Dear Diary…

Tuesday, January 18, 2022 is a day for the record books, by which I mean mine personally. We saw my neurosurgeon today for my one-month follow-up and all is well. He removed all my staples and stitches, which alone makes for a comfier existence, said everything is on schedule, and told us that the surgery could not possibly have gone better. I was hoping for a spa soak, but that’s still another month out, so I’ll get over it and press onward. I’ll be walking, walking, walking until the 3-month mark when he’ll reassess and decide what to assign next. For now, I think he’s given me ten extra years, and I thanked him for paying the price to be where he is, doing what he does, because he’s changing lives.

Time has lost all meaning over the past two years, but especially in the sequence of events we just experienced. By all rights I should still be at least three weeks out, waiting for surgery, but since the KIMN8R (on a hint from Rita) asked that I be put on a wait-list I ended up having my first consult with Dr. Carlson six weeks sooner than my original appointment, and then a woman scheduled for my exact procedure cancelled, with surgical team in place, so I inherited her spot. Thus, surgery was already done and I was home from the hospital a week ahead of my originally-scheduled visit. Therefore… we missed the main onslaught of Omicron and made it back to the cave before the devil even knew we were out.

There are things in life that really are supposed to happen, and once they get rolling you could barely stop them if you tried. It feels like I closed my eyes on fifty years of pain, surrendered my body to science, and woke up in a world I’d almost forgotten. I dropped the opioids at the end of week one, parked the walker, and haven’t looked back… life is never over until it’s over and I’m ready for more of it. Only time will tell if the pain’s going to move up my spine to the other wonky disks, but for now the real problem’s been fixed, the nerve pain has disappeared, and I’m moving unless something stops me, which doesn’t seem quite real yet, although black & white does have a way of bringing things home…

TRIGGER WARNING: Bones and hardware

So that’s how things are looking at L5/S1 around these parts, folks, and we’re callin’ it progress. Hoping for an early spring…

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Forever…

Oh hi, just me here, thinking about stuff again. We emerged yesterday from ten days of frigid temps, snow, fog, and rain… by which I mean all of 2022 thus far… so today’s high near 60º will feel like a holiday. We may get to enjoy a couple days’ worth before the cold asserts itself again, and this reminder of spring is tantalizing. However… 

… BACK, that is.

A thought: I have three partial rolls of Forever stamps in a caddy on my desk. Considering the number of pieces of snail mail we send in a year’s time, that may be how long they last – forever. The post office will be a distant memory and someone will find these sticky tokens, and wonder… and if that turns out to be the most puzzling artifact in my house, I will have dodged a number of bullets.

If you’re looking for an exquisite read, I recommend The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles. There were passages that literally took my breath away, left me in tears, transported my winter carcass out of the cave. It’s a compelling, layered story beautifully told.

From the sublime to the ridiculous… I see this morning that “urine” is still trending on Twitter because all over America people who think they’re part of a master race are drinking their own pee. Horse meds with a piss chaser for “treating” COVID, as opposed to vaccines… anything to own the other half. This is actually where we find ourselves at the start of Pandemic, Year Three. I can step back, separate myself from all of it, and muse about the implications until ever-present reality steps in again and I want to circle the wagons for protection and support… and then I realize people I used to turn to aren’t there anymore and aren’t invested in what’s up. The shock of that knowledge has worn off, but the ache never leaves.

And then I come across other news and facts, and have to face it that the ridiculous is totally in vogue right now.

DISCLAIMER: The law has not yet been instituted, but it’s on the books.

Ready or not, sublime or ridiculous, we’re swimming in the waters of a new year, human-ing and hoping for the best. Each of us has challenges to meet, unique to us but universal to the race, and that’s where our hearts and minds will be. The year 2022 will inevitably be a stretch in ways we have yet to envision, so I hope we’ll all experience some “outside myself” moments, some chances to be there for someone else, to make those small differences that make ALL the difference. And if we find ourselves with softer hearts when (if) 2023 rolls around, we will have won something important.

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Old(er), not old. Age, like sex, happens 99% in the brain.

And that brings us full-circle back to forever, which we all wish belonged to us and maybe does, we’re just not sure how or where. Seems like an okay idea to live like it’s a fact… with everybody’s forever in mind.

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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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Broken world…

a_broken_world_by_elsilencio-d3735pv

the world got broken

we weren’t sure that could that really happen

but it did and now

we’ll probably get blamed

JSmith 12/07/2021

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What’s the story?

