A Letter

For those of you who’ve followed the Big Blue Mess since the beginning (you loyal two), you know/understand/recognize that my posts are merely letters. This is how I write. This is how I speak. And you’ve been around long enough that you are very familiar with this particular origin story – the tale of blame and of how two readers blossomed to 10 over a couple of decades. I’m truly an internet sensation! A voice for the ages! (And I promise you now that when we reach a dozen readers, we’ll do something big!!) Anyway, back to this letter before I completely surrender to this dozen reader pipe dream of mine.

I’m writing today, not because I have a story, but because I don’t. I don’t have some whimsical anecdote to share. I don’t have an interesting perspective or insight on the things happening around us. I just feel like checking-in. I feel like getting back to this blog’s roots – sending you a letter.

Anyway… let’s do this thing.

Hey, <this is the part where you picture your name right here – I’m talking to you>!

How are you?

You’ve probably noticed that there’s a lot going on (unless you live under a rock with a decent WiFi connection). We’re now more aware of how connected we all are – on a global scale, and it’s scary. I personally had only heard of Wuhan in recent years. Before then, it was never on my geographic radar, and now, now I can bring up “Wuhan” and have a roomful of people nod solemnly. Just an aside, I always thought it was further north than it is, but maps… am I right? I also thought it was smaller. My reasoning was: I’ve never heard of it, it’s not Singapore or Hong Kong; therefore, it must be small. My philosophy professor and math teachers would be so proud at how I apply logic. Anyway, never heard of it? It must be small. Eleven million people – I mean, does that even rate as even a town? Perhaps, it’s more a hamlet? Do we have “hamlets” anymore? We really need to bring back the hamlet!! Who’s with me? Grab the pitchfork, Bertha, we’re going to march on the square!

We’re now connected in ways that cause fist fights over toilet paper in grocery stores (did you see that video of the women fighting in Australia?? Also, a note to the friend of mine who just bought 100 rolls for two people and claimed it was a normal amount. Less fiber. Maybe a lot more cheese? I don’t mean to judge, but I don’t mind). And we’re also connected in ways where doctors and nurses around the globe are working tirelessly, sometimes in very stressful conditions with limited resources to get us back on track.

I’m reminded of a movie that came out in the early 90’s – an arguably great movie that didn’t get a ton of attention called The Power of One. (At least my memory tells me it was great. Of course, my memory once falsely told me Ladyhawke was fantastic – oh memory, you treacherous beast, how you sucker-punched me on that one.) Anyway, the story was empowering and its message was simple – all it takes is one person to make a profound difference. And right now, we’re reminded of that constantly – how one person, thousands of miles away, can make choices that impact thousands upon thousands of lives. How a doctor’s warnings can not only be dismissed, but that he could be ordered to stop and look where we are. I can spin this out as proof that one person, making one decision can quickly branch into a thousand poor decisions, and then I can reel that all back in and say, “and this is how one person choosing to stay inside has the power to influence the course of things in a positive way. I could end the thought by reemphasizing “the power of one” and throw up the graphic on a flattened curve. I don’t think you need me to do that. It’s preachy and a bit gross, and I’m not in a particularly preachy and gross mood at the moment.

Anyway, back to you. How are you? How are you fairing in this big, scary, uncertain world?

How am I? I’m fine. Nothing to really report. I wish Jay were here. He’d actually love that we were compelled to stay in, and we’d doubtlessly be mid some TV marathon where I’d end up crying uncle and saying, “ok, I can’t watch any more TV,” which would earn me a confused look. However, Jay’s not here, but hey, I have a cat. That’s cool. Cats are very loving.

I’m actually going to rant a bit. It’s my letter. It’s my one-sided conversation, so here we go. Let me preface by saying, I’ve spent too much time on social media, and it’s taking a toll. Anyway, here’s the rant: I’m tired of every time a person complains or expresses frustration over what is happening to them personally on social media, another person feels compelled to jump in and remind them that someone has it worse than they do. They clearly need perspective!! It’s true – it’s life – someone always has it worse – much, much worse, and someone always has it better – much, much better, but it does not negate the way a person feels. If a person feels trapped or isolated in their own home or community, it’s a real feeling. They likely know that they’re lucky to have a home to feel trapped in, or that they don’t have to worry about their financial situation. Posting it in bold fonts against colorful backgrounds makes me feel that the poster needs praise for being super socially aware. I mean, do whatever makes you feel awesome – you do you – just be aware there are no actual awards for “The Most Socially Aware.” There’s no such thing as a “Most Pandemically Woke” badge in adult scouts. Unless there is, and then my bad. I had no idea. Let me know what you need to complete your badge; I’m there for you. Also, how do I join adult scouts? Is there camping and margaritas in adult scouts? Also, on this random train that is careening to the “who knows where” next stop – you can get “to go” margaritas from Taco Cabana. Who knew?? It’s a Pandemic Miracle! Sorry, back to your regularly scheduled letter.

The thing is that it’s really ok for people to yearn to be at a concert, or at a movie, or walking to get tea with co-workers in the morning. It’s ok that they miss the human connection. By the same token, it’s ok that you need public praise for being the outspoken gatekeeper over people’s reactions to long-term confinement. You go, you Sentinel of Self-Righteousness. (I’m also aware of this small hypocrisy. Eh, it’s my letter. You write your own letter.) Them having the desire to be with other people doesn’t mean that they don’t get that people have lost jobs, that the economy is extremely strained, that some businesses may not reopen, that thousands are jobless. It doesn’t mean they’re unaware that there are people who do not have access to shelter, to food, to clean water, to a safe environment/haven. It doesn’t mean that they’re unaware that people are making tremendous sacrifices every single day, nor are they unaware that people are dying by the hundreds and thousands. That’s not what they’re saying. To be blunt and a bit crass: Them having a purely self-focused moment and expressing a desire of, “I want to go to the gym” is ok and doesn’t need you to hop in to remind them essentially, “stop your whining, people are dying.” Because people die EVERY SINGLE DAY in horrible, deplorable, and arguably unnecessary/preventable ways, and the only reason you’re excited about it in this instance, you largely disconnected, self-righteous asshat, is because you’ve been told to sit in your house for a few weeks and it’s directly impacting you. Don’t try to take the moral high ground when someone says, “I miss hanging out with my friends.” They can miss them. It’s ok. When this is all over, please feel free to take that same passion and volunteer or support organizations that help the most vulnerable, the most medically fragile – take a look at what is going on globally, and use your energy to make a difference – to fight intolerance, injustice, and make the world a better place. The power of one. Start a movement. Go crazy. Ease up on people saying they miss things or they feel stir-crazy.

I’m tired of infographics that prove the point that I need to be inside. When that graphic starts trending down, I’ll be delighted to look at them again. But after weeks of this – as we’ve moved from denial, to anger, to acceptance – combined with strongly worded messages of “see, stay inside” it genuinely makes me want to fire back with a, “YOU stay inside,” which is ridiculous and childish, but I’ve been locked up for a couple of weeks with very little human interaction, sooo…. Also, social media sites are largely echo chambers – people who think in similar ways to you – so yeah, they’ve seen/shared those graphs, they know to stay inside. Seeing multiple posts each day demanding that everyone “stay inside, people have it worse, look at this graphic showing people are dying and it’s quickly spreading to a community near you” doesn’t help. I get it. They get it. Turns out we have a basic education and access to news outlets.

All of that to say. I desperately need to disconnect from social media since it’s spinning me up like this. Although, it does still surprise and delight me, too. From people singing from their windows in Italy, to impromptu concerts from a balcony in Barcelona, and finally to a father and daughter team lip-syncing and dancing. Plus, you guys, there’s this amazing epic battle unfolding on my neighborhood’s Facebook group; it been pretty great for a while. How can I miss out on moments like those?

I recently saw a post where there was a challenge to do something creative. A brilliant idea! Unfortunately, I couldn’t get traction on my ideas, so well… I can blog? This made me wish there was someone in the house to do things with or not do things with – that there were choices. However, this does not make me wish for a phone call. I’m telling you, telemarketing really made me despise being on the phone for any reason, which is amazing, since in my day (high school), I was known for talking on the phone for eight hours straight. My Dad would bring me lunch and set it down on the floor next to me while I chattered away. Although, phone hate aside. I did have a great 2-3 hour conversation with a friend the other day which really cheered me up because it was such a normal conversation.

