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

Day 38: Raw Poetry

Northwest Washington is experiencing some rain this week.  Most of us are well equipped for walking in the rain, but if you can find a sunshine break to get in a mile or more of a walk it is perfect!

The monthly poetry discussion group I’ve been apart of since October 2015 is meeting on a weekly basis during the shutdown.  We call it Poetry Club: Pandemic Edition, find us on Facebook.  Somehow we have been discussing the work of Robert Frost for ALL of April.  We got stuck on his work and can’t get off that bus.   The discussions are stimulating, nonetheless, thanks mostly to the host Ron Leatherbarrow, who taught Frost at a collegiate level.

Here is the rough poem I’m sharing with the group for critique.  It’s a poem I found in my writing journal from 2017:

Sawdust
by Shannon Laws

“And, as my way is, I begin to dream, resting my elbows on the desk and leaning out of the window a little,” -John Ashbery

As I stand to look out the windows of the factory,
I wish I did not have to sweep this floor on such
a summer’s Saturday.
I imagine, past the trees and along the waterfront,
people are walking with inner peace.
And I envy them—they are so far away from me!
No one has to worry about working five hours of
overtime to help pay their bills.
And, as my way is, I imagine myself small, a doll
in the hand of a god.
The mill—a toy house and the window fills up
with the freckled face of the child that plays.
If the real world is large and I just a toy, still I would
want to run free.
Freedom is better than shelter and care, I bravely think.
But inward I know I only have what others have given.
So, here I am, under the press of having to shovel a
mound of sawdust into the bin.

 


My Netflix queue is Peaky Blinders, Ozark, Dracula, Outlander, the very silly DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and the original Star Trek with special effects remastered.  Star Trek could be a drinking game; take a shot of tequila every time a woman apologizes for almost being raped.  Oh my gosh, I did not know how sexist that show was!

Have a good day!  Be nice to yourself and those around you!  -Shannon

 

Poetry Club

Poetry Club

Poetry Club Bellingham

Hosted by Ron Leatherbarrow, retired poetry professor, 4th Sat, 10-12, at a Bellingham café. Classic poetry discussed, original poetry read.

Facebook Group Site: https://www.facebook.com/Poetryclubbellingham/

After taking Ron’s Intro to Poetry class Spring quarter I fell in love with this kind, intelligent, antidote-filled instructor.  I’m not the only one.  I organized a Saturday morning coffee follow-up with the other students and Ron; just a one day get-together.  Ron suggested, “How about people bring their own poetry to read, we can discuss a classic poem and maybe meet once a month.  Do you think people would like to do that?”  YES.

Poetry Club is now in it’s third month.  This is how easy it is to start a group.  If you are a writer who is looking for people who also suffer the affliction to write, start a group!  Make it open and public, hold it in a cafe, coffee house, book store, some place with nibbles & drinks. Set rules about giving constructive feedback and let participants know straight up that a “bully” will not be tolerated.  Create a “safe space.”  Writing and sharing is intimate.  Don’t underestimate the power of community!  Plant the seed, water it, and let it grow!

Here are the classic poems we will discuss for December:

 

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim
Fresh-firecoal chestnut falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change;
Praise him.
–Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89)

The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

The shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.
–Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)