Plague Journal: Vaccination, Part 1

I got my first shot yesterday! Of course I have created a small photo essay, all watercolorized because it feels creepy to take pictures of strangers getting medical treatments. That would be because it is creepy, but now that it’s art, who can object? Also the photos sucked.

The Clatsop County Health Department had put up a survey in January for people to sign up for the vaccine. It was kind of a confusing survey and I ended up filling it out at least twice if not three times, but they told me that was okay when I of course emailed to apologize. The email offering me a vaccination slot came in last week and I was so excited I filled that out twice too, which would have been more problematic except I fortunately only hit the submit button once. Hot tip, Clatsop County residents! The email looks like spam and seems to be from a lightbulb on a yellow background. Lightbulbs are not even in the top fifty things associated with Clatsop County to the best of my knowledge but hey whatever, health department, you do you. Anyway, the email leads to a web page with many appointment slots and I signed up for yesterday.

Now it was April 1 so I was a little worried that they would give out placebos – ha ha! April Fools! No vaccine for you! – but I believe it was the real deal. My arm hurts like thunder today, so it had better have been real.

The process was very simple. It was at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds; I parked across the street and walked across the bridge. There were lots and lots of volunteers everywhere, all wearing blue vests. From the entry to the actual vaccine I was briefly checked by at least ten volunteers. There is a .pdf release form with the original email that you have to fill out, print and sign. I had already done this, so it was faster. If you hadn't done it, volunteers sat you down at a table to do it. 
There are a lot of flags at the Clatsop COunty Fairgrounds. There was a lot of walking, too, which was not great for some people; the man ahead of me had a cane and I felt bad for him. For me, though, it was a beautiful day and I like walking. 
You have to walk through a couple buildings to get to the vaccine area. It would be much better if there were actual animals in the pens you walk by because hey! sheep! but alas there is only dirt and flags. The floors were all meticulously marked with tape Xs 6 feet apart and tape arrows telling you where to go. Every so often there were volunteers checking my papers and waving me onwards. 

Eventually I arrived at the actual vaccination area. There, they checked my papers again, gave me more papers, including a vaccination card and sent me to a numbered compartment. This is where I panicked a bit, because on one of the papers they gave me, it said Do Not Take Ibuprofen Before Shot! in bold letters and I, of course, had. Not for the shot, really, although I thought it might help, but mostly coincidentally. The shot giving lady, who was super nice and had really beautiful long silver hair, sighed at me. "It's okay," she said, "But definitely don't do it for the second shot! That's the shot that really counts." The shot did not hurt barely at all and it was done very quickly. 

Then she waved me through the other side, where there were more volunteers who finally took away my original papers and gave me more papers and sent me to sit down in a chair. There were many people sitting in chairs. You have to sit there for fifteen minutes while volunteers occasionally walk by to see if you are dying.

I was having a small panic attack, hence the lack of photos. Well, and also it would have felt very rude, all those people in chairs. It’s weird; when I was having my colonoscopy they asked me what my panic attack triggers were and I was like, uh? Life? but now I have realized that it might be the fear of fucking up. I was really afraid they were going to send me home without a shot because of the ibuprofen and maybe that was what triggered it. Or maybe it was the general, sit here in case you go into anaphylactic shock atmosphere, who can say? I would not want to go into anaphylactic shock in a chair with a ton of strangers watching, so absurdly embarrassing. Thus I spent 15 minutes intently playing games on my phone, breathing gently, and convincing myself that I was not actually dying, just panicking.

I was fine later, filled with despair as I often am after these little interludes, but fine. My arm hurts quite a bit where they gave me the shot but since my other arm hurts worse (the doctor believes it is cervical radiculopathy, a fancy way of saying pinched nerve) I do not really care. Otherwise I have no side effects.

I will get the next one the week of April 26 and then. . . and then. . . I don’t know. Nobody knows. I am still wearing a mask, because I don’t know about you, but once I learned about respiratory droplets and how they travel I decided to wear a mask at the grocery store for the rest of my life, because EWWWWWW. More importantly however, I am going to be a Grandmother in July and thus for most of the month of July I am going to be in Asheville, NC, fulfilling my Grandmotherly duties of, um, I don’t know because I have never been a Grandmother before. My mother came for ten days when my daughter was born and taught me how to give her a bath, because I was so afraid I might drop her that I was mostly sitting in the rocking chair weeping. So I had better refresh my baby knowledge, since I haven’t given a baby a bath in, uh, a very long time. I already bought my ticket and now I won’t have to worry about giving my granddaughter the plague.

I’m wearing a mask on the plane because EWWWWWW strangers and also I am not an idiot, thank you. With all this going on it’s hard to believe that there are still people out there wandering around refusing to wear masks, refusing to get vaccinated and so on. The numbers are going up again because everyone wants to believe the plague is over. It is not over. Go get you some new ma/sks. We are a masked people now and that is okay. Think of what we can save on teeth whitening.

And here I am, unwhitened teeth and all. I got my shot right in the heron. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

The Plague Year

On Thursday, I’m having a colonoscopy. That means that on St. Patricks Day, I will literally be shitting my guts out. Now, I am not going to say that this is the first St. Patrick’s Day I ever spent with my insides in a state of upheaval, but at least every other time I had some fun, if blurry, memories. It has been exactly a year now since I came home from work and stayed here. It seems weirdly fitting that I should celebrate by getting it all, as it were, out. Goodbye, shit. Goodbye, shit year.

Actually, I wanna be fair – in my personal chronicle of bad years, 2020 is hardly even a blip. It was actually not so bad. I lost a job, but I got another one, with better benefits. I got enough unemployment money that I was rich and idle through most of the summer and it was wonderful. I am mostly a recluse anyway, so no socializing was, sigh, not that big of a difference. I did socialize anyway: my brother came to visit, my old friends came to visit and I sat, socially distant, on a friend’s porch and a brewery patio. Maybe because those were the only times, they stand out in my memory in a kind of glow.

Nobody I knew died. In fact, that’s kind of a switch: I have achieved an age at which people die. One of my closest friends died in 2019. And an old boyfriend I hadn’t seen in years. And Django, my beloved old springer spaniel. 2020? Pretty much death free. I don’t know anyone who died of Covid. My brother had it, but he eventually recovered.

On the world stage, of course, it was one of the worst years ever. I did think we were going to descend into chaos and civil war – I still think that, actually, I just think it’s been put off for a while – and, of course, there is the ongoing climate apocalypse. Here, have a hail storm – nothing at all weird about that, oh no, nothing. New normal.

Joe Biden is a good Republican president and damn, I wish we had an actual functioning left instead of just AOC and Bernie’s crabbed and creaking heart. I am so poor now, with my full time job (with the benefits, unheard of in this day and age) that I am hitting the food bank at the end of the month and looking for a roommate beginning April 1. Now, look, I am privileged almost beyond belief. I have a college degree. I own my house. I owe money on it, yeah, but nowhere near as much as most people. My salary is low, but it’s not minimum wage. I’m not poor enough to get food stamps. My monthly housing payment is less than most peoples. My bills are, I suppose, ordinary. And yet not only do I live paycheck to paycheck, I cannot make it on my salary and at the age of 57 I’m going to have to get a roommate. If I can’t make it, with all the privilege in the world, then when are we going to stand up and start screaming that most people can’t make it and the world has to change?

