although, for my work life, not much has changed except that my son is home now too. And I seem to be working more now. Now that there is no place to go. Nothing to do. My mom does not come over any more to pick up my sister. My sister is not working. Besides, I can’t let my mom in even if she did. I am potentially contaminated. I am the one who ventures out to do the shopping. I never get to the 14 days. I just start it again. Every week.

Our place is small so my son and I share a work area. I am at my desk and he is at the kitchen table for online schooling. Most of his classes function by posting some work that he is required to do. Some teachers just post it so that the kids just do all the work right away and then are done or don’t have to “go to” class. I would like some actual structure. My favorite class of his is his public speaking class. The teacher is also the one who puts on the school musical. She has forced them to participate in online meetings. She calls on them and makes them actually speak to her. She has such an easy way with them. I think she is great. I also love his criminal law class. The teacher always has them watching videos on famous cases. That prompts us to have debates over them. Things like the Oscar Pistorius case. He was convinced that it was an accidental shooting. I did not agree.

And as much as I am paying attention to his work, he pays attention to my work calls but more often, to my choice of background noise listening. I listen to the NY Times podcast, The Daily, well daily. If you have ever listened, the host Michael Barbaro has a very distinct tone and way of speaking. My son, who is a master imitator, kept asking why he spoke the way he does. And then, he was doing a spot on Barbaro imitation. It involved putting in a lunch order. It was hilarious. The other thing I have noticed is that I think exposing him to my constant stream of reputable news sources (NY Times, NPR) has provided him with information that he would likely have not heard elsewhere. I always question his internet sources.  And we live in a red part of the state. There are two Trump/Pence flags flying on my running route. He has been exposed to thinking and speech that he never had been exposed to in Hawaii. So I think being exposed to me and my liberal news sources has been good for him. 

The other odd development of the pandemic is that I have started cooking meat. Like all kinds of meat. I realized a few weeks ago that I was only cooking him what I like to call “trash” meat. The kind of meat that bears little to no resemblance to meat. Think spam. And sausage. Kielbasa. Don’t get me wrong, we moved from Hawaii, where spam is king. But I just felt like if I was going to cook him meat, I should cook him meat that was not full of preservatives and the like. It has been challenging for me to do this. I have yet to figure out a good plan. I usually just pick up some random things and then wing it. Last week I made beef stew (winner). This week was chicken with orzo, fennel and leeks, turkey chili and pork loin chops. None of these was particularly loved by the teen. But I will keep trying. 

He rarely leaves the house these days and I am consumed with trying to get him to do more things. The weather has not been cooperating. It is still chilly and windy. It actually hailed yesterday. He has not been getting dressed and spends his days in the shorts he sleeps in and his bathrobe (so grungy, we had taken to calling it the meatloaf robe). He is mostly in front of a screen. I don’t think that it is healthy for him physically or mentally. I keep trying to get him out of this rut of one screen to another. I am hopeful that nicer weather will help to facilitate that. 

And I have taken to jigsaw puzzling. It is little mental bandwidth and very satisfying. I do this. I read a small amount. I write letters to Governor Cuomo and am obsessive about watching his daily briefing. Everyone has their coping mechanisms and that is mine. And running. I’m a little obsessive about running. If only I felt like I was a real runner when I was running all the time. That is the goal. We’ll see how that plays out.

I try not to drink too much. My weekly goal is to not drink more days than I do drink. I have mostly been successful with that. I did manage to go a bit overboard on a Friday a couple of weeks ago and drunk FaceTimed a co-worker, who was at home (in Hawaii) of course. She was with her infant son so that was fun. She said that she really didn’t know that I was drunk. I suppose that is good.

Really, all I am trying to do is keep it together. I don’t know what is going to happen but I don’t think that things will be back to normal any time soon. But, I keep listening to the Love Gov and I know that taking our time is the best way to save lives. So I hate it but you won’t see me protesting. As much as I want things to be regular. To hug my mom. And sit at her kitchen table. And eat a grilled cheese. It will happen. I just don’t know when.

Posted in drinking, family, fear, friendship, Hawaii, New York, Parenting, Relationships, running, Uncategorized, Work | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment