2020 – So far this year: a pandemic, a depression, and protests because black lives matter. What’s next?

(As all this happened, our president did nothing to help in any situation. He blamed whoever he could for his inaction on COVID. He pushed for the economy to return to normal when it wasn’tafe. When the riots happened, he used violent language that Twitter shadow banned. He also huddled in a bunker or used force to wend his way to a church that he never attended, but where he posed for pictures with a bible. And then he congratulated himself on everything. This is sadly not unexpected.)

The year started within the sphere of reasonableness:

Annoyingly at the beginning of February, I fell down our basement steps and broke a few toes one or two that I have found out that are non-healing – I am having surgery in a week (this is June).

About then, Grandma Donna passed peacefully – pretty much as planned. There was a mormon funeral in Shelley, Idaho where our family stayed at a super weird AirBnb that was under a silo and felt like it was under a silo because of its funky lay-out. The touching viewing and funeral went smoothly. A grandchild sang Lara’s theme from Dr. Zhivago, Donna’s favorite movie. I wrote this poem to commerate her memory:

“Find treasures…

For this house is glorious

Outside the garage are rusted buckets filled with rocks

That my husband now owns

There is a small set of stairs that lead to a screen door

Into a rectangular kitchen

With a small sink full of potato peels

With a stove loaded with boiling vegetables

There is soft water and hard water – although I still don’t know what that means

There are dilly bean bottles in the worn white cupboards and peaches

I would steal both if I could.

A table unfolded into a living room

With a soft orange and brown couch, an afgan?

And behind that a wall made up of shiny stones each with a story behind it

A bird clock watches the meal intently

I eat sweet potatoes and turkey

Children chatter and there is pie – pumpkin to be sure

Turn the corner and there are more children

A mosaic of them on a wall all of them all connected by the invisible threads.

My daughter is there, she wears lacy tights that I forgot she owned

Later I am in a room listening to game shows

Grandma sits in a recliner, fussing over a jewelry box

I organize earrings and straighten out a tangle of necklaces

There is one for my daughter that her Great Grandma beaded together

I am given earrings and I put them in a box, not to wear, but to treasure

I have other things that I’ve been given

Paper crocheted stockings, my name made out

Stuffed with a grandma’s mite

A tangerine quilt that I wore when I was sick

And most of all the sweetness of light blue eyes

And her kind, inclusive smile.”

Here is Grandma Donna’s obituary:

At that time, I started a cookbook reddit (r/CookBookLovers) (it was picked as a trending subreddit so I have more than 6K fellow cookbook lovers now (in June). I post a cookbook a day (yes, I have that many and other people post too. A month or so ago, redditors were posting their shelves of cookbooks. (shelfies). I think I definitely won the number of cookbooks owned – not sure if this is good or not. Maybe I should go on the Guiness Book of World Records.

Other things were just normal: Lydia went to school and practiced her three instruments. David worked at home with his boss Romaine and his Chinese co-workers. We went to dinner at Lars’ with Aunt Joan who I hadn’t seen for years. She was older, sweet and funny. We planned to do a St. Patrick dinner with her, but then…

BAM! Corona virus hit.

The whole thing was so fast that it was a blur. We were all ordered to stay at home. People, including me, started panic-buying cans, flour, and rice as vendors price-gouged. Toilet paper was relatively scarce and people made jokes about that, but still hurried to Costco to buy it up. Hand sanitizer disappeared and so did dish soap.

I panic bought some purple rice off Amazon which was being sold by a vendor who lived in Bountiful. He delivered the order by hand that night. It seemed a bit unreal, like everything else, but it turned out that the rice is really tasty. Lydia loves it.

We all self-isolated and stood 6 feet away from each other and washed our hands thoroughly making sure soap got between fingers. But there was still this feeling that any minute, someone might die and I might be at fault.

The virus exploded in New York City where most of the population are close to each other and need to use the crowded subway system. Hospitals filled up and there wasn’t enough equipment to help patients out. Kevin, who works at one of the hardest hit NY hospitals as a physical therapist, dealt with so many affected COVID patients that he was overwhelmed.

It’s been a journey to understand the virus – and we are still on that journey. At first, everyone was sure that people with breathing issues were the ones most at risk. But now it seems that older people with diabetes and obesity are most at risk. Now we are all wearing masks (well, some people are – others don’t take that seriously) although in the beginning it was not that clear that they were helpful – although now everyone thinks they are super helpful.

Then people are losing their jobs. As customers avoid restaurants, restaurants lay people off. The entire tourism market in Las Vegas and Californis screeched to a halt. Unemployement hit Great Depression levels (although it has improved some in June). The stock market plunged – although maybe not as badly as it should have.

The thing about Corona is the humming uncertainty that it brought. I woke up and then realize I wasn’t going out of the house. That not just my outsides – not just my insides – could snarl up. What would happen next? Some people in meat packing plants weren’t working so I bought meat and chicken and stuffed it into our freezer. I kept trying to predict what would happen next and prepare myself, but the more I did, the more I realized that I couldn’t stay ahead of COVID circumstances. That my lack of control – any control – over the Corona Virus was what it was. Maybe that was a life lesson about trying to control what I can’t. That I need to trust instead of act.

A few months into quarantine, George Floyd, a black man, was murdered. A horrible murder where an out-of-control policeman put his knee on his neck for over eight minutes until George lost consciousness and died. As he died, he called out “I can’t breathe.” He called out for his mom. Many people couldn’t watch the video of his death. I couldn’t, but irregardless of this, many Americans hearts broke for George Floyd and black people who experience the violence of racism every day.

Then came the protests. In a lot of cities, including Salt Lake, people felt the need to express their need for fairness To express the wrong-ness of racism. I wanted to march with the protestors but my gimpy foot prevented me from doing it. But I resolved to be more politically active. To do more to right the wrongs in politics and society – even if it wasn’t sure that there would be a direct impact. To avoid being someone who feels, but doesn’t do.

The protests for “Black Lives Matter” on top of corona virus lead to a sort of depression. I think it was a reaction to how flawed our society still is and how racist our leaders are. This fact was mixed up in the uncertainty of COVID (which attacks black people worse than white people.) How could we survive in such a damaged world.

Here are some words from Rev. Monica Dobbins of our Unitarian Church.

“We have a lot of work to do. We will not be able to begin in the same frame of mind we were in before this weekend. This is not going to be solved with the election in November. Everything has changed. Are you ready to change? Are you ready to start with yourself? I’m there with you.”

Here is another good take on the situation:

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of looting and vandalism around the “Black Lives Matter” protests. But at some level, even this is understandable, because of the huge division of the have and have-nots of this country. It is frustrating to see leaders golfing when a person is not sure how they will feed their kids.

David might protest tonight. And I support him. Much of the country supports him. And hopefully, this will lead to a change that embraces compassion, not fear. May I do what I can to make this happen.

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