Another day, another story!
Well, I wrote a nice long eloquent blog for us all and then hit the wrong button and it deleted. So no pretty words. Just the bottom line.
Like most or many of you we are on lock down. It's amazing how much you love your space until you can't leave it. Right? Or maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm just itchy. Hankering for a road trip with none forthcoming for a good while. So me and Mama - on the hill. Have some precious family we still see because we have all been shut in and exposed to one another and no one else. If that changes - no visitors. No tea with Sister or laughing with my son Chris and his little wolf pack or my beautiful niece and handsome nephew. Our tribe will downsize if and when that happens to two. Me and Mama on the hill. The way it's been for a long long time. But. - You guys are missing loved ones too. Thank God for Skype, FaceTime, zoom - take your pick. Tech suddenly matters more than it ever has.
In our world. I am covered in paint. There is paint in my hair. I have not worried about washing it out. Who cares? I don't. I have painted the kitchen. cabinets and the baseboards and the pantry. It has made a gallon of paint seem like the stuff the universe was born from. Like magical stardust I tell you. Like a fairy godmother came along and gave me a wish and I said - Geez maybe you could do something with those old nasty brown cabinets and that spider ridden mouse attracting pantry. Voila. She did. Only the she was me. Day in and out. Write, work, record. Then paint. Sometimes wander downstairs exhausted at 5:30 and then pick up a paint brush to paint while I cooked dinner and while I ate. I have drug (as we southerners are prone to say) Mama's rocking chair into the kitchen so she can sit and eat and watch and drink coffee and say - you missed a spot. And she is delighted. I also figured out how to string up a light in the pantry of dark-y dark darkness where cans always fell on your foot and you could grope around for days with a flashlight trying to find something you were looking for. If I should die from Covid next week you guys should know - that girl can paint. But she can be a little messy with it. Not on the walls - those are good. Trim, good. Cabinets good. Pantry pristine. Like - dudes - I've always imagined the property brothers coming in the house to tell me - this house just doesn't have any good bones to start with. you gotta bulldoze. And I'll say - NOT THE PANTRY. Cause I figured out to hide a fuse box the size of weather balloon. This pantry was never meant to be a pantry. It was - a spider holder. A mouse farm. BUT now - It's a freaking pantry and that's what I would tell them. Take the house if you must but leave me the pantry because it may be one of the single greatest accomplishments of my life. Yes, this is what corona has done to me thank you very much.
That and I've come down to only two major important food groups. Coffee. Red wine. That's it. I mean I'm going straight up basics.
Sure - I have flour, beans, rice. Yes - people can live on that for years according to my depression era rural poor family. All we ate was one biscuit a day and we were glad to get it. On Christmas it came with a little syrup on the side. That's it. And we pulled cotton in the cotton field in the hot sun - note to ya'll - do not ever open the door to get stories about picking cotton in the hot sun because I can tell you it is the worst work you can ever get but by God if you do it and keep doing it to survive you are one of the strongest people on the planet. I was raised working yes but also lying on the beach in the sun with Banana Boat intense MUST TAN BEFORE YOU WEAR THIS tanning lotion and baby oil and Iodine. I tanned professionally. Seriously. And my dear Grandmother who would move heaven and earth to be with me and protect me looked at me like I was crazy. Slightly. Not full on cause she loved me too much but she would say honey, stay out of that sun. That's because I didn't have to pick cotton sunup to sundown to survive in that hot dusty field with only one biscuit to eat all day. So the sun meant something else to me. It was like - an accessory for the skin.
But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, the plague. Writers. Stories and so forth.
We should be writing fabulous stories filled with pages of life changing words. But because writers can also be shape shifters many of us fill the pain a little close to the bone of every person who has died around the globe knowing that each one is attached to their life story and the stories of all the people who loved them and never got to say goodbye so we are having a hard time CONCENTRATING.
Yes, that is a little bit of an issue. And then we have a flip side of - I just don't care that I'm not concentrating. What difference does it make anyway? And also an underlying anxiety that I AM NOT PRODUCING because - maybe it's me, a writer thing, an American thing - I don't know but I am always wanting to hustle, produce, create, finish, record, promote. Hang Ten. So this strange ball of confusion engulfs me where I don't know should I rush out of the bed and do sit-ups and push ups? Or check all the socials? Socials win. I've never been so dependent on social media to connect me to other people who like me are disconnected.
I'm thinking tomorrow I'll wake up ready to rock and roll and be my old self. But tomorrow hasn't come.
In January - January 21 when I first saw the videos leaking out of China I went to bed at night, barely slept, and saw what was heading our way and would not be stopped. For days I kept checking the numbers in China not believing them for a moment and watching the flight trajectory's of the last planes leaving Wuhan and the trains stations. And, I knew. So what did I do?
