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Posts Tagged ‘children’

Hallelujah! The Grands got their first jab of the Pfizer vaccine against Covid 19. Sounds like I could write a country song about this day!

“Their daddy piled them in the car, drove for miles to a Walgreens store

Rolled up their sleeves with a great big smile, no tears, all style

They got the Pfizer Vaccine

Gonna help them fight off Covid 19″

Maybe I’ve been living in Nashville too long? But I swear I got all teary when I saw their little red band-aids on their arms. To celebrate, I cooked a big pot of goulash and offered free delivery since the Bride was working all weekend and the Groom was on dad duty. She had made plans for tacos, so we combined our Mexican/Hungarian menu to the delight of all.

Then I read this article about a different kind of immunity. It’s something for your brain that won’t let you end up at the other end of a rabbit hole.

“Here’s the idea: false, baseless, and destructive ideas are mind-parasites. Some are infectious and harm the minds that host them. But minds have defenses — “mental immune systems” — that offer some protection. These are natural systems, and we can study them like we do other natural systems. We can learn how they work and why they sometimes fail. Then, we can apply what we learn to prevent mental immune system breakdowns.

Cognitive immunologists are making strides. We’ve identified the mind’s antibodies. We know the basics of how mental immune systems work. (A healthy mind deploys questions and doubts to ward off problematic ideas; in unhealthy minds, this “mental immune function” is suppressed, misdirected, or hyperactive.)”

https://medium.com/@andynorman/why-arent-we-all-conspiracy-theorists-d14c7ac2b123

My Daddy Jim used to tell me on a drive in the country, that a large field of telephone poles is where they grow telephone poles. And I actually believed him, that phone poles shoot straight up out of the ground in their perfectly round-hewn condition. Because kids believe what their parents say for awhile, like ducking your head in the car when your dad drives under a bridge.

But eventually kids grow up and begin to doubt that a bridge could actually hit your head encased inside a car. They begin to separate their ideas from their parents, along with their music. But not everybody grows up in the same order, some take longer and some never quite get there. If a child grows up in a very strict, ‘my way or the highway’ house, they may never be allowed to wonder or ask questions.

This child may decide that he doesn’t eat Chinese food because he’s not Chinese because that’s what he’s heard in his house. And when another culture is feared or derided all the time, it multiplies xenophobia and hatred.

What if you grow up in a house that learns to make sushi, and doesn’t mind if your nana brings over pizza dogs for a birthday party even though your family has decided to be vegetarian. With some fish. In hindsight, I could have tried to make pizza fish sticks.

Our generation was the last to suffer with polio and measles. I studied deaf children in college, babies who were born deaf because their mothers contracted German measles during their pregnancies. Infants today are automatically vaccinated for Measles, Mumps and Rubella. But technology has helped spread some pretty medieval thinking around vaccine drives and public health with divisive ideologies; many being steeped in Anti-Semitism as I learned on CNN Lisa Ling’s “The Conspiracy Effect.” https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/tv/story/2021-10-06/lisa-ling-cnn-this-is-life-connects-hate-racism-in-american-history

Never, did I EVER expect to wake up this morning to see Big Bird getting cancelled by a Republican who looks like Uncle Fester. That sweet big yellow bird was telling parents and children to get vaccinated, you would think he was Big Brother telling us how to think. When the problem is too many people refuse to think, to analyze, to engage their brain. Too many have done “their own research” on Facebook. A place that will only amplify conspiracy thinking and science denial if it makes them more money.

We are not fighting a culture war with the Republicans. They would like us to define this gap in rational thinking as simply a cultural divide. But it’s not. There is no alternative view of the Holocaust. There are no chips being implanted in arms. Spreading false and misleading information and insisting we debate with them is insane. Our country must recover from a presidency that fed on conspiracy theories like it was manna from heaven.

We are better than that. Instead of spreading lies about children being trafficked, we can spread the word that vaccinations actually save lives. We can take back the conversation, and we must.

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In Norway yesterday, a guy picked up a high-powered bow and arrow and started shooting people inside a supermarket. Four women and one man were killed, several more were injured.

In England today, David Amess, a conservative Parliament member, was stabbed several times by one of his constituents in a church. The world news media would like to look for a reason, what prompted these men to run amok?

