Day X and No Closer to Why

I need experiences with people. Maybe you don’t, but I do. This is why stay-at-home mandates are not good for me.

Following the rules, paying attention, being the good son. I will obey. For now.

We need social contacts. Snuggling up, emotionally, with our commuting counterparts is so vital to an enduring, healthy life. For some inevitable quiet types, this isn’t possible … I understand and respect that space. Others pursue touch, contact, reach-outs, feed-me’s, Google Hangouts, text strings, and coffee mug hugs. I am the latter.

A collector of people. A fun, flexible, flocker of folks. Everything I’ve done in my life spins around the question, “If X is worth doing, the why must be in the gathering of others.” Simple, right? Sure! … Until the anvil of Covid-19 is dropped right in the center of this socially delicious cake and all the sugary people parts projectile out in all directions. Then Mr. Doug Hugs is stuck wiping icing tears from his frown face. This flocker of folks, now, a sad silhouette embracing a new normal.

Am I happy about it? No. I think this is pretty obvious.

Wasn’t really in the mood to write about anything today at all – except when a lady changed my mind, without knowing she did. A walker of walks in a weird wonky way, she was. It upset my emotional apple cart and forced my writer’s hand into action. To be sure, she is happily on her way peeling an onion or tucking a little cherub into bed – I don’t care, none the wiser to her habitual thingy-things at this moment. Her few seconds time interaction with me today was enough to unpeel my onion.

Ya see, she avoided me. Now, before you get all, “What’s the big deal there, Mr. Big Shot Blog Banger…?” on me, it was a sidewalk, passerby sleight. Simple to you – and possibly 99.999% of those considered normal in psychiatric circles – but irritatingly irrational, exceedingly egregious, and somewhat stupefying to me. Defined in my Freudian dictionary, I am currently socially distant from almost everyone who connects me to myself. Unfamiliars and Familiars alike. Today was another Day X and No Closer to Why the following happened:

I was sauntering south, she – in her black knee-length skirt and red sweater vest – heading north. Both of us sharing the sidewalk, kindly so, fifty feet apart. Catching friendly eye-glances of one another (or so I thought), her body language changed as I simply uttered, “Hello.” from a safe distance of what I assumed was at least two parked car lengths. She stuttered in gate, flip-flopped as if I spat-spittered the words, “I HAVE THE BLACK PLAGUE and AM A MUTANT!!”…

Am I over-acting the role? Yes. But, she started it!

She made quick work of her planned pedestrian route, eerr, .. shall I say excellent footwork in the alternate path – around, about, and in between any and all inanimate objects – in the overt attempt to avoid my ogre self. The man who could be infected with the dreaded Coronavirus. The man who should be avoided at the cost of saving the whole of human kind.

OK. That last sentence was a bit uber- dramatae. I get it. My psyche can’t handle a lot of this distancing. I’m not built for it. My X inside my brain doesn’t understand the why. My intelligence side does, though. I can read all the articles, study until the particulars prick their way out of my pores, and all’s well in the happy-smart world. Avoid me on an emotional sidewalk, and I become the sloppy, garbage “pale” mess only a late-night blog street sweeper can begin to clean up.

I ask the question, “why?”. I know why. She was afraid of my infected self. I get that. Not clueless here. To understand meant no blog, right? She did avoid me, which is more to the point. A simple smile and nod while quickly knee-jerking her Carl Lewis-ing, hurdle jumping self over two BMW’s at 60 miles-per-hour would have been a socially acceptable, better tea-sipping thing to do. I didn’t require much. Just acknowledging my insecurity at the time would have sufficed.

So that’s my story for today. Didn’t want to write much. Had to, I guess. Don’t know if today’s encounter had any effect on said red-sweater lady’s life, or not. She probably spent her day zig-zagging around ALL the N95 masked monsters in town.

As for me, I feel a bit better knowing there’s a connection here on my virtual huggy blog. An experience with people. Something I need.

At least on this space, you can’t avoid me. Well, you can, however, that defeats the purpose. If you don’t see the irony in that, I think I’ll need to avoid you for a while. At least until this stay-at-home mandate is lifted. When that happens, I know a sidewalk where we can meet.

Maybe a real nice lady in a black skirt will walk by. Do you want to stick your leg out as she goes by, … or, should I?

Plank, not Prank

An April Fool’s Day Plank. No, I didn’t spell it incorrectly. Exactly the way I meant it: P-L-A-N-K.

Prank, the generationally accepted form, is way too tame for today’s messed-up, “screw your opposing political view and accept mine!” world. So much intolerance, anymore. I want to take that very plank they stand on and whack it upside their zealous, arrogant, idea-inebriated, inhabitantly politically pompous heads. Too soon into the ongoing Covid-19 virus debate? I don’t think so?

Happy April Fool’s Day, everyone!

I love the meme going around social media: “April Fool’s jokes are on hold this year. No prank can outdo the shit we’ve been dealing with ..” Oh, I so agree. The virus. The f*cking virus (so sorry for the language, but you’re feeling it too, right?). Worldwide, humans are struggling with a new reality – a new normal as I’ve written so many times before.

Online teaching, Social Distancing, Government mandated-isms & over reaches (if that’s a “thing”), confusion from national leaders and medical experts, flattening curves not advised by Weight Watchers for a change, and shortages of masks, vents, and patience. NYC, Dr. Birx, the Pillow Guy telling us about God, arrests of preachers in Florida, navy ships, … all this … oh, and poor toilet paper is, well, yesterday’s news. These are our realities every day. One massive April Fool’s f*cking joke.

