reverse threading

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“tired.” [merely-a-thought monday]

tired

bone-weary.

we just read/watched the new york times interactive article from may 24 called ‘an incalculable loss’.  tiny people on the screen of our laptop, nearly 100,000 lives were represented – deaths from march 8.  the visual is mind-boggling, staggering really.

100,000

bone-weary.

we paused at every descriptor on the screen for people who had died.  a man who loved to wear suspenders.  a woman who always smiled.  a composer.  a mother of six boys.  every one of them with lives and circles – concentric circles reaching out and out and out.

one hundred thousand

bone-weary.

of the excuses, the justifications.  the inadequacy.  the gross miscalculations.  the ignorance.  the comparisons to the flu, car accidents, natural attrition.  the opening-up push-for-the-purposes-of-an-election despite the fact that whole-cities-numbers of people (PEOPLE) are dying in short order.

a city of 100,000

bone-weary.  of the division, the based-on-nothing arguments, the dangerous political game-playing, the i-don’t-wanna-wear-a-mask-so-i-won’t whining, the inability of those “in charge” to focus, the heinous lack of regard for truth, the gross name-calling, disrespect and distraction from the president’s mouth, the dogged inaction of that same office to quell the spread, to actually even the playing ground for all and address the real issues, the zealousness of those who have his nationalistic vision in their rose-colored glasses of divisiveness, of inequity, of apathy.

goodmornings and goodnights

bone-weary.

these are lives.  people who never expected in march to not be here on memorial day to recognize and honor the fallen, those who actually have protected us.  oh, you say from-the-‘other-side’, that’s everyone – no one has any guarantees on life, you argue.  ahh.  but we can expect that we live in a place that has our best interests at heart.  that we live in a country that will do all that it can, with all of its armor of knowledge and research and its vast fortunes, to protect us all – every one of us – from something like this – a mere global pandemic.

i write to both My Girl and My Boy every night to say good night.  i have since the day they left for college.  that’s about 4,380 times for my daughter and 3,285 times for my son. i’m quite certain that they have rolled their eyes multiple times along the way.  but the idea that these 100,000 people no longer have the option of loving their child – or anyone they care about – with a nightly goodnight wish stuns and breaks my heart.  this could have been different.

100,000

bone-weary.

we passed the park down by the beach yesterday.  we passed by the marina.  we passed the irish pub.  we passed by the bar with wide open doors, people spilling out onto sidewalk seating.  we counted four masks.  in all those people, all those crowds, all that bustling humanity – up-close-and-personal-no-social-distancing – only four masks.  this is one of the very towns – kenosha, wisconsin – used as an example of a whole city wiped out to illustrate the number 100,000.  it makes me tired.

bone-weary.

“you keep thinking people are going to wake up, but they never do,” said a friend yesterday.

bone-weary.

tired and disheartened.  alive, wide-awake and pissed.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

read NY Times article AN INCALCULABLE LOSS

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we deserve better. [merely-a-thought monday]

we deserve better

“words matter,” my sweet momma would tell me, “things people say matter!” she was right, of course.  even back then.

so i did an experiment.  i deliberately straddled the ideological fence and listened.  and this is what i heard and saw:

“masks. eh, they’re a symbol of fear!” he spouted.(*1)  what?!

on reporting on his own viewing of a reporter at a protest on long island getting verbally attacked, he mouthed off, “it was pretty entertaining!” (*2) what?!

on the president haughtily announcing ‘we’re back!  with or without vaccines!’ she cheered,  “i was doing the fist pump there!” (*3) what?!

and then she needled, “democrats are favoring lockdowns over liberty!” (*4)  what?!

“libtards,” she wrote. (*5)  what?!

wow.

we were hiking and passed by a couple people on the other side of the trail.  moving into single file and off the path in an effort to avoid their non-single-file-ness, we heard, “i want to  keep people safe and this is a big deal, but….” she resisted.  (*6) but what?!

the wisconsin supreme court overturned the safer-at-home order and five minutes later the bars were crowded.  “i miss going out,” she whined to the news, maskless and inches away from the next person at the crowded not-a-mask-in-sight bar. (*7)  what?!

on america, he ruminated, “we don’t do critical thinking in this country.” (*8)

now there’s an understatement.

spouted.  mouthed off.  haughtily announced.  cheered.  needled.  ruminated.  whined. resisted.

he’s right.  we don’t do critical thinking in this country.  otherwise we would expect better.