Just imagine if they had access to assault rifles for a minute.

Because in my humble opinion, and I’ve said this before, GUNS are a uniquely American problem. Crazy isn’t at all unique – the percentage of people who hear voices telling them to do harm is most likely similar across the planet. Most people, when they are fired from a job, quietly pack their belongings in a box and stroll out the door. A very small percentage might think to walk back in with a weapon… and an even smaller number might do just that, if they owned or could easily steal a gun. And in America, gun sales are booming!

Just this year, two Kindergarteners in Florida found a loaded handgun in their back packs!

“The 26-year-old mother had placed the case and loaded handgun in her son’s backpack while cleaningouther car the night before, she told police, but then forgot to remove it before he went to school. Now, Carroll faces a second-degree misdemeanor charge for allegedly failing to store the weapon in a secured locked box, allowing a minor access to the firearm, court records state.She is also facing a second charge for missing an October court appearance.

The incident is at least the second recent case of a Florida child finding a loaded weapon in a backpack. Earlier this week, a Florida father was arrested after his son fatally shot his mother during a Zoom call with her co-workers. Prosecutors said the toddler found the gun inside a “Paw Patrol” backpack at the family’s home in Altamonte Springs.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/10/15/florida-mom-charged-placing-gun-kindergartner-backpack/

OK, you might say well, that’s Florida. But it’s not – it’s two Nashville teenagers being tried as adults for gunning down a musician in East Nashville outside his home. It’s a father shot dead in his car over a road rage incident outside of town. It’s a 16 year old girl killed in South Nashville when she and her cousin found themselves “in a dispute” with several young men. What if they had just thrown a few punches and walked away?

Well, our great Volunteer State is in the news once again. And no, not for arresting children and sending them to jail because they simply watched two kids fighting without intervening. And not for that big hair pastor who died in a small plane crash near Franklin, TN after making millions selling her faith-based-diet-scheme.

Nope. The preeminent gun manufacturer in the world is relocating to Tennessee! Gov Lee must be so proud for bringing new jobs to the area.

“Smith & Wesson, which has been making firearms since before the Civil War, said Thursday it will move its headquarters to Tennessee, after legislators in its home state of Massachusetts proposed gun control laws that the company said could hurt 60 percent of revenue.The decision to relocate from Springfield, Mass., coupled with the closure of some facilities in Connecticut and Missouri, means that more than 750 jobs will be moved to Maryville, Tenn., the company said in a statement to investors. Smith & Wesson has been based in Springfield since 1852.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/10/01/smith-wesson-moving-maryville-tennessee/

We Americans are dying: – we’re dying from gun violence because our Second Amendment said we can. We’re dying from Covid because our First Amendment lets us speak whatever nonsense we want to without repercussion. Because a certain ex-president started out with birther/racist rants, and ended embracing another Big Lie; and dragging nearly half of our republic with him.

Our democracy is dying when the Congress’ January 6 committee cannot or will not enforce a subpoena. Our so-called “freedom” – to threaten school board members, to carry permit-less handguns, to ignore public health warnings, and subpoenas – will be the death of us.

Just a dog in a fenced dog park

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Yesterday, my cell phone was acting hot and wonky, so I turned it off. All the way off; I plugged it in and forgot about it in an upstairs bedroom. Well actually, I did remember it when we decided to walk down to the Farmer’s Market for lunch, but then decided I could do live without it.

There were no pictures of my hand holding an itty bitty TN statehouse. No pix of tourists stopping on their Hop On Hop Off trolley to take pictures of us locals eating lunch outside and wondering which Country artist we might be. No videos of us singing and twirling to Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” in the middle of the booming Carillon bells on the Bicentennial Mall. https://www.trolleytours.com/nashville/carillon-bells

And I can honestly say it was one of the ten best days of, let’s just say, the past five years! And it wasn’t just my incommunicado state of being “In the present,” without beeps or Insta. It was also the first day the sun decided to shine again after so many days of rain. I saw our cardinal at the bird feeder in the morning and at twilight. And…. it was sweater weather! Finally the Autumnal Equinox begins!

I told Bob it’s only natural for people to love the season of their birth. For me it’s the outlandish color of Ginkgo trees, the old feel of new school shoes, the smell of burning leaves. And whenever there’s a chill in the air, I just have to make chili! Luckily we still have peppers in the garden.

