Life

Life is weird and good

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It’s 8:00 a.m. on a Friday and Starbuck’s is nearly empty, a half dozen tables moved to the front of the store with chairs stacked on top, denote we are living in a new time. It’s chilly (for August) and raining but the three meagerly spaced tables outdoors, under the eave of the building are occupied with the die hard coffee and wifi borrowing devotees who need to be in the vicinity of a coffee shop to write. Today, I am one of them as I wait while my dad undergoes a quick procedure at the hospital before he is released back out into the world. Of course, I wasn’t allowed to go in with him because – COVID.

But sitting here writing in a once bustling shop is a starker reminder of the unusual times we are living in. Weirder than masking up to grocery shop and go to work. There are no tables of early morning seniors or students or business people having a quick early meeting over a cup. The tables aren’t full of writers or readers or others just needing a quick escape from home. This particular Starbucks carries noise in perpetual motion around the room from front to back, side to side, but no conversations are bouncing back to me today. Just the peripheral vision of masked customers waiting 6 feet apart for their name to be called. A quick pick up and run.

School is on my mind these days because I have a rising eighth grader and the memories of a chaotic spring semester of online schooling from home are whirling back to me. What is school going to look like this year? Will there be sports (probably not), will there be a regular school day (probably not), will there be a return to a teen social life (probably not) – or a parent social life?! We are grinning and bearing it as best we can but the teen hasn’t been out of my vicinity (except when I do my fifteen hours a week at my job) since mid-March and I think we both need a break. COVID has changed so much for all of us but we still have each other and the instincts to keep going on regardless, day after day. We are resilient, thank God.

I can’t help but wonder what our country would be like today if we had a different leader who could have given us some real guidance in the time of this pandemic. I will leave it at that as I shy away from political commentary here. The thing I am grateful for is that I only have to worry about today. Sitting here, enjoying a coffee, retrieving my dad from the hospital and getting him back to his loved ones. Life is still good. Weird but good.

 

 

Life

Imagining a different life

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I’m not one to sit around and think of the roads that diverge in life as events lead you down one path or the other (this always sends me back to Frost’s The Road Not Taken), but today would have been my brother Jeff’s fifty-fifth birthday and my mind has drifted backward, undoing all the intervening years to his twenty first year which was his last proper birthday, the day he became of legal age, and he was on his way to getting the life he wanted. I had turned nineteen a week and a half prior and we were looking forward to being in the same city for college that fall as he was transferring to his dream college only they didn’t have space for him on campus, an incoming transfer student in his junior year.

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Life

Life is a Mixed Bag

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Dad and me at his 80th Birthday Celebration

It’s been a while since I’ve published a blog post and even though I say “published” I may as well say attempted too. In the time of Coronavirus I may have run out of things to say. If like me, your days have turned into a perpetual Groundhog Day, you know what I’m talking about. What is there to say about the waking up, brushing teeth and doing eight other things, the same ones you did yesterday. Actually, it’s not as bad as I make it seem and one bright spot in my last month was that my dad was visiting me. He has slowed down quite a bit since turning eighty last December but I wasn’t prepared for the amount of help we would need to get around our house. He fell on his first day here and it was then I realized how fragile he’d become. But with a cane and someone’s crook of an elbow, it was manageable.

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Life

One breath at a time

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When I arrive at my pulmonologist’s office I am thrilled to see my doctor who has been treating my chronic bronchitis and Kartagener’s Syndrome since I was 21. Thirty-one years. We greet each other behind our masked faces, eyes light up in recognition it has been nearly seven years since we’ve seen each other. My bad. I think I have a handle on my disease and then I land in the ER with pain from a lung infection gone awry. But seven years is a good run with no hospital visits as I’ve gotten much better at taking care of myself, until I stop.

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Life

Poems from the past

 

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I’m looking for a notebook to set out the plans for my new routine. The step by step guide to take back my old life and fix this messy house. I’m home from Florida where my thirteen-year-old and I spent several weeks social distancing in nicer weather and where there wasn’t much to do other than read, tidy, and enjoy the outdoors (and school for him). It was the best place to be in this time of quarantine. Reality hits hard now as I scan the house which is in a great deal of upheaval with the contents of the thirteen-year-old’s bedroom strewn across several rooms as the project of turning it into a teenage room looms before us. Deep breath.

