Humpty Dumpty

I still have not come to terms with the pandemic. During my siesta a week ago, I dreamed I had been felled by COVID 19. The nightmare felt so real, and half an hour later, I still questioned whether or not it had actually been true.

The total number of days between Wednesday, March 11th, and Saturday, October 24, 2020 is 227.

This is equal to 7 months and 14 days. And unless you’ve been in a coma, you realise I’m referring to the length of time since the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization. These are the stats compiled yesterday, Friday October 23, 2020:

Worldwide number of persons infected with COVID 19             42.2 millions

Worldwide number of deaths:                                                               1.14 million 

These look like scary numbers – that’s because they are scary numbers – and they’ll get scarier and scarier until a vaccine is developed.

From time to time, my hopes are raised by reports of positive clinical test results and I fantasise with visions of myself waiting in line with my sleeves rolled up, my butt cheek exposed, or my mouth wide open to receive the miraculous elixir that will be the first step towards reclaiming my life.

But nothing is a sure thing. We do not know when (if ever) the vaccine will be ready for safe, fair, wide-scale distribution. My best guess is that this is still at least a year away. And if this is true, I just have to get my act together.

For the past 227 days, the performance approval rating I give myself is somewhere around 5. That is to say that half my days have been what I would term, productive. The rest of them have been varying degrees of wasted. And as a member of the seniors’ population, I should not let any days slip through my fingers. I need to fully appreciate every one of them. After all these are my “golden years”, right? 

No they are not. That is a myth we’ve all been fed. I think my best years were between 40 and 60. Then I was old enough to have some sense and experience, but still young enough to have plenty of up-and-at-it.

Since the BIG – 6-OH, my life has not been all I wish it was. Fatigue at the end of the day is pretty-much assured. The energy to complete many tasks that once seemed easy, has dwindled.

I do what I can to rally the troops (AKA my different body parts and systems) But really, I’ve had just about enough of this domino effect. My patience is running out with the mutinous members of My Body. They seem to think it’s OK to sluff off. Both the knees continue to be the Number One offenders. Sleep patterns are off. And with the high humidity and heat indexes, my ability to keep my body and my temper cool is severely taxed.

My Brain must also accept that her performance is less than stellar: What is with this forgetfulness and this inability to force My Body to keep on keeping on? My willpower has reached an all-time low. All the positivity I summoned at the beginning of the pandemic seems to be depleted.

All this non-optimal functioning weighs on My Mind. COVID 19 is going to be our undoing, it warns. The Mind is tired of watching so much negativity unfold, internally and externally. Politicians are not Leaders. Good Deeds seem to expect immediate pay-back. We have meddled so much with Mother Nature that she has come unglued. Come on – we need to get back on track – enough is enough.

Whine, whine, and whine some more: As already mentioned, I have got to get a grip. So I am going to put myself on structured plan. I have a list of all I MUST force myself to finish by the end of the year. The procrastinating has to end.

I do give thanks that I have been spared a lot of the huge problems many others face. I am relieved not to have little children whose distance learning I have to supervise. I don’t have to work from home. I have no mortgage or car payments that must be met. I feel so sad for those who have lost their job and can’t find a new one. So many people are working at reduced salary, and they are getting desperate.

And how are YOU doing? Is being shut in all day and all night getting to you too? And when you do venture forth (with your mask on and other precautions) do you feel paranoid? After 227 days, is your self-discipline crumbling? Or did it do that a while back?

How are you managing to keep Humpty Dumpty from falling off the wall?

Sheep and so on…

Oh Dear… it has been more than two weeks since I posted in this poor neglected blog.  I often say that the name, “Changes in our Lives” is so appropriate for me at the age I am now because the past ten years have been topsy-turvy in almost every way. And the Corona Virus pandemic has served to make them more so.

I bet most non-writers are unaware that a lot of authors choose stressful periods to start a new project. I do, because writing is an escape. Immersing myself in the story means that I get to take a break from the reality of COVID 19. My characters have dreams and moments of despair. They get to eat whatever they want and not get fat (unless I need to punish them a bit)

Sometimes they fall in love, or in lust, and back to Square One in a matter of a couple of chapters. They can be as rich and famous as Queen Elizabeth or as beautiful as Sophia Loren. But most are ordinary people who have an extraordinary experience. Such is the case with my group of beguiling individuals.  In my attempt to make them as real as possible, I learn about a whole gamut of facts. For example, one of my leading men is a sheep rancher. I had to learn a lot about these animals.

