Stuff That Really Matters — or maybe not

Covid clusterEarly on, I worried about my fingernails. My fingernails, you see, tend to split perpendicularly, making the simplest tasks like folding socks or making beds a nightmare that leaves me with sometimes bloody fingertips. This affliction struck when I was in my 40s – which was a very long time ago. About 20 years ago (I’m in my 60s by then) my physician gave me her blessing to go get the fancy silk wrap manicure. I think she mainly wanted to get me off her back, having patients with somewhat more severe issues than splitting fingernails. Anyway, you can dig in the dirt with these fingernails. For the past 10+ years they have been gracefully administered by the lovely Little Yen at California Nails. Little Yen is so designated because there’s an older Yen at California Nails. Little Yen is a beautiful young woman whose eyes, when she smiles, which is frequently, crinkle into merry little upside down crescents with accent lines springing outward like fireworks. She has two beautiful children, Rachel and Randy, who are U.S, citizens as I hope Little Yen may soon be. And as a manicurist she is without peer. One springtime she painted little flowers on my nails, just for fun.Fingers There is not a day that I don’t worry about how Little Yen is surviving; I can’t find her to ask, or to help. A silk wrap manicure by Little Yen will last for three weeks, maybe longer – at some point the dig-in-the-dirt layer will grow itself out and my ridggedy, problem nails will be on their own. I am somewhere past that point just now.

But we are indeed at an interesting, maybe a tiny bit hopeful, point. Early on in the U.S. chapter of the Covid19 saga I heard a pundit optimistically punditize, “American innovation is going to be the thing that saves us.” Yeah, sure, I muttered. But it’s beginning to look like a wise observation, and perhaps a truth. People are whipping out masks & PPEs on their sewing machines, or making shields and who knows what else with 3-D printers, and creating ventilators from CPAP machines – while every lab in the country is racing to come up with therapies or, some day, a vaccine. One guy in San Francisco’s North Beach district even devised a way to hand out free coffee to his neighbors via a Halloween mechanical gorilla arm; his five-year-old son came up with the idea. Despite being essentially without a left brain, I study every new report of a new lab report like a maniac.

Most of us are a little jagged, because life everywhere was interrupted by the coronavirus. And who likes to be interrupted? My own life was interrupted midway through cataract surgery. I have one new, cataract-free left eye; the right eye was scheduled for Monday, March 16 – well, so much for that eye. Since March 16 I have been sheltering in place with one good eye, one foggy eye and a pair of glasses that have no idea what they’re supposed to be correcting for.

Hugging Charlie by Clover_1Something else has been more universally interrupted. When my late husband Bud turned 75 I threw him an OGTAB party, to which invitees were to bring a statement of One Good Thing About Bud written on a business card or similar note. Virtually nobody paid any attention to that size suggestion. I wound up with 8 by 10 framed declarations, posters, canvas paintings and one wind-up music box playing an original message. A lot of the OGTABs referred to martinis, but even more of them said Hugs. Bud was a 6’4” bear of a guy who never met anyone – especially a female anyone – whom he didn’t want to hug. Sometimes perfect strangers only newly introduced. Bud would make Joe Biden look like a cold fish. I don’t know about Biden-hug recipients (who are likely to be few and far between from here on out), but Bud-hug recipients simply knew they were huggable. Who doesn’t want to be huggable? This nation was built on hugs, for heaven’s sakes. Handshakes, at a minimum. When this is over may we please touch one another again?

Which brings this essay back to where it started. Some things matter, and others not so much. We can figure out ways to deal with home manicures – even home haircuts although I think I’m going with pigtails. We can pick up lives where they were interrupted, and most of those interruptions will be found to matter very little.

What matters are the people who are suffering. Very few manicurists have savings accounts. I have been down every possible road, without success, trying to find Little Yen just so I could send her a few dollars. Multiply her by a few million and that’s how many people we somehow need to reach, and help. What matters are the innovators and the front-line people they are trying to help.Hug

And eventually, the hugs.




This essay appeared first on, an excellent site for the exchange of ideas and information, on which I’ve begun posting. You might enjoy visiting it too.

Quick! Hug somebody!

Huggable volunteer Liz Luna joins writer Johns for a demonstration of the grab-a-friend hug.

A thoughtful, huggable friend of mine recently sent a link to an excellent article posted some months ago on a website titled The Mind Unleashed. It’s a site that proclaims a ponderable truth: “We are all connected: To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically” – and wants you to uncover your true potential. It has fascinating articles on everything from the healing power of music to the realities of war in Gaza to Sixteen Reasons to Have Daily Sex; in short, you might want to quit reading this post and go straight to The Mind Unleashed.

But the issue in question here is the value of the hug. This writer has long promoted the hug as source of all things good. More than a few friends and acquaintances, in fact, now share the belief – I read this somewhere too – that one needs four hugs a day for survival, eight for maintenance and twelve for growth. So now, thanks to The Mind Unleashed, here is confirmation, and more:

In an article titled “Nine Reasons You Need to Be Giving and Receiving Hugs Every Day,” Josh Richardson presents the full story about the importance of hugs. Richardson is a “blogger, healer and (a) constant pursuer of the natural state of human consciousness,” which seems ample qualification for hug expertise.

For openers, he explains, a hug stimulates oxytocin. Skip all the scientific explanation, which Richardson includes, if you need it, but that hug – thanks to its oxytocin release – lowers blood pressure, staves off heart disease, reduces stress and incidentally makes human males more affectionate, better at forming relationships and “it dramatically increased the libido and sexual performance of test subjects.”

Is that not enough?

Well, okay then, hugging also cultivates patience, prevents disease and stimulates the thymus gland. The thymus gland, thanks to its regulation of white blood cell production, improves your general health and resistance to disease.

Makes you wonder about all that time and money wasted on Ativan and Tylenol.

Richardson throws in enough miscellany about communication: “hugging is an excellent method of expressing yourself nonverbally…” – self-esteem: “…our family’s touch shows us that we’re loved and special” – and general well-being: “Dopamine (stimulated by hugging) is responsible for giving us that feel-good feeling” – to send you out to start a campaign. But of course, somebody’s already done that

So just go hug somebody. Do yourself, and the planet, a favor.