The good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful

Ugh. I feel like I’ve been writing this blog post for a million years. Or since mid-April. Same thing. How is it only/still May? Of 2020???

The good is … I’m feeling mighty privileged right now. Nobody in our immediate family has contracted C19 (although of course we worry for Tim’s siblings in the medical field). We live in a rural place on a lot of land so I get outside every day, just as much as I used to, because we don’t have any close neighbors (we can barely even see their houses through the trees!). Tim has been working at home, which means he’s been getting a steady paycheck through all of this and I haven’t had to worry about him going into an area that has a higher rate of contagion than what we have out here (last I checked there were between 5 and 9 people in our zip code with C19). Sales at HaldeCraft have been Christmas-time level numbers; I’m selling soap almost as fast as I can make it, and have a waiting list for a handful of mugs. While our small grocery stores have been out of a few things the rare times I go (three times now I’ve gone out and done shopping for at least 3 weeks worth of food, and I’ve had to go to two grocery stores each time) for the most part I’ve managed to get everything I need, if not everything I want. And stock is coming back onto the shelves – our grocery store even had toilet paper this weekend! I bought some even though we don’t need it, so I have twelve extra rolls. Hit me up if you need some!

Anyway. My point is that we’re healthy, we’re fed, there’s a roof over our heads, and there’s money coming in.

So then why am I so anxious all the time????? Hi, welcome to 2020. If you do not already have an anxiety disorder, one will be assigned to you.

I didn’t realize at the beginning of all of this that a good chunk of my anxiety was Tim going into work every day. I mean, I knew there were things I was anxious about — having grown up on dystopian, post-apocalypse science fiction I was ready for anything from disruption of supply chains to an increase in home burglaries, internet or cell phone or electricity problems, and anything from severe government overreach to lack of any functioning government at all. I was worried about my friends who live in big cities. I was worried about my friends who work at Disney. I was worried about my friends who live alone. I was worried about my friends who already fight invisible demons every day. I was worried about my older relatives, Tim’s older relatives, even some of my friend’s older relatives.

I had about a week or so where I was fighting off panic every day, and wanting to reach out and take care of people I love but it was everything I could do just to keep moving and not crawl under my desk and chew on my hand like a dog afraid of fireworks. I emailed my Primary Care Physician to ask if it was possible to up my Prozac dose (I’m on a super low dose for blood pressure, because a lot of blood pressure medications can’t be taken when you have only one kidney, and Prozac is relatively safe). They upped my dose and I started to feel better after a couple of days, and then Tim started working at home and my stress level went down even more. I was still finding it hard to concentrate, hard to focus (especially on writing) but at least I felt like I was in a better place to take care of people and started reaching out to my loved ones, checking in on them, seeing how they were doing (and if they needed toilet paper, haha) (seriously Denise and Tarrant are probably really tired of me asking if they’re OK on toilet paper).

And I started to see some really beautiful things about humanity. People rage-sewing face masks, for sale or for donation or for loved ones (I have a friend who has sewn so many she’s broken two sewing machines, and GUUUUUURL. YOU ARE A BADASS!). People going shopping in dinosaur or storm trooper outfits. People making tiny art galleries for their komodo dragons or guinea pigs and posting about them online. Artists, musicians, actors, yoga teachers, fitness instructors… so many different people from different walks of life all reaching out online and offering … things. Yoga classes. Fitness classes. Readings of poetry or literature. House concerts. Tours of museums and parks. Just… so much. So much being offered, so many people lifting up a gift and saying “you need this right now, but also I need to give it to you because this connection is everything.” One of the podcasts I listen to has quite the following, and they got an email from a group of listeners in a big city that said they were putting together a sort of… supply train; they were putting together care boxes for other listeners of the podcast in the area who didn’t have toilet paper or couldn’t feed their kids or whatever. Just… people taking care of people. Those that have taking care of those who don’t have, because it could be any of us at any time.

The truth that it’s the people who have the least making sure that people who have even less than them are taken care of is not a truth that’s lost on me. I mean, I see a few CEOs and company heads taking pay cuts or donating their salaries to employees, but not many.

I also see a bit of a … quiet turning. With a lot of big chain stores temporarily closed, I see people turning to farmer’s markets, local farmers and CSAs, planting quarantine gardens, learning to bake bread, learning to sew, knit, make things. I have at least four friends I can think of off the top of my head who have gotten chickens. The roadside fruit and veggie stand on the way into Gainesville has been packed with people every time I’ve driven by (which ok, it just twice, but to see their parking lot packed both times?!).

I also still see people carrying burdens without complaint. Friends undergoing chemo. Friends who had to get pets put to sleep. Friends whose parents, aunts and uncles, spouses have died. Life goes on. The world keeps spinning.

