Virtual Meet-Up

I did my first virtual meeting last week with a group called “The Quarantine Book Club” (I first told you about them in my “Submitting” post last week.) I stumbled upon them on Instagram. They are a group of readers, writers and designers, all around cool people who are hosting virtual meet-ups on Zoom with writers who are promoting books, or essayists and others like them. I stumbled upon them because one of my favorite writers, Megan Stielstra, was the guest. The tickets are $5 through EventBright, and I will post their events, website, and other links at the bottom of the page if you are interested in learning more. But for now I want to tell you about the hour I spent with 55 really nice, really honest, really empathetic and compassionate people at my desk in my pajamas.

I was nervous when I first logged onto Zoom, so nervous in fact that I didn’t even connect with video. That is an option you have. You can just stick a picture of yourself up, or it will just show your name. I chose this pic of Jackson and me as my image:

I couldn’t decide what I was nervous about, I think it was just the idea of meeting new people, yes, even virtually. I did feel a little better when Megan’s sweet face popped up, but I was still like, “Oh my goodness, what if I do or say something crazy and someone notices me?” So yeah, I sat in relative obscurity. For the record, I also didn’t ask any questions (though there were a so many for her we didn’t even get to them all), all I did was thank them at the end in the little chat bar, but I did listen, something I am really good at, and I did soak up some inspiration from one of my favorite writers and some really awesome new friends! (For real, some of us connected on Insta afterward.) And although I took four pages of notes just from listening, these were the big takeaways for me:

Because although Megan is a great essay writer, we didn’t really want to know about how to write an essay, we were all wondering instead, how you an keep writing, how you can survive, in a times like today. And she spent a lot of time telling us how she thought we could do that, how she was trying to do that, and how we as a community must do that. She talked about fear and sadness. About how we can service our communities with our writing. About how it’s okay to be down on the ground. It’s okay because there are people are around us who are not on the ground when we are, and we need to rely on those people, because one day we will be upright and walking, and our friends will be down there and they will need us like we did them. Really. Truly.

Don’t get me wrong, she did talk about writing. She gave some great tips on how to find where you should be submitting. She encouraged us all to get our words out there, but when one woman was unmuted to ask her question, and was crying alone in her bedroom because Megan had just given us all permission to be scared and sad, we all took a long breath in. We were all this woman. Or we have been. Or we will be. And it is scary and it is sad, and we feel bad about it, even though there just isn’t a need to.

I don’t know, listen, I’m still trying to wrap my head around all I learned in one hour with 55 strangers on the internet. I’m sure something good will come from it, but in the meantime here is the link to the Quarantine Book Club again, and here is an essay from Megan Stielstra’s book “The Wrong Way to Save Your Life” and here is a list of my favorite Indie Bookstores you can buy her, or any of the cool, fun, new books from. I’m sure you have your own Indie Booksellers too, but if not, check out Indie Bound.

Quarantine Book Club Twitter

Megan Stielstra Essay “Here is My Heart”

Some of my favorite Indie Booksellers, the kind of places you can get lost in for hours. Most of them are closed now except to online orders, but most are offering free delivery right now too. And if you’re ever in any of these areas, check out these fun shops, I’ve been to all of them and can vouch for their cold-hard coolness!

Okay, take care of yourself and each other.

M.

2011/2012 Tornado Season

I missed a real opportunity this year, it being a Leap Year and all, to share about the “Leap Year” tornado that happened in the Midwest several years ago. I should have shared this story on February 29th, instead I shared about the Oakland Cemetery. I mean, I don’t regret that, but I will admit I missed an opportunity at a righteous theme. Oh well, such is life. Tornadoes, okay. Y’all know we live in Atlanta now, but we haven’t always. In fact, Jerimiah and I were both born in Kansas (Rock Chalk!). In our early 20s we moved about four hours south of Kansas City, to Table Rock Lake in Southern Missouri. Right before Jackson was born we moved into Branson, Missouri which was considered moving “to town” by our family and friends. Yes, that’s how rural it is there. We lived in the Branson area until 2014 when we moved to Lake Norman in North Carolina (Charlotte ‘burbs). This is to say that we spent a good ten years in Southern Missouri, and if you have ever watched the show Ozark, well then, no need to move to Southern Missouri. It’s pretty fucking accurate. BTW, Ozark is filmed in Georgia. Yep, yep. At Lake Allatoona, which is about an hour from where we live now. Funny world.

