I was going to write about the above — and perhaps I shall still. Certainly, it involves a bitch of the redheaded (bottle) and old (truly) variety. A quality moment to be sure and worthy of filing under “no good deed goes unpunished.” We have a delivery, two dames, and a what would be viewed as a crime only by the paranoid.
Okay, maybe we’ll do it like this for now. A paragraph on that nonsense and a little about life back on the planet, which I regret to see as I write this on a beautiful Sunday morning on the last day of May, is not looking too well. Nature is happy for the respite, but mankind is losing its collective mind. America is drowning and burning and I can’t help but think this is a deliberate evil plan orchestrated by monsters.
Perhaps this is where these two seemingly unrelated topics intersect. The redhead, a neighbor, let’s call her Mary since that’s her name and we only protect the innocent. She (and what happened) is a microcosm of the present situation. She is a monster. And like all good monsters, she doesn’t look like one. The old lady thing is a genius cover. She’s aggressive, bullying, insincere, devoid of empathy, a liar: like her larger counterparts who make the news.
This morning brings more footage of protests and strife in major cities. There is a great deal of assigning of blame and righteous anger. I get it. I also can’t help but wonder if this is precisely what “they” want — to have us at each other’s throats, to start a civil war in the midst of a horrific pandemic that winnows people out. I pray to God that was not part of the plan…
To return to Micro Mary: she utilizes the same methods – blame, pitting people against each other, dining on the drama of other people’s problems. What happened was that I, by accident, received her delivery of groceries, which I returned to her once it was sussed whose they were. Here we can bring in a giant of industry: Jeff Bezos who owns Amazon and Whole Foods. The groceries, inside and out, had nothing to indicate whose they were. There was just the Amazon “smile” and the Whole Foods logo. Top secret. I opened the bags to see if there was a receipt with somebody’s…anybody’s name on it. Not even a number for Amazon/Whole Foods. Oh, I forgot we should have that memorized or on us at all times. Anyway, who cares right? I certainly didn’t. The deadly delivery was sorted out in minutes.
Yet, among this sad pokey grocery order were — wait for it — pantyliners! Again, I don’t care. But I do think it was these pantyliners and the sad pokiness of Mary’s things that revealed too much of her miserable self to me, which is what lead to her lashing out a day later. By the way the resemblance to Pennywise is not that much of an exaggeration.
The secrets, lies, the fragile ego under all that brash — sound familiar? Seems like just another day in America. And, having the goods on people. I don’t mean merely a Twitter storm; I mean the real goods. Can’t appear weak — God only knows what would happen! People might think you’re human. So, these crafty monsters deflect and maneuver.
The next morning, before I began remotely working, Mary calls me. I have to say framing the accusation by positing a hypothesis was quite skillful. She begins by saying that she was up all night wondering about the grocery affair. People are dying all around us — terrible painful deaths — and this is what keeps her up at night. I won’t bore you with the details but she indirectly accuses/blames me. I ask her what she’s getting at because I want her to come out and say it. Coward. Did I mention that characteristic of all of these monsters? She says, “You take care.” Which I know is, “fuck you.” Fine.
As we are spoon-fed propaganda and bread and circus, those in power don’t seem to care too much about the death toll, the hate, the anger and destruction, I noticed yesterday afternoon that they launched a rocket. Courtesy of Elon Musk who is another very important monster from another planet. The timing is interesting, isn’t it? Good way to distract people, if only temporarily, from the fighting in the streets to watch money go up into space. And it worked. SpaceX it’s called. For a soi-disant genius that’s not the cleverest name for whatever all this is.
Regarding Mary and the other big fish: I swing from fury, resignation, and disgust. A dear friend of mine tells me to write it down — but just the facts. Don’t editorialize. My brain has a hard time with that one.
Here goes nothing. We’re being duped, and while being duped we are dying, our society is crumbling, monsters are stealing us blind…but I do believe we can rehabilitate the world and ourselves. However, that’s a lot more work than tearing it down.
