It’s still very, very cold outside. I still can’t flush the toilet, take a shower, do laundry. I am, however, warm and fed and entertained. In a couple more days I hope most of this is a distant memory.
I’ve always thought it was serendipitous that National Hugging Day would fall on my brother’s death anniversary. I always appreciated being around people on this day, because I would get loads of hugs.
I’m a hugger. Being in essential isolation for 312 days now with no hugs or touch whatsoever, I understand why hugs and affection are important.
I’m weeks, likely months, from being vaccinated twice. When I think about it, I want to scream or cry. Or eat a cupcake. I am relieved, however, that the current President has an actual plan to get two vaccines in my arm sooner rather than later.
I will never take hugs for granted any more. If you have someone in your social distancing pod, hug them from me.
I had not watched Selma until today. My love for Ava DuVernay not withstanding, I knew watching it would tear me apart. Three minutes in, I was sobbing. The murders of Addie May, Carole, Cynthia, and Denise by the KKK made me scream, “Why?!” I know this was one of over 40 bombings by the KKK. Violence is never the answer.
I know Dr. Martin Luther King wasn’t perfect, but he answered the call. He acted. Peacefully. He incited peaceful protests. He led marches. He lived the words he spoke.
It’s been nearly two weeks since non-peaceful insurrectionists, white supremacists, invaded our Capitol while Congress was in session with the intent to harm. They gleefully recorded their exploits and posted them in various places, including Parler, a cesspool of white supremacists, neo nazis and a few people wandering in because they believe they are being censored (they aren’t) elsewhere.
They are having the nerve to act surprised that they are being arrested for breaking into the Capitol building (a felony), stealing Capitol property, and vandalizing what they proudly proclaimed as “our House.”
Some were armed. Some beat a policeman with a Blue Lives Matter flagpole. A policeman, trying to keep these insurrectionists from killing Congressmembers, died. Their grievance? Believing the lies peddled by the soon to be former administration. Their grievance? Butt hurt that whites are losing their grip on the power they’ve kept through voter suppression and maximizing their minority through that suppression and other means.
Why is equality so scary to some? Fear is driving these people to attack the very foundations of our democracy and spew hatred while praying to God. It’s been 55 years since the beginning of the Civil Rights movement and we’re still so far behind where we need to be as a nation.
If you are one of the white supremacists that marched into the Capitol building, you aren’t being persecuted, you are being held accountable. You stood up for someone who couldn’t care a rat’s ass about you, and you will pay the price for your actions and he will not rescue you.
I, myself, dream of a vibrant, “minority-majority” society. One where we can live together in harmony, celebrating each others’ differences, and celebrating our shared humanity. I believe it’s still possible, but only if we acknowledge that there’s still a problem, and only if we cut out the heart of the white supremacist movement and stand up for all people.
I have lived paycheck to paycheck most of my life. I have had to decide between gas and groceries and not just once. I have visited the food bank. I had to let my teeth go because I couldn’t afford the dental care I needed. I drove cars that broke down constantly.
AND I WORKED MY ASS OFF. At one point, I had three jobs and still sometimes wondered if I’d have enough gas to get to work. While life is much better for me now, I remember feeling the judgement, real or perceived, because I couldn’t make ends meet working those three jobs (without health insurance) and I couldn’t make my degree work for me either.
If your definition of socialism is “someone I don’t like or I think doesn’t deserve” what you already have, you a) need a dictionary, and b) you should be thankful you have the privilege you can stand on and make judgements from.
Poverty is not a moral failing, it’s a failing of a system. I’m no longer ashamed of what some call “wasted years”. Since I lived it, I know how hard it is to overcome it. There aren’t always opportunities, they need to be created. One was created for me, and I haven’t forgotten it.
Instead of “they don’t” or “they shouldn’t”, perhaps we should start talking about “we” and “us.” That’s what community is all about.
I can’t believe we are at the end of 2020. I started off the year by choosing “Roar” as my One Word 365 choice. Little did I know I would not be the one roaring my way through the year, but COVID 19 would instead.
Today is social distancing day 291. Trying to bring my thoughts together is difficult, simply because the circumstances of my life haven’t really changed from day to day. I had so many plans for my staycation, but mostly all I’ve done is survive. That, my friends, is a worthy goal achieved. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Last night, I took a late call from a friend who lost her mother to a savage, quick-spreading cancer. We talked about all COVID had taken from us, robbed from us in broad daylight. Though she was able to have the final, precious moments with her mother, her confidante, her best friend, she was robbed of all the moments she could have had if she had been able to visit her in the hospital the last few weeks. My aunt could have had her family visit her and not leave her wondering if everyone was dead because they weren’t coming to see her. My aunt didn’t understand. My friend doesn’t understand. I don’t understand.
