That might sound odd to those who know me and my Coke Zero ways, but I’ve been in a lot of coffee shops in the past year or so. That’s where realtors like to meet, and I meet realtors to write freelance stories for a local magazine.
I’d just wrapped up an interview and stopped to sugar up my cup – and 30 minutes later, I had a new friend after an intriguing conversation.
Chelsea is an enthusiastic environmental educator, community organizer, and naturalist. I stole that from her LinkedIn profile because I struggled to categorize her with any semblance of brevity. She cares a lot, she does a lot, and she teaches.
You know. Staying in the present. It’s how I’ve managed to keep the train on the tracks when all else fails. I remind friends of this when they cling to the past or fret about the future. Frame where you are now, and be fully in it.
If one of those friends said that to me now, back, I’d see how impossible it feels.
Madison is moving to California next month. I’ll take a 40-hour road trip with my oldest and her cat, Munch. I wake up at 4 a.m. every day worried about it. But I’m getting better. She’s excited. I’m excited for her, and I’ll work extra hard to buy plane tickets to visit her early and often.
Not the first one. One of the last ones. Maybe the last one. There was this epic battle between the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex (sorry, my generation gave the big guy his due – no T-Rex) battled a mega super ultra mean swole somethingasaurus.
I kept thinking, what could they possibly do to top that?
And then this sea monster pops up and eats that bastard like he’s a potsticker. That’s kind of how 2020 is feeling right about now. You think you’ve wrapped your mind around your circumstance, and then … well, sea monsters.
I had an appreciation for an art appreciation prof.
Call it a crush if you must. But I have never had perfect attendance in any course I took in college, except for hers. I appreciated art, too, but I appreciated how she delivered it. And, you know, her.
Anyway, why fuss over the details?
I used to go to all the Saturday extra-credit visits she’d set up at the local museums. All the other boys were there, too. Some girls, too. But through all the haziness, the experience also enhanced my love of art, of all forms.
You know, one that would have all the stuff I do. So I typed it all out. And it turns out, I’d have to reduce the font size to 0.0003 points, or expand the card to 37 cubic yards.
We have roles, y’all.
But there’s got to be one that stands out. That defines you, as much as you want a role to define you. At least, be the color you color with. A writing prompt in that book 300 Writing Prompts takes on this issue. And with help from my flying friend, Jeffrey, I took it on. (He doesn’t have wings, but he did sit next to me on the plane.)
So, there’s a story I want to tell and I don’t care if you judge.
One of my kids made a gesture at the TV yesterday that told a story. We’ve navigated this lockdown like good astronauts (minus zero gravity and Tang.) But as my girls worked on a puzzle during a Hulu session of Malcolm in the Middle, an ad came on and triggered her.
Social distancing doesn’t have to mean we have to be distant socially, the sugary-voiced lady was saying to promote something I can’t even remember.
Instinctively, a middle finger arose. She didn’t even look up from the puzzle. I said nothing. I get it. Social listening data tells us that people love ads like this. They want to know corporate America is in it with us. That they’re doing their part.
I take it with me on flights. If it isn’t too wacky (or sometimes even if it is), I’ll ask the person next to me to pick a prompt for me to write about while we’re flying. Sometimes, I just pick one.
The one I’ll use today is one I picked.
It’s about stuff we should learn in school. I feel like there are some things we learn (or struggle to learn, often in my case) that would be better serve being replaced. There are things I’d like to have learned, but didn’t.
The pessimist in me wonders what not wearing jeans for four weeks has done to me physically. The optimist in me feels as if this quarantine has at least kept the Colorado Rockies from the dredge of the NL West for now.
The artist in me has documented, for better or worse, my thoughts each day in the pandemic – as daily haikus.
Some are flippant, some sad, some confused. Like any other March that I could have done this, but only this March is historically significant. Not just because there was no Final Four, but because when has the entire world ever has so much in common?
I just started hacking away, inspired each day by Twitter or TV news (I’ve cut way back) or just what was going on that day.
Let me know how the quarantine has been for you, and which of these, if any, resonated with you. A college today said she can’t just go day to day anymore, and I get that. So I’m hoping to get to the ballpark soon and the beach even sooner.
Just as soon as we get the all-clear.
COVID haiku journal
I’m honestly not too sure.
I’ll just stay in place.
My people, our house
Not a big house, but enough
I can’t hear anyone
The big Pop Tart box
Seems like the best choice right now
One tart at a time
No Jehovah’s Witnesses
Was that Amazon?
Don’t you miss hugging?
I know it has just started.
Just looking ahead.
Lots of people out
When I pick up our groceries
Am I a chump too?
Finding time to write
Should not be so difficult
Work days are so long
My back feels so sore
My ass is getting flattened
Four rolls left in here
TP is greater than gold
We are middle class
I’ve lost track of days
And how long since I’ve worn pants?
At least we have cheese.
Out of cat litter
The shit might hit the fan now
Is this our world now?
Uncle Frank is ill
His test comes back in 3 days
It’s canceled after 5 days
Instacart on strike
Three of them to sustain me
For three days at least
It’s April Fools Day
I wish someone would play tricks
We could use the laugh
It’s my dad’s birthday
He would have been 68
I miss him so much!
Not happening in the parks
Bunch of dumb asses.
Was yesterday harsh?
My bad. I should be more kind.
Cover your damn mouth
Steaks on my new grill
Make happiness if you can
Steak is a good way.
Pray for my uncle
He’s fighting this thing so strong
Grant him all my strength
Girls want fried chicken
Who am I to argue that?
Food is everything
Uncle Frank update
He had a good day Tuesday
Let’s keep on praying
When this is over
Oh, how we will celebrate
Hug and kiss for days!
Mine happened in middle school. It lasted on into high school, and, by great fortune, into adult life. My first exposure to The Temptations came with the Daryl Hall & John Oates album Live at the Apollo. I learned fast the history and prestige of playing that venue.
Hearing my favorite Rock N Soul duo mix it up with legends was priceless.
Temptations songs resonated with me at 12 (and 32, and 42) Just My Imagination was my theme song for those formative years. A girl made a mixtape for me with I Wish That It Would Rain on it and it took me a decade to understand what she was trying to say.
When I left Red Ventures, my friend, Brittany, gifted me a book called 300 Writing Prompts. When I fly, I ask the person lucky enough to sit next to me to choose a prompt for me to write. (Sometimes, I just pick my own.)
This one, I picked.
You’re a children’s book writer. Write the first few lines of your new book. This one is about Jamal Tamal, a little boy with a big imagination (I might know how it feels.) He imagines himself in incredible predicaments, which become real-life trouble.