Home, or the lack of it

what is required

homeI have long had this peculiar ambivalence about the idea of home. It started as a kid. Our dwelling seemed so small, the first floor of a two-story house.

I seldom had my friends over, though I’d go to several of their homes. My bedroom was carved out of the dining room with two walls my father built. When we visited my mother’s first cousins in St. Albans, Queens, NYC, their house seemed like a mansion.

But that wasn’t it, really. My grandma Williams house was hardly roomy. Yet it was the headquarters where her family would congregate. Based on photographs, this was the case for a number of generations.

It may be that my father and mother didn’t own our house, grandma Williams did. And while this didn’t faze me, I think it ate at my father. Why didn’t he buy a house? Was it that he was shut out of the GI Bill’s provisions, as many black veterans were? Could he not find a house to buy in Binghamton?

I have since found out my parents were barred from renting some places there because they were (incorrectly) perceived to be an interracial couple. Or was his upbringing such that he never thought of himself in that role?

Inkwell

Two things brought this to mind. One piece in my brain is this Boston Globe article, “Claiming land and water on Martha’s Vineyard. Inkwell, a historically Black beach in Oak Bluffs, is a resistance.” It’s about a young black woman who bought a home with her brother. And one of the things she wondered about was whether she was worthy to own a house. And not just for her, but for future generations.

Since I never owned a house before my current address – and I lived in 30+ apartments before that – I totally get that vibe. Add to that all of those stories of people who lose their homes, often to fire or flood. I see them on TV. They almost always say, bravely, “At least everyone’s safe,” if that’s true. “We can always buy more stuff.” Except that the loss of a homestead is more than “stuff.”

Or maybe not. Several years ago, there was a young woman on JEOPARDY who noted that she lost her possessions in a fire. She felt liberated. Alex Trebek appeared aghast.

OT

Another stream in my consciousness was a lectionary reading from December 20.2 Samuel 7:1-11. In part: “Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle.”

In our Bible study, we kicked around the idea of what is required in a physical structure, whether in a home or a church. Someone commented, “There is something to be said about the church as ‘home.’ To strike the balance of Church as a welcoming architecture of physical materials, comforting relationship, sense of belonging, and vessel for the holy, is I believe the challenge we face.”

Of course, we haven’t been IN our church building for over nine months. The early church was in people’s homes. So do we need a fancy structure? Surely we mourned when Notre Dame burned in Paris. Or when racists torch black churches. These are not just buildings, but symbols of something greater. My previous church burned down twice in a 30-year period, and they rebuilt the current cathedral-like structure in the midst of the Depression.

In conclusion… well, I have no conclusion. I just have musings about the importance and impermanence of place.

Music in the time of COVID, 2020

Six Feet Apart! Stay Away!

In the best of times this century, I’m not listening to much current music. Music in the time of COVID is pretty much the same. It’s always a miracle when I purchase tunes put out by an artist whose first album came out since 2001.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

Freedom HighwayLinda Ronstadt, oddly. I bought one of her Mexican albums, her Capitol albums, plus the complete Trio with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. After seeing the documentary about her in the summer of 2019, I was utterly sad that her singing voice has been silenced.

Also, I enjoyed Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back far more than I thought. Those riffs from the Temptations, Isaac Hayes and many others were quite enjoyable.

The only 2020 music I bought was Reunions by Jason Isbell And the 400 Unit, and Gaslighter by The Dixie Chicks, I mean The Chicks. Whatever. I swore in 2003 that I’d buy all of their albums. They had not put one out in 14 years, so it hasn’t been a heavy lift.

I’ve actually gotten to see my niece Rebecca Jade singing from her home. I’d seen her perform live only once before, back in 2018, when I visited her mother. I’ve also seen RJ with her occasional collaborator, jazz guitarist Peter Sprague. They’ve had the only live music shows I’ve “attended.”

Perfidia – Linda Ronstadt
Gaslighter – The Chicks
What Have I Done To Help – Jason Isbell And the 400 Unit
Freedom Highway – Rhiannon Giddens, feat. Bhi Bhiman
Party for Your Right to Fight – Public Enemy
Western Stars – Bruce Springsteen

Rebecca Jade videos

COVIDy

The Boston Globe compiled 40 songs about the coronavirus pandemic. I’ve actually heard several of these without even trying, usually on a news show.

Six Feet Apart – Luke Combs
Do What You Can  -Bon Jovi
Let Your Love Be Known – Bono
Stay Away – Randy Newman
This Too Shall Pass – Mike Love featuring John Stamos

And there were “songs written before the virus spread but released because the tracks resonate with the current times.”

Living In A Ghost Town – The Rolling Stones
Tryin’ to Keep It Together – Norah Jones
We’re All In This Together Now  – John Paul White featuring Rosanne Cash
Grateful – Jewel

VMAs?

Here’s a matter of self-curiosity. I watched the Video Music Awards this year for the first time in more than a decade. It aired on August 30, but I didn’t actually view it until October. And then in 15-25 minute segments.

