SQ Diary… page 14

Self-Quarantine Day 19 – 03/31/2020

Yesterday was Crash & Burn day. Encountered asshole-ishness all over social media nonstop, and by bedtime I gave in to the bruises and cried myself to sleep for the first time in about seventeen years.

My Pollyanna heart can never retain the fact that at least a third of my fellow citizens don’t want what I want. They prove in a crunch that what they want is chaos and license, and they’re making it harder for the rest of us to survive. And while we do what we can to protect ourselves and the people we love most, other Americans are calling us liars and accusing us of ganging up on their president.

Things like this don’t happen here, dammit, this is America. So somebody must be hoaxin’ us, right? Can’t be real.

SOMEthing real is happening. Medical personnel are dropping like flies – at least 51 doctors in Italy alone, I don’t know the current U.S. count – while they try to save the rest of us, without the tools they need. Wearing week-old masks (regs say to change after each infected patient) and draped in trash bags, slogging through hospital hallways clogged with patients on gurneys, hoping to save more people than they lose, and dreaming of just a couple of minutes to sit down somewhere. Or to pee – who knows when that last happened? Food? That was so two days ago.

The mean-spiritedness from the doubters is incomprehensible. Somehow it’s the fault of the medical profession that we’re all leaderless and stumbling in the dark? It’s OUR fault as ordinary everyday citizens that we allowed ourselves to be lied to without end?

The worst part of the pandemic so far – until the body count shocks everybody out of their shoes – is getting to know who we share a planet with. The philosophical/political/cultural divides are revealing more than we may have wanted to know. We don’t all share the same values, that’s being made painfully clear, and we’ve forgotten how to lay the differences aside for the good of all.

We can’t seem to communicate with each other – the two conversations never come together. It’s all about anger and suspicion and ideologies that simply can’t mesh – there are things unleashed in the nation that are tearing us apart at the seams, things that can’t be reconciled with the concept of a republic, a democracy, a united group of states. Unity has been shattered and replaced with a veneer of arrogance, an “I’m right, you’re wrong” approach to all of life.

It all feels unbearably sad. An ignominious end to a fairly good idea. We’ll still be a nation when this is over, in some bright tomorrow… but we’ll never be the same. That’s either the best possible news or the worst. Hope we all get to stick around for the ending…

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SQ Diary… page 13

Self-Quarantine Day 18 – 03/30/2020

Had my first sleepless night since the pandemic broke. Couldn’t get comfortable, tame the aching, stop my thoughts. The person charged with overseeing the welfare of the nation is bullying blue-state governors, accusing doctors and nurses of theft, hoarding, and black market activity, because given the chance that’s what HE would do. My disgust and fury are off the chain. City ERs and ICUs are war zones, nobody’s working their own angle, for god’s sake! Their only aim is to stay alive long enough to make a difference.

Jeez, any wonder I can’t sleep? Top epidemiologists in the world and he consults Mr. Baseball…

I never really knew what hate feels like until landing in this era. I’ve seen its effects all my life, especially during the Civil Rights struggle, and I watched the white supremacists come out of the woodwork during Barack Obama’s time. SPOILER ALERT: They never left, they somehow gained influence and they’ve brought friends. I’ve been angry at people, furious, ready to fight to the end… but I’ve never known what it was to hate. I’ve learned. I despise every atom of Donald J. Trump with a white-hot cleansing fire. I find no honor in him, no respect, no character, no intelligence, no self-control, no class. It’s ALL about him, ALL the time. He displays not an ounce of empathy for another living thing on the face of the earth.

Family members, friends, their kids, the nurses and doctors of the world, are on the front lines doing what they’re trained and conditioned to do, with one hand tied behind their backs. They’re putting themselves at risk every hour they work, and they do it by choice because that’s who they are. For them to be slandered with accusations of theft and waste is so out of the norm it doesn’t bear thinking about. They’re reusing nasty old masks and other personal protection gear, strictly against regs, because there isn’t enough stuff lying around to STEAL in the first place!

Lumpy has no idea what those life-and-death hospital scenes look like – just as he has no clue what real Americans deal with day to day during GOOD times. Suit him up, send him in, let him stay on his feet for twelve hours breathing through a funky mask and standing in body fluids. And then send him back in there the next day and the next. With the same mask. And when he whines, slap him so hard his cousins fall down.

I’ve wondered over the years what it would take for me to get political on Facebook again and bring it to my blog. Answer: this. All of it since 2015. It finally reached critical mass and toppled of its own weight. It’s my battle and I’m up for it… but first you cry.

DISCLAIMER: SOME of the white people in red states.