Who’s playing it on us? I have no potato-licking, speed-spitting idea. It’s become one big picnic of off-time recreational joy rides to big box stores, where families of, say, eight or more rug people pile into aisles looking for the latest flannel fashions. No BoGo sales? No problem! They’ll flam their way to the customer service desk to make use of valuable, strongly mandated stay-at-home time. There, I’m confident the over-worked, stressed, drastically under-appreciated gem of a human being will be glad to address and unmask the perfectly articulated complaint put forth by such an upstanding member of our community.

Am I bitter and a bit frustrated? Yes!! Does this show in my words?

Boxing out the big box stores, let’s get back to the four-one-plank problem. THIS is the splinter sticking in my side today. He said, on the right, She said, on the left … or, vice-versa. Doesn’t really matter the sex of either side. Well, unless a wife chooses, then whichever side is correct … of course, but I digress.

Discussion of politics at anytime is Ugh, right? Especially so when emotions are running faster than hearts at a Bon Jovi concert. Like NOW for instance.

Pick a political plank to stand on, and you will be well within the legal 6′ social distance of millions and miles apart from untold others. The space between is vast and getting wider. If you, with your (possibly) virus slopped garment draped over the unshowered three day body you have, dare express an opinion different from the dude/dudette snuffled up against you … good luck staying on that ship! So polarized and sensitive, are the Pirates of political discourse, that General Calm abandoned ship a while ago. He life-boated out once the words, “Do you solemnly swear to uphold the laws of the Constitution …. ” were spoken.

Take whatever election into consideration, and dump it into the canons of political, public discourse. Add a few pandemics, maybe a very divisive, selfish Congress, a few social media platforms, 24 hours non-stop news, mis-information ad-nauseam, extreme views about everything with no consideration of moderation, and a fascination – albeit fading – with toilet paper … and you have one hell of an April Fool’s Plank.

I don’t care, really, what year. 2020, 1984? (George Orwell-ian would have been nice, though)… 1776? (Ha! Imagine that)… Whenever. Just so happens this is a year of perfect vision – and we ‘ain’t got it. Wait. Allow me to correct that. Oh, some among us have it!! Just ask. Better yet. Look down at the plank upon which they stand.

…and then look across the wide, wide boat and recognize the other side. They’re just as committed. Both perilously walk their plank in opposing directions, destined to drop off into a sea of despair. Once they do, we have the ship to ourselves.

Great. A cruise liner full of moderates crowded around with nothing to do but play April Fool’s jokes on one another. Now what? Here’s one! We can’t dock anywhere now because our whole f*cking ship is probably contaminated with the virus.

Now THAT’S an April Fool’s Prank, yes P-R-A-N-K I can embrace. (But 6′ away, please. I don’t want the shitty virus).

A Pompeii Pal

Snarky around corner, but for a moment…

Italy is in the news. Our brothers and sisters are living through individual and collective stories written by an evil author of viral consequence. They are to be shown every ounce of compassion and support available. So, too, are all the sufferers of ills, depressions, and anxieties as result of this global pandemic. Surreal. Unlike anything our living, breathing earth has seen since 1918, when millions of our ancestral friends grievied the loss of loved ones themselves.

Italy was in the news during the late 16th century as well. Uncovered after centuries, buried under 19 feet of volcanic debris, the ruins of Pompeii were discovered.

Apparently, in 79 CE (Current Era … yeah, it’s a thing), Mount Vesuvius had what amounted to a bad gas day resulting in a quick burial for the unfortunate inhabitants below his bellowing ash hole. Fitting two word phrase seeing as how Mr. V decided to interrupt an otherwise ordinary day with sudden death, despair, and destruction.

Not aside, sarcasm is purposefully inserted here because it was masterfully – and sidewalk artfully – used by a toga wearing wall-writer at the time. More about this dude in a bit.

We have Pompeii. A bustling boulder, semi-metropolis of first century A.D. (C.E. ..?) thinking where grapes, scrolls, and steam baths-o’bacteria ruled the hours. Men of high stature statues lined the lanes and pebbles rumbled under the chariot wheels as horses pulled piles of hay atop peasant wagons.

Scenes of daily struggle were simple, I can suppose in my, now, coronavirus isolation, stay-at-home mandate mind. No electronics, cars, or airplanes flights to miss … or Facebook political opinions to violently tap in my opposition .. then delete before actually posting up.

Toga toddlers spinning about, discovering what was new to them that remained undiscovered by elders stuck in traditional ways of their ancestors. The legacy of what remains in the remains of every generation since. The cycle of cyclical time. Pompeii was just us a thousand-and-a-hundred-or-so years behind.

Enough deep, philosophical pandering to my early morning muse. Sorry ’bout that. She gets me … not in the sense, “She gets me” like “Wow, she understands my inner soul” … more like, “She freakin’ ropes me in with all the deep thinking and won’t untie me ..” kinda gets me.

Anyway. Pompeii.

The walls of Pompeii have an interesting history. According to “Uncle John’s Supremely Satisfying Bathroom Reader, 14th Book” …

“In Pompeii, the walls of every building were used as billboards on which anyone was allowed to write whatever they wanted. When the buried city was excavated, archaeologists found notices of upcoming plays at the theater, the schedule of games at the stadium, the price of goods at the market, and the comments of passersby.

