Maybe you’ll see one of your favorite writers here. It should at least make you smile and it’s for a good cause.
Maybe you’ll see one of your favorite writers here. It should at least make you smile and it’s for a good cause.
I’ve been walking almost every day, weather permitting, for close to twenty years. I have two routes. One takes me to the park, where there are a couple of different paths to follow and one takes me through the neighborhoods around here. During the past few months I’ve stayed away from the park; there’s just too many people walking too close together. I usually walk the same route through the neighborhoods, occasionally taking some side roads, but every once in a while I reverse my route. That’s where it begins to get interesting.
When I walk my regular route, I see the same homes in the same way every day. Nothing much changes. However, when I reverse direction, I pass the same homes I always do but I see them differently. I’m walking from a different angle, have different views and I begin to see things I never saw or noticed before. My perspective changes simply by reversing course. I see the other side of homes. Strange the way that works.
I think life is like that sometimes. Many of us go through our daily lives in the same way each day; the same routines each morning, the same route to work, the same opinion of people or social issues or what’s going on in the world around us. We sometimes go through our lives robotically, never glancing one way or the other, believing what we think we know, always focused on what’s in front of us and where we have to be.
We never find, or seem to have the time, to reverse our course, and yet, it’s so easy to do.
But what if we did? What if we took a step back or sideways on occasion and tried to see things differently. There’s beauty, and a changing perspective, in a different path though our daily lives. Our destination can be the same but our direction or how we get there might be different. Who knows, maybe even a slight change in direction can alter our destination or thoughts and allow us to find out something special about ourselves or others.
Life is funny like that.
I consider myself a pretty patient person who doesn’t get angry often. In fact, the one or two things that really get under my skin relate to matters of disrespect. It’s been a pet peeve of mine for as long as I can remember and the one thing that will cause me to say something I should probably keep to myself. But sometimes, that’s just not possible.
I have tried not to watch the news very much, as it relates to the coronavirus and believe little of what I might read on social media. Everyone seems to have their own agenda, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Facts are distorted or adjusted to meet individual agendas or platforms and what should be a coming together for the greater good of everyone has deteriorated into politics at its worst. It was disheartening a couple of months ago. I don’t know what word I can use to describe it today.
But I’m getting real angry, and that’s a place I rarely allow myself to go. It’s even more rare when I stay there. In fact, I’ve stayed away from writing anything on here because I didn’t want to write about the virus or have it come off as a political statement. I’m pretty much sick of seeing or hearing about it every day. But I originally created this blog to be able to express what I felt regardless of what anyone else thinks. So why not throw down some thoughts. People can always hit the delete button.
Here in New Jersey and in neighboring New York, we’ve been pretty much locked down for almost four months. For the most part, people here have done what was asked and the numbers reflect their efforts. In the last two weeks, things have begun to slowly open up and when they did there were two or three instances where bars/restaurants didn’t follow specific guidelines relating to crowds so the governor, seeing what happened in other states, pulled back anticipated openings. I have no problem with that except the greater majority was, once again, penalized for the stupidity and irresponsibility of idiots. An example of disrespect.
As I was sitting home all this time, I’ve had to read or view reports of people around the country who were upset because they were shut down for five minutes. People who refuse to simply wear a mask because they feel it infringes on their rights. People attending indoor rallies without masks to cheer for, encourage and stroke the ego of their leader, who, naturally also refuses to wear a mask. I’ve had to listen to state and local politicians who act like lemmings and play follow the leader, choosing to ignore the experts, data, stories of those who became sick and agony of the families who couldn’t be with their loved ones when the died fighting for breath. I’ve watched large groups of people, old enough to know better, play Russian roulette with their lives, just for a few drinks and a night out. But when your supposed leaders set the wrong example this type of behavior is inevitable. An example of disrespect.
There was a story the other day explaining how students in Alabama were having Covid parties. Apparently at least one person in attendance had to knowingly be infected. When other guests arrived money would be placed into a pot and whomever got the virus first after attending the party, won the money. I didn’t wan to believe that people could be that stupid but authorities in Alabama have not yet refuted the story and in fact confirmed that some young people have confirmed the reports.
Yesterday I watched a video from Diamond Lake in Michigan of a large group of young people dancing close together in the water without masks on. The comment attached to it was written by Michael Stets, who said, “We had our chance as a country to get things under control., but ultimately, we were destined to fail. And that’s because the country is filled with reckless people who care about no one but themselves.” Disrespect.