Y’know, this may be a terrible time to have a blog that solely relies on anecdotes. Story-wise, right now, I’m limited to:

  • Evil neighbor had on a face mask while watering the yard. Covid-19 is in the yard!! Ok, she may also have allergies, but in 13 years I’ve never seen her in a face mask in the yard, and allergens in our area have not seen a dramatic increase in the last month.
  • The other day, my cat softly pressed his forehead against mine after I ended a two-hour, unproductive help desk call and had typed “I have a gigantic headache” into the office IM. It was very sweet to have a floofy kitty head pressed against a less floofy human head.
  • A friend loaned me their rowing machine and asked if I knew how to use it, then insisted I demonstrate. I admit I was gobsmacked? bemused? I really thought I’d gone for a long stretch where I said,”rowing is my thing” every other sentence. Typical conversations: “Hey Beth, how was your weekend?” “I LIKE ROWING!!!!” “ohhh kayyyy… did you see any movies? Meet up with any friends?” “I LIKE ROWING A LOT!!!” “…” Apparently me responding to their request with, “I actually use this model at the gym. I have rowed a half marathon; it took nearly two hours. I can row for two hours” was not sufficiently convincing that I actually knew how to row. Thankfully, when compelled to demonstrate, I got my time down to 1:57/500m in three strokes. Thankfully part two, I got to stop there; I would have cratered quickly from there had they insisted on more proof. Although, I do have faith that my ego would have pushed me harder than usual.

I guess to wrap it all up, if there is a way to wrap it all up. Right now, I want to read, write, watch a good movie, paint, put together a puzzle, plan a party (June 6th, y’all). I want to go to the grocery store and shop full shelves at 6:30 am with the 10 other shoppers like we do on a weekend. I want to think of people as “people” and not “vectors.” I want a hug – a good hug. And I also want to disconnect from the news, turn off all the lights, sit in the darkness, play music and pull a blanket over my head. Although right now, at this very moment, I would kill to swim. And much less social media, as it’s currently, clearly irking me.

Also, I know this was a bit of a ranty post – blame the isolation, but I do want to take a moment and thank all of the essential workers, the men and women who are out there every single day putting themselves at risk to ensure people get the care they need (mentally and physically), who ensure we have access to our critical infrastructure needs. Thank you to our food workers, our delivery people, the grocery store staff, the gas station attendants, our truck drivers who deliver goods across the nation, to the city workers who make sure we have lights, water, gas, and electricity. You make a difference every single day – you are the unsung heroes who make it so that sometimes all we have to worry about is whether we have enough toilet paper.

Hope you’re doing well. Stay safe. Be kind.

8 thoughts on “A Letter

  1. SRA says:

    “I would kill to swim” 5 words I never would have thought from you missy xo 👍
    Signed self righteous asshat

    • Beth says:

      If it helps, you’re my very very favorite SRA! ❤ (The heart makes what I said 100% ok!!! 🙂 ) Also, your infographic was the most interesting I've seen, and I clicked all over that thing. It was new info!

  2. Great to hear from you. I think you rounded up why I’ve been staying away/ not reading many blogs/social media/any media. Got it down, get updates from the horses mouth ( not the rear like the media/politicans seems to) since we have family in the medical field and actually in the infectious diseases groups and I just don’t want any more – overload and will not subject myself to the poor me, the world is ending, the self righteous, the I’m so good/cool at this point. Pulling weeds in the back yard is preferable. The treadmill is back ( although RC’s attempt was probably misguided…now there’s a blog post) Swimming does sound heavenly – even tubing. We do walk the dog twice a day (without masks…there are a few seen now, more as time goes by) as this was designed as a walkable neighborhood with winding sidewalks – and the dog walkers who are trying to keep some sort of normalcy always stay at a distance…much to our dogs’ unhappiness…they are all going into doggy social deprivation. That is sad.
    It is what it is. People need to get a grip…although most have never had to before – or had to deal with delayed gratification or planning ahead.
    Hey! Pioneer spirit and all HAHA
    I know we’re stuck mostly inside, but the weird thing is that there seems to be even more to do now…stuff that always gets put off
    So the world’s on pause. Maybe a reboot will turn out to be a good thing. Change happens. (But if I never get to the mountains agin fo rTrail Ridge Drive or feel cool rushing water in the middle of the summer or feel that first put you own notice first cool front wind on my face, then I’ll get really cranky from the bunker HAHA
    Take care, kid
    No one will look out for you as well as you will yourself – dad always said that

