Day 55: Aliens and Hospitals

Shower Thoughts:  It’s a compliment when family thinks of you as friends, and a compliment when friends think of you as family.

So there is one conspiracy theory that the global economic meltdown was designed to finally 1) introduce us to aliens and 2) allow aliens to help us publically.  I’ve had a good time imagining how the world governments will introduce the citizens of Earth to the aliens if this actually happens.  Personally, I think it will be hilarious, and launched with many flaws, OR it could be compared to the second coming of Christ.  Regardless, theatrics and excellent lighting will be involved.  As Dr. Who pointed out, a person can handle the truth, but people can’t.  My prediction is the mobs will divide up; possibly three main groups- aliens good, aliens bad, and the complacent who will not care either way, just don’t take my TV or my job. 

Save us, Space Jesus! Space Jesus is the feeling you get when you travel through a wormhole in a fresh pair of Jordans. https://www.spacejesusmusic.com/

Secret alien lore states there are at least six or seven different species visiting us on a regular basis. They are The Greys- two types one that is tall/thin 6-7 feet and another (possibly unrelated) is a shorter species 4-5 feet, the ones with the elongated heads and tall slender bodies, the beautiful blonde blue-eyed Nordic type, the reptilians, and the reptilian of the shape-shifting variety, the last one that I read of is like a praying mantis in appearance.  Some folks claim to know the planets and the names of the species mentioned, but those descriptions can vary from person to person.  I don’t want to assume anything.  I mean WHY insult the aliens with bad manners when we already insult them with our ignorance?

The word on the secret street is that some of these aliens are pro-human, others are not.  Some work with others to help us, others do not.  There is also a concept that some, possibly the Shadow People,  come from other dimensions, NOT planets.  The idea being humans bust down walls between dimensions every time we explode a nuclear bomb.  Interdimensional aliens slip through the cracks and they are pissed.  Frost’s statement about good fences makes good neighbors is possibly proven true once again.

Guess we’ll have to wait and see how the world recovers from this global economic failure.  For the record, I would like to put in my vote for “being saved by aliens”.  What a fun time to be alive!  Yes, SO much fun.

MEANWHILE…

On a completely different note, this week a news story caught my ear.  Hospitals in America are closing down.  Hospitals in small towns can’t afford to stay open.  Do you know why?  Because there is a halt on all non-essential surgeries, also the injured assume all the hospitals are full of COVID-19 patients and stay home.

It’s an ironic twist as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the nation: The very workers tasked with treating those afflicted with the virus are losing work in droves. Emergency room visits are down. Non-urgent surgical procedures have largely been put on hold. Health care spending fell 18% in the first three months of the year. And 1.4 million health care workers lost their jobs in April, a sharp increase from the 42,000 reported in March, according to the Labor Department. Nearly 135,000 of the April losses were in hospitals.

“The only people who are coming into the hospitals are COVID-19 patients and emergencies,” says American Hospital Association Executive Vice President Tom Nickels. “All of the so-called elective surgery, hips and knees and cardiac, etcetera, are no longer being done in most institutions around the country.”

What caught my attention is that the loss is at $50 billion expected to top out at $200 billion!  That’s a lot of lettuce.  America has the highest cost of medical expenses.  We are #1 in medical bankruptcies. It is difficult to have empathy for the hospitals, but I defiantly feel bad for the typically underpaid nurses losing their jobs.  It appears this is a good time in our history to switch from private to socialized medicine. Don’t forget, small towns are farms, farms are industry, industrial accidents are common, and to be airlifted to a city hospital is about $2-8,000 dollars billed to the patient!  But it won’t happen as long as the GOP is in charge.  F*ckers.  I would like to end with this thought: a broken leg is not a Democrat or a Republican.  It is something broken that needs to be fixed.

**

Here is my mood in a photo.  TIL that Dame Judi Dench embroiders while on movie sets waiting between scenes.  Below is a sample of her work.
Take care of yourself.  -Shannon.

