Gigging in the Time of Covid

A couple months ago I booked my first two gigs since the before times for this week. I booked them before the mask mandate was lifted and then brought back. The first was a wedding at a winery, and the second was a recording studio the next morning. I had never met any of the people I would be working with.

The whole drive to the wedding, I wondered if I had been stupid. Instead of being excited, I was worried. I had to stop and ask a construction guy at a gas station for directions and he looked at me like I was a Martian. I guess because I’m the only person on Earth who doesn’t use GPS or something? But he also thought it was weird that I was on my way to a winery at 7:30 PM. He said, “You’re going there so late?” Still looking at me like I was a Martian. None of his fucking business, but I smiled and said, “I’m playing at a wedding.”

I got a little of the old gig excitement when I drove up the winery entrance. The winery sat atop a hill with acres of open land around it. Its patios, strung with thousands of white lights, beckoned in the warm evening air and clear dusk sky. I parked, and it occurred to me that no one was ON the patios. I hadn’t bothered to ask whether the gig would be outdoors because 1. I’ve played enough gigs to know that the answers you get are right about 40% of the time and 2. Who the hell would have a wedding indoors at a gorgeous winery in August during a pandemic?

These people, that’s who. I met the band outside and watched the wedding party and guests dining in a big, beautiful room with its many big, beautiful doors shut. Part of me felt like I should back out, but I had committed! The guys had forgotten to bring my music, so I would be trying to make shit up to sound like part of a tight cover band horn section. How much was I going to contribute? Either the keyboard guy or the leader asked me if I was okay soloing, and I said yes. Hey, something to contribute! Well, at least I was going to prop open those fucking doors when I got in. Younger me wouldn’t have dared.

And at least I probably wouldn’t be spreading Covid to THEM. Until two weeks before, I hadn’t seen anyone indoors unmasked and very few outdoors unmasked. I was vaccinated. I had been so careful! In the week leading up to the gig, I had seen two people indoors, separately, unmasked. It had felt like a big risk, and yet so much less risky than what just about everyone else seems to be doing.

So I asked the friendly sax player to open the doors nearest us (luckily I was standing RIGHT by some) and asked a guest to open the doors opposite (no one complained, yay) and played the gig. Good band with great singers. There were no horn solos.

The next morning I got a text. One of the two people I had seen indoors without a mask the previous week had come down with symptoms the following day and tested positive for Covid. I looked up the CDC recommendations, which seemed to say I should quarantine. I texted the person I had the recording gig with and she was very nice and said I could come separately from everyone else after they were done, and I said I would get back to her. My friends insisted that schools were not having people quarantine if they were vaccinated and had no symptoms, so I called the Kaiser advice line and they confirmed this. I just had to mask. I still wanted to record after everyone else had left, so I went in the evening and walked masked through the room with all the (reeeaaally nice) sound stuff and the masked band leader and masked sound man and into my own room, where I played pretty well and felt like a real musician–a feeling I’ve missed so much.

The thing is, I feel like most people don’t get told they were exposed. In fact, the person didn’t even call to tell me they were exposed. They told me they had Covid and I asked when they’d started getting symptoms, and I looked up how long before symptoms you’re contagious. (About 48 hours btw.)

I don’t know, y’all. I feel like I was so much more careful than most people, and frankly I’m tired of it. 18 months of watching most people go out lot more than I’ve been doing. I feel like maybe all we can do is get vaccinated and hope for the best. I think we should mask indoors, and I don’t think the kids who are too young to get vaccinated should be in school. But mostly I feel tired and confused. I’m worrying so much about ONE event that no one else in the room seemed worried about. Were they quietly worried? Certainly the bride wasn’t or she wouldn’t have planned an indoor wedding. I don’t want to go overboard and just go crazy, but should I loosen up a bit? Should I take more gigs? Despite the worry, it sure felt good. I don’t know if I can explain how much I’ve missed it. Oh and a week after exposure, I still feel fine. Fingers crossed!

Goodbye, Genesis

Goodbye, Genesis. Goodbye, Woman only being created to keep man from being lonely. Goodbye, jokes about Eve falling to temptation and bringing Adam down with her. Goodbye, original sin. Goodbye, notion that being willing to sacrifice your child is noble. Goodbye, patriarchy.

