Stop, Hey, What’s That Sound

As many of you may remember, I live in a patio level condo. You might also remember, that the neighbors from hell recently moved in above me. It’s been one long noise-fest ever since. Is noise stress a thing? If not, it should be a thing. Because I’m here to tell you, constant noise can make you crazy. Oh sure, the argument could be made that I was crazy before they moved in, but still.  Noise stress is definitely a thing.

Fast forward to this weekend. I was napping today, as one is wont to do when one is tired with a migraine. Alas, I awoke from my nap… and not in a comforting way by the relaxing crash of ocean waves against the shore or the rustling of a gentle breeze through a bedroom window that opens on a lovely white sand view… no, truth be told, that was the dream from which I awoke, worse luck. Instead, I was wrestled violently from my slumber by the upstairs neighbors having loud afternoon sex from a bed that is clearly in desperate need of some WD-40 (in volume quantities from the sounds of it) and while we’re at it, let’s just throw some padding between the headboard and the wall, shall we… as their youngest – who, along with the rest of the crew, had no doubt been shown the door for the momentous occasion – stood outside, feet planted inches from my bedroom window, face turned upwards, screaming “mooooommmmmm” over and over and over and over again at the top of his lungs. His volume capability was really quite impressive. He beat The Wailing Child hands down, and that’s saying something. And all I could think of in that moment was, “for the love of all that’s holy, let them be using protection.”

And how was YOUR day?

I think my neighbors took their online training course.

Metaphysical Menu

In my near constant perusal of the interwebs, I came across this gem:

I get the idea behind the sentiment, it’s kind of like that old saying, “you are what you eat,” just on a metaphysical level.  But what does that really mean exactly? Besides me being a total cheesecake. (Ha! See what I did there? Cause I love cheesecake… therefore, I am cheese – oh, never mind).

I guess you could simplify it even further and say if you only eat veggies, you’re a vegetarian. But what about those kids that only eat French fries or what if you only eat ramen noodles and pop-tarts? What are you then? No. Don’t answer that.

I know, I know. The reference here is that if you eat healthier, you live healthier. Live by junk food, die by junk food. Something like that. But honestly though, it’s not an all-inclusive statement… unlike that resort I kinda sorta remember in the Caribbean (hey, they had excellent margaritas!)

Then again, people often misunderstand old sayings. Maybe you’re familiar with the phrase “nip it in the bud.” Referring to rooting-out a problem before it starts. I’ve heard people say “nip it in the butt” more frequently than you’d think possible. Yeah, I don’t know, people are odd.

It goes with song lyrics too. Have you ever wondered why Jimmy Hendrix said, “excuse me while I kiss this guy” in Purple Haze? If you’re at all familiar with the song, I’d hope you’ve learned the actual lyric is “excuse me while I kiss the sky.” This was one of the highest voted misheard song lyrics of all time. No, really, it was. Along with “Dirty deeds done dirt cheap” by AC/DC, poorly translated to “dirty deeds done to sheep.” Which makes one wonder, if that’s what you really thought it was, what the hell are you doing with your life? I mean, come on people.

Okay, so I digress… I want to get back to the quote in question.

“You are the books you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the people you spend time with, the conversations you engage in. Choose wisely what you feed your mind.”

Let’s take this in order, shall we?

I love horror movies and Stephen King books. So, does that paint me as a secretive sadistic serial killer in clown make-up? Or am I the paranormal investigator seeking the truth of an otherworldly existence? Or maybe a member of a cult just waiting to run off and join a bunch of fanatic – if not homicidal – youths in a corn field somewhere, waiting for the perfect human sacrificial lambs to wander by with car trouble so that we can offer them up to our demonic deity for a bountiful harvest. (Children of the Corn if you miss the reference – the original, thank you very much.  But alas, I am too old now to join their little hellfire club. I would instead be the Linda Hamilton character in this movie… which is cool, if you ask me. Not the whole almost being sacrificed to a demon in a cornfield thing, but just being Linda Hamilton.)

Don’t even get me started on music. I’ve had the Ipana Toothpaste song stuck in my head for days. Days! And, it’s not the first time.

As for people, I tend to stick to myself. I suppose my mind is starving in this regard. Unless you count the very patient librarian who routinely processes my out-of-system book requests. You won’t find me mingling at the hottest dance clubs every night or bar hopping across town. Remember the show Cheers? When those guys walked in, the whole bar knew who they were. “Hey Norm!”- “Hey Sam!” Yeah, no thanks. I prefer to sneak in undetected and go about my drinking in peace.