It’s depressing to think that way, isn’t it? Depressing to think that, after all the images we’ve seen of bodies stacked up inside refrigerator trailers, overcrowded hospital wards, pleads from health care workers, warnings from families who have lost so much and advice from some of the best minds in the country, we find that the simple task of wearing a face mask, keeping your distance and following specific guidelines for the welfare of everyone is too much to ask. Disrespect.
Instead, leaders decided to open it all up because five minutes of inconvenience was too much to ask. Let’s ignore the deaths. That’s a small price to pay for a haircut, massage, spay tan or a meal that couldn’t be made at home. What’s a few more deaths when you can pack into a club to drink with your friends or go to the gym or grab a movie instead of watching one at home. The leaders will tell you they’re doing it for the business but let’s not kid ourselves, they’re doing it for the vote. Lives be damned. Four or six more years is what’s most important followed by money, depending on what side of the equation you’re on. Disrespect
I’m afraid it’s too late now. If we had a leader who led by example, if we came together as a country four months ago and decided that, collectively, we would all do the right thing and sacrifice the materialistic things in life so we can all have a life, then we wouldn’t be where we are today. Disrespect.
I’d like to believe in a different outcome but it’s getting harder to get there. I’m reminded of the of words of Samuel Jackson in the movie Pulp Fiction. “I’m trying Ringo. I’m tying real hard to be the Shepherd.”
Unfortunately for all of us, a large segment of the flock is headed in a different direction.
I’ve never reposted something on here that I’ve previously written. I never thought it was necessary. Personal preference. I like to keep moving forward. But my feelings the last few days have been all over the place. I can’t get the image of a police officer kneeling on the neck of someone who is cuffed and restrained while he begs to breathe and not understanding that he was killing him in broad daylight in front of those who were there. I hear George Floyd’s words and I honest to God don’t know how to reconcile or understand what happened. I hope I never do.
So that I’m clear, this is not an indictment of all police officers. The vast majority try their very best. They have seen things and have the type of job I don’t want and can’t imagine. This is about all of us. This is about racism.
I wrote this in December of 2014.
Several years ago I went back to college when I was approaching fifty in order to finish what I had started decades before. It’s a long story that’s not relevant to this post but I was taking evening courses while continuing to work during the day. Needless to say, I was usually the oldest student in class. The university I attended was a state school about twenty minutes outside of New York City so the enrollment population was very diversified. When I took a course on Religions of the World, it was enlightening to hear from so many people speaking first hand about their beliefs and experiences. It made the course come to life for me.
I had been attending classes about three years when I took a course on Conflicts and Resolutions. Not exactly part of the English/Creative Writing curriculum, but an elective requirement. About three weeks into the fall semester, the professor had us turn our chairs into a circle so that we all faced each other. Then she asked each one of us to tell the rest of the class about someone in their lives they had an issue with and how, or if, they resolved the problem. About half way through the exercise we came to a young African-American woman who didn’t hesitate to share her feelings. With a pronounced edge to her voice she spoke nine words I’ll never forget , “I don’t like or trust middle age white men.” She didn’t look at me when she spoke and she didn’t have to. Everyone else did. I was the only one there who fit her description.
I can tell you it was an uncomfortable moment but I’m guessing you already figured that out. There were six or seven seconds that felt like several minutes where it seemed as if everyone stopped breathing. Or maybe it was just me. The professor, to her credit, didn’t ask the young woman to explain herself. She simply announced that we should take a break.
As everyone filed out of the classroom, I followed the young woman. I didn’t know what I was going to say as I approached her but I don’t like pink elephants so I knew I couldn’t go through the rest of the semester like that. When I caught up to her I asked if we could speak for a few minutes. She didn’t answer, she just tilted her head a bit and seemed to looked through me. Waiting. I didn’t ask her to explain why she said what she did or why she felt that way. I would never presume to understand her past and the discriminations I’m sure she witnessed first hand, but I had an idea. I asked her where she was from and when she didn’t answer, I told her the name of the city where I grew up. She didn’t say anything but her head straightened up and I could see in her eyes she was surprised. Maybe in her mind middle age white men in a dress shirt and pants don’t come from those type of places. I told her I was never a victim of racism or discrimination but that on several occasions I’d seen my mother and father held at gunpoint by black men who were robbing the small grocery store they owned, how I was threatened with a meat cleaver over a baseball field and pulled out of bed at night because of gunshots outside our first floor apartment window that had bars on them to keep people from trying to break in. Most times I was the only white kid at the playground basketball court but it never seemed to matter to me or the kids I was playing with at the time. We were all just looking for the same game. And I told her all of that meant nothing because I could still walk down the street that night and no one would cross to the other side of the road because they were afraid of me or be suspicious of me because of the color of my skin. I tried to explain that not every middle age white man is the same and that neither of us should assume to know each other without knowing each other. After a few moments she nodded, said “fair enough,” and walked back to class without another word. We had two or three very brief conversations the rest of that semester that didn’t last more than a minute or two. And when the final class ended we nodded to each other before walking out. I never ran into her again.