Goodbye, Exodus. Goodbye to the notion of a chosen race and everyone else can suck it. Goodbye, God who hardens Pharoah’s heart and then kills a bunch of innocent firstborn sons.

Goodbye, Leviticus. I think this is where we get rules about capital punishment for adultery. I think this is where we condone slavery. Goodbye! I used to know for sure what book you were in, but I’m glad the memory is fading.

Goodbye, Numbers. Goodbye, continued patriarchy.

Goodbye, Deuteronomy. We don’t need to hear the rules again, thanks.

Goodbye, Joshua. You won a battle. I don’t give a shit.

Goodbye, Judges. I tried to tell people that Deborah was a judge because she was chosen to be a judge the usual way, but they continued to lie and say it was only because no good men were available. That’s nowhere in the Bible, but I give up. Bye.

Goodbye, Ruth. Too bad you didn’t get to tell your own weird story.

Goodbye, Samuels, Kings, and Chronicles. You’re somehow both violent and boring.

Goodbye, Ezra. Another story I’ve forgotten.

Goodbye, Nehemiah, everybody’s favorite way to pretend the Bible has a prescription for good leadership. It’s been fun!

Goodbye, Esther, everyone’s favorite way to pretend that women not having a choice in whom to marry is noble.

Goodbye, Job. It sucks that God killed off your wife and kids and everyone pretended it was okay because you got a new wife and kids.

Goodbye, Psalms. I used your words in many a song. They all sucked.

Goodbye, Proverbs. Your prosperity gospel verses don’t fit in with the rest of the Bible. Nice going. Goodbye, Proverbs 31 woman with your strong arms and financial smarts. Be free!

Goodbye, and fuck you, Ecclesiastes. Thanks for telling me that all the ways I might try to be happy won’t work anyway. Flowers, lovers, none of it. What gets us through life is trying to find out for ourselves. Flowers make me happy. Seriously, fuck you.

Goodbye, Song of Solomon. You tried.

Goodbye, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel. Seriously, I used to know all this. By the way, my heart is NOT wicked, Jeremiah.

Goodbye, Daniel. I studied you so hard. I wrote a song about you. I thought it was cool to jump into a furnace and of course I wouldn’t get burned. Suuuure, that happened.

Goodbye, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah. I really did know this stuff.

Goodbye, Jonah. I mean…

Goodbye, Micah. I wrote my first novel about your verse where sins are as far away as the ocean floor. It was preachy and immature. Go figure.

Goodbye, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. You are random dudes I’ve spent enough time poring over.

Goodbye, Matthew. This one stings. I wrote an entire Bible devotional based on your passage about seeking God’s kingdom. The birds don’t store food and yet God feeds them. Why do people starve, then? Goodbye, coming down on myself for worrying. Goodbye, excuse for not allowing divorce. Goodbye.

Goodbye, Mark. Nice try.

Goodbye, Luke. I led a Bible study based on you.

Goodbye, John. You came the closest to convincing me that God is love. You wrote beautifully about Jesus wanting unity among believers. Boy did they fail. Goodbye, old friend.

Goodbye, Acts. Goodbye men writing all of history.

Goodbye, Romans, and all of Paul’s epistles. Paul who somehow got his sexist, anti-gay, judgy words right there in the Bible next to Jesus. Fuck you, Paul. Fuck you and your single man advice that husbands should be the head of their wives. Fuck all the way off.

Goodbye, James, half brother of Jesus and you still didn’t get it until he was gone. Congrats, and keep your advice to yourself.

Goodbye, Peter. You’re funny, I gotta give that to you. But goodbye.

Bye again, John, you really kept trying.

Bye, Jude.

Bye, once again, John. Revelation was one step too far. But I studied it all. And as many times as I say goodbye, the damage is done.

Lost

Have you ever laughed maniacally, alone in your car? Last weekend was my first time outdoor dining since the start of the pandemic. My mom and sisters and I are fully vaccinated, and it was my mom’s 75th birthday. My sister made reservations at a restaurant in Larkspur, a rich town full of beautiful redwoods and fit cyclists. It’s almost an hour south of me, and I decided to be adventurous and research places I could hike in Larkspur before lunch.