That brings me to the conversations that I engage in. Well if that isn’t the final nail in the coffin. You know how you have that friend, or friends that you can talk however too. You can say the grossest stuff, or dirtiest thoughts, or share the stupidest jokes. Thankfully, I am blessed with friends like that. Oh sure, we might discuss something like A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, but then again, we can get just as worked up arguing whether cereal should be considered soup… or discussing at length the perks of having a special place in Hell awaiting us or even the age old question: “are birds afraid of heights.”

Choose wisely what you feed your mind.

Welp. Maybe I am rather well-suited for those cornfield shenanigans after all. Huh. Who knew? But then again, maybe I’m reading into this quote all wrong. Maybe it’s saying I’d be more of a sleuth, equipped with the knowledge needed to deal with strange situations. Sort of like Sam and Dean on Supernatural or Scooby-Doo. Unmasking the monsters and ridding the world of rogue archangels. That could be it… yeah, we’ll go with that one.  Seems better than joining a cult that worships some sort of harvest demon. I hate farming anyway.

“It was old man Jenkins all along!” Ha! Just practicing.

You’re Not Helping

So, I wrote this entry a couple of days ago but had delayed posting it. Yeah, I know. Should’ve. Could’ve. Would’ve.  But believe it or not, I try to keep my rants to a minimum for your sake as well as mine. Thinking on it yesterday, I decided I would post it today, to follow up on my Social Distancing – Appalachia Style ramblings. I don’t plan on focusing too much on the pandemic in the future, if I can help it (you know, trying to curb anxiety and all that…), so I figured I’d get these two out in close succession. As it happens, late last night, an article on this exact same subject – though by someone much smarter than me, came across my Facebook newsfeed. Ugh. Am I right?  Even though that writer and I have the same viewpoint, we’re very different in how we approach things (i.e., they’re much nicer than I am), so despite the similar topic, I thought I would go ahead and post this anyway. Especially since I hate letting an entry just go to “waste.” However, I am linking to their article so you can read that too if you’d like – just click on the graphic below.

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People across the entire United States (and most of the globe) are sailing in the same quarantine boat. The stay-at-home orders are in place for countless communities all over the world. I want to first say that I hope everyone is safe at home. With that said, a lot of people out there can probably relate to feeling anxious and stressed, especially those who have been laid off, furloughed, or just straight up fired. I’ve already heard of a few restaurants that were struggling before the pandemic (little mom and pop style places) that have 100% closed their doors for good, due to not being able to cope with the financial storm that is currently destroying a lot of businesses.

We’re all on edge as we scour the news for information on the pandemic both from a worldwide perspective as well as how hard it’s hitting our own hometowns.  It’s truly a scary time. Our government, as usual, is doing the bare minimum for its citizens while bailing out corporations (again) which adds to the stress that a lot of us are all feeling. And then you have the hoarders and resellers taking advantage during a national emergency and creating a shortage where no shortage would exist if people would just act – and buy – normally. But that’s not what I want to talk about today.

I want to talk about the so-called self-help nonsense I keep seeing on social media and in articles I’m viewing online. Take this time to learn a new skill!  Take this time to read your massive “to be read” pile of books! Start your own business! Increase your knowledge! If you don’t come out of this better than you were going in, it doesn’t mean you never had the time before, it means you lack motivation, you lack discipline!  In other words, you’re lazy. Yeah, right.

I get that they’re trying to help by keeping everyone motivated (more likely, they have an online class to sell) but some of these are just taking it too far. It’s disgusting how many posts I’ve seen, and continue to see, that are literally SHAMING people if they don’t come out of this situation with a new skill. Or a new business. The privilege and ignorance are showing.

It’s incredibly disappointing, though perhaps not surprising, to realize that so many people lack the empathy and compassion to understand how negatively this situation is affecting others… those who are concerned about having just their BASIC NEEDS met.

Food. Water. Shelter.

Don’t even get me started on medical care. I mean, maybe take two seconds to understand what it might be like to have no income to pay your rent or buy necessities, or to be otherwise stressed out, given the circumstances.

It’s good to aspire to learn more and to do more, but this really is a traumatic experience on a global scale. Many people are already mourning multiple deaths because of this devastating virus. Most people aren’t productive, or even thinking straight when they lose loved ones, let alone multiple loved ones. It’s also hard to be motivated when your body and mind are constantly worried and stressed to the max.  Some people freeze-up or shut down completely when dealing with anxiety overload. It’s a normal response.

If someone can create, learn, and be productive at this time — AWESOME! But don’t judge others if they can’t.