“It’s like this all the time in California,” he said.

Well that’s true. In the South we have maybe two weeks of this weather if we’re lucky. I also have a very loud squirrel named Kevin reminding me he needs to fatten up for winter!

Plugging back into the news stream this morning, I heard Eugene Robinson of the WAPO discuss the stalemate in Congress over Police Reform. It would seem that Republicans, even Black Republicans, were willing to leave the table over qualified immunity – a term Robinson called “qualified impunity.”

Qualified immunity is a defense that law enforcement and other government officials can raise in response to lawsuits seeking monetary damages for alleged civil rights violations. Unless the plaintiff can show an officer violated a “clearly established” right—meaning a court already declared similar behavior in a previous case to be unconstitutional—the officer can’t be held liable.

https://time.com/6061624/what-is-qualified-immunity/

Being able to sue somebody in America should be our birthright! Right? If a doctor forgets an instrument, let’s say he left something in your abdomen after surgery, and you are injured or die because of his/her negligence, you can sue for damages… you can sue the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and the hospital! Hell, you could probably also sue the maker of the instrument.

But if a police officer mistakes his/her taser for a gun and shoots you dead? Or maybe they got the wrong address and shot you in your own bed? Well, mistakes happen. Justice Sonia Sotomayor said that qualified immunity allows officers to, “shoot first and think later.” 

Was I just naive to think we could actually work out some bi-partisan plan to save our democracy? To pass an infrastructure bill, to undo all these unnecessary, tedious and costly state recounts, to keep Roe steady and strong for American women?

In Texas, one can sue a doctor for performing an abortion, but not a police officer for killing an innocent person. My splendid day did a deep dive until I remembered we were getting the Grands tonight for a sleepover!

May I never be immune to the sound of children’s laughter.

About to release the butterflies

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“This town is a make-you town
Or a break-you-town and bring-you-down town” ole Blue Eyes

Landing back in Nashville, we were assaulted by the humidity. After a week in LA, I almost forgot that dewy glow; the sticky, sweaty, summer ‘situation normal’ of living in the South. Bob and I wore Envo masks throughout the airport, mainly because we didn’t want to expose the Grands to Covid. The masks are like N95s, only a little more comfortable because the perimeter is rimmed with a soft gel that molds to your face. https://envomask.com/

Which was fine at LAX, but even our Envo masks were no match for the saturated, humid conditions of the Music City. My mask kept slipping and sliding down my nose!

I couldn’t help but notice another big difference – people actually wore their regular, cloth masks everywhere in California. There may have been 99.9% compliance inside buildings, and most wore their masks walking down the street too. Restaurants had set up outdoor dining in parking lots and on sidewalks. Gov Newsom even issued another order for mask wearing in large crowds just before we left!

Bob and I went to Whole Foods downtown last night and we guesstimated about 30% mask-compliance. At WHOLE FOODS… Oh, and all those dog walkers in our neighborhood? Not a masked face in sight, but neither are we masked outside, since we manage to stay six feet away from people. That social distance isn’t always possible in the streets of LA.

So, can we legislate moral responsibility?

It seems that the art world can – a museum in Texas is trying to hold onto an 18th Century Bernardo Bellotto painting, “Marketplace at Pirna,” that a Jewish German citizen, a department store magnate named Emden, had sold “under duress” in order to escape to Switzerland in the early 1930s.

“Juan Carlos Emden, the Chile-based grandson of Max Emden, said the family has been trying to recover “Marketplace at Pirna” for about 15 years. He said that in November 2011, a lawyer for the Houston Museum of Fine Arts wrote to a representative of the heirs threatening legal action if the family did not “immediately cease and desist” from contacting the museum and required all correspondence to be sent via its lawyer.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/17/arts/design/duress-bellotto-painting.html

Mr Emden originally sold three Bellotto paintings – two have been returned to his heirs by the German government, but the marketplace painting mistakenly landed in the Netherlands, and they sold it to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. TX curators believe it was purchased in good faith. But the Edmen estate argues that “…Nazi-looted art determined that Emden was a victim of the “systematic destruction of people’s economic livelihoods by the Third Reich as a tool of National Socialist racial policy.

