Friday, May 15, 2020

A public service message for my blocked Facebook friends

Hi, do you hate being locked down? Does it feel super un-American that you can’t eat at McDonald’s or go to church? Are you willing to sacrifice every vulnerable human being on earth so you can get regular haircuts? If so, I think it's important that you direct your righteous rage to the right place.

This was always a tough situation. With a super-contagious and deadly virus on the loose, it was inevitable that we all be “socially isolated” for some period of time. Lots of us—you, too, as I recall—were willing in March to do that for several weeks, since it was literally the only way to save millions of lives. That was supposed to give the federal government, under the advisement of its PREVIOUSLY SUCCESSFUL VIRAL PANDEMIC PLAN and REALLY SMART PUBLIC HEALTH EXPERTS, time to get the virus under control.

Instead of trying to do that, the Trump administration:
  • Tossed out the pandemic plan, having already tossed out the pandemic team
  • Put Trump in front of cameras daily to congratulate himself, raise the projected death toll he was absolutely fine with, and “be sarcastic” about our health options
  • Hoarded medical supplies
  • Pitted states against each other to make it harder to get medical supplies
  • Actually stole supplies, but apparently only from blue states
  • Fired or tried to silence their remaining experts
  • Lied about everything and discredited journalists trying to tell the truth
  • Failed to put out even a consistent messaging about what we all should do
So now it’s mid-May, and we're in the same situation we were in March. (Except a little better, because we now know that we’ll be in much better shape if everyone simply wears masks! Which you also refuse to do!) But nothing remotely useful has happened on the federal level, so we have the same two crappy choices: Stay locked down or millions die. With no end in sight.

We ALL hate this. I have it pretty good, all things considered, but I’m temporarily living away from my family because of coronavirus, so rest assured that I hate it, too. But you have to try to understand that we’re not here because states and communities are taking the “save millions of lives” option—that’s the obvious choice, and you’re a monster if you disagree (guess that’s why you’re blocked!). No, we’re here because Trump was too vain to even admit we had a problem and too stupid to know what to do about it. We’re here because lying is his default position and it seemed a lot easier than trying.

It was never going to be easy to fix this; I don’t know what the country would have been like right now if someone else had been in charge. But Trump has done the worst job imaginable, and I am with you in your frustration. But if you’re going to vent and rage, direct it to him. And if you’re planning to exert your “right” to go toast your temporary good health in a crowded bar, please go back to venting and raging, because a lot of other people have the right to not be killed by you.

Saturday, May 9, 2020


Hello I am still trying very hard not to complain about my privileged personal situation, but I honestly wasn’t emotionally prepared for a level of government malfeasance and societal insanity that means I might have to stay locked down LITERALLY UNTIL A VACCINE IS DEVELOPED. I already did NOT want to get this virus—I guess I’m not one of those people who hears “just a bad flu” and thinks, “Well, dandy, that sounds FINE!”—but it’s so horrifying that nobody really knows what it does to survivors long term. If you’re an elite athlete who gets this, your career is maybe over. If you have a stroke, your life as you know it is maybe over. Will your kidneys ever be the same? God only knows.

Of course existence is unpredictable and nobody lives forever and nothing is guaranteed and afterlife and Stoicism and quantum physics and whatever, but it makes me so mad that the federal government hasn’t done a single useful thing during all this time when most of its citizens have dutifully done their best and tried to stay optimistic and waited for help. Instead we get chaos, discord, disinformation, kickbacks for the rich, and “Well, people in hell want icewater, too.”

If you’ve guessed that I’m feeling rather madder than usual at the Trump supporters enabling all this, you’d be right. My feeling is that to simply BE his supporter you’d have to believe that what the rest of us call “news” is a lie and that therefore it’s fine to believe whatever you can find on the internet. It’s so personally offensive to me—as a former cog in the machine that produced news—to hear disgusting generalizations about the evils of “the mainstream media” as if it were one unified entity and not human professionals I know named Laura and Brian and Karron and Karen making a long series of informed decisions as part of their damned jobs.

Will my relationship with people who refuse to join us here in reality ever be the same? That’s maybe over. More casualties.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

On the self-improvement front

So despite having literal nightmares about crowds—last night, among other dreams, I was at the symphony, desperately trying to get everyone to spread out—everything is going OK. I have food, I have employment, I have some family around me, shelter, heat, comfort, entertainment, enrichment opportunities, popcorn, a yard to roam in, a second yard to care for, etc., etc. This is not ideal, but I honestly have nothing to complain about, and so I won’t.

