I Like This Boat!

Not…gonna…cry…not…gonna…cry…oops! Well…at least this song is happier than the last one. Lyrics are at the bottom of the post in the great chaotic tangle that they are. They’re written chaotically because that’s how they sounded to me.

I figured it was time for another update on how we are. Things are as alright as they can be in this stupid, wacky year. Everybody I know is healthy, and I keep knocking on wood as often as I can that this continues.

But I have had a few close calls. First, someone I know had to go get tested for COVID-19 because his COVID alert app told him he could have been exposed. I was terrified for him because he has serious respiratory issues. Thankfully, his test came back negative.

When I was leaving after my MRI, they had me waiting in the little screening area for the cab. Someone walked in and said “I’m having trouble breathing. I involuntarily tried to make myself as small as possible and then he said “I was tested for COVID and I’m negative.” I definitely breathed a sigh of relief.

Then, back in September when our numbers didn’t totally suck and blow, our book club of 5 thought about getting together for lunch in one member’s backyard. I was just about to go to the store to pick up some hamburg and hotdog buns when a member texted us and said that their daughter picked up a little fever, so the whole family had gotten tested and were waiting for their results. Because they are good citizens, they decided to stay home out of an abundance of caution. Because of this, our little gathering was canceled. Thankfully the tests came back negative.

Another time I got a message from work saying that someone had been in the office building where I usually go to work who had later tested positive for COVID-19. This wouldn’t have been a big deal except I had also been in the area during the same time period. I had no idea who it was. Maybe I had been near them for a while.

These last two really really scared me. I don’t know if I’m normal or twiggy, but I could feel myself preparing for a fight of some kind. My mind told me there was no point in this kind of response, but that didn’t stop my whole body from going into overdrive. It took a long time before I felt normal again.

This not being able to calm down thing seems to happen if I have to take a risk I’m not prepared for. One day, when I was out taking Tansy for one of her trips to the potty, I ran into a woman who was interested in Tansy and wanted to ask me questions. This woman had a severe speech difficulty, so by consequence, talked lloudly and I needed to stand closer than is probably recommended to have a conversation. After a bit, I asked for her phone number so I could text her some information. I thought maybe I could still be helpful from a safe distance. But when I texted her, I found her texts to be nearly as indecipherable as her verbal speech! We got into a small conversation of texts, and at one point, she asked if I would like to come for coffee over at the mall. I thought I made it clear that right now is probably not the greatest time to be sitting and chatting in the mall food court, but somehow, she got it in her head that I had agreed to meet with her.

I didn’t want to do this. No part of me wanted to do this. But I didn’t want to just stand her up. She seemed incredibly lonely. So I went. There I was, sitting in the mall food court, having to take off my mask to drink tea, having to lean in to hear her, she was talking loudly, sometimes kind of moistly, and repeatedly grabbed my hands. Everything about this screamed “No no no no no no bad idea!” I was very thankful that the mall was closing briefly after we arrived, so we left. After I got home and washed my hands and my mask, I could not calm down! I’ve never felt such a tangle of emotions about going for coffee!

I thought I was generally doing ok through this in the stress department and those few incidents were anomalies. I mean, my job is keeping me busy, I can stay at home much of the time and get what I need, interactions with people have gotten easier, I’m keeping my risk manageable. But I’m starting to notice things that tell me that maybe I’m not doing so hot after all. I was talking to my sister and the Sukie Jukie nephew. My sister was telling me that ever since he went to Junior Kindergarten, he talked a lot about the zones of regulation. Basically they group emotional states into four zones of colour. If you’re in the red zone, you’re super duper angry or massively devastated or very very afraid. If you’re in the yellow zone, you’re not quite as angry, but you can get pushed into the red zone. If you’re in the green zone, you’re happy, focused and ready to rock. The blue zone means you’re sad or sick or otherwise generally bleh.

I got thinking about my own feelings and started to notice that more often than not, if something made me angry, it made me angry beyond anything rational. I was ready to fly into a stupid amount of anger and think about saying or writing things I would regret. I noticed other people around me doing the same thing. At least I’m not alone in this, but some of those other people have way more of a reason to be in the yellow zone. They’re teachers, or they’re front line workers or they have kidlets running around at school, or so many other reasons than I have. That still leaves me wondering if I’m weird.

This is going to sound stupid, but here goes. I totally understand wearing a mask. I have no problem slapping one on if I’m out at the mall or in a store or whatever. But I felt a little weird wearing one around the apartment building before it was mandated. The logical part of me said I should because the main parts of the apartment building are shared by everyone. But it felt kind of weird. I had less of a problem slapping one on if I was doing laundry because I was going to be in there for a long time. But it felt silly to wear one for the two-minute elevator ride and the 30-second journey through the lobby to go outside to take Shmans out. It felt especially crazy when I thought I would have to wash my mask every time I wore it. I have quite a few masks, but not that many, especially since I go out four or 5 times a day with the Shmans, and I hang my masks to dry.

I have kind of decided that if I’m out for a long time, of course I will clean my mask. But when I’ve only put it on for a tiny trip, I’m sure it will be fine. So I’ve gotten used to slapping a mask on whenever I go out the door, even if sometimes I forget to do it and then quickly put it on.

