Small-town Life

Today we went to one of those lovely small-town events where people dress as historical characters, there’s a religious choir, shaved ices, American flags, hot dogs, used books, and canoodling teenagers. Everybody sits in lawn chairs and makes jokes about horses that it takes me until the end of the event to understand.

What’s really great is that people now recognize me. The bibliophile gentleman who organizes church book sales comes out to share his most recent finds because he knows I’ll appreciate them. People who have been to my public talks wave. The town library guy is happy to see me and gives Klara free books. The grocery store lady comes up to ask why I never bring Klara to the store anymore and which kindergarten is she going. God knows, it’s not vanity that makes me want to be recognized. It’s a former unpopular kid’s need to belong.

And at sunset there’s this gigantic, completely orange, beautiful sun over our heads. I tried to take pictures but they came out as pale and boring as any retelling of an event like this.

It took me years to figure out the rhythm of American small-town life but now I’m completely addicted.


This regime was a secularized religion, a ‘church-state’ or a state ‘counter-church,’ with its own intolerant dogma, preachers, sacred rites and lofty idioms that offered total explanations of the past, present and future, while demanding unwavering dedication from its adherents. Acquiescence was not enough; such regimes demand constant affirmation and enthusiasm from their own populations.

— Michael Burleigh, The Third Reich


The barrage of posts is due to me sitting in line for an eye exam.

It’s also kind of weird that I get a lot more compassion for having had COVID than I ever did for the very visible and scary-looking pus in the eye and PUPPPS. There are people who react to the words “I had COVID” in a way usually reserved for “I’ve had my left leg amputated” or “I have AIDS.” People get these solicitous, extremely kind faces and start talking to me like I’m doomed. Then I try to calm them down by acting in an exaggeratedly upbeat way, which freaks them out further.

I now understand why people with chronic illnesses don’t mention them to anybody. They don’t want anybody to be weird around them.

COVID and Me

The worst COVID symptom I had was shortness of breath. Everything else was either standard or funny. Standard doesn’t mean good. It was really really unpleasant. But not being able to breathe fully was scary as heck.

The problem is, I don’t know if the low lung function was COVID or a panic attack. My oxygen meter never showed lung saturation under 94%. 94 was the lowest it went and it generally hovered between 94% and 96%. Also, the breathing issues responded extremely well to psychologically calming tactics. Of course, those little home-use oxygen meters aren’t serious, so I just don’t know.

Once again, the last thing I want to do is make any generalizations based on my own very individual experience. I’m simply sharing my experience because I feel like it. If I had to choose between having the symptoms I had with COVID every three months for the rest of my life and living through two days of PUPPPS once, I’d go with COVID without a second thought. I’d get really slim, so that’s a bonus.

Comparing Coronaviruses

Talking about personal experiences of COVID, physically it was pretty bad but I’d had worse coronaviruses. One, for instance, came coupled with an eye infection that made ugly pus come out of my eye for two weeks. This was right at the beginning of my relationship with N when I was trying to charm him with my great beauty. This was kind of hard to do while sneezing, coughing, and oozing pus out of my face. On the positive side, this demonstrated that his was a true love that doesn’t mind abnormal excretions pouring out of the beloved’s eye sockets.

Another one was when I started working here, and it came with a terrible ear infection. I lost hearing in one ear for months afterwards. A half-deaf professor in classes where students are supposed to speak 90% of class time is quite an inconvenience.

The current coronavirus was better in that I was completely recovered after two weeks. And I lost weight, so that’s a plus. But the psychological aspect was worse because 18 months of constant drumbeat about death can’t fail to have an impact. My symptoms got dramatically worse immediately after I got the results of the test. I would have been better off if I’d neber heard of “COVID.”

Again, I’m only describing my own personal experiences. And I’m definitely not recommending COVID as a weight-loss program.

The worst illnesses I’ve had in my life were PUPPPS and gestational diabetes. Diabetes is terrible. It’s the feeling of a complete loss of control over your body, it’s horrid. Dooming people to diabetes to avoid COVID (which you can’t avoid anyway) is a terrible idea, in my opinion.

How Is 9/11 Taught?

Here’s a great analysis of history textbooks that cover 9/11.

I can’t tell you how often students ask why I teach history only through literature but the answer is contained in the article. History writing is the most ideological and manipulative of all. But it’s also almost always derived of pleasure because the writing style is dry, pseudo-scientific, and boring. If I’m going to be manipulated, let it be by somebody like Octavio Paz, who is quite open about the manipulation but also a great poet.

Putin’s Canada

In Canada, Maxime Bernier, the only candidate who is opposed to vaccine passports and lockdowns, has been excluded from the election debates. Bernier’s party polls higher than at least two of the candidates who were allowed to speak but nobody cares about that. The approved politicians happily blathered on about climate change and racism, two topics that, in the country’s third official language, means, “ef you, stupid proles.”

In Putin’s Russia people keep voting for Putin because there’s no other candidate. And there’s no other candidate because nobody else is allowed to appear on TV. And nobody else is allowed to appear on TV because Putin controls it. And Putin controls it because people keep voting for him. And so on.

(For the literally minded, I’m not suggesting that Maxime Bernier was excluded from the debates because Putin doesn’t like him. I’m suggesting he’s excluded because Trudeau’s handlers don’t like him).


I’m scheduling my appointments and have noticed that I go to great lengths to avoid female OB-GYNs and male masseurs. You’d think that the opposite would make more sense but I feel quite strongly about it. The problem is that I want a very deep massage and most female massage therapists only offer light and medium.