It’s not the first day of my isolation but rather Day 1 of my Pandemic Journal. Life is different now. Downtown is a ghost town. No one quite knows how to cope. I’m lucky to have my son here but many are stuck at home alone. This is 1st Ave in Seattle at midday on a sunny Saturday.
I started working from home Wednesday the 11th when Howard and I decided to make it mandatory for all non production or lab personnel. It was a good thing I did, because after going to my wonderful neighbor B&B’s apartment for a working from home lunch, that very first afternoon I got a sore throat. And a mild fever. Luckily it turned out to be just a head cold and the fever quickly went away. But I was worried and realized I had no idea where to go to get tested or anything. Virginia Mason has a chat bot that you can use as a decision tree and it determined I didn’t need to go (I already knew that, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to check). I also decided not to call and overload their systems because I had no fever or cough though my head and throat hurt like the dickens.
So this is the end of my first week and a half at home and I’m going to keep a journal. I might as well do it here since I’ve been meaning to write every day anyway. Last might my lovely friend T hosted a Virtual Dance Party. Several of us had had a fun few hours dancing on Zoom, waving to each other through the window across the street and otherwise being silly. Eventually we settled down to a nice evening of Drinking with Friends While Wearing Tiaras and leaving the video running while we cooked dinner.
It’s important to connect with your friends and make sure they get the contact they need. Especially your extrovert friends like T.
Who did you call today? Who will you call tomorrow?
A friend recently raved about an idea she read about in The Stranger where they rank on private kitchens. Private kitchens, you know, the place where you make food without other people’s germs getting in your way. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge proponent of building community around food and co-housing and baugruppe and other things that reduce waste and increase connection between people. But Seattle does not have the infrastructure to support large numbers of people living with just a microwave, a tiny refrigerator and perhaps a burner or two. Trust me, I’ve done it where there is infrastructure. And then I tried here in Seattle. It was expensive and I gained a lot of weight.
Most of Seattle’s downtown core lacks access to healthy, reasonably priced food. Sure you can go to Whole Foods and select from their hot food bar. But if you aren’t careful to choose light food you suddenly find yourself at the checkout with a $20 charge (hint – broccoli is heavy!). And the mini-marts scattered here and there will charge you $2.99 for a 79 cent can of tomato sauce. And if you want to stock up on microwavable meals, the tiny refrigerators in these apartments mean that you have to choose carefully. Pizza? Forget it. So what do you do? Eat out at restaurants? Good luck finding a meal for under $15. And the reasonably priced choices are usually high fat, special occasion meals. Or if you want to be healthy, salad. And of course when you are hungry good intentions die and hello corndog and tater tots.
Contrast that with Tokyo where there is a minimart on every block with reasonably priced healthy food that you can pick up on your way home. Price-wise I found them to be even cheaper than the grocery stores (don’t quote me – it was a subjective feel). The heat and eat meals were always fresh and balanced. The sashimi (yes from 7-11) was better than you get at most sushi bars here. And I seriously miss their pre-packaged sandwiches. There are also many neighborhood restaurants that cater to people who don’t have kitchens with simple home-style meals. People say Tokyo is expensive, but not if you eat where local people do. For the equivalent of $8 I would have a full meal with a salad, a piece of fish or chicken or a noodle dish, a bowl of rice, and tea. And I didn’t feel uncomfortable eating alone because many people were doing the same. Some places even had a communal single diner table. Oh yeah, and no tax or tip had to be added to that $8.
Ok, so you get an apartment with one of these minimalist kitchens. Great. But what if you actually want to cook a meal? Many of these buildings don’t have a shared kitchen as was the case with the Belltown apartment I moved into when I got back to Seattle. It had a great library but no place to cook if you wanted to entertain guests in the winter (in the summer we had the bbq’s). And the places (usually fancier) that do have a community kitchen put all kinds of barriers in place such as paying a deposit to use the kitchen, registering in advance (who plans ahead?), oh and did we forget to tell you it’s a catering kitchen? So bring your own pots and pans and stuff. What? You don’t have room for them in your tiny kitchen? Here we can rent you storage space for big bucks.
