Self-Quarantine? NO PROBLEM

We have all been living a version of a quarantine life since March. Oh, who am I kidding…I have been a pro at quarantining…or as some call it…isolating myself since I was a child.

I like being alone. I am obscenely shy by nature and I find myself isolating even when I am in public. I prefer doing shopping without visiting with people–get in get out. It’s not that I don’t hate people in general, it’s just that I live inside my head most often and I feel muddled when that security is breached by the real world. As a veteran of panic attacks in the local WalMart Supercenter, I am also trying to hurry and get my shopping done before I go into full-blown panic.

I have always been a homebody. I grew up with homebody parents. Dad was gone all week in the truck and when he came home Friday night, he almost literally didn’t move from the couch until time to leave on Sunday evening. Mom, another shy person, was not likely to attend any event that wasn’t required by motherhood or marriage. I joke with dad that he lives alone, I live alone and my son lives alone and we could all just live in one house…but all three of us would lose our haven, our nest where we decompress after socializing. I have lived alone for the past five years and while I am on the verge of temporarily moving in with my daughter, son-in-law and 2 grandchildren, I am already thinking about that time again when I open the door, shuck clothes, lie in bed and read with very few interruptions. It will be a pleasure to have grandchildren so near, but I certainly don’t want to be the spoiled fish that overstays its welcome.

As soon as I learned to read, which was fairly early, I had no reason to leave my home cocoon. I could lay in my bed or the floor or prop up on the couch and read over an entire weekend and not be the least bit sad about the outdoor events I may have missed. Nothing much has changed. More recently, I would be content with not seeing daylight if I am reading a good book, just want to stare at the wall or sleep as much as possible.

While I did all of the things teens did, my haven was my bedroom. We were very tightly budgeted and I had a very plain twin size bed that was one part of a set of bunkbeds that had belonged to my uncle. Uncle Larry was the youngest and when he left for VietNam after high school and I am pretty sure my grandmother kept his bunk beds as a reminder of the very young man who went away and returned with a tour’s experience under his belt and a small family.

My parents stacked for a while, but one early morning as a preteen, I fell from the top bunk to the hardwood floor, waking my parents and myself with my impact. We were all apparently sleeping pretty soundly until the crash, so once Dad and I had determined I was indeed still living, we all went back to sleep. I am sure it wasn’t long afterwards that we took the bunk beds apart and if I fell out of a bed after that, I didn’t have far to fall.

My favorite place was my own closet. The aforementioned hardwood floors were a feature of this late-midcentury model of house and it extended into our closets. We had 2 shutter style doors on each closet and once I shut the doors, I had my own little hideaway, as such. My dappled chihuahua, GiGi–who was always content to lay prone close by and she would snore softly as I read.

Our entire house was not that large. Or noise proof. I realized later, when I started getting out and about with my friends that there were several of this same style of house, a prefab, 3 bedroom, one bath, plopped down in different locations in our tiny town of Duke. The only differences were maybe the exterior or in the fittings installed. While we had white metal siding and turquoise trim, one of my school friends lived in a similar house with wood siding and maybe a dark blue trim. I often marveled at how crowded her house was…she was the youngest of seven girls…with 2 bedrooms available for kids an only one bathroom, I often thought there was a special place in heaven for mommas and daddies who had seven teenage girls and only one bathroom!

With this compact size home plus the hardwood floors…there was no hiding in our home. But even though my mom surely knew I was in my favorite spot–because my dog’s toenails clicking briskly as she caught up to me were a good indication of where I was, Mom also realized the gift privacy was– to be able to dive into a good book until mealtime or bedtime.

I could prop a pillow against a wall, have a blanket in winter or take advantage of the cool hardwood on the long, excruciatingly hot Oklahoma days and recline the breadth of the closet and have plenty of space to stretch out. While I didn’t hang many of my clothes, the smell of old wool jackets hanging above me made me at times cozy and at other times, itchy.

. One of my favorite books to read over and over was Heidi. I would pretend my cheese and milk were straight from the goat and the bread was the stuff of the Swiss Alps instead of the local Wamp’s Foodliner sliced loaf of white bread. I wept when she left her mountain home and rejoiced when she returned.

