Social Distancing

These are strange times. School suspended, stores closed and toilet paper is becoming its own currency. So, as I’ve said before, since my husband had a kidney transplant a few years ago, we have to be extra careful he doesn’t pick up a bug.

And I’m just talking a normal, run of the mill bug, not this crazy super virus we are all facing now.  Because of COV19, we are having to self-quarantine to be safe. Which is pretty normal for me because I’m a writer. Writers are known to be recluses. But even I get antsy at times, and I thought you must be too. So, I did some research and came up with a few ideas of things you can do while you’re staying home.

  • Read a book (or several). Didn’t you know that would be at the top of my list?
  • Start journaling. Yes, it’s something you’ve said you were going to do for years.
  • Bake! Try that 4 tiered cake your grandmother used to make, or just experiment.
  • Interact with your family. You might be surprised at how much you like them.
  • Take an online class. There are lots of great cooking, photography, language classes, etc.
  • Learn to knit or crochet. If you already know how, make something for me. J
  • Start an online book club.
  • Play video games (but limit your time).
  • Take a walk, but stay away from others.
  • Use Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom, or any other means to hold an online party to chat with your friends.
  • Clean your house. Why not? What else have you got to do?  (This one didn’t work for me. LOL.)
  • Do yard work. You’ll feel great when it’s done and it looks great.
  • Binge watch a fabulous TV series
  • Play cards or games.
  • Tackle a project in the house. Yes, it’s finally time to build that new book shelf!
  • Write that book you’ve always want to write.

Well, that’s about all I could think of for now, but I’d welcome any suggestions you want to add. What are you doing to pass the time while social distancing?

It’s That Time Again

I’ve been sneezing, coughing and my nose is running. No, I don’t have COVID 19. I’ve got seasonal allergies. As most of you know, I live outside of Houston, and this time of year, all of SE Texas has a layer of fine yellow pollen EVERYWHERE! The pollen is so thick that when it rains, there are rivulets of yellow running along the ground. So, March is peak allergy season here.

Did you know that according to the National Institutes of Health, more than half of all Americans have one or more allergies? Fortunately, I don’t have any food allergies (that I know of, thank goodness). Allergies to shellfish, nuts, fish, milk, eggs, and other foods cause an estimated 150 to 200 fatalities a year in the United States. And of course there are the allergies to animals, the most common being to dogs and cats. Again, I’m thanking my lucky stars I don’t suffer from animal allergies. I’ve always had dogs and cats.

I’ve never actually been tested for allergies, but I know there is something every spring that sets me off. And the bad news? As the world gets warmer, allergy seasons lengthen. Researchers report that ragweed pollen season in North America has lengthened since 1965—by 16 days in Minneapolis, for instance.

 

At least I know that by mid-April, most of what bugs me is gone—until next year.

Do you have any allergies?

Saying Goodbye

Losing a parent is something we all face.  It’s a painful, a personal type of grief, that we must all find a way to internalize and get past the emotionally crippling feeling, and then to live with the emptiness that fills our chest and lives. There is something so hard and lonely about knowing that the person who loved you more than anyone, the person you knew would do anything to protect you, is no longer in this world.  And I don’t think there’s one way, or a right way to deal with that feeling.  Everyone deals with this kind of grief differently.

I recently lost my father, and I’m coping by doing a lot of remembering.  Taking a stroll down memory lane, reliving the good times.  Letting a memory of laughter soothe the ache.  And there was a lot of laughter where my father was concerned.  Like the time we visited a casino when he sat beside me while I played poker slots, and when the option for double or nothing would appear, he’d hit it before I could decline.  I’d say, “Why did you do that?”

 

He’d laugh and say, “Look, I just won you twenty dollars, and when I didn’t win he’d blame it on me for not holding my mouth right, or because I didn’t curl my toes.  Before long, we had attracted a huge crowd all laughing with us, waiting to hear what crazy thing Dad would say next.  It was an example of how people love to be around happy people and laughter.

 

I will never forget the time he had open heart surgery, and I stayed to take care of him for two weeks.  He had a heart a shaped pillow and he would have me come close, he’d put the pillow on his chest and I would press against him so he could cough.  This one time he sat on the edge of the sofa, I stood right in front of him.  He had it bad and for several minutes, coughing and dealing with the pain that came with it.  I had tears in my eyes, knowing he was hurting.  I would lean my head down and say over and over again, “I’m sorry, Dad.  I’m sorry.”

He managed to say, “Christie, I need to tell you something.”

“What?”

“It’s . . . hard to say.”

My chest filled with emotion so tight that it hurt, I waited for him to tell me how much he appreciated that I was there.  How much he loved me.  Then in a raspy voice, he finally got the words out.  “You need a breath mint.”

