Day 305: Tattoo

On March 24th the governor of Washington State declared the “Stay Home. Stay Healthy” mandate. Here we are over 300 days later, fatigued, depressed, foggy, frustrated…and now hopeful. Hopeful that the pandemic will end this year, and America can get back to work. The second half of 2020 I began to read the daily “briefings” of American Historian Heather Cox Richardson. Her writings have helped me to place events into a perspective I would not have been able to do so on my own. It’s helped me, might help you, the link is at the bottom of the page.

John Oliver also makes me smile. I like his analogy of last week feeling like a person finishing a marathon, after breaking the ribbon and about to celebrate an official comes up, shakes your hand, and says, “Did you know that one million dogs are euthanized in shelters every day?” Just give us ONE DAY to feel the relief. PLEASE, just one day for those that survived the four year attack on America by Americans, can we have ONE day of hope?

Outside of politics I’ve been thinking about an old friend that passed away a few years ago. Jim joked about being a curmudgeon, but he really was a good-tempered easy-going old guy who had a divine level of dad jokes at the ready. There was an absence of family men in my upbringing. Mostly appeared as unreachable, or two dimensional. Grandpas lived in other states, my father had sleeping fits, and my uncles were loud, swearing, sons of bitches that belched loudly and with great showmanship at the Thanksgiving table upsetting the aunties.
Life has a beautiful way of balancing itself. If you are missing a family relationship, say a sister, parent, or, heck, a whole family, somehow life brings you a family. I do not know how it does it, but it is so welcomed. Jim was welcomed into my life as an adopted grandpa. We met at a poetry open mic. Here is the one photo I have of us, taken at his first book launch.

2015, at Village Books, Fairhaven

He supported my work, greeted me with a smile, asked me what I was up to in my writing world, shared with me what he was marveling at that day. A wonderful gentleman. I believe it would be egotistical of me to think I was special to him because he treated everyone this way. All people and everything about this world were special to him. He passed “into the cosmos” in October 2019. I do not know how much support I gave him, but he helped me more than I was able to ever share or express to him.

My poem “Leaf Tattoo” was one of his favorites. Often when I see a leaf tattoo or now, the little buds of a new leaf on the branches, I am reminded of his kindness. I’m thankful for people like Jim. I’m glad he appeared in my life, and for other “adopted” family that visited, albeit, only for a short time. They are true treasures.

Leaf Tattoo
You can you feel it
In my city
The change of air
as wind folds in
fall’s weather.

Orange leaves appear on
the sidewalks of Holly Street.
No worms to dance them back to soil.

Cement laden, laid on
the roadside in random patterns leave
a tattoo, imprinted on the stone.
Five pointed stars
a tree hand
pressed by feet and rain
bleed orange ink for all to see.

By winter the marks wash away
By spring, bright green babies wave
at us from their mother’s arm
borne back into our memory.

Photo by Sarah Mae, Seattle, WA, on Unsplash

_______________________________________

https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/

Day 279: Confessions of a Sus

I play Among Us.  My name is “poptart”.  You may wonder why a 52 year old woman would want to play a real-time murder mystery set on a space ship with the prepubescent of our population,  but you’ve no need, I will tell you why I do it.  I’ve entered a very specific time in my life where I gain great satisfaction defeating children in games of deceit and strategy.  Today, however, those raggamuffins booted me out of two games in less than 30 minutes.   Don’t they have better things to do like Google history homework answers or something? I crashed on Pink’s argument that she couldn’t be the killer because “I’m only 8.”  If she’s 8, then I’m 8.  Ridiculous argument!  That pink flower in your hair only makes you more creepy, PINK!

It is 6:30 p.m. as I begin to write and I want it to be 6:30 a.m. tomorrow.  At that time I will have things to do: wake up, catch the days headlines, take a shower, have breakfast, get dressed then go to work.  When I’m at work I’ll have even MORE things to do.  Between now and tomorrow I have TWELVE hours to do something with.  At least 8 hours of that can be used for sleeping.  During COVID I’ve tested my sleeping abilities AKA: time travel.  I can fast forward about 3-5 hours at a time with an elongated blink of an eye …which is really what sleep is, one long blink. Rarely can I make it more than 12 hours in one undisturbed lay-down.  The longest since March is a good, very nice and needed 10 hours in bed.  Sleeping when bored is the highlight and delete of unwanted hours.  The “>>2x” button on your Blueray.  

