Friends and family…

Once more into the fire, and tomorrow the answers start showing up… did we find the right nerve? Will fusion be the fix? Will I get my life back? Those are the operative questions, see what I did there?

None of this would be happening without Kim, who told me from the beginning that he was going to keep looking for whatever would stop the pain. I was 57 when he married me, skeletal from grief anorexia and fried from years of caregiving and loss, but still a house afire and totally into living life. Fast-forward to 2021 and increased degeneration from the accident I told you about… https://playingfortimeblog.com/2021/10/04/a-fractured-fairytale/ … has nearly immobilized me, so it’s gradually become a fact of life to be dealt with… will I stay on my own two feet, or is that becoming history?

It’s been a long time getting here, but fifty years after I first became acquainted with intractable nerve pain, we “know a guy.” There’ve been a lot of starts and stops along the way, most of them total dead-ends, but from here to Wichita to Scottsdale and points between we’ve checked out information and leads and promises and guesses, and it’s always been “We think this could help… we can try this procedure… welp… we tried.” A senior-staff spine surgeon, without so much as sitting down or making eye contact, told me in 2018 that nothing could be done to upgrade the state of my spine, so I came home with something settled in me that said “Don’t bother exercising, it only ramps up the pain.” That wasn’t a conscious decision, but the psyche is a powerful and mysterious universe and knows how to shut us down.

This fall, with things clearly falling apart in the pillar that holds me upright, Kim raised the ante and went in search of any helpful information available. A PickleBall friend told him about his wife, my age, who had robotic-assisted spinal surgery in Kansas City and is walking again without pain. Another PickleBall buddy told us about her own friend, my age, who had yet another KC surgeon do the same surgery, with similar positive results.

Boys and girls, medical robotics have arrived in the heartland and the Young Turks are on it. A primary factor in our move to Lawrence was the stellar medical community here and in next-door Kansas City, and that’s been proven wise over and over. We’ve had critical need for their gifts many times in the eight years we’ve lived in this Kansas cocoon, and nobody has disappointed us so far. And before we’d even settled in, Kim started making himself part of the neighborhood, the community… local… bringing us now to a personable young surgeon with a shiny resumé who knows how to “fix it.”

So tomorrow we’re going to fix it. Please keep a good thought.

Not this part…
not this part…
not even the trainwreck in the middle, just one key spot.

The x-rays are this side of obscene, but the amazing fact is that I stand straight… I just can’t keep moving for more than a few minutes.

Before they bring in the Happy Juice, I’m saying thank you to the guy who got me here, because it wouldn’t have happened without him. However this turns out, he never gave up the quest. When he married me I was under a hundred pounds, brown as a bean, and vibrating with life. Seventeen years later I’m over a hundred pounds, white from lack of sun, nearly deaf, evading seizures every chance I get, and on the cusp of living out my days on a Jazzy. Not sure why I’m even still hanging around, but the heartfelt hope is that after tomorrow it will start getting less tricky by the day to be here.

This isn’t the first time the KIMN8R has saved my life. He’s the cook who brought me back from the edge when we met, and he’s fed me irresistible food every day for all these years. He keeps me laughing, makes sure the adventure doesn’t end, holds me when I cry (a lot), lets me be me, end of story… and he believes in me. From the moment we met, it was going to be him or no one (I said no one, but never tempt fate), and against all odds he’s kept me putting one foot in front of the other.

While preemptively fighting my battles for me, he’s had his own challenges since January 2021, including 45 radiation treatments for an aggressive form of cancer, followed by months of other therapies and protocols, ongoing in 2022. He aced the radiation and went on to double his exercise quotient in order to maintain his conditioning for putting up with me… a job he says he was born to, and he’s so right. He’s at fighting weight and I couldn’t be more fortunate to have him as my cornerman. For six years he helped nurture Robert’s mother in her 90s and made her days far more interesting, fun, and lifegiving than if it had been just me all the time. He didn’t get to do that for his own family and he values it above price. In my world he’s The Guy for all the things.

