Tuesday, 30 June 2020

My Brief Sojourn Back into Society

I stuck a pinkie toe into the life reintegration pool today.

As somebody who suffers from asthma and is therefore deemed "high-risk", I have managed to avoid indoor locations as much as possible over the past sixteen weeks.

Sixteen weeks. Sixteen fricking weeks. 

An entire season has disappeared into the ether while we have all been trying to learn what works, what's safe, and what is necessary. Some of us are braver than others and some are plainly just more reckless, but all of us are navigating through a new societal tsunami that will leave things changed forever. Don't kid yourselves. These are our new routines for the foreseeable future and possibly longer than that, whether we want them to be or not. Companies, businesses, and industries that don't adapt will most assuredly fail. People who see themselves as better than or more elite than their neighbours will be shunned. Never before in our history has the term "we are all in this together" been more truthful or apropos.

But we must live and we must do the necessary things to carry on and while I have been able to deal with essentials like groceries or medications online or with minimal contact, some things just demand an in-person visit, things like yearly medical tests at a hospital imaging clinic.

The hospital that I was booked at is one not near my home. I seriously considered driving uptown in order to avoid the potentially claustrophobic public transit but the city of Toronto has boxed in my neighbourhood with a morass of road closures, streetcar rail replacement, and bridge repairs. All at the same time. It simply didn't make sense to spend hours in my car, travelling through detours and "west to get east" alternatives when the TTC could get me there in a far more timely and less stressful fashion. And so, I pushed through my CoVID anxiety, packed my Purell and Wet Wipes, donned a mask, and headed for the subway.

Here are some basic and wholly anecdotal observations from a city still suffering from PTSD and in the very early stages of Phase 2 opening.

1. Most people on the TTC, both streetcars and subways, are masked up. That isn't to say it is universal, but it is certainly better than I expected. The full TTC mask bylaw doesn't go into effect until Thursday so I was expecting a lot of scofflaws. I was pleasantly surprised. There were a few 30-something dudes (all guys on my trip) who decided that they were above it all and who stink-eyed anybody who even so much as looked in their direction but all in all, it wasn't a bad trip north. The trains were fairly empty and everybody physically distanced. I'm not sure how that is going to work when the Bay Street Bros head back downtown but for now, it didn't suck. (Of course, I Purell' ed whenever I felt uncomfortable, so there is that.)

2. Hospitals are weird places these days. Other than access to the emergency department, visitors are all herded through a single entrance. I was met with a physically distanced line that led to a front desk behind plexiglass whereby I was questioned about my basic health and made to hand sanitize. (These people don't know me otherwise, they could have saved on the squirt.) I was directed to the elevators (no stair climbing allowed) and on to imaging. Everything in the hospital is now clearly a one-way street. God help the poor bastard who doubles back. The screeches from nurses and cleaning staff can be deafening.

3. After another physically distanced line, (We really need to stop calling it social distancing. There is nothing social about it) I was greeted by another masked manager behind glass. She sanitized a piece of foam rubber, slipped it through the opening in the glass and asked me to place my health card on it. She then did her thing on the computer, re-sanitized the foam, and slid my card back to me.

4. I was directed to a segregated waiting area whereby I sat alone until I was called for my tests. This is not the hospital experience I remembered from just last year. I found myself longing for the commiseration with other patients and the forlorn looks that said "I understand. Don't worry. We'll get through it together." But, there was nobody.

5. Just when I thought that human connection was impossibly lost forever, I was greeted by the loveliest ultrasound technician in the history of ultrasound technicians. I am convinced of it. Mary is warm, caring, talkative, and so in tune with the isolation that her patients are feeling. A former radiologist from India, (she was never able to get her medical license reinstated in Canada due to a lack of internships and that is a miserable shame for anybody who might have had her as their physician) she not only handled my tests with care and professionalism but she knew that I was craving a chat from somebody who wasn't yelling at me to mind my distance. By the time it was all over, she had offered to fix up Older Son with any number of lovely young women, asked me if there were any available units in our building for sale because she is looking to buy a place downtown for her kids, showed me photos of her family, and gave me her email address so that I could keep her updated on my life. I swear that I am not making any of this up. The post-it is still in my pocket. Mary reminded me why I love this city and why I believe that even though there will be more changes to come, some undoubtedly difficult, we all just want the best for each other.

