Sunday, March 29, 2020

fending off the monsters




Anxiety is a tricky bug..one moment you are fine..making dinner and blueberry cake and watching that weird show about the tiger guy  (it has to be seen to believe these people are even real.) The next, you've watched too many hours of Final Destination movies and are lying in bed afraid to turn on your ceiling fan because you haven't used it in a while and maybe it's come loose in the interim and will decapitate you.  Or more likely, something less bloody but just as terrible will happen down the road, like your college will shutter and the library close, and you'll have no income and get evicted and how will you even feed all these cats let alone yourself.  What kind of skills do you even have for a post apocalyptic world where libraries and art are obsolete?

*deep breath*

Chaos mode comes on suddenly, takes a lot out of you.  Today, it was unusually warm inside, which maybe means it's warming outside.  When I finally slept, I slept forever, and  woke up to clouds and  howling wind, but my mind was a little clearer.    I placed a grocery order before bed...Whole Foods b/c they had tortillas whereas Fresh apparently did not.   I still have a bit of meat, but was running out of cheese and tortillas, staples of my comfort foods these days.  I also needed some more bagels and my tomatoes are getting smooshy and my coffee creamer dangerously low for as much coffee as I've been drinking.  When working away from home, I'm not the sort of person who usually goes through groceries enough to have to keep tabs on them, usually just order a bunch of the same stuff every couple weeks (initially Peapod, now Amazon) , so all this cooking throughout the work week at home is foreign to me. It's also doing weird things with my relationship with food, how often I find myself thinking about it.  It's not a good time to have a latent binge eating problem.  I feel the monster under the bed sometimes and she just wants to eat everything in sight.

This week has a lot of zoom-meeting action, that should keep me occupied. Also, some new books are proofed and set to start printing this week.  While the writing is still touch and go, I did do some edits and cuts on extinction event and sent out some pieces.  As well as readied the eleanor and the tiny machines series for a zine project I thought I'd work a bit on tomorrow for #zinemadness endeavors. While we feel stopped, so much goes on in the virtual world, teaching and meetings and workshops.  Most of the time, I actually feel okay about things, even excited about the possibilities of doing things in new ways and formats. But then the doubt creeps in and it's hard to banish completely. Projections for Chicago seem more positive, though still deadly, than other major cities, who were either further along in infection rates (NYC, Seattle)  or had huge public gatherings as things were unfolding (like my beloved NOLA and the Mardi Gras factor).  It scares me that there are still places in the US who aren't taking things seriously and staying home.  Places that starting out, don't have the health care resources they will eventually need.  But don't see people dying in real life and so it's just this foreign concept. Until it's not.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

ordinary saturdays

Overnight, a deluge of rain , thunder, and lightning, enough to shake the ground and flicker the lights a couple times.  Normally, I love thunderstorms of all variety, provided I am not out in them (and sometimes even then.)  I made sure to plug in my phones and charge up all  my electronics because somehow now I feel we are even more vulnerable to the elements.  While my neighborhood occasionally has a short random outage during no weather at all, I don't remember the last storm-induced one, but still I went to bed anxious.  Today, clouds, and grayness.  It will be April soon, so more rain I suppose on the horizon.  I feel like I will miss my favorite time of year.  By summer, if this lifts, the trees will already be leafy and the blooms already fallen.

Today is a writing day.  Or at least I intended it to be one.  Weekends are pretty much a non-existent concept since I stay home everyday. You would think I had nothing but time, but actually my short bursts of concentration have been a) oriented toward library and press work, and b) my creative urges mostly sputtering dark.  I am thankful again to have all my art stuff in my home work space, so maybe by tomorrow, I'll be able to work on something.  I'd also like to begin submitting some extinction event pieces after sitting on them a few months, though I don't know if their subject matter works in their favor or against them.  So we shall see.

So tonight, I plan on making chicken soup and doing some housecleaning, because even though my life is less chaotic and to and fro, there is still dirt and oh so many dishes to be done with all this cooking. I do tend to throw my clothes around a lot less, but there is still laundry and cat boxes to be emptied.  Still floors to be swept and maybe some more work on the bookshelf project this week. I am still struggling to find a balance in scheduling and orienting myself to get things done.

