What I Did on My Covid Vacation
This post is only tangentially about what I did during the Covid quarantine. We'll all be digging out of this in the next six months, processing the effects upon our children, parents, ourselves. But we're supposed to reflect this time of year, and we should reflect on the year gone by, or share our dreams for the future. An alternative post would be called, What I'd Like to Do When I'm Free to Move About the Cabin (when Covid is no longer a threat).
|BALANCE BOARD, a metaphor? Nah|
Friends, I know that this is going to sound like I had a brief psychotic episode or symptoms of schizophrenia, you decide. It started about five years ago.
Following someone's incarceration for a federal crime, a parent of this person, still positive that her kid would be freed one day, called me to chat. Not unusual, but as we're getting into it she says, "Oh, by the.way, the FBI is listening, just thought you should know. They tap all of our phones and because we're friends, they're tapping yours now, too!"
We call that a snowball sample in research.
What do you say to that kind of news, that your conversations are now an open book?
"Oh, good, no problem, no breach of HIPAA in that, me talking to patients fairly often. LOL."
So every once in awhile we would pause and one of us would say, "Hi FBI! What's up?!! Everything good? Great, now run along."
Now. We've all watched enough television to know what that is like, how it works when the FBI is listening in. We're not talking some guy in a van and a bug planted in a telephone while you're out running an errand. We're talking two guys with headsets in a large room full of similar young men (never women) listening in on the conversations of every day Americans who might be planning a revolution to overthrow the government. Or they might be discussing the merits of buying the bedspread with the blue print over the one in white.
I think the first time I saw the FBI listening in was on The Good Fight starring Christine Baranski, the sequel to The Good Wife, but it might have been The West Wing. The plot in The Good Fight took a dark turn and scared me, which isn't my thing, so I stopped watching and have no idea if they threw Christine into jail or what happened to the plot. Upset me, fine, like in Valley of Tears. But don't scare me.
Fast forward, we've learned quite recently, although the story has been scuttled to a large degree, that Russian intelligence has indeed hacked into all vital US governmental networks. I hope this isn't news to anyone reading. The upshot is that our identities are gone, our financial information is bare, and we should probably be learning Russian in our spare time.
Why bring this up now? Because last night, reviewing all of the projects that I had time to work on these past ten months (not having to commute to work frees up a lot of time), I realized that although I had time to throw out old clothes, rearrange furniture, and indulge my hobbies, like buying a new aquarium and selling the old, I didn't do much writing. Except for scholarly stuff which is really difficult to finish because you're always sweating each sentence for a source. And then, in the process of looking things up, you find new things to learn and read about. So you could say that during the past ten months I learned, and learned, and learned, which is an accomplishment, but actually finishing anything to publish in an academic journal hasn't happened. Not that it won't, we're getting there; it just takes time. This is the reason so many begin their dissertations and never finish.
But more than that, I wasn't in the mood to write for fun. Seven years ago when my mother passed away this blog took a downturn in content. I stopped writing, and now I get why. You need a certain flow in the serotonin to blog well.
Meanwhile, and here's the exciting subplot, in 2017 it became clear that much traffic generated to this blog came here from Russia. That scared me out of blogging. Once you think somebody is reading your email, you get a little reluctant to use that account. There had always been a great deal of comfort in being an anonymous blogger, occasionally changing my so-called real name. Once the email address and feed were compromised, it simply felt dangerous to write and disseminate posts to those of you who subscribed.
Rationally, that's ridiculous. What in this blog is political? Nothing, nothing political, really, nothing subversive or anti-government. And believe me, the diagnosis of the 45th president of the United States did not escape this therapydoc from the get go. The Russians are not listening to us, we're not that important, or reading this blog. But in case they are, we can only hope they like whatever content is coming up this year. Because this year will be different from all others. The blog, and I say this in good faith, shall go on.
It could be about things that have happened, like two recent suicides in my community, or it could be about current events. But more likely I'll write about getting older, pretty sure, not that a lot of people will care. But getting older is shocking. You think back on the milestone birthdays like 16 (half of 32, a friend's mother told me way back when-- trying to get a reaction out of me at 16, which it did, turns out it's a snapshot memory). Forty and fifty are milestones, wrinkles, menopause, divorce, weddings, launching the kids.
But you think to yourself, why did you stress about any of that, fifty being the new forty, blah, blah, blah. Then you round sixty and your senses change and the stress quadruples. You can't hear. You have to get hearing aids. You can't see, need cataract surgery. Your hair goes gray, seemingly over night. But you hate the smell of hair color, have distinct memories from your mother dyeing her hair and closing the bathroom door.
You become invisible except to others who are going through similar metamorphoses. You're strolling (with a mask, naturally) and you pass another silver-haired woman who is working on her lawn, raking, also wearing a mask. She's seemingly robust, and you silently nod to one another, acknowledging that the two of you could have been in high school together suggesting to the teacher that you would rather read anything by Jack Kerouac and Samuel Beckett than Silas Marner,* and now you're both thinking that the vision of getting the stinking virus is like looking death in the eye. You want to talk to her about that and ask, So how's it working for you, worrying about an early demise. But you nod and stroll on.
So yes, there's a lot to talk about. I feel like I could be back. I'm in a good mood, hoping for a vaccination, hoping to see people in real time, real space in a couple of months, maybe get on a plane. But even working on Zoom, there's much to talk about-- like how great it is to stand up while I'm working, stretch, balance on a balance board. You can't do that when you work in an office and a patient is sitting on the sofa across from you.
The Zoom blogging material is here. Like the patient who never stops telling me how she likes a blouse from decades ago, or how I look today or my haircut (naturally, my hair). The patient is a heterosexual female, not objectifying me in that way, but it bothers me. I've mentioned it to her but she can't help it. It's like people who always say that they are sorry when there's nothing to be sorry about, a hard habit to break. We could talk about that, that even the nicest people in the world can upset a therapist who gets impatient and has to call another therapist and vent. What the heck? But the patient has no idea that my sideline is sexual harassment prevention and objectification is a trigger.
Hey, FBI, we good?
*I'm ordering a copy from the library right now.