Living vs. Not Dying

In early March of last year, rumors started to fly that there would be an across the board “shutdown” of America. My response? HA! Will never happen. This is America, land of the free and home of the brave. Boy was I wrong. Turns out we’re not so brave and while America remains one of the freest nations on the planet, what we knew as freedom on March 5th 2020 vs. March 5th 2021 are two completely different versions.

But that’s okay because THERE’S A PANDEMIC!!!! Ya huh, but this is still America and governments can’t just restrict our freedoms willy nilly but again, I was very wrong. I categorically disagreed with President Trump’s decision to shut down America, still do. I knew what that would mean, it would mean that politicians on the state and local level would suddenly have power to tell me where I could go; what I would be required to wear, and these newfound powers would be long lasting, completely immoral and we would be dealing with them long after any pandemic comes to a close. FINALLY, I was right.

I had disagreements with friends (former friends on their part, turns out I can’t disagree and stay friends with more people in my life than originally thought) on how I perceived the dangers of lockdowns to a multitude of populations while the virus was very selective in who was in danger of becoming very ill or actually dying from it. The overall response was, “we’ll worry about that later” which I found to be absolutely disgusting, especially because every person who said it had few to none financial set backs due to the shutdowns. The attitude of, I’ll be okay so it’s okay for everyone while lecturing everyone else on what they should do is some kind of mental gymnastics that I don’t have the strength to tolerate.

Anyways.

Matt and I took a very measured approach in how we dealt with the loss of freedoms and the stress that came with it.

Post meet dinner at Elizabeth’s in Savannah was one for the books.

We lived.

Luau in Oregon with Mark & Victoria? Why not?

Now, contrary to lockdown proponents who believe in the “either”/”or” of living, we did not ignore that there was a large population of Americans who needed to take precautions against becoming sick with this particular virus. We watched the data. We realized that as people in their 40’s and 50’s, very strong with few (if any) comorbidities that even if we were to get sick, we’d be okay. That was according to the data, see, while you can politicize the reporting of data; the actual data does not lie.

We watched as “mitigations” became more and more ridiculous. We watched as people jumped into a meat case to avoid being within 8 feet of someone else at the grocery store (this happened); as a mother told her daughter that because I wasn’t masked (outside) that it meant I wanted her to die (also happened), and grown men decided it was A-okay to scream at women about a mask (happens regularly and no, I don’t view women confronting women in the same vein. A man screaming at a woman for ANY reason is so fucking unacceptable that I have lost respect for the general population of men.)

Mardi Gras in Tosa with Mark & Victoria? Of course!

And we lived.

We followed the science and knew that asymptomatic spread of a virus was a virtual impossibility. And we lived.

Charleston with the best tour guides beer can buy;) Thanks Steve, you guys were an absolute blast and a gold star on our year!

We traveled. We flew. We chose not to be afraid of our fellow humans while at the same time respecting the decisions of our friends and family who chose otherwise. We connected with those who did not feel comfortable with face to face meetings but truth be told, the zoom thing became old for me. If we have to, we’ll do it, but I prefer face to face fun.

10 days in Texas with Oz was one of my greatest gifts of 2020. Spending time with his girlfriend and his family along with pilots of the past were added bonus. Also, Mangolia Market cupcakes!

We tried, and succeeded, in keeping life as completely normal as possible and no, not this bullshit “new normal” model people keep trying to sell. Portland, picnics, Texas with our soldier before he shipped out for a year, Savannah for a meet (kudos to USA Masters who have already had two in-person meets run beautifully with not one case of Covid traced back to the meets), and various other meet ups with people throughout the year. Ya know, living.

Luca & Kulani are our pride and joy. They are the best of friends and we are completely spoiled with the time we get with them.

While I respect the grandparents who chose not to see their grandchildren, that was not our approach. Our babies are our joy and we’re so very proud of Zac and Zandra. We are blessed with good health for Luca and Kulani and gods willing, that will continue. Zac and crew have maintained Sunday family days pretty much every week throughout the year and having Zandra and Kulani at the house these last 6 months has been an absolute treasure.

All of this is not to say that the stress of the last year hasn’t been noticeable. We’re not robots so there have been days where it’s good we have 3 levels in our house so we each get one for the day. Heh.

In conclusion? The last 12 months has been status quo around here and I’m so very grateful for it. I have been disappointed in so many who have spent the last year with so much fear where the data says that it is unnecessary but ultimately, that is up to them.

But it begs the question, if you’ve spent the last year solely focused on not dying…were you really living?

Don’t be afraid your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.

Grace Hansen

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Hollywood and Professional Athletes Save World. 80,419 Nobel Peace Prizes awarded in 2020.