What if buildings had real shared kitchens kind of like college dorms do? Perhaps one per floor? Or built around a quad concept? The kitchen would be fully stocked with appliances and pots and pans and avocado peelers and plates and everything like that. Residents could even contribute gadgets and stuff. Sure you would have to solve the hygiene issue. And it wouldn’t be suitable for everyone given allergies and cross contamination issues. Perhaps do it as a membership. Where it’s available but you have to become a member of the kitchen group to use it. And as part of that membership you agree to a variety of rules (decided on and managed by the community). That way those who don’t want to use it don’t have to maintain it. And the rules can vary to include things such as expectations for cleaning up after yourself, regular deep cleaning (done by the community or hired out), shared meals or not, replacement of broken items, etc…
Developers could try a variety of layouts and plans – shared kitchen(s) or partner with restaurants/deli’s for in house food or something completely different and creative. But if they really want to create livable spaces they should think about community and go beyond just trying to cram as many small apartments into each development for which they charge minutely lower but still exorbitant rents for and think about quality of life a bit too. Perhaps people will stay longer.
Seattle needs to add more inexpensive, “every day” food takeout options near the Link stations and in high density neighborhoods. More small groceries that don’t overcharge their captive audience. More cafeteria style eateries. And make eating alone easier and less stigmatizing.
What it comes down to is that the city needs to do more to support the tiny kitchen movement for it to be a feasible through zoning changes and programs to help guide and support businesses that could build out the infrastructure.
The trouble with procrastination is that eventually you reach the point where you owe an explanation. And then trying to create the explanation prevents you from moving on. That’s kind of where I was with blog posting. I haven’t written because I was doing other stuff. And this is where the stuck part comes … do I write up a big explanation or just say I wasn’t writing and now I am? Going with the latter. Transition done. Writing will follow.
Today is the 47th anniversary of the day my family escaped from a totalitarian regime in Czechoslovakia. I was very young but I still remember saying goodbye to my grandparents and running for the train as the evening rain mixed with snow. I fell and got my new tights dirty. But we made it. At the border, passport control stopped us and said that my sister and I couldn’t go because we didn’t have exit visas. Hostages. That’s how they made sure people came back from their vacations. But the planets aligned. Perhaps it was my sister’s CLBG (cute little blonde girl) look. Or because I sat so still that I didn’t even breathe. Or perhaps we just got lucky and he was a nice man but he said “never mind” and moved on. We were free.
All my life I heard about life in a dictatorship. About the soul and life – draining burden of living in a society that pitted neighbor against neighbor, children against parents, spouses against each other. Where hate and envy were cultivated. Where authority figures were feared. Where speaking up was a risk that could get you prison or worse. Where you had to conform or else. Where the 1%, the “haves”, the high ranking party members, had everything and the rest of the people had nothing. Anti-intellectualism. Where human beings were just tools.
My grandfather subscribed to an American surgical magazine and english language National Geographic. For that he was accused of being a spy. Luckily he had some 1% patients and his surgical skills were irreplaceable so he was let go. But my mother was singled out at school regularly by the teachers as an example of “enemy of the state”. My father wasn’t permitted to go to university because his parents were also undesirables. He was finally allowed to study after his uncle from Austria intervened, but not what or where he wanted to. My parents had arrest warrants out on them well into the 1980’s for the crime of deserting the state. Luckily that is behind us now and the Czech Republic and Slovakia are free and progressive nations.
So what the heck does all that have to do with Trump? Everything. Because he’s how it starts. Creating undesirables. There it was educated people, people in business, religious people, and anyone else they didn’t like.
Here Trump started with Muslims. Then anyone who might remotely be associated with Mexico. Then gay. Black. Women. Before you know it, no one is trusting anyone. And the lies. The totalitarian way to power is lie. Then pretend it’s the truth and then make everyone else think they are losing their mind. The lies spread and then the minions accept them as truth.