Other favorite books from this time were the Trixie Belden books, written by Kathryn Kenney. Oh, my! The library bookmobile had some of the series…but the variety store, Wacker’s sold the books. My grandmother went to Wacker’s every Thursday and summers meant I was with her; I was indeed in heaven with my own copies of the series of teen sleuths, the Bob-Whites. I never owned the entire series, but the copies I owned…I wore them out dreaming of solving crime with Trixie, Honey and Di…and probably the copy that got the most reading was when the gang goes to New York City, The Mystery of the Blinking Eye.

My hermit ways really didn’t change much as I raised children. Happily, we are all self-quarantiners and having 2 weeks after Christmas and before the New Year was an excellent time to stay indoors and read. My teaching job allowed me the same holidays as my kids and we all would read SOMETHING…

One book that I ABSOLUTELY connect with the winter break is The Shell Seekers by Rosamund Pilcher. The Shell Seekers had everything I craved in a book…an epic story set in the British countryside. I inhaled the story in spite of it clocking in at 656 pages, according to Amazon. I remember reading the book on New Year’s Eve, while we kept an eye on the ball dropping in New York City and continuing to read well into New Year’s Day. I felt as if I had lost a friend when I completed the book and staggered aimlessly through the library afterwards, trying to find another such story in which I could immerse myself. Pilcher has several other books that are fine, but none cast the same spell on me as did The Shell Seekers.

These days, we have so much media competing for our attention even at home, sometimes I long for the days when I held a real book and had the faux privacy of my closet where I could live through the characters of familiar books. Now, I get sidetracked trying to find out if Glen Road actually exists on Google Maps or if goats’ milk tastes in any way similar to the cow’s milk I have had all of my life. Back then, technology was very minimal, but without tablets and desktops, I wasn’t distracted by finding out where in the heck Cornwall is, an I am sure that it is nothing like I imagined it in my head back then.

The best book series to inspire the quarantine life when I was a child was the Little House set by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Oh, I could read the book while lying under the air conditioner and imagine those howling winds on the prairie where Pa had to attach a rope to the house to keep from getting lost in the snowstorm when he took care of the chores. I would feel like I was sitting with Mary and Laura in the evenings, stitching until their eyes could see no longer in the kerosene-lit abode and went to huddle in the bed to sleep with the wind and cold leaking through the chinks.

The last epic series I have read was Game of Thrones. Well, I actually read the series two times. Yes, you heard that correctly. I was going through a season of depression that was not so horrible that it invaded my attention span, but was strong enough I would spend hours and hours in my bed reading. Not much of a fantasy person, but the GOT series has both likeable and very unlikeable characters and one has dragons. To that point, I had never thought much about dragons, but even as a grown woman, I could see myself in my mind’s eye holding the beautiful eggs, waiting for them to hatch and wreak havoc or just sit on my shoulder. I admit, I wasn’t that infatuated with the Bran chapters, but I turned pages furiously while reading about Daenerys, Jon Snow, Cersei and that little punk Joffrey. When Sansa felt lonely in her home near the clouds, my depression made me wonder at living as far from society and really caring to see people.

Oh, to find a new series of page-turning goodness. I don’t camp out in my closet anymore, but I would still give an eyetooth to have such a series, a few days and my bed.

God Doesn’t Have a Political Party

And now a word regarding posts that imply or outright say that voting for Joe Biden or any political party tbh is voting for the party of Godlessness. Honey, wherever I am, God is with me.👐 Please stop trying to run the table with a one-size-fits-all form. I used to worry needlessly that I was not becoming the model Christian and then one day…I realized there is ONLY one model.

