I didn’t want to have to do this but…

You know what?

I am pissed.

And now I’m going to rant.

Two Facebook groups were started on the same day – in the early days of the virus – ostensibly to provide information and support for our community members during this time of sickness and fear and mixed messages coming down from the top.

In one group, seemingly comprised primarily of Christian Conservatives, a post about exercising our constitutional rights by not wearing masks prompted one group member to state that she felt safer sporting face covering and she wished that everyone would wear one.

She was verbally bludgeoned.

The group administrator got really ugly and several others followed suit.

It prompted me to leave the group, with a statement on the page about why. I said, “I am leaving because I wanted to be a part of a group that is helping our community.”

I followed with, “Getting ugly and judgmental isn’t helping anyone in our County.”

I was taunted, called names, and told “good riddance.”

I was holding out hope for the other group to be a little bit more open-minded and compassionate and NEUTRAL.

Well, that went right out the window this morning.

“Asshole”

“Troll”

“Dumbass. Moron. Idiot.”

“Go home to your shithole state.”

“Panty waist liberals have no place here”

what the fuck people?????????

I want one person, one, to tell me what good could possibly come out of any of the above comments. How is this possibly helping our old, our sick, our babies, our HEALTHCARE WORKERS?

Sure, I wear a mask to protect myself. I’m selfish that way.

But more importantly, I wear a mask for you.

My son is asthmatic. He has the potential to run into serious trouble if he catches this virus.

I wear a mask for him.

Another friend, who I like to visit, has cancer. I panic at the thought of infecting her unknowingly.

I wear a mask for her.

My mother is 81, lives alone, is freshly widowed and thanks to a bout with lung cancer has only half of one lung.

I hope that every single person in her town wears a fucking mask because I don’t want my mother to die. Alone. Due to someone else’s need to “not be controlled.”

I wear a mask for everyone’s mother.

TAM and I are quarantining together – we are exposing each other to everything that we encounter. He has children. It’s my responsibility to protect him.

I wear a mask for him. For his children.

I wear a mask for the gal at the market who goes home to a very compromised husband. She has to change her clothes in the garage before she can even enter her own home after a day at work.

I wear a mask for my co-workers who are doing their very best to safely provide food and support for so many who are dependent on this little grocery store. While I have been safely isolated, they are dealing with the public 7 days a week, so that you can eat.

I wear a mask for the pregnant woman who is already terrified of bringing her unborn baby into this upside-down toxic world.

You get the picture.

The picture of me with a mask on my face.

I know that no matter what I say, or anyone else says, that plenty of people give we “fearful and paranoid victims of fake news and conspiracies” the middle finger.

Sure, sometimes I wonder if it is all blown out of proportion. But then I think, “Who am I to say?”

Not a doctor. Not a scientist.

Not a constitutionalist either.

So I am clearly in no position to make this call.

99% of us are in no position to make this call.

Really, anyone who is questioning the veracity of the science, who is neither a scientist nor a medical doctor, is out of their fucking minds.

Seriously, think about it, all of us who barely passed Biology 101, are trying to out-science the scientists.

This is not about your constitutional rights. This is about the health and well being of not only your own community but…

The entire planet.

Can you grasp that?

The health of both the earth itself and every single human being alive is in your hands. Do you get that?

WE can make a difference in what happens to people just like us, mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, nurses, factory workers, teachers.

This is not about “being an American,” this is about being a global citizen.

One of the comments on this morning’s news feed asked about the “ethnicity” of those infected and dying?

The ETHNICITY?

Now we are making this a racism issue. So we don’t care about the Chinese (well they started this so why should we be concerned there?) or the Italians (pronounced eye-talian in this bigoted conversation). Does it matter what the brown people in Africa are experiencing?

And no question, in this border town right on the edge of the Navajo Nation, that a mention of ethnicity is pointed directly at our suffering neighbors who have been hit harder than anywhere else in our four corners.

I had someone tell me in the grocery store that she wishes “they” wouldn’t come here to shop – so that she can go mask-free.

