Keep Two Thoughts

Personal essays

Connection - Essay from Newsletter 101

Enjoying a simple day

Clean sheets

Saturday was a pretty good day.

I started out watching France beat Scotland in this year’s Six Nations Rugby tournament while I had my morning coffee and caught up on my email.

I spent the afternoon squashing a couple of bugs in my music app and put a load of laundry in the washing machine.

While my sheets and pillow cases were being washed and rinsed, I did the things you need to do to upload and send an app to my testers. They had great feedback during round one and I was sure there’d be a new round of suggestions and corrections.

I transferred the laundry to the drier, and headed out to shovel the snow off of the driveway and walk - again.

I took a quick shower, made and ate dinner, and then took the sheets out of the drier and made my bed.

A little writing and a little tv watching later I went up to bed and climbed between the clean sheets and listened to some podcasts to catch up on the latest news from Ukraine.

“Daniel,” you say, “that sounds like a pretty ordinary day. Why would you bother writing about it?”

Well, I’ll get to that in a minute.

But although your Saturday night was no doubt more interesting, I still love the smell and feel of getting into bed between freshly washed sheets.

It takes me back to when I was a kid.

That feeling of laying in bed with the lights out, listening to the radio, snuggled down between clean sheets still with that just out of the drier smell.


It was one of the few things I liked about spending so many nights in hotel rooms. At least the first night meant that I’d be sleeping on clean sheets.

In fact, I’d often be arriving at the hotel first thing in the morning after being up all night on a red-eye. As soon as they could let me into the room I’d take a shower and take a nap. Something about fresh sheets that lured me to sleep quickly.

One thing I loved about traveling even more than the sheets in the hotel were the people I’d meet.

About four years ago I met a woman at a conference in Ireland. She asked “how are you” in a way that was more than a greeting.

I’m done fighting the fight about how americans answer the question, “how are you”.

I’ve decided it’s ok to answer cavalierly if it’s asked at the start of a conversation. At the start, someone expects you to reply, “fine, how are you?”

But if they ask further in - and they look at you intently like they really want to know how you are, I try to answer.

And so when she asked, I answered. And when later I asked back, she answered.

We met again for coffee at another conference a few months after that. She had brought candy from Ukraine, where she was from, for me to share with Maggie.

She asked me how I was and I told her. I asked her how she was and she told me.

She wasn’t doing great.

Her husband was in the Ukraine army defending their country against Russians. He was there, she was here this week for work, and their daughter was at home without either parent.

She was worried for her husband, her daughter, and her country.

This was four years ago and, I’m ashamed to say, the first time I’d really thought about Ukraine.

I know a guy

Nine years ago Rob Portman became the only sitting republican senator to support marriage equality.

There were rumors that this stand may have cost him the spot on Mitt Romney’s presidential ticket as the candidate for vice president.

People called it brave.

Portman said in an interview with CNN (reported in the New Yorker), “I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I’ve had for over twenty-six years.”


The word “personally” is generally superfluous. What Portman was alluding to, however, is that his son is gay.

His son is gay so he, personally, supports his son’s right to get married to whomever he loves.

Why do we have to have a personal connection before we can do the right thing.

And, as the Pod Save America people have asked, why, when Portman realizes he was wrong about gay marriage does he not then sit and wonder what else he was wrong about and address those too?

Some forget that the first impeachment of President Trump was around issues to do with Ukraine. Trump was withholding promised military aid for Ukraine to pressure them into digging up or manufacturing dirt on President Biden’s son.

Today Portman is condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Four years ago he was carrying Trump’s water as we found out about what had gone on.

Four years ago I listened to my friend talk about her husband defending their country against Russians while my country was holding up funds for her country.

No degrees

So I ask myself, “What is the number of degrees between you and someone effected before you care about an issue?”

There are stories about COVID deniers who wouldn’t believe that COVID was real until they or a loved one caught it.

There are stories about people who didn’t believe it even then.

People on ventilators so filled with, with, with I don’t know what. It’s not hate. It’s not fear. It might be indignation? I don’t know what it is. But they’re so filled with it that even in those moments they don’t believe the thing they’re dying from is the thing they’re dying from.

Since I wrote my last newsletter a week ago, the US has averaged 1673 deaths from COVID each day.

We see that as such good news that we’re removing mask mandates.

So why did I start this essay with such an ordinary story about an ordinary day?

Because sometimes we forget how extraordinary it is to be able to have such an ordinary day.

I know you hate the word “privilege” but what a privilege it is for me to cap a day by getting into a bed with fresh sheets.

In a world where one country is invading another. In a country where 1500 people died of a virus.

I reached over and turned out the lights, snuggled into the sheets, and went to sleep.

Essay from Dim Sum Thinking Newsletter 101. Read the rest of the Newsletter or subscribe

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