Sunday, February 28, 2021

It's probably too early

but I can't help thinking about my garden. Two 50 degree days in a row, all of the snow melting, hearing the birds again and the longer days of sunlight, all of it is making me itch to go outside. I want to clear out the leaves and dead flowers and get everything tidied up, 

but then I read a post on my gardening group page admonishing all of us to refrain from doing that kind of spring cleaning. Entire ecosystems of critters have laid eggs in that stuff and need just a few more weeks of burrowing or whatever. My gardening page is big on no chemicals and leaving things where they are and don't disturb the soil and let's make a meadow and I am trying to be right there with them, except

I really really really want this long winter to be over and spring to be here and maybe I can just clean up a little? And all of this feels like a giant metaphor about our year in the Pandemic and I was going to try to ease you into it, but I'm too bleary-eyed this morning to think of how, so let's just say it:

It's a giant metaphor about our year in the Pandemic.

I want It to be over. Now. I see the new virus cases going down each day and hear about people getting their vaccines and know that my time will come too in April, May? June? July? And that's okay. I'm just happy it's happening, we're turning a corner and the snow's melting and I want to go out to eat again

and see a movie and hug my son and meet my best friend for coffee and go to a real live actual in person meeting with my writers' group instead of the virtual kind where I sit in my pajamas and try to aim the laptop screen in such a way that my face doesn't look droopy and no one can see the cluttered mess behind me in my office, which is growing messier and more cluttered as this whole thing goes on, eleven months now, twelve! oh my God

did you ever think back in March 2020 that here you'd be, zooming and not seeing your son in San Francisco and tiptoeing around your dining room, which is command central of your husband's office, hangers of just-washed face masks drip-drying around him?

Yeah. Me neither. 

I went outside to tidy up the garden, 

but I never got to the actual tidying up the garden part. All of the snow melting and this being the first time I was really out there since December? and I realized I had a bigger problem to tackle first. 

Dog poop. This is not a metaphor. 

It took one full garbage bag to contain all of it in its non-metaphorical glory, and I was sweaty and muddy and had stepped in dog poop at some point despite my best efforts, but then, 

the job was done. The flower beds and their sleeping critter ecosystems, mostly undisturbed I hope. Last year we still had a night of frost after Mother's Day, so I am under no illusions that a couple of 50 degree days means that spring has come,

but it will. 

Sunday, February 21, 2021


March is seven days away. 

Hard to believe when I look out my window, the snow over snow, icicles dangling from the eaves. How many times in the last few weeks I've been out shoveling, scraping the cars, the temperature hovering under 20 degrees, and still, I feel lucky

to have electricity. Running water. A warm home. My mother and in-laws got their first vaccine doses. My daughter and her boyfriend, who have been living with my husband and me during the pandemic, have promising job prospects and are eagerly making plans to strike out on their own. In the meantime they're cooking us dinner every night, gourmet meals that if I show you the pictures, omg you will be so jealous.

I am ridiculously overjoyed by these dinners. 

I'm reading a book called Wintering. It's not really about winter, but more of a metaphor about how sometimes, when things get to be too much, we have to take a break. Retreat. In a time of slow moving catastrophe, our bodies can only take so much anxiety, fear and dread before we shut down, go numb. 

Instead of resisting, it's okay to lean in to hibernation. Go all in with the Starbucks coffee after shoveling. The long walks with the bundled up dogs. Books by the fire. Music and silly Tik-Tok videos. Gourmet meals 

each day

each day

each day

until the snow melts and this strange dark cold beautiful winter comes to an end.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

A few years ago I got thrown out of a government building

It was really surprising to me, because up to that point, I had never thought of myself as the type of person who got thrown out of government buildings. 

A librarian friend of mine, who knew that I had passionate feelings about libraries, told me that Ohio was considering changing the state law that required schools to have librarians. Also, PE teachers, art, music, orchestra and drama teachers, and school nurses. 

It was being framed as a local choice kind of thing, but it was pretty clear that what was really going on was the state was looking for ways to save money. The school board was having a meeting, and some people had planned a rally outside the building, where students and parents and other members of the community would speak out in support of those positions. 