Social Distancing – Appalachia Style

With the COVID-19 pandemic steadily growing, many states, my own included, have initiated a stay-at-home order.  The introvert that I am, this hasn’t been too hard for me, with the exception of eating out and library runs. While not minding the lack of social interaction, I do miss food that isn’t cooked by me, and I miss my frequent trips to the local library. What can I say, I love being surrounded by books.  Oh, and being temporarily furloughed (I’m nonessential… who knew?) is also an issue, but to curb my ever-increasing anxiety, I’m ignoring that problem, you know, as one does.

As most of you may know from past entries, my parents were born and raised in the mountains of West Virginia as were their parents before them. Great-Grandma Mooney of Vinegar Valentines fame – among other stories and her husband were also Appalachian born and bred. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here or not while discussing my family, but my mother’s father died in the coal mines when my grandmother was very pregnant with my mom… so she and the kids (my mom and her brother) lived with Grandma Mooney in her house in the ‘holler’. For those of you who aren’t from the south, a holler is a small valley between mountains. Some people would say it’s a hollow, but they would be wrong. There was only one way in and one way out of the holler, and traversing that road was, well, let’s just say that it wasn’t for the faint of heart.  Now you know what all those country songs are talking about. You’re welcome.

I can’t help but think that they would do better at this sheltering-in-place gig than the rest of us.  I mean, they were nothing if not self-sufficient. Grocery store runs? Nonexistent. Mostly because grocery stores themselves were nonexistent. I was talking to my mother the other day about this very thing and she said that once a month, this one gentleman (the son of a preacher man… hmmm, sounds like a song, if you ask me) would come around to all the houses in their mountain community, which in and of itself was a trek, because it’s not like these were neighborhoods, these folks were spread out – which takes me to the point of social distancing. Since you had to walk a mile or more to see a neighbor, social distancing wasn’t an issue, but I digress.  This one gentleman would come around once a month and take your order for items like flour, corn meal, sugar, powdered milk, maybe cereal (puffed wheat) and a pound of bologna if you were lucky. A couple of weeks later, he’d bring the items to you.  Where he got them is a mystery, but got them, he did. The flour and cornmeal were always bought in bulk – 50-pound sacks, because everyone made bread, biscuits, and/or cornbread every day. When the stash was gone, it was gone. Then you’d have to wait until the next time he came around. If you wanted eggs or milk, but didn’t have chickens or a cow, you traded or bartered with a neighbor. In most cases, you could simply just ask nicely, and you’d find yourself heading home with a quart of milk and a couple of eggs. If you’ve even glanced at the news the past few days, you’d see that today’s masses are hoarding toilet paper, bread, Excedrin, and frozen vegetables. We’re a narcissistic society born of selfishness and greed. But back in the day, people shared what they had, at least in the hills where my parents grew up.

Throughout my mother’s childhood, my family raised chickens, pigs, and what my mother calls a vegetable garden, but was actually more like a mini-farm. Along with burying certain harvested vegetables like potatoes and cabbage (I found out recently from my mother, that this was a thing, and not only that, it worked perfectly to preserve these provisions), my grandmother canned vegetables, fruit, and homemade soup to put up in the root cellar. In addition to canning fruit of all kinds, she dried apples too, since that kept well.  She did this all summer long to ensure they had food through the fall and winter when the growing season was long over.  Since they didn’t live on veggies alone, my grandmother also put up canned beef, homemade sausage, and salted-down bacon… it was their only source of meat in the winter.

Quarantine?  Hell, it would just be like December for them, only warmer.

 

It’s Got Everything

I was going through my phone’s photo albums and came across a screenshot I had taken months ago … no doubt saved as inspiration for future commentary.  And here we are, in the future.  So, let’s get to it.

This was a conversation in reference to the movie JoJo Rabbit, and I don’t know if any of you have seen JoJo Rabbit, but the thing that makes this comment funny – and no doubt the reason I saved it, is that this movie is nothing if not one giant political statement. I mean, I’m not sure what this guy expects from a movie about Hitler. In the words of the great Stefon, this movie has everything… Nazis (the originals, not the ones that just came out from under their rocks recently), a corrupt government, bigotry, you name it, and yes, Hitler – albeit, a buffoonish, idiotic, ridiculous Hitler (played by Waititi himself). JoJo Rabbit is a sweeping commentary on politics, society, war, and hate.