When we sheltered from COVID-19 in March of 2020, I took for granted I’d be staving off cabin fever by reading some of the many books from my never-ending list, but it didn’t exactly work out that way. Those months turned out to be very much like dealing with the death of a loved one, and instead of feeling energized by voluntary captivity and freed to pursue any and all interests, I found myself in grief mode, focus lost, drifting with the hours. I did try repeatedly to get into a book, but after the third or fourth romp through a paragraph I had to drop it every time.

Sometime this spring my damped-down psyche woke up and said “What’s to read around here, anyway??” and it’s been a steady parade since. OMG, welcome home, my BFF, I missed you like deserts miss the rain, please don’t do that again, ‘k?

Since once again becoming [TRIGGER WARNING: Buzz word] “woke,” I’ve read:

She Come By It Natural – Sarah Smarsh

The Year She Left Us – Kathryn Ma

11/22/63 – Stephen King

A Widow for One Year – John Irving

Women Talking – Miriam Toews

The 19th Wife – David Ebershoff

In the Distance – Hernán Díaz

American Woman – Susan Choi

After the Fire – Henning Mankell & Marlaine Delargy

All the Beautiful Girls – Elizabeth J. Church

The Beekeeper of Aleppo – Christy Lefteri

Alice I Have Been – Melanie Benjamin

Among the Missing – Dan Chaon

The Atomic Weight of Love – Elizabeth J. Church

The Bean Trees – Barbara Kingsolver

Current read is Billy Bathgate and the jury is still out, but all of the above I would recommend without hesitation. I’ve likely managed to leave out a few, but the joy is that I haven’t been without a book underway in months, and that’s progress I can respect. We’re in the thankful season, and I’m deeply grateful that good books are still part of my daily life, and that the thrill of aging and the joy of reading are still friends.

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It’s just Tuesday…

Saturday was a beautiful day so we spent a lot of it on the balcony. Sometime mid-afternoon, Kim said “What’s that fluttery noise I keep hearing?” And then he stood up, looked over the north railing, and muttered “Oh, shit. Oh, holy shit.” My ESPN told me right off we were in trouble but I didn’t know what I’d see down on ground level. Muddy water was gushing out of the ground on both sides of our entryway and from several spots in the parking lot, rapidly coating everything in its path with sand, clay, and silt. When I first looked over the railing I thought the water was pouring out of our lobby doors, and I could imagine it sluicing down the elevator shafts into the parking garage and storage cages, among other thoughts. Kim got our building manager here ASAP and it turns out it was the city’s fire line that broke, which isn’t good but does let us keep our house water on – fortunate, because this will take a while. There was a broken pipe earlier out by the street, so since yesterday we’ve had guys here running fun-size machinery to trench out the whole line, and Pa is entertained. Even with the jackhammering it isn’t all that loud, so we have to wonder how big a sponge the parking lot has become and we hope no one drops a backhoe into a sinkhole.

Down to about half-force at this point.
Kim & Kevin Cheney (bldg mgr) deciding how to handle the mud piling up against the garage’s overhead door.
Waiting for the City to come shut the rest of it down.
The entry’s boarded up like there’s been a bank robbery, and all the concrete has been dug out of the walkway, so progress. There are bad pipes in there somewhere, and something wonky out in the parking, so hey, free entertainment while it lasts

Speaking of “free” and “entertainment,” I stole a bunch of stuff from my friend Steve Gelder this morning because I can use the smiles and he just carelessly leaves it all lying around on Facebook anyway…

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Seriously.
It’s all in there, I just need a system for accessing it when I want it!
Who of us cannot say the same thing?

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Happy Tuesday! Steve did the work, I did that thing I do (theft), and we can all just smile for a while…

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Yay, it… was Monday…

Which means that the haircut I missed on the 4th, already weeks late at that point, happens TODAY. Right, universe? Today? No shenanigans involving ERs and cardiac units, especially with Kim out of town this morning. Just gonna walk right through the cut and… get this mess cut. Too easy. Except that it wasn’t. And doesn’t life have a sense of humor… or something. The artiste who’s trying to tame this 3rd-trimester-of-life fright wig had a medical emergency of her own yesterday! For real. I assured her I won’t die from too much hair on my head, she’s hopefully recovering well today, and the big-hair experiment over here continues…

The weather was perfect yesterday – not hot, not windy, not too much of anything, just right – and that’s always a gift in the middle of August. The little things are everything, with the state of our existence now permanently in flux. Cooler weather… the bagel on the counter when I woke up… the blessed quiet in the house… it’s an all-day list. The best little gift I’ve given myself in recent months has been shutting the door on TV news. There are entire days when the screen is black until the evening sportsing and frolicking, and it’s… just good. I read the straight skinny most days from bona fide feeds… and breathe. I thought I’d miss being dialed in, go through withdrawal, cheat-watch, be in a crappy mood. What happened was I immediately forgot all about it, not because I’m pre-CRS but because my psyche was primed and ready to shed itself of the daily wear and tear. I’m not shirking any responsibilities as a citizen, I’m still engaged, still aware, just processing information differently. It’s all about managing the spaghetti and the waffles.