Should his heirs be punished simply because Edmen was smart enough to see the future demise of his country, and rich enough to leave Germany before war was declared? Were it not for the rise of Hitler, his heirs would still be German citizens and millions of Jews would have survived.

The legal SNAFU here is the question of what constitutes a “sale under duress?”

The Terezin Declaration was signed by the US and 46 other countries in 2009. It states that “Just and Fair” solutions must be applied to art that was confiscated or sold during the war; and Germany has extended this to mean works that were sold “under duress.” So is the moral criterion for a country different than it might be for a private institution like a museum?

And this is exactly how we find ourselves right in the middle of a military slang acronym – Situation Normal All F-ed Up! The term found its way into our speech during WWII, a soldier could satirize his life without offending his commanding officer.

And just like Afghanistan was a country full of warlords and mini-feifdoms before and after Russia left, and before we tried our luck 20 years ago, the US is a country divided into some states that mandate mask wearing and maybe even vaccines to attend public school, and other states, like TX that don’t. And TN too. Some states, like FL, will give your kids a voucher for a charter or private school if they are being bullied into wearing masks…

The Grands got some bad news. Their school was now requiring them to wear masks OUTSIDE, can you imagine? The Love Bug said: “That’s OK Mommy, we wear them outside anyway.” I’m pretty sure children are more altruistic than most adults these days.

Masks on lariats

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It’s been RED hot in Nashville lately!

This past weekend, we hosted our very first “Music City Grand Prix.” Indycars raced through newly barricaded streets downtown and across the Korean Veterans bridge; and since this is Nashvegas, there were plenty of music venues in overflowing Broadway bars to boot! The race became more of a party, so locals pretty much stayed home. Fireworks kept Ms Bean in a constant state of panic.

The Frenchie pup, Watson, missed all the commotion since he was delivered back to his family of origin. I was sorry to see him go – I’d grown accustomed to his funny antics, shmushed face and heavy breathing. And unlike his elder sister Bean, he was excellent at keeping the squirrels away from the bird feeder.

This morning as I sat down at my desk, I watched a squirrel digging seeds out of the fairy tree stump with impunity. Then I read that a UN panel of scientific experts (IPCC) had issued a Code Red for humanity on Climate Change. If we do nothing about our fossil fuel addiction and continuing deforestation, the next decade will see the world becoming too hot, with more than a 3.6 degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature – making the Paris Agreement moot. John Kerry said:

“The impacts of the climate crisis, from extreme heat to wildfires to intense rainfall and flooding, will only continue to intensify unless we choose another course for ourselves and generations to come. What the world requires now is real action. All major economies must commit to aggressive climate action during this critical decade.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/leaders-activists-alarmed-not-surprised-by-climate-report/2021/08/09/08f1d632-f8fd-11eb-911c-524bc8b68f17_story.html

I thought about the Grands, coming of age during this critical time. The L’il Pumpkin doesn’t ask what happens when we die, he wants to know if the world will explode. These are the bedtime conversations of a 6 year old today. At least his school is not doing active shooter drills, yet. But wearing masks at school, washing hands, creating pods of safe spaces and people they can hug and hang out with is de rigueur.

Many scientists believe Covid is directly related to climate. As animals lose habitation due to development and deforestation, they come into closer contact with different animals, including people, allowing pathogens to jump the species barrier. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/c-change/subtopics/coronavirus-and-climate-change/

When the Bride was in middle school, our society was being impacted by a different virus – HIV. I was concerned her generation might equate love and sex with death and dying. How does one navigate adolescence during a climate crisis in the Time of Covid? This Delta variant is devious. It’s turning the southeastern part of the US map a deep fire-engine RED; it’s putting more and more young children who are unable to be vaccinated at risk.

“It’s not just the adult hospital hitting some capacity limits. The Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt is also experiencing “record admissions,” though most of the surge is driven by a rare summer flare up of pediatric viral illnesses like RSV.

COVID cases in the children’s hospital remain in the single digits. But some children’s hospitals in the South have more COVID patients than ever. LouisianaArkansas and Alabama are dealing with more pediatric COVID patients in the hospital than at any point in the pandemic.”

https://wpln.org/post/vanderbilt-limiting-surgeries-again-as-covid-cases-fill-hospitals/

Vandy Children’s ER has had to “board” ventilated patients in the hallways because their PICU beds are full. Children.