I have heard a lot of talk about how “This is a pandemic, you don’t have to better yourself,” and I agree with that. But on the other hand, since I am literally fine in just about every way, I see no reason why I can’t turn the yoga dial up a few notches and actually get better at something during this time. Additionally, my current read is “Portrait of a Lady,” which is not exactly a light summer beach book, but I chose it before the pandemic and might as well get through it. (Of note, my other indefinitely-checked-out library book is about quantum physics.)

I’m also eating as healthfully as humanly possible, but that’s not to “better myself”—I just think it’s the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself from illness, right after staying away from crowded symphony halls.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Advice for the conditionally healthy

Disclaimer: I don’t really know anything.

It has not escaped my attention that a 5- to 14-day incubation period means any of us could have coronavirus right now and be totally unaware of it. You’re feeling good? Congratulations, you weren’t infected as of March 18. (Well, actually, that is pretty good news, because my own personal COVID freakout began on March 12, and I’ve been as careful as I can since then.)

Anyway, I always assume I have the virus, and based on that assumption, here are the steps I’ve been taking:

1. Do not eat anything that might make you feel sickish. So for me, sugar can give me a sore throat, and dairy makes me congested—I am avoiding both like the plague. The last thing I want is to have a cough and then a panic attack. My diet is pretty impeccable right now.

2. Get hours and hours of extra sleep. Maybe you’re bored anyway. Sleep has the dual advantage of killing a lot of time and also giving your body tons of help with whatever it’s doing.

3. Take every supplement known to boost the immune system. It’s better if you’ve been taking these for a long time, but go ahead and start in with the C, the D, the probiotics, the leafy greens, the green tea, etc. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, and coronavirus hurts us with inflammation, so I don’t see a downside.

4. But don’t take a fever reducer if you can help it. If you get a fever, you will want to know asap, and you won’t know if you just took Advil for neck pain.

5. Give yourself a fake fever. Fever possibly works by improving the efficiency of white blood cells, making it easier for them to spot invaders. So sit in a hot bath or a sauna if you have access to one, and sweat. Or do what I do and pile a million blankets on yourself at night. Heat stress is good for you anyway, and maybe your immune system can kill this thing off before the symptoms even show up.

6. Keep active, but don’t push it. I want to be healthy and limber and strong, but if I am falling ill tomorrow, I certainly don’t want to have done an exhausting workout today. I’m personally cool with walking (fresh air!) and yoga, but I absolutely do not want to huff and puff right now.

7. Don’t do anything that will land you in a medical facility. To me this means excellent dental hygiene, being extra-careful with kitchen knives, keeping meat and vegetables on separate cutting boards, and just generally not doing anything dumb.

8. All the usual. Wash hands, six feet away, stay mentally healthy, hug the people in your bubble, etc.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Three creations of mine

I ended up being vaguely dissatisfied with my “other people’s group” Facebook gratitude journal experience, so I created my own after all: If you’re curious, find it at So far almost no one is curious—LOL.

And I wanted to show you my painting in progress. I like the way it looks from a distance, but not close up, and I decided black outlines would just muddy up a canvas that is already getting a little muddy. Also, I have 90 percent convinced myself to draw in a giant, monster venus flytrap looming over the horizon. (To be clear: I’m 100 percent convinced it needs a dose of whimsy; 90 percent convinced that it’s going to be of the venus flytrap variety.)

And I created one other thing today:

(Did you know you can google “hierarchy of needs template” and just fill it in yourself in Illustrator?)

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

More about gratitude

OK, I finished The Gratitude Diaries—and, disclaimer, I didn’t really end up liking it much at all, so this is not a book recommendation. But I DO feel convinced that gratitude is an important and overlooked part of surviving in the world, especially right now when 10 minutes on Twitter (or, I assume, the evening news) is enough to make anyone believe we’re all doomed and everything is hopeless. And maybe we are, and it is, but it seems silly to act that way when my day-to-day personal life is objectively fantastic and there’s always the hope of changing things for the better.

I have been thinking about creating a gratitude journal or turning this blog into one, but that sounded kind of cumbersome and/or annoying. Then I got an inspiration: I went to Facebook, typed in “gratitude,” and joined the first group that popped up, which is simply a place where people post daily expressions of thankfulness. That sounds easy, and the fact that others can see it should hopefully make me put some thought into what I write there. And it will be a bonus to see other people’s posts, maybe, probably.

If the group turns out to be not what I was expecting, I think my next step will be to create one myself and invite friends and family to join. Actually, I might just do that anyway; it sounds like fun and might be a novel way to keep in touch.

Monday, February 17, 2020

ArtWalk project

I’m back from my trip and SOOO glad it’s Presidents’ Day; of course the actual president is a human venereal disease, but apparently all my clients observe the day off. (The swim meet was good—nothing too exciting from the kid but major thrilling team win!—and my mom and I had fun seeing Mik.)

