Up Early, Not Writing

The cat’s sitting behind my chair making some of the most obscene sounds as she licks her hind end.  That must mean it is time for me to write something.  It’s bra-less Sunday, which now starts on Saturday since weekends are for social distancing.  To be honest, I never went out on weekends much. It was too peoply out there before the quarantine and virus fright.  Now it is way too peoply out there with folks who stayed in all week or worked wanting to escape their homes.   It sounds counter-intuitive to me, too.

Since I’ve cleaned the cat’s bathroom (yes, they have their own) and had breakfast including a small container of the best ice cream known to man and it’s only 10 a.m., I figure writing is next on the list. I know, I know. If I was a real writer, I’d have started the day writing.  I used to.  I used to come directly in here to my desk after feeding the cats their breakfast and I would start out with a thought or continue a thought from the day before.  I would get lost in the endless tapping of the keys on the keyboard and in the words and I would suddenly look up and it would be after noon.  Half a day gone in the blink of an eye.

I have not felt like writing lately.  Do I need a topic?  Do I need a deadline? Do I need a simple prompt?  Nah. I’m just being lazy.  I’ve been waiting for things to go back to normal and they simply are not.

Again, to be honest my normal is pretty much like this quarantine thing except for the addition of the mask and latex gloves.  I still go out very early in the morning to enjoy the sunrise and take a walk in the woods before pairs of soccer mom’s come out to power walk and scare away all the nature.  The park where the mom’s usually go got closed with large concrete barriers because of a lack of social distancing.  I was not surprised.  They now jog together in the street – still without masks.  Apparently, we are getting different information and instruction.  To walk now, I have to drive an hour away, but once there it feels worth it – the peacefulness.  I can go without my mask there in the woods.

I go out very early to grocery shop during the time set aside for senior citizens even though I am not one.  Not yet.  I feel like one sometimes.

So, the weekend at home is not new to me.  It just keeps me safer now more than ever.   I lost the writing habit somewhere during the initial news and changes.  I have not been reading either.  It has been hard to focus on things for long periods of time.  I think that is one of the keys to getting back to writing: reading.   Reading always bathes me in words that I never want to wipe away.  I want them to cling to me like the soft scent of my bath soap and hover around me as I move, tickling my nose and thoughts with ideas.

I have not been doing nothing.  Oh no, I’ve completed several thousand-piece puzzles and several smaller ones.  I have more arriving at the post office tomorrow.   I’ve re-watched many of my favorite movies – The Help, Hidden Figures, Leap Year, Decoy Bride, Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, Mrs, Miniver.  I have eclectic interests, wouldn’t you agree?  I’ve watched all twelve seasons of Bones (don’t be too impressed, two of their seasons were not full seasons); all five seasons of Warehouse 13, the first season of Hot in Cleveland (more to follow).

I discovered Locke & Key on Netflix!  Wow, loved that.  I want a set of those keys.  Yes, I am twelve (mentally not physically).  I loved the fantasy of it.  And it didn’t scare me too much.  Except for that one scene where the girl was going down the stairs and the shadowy creepy creatures were hiding under the stairs and reached through and grabbed her ankle.  Right out of my fucking nightmares, thank you Mr. Hill!   I am going to have a look at the graphic novels but I suspect in this case the show is for me and a second season could not come too soon.  Come to think of it though, I’ve been waiting two years, Netflix, for the return of an equally quirky show;  The Umbrella Academy.   What is taking so long?  I follow those actors on Instagram – I know the filming started ages ago.

We’ve been waiting for a lot lately.  Is that what we are doing now – waiting?

I’ve always been a waiter.  I’ve put off a lot of things by waiting for something else that was going on.  It’s a mistake, I know.  Look how old I am now and feeling as though I do not have a lot of time left.  Waiting at this point is foolish.  I’ve waited myself into a world where I may not be able to travel to Ireland or England again let alone across the country.  I better stop waiting to write.  No matter what it is I just need to get at it.

Now that the cat has completed her sound effects, I will get on one of those dozen or so projects that I have started.   Those projects that have survived multiple computer crashes must be there waiting on me for a reason.

 

#bralesssunday  #writing #waiting #writerslife

Reach Out With Meaning

Facebook is a range.  It’s the good, the bad and the ugly among a group of people they call your “friends”.  This means I should already have had some idea of their goodness, badness or ugliness. I don’t know about you but I would be hard pressed to even picture some of them.  I’ve been fairly careful over the years to make sure they are actually people I do know, but there are easily a handful that I do not know personally.  They are “friends of friends” who collect friends.

