Day 23: (Remembering Matt)

Returned a few hours ago from an early morning grocery store run. I was hoping to score some highly prized toilet paper.

I was allowed to buy 4 rolls.

Apparently, the trick is getting to the store at 6:00am vs. 6:45am.

Whatever.

I’m feeling a bit sick of this whole thing. I was not able to take in my own grocery bags. I could not buy more than one carton of eggs. Yadda yadda yadda…

I’m whining now. The world isn’t the same and I don’t like it. I don’t like wearing gloves and an N95 mask to buy fucking groceries. I don’t like asking the grocery store workers, many of whom I know on a first-name basis if they and their colleagues are okay.

I don’t like having an orange Cheeto despot running my country.

But all that is beside the point.

Today, I’m healthy. Today, I’m not struggling to breathe.

Today…I’m alive. And that’s a gift.

When my 17 y/o step-son became a quadriplegic in 1999 (he died in 2005) as the result of a car accident, I learned first-hand the advantage of not taking the little things for granted. Matt used to tell me he had dreams about running…about simply walking. It fucking broke my heart. In fact, it still is hard to talk about.

So when I see myself spiraling into self-pity, I remember Matt. I remember the things he yearned for that I took for granted. I miss him so much.

Today, I’ll remember to be thankful for the little things.


Day 22

I made the mistake of watching Dear Leader’s Campaign Rally…er…WH Task Force Briefing yesterday. It honestly sent me into a legit depression for most of the day. I’d read about his antics at these things and seen snippets, but never actually sat down and watched one. I was stunned.

I’d never been more ashamed to be an American as I was yesterday. Our country has fallen so far, and I fear it will take at least a generation to get us back to the status quo of our imperialistic denial, but at least then, there was the patina of decorum. Ugh.

Of course a bike ride today immediately solved the depression, as well as finding out that I’d just slid in under the wire of my new companies hiring freeze. I was really sweating that one out. Now to make it past probation and I’ll have a semblance of occupational certainty.

But life is all about uncertainty, isn’t it? The comfortable life that I’ve long strived for, and achieved at one time, turned out to be a lie. Another reminder that it’s the journey and not the destination would be in order for my worn-out brain.

Short post today as I need to attend to my wailing cats…dinner time shall not be interrupted for ANY reason, especially my ramblings.

Stay safe…

 


Day 21

I woke up this morning to find this on my FB timeline.

I’m now in a puddle of tears.

That’s it. That’s all I need today.

 


Day 20

Just riffing here…but holy cow: 20 days of no work and shelter-in-place. Walking the dog in a downpour this morning I reminisced about where I would be, specifically, at work at this time on a Sunday morning. More “normal” musings. Meh.

The dog (and by “the dog” I mean 70-pound Belgian Malinois aka 70-pounds of muscle and fury) accidentally head-butted me in the mouth, nearly knocking out one of my front teeth. So there’s that…

Planning on doing fuck-all today as next week I need to start getting up early in the mornings and attempting some form of self-discipline in order to remember that I am, in fact, an aspiring writer and have plenty of stories to revise and stories-in-progress to work on. It won’t be pretty. Additionally, I need to start working on some online onboarding for my new job as well as tutorials for a new software program I’ll be using.

That said, I’m also looking forward to the break in the rain Tuesday so I can get back on the bike and continue the progress I’ve made the last 20 days. I’m starting to feel myself again on the bike and I really want to push my suffer threshold and do some big climbs.

I never thought I’d look forward to suffering. Cycling is weird…

We’ve been looking at rentals in the East Bay as our current situation had become unstable, and it’s bizarre to see the diversity of neighborhoods/gentrification, especially in the Oakland/Emeryville area. For those of you that live in non-inflated parts of the country, know that we are looking at one-bedrooms to rent for monthly price tags of $1900-3500, with $2300 being about the median price. Ugh.

For comparison, Missoula, Montana has 2-bedroom apartments for $700. Why haven’t I moved yet? Oh, yeah, that pesky employment obstacle.

