Not Going Back

I am realizing that “normal” before the pandemic was not going so great for me. Not sure what all it was, thinking back, but I was going through some depression, definitely some anxiety, maybe some more stuff…hard to recall it all. It was manifesting as a lot of social avoidance and resulting loneliness, self-doubt, discomfort alone and discomfort with others.

I’ve been stretching those social muscles (with the occasional bouts of doubt) lately, and I find I like it, all doubt aside. I do not want to go back to my pre-pandemic “normal” (PPN).

I want to approach this world as I see it:

We are not separate (though we can hold boundaries).

Self-doubt may be borne of some level of self-absorption. I see my own social anxiety as an aspect of that self-absorption (doubt). Why (outside of respecting boundaries) should I concern myself so much with what anyone thinks of me, to the point of sometimes crippling self-doubt, avoidance and subsequent intense loneliness?

Other things I was not liking in my PPN: I spent a good deal of time, effort and money on entertainment – specifically to distract myself from the social anxiety>social avoidance>loneliness. (This has happened some of during the pandemic – but it’s less entertaining/distracting to get fancy meals and beverages in. I am not unhappy about my upgrade in electronics but could spend less time on them.

I notice I have been most content during the pandemic when:

  • I connect with people.
  • I work on projects.
  • I hone skills (music, painting, etc)
  • When I avoid…avoidance.
  • Reading.
  • Self-care – specifically meditating, writing through sh-t, being outdoors, engaging in creative projects, physicality -being outside, walking, biking, avoiding over-eating and -drinking, staying hydrated, taking vitamins, eating healthy, etc.
  • Home care, taking care of my environment.
  • People care (TK, Chris and his family, others) – this connects to the first.

I think in the late pandemic/post-(please)-pandemic phase, I need more of these. So yeah…I do not want to go “back”. I want to carry my healthy pandemic coping/living skills with me. I want more of the good stuff.

The Art and the Artist

A friend recently asked whether one can separate art from the artist. I recently watched a documentary about Miles Davis. I am not a music or jazz aficionado, but something in his music has always struck me, it is special, a world apart.

Miles Davis, by all accounting, was more than a little “flawed” as a human being: I saw almost an apologist point of view from some interviewees concerning his treatment of women, for example. And I agree that cannot be dismissed. He was possessive, violent, self-absorbed, and self-destructive. At the same time, I consider the difficulty he experienced as an African American in the United States in the 20th century(or any time) and the absolute and obvious artistry of his work.

He was a creative in the truest sense, connected so deeply to music, to its exploration, creation, and evolution, even expanding his musical sense into painting.  And yet he had his demons, and he took it out on others and on himself. It’s easy to see the genius and the trauma without dismissing the hurt and the harm.

So separate? Yes and no. Some of his music was borne directly of the relationships where he was clearly a bad actor, and thus cannot be separated. All of it was borne of pure artistry. The music, in some form or other, I think, would have poured out of that soul, regardless. Sometimes the channel is a damaged vessel, and the water pours anyway, much of it landing.

Texas and the Art of Distraction

Today, Gov. Greg Abbott lifted a statewide mask requirements and is allowing businesses to reopen at 100% capacity. We’re so close; estimates are we will be sufficiently vaccinated by May to be able to more safely lift some restrictions.  When Gov. Abbott tried to “open up” in July, there was a huge spike in cases. He is ignoring this or at least hoping you will. We do so at our own peril.

I know some of you will be over the moon about the lifting of restrictions and mask mandates. Don’t let it make you forget that time you had no power or water, and then had to boil your water. Please remain careful. The more people go out and play, the likelier Covid-19 will be there to play among you, and the more likely we will get mutations that defeat the vaccines.  