I don’t like to use my GPS. I’m not sure why. I don’t have my phone location services turned on. I found a waterfall trail that probably wouldn’t have any water in May during a drought, and I took a glance at the directions. Up Madrone, right on Redwood, left on Oak.

I drove up Madrone trying to remember whether I’d heard that this was where the Star Wars Ewok scenes were filmed. Redwood was close and easy to find, but Oak started to wind up a narrow hill that seemed very difficult to evacuate from if there were a fire. To anyone who hasn’t lived in California these last four years, that might seem like a paranoid thought, but it’s not. Paranoid was when Oak kept winding higher and its name changed at a turn and I pulled over, my body tight from my tailbone to my eyelids.

No, I thought. I don’t want to get lost and be late to lunch.

I decided to go back and park on Madrone and just take a walk in the redwoody neighborhood with houses designed so perfectly you hardly notice they’re enormous. Before I got out of the car I checked the directions to the trailhead again, and the directions did indeed mention the street name change.

I felt silly for having turned around. Suddenly it seemed so absurd. I have hiked by myself in a place I didn’t know had mountain lions until one chuffed a warning at me. I have held my infant while I watched the World Trade Center collapse on TV. I have had men who admitted they were jealous of my musical talent never hire me for a gig or use me as a sub.

Talk about feeling lost.

I have had a pastor tell me not to let people question the church. I have tried to convince myself I was a lesbian because I played softball and trombone and stopped shaving, and let’s face it, because men. I have watched best friends surprise me with their inexcusable votes and had best friends believe a lie about me. I have had chronic itching that made me want to be dead and many years of not enough money for groceries. I have now been through a fucking pandemic. I have had salesmen talk to my husband when I was the one buying and talk to my pretty sister when I was the one buying or just plain ignore me when I was alone. A lot. Am I here? Where AM I? What IS this place?

I sat in my car on Madrone, looking at the map on my phone, where Oak Street changed to something else, and I laughed. I laughed like a mad woman whose laughter should turn to tears but she doesn’t have any left. Fear of getting lost two miles from town indeed. Fear of being physically lost indeed.

It was a lovely walk.

Shelter in Place Month 13: Why I Got the Vaccine

I have been talking up the vaccine since it was first available, but let me tell you something. I have a very real phobia of drug side effects. I didn’t use the pain meds they gave me after getting a wisdom tooth out. I refused anti nausea meds when I was pregnant until I ended up 104 pounds in literal starvation and the doctor said it was medicine or a feeding tube. I have happily taken antibiotics a few times but always spent that first day just waiting for a rare reaction that never happened. (I did get hives and switch kinds once.) I gave my kid every vaccine except HPV, but I still FIRMLY believe in vaccine choice. I argued against California’s new school vaccine law. I never get a flu shot.

But even though I’m scared of medications (not the needle, just the drug) the numbers were very clear. I have 5 Facebook friends who have had a friend or relative die of Covid. Over half a million Americans have died, and it’s not because of misdiagnosis. This thing is real, and to speak in Seinfeld terms, it’s spectacular. Even though, as some argue, it seems to have a 99% survival rate, one percent of my friends is a lot of people! And 30% of survivors have serious long term health problems! And the numbers could very well be worse with any variant that develops before we knock this thing out.

So the choice was clear to me. I was waiting my turn, but anxiously. I took notice of my older friends’ and essential worker friends’ reactions to their shots and kind of thought I would prefer the Pfizer if I had a choice. I wondered whether I’d wait until I did have a choice or just take the first available like everyone said. With no long term studies to analyze, I figured I’d just take the first.

As it turned out, a couple weeks before my “turn,” my best friend texted and said, “Get to ___ High School! They have leftover Pfizer and I just got one!”

I almost didn’t go because I didn’t know exactly where the high school was, and I figured by the time I looked it up and drove the 20 minutes I’d be too late. But Pfizer! And it was a Saturday so I didn’t have any students! So off I went. I can’t remember the last time I was so tense. I missed a turn. I told myself over and over that it was no big deal if I didn’t get one that day.