Now if you want to hear about my walk, I will gladly tell you and it is probably very similar to yours.
From the time I arrived in this world, I had family who prayed for me and taught me to pray.
I taught my own children about salvation and grace. We attended church, yes, but the most quality time was in discussion in the car going to school and going home. My kids could ask me anything, tell me anything. And it paid off for them and ultimately for me. No matter what, we love each other as Jesus taught us.
That car is where it cinched for me that I did not need to be in a brick and mortar building to fellowship, pray and just celebrate. God is where I am. Where my kids are. Always.
I have had seasons where I didn’t feel so close to God. Mainly because of my environment and by whom I was surrounded. When I see that someone’s eyes don’t match their words, I falter and get angry because even though I know that person is only human, I feel condescended to. When I realize I am someone’s “project” I falter and feel both sad and angry. Because… I have always known God, known Jesus. I am not sure why someone would infer that I don’t, except I don’t meet a human expectation somewhere. More importantly, regarding God, i try not to assume I am the expert because I am most decidedly not.
Before I started school, my grandmother taught me the Lord’s Prayer. Read and/or told me Bible stories. I remember hot summer nights after going to bed, she answered questions and prayed with us. I may have skipped Sundays and Wednesdays a little too often for some, but I know that My Redeemer lives.
This silly idea that one political party is more Godly than the other is…a little cultlike and scary and may I say, a little blasphemous. Us versus them? Where is THAT in Christ’s teachings?👐
Jesus was very, very clear about our purpose and instruction: Love the Lord fully and love your neighbor as yourself. Nowhere in those two things are exceptions. The Bible actually cautions against overstepping our purpose, infringing on another person’s walk with Christ. We can pray together, but overstepping, in my translation, includes trying to make people in OUR image. What WE expect is not important and should fall by the wayside. God is with us always. He knows our hearts. He is everywhere I am.
I choose to love Him first and also love my neighbors as they are. No exceptions. No party divisions. With all of the warts. As MLK Jr said(paraphrase) hate is too heavy a burden.
Now, that may be more than anyone wanted to hear. I loathe the mixing of politics and religion. And the best way to lose a follower–of God, not on my page– in my honest opinion, is to muddle the two.
We are multidimentional beings and we are able to consider things using intellect as well as follow God. You may have heard me say, “Use the brain God gave you,” because that brain and its ability to have empathy and concern and love and to care but also to be practical and logical is an amazing gift to you and to others. Don’t waste it😊 God is where you are. ♥️
Again, I won’t be mixing politics and religion again hopefully. I just woke up with this on my heart and needed to share. ♥️

What’s Normal?

To break a cardinal rule in writing, I will answer the question posed in the title right now…I don’t know.

Sorry. If you came here for the answer to that question…er…you probably will still want to know after reading…

I haven’t been normal. Ever.

Growing up in a Duke, Oklahoma where high school basketball is a second religion, I was an anomaly. Of course, I practiced in the gym, I had a uniform and traveled with the team. All really cool, because admission was free. I was THAT player the coach sent in with seconds left in the game.

You know, at the point where I couldn’t screw up too badly and lose the game on accident for us. Our team was usually pretty good, so we would be paired with the team with the poorest rating in tournaments. My BIG opportunity to showcase my lack of athletic talent came in those few games.

As I grew older, I began to appreciate suiting up but not playing in games.

1. I didn’t sweat

2. I didn’t screw up the game for anyone and

3. I got in free to the games.

What’s not to like…er…if you really don’t care that much about basketball? Free ride to every game, pay no admission all for the small price of warming the bench during the games and looking interested and enthusiastic.

The 80s was about big hair. Big hair meant lots of blow drying, hot rollers and curling irons and Rave hairspray after games.

If you played an entire game. I didn’t. Ever. So I could be ready to go socialize during the boys’ game in a few minutes. Probably more on that another day.

Anyway, books and reading had always been my thing. We had a pretty spare library at school, elementary library consisted of several book carts in the hallway. High school was a small room within one of the classrooms.

But, every 2 weeks or so, the bookmobile came to town. If you aren’t familiar with a bookmobile, it is like a mobile home that is gutted and filled with shelves of books. The librarians in our system tried to keep a variety of new releases on board and to change out books sometimes for all of us out in the outskirts of our library system.

In the summer, I would walk downtown, enter the bookmobile through a door near the back and check out a stack of books. Upon making my decisions, I checked them out with the librarian near the driver at the front of the bus. As I filled out my name on each card, I couldn’t wait to get home and start reading. I had two weeks and it was rare for me to have a book unfinished in that time. Did I mentioned I love reading?

The bookmobile also had a section of vinyl LPs that were the “audible” books of the period. Oh. I had a sweet little denim-print mono record player! I could LISTEN to books too!

Books were cool and all, but those LPs…so technologically FORWARD to listen to my book on a vinyl record, especially one I had read over and over…From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

Mom was not excited about LPs. She knew the dangers of using someone else’s LP. Books were pretty durable, but if you scratched a record in those days, it was toast and she knew that. But she gave in once.