In the current atmosphere, with relationships coming apart all around us, I remember people who watched two wounded human beings find love and happiness and said “I give it six months.” Have any of them ever felt a twinge over their cynicism, I wonder? Doesn’t matter…

I’m not sure most of #lfk knows Kim Smith has a wife since he’s always by himself, so I’m ready to get past tomorrow, and the three months after that, and whatever after that… and get out there with my ol’ man again.

Let’s do this.

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Heyyy, guess what day it is… ??

Here we are at HumpDay again, boys & girls, always an opportune time to assess where we’ve been and where we’re going. Any given week has the potential to end better than it started, so a word of hope… or solidarity… or humor can make all the difference.

Week #50 in the Year 2021 has held these bits of knowledge so far…

The pandemic unleashed by a deadly virus and multiplied by earth-dwellers who refuse the antidote, colors every part of daily living now. And the “greatest” nation leads the civilized world in death and suffering. We are an incomprehensible species, set on our own destruction. ‘Splain that, Lucy…

“We’re not taking it because we have no idea what’s in it.” Fair enough, provided all of your bodily choices are based on similar information.

A related thought:

And a point that neatly sizes up our current situation:

Our plates are full, here at the end of our second pandemic year, with much to sort and discard and much to reconcile with what we knew of truth. It feels better not to drag the same ol’ ratty stuff into a shiny new year. A head-on look at everything that’s transpired in the last twelve months is likely to grab us by the nose and take us down a rabbit hole of feelings, so there’s that, but since truth and facts are prime, it’s necessary to make the trip.

And then, for the sake of health, happiness, and that other thing… rhymes with health… we disengage from it all… and breathe… separate the truth from the litter and keep moving. I say it a lot… “Keep moving.” Life doesn’t stop for us, it doesn’t care, it’s not made that way, so we go with it or find ourselves hauling the ass-end of it all the time.

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She let go…

The other day, scrolling online, I saw a concise little 30-day challenge, formatted in such a way as to enable us to dump all our angst before New Year’s Day, and I didn’t even save it to my False Hopes folder because…

  1. those things always seem a little too pat
  2. I get halfway through and wander off
  3. more failure… who needs that??

Better that my conscious self show up in the right place at the right time to get precisely what it needs.

She Let Go

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of fear. She let go of the judgments.

She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.

She let go of the committee of indecision within her.

She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely,

without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a

book on how to let go… She didn’t search the scriptures.

She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.

She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.

She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.

She didn’t journal about it.

She didn’t write the projected date in her day-timer.

She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.

She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.

She didn’t analise whether she should let go.

She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.

She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.

She didn’t call the prayer line.

She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.

There was no applause or congratulations.

No one thanked her or praised her.

No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle.

It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.

It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face.

A light breeze blew through her.

And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

Here’s to giving ourselves the gift of letting go…

There’s only one Guru ~ you.

―Rev. Safire Rose

Oops, found it. See? Entirely too perky for present company.

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If wishes were fishes… page 142

Reprinting a page from my COVID Diary about this time last year…

Day 248 – 11/18/2020

It’s a blustery day, sunny and windy. Parks & Rec installed tarps on the north fence of the PickleBall courts and every morning since then the wind has blown from any direction but north. They’ll hit it right again one of these days but had to give it up after a half-hour this morning.

Kim’s making banana bread mini-loaves, a bi-weekly occurrence, which he shares at PickleBall and tucks into the little food pantries on Mass Street. Makes the house smell amazing.

I’m scouting out good stuff today, like this picture Rita found from our wedding reception when I was still under 100 elbees. We were in the wonky kids’-church area and it makes me laugh that Kim had a door handle in his neck and never even felt it. “What, me worry?”

