Pandemic Plusses: Hit “Reply” or “Comment” and Make Contact

Wandering social media this morning with my nice cuppa Barry’s Irish Tea, I couldn’t help noticing how many people were posting that the weekends were proving exceptionally difficult during Coronapalooza2020. I agree, and have a few suggestions, all of them with a common denominator – contact. Here’s a few things that can improve the weekend for many:

  1. Contact family, either through a series of calls or (if that is too scary because, family), texts, posting comments to their social media posts, or creating a text thread sharing old family photos (thanks, Jane).
  2. Respond to posts with comments, messages of support, questions, etc. too often we look and scroll on.
  3. Participate in non-pandemic discussions. For example, favorite episode of a TV show (Buffy “The Body” comes to mind, or season 4 of Angel, or any episode of any show featuring the character John Constantine).
  4. Share adorable baby videos. This is the domain of my brother Kevin, and he does an excellent job.
  5. Share a video of a classic song or scene from a film or TV show. This is the domain of my brother Kevin, and he does an excellent job.

  1. (6, ya crazy auto numbering!) Enjoy the “this day in pop culture and/or literature” FB posts of Michael Rogers (on Insta it’s @mike_rogers_pix). Always fun and informative.
  1. (7) Basically, spread the joy we do have in life. We all need it, especially on a gray Stay Home Saturday.

I write this series in an effort to help others get through this. You are welcome to add your comments on today’s topic (#stayhome) in the space below. #MOC19

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Pandemic Plusses: A Teacher’s Revenge

AirPods are a major problem for high school teachers. Students wear them everywhere, even in class. Or they did until the pandemic. We’ll see if this time away fundamentally changes student’s approach to their education. If the work being done remotely is any indication, we all may be proud of them. In the meantime, an oddly pleasant side effect of the pandemic is that when teachers are not live distance teaching, they find themselves home with all their grading, and all their music. We can slip on our own AirPods (yes, class, we own them), or go old school and load up the multi-CD player, or go even older school and play that sweet sounding vinyl (class, ask your grandparents).

But there are some drawbacks.

While grading is very productive to the music of The Band…

Grading, The Band, and breakfast compliments of the goddess.

… it is nigh impossible to do any academic work while playing one of the best albums ever produced, The Temptations Greatest Hits, Vol.II…

The legendary cover of the 1970 album.

Let’s talk about this album art. Designed for scrutiny, it was the freakiest, hippiest art I had seen up to that point, and continues to be among my very favorite album covers of all time (students, you may not appreciate the importance of album art in the download era, trust me on this, is was key wayyyyy back in history). But the music is what cast the spell. And the magic never faded.

Many of you may not have been alive for eons, so you might not know the glories of The Temptations. I do. My older brother introduced this classic disc to my eight-year-old ears and it took over my soul. Whenever I was alone, I would spin and dance and sing all the parts, although the bass voice was way too low for my young vocal chords. This week proved I still cannot focus on anything else when these songs play. Look at the play list and you should understand…

Never heard these songs, class? Crank up your Spotify or Apple Music and discover the roots of what you listen to today.

Sadly, this album had to be surrendered to the call of professionalism. That’s okay, being alive longer than my students can fathom has provided opportunities to gather much great music. Here’s just a random sampling of what professionals can use to keep them going while working at home during The Grind….

This week’s playlist and some backup.
Not even including the vinyl yet. AirPods are for rookies.

Music can replenish the soul, make the heart pump with life, energize your body and mind. If The Grind is getting to you, put on some tunes, even if you have to use AirPods.

I write this series in hopes of helping people get through this pandemic with a bit more easy. You are welcome to share on today’s topic (music that helps) in the comments below. #MOC19

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Pandemic Plusses: My Supermarket Visit From Klingon Commander Kruge

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Pandemic Plusses: Marisa Tomei Saved the Day

The abyss can just grab us these days, pull is into the Coronavirus blues when least expected. You have been warned.

But the most unexpected magic can lift us up just as surprisingly. You have been encouraged.

It happened to me. Early morning tea ritualistically revives me the way coffee works on most humans. Barry’s Irish, thank ye very much. A nice cuppa before sunrise and I am ready for the adventure, God bless St. Caffeine.

Not today. I was pulled under. Plunged into the abyss by morning news and The Grind. Couldn’t shake it. Ran to the safety of the DVR but it wasn’t holding any joy for me there. Flipping stations made it worse. Nothing gave joy. Nothing hit that little war, sunny spot in the heart.

