Over the River and through the Wood

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Someday, when the snow has passed.

Yes, I’ve return to Gran’s house, for this 3rd – but not final – tour of duty. My parents tuned up Gran’s ’97 Chevy and brought it up to Nor Cal for me. Excellent for me. That cuts down on present and future ride sharing / begging. Although Hugh tells me if I ever want to sail up to Vancouver from California, on a rich person’s 40′ superyacht, as crew, he knows someone that moves such boats around for fun and profit.

Mutti got Gran her first shot of the Moderna vaccine Feb 2. The pharmacy pre-scheduled her 2nd dose that day. So, really blessed. I know so many people who have had so much trouble trying to get a vaccine. In Gran’s county, Latinos are 66% of cases, and 42% of deaths. Whites are 24% of cases and 44% of deaths. Asians make up 3% of cases, but 8% of deaths. So here, being really old and White or Asian, means you really need a vaccine so as not to die. I know that probably upends some expectations. But that’s how it is here.

Anyway, reactions to the vaccine? Yes. Day 2, a pale pink band about 3″ wide around injection site, kind of hurt. Day 4, bright red, hot to the touch, puffed up about 1/4 inch. By Day 6 is started to go away. By day 8 it was back to pale pink band. Day 9 almost gone. But Day 10? Holy moly. It grew to about 4″ around the site and turned bright red again. By day 13 it was fading again. Currently it looks sort of tan, and still 4″ around the site involved. Mutti called her doctor. Apparently this kind of reaction is a common thing.

v-safe after vaccination health checker graphic
Do it for your community.

Gran said it didn’t matter. It’s worth it. She signed up for V-Safe as well, to make sure the CDC gets the data it needs. Doing her part for research on the over 90 group. She gets her next shot March 2. I’m thinking we’ll ask for it in the other arm. Her neighbor got the same shot, and ended up laid out with 105 degree fever, hand tremors, headache, extreme tiredness…not great. Gran’s doctor says that’s the sort of reaction you might get with the 2nd dose. I haven’t heard anything like that about 1st does of vaccine shots from the CDC so … I dunno.

I probably won’t be able to get a vaccine till May, but more likely Sept. I’m not sure if they’ll booster people in Sept that got the vaccine in Feb, like my Gran. Guess we’ll have to wait and see. I’m hopeful mass vaccines will have the US in a better place by Sept. But I’m not lying to myself. Containment is hard when people are actively pro-death by covid in many states. There’s a whole world out that will likely be contending with covid still. There will be a 4th and final tour for me here. And that’s okay.

The Significant Other is still whittering away up north. His folks are still in residence. The Netherlands extended their lockdown to March 2. Then a giant snow storm hit Amsterdam and shut down the airport. His mother said she’d had it. La Mere says they are staying till their permission to remain runs out in April. And what La Mere decides, Le Pape agrees to. So, my cats are still being held hostage, er, cared for at their luxury condo. How long that arrangement will last now that I’m not their to provide additional litter box cleaning and kitty entertainment? I’m not sure.

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What do you mean I have to go “home”?

As I promised not to continue on with my TB (Tibetan Buddhism, not tuberculosis) as a topic, I will not. I will say that the covid project continues. And, as part of my honoring my commitment to doing good, I feel obligated to inform those of you that care and feel you need this, the Paramita Centre is doing at Medicine Buddha empowerment online on March 6. This is in English via the Toronto center. They are hosting it in French the following day, on March 7, through the Montreal branch. Ok, done.

Mutti didn’t look so frazzled when she left, but she did leave the house, the laundry, and Gran’s taxes in a bit of a state. More fun for me! Minka and the squirrels were glad to see the back of her. A bit sad for me though. I’m really proud of my mother. Because she was finally proud of herself, for getting through, and being resilient. She doesn’t like So Cal. She doesn’t like the heat, the earthquakes, the droughts, the monsoonal rains, the high winds, the constant fire danger. She calls is living in a siege mentality. I understand. It’s not the place for everyone.

My mother’s a strong person, but strong and pandemic strong are horses of a different color to be sure. She was sorely tested at the end of January. After just one rain storm early in the season, she’d been living week after week through the drought/fire danger. Then suddenly it was over 90 for a week. High fire danger. Then there followed 3 days of winds 60+ mph with gusts of 90. Extreme fire danger. Then she saw the wind had torn 50 shingles off the roof. And this is where she dug deep and got pandemic strong.

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Real women aren’t afraid to roof.

In the 2 nice days that followed, Mutti took off work and spent 8 hrs a day, on the roof, getting covered in Henry’s black rubberized mastic and re-setting new shingles. She only had those 2 days because on the evening of day 3 it was going to rain, monsoonally. So, after 2 days of maddness on the roof, she pulled on the gum boots and spent day 3 soaking and placing the heavy, wet, dirty, Quick Dams and putting out rainsheets and buckets. Then 2″ of rain fell in 24hr period, meaning lots of going out and emptying buckets in the cold rain. Then, the skies cleared and she spent a day cleaning everything up and putting everything away again.