DISCLAIMER: Since “happy and at peace” doesn’t mean lobotomized, the following is true…

And by the time I get my hair cut we’ll be twins.

I love you, life, don’t quit me now.

And a little something fun for the kiddos…

mornings are for baking
evenings are for beer
middays are for taking naps
it happens daily here

life is good no matter what
and does go on and on
when you treat it with respect
it carries you along

tradition can be stilting
routine can grind your gears
but a balanced life will roll along
'twixt the baking and the beers

merrily we roll along, roll along, roll along...

JSmith 08/16/2021

*May be sung as a round

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Nobody knows what today holds. Anything… literally… can happen. Be fully alive.

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A Tuesday mixed bag…

This has been my favorite kind of morning… before sunrise could establish itself, rain moved in and turned our world to night again and we’ve had great soaking showers. Kim walked before the clouds arrived, and came home with a bagel for me, so we’re hitting on all cylinders so far, and I’m mentally spacing off this afternoon’s dental appointment for now, just for good measure.

We should have countertop people here any minute to help move us forward on our little remodel project, so that’s worth waking up for. We’ve been without sinks in either bathroom for a couple of weeks now, so progress will be entirely welcome. Pick a little, grin a little, things finally come to fruition and we move along, lifelike as all get-out. Oops, we’ve been bumped to tomorrow for countertops, wouldn’t cha’ know, and if that’s the biggest glitch the day holds, we’re favored upon the earth.

After journaling our COVID sheltering experience from start to what was supposed to be finish, I’m dismayed to see where we find ourselves as August unfolds. We could have stopped this thing in its tracks, but some people simply don’t want to.

Can’t help observing how infection rates correspond to voting trends.

It’s crazy-making that we’ve in some ways arrived back at Ground Zero for no legit reason except that people have decided science doesn’t fit their world. My Mama Said, ya’ know.

What will they think of next??
There are passports and then there are portals.

The general populace needn’t sweat it, though, the world isn’t about to shut down again. Been there, did a half-assed job of it, not going back.

Not feeling down this morning, not blue… but certainly in a pragmatic frame of mind. Every human’s existence is greatly shaped and determined by what other earth-dwellers do and there’s no escaping that reality. We have no option but to survive here together on this cockamamie spinning ball of schmeh… and it seems to me some of us aren’t trying very hard lately.

He tried harder than most…

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Oh look, it’s Trivia Tuesday!

A handy thing about keeping a blog, however long in the tooth and past its prime it may get, is having a place to stash “keepers” – the melange that gets my attention through the week and politely waits to be shared. I like the patchwork that’s created by a few days of hoarding.

Since I’m in the process of shedding layers of anger accumulated since the start of the pandemic, a lot of what catches my eye relates to that. We came out of either the 2nd or 3rd wave of COVID just in time to greet the Delta wave hitting us from unvaccinated next-door Missouri, and things are kind of going on hold again. So yeah, there’s anger, some of it “righteous.” A comment found online:

“The Delta Variant got this bad because of people like you (anti-vaxers). We’ve been in this pandemic almost a year and a half. I’m tired of it. I want my life back. I want shit to be normal again. Shut up and get the god damn shot.”

That’s where I am this morning, but working on it. People are selfish, end of story, and if it’s truly every man for himself (women and children be damned) we’ve lost the plot on this grand experiment of democracy.

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Masks, distancing, all the protocols. I’m saying it nicely, with my inside voice, but you know it’s true.

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One week’s numbers.

