Come Visit Me at Medium!

April 2019
I'm finding my way as a writer, and sometimes that means exploring where and how I'm sharing my writing. I started writing at Medium in March, and it's been pretty amazing so far. I'm still writing here, but am over there more often, so please come see me there or visit my main page.

.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Stay Home, Stay Healthy Day 1

Today is the first day of Governer Inslee's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order. All non-essential businesses have until the end of business tomorrow to shut down.

I work at a utility, so we are an essential service, but we'll be working pared-down hours and only one office staff will work each day. We'll work from home as best we can the rest of the time. We are working today and tomorrow, then will all be working from home Thursday. Next week, we'll start our rotation and see how things go.

I have been anxious and worried, and on Friday I had my doctor fill a new prescription for Xanax because I've been having anxiety and panic attacks like I haven't had since the time during my marriage's implosion over five years ago. I am trying not to worry about what's to come, even though I feel like it's going to be very, very bad.

Yesterday when our boss explained the plan, I felt a great sense of relief. I am extraordinarily lucky to work for an employer who is doing their best to offer us maximum protection while providing our customers with the best level of service we can manage. A huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders for the time being.

This morning, I had an idea. I have been worried about our grief - I wrote on Medium about how I don't know where all of our grief is going to go. Not just for the people we will lose, but for our inability to say goodbye or to mourn in the ways we are accustomed to. Beyond that, the loss of whatever our 'normal' was, and all of the things that seem so unsure and scary right now.

I've created a space on Facebook called the Whatcom County Covid19 Memorial. I've probably bitten off more than I can chew, but it feels right in that same way that things do when I know I have something to give. I'm hoping the page will become a place for humans to connect in this time of isolation, and where we can celebrate the lives of those we lose. Right now it's still kind of wispy and dream-like, so we'll have to see where it goes.

I'm feeling a little apprehensive about being at home with my family most of the time. I don't do the best when I'm cooped up, but hopefully we'll be able to manage, and having the kids maintain their time at their other house will definitely be a saving grace for me.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Stay Home, Stay Healthy Announced

Tonight, Governer Jay Inslee announced a Stay Home, Stay Healthy order for Washington State. This means that non-essential businesses must close and everyone is to stay home. I knew it was going to happen, and in fact, I feel like it should have been done sooner.

The Covid19 numbers for Washington are still low, but I know it's only due to lack of testing. The official numbers only show 2,200 positives and 110 deaths. I wonder what the real numbers are. It's frustrating to know that everything is so inaccurate and that things are being under-reported.

As for the United States, today cases increased by 10,000 in one day. It's only going to get worse. I keep reading firsthand accounts by doctors and one doctor from my local hospital has gone very public in the media and on Facebook about how woefully unprepared we are. I am afraid for my community, afraid for all of us.  I can't stop thinking about how people are so naive, unprepared, unwilling to accept how bad this really is.

We are living through something unprecedented. I wonder in a year, five years, ten years, how we will look back on these times. I wonder what our children will remember. I wonder who will not be there to look back on it with us.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Thursday March 19, 2020

Published on Medium today: One Family’s Story Highlights the Gross Mishandling of a Pandemic

In the heart of Washington, an example of how COVID cases in the U.S. are being under-reported and unrecognized.

Eighteen days ago in Bellingham, Washington, things were still normal. 90 miles north of Seattle, our town’s slogan is The City of Subdued Excitement, and we live up to that name. At the end of February, we’d all heard of Coronavirus, but none of us had added Covid-19, shutter in-place, or PCR to our daily vocabularies. To Janet Danielson*, it was a normal Saturday.

On February 29, Janet shopped, took care of her two young children, then met up with some friends for drinks. The bar filled up like it would any Saturday night, and she went to bed content.
The day she started to feel sick, people in Seattle were starting to take notice of this new, unusual virus. Three days later, Janet started to feel sick.

Read the whole story on Medium.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Wednesday March 18, 2020

Things that happened today:


Danny took his piano lesson by video for the first time.

