Ohio COVID-19 Journal Day 8

Feeling a little more somber today. Heard from another friend of mine, a doctor. She read yesterday’s blog post but stopped when she got to the part about the joys of working from home. She admitted it was because she felt a little jealous.

This news gave me pause. I felt sheepish, ashamed, because let’s face it: she doesn’t have that luxury. No one in the medical industry has that luxury today or in the foreseeable future. This particular friend of mine has gone through two separate instances of chemo from ovarian cancer, and yet here she is on the front lines of the pandemic, selflessly serving others.

She shared how she sees many older patients in her practice, some of whom look forward to their doctor appointment because it’s the only social interaction they get all day, or even most days.

If you’re struggling with these new restrictions, think of the elderly people in your life. Think of the doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, other hospital, hospice, and elder care workers.  Think of the daycare workers who are working with kids while juggling the risks and restrictions placed on them, every day let alone today. There are all kinds of people to think about, to thank.

We need to support one another, however we can.


In another one of those incredible, perspective-inducing memes:

Your grandparents were called to war. You’re being asked to sit on your couch. You can do this.


Ohio Governor Mike DeWine asked people to hang the American flag as a sign of solidarity, presumably because many of us might not have an Ohio flag, cool as it is with its pennant shape. The previous owners of our home had a flag pole in the yard but it was broken and became rusty so we pitched it several years ago. I will have to make an effort to hang our US flag somewhere on our house this weekend.

In today’s press conference Lt. Governor John Husted reminded us that tough times reveal our character. He spoke of a grocery store fight that broke out between two customers over toilet paper. Toilet paper. As much as I’ve joked about it, it’s not worth fighting with a fellow citizen.

Contrast that story with the one about a state employee, a technical guy who worked tirelessly to launch the state’s coronavirus unemployment benefits web page even while a close family member was dying. He chose a selfless act of service for his fellow citizens in a time of crisis over personal tragedy.


I sit in my house today wondering if my throat feels funny, like my glands are starting to swell. Maybe my imagination is running wild. It worries me. I realize I’ve been in a happy little bubble, but I really need to brace myself in case it bursts in the coming days.

This last week, my coworkers have all reliably shown up for work on conference calls like I confidently assumed they would, but it hit me: we will start hearing stories about people who are falling ill. People we know. The rumor mill is running with the name of an infected high school student in our community of roughly 27,000 people. Will it get more real when we hear that news first-hand from someone?

Is it more real now that the first Ohioan has passed from this virus? The numbers in Ohio and the US are really starting to jump. I’m not surprised at the numbers as we’ve been warned they would, and warned that we are just beginning this upward slope.

What if yesterday was Week One of Eight? What if it is Week One of much longer?


We are hearing reports that China and South Korea are slowly beginning to return to normal, but their societies are quite different than ours. I’m not an economist but I know America increasingly runs a small business and gig economy. How resilient are those to a pandemic? A few of my learned business friends are quite concerned about the long-term economic devastation about to hit America if this drags on longer-term.

One of those people is my best friend from college, Greg. I dreamt about him the night before, so I took it as a sign to Facetime him last night. We caught up for the first time after several months and I didn’t care that my face was sans make-up. He is hunkered down in his Manhattan apartment with his new fiancé and their two cats.

They pretty much can’t leave, and they haven’t for two weeks now. It’s impossible to step outside in New York and be six feet apart from people. He shared how the EMTs came the day before to take away his neighbor who couldn’t breathe.

He’s thinking through the logistics of packing up their lives and cats and traveling to Ohio to live with his elderly mom in the country for a few months until New Yorkers get the all clear. He figures he’ll be there to help his mom should she have a medical emergency, fix things around her house, and step out for fresh air by walking in the woods. He has the financial luxury to take a couple of months off from his work.

We talked daily in college, mostly to get through honors accounting homework and deal with our tough, formidable professor together, but just as often our talks turned to life and the future. Greg always called me “dear” and could finish my sentences for me, but despite all that, we always agreed to politely disagree about money.

Greg thinks we’re headed to a great depression of monumental proportions. I know exactly what kind of dominos need to fall for that to happen, and part of me knows he’s right about that, but for now I’m still hanging onto hope. If China and South Korea can emerge from this, maybe we can too. There will be casualties of the real and metaphoric kind, but I won’t mourn that yet. That time will come but not now.


Speaking of being hunkered down, I see many references to people reflecting on the dignity of Anne Frank, hiding in a 450 square foot space with her four other family members for two entire years, trying to avoid being heard and captured.

Perspective. We can do hard things.


Ryun and I need to do a better job of explaining that to our kids. Believe it or not, we finally sat down for family dinner last night and it wasn’t quite the Norman Rockwell moment we would have liked. Our kids had nearly a full week of free-for-all without curfews or much in the way of chores so the mere thought of gathering at the same time daily for – egads – a meal together was a crimp on their freedom.

I wanted to use the backside of my hand on each of them. I didn’t. I whipped out the old, “in my day we didn’t have the luxuries you did…” diatribe but it rang hollow. Eye rolls in every direction.

