Thursday, February 18, 2021


While I was grousing, wrapping up in blankets, feeling cranky and fatigued from the cold and Zoom, Japan had an earthquake (a delayed aftershock), a train derailed downtown, there was a bad fire at a complex housing students (12 apartments destroyed, the residents displaced), local firefighters had to battle that fire and fires related to the derailment in sub-zero wind-chills, Texas had a snowstorm (!), Portland had an ice storm, and now it's snowed in Nashville. Meanwhile, though Covid-19 rates are down, people are still suffering and dying from it. My little problems feel small indeed. Still, I forgive myself and give myself the needed days of just reading and resting. It helps me be better, I hope, when I interact with people again. Sigh....

One of the books I read on my couch was News of the World, by Paulette Jiles, a paperback I got from the ongoing library sale and which will go out in our Little Free Library once it's warm enough to go out there again. Tom Hanks is in the movie of this, and when I Googled it, it looked like I could see it on Netflix, but that was old news indeed. Or confusing news. Netflix streams it internationally but not here in the U.S., where it is again playing in some theatres, it appears. I will wait. But I am eager to see Helena Zengel, the young actor who plays the girl taken captive by the Kiowa, with whom she identifies, though her family of origin is German. I was drawn to her in the book.

The sun is shining today! It's up to 22 degrees! I felt warmer at work by keeping my hat on, and now I'm warmer at home by keeping it on still! My chalkboard poems have been shivery and blurry but there all month so far, and it's a short month, so I'll probably make it--a poem a day.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Rough Week

I had a rough week of not being able to do or say anything right 1) in Zoom meetings 2) in general. People sometimes disappear in Zoom if someone is screen sharing, and it's getting harder and harder for me to connect, engage in true communication, and feel like myself. Also, it's so very cold outside, and I'd rather sit on the couch reading books, wrapped up in a soft blue fleece blanket, than do anything else. 

Today I gave in to the couch, and that produced 4 poem drafts, a healing calm, and restored my sense of who I really am. Sigh... It helped this past week to call up some friends up spontaneously on the phone. Thank you, friends! It's been almost a year of isolation, and maybe I hadn't felt it as intensely till now. I know I've had it easier than many, as a shy person and an introvert and someone with a safe, masked, part-time job. Feeling for all the rest of you, you can be sure.

This week I read things with blue dustjackets and/or circular patterns in them. One was a play--3 women trading conversations à la ronde. One was The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig, where one must choose among one's parallel lives in the multiverse. One was Faithful, by Alice Hoffman, in which a woman punishes herself, needing to heal and be forgiven. I was feeling like that. It helped to write some little poems, to send some poems out, to have a few taken.

One was The Beginning of Spring, by Penelope Fitzgerald, a writer I like because of her writing and because she was a late bloomer, and a title I like, because of the hope in it. Sigh... The cover of the paperback, though, had snow. It takes place in Russia, like all the Russian stories in A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, by George Saunders, which I had just finished. The Beginning of Spring had a circular structure. I did indeed read all these books at exactly the right time. And now I am reading the Collected Stories of Shirley Hazzard, who calms with the clarity of her style, her subtle humor, her precise observations. Its dust-jacket of coral and gray calms me, as does her sense of nonlinear time: "she couldn't be sure that she was not recollecting something in the future." This has happened to me.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Sunshine, Lollipops...Sigh

I had a Cranky Doodle Day this week, which is pretty rare for me (Buddhism, yoga, deep breathing), connected to an awkward Zoom meeting and (mostly*) undone by a pleasant Zoom meeting the next day, with a wise and charming person, plus steady, productive work, which cures a lot of things for me. Along with reading.

*I say “mostly” because evidently I am writing about it here in connection to crankiness, so its effects may be lingering still. 

In the meantime, I was so happy with myself for starting the year off right, and getting three submissions out in January, the last right on January 31. That submission was rejected two days letter with a cheerful suggestion that I subscribe via discount. There was a brief moment then, too, of laugh-out-loud-crankiness-slash-recognition, as I said to myself, “Oh, yeah! That’s why I stopped submitting to that journal!” 

Auugghh. I actually write notes to myself in my non-Excel recordkeeping system, “Do not submit here again” or “NEVER submit here again,” and, sadly, I don’t always heed my own advice, or I forget, after I have moved those notes to the archived recordkeeping files. Anyhoo…! 

But, on February 1, I doggedly resumed my chalkboard poem a day on Facebook. Oops, I just realized I forgot the Instagram simulcast….OK, done. Double sigh… 

Today’s poem was drafted yesterday evening, as it happened, and revised this morning, before posting: 

February 3, 2021 

Yesterday evening   

briefly, in the shift of light,
      I was gone,
nameless, part of the night
     now fallen. 

I’ve been reading Russian short stories in the book by George Saunders, A Swim in the Pond in the Rain. The stories and his commentary make me want to stop everything and write fiction again. (I did a little of that, longhand in a journal.) As it says in the poem above, I did feel nameless, gone, at one with the universe, at dusk, and I sense that at times in the Russians. My husband feels at-one-ment much of the time. In a comic version of all this, I forgot who I was in an email, when someone referred to “Kathy,” and I thought she meant me, but, to her, I am only “Kathleen.” We got it sorted out. 

It’s been very sunny here lately, but a deep, deep cold is coming soon. Thanks, Groundhog.