Happy Spring!

I was doing pretty well during this time of isolation until it snowed 12 inches Sunday here in Boulder County.  The snow melted quickly, and by Wednesday afternoon most of it was gone.  Then Thursday it snowed another 12 inches, 24 inches in five days.  Boulder has had 151 inches of snow this season, breaking the all-time record for snowiest winter.

I spend most of my days writing my book.  The first draft is due to my editor in two weeks.  I’m getting close.  I’ve saved the most difficult chapters for last, because that’s what you do.  But I can’t write all day.  In fact, if I’m lucky, I can write five or six hours a day before my brain turns to mush.

I used to surf the New York Times and Washington Post during my breaks from writing, but I only let myself do that once a day now.  More than that is too much.  My first and third TED talks have been doing well of late, so in-between writing sessions, I sometimes check their views.  I know.  It’s pretty pathetic.  “Hey, I wonder how many people have looked at my red sweater and blue scarf and thought to themselves, ‘Really, she wore that in front of thousands of people.’”  I mean, what else am I supposed to do?  I live alone and there’s 12 inches of snow on the ground and it’s 26 degrees outside.  The highlight of my day is catching up on this season’s This Is Us episodes, which I do every night at 10:00, when what I want is a good cry.  It always delivers.  I’m spreading the episodes out.  I only have three left.

The newer TEDx talk is up to 175,000 views, which is nice, but it’s slowing down.  The first talk is inching close to three million views, though it is also slowing down.  It may be a few more weeks before it hits that milestone.  That’s a lot of views for a TEDx talk.  Views tend to rise and fall with the moods of the algorithm gods, but it feels pretty good to have both videos doing well.  That is, until I compare them with other videos.

The number one cat video on the Internet has had 174 million views, 58 times the number of views my first TED talk has had.  There is a great white shark with a GPS monitor on her fin who has over 130,000 Twitter followers.  Her name is Mary Lee.  I have like 12 Twitter followers.  Yeah, I think I’ll stop checking my TED talk counts.

I made a video today for Colby Martin’s new book Shift, about the difficult journey from condemning theology to generous theology.  I was excited.  It meant I could take a shower after riding my stationary bike in the basement.  Showers are when you get inside a glass box and water comes out in droplets all over your body.  It feels very good.  I used to take showers, in another life.  Then I put on make-up and sent a Marco Polo to my friend, who has been watching Marco Polo’s of me all week in which I am not wearing make-up.  I look like the “before” picture from a face cream ad.

Anyway, I put on light blue spring jumpsuit with a white spring sweater so I could make the video look like spring, even though the neighbor kids are sledding outside.  I’m going to keep it on all day because it’s spring, dammit.  So even though I have to get virtually naked every time I go the bathroom, I’m going to stay in the jumper.  Tomorrow I am going to wear stiff pants, the extremely tight ones you wear outside that are made of denim.  I am going to wear them just because I want to wear them.  Actually, I want to make sure they still fit because, you know, those M&Ms did arrive.

I want the snow to melt so I can go mountain biking.  But with the amount of snow we’ve had, the trail won’t open until, I dunno, August.  It’ll be way too muddy.  If I have to ride my stationary bike in the basement one more day, I might start screaming.  But that’ll be fine, because there is no one around to hear.  If a woman screams in her basement and no one is around to hear, does the scream make a sound?

Right now I can see three golden eagles outside my office window, circling high over the ridge just south of me.  They are riding the thermals up, then circling slowly down until they catch the next updraft.  The eagles came to remind me that there is nothing new under the sun, and this too shall pass.

Hang in there, friends.  Try on the stiff pants once every couple of weeks, check in on your neighbors, call the people who live alone, and trust in the hope of spring.

And so it goes.

I Think It’s Thursday

I think it’s Thursday.  I put the garbage out and a couple of other neighbors put their garbage out at the same time, and we all looked like we hadn’t been out of sweats or leggings in a week.  My hair looked worse than everybody else.  My hair always looks worse than everybody else.  Sigh.

Then I came back in and sprayed my homemade hand sanitizer on a paper towel to see if the stuff I put in the bottle last night to mask the smell of the alcohol had worked.  It hadn’t.  But at least now I’m ready to head to the corner store, even though after I get home, my steering wheel, door handles, and hands will smell like rubbing alcohol masked with a little bit of Poo Pourri spray.  I mean, what are you gonna do?

I keep trying to work on my book, but I get distracted by the news headlines on the Internet screaming that I am going to die, or I am going to be penniless because my retirement accounts are down to zero.  Then there’s the ad that keeps popping up on Safari that says, “If you snap your jaw like this every morning, it will remove sagging skin.”  And I think, “Why, exactly, am I getting this ad?  I really don’t care whether or not my skin is sagging.  We’re in the middle of a pandemic, people!  Sagging skin is not my first concern.  It’s no higher than, I dunno, four or five on the list, right after when those M&Ms I ordered from Amazon are going to arrive.

In my endless surfing I have noticed my two TEDxMileHigh talks are popular again on the Internet.  The first one has close to 2.9 million views.  I get message requests every day on Facebook from people who took the time to look me up and say nice things about the talk.  Apparently, it is the kind of feel-good talk people like to see in these times.  It’s had 10,000 views in the last 24 hours.  My newer talk, on the other hand, is up to about 155,000 views, though it is only getting about 3,000 views a day.  While the thumbs up/down ratio for the first talk is about 8 to 1, on the second talk it is 4 to 1.  The newer talk is not as popular as the old, but it is getting three times the comments.  The newer one is not a feel-good talk.  I’d see what’s going on with the comments, except, you know, you don’t ever read comments.

I’ve done three live video conferences in the last week, one with TEDxCincinnati, one with a church in Minneapolis, and one at Left Hand Church.  We did that last one live and in the flesh at a church that allowed us to use their building, where it was guaranteed we could stay six feet apart.  That one has had 4,000 views in five days, which is kinda interesting, since we are a church of 100 people.  You can find it on Facebook by looking up Left Hand Church.  I’m doing another church service this Sunday, and I’ll be preaching at Left Hand again on April 18.  I am grateful to be found useful at times like these.

I’m hearing from a lot of folks who have Zoom fatigue.  They are realizing video conferencing is hard work.  You do not have the full-body three-dimensional views to which you are accustomed.  You cannot read the room, or check body language.  All of your discernment has to be two-dimensional.  And that is hard work, trying to figure out all the dynamics of the meeting.  Then there is always that person who doesn’t mute, even though the host says, “It’d be great if you all could mute yourselves.”  I just want the host to say, “Hey Ralph, you idiot, you’re the one who is not on mute.  We don’t want to hear your dog bark at the mailman.  Get with the program!” But the hosts are always too nice, so we all suffer Ralph’s dog.

I “see” pastoral counseling clients via video.  It is not ideal, but we make it work.  Maybe I should send my clients a picture of the office, so they feel more like they are sitting on the comfy couch, looking out the window at the mountains.  I miss seeing clients in the office.  Since I have been speaking so much, I have kept my pastoral counseling practice small.  While we are all stuck at home, I think I am going to open it up to allow a few new clients.  I enjoy helping people remove the obstacles to finding their own answers.  If you can get to a person’s core, he or she pretty much always knows what to do.  The problem is removing the obstacles that prohibit them from getting to their core.

Oops, speaking of clients, it’s time to go.  My prayers are with you all.