Mark’s Covid Diary… July 26, 2020

I know there are other things that we should probably be talking about right now, like the “wall of moms” in Portland or the flood of disinformation headed our way about vote-by-mail, but I feel, for the sake of my sanity, the I need to step back, and write about other stuff for a while.

MY SON AND I HAVE BEEN WALKING A LOT… Actually, I walk a lot. He just rides alongside me on his bicycle. We usually go out for an hour at lunch, and again in the evening. I looked at my phone the other day, and it says that we’ve been logging over five miles a day. It’s one of the few good things about this pandemic that Donald Trump has given us. I’ve always spent a lot of time with Arlo; reading from the Three Investigators library in the hammock, playing catch in the yard, watching episodes of Columbo, collecting bugs, etc., but there’s something different about these sweat-drenched forced marches of ours. Maybe it’s the exhaustion, or the fact that, walking side-by-side, we’re not looking at one another when we’re talking, but I’ve found him to be more focused, and willing to explore things more deeply than he might ordinarily. [There’s always a period of time in which he just wants to talk about video games, but that generally passes after the first mile or so.] Today, we talked at length about the 1955 Spencer Tracy film Bad Day at Black Rock, which is about the murder of a Japanese farmer in the rural American west the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. [We’d watched it a few days ago.] We’ve talked quite a bit about racism in the past, but I felt as though, today, he was making connections that he hadn’t before, and it made me happy to have reached that milestone with him.

I know it’s not a healthy way to look at things, but, every time we cross a little parenting milestone like this, I say to myself, “At least I made it this far.” Having two close friends who lost their fathers very early in life, I’m constantly thinking about my experiences with my children, and the fact that, at some point, I won’t be around to share these moments with them. I suppose it could be a good thing, taking a moment to reflect positively on the fact that I was fortunate enough to have shared an experience with my son or daughter that others might not, but that’s not the way it works. Maybe it’s an OCD thing — just part of living with near constant anxiety — but, for me, it’s just a feeling of, “That was close. I bet I’ll never make it to the next milestone.” Still, though, it was good to have a thoughtful conversation with him about racism and what causes it, and I’m thankful to have been given that opportunity.

Here’s something you don’t know. On my list of potential baby names, when Arlo was still waiting to be born, was Thankful. If memory serves, I looked it up and found that there had been a Thankful Maynard in Puritan New England. Hopefully, one day, Arlo appreciates the fact that I didn’t fight to make that his name, saving him from childhood of schoolyard harrassment. [Linette proposed the name Arlo, and I conceded that it was a better astronaut name.]

Speaking of my son, today was the first day I heard him utter the word “fuck.” We’d come home from our walk, and I heard him telling his mom about the stuff we’d seen, and, in the process, he said “fuck the police,” referring to the sign you can see above, which we noticed today, at the old, abandoned Ypsilanti Farm Bureau building. We’d talked about it for a long time, what the impetus was behind it, and why someone would risk their life to climb up there. Thankfully, there are a lot of good opportunities these days for discussions like this. Yesterday, it was a sign we’d seen in a neighborhood that said, “Black Infant Mortality Rates Matter,” which led to long conversation about health outcomes in the black community.

Our conversations aren’t all so weighty, though. Yesterday, while making our way around Highland Cemetery, we were talking about zombies, and where we’d head in case this current pandemic of ours took a turn, and the dead started walking the earth. We started debating the merits of Starkweather Chapel, but ultimately decided that we’d try to make out way to Greenfield Village, which is already well-walled-off, and set up for non-industrial farming. And, from there, we started talking about everything in the Henry Ford Museum that could be used to kill zombies, and how bizarre it would be to kill a zombie in the chair that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in or the limo in which John F. Kennedy was murdered. [My best idea, I think, was to pierce a zombie’s brain with Thomas Edison’s last breath, which is contained in a glass tube at the museum.]

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it here before, but there are two jobs that I’ve been offered over the years that I still wonder if I should have taken. When I moved back to Michigan from Los Angeles, I was offered a job at the Henry Ford Museum. And, years before that, when I was living in DC, I was offered a job at the Smithsonian Institution. While I was intrigued by both opportunities, I ultimately declined both due to the fact that I didn’t think I could afford to live on what they were able to pay. As a U-M grad in American Studies, though, and someone whose first “real” job was in historic archeology, I can’t tell you how much it pains me to think about what might have been. [I like to imagine myself, digging though the Smithsonian’s archive, looking for the jar with John Dillinger’s penis.]

THE FIRST HAIRCUT OF THE APOCALYPSE… Linette finally wore me down. I’d been putting off a haircut since all of this started. It had gotten pretty unwieldy, but I kept telling myself that, one of these days, I’d cut it myself. I know a woman who decided, that since she was in quarantine, she’d take the opportunity to do something she’d always wanted to do, and shave her head. And that got me thinking that I should try to replicate my favorite haircut from my youth, when I’d just cut off huge chunks of my hair with a razor, leaving me looking as though I had mange. I’m sure my loved ones found it upsetting, but I loved it. And I thought that maybe I should take this opportunity that Donald Trump has give us to try to recapture the magic. I went so far as to search for a “business wig” on Amazon, thinking that maybe I could pull it off, if I had a hairpiece that I could put on when having Zoom calls for work, but I never acted on it. So, upon collapsing into a chair this afternoon after a few hours of working in the yard, I told Linette that she could do whatever she wanted to my hair. I just sat there, with my eyes closed, nearly dozing, listening to the Tigers game, and enjoying the sun. It was really nice… Here’s a photo. [I don’t really pay attention to baseball. And I don’t like watching it on TV. I just list listening to it on the radio. Maybe it’s an inherited thing from generations past.]

