Getting hired in a pandemic

jobtableauI’m getting fingerprinted today!

And photographed!

And background-checked!

I’m getting a job with the US Census Bureau!

I got conditionally hired just as COVID was ramping up in late March, just before isolating become a widely used gerund and a widely enforced official order.
Even as I got that initial call, and was answering the questions about having transportation and  willingness to work odd hours,  I was thinking, ‘Why are they asking me these things? I can’t possibly knock on doors and talk to people when everyone is scared and everyone who talks to anyone anywhere seems to fall ill and/or die.’fingerprint1

The census was, of course, postponed. Like everything else.

But last week I got an email, telling me the census bureau was up and rockin’. Or at least that I needed to hurry up and get my fingerprints taken.

That’s why today I’m off to an Office Depot where apparently they do such things. I have never seen anyone fingerprinted there, never heard anyone say, “I’d like these three reams of paper,  a new office chair, and a set of fingerprints, please.”

Fingerprints are just a part of the process, as the four pages of instructions reminded me. Lots of musts and do’s and don’t’s. Lots of potholes if you didn’t read the minutiae.


Like two forms of “current (not expired nor canceled)  ID.

No  problem, I thought, smugly. Yesterday. I figured passport and NYS driver’s license. Till this morning, when my husband pointed out my driver’s license expired on my birthday a couple of weeks ago.

“They’ll probably accept it,” he said of the now no


n-current license. “They’ll understand that you couldn’t renew it cause the Department of Motor Vehicles was shut down because of COVID.”

“Yeah, but it’s the government. They have their rules,” I answered, considering my license an undone deal and shifting gears to my birth certificate. Which, for some other official pre-employment gymnastics. I’d already gotten.

PI found that, and a marriage certificate. and hoped for the best.

I also wondered about the official Badge Photography for the job.

The instructions enumerated that I couldn’t wear glasses, or a hat or head covering, or headphones (“oh, no, I’ve had my headphones permanently grafted to my ears!”).

But most perplexing was: ‘Your full face must be visible and no items should obscure your hairline or cast shadows on your face.”

But … what about … The Mask? Of course, I didn’t want a Badge Photo of me wearing a mask — although that’s probably what I will look like the whole time I’m knocking on doors for this temporary gig.

Yet I’ve been trained to wear a mask in public.   It’s not fun, but I think it’s the right — the respectful, considerate, and safest  — thing to do.

Now I was being told not to wear it?

Well, happily, this morning I got the revised-for-COVID instructions, which told me to keep my mask on till it came time to take the photo.

Other COVID  precautions?

“Thoroughly wash with soap and water and dry your hands completely before your appointment,” which I will certainly do, since I have a sink and a wetbar in my car. “Avoid shaking hands or touching others after you wash your hands.” Damn, I wanted to touch all mtiltedprint2.jpgy friends at Office Depot….

And the government is apparently conducting  these pre-employment  screenings like my vet (she was first) and doctors organize F2F, 3D encounters: the no-wait waiting room. I  call from my car outside Office Depot, tell them I’m here, and wait to be invited in.

More enigmatic was: “Inform the fingerprint operator when you are ready for your appointment.” No phone number or special secret signal at the front door….

I think COVID has asked all of us to sharpen our intuition and to our thought-projecting skills.  Really, you can’t see a person’s whole face in person, or their body language. And ZOOMing, etc, takes away a lot of the vibe-feeling.

Anyway, I’m quite sure that COVID, combined with the mystical aspects of yoga that I’ve been learning lately, have prepared me to inform other people that I am ready for an appointment without any intermediary — i.e., a phone call, a text, a smoke signal.
“My prints are ready for their close-up!”

Well, it’s time to go. Wish me luck. I really could use an income.





It’s all good weather

8 a.m., our backyard.

People talk about the weather. But today nature gave us some weather we really should talk about. 

Here in the Hudson Valley, we woke up to snow on the ground (and the patio umbrellas and poor daffodils, which have a hard time keeping their heads up as it is).

It’s flippin’ mid-May, OK??

Then, as I’m taking photos to document the  situation, the sun breaks through the clouds. Streams through the trees, the melting starts to glisten.

I look up to the sky, hoping for a snow-bow.

It got sunny enough, and just warm enough  in fact, that by midday we roused the dog and told her she was going for a walk. She donned her harness,  I donned a winter coat  (it was sorta cold) and  sunglasses (it was really sunny).

