the illusion of health

You know that nightmare
where you have to take a Calculus final
even though you didn’t realize you were signed up for Calculus,
and didn’t attend a single class?

I had something like that, last night …
except, appropriately, it was about face masks.

I was perusing earrings in cozy, dimly lit second-hand collectives in San Francisco. I’d just found a beautiful pair of enormous red, yellow, and green earrings when I looked up and realized:

There were dozens of people in my vicinity, and no one was wearing a face mask! Not even me!

Panicked, I dropped the earrings and fled.

Then, I’m sitting on a bus, as I did so many times in both childhood and law school. Continue reading “the illusion of health”

laughing, right here

Rache & I, these days

Many years ago,
before either of us become moms,

I dreamed my sister Rache and I
were leaders in a
human uprising
against brutal
space aliens

(both of us are
horror lovers, so:
this was not as out of left field
as it might sound).

Eventually,
in this dream,
there came a time
where Rache got really
sad and tired about the
kind of life that could be lived
in such a prolonged fight.

An ASNAC nerd scholar,
her my-dream self told me, “Deb,
if I can’t study Beowulf,
why am I even here?
I need you to
let me go.” Continue reading “laughing, right here”

on face masks & my sons’ future

In my neighborhood, more people roam without face masks than with them.

I don’t usually give this too much thought, but one encounter last weekend has lingered in my mind.

My kids and I were finishing a walk around the block. We were, for reasons described in my early April post “A bandana the right direction,” all wearing our face masks.

While my ten-year-old (Li’l D) and I were walking, my six-year-old (Littler J) was pedaling slowly on his hand-me-down Ninja Turtles bike. I saw a couple without facemasks approaching on the sidewalk. Remembering Littler rolling right into a neighbor who’d been standing still just a few days prior, I thought it unlikely he’d be able to skirt around moving targets. I nudged him into the street to enable the couple to pass. Continue reading “on face masks & my sons’ future”

extinguished

As a longtime professional contract negotiator,

and now-adult daughter of a profoundly impoverished, stigmatized single mom

who died because she feared the costs of U.S. doctor visits,

and newfound public health student,

I’ve been thinking a lot about

the word “deaths.”

A few times daily, I check the L.A. Times for its updates on measurable local COVID-19 impacts. I then check The Guardian for its broader US coverage.

Each time I close these pages, the word “deaths” lingers with me. I’m disturbed by how passive and neutral is the phrasing compared to the reality, which is that Continue reading “extinguished”

When I am done with words

Every weekday morning, I get dressed up for work. 

I’m not going to any office, right now. I’m not going anywhere where anyone but my husband and kids can see me.

A few weeks back, in “To walk through,” I wrote about the importance of boundaries as a many-trauma survivor in the era of COVID-19. For me, clothing is a boundary:

Dressing for work helps me distinguish between work and not-work time, when all these times are now spent at home. Continue reading “When I am done with words”

For old time’s sake

Yesterday morning, I sat in front of my computer waiting for more bad news to appear in my Twitter feed. Some part of me felt it was critical to remain constantly informed, regardless of my inability to actually do anything with most the news I’m reading.

Out of the blue, it dawned on me: This is not healthy behavior! So I stepped away from the computer with the twin intentions to (1) do something kinder to myself now and (2) check news only intermittently and briefly throughout the day.

But what was there to do?

My eyes landed on a couple of journals on a dining room curio cabinet. Continue reading “For old time’s sake”

Plenty

In about an hour, my kids will wrap up their second week of school-at-home. Their teachers are providing virtual instruction and managing schoolwork, so it’s not really homeschool. It’s just regular(ish) school, from a distance.

The first couple of days last week were challenging for one reason. While my littler one already knew exactly what to do and got to work doing it, my older one had heaps of work to navigate based only on an email or two. Fortunately, he’d found his footing by the end of the week. Continue reading “Plenty”

Dead Moms Can’t Care

My mom didn’t have to die, and she didn’t have to suffer so deeply for so long before she did.

I summed up her final years in a tweet yesterday: 

My mom suffered untreated, serious mental health issues for years before she succumbed to cancer treated too late. Why no treatment for either illness? Simple, in her own words: Literally living off other people’s garbage, she could never come close to affording the care.

I’d written about this at greater length in 2011, in a blog site since deleted.

In “Dead Moms Can’t Care,” I wrote some words that have been reverberating through my soul the last couple of days: “Think the cost of helping her through that minor infection is high? Imagine the costs of caring for her four motherless children.”

COVID-19 has gotten me thinking about all the moms (and dads) who, lacking appropriate governmental protections, must choose between potential exposure to illness or feeding and providing shelter for their children. Forced by economic realities to show up at work, they potentially risk their own longer term futures for short-term survival, yielding so many tragic losses–for them, for their children, and for the society that loses all their creative contributions that could have, in a more humane system, been.

In 2011, I thought my mom’s death was an unfortunate outlier, despite a nurse friend telling me how pissed off she was watching many of her poor patients traverse the exact trajectory to death my mom did. Continue reading “Dead Moms Can’t Care”