Housekeeping

Where have I been These Past Few Months?


Howdy y’all! I haven’t been posting over the past few months. It looks like since March. I appreciate the folks who’ve inquired after my welfare. I have been an erratic but frequent blogger, but there has been a confluence of events that prevented me from posting or making the time to post. Here, I’ll outline them for us all to read.

School Started

You might recall that there was a pandemic that caused all of China to go into lockdown in mid-February. It coincided with the end of the two-week Chinese New Year holiday. Funnily enough, it isn’t called New Years in Chinese. It is something about the beginning of spring. Go figure. So, we had been on holiday for those two weeks. Many teachers had left the country because holiday, you know. We had stayed because saving money.

We spent the rest of February and much of March — Honestly, I couldn’t tell you how long. It all blurs together. I recall a notice being given to the teachers abroad to return by 15 March, though — in lockdown. Then we decided we had to start teaching by distance. Maybe we started that in February. It really does all blur together.

As it turns out teaching by distance is really hard. You have to re-tool all your material to stand alone and then produce new material to guide your students through it. When we did return to the physical school sometime in April, we were missing a lot of our faculty who had gotten trapped wherever they were or boxed out of China when they closed their borders. So now we’re back in school with tons of restrictions on who can be where when, lots of missing teachers to cover for, and supervisory duties to do.

Long story short, as they say, we were working our butts off.

The US Went Down the Shitter

The Ol’ Pussy Grabber lived down to expectations. I mean the guy just doesn’t disappoint, does he? The shit-show in a dumpster fire added circus clowns, flying monkeys, and whole lot of sick and dead people. Honestly, it was just depressing.

The most depressing part is that I was right. The GOP is suffering from groupthink and their decisions have been increasingly destructive and immoral. Nothing demonstrates this more clearly than their collective response to #COVID19.

It is the most ridiculous crap in the history of the world that our response to the worst pandemic in a hundred years was, “Meh, people gonna die. Whatchya gonna do? Know what I mean?” Oh, and how can I make a quick buck on it all.

Anywho, suffice it to say as things spiraled out of control in April and May, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed. Where could you start in order to explain it all? Actually, I had thought about going back to the beginning — the Enlightenment — and going over the basis of liberal democracies. I probably still will.

Adopted Nieces

Sometime in all of this, towards the end of March that is, I was contacted by two women who were the daughters my late sister had had in her late teens and early 20’s and had put up for adoption. I had only known about the first one. I had often wondered what had happened to her and whether she would ever try to find Cheryl.

It has been terrific fun catching up with them. I love telling stories so trying to explain our family and our history has been a most enjoyable exercise. Learning about their lives has been intriguing and gratifying. It is odd how similar they are to the rest of us in the family.

There was an emotional intensity of exchanging email messages. Looking forward to the next answers and spending time writing the next email. I felt obligated since I am the soul survivor of my family of origin. There were things that only I knew and too many things that I didn’t. There was no one to ask any more, either. My nieces have part of the story. I have part of the story, but no one has the full story. And, no one ever will now.

There was a fair amount of grieving for both my mother and sister that I had to go through. Not only for their deaths but for the life that I didn’t have. The life in which I knew about both of these people, and the life in which my family had a stronger emotional bond. I had to go back through what had happened that had left me feeling so estranged from them.

George Floyd and Black Lives Matter

As if the pandemic debacle weren’t enough, we get the horrific death of George Floyd and the magnificence of the street protests. I figured the protests would continue for ten days, maybe two weeks because fatigue. But, they went on for three weeks and still continue in places.

It was a like stream of bat’s piss that shone like a shaft of gold when all around was dark, to steal a line from Monty Python. I felt buoyed. Hopeful, even.

Surgery

We are leaving China in a few weeks. We’ve taken teaching positions in Cambodia for next year. This year’s medical insurance is crap for anything other than in hospital stays. Last December, a doctor I saw who was familiar with our insurance policy strongly advised me to take advantage of it and have my herniated bellybutton fixed. Procrastinator that I am, I didn’t do it in the winter holiday break, but figured I do it at the end of the Chinese New Years holiday. Ha ha! Fateful decision.

As April drew to a close, I realized I needed to get it done, and China was opening up. I contacted our service provider and started making arrangements. We did all kinds of imaging, ultrasounds, contrasted CT scans and stuff.

I knew I had a cyst on my left kidney. I knew it was big. I had been referred to a urologist in HK to have it treated a couple of years ago. He didn’t think it really mattered. Now, it had grown to 45 mm the threshold for removal.

