Life: A Walk In the Park, Literally

I left the house!

2020.10.31 Golden Gate Park Walk, San Francisco

20 new photos added to shared album

Autumn is my favorite time of year, especially because of the warm, clear evenings…

If you look at my photo diary at mobilelene.blogspot.com, you will have already seen these, but the gallery is a bit more inclusive. These aren’t great photos, but they do celebrate the pleasure of being outdoors in gorgeous weather, while being passed by entire families in adorable costumes wandering through the park to or from Halloween gatherings…. Yes, there were dogs in costume, and no, I didn’t photograph ANYONE’S costume – I was there for the park itself.

Life: I VOTED! And I’ve encouraged others to vote!

I am always delighted to get a sticker. ALWAYS.

I completed my four sheet, multi-sided ballot!

I reviewed and/or had enough information to recycle my 340+ pages of official voter guides! (I have now also recycled all of the election propaganda that came in the mail!)

I sent letters to 30 infrequent voters, encouraging them to vote through the auspices of Vote Forward!

Vote Forward

Vote Forward volunteers send heartfelt handwritten letters to unregistered and low-propensity voters encouraging them to participate in our democracy. The letters have been shown to significantly boost voter turnout.

I previously made small donations this year to 15 different candidates running for office (all of whom happen to be pro-choice women!), and bigger donations to excellent organizations like Fair Fight, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, EMILY’s List, and ActBlue’s get out the vote drive. I give monthly to the ACLU, who have been fighting in court for voting rights on multiple fronts and for many groups.

Home | Fair Fight

Fair Fight is a national voting rights organization rooted in Georgia. Join our fight for free and fair elections today!

Planned Parenthood Action Fund

Take Action!

EMILY’s List

EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, has raised over $600 million to elect pro-choice Democratic women candidates. With a grassroots community of over five million members, EMILY’s List helps Democratic women win competitive campaigns – across the country and up and down the ballot – by recruiting and training candidates, supporting strong campaigns, researching the issues that impact women and families, and turning out women voters to the polls.

American Civil Liberties Union

Fighting Racism. Reimagining Policing. When the Constitution was written, “We the People” did not mean all of us. Slavery created a legacy of oppression for Black people that is woven into our institutions today – from education and health care to the criminal legal system.

I’m acting like U.S. democracy depends upon this election, because… it does.

Book: Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

My copy

Gift from the Sea
by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
published by Pantheon Books, New York
1955 (with 2005 updates)

Green Apple Books recommended this small book years ago, and their staff recommendations are EXCELLENT. I enjoyed this book VERY MUCH when I first got it there, and I was delighted to find this edition to reread.

A brief summary: the author makes a strong case for taking time for self-care in the form of peaceful solitude. She argues that women of her day had been raised to give themselves away, and to have anything to give, you need to renew and care for yourself. Lindbergh realized this on a solo vacation, away from her husband and FIVE children; while she enjoyed the companionship of her sister near the end of her trip, she felt whole again after having time with her own thoughts; after living simply and without concern for impressing others; and after having an open schedule without obligations to fulfil.

She also reflects on marriage, raising children, competing views of the role of women in society, and her own privilege.

Readers of my time will see this book as promoting “mindfulness,” enjoyment of the present moment, and a call to examine the noise of materialism to find a more meaningful peace.

It’s a concise, thoughtful, well-worded book on making time to be yourself. This particular edition has an essay by the author’s daughter, plus an afterword in which the author reflects on feminism and American women’s evolving expectations and achievements twenty-plus years later. I found it revelatory the first time I read it, and while I am now more steeped in formal mindfulness training, I still appreciate its concision and clarity.

What I didn’t know when I read it the first time is that Mrs. Lindbergh’s life was more complicated than I knew. I knew her famous aviator husband took a shine to Hitler; I knew her first child was kidnapped for ransom and murdered; I knew she’d written other books. I did NOT know until I was looking up her aviation accomplishments in her Wikipedia profile that one of those books was pro-fascist (!!) and widely condemned, that she’d agreed with her husband’s favorable view of Hitler, and that the book I’m reviewing was part of her efforts to redeem her reputation. Thanks to the same article, I also know that her husband had affairs AND a secret family in Europe (two sisters bore him kids, and he had 7 with at least the three women now known of), which means that I’m ESPECIALLY glad that she did some self-care, because YIKES.