Now don’t stop reading. This is interesting, or at least I think it is.

People who mindlessly follow others are often described as “sheep”. But is this ever a case of mistaken identity. Sheep are highly intelligent animals. Within minutes of their birth, new-born lambs can stand and walk with their flock. They have to keep up because they will literally die if they are not with other sheep. Their socialization is integral to their survival.

Depending on the richness of the grasses and other plants, an acre of land can support 2 – 4 sheep. So lots of space is required for a large flock.

Sheep can recognize up to 50 fellow sheep faces and remember them for two years. Sheep are able to learn their way through complicated weather and terrain. Sheep use plants and other substances to prevent or treat disease, and they teach their babies to do the same.

Just like humans, sheep feel afraid, angry, bored, sad and happy. They have both emotional and cognitive reactions to what happens around them. Those who know sheep will tell you that some of them are pessimists and others are optimists.

Sheep form strong bonds with one another. They are able to recognize and distinguish between different emotional expressions… calm, startled, and fearful… they can also identify these emotions in human faces.

So where am I going with all this? Is my central protagonist a loner like the young shepherd mentioned in the memorable “Angela’s Ashes”, by Frank McCourt? Or is he modeled after the psychopath in Thomas Harris’, “Silence of the Lambs”? Or might the plot be similar to a tale by another Joanna (Cannon), about two young girls in “The Trouble with Goats and Sheep”?       

Hm-m-m-m, you’ll need to wait a year or more to find out. But as the chapters take shape, I’ll preview a couple of them. My last book, “Circles”, a family memoir about my Dutch aunt and her bravery during WWII, was published in 2015, so I am excited to be working on this.

And I have the pandemic to thank for the gift of time, a commodity in short supply during normal times. You remember of course what they say about ill winds… ´tis a rare one that brings no good at all.      

Influencers in Uxmal

Every day I ask myself what I can do to lessen the rigors of “voluntary isolation.” I am still extremely careful but not as much so as I was at the start of the pandemic. However, I can see that taking a few liberties will land me on a slippery slope.

The scientists and governments all over the world tell us – Wear a mask, wear a mask – Please wear a mask. I do, and so do most other people. Yes, masks look dorky and in Yucatan’s hot, humid climate, they are not at all comfortable. But if masks are going to keep us safe, we need to wear them.

Then, over the weekend, I found out that a group of super-hot “influencers” were in Uxmal, running all over the site, mask-less, shirt-less, and clue-less. For their shenanigans and disrespect while visiting Uxmal, and their refusal to adhere to the established health code, INAH-Yucatán (National Institute of Anthropology and History in Yucatan) gave these influencers the heave-ho.

According to Michelle Fridman, the State of Yucatan’s tourism marketing maven, these paragons of social media have a combined following of more the 15,000,000. She says they are not receiving any “money” for their efforts on our behalf, but I wonder about the air tickets, hotel rooms, food, and other perks. Somehow I don’t think they are covering their own “incidentals”.

What is going on here?

In Yucatan, the authentic Maya are not shown as the spokespeople for the “promotion” of the ancient cities, built by their ancestors. No, for those purposes, we have the influencers.

How the tourism marketing and targeting strategies are contrived, differs very little from the tactics of ancient Roman rulers´ to control their citizen’s mindset. Flash & fluff, smoke & mirrors, bread & circus. There’s not much new. But the pursuit of tourism income should not sacrifice decorum or health protocols. Neither Yucatan’s tourism work force nor its other residents should be forced to accept crass behavior and disrespect as the price we pay for the influencers’ stamp-of-approval. Or anyone else’s either.

Those of us who live in Yucatan need to remember that this parched peninsula is one of the most highly respected and culturally revered areas in the whole world. There is no need to cheapen ourselves or our heritage by trying to present our archaeological sites as sexy and oh-so-cool. Give me a break! Visitors should feel honored to be here, and behave accordingly.

I support the INAH’s decision to oust the influencers from Uxmal.