Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Over at the National Catholic Register Today

Sometimes, I pounce on breaking news and it results in a good blog piece and today's is about Pope Francis' gift of two prayers to the end of the Rosary for the month of May.

Walking Towards What We Miss

Today, my youngest son completed his Zoom meeting and everyone left. He tried to restart the Zoom on his computer. He texted on his machine, all his teachers and classmates names and home car Mom go. Explaining that he'd see them tomorrow, I went about the business of cleaning up from breakfast.
We heard the door shut and realized, Paul left the house. He'd packed a bag with his pull ups, a change of clothes, an apple and his stuffed monkeys. He sat at the tree where we always wait for his school bus, and all I could see on his face was the howl of a heart so lonely, it no longer could stay still.
I can say "You'll see them tomorrow," but I can't say when they'll be back together. It's his last year at the school. I can't even say when he'll enter a school building again.
I know this shut down has made me wary of everywhere. Getting gasoline for the first time in a month felt risky, even wearing gloves and a mask. The pump's controls were broken and I had to go inside, where there were at least five people working to upgrade the store, but there were five people moving around, within six feet of me, all of whom I did not know and thus I felt fearful of being exposed. I didn't want to catch Corona or bring it to my family for what amounted to twenty-five dollars and a tank of gasoline.
Back in the car, I sat there thinking, how much seven weeks of quarantine changed my sensibilities, and how much more might they change as this extends. I do not want the country to open up prematurely, and at the same time, we weren't made for living in isolation, even when we're with most of the people we love.
Walking with my oldest son that evening, we prayed the rosary and joked about how this pandemic is making everyone a little British. We're drinking tea in the afternoon, because it is different and warming, and communal. We go for walks. We're noticing all the different birds and talking about it. We feel robbed when the fluffy grey cat isn't sitting at the front door of the yellow house staring out at the world and judging us.
Equally dismaying is the absence of the black angora sewer stray that used to hiss as we'd walk by. Guess we're no longer invaders but shrug your shoulders kind of neighbors to it. We eagerly await the mail for some contact from somewhere.
"My God, we're becoming a Jane Austen novel with none of the money or romance." I said. "Still have the humor though." my son said. "If we switch from tea to alcohol, we could be Irish." "I am Irish." "Yeah, but it's diluted by all the other genetic stock. We don't fight nearly enough. To really commit, we'd need to be composing poetry." "Too late. Did already yesterday." My son laughed. "I'm on the next step of Anglophile assimilation. I ate a digestive and yesterday, I asked if the post arrived!" "That's nothing. I just stopped myself from enrolling in an online course to learn caligraphy."
My son spoke the rest of the walk in a faux English accent. "Day fourty-seven. We spotted two hawks and several brilliant cardinals. We've taken our state authorized constitutional and mum seems in better spirits. We're on our way home from our expected journey, and plan to cook some boiled meat and potatoes with turnips and wilted greens for dinner because, we're the country that scoured the world for spices and use none of them."
Somehow, the stupidness of it all made the ache a little less, and we ordered pizza for dinner. 

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Friday Writing...

It's day 42 of being at home, where sitting in a parking lot waiting for someone wearing a mask to bring out groceries feels like a risky maneuver. We've become regular walkers, regular chefs, and frankly, I don't care about my kids' academic career anymore. I'm calling this semester a wash. They can read books, play cards, play baseball with me and sleep in, they can eat ice cream for dinner for all I care, not because I don't care, but because right now, the landscape of life is surviving the long seige as we wait to re-open, and hope it isn't too soon, but that it's soon. I'm worried because I'm starting to hear stories, almost one a day; from my doctor, her brother-in-law died, from my student, his grandfather, from a facebook friend, her mom. I wonder, when the degrees of separation will shift and come closer. I worry, they will. We wear masks. We wear gloves. We hunker down, yet life kept going on.

I wonder if one day, when all of this lifts, if we will feel comfortable going into stores, going out into the world, or if every place from this point forward, will feel like a potential threat to all we love. My daughter picked her college (with five days to go). Another child turned thirteen. Five of my kids graduate this year, and one finished her thesis but it won't be reviewed, it won't be vetted, and it won't be noticed. She struggled as the degree itself starts to feel less valuable, with the price tag remaining just as high as it was before the Corona Virus struck, but the benefits now seem transitory at best. How do I help her enjoy and celebrate her accomplishment when what is valuable and what is not, keeps shifting? The losses they have, I can't fix, not the lost prom, the lost track season, the lost confirmation, picnics, field trips, all the extras that make April and May and June so crowded, all of it's gone.
I remember grousing about how busy we'd be, and now, it's all wiped clear. I have a daughter graduating from college, another from high school, another from eigth grade. Will they wear the robes? Will their degrees carry the weight of their work, or only the stamp and stigma of being 2020? I don't know. If there's a lesson from 2020, it's that. We don't know when will end. We don't know if next week, we'll have jobs. We don't know if when we order groceries, if they'll come. We don't know if the degrees will count. We don't know if colleges will be open in the fall. So my daughter has chosen her school, but the reality is, we do not know, we do not know, we do not know. What I do know is, we just have to live with this uncertainty as a constant, and that will change how we respond to everything.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

