One of the best feelings in the world is to wake up from a nightmare and find out you are not actually in a Turkish prison or that your right arm was not amputated. Life is so good in that moment. We may wish for sweet dreams but they can generate disappointment. On Tuesday I woke up from a dream where Snoop Dogg came up to me in an airport and called me by my first name. I nodded when he identified me as a friend of Sharon. In the dream that made sense and I was so excited to call my wife and tell her about running into our friend Snoop. I had left her in the hotel room and walked down the hallway into an airplane terminal where Snoop and I had exchanged our pleasantries. Nothing about the sequence of events seemed odd to me. I sat down in a waiting area and fiddled with my phone until it turned into a smoke alarm. I woke up and realized I did not need to make the call. My wife was actually down the hall from our bedroom. Before I got to the den, I became aware that I only dreamed Snoop Dogg and I were friends. I had nothing to tell her about how our buddy Snoop was doing. I did not even mention the dream which she is presumably reading about in today’s Blog. I am so stupid in my dreams. Why did I think buying hashish in Turkey was such a good idea? What made me trust my dentist to perform surgery on my arm? Why is Snoop Dogg wandering around an airport without a mask? Who the heck is Sharon?
I dragged five suitcases upstairs for my wife’s latest run to Goodwill. Mom periodically upgraded luggage over the years. Rejects from my parents were always better than anything I owned. The bags were decades old with primitive or non existent wheels. I used them sparingly as I permanently stash clothes in Virginia at my son’s house and travel light elsewhere to warm weather destinations. I have the same initials as my Mother so the “feminine” pieces were even appropriately monogrammed. My wife was pleased to see the bags go and suggested I could now buy new ones. That set me off. What is the point of purging if we replace the purge? I told her I would be selecting from the seven pieces of luggage still on our storage room shelves. She could not possibly need all seven on any trip we are taking together. As I emptied the luggage tags of our identification information, I was startled to find one still had my Father’s name, title (Vice Chairman), company (Boeing), and an incomplete address (Seattle, Washington). He lived in a different Universe from me, one where the airlines would find him without a street address, zip code, phone number, email, or any other common identifier. Apparently I never even used that suitcase. My wife and I permanently lost all our luggage on a plane transfer in Puerto Rico in the late 1980’s. I wish we had known to use my Dad’s identification tags. The luggage probably would not have disappeared. If it did and was recovered, I could have picked it up from him. And if gone forever, we would at least have a big laugh imagining a disappointed thief shocked that the bigshot victim wore very cheap and incredibly unfashionable clothes.
Seija Rankin interviewed David Sedaris by phone in his U.K. time zone where it was approaching midnight. She said he paced “back and forth in the office of his Sussex home” as he attempted to tally 18 miles in his daily step count. This news elated me because it confirms my own Fitbit tracking is within the bounds of normalcy. Last Saturday, I powered to 38,120 steps by adding extra walking during phone conversations with son Ryan, friend Scott, and daughter-in-law Joanna. Ryan Facetimed because he needs a visual check to complete his weekly assessment of my mental health. So he caught me pacing. I think it cost me a few points but apparently his assessments are protected by confidentiality which actually benefits me. I know I have not crossed the obsession line or I would have been typing my daily Blog while jogging in place just to hit 40,000 steps. But I found that produces gibberish because I tried it once just for fun. Nobody could tell the difference but I cannot take the chance that Ryan might figure it out, hack my account, and shut me down. He looks like the type who could because I noticed he still has not cut his hair since Hunter Biden created the Coronavirus. My unintended rambling means I now have to change the title of this Blog from David Sedaris to something else. Although I should mention that Sedaris wrote every day for fifteen years before he published his first book (Barrel Fever 1994). Doing the reverse and writing every day after publishing my first novel has produced more disappointing results. But I am going to challenge Sedaris to a Fitbit Faceoff to prove once and for all who is the better writer.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Such an annoying sound. Early Sunday morning, my cell phone beeped me awake. My son and daughter-in-law were both beeping me about a smoke alarm making that intermediate beeping sound in their Condo. Beep. Wait. Beep. Wait. Beep. I am the wrong person to call as evidenced by the wires hanging down from my hallway ceiling after a smoke alarm skirmish. I reminded my son that ripping out the device does not even stop the beeping. So I got in the car to go help with all the rituals of trying to reset the alarm, change perfectly good back-up batteries, turn off the power, curse, and then do it all again in reverse order. I was in a hurry so I grabbed a Mandarin orange for strength. I wanted to eat something before doing battle but the car goes beep, beep, beep. How does it expect me to put on my seatbelt when I am driving with my elbows on the steering wheel so I can I peel the orange? Beep. Beep. Beep. Alarms talk to each other and by the time I arrive, the smoke alarm has infected the carbon monoxide detector which is now also beeping. I am persecuted by beeping. The dryer at home beeps even though I do not care when the clothes are dry and do not want to go to the laundry room and deal with the bleeping beeper. The oven beeps. The answering machine beeps. The discontinued security system still beeps. I hate the interruptions, the noise pollution, and my own inability to stop the beeping. Beep. Beep. Beep. I am sorry that the Roadrunner ever popularized the beep. Someone should invent a Beep Detector that disables devices emitting beeps.