    • Beth says:

      Hey there! That’s something I hadn’t thought about before – the social isolation of our pups. We’ve been calling our pets our captors, and joking about writing “tails” from captivity – told from their point of view and ours now that our work release privileges have been rescinded for a bit. My fluffy jailer keeps insisting on standing on me in the middle of meetings. He’s now on 5th nap, so I can more freely move about the house. I have repurposed zones within the house. I have: the office, the break room, the courtyard, the gym, and of course the cafeteria. The food actually isn’t so bad there and the coffee is great. Turns out, they know how to make exactly what I like although they never post their weekly menus ahead of time. 🙂

      There’s something to be said about the warm sun, and like you – I look forward to all the things I love again – all of those sensations. Yesterday, I was imagining that first moment when I sink into the water and I know it has me – and the smell of the gym, and the site of all of those people whose names I don’t know, but whom I respectfully nod to every morning at 5am – and there better be mountains and trees again. We’ll get there one day at a time without reading all of the craziness and well-meaning, but truly sometimes self-righteous reminders. And along the way, I will look forward to more tails from the realm. Thinking about you, and wishing you and yours all the best – the best sunshine, the best floofy cheek pats, and encouraging, “c’mon, let’s go for a walk” tap dances.

      Ok, off to make some “Wish You Were Here” postcards from the living room. Stay safe!! Big Texas hugs from my small metropolis to yours!

      • Made those “wish you were here” cards yet? HAHA. We’re all going to be the crazy wabbit shortly ( Some nice very old vintage films on – musicals…with swooping, swirling dances with Ginger and Fred. – somehow the old black and white films and old cartoons seem appropriate with this plague)
        Wondering how you were doing in this nuttiness of time just this morning. Take care and have a hoppy Easter – hop and bop and rock around the house. Grins not optional 🙂

      • Beth says:

        Hoppy Easter to you!!! We just received a ton of reminders last night to remain socially distant in light of Easter last night. Both my cell and home phone rang at the same time, so since they were both nearby, I picked both up and enjoyed the message in stereo.

        I had the BEST intentions (I’m sure the phrase is something about how the best intentions pave the way to even greater intentions or set you on a path to glory? Yes, yes, I’m sure that’s how it goes) ANYWAY – I meant to create those “Wish You Were Here” postcards from the couch, and then I decided that I needed a tripod to hold the camera/phone/both to properly stage the photo for maximum ridiculousness, and then it occurred to me I’d have to figure out how to set the camera/phone on a timer, and THEN I think I decided to take a nap as clearly too much thinking was happening. So, I find myself this weekend thinking: you should do that postcard thing, which is making me think of naps. It’s the whole “If you give a mouse a cookie” thing. I’ve also been looking at patterns for masks, then hopped down a mask rabbit hole that involved fabric weaves (I’m a bit sad that Joann fabric doesn’t have thread counts on their fabric, of course, I never thought about that pre-this particular rabbit hole), and whether making a mask that had two layers of interfacing OR fabric from a re-usable bag would be too hot – even though I like that you’ve got fused material which would make it more difficult for unwanted things to permeate. Which of course lead to Etsy, and now I’m back to: Is it too early for naps?

        We’re expecting big storms to hit this afternoon and the conditions are ripe for hail and possibly a tornado; that’s worrisome.

        How are things down your way?

        To borrow from you, who are always great with word play… Thanks for hopping by!

  3. I ran by and read a couple of days ago – but you know what, this new world seems al about multiplying the number of interruptions and hard to get a complete thought completed!
    I still think the postcards from he couch are a hoot!
    After a nap…no masks needed for naps…
    (This thing has to get over soon – masks are too darn hot around here – I feel like a drug cartel cartoon character!!!) Take care! Hasta later.

    • Beth says:

      I finally broke down and brought out the sewing machine and made my little mask. I put it on, and my glasses fogged up immediately. I’m glad I had some elastic, because when I went to look for it online I couldn’t find any – no elastic, no large ponytail holders. I figure if I need to make another one, I’m just going to have it tie in the back – may be in an obnoxiously large bow. Who knows?

      Hope this week is going well for you! I’m enjoying the cool weather. I’m going to miss it soon.

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