Just Married – 2004

What we hoped would bring an end to the chaotic limbo hasn’t, and the charade continues unabated while the world falls strangely silent. If I had a time machine I’d go back and talk with my Great-grandma Salome Wagner, who lived through the Civil War in southern Indiana and was forced to quarter Union soldiers on her farm. I’d ask her when she first began to realize that the United States consisted of two nations… and how she kept her heart from breaking. No time for such foolishness, then or now, but it comes to us anyway… the disbelief, the denial, the anger, the senseless bargaining, the overflowing grief. I’d ask Grandma Sally if she reached acceptance before she died, and if neighbors ever trusted each other again in her lifetime.

I’d hop in my ride and go see my Grandpa Reese for a while. He could tell me about fighting hand-to-hand in WWI at 17 and coming home to the gratitude of his country. Same with anyone who made it through WWII – nothing but appreciation for a job done. Korea, too, as far as I know. Maybe things started south during Viet Nam and we’ve never really pretended to be one nation since we brought our military personnel home to derision and contempt. This pacifist is of the opinion that if we send them, we support them.

There’s a long list of people I’d call on in my time machine, people who could provide much-needed perspective and objectivity, and I really wish I could have conversations with them. I’d be sure to get some hugs and advice from my mom while I was out there…

On the silent days I miss everybody louder.

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Hope and spontaneous joy…

Hope and spontaneous joy… I said those words yesterday to a Facebook friend who brings me happiness daily, a fellow writer of words but about half my age, so a fresh perspective with every post. Interestingly, we were talking football… and the consensus was that whatever sparks real happiness these days, bring it.

“What if I couldn’t write it down… ” That’s the mantra that moves me outside myself on challenging days and puts truth in front of me. Write it, say it, erase it, or share it.

… or it will kill you.

People who know me know that the highs and lows are what set me down in front of the keyboard. When life’s all chill I just live it. The great and awful days are what send me to this therapy chair every time.

Keep your friends close…

***

Not entirely true, I’m okay with my stand-up-and-take-it record. But I have nothing against softness…
Yeah, never learned chess
I’ve caused buttloads of hurt to people in this life, and being right isn’t a worthy reason.
It leads to hope and spontaneous joy.

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Hey… it’s Wednesday

Here we are at HumpDay once again, boys and girls, on the downhill run to the weekend.

WHY I LOVE WEEKENDS, by some pore ol’ retired thing

  1. They do not contain medical appointments.
  2. The already Zen pace on my side of the equation slows to an imperceptible crawl.
  3. The weekend menu is outstanding.
  4. The trace of guilt over being lazy goes totally underground for a couple of days.
  5. Sometimes weekends mean seeing actual people… and we know there’ll be more of that ahead.

It’s overcast this morning, with only a slight breeze, and it feels like the world’s at a standstill… everything static… to remain this way forever. But hark, what do I see from my window? People and dogs. Gird your loins, folks, life goes on.

Case in point…

And the trees know when it’s time for change…

Just about when we think we can’t stand the status quo another minute, we look around and our immediate situation has morphed into something else entirely. In light of what looked like an endless slate of dental appointments, I’m pleasantly surprised to find that I have only one left… this time around. Friday we see a neuro about my back. Patience… patience… and the world turns.

Maya Angelou’s profoundly simple statement of fact will stay with me…

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Good hearts are safe homes…

I have brazenly committed a crime this morning and I have no shame, because I stole a piece of writing (and life) that’s too exquisite to keep to myself…

Naomi Shihab Nye

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well — one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her. What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly. “Shu-dow-a, Shu-bid-uck Habibti? Stani schway, Min fadlick, Shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the next day. I said, “No, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just later, who is picking you up? Let’s call him.”

We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and ride next to her. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling of her life, patting my knee, answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies — little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts — from her bag — and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the lovely woman from Laredo — we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.

And then the airline broke out free apple juice from huge coolers and two little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they were covered with powdered sugar, too. And I noticed my new best friend — by now we were holding hands — had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an Old Country tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and I thought, This is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that gate — once the crying of confusion stopped— seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too.

This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye

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But did you die?