Maybe we could have brown people hours and white people hours.

Makes me want to move to Shiprock.

I want to hurl. I am so angry.

And so disappointed in my community.

This is a community of people who pride themselves on being good neighbors and helping each other in times of need. Not wearing masks probably isn’t helping.

Chance are, wearing one is helping. At least there’s a chance of it being beneficial to self and others, while we know for certain that no face protection helps no one.

Sure, they’re uncomfortable. And annoying.

But if I choose to wear one, that’s my choice. Just like some folks are making the choice to not wear one (based on the constitution and personal preference, not on the scientific information that we all have access to.)

Don’t fucking ride my ass if I err on the side of caution

I want to walk away from this global pandemic knowing that I did everything I could to keep safe my children, my mother, my sick friends, someone else’s grandmother or husband or child. If I needlessly wear a mask for a while, so be it.

It’s none of your business. I am not hurting you. I am not violating your constitutional rights. I am not going to get you sick, that’s for sure.

The maskless can’t say the same thing about not affecting me.

So, if you are making the decision to put me, the compromised husband, a newborn baby, a nurse or grocery store employee, at risk, go ahead and do that.

If your conscience allows.

But do not give me shit about it.

It has taken everything in me to not respond to each and every cruel and immature comment that I have seen on Facebook (including some of those whose words are coming through layers of folded cloth and coffee filters.) But I refuse to get involved in debates with people behaving poorly in inappropriate forums.

I know that trying to convince anyone on either side of the debate is fruitless at this point. Not my purpose here, although it would be nice if my ranting gives at least one bare-faced community member pause for thought. I’m stating my opinion, but I am not holding out hope that I’m going to change anyone’s mind.

My point is this:

Shut. The Fuck. up.

Don’t be ugly.

Be kind.

If you want to be catty and condescending and critical and cruel, go ahead. But I certainly don’t want to hear it.

Do they make masks that cover the ears?

 

 

on the issue of masks

I’m wearing one. No question about it. I just bought myself a new one yesterday.

I’m investing money; I am in this for the long haul.

Some of you are choosing to not wear masks. Your prerogative.

I wish you would wear one, but if you’re choosing not to, then I guess I’ll just back up a few steps if we need to interact.

But what I have noticed is that backing up, covering my nose and mouth, conducting myself as if there were a global pandemic, is making me the recipient of ridicule and derision.

Many (not all, I guess?) of the maskless are getting quite smug. I’ve noticed it particularly in young adults – those who are relatively new to adulthood and to making decisions on their own.

And most interestingly, the worst of the smuggers that I have encountered are young women.

I’m not saying anything political or making sweeping generalizations about the population who are not wearing masks – I see young, old, male, female, white, brown, black.

If you want to go to the lake with your family and friends, god bless ya, I’m kind of envious, but I am making different choices.

I am saying something about the attitude of the maskless population who think that they are superior to those of us with our faces covered.

It shows in the condescending looks I get when I am the only one in the room with a mask. It shows every time an open-faced individual bumps into me – accidentally on-purpose.

Last time I went to Walmart I ran into a girl who I had babysat, who in turn babysat my children, and is now grown up, old enough, to be raising her own. We usually stop and chat, but as I was deciding if I wanted to make the effort that it takes, she looked at me with a smirk on her face, a “hrmph” on her lips, haughtily lifted her head and walked right on out of there, wholly superior to this old lady’s fear-ridden existence.

So yesterday, I went elsewhere to try to support one of our local business, and while searching the aisles for wood putty, a young lady, an employee, who went to high school with my kids (meaning that IF she is 21, then it’s just barely, making her still a child in my mind,) approached.

I greeted her warmly – as warmly as you can with half of your face hidden. She was lukewarm in response. At first I thought, “Maybe she doesn’t recognize me with my mask on,” so I said, “Hey__________, it’s me, HDD.”

She looked at me with “Duh,” written all over her face…

Which I could see the entirety of because she wasn’t wearing a mask.