The elections in Pompeii were coming up when the city was destroyed, so thousands of political ads were found, including this one: ‘Vote for Vatia, who is recommended by sneak thieves, the whole company of late drinkers, and everyone who is fast asleep‘ “

Sarcasm nearly 1,900 years ago. Gotta love it. Ironic, too, that we are in an election year as well. Good thing there’s no sarcasm here!! No volcanoes ready to erupt anywhere on social media walls anytime soon, right?? I can’t IMAGINE any of us writing our thoughts anywhere public …. oh, the shame to bear on our toga-less, exposed back-sided opinions these days.

So, back to our ancient spray can dude. He’s the real hero of this tale today. I’d even suggest he is our bare-back rider of a white Fresian horse; This mere peasant is the only hero for all humanity needing a sarcasm-saving champion of the day. I love this dude for one reason … and one reason only.

On the wall, he scrawled:

Everybody writes on the walls but me”

I’m sure he perished in the massive belch. Good for him. Dying as a sarcastic, real, grape loving toga dude. Live on, bro .. We’ve got ya covered from here.

If only I could find a local steam bath. I’m in the mood for some company. Social Distancing is killing my buzz and I’m out of spray paint.

Always the Tease

It’s 3:45 in the morning and I’m up as usual. My sleep-wake cycle is all weirded out much like half the country’s attitude right now. Social screens blowing up with contrarian viewpoints, arching flame-filled volleyballs across spiked nets … works of biased broadcasting to be sure. I’m certainly not one to kick sand in anyone’s face here. Or, am I. Atlas shrugged his shoulders at the man and then became a body of reckoning by facing down his bullies. Ayn Rand served up potential of the human mind and the consequences of our good intentions in “Atlas Shrugged”. Both are digging their heels, deeply, into the dark wet sand of our emotional ripples. We sit watching them play as the volley never ends.

Above looks like an itchy, painful, sand-in-the eyes mash of mix metaphors and cross-pollinating literary plaah. I grant you that. Again, it’s early (now, 4:32 a.m.), I’ve run low of hot tea, am checking in on Facebook as I type, and hear funny voices in my head. The latter not uncommon, by the way. Oh, and we are still Social Distancing … not from anything inanimate, mind you – just from anything breathing, moving, or otherwise capable of interacting on any level keeping me from losing my ever-loving mind.

So, let’s tie all this together .. the little bit I’ve here so far. Charles Atlas Shrugged (not shagged .. be careful – now, now) Ayn Rand at the beach playing volleyball. We’re watching them early in the morning on March 29th, 2020, during a mandated mindful-ish, societal time-out. I am sipping once again after filling my monopoly-themed mug once more with Garden Andes organic tea. Facebook became boring so I clicked out and the voices still remain but are less funny …

All this to say, you have my almost complete attention. For now. To the subject at hand: The word BUT. Not, BUTT, but BUT … only one “T”. Being ever so careful, I am clarifying for clarity, exacting for exactness. In the case of this word specifically, it’s … Always The T’s, … always. T’easing and pleasing, in the most joyous of ways, during these confusing, hard days.

This word has been peeking around the dunes lately, wanting to play with the big boys and girls on the beach. I am as guilty as the next bikini-clad, batman-boxer bathing suit, speedo sporting, sand surfing writer. We invite it on our literary towels, where tanner more sporty looking words lay, without considering its ability to shun onlookers. Once a but is seen, an interested glance accompanied by a wink and a nod turns away. Exposed to the sun’s light, a but cracks open a spasm doubt previously unkown to snufflers walking by. It negates any sweet smelling idea proposed by the sentence structurer. Therein lies the rub.

I’m not completely adverse to the idea of using the but word, however, it is used way too often. It’s crammed into sentences so often I don’t think even the most exquisite among literary laxatives would ease the log jam. So apparent in columns of online social and professional colonoscopical bloviating, I find its usage exhausting. No wonder we’ve seen a run on toilet paper. It’s not just due to the Covid-19 outbreak and panic buying ad nauseam. Some fault to all the professional editors who are scurrying about, raiding the big box stores, maxing out their corporate credit cards, driving up the stock prices of Charmin, Cottonelle and Angel Soft. They are trying to clean up the crap-storm, but messes of contradictory information floating around in every crevasse of porcelain popular opinions.

So, here we are … buckets upon buckets of wet sand starting to build castles on a beach that will, eventually, be washed out … BUT for now, we have to deal with what is. A world of he-said-they-said-she-said information where everyone is entitled to their opinion preceded by the word “but”. I see it everywhere, especially in the Facebook universe where a man-boy founder’s vision of a better, less ugly world is certainly not that right now. I would argue today is more in line with Zuck’s original intent, anyway. Lining up faces in a juvenile dorm room to poll away the pretty from the ugly … just now we are substituting opinions for faces.

We are caught, non-professionals and professionals alike, in this goofy paradigm. Our line in the sand is the constantly moving narrative of what is true and what isn’t. Every day the stories change. President Trump vacillates more than a well-oiled, grease pole of slimy day old engine oil and Congress couldn’t agree on where to take a sh*, well … I’ll keep it clean because they did, sorta, manage to pass a massive relief. err… bill, BUT

We will pay for it … eventually. There’s the rub, again.

