SCRATCH! THAT! ITCH!

It’s amazing how much I want to touch my face.  Like, all the time and everywhere.

Most especially, I want to rub my eyes.  But REALLY rub them good and hard so they will never itch again.

Though while we’re on the subject, I really, REALLY want to spend a good hour scratching my nose.  I don’t have a particular spot because the tingling shifts all the time. First it’s on the outside, then on the inside and then on the top and the bottom of every side.

Cue Macaulay Culkin scream

Which is to say nothing of my mouth and my ears.  If I weren’t eating everything in sight (Note: Not that there’s very much) or spending so many hours listening for updates and warnings on cable news, they’d bother me even more.  That said, when those orifii (Note: Alternate plural for orifices) are not engaged it’s pure hell to resist the urge to, well, manhandle them in some every way.

In the age of COVID-19 self-quarantine/social distancing/pandemic land we’re not supposed to do a lot.  But touching your face is among those at the top of the list of the WORST things to do.

It’s easy to understand why.  The virus’ entry point is through any open membrane into your body exposed in everyday life.  If you don’t live in a nudist colony, your face is Iwo Jima.

Or, if you don’t like war metaphors, you can think of it as a potentially fatal petri dish.

This is how I used to think about my acne-ridden face all through adolescence so for me that’s not a far reach.  It’s more like a golden oldie.

Unless, of course, there is another way to think about this.

When I stop to ponder what I’ve just written only one word comes to my mind – insanity.  It’s that kind of neuroticism I spent most of my adult life trying to undo through every means possible.

Totally normal now

In particular, many years and tens of thousands of dollars of therapy come to mind. Let’s not even get into all the bad relationship choices, inappropriate acting out by any means necessary or the sheer abject solitary terror and loneliness.

So I’ll be damned if I’m going to let Covi drag me back now.  Nor do I want you going down your own personal rabbit hole, however more creative yours might be. (Note: though I doubt it).

Take those personal victories where you can get them

The crazy part of this face stuff is not the admonition to keep our hands and everything else away from that particular part of our person.  Instead, it’s the absolutism with which we tell it to ourselves and shout it out to the world.

It’s true, you don’t want to be in an office, a public space or anywhere else and put your fingers where they shouldn’t be (Note:  Good advice, even without a plague).

But if you’re at home alone and you’ve just washed your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water, well —

HAVE AT IT!!!

Me, right now

Truly.  If you’re healthy nothing will happen to you.  How could it?  You’ve just disinfected (aka killed the virus) the means by which your death sentence will mutate.

Yes, I’ve exaggerated for dramatic effect.  COVID-19 is not a death sentence for most.  But for many, it’s not fun.  And for many more other than yourself, it could be if you pass it on.

But you want to be mindful.  And you want to be rational or you will kill the very reason you want to stay alive to begin with.

And when in doubt, I just remember Jon Hamm is OK

TODAY.

Fine, today’s not so great, even if you do like your house.  Nevertheless it’s all we’ve got for now.  In actuality, it’s all we’ve ever had.  It’s just, well, it didn’t always seem that way, did it?

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to f-ck up today for myself more than outside circumstances already have.

This occurred to me this morning after I came back from a lovely morning walk with my dog, Rosie, took off her collar and leash, gave her a treat, took off my jacket and put it in the laundry room, scrubbed my hands thoroughly and then nearly slapped myself silly for having the urge to….itch the outside of my nostril with my bare finger.

Do I want to die, I thought for a split second.

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!

And then I sneezed, confirming pretty soon I would die.  In fact, it was imminent.  Never mind that it’s the height of allergy season and I haven’t had my bi-weekly allergy shot in weeks.   And that Rosie had decided this a.m. to sniff every tree, shrub, flower (Note: But no people, NEVER people) in sight.

Then suddenly I stopped.  Maybe it was all that therapy or perhaps it was Rosie’s look at the crazy person in her kitchen.

But something in that moment made me ponder my runaway train thought processes, wash my hands one more time for good measure (Note: You never can be too careful), and then SCRATCH AWAY.

NEED MORE HANDS!

EVERYWHERE.

And I do mean everywhere.

(Note: Use your imagination).

What have I done?

In closing, all I’m saying is this:

You don’t have to scratch every itch you have but there is no point to any of this if you simply exist in a scratch free prison of your own making.

