Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Looking Back, Looking Forward

photo by Dot Hearn - Twin Rocks Reflection

Remember way back in late March and early April - the memes saying something like: If we do lockdown, later people will say "what was it all for? We're fine! We didn't need that." But if we don't lockdown, later people will say,  "we should have done more! Why didn't the states/government step in to help? We should have locked down."

We're there now. (Although we are not yet out of the pandemic.)

If you're lucky enough to live in an area where there was a significant stay-at-home order early and for a longer period of time, you might not personally know anyone who has or who had it, or known anyone who died of COVID-19.  Lucky you - you either live in an isolated community no one really visits or you maybe had a longer uncomfortable time of restrictions than some other states.

Today we have 12 states who are at critical level. I don't know in how many of those states health care providers are having to make decisions about who is too far gone with the disease to even admit to the hospital so they get sent home; where they have to triage people's chances for survival from COVID-19 to see who they can treat and who they can't; I do know at least two, maybe three. Where they are ordering refrigerated trucks to store dead bodies because the morgues are full.

So, please, just because you personally don't know anyone who has or had it, don't dismiss the pandemic or the current threat. The threat is real. Instead, be thankful that where you live, someone did their research and listened to experts and made decisions to keep people as safe as they could. That you live in a place where people care about each other and not just themselves, so they followed the mandates. (I realize that last sentence is a little Pollyanna-ish of me - but I *do* know many people who are doing the distancing and masks and keeping trips down as much to protect others as to protect themselves - and I do believe,  most of the time, in the basic underlying goodness of people.)

Yes, in the 'early days' of COVID-19,  some were hopeful that we'd be almost over it by now. We're not. We're nowhere near done with it - it's nowhere done with us. The summer heat is doing nothing to slow the spread, probably because too many people are doing nothing to slow the spread and are ignoring the warnings and ignoring recommendations intended to protect people from getting sick and to minimize deaths.

Rather than brush aside the recommendations, think about others as much as yourself: wear your mask properly when in public (indoor and outdoor), wash your hands well and frequently, avoid large gatherings (especially indoors), keep at least 6 feet between you and others. Simple. Is it fun? No. But please, do it.

Just because you don't personally know anyone who's had it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Say thank you to whatever entity, government, family, and/or friends who are considerate enough to also hold you in mind as they follow the recommendations to keeping the community where you live safe.

Believe me (or not, it doesn't matter), I look forward to the day when we can have live theater in venues with patrons in seats, to concerts large and small, to community gatherings where I get to meet new people, to face-to-face writing workshops with writers and facilitators I love. Zoom and online events help fill the void, but they don't fill my creative heart in the same way. It's a better connection than no connection, but it is not the same. But I'd rather wait until it's safe(r) rather than risk being a carrier to someone I respect and care about.

We are actually all in this together. As someone said earlier (and I'm sorry I don't remember who it was) : we are not all in the same boat due to economic and racial disparity, but we are all on the same turbulent ocean right now.
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Saturday, July 18, 2020

Coronavirus - It's Not Just How Many Die

There is so much happening in this time that I am finding it hard to write much about it. I let an entire month slip by without writing anything here; almost two months. I have been writing quite a bit, thank you for online writing workshops with Ariel Gore's Literary Kitchen and "Multiplicities" with Daniel Elder under the umbrella of Corporeal Writing. I don't write a lot about the killings by cops, the demonstrations and protests calling for police reform and Black Lives Matter and related concerns. I haven't written about the riots and police violence and the invasion of Federal cops into Portland and them snatching up peaceful protesters with unmarked cars wearing unidentified uniforms. The Federal cops who are escalating the protests; who shot a protester - a guy holding up a sign? a radio? (I don't remember right now) over his head and who was standing across the street - they shot him with a trajectory, right in the face; he was in critical condition and required facial reconstructive surgery and is having brain damage issues right now. That is completely uncalled for. They are literally kidnapping people from the streets and spraying with a banned chemical and more. They are not "quelling" the protests, they are instigating and stirring whipping the situation to critical. We were not a city "under siege" as the WH administration commented before he sent unwanted Federal cops here; we are under siege right now - by them. And the coronavirus is raging again, with predictions of it going higher and higher. Because people are quibbling about a face covering, a face mask. I am not going to climb into that one right now. Just as I am not going to climb into the inanity of our government in regards to the virus. Or the utter stupidity and cruelty of the push to get teachers and children back into schools when there is no plan for their protection, testing, treatment when the inevitable virus spread happens. I cannot believe some of the lies and the ignorance I have seen them spout. So, before I devolve further into my fury or anxiety producing rage at the pre-COVID virus which begins with T and is supported by R, who were destroying our country ahead of the pandemic, I want to share something I typed up and put out on Facebook.

... I have another concern regarding our current status ...

