TWL: here’s what I think

The thing about time, I think, is as it passes we don’t notice we’re changing. Inside, deep within the echo chamber of our inner voice telling us the stories we like to hear (rehashing what happened, who said what, what went well or not, and who’s to blame) we think we thought the same way yesterday, but we were different. That’s why I journal. I don’t often read back. I just write my own now. But whenever I do read back, I can see my own story evolve and change and I’m reminded of what I used to think before my mind changed. And I can see the ebb and flow, the sine wave of my emotional state, the good days and the hard times. They come and go and come back again.

I remember as a little girl the first time I realized that what went on inside my head was my own. My secrets. I could keep them in or let them out, and no one else could control that but me. I also remember realizing this is true for everyone, and if I had a storyteller in my head, so did everyone else. And I wondered and pondered what the heck everyone else thought about all day long.

These days nobody keeps their thoughts inside. We blog and tweet and purge our souls in stories and pictures on social media. We share every opinion. That makes them harder to change. If you dig your heels in, draw a line in the sand, you’re stuck right there.

When you show your hand, your feet are cast in cement. The spotlight is bright. There’s nowhere to hide.

When I was small, I was labeled as shy. I thought that was ridiculous and offensive. I listened and decided what I thought about stuff, but did not feel the urge to share or argue my point with anyone because even as a small child I knew opinions and feelings were real and personal and not to be debated. See, I have a strong opinion on opinions, and I developed this deeply held conviction after about six rides around the sun.

You’ll be surprised to learn, after almost a decade of blogging, that I carefully keep parts of me to myself, thank you very much. I hope you do the same. If you’ve been reading for the last 98 weeks, you’ll know I have strong opinions on this pandemic, especially the mishandling of it. I’m deeply devasted by its destruction, empathetic to those who suffer, and disappointed by my fellow humans’ blatant misunderstanding of how to survive a global contagious virus. The sticky virus leaps freely from one unvaccinated human whose feet are stuck in the cement of their voiced opinion to the next unmasked epicenter-of-the-universe human who demands the freedom to die or kill others. My mind has been changed by this pandemic. When I glance back at TWL posts from last summer or last year I’m reminded of my own journey of fear, guarded optimism, and angry realism as I check the case numbers each week. If this hell ever ends, I may publish the whole damn thing so our grandchildren’s grandchildren can learn from our mistakes.

As noted last Tuesday, US COVID case numbers appeared to drop in the last week–certainly due to fewer tests during the holiday. Your neighborhood Debbie-downer warns: brace yourselves for the numbers next week.

TWL: 48 million

US COVID cases stayed steady this week at 670,000. That’s a 6% increase over last week. Tomorrow we’ll reach 48 MILLION total cases in 97 weeks.

Cases will appear to drop next week since fewer tests will be done over the holiday. Then everyone will go back to work and school and spread what they didn’t know they picked up. Protect yourself and your loved ones. A smart colleague advises wearing a mask especially when and where no one else is.

Gotta go make a pie.

TWL: thankful for vaccines

With Thanksgiving a week away we have to watch COVID-19 case numbers carefully, note the current upward trend, and be ready. Cases are going back up again with more than a 15% increase this week compared to last week. College kids will soon travel home to every state where they will deliver (or pick up) the virus and help it spread when they return to campus. We are entering a dangerous month. If we’re lucky and smart, we can minimize the spread. If we have an open holiday where we are all just sick of worrying, we’ll probably pay again with a winter surge like last year.

I’ve been told I’m wrong, but to me wearing a mask with your family is not offensive; it means you love them and if they put one on too, it means they love you back. Be offended by something else. Oh, and get a negative COVID test before hugging your grandma.

I’m so thankful for the coronavirus vaccines I might even get a flu shot.

628,000 new cases of COVID-19 in America this week. We’ve been at this for a long time and still the end is nowhere in sight.

TWL: another 4 weeks gone by. What do we know, and what can we do?

We are certainly on a plateau–this week’s COVID caseload in the US matched last week.

The past four weeks of COVID-19 case totals in the US showed a 30% drop compare to the previous 4-week span. We’re back down to monthly levels of early March 2021, right as the vaccine was taking off for the under 50 crowd, right before the summer lull, right before Delta struck, right before we missed the 75% vaccination goal and the chance to end this mess.

Well, what’s different now compared to March? It seems Delta has burned through the unvaccinated population, the school year surge is behind us, and suddenly children can be vaccinated. Sure, the holidays are coming and some family-COVID-sharing will surely occur, but most of us are vaccinated and there is no new variant threatening us. As my mom would say (as she has insisted while I spewed doom and gloom), there is hope.

Here’s the four-week graph. Note the hopeful smaller bar to the far right.

Last week my husband got a text from a friend inviting us to come over for burgers and a fire on Saturday night. He mentioned another couple would be there. We like that other couple, and the friend and his wife wanted to show off their new house. Sounded perfect. I made cookies and painted my nails. I wore mascara! And my contact lenses. And I brought a blanket for the fireside chats.

When we arrived I thought we were at the wrong house. The driveway was full of cars. Nobody was outside. There were twenty unmasked people inside the house. We went in, for about 20 minutes, during which I panicked. I am very exposed at work. Though I’m vaccinated, I could carry and infect these fine folks. I had to get out of there. My husband said we could make excuses and leave. I opted for honesty, and told our host of my COVID anxieties. We went outside. They showed us the view, leaving their other guests inside. We built a fire and three of us sat outside shivering for an hour.

I am begging hosts to be up front when inviting people over. Tell them who is coming, how many, masks or not, inside or outside. Each guest must be able to assess their personal risk, and the threat they might pose to others. I made my husband reread and show me the texts inviting us to the outdoor fire and burger gathering to verify he had not misunderstood. He did not; the event was misrepresented to us.

I have not been to my writers group in months because I can’t expose these good friends. Some are older than I. Some are not vaccinated. I must stay away. But I miss them and our former carefree meetings in a tiny room reading and laughing, arguing and learning. Someday, I hope.

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Laughing is good

Through this endless pandemic and the long days of isolation before the vaccine, we played a lot of cornhole. Even in the winter, the cornhole boards were set up in the basement (which affected the allowable height of the toss) and we played and played, laughing.

My husband loves games. Somewhere along the way he started making up variations on the classic cornhole game. At the beach we played “killer” which is a variation of cornhole in which you have to RUN, and sweat, and laugh while being heckled by the guy with a timer. Even he-who-shall-not-be-named who often chooses not to participate participated in that one. More laughing.

When pressed, my husband began to jot down his cornhole game variations on the side of an envelope. Unreadable, sure, but impressive when he filled a whole side and needed a second envelope to continue the list. Periodically he would disappear to the basement to try out another new game. Our daughter stepped in to make some sense of the scratches on the envelope. Diagrams were added. A poem, too. Somehow this was all transcribed and organized into a Word document. And before we knew it, the whole thing resembled a little book, a how to have more fun than you can imagine book, one that will fit in a stocking and can spread our fun to your house.

Here is the cover of the book that came out of all this effort.

SO SANTA BROUGHT YOU A CORNHOLE SET is available in paperback from Amazon.com. Just click here to check it out.