Cooler Fall temperatures should be beckoning children back to school. It seems we are at a tipping point. Will we take the lead and care for each other, get vaccinated, mask up and limit our personal carbon imprint? Or will petulant adults and crazy legislators continue to scream about personal liberty? To criticize John Kerry for flying to President Obama’s birthday party on the Vineyard in a small plane? It sure beats driving and waiting for the ferry!

I think I’ll make a cup of tea, and try to stay cool and calm.

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The night before last we went out to a fairly new neighborhood restaurant with another couple for an early dinner. Of course, we sat on the patio which was wedged between an apartment building – good news now because the cold spring wind was kept at bay, bad news for the summer, since this trendy patio will eventually become a sauna. We got there early, and our meals were divine though just a bit pricey. Fish was on the menu. We toasted ourselves for getting through the past year, for getting dressed and getting out!

I actually thought for two seconds I might put on heels, but we were walking a few blocks towards the river so my better angel prevailed and I slipped on sandals.

We slipped on our masks in order to leave, and walked through a previously empty bar area. Surprise, surprise it was like 2019. Tons of mask-less young people standing, chatting and sitting jam packed, whooping it up. I don’t mind feeling old, but I hate feeling judgemental. The new CDC guidance on masks – that vaccinated people could chuck their masks indoors and out – had yet to be issued. This morning I’m wondering, were all those young people vaccinated?

In the past, we could all tell who the anti-vaxers were. They would stroll down the middle of the sidewalk, and expect you to give way. They’d tell you they are “sensitive” to vaccines, or they don’t trust them, so they’re going to wait it out. The anti-vaxers are the new smokers, morphing easily from “I can’t wear a mask” to “you can’t tell me what to do.” And in pure irony, they espouse their “Right” to their own bodies. They revel in their rebelliousness.

And NOW we won’t be able to know who’s been vaccinated and who’s passing-posing as vaccinated! I was just telling Bob and my siblings that I’ve finally figured it out – most Republicans were just never told that it’s NOT all about them.

My psychologist brother, Dr Jim, agreed. They may look like 30 something adults, but their emotional development ended at middle school. We were discussing the latest trend in mental health – Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT); and since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to dig deeper. I mean, can a leopard really change its spots?

In DBT, a patient and therapist work to resolve the apparent contradiction between self-acceptance and change to bring about positive changes in the individual in treatment. Part of this process involves offering validation, which helps people become more likely to cooperate and less likely to experience distress at the idea of change.

In practice, the therapist validates that an individual’s actions “make sense” within the context of their personal experiences without necessarily agreeing that they are the best approach to solving a problem.

https://www.verywellmind.com/dialectical-behavior-therapy-1067402

Validating language seeks to understand emotions; it means really listening, asking how do you feel? Asking “What was that like for you?” instead of telling a person how they should be feeling. Sharing emotions with our children, instead of telling them NOT to feel a certain way. Although I agree this may be a good approach to help people cope with strong emotions, I think that actually being vulnerable is part and parcel of being human.

After all, we don’t want to be entirely disconnected from our emotions. Dysphoria or a Mr Spock persona may be the end result.

For instance, if your child is complaining of a stomach ache before school every day, talking and listening to her fears is good, but may not be enough. Is she being bullied? Is the school about to spend a week on standardized tests? The goal is not just to understand why, it’s not to simply take a deep breath and get on with it, unless you’re British. The goal is to learn that strong emotions can signal needed change and we can help them work it out.

We’ve just turned a corner. Some of us may still wear masks in crowded places; some of us may not dine indoors this spring and summer. But the worst of this pandemic is behind us, and yes we may need booster shots, but that’s an acceptable antidote to living with fear. I’m an optimist at heart.

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Some of you may know that I, like Joe Biden, have strong ties to Scranton, PA.

Actually, my entire family came from County Mayo, Ireland to that hard working, coal-mining, Catholic city in Lackawanna County generations ago. My paternal grandfather owned a successful butcher shop, and his parents and grandparents before him owned cattle. They were landowners, they could read and write – I know now because it’s all on the census lists over a century ago and I’m on Ancestry.com!

They are all buried in Cathedral Cemetery, at the top of a hill, in Scranton.

What does it mean to come from a particular place?

