Tuesday, April 28, 2020

the president

people notice sometimes how i doggedly refer to donald trump as "the president" and never "the cheeto" or "the orange dumpster fire" or any of the other derisive names you hear out there.

it was initially because i wanted to maintain respect for the office, as i might expect from other people if there was a president they didn't like but i did.

and then i began to think there was value in using politically neutral language to describe what is happening, because a certain number of people will automatically agree with or dismiss what you say based on whether you like the president or not.

but above all, i have realized, there is power in that phrasing.

please compare:

the cheeto said we should look into injecting bleach.

orange dumpster fire is bragging about his television ratings while people die.

the president and his advisers are confiscating critical medical supplies that hospitals have already paid for and they are giving it to for-profit resellers at the cost of american lives.

which of these three sentences sound like the horrific, criminal betrayal it is?

the president is telling stupid lies.

the president is causing people to die and only cares about his television ratings.

the president is stealing medical supplies from hospitals for profit and revenge.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020


today i am a full-fledged citizen of the confinement.

i have a sourdough starter. i have been to zoom meetings.

and today I CUT MY OWN HAIR.

scissors only, because there are no clippers for sale anywhere i can get to them.

Monday, April 20, 2020

for whom the bell tolls

in the state of vermont today we had four new known cases of covid-19. our calculated rate of transmission is .55.

we're doing very well here. our governor made hard choices early and closed stuff down.

there will be no opening of things back up until may 15 at least, and it was a very smart thing to place the extension of the stay at home order so far out in the future because many lives will be saved.

we have choices, all of us. we can decide now and every day whether we will all know someone who knows someone who dies of covid-19 or whether we all know someone who dies of covid-19.

just now, as i was writing this, i heard from a friend that a father of one of her friends has died. he was one of three cases IN THAT FAMILY.

i have a friend who works on the unit where they treat the covid patients here. i have a friend who works at a nursing home where there are cases. i have a friend who is a respiratory therapist at this hospital.

i can't protect them from this. i can't protect the delivery drivers or the grocery clerks. but i can stay home and lower the transmission rate. i can decide not to order delivery stuff i don't need right now. i can reduce the general rate of exposure.

you can too.

Thursday, April 16, 2020


i want to talk to you about the costs of opening everything up for business.

there are people right now who act like it's no big deal if 1 to 2 percent of us die, because that doesn't seem like a lot.

if a plane crashed and a few hundred people died, the news cycle would be all about that and we would feel like it was a national tragedy.

if there was a salmonella outbreak and a few dozen people were hospitalized, we would panic.

but somehow our government is trying to cast covid-19 as not that big a deal, and the resulting deaths as a price we ought to be considering to save the economy.

let's put this amount of death into perspective. the worst aviation disaster in history killed 538 people.

more people are dying than that every day in new york.

the fukushima tsunami in 2017 killed 2,129 people.

the number of KNOWN covid-19 deaths in the US yesterday alone was 2,174.

every time you heard about some disaster and heard the stories of the survivors or we read out the names of the dead, do you remember how shaken you felt?

do you remember how much we mourned after 9/11? how we dropped everything and went to war about it? a war that is still not over?

more new yorkers have died from covid than were killed in 9/11.

over 34,000 people are dead in the US alone, and we're not done dying. we're a month into what is likely going to be two years' struggle.

i'm not staying home because i'm afraid to die.

i'm staying home because i am afraid of being the disease vector that kills people.

taking care of yourself and your neighbors is maybe the bravest thing you're ever going to have to do.

do NOT allow anyone to tell you it's no big deal. do NOT allow anyone to suggest in your presence that the lives of your neighbors are worth less than the profits of walmart.

do you remember, after 9/11, the solemn reading of the names of the dead? we should start doing that. it should be compulsory listening for people who are angry because they can't get their hair done.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

flask's guidelines for living in the pandemic

things got real, didn't they?

maybe you're working from home. maybe your kids are suddenly at home. maybe you're out of work.

look. this is hard on all of us. we are all of us facing increased challenges in our physical and emotional lives. some of those stresses will be obvious, like when you don't know where your next meal is coming from, and some will be subtle, like when you just can't get it together to do things and it takes you two hours to brush your teeth because you can't muster up the energy. some days you're going to be a competent human and some days you're not.

in order to help you organize your thoughts, i'm providing you with a handy list of things to try to do each day.

