January 1, 2022

Dateline: New Orleans, Louisiana

Happy New Year! Or maybe happy 2021 is continuing! Or maybe it’s ‘you didn’t know 2020 was going to be a trilogy’. I feel like we’re all trapped in stasis or a strange time loop what with Covid case numbers back up to what they were a year ago and beyond. As I’ve said previously, I really don’t know how to interpret the huge increase as the hospitalization/death rates are significantly trailing a year ago and it’s still not quite clear what that is or what that might represent. Changes in human behavior? Vaccine prevalence? Viral strain mutations? I just hope that 2022 brings a little more sanity to our politics when it comes to matters of public health, but I’m not going to spend a lot of time holding my breath.

The time off in New Orleans continues to go well. Yesterday began with jazz brunch at The Court of Two Sisters. Large buffet with a little big of everything along with a couple of mimosas. Fully sated and then some, we walked it off and decided to take a cemetery tour and pay our respects to Marie Laveau and her current neighbors. Then it was New Years Eve. For reasons known only to the Hilton Corporation, a flyer was shoved under our door asking us to consider participating in the taping of the Dick Clark’s Rockin New Years Eve, the Central Time Zone segment coming from NOLA with Billy Porter as host and entertainment. I suspect David’s mojo was the reason. This is the man who wandered into a Tonight Show taping and ended up singing a duet with Jimmy Fallon. Both of us being Billy Porter fans and not having much else scheduled, we decided to be extras as it would give us some free food and drink and give us a front row seat to the midnight fireworks. So we wandered the couple of blocks from the Hilton Riverside to the Louis Armstrong, a floating party barge tricked out to vaguely resemble a Mississippi paddle wheeler, and up to the open air top deck where we dutifully applauded and cheered on cue for five hours of promo spots and New Years Eve countdown. Then battling the thousands of others who came down to the river to watch the fireworks.

Today, we had breakfast at Brennan’s (no bananas foster, but the most gorgeous croque madame I’ve ever run across). We went up to the garden district to look over the mansions, and took a look at Audubon and City Parks. Then, after more cocktails (there’s a theme there – but it is New Orleans), we went to see the national tour of Hadestown which is here this week. Lovely show which I have wanted to see for some years. Excellent cast and production so get tickets if it comes your way. Now it’s feet up time with the hoots of victorious Baylor fans echoing in the streets waving green and yellow, while dejected Ole Miss fans in red and navy blue are walking dejectedly back to their hotel rooms.

I know how they feel. Both tribes. I’m not sure whether to celebrate 2021 or mourn it. I survived (as did all of you who are reading this). I can’t help but think we all deserve some sort of participation trophy at the very least. While 2020 gave me life experience and time for reflection, 2021 gave me a book inspired by all that. And 2022 may give me another one. 2021 also allowed me to sate my travel bug and kept me gainfully employed. At the same time, it brought us a political division in a realm of public health that is having very real consequences in morbidity and mortality and I can’t help but mourn that. I mourn all those we lost and with those left behind. Hundreds of thousands without parents, without spouses, without siblings, without that one friend that helps them hold life together. I mourn the damage done and yet to come to country and society when good politics trumps good policy. I mourn the emptiness of organized religions who put materialism and private benefit over the needs of community. I stand with the thousands of my health care colleagues whose abilities to cope are shot due to a system overburdened by the willfully ignorant.

Not much to do but one foot in front of the other, one day at a time, one keystroke after another, one piece of music on the stand.

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