A Few Things

Hello Friends. How are you? Did you have a good week?

I’m feeling LOTS of emotions this week. Ben Blair flew to Utah for his mother’s funeral and I’m having all sorts of angst about it. At first, we didn’t even think about traveling because A: pandemic, and B: we only have temporary visas at the moment and are still waiting for the official renewed long-stay visas to arrive, so leaving France feels risky.

The funeral will be an outdoor gathering for Julia’s children and grandchildren only. No friends or cousins, aunts and uncles, or church members from her congregation (but I should acknowledge that just her kids and grandkids is still a lot of people). The funeral will be live-streamed for those who can’t attend, and there is no plan for a future delayed memorial once the pandemic is in check.

As these plans came together, we realized that Ben’s siblings, and the grandkids, were making travel plans to Utah from all over the country, and from England too. Suddenly, we felt quite a bit of pressure to attend in person.

Having the whole family travel didn’t seem wise, so we decided Ben would go alone, and booked him a flight — Paris to Newark to Denver to Salt Lake City. He left for Paris on Tuesday night and I admit, I continue to be very stressed about the trip. The covid numbers in Utah are climbing, and it feels so risky to be there.

At the same time, I’m second guessing myself and wondering if I’m paranoid — sometimes it seems like I’m the only one nervous about this gathering mid-pandemic. In fact, things seem to have opened up in Utah over the last couple of months, with people apparently going about their business. Am I going to conclude it was a mistake to stay home? Will this turn into a big regret?

I find it all incredibly confusing, and I’m feeling some anger that there aren’t specific nationwide guidelines in place so that individuals aren’t having to make these decisions on a case-by-case basis.

In addition to the angst and paranoia, I’m feeling such loss from my mother-in-law’s death. She was dear to me and I’m feeling heartbroken that I won’t be there to celebrate the life of Julia Blair. I’m also feeling comforted that Ben will see our two oldest kids, Ralph and Maude, in person. It has been painful to be without them for so long. And I’m feeling worried that because of ever-changing travel restrictions, Ben won’t be allowed back into France.

I’m also feeling grateful. Ben left Tuesday night and Olive has been so great about feeding everybody. She’s made pumpkin cookies, cream of zucchini soup, quiche, and cherry turnovers. All the kids have helped me manage communication — coming with me to appointments, meeting deliveries at The Tall House, and helping me run errands. I’m very lucky.

Beyond my personal troubles this week, I know it was also a hard news week for the world in general. On that note, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you:

Breonna Taylor and Perpetual Black Trauma. The system erased her as if she never existed.

-Take action. Donate to the Louisville Bail Project.

-While America took $1 billion that was allocated for covid testing and then re-routed it to the military, Finland trained dogs to sniff out covid with near 100% accuracy in seconds.

Face masks could be giving people Covid-19 immunity!!!

-$16,000,000,000,000. That’s how much the U.S. economy has lost since 2000 because of discrimination against African Americans in areas including education and access to business loans.

-Dramatic congressional testimony from Facebook’s former director of monetization, who admits he had a role in making Facebook as addictive as cigarettes. “We took a page from Big Tobacco’s playbook.”

-The Declaration of Independence translated into modern words. “It’s stirring and profound. It makes our obligations in the current moment obvious.”

-A list of the times Trump has said he won’t accept the election results or leave office if he loses.

-If you’re scared about the integrity of the election, you can help guard it. Become a poll worker. You’ll get training, PPE & even get paid. Stop doomscrolling and sign up today.

-The pandemic has knocked mothers out of employment and, those who remain, have reduced work time. Fathers work time is largely unchanged. The pandemic has worsened the gender gaps in work hours by 20-50%.

-Andrew Yang’s idea for ending underemployment.

-It seems clear that our individual carbon footprints barely make a dent in the fight against climate change. We stayed inside, didn’t drive, didn’t fly, and there wasn’t much of a difference because the main culprit of emissions has always been large corporations.

A slower pace of life.

-I don’t know when or where we lost our rolling pin, but it is nowhere to be seen, so I just ordered this one. Nothing feels the same this year, but at least we’ll have pie.

Here are some tweets I saved for you:


-Please read this thread. Read who turned her in. Read why he turned her in (she wasn’t protesting correctly). Do you know anyone who complains about people not protesting correctly?

-I learned a ton from this thread about Orthodox Jews and their beliefs about abortion.

It didn’t have to be this bad. We chose to let over 200,000 people die. How many more will die?

-The promise of Republicans is worth nothing.


Could you forgive Trumpists? Lots of interesting responses to Joy Reid’s tweet.

Did the U.S. lose it’s conscience? Or did it never have one in the first place?

-Stop using property damage as an excuse for racism.

-Would you hire someone with Trump’s record? Of course you wouldn’t.

-Take action. Help a friend register to vote today.