And then there she was. Marisa Tomei. Called to the stand for the climax of My Cousin Vinny. Tomei embodied the character of Mona Lisa Vito with such zest and joy she rendered her contagious. Watching the climatic scene (YouTube “My Cousin Vinny The Defense is Wrong”) where she espouses the unique qualities of rear wheel differential and something she calls posatraction never fails to release the sun I mentioned not too long ago.

Tomei in full Mona Lisa mode.

So thank you, Marisa Tomei, for picking me up and energizing me to face The Grind today.

We all have our personal favorites – scenes or films that never fail to make us feel better, like comfort food for the soul. In these weird, trying times, don’t hesitate to go to one of yours when needed.

I write this series in hopes of helping others through the Coronavirus. You are invited to share about the topic (today: film scenes that brighten our day) in the comments section below.

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Pandemic Plusses: The True Test Begins, and a Mighty Strength Rises

Monday proved to be a grind. And Tuesday is serving up more of the same. This ain’t last week, folks. The adventure’s gone. The novelty’s worn off. And some of our leaders are wandering away from medical intelligence and the world’s evidence, and instead are fantasizing about wonder drugs and this being over soon.

Wonder drugs? Over soon?

I believe most Americans look at the world’s losses and know we’re not on third base heading home, we’re still in the batter’s box waiting on a terrifying inside fastball that hasn’t even left the glove yet.

We see that testing centers are reaching capacity and turning people away before they even open for the day. That tells us how many of our neighbors are worried, or sick, or worse.

Hospitals are begging for masks and protective equipment that the country could be producing with the activation of an already signed order. Instead, we get meandering murmurs of “not wanting to make the cure worse that the problem.” But we the people look around the world and see exactly how big the problem already is. We know that this nation is not close to being done administering tests, no less assessing the results, or treating the ill. And if we’re sent back to our lives before we have confronted this enemy, whatever we have accomplished will be undone. And the numbers of the sick and the dead will explode.

However, there is considerable evidence that Americans know the world’s numbers, dread them, and are turning to state and local officials, and to their own morals, for guidance. We work from home, educate through distance learning, shop In progressively more sane ways, and stay inside. Tuesday morning saw TV commercials become nonpartisan pep and unity rallies, promising support, belief, and strength from furniture outlets and car companies and other familiar brands. And news reports began to emerge showing still other companies manufacturing medical masks and gloves on their own. Communities are working to find ways to feed those in need, and citizens from rock stars to students are utilizing social media to spread hope.

I have faith that most of America sees COVID-19 as the global pandemic that it is, and it seems clear that many of us are doing what needs to be done. It speaks to what lives within Americans, the toughness to take on the unbeatable threat and get to work creating an answer.

In the 1940’s so many countries were threatened by the Axis of Evil, and Americans turned factories and scrap metal and housewives and skinny high school grads and Pearl Harbor into the steely resolve needed to break the allegedly insurmountable Nazi stronghold at Normandy. We stormed those beaches and willingly paid the price to make the world a better place.

We’ve battled for civil and equal rights since the 1960’s with marches and sit-ins, and we lost good people there too. We defied the noose and the gun and still battle stubbornly lingering hatred to make the world a better place.

We’ve been knocked to our knees economically, socially, medically, and spiritually. We’ve seen adversity before and we’ve suffered hard times. None of it has been easy and much of it is ongoing, but when all is said and done, one thing still stands…

The American Spirit.

Not the consumer version or the politically marketed version or any of the cable news versions. Not the Hollywood exploited version or the scandal sheet version or the hot new series now streaming version.

The True American Spirit dwells within everyday people who love their children and work their jobs and dream their dreams and pet their dogs and spend their lives trying to do what is right and what is best for all.

And in our hearts we know the right thing to do now is to take the rough road, to storm this seemingly insurmountable Normandy the way it needs to be stormed. We know the right thing to do is to sit-in against this microscopic violation of our lifestyles, our dreams, our families. In our hearts, that American Spirit burns with the desire to fight this enemy any way we need to, to pay the price to take our lives back, not for a week or a month or a year, but for the future, because we love our children and our families and this worthwhile Idea of America.

But it is going to be a grind and we’re going to need to marshal maturity and all work together and listen to proven experts and not give in to short cuts or false hopes. Our children deserve better than that. Our families deserve better. As do our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow Americans.

The bell is ringing. It is time we step up and do what needs to be done to meet this particular threat the way Americans always have. Our country is calling for us to make the world a better place once again.

Let’s roll.

We all have a bit of this guy in us.
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Pandemic Plusses: Revitalizing Through … Chores?

I got there yesterday, got so bored that doing battle with the bathroom somehow seemed intriguing.