Never, I suspect. We have normalized this idea of a permanent underclass – which encompasses the majority of the population – just the way we normalized half a million people dying of an utterly preventable disease. Everyone wants to get back to normal, now, but normal? Normal SUCKS. We have to make a new normal and it has to be better or 2020 will look like the good old days really fucking soon.

I got no solutions. I just have this picture of a parasailer I took this weekend. I feel like we’re all just balanced between the sky and the waves. Right now? It’s kind of calm. Tomorrow? Who the hell knows?

ps I got a new to me phone! And it is shiny purple, so I got a liquid silver glitter case to put it in and now it is so ugly, my heart rejoices every time I use it. I have rejoined the land of the phone having people and I have found that it is good.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Phone Woes

I have been having a rough time with phones. I’m going to write about it so I remember and also to warn other people and also to plaintively ask, how the FUCK exactly did we as a people get to the point where we put up with this kind of treatment from the phone companies? And the cable companies and the health insurance companies and on and on – we are ruled by these horrible capricious evil corporations and they do evil evil shit to us every day. Yet all we do is turn around and take more of it. And complain, but nothing ever happens and they just get worse.

I am going to complain and whine and moan. Fair warning. Tales of phone woe, like tales of operations and dreams, are boring as hell for anyone who isn’t currently in the middle of one. It’s been a HELL month or so in the phone department here and I am a little shell shocked. I am also feeling furious and vindictive and if this post ends up costing Asurion some customers, I’m here for that. They suck. Asurion sucks. Asurion is a vile shitty company and, hey, while we are at it, Sprint also sucks. The thing is, you know, they ALL suck. We all carry supercomputers around in our pockets and we just accept that the carriers whose networks make those supercomputers run are going to suck and suck hard.

It’s almost like deciding that corporations had the same rights as people was a big mistake.

Last month, as recounted on this blog, I broke my phone. I called up Sprint, who I have been with since approximately the dawn of time and they fed me a big fat pile of lies, which amounted to, “you have insurance! Everything is going to be okay!” Whoo hoo! I called Asurion insurance, the company who handles just about everyone’s phone insurance. I looked them up. They are not really an insurance company. They are an electronic waste company who makes money selling electronic junk to developing nations. If I had bothered to look them up years ago, I would have known this and been perhaps a little forewarned. At any rate, I have been paying $15 a month to them since forever, so that if my phone got lost or stolen or damaged, it could be fixed or replaced. It used to be $5. And then it was $10. And now it is $15 and the only way you are ever going to notice this change is if you are paying insanely detailed levels of attention, because somewhere along the way the phone companies stopped notifying you if your bill changed or your plan changed or anything actually changed. This is theoretically illegal! But it is not actually illegal, or something, and pay attention to this derail, oh best beloved, because it’s going to be important later on.

Asurion also fed me a big fat pile of lies, saying, we will send you a loaner phone! And you can send us your phone and we will repair it!

They sent me a mailer for my phone and a loaner phone. It’s a horrible phone – it makes bingy creaking sproing noises when you push the buttons and half the time it just shuts down, plus other issues, but, whatever, it was a loaner. I was only going to have it for a couple weeks, right? Getting it turned on via Sprint took about two hours on the phone with a nice guy who lived in a place where there were roosters crowing in the background. It was evening in Oregon. He tried but it was a total nightmare in which it emerged that nobody in customer service at Sprint had ever been trained or indeed heard of this “loaner phone” program, despite the fact that the whole thing is theoretically under their aegis. But whatever, right? It would all be okay, right?

AH ha ha ha sweet summer child.

About ten days later, Asurion sent my phone back. Unfixed. I had gotten no email, no phone call, no notification of any kind: it just appeared in the mail with a snotty printed card that said “There was an issue with your repair.” So I called the number on the card.

That number takes you to Asurion and after you get through the 15 or 20 minutes of robots trying to route you to the utterly useless website you have to enter your magical 16 digit Sprint PIN. Now I wrote my Sprint PIN down in several places long ago so, great, I smugly entered it. Well. The Asurion robot told me that I didn’t have insurance and so therefore they would not answer the phone. Click.

I called Sprint. That also took a very long time. Eons. Literally hours while I bounced from website chat person probably bot to actual human to other actual human, all of whom were based far away. It was made more difficult because the loaner phone does not really do being a phone well. At some point during those hours (I’m not exaggerating here. Hours.) I finally got transferred to someone who knew what they were doing and reinstated my insurance. Yes, my insurance had been turned off because of the loaner phone. That person, bless them, also got me on the phone to an actual human who worked for Asurion.

The Asurion dude, who I think was actually in Tennessee, told me that the reason they returned my phone was because I had not turned off my Google account on the phone. I had done nothing to the phone because, you know, it DOESN’T FUCKING WORK since it is BROKEN. He gave me steps to follow on the computer, all of this made difficult because loaner phone was blurry and it was really hard to hear him, but eventually we were both satisfied that I had done all the things and he promised me another mailer the next day. This was two solid hours. I timed it. I fedexed my broken phone back to Tennessee and in the box I included a note that said, this is my phone number. This is my email address. This is the PIN for the phone. Please contact me before sending it back unfixed!

For the next ten days, I heard nothing. So I called – I do not even know if it was Sprint or Asurion – and I got a friendly guy on the phone who seemed alarmed when I told him how long it had been since I sent my phone back. Then he told me happily that my phone was fixed! And they would send it soon! But it might take a while but don’t despair!

So I didn’t but in the meantime, about a week later, I logged into my Sprint account. There was my bill, due in early March. It was $160 more than my usual bills. I was not happy. I called customer service. It turned out that my phone call to my dear friend in Canada – who I call regularly – had suddenly cost me $1 A MINUTE. So, $106. Look, it was a long and boozy call. We’ll give you a $20 credit, said the lady on the phone at Sprint. It’s your fault. I hung up.

And then, the next day, my phone came back. Unfixed. With the same snotty note attached.

I called Asurion. I was not happy. They were not helpful. Oh well, they said, nothing we can do. You didn’t glarble the dingjoogle, and there’s a PIN on the phone and well, we can’t fix that. I CAN’T CHANGE THINGS ON THE PHONE, I said, DID YOU NOT NOTICE THAT THE SCREEN IS SMASHED AND IT JUST SHOWS YOU A YELLOW RECTANGLE? No. They did not notice that. DID YOU NOT SEE THE NOTE? What note, they said, ma’am, so sorry that you feel this way. They pretty obviously had not even tried to fix my phone and they certainly did not try to call or email me. I mean, I get phone calls. And emails. All the goddamn time. I am way too reachable, to be honest. So I find it hard to believe that they were unable to reach me. But, they said, they were.

