Thursday, October 14, 2021

We're gonna go to space, kid

There, feat for quantum leap Because space is hot and deep And we follow giant footprints As we fall in, falling like the twins Through Saturn's holy rings And if they can't hold us, where it's gonna end up Anybody knows

Wasted, there's nothing gonna ace this

And we're gonna go to space, kid

'Cause I'm leaving with an astronaut


~~ “Astronaut” by Duran Duran



In a stroke of PR genius, Jeff Bezos asked 90-year-old William Shatner to join the latest flight of the Blue Origin spacecraft.


Millions watched “Captain Kirk” finally make a trip to space. He’s now an astronaut for real, although when asked about that, he demurred, saying, “Maybe with a small A. Followed by two S’s.” (I thought that was funny!)


What was truly remarkable was after they landed safely and he tried to articulate how it made him feel. Those of us with an introspective bent understood completely his awe, his difficulty at describing how profoundly it touched him. Who knew that Bill Shatner could be so philosophical? 


He related it to how precious and fragile our Earth is and how we need to take care of her. He wished everyone could have that experience in order to see that. As one tends to do as one gets older (and he’s got a good 30 years on me!), he looked at our atmosphere and saw light and lightness and LIFE, and then gazed into the blackness of space and wondered if that was what death was like. 


I’m not ashamed to admit that it made me cry and I know I’m not the only one. Seeing this typically cocky actor try to explain his profound feelings made so many of us feel his awe and joy. It was apparently a life-changing moment for him and we all experienced his epiphany vicariously. I’ve had the occasional epiphany myself and I know that it can be life-altering. I loved it that he felt that, even at the age of 90. 


It was also special for me because from the time I was in high school, watching “Star Trek” reruns when I got home from school, I loved the show. It still means a lot to me and I’m still a fan. We watch all the shows currently out, always go to see a new Trek movie in the theater, and even still watch an episode of the original series (it will always be my favorite). We’ve even gone to several Trek exhibits over the years.


I’ve written before that “Star Trek” taught me about inclusion and helped me realize that it was important to learn about other cultures. That we don’t always need to fear “the Other.” It also gave me a love of science because rather than the bombastic Captain Kirk, I was drawn to Spock and to Bones. (Although Kirk had his own interesting tactics, including breaking the rules. I liked that, too. Kobayashi Maru, anyone?)


Some talking heads and other science types have said that these flights are the beginning of commercial space travel. I think they’re right. How many people got to fly on airplanes when they first started? It was a rich person’s game. Now they’re accessible to almost everyone. While it probably won’t happen in my remaining lifetime, I think we’ll start seeing more of this. 


There are many critics of these billionaires and their “vanity flights.” I get it. The amount of money they have is obscene. But just as with the NASA flights, unexpected and important scientific findings will come from these. I’m not sure it’s an entirely bad thing that these are being privately funded. Obviously, NASA is still vital to our country and scientific development, but if these people have the money and the passion, I say, “go for it.” 


Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to pack my bags tonight pre-flight. 



Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Undergoing Treatment at Home

We are undergoing treatment

But will the doctors ever cure

These delusions of grandeur?


~~ "Undergoing Treatment” by Duran Duran


NBC News recently posted an article about how people are refusing treatment at hospitals and even pulling family members out of ICUs so that they can treat them at home. With veterinary medicine used as an anti-parasitic drug in animals. 


While Ivermectin has been approved for use in humans as an anti-helminth (specifically roundworms), it is NOT approved for any other use in humans. But there is a big run on Ivermectin paste online, bad enough that veterinarians are running out of the treatment to give their patients.

There are websites that recommend how to eat Ivermectin paste so that it is more palatable. Spread it on crackers, make a sandwich out of it.


Do these people have any idea of how unhinged and how stupid they sound?

Anti-vax idiot Jenny McC (I refuse to type her full name here) once said that her degree for disputing the safety of vaccines was the “University of Google.” Well, let me say a few things about that, honey. 


Fuck your University of Google bullshit. First of all, there is no such thing. 