we would expect a leader who is respectful and thoughtful, steeped in truth, who has an ounce of empathy and who recognizes that the divides in this country – economic, political, moral, prejudicial – are perilously close to chasm-esque, never to return to center.  a leader who sets an example.  a leader who wears a mask, just like the rest of us.  the centrifugal force is spinning out of control; the lack of careful, prudent and meticulous planning, the words from his mouth making us all teeter into the danger zones of no return, of never-be-the-same, of absolute division, of a dismal road ahead.  especially in matters of health.  in all matters of disease.

we would expect a country with a primary intention to attend to the most basic of needs for its populace (think maslow’s hierarchy):  physiological needs.  health.

we would expect the encouragement of the coming-together of people instead of the touting of ripping-apart division.  extremism, headstrong nationalism –  in the name of patriotism (def:  devotion to and rigorous support of one’s country) doesn’t consider the equality of all people and their fundamental rights and needs.  ie:  health.

we would expect that people will – in their willingness to acknowledge that their every behavior will impact literally everyone around them, everyone they come into contact with –  sacrifice and rally around that which protects all, that which will help eradicate the invader, this pandemic.  efforts to protect the health and well-being of all.

we would expect to take advantage of the brilliant minds of scientists, doctors, researchers in order to responsibly get the country back on track.  for our health.

we would expect consistency in message, consistency in plan, consistency in dedication and commitment to the well-being of the people of this country, the people of the world.

we would expect that the weight of a person’s life is far more important than the weight of that person’s (or any person’s) bank account.  for as my poppo would say,  “you can’t take it with you!” and any money or stock or holding or real estate or hedge fund pales in comparison with, say, your own actual life.

we would expect more.

yes.

because we deserve more.

————

* and if you are curious about the quotes:  *1: rush limbaugh, *2: sean hannity, *3: laura ingraham, *4: laura ingraham, *5: someone i went to high school with, *6: a young woman on the des plaines river trail, an Illinois park with signs posted requesting single file trail-walking, *7: a woman interviewed at a wisconsin bar, *8: chris cuomo

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“agree to disagree.” a country of hats. [merely-a-thought monday]

agree to disagree

the contagion is not merely the virus, although that is more than enough for this tenuous world to handle.  the contagion is seeping into relationship, into communities, into cities and states.  it exhibits as an inability for people to have conversation about this pandemic.  it is a pestilence that hovers over the virtual aisle between us, waiting to swarm in locust fashion.  it is pervasive.  it is contention.

we took the helm of a performing arts center last year.  when we started, we sat with the board of directors at our first official board meeting and told them that, in all things, we would be wearing our ‘what’s best for TPAC?’ hats.  we would ask questions:  what is best for the whole?  what is best to move the organization in a progressive way?  what is best to open the organization’s heart to embrace ideas in an equitable way, in a forward-thinking way, in a way that will keep the organization safe from harm and pushing toward better health.  we have worn the ‘what’s best for TPAC?’ hats proudly, through thick and thin, for it is in the organization-as-a-whole that we are invested.  we haven’t always been popular, and in fact at times have been shunned in silence by this same board,  but we have stayed steady in our quest to keep the performing arts center and its needs central and not to get lost in self-serving contention that exhibits as peripheral arguments or sidelined motives.  the possibilities of grand health and as a wildly successful place artists wish to be are all within reach for TPAC; all personal agenda need be left at the door and the wooden stage of this beautiful performing arts center will be filled with creating, performing, reaching audiences of all manner, flourishing, as the mission statement tagline reads.

our country sits smack in the middle of a global pandemic that demands we put on our ‘what’s best for ALL of us?’ hats.  we are seeking health.  and, though we as a world have not garnered all the information about this specific covid-19 disease that we need, it seems that the brilliant scientists and doctors, epidemiologists, researchers and public health experts have asked an abundance of questions and given us some guidelines.  these guidelines, put in place and central, are not the stuff of popularity contests.  they are the stuff of those ‘what’s best?’ hats, the stuff of steady leadership, the stuff of keeping people safe from harm and pushing toward bettering health.  through thick and thin, and with sacrifice, it doesn’t seem too much to adhere to these guidelines as a means to an end.

