Saturday, the 4th… page 58

Day 114 – 07/04/2020

Drinking pomegranate tea while fragments of thought pop in and out of my headspace.

It’s a wonky 4th, but I’m two for two so far – the traditional breakfast and a spa soak. The rest of it is gravy.

Thinking of a story I heard a while back about someone who’s managed to alienate their cache of friends and family and now they’re old and not in good health, with few human resources – a pitiable spot to find oneself in, and one I hope to avoid. But I’m outspoken to the max on social media among like-minded friends, so I always hope people who are on another page entirely will either out themselves or find the door… preferably both. They’re not the hearts and minds I’m talking to, and they will inevitably be offended. Oh well… they weren’t gonna come change my sheets at the end anyway, so…

Ray of sunshine here, veritable 4th of July sparkler! It’s those damn morose German genes, and before I bring the house up a little, let me just say this is the most demoralizing Independence Day observance of my 70+ years. If we reach the next one with our democratic system of government intact, functioning, and regaining health, we will be a blessed nation indeed.

So, the good news. The sun’s breaking through the clouds and the humidity is only 74%. The neighborhood is quiet this morning – no M80s going off since last night. The flowers are perking their heads up and taking advantage of the wet air and sunshine to do that thing they do… likely only to get slammed by another rainstorm. Makes ’em strong, right? The day feels lazy and free, so imma celebrate that.

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Sheltering from the storm… page 57

Day 112 – 07/02/2020

Running through my head for the past few days is the phrase “when the light goes.” The air is still and the sky has an odd yellow tinge suggestive of a planet other than Earth. As the weeks pass, any desire to mingle fades in the harsh light of day – Douglas County’s COVID cases took a jump over the weekend, in step with what’s happening everywhere in America. It’s best that I stay isolated – my anger and disappointment with people who care about no one but themselves are fairly toxic at this point. Here in town, people are generally being careful, but the virus finds opportunities. We’re under a mandatory state and county mask requirement as of yesterday, but it remains to be seen whether the holdouts comply in the same way they hook their seatbelts, buy the required car insurance, and wear shoes and shirts inside restaurants.

For the first three months inside, I sensed that I was growing old in not-good ways, but I’m on my way back. Walking, either with Rita or by myself, getting my food intake in order again, imposing a modicum of discipline on my unruly self. Life devolves quickly if not monitored and it becomes easy not to shower every single day, to eat whatever provides comfort, and to spend the hours spaced off in another world. It’s hard to stay completely tuned in to everything when so much of it is painful. So in view of current circumstances:

And I know it’s “do unto others,” but when you’ve warned them repeatedly and they continue to disregard your boundaries, shit happens. Besides…

We’ll weather this storm, as Americans do, minus the 200,000+ fellow citizens who won’t make it through, a staggering and totally unnecessary loss in a few months’ time, and we’ll go forward with what needs to be done. Because…

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Cocooning… page 54

Day 100 – 06/20/2020

The process of returning to the social realities of life will be one of jerks and starts… and there are all kinds of jerks out there. We had to take our car to the KC dealership for service this week so we made a lunch date with our friends Seth and Adam who live nearby. It couldn’t have been more wonderful to reconnect and catch up with them, but the lunch experience left much to be desired, primarily because in a metro area where COVID-19 numbers are still rising, none of the restaurant staff were wearing masks.

We chose the upper outdoor deck, but the tables weren’t thinned out so other parties were in close proximity… and it’s freaky to have a waitperson walk up to your high-top and repeatedly poke her face next to yours. The proper course of action would have been to pick another restaurant after we stepped inside and saw what the situation was, but Midwesterners are trained to be so damned polite it didn’t even occur to us – and quite possibly it’s the same over much of the city. At our car dealership, by contrast, everyone wears masks, and the person who handles the car adds gloves. Just good business these days.

It was comforting to see Lawrence again where there’s no prevailing cavalier attitude toward the various crises assailing us all – most people here, ESPECIALLY those with eating establishments, wear masks; embrace the presence and contribution of a diverse ethnic population; are liberal-minded when it comes to the care and feeding of other humans; and are aware and in favor of constitutional laws governing American society. I fear KCKS is a tad too close to the hee-haw over there.