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SQ Diary… page 12

Self-Quarantine Day 17 – 03/29/2020

First things first. Kim checked after sundown last night and our silent visitor had taken leave of us. He/she must have been waiting for the cover of darkness before traveling on – maybe just needed a brief rest along the way. My Black Hills trail-guide friend Mark identified the bird as an American Coot, a little out of its normal range, maybe, but we’re part of their breeding grounds. We both went to bed with lighter hearts knowing our new friend was likely not ill after all, just taking a breather. We’re in love with those amazing feet designed for efficient swimming, and if the story DIDN’T have a happy ending we were spared that knowledge, chickens that we are.

It’s a gorgeous Sunday morning, cool, light breeze, temp headed toward 70º. Kim walked before the sun came up and now he’s on the balcony with his coffee and earbuds, having a workout with Paul Simon. I’m feeling a little better, little stronger, little less coughing every day. Ready for warm days and letting the sun soak into my bones.

A tiny epiphany just pinged my sleepy brain: I’ve spent a lot of the past twenty years saying to the world, in so many nonverbal ways, GO AWAY. Boys and girls, be careful what you ask for.

Just remembered that we regressed further into pioneer mode yesterday – no TV. Modem or box or whatevs likely needs replacing, but not on a weekend from a place that isn’t opening its doors for business right now. We miss the news and our car porn like Roadkill, Iron Resurrection, Mecum Auction. And sometimes the sound of other voices in this space is a bonus. So Kim was wandering down YouTube rabbit holes last night, and I had my nose in my iPad as usual. We will survive.

When hunger strikes, the KIMN8R will come in and make Sunday omelets, and the spa tub will get filled again, and we’ll keep rolling. It’s all fine in every way. LIFE… is good.

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SQ Diary… page 11

Self-Quarantine Day 16 – 03/28/2020

It was almost 60º when Kim went out for his 6:30am walk, and he’s been on the balcony catching rays since breakfast. The sunshine feels like a wonder drug.

This is my third Saturday on the inside, and I’m realizing I left the house a lot more often than I thought, even if it was just for a ride somewhere with Kim. Having the door and the blinds wide open is making the place feel a teensy bit bigger this morning and the sounds from outside are welcome. The freight trains are for sure still running.

There’s a sick bird on a window ledge just past our balcony and he’s breaking our hearts. Big, black with an ivory bill, huge feet. He stood planted in one place for hours and now he’s skooched himself into a corner and is breathing heavily. We feel ya’, buddy…

Hoping to stop coughing and get my energy back in time to capitalize on the down-time. All those sweet lil’ projects just waiting to be tortured into fruition and I sit here like a weenie. Warmer days should prove helpful in every direction.

So yeah, The Smiths at Home, not so very different except psychologically. One advantage to being joined at the hip or general vicinity for almost sixteen years is that we only get on each other’s nerves the usual amount, and we do still have separate corners we can retreat to. Mine’s up there behind the red chair.

Wondering if the nurseries will be able to open at all this year…

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SQ Diary… page 10

Self-Quarantine Day 15 – 03/27/2020

And it was night, and it was morning… fifteen days since I walked into our loft and shut the door. Kim’s in and out for necessities, but I haven’t even been in the hallways. I’ve been sick since we sequestered, but haven’t been tested. They’d just send me home to recuperate anyway. I cough and break into sweats ’round the clock, and in the night I wake up wondering if my next breath’s coming… but it always does.

On a far more critical front, moms of healthcare workers the world over are holding our collective breath, hoping our kiddos somehow get the protection and the supplies they need. It’s a limbo like this mama has never fallen into before and I’m not a nice person right now. Speak truth to me or get out of my face. Help or GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY. I’m not dying because of lies and I don’t want other people to either. But they are, dammit, more every day.

Food holds zero interest – I have to make myself eat. It feels counterproductive to tuning out. People are so very gullible and under-informed with their remarks – and so cutting – my belly’s doing flip-flops continuously. The hardest thing about the Trump Era is the cruelty.

Kimmers is filling the spa tub. We’ll soak and talk and I’ll probably cry and we’ll climb out feeling a little better somehow. So grateful not to be living this part of life alone… so many are, and dying without human touch to ease the transition. How much can hearts break and keep on beating?

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SQ Diary… page 9

Self-Quarantine Day 14 – 03/26/2020

Kimmers got his before-dawn walk this morning, and now he’s on the balcony in shorts and an In ‘n Out shirt, Pink Floyd blasting from his phone, keeping himself moving, staving off catatonia. He’s used to hours of court play every week, and lots of walking and bike riding. His guy-brain suffers if he doesn’t move more than he sits.