Even with the Coronavirus pandemic, births in the World and United States in 2020 will once again far outnumber deaths. Sixty million people will die but 140 million will be born into the World. The United States will contribute about three million deaths and four million births in 2020. The rate of population growth has slowed in recent years but the population itself continues to grow. Mother Nature barely notices the pandemic. But we watch the Coronavirus death toll rise one by one on the chart in the corner of the television. Eighty years from now Our World in Data says annual births and deaths are expected to dovetail into the same number for both the World (120 million) and the United States (4.5 million). Those projections are meaningless with so many variables at play. How many more pandemics, wars, genocides, and natural disasters are factored in? Will the United States even exist? I will not be around by then nor will the great majority of people alive today. This perspective is difficult to process because each individual death and birth can mean the world to people closely connected to those events. We presume 2020 will be memorable to future generations because we personally feel the intense low points. But how many of us really ever thought much about the Spanish Flu and the World War I battles of 1918. The flu pandemic allegedly originated that year in Haskell County, Kansas. Inducted troops carried the virus to Fort Funston and then overseas to Europe. The War and flu together ultimately killed an estimated 70 million humans. Down the road in Codell, Kansas, a May 20th tornado hit the town on the same day for the third straight year. Today how much do Kansans even remember about such momentous events?
My 16 year old grandson is a special needs student. He is special in so many ways. He can remember restaurant meals we ordered over a year ago. He can tell us if the waiter was rude or talked about a Star Wars movie. He has laser like focus about subjects that interest him like food, weather, and super heroes. He has learned how to engage in conventional banter but cannot follow complex topics to any great depth. He successfully uses common idioms but does not actually understand all the precise nuances. I am impressed how he has mastered this survival instinct out in the world. He is pleasant, laughs often, and is generally more popular than me. So I have started studying his techniques. On Tuesday, my wife asked if he had a bagel on his field trip. He answered this “yes or no” question with a favorite phrase: “Probably not.” Later as I left to jog, I asked if he wanted to join me. He answered, “Probably not.” I could not resist coaxing the obvious “no” out of him. The word “probably” often suggests “yes” but he uses it to soften “no.” He learned “probably” is a safe hedge against potential trouble. If chaos erupts in the household, he usually says, “That’s not good.” This is another place holder observation that does not touch on blame or offer tangible help as he awaits to see how events unfold. So now when my wife asks if I have loaded the dishwasher, I am going to float a “probably not” response. If she demands to know who tracked mud across the carpet, I will say, “That’s not good.” If such tactics fail, I will go back to blaming Sebastian.