but cavalier complaint, unrest and protest are rampant.  and contention ensues.  ‘we’ll have to agree to disagree’ we hear time and again.  i wonder what it is we are disagreeing on?  can we ask questions:  is it the wish for all people to be well?  is it cooperation with each other to that end?  is it communal responsibility?  is it adhering to recommended guidelines, among others: to stay home, maintain social distancing, wear a mask?  these are not difficult asks and have proven to be effective at flattening the curve of this disease, a disease whose myriad symptoms exhibit in so many ways, in which dying is devastatingly painful and lonely, and one is suffocated with the pansy words ‘agree to disagree’, tentacles of irony and shameful smugness killing any chance of conversation.  misinformation begets misinformation.  it encourages loud dissension, infighting, uprisings bearing arms, people basing decisions on erroneous reports; it misguides.  instead, misinformation guides people down paths of complacency, lazy inaction, self-serving-disregard-for-others the hat of choice.

we are living in a state of ‘agree to disagree’ and where has it gotten us?  agree to disagree.  at what cost?  over 1.1 million americans have already contracted this virus and over 65,000 have died.

is there a chance we could agree to agree?  can we ask questions:  that perhaps over 64,000 in two months is too many deaths?  that humanity – each of us – is not dispensable?  that we cannot move anything forward without health, without living and breathing people, including an economy of any value to humankind?

what’s really ‘best for ALL of us’?  can we ask questions:  in this country touting that it is helping each of us, might it be possible to actually help each of us, instead of the not-so-hidden inequity sorely apparent even in the structure of stimulus bills and tax packages? might it be possible to recognize that goading people into angry protest is not a responsible re-election campaign strategy? might it be possible that angrily and aggressively bearing automatic weapons in public venues is unacceptable?  might it be possible that bullying should not be seen as a substitute for incompetent leadership?   that division is not a cure; it will neither heal or stimulate.  division will further divide this indivisible-one-nation-under-God. “the ‘invisible enemy’, as the so-called leader of this country refers to coronavirus, is not the pandemic, but, rather, the malignancy in this current administration.  in this country of hats, can we please wear the ‘what’s best for ALL of us?’ hats?

the wooden stage waits ad nauseam for all of us to have conversation, to ask questions, to work together, to agree to agree;  it waits while we heal, while we ensure people can be well, while we take steps forward-thinking, while we leave personal agenda at the door, escape from the grasp of this viral pandemic and, maybe even more, from this corrupt nation-destructing contagion.

and then, bathed in a spotlight aimed at our ‘what’s best for ALL?’ hats, we will flourish.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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washed fruit and boggled minds. [flawed wednesday]

washed fruit

WRITTEN THE MORNING OF WISCONSIN’S PRIMARY ELECTION DAY – APRIL 7, 2020

“the court’s suggestion that the current situation is not ‘substantially different’ from an ‘ordinary election’ boggles the mind.” (justice ruth bader ginsburg)

i have lived in this state for over three decades now.  i have never been more disappointed or embarrassed.  or angry.

in the middle of washing every single piece of fruit and vegetable that enters this house, in the middle of disinfecting the mail and all packages, in the middle of mask-wearing and social distancing, in the middle of streaming or video-conferencing anything work-related, in the middle of a global pandemic that is eating away at people’s lives and threatens the lives of thousands more (if we could even somewhat accurately predict) this state’s officials  – wisconsin – has the gall, the audacity, the very blatant disregard of human life and human safety to continue to hold its primary election today, putting anyone at risk who goes to the very few open and staffed polls.  other options are confusing for people – drive-throughs, curbside – these make the assumption that voters have transportation and can go to one of the few places there are voting sites.  milwaukee, a city that usually has 180 polls, has 5 open today.  5.  for a population of half a million.  even if 50,000 people vote in those 5 places, that would mean 10,000 people a polling site, and yes – that is slightly higher than the recommended number of people present in one place at one time (10) during this PANDEMIC.  in one of the most self-serving moves of all time (although then we would have to ignore the skewed self-servingness of our previous governor) the republicans of this state (and i call them out because they ARE the ones who voted the postponement down) have decided that the people of wisconsin are dispensable.  with absentee ballots not even in all voters’ mailboxes, no opportunity to absentee vote later than today is being afforded.  the wisconsin populace is disenfranchised and it is despicable.  adding greater insult, the majority of the supreme court of the united states put its indelible signature on this atrocious decision.

i don’t even know what to say.  between the federal government’s response to this pandemic and the inbred infighting, the blatant aggression and ineptitude of the president, the pitting of the country’s states against each other (even reading that makes me nauseous), i feel grossly let down.  yes, justice ginsburg, it boggles my mind.  it undermines everything i thought this country was about.  it’s exhausting.  aren’t we all tired?

and where do we go from here? WISCONSIN, where do we go from here?  how will the coronavirus curve change now?  how will the inability of everyone voting play to the few who voted down the postponement?  don’t we already know?  do the leaders blocking a later date for this primary election really expect people to perilously exercise their fundamental right to vote yet not give a damn that people are putting their very lives at risk?  WHY ARE WE WASHING OUR FRUIT?

