Saturday, July 18, 2020

Morning Reports

3:30 a.m. Soft rumbles of thunder, inaudible when the AC clicks on.  It feels both comforting, yet slightly threatening, the danger in the distance, even as the plants perk up at the promise of rain.

I woke up very early this morning after having a different sort of anxiety dream.  My usual anxiety dreams haven't changed much--I still get the occasional dream that I'm enrolled in a class that I've forgotten all about until it's time for the final exam or that I lose my cool in front of a class of students.

In last night's dream, I had to be part of a photo shoot for my job, but it was at a different campus.  I couldn't figure out what to wear, and the outfit I finally decided on was at a different house.  I drove to get the clothes, and I realized it was later than I thought.  I couldn't find the house, and I didn't have a cell phone to call to let the other campus know I was running late.  I wondered why we would have a photo shoot at 8:30 at night.  I needed to pee, but I couldn't find a safe spot, and there's a pandemic, so most rest rooms are closed.

It doesn't take a trained psychologist to analyze that dream.

5:45 a.m.  The storms that rumbled in the distance for hours finally arrive.  The doors and windows rattle, and the street lights blink out, even though the electricity in my house stays on.  I turn on some battery operated lights (fairy lights in mason jars) just to be sure.

I've been thinking about the lives lost this week.  The COVID-19 deaths are hard to process:  of the 14 million (14 million!!!) confirmed cases worldwide, there have been 603,059 deaths--139,266 deaths in the U.S.  In an average flu year, we'd have 250,000-500,000 deaths, 36,000 of them in the U.S.  Does anyone still think that this new corona virus will be no worse than the flu?

I was sad about particular deaths this week.  Yesterday, I saw the news of the death of Christopher Dickey, son of James Dickey.  When we moved here in 1998, Chris Dickey had published his memoir, and he was all over the NPR network--and then I kept hearing his reporting from various difficult areas across the globe.  Plus, James Dickey was teaching at the University of South Carolina when I was there as a grad student, and while I never had him as a mentor, some of my friends did, and they spoke of him highly.  Chris Dickey was much too young to die, just 68.

How strange to lose 2 Civil Rights era icons in the same week.  Rev. C. T. Vivian died, as did the more famous John Lewis.  In some ways, their deaths are good deaths--they come at the end of long, productive lives, and the world is a better place because of them.  John Lewis was 80, which these days seems a bit young to die.

I am already seeing lots of John Lewis quotes.  Here's one of my favorites:  “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Do not become bitter or hostile. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. We will find a way to make a way out of no way.”

7:01 a.m.  The rain stops, but I'm not going out on my morning walk.  I'm enjoying a cozy morning with tea and toast made of homemade bread.  The sourdough starter sits on the counter, coming to room temperature before the Saturday baking.  I am reminded of rainy days in college, 6 mile run cancelled, George Winston on the stereo, General Foods International Coffee in my mug.

As is usual, it's been a long and strange week, a mix of surreal and wondrous and hard:

--I've gotten up close to a wonderful number of birds.  I watched geese call to each other across the lake, but based on their later behavior, they may have been claiming territory, not telling each other that they missed each other.  I see a white heron so often that it no longer flies away when I'm near.

--We started a new check in procedure at school; now everyone fills in a questionnaire to answer the CDC recommended questions about the presence of symptoms.  Now we have a stack of paper to show us who is on campus each day.  The stack of paper is a sober reminder of how much possible exposure we face.   As I've said before, I feel fairly safe, since I'm usually working alone in my office.

--I will have a Zoom meeting with my small group that's part of my certificate for spiritual direction program.  My Wednesday meeting with my Mepkin online journaling group was one of our best ever.  It's good to keep feeling connected, even as we can't be together in a physical space.

--I had to abort a planned Trader Joe's trip--I got there to find over 20 people standing in line, appropriately spaced, but still, there's nothing I want badly enough to wait in a line of 20 people deep outside in the Florida summer.

--There is talk of outdoor stadiums for some of the Republican National Convention.  Outdoor stadiums.  In Jacksonville.  In August.  Republicans have lost their minds.

--We've had a slow pool leak that this week sped up--we've been losing several inches of water overnight.  Wonder of wonders, I found a pool repair person who was able to come within 24 hours and fix the broken pipe.

--One afternoon, our group of boys on bicycles came to the school parking garage.  I love watching their fearless attempts to ride with the bike up on one wheel, even as I hold my breath in fear that they'll crack their heads open if they fall.   I always worry that someone will hit them; others worry that their cars will be damaged; others want to call the police to take trespassers away.  I went out to the parking deck and asked them to stay on one side where the parking spaces were empty.  They nodded, and one of them said, "Thanks for letting us stay here.  Most people would make us leave."  As I walked back inside, they all hollered, "Thank you.  You're the best."

--I've been trying to make at least 3 of my morning walks a bit more vigorous, whether by mixing in some periods of running/slow jogging or by going longer.  Earlier this week,

--I have declared that I will read for fun this week-end.  Last night I started Curtis Sittenfeld's Rodham--what a treat.  I also bought treats for the week-end:  coconut popsicles, Chex Mix, and fruit juice to mix with club soda.  I want to pretend like I'm on a plane with lots of reading time and periodic snacks.

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