As a humanist and space enthusiast, my emotions are split over today’s headlines. America has solved the problem of being reliant on Russia for the transportation of their space cargo, but they still haven’t figured out how to increase the odds of customers being able to walk out of a Walmart alive.
On the afternoon of August 3, 2019, 20 people walked into an El Paseo Walmart and were shot. The shooting has been described as the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern American history. Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old also from Texas, was arrested soon after the shooting and later charged with capital murder. The FBI claim evidence confirmed the shooter is a white supremacist, anti-immigrant, and declared the incident a hate crime and domestic terrorism.
2019 was a big year for mass shootings. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were more than 370 mass shootings in the US in 2019, with mass shooting defined as any incident in which four or more people, not including the shooter, were shot but not necessarily killed. That’s an average of about eight mass shootings a week.
We seem to be in an age where the world takes two steps forward, and on another front, travels five steps back. Round and round it goes. How wonderful it is when a group of minds is focused on a scientific endeavor. Reshaping the space industry in one move–the successful splashdown yesterday in the Gulf of Mexico! WOW! It should feel like a great victory for us all. Yet there is a shadow hanging over it. It is not unlike a child sitting behind the steering wheel of the family car pretending to drive, and the parent scolds, “You’re not old enough for this yet.”
PERSONAL PANDEMIC UPDATE
On the home front, starting in August I’m returning to the office for 20 hours a week. After working from home for SIX MONTHS I am quietly entering back into a semi-regular work week. Whatcom County is expected to go to Phase 3 of the Washington State reopening plan this month. If you think the lockdown was tough, get ready for the bridge era of returning to work before the vaccine!
Managing foot traffic and cleaning stations throughout a 3 story building is a challenge. It took our reopening team 3-4 months to put together a detailed plan. There will be new etiquettes for people working or entering a compartmentalized office building. There are so many new areas to consider that go beyond the typical janitorial maintenance, such as air quality and airflow, surface protection, body temperature reading stations, instructions of what to do if a positive COVID individual is reported, etc. This is a different challenge than what restaurants or grocery stores are dealing with. Honestly, it’s exhausting to think about.
Well, If Space X can go into orbit and return two astronauts safely, then I guess we can do this! *takes a deep breath* Here we go…
So many songs begging Ruth Bader Ginsburg to “hang on” until there is another democrat in the white house. This one caught my attention. SNL 2019.
Thank you Red Wheelbarrow writers for accepting my poem, “Day 53”, for publication in This Uncommon Solitude your upcoming anthology of pandemic poetry.
“We are honored to showcase and share your powerful and poignant words during this unsettling time of crisis.”
Day 53 By Shannon Laws
If the world were normal now,
as it may never be again,
I might enjoy the morning.
This morning where I woke,
at 8:37 a.m., ate breakfast
drank coffee in bed, started writing,
and still under the sheets at 11:36.
If this was, let’s say, Friday, September 20, 2019,
I would not label this morning a case of pandemic fatigue,
no—it would be relaxation.
It is what the pre-pandemic modern world
used to refer as a “personal day.”
(remember personal days?)
I could find joy in working at home if all
my neighbors got into their cars and
drove to work this morning!
THEN today would be a special day for me.
But, it is not.
It is day 53 of the lockdown, and there is nothing
but the heavy responsibility of
staying home and
Jury Duty for women as a right- In 1979, Ginsburg argued Duren v. Missouri, a case in which a Missouri man accused of murder argued he couldn’t get a fair trial because of a law that made jury service optional for women. She told the court that such exemptions didn’t just make the jury pool unfair; it devalued women’s contributions to juries.
Equal pay regardless of sex- In her 2007 dissent, which she read from the bench (a rare move for any justice), she argued that the Civil Rights Act’s 180-day time limit shouldn’t apply in the case of discriminatory pay since gender-based discrimination can happen gradually. “A worker knows immediately if she is denied a promotion or transfer,” said Ginsburg. “Compensation disparities, in contrast, are often hidden from sight.”
