The Redundancy of the Horror Genre

I’m in the middle of reading a horror story, and it struck me that the whole horror genre has been made redundant by the insanity of this year. The Bob, dehumanizing masks, the reorganization of businesses and schools, double hurricanes, riots, wildfires, defunding the police. How insane would an author have to be to come up with such a mélange? But there was no author writing the story of the past few months.

A quote from Dean Koontz, who is talking about fairy tales: “Instead of stealing the queen’s newborn daughter, Rumpelstiltskin was foiled, and in his rage, tore himself apart. In real life during the last decade of the twentieth century, Rumpelstiltskin would probably get the queen’s daughter. He would no doubt addict her to heroin, turn her out as a prostitute, confiscate her earnings, beat her for pleasure, hack her to pieces, and escape justice by claiming that society’s intolerance for bad-tempered, evil-minded trolls had driven him temporarily insane.”

Now we come to the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century, and the difference is that people want to defund the police so that . . . what? Rumpelstiltskin won’t even be arrested? They’ll send a social worker to talk to him to see if he’ll release the poor girl? Maybe try to educate him away from his vileness? Let the poor girl continue to suffer while they pamper the co-called victim of intolerance?

Of all the insanities of this year, the vast criminality that is going along with the defund the police movement seems to show that we are in no shape to ease up on restrictions. (And yes, when there are billions of dollars of damage done plus many millions of dollars of merchandise looted plus lives lost plus untold injuries, the perpetrators have gone way beyond protesting to committing crimes.) Although there might need to be some sort of change (if nothing else, to take the cops with a bias off the streets) it seems that the defund the police movement favors the wrongdoers more than the victims.

If they don’t disband the police departments entirely, but instead divide the funds among various quality-of-life programs, how is that going to work? The various groups fight among themselves in a sort of bureaucratic triage to see who answers the call while the poor victim is left helpless? If someone is being mugged by a person high on drugs, do they send a cop for the victim or a counselor for the perpetrator?

It seems that defunding the police should come in a time of self-discipline and responsibility rather than a period of license and licentiousness.

But I could be wrong.

I live in a town that is trying to reestablish their police force, which could be a good thing since the local cops would ideally be more cognizant of the problems in town than the county sheriffs would be. Still, from what little contact I’ve had with the sheriff’s department, they seem to know the usual suspects quite well.

All I know is that I don’t commit crimes. I don’t disrespect the police even if they don’t respect me. (Which has happened.) Unfortunately, not everyone is like me or the people I know. If they were, then there wouldn’t be any issue of defunding the police because there wouldn’t be any police because there wouldn’t be any crime or drugs or abuse. There wouldn’t be any talk of man-made viruses escaping from laboratories because people like us don’t create such monsters. Nor would there be riots or burning or looting or killing or maiming.

And the horror genre could go back to being horrific in comparison.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

The World Outside my Fence

I walked to a nearby store today to pick up a few items. What used to be a short walk (a half-mile round trip) turned out to be a far piece since my knee is still not in top shape, but I did walk. Yay!

I even saw a couple of friends who were also running errands, which is another yay, but they told me of a new law in Colorado — that everyone above the age of ten or those who were medically exempt had to wear masks in public, and I’d forgotten mine. Oops.

I have a surgical mask on a ribbon that I generally wear around my neck until it’s time to go into a store. Because of allergies, I can’t wear one for very long otherwise my sinuses protest and I start gasping for breath. Lately, though, I haven’t bothered, and apparently, there’s been a twenty-five percent increase in local cases of the Bob, from 4 to 5.

That’s one thing my friends and I marveled at — that the local economy was destroyed for a mere five cases of the Bob. That’s it. Five cases.

Well, if it makes the power-wielding folks happy, I’ll wear a mask when I’m around others, though there is no way I can have been infected by The Bob. And yeah, I know — people can be contagious without knowing it, but I’ve pretty much only seen one person the past couple of weeks (the garage-builder), and from what I can gather, he doesn’t see many people, either. The chances of one of us near-hermits coming in contact with the one person who recently became infected with The Bob seems minuscule. Still, being the quintessential “good girl,” I’ll do what I’m told. So, a mask it is.

The interesting thing to me is that if I hadn’t come across my friends this morning, I still wouldn’t know about the new law. There is a rather pathetic newspaper, but it comes out only once a week, so the only place I’d been able to keep current about local affairs was a town news group on Facebook. Which means, as long as my Facebook boycott lasts, I will have to continue relying on chance encounters to find out what’s going on. (Some people are trying to get a more focused newspaper going, and they asked me if I wanted to be a part of it, but I have a hard enough time writing just for me. And besides, the isolation due to The Bob has regressed me to my default mode and killed any desire to make the effort to be around people.)

