Sunday, March 22, 2020

If we were sharing a glass of wine from a safe distance ....

No way our wine could be this close together.

If we were sharing a glass of wine (but not the bottle), I'd have to get this out of the way. It's the new talking about the weather. It's weird to think we can be heroes simply by staying home, but it's true. Of course, we're not heroes like our family and friends who are on the front lines defending our lives: doctors, nurses, paramedics, EMTs, firefighters, police, grocery store workers, pharmacy workers, mail carriers, Amazon workers ..... Lots of heroes are out there taking care of us and we have to take care of them by staying home. Simply staying home. I think it's kind of stupid at this point that the government has to order us to do the right thing, but here in Ohio, we're on a "stay at home" order. I didn't need to be told twice a week and a half ago. I neither want to die nor to kill someone else.

If we were sharing a glass of wine you might notice my 115-pound standard poodle Crow Cocker looks pretty weird.  He hasn't been to the groomer since .... I don't know. It's been a while. I've been distracted by some shit. So earlier I started to shave him down myself. I got 1/3 of the way through his mess of matted curls. He won't let me take his photo tonight. He's embarrassed. So here's what 1/3 of the hair on a 115-pound poodle looks like. I wish I could think of some way to repurpose it ....

If we were sharing a glass of wine I'd tell you I got an email today titled "Death Awaits You..." from the author of a book I recently downloaded for my Kindle. I couldn't unsubscribe fast enough. I probably won't read the book either. Must be a reason it was free. We'd call that guy an asshole.

If we were sharing a glass of wine I'd say I've found a new use for my kitchen tongs. I call it my Corona Hand (not related to Handypenis). When I drove over to a local CSA farm to get some spring greens, I got out of my van and picked up my bag with a pair of tongs, brought it home and sprayed it with rubbing alcohol. If I were working a cash register anywhere, that's what I'd be using to check people's shit, with a glove. Tongs, people! Use them!

If we were sharing a glass of wine I would offer the following observation: holding a fist-sized smooth rock that's been warming on the furnace vent is more comforting that you'd imagine. Holding a warm smooth rock while a cat purrs on your lap is like being back in the womb. Only not as moist.

If we were sharing a glass of wine we'd probably agree looking at Facebook memories isn't so much fun any more. I've decided to take a break from them for a while. I  need to focus on today.

If we were sharing a glass of wine it would be long gone I would tell you I read today that people who are secret harborers of the COVID-19 lose their senses of smell and taste. So I've decided I'll feed my dogs pizza and if I can't smell dog farts within 2 hours, I'm going to get tested. No worries though. So far, so good.

Well, it looks like the bottle is empty. I got lucky and picked up a pile of newish 7-day DVD's at the library the day before it closed, so I'm going to watch Judy and immerse myself in someone else's problems for a while. Tomorrow is another day. I think I'll continue shaving the dog and sew up some masks. I'm not too proud to wear one the next time I go to the grocery store. Click that link before you disagree.

Stay home and stay safe, my friends

Friday, March 20, 2020

Nothing stays the same ...

I wrote this last night, but it seemed too dark to post here, so I posted it on my Wordpress blog, which gets little traffic. But then I thought why? This is my reality. Maybe you'd like to tell yours too. So here it is. I'll be posting more. I've got time now.

Strange days. Today I was finally struck by the thought that I really could be deciding what I'll do with my final days of life. And then I wanted to take a nap. None of us can predict what the final days of our lives will look like. A year and a half later I still think often about my mom's final days, after she suffered her last, terrible stroke and we, my sister and brother and I, had to make the decision to take her off life support and wait several days for her body to catch up with our intention. She didn't know she'd spend her final day playing solitaire on her Kindle while she watched daytime TV in her kitchen, maybe enjoying a visit from my niece or my sister for a few minutes as afternoon turned to evening, eating a packet of instant oatmeal or leftovers from Meals on Wheels for dinner, chatting on the phone with my little brother, and then watching more TV from her recliner. Maybe she went to her weekly coffee group at the library, just up the alley, with her neighbor, who was even older than she was. Maybe she talked with her friend from country school days and made plans to visit another friend, housebound now, the next day for lunch. She couldn't have known she would spend that day on the floor of her bedroom, unable to even push her help button, until my sister found her 9 hours later.

We don't know. And so I spend these days not knowing if they are my last days, but knowing for certain nothing is going to be the same from now on. I struggle to stay engaged with the books I'm reading, the movies I try to watch. They are stories from another life. I'm glued to Facebook, waiting for more bad news instead of doing all the things I wished I had time for two weeks ago. Two weeks ago when I had jobs to go to and Girl Scouts and basketball games and piano lessons and ... all the things that seemed necessary and important.