On Reopening for Business, the Corona Virus and Ignorance

Let's not play this game. Right now, the world is worried about the vision of an ongoing perpetual pandemic and we've got people in California, in Michigan, in Minnesota and other places protesting in a complaint that amounts to, "But Mommmm....all the other kids get to watch that show." I know Tiger King ended, but now isn't the time to audition for what could be the next Train Wreck Reality show smash hit.
Every place that understands we all hang together or we all hang seperately, is knuckling down for the long haul, knowing this will be hard on business, on education, on families, but not as hard as bodies stacked and burried in a mass grave. We need to counter the contagion of ignorance, which is more deadly to society than even this disease.
All of us are writers. All of us know how to use words to cut through something of the crud of life to reveal truth, and move hearts to feel something beyond what they'd planned before they read our work. The world right now, needs the gifts this room has to offer, in your local papers, to your local newscasts. Write Op-eds to whatever news source you watch/consume and let's start providing a counter to all the missinformation that people defend to the point (in this case) of potentially causing other people's deaths.
As to the reality of businesses being also a casualty of this pandemic, it is true. Right now, we have begun to overload the system with new claims of job losses, so we need to be equally creative in finding ways to work and provide means to work. Work has within it, a basic dignity beyond the pay check, and for most of us, is a necessity not only for finacial reasons, but as part of who we are. We've chosen professions for a reason, because they satisfy something in us that isn't found even in familial relationships.
The reality of this pandemic sets into sharp relief the difference between being a consumer who wishes to go on consuming, and a citizen who understands, our whole world depends upon us sublimating our desires to do what we want when we want it. Write to the states that keep opening up beaches and places and thus allow for a restart of the infection process. Write to your representatives and senators and urge them to find creative ways to let small businesses stay alive.
Call your small business friends and ask, what can I do? Call your friends who work for places that were furloughed and say, "What do you need?" Ask the local restaurants to give to the local shelters, or to make all their waitstaff delivery people, and give them the same wage, so they can go on. Create a national, let's support our local restaurants night a week, to help sustain them. Do the same with the other businesses out there.
As writers, we know, the most creative, resourceful, inventive weapon/machine/resource in the world, is the mind. If all of our minds push on the problem, the small minds that aren't seeing it, will be washed away by the tsuami of imaginative problem solving and civic strength from all of us. Call on all you know, via words, via phone, Zoom, and what have you, so that we who are trying both for those we love, and all around us who have loved ones, including the misguided, uninformed and self focused, can help save everyone from the primary threat (Disease and death) and the secondary one (economic ruin and ignorance).
I'm going to get off my soap box now and go write some letters.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Things Learned during the Corona Virus Quarantine

10) We annoy our pets. They don't want treats or walkies anymore, just some serious personal space.
9) Playing chopped at home is harder than it is on TV, and the judges are much much meaner.
8) While there's a finite supply of toilet paper, the surplus of stupid is near infinite.
7) While there's an infinite amount of fecal matter, the amount of stupid compounds the issue of toilet paper.
6) That meeting didn't even NEED an email.
5) Online learning works as well for children as it does for adults.
4) We're going to have Formal Fridays if only for the novelty.
3) Cookie therapy is real.
2) Disorganization and messiness were always a lifestyle choice and not a result of a lack of time.
1) Our tolerance for stupid is less than our supply of toilet paper.

At the Catholic Standard Today

Talking about Missing Jesus in the Eucharist. 

"Feel the presence of God in the midst of our fears and anxieties" --Fr. Tony in today's mass. 

It occurrs to me, the reason the disciples and the women did not know Jesus on first sight, was like we are now, when we are steeped in worry, and thus do not always see what is persent before us.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

We are always in Holy Saturday, awaiting the fullness of Easter

It’s Holy Saturday but before dawn, so it feels like a continuation of Good Friday, when I bet the followers of Jesus on that second day, struggled to rest.  The world must have felt empty, and the future, only uncertain. I imagine their thoughts and conversations must have churned over the whole of those three years and that Good Friday in a ruthless fashion.  “They’d crucified Jesus! How could He die?  Jesus raised people from the dead! He healed the blind. He cured the mute and the deaf and the lame and the sick! He cast out demons! He walked on water! He fed the 5,000.  He fed us. How? How? How could He die?” and “Why?”

