Important Stuff

Grief

photo of woman covering her faceAre you familiar with the Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle?  It’s more commonly known as the five stages of grief. After the initial shock of a situation wears off one tends to have the following five emotions: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Whether we want to admit it or not, I believe every single person in the United States if not the whole world is going through one of these phases right now. Hell, sometimes I think I go through all five phases in one day. 

For me, the grief cycle started Thursday night, March 12. I was in denial this whole Covid-19 was a real concern. After all, it’s just a little virus like the flu. My kids were at school finishing up a week of testing. I had been to work that day and was furiously packing for a long-planned and anticipated Spring Break trip to Florida. Then the text messages started pouring in. Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando had closed. We were due to go to one of those parks. In anger, I immediately got on the phone to find out about a refund. It took me more than three hours and two different calls but I got a full refund minus the trip insurance I bought. Fun fact they keep your trip insurance payment, which was annoying.  In an effort to bargain, I  decided all would not be lost. On Friday, after I got my refund and got home from work, I decided to start looking for alternate places to go for Spring Break. I tried Silver Dollar City in the Ozarks; it was closed. I tried Dollywood in Pigeon Forge; it was closed. I tried Big Bend National Park. While open, there wasn’t a hotel to be found for 50 miles surrounding the park.  Depressed, I realized we were stuck at home, where we have gotten rain nearly every day for 30 days straight.  The last time we had a Spring Break this shitty was about six years ago when everyone in the family had either flu or strep. Finally, I accepted this was our lot and there wasn’t anything any of us could do about it. 

This would be my first taste of this little cycle. In the past 11 days, the school has been canceled almost indefinitely and I’ve essentially lost my job as my workplace was deemed non-essential. It wasn’t much money but it was fun and it pays for little things like my daughter’s dance stuff, my son’s football, and our vacation.  Thank God my husband still has his job and is currently working from home. I know many aren’t so lucky.  School is evolving so we are home learning. Like everyone else, we can’t find a roll of toilet paper in the city. And, like a very large portion of the country, we are only allowed out of our house to go to the doctor or to get food. I’m an extroverted introvert by nature. I like to be alone but the same cannot be said for my kids. I mentioned to the hubs that I don’t know what will incite riots first, if the internet goes down or if grocery stores run out of food.  I think the only thing sustaining most of us is streaming services and social media. 

For each of the above issues, I’ve done a bit of the five stages. I am the Queen of the Work Around. I can figure out an alternate way to do just about anything. It may take longer than the preferred method, it may be super convoluted but I can make things happen. I rarely give up.  There have been times in the past few days when I’ve realized the work around isn’t really a work around; it’s more like a pivot. Most days I flip between denial and bargaining and then go straight to acceptance. I guess that means the issue wasn’t worth the anger or the depression and maybe that’s a good thing. 

How are you holding up? How have you had to go through these five stages of grief? Have you lost a job? Are the walls closing in? What are your coping mechanisms?

P.S. Don’t come at me with ‘people are dying and you’re worried about a vacation or your kid’s school’. I’m not an idiot. Yes, I know people are dying. Two in my household have underlying symptoms, one of those being poor lung function. I get the gravity of the whole situation, however, this is what I/we in my family are dealing with. And while it’s petty white people problems it still sucks.  It sucks for everyone right now.  If there is anything good about this virus it’s we are all united in our worry. Be safe.

Photo Credit: Free photo from Pexels.com by Eternal Happiness. How ironic that it comes up as a photo for grief. 
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Irony

Spring Break Irony

img_1123Last week, I wrote the following to be published today, Wednesday, March 18.
“Right now I’m up to my armpits in family time. When I get back home we will have driven over 2,500 miles, eaten way too many fast food meals and will be sick of all this togetherness.  But, we are making memories that will last a lifetime.”

Until last Thursday night around 8 p.m., we were scheduled to leave the following day for Florida to visit family and hit up House of Mouse. Obviously, that didn’t happen. We are now self quarantined. No, no one is sick (knock wood) but we are trying to flatten the curve and stay well.

And, we aren’t all totally sick of one another yet.  We have lots of projects we’ve been procrastinating about doing that we now suddenly have time to do. And, there’s always Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+.  I keep saying I’m going to start a journal just to document this unfolding situation.  We, my friends, are watching history unfold. Our children’s children will learn about this in school.  Books will be written, armchair quarterbacking how this virus should have been handled. It’s an interesting albeit stressful time to be alive.

I know I’m not alone when I say my mind is a jumble of random things.  From important things like job security and money but also things like the upcoming election and what’s next for the virus to what should I do for the next three hours that doesn’t involve mindless snacking or watching tv. I want to stay informed yet I don’t want to drown in information. I want to be productive but I can’t stop worrying about what will happen next. I’m trying to stay positive and not be an alarmist but it’s hard.  There’s so much unknown.

