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Posts Tagged ‘Psychology’

There aren’t too many streaming shows that Bob and I can agree to watch together.

The one exception is After Life on Netflix with Ricky Gervais. Funny while also being poignant, Gervais’ character tries to get on with his work as a small town newspaper reporter after his wife’s untimely death from cancer. I guess all deaths might be considered “untimely,” still he tries therapy to help him dig out of his depression. The only problem here is with the therapist.

Played by Paul Kaye, he is a self-involved, pathetic, know-it-all. While glancing at his cell to keep track of some Twitter feed, the therapist tells Gervais to “… just stop being sad.” Future psychologists take note – watch this show only to find out how not be a therapist.

While Zooming with Dr Jim, my psychologist brother, we laughed about the show. Of course, not all therapists are bumbling idiots. Jim told me he’s reading a book by a psychotherapist who has combined his Buddhist beliefs with his approach to analysis – it’s called The Zen of Therapy, Uncovering a Hidden Kindness in Life.

“…freedom lies ultimately not in understanding what happened to us, but in loosening our grip on it all, so that “things that feel fixed, set, permanent and unchanging” can start to shift. The goal, in a refreshing counterpoint to the excesses of a certain way of thinking about therapy, isn’t to reach the state of feeling glowingly positive about yourself and your life. It’s to become less entangled with that whole question, so that you get to spend your time on more meaningful things instead.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/11/books/review/zen-of-therapy-mark-epstein.html

In other words, let down your hair and get untangled.

Our Mother the Flapper was very Zen in her old age. She surrounded herself with Buddhas the way Grandma Ada (who was a practicing marriage therapist into her 90s) did with glass bluebirds. The Bride is also Zen-centric in her approach to life, becoming a Yoga teacher a few years back. I’m pretty sure her Yoga practice helped save her during the worst of this pandemic.

“What are you clinging to?” Jim asked me.

One might assume it is my grandchildren, but that is not true. I hope they find me interesting for awhile, and I love them immensely. But I’m not clinging to that love. When I look back at my life, my fundamental issue was not that I didn’t feel loved, if anything I felt an abundance of unconditional love.

Because of our Year of Living Dangerously, I would often suffer from a feeling of not belonging – I was shuttled between two mothers, two states, two entirely different worlds for the first 12 years. Today, I am a Jersey Girl in a Southern state; but over the years, I’ve made my peace with not belonging. In fact, I’ve come to accept it as a way of life moving forward. Besides, I married a gypsy who liked my pink hair.

That reminds me of Bob teaching a third year medical student how to suture a wound last week. I made vegetable soup for lunch, and with masks up, they started practicing their stitches on the kitchen island. The first stitch must realign the skin and not be too tight, Bob said. I continued knitting my scarf since I was practicing the cable stitch and thinking about tension on my needles.

And wondering if the postman will marry the sex worker.

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Admittedly I’m late to the party, but once I found I could stream HBO Max, I dove into “Succession!” I’ve never anticipated watching a TV show this much – not even “The Morning Show.”

Succession seems like a modern day “Dynasty,” only taking place in New York instead of Texas. Ruled by Logan, a ruthless Rupert Murdoch type character, it’s about a top 1% media family with power/money issues instead of oil. Bob has no interest in watching, calling it a “melodrama” with disdain. I’m only half way through the first season, but I just had to Tweet a quote last night from Tom to long-lost cousin, Topsider-wearing Greg:

“I’ll show you how to be rich.”

This was after they both ate a sparrow whole at a fancy restaurant. I was pretty surprised when that Tweet started getting hundreds of hits, until I realized that last night was the season finale of the third season. I’m lucky if a few people read any single Tweet of mine.

Since social media has taken the place of a water cooler, Succession has been all over different platforms this morning. An online newspaper actually had a quiz with quotes, and you had to guess if a real Billionaire said them or a fictional Logan Roy family member. Someone on Twitter asked which character you would most identify with on the series. I’m wondering what its popularity is saying about us as a country.

If I’ve had too much breaking news for one day, I used to turn to TCM movies from the Depression era. The actors speak with an upper-crust accent, as if Piccadilly Circus met Times Square. The women are always glamorous and rich, or scheming to get rich. Everybody’s smoking, all the time. The black and white film only serves to accentuate their luxurious lifestyle, jumping in and out of big black limos in white satin gowns.