 


Many Hospitals Are Struggling To Absorb Financial Losses From Non-Coronavirus Patients

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_alleged_extraterrestrial_beings

https://www.npr.org/2020/05/08/852435761/as-hospitals-lose-revenue-thousands-of-health-care-workers-face-furloughs-layoff

Judi Dench’s fantastic embroidery

Day 45: Secret Socializing

Shower Thoughts: What if Earth is like one of those uncontacted tribes in South America, like the whole Galaxy knows we’re here but they’ve agreed not to contact us until we figure it out for ourselves.

For the data geeks:

Are you experiencing Lockdown Fatigue?  I am.  Somehow I am exhausted.  Everyday living is so much heavier. There was stress in my life prior to the pandemic, but now, EVERYONE around me is also stressed.  Can two negatives create a positive? Sure.  I’m trying to keep to a schedule for sleep, work and get outside, trying to write, and reach out to a friend once a day.  Trying.  It doesn’t always happen, but I think about doing it.  That counts for something, right?

*looking left and right*  …So, want to hear something super secretive? Some secret folks are meeting in secret places and are having secret social parties.  It is not unlike the Speakeasys of prohibition; underground bars that served liquor after it was outlawed.  Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933.  For every action, there is an equal reaction.  Yesterday a social post went out from Washington State Department of Health-

“We’ve been getting reports of “coronavirus parties” in which uninfected people are mingling with #COVID19 positive individuals intentionally to try to contract the virus. Bad idea! Gathering in groups in the midst of this pandemic can be incredibly dangerous and puts people at increased risk for hospitalization and even death. This kind of unnecessary behavior may create a preventable uptick in cases which further slows our state’s ability to gradually re-open.”

Stop the spread and stay home.  It’s hard and it sucks, but just do it.

Here is my current mood expressed in meme.  Take care and be safe. -Shannon

 


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prohibition_in_the_United_States

https://www.facebook.com/WADeptHealth/

Day 40: Light at the End of the Tunnel

Shower Thoughts: No other species is watched more while pooping than dogs.

Oh my goodness, day 40 has arrived!  It’s been 40 days since the official declaration from our governor to Shelter in Place, March 24th. We are in the middle of our 5th week. We learned on Friday, May 1st, the lockdown will be extended to May 31st.  How are you holding up?  Hope you are healthy and adjusting to your new normal.  As soon as we adjust completely, perhaps, going through all the stages of grief and loss, at some point we’ll be thrown back into the fire.  This morning I am thinking about the working class returning to dead-end jobs. I’m wondering what factors make a job a good job.

The 5 stages of grief and loss are: 1. Denial and isolation; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance. People who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them.

Many Americans will return to their jobs to face a brilliantly obvious discovery, a very REAL tried and true FACT- they are underpaid.  Their previous jobs were unable to prepare them for regular emergencies such as a new transmission much less a pandemic.  Middle-class life is now 30 percent more expensive than it was 20 years ago.  Meanwhile, salaries, which have stagnated for decades don’t go as far as they once did to cover the necessities.  Do we really want to go back to “normal”?

Michigan

People with guns are starting to freak out.  Last Thursday, April 30th, hundreds of well-armed citizens waving MAGA signs crashed the state capitol of Michigan demanding that the country reopen.  They wanted to get to the House floor where representatives were in session but were blocked by state police and sergeants-at-arms.  In Michigan, it is legal to carry firearms as long as it’s done with lawful intent and the weapon is visible.  Lawful Intent?  hmmmm… In my town, if this lockdown extends another two months, my biggest concern is folks might just start biking naked or something.  But, there are many parts of the US where the breaking point could result in converting Doug’s Toyota Tacoma into a freaking ISIS tank and start patrols!

