Archive | April 2020

Relieved and Yet Horrified

Things in this pandemic can change at the drop of a hat. I have never seen anything like it.

First, I am relieved that I no longer believe Trump has any ability whatsoever to win a second term. His disinfection-injection comment was not sarcastic, as anyone who has actually seen it knows. And it could not be taken out of context because it was his context. It would be like the queen of England at Buckingham Palace, talking to reporters on live TV, not taking any questions, and then complaining her comments were taken out of context. Trump was literally home when he said what he said. He was not responding to a reporter. There was no back-and-forth, to-and-fro banter. He was at his podium in his residence. He is not the “stable genius” he claims to be. Now everyone knows he is a paranoid idiot. There is simply no recovering from those comments–ever.

The reason the comments are so permanently damaging is because they are emblematic of him. They take the worst aspects of his personality and coronate the caricature his political enemies have as common knowledge. His political enemies are now seen as experts and accurate in their assessments. His defenders now look as stupid as he has proven himself to be. To defend an idiot only proves that one is one. To defend the indefensible and dangerous only destroys one’s own reputation. Republicans can now either defend Trump and lose more people’s respect or they can try to distance themselves from Trump. I am looking forward to Trump crashing people’s rallies he was not invited to and then wanting to have his picture taken with them as they visibly try to pull away. Awkward.

There is no way for him to win again. There were two types of people that voted for Trump in 2016; actual Trump supporters and Hillary-haters. Hillary is not on any ballot anywhere now. Trump will try to change the topic to Hillary or Hunter Biden. That will be hilarious. Hillary can go on a speaking tour, saying whatever comes to her mind, and torture Trump. This coronavirus crisis is the only measuring stick against which Trump will be judged. Not Mrs. Clinton’s emails or the junior Biden’s behavior.  He wanted it to be all about him. Congratulations. It worked. I truly believe that a well-dressed hamster could beat Trump in November. I don’t know of any Biden-haters. I feel so much better. I am very relieved.

Here is my horror: tracking and tracing the virus. This is what nobody is talking about. It is not possible. It, like all viruses as far as I know, can be spread asymptomatically. People without symptoms cannot get tested. This is not sexually transmitted. It took AIDS researchers years to figure out that a virus was responsible. They figured it out because of the French-Canadian airline steward Gaetan Dugas. Someone had sex with someone who had sex with someone who had sex with Dugas. He was responsible for much of the initial infections on both coasts. Some people call him “Patient Zero,” but obviously someone gave it to him first. However, the coronavirus is not an STD. When I go to Meijer to buy groceries and the place is packed, I cannot give you the name of anyone I come within six feet of. It just doesn’t work like that. I wish. Talking about tracking a virus that cannot be tracked sounds like a fool’s errand to me. We need to do what is possible (social distancing, wearing masks, etc.) and not waste our time with activities that yield so little results. I so wish there was more we could do besides testing and social distancing.


Who Cares if They Die? We All Should

This week has been horrifyingly entertaining.

Mitch McConnell basically said that states should have to declare bankruptcy and that it would probably be the Democratic (blue) states that did so. To all of those front-line workers in NY hospitals, fire departments, etc., he basically said it was okay for you to die. A high percentage of these first responders are black and brown people. Many Republican governors have been far too cavalier with the lives of their citizens, saying that some of these people would be willing to give their lives to help their economy. Give me names of the people you are willing to sacrifice for the sake of the economy. I dare you.

There is a word for this: genocide. The Wisconsin election proved my point. There was a massive line with people trying to keep distant from each other. A judge had ruled that people should have to go to vote in person and risk their lives as opposed to voting in safety with mail-in votes. I believe the idea was that black and brown voters would not risk their lives to vote. That judge was wrong. Some of the voters even carried signs that said they were being forced to risk their lives to vote. I thought, at the time, that perhaps they were being a tad over-dramatic. I was wrong. There has been an outbreak that can be traced directly to that day of voting. These voters were spot-on. The conservative candidate for judge was handily defeated. One thing you have to understand about black people: they are accustomed to risking their lives to vote. The attempt to suppress their voting rights started after Reconstruction. They know the deal.

