Update: Another new variant, actually probably 2 or 3 since I last wrote, each one more contagious. Fortunately, we’re vaccinated, boosted, and probably going to get another booster soon, so if we get COVID, we’ll just feel fluish, not die. Cases are pretty low here right now, but James and I still wear our masks everywhere and hand-sanitize a lot. I’d do it anyway to avoid the flu or a cold, etc. Why not? It’s great not being sick for 2 years.
I got my booster shot on Wednesday—a Moderna, even though I got a J&J before. I’m glad to have an mRNA one now, and actually also to have had the old-fashioned kind first. That way I feel like my body is equipped across the board to fight off the current plague. I got my regular flu shot at the same time, so I was really wiped out and had a headache yesterday, but today is much better. Still a little weary, but the headache is gone.
Lucie developed a UTI and was peeing all over the floor constantly. She hasn’t peed in the house since she was a puppy, so we knew something was wrong. Fortunately just a couple weeks of antibiotics and she’ll be back to her old self. Already after just a couple of days she’s much better. No pee in the house last night or today! She’s now lounging on our bed for the first time in a week, so she’s happy.
James is doing his L’Arche thing right now. They’re singing their favorite Christmas carols, which of course include “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Blue Christmas”—it wouldn’t be a celebration without Elvis. I’m sometimes envious of James’s total love of that work, and of his chance to be around French speakers and speak it himself. But it’s not my calling. Apparently my calling right now is to be an English-language teacher to business professionals in Japan. Hard to get my head around that being my calling, but it seems to be so at the moment. I’ve put in 4-1/2 years at The English Farm so far. And I’m getting more and more work to do for content and curriculum. People say I’m a great teacher, and I get a lot of strokes for my content work, so I have to believe that I’m doing a good job. Still doesn’t feel like my passion, though.
If I had to choose a passion at this point, besides being free of all responsibilities when on vacation, I’d have to say visual arts. I’ve been obsessed with a portraiture competition on TV—it’s fascinating to see the process of creating a portrait of a sitter. Each artist has their own style and approach, so I see a lot of different ways to work. And I always think about how I would portray that sitter. If I had the money, I’d go to art school in a heartbeat! Not for professional gallery work, but to learn the skills to express myself well. I think I’d specialize in multi-media because I love to put things together to make something of its own. And it’s very hands-on. Photography is mostly about the eyes, especially since I don’t have a darkroom. I want something more physical.
We’ll be getting a Christmas tree tomorrow from the local farmstand down the hill. It used to be a huge thing for me to cut our own—I grew up doing that, so it seems like cheating and a let-down to buy one off a lot. But these days it’s just more work than it ends up being worth, I guess. And with my constant state of injury and pain these days, it’s pretty hard for me to manage Christmas tree cutting.
A regular student of mine told me today that she’s pregnant, after years of trying. Hope for the world continues.
I just read a NYTimes article about “disenfranchised grief”—grief that isn’t acknowledged. There is a lot of it that has built up in many of us who haven’t lost anyone close to us, or lost our jobs, or been evicted. Our losses are “smaller”; e.g., losing time with our grandchildren; missing out on big events like weddings, funerals, graduations; canceling travel plans; or just being unable to be with people face-to-face.
All those little losses add up, though, and need to be acknowledged. We have to give ourselves permission to feel it. It’s common to say, “Other people have it a lot worse than me, so I can’t grieve the small things.” I say it all the time—”I’m lucky because I already worked from home so my job wasn’t affected”; “No one close to me has died, so I’m very fortunate”; etc. I feel sad that we can’t be with our kids and grandkids. It was painful to have to have a memorial service for my brother-in-law, who died from lung cancer, over Zoom—it tore me apart to see my niece sobbing and not be able to hold her. I miss wandering around TJMaxx for a couple of hours.
But I haven’t lost a loved one to COVID. We haven’t been evicted or lost our income. We can afford to put food on the table. So my grief isn’t as important as others’. I don’t have a right to grieve.
Not so! There’s no hierarchy of grief. My grief is just as legitimate as anyone else’s and needs to be honored. How to do that is up to me—I need to find ways to grieve openly that work for me. I’m not good at grief in general, so it won’t be easy. Not that grief ever is.