They took your data. Then they took control. The Great Hack uncovers the dark world of data exploitation through the compelling personal journeys of players on different sides of the explosive Cambridge Analytica/Facebook data scandal. In select theaters and on Netflix July 24.
I use to watch a show called “The Lottery Changed My Life”. As you may know, some people are naturally better at handling change than others. Most lottery winners, one out of three, go broke, waisting the miraculous opportunity. Another attribute of a sudden gain in money is the amplification of whatever characteristic you possess, vices, and blessings. Money doesn’t change people, it amplifies what was already there. Regardless of how good you may be at adapting, all major change comes with stress (see chart below).
A pandemic, a lasting event that is both unexpected and stressful much like winning the lottery, could be described as a one-size-fits-all global catastrophe. Although it has a blanket effect on people, it is also extremely customized per person based on what our situation was before it hit. Each of us has unique circumstances that have created a specific pandemic experience. It is as unique as our address if we are fortunate to have one. As I walk about my day these past three months I hear different experiences from each acquaintance, co-worker, relative, or strangers that I chat up. Here are the basic types in no particular order:
-My job is essential, working more hours, I’m exhausted, resources are difficult to come by, communication is slowed
-I was laid off from work, my unemployment was messed up, took 6 weeks to get it, I had to visit the food bank and paid no bills while waiting for unemployment to arrive
-I haven’t paid my rent since April 1st and I’m afraid I’ll be evicted on August 1st. I cannot afford to move so I will end up in my car
-We sold the home we lived in for 20 years, we are downsizing in preparation for retirement, I’m going on a vacation will be back in two weeks
-My wife got COVID-19, she’s high risk, was in the hospital for almost three weeks. The bill came and it’s close to $50k dollars! We will be paying this for the rest of our lives
-I hang out with friends, I’m young, I found a cool mask online. Glad school is over
-One day in March all of my clients called me, all 23 of them in one day, to cancel service. My husband came home early the same day—laid off from his job! I’ve been crying all week! We don’t have savings and I’m scared
-My husband and I are fighting more now. How can I leave him during a pandemic? I’m sheltered in place with someone I hate
-I work from home since the shelter-in-place mandates. I attend six zoom meetings a week with different departments. Almost 90% of my socializing is done electronically. It is somehow exhausting
-I’m doing OK. Left social media and got rid of my smartphone years ago to free up my time working on my art. I howl at the moon every night at 7:00. I’m worried for my neighbors
-I leave the house once a month for groceries. I work on my yard, sit on the porch, read, and talk to my neighbors as they pass by. I’m bored, but I want to be safe. I’m in a high-risk category. I am in no hurry to get back out there
-Laid off from the refinery and on unemployment since May. It’s like an extended vacation! I’m almost finished with my backyard projects, I’ve gone fishing, camping visited my Uncle over on the lake in Eastern Washington. All of this pandemic stuff and mask requirements are stupid. Once it’s over I’ll get my job back
-Two of our adult children needed to shelter in place at our home. So all six of us are under one roof again. I am very busy right now. When I come home sometimes very late I step over the sleeping bodies of two of my kids in the living room.
-I discovered that my regular life is similar to shelter-in-place. For about 10 years my work has been online, in a virtual office, I’m a gamer, and my whole social network is virtual.
So if you’re like me today and feeling a little pouty, consider this new mask that includes a window into your soul! Let the world see your pouty luscious lips. Don’t let an all-cotton mask keep your gloss light hidden. Shine on, baby, shine on! Only $7.99–
Hey, pppssst, how would you like to think about something different for a few moments? You do? Oh good. Warning: The following post has nothing to do with COVID-19.
Do you listen to satellite radio in your car? I do. I’m in my car a lot these days and discovering that space is, well, kinda nice. For SOME reason my car is becoming a bit of a sanctuary for me. So, anyway, I hear Led Zeppelin’s version of “When The Levee Breaks” the other day on “Classic Vinyl” and I started thinking about the way music is interpreted.