We have our first guest contributor! This essay came to my attention this morning. It’s written by a young woman I know. I will say more about her at the end, but I will let her words speak. I hope you enjoy.
Being an Essential Worker by Shirley N.
A job that never seemed important. That is how a cashier sometimes is seen. Like many other jobs, being a cashier does not require going to school to get a certificate, a degree, or an advanced degree. It is just simple, but overall it is essential and important. Unfortunately, it is not seen in this way all the time or by everyone. I have been working as a supermarket cashier for about two and a half years, and it is not a simple job as many would say. We have to be careful with customer’s groceries, be patient, be polite, and sometimes pretend not to feel the offenses of people. For example, one day a lady went to check out her groceries with one of my co-workers. My co-worker is in her 40s. She does not speak English well. The lady noticed that, and she started telling the cashier that she should not be working there because she does not even understand and speak English. The cashier seemed very sad, and another lady behind her started calling the manager really loud because she said that the lady was abusing the cashier. This is an everyday occurrence at a supermarket. Sometimes people just want to make us feel down because we are “supermarket cashiers.” When the pandemic (COVID-19) started, we were not simple cashiers, we started being essential workers.
When schools, restaurants, bars, and malls closed, pharmacies, hospitals, and supermarkets remained open. My health, my goals, and my life were in danger. During this time, working to serve people who do not appreciate our work did not make sense. That is how I was feeling. The week my school closed, I worked four days up to the weekend and during my spring break week. That week and a half was something I will never forget. The first day, March 4, the supermarket was incredibly crowded; it took just a day to have empty shelves and people fighting each other because of food. Everything was unreal for me. Before the pandemic, people used to complain about every single thing. They always want to have things at the cheapest price and they bought in less quantity — but not this time. They tried to get as much food as possible. They did not care about the price anymore. It felt like the end of the world. After that Wednesday of work, the only thing I wanted to do was sleep and be ready for the next day because I knew it could be worse.
The next day, March 5th, other schools, and businesses were closing. People were losing their jobs and scarcity of supplies began to happen. That day is unforgettable for me because I was not scared about the virus and everything that was going on. However, it is sad how everything can just disappear. I remember a few months before looking for a job at a bookstore in the mall because I wanted to work somewhere a little slower than a supermarket, but for some reason I did not get the job. That day, I felt grateful that I didn’t, because even though I was in danger, I had work. I would still be able to help my family in Ecuador, and that made me feel blessed. I thanked God once again for what I had.
The next day of work was also hard for me. I have to deal with a lot of people, and in my mind, there was always the question: might he or she have the virus? My co-workers seemed scared. I heard them talking to each other about what they heard in the news, what people were saying, etc. For a few, it is something that they would have to face and only God knows what would happen to them. For me, I thought this experience was something that will make us become better people. However, this did not seem to be on everybody’s mind. For those customers who think we “the cashiers” are useless people, putting my life in danger and giving them service did not seem worthwhile. For instance, there was a guy who came to my register with a bad attitude. For some reason, he pushed one of the items of the customer in front of him and brought it closer to her. The lady did not like him touching her stuff and getting too close to her. I told him very politely to stand where the sign indicated where the 6 feet distance was. He just looked at me and muttered to himself. When it was his turn to be checked out, he started yelling at me to put an item in a bag. I knew that was my job, but certainly, he was trying to give me a hard time. I called the manager because as I said I am a supermarket cashier, but I am not less than anyone. He also treated the manager really badly. Other customers were calling him nasty.
This kind of situation is something that I am used to facing. Being a supermarket cashier for these years has taught me customer service skills when dealing with this kind of person in a real-life situation that most of us have faced or will face. Another thing I will take from it is to not be this type of person because every single job position needs to be respected and valued. Also, advocating for myself is another thing I have learned. Even though I am young, I am able to defend my rights and not let anyone drive over me. This is one of the things that people like me have to know in order not to be put down as many people would like to do to others. Sometimes, it is not something I wish I have to do, but in real life, it is what we must face.