None of us understand.
COVID has robbed me of visits, precious time with my family. Some aren’t getting any younger, and some are getting older at a pace that if you blink, so much is missed. Kids are missing the camaraderie of choir, sports, clubs, and special dances. The adults are missing some semblance of preciously needed down time. Others are missing company. We are all missing something.
Yet there are still people out there who complain about masks or doing anything to prevent COVID for their neighbor. Even if it was only symbolic and not effective, as they claim, they still show their selfishness putting their supposed inconvenience against showing they care for their neighbors, their families, OUR families.
One of my childhood “Dads” passed from COVID recently. Two more adults from my childhood have died as well in the same time period, and while they may not have passed from COVID, COVID is robbing the families of proper funerals, robbing them from the normal first steps of the grief journey.
Compassion is free. Kindness costs nothing. Empathy means you are emotionally mature enough to realize it’s NOT ABOUT YOU because you’ve felt someone else’s pain and you can understand what someone’s going through. Our country is full of people who cannot muster any of those three emotional states or actions. That’s one of many frightening revelations COVID has shown me about America in 2020.
I am hopeful, that as vaccines are distributed (disturbingly slow) that COVID, the great thief, becomes COVID the great professor of how to human better. Many lessons yet to learn, many battles yet to fight, but we made it to this point in time. A time to look back (20/20) and a time to look forward.
I haven’t chosen a “One Word” for 2021. I don’t know if I will or not. After all, I chose the voice of a lion for a year that began hopeful and bright that turned into a roaring storm that has tossed me about while staying rooted in the same place for way too long. I need to think more carefully and reflect on lessons learned in 2020 that began like a lamb, and is ending as a rain-soaked roaring lion.
I’ll be honest, this week has been awful so far. My oldest aunt passed away on Sunday afternoon. While I am relieved her husband and one of her children was able to be with her in the end, because of COVID, she spent too many weeks alone, not understanding why. One day there will be a reckoning for the selfish and careless who did nothing to keep this virus at bay. I’m sad, I’m angry, and I hurt for my family who has to navigate what would normally be devastating in itself and now all the rules are different and the norms are thrown out the window.
On top of that, tomorrow would be my older brother’s 55th birthday, so I face tomorrow, as I always do, with mixed emotions, and fresh grief piled on top. Grief is grief. Grief is also different at the beginning and the middle, and grief is different for everyone who experiences it. No one, and I mean no one, should tell another how they should grieve. Yet, I encourage people to feel their way through their grief and not avoid it, no matter how much time has passed – one hour, or forty-two years.
Sometimes, I can’t wrap my brain around time. It’s been almost twenty years since I last heard my brother’s voice or saw his face but measured in feelings, it feels like yesterday. Grief has no expiration date. I used to think it should have a date where it didn’t hurt anymore, or sneak up out of left field and surprise me, but now I know that will be impossible. Where those minutes and years and feelings and time collide, there is a reminder that I was loved by a brother who also teased and tortured and supported me like most brothers do.
If I try to bypass the convergence of grief, triggered by whatever it just so happened to be that day, I miss out on memories, on reminders of silly or lighthearted moments that grief can never take away.
Throw in 2020 and all of its emotional landmines, and sometimes it’s the perfect storm of emotion. Still, I’ve learned to look at grief as a gift – grief leads me back to people I miss, to moments I cherish, to reminders that make me smile, even through tears.
I spent this morning watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I’ve loved watching them honor other NY parades (canceled by COVID) by integrating some of those festivities with their own. I’m sure it’s not the same for some to have to watch on TV, but I applaud NBC giving us some sense of normalcy on this holiday.
Watching COVID march through my own family has been alarming and disheartening. I am grateful all had mild cases, but sad they had to have it at all. After being so careful for nearly nine months, I long for the days when quarantines and masks are part of the history of 2020.
I am thankful today for my family and friends. I should be in California right now enjoying some eggnog coffee and relaxing after walking a 5K. Alas, I am about to pop a turkey breast in the oven and turn on a football game.
Today is the 13th anniversary of my start date with MAN Energy Solutions. I am grateful for all this job has meant to me, not only financially, but for what it’s taught me and how I’ve grown. I’m also especially grateful for my new Passat. I am blessed beyond what I could ever have imagined 13 years ago.
My apartment complex is quiet today, which means people are off visiting and celebrating. I will make the best of today – adjusting expectations has been a specialty of mine this year. I will cook and FaceTime with family and enjoy my day.
