marriage is built on a foundation of innumerable failures

In my journal recently, I wrote this:
“Marriage is built on a foundation of many things, one of which is forgiveness for an innumerable number of failures.”
I feel fortunate that I entered into shelter in place with someone with whom I spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We’ve practiced enough conflict resolution, been to enough marriage therapy, sorted out lots of doubts or insecurities, seen each other through levels of stress and difficulties.
We approach marriage that divorce is an option, because you know what, I refuse to flash a badge of carte blanche to hide behind “til death do us part” or “for better and for worse.” Marriage is hard fucking work. And if I screw it up, and Tina wants to leave me, she should have that right. And vice versa.
But I know we’d go out in a ball of furious firey fighting to save it first. Splitting would be last resort after all efforts to reconcile were exhausted.
For me, it’s a beautiful institution chockfull of sticky, dirty, shitty, no-doubt awful times … mixed with a whole helluva lot of great, good, heavenly, mediocre and boring ones.
Tina comes from a divorced situation. I come from a thick-and-thin 51 years of marriage trials and tribulations. I’m adopted. So we share our fair number of abandonment wanderings and psychological baggage.
I sincerely hope my friends are balancing their approach to the stress of this damn pandemic with a bit of long-term clarity. This, too, will surely pass.
I hope.
I imagine it would be incredibly easy to hyper focus on the foibles of your spouses or partners: the unkept hair, the lack of clipped nose hair, the grays coming through, the unflushed toilet, the stench of a few too many days without a shower, the one, two or twenty drinks too many, the barked response to, “What are you making for dinner?”, the kids screaming and there’s not enough Calgon to take you away … all those idiosyncrasies that were tolerable before 24/7 stay at home orders.
I hope to the heavens we get through this. You get through this. We get through this. And if you don’t stick to staying together, that’s okay, too. Life is also founded on an endless number of failures.
Then comes the big dose of self-compassion.
Self, you are forgiven.

April Media Journal 2020

During this pandemic, I’ve spent less time than I thought in front of the boob tube. But reading is a challenge. We’ve been painting our house, which has helped to distract. And then some life challenges for a friend of mine have also become a factor. All in All, April was and continues to be, the weirdest month in all of my life.

I don’t know about you, but reading has been tough during this time. I finally finished American Gods. I had to renew it a few times. It’s a long book, but the virus made it longer! I may never finish Bag of Bones, because it’s long and I find myself reading paragraphs over and over and over because my mind drifts. I will probably finish Chelsea Handler’s little, semi-funny memoir in a second sitting. 

Bag of Bones | Stephen King
Still in the first 100 pages, but have probably read 500 pages, because my mind wanders and I have to reread so many pages/paragraphs.

Are you there Vodka, It’s Chelsea | Chelsea Handler
Semi-funny telling of what seems to be an unbelievable life … prison time? I’m just going to finish it to feel like I accomplished at least ONE book reading in a month. 

American Gods | Neil Gaimon
I wouldn’t say I loved this book, but it was distracting enough and okay enough to finish. 

Much of my movie watching experience has been guided by having a buddy of mine stay with us due to a coronavirus-induced decision by his wife to leave. I’ve seen all of the below over three times a piece. 

My Blue Heaven
“What’s an arugula?” “It’s a vegetable.” No one should go to sleep until they’ve watched this movie at least one time. 

The Jerk
Endlessly funny. Great, great bits. Highly quotable. 

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Third viewing. I’m fascinated by this piece of cinema. Soundtrack is nothing short of amazing. I love the performances. Andy McDowell’s daughter is a treat. 

In the weirdest time in modern history, the live shows have to be the most notable achievements of my media diet. 

Righteous Gemstones
A must watch, in my opinion. A great exposé on the possibility that the megachurch is as corrupt and out of control as any crime syndicate. Danny McBride is damn near genius. Fun show! And yes, I know it’s fiction. 

Great News
Surprisingly funny, entertaining show. 

Haven’t finished this, but I LOVE Ozark. Ruthie is my dream girlfriend (don’t tell Tina!) and Darlene is my arch nemesis … and they’re just characters in a brilliantly dark show. 

Tiger King
The podcast was good. The show is better. 

The Young Pope
Slow burn. Well done. Liked it better than I thought. The pope’s form of Christianity is something to consider. Loved it by the end. 

Awesome to see what the virus is doing to TV. The first one they made since lock down was hilarious. 

Seth Myers
Good on Seth for figuring his show out. It’s not great, but it’s watchable. 

John Oliver
I’m not watching every one of Oliver’s episodes, but man, he’s probably got the best production values of all the self produced shows I’ve been watching. Which aren’t many. 


