Here I am. Just about three years later still not doing much of anything. And unlike many of you it took me until a few months ago to get myself a new couch to do nothing on.
I hear you…
“Oh, please don’t mention the C word.”
On NPR I heard cases are up 90%. Y’all are news reading folks you know. “It” is on the rise and the flu is really a bad one this year. I had to take Mom to the emergency room for a power UTI and the nurses gave me the low down, they were having a deep run of a variety of viruses and the standing room only crowd that night was heavy on flu. (That ER looked like a Target was having a “buy one smart tv and get one free” sale.) The sounds of the seasons: barking mad coughs, screaming feverish children, and adults too sick to make any sounds. I swear I could see the virus crystals dangling like tinsel.
Those nurses were amazing. Triaging mom fairly quickly, we were “lucky” in that she was in the computer system as having almost died of the same thing three years ago (almost to the day). They started an IV of fluids and eventually a strong intravenous antibiotic for her UTI. Then the doctor told me to get her out. I got her to my place for a two-week recovery. If this had been 2018 she might have stayed overnight but there was not a bed to be had. It was much better to leave before we got a Gift with Purchase.
I’m done with it. Let the bugs fly at me. I am immunized. I am vaxed, taxed, and waxed…I had a mild form of “it” in the spring—April 15, of all days. Really, my chances of dying from this thing are low. So let’s live life, shall we?
I loved that last paragraph. It’s a lie and I love it. It reads just like most everyone else on the planet feels. Even with our hospitals in LA bursting at the seams, everyone is fatigued and so “auld lang syne” (which literally means “old long since”) in regards to even the smallest of precautions like masking up while at the grocery store. We as a society are over it.
So why am I over here suffering from PTSD or PTCD?
The idea that I could kill my mom haunts me, that’s why. With her age and her lung issues it’s not great odds. Every decision I make is filtered thru the lens of “Is it worth it?” Turns out the only thing that ever seems worth it is work. This last spring/summer I booked some tv/film work. No one can set foot on a set without several covid tests including a last minute one the day of shooting. And almost all union sets required you to be vaxed. And once on set, if you aren’t in the scene being taped you have a mask on and if you don’t someone will hand you one. It felt glorious to be out of the house amongst my fellow artists to talk to people, to interact, to see others. My screen time was minimal. The not being isolated was a shot of normalcy I desperately needed.
Just six weeks ago, the numbers were so low I was living almost normally. I have friends who, during the worst of the pandemic, functioned very well while wearing a mask. I do not. I have a horrible time—they trigger a migraine and I struggle to breathe. But the numbers were down, and I was starting to breathe literally a bit freer. I even took a music gig. A wonderful private dinner party where the band I put together was adored. My enjoyment was dampened by profuse perspiration. The lasagna entrée they served had warmed the room and had me “glowing.” I was incandescent. After the gig my brutally honest German violinist was surprised how well I did having not led or sung in quite some time. You want honesty, get yourself a German born-and-bred friend; they can’t help themselves.
The problem with the filter of “is it worth it” is that life is not made up of monumental events. That which makes a life worth living are the small things. That’s why we say, “It was a trip of a lifetime.” Not, “It was a bagel and coffee of a lifetime.” BUT if you delete all the small things, you have nothing.
While mom recovered on my couch (she wanted the couch—it was ten steps closer to the toilet, and, remember, it’s brand new) I already had some plans for social interactions. The events were mostly outside but in close contact with others that I didn’t know. She didn’t want me to change my plans and I didn’t think I should. I had heard from the institution with the padded cell. They had already finished the “R” and the “A” on my name plate.
I finally bought tickets for a show I have wanted to see for years. The next day I called and got my money back. Baby steps. I just didn’t think a crowded theatre in a city where not many are wearing masks, when the numbers are so high, felt worth it. In this case I had to balance the anxiety of sitting that close to a stranger who might have indigestion after their big pre-theatre dinner. Would their garlic breath burps cause me to worry “what else lurks therein?” Lest you think I’m exaggerating, or I should already be in that padded cell, I used to have season tickets to this theatre and in our row there was a guy who was also a season ticket holder. I knew when he was in attendance, because periodically this odor would hover over to my face and slowly dissipate. This process would repeat throughout the evening.
I’ve called the facility and told them, don’t paint the next letter. I am going to recover.
So next time you see someone wearing a mask, they may be out in an effort to keep their marbles—and they may trying to keep someone they love safe.