Day 31. My quarantine buddy #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 31st, 2020 is the last day I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge. I am sad.

As I sit in front of my white screen, I think of the past 31 days, and all the things I didn’t do, or I should have done right in terms of getting my writing done earlier or write better slices, instead of been teetering on the edge of producing whatever came to my mind at the last moment. I wish I had been more hopeful, funnier , or less mono-thematic. I caught myself censoring lots of my writing because I was gloomy or dark. I wish I had been more consistent with my comments in other slices. I wish I had followed the journey of at least one person the entire month. Instead, I just clicked randomly on the hyperlinks that were in front of me. To be fair with myself though, I really wanted to expand my horizons, and read more people, and not just get caught with the one that I already follow and like. Despite all my wishes not getting fulfilled, it’s still one challenge for the book that we will never forget, and will remain in our blogs as a testimony of a very important and literally, life changing period in the history of humanity.

I don’t want to finish the challenge without posting a slice I wanted to write since the COVID-19 crisis started, and the stay home saves lives campaign was imminent in my state.

February 14, 2020, my daughter sent to our family group chat a screenshot of my husband’s Facebook prediction about the coronavirus. We all laugh and made fun of him, to the point that he felt bad and took the post down. Still, he was really concerned that nobody was taking it seriously. A month later in the same group chat we were telling him that he was a visionary, just on the footsteps of Bill Gates.

Steve Corona virus prediction 1

Fortunately, the virus hasn’t taken any lives in our community yet. But it has in many others, so we are following the governor’s mandates of stay home saves lives very serious. The last month has been a roller coaster month and without my quarantine buddy, Steve, I wouldn’t have been able to survive.

First of all, he is the first and sometimes only one to like my slices, and even though he seldom writes me a comment on the blog, he always makes sure to tell me something in person. He is always reassuring and positive which has been crucial.

Being positive. That’s one of the thing that made me fall in love with him. His laugh, his way of seeing the positive side on things and people (despite his apocalyptic prediction a month and a half ago). Latinamericans like me (or maybe it’s just my family) have a tendency to see the dark side of things, so having him around has been a pivotal part of my growth as a person, and to certain degree his positivism has been contagious.

During this month, I was giving him hugs and words of reassurance when he saw his online business in Amazon going downhill since what he sells is considered non-essential. Like many people that have been laid off, it’s hard when they tell you that what you do for living and on top, you love to do, it’s not essential. Despite everything, he still is working alone in his warehouse, preparing his beloved Spanish hand painted ceramics and extra virgin olive oil in boxes to be ready to be shipped as soon as Amazon let him do it. He is also helping once a week in a Food Bank picking up the food that it’s distributed to people every Wednesday, and with some construction work they needed in the Food Bank facility. He donated a bunch of Olive Oil to the Food Bank, and people are really enjoying that treat.

He tried to lure me to go and help him with the packaging at his warehouse. I have done it three or four times, but the weather hasn’t contributed too much. It’s still very cold, and the last time I had such a migraine.that I am more incline to be a couch potato. Some days though at home, I feel I haven’t done anything since I just talked to people over the phone and wrote emails. I need to keep reminding my self that that’s been productive also, and my quarantine buddy knows that.

When we worked together in his warehouse we didn’t talk too much. He just gave me some instructions about what I needed to pack and he went to his computer to fulfill two or three orders and off to build some shelves for his packing materials. He put classical music and we worked for six hours shoulder to shoulder. Those days I felt such a synchronicity with him and my heart full of gratitude for having him to my side.

Now, at the end of the month of March, even though sometimes I feel like Gertrude, and want to start knitting a scarf for my husband, I can’t be luckier. My quarantine buddy has the healthy doses of listening capabilities, the strength that I need when I feel weak, and the tenderness and kindness when I am in need of a real hug. On top of that, he is a fabulous cook and we have Spanish extra virgin olive oil for life.

A couple of days before my wedding, I told my mom that marriage was like a lottery ticket. She told me: Yes, but you know if your are getting the winning ticket.

She was absolutely right.

0-0-Knitting
When Steve saw this meme, he told me that he was going to hide my knitting needles and yarn, just in case.

Day 29. Slices of music #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 29th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

Thank you to all my fellow writers for your best wishes and desires that my migraine disappears soon. Health and science are crucial to our well being, and the current events are a brutal testimony of that.

Music can’t cure Covid-19 but definitely can help us cope with quarantine. Today I saw in Instagram a 20 songs challenge, and I decided to take it. Basically, it asked you to answer 20 questions related to music . I was impressed of how each question put me in a path of remembering or making efforts to decide what to say. At the end, each question encapsulated a little story that I couldn’t convey in my Instagram’s stories.