My patience for fools is on hiatus – no fact, emotion, or consequence moves them off their chosen mark. Zero tolerance on social media if they step onto my timeline and unload their predictable weaponry on me – if I know you I might go 3 strikes, otherwise out the airlock you go. Today as we pass the hours before Tulsa kicks into gear, wondering how it’s all going to go down, fools loom large – they aren’t known for clear-headed decision making under pressure. Hoping for a non-conflagrational outcome.

Kim was out on his bike at 5:45 this morning, shooting at the fog, which strikes me as therapeutic and apropos.

Bridge across the Kaw – Lawrence to NoLaw
A skinny window on Mass Street

Photo credits: Kim Smith 06/20/2020

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Hanging on… page 50

Day 78 – 05/29/2020

Hello Diary, I’m still here. The weather was gray and rainy for most of the week, making it more challenging to ward off the sadz – sunshine removes the sting a little.

The ongoing loss of so many fellow Americans weighs heavy in the atmosphere but we can’t talk about it as a nation, deal with its implications now and for the future, or otherwise exorcise our disallowed grief. The deep sadness is always there.

The transformation of America from breadbasket and caring hand to the world, to a hate-filled isolationism that’s ME FIRST from the top down, is discouraging and worrisome, thus adding to the sad stack.

The willful ignorance by a third of the nation, leading to violent confrontation between proponents of science and those of bullshit, is sad-making.

The hateful determination to preserve a “separate but equal” status quo, equal being entirely arbitrary, leading to murder sanctioned by law, is unbearably sad and anger-generating.

The fact that I’m out of sync with people I love while we make our way through this supremely lonely piece of history is the ultimate sadness underlying all the rest, and I’m as powerless to fix that as I am any of the above.

***************

But where there’s sad… there’s happy. After waking up past midnight yesterday morning in anaphylactic distress, I took a little ambulance ride, did an overnight in the ER and survived to fight another day. I remember very little from when the paramedics put me on the gurney and wheeled me out of my bedroom until just before I was dismissed to come home, but I share this as a cautionary tale…

My hands, when I woke up, were swollen tight and itched so savagely I wanted to rip them off my arms, and the only thing different in my day on Wednesday had been spending about twenty minutes with needle and thread, reinforcing the ear-loop attachments on a mask that wasn’t MADE IN THE USA. The other symptoms were frightening, and I woke Kim up when my tongue started to swell – I know my limits.

Be wise, kids. And always try for the happy.

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Here… page 46

Day 66 – 05/17/2020

So many thoughts, so little to say.

It’s a profoundly lonely time, and we’re all just doing the best we can.

But in the midst of all the “no” and the upheaval of the culture war, last night’s celebration of America’s 2020 graduates was joyous and affirming. Thank you, Lebron James, for your loving gift to the nation. Thank you for knowing what we needed.

Photo Credit: Kim Smith 05/16/2020

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In here… page 45

Day 62 – 05/13/2020

A vacation within a vacation was a good idea – I accomplished more on Tuesday than in the preceding 60 days put together and there’s a short-list ready for the next time motivation strikes, but it’s been chilly and gray this week so that could be a while. Far easier to sit in front of the TV with the sound off and play my games.

We’re in this for the long haul, all of us, those who realize it and those who don’t. Life has changed in basic ways and there’s no going back any time soon, if ever, to what we had. There’s no place I’m yearning to go unless we could see our guys, so it’s knowing how different things will have to be, and for how long, that’s weighing heavy, along with grief over so many lives lost – a quarter of them, needlessly, in America. And we’re facing all of these things as polar-opposite forces straining in a tug of war that portends bloodshed in the streets by August.

We’re sort of a melting pot here, but realistically we’re more like stew, with the bits & pieces staying definitive and people kicking the onions to the edge because they don’t like them. That attitude and the history that instilled it goes back to the beginning when white men first put a foot on this territory and began to declare themselves free from rules except those they instituted. We’re looking forward to the “Barkskins” saga, which traces that history, although I can’t imagine that it will be as sweeping as the book since the disclaimer says “Limited Series.” There are a lot of things to know about ourselves as Americans that brought us to this place – all events have origins.

It’s Wednesday. We’re here, we’re weird, and we have one rule besides the first one, which is BE NICE.

