Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Sláinte! From Me to You in This Difficult Time

Monday would have been my grandma’s 100th birthday had she lived to see it. I have been thinking about her so much these last few weeks. She was a Registered Nurse, served in the Army in WWII, and during my lifetime she worked in a convalescent hospital. I cannot help but wonder what she would do during this Pandemic, but then I know the thought of that human turd in office may have killed her anyway. She hated Republicans, though she was a Catholic, she was of the type so pure of heart that when faced with only her glare no man would stand a chance against her. Petite in stature, big in humor and heart, I can’t say that she raised me, but was a constant beacon in the darkness of my life back when. Monday evening 6 SF bay area counties (where I live) were ordered to shelter in place, likely until April 7th.

The day after her birthday, was St. Patrick’s day. I didn’t even wear green! I was home the whole day, kept seeing green things and celebrations online, but I didn’t even bother to listen to her/my favorite Irish rebel music. So this morning, in my dimly lit living room, a bit more chilly than I’d like to be, I realized my folly and instructed aloud, “Alexa, play the Clancy Brothers, Live at Carnegie Hall” and she responds, “Playing, In Person at Carnegie Hall, 1963, the Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem” and then I hear it begin and it’s like my grandma and her sister are still here. I can hear their laughter, the clink of a glass, “Sláinte!” shouted briskly. Only they’re gone and it’s only me singing along to “Juice of the Barley” and “Jug of Punch”, the latter being my all-time favorite and never ceases to bring out every last Irish cell in my body to sing and to weep. It is a warming and aching thing to have an Irish heart.  As much as it can swell with love or pride, it will always have the ache of our ancestors too.
Self-isolating isn’t difficult for me at all. I have been relishing my single life and living alone life for over a year now and seeing everyone else at home too makes me feel part of a community in a way. My biggest struggle was getting my groceries. Grocery stores are a big trigger for my C-PTSD on the best day, but with all of the reports of outages and fights and this looming contagion to deal with I know that would be a recipe for a massive panic attack. I have a recurring local grocery delivery every Friday evening, but last Friday I waited through my delivery window until far outside my usual allotment of patience I emailed them and they had rescheduled it for Tuesday. No warning or communication what so ever. Ugh! So that weekend I had to get. bit creative with what I had on hand. Luckily I had taken home about 2 meals with worth of leftovers from work. When they finally were delivered last night I nearly cried from relief!
I grew up with food insecurity. My family was poor and always stretched too thin. I remember a doctor telling my parents when I was about 7 or 8 years old that I was malnourished. They put me on protein shakes that I can smell (and gag from even thinking about) to this very day! I remember being 4 and 5 years old and asking when we could have dinner and it was always later on Friday nights because it was my dad’s payday and since he worked at Gemco (they had a full grocery store inside, similar to Target now but old school) he would cash his check and bring home some groceries. This past weekend brought a lot of those feelings back to me. Those itchy, anxious feelings, not even like hunger or pain. Just the anxiety times eleven!
Once I put everything away in my small-ass apartment fridge (seriously why is it so small?!) I closed it and opened it again like three times. Just to be sure! It was there and it was real. And every time I opened it I would smile and look at my doggo with pride. He didn’t care, he just wanted all the food. Ha-ha! The last time I opened it to check I laughed at myself and finally went to bed. I slept so much better too!
I know that my grandma would be very proud of me and all that I have accomplished since she passed away in October 2003. I’ve had many careers and opened my own cafe since then. Gosh she would have loved my cafe! Sure she missed my first wedding (heavy assumption there, I don’t even think I’d want a second! Ha!), but that cafe was all me, ya know? I can hear her saying my name, “Oh Sarah!” and her tight hugs. Her petite frame was also misleading, she was tough as nails! Being a nurse all those years, she was strong as hell and could probably take down The Rock! Just sayin’! Her sister was no different, though perhaps a bit more straight forward and brusque than my grandma. They were nearly two-sides of the same coin it seemed. Their mother was from Ireland, though the two sisters were born in Connecticut, I believe. I think often of all they had seen during their lifetimes. The world has changed many times over since they were born, and died, really.