I can picture the Flapper at that time, her short platinum hair curled into Marcel waves.

In other words, 30s and 40s films were aspirational for the working man who was down on his luck. You could see a movie for a quarter and escape into a make-believe world of wealth and privilege. Goodness would usually win the day; Fred Astaire would marry the girl. So maybe watching Succession now, after almost two years of lockdowns, masks and finally a booster, is helping us feel better about ourselves.

Money isn’t buying the Roys love. In fact, I’m not sure if any of the characters know what love is; of the four Roy adult siblings only “Shiv” (short for Shavaun) is getting married. And even she’s not so sure it’s a good idea. Right now Shiv and Tom’s lawyers are looking over the pre-nup. We can all sit back and say,

“Look what money does, look at that dysfunction, at least our family isn’t that screwed up.”

In my family I was taught you don’t lend money to other family members, you give them a “gift.” If they pay you back that’s fine, but no worries if they don’t. You’re not holding a grudge that way. Great Grandma Ada felt the same way, because she knew firsthand about such things after her divorce. She would tell me how her sister Mary would drive out to NJ for a visit and put a hundred dollar bill or two in her pocket.

Children who grow up expecting a trust fund can become twisted. They expect the helicopter ride out of town, why should they be stuck in traffic? They never have to face any consequences for their actions. I remember an interview with Anderson Cooper, where he said growing up everyone thought he was a wealthy Vanderbilt – when in fact, his mother was terrible with money and they often lived hand to mouth – although, I’m sure that hand had a pretty nice diamond on it.

I’m grateful this weekend’s path of tornadoes passed us by this time. We spent two hours in our somewhat safe place Friday night texting with the Bride. Seeing the devastation in other states is heartbreaking. I remember the wads of pink insulation sprinkled through fences in Nashville, right before Covid hit, the power line poles split in two like pick-up sticks.

“Life is not knights on horseback. It’s a number on a piece of paper. It’s a fight for a knife in the mud.” (One of the Roys)

Our Horseshoe Holiday Tree

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Did you have an imaginary friend when you were young? I don’t mean Santa or the Tooth Fairy; more like an apparition about your own age to hang out with. I didn’t, my children certainly didn’t, and so far the Grands haven’t mentioned it. Then why do I feel like a good proportion of adults in our country are living with or within a delusion of some sort?

Some believe that Mr T is still president. Some even believe that there is a Democratic cabal of pedophiles running things. Blaming ‘the other’ for the unexplainable isn’t anything new; we burned many witches to death in Salem don’t forget. But thanks to social media, crazy talk can spread like a wildfire today.

“In 2020, QAnon supporters flooded social media with false information about Covid-19, the Black Lives Matter protests and the presidential election, and recruited legions of new believers to their ranks. A December poll by NPR and Ipsos found that 17 percent of Americans believed that the core falsehood of QAnon — that “a group of Satan-worshiping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control our politics and media” — was true.”

https://www.nytimes.com/article/what-is-qanon.html

Okay, 17% doesn’t seem too bad, until you realize that means about 55 MILLION people! This is not counting the rest of the Republican party who may know the BIG LIE isn’t real, but don’t have enough courage to say so… because of money, power, getting primaried or just plain fear of Mr T and his gun-toting followers.

So nearly half of the country is committed to chaos and disinformation, while the other half is busy trying to get T’s staff to honor a Congressional subpoena in order to get to the bottom of the BIG LIE that led to the insurrection on January 6th.

Mark Meadows, Chief of Staff (2020-2021), can write a tell-all book about his time in T’s White House, and also sue the Senate Judiciary Committee after they plan contempt hearings against him? How does that work, first you pretend to comply with the investigation, and then you have a change of heart? I feel like we’re in a hall of mirrors, which way should we turn, what is real and what isn’t?

This morning I asked Bob why the planners of the Jan 6 insurrection aren’t being called “traitors?” Is it too strong a word? Because Charlottesville was just a rehearsal, while storming Congress in January was a well planned and financed Hail Mary. We need to convict these domestic terrorists, these traitors, before we find ourselves in an authoritarian state.

I recently met a married couple, two women. One was a Protestant preacher and the other was an Episcopalian priest, and no we didn’t walk into a bar. We talked on a porch and they told me that their beliefs only differ on one thing – whether the eucharist is actually the body and blood of Christ.