Things… they change. Having taken a step back from the abyss lately, I’ve been dragging my psyche into fewer angst-ridden areas of life, but I’m nevertheless acutely aware of the controversy swirling around Simone Biles and other Million Dollar Babies of the sports world this year, and particularly this week. Apparently some round-headed pretender who likely couldn’t pull the trigger on a chin-up has called Simone Biles “a selfish sociopath” and “a shame to the country” for putting her health and well-being ahead of gold medals. According to Charlie Kirk “We are raising a generation of weak people like Simone Biles.” She’s so embarrassingly weak she does death-defying gymnastic moves nobody else in the world has ever thought of. What a taker.

So hey, if you live through it, no harm done, right? Everything for Mother America. That sounds a little 3rd Reich to me, so I’m giving Byron Heath a guest-essay spot this morning…

*****

This realization I had about Simone Biles is gonna make some people mad, but oh well.

Yesterday I was excited to show my daughters Kerri Strug’s famous one-leg vault. It was a defining Olympic moment that I watched live as a kid, and my girls watched raptly as Strug fell, and then limped back to leap again.

But for some reason I wasn’t as inspired watching it this time. In fact, I felt a little sick. Maybe being a father and teacher has made me soft, but all I could see was how Kerri Strug looked at her coach, Bela Karolyi, with pleading, terrified eyes, while he shouted back “You can do it!” over and over again.

My daughters didn’t cheer when Strug landed her second vault. Instead they frowned in concern as she collapsed in agony and frantic tears.

“Why did she jump again if she was hurt?” one of my girls asked. I made some inane reply about the heart of a champion or Olympic spirit, but in the back of my mind a thought was festering:

*She shouldn’t have jumped again*

The more the thought echoed, the stronger my realization became. Coach Karolyi should have gotten his visibly injured athlete medical help immediately! Now that I have two young daughters in gymnastics, I expect their safety to be the coach’s number one priority. Instead, Bela Karolyi told Strug to vault again. And he got what he wanted; a gold medal that was more important to him than his athlete’s health.

I’m sure people will say “Kerri Strug was a competitor–she WANTED to push through the injury.” That’s probably true. But since the last Olympics we’ve also learned these athletes were put into positions where they could be systematically abused both emotionally and physically, all while being inundated with “win at all costs” messaging. A teenager under those conditions should have been protected, and told “No medal is worth the risk of permanent injury.” In fact, we now know that Strug’s vault wasn’t even necessary to clinch the gold; the U.S. already had an insurmountable lead. Nevertheless, Bela Karolyi told her to vault again according to his own recounting of their conversation:

“I can’t feel my leg,” Strug told Karolyi.

“We got to go one more time,” Karolyi said. “Shake it out.”

“Do I have to do this again?” Strug asked.

“Can you, can you?” Karolyi wanted to know.

“I don’t know yet,” said Strug. “I will do it. I will, I will.”

The injury forced Strug’s retirement at 18 years old. Dominique Moceanu, a generational talent, also retired from injuries shortly after. They were top gymnasts literally pushed to the breaking point, and then put out to pasture. Coach Karolyi and Larry Nassar (the serial sexual abuser) continued their long careers, while the athletes were treated as a disposable resource.

Today Simone Biles–the greatest gymnast of all time–chose to step back from the competition, citing concerns for mental and physical health. I’ve already seen comments and posts about how Biles “failed her country,” “quit on us,” or “can’t be the greatest if she can’t handle the pressure.” Those statements are no different than Coach Karolyi telling an injured teen with wide, frightened eyes: “We got to go one more time. Shake it out.”

The subtext here is: “Our gold medal is more important than your well-being.”

Our athletes shouldn’t have to destroy themselves to meet our standards. If giving empathetic, authentic support to our Olympians means we’ll earn fewer gold medals, I’m happy to make that trade.

Here’s the message I hope we can send to Simone Biles: You are an outstanding athlete, a true role model, and a powerful woman. Nothing will change that. Please don’t sacrifice your emotional or physical well-being for our entertainment or national pride. We are proud of you for being brave enough to compete, and proud of you for having the wisdom to know when to step back. Your choice makes you an even better example to our daughters than you were before. WE’RE STILL ROOTING FOR YOU!

