Hand washing tips, and then some

Dear President Trump,

I don’t think I noticed the nice string of 2’s and 0’s on either January 20, 2020 or February 20, 2020 (which was 02/20/2020), but I’m glad I didn’t wait until November or December to pick up on it and now have most of the rest of the year to enjoy the 20, 2020 days.

Coincidentally, we are supposed to wash our hands for 20 seconds, which is kind of convenient for staying oriented to at least what year it is, even if the days of the week (let alone the calendar dates most days) are becoming harder and harder to pin down the longer this weird limbo time goes on.

The 20-second hand washing deal leads me, however circuitously, to the suggestion I’ve been wanting to give you for a few weeks now, which is that the advice that it takes about 20 seconds to mentally sing two rounds of “Happy Birthday” to support proper hand washing provides an opportunity to sprinkle a sort of loving-kindness meditation throughout one’s day. I’m better at it some days than others, but it’s pretty easy to cycle through everyone in my family, a good bunch of neighbors and co-workers, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg and wish them all happy birthdays in a day. When I do this, I feel a tiny bit more relaxed and less resentful about my new fingertip splits and much drier skin and I really am more conscious of my positive feelings towards these people.

There was one time about two weeks ago when I sang “Happy Birthday” to you in the second go through, but I decided that including you in my formal LKM recitation in the morning is good enough. I’m making myself hang in with the latter practice for my own sake, but I really, really don’t feel the least bit bad about wishing you would take your cake and your candles and all your perfect presents off to some fancy island in the middle of the Atlantic and stay there until you’re just done blowing out candles.

Last night I read the Politico article describing a tabletop exercise that Obama administration officials conducted with your incoming administration during the transition period. The exercise was focused on what would need to be done in the face of a pandemic. Reading it led to a super eerie feeling that none of this is real. Things have been so over the top messed up since Day-minus-74 (I count 74 days from election day 2016 to inauguration day) with you and now this, so as I got ready for bed last night, I really did have the sense that it can’t possibly all be happening.

It was the sort of incredulity reflected by the Talking Heads lyrics “How did I get here?…. This is not my beautiful house….”. We’ve lurched from what feel like more than a thousand horror stories visited upon us by you and your administration to the current reality where most of us are not able to leave our homes for anything but procuring the most basic things. How did we get here? And how is it that all of this is set against a backdrop of blatant lies layered over gas-lighting layered over fear mongering laced through with disdain for us and how we are feeling? This truly is not our beautiful home and yet it is where we live and what we’ve allowed.

I get that there would have been horrible challenges, including this pandemic, no matter who was leading the country (the “free world”), but it’s so, so scary that you and your props are the ones in charge. No amount of hand washing and well wishing is going to make up for this shitty reality so we are going to have to continue to look for competence and care elsewhere.

May we be safe from you, our POTUS, and your posse.
May we be willing to strike some sensible balance around our exposure to you.
May we keep our spirits healthy and strong.
May we give ourselves, and one another, grace as we muddle through together.

Tracy Simpson

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