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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the biding of time. [two artists tuesday]

birch in winter

i’m writing this as i listen to the loud interruption of wind machines and a large lawnmower/mulcher behind our yard.  a family with many children (6 or maybe 7) is having their yard spring-cleaned up and it makes me nostalgic for the days we, as kids, as families, cleaned our own yards.

the feel of the rakes in our hands, the smell of leaves, the chill in the air and the anticipation of spring-on-its-way, the promise of hot chocolate.  the quiet.  i can hear the sound of the metal tines of the rake, many bent out of shape, as i attempted to make piles of leaves.  my dad would later clean up my messy attempts but in the meanwhile i knew i was helping.  i was outside and the sounds of birds-early-on-the-wing and rustling squirrels, the wind whispering high in the oaks of our yard, these were the sounds of march.

ahhh, the blowers and the large-engine machine just stopped for a moment and i took a deep breath before they started back up again.

in these days of unsettling and increasing isolation we are challenged to find ways to calm our souls.  recently we took a long walk on the frozen lake up north.  all around us nature was quietly waiting.  gracefully bending in the cold wind, birch trees wait.  grasses, browned from fall and a long winter, sway in pause.  all around us you could feel it; anticipation of what is to come and the quiet biding of time.

in between all the remotely-done work-of-the-day tasks, maybe later today we will take a walk.  we’ll put on our boots and drive to the woods.  we’ll feel our breathing even out as we step from little-baby-scion into a hushed space, a place of waiting.  we’ll likely walk in silence.

there’s so much noise around us these days.  angst and anger, concern and contention, rhetoric and reason, pomposity and push-back.

we have no choice but to wait.  to be respectful of each other, of the time it will take.  to do what we need to do in order to survive as best we can with as few dire repercussions as possible.  to be responsible and proactive.  to do the right thing and honor health and life in the none-too-steady heartbeat of the world.  to wait.  like the birch trees and the grasses on the edge of the lake, bowing to the wind and rising to the sun.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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two broken wrists. and the saga continues. [k.s. friday]

and the saga continues

bananas.  they were $.49 lb.  we picked up a bunch and walked to the register.  a moment later, with no question or drama, we paid our $1.17 and left.

the next step in my two-broken-wrists saga is occupational therapy.  not because we do everything with our hands.  not because we write with them and open doors with them.  not because we use them for our personal hygiene or because we cook with them.  not because we drive with them or dress with them or shake hands with them.  but because using my hands IS what i do.  the therapist asked me how long i have played the piano.  53 years.  it’s what i DO.  so getting my wrists back to pre-snowboard-fall is imperative to me.  there are no other options.

before we went to this first appointment i, responsibly, called our healthcare insurance company – the one we pay $29,000 a year to – the one with the slogan ” for the care you need at a price you can afford” – to check in about the coverage of OT.  i was told, after much menu-choosing, that i am limited to 20 visits and that the cost will be $50 per visit.  with the OT’s recommendation that my getting-these-wrists-back-trajectory would involve appointments twice a week, that would add $400 to the already-$2400/month in healthcare costs.  bracing.  impossible.

the OT office checked in with me to remind me of my appointment, coincidentally, just after i hung up with the insurance company.  i told them what i had just learned and they insisted i was wrong.  “no,” i was told, “we have never heard of molina charging ANYthing for a copay.”  I asked them to please double-check for me and they assured me they would and that they would apprise me at my appointment.

when i arrived, the receptionist checking me in told me that they had their 23-year-insurance-veteran in the office check and that there would be no copay.  i asked them to provide a written document to that effect so that if and when i was billed i would have recourse.  they assured me that they would triple-check and to stop back after my appointment.

at the end of my appointment with the therapist, the receptionist told me that “no, you don’t have to pay $50 per visit.  it’s actually worse.  instead, you have to pay 100% of all fees until your thousands-of-dollars-deductible is met.”  what?!!!!  now this is the third story i am hearing about the same service with the same provider and the same insurance company.  who am i to believe?