Friday, March 27, 2020

day 14 dispatch and fog



This afternoon, I decided to brave a quick two block trip to the bank ATM to move some money back into the right account for some bills and press supplies I need to order stat  (doing it online takes a bit longer.)   I hadn't been out since well before the stay at home order, so it felt important to make sure the world beyond my window was still actually there.  I also thought I might stop in a store and see if they have some more eggs, since I've been hitting the omelets hard for breakfast, and just generally use them for various other things like french toast, fried rice,  and hard boiled for salads.  It was rainy and drizzly, and while there were markedly less people out than a usual Friday, I did still see quite a few people out and about even in the rain. Many solo, but a few in twos or threes.  Some with masks, some without.  It was strange to see the CTA busses still running, cars still sitting at stoplights.  There were a few people in the 7-11, most of them buying booze, but I did find both eggs and ice cream well-stocked.

It was an unproductive day mostly, since I was up kind of early, so then needed a nap later in the day. I did put the final edits on my Programming Librarian article that went live this afternoon, and added more to my developing Lib Guide for zines I hope to have finished by Monday in time for #zinemadness. Yesterday I worked on some new layouts for dgp and answered some e-mails.  I feel a little bit more settled in, yet still have these weird frozen moments of uncertainty.  I also sleep too much, but I suppose it's better than sleeping too little.  Depression naps vs. anxiety insomnia, so I guess I'll take it. Sleeping at least when the dreams aren't terrible, is comforting. So is Ben & Gerry's.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

all dressed up and nowhere to go


The past couple of days I have ventured to the alley with my little cart of trash and to pick up the last of my arriving provisions from the building lobby (an Amazon Pantry order that took a couple weeks for everything to get here.) Yesterday, the sun was bright and it felt more like spring than it has yet this year, a feeling that apparently had enough Chicagoans hitting the lakefront beaches and paths and behaving foolishly that the mayor shut them down this afternoon completely.  This is why we can't have nice things.

So each day I've been collecting my boxes and then unpacking everything near the door, breaking down boxes for the next trash run , wiping things down with a soapy paper towel and then washing my hands again before getting on with life.  I'm trying to be practical, but not all silkwood about it. I'd rather save the bleach I have for cleaning if it's harder to come by for a minute.

Inside, I am adjusting to it almost too well, talking to the people I talk to regularly via other means.  Keeping my hands busy with various library projects and press work.  This morning, I even added a tiny segment to the fiction-ish project, which I am counting as a win for writing again finally.  It's a start anyway.  And if I have the focus, there is always working a bit on the manuscripts that might be a good use of this time.

I tend to avoid people and crowds and people-oriented things most of the time, but I'm finding the thing I miss most is getting dressed in clothes other than stuff I normally wear around the house.  Right about now would be when I switch out winter for spring dresses, winter coats for jackets, but it hardly seems worth the time.  I am hardly one for primping, but realized my tendency to tie up my hair when it's wet out of the shower led to a rats nest so tenacious I had to cut it out.  I could get dressed & ready, but their doesn't seem much of a point if the furthest I am going is downstairs.  I flipped through ebay and poshmark and bookmarked some dresses, but a loathe to spend money frivolously in times of such uncertainty. In anything resembling normal life,  I'd be looking to start buying sundresses right about now.

One thing I am doing more than usual is cooking meals. (and the dishes I find myself doing endlessly attest to it.)  The first week was a little dicey in the stress binge arena, and all it did was make me feel more sluggish and out of control, but this week is a little less prone. I think the seclusion is actually welcome from my brain, and the time to tend to things that get lost in the shuffle or normal life, but I need a certain amount of stability in terms of the future and what's going on outside my door to be less anxious and hopeful on the whole.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

exercises in order muppetry


Today, a quick meeting about a job search in our department that will continue virtually, as well as setting up promo and promotion for hosting some zine programming in the online sphere.  Since we're not constrained to time and place, I'll be posting tutorials and samples and artist profiles online all day on Mondays and inviting folks to show us their projects under the hashtag #zinemadness on social media outlets, all from the comforts of home.     While I'm still not sure how well my own creative urges are handling the world these days, I think it's good to make a space for it.  I'm also excited about the possibility of doing things on a larger scale than just the CCC community, which allows lot more people to participate not just in Chicago. Work also continues on my more detailed than time allows libguide which I look forward to sharing when it's ready.

In press news, I still working through some new copies of older books, and am focused enough to start some new layouts in the next few days of newer titles. I did post a new offering in the shop, this little print which is lots of fun.  I am not sure how my concentration is these days for reading anything beyond terrible news articles and memes, but there are stacks of books in my apartment, including so many novels checked out from the library and then neglected in favor or others.  With my re-org happening, I found them stashed here and there and assembled them all on a shelf in the bedroom in one place. If the apocalypse comes and I can't connect to Netflix, I have enough reading material for a decade to either read or burn for heat if I don't like it. 

