Solidarity Sunday #14: Miscommunications

It seems a common human failing to prefer the schematic authority of a text to the disorientations of direct encounters with the human

Edward Said, Orientalism

How many months are we into this pandemic? How many years? I’m honestly not sure at this point but I think it is roughly as old as my daughter so 2? Or just about? Years that is…

If you’re even remotely in the same headspace as me, it feels like the past 2 years (did I get that right…?) have been one never-ending screening of groundhog day.

With one main exception.

No, I’m not talking about the lack of Bill Murray’s dry sense of humour. I mean, I’m sure most of us have developed a similar outlook on life over the course of this constant strain on our psyches. I’m also sure that most of us have had the desire to run outside at some point yelling WHAT ABOUT BOB?! … er… ME?!

Oh, right, wrong Bill Murray movie.

But I digress

This little guy gets a bad rap. How is he responsible for winter’s length? Photo by Doug Brown on Pexels.com
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Reading Roundup: November 2021 – January 2022

I noticed years ago that when people (myself definitely included) are anxious they tend to busy themselves with irrelevant activities, because these distract from and therefore reduce their actual experience of anxiety. To stay perfectly still is to feel the fear at its maximum intensity, so instead you scuttle around doing things as though you are, in some mysterious way, short of time.

John Cleese, So, Anyway…

Yet again, something I read resonated in such a visceral way that it could only have possibly been written just for me…or so I felt!

Though, perhaps this quote doesn’t just speak to me. Perhaps, just maybe, so many of us have been feeling the need to keep as busy as possible (mostly on our phones) over the past two years in order to avoid as much as we can the pervasive anxiety brought on by living through a global pandemic.

I know my own pandemic experience is not everyone’s but I have definitely realized over the last month or so of reflection that while I likely have more time now than I would have in more normal circumstances (even if I only take into account our lack of social outings), it feels like I am constantly running out of it.

Yes, I know, parenting is busy and I have heard time and again from parents that they don’t know what they did with all their time before they had kids. And they’re not wrong, I definitely feel that. But the absence of playdates, activities, dinners with friends, appointments, etc. etc. etc. should, logically, mean that even with kids to look after…we have more free time, no? So why in heaven’s name does every day fly by at the speed of light and end with me thinking I’ve accomplished nothing?

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

I agree with Mr. Cleese. I likely feel this way because I’ve spent all day focusing on largely irrelevant tasks in order to distract myself from the overwhelming anxiety of making it through this pandemic with my health, sanity and relationships still intact. No wonder my phone is never out of sight… Homescapes, after all, manages to feel productive while being nothing of the sort. I mean, I am helping Austin renovate a house after all. Who cares if my real life house is a mess??

I’m not sure if this counts as irrelevant task or not, but I have been somehow keeping up with my rather intense pace of article and blog reading (though perhaps at the expense of my ability to get through books in a timely manner…) and thus, without further ado, I will share with you all of the wonderful bits of less-than-immediately-relevant information that I have stuffed in my brain in an effort to crowd out the anxiety.

Did this method work? … I’ll get back to you on that.

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Resolving 2022

The pandemic is like being a ghost – you see the world, remember being in it and wish you were in it again.”

George Saunders

Well, dear reader I’m back. How are you? How were your holidays?

Mine? They were…different. After finding out on December 23rd that we had been in contact with a positive case of Covid, and considering all three people in my household were sick, we ventured out on Christmas Eve for the glorious gift of having swabs stuck up our noses.

Now, I say that with some sarcasm but the ability to get tested was a gift indeed. We just didn’t know it at the time. Read on.

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Solidarity Sunday #13: A Very Covid Christmas

Nothing ever seems too bad, too hard or too sad when you’ve got a Christmas tree in the living room.

Nora Roberts

Well, here we are again, dear reader. Another Covid Christmas. Sigh. Didn’t we all hope and pray, to whatever Gods or Greater Powers seemed most accessible, that this would be over by now? And yet…here we are.

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Reading Roundup: October 2021

The thing about a diversion is that it has to be diverting.

Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl

Well now, hello out there! It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

I thought the quote above from one of the brilliant books I finished last month was too perfect to explain my absence this past 30 days or so as it has two possible interpretations (that I know of).

You could look as the word diversion as meaning something which takes one away from tedium or stress – a way to relax and recharge. I have definitely been focusing on this type of activity over the last month when I had moments to breathe in the midst of a hectic season. And, unfortunately, I have not yet gotten to the point with writing where it is merely a diversion (in this sense of the word at least), though I do indeed find it enjoyable! So this could be one reason I’ve been absent. On the bright side, taking some time off has led to a decent amount of reading.

However, the other definition of the word is something that knocks or draws someone off course, and that could also be said to be the reason I’ve taken a bit of a break from these blogs lately…With several illnesses having hit the household in quick succession throughout October and November (none of them serious, and none of them Covid thank goodness) followed by a particularly crazy couple weeks of work culminating in a national convention. Well…it’s no wonder I’ve been less-than-dedicated to my blogging goals, no?

Regardless, this quote spoke well to what the last month has looked like for me, and the reason(s) for my silence, but I’m back! And that’s what truly matters, isn’t it? Get back on that horse, and all that.

And now for October’s…literary diversions.

