Today, I am infused with the first bit of hope that I have felt since March 10, 2020. That was 3 days before school was shut down and a handful of days before everything in Newton was closed down. That Tuesday before the schools shut down, I felt the snowball pick speed down the hill. It didn’t take any great precognition to read the Times and hear what was happening in Italy and know what was going to happen here. I felt chilled to the bone and, imagination running wild, I thought I knew how bad it was going to be. And in many ways, my imagination didn’t do 2020 justice. I didn’t imagine how long and how wide the pandemic was going to be. In the past, I’ve imagined myself catastrophizing when bad things happened. About Covid 19, I was an optimistic minimalist.
Anyway, yesterday I got an email from our healthcare provider yesterday right after I dropped Julia off. I was told to log onto their website and there I was told to call the Covid hotline if I wanted to schedule a vaccine. I did not hesitate to call although I doubted that I was eligible for the vaccine yet. The state is still working on 75+ and there is a group of essential workers who also stood before me in line.
I called and the nurse told me they were vaccinating anyone over 65 and would I like to schedule. I asked when; she said tomorrow. I mumbled an “excuse me, tomorrow?” What I meant to say was, “tomorrow, tomorrow?” Or something equally as foolish.
A jumble of thoughts, events and musings today.
Snow day for Julia. During the last big snow, there has been only one serious snow before this one, Newton decided not to call a snow day but to merely go all remote for classes that day. I think that most students were zooming in from home anyway, so it was only the high needs students (of which Julia is one) and some very young students who would have their school day changed. However! However, there was an uproar from all corners of town! How could NPS steal precious snow day activities from children already deprived of so much of their normal? The children should have been building snow people and sledding down hills, not stuck in front of computers all day. I don’t know what the internal (or external) politics were, but the next day a traditional and completely unnecessary snow day was declared.
Finding a voice after the insurrection—so many write about our national interests so much better than I could and yet I have not read what has been on my mind. And I am still angry. It is more than dismaying that this self-proclaimed hero of the republic has broken the 210 year old tradition of peaceful transition, that he has lied so often and so outrageously and that he is also the first president since 1869 to refuse to attend the inauguration of the person he lost to.
For awhile now, I have been wondering what the political rhetoric was like in the years leading up the the Civil War. What were people, north and south, talking about? What was the tone of discourse? When did violence enter the minds and hearts of Americans? How did the argument of slavery and states rights—the causes of the War that I remember from high school history class—erupt into violence? I did not understand those causes fully until recently—more the shame on me. A more succinct cause would have been the power of the national government to prohibit slavery in the territories that had not yet become states and Lincoln’s platform pledging to keep slavery out of the territories. Added to that was the inept leadership of James Buchanan, customarily consider the worst president, in the years leading up to the Civil War. (Buchanan might be moving up a notch or two.)
This was the assignment that Julia “could not do.” It is not an incredible piece of work but we had to have a conversation about how long it took to go from Thursday’s bad mood to Friday’s fetching materials to applying paint and ink to today’s making the actual piece. I wish she had a teacher who would really critique and offer some direction to her. And then, have her use the medium on some of her favorite anime characters.
Some days are a writing prompt waiting for me. Notions and ideas come from everywhere inside and out and I get lost in the riches of too much. Other days, I get nothing. And then there are days, when a host of mundane tasks call out to be done immediately, and I am sure I should sit and tap on the keyboard. When the chore is getting Julia to school or a scheduled zoom for either of us, I give in, do it, but then there are days like today.
Showered, breakfasted, clothes from last night’s late wash in the dryer. Kitchen should get cleaned up to bake Julia’s birthday cake, a run to get the saki to accompany the take out ramen she wants for dinner, a vacuum of the living room that smells like smoke because the wind came down the chimney last night and the supervising that will get Julia’s art homework started. None of it taking too long but I know those kinds of tasks——They eat up
your my soul. They take longer than I suppose and tiny add-on tasks pop up along the way. I’ll steam along until either it is time to pick up the supper take out or I need a nap.
I am sad and angry. Trying to find thoughts to share but it is all too raw.
I do have three things to share that are lovely things that should not be hidden away because of all that makes me sad and angry.
First, is Julia’s senior pictures. The sitting for these pictures, like everything else that Julia does, was not typical. One of the two photographers who was working that day was immediately sensitive and took extra time and care, trying to make Julia comfortable and trying to capture some of the joy that is Julia. From the proofs, I picked four. One will go in the yearbook.
Happy New Year.
I have been trying to be succinct all day. To formulate new resolutions as that is my yearly custom. Or to reflect on this last year—well, you know what that has been like. To feel some inspiration. To engage some new or renewed energy for a noble task.
At least, I think that is what I’ve been trying to do on and off all day.
But nothing comes. Instead, I scribble, starting down one path, following it awhile until it peters out. And then I turn to chase another path and do the same. Nothing sticks.
Holiday lights and the Christmas tree are still a blaze. I am still enchanted by the tree—crowded with decorations shimmering in light by night. Admittedly during the day, I cannot help by see the tips of branches turn downwards and the angel on top has become crooked. I don’t know which look is true, or maybe I should say that it is hard to hold both images in my head—the wilting fading greenery with crooked angel and the fairy lit confection—and know that it is the same tree.
The popourri that is December. I have not had the discipline to finish what I start. Here is what I have been scribbling . . .
Near on predictably, the December holidays have barely started and are already different from any other. The questions that echo in my head are from the Passover Seder. “Why is tonight different from all other nights?” introduces each of four questions. The questions and answers have always been ceremonial and tell a story about ancestors and why we must continue to remember and apply it to our lives. These days the questions and answers are so very present.
On all other nights we . . . but on this night . . .
During all other winter holiday months we . . . but during the winter holiday month during the pandemic . . .
I don’t know why I wake up at 3, turn over to fall back to sleep only to be further roused. Then, thoughts invade, those thoughts that hold hands and dance in a circle around my brain. Not bad thoughts, not depressing or sad thoughts, not even anxious thoughts, but dammed determined thoughts that shake my insides awake until I throw off covers, pee, make myself a cup of hot milk and rearrange the pillows to half-sit in bed and tap away. Would it be the same if there was a partner beside me? I muse that I could have turned over and found the crook in some arm and shoulder, but honestly, there were many nights waking up and carefully leaving the bed so as not to disturb my sleeping love. It has been long enough that I paint sublime pictures of sleeping next to someone through an entire night of looping thoughts, but not so long as to deny the truth of night time rousings.
There will be an audience-free Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this year. Reading that saddens me. Only slightly but noticeably. And I have to laugh at myself. When was the last time I took any notice of the parade?
But when I was a child . . .