I burst out laughing.  He started laughing, and that hurt him even more, so he told me to leave the room.  “Now.  Get out.  Leave.”  When I walked back in, he’d take one look at me and start laughing again.  I spent the next few hours going in and out of the room.

When he was in the hospital once, he told me in his deep tone, “You have to be a real man to deal with this kind of pain.”  Then he cut his twinkling blue eyes up at me and said, “I’m not a real man.”

We laughed our way through heart surgeries, knee surgeries, lung surgeries, and the time he almost took his leg off with a saw.  The time he fell off a ladder.  There was the time he got shot in the stomach with a nail gun.  Someone once accused him of doing things just to get to me to come to Alabama to visit.

I loved that man. And even more importantly I knew I was loved.

But in between smiling at those memories, I will have those brief moments, sometimes only seconds when I forget he’s gone and I think of him as still here, still alive.  I want to tell him something, call to check and see if how he’s feeling, but when I remember he’s gone, I tear up and feel that wave of emotion that I thought I’d moved past.

I know it’s going to take time.  It’s a process.  It’s a part of life.  A universal feeling that most all of us must face.

I looked up quotes and inspirational saying about grief, and I keep them close by to read.  Below are a few that have touched me the most.

Those we love never truly leave us.  There are things that death cannot touch.  — Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”    Dr. Seuss

“Remember that people are only guests in your story—the same way you are only a guests in theirs—so make sure the chapters are worth reading.”  ― Lauren Klarfeld

 

 

 

 

Binge Watching, Binge Reading

Recently, hubby and I have been binge watching some series on Netflix and Prime.  For some reason, we’ve been doing a lot of British shows. We’ve finished D.C. I. Banks, then we went to Happy Valley and we are now watching Last Tango in Halifax.   I’m afraid I might slip up soon and use the word bloody, when I’m upset at something.

It occurred to me that binge watching is sort of like reading in that you don’t have to wait a week or longer to read another chapter.  I think we just follow stories better when we don’t have a week between episodes.

But that isn’t true when we refer to book series.  And yes, I got plenty of pissy emails saying I left a reader hanging and now they have to wait until the next book.

I won’t deny that as a reader, I want to be able to grab the next book right away—especially if there’s a hook at the end.  And when I have to wait, I’m biting my nails.  And yes, as a writer, I use hooks at the end of my books in series.  It’s part of good storytelling, leaving a reader, or viewer, hanging on, feeling just a little desperate for the rest of the story.

To be honest, if there isn’t a hook, I might very well finish the book and grab a different series.  A friend of mine was just talking about a series she’s binge watching and she said, “I may watch the first season and then move to something else.”  And having watched that series, I can tell you there isn’t a hook at the end.  So it might be easy for her to do that. As an author, that isn’t what I want.  I want the reader to be chomping at the bit for the next book.  And the way to do that is to leave them with some questions.  But I also know waiting is hard.

I know a lot of readers who wait until a series is finished before starting it.  And recently, I’m hearing about a lot of Indie writers who are actually finishing a series before putting it up.  Then releasing each book in the series a week or two apart.  As a reader, is that what you would prefer? Or don’t you mind if one book from a series is released every year?

Do you binge watch shows?  What shows are you watching now?

Happy Reading!

Fear!

I’m not talking about the dark.  Or spiders.  I’m talking about the Coronavirus.  I don’t consider myself a person who panics.  I haven’t ordered any masks.  I’m not staying at home yet.  But I have bought a few extra canned food items.  And sadly, I have had to cancel my trip to ApollyCon, because my hubby, a transplant patient, has such a low immune system. His doctors are advising that he avoid events with large crowds, and traveling, for a while.  Because I live with him, they recommend the same for me.

When I stop and think about the worst-case scenario, and yes, as a writer my mind goes there, it’s scary.  But as my mind creates this scenario, the writer in me starts plotting a book.  Sort of a dystopian world where groups of people barricade themselves off from the rest of world.  Who knows the idea may actually draw a book out of me.

However, because I’m generally a positive person, I haven’t let the fear consume me in my day to day life yet.  Does it worry me? Yes.  And I do watch the news and my heart hurts for the countries where it’s much more serious.  My mom lives in California and I worry that there may be a larger outbreak there.

A friend of mine reported that two people in the grocery store were wearing masks.  I know someone who has ordered masks and someone else who made a huge grocery store purchase just in case.  I’m not saying these people are overreacting. I’m just in wait and see mode—cautious, but not completely alarmed yet.  That said, I know everyone reacts differently to the news.  For some people, buying the masks and stocking up on food is a way to deal with the stress.  And I wouldn’t judge them for doing it.

How are you reacting to the news?  Are you nervous?  How are you coping?  I have started a new book, I think reading and slipping into a different world is a great way of coping with the added stress.