Hello everyone. Every now and then, I have to share my own thoughts, uncensored. It’s important for you to know how my mind works. I hope you are not offended when I offer my opinions about politics and other things – they are part of who I am. I have a feeling many of you will resonate with them. I have core beliefs that you should know about, if you already don’t. You will hear some of them voiced in this mind meandering. I hope you enjoy this stream of consciousness.

March, 2020 – beginning of a world-wide quarantine: Although this is mind-boggling and terrible, it’s also quite fascinating. Last year I made my students do a project where they had to take one product and follow the chain of events that led to the manufacture and distribution of that one item, and ultimately, the carbon footprint it produced by the time it got to the consumer. For instance, a sugar packet. The paper to make the packet came from trees, which had to be cut down, and ground into paper. The ink and dye on the paper came from somewhere else. Also, what about  the machines to make that dye and ink and paper? But wait, what about the sugar itself? Perhaps it came from Hawaii. What people worked on the plantation, what machines were used to harvest the sugar cane / beets? How was that processed? And then, after these sugar packets are filled, where are they distributed? To people across the country? To how many stores? Just big grocery stores? 

Doing a Jigsaw puzzle, like so many other people. This is an Escape Room puzzle. You have to put it together to escape the room. There are things on the puzzle that are not on the box picture. It reminds me of the pandemic and the domino effect.

Thus, in the case of this novel Corona Virus, Covid-19,  think about how many people are affected in a domino chain reaction. I think last year’s school project was foreshadowing, because now we are seeing that project being played out in real life. Think about who is out of work, and how that is affected by the next group and so on and so forth. For instance, all the theater plays are closed. All the people who work for the theater – lighting, sound engineers, ticket people. Extend that now…the actors and actresses, the directors, the stage managers, the people who make the costumes, and the props. And the people who might sell food at the concessions.  And then, the patrons who hold tickets (2 of the plays I am going to see are postponed – Guys and Dolls at Hale Theater and Mean Girls at Gammage). And the amount of gasoline we might have all used getting to that play. And that’s just one tiny piece of the economy that’s been closed down indefinitely. Now, think of something else. Schools. Restaurants. Bars. Entertainment venues like Disney-world. Museums. Just take one of those things and follow it backwards. This should give you something to do. 

Interestingly, for me, I like being home and I get to do that for extended periods in the summer when I am off for several months (when I’m not traveling), but for some reason, when faced with the prospect of not being able to do something, I suddenly want to do it. Like when I lived in Utah in the late 1980s, and in order to get an alcoholic beverage at a restaurant, you had to order a set-up, which was the glass and possibly club soda or added beverage that the server brought to you. In order to get the alcohol, you had to walk across the restaurant to the bar and get it yourself, and everyone knew what you were doing, like having a giant A on your shirt, like the A for adultery in ‘the Scarlett Letter’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne, so in this case, A is for ALCOHOL. I don’t drink much alcohol, but for some reason, living in a place where it was frowned upon made me want to have a glass of wine. Thus, not being able to go anywhere in this pandemic makes me want to go somewhere.

Anyway,  I am getting antsy. I think that if I could walk, (herniated discs have incapacitated me) I would not be so very antsy. I am envious of my family members and friends who are taking this opportunity to go hiking and walking and biking and running. Outside activities are Not prohibited during the lock-down. Me, I sit outside a lot! Lucky for me, the weather is gorgeous!

Coffee overlooking Prague, Czech Republic – no this is not my backyard, but I was here in 2009. I just got my passport renewed in January, 2020. Who knows how long until I can travel the world again. I look forward to the day that the world allows us in again.

Also, I have a million projects I could be doing (writing, practicing my stories for story telling, playing my guitar or piano, singing, reading, listening to my master classes, and perhaps doing the assignments in them,  researching) – but oftentimes, I cannot focus. I am not the only one who says this. For instance, this morning,  I went into the kitchen to make coffee and breakfast, and was going to get started writing. However, here’s what I did. I laid in bed for almost an hour before getting up, letting my mind wander, or listening to podcasts. I am on the computer a lot more these days – playing games, reading random things, dressing my Bitmoji avatar in different outfits, messaging or calling people I haven’t talked to in ages. Because..who knows who might die in this pandemic. That’s a weird thought, but it’s also an honest one. But also, just to reach out to people, especially because we can’t go out and socialize. So, after making coffee, I played online Scrabble, talked to numerous people on the phone, and organized the drawers. Apparently, this has become a thing, now. Everyone I know is organizing the stuff in their house that they swore they would get to someday. Well, someday has arrived. Finally, at almost noon, I took my brunch outside (I went to make coffee around 9:15 a.m – and breakfast turned into brunch). I finally started writing after the noon hour.  I don’t know how I will ever live with a schedule again?