6. I headed back home, still fully masked and still fully physically distanced. As I disembarked the subway at St. Andrew, I spotted the TTC employees handing out free masks for all riders. It's coming, people. Get used to it. If this asthmatic could spend four hours in a mask without removing it, some entitled Dude-Bro from Etobicoke can certainly handle it for an hour.

7. I was going to hop a streetcar home but it is just so lovely outside I decided to walk. My encounter with Mary switched on my positivity gene. I did notice that the fare collectors on the streetcar are back. Can anybody explain to me why their uniforms look like they are ready for Kent State circa 1970? I mean, they carry fucking billy clubs. They are FARE enforcement officers, not suiting up for Fallujah. Honestly, they need to dial this shit back a hundred notches. But...I wasn't about to let them ruin my mood so I walked. It was invigorating. Little by little, my neighbourhood is coming back to life.

I refuse to argue with anybody about masks. They work. It is obvious from the data. If you can't manage to help me out by wearing one, I have little use for you. Not wearing one isn't some resistance political statement but rather, it is a display of your ignorance. If this pandemic has taught me anything, it's don't engage the stupid.

I wouldn't say that I feel entirely comfortable yet. I'm still avoiding the grocery store and other high traffic areas but if today taught me anything it is that some necessary things are manageable and I won't live in fear of them any longer. I won't be in a restaurant any time soon but a Starbucks is not out of the question. Masked, pre-ordered, and picked up at the door. Mary made me feel like I can do it.

Happy Canada Day. 





Saturday, 13 June 2020

An Eyshet Chayil For Today

***Note. Today during our weekly Torah study, we examined the end of Proverbs and the passage famously known as the Woman of Valour, or the Eyshet Chayil. The poem has been debated for generations as to how it should be accepted or denied by both women and men. It is my argument that in order for it to have relevance in a modern context, it is badly in need of a rewrite and reinterpretation for the time we live in today. And...so...I rewrote it. For me. It may or may not speak to you but I feel that if we are to find value in ancient texts, we need to add to them rather than reflexively dismiss them.  If you would like to read the original, it is Proverbs 31:10-31. Thank you to Rabbi Streiffer for his compassionate class today and to my fellow Torah study regulars for their wisdom. It is appreciated.


An Eyshet Chayil for Today

A woman of valour today is not rare nor is she fleeting. She is found in the face and soul of every woman.

She doesn't allow her value to be determined by her partner nor by anybody else. She alone is the determinator of her worth.

She is independent and confident and she measures her success by the company she keeps, the love in her heart, and the creativity of her own mind. She may choose to share her life with others or she may choose to walk her path alone.

She instinctively understands those things in the world that fill her with joy and brings her pleasure and she turns away from those who would defeat her dreams or harm her sense of self.

A woman of valour today engages in prolonged spurts of creativity and channels her artistry with a unique vision.

She grasps that her trajectory in life is hers to pursue and hers alone. She doesn't impose her preferences on other women, nor does she judge them for their choices.

A woman of valour today finds a balance between spiritual health and physical health. She feeds both her intellect and her emotions. She struggles with the precariousness of the equilibrium between the things she must do and the things she longs to do. She forgives herself when she fails.

She finds passion in her life's choices and she succeeds when she accepts both her talents and her limitations.

She is comfortable with her own sexuality and her agency is her own. 

She recognizes that hers is often a place of privilege and that engaging in Tikkun Olam is her obligation.

She finds peace in the comfort of her family and those whom she loves. Her home is her sacred space and she refreshes herself within its walls. She looks to her husband, wife, or partner for sustenance and she provides it in kind.

She is encouraging of other women and she acts as a mentor to those who are struggling and coming up behind her.

The woman of valour today embraces her wrinkles, grey hairs, and other signs of aging as they are born out of wisdom and hard experience.

She doesn't take more than she needs from the earth and she strives to care diligently for God's world.

The woman of valour today nurtures the relationships in her life with care and compassion; be they her spouse, her children, her friends, or herself. She cannot strive to help them achieve their own happiness until she herself is at peace.