Even though I left Scranton at a young age, my foster parents, Nell and Daddy Jim, crossed the Delaware Water Gap for a visit with the Flapper, who still couldn’t walk, week after week, year after year. What, if anything, did I take away from Scranton?

I learned early not to complain, to get on with a task I didn’t like doing. It didn’t matter if I wanted to do something else, when it was time to wash my hair for instance, I did it. The Flapper told me that the most beautiful girls in the world came from Pennsylvania! Just look at Grace Kelly! Maybe that’s why she would always pull my wet hair back into “princess braids,” and if I complained she would say we had to suffer to be beautiful.

I gained a certain confidence in Scranton, a sense of self reliance. I remember my Nana telling me that Dolly Madison ice cream was the best ice cream in the world! She would give me money to walk to the store for her, all by myself, and I’d have to count out the change at the store and when I returned. I was only eight or nine, but she trusted me.

I learned that my family expected the best in me. They gave me ballet lessons and my sister Kay was my Professor Higgins; drilling my Jersey accent out of me. .Nana proudly took me to see my very first movie, Picnic in 1955. I was seven years old. She said that children don’t usually go to the movies, but she trusted me not to run up and down the aisles. I didn’t.

Self-sufficiency and fierce independence were highly prized commodities in Scranton. My elderly aunts pickled vegetables. The steps to the cellar were lined with shelves filled with chow chow and other strange sounding things. Kay would love to tell us the story of forcing Nana to give up her ice box because she bought her a new-fangled refrigerator.

Biden had to leave Scranton at the age of 10 because his father found a job in Delaware, but his Irish Catholic roots, like mine, ran deep.

“…his (Biden’s) great-great-grandfather had moved to northeastern Pennsylvania in 1851 after emigrating from Ireland. Scranton was where his grandparents, and his parents, had met, he said. After moving away in the fourth grade, he continued to spend most of his summers and holidays there, visiting his mother’s family in the same middle-class, predominantly Irish Catholic neighborhood where he had spent his early years.

“My mother would go on to live in Delaware more than 50 years, but when you asked Jean Finnegan where she was from, she’d say ‘Scranton,’” he added.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/05/21/trump-biden-scranton-pennsylvania-deserted-delaware/

It’s funny, but Great Grandma Ada always says she’s from Brooklyn, even though she left it 75 years ago.

I might still be living in Pennsylvania if not for The Year of Living Dangerously.

Pennsylvania carries 20 votes in the Electoral College, and is now considered a swing state. Mr T won the state in 2016 by less than one percentage point. Its residents are from the salt of the earth; descendants of coal miners and yes, small business owners like “The Office.” They are a loyal, proud bunch, not afraid of hard work. And they can smell a con from miles away.

Here is a picture of the L’il Pumpkin’s first day at Kindergarten. As Biden would say, “C’MON”!IMG_8148

 

 

 

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Good morning study, good morning sun.

Good morning robins on the lawn having fun 

In a great grey room sits my laptop on a desk,

With daffodils winking and blinking in jest.

Plants of all sizes, cactus and palm

Strain toward the windows, hermetic calm

And pictures of birds that I once knew well

And two Great Blue Herons stepping on shells

And two Guinea Hens with their feathers all fluffy

Look down on my lamp while I get comfy

Surrounded by books, on shelves and the floor

And an old brown dog who loves to snore

I hear the train whistle, strangely forlorn

Whispering wait, there is nothing to mourn

 Bob and I bake, we talk and play Scrabble

We walk ole Ms Bean until our knees wobble

We slow ourselves down, we mute the TV

We know life goes on, very soon we’ll be free

Good Morning old lady typing away

Good Morning desk and lamp

Good Morning daffodils and plants 

Good Morning herons and hens

And robins singing, flying unaware 

Good Morning to Spring Everywhere

702A6920-1560-41F8-99AB-02A0C90FCF14

 

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I’m exhausted. And I’m experiencing a pretty high state of anxiety; I don’t want anyone else out there, reading this, to think that you are the only one. I tell my children, “I survived a tornado, so what’s a little virus gonna do?” Plenty, as it turns out:

My brother and sister were going to visit us this week, they cancelled; My son and his wife, plus our NY cousins were coming for the Bride’s seder, they cancelled; Dinner party, cancelled; This morning I’ll meet up with the Groom at the hospital after my PT to pick up the Love Bug because school was cancelled. The L’il Pumpkin’s school is in the hospital, should I be afraid?