In my everyday work, now there was something different. First, we started using gloves. I did not like the idea because we did not have hand sanitizers to disinfect the gloves. Second, we were obliged to wear masks. Then a second mask, the kind that is clear plastic and covers the entire face, was offered but not compulsory, yet it was an extra safety precaution for us. After the masks, they put up plastic partitions so we would not have direct contact with customers. It stood like that for a while. What did not stay the same was the freedom of buying whatever people wanted and the amount they wanted. Since the shelves were emptying and deliveries were delayed, the store had to make decisions about how they would be able to address people’s needs. Therefore, the limit on chicken, beef, rice, frozen vegetables and fruits, paper towels and bath tissue, etc. was one of those decisions. Again, this was something that made people go crazy. Every day, work is an argument with customers about the limits on food. On sunny days, people come to the store and try to get a lot of packages of meat to do BBQ. It is sad, but it seems that people still do not get what is going on.
After work, it feels like I survived another day, but at the same time, nothing is the same. I feel scared of wearing the same pair of jeans twice, my shoes can not be inside of the house without disinfecting them. Life is not the same, out there many families have lost their loved ones, and even though we are all facing a different situation related to COVID-19, it is not easy to assimilate it. At the supermarket, I continue to experience all kinds of situations. For example, a few people try to relax with a case of beer, others try to get a lot of meat to have for weeks, others buy only what they need, and others’ jobs are to shop for others. This is a really interesting time to me.
I have been experiencing a lot, and I can not stop thinking about how incredible life is. Becoming a doctor requires a lot of studying and many years of interning and residency. Other people make videos and become famous social media influencers and society sees them as important. The reality is different. I am out there making it every day providing an essential service. I never thought I would be in this position carrying this craziness on my back.
After three weeks, the supermarket provided additional protection. Now, we have a plastic curtain that protects our backs. I feel that nothing really would completely protect us, but it is worthwhile to try everything that might help. Staying motivated is also another thing I have been facing because it is sad how the world has changed, but many people’s minds have not. For example, supermarkets went back to using plastic grocery bags so that we do not have to touch people’s bags that they bring from home. However, it is really sad how people are taking advantage of it. They try to take as many bags as they can home. I still do not see the point of this. This is not always the case. There are also people who have tried to thank us for our outstanding work. They have been making signs to make us feel how important we are to them and to the world. I am pretty sure that there are more people who thank essential workers than people who think we are just being paid to do a job, and that our work also includes hearing their insults
Overall, being part of the essential workforce is a role that today is one of the most important. My everyday job is to serve people while exposing my health and my family’s health. Not only that, but my goals, dreams, and feelings are out there with me. I am able to support myself, be a full-time student, manage two jobs, send money to my family in Ecuador, be a daughter, a sister, cook, and wash my clothes every day after work. Throughout this time I have noticed how being essential requires strength, courage, and patience. It is now about two months and a half since people’s everyday lives have changed. Being outside is not joyful anymore. Every day something different and unexpected happens. My job may not be considered important to many because we are still seen as simple supermarket cashiers even though we are the ones who help to keep this world moving forward. For others, we make the difference and that motivates me to continue.
Shirley is 20 years old. She loves mathematics, environmental science and Albert Einstein. She hopes to attend Princeton University where her idol taught. I, for one, applaud her every step of the way.
Hello and Happy March! We’re on the launch pad towards spring and I for one am glad of it. I think we’ll start with beautiful men. They will help us through the gusty windy rainy days as Charles Dickens wrote: “When the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
Back to the male of the species: beautiful men are a wonder. I think it is because they are most rare.
Not only does a young man’s fancy turn to love, so does a young woman’s. Hell, it’s biology people!
