Ring of fire

I fell into a burnin’ ring of fire
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher,
And it burns, burns, burns,
The ring of fire, the ring of fire

(“Ring of Fire” – Johnny Cash – written by June Carter / Merle Kilgore)

So, yeah – the burnin’ ring of fire. It burns. The more you struggle and say you shouldn’t be there and have to get out, the lower you sink and the higher the flames. Anger and love are both valid emotions, but they have downsides.

Today I’m not so much angry as resigned. Resigned to life on life’s terms, as they say. Resigned to the fact that my meal deliveries for the past three weeks have been left on the first floor of the apartment building, even though I live on the 3rd floor. I finally called the meal delivery company to complain, and they called FedEx, who delivered the boxes. FedEx called me, and it took me 10 minutes to explain to the nice man why leaving the boxes on the first floor did not constitute delivery to me. He could not seem to understand why that was a problem and said there are no apartment numbers on the doors. No, I corrected, the apartment number is the number on the door, and that corresponds to the actual mailing address.

So, leaving a package outside a door marked xx18 is a residence that is not mine – mine is marked xx38. See? 18 is on the first floor, 28 is on the second floor, and 38 – that would be me – is on the third floor. On the fourth try, he finally got it, and I was elated. But then he lost it…wondering where the package was, and where the driver should go to retrieve it. I have it, I said (which is how I started the conversation). I just want to make sure that any subsequent deliveries are hauled up to the third floor. *crickets* Oh…so I don’t need to send a driver now, just need to make sure this doesn’t happen again? Is that what you’re saying? Yes, sir. That is exactly what I’m saying.

Good lord. Communication is a dying art. I was almost ready to fax him a picture of the apartment building. It just shouldn’t be THIS hard to understand such a thing.

After dealing with FedEx, I had to call my health care provider because I need them to release copies of my own radiologic images from the past few years. They are mine, and I have every right to request them. As far as I am concerned, they should be easily accessible to me on my private login to their patient portal, but no…HIPAA. So they say. I have been trying to get these images released for two solid months, after stupidly following their instructions and getting no response I finally called repeatedly and got a nice man on Friday who said he would personally handle my request (although I heard this from another lady who did absolutely nothing). I sent him the scanned request form. Despite asking him to call me back to confirm that he had received it and that it was all he needed to give me the records, I heard nothing from him. I called again this morning and got another nice lady who went and found the previous guy, and he said he’s put the request into “the system”. The nice lady had first said that I wasn’t in “the system” but now it was confirmed that I am, in fact, in “the system”. Yay, me. Then I asked how long it would take to actually GET the images, and she said a month. No, no – and no. I have been trying to get this for 2 months, so this needs to be expedited. I understand, she cooed. I’m so sorry for any inconvenience, but it will take at least two days for your request to register in “the system”, and when it does we can expedite it.

Good lord. The system is self-aware and hoarding its resources to stay alive, ironically keeping the owners of the information it exists to protect from accessing their own property. Yeah. Privacy…which really does not exist, but we’ll keep pretending it does.

So one of the other more annoying thrusting me into the burning ring of fire realizing that the male of my species has some kind of incomprehensible need to be heard while behind the wheel of a motorized vehicle. Cars, trucks, motorcycles are required to be as noisy as possible, the more deafening the better. I’ve observed there’s a racial cut on this as well – white and LatinX dudes seem to be all about the cars. Black dudes seem to be all about the stereo. They might do the whole car dancing thing as well, but it’s all about the sub-woofers.

I get that it’s attention-seeking behavior. I like to be rolling’ with the windows down and the volume up myself, but I don’t cause the window panes to shake in nearby residences. My bedroom windows face a beltway, with a speed limit of 50mph (like anybody adheres to that). Motorcycles and cars that have been modified to maximize the engine noise are constantly speeding up and down the roadway below my windows, and the noise is so intense they might as well be in the room with me.

