Rona Fatigue and Wordlessness

I seldom find myself at a loss for words. Truly. I’m nearly always ready with a sassy, salty comeback or quip. I can remember only one time when words failed me, at the Buena Vista in San Francisco, on a dreadfully rainy day, after quite a few of the Irish Coffees for which they are famous, when the bartender blatantly propositioned me. (Once I found my words, I declined.)

Throughout the duration of this virus, which K and I call The Rona, and its in-and-out quarantines, I’ve been inside, with the exception of walks when the weather was nice, seeing M on weekends, going to the grocery store, four dining out experiences, catering at three or four weddings, a little thrift store shopping, and appearing at my second job once a month. We did travel three times over the last 12 months, twice by plane and once by car. Looking at that list, maybe it’s more than some folks and less than others. It sounds like more than I thought. But it doesn’t feel like a lot for 12 months. It doesn’t feel like “normal”. I don’t feel like “normal”.

I was not the most social person to start with, but being told I can’t do a thing is the surest way to make me want to do that thing, and make me grump about not being able to do that thing. I may have mentioned my mulishness before, as putting my ears back is a well-known trait of mine. At this point, as we’re entering Year Two in Life with a Virus, I am over it. I’ll repeat for those of you in the back. I. AM. OVER. IT. Because I’m caring and responsible, I still wear a mask everywhere I go. I’m not seeing friends because I don’t want anyone to get sick because of me. I didn’t think I went that many places, but apparently I’m missing the places I didn’t go. Because that’s a thing. M wonders if we’ll ever get back to normal, and I tell him that, as with any loss, we will find a new “normal” but I doubt we will be quite the same as before for a long time.

My Rona fatigue is showing up as more anxiety, more tension, more frustration, and less motivation to do things that I was doing, like eating well and exercising and learning a new language, all the things that I did so well at the beginning of quarantine. I also feel like, as I said at the start of this piece, I’m at somewhat of a loss for words. Uninspired. Though not free of thought. Just a lot of rambling thoughts that aren’t organized or interesting enough to share. This could also be some of the “brain fog” that is a long-term side effect of having had the Rona, which M and I both had last March. At least I had enough words handy to write this.

I’m currently reading John Berry’s “The Great Influenza”, which provides perspective on the political and social situations of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which actually originated in Kansas. It has been an eye opener. I had no idea about the severity of that pandemic — much more severe than ours — nor did I know anything about virology or Woodrow Wilson. It’s been quite an education and I recommend it. The parallels between the public messaging about the Spanish flu and the messaging about the Rona are remarkable. But one point the author makes is that it took a long time from the first victim fell ill to the time when the country settled into its new normal. I think that’s how it’s going to be for all of us now, 100 years later.

A different kind of mask for this crazy world.

In the Stars

Astrology: yes or no? Believer or scoffer? I honestly am not sure. I’m a Cancer (I hate saying that, because it sounds like I’m a disease). And I could be the poster child for Cancerians: a sensitive, ocean-loving, moonbeaming, moody, wanderer — well, not the wanderer part, because Cancers are supposed to be homebodies. Other than that, I suppose there’s some validity to it. I studied up on it quite a bit, along with herbology and palmistry, during my esoteric semi-hippie early days in Colorado.

It was also terribly in vogue when I was in high school. There seems to be a resurgent interest among K and her friends, which makes me wonder if it’s something that captivates us at that cusp of adulthood, that perhaps we hope to gain understanding of and direction for ourselves as we gaze into a future shrouded in fog. Because of her, I’ve developed a renewed interest in the subject.

Back in the days of yore, the go-to astrology text was Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs. I gave K a copy for Christmas a couple of years ago so she could see how things have evolved since the 1980s. You wouldn’t think astrology would change, but it seemingly has — becoming more detailed and specific. I did have the pleasure of staying in Linda Goodman’s former home in — who’d have thunk it — Cripple Creek, Colorado, which had become a Bed and Breakfast. And a haunted Bed and Breakfast, no less. I was in town for a ghost adventure at the former jail (and an adventure it was, may I say) and made the mistake of telling my hostess at the B&B about it, which led to her having me go into the basement to see what I could pick up from a ghost perspective (also an adventure). The next time I went to town, this particular B&B was closed; the ghosts may have been too much for her.