Anywho, we were living in Southern Missouri in the summer of 2011 and the spring of 2012 when a series of tornadoes devastated the Midwest. That whole year, from summer to summer, was a mess of crazy weather. It also happened to the be the worst year of our lives (the year we lost our daughter) and it happened to coincide with my father-in-law’s house being destroyed by an EF5 tornado in Joplin, Missouri and then Jerimiah’s office being destroyed by the Leap Day Tornado.

You might remember the catastrophic Joplin tornado. It was the seventh deadliest tornado in US history and the costliest single tornado at 2.8 billion. It started out as a small storm on the Kansas/Missouri border then turned slowly turned into the EF5 with over 200 mph winds. Here is a picture of the path to show its shear size from the Army Corp of Engineers.

My father-in-law was in a different town the evening it struck, but we didn’t know until hours later whether or not he was okay because all the cell service was down in that area, so all we could do was watch and wait. The next day Jerimiah and I left Jackson with friends, and drove the three or so hours to Joplin to help his dad dig his belongings out. I was about three months pregnant at the time, so I didn’t do much digging, but I was able to come along with bottles of water, diapers, and non-perishable food to give to people who needed it. It was one of the single worst things I have ever seen. Large semi-trucks had been tossed around. A young boy was sucked out of his SUV never to be seen or heard from again. People trapped in Walmart and Home Depot. People pinned under cars. The hospital, St. John’s Medical Regional Center was devastated. Whole neighborhoods were flattened. Even this Kansas girl, who had grown up standing out in the field to watch as the tornado approached, was speechless. I’d never seen such devastation and haven’t since then.

Cars piled on top of each other in the hospital parking lot (NPR)
Ariel view of the hospital (NOAA)

The following pictures are from my father-in-law’s neighborhood, which was leveled, for the most part. The first picture is his neighbors house across the street. Then looking down his street. The third picture shows Jerimiah looking over what remained of his dad’s garage. You can see his motorcycle wheel in the rubble. He’s standing next to an old Camaro his dad was rebuilding. The last picture is 26th street in Joplin two days after the tornado touched down.

That following spring the Leap Day Tornadoes touched down in the Great Plains and the Ohio River Valley.

The Leap Day Tornadoes began on February 28th and lasted until late on the 29th in 2012. Joplin was just in the rebuilding phase, and we all were holding our collective breath that they would not be hit again. They weren’t. This time the storms went east.

We were living in the city of Branson and all three of us slept soundly through the tornado sirens. This was partly because Jerimiah and I are just used to tornado sirens. It’s just a regular part of life in the Plains. One you sometimes take for granted. But the next morning we were shaken awake by phone calls from friends and family checking in. From Jerimiah’s office saying there was no point in coming in, they had no windows.

The Leap Day Tornado in Missouri was much less chaotic than the Joplin tornado, but still did plenty of damage. By the time it hit Branson it was already a low-end EF2 tornado, first touching down in Kimberling City. At the Port of Kimberling Marina, four large boat docks were damaged or destroyed and nearly 150 boats were damaged or sunk. In Branson there was severe damage in the downtown area and on “The Strip”, including damage to 14 theaters and attractions, 25 restaurants, 21 hotels, two shopping centers, and several small businesses including Jerimiah’s. Over 100 homes and mobile homes were damaged or destroyed in the Branson area, and many trees and power lines were downed. The tornado continued east of town through more rural areas before dissipating. 37 people were injured.

We went out that day, but only managed one picture. A picture of “The Landing” on Lake Taneycomo, where we had spent many a fun nights in our twenties with its shopping, and bars, and live bands.

The rest of the day was spent helping clean up in and around Jerimiah’s office, which had papers flying down The Strip. Jackson was amazed by all that he saw, and scared. This started his obsession with severe weather, a topic he still enjoys reading and learning about.

KY3, the local news in Springfield, Missouri did a flashback of The Leap Day Tornado in Branson with many more pictures, and the events that led to this chaotic day. I’m sharing some of their pictures below.