Music itself has a story, and each piece hides behind a slice of our lives.

1. My favorite song. Heartbeats by Jose Gonzalez. Two years ago I discovered this artist, and I don’t know why I became obsess with his songs to the point that it was the artist I listened the most in Spotify in 2018.

2. A song I hate. I couldn’t find any song I really dislike to the point that I hate. The closest is #11 in this list but I actually like the song, I just dislike in what it became. Hate is a strong word and I can’t hate music.

3. A song that makes me sad. The Well-Tempered Clavier: Book 1, 1.Prelude in C Major, BWV 846 by J.S. Bach. Every time I hear this piece, I remember my mom and when she was fighting cancer. I wrote a slice about it last year.

4. A song that reminds me of someone. Buckin Up Song and Bed Intruder . These two songs are part of my kids’ childhood. When they came up, we were amazed at the creativity that people have. It was one of the first stages of something becoming viral. When I listen to them I can see my children laughing and enjoying the twist. Now these two songs are part of our family repertoire.

5. A song that makes me happy. Bicycle race by Queen. Anybody that knows me, knows that this song combines my love for biking and Queen.

6. A song that reminds me of a specific moment. Bachata rosa by Juan Luis Guerra. When I met my husband in New York, this song was en vogue. We went to the Madison Square Garden together to listen to Juan Luis Guerra. It was really fun. Everybody started to dance everywhere. We even thought of playing the song in our wedding but we couldn’t find anybody who knew or wanted to sing it. I gave Steve a cassette with all the songs and left it in his apartment. The story of what happen with that tape is another story.

7. A song that I know by heart. Alle Vogel sind shon da. I attended a school run by German nuns in Chile. We learned this song at an early age and we have to sing it every year. All my classmates, even the one that didn’t learn too much German know the song by heart.

8. A song that makes you dance. Madre tierra (Oye) by Chayanne. I didn’t know this song until I went to Spain, and I got introduced to a fun way of dancing it when the swimming pool on my town organized an Aquadance. It was hilarious. From that day on, every time I listen to the song, I stop everything and start dancing. Last September, I introduced the song, lyrics and dance movements to all my classes from 3rd to 5th grade as part of celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month. It was the third or four weeks of school and the kids barely knew me. Probably they thought I was crazy.

9. A song that helps me sleep. Arroró mi niño by  Maria Lopez. I put this a little bit as a joke since I can’t sleep with music. I prefer to sleep with no sounds that distract my brain from resting. This song though is a song that my mom sang to me and I sang to my kids. While searching for it in YouTube. I learned it was featured in the soundtrack of a horror movie called The curse of La Llorona. It was not very successful as you can see in Rotten Tomatoes.

10. A song that I secretly love. Wake me up by Avicii. When Avicci took his life in 2018, I didn’t have the foggiest idea who he was, let alone knew his songs. I started to read about him, and watched a documentary about his rapid success and all the pressure he received. I usually don’t like the trendy music, but Wake me up touched me, and since then I secretly love it, especially knowing the tragedy behind his creator.

11. A song that I used to love and now I hate. Libre by Nino Bravo. This song was beautiful until the Pinochet regime in Chile took it as its unofficial anthem.

12. A song from my favorite album. Piano man by Billy Joel. I have many favorite albums but Billy Joel has a special place in my heart. I first heard Piano man in a party when I was in 8th grade and a boy invited me to dance when it was playing. Later,in 1979, when I went to Germany as an exchange student, I went to my fist pop concert in Hamburg, and it was of Billy Joel. It was an eye opener. I thought I was going to see just a guy with his piano and his harmonica. When I saw all the equipment and display, and performance that he put on, I started to understand what a real concert meant.

13. A song that I know how to play with an instrument. Los pollitos dicen. I can’t play any instrument. This is a very popular and simple Latinamerican children song that I can play barely with a flute.

14. A song that I sing in public. La Bamba by Rickie Valens. Curiously this song is universal and can be danced and sung by anybody. I sang it in an intercultural camp I attended in Thailand in 2015, where only I and a boy from Cataluña spoke Spanish. Everybody loved it. More recently I sang it in my first Karaoke appearance at the last Holiday party of my new school.