In today’s moment of dystopia, nearly 9,000 Americans will die of Covid19. Today. One day. And the current federal administration is attempting to cover up the reality that they dismantled every protective mechanism that could have prevented this since 2016. And yet Trump blames Obama for “bad tests” of Covid19. But, as per usual, it’s a bald-faced lie that Fox will run with.

Finally, many churches are defying common sense and community protection by encouraging their members to attend Palm Sunday services in person:

Fuck all of you.

I really have nothing more than that. If you’re willing to risk my life, and those of my loved-ones by defying a common-sense order, then I’ll dance on your grave when you get infected, but by god don’t infect the rest of us.

Darwin was on to something…

 

 

 


Day 19 (Whataboutism Edition)

I saw a Twitter post today ironically suggesting that perpetrators of “whataboutism” should be jailed. Hmmm…

I like living on the edge, so here goes my contribution:

What if...okay watch this Daily Show Compilation

Now, after viewing this, I submit that the content can be arguably treasonous. How you say?

Well, it’s pretty clear that this “news” channel played an inarguably gigantic role in delivering the election to Trump. Too, by recklessly and negligently spewing content that was demonstrably false regarding Covid19, they can be held liable for fomenting public opinion in a manner that diminished the real threat of the virus leading to a higher body count.

Look, I’m no attorney, and actual attorneys smarter than I are suggesting that Fox News can reasonably be held liable for their role in these pandemic deaths.

As a diehard defender of the First Amendment…I’m okay with that.

Here’s the deal: Fox “News,” in my humble opinion, has been the most pernicious factor, taken in total, of the downfall of our republic. The video linked to above is simply one of the most egregious examples.

Still with me?

So, if one accepts my notion that Fox constitutes an entity that could be arguably seen as treasonous (I happen to make this argument), I’d like to make the following “whatboutism” argument–

(Disclaimer: totally hypothetical scenario) What if certain members of the Joint Chiefs and former rational government officials recognized that the Trump Administration was, both de facto, and IN FACT, destroying our country from within. What if they recognized that the grifter-in-chief was the head of an international crime family, tied to our sworn enemy, Russia, and he miraculously won a second term (no doubt as illegal and ill-gotten as his first term). What if they recognized that the traditional constitutional checks and balances were also broken, that the will of the people was not exercised vis-a-vis a stolen election, and that allowing this criminal access to the controls of our government would result in the actual end of our republic as envisioned by the framers?

What if they staged a military coup and relinquished power to the Speaker of the House and allowed her to appoint a bipartisan Department of Justice, as well as leaders of the domestic and foreign intelligence services, only long enough to hold free and fair elections? All of course while the federal courts freely investigated the President without political interference. And allow me my final fantasy–they then instituted meaningful constitutional reforms, chiefly centering on campaign finance reforms and presidential powers.

Sound crazy? Sound treasonous?

This is something that I told friends in 2015 would happen if Trump was elected. I knew if this clown was put in the driver’s seat, we’d find ourselves in the crisis we quarantine in today.

But is the idea of a military coup that outrageous under those circumstances?

I sure as hell, 1) hope we don’t need to find out and, 2) hope it damn well happens if we do.

Now back to your regularly scheduled sheltering…


Day 18 (Melancholy Edition)

Since my cycling legs are slowly coming back I decided to ride to my old stomping grounds. I wanted to head out to Yerba Buena Island via the east span of the Bay Bridge.

As a student at Cal, this was my primary fitness ride–a 20-mile loop encompassing a bit of Emeryville Marina that was flat as a pancake. No big deal right?

Well for starters, we’ve moved. My previous starting/ending point for the ride was at sea level. We now live at about 1100 feet a.s.l. Great for the ride down, not so much for the ride home. In fact, this now 30-mile ride features a tortuous 9-11% grade for the last 2.5 miles of the ride. Again, painful but doable.

As I set out this morning, I realized I was retracing a good chunk of the same route I rode to school for 2.5 years. So that put a good-sized lump in my throat. Those years, I’ve often commented, are likely some the best years of my life. An amazing education at a world-class university. So lucky.

So there was that.

