I am very honored and excited (and even a bit relieved) to be included in Nancyspoint.com’s 2020 Summer Blogging Challenge (https://nancyspoint.com/are-you-ready-for-my-2020-summer-blogging-challenge/). The main reason for these positive feelings is that Nancy is a wonderful writer, blogger and human being. So if I can in any way be associated with Nancy and her work, then bully for me. Plus, since we now seem to be doing everything virtually these days, hopping from blog to blog seems a great – and COVID-free! – way to share with and learn from others. Thanks for organizing this again, Nancy. You truly are the best.
Now, to this year’s interrogatories:
Who are you? Tell us whatever you want about you and your blog. I commend Nancy for starting with the existentialist questions first – so that hopefully they allow us to focus (and get the hardest over with at the outset). I remain largely who I was at this time and event last year – luckily the father of two still terrific sons (who are each, however, a year older) and so fortunate to be married to a wonderful and beautiful woman. A doctor, of all things! My mother is so proud. And, in a bit of a constant from last year, I still have cancer. Leukemia to be more precise. But, in another bit of continuity, I am also still alive. So I will take the good with the bad. I continue to blog – although not as much as I would like (this is foreshadowing of an answer to another question so read ahead only if you generally like spoiler-alerts) – because, to be blunt, cancer always gives one more nonsense to have to deal with. And I can only complain so much to my family and friends about it, particularly when I can’t even be within six feet of most of them.
What has been your biggest blogging challenge during this pandemic, and how have you been tackling it (or trying to)? This one is pretty easy – the biggest challenge to my blogging has been being able to find a computer that was not being preempted by anyone’s “virtual classes”, homework or gaming. The way in which I have coped with this challenge is by not coping with this challenge. I just watch endless coverage of the pandemic. (I like to see how many doctors’ predictions come true. Bad news (and another spoiler alert): The epidemiologists are usually pretty much correct.)
What is something you’ve accomplished with your blog that you’re most proud of? This one is a bit tricky, but I think I will go with being able to connect with others who are both afflicted by cancer and who have access to a computer. Having cancer can so often be such an isolating experience. It is thus beyond reassuring to know that that which I am enduring is not unique.
Share two of your best blogging tips. (1) Keep blogging, even if you don’t feel like you have much to say. (2) Find someone better at blogging than you to inspire and guide you. I recommend Nancy.
What is one of your blogging goals this year? I would really like to be more consistent with my blogging schedule this coming year. I started off well, but then I got ill, and then there were the holidays, Super Bowl, a family cruise (which in retrospect seems pretty risky) and then this whole pandemic thing. Excuses, excuses.
When things get hard, what keeps you blogging, even if not regularly? I wish I had some morally compelling response to offer here, but really when things get hard I often throw in the towel. I figure I already have cancer and in-laws, so there are only so many fights I am willing to wage simultaneously. But usually what gets me motivated finally is getting frustrated with someone or something. Or both. Plus people, myself included, do many, many dumb things and someone just has to comment on them. So that usually makes me feel better if I can publicize these failings.
What is a dream you have for your blog? I really would like to be able to connect with more people. I never set out to be a blogger, but I do have many things to say, regardless of the worthiness of saying them. So I would like to be able to infiltrate the minds of many others.
Share a link to a favorite post you’ve written that you want more people to read. I have so many profound blog postings it is almost cruel of Nancy to make me chose. But chose I must, so I have selected the following: https://itsinmyblood.blog/2019/09/17/thats-a-lot-of-cancer/. In a fit of unprincipled cheating, this post also includes a link to another of my posts so I thought I could squeeze in two posts without anyone noticing.
In all seriousness, Nancy, thanks for organizing this. I have struggled to write this year – quite a bit, actually – but this gave me inspiration and, dare I say it, even excitement, about writing for the first time in too long. Thank you.
During the past three-plus months of mandatory isolation, I have attempted to use the imposed “down time” wisely. I have, regrettably, failed miserably at doing so. Like all seemingly great ideas, I started off with not only the best of intentions but also great zest for all that I would accomplish now that I was forced to do nothing but be at home. Yet after cleaning out the basement and pantry and a few other unsightly areas of accumulated junk, my excitement for this newfound domestication began to ebb.
On the physical front, I had similarly viewed this as an opportunity to continue working on my external appearance, one which could, arguably, use an upgrade. This was made quite challenging, however, for two principal reasons. First and foremost, although I have a love-hate relationship with running (the emphasis on the hate portion), I quickly realized that my body can no longer take four or five days a week of running on the road. This realization manifested itself when I suddenly developed pain in my right – or dominant – foot. (The reason that it is the dominant foot is because I already have an unhealed broken bone in the left foot – also likely caused by such pavement pounding – and that will not heal unless I have it surgically removed, which does not really seem like it would heal the bone either.) As a result, I have had to cease most forms of exercise and instead merely don a nighttime compression sock that is supposed to stretch my plantar fascia but seems too merely look weird. I am currently in the market for podiatrists who don’t mind looking at one’s feet through FaceTime (even though that is the wrong end of the body).
There is no question that we have all suffered through the “stay at home” precautions that have been in place for, depending on where one lives, over two months. Here, in the greater New York City area, I mark the official start of this period as Friday, March 13, not just because that is a bad day in its own right but because it was that particular day that we received notice that schools would be closed “for the remainder of the month.” Of course, “remainder of the month” is actually to be interpreted as “remainder of the school year (and possibly much longer)” but it was, at least in my somewhat informed view, a necessary step. I say this both as a concerned parent and one with self-concern (read: cancer).
So in the more than 75 days since then, it has been a challenging period of living in close quarters, home-schooling, alternative sleeping arrangements (since my wife is a doctor dealing with her share of coronavirus patients) and relocating my affairs and effects to the guest bathroom, which I have unfortunately realized I now prefer to the one which forms part of the master suite. Luckily for me, there is no end in sight to all of this so I will be able to continue to brush my teeth, occasionally shave (I see no reason to do it regularly these days because, absent an intrusive Zoom call, who is going to see my visage anyway?) and enjoy my new Navage nasal rinse in the relative spaciousness and privacy of my own dual-vanity “facility.” I do worry, however, that we are now just a short step away from Ozzy and Harriet style bedroom accommodations. As a minor consolation, if that does come to pass, I am pretty certain I can claim for my own twin bed Andrew’s Star Wars sheets. They are not a high thread count, but they are awfully cool.
Like many out there, I have basically lost all sense of time. I seem to recall that here, on the penumbra of the epicenter of the pandemic, we have been staying home for roughly two months. Unlike some areas of the country, however, our self-containment looks like it will be continuing for an indeterminate amount of time longer. That is not the case for all of the State of New York, just that area that is referred to by some – but not anyone that actually lives here – as “downstate.” (Essentially, if you are a resident of the Empire State, you either live in the greater NYC area or you don’t, the latter of which is referred to as “upstate.” But in life there is not always a yin for every yang so we of the mass urban sprawl don’t feel the need to define ourselves by not being from somewhere else. Call us elitist if you must.)
And since this state of existence, which is really not much of an existence at all at this point, will be continuing beyond any visible endpoint, I have recently been attempting to occupy myself with trying to remember how it is that I have managed to endure the last eight weeks of doing virtually nothing. This was actually a good exercise, by which I mean one that involved a lot of thinking on my part, as it is surprisingly difficult to remember the mind-numbing minutiae that has occupied me for so long.