I was the first in line outside the high school gym, followed soon after by my BFF’s son. The organizers announced that it would be 45 minutes while they injected people with appointments, but I started to feel like this was actually going to happen. I was first in line! Such a surreal feeling. I chatted with my BFF’s husband and son and was so worked up I was thinking, “Is this how to have a conversation? Am I doing it right?”

Dozens of other people showed up, and when our time came, they ASKED FOR OUR AGES! Stress again! I was not one of the oldest, but I did eventually get called. My friend’s son did not.

As is often the case with me, I didn’t show my emotion in public. Why wasn’t I crying like I’d heard my friends did? I was so relieved and thankful. I DID profusely thank everyone working there. And as you can imagine, waiting my 15 minutes after the painless shot was the worst part. I sat at the bottom of the bleachers in case EMTs had to cart me and my rare reaction away.

But you know what? It was fine. I was achy and exhausted for a week, but I took one for the team, and I’ll be safer, too. I was worried the effects of the second would be worse, but they actually weren’t quite as bad. Just a little tired. Will there be long term bad effects? Unlikely, and Covid is VERY likely to have long term bad effects. I choose my medications and vaccines carefully, and for me the choice was clear.

You can do it. We can do it!

All or Nothing Girl (a short story based on a true story)

“You don’t ever want to get married?”

What was she even doing on this date? Disappointed as she was, at least Alex could relax about looking dainty as she ate her BLT.

Mick raised his freckled brow. “You do?”

“Definitely. I mean I have always liked you, but I don’t see a reason to date someone if I already know it’s not going to end in marriage.”

Mick chuckled. “All or nothing girl, eh?”

“I guess so.”

“Well, I guess we’ll just be friends. I had a nice time today anyway.”

To end the awkward moment, Alex excused herself to go to the bathroom. When she opened the door to the single vintage toilet room, a middle aged woman was just standing on the round mauve rug.

“Oh!” Alex backed out. “I’m sorry!”

“No, no, come in,” the woman said. She looked like she needed help. Alex balked. There were some crazy people downtown.

“Don’t be such a baby,” the woman said. “It’s me. It’s you. From thirty years in the future. Give or take.”

Alex knew this should make the woman seem even crazier, but she sounded, well, sound. Still. “Where’s our bike crash scar?”

The woman pulled her stretch pant leg above the knee, and there it was. Alex had already been pretty convinced by the unfortunate face.

“Oh my goodness. You don’t shave your legs? I stop shaving my legs?”

“Not important.”

“How did you get here?”

“Not important. We don’t have a lot of time. The important thing is that I got to choose one time to go back to, and this is it.”

“Why?”

“Because you are going to regret not letting yourself get a little more experience and find out who you are. No, Mick doesn’t want to get married, and yes he’s crazy to think that a beautiful eighteen year old would date a penniless musician ten years older than her, but geez, he’s nice. Just let yourself have a nice time with him. Go back to his place or something.”

“Are you kidding?”

“You know you want to.”

“Well, kind of, but God knows what’s best for me.”

Old Alex grimaced. “I really regret thinking that way.”

“Get thee behind me, Satan. I’m not living for me.”

Old Alex gave a pained smile. “Oh, honey. I know. You’re living for a bunch of men who lived over a thousand years ago. You’re living for the men who profit off them now.”

There was no way Alex would say this at any age. “This is crazy. How are you here?”

“I don’t even know, and I don’t know how long I have. Just please trust me. You won’t be happy like this.”

“I don’t think sleeping with Mick is going to change that.”

“It’s not the sleeping with Mick. It’s the letting yourself have a little freedom. Maybe it won’t be Mick, whatever, but he’s nice and, he doesn’t seem possessive, and you’ve known him for a couple years. And he has a genuine smile. I’d kind of forgotten.”

And with that word, Old Alex began to fade. She wasn’t so much transparent as muted. Her eyes welled with tears, and she mouthed, “I love you.” And then she was gone.

Alex forgot to pee. She sat back down across from Mick, who smiled genuinely, if a little forlornly.

She came out and said it. “Can I come over and see your house?”

“Really? The all or nothing girl?”

“It’s your lucky day.”