To be honest, I don’t care — can’t care — what’s going on in the world outside my fence since I have no control over any of it. (Now that I think about it, I don’t even have any control of what’s going on inside my fence. The feral cats have staked out my bare earth spots as their latrines. Weeds take over when I’m not looking. Friendly plants grow or not according to their own whim.)

I sometimes wonder if we’d all be better off not knowing anything beyond our immediate environs. Does knowing make anyone happy? Does not knowing make anyone feel more isolated?

Maybe I’m just making excuses for my own predilections. Still, next time I want to know what’s happening beyond my property, I’ll go for a walk, and if I need to know what’s going on, I’m sure someone will tell me.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Happy Hamburger Day

National Hamburger Day isn’t until tomorrow, though some sites I Googled suggested that it was yesterday, so today appears to be a suitable time to celebrate.

I wouldn’t even have known about this holiday except that I was gifted with some ground beef. At first it seemed like an odd gift, but The Bob has changed things so that valuable gift items are not trinkets and electronics but toilet paper and tissues and bleach, all of which had been sent to me, all of which were welcome gifts. And to that list, now is added hamburger.

It was only a chance remark from the giver who said “Happy Hamburger Day” in response to my thanks that made me check to see if there was such a day. I thought the remark was simply a made-up excuse to send me a valuable present. (Admittedly, vegans and vegetarians might not agree about the value, but then, I am an omnivore.) And sure enough, there really is a hamburger day!

It’s interesting to me that only in this time of The Bob would such a present be feasible. It was delivered to my door from the local grocery store, and the only reason the store delivered is because they’re trying to keep us older folks at home as much as possible.

Even more interesting to me is that I’m forgetting there is a crisis out there. I am quite content immersing myself in the world of the Wheel of Time without the conflicting desires that so often pull at me — spending time with people or spending time alone. Going out and doing something or staying home with a book. Being sociable and getting together to play a game or indulging myself and not playing. Trying to find meaning in my new post-Jeff, post-grief, post-move life or accepting whatever meaning there is in simply being me.

I am aware of the crisis to the extent that on the rare occasions when I do go into a store, I wear a mask out of courtesy, but not to the point of contemplating its purpose. And horrors! I do hug people — on purpose — though I let them initiate the contact. Well, except once when it was my decision. I saw a good friend at the store the other day. We stopped six feet away. “We can’t touch,” she said. “I don’t care,” I said. She laughed and then we rushed toward each other. And oh, did that feel good! Odd to think that such a simple human act borders on the seditious, but to be honest, being rebellious in such a way felt good, too.

I must admit that beyond those few brief occasions of welcome touches, I love the distancing that keeps people from crowding me in stores. I don’t like being squished between people in line at the best of times, so I hope the stores will keep the six-foot markers long after this crisis has been forgotten by everyone, not just me.

I am getting far from the point of this article which is . . . hmm. I don’t remember. Hamburger day? Gifts? The benefits of The Bob? Maybe there isn’t a point except a reminder to enjoy the day. With or without a hamburger.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Broken World

The garage door and opener were supposed to be delivered today so the construction guys could come do some more work on my garage, but the lumberyard now says they can’t deliver the door until next week. Apparently, they don’t have a driver due to The Bob. It’s just as well – it’s cloudy and cold with a good chance of rain, though I doubt the rain aspect of today’s weather — there has been so little moisture the last several months and the ground is so desiccated that I think the rain gods have forgotten how to find us.

Still, the wind is picking up, so who knows . . . Of course, if the forecast is at all correct, by the time the door gets here, we’ll be back up in the 90s, and that’s not good weather for building either!

Oddly, I’m not that disappointed about the garage, but I am disappointed not to have the workers here. It would add a bit of excitement to my life and I wouldn’t feel quite so isolated. They might try to get the door here themselves later in the week, but if not, well, there is one thing to look forward to — a picnic at home. The director of the senior center will be visiting each of us for a few minutes this Saturday to check to see how we are doing and to drop off a picnic lunch. It will be good to see her, though maintaining social distancing requirements means no hug. Too bad — I’m feeling touch-starved. Even though all of us seniors won’t be in one place, we will be enjoying a meal together. Even better, it will be a meal I don’t have to fix!

A few friends have been gathering occasionally to play dominoes, and I’ve considered joining them, but I can’t wear a mask for that long, and anyway, although I would like seeing them, I don’t really enjoy playing. Next month, though, regardless of the state of The Bob and the whatever continued requirements there are for us seniors, the Art Guild will be meeting. It will be outside on someone’s patio so we don’t get too close to one another, but oh, such a treat!

Meantime, there is today. I’ve done my stint on the elliptical, am finished writing this blog post, can’t take a walk since I overdid it yesterday, don’t have any urgent yard work to do. I guess I’ll make a cup of tea and escape into The Wheel of Time where some people have the power to heal and some have the power to break the world.