I’m wondering about the demographic that stormed the capitol.  Are they the same that was studied in various reports over the last two decades?  Did you know that the suicide rate for white middle-aged working-class men has spiked?  This group of Americans appears to be the most pissed off and depressed.  Why?

For white men without a college degree, the average growth in median wages between 1979 and 2017 was a negative number (−0.2 percent a year), even as median hourly earnings for all white workers grew by 11 percent in the same period. This wage deflation has had well-documented cultural ripple effects, depressing marriage rates as men’s appeal as partners fell along with their earnings. Without a stable family life, these men are more isolated, with fewer of the sorts of social buffers that might inoculate them against suicide or drug abuse. As a result, the rates for both have gone up.

For what it’s worth, I was raised in a working-class neighborhood in South Seattle and my folks had small businesses.  A part of me recognizes these men.  They are the sons of my neighbors.  My personal interpretation is that these suicide rates reflect a group of men unwilling to seek self-improvement in the form of therapy or education. Perhaps in their culture it is a sign of weakness, or maybe they do not believe they are wrong, mentally injured, or perhaps it is a simple financial barrier.  Adaptation to our changing world is difficult but necessary.

So, let’s move ahead a few months.  We have a Presidential election coming up.  Is Biden going to go the way of Hilary or Barak in his campaign outreach?  Will he be able to identify, and connect with the majority of voters?  …also could folks start voting out the sellouts in the Senate?  Seriously.  Otherwise, in my view, Trump will simply be more fuel to the unpredictable, unstable, despair bonfire.
F*ck Trump!

 

Here is my current mood expressed in a meme.  Thanks for visiting.  Be safe, stay healthy.  -Shannon

 


https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/14/heres-how-many-americans-are-not-saving-any-money-for-emergencies-or-retirement-at-all.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/hundreds-protest-michigan-lawmakers-consider-extending-governors-emergency-powers-n1196886

https://washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/april-may-june-2020/white-death/

My book of poetry:
https://www.villagebooks.com/product/fallen-shannon-p-laws

Day 34: Where The Sun Don’t Shine

Shower Thought: It’s crazy that’s there’s this giant thing in the sky all the time that we’re not supposed to look at.

So my friend has a great idea for a CORVID-19 cure.  It is a rectal suppository of sunlight, UV rays.  At last, if marketed, you could buy some for your mother in law and tell her to “stick it where the sun don’t shine!” with no repercussions.  New puns are being developed as I type…

 

WA ST curve as of April 15th

The future is full of possibilities. like going to out to dinner with friends, hanging out at the coffee shop writing all afternoon, going to a concert.  Yes, it is possible we could do all of that again, one day.  Washington’s lockdown is supposed to end May 4th.  The state will reopen in stages.  Our curve is pretty low.  Good job everyone!  My questions is will phase two involve temperature testing incoming traffic at our airports, bus lines, trains, and cars?  I’m sending some suspicious eyes at those anti-mask types in Idaho right now.

It reminds me of the freeway off-ramp search checkpoints in Southern Arizona. Arizona was a confusing place for the police.  They really wanted to stop any driver that “LOOKED Mexican.”  A co-worker of mine was often stopped, but sorry cops, he is Filipino, born and raised in America. My dark complexion, a gift from my Cuban father, also caused confusion driving to from home in Rio Rico to work in Tucson. Every morning, border patrol flagged me over to be questioned and have the drug dog sniff my car.

After about the 6th time they remembered my car and let me pass. So, in the time of CORVID, people don’t necessarily LOOK sick. It’s such a difficult virus to nail down and finding an enemy, a group to blame, well, fingers are pointing in every direction.  Why can’t we be more creative in our hate and distrust?  Could a new license plate prejudice develop? (again looking at Idaho…)  When the British Columbia, Idaho and Oregon plates return to our state, let’s hope they all have notes from their doctors.