Mick’s smile broadened goofily and he said, “Check please,” to no one. A commotion behind him near the bookshelved wall distracted Alex. Old Alex was back, and this time she was waving frantically and dressed in a nun’s habit. When she saw that Alex recognized her, she pointed toward the bathroom.

“Would you excuse me again?” Alex asked.

“Everything okay?”

“Yeah, I think I may have dropped something in the bathroom.”

Alex hurriedly followed Nun Alex to the bathroom. “What on Earth?”

The other me gave you terrible advice,” she whispered. “You get to his house and right before, well, you know, he realizes he doesn’t have protection, but you do it anyway because, well you know you, and then he convinces you to get an abortion and you feel guilty and become a nun, but the guilt never totally goes away even though Jesus does take all our sin. This time I know how little time I have. I love you! Jesus loves you!”

Alex didn’t wait for Nun Alex to disappear. She walked back to the table and said, “Can we stop at the store on the way to your house?” So what if his tee shirt was ragged.

“Of course. Good idea.”

Old Alex, in regular clothes this time but somehow managing to look even more haggard than the first Old Alex, stared at her from a nearby table. Alex gestured at her to stay where she was. She didn’t want to alarm Mick with another trip to the bathroom.

“I’ll be right back. I see someone I know.”

Haggard Alex quickly faced away from Mick. When Alex slipped into the seat across from her, the old woman whispered, “I remember the other Alexes visiting, and I just want to tell you what happens this time. The condom doesn’t work, but you decide to keep the baby. Mick is no help. You drop out of college. It’s really hard. Your son is amazing, but you don’t always have a roof over your head. I have no advice. I just wanted you to know.”

Stunned, Alex walked back to Mick as Haggard Alex hurried out of the restaurant. How was she supposed to decide whether her amazing son was going to exist? She stared at the glossy, gnarled oak tabletop.

“Alex? Are you okay?”

Alex looked up at Mick and once again thought about getting him and his soft new tee shirt alone.

“Yeah. I just had a weird deja vu or something.”

She herself was wearing something nicer than she would have been if the fourth Old Alex hadn’t decided to visit a time much further back and solve the real problem, which wasn’t young Alex at all.

Shelter in Place: The One Year Mark

This won’t be a recap of the last 12 months. You can scroll through my past blogs for that. This is where we are now and how I feel now. Will my thoughts and feelings about a year of social distancing be wrapped up with a neat bow? We shall see.

The world has lost 2,630,000 people to Covid 19. The U.S. 530,000 of them. My county, Sonoma, 306 people. That’s not to mention the long term effects for many who have not died. For comparison, the U.S. usually loses 30,000 to 50,000 a year to the flu.

My husband got his first dose of Moderna last week (Thanks Dolly Parton!) and he felt fine afterward. It’s a huge relief that he got it, but I’m still furious with the parents who pushed schools to open next month regardless of whether teachers had gotten their shots. He’ll still bring a hundred band kids’ germs home to me and our daughter, who have been so careful for an entire year. I swear if we get Covid two months before we’re finally able to get the shot I’ll have an absolute shit fit.

I think I already reported that my 74-year-old parents got their first doses of the Moderna thanks to my on-the-ball friend finding an appointment for my mom and the VA calling my dad. Phew!

My predominant emotion right now is longing for my kid to be able to participate in her music major rehearsals and performances again. I miss gigging A LOT, but she’s just getting started, and college for music majors is so immersive and enriching.

But I have many emotions about many things. I’m grateful that my family has not lost the main part of its income and that we have been able to work from home. This has been less stressful for us than for many. For me personally, much as I’d rather be gigging and rather my kid get to go to school, not driving around like a chicken with its head cut off (and that can mysteriously somehow drive) has been sort of relaxing. Yes it’s healthier mentally to be able to visit friends, but a pause on driving around also has its restful benefits. Easy for me to say, being an introvert.

My new, more diverse city council just voted to ban the sales of fireworks which is another happy result of the November election. Most of the other cities in our county already had. $1400 federal stimulus checks should be coming soon (as well as millions to businesses and health services) and we plan to give a little to the local food bank, buy an area rug for the living room (we got much needed hardwood floors last year) and get our bathroom sink fixed. We’ve been washing our hands in the kitchen.