If you want to replace the phone, they said helpfully, we can do that instead. OK, I said, I give up, let’s just replace it. That will be $275, they said, do you have your card ready?

This is my phone. As you can see, the going rate for a refurbished version is about $225 and you can get one for considerably less and you won’t have had to pay $15 a month for several years first.

NO, I said, loudly and with emphasis, NO AND GO FUCK YOURSELF. Well I said it a bit more politely than that. Then I hung up and called Sprint. There was shouting. It got ugly. It continued being ugly for DAYS. That was Monday.

I will spare you the details here but eventually, after Twitter got involved – 12 hours of Twitter DMs, five shifts of customer service Twitter people – after texts, after hmm about 12 FUCKING HOURS OF PHONE CALLS, and after someone finally gave me a top secret phone number to Sprint international operations, I got the goddamn charge taken off my bill. You want to know why I had it in the first place? Because when the loaner phone got turned on, they changed my billing plan without mentioning it to me. My old phone could call Canada and Mexico for free. The loaner phone cannot. This took FOUR FUCKING DAYS AT APPROXIMATELY THREE HOURS PER DAY TO RESOLVE.

I’m leaving, I swore, I’m going to a new company, fuck this, I am done, I am finished, I am leaving. Verizon, I said, let’s talk.

But Mom, said my daughter, who shares my phone account, Sprint is the only carrier who gets service at my boyfriend’s house in the middle of bumfuck egypt north carolina and I am pregnant and out there a lot and if we don’t have sprint I will have to drive 7 miles to get a signal.

There is not much you can say to that. I want my pregnant daughter to be able to make a phone call whenever she needs to make one. And honestly having at least two people on your plan just makes sense, if, of course, they pay their bill regularly.

So I bought a used phone off Amazon on my credit card today. It is purple and that is the only good thing I have to say about this entire goddamn thing. Tomorrow I’m wiping the loaner phone – that will be another phone call to Sprint! Yeah! – and sending it back to the hell from whence it came. Tuesday I will, maybe, get my new to me phone turned on – can’t wait for the phone call to do that! Whoo hoo funzies! – renew my sprint account for another two years of hopefully mostly quiet misery and this will all recede into the distance, just another 21st century story.

Can I just point out that this whole process, this whole long story, is INSANE? And everybody has a story like this one. I am not alone. We are all in this story and this story BITES. When are we going to step up and change this narrative, is what I want to know. When do we say, enough, and stop putting up with this shit?

Let me know. I have a pitchfork and a torch and the cable company just raised my monthly rate by $15 and laughed at me when I called to complain.

PS Do not buy Asurion insurance from your phone carrier unless your phone is very new and worth considerably more than hmmm, $500 I guess. The minute the value drops below that? Cancel. You’re better off.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Cursed Camping Trip

fisheye photograph of the beach and starry sky at night
Was it worth it?

Yesterday, we went camping. This was a semi planned trip – semi, because the original plan was to go last weekend, which was a three day weekend, and go to Nehalem Bay State Park and listen to the ocean.

Well, on the way home from the grocery store last Saturday morning, the truck broke down. Just died. So that was the end of that camping trip, because, as I said, at least it didn’t break down while towing the camper down 101. That, I said, was a particular hell I never ever wanted to experience and also extremely dangerous and, fuck it, I’m just not going to drive until Monday when I can drop it off at the mechanic, who is blessedly within walking distance of my house.

Ah ha ha ha ha. In retrospect that is hilarious.

Anyway, I got the truck fixed and it was expensive but now it is smooth and quiet and so I said to my son, OK, look, it will be tight but we can go this weekend; we’ll go to Cape Disappointment, which is closer, leave as soon as I get off work on Friday and we’ll stay until Sunday. I knew it was cutting it tight – driving at night is very hard for me nowadays and I will do almost anything to avoid it – but he really wanted to go and hell, so did I.

So I dashed home on Friday – yesterday – and hitched up in record speed. Extremely record speed which meant that a lot of stuff got forgotten and we squabbled and it was still late when we pulled out of the driveway. Camping! It is not simple! I thought the hitch felt and looked a little funny but, it was working. It was not making scary clunk noises the way it did the one time it fell off the ball right after I first got it, right as I was learning how to tow it, how to turn and back up (that actually took months and months) and so on. I wanted to pull over and check it but there was somebody riding my bumper and nowhere to do it.

So we headed up the bridge. The Astoria bridge. The Megler bridge. I just went down a rabbit hole looking for a picture but the problem is I have too many. It’s an iconic famous bridge crossing the Columbia River from Astoria to nowhere in particular Washington and I have driven it many times. It is a little hairy being extremely steep and extremely narrow and extremely high but bridges are fortunately not one of my phobias so it’s never bothered me.

Before, that is.

We got around the curve upwards and we were climbing up, up, up, going very slowly now because Moby, as we know, just LOOKS like a super tough truck but is actually a sweet little truckette with a mini engine, an engine lite, if you will. Then there was a terrible bang and a clunk and a jerk to a stop and it seemed as if all was over.

And it very nearly was. The camper had come completely off the ball of the hitch and the yoke was lying on the roadbed. The camper was held to the truck only by the chains and it was straining backwards down the hill but fortunately all the brakes were holding. Fortunately we did not jackknife. Fortunately we were straight and in our same lane. My GOD we were fortunate.

Traffic was backing up behind us at a furious rate and I was, as my son has told me multiple times now, screaming. And calling 911 and dropping my phone, with velocity, onto the pavement (which proved to be the end of it.) 911, once they knew everyone was okay, sent me to OSP, Oregon State Police who promised to send an officer right away. Meanwhile, the sun was setting and the view was unbelievable and I kept thinking that we were about to die, that inevitably someone would get impatient and try to pass us and run into traffic, or we would be hit by someone coming the other way, or something, I don’t know, but I was fairly sure I was breathing my last. I wanted to take a picture, too, but it seemed wrong somehow and anyway I was shaking.

The OSP trooper came up very soon. I have never in my life been so glad to see a cop. He was very very VERY nice. The three of us lifted the yoke and got it back on the hitch ball. He said, follow me, and if anything else happens, hit your flashers. We did. It was okay. We pulled over at the base of the bridge and I talked to him a little more. I figured I was going to jail or at least going to get a million dollar fine for impeding traffic on the bridge but no! I kept apologizing and he said everything was fine, accidents happen, be careful and have a nice camping trip.

So we drove on to Cape Disappointment, about a 20 minute drive from there ordinarily but it took a lot more because I was too scared to go fast.

NOW WE GET TO THE FARCE PART OF THE EVENING

It was by then around 6:30 and very dark. We had called Cape D. to make sure they were taking walkins because we figured, hey, random January weekend! Cold as hell! Going to rain on Sunday! There will be nobody there, right?

Wrong.