So there it is, the story of the worst tornado season we can remember. I have been meaning to share this story since Leap Day, but in light of what happened in Nashville and around the South lately, I kept stopping myself. But the truth of the matter is, this is the truth. And if you don’t know about tornadoes and how they work, and who they impact, and how dangerous they are, maybe now you do. I’m sharing some more links about tornadoes and how to stay safe in them below.

Thanks for reading.

Stay safe out there.

M.

CDC-Tornado Safety

Weather Wiz Kids

Understanding the Fujita Scale

You're Killin' Me Smalls

Jackson is playing baseball* for the first time since he played t-ball at age four. Back then it was adorable and exciting. Back then it didn’t matter so much about the game, but about teaching simple skills like wearing a glove, and not picking flowers, and cheering on your teammates. I remember the first time someone hit the ball and the whole team went running to it to “catch it first” and the batter was so excited he ran out to the infield to celebrate with them, rather than to going to first base. Seriously, seriously cute.

The league we are playing on isn’t a competitive, year-round, $5,000 league. Thankfully we found one sponsored by a local church where the parents say things like, “Listen, no one here is going pro.” That’s what I like to hear, because let’s be real, the chances of your kid “going pro” in any sport are the same as my kid getting accepted into MIT and me not having to pay for it, it ain’t gonna happen, and the sooner you realize that, the better the experience is for everyone involved. And trust, I’m not saying this because my kid sucks, cause he doesn’t. He seems to have a natural ability toward baseball, not like soccer, where he had to work at it, and work at it, each season to get just a little bit better. We’ve been practicing in the backyard to get ready for this season for about three weeks now and he’s pleasantly surprised us. He isn’t gonna be the best kid on the team, but he might actually make some good, solid plays this season, and we are excited to see what he does.

All this talk about baseball has brought up all the memories for Jerimiah and me. We didn’t realize how excited we would be when/if Jackson ever decided to play, but we are WAY excited. Remember how I said we’ve been practicing for weeks now. Yeah, we didn’t do that for soccer. He never wanted to, and we never wanted to, and we were like, “ehh.” We like to watch soccer, but not play it. Meanwhile, he’s been running in from school asking to “hit a few balls” in the backyard and I’m super pumped about it.

That’s when Jerimiah and I started to share stories of our baseball/softball days and we blew his mind with how much we played. I even have an old scrapbook filled with pictures, and newspaper clippings from when I was a kid (thanks to my mom for clipping them out each game, and underlining my name, and our coaches for actually writing them up and submitting them for girls’ league softball). For real, we had the best coaches and parents (including my best friend’s dad and sister, who pretty much rocked, even though they made LeeAnne and me run laps when we were messing around). Check this out:

Oh trust, there are more of this bad boys, for several years, this was just the first season I played. But we won’t share them now. They deserve their very own post with accompanying pics.

So this is our first week of Robotics, Honor Band Practice, Baseball Practice, then bed. Our nights are as full as they can get right now, but Jackson is learning some valuable lessons. Sure, he’s learning to square up home plate and “elbows up,” but he also learning about time management, that practice makes progress, and that there are some things you just can’t half-ass. In short, it’s the stuff he’s learning off the field that will pay in dividends. But isn’t that how it usually goes.

Good luck this season to the Braves (Jackson’s team, not the Atlanta Braves, though I guess good luck to them too!) We can’t wait to see how proud you are of yourselves!

M.

*Edit: I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago and then forgot about it when shit hit the fan. I wrote it back when life still felt “normal-ish” and I was optimistic that there would be a baseball season. Turns out the baseball season follows the school calendar, so the chances of us playing this year are slim, but Jackson still likes to practice in the backyard, and for that I am grateful. I still wanted to share this story though, for the reason I write most of this shit, for posterity. But for real, stay in your home, don’t go play baseball with the neighborhood kids.