According to the CDC, as soon as my parents’ second shots reach their full effect, I can visit them even before I’m vaccinated! I will if they want me to but will also wait until I get mine if they want. I know that variants of the disease might cause us problems even after vaccines, but it is nice to pretend we’re going to get back to normal soon. In a related note, it’s nice to have a president who speaks like a normal person. And as I say on every social media post about legislation now, thank you Georgia. Thank you Stacey Abrams.

A year. Every day has so many thoughts and emotions about the pandemic, and yet when I look back and think “How do I feel about the year?” My brain stares back at me blankly. So many people died, but I got some rest and some extra time with my college kid and we were financially okay. I missed playing music with people, but at least my students stuck with me virtually. I didn’t see much of my sisters but I had less polluted skies to hike under. I got to see comet NEOWISE. My emotional lows were pretty darn low, I mean a fast hard plummet, but I think I was actually happy more regularly than before the pandemic. I got a new writing job but am in sort of a mental fog so it’s hard to focus on it. What a mishmash of thoughts and feelings! This blog only scratches the surface. Even if I could untangle some of my other thoughts there are some I couldn’t share because I don’t like to get too personal about other people.

There are lots of blogs about life and the pandemic and feelings and what we should do with our thoughts and feelings and lives, and for the most part I find them saccharine or overgeneralized and often something even the author looks back on later and says “Well I wrapped that up and put a neat bow on it but I don’t really agree with it anymore.”

So I have veered away from bows, much as physical bows seem to be in style among women celebrities right now and metaphorical bows are always in style. These thoughts and feelings aren’t even in a box, much less wrapped up. Thanks for reading my mishmash of thoughts this year. What are your mishmashed thoughts and feelings?

Stop Drinking.

If anyone in your life has ever asked you to stop drinking, just fucking do it. I don’t care if you’re addicted. I don’t care if you are a “Happy Drunk.” I don’t care if you think you deserve a beer once in a while. I don’t care if you think your wife (or your ex) is too hard on you. She’s not. If someone has ever asked you to stop drinking, you’re the problem. Just fucking stop. I have several of you on my facebook friends list who have complained about wives or exes, and I’ve seen your posts about alcohol. I may not have said it to you before, but I’m saying it now. It’s not her, it’s you.

All that to say that after an emotional couple days I got my night person ass up at 7 on a Saturday morning to avoid Covid germs at the grocery store, and with my weak little body pushing a ninety pound cart (so I don’t have to shop again soon) around the corner of the dairy aisle, I almost run my cart smack into the cart of a 6’6″ guy who was speeding carelessly and happily yelling greetings to the employees behind me.

“Whoops, sorry,” he said as my C section scar tore with the effort of stopping my 90 pound cart. I sort of ignored him and went to a checkout line. Soon after, he got in the line next to me, showing half his asscrack as he leaned to get the almost exclusively wine bottles out of his cart.

I’m sure he thinks he’s a happy drunk, and I’m sure he’s been asked to stop drinking. My C section scar will hurt for days. Just fucking stop.

Shelter in Place Month 11: Light at the End of the Tunnel

I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that when there finally seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, I would finally feel the feelings. I was just holding on tight doing what needed to be done, but yesterday when my best friend in the truest sense of the word texted “There’s an appointment tomorrow at Safeway!” I clicked her link, nabbed the appointment for my 74-year-old mom to get her first of two shots, and cried.

It was my second cry of the day, as I’d watched NASA’s Mars Rover Perseverance land earlier. The team leader’s short speech about all we can accomplish when we work together was inspiring (as Texas is suffering with no electricity during a rare snowstorm and people are ignoring mask rules), as were the cheers of the team and the handoff to the woman leading the team in charge of the Perseverance now that it has landed. The team looked so diverse!

Along with those two emotional moments yesterday, I had the added stress of knowing that I accidentally clicked that my mom was born in 1942 when she was actually born in 1946 and hoping they don’t turn her away because of it. She’s still over the age of 70, which is the minimum right now, so I hope it’s okay. The appointment is actually at this very minute. And I found out a friend my age (47) has Covid. She got it from her teenage son who got it from a friend. I’m so mad, you guys. She has been posting begging people to wear masks because several months ago her old friend, about our age too, died from Covid. My friend says it’s the weirdest kind of sick. I’m sure her son feels awful, even though he physically feels fine.