Second of all, some of us actually went to college to study this stuff. My degree was a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology. I took three years of classes that were almost identical to pre-med courses, then spent twelve months in an internship in a hospital where we got lectures in the morning from technologists and pathologists and then spent the afternoons working in the lab. I had to pass a nationwide registry exam and I took the same oath that doctors and nurses take, to first do no harm. 


So let me say it again: fuck your University of Google “degree.” 


You don’t know shit about fuck (to quote the inimitable Ruthie from “Ozark”). You have no concept of basic scientific facts. You have no idea how to interpret a scientific paper. You cherrypick data that is dubious, and everything you find to supposedly back up your claims is easily debunked by anyone with even a rudimentary background in science. 


I am sick of your bullshit.


It’s bad enough that you are harming yourselves. What is unconscionable to me is that you are harming your own loved ones, you are harming young children, and you are harming elderly people like my Mom and immunocompromised people like my husband. And you know what? You are really harshing my fun times. I haven’t been to a concert for well over a year and I am pissed off about it. 


The Americans screaming about their freedoms? They’re the ones who are prolonging this pandemic because they are refusing to get vaccinated. Instead, they seem to think that bogus treatments and cures are the way to go. I don’t think I ever realized until this year just how goddamn stupid people can be. I had my suspicions but this is beyond stupid. 


This is dangerous and it can be deadly. 


I’m mad. 



Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Everything will change forever

When I interface
Difference erase
Nothing will remain
Everything will change forever
Viral subdivide
Target and align
The message will survive
Everything will change forever
Boohoo, haha

“Virus” by Duran Duran


Way back in the Days of Yore (2008), I wrote an entry about the 1918-19 Influenza pandemic (
AKA the Spanish Flu). 


It dismays me to know that the Covid pandemic has now surpassed the official death toll of that pandemic. The counts from then are underestimated; they undoubtedly are for this pandemic, too. 


I’ve been predicting a pandemic for some time now. I take no pleasure in being right. I was wrong about it being a possible deadly strain of influenza. Instead, it was worse: a completely novel strain of virus that is highly infectious in humans. (Coronaviruses are not new. This strain is.) 


I knew this was going to be hard to write and it’s making me too sad. I’ll take a break and come back to it. 


**The next day**


I apologize for pulling a Scarlett, but today really is another day. Like...well, pretty much everyone...I find myself very emotional about the whole thing. I’m a listmaker, so I’ll make a couple here. First, the sad stuff. Things I feel that we’ve lost. 


  1. First and foremost, almost 680,000 Americans and over 4.5 million worldwide. These are staggering numbers. Those people are not coming back. A relative of ours was one of them. I’ve had friends who have gotten terribly ill and those who survive run the risk of “long-haul” syndrome, which sounds awful. What was the potential of those who were lost or have long-lasting disabilities? What might they have accomplished in their lives? What did the world lose?

  2. So many have lost their livelihoods and/or their homes. Thanks to the Covid stimulus package (thanks, Joe!), unemployment has dropped. 

  3. Numerous businesses have been shuttered. We’ve seen plenty in our own community. We’ve done our best to support as many of our favorite places as possible, including ordering carryout, buying gift cards to be used later, etc. But there are some that were just unable to weather the shutdown.

  4. Time. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m not getting any younger and there’s a lot of things I miss and want to do again: concerts are the main thing! That goes two ways, too. I watched an interview today with my beloved John Taylor of my beloved Duran Duran, and he said that they were all jonesin’ for concert dates. For a lot of performers, it’s not just a matter of revenue. For some, it’s what they DO. It’s how they get their creative energy and what makes them want to keep doing that thing they do. 

  5. One of the things I mourn the most is that we seem to have lost our sense of societal good. The misinformation campaign on the part of some outlets (and yes, I’m looking at you, FOX “NEWS”) and the absurd politicization of this pandemic is utterly dismaying to see. I honestly have no idea what happened to the concept of being a part of a civilized society and doing your best to help others. If some of these jerks were on the Titanic, they’d be pushing little kids overboard in order to get their spot in the lifeboat. This is abhorrent to me and goes against everything I’ve learned in my life and in my career in healthcare.