My creative flow tends to tank like when I’m stressed. That probably happens to most people. When I get overwhelmed I tend to retreat into myself and think – sometimes that’s not a good thing.  We’ll see how all this plays out. I may not post as much or I may post a lot. It just depends on how exciting it gets around here. Let’s just hope the excitement is good. Stay positive folks and enjoy this picture of a bluebonnet.

 

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Uncategorized

Uncle

apps blur button close upI have always possessed a very take me as I am or walk away attitude. For a hot minute in 7th grade, I wanted to be a popular kid but I quickly realized all those kids were only popular because their parents had enough money to outfit them in Benetton and Guess clothing.  Between being too broke for Benetton and not much of an ass kisser those dreams of popularity went up in smoke.  Other than that brief, ridiculous departure, I have never been intimidated, swayed or really cared what other people think of me.  And, while I value many people’s opinions and would hate to disappoint them it’s more a matter of personal reverence than it is me trying to impress them.  This general belief holds true for everyone but one person, my husband’s uncle.  You thought I was going to say a parent or hero or someone of note, didn’t you?  Nope, let me paint a picture.

My husband comes from a better background than I do and this particular uncle has gone above and beyond.  He has done VERY well for himself.  He is the very essence of the Preppy Handbook come to life. His level of propriety, diction, manners, dress – it’s all perfect.  And, since my husband’s father passed away when my husband was a young man, this uncle has taken on a sort of a father figure role. The first time I met this guy I was petrified.  Mind you, I’ve hosted dinners for heads of state and music industry royalty and this guy had me shaking in my shoes. I remember a party at this uncle’s house that was particularly painful. I had more in common with the family dog than the rest of the high falutin folks in attendance.  So, for the last 23 or so years, I’ve avoided the man like the plague. When I have had to interact with this uncle I  pretty much just try to smile, nod and not cuss. That is until recently.

A few months ago, uncle joined Facebook. And, thanks to Facebook’s nosey ass algorithms, uncle discovered I was on Facebook too and sent me a friend request.  I couldn’t tell him no.  I mean, he’s not the Godfather but come on, he’s my husband’s most revered family member, how could I say no? So, I added him and for some weird reason, I didn’t give him my usual ‘hey I cuss and I rant on here so you may not want to be friends with me’ warning.  I just let it fly as usual. And then a funny thing happened, he began to interact. He started liking and commenting on almost every post. He has a particular affinity for pictures of the kids and anything slightly controversial or political.  I started noticing how funny he can be with his proper dry wit. A couple of days ago it hit me that I’m not nearly as intimidated by him as I used to be.  I see him more as an equal now. I’m not really sure what prompted the shift – maybe it’s because I’ve been married to his nephew for over 20 years or maybe it’s because I feel more confident or sure of myself, or maybe it’s because I’ve seen behind the curtain of the great and powerful Oz.  Or, maybe it’s a combination of all those things. I can’t say for sure.  While I don’t think I’ll be dropping the F word in his presence any time soon. I don’t think I’ll just be smiling and nodding anymore either.

Photo Credit: Pixabay on Pexels.com.  Since this post is about getting to know an Uncle through social media, I thought this was a good choice and I love royalty free pictures.

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Opinon

History Repeats

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“All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again.”
J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

The above Peter Pan quote keeps playing on a loop in my head here lately.  It’s sort of like a mantra to remind myself not to panic or worry because if you listen to anything resembling news or social media there is plenty to panic and worry about right now.  A month ago, it was the impending doom of WWIII, which didn’t come to fruition.  There’s the 2020 Presidential election.  That’s a bit more troubling and very real.  It looks like once again most of us are going to hold our nose and press the button to vote against someone rather than voting for someone.  I’ve been able to vote for President since 1992 and I have never been lit up by a candidate. And, while most of these jokers make it look like it would be the end of the world if they got elected, would it be? We still have two more branches of government to keep the Executive branch in check, right? We’ve seen other Presidents sign executive orders and bills into law that a goodly portion of the population though insane only to have the next President overturn those policies. Or, maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part to think it wouldn’t matter too much.