As you might imagine, there were people I had never once heard of, CNCO, Maluma, and Doja Cat, who my daughter does not like for some reason. Then there are the ones whose names I’d seen but could not have identified, such as Chloe X Halle and DaBaby.

So THAT’S what The Weeknd looks like. (And he’s significant enough that my spellcheck accepts the spelling of his name.)

Thank goodness for some veteran acts such as Black Eyed Peas and Miley Cyrus. Because my daughter was obsessed a couple of years ago, I actually know more about BTS than any sexagenarian needs to. They premiered the song Dynamite and soon enough it’s not only #1 in the country with half a billion views but playing on some television ad. (For what, IDK, and don’t tell me because I don’t care.)

Lady Gaga won every category for which she was nominated, one with Ariana Grande including a new category.

Dynamite – BTS
Rain On Me – Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year

Nobody told me there’d be days like these (X3)
Strange days indeed
Most peculiar, Mama

Nobody told me – John Lennon (1984, posthumous)

Get orbisculate into the dictionary

To orbisculate. Meaning, “to accidentally squirt juice and/or pulp into one’s eye, as from a grapefruit when using a spoon to scoop out a section for eating.”

orbisculate“Is ‘orbisculate’ a word? The late Neil Krieger’s children want it to be.” That’s the title of a recent Boston Globe article.

“Hilary Krieger, now 43 and an editor for NBC News’s THINK, was 24 when she used it with a friend… ‘We were eating fruit – I believe it was oranges – and I said, it ‘orbisculated on you.’ [The friend] was like, ‘That’s not a word. … My first feeling was pity. Like, this is going to be embarrassing when he finds out that this is a word.'”

Except that it wasn’t. It was a creation of her father. “Neil Krieger was a scientist and entrepreneur. After 20 years teaching neuroscience…, he founded West Rock Associates, a biotech grant recruitment firm. He was committed to civil rights activism and was involved with the Boston chapter of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality).

“Krieger died of complications from COVID-19 on April 29. He was 78.

“Now his adult children are on a mission. They want ‘orbisculate’ added to the dictionary, to honor their father. (Also, it’s a perfectly useful intransitive verb, they say.) They’ve launched a website with a petition to dictionary editors.”

The blog

And on the website is the post How to Break into a Dictionary.

“The way a word qualifies for inclusion is when it’s being used by a lot of people. Dictionaries employ scores of editors to scour the English language for new words and check whether they’re being used often and widely. And like many things, the best way to get a word used widely is by word of mouth…

“But there was, of course, a catch. Dictionary editors only count certain types of uses of the word: When it’s used in context. That means that references to the word as a word, rather than employing it for what it means, don’t get added to their count.”

OK. “I hold the Friskies cat food can away from me when I open it, lest it orbisculate on me.” BTW, this is true.

The Krieger family is “also selling T-shirts with the word on them; all proceeds benefit Carson’s Village, an organization that helps families with resources right after a loss (the group does everything from helping to coordinate burials to setting up obituaries, for free).”

Lunaversary

I am sympathetic because I’m a big fan of the word lunaversary. It’s made it into the Urban Dictionary, but its example is terrible. “Our 4-month lunaversary is on Saturday.” NO! “Our fourth lunaversary is on Saturday.” Yes!

The Merriam-Webster people are looking at the ‘-iversary’ word part. “Monthiversary (with its variant monthaversary) to be the strongest contender for full establishment in the language.” [SHUDDER!]  Mensiversary would be OK, I guess, but one loses the sense of the insanity of new love.

COVID deniers with COVID

Wear a mask in public. Social distancing. This is news?

donald trump wearing corona virus mask face blinded cartoonI’ve been watching the evening news, masochist that I am. More than once in the last few weeks, I’ve seen someone break down crying about the loss of their beloved family member. I’m not made of stone, so I feel a little sad.

Then they weep, “I didn’t know that COVID was REAL!” I bite my lip. In a recent comment on my blog, the blogger fillyjonk wrote, “I find myself irrationally angry at so many of my fellow citizens. ” I tend to agree with her, except for the “irrationally” part. NOW, they believe?

Still, I was STUNNED to read an article in  Vanity Fair this month. What Do You Do When Your COVID Patient Doesn’t Believe In COVID? The online version is quite explicit: “‘It’s the Trump Bubble.'” OMG. “The Right Has Created a Wave of COVID Patients Who Don’t Believe It’s Real.”

Even before getting to the story itself, this description. “A Texas nurse had a patient in a COVID ICU tell her the virus is ‘fake news.’ A California nurse was mocked for wearing a mask. As a new wave of COVID-19 sweeps the country, health care workers are grappling with the consequences of the president’s misinformation machine. ‘This is insane,’ says one. ‘I have never seen anything like it.'”

I am literally holding my hands to my head, fearing that it will somehow explode. COVID deniers with COVID.

Nothing is real

“Gigi Perez, a California–based nurse… told me, ‘The COVID-19 unit I work in has already lost seven nurses in the last three months due to the burnout from managing these types of patients.’ In the last two weeks, Perez said, nine of her fellow health care workers have contracted COVID-19. Workers are ‘beginning to resent the public for not doing their part to help control the pandemic,’ she said.”