DO NOT take this as in invitation to party in the South Beach of your choice with your favorite teen or twentysomething.

But DO find a way to party on your own….with clean hands.

Bee Gees – “Stayin Alive”

Fight Club

I stepped into a hornet’s nest of passion this weekend after re-posting a news article focused on a statement made by MSNBC commentator Joy Reid.

In it, she took Bernie Sanders to task for saying the Republican establishment will not stop him from getting the Democratic nomination for president, nor will the Democratic establishment. 

The tweet that started it all…

By equating the powerbrokers of both parties, Reid claimed Sanders was essentially staging a hostile takeover of the Democratic Party rather than bringing people of that party, and others, together to defeat Donald Trump.

She framed it all by pointing out that in making the above proclamation Sanders, a registered INDEPENDENT and technically NOT a Democrat, had boldly and unapologetically kicked 65 million Hillary Clinton voters, the majority of who WERE registered Democrats, to the curb.

And that he needed those voters to win.

I was in such agreement with those thoughts and so annoyed by Sanders’ cavalier messianic attitude, I instantly put it on Facebook with a single accompanying phrase: THIS.

Very quickly, and perhaps predictably given how many young people and former students are my Facebook friends, here’s what the reaction looked like:

My facebook feed for the last 24 hours

Now I had planned this week to write about how actress-writer Amanda Peet had literally stolen my identity with the title of her just announced Netflix TV series THE CHAIR, starring the sublime Sandra Oh as the head of a college English department.

I mean, all I could think of was:

HOW DARE SHE??????

But when you weigh my outrage against, well, my outrage, it’s clearly the subject of Bernie that wins — at least for right now.

More importantly, I’m thrilled that it did.

Me and conflict

That repost prompted close to 100 back and forth passionate, angry, frustrated funny and heartfelt comments on politics, social issues and the state of our mutual lives.

I don’t know that it singlehandedly changed anyone’s mind, for the moment, but I am positive it allowed many of us to better understand the place from which each of us were coming from and why we felt the way that we did.

I’m also inclined to think that the next time this subject comes up we might all be that much more informed about how people really feel on the issues and allow us to engage that much more effectively.

Me, achieving world peace

It might even enable us to resolve a few things and modify our approach, or opinions.

This is how change happens and this is how you open hearts and minds.  Not by rolling over but by engaging, arguing, listening and then engaging again.  And again.  And then some more.

A big part of my job as a college professor is to provoke, navigate and guide.   There is nothing wrong with criticism if it’s followed by discussion.  It’s essential in the classroom and in life if we’re to ever move forward anymore.

TAKE NOTE SANDRA! (nice chair though)

But too often these days we just can’t seem to do it well or avoid it all together.

Talking out loud about a controversial issue, statement or opinion devolves into I hate this, or him or herOr rage about the blah, blah, blah of the blah, blah, bah.  Even the mere sound or sight of the blah, blah, blah, in print, or worse, in person, is sickening.

This enables the I won’t comment at all for fear of being attacked or the strategy to seethe quietly (or not so quietly) and then strike in such a way that I can’t be harmed  and/or you won’t know who it is.

Or the alternate strategy of I will do nothing and just go on with my life, which isn’t horrible enough to move me away from my everyday routine in order to engage with this issue, or you.

If only

This doesn’t work for any of us on either side in the long run.

My college community is at the moment in the midst of discussions about race and racism as we become a more diverse and inclusive campus.

It is healthy to address those issues and more as long as it’s not done in an absolutist manner from either side.

This is difficult to achieve, as many in the fight will attest to, but clearly is possible.  We stumble, we upset each other but we persevere and eventually come to an understanding of each other’s points of view and then figure out how to best soldier on with the best outcomes for as many of us as possible.

And if that doesn’t work, we can all agree that Jon Hamm’s still got it

It’s easy to see colleges, or social media platforms or real live engagement as a petri dish of microaggressions, oversensitivities, insensitivities, hostilities or simply biased and/or callous disregard, and worse. 

But that’s not the way I look at it.

We MUST get in the ring and spar, perhaps even fight, in order to get anywhere, especially these days.  We are required to LISTEN and then try to understand, regardless of whether we do a 180 and change our points of view.

To turn away and NOT do it, to hide from all this conflict, is a sure fire strategy for our mass mutual demise.

Christina Aguilera – “Fighter”