The calendar flipped, the digit increased, and here we are in a new year. But what will change? What will stay the same? We sit and wait with baited breath.
Will we get our piddly $600 stimulus checks? Possibly. Will Eygpt get 1.4 billion in aid from US taxpayers? Undoubtedly. Because isn’t that we why work a 40 hour week anyway, while businesses and restaurants around us go bankrupt, disappearing with each new week? Let’s hand oxygen masks to countries who hate us while our own are just out of reach. Seems like an elevated way to give the bully our lunch money. So we sit and wait. Wait on assistance. Wait on the numbers to go down, for the news to spout something encouraging, wait on the new regime, wait for the world to once again flip the CLOSED sign to OPEN.
Let’s hope the pessimistic leader-elect’s gloomy prediction of a dark winter proves false. Love him or hate him, all our leaders need our prayers now. Don’t we all want our country to thrive and be united? Seems like a pipe dream, but I believe many Americans are hopeful.
So we applaud the arrival of a new year, albeit with trepidation.
The vaccine is here, and I know several folks now who have received it, all of them working in hospitals. There is light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope. There is always hope.
Mrs. James Caufield (because magazines didn’t care about married women’s first names) shapes cotton gloves at the Prairie Glove plant in Carlinville, Illinois on what appears to be a giant fork. At this point in 1967, the firm employed 170 townspeople and churned out 10,000 pairs a week. Is it me, or do they look Goliath-sized?
Personally, we’ve stopped our usage of gloves and simply wear masks and use sanitizer as of late–some wonderfully smelling ones from Bath & Body that we procured yesterday in a clean, manly scent, as well as a Sunshiney lemon one. It is a bit disconcerting to watch a waitress wearing the same gloves at an outdoor restaurant, bring your drinks (touching the rims, which was a HUGE server no-no back in my day), then touch your neighbor’s plates, etc, throughout the entire meal. I would have rathered she just washed her hands repeatedly. Such is our new learning curve.
I’m still surprised how hard it is for folks to figure out how to use gloves, that as soon as they are covered in germs, you toss them, instead of climbing into your car and grabbing your wheel and touching your radio and yanking the emergency breaks. Now you’ve just transferred all the nasty germs all over your car. Folks are stupid. Guess we should stick to the OG gloves when this pandemic is over.
It’s a darn good thing I know how to cook, since I’ve had to cook 98% of our meals over these past nine weeks. My first thoughts in the morning are, “Take Bayer aspirin, give dog his pill, make coffee, thaw meat.” Meal prep is, as Willie Nelson sang, always on my mind. Manana in Texas means bars, yes, BARS, will open. Restaurants have already been plugging away at 25%, at least those that have not yet folded. A handful of iconic Austin restaurants operating for over 30 years each, have died a COVID death. Tomorrow, restaurants can allow 50% occupancy. And no, they will not shove blow-up sex dolls in booths to establish social distancing like a certain establishment in South Carolina did…
Austin is known for keeping it weird, but that’s hella weird. Crazy weird. And yet, when I think of the flaky dim bulb brains of many hostesses I’ve known, it’s probably helpful, so they wouldn’t seat those tables. Nice touch with the bowls and forks.
Now that businesses are opening up, folks are itching to get out of their houses and back to work. After seven weeks sans income, my husband returned to his job, carrying his mask and his hand sanitizer (which they are selling at 7-11 for $8 at about 3 oz!), making the arduous commute into Austin. Many young folks in Austin aren’t wearing masks at all, or much of anything, according to this picture taken at Lake Travis on Saturday. I guess they figured social distancing is just a suggestion.
My heart breaks to think of the healthcare workers on their feet for multiple shifts at a time, unable to eat or bathe, trying to cope with the trauma they witness as best they can, scared to carry unseen germs into their homes. My heart breaks for the victims who had no loving hand to hold during their final moments, no solace or comfort before they left their bodies forever, bodies destined to be shoved into makeshift coolers in New York. Perhaps it takes maturity, decades of learned compassion, prioritizing and realizing that this life is not about selfishness, and we all need each other to make it. Survival of the fittest is not the goal.