A loving couple with such a fundamental difference between symbols and reality, and who were gently humorous about it, left me with hope for the human race. That one person can hold conflicting beliefs is normal, you can be a practicing Catholic and still believe in a woman’s right to choice.

But can you call yourself an American and still believe that Mr T actually won the election and/or should be the next president? I mean I kinda believed that Bush stole the election from Gore, but I didn’t buy a gun or storm the Capitol.

Bob and the Grand Dog discussing his walk schedule

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This pandemic may have changed the idea of “Work” entirely, and it raises a set of fundamental questions that so far don’t have any clear answers.

I’ve read that among Millennials (those born between 1980 and 1994) and GenZers (born from 1997 onward) almost 90% do not want to return to their offices. States that have ended their supplemental unemployment subsidies this summer have not seen an uptick in job numbers. Everyone has a theory about why this is happening; is it due to childcare difficulties? Are we turning into a country of lazy young people?

Looking at this from a psychological angle and not as a purely economic conundrum, I sent my brother Dr Jim this essay – “Hard Work is not Inherently Virtuous,” by Elizabeth Spiers…or why do we need to feel productive in the first place? It’s asking a question I first heard asked by a Duke student at the Bride’s graduation:

“Do you want to live to work or work to live?”

He was saying he didn’t feel the need to enjoy his work so much, as long as it afforded him the time to do the things he really liked, like fishing and off-road racing. I remember Bob’s struggle with this friend’s answer because, in so many ways, being a physician was an integral part of his identity. And he always said he loved his work, which is probably why our first Millennial ended up in Med School. ER work can be like piloting an aircraft; hours of sutures and runny noses interspersed with a multiple vehicle car crash.

Not everyone has the temperament for that kind of adrenaline rush.

Then there’s the soul-crushing commute to work. Bob always liked the 30 minute drive home because he could decompress for half an hour before walking back into family life. In fact, he’d often listen to Beethoven in the car. But what if your commute was longer? What if it was an hour or an hour and a half one way?

Working from home gave me two hours back a day, which I was thrilled about because to borrow from this excellent Ed Zitron column, I think of commuting as soft wage theft. I don’t recommend inducing a deadly global pandemic as a lifehack to get out of it, but when I got that extra time as a function of one, I made a point of not immediately using it to do even more work. Instead I used it to write more in the mornings (for my own benefit, not for work reasons), read more, and watch dumb cartoons I loathe with my kid while I drink my morning coffee and he explains Minecraft arcana to me. The irony is that it’s made me enjoy work more because I don’t feel like I’m giving all of my waking hours to other people. I get to hoard more for myself.”

https://forge.medium.com/hard-work-is-not-inherently-virtuous-ede1eac303d7

This is why the Bride lives just ten minutes away from her hospital, and why the Rocker’s studio will be a part of his home. Aunt Kiki has been stuck working from home during the pandemic. She is a designer with a good sized firm, and she told me she misses the collaboration and creative stimulation of her office space. California is slowly opening back up as immunizations rise, so maybe by the time they move into their new house she’ll be able to return to her company. I was trying to imagine designing a hotel or whatever on a Zoom call, although I did “attend” a Bar Mitzvah remotely!

But what if you just don’t find your work very gratifying? What if you were for instance, pre-Pandemic sitting in a cubicle doing data entry? We’re talking about white collar jobs as opposed to factory work… or Amazon warehouse work. One of the Bride’s friends is a single mom and she works for a big insurance company, she had to juggle her child’s remote learning with her own deadlines. Will some of this work-home tension end when our little ones can be vaccinated and schools open next month?

“The lack of imagination is disheartening. The office may be an oasis when home is dreary and claustrophobic, (or vice versa) but when schools, cafes and co-working spaces open, the world will be different.” Younger people may be better prepared to handle a hybrid future encompassing WFH, after all they are digital natives.

It’s like the L’il Pumpkin said, “Why write a letter when you can make a Clip?” IF you love what you do, if your work brings you joy, then it’s never work right? That’s why I can’t fault these “TikTokers” and “Influencers” for starting trends and cashing in. The border between work and home is rapidly becoming more amorphous, and like most of my generation, I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. Here is Bob relaxing on vacation, and he’s not reading a medical journal!