I’m nearing eight (8) months in near isolation. While I do get to see other faces from time to time, and I try to get outside when hopefully the air won’t choke me (thanks, allergies), I’m still more alone than I’d like.
Though I talk to many people, including coworkers, at some point next year (hopefully sooner rather than later), most of us will file back into our currently abandoned offices and cubicles and try to pick up where we left off. I believe that will be more difficult than it seems.
After months, if not a year, of not seeing each other, we’re going to be put back into face to face situations with people we’ve spent very little time with during that time. We’ve all changed in the last few months. There’s been an election that will divide some of us further, some have spent time cooped up with spouses and children, and others have been alone, like me.
We need to acknowledge time has passed. This COVID experience has changed us for good or bad. Some of us have lost people we know and love during this time. Some of us have been unable to attend weddings, funerals, baby showers, holiday parties and other gatherings. All of these holes have been filled with something, especially the emotional ones.
I will be the first one to say that I’ve changed. For the better, I hope. I have a greater appreciation for our differences. I’ve also become even more bold, outspoken and less tolerant of ignorant bullies. I am stronger than I thought I was. Even now, I’m still growing.
One day, we’re going to emerge and reintroduce ourselves to the rest of humanity. What have we done with this time to improve ourselves? Time will tell.
If you peruse my Instagram account, you’ll see many photos of items on the sidewalk, from the sidewalk level or on the ground or beach from that level. I was asked why I had decided to switch to that point of view.
Every photographer has a style or particular themes/subjects to their photos. Even if you aren’t a professional photographer, most of us take photos to freeze moments in time – memories, stories that are revived and remembered from that visual cue.
Besides storytelling, my style or theme has always been to take normal, ordinary objects, people or scenes and make them extraordinary by showing or revealing something new from an unusual angle or view. Art is everywhere, you just have to fine tune your eyes to see it.
My creative juices are stimulated by travel, seeing my tribes and visiting parts of the world I’ve never been before. I’ve been social distancing for 222 days now with no end in sight. To say that being in the same place for this long really stagnates the creative well is an understatement. Walking the same sidewalks and trails over and over does not lend itself to inspiration – unless you cultivate it yourself.
A few weeks ago, there was something on the sidewalk and I turned my phone over and put it where the lens was next to the sidewalk to see what that perspective would bring me and the On the Sidewalk series was born.
I’ve been trying to cultivate creativity wherever I can – photography, cooking, blogging. Being creative keeps me more balanced than when I don’t do anything at all. While photography is a love of mine and I do it well, writing is my first love.
That brings me to NANOWRIMO 2020. A typical November finds me traveling for nearly half of it, and I spend a great deal of time in photography mode. This year, I will have ample time off, but nowhere to go due to COVID and Covidiots. I’m challenging myself to do NANOWRIMO and write 50,000 words in 30 days and see if that sparks anything, or at the very least, keeps me sane.
Whenever one well (photography or writing) gets a little dry, tapping the other well seems to bring both back up to a healthier level, which brings me up to a healthier level. I have a few days left to prepare and next Sunday I’m diving in!
I’ve been mocked by how seriously I take my COVID precautions. I’m not an alarmist. Anyone who tells you COVID not serious or that you don’t have to be careful, or it’s just like the flu, hasn’t experienced COVID personally or known anyone who has or they’ve just been super lucky.
It’s personal now. I hate that it’s personal now. COVID can affect the lungs and heart (and so many other things) long after a negative test. I’ve known this in my head. Now I know it for a fact. I hope none of you have to learn this the hard way either personally or because of someone you know and cared about.
No, I don’t have COVID. And I will continue to be super cautious so I don’t get it. Monday, my doctor cautioned me that the next wave is coming and implored me not to relax, to not let my guard down. Hunker down, get to the other side.
No matter the intention or diligence, the only person I can trust to take care of me and ensure that the right precautions are taken is me.
Today is day 214, and I’m not sure I can do a video today without weeping, screaming or begging. Maybe I’ll try later. I don’t know. I’m still upset. The mixture of emotions – knowing COVID ultimately ended the life of someone I knew, wondering how long we have to wait for the politics to be extracted from this virus and wondering how long until I can safely see people and hug people and just relax outside of my bubble – it’s all so overwhelming right now.
I’m grateful I am able to work from home and I have everything I need in my bubble. I plan on living a long life. I have too much to do and see and experience and I will never take any of that for granted again.
Please, please take COVID seriously. I don’t if care I’m mocked anymore. I know I’m doing what’s right for me and those around me. When I get to the other side of this season, I will have no regrets.