I did not watch the last Presidential debate because I long ago accumulated enough information to make a decision. Instead, I watched a game between two losing football teams. Another losing team in their division lost their name this year because they could no longer survive the controversy swirling around the racially charged term “Redskins.” So they are just the Washington Football Team for now. The divisions around this issue became so entrenched that no new name had even been considered in the event this day came. My college long ago replaced their less offensive Chieftain mascot with a Redhawk. The change was not universally welcomed but was an easy call because defending the old name was not worth collateral damage to the essential mission of the University. Besides they changed to Chieftains only because they were tired of being mocked as “Morons” when their original name was Maroons. Anyway, apparently the word “Red” is not the problem, so theoretically “skins” could be used in a compromise designation of Washington Muleskinners. It would reflect the stubbornness of the owner and those resisting the change. I also listen to a Classic Country music channel to avoid politics. Before falling into the mascot rabbit hole, this Blog was going to be about music. I remember Dad singing along with the car radio when he was in his early thirties to Blueberry Hill (Fats Domino), Mack the Knife (Bobby Darin), and Alley Oop (Hollywood Argyles). As a preteen, I was horrified that Dad seemed hip listening to an early version of a pop music station. His mother was a Country Western fan so I rebelled and became interested in my grandmother’s music like Muleskinner Blues (Jimmie Rodgers 1930). Hey, the rabbit hole went in a big circle.
I finally admit to being a regular guy. I pump my automobiles and body full of regular gas. No premium petrol for me. I eat a large bowl of fruit with oat bran every morning to stay regular. I am a regular member of Amazon and Costco. No prime or elite memberships for me. I maintain a regular heartbeat except for the last few minutes of Seahawk games. I hope those few irregular beats will not kill me some day. I pray, vote, exercise, and floss my teeth regularly, mostly for selfish reasons. But I do not actually want to be an ordinary regular guy. I have always longed to be an extraordinary guy. I imagine myself as Jim Carrey in the The Truman Show movie where I am the center of a Universe. Donald Trump has been destroying my delusion by muscling himself to the center of my life. If Pope Francis voices support for same sex civil marriage, I find myself wondering how this will affect Trump’s bid for reelection. This is crazy. I am no longer the star of The Geoff Show but have been relegated to a supporting role in a simulation Universe. I am a regular guy, maybe a gadfly who provides comic relief. The other day I dreamt everyone was backstage wandering around in good spirits. I hope it was not a garden party Wake after wrapping up The Geoff Show. Donald Trump was very visible. He was bragging about some aspects of his performance but he was not his usual obnoxious self. I did not see the Pope anywhere. I do not know if that is a good sign or not. I was looking for my former doppelganger Ricky Nelson when I woke up.
On Monday, I received an official jury duty notice requiring Superior Court service beginning on Tuesday, November 3rd. Maybe they just want me to count ballots. I never ever received a summons until I retired. Since then my name has come up a half dozen times. My first experience was serving on a four week murder trial. Since then I have been screened out based on questionnaire answers or removed by preemptory challenge. I once postponed because of travel plans but did overkill on the appeal by claiming sufficient fulfillment of my civic duty, caretaker status for grandchildren, age over 70, mental impairment, social dysfunction, and poor hygiene. Apparently I still meet the minimum standards. Now the pandemic makes me freer than ever. I am not traveling. And my daughter-in-law cut her work hours and removed me from most homeschooling duties after witnessing my teaching style (Yelling) when I was unaware she was still in the house. So I can comply with the latest jury summons even though I will never be seated. The murder trial ended in mistrial. They cannot ask me how I voted (I supported conviction) but when they figure out I was involved in a mistrial, the odds favor bumping me for someone else without that potential baggage. Pandemic voir dire is done by remote video so it will be easier to participate in jury selection than slogging through the bureaucratic exemption process. Election days should still be holidays, so I will honor tradition and appear on camera in festive campaign costume with political buttons. My backdrop will include hysterically inappropriate signs that should get me permanently disqualified and/or arrested.
Dr. Scott Atlas and Dr. Anthony Fauci are both members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Dr. Atlas attempted to discredit Dr. Fauci by pointing out that “his background is virology, immunology, and infectious disease.” Dr. Atlas believes that Dr. Fauci’s limited expertise narrows his scope and diminishes his views. Dr. Atlas credits himself with a broader outlook as a “health care policy person” who can better “translate medical science into public policy.” Dr. Atlas is well credentialed, including a BS degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. And he probably does understand the world of lies, corruption, and political expediency better than Dr. Fauci. But while I am hunkered down in a pandemic bunker, I would rather be hearing from the virology, immunology, and infectious disease expert. If I needed radiology treatment, I would certainly be more attentive to what Dr. Atlas has to say about that. But we already have too many spin artists sitting in news anchor seats, running for political office, and lobbying government officials. God bless Dr. Fauci for his underappreciated service.