Racism is a difficult topic to discuss and I don’t pretend to have the answers or understand the complexities of this issue. History and emotions are not easily dismissed and discrimination is ever-present. I’ve always believed fear and ignorance play a large part in people’s perceptions of others. I’ve heard people say they’re not racist because they don’t see color. Of course they see color. We all do regardless of our race or ethnicity. We also see height and weight, hair style, glasses, looks, clothing, wealth, color and nationality in the moment someone walks in the door. If anyone tells you differently they’re not being honest. It’s human nature. We make initial evaluations based on what we see, to believe otherwise would be naive. However it’s the decisions we make following those evaluations that decide who we are and what we believe.
Racism and discrimination are a toxic complexity. We need to have a serious discussion about race in this country and we need to do it honestly, directly and with respect for everyone’s position and opinion. I realize that human nature may never allow us to eliminate racism, but we can make it better. The truth is, there are too many people on both sides of the issue who will not forget, refuse to forgive and only see what they choose. Complicated issues don’t have simple solutions and there is never one reason or one answer. But we have to start somewhere. We have to believe that even the most wounded will meet us halfway. Sometimes a simple conversation is a beginning. Sometimes that’s all you need.
Just a few random thoughts/questions that may or may not be tied into each other. I’m not really sure these days.
Full disclosure, I’m not a big fast food person. By fast food I mean, Mcdonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, etc. If any of my grandchildren want to stop there, I’ll pick at some fries but I stay away from what the Tiger King crowd considers edible. By the way, I’m not a food snob by any means. I prefer casual rather than fancy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some standards. Though some may say I don’t have many. But who listens to them anyway.
Now apparently Chick-fil-A has a serious groupie following. So one day after seeing a movie with two of our grandchildren, they asked if we could stop at CFA for lunch and we thought, why not. We’ll give it a try. Bottom line, I don’t get the fascination. It’s fast food fried chicken. Put in on a bun or lay it on a plate, it’s average at best. But I’m not here to judge, only to tell you about a sighting.
About nine months ago a CFA opened about fifteen minutes from us. The crazy thing is, every time I pass it, without fail, there is a serious double line of cars waiting to go through the drive thru. By serious, I mean 30-40, complete with security and orange cones helping cars weave through a large strip mall parking lot.
And then this past weekend happened.
I drove past there at 3:15 on Saturday and there were 64 cars on line. On my way back home, at 4:45, there were 97 cars on line. 97! How do I know? Because I stopped and counted both times. Don’t judge. Like most people I have lots of time on my hands these days and my numbers had to be accurate for this post. You see, I do have some standards. Besides, I was curious as hell and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
Now I don’t know how long it takes to fill an order but even if, by some miracle, they can push a car through each minute, people will still be waiting an hour and half for fast food fried chicken. Do the math for two minutes, or three.
Come on now. Am I missing something?
On a normal day, the local channels around here provide traffic reports each morning, afternoon and evening. But these are not normal times, So for the life of me, I don’t understand why these people are still coming on each day to provide an updated report on nothing. NOTHING. All the roads are green and have been for weeks. There is no traffic to be found anywhere. We live 45-50 minutes outside of NYC. East bound traffic is usually a mess during morning rush, and west bound in the evenings. Not these days. Once in a while I can see excitement in the eyes of these traffic reporters when there is a road construction project to report. But it doesn’t matter because the maps are still green. Even closing two of three lanes on the busiest stretches of Route 80 during rush hours won’t create a problem these days. Why? BECAUSE NOBODY IS DRIVING ANYWHERE.