I watched four seasons of THE EXPANSE on Amazon Prime and painted cabinets. After all, this was serious times and took serious measures. But I realized somethings - the big pictures, the national picture, the safety of all humanity was out of my hands. I hate that when it happens. But hasn't it now?
So - as I told my son, Nick yesterday on FaceTime - I'm not afraid of dying - I'm more afraid of letting your nana die. My primary focus has been to help her stay alive into her 90s so this monster has put me in the awkward position of protecting her from - everything. Infection. people. Marauders. Hopelessness. Fear. Hunger. I forget. She's a babe of the depression. She's tough as nails and stronger than I am. No, she can't go out or be infected but mentally - I asked her once - What was it like Mama in the depression? She said - Hell, we don't know there was a depression. It just leveled the playing ground. We had always been depressed.
See what I mean?
So when I say hey - I've got firewood if the power goes out. We've got iron skillets and beans and flour and water. And she says - We can live a year off that. She means it.
In the meantime - while we are still in this spot and living on the edge I will not lie. I am not taking this time- at least not yet -- to embark on some new GEEZ isn't this just. A GREAT TIME to get into fighting shape and meditate and fast and pray. Not. yet. I told a friend the other night on a l zoom social - I should be fasting and praying not drinking. And he sagely said - I think there is a time for fasting and a time for prayer and a time for drinking. And that this is a time for drinking.
The world has turned topsy turvy. The writers I know and love who are friends of mine had book tours scheduled and new releases coming out. The kids were in school looking toward family vacation. Now everyone is sheltered in place and nothing is the same. we watch posts from friends who are doctors and nurses working twelve -fourteen hour shifts without the proper medical supplies and we cry with them to survive. And our stories suffer a little. They do. The ones we are meant to be writing. But that won't be forever. Out of this many stories will be born. Wait and see. I promise you.
I cling to every shred of good news and human kindness. I love that Willie and Paul Simon were playing for free with a host of others. I love that writers are offering free readings, lessons, artists of all kinds the same. That we are embracing one another across all of our social distances the best we can. And many of us preciously appreciating every golden moment.
There hasn't been a moment of this time that I have forgotten about my readers, my friends, my family far and wide. Or my stories waiting to be told. I've just been caught in a limbo of sorts. A what was and what will be. I've thought - geez I should have learned to work a garden like my Grandaddy Skipper but it was easier for me to be in the city of NY where I could pick up food every night at the week from the bogettara down the street. Which would allow me more time to write and record and produce. That's been my hustle and love and passion and lifestyle along with loving my family for many years. Now? Should I learn to bake bread? Grow Potatoes? Cut my own hair? (I'm about thirty minutes out of doing this?) Do I sit and wait or create a new lifestyle. Have things changed for a little while or have they changed forever? Only time will tell.
In the meantime - I encourage you to - well, not be like me. To not be anxious, for anything. To reach out by phone and FaceTime or whatever portal works for you to connect with people. If you can't concentrate on a new book - pick up one of your favorite old ones and reread it. Sometimes that is more soothing. Binge watching a new series. Oh, for heaven's sake - YES. If there was ever a time for you to get lost in discovering the excellence of Stranger Things in all it's glorious 80s then it is now. I do believe in daily sending out what I believe is light, peace, goodness, healing - to the entire planet. To - as one Italian man told me in Lorca, Italy one night - It's a party not just for some of the peoples but FOR ALL THE PEOPLES. If there has ever been a time that we are going through something together as one people on this planet this is it. My tag line in some of my bios is - A southern girl with a global heart. (Someone once said - I don't know what that means) I hope you do now. I've never known a time that we were as connected, that we needed to share ideas, discoveries, hope, laughter, and love with people from every corner of the world then now.
Perhaps tomorrow, this real tomorrow, I'll get up and get back into the stories I'm writing and they will flow as freely as red wine. But if they don't - I'll be gentle with myself knowing that time will come. Surely, it will come. And take solace in the fact that Mama can rock in the kitchen while I make peas and cornbread. That we can sit on the porch and watch the sunset. That in the am - dawn will come. And, with it there is always a glorious chance for the resurrection of hope.
Peace, Light and Love to you All.
* We are a tough people we humans. We surprise ourselves at every turn. And if we have in the course of modern society taken a few things for granted, fast food - movie theaters, gathering easily with friends, hugs, kisses, love, life - we'll come out of this on the other side with a little more wisdom for the worry.
This famous photo:
This woman is Florence Thompson, age 32, and the mother of five children. She was a peapicker in California. When this picture was taken by Dorothea Lange, Florence had just sold her family's home for money to buy food. The home was a tent.
In an interview available on YouTube, Florence revealed that her husband Cleo died in 1931. She picked 450 pounds of cotton a day. She moved to Modesto in 1945 and got a job in a hospital.
Thanks so much for reading, liking and sharing with friends.