I was asked to speak on behalf of librarians. My librarian friend told me to meet her downtown at the Board of Education. I had never spoken at a rally before. Actually, I'd never been to a rally period, so I had no idea what to expect. I arrived early and went into the building and putzed around in the lobby for a few minutes until the security guard at the information desk noticed me and asked why I was there.

For the rally, I said, and he told me I needed to leave. 

I thought he was joking. 

And I kept thinking he was joking the entire time he was escorting me out of the building, guiding me completely off the property and down onto the sidewalk.

When I finally realized this was not a joke, I was surprised and defensive, going a little Karen-y on the guy. Wasn't this a public building? Wasn't I, a member of the public, allowed inside? 

Apparently, the answer was still no. 

The rally went on as rallies do. Sign waving and chants. Speeches and that nice feeling of camaraderie hanging with other people who are as passionate as you are about the same things. I was energized and hopeful. We the people were making our voices heard! Soon everyone in Ohio would hear about what was going on and speak out against this terrible idea! 

A few days later the school board voted and schools all over the state started cutting librarians and school nurses and art, music, orchestra and drama teachers, (but probably not PE teachers because who are we kidding here).

I was shocked. 

Honestly, I don't know what shocked me the most. The state cutting the positions or the school board not listening to our pleas (maybe they'd had no intention of changing their minds? Maybe the whole thing was a foregone conclusion all along?) or the majority of the people in the community who never knew there was a rally and didn't realize they were about to lose librarians and all of those other essential positions at their schools. Or maybe... 

they didn't care as much as I did? 

Also, I admit, I was still feeling shocked about getting thrown out of the building.

Now, seven years later, that's the part of the whole episode that still embarrasses me. Not that I got thrown out but that I had been so entitled and aggrieved about it. The me that gave the speech at the rally was new to the party, just figuring out the reality that long-time protesters had already learned:

the people in charge don't usually listen 

the people in the community don't always know or care what's going on 

And real change, if it is going to happen, takes time and work and much much more than a two minute tearful speech at a rally. 

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Dog treats at the library check out window

The other day one of my co-workers brought in a box of dog biscuits. The library where I work is at the edge of a park, and sometimes people who are out walking their dogs will amble up to the window to see if they have any books on hold for them. She thought it would be nice if we could give out dog treats.

I have had the opportunity to offer this service to our patrons (well, their dogs) twice in the past few days and it has given me an absurd amount of joy. Maybe it's Month Eleven of the Global Pandemic starting to wear me down. 

The fact that the library is still closed to the public and instead of wearing one mask I am wearing two masks and it's too cold out to have socially distant bonfires and no sign of anyone in my family getting the vaccine any time soon, except for my mother. 

I am grateful for that! Also, I am grateful that I have a job, that the people I love have managed to make it this far, unscathed, and all I can do for the people I know who are suffering with this disease is send them soup. 

Side note about this soup: It is supposedly very good, especially the rolls. 

A friend who recently recovered from Covid went out to dinner alone, in celebration of her wellness and moment of immunity. She Facebook-Lived her experience. The near empty restaurant. The white tablecloths. A drink order. An appetizer. I watched it all in wonder and delight. The last time I went to a dinner like this was almost a year ago. A group of writers and an agent who'd spoken at our writers' group conference. 

I can't remember what I ordered. I really really wish I remembered this! But it was just another dinner to me at the time. This was a place downtown that I often went to, a special place to meet a friend or to impress an out of town visitor. I used to take things like this for granted. 

And who was the last person I hugged who is not my husband or daughter? Who was the last random person I chatted with bare-faced, those times I would bump into a neighbor at the grocery store or out shopping or at the movies. (For the record, I do remember the last movie I saw. 1917. Oh, those poor people who thought their lives were bad living in the time of world war and not knowing yet that a global pandemic was just around the corner. 

Sad update: The movie theater we always went to is closed now. For good.) 

But these dogs at the window! Their owners are bundled up for the weather and sometimes while they wait for me to check out their owner's books, (bundled up myself) bagging everything up because it's sleeting or snowing out there, they'll peer inside, tongues lolling,

and I am so ridiculously glad that I have something to give them.