Keep Two Thoughts

Personal essays

One Down - Essay from Newsletter 50

A literal shot in the arm

50 I listen to a lot of podcasts and they seem to celebrate milestones like episode 50, 100, or any multiple of one hundred.

What’s so special about these milestones?

In a way, it’s like a metric year. It’s too hard to think in multiples of fifty-two. Episode 500 is a few months shy of ten years for a weekly podcast - but it’s pretty close. You can do a tenth anniversary celebration as well if you like.

We need these milestones to mark achievements and to punctuate our progress.

It’s also a time to stop and assess.

This is newsletter number fifty for me which means I’m coming up to a year.

When I started I thought I’d try it for a year and see how it’s going.

Honestly, I’m not sure - but it’s been an activity I’ve engaged in throughout the pandemic. It’s been a time each week I’ve stopped down to record what’s on my mind on a Tuesday morning.

I thought about bringing it to a close on the anniversary of starting it, but have decided - at least for now - to continue and add a further experiment when we start year number two.

The Finish Line

When you’re in school, there are these clear, short-term goals.

There’s the school year.

Within the school year there’s the semester or trimester.

Within the marking period there are exams and paper due dates.

There are all of these finish lines to shoot for.

We don’t have that in this pandemic.

Even worse, imagine you enrolled for a course that doesn’t finish until 70% of the class achieves mastery.

If enough of your classmates decide not to study or participate, no matter what you do, you can’t successfully complete the class. You may benefit from what you have learned but you can’t control everything.

That’s the pandemic.

And yet I encounter people who won’t wear masks and won’t give others the space they need.

I read about large numbers of people who refuse to get vaccinated, despite the fact that the leaders they revere have gotten themselves vaccinated.

“We should be able to hug our family,” they say.

“Our kids should be back in school.”

“We should be able to go to a bar and enjoy a game with friends.”

You should do/could do all of that.

The advice has been the same. If we all do the things we need to do, this thing could be over in a few months.

But if enough of us decide not to participate along with the rest of the class, none of us will graduate.

No Finish Line

It’s hard to run a race with no finish line.

The pandemic is a race where we can determine a finish line by doing the right things or run forever if enough of us don’t.

Done right, a marriage is just the opposite.

There are little things along the way that punctuate our progress: births and birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. But it’s a race we run - and if we run it together and run it just as hard it’s a race with no finish line.

In a way, it’s the opposite of the pandemic. If one or both of you stop running for one reason or another, that particular race ends.

But it’s a race without a finish line – we just decide whether we’re done or not.

So many of the races we run are races without a finish line.

I think about my career. I keep running but most of my paying work has disappeared during the pandemic.

I go out each day and run to keep myself in shape until I figure out what my next race will be.

I try different events and see what feels good and who notices and wants to run alongside or host a meet.


So we’re at week fifty of my pandemic practice of shipping weekly newsletters.

Now what?

Well, I am newly vaccinated.

I got my first shot yesterday at the local Walgreens.

It wasn’t easy - the way you schedule vaccinations in Ohio is not well organized.

I decided to treat it like I was twenty trying to get tickets to see Springsteen.

Ohio added my age group to the list of those eligible this past Thursday. Walgreens allowed people to book appointments three days out.

I can count to three as well as the next person. So Tuesday morning I logged in to book an appointment when Walgreens released the Thursday appointments.


I got as far as the screen that said there were appointments available in my area.

Didn’t matter.

The app wouldn’t let me look for appointments because 60+ wasn’t included until Thursday.

But I’m booking for Thursday.


So Thursday morning I looked again.

Nothing available. The app said the information would be updated hourly.

I refreshed throughout the day. I woke in the middle of the night and refreshed again.

Friday morning around 7 I reached for my phone and refreshed again.

I squinted at the screen - hoping I was typing in the correct zip code and information without my glasses.

There were a ton of available appointments.

I quickly chose one near me.

By the time I tapped “Next” someone else had booked that appointment.

Start again.

After six attempts I booked the appointments.

In the scheme of things - not that big of a problem - but it could be, should be a lot easier.

I checked in and got my shot yesterday. It went smoothly.

What if enough other people don’t do that part and we never finish?

I can’t control that.

All I can do is do my part. I can get my shot and urge you to get yours.

In the mean time, I’ll continue to wear a pair of masks in public and do what I can to not make things worse even though soon I’ll have my second shot and not fear for my own safety.

I’ll keep running and encourage you to run along with me.

Essay from Dim Sum Thinking Newsletter 50. Read the rest of the Newsletter or subscribe

See also Dim Sum Thinking — Theme by @mattgraham — Subscribe with RSS