But what’s really weird for me is remembering to put it on if someone comes to my door and I know they’ll be here for a few minutes and I know we won’t be spread apart, if we’re signing papers or something. Logically, I know I should put the stupid thing on, but there’s this completely nonsensical fear that the other guy is going to think that I’m saying that I’m sick and he’s going to be all scared. I said it was stupid. I know it’s stupid. Even saying it out loud makes me want to slap my own face because it’s so stupid. But if I don’t have my mask on, I’ll feel so guilty because I’ll think that the other guy will think I don’t care about his safety. There’s no scenario that just feels natural and normal.

There’s so much thinking about “what the other guy will think” going through my head these days. One day, I got in the elevator with another guy that I kind of no. I know he’s a stickler for the rules, and his mom is a senior citizen and all that. Anyway, we both reached for the elevator buttons and our hands touched. As soon as my hand touched his, I recoiled like his hand was made of fire. I didn’t do that because I was afraid that he had the Coronavirus, but because I was sure he would not want to touch another person’s hand. He immediately said “I’m sorry”, probably because he was worried I wouldn’t want to touch his hand. We’re all dancing around each other, worried about what the other guy will do or say. What the hell?

I also find myself getting nervous if people start talking to me when I’m walking somewhere. When this whole pandemic started, I would try to be nice and say hi to people, and it felt like nobody wanted to say anything back and I would get irritated. Now, it’s gotten so that if people speak, I’m afraid it will be followed up by telling me that I’m doing something wrong. I guess this comes from the one guy seemingly screaming at me for getting too close, and the one time when Shmans was zipping from side to side looking for a place to pee and I didn’t hear someone coming. When I finally heard her, she said “Pick a side!” under her breath and stormed off. I have to consciously remind myself that I want people to talk to me. That is the normal response. But how did I get this way? Is it my fault?

This year is so weird that I worry about things that wouldn’t even phase me before. For example, in preparation for getting a new guide dog, I had to get my doctor to fill out a medical report, which included getting a TB test. I know I don’t have TB, but because 2020 is 2020, there was a small part of me that was worried that somehow, the test would come back positive, or there would be some sort of ambiguity about it. Of course it didn’t, but this year has completely made me paranoid because it’s been so strange.

There’s this Facebook post that goes around reminding us that in terms of the pandemic, we can’t say we’re all in the same boat because our individual circumstances have an impact on how the pandemic affects us. It’s more like we’re all in the same storm, but a big sturdy ship can weather it more than a tippy canoe. I was talking to Steve about that analogy and he said “We have a good boat. I like this boat.” He’s right. Despite all my talk of anxiety and uncertainty, I have to remember we have a pretty good boat. I hope everyone else can find the reinforcements and supplies to make sure their boat can weather the storm.

Now here are the lyrics to the song above.

this is the keep going, keep going, keep going, keep going on, keep going on song
I’m Abigail and this is Shaun, we’re so glad that you’ve turned this on, and welcomed us into your home.
You are welcome in our home, we’re in Dayton Ohio, in Shaun’s parent’s house, (in my parents house) we’re in Shaun’s parents house.
We were in Louisville when the shit hit, and we packed our 3-year-old into the car. We drove kinda far.
we drove here, and we are so lucky and blessed to be safely here.
And we thought we’d be here for like 10 days tops, what did we know? What did we know? We thought we knew a lot. We thought we knew a lot.

And we have been mostly healthy. We’ve been ok. Are you ok? Are you ok? Are you alright? Are you ok? Are you alright? Are you ok? I hope your body is whole tonight
And if your heart is breaking I hope it’s breaking open.
And if your breath is shaking, I hope it’s shaking through.
And I hope you’ve watched a lot of really great television, like a lot of it.
And I hope that you find a hand lotion that actually makes your skin feel better
And I hope that you have enough to eat, and that you’re getting enough sleep,
And I hope that you have enough good company or enough good memories to last you a long time.

Let’s bring some joy into the room! Why not? We can try it. Or some rage, and some grief and relief.
I hope and I pray my rage is a fire that cleans my mind out, and makes me ready to listen.
I pray my pain is a river that flows to the ocean and connects with your pain
I pray my happiness is like pollin that flies to you and pollinates your joy…oh boy. Oh boy…is that possible? I don’t know. I don’t know. We are making this up as we go…we have to make this up as we go…the keep going song, the keep going song we’re making it up, we’re making it up as we go

And I pray that when we meet again that the world has changed into the world that we are imagining now together. And I pray that the world has become the world that we are planting inside of ourselves for each other, and for our ancesttors, and for our kids.
And we’re gonna start, we’re gonna start, this is a rough beginning. All I’ve got is a rough beginning to offer you.
We’re gonna start by singing some songs in this tiny space together.
We’re just gonna sing some songs for you, and we hope that when you hear them, you will feel a little bit less alone, you will feel a little bit less alone in the work and in the hurt, and we will be together tonight somehow, whenever this is, wherever this is.
we will be together tonight for the…

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1 Comment

  1. The mask thing is weird. There’s this psychological thing for me where I just can’t get over the fact that I’m having to wear a mask in what is basically my own home. Even though it makes complete sense to wear one someplace like the elevator, there’s still a voice in my head saying it’s my damn house! What am I doing!? Why do I have to do it!? But I’m getting used to it. Now I just need to figure out how to not forget other things in the process. Because I’ve taken the extra step of putting the mask on, I’ve more than once walked out of here without something like my wallet or the grocery cart.

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