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Have you ever heard strange sounds in the middle of the night? Not like squirrels in the chimney, or mice in the walls. And not like thunder and lightning followed by a deranged dog trying to crawl under your bed. More like footsteps out on your porch at 4 am?

Well, that’s how our weekend began. Someone was clomping around on our porch – but let’s start from the very beginning.

On Friday I really wanted to see the Groom. We’d called, texted and Zoomed and Facetimed, but he was finally out of the Tower and back in the bosom of his family. I had to make sure he was doing well and warn the Bride not to expect too much; he needed to rest after all. Covid can take a lot out of a person. I mean just walking to the mailbox could be exhausting.

But you can’t keep a good man down for long because on Friday he had already been teaching the Love Bug how to ride a bike, setting up their “tiny school” at home, and then he took the dogs on a 30 minute walk! So I rewarded my Son-in-Law’s enthusiasm with a big plate of chicken parmigiana that night. As we were leaving, the Bride began to take the Grands blood for a study at the university.

We have at-home kits to take blood, but not to test for this virus?

As we drove home from our socially distanced dinner on their front porch, we passed a long Catholic parade on the streets of Germantown. An official Bishop-type led dozens of priests and altar boys carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary adorned with flowers, there were at least a hundred people following the procession – the Assumption of Mary. Many of the women wore a lacey head covering, but virtually nobody wore a mask. Everyone was singing!

As I opened the car window and looked on adoringly, thinking about all those years at a Catholic camp singing with nuns in the woods on our way to a grotto, Bob yelled, “Wear a damn mask!” breaking the spell.

And that was the night, or actually early the next morning, we heard the intruder on our porch. Bob immediately went downstairs and I immediately thought to myself, “My phone is plugged in downstairs, what if I need to call 911…”

Then I heard Bob’s voice, he was talking to somebody. Prompting Ms Bean to leave her cozy bed, she led the way downstairs; so much for our little guard dog, she never uttered a peep, not a growl or a bark! Bob had already locked the door and sent a young man, who was surely a drunk tourist, on his way.

“What did you say?” I asked him.

“I asked him what he thought he was doing here,” Bob said. Sometimes the NJ vibe just cannot be contained. I was stunned. What if he had a gun? What if What if What if…..

Once before, in the Blue Ridge, a large van pulled up to our house at around midnight. Bob got up and looked out the window to see an elderly man standing there, putting on a jacket. We opened the front door and the man said, “We’re here for Mr Young.” Now Mr Young was actually an older gentleman farmer and former UVA professor who lived down our country road a piece, and he had died in his sleep. The van was from the Cremation Society of Virginia.

Would it be wrong to say how relieved we were – that the van wasn’t coming for us? We were living on 14 acres in the middle of a forest, still Bob wasn’t scared. And he had no fear in the wee hours before daybreak on Saturday, in fact, he went back to sleep! While I stayed up replaying all the different scenarios in my head. Maybe we should move out of the city? Should we start looking for a beach house, again?

When in doubt, cook! Yesterday I sent Bob to Whole Foods for tahini because the Insta people voted on Baba Ganoush as an appetizer. Although zucchini season was done, Bob’s elegant Japanese eggplants were just getting started. I haven’t made this yummy hummus-like spread since the 70s and it was a major hit at our party for two.

How many lives do we humans get? I survived a car accident in 1949, the Groom survived Covid in 2020. I wonder if our democracy will survive this political pandemic season.

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Is there some food you seem to be craving more during this pandemic lockdown? For me it’s bacon. I never used to buy bacon – even in the old days I’d buy turkey bacon, which wasn’t fooling my family at all. Now you will always find maple flavored or honey smoked bourbon bacon or just plain ole bacon bacon in my refrigerator.

In fact, we just had BLTs for lunch.

We celebrated the Rocker’s Leo birthday by sending him a Postmates gift card. Guess what he’s craving? Sushi! Then while he and Aunt Kiki were on a Left Coast dog beach, we Zoomed with the whole family, from Nashville to LA via a quarantined garage apartment. Remind me to buy the Groom a plant for his real Zoom background, or maybe he could find a good virtual background?

Celebrations can be strange in the Time of Coronavirus. Appropriately enough, I posted a picture to the Rocker’s Facebook timeline for his birthday that shows him sitting on top of Chicago. Literally. He and KiKi are seemingly floating on the Ledge of Willis Tower. I don’t know about you, but that’s exactly how I’m feeling… like I’m floating in time and space..

