Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2020

Archive for the category “Disease”

My Childhood In The Distant Past

Reluctant as I am to say so I must admit something: I am an old man. My youth was in a Post-World War Two 1940s and 1950s.

I was born in 1946 in Cleveland and raised in a small town in the hills of Western Pennsylvania and, in many ways, I lived a childhood rooted in the 19th century. Whenever I tell someone of my daily life they react as if I was telling them a story about an earlier time. They find it hard to believe when I tell them that my mother bought her fruits and vegetables from a man with a horse drawn wagon, we had bearded hobos knocking on our door for a handout, and quarantine signs on our front door whenever a kid got one of the many childhood diseases.

When I moved from The Valley to go to college in The Big City people were amazed and amused when I told them about The Pony Man.

There were few times more exciting for the neighborhood kids than those days when the old wooden wagon piled high with fruits and vegetables and pulled by a pinto pony came down the street. The Pony Man’s name was Carmine and the pony was Tony. My mother would make her selections and drop her money into the basket that sat on the seat next to Carmine. Business concluded Tony would move on to their next stop. Tony knew the route by heart.

A remnant of the Great Depression were the Hobos who “Rode the rails” from coast to coast looking for work. Many of them had been wandering for decades unable to leave the life on “The Road.” Our house was just two blocks up from the river and the main railroad tracks that carried passengers and

freight up and down the Valley. It was not unusual for a Bearded Hobo to knock on our back door looking for a handout and/or an odd job. My mother was a soft touch and handed out a lot of sandwiches. I once found this symbol scrawled on a tree near the house. It meant that a nice lady lived there.

There were also “Tinkerers” who would walk through the neighborhood shouting out “Knives sharpened! Pots Fixed!” Tinkerers were itinerant repairmen, the original “Jack of all trades” workers. They would help the neighborhood Mothers by pounding out dents in their pots and pans and grinding the kitchen knives sharp again. Those were not throw-away items.

Given recent events in our world most people are seeing the word “Quarantine” for the first time. I grew up seeing that word a dozen times a year.

In the 1950s there were a number of highly contagious diseases that were often called “Childhood diseases.” Measles (3 different versions), Mumps, Chicken Pox, and others would sweep through every

year and the local Board of Health would try to control the diseases by posting “Quarantine” signs on our front door. It meant that no one got in or out of that house until the disease had run its course. My father had several bouts of staying in local motels while I and my brother were sick.

In the Summertime the Quarantine was sometimes violated on purpose. When the word got around that a kid had measles or whatever the neighborhood mothers would throw a “Measles Party” to deliberately expose their kids to the disease just to get it over with before school started again in September. It was somewhat perilous, but effective.

A child’s life in those days in my small town was certainly different. It was a much simpler time in many ways than today. However, it also had its own terrors that no longer exist. Every Summer there was the looming fear of another epidemic of Polio, a disease that is rare today thanks to two men names Salk and Sabin.

I could tell you more stories of my childhood in the time-warp Valley where the modern world collided with earlier days when everyone knew everyone else, your child’s milk came to your door in glass bottles and three cents would send a letter across the country.

Perhaps I will. Let me know what you think I should do.

Strangers In Our Own Land

 

Strangers In Our Own Land

You, me, and the crazy neighbors – all of us on this globe are living – trapped – by a new Draconian rule. 7.8 billion People are being told to somehow, ,avoid each other. This edict has been given the benign sounding name of “Social Distancing.” Theoretically, it is supposed to help to impede the spread of the virus that is making its way around the world. It may very well do that, but it is having another effect that may be even more toxic. That is when “Social Distancing” becomes “Social Isolation” and turns us all into strangers in our own land.

With the everpresent tentacles of the Internet more and more activities that had always been handled face to face between people have become online functions that are now done in the solitary glow of a laptop computer. With the viral pandemic erecting barriers everywhere even more of our daily meetings with real people have become impersonal and hidden behind masks. Looking in the mirror hides us from ourselves.

Things that had once been little more than luxuries have become commonplace. Supermarkets are becoming little more than warehouses as everyone places their orders online and anonymous people wearing gloves and masks drop off their orders in plastic bags outside their door.

Doctors are making diagnoses on Skype. Banks have locked their lobby doors and become online and drive-through businesses. Restaurants of all kinds are serving curbside customers only. Nobody dares to shake hands anymore. Want to give someone a hug? People will run away like you were on fire. If you need a hug – Good Luck.

“Social Distancing” is such a horrid term. There is nothing Social about it and it has absolutely nothing to do with Distance. It is all about keeping people apart, away from each other, isolating 7.8 billion people. I don’t know if we have enough room to keep everyone sufficiently isolated to please the self-anointed “experts.”

 

 

“We’re going to need a bigger boat”

 

Don’t get me wrong. I know there is a virulent virus out there – along with countless others that can be fatal. So can the Measles. So can Polio (that’s still out there, folks), and so can dining on Gas Station Sushi every night. Life can be dangerous. Let’s face it – None of us are going to get out of this thing alive. This virus that is the talk of the town is far less fatal than many other things out there. The hysteria on our TVs 24 hours a day being one of them.

“Social Distancing” creates “Social Isolation” which creates “Social Dehumanization.” The nonstop and constantly contradictory “reporting” fills up the space between the Joe Namath Medicare Insurance ads and pushes people farther apart in many ways. When this viral circus has left town there are going to be a lot of people who will have trouble readjusting to normal social behaviors. How many kids are going to believe that there is a viral boogeyman hiding under their bed at night? How many Social Misfits are being created behind their homemade masks and rubber gloves?

