Sunday, May 17, 2020

Pieces of Our Days

Yesterday I saw a post from a friend, her son graduated... she shared a photograph of his cap and gown, the Boston University announcement. Courage she concluded. And I stared at it, cried, then tried to express the good feelings, the pride and happiness for his hard work and accomplishment. Later I saw video of Bella, crossing the empty field at Humboldt State, just as rain began to fall... her dad hummed and crooned a Pomp and Circumstance tune as he walked along side her. They drove almost 1600 miles to move her out of student housing, up then back, keeping it brief, safe. Bella and Max were classmates in high school. We were all together for that commencement. I can picture Max and Dean together, too, playing. So many graduations, and gestures of celebration and even national addresses from our President (I am saving it for later.) Why do I pretend to be stoic, resist the truth, which is... I cry all the time? Hey, everyone, I cry all. the. time.

I was never going to be in Boston to celebrate Dean's graduation, but I know his family would have had some very special plans, that he would have been embraced by friends, and in the midst of tremendous joy and relief, and gladness. I know they still made it special, I suspect he still feels joy, relief, and gladness. It's hard... a twisted paradox, because we are missing out, and yet there is something, not nothing. We are still celebrating, and recognizing, and doing what we can to keep things special. But it's hard. It's different, and different on a whole other level. I wish Carol could have gone to Humboldt, too, and Grace and Leo, Andy. I wish we could go by the house and give them all hugs, and dote on Bella for her big accomplishment.

Our dear friend Bex turned 10, and we sang to her, distantly, in the driveway and we hosted a driveway Hamilton sing-along, in her honor. In some ways these gestures and events, the national attention, and star-studded tributes, may be even more "special" than if things were normal, yet... yet, it only seems to highlight how special normal is. I wish things were normal. I am thankful for the good, but I just really loved normal.

This week, I helped Max navigate virtual commencement. He had to register. They'll send him the hat, the tassel, the diploma, and there will be some kind of broadcast. His graduation is still a month off, and he has two summer math courses to complete to make it official official. Oh, and he just got an email that the second math class has been closed... and what the heck can he do now? And, well, as long as I am being open, I am not sure what to expect a month from now... will there be any more star-studded speeches, will there still be reserves of joy and gladness? These stressful days seem to wear us down a little more each day, and it makes me sad to think all the enthusiasm and goodwill could be deflated by mid-June. I'm not naive. He would always have been happy to do something quiet, personal, with chile rellenos, chilled Señoriales, and some friends over for Magic The Gathering. I am not too proud to admit... Geoff and I needed this commencement! I wanted to fill the house with friends and family and chile rellenos, and be in the midst of tremendous joy and relief and gladness.

Another event cancelled: The Annual Student Art Exhibit: The Reveal They added an online exhibit, though, and two of my paintings were accepted into the showcase, under Painting I: Watercolor, and Painting II: Watercolor. Truth...I would have liked to go to the opening, holding my breath, hoping for a ribbon, seeing all of the works and artists crowded into that tiny community college gallery.



There is so much noise online, so many virtual events, and people doing live videos, shows streaming, YouTubers tubing, and I know, from my own online experience, it's easy to get overwhelmed as a viewer, and lost as a content creator. The world is new, and we have some marvelous ways of connecting, but I miss old normal.

Ten years ago we went to our first Maker Faire, and anyone that knows us has seen how much that impacted our lives, and all we do. More truth... I have kind of been busting my butt to be a part of the movement, on the blog, at Instagram, at Maker Faire, and other community events. Despite, or because of, my efforts sharing our works and promoting, exhibiting, sharing, we have never quite been welcomed into the fold. So, ironically, Make Magazine invited us to exhibit in the Virtual Maker Faire. And. And we are doing some of the most significant and consuming making of our lives... literally all over the house, and occupying every day, all hours... so when in the heck am I supposed to find the time to create a 30 minute video extolling our work and sharing how we make PPE, why we make PPE, and having a virtual presentation ready to host in less than a week?
I'm not sulky and petulant. No. Yes... but making Personal Protective Equipment, face shields, and ear guards, by the hundreds, for donation has me tired (it's never ending) and disillusioned (colossal government failure, much?) My hands are a mess from de-burring. I'm so cranky about the timing, at last being recognized, but... dang it! Why couldn't they have seen us when we were making robots, and teaching needle felting??

These. These are only some pieces of our days, and I am sorry if I leaned toward sad, or maudlin. I do see the good, and appreciate all the ways we can still make things special... but don't you miss old normal, too?

Jennifer, you are so right: Courage, with heart.


Unknown said...

I’m a family doc at a community clinic, and we are low on masks. They’re on order, obviously. We are not on the front lines— we’re right behind them, and other people need the PPE more, which is why when friends have given me boxes of masks, I’ve given them to the ICU folks at our affiliated hospital. We have to be masked 100% of the time in the clinic, even though we’re mostly doing telehealth now, and we do bring people in for exams and testing if we think they have COVID, which to be honest feels like taking your life in your hands. To save PPE and limit exposures, half of our staff works from home any given week because we’re on telehealth. We make a regular surgical mask last two days, especially after two of our boxes of masks went missing, so they are now under lock and key. Long way of saying— thank you. It sounds like you should have been appreciated for other things a long time ago by a community I don’t know, but as a physician, I’m truly grateful.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Dear Family Doc,
Thank you for sharing your story with us. Whenever our efforts feel challenging, it's messages, like yours, that give us the boost to keep moving forward, with renewed energy. I am sorry for the obstacles and unique challenges you are facing, for the worry, the strain. Inspired by your dedication, and are fundamental wish to make a good difference, I submitted an application to exhibit at the Virtual Maker Faire... we hope to connect with other makers, other dreamers, and show them that because of curiosity and play, a willingness to tinker, and fail, and to keep moving forward, it is possible to accomplish good things... in art, with invention, for science, for teaching, for safety. Stay safe.