Byron Heath 07/27/2021

*****

I have excruciating memories of Kerri Strug’s sacrifice for those farging bastidges. No one should ever ask that of any athlete.

*****

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It’s HumpDay… best get over it

Stay positive, they said. Buck up lil’ buckarette, revive the Pollyanna cosplay, keep a stiff upper lip (??), be HAPPY!! It’s all gonna be fine, getting better by the day, never stop smiling, they said. And they’re right, of course, they always are. So why the underlying sadness… the melancholy… the odd sense of disappointment, when we’re finally emerging from America’s worst trial in terms of death and illness since the early 1900s, and have so far narrowly avoided a fascist takeover of our form of government. Why the long face, bubie, that’s what I’m asking myself lately.

Maybe we don’t see and hear enough of the good stuff – the things that cause us not to despair of human existence. Pretty sure we don’t, and it’s the universal lament of old farts: “Where’s the GOOD news? Tell us about the GOOD people, the people who know how to care about somebody besides themselves. Show us why it’s okay to be human.”

Kim still walks every morning unless it’s pouring rain, a habit that gets him out in Main Street America as it’s waking up and affords him a window to things he’d otherwise miss. This morning as he came through the cut on his way home he saw someone sleeping on a bench under an overhang, shorts, bare feet, a jacket over him, guitar case covered with stickers, and a small pack of some sort. He came across the street for a few supplies from home and when he got back to the bench the sleeper was awake and shivering. Kim offered him a homemade Razzleberry muffin, some juices, an apple, sweatpants, socks, and a pair of Keene’s. The clothes went on right away while Kim came home again for an afghan for him, then sat with him for a while, making quiet conversation. When asked if he needed money, the traveler said “Oh no, I’m fine! Well, a dollar would help.” Kim knew if the guy was hung over he wasn’t in the mood for a lot of words, and it didn’t matter that he didn’t know what happened to his shoes, so after ascertaining that the guy would be able to navigate on his own, Kim gave him what cash he had on him, to get a better start on his day. Kid probably in his early 20s, either a newbie on the street or somebody who’d played a gig, things happened, and he found himself sleeping on a bench, for whatever combination of reasons. All of this took place while I was still sound asleep in my comfy bed, not a clue in the world.

ME: Did it make you feel fatherly?

KIM:

ME: Did you feel protective of him?

KIM: Oh, right away! Yeah, could have been me so many times… and… yeah.

The kid… who does have a name, shielded to protect the innocent and the guilty… put off such an aura of having ended up in the wrong circumstances and not at all sure what to do about it, that on subsequent passes through the neighborhood, Kim’s tried to spot him, just to make sure he’s okay and headed somewhere better before nightfall. But no news has to be good news in this case, for now at least. And for now, thank you, universe, for the good-hearted, who save us day by day.

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Fresh air…

We clapped and cheered and cried… for justice, for the Floyd family, for America. It was almost more than we dared hope for, a clean sweep, guilty on all counts, and within seconds the killer’s bond had been revoked, he was (gently) handcuffed in front of us, and taken to jail, where our next sight of him is his mug shot, complete with orange jumpsuit. “The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long [seemingly endless], But it Bends Toward Justice.” Maybe we haven’t become a nation of monsters after all… and yet the struggle for equal treatment of all humans goes on into infinity. Just seconds before the Floyd verdict was delivered, a 16-year-old honor student involved in a neighborhood girl-fight was shot in the chest by a police officer, no questions asked, and died in her yard still wearing her rainbow Crocs. I hardly need mention that she was Black.

Yesterday’s verdict, the only possible right outcome, provides a sorely-needed whiff of hope that a heinous practice, set in stone in this country after 250 years, can be ended… somehow. The relentless hounding of people of color in this nation has to stop. Full stop. End of story.

The entire mindset of the country has to change, that’s not asking too much, is it?

