Tuesday, March 31, 2020

What is this feeling?

Another in my series of the Corona Files

Now I know what it feels like to be depressed. It’s like swimming in syrup, unable to start or finish a task—let alone a to-do list. It’s the grief pressing down, making my arms, legs, hands, feet heavy. I can’t concentrate; I push the button to make coffee twice and come back to see rivers of it flooding the counter. I go into the kitchen for something and stand there. Not that this hasn’t happened before. I just called it low energy or an off-day. And, maybe it lasted a day or two, but not 10 days going on till . . . .

we don’t know when. Until the lockdown is lifted.

Aeschylus: Agamemnon - Summary and Analysis - YouTube

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Happy New Year, Nowruz

This past weekend was Nowruz, the New Year according to the lunar calendar that Iran follows. In my book, Cloud of Witnesses, Hassan explains the idea of Nowruz to Roland who likens it to spring cleaning, a time to clear away the old and prepare for the new.

“According to the Muslim calendar this is the time for the new year, No Ruz, spring when all things are made new again. It makes sense, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah, I guess.” I knew better than to say interesting.
Hassan took a colorful scarf out of his backpack and spread it on the ground. “We have a tradition,” he began. On top of the scarf he placed a hard-boiled egg. “Where we eat specific foods. The egg represents new life just as these do—” He plucked a couple of burs and catbriers off of his soccer shirt and placed them on the scarf. “Seeds.”
Next from his bag he brought out a baggie of goldfish crackers. “Usually we use real goldfish, but these will have to do, and this is called a noghl,” he said holding up a small chewy raisin cake, which reminded me of a Fig Newton cookie. “These objects all begin with the same letter of the alphabet in Farsi.
I sat back on my haunches. “This coming Sunday will be Easter.” I tried not to think about Daddy, wishing he could come home. 
“About a week or so before the New Year my mother and sisters clean the whole house, from top to bottom. They beat the dirt out of the rugs, sweep the dust out of all the corners, and wash down the windows and walls. Everything must be fresh and new. My mother makes a special uncooked wheat cake.”
“Does it taste good?”
“You don’t eat it. That would be awful. In it are whole grains of wheat. The cake is in layers, one for each member of the family. The unbaked cake is kept moist so that the wheat sprouts and begins to grow. Soon the cake becomes a beautiful green thing.”
“Sort of like a Chia pet?” I asked.
Hassan stared at me. “It’s just a symbol.”
“On the thirteenth day of the New Year the family takes this wheat cake outside and throws it away, and with it goes all the bad feelings and quarreling in the home.”
I needed a No Ruz cake for every time Angie pulled up in her Trans Am. If only it were that easy to rid the trailer of Granny’s foul moods.

Order copies of the book online and also available as an eBook
Image result for nowruz

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Record Everything

So here I am for twenty minutes—the amount of time I can concentrate these days. I spend most of my time being distracted, touching my face, trying not to touch my face, or else washing my hands. A lot of time is wasted on mortality. Mine and the people I love. Charting the course of the disease in Italy. Every time I type corona virus I can’t believe I’m not writing an apocalyptic novel, speculating on end-of-the-world scenarios.

I also meditate on how quickly life can change.

And how puny some problems seem compared to now.

We learn a lot when forged in the fire of uncertainty. Like the importance of friends and family. Stuff we used to take for granted. Stuff we always thought would be there, we see how quickly it disappears like toilet paper on a grocery shelf. This is a metaphor—but also a literal analogy.

Which reminds me of Anne Frank. Every step of the way Otto Frank was thinking ahead. He had proactively moved his family from Germany to Amsterdam in 1933 when Anne was 4 years old. Almost ten years later he knew things were going to get worse and built the hidden bookcase to hide the doorway to their secret annex apartment. He threw neighbors off their trail by planting false narratives about where the family went.

Anne had been keeping a diary since shortly going into hiding. Kitty was a best friend Anne could confide in. Then during the course of the war and their exile the diary took on further importance—it became her civic duty to record their humdrum quiet lives in the Secret Annex.

Over the radio an appeal from the Dutch Minister Bolkestein, asking the Dutch people to hold on to any papers that would illustrate what they were going through under the German Occupation. Everyone knew that one day the war would be over and that it was important to have an idea of what it was like for the ordinary civilian, for those still able to bike and walk along the canals, shop, and go to work. Upon hearing this Anne was inspired to publish her diary and began to go through her entries with the idea of a reading public in mind. She continued to record their life as well as edit past entries.

This was a bold move for a fifteen-year old girl. Most would have thought: He means papers from important people, the adults, the rich—not a teenage Jew in hiding. But, Anne immediately realized the value of her words, her unique situation during the war. Not that she didn’t have her doubts:
'I really believe, Kits, that I'm slightly bats today, and yet I don't know why. Everything here is so mixed up, nothing's connected any more, and sometimes I very much doubt whether in the future anyone will be interested in all my tosh.
"The unbosomings of an ugly duckling" will be the title of all this nonsense. My diary really won't be much use to Messrs. Bolkestein or Gerbrandy (members of Dutch cabinet, ed.).
Yours, Anne
Friday 14 April 1944

And thank God she did continue. The diary was all that was left of the family when Otto Frank returned from the camps after the war. His employee and trusted friend Miep gave it to him. When the Germans raided the Secret Annex and rounded up the refugees hiding there they searched for money, things they could sell, whatever looked valuable. They left scattered on the floor pieces of the diary that Miep collected and saved, always hoping Anne would one day come back.