Internet Trolls

As you know, I’ve had my fair share of trolls over the last year. Matter fact, trolling seems to be a full-time job for some people. You can always tell who they are because they have screen names like TitsMcGee and @BigDickDaddy. Oh, and they are usually white males, not always, but the majority of mine have been. Some are bots from Russia. Had one of those on this here blog the other day. His name was DJT45. He followed me, then when I went to his page it was in all Russian. I quickly deleted him. In my experience it’s always the white guys with red hats that follow like CNN or WaPo and comment in the comment section crazy, straight-outta-left-field-bullshit conspiracy theories. Like why are you even following this “liberal bullshit” anyway? Answer: To troll.

You guys know I had to limit my Facebook time to a tight 15 a couple months back. Part of the problem is that I was reading the comment sections. Big mistake. I’d read say, a NYTimes article about global warming, and then I’d scroll the comment section. I’d come across no short of 100 trolls. People there just to argue and fight. They’d type in all caps: GLOBAL WARMING IS A LIBERAL HOX (they’d usually spell something wrong). Then about ten people would attempt to “school them” and it would just escalate. I usually wouldn’t comment, because I realize the game and I don’t want to play. But sometimes I literally couldn’t help myself. Like when it was a story about the polar bears dying in Antarctica and someone said, “This is all Hillary Clinton’s fault!” Dafuq?

I started to realize, on FB anyway, that some of my own family members are trolls. For sure. They will post a crazy, off-the-wall conspiracy theory meme then try to downplay it with an “LOL” or a smiley face emoticon and be all, “Haha.” But really, really, they want someone to comment. They are trying to start a fight. Engage. Flex their poorly-educated egos. My husband and I used to engage, now we just scroll past, or copy the meme and share it for our friends to laugh at it, or in some cases “unfriend” the ill-informed family member. Because you can do that, y’all! Not sure if you know that, but you can unfriend family members. It doesn’t mean you don’t care about them, or that you aren’t family anymore, it just means you’re hella tired of seeing their ridiculous, one-sided, fear-mongering shit on social media. It helps. Trust, it helps.

Last week I got sucked into the comment section of an Instagram post. I haven’t been limiting my Insta because I can normally control myself there. Plus, it’s a way for me to share pics and not have to log onto FB. Anywho, there I was scrolling the people I follow, a mix of friends, family, old classmates from both my schools, new friends, politicians, and celebrities, and I came across Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley reading a children’s book with her stepdaughter. I love Congresswoman Pressley, and the rest of “The Squad” of young Congresswomen who came to power in 2018. Like, I heart AOC. Anyway, Pressley isn’t my representative, she reps the 7th District in MA. Think: Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and the like. But as I said, I follow her personal account because I think she’s a badass. I also follow other politicians who are not mine, like Mayor Lightfoot in Chicago, Rep. John Lewis (who is the rep for the district next door to me), as well as Lucy McBath (my representative) and other local, state, and federal representatives who I respect.

Okay, so I’m enjoying Rep. Pressley doing a reading of “The Story of Coretta Scott King” by Patricia Pingry, and I’m seeing comments pop up but I’m ignoring them. My son’s school has been doing a “Mystery Reader” since they started virtual learning and I’ve been watching all these wonderful teachers read these adorable kids’ books all week long and I’m rather enjoying it. Jackson is too. So I settle in to watch Pressley and her stepdaughter read, but I can’t stop myself from looking at the comments because one of the first ones is in all caps and it says something like this (I’m paraphrasing): WHY DON’T YOU STOP READING AND DO SOMETHING FOR YOUR DAMN CONSTITUENTS!” Ahh, that was fun. Pressley had responded. She was very nice, explained that she was working to help, but that taking a break to read with her stepdaughter is something she does, so she decided to share with everyone that day in hopes of spreading this good book, and cheering some people up.

Geez, aren’t people the worst sometimes?

Anyway, I scrolled down, knowing it wasn’t safe at this point. And remember this is her personal Insta, not her work one. I scroll, scroll. Then I come to TitsMcGee’s post. Did you think I made that name up? Nah, he’s real. He’s a white dude. Big shocka I know. He comments, simply: “Thanks for wearing a hat.” Seems like no big deal, right? Except that Rep. Pressley has struggled with Alopecia her whole life. She’s has no hair on the top of her head from it. And before about a year ago she wore wigs when she was outside her home. Then she decided to stop. She wanted to bring awareness to the condition, and show support for others who have it, so she stopped wearing wigs. And that made white men upset. For reference, here she is in her official photo and one from an article she did explaining her decision to show her head:

Beautiful, right? Also, a strong, Black woman who has zero fucks to give. So yeah, Tits McGee was none too happy with her.