15. A song I like to listen to while driving Aria (Cantilena) of Bachianas brasileiras No.5f or Soprano and Cellos, W.389 by Heitor Villa-lobos sang by Kiri Te Kanawa. I find this Aria very inspiring. When I was in my thirties, I participated in Chile in a group that we called Cucópolis which was the fantasy city that appeared in the play The Birds by ancient Greek play writer. Aristophanes. We met to discuss things that we were passionate about. By turn we gave a lecture or explanation to the rest of the group of something that was prowling on our minds. My cousin Paula, the same of song #18 sang in a choir and was very gifted. She gave us a presentation of music and how the same piece could be interpreted very different depending of the singer or the director. One of the examples she gave was with this Aria and Kiri Te Kanawa. Since then, I love to listen to this piece, and if it’s in the car at its maximum volume, while driving in the countryside on a summer day with the windows open, the better.

16. A song from my childhood. Salta, salta pequeña langosta by Los Cinco Musicales and danced by Chilean Música libre show from the early seventies. When I was 11 or 12 this song became very famous by a TV show where a group of young people danced and dubbed the top hits. One of the girls in the group was Mera. She had very long hair and wore long socks just above the knees. It was the maximum. I just loved the show and waited anxiously every day to 6 pm to dance barefoot along with Mera.

17. A song that nobody expect I would like. Bailar by Deorro. My daughter introduced me to Deorro in January of 2018 when I needed to direct one of the act of a play by Spanish dramatist, Ramón María del Valle-Inclán. I wanted to give a modern twist to this beginning of the 20th century play. I wanted to set my scene in a Spanish discoteque, so I messaged my daughter and asked her what music could I play, and she sent me Deorro. I enjoyed so much directing the scene, and coming up with an original idea, that started to listen to Deorro more than I thought I would, until I found the perfect song for my scene, and I actually like it.

18. A song that I would like to be played in my wedding. It was already played in my weeding and it was Amazing Grace interpreted by my lovely cousin Paula Siles (in the link is a version by Ella Jenkins). She told me she wanted to sing in our wedding but she told us that she wanted to surprise us what she was going to sing. After our vows she start singing with her beautiful voice. It was magical. She also sang the Ave Maria by Schubert.

19. A song that I would like to be played in my funeral. El derecho de vicir en paz (The right to live in peace) by an ensemble of several Chilean musicians. It was inspired by Victor Jara’s original song that he composed in 1971 to protest against the Vietnam War and the US intervention. The song was widely sung during the 2019  Chilean protests that started in Oct 25, 2019. The lyrics are very powerful, and somehow are resonating all over the world. They should be sound loud and clear.

20. A song that I am currently listening. The Night we met by Lord Huron. This was the first song that Spotify started to play when I clicked on the playlist I follow, Bike Ride Tunes by Christina Waddle. I like to play this list when I work in my computer not when I bike ride. When I bike ride I like to listen to the wind, the birds, and my wheels crunching on the gravel.

MySpotifyWrapped2018 EN
My 2018 Spotify

 

Day 27. Stages of grief #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 27th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

Since my Coronavirus quarantine started 14 days ago, I have thought a lot about the five stages of grief by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. A friend of mine recommended me her memoir The Wheel of Life when my mom was dying of cancer in 2011. Since then, I always recommend it to people that are going through something similar. During the current crisis I feel that I am participating in a global grief: people are dying, and my own behavior can affect other people’s lives.

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I think I have been through the five of them already.

 

 

 

 

Day 26. Between the lines #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 26th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge. Today is also my daughter’s birthday. I remember with so much longing last year when I was with her, on her 23rd birthday. Love you so much hija!!!

 

Today I participated as a surprise guest in the 2nd Online Thursday of my Spanish friends’ Thursday’s Foam writing workshop meeting (via Whatsapp). Maria, the fantastic person who runs the workshops, receives all the stories ahead of time, and also an audio of each participants reading their story. By 6:30 pm Spanish time, the workshop starts via Whatsapp. Maria sends all the stories in an email and in alphabetical order we read and hear every story. At every time, we comment and Maria makes the most important points and analyses of the story just read/heard through an audio recorded in real time. I am so impressed of her quick grasps of each story, and how she can see (or not) immediately the elements of the homework she had given the group the last week. This time they needed to include 4 elements that drove the actions of the character: Lies-Motivation – Needs – Ghosts.

I spent almost 4 hours listening and reading ten amazing stories, and reading to witty and funny comments that were scrolling fast on my feed.

This morning, at 9 am, I was in the chopping block since I haven’t written in so long in Spanish. The workshop was about to start and my screen page was in blank.  Since my brain can’t write two pieces in one day, let along in different languages, I am going to put here what I wrote in Spanish, and give my best in translating it into English.

