/Trying to Reason with COVID-19 with Marshall Ramsey

Trying to Reason with COVID-19 with Marshall Ramsey

May 17, 2020. What we’re going through is real, scary, and traumatic. Everybody has experienced this virus, and it seems that everyone is going through five stages of grief: denial, anger and bargaining. You can see the posts of your Facebook friends and then compare them to yours. The five stages are not linear. You just bounce around. I know that I am right now. It is a smart idea to let people off the hook, but it’s even better to give yourself some slack. You must take care of your mental and physical health. Together, we’ll get there. April 24, 2020 There are 58.320 names on Washington’s Vietnam Memorial Wall. The Wall spans a period from 1957 to 1975. It was originally constructed in 1959, but the Wall has been updated with a name for someone who died due to injuries sustained in 1957. This number was only a number that I couldn’t understand until I visited it for the first time in 1991. I silently walked along the path, looking at the names one by one. I felt my heart sink as I saw the names listed one after another. You’d then see the tributes left by loved ones and friends who were grieving. Each name represented a lost life. After I was done walking through the memorial, my perception about the number 58320 was forever changed. We have now passed 50,000 COVID-19-related deaths since February. This number keeps rising each day. Soon, that number will exceed the number of Vietnam heroes lost. It is important to remember that 50,000 does not just represent a number. It is the number of people’s grandparents, parents, friends, children and lovers. Each person represents a loss of life and deep grief. All who are in pain, suffering, or healing need to pray for God’s guidance. Lord, be with all of us. April 20, 2020 If you were to see him, you would know him. Many people have asked him to sign autographs and stopped him at the shop. Greg Goldman joked, “I take it as a grain of salt — both the good and bad,” as he spoke about his newfound fame. Goldman is the one you’ll see signing during Gov. Tate Reeves holds a daily press conference. His name is undoubtedly the most popular in the state on social media. Goldman was first seen in person at Haley Barbour’s post-Katrina press conference. This was the first Mississippi official to have an interpreter. He has been driving the roads and byways of Mississippi since then to help the deaf or hard of hearing find the information they need. He is a contract employee who works for doctors, courts, and the governor in times of pandemic. Greg Goldman hails from Jackson. Goldman was born to a deaf mother and learned sign language from her mother as a child. “I had originally planned to become a diesel mechanic but I began volunteering helping the hearing impaired.” He was also a wide receiver. Later, his football skills would lead him to coach at the Mississippi School for the Deaf. There are approximately 10,000 to 20,000 hard-of-hearing Mississippians who are deaf or hard of hearing. While technology has made it easier for them to stay in touch, the invaluable service provided by Goldman is still very important. I asked him how he kept up to date with all the COVID-19 terminology. He explained that he uses abbreviations, CV19, and how he signs coronavirus, the sign for crown. “Numbers can be the most dangerous. He said that it was difficult to do math on-the-fly when trying to understand the flow of water down the Pearl River in the recent flooding. The signing only accounts for 10% of the information being conveyed. The other 90% is body language. Signing is an art form. Goldman is an artist. I asked him if the New York mayor’s interpreter had he seen (who is very similar to him). He said he had not, but he did explain the black shirt. It’s to contrast with me so that I can be easily seen. Many of us will wear dark clothes all the time, and people may think that I’m depressed or Goth.” I also inquired how others interested in becoming interpreters could follow his lead. “Get involved in the deaf community. Get to know people with hearing impairments. I would love to see Goldman again. He is truly one of the most genuine, down-to-earth people you will ever meet. He clearly sees this as more than just a job. It’s a passion. It shows. P.S. P.S. Goldman requested a signed copy this cartoon. He is on the left, getting zapped and bitten by an alien. April 9, 2020. I put on gloves and wore a mask to go out for “essential business”. It felt more like a Thursday than a Thursday. Nearby elementary school was still in operation, but there was no playground or buses. The children’s voices had stopped, and the birds began to chirp in their place. A few people took advantage of the lovely spring weather and walked on the nearby running track. The reason for all this was apparent to me when I listened on the car radio. The virus is looming. COVID-19 took the life of a minister, a close friend of mine. I created a cartoon last night to celebrate his life. This was a man who moved many people and lifted up whole communities, and yet, he died in isolation in a hospital. As Good Friday was approaching, I thought about him and then Jesus’ words from the cross: “My God! My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” I was headed to the post office to mail my cartoon. It will arrive at Easter. In our COVID-19 world, the post office has been slightly modified. One worker stood behind the plastic strips, which were similar to what you would see in a walk-in freezer. The customers were given six-foot intervals by strips of tape. There were three customers and one worker in the room. We all wore masks and gloves. One older gentleman walked out as I entered, but he didn’t have gloves or masks. I wish him luck). I opened the package without using my hands and threw the gloves in the trash. Then, I drove back to my car. I applied hand sanitizer to my hands and arms, then went back home. I took my shoes out of the garage and went into the bathroom