Like that time we went up over Charlottesville in a hot air ballon and I found out the pilot had no idea where we would land! Drifting up towards the treetops was exhilarating at first, then it quickly turned terrifying. No one had bothered to tell me that this was normal, that our landing was dependent on the wind and the nearest farmer’s field.

So I thought I would listen to another Martha Beck Insta-something this morning. She reeled me in with this topic: “The Secret to Feeling Better;” who doesn’t want to feel better??

Beck tells us that, “What we resist, persists.” Maybe this is why I can’t stop buying bacon? She is talking about emotional trauma, or the muscle pain of some new exercise. Go with the flow y’all. Now anybody who ever dropped into a yoga class has heard that one, but did you know the opposite is true?

When good things happen, and we try to grasp and hold onto them for dear life, they slip away. But more and more good things will happen if we can just detach from that overwhelming feeling of joy. We are supposed to simply meditate and find that calm center, between the extremes, because good and bad things happen all the time.

So when we resist the bad things they stay, and when we embrace the good things they leave? Beck is insisting that we get stuck when we hold on too tight. Well sorry Martha, but I’m holding onto the good things right now.

Tomorrow the Bride and the Grands will be tested for the virus, and I’m sure they will test negative. After all, they have excellent immune systems! I’m baking banana bread with chocolate chips, because I can’t let Bob win the bread-baking championship. And yesterday I did some online shopping for Great Grandma Ada, and I accept my addiction to Amazon.

While I’m grasping for good news, I’m proud to call myself a RESISTER. The Flapper always described herself as a REBEL, so it must be in my genes. I resist our plodding towards autocracy, and I resist the Trumpers who feel as if WE are the tyrants for wanting them to wear masks. The sheer audacity of their selfish, insipid belief system is staggering.

Yes, I’m supremely attached to my children and grandchildren, I admit it! Why try to detach or deny my overwhelming love for these people? I know they don’t really need me anymore; they are all tax-paying adults, who know how to order by InstaCart and cook. But do they put bacon on their turkey meatloaf?

This is me holding onto the Rocker’s Cleo for his work on Dunkirk a few years ago.

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“The fact still remains, I am not going to apologize for something I didn’t say.”

Okay, Lying about what you said is never a good way to start an apology. Tea Party member, veterinarian and righteously dishonest Republican from (where else) FLORIDA, Ted Yoho, has given us all a lesson on the non-apology apology. Unfortunately for him, he accosted AOC on the steps of Congress in front of a reporter.

Generalizing, or not saying the name of the person you offended, is cowardly. “I’m sorry if my words offended someone?!?!” Just like turning away from the person you are calling a “fucking bitch,” but saying it just loud enough for her to hear it.

Contingency – Don’t make your apology contingent by using a conjunction. Slightly different from the last non-apology because at least it is directed towards someone, but just as heinous. “I’m sorry IF my words offended you”

Deflecting, don’t even try to apply a reason for your hateful speech, our couch it with your better angel. Don’t couple an apology with something else, like your “passion.” That’s the old “I beat her because I love her so much.”

Making up an excuse. Offering an excuse is just plain pathetic. Never offer an excuse for your bad behavior: “I was having a bad day” or “I drank too much,” or especially, “You made me do it!” Children make up excuses for their bad behavior.

No quid pro quo – Hmm, where have we heard that before? This implies that the person you’ve just insulted or accosted, in some way deserved it. Well you were yelling at me! You think I’m deplorable, so I can call you whatever I want. Pretty sure Yoho can’t read minds though.

Don’t make your apology a bid for sympathy – so what if you have a mother, most of us do! OH, wait you’re a Christian? That’s great! I was taught to turn the other cheek in Catholic school, what kind of Tea Bag Christian are you?

Here is this morning’s view from my desk. I’d wager a bet that most women have heard some or all of the above during our lifetimes. Don’t forget to vote by mail if you can!

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“Dear Martha:

“I just listened to your Insta video, or podcast, whatever. I always loved your columns in Oprah magazine. Unlike Dr Phil, who can be off-putting, your brand of self-help-psycho-babble resonated with me. But dear Dr Beck, this time you lost me.

“You lost me at meditating for an hour (OR MORE) every day. “‘I meditate for an hour every day,’ you said… even though you were unbearably “itchy” at first.