Then there was Trump saying that perhaps people could inject disinfectant or radiate their bodies with UV light as treatments for coronavirus. What he said was absolutely not sarcastic. Watch the footage. Anyone could see that he was clearly proud of his ideas and felt that others obviously did not understand the brilliant nature of his ideas. My maternal grandfather died of metastasized skin cancer. The application of UV light to the skin is moronic, unless you want skin cancer. I am a massive believer in sunscreen. My fear is that some Trumper is going to get the coronavirus, inject Clorox or Lysol, and die. If the President suggested it, it must be a good idea, right? This is natural selection at work. You can’t make this stuff up.

And the defenders of Trump are not helping his cause. Dr. Birx went on Fox News and said that he was “just thinking out loud.” That’s not smart. That’s called “having no filter.” Anyone with any authority whatsoever simply cannot think out loud, unless they are looking to lose their job.  Thinking out loud is what four-year-olds do. Most of us learn better by the time we reach adulthood. Another Trump defender said that he was “thinking outside the box” and that that’s what “good chief executives do.” False. I once had a minister that would hear someone say something about Baptists, Mormons, Catholics, or whomever, and then proceed to preach whatever he was told the following Sunday. Of course, God has a way of orchestrating this, and a Baptist, Mormon, Catholic, or whatever, would be sitting in the congregation listening. This person would know that the minister was full of crap. There was a small group of us that would take the minister aside and tell him, “Please fact-check yourself before you preach something someone told you. Your information was inaccurate and your credibility just took a serious hit.” When one holds real authority and spouts nonsense, everyone knows it and the authority figure’s credibility ends immediately and permanently. There can be no leadership from someone that doesn’t know what they are talking about and everyone knows it.

The day after the scientific debacle, Trump took no questions. When I saw that, I thought, “The press conferences may be over.” He practically ran out of the room like a dog with his tail tucked between his legs. I am 52 years old and have never seen that in my life. I almost laughed. Wow.

The next time my parents quote Trump I am going to say I might as well inject myself with bleach. Would they even be smart enough to understand what I was saying? I have no assurance of that. I alternate between wanting to laugh and cry. What on earth can come next?

An Open Letter to Governor Whitmer

Dear Governor,

I live in Lansing. I see that you just extended the stay-at-home order to May 15. Here is what I want from you: a very clear plan as to how the state will reopen and in what order. Simply, endlessly extending the order is going to spark more protests.

Here is the vicious cycle. People are on their last nerve. No one can debate that. They are losing their jobs. So they protest, which, as you have pointed out, creates a spike in cases and forces the extension of the stay-at-home order. So then they go even crazier and protest more… My opinion is that, if Trump had taken this seriously from the beginning, we would be on the verge of opening everything up right about now. His fiddling while Rome burned made it impossible, in my opinion, to ever truly get the virus under control. He dumped all the responsibility on the governors and, at this point, there are zero good options. Now we have fifty separate kingdoms trying to balance the survival of their citizens with the financial disaster that is kicking all our butts.

You need to be the sane one. People need to know at least some of what’s coming next. There needs to be a light at the end of the tunnel–even if it is a train.


Cynthia Hoag, Michigan Native and Resident


Voluntary Guinea Pigs

Some states are opening up for business in some limited ways. Some of it is absurd. For example, hair salons and tattoo parlors are opening up in Georgia. How do you maintain six feet of distance between you and your hairstylist? (On a slightly different, but equally absurd note, motor boating in Michigan is prohibited. People are throwing fits about their right to fish. Their complaint is not valid. You can totally fish–from the shore or bridge or you can kayak or paddle your boat to the middle of the lake. Why human-propulsion is okay but motoring is forbidden mystifies me.)

What is fascinating is watching Michigan drop down the list of states with the most coronavirus infections. Which states are flying up the list? The red states, particularly in the South, with Republican governors that have no concern for the health of their citizens. But this is what their residents want. People are demanding their right to go back to work and get their lives back to normal. Some of these states are seeing their infection rates increase exponentially. If these people want to infect themselves, I am good with that. But they don’t have the right to infect the rest of us. I will color and trim my own hair if need be.

All of this is so fascinating because it is like watching a variation of the AIDS crisis. AIDS and the coronavirus started on the coasts, NY and CA or WA, and worked their way inward. Do you know where the epicenter of the AIDS crisis is today? The Southern states, the ones that don’t believe in real comprehensive sex-ed or condoms. San Francisco has its AIDS problem under control, as does NYC. Atlanta is the new San Francisco of AIDS infections. Fascinating.