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

AMEN

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Wow, it’s Wonderful Wednesday…

Kim Smith 04/11/2020

It’s a beautiful day and Kim’s on his way to Menard’s on his e-bike to research a project – he wasn’t made for indoors so spring is especially timely this year. Just when I think I couldn’t love him more it’s another good day, and yesterday was one of those. After a morning meeting, we had lunch at a Bar & Grille new to us and got our socks blown off – wow. The menu is amazing, and we weren’t surprised that they were nearly at COVID-restriction full-capacity before we left. The specials were meatloaf, chicken enchiladas, and pot roast, the last of which we glommed onto before the waitress could walk away, and it was… OMG, so good. Fall-apart roast beef cooked with carrots, brown gravy, mashed potatoes, and cornbread… with real corn in it… and a bit of streusel on top. Felt like coming home to a big Sunday dinner and we couldn’t stop grinning at each other. We had no room for any one of the four desserts listed, but there’s always next time.

It’s been a heartbreaking week, and with more deaths and assaults of young Black men, I lack the stomach for watching the defense of George Floyd’s murderer. It pains everything I’ve got when people tell us we didn’t see what we saw, nor hear what we heard, nor do we recognize the evil that wears the killer’s skinsuit. It’s too much, all of it. Why do all the “accidents, mistakes, and errors in judgment” happen to Black people? A taser (8 oz.)… a gun (2 lbs.)… all same difference unless it’s a white person in the line of fire – then it matters. The anguish of Black mothers is gut-ripping, and even loving Anthony like I do I cannot register the depths of his mother’s love for him and his brothers and sisters, nor know her sleepless hours. It’s too much.

“I need to drive my two-year-old to daycare tomorrow morning. To ensure we arrive alive, we won’t take public transit (Oscar Grant). I removed all air fresheners from the vehicle and double-checked my registration status (Daunte Wright), and ensured my license plates were visible (Lt. Caron Nazario). I will be careful to follow all traffic rules (Philando Castille), signal every turn (Sandra Bland), keep the radio volume low (Jordan Davis), and I won’t stop at a fast food chain for a meal (Rayshard Brooks). I’m too afraid to pray (Rev. Clementa C. Pickney) so I just hope the car won’t break down (Corey Jones). When my wife picks him up at the end of the day, I’ll remind her not to dance (Elijah McClain), stop to play in a park (Tamir Rice), patronize the local convenience store for snacks (Trayvon Martin), or walk around the neighborhood (Mike Brown). Once they are home, we won’t stand in our backyard (Stephon Clark), eat ice cream on the couch (Botham Jean), or play any video games (Atatiana Jefferson). After my wife and I tuck him into bed around 7:30pm, neither of us will leave the house to go to Walmart (John Crawford) or to the gym (Tshyrand Oates) or on a jog (Ahmaud Arbery). We won’t even walk to see the birds (Christian Cooper). We’ll just sit and try not to breathe (George Floyd) and not to sleep (Breonna Taylor). These are things white people simply do not have to think about.”David Gray

“Today’s policing is nothing more than modern slave patrols.” -Bishop Talbert Swan

It’s.Too.Much.

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

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

I read this morning that Lawrence still has some 200 people living outside, sleeping rough, and that efforts are being made to alleviate that, in keeping with the tent city already operating in “midtown.” Living here heals us in ways we could never have asked for.

Safe shelter for those who have none.

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

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It’s a WINDsday… page 229

The Mothership seeks us… Kim Smith – 03/10/2021

Day 359 – 03/10/2021

Blustery and 65º at 8am, and the Weather Channel says 76º this afternoon, so spring’s getting fairly serious around here. We even have our first weather warning, downgraded from YIKES to maybe, for tonight:

We’re in there between Topeka & KC…

The sun’s out and the patient’s catching a few rays for the pallor – things are definitely looking up. Neither of our elevators will be functional for a part of the afternoon so this feels like a day to do whatever sounds good next, right here – the stairs from 1st to 4th wouldn’t be a fun trip right now.

