Oh, those street tacos… page 199

Day 317 – 01/26/2021

We woke up to rain yesterday morning and light snow today. It’s cold out there, but cozy in here and we had beautiful little street tacos for lunch, with Cielito’s queso and chips. Yay, TUESDAY!

Across the hall in Mike’s old place they’ve been tearing out lots of tile work and two complete showers, and the noise is deafening – all this concrete, steel, and glass does a superb job of conducting sound. Kim doesn’t have the luxury of pulling the speakers out of his ears like I do, but noise doesn’t torture his immune system, so maybe we’re even. Today we got a break from all that – they might be through with demo and ready to renovate, which I’m sure won’t be loud at all… but progress. Progress is good. And new neighbors.

The world feels like a more hope-filled place with all the possibilities opening up again, but I’m still limbo-oriented, waiting. I don’t know what it is that will tell me we’ve truly avoided the catastrophic loss of everything we care about, but meanwhile, I float along day by day, out of touch with people, lacking the energy for real communication, letting a “like” here and there suffice for now. It’s no doubt a lot of things, including the recent month-long bout with COVID, and when I wake from my defensive slumbers I’m sure I’ll be a whirlwind of love and friendship again. Maybe.

We’re emerging from a long abusive relationship and it will all take time. Trust and a sense of security are easily lost and hard to recover. The ground has shifted under our feet… so on we go, we have miles to go before we sleep.

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I love sunshine… page 187

Day 303 – 01/12/2021

We have a sunny Tuesday morning in progress, with a high this afternoon in the low 50s, so Kim will be playing PickleBall after lunch. Happy day for him – he turns into a coil-spring when he can’t get out and move.

Not sure what I’ll end up doing today, but if I turn my head slightly to the left I can see several available options, just in my line of sight. Much time will undoubtedly be taken up with, or at least wrapped in, thoughts that never stop.

Six days after MAGA’s failed coup against democratic government, my outrage has only increased. The images, the stupidity, the deaths, the destruction, the total lack of comprehension of what makes us America, the entrenched idea that if you’re white in this country and you ever lose a single thing you BY GOD GET IT BACK IMMEDIATELY!

The terrorists’ representatives in Congress, whose own lives were on the line last Wednesday, are continuing the mantra: The GOP doesn’t lose elections unless we get something very wrong, so we’re saying something’s very wrong and we will reverse this outcome we don’t like, even if it costs us our way of life.

More MAGAs and Qs and general fuck-ups are threatening open assault on all 50 statehouses in the country, and plotting to disrupt Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris’s inauguration.

“Antifa” has also taken a shit in the hall…

And all of the above is sanctioned by a “man” who’s never been told no, never had to lose much that mattered to him, always had a parachute – ’til now. At this juncture, he seems willing to sacrifice everything in his frantic attempt to avoid being outed as a fraud, an abject idiot, a traitor to the United States of America, and a sociopath who has so far allowed almost 400,000 Americans to die on his watch..

What none of the above people comprehend is that on the profound moral questions in American politics — union vs treason, democracy vs autocracy — there is no middle ground. They’ve sacrificed truth for their cause and don’t seem to realize yet that they’re holding nothing but sawdust.

*fewer* points

The good news on a sunny morning is that Rita and I are both feeling better, starting to come up out of the odd haze that is apparently COVID-19. She’s a couple of days ahead of me so she’s been my beacon of hope for better days all along, and once I get past the weak and shaky stage and lose the cough, I’ll claim my win.

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Limbo come, limbo go… page 182

Day 294 – 01/03/2021

Our New Year’s Day snow provided an apropos setting for mentally processing… everything. Totally calm outside, no footprints for hours, life muffled and still, so I nestled in my chair like Lady Buddha and let everything roll around in my head. Still working on it.

Yeah, so the bullet dodged WASn’t, but so far so good. Funny story – you stay inside for nine months to avoid COVID-19, seeing a total of one other person during that time on any sort of basis, so you think it might be okay to spend a few hours with them on Christmas morning and somebody ends up sick. Makes no sense, but it does reinforce to me how insidious this virus is and how opportunistic. If you’re where it is, you’re a potential host – it goes where we take it. So sis, who doesn’t have the luxury of a Kim and has had to be out there from the start in all the ways, got a positive test result, and I’d planned to get tested today but the line is currently four hours long, so maybe first thing in the morning.

Meanwhile, I’m hanging out like the perennial lump I’ve become and life won’t change for me if I test positive except to make sure I’m not doing any heavy breathing in Kim’s space. As long as he stays well, Rita recovers completely, and my system does its thing, it’s another experience on the way to the next one. And speaking of experiences… let’s pretend this one never happened, by which I mean last year.