 “I’ve tried meditating for 10 minutes at a time. That is if the mail person doesn’t come to the door to regurgitate lots of paper through the slot onto the living room floor which causes Ms Bean to bark herself silly. She hates the mail invasion almost as much as she hates squirrels.  

“But I enjoyed listening to you this morning, because Bob was in the shower and because after all it was The Martha Beck talking in her Gathering (virtual) Room about “How to Hang in There When You Feel Like Giving Up!” https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/v=720387682089216&ref=watch_permalink”     Thanks for listening!

In a nutshell, Martha Beck talks about how every atom in the universe is in a constant push for growth. There’s a “push/pull” happening all the time; which made me think of Bob making sourdough bread. Two gorgeous loaves have just popped out of the oven. But I digress – Beck was talking about feeling overwhelmed in the middle of a pandemic. She had two solutions for us:

1) Let Go when there are a lot of expectations and competing forces in our lives. You don’t have to be in charge of everything all the time. Problems will be solved if we can stop and breathe – expand and contract our lungs. Great Grandma Ada would say in Yiddish, it will all press out.

2) Let Go of Yourself! Obviously the world will not be the same when this virus has run its course, and neither will we. If you used to ride the subway to work, maybe you stay home. Or ride your bike. But we must accept that our identity is fluid, or as Ada tells me, “Everyone is in crisis mode!” The tide is either coming or going.

Now to me, this all sounds nice, but it also sounds like giving up! What if somebody stole your car, and you don’t know whether your kid’s school is going to reopen next month. Or maybe your husband is working in the Covid ICU, and your nanny gets sick? It’s easy to be Zen-like, but somebody has to deal with the insurance and the nanny agencies.

My semi-quarantine world isn’t quite so complicated. Sometimes I’m competing with Bob for space in the kitchen – my zucchini bread vs his sourdough. And why does every Zoom exercise class I want to take, happen on Tuesdays? Overall, we can’t complain. My Covid/travel fantasy life is happy watching the PBS show “Escape to the Chateau.” https://thechateau.tv/ A couple with two young children buy and restore an 18th Century Chateau de la Motte Husson in France. They put in an elevator, and build a geodesic dome on their moat.

They’re eccentric Brits and I adore them! Angel loves taxidermy and collects stuffed, dead, wild animals and Dick can cook or fix just about anything. Who doesn’t love a good mid-to-later life crisis? When we built our VA mountain house, I thought that was IT for me. I’d moved South, something I thought I’d never do, we built our dream home and didn’t get divorced; I expected to leave that house feet first!

But here I am, finding my way in a city I love. Hosting a socially distant, bring-your-own cocktail party on a 90+ degree night for friends in the garden, because we all have to give up one identity, in order to grow into a future one.

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Anyone else feel like you’re mutating? Like we’ve gone into the Matrix, and how the heck do we get back out?

When we drive around town, which is maybe once or twice a week, we are seeing people walking into restaurants, no masks, no problems. We saw a protest on the capitol lawn of American flag-waving, freedom-loving, red-hatted zealots who probably think this virus was a hoax. Clumps of young people sunbathe on blankets all over our local park; probably 10% have masks on.

The city’s Black funeral home is busy every single day, maybe 50% of mourners are wearing masks.

You’ve heard of the old saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” I’m almost tempted to go back to “normal,” throw caution to the wind, but the doctors in the family say it’s too soon. It’s as if the combination of spring weather mixed with partial re-opening has affected everyone’s short-term memory. But I urge you to take a look at this website, click on the arrow to the right of the United States to find your state, and look at the graphs for social distancing compared to newly confirmed cases of Covid.

https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america

I once said you have to suspend your disbelief to function rationally under Mr T’s Twitter rule. And now he tells us he’s been taking a dangerous drug, hydroxychloroquine, ever since his “Valet” tested positive. And guess what, I don’t believe him.    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/18/us/politics/trump-hydroxychloroquine-covid-coronavirus.html

I don’t believe anything that vulgar person says. I do however believe my husband, who tells me that deaths will spike on those charts in just a few weeks. I dreamt about Great Grandma Ada last night – we were sitting too close to people at a table in a mess hall that looked like Camp St Joseph for Girls’ St Augustine’s Hall.