Talked with Rita and she’s been out walking on the warmer days, even when she’s at risk of being blown into the river, so I have to kick it in the butt and get out there with her next week, a worthy incentive.

Not a lot of news, Diary, even for the sake of posterity. For now we’re savoring the peaceful easy feeling that emanates from the White House, and being thankful. Wednesday will mark a full year numerically since we came inside on March 12, 2021 and closed our door, coinciding with the day our COVID immunity will be reached after our 2nd shots. On the 359th day, it looks like THE YEAR THAT WAS might go out the way it came in… on kitten feet, ready to pounce, much like March itself is known to do. All seems quiet on the American Front this week, but appearances are not to be trusted, so who knows what’s bubbling under the lid. It would be fun to think that April 1st has no plans for making fools of us, but once bitten forever shy, and eyes wide open.

I love the fresh air from the balcony, and all the outdoor sounds. Spring will have a holiday feel this year… our numbers are looking excellent and the city’s ready to celebrate outside its doors… in safe and sane ways, right #lfk? Douglas County has recorded some 8,700 coronavirus cases, with 79 deaths… and we’ve had only two new cases since Monday. Living in the midst of a university medical community, not to mention the university itself, holds decided perks which pay off beautifully in a pandemic, or any other potential challenge, so there’s everything to be grateful for. People here are smart enough to know that life’s too ridiculous to be taken seriously, but you gotta do right or somebody will be leaving the world early. Just makes sense.

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March, dun-dun-dun-D’oh… page 224

Day 353 – 03/03/2021

It was Saturday a minute ago, and not only is it somehow Wednesday, but we’re into a whole new month! Just when you think there’s nothing going on, so you fall out for a nap…

Sunshine RULES and we’re scheduled for a lunch meeting in Cielito’s courtyard today. I’m pretty excited about wearing real clothes, sitting (distanced) among #lfk peeps, and eating hot food straight out of a restaurant kitchen. It’ll be worth writing home about.

Tomorrow will be a landmark, with our second shots happening. I felt every day of the year it took to get here, no embellishment needed – I’m ready for the freedom of spirit the vaccine will eventually provide. And I hope someday there’s a test that will tell me what’s been going on inside my system all year… but this is my theory:

We voluntarily sheltered on March 12th of 2020, and sometime within that first week I got sick with body pain, chills, sweats, nausea, and a cough that wouldn’t quit. After three weeks, most of the symptoms fell off, but the cough has persisted all year. When I got sick again the day after Christmas, all the symptoms came back gangbusters, and I lost my sense of taste and smell that time around, both thankfully back now. My first coronavirus vaccine made me ill for three days with symptoms identical to the previous two cycles, which makes me think I had antibodies standing at the ready to fight the invaders because I brought the ugly-ass thing in here with me when we locked down.

The week before we came inside, there was an incident at the indoor pool involving both the water and the dressing room, which had been “taken care of” before I went there the next day. Coronavirus was already in town so my ESPN tells me I picked it up somewhere inside the facility and brought it home with me, because I’d been almost nowhere else – we were already being careful.

I have questions:

  • If the virus (or SOME virus) has been living in my body for a year, WTF has kept Kim immune to it, with his asthma?!
  • Testing wasn’t really a thing here yet when I needed one the first time, and the test I got after Christmas came back negative versus Rita’s positive, yet we had all the same symptoms, down to the oddest details. I didn’t cry or even think about it when the tech swozzled my nose and I’m pretty sure she didn’t get to the goods, so will the past twelve months remain a mystery?
  • If the clear thick stuff that comes up (sorry, Diary) is out of my lungs, what are the future implications? Am I coming to the end of something or the beginning?
  • So okay, something’s not right, will there be a way to right it? Will there be a way to even know definitively what this is? If it isn’t COVID then I should probably see what else they got, ’cause this doesn’t seem inclined to let go. It’s cunning… hits hard for two or three days and then hides again. Taunts me… “Feeling great, huh? Gonna do all sorts of stuff, huh? We’ll see… “

