We are now entering the most deadly time in the pandemic. We are expecting a hundred thousand more deaths in January 2021.
The question of whether or not I will even survive this month has not been settled.
I am still isolated at home with three members of my immediate family. Contact with the outside world is as limited as it is possible to be. Of the four of us, only my wife and son have to leave the house for work. My son has had Covid once already, so he probably still has antibody protection, but there are no guarantees he won’t get it again, and worse the second time. He works as a jailor and so he is exposed to Covid-positive inmates daily. My wife will go back to her teaching job this coming week. They are taking precautions as much as possible, but it is still in-person instruction. And my wife is at-risk with diabetes and high blood pressure. And there is no question in the minds of the Texas Board of Education that she needs to risk her life five days week to keep kids in school.
I am deteriorating from my many health problems. But I am only a little over a year away from being done with my bankruptcy and the paying off of my medical bills. So, barring another hospitalization, I can actually see light at the end of that tunnel.
But getting back to normal?
It will never happen. I will never again be well enough to make money as a teacher in a classroom, even as a limited-time substitution. If staying in my room and writing all day is my new normal, well, I am already doing that. But the things I have done as a normal thing will not be coming back.
Traveling is going to be a thing of the past. I cannot weather long car trips anymore. No more visits to Six Flags or Disney World, and maybe not even trips home to Iowa.
Doll collecting is also a thing of the past. I have no more money or time to pursue those little plastic people anymore, even at five dollars a month. In many ways I gave it up for good months ago already. And I probably have too many of them already.
“Child, child, have patience and belief, for life is many days, and each present hour will pass away. Son, son, you have been mad and drunken, furious and wild, filled with hatred and despair, and all the dark confusions of the soul – but so have we. You found the earth too great for your one life, you found your brain and sinew smaller than the hunger and desire that fed on them – but it has been this way with all men. You have stumbled on in darkness, you have been pulled in opposite directions, you have faltered, you have missed the way, but, child, this is the chronicle of the earth. And now, because you have known madness and despair, and because you will grow desperate again before you come to evening, we who have stormed the ramparts of the furious earth and been hurled back, we who have been maddened by the unknowable and bitter mystery of love, we who have hungered after fame and savored all of life, the tumult, pain, and frenzy, and now sit quietly by our windows watching all that henceforth never more shall touch us – we call upon you to take heart, for we can swear to you that these things pass.” ― Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again
Thomas Wolfe is correct. Without being able to physically travel to the past, you simply can’t go home again. We can travel through time, but only forward. But he is also right that the present time will pass too. And we all will eventually reach a time where we become timeless. So, we hunker down, live in the moment, and the world will become normal even if it is unrecognizable as what was normal in the past.
I am not Richard the Third. But I did do that soliloquy in college for my class in oral interpretation and got an “A” for it. I can channel those who think they have been wronged. I know whereof they speak… forsooth.
If you are not happy with the President’s handling of the pandemic and economic crisis, (and if you are happy, I hope your recent lobotomy is giving you some peace and rest) you are not alone. The Sun of York has not been the right answer.
I am not, however, a dissembler like Richard. I have no plot to remedy the discontent. I can only tell the truth. I will probably die of the virus before this pandemic passes. I honestly do not fear death. I do fear for loved ones who are also at risk. But while I do not welcome death, it will not find me with any sort of burden of regret. I have been an honorable man. I have taught children, and acquitted myself well of the task. I have been a passable husband and father. I have committed serious acts of art… as well as numerous less-than-serious ones. This is not a suicide note. This is simply me declaring myself at peace with the universe.
And this is also me declaring that I once again am unwell. I don’t think it is the virus. I have been extremely careful. But this one stalks more successfully than the H1N1 and various bird flus that I have previously survived. And I always seem to get whatever serious virus is passing around.
Still, it is probably not the Coronavirus that currently has me sick and in bed. No fever. Only chest pain, headaches, and nausea. I also have a variety of other pains, mostly psoriasis in nature, but also some other internal ones. I could be suffering from prostate cancer, heart disease, or mini-strokes brought on by diabetes. My eyes are going bad. And I am not going to any doctors because of the risk of infection in the doctor’s office and the expenses that health insurance expects me to pay for myself. (I hope this pandemic eats all of Aetna’s lunches for the rest of the year.) There are plenty of ways that this current health crisis can do me in. I will endeavor to die at home on my own terms. And I will try to stay alive long enough to vote the bast***s out of office.
I apologize that Mickey wasn’t funny today. Sometimes he needs to complain a little. Even Richard the Third was down and blue in between villainies. And he ended on one really bad day at Bosworth Field.
I used to work for a principal who would come on the morning announcements every day to welcome us to school with another anomalous and annoying alliteration. We had numerous Magnificent Mondays, Terrific Tuesdays, and Wonderful Wednesdays. Thursdays were harder. And Friday was usually Fun. See, I think I ironically proved I can do it too, if not better.
It has been my goal to set Friday posts aside as days to either be funny or to tell stories about being a school teacher… or, quite naturally, both at once.
But ironically, Trump and Pence have made it extra difficult not to talk about politics. One has been so blatantly idiotic in his quasi-fourth-grade-intellectual pumpkinheaded blathering. While the other has been robotically ignorant, heartless, and unmindful. Not wearing masks in hospital visits? Recommending injecting cleaning fluid? I can’t even be ironically funny by throwing flat irons and curling irons at them, since those would just bounce off the walls of the house I am confined to.