I regret not taking a screen shot of the conversation that ensued, but I don’t usually do that with my internet trolls, unless they come for me afterward like Crazy McCrazyPants, remember him? So I will do my best to recall the comments for you now.

TitsMcGee: At least she wore a hat.

Some Rando: Do you feel good about coming here just to say that?

Tits McGee: I don’t feel good about anything. Ever. But I can sleep better at night now.

Me: @TitsMcGee you lose sleep over whether or not a woman reading a book with a child is wearing a hat? There seems to be a lot more to lose sleep over nowadays.

Tits McGee: She looks like a comic book villian. (Shrug emoticon)

Me: Ahh, I see @TitsMcGee! You are just scared of powerful women. You should have led with that. I hope you get some rest.

[End Scene]

So that’s it. That’s all that transpired. I went on about my day. It was a good day actually, I adopted a new puppy, whole new post coming about that later this week. And then when I logged into Instagram later that day I was expecting to find that Tits McGee said some more gross stuff. Instead, I found that Rep. Pressley had deleted the whole encounter and followed me on Instagram. No shit! I know you don’t believe me, so I did screenshot that!

In fact, I immediately sent the screenshot to my friend Beth, the only one who I thought would appreciate my excitement, and she did. So there’s that.

I guess for one my “sticking it to the trolls” paid off. But honestly, really, there are some things you can’t just scroll on past. I wish I could, but I’m just not that kind of person. So watch out, trolls, cause now I’m on a troll roll. (That includes you fam and friends!)

M.

Guns and TP

When I first heard that people were hoarding ammo, along with toilet paper, I couldn’t believe it. Like, why tho? Why are you hoarding ammo and buying new guns? Then a family member on FB shared a meme that said something about “Happy Hunting” in terms of shooting people who were possibly, most likely, going to break into their house when “all hell breaks loose” to steal the goods they hoarded for themselves. That’s when I was like, wow. Wow to a couple of things. Wow to the fact that you think it’s okay to say, “Happy Hunting” about human lives, and wow to the fact that you went out and bought enormous amounts of toilet paper or hand sani or bread or whatever it is you are afraid people will try to steal from you. Maybe if you would have left some items on the shelf for your community you wouldn’t be fearful of robbery. And doesn’t this all stem from fear? Yes. Yes is the answer.

Jesus, I bet the psychologists are having a field day with human behavior right now. I mean, I’m no doctor but it all makes sense to me. The idea that your community members will steal from you, the fear, the constant, constant fear, all stems from one place: an angry heart. This is basic psychology 101, y’all. But I’d like to add a lack of education to the mix. Most of the people I know who are hoarding guns and ammo and tp, do not have a college education. Most of them are acting on impulse. Three days in a row they went to buy more toilet paper at Kroger. When it wasn’t there they deduced that it would never be there again (I think because they don’t understand supply and demand, basic economics) and they freaked out and bought ammo instead. Because if the tp isn’t there, what if the ammo won’t be?! Le sigh.

These people obviously don’t even trust their own communities. And should we be living in communities that we don’t trust? Should we know our neighbors’ names? Should we be the ones giving the excess that we hoarded to them, before it even gets to the point where someone might have to consider stealing it? I mean these are big, important questions, y’all. Things we should be considering, instead we are buying toilet paper and ammo.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I wish college was an option for more people. I wish people didn’t say things like, “I didn’t go to college and look at me, I turned out fine.” Is fine all you want to be? Cause if it is, then yeah, you’re “fine.” I mean, you panic bought 127 rolls of tp and bottled water and ammo, but sure, let’s call you “fine.” College should be affordable (or free!) it shouldn’t be looked down on like it is in some sub-groups, it should be the first step out of high school, at least a two-year degree, just to get an idea of how the real world works, because Jesus y’all, a lot of these people just don’t know how the real world works. They claim “street smarts,” but they haven’t ventured past their own street. It’s sad, pathetic, and at time like these, when the majority of us understand human kindness, compassion, and respect, they are out there saying things like, “Happy Hunting” about other human beings over a $12 package of toilet paper that will be back on the shelves in droves next week because that’s how the actual world works.