RULE #2: WE’RE ALL JUST DOING THE BEST WE CAN

And there’s this…

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Still in here… page 44

Day 60 – 05/11/2020

Dear Diary… I didn’t forget you, I just took a 4-day weekend to contemplate the error of my ways and re-visit my anger issues, which may or may not have required generous amounts of alcohol and endless games in the virtual worlds I haunt.

A thorn-in-the-side I am… I’ve never learned to dissemble and pretend matters of life-and-death aren’t real, which irritates the stuffing out of people. Everything’s SURreal – in the middle of a plague that requires social-guideline cooperation from the global community, Americans are now SOLDIERS, fighting a WAR, and we must buck up and march into the maw – who do you think makes billionaires their money, for goodness sake?

No allowances are made for grieving – its heavy pall across the nation has never been addressed by the general running this war – and his loyal troops shame us if we try to put a human face on any of it. “Chin up, keep marching, there’s no crying in war, slacker!” chant the Right-to-Life people as they again force us to ask, WHOSE right?

It’s a challenge to corral the cognitive dissonance and mash it all together in a livable form.

But we won’t grieve if we don’t care, so… NEW RULE:

Standing by for peace in our time …

Photo credits: Kim Smith – 5/10/2020 from our balcony – rainbow cloud

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Staying in… page 43

Day 55 – 05/06/2020

I wandered into a beat-down yesterday and I’m still processing the whole thing. I clicked a notification from a friend’s page and commented in the thread… my comment was repeated back to me in a version that was the direct opposite of what I said… I got a heavy-duty lecture on military moms and moms who care about oh-so-many things… and shamed for caring overly-much about John and his fellow nurses around the country, which wasn’t part of my comment… and then I was immediately unfriended by both her and her husband. These are people I’ve known for years, and I didn’t know we were on opposite sides of the war until I was drop-kicked like I was hot.

I realize I’m the Rachel Maddow of my timeline – I’ll render you insensate with the facts surrounding things I care desperately about. And I’m sure I need a reminder once in a while that there are other things to think about… but from someone who loves me, okay?

I wish someone had loved Donald John Trump enough in his lifetime, ever, from womb to tomb, to help him grow into a real human being. I wish someone loved him enough now to tell him the truth in ways he could process – it would be a mercy. In my first marriage I had two mothers-in-law, the backup being the aunt whose house we lived in, and the early years were made more difficult by her need to control her world. No one could please her and she was miserable – afraid of everything, turned in on herself, shriveled by what she perceived as lack of love in her life – and it made her a tyrant. I had Lumpy’s number from jump – I know him.

The universe feels like it’s icing over, some days… and then I come back here to blog world and Facebook and my friends on Twitter where some people have taken the time to know me, and it’s clear that they get me. We’re on the same page, for one thing, but it’s relationship that makes the difference. We care about each other and it changes us, even if we can’t really change the world we live in. It would be snazzy if the people who lurk on timelines waiting to pounce showed up in neon, but life’s never that simple, so we should just tell each other the truth at the outset and get on with it. What are we afraid of?

Welp, that’s how that was, moving on. The sun’s shining, it’s a beautiful morning, and we woke up alive, so what’s not to like? Don’t worry, I’m not gonna start singing…

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Staying in… page 38

Day 48 – 04/29/2020

Some mornings I feel almost lighthearted when I wake up, but today isn’t one of those. I finally broke down and had a long cry in the spa tub because it all stacks up after awhile… the sense of division most of all. The sides in our current civil war couldn’t be more clearly drawn, but I wanted to believe we still found common ground in the middle concerning life and death for the people we love. Guns in the streets, and large male types waving them in the faces of medical staff, yelling at them, breathing on them, threatening the general citizenry, and being praised for it because FREEDOM… it’s too heavy.

I’m a face-it-head-on person, but this I can’t deal with, so I turn into a little mouse during waking hours and lose myself in computer games with their fantasy worlds. If I could fill our spa tub with all my tears over a lifetime, they would overflow to the downstairs neighbors, and I’m just tired of crying. I’m tired of feeling… but if I could change that I wouldn’t be me anymore.

Got hit with an onslaught of ugliness first thing – my mistake for looking. Tomorrow will be better, right? I wish peace for you… don’t let your day look like this, ‘k? Never let the bastards get ya’ down.

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What the shelter? …page 34

Day 42 – 04/23/2020

Placido Domingo, from inside a chicken costume, “You know what is hard? Is hard to breathe.”