Dear businesses, the Governor isn’t going to help, the mayors and county commissioners have their hands tied, and (some number) of customers are going to push you. Hard.  It’s up to you: people > profits (profit safely!)  Please, please,  stick as much as possible to distancing, mask requirements, and curbside. Maintain outdoor, distant dining. Restrict staff/customer interaction to masked encounters only. Keep your employees and your customers safe so they will still be around to recommend you to friends, and to book their next birthday or anniversary dinner with you in the summer. I know service folks. Those that can spend well and tip well when they do go out. And they go out a lot. Businesses, hang in there…  it will be easier for everyone by May. Please remember that another spike will harder to get past, if even possible. In the meantime, I am one among many friends who will keep buying from you if you look out for everyone.
Everyone trying to stay safe and keep others safe, I know you are tired. So am I. Keep up the good work. Help each other get vaccinated. And help anyone who will have a harder time than you navigating that system. We’re in a race, now. Pay attention to the roadway and pick up others on the way. 
For anyone still reading, if you think lifting restrictions is anything but an intentional distraction from the heat and water debacle, consider that Gov. Greg Abbott made this decision AFTER he himself was safely vaccinated. Remember you were left without heat and water and now you are left without the protection offered by reasonableness of requiring masks, and holding your distance. Abbott told us we are on our own. Remember, your child may be left without a grandparent or teacher. You may be left without the very essential workers that provide you with the necessities and comforts of life. And later, remember that your vote counts. That said, it’s gonna take more than voting. I’m working on how to get more involved and to do everything I legally can to rid us of the deadly selfishness in our Texas leadership. If we cannot oust them in the next round, I may consider alternate residential options, but others cannot do so, and I am not leaving without a fight. 
 
Stay safe out there. Love you all.

Advice to Self in Difficult Times

Reminders to self (apply as needed):
Having to reconnect every single time I open this beast (the laptop) is only an inconvenience.
It’s okay if my eyes leak. It’s okay if it’s less than 5 drops. It’s okay if they don’t.
Hyperventilation is a stress reaction. I have (as much as anyone with moderate asthma has) control over my breathing and can choose to slow it down.
Quiet actions count. So does my voice. I should use it more.
I am beyond fortunate (privileged!) that the last week has mostly given me moderate inconvenience and some real fear. Many folks can’t say that.
I am probably going to be okay. Until I’m not. And that is okay, too.
I miss all your faces. Nearly desperately at times. I need to remember this in a year.
To date, I am bent (not unusual) but not broken. I can keep my aim true to that ideal.

Here I Am and There I Go

Having written, graphed, erased, re-written, and put a white board to more use than it expected, visual is not the best presentation for the ideas, ideals, activities and goals I want to pursue 2021. Too much overlap.

The focus is Care. The areas are myself, my environment, my relationships, my community (the world). (Start center, work outward, expect overlap). I have some daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly activities and goals to those ends. These goals, taken singularly, may be that ambitious, but 1. I have been lax (and don’t want to ignore those areas I haven’t been lax in either), and 2. there’s a lot of them. Thus, I commit at least to:

Daily: clean sink, make bed, get outside, read something other than social media. Spend minimum 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays working on the weekly, monthly, and annual activities and goals; it is the time I feel most restless.  

Weekly: exercise 1.5 hours, meditation  1.5 hours, work on creative/skills stuff 1.5 hours, household/yard maintenance and beautification, 1.5 hours. Date night. Call family.

Monthly: friend date night/zoom night/art night; call a friend; write a letter or send a package; post here.

Annual Goals: lose 12 pounds (weigh-in this morning is 157.4 lbs. – the heaviest I’ve ever been aside from pregnancy), read 12 books, make 12 posts (not counting this one), write/send 12 letters or packages,  learn 6 songs, donate or volunteer 6 times, get my passport. 

Next up, I need to figure out how to stay on top of, track progress, hold myself accountable, and have a plan to get back on track should I need it. I’m curious how bullet journals, monks’ manuals, habit apps, etc. have worked for folks, or what else y’all are using to help keep you on track.

No Time Like Now

Piece of resolution clock - someone wrote "'You owe it to us all to get on with what you're good at.' - W.H. Auden"

Good morning, dear ones. Welcome to a new year, if this is when you start your count. I start mine gradually, with solstice until the new year a time for contemplation, and the new year until my new year (January 6th) as a launch ramp.

I am not usually one for resolutions, especially public ones; this year, though, having spent the larger part of last year in unavoidable contemplation, I feel so moved.

There are areas I want to work on,  ideals I want to cultivate, activities  to do so, and goals as a specific way to stick to it. I may need a big sheet of paper or three to sort it all out. I am a visual thinker most naturally, so it might come together as a pie with concentric rings; the slices representing the areas with the ideals next ring out, followed by activities, and then goals. It might come together as connected clouds. It might be a Venn diagram. We’ll see.

I think of it also in this way: Attention, Intention, Action, Enrichment, the last not in a monetary sense but in a stop-wasting-so-much-time kind of way, a being better at being myself, connecting to others, and caring for my community (small and large) kind of way.

It’s coming together in a new way for me. I feel inspired, not coerced. I feel…not-so-guilty for past activity and lack of activity. Though I have them, I am not starting from a place of regret. I am truly sorry to those I have hurt (a few) or neglected (many). I may have lost people over this. If you are reading this, I hope you’ll stick around for this next phase of my journey.

