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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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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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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Solidarity Sunday #10: Uncertainty

She wanted so to be tranquil, to be someone who took walks in the late-afternoon sun, listening to the birds and crickets and feeling the whole world breathe. Instead, she lived in her head like a madwoman locked in a tower, hearing the wind howling through her hair and waiting for someone to come and rescue her from feeling things so deeply that her bones burned. She had plenty of evidence that she had a good life. She just couldn’t feel the life she saw she had. It was as though she had a cancer of the perspective.

Carrie Fisher, Postcards from the Edge

Now, let me just preface this with saying that the use of the quote above is not in any way shape or form a cry for help. I’m very aware that I am lucky enough to have an incredibly wonderful life that is so full of joy, adventure and happiness.

And yet.

This quote spoke to me when I flipped through my book of beautiful words today because of the peculiar experience we are all living in this moment (or at least, in most parts of Canada, I recognize each nation’s experience is different).

More and more people are getting vaccinated and as a result, case numbers have been falling and life is starting to open up again. And when I say open up, I don’t mean just economically. People throughout the country are feeling free to once again hug their loved ones, to show off babies born during the depths of the pandemic, to heave a sigh of relief over a long-overdue drink with a dear friend.

And, believe me, I’ve been feeling much of this relief as well. My family has remained fairly careful but we are indeed starting to see more people: if still largely socially-distanced (something my 18-month-old daughter struggles to understand). I even had Aria in Mom-and-Tot swimming lessons this past week which was glorious – and her development has advanced in leaps and bounds simply as a result of those 5 days around other kids. It’s magnificent to watch.

But.

And yes, there is still a but. This isn’t over. While Louis and I are both vaccinated, Aria is not (and nor are any of our friends’ kids). So opening up completely is still out of the question. And then you have the Delta variant emerging more and more causing case numbers to crawl up again and bringing with it the looming threat of further lockdowns.

So, you have this confluence of society opening up, vaccines being doled out to those willing to take them, and new more contagious and dangerous variants leading to a perfect storm of…uncertainty.

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Reading Roundup: July 2021

His money went largely towards books, which to him were like sacred objects, providing ballast for his mind.

Michelle Obama, Becoming

It only took me months to do so (or years really if you look at when it was published) but I finally finished Michelle Obama’s Becoming this month and I must say it was well worth the time commitment. Now, let me be clear, I do not mean that this is not an especially long book but rather that finding 18 hours to listen to the audiobook proved challenging with an 18-month-old to run around after. But, I did it! It has finally been moved to my “Read” list. And it feels damn good.

This book is infinitely quotable. Michelle’s writing style is lyrical and moving filled with keen observations and oh so much heart. I’m not sure if I’ll be doing reviews of audiobooks on here – I suppose that depends if I remain in this slump of physical book readings – but consider this my highest recommendation. Do give it a go if you have the chance!

While I won’t be doing a deep dive into my reflections on her book here (perhaps in a later post…) I will say that the quote I featured above actually elicited an unexpectedly joyful reaction in me as I recognized part of myself in the former President of the United States (and one of the few I have legitimately admired while in office – don’t sue me).

Ask my husband, our house is chockfull of books. I’m talking more bookshelves than any other piece of furniture we own, and each of them completely filled to the brim. And the piles, oh the piles of books without a home. And the worst part? Most of them I haven’t even yet read! I just can’t help picking up every single intriguing book I come across. They truly are irresistible to me.

Well, OK, I guess I’m not treating them like sacred objects if I’m piling them all over the place but…they are most certainly a ballast to my ever-turbulent mind.

And with that, let’s take a look at all the not-books I read this month instead of rescuing some of the ever-multiplying tomes from their dusty prisons!

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Solidarity Sunday #9: Technology

Now there are times when a whole generation is caught in this way between two ages, two modes of life, with the consequence that it loses all power to understand itself and has no standard, no security, no simple acquiescence.”

Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf

I’m posting this one day late for a very good reason, which is that I got my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday! As a result, yesterday was a bit of a write-off with my immune system trying to figure out how to handle this new intruder but I’m feeling much better today. And so, Solidarity Monday it is!

Thus, without further ado, lets talk about technology in the pandemic, shall we?

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