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Book Review: The Fiery Cross

I did it, I did it, I did it!

I cannot tell you how proud (and a little bit ashamed) I am to finally be able to say I finished this monster of a book.

Yes, I know, there are longer books. And yes, I know I embarked on this particular one voluntarily. But both these facts are besides the point.

The point here is that past-Erin in a moment of pure brilliance (read: stupidity) decided that the best way to break a several-years-running reading slump was to pick up the longest book she had in her possession. The result of this once-believed-to-be-brilliant plan? I’ve been stuck on this book since March. MARCH.

Thanks…Erin.

However, all of that frustration is now (mostly) in the past as the book has been closed for the last time – it most certainly won’t be a re-read any time soon at least – and I can now write my review. So, let’s get on with it, shall we?

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Solidarity Sunday #12: Ritual

Rowing was a religion for me, composed of a set of rituals and movements repeated until they became a meditation.

Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches

I am just now, very belatedly, listening to the Artemis Fowl series on audiobook. I know, I know, they’re middle-grade and perhaps not meant for a woman of my age, being somehow already in my mid-thirties.

However, I am a firm believer in the idea that books are not meant for any particular time of life. You may read a more adult piece of literary fiction at 15 (as I did when I read Jane Eyre) and find it changes your perspective on life. On the flip side, you may read works meant for young teens in your thirties and find yourself grinning ear to ear at their brilliance (as I am now). Regardless of your age, good writing is good writing, is it not?

I don’t care how old you are – do you not want to dive into these shelves and never leave? Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

OK, Erin, what is your point.

Well, in the first Artemis Fowl book, without giving away any spoilers, we find out that The People (magical beings such as fairies) are required to regularly perform The Ritual to ensure that their magic powers remain topped up and ready to use. If a fairy goes too long without performing The Ritual, their powers may fail them when they need them most.

While we mere humans (or, mud people as we are called in these novels) may not have a supply of magical powers, we too rely on various rituals in order to feel and perform our best.

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Reading Roundup: September 2021

What our lives but a series of farewells and returns, no?

Esi Edugyan, Washington Black

After last month’s triumphant exclamation of having finally found a good rhythm for my reading habit…this past month knocked this nascent habit off course. Again. I’m trying not to get too impatient, however, as my lovely toddler’s sleep regressions are no joke (and in no way under my control).

This isn’t the season of my life when I’m going to do the most reading. I keep having to remind myself of this fact. And, more importantly, reminding myself that I’m not bidding the habit of reading farewell but rather À Bientôt! Because to this habit I will return. Eventually.

But, for now, I did manage to read some interesting articles and blogs in September, if not so many books.

Hmm…there’s a lesson in there somewhere…

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The Beaches: Finale

We do not always remember the things that do no credit to us. We justify them, cover them in bright lies or with the thick dust of forgetfulness.

Neil Gaiman, American Gods

And now we have come, at last, to my final post about our tour of the Normandy Beaches. The fifth in the series. It has been a long road! Not only was this trip all the way back in 2015 (6 years?!) but I wrote my first post about the DDay beaches back in March of this year.

After spending so much time combing through these memories, and getting lost in the subsequent waves of heavy emotions, it’s kind of strange to be leaving this place yet again.

However, there is more death and destruction to come since my Dad and I ended our trip with a stay in The Somme…thanks for sticking around, dear reader, as I attempt to make sense of these experiences. As they happened so long ago, I figured I was far enough removed to write about them without emotional consequence. Boy was I wrong.

I do hope these posts on the Dday landings and their aftermath have not been as hard to read as they were to write. And if they were, while I apologize, I hope they helped reinforce how pointless war is. The cause may be just (depending on who you ask), but is the method ever so? I’m not so sure.

So, without further ado, let’s see this series to the end. Shall we?

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Solidarity Sunday #11: Rest

People who know what they’re doing have a purposeful air to them, even if they don’t seem to be particularly active

Francis Pryor, Home

Hello my dear readers. I hope this missive finds you well, truly well, or as well as can be given the uncertainties of our times.

Yes, I know, all time can be said to be uncertain since all we can do is experience the present as it is without the means (or perhaps even the desire) to change the past or to predict the future. But this last year-and-a-half has seemed even more hazy, has it not? Hazy in the literal sense with the continuation of the horrific forest fires being fought and, unfortunately, succumbed to when all else fails in communities all over the world (to say nothing of the heat domes, floods and, conversely, droughts). But for the majority of us this time has been hazy in the figurative sense as we struggle with a collective brain fog making what were once every day activities seem exhausting and perhaps pointless.

Right now, in Ontario at least, we are in a bit of a lull as far as the pandemic is concerned. This is not to suggest that our frontline workers are not pushing themselves to the limit every day to keep us all safe, fed, clothed and healthy – because they are – but rather that our case numbers have been thankfully reduced to something slightly more manageable overall. For now.

But is another wave coming? Some say yes, some say no. And I will not claim the all-too-common title of internet-accredited epidemiologist whose views are confirmed and bolstered by the echo chambers of the world wide web. I will simply say that I am hoping another wave can be avoided, that I am cautiously optimistic about this, but that I am preparing myself internally for another lockdown if such measures are necessary for us to get through this damn thing once and for all.

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