Entre líneas

9 am. ¡Mierda! ¡Solo tengo media hora para sacar algo de mi cabeza, escribirlo, grabarlo con mi sexi voz y enviársela a María por whatsapp! Ayer abrí los 1818 mensajes que tenía guardados del chat de la Espuma de los Jueves. Me he pasado siete meses buscando palabras en español. Mentiría si dijera que lo he intentado. La única vez que lo hice fue el  sábado 11 de enero cuando organicé el drive de los jueves. Mientras creaba la carpeta de cada uno de los participantes, y en ella sus relatos, me los fui imaginando en cuerpo presente, cada una de las voces que conocía y la de los nuevos, inventándomelas como si ya las conociera. Me daba tanta envidia que los jueves tuvieran nuevos amores. Ceci, Carmen, Pedro, Maite y que mi propia espuma ya no desbordara del tazón.  No ser parte de esas risas, y esos juegos. Que mi piel no sintiera el sol sevillano, ni que pudiera subir la cuesta de Guzmán con 40 grados de calor, o llegar a saludar a Chema y entrar a un aula blanca, austera, fría que solo los días jueves a las seis y media de la tarde se llenaba de ilusiones, donde éramos capaces de matar la soledad y enfrentar a nuestros propios fantasmas. Esa sola vez, miré con envidia los relatos que iba insertando en cada carpeta. Tan buenos, tan prolíficos, tan agobiantes. Cuando creé mi carpeta, me armé de valor y abrí un nuevo documento. Lo titulé Retomando la pluma. Permanecí diez minutos mirando la blancura de la pantalla. No tenía nada que transmitir. Me había convertido en un café expreso amargo.

Al mes siguiente, lo volví a abrir. Esta vez lo titulé Tinta invisible, y de mi teclado solo salió una frase. Si no vez nada, es porque se te han acabado los poderes de leerme entrelíneas.

9:24 am hora de Oregon del jueves 26 de marzo 2020. Cumpleaños de mi hija Matilde. 18:24 en la provincia de Sevilla.

Fe de erratas: Calculé mal la diferencia horaria entre España y Oregon. Me había adelantado una hora. Sin embargo, la presión me ha hecho romper el hielo y escribir. La espuma de los jueves es mi motivación y necesidad.


Between the lines

9 am. Shit! I only have half an hour to get something out of my head, write it down, record it with my sexy voice and send it to Maria via WhatsApp! Yesterday, I opened the 1818 messages I had saved from the Thursday’s Foam chat. I have spent seven months looking for words in Spanish. I would be lying if I said I tried. The only time I did it was on Saturday, January 11, when I organized the drive of the Thursdays’ Writing Workshop. While creating the folder of each of the participants, and placing in it their stories, I imagined them face to face, listening to each one of the voices I knew, and creating the one of the new participants as if I already knew them. I was so envious that on Thursdays they had new lovers. Ceci, Carmen, Pedro, Maite and that my own foam no longer overflowed from the bowl. Not being part of those laughs, and those playful days. That my skin did not feel the Sevillian sun, or that I could bike up the Guzmán slope with 40 degrees C of heat, or get to greet Chema and enter to the white, austere, cold classroom that only on Thursdays at six-thirty pm was filled with illusions, where we were able to kill loneliness and face our own ghosts.

That one time, I looked enviously at the stories I was inserting into each folder. So good, so prolific, so overwhelming. When I created my folder, I plucked up my courage and opened a new document. I titled it Taking Up the Pen again. I spent ten minutes looking at the whiteness of the screen. I had nothing to convey. It had turned me into a bitter espresso.

The following month, I reopened it. This time I titled it Invisible Ink, and only one sentence came out of my keyboard. If you don’t see anything, it’s because you have run out of powers to read me between the lines.

9:24 am Oregon time, on Thursday, March 26, 2020. My daughter Matilde’s birthday. 18:24 in the province of Seville.

Errata: I miscalculated the time difference between Spain and Oregon. I was an hour ahead of time. However, the pressure made me break the ice and write. The Foam on Thursdays is my motivation and need.

Screenshot_20200320-092936_WhatsApp
Thursday’s Foam – My Spanish Writing Workshop Chat

 

Day 24. The unsent letter #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 24th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

I just found a letter I meant to send to my sister-in-law for her daughter, Kathryn, who was attending a retreat in November 2017. I don´t know why I never sent it to her. I think I felt embarrassed. I was living in Spain, and I was not pivotal in her life. I am still not.

Nonetheless, today I want to make it public. I find the letter somehow more relevant now than three years ago. I am searching for answers myself, and to certain degree, I want to connect to her through the world of writing.