I shared this on Facebook:

Real Talk: It's going to get MUCH, MUCH worse before it gets better.

**Please feel free to share. When you click the share button, you must select the box to "include original post" or it will only share the link and none of the below text.**

Attached is a link where you can read the Imperial College report based on accurate infection and death rate data sets from China, Korea & Italy. It's hard to read, so I've pasted below a really good summary written on Twitter by Jeremy C. Young, an Assistant Professor of History at Dixie State University.

The best case scenario is over 1,000,000 people dead in the U.S. This is not hyperbole or an overreaction. This is based on epidemic modeling.

I'm scared. What's happening right now is disturbing, and unprecedented. Everything is different now than it was in 1918 last time this kind of illness spread. We haven't faced anything like this. Yes, it's possible something extraordinary or unexpected could happen, like the discovery of anti-virals that are effective or a miracle treatment. But it's NOT LIKELY. We need to be behaving as if it's not possible.

It's normal to be scared. We can't panic, but we also need to start preparing ourselves mentally for what we're about to go through. What's happened so far is NOTHING.

xxx

"We can now read the report on COVID-19 that so terrified every public health manager and head of state from Boris Johnson to Donald Trump that they ordered people to stay in their houses. I read it yesterday afternoon and haven't been the same since. I urge everyone to read it, but maybe have a drink first, or have your family around you. It is absolutely terrifying. The New York TImes confirms that the CDC and global leaders are treating it as factual.

Here's a brief rundown of what I'm seeing in here. Please correct me in comments if I'm wrong.

The COVID-19 response team at Imperial College in London obtained what appears to be the first accurate dataset of infection and death rates from China, Korea, and Italy. They plugged those numbers into widely available epidemic modeling software and ran a simulation: what would happen if the United States did absolutely nothing -- if we treated COVID-19 like the flu, went about business as usual, and let the virus take its course?

Here's what would happen: 80% of Americans would get the disease. 0.9% of them would die. Between 4 and 8 percent of all Americans over the age of 70 would die. 2.2 million Americans would die from the virus itself.

It gets worse. Most people who are in danger of dying from COVID-19 need to be put on ventilators. 50% of those put on ventilators still die, but the other 50% live. But in an unmitigated epidemic, the need for ventilators would be 30 times the number of ventilators in the United States. Virtually no one who needed a ventilator would get one. 100% of patients who need ventilators would die if they didn't get one. So the actual death toll from the virus would be closer to 4 million Americans -- in a span of 3 months. 8-15% of all Americans over 70 would die.

How many people is 4 million Americans? It's more Americans than have died all at once from anything, ever. It's the population of Los Angeles. It's four times the number of Americans who died in the Civil War...on both sides combined. It's two-thirds as many people as died in the Holocaust.

Americans make up 4.4% of the world's population. So if we simply extrapolate these numbers to the rest of the world -- now we're getting into really fuzzy estimates, so the margin of error is pretty great here -- this gives us 90 million deaths globally from COVID-19. That's 15 Holocausts. That's 1.5 times as many people as died in World War II, over 12 years. This would take 3-6 months.

Now, it's unrealistic to assume that countries wouldn't do ANYTHING to fight the virus once people started dying. So the Imperial College team ran the numbers again, this time assuming a "mitigation" strategy. A mitigation strategy is pretty much what common sense would tell us to do: America places all symptomatic cases of the disease in isolation. It quarantines their families for 14 days. It orders all Americans over 70 to practice social distancing. This is what you've seen a lot of people talking about when they say we should "flatten the curve": try to slow the spread of the disease to the people most likely to die from it, to avoid overwhelming hospitals.

And it does flatten the curve -- but not nearly enough. The death rate from the disease is cut in half, but it still kills 1.1 million Americans all by itself. The peak need for ventilators falls by two-thirds, but it still exceeds the number of ventilators in the US by eight times, meaning most people who need ventilators still don't get them. That leaves the actual death toll in the US at right around 2 million deaths. The population of Houston. Two civil wars. One-third of the Holocaust. Globally, 45 million people die: 7.5 Holocausts, 3/4 of World War II. That's what happens if we use common sense: the worst death toll from a single cause since the Middle Ages.