I, on the other hand, am a lump that coughs, so there’s much room for do-betters as the days pass.

And now he’s playing his Taylor guitar, letting it ring out there in the clean air. The days name their own schedule… whatever delivers us to the next hour… and the next… and thus unto sleep once again.

My guitar babe before I knew him…

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SQ Diary… page 8

Self-Quarantine Day 13 – 03/25/2020

Some sunshine this afternoon and a chance for fresh air, with the balcony door open. Kim’s heading off on a bike ride.

Our friend Ryann brought us two jars of Tacos Jalisco salsa from a trip out west, so Kim made the Saturday Breakfast for HumpDay. It tastes as good on Wednesday as Saturday, and we had a nice spa soak after because why not?

Still coughing, feel like an old sock, but life goes on. Everything’s relative… sooo very relative now.

Talked with John this morning ahead of his return to the hospital tomorrow. Lots of things we aren’t saying… and that’s okay. We are all here —-> X … and we’ll deal. He has a job to do and his skills are sharp. The mama’s job is to sit with it, and to hope he and his colleagues will have the tools they need.

2:30pm. Kim will get back here by four and we’ll sit outside while the temp holds. We’ll chop vegetables for the steamer, we’ll have a couple of drinks, we’ll catch up on whatever we haven’t watched yet… we’ll say words and think thoughts… and it will be nighttime and we’ll shut it all out to await another day.

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SQ Diary… page 7

Self-Quarantine Day 11 – 03/23/2020

Time’s starting to compress ever so slightly while I’m wrung out and still coughing my head off, but Kim, my everyday hero, is in fine form, inspiring confidence and peace of mind. Today is his 69th birthday, same cheeky kid I married 15 years ago.

He walked over to the barbershop first thing, figuring he’d better jump before the bridge closed, and not a moment too soon. He waited with a few other guys, widely spaced, while Mr. Jon, the lone barber, worked his way down the line. Somebody’d stick a head in the door… “One barber, 2-hour wait.” Phone would ring… “One barber, 2-hour wait.” So that’s how Kimmers spent his birthday morning, and came home looking GOOD. Hope he’ll be up for cutting mine for me ’cause I didn’t make it over there before Shelby hung it up for the duration. Yikes!

Life slows to the pace of still water, and only certain things cause a ripple. Only the things that matter.

Self-Quarantine Day 12 – 03/24/2020

Some sunshine would be… good. One gray day after another, sometimes rainy, often just nondescript, isn’t proving to be an invigorating backdrop to what’s spooling out in our midst.

Still draggy and coughing but I’m not ready for the system to dump my old bones, so recovery is the only option here.

Talked with John – all of his meetings have been canceled but he goes back on shift Thursday. Into the lion’s den armed with sheer boldness and knowledge of the job at hand. Get back, virus, in the name of Science.

On the home front… might make the bed tomorrow.

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SQ Diary… page 6

Self-Quarantine Day 9 – 03/21/2020

Woke up in the night with an elevated temp and raging sweats.

Out of it all day, sleeping nearly round the clock.

Self-Quarantine Day 10 – 3/22/2020

Yesterday feels like a chimera. Rough day, lots of sleeping, came to toward evening and started psyching for the climb back. Kim changed the sheets, I painfully showered and washed my hair, and I had text conversations with a medical friend about the wisdom of getting tested… or not. She suggested waiting until today, which will no doubt turn out to have been the best answer in light of events. There’s at least one drive-through test facility here in town, so that’s good to know.

Woke up sometime in the night last night, drenched, knowing a corner had been turned, and fell asleep again waiting for morning. I’m a noodle and my pee is orange, but my body knows life’s returning. So far, I’ve dipped toast in coffee and had several ounces of cold water, and that’s holding. Scary timing to get the regular flu in a town the virus is visiting, but the flu was here first so this isn’t a shock.

Kim went to Stabby Dillons to get Emergen-C and a few other supplies – he wears nitrile gloves inside the store. No TP – apparently they’re still letting people grab armfuls off the truck, which is piss-poor management and infuriating. Heard Dillons in Salina is still doing the same thing. Why???

Just need to get my head clear, some food in my belly, more liquids down, and rest. Things are starting to pile up around me, but they’ll have to simmer for a bit…

Please be careful, friends. If the virus is worse than the flu, and clearly it’s deadly for some, nobody wants it.

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SQ Diary… page 5

Self-Quarantine Day 8 – 03/20/2020

Hitting a wall this morning, no doubt the first of many. Haven’t been further than my balcony since LAST Friday, and the walls are starting to tilt inward a little. It’s cold and blustery outside, so Kim skipped his 6am walk… maybe later.