It was time to appeal to a higher good within them.

In between bites of spaghetti, they learned that for the rest of their lives, they will be asked, “What did you do during the pandemic?” and we explained we wanted them to be proud of their answer. Ryun and I suggested enrichment activities that – get this – each of them enjoys.

I may as well have told them the internet was dead. Or asked them to amputate an arm and return their electronic devices to owner. Not a proud parent moment. We have some work to do at Louie Lodge.

In closing, I leave you with this today, author unknown but full of grace.


Photo by Luis Melendez on Unsplash

Travel Truth

We’ve all heard it said that if you really want to know someone better, travel with them. Somehow I always thought of this advice when it came to friends and people with long-term romantic potential.

But who’s to say you can’t do this with one of your kids? Especially a teen, those mysterious creatures who often withdraw from parents from ages 13-21.

sebastian-leon-prado-547564-unsplashI have these really cool older cousins who raised two children. My family would get their annual Christmas letters and I’d read in awe about how one parent took one of the kids on a trip in high school somewhere in the US, just the two of them, and then they’d switch out where the other parent would take that same, now college-age kid on an overseas trip, just the two of them. They did this for both children.

Being a travel buff, I thought that was an AMAZING idea. My cousins’ kids were so fortunate! And now as a parent with means to do the same, I am taking action. So many years I wanted to travel but virtually none of my friends had the time or means to go so I went solo, aching for a companion. Little did I realize that one day I would give birth to them.


oakie-696139-unsplashIt all started when our oldest turned 13. Growing up he loved geography and soccer and we’d talk endlessly about the places he wanted to visit one day. Seattle was consistently at the top of his list, so he could see the Sounders play. I planned to surprise him with a long weekend trip to Seattle, just the two of us, but by the time I worked out a mutually agreeable weekend, a whole entire year passed. We made the trip the summer before he started high school instead of the year he became a teenager.

Our Seattle trip was so much fun he wanted to do it again, so we traveled to New York City for a long weekend this summer too.

My oldest is beginning to think this is an annual excursion for us, and while I’d love that, I have two more kids in the hopper, so I hope I can afford all this when their turn arrives. Sure it seems doable today, but the other two are closer in age so these trips will add up quickly. I don’t want to over promise, but let me tell you: our time together was magical.

I drove us seven hours to New York, so we got a lot of talking done in the car. We had an almost adult conversation where I shared some things that have been bothering me and he gave me the advice we always give him. He even admitted that he was coaching me to take my own medicine and I chuckled over how I couldn’t argue with him or I’d invalidate the advice I dole out as parent.

We visited Ellis Island, talked about today’s immigration challenges, and discussed my immigrant grandparents and what it must have been like for them to leave their homes and family forever 100 years ago. We visited the 911 Memorial Reflecting Pools and I recounted the story of that frightening day and how worried I was for my friends who lived in the city. We marveled over the endless number of foreign languages we heard over and over again, all day long. I suggested to him that all Americans should visit New York City at least once in their lifetime to see first-hand what a melting pot the city is, almost like Muslims are expected to travel at least once to Mecca, and maybe just maybe as a result, Americans wouldn’t be so afraid of “others”.

We talked about travel, anthropology, sociology, art, movies, musicals, Hamilton, celebrity, history, politics, Manhattan neighborhoods, gentrification, the cost of living, what he wants to study in school, where he wants to live, religion, sex, family, weddings, marriage, and child-raising. Yeah. What didn’t we talk about?

rob-bye-319816-unsplashI took him to a high-end restaurant and he navigated his way through the menu, ordering process, and all manner of dining etiquette through tip calculation. I bought him a New York style slice of pizza and taught him how to fold and eat it. I taught him how to hail a cab, orient himself on the streets and avenues, catch a ferry, and use the subway. I’m excited that I taught him the ways of New York City, and I hope he always remembers it.

He asked a ton of questions and I answered them all without reservation.

My son, who is very content playing video games, talked the whole time. We laughed. He was attentive to whether I was tired or thirsty, and he opened doors for me and others. He was unceasingly polite. He couldn’t get enough of the people energy in Times Square and had to walk through it each day.

He asked if he looked like a tourist or if he was behaving more like a resident. You see, he might want to live in New York one day. I could see him trying it on for size and vibe and watch his face light up as he recognized one landmark after another. I like how he’s a worldly kind of dude for his age.

I saw glimpses of the man we’re raising, and he’s only 15. Last year he tried to engage me in a pillow fight. This year, he gently asked me about something that was tugging at my heart and making me sad. The amount of personal growth he demonstrated from one year to the next and the level of compassion he had shown me was remarkable, and I was dumbstruck over how mature, deep, and intimate our conversation was, because we were talking about things I don’t even discuss with some of my closest friends. I doubt we would have connected at that level had we been at home and stuck in our normal routine. Correction: I am certain we would not have connected at that level.

Do you have any idea how precious this time was? It was New York, and as Midwesterners, we don’t walk nearly that much on a daily basis or cram so much into our day. It was go-go-go the whole time. Exhausting but equally exhilarating. I didn’t want our trip to end.

