It’s not that I haven’t had thoughts about this whole pandemic year. I noted the advice that we should all find some way to chronicle living in these times. I had this blog already set up, I have embarrassing amounts of empty notebooks, I have a phone that takes/stores/organizes photos, I have PLENTY of time.
Every time that voice in my head – the one that philosophizes and rambles and keeps me awake and demands that I write things down to quiet it – every time it got so loud as to be unignorable, I would read other people’s words and be satisfied that it had been said, better than I could have. Which is fine. And I’m thankful for the sanity that reading books, blogs, poetry, newsletters (and yes even twitter dammit) has provided when I think we’ve all been on the brink of going crazy. But there is one bit of writing that I did this year because there is one subject that I can write about better than anyone else….me
For my 60th birthday, in September 2019, the daughters gave me a subscription to Storyworth. I have blogged about it before, but the quick recap is that for 52 weeks the Storyworth folks email you a simple question about your life and you email them back with your answer. I’d usually roll the question around in my head for a few days before answering. Writing to those prompts sated my creative need to put words down and kept me sifting through memories which blunted the daily doomscrolling traumas. And then, for Christmas this year, the daughters presented me a bound book.
I love the title they chose, an homage to this blog that they’ve both been supportive of through the years. I read thru the book for the first time last week and, in fact, it reads a lot like this blog. Which is to say that it sounds like me.
Great literature has not been created here. It’s not even a passable memoir. But it’s something I might skim thru every few years, to help fire up those memory synapses. Perhaps a daughter or grandchild will come across it and glean some understanding of their mother or grandmother. Perhaps, but it doesn’t matter. It was a great gift that came at an opportune time.
Goals for 2021? I’ll keep reading other people’s words. And I’ll find a way to keep writing mine.
There’s an old tumbler called 2KindsofPeople. It is a collection of graphics illustrating two sides of personality, simplifying the concept that there are just two kinds of people in the world. Such as which end you peel a banana from, or if you drink water from a glass or a bottle – really important differences like that. You can still visit it, though it hasn’t been updated since the book came out years ago.
These days, I find myself peeking my head around the corner wondering what the other side of this pandemic is going to look like, now that I am becoming confident that most of us will see the other side. I know things aren’t going to be the same, 2020 was a year like no other, and the way I see it, there are just two ways to approach the new normal.
Do you stick your toe in or do you cannonball?
Do you tell your friends the truth or do you just say the water’s fine?
Are we in this alone or are we in this together?
I’ve leaned into my strengths this past year. The husband claims that I’ve been preparing for this year of limiting social interactions my whole life. Old habits of withdrawing and entrenching in my private spaces have become even more ingrained. It’s time to start looking outwards more, and maybe blogging again is one place to start. It’s an odd way to connect with a few friends and a few strangers, but a good way to stick a toe in the water. It feels just fine.
Just got back from a walk with Milo. It’s a pleasant August evening in west Houston, there’s a bright moon and a steady, light breeze. We definitely dodged disaster. I’m signing off from this hurricane watch, but there’s a pit in my stomach about what the pictures from Louisiana will reveal tomorrow morning. Stay safe my friends, wherever you may be.
Or perhaps more appropriately Laura ver. 4.0 as this hurricane is forecast to strengthen to a Cat 4 storm before landfall in 18 hours or so. Fortunately for us, landfall looks to be near Lake Charles, LA which will spare the Houston metro area most of the storm’s fury. Not so fortunate for folks in and near Lake Charles. There’s always a bit of survivor guilt associated with hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico; your near miss is some place’s disaster.
We’ll likely see a couple of inches of rain here on the west side of Houston, and some 30-40 mph wind gusts. But it’s also possible that I’ll have to water the outside plants tomorrow. I had my hand on the hummingbird feeder to take it down this morning when one of the little guys buzzed me so I guess I’ll leave it up for them a little while longer. Other than that, the outside work is done. I’ll still probably half-heartedly pack an ice chest this evening before bed, power outages are certainly still possible. With Laura coming ashore in the overnight hours, I have a better chance of getting a decent night’s rest if I think I’m prepared for the worst.
Hurricanes are fascinating to me. All the watching and waiting, forecasting and modeling, strengthening and weakening. Still, I’d rather be fascinated while living a little outside the cone of the projected path. I’ve driven thru Lake Charles many times; I wonder if I’ll be able to recognize it tomorrow.
I interrupt this irregularly scheduled brain dump to bring you the latest news from #2020.
One of the reasons for starting this blog was that it could be a way to update friends and family afar on our well-being during hurricanes. As I type, Hurricane Laura is strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico and the latest model runs want to push her further west, towards Galveston and Houston.
I’ve now lived in Houston long enough to have experienced first-hand a variety of tropical storms and based on predictions of meteorologists I trust implicitly, I feel prepared for what to expect. And I know well enough to prepare for the worst case scenario and hope that it doesn’t come to pass. The difference between being 50 miles west of the center (on the so-called ‘clean side’) and taking a direct hit is huge. Unfortunately, there is no chance that Laura will turn into a Marco and basically fall apart before landfall – Laura is going to hit somewhere hard.
So we’re as ready as we can be. We have drinking water and non-perishable food set aside. Important papers are in a grab-and-go bag. By mid-tomorrow we will have cleared the yard of potential window-seeking missiles. By tomorrow night we will have packed an ice chest or two like we might for a camping trip. I might even wash the bathroom floor where we’ll all hang out together if we need to be in an interior, windowless room for a bit. It’s time to gather the batteries and flashlights and radio.
No, we won’t be evacuating. You run from water (storm surge) and hide from wind. We don’t live close enough to the coast to worry about flooding, especially since Laura is expected to move thru quickly and will not stick around for days dumping 60 inches of rain ala Harvey. We live in a neighborhood with lots of big trees, so there’s a good chance we’ll lose power and a reasonable chance that it could be out for a couple of weeks. There’s always the chance that something could damage the house directly; there’s a guest room in Ft Worth with a reservation in our name if we really need to get out of Dodge afterwards. (And providing the car survives whatever damaged the house…yes, I know things can always be worse.)
So send good thoughts to everyone in the path of Laura, it’s gonna cut quite a swath through somewhere. I’ll post updates here, power allowing.