This is a rant, sure. But I hope I have enlightened some of you to how other people act and react in scary times. An angry heart is incapable of sharing their hoarded face masks, it doesn’t matter how many puppy videos they share. An angry heart is incapable of understanding anything past the tip of their own nose. They don’t see how their impulse to buy all the TP forced a chain reaction. That it forced people to go without. People who work in the restaurant business, or retail. The actual people stocking the shelves full of tp. People who live paycheck to paycheck, and by the time they got their paychecks last week all the tp was gone. And the craziest part is most of these people, the ones stocking up on tp and ammo, are living paycheck to paycheck. The ones I know anyway. They just thought it would be better to blow all their money on tp and ammo right now, because God forbid they be embarrassed to ask a neighbor for tp, or God forbid they don’t have 1,000 boxes of ammo like “a real man.” Like, for real, y’all. There are angry, angry hearts out there amongst us. And they need some therapy. But you know, they can’t afford it/don’t think it’s real science. I mean, you don’t see no therapists on FoxNews do’ya?

And lastly, a note about those who are keeping this world moving along: the retail workers, the truck drivers, the restaurant servers working the To Go door. The delivery drivers. The people stocking shelves at Kroger overnight. I want to say thank you. And I want you all to know THEY ARE NOT FINE. They are working right now to keep your supplies with tp and ammo. They wish they could be home with their kids, away from all these people who are sick and are bringing the virus to them because they won’t stay the fuck home. But there they are. Because if they don’t work they don’t get paid. Because if they don’t work, we don’t get supplies we need. So the next time you’re all, “Well if we pay a McDonalds employee $15/ hr then my Coffee will be more expensive…” sit down, pull out those critical thinking skills we talked about and vote to help out other human beings.

And to the doctors, nurses, and Emergency service workers, thank you. This should open your eyes to our healthcare industry and how completely jacked up it is.

Stay safe out there, y’all. And in some parts of the county, be careful when you knock on your neighbor’s door asking for help. You’re liable to get shot.

M.

Here’s Some Good News

It’s been a damn week, hasn’t it?! It has. It has. That’s why when I received good news the other day I was shocked, and then happy for a second, and then sad again. It’s a hard time to feel happy. It feels selfish to feel happy right now. It feels selfish and inconsiderate. I mean look around, people! There’s no damn toilet paper! I’ve been trying really hard to keep my life in perspective. This life, this sad, upside-down life. I’ve been focusing on the helpers, as Mr. Rogers wanted us to. I’ve been looking for good news in strange places, which I should be accustomed to now, but I am still not. It feels like for every bit of good news, a stack of bad news is thrown at me. It’s like I don’t want the good news anymore, because I know what will happen next. But the good news came this week, without an apology, and hit me square in the face. It reminded me, more than anything, that the show must go on.

If you’ll remember a few weeks ago I had to get a vaccine because I was applying to an MFA program that required my proof of MMR, but I couldn’t find my proof. Well I applied, then I stressed and stressed for weeks about whether or not I would get into the program. It is the only MFA program I have ever applied to, my first one, and I know people who have been turned down several times before they get in, or who only get into their second or third choice school, so I was scared. Then just like that, I wasn’t anymore, because Coronavirus hit and I had more important shit to worry about.

Then this week I found out that I was accepted into the program. And I was all yay! for a second, then came the “You can’t be happy about this right now” feeling, and I was down again. I know as far as news goes, good news these days, it’s just a little blip on the map, but it did feel good for those few seconds. Then the day I found out I spent all night unable to sleep Googling how kids with asthma fare when/if they get Covid-19. It’s not good. Hmpf.

I have two things to say today. Number one, yay me. And yay you. Because you might be waiting on important answers to important questions concerning your life this week and if the news is good, you should celebrate! And if the news is bad, remember that it isn’t the end of the world. Remember to keep your life in perspective. I know it’s hard when you are out of toilet paper, but please, please, try to remember that there are people out there who are really struggling. And if you are one of those people, man, I wish I could send you everything you need. I wish I could reach out and hug you. And I know hearing that this will pass is not helpful right now, so I’ll suggest this instead: What lessons can you take from the spot you are in right now? How will this help you grow as a person? As a community member? I’m sure there are lessons. There are always lessons.