I’m reading a book by that title… Let’s Pretend This Never Happened! by Jenny Lawson… and it’s laugh-out-loud funny. Excellent therapy. On we go, the year awaits…

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New Year’s Eve… page 180

Day 291 – 12/31/2020

Better news yesterday, therefore it was a better day, cold but sunny. Little happened, and sometimes that’s the good news. Still waiting to hear on a COVID test (not mine), but it’s likely that a bullet has been dodged, and now we all find ourselves on the cusp of a whole new pack of challenges. I remember how we couldn’t wait for 2019 to end so there’s no such wild-eyed optimism on my part today – 2020 couldn’t have been dreamed up if we’d tried, and 2021 will no doubt leave a mark as well.

For starters, we’ll still have to suffer Jim Jordan and his buddies…

Do wrestling coaches not take history classes?

They’re all still out there and they’re neither leaving nor shutting up, so it’s up to me to wrap myself in a few protective layers to counterbalance what they’re putting out into the world – their lack of humanity is too toxic to allow inside. A good beginning would be to disown all the guilt in the universe that isn’t mine, and then ditch any guilt that IS mine, starting small and working my way through the heap.

DECEMBER 31, 2020 MISSION STATEMENT:

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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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Touching the past… page 167

Day 276 – 12/16/2020

Kinda frosty this morning – Kim’s hands were icicles when he got back from walking, despite gloves. Now Frosty the Snowman and gingerbread are on my mind, not because I want to DO ALL THE THINGS!! again or go back to an era when that was a big part of life… I just want to remember it all for a while. There’s very little from those times that remains untouched, unsullied, unbroken, and I need to pay homage to that remnant of Christmas joy.

The concept of *HOME* is extra-heavy on my mind today after hearing news from Dodge City, America, my old proving ground… (back-arrow returns to blog post)

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/i-do-not-feel-safe-kansas-gop-mayor-resigns-after-n1251334?cid=sm_npd_nn_fb_ma&fbclid=IwAR0UVHatp9DkrPhRDOZo_PJVVVSCbb_m09DDzLdm_TykEPPZWaqbBx-8Oow

Things like this shouldn’t happen to people like Joyce and Bill Warshaw, end of story… and revealingly, the threats and ugliness are coming primarily from the church people. Warshaw’s Men’s Clothing Store was part of Dodge City from before my memory and I knew Bill’s parents, Max & Dona, who contributed to the life of the town in positive, memorable ways. America’s idiots are destroying what’s best in the country, and Dodge City is losing two stellar citizens. The sadness that grows from the giant rip in the fabric of our society feels like death, illustrated in macabre fashion by the relentless toll from the virus. Things are being carelessly shattered, with no avenues left open for eventual wholeness, no provision for healing. That’s scary – it kind of says there’s no way back. And after some of the comments I read, the only way I would ever want to see the town again is in my rearview mirror, which makes me sad – Ford County was home to the Wagners from 1905 when my grandpa, 19 years old, rode the train from Indiana to Dodge City, Kansas, bought a cow and some provisions, and walked the twelve miles west to his claim. That whole part of the country is in my DNA… but thanks bunches to my mom, the extremism and racism never made it past my skin. People we thought we knew are ripping their masks off now… and we see the faces of strangers looking back at us.

When this is your aim and you’re virtually run out of town on a rail for it…

We so easily lose sight of the most important things:

What was the pivotal moment when half of America’s population stopped sparing a thought for the other half? Was there some event? Has it been a gradual loosening of moral pinnings, too subtle for notice until here we are? Or were we always like this but never had to admit it until now?

This morning I’m saying thank you to every person working in a medical capacity during the pandemic, many of them since March – for hanging in, staying on the line, shift after shift, week after week, month after month, while they watch people die in spite of every effort to keep that from happening. They have my full focus through it all, and my arms are always around them. I’m grateful that they haven’t yet abandoned us to our own misery, although they must be sorely tempted every hour. I thank them for being who they are and doing what they do, head-on, straight through, because the task is in front of them, they’re trained for it, and they each started out caring mightily about ALL of it. I’m sorry the ignorant stubbornness of so many humans is kicking the care out of them for now. I’m sorry an already impossible job has been complicated and escalated by humans, the race they’re working to save. I’m sorry this has cost so many of them their own lives… I’m so sorry.

Each square in this solid mosaic is a photo of a life lost to COVID-19 in the medical community.