I for one hope that the term “Social Distancing” goes away soon and joins other linguistic hot buttons that became both familiar to us all and incredibly annoying like “Y2K” and “But Wait! There’s more!”

I Hope You Are All Still Out There

Dear and loyal readers,

I closed down this blog at the end of 2019 – I was tired and I didn’t have anything to talk about. Well that certainly has changed. We are now in a new world and what I would like to do is to kickstart a new version of “Down The Hall On Your Left.”

What I propose is a semi-regular format, no more than once a week. It would be a personal journey like the first blog was, but this time it will be different I sense.

So…Here is the initial entry. It is called:

THE WORLD

 

Oh, how the world has changed. My world, your world, our world.

In what seems overnight all bets are off. The game is canceled and don’t get close to anyone. Gee, Thanks, and have a nice day.

A Virus – an entity that is neither alive nor not alive has come into our personal world. It has barged into my world and…the only word I can think of is that I…RESENT it.

I have a life, my life, my only life and why should I have to withdraw into a cocoon, giving up everything? The virus can end my life the talking heads say. Isn’t that what all of the “Precautions’ have done?

I’m pissed! Can you tell?

I know! I know! Life isn’t fair. There are no sure things. There never have been and under the best of circumstances there never will be. But, Dammit, I have things I want to do, places I want to go, and I can’t accomplish any of this with everyone staying six fearful feet away from me.

I am not a youngster anymore and I’ve had a life filled with some fun and wonderful experiences, but I still have plans. I may be old, but I’m not dead. These things that I want to do are more than simple day dreams and wishes. They are things that I must do to survive. There are Stories to be written, Spotlights to be felt. There is Love to be made, and Beaches to be stretched out on. To borrow from Dylan Thomas, “I will not go gently into that good night.” I will have to be dragged away kicking and screaming.

My todays and tomorrows are the products of my yesterdays. There is no denying that. Some of my yesterdays weren’t too great and they have left my todays with some scar tissue. However, I refuse to accept that my tomorrows are to be dictated by something that started out dripping in a Chinese market.

OK, I think you’ve picked up on my thoughts – virtually all of them are negative about the virus and its impact on my life. I like it less than even cold weather and Blue Cheese.

So what? What am I going to do about it? There is no place for me to lodge a Formal Complaint. There is no person I can stand in front of to rant, rave, and shake my fist at. There is nothing I can do except take a walk and sit on a bench by myself. I’m not good at that.

“You have plans? Forget them. Stay home and don’t do anything.”

This whole virus thing is, almost universally, depressing. How could it not be depressing when every aspect of my life, your life, everybody’s life, has been thrown up into the air? I understand the reality that this is a sickness that can be fatal thereby ending any and all plans, but if I am going to be imprisoned inside an ever-shrinking solitary world I am going to let my feelings be known.

The frustration I have squeezing my head and heart is pushing me into acting in a way I do not like in myself. I’m letting everything translate into a short temper. I find myself lashing out at whoever gets too close without offering up a solution. I lash out at the television, the electric sputum box of our time. Even dogs and cats give me a wide berth.

I’m not like this, except now I am.

What do I propose to do about all of this? What can I do about this?

There are too many forces in play that are beyond my control and even my comprehension. Science, Politics, and Anger are all parts of what is happening. Which part has dominance over my world changes daily.

Just about every day I get my carcass out of a chair, put on my jacket and hat and go for a walk. Do I like going for a walk? No. But I do it anyway. It gets me out of the house/internment camp and I suppose it is good physical therapy. It must be good for me because it hurts like hell.

I am able to get some sunshine on those days when the sky doesn’t look like an extreme close-up of a bowl of mashed potatoes. Most days have been high-carb lately. Getting some sunlight is crucial to me. It is a good source of Vitamin D in non-pill form and it helps to keep me alive. I’m a lot like a sunflower. I turn to the sun for life giving light. Without it I turn toward other sunflowers for solace or I wither.

So, I dress appropriately and head down the driveway. If I turn left I walk 4/10ths of a mile down to a bench that is by a church and a small rock garden. I sit there until the swelling in my left ankle goes down and then I chalk up another 4/10ths to get me back home. If I see other people on the street they mostly turn to avoid eye contact. Those who do talk as they avoid me are babbling irrationally and grinning like painted clowns.

If I turn right at the end of the driveway I travel on uneven sidewalks for a few blocks and walk up to the drive-through window of a small coffee shop. I tell them that I’m out driving around in my new invisible car. They smile nervously and hand me my purchase. If I continue down the road I eventually end up at that same bench only I have a cuppa to go along with my swollen ankle.

This is how I am doing my part to “Flatten the curve” on this virus thing. I walk. I drink coffee.  I swell.

I’m being a responsible citizen they tell me.

What is the hardest part of this New World Order for me to live with? It is the edict that I am not to get any closer than 6 feet to another person. I’m already starved for human contact – this doesn’t make it any easier. The theory is that I might either catch a cootie or give a cootie to the other person who dares to get too close. Without human touch what is the point? Without feeling the caress or even just the incidental contact of another human I stop caring. I give up all hope, and the cooties win.

This is where I find myself today; alone in a crowded world, needing to reach out to another person who is afraid of living like a human.

And so I go for a walk – 4/10ths of a mile. I sit on a bench and look at the painted rocks in the garden while my ankle tries to heal itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Navel Maneuvers

I WAS READING AN ARTICLE TODAY in the online version of that old chestnut of magazines, the Readers Digest. It is pretty much like the paper magazine without the paper cuts.

The article in question caught my eye strictly because of the title,

“8 Parts Of Your Body You Should Never Touch.”

OK. If I don’t then who will?

Read more…

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