 I see some people who seem to be minimizing the impact of COVID-19 based on the percentage of people who die. This concerns me. Yes, the death rates are currently low, but are just beginning to increase, again; this is to be expected because of the spikes in infections following various stages of re-opening over the past weeks. (Currently, around 4% of those who become infected do die.) But it is important that we not only focus on the infection and death numbers. We must also be aware of other associated risks for those who get the virus; even those who are asymptomatic. I do not see people talking much about the potential long term effects for those who do recover from COVID-19. Yes, many more people recover than die. But it is becoming apparent that many who have recovered are experiencing or may experience health effects requiring treatment for months or years; it is unknown at this point what continuing effects are permanent. It also is starting to look like the antibodies may not protect those who have recovered for very long - and health care providers are seeing more cases of people who have recovered becoming reinfected. These findings should be taken into account when making activity decisions involving other people. Some of the current long term effects being observed in those who have recovered from even "mild cases" of COVID-19 include: - stroke (even in people age 30-40); - blood clotting (same age group); - significant lung damage, which may worsen over time and is probably permanent; even asymptomatic people may experience lung inflammation; - dangerous rashes in young children (part of a syndrome which is being linked to COVID-19); - heart damage: 1 in 5 COVID-19 patients experience cardiac dysfunction; - kidney failure; - liver abnormalities; - neurological manifestations - brain health is at risk; - fatigue and muscle weakness. According to current data available, the reported cases in the USA (July 17) are: -- deaths = 140,888 [projected to be around 225,000-240,000 by October 31] -- confirmed infections = 3,677,453 -- recovered cases = 1,076,823

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Waiting. Watching. Breathing.

Belmont Inn, Portland OR - art on boarded windows.
photo by Dot. May 2020

So much and nothing to say. As life continues and the world continues to turn and yet we are pausing - some of us - we are watching - some of us - we are present - some of us. And yet we are holding back, holding on, waiting, wondering: where is it safe to go? who is safe and who is not? how long before people feel safe? before I feel safe?

Safety has a new measure.

Safety being a measurement after 60 - 80 % of the people have had the virus and have antibodies. Herd immunity. Like cattle, like livestock, measure us in percentage of illness survival.

How do we quantify the percentage of dead? How many dead before it's safe to return?

What are we returning to? More accurately, what are we phasing in and will we know if it's working before it's too late? I mean, pretty much everyone agrees that phasing in, that reopening, is going to increase the number of infected and the numbers who become critical and yet we must move forward. So how do we count the infected? those hospitalized and some in ICU? the dead?

So much more to say and yet, nothing. Nothing which hasn't be already said.

This pandemic and our response to it is not about me or you. It is about Us. This is an Us situation. Not an Us versus Them. Everything which I do has the potential to affect You - your health, your family's health, your neighbor's health, which affects your health and my health and my family's health.

I know this is hard for the "have it your way" culture this nation has worked hard to build. I also know that this pandemic calls for respect and cooperation and acceptance of shared responsibility.

I also know that we are in this pandemic together, absolutely, and that does not mean that everyone is being treated equally or affected equally. Repeated stories have shown that some groups of people are suffering more than others - and I don't mean that in terms of who gets sick or in ICU. The stories are there, if you look. Racism and classism are present in how people and communities are affected.

I live in the last county in Oregon to enter into Phase I or reopening; the projected date is June 12th, if all goes well.

Waiting. Watching. Breathing.

Friday, April 10, 2020

The Story on the Wall

Thanks to Mead Hunter, who first shared this in a place where I saw it. A wonderful short story.

The photos I had posted were removed.
I stated clearly this was not my work.
I'm not sure what happened - I received no communication before the photos disappeared.

But I will still link to the page, because it is fabulous!

by Mobstr

Click on over to see the whole story.















Saturday, March 21, 2020

Melting Calendars and Flattening the Curve




We've just been given the warning that we are on the brink of a "stay home" order from the Governor and the Mayor and the County Chair. We are currently under a "strict social distancing" order and that was upgraded earlier today (Friday, March 20, 2020), with the details to be released next Monday.

My body has many words inside, my head and hands haven't yet found the words to move them onto the page - virtual and paper, or in the form of pictures. Hybrids.

Every day, several times every day, the news changes.

We are so far into this pandemic now that I check not only the date of an article or an announcement, but also the time. Something which was written or announced two days ago is old news. If it was yesterday, there is probably an update, but there may or may not be major changes. Then double check that, even if it was earlier today, there is not something new.

Early on Friday I received what I am jokingly calling my "hall pass." Jokingly because this is all very real and it also feel unreal. Surreal. My "hall pass" is an official government paper from my work, which in the case of a curfew or actual "shelter in place"/lock down, identifies me as essential emergency personnel so that I can drive to work when we're supposed to be staying home. I have my official document and my work badge and it allows me to be on the streets and not be arrested or get a ticket. Surreal.

My very full calendar of theater and meetings about theater has emptied, leaving my my "essential emergency personnel" work and a few reminders. Even my provider appointments were cancelled or rescheduled, one person is doing phone or video calls. I had three shows and one event cancel in two days - and just realized that was only one very long week ago. Shows dropping off one by one - some I was scheduled to interpret, some I was coordinating, some I was consulting. A few more went away this week. There are three or four which have not yet cancelled but I expect they will - or be postponed. One show I was involved with is postponed until next fall; another show I was going to watch (not work) is postponed indefinitely. Theater is one of my passions and my fuel and a creative outlet - now gone.