But then, as I jumped off my commute route and hit the Bay Trail along the actual east side of the San Francisco Bay, I was struck numb. This was the route I’d ridden countless times back when…life was normal. When all I had to worry about was my next paper, my next reading assignment, my next FAFSA application. Back when the world, in all its glory, was predictably screwed up.

Now, we find ourselves amidst a vicious deadly global pandemic that has upended life as we know it. No more classroom lectures or trips out to eat. As I put one foot in front of the other on the pedals today I suddenly ached for normal.

We are being hardened to a new normal that I fear will be usurped by opportunistic politicians for their own selfish ends. Hell, capitalism in the United States already essentially fits that definition now. But it was “our” normal. We were used to it.

Todays normal feels like a dry-run for end times. And yet…

It’s also an opportunity for those of us who have stood idly by and allowed our country to spiral into the inequitable and self-deluding shit-show we have become to roll up our sleeves and take meaningful action.

I believe we’re at a crossroads.  United States Navy Capt. Crozier has set an example for us. He has shown us the best of what this country can be in the midst of a deluge of corruption.

Will we follow his lead?


Day 17 (Da Fuq? Edition)

I refuse to watch these #MAGA campaign rallies masquerading as the Daily White House Corona Virus Task Force briefings, as they are clearly nothing more than an exercise in narcissistic masturbation. I typically get the Cliff Notes version from journalists I trust on Twitter.

Yesterday, in the midst of unprecedented carnage, Trump gleefully told the nation he was #1 on Facebook (He’s not, Obama retains a commanding lead).

But today was the day that makes me wonder if the end of the world isn’t closer at hand than we suspect. Soulless ghoul, Children of the Corn mannequin Jared Kushner addressed the nation during this time of crisis. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. If you can’t read into this the abject horror we are experiencing, there’s nothing I can do to educate you.

To further enhance my spiraling depression, in a perfect shot/chaser (Kushner) tandem, the Navy is relieving the Captain in command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt for complaining about the dire emergency vis-a-vis the Covid19 outbreak on his ship and the utter malfeasance the government is engaging in by not responding appropriately.

So let’s fire him. But lets PARDON and psychopathic war criminal who murders teenagers and then poses with the body. Yeah. Let’s be that country.

Fuck, I just can’t anymore.

I didn’t ride today as my legs are sore from three solid days of hard climbing and I’m planning a backbreaker tomorrow. I’m sure this isn’t helping my perspective of where we are collectively either.

On a personal note, I received the formal job offer I’ve been hinting at. If I don’t screw it up, I’ll be making the most money I’ve made in 17 years. It’s the ideal job for me as I pursue my real passion as a writer. That I’m blessed beyond belief is not in dispute. It’s just hard to remember that sometimes when I look outside the window.

Stay safe…


Day 15 (a day late), and Day 16 (a two-fer!)

I started this SIP journal 16 days ago when my local government issued a Shelter-in-Place order lasting until April 7. Yesterday, March 31, they extended the order until May 3.

Lovely…

Look, it’s ultimately the right thing to do and should have been done earlier. The Trump administration will be appropriately lambasted someday (Rep. Adam Schiff of CA is calling for a 9/11 type commission to investigate the federal response) for their negligent and inept response.

Here’s what I know. I’m out of work. I’m worried about where the money is going to come from for food and shelter. I have applied to the CA EDD but have no idea when or how much I’ll receive. I’ve been fortunate enough to receive another informal job offer, but until I sign on the dotted line, my anxiety remains. Even then, the old “last hired/first fired” adage remains in effect and in these uncertain economic times, I think we’re beyond the “sure thing” method of planning our futures. And that sucks.

Being a member of the recovery community has taught me to try to take life One Day at a Time and there’s no better time for that than now.

Here’s a Day 15 photo of me doing just that:

IMG_2789Life doesn’t get much better than this…

Day 16

Ok, so maybe I’m carrying this sleeping thing a bit too far. It’s 0930 and I had to pry myself out of bed. My girlfriend was kind enough to get up with the nagging animals at 0700 and feed them, leaving me to contemplate whether I could, in fact, justify spending the entire day in bed.

Ugh.

This is not how I want to live my life.