I imagine they must have hunted through their memories for every word of His they could remember, most especially, that he’d warned them, He would suffer and die.  Palm Sunday must have felt like another lifetime ago, rather like the luxury of attending mass seems now.   We are in the midst of a storm knowing something of that emptiness, as our lives are stripped back, as the stores are stripped bare, and as the future for well, everything, is revealed to be what it always was, uncertain.   It makes all we do, an act of faith or a revelation of our fear of trusting in the Lord.   It’s easy to see how the apostles would have locked themselves in an upper room.

We are awaiting Easter with the knowledge it happened and is happening now.   That’s the gift of Holy Saturday for us.  One day, we will receive again the gift of being able to go to mass, to participate fully and receive.  We know it will be true infinitely should we respond to God’s invitation to love Him with a yes, forever.  We will be before the Lord of Hosts. We will be able to see and touch Jesus more than we have up to now whenever we’ve been given the blessing to receive.  Today, most especially this day, we’re between Good Friday and Easter in the world, with the knowledge this disease is about us and dangerous, and the hope of one day, being able to move about without fear.

Holy Saturday is a gift to the Church, as Jesus descended into Hell and preached the Good News of His endless love to the dead. (We profess this in the creed at every mass).  Holy Saturday must be a day of special joy to the souls in Purgatory it seems to me, because all time is now to God, and so the souls in Purgatory now, must be offered the gift of hearing God’s love, every Holy Saturday and all time in Purgatory must also be like that first Holy Saturday, the time in between death and life everlasting, where the souls hear and rejoice at the word.

If we want a slice of Heaven now, when we can only watch the mass but not partake fully, we should rejoice at the word, and live in hope of the eventual time when if we are so graced, we get to participate in the fullness of Holy Saturday, as a prelude to experiencing the fullness of Eternal Easter. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

And So the New Age Begins,

Who will we lose? My son informed me today, his summer boss died in his sleep of complications  from COVID-19. The reality of why we must stay at home even when it is hard, even when we are bored, even when we think it's over if some of us think it's over (it's not), hits home. How many people will not be in the restaurants or classrooms or pews because someone could not bear the idea of staying home.
It's easy to think, we'll be okay if we just go here or just go there, it's like diets. We think we can just cheat a little, but we all know with diets, cheating leads to not dieting which leads to not succeeding if the goal is to lose weight. The same reality exists here, except cheating leads to possibly someone dying and that someone, whoever that someone is, will be missed by many, by those who needed that someone, those who loved that someone, those who needed the love that someone gave.
The someone we affect, who gets infected may have had plenty of pre-existing conditions, but so do we all. We all come with pre-existing conditions that we wrestle with, it's just some have their pre-existing conditions more visible than others. Each time we go out, we endanger all the someones told they're essential, by what we bring out to the world, and all those who work with that someone or get needed resources from that someone.
If we want to be the somes that won in this battle against the Corona-Virus, we must stay home, and we must encourage everyone to do the same, not so that we will simply be safe, but so that all the someones out there will also be safe. Be someone important today, save all the someones.  We owe it to all the someones who die from this, to make that number as small as possible and help end it as soon as possible. 

What we should know from this pandemic is every one of us is essential.  We can all be the ones who fought the battle of Bedford Falls for everyone else, dying to our wants, dying to our preferences, our pettiness, in favor of having everyone we hope, survive this crisis.   Stay home!  

Over at the Standard Today

I got swamped and didn't cross reference this piece, but it's not too late. 

Celebrating Holy Week at Home.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Sherry's 2 Cents Worth

1) We're all in this together. We will survive or not based on understanding this reality.  If you don't understand this reality, you endanger everyone else. 

2) We need all the hotels near the hospitals to clean their buildings so we can have room for emergency places in the event the numbers of patients become beyond what the hosptials can bear. Here's where the feds can put some of that money, to pay the hotels, to rent the rooms so to speak, so that there will be space to keep people quarantined. 

3) We need business that can to make masks and ventilators and gloves, to mobilize as if for war, because this is a war against a virus to save the world. 

4) We need the food industry to repackage itself as take out only, you order online.  You pay online, you bring your phone with the code. It's scanned. The food is loaded in bags into the trunk of your car.   That way no one can overload, no one can fight over toilet paper.  No one exposes the employees and no one exposes the consumers. 

5) School.   Zoom Homeroom for attendance and emails of immediate concerns/needs/paperwork/announcements. 

Alternate day schedules, like college.  Academics online.   Office hours online. 

6) Religious services.  We've seen drive thru adoration --love it.  Drive thru confession.  Inspired, and we could hold drive in masses.  Everyone is parked.  Everyone participates.  Everyone is watching the same thing on their phone in their cars so everyone is participating, and sees the Body of Christ also participating. 