What the heck will I do for 12 hours?

I started one adult task; reading a self-help book, “The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child” by Nancy Newton Verrier. 

The Primal Wound is a book which is revolutionizing the way we think about adoption. In its application of information about pre- and perinatal psychology, attachment, bonding, and loss, it clarifies the effects of separation from the birth mother on adopted children. In addition, it gives those children, whose pain has long been unacknowledged or misunderstood, validation for their feelings, as well as explanations for their behavior. Since its original publication in 1993, The Primal Wound has become a classic in adoption literature and is considered the adoptees’ bible. The insight which is brought to the experiences of abandonment and loss will contribute not only to the healing of adoptees, adoptive families, and birth parents, but will bring understanding and encouragement to anyone who has ever felt abandoned.

A friend loaned me the book.  We are both adopted children. The book helps you work through the emotional trauma of abandonment all adoptees experience.  She recommends it highly. It will be a tough read.  About 10 minutes in I begin to cry a little. 

The sun set at 4:21pm today.  I should have gone for a walk, but I didn’t. 

Tomorrow will be a better day.

‘effin Pink

Disposal

The other day at work I had the unusual job of sorting through donated Christmas decorations.  The donations came from the husband of a woman that supported the organization. She, unfortunately, passed away over the summer.  The widower was now in a convalescent center. A friend of his helped him collect their old Christmas decorations and deliver them to us to be donated to families in our housing program.  It was shared that this gesture of giving was in honor of her love for Christmas and desire to help others. Very kind.

Late Friday afternoon I set up a staging table to sort through the five boxes of decorations, dividing them up into containers for delivery later that day. Some items were in better shape than others. With each item I wondered, perhaps, it held a special place in someone’s heart and memory. These were precious to someone at one time.

A couple of times I felt myself getting spooked out by it, I’ll be honest. However, reason dominated the afternoon.  Decorations are not HOLY items that require special handling.  They are not Mezuzah’s for example; old or broken Mezuzahs MUST NOT be thrown away but buried.

“Even though it is the scroll that is the mitzvah, the case also becomes holy because it is used for a Mitzvah. Therefore the case should be brought to a genizah – that is a place where holy items are brought to be buried in the Jewish cemetery.”

The embroidered caricature ornaments of Mr. and Mrs. Clause or a broken snowglobe with a water-bubbled Frosty, arms full of presents, do not require special disposal like sacred communion wine and baptismal water.  Leftover blessed communion wine and the vessels used for serving MUST be washed in a sink that empties out into the ground.

“A piscina is a shallow basin placed near the altar of a church, or else in the vestry or sacristy, used for washing the communion vessels. The sacrarium is the drain itself. Anglicans usually refer to the basin, calling it a piscina. For Roman Catholic’s sacrarium is a “special sink used for the reverent disposal of sacred substances. This sink has a cover, a basin, and a special pipe and drain that empty directly into the earth, rather than into the sewer system”

Religion fascinates me.  All these different rules, detailed rules, stifling rules, people make up for the brand distinction.  Of course, at the root of many religious rules is the respect for the object and what it represents, such as the Word of God or the Blood of Christ.  So, how do you categorize a ripped 1978 cross-stitched fabric wall banner of a geriatric man with fancy cherry-red lips proclaiming  “HO! HO! HO!” that hung on a wall 23 days a year for 42 years?  CAN it be thrown away, in the trash, to the landfill?  Why yes it can—and it does.

The newsletter for Peninsula Sanitary Service, Inc (PSSI) and the Stanford Recycling Center located in Redwood City, CA, USA, reported Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage or about 1 million extra tons per week!

PSSI and SRC suggest some rules: reduce, reuse.  

If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.