She surrounds herself with a support system, a collective of like-minded women who will be there for her in times of need, and she for them. She will lift up the voices of these women so they are louder than her own.

A woman of valour today knows that all the people have value and that she must listen to them with attentiveness and compassion. Her pride in all that she does and for all whom she loves is boundless. 















Friday, 8 May 2020

Things I Never Want to Hear About Again Post-CoVid

I haven't written publicly for a while because...well...I have had absolutely nothing to add to the discourse. This is what happens when every day becomes like every other day. A lack of even the most basic human interaction, outside of one's nearest and dearest, results in homogeny of thought and experience, leading to a total lack of creativity. I was keeping a personal journal for a while but I discovered that every day mimicked the previous ones, so I stopped. Yes, I have been playing music and yes, I have been baking far too much. (The sourdough experiments could only happen with a ton of time on my hands.) I have exercised every day because it is important for both my mental health as well as my physical, but when the boredom sets in, it can be excruciating. There will be many lessons learned from this time in quarantine, some positive and some not so, but this morning, while on the treadmill, I was giving some hard thought to the many societal things and ideas that I NEVER want to hear about again. So...without further explanation...

Things I never want to hear about ever again in the aftermath of CoVid-19

1. Science is subjective. AW.....hell no! Science is OBJECTIVE. You don't get to decide you don't like something scientific simply because it doesn't fit your personal narrative. This virus exists. It doesn't stop existing because you don't want it to. Magical thinking and positive affirmations won't make it go away, scientific research and medical developments will. Science doesn't offer choices, it offers absolutes. Which leads me to...

2. Vaccinations aren't necessary for disease control. FUCK, YES THEY ARE! Vaccinations, while not perfect nor always one-hundred percent effective, have successfully eradicated or controlled many of the world's pandemics of the last two-hundred years. Polio, influenza, measles, mumps, smallpox, and chickenpox have all be held in check by, yup you guessed it, VACCINATIONS. For those morons out there who are still saying that they won't accept a CoVid vaccine for themselves or their children when it becomes available (Baruch Ha-Shem), I know of a leper colony to which we can ship you all. The only people who can actually refuse vaccinations are those who are immuno-compromised. Everyone else?  Seriously. Stay the fuck out of my life if you don't vaccinate. I want nothing to do with you.

3. Smaller government is the best government. Yeah...no it isn't. This is exactly the right moment for governments to intervene and to help. This is why governments exist, to serve the citizens. Not just the taxpayers, the citizens. From the very wealthy to the homeless, all citizens deserve the protection of their governments during this pandemic. While they haven't gotten it all right and there will be plenty of time to dissect and criticize the responses by the various levels, I think most Canadians are very grateful right now for the coordinated response by all of our government leaders. Watching the extremely right-wing Premier of Ontario praise the work of the left-of-centre Prime Minister has been jarring and comforting all at the same time. Add the mayor into that equation and it is obvious that good government is necessary for the health and well-being of a functioning society. I never again want to hear this quote from Grover Norquist, "I'm not in favour of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." Which leads me to...

4. A businessperson is a better leader than any other. UM...NOPE! I'm not saying that there isn't a businessperson who couldn't be a good political leader, but I have yet to encounter that person in the real world. Business people tend to view everything in terms of a black and red monetary bottom line and while that is a big part of a functioning government, it isn't the ONLY thing. Government leaders who have succeeded during this nightmare are those who have demonstrated levels of empathy, sympathy, and kindness. They haven't talked of sacrificing lives for the sake of monetary gain, even while they acknowledge the horrific economic crisis facing us all. They haven't beancounted acceptable levels of death. They haven't called the sick and dying "warriors" in service to the economic health of their countries. The best leaders, even those whose instincts run counter to empathy and are in political peril by the economic catastrophe, have been those who have shown care and balance towards their citizens on both the physical and economic scale.

5. The arts are superfluous to the education of our children. Seriously? What the actual FUCK? I am in constant amazement and awe of the tremendous creativity and beauty being provided right now by the world's artists. Live, online, and free-of-charge concerts are given by major recording artists every day. Museums and art galleries have opened their online doors to virtual tours. Cooking, knitting, sewing, painting, lectures, singing, and music lessons can all be found online. And every single person I know has either partaken or shared in at least some of these offerings. The scientists will bring us back to physical health but it is the artists who will lead us back to mental health.