I pulled up at the ranger station. There was nobody there of course but there is now a yellow phone you can lift and it will call someone so you can pay for a campsite. The dude on the other end of the phone was very mellow. Sure, he said, try site 25 or 49. The way he said it, I assumed he meant we could have it all weekend and that there were lots more as well.

Wrong.

We were shocked at how crowded it was. We looked at both campsites and tried driving around looking for empty sites but there were none, which was unsettling. Then we said, fuck it, let’s go for 25 even though it does not seem ideal. And we did, backed in, and got unhitched and my son started a fire and I hopped back into the truck with the dogs to go back to the yellow phone and pay for it.

Only to find, from a different and significantly less relaxed dude, that they had sold my campsite to somebody else while I was lollygagging around unhitching the damn camper.

So I said, ok, we will take 49 and I was raging and damn near crying and they wouldn’t give me a discount and THEN he told me, oh, by the way, you have to leave by 1:00 tomorrow, the entire campground is booked tomorrow night unless you want a dry site, we have a couple of those but not many. No, I said, no, I do not want to boondock when it is 32 degrees outside goddamnit I want water and sewer and all the comforts of home and most particularly I DO NOT WANT TO UNHITCH AND HITCH THE CAMPER UP AGAIN TOMORROW OR POSSIBLY EVER.

So the upshot was that I paid a small fortune ($45 for fucks sake, in January) for site 49 and I drove back to find my son standing happily by a raging fire and I said, put that out, we have to move.

This was an unhappy conversation and I was trying to back the truck up in the darkness and again nearly crying and that was when our savior, Lynn, appeared.

Lynn is the camp host and she is a GODDESS. Lynn said, I just talked to those yellow phone guys and they shouldn’t have done that. So the people who took your site showed up and I found out what happened and I moved them to 30, which is empty even though it is reserved.

Then we had a lot of back and forth about who had paid for which site and that all became extremely confusing if sort of hilarious in a hallucinatory way. Lynn also said that she has been the winter camp host at Cape D for 11 years and it has never ever been this crowded and isn’t it crazy.

And yes, it is.

Then my son said, where are the veggie burgers? And I said, I thought you got the veggie burgers.

And that’s why we had supermarket potato salad and onion quesadillas for dinner, although I personally mostly had wine because JESUS.

But the sky was amazing, we survived the whole thing, it was cold but lovely, the sound of the ocean all night was so much better than the ocean setting on the white noise machine, the dogs had long long walks on the beach and most of all, I put my foot down and we came home today. I towed the camper back over the bridge, which was completely terrifying but I did it and then we were home, where the cat had decided to piss all over the bathroom to express her displeasure at not being invited.

Since we got home it is like it all just happened or maybe never happened or possibly it happened, but 6000 years ago. I think it’s a delayed trauma reaction but I feel floaty and out of it and I don’t think I have ever been so, damn so, glad to be home.

Cheers! We’re alive!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Seven Years – Time Again for Photo A Day

I gave up on the plague diaries, not because the plague has ended (oh ha! ha ha! How wonderfully naive such a thought would be!) but because it is just how we live – or die – now. If this blog is the only account of 2020 you can find, oh traveler from the future, then a) sorry about that and b) it was worse than you can even imagine. The country fell apart. It is continuing to fall apart as I write this, two tremulous days into a new year. There are vaccines but the federal government has not, of course, bothered to figure out how to distribute them; people are refusing to take the vaccines; people are still refusing to wear masks and on and on, while the cases rise and rise and rise. 57 confirmed tests here in little Clatsop County in the last three days. Three days.

But we’re all about opening up and keeping the economy going! I, myself, got a job, a good, real full time job where I have to wear a mask all day. I get to work from home a couple days a week, usually, to sort of try to minimize my risks, but it is probably only a matter of time and I’m terrified. And exhausted. The day in, day out, yes there is a plague, wear a mask all day, work all day, try not to be terrified of the grocery store, try not to freak out about the unmasked oil change guy, oh and, by the way, try not to be alarmed by the slow, slow coup which the “president” is still attempting and the news, all of which is dire, and so on. I have retreated into my turtle shell and I just gave up even trying to blog about it.

However! That is not what this is about! This is about a New Thing, or, rather, an Old Thing reborn. In 2007 I did a Photo A Day project and while the photos are no longer available on the internet (it’s a long story in which I do not come off well, so we will skip it, but suffice it to say that I am a goddamn idiot sometimes) I do have a softcover book. In 2014 I did it again and you can see it right here on this blog. And now, it is 2021 and I am doing it yet another time.

In 2007 I had to take photos with my camera – my old Canon Rebel, already old then – because my phone was not a camera then. I had to upload them to Flickr. I had to then connect them from Flickr to my old blog, The Hangover Journals. (damn, it’s still there, whoa.) You can look for them there but it’s all disorganized and they weren’t all posted. It was like walking three miles to school in the snow! Uphill! No. No it wasn’t, it wasn’t hard at all, but it got easier when I did it in 2014 and I could just email photos from my phone to the desktop computer. It is the same now, but my phone takes much better pictures. So much better that I think this time around I will not use my actual camera for this project. I think I want it to be snapshots. Immediacy, that’s the watchword, immediacy and square format and here is my daily life, 365 photos to come: a new life, in a new place.

So I have created a new page which you will see up there and I have put up two pictures from two extremely wet rainy could have been miserable walks. They were not miserable though because I kind of like rain and I especially like coming home from the rain and getting dried off and having a glass of wine and thinking LO FOR I AM MIGHTY I have walked in the motherfucking RAIN like a WARRIOR. A really dumb warrior who didn’t just stay home like a sensible person, that is.

It is 2021 and here we go.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Plague Diary 16: The World Is On Fire

A couple weeks ago I started a blog entry about supermarkets, and how we have all just managed to get used to the idea that the stores are going to be out of things regularly. I feel like it’s important to remember that up until oh just six fucking months ago this was unheard of, by and large, and stores, big stores, did not regularly have big empty spaces on the shelves and weeks that went by when you just couldn’t get x (in my case, plain seltzer in cans, WTF?) But now that happens and we all just act like it’s normal because it is, now.

Oh well! that no longer rates a whole blog post. It probably should!

Meanwhile, the first week of September I loaded up the camper and the dogs and we went up to Olympic National Park for a couple days of camping. It was mostly awesome but I was hoping to do a bit more hiking; unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take dogs hiking at Olympic National Park. I need to do more research before I blithely strike out for parts unknown, clearly. So we stayed by the beach, which was beautiful and actually it was great; no phone! No computer! No internet! I read and reread a whole bunch of Joan Aiken and I wrote actual letters on paper.