to change my clothes and take a shower. I think, “OK, that’s ridiculous.” But then, part of my brain thinks about the minister who was around my age and died from exhaustion. These days, nothing is absurd. Although it is a bit crazy, it is not absurd. This virus does not come to play. I thought of the postal worker and how I appreciated her taking the risk to get to work. I walked past the grocery store, where workers take similar risks. I opened my computer to read Mississippi Today’s coverage. I was grateful for my coworkers who got us the information we needed to make informed decisions for our family. The virus has also made me more aware and compassionate about those around me. Despite the fact that the virus has caused so much destruction to our lives, this is one good thing. Keep healthy. April 6, 2020. Sorry for the lack of blogs. As many of you, my day is filled with work, helping my kids with school, and feeling a little like a rat in a cage, trying to adjust to this new normal. The other day I thought, “Where will you go first? I’m able to move about.” Hmmmm… I think of going to visit family. Maybe a trip to Smokies. I miss going to church and eating out. It would be great to see a live concert. We’ll have to continue flattening the curve, and keeping our bodies healthy. Here are some places you mentioned you would like to visit: Did you miss my previous art lesson? You can find it here. Don’t forget to take more lessons every Friday at 12 noon. March 31, 2020 – First, I want to wish Jennifer a happy Birthday! Why? It has nothing to do COVID-19. I just wanted one minute of normalcy. Happy birthday Jennifer. Sing that 20 seconds while you wash your hands. Now, go back to your regular program. Yesterday I had a priest, a restaurateur, and a musician on the radio show. Yes, it’s a joke. It’s just that I am missing a bar. There was a common thread that ran through all three of them. Let me explain. The Rt. Rev. Rev. Brian Seage, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi was my first guest. We discussed the problems churches are facing now that congregations cannot congregate, particularly as we approach Holy Week. If you think they should, this is the article for you. He also spoke about all the creative and innovative uses of social media. We talked about the mental challenges Mississippians face and compared them with the Katrina-related ones. He said something to me that was profound. He reminded us now is the right time to give until you hurt. Jeff Good believes that giving until it hurts is a key part of his business model. Jeff, a self-described hyperactive man, spoke about the economic challenges facing his restaurant and the innovative ways he’s trying to generate revenue and help his furloughed workers. Jeff’s plan included giving back to the community. Brandon native Seth Power is an accomplished musician. Seth Power’s new album, Souvenir is an excellent record that was released with great excitement in January. Fine & Dandy also employs Seth as a server. His main sources of revenue, waiting tables and concerts, are currently on hold. Seth’s Facebook page is full of posts about helping others. Although I cannot give you a clear path to navigate the COVID-19 maze, there is one thing that runs through all three stories of my guests: Give. Give again. When you’re done, give more. You can catch my next lesson on Facebook Live at noon this Friday. Click here to find out more and join the event to be notified when it goes live. You can watch the first lesson from last week here if you missed it. March 30, 2020 There is nothing quite like an economic downturn and a global pandemic to make you reevaluate your life and the way you live it. I asked you to name one thing that you would change about your life if there was a pandemic. Here are some of the responses. Brant Sappington’s last answer really resonated with me. Jill Conner Browne’s version is the best. Jill Conner Browne I measure my pants. Heidi Hutchings Shoemake I have used the words “Thank You” since childhood. But, they are now less out of respect and more because of genuine, genuine appreciation. All “essential” workers need to understand that they are ESSENTIAL and APPRECIATED. Susan Gandy McNeill My retail choices will be more carefully considered. I will remember small businesses that protected their customers at the cost of sales and those who took care of their employees. While it’s easy to choose the quickest and easiest option with our dollars, I intend to look for businesses that do the right thing rather than the selfish. Pamela Leonard I have been working to retool my budget and emergency fund. I will do better at keeping a pantry with good staples. Call my parents more often. Lisa Moore: Count my blessings more and recognize what is most important in your life. Do not take anything for granted Butch Bailey 1. Hug all canines and humans I meet. 2. You should call your mom more often. 3. These disruptions can be dealt with in the future. Be prepared to respond and react. Cindy Long Spend more time with friends! Fiza Pirani Work less. Buy less. Live simple. Kelli Scrimpshire Bridewell I will never again laugh at my husband for being prepared in the event of a crisis. Christy Pender This has reminded me of the importance of making healthy choices. Your body should be strong enough to handle things like these, not just for your appearance. My outlook is what I want to change. Jennifer Wilson Hall I will be reading my Bible more and praying more. He lives in the city. Clayton Thornton Spend more quality time reading the Bible and trying to understand it better. Becca Pen I am throwing away my things because I don’t want my daughter and friends to have to sort it. Brooke Vance Maier Paper towel use. All the shops have run out of rolls so we only have one roll. This is making me aware of how dependent we are on them in a positive way. I currently have a drawer filled with kitchen towels. Debbie Waggener I will always have plenty of sanitizing wiles and be sure to use them regularly. Brant