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In These Times, #40 Vacuums and Lonely Shoes

#40 Family Matters

In These Times, by Dr. Jody Kussin April 23, 2020


“Build back better”


Lonely shoes in the closet.


Worried canned goods in the pantry who survived years in the back, now sure they will be the next to be plucked out of obscurity and cooked into some dinner found by googling, ‘what can you make with artichoke hearts, pitted green olives, and chicken breast in a can?’ are chatting among themselves. “Stay low. Fall through the cracks. We’ve been here long beyond our expiration dates; we can hold out a lot longer!”


Clearly my mind hates a vacuum. Well, not REAL vacuums, those I’ve been researching all month long now – looking for a magical one that is cordless, holds the charge long enough to clean up every last piece of dog hair (can you say ‘summer time weather changes = massive shedding activity?), and does not require an engineering degree to figure it out. The kind of vacuum I do poorly with is the one where there is an emptiness of certainty. Life in the gray. SIP-fatigue, is what I’m calling it. Being fatigued from all this sheltering in place.


Leads the mind to fill in the space with some rather ‘out there’ thoughts. Like the talking canned goods. Or, these random thoughts:


1- Are doorbells obsolete?

2- Are my shoes sad and lonely without my feet?

3- Why would a dry cleaner be open?

4- Are doggie playdates ok when playdates for children are not?

5- Can we really ‘build back better?”


The last question makes more sense given our lives today. I like to be hopeful. And when possible, helpful.


Over the weekend I sent notes to my medical providers – to my internist now and to the internist I’d seen for years back when I worked in Ventura County, to my cardiologists (two, just in case, always good to have a backup), and to my dentist. I wrote to ask about their health and well-being, to see if they are holding up ok, to let them know I have zero intention of visiting them anytime soon, and to thank them for all their hard and dangerous work. As I know their nurses screen their emails, I thanked them too. A tiny gesture. Made me feel useful. Turns out, they were touched – despite their busy days and nights, they each wrote a little note back saying thanks (and that I should behave myself and NOT give into my SIP-fatigue.)


What are your fantasies for when we build back better? I wish for long vacations for health care providers. And for my mail carrier. And for truck drivers and cashiers and bus drivers and TEACHERS. And for sure for parents. A long vacation – where the children are all IRL classes for at least eight hours a day. And you can go about your life and still be a loving parent, just not oncall in person 24/7.


In these times, it’s good to dream big.

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