Already the hate is spreading. Teachers all over the country report children bullying other children and repeating the Trump rhetoric as they do it. Social media is full of the most vile comments one could imagine. The hateful and angry are feeling empowered and they are coming out of the woodwork to attack anyone they perceive to be undesirable.
Trump is destroying the open, trusting, caring, neighbor helping neighbor, optimistic spirit that is America with his “Make America Great” again lie.
Don’t believe him. America IS Great. We need to keep it great by not allowing the angry, lying bullies destroy it. It’s the
constitution that makes it great. It’s the giant melting pot of cultures and differences that makes it great. It’s the freedom of speech and the bill of rights and checks and balances and all those important principles that our founding fathers put into place that make it great.
Allowing Trump to win puts us on the path to totalitarianism. It lets hate win and validates the petty and scheming evil that lurks below the surface and that has no place in the great American spirit. We are a nation of optimistic dreamers. Of immigrants. Of people willing to go off to the unknown for a better life. Of people who say let’s do it. Of people who go to the moon. Of people who invent things. This negative hatred is not us. It’s un-American. We need to stop it. Stop the destruction of America. Stop Trump.
Here is a brief intermission because the post that I am working on next is taking longer to write than I had expected (kittens!) so today I will share a poem that I wrote last week. Who knows, perhaps I’ll have to do a second intermission tomorrow too. I was trying to do Iambic Tetrameter (because a fifth foot didn’t work for my style) but I’m not sure if I have the emphasis pattern correct. Actually the form was an add-on….I just wrote a poem and then thought, hmmm I wonder what formal design patterns for poetry are out there. And Iambic fit what I had the best and then I realized that with just a few words added and some lines combined, it could become a stronger more powerful poem. So here you have it.
So when you seek the love you need
It’s always out of reach for you
Dear one you must at first be kind
And love the one that is but you
Oh and here is a photo of some yummy blackberries. Penn Jillette described this recipe at his talk at Town Hall a few weeks ago – take a bunch of blackberries and/or blueberries and dump a bunch of cayenne and cocoa powder on them. Sounds odd but I was intrigued and skeptical at the same time – I love chocolate and am always looking for something healthy to snack on but come on. Cayenne? I finally tried it and am now addicted. I would even put more cayenne on it than I did. Darn it, go figure that the berry season is over.
To be a writer I need to write. Write every day they say. No matter if you want to or not. And that is hard because I picked a theme for my blog that too limiting for my personality. So now I’m just writing. And it dawned on me that to find my voice I have to stop limiting myself. And that I can change my theme and open it up so that it can support me finding my writing voice. Sometimes it will be poetry. Sometimes prose. Sometimes dark. Sometimes light. But it has to have something every day. Even if no one ever reads it, I have to write. So friends, buckle in, we will embark on a journey this fall through the roller coaster of my brain.
I find it interesting that some writers need the rails and the limitations to challenge them to write within a construct. It makes them better. But for me that would have the opposite effect. Although I need to have general values to underpin my creating, the same values that make me who I am, I need to flitter between topics. Because that too is who I am. I wonder if that is a sign of my immaturity as a writer. Will I challenge myself with rails as I improve?
And now that I got that off my chest, I can write about what was floating inside today wanting to get out.
Your heart is an infinite space that expands the more you use it. It gets bigger and better every time it opens and lets someone in. There is always room for more love and to love more.
So don’t give your heart to anyone. You need every bit of it to house all your love. The next time you fall in love, bring the object of your adoration into your heart. And thank them for letting you fall into their heart. Grow love and let it expand.
But what if they leave, you ask? Will my heart not be broken? No it won’t be broken – you will still have all of it plus more because you didn’t give any of it away. Yes, your heart will grieve but it will be strong and it will have absorbed your loved one’s essence. And it might be easier to understand their need to move on. And you will be left with a bigger heart with more room for other loves to enter.
