I’m going to do a video blog instead of this writing crap. Soon.  I would do it today, but life is very stressful (for all of us) and I don’t think I can pull together my video look quickly enough.  Not that you care what I look like.  In fact, my video look isn’t any different from my regular look, whatever that is.

First, this virus is killing me. Not literally, yet.  Where do I start? Oh I know…

The first news about the first place the virus was reported in this country was in a rehab facility just miles from my where my mother lives in an assisted living facility in Washington state, the COVID19 epicenter. Mom’s 88.  Right Mom?  I never can keep it straight, but the point is, she’s fine, but you can see the concern.  It’s just hanging there in the upper corner of my mind like an ugly spider, only I can’t reach it.

Ah, the soothing effects of water rippling in the tide pools.

Then, we’re planning a wedding. Thank you, yes, we’re very excited. It’s in May.  Will we all be in quarantine?  I don’t think so, but put that up there in the corner with the other spider.  On top of that, we’re having the wedding in a very cool spot up in the Santa Monica Mountains. The guy who runs the place is great, but he’s very Southern California in attitude, like, okay, it’s fine. That’ll get done. No worries.

Okay, I don’t think he said “no worries,” which is good, because for some reason I hate that expression, which should invariably be followed with the pronoun “dude.”  Whatever.  Point is, he’s pretty chillax, another expression I can do without but seems to have moved from hip-hop to the rest of the culture and may find a permanent home there. When you hear a middle-aged white guy use an expression that used to be hip-hop, you know it’s jumped the shark.  Even jumped the shark has jumped the shark.  He didn’t say “chillax” either, thankfully.

Anyway, it’s our wedding for godsakes, and we want a certain kind of menu, and we’re trying to nail it down with him, and the chillaxed florist and the chillaxed coffee person. Yes, we have a coffee specialist, which is necessary because coffee plays an important role in our life, as anyone who knows Kiki will attest.  We want a plan, but we’re dealing with people, good-natured as they are, who think a plan is, “okay, yeah, that’s fine. We can do that.”  Okay so that’s a smaller spider, but it’s still up there.

Then China, or as our president says “Gina.”  With a hard “i.” What a maroon, as Bugs Bunny would say. As I write this, it strikes me how great a Bugs Bunny cartoon foil our President could be.  Loony Toons.

Here is Wile E. Coyote on the trail in Westlake Village. Wrong cartoon.

Sorry, got a little political there, but not really.  It’s how he says China.  What can I say?

So, on to China.  I admit to manufacturing a product in China.  It is our entire business, one product.  It’s a good product.  You want to look at it?  Here: www.u-selfcare.com.  I looked into making it in the USA, but the cost is 4 times as much, which would make the product too expensive at retail for the regular Joe or Joe-ette.

Anyway, China closes down for a few weeks every year for Chinese New Year. Which happened, but then right on the heels of that is this virus, and the whole country, our little factory included, shut down.  So there’s another big, hairy spider hanging up there in the corner and I try to ignore it but it’s not going away.  And these spiders you can’t just kill, or suck up in a vacuum cleaner.

The election, the political situation, the primaries, the lies and slanders, I won’t get into it because this is not the place, but it’s stressful.  Actually, no place is the place.  People are being difficult in many different ways all over the place and all I want to do is to be left alone. Really, that’s all. Is this too much to ask? Maybe I’ll just self-quarantine even though I’m fine.   I don’t even go on Facebook anymore, for fear of what I might see there, though I have to post this because otherwise, most of my 7 readers won’t know I posted.

Colorful algae and coral is also calming to look at, or so they tell me.

So that’s it then, stress.  No toilet paper?  Soap?  It’s freaking amazing how selfish people can be.  You don’t need all that stuff!  Everyone needs some supplies. Not all of them. People panic and all of a sudden you can’t find a can of tuna.  Your friend (and mine), living off the grid with the guns and the underground shelter is starting to look like a genius.

Since I just vented on my stress, this post needs some balance.  Let’s see, what’s good,..

Well, my right arm works, pretty much.  I have been blessed with spinal stenosis, bestowed upon me by my paternal genetic line.  I manage it pretty well, but one morning last year, I woke up and couldn’t use my right arm.  I could move it and you might not notice much difference if you saw me, but I couldn’t lift a coffee cup.  I couldn’t place pills in my mouth with my right hand.  I couldn’t lift my arm to put on deodorant.

Turned out I had a compressed nerve in my neck, in the part of the brachial nerve that enervates the long head of the biceps.  Thankfully, I’m pretty fluent in anatomy, so I know what that means.  They told me it might be permanent, but we tried physical therapy.  At first, I couldn’t curl one pound. A five year old child can curl one pound.  Four year olds, even.  Or 1.5 kg, or whatever.  It was very frustrating.

Worst of all, it affected my guitar playing.  I couldn’t strum with a pick, as I had for 55 years. (It’s weird to say you’ve done something for 55 years, even if it’s just breathing.)  So I had to learn to play only with my fingers, a skill I hadn’t developed much before this.  It was still difficult because it was hard to hold my arm in the position to play.  I would kind of prop it up on the guitar.   And I couldn’t play more than a half hour at a time. What good came from it?  I finally learned how to fingerpick, and may never stop.

Meanwhile, I went from PT to PT because of insurance and we kept working and doing exercise and some treatments, and home exercise and light traction, and now I can do 3 reps of 10 curls at 5 pounds.  I know, it’s pretty pathetic for a grown man but the last PT said it’s almost a miracle and if I keep it up it might come all back.  I can strum again (although I play mostly without a pick now), and I can play for a couple of hours without fatigue.  So, that’s good news, right?  Self-quarantining presents one with a lot of guitar time.

You probably expected a “muscle/mussel? joke.  Sorry. One can learn something about being present in the moment from the mollusks, but I’m not sure what it is.

So, there you have it, why I’m stressed.  I’m not special.  We all are.  I can feel it.  We need a national mediation or something.  It’s gotten to the point where I’m writing un-funny posts.  That’s why it might be good to try the video blog anyway. Even if it’s depressing, it can be funny. Because I’ll make stupid faces and stuff.  Even now, as writing this, I’m making funny faces.

Well, that’s it for me this week. I’m sure you’re stressed too, some more than others.  Some people seem to take it better.  We saw Patti Smith last week. She was phenomenal. Still such a powerful voice and she danced around and sang and read poetry. She said, at the end, let go of the stress. Stress is bad for the immune system and so we now have an even better reason to let it go.

That’s Patti down there, rocking it with her band. She’s 75 for godsakes.

Okay, Patti, we’ll try.

So what have we learned?  Not much.  I’m stressed. You’re stressed. We’re all stressed. Except for Patti Smith.  Hang in there everyone. Take a breath and don’t panic. And leave some toilet paper for the next person, will ya?

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