In the coming days, I’ll get the meat of what I’ll be on about in the coming year. a version better than what I am ready to adequately express.  This is all under development, but the very writing and sharing (activity) are part  of the ideals of authenticity, accountability, and connection that I want to cultivate, with a goal of 12 such posts (minimum) throughout the year.

~Izzi

Get Some Good

Looked “outside” and nope, not much has changed other than the intensity. It’ll still be there for me to tend to tomorrow. Today, I am tending to me.

The afternoon’s distractions included getting the stereo working, and starting a butter pie crust (it’s resting in the fridge for a couple of hours before rolling). The working stereo totally changes our stay-at-home game. Break Away Records on North Loop by the way, is wonderful!  I called over and they had the headphone jack adapter and new speaker wire I needed. (Old speaker wire had corroded – I think that was the issue.) Pulled it and brought it out when I walked over, confirmed my troubleshooting plan, and made sure I already had the tools I needed. Now the stereo sounds amazing with Erykah Badu blaring. Grateful that was the last CD I had tried to play, it was right there, ready to go. It does have a couple of skips. Time to research disc recovery (can they be polished or cleaned?) or go MP3 shopping. Then possibly to the hills for comet viewing. We’ll see.

Hope you had some kind of good in your day as well. Love from the home front.

Izzi

Like It or Not

…we are all in this together.

I understand if you aren’t sure which official announcement to believe when we were all admittedly lied to to start with; when we were told masks weren’t helpful because we weren’t trusted, and then told they are needed. We are given new information and new guidelines all of the time. The messages we get are mixed at best. I land on the side of STRONG caution, but I get not everyone will come to that conclusion in their thoughts. I ask you to at least come to that conclusion in your actions.

The worst that happens (to almost all of you) by being strict in distancing and masking is a little discomfort, inconvenience, and boredom.

If you own a business, (very few of us do), let your friends and loyal customers know how they can support you/your business if you don’t open back up to the public (gift cards, online ordering for curbside pick up, etc). Make sure they know masks and distance may help and won’t hurt if you feel you must open back up.

If the isolation is getting to you, (it does to me sometimes, too), pick up the phone. Many of us have all but ceased that old communication. It kept my family in touch with my grandparents for years during my childhood as we moved all over. It was (is) way more connecting than a text, email or social media.

Hating on each other on a personal level merely continues to divert attention from how we got here in the first place.  I’m saving my scorn for the lack of foresight, planning, and mitigation, for  depleted supplies of a de-funded, de-stocked stockpile that “necessitated” the first lie, for the still unexplained seizure of real PPE that is now still not available to hospitals or the public, for no action plan to get real supplies to citizens as well as medical professionals (who are still reporting shortages).

So, without hate, and without prejudice, I plead with you: wear your mask if you are near anyone not in your household; it helps if we ALL do it. It looks like we’re all we got.  Let’s let that go of personal animosity and take care of each other.

Missing

I miss you all so very much. I miss the random interactions. I miss being able to choose to or not to come out some where in the world to see you, to choose whether or not I accept a hug. I miss your faces, beautiful and blurry across a back yard fire pit, across a giant art fire, across a field as one of us speeds by. Until such a time as we can be together again, should we ever be so fortunate, know I love you.

Porch-sitting: a Tale of Two Times

This is some kind of time travel, not at all what I imagined.

I sit on the porch  watching passers-by. They are mostly oblivious or feigning obliviousness, none of my business which.

Time-slammed, date minus 30 years, not the same porch but close, 20-ish blocks south, on the same east-west line, sharing cheap jug wine with some friends, (it didn’t yet come in sealed bags, in sealed boxes, tapped for our convenience). Mike is up a tree, quite literally, shouting out, inviting people to join us. A few do.

Today, I sit alone, with a mostly cold beer.  We still need outdoors. Hell, we still need each other, a glimpse of each other’s faces (or at least each others’ eyes above a mask), the occasional friendly hello. There are no shouted invitations: no one wants one and I wouldn’t offer anyway. We are in crisis mode. This is a pandemic.  If we are close enough, we could kill each other.

We won’t share wine or sit on the porch until 3 a.m., beyond all reason. We aren’t together long enough to even share a laugh, much less a story.  Instead, we make do, grateful for a moment’s pleasantry and a moment of shared space, a (front) yard (several ruler yards) apart.