We clean our home weekly (I am contractually obligated to point this out by a certain Sicilian goddess who cleans like a delightfully manic hybrid of the Flash and She-Hulk), but we all know the difference between cleaning and oh my God, is he actually cleaning too?

Yes, we are truly in unheralded times; I wanted to actually do something domestic. In times of desperate need (or in this case, abject boredom), a warrior rises from his chair. This would be a battle royale and every legend requires weapons. I chose mine from the goddess’s limitless arsenal, kept in her physics-defying closet. And I chose wisely.

Le weapons.

Once more unto the breach, I cried havoc and let loose the dogs of washing, hitting each wall with an untamed horde of scrubbing bubbles. My minions ravaged dirt’s desperate defenses and then came I, breaking their bacterial spirit like a berserker with a brush. (We’re talking about putting in work, folks, utilizing muscles that have been mostly employed to turn pages and lift tea mugs these past few days.) Thumping Peter Gabriel club remixes added a bit of rhythm to each sanitizing slash, a touch of funk to my hygienic heroics. I was a force to be reckoned with, a slow moving, rarely seen, unstoppable tank to the goddess’s daily Level Six hurricane.

Those walls gave up the funk. So did the bathtub, sink, toilet. window, and floor. The shower curtains succumbed to my demands, and the mirror submitted to a near Disney-level polishing. Dirt offered no resistance, surrendering to my bubbling battalion, my brush, and the purifying waters of Isengard (okay, it was tap water, but run with the metaphors, will ya?).
The effect was invigorating.

The enemy vanquished, the battlefield shines with new life.

The energy spread. In each room, the Orcs of Disorder cringed and fled. Even Sonny conquered the couch cushion covers.

“This couch shall be purged of mongrel cat hair,” the Mutt of Might declared.

And, of course, the goddess was everywhere all at once, shaming superheroes, using her awesome powers to shampoo rugs, shelve dishes, straighten beds, launder the laundry, fold clothes, clean windows, recover the couch, and absolutely leave me far behind her astounding trail of dirt decimation.

Thus zooms the goddess.

But I still felt great about finally having thoroughly cleaned that one room. This is my message today. Whether you are an immaculation artist Such as myself, working to perfect a single space, or a Tasmanian Devil lifting the house to vacuum under it, spending some time making your sanctuary sanitary, your spot spotless, your pad pure, or your casa cleansed is a solid defense against the pandemic blues.
So pick a project, any project, and leap in.

I am writing this series to share ways to keep our spirits strong during this test of our humanity, our sense of community, and our faith in life. If you have something similar that works for you (for today, cleaning) please share it in the comments section. Your suggestion might save others right when they need it the most.

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Pandemic Plusses: Sometimes the Simple Things Pull Us Through

Five days in and the pandemic is getting worse. Governors from New York, California, and Illinois are moving to enforce the quarantine in an aggressive effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 after the numbers of sick jumped dramatically again.

Five days in and walking the empty streets of our town without a mask seems so offensive I purchase four of them, and plastic gloves, at one of the few stores still open.

The goddess and I return home and stark reality has burrowed deeper into our psyche. I see it in her beautiful face, that glow of pure love and positive intent is dimmed by the enormity of how much of our lives went away in a matter of days. Our worlds are reduced to our homes, especially this weekend, when we are all asked to simply stay there in an effort to slow this unseen monster.

The goddess wanders the kitchen, from pantry to fridge and back, each step revealing more sadness. And when the goddess is sad my whole world cries. In a truly rare occurrence, she says she doesn’t want to cook. Then after looking at delivery options, it becomes clear none of that appeals either. She roams the kitchen some more, then finally announces, “I’m just going to make pasta and butter.”

She says it with a tone of defeat, but in her hands this simple comfort food is a miracle. The familiar cooking process get her moving with more purpose and seemingly less despair. She makes a huge pot (she’s Sicilian, that’s the law), cooks the pasta al dente, stirs in the butter perfectly, places red hot pepper and cheese on the table should anyone want to add them.

And that’s it. Nothing fancy and everything we need. Each bite warms, reassures, suggests familial love, and home. Home the heartbeat of our lives, not the prison of COVID-19.

A nice bowl of simple pasta, and our world improves. Sometimes that is all it takes. The huge pot emptied quickly, as the goddess’s gifts chased away the blues today.

Sometimes the simplest comfort food is exactly what we need to keep going. What is your go-to comfort food at times of stress? Please share it in the comments below, we all need a bit of comfort right now.

I am writing this series to share ways to keep our spirits strong during this test of our humanity, our sense of community, and our faith in life. If you have something similar that works for you (for today, comfort food) please share it in the comments section below. Your suggestion might save others right when they need it most.

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