Winston-Salem NPR, WFDD
Quiet, non-screaming, sobered news is extremely welcome during this time. I’ve seen some moving pictures and my anxiety goes up. In the broken record world of incessant covid-19 news, I’ll take voice over picture + voice any day. 

Public Radio Classical Music | Winston-Salem
Surprisingly nice to put on during this time, especially in the mornings while I’m journaling.
My favorite radio station for music streaming. 
The equivalent of French PBS news … And it’s far superior as it’s not in English, it’s more calm, but the international news roundups are incredible and enlightening. 

New Yorker: The Challenges of Post-COVID-19 Care

The below is from this article in the New Yorker:

But when the infection is bad, it’s really bad. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, covid-19 patients who need to go on ventilators generally need them for much longer than people with other respiratory problems. For patients with severe emphysema, the average duration of mechanical ventilation is about three days; for those with other acute respiratory distress syndromes, it’s around eight. At our hospital, most of the covid-19 patients who have needed ventilators have needed them for weeks. Extubation has been no guarantee of liberation: often, we’ve had to reinsert the tube within days, if not hours.

Prolonged intubation creates all sorts of problems. While patients are intubated, they need powerful sedative medications; many also receive paralyzing drugs to keep their reflexes from fighting the ventilator’s tube. (Some must be physically restrained to prevent them from pulling out catheters and tubes in their delirium.) Patients who survive intubation often find themselves profoundly debilitated. They experience weakness, memory loss, anxiety, depression, and hallucinations, and have difficulty sleeping, walking, and talking. A quarter of them can’t push themselves to a seated position; one-third have symptoms of P.T.S.D. A 2013 study of discharged I.C.U. patients, many of whom had been intubated, found that, three months after leaving the I.C.U., forty per cent of them had cognitive test scores one and a half standard deviations below the mean—roughly equivalent to the effect of a moderate traumatic brain injury. A quarter showed cognitive declines comparable to early Alzheimer’s disease. The longer patients were in the I.C.U., the worse the consequences became.

Read the whole thing.

One of the many early items of information I read back in February was that the post-infected uncertainties were many. That patients who experienced the disease would experience a mixture of auto-immune deficiencies as well as neurological issues. The disease doesn’t just “go away”. Its ability to prolong and deplete the body of its normal health for the patients’ life could be scarier than an already scary disease.

Yesterday, it was my godson’s birthday. I went to a Walmart on the way to his home to buy and drop off a present. I pulled into the parking lot, and I gasped. “Holy mother fucking shit!” The parking lot was packed and the line to go in was not there. That means every car represented at least ONE person inside, and the likelihood was that it equaled far more … especially in the south where families are abundant.

I was in a catch 22 because I didn’t want to go empty handed to my godson’s birthday drop off … I had driven about 40 minutes to get there. I donned my mask, rushed in, found a John Dear tractor toy, checked out and hosed myself in disinfectant at my car. We are in trouble here should an outbreak occur. Now I’m wondering if it would be safer to go back to Chicago.

Facebook City and its burgeoning delusional crazy sign people

You know how a feature of big cities is the ubiquity of people who protest to all passersby their delusions and supernatural ideas? They create signs and pack them with information. They shout at the top of their lungs or they roll a portable speaker connected to a microphone. They aren’t out there to be liked. They are out to share the “love”. The love of “truth”. The love of damnation. The love of steering the flock to their ideas. 

As a photographer, I’m fascinated by all people, but these in particular have a special place in my heart. How liberating to care less if they are perceived as odd. Their message is propagating, albeit, to closed ears. Their success has to be in the .001 percent levels.

They are in big cities, because the likelihood of marginalized people have a statistically better chance of surfacing. And if you look closely, they share a network of similar attitudes toward whether they are liked or not. They care more for their message than their appearance, or so they claim. They look in the mirror and the reflection staring back is the smartest, best looking, lover of truth they could ever imagine. 

People exist in rural settings, but their street corners aren’t as populated. And just like the debate falling trees in the forest, rarely do we hear their voices or read their signs.  

Then came along the burgeoning city of Facebook. It first populated by adolescents wanting to judge people aesthetically. Then families and adults migrated into the suburbs of Facebook City as it became a sprawling metropolis. They came also to judge and be judged. It became a place to share, to be jealous, and to writhe with envy when you discover that friend from kindergarten owns a gorgeous million dollar home, a gated mile long driveway, drives 10 really nice cars, has a perfectly gorgeous spouse, and three perfect children. They have 100s of friends who share funny stories and anecdotes. 

Then people friended people with oppositional ideologies as theirs. In real life, they would bypass engaging in politics, science or religion conversations. And if they did engage in controversy, common ground was easier to find. But in Facebook City, those social mores vanished. The culture of armchair theologians, wannabe scientists and know-it-better-than-the politicians grew in numbers networked and cultivated likemindedness. 