I don't know what's important any more. And the things that are still important seem even more out of control than they did before the Big V. I still have to deal with them, but under this new way of living, I'm not sure how to manage them or whether it will even matter a month from now.
For example, I'm embroiled in not one, but two, custody lawsuits, filed against me by my 8-year-old granddaughter Coraline's dad and his parents. I probably shouldn't write about that, but I will say it's been a cruel state of affairs, costly in every way imaginable, and it started because I tried to get health insurance for Coraline, who has been living with me for the past 4 1/2 years. I still have to deal with it, even though it has become moot at this point as we face weeks, possibly months, of distancing and quarantine. If these are my final days, I resent spending them on this unnecessary burden .... and she still does not have health insurance.

For example, a few weeks ago I found out I need dental surgery to remove 5 or 6 of my front teeth, roots and all. I suffered a bad accident with a brick hearth 20 years ago and the damage has continued to flourish unknown to me or my dentist. My teeth, which are really tiny points holding a rack of crowns, could fall out any time; I'm wearing a retainer to hold them in. My surgery has been postponed indefinitely. There are worse things than being without front teeth, and I told myself that even before the viral shit storm hit. That accident could easily have killed me then. But I've spent the past weeks worrying and preparing, counting pennies to pay the dentists and the lawyers.
For example, I found out my house was robbed the same day I found out about my teeth, and I can't write about that either. So I'll just say it was bad timing and the losses from the robbery go far deeper than the possessions I will never see again.

I'm not the only person who has been struggling with big losses. I hardly know anyone who wasn't before the Big V hit. For many of us, nothing was going to be the same anyway -- because life is all about change and thank you, I know all that, Buddha -- but now we're not even sure where we are on the map. For many of us, we're close to the end of the road. If all predictions come true, no family will be left whole. The next few months .... who knows? None of us can predict now.
And we do so love to predict. Oh god, how we crave knowing we'll just be OK. Just OK. Even with all I was going through before, I thought I would be OK. Now I don't know. And neither do you.
So what do we do when we can't see what's even a few days ahead? What do we do when we can't even empty our bucket lists because we're quarantined in our homes? At least I hope you're staying home unless you're in an essential job.

I can tell you what I want to do right now, in this minute. I want to gorge myself on good dark chocolate and drink a bottle of ice-cold chardonnay in the company of my closest family and friends. I want to play my guitar and sing harmony with other people. I want to watch the sun rise from the night side of the day. I want to ride my bike along the river for miles and miles in the sun. I want to dig my hands in the dirt and plant vegetables that I know I'll eat in the summer.

But fuck me, I can't do any of those things. I forgot to buy enough chocolate and my liquor cabinet was robbed with the rest of my house. It's been raining here for 2 days and a big storm is blowing up as I write. The wind is getting fierce. Sometimes I love a windy night, but after being in a tornado last spring, it's not as much fun as it used to be.

I'm just one big ball of fun tonight, aren't I?

What I have been doing is staying holed up here in our house with Coraline -- except when we can get out for a walk between rain drops. I've been sleeping in and feeling zero guilt about it. I made a list of things I want to get done and I've been clearing at least one item off that list daily. Today I tidied the linen cupboard. I helped Coraline with her schoolwork, and we went to a live Indigo Girls concert on Facebook and then watched a silly movie on Disney+. Yesterday I installed a bidet that I bought a month ago. It was pretty funny and I'll be writing about that soon. We watched The Voice, but it was hard knowing none of those singers will ever really compete. The day before I added leaves to the compost and stirred it up, preparing for a new garden this spring, and video chatted with my daughter-in-law Dakota and my 2-year-old grandson Cassius Danger. (I miss them so much my whole body aches.) I still need to shave our standard poodle Crow Cocker and send my tax documents to Dave and wash the chairs on the front porch -- at least one thing a day that moves me toward the future, whatever it brings.

And I've been preparing for the possibility that I'll be sick for a week or longer and Coraline will need to do more for us than she usually does. I taught her how to start the washer and dryer. We talked about foods she can cook, and I made two huge pots of chicken, vegetable and wild rice soup to put in the freezer. We could live a long time on soup. It helps to feel somewhat prepared for whatever craziness will inevitably ensue. I may look back on this time and say when everything was out of control, I made soup.

Social media has been a sanity-saver, both for me and for Coraline. She video chats with her friends for hours, and I let her. They do their homework together and have dance contests. And of course, I'm in contact with many of my friends too. I think we'd both be crazy by now without our online social life, extroverts that we are. We talk to the guys who live on either side of us from the safety of our porches. Today we the house for the first time since last Saturday to go pick up some early spring greens from a local CSA. On our way home we had to pass close to the home of one of Coraline's best friends. In a blaze of serendipity, they were just getting into their car as we drove by, so I whipped down the street and we car-chatted from across the street for about 20 minutes. It felt good.

I worry about every tickle in my throat, every cough that I would normally attribute to spring allergies. I try to focus on the 80% of people who throw this virus off like it's a bad cold. I try to be like Tom Hanks, even though unlike him, I'm not even sick yet. I wash my hands a lot. I cross my fingers a cure will come any day now and then a vaccine. And I know even so, nothing will be the same.

I don't know how to teach Coraline about a world that doesn't exist yet. We'll have to learn together.