Dear Kathryn,

I was uploading a bunch of old photos this week, and came across of several of you, when we spent time together in either Oregon or Seattle. It was almost 10 years ago! Now, when I think about the young adult woman I met last summer, I am totally amazed and impressed. Or maybe I shouldn’t. You come from two amazing parents who have helped you to be funny, caring, strong, witty, resilient, and best of all, a good person. I am very happy for you, and your confirmation goals. Feeding the soul is as important as feeding your body. I really admire people that have strong faith and are consistent with their projects and values. Sometimes it’s not easy. You receive a lot of pressure from everybody, and the most difficult ones are from the people you love or care. Stay strong, keep up with your dreams (I like to call them projects, otherwise they stay in that unreachable realm of dreams), and always feed your spirit. You are a young and busy person, but it’s always important to find the time to get out of the roller coaster, and recollect, think, meditate, pray. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are, that’s something as important as your studies, your future professional career, your job.

Dear Kathryn, I will be thinking of you when you open this humble letter that your momma will put among other more important things.

Kathryn and J.J.
Kathryn with our late dog J.J.
Kathryn and Mati
Kathryn with my daughter Matilde in 2006

Day 22. Random thoughts of a new Sunday #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 22nd, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

My day was good but long, and despite the fact I was outside, there were very few minutes in which I was not aware we are in a new reality. The highway was empty, the trails were empty, and passing through towns that were filled with tourists two weeks ago, hit me hard.

Reading guru Donalyn Miller wrote a post to launch the social distancing #bookaday challenge. In the following paragraph she eloquently expresses what’s going on with me.

I have never had so much free time to read. Too bad I don’t have the requisite attention span or emotional energy to read much right now {…} Right now, sitting still long enough to read more than a few pages makes me jumpy. I can tell that I haven’t been reading enough lately because I feel splintered a bit—a sure sign that I am too much in my head.
I’m struggling to allow myself the joy of reading.

After a long drive and a hike, I arrived home at 8:30 pm. I had supper and learned through the local news on T.V. that all state parks are closing tomorrow. My boundaries are shrinking, still, they are wide.

My daughter is on a quest of cheering up people via Instagram. She told her friends that if they answer to her story with fire she would choose “the most beautiful photo” in their feed, and publish it in her story. She ended up putting around 40 photos of people that replied, among them me.  When I replied, I wondered which photo she was going to pick from my feed since I have 954 posts. She surprised me. And made me laugh not just with the one she put of me, but with the photos she chose and the witty and funny things she wrote about her friends’ photos. Too bad you can’t see them. She surely fulfilled her quest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 20. “Bird talk” #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 20th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

2:00 pm (PST). Today I am pulling out the book Writing to senses> 59 exercises to ignite creativity and revitalize your writing by Laura Deutsch and I will use it like the Russian roulette. Instead of a gun I will use one finger. Wherever my finger lands, I will do the writing exercise suggested, no matter how hard I find it or how much I hate it. I am finding very difficult to focus right now, so a little bit of guidance won’t hurt.


2:15 pm (PST) Chapter 14 Bird talk, page 68. I think I can do this! The exercise suggests to find a place outdoors (yes!); listen deeply, and describe what I hear, and what stories arise from there. I will need to apply a lot of my mindfulness skills, otherwise my mind will wonder off. I will take the dogs for a walk and get the mail. I haven’t check it in 2 days. Our mailbox is around a mile and a half away, and I don’t want to take the car. When I return, we will see what I come up with. Til then now.


6:45 pm. (PST) Here we go.

I didn’t want to grab the leashes before I eat something, otherwise the dogs will know what I was up to, and wouldn’t stop barking until I have have swallowed my last bite. As soon as I was ready and put their harnesses on, my house was filled with barks of joy and wagging tails galore. I grabbed Clyde, who is 14 years old and blind, while Buck, our Andalucian teckel, age 8 and full of energy darted through the doggie door. At the porch I felt the air, I love the smell of wet dirt, Juniper trees and Sage brushes. On our gravel driveway I put both dogs in their double leash, the only way Clyde can walk that isn’t in circles.