6. Minimum wage is plenty enough to live on. It never was and it still isn't. This argument has been laid bare by the grocery chains that have given their employees "hazard pay" to keep working, even when it endangered their own health. "Pandemic pay" is already being rolled back in some American jurisdictions, even as grocery chains will be one of the few sectors to report record profits. Nurses, hospital cleaners, garbage collectors, teachers, transit operators, grocery clerks, and delivery people aren't interested in being called heroes. Most are simply doing their jobs. It is time for us to acknowledge them and pay them a living wage.

7. Child care is too expensive to be universal. It's too costly NOT to be. Ask any parent right now who is trying to juggle child care with work while at home. Ask any parent who is trying to engage their kids with a modicum of schoolwork, all while engaging in their own Zoom meetings. A functioning and healthy economy, whatever that looks like in a post-pandemic world, is going to need a universal childcare plan.

8. Fake News. There actually is a level of fake news, but it isn't coming from where many people think it is. Fake news is media that is exploited by any leader who is trying to serve his/her own interests. When these leaders shout fake news at the mainstream media for reporting what is real and honest, that is the real imposter. News operations that do not effectively question, research, probe, and demand answers from our elected leaders are not doing their jobs but rather are acting as propaganda arms for them. Governments that are trying to hide and underreport the numbers from this pandemic and media organizations that are enabling them are truly abhorrent. Fake news is a fallacy that has been twisted so badly that many people are beyond their own capabilities in discerning it when it arrives. The gaslighting is real and has been abetted by bad news actors. CNN is not fake news. The National Post is not fake news. The Toronto Star is not fake news.

9. Death Tolls. Holy Crap. I am simply exhausted by the numbers. I can't listen anymore. They are being reported on like dots on a graph. Statistics in an equation. Every single one of those numbers is a person. A PERSON. People with families, friends, jobs, interests, and histories. PEOPLE. Older people, younger people, people of colour, women, men, artists, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, bankers, drivers, athletes....PEOPLE. The numbers matter because we need to get a grip on how pervasive this scrouge is but my God...the people.

I will leave number ten open on this list for you all to fill in. Something that you never want to hear about again in the post-CoVid world. That world is going to look very different than what we are used to. There will be changes and there will be needed accommodations. It isn't going to be easy and it isn't going to be quick. I will be working from a starting premise that we are all going through it together and we are all facing our own realities. Everybody's experience is different and everybody has different needs. That said, it will help if we can agree on a series of basic facts like those above. How we get to that new reality will require a massive effort on the part of each and every single one of us. I'm counting on you.


Thursday, 2 April 2020

A Letter to Molly on Her Second Birthday

My Dearest Molly,

It is unbelievable to me that I am writing the third of these now annual missives. I know that the racing passage of time that I experience is still beyond your two-year-old intellect. You measure your days in terms of how many sleeps are left until a special occasion. I, on the other hand, watch the galloping by of the calendar with a poignancy that, on occasion, leaves me breathless. I want to imprint every single moment that we spend together into a cerebral scrapbook that can be replayed forever on a loop in my aging grey matter.

The pain that I feel in knowing that your second birthday is being celebrated at a distance from everybody except Mom, Dad, and Gus is acute, but then I remember how much your mom loves to make birthdays extraordinarily special and I have no doubt that your celebration will be exactly as it should be. I ache to hug you, dear one. I desperately want to be there to play with you and to read all of your new books together. I wish that we could share in your cake and get messy eating chocolate together. I want to kiss your cheeks and taste the ice cream remnants. But, sadly, that cannot be this year. The best and most loving thing that all of us can do in these difficult times, is to stay away from each other. It runs counter to everything that we want and that we understand about loving families, but it will keep us well and in each other's lives for many more birthdays to come. The thing that gives me great peace is knowing that you will remember very little from these miserable months and that it will be nothing more than a page in the history book for you.