You know what is hard? Resolving the issues borne out of a disaster while it’s still coming at you.

Working on it. I’ve stopped mentioning certain people’s president on Facebook… that’ll hold ’til he makes the next life-or-death choice on our behalf. I’m avoiding online button-pushers… who needs the added angst? Social media is a trip, man – unsuspecting people step right up and tell you who they are, and some of the things they feel at liberty to say are lacerating.

The Zen has to be re-established every morning… and it’s worth doing.

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Shelter me… page 33

Day 41 – 04/22/2020

I’m starting to shelter from social media for great swatches of the day – in times of crisis and conflict it has a way of reaching out and grabbing me where I’m most vulnerable. Two distinct and disparate value systems are going headers against each other while everything else conspires to kill us, and the images are seared into my permanent record. This one has followed me around for a couple of days…

It isn’t photoshopped.

Eugenics, pure and simple, and we actually find ourselves at this point in history.

I’m the weak for all the reasons… Kim’s the weak because asthma and a heart attack/bypass… John’s the “weak” for potential lack of PPE while on shift. Most everyone I love falls into the category of THE WEAK for one reason or another – who decides who to treat… or not? Death panels, anyone?

A heavy attrition rate in nursing homes, prisons, poverty-stricken communities, minority populations, and among the aging would help the economy recover… that seems to be the mindset at this point. We have met the enemy and he is us. Gives the concept of shelter a whole new meaning – I’m picturing a cave in a remote location, the sooner the better. We old survivors are becoming prey.

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No shelter… page 31

Day 39 – 04/20/2020

Happy 420 Day, boys and girls… thought I’d start with the GOOD news.

No diary entry yesterday… feels like I’ve run out of words.

Here’s the thing… Moms are… moms. You really need to know only one thing about us – don’t fuck with our kids. Mine’s an RN in Atlanta, where they’re expecting the virus to peak sometime this week, and the venom being displayed toward the medical community has ended me.

I’m done. The cruelty of the MAGA movement has helped me to kill my darlings:

  • a naive belief that if people just hear the truth it will change them
  • Midwestern guilt that makes me leave the door open to people for too long
  • any remaining misconceptions about what Christians stand for
  • a deluded impression that when required to suck it up and deal, Americans knew how

As John (my kid) said to me this morning, “It’s hard to tell how or when a shift will occur in anyone that will turn them into the very creation they once abhorred” … but I’m watching it happen in real time.

“All logical arguments can be defeated by the simple refusal to reason logically.”–Physicist Steven Weinberg

This short column by John Pavlovitz says it perfectly. I hope you’ll read it…

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Shelter… page 31

Day 37 – 04/18/2020

Feels like I’m doing something right when my baby sister texts and says, “Are you okay? I keep waiting for today’s blog post.”

Accidentally took a Saturday off – our 6th in “captivity” – and checked out for a while. I’ve found a group of free games that are all basically Candy Crush with furniture, and their little worlds are so sweet they’re easy to get lost in.

Almost 5 o’clock… the news cycle over the past few days has been discouraging beyond imagining. The country’s being engulfed in a civil war – not just a figure of speech anymore – and in a battle over whether money or life matters more, nobody wins.

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Ready for this kind of peace again…

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Shelter… page 30

Day 36 – 04/17/2020

Don’t even know what to write. The day-to-day is exactly that, so…

Sadly, the global pandemic has become, in the “United” States, a civil war over the economy versus the value of human life, and the mood is turning ugly. People “defending the Constitution” are showing up en masse with weapons and Confederate flags, yelling and honking car horns outside hospitals, blocking ambulance entrances, and otherwise creating added mayhem for everyone who’s trying to help save lives. And people I don’t recognize anymore are cheering them on. Soul-killing.

World? What world? Think I’ll stay right here.


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So shelter me… page 29

Day 35 – 04/16/2020

I want to cut all my hair off – it’s pelt-ish unless it’s chopped up like bird feathers, and it’s weighing me down.

MOOD: Weighed down. I’ll have to choose an alternate one, however, because the source of my discouragement is not changing anytime soon, if ever. We’re two separate nations and never the twain shall meet – I do get that now.

The sun’s shining for a bit, we have a promise of rain today, there’s no shortage of things to eat or do… so I choose mellow for my functioning mood. It is what it is. It will be what it will be.

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