Of course now I’m also seeing people shooting people who are just out jogging, shooting people because they’re asked to wear a mask, people who just months ago were 110% “blue lives matter” who are now screaming into the faces of policemen that they’re being oppressed… and that’s a whole entire level of what-the-fuckery that I almost can’t even with. Of course I want to immediately go out and slap some sense into people like that — you have to fucking wear pants, too, and you’re not crying oppression about that. Your rights are not being infringed upon, you’re being asked to be aware of other people. And stop fucking shooting people because of the color of their skin! Ugh. The only way I can deal with things like that is to feel sorry for those people. They must live in constant fear, and fear makes you lash out because you haven’t any other coping skills, and that must be terribly… draining. That doesn’t mean I condone their behavior – not at all. But the only way I can deal with it emotionally is to fight to choose compassion. Otherwise frustration is going to eat me alive. I would rather use my energies to choose to take care of the people I can than to fight the people who wouldn’t even notice or listen to me.

Speaking of energy, I should wrap this up and go focus my energy on a little treadmill time, followed by a (hopefully) productive day in the studio. Thanks for reading, y’all. I know many of you feel the same way.

I am a rock; I am an island

I’ve been listening to a lot of Simon & Garfunkel this week. Not directly on purpose, although I do like them. I have a Spotify playlist that has some of their music, and another playlist with some covers of their music, and I guess because of that (and I’ve been writing a lot this week and that’s the music I listen to when I write) my Daily Mix of suggestions by Spotify have had a lot of S&G in them this week.

I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
or driven to its knees
But it’s all right, it’s all right
We’ve lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road
we’re traveling on
I wonder what went wrong
– Paul Simon

I had to take a few days to put the oxygen mask on myself, so that I could then put it on others, but I’m feeling a lot better than I was this time last week. Heck, better than I was feeling three days ago. I’m not sure if it’s upping my CBD oil intake, or (because of that) sleeping through the whole night, or because Tim is finally not having to go into the office where people can breathe on him (I mean come on, I used to work there and I worked RIGHT across from the men’s room, I know most of those boys didn’t wash their hands), or because I’m finally 100% certain that this stuffy nose is allergies and not some rare form of the virus since it doesn’t present with stuffy noses. Anyway, I’m no longer feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck, which means … I can get some shit done.

When you’re down and out,
When you’re on the street,
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you.
I’ll take your part.
When darkness comes
And pain is all around,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
-Paul Simon

And by “get shit done” I don’t mean just “work at home” because I do that anyway. But I also mean, checking in more with you, making sure you’re all OK. I’ve spoken with and texted/emailed a lot of friends this last week, and one thing I keep saying and hearing people say is… I love you. I mean, I usually say that to a lot of people anyway, but it’s so affirming to see and hear it so much right now. It does my heart good to see that when shit starts to go south, the good in people really does come out. I see so many of my friends reaching out to check on others, to do for others, to lay themselves down like a bridge over troubled water. How did I collect such an amazing, caring, open clan of friends? Verily, I am lucky.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
– Paul Simon

One thing I’ve been reading a lot about this week is anticipatory grief. Or as I called it as soon as I read the definition, “my regular daily anxiety”, haha. In short, it’s the feeling of loss that you get even before a life-changing dreaded event or death happens. In this case, the grief isn’t for the loss of a specific loved one, but the possible loss of society as we know it. Here’s a good article that, while written from the point of view of a caregiver, has a lot of correlations to what I and a lot of people I know are feeling right now. Our thoughts are jumping around. The unknown timeline and lack of a known endpoint is overwhelming and is grinding us down – or at the least, taking away our ability to plan, and for many of us, having or making plans is part of what we feel lets us control the uncontrollable. We are feeling sorrow and hope at the same time; hope that a cure will come around, or a vaccine, or that everything will just “go” back to normal, but sorrow and fear that it will not, or at least, won’t, any time soon.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
– Paul Simon

One thing I’m seeing though is that the way I live my life is apparently very, very different from most people, because I see a lot of folks wondering what they’re going to do with all this free time they suddenly have at home, and I’m like, shit, I’ll give you a list! I can’t remember the last time I was bored at home. There are things I avoid doing, sure, but I don’t think I’ve been bored at my own house since I was surly teenager. Don’t people have books? Games? Hobbies? Shit they’ve been putting off doing? What do they do with their time?! A lot of my friends are meeting up online, and while I’m flattered they all invite me, our Internet out here still sucks rocks. Although Verizon just did give me an extra 15 g for my phone hotspot, so I’ll be using that to do a few online meetups over the next couple of weeks.

In the clearing stands a boxer,
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev’ry glove that laid him down
And cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame,
“I am leaving, I am leaving.”
But the fighter still remains
– Paul Simon

Maybe this will all die down, and it’ll be like the flu; in the future, once a year we all get reminders to get a vaccine if we can (I can not, because of my egg allergy). Maybe it’ll start to die down and we’ll go back to the way we lived just ten days ago and then it’ll crop back up somewhere and we’ll have another 4-6 weeks of physical isolation. Maybe that will be the new normal, for the next year or two until we get a vaccine. Probably there’s going to be global economic shift. How many businesses (small or large) will go under because of this? How many people will be unemployed? How many people in the work force will (at worst) die or (at best) have lifelong health complications? How will that have an effect on the future of health care? On the future of movie theaters and large parties and theme parks? I feel like a science fiction novel is being written all around me right now.