I often get junk mail in my in box. When I hit the unsubscribe button to get taken off the list I sometimes get a message that says I’ve been unsubscribed and they’re sorry to see me go. But more times than not, I get asked to enter my email address. Why? Don’t they already have it? If I’m unsubscribing from the email address they sent mail to, why can’t they just do what others do, say thank you and move on. Why does it have to be annoying? I don’t understand.
Taneytown, Maryand is a city of less than 7K people about 40 miles outside of Baltimore. A few days ago the local police apparently had to issue final warnings to residents who were going out to get their mail without pants on. Now I don’t know what that means and the stories I read didn’t elaborate. Did these people have under garments on or were they buck naked? Because that’s a big gap in the story. (no pun intended). If there’s anyone out there from Tanytown feel free to respond.
Imagine if the name of the city was Tinytown. That opens up a whole new set of jokes. Thank goodness for vowels.
I’ve heard so many people say that they can’t wait for this self quarantine to be over, but no one has mentioned what they plan on doing when it is. So my question is….
What’s the first thing you’re going to do when this cloud is lifted? Where’s the first place you plan on going? If it’s a restaurant, which one? If it’s a location, where? If it’s going to see a person, who?
Stay in and stay well!
Remembrance Day July 15 2045
A man about 70 years old is sitting in a backyard chatting with his eight year old granddaughter as their family is preparing for other family members to arrive.
Grandpa, did we celebrate Remembrance Day when you were my age?
No, not when I was your age. I was closer to your mom and dad’s age. This day has only been a national holiday for a little over twenty years, w,ell before you were born.
Mom and Dad say we get together because of a bad virus that spread all over the world and we remember so we don’t forget. Why do we want to remember a virus that got lots of people sick?
Well, it’s not so much the virus we remember but those who were most affected by it. We remember the people who didn’t get better and the people who helped us get through that time.
You mean like doctors and nurses?
Yes, like doctors and nurses but so many more who risked their own health so that others would remain safe. People like first responders, police officers, firefighters, and those in the military. There were so many.
They’re always the heroes, right?
Yes, they are, but there were many other people who put their own health at risk so the rest of us could live our lives safely at home. Before that time, we never gave much thought to truck drivers or people who worked in food stores as heroes, but those drivers transported food to the stores, even though it was risky. And the people who worked at those stores showed up everyday so that the rest of us were able to purchase food.
Teachers made sure their students continued to learn, people who worked in pharmacies made sure people continued to get their medicine, restaurants stayed open so that some people could order food if they couldn’t get to the grocery stores. Maintenance people made sure the hospitals stayed clean and those who worked in banks kept coming in so people could get money if they needed it. I’ve probably not mentioned nearly as many heroes as there were during that time.
So that’s what today is about?
Partly, yes. We want to remember all those who lost someone and we want to give thanks to those who helped us get through that period of time. We don’t ever want to forget any of them.
Do all countries celebrate this day?
Well, a few other countries remember this pandemic in their own way, but they don’t call it Remembrance Day since that name means something different for other countries.
Mom and Dad said things changed after the virus. Did they change a lot?
For many, yes. Others just went back to the same routine and the life they lived before this happened.
What kind of things changed?
Well, you know we lost our way of life for a while; our freedom to go where we wanted when we wanted. To see and hug the people we love the most. You really don’t know how much you miss something until it’s been taken away from you. Then you realize you miss it even more than you could have imagined.
People used to live very busy lives. Many families never had dinner together, were pulled in different directions and missed family celebrations or birthdays, because of commitments they thought were important.
People really missed birthday parties and celebrations?
Sadly, yes. But a strange thing happened after this was over. Some people came to understand what was really important in life. That you can’t get some days back. There’s only one of them and when you miss it, it’s gone forever. Just like people. Unfortunately, some people learned that the hard way.
So people changed?
Like I said ,some did. But not all. You see, during that time you really couldn’t go anywhere and families were forced to spend a lot of time together. So instead of rushing around with other commitments, they went for walks, played games, ate together, talked a lot more, went for bike rides, read books, watched movies, cooked meals together and just hung out. They had time to make time for each other. Sometimes they got on each others nerves, but when it was over and they were able to do the things they did before, some realized they would miss what they had during the time they were forced to stay home. They decided they wanted more of their down time and less of the craziness they had before. So they changed the way they lived their lives. They made compromises and adjustments so they could have the best of both worlds. They realized it was easy to do if they just focused on what was most important to them.