Now, let’s discuss the Coronavirus. People have absolutely lost their damn minds, at least they have in my town.  I haven’t seen shortages in stores like this since I lived in a hurricane zone. Every store is completely out of some specific products. And, I’m not talking bread and milk here people.  I went to Costco this weekend to pick up a few things we normally buy there and they were out of black beans and Charmin toilet paper not to mention things like Clorox wipes and Lysol.  Next, I went to Walmart to pick up the things Costco didn’t have. Guess what? Walmart’s cold medication and pain relief aisle looked like a war zone. Seriously the only thing left was some seasickness medication and the low dose aspirin. I still have a cough from the nasty flu but not the flu I’ve been nursing for over a month.  Well, I guess I’m shit out of luck for my Robitussin. I know my little town is not the only place dealing with shortages.  I read on Apple News where there isn’t a bit of toilet paper to be had at Seattle area Costco stores. And, would you believe the shelves are FULL and I mean chock full of soap but there isn’t a drop of hand sanitizing gel to be found in my town. Ridiculousness.  Don’t be gross. Wash your hands. Cover your cough and sneeze. If you have a fever, stay at home. There I fixed it. You’re welcome.  The news and social media have done nothing but incite this foolishness.  Everyone needs to calm down. Pretty much everyone has two weeks’ worth of some food in their house.  It may be rice three meals a day for two weeks but there is food in the house. Don’t pander to the panic.

Lastly, nearly 22 years ago, a tornado ripped through the city and suburbs of Nashville, TN, my hometown.  It was horrible.  I personally saw it up close about quarter-mile from the building where I worked.  I spent half the night in the loading docks of the then-new Bridgestone arena. It was surreal and devastating to the area. This past Monday night, another tornado ripped through Nashville, it’s suburbs and kept right on up I-40 to the college town of Cookeville. This tornado pretty much tracked the same path as the one in 1998.  Once again certain areas are devastated.  Many friends and family have been impacted – some directly and some indirectly.  If you are the praying type, please pray for Middle Tennessee.  Also, consider donating to relief efforts for the area.  It happened before and it definitely happened again.

Photo Credit:  Me, at my local Kroger Grocery Store. Not sponsored but I’d be happy to be sponsored, so Kroger hit me up. Don’t y’all love how the name brand wipes are still around but the cheaper store brand wipes are gone. This tells me people care but not enough to waste money on the high dollar stuff.

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Irony, Musing

Made in China

photo of man wearing maskThe whole world has heard of the Coronavirus and how half of China is under quarantine.  Over the last couple of weeks, it’s been announced Disneyland in Shanghai and Hong Kong are both closed indefinitely.  Apple has said they will lose money this quarter because factories are shut down in quarantined cities. Last week there was a report on my local news station about how many wedding and quinceanera dresses are made from fabric from China.  The factories haven’t been sending shipments since the quarantine and that means no dresses.  What most people fail to realize is these things are only the tip of the iceberg. It sounds like I’m fearmongering but I’m not.

Many years ago, I read a book called A Year Without Made in China by Sara Bongiorni.  The book follows a family who decided to forgo buying anything made in China for a whole year.  It started out as sort of a social experiment but it became more than that. The family found it virtually impossible to buy certain things not made in China.  In some cases, the things they needed (parts to repair something) were only made in China.  There was no other alternative. After reading this book I began taking stock of where the things I bought were made. I noticed a fair bit of China as well as other Asian countries and India with a few other places scattered here and there. At the time that I read the book, I just thought it was a sign of the times that American factories were dead. It never occurred to me how a disruption in the manufacturing of goods in another country could affect day to day life in our country, yet here we are. I’ll be honest I don’t remember if that was even touched on in the book.

This virus induced disruption of goods is definitely a wake up call. It throws into sharp relief how dependent we all are on other countries and how interconnected we have become.  I wonder if this disruption will be the catalyst for bringing manufacturing back to America. For decades, America has all but outsourced the manufacture of most everything to other countries. A few years back there was a new push to “Buy American” but if there’s anything American’s love it’s cheap crapola and American made products aren’t cheap. After all, American made products have to be made by Americans who need to have a living wage which means the factories can’t run sweatshops and sell cheap goods. However, if we can’t get the goods from cheap labor places what is the alternative?  You know what they say, “If you want something done right you have to do it yourself.”  Maybe it’s time we did it ourselves or maybe we’ll just find a cure for the virus.  The sad truth of it is this probably won’t be a catalyst to ‘do it ourselves’ again because the start up time for a new factory would be years. We no longer have the capability, facilities and manpower to do it ourselves. We’ve essentially outsourced the things we don’t want to do which is another topic for another day.

NOTE: If you are looking for a new read, I highly suggest reading A Year Without Made in China.  It really is quite fascinating. Click on the title about to go directly to Amazon or you can be cheap and get it for free at the library.  

 

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Recommendations

Country Music

img_1056Well, I’ve got another recommendation for y’all this week. This time it’s a little bit different. It’s not a podcast but a mini-series, a documentary mini-series to be exact. Master documentary maker Ken Burns has knocked it out of the park again with his latest creation, Country Music.