So when Ariel Gore posted that she was doing a Social Isolation Writing Intensive online, I signed up. I'd just lost a bunch of work and, although my calendar has opened up, the financial hit won't start until 30 - 45 days. So I did it. I clicked register and paid. And I'm writing.

And wondering what the next day or the next few hours will bring.

I am not in a panic. I am aware. I am keeping anxiety at bay. I don't know how long this minimization of activity will last and when or how we will return to normal; and I am completely aware that "normal" is relative and life will be different - but I don't know how.

A time of upheaval. Changes many of us didn't predict or couldn't predict, but it's here. Now. Not some dystopian future. Now.

Wait. Listen. Be Aware.

In the words of the Oregon Governor, "stay home and stay well and save lives."

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Check in - writing is happening


Checking in, again.

Again, I could write that I'm busy. I am. I am busy a lot.

Am I still writing? Yes.

Have I made any progress on the WIP? No. But I have written a lot, several times every week; not every day. All of that is okay.

I still don't know what I want this space to be. What to write. What it's for.

I don't want to let it go but I don't have a clear path. Which is funny, because this is pretty much the topic I'm working on in my general life (what do I want? where do I go from here? and so on). This is also - in a way - the topic of the current writing workshop I'm in, "Experiments in Story Structure" with Ariel Gore. We are exploring non-traditional forms of writing stories, which aren't really non-traditional, but they have new names and are described in new ways; but many of the examples are from what have been considered "traditional" stories.

I am still writing.
I will continue to write.
I am still working (of course) and I am fortunate to have a part of my work be creative and inspiring and something I love (theatre).
I am in need of some down time (note to body: no, I do not need to get sick to get down time; I will make time without it - please and thank you).

I have been doing a lot of writing, actually. The most recent workshops I've done were the 14-day winter intensive with Ariel Gore, and then the current workshop (also online) started about 4 days after the end of the intensive. So - writing. Yes. Keeping it on the "front burner." I also like a lot of what I've written.

This week I have a couple of uncommitted days, where I have a little space to breathe before jumping into March. Which is going to be one of the super busy and super creative months - starting with interpreting the Oregon Poetry Out Loud (high school recitation) competition, and the month includes mentoring for one play and watching a couple of other interpreted performances that my only role is as coordinator. Full, busy, creative month.

I am wondering about this space - what do I want it to be? Not for the first time. I liked the times when I posted prompts, when I shared more resources, shared articles and advice from others. I may bring some of that back. Maybe have some regularly scheduled writings to post.

Time to go back and look at my original intentions and see what still holds and what has changed.

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

New Fiction Story Published

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My copies of the anthology, "places like home," arrived yesterday. I am excited and honored to have a new short story, "the day jimmy changed," included in this beautiful book. I am thrilled to be sharing the printed pages with this collection of other skillful writers, some of whom I have written with in the room in person; some of them I have shared virtual classes with. 

Ariel Gore is, herself, a talented and creative writer. She is also a fantastic workshop/class facilitator, mentor, editor, creative human. All of the stories in this book, be they in the form of fiction, memoir, or poetry, sprang from prompts in classes, or from her Saturday writing prompts (available for a $5 per month subscription).

I also was delighted to be an editor for one of the chapters. This gave me the opportunity to work closely with some of the other writers and their creative visions.

This is a beautiful book and it is available at LiteraryKitchen.net. This link takes you directly to the book's page on the website; but I encourage you to look around at what else is there.



"Ariel Gore’s School for Wayward Writers is a network, a community, a secret society of writers and art-makers. We are beginners. We’ve been at this for decades. We are bestselling authors. We’re recluses who only create for ourselves and each other. We are MFA professors, sex workers, high school dropouts, administrative assistants—and sometimes all of the above. We are witches and witch-adjacent. We are teenagers and grandmothers. We are feminists and anti-racists of all genders. We live in Eureka and Melbourne, in Seattle and Brooklyn, in Melbourne and Cairo. We gather online in The Literary Kitchen. We meet in person in Portland or Astoria; in Longview or Oaxaca; in Santa Fe or Truth or Consequences. We tell the truth. We face the consequences. We lie sometimes, too."
—from the introduction
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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

New Year/New Decade



Short and sweet, because I don't make New Year Resolutions. But it is the beginning of not only a new year, but a new decade, so I want to start it on a good note.

The year 2019 was a challenging year in several ways. It was a wonderful year in many ways. Lessons learned, friendships strengthened, writing skill and production increased, theatrical life blossoming and taking off in exciting new directions. Life is good and it is a new year.

I will remember the goodness of 2019 and I will remember the lessons and move forward.

I started 2020 today with writing. That felt really good. I did good work and I wrapped up feedback from a wonderful two week writing intensive workshop with Ariel Gore in the Literary Kitchen. Starting the year with an intention of writing more and completing more writing projects.

I look forward to the new of the decade, the new of the year.

New year, new decade, refreshed creative soul.