I will never forget the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Blacks and gays screamed, “You just wait until AIDS is as common among white heterosexuals as it is amongst Blacks and gays! Then you’ll care.” Problem? It never happened. Conservative whites had a stronger moral foundation, apparently, than Blacks or gays. This is where the conservative emphasis on individual responsibility literally saved their lives. Blacks and gays were waiting for white conservatives to develop this thing called “empathy” for their fellow human beings. Once again, it never happened.

What is the difference between the coronavirus and HIV? Coronavirus is not sexually transmitted. Having morals ain’t gonna save you this time around.

Now it’s 2020 and I’m watching this virus flock to the red states, just like HIV. I am a-ok with these states trying out early openings. I can watch, safely from a distance, how this all plays out. I wonder if watching their own families and friends die will help these conservatives to develop some empathy or just help them to give a crap about others. Nah. Probably not.

Coping the Best We Can

People are losing it. However, I am doing better. Somehow, I always manage to do the opposite of what others are doing. When there are jobs galore, I can’t buy one. When everything is shut down, I suddenly have a possible opportunity and a job I am simply waiting for everyone to go back to. If you are up, I am down, and vice versa. I don’t know how it works.

Here is my surprise upside. I have been using this time to dig deep and try to resolve psychological issues. A few days ago, I did a shame healing meditation on You Tube. I knew I had truly brought stuff up because I was crying. By the end, I felt so much lighter. I had developed a real compassion for the little kid that was me. I finished the meditation and got on my computer. I saw an email from the career services lady from my alma mater, DU. I had not heard from her in over a year and a half. When some local employer had an opportunity, they contacted her and she immediately thought of me. I wondered how much, if anything, had changed with the meditation. I felt the chest-caving feeling of shame and overwhelm, as usual, but perhaps something had changed. So I called my psychoanalyst. I called her in the evening. We talked it through and I felt like I had some high-class problems. The next day, I updated my resume and applied. I’m not saying I will get it, but it was huge progress and it happened instantly after doing the meditation. I felt like an energy shift had occurred.

But others are going crazy. The other day, some of my less sane fellow Michiganders protested the common-sense social-distancing measures imposed by Governor Whitmer. Of course, they were Trump supporters and proud of their lack of compliance with scientific reality. They crowded onto the lawn of the capitol. It was funny to watch. Some of these people are going to get sick and die and their contracting of the coronavirus will be traced to this precise protest. True Darwin Award winners. I am not worried about those people. They are doing themselves in.

The people I am concerned about are all the people going crazy in their homes with few coping skills. I am thinking about people getting drunk or the ongoing opioid epidemic that didn’t go anywhere. I saw a blurb on CNN saying that alcohol makes people more susceptible to the virus and makes it harder to fight once infected. I believe it. Then there are my upstairs neighbors not getting along. I would rather hear their bed squeaking than hear them screaming at each other. Think domestic violence. Addiction. Not getting your psychoactive meds refilled. What could possibly go wrong? Let me count the ways….

One of the things I am learning is that anything you don’t do consciously and deliberately, you do subconsciously and compulsively. I don’t recall the website I saw it on, but I found this quote, “Shame is linked to the need for protecting the vulnerable child.” When I was able to have empathy for the kid I once was, something changed. I didn’t need the shame so much. What the hell needs are those protesters fulfilling? What makes a person defy common sense, put themselves (and their families and the rest of us, for that matter) at risk and cram themselves on the capitol lawn when it is breezy and in the upper thirties? I don’t get it.

One good thing I thought of: my oldest brother’s son is probably home from MSU and perhaps my brother won’t drink himself to death, after all. That offers me some hope. And we could all use some of that right now.

Thinking About Suffering

With everything and everyone at a standstill, I have all the time in the world to think about my feelings and those of everyone else. I have been trying to use this time to allow repressed feelings to arise so I can feel and deal with them as much as possible before going back to work.

I have heard that alcohol sales are way up. I believe it because when I go to Meijer, the person in front of me will have a case of beer and the the person behind me will have a couple boxes of wine.  I think about my oldest brother that I have always considered to be an alcoholic. What always kept him at least semi-functional was the fact that he always had a family to to support. His youngest now goes to MSU. There are no kids living at home and I cannot imagine him without a beer in his hand. I hope he is not being too much of an ass to his wife. There are probably no DUIs being issued anywhere, not because people aren’t drinking, but because they aren’t driving.