Our steps were steady, I could hear our paws and feet stepping on the little pebbles of the road. Crunch, crunch, crunch. The dogs next door started barking of jealousy. In one point they were 5 of them. Mad dogs, didn’t let us walk in peace. When finally we passed the dogs, we were able to hear roosters cock-a-doodle-dooing, and horses trotting happy since they canceled the rodeos of the season. Half way through to the mail box, I felt somebody in my back. It was a man. Probably he felt my uneasiness even from the distance and told me: Just going for a walk. He smiled and passed by. I had just finished “Neck, 1990”, the first chapter of I am, I am, I am: Seventeen brushes with death by Maggie O’Farrell, probably not the best book to read during the Covid19 outbreak, but she’s such a good writer. In the first chapter, the author is hiking alone when she encounters a man in the middle of nowhere. I don’t have to tell you that it was a pleasant rendezvous. My mind started to spin 200 miles per hour. I was just feeling his presence on my back, but I couldn’t look back all paranoid, but yes, I was. Mindfulness was not working at all. I had the dogs, I thought. He will be scared of the dogs. Not really. My dogs are pathetic. One can’t see a thing, and the other has a brain smaller than the pebbles we were walking on. I  glanced at him pretending I didn’t care. He looked at me and said what he said, and my freaking out moment passed. Seconds later I was watching the silhouette of one very harmless old man balancing around happily in the horizon. No wonder my daughter told me this morning that I needed to chill out.

10:00 pm. Sorry, I got a little bit distracted. My husband arrived, we had supper and just finished watching “Free solo” thanks to the suggestion of a fellow slicer that now I can’t remember. If you happen to have read her slice or are actually her, please let me know, and I will hypelink her post. Thanks for the recommendation. I really enjoyed the documentary. Very well done and up-nerving, like everything in life.

Continuing with “my outside” observation, I have to say that we saw a father with her daughter riding a very tiny bike being dragged by a police dog on a leash. When they crossed us, the dogt almost throw the dad to the ground.We eventually got the mail, we heard some crows crowing, saw 10 cars passing by, five deer roaming, 9 cows ruminating, and our neighbors stopping to say hi from a brown Chevy suburban that I swear it passed twice, or everybody has the same car around here. My dogs found a hole that dug for 20 minutes, and at mile 2, Clyde refused to move. I have to carry him the last stretch home. After 2 hours, we made it back. I did a 2.8 mile outside observation, and I talked like a bird.

Disclaimer: We live in a very remote area. Our land faces BLM land, and we barely see our neighbors. I don’t want anybody to think that I am walking around spreading the COVID19 to my community. Oddly enough, I felt that today it was the most amount of people I have seen since last July on a Friday at 4 pm. Or maybe, it was the normal back from work rush hour.

the three of us (Small)
The three of us
My neighborhood (Small)
My neighborhood
Clyde is done (Small)
Clyde is done

Writing with the senses

Day 19. Festival of Fire #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 19th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

Spaniards love festivals and celebrations. Due to the coronavirus crisis many of these very important events have to be postponed or cancel. One of them is Las Fallas festival (or the Festival of Fire) in Valencia. The event is celebrated during the first three weeks of  March with public events all over this autonomous community. In 2016, the festival was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

We never went to Valencia much less to watch las Fallas (it´s in my bucket list) but we always were impressed to see on TV those big pieces of art on a float. People devote more than 6 months to build them and spend thousand of dollars with the hope to win one of the prizes of the best Ninots (the name of these big caricatures), and finally burn them on the day of La Cremà, March 19th.

According to the official tourism website of Valencia, the origin of las Fallas comes from the old carpenter’s tradition who, when celebrating the arrival of spring on 19th March, used to burn pieces of wood (parota) that were used to prop up their lights during the winter.
To this initial fire, people started to add old clothes and belongings to the point that the wooden structure took the shape and aspect of a human. Eventually those structures evolved to become the ninots that we know today. Soon enough the Spanish humor and irony was shown in the ninots. Many of the floats are a satire of real life, politics, religions, pop culture and many other aspects of Spanish life.

Today was the day of la Crema, that many Valencians were preparing with so much hope and care. A rite that didn’t happen. My brother sent me on Instagram a post from Alejandro Martìnez Notte (@martineznotte) telling the story of a five year old girl who was dreaming of this day the entire year. Her parents managed to celebrate la Cremá in confinement. They made a Ninot with what they found at home. They called it Coronavirus, and they burnt it today through the symbolic ritual of finishing with the obsolete, the injustice, of what is worthless, to reborn year after year from ashes. March 19th, 2020 Valencia doesn’t have Fallas. Silence. No Cremà. No music. No laughter. Just hope.

You can see the entire post with some photos and a video here.

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Here are some photos of previous Fallas by David MarkAlejandro Vidal and  chusa8 from Pixabay

 

Day 18. My brain is a white screen #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 18th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

I remember when I was a girl I taught myself to think of a white screen when I have trouble to fall asleep. For me counting sheep was very distracting. They were always rebellious sheep that didn’t jump in an orderly manner. The white screen worked for me many times if I concentrated really hard and stick with the concept of a white screen. But often, a bubble gum appeared in one corner or in the middle of the screen; sometimes was a spot of ink, or a red dot, that started to grow and grow and change shapes and become something else. I stayed awake for hours wrestling in my sleep.