I’m a fan of Rob Brezsny’s astrological divinations and musings in his Free Will Astrology column/email. Having just googled him, he doesn’t look like what I’d expected, but he looks exactly like what an astrologer should look like. Who really knows how sound any of it is, but I’ve found his insights and predictions to be pretty on track over the last ten years or so. He also seems to tap into a certain esoteric level of rational thought that I very much appreciate. I’ve enjoyed his book Pronoia, which also amused a crew of market researchers who visited my house some years back to interview me on my love of Toyotas.

K has introduced me to Co — Star, which is an app instead of a column, but I guess that’s what all the cool kids are doing these days. It’s very specific, based on one’s date/time of birth. I (of course) know my birth date, but am not so sure of my birth time. My birth certificate doesn’t list it and my folks are somewhere in the stars themselves now, so I can’t ask them. But I’ve made my best guess in the hope that, whatever this app produces based on birth time, close enough is close enough. The little astrological messages are somewhat cryptic, which is both good and bad, but intriguing and make me ponder. For example, today’s central message: “A tongue that lacks self-control is a fire.” That one is pretty self-explanatory. But the “Dos” and “Don’ts”, I’m not so sure of: Dos: Ice cream, Sunshine, Venting. I don’t have ice cream and there has been very little sunshine today, but yes, I have vented to K. Don’ts: Clutch pearls, Pathos, Narratives. Not a huge pearl-clutcher, but it could have happened during the venting; not really expressing Pathos (took care of that last weekend); and Narratives….? Well, I guess this is one, so that really should have been part of the “Do” list.

On the purely pragmatic side, I love the stars themselves. M and I have a wonderful memory of driving to Santa Fe one dark night before Christmas when we first started dating, and we’d never seen so many stars. That memory still stands, even after seeing nothing but stars during a power outage in Costa Rica. And on the anniversary of our first date, we drove up to a meadow in Gilpin County and froze ourselves sitting in the bed of the truck watching a meteor shower. But anyplace under the stars with him is perfect. My horoscope said nothing about being sappy.

Daily gratitudes:
Fingerless gloves
The woman who crossed herself before driving away from the Emergency Room
My marvelous niece who has a birthday today
The new way Mr. Man snuggled in last night

Playing with Time

“The happier the time, the shorter it seems.” So said Pliny the Elder in the Year 105. I don’t know that I agree with this statement. Time and I have been curious companions since my teenage years. The events that are most clear in my memory are those in which I found myself most present — giving birth to my daughter and watching the passing of my mother. In those instances, I was more conscious of the here and now than at any other time in my life. My mind didn’t fly off on tangents, thoughts of what to do next, or old memories. There’s a lesson in that for me, a lesson of being completely present at all times, and not lost in my own head, as I am so wont to be.

For decades, I’ve considered myself something of a time witch. I often can slow time down if I’m late for something, though I’ve not mastered the ability to speed up time when something is unbearably long or dull. I’ve experienced interruptions in time. Like seeing someone walking into a pool at the hot springs, and then seeing them ACTUALLY walk into the pool. These kind of things are disconcerting, but not upsetting. They make me question the linear concept of time, as well as the reality of what we perceive.

Most physicists maintain that the future does not exist because it hasn’t happened yet. I know next to nothing about physics, having only been instructed in it in high school by a former nun who played the fiddle. Besides, my mind just doesn’t work that way, perhaps because of my skepticism about such things as time. Ex-Pat always said that logic wasn’t my strong suit. I disagree. Scientific logic, while provable, does not take into account the mysteries of our existence.

There are so many things that are inexplicable in this universe. Why do we recognize people whom we’ve never met before? What is the origin of those dreams that are so vivid that we wake up physically feeling an item in our hand that we were holding in the dream? What happens to our spirit upon our death?

