Anxious joys…

Parts of life are categorically easier to understand from the backside, after we’ve slogged our way through and survived. Even at that, it requires a practiced and fairly jaundiced eye to look back and spot the things that have attached themselves to us like barnacles since before we were even cognizant. Once we see them, we can start flicking them into oblivion where they’ll finally shrivel and die… so the hard look back isn’t optional if we’re after freedom and good health.

Anxiety is one sneaky little barnacle that latches on, multiplies, and wreaks havoc under the surface, very often evading detection for decades while creating an intricate network of damage. Anxiety attaches to us in any number of ways, encouraging the negative things that happen to us to sink into the tiny cracks in our psyches… and we’re off and running on our human adventure of wanting everything, questioning everything, making mistakes, winning, losing, feeling inadequate, hoping against hope for it all to turn out right. And all the while, we just KNOW we’re the only one who feels this lonely, this ‘out there,’ this crazy and lost. We’re the only neurotic in our own world and anxiety has a field day with us. So exhausting, amirite? Anxiety is a hard taskmaster, and also a liar.

ANXIETY…

  • tells us that if we have a commitment on a given day, everything has to be ordered around that commitment, with all available hours given to preparing for it, mentally and physically
  • tells us we have to pee ALL THE TIME, even if we JUST DID. SO much peeing, so much energy expended
  • anxiety says to always be early, never late
  • says to always try to be nice, never disagreeable
  • says to us that nothing is ever enough, no perfect result is ever really that, no effort on our part in any direction suffices
  • tells us on a loop that our awkwardness is ample reason not to inflict ourselves on an undeserving public
  • tells us it’s a blessing to be seen but not heard, and an even greater blessing to remain unseen
  • says there are things we don’t know, will never know, wouldn’t grasp if someone tried to show us

*****

After thinking about all that… a lot… I’m having this made into a button:

Genius by Birth, Slacker by Choice

because I’m flat out of energy for barnacles… and there’s this:

I just want me to like me.

Anxiety isn’t a welcome presence, and the way it skews perceptions is criminal, so if this link proves helpful to someone I’ll be glad I left it here…

https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/6-powerful-brain-hacks-to-cope-with-anxiety-every-.html

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Are you old enough?

A lovely guest post…

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The mystery of Monday…

Mondays are ridiculous in retirement because what’s the difference? And yet… our psyches have long been conditioned to know that Friday night to Monday morning IS different, feels different, settles down into us in singular ways; therefore, Mondays feel sleepier and less motivated than most other weekdays, and more susceptible to random naps. I’ll take that…

We have a temporary cool-down outside, from a high of 97º yesterday to a forecast 79º later today – somebody’s dyslexic and it’s very sweet. I wore my granny cardigan on the balcony this morning, but my feet were bare – summer’s here! That doesn’t seem quite real this year, but time doesn’t lie… or so they say…

We’ll have things going on this week and next, and then just like that it’ll be JULY. I remember setting an optimistic goal of July 4th for getting fully vaccinated – and repaired as much as possible – to be ready for life when it returned. It’s happening, we’re here, our community and life around the country are making a comeback, and it feels right and good. The flipside is that too much of the world is still suffering from the pandemic and too many world citizens are still fighting the fixes, but I’m encouraged by the smart people all around me and in leadership, so this Monday morning is going down as a win on the books. I’d rather win every time, I like winning, winning feels excellent. But a friend told me you can’t win ’em all, so some of the victories have to be on the inside. When I kick a blue mood to the curb, when I decide not to think about who’s happy to be free of me, when I feel sorry for myself a teensy little bit and then know I’m an idiot for it… those are wins, dammit, a person can build on those. Watch me. 😂 The sun’s peeking through the cloud cover now, I can do this.