Who knew then how important a young girls musings would become?

The Diary of a Young Girl has sold more than 30 million copies, is required reading in many schools, and has been translated into more than 70 languages. The building where she hid draws over a million visitors each year.

So during this puzzling time write down your fears, the awfulness of being cooped up, of seeing Mom and Dad lose their jobs, stay at home, of everyone going stir-crazy—even the dog. Write about your feelings, what you see, the color of the sky, of how spring came despite the warnings to stay inside, to social distance. Write about your grandma and grandpa. You have an important job to do and that is to record everything.

Friday, March 20, 2020

This woman’s work, a review


This woman’s work BY JULIE DELPORTE
Drawn & Quarterly, 2019
A graphic memoir
I loved this small compressed book full of watercolors/washes. They are like small postcards mailed to the self. This book is perfect for the Millennial feminist in your life—what! You don’t know any—then get some.

The protagonist (Julie?) is in the midst of a research project, exploring the work and life f Tove Jansson—and from there it spirals. Questions about relationships, the choice to have a child, or not. Who she is in relation to her father, lovers, film, literature, memories. She deals with abuse and the interior threat of self-denial.

More than anything else it is a record, a journal of daily thoughts, doubts, questions that wash over her as she holds conversations with the life of Tove Jansson. Because I’m working currently on a non-fiction hybrid project involving a historical figure I am interested in how Delporte handled the material and wove in her own insights that may or may not parallel Jansson. She holds Jansson up like a mirror to her own artistic career. For many of us there are not a lot of role models—of other women who have threaded the fine needle of art, children, partners, past abuse. She specifically asks herself some basic questions about her art, the “value” of her work, and who her audience is. Who does she seek to please: herself or some other?

As women we deal with numerous thresholds that seek to keep us at one level (this is influenced by a week where the soccer federation came out with a statement basically saying women soccer players are not worth as much as male players—sheesh how wrong is that!!)

This week with the coronavirus impacting most of my everyday life, I have fallen into existential questioning. Why waste time creating when I could be dead next week. Then the next thought: if I die next week then I want, until my last breath, to create.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Before the End

Here is a small "speculative" story, a flash that is apropos of the time we're in

Before the World Changed

I remember when we used to take things for granted. When we threw away the heels of bread, left lights burning all night long, and traded in for a new car every four years.

Before the terrorists hit.

I remember when recycling was cool, when reusing a bag was simply being green, when it was trendy to bike to the coffee shop and request the china mug instead of the disposable paper cup.

Before the crash.

We thought about having kids.

Before you lost your job and I lost mine.

We started saving things like old toothbrushes to use for cleaning; we made our own laundry detergent from an on-line recipe. I used the Swifter cleaning clothes multiple times, front and back. Those slivers of soap—I microwaved them and pressed them together to make a new bar.

Before when the going got tough, the tough got going.

We kept the car parked and walked. On long road trips you set the cruise-control and avoided quick starts. You made sure the tires were inflated to the proper psi in order not to waste gas.

Before gas prices spiked—and stayed there.

We had already cut back on our meat consumption. We bought in bulk, ate in instead of eating out, and made more soups and hearty stews that stuck to the ribs. Cigarettes were our only splurge.

Before food prices went through the roof.

We planted a garden, after which we pickled, smoked, dried, and canned most of what we grew. One summer I put up fifty-two quart-size jars of tomatoes.

Before the bad storms came.

Nothing got tossed. Sour milk was used for biscuits and hot cakes. If the apple cider turned then it became vinegar. Bread crumbs were saved. With the extra egg yolk, we made mayonnaise.

Before the house got taken.

I began to darn our socks. I salvaged zippers, buttons, and snaps, every scrap, to use later. We patched our jeans over and over. Old clothes got made over.

Before we moved in with your parents.

We shopped at thrift stores. Got stuff for free off Craigslist. We bartered, traded, and clipped coupons.

Before our bank went under.

We got into the habit of unplugging our electronics and waited until we absolutely had to before turning on the air conditioner.

Before the power disruptions.

I remember when we used to flush the toilet after every use or squandered water, letting it run while brushing our teeth. We watered the grass, for Pete’s sake!

Before water was rationed.

I saved vegetable peelings. Sometimes I boiled them to make a kind of broth. I foraged edible weeds to make a salad.

Before the harvests failed.

We had already sold the car for parts. In a pinch we hitched.

Before travel was restricted.

I remember when people didn’t have to strip old houses for metal or sleep outside. Now we salvage large pieces of plastic sheeting, search for junk wood, extracting the nails and straightening them out, like licking bones clean, bones split open in order to suck the marrow. We fight over carrier bags, weaving them into sleeping mats.

Before the wars.

We’d sit around a wood fire, staring into the flames, trying hard not to remember how things used to be.

Before darkness descended.

Trouble used to be measured by inconvenience. Waiting measured in minutes. Now time has no limit. Catastrophe can visit both the living and the dead.

Before the end.

link to Linguistic Erosion which originally published

Image may contain: car and outdoor

Monday, March 16, 2020

Why is Turkmenistan reading my blog??????????

Pageviews by Countries

United States
United Kingdom
Unknown Region
Hong Kong