Whatever happens, we will fight to survive. The isolation feels like a terrible trick though. This is one way to break people, and we need to remember it. We are stronger together, even when we have to stay 6 feet apart.

I don't know whether to hit publish on this one. It's a post for the times we're in, but for once I'm not able to find the humor like I usually can. You've all got your own troubles. Feel free to tell them to me in the comments. I can always listen.

Stay well, my friends.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The weight of flushing

Sorry I haven't written here in over a week. I've been busy in the bathroom. I'm wearing a brace on my wrist as I write this. I had to poop today and by the time I finished flushing 15 times .... again .... I mean, it's every single day with this flushing shit .... I've developed carpal tunnel. Thank you, Jeebus, I only have to flush ten times when I pee. 

I'm working on a design for a toilet that flushes every 15 seconds whether somebody is using it or not. I figure the millionaire in the White House would gladly underwrite my invention so he could flush less and save his tiny hands for tweeting. Don't worry. My design will be super-sized. I think that's language he understands. The tank will hold 15 gallons of bottled water, courtesy of Nestle. And of course I'd offer a solid-gold option just for him. King of the throne and all that.

I think I'm on to something. I'm also thinking about presidential add-ons like toilet paper made from real $100 bills. Not that fake shit you get at the dollar store. A power-washer of a bidet attachment. No cling-ons when The Man leaves my deluxe toilet. Maybe a tanning light attachment, for the busy faux prez who wants to tan and poop in tandem.

The only thing I regret is that I probably won't need to work four part-time jobs to make ends meet once I get rich from my Mega Necessarium. I hate be a party pooper and bring down those robust unemployment numbers, but I'm going to live the American dream, my friends. Once I'm rich I don't have to give any more shits about poor people anyway, so I'm looking forward to that.

Gotta go. Saving my hands for inventing and flushing. Poop on!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Dell sucks. Eat the rich.

Bet you didn't think you'd see me back here so soon. I just want to say that Dell sucks. Cyber Monday sucks. Capitalism pretty much sucks, except when ice cream is on sale. I am not being paid for this review.

I'm sick of the hype that happens after Thanksgiving every year. I never even leave the house on Black Friday. Hell, I don't really even get out of my pajamas. (OK, I don't wear pajamas, but if I did, that's what I wear on Black Friday.) And no, I don't shop online either. No offense to those of you who love that shit, but I hate it.

A woman told me the other day she was going to stand in line for hours to get a deal on a 65-inch TV, just like she did last year, because it was such a good price and her TV was all of one year old now. And that she has a 52-inch TV in her bedroom that she watches about three times a year, but it's (she held out her fingers) about three inches wide and she might as well get two of those 65-inch TVs because they're only two inches wide. She asked me if I didn't think it was time to upgrade. I just stared at her. I couldn't comprehend her logic.

That is my definition of insanity.

And yet ... stupid me. I decided I'd buy a new laptop tonight because I need one. So my friend Green Jello found me one at Costco and my son Drake found me one on the Dell website, which is the one I decided to get, because it was faster. But of course when I went to my cart to actually pay for it, it wasn't available. But they did try to direct me to one that costs $150 more. Thieving bastards.

Fuck you, Dell. I think that might be illegal. Bait and switch. Right? Isn't that what that's called? It should be illegal. And try ... I dare you, just try to lodge a complaint. Not a chance in hell.

Because they know they suck. So they don't need to be told. They won't even let you tell them.

So I'm not getting my Inspiron 15 5000 laptop computer tonight. Nor am I going to get a new Inspiron 14 5000, which was $50 more, because apparently it sold out just seconds before I was going to add it to my cart. 

I think it's a fucking conspiracy. Some fucking billionaires made a ton more billions the past few days, which they will pay zero taxes on, and fuck the rest of us. And now I'm mad because I couldn't add to their wealth.

What about you? Do you shop Black Friday sales? Cyber Monday? Did you get some good deals and I'm just a loser. You can tell me. I can take it.

But fuck Dell. Who needs their damn computer anyway?

(I do.)

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Day 30: The Finish Line

Day 30. This is the last post for NaBloPoMo 2019. A big hug of gratitude to all of you who read my rants and rambles this month. I've got a little something extra for those of you who managed to read every post and I think you know what I mean. Seriously, I have no reason to write here if you all don't show up and engage with me. I mean .... I am nothing without you! So, really. Thank you.

I always intend to continue writing at least a couple of times a week after NaBloPoMo. I go into December with the same intention this year, because one of these years I will succeed. If you run across topics you think I should write about, please send them on. You can contact me by email or on my Facebook page. You have liked my Reticulated Writer Facebook page, right? Or you can just pop a comment under this post. Lots of ways to find me.

At a party last night, I did receive a complaint that I didn't write about vaginas often enough. I know, right? It's uncharacteristic. I guess it's the sign of our times that I ended up ranting more than I usually do. I'll do my best to get back into vaginas.

Oh, you know what I mean!

I leave you with this poem by Danusha Laméris simply because it's beautiful and I love it.

Small Kindnesses

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.”