Every Day Above Ground (mallorys_camera) wrote,
Every Day Above Ground

Tap Dancing


By yesterday, I was feeling kvetchy and discontent again. Let’s face it: That is the primer coat under anything else I might be feeling most of the time.

One of my housemates took a large slice out of the tomato pie I baked and had been planning on freezing without my permission.

The Ithaca post office was unable to deliver the chili pepper care package I sent RTT.

Really important and earthshaking shit, right?

I wandered around all day grumbling to myself.

The real issue was that I wanted to play Tropico 6 all day, and really, why shouldn’t I so long as I’ve brushed my teeth and paid all my bills?

But I wasn’t gonna let myself!


Because there are novels to be written, and Donald Trump and his accumulated Armies of Darkness to be smashed!

Not to mention all those starving people who are no longer just in India and Africa but lined up in front of the Hyde Park food bank where I get to see them up close and personal on the third Thursday of every month.

Last Thursday, the line stretched for two and a half blocks, and I was rather amazed to see that many of those cars had Trump 2020 bumper stickers on them.

Say wha?


Annie got the Kindle I sent her.

And as soon as I talked to her on the phone, I realized, She is never, ever gonna use it.

Some time in the early 1990s, Annie made up her mind never to have anything to do with computers or digital technologies. There’s a bit of snobbery to her Luddism: She thinks computers and digital technologies are soul-stealing, and you know what? She’s not wrong.

Still. We live in a digital world. She’s a voracious reader, and with her broken hip and this post-Covid world, her access to books has been highly restricted.

So, I kinda thought a Kindle would be perfect for her.

“I was scared to open it!” Annie told me on the phone. “I kept staring at the package and whimpering!”

This was probably not hyperbole.


Annie confirmed something that Alicia had mentioned, too: Katherine got Covid six months ago and ever since, has been suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome so profound that she can barely climb out of bed.

Katherine is Rik’s daughter by his second marriage to Janet. I’m not related to her by blood, but since Rik was very hip and New Age-y about family relations, I consider her my cousin. (Annie, my blood aunt, nearly 80 now, was Rik’s first wife, and Alicia is their daughter.)

I babysat for Katherine a lot while I was in nursing school.

She was an Alice-in-Wonderland-y looking child who stymied me because she was completely uninterested in the tales of enchanted kingdoms and attempts to find magic in prosaic, everyday life that were my stock and trade with the children I minded. Even at nine, Katherine was pragmatic! Her parents were scientists; she was a scientist!

She grew up to be a very successful urban planner with clients all over the world. She married a British mathematician, had three children and lives in London.

I reconnected with her again at Rik’s memorial service a few years back and really enjoyed talking with her:


From left to right: Alicia, me, Annie, Katherine. (That name tag Annie’s wearing—“Wife # 1”—was in execrable taste, but I decided not to get into it with her.)

Anyway, I felt very bad for Katherine when I heard the news. What a miserable, fucking thing to have happened. And she was young and healthy. Not in the high-risk group.

I bought a card. And have been staring at it for the past 48 hours.

I want to write her an honest-to-God, stamps-on-an-envelope letter.

But what can I say?


I bought another card, too. This one for Carol. But again: What can I say?

Exactly one year ago, Carol and I rendezvoused near Watkins Glen and spent a fabulous weekend having adventures, trekking to local animal sanctuaries, visiting the Corning Glass Museum, taking glass-blowing classes.


We made a pact! She lives in Canada, I live in upstate New York, so casual meet-ups are not a possibility. But we would get together twice a year at some approximately midway point for more fabulous adventures.

Alas! The pandemic blew that plan out of the water.

Carol is affected by something I suppose one might call psychotic depression.

Just the concept of endogenous depression is a hard one for me to wrap my mind around. I mean, I don’t disbelieve that it exists! I believe it exists. But it is so outside my own realm of experience that I have to take its existence on faith.

Psychotic depression is almost impossible for me to fathom. I suppose the closest I can come to it is thinking of it as a perpetual methamphetamine crash.

I’m what I would describe as melancholic by disposition. Meaning that to me, the world is a place where suffering abounds, and I see and react to that suffering. But generally, when I get profoundly blue, there is a reason behind that mood, which I can identify. My own depressions feel like reactions to events outside of me.

Carol’s depression was like Grendel or Godzilla. This monster with its claws out, dangling her on marionette strings.

She took heavy meds to control it.

Some were successful; some were not.

She told me she never felt depressed around me, which was probably more due to the intermittent nature of our interactions than to any salubrious effect of my friendship.

I met Carol through BB, and he retains a closer connection to her.

But the last time she Skyped with BB, she told him she didn’t want to continue their friendship. Because the basis of their friendship was an intellectual compatibility, and her intelligence had all drained out of her. She was a broken thing now.

That broke my heart.

Our communication throughout the pandemic has been confined to random texted pix of our cats being cute. We exalt over tummy fur!

But I want to write her a letter: I care about you. I don't care about how well you tap dance.

Only the words are hard to formulate. Crossposted from Dreamwidth.
Tags: #annie, #i, covid-19, family, friends
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