The day I checked it out was heaven…I would be checking out many more, I was sure. I had 2 glorious weeks to listen to my LP on my little denim record player. Sigh.

To this day, I would swear on a Bible that I returned that LP when the bookmobile came back two weeks later, but the library has the final ban hammer. No more books until I paid for that record. I was CRUSHED. No records and even WORSE…no books.

I didn’t have a discretionary spending fund at the time and mom paid the fee and I was told never to bring home an LP again.

Now you think that the story would include that I did chores, etc., to pay Mom back for that LP. No, sorry. Instead, my mom had the “lost” record to remind me each time that I needed to keep up with my books and records that were borrowed. Guilt works pretty well on me.

The LP never turned up in the many moves I have made….so Southern Prairie Library System you owe me an apology.

f you have never read the book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler, you should. Even if you are adult. To be honest, I have more dreams of running away from home now than I ever did as a kid. How would I get anywhere? I lived in Duke, Oklahoma. The closest city is 14 miles away. My great-uncle was the school principal. My great-aunt was THAT neighbor who watched everyone in the neighborhood out her kitchen window. I wasn’t sneaking anywhere back then.

Mixed Up Files is two children who run away from home and they literally live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC for a surprising amount of time. They hide in bathroom stalls, keeping their feet up, at closing to keep from being detected by the museum security. Claudia, a pragmatic being, brings her younger brother along solely because he has more money saved than she does. There’s more to the story, of course, but I became obsessed with being able to run away and live in the MMoA…how cool is that?

Ok, I never ran away. The guilt would have killed me, to be honest. My parents had a pretty easy gig when I was younger; I was easily shamed. If I misbehaved, “What would your grandmother think?” was sufficient to get me on the trail of righteousness once again.

Back to the term normal. I wasn’t. I spent tons of time inside my own head. While other kids were playing hoops in their driveways, I was either in my bedroom reading or every once in a while, I would go outside somewhere and read.

Not sure what age I was, but when someone gave my mother some Harlequin Romance novels…a lot of them…I finally had reading material for days and didn’t need to return them in 2 weeks. I read most of them more than once. They were filler when I couldn’t check out a book in a library. Harlequins may also be responsible for my unrealistic expectations for love. More on that another time.

“Happiness is excitement that has found a settling down place, but there is always a little corner that keeps flapping around.”
E.L. Konigsburg, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

When junior high rolled around and we had that special unit on the MENSTRUAL CYCLE, I was stoked because we got several pamphlets(reading material!) , probably provided by a corporate sponsor. The pamphlets also gave helpful skin care, hair care and makeup guidance for that young lady new to pubescence.

My dad wasn’t a fan of makeup and, well, rules are rules, so I settled on IMPROVING my skin care and hair care. The pamphlet made the very helpful suggestion of having small, travel-sized squirt bottles of things like water to tame hair when it became mussed.

So I filled a bottle of water. For good measure, I filled a bottle of baby oil, probably one of the only other beauty product available to me as a pre-teen. I would use it to moisturize my skin! Yes!

I didn’t label the bottles. Unfortunately for my hair. So while taming my hair for school one morning in that fog reserved for non-morning people, I accidentally used baby oil on my bangs. In shortening my morning routine, I had not reserved time to fix any mistake I might make…

Did you know that baby oil and water look very similar on hair until water dries?

I do now. I was the laughingstock of my first hour class because my bangs look like I had worked over a deep fryer all night with no hairnet. I am pretty sure no one from the Duke School Class of 1984 will forget when Cheryl decided to organize her beauty supplies and how a drowsy mishap gave me greasy hair instead of the beautiful, well-managed coif that I was envisioning…

Back to What’s Normal…I am not. These days, I am much more comfortable not appearing normal. I know too much. I have an excellent hair stylist who is a genius with people who go rogue with hair products and personal scissors…I don’t hate basketball, but I don’t play it either. My Kindle is my partner for life…easy on the eyes and books instantly…I would have never dreamed…

Yes, I still read books. Not one bit athletic… But I have sworn off baby oil for life.

