COVID19 Gratitude?! Plus I’m working on my 1st podcast ever! by da-AL

Podcast photo of da-AL with K-D for Happiness Between Tails.
We’re hard at work on an upcoming podcast for you to enjoy!…

“Stay safe.” How many times a day do you hear that? During this COVID19 era, whether the conversation is for business or pleasure, the majority of mine end with someone telling me, “Stay safe.” Then I ask them to do the same.

Here in Los Angeles, weeks have turn into months. No complaints from me, proud of the liberal blueness of my state as I am. Assuming folks remind me to ‘stay safe’ at home with super-clean hands, for my part, I mean something different. Stay safe, dear reader — stay safely happy as well as healthy.

Now that we’re on the subject, how are you managing that? Me, I do my usual keeping busy. Let me preface that with: it’s easy for me. I am most definitely lucky, lucky, lucky. I’ve got food, shelter, and all my people are sound inside and out. That includes my four-legged furry little girl. And I live in an area where Spring has sprung amid a fabulously mild climate.

Recently I heard that sheltering has affected dogs (surely the menagerie of other beloved pets too) — in a good way! It turns out that at least one doggie needed vet-prescribed relaxation to recover from wagging their tail so much. Ah, the sheer bliss of having one’s person(s) home ‘round the clock, ‘round the week!

My heart goes out to everyone who struggles as a result of the pandemic. Thank you, all who are working away from home. You are my heroes.

But I feel guilty. You too? Because for as terrible as the situation is…

These are some of the gifts that I will miss when sheltering is over…

  1. I live within walking distance from a commuter airport, and my home has single-paned windows. Fewer flights mean I’ve been sleeping better and now I hear more birds in the daytime.
  2. Though I didn’t eat out much even before the sheltering, stocking up for two weeks at a time takes rethinking errands and cooking. That’s not so bad — I’m finding that shopping far less often leaves me more time to write, to walk, to do all kinds of things.
  3. Nature too is getting a ‘reboot.’ Fewer drivers result in cleaner air, more birds singing this spring-time, and less road-kill. It’s nice to look up to a night sky of more twinkling stars, fewer airplanes.
  4. It’s lovely to see neighbors I never knew. They ride their bikes past my window, their kids following like ducklings.
  5. More pets are out with their owners. On my strolls, dog in tow or not, it’s a relief to not worry about rush-hour traffic mowing us down.
  6. People are adopting more pets!
  7. My expenses are down. Since this started, I haven’t needed to put gas in my car.
  8. I have less laundry and buy fewer clothes I haven’t gotten my hair styled, and I definitely use fewer cosmetics.
  9. My rare drives are a breeze in the reduced traffic.
  10. Definitely, it would be great to see my friends and family in person soon. On the other hand, with all this extra time, we’re keeping in closer contact thanks to Zoom and FaceTiming. Moreover, visual visits require us to really pay attention to each other.
  11. When I had my annual physical, speaking with my doctor didn’t cost me a co-pay, as it was a phone visit.
  12. Without the commute to parties and my beloved yoga studio, I’m keeping fitter with fewer days of over-indulgence and the daily zoom workouts.
  13. My husband is whiling away his extra time by assuming much of the grocery shopping and cooking duties.
  14. For all anyone knows, I’ve got a mustache and mask-tan lines on face — but I won’t tell!

Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels this way. When I asked my Facebook friends, they had plenty they appreciated. I forgot to ask permission to name them, so I’ll paraphrase. Some are exercising to videos and glad for more time to cook, garden, create art, and to watch old and new favorite TV shows. Personally, I’m totally on the same page as the friend who’s binging on “Monk” shows. Even my local newspaper, The Long Beach Post News’ columnist Tim Grobaty, reports some good fallout from all the pollution slow-down.

Need some self-soothing boosts? Here are three f-r-e-e apps that help me — this one from Australia, this one through a company that also features free mind games, and this one that utilizes tapping.