I have marvelled at the independent human you are evolving into. Your parents might argue that you are stubborn but I prefer the term tenacious. You have very definite likes and dislikes and you have no trouble making them known to everybody. I love that even at two and with a still limited vocabulary, you are making yourself heard. Yes, there are moments of temper and yes, there are moments of needed time-outs but you are learning to use your strengths to the greatest of advantages. You can be polite, giving, sharing, and still strong and self-determining. You are learning to advocate for yourself and I love your fierceness.

Your independence has never been more on display than when you are at your childcare program. When you first started, you were the youngest in the class but after a split second of normal toddler hesitancy, you ran in and embraced the entire experience. There are days when you are so excited to be there, that you don't even notice we've left. There is so much in the world that you have yet to experience but you don't yet seem fazed by anything new coming your way. There is so much yet for you to discover and I can't wait to see it unfold.

I know that you won't remember the incredible week we spent together in Florida in February, just you, Zaidy, and me, the three of us beach walking, playgrounding, and swimming in the Miami sun. It seems so very far in the past and yet it was only weeks ago. It was a time when we three developed a routine and bond that was all our own, without Mom and Dad. We became intertwined with each other through meals, bedtime rituals, songs, and Coco. Camp Bubby/Zaidy was an early highlight of this year and now I am concerned that it has faded so deep into our collective recesses because of everything else around us. I want you to remember snuggling to House at Pooh Corner and singing Let it Go loudly with Elsa. I long to return to the boats you so ardently begged to see every day. I want to relive you going down the slide all by yourself with a smile so proud and broad. I love that you now have names for us and I worry that our newly adopted social distancing lifestyle will somehow change this still tenuous reality. If I forever remind you of that special week, even into your thirties, it is because it was so important and special to us. You can yell at me, roll your eyes and say, "Holy crap, Bubby...Again!" And I will wistfully smile disappear into my old lady haze and respond, "Yes, Molly. Again and again and again."

I miss my kids. It has been too long since we were all together as a family. Months. Pesach, which is a family time, is disappearing into the pandemic ether this year. I believe that we Jews often judge the passage of time, not by birthdays or New Years, but rather what has occurred in our lives and families from one Pesach to the next. I look at photos from only a few years back and see beloved family members who are no longer with us. Two seders ago, you were days from being born. This Pesach there are two new wee cousins that we still will not be able to meet in person. The emotions being stirred within me are bordering on painful and are visceral. I can't change the reality of the outside world but I won't deny my sadness at not being able to watch you wrinkle your nose at the taste of the maror or of missing the excitement that you will absolutely feel searching for and finding, the afikomen. The logical part of me is saying it has to be this way, but the emotional part of me is mourning this loss. No amount of Zoom time or online gathering can replace what is now forever forfeited and gone. I don't want to belabour this deprivation too much but I believe that we should at least, acknowledge it. Hopefully, next Pesach will bring us that family time that we all so desperately need.

There is so much good coming your way, my Molly. So many new things to learn, so many exciting things to experience. You can already count to ten and can recite most of the alphabet. Reading and storytelling is your passion and there are not enough words to convey my joy at this. You love to laugh and you love to sing, although the lyrics aren't really your strong suit...yet. You love to dance to the Wiggles and giggle with Gus. You are busy and in constant motion and watching or participating in your energy can be dizzying and exciting. This coming year will bring changes, as always, but hopefully only positive things and new passions. I want to cook with you, bake cookies with you, watch you grow into new activities, and learning opportunities. I want to teach you about Broadway and baseball and maybe even a few guitar chords.

I love you beyond the words and confines of this letter.

To the moon and back, my dear one.

Happy Birthday. As you have said many times over the last few weeks, you are indeed two and that is everything.

Love,

Bubby










Monday, 30 March 2020

Musings from Self-Isolation-Day 14

Day 14-but let's not kid ourselves, it will continue.

We both are healthy.

It is everything right now.

All of the bitching, moaning, joking, swearing, Zooming, complaining...none of it matters.

It is everything right now. 

We are healthy. My children are healthy. My parents are healthy. My family and friends are healthy.

It is everything right now.