Facebook isn’t generally a platform for reaching out and touching people.  I don’t find it sociable at all.  I am partial to Instagram myself.  I hated when the folks at Facebook purchased it.  I was afraid they would ruin it.  It’s less about your words, which, let’s face it, can sometimes be awkward, and more about your images, how you view your world visually.  That’s pretty beautiful, even when it has an harsh edge to it.  It is a place to say many things without saying anything.

Friends are not something you collect contrary to what Facebook might promote.   They are, to use another popular social media term, something that you “curate”, over time.  You carefully and thoughtfully select the most relevant, highest quality content when you curate content on a page – it should be the same with friends.  Even high-quality friendships are going to include one or two that stand out as a bit strange.  I suspect I am that person on a number of people’s lists.

I have several friends who have fallen into the pit of political scornfulness.  They are unable or unwilling to see the negativity that these things stir up.  I feel they are caught in the trap that is the modern media.  It is no longer the job of a reporter to report news in an unbiased manner.  It is their job to be a commentator.  It’s all gone tabloid.  It is their opinions and purpose, it seems, to distract people from the need to come together by constantly selecting the best (or worst) soundbites and pushing them to the farthest possible limits away from compassion and attention to those closest to us.  It’s a shame and I do hope one day some of my friends return from the Neverland that is the uselessness of the national political stage seen through the eyes of online personalities.  It is theater after all.  And not the best theater.  We would not buy tickets to see it.

Let’s not dwell on the negative.  There is a button to hush that after all – for 30 days – one of the few features of Facebook that actually was a good idea.

Another friend posted an extremely vulnerable thought last night.  One that had been floating through my mind a lot during the past few weeks.  That is the one I want to talk about.  It read:

“Will we ever get to hug again?  I don’t want to live in a hug-less world.”

Simple. Vulnerable.  Brave.

My first thought was to make her laugh, post something funny to get her out of this thought spiral.  I only know it is a spiral as I was in it last week.  This is a very emotional world we’ve come to be in, in spite of the fact that we are generally distanced now and people do not even like to make eye contact.  But this was not a time to laugh.  This was real. This was pain and sadness and quite a bit of bravery that lead her to say this.

Yes, we will get to hug again.  I believe it.  Our future is not a hug-less world.  It may be a world where handshakes are replaced with a bow or an elbow bump (which looks a little like dancing to me).  We will get to remove the masks and smile.  My spiral had been brought on by the masks, which did not allow people to see that I was smiling at them.  We will not be living in a masked world and we will get to hug again.  We will never stop needing that.

To be honest there is no reason we can’t hug now.  You can hug yourself and pretend it is someone else.  You can hug others in your home, if you are lucky enough to be sheltering in place with family or friends. I am hearing that the closeness of quarantine with others is wearing thin but hug them and you may be able to forget the mess they just left in the kitchen.  Maybe.

I hug a friend when I visit to drop off groceries or have tea.  We chat without masks.  It’s a risk we are willing to take.

The world has been through times before when we were in danger of losing hugs and it did not happen.   Not all hugs were deemed sexual harassment.  Not all hugs indicate you are a predator.   Hug yourself. Hug your family. Hug your friends.  Hug someone in need of a hug.  The health benefits are enormous.  If you are not comfortable with a physical hug at this time, then reach out virtually.  A text, an email, a letter, an invite to a Zoom chat – all of these can mean the world to someone feeling extremely alone right now.  They are a hug of sorts.

I applaud my friend who was brave enough to post that.  I am rarely brave enough to shout out when I am feeling lost, scared or alone in this.  She is a great role model for me.

Reach out.  Now is the time for it.

 

 

Don’t Feed Yourself With Food, Love Mom

“You need to eat something,” said every mother and grandmother everywhere, every day.

What are you eating?  I had this feeling this morning that I absolutely hated everything I had in my

Photo by Nathália Rosa on Unsplash

refrigerator.  I didn’t really.  I supplied myself well, nutritionally, for this self-quarantine, social distancing, whatever you want to call our current time.  I have proteins, some fresh veg, juices (beet, blueberry and a bottle of elderberry – not big sellers, easy to find during a panic), milk (fresh, powdered, condensed and almond), eggs and other useful items. I remember the day I realized I had sought out no sweets during early shopping excurions.  What was wrong with me?  I wasn’t planning for fun; I was planning for serious times.  I added one bag of M&Ms – peanut, in case of emergency.

My mother said, “Don’t feed yourself with food.”  Her words tend to echo. She’s right.  We need balance and we need to feed other parts of our being.