I get it. I want to be where the people are. I want to cavort again. But even though I’ve daily jogged and tried to stay positive, taking hot baths and reading scripture, ignoring endless negative articles thrown my way, I evidently could not tell my own body to chill. My muscles got so tight and restricted in my neck and chest last Sunday, that I could barely breathe for two days, and I wound up in an ambulance, headed to ER (the last place on earth you want to be during COVID). My temp was 98.0, and I had no cough at all, so they didn’t waste a virus test on me. They determined that the chest pain, SOB, and left arm numbness was not a heart attack, and sent me home. As they said, the job of ER is not to diagnose, but to “rule out.” That said, don’t be too hard on yourself if your body, your hormones, your emotions are so out of whack, no matter what you do for self -care. Dr. Phil said we are all in a fight or flight mode designed to last for several minutes, not several months, and we can’t control the way the body chooses to deal with it.
So I’ll stay home yet again, watching the cars roll down the street.
Knowing that soon, I’ll be riding tandem bikes again.
And crossing streets with my peeps.
Watching films at the theater. Okay, I won’t do that because I hate seeing movies in public, listening to babies cry and patrons chew popcorn loudly. Guh-ross. But you can.
Just a note to say howdy from one of the states that is now allowing 25% capacity dining.
We didn’t take our chances with that risk today, and continued instead with carryout, per our usual Saturday order, wore masks, held the containers swathed in a towel as we drove home, got home, threw the towel in the wash, switched all containers to our plates, then popped them in the oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes, wiped down the counter where containers had made contact, washed our hands, and badda-bing, badda-boom, lunch. How about y’all? Eating out yet?
Perhaps your state will start re-opening as per its Phase I guidelines on May 1st. Perhaps it’s May 8th. All I know is it WILL be May, and folks will be getting prepped and ready to shine.
Betty can breathe on Martha, and Martha can cough on Mary.
Carl won’t have to wipe down that wooden chair seat after he gets up.
The line at Great Clips will stretch past the adjacent Subway and Pizza Hut in the strip malls.
The cleaners will be packed with piles of people’s threadbare sweats and yoga pants.
Cobblers will be cobbling.
Diners will be packed elbow-to-elbow.
People might even board public transportation.
Ew. Seriously gross. Kirk is even having second thoughts about cushions never cleaned.
Butchers will be butchering, fileting, de-boning, and slicing deli meats and cheeses.
Department store racks will be scoured for wider waistbands.
Bars and restaurants, clubs and dance halls will throw open their doors and welcome the traumatized masses, stumbling in to relearn dances, to rebuild their tolerance to cocktails, and use public restrooms.
The streets will sound with joyous rapture and merry harmony. “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye” to coronavirus.
Looking at this image of debris washed up along Galveston’s seawall as Hurricane Carla battered the coastline in September of 1961 made me reflect on the powerful beating our economy has taken in a period of only five weeks. Yesterday, my childhood restaurant closed, one where I have fond memories of eating gingerbread pancakes and broccoli sour cream omelets, washed down with iced hibiscus tea at the dawn of the 80s. It had an hour wait nearly every weekend for 40 years, and now it has no wait. Another trendy Austin hotspot folded this morning. So much for their lemon shrimp linguine. How can everything tumble so quickly?
Our favorite haunts are pummeled, as we stand helplessly by. So much for the Pleasure Pier.
The water keeps rising. The Mobil is inoperable, but we don’t need the gas because we can’t go anywhere. The Motor Hotel is flooded, but we’re not allowed to travel from home, so it barely registers.
Down is up, and up is down. Small businesses fold; delivery services soar. Horses stand on patios.
Boats prop tilted on the highway.
In the aftermath, we try to salvage what we can. Sift through the rubble.
What do we do now? We have no income. We have no idea if our jobs will exist when we return to them. How will we pay our bills? We don’t qualify for unemployment benefits. This stimulus check will barely get us through the next month on essentials.
So we cry and comfort each other.