Then people with hard-to-read signs emerged. Holding their signs higher and higher. Longer and longer. In Facebook City, the size of one’s sign can be as large as he or she wanted. They claimed they don’t care if they’re liked. They, and they alone, hold the truth. Their information is the right information. Their minds are the ones that matter. The sheep follow the rules. But they aren’t sheep. They are the shepherds. Hear their voices and heed their guidance. 

And the populations of sheep-y people glance over at them, and they walk on. Just like in every city. Because, you know, coo-coo. 

And the hustle bustle continues. 

And I stand there, fascinated by them. Staring. Thank you, Facebook City, for finally allowing me to approach them and talk. It’s kind of fun. 

Ars Technica: Lockdowns flatten the “economic curve,” too

From this article:

Cities that responded faster and more aggressively to the pandemic had better growth in employment and manufacturing output compared to cities with weaker responses. On average, cities that responded eight days earlier had four percent higher employment after the pandemic compared to cities that responded later. And cities that kept their measures in place for an extra six weeks or so had, on average, six percent higher employment afterward.

The world doesn’t shut down for a grain of salt

A couple of friends of mine are still not on board with Covid19 veracity. Talking to them, they say, “You gotta take all this with a grain of salt. We don’t think this bigger than any other disease in the world.”

Insert: “more people die of the flu” claim.

Insert: “the media is blowing this out of proportion.”

Insert: “you’re falling for the hype.”

And, yet, the world has shut down. Not the just USA. Not just China. It’s easier to find where there are not cases than count the countries in lockdown.

As if it’s media hype that is triggering all the sheep to bury their heads in the sand. This information must be taken with a grain of salt?

Do all of my clients stop hiring me for grain of salt? How many of my friends are out of work or incredibly scaled back because of this grain of salt?

Do I apply for unemployment for the first time in 44 years for a grain of salt?

Grains of salt do not shut down country after country after country. I’d be remiss to claim a boulder of salt would do such a thing. But mountains of salt, yes.

This grain of salt conspiracy needs to end.

Risking my respiratory health is probably a bad idea


As a way to pass the time and to be constructive, Tina and I have decided to paint our house in North Carolina.

One of the first stages of the process was to remove cracked window glazing and replace it with new. To remove the old, I sat by the windows with a hair blow dryer and softened the old glaze enough to scrape it off. Dust and debris would kick up. I didn’t realize I should have been wearing at least a regular mask.

The next day, I could feel it in my chest. It burned. And there was a brief period of worry that I had the coronavirus. But the following day, it subsided.

Then we started moving again with painting with paint sprayers. I am personally working on ceilings and the eaves around the house which sends paint everywhere and it falls all over my face. In the mirror, my nose collected a ton of white boogers.

The next day, I could feel my chest burning again. Not a significant burn, but enough to cause concern again about Covid19.

Although a google search rendered many respiratory issue results for people doing exactly what I’m doing, i.e. painting with a spray gun.

Earlier this week, when I was ignorant about the process, I saw two painters’ masks at Home Depot. Probably an oversight after the president asked businesses to donate their masks to the government for hospital use.

Yesterday, they were gone. I’m going to do my best to create a larger barrier between me and the paint using old t-shirts or even boxer shorts. I left cold weather running gear in Chicago that could have been helpful during this mask shortage. Damn.

I was thinking a bit more about my post yesterday. I hope it didn’t come off too harsh against my religious friends.

I wish deeply that science and religion weren’t such enemies.

Part of me was thinking about the idea that religious folks are turning to that mindless trope that this epidemic is punishment from God for LGBT sins or secularization of the world, or Godlessness, or any number of “return to God” scenarios.

But what if it’s actually a call from God to simplicity. To get out of the mindless drudgery of 40, 50, 60, 70 hour work weeks and spend more time at home with family.

Maybe it’s an opportunity by God to give us a break from thinking life centers around one’s job and more about one’s health and the health of others.

Maybe our emphasis is on the wrong life living. Maybe our priorities at church, school, and work need to be re-directed to something else. Politics need to take a back seat. Quiet the world around us to the birds chirping, and stop blasting the atmosphere with all of our pollution and superfluous industries that don’t matter in the long run … but our relationships with our loved ones do.

Even though I can’t see and touch my family, we’re talking almost every day. Tina and I get more time together.

Can’t any of us agree that that is bringing people closer to God?

I wish that the fire and brimstone, this is a punishment, return to God folks would reevaluate their messaging and look at this not as hurting their pocketbooks or their collection plates, but reimagining what is good, honest and loving.