If you’ve ever wished you didn’t care… wished you could make the important things not matter… wished you could turn off, drop out, take a mental hiatus until things come right again… don’t. Don’t wish it, and don’t wish away how it all makes you feel. Life keeps right on going and we’re better off if we go with it, willingly and with some sense of where it might be taking us, though we’re blind in the face of the unknown. We don’t have the luxury of dropping out – life simply doesn’t last that long, even though a random Monday can seem never-ending…

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We carry on…

It was a fun weekend, resulting in a train of thought that’s still on the tracks this morning… and the main nugget is that the hum and swirl of American life rises out of a rich network of subcultures thrumming with energy and heart. Some of our societal microcosms are readily visible on the surface, with signs and symbols we know at a glance… service organizations like the Lions Club; religious groupings; a worldwide fellowship for magicians; the Hell’s Angels; and a club for every possible area of human interest under the sun. Saturday night we got to meet a subculture we previously knew almost nothing about – the world of gyms and cage fighting. When you “know a guy,” you go there.

A young veteran we love and respect owns a gym in the KC area with some other people including his wife, and in the interest of positive advertising, physical fitness, and pure badassery, he’s fought his way to professional status and a spot just under the headliner on the card… so it was time we saw the show for ourselves. A sweltering hot evening, long lines of fans, huge fairgrounds pavilion with big open windows, BBQ, drinks, a light-show going on, music that was primarily heavy-duty vibrations felt from the feet up, long tables arranged concentrically with ends toward the cage, and chairs designed by Satan himself for maximum torture. Knew I was gonna be in trouble, but I wasn’t missing this, even though the undercard consisted of something like fourteen fights before it was our man’s turn. And it was great – we were with friends who are family and everything was laughter and hugs and a feeling I’d forgotten over the past eighteen months… belonging. I found myself doing things I vowed I’d “never do again,” like sip a sistah’s drink when offered, shake hands, hug people face to face, laugh and talk unmasked in a public gathering… but almost three months of being fully vaccinated, plus our negligible transmission rate, makes all the difference. The people-watching was sublime – no worries about the generations coming up, America… they’re beautiful.

Kim has taught me a lot about boxing, which was of absolutely no use in this venue – the action is fast and furious, three 3-minute rounds, and there may have been only one match that lasted through two. Most of the amateur matches were over in under a minute, with someone either knocked out or tapping out, followed by hugs and camaraderie all ’round. These guys fight out of various gyms and mostly know each other, and the whole operation, under the glitz and glitter, is squeaky clean, everybody checked again before entering the cage, everything recorded and monitored. That said, there’s a thing in all of us that loves a winner, and we can turn primitive in a heartbeat when that’s on the line. I can still scream with the loudest of them, and I welcomed every chance to stand up outta that chair. A colossal thank you to DM Bruce Associates for their co-sponsorship of the night and their sweet hospitality to us as always.

Our man Deron “The Pharaoh” Carlis won by knockout in the 2nd round and walked away unmarked, so the evening was a total upper, and when we came home after 10:30, 8th Street was all lights and people, with the streetside dining areas full. We hope the city will let those stay open all summer!

When the light goes… when life dies down to an ember… it’s easy to think it might be finished, never coming back, never the same again. But being in that pavilion on Saturday night, with people from all over the NE corner of Kansas, having Deron’s (ridiculously young) parents come over to hug us, and seeing other people we’ve met since moving here, full of happiness and hugs, was a little revelation: I still need other humans, they aren’t all impossible to communicate with, and it feels good to care. Who knew cage fighting could do all that?