1) grooming- try every day to brush your teeth. if you are able, also get dressed and maybe have a shower. give yourself extra points if you trim your nails or make yourself look especially nice.

2) nourishment- try to eat enough food on some kind of schedule so that you're taking in an appropriate amount of fuel to keep you going. if you are able, prepare or order in nutritious meals, at least one every day. if you make bad choices because you are sad or sick or can't afford better, be gentle and remind yourself you're doing the best you can. if you go off the rails and stress-eat an entire box of girl scout cookies, congratulate yourself on having supported the girl scouts.

3) exercise- try to do some of this every day, either inside or out. if the weather is nice and you can go for a walk outside without violating your local distancing guidelines, do it. even if it feels like a hassle to put on your outside clothes and a mask. if you can only exercise indoors, try to make some time to do some kind of indoor workout. you will fell better if you can pull this off, i promise.

4) maintenance- try to clean, repair, or put away ONE thing every day. if you have the energy to do a whole bathroom or mop the floors, awesome. but if you can just do one thing, you will have DONE A THING. this is important.

5) learning- try to learn something every day. learn something new, practice a skill you already have. if you have the energy for it, set yourself a goal, like ten minutes of guitar practice, or one educational video on epidemiology or one page of a nonfiction book.

6) creating- have something that is not your job that you can be working on. create, make, do. try to fit in some time every day for it, but if you don't get to it today remember to call it a day off and relax. it's to give you something to do, not to drive you crazy, ok?

7) amusement- read something, watch something, listen to something that makes you happy. play a game if you have the luxury of having someone to play with. have the best fun that you can. do not make yourself earn this. consider it fundamental.

8) help- do something, no matter how small, that will make someone else's life easier today. if you are able to do this, it is a moral imperative. if you are not able to help someone today, maybe you can offer someone the opportunity to help you. maybe this is on THEIR list, and they haven't checked it off yet.

9) sleep- you're probably not sleeping as well as you used to, plus your body is trying to recover from some heavy stuff. living through a pandemic takes energy out of you whether you realize it or not, and your body catches up and heals best when you're asleep. so yeah, sleep extra and if you don't have to be anywhere at any specific time, try sleeping until you wake up.

so those are my guidelines.

and remember, just like in your pre-pandemic life you will always plan more things than you can reasonably get to. leave yourself emotional space for that. you might come out of this thing with a sparkly clean house, a lean physique and a mastery of four new languages, but just count yourself successful if you get through a day without falling all the heck apart.

one day.

one day.

one day.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

tone deaf

maybe i didn't really understand the concept of lent, but in my churchgoing days i thought it was meant to be forty days of solemn introspection and fasting with sorrow for our sins, the sins of the world, and the suffering of jesus on our behalf.

i don't know whose brilliant idea it was to print up stickers for the sushi counter at the grocery store, but either i lack a full understanding of the observance of lent or somebody in marketing doesn't really get the whole idea of the thing.

granted, it's been a while since i left the church, but i sort of think that if there'd been THIS much of a tonal shift, i would have at least seen an article about it or something.


Thursday, April 02, 2020

done her dirty

my neighbor's dog done her dirty today.

i watched this dram unfold from my desk:

it was 35 degrees and sleeting, good weather for staying inside, even if you're sick of staying inside but have to. my neighbor walked her dog down past my house, but her dog did not go.

she walked the dog around in the parking area, but the dog did not go.

she walked the dog all the way hoe, where the dog decided to go, which meant they all had to walk back down here where the dumpster is.



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