In 2011-2015 I was producing a music history radio program called Boosie’s Playhouse Classic Blues. The program took a historical look at the first 50 years of the recorded blues. The American blues are unique in many ways. The origins go back long before audio recording was even a possibility. One of the concepts I learned about was the business practice of black songs covered by white singers. When a blues revival hit the charts in the 60s-70s few white artists gave credit to the original composers, most claimed the tune and lyrics for themselves. Many talented people, whose songs were #1 hits made little, if no, money.
Despite the plagiarism, the blues singers, on their own bill, continued to change and grow, developing the sounds of centuries into something new, again, and again. As the country inched it’s way into the 1900s that moaning of the blues, country, and folk began to get played on the radio and enter into the mainstream of the American experience. Contemporary artists added even more beats. Taj Mahal called it the African Diaspora. He shares in his biography his parents “made him aware that all that was from the African Diaspora belonged to me. So I came in with Caribbean music, African music, Latin music, gospel music, and blues.” Quincy Jones laments, “I only hope that one day, America will recognize what the rest of the world already has known, that our indigenous music – gospel, blues, jazz, and R&B – is the heart and soul of all popular music; and that we cannot afford to let this legacy slip into obscurity, I’m telling you.”
Each musician takes a sound and adds their own part. So, in my car the other day, listening to a version of a song about a massive flood in the 1920s turned into, what I believe to be, a sexually charged blues/rock tune sparked my memory of researching this very song six years ago for my radio program. So what do you think, did Led Zeplin keep the same spirit of the song or create something new? It took many decades and intense social pressure from other artists for them to finally change the credits. Did they pay tribute to the estates of Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie? I don’t know.
Stay safe, wear a mask, and be kind to each other out there. -Shannon
So, yesterday I caught myself flexing on the lady givin’ me a $25 haircut. Afterward, I walked out of the place and while driving home, examined a strange, yet familiar, feeling like something was wrong…(I’m a bit slow about these things) Then it hit me “OMG I was totally rude to the lady who cut my hair!”
“WHY?” I screamed to the mountains!
“WHY?” I yelled to the sea!
During this serious shitstorm of a time in history WHY would I flex during a standard life interaction with another human? Here is what happen… We started to share how the lockdown had effect us and compared notes. I basically bragged about how fortunate I was that BOTH my jobs were essential and how incredibly busy I’ve been. Then I handed the talking stick to her and she blew my mind. She is in her early 30s, newly married. Found out she was pregnant in March. Lost her job in March. She filed for unemployment. Received about two months’ worth when it stopped with no notice. She called in an inquiry, the state said she did not qualify for unemployment and would have to pay all of it back. She protested their decision. This resulted in her having to defend herself in court. She won. Now the judge has ordered that the unpaid 6 weeks of unemployment be sent to her asap, which hopefully will arrive by mid-July.
“I’m all stressed out with the baby, my job, stupid unemployment being all messed up, and this virus thing. It’s horrible.”
Now, hourly pay at Supercuts Hair Salon ranges from an average of $8.10 to $13.36 an hour. Let’s say she worked 28 hours a week because those cheap-ass companies don’t want to pay their workers health care so they keep them under 36 hours. …and let’s guess she is making about $11.00 an hour, that’s $1848 gross, with 10% taken out for taxes that’s a check for $1664. That is some hard-earned cash! (BTW, this is the third time a person has shared a similar story with me about their unemployment payments being denied. WTH Washington?) The only saving grace for the haircutter was that her husband’s job is considered essential and he has worked through the whole lockdown, keeping them barely housed and fed.
So here I was getting my haircut for the first time since November 2019, waltzing into Supercuts thinking I am a boss. Sons of the bitch! This was rude. I didn’t even think about how rude until my drive home. Perhaps an evil side of my sub-conscious drove that whole event. Perhaps I was forgetting when I was a new mom and we couldn’t freakin’ afford a gallon of milk! I couldn’t buy new clothes for my kids. We couldn’t even afford for me to go to work, in town–because we only had one car–and due to the cost of daycare! I’ve been there. Really I have. Also, I’ve stood in the company with affluent upper-middle-class people who assume everyone in the room is like them. Going on and on about vacations, new cars, private yoga sessions, and seeing their doctor, one flex after the other. Felt their words grind up against my reality.