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Zen for the Third Trimester of Living

It’s a sunny Monday, there are actual butterflies outside my window, and I’m feeling all charitable and positive-y, blessed be. The morning walker brought me a nice warm Everything bagel, made a fresh pot of coffee, and started the day/week with hugs, so I already owe him AND the universe, meaning a good attitude is the very least I can do, and it’s so simple on the good days…

My fav RN and I had a text convo this morning that touched a little on what I’m sharing now, in the sense that one way to survive in a whacked-out world is via a simple formula: Get in, do your job, get out, live your life. This piece of writing, found unattributed, provides a fairly decent manifesto for doing that at this stage:

I asked a friend who has crossed 70 and is heading towards 80 what sort of changes she’s feeling in herself. She sent me the following:

1.   After loving my parents, my siblings, my spouse, my children, and my friends, I have now started loving myself.

2.   I have realized that I am not “Atlas.” The world does not rest on my shoulders.

3.   I have stopped bargaining with vendors. A few pennies more is not going to break me, but it might help the poor guy save for his daughter’s school fees.

4.  I leave my waitress a big tip. The extra money might bring a smile to her face. She’s working much harder for a living than I am.

5.  I stopped telling the elderly that they’ve already narrated that story many times. The story makes them walk down memory lane & relive their past.

6.  I have learned not to correct people even when I know they are wrong. The onus of making everyone perfect is not on me. Peace is more precious than perfection.

7.   I give compliments freely and generously. Compliments are a mood enhancer not only for the recipient but also for me. And a small tip for the recipient of a compliment: never, NEVER turn it down, just say “Thank you.”

8.   I have learned not to bother about a crease or a spot on my shirt. Personality speaks louder than appearances.

9.   I walk away from people who don’t value me. They might not know my worth, but I do.

10.   I remain cool when someone plays dirty to outrun me in the rat race. I am not a rat and neither am I in any race.

11.   I am learning not to be embarrassed by my emotions. It’s my emotions that make me human.

12.   I have learned that it’s better to drop the ego than to break a relationship. My ego will keep me aloof, whereas, with relationships, I will never be alone.

13.   I have learned to live each day as if it’s the last. After all, it might be the last.

14.   I am doing what makes me happy. I am responsible for my happiness, and I owe it to myself. Happiness is a choice. You can be happy at any time, just choose to be!

Author unknown but appreciated

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

Smile, be kind, take in a little happiness… it befuddles the naysayers and makes children and old people feel better.

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Monday’s never late…

Kim woke me up just after 7am yesterday so I could enjoy the rain, lightning, and thunder, and the waterworks have never really stopped for long since… it’s the soaker we’ve needed. He potted most of his summer plants last week and they’re loving this – all those rainy nutrients for their roots to marinate in. There are showers in the forecast for much of the week ahead, but when the sun does return these little guys will be bursting with life, which is exactly what we need all over the place.

Note to Self: Burst with life at your first opportunity.

Self: Tall order, but maybe by lunchtime.

My friend Leigh said it perfectly: “No bright sun, must have quiet, coffee, meds, food, etc… till I feel like I’m human again. It’s a process, please proceed with caution.”

It’s wet and gray outside, and not necessarily conducive to rising and shining… but the green, green trees, stretching to the horizon, look like a rain forest… the neighborhood is sleepy and quiet… and the flowers on the balcony are shaking it off, getting ready for sunshine. I’d hate to be found less sensitive to inspiration than a petunia, so I’d best do the same. Ready for ya’, Monday…

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And now it’s Monday…

It was a windy, rainy Sunday but happy and cozy all up in here, and I heard from my claim to motherhood first thing, working the holiday to help cover for all the moms, sons, and daughters who called out for the day. There was a perfect omelet and a spa soak… a Royals-White Sox game (we lost, but baseball is Zen even on a bad day)… peach malt smoothies… veggie lasagna for dinner… and I’m seeing a definite festive food pattern here.

A belated Happy Mom’s Day to all who signed up in any way.

Speaking of parenthood… the concept has somehow worked, after a fashion, down through the millenia, without improving massively during that time. It’s still a nebulous proposition, given that the scenario is always an original. First-time Mother Human meets new Baby Human, and neither has a clue, so they do the best they can with what they know at the time. Later, they realize they could have done better with more knowledge and experience… but since it doesn’t work that way, we’re all golden if we live through it and end up friends. I call that a win, and my job is to care for the relationship.