Today my brain is something else, filled with images that I can’t shake it out. They have frozen my creativity,  making me feel mono-thematic, or guilty or superfluous or both if I write light fiction or about the wonderful bike ride I did today. I feel that my brain is filled with dark images and ideas, that as soon as I open the computer, turn into a white screen.

Day 17. Following the protocol #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 17th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

After three days of not going into town, Pia offered her husband to do the groceries. She spent the entire afternoon hiking with their dog at the Smith Rock State Park while he was working in his warehouse. The list was not outrageous but somehow ordinary articles with one or two odd things. She opened her phone and reviewed the list that they have put together:
bran muffins
boneless chunk roast, round steak or stew meat to cut squares (this is Steve)
sour cream
egg noodles
tomatoes
onions
flour
yeast
bread
fruit
sodium hydroxide or lye, caustic soda, or pure or food-grade sodium hydroxide
coconut oil
some sort of cookies maybe waffle or Belvita Breakfast Biscuits Cranberry Orange (this is Pia).

After four stops, she managed to bring home everything but lye. It seems the entire country decided to make soap, Pia thought.

When she open the door, a soft voice came from the speakers: Welcome home, Pia. We have noticed that you were out of the premises. Please, remove your clothing and be ready for the routine screening to comply with the protocol. 

Pia puts gently on the floor the grocery bags, and undress herself nonchalantly. Please, hold your arms up and be ready to follow disinfection.

A soft mist sprays from the ceiling covering her entire figure. For two minutes she stays still while the voice count. Finally, it says. You are cleared and may get dress. She grabs her clothes and place them in the laundry basket, and walk to her room to look for her pajama. She kisses her husband, and together they start unloading the bags while telling each other their day.


New selfie
Three monkey faces: Pia & Buck at Smith Rock State Park with the rock monkey face

 

Day 16. Dead but with my hair done #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 16th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

Today, I talked in the morning with two of my friends in Spain via video Whatsapp. Maria, my former writing workshop leader was confined in her house with her children 14 and 18. She lives in a town of 7,500 inhabitants located 15 miles northwest of Sevilla. We brainstormed of having one of her Thursday writing workshops via Zoom or Google Hangout. We tried both, but we were worried that some members were not going to be able to quickly figure out how to connect with these tools. Whatsapp is one app that everybody masters in Spain. Probably, we will be end up sending audios with our stories read by ourselves in our group chat. People will listen to them at their leisure. They also have a drive folder where we can upload the stories.

We talked about the situation of the covid19 here and Spain and what we were up to. We even gave each other a tour of our houses. We laughed since we sounded like real estate agents trying to convince the other to buy their home. We even showed each other our bathrooms! That was the maximum expression of confinement boredom. On the other hand it was so nice to be have the time to do that. No rush, no sorry I can´t answer, I have to go, I have to work.   

I was impressed about how strict was the confinement in Spain. Police could fine people if they didn´t have a real excuse to be on the street. Andaluces are gregarious people. I can imagine that´s very difficult for them to be isolated, and unable to go to their favorite family restaurant for breakfast.

She told me that to go outside they have to do it alone. Forget the buddy system. The only exception is if they were helping a disable person. They can only go outside if they need to go to the supermarket, the tobacco store (Spaniards are heavy smokers, and not having cigarettes might be very unnerving during confinement), the pharmacy, taking somebody to the health center or going to the hairdresser. Yes, you read correctly, the hairdresser!

After María, I talked for two hours to my  Chilean friend, José. We videochat via Whatsapp also. I caught him at my noon, his 9 pm. He was having supper all alone in a house with ten rooms and six bathrooms in the middle of downtown Sevilla. It´s an old house whose owners rent to scholars and college students. Since all the other tenants were Americans who flee home, the house was empty. José is a PhD student at the Scuola Normale Superiore, one of the most prestigious universities in Pisa, Italy. He is in Sevilla doing some research at the General Archives of the Indies. His chances of going home are very slim, so he is hanging there tight. We talked for 2.5 hours! Both were very surprised of how time flew. When I asked him what´s up with the Spaniards that can´t go to walk to a park but go to the hair dresser, he laugh and told me: it`s very Spanish: Dead but with my hair done. 

Later, I read Spaniards themselves laughed about this exemption profusely. Social media was inundated with memes and jokes about it. Today the government decided that probably hair salons and barbershops needed to close also.