Opinions are like ***s … as the saying goes, so I will get back to my original premise. But is a problem, Give me any proposition, follow it with “but”, and you’ve just negated your original position.

“I think you are gorgeous, but…”
“Wow, you certainly look nice tonight honey, but…”
“Thanks for your order, but…”
“I hate being Socially Distant from you, but …”
“Spiders can go suck on poison, but …”

See the problem? Now, to be clear, as a reply to another’s opinion, I could be persuaded. For example:


ME
“I’ve been up four hours now and I think the two mugs of tea I’ve consumed so far are making me delusional.”
YOU
“Yes, but think of all the fun you are having click-clacking away knowing you have all day to do absolutely nothing … abso-freaking-nothing!”

Aside from me asking why you are sitting next to me and I can’t see you, get my point? As a reply, it is ok. After your own idea, though, I’d avoid it like the Covid-19 virus…especially on social media. You’ll confuse an already stressed, red-eye-ball popping public whose tolerance for anything less than a two-seconds meme is already stretched thinner than the skin of a …. _______ (fill in your own descriptor here). The above examples are fine for humor’s sake, BUT when politics get involved, nasty-nasties comes out to play. I’ve seen it. To my shame and pity, I’ve engaged in such malfeasance to such a degree … forcing my play shovel into the sand … causing me to say…

… Here I sit. Watching Atlas and Ayn lob and volley. There are consequences of good intentions. One of them being my ability to not sleep during the night. Another, a willingness to share deep, profound knowledge with you, my loyal reader. So, here it is:

“This whole Covid-19 virus could be a once in every 100 year plague, or a simple over-hyped common flu bug, but maybe neither one. Could be somewhere in between the two. What do I know?”

Let’s hold hands in agreement as we sun bathe together here on my Superman towel. Oh, by the way, could you put some SPF 50 on my back? I’m starting to burn here.

Stuffy Classrooms and Hope

It is no longer an uncomfortable desk chair – among many of similar style with ages of scratched pen marks and gum – sitting in a stuffy classroom in August. This furniture in which I sit is plushy-comfy and significantly more adept at helping me stay calm. You see, as I write, I’m having 2 a.m. school flashbacks of first day, “What did you do last summer?” composition book, tell me stories. Didn’t matter what grade, teacher, building, bus I rode, or clothes worn on that first day back … some variation of “I want to know everything about your life when you weren’t here” had to be known.

Why this sudden anxiety? After all, those experiences were, … uhm, … some time ago and didn’t require any extra trips to the guidance counselor’s office or force me into a transic state of obvious obscurity. I moved forward into days two, three, and four of each year with little concern about that particular task. Giving no more thought to the teacher exhaustively pouring over my words of, “THIS is what I did …”, my steps tried to avoid larger pits of bullying, adolescence, and the blah-ugh of life I felt every day.

The summer story was always the same, anyway. Work. Don’t want to complain. So many lives with dirtier, nastier, grittier experiences in comparison and I have no right to gripe. I have not a “In the mine a boy, out a man” story to tell as I less-than gleefully found my way into strawberry fields or paper routes for summer income. Later, as permits allowed, transitioning into fast food service was easy and the dangers of black lung, methane poisoning, or collapsing walls were distant, non-existant realities. Safety with no worries and little time to recreate, summer was the time jammed in between compulsory education.

Why the anxiety now … at 2 a.m. … 40 + years later? What do I look like? A Therapist?

GEESH.

Why yes, … yes I am. I’m called upon to be my own right now. This is probably why I’m a bit anxious and the gods of teachers past decided to poke my REM. They are asking me to resolve this before the sun rises on another day. So, me … the dutiful student of things, always do what I’m told when asked of me … will comply.

Teacher: “Welcome back kids. The classroom, you’ll notice, is a bit different than before. Everything you were used to has changed. Look around. Write about what you see … “

——————-

“I don’t feel comfortable. I know you wanted me to write about what I see, but what I see makes me feel bad. You used to have happy pictures showing people holding hands, smiling, laughing… Where are they?

I’m sad. My friends are sad. They are angry at each other because what used to be kind words turned into bad words. They are not listening. Some of them are doing this unfriending thing now. “BFsF forever” thrown away.

I’m sitting here writing this looking around. My classmates aren’t happy. Their heads are down and it doesn’t look like anyone wants to do this assignment. The air here is stale. In this written silence, I ask you to open a window knowing you will not hear me. I saw you lock the door … and am convinced few others did. For my security – or the insecurity of others – I’m not entirely sure.

The windows to the outside give little assurance. Trusting what is seen out there is hard to do right now. Once calming tree branches used to massaging with the wind are now resisting harsh, cold jabs of unpredictable bruising.

Corners of this very room are the starkest 90-degree angles math has ever seen. Black and white of no variation takes hostage all colors wishing to brighten our hopes as we put pencils to our paper. This is the hardest “What did you do last summer?” I’ve ever been assigned. It’s not summer. I’m not happy. I suspect there are millions of fellow classmates in school with me right now. We’re stuck here.

Want to know what I see? Confusion. Anger. Mis-information. Greed. Political stupidity. Sadness. Death. Hatred. Bigotry.

This isn’t the conclusion, though.

What isn’t seen, but is in us, is HOPE. Yes, there are pockets of doing-good we can see. Personal stories of humans stepping up. Certainly – MOST certainly – props to ALL the medical front lines heroes pushing forward all the miracle medicine and making the hard decisions. They are my hope that we can get through all this. I have little faith in a political solution. Windmills and wishing there.

