Day 65: One Hundred Million Suns

“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.

Another God

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

**

Here is my mood expressed by meme.

 


https://sanjuanislander.com/news-articles/government-news/state/31146/san-juan-county-qualifies-for-a-waiver-to-skip-ahead-to-phase-2-under-new-criteria

Day 45: Secret Socializing

Shower Thoughts: What if Earth is like one of those uncontacted tribes in South America, like the whole Galaxy knows we’re here but they’ve agreed not to contact us until we figure it out for ourselves.

For the data geeks:

Are you experiencing Lockdown Fatigue?  I am.  Somehow I am exhausted.  Everyday living is so much heavier. There was stress in my life prior to the pandemic, but now, EVERYONE around me is also stressed.  Can two negatives create a positive? Sure.  I’m trying to keep to a schedule for sleep, work and get outside, trying to write, and reach out to a friend once a day.  Trying.  It doesn’t always happen, but I think about doing it.  That counts for something, right?

*looking left and right*  …So, want to hear something super secretive? Some secret folks are meeting in secret places and are having secret social parties.  It is not unlike the Speakeasys of prohibition; underground bars that served liquor after it was outlawed.  Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933.  For every action, there is an equal reaction.  Yesterday a social post went out from Washington State Department of Health-

“We’ve been getting reports of “coronavirus parties” in which uninfected people are mingling with #COVID19 positive individuals intentionally to try to contract the virus. Bad idea! Gathering in groups in the midst of this pandemic can be incredibly dangerous and puts people at increased risk for hospitalization and even death. This kind of unnecessary behavior may create a preventable uptick in cases which further slows our state’s ability to gradually re-open.”

Stop the spread and stay home.  It’s hard and it sucks, but just do it.

Here is my current mood expressed in meme.  Take care and be safe. -Shannon

 


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

https://www.facebook.com/WADeptHealth/

Day 43: Negative

Shower Thoughts: It’s adorable we thought 2016 was a terrible year because about 40 famous people died.  

People are comparing 2020 to other years.  Is this the worst?  Maybe.  On a global scale, I would have to say “YES.”  The economic damage worldwide is like nothing we’ve seen.  The extreme pressures on a household to survive AND keep healthy is felt on every block.

Last week I took the COVID-19 test.  It came back negative.  I work with tenants, some of who are high risk for the virus.  Whatcom County has opened up testing for workers like myself.  After announcing the results, a co-worker mentions, “you are negative as of last Wednesday.” Gulp!  What the heck?  We’d need to be tested every day or week?   Wait, is there a Fit-bit app for this? The antibody blood test is what I am really interested in.  I’ve met many people, who, like myself, suspect that they had the virus between the months of January-March before the lockdown began.

Lockdown fatigue is noticeable.  Irritability leading to miscommunication is not uncommon especially with email messages, even video meetings.  I like the philosophy that it is a time of grace and space.  To give it out quickly and in love, to the folks we interact with.  Everyone’s situation is different.  It is easy for me to imagine that a small percentage of my neighbors have 3 to 6 months worth of monthly income saved up in the bank.  Desperate times.  The weight is too much to bear.

I wrote this poem three years ago.  Thinking about it today, looking at my “Apocalypse Shelf”

Apocalypse Pantry
by Shannon P. Laws

I have found the warm caves in the woods
filled them with boxes of mac n’ cheese
tuna fish cans and cheap scented candles
Innumerable goods
A possessed witch is misunderstood
no matter how frugal
I am such a witch
waved my nude arms at the townspeople
walked the streets, survived the shrinking dollar
I have been her kind

 

Here is my current mood expressed by meme.  Take care and be kind. -Shannon

 

Day 4: Stay Home. Stay Healthy.

On March 24th the governor of Washington State declared the “Stay Home. Stay Healthy” mandate.