I’m suffering from writer’s block. And here’s why. I decided that I should begin my blog by writing about someone I know the most about …. me. And the trouble with me is that I don’t have an interest in anything. I have an all encompassing interest in everything. So unlike the wonderful young woman I met recently who does saliva research (it’s science, it’s cool, it’s the future, and it’s a future post because she is awesome), I am known for my collection of unfinished projects. My head is spinning with thousands more. The motto, you can do anything, is my driver. The caveat, but you can’t do everything, is a pessimist’s rain on my parade. Sure I can do everything. Now. OK, not now. Later. After I stop feeling overwhelmed by the technicolor world of possibilities.
But as I think about it further, I realize that much of this desire to do and try everything stems from something very deep inside me. A primal urge to collect. To acquire. To discover newness. The beauty of something heretofore untried, unexamined, unexperienced, unthought about. And besides, there are so many interesting things in the world. How does one choose? And if I focus on one, what about all the other cool things?
So I have unfinished blog posts. Poems partially started. A bag of gravel to sift through for sapphires (or perhaps I left those behind when I moved). Photos that need organizing. A huge tote full of beautiful beads that will someday be bracelets and hey, there’s an article on how to do bead flowers…hmmm. A box full of recipes to try. Look a beautiful rock, I will add it to my rock collection. Maybe not; tiny apartment. I’ll take a picture. Add it to my picture collection. What an amazing moment on the beach there experiencing it with my dear friend. That one goes into my collection of happy memories. So. Much. Out. There. And it’s all amazing and fascinating.
Sure I can focus on something. I just spent five hours working on genealogy. And I’ll get back to it again and spend more time on it. But it’s not going to be my life work. And books. I read. And read and read. That’s one thing I can focus on. And read a series of books in a week because I have to. So perhaps that need that I have to read, to know, to pull out every bit of information and story is the closest I’ll ever be to that all encompassing passion people have for their whatever.
But how do people focus? What allows a person to focus so well that they devote their life to a goal? How do they muster the discipline and commitment to something that allows them to discard all other distractions. An Olympic caliber gymnast for instance? From a young age these amazing athletes spend hours every day perfecting their sport, avoiding distractions to focus on their one goal, to be the best at what they do. How do they do it? What makes them different? Why do they do it?
And the people who purport to have no hobbies or interests. Why not? What’s blocked them from their inner voices? Why do they hide the thing inside that makes the secret smile appear in their voice?
So what kind of a person are you? What drives you? Are you a generalist or a specialist? Do you reach your goals and then climb even higher? Or are you surrounded by somedays? Or do you have a tiny ember deep in your soul that needs a bit of kindling? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me your story.
I am utterly enthralled by these ideas. And I mean to find out. Stay tuned.
It’s true.Pokémon Go inspired me to finally start a blog. No, I’ve never played it and I finally got to see the UI just a few days ago. But when it burst on the scene the first thing that alerted me was all the Facebook posts putting people down for playing some new game. How people should be out fishing instead of playing this. Or grumpy get-off-my-lawn memes. How some other pursuit was a much better way to spend one’s leisure time than chasing imaginary creatures all over town.
It suddenly struck me as really sad that instead of celebrating something that instantly became a passion for so many people (can you say over 100 million downloads) the negative nellies went on high alert. Why? Why do people feel the need to rain on someone’s parade? Why intentionally try to make someone feel bad for doing something they love that isn’t hurting anyone? You can be funny and NOT be hurtful. And thats when I decided that I would counter all that negativity with a positive blog.
So this lead me to thinking about people and passions. And perhaps that really is the meaning of life. There are billions of souls on this earth. A very tiny percentage will invent penicillin or go to the moon or win an Olympic gold. The vast majority will spend our lives in anonymity. So making our time here the most pleasant it can be is a worthwhile pursuit. What is life without a passion? I think that is a life without meaning. You might think I’m judging. But I’m not because I think everyone has something. We just don’t value their thing by our own measure. But it’s not about us. It’s about them and what makes them shine. It’s their passion. What’s yours?