Then we came back to Astoria and shortly thereafter the fires started. We are lucky enough not to be near any fires but unlucky enough that the wild west winds that started the fires in the first place – no, you goddamn morons, it was not “Antifa”, we are smart enough not to burn down the places that we live, unlike you – blew all the smoke to the coast, where it has mostly remained. We are better off than Portland and other places in the middle of the state, but not by much: our air quality is hovering around the 200 AQI mark, which means it’s very unhealthy and you shouldn’t go outside. I have a Harvey so I have to go outside and I can feel it, a heaviness in my chest, my eyes start stinging, I get a headache. And the air was yellow, now is white, but you can’t see very far and everything is muted and thick. It sucks. I hate it. It has kicked my anxiety into high gear and I can’t do anything at all. The recommendations, such as they are, even tell us not to vacuum. I have never been forbidden to vacuum before and it turns out it’s a sure way to make me yearn to do it.

I followed the advice of this tutorial and created an air purifier and I dipped into savings and bought the cheapest HEPA air purifier I could find on Amazon. It turned out to be tiny so it’s in the bedroom. If I spend an hour or two in there I can emerge with a little energy, unlike the rest of the time when I just want to lie on the couch and play fish game (fishdom, don’t do it, you will end up like me, on level 972 and actually caring that you have been demoted yet again to silver league) or watch weird reality TV. Yet again things are piling up undone and I get the uneasy feeling that I have slipped out of the depressed, but coping section and into the depressed and not coping one.

But what the hell does it matter? The world is burning. In the fire zones, there are armed people stopping traffic and accusing others of being antifa, as if anyone with a brain and a heart isn’t anti fascist. The cops are continuing to shoot black people with impunity. The protests in Portland have gone on so long they no longer mean anything. Homeless people are stuck breathing poison air and there is nowhere for them to go. We’re all breathing poison air; the skies are yellow or red; you can look directly at the sun without hurting your eyes. And the seagulls, last week, slept all through the dark day.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Plague Diary 15: Things Do Not Get Better, But Worse

My daughter informs me that I have become longwinded with age and so nobody can read this blog anymore. She is right! It is true! And it is even more true in this time of decreasing attention, when none of us can even muster up the concentration of a goldfish. It is hard to maintain interest in more than a paragraph when your morning doom scrolling is so, well, doom laden. My doom has been interrupted by more doom! I no longer remember last week’s doom! From now on, I’m going short and choppy. Like the headsman’s axe.

**********************************************************************************************

Visitors!

A family member came to stay for 10 days. Yes, thank you, I know we are not supposed to be traveling and I don’t want to hear about it. Like lemmings, we’re all going off the cliff together. At least we’re doing it the public mask wearing, socially distant way.  It was good to see them and it was fun to play tour guide and they were impressed, as who could not be, by the scenery and the cool breezes and the obligatory drive down to Nehalem Bay with a stop at Cannon Beach and the crabs and crossing the river to Cape Disappointment and Josephson’s Smokehouse and the eclectic mix that is downtown Astoria on an Artwalk afternoon. Then, out of the blue – the literal blue; the weather has been unsettlingly beautiful, just clear, clear blue skies, day after day – two old friends from originally Baltimore and then Western North Carolina (they’re going to have to move here, we’ve been moving around each other for twenty years; can’t stop now) arrived with their dog Chauncy. They only stayed overnight but we drove up to the Column and did some driving around Astoria and then a morning beach visit and it was lovely. I like showing off my house and my adopted home town.

 

And, well, hopefully none of us will die from this. None of us are actually particularly social even in the non plague times, let’s be honest, so we are probably somewhat less at risk than many. It’s worth it, maybe: even crabbed old hermits like me enjoy speaking with other humans now and then and humans who have known you most of your life are a special kind of beloved. I don’t know. I do know the campgrounds are packed and the beaches are busier than you would think they should be and there are lines around the block for the Bowpicker just like any ordinary August, so, here we are in the sixth month of the end of the world as we know it. Add a few middle aged people sitting outside on the patio and chatting to the mix and, yes, doom, doom, doom but at least we go with love in our hearts.

 

Of course when another friend called and asked about coming down for the day in the middle of all this I howled NO. Then two days later when I put the last visitor on the train in Portland I called her back and said, I am so sorry, yes, please, I was just having a company overdose. Introverts unite! She completely understood. And I am ready now for more people. I’ve had three days of glorious solitude: lying on the couch, eating too much, drinking too much and talking to the dogs about politics.

1O0A5155

okay maybe we did have one day with mist in the morning. Look! Friends!

*****************************************************************************************************

Weather! Plants!

1O0A5228The sun just keeps on shining. I miss the fog and rain, to be honest, but I’m weird. Meanwhile, I am harvesting cucumbers – you can, in fact, grow cucumbers in a deck box perched on top of a rickety 7′ wooden fence – and I even got one relatively decent, if small, tomato. I have dill coming out my ears and there is a birdbath with a working fountain in the garden! I did that before the plague dollars stopped coming but it still cost only $40 – half for the tacky ass white plastic birdbath and half for the magical solar ever burbling fountain – and an afternoon of painting it and filling the hollow plastic base with concrete so that it looked better and would not fly away in the first gust of wind. I am mightily pleased with it, myself, although I have yet to see a bird making use of the facilities.

But it is too hot. I hate the heat; I still get hot flashes; they apparently will never end. I lay here last night and thought I was going to die in the heat as the hot flashes took me over, 82 degrees in the house and I feel like I’m dying. Pacific northwest houses are not built with heat in mind; they have no idea of airflow, no fans, no shutters, no ways to beat this kind of heavy weather.  I watched some v shaped flights of small birds this morning, heading due south down 101, twittering – no, in the old sense, not, I think, on tiny phones – and I thought, please, yes, draw in the days, bring back the long fog and the gray mist and the soft autumn rain.

************************************************************************************************

The World At Large

1O0A5116

the world might end but there is always cannon beach

Yeah, okay, this is the end of the world as we know it. The plague dollars are gone; we’re all desperately poor now except for the people the ruling party cares about and they’re rolling in the dough. When I finish posting this blog I am going to apply for foodstamps. And for jobs but I have more hope for the foodstamps, honestly. People are dying every day in the hundreds, the thousands, of Covid 19 but the schools are reopening, because the rich have realized that this plague isn’t really touching them except for Herman Cain and he’s tweeting from beyond the grave anyway. Mammon must be appeased with the bodies of the poor and Herman Cain. The rest of the world wants no part of us and all the borders are closed so there is nowhere to flee. The battles continue in Portland and they are being taken up at Stone Mountain and elsewhere; the cops have come out for Trump, surprising exactly nobody, and the current scandal is the evil dismantling of the Post Office. They can’t DO that, shout people, disregarding that we are about four years into them doing exactly what they want with no accountability whatsoever – turns out that running a government on the honor system doesn’t work when the real crooks come in – and here we are. Is there going to be an election in 80 days? Do you believe, like I do, that he stole the last one? Do you think he’s going to steal this one too? Does it even matter because the planet is dying? Why is Biden such a drag? What about Harris? Does the VP even matter? Are we going to vote for them anyway with grim desperation? Should we have dismantled the electoral college in 2000 when it robbed us of President Gore and a chance to stop the arctic from burning? YES, is the fucking answer to the last two and for the rest, I despair and all I can do is lie on the couch, drink sun tea and read terrible novels on the iPad, enriching Jeff Bezos by $10 a month so I can lose myself in unending streams of poorly written paranormal cozy mystery romances. Bring me a goddamn werewolf, somebody, anybody, and together we will take on this mess. Or at least flee together, our hair: perfect.