Medical data says it’s the unvaccinated who are harboring, incubating, and sharing the Delta variant, and they represent some 99% of deaths from same. The vaccinated are still getting sick in various (low) percentages depending on region, but they aren’t in hospitals on ventilators – they get well. However it impacts you, COVID-19 is an illness you don’t want to encounter once, let alone twice, and for every reason in the world it’s in the planet’s best interest that we somehow still manage to contain it. The tragedy lies in the ultimate challenge to shut the lid on Pandora’s box after the fact, so this mob of viruses (virii?) is likely here to stay, in its various iterations. That makes me justifiably angry, but I’m laying it down… for today… along with my concern for beautiful young people in this world, some of whom are raising amazing little ones, all being strong in the face of fog and fear… and for so many other humans who are making it through, showing up, doing the things. None of them deserved this lack of preparation, mobilization, engagement, or caring on the country’s behalf, yet here they still are. All respect.

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My comment to a Facebook friend just now (edited):

“The whole thing is ugliness from start to (hopefully someday) finish. My rage has simmered since learning about coronavirus; through the agonizing wait for hospital personnel to have access to the vaccines (LONG after politicians who STILL bad-mouth them stepped to the front of the line and got theirs); past losing friends for saying one too many times that there’s an RN I care about more than any other human out there; through people’s refusal to help themselves, and their willingness to put the lives around them at risk; through all the denial and racism and other visceral hatred out there. I’m tired of being angry and I can’t afford to replace it with ennui and depression, so I have to deal with it. Stand back… “

ICU Nurse

Kathryn Ivey’s statement is the saddest part of the whole pandemic saga – it didn’t have to be. Which brings me to another apropo comment…

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Can’t remember the last time I argued the facts with anyone. Besides Kim.

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Life, as we all say, goes on – to a point. It’s brief, so it’s important to me to live it with joy and enthusiasm, which requires chutzpah, energy, and an unfailing sense of humor.

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Friends are for fun…

My clever and erudite friend Steve Gelder keeps me in material when I’m looking for smiles.

To wit:

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HAVE A GOOD DAY!

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Plausible invisibility…

For my niece KG, my friend VP, et al

We walk among people every day whose physical lives are defined and confined by invisible illnesses of the immune system. They know it, we don’t. They feel it, we can’t. Lacking a cure or effective treatment protocols for something called fibromyalgia, for instance, doctors have traditionally preferred to suss out other “causes” they know how to prescribe for. As research is turning up clues and avenues for possible treatment, the wheelbarrow load of symptoms that’s been newly-labeled as ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis chronic fatigue syndrome) may finally be coming into favor enough for medical professionals to seriously address it. That would be nice. My friends-and-family circle is dotted with immunocompromised individuals who live quietly inside bodies full of pain and perpetual exhaustion, so an intentional focus by the medical community would be as welcome as rain… says the girl who loves rain. A truly frustrating part of autoimmune disorders is their capricious nature – they flit around in the body, inflicting bits of torture here and there, feinting, withdrawing, teasing, tormenting. And then they all take a powder somewhere and HEY! A GOOD DAY!! Blessed be if it happens on a day when you really, really, really want to do something.

Some autoimmune disorders eventually leave markers that become visible to the casual observer, but some don’t, staying hidden at cell level, disrupting the daily peace of the carrier at will. Talking to someone who’s never experienced anything like it is generally not very helpful. And complaining just… well, we all know where that gets us in life. We humans believe what we can see, touch, taste, smell, and hear. We don’t do well with “phantom” illnesses, in ourselves or others – “You’re up walking around, taking nourishment, so show us the medical report or you’re a lazy piker.” America has little patience with those who can’t or won’t tote that barge, lift that bale. Who ever said life was fair, right?

Someone you know has an illness you can’t see, so a few things…

1) That person is fighting every day just to be able to participate in life

2) It likely never occurred to them that one day they’d wake up sick and never get better

3) Trying to be stronger than one feels is exhausting – be patient

As for the curious claim that people with invisible illnesses are “faking it,” what can we even say? What would they gain from that? Being in pain, unable to move freely, medicated, in and out of doctors’ offices, spending thousands on medical expenses, experiencing the gamut of emotions that accompanies chronic illness, missing most of what people call life because they can’t “get there.” Easy to fake and totally cool, right? We all wish we could find a sweet deal like that and coast.

Everyone you know, every human you’ll never know, deserves personal dignity and at least a pinch of understanding, so if empathy isn’t really your thing, at least give them that much. Leave them that tiny place inside that believes they’ll be better someday. And never forget that they miss their old carefree smiling selves, too.

This has been a PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT on behalf of hurting people everywhere. Thank you for your support.