  6. This relates to the previous item. I feel like we’ve all lost a sense of boundless optimism and the feeling that we could meet any obstacle and overcome it...if we all worked together. Maybe even a sense of innocence, in feeling that the majority of people are innately good and will do the right thing when they are called to do so. I know that I certainly feel more jaded and cynical than I ever have in my life. And that’s sad to me. 


That’s a short list, really. There are so many other things, but I try not to dwell on those things for too long. (#5 is one that can make me terribly angry and that is not a good place for me to be right now.) So what can I possibly find in all this that is even somewhat positive? I can always suss out a few. 


  1. Telecommuting/Telemedicine. This will change commute times at least a bit and that’s better for people’s well-being as well as for the environment. If your job isn’t a hands-on one, chances are good that you can work from home at least one day a week. A doctor’s visit for non-threatening maladies is probably not needed (sorry, hypochondriacs) and it frees medical staff up to attend to those who are in more serious need of care.

  2. A greater appreciation (at least for many of us) of workers who still had to go to work. That includes my fellow lab people, all medical workers, people like my stepdaughter who works retail, her boyfriend who works in delivery, and Cousin Shane who goes in every day to the Post Office to deliver all the crap so many of us started ordering online! All of them have to put up with stupid customers who flaunt mask rules and get downright belligerent. I would have snapped long ago. 

  3. Related: higher wages for minimum-wage workers. This up-ended the market and there are plenty who have chosen to say “take this job and shove it,” or have demanded a higher wage and better benefits. Good for them! Others have stayed home out of necessity for childcare. Some will have you believe that the lack of staffing has to do with the unemployment benefits that were extended by the federal government. The data show that was not the case, so don’t toss that crap my way.

  4. Some people have a greater appreciation for and understanding of science. Let’s focus on them rather than the dumbasses chowing down on anti-parasitic veterinary drug canap├ęs, okay? For Pete’s sake. What the hell is wrong with these people? 

  5. Okay, I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel now. Some days I feel more optimistic than others. Uhh...binge-watching! Lots of good TV and movies to catch up on. Also (for me) getting totally absorbed in various bands. For a while, it was Steep Canyon Rangers, and it’s currently Duran Duran. Music is often my salvation and I’ve certainly been feeling that more acutely the past couple of years. Oh, and online concerts. Did a few of those. Also a few online lectures from Notre Dame. See? Several good things bundled into one!

  6. Gardening/Cooking. Tending to my little deck garden this summer and getting good stuff from it was very therapeutic. I wasn’t super adventurous with my cooking but when you mostly stop eating out, it’s fun to try a few different things and see how they work out. I don’t think I had any massive failures in the kitchen (except for eating quite a bit later than planned—learning how to use the Instant Pot!), and comfort food levels were off the chart at Nutwood. 


Look at me! Six items for both good/bad lists! It’s not like I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on things. [eye roll] I’ve always had a contemplative bent and that has been a blessing and a curse during this whole thing. 


I don’t know how all this will play out. I do know that because of a minority of the population, this is going to continue for a while and that more people will die. I wish I could slap the recalcitrant ones silly, but I’m too busy doing my best to NOT SPREAD COVID. I remain hopeful for next year. We’ll start getting kids vaccinated (vaccine mandates are a story for another day) and those who refuse to get it? Well, I guess we know what will happen to a lot of them, don’t we? But what’s maddening is that they pose a risk to others. Also a story for another day, and a rage highway that I don’t want to travel down right now. 


I’ll post this Duran Duran video (some of the lyrics are quoted at the start of this entry) and the irony is not lost on me. The lyrics are eerily accurate. As President Joe would say, “Here’s the deal.” Viruses don’t give a fuck about your political alignment. Their prime directive is to infect as many people as possible in order to proliferate. “Difference erase.” If you refuse to get the vaccine because of whatever dumb freedoms you feel you’re entitled to or whatever misinformation you’ve been fed and that you have stupidly believed, the virus says, “Boohoo, haha.” 



