Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Hey, there. What next?

Maybe we should think of this time as the Great Falling Away. All the stuff that didn't matter, just doesn't matter. And maybe, some of the stuff that we thought mattered, well, just doesn't matter either.

In other words, what aren't you doing or have anymore and do you miss it? Did it add to your life in the first place? Like running around trying to do too much. Or taking care of things for other people or doing stuff so other people thought better of you. Maybe this is just me. Some of those old "must dos" have come to a screeching halt. 

I go out less. I buy fewer things. I ask less of myself, give myself a gentler critique. I don't miss much. I miss people, but not any expectations of how we're supposed to be. I have thought about what could be the answer for our predicament: Love everyone without condition. Could this help? Tall order. I try not to hate, but loving everyone? 

If you have lost your job, or your health, or a loved one, how does loving everyone without condition help? It may not. But maybe someone who cares will be more likely to help.

If you are hurting right now, I care 💙. I hope the cause goes away and the stuff you are enduring is not lasting. If it is, let's dispense with the trite sayings: Things will get better. You'll overcome. What doesn't kill you will make you stronger. All trite and pointless. Pain sometimes sticks around. It is a measure of being human.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Lost: A Verse in COVID

I am/am not okay in superimposed solitude,
my mental seesaw tilts between stability and warp.
One minute I stir sugar in my good coffee,
the next, infinity is not large enough to hold the heaviness.

What is lost? The ordinariness of showers at 7a,
leftovers packed into a foil square, an overstuffed backpack,
a tough choice of 'Which shoes?', a slamming door in a rush,
a hurried drive to a parking space before it's gone.
People pass me on the street to Point B, a few feet apart,
close enough to see a man's whiskers,
to smell a woman's perfume.

My clothes in solitude smell of my body in them for days in a row,
ripe but stagnant, and covered in cat fur. My pants crease from
sitting too long in one place, no need to do anything.

No need -- besides take a deep breath.

Needs were a thing we took for granted
while we passed each other on the street,
aloof to our closeness, unafraid of the proximity.
Why now that tragedy of disconnection seems a luxury.

I always walked overly conscious of myself in the public realm,
comparing my size to the street and the people on it.
Black cat on black shirt.
Black cat on black shirt.
My steps -- straight ahead or to the side -- would be determined
by the others on the path. And now there are none.

What is lost? The maybe-thoughts of not fitting in.
The maybe-thoughts of inferiority.
The maybe-thoughts of aloneness.
What is more alone?

My stay-at-home community is my couch and my cats.
My old black cat sits on my chest right now, interested in the scribbling.
When I reach the end of the sentence and sweep back to the fold,
this cat spreads open its paw a little, somewhat on cue,
as if to settle me down.

Be still. We are in this together.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Upside of the Downside

Make no mistake. We haven't hit bottom. If anything, these days feel like the calm before the real storm. When, similar to the autumn of 2008, the experts proclaimed the economy would meltdown, but we really weren't sure what that prediction meant. So, call this post the rose-colored-glasses or looking-at-the-bright-side version of a pandemic. First, let me clarify, the economic downturn is a tab in the file cabinet labeled: FATALITIES. For all the thousands (just in the U.S.A.) who have and will die, for the survivors, for the pain and suffering and the inability to succor and mourn properly, I commiserate in grief.

Here is where I find comfort: each day, the leaves have grown. The trees in my yard started six weeks ago without a leaf on them, and now they are full. I've watched the process every day, which I couldn't have witnessed had I been at my desk job. The leaves do not know the chaos undermining humanity.

And, my grass is mowed. Well, you might ask, isn't mowing something you always do? And, I will admit, not necessarily. I wanted to bring some structure to the chaos, and my yard guy was happy to take the job. He mowed the same day I called. In some ways, I felt a sense of duty to still use him. Give him an immediate focus and a check. He didn't say so, but the look on his face told me what went unsaid.

The sheets are clean on my bed. Again, you'll wonder again, is that any different than before? Yes, it is, because it was done out of a conscious need to nest. Nesting is the new overachieving. Clean sheets make the world seem better, even if it isn't. And, I've hung sheets and towels and clothes to dry on the clothesline. This seems appropriate. Because life has slowed down. I don't feel rushed. Haste is not on my calendar. The whir and thunk of the dryer may become a relic of the frenzied life of going-and-doing, and right now, those opportunities and obligations are far fewer.

Photo of black cat napping in a laundry basket.
Cat nap in a basket.
I receive a postcard now about once a week from a friend in Portland, Ore. We have begun a jovial correspondence. A distraction but a connection. The cards don't really say much but signal we are alive and haven't lost our marbles. You could easily lose them, you know. (Of course, you do.) Postcards are amazing at mental uplift. Would you like one? I'll send a few. Soon, you'll be waltzing to the mailbox in great anticipation.

And, of course, I have my three cats, Ollie (right), Fish, and Slayer. I won't wax on about my fondness for them. Anyone who has more than one in the house automatically qualifies as cat infatuated. And, who among us has not had a COVID nightmare? Well, this week, my dream was not a nightmare but a strange product of my feline domesticity. One of my cats spoke its first word: "Yes." Then I realized it had been speaking to me for quite some time. In full sentences, naturally. And in these unnatural times, odd has an entirely different meaning.