Love and Longing in the Time of Pandemica

I attempted to shovel the snow from my driveway yesterday. That effort is pointless and fruitless if the only shovel one has available is a standard round-point shovel, which is what I attempted to use. Shoveling snow with any degree of productivity requires a light-weight snow shovel, which I do not own. After about twenty minutes, I had moved fourteen inches of dry snow off of an area about five feet by five feet. At that rate, my twenty-two-feet wide and sixty- or eighty- foot long curving, steep driveway would take two heart attacks and several months to clear.  I think I’ll wait until higher temperatures eventually melt the snow. Or perhaps I’ll borrow a snow shovel from a neighbor; yesterday I watched him methodically clear a path from his garage all the way up to the street for his wife’s car. And his driveway is far steeper than mine. I can see my neighbors’ driveway and their house only during the winter months, when the trees are barren. And even with bare trees, I cannot see it all clearly; but I could see enough yesterday to know my neighbor was productive. I, on the other hand, was not. The Camry, sitting in the driveway instead of in the garage where it belongs, remains hidden under fourteen inches of snow. I suspect the battery is long since dead, given that temperatures during the last seven days were below freezing and dipped as low as 2°F. I’ve been stuck inside the house (except for an occasional foray outside to be blinded by snow) since last Sunday. I used to own boots suitable for trudging through the snow. No longer. I used to own outer-wear suitable for walking in frigid temperatures. No longer. It’s a bit late to relocate to Costa Rica, I suppose.


Thanks to a friend who possesses both curiosity and investigative skills, I learned that I may be in love with the actress who plays a character on the second season of a rather strange Netflix series called “The Sinner.” Or I could be in love with the curious and intelligent detective. It all depends on how much stock I place in the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (she is an INTJ). Well, not “all,” but “some.” Though I’m not giving my full-throated endorsement of the series, I’m intrigued by the character of Vera, played by Carrie Coon. I doubt I’d ever heard of Carrie Coon before, though perhaps I should have. She plays in the series Fargo and in Gone Girl, among many other series and films. At any rate, I watched some interviews with Carrie Coon and was delighted to see that she is articulate, intelligent, and well-educated. I realize, of course, this paragraph will confuse most, if not all, who read it. Don’t worry; it confuses me, as well. What? What’s the back-story? What does the MBTI have to do with acting? Who is the guy writing this stuff? Where did John go?


I think “temperamental” is a more appealing word, in most cases, than “moody.” In my mind, moody suggests grey gloom and perpetual sullenness, whereas temperamental has greater range. Moody calls forth a sense of depression, while temperamental portrays a manic-depressive experience. But as I think about it, the words belong in different contexts that need different descriptive expressions.

What is it, lately, that causes me to think of everything in relation to its context? Not that there is anything wrong with thinking about context, because context is so important in defining the relative degree of power that events or ideas have to influence our lives. But I wonder why, lately, do I think of everything in terms of its context? I seem to see everything in a framework of cause and effect, with the causes subject to external (or internal, depending on the situation) influences that have the capacity to change everything about the circumstance. Even my thoughts about those convoluted relationships are convoluted.

Why so some people find some words likeable and others not? Moist is one of those words that many people find offensive for some reason. Humid is not so troublesome. And wet is just wet; it does not trigger emotional distaste the way moist does.


A few years ago, when I was in the midst of one of my weight-loss initiatives, I discovered that I enjoyed sugar-free popsicles. I bought scads of the frozen treats as my alternative to sipping a glass of wine while I sat in front of the television. Sipping wine in front of the television can be habit-forming. So can sucking on sugar-free popsicles. Popsicles are cheaper than drinkable wine, if memory serves me correctly. I wonder, though, whether sugar-free popsicles are readily available during the depths of winter? A quick look online suggests they are, but it seems I cannot get the flavors I prefer without accepting others of which I am not especially fond. I like orange and cherry flavors, but grape is just barely tolerable. I cannot find grape-less packages. If I have to have grape flavoring, I prefer wine. And the whole point of sugar-free popsicles is to eliminate the calories in wine. So, if I want to avoid the calories, I have to accept grape-flavored popsicles as the cost of dietary discipline. Why is the world such a brutal, inflexible place?


If we chose not to worry about others’ opinions of our actions, would we behave in radically different ways? I suppose what I’m thinking about are inhibitions; how would we behave in the absence of inhibitions? I think it would be interesting if, for just a single day, we would all drop our inhibitions and say and do what we want to but which we don’t because our inhibitions tell us not to. That probably would create everlasting chaos and discord. I wonder about these things, though. Psychological experiments can tell us a great deal about such matters; if we’d only remember them and their lessons.


It’s almost 7:00 a.m. I’m out of milk and bacon and most “typical” breakfast foods. I’m thinking of thawing a filet of tilapia and cooking it in a greased pan on the stovetop, putting just a dusting of flour and cayenne on the fish before cooking it. Tilapia and radishes may be just the perfect breakfast this morning. Or I may find something else.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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