Out for my evening close-to-home walk, I was delighted to stumble across the Happy Valley Howl at 7 pm last week. Every evening at 7:00 pm neighbors walk out to their front steps and let out some serious primeval therapy into the skies for about 5 minutes! Reached at least out & over three blocks in both directions. I understand that neighborhoods in Wisconsin and California also howl.  I joined in and I must say…I really needed it!  A howl can say so much more than words.  It symbolizes your location, you’re here, you’re well. It can also be a shout to the virus to leave our neighborhood- disease and want get out! Be gone!

That is all I have today; satire. *long sigh* Here is my mood expressed by meme.  Have a good day, players.  -Shannon

 

Day 32: TGIF I think…it’s Friday right?

Shower Thoughts: Last night my friend asked to use a USB port to charge his cigarette, but I was using it to charge my book. The future is stupid.

Happy Friday everyone!  Oh wait, IS IT Friday?  I’m not sure.  Let’s see- Traffic looks like a Sunday afternoon, every day feels like a Saturday, kinda, but sometimes the grocery stores are busy like it is Thanksgiving.  Hmmmm… I’m not sure.  What does it feel like for you?  At times, especially last week, it felt like floating in jello, honestly.  Existence is vague and with little reference of location and time.  My clock and calendars are handrails along a dark trail.

This is me in my car last week, getting ready to deliver some supplies to a high-risk tenant.  I’m still working *knock on wood* and happy to help folks.  I haven’t had more than a sore throat since last December, and I chalked that up to the pollen count.  However, on Monday I have a video appointment with my personal doctor and hopefully, it will result in testing.

Whatcom County in Washington State is offering very little testing opportunities.  An acquaintance of mine was tested about 8 days ago and laughed telling me about it.  He said it felt like a drug deal.  His doctor gave him directions and an address where he met two ladies, dressed head to toe in PPE, working out of an unmarked van in an alley downtown.  He was their ONLY customer.  I’m not aware of any mass testing operation happening in Washington like I see in California, where folks are qued up in mile-long lines perhaps at a stadium parking lot.  Of course, testing and re-testing will help our nation determine if the lockdown is working.  HAHAHAAAAA! …but it is not happening.

The Federal Government, State, and Local appear to be completely discombobulated.   Our ‘effin president basically confessed to offering more Federal aid and services to the Republican States AND (sweet Lord) wants scientists to look into UV and disinfectant injections to kill the virus INSIDE US!—???  Another WTF moment.  EVERY DAY is a WTF moment with this administration.  Unbelievable.

My current mood in meme form.  Take care of yourself and your loved ones.  Hit “like” to let me know you were here.  Wishing you good health. -Shannon

Day 31: Get Yer Boots On

Shower thoughts: If someone offered to pay for my food and rent for the next 18 years, I’d do anything they ask of me. But I complained every time I took the trash out while living at my parent’s house.

Are you ready to get a little deep today?

There is so much information floating around right now about CORVID-19.  Speculation, opinion, science, federal government BS, even emails from credit card companies, and insurance companies advising on “the best ways” to keep healthy during the pandemic.  (Wow-suddenly you care about my health?)  For news and information, I’m sticking with the KNOWNS.  I push updates from my county’s Department of Health, the CDC, emails from my personal doctor, listen/watch NPR, Democracy Now, and ABC Nightly News for flavor.

Yesterday I stumbled across an article that was a delight to read.  They say there is nothing more powerful than the right word spoken at the right time.  I felt a comradery with Nguyen’s insights.  We are of the same cloth; not the same caliber, mind you.  He is a writer who also has a burden to write.  He ends the article with this sweet truth, “I write not only because it brings me pleasure, but also out of fear — fear that if I do not tell a new story, I cannot truly live.”   He is Viet Thanh Nguyen, Contributing Opinion Writer, the article was in the New York Times, Sunday, 4/10/2020.