The other thing they found was a 35 mm kidney stone blocking my right ureter. That is bad because it causes urine to back up into your kidney which can destroy it. And, they found another 30+ mm stone in the left kidney. So, instead of having one surgery, I was going to have three.

It took until June to get the surgery organized and done, which is good because it would be about a month before I could lift heavy objects. A month after the surgery, we would be departing for Cambodia, and I will need to hump our seven or eight bags through airports. That’s my job when we travel: baggage humper.

I had the surgery on a Monday. I got out of the hospital on a Tuesday. I was back in the classroom on Thursday. I would’ve been back on Wednesday, but my bladder was so irritated that I wasn’t continent. No good teaching high school and middle school while dribbling urine all over yourself. No one likes that look.

I was sore, but everything was fine. They did the laparoscopic-style surgery of using only three small holes — four if you count using the urethra to get the ureter stone. They left a stent to help the big kidney stone fall. To my knowledge, it hasn’t yet, but it may be trying to. Next week I get the stent out.

I have a high pain threshold. Pain just doesn’t affect me like it does most people. I feel sensations, just not pain. It was a relief to have the staples and stitches out, for example. I could feel them tug and pinch and rub against my clothing.

Emotional Investment

When I look back on it, I realize that everything I do takes a significant emotional investment. Teaching is an emotional experience. I invest in my students and courses. Creating lessons and study materials takes emotional energy. It’s enjoyable, but it still takes something out of you.

Being a patriot and watching the deterioration of our country and democracy under the Ol’ Pussy Grabber takes an emotional toll. It is distressing, agonizing, maddening endeavor.

Corresponding with my two newly discovered nieces takes an emotional investment. Telling those stories, processing the emotions requires an commitment of time and energy. And, it became a priority for me.

While the George Floyd and Black Lives Matters protests were positive and encouraging, they still took an emotional toll. Not knowing what would happen built more tension than any suspenseful horror movie. I found myself waiting to read about another Kent State or Charlottesville. It was a roller coaster.

Surgery, no matter how minor, takes a physical and emotional toll. There is always risk with a total anesthesia. Everything is harder for a while.

Ending the school year has been difficult, too. It has been one of the hardest endings to a school year ever. Trying to figure out how to get from China to Cambodia has been difficult. It is not easy traveling in the time of #COVID19.

So, that’s my story. I just have not had the emotional energy to put into the blog. I will now. School’s done. We’ll have to pack, move, quarantine, and set up house, but there should be time and energy enough to blog frequently and erratically again.

Image Attribution

The image was found using a Creative Commons search. The image was created by jijake1977. It is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

20 replies »

    • Howdy Francese!

      It is good to hear from you! Glad to hear that you are surviving our pandemic and period of civic unrest. While the pandemic may not allow us to get back to normal, it is time for me to. I’m looking forward to writing a few blog posts that have been percolating during my “idleness.”

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Like

    • Howdy Tengrain!

      I keep those darker scenarios at bay with a combination of clever VPN usage, obscuring my true identity and alternating a healthy clean-living vegan lifestyle with heavy drinking and copious snarky, sarcsticky, and profaney commentary. One can never be too careful living in China and that is all I will say on the matter.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Like

  1. Well, there’s another thing we share, the Umbilical Hernia. I was scheduled to get mine fixed on April 2nd. Then, at the end of March the local hospital system suspended elective procedures. It finally got done two weeks ago, right before COVID cases in the State started ramping up again.

    Trump is indeed running true to form. He does not hear inconvenient information, and if he is forced to admit to hearing it, then it is not true. At least the polls appear to be running in the right direction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!

      I’m pretty pleased not to have a pouting belly button any more. If we ever bump into each other in, say, Constantinople International Airport, we can swap war stories of our umbilical hernias over a beer. Mine, at least, is quite unusual, which has caused some friction with my Chinese doctors who cannot quite accept that it was caused by some other method than the standard — no use going into gory details here — and keep trying to treat them.

      It has taken the catastrophic destruction of our economy — no one seems to care much about the 126,000+ dead or overwhelmed hospitals — to get people to realize that the shipwreck of state cannot be steered by lies alone. It may whittle Trump’s support down to just the most hardcore of the base by election day. And, now all we have to do is overcome the GOP voter suppression efforts, foreign interference, and out-and-out ballot-box stuffing to actually get the bastards out.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

      • There was a report yesterday that some GOP insiders think Trump might drop out in response to the terrible poll numbers. I think his narcissism could drive him to not play in a game he became convinced he could not win. On the other hand, the threat of quitting would hugely agitate his core base. It is a thing to ponder, what happens to a guy like him when he genuinely understands that he is in something way over his head and cannot spin his way past it. The most likely answer is that he becomes even more dangerous and impulsive.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Howdy Bob!