Most weeks I’m a hermit crab… don’t care if I stick my nose out all that often. But since this is now the status quo and my options have been squeezed down tighter, places and food around town are calling my name. Crazy humans…

Time to shake up the routine – things are devolving to a state not generally tolerated here for long. There’s laundry to fold, clutter to sweep away, and my desk is once again a sty by my standards. And always the little stacks of papers and junk mail to keep sorted. I have no focus yet – my head is off in the weeds, thinking thoughts I can’t recall a minute later.

It doesn’t help that I’ve been coughing for days and breaking out in sweats. No fever, just a steady reminder that I’ve tucked myself away for reasons – and I hope I did it soon enough. My general health platform has been compromised for years, and now we learn that people with Type A blood are the most susceptible to the virus. So yeah, hope that last trip to the therapy pool won’t stick with me in a bad way. We know now that C-19 has been loose in society for far longer than we were told, so the uncertainty hangs like the Sword of Damocles until the crisis passes.

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

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SQ Diary… page 4

Self-Quarantine Day 7 – 03/19/2020

Typing today’s date zips me back fifty years, to a hospital room, a long day of induced labor so we could outrun a blizzard, and a tiny blue-eyed, towheaded little guy.

That kid and his partner had booked a 10-day Paris vacation to celebrate his birthday this week, but the universe made other plans, so they found an alternate hideaway.

Fifty years. Makes me feel lightheaded. It’s been that long since my son was born… and I’d already lived a whole life before THAT happened. How is it possible to sit here in my same skin at 72… same on the inside except chill and settled now, understanding a tiny handful of things, knowing every one of those things in my life really happened, one by one… and acquiesce to a life spooling out. We’re candles.

Pouring rain this morning off and on… drippy… gray. I coughed all night, but that’s calming down now. Pretty sure it’s just from being closed up in this same air for days at a time. Our only windows are on the east side, so air flow is at a premium, and it’s been too cold to leave the balcony door open for very long. If spring arrives this year, it will never have been so welcome.

I wanted NOT to live in extraordinary times, but somehow knew I would… probably because my imagination formed stories from the things I learned, and the possibilities were out there.

And here we are. Making the most of the minutes while we have them.

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SQ Diary… page 3 1/2

Self-Quarantine Day 6.5 – 03/18/2020

Kansas weather changes can give a rookie whiplash, and true to no form whatsoever, the day has turned balmy. The sun broke through the cloud cover for a dazzling minute, and the air feels friendly at 63º.

Kim rode his bicycle to Stabby Dillons for a quick backpack full of groceries, and more vodka from On The Rocks. He isn’t wearing nitrile gloves yet on these errands, but… he’s quick and doesn’t inhale. 😂

His PickleBall buddy and actual friend Marcelo called and said he’d be over to go for a walk, so they’re out there somewhere away from the madding crowds and 6 feet away from each other (ha!) while they talk nonstop. Good medicine.

With the door to the outside world standing open, trees leafing out, birds singing, the approaching gloom has been swept out of the house again. C’monnn, spring.

Where it (officially) stands today… we’re in one of those counties bordering the red one. So yeah, stayin’ in… stayin’ alive…

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SQ Diary… page 3

Self-Quarantine Day 6 – 03/18/2020

We woke up to wet skies this morning and a hint of claustrophobia settling into the corners, but the rain has stopped for now at 7:45 and Legs is out there steppin’ ’em off. My beach bum isn’t used to being under a roof ’round the clock and I’m watching him wind a tad tighter every day, although I’m the only one who could tell so far. Warmer weather will help… he can ride his bicycle on the river levee, or anyplace else people aren’t. And we’ll be able to use our roomy 4th-floor balcony again, above the fray, thirty feet from any other overhang – that’s gonna be a big deal.

Not a lot has changed for me so far. I’m used to living in my head and my peaceful loft, and my books and writing are company enough for long hours. But even I’M starting to feel the effects of necessary distancing – it’s the knowledge that this is REQUIRED for the good of our social agreement as humans – I see I have to guard against feeling that my preset willingness is now being demanded of me. The human psyche is… endlessly revealing.

The weather’s been gray here – fitting for encroaching dystopia, but sunshine would feel like a gift right now. Light. Open skies. Warmth. Maybe a tease tomorrow, so guess I’ll hang in. Forecast shows a high of 73º (!!) and a peek of sunshine, but an 80% chance of continued rain, so… Kansas, yeah.