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Like a good little boy, big dude apologized for being a bad teammate.

First off, many thanks to the New York Times in helping me write my headline.

The first time I was offended by a sports star not staying in their lane was when Mean Joe Greene pushed Coca-Cola over Tab. It was distressing and confusing to this 12 year old who had already had to walk through some of life’s worse fires and I just wanted validation that Tab was a better choice than Coke.

Not really though. It was a good commercial but I thought the kid who got the jersey was kind of a wimp.  I mean, if you’re already hooked up enough to be hanging out in the Steelers tunnel, you’ve been waving that white privilege flag long enough to have a little sense of entitlement. Stupid kid.

One of the Charlie’s Angels (the most uninteresting one) sold me on Charlie perfume. Wore it for years until I moved on to Jovan musk. I then advanced to Sunflowers perfume with an odd day here or there wearing a Victoria Secrets scent that was super heavy but I was sold on the idea that I felt sexy when I wore it (but only on the odd day.)  I ended up with New West, still a favorite, and I swap it out in the winter with Blue from Dolce & Gabbana. If I’m feeling nostalgic, I shoot some Chanel No 5 in the air and then remember that I don’t really like the smell of it. The perfume game is no joke.

Anyways.

Professional athletes and Hollywood starlets have been endorsing product for as long as I can remember and in some areas of my life, their commercials worked. I regret nothing.

The reason professional endorsements are a multi-billion industry is because, hang on to your hat here, they work. George Clooney is the Billy Mays of super expensive coffee machines and he’s probably sold a few. This is because he has earned a following by being an actor. I first saw him on The Facts of Life. I didn’t like him, dunno why. Still don’t. I’m sure he’s crushed.

Something I do NOT remember about my childhood are professional athletes or Hollywood actors speaking out constantly on political issues. Two exceptions are Muhammed Ali (granted, this was spun by my dad who admired his athletic talent but wasn’t a fan of his) and Jane Fonda (with an Uncle who served in Vietnam, you did not bring up Jane Fonda’s name in our home. It took another decade or two for me to understand why but I knew that speaking her name was bad. So we didn’t.) This phenomenon helped formed my belief that we don’t want to hear from Hollywood or professional athletes on political matters. “Stay in your lane” is actually very 60’s and 70’s, catch up snowflakes.

I have always loved sports. I had a very brief career as a prima ballerina at Linda’s Dance Academy but then I got boobs and realized that standing on my toes for hours on end hurt my feet and I was peace out on that bitch. Sports though, I loved. Football; baseball; tennis (Martina Navratilova was one of my first favorite athletes. Her strength and unapologetic desire to win was something I wanted to relate to.)

I also loved the movies. Cleopatra; West Side Story; Giant, and one of my all time favorites, Gone With the Wind. I had the hugest crush on Clark Gable when I was young. I had no idea the man had died before I was even born, didn’t matter, I could get lost in his charm and sass and don’t even get me started on the brilliance that was Vivien Leigh. Although, for the record, I was in complete objection to her fascination with Ashley Wilkes. He was weak. So weak.

I’ve always liked older movies and musicals. Singing in the Rain; Gypsy; Sound of Music. Each movie allowed me to avoid, at times, the ugly of my reality and lose myself in make believe. I was in awe of the acting, the costumes, stories that brought me to other places in time. Sports do this too. Every fall for two hours a week, I had my dad all to myself on Sunday afternoon watching the Vikings play. All I had to do was work to understand the game and relish the time with Dad.

Fast forward 20 years or so to when I was outnumbered in my home by my children; going to school part time, and a full time job that was amazing in it’s pay and benefits but also it’s demands. By the end of each day, there was zero Jules left to go around. I don’t know how I did it but I did. You know what got me through? The Hoff.

Yup. Every Sunday evening I would make sure the house was in order and ready for the week; twins were in bed (don’t care that they may not have been sleeping, this is mom’s time), and lights were dimmed so I could enjoy one hour of Baywatch. Yes, Baywatch. See, I needed one hour a week to step out of my life and into the beach drama that I’m pretty sure was ripped off by the Emmy nominating committee year after year. It worked, I’d be raring to go every Monday morning and by Friday night, an exhausted me knew I only had two more days to go until that sweet moment where I had that one hour to myself to escape.

See, something that is being lost in all of the noise of discontent among pro-athletes and Hollywood actors screaming or kneeling about how “we” (“we” varies depending on the yelling) need to repent and feel bad about ourselves is that they are diminishing the very value they have. Entertainment. I do not believe their opinions are in any way less because of their occupation, after all, most of us are Americans and we get to express our opinion freely. At least we used to.

