The Ugly Truth

Epiphany at 6:53am

So in the mid-2010s, I lived with a boyfriend. We moved in together after dating for about a year. I was looking for a place to live and he says, “move in with me.” So I did.

You learn a lot more about a person when you live with them. This guy had a massive DVD collection including the FULL season of “Friends”. He loved that show. I also learned that I was his first steady girlfriend in over 5 years. I was impressed that he worked two jobs and saved his money to reach a lifetime goal of owning a home by the time he was 40. He stopped going out, stopped socializing to reduce the temptation to spend money to reach this goal. He oversimplified his life; work, food, sleep and watched “Friends” and his other DVDs.

This is a new age in America. It is difficult for people under 40 to get into a home in most moderately populated areas, such as Washington State. Many that do make it into a home generally are a two-person income couple and live above their means on credit. Everything is expensive and wages are not going up anytime soon.

In a 2017 Harvard Study…

“In the study, the researchers determined affordability by people’s ability to pay 30 percent of their income or less on the cost of housing, which may include their mortgage, insurance, and taxes.

Homeownership keeps declining, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies’ detailed and comprehensive 2017 State of the Nation’s Housing report, in part because home prices in many markets have continued to go up while wages have not kept pace. In 2016, “the homeownership rate fell to 63.4 percent, marking the 12th consecutive year of declines.””

I knew what he did was difficult. I was impressed by his focus and hard work. It was also very generous of him to share his home with me. We had a nice relationship and remain distant, but friends to this day.

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Remember this challenge “The Ugly Face Shelfie”

Here is the core of it. A few times during our relationship he’d occasionally make comments about my looks. He’d say, “you know sometimes you look like yourself, and other times you, you look…different.” When I inquired how and in what way, he responded um, as kindly as possible I suppose, sometimes I didn’t look so good, just different. Here it is 2021 and I still think about those comments. What was his perspective? What did he mean I don’t look like myself?

There it was. At 6:53 am this morning. An answer to a nine-year-old question landed on my head! My vanity badmintoned for ten years–am I beautiful but sometimes appear ugly, or am I ugly but occasionally look beautiful? I am human, so are other humans, we are all three-dimensional beings ugly and beautiful at the same time…depending on your perspective. By perspective, I mean exactly– where your eyeballs are in relationship to my face.

The human eye is better than any camera. The human organic experience is a higher definition than any sitcom. The Real Real is both beautiful and ugly, not homogenized drama processed for your entertainment.

How camera lenses work, photo credit: bounding dirtier piped Wombat
Finding your perfect angle

All the online meetings the working class are enduring during the pandemic, I wonder will our perceptions change to a 2-D memory format? The camera lens mimics the human eye. It goes where a human can take it. Video composition is the art of framing the photo to correspond with a mode or message. There are 7 rules for better shot composition and framing:
The Rule Of Thirds.
Leading Lines.
Leading Room & Head Room.
Size Equals Power.
Break the Rules.

These are rules we don’t live by in our body, only in composition.

I wonder, perhaps, just maybe, if a person watches too much TV, too many hours on video games, attends only Zoom meetings, lives alone, stops seeing friends in real life…could they forget what normal 3-D interaction is like? In real life, the other bodies you interact with are not in perfect frames, with mood lighting, or wearing costumes that easily identify their personality. I believe my boyfriend was in transition. He was coming out of a dark five years that stripped him of his social skills. It diminished his perspectives to the point that he was shocked when his girlfriend expressed an infinite amount of expression. Perhaps as we slowly work our way out of the pandemic more studies and information will be produced regarding the anticipated awkward action of “being normal” again.

Humans are infinite and complex. We live in a world with space and time. We dance around and with each other as we should.

Hope you are having a good week. Washington State was moved into Phase 3 of a 4 phase COVID plan. Do you see the light at the end of the tunnel? I do. I returned to the gym. After my first week, I already feel the endorphins back in action.
Take care of yourself- Shannon

Day 30: Zoom Fatigue

Yesterday, Washington State entered its 4th week of lockdown.  On Tuesday, March 24th our governor declared that everything but essential businesses close and for citizens to shelter in place TFN.  Weeks prior folks and businesses started to practice social distancing.