I just realized — that’s what this whole Bob thing feels like: a broken world. Hopefully, by the time I finish reading the saga and that fictional world is put right, our real world will also be put right.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

A Single Death

Every day we are subjected to the current count of how many people have died from the disease du jour, and yet, what’s the point except to keep a tally? Does anyone really care? As of last night, 193 people have died in Colorado from The Bob, but people have died from other things, too. Don’t those deaths count? Even a single death diminishes us, so what difference does it make if one person died or a hundred or a thousand? It matters, of course, to the loved ones remaining behind, and perhaps even to the one who is gone, but why do the rest of us care about the number of people who have died of this disease? We certainly don’t care about the vast numbers of people who die from heart disease or cancer or traffic accidents. So why this? Why now?

Could it be that we are only concerned about ourselves and how close the disease is to us? Or do we simply care about the logistics? We are constantly being told about the lack of equipment (though a few experts think the very lack of respirators is keeping some people alive — there is evidence that the respirators in some cases are hastening the end of vulnerable patients). And we are constantly being warned about the necessity of “flattening the curve” to keep from overwhelming the system (even though some epidemiologists think we are merely prolonging the life of The Bob). So is that what we care about?

Unless we personally know someone who has the virus or have lost someone to the virus, or unless a celebrity has died, we don’t know enough to care about anyone who is suffering. (Though why anyone would care about a celebrity mystifies me, since the deaths of unknowns are tragic, too, but discussing that is too much of a digression even for this blog.)

So what difference does it make how many have died from this particular disease?

Yes, I know, it is tragic that people are dying, but people are dying from other things, and that is tragic, too. A friend recently lost her husband. Except for those of us who knew her (or her husband) no one in the world cares. But if we care about those who die from The Bob, shouldn’t we all care about him, too?

Another friend is going through chemo. That’s every bit as dangerous and life-threatening as the vulnerable folks who get The Bob, and a lot more dangerous than the less vulnerable, since most cases aren’t much worse than a bout of the flu. Chemo is certainly more dangerous than those who have the virus with no outward show of symptoms. So shouldn’t we all care about the woman going through chemo, too?

Why discriminate on the basis of disease? We can care about this disease but no other? So what do we really care about?

That this disease is spreading faster than other diseases at the moment? It’s still not worth the draconian measures being taken to stop the spread. And is it really spreading that rapidly? If so, why are not all the “essential” employees dying? Why aren’t the “essential” stores closing because all their employees are sick?

New studies show that the cities that are the hardest hit are the cities with Chinatowns and high Asian populations. If that’s true, instead of quarantining the rest of the country, why not simply quarantine those neighborhoods? Oh, but you can’t. It’s racist. So, to protect the sensibilities of one community, we have to impose harsh punishments on all of us. (That staying at home and sheltering in place and only shopping for necessities is not a hardship for me do not make such stringent measures any less harsh.)

I keep saying that the measures being taken to flatten that mythical curve (and it is a myth — a projection — and so far, most projections pertaining to this disease have been wrong) don’t affect me, but obviously, I am wrong. Being housebound is giving me way too much time to think! And I have an overactive “thinker” to begin with.

But still, someone has to think about these things. Someone has to care about those dying from diseases other than the disease of the day. Someone has to look beyond the numbers and see the tragedy in even a single death.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.


It seems weird that at a time like this, when everyone’s life is interrupted, mine goes on as before without any major changes. Or any change, actually. For various reasons, I’d already stopped most of the activities I’d been involved in, and I hadn’t yet decided what new activities to try, so I’d been staying home even before it was recommended we stay at home.

Although there have been no cases of “The Bob” here, this county seems to follow along what Denver is doing, and Denver has issued a stay-at-home order for its residents that will be enforced. They are allowed to go the grocery store (and, I presume, work in those stores if they have a job), visit doctors, and go out to exercise and that’s sort of what I’ve been doing. Except I don’t have a doctor here. And I haven’t been braving the grocery stores. (I didn’t stock up on anything but a bit of tuna, so I’m just nibbling my way through leftovers and what little I do have.)

I have been trying to walk a bit every day, and I’ve been looking at videos on knee exercises because I tweaked my knee while sleeping one night, and it hasn’t yet gone back to normal.

And I have been going to sit with a sick friend occasionally when her husband needs to be away. (Yep. Living dangerously!)

The library is closed, and the latest I heard was that all services were suspended, maybe even the quick exchange of books they’d once promised, but I do have emergency books — a stash of unread paperbacks and a Nook with books I would only read in an emergency.

One thing I have been doing differently is experimenting with something I’d once planned to do but never quite got around to doing— using a pee rag. It’s something I learned when preparing for a backpacking trip, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t work inside, too, especially since there is only me here (and especially since I haven’t seen a package of Charmin in the stores for weeks now).

Other than that, the only change in my life is:

That’s right! A daffodil!!

Such a sweetly ordinary thing to see.

Wishing us all the ordinariness we once took for granted.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.