Still no words, no creative writing, but I did make a list of the things I should be working on--manuscripts to tend to, projects to flesh out.  As with most of my life, I am everything but creative in times of instability.  But I am very organized and in order muppet mode, so at least that is something.  My post-it notebook/organizer is immaculate, and for now, that seems enough...

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

when witches save the world


Last night, having reached the point in my backwards by season re-watching of AHS where I am about mid Cult, I was feeling a little too stressed  (weirdly Apocalypse was inspiring rather than distressful). I moved onto some lighter fare, in this case, some nice roomy 90's nostalgia with The Craft. With its witchyness, so very 90's fashion, and excellent soundtrack, it reigned high in my pantheon of faves for the decade. I've had the conversation often about the rise of witch-specific movies in the 1990's and their feminine power focus--Practical Magic, another favorite, being another great example. Things like Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Charmed on TV.  How there are echos of that popularity in the past few years--the new Sabrina, new remakes of Charmed and The Craft itself.

Right after 9/11 happened, I was having terrible disaster and violence laden dreams. Fire falling from the sky, aliens, bombings, nuclear warfare. The plane crash dreams, that began a few years before and made me wary of flying, intensified, and made it impossible to, even still, unlikely get me on one even now almost 20 years later (why I am a fan of Amtrak.)  The worse one, and one that had me hopping off trains mid-panic attack for months whenever they got crowded, was being on the el and explosions moving through the cars, where a little girl stood in front of me, pointed, and said "You'll be dead within a year." Or maybe it was the year.  Either way, I was nervous on trains for month, and eventually made the leap to taking the bus more often. 

One bright spot in those dreams, if you can even call it that, was one that combined not only my anxieties, but my Buffy watching sensibilities, where I, amid a band of witches that included Willow and Tara, had to save the world from the apocalypse.   We were all meeting at the top of a tall building amidst a falling city to cast some sort of spell that could save the world. It occurs to me how much witch-related entertainment and witchy-ness in general, gives women. particularly, a large amount of power and agency. Look at The Witch, which I appreciate more with every viewing.  Around the time I watched it, I was also obsessing over the show Salem, which does a longer draw on many of the same themes.  Something I've also discussed at length during horror panels and the like, the power of women and girls.

In The Craft, a troupe of misfits in various ways, who find both belonging and power through magic.Since it's so 90's, I couldn't help think of the bullying narrative that parallels something like Columbine a couple years after. How girls seek to remedy the imbalances vs. men (with of course, violence and guns).  Not that The Craft doesn't turn out to be a violent of course in the end because of the abuses of those magical powers (much like BtVS's season 6 with Willow going sideways.)

It had me thinking about spells and castings and the way to feel like we have control over something during this uncertain time.  The comfort of feeling like you are somehow influencing the universe rather than at the complete mercy of it. Where of course, we come full circle back to AHS, both Coven and Apocalypse.

Monday, March 23, 2020

faking it

Yesterday may have been the first day in about two weeks where I had a little bit of focus, enough to draft, edit, and submit a library-related article about converting physical programming into virtual. Today, the task is to finish my libguide for zines and plot what might turn out to be really fun--a virtual zine night next Monday. And since it's online, maybe we can induce other people to come make zines and show them off.  I'm thinking maybe some how-to's on twitter and then a show & tell on instagram.) I don't know how anyone is focused enough to do things like coursework and major projects though, or care much about the sort of things one used to care about but I am determined to fake it till I make it..to at least use the time somewhat productively.

Yesterday, it snowed, what seemed like quite a lot, but judging from what I can see from the 3rd floor vantage..not a lot on the ground. Such snowfall not unusual for this time of year, and the sort of thing that would want me to hunker down today rather than go out and walk around in it.. But even so,  I'm guessing the magnolias over near the catholic school where I catch the bus are starting to bloom about now and I miss watching them. I keep thinking about my mother, while perhaps one blessing is that she did not live to see this, to obsessively worry about me and my sister being out in the world (my sister more than I at this point as an essential worker.) . I'm sure my dad is concerned no doubt, but for my mom, her worry bordered on the pathological at times.  I dreamed about her for the first time in a bit..that I had written a book that upset her.  It was strange, as all dreams seem to be these days.  Most of them where I am somehow working to solve a problem of some sort. Or that there is something important I am forgetting to do--played out in various contexts and scenarios. If anything I am sleeping a lot, and I'm not sure if it's good or bad. I go to bed at my normal time--around 2 am, but I keep waking up as soon as it's daylight, scrolling frantically through my newsfeed for the latest horrors for a couple hours, then falling back to sleep until around 2pm.

Still, besides the article I wrote, not many words are coming, so I will continue to fill this space with content carved out my very muddled brain until something like poetry comes again.