It is a delight for all non-profits to receive donations of any size shape and configuration. After going full circle in my thoughts I was happy that this family decided to donate their Christmas decorations to less fortunate families.  Standing over my staging table, I wondered at the stuff, so much stuff. I sorted through each shoebox, bag, and large plastic containers of Christmas ribbon and plastic snowflakes, Christmas candleholders, Christmas ornaments made of glass, plastic, ceramic, tinsel and yarn, Christmas tree toppers, Christmas banners, tree garland, Christmas wreaths for the table and front door, Christmas votives and Christmas coffee cups.  Whoever wanted a bag of evenly distributed items, they was ready.  I tossed out the few old and broken and passed forward future memory makers.

Here are some 2020 ornaments that caught my attention. Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas! Hope you are safe, warm, and bubbled up with folks you can tolerate.

Did he ever imagine while in medical school THIS would happen?
There are MANY like this, but the description -lol! “Commemorative 2020 Flickering Dumpster Fire Ornament – Limited Edition Christmas Gift
F-Bombs? YES! I dropped many of these throughout the year and well, the last four years TBH.
No thanks, I hate it.
RGB remembered
This year is not a shining star, and I don’t want to forget it. 2021 is a steep hill for countries, cities, towns, neighborhoods, and families to climb. We will never be ‘normal’ again. This year changed the world because it changed people, challenged us, hurt us all over. Let’s build something great from the ashes & rubble.

*******

Sources
https://mezuzahstore.com/blogs/mezuzah-blog/2719082-how-to-dispose-of-a-mezuzah-case

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piscina

https://lbre.stanford.edu/pssistanford-recycling/frequently-asked-questions/frequently-asked-questions-holiday-waste-prevention

https://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/product_view/AccidentallyPerfect/19122711/_f_bomb_2020_holiday_ornament

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-54878910

TY TAEM!

I’m very excited to have a small collection of my poems published in The Abstract Elephant Magazine this month. It’s such a beautiful magazine with an ideal mission. Please visit it sometime soon.

The Abstract Elephant Magazine is an interdisciplinary, digital publication dedicated to understanding the issues of the human condition through the arts, the sciences, and philosophy. This magazine began with the intention to create a space for comparative endeavors and interdisciplinary research since our basic belief is that improvement in the human condition takes place in open dialogue and debate.”

Check out my work here: https://abstractelephant.com/2020/11/23/before-after-poems-quarantine-covid-19-shannon-laws/

Thank you!

Photo by Tim Oun on Unsplash

Day 230: No Place to Lament

But O For the Touch of a Vanished Hand, 1888, Walter Langley. In 1882, Langley settled in Newlyn, Cornwall. The subjects of his paintings were typically Cornish fishermen and their families. The title is taken from the Tennyson poem ‘Break Break Break’.

As you may know, I often record a rough draft of a poem on my phone when inspiration strikes. This morning I revisited some of my recordings from the year. I’d like to offer the original recording and the poem (draft) that came from it.

This recording touched me. I forgot about this day and I’m thankful I took the time to hit record. Please note that I use a hands-free phone system in the car.
This recording was made in a safe & legal manner.

No Place to Lament

August 20, 2020, day 157 of the U.S. Pandemic

Yesterday I thought I was going to have a meltdown
an honest to goodness meltdown
I needed to cry
to have a good cry

Every so often I need to do this

There are times when the weight of my world is felt
When the lack of things I need is noticed
and I want to cry
a good cry
Not just any kind of cry
but a true wailing
Where my face becomes a waterfall
I transcend to trance
Weighted emotions leave your body
through the antenna of outstretched arms
Become a blubbery mess of emotion prepared to
exclaim at the pinnacle of a moment
Poised with a justified invocation, complaint, request,
expression of confidence, and vow of praise
to the Lord That Fixes Everything!

The when is now
the place…
I do not have

At my apartment
a neighbor would hear and complain
In my car
eyes blurred by tears cannot see the road
At work
Security cameras capturing me
beating my chest could cost me my job
“She’s unstable. She must be replaced”
In the woods
If I cry out, alone to moan, and
demand justice, preach to the trees—
no, a hiker will come by
call the police reporting,
“There is a woman in the woods who sounds
like she’s being beaten! Protect us!”