Finally, the Imperial College team ran the numbers a third time, this time assuming a "suppression" strategy. In addition to isolating symptomatic cases and quarantining their family members, they also simulated social distancing for the entire population. All public gatherings and most workplaces shut down. Schools and universities close. (Note that these simulations assumed a realistic rate of adherence to these requirements, around 70-75% adherence, not that everyone follows them perfectly.) This is basically what we are seeing happen in the United States today.

This time it works! The death rate in the US peaks three weeks from now at a few thousand deaths, then goes down. We hit, but don't exceed (at least not by very much), the number of available ventilators. The nightmarish death tolls from the rest of the study disappear; COVID-19 goes down in the books as a bad flu instead of the Black Death.

But here's the catch: if we EVER relax these requirements before a vaccine is administered to the entire population, COVID-19 comes right back and kills millions of Americans in a few months, the same as before. The simulation does indicate that, after the first suppression period (lasting from now until July), we could probably lift restrictions for a month, followed by two more months of suppression, in a repeating pattern without triggering an outbreak or overwhelming the ventilator supply. If we staggered these suppression breaks based on local conditions, we might be able to do a bit better. But we simply cannot ever allow the virus to spread throughout the entire population in the way other viruses do, because it is just too deadly. If lots of people we know end up getting COVID-19, it means millions of Americans are dying. It simply can't be allowed to happen.

How quickly will a vaccine be here? Already, medical ethics have been pushed to the limit to deliver one. COVID-19 was first discovered a few months ago. Last week, three separate research teams announced they had developed vaccines. Yesterday, one of them (with FDA approval) injected its vaccine into a live person, without waiting for animal testing. Now, though, they have to monitor the test subject for fourteen months to make sure the vaccine is safe. This is the part of the testing that can't be rushed: the plan is to inoculate the entire human population, so if the vaccine itself turned out to be lethal for some reason, it could potentially kill all humans, which is a lot worse than 90 million deaths. Assuming the vaccine is safe and effective, it will still take several months to produce enough to inoculate the global population. For this reason, the Imperial College team estimated it will be about 18 months until the vaccine is available.

During those 18 months, things are going to be very difficult and very scary. Our economy and our society will be disrupted in profound ways. Worst of all, if the suppression policies actually work, it will feel like we are doing all this for nothing, because the infection and death rates will be very low. It's easy to get people to come together in common sacrifice in the middle of a war. It's very hard to get them to do so in a pandemic that looks invisible precisely because suppression methods are working. But that's exactly what we're going to have to do.”

Study Link

Within hours, my friend provides another study suggesting this isn't accurate either. Information changes so fast and so widely that it's hard to know what's going on at all.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Tue March 17, 2020

As it's become apparent that what we are facing with Covid-19 is like nothing most of us have seen in our lifetimes, I've decided to keep a diary or log. I'm still writing at Medium, but I need a place to share random thoughts, un-hinged feelings, and some good old semi-coherent disbelief about what life has become.

Today is the 2nd day of schools being closed statewide. The kids were not excited about the closures, they'd rather be at school, and Danny would certainly rather be with his friends, especially given that I'm still working.

Tomorrow, we'll be closing our office to the public, but we'll keep working. Things change so fast, day by day, and it's hard to know what's going to be happening at the end of this week or the beginning of next week.