i stood there and literally cried in front of the receptionist in the middle of the waiting area.  you mean to tell me that our $29,000 a year doesn’t really cover much of anything???  this is blatantly wrong, grossly outrageous.

bernie sanders, if you have listened to him speak, has given a example of the perverted and pathetic healthcare in this country.  he speaks about a family who makes $60,000 a year and that this family must pay $12,000 for healthcare.  “that’s 20% of their gross income,” he bellows.  what i wish he would add is this next example:  consider a couple who makes say $65,000 a year (this is the magic healthcare cliff for two people and only $5000 more than the previous example).  that couple will pay anywhere between $24,000 and $29,000 for a policy that will still have high deductibles and yet (clearly) not actually have good coverage.  i want to jump on the bernie-bellowing-band-wagon and yell, “that’s 45% of that couple’s income!!!  what is wrong with that???? EVERYTHING!”  how is it that we can live in this country, the richest country in the world, and have the worst healthcare for our populace?  how is it right to set the populace up for financial disaster when they have to deal with the eventual health scare, injury, illness??  (on a side note, i won’t even beGIN to start talking about Covid-19, for i have nothing good to say about the administration’s handling, lack of information or truth, and unpreparedness for this pandemic that will truly test the resiliency of our country.)

when i could take a breath at the receptionist’s desk i asked, “what do these appointments cost?”  how much is my professionalism worth to me, i am thinking.  i earn my living playing the piano, i am thinking.  i have fifteen albums of piano music, i am thinking.  i am a pianist, i am thinking.  i just need care for my wrists so that i can do what i do, i am thinking.  at what cost, i am thinking.

but healthcare is not like bananas.  i was told, “we can’t answer that.  we don’t know.”  i beg your pardon???  “billing handles that.  and it’s different depending upon insurance plans and whether or not you have appropriate insurance.”  i beg your pardon???? “what if i just wanted to pay cash right now?” i ask.  “you can’t,” she says.  “we don’t know what it costs.”

i wonder if it would be more if i paid cash – after all, i’m not an overstuffed insurance company that has the capacity to deny portions of the billing or disallow costs or base payment on the coding used to describe my treatment, while at the same time accepting ridiculously high premiums from clients with the knowledge that the insurance offered is incomprehensibly lacking.

no.  i’m just a person who needs her hands.

we left, went to the store and bought more bananas.

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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“anger…” [merely-a-thought monday]

anger

“to everything turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” (pete seeger) this – this time – must be the time for anger. it’s bracing.  and it’s everywhere.  i have a hard time validating anger as a choice over a steadfast temperament, especially when it comes to leadership.  i have a hard time watching poisonous blaming where blame does not lie.  i have little to no patience for those who justify their angry words or actions with falsehoods or the power of their position.  i have no respect for those who point vindictively accusatory wagging fingers at people who are doing jobs for which they are qualified and to which they are committed. people are riled up and it’s not getting any better.

“anger is a selling point among many voters as it’s a proxy for passion and strength…” (nicole hemmer) it’s bracing.  if you happen to be among the millions of people who use social media you might find yourself astonished a time or two.  without remorse or regret, posts will wreak havoc on your fact-checking, source-seeking self.  the information posted is mind-boggling.  the anger clearly behind the posts is jaw-droppingly stunning.

but i suppose that’s the point.  in the absence of a calm, informed, articulate, well-meaning leader who is anchored to the core values of our country, not to mention the core values of human-kind, all hell is bound to break loose.  and it has.  our communities, our country, our world – all are observing as anger runs for president.  and now anyone who has been angry has a choice.

do you choose anger?  or are you mistaking that for passion?  do you choose anger?  or are you mistaking that for strength? for they are not the same.  dare to parse out the difference; dare to question the intention.

“to everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season…a time to gain, a time to lose…”  there is much to be lost.  starting with both the humility and pride of a country designed as an experiment of democracy, a melting-pot-welcoming all, a place of peace for its citizens, a land of the free and home of the brave that takes care of its inhabitants, be they women or men, creature or flora.

there is much to gain.  starting with both the humility and pride of a country that can favor inclusive equality and fairness over discrimination, intelligent decision-making over agenda-riddled punting, wholehearted responsibility over retribution-acts, unshakeable virtue over a lack of ethics, reassuring integrity over molten anger.

“to everything there is a season…”

vote

read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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