Early April, 2020: I’ve had time to acclimate to the idea of being quarantined in my own home, or as they are calling it now, self-isolating. I’ve started those projects I wanted to do. I’m writing like crazy, I started a Zoom video book club – got great responses. Everyone is eager to connect, and Zoom is the way to go. You can order a book from the library online, and then pick it up at the library and never get out of your car. I prefer a visceral, turn-the-pages, much better for your eyes than all that screen-time, real, made-from-paper book.

 I’m video-conferencing with my own children more, so that’s a plus. We cooked dinner together the other night. We feel more of an urgency to connect. There’s a surreal sense that everyone we know could be taken by this virus. This is spreading so fast that the hospitals are poorly understaffed and there is not enough equipment to accommodate all the people getting sick, so we’re always sitting on the edge of the precipice, not really believing that it could happen to anyone we know, but knowing that it might. I imagine that living in a place, like Syria, where you never know if the insurgents or the terrorists are going to bomb your city, must be the same feeling. But there were lots of places on earth that were safe, like my own neighborhood. And now…you can’t escape this thing. It’s always in the back of your mind. This is worse than the Zombie Apocalypse (not a real thing – but a popular TV show) or … I don’t really know what. I imagine also, that if you’ve been abused, or raped, or had your personal space violated, you could never again trust your own world. Or if you lived in an active earthquake zone and got to feel them all the time, so you would always be skittish. Many people have never experienced those things. At least, thank goodness, I have not. Now, the entire population of over 7 billion are facing this earthquake of sorts. It’s always sub-tasking in the back of your mind. I know many people who have had cancer, and they say that it is always omnipresent, lurking. This virus feels like that threat. Lurking.

In case you hadn’t already guessed, my main issue as an activist is the Climate Crisis. I highly recommend this book. There are lots of pictures. It’s very informative and easy to read.

On the upside, we are all in this together. Although we have to keep our physical distance, it has brought so many people together as a human race, because we have a common enemy. If anyone remembers ‘War of the World’ by H.G. Wells – when presented with a common enemy, the aliens, humanity had to band together. That’s what this is, this virus… this invisible enemy. I wish, in some weird way, people could understand global warming and pollution as a similar enemy. Many people have, which is why we now have an accord with most of the countries of the world to fight global warming (the United States bowed out of the agreement when Trump came into office, but someday we shall get rid of him and join the world again. At another time, I will talk about my utter disgust for this man and his cronies. His behavior is inexcusable and must not be forgotten, just like the Jews believe that we must never forget the Holocaust, lest humans casually excuse and then relive that horror. So, for another time.) 

Late April: Okay, never mind. This thing isn’t going anywhere. I listened to a podcast with a doctor in a New York hospital. The journalist followed him around. He said that no cure was working consistently (especially not the hydroxychloroquine that the president was promoting), that people of all ages were coming in, and that the ICU was filling up beyond capacity. He said that they were carrying dead people away in body bags and piling them up in refrigerated trucks; the morgues were filling up and you couldn’t walk through the aisles of bodies. But out here, in Arizona, we have hardly any cases. We don’t have the density of New York City. Let’s hope the virus peters out before it gets here. 

Early May:  When the orthopedic surgeon said he didn’t think surgery would work on my back, I remembered that there’s a place around the corner that has torture machines (decompression machines) that might help me. So, I’m in back therapy 3X / week. It’s practically the only place I go nowadays. That’s my outing. The weather is still pretty awesome.

I think I’m lucky, in a way, because this whole thing just feels like my extended summer vacation. Typically, I get out of town for weeks at a time, but the first few weeks of my summer I just veg in my house, don’t get out of my lounging gown for days, don’t wash my hair, don’t do much of anything. Then, I might do a major project, like clean out my file cabinet, which could take days. So now, I’m doing that for weeks on end, just like lots of other people. I saw a great video – funny video – where this woman was training her quarantined self how to get back into the world. She had to wear a bra, and pants that had zippers. It was mortifying. 

