Day 62: Arguing with Myself

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…

photo credit: bandsintown.com, Firefly, featuring Nels Andrews, 2019

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?

CHANGE

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!

Crud, it’s a trend! Women Are Leaning In And Loving Their Gray Hair Like Never Before, Huffington Post, April 2020

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


https://www.ewg.org/research/mtbe-knowledge/storage-tanks-were-known-be-leaking-1970s-and-1980s

Dream Big

678512_07
Grand Entrance to a Dream Home, $1.9

Times are tough.  Not for everyone all the time.  There is a proverb that claims it rains on the just and unjust alike.  Most proverbs reference a farmer’s point of view, so I believe “rain” is a good thing, it’s what you want, it’s pennies from heaven.

 My Dream
house 5
THE Happy Deck, $1.5

At times when very little rain comes my way, I like to dream. I dream big.  Hard work pays off, I retire, can afford a nice house.  Nice by MY standards, of course, because it’s my dream.

One of my dreams goes like this: I see myself in a large house, with a flower garden.  My family is there, my two cats and one friendly, soft-eared black Spaniel, or King Charles (can’t decide) is resting near me as I dead-head the Geranium and Petunias planted along the bed’s border.  The sun is shining and there is a cool breeze.  Birds play in the branches. Dinner will be ready soon; there is laughter, music and great fragrance of a home cooked meal.  All kind of art hangs my on walls, interesting, exciting pieces collected from my world travels.  Shoes gather around the front door, as the house fills, comfortably, with friends, family, smiles and laughter.

I’m saying “Thank You” and “I love you” sharing the riches of my hard work with those I love.  —Hard work?  Yes.  Unless I win the lotto, this dream can only come true by working hard, working smarter, hopefully doing something that I love.

house 10
THE Bath w/steam shower
house 9
Living Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY ADDICTION

And so when times are down, I look and see what is for sale on-line.  I search the Windermere Real Estate map, zoom to a favorite neighborhood, select price “highest to lowest”, then “Enter”.  The house-porn party has started!

I look for a four to six bedroom, with an art studio, den, and a place for a pool table, modern kitchen and baths, a REAL laundry room, closet space galore, and at least one large fireplace, stacked rock, river rock or granite preferred.  I need room enough for my son, daughter, mother, my brother and his family to visit, a bed for everyone!  A house with a water or mountain view, a fenced yard, among a nice “walking” neighborhood, near a grocery store, quick access to the main roads and a park.  That’s all I want.  Simple.  The perfect house.

house 6
Dream House in the Woods, $1.3

I wonder sometimes if my need to view million dollar homes at 3 in the morning is bad; if it gives me false hope.  If I set the bar too high.

The average cost for a home in my city is around $267,000, estimated median household income in 2012: $41,718*. Dreaming of owning a million dollar plus home is reaching for the sky!  So, is it bad for me to look? Bad to dream? I don’t think so.

Let me share a story with you.

Back in the early 00’s I worked for the largest cable company in Western Washington.  Comcast Cable has customers in the millions, from Blaine to Gray’s Harbor, North Bend to Forks.  One of the ideas they were playing with was home-specific advertising.

house 8
Another Dream House, $1,050,000

This is a common concept for internet advertising today, 12 years later.  To see user-specific advertising in action compare the ads on your Facebook page with that of a friend, son or daughter, or your mother.  They WILL be different.

For cable television it’s a bit different.  Cable boxes have the capacity to not only deliver the package you paid for, but to retrieve information.  All the buttons you push turn into data, it is collected and analyzed.  Cable and satellite companies, unlike their broadcasting cousins, know exactly how many boxes watch what channel, what show, when and where.  So with this data, for a brief time, experiments were done on box or home specific advertising.

house 3
Edgemoor Home, Wood, Granite, Leather, $1.8

For example:

Based on your personal data it is determined that you could afford a Mercedes Benz, local Mercedes Benz lots would send their ads to your cable box, inserted onto the channels you watch, potentially saving MB money by targeting the “right kind” of client.

If your credit card data showed that you ordered pizza delivery more than average, then pizza advertisements for companies near you that deliver, would appear on your TV.

house 1
Chuckanut Home,View From the Deck, $2.4

Advertising that reacts to your current habits and buying abilities within the parameters of your demographic.  Boring.

Sitting in the beta results meeting, I remember thinking that box-specific advertising was wrong.  It was wrong  to deny people a “Goldilocks” experience; finding out whats too small, too big or just right for them.

What It Really Means

Dreams are not a demographic, they are more like a fingerprint.  A hungry person, on a tight budget, might dream about food, but what do they really need?  A Marie Callender Pot Pie?  NO!  (Well, maybe, those are good!) That person may need a nicer car that starts every morning, to help get a job that pays better, but dreams of going to school to get a better job, a better life.

How much influence does the media have on our dreams? Should we use things as rewards?

 Is material attainment symbolic of the journey?

What are YOUR dreams?

house 4
French Inspired, $1.5

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

house 2
View From the Kitchen

 “We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” ~Jesse Owens

“All [people] dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous [people], for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”  ~T. E. Lawrence

637181_03
Bellingham Home $2.5, nice yard

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All photos are houses “for sale” as of the date of post from:  Windermere Real Estate

The best house-porn site ever. 

*Data reference:  http://www.city-data.com/city/Bellingham-Washington.html