Sappington This is a time for reassessment. In my professional and personal life, I am discovering that just because I have done it one way, doesn’t necessarily mean it should be done the same way. This is what I believe has taught me to be more open and flexible to change. What will you do to change your life? Comment below to share your thoughts. March 26, 2020 – The latest national unemployment statistics have been released and they are absolutely staggering. Today’s story by Anna Wolfe reveals that they rose 600% in Mississippi, and would have been even higher but for the system being jammed up. People are suffering, and it is not YOU who are the problem. We are being affected by something that is not our fault. Our anxiety is increasing at an exponential rate, which I would guess is close to COVID-19’s exponential growth curve. It is important to take care of our own health. Stress can also be a killer. Drawing is for me a way of relaxing (except when I have an impossible deadline but I digress). This is why we created the coloring pages that can be found on Mississippi Today’s website. I am taking children (and adults) on a tour of Mississippi. While we may need to maintain social distance, it doesn’t mean that we have to be cartoon-distant. Start coloring! Allow yourself to take five minutes to relax. Give your children something they can do without a screen. Tomorrow I will do a Facebook Live Drawing Tutorial. Participate — I welcome your comments. I have come across some people who do similar things and will also highlight them. Before I leave, let me share a quote by Steve Jobs from Apple. Sometimes life is going to knock you over with a brick. Keep your faith. Also, color. Always color. March 24, 2020 I checked Facebook yesterday with some friends to check if they were okay. Over 100 people responded in less than an hour. People just wanted to talk. Some people were doing well — navigating this sea of strangeness and coping well. Others were anxious. They were actually scared. You might be scared if you read this. It’s okay to be scared during these times. These are moments that haven’t been seen for nearly 100 years. This is a marathon, not a sprint. It is vital to wash your hands and not touch your face, but you must also take care of your own health. Mental health is as important as physical. This morning I took a break from my computer and went outside. I just left my phone at home and went outside to breathe. Deep, deep breaths. In and out. I listened to the wind blowing through my pines and the birds. I focused my attention on the grass around me. A blue heron flew by and landed near me. That was it. I returned to work and then went back into my office. If I could, I’d work all day. To me, the best way to reduce stress in my opinion is to do something. It’s a Ramsey thing. This is not a long-term strategy. Yesterday I worked at 6 a.m., and stopped at 9 p.m. My family, who live in the same house, will soon get sick of me if I don’t stop. Second, I have already fallen ill twice this week. I don’t have to get sick again. From now on, I will be creating an “essential list”. I will rise early and stick to my list.
Make sure you check it out. I will make breaks to go outside and take in the fresh air. When I’m done, I will unplug. COVID-19 might get me. It may not. It might not. But, I won’t let the fear of it get me first. There is still much to be done. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going out to walk Pip. I need to breathe. And so do you. PBS has a great article about the mental effects of what you’re going through. It also gives some tips and tricks to keep in mind. These coloring sheets that I made are meant to help people of all ages, old and young, to take a break from the world…and to color. March 23, 2020 It had the caption “Darned If You Do, Darned If You Don’t.” This poster came to mind as I was reviewing the economic numbers and the spread of COVID-19. The closings that are meant to flatten and slow down the spread have had big economic impacts on small businesses. My friends have seen their lives so drastically changed. It is hard for them. It’s hard for all my friends who might become ill. They may not be able to find the ventilator they need. People refuse to give up. It is heartbreaking to see the scenes in Italy, where doctors refuse to treat people over 65. They couldn’t close down fast enough. The virus is now here. COVID-19 silently spreads throughout our community. The numbers are increasing exponentially now that testing has begun. It is possible to do our bit to help small-business friends — get takeout at restaurants that are still open, purchase gift cards, and continue shopping when we can. We can also help our medical friends by doing what we can. It is possible to stay at home. I’m wrong. COVID-19 does not spread. We spread COVID-19. If we can break the chain, we’ve helped to free up a place in a hospital. This is not only for our safety, but also for the benefit of others. It is possible to be calm and help each other. It is amazing how fast my life has changed. My wife is filming a lesson for our students while I write at the kitchen table. After I finish here, I will go to my car (a soundproof room) and do my radio show. Due to a chest infection, I was unable to leave my bedroom for more than a week. There wasn’t any testing so I don’t know if it was worse. My son, who has returned from college and is now working online, said that the afternoon walk felt like time spent in the prison yard. I now count toilet paper rolls as if I was worried about my 401K (which I have given up on). What has changed in your life? Comment below to let me know how your life has changed. I’ll publish some of your responses in my next blog. This is possible together. It will be harder. We must remain strong. Mississippi Today’s COVID-19 coverage can be found here. Everyone who’s still out there trying to keep the lights on and stay safe deserves our respect. Mississippi Cases so far: [Read all Marshall’s COVID-19 blog entries here. ]