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The ties that bind…

Kim Smith – 05/01/2021

Yesterday Rita and I talked about writing, which we agreed journaling isn’t, not really – saying what we think and feel doesn’t make us writers. But we also agreed that we’re grateful we can both put words down in a way that lessens the angst, clears the view, and starts loosening some of the knots. Her journal is REO – Rita’s Eyes Only, whereas I throw my thoughts to the four winds in case another human might be encouraged by my bad example. Also, I’m past the statute of limitations on caring about perceptions, which is intoxicating, so someone stumbling onto my site on any given day might come face-to-face with most anything, from politics to nostalgia, usually a heavy mix of both.

Nostalgia is uppermost today, with thoughts of the big ol’ family I once knew claiming my attention. Grandpa was the head of the clan, but Grandma was the Queen Bee, and we all wondered how cohesive the family would be once they were both gone. Turns out, unsurprisingly, that without Grandma especially, it was a bridge too far and our diaspora across the country and the planet… illness and death… partisan politics… other life factors… have proven too much for the bonds that once held us. We’re scattered, but also divided, which was inevitable since blood is only ONE of the ties that bind humans together, and on its own isn’t enough. There are generations of cousins I don’t know and never will, a circumstance every family experiences in our move-anywhere world… but difficult news this morning about a family member I did know well has set the memory machine in motion. I’m the one who preaches about life being all ABOUT change, but some of it is incredibly hard to absorb when it gets here. My generation is second in line for family seniority, though, so absorb we will.

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It helps to know something that Grandma & Grandpa instinctively understood…

Enough has always meant: A place to belong, a reason to BE, the requirements for survival, and family. The past year has imbedded a lot of lessons and among them is this… we have to be enough, in ourselves, alone, in order to survive this life. The good news is… it’s doable.

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On into spring…

Kim Smith – Liberty Hall, Mass Street, Lawrence, KS 03/28/2021

One weekend wrapped up and another came and went since I last sat down with myself to write. Every day being what it is, it feels more like a year than ten days, and my head has been in a year’s worth of spaces in that time.

I cried through the first three days of eye-witness testimony in the trial of the male person who asphyxiated George Floyd during a nine-and-a-half minute knee-mail over a bogus $20 bill and sits in court like he’s large and in charge. And I’ve watched a large sampling of the proceedings since.

So… Mr. Floyd, on a sunny day in May, goes to the corner store with what he may or may not have known was a counterfeit twenty to buy cigarettes, and ends up summarily executed in the street for same. Not sure why there’s a full-fledged trial because we can watch what happened from every angle and our hearts and brains know what we’re seeing – the most cold-blooded of murders in broad daylight. The inadequate human who did this obviously saw George Floyd as a nothing, a nobody, a throwaway about whom nobody gave a shit… but the string of eye-witnesses and friends at trial told the opposite story. They showed us a vital young guy with an unfortunate opioid addiction that he and his girlfriend of three years were trying to break. He worked out every day, ran, played football and basketball, held steady jobs until COVID, was loved by the kids in his neighborhood because he played ball with them, a mama’s boy who changed after his mother died… and who kept girlfriend Courtney’s name in his phone as “Mama.”

Yesterday, Minneapolis Chief of Police Medaria Arradondo testified all day, never getting ruffled nor showing anything but mature professionalism, and the takeaway was that not one thing the accused did that day in May of 2020 fell within policy guidelines for the Minneapolis Police Department, nor presumably any other. The Chief, a fifth-generation Minnesotan who rose through the ranks from Cadet to Police Chief in under thirty years, said under oath that there is *no excuse* for what the killer did, end of story. Like a worm, the accused nonchalantly snuffed out a life, with no change of posture or expression, simply making sure George Floyd didn’t draw another breath. Justice for unarmed Black people is painfully hard to come by in America, but if we don’t see it happen in this trial we’ll be finished as a society and it would be well-deserved… because we will have become what we thought we abhorred.

Or maybe we already have…

Eddie Izzard, you called it – Cake or Death, man.

Yeah… the more I think of it… if we’re not there yet, we can see it from here.

Park Cannon, an elected Georgia Representative, may be facing seven years for knocking on a door she had a legislative right to access. The fine Americans on the right, taking the Capitol by force, will likely face nothing dire.

But… life goes on for most of us, we fortunate few. Kimmers and I enjoyed our Easter eggs this year as omelets, and celebrated the beautiful weather.

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A year in the time of COVID… page 233

Day 365 – 03/16/2021

One full year, with a diary page every day & a half to show for it… I’m calling that creativity. These 233 pages hold joy and tears, light spirits and heavy hearts, my truth, reality as it happened, shock and awe. Kim and I created our own environment in here when we sheltered, and fine-tuned our routine to meet the circumstances. We’ve creatively avoided driving each other screaming yellow bananas in this open loft, and managed to create an even better vibe than before. Creativity matters in a crunch, as does patience.

