August 21, 2020 – Written by Natasha Juliana and Edited by Linda Jay

What the HELL is going on!? I’ve lived 48 years with the world being a certain way:

  1. Presidents acted presidential, or at least tried to be good leaders, especially in times of crisis.
  2. There was at least some sense of patriotism that bound all Americans together, especially in times of crisis.
  3. Hugging and laughing and singing and sharing food with friends were all good, life-affirming actions.
  4. Kids went to school and were encouraged to spend less time on devices and more time playing with each other.
  5. Large-scale wildfires were the exception, not the rule.
  6. The temperature rarely passed 100 degrees.
  7. The power grid was considered reliable and safe.
  8. The streets of downtown Petaluma were lined with locally-owned shops and restaurants.
  9. I was an optimist.

It’s currently 6:00 AM. The sun is rising, casting an orange glow behind the silhouette of hills and trees to the east. It’s beautiful, and peaceful, and my family is safe at home with me. There is no immediate threat. And yet I can feel an underlying hum coursing through my body, warning of danger, urging me to stay vigilant, don’t sleep.

I’ll tell you what’s going on:

We have a President who is a complete failure in leadership; who has spent four years dividing Americans; who has managed to turn something as simple as wearing a cloth mask during a GLOBAL FREAKIN’ PANDEMIC into a partisan act. Seriously!?! Now store clerks are being shot by disgruntled customers because asking them to wear a mask to PROTECT AMERICAN LIVES is unpatriotic?! Are you kidding me? And now said “leader” is openly sabotaging the US POSTAL SERVICE so that people can’t vote by mail DURING A GLOBAL FREAKIN’ PANDEMIC! What kind of America is this!? I’m MAD.

We are in the midst of a world health crisis unlike anything seen in a century. Which means we have no frame of reference, our parents have no advice to give, and every decision needs to be made without the wisdom of past experience to guide it. Deciding to go to school, hug your mom, cook for friends, sing in church – these are all now BIG decisions with potentially deadly consequences. Say what?! I’m SCARED.

And, oh yeah, there is that little bugger called CLIMATE CHANGE that doesn’t pause for pandemics and unfit leaders. PHYSICS DOESN’T NEGOTIATE. Five years ago, we did not expect mass evacuations and preemptive power outages EVERY YEAR. But, after three major fire years in a row, we were all bracing for this year’s fires, searching for any hint of smoke in the air and awaiting that next NIXLE alert. So, when we were hit by a VERY unusual lightning storm over the last few days, it felt like summer in Maine, but without the relaxation, because we know what happens when lightning hits land that hasn’t seen rain in many months. Now California is on FIRE and our heroic first responders are working 72 HOUR SHIFTS! And the rest of the country is no better off. Death Valley just hit 130 degrees (the HIGHEST TEMPERATURE EVER RECORDED ON EARTH!). Iowa just lost over 10 MILLION acres of cropland to a derecho – I’d never even heard of this kind of storm. And the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has been labeled “extremely active,” because the oceans have gotten so warm, because we humans JUST CAN’T GET IT TOGETHER TO SAVE OURSELVES from ourselves. If we can’t even agree to wear a simple mask, how are we ever going to work together to solve a problem as complex as global warming? If we can’t unify as a country when faced with a national crisis like COVID-19, how will we unify to make the major changes necessary for human survival. I’m LOSING HOPE.

What happened to optimistic Natasha? Part of my problem is that I’ve become addicted to “news.” I feel like I “need” to pay attention because I crave more information, hoping it will help me make decisions about how to run my business and how to keep my family safe. But it’s a slippery slope and the human brain wasn’t built to process the woes of the entire world. IT’S TOO MUCH!

So PLEASE, tell me to stop obsessively checking Twitter to find the latest fire report, even when the fire is not threatening Petaluma. Encourage me to tune out the crazy rants of our current President and tune into the decent, hopeful, intelligent words of Joe and Kamala, because we can build a future that is kind, thoughtful, and united. Tell me that no matter how long this pandemic lasts, and no matter what becomes of coWORKing, our community will survive and thrive because our relationships transcend the material world. Remind me that right here, right now, in this present moment, I can choose to focus on what is instead of what might be. And what is at my kitchen table right now includes a smiling kid adjusting quickly to Zoom school, a warm cup of Darjeeling tea, clean enough air to have the windows open, and the knowledge that I have friends and family I can count on if the going gets tough.

Thank you for being my community and helping me find ground in times of chaos. May we all tend and befriend each other through these challenging times.

Full disclosure: I first wrote this blog a few days ago and am just now in a headspace to end on a hopeful note. I also went back and forth with how much swearing I should use – replace all above swear words with FUCK and you’ll hear my original, unedited voice. 😉