Back to home/school

Oh my friends…

Here we are. September halfway gone. 2020 nothing like we imagined when we thought to ourself on New Year’s Day: I’m going to make 2020 the BEST YEAR EVER.

I left my home today (an incredibly rare occurrence. Since March 13th I’ve been out of the house on my own five times, and three of those times were to Trader Joe’s). This afternoon when homeschool ended I was feeling bold: a trip to the post office (to drop-off prepaid packages, no waiting in line) and then to the bank to get some cash, “just in case” (not exactly prepper cash, just enough to finally pay the kids their allowance rather than continuing to borrow their allowance out of their own wallets so that I have $2 to give them while also giving them a note, or adding on last week’s note, I O U $4 $6).

I brought a jar of change to the bank. While otherwise life bubbles along smoothly, our nation is undergoing a coin shortage. I thought to myself: today, I will be part of the solution. So I put the jar of change into the car in case I could turn it in at the bank and be a hero. But when I arrived, I found that only the ATM and drive thru were open, and usually they don’t take coin deposits through the drive thru (I didn’t check, truth be told). But all of these errands had only taken about 15 minutes and I was loving life out there on the open road. What to do? A flash of brilliance: I will go to the Coinstar at the Giant and turn in all of my coins. Why? Because heroes endure. So I drove to the Giant, quite excited about this new turn of events (mostly because it had occurred to me that I might write about my adventure). I arrived. Parked. Saw an older man get out of his lovely vintage Mustang not wearing a mask and walking towards the automatic doors splashed with a large sign: Masks Required. My brain asked questions. Maybe I’ll even walk in and buy some Claussen pickles, I thought. And then I walked into the store — well, first I tried to go in through the OUT door but that was embarrassing and then I walked in through the IN door, saw the “out of order” sign on the Coinstar machine and immediately circled to the OUT door at which point I knew that Mustang man thought I was insane. Walked straight to my car. Felt like crying, but did not.

Sitting in the car almost crying after failing to make an insignificant and questionably useful contribution to society reminded me of the other time, two weeks ago, when I finally loaded the car with the items, accumulating since March, deemed no longer necessary to our ‘new normal’. I drove to the Goodwill only to be turned away (mine was the second car turned away, the car two in front of me was successful in her quest to simplify) because there was no room left for additional donations. I did cry on that August afternoon.

After no more than a teacup of tears were shed I reminded myself that this is hardly front-line work. I can survive an unsuccessful trip to offload my excess shit. It just felt overwhelming, like nothing in this whole crazy world is working. NOT EVEN A GOODWILL DONATION?

I came home and ate some chips and hummus.

I still haven’t had the guts to try to return my overdue library books. I hope they meant it when they said fees are waived. Unless I can pay with the change….

***

I wrote this two weeks ago (but didn’t post) as a means of introducing you to the two newest members of our family:

Hello friends!
It’s been a couple of months since I last posted to the blog. Contrary to how it might seem to almost everyone I’ve ever known but haven’t spoken to since March, I and my family still exist. I told someone that I hadn’t seen a friend, in person, between March 13th and August 25th and that person seemed shocked. Which, in turn, shocked me. Wait, isn’t that what people are doing (I thought to myself). Haven’t we all been sitting inside or outside, but alone, I mean with only our spouse and children and dog, and possibly our parents or sibling, for the last six months?? Am I the only one who has left the house (except for minimal exercise in the form of very brief walks with the dog when guilt occasionally overcame me) three times since March (all three of those trips being to go to Trader Joe’s)? Am I the only one who wore the same pair of navy blue sweatpants every day for the months of June through August?

It turns out the answer is maybe. Perhaps I was just looking for a reason.

Summer is at an end. What have we done to prepare for at least one, likely four, and possibly an eternity of all living in very close proximity while all trying to … something, I don’t know, remind me what it is we are trying to do other than not read the news and make sure to eat (and not just chips and hummus)? So, in preparation for the new homeschool year, we have two new pets. I realized, after the fact, that assuming responsibility for two additional lifeforms, plus the dog, two kids, a non-traveling spouse, all here together in our American-small home was — it was not a moment of clarity.

Our neighbors had a suckerfish. Suckerfish eat other fish and our neighbors acquired some other fish so the suckerfish needed a new home. The daughter of the neighbors (she herself being a neighbor) knocked on our door and (through the mail slot because we are trying to fully ingrain one unnamed member’s antisocial behavior into all living creatures at our domicile) she offered me the fish. I didn’t know what to do. Oh no, I did know what to do. I told her: we don’t have a tank. Oh, we have an extra tank, she said. Okay, um, we don’t have any food. We have extra food. Well then, I thought, tank and food, sure, we can keep this thing alive for a while. How hard can it be?

Short story long, they didn’t have a tank. And a suckerfish has to have an oxygenated tank (why doesn’t a goldfish? I don’t know) so another neighbor went to the house of yet another neighbor who had some old aquarium equipment that turns out doesn’t all work together, it’s a hodgepodge of bits and pieces from a range of aquatic environments but would not serve to keep “Flippy” alive. So the father of the child who offered us the fish purchased a lovely aquarium after realizing that “Flippy” was going to be leaving his house to come to ours. So, hey, free aquarium and suckerfish. Flippy seems super happy here. He sleeps all day and hides and we never see him because he blends in to the back of the tank. I don’t know how much food he needs. We just sprinkle some in sometimes and I’m told he can also eat the algae that grows on the tank (well, it was a 7-year-old who told me) and is sort of self-sufficient. Stay tuned. I think his official name is “Flappy” (Sam had the honors) but I call him Flippy because that was the original proposal and also: Oh, have you met our fish, Flappy Hole?

All this happened because Maggie has been full court press for a hamster for the past two months. Why? I don’t know. But her father told her she could have one. So they chose a cage and a wheel and the little house and the food bowl and the shavings and the healthy seed mix and got it all set up and then went and purchased Sir Galahad last Friday. He is still alive which I wasn’t really expecting. (Update: He runs every night on his hamster wheel, which for the first two weeks was immobile due to excess of bedding material. It sounds like Rolling Thunder, all night. At least at any point in the night when I’m conscious and then again first thing in the morning. Where is he going? Why? Should I feel bad?) I’ve watched a few more YouTube videos than I would have preferred with a very knowledgeable young lady who seems to care a lot about hamsters. I do have some questions for her wardrobe team though. I don’t know who all these people are watching her videos (she has what some might consider an unwarranted number of followers). Is it all people who have hamsters? Or do some people just like to watch her talking about hamsters dressed in her crop top with the cleavage peep-hole? It’s confusing to me.

In summary: hiding from the world. Spent part of the summer in Alabama. Please don’t be offended that I didn’t call you while I was down there. I thought that was what we were all doing.

Not going to mention anything about the world circus.

Oh, I did see something I really liked: The Farmlink Project.

Remember when we were reading about all of the farms that couldn’t get produce to market so it was all going to waste? And then all of the people who needed food? Well, a couple of college kids started this project, supporting farmers, getting food to people. Thank you Farmlink Project.

What else? I’ve submitted 18 pieces of writing for publication. 13 rejections. 5 outstanding.

I’ve written a lot since February (I know it is not obvious based on the regularity of my blog posts).

I’ve started taking piano lessons again. Remotely of course. I think it is probably the best thing I have ever done for myself in my whole entire life.

I’ve also been writing haiku recently.

squirrels wear no pants
living free from questions like
when they were last washed

***

played Patience tonight
don’t care much for Axl’s voice
splendid whistling though

***

thank you for reading
Summer is gone and we are
all still in my house

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