I better start saving for next year, and for two more kids after that. He’s already got fingers crossed for me to show him around Boston next summer.

Are you longing to connect in a more meaningful way with your kid? Go on a trip, just the two of you. It doesn’t have to be big thing, but go somewhere overnight you’ve never been. You just might find that where you actually travel is deeper into each other’s hearts.

Photo #1 by Sebastián León Prado, photo #2 by oakie, and photo #3 by Rob Bye, all on Unsplash

Hail Hamilton!

I’ve been offline for a couple of days. Drove 6.5 hours one way from Ohio to New Jersey and back this past weekend to visit an old friend of mine who beguiled me with tickets to Hamilton to celebrate my big birthday this past year. That last sentence should be enough to explain that she’s a pretty good friend.

We took the train into New York City Sunday afternoon. Got out at Madison Square Garden and walked to the theatre district. Oh man, was it ever cold! She’s a former resident of the city so she had her earmuffs firmly in place but I’m a silly Midwesterner who thought I could get away with gloves, a warm scarf and a hood. Nope. The city is WAY cold in the winter when you walk blocks and blocks…

Anyway, we get inside the theatre and I discover we were sitting seven rows from the stage, house right: so so close.  The Richard Rodgers Theatre is pretty intimate to beginIMG_6786 with but still: what a delightful surprise. It was Javier Munoz’s last performance in the lead, having taken over for Lin Manuel Miranda who originated the role and wrote the whole thing. The audience was uncharacteristically rowdy from the perspective of my prior Broadway experience, and totally pumped up for the show. Javier appeared on stage to extended applause and whoops, as did a few of the other lead actors.

From the opening line of the show, you could tell it would be different: an in-your-face, gripping story of a man who overcame unbelievable odds but whose accomplishments aren’t lauded.

Until now.

About 15 minutes into the show, tears streamed quietly down my face. I couldn’t believe how remarkable this performance was. Not that I’m a Broadway aficionado, but what art form tells the story of the Revolution? What musical virtually avoids all spoken word but raps and sings throughout? Tell me what Broadway event showcases modern dance and hip hop throughout the entire performance? I’m telling you, every single word was punctuated by a movement or gesture at just the right moment by the principals and cast. This wasn’t mere stage blocking…this was magic. The cast mimicked a hurricane, they became part of the set, props in a scene…

The words flew out of their mouths like rolling waves of history. So so fast. It was as if you had to hear an entire phrase and absorb it on delay to appreciate what they were saying. The speed of the speech was incredible. And it’s rap so it freaking RHYMED! You can claim that you hate rap and you therefore have no interest in this show, but I beg you to reconsider. The best kind of rap is storytelling with soul. And that is Hamilton.

How can you even begin to appreciate how much dialogue is in this show? At 3-5x the rate of any other type of entertainment? This is a story being told with speed, dynamics, rhythm and rhyme, poetry and motion, not to mention color. The deliberate multi-cultural casting of the show is brilliant. As a line the playbook says: the story of America then being told by America now.

I swear, it seems that growing up we studied the Revolutionary War starting in 1st Grade all the way through 8th Grade. Memorizing dates and battles and commanders in a meaningless haze, to the point where I had zero interest in revisiting any of this history. Boring. Mindless. Yes, we formed a new country. Yay. Men died. Understood. We kicked the British out. Yep. Got it. Heard it, read it, been there, done that.  Yada yada. I know that sounds flippant. Arrogant. But nothing I had heard about the early days of our country really jazzed me.

Until now.

This telling gave you an appreciation of who these Founding Fathers were, what motivated them, what doubts they had along the way, and what qualities they had that mirror Americans today. And how every single one of them came from somewhere else, with their own dreams for success in this land, the French, English, Caribbean, and Dutch, to name just a few back then. That’s the beauty of theatre. It stirs emotion in you that makes it somehow relatable. I’m sitting there thinking of what characteristics Hamilton and Washington and Jefferson and I have in common. I’m still thinking about it, the connection of Founding Fathers over time to their American child: me.

There were moments in the show that blew me away. The music was a constant until one point in the show, when maybe Hamilton is actually using spoken word or maybe not, when the absence of accompaniment had an almost klieg-light effect on what he was saying. There was another poignant moment when the music became a heartbeat, and you could hear a pin drop.

And King George was hysterical throwing a subdued hissy fit. Every single restrained line was absolutely delicious. And it seemed that his words could be just as relevant to us today as they were intended to be at that point in history.

It was breathtaking. It was freaking genius, every single bit of it.

It’s been three days now since I’ve seen that show. I keep humming the themes and phrases that repeated throughout. I marvel at the remarkable drive of Alexander Hamilton, not to mention the irony and tragedy in the line, “I am not throwing away my shot”.

All I can tell you is, hands down, Hamilton is the most amazing artistic performance I have ever seen. A total game-changer in terms of entertainment. The story of an old world told by a new world. I am forever changed having seen it – so so proud to be American – and I urge you to see it in New York or in a city near you when it tours.