Here is the beef of it:
“Perhaps the sensation of imprisonment during quarantine might make us imagine what real imprisonment feels like. There are, of course, actual prisons where we have warehoused human beings who have no relief from the threat of the coronavirus. There are refugee camps and detention centers that are de facto prisons. There is the economic imprisonment of poverty and precariousness, where a missing paycheck can mean homelessness, where illness without health insurance can mean death.”

Read the full 2 minute read here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/10/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-america.html?fbclid=IwAR0C6wlR25MuZjOANDRmn6bQ4Vn4gcvRRNTOPzZ3LwHlM02F8o5y_tVC88s

My point: carving out a life was difficult for the middle, lower & poverty classes BEFORE the pandemic.  


This morning I wanted to revisit a poem I wrote waaaay back in 2001.  I don’t even see it as a poem, it is more of a journal really.  When I read it today I can still feel the agony and helplessness in the words.  It’s a window to a time in my life when I should have felt satisfied.  I was living the American Dream, but the price was too high; the burden too heavy.  Following the examples of my parents, yet it was all wrong.  What was different?

So, it is the late ’90s and as a young couple, we were delighted to finally achieve the American Dream: home & mortgage, cars & car payments, kids & kid maintenance, and the full-time jobs that pay JUST enough for it all.  Then…it happens.  It sneaks up on you, slowly, taking 10, 15 years for the poison to surface.  You wake up one day on the freeway heading home in a smothering hot car, stuck in a 3 mile back up—a hamster in a cage running on its wheel going nowhere.
You are woke.  You are pissed.

Today.  Today I live in a small one-bedroom apartment and my life is very simple.  I’m 20 minutes from work.  The cost of living 25 years later is higher, wages are stagnant, and I’m hustling.  I’m working two jobs, both essential during the pandemic, plus a little freelancing when I can.  So…guess what, I’m happy. I am satisfied. I am grounded.  I am full of peace.  Don’t get me wrong, if I am laid off it will devastate me financially.  My savings were absorbed to help get through the 2008 Great Recession.  ‘Effin sucks.  It is difficult to accept the limit of control, difficult to acknowledge that obtaining “things” and social status are empty ventures.
However, the true definition of maturity—and this is key—
I CAN STILL BE HAPPY.

Alarm

Watching the clock
waiting for time to
catch up with me:
Breakfast time.
Traffic time.
Working time.
Lunch time
More working time
Leaving time …finally here.

Time drags along like a leashed cat forced on a walk
Coming home late the house dark
My kitchen smells like the dinner missed
Opening a window a breeze floats in
a scent like rain on the blacktop
dust and wet at the same moment

Pouring myself into bed next to one already asleep a new rhythm starts
Breath bellows in and out
Fresh replacing exhausted
In a room absent of fluorescent
Moon glowing through slits of blinds
patterns across the nightstand
where the alarm clock sits
Not a clock only nor an alarm, but both
It’s red eyes watching as I toggle its hated button
Alarm clock: sound and visual aide that announces my next destination
A location I’ve purchased no ticket for but a price has been paid

Eyelids close
Mind opens
Dreams dreamt, too quick to absorb
ALARM!
ALARM!
Time races out of the gate!
I am the slow one now
5 a.m. comes too early
Quickly get on the carousel!
Around I go into another day, following the sun, while wishing for the moon

####


Credits

*Laws, Shannon. Madrona Grove: Poems Written Under the Canopy . Chickadee Productions. Kindle Edition.

Day 30: Zoom Fatigue

Yesterday, Washington State entered its 4th week of lockdown.  On Tuesday, March 24th our governor declared that everything but essential businesses close and for citizens to shelter in place TFN.  Weeks prior folks and businesses started to practice social distancing.

So here we are.  What can we say?  What can we do?  We can stay creative, read more, exercise, work if we have it.  I heard of a new sensation called “Zoom Fatigue”.

