Saturday, January 22, 2022

Y Is For Yes


It's dreadfully cold here in Northeast Ohio (aka NEO), and there's nothing I want to do less than leave my home where it's warm, comfy, and everything I need is easily within my reach. I'm wearing leggings, a fleece zip-up, and behind my back is my heating pad--on High. I'm hoping that This Is It for me for the rest of the day and night; however, if, say, Sam called and invited us down to his house, or our friends sent a text and invited us to see their new home, I'd say Yes.

My Campaign Of Yes began some time ago, when I retired. It was inspired in no small part by a quote in the book The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. In it, a countess is trying to flee her brutish foreign husband and seek comfort back in her American home and family.  Society is unkind, and she is confused by its coldness to her. She ignores Society and does what she wants. "I must go where I am invited, or I should be too lonely," she tells a friend. 

I certainly didn't have the countess's problems, but I decided that I'd take her advice and go wherever and whenever I was invited so that I would fill my days. And I did--to movies, to lunches, to shopping trips, to various outings and visits--as often as I could, saying Yes as much as I was able. 

After a time, those things naturally faded as retirees started to spend more time with their families or travel or find other things to do. And I did the same things, too. But it was fun while it lasted.

I still continue with my Campaign Of Yes, however, and I highly recommend it. Of course it's easier to say No and stay home with a cat on my lap and read or play Words With Friends. But I have almost always been happier that I went to Wherever It Was. This morning, Rick had to go to the lakehouse and troubleshoot the Nest thermostat, which we had lost connectivity with almost two weeks ago. It was a bone-chilling five degrees when he asked me if I was going along. My face must have been a mix of horror and panic because he immediately said, "You don't have to! I just thought I'd ask." I admit that I did struggle for a moment or two, but stuck to my Campaign. "Yes," I said. "Of course I'll go."

We hadn't been to the lake in a month or so. The community is shrouded in snow and quiet. From the driveway, we could see the lake, silent and frozen. Here and there in our yard were pawprints from rabbits and squirrels. I knew that if we went out and looked down at the lakeside, we might see hoofprints from deer. As we looked farther out towards the southern end, we could see several people ice fishing. The sun broke through the clouds and revealed a brilliant blue sky.

As always, being at the lakehouse was relaxing and brought back such happy memories. The place is a Haven Of Yes--everyone is encouraged to do what they want. If you want to swim, fine. If you want to fish, do it. If you want to just lie on a chaise longue and enjoy the day, do that. If you want to stay inside and watch TV, then Yes you can. 

I said Yes, and again I was glad I did. It was good to get out, go for a drive, and get things sorted out at the lakehouse. It was lovely to gaze out at the frozen lake and appreciate its sleeping beauty. One small and simple word gave me all of that. Yes.

Do you have your own Campaign Of Yes? If not, how do you feel about trying it out?


Wednesday, January 05, 2022

X Is For eXhausted, eXasperated, And The X Factor


As you can see, I'm Creatively Forcing It for letter X. I don't have a lot to give these days, but I wanted to pop in here, wish you all a Happy New Year, and tell you that in addition to some really thoughtful and wonderful Christmas gifts, I also got COVID.

Like you, I am fully vaccinated and boosted, and so are all of my family, yet by the time this exposure ran its course, ten of us tested positive, including my 91-year old mother.  And there was never a time when all ten of us were in any place together. 

Also perhaps like you, I mask up anytime I'm in public--the grocery store, the pet food store, the pharmacy--and as soon as I get in my car, I use hand sanitizer, even before I take off my mask. I'm religious about handwashing, about social distancing, about wiping the handles of carts with the disinfecting wipes at the stores. It's eXhausting, but I never wanted to get sick.

The thing is, not everyone does that. Ohio's corrupt and gerrymandered republican legislature has gutted all COVID safeguards. Many people, even those who are vaXXed and boosted, are eXhausted by this pandemic and don't even wear masks at work or in stores. And when Omicron arrived, that behaviour did not change, sadly. And here we are. 

My symptoms began the day after Christmas with a slightly scratchy throat, which I shrugged off. Jared and Sam had both been fighting a cold for a day or two, and Jared had already tested negative for COVID. By that Monday, Sam had been sent home from work with a positive test result, and Rick and I were scrambling to find an at-home test. Quite simply, there are absolutely none in Ohio, period. 

A friend with a stockpile of tests gave us two, and we tested positive. Each day last week, our symptoms worsened. I felt like I had a head cold with the flu. The fatigue and muscle weakness were almost debilitating for me. I never got a fever, but I lost my sense of taste and smell. I've only today regained a bit of them both, and not consistently. I'm still weak and tire easily. Rick is still coughing and weak. He never lost his sense of taste or smell and never fevered up, but the coughing takes a lot out of him. He is working from home until he has a negative test. 

(A quick aside--my mother is great. She largely had cold symptoms, and under the fine care of my brother, she not only recovered, but continued her daily exercise regimen as well. She's a marvel.)

 I am finding All Of This incredibly eXasperating. I did everything right. I worked so hard to Be Safe. And for so long! Why are we still fighting this virus, one that we have vaccines for? Why are we in Year THREE of this pandemic? 

What in the hell is going on?!

I'm sick of all of it and sick of being sick. I thought I'd be able to toss my masks by now, yet I read that I have to go looking for new ones, that N95 are the only ones that will keep me Safe now. If there is such a thing as Being Safe.

That Safety is an Illusion, really. In the end, we're only as Safe as the people around us allow us to be. Other People will always be the X Factor. That's a Tough Reality, but that's the Way It Is, especially with Omicron out there now, and the monitoring of yet another variant in France. All we can do is our best to Be Safe, but we have to know that, ultimately, it's not completely in our control. Other People never are.

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