So, I do not lament
I keep it inside,
except…

sometimes, at night
a little lament leaks
out my eyes
onto the pillow
quietly
softly
and no one is
none the wiser

###

Today is day 230 of the lockdown in Washington State. Thank you for the likes and for continuing to reach out.
–keep creative,
Shannon

Poem: The 27th Day

too funny!

The 27th Day
Most of the evil in this world is done by people with good intentions.
-T.S. Eliot

Getting out of my car today I noticed a bee.
A large and fuzzy bumblebee slowly moving its legs
on the parking lot blacktop of my apartment building.

I saw a video once where a person found a honey bee in distress
gave it a little sugar water and it flew away happy.
I thought I would do the same for this fellow-creature.

I raced inside, grabbed a small bowl, and quickly concocted
a love potion of room temperature filtered water
with a pinch of raw, all-natural sugar into the bowl

Without saying a word I stepped up along its side, my feet
ten times its length, my silence like the voice of God shaking
mountains into the sea. A front bee-leg lifted up in proclamation-

STOP! Do not step on me!

I gave it a little at first, pouring my potion near its mouth, then watched
and waited. I looked for movement in the folded cellophane blanketed atop
the black and yellow body. A black thin tongue darted in and out of the puddle.

The rescue a success, I went inside and continued with my evening.
I was quiet about my good deed. The next day I saw it. Flattened. In line with a neighbor’s back tire. Inches from the stain of the dried sweetened water.

The bee did not fly away in search of flowers to bounce on. It did not sleep as I slept, with lighter shoulders knowing everything was reconciled between bee and human. What did I do wrong?

Perhaps it was evil to intervene. Perhaps I poured sugar water onto the ground to restored life, perhaps I gave a dying bee its last drink.

My Walk

This evening I went out for a walk. I walked four blocks in one direction turned right two blocks then came back to my home. It was colder than I was dressed for. Winter is coming.
I’m quietly thankful this evening. It is unexplainable. The Dalai Lama said, “Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” Some days it is easier to defend the inner peace layer than others.
I’m wondering when during a casual conversation three American friends will look at each other and say something like, “Remember when everyone had to wear masks?”

Thank you for visiting my site. Please stay safe. Take care-
Shannon

Faces I Make Under My Mask

Celeste Headlee, in 2016: At this moment we are more polarized, more divided than at any point in history
2020: Hold my beer…

September I noticed a shift. I’m still trying to put my finger on it. Perhaps those folks with school-aged kids in the home had their Stress Level knob turn to the right about five notches? That could be it. America is also inching its way closer to the election time. Also, the air is slowly getting colder and our nights getting longer. I wonder if by January I’ll board up my ground floor apartment, bust through to the roof through my neighbor’s bedroom to build up a makeshift roof fortress a’la Walking Dead. There is an anticipation in the air. A tension. It manifests in various ways I encounter daily. Folks driving distracted. Folks having problems talking clearly or remembering what was said a few minutes prior. Folks are having problems listening consistently throughout a full meeting or conversation. Opinions these days have sharp edges. We cut each other discussing the wildfire smoke in the air, that a favorite store shut down, or about wearing masks.

2020 summer/autumn matching
mask and outfits at D.H. Gate

THESE LIPS ARE MADE FOR MOVING

One day when I was having a conversation with someone about something I can’t remember, I caught my lips moving unconsciously. I wondered, “Do lips have a mind of their own under the mask? Is this something my brain wanted my lips to do all these years? Did social pressure keep my lips on lock-down? Is my face free to be itself?” This was an interesting conversation. Much more interesting than whatever the person I was staring at was trying to tell me about. I’m sure I moved my lips prior to the COVID Mandate but THIS animated?

The top lip curled under itself like when Peter Brady was practicing “Pork chops and applesauce.” for his drama class. Then they moved in and out over and over; out to fish lips then into a flat smile. My cheeks were jealous and began to flex altering left to right. …and now back to pork chops and applesauce. It was like my face was doing exercises under the privacy of three layers of cloth.

I hope and wish for your lips to be free and wild as each lip dreams to be.
Below is my current mood expressed in a meme.