It honestly terrifies me that the Bride sits at the front door to this pandemic. And she starts her early morning shift in the ER soon. She’s talked to Bob and the Groom about taking precautions because we all know the big wave is about to hit our country, flooding ill-equipped hospitals with seriously ill patients.

We don’t have enough tests, we don’t have enough ICU beds, we don’t have enough Ecmo machines to carry on the work of the heart and lungs.

And the Groom will have the most immuno-compromised, the most critically ill patients in his Medical ICU. Will he need a Hazmat suit? Vanderbilt is planning to screen people in their underground garage, at least they have a plan. Is my fear realistic?

Thousands of new cases across the world are being reported each day, and the true scale could be 10 times higher.

There are 1,323 confirmed cases in the US, 117 in Canada.

Thirty-eight people have died in the US due to the virus and one person has died in Canada.

Officials say risk remains low for the general US public, but is growing.

Mr T’s speech on Wednesday night only served to accelerate my anxiety, given on the same day the WHO called the Coronavirus, aka COVID-19, a pandemic. Europe has porous borders, banning everyone except British people makes NO damn sense. This disease is already here and it strikes randomly and with precision, like a tornado. Only 20% will become seriously ill, most of us will feel like we have the flu. Will they take my temperature when I visit the Great Grands?

Our country could have started preparing for this in November, but Mr T demands loyalty and supplication from his civil servants, and so he has gone about decimating the very structure that should have been in place. We elected him to disrupt the government, and look what we got! A reporter with the Rolling Stone says,

“…we lost both the top White House official in charge of pandemic response and his global health security team last May, and none of them were replaced. This is what it looks like once a government that was built ostensibly to serve the public is deconstructed and reformed to serve an autocrat in training wheels. It looks like a chief of staff claiming the press is only covering a pandemic that has spread to at least 56 nations because “they think this will bring down the president.” 

A virus is not political – COVID-19 will strike anyone at will. This bears repeating – it is not the media’s fault, the Coronavirus is not a hoax! When I get over this generalized feeling of doom and gloom, I’ll remember to be mad at the clown in the White House. Bob told me yesterday, “The problem in this country is lack of testing. In South Korea, for instance, almost 4000 people per million population have been tested. In the Netherlands, it is 350 per million population. In the United States it is five per million.” 

5 people per million.

I’m not sleeping, and if you’re having trouble sleeping, let’s make a hot steaming cup of Ginger Vanilla tea together and breathe.

My hands are sweating. Don’t worry if you have clammy hands too, because we don’t need to shake hands anymore anyway. We need to stay 6′ away from everyone.

I kept my appointment with my hair stylist yesterday, I missed it last Tuesday because, you remember, the tornado on Monday night. Bob told me if the hair stylist was sick to come home, and he meant it. But he was fine and we had a small dose of fun. He fixed my pale pink hair, now it’s a bright fuchsia!

To be perfectly honest, right after the tornado I had a bad headache and was congested. I thought my headache was because we had no power – so I had no coffee. Caffeine withdrawal can be brutal. I thought my congestion was because I’d been sweeping and cleaning up city sidewalks. Nothing like a disaster to mask the symptoms of a common cold.

The L’il Pumpkin had croup, and the Love Bug had a cough. I stayed away from Great Grandma Ada and Hudson.

And now I wonder, did we all have this virus? I didn’t run a fever and never even had a sore throat. Last week, being tested for Coronavirus didn’t cross my mind. But if I did, how long is it communicable? It would have been nice to know, but without a fever I probably wouldn’t have been tested even if I wanted one. Even if my doctor could get her hands on one.  I’ve been to the gym once, a few days ago, and I usually have to wait for Bob to finish after my workout. A guy sat across from me coughing, without covering his mouth in any way.

I wanted to smack him.

And I’m really not a violent person, I went to Catholic school. So let’s give ourselves a break and realize that we are all feeling somewhat unmoored and adrift at the moment. In this social contract we have to each other, let’s practice “social distancing.” I’m not going to a really cool concert in East on Sunday. Nicole Atkins, a friend of the Rocker’s is singing, and Norah Jones will be there. And the Heartbreakers, but maybe the Bride and Groom want to go?