These sorts of experiences that have no real connection to our present-day lives speak to the possibility of so much more than linear time. They suggest parallel realities, past lives, fractures in the fabric of time. Can we live in the past as well as the future? Will we someday understand the root of such mysteries? I think we must let go of our own rigidity and our fear of the unknown in order to accept such flexible realities. That’s a huge challenge for most, and not one that I would even know how to start investigating. Just like how some of us completely lose our sense of direction in some places, as if our internal compass has been tossed out of the car window (but we’ll talk about that later). For now, I’ll continue to play with time, as it plays with me.

Island time is another well-known phenomenon that I’ll discuss in a future post.

Opining on February

I echo Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s feeling on the month of February, so well expressed in his poem “Afternoon in February”. The first stanza reads as follows:

“The day is ending,
The night is descending;
The marsh is frozen,
The river dead.”

Trust me, it just goes downhill from there, ending with the line “Like a funeral bell.” You can imagine.

This February, in particular, is rough. I have finally reached a point of being fed up with not being able to go out to dinner, shoot pool, have a drink at a bar, cater a wedding. Colorado, too, seems to have changed its tune wind-wise. We’re having chinooks in February now, instead of January, and as stated in yesterday’s poem, I’m just not a fan of the wind. M told me when we met that he just thinks February is an asshole. I always thought that was January; he’s now converted me.

But to be peppy and upbeat (which really is not me all the time), here is Seasweetie’s Positive February Thought List:

  1. The days are getting longer. It may not seem like it, but I can judge this well, because we usually drive back from the Retreat right around the same time. A few weeks ago, it was full dark by 5:30. Now, we can enjoy a longer twilight, which also means more deer spotting and cautionary driving, but it’s gently beautiful.
  2. There are fewer days in the month. That’s nothing new, but thank the heavens for it.
  3. Valentine’s Day. Yes, I know it’s sappy and trite, but I love it anyway. I like giving presents and while I don’t need an excuse to do so, I enjoy having a little celebratory reason for it. Besides, the origins of Valentine’s Day are fascinating, with not one, but TWO Saint Valentines being beheaded by Claudius II, and the christianization of the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a fertility festival. (I suspect they dropped the goat sacrifices, the whippings, and the drawing of eligible young townswomen’s names from a giant urn to find mates for the men.)
  4. The occasional sense of spring can be felt if you pay REALLY close attention to the feel of the air.
  5. My twee-woo bird is back. I don’t know what kind of bird it is, and I’ve actually never seen it, but it always comes back as a harbinger of spring, like the swallows returning to Capistrano (which supposedly happens on March 19). It has a very distinctive call (hence why I call it the twee-woo bird) and I like to think it’s singing just for me.
  6. I’m anticipating that I might see a few green shoots of something (snowdrops, grape hyacinths, crocuses) on a walk this month.
  7. We’re one month closer to getting into the Retreat full-time than we were one month ago.

Of course, usually by this time, I have a plane ticket in hand and am making packing lists for somewhere warm and tropical with turquoise water and white sand beaches. But everybody knows that when you buy a house and start to move, you become house-poor and that lasts for at least a year. Such is the case with us. We’re having to do things like figure out fire mitigation and snowplows, and home improvements for the Bungalow and M’s house, so I am facing the reality that I won’t see an ocean until July. I’ve been blessed by being able to travel as I have, and it will happen again. Just not this spring. This spring, I will have beautiful hikes and slight sunburns and deep snowfalls and good music and a few perfect days. Let’s just get through February.

Daily gratitudes:
My stir-fry
Leggings with pockets
Dancing
My neighbor’s chickens
Carrie, the wonderful lady on the phone at the insurance company, who didn’t mind that I cried, and started to cry with me.