Hope is my unseen hero. It is my one-letter anagram off chance of a p-r nightmare not happening in the weeks to come. Hoping some calm, rational, peaceful minds can stand before us and teach us what we need to know about living with this pandemic.

Certainly, as IT stands before us today, we are not being properly educated in the matters at hand. No offense to you, teacher, as you read my composition over your drippy coffee, but, kindly get a clue.”

—————–

This once/100 year problem is teaching us about ourselves and showing us the real others. I’m not opposed to learning about the machinery in other folks’ skulls; However, when social media likes and dislikes turn into hatred and lifelong friendship breakdowns, there is stinkiness afoot.

Not just social media, but our own biases as well. Inabilities to accept even the smallest changes in a normal behavior pattern – even for the benefit of society – can be hard. Social distancing, I’ve witnessed as recently as yesterday, is still on the sideline for some folks … laughing their way through the day. Hand washing, coughing into your elbow, staying indoors, the 6-feet rule, sanitizing everything, all of this is sooo uncomfortably annoying – out of the normal. It’s really difficult to grasp for folks holding on, dearly, to what they’ve always known.

Staying composed while composing. This is all I can do for now. No real answers for anyone, I guess.

I’m sufficiently tired now. Two hours later and the anxiety has abated somewhat. Thanks for listening. Kinda wish my old guidance counselor’s office was available, though … better yet, my counselor himself! Now, wouldn’t that be fun? Would like to take the ‘ole composition book into his office and insist he give it a read. He may tell me I have too much time on my hands and suggest I look for a job. Oh, that’s the moment I’d be hoping for…

… that moment when I can reply, “Do you want fries with that?” Experience, after all, is the best teacher.

Sacrificial Spiders

The unavoidable updates on t.v., Facebook feeds, and over-the-shoulder glances at my local grocery store are forcing my hand. I wish upon wish it wasn’t so. This morning, my brother sent me a long text – one I’ve seen prior – detailing a higher level of panic and preparedness across the state. I wish upon wish THIS wasn’t so, either, but I don’t know … I just don’t know. And, of course, none of us know if this plan to quarantine under some “martial law” edict is the right thing to do – if, indeed, it is what’s going to happen.

I wish upon wish NONE of this was so. Every day I wake up not wanting to write about COVID-19. There are many, many other gorgeous propositions occupying my mind needing exposure. Alas, under threat of bulging eyeballs in the sockets of nervous neighbors, I cannot expose anything these days. One sneeze, a single cough … and I’m doomed to the Alcatraz of alarmism. It’s the way of us now.

On my mind are thoughts of my elderly dad with health problems and my wife, immediate family, friends, students, co-workers, customers … all under the umbrella, now, of COVID-19. No ideas of getting together soon for dinner and laughing. No wondering where we can meet up to eat pizza and ask, err … force, dad to pick up the tab. No jamming four adults into a small cafe booth to eat breakfast and, respectfully, pick on each other. No scooting around my cart to put my arm on a customer’s shoulder and say, “It’ll be ok” …

All of these are constantly swooshing around in my mind like the dirty little lines of water left behind before the final pass-over of a dry mop. I’m constantly being put through the ringer of COVID-19. All of us are. Irritating as these little lines are, however, they are reminders that there is a brilliantly waxable floor underneath. Just right now, the freakin’ dry mop is in the closet, locked up, guarded by the meany -man virus.

The watery-dirt of uncertainty is nasty stuff. On any given day … well, let’s say hour, information changes, and this depends upon who and what you’re watching. It is constantly refilling the bucket and swathered across our floors. At this point, we have no control of the kitchen mop, either. Feels like I’m standing on the seat of an emotional chair, spider-scared with a broom, swat-swinging at air, wondering what I’m afraid of, looking at cans of sorta-statistical-soup wondering if I have enough gas in the car to go buy T.P.

I wish upon freakin’ wish is wasn’t so. Right now, I want to be in my car headed somewhere – ANYWHERE – at this point. According to the unwritten law, I can go if information is correct. Limited travel is warranted to places necessary for survival. Food, medicine, the “necessaries” are allowed and avoidance of non-essential outside movement is what we’re all trying to do. Social Distancing, right? Flattening the Curve? Kinda wishy-wish my college 8:00 a.m. philosophy-of-whatever-life class professors would have considered “flattening the curve” back when I decided, mistakenly, to avoid their most interesting of lectures. Hey, I had the social distancing thing down waaay before all this started … except that I didn’t realize there were consequences. ‘My bad. Mmpffh.

And there are possible consequences, today, if we don’t do what is being asked of us. I don’t know, as I said before … none of us do. Information from the medical community is what it is because they, the professionals, can only guess based upon what they know.

As far as politicians, there are, granted, a few who care state-wide within their local district which, I would argue are the most important social connections we can have right now. Folks I can see and talk to directly are doing a great job… Senator Douglas Mastriano, Senator Judy Ward, PA State Representative Jim Gregory, PA State Representative Lou Schmitt to name a few. I’ll grant the odds makers a margin of victory on that betting sheet. A specific gripe could be directed to the national response from Washington. I very rarely opine politically here on my blog – and don’t care to ever again; However, the amount of unprofessionalism and partisan pandering on both sides, nationally, continues still as the average American steps into an unknown future without a sense of security.