I hope you have a really good weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.


36 thoughts on “A Few Things”

  1. “I find it all incredibly confusing, and I’m feeling some anger that there aren’t specific nationwide guidelines in place so that individuals aren’t having to make these decisions on a case-by-case basis.“

    These lines sum up the crux of the pandemic here in the US. There is no national, sometimes even state-based, leadership, and it truly feels like every person for themselves. So anxious for this administration to be voted out, and so very determined it will be.

  2. While your grief and experience is personal, many of us feel the same way about the uncertainty of Covid. So many of my daily thoughts are similar to your own. The cases in our county are exploding again and last night, we made the difficult decision not to see my parents for a time, but we are still allowing our son to go to school. It all feels so fraught and I’m constantly questioning my own decisions and wondering if I’m over or under reacting. All that to say, you are not alone in your feelings, and you are doing the best you can do right now. Sending your family thoughts of comfort, safety, and health in this sad time! ❤️

    1. Dear Gabby.

      I am very sorry for your loss and for all of the attendant anxiety, stress, and fear that COVID-19 and the US response has created. I have watched countless friends and family weigh their hard choices during this pandemic and no two choose alike. Just this morning, after long consideration I booked a cross country flight myself to begin the lengthy process of travel and quarantine to visit my elderly and ailing parents. And yes, I am very angry that I have to fear unnecessarily for my health at every turn of this travel, that my loved ones have been hospitalized without possibility of visitors, that people I know have died alone. It goes on and on. I wish you peace at the thought of Ben with his family and seeing your children. And I look forward to his safe healthy return. Much love.

  3. Dear Gabby,
    I really really feel for you, your family, and your fear over Ben Blair’s travel and the opposing longing to be there and see the rest of the family, especially your oldest kids.
    My dearly loved grandmother died in the US while I was in pregnant in Europe. Although I was at first going to attend the funeral no matter what (also a large family – she had ten kids, 48 grandchildren), I ultimately didn’t because I had fears because of previous miscarriages. I sometimes still question whether it was the right decision, as it was the last time the whole family (except for me!) was together. I got the vibe I was being a bit ‘precious’ and flipped and flopped. Now in these pandemic times it’s just a million times harder now for you guys than it was for me back then, and that was pretty damn hard.
    But at least the funeral will be live-streamed…
    I haven’t looked at your links yet. I appreciate these links every week, thank you so much.
    My condolences and best wishes to the Blairs.

  4. Dear Gabrielle,

    my heartfelt condolences to you and your family.
    What a hard, sad, and stress-inducing week this must be.
    May you all find comfort and strength in each other and the opportunity to rest as needed.

  5. I can only imagine what an emotional week it’s been for you but I’m glad Ben was able to go to the funeral and see your kids. Hopefully he will get back home to France with no issues! xoxo

  6. I’m so sorry for the loss of your mother-in-law and for the decision making angst that COVID caused on top of it–very similar to our family’s situation in early August after my mother-in-law suddenly and unexpectedly died. Ultimately, we decided against traveling across country for multiple reasons, but it was horribly difficult to make that decision. We connected over Zoom for a virtual viewing at the funeral home with local immediate family and held an all virtual memorial a few weeks later for extended family and friends. While it was comforting to connect virtually with people, some of whom probably wouldn’t have traveled to her funeral even under the best of circumstances, it still fell very flat. We don’t regret our decision and I hope you won’t either, but it still angers and saddens me when I think about how much COVID has taken from us. I will keep your family in my prayers during this difficult time.

  7. Safe travels to all the Blairs! I don’t think you’re being overly cautious. There is still so much we don’t know about the virus.

  8. A bit of Mary Oliver always helps:
    it is a serious thing
    just to be alive
    on this fresh morning
    in this broken world.

    Thinking of you, with much solidarity. Your children in the u.s. will be so relieved to see their dad.

    1. Thank you for this- it helped me in this moment and thinking about decisions I will make.
      I love you pointing out a positive good- that his kids will be with Ben Blair.
      Take care all.

  9. Oh my gosh Gabby, I don’t want to add to your anxiety about Ben Blair’s travels… I wish you and I were friends in real life. If you had called me to ask me about our experience,I would have said it is too risky, unless you don’t mind him being gone for perhaps some months! I am married to a Frenchman have the necessary papers,’and I was stuck in the states for more than three months with our two (French) daughters! You have my email address if you want to contact me!

  10. I am so sorry, and echo your psychological angst about decision making and family risk levels that feels all too individual these days and then up for everyone’s judgment. Living in Utah where so many are ignoring Covid or think it’s not serious or get annoyed at restrictions has been rough. As a cancer survivor, my husband is at higher risk and so we’re being way more careful than our neighbors/relatives and I always feel like the lone party-pooper, mask-wearing nervous Nelly. But then I have a son at BYU where cases are exploding and don’t even know if I can see him for the holidays. It’s crazy.