Life: Pandemic Friendship Management

I live in a city & county that’s doing very well in keeping COVID-19 infections low. However, there’s still no effective treatment or cure for this particular coronavirus, and with many vulnerable loved ones around, I’d like to keep it that way.

Caution is an easy decision for some of us with elderly relatives and/or parents or friends who are cancer survivors. We stick to essentials. Even if we aren’t seeing our at-risk loved ones, we stay ready to in case they need us. Easy peasy.

Most of my friends are cautious in a way that’s similar to me. We chat by phone, text, or video, but I haven’t seen most of them in person, and they understand why. The few I HAVE seen for outdoor activities have been restricting their exposure to a small number of immediate family, who are similarly cautious. We met outdoors and wore masks. One of them even has a plan for family emergencies cross-country which involves a quarantine-like solo, cross-country drive with plenty of supplies, one cautious, overnight stop, and every other type of disinfecting precaution on an ongoing basis to remain ready.

And then there are my other friends and coworkers. The ones who fly on planes for recreational trips twice a month, and go out to places with few health restrictions so they can have fun. The ones who say they HAD to go to a packed, popular place in another state, because someone in their immediate family was BORED.

The friends I thought of when I read this parody at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency:

Another Dull Quarantine Weekend at Home, Target, Chipotle, Home Depot, and Our Niece’s Graduation Party

I can’t believe how careless people are being about this virus. At our house, we have been taking the strictest precautions since March. We stay inside all the time and never go anywhere. When we do go somewhere, we always bring masks, except when we won’t need them.

I love them dearly, but I will not see them in person, because they are taking risks that I don’t want to share.

Yes, I do have my friends ranked by risk now. I’ve seen who wears a mask correctly, and who has to be told to put it on (which is never a good sign in an adult). I know who goes into the office because they must, and who goes in because they want to. My friends who work in laboratories and clean rooms earn high esteem for taking cleaning procedures seriously at a professional level! 🙂

When more businesses and public spaces are open, I intend to follow a host of new social rules. If I am hosting a picnic, for example, I should disclose all attendees, the safety precautions we will agree on in advance, and any known risks. If someone has just come back from a wedding overseas, they can’t attend until after their quarantine period is up, for example (obvious, but still). No surprise guests, ever. Full disclosures of all relevant information about public exposures BEFORE anyone turns up.

Safe pandemic socializing is possible, it just requires people to be more considerate of the risk tolerance of their friends, and I think most of my friends are very thoughtful. And I’ve got a list of the ones that just don’t match my risk tolerance! (None of this was on my 2020 bingo card….)

Life: Movie-Influenced Dream That Will Win No Awards

I watched Tron: Legacy before bed (mostly for the excellent soundtrack, which I also own), and had a Tron: Legacy-influenced dream.

It was about Flynn’s apartment off in the mountainous edge of the Grid. I was living in a gray-stone-with-diagonal-lines apartment, and found a secret wing that was occupied by men working on computers at desks (basically, game developers). They hadn’t wanted to be found. They were alarmed that I discovered them.

That was it. No glowing spaceships, no electronic dance music, no light-up clothes. I am just not impressed.

Life: work-stress dreams with movie sequences

I’ve learned that, now that I get more REM sleep (due to pandemic-related changes to my schedule), whatever I watch before bed can influence my dreams.

Yes, I recently watched a kung fu movie, and then had a work themed dream that somehow combined a debate about a project with a martial arts sequence.

Yes, that was more interesting than the underlying work issue. By far.

Yes, I’ve been watching Lovecraft Country, and yes, that led to a dream sequence this morning in which I was talking about contract management as a white man who needed to avoid [something], and a pale woman with black hair had her eyes go pale [possibly from Train to Busan], turned into a mist, and then transformed into a flexible, red lid for a coffin-like box for me (as a man) to conceal myself, and… I have no idea what that means. But it was an impressive special effect!