I am participating in a little art contest thing that one of the local galleries does every year. For $10 you buy a small canvas from them, turn it into art, and then they display it at an event called ArtWalk, where bunches of people gawk at it, vote on their favorite, and have the chance to purchase it. I am 100 percent going to try to sell mine, because why not? I know from personal experience anything priced under $40 at ArtWalk hits the sweet spot of supporting local artists + easy affordability.

I thought some sort of Montana landscape would be my best bet to sell, and I’ve been playing with a new set of black pens I got for Christmas (I think “messy black outlines to make everything more whimsical” is my aesthetic). The picture below is a photo I took, run through some filters and messed around with in Illustrator. I think I’m going to make a color print of this and then try to paint something in this vein:

You can’t see it too well on this, but that sandstone formation at lower right is a distinctive landmark that places this in Billings.

We can all have a good laugh, maybe, at what I actually do paint, but I feel like clouds are kind of hard to mess up too much, and I anticipate that putting black outlines on them will be MAGICAL.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Not entirely unrelated to gratitude

I’ve had a bit more work than usual these past few days because I’m gearing up to go on a little trip to see Mik swim at his big college meet of the season. That has led to rebellion about work, which has led me to procrastinate, which has led me to pay attention to what I do when I’m procrastinating:

  1. I made an hourlong Spotify playlist for my favorite yoga instructor to use in her classes, and started a second one with some of the leftover songs (spent HOURS on this).
  2. I started writing a poem about my dad.
  3. I started blogging again a little.
  4. I thought incessantly about painting, and what I want to work on next, and took some pictures and played with digital images that could be future paintings. (I did not actually paint, though.)
  5. I researched yoga and yoga-like moves that can be used as a warm-up for meditation, because I’ve been fantasizing about developing a series of 10-minute meditation warm-up sessions.

Oh, and I spent a lot of time on social media, but setting that aside for now, because although I deeply love that short-form writing you get to do there, most of it is just unhealthy addiction, as we all know.

Have you heard that thing where they say if you’re looking for what your calling in life is, think about the things you were doing for fun when you were 10? For me, they were pretty much exactly the same as that list above. Obviously “blogging” and “Spotify” did not exist.

But it seems to me that I really want and need to spend more time on creative projects, and in particular I want to write more (and not the soul-killing dreck I get paid to write, unfortunately). Gonna try to make it happen, even if I come home to another huge pile of work in a week or so.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Time will tell

I’m being pretty good about getting my meditations in, although I dropped the time down to 25 minutes per session in order to make that happen. Possibly this indicates that I am no longer following the instructions in my path-to-enlightenment book and instead just meditating to try to be a better person—just like I said I wasn’t doing—or possibly it means I AM on the path to enlightenment but am still at Stage One (Establish a Consistent Practice). Time will tell, but I’ve definitely decided that I’m not going to go for the gold in terms of time sitting there if it means getting frustrated and giving up entirely.

Also, I’ve started reading a book about gratitude (The Gratitude Diaries, seems OK so far), so don’t be too surprised if this blog turns into some sort of gratitude journal next. Not sure that is any more interesting of a blog topic than a long list of days of the week and how long I meditated, but maybe it will inspire me to write again.

Thursday, January 9, 2020


Just checking in to report that I am alive—but only barely, because I’ve gone back to eating keto, and there is a Transition Period after your body has used up its very last carb, during which you feel like the human embodiment of the sound of someone trying to suck the last drops of soda through a straw. It is January, so I’ve also been heroically doing my meditation and yoga, taking winter walks, and getting back to work.

There is a transition period on that last front, too—meaning that any urgent work gets done and all longer-deadline projects get patted on the head and set aside for another day, maybe, if I ever pull myself together.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Cry for help

I just reread my last post, and it’s safe to say that, generally, I overreacted to it being December. AS USUAL. It’s an annual cry for help, honestly. It’s the month when my brain says: “Even though you may not think you’re living by a restrictive set of rules, you actually have been, and those are canceled. There will be no meditating at all, let alone for 45 minutes; it’s a perfect time to binge all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer; you’re going to be sleeping for 11 to 12 hours a night; you’re going to be doing the bare minimum of work that keeps you from getting fired; and, here, have some more chips.”

I don’t have a New Year’s resolution, but I did start a 30-day at-home yoga thing that I do every January, and as part of that I set an intention to be the best version of myself. This is of course much easier now that December is over.

In fact, here’s a picture of me and M.H. in January: We wanted to take a walk and also needed to go to the grocery store, so we bundled up, grabbed a backpack, and walked the nearly two miles to Albertsons, where we bought $8 worth of loose produce, walked home, and made soup out of it.