As I still have a few minutes left before I lose my battle with sleep, there’s one more thing that I wanted to mention. Above, I referenced the “wall of moms” in Portland. Over the past few days, they’ve been joined by “walls” of dads, vets, teachers, healthcare workers and lawyers, most of whom have been wearing their own distinctive color. [Moms are in yellow, dads are in orange, etc.] Well, I was just wondering how many other groups were out there plotting, coming up with a color scheme that hasn’t been taken yet, and trying to recruit people for “walls” of their own to stand between protesters and the Department of Justice officers deployed by the Trump reelection campaign. Specifically, I was wondering whether or not any groups I count myself as a member of might be looking to field teams; small town bloggers, retired zine publishers, race traitors, people with OCD, middle aged Eagle Scouts, Vonnegut fans, pre-war jazz enthusiasts, people who love to compost, former archeologists, etc. I guess I could head out with the dads, but I feel like, if I hold out for just a little longer, something better will come along… something that wouldn’t require me to buy a leaf blower.

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18 Comments

  1. Posted July 26, 2020 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    And, yes, the sign above, from far away, looks like it says “Fuck Police.” You’ll have to trust me when I tell you that there’s a “the” between those two words, surrounded by flowers.

    If there were a “Fuck Police,” though, I wonder what they would be like.

  2. Jean Henry
    Posted July 26, 2020 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    Re Black Maternal Health and infant mortality, there was an open letter demanding reforms in the Times today Signed by many notables . If anyone wants to add their name now, they can do so here.
    https://everymothercounts.org/birthjusticenow/
    Ps that website aggregates lots of resources on the topic.

  3. iRobert
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    In the photo it looks like Linette is trying to find your “on” switch.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    You’re looking a bit trimmer, maybe from the walking or the lack of a full beard, I don’t know. Also, it looks like you’re trying to pull off a combination of Blue Steel and Forrest Gump with your grimace/squint.

  5. John Brown
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Ammo is near completely unavailable. But the Remington Indestructible Haircut kit clippers is only $30 from Target. Works great with a #3 or lower. Stay cool, and detect ticks easily after training afield. Plus with a buzz cut you can blend with the fake-triots if needed.

  6. Posted July 27, 2020 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    I weigh the same as I did last summer, but I think the proportion of muscle to fat is different. My legs are different now…. you could say grosser. You can see the veins making their way across my shins. That’s new.

    As for clippers, we have some. Linette used them on me. Then I used them on her. She did a better job on my hair than I did on hers. She seems happy, though. This evening we have plans to address Arlo’s hair. Clementine is on her own.

    As for the squinting, it’s pretty much permanent. I think it started when I turned 50.

  7. Wobblie
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Aloha listening to the Tigers on the radio is the only way to follow a game. You can get work done, if you need too, or you can nap between the 4th an 7th inning. Sounds like you and The boy had a near perfect summer day.

  8. Steve Swan
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Wall of Moms, for what its worth, is one of the best porn features ever made.

  9. Dan R.
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    As head blogger here, can you make a rule against starting comments with ‘Aloha’? It ruins the entire blog experience.

  10. Eel
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Would your prefer a rousing “HOWDY!” a la Minnie Pearl?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjX1LpSow_g

  11. Jean Henry
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Oh man, Dan R. that’s really the very very least of it.

  12. Wobblie
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Aloha Dan , sorry my greeting bothers you. When I greet people on the street it is usually with a HOWDY and a smile.

  13. Wobblie
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Howdy Folks, dont worry be happy. The trumpvirus plague state may seem like the least of our problems soon enough.

    https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/07/arctic-sea-ice-could-disappear-completely-within-two-months-time.html?fbclid=IwAR0vq4vBoZZMVix80w2x-VCmxsk20L3i4MjSHeuL62qj-KvQJ-56nn2kieg&m=1

  14. Lynne
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I also listen to baseball on the radio! I think it just sets a nice summertime mood. I only sometimes pay attention to the game. It always reminds me of summer nights at my grandparents house with my grandfather sitting out on the porch listening to the game.

  15. iRobert
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Who is the famous actor you look like in that photo?

  16. Anonymous
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Whenever my wife complains about my technique in bed, I respond, “Who are you, the Fuck Police?”

  17. Anne
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Vonnegut fans will be wearing white with doodles made with black sharpies. We may arrive before the protest starts due to becoming unstuck.

  18. Amy
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    This is my favorite installment in memory, and did me so much good on this exact Pandemic morning. I enjoy your thoughtful perspective on all things, but experiencing your family through your eyes is one of my favorite places to be.

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