I was more than ready to shelter last year because I GET EVERYTHING, I really didn’t want this one, and I was terrified of Kim getting it. Irony is everything… he zips in and out of places all year and breathes free, while I play church mouse through the whole thing and get the ‘rona or its evil twin anyway. But a thought occurs… since I do tend to attract gremlins, staying out of the social bloodstream has been the best thing I could have done for everybody, me included, for every reason. I instinctively knew it at the outset, but didn’t know all the reasons, not by far, and I’ll never regret taking the guidelines seriously – what if I’d been out there freely shedding virus amongst those I know and love, for months on end? What if? Even masked, I would have been a menace because the coughing does not stop. In hindsight, I’m likely the one who gave it to Rita – she’s almost the only person except for Kim that I’ve had extended closer-than-six-feet unmasked contact with in the last twelve months. And you, Kev – stay well, dude. Wow, small circle!

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Wednesday Weather… page 216

Mass Street #lfk – Kim Smith 02/17/2021

Day 339 – 02/17/2021

Fine snow is still falling, seemingly forever now, and it’s a balmy 7º at 6am, up from the double-digit minus-zero temps of the past week. Kim walked over to Mass Street to take a few photos hoping nobody had been out yet, but the City is always on the J.O.B. The prettiest spot is our parking lot so I guess he could have stayed closer to home. After steady snowfall for the past 72 hours or however long it’s been, there’s only a couple of inches of white on everything as proof – quirky weather event.

The extended deep freeze is taxing resources like heat, light, and internet, and companies are doing rolling blackouts in an effort to balance the grid. We were without internet and TV for a few hours yesterday, but haven’t been affected otherwise yet. KU has temporarily shut everything down over on The Hill due to unpredictable power and cold temps, and others are doing the same.

I’ve been back in COVID mode again for the past few days – I’m calling it BANCS, for Body Aches, Nausea, Chills, and Sweats -and if I ever see the end of it I’ll… frankly be shocked. Sleep is the only thing that helps – I don’t feel all that much better when I wake up, but while I’m out I can escape what’s happening for a few hours. It will wear itself out at some point, hopefully soon.

And now our skinny snow is getting fatter and coming down like it means it – such a pretty world sometimes.

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Beautiful day… page 207

Alley of the Long Shadows, where the slow-walkers meet.Kim Smith 01/2021

Day 325 – 02/03/2021

The earth’s tilt and rotation are bringing sunlight to us sooner every morning, my body clock is resetting, and I wake up when Kim does, ready for a day, which feels awesome. Since he finished his walk in full light this morning an earlier start will be in order tomorrow. It’s supposed to be sunny and almost 60º this afternoon, so Rita and I might go out to the Arboretum and walk around the lakes – sounds like a winner to be outside for awhile.

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

And it WAS. The lakes and little waterfalls are looking good, and all the benches we checked out were comfy in the sun. Tomorrow starts a 10-day stretch of cold temps so if we’d carelessly squandered an afternoon like this one, it wouldn’t have spoken well for our upbringing.

My happy world has space for only one rant today, expressed in the words of Twitter friends:

A 9-year-old child was treated with more force than the insurrectionists.

Think about that… a child in distress, crying for her father, was abused and pepper sprayed, while those staging a coup took selfies like they were at DisneyWorld and went home unhindered. -Lisa M.

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

What is systemic racism? When a 9-year-old Black child gets handcuffed and assaulted with a chemical agent, while the courts decide if the QShaman gets organic food in prison. -Call Me G

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

A nine-year-old Black girl has a breakdown and gets handcuffed and pepper-sprayed in the back of a police car.

A grown white woman storms the Capitol during a violent insurrection which leads to five people dying, and she gets a vacation in Mexico. -Red

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

It’s all about pigmentation. -JSmith

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But we’ll sing in the sunshine, we’ll laugh every day… it’s in the contract.

Photo Credit: Kim Smith 02/03/2021

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