So enjoy! We have some lovely images upcoming, as well as other topics of interests which I will not reveal just yet. Stay tuned and look out for some YouTube nonexistent-production-value test drives as I figure that platform out!
“…daffodils, That come before the swallow dares, and take The winds of March with beauty; violets dim, But sweeter than the lids of Juno’s eyes…To make your garlands of, and my sweet friend, To strew him o’er and o’er!” The Winter’s Tale
How is everyone’s 2020 going? We’ve had an almost war, impeachment in the Senate starts tomorrow, and on the Martin Luther King Holiday there’s a Second Amendment rally in Virginia. Which is okay, I suppose, since the First Amendment entitles us all the right to assemble. How heavily armed to the hilt is what I am wondering. We’re riding the whirlwind that’s for sure.
In the micro, it’s time to open up a big can of whup ass. My ambitions for a new template have not yet been realized. This penning would have been under a new menu – working title – “Quick Cuts.” At the moment that new website – and menus – exist only in my imagination, while certain people are absent from the task. I hope you’re reading this! And another person of my acquaintance owes me $40. Not a big sum, but needed all the same. I hope you’re reading this!
On the lighter side, it’s a beautiful frigid day and I’ve had time to read: Dostoevsky, Mishima, social psychology and anthropology. Joy! I have also been decluttering and am appalled at the amount of nonsense I keep. Satisfying work.
Despite the madness and frustration, I shall take the wider view. My octogenarian cat wants to play, have treats and guilt me into opening another can of food. A buffet on the kitchen floor.
None of this should stop me from writing, except the fact that the latest update of this template is counter intuitive. That’s a nice way of saying I f’ing hate it.
In the words of Admiral Farragut, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” The writing will continue. I hope you’re reading this!
Yeppers! Here’s hoping in the next weeks we have a new website! Praying all the planets align and the code gods cue up and we pull this off. Relying on the generous kindness of talented friends to bring their skills to the task with me. Thank you in advance & I do hope you will all enjoy what comes next!
Welcome to 2020! I took time these last days to reflect on the year past, what I choose to leave behind, and what I hope, with a qualified expectation, for a new decade.
Personally, 2019 was a great year. New friends, reconnecting with old, love and support from my family of choice and birth – weddings, babies born, one on the way, harmony, a growing circle of love and joy, good people and kindness, expanding my work in holistic and wider ways, satisfaction and love for what I do.
Geo-politically, or outside my immediate world…it was an ugly year. The endless chatter talks about fatigue. Yes, definitely. I think this a large reason for my not writing much. I am deeply disturbed by all the rancor and vitriol that is rampant. I feel ashamed – for all of us – of images of children separated from their parents, held in unspeakable conditions, ill and dying, the world burning and drowning. The name calling, the glee in destructive action and rhetoric, the cruelty and lack of concern – it’s a leap backward from which I am not entirely certain we will be able to recover: to return to being thoughtful, intelligent, and inquisitive, questioning authority, having accountability, a thirst for knowledge, responsibility for our fellow man….etc. All the things we were taught and know.
Yet there is hope. All of us have the ability to seize the moment and call out this unattractive selfishness. It takes courage, but it is the call to adventure and action. Let’s rescue wisdom from the past. It’s not a us v. them situation – it’s You and I together time. Do the right thing – speak truth to power. Have no fear. In these situations, one grows in leaps and bounds and one discovers how much strength one has. We cannot allow cowardice and laziness to be the prevailing attitude.
I nearly forgot we had a birthday! I was reminded because Sunday was Bastille Day, and I recall penning (tentatively) the first entry the next day. I’m thrilled and delighted to celebrate three years of ink and toil. I’m also terribly pleased with the steady growth of readership, fans, and support. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I wish I had time to write more and often – don’t we all wish for more time? I am making a promise to myself to DO IT!!! Not merely fret about not writing.