Today was the day I finally tipped from having a shred of optimism to just scared and unsure. Super cool! Anticipation and uncertainty are not my strong suits. I finally cried the ugly cry and it felt good. I'm trying to just remember we are all in the same boat. I miss my Kat. I miss obliviousness. I miss standing on the shore with waves lapping at my ankles rather than standing there watching all the water be sucked out to sea and waiting for the wave.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

2019 in Review

1. What did you do in 2019 that you’d never done before?

Got paid for my own writing in a meaningful way.
Earned a professional certification (aPHR).
Dealt with being the subject of a misconduct investigation at work.
Finally started my own book club.
Signed up for a Memoir Writing Workshop.
Went to a clairvoyant for a reading.
Watched someone give birth.
Bought a 2 piece swimsuit.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

These were my intentions for 2019. I feel like I met most of them in a way I haven't for quite a while. I blew my writing goals out of the water, even though it didn't involve my book (yet). I used my creative muscles. I attended Write Doe Bay again in October, and started a writing workshop in December. And, I paid off one of my credit cards.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes, my best friend Kate had a beautiful baby boy and I got to be there to watch him be born. It was one of the most magical experiences I've ever had.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Not this year.

5. What countries did you visit?

I went to Canada at least once.

6. What would you like to have in 2020 that you lacked in 2019?

Better sleep (I need to go to bed earlier).  More willpower.  More love.

7. What dates from 2019 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

February 2 - Witnessed the birth of the amazing August.
March - Visiting Kira and the girls in Colville
July 4 weekend - Visiting Moclips
October 13-15 - Write Doe Bay 15

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Writing. So much.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I don't know if I really failed much, but money management is still not my strong suit.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I wasn't sick much this year!  Mostly hormonal stuff. I figured out I was allergic to Metformin and it was giving me hives, which was sort of an ordeal.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My ticket to Write Doe Bay.  Tickets to see Jon Boogz and Lil Buck with Kate, Gloria Steinem with Mom, and Hillary Clinton with Scott. Tickets to Colville.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Honestly, I don't think Scott can ever not be on this list.  He supports me more than I can even describe.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

A few people.  Not the least of which is our Commander in Chief.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Food, living expenses, bills

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Write Doe Bay (this will always be on the list)
August (the baby, not the month)
Seeing Jon Boogs & Lil Buck
Regal Cinemas Unlimited plan

16. What song will always remind you of 2019?

Truth Hurts & Good as Hell by Lizzo
Old Town Road

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

Maybe a little happier?  Definitely more stable.

Fatter, but who fucking cares?

Richer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Reading. Volunteering for CTL.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Going to the doctor. Having blood drawn.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

We spent Christmas day at home. We opened presents and I'm pretty sure I took a nap. We ate bacon and cinnamon coffee cake and candy. We celebrated Christmas with Scott's family the following Saturday.

21. Did you fall in love with 2019?

I think I did. It's been a while since that's happened.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

The Good Place. The Magicians. Lost in Space.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Maybe a little bit.

24. What was the best book you read?

Landwhale by Jes Baker

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Fucking Lizzo. 100%

26. What did you want and get?

A bunch of unicorns and dinosaurs. Tickets to some really great shows.

27. What did you want and not get?

Hmm....  I can't think of much right at the moment, which is pretty great.

28. What was your favorite film of 2019?

Knives Out

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 39 this year.  On my birthday, I had a party, but only my best friend and her husband and my mom came. That was fine! We drank and laughed and ate this crazy-ass unicorn cake my mom made for me. During my birthday week I got to go to a dance show with Kate, to see Gloria Steinem with Mom, and to see Waitress with my friend Greg. It was great.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2019?

Cardigans.

32. What kept you sane?

Scott.  Trish (my workwife haha).  Kate.  Zoloft.  Melted Cheese.  Writing.  Love.  Jurassic movies.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

Oh lord. Immigration. Climate Change. Iraq.

34. Who did you miss?

My sister Kira.  My BSPC community.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

August Riehl

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2019.

You don't have to know where to begin to begin.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I just took a DNA test, turns out, I'm 100% that bitch.

Previous Lists:
2018
2017
2016
2015
2012
2011

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Nine

Dear Danny,

We got your spring photos from school this week, and when I opened the frame to put it in, I was suddenly faced with your spring photo from last year. Seeing how much you have changed in just one year took my breath away.