Nurturing each other, from inside or outside the confines of family, requires a compassion that takes in the whole picture, isn’t easily come by, and is always costly in some way.

My first instinct is to try to understand where someone’s coming from, in the interest of real communication, but after 25 years, I’m admitting defeat in the face of fascism’s propaganda arm, whose steady onslaught of conspiracy theories and general nonsense has been unrelenting and stops intelligent conversation in its tracks. Its presence in the world is an oppressive gray curtain, masking and obscuring clarity and truth, seemingly impenetrable after a quarter-century. It astounds me that they’re still in business… until I remember the 71 million keeping them there.

The Pro Wrestling of news…

There are clearly limits and roadblocks to human understanding, but given even half a chance I’ve been known to try for it anyway. It’s the Pollyanna in me that won’t quit, and in the face of pandemics and upheavals… no apologies.

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Lurching toward spring… page 232

Day 364 – 03/15/2021

I slept ’til 8am, thus messing with Mother Nature by recovering my lost hour from Daylight Saving Time. HA!! Thumbs nose, laughs, trips over a space heater, ponders a lost jigger of salt.

It’s a Monday again… and who knows? We did finally get our downpours yesterday… all afternoon… and now we head into a week of mixed reviews – wet or dry, chilly or warm, breezy or still. Sounds like life as we know it.

Kim picked Marcelo up at 11am yesterday and they blew town. Rita brought lunch and a cold bottle of Praia, and Seth & Adam stopped by shortly after with the beautiful remains of Warren’s birthday cake, a 3-layer cocoa dream made by Adam. We were all still laughing around the table when Kim showed up, making it a true party – he’s missed those guys all year.

Life halted last March with a decisive act – we came inside and symbolically closed our door to any and all invaders, and I promised myself I’d stay out of the public fray until some sort of ALL CLEAR happened. Tomorrow I will have kept my promise, and that means something to me after watching so many people break their word at every opportunity. I’m in no rush to get out there, but knowing I can do it now with a clear conscience is cool. We’ve had both shots and we’ll stay masked for the foreseeable, but I’m making a list:

  • Barbershop
  • Pedi
  • Dentist
  • Chiro
  • Pain Doc

I think Kim’s list says “PLAY PICKLEBALL” and “RIDE BIKE,” but we should both be ready for prime time by the 4th.

Life stopped with little warning… and we adjusted. As life returns to our community and the world, we’re being afforded grace to meet it as it comes, a little at a time… and this feels better. Fourth of July it is, then, a fitting Independence Day and a worthy goal.

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Monday, but not blue… page 219

Day 344 – 02/22/2021

It was a good weekend. Rita came over and watched the Jayhawks beat Texas Tech with us, and Kim made tamales, street tacos, beans & rice and all the other stuff for lunch – fun, happy afternoon. Sunday was the two of us all day, with the TV on low and ambitions the same. Which brings us to Monday, full of sunshine, and the week ahead is looking like this:

Almost 70º tomorrow, OMG!!

Sunlight changes everything, as Pluto, in its distance, is acutely aware – the sun’s warmth makes everything doable. Not wishing time away, but when spring arrives I’ll feel like I’ve been sprung from the slammer. We get our second shots on the 4th, and two weeks after that we shouldn’t be a threat to man nor beast so a semblance of “out & about” might start happening. Kim’s been out a lot during the pandemic, but not about – just all the shopping, and playing PickleBall under strict guidelines – so things will get better for both of us.

Over the past year, though, I’ve finally settled into the happy loneliness that’s always been who I am, and it’s good.

And the simple truth is…

It’s not that I so value my own company, but I feel better when I’m not inflicting myself on unsuspecting humans.

Haven’t seen much of the ‘rona since the last flare, but my relationship with food is still iffy. I’ll be feeling right as rain, sit down to a meal I love, and my stomach turns on me… but less often every day, and that’s good news because food’s one of the second-best things about life.