1O0A5037

and also there is cape disappointment which would be an awesome place for a getaway with my werewolf lover

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Plague Diary 14: Solutions

1O0A4593

Prints available for sale. Apropos of our times, is it not?

This morning I figured out how to open schools safely. I did this in two hours while lying in bed trying to get back to sleep without falling back into nightmare (my dreams are reflecting the world outside my head again and it’s not. . . pretty.) My daughter just called to tell me that she solved the world’s economic crisis and also that she has been exposed to Covid – again, but quite definitely this time – and is getting tested again.

Gods forbid we stop reopening the bars and restaurants and everything else; the rich might be inconvenienced. They might lose a tiny fraction of their wealth if the serfs aren’t out there every day dying for the economy.  In just a few short days, the extra unemployment goes away and then people will begin to starve. More people, that is. There are a fair number already there.  And there are federal troops disappearing people in Portland and soon, Trumpacabra promises, there will be more: in Chicago, in Baltimore, in Philadelphia, in Oakland, in LA, in NYC. In everywhere, actually, that might be counted on to vote against the idiot orange criminal in DC. Including, of course, DC.

I cannot think about it. I want to go to Portland and join the Moms – I too am a Mom, after all, and it’s only two hours away – but I have no one to watch the dogs and I need to take my immune system, or current lack thereof (between the blood thinners and the surgery three weeks ago, I basically don’t have one) seriously. Which sucks. I feel helpless, hopeless and terrified and I don’t have any solutions. Except for the schools, that is.

1O0A4604

Foggy mornings at the beach lately. Yay!

Hear my school solution! The answer is this: we must hire hundreds of thousands of teachers. Everyone who is unemployed and seems reasonable should be hired. Me, for example. I actually have a background in education that I’m not using and I can’t be the only one. Schools get broken into bubble groups of 8 – 10 kids. The parents and neighbors and so on get a say in who is in their bubbles, thus lessening the chance for outside contamination. Each bubble group of kids has 2 teachers. All the school buses get turned into housing for the houseless (hire more people to convert them) and we buy fleets of 10 passenger vans, one for each group, or, okay, two groups can share one, I guess. The bubble groups go all over the place, learning about nature out in the woods, about construction on construction sites, about trains in the trainyards. The unemployed people at the airport get to show them the airport and the planes. They go out on fishing boats. They go to farms and volunteer. They go, if they are in Baltimore, to the Golden Eggs of Poo, a beloved and memorable field trip for many young Baltimoreans. Meanwhile, set up big tents around the schools. That’s where your bubble group goes for meals and reading time – each kid has their own reading beanbag to lie on; it travels with them. The bathrooms are port a potties. Each one is cleaned between kids. That’s the worst job, so the person who does that makes the most money. The school day runs from 10 am to 4 pm. When the weather is too cold to be outside, then school is over until it gets warm again. The school buildings get turned into a combination of intensified social service agency – we also need to hire thousands of social workers – and emergency family housing.

Now we have revolutionized education in a good way.  However, that’s the solution for younger kids. For high school kids, we go full metal Hogwarts. High school kids and their teachers go to boarding school. Everybody lives there. Nobody leaves, nobody comes in. Where are these schools? Hotels. Mansions. All nationalized for the greater good and now an educational Covid free zone! And what do the kids do all day? They farm, thus ensuring that our food supply doesn’t go away (this incorporates my daughter’s plan, which involved paying the unemployed to farm.) They go on massive nature oriented field trips and multi day backpacking adventures. And, they do WPA style infrastructure projects, learning trades in the process. Who cleans up Flint’s water? High school kids! Who converts massive plants to solar? High school kids! Who converts all those school buses to housing? High school kids! And every day they work is applied towards college tuition, so when the pandemic is over, if they want to go to college, they can go for free.

1O0A4683

Eligible bachelor elk.

I believe this all has a chance of being enacted roughly equivalent to that of the proverbial snowball in hell. This is too bad, because the course we are on is going to kill hundreds of thousands more people and the trauma of that is – already has – going to permanently scar a generation or two. And the hell of it all, the true hell, is that all of this could have been avoided if we had fixed our fucking rigged election system after Bush the Second. If we truly lived in a democratic society and truly had one person, one vote, then I honestly believe we’d have a sane adult human being in the White House right now and representatives in the Senate and Congress who actually gave a shit about the people they are supposed to be representing.

But, you know, that would have inconvenienced the rich and we cannot have that.

PS in other news, I can and am walking again, huzzah; the bachelor elk herd is in Fort Stevens with fuzzy new immense antlers, see above; I have decided to bake all my own bread, which is not going swimmingly – I had to off my sourdough starter and I nearly cried; I think naming it may have been a step too far – and I have discovered that I can, in fact, eat All the Fat now and this is not, probably, a good thing. But oh gods grits are just better with cheese and tofu is better fried than baked, oh yes it is.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Plague Diary 13: Through It and Over It

I survived surgery! My gallbladder is gone! It has been 12 days and I am actually finally feeling mostly better. It was a long twelve days and I don’t EVER want to do that again. I always knew I was not brave enough for plastic surgery and my god, I really know it now. Go through that when you don’t absolutely have to? FUCK NO. It was horrible. I’ve been exhausted and motionless and lying on the couch watching home renovation shows for days. I was too out of it to play Minecraft. That, my friends, is out of it. Healing, it turns out, is hard when you are suddenly, inexplicably, not 27 anymore. And every time I think I’m better I end up sleeping away the whole next day. But on the bright side, I have interesting new scars on my belly; I am halfway done with a respectable scarf; I have watched every episode of Flipping Boston and learned a lot about joists, beams and how to hate dark cabinetry; I have cautiously eaten potato chips and been fine, hallelujah; I have drunk wine and been fine, double hallelujah (I tried a little earlier in the week and couldn’t drink it, just couldn’t get it down and thought with horror that maybe I would never be able to drink again and honestly I am not up for going through the rest of the pandemic sober, sorry, no) and I have even had pasta with parmigiana and been fine, whoa. First cheese since February! I lost almost 30 pounds! Maybe I shouldn’t leap right back on the cheese bandwagon, hmmm.

The picture on the left is right after surgery when my belly was still all inflated from the gas they pump into it – yes, it’s creepy. The picture on the right was taken just now. As you see the scars are fading! What you do not see is the incision complete with stitches that is actually IN my belly button. The stitches come out tomorrow. I feel very brave or possibly shameless or possibly stupid  posting pictures of my stomach like this, by the way.

 

20200708_085137-01

phone pic from this mornings walk!