Suddenly I remembered skimming over something on Facebook about this particular business and their lack of Covid-19 restrictions.

Should have paid more attention to that one.

Anyway, in response to her general inquiry about helping me find something I responded that I needed wood putty which apparently was one aisle over.

And apparently the only way there was for her to push past me, in the narrow row of wood glue and stain. She literally, physically, bumped me out of the way, with a total “I dare you to say something,” arrogance.

I did what any sane person would do as she passed…

I held my breath.

I was pissed, and yet I didn’t say a word.

For one, it’s too hard to talk while fighting for every breath through multiple layers of cotton and coffee filters.

Two, I knew that I would get no support from any of my fellow customers or the managers of the store. That was perfectly clear.

But the main reason that I didn’t say anything was that I am sick and tired of the animosity between the believers and the non-believers.

People have gotten so ugly with each other. Unkind. Disrespectful. Nasty.

As a mother figure, I could easily have justified saying to this gal, “Oh Honey – I really wish you’d be more careful and cover up your face.”

Of I could have said, “What the fuck are you doing getting so close to me?”

But I didn’t because we need to be gentle with one another right now in this topsy-turvy world.

And though I may be secretly judging those who are making different decisions than I am, I also understand that others are making the decisions that they believe are right for them, and while we each might (probably) feel very strongly about our positions, does it mean that we have to be ugly with each other?

I don’t think so.

I get it that if I choose to continue to isolate, to cover my face, to wash my hands 52 million times, that’s my choice and I am the one who is “inconvenienced,” by having to wear a piece of cloth over my face. It is my responsibility to take those precautions – which I am.

But I believe that it is the maskless’ responsibility to respect those boundaries – not push against them.

Literally.

Why must there be an air of superiority? Sure, they could be right and I could be wrong (and paranoid).

OR I could be right and they are about to get a lot of people very sick.

But, I’m keeping my covered mouth shut because we do not need more divisiveness right now and I believe in being kind. So why do people on the other side of the debate feel the need to totally disrespect me, my choices, my body?

I’m not inconveniencing anyone. I am not spreading a deadly disease. I am not forcing any of my political beliefs on anyone. My mask is not taking away anyone’s constitutional rights.

My masked friends declare that they too have been on the receiving end of physical contact, snide remarks, and general disdain. I am not imagining this.

But what I can’t imagine is why it has to be this way.

There is no need for condescension.

No reason to be smug.

PS: Before any of the maskless gets all hyped up – I am fully aware that there are many of the swaddled that are verbally taking people out for NOT wearing a mask. That’s not okay either. And to you, I say, “Be kind. Be respectful. Play by your rules. Socially distance yourself…

And for Fuck’s sake, don’t start shit with your neighbors.”

 

 

 

It’s 12:30 am

…and I sit here at my computer, unable to sleep since I went to bed at 9:30 last night, got up at 7, drank a cup of coffee, went back to bed until almost 11, then took a 2-hour nap before coming over to TAM’s house where we went to bed hours ago.

It seems that even I can get too much sleep.

I want to write and one of the reasons that I want to do so is that I feel shame about my last post. I am uncomfortable and embarrassed that I am whining again. Then I assume that if I am that tired of it then you, my readers must be gagging. Then I think about TAM reading it and suddenly finding me distasteful. And I feel too vulnerable; I used to be more comfortable with that feeling, hesitated less to honestly share. Next, I read and re-read what I wrote. Check comments. Think about hiding it. Then I feel like I can’t start censoring myself because I am an honest writer, so I can’t hide the damn post. Then I figure that the next best thing is a distraction.

I’ll just write another post. This one will be upbeat and funny. It will be wry and witty so that everyone forgets about oh poor me and instead thinks of me fondly again.

To say to the world, “Oh that was just a moment. I’m not really that pathetic. We all have blips.”

And then I would be saving face and I could relax and move on.