Kim has a full day outside the walls and I’ve ticked several things off my list this morning – I’m letting the sunshine soak into my soul, and maybe tomorrow my bones.

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Frozen… page 215

Day 337 – 02/15/2021

We spent Valentine weekend in here where it’s warm, while dehydrated ice-snow fell continually without adding much to the accumulation. The layer of white on the balcony never melts, it just evaporates around the edges into the dry frigid air while more floats downward… and now I’m seeing small drifts out there. Real-feel temps are in the minus 20s, or so I’m told – I haven’t stuck my head outside in days. We watched the wrap-up of the Senate “trial” on Saturday and devoted the rest of the time to good food, Netflix, and a happy attitude. Sweet weekend.

So yeah… that’s done. Not finished, just over. It would have required a mass Come To Jesus event for conviction, so we knew where it would go. “It is what it is, he’s going to go through some things, but he knew what he signed up for.” Time to let Joe Biden help America get well, and leave Donald Trump to the criminal court system. It will take skilz, though, for the rest of us to successfully navigate a culture where just under half the people still want what he was bringing.

Now that Douglas County’s COVID numbers are trending downward and vaccines are getting into arms, there’s a place open for PickleBall three mornings a week, so Kimmers 4-wheeled it over there today. Pretty sure the nine players who showed up felt like kids let out of school, if his chipper mood is any indicator. It currently feels -22º out, I just saw a couple walking, faces into the snow and wind, and the thought of being in their shoes makes me want to cry. I wish the world could be a safe and warm environment for all living things. Dear ol’ Pollyanna.

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Peace is good… page 205

Day 323 – 02/01/2021

Our orbit and trajectory have brought us again to Monday, which differs from the weekend in terms of TV schedules, food, and guilt about being worthless bums… but not a lot else. Some of the irritations that once made me dread Mondays would almost be welcome distractions at this point. Almost. We have plenty ahead of us to think about, so I’m sticking with solitude for some time yet. It’s okay, even curative, and I’m not unaware of its benefits.

We spent a few hours with Rita yesterday in her cozy place, and that was mos def curative – best medicine since Christmas, and she doesn’t disrupt my inner solitude a bit.

In a world defined by conflict and upheaval, I know this much is true…

… so yeah, workin’ on that, but when your heart looks like this, it’s all uphill…

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

I asked Kim if this is what he ordered, and got the affirmative nod I expected and would have been crushed without…

It’s good to be Queen

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There’s still truth… page 186

Photo Credit: Kim Smith 01/10/2021

Day 302 – 01/11/2021

Took a news break for most of the weekend and that was a good decision – insurrection, sedition, and treason take time to process. It’s a lot to absorb and new information comes out every hour.

If people were angered by the street riots in 2020 and blamed it on everyone but the actual instigators of the violence… but those same people see the attempted coup at the Capitol as noble and right… then we come from two separate tribes. In which case it’s fine if we never run into each other again in this life – we don’t speak the same language. A friend shared this four years ago, and if I change Clinton to Biden it all still applies.

Qanon made their practice strikes against statehouses around the country with January 6th in mind, saw that they weren’t being stopped because they were 99% white male, and declared the coup on our Capitol a GO. It was very much an inside job, with maps and directions provided for finding hidden offices within the complex. Some carried zip-tie handcuffs and were calling for Mike Pence’s head as they burst through the doors. Nobody was arrested for the plot to kidnap and murder Michigan’s governor, so hey, carte blanche! Let’s do what we came here to do! People died that day, including a young policeman who was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher. Another was beaten with an American flag… and a third was thrown over a railing in the Capitol. How’s that Blue Lives Matter thing workin’, I wonder. Democracy didn’t die, not that day, not any day soon because America fought back, but we’ll have to keep doing that – the terrorists are plotting additional attacks for the 17th and the 20th and beyond. Anybody awake yet?