We can't let up now. We can't give in to the temptation of warming spring weather or misplaced need for even more toilet paper. This week is critical. We here in Canada will either contain it now or we will pour gasoline on its burning embers. We need to mantra the shit out of...

STAY THE FUCK HOME

and ACTUALLY DO IT.

STILL...

After fourteen days of self-isolation, we are both healthy.

It is everything right now.

And I am grateful.

A few random thoughts.

I am tired. I haven't done all that much during this past fortnight but I am exhausted. It is full-body exhaustion, exhaustion of body and of spirit. The constant worry and lack of sleep are catching up to me. I know I am not alone in this. I feel like I have aged ten years in a month. I am tired. I know you all are too.

I finally finished a book. It wasn't a great book and it took me two weeks to finish it but it is an accomplishment just the same. Starting the next one now. Yay me.

Have any of you ordered take-out and delivery food, not groceries, but dinners during this time of uncertainty? I will admit that we have not. Yes, some of that is driven by an element of fear but most of our aversion is because we simply don't want it. I am torn between the need to support local restaurants that are really hurting right now and needing to heed the little voice in my head. I am curious about what the climate out there is like for take-out. I do miss my Chinese noodles.

Today's music break is from the stunningly brilliant John Prine. John is amongst my favourite singer/songwriters and he is critically ill right now with Covid-19. I have lost count as to how many times I have seen John live. His concerts are like invitations into his living room. His songs have been a huge part of my life's soundtrack. If you aren't listening to John today, you are doing today wrong. Let's play the fuck out his music today so that he feels the healing energy.




One more because it's for John




Wash your hands. Don't touch your face. Be kind. Stay healthy. Here are some photos of John from one of his Massey Hall shows.





Sunday, 29 March 2020

Musings from Self-Isolation-Day 13

Day 13

Our closest friends have been holding a weekly Zoom get together the last two Saturdays. It has been a way to keep in touch, share our stories, and to see each other's faces. It can be a bit of a messy free-for-all when everybody is unmuted but our normal interactions in real life can also be a bit of a messy free-for-all when everybody is unmuted. It's who we are and I love every single one of these wackos, idiosyncrasies and all. I hope that they can say the same about me. It has been a lovely break from the monotony to see them and virtually hug them.

We have been sharing self-isolating distractions like Netflix viewings and book suggestions. I am grateful for whatever everybody is reading or watching but here's the thing, I am finding sustained levels of concentration difficult in the CoVid-19 world. I have been listening to a book on Audible while exercising but the truth is that a book that in normal times should have taken a few days to read is taking me two weeks. And don't even ask me to read anything visually that requires the sit-power of longer than the average television commercial. I simply don't have the ability right now. Even these posts are "write and pace" ordeals. Basically, I write three words and then pace for three minutes. It is a combined mental and physical workout.

I wondered if anybody else was struggling with concentration issues. I am seriously impressed by those out there who are able to hunker down and write the "Great Canadian Novel" right now with their hours of free time, but I am wrestling to achieve even five minutes of sustained attentiveness. I have repeatedly read about how Shakespeare wrote King Lear during the quarantine of London during the Black Plague and I honestly wonder about his mental health during that time. I mean, have any of you seriously read King Lear?  It's the story of a man slowly descending into madness. Shakespeare had to have been writing his now-considered masterpiece as a self-isolating journal. Of this, I am certain.

Some random thoughts.

As I begin to source and put together our family's virtual Passover seder for Zoom, I am realizing that the average screen attentiveness quota is about thirty minutes. I am looking for any seder-relevant readings that use these odds times and ties it to a section of the seder. Handwashing is a perfect example. The funnier the better. Please send them my way. You can post links in the comment section here or on my Facebook post.

For my friends who watched our synagogue's group Havdallah and music share last evening, I want it understood that I was NOT the anonymous highest bidder of the toilet paper with Agent Orange's face embossed on it. I know many of you thought it was me and, believe me, I wanted to buy it. I had my fingers on the chat to do it and was all ready to type, but The Husband stopped me. I wanted to use it to post "unusual" photos with it. I had some interesting ideas but, alas...somebody else will have to keep you all entertained.