Sunday, March 21, 2021

Extra

 



(Painting by the badass Niagara)


Like most people, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect over the past year. I’ve always been one to ponder but a year like this has put my pondering into overdrive. 

One thing I’ve realized is that I’m a little bit “extra.” Maybe more than a little. There have been some interactions over the years where I realized I was too much for some people to handle. I don’t know if it’s my enthusiasm, or my intensity, or my low tolerance for bullshit. My weird sense of humor? How opinionated I am? My foul mouth? All of the above? Fuck if I know. 

But like The Black Crowes sang, I guess I’m too hard to handle for some. 

I seem to mostly notice it in guys. I’ve got a group of ride or die girlfriends (we call ourselves the Wolfpack, for reasons unknown—hey, ladies!) and we’ve had this discussion. We’re all strong women, raunchy as all get-out, outspoken...and we get along great. We find the fragile male ego amusing at times. Three out of four of us are vertically challenged (except for the long-legged Vegas bombshell!) but we’ve all had the experience of intimidating men. 

I think we’ve probably all been called names, from bitch to ball-breaker to...well, I’ve been called a coldhearted c***. Because we speak our minds. (Let me give a shout-out here to my stalwart husband, who takes my outspokenness in stride and seems to have figured out how to peacefully coexist, even in Quarantimes™.)

Being a strong woman doesn’t mean emasculating men. It means asserting our own right to speak up and be heard, and that includes when we’re being interrupted or mansplained to. Gee, so sorry I’m not a shy, retiring flower, but if you do that to me or treat me in a condescending manner, you’re gonna have a bad time. In addition to a long-suffering husband, I am fortunate to have plenty of friends—both male and female, online and in real life—who are also capable of taking me in stride. 

But you know what? I wouldn’t change. I don’t think I could. I’m honestly a mellow person, content to hang out and enjoy my peace and quiet, but I have my passions. I know I put people off sometimes because I’m a little too much...but I’d rather be that way than coast through life not feeling passionate about anything. It kind of separates the wheat from the chaff, too. If you hang out with me, chances are good you’ll have a fun time. If I’m too much for you, that’s your choice. [shrug] 


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

An Act of Charity



I suppose it’s human nature to try to find the positive aspects in this past year of shutdown. And there are several, there really are. I appreciate every good thing that has happened and I’m happy that we haven’t lost any close family members. But it’s been rough in a lot of ways, no matter who we are or what we’re going through. It’s hardest on those who have lost loved ones, no doubt about that, and I still haven’t fully processed the losses in our country and around the world. 


One positive thing for me is that the University of Notre Dame and other local colleges have made so many lectures available online. Most of those lectures have always been open to the public, but how convenient is it to sit at home and have a beverage while you attend a lecture? Pretty darn convenient, if you ask me. 


So I’ve taken advantage of that (I get updates and notices via the ThinkND newsletter—anyone can join!) and there have been some interesting discussions. I really enjoyed one from the curator of the Snite Museum of Art, in which he talked about a painting in their collection by Grace Hartigan. A beautiful Abstract Expressionist piece and a much-needed infusion of art! 




The most thought-provoking lecture happened last week. It was called “The Covid Vaccine: Good Science and Science for the Human Good.” 


It wasn’t quite what I expected, although I should have. Notre Dame is a Catholic university, after all. My first clue was when the discussion opened with a prayer. Hooo boy. Was this for me? I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did. 


There were several presenters: one was a science professor who talked about the mechanisms of vaccine development, including which cell lines are used (hint: one is a cell line that’s been in existence for decades, and it’s from human fetal tissue); one was an ethics and philosophy professor who talked about whether it was ethical and in line with Catholic teachings to use something that uses cells from aborted fetuses, whether induced or spontaneous; one was a young seminarian who continued the theme of whether the Catholic church could condone this. 


Well. As I’m sure you all know, I am firmly pro-choice. There are many nuances there but that’s not what this entry is about. While I don’t believe anything could make me change my mind on that, it made me think about how and why some people would object to scientific research using fetal tissue or cell lines. I don’t agree with that, but I saw it from their perspective in a way I hadn’t thought about before. (I still think that is short-sighted, but I get it a little better now.)