Your screen freezes. There’s a weird echo. A dozen heads stare at you. There are the work huddles, the one-on-one meetings, and then, once you’re done for the day, the hangouts with friends and family.  Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we’re on video calls more than ever before – and many are finding it exhausting…”
Being on a video call requires more focus than a face-to-face chat, says Petriglieri. Video chats mean we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language; paying more attention to these consumes a lot of energy. “Our minds are together when our bodies feel we’re not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhausting. You cannot relax into the conversation naturally,” he says

Do you think you might have ill feelings for a person with slow internet?  A study says yes, yes you are judgemental.

Silence is another challenge, he adds. “Silence creates a natural rhythm in a real-life conversation. However, when it happens in a video call, you became anxious about technology.” It also makes people uncomfortable. One 2014 study by German academics showed that delays on phone or conferencing systems shaped our views of people negatively: even delays of 1.2 seconds made people perceive the responder as less friendly or focused.

This is a time of grace, allowing people more space, more time.  Be kind to the folks you encounter during your day.  I’m learning, a little kindness goes a long way right now.

Here is a poem from my first book Madrona Grove

WINK*

Morning sunlight, sun low stretch shadows long,
twinkle through the branches
that sway in the current, bath me, please
Stronger the light
Harsher the dark
Sun cannot be everywhere
nature’s landscape prevents it
God made or not

Crow flies by
nods it’s head
as if it remembers me
Your life so simple Crow
Please brood over my features
A wink when you fly by will let me know
They are fixed in your mind

The Sun may not always find me
Yet your wings move you amongst the penumbras
and illumination
Your nod,
Crow, brings me comfort for somewhere, by someone
I am remembered
####

My current mood expressed in a meme.  Take care of yourself, be kind to all.  -Shannon


“The reason Zoom calls drain your energy”, By Manyu Jiang22nd April 2020
https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200421-why-zoom-video-chats-are-so-exhausting?fbclid=IwAR3Qmi_9rA7gRAfYb_AIQhjVVksWuAoBlwWqJB5MeyYhSZG2nnqC-AyNHho

*Copyright 2020 Laws, Shannon. Madrona Grove: Poems Written Under the Canopy. Chickadee Productions. Kindle Edition.

Day 25: You Are Here

Today Washington State is 3 weeks and 3 days into the COVID-19 lockdown.  Strange moments remind me what universe I am in.  My son went to get some groceries and I rush over to him before he left, “Take a face mask!  They might not let you into the store without one!” People will cross the street instead of walking past you on the same sidewalk, while folks a few blocks over meet in their culdesac, sit 6 feet apart on deck chairs to talk to each other in the evenings.  A local bookstore is offering to deliver your book order to your door if you live in town.  We had a delivery for dinner the other day.  The driver knocked on the door, left the food in a paper bag then took 6 large steps back and waited for the door to open. There was an awkward moment if I should even talk to her.  She seemed scared. “Thank you! Have a good night.”  Everyday things are a new dance.  New etiquettes are surfacing.  Common courtesies have new rules.

I’m sitting at my desk, thinking about the day and what to journal, I am wondering why I selected those 5 ridiculous questions to answer every day.  I no longer like them. I think it is obvious that I’ve never been in a pandemic before!  (…BTW- if, so some reason, the planet goes through this again within our lifetime, WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENT?   How would you prepare if you know you had perhaps a 4-day notice or maybe you saw the clues three months ahead of time.  Would you fly to a tropical beach? Buy 100 rolls of toilet paper? Sell your cruise tickets? Just wondering…I like where I am and who I am quarantined with but I wish my apartment was larger, like if I had space for a back yard, a swimming pool and a craft room.)