I want to thank the many friends who have contributed in various ways to our little home here. Especially my wonderful friend, dear Blanca, who has and is getting me organized and sorted out, AND contributes her excellent artistic eye, web-mastery, and overall wisdom. Stay tuned she has more for us soon. Thank you all. And a special thanks to all who wittingly, more often unwittingly, contribute the raw material for what I write here.
So, there you have it: deep gratitude, more and better & Oh, all the places we shall go!
“City Desk? Clare Irwin speaking. Don’t bother with a rewrite, man, take it direct! Ready?”
It’s the end of June and I haven’t much to show for it, so here goes nothing…’cause I got nothing. Nada. Zip. Truthfully, I have too much and my brain can’t decide what’s next. So for the feeble sake of getting one more post in under the wire — my “writing more” self-imposed rule — here goes not much.
May and June, like last year, marked my return to people and places for rites of passage: graduations, proms, and this year weddings! A wonderful addition. Actually one wedding. The other was mysteriously, via text (a real etiquette violation in my book), cancelled due to a “family emergency” with no other information forthcoming. This wedding everyone was instructed to wear pink which was annoying until my dear friend, who has lots of gorgeous clothes, came up with this little number to borrow:
My friend pointed out that Joan Crawford would not approved of the wire hanger!
The other wedding went off without a hitch. Unfortunately for me, it was in Miami and I could not attend. It was small, intimate, on the beach, barefoot, good food, close friends – perfect! And two of the sweetest people I know. So that was lovely.
As were the graduations of my favorite teens and early 20 somethings. And prom! This year all the rage was something called promposal. Promposal was explained to me by three different attendees and I still don’t get it. What I do get is that it’s an exhausting amount of work (and an inordinate waste of time), with the added opportunity for public humiliation. So we’re down!
Let’s see what else: You haven’t lived until you listen to an 18-year-old recount his group trip to Disney World, with minor adult supervision, which was a mix of endless discussions over EVERYTHING, heaps of drama, and peppered with who threw up on what ride. They’re planning a day excursion to the nearest Six Flags/Great adventure…a Zagat’s guide of the best rides on which to “blow chunks?”
Various: college trips, preparing to leave for college for the first time, vacations: Ireland, Wales, a cruise through Mitteleuropa, the Hamptons, Vermont, and Ohio…well why not?
“City desk? This is Clare Irwin, take it direct! I’m staying put and looking forward to hearing everyone’s excellent adventures.”
What to read…what to read first? I visited my local libraries and the displays were vast and tantalizing. I will enjoy reading their new books recommendations in the near future, but too many choices tend to baffle me.
So I return to the “classics” – ones I never read, and ones that deserve to be read again.The first work I picked up was a collection of Washington Irving’s short stories. I wanted to reread “The Legend of Sleep Hollow,” and while I was thumbing through the table of contents I noticed how many of Irving’s stories are part of the American lexicon, particularly Rip Van Winkle, and of course Icabod Crane and his Headless Hessian Horseman. In the introduction, I read about Irving’s life which was quite fascinating: he spent 17 years living abroad, and was highly prolific in all genres: histories, biographies, travelogues, etc. While in England he visited Walter Scott, whom Irving revered, and Scott was an admirer of Irving’s History of New York. Irving took posts with the Navy and accepted numerous diplomatic positions. Upon his return to America, Irving was nominated by Tammany Hall as mayor of New York – a position he declined. He traveled to the Oklahoma Territory which yielded A Tour of the Prairies. At 52 Irving bought the property which would later be known as Sunnyside – his home near to the locale of his famous tale. Irving is distinctly old New York: the early Dutch heritage, and the mystery and beauty of the Hudson Valley north of Manhattan island. Irving Place in Manhattan is named after him, and his family home there has enjoyed an distinguished provenance of creative people.