Relative to Mayor Joyce Warshaw’s experience with the anti-mask contingent, this would be my recommendation in all such situations:

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The sweetness… page 158

Day 267 – 12/07/2020

Another nice day so Kim played at Lyons Park and I went over to Rita’s for a few hours. Fun time and good to catch up again – she’s still sorting out from the events of the summer and fall but making terrific headway. Preston and Jade both slept the whole time I was there and her cozy house was welcoming and Zen – just what the doctor ordered.

Home now, settling into the evening groove, watching the cars and foot traffic below my window, wishing it wasn’t going to be dark in an hour, tiptoeing through the dusky limbo, waiting for something to pierce the shell and present itself as real life. Kim’s here and he’s real. His 49ers are playing the Bills tonight and that’s real stuff. Life gradually breaks through again.

Reality is sometimes overrated, but I vastly prefer it to delusion even when it hurts. Today we mark the 79th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, where almost 2500 Americans died in a single day. For each single December day leading up to this commemoration, U.S. coronavirus deaths looked like this:

Reality intrudes despite all efforts to drown it out, and sweetness and light can’t exist without it, so when there’s no way back to what was, you go with what is – the good stuff – and the lights start to come on again. A steady hand to hold is a sweet gift while you wait.

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An important truth… page 145

Day 251 – 11/21/2020

To all the people who get it and have from the beginning… we’ve been here for each other and that matters. Written by my friend Philip Grecian

Y’know…we’ve all been locked down. 

We’ve washed our hands until they’ve cracked.  

We’ve washed our groceries, our mail, our door handles. 

Lots of us have lost our jobs, our incomes…we’ve had friends die and not been able to attend their funerals. 

Trips for groceries have become adventures in survival.  

There has been a good deal of despair.

*****

But one thing I’ve found is this:  I know you better.

I’ve held your hand through the Internet, and you’ve held mine.

We’ve kept each other buoyed up.

You were there at the very moment I’ve needed you…and I’d like to believe I’ve been there when you’ve needed me.

Even as we are farther away…I think we’ve come closer.

We have taken the time to realize how much we care about each other.

*****

Stay safe.

Please.

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Rollin’ on… page 143

Day 249 – 11/19/2020

We’re headed for 76º and sunny, so if it isn’t too windy for PickleBall Kim will get a reprieve from the four walls – plus his walk and a bike ride. He already took pictures at the river this morning.

I updated my iMac to Big Sur OS and it wouldn’t boot back up so I left it because I’d already clocked out for the day. This morning Google and I found the key and we’re in business again, whew! This baby’s my lifeline for the foreseeable.

“Lawrence’s hospital is projecting a more than 500% increase in COVID-19 inpatients in the next two weeks, Douglas County Health Officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino, an infectious disease expert, said Tuesday night at a town hall meeting on the pandemic.” – Lawrence Journal World

I’m really not cranked about any excursion that requires packing a diaper bag.

We can’t save people from themselves, we can’t even save ourselves from them. They seem bent on killing us to prove a point, although that point is elusive – the actual why. Simple health protocols have become too difficult for Americans – what was it that generated this visceral lack of concern for the human race? What has incited nearly half our population to this level of animus toward the ones who try hardest to save us from ourselves, and to literally keep us breathing? What activates that desire to inflict harm, to punish other humans for being? It’s in all of us, we want to be right. We want to have our voices heard, whether we’re saying anything or not. We want to be justified in our choices and decisions. And most of all, we don’t want anyone telling us what to do. And we’re losing the fight for life.

Kim’s photo of the granite bedrock below the dam is talking to me this morning. Took it millions of years to get that way, and man’s machinations don’t affect it much. Granite will still line the riverbed millions of years from now if nobody pushes the red button. So is the lesson simply to BE THERE? To hang in for the long haul? To let it all wash over you and on to the ocean? Mr. Granite Slab does well with that – feelings aren’t part of his chemistry, Mr. GS don’t care. The rest of us are on our own.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith 11/19/2020

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If wishes were fishes… page 142

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?”

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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What day is it?… page 138

Day 242 – 11/12/2020

Got a little spoiled when the weeks were zipping by like proverbial clockwork, then this one hit the brakes and turned it all to slow-mo. But history is being made every single day and that takes time. So yeah, it’s only Thursday when it feels like it should be next Monday.