Yes, I do feel like I’ll need a vacation after lockdown. I’ll be honest. But I must always use my words carefully. I can’t control what others do, but I can control what the heck comes out of my mouth! Each home is having a different experience during this difficult time. Please learn from my mess up.
Be kind to each other.
Comparing CHAZ to Occupy Wallstreet, the Occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the Black Panthers
This morning, I felt the need to re-familiarize myself with four protests, each unique, yet, perhaps held a common theme. So far the first two decades of the 21st Century have exhibited some serious civil outcries. In this video attached, Independent podcaster, Tim Pool compares CHAZ, Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone to his experience at Occupy Wallstreet. If you remember Occupy Wallstreet was a protest movement against economic inequality that began in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City’s Wall Street financial district, September 2011. It was at this protest that the “We are the 99%” slogan was made popular. Although I personally prefer “Eat the Rich”, that movement was about wealth inequality, not human rights. This week it appears people began to connect financial equality + human rights + bubbling outrage of the for-profit US health care system. America is the only country with medical bankruptcies. Ask any person who recovered from COVID-19 and their $75,000 hospital bill what it’s like to live in the country with the greatest health care in the world. Money. Health. Race.
This last week, in Phase 2 of the Washington State pandemic, I heard this statement on the news and it caught my attention, “equal rights is a health issue”—All THREE issues of the 21st century have come to full protest mode in the streets today! The handle on the machine has turned tighter and another layer of society feels the oppression. Suburban whites are jobless and their self-created safety nets are tested by the lockdown. The 99% are heavy from the burden of their oppressors: for-profit healthcare, powerful corporations with a chokehold on our government, and systemic racism!
BLACK AND WHITE
I can’t help but remember the militia that protested a land rights issue by the Occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge building. On January 2, 2016, an armed group of far-right extremists seized and occupied the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon, United States, and continued to occupy it until law enforcement made a final arrest on February 11, 2016. Police used kid gloves to remove these ticks. Only one person died. If this non-governmental militia were black the event would have ended in a ball of flames and fire. We know this. The Black Panthers, 1966-1982, were considered radicals, but, love them or hate them they managed some effective social programs. They provided food, clothing, and shelter in the poorest areas of their neighborhoods while demanding equal rights, better wages, and payment of compensation to African Americans for centuries of exploitation. Many of the issues we debate today.
Wish I could join the BLM groups in the streets for peaceful protests. I cried when I saw the face on that officer as he was killing George Floyd. 8 min 46 sec. The arrogance of this racist fool and dam the 400 years of fools like him!
I spent this morning re-familiarizing myself on recent protests and movements. Some key facts I shared with you along with my opinions. It’s almost 1:00 p.m. and I’m exhausted. Reflecting, I know real change comes from within, but I hope, I REALLY HOPE that before this century is over our country will change outwardly, publicly. Change is needed. Change is required. From the top down we need it! The people are taking to the streets while the vote is being suppressed. America is a young country and it’s time to grow up!
Continuing the meditation I will reflect on these two pieces from Rob Brezsny:
June 10, 2020
I hereby renounce and dissolve any denunciations that I may have inadvertently or carelessly hurled toward this Beautiful World when I was under the sway of bad ideas, delusional attitudes, or unloving influences. + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + PRONOIA FOR EVERYONE
By aligning my passion with the protests, I’m expressing rage and grief about decades of police brutality toward African Americans—as well as White America’s centuries-long harm against black lives and black culture.
What also animates me is my love for African Americans and my longing for them to be free to live their lives in peace, prosperity, and grace. I am inspired by joyous gratitude and celebration for their gifts and the blessings they offer.
“I have not been able to touch the destruction within me. But unless I learn to use the difference between poetry and rhetoric my power too will run corrupt as poisonous mold or lie limp and useless as an unconnected wire and one day I will take my teenaged plug and connect it to the nearest socket raping an 85 year old white woman who is somebody’s mother and as I best her senseless and set a torch to her bed a greek chorus will be signing in 3/4 time “Poor thing. She never hurt a soul. What beats they are.”