A friend told me he was already binging on Reese Cups as he watched endless hours of people exclaiming and arguing and informing about the coronavirus on the neverending news cycles. My mother would probably be shaking her head at him.  I told him he needed to cut back on the news.  He said, he couldn’t. He needed to be informed.  Then he progressed to tell me that the experts are not in agreement and will not even attempt to see the other person’s point of view.  He had nothing to ease his mind from this is “being informed” he had sought.  I am glad then, that I am not.

My friend is binging on junk food and fear. I choose not to.  I am not saying I have no junk food in the house.  I know for a fact there is a can of Pringles in a safe place.  The problem is I can never remember where that it.

I started off this week with more balance.  Today for example, I had a nice salad for breakfast.  I had some popcorn for a snack.  Later, I may offset a found cookie with pumpkin seeds and an orange.  That’s all just food.  What else is there?

I took a short walk on the treadmill after breakfast.  Then there was some rather pathetic stretching and a video game on my phone.  Hey, it all counts!

I #amwriting. I will be reading.  I will watch a light movie.  “Letters to Juliet” is on right now – wow, that’s a beautiful movie if you haven’t seen it.  I have a dozen puzzles to assemble – my facebook friends voted to start with the donut one (still thinking about food).  I am surrounded by books – actual physical, wonderful smelling books and electronic ones.  After the rain stops, I will go for a short walk.

Oh right, I forgot about that closet that needs organizing….I am sure I can fit that in somewhere.  And I am certain that, spirit willing, there is a toilet bowl that could use a good scrubbing.

Later, I will be taking out some greeting cards and addressing them with short notes to mail out to people tomorrow.  Sure, some of them may be getting an out of season Halloween card, which may reinforce in their minds that I am a little nuts, but it says “I am thinking about you. I care about you.”  I may be a little nuts, but I am not seeking out alcohol or food to comfort my fear.  I am spreading some love and hope.  Keep that in mind when you get your mail.

I am not binging on fear as so many seem to be.  The last time I was at the grocery store, there was a lot of FEAR thick in the air.  It’s also crept into people’s homes through their internet, social media feeds and television.  Be honest, fear is exhausting.   And this is not the good exhausting from a walk outside in the fresh air.  It’s sucking people of their energy, their stamina and most of all their HOPE.  There is always HOPE.  There does not need to always be fear.  Fear is the real virus.  Fear is the real thing making us sick.

There is still a lot we can do.  We will be getting through this in shorter time than I think people realize.  That is my belief and my HOPE.  It will certainly seem long if you spent the entire time in fear.  Eat, but feed yourself with other things to nourish your mind and your spirit.  Find humor, find thoughtfulness, find faith, find love, talk to your family and if you are alone, email people, call them, listen to music, dance!! Sing!!  Go outside and breathe some fresh air.  You have to remain strong in so many ways at the present time and after we move forward into a new normal.

Don’t start really worrying until you see me heading for the In-Case-Of-Emergency Pepsi in the garage with a can of Pringle and a bag of M&Ms in my hands.

“Don’t feed yourself with Food,”  love Mom.

 

 

#fearistherealvirus #gooutside #dontfeedyourselfwithfood  #havehope

Ripples

I think everyone has thrown a rock into a quiet pond or lake at some point in their life and seen the ripples that are formed from the violent disruption caused by the rock.  At the time no one sees this as violent.  It’s just a pebble thrown into a pond and it doesn’t hurt anyone.  Hold that thought.

We are part of a lot of ponds or communities. We have our family community, our work community, our social network communities.  Every single thing we say or email or post sends out the very same ripples to the people that are part of our communities touching them in ways we probably do not realize.

I think I am a strong person.  I know I am a stubborn person.  I know I am strong willed.  I know I am great to have around in an emergency.  But I am porous.  I am like a sponge.  Everything that washes across my surface moves through me, quite a bit getting stuck inside.  How many sponges do you suppose are in your community ponds?  I bet there are more than you realize and your words have an effect.

I’ve been feeling fairly positive, hopeful and determined in the face of our current situation.  I’ve decided that I will not batten down the hatches and hide in my home.  I will continue going out.  I will social distance (okay, to be honest, I’ve done it all my life, so basically, I will continue to social distance).  I will use antibacterial outside the house. I will wash hands inside the house and launder clothing worn in public places especially jackets and pants as soon as possible.  (I do not have information on clothing and the virus, I just think it is something I want to do.)