While thoroughly enjoying Irving’s marvelous tale and description of life in Sleepy Hollow, a memory from my childhood returned to me – of a trip my mother and I took to see Washington Irving’s home, which is open to the public. My mother planned special trips with each of us on our own with her. Irving’s home is in Irvington, and I recall the weather was beautiful. It was a wonderful day – a special day – the house was delightful and the docents were dressed in clothes of the time. At the end of the tour the kind ladies invited the visitors to a spread of tea things, lemonade and ginger spice cookies – which were excellent. The docents offered the recipe on elegant cards…in green ink and a pretty William Morris-like pattern border. It’s a sweet memory.
When I decided to write about Irving and promised the recipe, I was gripped with anxiety. How was I going to find it amid all the recipes and papers and “stuff” I inherited from my faithful departed? I pulled out the accordion file aptly labeled “cookies” and the recipe gods smiled on me: I found it right away. It’s not the original green ink card, it looks like a 5th generation xerox copy. But it is the recipe with notes from my mother – it’s both comforting and jarring to see a loved one’s handwriting – there’s an intimacy about it that reconnects me to the person. Here it is. My mother used to make the cookies at Christmastime, but the recipe is suitable anytime of year. They are not too ginger-y: they are just right.
So Washington Irving, his lanky schoolmaster and the quiet town where people tarry, brings me to my memories – all supplied by a bite of a ginger cookie.
Postscript: If anyone can’t read the recipe and would like it, I would be delighted to post it in more legible form.
Post Postscript: In the introduction of Irving’s collection of stories, Charles Neider, the editor, writes: “‘Rip Van Winkle’ is a fairy tale of bewitchment and a story of the magical changes wrought by Time. It has been insufficiently stressed that Time is one of Irving’s chief characters…he was endlessly fascinated by the effects of Time. It was an artist’s fascination.” I wonder if that is why, unconsciously, I was drawn to Irving first; for Time plays a significant role in this blog – it is the thread I hope, at least, that I weave into the fabric of the writing.
Okay, I have been more than remiss in blogging regularly, and I offer a thousand apologies. What can I say? I feel terrible about it, yet the summer has been exceptionally beautiful and the lure of being outside and doing outdoor activities has trumped being home. I must make the promise to you, my readers, and to myself, to resume my practice of writing at least two or three posts a month. No excuses!
Speaking of excuses, I mention the lovely weather and time of year, but I also blame Netflix. It’s too addictive. Are there 12 Step programs for Netflix obsession? So many choices, so many seasons, so little time! Compounded to the endless streaming of entertainment, I blame my good friend Will who finds lots of great shows and movies and then texts me his list or calls me up. He’s not the only one, but he is my most consistent provider of suggestions.
Yesterday, Will had some new discoveries: Honeymoon, Viral – both movies, and a show called I, Zombie. There were two others, and while we were texting back and forth the messages sort of crisscrossed each other. For some spaced-out reason I couldn’t find I, Zombie and Will was trying to explain where to find it – via text, with no punctuation, capitalization, etc. – expediency was the higher purpose. I received a text that read, “I’ll talk to you tomorrow and all but add take me to your queen it’s a comedy with an epic ending.” Okay, so I go and look for that title and I find nothing. I picked up the phone and called him to say I couldn’t find Take Me to Your Queen. Will bursts out laughing and says, “I meant take me to your queue!” I don’t know but I thought this was hilarious and we had a good laugh. But, I was also disappointed that there wasn’t such a movie.
Then today while I was doing whatever, I thought, that’s a really good title – a fresh version of the old “Take me to your leader” that aliens would say in 1950s movies about invading hostiles from other planets. I continued to muse over what you could do with that title, what story you could devise. Or maybe, in my completely ignorant view of how Hollywood works, you can go knock on the door of Disney or Universal or Columbia and just pitch the title. That’s it! Then, they give you a credit that lasts in perpetuity, handfuls of money and happy days.
Realistically I can’t imagine it works that way, In any event, I’d settle for a T-shirt with “Take Me to Your Queen” on it.