-Power, Audre Lorde, American poet, 1934-92.
The end has come. Whatcom County in Washington State entered Phase 2 today. In town the neon “OPEN” signs are on. Emotional yo-yo beat down. Took two aspirin and laid flat atop the bed. I’ve been laying down too much these months, yet I needed it again. Everything around me demands it is essential that I get up. A chirping bird outside my window gave a speech, my phone rang twice with instructions. At 4:00 p.m. I listen to the news on my old clock radio, but the man sounded much like the bird in the bush–they won’t shut up. Take a breath, give someone else a chance to speak, I think.
I’m feeling a bit skewed. Disjointed. Unconnected, but not in a way you’d expect after three months of quarantine. You see, outside my window there is order. Inside my TV is a disorder. Walking my neighborhood are masked smiles and friendly nods. Online our nation is shouting and demanding justice. I watch from my desk and in my mind, I am with them. I’m at the fence of the White House demanding Trump resign. In the fog of Netflix and binge-watching–are these riots real? Is this a dark comedy out of control? Can it be touched? I could run with the crowds, get an eyeful of pepper spray, just two hours south of me. Seattle is sweeping up glass. It is nearby if I want it. Feeling thankful for the peacemakers if they are indeed real. Please be real. Please succeed.
Twenty years from now if someone asked you what it was like to live during The Great Pandemic of 2020, what will you tell them? The lockdown is over and I don’t have the words right now. Please call again later, thank you.
Video credit: The brief history of racism within the Minnesota police explained by reporter Rachel Maddow, MSNBC. #GeorgeFloyd
This morning my bedroom is dark. An early morning thunderstorm blocks the sky. It formed over Seattle, traveled 90 miles to reach Bellingham at 9:12. It swipes across our landscape as it continues its path towards the Canadian Rockies. The thunder shakes the earth. The earth needs to be shaken.
A poet friend posted “Say Their Names”, by Seattle poet Mercedes Aristotle Lindholm. It is shared below. I am not very good at talking or writing about atrocious events. My God—I’ve written about the death of my daughter in my book “Fallen”, I’ve written about homelessness, domestic abuse, even freakin’ break up poetry, but this…over and over again, this goddamn two decades of documented abuse…with no reaction by civic leaders–I have no words. Words literately escape me. It’s too much.
I can’t write about trump. I am outraged, gobsmacked, dumbfounded. My ears are assaulted EVERY DAY during this neo-nazi president’s rule AND amazed that the “Teflon Don” isn’t slapped in the head and dragged off to jail. It is not unlike the way police officers, fresh from the kill of unarmed black citizens, escape true justice. How? Why?
I do not like trump’s america. I want a Land Of The Free America, I beg for an All Created Equal America!
I am weak. I can not write. I look to others like Mr. Lindholm.
Please, read his poem out loud:
SAY THEIR NAMES SAY THEIR NAMES SAY THEIR NAMES
I grew up as a black man in the United States.
We used to throw snowballs at cop cars to get them to chase us because we, and the officers were bored. No one was trying to be violent.
Today I would like to do what ever I wanted.
However I fear that I can not.
Some think I am paranoid or overreacting.
Thank G.O.D. my children look white,
however they now both identify as black.
This fear is NOT NEW either.
I am blessed to know my G.O.D.
and to know when to shut up and keep my head down.
I have been arrested and incarcerated many times for no reason with no charges.
Been in cuffs in the back of cop cars starting at the age of 11, more times than I can literally count.
I have had a knee of a cop on my neck 3 times before I was 18.
I have had multiple guns pointed at me dozens of times. I have been taken from my property and stripped and given a RED jumpsuit for standing my ground!
And I am one of the fucking “GOOD GUYS”!!This is why now, I know how deal with cops.
Love and Light!…
peace is still a ways off I guess.
“What the wise do in the beginning, fools do in the end.” Warren Buffett
Guessing by the news last week, Whatcom County will be asked to shelter in place another month. I didn’t think we had it that bad. Of the 1055 deaths in our state, Whatcom has experienced only 36. Today the total death count for the US is 99,624 according to google search CORVID-19 alert page. In March, I heard the scientist estimating the deaths nationwide could reach 250,000. That’s not too many, right? Please let me out! …I must be in the negotiating stages of grief now.