So I tried multiple topics including a one-sentence post laughing the whole thing off. Then another one about learning to play euchre, then another one…

And they all came out forced. Because they were forced.

So I decided that the thing to do is to just fucking own it and put it out there.

Welcome to the inner workings of the mind about which my therapist said, “I wouldn’t trade my wheelchair to live inside of your brain.”

Residual Pain

There are a few times in my life over which I still carry much grief.

Some events I’ve moved on from, and some, I can’t seem to shake completely.

Things that haunt me. Things that no longer make me feel like I’ve been punched in the gut but hit a tender spot for sure.

I look at the ones from which I can’t unstick and follow the common thread – thinking that if I can figure out why I can’t let go, then maybe I will be able to.

The ones that still won’t heal are the ones in which there was a loss of trust.

Betrayal. A lack of integrity. And misunderstanding of who I am as a person.

I still feel wronged by something I got in trouble for when I was 17.  I don’t even remember what the punishment was but I was innocent of the crime and I still want to say to my mom, “That was unjust. I didn’t deserve that.”

Unjust. That’s another piece of the pieces that I grieve.

Around these incidents, time periods, in each situation, I have felt as if I’m being treated unjustly.

As if my side of the story wasn’t heard, or that it even mattered.

And the result of a couple of these incidences involved loss of community.

And a lack of accountability.

I hate being the victim. It is a very unbecoming trait.

And yet, there are times when I do feel like I deserved better. Does admitting that make me a victim?

The loss of friends has been brutal. The loss of trust even more so.

There two of these pivotal moments in time that have been sort of in my face recently and I woke up this morning feeling sad. I wrote for a while, trying to sift through the layers down to what it is that I need to let go of, what I need to be able to do that, and what, ultimately, do I want as the end result.

I read this thing this morning about regret. Basically, it said that having true, honest regrets is a good thing, a healing thing, a way to move forward and basically, do things differently in your life.

I have regrets, for sure. Amongst other moments in time, I regret that I couldn’t manage to handle these situations better.

I wish that my emotions didn’t run amok when I feel misunderstood.

Being treated unkindly, disrespectfully, and not having a voice…those things cause me to raise my voice.

And those are the same damn things that still cause me to fester.

The biggest thing is that I really don’t know how to interact with certain folks.

There’s a desire to let bygones be bygones, to fall back into ease and comfort and laughter.

Move forward, put the past behind, hang out and just enjoy each other’s company like we used to.

But it’s not possible. You can’t go back to what was because it’s not what was anymore, it’s what is.

And what is feels all kinds of cattywampus.

In other words, I am missing the friendships that I thought we had before I understood what kinds of friendships they actually were.

They were fun, relationships, not bad ones, which is why I really miss them, but they weren’t what I thought, at least not at the level of what I desire in a true friendship.

I have forgiven. I think.

But forgiving doesn’t mean that there is no more sadness or pissiness. It doesn’t mean that all personal interaction from this point forward is jovial and warm.

And, according to Desmond Tutu, forgiving doesn’t mean that you have to have a relationship with the other person.

So forgiveness, yes.

Friendships?

I just don’t know.

It’s awkward.

 

 

 

 

“Ego Tube”

Back in the day – the day when I was taking people deep into the wilderness; when I was young, vibrant, idealistic, and rather self-righteous – the day when I was a purist, a leave no trace purist – I had a thing about summit registers.

There was a handful of us who believe(d) that Leave No Trace means leave. no. trace. and that leaving a plastic tube with paper and pencil, attached by cable to the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere was leaving a trace.

Trash.

A physical reminder of man’s need to make his mark, to conquer, to claim fame.

So, those few of us who felt so strongly about the issue often ended up with a few summit registers in our packs as we hiked out of 30 days in the backcountry into civilization. Mostly unbeknownst to our students. Mostly. We knew that what we were doing was controversial, but like I said…

self-righteous purists.