And that’s just one day! Every day has me angry on social media that people are pushing for schools to open because kids supposedly aren’t big spreaders. I beg your pardon, but new variants are appearing that show all signs of changing that fact, and I do not appreciate that people want my husband to be around 180 germy band kids before he gets vaccinated. Even if he DOES get vaccinated, he will bring the germs home to me, and I am at the VERY end of the vaccine list. I won’t get it til May at the earliest. Can’t you all just wait for one more semester?! If your kid is suffering mentally, break the guidelines if you must and give them a playdate. Don’t bring my family into it. (Although even that would increase the spread. Still it’s better than school.)

There have been 291 deaths in Sonoma County. We continue to be in the purple (worst) tier, although in California as a whole numbers are slowing down. We must continue to mask (even if we have gotten the vaccine) at least until everyone who wants the vaccine has gotten one. Yes, I’m a little scared of vaccine reactions, but I’m damn sure getting one.

My virtual trombone students are sounding great. I don’t know how long it will be before we can play together, but it’s going so much better than I thought it would. Kind of disappointed that I didn’t pick up any faraway students. That would have been neat. My content writing job for Jenny K. gift shop is going fine, too, although I need to make myself put more hours in. Learning to put the descriptions and meta data right into the back of the website was rewarding. I’m also starting to do some Facebook posts for them.

Here I am trying to write about the whole 11th month, and I can only remember the last two days. That’s how it is in shelter in place. Oh, for those of you who are loyal readers, Larry the Whale Guy got his first Covid shot. My daughter’s college choir is hoping to go to New York in a year. Is it okay to hope? I’m thinking about whether I’ll be able to get my momentum going again for the rock band I had just put together this time last year. One member moved to Nashville and another, the only man, basically quit full time music to become a plumber’s apprentice in his 40’s. Friends, he was making a living playing high end gigs. So rare and impressive. Poof. Gone.

I am an introvert, and I am lucky to have enough money right now and so lucky to have a beautiful climate to walk in and so lucky to say hi to my parents from a distance as I drop off groceries, but I can’t wait to go in their house and have a nice long visit!

The Limitless Meanings of Colors

A couple weeks ago my family was watching an animated movie, and there was a scene with a brilliant fuchsia background that, had I been alone, I would have paused and appreciated for a moment. That thought led me to wondering about color meditation. I had heard that Mike Peters from The Alarm had meditated on green while he was fighting cancer. Other than that, the only association I had was the wacky couple in A Mighty Wind. (Played by Jane Lynch and John Michael Higgins, if memory serves.)

Much to my surprise, when I googled, I learned that a color was associated with each of the chakras! I didn’t know anything about chakras, but now I know a little! I’m not here to pretend I can tell you about these energy points in the body–other sites can do that better. I just wanted to write about how freeing it was to think of colors with completely different moods and ideas associated with them than I’d ever heard before.

The first chakra (base of the spine if you’re wondering) goes with red, and when you meditate on it, are you meditating on anger, passion, or strength? No! Red is associated with security! This is the “root” chakra, so when you start meditating, this is your first thought. I exist. I am safe.” I love having that association! When I see red now, I remind myself “I have security.”

Moving up the body, orange is “I feel,” (sensuality), yellow is “I do,” (I’m capable and productive!) green is “I love,” blue is “I speak,” (I am free to speak and good at communicating my thoughts!) purple is “I see,” and violet, the “Crown chakra,” is “I understand.” Honestly my mind is sort of a blank on that one. I don’t feel like I understand much. It’s kind of the pinnacle of meditating, and I think it’s interesting that that’s the color that made me look up color meditation in the first place.

No more sad blue. No more envious green. Colors can mean more. You could even choose an idea you want to think about more and assign a color to it. Then any time you come upon that color you can remind yourself! So far I like these chakra ones though.

Let your colors be colorful! Break free!