It’s 8:10 in the morning here. A neighbor is having problems with their smoke alarm. Each of our apartments has two. I believe both were going off at one point. I’ve had a morning like that. Poor neighbor. These alarms are set off by smoke not heat, typically triggered by cooking. What I learned is to quickly grab a bathroom towel and rotate it like a helicopter blade under the smoke detector, turn on ALL the fans, open ALL the windows, even the door if you have to. It’s the quickest way. Whoever they are, they’ve been at it for 20 minutes now. Sounds like they don’t know the towel trick.
In the back of my mind, I realize it could really be a fire. Oil in the pan, a candle on a blanket, electrical… how fast would this building burn? Let’s see 23 units, built in 1976, so its 44 years old. Does that mean it will burn faster or slower? What would I grab?
Last winter I thought about grabbing everything I own and leaving America. I was (and still am) so discouraged by our country’s leaders I wanted to become an expat and relocate to Mexico, Spain, Cuba, even South Korea, anywhere but the United States. Alarms in the distance warning us of trouble. Complacency argues the trouble is “over there”, it hasn’t reached my door stoop yet, I’m fine, I’m safe. Apathy says what are the chances it’s a real fire? Who cares? Everythings fine. Laziness tells me pour yourself another cup of coffee, get back into bed and turn on Netflix.
Logic (not to be confused with Loki) tells me, it is not a fire. Not anymore. Listen. The beeping is reduced to one alarm, and it corresponds with the low rumble of a large diesel truck, possibly 2 blocks over working on the road. A new breezeway trail is being constructed through a field of blackberries. The fire alarms I heard over a half-hour ago have morphed into a backhoe going forward and backward clearing the sticky stubbornness. A symphony of sound composed by the neighborhood this morning! A lesson embedded of course, as all lessons are if we listen close enough. The lesson I hear is to be ready for an emergency, be thankful, for what you have could be gone in less than 30 minutes, but primarily–when the tone changes the source has too.
I want to share this poem from my book “Fallen” 2017.
by Shannon Laws
I cannot sleep
next to you
The porch light
on the other side
of the curtains
tricks me awake
You look frozen on a canvas,
painted in oils by a master,
shadows lightly brush your shape
I study the back of your head
your ear lobe
a quiet beating vein
the hairline along the neck
There’s a frame of freckles
below the shoulder blade
They look like Orion poised
with bow, arrow aimed upward
I am not your Merope taken by blind force
I am Andromeda, wrists wrapped in iron
ready for monsters to decide loves fate
Gods visit the sheets of women
a vacation from eternity
Taste the finite in the kiss,
wipe their mouths with times mist
I will lose you as I lost others
Tonight your constellation glows in porch light,
while I dream of everything I cannot have
Shower Thoughts from Twitter: If we saw souls instead of bodies, our definition of beauty perfection and our world would be so different.
It’s been a few days. The days between entries of this Pandemic 2020 Journal have larger spaces between them. But I am still here, do not worry my five followers, do not worry.