But, even though the Bughead Boys are making original humorous thinking difficult, there are things that make me happy. I qualified and signed up to be a substitute teacher again if a new school year ever happens. They are pleased enough with my performance to make that a reality for me today. And I do love teaching, though each year of it is increasingly difficult physically. I just have to eat more spinach, keep talkin’ loik Popeye, and try not to die of Coronavirus.
And I have not yet gotten any kind of stimulus check from the gubbermint even though I know people who have. But I am happy that, for this month at least, the State of Texas is not yet bankrupt and ready, with Mitch McConnell’s permission, to cancel all future pension payments.
So, if I can’t be all that funny today, at least I got a chance to complain. And I didn’t even manage to squeeze out any jokes about slave-girls, even though there is a definite slave-girl thing going on in the illustrations today.
Stuck in the house all day with no outside activities to distract me, and limited socialization with the other denizens imprisoned in the house with me is more-or-less the perfect thing for a fiction writer with cancer of the imagination glands.
I have plenty of people to talk to, since , in this situation, imaginary people count too. And there is no end to the things I can talk about since ideas keep welling up in my head, even if many of them are totally silly ideas, and the rest are probably evil.
It helps to have a talking dog. Though my kids would argue that Jade isn’t really talking, that I am, instead, merely interpreting things I think she should be saying as if it were real speech. She does talk an awful lot about different kinds of meat and the moral imperatives of allowing your dog to eat people food. But I think it is only proper to commit to writing those things she says when we’re alone together, because, after all… a possible talking dog?
But imagination is one of those things that sets people… I mean, human people, apart from all other life forms that we know. Imagination makes the man. What would we have made of ourselves and our world if we didn’t have it? Would we have invented the wheel? Fire? Term life insurance? I think not.
I may, in fact, be going a little stir crazy in the old hovel while trying like heck to avoid death by Coronavirus. I am easily as frayed around the edges as any hopeless hobo, with even my beard-trimming growing wildly erratic. Soon I may have to tell the imaginary people who surround me and question everything about me that it is not a beard any more. Rather, it is either a crocheted hippie neck-warmer rather than a beard, or maybe it has become a furred, frilly collar on my shirt like Shakespeare probably wore for the premiere of King Lear.
No, I am not going stir-crazy, or even a little bit insane. I am just letting the words unwind as they fill me up and demand to be unreeled in order to prevent an explosion in the brain.
The Coronavirus Isolation has put a lot of new limitations on our lives. But, I happened to have an unused Gingerbread House kit. So, for Art Day, the Princess and I decided to put it all together with supplies we already had on hand. Here, then, is the Beyer Family Gingerbread House 2020.
But, it wasn’t a total disaster. We can use our inherent craftiness to rescue it at least a little bit from total wicked-witch-housiness. Though I am sure Hansel and Gretel would still eat it.
He had so many expenses, he didn’t know what to do.
Of course, I am not complaining.
Even though it’s a tennis shoe and not a cowboy boot.
I have got an ice cream truck outside. Sponsored by Hot Wheels.
And now that I have a substitute teaching job, I almost have more money than bills… well, some months… maybe.
But I still can’t afford ice cream. Or insulin.
But my neighbor lives in a house made of eggshell. And he has cancer. But he gets visits from the Partridge Family in their funky school bus. It is better to live on a shoe-string budget than an eggshell budget. But we all have our troubles. Which Aetna will never willingly pay for.
Except for the rich guy who lives on Mel Gibson Hill. He has no troubles.
He has plenty of money.
And he is the reason the rest of us are poor.
Because he pays for politicians to give him tax breaks on all that money that never trickles down the hill.
But life is good in Toonerville Town.
Unless that shoestring comes undone.
And then it takes lots more hard work to tie it up again.
Every Christmas break for the last four years has seen us put together a decorated gingerbread house. It was always a way to spend quality time with my kids and come up with a semi-artistical product that I could take pictures of and then eat. But this year, in addition to the gingerbread house kit purchased at Walmart, my fancy was struck by the gingerbread ninja cookie kit for sale cheaply at Aldi’s.
Because our cook-stove is gradually dying of electrical-baking-cancer, we had to move the cookie baking to my son’s apartment with a brand new oven and range. While gingerbread house kits come pre-baked and assembly-ready, gingerbread ninjas tested my limited cookie-baking skills. And believe me, though the Princess gamely tried to help, we did not bake ninjas like pros.
So, due to our negative levels of baking skill, the cookies came out looking not so much like dangerous ninjas as they did like seriously deformed mutants and bomb-blast victims. And it didn’t help that we could not make the white outliner frosting. It came in powder form and you were supposed to add powdered sugar and water to it. Powdered sugar was the one ingredient totally forgotten. Saving the beauty of artlessly-created cookies was left up to our skills applying cherry and chocolate frosting with butter knives and decorating with colored sugar beads. The cherry frosting made the cookie people into nudists rather than ninjas. And trying to make frowny faces with beads led to gingerbread men looking like they had multi-eyed spider heads instead of angry expressions. The chocolate ninjas turned out to look like forest-fire-blackened wilted Christmas trees. So, I ornamented most of them accordingly.
I had intended to end this article by interviewing one of the surviving chocolate-covered gingerbread ninjas. But when we started talking, he just got angrier and angrier about my lack of cookie-making skills. It started with insults and devolved into threats.