The only thing I’ve had no patience for is the jerks.

This year in the catacombs could have been so much easier on everyone, and infinitely less deadly, but it was what it was, we went through some things, and eventually it’ll all just magically fade away. The mantra from hell still haunts…

All year I’ve railed against injustice on these pages, grieved cruelty and loss, damned stupidity, sought answers to the human dilemma, wished for connection… but a speed-skim from March 16, 2020 to today tells me it’s been at least 85% sunshine all up in here, and I’m glad I can look back and know that.

After the steady outpour, it could be time for a sabbatical, so I’ll be consulting with the muses… when they fall silent, I follow suit. Writing it all down was a wise plan… likely the best care I could have provided to myself and anyone who’s had to deal with me.

But tomorrow restarts the clock for 2021 & a half, as all of us survey the wreckage and wonder where to start. The challenges will gradually become less life-or-death, and more life-or-less. But it’s hard to settle for less, knowing what we know, and being alive all the way seems like the only choice. Thinking about sunshine… thinking about all the good hearts who got us this far.

So, Diary, I’ll take you underground again and close the book on the past twelve months. It was a microcosm of everything good or bad about the human experience, and it’s a valuable bit of living added to my arsenal of understanding. I learned things I wouldn’t have comprehended any other way… and it was past time.

My personal regrets in life are almost solely over stupid things I’ve said, leaving people with wrong impressions. But regretting circumstances isn’t in me because if you change one thing you’ve changed everything. So we live what’s in front of us and hope we do it right… and I have no regrets over the year we just survived. We kept up with the science, we followed the protocols, we’re fully vaccinated, and everything from here on out is gravy. Hmmm… wouldn’t it be nice.

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Tuesday on the line… page 228

Day 358 – 03/09/2021

Woke up yesterday morning in a killer mood, meaning if I could have righteously killed something I would have. Things hit me wrong all day, from the reminder of George Floyd’s cold-blooded murder (I fully accept the paradox of my own murderous thoughts) to flashes of the former guy’s face and name. WHY?? How can we miss him if he won’t go away? I gave you a break, Diary, and didn’t make you listen to the sordid details… I don’t want to carry any of it forward – let it die with yesterday, it was only inside me anyway.

This morning’s a new day and Kim’s on his feet for it so far… barely. He’s been so awesomely sick since last Friday that I think I’ve found another piece of the COVID puzzle for our household. I haven’t understood how I could be sick for months and he’s stayed healthy through the whole thing, but his reaction to his 2nd vaccination makes me think he DID contract the virus from me at some point (how could he NOT??) but stayed asymptomatic. It was very clear that his system wanted NOTHING TO DO with that invasive potion. I threw some of my questions out into the cosmos the other day, and this morning an answer came pinging back to me with this headline from ABC News:

FDA Authorizes New T-cell Test That Could Be Game Changer for COVID-19 Long Haulers

The new test is able to determine whether or not a human has had COVID-19 at some point, so if we run into a genuine need-to-know in the future, the fact that there’s a way to find out is a nice ace to hold.

My brain has felt disconnected from my body for the past week. Thoughts get halfway and stop. I forget what I hear. I started a board with Rita in Words with Friends after long absence, played two rounds, and forgot all about it. Finished a book, had to think for a while to remember what the story was. It’s like maneuvering in a heavy wool fog, and it’s a relief to feel it lifting this morning. Kim goes to ground when he’s sick, deadly silent, sleeps, just wants to die without the commitment ’til it’s over, and he was ill enough to scare me a little, so that might be a clue as to why I found myself shutting down. My anger flares at things people say about COVID, and their devil-may-care approach to “controlling” it… the anguish America has been through… what we’ve done to our medical community… all the ways this may have done longterm damage to the health of the nation. I hurt for the people I love until I think I can’t stand it… and then we all hurt some more.

A long siege like this is hard on a Pollyanna – it’s our job to keep on the sunny side, to find the silver lining, to smile and dance ’til the curtain comes down… but after the energy’s gone, you sit with yourself like a book you once read in a dream, and you read it again, this time between the lines, and you get it… the song & dance was never your gig, not really. Bread & circuses, jesters, clowns, we seek out all the distractions there are… but finally, we each have to be with just ourself for company and have an honest conversation about what’s real and what isn’t. If cognitive dissonance doesn’t shut the whole thing down with a bang, we’ll learn some things.

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