So, now I am mostly better – and thinner – and the plague continues apace. The tourists have descended full force and in deference to my still compromised immune system, I am quarantined AF. Because of that and because I still am not back up to pre operation walking levels (this morning I made it approximately 1/2 the way of our usual dike trail walk and that is a new record) I have even ventured into the wild world of curbside pickup groceries. In the interest of journalism and also because it just worked out that way, I have now done curbside pickup with three grocery stores: the Astoria Coop, Wal Mart (I know, I know) and Fred Meyer. Turns out that, like surgery, curbside pickup basically sucks. I am unenthused. Not surprisingly, the Astoria Coop had the best interface, the best products and the best overall experience, which may have been helped by the fact that I did not go pick up the groceries; my wonderful friend Shawna did. She is also the friend who took me to the hospital, picked me up and called me every day to see how I was doing and without her I think I would probably be dead. Or at least wish I was. She is AMAZING. I absolutely could not have done this without my friends and Jolleywagz dog walking, who you should utterly hire if you need help with your impossible Harvey.  When she couldn’t do it, my friends Kelly and Jeff filled in by taking Harvey over to play with their chickens. Harvey LOVES chickens.

Returning to the groceries, though, this is about the groceries: in case you have not done it, this is how it works. You go to the store’s website and pick out your groceries. This can be daunting – Fred Meyer has a LOT of groceries – and kind of misleading: it was very difficult to tell which size of something you’re getting at Wal Mart, which is why I now own a 2 lb bag of Beggin’ Strips junk food treats for dogs. Or possibly Harvey changed the order, who knows? They ask you if you accept substitutions, and I said yes, which is how Harvey ended up with small dog toys instead of large dog toys from Wal Mart. Fred Meyer lets you check out your substitutions in the parking lot, which is why I do NOT now own unsalted Saltines because seriously? Get real. Eww. Salt is right there in the name. Wal Mart does not offer to let you check out your substitutes, just dumps them in your car. I didn’t try the substitution thing at the Coop. After you are done with your grocery list, which is not a short procedure (like I said, there is a lot to pick from and it’s sort of difficult, in that you, or at least me, get filled with terrible ennui at least three times and have to walk away for a while) you pick a time that you will be there to get them. You choose an hour time slot and at all three stores, there were time slots available the next day. They don’t charge your card until that day.  I had to wait about 30 minutes at both Wal Mart and Fred Meyer – and at Fred Meyer, I had already gotten a panicky phone call when my order was supposed to be ready. The girl on the line sounded as if she was about 14 and ready to cry when she asked if I could come in three hours later. “Yes,” I said, “Of course,” secretly relieved that I wouldn’t have to leave the couch and she sounded so happy. So I got there three hours later and still had to wait half an hour and that was somewhat irksome but, well, whatever. Fred Meyer bags your groceries in nice paper bags with handles; Wal Mart uses plastic; the Coop gives you small paper bags without handles. The people who brought it to the car were tired and disgruntled and I don’t blame them one bit. I probably should have tipped but the websites tell you not to, so I didn’t.

Then you get home and see what you have got. The garlic Fred Meyer sent me is a sin and a shame

but the green beans were fine. The tomatoes from Wal Mart were not all that but they will do, in a pinch. It turns out I have much more willpower online than I do in the store and so I didn’t buy any cookies or ice cream or chips, which was really stupid. And I was hoping that I would get some kind of crazy wonderful substitution random item – instead of pasta, here are poptarts! – but, no, it was all just regular boring groceries.

20200704_153119-01

Harvey had an extremely rough time with the fireworks all weekend and here he is in Perdita’s green hoodie, which did not help. Perdita even got rattled, which is not like her, and I had to dig out the tranquilizers from our cross country road trip in 2018.

In other pandemic news, 3 million Americans have now been infected with the coronavirus but the federal government, or what’s left of it since the grifters took over, are doing nothing but fanning the crazy flames. In Oregon, we have stopped at Phase Two of reopening and I suspect we will have to close up again.  The numbers go up and the people still don’t get it. I am not naming names, but there was a woman at a doctor’s office- a woman who WORKED THERE, who took my blood pressure and asked me a bunch of inane pointless questions (yes I am coughing, yes that’s why I’m here, no I don’t have coronavirus, I just had SURGERY, I can’t BREATHE because of the fucking breathing tube*) was “wearing” a mask by, basically, dangling it from her head, like, it barely barely covered anything. I said, “Uh, your mask, it’s not. . secure.” and she tore me a new one about how she had a rash behind her ears and it was perfectly secure. From the side I could see her mouth moving furiously. It was a small exam room. I probably have the damn thing now.

20200630_143226-01

This is the view from the doctor’s office. I haven’t actually used my real camera in twelve days, go figure.

Anyway, the plague dollars are going to stop flowing at the end of this month and that is when shit is going to get real. This household, for one, will be plunged into some seriously dire poverty unless I can find a decent job, which I am trying to do. I’m also painting, which is nice and if I keep it up maybe I can sell a couple, which would also be nice. And that’s all good in the realm of pipe dreams but it would probably be more useful to come up with some recipes for rat on a stick, cooked over an oil drum fire in the wreckage. I do not think the loss of the plague dollars, the $600 a week that suddenly taught so many Americans, including me, what it is like to actually make a living wage – you can breathe! it’s fucking crazy! You can pay your bills AND buy food! – is going to go well at all. The protests continue and nothing happens but lip service – painting Black Lives Matter on the street is nice and all but it’s just not the same as arresting the cops who killed Breonna Taylor – and, well, we’ll see.

However! I’m still alive! That is excellent! And I don’t have a gall bladder and while I don’t feel all that different, I don’t miss the sucker.

 

  • I didn’t have pneumonia but it was a near thing.
Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Plague Diary 12: Near Brushes

1O0A4146

America! Fuck yeah!

Last week, my daughter called to tell me that she had probably been exposed and she was on her way to get a COVID test. Fear concentrates the mind wonderfully, somebody said once, but mine just started spinning and it hasn’t really stopped yet, although we now know that actually, she wasn’t exposed, or at least not by the person who supposedly was the vector. Although, of course, she might still have been exposed: my daughter has been back at work at a restaurant along with so many people as the economy reopens and the hospitals fill up. She will get her test results* back this week and I will get mine as well: I’m going to be tested tomorrow morning. I am scared. I am panicked, actually, but I’m not sure whether the panic is coming from the COVID test** or from the upcoming surgery – FOUR DAYS OUT AND COUNTING – or because I am so damn worried about my daughter and my son, both out there working service jobs in this new and unforgiving world.