I’ve made an effort to send out links to helpful sites to my friends on social media.  I’ve made a point to find activities that are free, positive and distracting so that they can take their minds off of the news (much of which is worst case scenario) and their subsequent worries.  Did you know you can virtually check out nearly 300,000 books from the New York Public Library?  Did you know you can virtually tour the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam?  I got lost on the second floor. If you see me, just give my cursor a nudge – ha ha.  There is a lot available, and being made available daily – watching live streams at zoos, or in parks in other countries.  Do a pre-visit virtually to a country you would like to visit next year!

What I am really trying to do is send out positive ripples.  I don’t want anyone I know to be afraid.  Okay, what I really want is for no one to feel as afraid as I do sometimes here alone, by myself, reading the headlines and things other people share.  Their ripples are not positive, hopeful or caring.  And as they wash over me, some of that negativity is getting stuck.  Oh dear.  Why can’t see what they are putting there?  They think they are being helpful by informing, but informative sources  do not have to be full of doom and gloom.  Look a little further before posting.

I want to slap some of them and I apologize for that reaction.  They are afraid and they are sharing it.  People need to get their feelings out, but in a time as sensitive as this where we are all so affected, I think there should be some responsibility taken to be careful onto whom you are dumping all your emotion.  In the grocery store this morning I was surrounded by FEAR!  SERIOUS FEAR!  People were as afraid of each other as they were determined not to miss out on a newly restocked organic chicken counter.

Me being the sponge that I am froze and took it all in.  Then overwhelmed, I hurried away.  It’s no fun being the sponge.  Anyone you know who is empathic or empathetic (I see these as being two different things), deserves your care at this time.  Once I got to my car and sat. I had a talk with myself.  Do that, it can be fun, you never know where the conversation will go.  I realized very quickly that the fear inside me all week, wasn’t even mine.  I am positive about our situation. I am hopeful. I am determined to get through this caring for myself and those around me in the best way I can.  I want this to be a blip in our lives.

I know it may not be, but I am going to approach my days, every day, as if it will.  I am a sponge but I will recognize that sometimes what I feel is not my own emotion. It is the powerful vibrations of other people’s emotions.  I felt as if a weight had been lifted there in the car when I came to that realization.

My grandfather lost his wife and two of his three small children to a flu epidemic in 1919. His third child was given to his sister to raise as hers, since at the time, it was not possible for a single man to raise a child alone.  He lost his entire family.  He started again, or I would not be here.  Tomorrow is up for grabs and we can approach it any way we want, I just want my ripples to go out and make people feel comforted and positive.  I want the same type of ripples back, to be honest.  That is going to require that I remember not to take on other people’s fears and be compassionate towards those that can’t seem to get a grip at the moment.  I’ve been in that moment and it is not a place in which anyone should choose to stay.  Unfortunately, some people seem trapped there.

If you have friends or family who are trapped in the ripples of doom and gloom, try to help them find release from that place of fear and panic.  They do not have to live in that state.  You surely know something that in normal times would cheer them up, distract them.  Take them for a walk outside.  Do a jigsaw puzzle.  Make them a cup of tea and hold their hand.  If it is you, and you are stuck – you can get out of it.  You can!

We’re in this together even if we are far apart.

 

 

 

 

On a side note, a friend who teaches meditation, offers a humming chant on his website that you can listen to and share with friends.  You can add your own positive intention and do it at the same times 8 pm EST as he does or at a time convenient to you.  #Raisethevibration while #flatteningthecurve.    CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO IT.

Writing

I’ve not been writing much since my fall – mostly because initially I could not, then there was that bone in my hand out of place.  Well no excuses anymore.  I wanted to update that an essay I wrote for an anthology is now available in print!  It is my first essay published in an actual book.  Pretty cool stuff!!  I have not yet seen a physical copy of it, but I am headed out to the post office today to anxiously stand near my box and wait for my copies to come in!

It is a wonderful (I say that in full confidence) volume called “Dine, An Anthology”  “This anthology captures 20 stories about diners and family restaurants. On the menu, you’ll find rich and flavorful essays that drip with detail like au jus on a daily blue plate special. Our contributors transport us to diners in center cities, small towns, and along desolate highways. At these restaurants, they come of age, celebrate life milestones, recall days past, find themselves, and fall in love.”

You can purchase it directly from the publisher at this link or by clicking on the logo or image of the book:

Dine Anthology.

It’s always super nice to support small publishers by the way.  I hope you will buy it and read it and let me know what you think.

 

 

 

Once you read it you will understand this.  My friend and I did have a nice sized win (winner, winner, chicken dinner!) a couple weeks ago.  Last Saturday I had the most wonderful “All Ham’s On Deck” for breakfast – which, while it is no longer on the menu, I seem to know how to get.