But like I said, not everyone felt them same way.
Did our family change?
Eventually yes, but it took a little time, which was probably true of most people.
Mom and Dad said people who used to work in offices had to go in everyday. That must have been weird for kids. I couldn’t imagine not having mom or dad home almost everyday.
Well, it wasn’t weird before the virus. In fact, that was pretty standard. But two things happened. People realized they could work just as efficiently from home and be able to spend more time with their families. And companies realized if they allowed that to happen without it affecting their business their employees would be happier and they could cut down on the amount of office space they needed and save some money on rent in the process. So there was a compromise of sorts. Some people began working in the office one to three days a week on rotating shifts. Not all jobs could do that, of course, but quite a bit more than people realized just a few months earlier.
So the virus wasn’t all bad?
Well, for some it was terrible. Many people lost family members and some nurses and doctors had a tough time healing after what they experienced. But people also became kinder to one another. If you went for a walk during that time, people who were strangers would wave to you and ask if everyone was okay. If someone needed help, they received it. People sang, and danced, told jokes, made crazy videos and raised money for those who were less fortunate and needed support.
So to answer your question, there was some good that came out of something that was bad.
That happens a lot doesn’t it.
Yes, that happens a lot, if we pay attention and just look hard enough.
For several minutes, the little girl said nothing, looking past the people who started to arrive. Finally, she asked her grandfather if he thought a virus like that could ever happen again.
He hesitated before answering, putting his arm around her and holding her close.
It’s possible, I suppose, though we’re much better prepared in case it ever happens again. But if that period of time taught us anything, it was to live in the moment and not worry so much about tomorrow. And our moment is coming through the door as we speak. Your cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents are all here. How about we go remember and celebrate this day with them.
The little girl looked up at her grandfather and smiled. I think I’m going to give them all big hugs so they know how much I love them.
The grandfather pulled the little girl close, hugged her tightly and whispered softly in her ear.
I think that’s a great idea.
With everything going on out there, I needed to escape to a better time. So I started looking at some of the photos we took during our trip this past fall to Vermont and New Hampshire. For too many years this fall trip of colors has been on our bucket list. We were finally able to work it out this past year ad what we found was breathtaking. As with many beautiful spots, no picture can really describe or give justice to the beauty that surrounds you. It’s like a brilliant 360 degree canvas that follows you wherever you go.
We spent some time in the beautiful village of Woodstock, Vermont at a terrific Bed and Breakfast called the Blue Horse Inn. We ended with a few days in the quaint little village of Jackson, New Hampshire, exploring the surrounding towns and lakes while staying at the Wentworth Inn.
We’ve always been big fans of upper New England, spending a lot of time exploring the Maine coast along with the villages and towns of Vermont and New Hampshire. There’s something magical about these places; the people have always been friendly, and the food, well, what can I say.
But seeing it in the fall takes it to another level.
So if you have a few moments, (and who doesn’t these days), take a little trip with me to a better time. One we will all get to again very soon.
Enjoy and stay well!
P.S. I’m not a photographer so these were taken with only an iPhone; and I’ve enlarged them a bit here so the clarity may be off.
How can I forget a sampling of the food…:)
Bob from http://www.oldmainer.wordpress.com wrote about what we’ve all been going through and what the future may look like as we move forward. It’s one of the better things I’ve read recently. Since Bob, according to him, was born in the 30’s, he has seen and lived though a few things some of us haven’t. His insights, wisdom and humor are always a good and enjoyable read. As evidenced by these words, he is also a talented writer.
Another day gone, but who’s counting. Well, actually, I am. And you are too. Come on. Admit it. You are watching the edicts and, like riding in an elevator, watching our seclusion rise to another level. A couple of weeks is turning into another month, and who knows what will happen then.
We are all thinking ” I can’t wait for this to be over so we can return to normal”. Well, guess what. I don’t think there is a normal anymore. At least not the one we remember. The one we had a few weeks ago. Too much has happened. Too much has changed. Lives have been rearranged. Lifestyles have been altered. When this is over, and it will be, sometime, we will instinctively hold onto that which we have adapted to that has improved or favorably made a difference.
Every day we all see the doom and gloom…
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I’m not sure if you’ve heard this but even if you have it’s worth listening to their music and voices again. Such talent with these young people. Music has always been a greater healer.