This is my favorite school picture of you so far. You look happy and confident. I asked if they told you to tuck your shirt in, and you said, no, you did it!  I guess you saw other kids with theirs tucked in and decided to? I love your long hair that you don't want cut and the way we can see your painted nails with the pattern you picked out.

You have a big heart and a big mind and big emotions in a body that's still small enough to get put in the front row in your class pictures. You've gotten taller recently, but you've still got some shirts you've had for two years or more that fit you. When I showed my coworker your most recent school picture, she said you looked just like me.

You are a force to be reckoned with. It seems like no matter what you try, you're impressively good at it. You blow my mind constantly with the things you're able to do. It can be hard sometimes, because you want to do everything and when you can't do things right the first time you try, you get frustrated. You absorb knowledge like some kind of giant human sponge, everything from information about world flags, to the worlds tallest buildings, to anything and everything about space you can get your hands on. You love facts and numbers, and you spend your free time reading biographies about anyone from Steve Job to Thomas Jefferson to Martin Luther King Jr.

Our biggest challenge right now is that you have such big emotions, and you don't always know how to handle them. There's been a lot of screaming and some hitting and you tend to yell "Stop talking to me" or "You're making me madder!" a lot when you get frustrated. It's been hard because I don't always know how to give you the tools to help yourself. You get into it with Sam a lot recently, you know exactly how to push his buttons, and you do it.  It reminds me some of me and my sister, she always knew how to get a reaction from me.  You younger siblings.

You want to learn how to ride your bike without training wheels, but the fact that the only way to get there is with a lot of practice and falling down seems maddening to you. Scott took the pedals off your old, smaller bike so you can try practicing just balancing without pedals, so we're hoping that will help.  Once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to go riding with Scott, which would be an amazing activity to do together.

You have been playing the piano for two years now, and you are amazing. You enjoy playing even though sometimes you complain about practicing, and for the second year you did the music artistry program and auditioned for the Washington State Piano Guild.  You had to memorize ten pieces, sight read a piece, and make something up on the spot, all in a room by yourself with the judge. You got rave reviews. I'm so, so proud of you.

You still love playing with cars, and your favorite thing to do at Emily & Megans is play with blocks.
You have tons of Jenga and Keva Blocks and you build towers and structures. Sometimes you take pictures with your tablet and show me when you come back home.

You still love playing Roblox, and you love coding and making little games and things in Scratch. I feel like you want to do everything. This year you've gotten a lot more confident about your physical body and abilities, and you do things like cross the monkey bars and jump from high places. I think that soon you'll probably be in another sport besides swimming, you've told me you like soccer and basketball the most.

All kids seem to have a transition years where they suddenly seem so much older than the year before. Nine feels so much different than eight. You're still shy, but you've gotten so much more independent. Last week, you started walking up the hill from the school bus stop to our house by yourself.

I can't believe you're going to be in fourth grade later this year. You still ask for a lot of hugs and love to lay and cuddle with me in the mornings, but I'm finally starting to see and feel the edges of that slipping away. Somehow, we've actually reached a point where I can just feel in my heart that you're not going to be my baby forever. I'm ready, but I will never be ready.

Happy birthday, little dude.

Love,
Mom

Favorites!

Favorite Book:  Any biography from the "Who is/Who was" series, Anything about space
Favorite Song:  Something Wild from Pete's Dragon
Favorite Board Game:  Castle Panic, Rummikub
Favorite Video Game:  Roblox, Minecraft, Trials
Favorite TV Show: Fresh Off the Boat, Futurama, Bob's Burgers, The Simpsons
Favorite YouTubers:  Real Life Lore, Unspeakable
Favorite Food:  Pizza, Chips & Sauce
Favorite Dessert: Ice Cream
Favorite Thing to Do Outside the House: Spark Museum, Riding your bike, Happy Valley Elementary Playground
Favorite Subject at School: PE
Best Friends:  Rhett, Judson, Scott

Eight
Seven
Six.
Five.
Four.
Three.
Two.
One.
Birth Story.