I have noticed something really odd about the interactions on these posts. It seems that the more I swear like a sailor on leave, the more people seem to read. The kinder, gentler version of Dawn seems to drive traffic down. What is up, people? Do I have to cuss you all out for you to read? Maybe if I call you all a bunch of...nope not today.

Today's music break is an apology from yesterday's music break. A dear friend pointed out that given my post yesterday about Proverbs and our discussion during Shabbat morning Torah study, I really should have posted the Indigo Girls classic song, Strange Fire. It was my self-isolation brain that really fucked that up and he was correct, I should have, so I am today.




Wash your hands. Don't touch your face. Be kind. Stay healthy.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Musings from Self-Isolation-Day 12

Day 12

To paraphrase the Carpenters, rainy days and Saturdays always get me down.

But, not today. Not on what is being called the most crucial weekend for curve-flattening in our city. The more it rains today and tomorrow, the more people will stay home and the more links in the viral chain will be broken. With the city effectively shut down for anything social and the rain keeping people indoors and aways from parks and sidewalks, we have a huge opportunity here to really mess with the curve. I'm looking at it this way...

Rainy days and Saturdays are a huge blessing in the pandemic era.

People are asking me if I'm ok. I am. I just need to vent from time to time. It is how I manage my mental health. Some people cry and some watch Mel Brooks movies. I vent my spleen of pent up hostility toward all the stupidity I perceive around me. It isn't directed at any one person, (unless you are married to me and, believe me, he takes on a shitload) but it is, instead, me issuing a global tongue-lashing and hopefully a few people might get the not-so-subtle hint.

We have been studying the book of Proverbs during our weekly Shabbat Torah study, and today we came across a fascinating and strangely relevant passage for the times in which we find ourselves.

A scoundrel, an evil man
Lives by crooked speech,
Shuffling his feet,
Pointing his finger.

Duplicity is in his heart;
He plots evil all the time;
He incites quarrels
Therefore calamity will come upon him without warning;
Suddenly he will be broken beyond repair. (Proverbs 6:12-15)

It continues...

Six things the Lord hates;
Seven are an abomination to Him:
A haughty bearing,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
A mind that hatches evil plots,
Feet quick to run to evil,
A false witness testifying lies,
And one who incites brothers to quarrel. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

The question was asked if evil is the correct word. Is perhaps, wicked a better descriptor? I think it is a difficulty with the translation but it is worth a discussion. How do we view the difference between evil and wickedness? I think that evil is a core issue; a malevolence and sociopathy that is so fundamental to a particular person that they derive a twisted pleasure from the results of their cruelty. I'd like to think that wickedness can be educated out of an individual. At Passover, we read about the four children and we do not discount the wicked child. We use the opportunity to teach and hope that this child will learn from her selfishness. Evil is unteachable. Wicked seems to have the ability for self-growth.

But come on...

Doesn't that passage from Proverbs describe a certain world leader to a fricking tee? I found it positively creepy.

A few random thoughts.

My hands are so dry that even the callouses and hangnails have their own callouses and hangnails. There isn't enough moisturizer in the world to bring them back to life. I am now resigned to having old-lady hands for the rest of my days.

There is an empty parking lot directly across the street from our window and as I look out right now, I see a father and a small child of no more than five-years-old playing tennis. Mostly they are just running around but it is cute and properly distanced.

Have you all learned any lessons from the last few weeks? I am amazed at the many progressive ideas that were previously derided as untenable and impossible, that are now being implemented by governments and businesses. That guaranteed basic income is looking pretty good to Canadians right now, isn't it? How about how little you really need to get by? Places of worship have drastically altered their mission statements and have seen an increase in participation. I realize that some of that growth is because people have a lot more time on their hands, but it is fascinating to see what kinds of programs lend themselves to the online world and don't require in-person attendance. I also have been reminded as to how important our teachers and minimum wage earners are to the smooth running of our societies. I've said it before and I'll say it again, pay them all. If you haven't been able to leave your home for a while and aren't doing right by the person delivering your groceries, you need a slap upside your head. We absolutely can afford a fifteen dollar per hour minimum wage. We are proving it every single day right now.

Today's music break comes from Toronto's own Barenaked Ladies. 




Wash your hands. Don't touch your face. Be kind. Stay healthy.