These daily personal inquires started with good intentions like most bad ideas, but, I’m just not going to do it anymore.  You can’t make me.
1) an observed joy-  meant for me to keep my eyes on the positive.
2) a real concern- designed to remind me what is a REAL problem.
3) a personal challenge- I imagined I would be in a self-improvement mode.
4) one personal success (no matter how small)- a question designed to showcase the self-improvement.
5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- I’m a silly random person

Here is my current mood illustrated in a meme.  -Shannon

Day 19: The Great Pause

The worldwide pause.  Will we forget these months?  As citizens of the planet- let us promise to never forget.  The deaths, suffering, confusion from our leaders, the kindness from neighbors, the debt, the empty shelves at the grocery and in many homes, the masses unable to pay rent, buy food, after only ONE month with no pay, the healthcare system strained, buying face masks for your family, exposed drive-thru workers, crops rotting, the temporary peace in Syria. The pandemic, The Great Pause happened.

Today I am supplementing my journal with this post by Julio Vincent Gambuto writing for “Medium”.  His words challenged me and I hope they help you as well today.

The complete article can be found here:  https://medium.com/@juliovincent/prepare-for-the-ultimate-gaslighting-6a8ce3f0a0e0


Pretty soon, as the country begins to figure out how we “open back up” and move forward, very powerful forces will try to convince us all to get back to normal. That never happened. What are you talking about? Billions of dollars will be spent in advertising, messaging, and television and media content to make you feel comfortable again. It will come in the traditional forms — a billboard here, a hundred commercials there — and in new-media forms — a 2020–2021 generation of memes to remind you that what you want again is normalcy. In truth, you want the feeling of normalcy, and we all want it.

We want desperately to feel good again, to get back to the routines of life, to not lie in bed at night wondering how we’re going to afford our rent and bills, to not wake to an endless scroll of human tragedy on our phones, to have a cup of perfectly brewed coffee and simply leave the house for work.

The need for comfort will be real, and it will be strong. And every brand in America will come to your rescue, dear consumer, to help take away that darkness and get life back to the way it was before the crisis. I urge you to be well aware of what is coming.

For the last hundred years, the multi-billion-dollar advertising business has operated based on this cardinal principle: find the consumer’s problem and fix it with your product. When the problem is practical and tactical, the solution is “as seen on TV” and available at Home Depot. Command strips will save me from having to re-paint. So will Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser. Elfa shelving will get rid of the mess in my closet. The Ring doorbell will let me see who’s on the porch if I can’t take my eyes off Netflix. But when the problem is emotional, the fix becomes a new staple in your life, and you become a lifelong loyalist. Coca-Cola makes you: happy. A Mercedes makes you: successful. Taking your kids to Disneyland makes you: proud. Smart marketers know how to highlight what brands can do for you to make your life easier. But brilliant marketers know how to re-wire your heart. And, make no mistake, the heart is what has been most traumatized this last month. We are, as a society, now vulnerable in a whole new way.

What the trauma has shown us, though, cannot be unseen. A carless Los Angeles has clear blue skies as pollution has simply stopped. In a quiet New York, you can hear the birds chirp in the middle of Madison Avenue. Coyotes have been spotted on the Golden Gate Bridge. These are the postcard images of what the world might be like if we could find a way to have a less deadly daily effect on the planet.

What’s not fit for a postcard are the other scenes we have witnessed: a healthcare system that cannot provide basic protective equipment for its front line; small businesses — and very large ones — that do not have enough cash to pay their rent or workers, sending over 16 million people to seek unemployment benefits; a government that has so severely damaged the credibility of our media that 300 million people don’t know who to listen to for basic facts that can save their own lives.

The cat is out of the bag. We, as a nation, have deeply disturbing problems. You’re right. That’s not news. They are problems we ignore every day, not because we’re terrible people or because we don’t care about fixing them, but because we don’t have time. Sorry, we have other shit to do. The plain truth is that no matter our ethnicity, religion, gender, political party (the list goes on), nor even our socio-economic status, as Americans we share this: we are busy. We’re out and about hustling to make our own lives work. We have goals to meet and meetings to attend and mortgages to pay — all while the phone is ringing and the laptop is pinging. And when we get home, Crate and Barrel and 3M and Andy Cohen make us feel just good enough to get up the next day and do it all over again. It is very easy to close your eyes to a problem when you barely have enough time to close them to sleep. The greatest misconception among us, which causes deep and painful social and political tension every day in this country, is that we somehow don’t care about each other. White people don’t care about the problems of black America. Men don’t care about women’s rights. Cops don’t care about the communities they serve. Humans don’t care about the environment. These couldn’t be further from the truth. We do care. We just don’t have the time to do anything about it. Maybe that’s just me. But maybe it’s you, too.