Hollywood DOES have value. To say they don’t is absurd. Most of us go to a movie here or there. Recently, while we were unconstitutionally forced to stay at home because of a flu, streaming services soared in popularity because we wanted to be entertained. That has value. Many of us miss sports. Sports is an opportunity to check out of our own reality and enjoy the talents of others. This has value.

Dear Hollywood and pro-athletes, you have value. You supply a needed and appreciated service to many of us. Thank you. Of course the glaring problem comes when many of you underestimate the value you DO have and feel the need to scream at the top of your social media at how each of us are failing at whatever you say we’re failing at in that moment. By doing this, you DIMINISH your value. Your voice becomes one of many who provide stress and divisiveness and you no longer have any value to me. If I want to hear how much America sucks, I’ll just open our local newspaper (but I refuse to to pay the .99 a year for access to it. Not remotely worth it.)

I want to swoon over Clark Gable. I want to be amazed at the strength and speed of Serena Williams. I want to laugh at the audacity of Blazing Saddles. I want to wistfully smile at the happy ending Lily James gets at the end of Cinderella. I want to see Tiger Woods win. I want you to use this amazing platform you have to allow us to escape, not to add to the vitriol of current “journalism.” At every turn, they are not understanding this.

Fans of sport and cinema are leaving in droves which, not surprisingly, makes people scream louder. Those of us who are shutting down the noise seem to be the one’s who are finding joy in life, especially as Americans. Those of us who are shutting down the noise are firmest in our foundations, which tends to make people scream louder. Watch closely, the quieter you are, the louder people scream. This makes it exceptionally easier to rid yourself of useless noise and hold tighter to the strongest voices who are quiet in their whispers and loudest in their actions.

The embarrassing thing is that my salad dressing is out-grossing my films.

Paul Newman

 

 

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Don’t Just Stand There!

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Each spring of my childhood, we would pack up the White Guzz (the big white station wagon) for the first trip to our cabin up north. It was a massive ordeal. The cabin had been closed all winter and we had no idea if we would have a working well; if the roof had caved in, or what we would find when we drove down that wooded driveway.

As children in the Peterson house, if you can walk, you can help. The main routine is that mom prepared supplies, we’d carry piles out to the car while Pastor John packed up the car like expert level in Tetris. It was something to behold. For years I would stand in awe as he was able to pack up an entire lawn’s worth of crap into a station wagon that still had to fit five humans and one Chinese Pug. Now, the pug usually went down by my mom’s feet and my sister usually went on my mom’s lap. Jerry and I would squeeze in where we could for the four hour ride north. Sounds awesome doesn’t it?

One phrase I heard often in these stressful pack ups was, “Don’t just stand there, do something!” Since I was 9, I had no idea what to do but I did know that it was bad if I got caught standing around. I could literally be moving boxes and bags in circles and that was fine but my gawds, you better not get caught standing still.

The happy news for my husband is that I’ve adopted some of Pastor John’s Tetris skills and I can pack the shit out of a car. Now, my beloved did not grow up having to pack a car for the annual trip up north so he has no idea how to pack a car. He’s better but when we were first starting out and we’d pack the Tahoe for a Games weekend he would just throw shit in and then come and tell me when the car was full and we can’t bring anything else. By the way, the car is never full. That’s the first rule of packing the car. (When we were in Iceland a few years ago we had to pack up after our first night and move to our next Air BNB but first pick up our pal, Max, and fit him into the car. Oz came upstairs our hostel and told me there’s no way we have room for Max. Of course, being me, I said that’s not how this will work. I went down and instructed the boys to pull everything out of the car and I packed that shit up so tight that not only were we able to fit Max in the car, I even had half a seat to sit on. I should have received a gold medal for that. Pastor John would have been proud.)

Now, often times, when I’m packing up Matt will hang back. Again, he didn’t grow up having to do this and that’s fine. But it does tend to grate on my nerves when I’m flying around and he’s sitting at the dining room table or even worse, trying to help and fucking up my Tetris packing. Sounds fun for him, eh? Do you think we even know how many times we box our spouses into a corner and just leave them there to flounder? Ya, I don’t want to think about it either. So for today, we won’t.

It may appear as if doing something is more important that doing nothing, but it actually rarely is. Most times we need a plan. Now, that plan may take 20 minutes to make or it may take 20 seconds. You’ve done that, right? You’re flying down the highway and suddenly see that traffic is at an absolute standstill ahead and you’ve got 3 seconds to the next exit. You have to decide if you should get off or stay on. Either choice can bring on a huge delay to your travel or be the right call. You don’t know. So you choose and you allow yourself to deal with that choice. An avoidance to a traffic delay is most likely not a life or death situation, unless you’re in an ambulance. I got caught in traffic once on a highway and had to TT. It was precarious. I learned to pack a solo cup wherever I go for these dire situations. It wasn’t life or death, but it was damned uncomfortable.

Anyways.

There are times in life where we should not just stand there and do something. And there are times in life where we should just not just do something and stand there. I believe, the ‘rona is one of these times.

American politicians and policy makers took their boxes and bags and circled around the White Guzz’s of America and did something based on their perception that they had 3 seconds to get off the freeway or get caught in a Walking Dead Atlanta scene where millions of Americans would be littered among the highway if they didn’t just DO SOMETHING.

It doesn’t matter if we treat an entire country like another country. It didn’t matter if we treat an entire country like one big city. WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING! Once one Governor did something the next Governor had to do the same thing and it spread from coast to coast. But we can’t stop there because if Wisconsin does the same thing that Minnesota does, it doesn’t appear as if we’re doing enough. So we’ll do more to “protect.” The Governor of Michigan can’t possibly be beat by the weasel Governor of Wisconsin so she’ll do MORE. Everyone had to do MORE or people will die!

Now, there WERE Juli’s of the world saying, “NO. Wait. Unpack the car and we’ll take 10 minutes to repack and everything will be fine.” We were perceived as wanting people to die. Because that’s the choice. Either do something drastic and severe or people will die. You heartless bitch, you just want people to die.

No. I just wanted people to stop and come up with a plan that makes sense FOR THEM. Should Milwaukee and Dallas have the same plan? We don’t know. Let’s take a minute and look at the data we have in that moment. And in another week let’s look again. Instead, we pointed to New York City (who never shut down their mass transit system) and said, ‘well by gods, we can’t be another NYC. Not on my watch.’

There is an “at all costs” mentality that has murdered the American dream for hundreds of thousands of people. The ‘3 seconds to the exit’ action plan that has placed over 30 million people out of work.

But we’re not done. Now, it has trickled down to municipalities and retail. One store is mandating one way aisles in California so we better do that here in suburban Milwaukee. Of course the glaring issue with that is that if enforced (I don’t play that game unsurprisingly) it causes patrons to increase their time in each store while they continue walking up and down aisles they didn’t need to be in. Fucking duh.

Businesses are requiring everyone to wear masks. Now, this is going to hurt someone’s feelings but the argument on mask wearing changes depending on who you’re talking to. There is not a sweeping belief by medical professionals that wearing a mask is effective or even safe BUT BY GODS IT LOOKS AS IF WE’RE DOING SOMETHING SO PUT ON YOUR FUCKING MASK AND SHUT THE FUCK UP. DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO DIE BECAUSE OF YOU? Don’t just stand there, do something.

I have observed these last few weeks as different cities are relaxing their anti-American house arrests of healthy citizens that the overall stories in the media is that it is causing mass confusion. No, that is wrong. Forcing an economic depression and the gang rape of the U.S. Constitution back in March caused confusion. We’re just dealing with it now. In the strength world, think of a world record snatch attempt. With the heaviest weight possible, if shit goes wrong off the floor, it’s not likely to improve in the next .8 seconds. It’s going to be nearly impossible if not (I believe) impossible to fix the lift. If you did, it’s not your max weight. Alternately, a strong and mechanically perfect first pull MAY get your that lift overhead. It probably won’t if you throw it out front at some point but you at least have a chance.

A grip’it and rip’it approach to a world record snatch will take you only so far. That’s what we’ve done here and if you speak out against it YOU JUST WANT PEOPLE TO DIE. No, I don’t. I want us to just fucking stop and think about the best way of going through this for our locality. I rely on our policy makers to look ahead at that traffic jam and say, there’s an exit 5 miles up. We’re going to stay on this road right now and if we have to get off ahead we’ll do that because I know there’s a road that will take us around the city.

Don’t just do something, stand there.

“I prefer peace. But if trouble must come, let it come in my time so that my children may live in peace.”

Thomas Paine

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Afraid? Good!

I have noticed these last few weeks “in these, uncertain times” that there are two major camps. Camp one residents believe with all their hearts that anything and everything must be done to stop the spread of this thing. Economics be damned, we’ll deal with that later. This is the best course of action and if you don’t agree it means you don’t care about the lives of your neighbors and loved ones.