Speaking of unforgiving, in any other nation I think Trump and his cabinet and his family would be in prison right now where they belong. Or possibly marched through the streets, tarred, feathered, strung up barbarically, hung at high noon – I know, I don’t endorse that sort of thing normally, BUT. Almost every other single nation in the world has managed to control this pandemic but not only has the US not controlled it, nor done anything to mitigate the effects, nor marshaled an effective defense much less come up with a coherent plan or guidance, they have actively encouraged it becoming a political football and now we have a complete breakdown in public health. This should never have been allowed. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, political in this: wearing a mask can save your life and other people’s lives. It’s really fucking simple and straightforward. But it has become the latest casualty of the culture wars and, well, that’s all she wrote. Yesterday, at the grocery store, hardly anyone was wearing masks. I watched a family – mother, father, little girl – move from aisle to aisle. “I love you!” said the mom, poking the little girl in the stomach as she giggled. And it was all I could do not to turn and say, “Really? Do you? Then why aren’t you wearing a mask? Who is going to take care of her when you die from this? How can you take this risk?” May the best immune system win, indeed.

Meanwhile, as the country continues reopening apace despite skyrocketing COVID numbers, here

1O0A4214

Melancholy!

we are at the end of June. Father’s Day always brings up a lot of conflicting emotions for me and this year particularly, since in just a few days it will be 20 years since my father died. My dad was basically Don Draper from Mad Men (and I can’t watch that show.) He was a white upper middle class man who fought in WWII, which, I believe, left him with a lifetime of undiagnosed and untreated PTSD and then became a successful businessman in the postwar economy. He would not, I keep thinking, recognize this America. Our relationship was not wonderful but he was a complicated and smart man. I keep remembering a fight we had once when I said something slighting about the USA and he furiously told me it was the best country on earth. And you know, for him it actually was. It has not been so kind to his children and there are a multitude of reasons for that but a big one is that the country really has changed. The US has indeed always been a cesspit of racism and destruction but, for a little while there in the middle of the 20th century, it was possible for many people, particularly white people, to live and do well. While I obviously do not know, I think that had a pandemic come along in the 50s, people would probably have worn masks. It is the kernel of truth in the Maga madness: it is true that up until the 90s or so you could support a whole family on one paycheck. You could buy a house. You could send your children to college and they would not be burdened with a lifetime of debt. That this was true is of course due partly to the legacy of FDR and the new deal, partly to strong unions and very largely to a progressive and sane tax policy that charged rich people and corporations a righteous 70% of their income. Maga people never want to talk about that. And it is all over now, just a remnant of decaying memory: in the before times, when you could sort of live okay without working five jobs which expose you daily to a deadly disease that could have been controlled and was not. Reagan started the destruction and Trump is finishing it and I have no hope left for the USA.

HOWEVER! In other plague related depressing news! The supermarket is weirdly denuded again. For a while there it was as if things were back to normal at old Fred Meyer but now? Nope, the canned soups are gone, there are warnings of limits by the chickens and the powers that be have apparently decided that the best thing to do is fill up empty shelves with potato chips. There is apparently no shortage of potato chips. So the paper aisle is 1/4 giant overpriced things of paper towels, POTATO CHIPS!, some random toilet paper, POTATO CHIPS!, fancy paper napkins and, inexplicably, wooden matches, POTATO CHIPS! It makes for a more interesting shopping experience. And I bought a bag of potato chips, even though I can’t eat them. Yet.

1O0A4182

This is to show you that the next bit is really different! Also it was a lovely foggy day the other day.

****************IN OTHER OTHER NEWS BECAUSE A DAY OR SO HAS PASSED***************

I got my COVID test today. I went into the hospital affiliated Urgent Care, conveniently located next to the hospital, as I had been instructed to do. The Urgent Care is kind of wild, in that they make everyone sit down six feet away from the receptionist and sort of shout their answers back and forth.
“And what are you here for?”
“Well I fell down the goddamn stairs and I’m pretty sure I broke a damn rib or somethin’! And my last time I saw somebody they said my blood pressure was 190 over somethin’! You got somebody here can check that?”

As I sat there I learned things. It turns out that COVID tests are sent off to a lab for processing. It also turns out that that lab is having trouble – their machines are broken (look, don’t you eavesdrop at the doctor’s office too?) and they’re having trouble fixing them and everybody who got their tests done at the end of last week is going to have to have them done again. This does not, you know, inspire joy in one’s heart when one is sitting in a chair in a mask playing word games on one’s phone.
“And what are you here for?”
“Well I knew it was probably stupid to borrow his glasses but I did and now I think I have pinkeye.”

“Look,” said the super nice nurse with the totally gorgeous glitter eyeshadow, “I’m trying to get it authorized so you can get the special test that comes back in an hour or two. But we don’t have a lot of them so I’m on the phone with my boss and she’s on the phone with the head of the hospital, and anyway, can you come back in an hour or two? I’ll call you when I know anything.”

Several hours later, after I had a long phone conversation about my medical history with another hospital person –
“Do you have an advance directive?”
“Uh. . . no. . . . I guess I should?”
And in which it transpired that I am probably the only person who has ever not had anesthesia by my advanced age, Eyeshadow Nurse called back. “I’ve got you authorized!” she said, “And you can come back any time.”

So I went back, which, by the way, took some SERIOUS GUTS, because I have now convinced myself that the postnasal drip and endless sore throat I have had in flareups since probably 2016 or so is actually COVID and that if I tested positive they would probably disappear me. And also, the test was going to hurt. It did in fact hurt. It is seriously no fun. I banged my heels on the table like an angry little kid; I couldn’t help it. But it was mercifully brief and afterwards I talked to the nurse practitioner about my toe, which I whanged into the steel table in the kitchen last night because, you know, my life is not complicated enough. She offered to X ray it and I talked myself out of it quickly. I can move it. It hurts like hell when I walk on it, but, whatever.

Anyway, now I am home. I limped Harvey around the block; I have a glass of wine; I have not yet heard from the hospital about the results of the test and I am going, in the absence of news, to assume it was negative and I will be having an operation on Friday. I’m still scared, but what the hell. I’m deep in the grasp of the medical/industrial complex now and all I can do is hope I float to the top by Friday afternoon.

Hey! If I do shuffle off this mortal coil, while what I really want is a Viking funeral, and after that a green burial, I suspect all that would be too hard on my kids, who will be having a rough time anyway as they attempt to shuffle through decades worth of half finished artwork and paperback science fiction novels. So cremate me, toss half my ashes in the Pacific and the other half in the Atlantic and I loved you all. Throw a goddamn party and have a raging hangover in my honor.

 

  • She got a bag of schwag when she got her test! It had stickers and badges and helpful pamphlets and I think a t-shirt and I am just in awe: corona schwag, covid collectibles, truly we have jumped the entire fucking shark now, as a country, as a people and as a zeitgeist.

 

  • I doubt I have COVID but as soon as I think about it I panic and am convinced that I do. I have a sore throat, but realistically I have sort of had a sore throat for months, possibly years. I have headaches, but I always have headaches. And I don’t have any other symptoms but I am afraid, afraid of the disease, afraid of having it and having passed it along, afraid of the test, which I know is going to be horrible, and just, oh gods, so afraid. My anxiety is basically stratospheric right now; I am a walking, breathing panic attack. No wonder I can’t sleep.
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments