Saturday, December 12, 2020

Happy Holidays--and smell ya later 2020--from the Martins

(This was our Thanksgiving photo.)


What a year this has been! 

This may be the most redundant Happy Holidays letter that I will ever write. Because all of you have experienced some of the same highs and lows this year that I have. And we have all shared some common experiences in the last months that are not true most other years. But even with the trauma and difficulties of 2020, each of us found our way through these months with unique experiences.

Here are some of ours.

It has been almost 300 days since Lynda and I last worked in our office or saw our colleagues face-to-face. It has been almost 300 days since our children . . . (And how much longer can I accurately use that descriptor to capture who they are? Most likely it is already woefully out of date.) . . . had something of what normal days are supposed to be. And realistically, it may be another 200 days or so before we can truly resume what used to be our lives.

None of this was anticipated or expected. Now I feel incredibly self-conscious when I accidentally go outside without a mask. Now I wonder when we will stop wiping down our groceries as they come into the house. Now I strategize when we might actually be able to plan a vacation with confidence and not brace for the inevitable rescheduling or cancellation. Now I can only imagine going on a date with Lynda to see a movie and sit down in a restaurant. So many things have changed in 2020.

The important things are stable however.

All five of us--along with Lynd's mom, Cheri--are healthy and safe and secure. We've worked hard to keep it that way, and it has paid off. We miss what socialization we could have done or the places we should have gone in the last nine+ months. But we did it for a reason. We did it for each other and we did it for others beyond us.

Lynda and I are happy to be continuing in our jobs . . . ever changing though they are. The unknowns of our industry in a changing world. Especially when the schools across the country are so topsy turvy. But we are in positions to help affect those unknowns. And that is a good feeling. I can't truly speak for Lynda, who has experienced more organizational readjustments this year. But through all of that her value and work ethic continues to be appreciated. 

My work continues as well. Each week the team makes further progress toward our multi-faceted goals. I've learned a lot this year and continue to try to get better. I'm proud of what I and my department are doing. These are the things you hope for in a job--steady, predictable, fulfilling.

As for Sarah, Grace, and Hannah? They are taking on the unique challenges of 2020 in their own ways. And they are really succeeding in significant ways. 

Sarah finished her first half of junior year at Columbus College of Art and Design. She stayed on campus for much of the Fall Semester, sharing a four-room campus dorm suite with her good friend Josiah. Classes remain digital. She returned home for the last weeks of the semester to gain some social strength from the family during the pressure cooker of completing finals. That wrapped up this week and she has several weeks off to relax and work. 

Grace is halfway through her final year of high school. She was the drum major for the marching band this fall, which was almost the only reason that we left the house during COVID. I was proud of the safety precautions that the band staff embraced and enforced throughout the summer and the fall to keep the kids safe--stricter than they needed to be! And though it wasn't a full season and there were no competitions to enjoy, it was so much better than nothing at all. It would have been heartbreaking to lose that one last change for Grace to experience a band season with her friends. Right now she is waiting on college announcements and finishing up scholarship applications. Her life will be different in many ways by next fall--and so will ours. But she has earned what comes next. And I look forward to seeing her get there.

Hannah is working her way through 7th grade and we are all trying to figure out the best way to navigate the confusion of this school year. Some weeks she is home. Some weeks she is in school. Every day she is learning how to operate more independently and take on some more responsibility as she ages. These middle school years are a difficult time of figuring themselves out. And it is hard for Lynda and I to guide her while allowing space for self-understanding. COVID makes that even harder. She is stuck with us a lot of the time--and that is not always the best place for an almost 13-year-old to be. But simultaneously (and contradictorily) it is frequently the BEST, most important place for her to be. Each day presents its own challenges, successes, and frustrations. We really are building the car as it drives down the road.

I hope you are able to find some time to catch your breath in the weeks ahead. We look forward to taking some time off from the pressures of work. We won't be going home to see family and that is sad. But it is part of the 2020 experience. I hope we can take some moments to look at holiday lights and find some peace during this season. Our church worships will be virtual, but the meaning remains. 

The days are short and the nights can sometimes be cold. But I want to wrap up this difficult year by remembering the good things that did occur. I'm ready to move out of 2020 and I look forward to a better 2021.

Wishing you the same!