After much discussion, all three presenters concluded that not only was it ethical to get the vaccine, it was a “moral imperative.” There was much convoluted, philosophical discussion of how far you were removed from the “evil” of abortion (their word, not mine), whether saving thousands of lives negated the “original evil” of the abortion that resulted in the cell line, the fact that for the Pfizer vaccine, that particular cell line is not used in production, merely quality control. (The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does use a fetal tissue cell line in production, but it is a long-established cell line, not that from a recent abortion.) 


One of the presenters used the phrase in the title of this entry: getting the vaccine is an act of charity to humanity. Getting it is for the greater good of society. 


It seemed like a really long way to get to what I already knew. But it made me think about it from a different perspective and I found that it really made me think and put myself in their shoes. They were quite uncomfortable shoes for me, but hey, it’s always good to think about things from another viewpoint. You might not feel the same way, but at least you can say, “Okay...I get where you’re coming from.” 


The seminarian also discussed the rise of conspiracy theories, about the vaccine and in general. He said something that I found very interesting. That sometimes the best thing to do is to let people do their own research. He called it “reading yourself out of the rabbit hole.” His point was that when we try to argue with people who believe those things, they just dig in deeper (that’s been my experience, too). That doesn’t solve the problem because most people who believe that nonsense aren’t going to seek out alternative views. But maybe some will. 


The latter is part of the reason I have come to the decision to not engage with those who are refusing to get the vaccine for whatever reason they’ve landed upon. I could probably easily refute all of those reasons, but will they listen? Nope. My hope is that they will start seeing family and friends, loved ones, political figures, celebrities, sports figures, whoever, getting them and they’ll start to think, “Okay...none of these people are dropping dead, so maybe I should get it, too.” 


A gal can hope, right? 


Get your shot, peoples! The life you save might be one other than your own!





Thursday, January 28, 2021

Just Because You Can (Part Two)

 



(See Part One here)

Deanie got up the next morning and left Calvin in the bed to sleep it off.

After they’d left the party last night, Deanie stopped at a gas station and got a pack of cigarettes while Calvin slept in the passenger seat. She was never a smoker but smoking with Jolene felt kind of right. 

When they got home, Deanie got Calvin to wake up enough that she could haul him into the house and dump him into bed. Then she stayed up, smoked, and drank some whiskey. She honestly wished she had some of her Daddy’s moonshine that he used to brew up in the mountains. But whiskey would do for now. 

She finally got up and carried herself off to bed, unzipping her dress along the way. When she got into their bedroom, she let her dress fall to the floor, took off her stockings and underthings, and slipped a nightgown over her head. She slid in between the sheets and laid awake for a while as Calvin snored beside her. 

She thought about Jolene and how she seemed to want to be her friend. She thought about the things Jolene had said about both of their husbands. She finally dozed off to sleep and thanks to the whiskey (not to mention Ferlin’s dirty martoonis), she slept deeply. 

Deanie woke up to more of Calvin’s snoring. She rolled out of bed, put her robe on, and made herself some coffee. After she poured herself a cup, she sat down at the kitchen table and lit a cigarette. She looked at it. How had she never picked up this habit? She didn’t know, but she was enjoying it now. 

As she sat and looked out the window at the back yard, the phone rang. She answered on the second ring. “Hello, Marshall residence.” 

“So formal, Deanie! Hey. This is Jolene.” 

“Hey, Jolene. Thanks for calling. How are you?” 

“I’m fine. How are you doing?”

“Good. Just listening to Calvin snore.” 

Jolene laughed. “Ferlin is upstairs so I can’t hear him, but he was snoring too when I got up this morning!” 

Deanie laughed. “Seems like they can’t handle their liquor.” 

“Not as well as we can, that’s for damn sure.” 

Deanie stifled a laugh and took a drag on her cigarette. 

“Deanna Joy Marshall, are you smoking?” 

Deanie giggled. “I am!”

“You said you didn’t smoke!”

“I don’t. But today seemed like a good time to start.” 

“Well, don’t let it become a habit. You won’t enjoy it eventually.” 