What we face now is unavoidable – as was my urge to write about this stupid virus… again. Something like the moon, Google Hangouts with my dear sister, or EE bonds would have been exceedingly delightful in my overly charged wet-mop brain. This bonking (to be kind) virus is crawling its way around – no longer in the shadows of our imaginations. It’s real. I wish it wasn’t so.

Now, I have spiders to fight off. Amazing that I’ve been able to scribble this whole blog on one foot, atop a kitchen chair, with one hand holding a broom. We’re all making sacrifices right now. You’re welcome.

Well, Here We Are

Well. Here we are. This is certainly a situation I never saw coming and, for the record, I don’t like it. I don’t care for this at all. Somebody took my recipe for getting on with life and won’t let me cook anymore.

Legs that were once confidently slinking around the kitchen at 5 a.m. ready to tackle the day are now carrying a less confident torso. The head sitting on top is convinced life is still a valuable pursuit in the midst of what is – all of us know what is right now. Just that activity involving hands, legs, arms, knees, and toes feels different for some reason. Something is off.

Do you feel it? Some crazed goober snuck up six inches behind all of us and clank-smashed the biggest stainless pan … and now we’re hanging upside down off the ceiling in fear with our heads arched back, looking down … wondering what the hell just happened.

I let go after a bit. Couldn’t hang on any longer. Frankly, my attention span gave out as I believed the b*stard who started this whole thing walked out. But, I did find a pot to wallow in. The water is warm. C’mon in!

Here’s what I can do. Maybe you can sit in this kettle of mixed up emotions with me – perhaps even grab the spoon and stir? Help me understand. I’ll list the ingredients of my coping, soothing, sorta soup-sloth and we’ll see if a sip-tasty spoonful comes of it.

Here’s what I’ve been doing in the coping kitchen of my life. Oh, and I’m being a rebel …. no apron of shame here.

Ingredient #1. Nervous eating. My favorite by a mile. Snacky temptations. In first place are salty pretzels with their tempestuous off-eight shape and no redemptive carbs. I’m not so much a pretzel stick fan – kinda boring – as I am more a loopy pretzel kinda guy. So many options there, although I process them the exact same way. Every. Single. Time.

Nachos and salsa, or hummus, swings around the corner in second as a nice alternative if I’m plinking away on the computer. Baby carrots can substitute as well … although I didn’t realize they’re not as healthy as I once believed. Trail mix, cookies, honey nut cheerios are always in the race as are grapes, apples, klondike bars and leftover pizza.

All of these, if available, give my hands something to do, temporarily acting as a transport of yummies. That’s where the satisfaction lies – unconciously placing potentially delicious digestibles into my mouth, down to a happy belly … making a very happy Doug. Over and over … and over.

Ingredient #2. Busy work. Papers, pens, music, desk drawers, boxes of unknown origin, cards, … so much to do I never realized was so important to do. Moving insignificance from one unimportant place to another. Boy, doesn’t that say it all? File this. Fold that. Found this. Figure I’ll need this later? Finally done …. nope. I spy another freakin’ file-folder flop-mess on the fringe of finality that is in need of fandangling. Ah, F*!!

I invite busy-ness by never allowing it to leave. Surprising I even offered to allow partial grabiness of the spoon above. For my life’s purpose, busy can be an acronym for Be Useful, Save Yourself if used contextually correct. Useful in the context of picking up processed pulp and placing it somewhere else, thus saving myself the aggravation of trying to find something else to do.

Ingredient #3. Bloated binge time with big T.V. I choose to sit, mainly, and combine ingredient #1 with this entertainment medium. The two combine to make the most delicious waste-of-time-stew. Actually, that’s not fair to either. Munchies are awesome and most of the shows I find ravenously appealing, so to shovel a heaping pile of waste upon them is stinkely unfair.

What’s unfair is my age. Waking up hours later to find half-eaten nachos on my lap and a screen saved bzzz-ed reflector ten feet in front of my split ankles without knowing what happened to the blind lizard that fell off a second story balcony hours ago? ….. that’s unfair! Now, I could go back, reset the program, and rewatch the show … but what’s the point? There are too many other different shows to attempt: comedians, TED talks, YouTube everythings, music videos, concerts, games, and my personal favorite …. the blank screen – where I can see my reflection close up. I, for sure, am able to wiggle juvenile faces as if someone on the other side of this limited broadcasting universe is being amused by my antics. That’s, like, all the above wrapped up in one, provided I can stay awake long enough to enjoy it myself.

Ingredient #4. Free Internet Poker. Nople encouragot gamblot. Latin for “I do not want you to think my desire is for your life to be about chasing aces”. Mine isn’t, ahem, either. Just because I know my way around the one site, recognize most of the users and their playing styles, and sometimes mix in ingredients #1, #2, and #3 while in a hand doesn’t mean I’m there a lot …. right?

But, I kinda am.

And I like it. The messy math, pushy players, unknown angsts, what’s they going to do-ests, crazy calls/folds/&checks, …oh, and the creative language I get to use occasionally. You know the kind, right? The messy dog poo find on the carpet at 3:25 am, or the chair leg / little toe meet-up kind of adjectival, archival, ancestral-be-proud, profound proliferation of probable profanity type. A literal spew all of us can beckon during a painful whimsey of fate.