Nope, Nicole just DMed me, the show has been cancelled.

I just wanted you to know you’re not alone out there. We’re all scared and needing a little TLC right about now. If you’re working from home, or your kids have been sent home from college, you’re lucky. Your livelihood doesn’t depend on tips or touring. If you have small children at home, try to treat this time like an adventure. Stress can take its toll on all of us.

This president started his term with a lie. Let’s stay #NashvilleStrong and keep it real. I’m always available via social, text and email. Let’s stay connected. Here we are doing arts and crafts last weekend in the stairwell – our safe place during the tornado.

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Sure, I was bullied as a kid. But that one boy who tripped me up on my bike, when I fell and broke my arm, I got back at him. I pushed an ice cream cone right in his face, and I don’t remember being bullied ever again. Well, except by a teacher.

Over sushi I was telling the Grands about Catholic school. How we had to sit still with our hands folded in front of us all the time. One teacher made me stand in the corner for half a day, luckily she didn’t have a dunce hat. “Why,” they wanted to know.

“Because I was talking to a boy!”

And I swear, we all broke out in belly laughs. One of the worst moments in my young life seemed pretty comical now. I mean shaming a child, it just doesn’t compute or translate well in today’s world, or maybe it does?

I’ve been having an ‘on and off’ conversation with the Love Bug and the L’il Pumpkin about “bad people” ever since someone stole my wallet while we were having lunch at Panera. What should we do if we have to confront a bad person. Their parents have been telling them that everybody is good, that you turn and walk away from a confrontation, and I get that. You don’t want to color their young minds with horror stories – and yet, they already hate Mr T cause, well, we ALL do.

I was thinking about this after the Democratic debates in Atlanta. I was surprised at how much I like Andrew Yang. He seemed to be the only authentic person up on that stage, like he was talking to me. When he spoke about looking our kids and Grands in the eye, and leaving them a better future, when he shared that he had an autistic child, when he talked about keeping America safe:

While it was well into the debate before Yang spoke, his answers about some of the threats to American society once again, brought new ideas to the debate stage. Artificial intelligence, which he’s mentioned in previous debates, is a future threat that must be taken seriously. And setting up something like a WTO (World Trade Organization) for data? His ingenuity was astounding. Bold ideas suit Yang well — and, when well thought out and pragmatic, they get high points in a debate.  https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/21/opinions/buttigieg-yang-stole-the-show-debate-opinion-graham/index.html

A WTO for Data?!?! I mean, AI is coming, along with the Russians and China, and will we be ready for it? Then the Rocker sent me an article about Yang;  “As President, I will establish a Department of the ATTENTION Economy,” https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/18/perspectives/andrew-yang-technology/index.html

He wants to study what social media is doing to our kids. It’s like “Back to the Future,” will they become (expletive) or something? My kids didn’t have smart phones growing up, tech was in its infancy, email was a new thing. And the Grands don’t have a tablet or phone or anything YET; but they DO use tablets in school and see everyone else around them staring down into their hands. The Love Bug recently asked her Dad if they could have a “Device-Free” day because she’d heard about this from her teachers.

A young mind can become addicted faster than our old brains want to believe. And social media is simply another method for bullies to do what they do best – shame and humiliate. A 12 year old girl in Nashville just committed suicide after being bullied mercilessly. How many “followers” do you have? Did you see that picture of so-and-so on Insta?

Remember how inadequate you felt your Freshman year in high school?  Well, add a few years of comparing yourself to others on top of that. I walked straight outta Catholic school into a public high school, and was lucky to find a bunch of nerdy, pre-college kids to welcome me.

Running around the neighborhood on my bike was pretty care-free in comparison to today, even if a bully thought he could hurt me, I didn’t let him define me. I got even. My not-so-polite message is not to run away from a fight, not to make excuses for someone’s bad behavior. My Grands will eventually meet up with a real “bad person,” they will eventually have a smart phone in their hands or maybe a piece of Borg machinery hard-wired directly into their skulls.

Should we employ algorithms to cap a child’s screen time per day, or just boot them out the door to play? We are experiencing a “GLOBAL epidemic” of childhood inactivity, what do you think? https://www.bbc.com/news/health-50466061

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