Shower thoughts: If someone offered to pay for my food and rent for the next 18 years, I’d do anything they ask of me. But I complained every time I took the trash out while living at my parent’s house.
Are you ready to get a little deep today?
There is so much information floating around right now about COVID-19 (BTW, my spellcheck REALLY wants to correct COVID to CORVID–arrghh). Speculation, opinion, science, federal government BS, even emails from credit card companies, and insurance companies advising on “the best ways” to keep healthy during the pandemic. (Wow-suddenly you care about my health?) For news and information, I’m sticking with the KNOWNS. I push updates from my county’s Department of Health, the CDC, emails from my personal doctor, listen/watch NPR, Democracy Now, and ABC Nightly News for flavor.
Yesterday I stumbled across an article that was a delight to read. They say there is nothing more powerful than the right word spoken at the right time. I felt a comradery with Nguyen’s insights. We are of the same cloth; not the same caliber, mind you. He is a writer who also has a burden to write. He ends the article with this sweet truth, “I write not only because it brings me pleasure, but also out of fear — fear that if I do not tell a new story, I cannot truly live.” He is Viet Thanh Nguyen, Contributing Opinion Writer, the article was in the New York Times, Sunday, 4/10/2020.
Here is the beef of it:
“Perhaps the sensation of imprisonment during quarantine might make us imagine what real imprisonment feels like. There are, of course, actual prisons where we have warehoused human beings who have no relief from the threat of the coronavirus. There are refugee camps and detention centers that are de facto prisons. There is the economic imprisonment of poverty and precariousness, where a missing paycheck can mean homelessness, where illness without health insurance can mean death.”
My point: carving out a life was difficult for the middle, lower & poverty classes BEFORE the pandemic.
This morning I wanted to revisit a poem I wrote waaaay back in 2001. I don’t even see it as a poem, it is more of a journal really. When I read it today I can still feel the agony and helplessness in the words. It’s a window to a time in my life when I should have felt satisfied. I was living the American Dream, but the price was too high; the burden too heavy. Following the examples of my parents, yet it was all wrong. What was different?
So, it is the late ’90s and as a young couple, we were delighted to finally achieve the American Dream: home & mortgage, cars & car payments, kids & kid maintenance, and the full-time jobs that pay JUST enough for it all. Then…it happens. It sneaks up on you, slowly, taking 10, 15 years for the poison to surface. You wake up one day on the freeway heading home in a smothering hot car, stuck in a 3 mile back up—a hamster in a cage running on its wheel going nowhere.
You are woke. You are pissed.
Today. Today I live in a small one-bedroom apartment and my life is very simple. I’m 20 minutes from work. The cost of living 25 years later is higher, wages are stagnant, and I’m hustling. I’m working two jobs, both essential during the pandemic, plus a little freelancing when I can. So…guess what, I’m happy. I am satisfied. I am grounded. I am full of peace. Don’t get me wrong, if I am laid off it will devastate me financially. My savings were absorbed to help get through the 2008 Great Recession. ‘Effin sucks. It is difficult to accept the limit of control, difficult to acknowledge that obtaining “things” and social status are empty ventures.
However, the true definition of maturity—and this is key—
I CAN STILL BE HAPPY.
Watching the clock
waiting for time to
catch up with me:
More working time
Leaving time …finally here.
Time drags along like a leashed cat forced on a walk
Coming home late the house dark
My kitchen smells like the dinner missed
Opening a window a breeze floats in
a scent like rain on the blacktop
dust and wet at the same moment
Pouring myself into bed next to one already asleep a new rhythm starts
Breath bellows in and out
Fresh replacing exhausted
In a room absent of fluorescent
Moon glowing through slits of blinds
patterns across the nightstand
where the alarm clock sits
Not a clock only nor an alarm, but both
It’s red eyes watching as I toggle its hated button
Alarm clock: sound and visual aide that announces my next destination
A location I’ve purchased no ticket for but a price has been paid
Dreams dreamt, too quick to absorb
Time races out of the gate!
I am the slow one now
5 a.m. comes too early
Quickly get on the carousel!
Around I go into another day, following the sun, while wishing for the moon
*Laws, Shannon. Madrona Grove: Poems Written Under the Canopy . Chickadee Productions. Kindle Edition.