Sometimes I win and find no need for anti-normal language. The victories are magnificent. Peaceful. To invest hours and receive one-thousand actual non-monetary credits as the top winner? Well, wait ’til the phone company gets notice that I’m paying them in online casino credits!! They’ll be Jack-thrilled, I bet (see what I did there?😄😉).

Ingredient #5. I spent my later teens watching Johnny Carson. As an adult, I teared up as he began his last speech, sitting alone on a stool, atop a mark on the very stage he stood making me laugh along with millions. In that speech he spoke a phrase I’ve never forgotten: “And so it has come to this ….”

And so it has. We are shut down. Completely. Whatever this means to you, I’ll allow that. There is no definition sitting well for any of us. I am at a loss for what to do. Here we are. Damn it, we’re here.

My last ingredient – my go to – is here. My Doughugs. My space. My words. My one heartbeat at a time. I will never, ever be shut down.

Find your heartbeat that can never be stopped. For the record, you don’t have to like what’s going on, but stay in the kitchen, hold on tight to the recipe you love for your life … and keep your head up.

I’m here in the stew pot writing. Come on in if you get bored. We’ll find something to do.

Viral Reasoning

There is a specific reason for happenings. I like to believe that, anyway. Call it a god belief, fate, or an happenstance … I’m not concerned what title is placed upon such a motive. Just that it exists is enough for me. Without that basis, what possible foundation would there be for anything to happen?

A motto, “There’s no reason for this or that”, makes no sense in my world. There has to be an A before a B, 1 before 2, three before “point-one-four” in pi …

I’ve hesitated for a few days. Really paused and waited …. contemplated … scratched the living beejeebers out of every intention to not write about the COVID-19 virus. Again. There needed to be a good – not good, great – personal reason to do so. Looking under every beggable rock available, I pleaded for reasons to stay away, yet at the same time wanted to join in the chorus of voices that sang the praises, or echoed the boos. It was too enticing … I sat on the bench while others continued to play the game of words.

I asked myself, over and over, “What would be that reason?”… “Invite me to stay away, please.”, became the drumbeat incessantly whacking Facebook and social media intentions inside my head. To this day, face-to-face friend meeting places of good-repute, in which I actively engage apart from digital 0’s and 1’s, encourage my ramblings through obligatory “uh-hums” and that’s-nice-ities. Reading, listening, and talking in the company of friends and books are all admirable activities, but just didn’t have enough torque to pin me down.

After a few days, I found my great reason.

I can’t not write about it. Double negative, I know. Kinda fits the COVID-19 narrative. It is the unknown vs US. A two-sided, unfair match where we find ourselves in a haze of unpreparedness, lack of education, and greed – yes, greed. People, QUIT hoarding TP!!

Everything, as of this morning, is shutting down … NBA games, colleges, schools, theatres, etc… I can’t wrap my mind around all this. Literally, it’s gone viral. This whole idea of panic, pandemic, … whatever you choose to call it … has changed the way we are going to live for the short term, apparently.

And this is why. A reason. A pretty damn great reason.

…and a reason you, as a reasoning, mature adult should think this through as well. This is all about us. A global society. One that relies on a fair distribution of information and resources. In times like these, we need accurate and reliable information in a timely manner from sources we can trust. Our elected body MUST separate themselves from ideology and become national leaders speaking as one voice. Most importantly, greed and self- interest – so engrained in our DNA – has to be resisted for the greater good of our neighbors.

I don’t believe we have end-times stuff going down. Geesh, I hope not. I have plenty more pizza to eat and texas hold’em hands to play. I can live without crowds, except my concession business may suffer short-term. Hand washing isn’t a problem, although I’m getting a bit chaffed on the knuckles. Sneezing into elbow? Not a problem – always did.

My dad is 82 and I worry about him. He’s in the age bracket where there is some concern. He hasn’t traveled, nor has he been in contact with anyone I know of who has been out of the country, or on a cruise. I have a pretty average life with bills I can’t pay and a seasonal business that should get started this weekend …. with crowds …. maybe. It’s all life right now with a virus floating around.

There’s a reason for it in 2020. Sometimes, I don’t know why. Just that it is, I guess. Except this time, I know. We need to get away from all the talking points, sound bites, and Facebook-isms. There are humans on the other side of our lives. People with problems, happy times, and reachable moments. Friends, relatives, and strangers who need us in a viral world when computers and cell phones fail to give us what we need – a vaccine for our isolation when COVID-19 knocks on our door.

It is us now. It is our real for the time we have together the next few weeks, possibly months, as reason and calm must be our guide.

Be kind to one another. We are all we have. That’s an awesome reason to be. Period.

Coordinating Truth

Following is a Facebook post of mine from 3/8/2020. Just feeling a bit frustrated at the moment. Should any replies/comments post in the coming days, I will update as needed.

Full faith and confidence that we, as a country, are going to get through this Covid-19 thing – with a few bumps along the way – and it’ll all be ok.

There are mixed messages all over the place, which is more disturbing to me than the virus itself. What happens after the coronavirus settles out of our memories is where my mind goes.

There’s a bigger picture here. This isn’t an isolated Trump vs Democrats vs his administration vs the media vs medical experts thing. It’s all of the above. There is literally NO coordinated effort from anyone, anywhere to help us understand what’s going on. All we hear is who is, apparently, right .. who is making decisions, and who is, theoretically, in charge of “something” … I don’t know who to trust. Period.