And this. “An infectious disease doctor who asked to remain anonymous told me he had never before experienced politics overshadowing science in the medical field. ‘Before [Donald] Trump I never spoke politics in the clinic room,’ he said. ‘There is no doubt that COVID splits into fact-free and factful worlds. This is why we have a raging epidemic.”

In WaPo,  read about a Missouri county health director. Concerning contact tracing, she says, “Probably half of the people we call are skeptical or combative. They refuse to talk. They deny their own positive test results. They hang up. They say they’re going to hire a lawyer. They give you fake people they’ve spent time with and fake numbers.”

While downplaying the pandemic from the beginning, the despicable regime behavior started in earnest on April 3. That’s when IMPOTUS said his experts were “now recommending Americans wear ‘non-medical cloth’ face coverings.” He said “the recommendations… were voluntary and that he would not partake. ‘I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”

And the die was cast. Now, hospitals in half the states are facing a massive staffing shortage as Covid-19 surges.

White flag

Here’s a story in the Boston Globe.  With COVID-19 victory in sight, America surrenders. “What’s happened to us? A lifetime ago, Americans endured years of Great Depression suffering, then went off to fight World War II or, on the home front, tightened their belts, stretched their rationed food, and planted Victory Gardens.”

But that’s not us. “Yes, this isolated, socially distanced existence is tiresome, particularly in cold weather. But we have salvation, in the form of vaccinations, within sight… Then life will begin to return to normal.”

This past summer, the writer “had a chance to catch up with an old pal from high school who, long a Republican, has become a Fox News conservative. The good news, said my friend, who has a graduate degree, was that if the Democrats won, the big to-do about COVID-19 would end on Nov. 3. Why, I asked? Because, he said, it was all a big hoax to get Joe Biden elected. We joke a lot, so I assumed he was kidding. No.”

So it makes “sense” that when the CDC urges against Thanksgiving travel, it will be largely ignored. In the New York Times, a writer traced his COVID-19 bubble and it’s “enormous.” He was thinking a dozen or two, but it was over 100 people.

And much of the blame for the current explosion of cases must fall on a regime that has announced in October, “We are not going to control the pandemic.” That’s the truth. About four dozen of them have had the virus.

I am SO angry with the regime’s handling of the crisis. Americans are dying unnecessarily. And the buck stops there.

Too soon, Boston Globe, too soon

1861, 1919, 1932, 1968, 2020

too soon

The Boston Globe has attempted to make us feel better about 2020. “The news that the president himself had contracted the coronavirus, just days after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg triggered a high-stakes Supreme Court battle in the middle of a global pandemic that has upended nearly every aspect of modern life…

“‘Is this the most deranged year ever to occur in American history because it certainly feels that way?’ The story was published on October 6. Too soon. There were 12 full weeks of crazy to come, including a sure-to-be-contentious election that won’t be settled on November 4, and maybe not by November 10.

For instance, one of the other contenders is 1861, “the year that the country fractured into the bloody Civil War… The beginning of the war was partly the result of the tumultuous 1860 election… It is encouraging that this year the United States has not plunged into literal war with itself — yet.” Give it time. External war, while still going on, seems less in the forefront than the potential for domestic disturbances.

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” The Second Coming by poet William Butler Yeats, 1919 

In 1919, “the country had just emerged from a gruesome global war, and a deadly flu pandemic was killing millions of people around the world. President Woodrow Wilson suffered a severe stroke and became incapacitated…” 2020 pandemic: check.

“In the same year, white citizens led a series of racial pogroms that decimated Black communities, partly in response to Black soldiers’ demands for equality after fighting for American democracy abroad.” A different version of racial strife is taking place this year.

The Great Depression

By 1932, “the Great Depression had reached its peak, with about a quarter of Americans out of work and virtually no federal aid. Families were losing their homes and desperate for food. It was an election year, with Franklin D. Roosevelt running against Herbert Hoover.

“There was also climate disaster happening… In the Dust Bowl, severe drought caused farmlands to literally blow away, killing people and crops and leading to massive migrations.” We have in 2020 record wildfires in the West, hurricanes in the Southeast.

“Against that backdrop, extremism was on the rise worldwide. The Nazi Party became the strongest party in the German government in July elections.” Extremism around the world – we have that in 2020.

And of course, 1968, which featured the Vietnam War raging, including grave atrocities. Student protests erupted across the country. The assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy dashed the sense of hope.

Here’s the real question

So does this mean that if we get a really sucky year every once in a while we’ll be inoculated for a while? History is mixed. Another year of civil war in 1862. Statistical somewhat less violence against black people plus Women’s suffrage in 1920.

The New Deal started in 1933 under FDR, even as the markers for World War II began to build. And I remember 1969 as nearly as contentious as 1968, with Nixon in the White House rather than LBJ, but we went to the moon.

Tell me that 2021 will be better. Lie if necessary. Oh, and you still have until the end of the month to complete the decennial Census. So do the damn  Census. And vote, FCOL. I’m thinking in-person but early, the week before November 3. 2020 may suck, but I’m trying my best…