I need structure. That means, I need self-discipline, which I sorely lack. But I’m gonna do it anyway. As soon as I post this blog, it’s time to glove-up, mask-up and enter the trenches of the grocery store. After that, I’m going to attempt a cycling climb that has defeated me in better days.

All of this is to say, as usual, I’ve got a bunch of quality problems and am much better off than a lot of people. I complain about my decision to stay in my warm bed while other human beings are being sectioned off in quadrants on asphalt outside and told they’re fortunate to have those “beds.”

It’s all about perspective. But there’s no denying that our collective experience has been upended.

If nothing comes of this, it will be a goddamn tragedy. If nothing else, the theme of this SIP journal is a call to collective action. A call to overturn the paradigm and use these challenges to make meaningful change. Will it work?

A guy can ask…


Day 14: And so it goes…

Both the Federal government and local counties are extending the Shelter-in-Place order through the end of April.

To celebrate that news, my employer officially placed me on furlough. I’ve heard the term furlough before, mostly in the context of work furlough surrounding an arrest, so I looked it up. I wish I hadn’t.

My paycheck stops on April 1. The good news is that my employer will continue to fully fund my health insurance premiums through the end of May.

In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “life moves pretty fast,” so before I could fully mourn my loss of livelihood, I received an informal start date at my new employer. It’s not official until I sign the formal offer letter, so I’m keeping it under wraps, but once the letter is signed, I’m good to go with a pay rate significantly higher.

But wait, there’s more!!!

I contacted the director of the Creative Writing MFA program at the University of Montana who confirmed that I could defer my entry for a full year. This has a bunch of benefits for me, namely staying in my new position (in academia) for a year a well as potentially moving to Missoula early to establish residency. In addition to allowing me to apply again to more fully funded MFA programs next year.

Someone on Twitter mentioned that today is March 97th which, after this day, makes absolute sense.

Not only has the pandemic crippled reasonable planning, it’s apparently required a new level of adaptability in the era of the virus.

Disclaimer: All of the above reflects my avowed privilege. I’m whining about quality problems. I have food, shelter, and a couple cats and a dog. I’ve got a job offer on the horizon and an exciting Masters program to look forward to.

I’m acutely aware that many, many people are righteously suffering right now.  I’m not meaning to minimize that in this space, but reflect my experience during these dystopian times. I’ve been through enough pretty bad stuff in my life to know the stress I’m feeling right now is a blessing.

My heartfelt thoughts go out to those truly struggling right now.

Let’s not forget those folks way less fortunate than us right now.

 


Day 13 (Day 14 if you’re on an elevator)

Ah. What a time to be alive! The President today accused the front-line healthcare heroes of “hoarding” ventilators and implied they were selling masks for profits.

Yep.

The same healthcare workers dying to save the lives of American’s infected by a virus that could have been significantly dampened had this same President initiated even a modicum of ethics and responsibility.

Are we MAGA yet?

The shelter-in-place order is constructing a new reality and dynamic for millions of people. Scholars a lot smarter than me will someday study us and I would be fascinated to see the effects of this cultural shift. My girlfriend and I are ready to kill each other/break-up/make-up/have a breakthrough, or any number of other scenarios created when two people are forced into a confined space.

The Feds announced the quarantine recommendations will last at least through the end of April. My company is essentially paying me less than half my regular wages. I’m in the midst of trying to navigate my state unemployment options and being audited by the IRS would seem to be less complex. Cash flow is dwindling and the panic button is getting ever closer.

Oh, but wait. I’ll be receiving a $1200 check signed by Dear Leader sometime in the next three weeks or so. That should resolve all my financial issues. Idiot.

Lots of plans, both short-term and long-term are being negatively affected by this shelter-in-place for myself and millions of others. It’s become impossible to plan, and for a control freak such as myself, it adds yet another pungent layer of anxiety to my daily routine.

The good news is the two days of rain we experienced this weekend is over and I’ll be back out on the roads tomorrow, soaking up some sorely needed emotional relief on two-wheels.

Thank god for cycling. It’s getting me through this with a shred of dignity.


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