But overall… I’m feeling better. How are you? I love you.

Smart Goals

I told someone I was thinking of listing out the things I wanted to make sure I get done in 2020, and they were like, “ugh, that sounds way too much like New Year’s Resolutions” and I had a moment of …. Really? Because I think of resolutions as one big thing that there’s an 85% chance that is likely going to fail by February or so — quitting smoking, losing weight, learning underwater basketweaving.

These are SMART goals — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based. Each one is a specific thing, not general; each one can be measured as far as how far I’ve come towards the end result of the goal; each one is achievable in that I’m not giving myself something so big or so broad that I’m likely to be afraid to do it; each one is realistic in that they’re all something I’m likely to do at this point in my life; each one is time-based in that I’m setting myself a point in time by which I’d like to have accomplished this goal.

So here are a handful of goals I’d like to achieve by the end of 2020.

  1. I’d like to read fifteen books.
    I set myself a Goodreads goal in 2019 of reading 24 books… I made it to 14. Ugh. I don’t even know myself anymore. Only 14? That’s embarrassing! Especially because half of them were graphic novels! What the hell! So while I’d like to say I’ll read 20, I’m going to lower my goal to 15 – still one more than I did this year – but I’m going to hope that I really sneak in a few more. But at fifteen, over fifty-two weeks, that’s three and a half weeks per book. I used to be able to read six times that fast, so… this is doable. If I put down the stupid tablet farming game….!
  2. I’d like to have twenty finished objects off the needles.
    Remember when I used to knit like 60 things a year? OK, granted, I used to work in a yarn store and that was part of my job. But I do miss having finished things to show off. It just so happens that I’m coming in with eleven new colorways next year, so if I knit a pair of socks or armwarmers in each of those, there’s 11 of 20 right there. I also want to knit some Christmas ornaments, some cat toys (Santa brought me the cutest knitted cat toy book), and some soap bags. The soap bags and ornaments I want for our Christmas stockings, of which we usually have eight or nine. If I’m already at 11, nine soap bags bring it up to 20 right there. All done by December. I can dooooo eeeeeeeeeeeet!
  3. I’d like to whittle down my fiber stash by spinning twenty bumps of fiber.
    A bump of fiber is usually about 4 ounces. I plan on bringing my wheel with me to the Farmer’s Market, going forward. While I don’t plan on doing Farmer’s Market every Friday for an entire year, I will probably do it at least 20 times. I’m down to do it steadily until the end of March, so that’s… 13 weeks, and then if I pick it up again in September, that’s another … oh, wow, another 17 weeks. So if I can spin at least half of a bump of fiber at the Farmer’s Market every time I go, and then finish it over the weekend, this is more than doable.
  4. I’d like to find a new advertising venue.
    My ads on Ravelry get engagement, as in, people click on them… but there hasn’t been a lot of shopping from the ads this last year. Where else can I advertise? What else can I advertise? I want to advertise my stitch markers more on Raverly, so that’s one thing. But maybe I could also advertise on Knitty.com (an online knitting magazine). I would love to be able to advertise in BUST magazine, but the one time I did it, it was almost $500 for the issue, and that’s just… yeah. That was really more for me, to be able to see my ad in print. But overall that’s way too rich for me.
  5. I’d like to write 16 chapters.
    OK, this one is a ringer… I was planning on doing that anyway.
  6. I’d like to get the majority of my old family photos sorted and scanned.
    I’ve already started on this, years ago, but then my scanner just up and quit talking to my computer, so … blargh. What I’d like to be able to do is scan negatives, as well as (or instead of, for where I have them) the photographs, and also the crapload of slides I have from my paternal grandfather. I looked around on Amazon and for about $150 I can get a teensy scanner that does negatives, slides, and get this… it also does Super 8 film. Of which I have a couple of reels, and had given up hoping I’d ever know what was on them. So Imma save my pennies, maybe combine a couple gift certificates, and get that little Kodak scanner. Most of the photos are already in boxes, sorted by decade. But there are stragglers around. I’d like to have everything I want sorted in the same room by the end of January; sorted by the end of February; then that gives me ten months to scan as many of about 80 years of film and negatives and slides as I can. Hey, at one decade per month, that’s doable, right? Because it looks like the kind of thing I can set the gadget up to do while I’m doing other things, and then just come over and feed more through it every now and then.

So… goals. Do these really look like New Year’s Resolutions? I hope not, because I’ve never been able to keep those (“learn to play the guitar,” I’m looking at you…!). But planning and setting goals? I’m pretty good at those.