7) Movies --the return of the Drive in.   Bring your own snacks. 

We can get through this, and we'll be stronger for it, provided we keep allowing ourselves to think beyond what we've lost, and what we can't, to find what is possible. 

Just my two cents. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Things to Do OTHER than obsess over living through this...

100.  Listen to or watch a musical.  Put on and sing along.  You can.
99. Plant a garden.
98. Clear out your closet you've ignored for years.
97. Journal.
96. Bake something.
95. All those photos on your phone?  Make into a scrap book.
94. Read one of those books you've been meaning to...
93. Pick up or practice an instrument.
92. Write your representative/congressman.
91. Pray a rosary.
90. Begin a fitness regimen.
89. Write a letter to a friend. (Not an email).
88. Paint a room.
87. Play a game outside with your kids.
86. Draw with chalk on the driveway.
85. plan a vacation for when this is over.
84. take a course online.
83. hold a family talent show.
82. Create a rube-goldberg machine in your house.
81. Make soup.
80. Listen to/watch daily mass.
79. take an hour nap each day.
78. introduce yourself to a new type of music.
77. read poetry aloud.
76. write poetry.
75. Grill food.
74. Play wiffle ball with your family.
73. Texas Hold-em, let people dress up for it too. Do the color commentary if you have enough people.
72. They're trapped now, family photo for the Christmas letter.
71.  Take a long bubble bath during the day.
70. Donate blood.
69. Donate food.
68. Take a walk with just one other person from your family to give them time.
67. Create a Zoom meeting with your family, extended.
66. Eat cake for breakfast.
65. Go outside at night and look at the stars.
64. Take a virtual tour of a top museum.
63. Paint your nails.
62. Learn a craft --sewing/oragami, whathaveyou.
61. Marie Kondo your room.
60. Make a care package for someone else.
59. Spring Clean.
58. Bike ride.
57. Call your local pantry/food distribution service, see what they need.  Get it for them.
56. Make natchos.
55. There are thousands of podcasts. Find something to listen to and go for a walk by yourself.
54. Play cards.
53. Pillow fight.
52. Draw.
51. Write down stories from your childhood.
50. Read one of those magazines you get and stack and don't touch until you get a new one.
49. Declare a spa day.
48. Now is the time to learn how to play the video games with your kids, it will be their revenge for all the homeschooling you're now doing.
47. Capture the flag outside.
46. Hide and Seek Inside.
45. Every kid eligible for driving lessons should get their 60 hours of practice in, one hour at a time.
44. Trim the hedges, grasses and pine trees. --Yes, aggression towards plants is cathartic.
43. Plant roses.
42. Stretch.
41. Do a chore every day to help the house.
40. Chess challenge. (Bragging rights are fun).
39. Pray for our nurses, first responders, and all affected.
38. Clean up your resume.
37. Clear out your paperwork.
36.  Get 8 hours of sleep per day.
35. Call your relatives.  Talk. Listen. Enjoy.
34. Use the good plates.
33. Shower and get dressed every day.
32. Poppers and sparklers.
31. Read aloud a book that hits multiple ages.
30. Watch a play or symphony from the Kennedy Center or Shakespeare Company.
29. Ice Cream for dinner.
28. Host a picnic outside.
27. Spend a whole day reading.
26. Now is a time for talent shows, things that allow everyone to show off.
25. Listen to/watch the mass.
24. Create a quarantine play list. 
23. Pitch a tent in the backyard.  It makes for another place for kids to hunker down with books.
22. Rollerskate/scooter in the neighborhood.
21. Reorganize rooms. 
20. Take a quiz on your geography knowledge each day.
19. Try to spend a meal talking in another language.
18. Puppet shows. 
17. Card castles.
16. Make cookies.
15. Learn how to floss (the dance) until you don't embarrass your children.
14. Create a video of your family for your extended family.
13. Yoga
12. Sunrise Chaplet.
11. Drums. Both actual and homemade.  Again, theraputic.
10. Make lists of what you will do when this is over.
9.  Phone others to see how they are doing.  Ask what they need.
8.  Declare a screen free day. 
7.  STEM night at home. --kids as scientists/engineers
6.  Olympics at home. --family athletics at their finest. (or not).
5.  Art Museum at home. 
4.  Iron Chef Home edition. (More like Chopped but you get the idea).
3.  Scavenger hunt --sometimes adults have to pull out the stops. 
2.  Clean.  (I didn't want to put it on the list but there it is).
1.  And the final guaranteed way to get your kids to find something to do, ask the big question, "Have you done your school work? Do you need any help?"   Clears the room very quickly.

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