I am absolutely certain that if each person lived their passion the world would be a better place. And I’m convinced that everyone has a passion, maybe a secret passion, for something. Some have lots of passions. But if you ask and truly listen. Not just pretend. But really listen without judgement and hear what they are saying, you can find out what makes them tick. You know, that thing that wants to live through them (ok that does sound like some kind of creepy, possessed by demons thing). But think back to when you were you were young and your mind wasn’t yet crushed by society, what did you want to be or do? Me, I wanted to be James Bond. But female.
That is what this blog is about – my quest to catch them all. All the passions big or small and let people discover and trust that they have something magical inside of them. I can hear you snickering that you’ll show me your big passion….in that Beavis voice… and yes those kind of passions count. But what I’m looking for is in your soul. What brings light into your eyes? Maybe it’s your secret collection of left handed phillips screwdrivers. Celebrate it. Or perhaps it is Pokémon Go.
I’m impressed with what Niantic has created with this game. For those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s an augmented reality (AR) game based on the popular Pokémon card game. It’s the closest one can come to that childhood wish when watching the tv show or playing Nintendo DS….what if Pokémon were real? There they are, superimposed on whatever is seen with your phone’s camera. You catch them, evolve them, meet up with others in PokéGyms to battle your Pokémon. Nostalgia, gaming, imagination, and adventure all wrapped up in one.
Beyond the amazing business model that has businesses buying lures to attract PokéSpots and secondary markets springing up all over the place, it’s bringing people outside. Friends are telling me about their kids finally going outside after years of indoor gaming. Dogs are getting more walks than they could ever have wished for. People are visiting monuments and parks and getting outside in their communities. I just read an article about how Pokémon Go is Helping Kids with Autism and Asperger’s.
I wonder how many new friendships have come out of this game? How many discoveries of new places? How many new passions? Well done Niantic! Pokémon Go players – enjoy yourselves and get the most you can out of this great game.
Take care guys and I’ll be back with a new passion in a few days.
This blog is about people and their passions. And politics is a huge passion for many people. I see the posts where people expound at length about the glories of the system, rave about the conventions, sit mesmerized for hours of roll call votes. It’s a passion. And this post is about something I realized recently about politics and our candidates and my views towards them.
I’ve been a non-Democrat and anti-Hill for a long time. Bern baby Bern. (being as this is a new blog you wouldn’t know much about me and my political, or should I say non-political history. Suffice to say, Bernie is the first candidate I’ve ever truly stood behind. He stunk the least of anyone). But since Bernie lost the nomination I’ve been in mourning. And feeling lost and out of sorts. What now?
Yes I am still undecided. Do I sit it out? Throw away my valuable and precious vote? As a naturalized citizen, getting the right to vote in America was a noteworthy milestone in my life and I don’t want to squander it. But what to do? Jill? Hill? Gary? Write in Bernie? The choices are there. None really palatable, though one thing is clear – anything but The Clown.
And then something Jim Wright wrote about Clinton (with respect to her choice of running mate) resonated with me – “The kind of careful, deliberate, in-depth, strategic analysis you want from a president.” Of course! I’ve forgotten that to navigate the complex, crazy, scheming world of international politics, perhaps you do need a schemer. Someone slightly, or a lot, underhanded who can get things done and manage (a more open minded term than manipulate) the situation to reach their goals. Nice people get chewed up and spit out in politics. I don’t want a “nice” person heading this country. I want a cold, calculating, schemer who makes the hard choices that I could never do. Someone unafraid to go against the grain. To make unpopular decisions. I think Sanders is such a candidate. Cold, calculating schemer going against the grain. Bernie? The kind and gentle grandfather? Yep. That Bernie. Look behind the mask. You can be kind and a grandfather and respectful and polite….and still be a scheming politician. Those are not mutually exclusive characteristics.
Running the country is not a popularity contest (though getting to that position certainly seems to be). Is that really the secret of politics? To work the system? To mold it to your needs. And is it up to us voters to find the candidate whose needs and molding strategy most closely align with ours? I say yes. I say start looking and digging with a passion appropriately applied to something that will shape our lives for the next four years.
A president should be presidential at the podium and ruthless and calculating behind closed doors. We need gravitas. Listen, think, watch the debates, then make up your own mind and vote.