The war is far from over but people more interested in immunity are already pushing for unity. You don’t make common cause with traitors, sorry.

These are not the heroes we’ve been waiting for, these misguided, low-information, absurdly outfitted white men who smeared feces in the Capitol hallways, urinated on carpets, and tore hell out of everything they could get their hands on. They aren’t brave, they aren’t abused, and they aren’t right. They’re just white. And the world has always belonged to them, damn it, and they’ve had all they want of this equality idea, so women and children stand back! Their leader could tell them anything at this point and they’d charge forward again. They’re a dangerous mob looking for direction.

Important note to self on a Monday morning:

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Still alive… page 178

Day 288 – 12/28/2020

I’m back, Diary friend, did you miss me? Whatever it was that hit me after Christmas took me out of the game for a while. Saturday was a no-sleep night due to body pain, and yesterday was a wash, but I’m none the worse for wear this morning. It felt like a reaction to Wednesday’s SI-joint injection – she gave me the max dosage this time and the pain was mostly waist to toes with off-the-chart readings in the tush area, but Rita had nearly the same experience the day before Thanksgiving minus the steroids, so how would I know? There’s stuff out there everywhere, things happen, human schematics are complicated, and I’ve lived with a wonky system since I first saw daylight, so just another anomaly to ponder.

Obviously, sickness of any kind is never a welcome guest, and less so now, especially until it shows its credentials. “What are you and where did you come from? What’s your intent? Don’t be COVID.” Waking up to sunshine this morning, back to whoever I am most of the time, called for putting the four walls in the rearview mirror for a while, so I put on real clothes, meaning top, bottom, plus bra and shoes – and we took the red flyer for a run to blow the cobs out. Saw another actual human and carried on a three-way conversation – a total delight even with masks… starting to forget how things were. Had a good drive, absorbed that free-as-a-bird vibe again, cracked each other up, picked up lunch and brought it home, and I’m calling this a good day at half-time.

When you’re staring life in the face, which seems only prudent, staying in touch with your inner Pollyanna is a benefit rather than a detriment. She may be an idealist and a cockeyed optimist, but she ain’t crazy and she’ll get you through.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith 12/27/2020

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The halfway point… page 172

Day 281 – 12/21/2020

It’s the Winter Solstice already… and here in the bleak midwinter we’re getting a handful of nice days. Kim’s likely to play at least four hours of PickleBall today between the two parks, so his Monday’s looking good. I just might put on actual clothes and go hang out with Rita for a while…

Mr. Dan Rather and I are entirely on the same page today. Seeing Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, et.al., step to the front of the line for their COVID-19 vaccinations has been odious when millions of frontline healthcare workers, living in the midst of the virus for nine months, have not yet been protected. Same for teachers and ALL essential personnel. The person in the presidential seat of power, despite his denial and chicanery… I’ll begrudgingly give you that one. Incoming electeds, for sure. But these congressional a-holes who consider it their god-given right to always be first have shredded any willingness on my part toward forgiveness, let alone respect. They’ve done nothing but obstruct, cut funds, cut corners, blatantly lie to America, remain silent to this day while the virus wreaks havoc in the nation, but have the gall to say “I’ll take mine NOW.” They’re beneath contempt.

Or, in Jeff’s words…

Apropos… Marco Rubio quotes scripture incessantly on Twitter and elsewhere… and that’s pretty much all he does.

The ignorance, willful or otherwise, of those who continue to stand behind them, top to bottom, is stunning. Soul-crushing. How have we not realized the depth and width of the divide until now? It took a madman to show us who we are, and half the country is happy about it. Really scary.