Off we went. We heard birds. Looked at the stream. Belle trotted nonchalantly past the barking dogs doing crazy circles behind the invisible fence.

We turned a corner.

And the snowflakes began.   I thought at first they were just the little white petals falling off the trees right now.

But no. It was snow. Again.  Teeny, tight  balls of ice-snow.

Then came the wind.  It whistled. Trees creaked. I hunkered into my coat, doing that  huddle-into-a-ball thing that makes you fell cold just to think about. 

 Belle was oblivious. Her coat is thick and soft and various shades of  brown and black.  She was covered in the little snow balls. 

She looked like a furry salted  pretzel.

Belle’s fur salted in snow.

As we huddled back toward our house, the snowflakes got bigger and fluffier,  filling the air coming down like Christmas. It was beautiful.


We got inside. I couldn’t feel my hands. Belle looked annoyed when I tried to towel her dry.

What was it with the weather?

Once I could feel my ears again, I thought, wait, this is a gift. 

We got winter, and spring. We got dark, and light. We got big fluffy snowflakes and  new, green grass.

We got everything in just one day. Very efficient. Very dramatic. Very in-your face.

The Yin and the Yang.

You need  one to appreciate the other. Today, as  we look around us in isolation, Mother Nature gave us a nice big  whack in the face, just in case we hadn’t remembered that.

4 p.m.  walking home as fast as we could.                                                                                                                                                                                              PHOTOS BY PAUL WILDER





















Scientists gave us the flea bomb to get rid of the nasty pests in our homes.

They gave us the neutron bomb to get rid of the nasty people on our planet.

So how about scientists  put their efforts into something similar in this situation.

How about a FLU-TRON bomb.


Like “War of the Worlds,” sort of.  The earth was being taken over by an alien species, until  some bacteria finally emerged to kill all the aliens everywhere, People of the earth were saved! And that  wasn’t even on purpose.  Here, we could unleash something to kill the viruses and save us all.

Don’t say, “Yeah, but that was science fiction.” Raise you hand if this … situation … doesn’t feel like something straight out of  HG Wells’ mind.

So how about it?

We know, for example, that COVID doesn’t have a chance against a good washing with soap and water. How about a launching a mega hose or pump bottle into space and spraying earth down with a massive zap of Ivory? Just 20 seconds, BOOM, we can all go back to food-shopping.

christo copy
The artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin in 1995.

Or … or … We know that for some reason, COVID doesn’t do well in warm weather. We could maybe get Christo to  wrap the earth   for a day. You know, a tent-like art installation around the our poor old planet in something, maybe transparent, so we’d have like a greenhouse (just for a day!!) and would bring COVID to its horrible little knees.

Or maybe that’s kind risky….

I’m sure you can all come up with good ideas for a planet-wide attack.

Anyway, I’m hoping scientists are already working on this. We obviously have the technology, examples to work from, and (please God), the funding.

So fingers crossed that we’ll soon experience a shortage of Ivory.

Peace, and stay 6 feet apart.


Bad hair rising

Can we talk hair for a minute?

My hair. It’s … it’s … God, how can I describe it?

OK (she typed, closing her eyes for strength):  It’s Donald Trump color, in a Rod Stewart shag.

I know the phone’s in the way. I meant to do that.

I know.

I know.

Kill me now.

Stick hot pencils in my eyes.

I knew this would happen, I called it a couple of weeks ago, when I first saw it turning… orange.

Now it’s full-on.  I may have to resort to drastic measures. I have 3 boxes of some kind of Clairol product in my bathroom cabinet. And I will use them, yes I will. All the boxes, if necessary. Full metal jacket, tonsorially speaking.

And, of course, I have … scissors.

I’m sorry, Kristen at Color Me Krazy in Cornwall. You will have wreckage to deal with someday, hopefully soon. But desperate times call for desperate measures….






The Dr. makes zoom calls

Wasn’t sure I should go into what could be the eye of a hurricane — a Great Big Crystal Run Healthcare Facility — to see my asthma doc. After all, isn’t this where people with COVID go?

Anyway, they’ve set it up like my veterinarian did weeks ago: Sit in your car, they’ll come get you when it’s your turn. They’ll only take some kinds of payment (this is a  key part of your visit, the copay. And actually, I am happy to support these workers).