“Okay.” 

“I was wondering if you’d want to come over for lunch one day this week. I feel like...well, I do want to be friends with you.” She paused. “I’d really like to have a friend like you, Deanie.” 

Deanie listened in astonishment. Someone as glamorous as Jolene wanted to be friends with her? She finally managed to stammer out, “I’d...I’d really enjoy that, Jolene. Thank you.” 

“Wonderful! Is Tuesday good for you? One o’clock?” 

“Yes, that would be great.” 

“Oh, I’m so pleased. Hey, here’s a tip, honey. Make sure you have coffee made for when Calvin gets up. If you don’t, he’ll be a real pain in the ass.” 

Deanie burst into laughter. “Jolene!” 

Jolene laughed, too, but said, “Trust me on this one. When we hang up, you’d best make it right away.” 

Deanie said, “Okay, I will, I will.” She lowered her voice. “And yes, Calvin is a pain in the ass if he doesn’t have his morning coffee! I can’t imagine how bad he’ll be when he has a hangover.” 

Jolene snorted and said, “I’m sure. See you on Tuesday, Deanie! Kisses!” 

“See you then.”

Deanie hung up the phone slowly. She seemed to have made a friend. 

She stubbed out her cigarette and got up to put on the percolator for Calvin’s coffee. She sat back while it brewed and lit another cigarette, smoking as she looked out the window. 

The coffee was finishing up when she heard Calvin stirring in the bedroom and making his way to the bathroom. He finished up and shuffled out to the kitchen, and sat heavily in the chair across from Deanie at the kitchen table. 

She said, “Good morning.” 

He grunted and she rolled her eyes. 

He said, “Coffee?” 

Deanie was suddenly livid. “On the stove. You literally walked right past it.” 

He finally looked up at her. “Get me a cup?” 

“Are your legs broken?” 

His eyes widened but then his need for coffee overcame his irritation and he went to the kitchen and poured himself a cup. She viciously thought, “How hard was that, dummy?” 

He came back to the table and plopped into the chair again, taking a big swig of coffee. He seemed to finally get himself together and looked up at her and the first thing he said was, “Are you smoking?!” 

She stared at him and realized at that moment that she despised him. He wasn’t that sweet boy up in the mountain woods anymore. He was just an asshole. She blew a cloud of smoke into his face, making him cough. “I don’t know. Am I?” 

He waved his hand in the air. “Jesus, Deanie. Since when did you start smoking?” 

“As of now.” She glared at him. 

He sat back in the chair but it was obvious that he didn’t have any strength to do anything other than stare at her. “Well, at least open a damn window.” 

He got up and went into the living room and clicked on the television. She heard him fall onto the couch, where he’d probably spend the rest of the afternoon. 

She sighed and started cleaning up the kitchen. 

***

She let him have his time on the couch. In the early evening, he finally went in and got dressed. She started putting dinner together and when he came back out, he was more civil. She decided to be a little nicer, too. She served up the Salisbury steaks and vegetables and sat down with him at the table. He complimented her on the dinner but they didn’t talk much beyond that. To be honest, she was thinking about what she would wear to her lunch date with Jolene. 

After he finished eating, he gave her a kiss on the cheek and went in to watch a little more television. She sighed and muttered, “You’re welcome.” 

She cleaned up the dinner dishes, tidied up the kitchen, and looked around. Everything was in its place. Or was it? 

She walked into the living room where Calvin was sprawled out on the couch. “Good night, Calvin.” 

He looked up in surprise. “You’re going to bed now? It’s early.” 

“I’m feeling tired.” 

She went to the bedroom and put on her nightgown, then brushed her teeth. She climbed into bed and laid awake until she heard Calvin come into the bedroom. He slid into bed beside her and put his arm around her waist. He nuzzled her neck. “Deanie, you mad at me? Don’t be, darlin’.” 

She didn’t say anything. He rolled her onto her back so he could look at her. “Don’t be this way, Deanie.” He climbed on top of her. “No one else can love you like I do. You know that.” 