If my dream life is getting weird, why not try weird on for size? I enjoyed reading this article in the NYTimes Magazine on Sunday. The author decided to practice some radical behavioral changes while confined, like getting rid of chairs and sitting and working on the floor. It’s almost a Zen reaction, to give into the craziness, the loneliness of this time with the coronavirus.

“If you believe that identity is behavior — that you are how you act, not what you think or how you feel — then you understand that adjectives like ‘‘normal’’ or ‘‘functional’’ require constant tending. If you change your conduct, you can change your life: how simple, and how daunting! All it took for me to become unrecognizable was to start acting like a different person. In theory, this should work in reverse too. When this is all over, I can return to chairs and forks and sleep. It would probably be for the best.”    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/05/11/magazine/quarantine-insanity.html                           

Stay in your PJs, throw out your bras, serve pancakes for dinner! I could actually exist on Bob’s sourdough bread with Irish butter. Submit to the “Evil Empire of Amazon!” My sister Kay just told me I hadn’t changed much over the years, but she was talking about my appearance. Thanks Kay, maybe that’s why I dyed my hair pink? And why I learned how to mend clothes with Shashiko embroidery. If you told me last year that I’d be taking a Pilates class on Zoom today, I wouldn’t believe it.

Change is just about all we can rely on; if we change our behavior, do we change our identity?  92588620-7413-4943-93BD-EC245C16467A

 

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Anyone else having pandemic dreams? We’ve reversed our dream life lately; Bob has been having Covid nightmares and I can’t seem to recall my dreams.

Normally, I have a vivid and colorful dream or two every night, while Bob wakes up empty handed in the morning. He’ll listen stoically over coffee while I regale him with my nightly scenario, only to tell me he’s got nothing. I insist he must have been dreaming, he just can’t remember.

My dreams are the usual anxiety type – “I’m about to take a test and realize I never went to the class,” or “I’m about to get on a plane and the pilot is someone I know who doesn’t know how to fly.” They are actually pretty straight forward, and sometimes my dreams are a reminder to do something I’ve been putting off, like make an appointment with a dentist.

Good luck with that one now, although I could drive to Georgia to get a tattoo!

This morning, for the first time in weeks, almost 6 weeks in fact, I remembered my dream. I was in charge of a theatrical production and I’d promised a script to someone… I was running around but I couldn’t find it. (This is me. Every. Damn. Day with my phone) so I had to go outside… to find the script or the person. And the outside was like the outside of my original high school in NJ, only the sidewalk was crowded with people. I had to yell at everyone to “Make Way!” It was like the parting of the sea, get out of my way, “Back Up!”

Obviously a quarantine dream. Bob, on the other hand, has been dreaming like crazy! He gets into a situation and realizes he’s too close to someone. Or he’s all of sudden surrounded by people and has to figure the safest, best way out.

In general, fear is the dominant emotion manifested by coronavirus dreams. When fear or anxiety becomes too intense during our waking lives, deep, REM sleep fails and we may experience repetitive nightmares. Psychologists say that sharing your dreams with others may help .

“During our dream states, stress sends the brain on a trip. The neurobiological signals and reactions that produce dreams are similar to those triggered by psychedelic drugs, according to McNamara. Psychedelics activate nerve receptors called serotonin 5-HT2A, which then turn off a part of the brain called the dorsal prefrontal cortex. The result is known as “emotional disinhibition,” a state in which emotions flood the consciousness, especially during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, when we typically dream.”  https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/04/coronavirus-pandemic-is-giving-people-vivid-unusual-dreams-here-is-why/

During the 60s, I didn’t really participate in the psychedelic drug scene, remember I went to Catholic school. The whole idea of walking around inside a hallucination never appealed to me, I’d rather be asleep on such a phantasmagorical journey. But this global pandemic is novel, it’s not confined by country or ideology. We are all experiencing a kind of PTSD, well most of us who aren’t driving around with Confederate flags on our pick-ups eager to open up commerce cause, ya know.

They’d rather sacrifice lives and die than have their liberty trampled! Who doesn’t need a good haircut about now?

I’m sick and tired of the vernacular of fear. Of a toddler/president who thinks everybody loves him. Of a government that can’t organize a simple supply chain for SWABS! I’m sleep and dream deprived but I’m not willing to give up now, not when my daughter has spent the last 3 days working in an ER.

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