What I wonder about is all the people you don’t see. Think about your relatives and neighbors that you have never been close to. We have all been told to not contact our doctors unless we have these very specific symptoms of coronavirus. All elective procedures have been postponed. But something that started out elective may become an emergency. Not everything can be postponed indefinitely. How many people are dying at home, with or without the virus, that we won’t know about until the restrictions are lifted or their corpses start to stink?

How many people are going to be ready to hit the ground running when the economy re-opens? Not everyone will be fully functioning at this rate.

People are suffering, but some of it is self-induced.

But better than suffering alleviation is suffering prevention. This is where morality and self-control come into play.

Perhaps it is okay if the economy opens back up. It would be fast-forward, evolutionarily-speaking. I just hate the idea of unnecessary bullshit suffering. What I want is a serology test to see if I have antibodies to the virus. I think that is the key to getting everything re-started.

I just don’t know how to make anything better whatsoever.

Darwin Award Winners

I saw a conservative Christian television personality talking about how paranoid young millenials are about the coronavirus. He was saying that he was out buying something and noticed that the market square was filled with older people and empty of younger people. The gist of his message was that the younger people were unnecessarily scared  about the coronavirus and the older folks were more mature and out and about enjoying life. The message I personally received was that the younger people were science-believing, reality-embracing people and the older folks were not very bright or concerned about their own or anyone else’s health. Who will survive? It doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out.

I see this crisis as a moment in human evolution, culling the herd. The most efficient way to do it is to allow others to do it to themselves.

A Darwin Award is given to someone who either renders themselves unable to reproduce or just plain dead due to their own stupidity, thereby taking themselves out of the gene pool. Nobody did it to them. They are not victims.

When I saw the Florida governor do a shelter-in-place order and then proceed to make an exception for religious services, I just laughed. Perfect. Protect everyone but the most vulnerable. These churches are crammed with senior citizens in a state my dad refers to as “God’s waiting room.” Wow. Florida has a Republican governor, just like absolutely every single state that does not have a shelter-in-place order. But give it a few months and it won’t have enough Republican voters to tip any election ever again. I’m good with that.

The problem is that, in the meantime, we are all imperiled by their stupidity. They are not just putting themselves at risk. It is not just about them. Reality is that we are all connected, like it or not.

There are no good answers to this crisis. However, I’m staying home as much as possible, not for my protection, but for everyone else’s. That is common sense, that’s all.

Crying Wolf?

One of my assumptions in life is that others also are dealing with the exact same problems I am.

I need something, anything, to look forward to. Sometimes, that translates into finding an interesting book on Amazon and awaiting its arrival. I am getting itchy to go to the grocery store. My issue is that every time I get a timeline for when to go back to work, it gets pushed out. This does not work in the long term.

People can do anything for a limited amount of time. What people cannot tolerate long-term is having no light at the end of the tunnel. The continuing moving of the goal posts gets old fast. April 12, April 19, April 30. Not acceptable. People will simply start to disregard all the guidelines because there is no end in sight.

The problem with panic and fear is that they are not maintainable. The fight or flight response can maybe last a week or two, not go on endlessly, month after month. People will follow any rule for a definite period of time, but not for an indefinite period of time. Panic precedes exhaustion and then comes the not-giving-a-damn phase. I reached that phase with Barry. Huntington’s! Head and neck cancer! Prostate cancer! It’s like being an ER nurse. If everything is an emergency, then nothing is actually an emergency. This is the bottom-line mental health issue. Emotional exhaustion is not a great way to get America back on its feet.

Something will, of necessity, fall to the bottom of the priority list. We’ve all had bosses that try to induce a sense of urgency by making everything a top priority. It backfires. It quickly turns into a joke.

You can’t cry wolf for the next six months–even there is a wolf five feet away eating Grandpa. The coronavirus is real. It will be devastating for certain populations. We all need to get back to work. However, if we go back to work without everyone being tested first, all we are doing is spreading the virus and making the situation much, much worse.

My point? Everyone needs to get tested immediately. Then those that test positive can be separated from the vulnerable populations. But continuing to extend the quarantining indefinitely is a good way to make everyone blatantly disregard all common sense warnings. There needs to be a light at the end of the tunnel–even if it is a train.