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Life

Backyard Observation

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My son’s last seventh grade science assignment for the school year was to keenly observe an area of our backyard over a four week period. He was to look beyond the grass and the weeds and the crisp brown leaves that never made it to the compost bin to see what is living in our backyard. This meant sitting still and turning over rocks. It meant patience and curiosity. It meant listening and learning and sometimes typing a long, descriptive summary of his questions about the plant’s outward appearance on Google.com. He was excited there’s an app that will zoom in on a plant and tell you it’s perfect and difficult to pronounce proper name along with it’s history, origin story, expected size range and how to treat them to get the absolute best results from the plant for your garden or yard. Yes, there’s always an app for that. This is a perfect experiment for a seventh grader who is still so full of curiousity and wonder, especially if it means getting dirty.

As I watched him watch the yard, I couldn’t help but think this is a good metaphor for where we find ourselves today. How many of us have keenly observed our own backyard to the microscopic extent that was asked of my seventh grader? How many of us have turned over rocks to find out what’s living underneath them? Checking our prejudices and stereotypes for what is the whole truth. It’s hard to do this kind of excavation because for so long it’s been in the background, happening to other people, and sometimes we think, but it happened so long ago. That wasn’t us.

It’s kind of like when I’m working my recovery and think about what I need to make amends for in my own life. When have I sugar coated or said, well, it wasn’t that bad? What have I forgotten or swept under the rug, away from prying eyes, making my home look nice and tidy? Yes, this is a period of excavation for our country and ourselves. A period to sit and listen without saying BUT or HOWEVER or interupting at all. Listen to what is being said. Listen and observe and (re)learn. And sometimes Google. There is not an app for this.

 

Life

Listening to the World

Some days are harder to write than others. Some days the world becomes too much, full of harsh truth. This isn’t a time for me to write about a world gone mad, still mad after hundreds of years. I am a white woman, trying to understand how to fix it. This is how I was born and so I am listening.

Poetry is a vehicle of the truth I am looking for and so I visit Poetry Foundation’s web site each day to tune into what’s being said. I am always blown over by the words I need to hear. Today’s poem is Stay Safe by Luther Hughes and here are some of the words that hit my core:

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Why indeed does the world seem normal outside my back door, the birds singing as if no wrong exists in the world. Only the crows scream that something is amiss.

MC

Life

Observation

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As a writer, wouldn’t it seem that observation is an important tool in one’s work? I thought about this yesterday morning as I was walking around the neighborhood, looking at plants I’d never seen before, the rabbits pausing on a dewy lawn for a quick snack, the tree with a seemingly perfect canopy of branches and leaves. But as I wandered and meanered and took in the scent of the day, waved at the other walkers passing on the other side of the street, and took snapshots of cool things, I never once looked up at the sky. When I left the house I returned to quickly grab my forgotten sunglasses because as you walk to the east the sun is bound to get in your eyes eventually and I hadn’t noticed that the glasses hadn’t left their perch at the top of my head for the duration of the walk.

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Life

The house I didn’t want

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In late 2015, at the beginning of my journey into recovery, I decided I wanted to move. Fresh starts and all. We live in a house that is a main thoroughfare and heavily trafficked and without sidewalks. Our son was eight and in need of neighborhood friends and how is that possible without a neighborhood? We quickly found one that seemed perfect. A neighborhood near one of Liam’s school friends, it was bigger with an open plan, a fireplace!, a large master bedroom/bath and walk-in closet, less yard to care for.  I was already imagining us taking over the space, making it home. We didn’t get the house and I began a period of mourning.

But looking at the house kicked in a new quest for my husband. He turned our disappointment into a new idea and started visiting retirement property while visiting his mom in Florida a couple months later. It was a furtive move on his part and he didn’t share this idea until he was home and booking flights for us to visit in late February. Hold up. Retirement?! Florida?! Never! I tried to talk him down but the idea had already taken root. Strong root.

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Life

Revisiting Bliss Through Meditation

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A few weeks into the quarantine, we decamped to our Florida home to ride out the remainder of the school year away from upstate New York. The weather was about to get the best of us with snow into late April and the feeling of being shuttered in our home, unable to get out to breath in some fresh air, was making our son drift into depression. Why not go where sunshine and warm temperatures would allow us to be outdoors while still maintaining our social distance? We are lucky and blessed to have this option.

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