  Oddly, I’ve gotten into a rhythm of lethargy. Or is that really it? Is this what retired people feel like at first? I don’t ever have to rush around, like when I’m working. There’s nowhere I have to be at any specific time (except back therapy, and even that’s a bit flexible – it’s not like making sure I’m in the classroom when the kids get there). A person could get used to this.

I guess I’m kinda lucky. I got a fella to hang out with. His son had to come home from his first year of college (that’ll be something to tell the grand-kids someday), so they’re quarantined together. So it works out nicely. My fella comes to my house every other week, and he can stay for more than the usual 2 days because, well, there’s nowhere to go. I’m lucky because I have someone to cuddle with and talk to and go through this whole, weird thing with. Not everyone does.

Another silver lining about this pandemic is that pollution all over the world has practically come to a standstill, along with the economy, which is the unfortunate part. That’s what I don’t get about humans. It really would be doable – cleaning up the earth, but humans can be so stubborn and short-sighted. Thank heavens for kids like Greta Thunberg, the young climate-change activist. She is my hero. I showed a video of her to my students. The young people will save the earth for humanity, even if we don’t deserve it. Now, when I go outside, there is no brown cloud (of doom) suspended over the city. It’s quiet and the air is almost breathable again. Well, it was, until they started opening up restaurants and bars and casinos and parks and places where people can social distance (6 feet apart).This could be a good thing, or not. We shall see.

The heat has begun, but I have a pool in my subdivision. Chlorine kills everything, and I’m not going near anyone, so I’m in heaven. I can’t understand how people don’t want to be in water.

This is me, at a public pool in New York, a few years ago. I can’t dive at my pool. I just loved this photo.

I’m almost certain that I was a mermaid in some life, somewhere, perhaps a different dimension, or another planet. My body disappears when I am suspended in water. No aches or pains, no encumbrances. If I could be in water everywhere, walk around with a plastic tank around me, with my head and limbs sticking out, I would do it. Maybe I should invent it!!

June, 2020  Uh oh. The numbers have started to rise in Arizona. It upsets me that some patients are not wearing masks at my back therapy place. The staff all wears them. This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. All over the world, people put the masks on and there doesn’t seem to be a problem, but in Arizona, people have been protesting about their rights being violated. I liken this to smoking. There were laws put in place years ago that people couldn’t smoke in public places because second hand smoke was as dangerous as smoking. At first, people balked, especially if they were in a bar, because drinking and smoking seem to go together. But, they went outside and we’ve all been the better for it. People had to put seat belts on their kids, and get car seats, which was mandated by law. And behold! Less people crash through windshields and die. I looked it up: 

Among drivers and front-seat passengers, seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45%, and cut the risk of serious injury by 50%. Seat belts prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected during a crash. … Seat belts saved almost 13,000 lives in 2009.

So yeah, that’s a real thing. I just don’t why everyone is making such a ruckus about masks. Admittedly, they are annoying, and if you have bad breath, then, yuck. But talk to health care workers who have to wear these things all day. They do it. Buck up, Peeps. Maybe you should watch videos of people around the world with real problems. A few years ago my students and I watched this short video called ‘first world problems’. A class of kids in the first world (here) wrote essays about their problems, like their video games breaking and stuff like that. While these were being read, the video took us on a little tour of kids in the third world, who lived in huts with dirt floors, and things like that. So yea, are masks problems like not having enough potable water? Or enough money? Or enough food? Or people being threatened with so much violence that they are willing to pack up a few belongings and try to find refuge in surrounding countries, who often won’t help them.  What has happened to our humanity? I urge people to watch ‘the Handmaid’s Tale’. That should give you an idea of what you could be facing. Masks? Really? That’s what you’re moaning about? 

As for television, I thought I would watch more of it. I mean, I have time. But, how much can you watch? There are days, of course, when I will binge watch an entire season of a show, or watch a few good movies, but that could be anytime, not just during a quarantine. Right now, I’m trying to finish all the shows that I watched almost to the end of the season, but got distracted by the thousands of other shows. I’m finishing: Madame Secretary, the Politician, This is Us, and Handmaid’s Tale. I think I’ll write about them, someday soon. So, this is me, signing off for now. TTFN. Avitazein. Au revoir. Adios. So long. Until we meet again… Robin Jill

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