People are grateful for…

  1. Time to enjoy flowers.
  2. Along a beach on Lake Huron, Canada, the sky is breathtaking… clean, clear days and inky nights with exuberant stars.
  3. I’m using less gas, and I love how gasoline prices have dropped.
  4. Less traffic is excellent for motorcycling.
  5. Now I have time to practice meditation.
  6. Now there are a lot of swans at my park.
  7. I’ve got more time to garden. The clean air and bright sun are lovely on my walks with my dogs.
  8. I’ve taught myself new line dances as I practice in my kitchen!
  9. As a baking enthusiast, I’m taking cakes to friends stuck at home.
  10. I don’t like that I still have to go to work, but it’s nice to see others spending more time with their children.
  11. This is giving everyone a chance to reevaluate their priorities.
  12. My cat has more time to sit on me.
  13. My blood pressure is way down.
  14. I’m feeling more relaxed and healthier than I have in years.

What’ll you miss once the pandemic is over? Are there any gifts you’re determined to maintain?

More of Happiness Between Tails posts regarding the current crisis are here and here and here and here and here and here.

Now about my first podcast — I’m hard at work on it! It’ll be ready for your listening pleasure soon!

AIDS Before it Had a Name: Grace within Tragedy by da-AL

“Hope for the Future,” an earlier post by my good friend David Hunt, got me to remembering AIDS during the early 1980s. At that time, it was a mystery so dark that scientists had yet to name it. It took a while for experts to figure out how it was contracted. All anyone knew for sure was that it was deadly, most of all to gay men at their physical primes.

People in other countries called it an American disease. They talked of screening us before allowing us to visit. Some argued that gays should be segregated. Conspiracy theories abounded.

During then, I reported news for KPFK, a non-profit radio station based out of North Hollywood. At the same time, I paid my rent thanks to a ‘real’ job, while I attended college part-time and interned at CNN.

David was news editor for a lesbian and gay show at KPFK, called IMRU. Today IMRU is syndicated. It proudly boasts itself as, “The nation’s longest running Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Radio News Magazine.”

Despite my workload, David’s civil rights stories seemed far more imperative than anything I was already reporting on. After enough pestering, sometimes he allowed me to help him with his projects.

IMRU 1982There we are in the back row, David Hunt to my right. To my left, the man with the devilish grin and muscled good looks is a fellow radio host.

David Fradkin’s entertainment career began as a kid on the TV show, Romper Room. He was smart, multi-talented, and totally fun. To this day, it’s still hard to believe that AIDS took him only some years later.

David Fradkin 1982David Hunt’s post describes Robert Bland, one of the valiant first to battle AIDS. Thinking of Robert makes my eyes mist up, as much for him as for his mother. During his final months, she moved into his small apartment to nurse him through the horrible, messy, gut-wrenching end.

David Hunt 1982Months later, she appeared at my workplace. It was a car rental counter in one of Los Angeles International Airport’s terminals. Flights unloaded customers, some of them nice. A lot were drunk businessmen who would holler when their cars were five minutes late, or threaten to slug each other over who was next in line.
Employees were closely policed. During quiet times, we were prohibited from reading, socializing, and talking on the phone.

The despair in his mother’s eyes sheered away my trepidations about risking my job. I set out an extra stool for her. She stayed for my entire eight-hour shift, desperate to talk to anyone who had known her son.

Eventually, David and I opened a video production company. Later in his post, he refers to some of the HIV infected kids we featured in a video, along with professionals from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles on AIDS. HIV is the virus that lowers the immune system. AIDS is the final stages. We interviewed scores of patients, professionals, and volunteers. Every single one fought hard to conquer AIDS. One was a woman whose husband, a drug user, had died of it. She lovingly cared for him until his last breath. He had infected her and their infant.

Another mother adopted two small children, a boy and a girl, whose biological mothers had died of AIDS. Both kids were charmers, a shy girl with pink ribbons in her hair, and a rambunctious boy with a fierce hug.  The new mom sobbed inconsolably through many nights. Lest her husband miss work from lack of sleep, he took up residence on their couch.

Back then, blood donations weren’t screened. A young boy we interviewed had hemophilia. He was infected as a result of a blood transfusion. His parents feared that people at his school would be awful to him. Was it health and social challenges that matured him beyond his real age of about twelve? That made him and his family so caring and wise?

Fortunately, AIDS research has made great strides. It’s become rare for kids to die of it. Still, it remains a tragedy. At such times, grace is most evident. I was fortunate to meet those early AIDS fighters, each of them full of wanting to live, to love, and to give.

David Hunt’s blog
More on the early days of AIDS
More on the difference between HIV and AIDS
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Libraries still carry the video
Classroom lesson plan we wrote for the video
Ways to end AIDS