  11. Please take comfort in the fact that all any of us can do is to make decisions that feel right to us at the time. Your husband is following his heart and his gut instinct and I believe you have to trust in that. It is so hard for you not to be there with him, but remember you shared many loving times with your Mother in Law when she was alive and vibrant and happy…..so much more important!
    This pandemic causes us all so much anxiety and worry….there is no clear advice here in the UK either…we have to make our own judgements and risk assessments. I am sure you have done the right thing as a family. As for his return…try not to worry and deal with any problems as they arise.
    Thinking of you all x

  12. I hope that Ben Blair can get back to you soon, but I was thinking, at least he will see your two oldest. It is natural to have so many mixed emotions!! I lost my grandfather last month and am living overseas as well. Fortunately because we were moving between countries I was able to see him in July. I consider that a blessing. It will be hard to not be at the funeral, but you have a live stream and that is actually pretty special. I hope you feel comfort and peace at this time of loss.

  13. I support your decision not to travel for this funeral. It is a risk and though you are heartbroken at your loss, the Covid crisis is very real and too risky for you as a parent to expose yourself and possibly others. My brother in N.J. died in August and we couldn’t travel. I was very moved and felt very close to all the people during the live stream of his service especially when I could hear my Lutheran pastor uncle’s words of interment as my brother’s casket was lowered into the ground. It isn’t the same as being there and hugging loved ones but it honored a life and allowed me to participate. I too had a wonderful mother-in-law and miss her all the time. Thinking of you during this difficult time.

  14. I am crying reading your post because it sums up so much of my own feelings. I vacillate between worrying that I am being too cautious and then worrying that I am not being cautious enough. Thank you for sharing your feelings and your internal struggle, as I don’t feel as alone as I did just a few minutes ago.

  15. Just wanted to raise my hand and say me and my family are still taking the pandemic very seriously. I also have those “am I going to look back on this and think I was being a cautious fool!” doubts when I see other people traveling and gathering. There’s no right answer. We skipped a family funeral this summer because we knew everyone there wasn’t practicing social distancing and it’s now a source a contention with the family. It all makes me so bitter and sad. Sorry for your loss. Heartache is never easy, but it shouldn’t be this hard! XO

  16. I completely recognize your ambivalence and angst about Covid vis-a-vis other people. It feels so bipolar here in a Red state. Movie theaters and bars are open. College campuses are bustling, and preparing for a big football season. But K-12 schools are closed. Many people are holed up taking every possible precaution, and most people are wearing masks. Other people are trucking along as normal, whether because they have to for their jobs, or because their political beliefs and sense of person invincibility make them doubt that the pandemic could impact them.

    Every day we weigh risks as if we’re all amateur epidemiologists. Can I take my kids to the park? Let them go down the slide there? What if another kid approaches, do I intervene? Do I break up the neighborhood kids playing outside, or is it an important outlet for their social, emotional, and physical health? Do I buy more milk at the store today since we’ve run out, or wait until I have my whole list ready so I won’t have to go back for 2 weeks? Every single little action, you think in the back of your mind “is it worth getting Covid to do this?” And yet, cumulatively, those little daily sacrifices add up, and the stress of assessing all of them takes a major toll. I realize that this must be how many immunocompromised chronically ill people have to live all the time.

    For months I’ve had nightmares that I suddenly realize I’m in a crowded place without a mask. Then pour on the anxiety about Trump fomenting insurrection. It’s such a crazy time that calls for more strength and resilience than many of us knew we had.

    1. I’ve also been having dreams where I’m surrounded by people and realize I don’t have a mask! Then I start profusely apologizing and scramble to cover my face while all the maskless people around me roll their eyes. (Another version is I have a mask but it keeps falling off.)

      So often I’ve had that “am I crazy” feeling as I see people in our country, friends I care about, going about their lives as relatively normal. Then I think about the fact that I know most of this because of what they share on social media and how I’m definitely not sharing anything about being holed up at home for six months on social media. So I have to conclude that many people are like me, and it’s the higher risk taking (generally very extroverted) friends who are out and about, which isn’t everyone.

  17. Thanks for sharing. Death in the Time of Covid is so difficult. There is no path through. My cousin who lived with my family during my childhood died in March. I am still looking for the way forward. I hope the words you shared here, being able to watch the service, and having many of your children with you, will help you during this time. You will always have a part of her with you, because you married one of her finest works. Make a special effort to enjoy the things that she loved. I like to eat the things that my dad loved to feel close to him. Extra credit for still having links for us…

  18. I look forward to this post every Friday. I am so sorry about your mother-in-law, and I hope that your husband has a safe trip home to you in France.