He pushed her nightgown up and when he entered her, she looked over at the window. The moon was shining brightly over the trees and she stared at the moon. She thought about how the moon looked when it rose over the trees up in the mountains. She thought about a boy who had promised her the moon as he kissed her under the trees as the cicadas sang. 

Calvin finally finished and climbed off of her. He laid back and fell asleep almost immediately. Deanie laid awake for a long while and when she started to finally doze off, Calvin began muttering incoherently in his sleep. He finally said a word Deanie recognized. 

“Jolene.”


Monday, November 2, 2020

Georgia on my Mind

This is my online writing home but I also have an analog home: I keep a hard copy journal and I have for years.


I find that during Quarantimes, time has gotten a little wiggly for me. I find myself thinking of things from the past more and more. I told some friends that I think it’s my brain’s way of filling the void left by lack of social activities. Brain says, “Well, if I can’t go out and talk to a bunch of other people, I’m going to console myself with all these people from forty years ago. So there!” 


Add to that a terrible sleeplessness due to thinking about the election and things get weird. 


The Magnificent Jake Tapper, on his daily CNN show, usually mentions one or two people at the end of his broadcast. People who have succumbed to Covid-19. It’s a sad but kind tribute. One day, he was talking about this guy and gave his town as Clarkesville, Georgia. My ears perked up immediately and it brought back a flood of memories. 


When I was still in high school, my parents bought a small place in the Georgia mountains—in Clarkesville. We had spent some time there because I had (and still have) relatives in north Georgia. It’s a beautiful area, and the house they bought was right on the edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest. I liked the area, too, but I didn’t want to spend my senior year in high school at a brand new school, one in the South. I would feel like a fish out of water. Mom and Dad agreed with that, so they hung onto the Indiana house and while they started working on the Georgia house (there was a lot of cleanup to do, and that’s a fascinating tale in its own right, but that’s a story for another day), my sister and her husband stayed with me in the Indiana house. 


When I graduated, we sold that house and I moved to Georgia with Mom and Dad, at least for the summer before college. I spent three summers there during college breaks and hearing a mention of Clarkesville (our address) brought all those memories back. 


I had a nice little corner bedroom. I didn’t like the air conditioning so I kept the two doors leading to my room closed and my two windows wide open to the hot and humid Georgia air. (My leather shoes and purses paid the price by giving their lives to mildew.) I had a high iron bed and loved to perch up there (I had to hop to get up onto it!) and read books, listen to records, and write in my journal, as well as letters to friends and family back home. 


As I thought back to that time, I could almost hear the loud buzzing of the cicadas, the rustling of the big rhododendron bush outside my window, and smell the scent of its blooms wafting through my room. I was 18-19 when I lived there and I was filled with all the uncertainties and longings of that age. I was trying to figure out my place in the world and trying to figure out this impending adulthood thing. 


But for the time being, I was a college girl from the North living in a rural mountain town in the South. As I told others when I was thinking back to that time, I feel like it was the last time when I didn’t have a care in the world. I had the usual anxieties of the time, like nuclear war, and the usual anxieties of a teenage girl just starting to understand the power of being a woman. But no bills, no job to go to, no homework...just enjoying the present and dipping my toe into adulthood.


It was a heady time and it gobsmacked me to feel all that like it was yesterday. 


The point is (and there is a point here, I promise!) that it prompted me to find all my old journals. I spent a manic half hour late last night hunting them down, but I found them! As I read entries from that time, I had to laugh at myself, but it was also...what would be the word? Poignant? Bittersweet? I wanted to tell the 18-year-old Beth, “Listen. You’re gonna be okay. You’ll never figure it all out, because no one ever does, but you’re just starting your journey. Be true to yourself, and you’ll make your way.” 


This started out as a completely different entry, one about my brief romance with my Georgia boy, one that never came to fruition but was intoxicating nonetheless. I realized the back story was a little too long and deserved its own entry. 


I’ll eventually read through all of these old journals and I’m sure it will be an emotional experience for me. I’ll share a few things on here but there will be plenty that I keep to myself. A gal’s gotta have some secrets, after all. 


But Dear Diary knows all.