Lifting a summit register is often no easy task. It usually entailed telling my students to start the climb down, “I’m just going to coil the ropes, I’m right behind you.” Then, with a few mighty swings of an ice axe, the cable would break and the entire thing got stashed into the top of my pack and down I’d go to meet my group – no one any wiser.

Word of our tireless endeavors to clean up the Weminuche was getting around amongst the higher-ups in our organization and the word then came from those higher-ups to us lower-downs to stop this practice, but, since we imagined ourselves to be the next Ed Abbeys, saving the planet one golf pencil at a time, we ignored the warnings from above.

Until the day when I dragged my students into re-supply way the fuck out in the wilds where a dirt track crossed a remote trail and lo and behold, there was my supervisor’s supervisor’s supervisor, come all the way down from Denver to have a face to face with me.

Apparently, one of my students who was rather perceptive (and impressionable) and fully aware of the trash issue, had taken a register when I wasn’t there, stashed it in his backpack, and brought it home to Connecticut with him where his mommy unpacked his bag, found it, and immediately called our offices to let them know that her child, who had come to Outward Bound because he got in trouble with the law for…stealing…had stolen something with the support of his Instructor.

Me.

Fuck.

Wrist slapped. Warnings issued. Promises made. And the lesson I learned…

Be more stealthy when stealing.

I have lost some of my edge in my old age. I no longer take such a hard stance, although, I do still believe that humans should not be leaving anything manmade in the Wilderness. Especially not affixed to a mountain top.

I understand that some, (most), like the camaraderie that reading other people’s scribblings at the end of a hard climb brings. So I am slightly less militant. I certainly won’t sign one, but I will consider leaving one in place, especially if the people I am with are enjoying it.

Depending on where and how offensive it is.

So, I went out to Utah the other day and climbed to the very top of a ridge which is not a peak – it’s more like an 80-mile undulating wall of China. I am sure there is a “highest point” but it could be anywhere in that 80 miles and the reality is that the monocline is only at most, 900 feet tall; it’s not some massive peak begging to be conquered.

As I got to the tippy top, the place where the sloping incline of rock abruptly stops and there is a 900-foot uninterrupted drop down to the wash below, I saw a cairn (a pile of rocks marking a trail…don’t even get me started on those in the wilderness) marking what seemed to me, to be the perfect place from which to cast oneself into the abyss with no hope of surviving.

I know, as I approached the pile of rocks that I don’t want to take one step past it, but would everyone realize that before they did take that step, that one step too close to the edge?

Dumb, I thought as I made my way towards the offending and potentially dangerous pile of sandstone. And then, I saw it. A glass jar with paper and a golf pencil.

Summit Register.

Not even on a summit.

Granted, it’s a steep climb to get there, but my stubby-legged dog made it, and it was no great accomplishment. Not a big enough one to warrant a symbol of great achievement.

In glass no less. Everywhere you look is solid rock – slick rock – perfect for dropping a glass jar.

Inside, of course, is the inevitable notepad and pencil. One person has written on the register and it says:

Dude, (and Dudette) if you’re calling it an ego tube, and you not only signed it but actually put it there, what’s that saying about you?

And who the fuck carries a glass jar of tomato paste in their backpack? Obviously, this was planned in advance – the jar was clean, pencil sharp, and paper stapled.

The old me was outraged. The newer me was also outraged. Nonononononononononono. Not here. Not okay. Not ever.

So the old me picked up the jar and stashed in my pack. I scattered the rocks used to build the cairn, the new, more careful me resisting the urge to trundle them over the edge since there was a truck below me and trucks usually mean people and I didn’t want to kill anyone.

I fumed. I was disheartened to find that here. Here in my place. Here in the fragile desert. Here where it didn’t belong.

Trash.

When I got back to my truck, I decided that the only thing to do with the offending item was to take it to the visitor’s center. My hope is that they will put it on display with a sign that says, “DON’T be an asshole!”

To the conquerors of the peak, congratulations, you hiked less than a mile and climbed, at most, 900 feet, never losing sight of your truck.

To my old rebellious friends…

I stole another summit register!!