We wonder if the lives saved by isolation outnumbers the lives lost by suicide, outnumbers the families left unfed and unsheltered, down to their last double digits in their savings accounts. And still it goes on.
But we can see the light. We can walk toward it. The world will once again re-open, battered and bruised, but hopefully more united, more focused on true priorities and aware of invisible dangers. Together, we will wade out.
Today we continue in our appreciation for the medical field, who has been streeeeetched to their limits during these past several weeks, and will probably all be suffering from PTSD for the rest of their lives. But back in July of 1970, high-haired Connie Wharton and Jean Davis were keeping it casual and lowkey while lifting newborns out of stork/kitten/kangaroo boxes at Jefferson Davis Hospital, the first publicly-owned Houston hospital to accept low-income patients.
Fun fact Friday: the hospital was largely abandoned in the 80s, thought to be full of ghosts, named a city landmark, and then destroyedrenovated into artist lofts for the rich and crafty. Plus, everyone knows buildings cannot be named after a former president of the Confederate States; we’re too busy erasing history to make everything PC.
This next image shows nurses and patients at Houston’s St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in the Fifth Ward in March of 1959. Nobody likes to be barefoot, donning a hospital gown, but some encouragement, attention, and a fire truck can go a long way toward healing.
Our final Houston-based medical subject is Dr. Katharine Hsu, a pediatric doctor who came to America from China in 1948. She served as Chief Resident Physician in Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital in Shanghai, but when the Japanese invaded the city in l94l, she fled through enemy lines and joined her husband at Chung Cheng Medical College as Head of Pediatrics. Here she takes vitals of a shirtless youngster in July of 1953 at–you guessed it–Jefferson Davis Hospital.
Fun Fact Friday: After tuberculosis took the lives of her brother and sister, she made it her goal to stop the spread. She established a one-room, one-nurse pediatric TB facility which later expanded into the Children’s TB Clinic and Hospital, where she worked from 1953 to 1969.
Per her obituary in 2007, she died at the age of 93.
When the use of the drug Isoniazid proved beneficial in treating TB patients, Katharine envisioned using it as a preventive against the disease. Since her extensive testing and studies proved overwhelmingly successful, the preventive treatment was adopted worldwide…The International Biographical Center of Cambridge named her International Woman of the Year in l996-l997 for her contributions to medicine, research, and education.
Today we salute the men and women in past and present medical fields, doing their best to keep the rest of us alive, with all the skills to treat and diagnose when we are helpless and vulnerable.
Hair adorned with flower, a hostess at New York’s Stage Door Canteen offers birthday cake to servicemen.
Those of you denied birthday parties may have not even received cake this year. You can’t trust the local bakery to have prepared it covid-free. Perhaps you had to make do with queso de Swiss like Senor Gonzales here.
But from all us at “I Don’t Get It,” here’s wishing you a much better 2021!
During these heady times, it’s hard to refrain from going stir crazy. But keep in mind that cabin fever is always better than lowgrade fever. Even the President said a hell-to-the-no when Birx mentioned her fever.
In the words of Nirvana, stay away.
Running out of ideas for solo activities? Well, let’s take a cue from history.
You could make a pyramid, reminiscent of the wonder of the world. You will be self-isolating, so no one will see your Daisy Dukes or judge your ale intake.
You could bundle up under the covers and read a good book, or just the Cliff’s Notes.
Catch up on the funnies in your paper.
You could science up and create a vaccine.
Or spend time with microfilm. How long has it been?
Try tobacco! And maybe write the Great America Novel while you’re at it!
Lie on your bed (but first take your saddle oxfords off because the virus can stay on the soles of your shoes for days) and think about yesterday, when all your troubles seemed so far away.
Pick up the telly and place a call to an elder relative whom you usually avoid because conversations with them are meandering and taxing and oppose your belief system.
If spring has sprung in your town, pack a sack lunch and head over to a nearby park, spray the entire bench with Lysol, sit down, and enjoy a snack, while hearing the mating calls of the doves.
And if you are part of the unfortunate “essential” few who have to be in public, remember to wear your mask.