Take care of yourself,
Shannon

Hello Again & Election Predictions

Hello, I’m back.  Did I miss anything?

On August 8th I took my blog down while I submitted a collection of poems to publishers for a chapbook publication.  I’m happy to report a lovely digital magazine picked it up.  Well, not the whole collection as submitted.  They selected 6 of the 23 poems in the book, (What is that…about 26% of the book?) –and no hard copies, just published online.  Not exactly what I wanted but it turns out it was extremely helpful.  I believe they helped me identify the strongest poems in the collection and exposed the fact that the collection is not complete.

Smoke from wildfires obscure the Space Needle and the Seattle skyline on September 12, 2020 in Seattle. (Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)

The collection is a story arc of a blue-collar factory worker’s life before and after the lockdown.  What does a body do during a pandemic?  Working-class folks equate moving constantly with productivity.   Stay home? Stay safe?  Arrghhh!  My character starts to slow down and become hyperaware of all kinds of stuff.  They consider the cruelty of placing plants in pots,  wonder what the air in other homes smells like, and face the agonizing reality of apartment living with a neighbor that uses a very loud blender. This character’s journey is not complete.  I believe it is just beginning.

The working title was a bit complex.  I found the word “Desultor.”  Desultor is a circus performer that bounces and flips from one horse to the next.  It was a nod to the Five Horses of the Apocalypse and us regular-folk trying to keep our feet steady, while wave after wave of crappy stuff happens.  I’m not going to use that title, so if you want it, go for it.  🙂

Remembering the Time RBG Put Stephen Colbert Through His Paces, and Her Gym Routine, on Late Show, 2018. RIP RBG (link below)

September has arrived.  Did you sense a change?  A shift in the air is swarming over my city.  Children going back to school, kind of, and this extra bit of anxiety begins to hover as we all compete on Comcast for fast internet.  Thank goodness for 5G right?  ‘Effers.  Interesting it rolled out at the first of the year don’t you think?  Although I love a good conspiracy, EVERYTHING feels like a false front to me these days. It’s even difficult to watch my man Colbert.  The Trump jokes sting a bit.  Somehow, it’s no longer funny that our leader is a rage-induced baffoon.

In my work life more people are physically coming into each other’s space trying to do various jobs that demand physical attention, such as getting a building open and compliant to Phase 2 and 3 of the State regulated guidelines.  It is like an awkward ballet.  Social weirdness and outburst of anger are witnessed.  It will take a while for us to learn how to dance with each other again.

2020 Housing Bubble & Market Crash

I was keeping myself up to date on this anticipated housing bubble burst and market crash prediction, expected to hit within the next 3-9 months.  Anyways, I stumbled across this wild video, that I need to share with someone, anyone.

Dr Sulabh Jain of Chariot Palmistry, http://www.chariotpalmistry.com , is an Indian-Australian gentleman who predicts political and stock market trends using the art of Indian Palm Reading.  Wow.  I did not know this was a thing.  I will gently leave this video here and let you decide what to make of his predictions.

I’m glad to be back writing online again.  Working through the Pandemic has been stressful.  I’m showing serious signs of fatigue.  A great book fell into my lap.  I’m reading a book by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, a trauma social worker and educator, called “Trauma Stewardship”.  If you are a caregiver in ANY compacity I highly recommend it.

Take care.  Sending you hugs this day. -Shannon

 

 

 


Photo credit: https://www.vulture.com/2020/09/ruth-bader-ginsburg-puts-colbert-through-her-gym-routine.html

Laura van Dernoot Lipsky

 

Splash Down

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.”

A diagram of Crew Dragon’s return to Earth.SpaceX/Twitter, 2020

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…

Have a good day-
SPL

 

 


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_El_Paso_shooting

https://www.inverse.com/innovation/spacex-falcon-9-stunning-images

https://www.vox.com/2019/11/18/20970841/duncan-oklahoma-walmart-shooting-gun-violence

Thank You Red Wheelbarrow

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
saving lives.

Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel
Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel

 


https://www.history.com/news/ruth-bader-ginsburgs-landmark-opinions-womens-rights-supreme-court

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.”