I’m sure there are many readers that want to click away right now.  They’re rolling their eyes and thinking, “I don’t like country.”  You’d be well within your right to click away but I really feel this documentary is really something.  It’s an 8 part series that spans the birth of what we call country today all the way up to the present day – a truly American art form.  Burns weaves a brilliant story of the melding of the storytelling of mountain people and slaves, to gospel standards and string bands. How people who came to American bringing with them their instruments and culture and formed this new thing. He demonstrates how this new thing continues to grown and morph and split apart and come back together in new ways and how it eventually gave birth to rock and folk and bluegrass.

As native Nashvillian, it’s interesting to see how Nashville factored into the whole situation. It doesn’t happen as much anymore but 20 or so years ago, I’d tell people I was born in Nashville and it was assumed I only liked country music. That used to really annoy me. It’s kind of like the old schtick about how you can talk away you want to about family but don’t let anyone else talk bad about them.  I would rabidly respond, Nashville is Music City USA, not Country Music USA. I usually failed to mention it was also called Country Music capital of the World.  I had a chip on my shoulder that few outsiders could see what amazing music of all types was coming out of our city.

This documentary made me proud to say I was born in Nashville, the Country Music Capital of the World.  And, that I’m a country music fan (as well as many other genres). There have been several times watching the documentary that I was so overcome that it brought me to tears. When they show clips of Opryland with Roy Acuff singing Wallbash Cannonball or when they show Dolly Parton singing I Will Always Love You I am transported to my childhood. I have caught myself singing along more times than I can count. Although, just because I was born in Music City that doesn’t mean I can sing.

The Country Music documentary can be found on PBS but I believe you can also watch it on Amazon.  I’m currently watching it on Youtube TV.  I’m not going to lie, it’s long.  Each of the 8 episodes is two hours long. I’ve been watching it while on the elliptical. It makes those miles pass very quickly.

Photo Credit: This is a screen capture off my phone of how it looks on Youtube TV if you choose to look for it. No copyright infringement intended. I make no money off of this and I’m broke. Don’t sue me.

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Musing

Making Speeches

black microphone

We’ve been inundated with speeches this last week. First, we had President Trump’s State of the Union speech last Tuesday, February 4.  We also had his speech at the National Prayer breakfast two days later.  We’ve had numerous grandstands with the Iowa caucus bru-ha-ha and the New Hampshire caucus last night.  Plus, we’ve had another debate in preparation for the New Hampshire caucus. And, finally, we had a whole night of speeches at the Oscars.  All of those speeches I just talked about were very scripted in that the person delivering the speeches knew exactly what they were going to say when called on.

Of course, we all expect these things to be scripted but the thing that bothers me is the debate speeches.  No, I’m not some naive babe in the woods type. I know those candidates must have some canned answers but sometimes it feels like the whole thing is a canned statement. Almost like a press conference where the PR people have told the talking head, “Hey man just keep repeating this phrase over and over no matter what they ask.  If pushed, just reword our key phrase and just keep on trucking.” Back in the B.C. (before children), when I did work in public relations that was exactly the type of thing we’d tell our figurehead when at a press conference. We didn’t want the press asking too many pointed questions and having the talking head going off-script thus making more work for us in the damage control department.

It’s funny, maybe it’s always been like this but I’ve been noticing how everything seems so curated and staged these days. Family, friends, even casual acquaintances have social media posts that seem so staged and contrived.  Look at me at this fancy work thing, see me picking up trash at the beach (just doing my part for the environment), see how hard I hustle. It’s not just the selfies but also the words.  Personal interactions aren’t much better. The bragging about CrossFit and who has the most ridiculous after school schedule is just absurd. The other night a friend texted that they were at a band concert and the lady next to them was snapping pictures and uploading it to Facebook whilst doing the humble brag about their kid being in the honors band.  The school doesn’t even have an honor band program.  It’s keeping up with the Jones’s on steroids. The one-upmanship is out of control.

Despite many years in PR, I find that even though I can write this drivel for others, I cannot craft a speech or image for myself.  I am way too what you see is what you get and it cannot be helped. This blog and my big mouth are about as close to a speech as I get. And, if you know me in real life you know I just spew it out without a whole lot of thought.  I’d love to know the logic behind the social media crafters. Is it attention seeking? Is it poor self esteem and the need for validation? Is this the new currency – instead of flashy cars and vacation homes you show how well you’re doing online? I’m genuinely curious to know how these people tick. Too bad we can’t don a pith helmet and hide behind some bushes and film these folks in their natural habitat like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. I fear it wouldn’t be too exciting. It would just be some random person looking down at a phone. Boring!

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