A New Day in America

A change in government administration is a reset for any country. The hopes of some people are fulfilled and the hopes of others are dashed. Anyone who has been watching our country for the last four years — or even the last few months — cannot help but be aware of the division in America. Our two-party system no longer suits our citizens. While President Joe Biden did, in fact, legitimately win this election, 74 million people voted for Trump. That’s a lot of people who wanted something other than what they got. They’re not happy about it; no one ever is when they don’t get something they really wanted. In 2016, 65 million Americans didn’t get what they wanted. I was one of them.

I marched in the Women’s March. I tweeted my objections to trump and his policies and “alternative facts”. I did not claim the election was rigged. I did not accuse conservatives of being baby-eaters or lizard people. I did not storm the Capitol at the behest of Hillary Clinton. I watched his dramas play themselves out, as dramas always do.

I feel for the people who are now feeling abandoned by someone they had sworn absolute allegiance to. I’m sure they feel betrayed. But as many times as trump recited the poem “The Snake”, I wish that those people could have seen that he was talking about himself. That when someone shows you who they are the first time, believe them. When people feel unseen and hopeless and diminished, they will cling to any words that might offer a lifeline. It’s shameful that he let them down. And more shameful that someone decided to pose as a mysterious conspiracy figurehead as some kind of game. Those people were played.

One thing I know for sure. I remembering listening to 45’s inauguration speech and being stunned. His words were full of gloom and doom, anger and disunity. The speech that 46 made today was much more in keeping with the tone of the country that I love. I appreciated that.

I teared up when Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first female Vice President. As she stepped up to place her hand on the Bible that the Second Gentleman held, I could see on her face that she could hardly believe this was happening. It was just a flash of a look, but I saw it. I can draw a sad parallel between that look and the look I saw on the woman who died in the Capitol invasion – incredulity, but with vastly different outcomes in vastly different situations.

I have been watching the President like a hawk the last four years. Before 2016, I had a passing interest and familiarity with politics. I have since learned that it’s my civic duty to watch our elected officials and hold them accountable. Even though – or perhaps, especially – since Joe Biden is a representative of my party, I will continue to watch just as closely, to hold this new administration just as accountable for keeping their promises, and to call it out on lies. Once awakened, a watchdog cannot go back to sleep.

Joe Biden is no savior, just as his predecessor wasn’t, no matter what people wanted to believe. This President speaks of healing, of unity, of trying to repair a nation divided. All great goals, but very questionably realistic, given where we are today. I am hoping he will strive to make our planet better, disempower the ultra-rich, gain some measure of trust from those who feel disenfranchised, truly fight for racial equality, and live up to his words. I am hoping for honesty, fairness, and true transparency. I am hoping.

Please disregard the irony that this sunrise shot was taken in Mexico.

Champagne Plans, Fireball Reality

I love my planet and my country over any party or politics. That said, I was looking forward to today as the day the electoral college votes were officially counted, clearing yet another hurdle on the track to a new president. I had a half a bottle of champagne that I was planning to consume. And then things happened.

If you haven’t been hiding under a rock (for which I would not blame you) today, you’ve heard and seen what things happened. The current president and his cronies rallied their misguided troops, who then stormed our nation’s capitol, threatened our states’ leadership, and completely disrespected every facet of our government and the constitution that they so strongly claim to support. Our buildings were vandalized. Seditious citizens stole items from offices and chambers. The confederate flag was proudly carried through the Capitol Building. A woman was shot in the chest, her wound captured on a Twitter video. She died this evening. Her eyes in that video showed her surprise and confusion, and reflected her thinking, “I’m fine, I’m fine,” as women so often do when they are anything but fine.

I won’t forget that.

Representatives who, as recently as this morning, spoke words of support for this kind of insurrection, sent out words telling people to act peacefully. But it’s too late to call off the pack, and it’s far too little to absolve themselves of responsibility. They will — and should — reap what they have shown.

I am not jury or judge, but I do know what I see with my own eyes and hear with my own ears. Just as my own Southern ancestors demonstrated, insurrectionists will not win. I’m sorry so many people fell for a pack of lies. In this democratic republic, the truth will win.

The champagne is now back in the fridge for January 20th. And tonight, a little Fireball doesn’t hurt.