Yup, definitely going to Rita’s…

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Hey, it’s Monday… page 165

Day 274 – 12/14/2020

It was 16º out when Kim got up so he postponed his walk and turned the heat on for the first time – the fireplace has been handling it okay ’til now but the cold made it all the way inside overnight. It’s the height of privilege to sit here in my little world with a silent space heater keeping my toes warm while I commune with friends online, read the latest news long enough to raise my heart rate, sip my coffee, and stay outta everybody’s face while Kim fills the spa tub. My self-orbit affirms that we humans really aren’t worth all the effort.

Sweet surprise this morning – Katie (cousin) called to wish me a Merry Christmas, catch up a little, and ask for directions. Emily & Savannah (daughter & granddaughter) are in Dodge City, America, of all places, on their way west and want to find the farm where Katie’s and my grandparents homesteaded and where I grew up, along with the family cemetery. Confusion and hilarity ensued for 15 minutes as Katie, in Florida, typed directions into her phone while I reconstructed the miles in my head. I think we ended up with a usable map but I’m also pretty sure Savannah will Google Earth it and they’ll be golden. Can’t wait to hear the………. rest of the story. And hopefully see some pics – I don’t know when I last saw the old neighborhood.

A cool find this morning – we had relatives in Sheboygan, and after visiting there when I was 3 or 4 years old the name became a treasured part of my vocabulary. Sheboygan… so delicious to say.

Strong waves at the lakefront, Saturday, December 12, 2020, in Sheboygan, Wis.

Routine used to be a four-letter word to me but with only upheaval everywhere I’m seeing its better side, which is comfort. Today’s Monday so I know what we’re having for lunch and that The Voice 2020 wraps up tonight and tomorrow, which is Tuesday so I know what we’re having for lunch then, too. The Amazing Race finale happens Wednesday night, and I’m not bothered by the fact that I have no idea what food I’ll be stuffing into my face that day. Space… options… comfort.

Comfort… that would be this man right here. I posted his picture the other day holding an elderly patient who was crying for his wife. Everyday heroes taking it to the stratosphere.

This is my 274th day isolating, starting in mid-March. For every one of those days I’ve spent in my perfectly great space whining and fretting, with tiny forays to see Rita or keep a doctor’s appointment, this human being has been at the hospital. His license plate reads CVD HNTR. Dr. Joseph Varon, a 58-year-old physician and chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, has been hunting covid-19 for 270 days straight. He has not had a single day off since March. “I was meant to do this,” he says.

From The Washington Post: “Born and raised in Mexico City, and with specialties in pneumonology, intensive care, internal medicine and geriatrics, Varon was particularly well-equipped to wage war against a virus that has killed more than 290,000 Americans.” [Now over 300,000, post-WP publication.] His personal experiences, he said, prepared him for this moment.

In 1985, he was working as an intern in one of Mexico City’s largest hospitals when an 8.1-magnitude earthquake leveled the building. He watched many of his colleagues die that day. “I have seen disaster up front all of my life,” he said. “The only thing that scares me is corona” — a disease he calls “short-term AIDS” — and its unpredictability.

Mid-interview, Varon had to duck out. He followed up with a text: “I just admitted 6 covid patients in the past 60 minutes,” he wrote. “It is absolute madness.”

As the medical staff at UMCC witnessed the psychological effects of isolation in patients, Varon instructed staff to wear large photographs of their faces hung around their necks, so that patients could recognize the person who was caring for them behind those “space suits.” One day, he went in to see patients with a picture of Brad Pitt attached to his personal protective equipment suit, eliciting laughter from even those who were the sickest.

“Other doctors stay behind the lines, they do not get their hands dirty,” said Tanna Ingraham, an ICU nurse at UMCC hospital, who was also hospitalized with covid-19 for 12 days. “He is totally hands-on and treats every single one of his patients as if they were his family members.”

Everyday heroes… 💙

Today, December 14, 2020, clusters of everyday heroes are gathering in State Houses across the country to do the right thing on behalf of democracy, speaking in the prevailing voice of the American people. We will owe them our future and our lives.

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