Camp two is the opposite end of the spectrum. Liberty over death (I’ve heard that somewhere else, can’t remember where but it seems like a thing.) Those that have been distressed since early March when there were rumblings that America would cease to exist not only how we expect, but how our country was framed to exist. Those that enter stores that continue today to put in more and more restrictions on how to shop for your donuts and cereal and just shake their heads. That’s me. I’m in camp 2.

Now, Matt (along with most likely the majority of Americans) walk somewhere in between. No, arbitrarily shutting down some businesses and church isn’t really good but protecting the health of Americans is. This population has the ability to work among both camps and coexist. I admire this ability. I don’t posses the personality traits to walk with this group.   I wish I did.

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Americans are calling the police and turning in their neighbors for gatherings such as this “in these, uncertain times.” Good thing this has never happened in the world before. Good thing neighbors didn’t report to the authorities other neighbors that were going against Government orders. That’s never happened in the world, right?

Back to our camps. The emotional toll current America is taking on both camps is substantial. It’s not pretty. The fighting on social media is at an all time high. If you don’t social distance you’re an idiot who doesn’t care if people die. If you call people idiots who aren’t social distancing you’re an idiot sheep who doesn’t understand that this virus has most likely been in America for six months and all of this hysterically caused economic depression is utter and complete bullshit (how’s that for a fuckin’ sentence?) Finger pointing is at an all time high; however; I believe incorrectly. See, we need to be kind and gentle “in these, uncertain times.” Me? Nope.

See, there are millions of Americans who are afraid. I understand this and even have a compassion for them that my coexisting husband does not. I check in on what America is being told. If you test positive for the virus you have a chance of dying. That’s a fact. I mean, here I sit in Minnesota and 50 people have died from this virus. 50 humans that make up husbands or wives; sons or daughters; aunties or uncles; grandma or grandpa. Humans. Families touched by death. Not good.

Fear is being driven into us with every news report; every update; every number shared. Fear this thing, it could kill you if your neighbor doesn’t socially isolate. Here’s the rub, I’ve seen my neighbors, if some of them haven’t already survived this virus and they catch it, they might die. Many are extremely skinny with very little muscle mass, aka, weakness. Yes, they walk around life loving how small they are because their doctor has told them small is better and watch the sodium.

Now, there are many small people who are strong. Weight classes exist. Obviously this isn’t the population being addressed here. It’s the weak and unhealthy population. Dear all of you, you should be afraid. If not from this virus then the next one. If not a virus then hypertension or obesity. You mask wearing people waddling up to the mobility carts at the grocery stores to buy your cookies and cereal and breads and pizza’s and chicky nuggies,  you should be afraid.

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This was a good day. A very good day. I have been shaken by the lack of freedom even Texans have right now. I expect more from Texas.

The general population of America is fat and/or weak. Healthcare is an absolute mess because the markers given for health are complete bullshit. There are morbidly obese dietitians who have had eating disorders giving nutrition advice. That’s harsh isn’t it? Gods Jules, why do you have to be so harsh?

BECAUSE YOU FUCKING FAT AND WEAK FUCKS WHO REFUSE TO GET STRONG AND HEALTHY ARE THE REASON WHY A VIRUS IS A BIG DEAL.

See, MY liberties are stolen because YOU refuse to get healthy. You can still buy liquor and shit food and get your abortions (in most states, some have started to fight back) but those whose mental health relies solely on getting to the gym cannot. Whose fucked up in that scenario?

The demolition of many to save a few seems very America. Really?

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Protecting the weak is admirable. The elderly; diseased therefore immune suppressed; those through no fault of their own just got a bum deal like Type 1 depend on the strong in tough times to help them. We can do that.

What we’ve learned in the past month is that a virus is stronger than a weak and/or diseased person. I’d be super afraid if I fell in that category. I’d be super concerned if a loved one fell in that category. Concerned enough that I’d have that tough conversation with them that they need to start taking their health seriously and risk pissing them off.

Now is not the time for a kinder and gentler America. Now is the time to be stern with those in your life who are weaker than a virus that have the ability to be stronger. Now is the time to question why liquor stores and bakeries are still open while churches and gyms are not. Now is the time to understand that not EVERYONE needs to social distance because not EVERYONE is at risk from dying from a virus.

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This is one of my all time favorite pictures of me and the hubs even though it looks like I’m so wide that his hands can’t reach around all of me. We were in Scotland with friends and throwing and scotch and beer and haggis and life was so very good in that moment.

I do not believe getting this virus is the kiss of death. I do not believe this because the numbers have shown it to be true. I DO believe that fear is real and it is causing people to do many things differently except one, get healthy. Afraid? Good. Now do something in your life about it. If you don’t want to, then don’t. But I’ll be damned if I have to give up my liberties because you can’t put down the Oreo’s.

Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

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