Shelter in Place Month 10: Holidays, Attempted Coup, and Inauguration

Before I get into all that, I’ll just say that my family still hasn’t gotten Covid, and 245 people in Sonoma County have died in the last year. Over 400,000 Americans. For comparison, that’s ten times the number who usually die of flu in the same time period

The holidays were just the three of us at home. Since we usually all have a dozen or so Christmas gigs it was strange to have so much free time. So much time and nowhere to go! We spent three evenings driving around looking at Christmas lights. We looked at maps that the local towns put out and were surprised that one of the official houses on the tour included a Santa peeing yellow lights off the roof into a yellow light puddle. We probably got more Christmas movies in than usual. We zoomed with some family on Christmas day and ate a delicious ready made turkey dinner from our local market, Oliver’s.

I don’t remember much about New Year’s. We ate. We watched the ball drop. We felt like 2020 was strange and mostly bad and 2021 would get better politically, but the pandemic was not done. The whole next semester at least will probably still be online.

When my daughter had one of her barfing migraines, a doctor advised her to get a covid test to be on the safe side. She didn’t have it, as I was pretty sure would be the case, but she got to be the first one of us to get the giant Q tip up the nose at the Kaiser drive through. She said it wasn’t bad. The appointment was for three days after she talked to the doctor, and the results were another couple days after that. Luckily she wasn’t going anywhere anyway.

So I don’t know what to say about January 6th. The president, who had previously told his rally goers that he’d pay their lawyer bills if they beat up protesters and blamed Governor Whitmer for bringing credible death threats upon herself because of Covid rules (the same rules lots of people were making) riled up a mob and watched on TV as they marched to the capitol building to stop congress from making the electoral vote count official. They stormed in, killing one police officer and trampling a couple of their own people. One officer reported someone telling him “We’re doing this for you,” as the person punched him in the face. The rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence” and pooped in the hallways. They stole things, including Nancy Pelosi’s laptop, which one woman apparently tried to sell to Russia?! Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez later said there was a moment she thought for sure she was about to die, but that for security reasons she couldn’t say what exactly happened. Ayanna Pressley reached for her panic button, and it’s still being investigated why the panic button had been removed. While they were holed up in a room, some Republican members of congress didn’t wear masks, and some who did tested positive later. WEAR A FUCKING MASK. Thanks to the capitol police, and especially Eugene Goodman who led the mob away from the congresspeople, the congresspeople were able to get into hiding. While there, the president ignored their calls and did not ask the national guard or anyone to come to their aid. I’m just gonna say it. He’s evil. Oh yeah, he got impeached and will go to trial soon, I think. They’re trying to make sure he can’t run in 2024. Some Republicans are too weak or racist to support that. Not all, though, which is new. The impeachment was the most bipartisan of our nation’s four.

Two weeks later, in an inauguration I thought should be moved to a secret location, President Joe Biden and VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS were sworn in with the ceremony we all needed. I cried when Kamala walked out of the building and into the ceremony. I heaved a sigh of relief when Joe took his oath. I cried when Lady Gaga sang “flag was still there,” and gestured to the flag. (I got teary-eyed just typing that–what an arrangement! I should look up whose it was. Side note, I heard Kamala’s march was written by a woman, Julie Giroux.) Everyone thought the moment of the day was youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman. Look up her poem if you’ve been living under a rock. The evening was full of music and heartwarming messages hosted by Tom Hanks, (crying! Our first celebrity to have covid, remember? Side note, the night before the inauguration there was a beautiful ceremony honoring those who have died of it and for essential workers.) I cried again while Katy Perry sang Firework to the most fireworks I’ve ever seen, while Joe and Jill and Kamala and Doug and their families watched from the balconies.

And now work is getting done. Pipeline stopped. Border wall stopped. Vaccine distribution plan started. Yes, people had been starting to get vaccinated, but there was no real national plan, and we weren’t buying enough doses. I am nervous to get a vaccine because they were made so quickly, but I know it’s necessary. It’s a pandemic, after all. We can see a light at the end of the tunnel. The inauguration was the real New Year feeling. A huge relief, and kind of a PTSD feeling like “I can’t believe that happened. I’m still mad at the people who let it. We almost had four more years of him. WE ALMOST HAD A COUP.”

Mask up, hold on a little while longer, and take it easy on yourself if you feel like there’s too much to process right now. There is.

DID I MENTION WE HAVE A WOMAN VICE PRESIDENT?!

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