And THAT’S the bigger picture here. What IF we have a larger, national problem than an irritating virus (with all due respect to the loss of life and apparent severity of this virus)?… The Covid-19 infection has lifted the lid on the complete inefficiency and inability of Washington to “come together” for our benefit. Meaning, put someone out front who speaks truth … backing it up with facts we can trust .. and don’t undermine said person. Give us daily updates, procedures and policies. Simple, right?

I know. I know. Apologists please don’t give me reasons on either side. I’m not interested. The system isn’t working. If it was, confused messages wouldn’t be spreading faster than the virus itself. I’m not a hater. Your views politically, although valuable, aren’t necessary for purposes of this post. This isn’t politics. It’s Washington as a whole.

Everyone is at odds with everyone. Half the country hates President Trump, so he’s not the answer. The other half think Democrats are lousy … that’s not going to work. Medical experts are tossed aside like yesterday’s news and talk show commentaries and silly mask memes are held up as gospel.

We need to start coordinating truth in our country. Should a more serious time come when we need to come together as one for an extended period of time, we need each other AND a leader all of us can trust. We need everyone under one umbrella of single-minded thinking or we’re not going to make it.

For now, we’ll be ok. I suspect for the short-term all will remain in place. For the sake of our children, however, can we please get our national house in order? Radical politics and the marginalization of basic human decency is beginning to undermine my trust in any message I hear from Washington.

Coronavirus Today, Anyway

Holding my cell phone as I type … and wondering: Are there any coronavirus molecules on here? … if molecules is even the correct term to use. I don’t know.

How could I know? No one has sneezed on it or held it lately, so odds are in my favor. I wash my hands regularly – in hot water and soap for 20 seconds – at least 10 times each day and sanitize the case of my phone with wipes once in a while. Travel is limited due to lack of free time and money. I avoid my friends at all cost because they don’t find my jokes funny. Finally, the news reports have me wondering why I am even alive at this point, so I’m at an impasse … ARE there molecules here …. or NOT?

I woke up 45 minutes ago with a stuffy nose. Details unnecessary. Under normal early March circumstances, I’m thinking too much white flour in my diet yesterday combined with not enough water consumption, or a seasonal allergy. I did have a large, leafy salad for lunch yesterday which probably saved me from a pit of misery this morning. Anyway, at first light bleeping, my cell phone MSN feed reports additional cases of Covid-19, blacklighting my already germ-anic, panic-laden nose closure. Did I wiggle a finger in my eye the past few days? Was my mouth open to the possibility of airborne particulates precipitating possible pathogens?

Sipping organic tea, casually nibbling on a Clif bar, and occassionally stabbing a few honey nut cheerios are the three things I can do right now to quell my supposed fear of coronavirus. An agitation I’m told every day to tattoo on my must-worry-about armful of things to carry around, like paying my bills, working, eating, and … living.

We know the statistics. Facebook friends have been sharing all the graphs and charts. There are more pies and bars on Facebook right now than in a drippy glazen bakery attached to an oozy, nutty chocolate factory. Doctors sitting under fancy lighting, presenting 5 minute professional summaries, with cartoon-bubbly spiked balls of badassery popping up on my feed every day. This-and-thatery being hyped from New York news rooms to Bay area think tanks.

I am a piano playing blogger with NO medical experience, save the safe application of a band-aid on a finger once in a while. I am also a very compassionate person who grieves the loss of any person, for any reason. Our extended family has been touched by the tragic loss of a young lady who lost her life battling a super-virus. Truly nothing to mock or satirize in a demeaning manner. I would honorably stand by the side of any person and console them while still convinced the Covid-19 news cycle now, intended or not, is way overblown.

There’s no reason sanitizer bottles, wipes, and surgical masks should be selling out like milk and TP during a snow storm. Additionally, if people thought President Trump was incompetent before all this, any response to a super-virus is akin to him entering the nuclear codes. Travel overseas and cruise ship considerations I do see being reevaluated … those make sense. Some friends are looking into changing modes of transportation from planes to cars for interstate travel. Hey, if they want to switch three hours in a plane for multiple days in a sweaty (possibly germ infested) heat box laden with blabs of kids, juice boxes, snack crumbs in the seats, traffic, a nag-i-vator in the passenger seat, and no control over anything? … go for it!!

We need to make our own decisions. I get that … there was a day all this seemed easier. The news wasn’t so overwhelming. We woke up with stuffy noses, blew them, and thought no more about it. If coughing ensued, a call to the doctor was warranted. I guess today’s world is better with easier access to Googles of information as well. Good and bad. WebMD and common sense. Coronavirus hype and settled-psyches.

I’ve been breathing comfortably through my nose since sipping my tea … refilled twice. Clif bar gone … and cheerios? Quite yummy. Still wondering if I have an infected phone, though. I’ll run a scan! Oh, wait. I can’t do that. I can’t run a check to see if the Covid-19 molecules are dancing the merengue on my phone. Damn! Why am I paying for an antivirus program if I can’t use it … especially now?

Alert the press!!

Here’s to the future of all this … much of which I don’t have a blasted clue. For now, wash your hands, wipe off all phones with sanitizer pads if you can find them, and please don’t sneeze or cough on anyone. Stay away from anything looking ooey, gooey, or pooey. Love your neighbor, stand by anyone needing compassion and care … and please filter all the news through a common sense brain I know you have.

I’m out of tissues, patience, and time. Be well.