COV285D-19: Football Counter-Programming B1G Week 8


Last week was a bye week for me, I guess.

I intended to sit down and write something on Saturday like I normally do, but then time passed and I just didn't do it. But I think it fits the overall experience of college football this season for you to maybe tune in to experience something and it just doesn't happen--including today's  tOSU/UM game. And everyone just adjusts and changes the rules to suit them and we just keep moving forward.

That last sentence can apply to a lot of things in 2020: your feelings about the coronavirus, the way that you choose to avoid it--or not avoid it. It also applies to election results and . . . well, you can fill in the blank that fits for you.

So, last week I was out and everything moved along.

And this week I'm keeping this short because I'm going to write a non-COV#D titled post that will go up later and will serve as our Christmas "mailing" for 2020. 

We didn't find the proper motivation to make a typical video, or to purchase and address actual Christmas cards. And now December is halfway over and . . . sigh . . . I just don't want to. But I will try to reach out in the form of a blog post that I hope you can experience on my social media feeds. It is not as nice as the letters and cards that I have received from some of you this year (thanks!). But I hope you will forgive me/us.

Until next week, I leave you with this . . .

If no one is there to create Script Ohio, does the sousaphone player really exist?

Saturday, November 28, 2020

COV271D-19: Football Counter-Programming B1G Week 6

Did you all have a nice Thanksgiving Day? What was your favorite part of the meal? And do you, like me, think that we don't eat roasted turkey nearly enough? It's easy to do--even if you go to the trouble of bringing it overnight as I typically do for the holidays. But the actual cooking of the bird is simple. And it always happens much faster than I expect it to year after year. I don't have to be in such a hurry each Thanksgiving morning.

When do you typically eat on the big day? Are you midday eaters? Midafternoon? Evening? Do you let football determine your choice?

Speaking of football . . . I'm doing my weekly counter-programming effort but here in Ohio State country, COVID-19 is the most effective counter-programming force out there. Friday night the announcement went out that the game was cancelled because students were diagnosed with the coronavirus (including the head coach). And that is two games in this shortened season that have been eliminated due to virus postponements. I'm wondering if tOSU will even have enough games on its schedule to justify it being in the College Football Playoffs in the coming weeks. (The Buckeyes were tagged as the #4 entrant at the first week's playoff ranking announcement.)

But enough football talk . . .

What else have you all been up to besides cooking and eating food? We barely leave the house, so we've been watching lots of TV the last several days. I'm trying to finish watching HBO's The Leftovers . . . a series that has been off the air for many years now, but one that I am enjoying at a pretty slow pace. I read Tom Perotta's book when it was published a while back and very much enjoyed it. And the Damon Lindelof show is quite good--with lots of musings on the nature of belief, what to do when the universe throws everything in a blender, and how to live in a world that does nothing but show indifference. It's definitely NOT uplifting. But it makes you think.

Speaking of shows that make you think, while also sometimes making you cringe, I thought of Showtime's Kidding again recently. I really, really liked that show from a few years back and wish that I could watch it again. But my cable package/streaming services don't include Showtime anymore so I think I'm out of luck.

Similarly, I wanted to do a quarantine rewatch of Battlestar Galactica (the Ron Moore SyFy version) and was dismayed to find that it is not anywhere streamable anymore. And I don't want to spend the money on paying for it . . . because there were several seasons that I would not want to pay for anyway.

What shows would you like to rewatch but you don't have access to any longer? And do you secretly have the feeling--erroneous and anticapitalistic as it is--that all things should be available somewhere all the time now?

As is our family tradition, we put up the bulk of Christmas decorations this weekend. We are saving the outdoor lights for a pole arm extension to be mailed to us in a week. But the trees are up and the ornaments and stockings are hung. The doo dads and various decorations are placed. And I must say that I am impressed with our two cats general indifference so far. I was afraid that they would wreak havoc on ornaments, trees, and statuary alike. But they've acquitted themselves very nicely so far and I am--dare I say it?--proud of them for their restraint. (I've likely jinxed everything . . . but we'll see how it continues to go forward.)

Saturday, November 21, 2020

COV264D-19: Football Counter-Programming B1G Week 5

These days it feels like I am creating anxiety on a daily basis and that I am always waiting for the next shoe to drop.