“It’s time to hunker down in order to win this fight. 
So, tonight, I am issuing a “Stay Home” order to fight this virus. This is Washington’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. This includes a ban on all gatherings, and closures of many businesses, unless those businesses are essential to the healthy functioning of our community, or are able to let employees work remotely from home.”

https://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/stay-home-stay-healthy-address-transcript

I’ve decided to start an online journal, at least one paragraph a day during what I call “the lockdown.” Also, I am challenging myself to daily list the following,  1) an observed joy, 2) a real concern, 3) a personal challenge 4) one success (no matter how small) and 5) a random thought (no matter how silly)

Somehow, my employment luck returned.  Since 2008, I struggled to find a job that offered longevity.  Last spring, I landed two jobs that are listed as essential during the pandemic.  The anchor job is in social services, working with families that are experiencing homelessness, the other is an administrative assistant position with a local Presbyterian church.  Both organizations are a true joy to work for.  The folks are calm headed, skilled, knowledgable, resourceful, dynamic and community-focused—perfect people to work for during a global crisis.

Although I am not dressed like a character in the Road Warrior, I do feel like one from time to time–washing my hands like a warrior! wiping down surfaces like a warrior! Offering 6 feet of social distancing…like a warrior!  You know honestly, leather is easier to wipe down than cotton blends, just saying, if on the other end of all this we emerge draped in, like, leather togas or something, I’d be cool with it.

So, here I go…

Dearest journal,
Day 4 of the lockdown. 48 rolls of toilet paper. Phone on wi-fi to conserve data.

Great gobs of gratitude! My regular paycheck came yesterday.  I am feeling very thankful and fighting the urge to cash it, put it in a sock under the mattress.    I’ve been working from home for my housing job since Monday, March 16th as the organization started to observe a shelter in place policy.  I grabbed a few essential files and my laptop, wiped down my desk with Clorox wipes, covered my pen holder and stapler with tissues, laying them to rest, and drove home.  This week, somehow, I feel busier than usual.  I’m hopping from zoom meetings, webinars, text and email conversations, between two laptops and my cell phone, throughout the day to keep the momentum of projects previously started.  All the organizations I work with are functioning from home offices and somehow–miraculously– it is ALL working.

1) an observed joy- The crabapple tree framed by my bedroom window is showing the earliest green leaflets, bright green dots of spring.

2) a real concern- If the paychecks stop do I have enough food to cover the time between cash on hand is exhausted to unemployment relief arriving?  The problem being the time range between these personal events is unknown; 2 weeks? 3 months? …unknown.

3) a personal challenge- remember to wait to grocery shop after 9:00 a.m.  I hopped into the car to get cream for my coffee this morning about 8:15. In the parking lot, I realized it was the senior/high-risk shop time, went back home.  I have moments when I forget everything has changed.

4) one personal success (no matter how small)- I convinced two cousins and my brother, all living in a county that touches King County, Seattle, to have a zoom conference this Sunday, check-in, share stories, and hopefully,  uplift our spirits.

5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- for future elections, what if people could vote electronically through the pay point interface at the grocery store?


My friend Carla Shafer shared this video.  Her experience and the video moved me.  Please share if you are able:

On May 19, 2012, in Catalonia (Spain) a flash mob formed of local musicians showed up to play the “Ode to Joy” movement from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. You can view it at this link:

I cried as I watched it. I’m never sure what this kind of tears is about, maybe it comes from early childhood fears of being left alone, or maybe I hold some recent suppressed sense of loneliness. And it doesn’t matter. What matters to me is that I feel the feelings as authentic and as a release, and I am not embarrassed or ashamed (another carry-over from childhood).

I am grateful to have music from unexpected places. Lately, I’ve heard the Seattle Symphony’s streaming a free concert, and the Bellingham Symphony shared their dress rehearsal live on-line.

https://www.classicfm.com/composers/beethoven/news/beethoven-9-flashmob/

Youtube:  https://youtu.be/kbJcQYVtZMo

 

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