But, and this is where Taika Waititi shows his genius, it’s also a movie about compassion and bravery in doing what’s right despite what your government and leaders, and even your friends, might want from you. Ultimately, it’s a story about kindness and love. But make no mistake, political. In other words, it’s tainted to the gills with “liberal doo doo.”  So foolish comments like these, from people who, if they’re being honest, are probably pissed off at Hitler’s demise (in both the movie and in real life) are comical to me.

If you haven’t watched the film, I recommend it. For me, it will likely be a one off. Don’t get me wrong, Taika Waititi has created something wonderful and poignant and unexpectedly funny… and moving. So. Damn. Moving. I saw it in the theater and at the end, I was left awestruck and speechless and pained.  It wasn’t a movie I could comfortably, let alone enjoyably, discuss afterward – feelings which are a testament to Waititi’s incredible vision. Whether cowardly or no, once was enough for me, it’s not a movie I’ll revisit. However, I still highly recommend it… it’s more than worth the experience.  It won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay and perhaps, more importantly, it won the AFI (American Film Institute) award for Movie of the Year, along with many other accolades, all well deserved.

But yeah. It “gets political.”

click on Stefon to watch the JoJo Rabbit trailer

Old Dogs, New Tricks

Animal shelters far and wide have been emptied as people rush to foster pets during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dogs old and young have found, at worst, a temporary – and presumably, loving sanctuary… and at best, a foster-fail situation (that’s when the foster family adopts the animal themselves because they loved it so much they didn’t want to see it go).  Although most of the stories I’ve seen have been centered around dogs, one can only hope that cats are feeling the same outpouring of compassion. This got me thinking about pet adoption in general. Although, to be fair, it doesn’t take much to get me thinking about pet adoption (which is why I’ve always had so many animals!).

­Not everyone of course, but in general, when people are looking to adopt, they always seem to go for the animals that are the cutest, and the youngest. The little doe-eyed beagle tripping over his ears while running after his sibling. Or that rambunctious little long-haired kitten batting whimsically at that larger-than-it-is ball of yarn while two other little cuties follow it back and forth in their cage.

But what about the older or the not so cute dogs or cats? Maybe a one-eyed pug, or a cat with half a tail. Sure, they might need a little extra care, but what else were you going to do with your life? Something boring, I’m sure, and nothing as emotionally satisfying as saving your new best friend.

People tend to think that older animals come with “baggage,” but seriously, who doesn’t? Not to mention, have these folks ever even tried to housetrain a puppy? Or get thru puppyhood with all their shoes and other household items intact? I know I’ve lost a pillow set or two, and one time, even a chair, in my years of raising fur babies.

Don’t even get me started about kittens that tear up the curtains learning to climb. Or finding all the aglets on my shoes nibbled on. (Fun fact: it wasn’t too long ago that I learned an aglet is the little plastic piece on the end of your shoelace. Knowledge is power, stay thirsty my friends.) Or searching for that lost kitten who found its way behind the cabinets or into the ceiling (true story).

My daughter found a kitten in the stairwell of our condo building a few months ago. Of course, being her mother’s daughter, she brought it into our home. We took the wayward waif (a girl, by the way) to the vet, had her checked for a microchip (nope), and then started canvassing our building and the surrounding buildings looking for an owner. I may have said this before, but I need another pet like I need a hole in my head, no matter how cute they may be, so trust me when I say, our search was thorough. The owner was duly found the next day – they were ecstatic to have her back in the fold (not so ecstatic about my microchip lecture, I’m sure), and all was right with the world once more. However, this foray into unexpected kitten-sitting reminded me that babies are hard. They’re nerve-wracking and exhausting and you worry about what they’re getting into. It’s been awhile since we’ve had a kitten in the house, and I had forgotten just how much trouble they get into. They’re either on or they’re off, there’s no in-between. And when they’re on, you have to be on your toes. All. The. Time.

Sometimes there are good reasons to go for a younger animal and I’m not judging anyone who prefers to start from scratch when adding a new member to their family.  I’m just saying, consider your other choices.  Sure, older animals might come with some emotional baggage, as I said, but let’s face it, so do we. The truth is, they just want love and security and a place to call their forever home, but then again, so do we.

Bonus: in many cases, the older generation already knows how to play fetch or has their running game on point for that morning jog you like to take, or they’re already the perfect couch potato for that Netflix lifestyle you’ve got going on.

Not to mention, you’ll be counteracting what their previous owners did by dumping them, so there’s a bit of karmic brownie points there to be had. And who doesn’t need extra brownie points in life? Plus, older animals, like older people, still have a lot of life in them, so don’t overlook them … you might be missing out on the friendship of a lifetime.