Spain confinement

Semana Santa in Sevilla was cancelled. Processions are VERY important for sevillanos. This is a cartoon joking about that.

Police 1: Could you all explain me where are you going?
Nazareno 1: I am going to the supermarket
Nazareno 2: I am going to the pharmacy
Nazareno 3: I am going to the tobacco store
Police 2: And the Virgin Mary?
Nazareno 4: It´s not the Virgin Mary, it´s my mother. I am taking her to the Health Center.

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Here are a couple of memes that shows signs of barbershops and hair dressers with a menu of sandwiches and beer, a man holding a sign saying he has a hairdresser appointment and another with a complain that the government is closing every store but not hairdressers.

Feria meme

This is a tweet saying that they found a way of not cancelling April´s Fair in Seville, by putting signs of Tobacco Store, Hairdresser and Dry Cleaner on the “casetas” where people gathered tight during this Fair.

Day 14. C is for Covid-19: An ABC Slice about a novel virus #sol2020 #solc

Anxiety. All those apps are open in my phone, their notifications are appearing in an alarming short frequency. They don’t let me read my book in peace. I can’t concentrate, I only worry about the present and the future. I am restless, tense, nervous, with a gurgling stomach. Asimov is here.

Believe. When things get hard, we need to think globally, count on our brotherly and sisterly love.

Cough. Every time I cough with a cacophonous sound, people look at me with caution causing a chaos, crossing their finger, saying back off!, thinking inside or whispering, she has the coronavirus disease 2019.

Deadly Disease that is disabling our lives. I just read we have the first death in Oregon. Deepest sympathy for the family. 

Elbowing, the new salutation.

Fever. You feel sick and congested but don’t worry you don’t have fever. Is that true, or just a myth? I have had pneumonia as an adult once and never developed fever. I remember begging the doctor to believe me and demanding her to order an X ray. How can I flatten the curve, otherwise?

Gift Card. I read in a social media post somebody suggesting to buy a gift card from a place that you regularly go but have stopped due to the quarantine. Your yoga place, your local market, your favorite restaurant or your favorite theater group. You will be able to use it later and you will be helping them to make through this surrealistic time.

Hands. Probably now every single kid in the US is learning that washing their hands means 20 minutes and with soap. I hope they also learn that in some countries water is scarce and soap is a luxury.

Isolation. If you are ill you need to be alone, work at home or pretend that you are in an island, feel like Robinson Crusoe.

Job. Will I lose my job if I get infected? How emphatic are being employers and how responsible are being employees?

Kickback. What will happen after everything is over? Will be an ending like in a book or will be like a Netflix series with many seasons?

Leave. Please, leave from our planet as fast as you got in. We don’t want to live in limbo or lock-down perpetually. I just remember Garcia Marquez’ book, Love in the time of cholera.

Mother, I am happy you are in my heart but not living this. Probably, I am selfish because I wouldn’t like to be so far away from you r.i.g.h.t  n.o.w.

Nature. If you start feeling claustrophobic, go and think outside with no technology or box 

Orwellian, surreal, Macondo. Reality supersedes fiction. 

Pandemic. Now I understand why my mom exclaimed when we were children that the house was a pandemonium when the five of us were sick. I feel privilege to live where I live. Nonetheless, I feel powerless.

Quarantine. Quacking won’t help, if you are sick, my suggestion is that you stay in quietude.

Read. Check your sources, debunk myths, don’t spread rumors. 

Spread Solidarity. Hopefully our first self-fish surrealistic reaction leads to solidarity with the people more affected. All the hands sanitizer that you bought yesterday means that somebody couldn’t have one, and will shake hands with your gramma later.

Tissues. I don’t know if I need them to cover my mouth or clean the tears that are falling through my cheeks. How much will cost me the test; will be enough of them for all of us?

Updates. Every 5 minutes I hear a new case in Spain, close to my friends, my town, my previous life.

Viral. This word is not so popular anymore.

Wuhan. The name of this city had brought to the surface the worst racism, fears and conspiracy theories. I just learned a little of geography and how connected we are. WHO, or World Health Organization, do not confuse with The Who.

Xerosis. My hands are so dry. My knuckles are bleeding. One more drop of hand sanitizer and I won’t be able to wash my hands again. Maybe, I am just getting old.

Youth. Probably some of them are a little self centered, more worried that their spring break is ruined, thinking that’s the perfect time to party or travel if classes are cancelled or their employers let them work from home.

Zest. Let’s embrace the situation with enthusiasm, energy and positivism. It’s our opportunity to start thinking of a better world as one.