It’s chilly to cold and winter’s setting in, week by week, and with virus numbers on fire across the country, Lawrence Sports Pavilion won’t be opening again any time soon. That means Kimmers will be cooped up for weeks on end in a place he knows like his own pores, with mostly frosty walks and trips upstairs to the workout room to break up the ennui. Yikes. Good thing he likes reading, research, selective TV, and cold morning walks. He trekked to the Boathouse again early this morning and caught a better shot of one of the rowing crews.

I should be so motivated – the walking not the rowing – but there are roadblocks at every turn…

And booking a class would result in exactly this all too often, minus the cigarette…

Not to get cliché-crazed, but all of life is hour-by-hour from cradle to grave and every day’s question is “What’s next?” We’ve been in suspense waiting to know the answer for this era… and soon enough, what’s next will be what’s right now.

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Veterans’ Day 2020

Kim was rollin’ ’round the river early this morning and brought back the receipts…

Rowing crews, bundled up, down by the Boathouse
Crewing on the mighty Kaw
Old power station, still used but currently undergoing a cleanup and revitalization, in conjunction with work on the riverbed below the dam.
Yup, those are roads they’ve built out into the river.
Liquid sunshine on this Veterans’ Day morning
Can’t hold back the light…

Photo Credits: Kim Smith 11/11/2020

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It’s time… page 134

Day 232 – 11/02/2020

Here we are… the months, weeks, days, and hours have passed, one by endless one, and we find ourselves on the doorstep of KNOWING. We’ve agonized our way through every bit of it, pulling for America, afraid to hope. We have collective PTSD, not just from the election of 2016 but the four years that followed, and we need a divorce from our abuser so we can get well. The polls are in and tabulated and will change only infinitesimally before tomorrow, so we are where we are. Gonna hide and watch, and hope the growing sense of peace in my gut isn’t just a protective device to keep me intact.

It’s a sunny Monday, the start of a five-day warm-up, and I’m taking the light pouring through the blinds as a good omen. Maybe I’ll get something done today, strike it off the list and use it as momentum. Not sure why it matters, but it still does. Something about self-respect.

The PickleBall players should have a good week of it, with the sunshine and warmer temps, so things are looking up all over, dare I say it? I’m ready to put hour-by-hour awareness of what’s emanating from the White House on the back burner, relax a tad, and leave it to people who know what they’re doing. Ready to enjoy and talk about books, music, art, movies, all the things that make living a joy. Ready to live an unexamined life for a week or two. As we’ve seen clearly now, all of human existence is politics in one sense or another, and this will be my platform for the duration:

Listening to the experts and daring to hope. It’s a bold course, but I’m here for it. One more day…

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Stumbling on… page 133

Day 229 – 10/30/2020

Welp, Diary, I spent yesterday crying. It was apparently my pre-election meltdown, and once the dam was open it was all over, I couldn’t stop – just too much of too much for too long. Cried ’til I was dehydrated like a prune and I hope that’ll be it for awhile – I realize now that it was a slow-rolling panic attack. The shock of 2016 still resonates and I’m afraid I’d jinx everything if I were to easily believe in the possibility of rescue and peace and the milk of human kindness again. If we ever do get back there, we have to safeguard it with our lives.

No crying today, we were busy all morning and the sun’s shining. I was around more people this morning than I’ve seen in seven months, all of them masked and super congenial, and it wore me out! I may need a refresher course for fitting back into society when this is all over. We’ll be occupied again tomorrow, so that’s one more day down, with three to finesse after that. Feels like a long ol’ way back home.

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Winding it down… page 132

Day 228 – 10/29/2020

It stayed gray out yesterday and more of the same is forecast for today, but the weather guy’s showing us some sunshine for Friday and beyond, which would work out just super. There’s even some pouring through the blinds right now.

I walked over and got a haircut at 8am yesterday and found Mass Street in a subdued mood. The three of us in the barbershop commiserated over the state of things in general, as ya’ do, and I walked home thanking providence again that we landed here in #lfk. Lawrence has its flaws and it can drive me nuts, but it’s home and that’s the best place to be in a perfect storm.

We went to Sigler’s for our flu shots, picked up lunch, and spent a little time with Rita, who may get to lay it all down in the next couple of weeks and “relapse.” One thing 2020 has taught us is that life is a marathon and if you can put one foot in front of the other, you’re still in the race.

From yesterday’s photo dive…

Sweet little Maddie-girl. Still miss her. 💗

Today’s calendar is blank, so my main order of business will be conserving enough *spoons* to last me through the weekend. Kim’s filling the spa tub, a great start, and I’ve written myself an Rx for Total Zen Living while the multi-crisis distills itself down and filters through the funnel.

Mountain by mountain, bird by bird…

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