If it’s not the noisy engines and drag racing, there are the car stereos. My window panes have rattled when someone with million-watt speakers and sub-woofers the size of a satellite dish drives by slowly. It’s amazing because to get that volume of sound you have to have spent a significant amount of cash.

I just don’t get it, but damn – there is such a thing as noise pollution, and I am right in the middle of it. I am getting to the point where I’d like to acquire stop strips and just roll them out there when I hear them coming from a mile away. There are a couple of spots where I could hide in the bushes and remain unseen while throwing out the strips at the last minute. It’s tempting. Either that or rain down a bucket of shrapnel on them as they pass by. I could rig up some kind of device that would shoot it out onto the roadway from my 3rd-floor palace.

So, we’ve gotten past the 9/11 anniversary, with proper solemnity and pause. New York, in particular, has no choice but to pause since they are still recovering from Hurricane Ida. Unbelievably, the death toll in NY/NJ was higher than in Louisiana. There’s something you don’t hear every day. But, 9/11 was relived, as it is every year, and I found it difficult to watch all of it. I broke away to watch cartoons, which seemed perfectly fitting. There is only so much I can take right through here.

Between 9/11 and the Afghanistan exit, things seemed a little dark these past few days. That’s why it felt very much like I was going down, down, down to the burning ring of fire. And it burns. I don’t need any help getting there, but I had a lot of assistance this time. Just feeling like why am I doing any of what I’m doing right now – trying to educate people about some justice issues going on right now (the state redistricting process is underway, on a compressed timeline so the new districts can be in place by the mid-term elections). People are lethargic about things like that right now. I don’t quite get that, either. Democracy is on the ropes right now and needs a hand up.

As forewarned months ago, this COVID crisis is nowhere near over. The Delta variant is wreaking havoc on infection rates, and the mask-resistant masses are helping. There was a church somewhere in the state that said they’ve sent letters to all of their members, telling them masks are NOT required to enter their services or events, and they are refusing to comply with any mandate that should be issued. What is up with these people? Some hospital staff has reported that people who are minutes away from death by COVID still refuse to believe they are dying of the coronavirus, and still believe that masking would have helped in any way. I repeat – what is up with these people? Another public figure who’s now been diagnosed with COVID said he’s taking the horse dewormer stuff, and that it’s going to cure him. I hope he’s got his affairs in order and good end-of-life instructions. I am not wishing death on him, but other people are listening to his advice and following it because he’s a public figure. That ain’t right.

The last random thought I’m having involves a conversation from this morning, with a group of rational people. We didn’t talk much about the vaccine or the virus. We were talking about justice issues and race and bias and the human brain. One guy brought up something I had not heard of – W.E.I.R.D. societies. W.E.I.R.D. is an acronym for Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, Democratic. Those cultural attributes inform thought processes and morality and values culturally and are normalized through generations. I find the concept fascinating and want to investigate it more deeply. From what I’ve read so far, we’re pretty damned WEIRD and our WEIRDness radiates from us. What I’m more interested in, though, is why the norms aren’t challenged more – is it about the money? Is it about the education? Is it about the industrialization? I don’t know, and that’s been a long-standing question of mine – how does a numeric minority wind up with the majority of the power?

So now I will lay me down to sleep. I’m not praying for anybody to keep my soul – I think it’s just fine right here. Until it’s not. When it wants to do something else, that will be another conversation and probably time to do something entirely different. I’m not sure that can be planned, either. In fact, I’m not sure it’s even a conscious decision. The business of souls is well above my pay grade. I just do the legwork. The soul does its own thing.

Sometimes there’s so much noise that I can’t hear quiet when it happens.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

One thought on “Ring of fire

  1. In regards how people are, I’m starting to think its because we all hide our hurts; change scares because we can’t pretend we’re ok then; power is great because we can focus on how others are less ok to make ourselves feel better.
    Anyway, just my searching/musing/confused thoughts.


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