I’m going to break one of the rules I had going into all this–DO NOT EVER appear to be bragging or complaining about work. OK? Alright, here we go… Before going into the shelter in place I was working 56 hours a week, and I still am. (!!) Somehow, the stars lined up and I am in a beautiful Pacific Northwest medium-sized town of 90,000 people, not too dense, not too county, a college town, full of brilliant people of every spectrum; SO brilliant in fact our local labs developed COVID tests, AND BOTH of my jobs are considered essential. Considering the employment stress I’ve been through the last eight years…well I mean the last twelve years (…well I could go farther back but let’s keep going…) *clears throat*
Considering all the stress I’ve been through over the last eight years I was relieved. Relieved is an understatement. So, I tell you the truth–if both jobs had let me go, and if I had to wait 30 days for my unemployment, I would need the food bank. I would be next-level-stressed. In February I had about one month’s worth of bill money and food reserves. I was working on a savings plan after the holidays. A plan that included saving for a small condo before I’m 60, and a simple vacation for myself this October. It might still happen. Who knows. A girls gotta dream…
It’s so scary for so many, too many, homes right now, not to mention small businesses. The Firefly, a popular music bar in town, announced this week on Facebook that they decided to close its doors. Very sad. Here is my question: will freakin’ big chain companies come in and gobble up the “for sale, foreclosure” retail space in the brick and mortar of cities across the country? I hope not. Back in the ’80s, a new law was passed about the gas station’s gas storage tanks. -true story- You see there used to be ma and pa gas stations. Yep. This new law required an upgrade to those massive underground storage tanks. However, little if no funding was offered to assist. This was so expensive to switch out, almost all of the privately-owned gas stations closed and the big names, ARCO, SHELL, CHEVRON, scooped up those ideal corner lots for themselves. Sons o’ bitches. I like and support local & small businesses. How will this pandemic change the face of our cities and towns?
I decided to re-pierce the second set of piercings in my ears to mark the change I’ve personally experienced through the pandemic. I closed them years ago and plan to re-open them at home with a well-sanitized needle. I’ve already ordered the gold loops. I never wear gold, but these small loops feel like enough of a sacrifice for my needs. I NEED a visual reminder of these months. I feel I must “mark” this change, like how an irregular ring of a tree marks a drought, flood, volcano, or perhaps stunning growth. A scar is demanded!
I’ve changed of course. My whole body along with a questionable romantic future of any kind. Most 50-year-old men scoop up the daddy issue filled 35-year-olds that can give them a baby. 50-year-old single men seldom want another 50-year-old woman, so fuck them. (This attitude will suffice for a few more years so leave me alone…) Last summer I shaved my head. It was time to rediscover my natural hair color. I jumped in, why not. It’s been six months since my last cut. Today I have four inches of salt n’ pepper. Then, without warning, menopause snuck in through the cat door. The hot flashes seem to have stopped, but the hormone imbalance hit me like a ton of bricks, well about 60 pounds of bricks to be exact. Fuckin’ change. Life is full of it!
Entering the third month of sheltering in place I am a changed person; physically, spiritually. Also, I acquired new skills. (the fun continues) I know how to host a zoom meeting, attend a zoom meeting, how to adjust the lighting in my home for a zoom meeting, and sit with proper posture for two hours to hide a double chin or my loss of interest. I know how to walk a new tenant through a lease signing remotely, how to turn over a family shelter with a turnaround team while social distancing. I learned I had the computer power to remote into my office platform and create the two weekly and one monthly publications. I’ve learned how to change the freakin’ battery in a cordless mouse. I’ve learned to listen to people around me and differentiate between regular panic and pandemic panic. I give grace and space to both. I’m on the road about four times a week. Driving is new. More bikes, more foggy heads, drivers go too fast, too slow. A friend use to say, Stay Alert, Stay Alive! It’s true. Very true.
So here is the new poem I shared this week at Poetry Club: Pandemic Edition.
Can of AIR
by Shannon Laws
The apartment is 500 square feet.
The smells in my 500 square feet are important to me.
I judge my cleanliness which is equal to my humanity by its smells.
It is mid-May, and it is noticeably missing any hint of lavender or vanilla.
Instead, the fragrance of fresh dirt in the newly potted house plants,
and the body oils embedded in the couch fabric touch my nose.
The bathroom smells like soap, shampoo, and Lysol as I want it to.
Does everyone know what air smells like? Good clean fresh air?
No, not everyone, everywhere.
Maybe air has no smell so the perfect canister of “air” should be
filled with nothing.
But that doesn’t work either.
If you buy air you want it to be better air than what you are currently smelling.
New and improved air.
The illusion of a clean, happy, healthy home at your fingertips after a fish dinner.
Few want a can of Dusty Closet.
I purchased this can labeled “Air” and I’m not buying it, but I did buy it
now I can’t throw it away until it’s used up, because then I’m wasting money
and that is much worse than being a person in a smelly house.
My current mood expressed by meme. Stay alert, stay alive. -Shannon