  19. Make no mistake. “Red” states are re-opening to make it look like everything is back to normal. This is done, in part, to boost Republicans chances in the election. If things seems normal, people will feel ok voting as they normally do, instead of for what’s best for the country right now. People will believe that because restaurants are open, the economic recovery is right around the corner and maybe things aren’t so bad.


    Sorry for the shouty caps, but we are all ostriches right now because things are so overwhelming.

    As to the lack over cohesive guidelines:
    We all know what we need to be doing.
    We need to wear masks on the RARE or unavoidable occasions we are near others.
    We need to socially distance, even while we are wearing masks. Most of us are not wearing N-95 masks, so droplets can still get through our cloth masks,
    We need to avoid large gatherings. If we have to be in a group, we have to wear our masks. Over our mouths AND noses. Even when we’re yelling at a protest.
    We need to stop insisting that “I just need to live my life.” A more selfish sentence was never uttered.
    We need to stop believing the lies that only certain people get it. Or that it will affect only those with underlying conditions. 10% of Americans have diabetes. 40% of Americans are obese. 8% have asthma. 48% have some kind of heart disease. If you are lucky enough not to have one of these conditions it is your responsibility to protect others from COVID-19 by doing what you know you should.
    Stop travelling. I mean it. Stay where you are. Some places have their numbers low, start to re-open and then are inundated by COVID tourists who can’t go out to dinner in their town, so they take all their germs to the next town. Stay home.

    These are simple to understand. You may not like them, but they are simple to understand.

    And also, please vote.

  20. I am so sorry about the passing of Julia Blair.

    When I see posts from my family, who live in Utah, on Instagram, I feel like it is a different planet. They are going to dances and football games, and we still haven’t returned to school or work or restaurants? I hope Ben Blair has a safe trip and is back with you in France soon.

  21. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

    I’m so sorry. It is such a deep loss for your whole family and I can hear your pain. You are doing the best you can. Just breathing is enough right now. Truly. I’ll be thinking of all of you in the days ahead.

  22. Sending you all much love and care. Be gentle with yourselves. You are in an impossible situation and are doing your best. Thank you for continuing to be brave and sharing your lives with us.

  23. I understand that corporations are largely responsible for the majority of carbon emissions, but it is important to look at our individual roles in why those corporations continue to exist.
    In a number of cases, they exist to fill government contracts, in which case, voting becomes and important individual tool for reducing emissions. In the case of consumer goods companies, we need to take responsibility for the emissions that went into making and transporting the products we buy into our homes. Most importantly, buy less (particularly single-use products), buy second-hand, and buy local.
    If you have products new products you still want to buy, research the company’s production methods before purchasing and/or contact them about changing their production and packaging. Companies will only shift their carbon-practices if their bottom-line starts being affected by consumer practices.

    1. My husband works on energy efficiency and one of his tasks is to assess various impacts.

      He said that the biggest cause of emissions is:

      heating and cooling of homes.

      It’s a little bit confusing to talk about large corporations, like Exxon et al, as the largest emittors, because the emissions are judged by how the product they are extracting is being used (for example, as fuel in a car or plane, or as gas to heat a home). So we still ultimately need to think about how we, as consumers, are using energy. I do agree that if we can get those fossil-fuel extractors to behave ethically, everything will change downstream as well.

      Just some thoughts to add to the discussion.

  24. Such complexity over top of heart break is just overwhelming. I can only imagine how hard this is for you. My heart truly goes out to you and your family. If I could I would send you Charlie Mackesy’s book, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse. I have sent it to others who are grieving the loss of a loved one. To sum up it tells you in the gentlest of ways to be kind to yourself. He is on instagram if you would like to see some of the pages from the book.

  25. Your Twitter roundups are profoundly important learning for me. Thank you for finding them and sharing them here so that I don’t have to trespass into Twitter on my own. And thank you for your own empowering threads.

  26. I am so sorry about everything. Truly. This is a truly unprecedented and stressful time. I hope Ben Blair is back soon and safely.

  27. Hugs to you! You’re right to feel how you do about your husband’s travel. I find it a little disconcerting myself when I have to be outside of our bubble. Hope everything goes well and he’s home safe soon.

  28. It was so generous of you to share your tribute of Julia Blair with us. She sounds like a remarkable woman! I love to hear about the unconventional ways women impact the world – like opening missions and opening hearts. You do the same, Gabby! I hope you do not feel too lonely in your grief, but surrounded by support.

  29. Condolences to you and your family. The photo you shared of your mother-in-law wearing a hat and a red plaid scarf made an impression on me. She sounds like a wonderful person.

    The links this week — I hadn’t heard of Sophie Scholl and her story is terrifying because I can see the same thing still happening today. The tweet about Trump not being able to get a food industry job with his record — yes, true! How did people vote to give him more responsibility? How does anyone still support him?? It’s unbelievable.

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