There are the obvious health conditions in the country, as well as the political state of the country that are contributing to this inner turmoil. But I am also beset by worried of work and personal professional performance.

Why am I always ruining my daily life with expectations of perfection? What does that get me? How can I do good, quality work that isn't driven by a fear of mistakes. And when mistakes happen, how do I accept that failing in myself and truly (TRULY!) incorporate it as something to learn from and get better at rather than turning it into some sort of goad?

When will I learn to trust my ability and just keep doing the work that I have proven I know how to do pretty well?

You have no answer to this and you didn't come to this blog today to serve as my therapist.


In other news . . . Sarah hit a young buck deer on her way to work yesterday afternoon. Most luckily, she was unharmed, but half of her windshield was badly broken and part of her roof dented as well, plus a broken headlight and a misaligned panel on the side of the car. A significant accident and we are still waiting to hear what insurance will say about the state of the car.

She was only a few miles away from the house when it happened, near where a friend of mine lives. I quickly headed off to see how I could help. (So quickly that I neglected to grab a mask on my way out the door, which I realized when I was halfway there. But I didn't turn around because I was mostly concerned about getting to Sarah quickly.)

When I arrived, a man from across the road was checking to see if Sarah was alright. He was leaving as I walked up. I spoke to Sarah to see that she was physically fine and holding up emotionally. .Then I noticed that I had pulled the car along the side of the roadway very close to where the deer had come to rest. (And I had not even noticed it when I parked.) While Sarah and I were beside her car and some yards from the deer, I could see that it was still, but not dead. It was resting in a runoff ditch, beside the entrance to the neighborhood near the main road.

As Sarah and I talked, the first policeman arrived. (Sarah had already called the police while I was arriving.) He came out of his car carrying a rifle, ready to put down the deer. The officer asked Sarah and I to move away from our cars and away from the deer. We turned away and I braced for the sound. It was pretty loud but luckily he only shot once. 

Once he put the deer down, he approached and I was surprised when he asked if we had plans to keep the deer. (Grace later informed me that it is Ohio law that in these types of accidents, the person involved has a right to keep the deer if they wish.) But we had no desire to keep the meat or a way to keep it, transport it, butcher it . . . whatever. So we declined. He quickly asked if he could take it, as he could butcher it for meat. I was happy to let him have it, but that was the last part of this incident that I was mentally prepared or expecting to have at that moment. Mostly I was worried about Sarah's emotional state and the sound of the gun and didn't want her to be bothered with more thoughts of the deer that she had hit.

Once that was all over, we got down to the quotidian business of clearing out the accident. Sarah used her insurance app on her phone to contact a tow truck. 

While we waited for the tow, I made a quick call to my friend who lived nearby and asked him if he could bring me one of his masks. I was increasingly self-conscious about talking to police and whomever else might arrive with no protection on me. He quickly arrived and helped save the day. He caught up for a few minutes while Sarah sat in my car and rested. He left a few minutes later. It is good to have friends!

Lynda called to see how things were progressing. She decided to come and let Sarah borrow Grace's car so that Sarah could proceed ahead to her job and hopefully occupy her mind with other things. Lynda and I stayed with the accident to report it to insurance, and get that machinery going.

Eventually the tow truck arrived and we completed the claims report for insurance. We headed back home to complete our day and wait for next steps. Sarah got home to us from work that evening and we are all safe again together.

It was an unusual afternoon--to be sure. But nothing more than machinery and a deer were hurt. I'm glad enough for that.

Back to the normal anxieties once again.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

COV257D-19: Football Counter-Programming B1G Week 4

 What if they held a football game and no one came?

Well, that would be this year . . . because no one is allowed to come. (Or almost no one.)

But even now, today's tOSU game is cancelled because the opponent (Maryland) has coronavirus complications.

So . . . how do I counter-program something that isn't even programmed?

And while we are asking pointed questions . . .

How long will I keep this counter going on my blog title? What is the appropriate metric for stopping it? 

  • When I personally get a vaccine? 
  • When I leave my house on a much more regular basis? 
  • When I stop wearing a mask? 
  • When I can eat in a restaurant again? 
  • When I can actually touch someone who is not a direct family member?

And those are all connections to ME. 

When will I know that others have gotten vaccines? 

When can I feel that others are safe?

What? When? How?