A few observations, not quite a week in:

  • The laundry sorter fills up very slowly now. Mostly underwear and towels.
  • The spa tub continues to be the best spot in the house.
  • Time is starting to slip its moorings a little. Easy to sleep later, crawl into bed earlier, eat when hungry rather than by the clock.
  • Dealing with the unknown takes everything humans can muster, so even though I’m not fearful, it requires energy to stay on top of this as it oozes forward, and I’m tuckered out by evening. Not a bad thing, just a notable part of the landscape.

And on we go.

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Diary… page 2

Self-Quarantine Day 5 – 03/17/2020

Good morning, morning. Feels exaggeratedly still out… like a state of suspended animation.

Kim walked this morning while I was wrapped in dreams of a different world – his favorite trek, down one side of Mass Street and back up the other. He says most of the restaurants have signs in their windows reading “TAKE OUT ONLY.” Our hearts are heavy for them – how long can they hang on? People we know and love, count on in the community, half the reason we retired here – this very real place is going to hurt BAD. Made me think of this…

I guess statistics and projections caught up with everybody yesterday and Lumpy decided to participate, so the guidelines are changing by the hour now. My New York Times Daily Briefing helps in keeping things sorted as we go along since a pandemic pays no heed to plans or yelling, it just does what it’s built to do – rolls on while we scramble to catch it by the tail.

Watched Governor Cuomo’s stellar Fireside Chat this morning – ostensibly talking to the people of New York, but emerging as the de facto leader of the nation at this point. Clear, concise information, every word absorbable. Facts, possibilities, probabilities, necessary courses of action in order to flatten the curve if that’s still an option. Calm, measured, everything considered and truthful. People like to be trusted – just give us the facts and we’ll do the right thing.

The KIMN8R’s in work mode this morning, staving off the twitchiness. I’m still a cluster of cells trying to process fast enough to reconstitute. Also I’m lazy, so…

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Diary of a Sea Change…

I think a really good person to #SociallyDistance with would be a guitar player who cooks and likes to read. 🖤💙Got one, let’s do this…

Self-Quarantine Day One – 03/13/2020

We stocked up a little today, preparing to shelter in place and stay out of the mainstream. No TP to be found in town, but most things are still available. Came home, ready to do what’s required. Not so different for me, I leave the house two or three times a week. For Kim, no daily PickleBall, and less popping in and out of businesses on errands, but he’ll still walk before dawn unless that much time outdoors becomes a no-no.

Day Two – 03/14/2020

Kimmers went foraging for TP at 6am and scored a 12-pack fresh off the truck. No hoarding, just a gracious plenty for now. We keep remembering little things we need from the grocery store, so the list grows.

When the Sports World went dark yesterday, people started waking up to what’s going on. “Oh crap, it’s real?” Thus, no toilet paper and no hand sanitizer. Panic shows its ugly head…

Day Three – 03/15/2020

Sunday. Starting to get acquainted with life as it now stands. A Saturday…and now a Sunday…with no live events except for an obscure car race. Night-time TV shows run with skeleton crews…and now going dark. Broadway – dark. NYC shutting down. State Governors taking the responsibility to close restaurants and bars. Anti-science citizens still insisting on full participation in order to preserve the economy. Market in free-fall.

Finding straight information on the pandemic takes determination, but it’s out there. The more two people with susceptibilities know about the threat, the more likely we can avoid some of it.

Day Four – 03/16/2020

A changed world starts to adjust to changed circumstances. Reality bites. The characteristics of this virus are sobering in comparison to some of the others. Hard to detect and pin down. Spreads like wildfire once unleashed. A direct threat to people with heart/lung issues, among others.

Slept ’til 8am, woke up feeling groggy and blue. Same for Kim on the blues – he’s cut off from the physical world that keeps him clicking along. He walked before dawn again, but getting no court play will show up more and more in his mood…

A word can change the atmosphere. Got my feelings hurt this morning instead of letting it all roll off. Since we’ve spent most of our waking (and sleeping) hours together for the past 15+ years with minimal argument over anything whatsoever, it’s clear the unknown is taking a toll. We both know we’re vulnerable to the killer, and so are family members and friends we love… and so far nobody at the top is offering conclusive consensus as to what we’re dealing with, nor a desire to publicly confront it in crucial ways. Time is of the essence…

Rode with Kim to pick up prescriptions and we got fast food on the way home. He said the place was spotless and everything usually sitting out is behind the counter now. So far, Lawrence isn’t a hot spot but there are eight confirmed cases in Johnson County next door. Planning to ride this out to the end and move on.

… to be continued.


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