        I wrote about this way back in December of 2018 in a post called Will He or Won’t He: The Implications of having a Narcissist in Power (https://wp.me/p7vabV-5pF). The trick to figuring out how Trump’s narcissism will affect his leaving the White House is understanding the narcissistic delusion and narcissistic wound. The delusion is the belief that you’re the best at everything under the sun and the wound is when that belief gets challenged beyond deniability. Remember Trump tweeting about how he’s our favorite president and the best president and all that garbage? His very model of a modern stable genius talk. All of that is an expression of his narcissistic delusion. He needs it to maintain his narcissistic facade of being the best.

        Right now, he is experiencing the narcissistic wound. The idea that the polls aren’t wrong and that he really is losing and really could lose in November, means he’s not our most beloved president. When he’s wounded like that, he lashes out and tries to destroy whatever is causing the wound. It is these moments when he is the most dangerous and it is likely one of the things driving his inaction on #COVID19. He literally is avenging himself on those of us who would dare not vote for him.

        Eventually, though, the crisis passes — no one can stay in crises forever — and he will return to equilibrium. As a narcissist, he will make the return quite quickly. It is too threatening to be wounded. It is one reason he was golfing this weekend and he is persisting in the lie that he was never briefed on the bounties that Putin put on American soldiers in Afghanistan. He’s soothing himself (also the topic of a blog post, The Real Reason for the Lies, Jactations, and False Offers of Trump, https://wp.me/p7vabV-5Iv). Then he’ll find some way of re-inflating his bloated ego.

        Trump’s narcissism is such that he will always believe he is on the cusp of victory. Always. He may be down in this moment, and people, especially Ivanka and Hope Hicks, may be trying to convince him to resign or drop out of the election — the GOP could play tough guy and force him out, but they fear the base too much — but he will bounce back. Never underestimate the power of the narcissistic delusion, especially in such an extreme narcissist.

        Huzzah!
        Jack

        Liked by 2 people

      • I’m reminded of a saying much repeated in 12 Step circles; “Never underestimate the power of denial.” This does apply to the max with Trump. But, he is clearly experiencing the wound as expressed in his remark in an interview that, “Some people don’t love me.” That must hurt.

        If his approval numbers fall below 35% and the strong disapproval goes above 60%, many in the GOP will see him as toxic to the rest of the ballot and fear a wipe-out election. The “Lincoln Project” members (GOP establishment types, including many “never Trumpers”) already do and are running adds against him, including some targeted at him to rub salt in the narcissistic wound. This is going to be both interesting and ugly.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Howdy Bob!
        So many thoughts; so little time!

        So, when I was a social worker, we used to say denial was useful and not to be challenged too glibly because (a) unless the person was ready to hear the challenge and deal with it, you’d just fight with them; and (b) that time spent in denial was used to assemble the resources both internal and external to deal with the issue. Applying these ideas to Trump, he will never be ready to hear the challenge and is one of the reasons he can only fight with people. And, he’s not using his time to gather resources to deal with a situation; he’s gathering resources to exploit it or escape it.

        The GOP finds itself in the same situation as they did with Nixon. It is too late to abandon Trump and hope that they can salvage their own butts. The GOP took a drubbing in that election. If they abandon him now, they lose the hardcore base that still supports him and the independent vote that is hardening against him. Who will vote for them now? I think in the primaries five moderate GOP House incumbents lost to right wing candidates.

        This may be part of Mitch McConnell’s strategy. He plays a longer game, so he probably has written off the 2020 election and is looking at the 2022 election as the GOP come back tour. And, he’s retiring after this next term — should he win — thus his determination to pack the courts with radically unqualified ultraconservative justices.

        Huzzah!
        Jack

        Liked by 2 people

      • There are both functional denial and dysfunctional denial. The latter kind is generally a stone wall (consider the response of many when it is suggested they are racist). Trump cannot learn or grow. Mitch does play a different game, but his judges are going to be trouble for a long time after he is dead. His defeat is devoutly to be hoped for.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Howdy Bob!
        One more thought: If the Lincoln Republicans would target some of Trump’s biggest enablers, Mitch McConnell, Mike McCarthy, Devin Nunes, and others, then you might see a splintering and distancing from Trump by individual candidates.

        Huzzah!
        Jack

        Liked by 2 people

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