Well, the treadmill you’ve been on for decades just stopped. Bam! And that feeling you have right now is the same as if you’d been thrown off your Peloton bike and onto the ground: what in the holy fuck just happened? I hope you might consider this: what happened is inexplicably incredible. It’s the greatest gift ever unwrapped. Not the deaths, not the virus, but The Great Pause. It is, in a word, profound. Please don’t recoil from the bright light beaming through the window. I know it hurts your eyes. It hurts mine, too. But the curtain is wide open.

What the crisis has given us is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see ourselves and our country in the plainest of views. At no other time, ever in our lives, have we gotten the opportunity to see what would happen if the world simply stopped.

Here it is. We’re in it. Stores are closed. Restaurants are empty. Streets and six-lane highways are barren. Even the planet itself is rattling less (true story). And because it is rarer than rare, it has brought to light all of the beautiful and painful truths of how we live. And that feels weird. Really weird. Because it has…never…happened…before. If we want to create a better country and a better world for our kids, and if we want to make sure we are even sustainable as a nation and as a democracy, we have to pay attention to how we feel right now. I cannot speak for you, but I imagine you feel like I do: devastated, depressed, and heartbroken.

Los Angeles, pollution-free. Photo credit: Gabriel Duarte

Day 18: Little Cuties

Yesterday my daughter’s gift arrived!  It is a beautiful hand-sewn mask by a fabric artist who lives near my daughter on San Juan Island, Washington.  Here is the photo I took to share with you.  Placed my breakfast inside to simulate a nose.  I love the little cutie tangerines that come in mesh bags this time of year at my grocery store.

I heard on the radio this morning that the spring/summer harvest of many crops in America are left to rot in the fields.  They are essential of course, but there are two issues, the farmers have no money to pay the workers, and the mass majority of Americans can not afford the food, which dominoed into fewer buyers purchasing the bulk produce.
NPR Morning Edition reported:

“…In fact, the pandemic has caused entirely different problems: a spike in the number of people who can’t afford groceries and a glut of food where it’s not needed.
Dairy farmers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Georgia have been forced to dump thousands of gallons of milk that no one will buy. In Florida, vegetable growers are abandoning harvest-ready fields of tomatoes, yellow squash, and cucumbers for the same reason.”

Is there a food shortage coming? Once again I will attempt to quiet my panic. Calm it with prayer/meditation, give it to the trails I walk, allow it to transform into motivation and energize me while I work.  We have to trust that the people with direct influence over these decisions have the wisdom and courage to make the right choice for all of America.  It is difficult to trust our leaders.  Consistent empathy towards citizens is non-existent.  Personal gain is KING.

1) an observed joy- the Good Friday live stream service today

2) a real concern- No personal concerns at this time, but some things I am wondering about, for instance, when Washington re-opens, will they need to control our State’s borders?  Will the price of gas go up soon?

3) a personal challenge- My next shopping day is April 15th.  I want to have a new, leaner strategy, anticipating that Washington State will extend the mandate to the end of May.

4) one personal success (no matter how small)- I am stretching in the mornings with a 30-minute video I found on YouTube.

5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- Can I come out of the pandemic healthier than when I went in?

Here is a photo to illustrate my mood today.  Thank you for visiting my blog.  Please click “LIKE” and let me know you came by.  Peace & health be with you, Shannon


https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2020/04/03/826006362/food-shortages-nope-too-much-food-in-the-wrong-places