As we are all looking towards our unknowable futures, I think it’s valuable to stay connected to your ancestry and cultures in ways that are fulfilling. I don’t have the items needed to make Irish Soda Bread at the moment, but I do remember the last time my grandma shared some with us that she’d bought at Safeway, and how disgusted she was with their chain-store version, as we all slathered it with butter and jam. Ha-ha! I used to make it every year but have not been wanting to bake for a few years now. Or rather, I will want to but often don’t have the energy. I think I will make some as soon as this shelter in place guideline is lifted. Something to look forward to, certainly. I’m very picky about what goes into my soda bread, just as my grandma was. Whole caraway seeds and black currants, never raisins! Unfortunately I have also been a bit of a disappointment to my great-aunt as I cannot stomach any sort of whiskey, not even her beloved Bushmills. Though she did teach me to make a proper vodka tonic…so proper it’ll knock your socks off with your shoes still on! Ha-ha!
With the extra time that working from home allows I have gathered together some of my poetry into a collection with a theme. At first I thought it would be a chapbook, as that’s been on my bucket list for awhile. Once I put them together though I soon realized I had much more than I thought. So a collection it is! Now to look into getting it printed somehow. Not exactly something I’m trying to publish in a big way or get famous for (As if! Ha-ha!), but more just to do it and to have it and to share with interested parties, ya know? I wanted to add my own doodles throughout but I’ll be damned if I can’t even think of a single image. I don’t particularly enjoy drawing anyway but every now and then I can pull something off. Oh well. If you’re a doodler/artist with an open and kind heart, perhaps we might work together? I can pay and wouldn’t require much time for this and it isn’t a profit driven project but a personal one (and quite vulnerable for me). Please reach out if interested, though! I also want to try my hand at this crochet skull shawl, not sure I have enough yarn but it’s been so long since I’ve done any hooking that I will simply enjoy playing with yarn again.
I have been enjoying Cinder Ernst’s daily quick 5 minute exercise/strengthening videos. Check them out here! and seriously join the group it’s very positive and uplifting and not at all corny or shaming in any way! Doing them today and yesterday really lifted my spirits. I found myself trying to incorporate some of the moves just throughout my day. Check out her new book, “plus size knee pain solutions” as well! Cinder has been working with/in fat community in the SF Bay area for many years and is a pleasure and a joy to work with and know. She presented/performed at both of my Fatty Affair events years ago.
What things have you been trying to break up the day? To keep you sane? What are you struggling with? I really do believe that we are all in this together and only need to lean on each other to get through. I have seen a lot of posts on social media about meditation, yoga, and simple breathing exercises to stay calm/grounded. I haven’t left the house since I got home on Monday, but once the rain lets up I plan to do some gardening. This is the first time in my life I’m looking forward to gardening and spring and all of that! I might have to get proper gardening gloves at some point. Ha-ha! I have held off any online ordering for the time being, no point in it until I can actually use it. I want to try to do tomatoes and strawberries in vertical pockets along my back fence. I’m nervously excited to try it, anyway. At least it’s not a very expensive hobby and may produce food in the end, we’ll see!
If you are struggling with isolation please reach out to someone. Even me! notblueatall@notblueatall.com! There is no need to suffer alone and in silence. My friends have been checking in through text and sending funny gifs to each other. Some have started writing postcards and letters through snail mail! I love that! Whatever works for you is awesome! I love seeing ideas and things for this purpose shared everywhere. A lot of people have been cooking and sharing recipes. I love it all! Just know that you aren’t alone and you will get through this. For me this is comfortable, but heavy socializing drains me. I joked with a fellow introvert about how we need downtime to reenergize after socializing and all this isolation will make us all too powerful ad we’ll take over the world. Don’t worry, it will be a peaceful takeover. Lots of tea and books. Ha-ha!
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I’m here for realness and sincerity, honesty and vulnerability, I’m here for the good and juicy bits of life that shine for me when I know I’m heading in the right direction.

Rad Fatty Love to ALL,

<3
S

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