So here we are.  What can we say?  What can we do?  We can stay creative, read more, exercise, work if we have it.  I heard of a new sensation called “Zoom Fatigue”.

Your screen freezes. There’s a weird echo. A dozen heads stare at you. There are the work huddles, the one-on-one meetings, and then, once you’re done for the day, the hangouts with friends and family.  Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we’re on video calls more than ever before – and many are finding it exhausting…”
Being on a video call requires more focus than a face-to-face chat, says Petriglieri. Video chats mean we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language; paying more attention to these consumes a lot of energy. “Our minds are together when our bodies feel we’re not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhausting. You cannot relax into the conversation naturally,” he says

Do you think you might have ill feelings for a person with slow internet?  A study says yes, yes you are judgemental.

Silence is another challenge, he adds. “Silence creates a natural rhythm in a real-life conversation. However, when it happens in a video call, you became anxious about technology.” It also makes people uncomfortable. One 2014 study by German academics showed that delays on phone or conferencing systems shaped our views of people negatively: even delays of 1.2 seconds made people perceive the responder as less friendly or focused.

This is a time of grace, allowing people more space, more time.  Be kind to the folks you encounter during your day.  I’m learning, a little kindness goes a long way right now.

Here is a poem from my first book Madrona Grove


Morning sunlight, sun low stretch shadows long,
twinkle through the branches
that sway in the current, bath me, please
Stronger the light
Harsher the dark
Sun cannot be everywhere
nature’s landscape prevents it
God made or not

Crow flies by
nods it’s head
as if it remembers me
Your life so simple Crow
Please brood over my features
A wink when you fly by will let me know
They are fixed in your mind

The Sun may not always find me
Yet your wings move you amongst the penumbras
and illumination
Your nod,
Crow, brings me comfort for somewhere, by someone
I am remembered

My current mood expressed in a meme.  Take care of yourself, be kind to all.  -Shannon

“The reason Zoom calls drain your energy”, By Manyu Jiang22nd April 2020

*Copyright 2020 Laws, Shannon. Madrona Grove: Poems Written Under the Canopy. Chickadee Productions. Kindle Edition.

Day 20: High Expectations

Happy to report, a voice inside my head has been quieted.  It wanted me to achieve an unreasonable amount of success during the lockdown.  It told me how easy it was to work from home, finish my short stories, loose weight, eat better, get more exercise, clean every inch of my apartment and grow spiritually during this intense time in world history.  It sounded like, after the Stay Home, Stay Healthy mandate was over, I’d be as Christ leaving the tomb victorious over death and writer’s block! Well, voice in my head, I hate to break it to you, but I am not Christ,  I am human, although I’m a pretty good human, I DO HAVE LIMITS, for cryin’ in the night!  To achieve Christ-likeness during these 2-4 months of a pandemic would be a small miracle for sure.  So,  I say “Good day, sir.  Leave me to my textured life of layered excuses.  harumph!”

On a different note, here is the first draft of a poem I wrote about my house plant:

Common House Plant

Terra cotta prisoners
I have questions for you.
Gloved hands bind you
to bagged soil, force-feed
you vitamins and faucet water.
When roots touch potted boundaries
tell me, do you scream?


1) an observed joy- this morning I enjoyed St. James Presbyterian’s Easter service live-streamed on Zoom, (the music was especially uplifting) and my “regular Sunday morning check-in” call with a good friend.  It was really nice.

2) a real concern- The high cost of food in my area is still a concern. I decided to shop for fresh veg and fruit this Wednesday.

3) a personal challenge- reread “Why Poetry” by Matthew Zapruder

4) one personal success (no matter how small)- As of today, all my regular bills are paid.

5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- I haven’t had a haircut since December 2019. Washington State, the next time you shut us down, could we get maybe a months warning?

Here is my current mood illustrated by a meme.
I wish you, wherever you are, good health, peace in your hearts and courage for the challenges you face.