As always I’m here (virtually, anyway) if you wanna talk. I’m around (inside my house or walking the neighborhood). I’ll listen. I’ll be sad with you. I’ll be happy with you (even if it does feel weird right now). Because we do still need to take care of ourselves, physically yes, but mentally and spiritually also.

So go forth and celebrate the little victories today. You did all the laundry?! Look at you! You cleaned out that linen closet?! Holy cow, you’re getting it done! You finally realized this is serious and started social distancing?! I always had faith in you, friend.

Be safe and sane.

M.

PS… The mascot at my new school is an Owl, so I mean, how cool is that?! Sure, a llama would have been way more cool, but you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit!

You Are Not Alone

I’m sitting here waiting for my coffee to brew this morning, and I’m wondering about my friends. I’m hoping that you are all safe, and I don’t just mean safe physically. I know you all are taking the pandemic seriously. I also know that like me, you have family members who aren’t taking it seriously and you are worried about them. I know, like me, you have kids starting school online today. I know, like me, you are nervous about a myriad of things and it feels sometimes like you’re going through a dark tunnel and there is no end in sight. I just want to tell you that you are not alone.

There were moments yesterday that it felt like a regular Sunday. There were moments when I didn’t even realize our country or the world was in crisis. Then something would happen to bring me back into reality. At noon we got our daily check-in from our governor. The numbers doubled overnight in the State of Georgia. Again.

A few hours later I was happily staining wood in my carport, when I got an alert on my phone that the local Waffle House employee had just been brought out of quarantine and was walking. He tested positive for Covid-19 two weeks ago, but he has recovered.

Later that day Jerimiah and I were discussing hot tub essentials and I said, “Oh, I can just run to Lowe’s.” And he said, “We should probably order from Amazon so we don’t have to go out.” Oh, right. Shit, that’s right.

In and out of this way of thinking. Remembering, forgetting. Remembering, forgetting. I limit my social media time so I don’t get so wrapped up in things, and that has been good for me during this pandemic. May I suggest that to you all? I know it seems hard, harder now with more time on your hands, but let us not forget all the books that need to be read. All the kids that need help doing schoolwork. All the dogs that need walking. There are other ways to pass the time. And believe me, it is worth it.

Because I see things like this: A family member of mine asked the question on social media the other day, “How bad would Coronavirus be if there was no social media?” The question itself was asinine, put out in the universe to ruffle feathers, and maybe, probably to get conspiracy theories flying, but the point I took from it was that there are still people with blinders on. Still people who thing this is just a big hoax. And that has to be negatively impacting those of us (the large majority, mind you) who know better.

Another family member shared a meme that said, “Do you know anyone who is actually sick? I don’t. This is the media shutting down America.”

Bleh. This is real life, unfortunately. And it’s top down, as we all know by now.

I read a quote yesterday that said, “This isn’t prophecy, this is math.” And I gotta be honest it hit home for me because I have family members saying things like, “I can go where I want and do what I want, because God has my back.” It’s scary and it’s sad, and it’s so terribly wrong. This way of thinking is going to kill people.

I want you to know though, that if you have people around you who are talking and feeling this way, and it is making you crazy, know that you are not alone. We are all watching this unfold. We are all having moments of normalcy, sandwiched in between breakdowns. Wondering what will happen next. What alert will come across our phones. Whether our loved ones will be okay. Wondering if we are doing the right things. Wondering what to say to those of us not taking this seriously. Who do not understand how to flatten the curve. Who believe this is the end of times.

Just remember. There are some people you can’t change, you can’t help. And it’s best not to waste your time with them. Focus on the people you can help. Focus on the people in your house. The people on your street. The people in your community. Focus on stopping the spread. Taking less risks. Focus on doing the most good for the most amount of people. If we all lived our lives this way, it would be so magical.

And remember, when it feels like you’re in the pits, when you just can’t crawl out, when the news it too much, and your family members are too much, and this is all too much, remember there are others like you. Most people in fact. And reach out. I’m here.

Stay safe and sane.

M.