I decided telemed was the method. So I am zooming with my doctor, when he arrives at the Great Big Crystal Run Healthcare Facility today.

The nurse has already “come in” and done her knowledge-gathering in preparation for my audience with The Doctor. I dusted off my handy dandy CVS sphygmomanometer and took my own blood pressure (four times, till it was where I wanted it) and took my heart rate and when she called I supplied the data. She asked for my weight.  Ha ha. Ha.

Weird, but not as weird as the everything of right now.

Waiting for the zoom link from my doctor. Meantime, I should probably go brush my hair.

(I break for zooming)

Well, that worked. (Sadly, I’m good at zoom.)

My doctor said 40 mg of prednisone a day, which is keeping my breathing under control.  is too much, really. It could work against me in COVIDWORLD.

So I’m going to start this new drug, this once a month (I think) injection that costs just $5000 a pop. (the copay was $3000, but I got a scholarship).

Anyway, I’m going in tomorrow to get it. I’m wearing a mask. Ersatz Hazmat outfit — I’m sure there’s something in my closet, or garage. Maybe I’ll double-mask it.

I wanted them to give me the shot in my car but they said no.

An outing! I can’t wait.


Staying the cosmic course

I’ve been taking a nine month, 200-hour yoga teacher training course. Since, what was it, November?

 I didn’t want to be a teacher. I just wanted to dive into the yoga, I don’t want to say “dive deep” or any other buzz phras.  Because I want it to not be so easy.  I want to be mindful, put effort, into the words. 

 A dying art maybe.  But words, every word, word by word and bird by bird, every word counts. (Hey, there’s a reason I named my freelance company exactly that after I was shit-canned).

 I digress.  

I decided to take the plunge, spend the time (which I had) and the bucks (which I sort of didn’t) not really to immerse myself in the physical aspect, but to learn more about the spiritual, the philosophical, the ancientness of the yoga.

The class has been giving me so much more.

It’s  a long, intense weekend once a month. I love-hated it — scratch that, I adored it – from the start.  But didn’t think it would/could continue in these COVID times. Because it wasn’t just a matter of doing yoga, but of conn3ecting  with my fellow yogis it training, my teachers,  sweat and mind and soul — and just a glance across the  room at another person who understood.   

But Michelle (I’m going to start calling her Poohbah Michelle)  posted earlier this week that  we would meet, we would persevere, keep it virtually real.   And so, or course, we continue.

We’re ZOOM’ing  Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I will be passing along wisdom, as I know there will be plenty. 

 Stay tuned, and six feet apart.




Come Together

FullSizeRWhat’re you doing right now?

 I know you’re not busy – unless you’re an epidemiologist looking for a cure. Then stay at it,  give me your address, and we’ll all send you No-Doz.

The rest of you guys, join us for a global meditation for world peace at 5:30 today, Friday, day whatever of the isolationist movement.

It’s half an hour.   Nothing more important as putting your spiritual pedal to the metal for healing.

For world peace. (I  wish I didn’t keep thinking of the bumper sticker…)whirledpeas


Sign up, Stoke the fires. 

Connect via Zoom.



Finding the Lost Bayou Ramblers


Ramblers in the bayou. Photo by

Kalenda, the album that won Best Regional Roots Music Album at the 2018 Grammys, was the ninth release from a band that’s been around since 1999. Lost Bayou Ramblers were also Grammy nominees in 2007,  were featured in the soundtrack to “Beasts of the Southern Wild,”  and guest artists on their albums have included Scarlett Johannson and Dr. John.


I kinda hate that though I knew the name (and saw/loved “Beasts”), I only experienced LBR’s  actual music a few days ago. I have to thank Lafayette Travel, the region’s official tourism office, for the introduction.

So much music, so little time. I guess I knew that from my days (OK, decade) as music critic for The Arizona Daily Star;  I hate knowing it, though, and am grateful every time someone helps me discover another almost-lost-to-me musician or group.

Here is just a little window into their music.  It ends a bit abruptly (still figuring out fadeouts), but check it out.


Check out some additional tunes on their website. Oh, also, they’re playing at the Patchogue Theater on Long Island Feb. 16 and at National Sawdust in Brooklyn on Feb. 17 — plus numerous gigs in Louisiana, of course. You’ll find more on their site.