California

It’s Alright Even If It’s Not All Right

People congregating! Oakland 2019.

By now, I think we have learned that there are two kinds of people when it comes to staying at home. The first category of people say, “I am doing great, enjoying this time to relax and slow down. I am calling my friends on zoom and doing online yoga!”

The second category of people say “Oh yeah, well, I was kind of down yesterday but I am better today. Lots of people have it much worse than me. We’ll get through this, no problem.”  If you are in the first category, please know that the people in the second category are actually thinking “I am going out of my mind.”

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Morning Adventure With Little Plastic Folder

Wood block print by Munakata Shiko

Our world is redefining the idea of adventure I think, and small things are getting more interesting by the minute. I had an adventure with a small thing this morning. It began with a search for a coaster for my coffee mug. I was starting to feel that my use of paper towels as coasters was wasteful and not very attractive. And, you know, I was trying to maintain a semblance of civility on Day 3 without a shower.  So I routed around in a bag of small odds and ends I had picked up in my travels and I found something that I could use as a coaster. It was a little plastic folder. Here it is:

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O Brave New World

“The Tempest” by John William Waterhouse depicts Miranda watching the shipwreck in Act 1 of Shakespeare’s play.

In the Bay Area, it’s a great day to stay inside, and that’s what we were going to do anyway. It’s raining with wind, like this stormy time in our history, reminding me that I have wanted to learn about Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest.”  So I did some research and, as always, I found much more than I expected, including a poetic reference to a bat.

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The Sky With Diamonds

Lake Merritt, Oakland, California

I used to think the title of the Beatles’ song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” meant Lucy was taking diamonds into the sky. But now I think it means Lucy is going into a sky that already has diamonds. I changed my mind about this after I realized why the air in my Bay Area home feels different. It has sparkles in it!  The natural beauty here is covered in a light that our proximity to the ocean makes glittery.

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Freedom Riders

Eastman Johnson: A Ride for Liberty- circa 1862

I recently came across a reminder of a simple act of defiance that changed history. In 1517, Martin Luther tacked a document called the 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenburg Castle church. The 95 Theses questioned the foundations  of the all-powerful Catholic church. Most specifically, the document challenged the church’s practice of “indulgences,” payments made by believers as a way to enter heaven. Indulgences empowered the church and enriched the church elite, mostly at the expense of the poor.

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Shelter for the Storm

Laura Sierra’s house in San Miguel de Allende, Murals painted by her and Pepe Rodriguez.

When I was 11, my mother said, apparently out of the blue, “You know, sometimes we don’t know how we are going to pay all the bills. When that happens, your dad and I write a check to the homeless shelter. It reminds us how fortunate we are.”  I am still thanking her for that expression of my parents’ sense of community and humanity. Continue reading

Who’s a Good Boy?

Some people are actually happy about the current situation. They aren’t profiting from other people’s anxiety or misery, and they don’t think this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for epidemiological research. Best of all, they understand whatever we are feeling and will do their best to make us feel better.

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Behind the Masks

Melissa and Rory doing self-care masks

Lots of talk these days about masks and not in a good way….Masks seem to have become a symbol of failed leadership. This is another one of those deals where, if we aren’t paying attention, the moment could change our associations with something that is more than a technical solution to a public health problem.

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