I found this here: Ring

We all played “Ring Around the Rosy” when we were kids. “Ring around the rosy, pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down.” You can hear it here.

However, until you know the real story behind this innocent song, don’t believe that it is this wonderfully  fun and joyous tune for kids. It’s actually a death march. And it has to do with one of the deadliest assaults on the Human Race in history: The Black Plague.

“Ring Around the Rosy,” a common childhood song and dance, is actually about one of the deadliest epidemics in all of history. It tells the story of the Bubonic Plague and it killed millions of people. The phrase “Ring around the Rosie,” is actually a description of a bright red spot or ring, sometimes surrounding a boil, that appeared somewhere on the skin. The line “Pocket full of posies,” alludes to the belief that carrying herbs or flowers and keeping them in front of your nose would keep you from getting the plague. Obviously this didn’t work because the plague was actually carried by fleas aboard mice and rats. And considering the cleanliness of 17th century humans at the time, this was a huge problem.

The final verse, “Ashes, ashes, we all fall down,” is about what happens to everyone who got the plague: They died. It also is an imagery of what they did with all of those remains: Mass burnings of the fallen. Quite the cheery little rhyme isn’t it?

While 2013 wasn’t nearly that bad for me, it was pretty horrific. It was truly a year of “falling down” for me as it was for others.

I was pretty much stopped in my tracks three times due to health issues and spent the rest of the time worried about someone else or worried about my own situation.  I am so happy to have the year behind me and on to a new chapter. Let’s reminisce, shall we?  Then you’ll perhaps begin to understand why I didn’t post toward the end of the year.  

You might know I fly for a living. It used to be fun. Now it’s just something I do to pay the bills. I still get a kick out of it now and then, but for the most part, it’s lost its luster. 

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I work for a company that up until very recently, was in horrible financial shape. Management was losing money every year and yet felt compelled to award bonuses to themselves. This created tens of thousands of very angry people, which of course did nothing for the bottom line. To make a long story short, with a little maneuvering, the unions got that management team out and a new one in and we are well on our way to being a very successful company again. However, this last year, going to work was like building the bridge over the river Kwai, but with no whistling. I was pretty miserable.

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This was the overall theme of the entire year. And it went from bad to worse. I ended up with an unbalanced thyroid again, which makes you feel like you’d rather have the plague then cope with how you feel. We all had a rough year I think.

Jacqueline Johnson at Best Friends lost her Mom. I did the only thing I knew of a way to help, which was to advise her to get a bereavement fare back to South Dakota to make the arrangements. This saved her some cash but I wish I could have done more. But in a situation  like that, there isn’t much you can do from across the country.

Right in the middle of this, a good friend was having issues with their employer through no fault of their own. As a matter of fact, it was downright frightening and I was really very worried for quite a while. Everything is good now, but I take things like that to heart. This was happening at the airline as well and people’s jobs were dropping like flies.  My friend Gailen had issues with an airline and it became a tangled, legal mess. I was asked to get involved but at the last minute I was not needed, but it was scary all the same.

My friend Katrina’s daughter was having health problems, so this was on my mind as well. I’ve met both Katrina and her daughter and they are both simply charming. It was hell for both of them, but now in the new year she is on the mend and I couldn’t be happier.

In the spring, my friend Nan’s Mom died. This of course was devastating for Nan and that was two weeks of hell. Nan managed to pull herself together when she was dealt another blow: Her brother’s liver began to give out and she had to place him in hospice. It’s been a downhill slide for him and for Nan, this process has been exhausting. Bill and I have been making dinner for her nearly every night to help her out, but it’s been rough sledding and she is currently in the middle of “The Long Good-bye.”

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Somewhere in the middle of this, I got a phone call that a bird I’ve known as long as Parker, a Grey named Byron was being given up. This broke my heart. I got involved in that one and with help from Bill and Nan, we got Byron on the right track and into a wonderful home. But it was hard to handle and that was a rough one to deal with.

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As Bonnie Grafton of Best Friends told me, “You cry when they come in and you cry when they leave.” I did just that with Byron. He has a wonderful home now, but it still hurts.

Writer Liz Wilson died over the summer and I was upset about this. She was a mentor and I took it to heart. Losing Liz

Then came September. I was dealt an actual stunning blow: I smacked myself in the head in Madrid on a headboard. It was a stupid accident, but I ended up with a concussion and I was essentially disabled for 2 months. Follow this up with my air-conditioning going out and my refrigerator dying and you have the makings of one of the best country western songs ever written.

There were other minor issues such as my cable going out, my laptop having issues, losing my ATM card and the Asiana crash in San Francisco, which does nothing for any crew member’s confidence. There was an up side to this: I was published in the Huffington post when I wrote a post here about it: Huff Post

1381452_10201429501633662_473173664_nPhoto courtesy of Janet Holt Hilton

I also lost some dear friends last year. Janet Holt Hilton’s wonderful dog, Tango passed away from cancer and I was devastated as was Janet and her husband, Cameron. Tango was a love and I’ll miss her.

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We also lost Silvia Schwartz Wortham in December. She was a Facebook friend and she loved my Memos to Parker and Pepper. She sent me handmade cards and was one of THE nicest and sweetest people I had the pleasure of conversing with on Facebook. I was so terribly sad when I learned she had passed away. I think of her every day.

There were other minor things that kept me from having a stellar year, like having to spend a thousand bucks on new tires, the never-ending concrete restoration that turned my building into a horrid dusty place to live for months on end, and a neighbor who just can’t stay on the good side of the law.

And then of course I got viral gastroenteritis over Christmas which left me lying on the couch and hurling into a bucket for three days. Shall we simply say it was not my most attractive moment? My flight crew friend Tim just emailed me last night and said, “I think I just caught your stomach bug. I’m dying here…” So yeah, it’s going around.

All in all, I think 2013 wasn’t a really good year for anyone.

Well, today is the first day of my vacation. I’m off until the end of January and even though I had a lot of time off in the fall, I was miserable and barely able to walk, let alone get anything done or accomplish anything of substance. It was a horribly depressing year and I’m quite relieved that it’s over. The gray cloud has lifted, I’m feeling a hundred percent better, my company is on the mend with the stock price going up and new, positive people are running the show.

That “Ashes-Ashes” feeling of “Falling Down” is finally behind me and I no longer look at the day as “something I have to get through.” It’s now about “What can I accomplish?” Amazing what a change of date and a little time has done for my point of view. 2013 was a “Plague Year” for me and for many others, I can imagine. Here’s to a new year, a bright future and a busy time of positive change. Thank you all for being so supportive during a very rough year.

1186040_10201950545273977_307206982_nPhoto courtesy of Janet Holt Hilton

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