At which point, she collapsed in a heap. Nevertheless, she had bested So Cal at its worst. She felt proud of herself for that. She always had this idea of having “runaway” from So Cal, to a better life. But after this she realised, she hadn’t run. She was tough enough. She could have stayed and bested it. She just didn’t want to. She chose to leave and make a better life elsewhere. It’s funny the images we have of ourselves (and others). How we carry around old ideas about ourselves that were either never true or we’ve long outgrown.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. This, and idea of an authentic self vs an adaptive self. If you don’t quite follow, I’ll try to nutshell it. You are you, the nice guy. Till you are sent to war. Then you kill a lot of people. You adapt to survive. But when the war ends, do you fully return to your authentic “nice guy” self? Is it possible? Or do you struggle with your identity? Can you accept what happened and try to integrate it into a now larger picture of yourself? Doesn’t have to be war, could be cancer, job loss, a million things.

Normally, you don’t remain in the adaptive, survivor, self mode. The crisis that created the adaptive self ends eventually. You go back to “normal.” That’s the idea anyway. That’s what people think. But it’s not always 100% true. You might get stuck in adaptive mode. Life goes back to normal, you don’t and can’t figure out how to. For most people, it’s a process. What happened, and why, what you did as a response…. It gets processed. It all becomes integrated into one’s authentic self. If that doesn’t happen, it’s almost impossible to get out of adaptive mode and move back toward an authentic self.

Even when we aren’t forced into change, temporary adaptive change, like having to use crutches because you broke your leg skiing, your authentic self changes — if you want it to. You learn (stay on the lower slopes), you grow (I don’t need to panic in an avalanche), you authentically change (maybe ski joring next year). We humans love to adapt ourselves for no reason at all other than its novelty. But usually those changes are still in keeping with our authentic self. Adrenaline junkies don’t stop skiing to take up golf. They take up base jumping. It’s a very curious thing, trying to sort out what’s authentic about ourselves.

I think about this a lot more since I started watching Resident Alien with the wonderful Alan Tudyk (the entire cast is wonderful). The show is a study in authentic vs adaptive selves, and how they meld, or don’t. Almost every character in the show is hiding all or part of their authentic self. The boy, Max, who struggles to get people to believe he authentically sees an alien. The alien, Harry, who struggles to remain authentically alien, in the face of having to adapt to becoming a version of the authentic Harry human in order to survive. I haven’t read the Dark Horse comic this tv series is based on, I don’t know where it’s all going, but I’m along for the ride.

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I’m going to throw out some thoughts about Resident Alien plotlines now. Feel free to skip down to the next section if you don’t want to hear them. The boy who sees the alien (though no one believes him), and the alien who knows the boy sees him have the only “real” (based on reality) relationship here. They can only be authentically themselves when they are with each other. I’m guessing they become friends — of a sort. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. At some point the boy and the alien will probably have to save each other from the government’s agents.

I’m also guessing, since the RA mentioned the existence of other aliens, there are other aliens. Those aliens might not want humans destroyed. Maybe because of research they do here, or maybe they retire here, or may it’s just a good place for hiding out? At any rate, this could create drama. The RA never says why his species thinks humanity has to die. And with humanity gone, are other aliens moving in? We don’t know. Destruction typically has purpose. You don’t plow up a field for the heck of it.

Then of course, there is the original sin. The murder of the town doctor, Sam. The episodes so far keep glossing over this, but the only person who could have committed Sam’s murder, because of the technical nature of it (poison gas, closed lab), is Dr Van der speigle, the very person whose identity the RA has assumed. As to the real motive for the murder by the real Dr V? I couldn’t say. BTW, Van Der Spiegle, roughly means from in the mirror, in Dutch.

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Which self do you see?

Anyway, back to authentic vs adaptive. During my last tour I told you about the SO painting my white car a charcoal color, instead of white (as it was), or green (his preferred color), or black (the EU popular color), or grey (the Canadian popular color). I speculated that he was threading the needle to please his parents and the Canadians. I speculated he was not being authentic, but adaptive. So I asked him about it. And he said….

He painted it that color because that way I would never be lost in a snow bank and die. Um…what? He reminded me of the “vivid horror tales” I’d told him. Um… what? About all the people who vanish every year in So Cal by going off the road at night and into a dense brush-covered canyon and are never found for years. Uh, okay. I don’t remember them as vivid horror tales, more like cautionary tales of why you drive safely in canyons, but …. I could see his point.

“But, why that color?” I asked. “Why not any other color, bright orange, sunny yellow?” He said, “What color do you think it is?” I really couldn’t say. Sexy charcoal with mica flecks is what I think he wanted to hear. I shrugged and shook my head. He looked a little perturbed. “I had it painted your favorite thing color.” My favorite thing color? I admit to being obviously perplexed at that point. “The night sky.” he said in exasperation. “Because you love the dark night.”

Image result for night sky
Hmm, I see it now.

Oh My God. Until he said it, I hadn’t seen it. After he said it? It was so glaringly obvious. Crap. He didn’t choose that color out of his adaptive self. He chose it out of his authentic self. The kind, loving, generous self I’ve always known him to be didn’t want me dying a horrible death. His authentic self wanted to give me the gift of something rare and beautiful that my authentic self would cherish.

The problem wasn’t with him at all. It was with me. Although, it wasn’t with me either. My authentic self always asks questions. And my authentic self loves him, and therefore always wants him to be his true self. Not held back by me, his family, my family, the community we live in, nothing. In my authentic love for him, I completely missed his authentic love for me. It was kind of like a bad O’Henry story. Which I mentioned, and then we both laughed. Authentically.

All’s well that ends well. And the Friday love song confirms it.

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