If you have suggestions, comments, and even praise, please check out the Comment section on oppositeofserene.blog OR my homepage for my blog on Face Book!


Am I a Racist?

As the saying goes…if you have to ask…

Well, that may not always be the best barometer. Humans adapt easily to certain things and if something is unpleasant and they don’t want to discuss it…there are no hoops they won’t jump through to avoid a real conversation.

Be honest.

Look, we all live in this world and we hear and see things and don’t always register them as insulting, unkind or prejudice. Been there, done that.

I would LOVE to think I am the model ally and that I am aware of all of the pitfalls of trying to help POC have a platform. But, I am not. Every once in a while something creeps into my conscious and escapes through my mouth or through my expression and I may not catch it…but if I do, I feel horrible. So guilty. But here’s the thing…

It’s not necessarily about feeling guilty. It’s about admitting that people are not immune. Instead of saying, yes, this is a huge problem, tell me more…people get their hackles up and declare that they don’t see color(false), that they have relatives that are black(so?) and that racism was over long ago and they have no responsibility for what people did in the past(false). Not one of these will give you immunity.

Once people can admit that, yes, there are things in their present day lives that have probably been denied to someone because of skin color, then we can hold conversations and stop wasting our time with the clichés and non sequiturs.

We ALL need advice. We ALL say or do racist things. Just because no one called you out doesn’t mean it wasn’t racism or a prejudice of some kind.

I am a shy person by nature. 10 yrs ago, I wouldn’t have said a thing. However, knowledge has given me confidence and I don’t mind being the conscience. We need to do right by a LOT of people and why not start immediately? Who cares if *finger quotes* “slavery” happened years ago? In many senses it still exists. Education about our prison system. The school to jail pipeline. The very low expectations we have for women of color. All are products of a racist system.

The patriarchy serves white men(broadly speaking) so well, they will be the last to admit there is still a problem. It benefits them to play dumb…which they aren’t. We all know enough history to sense an issue that is festering. I can guarantee if you start being an ally for POC(people of color) that white men will be your hardest sell. Why? because they have the most to lose. I will talk about the women who love these men in another entry. Lots to say…

This is why some get pissy when you(if you are a woman) tell them you are not interested in a relationship, you don’t need their assistance, don’t want to hear them mansplain, etc. White men are accustomed to the power they wield and will go down fighting, sometimes to rash and horrible extremes. They take it all personally.

And as we learned in Harper Lee’s book To Kill a Mockingbird, even the trashiest, thieving, incestual white man has more standing in a community than a poor, hardworking black family man. True in Alabama during the Depression…and still true today.

Long ago, I found a message board of women. While it consumed way more of my time than is an acceptable amount, I learned things there. So many things…

I am just a girl from a small Oklahoma town, but I was able to ask questions of women from around the world. Sometimes, as conversations do, it got downright bloody. Not everyone was American, Christian, a rural dweller, white, heterosexual or female, to be fair. We didn’t all agree ALWAYS. The one thing we all agreed upon was the Golden Rule. No matter our religion, spirituality or lack thereof. What’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing.

To circle around, I learned so much about culture there. I had no idea how sexualized young Latina and black girls are. From strangers on the street to their family, they were ogled. Endured catcalls as preteens. From EVERY race of man…some of these women had this experience from the time they were pre-pubescent.

One of the biggest takeaways of my online group is that the USA is not the center of the universe. As a whole, we are NOT as educated as well. We have a horrible health care system. We have no paid maternity leave. Canada gets a year…yes, a year. That’s while receiving a very high percentage of their pay. Additionally, they get another 6 months without pay if they want. And then step right back into the job they had before maternity leave. Basically, women are thrown to the wolves here compared to other industrialized countries…which is yet ANOTHER topic for another day.

One thing that was NOT tolerated on the website was…racism. It was mostly member-moderated, so it got addressed immediately.

And being a wife of a police officer, I was horrified to discover the lack of trust for law enforcement. It made me uncomfortable and I did what every wife does and tried to justify that my husband was “different.” That he wasn’t the officers they hated. But, turns out, they would have lumped him into the “bad apples” because they were unconvinced there were good police.

They were unconvinced because most of them had been dealing with racial inequality since the crib. Not for anything they personally had done. It was I who was the outlier, not them. It was definitely a hard pill to swallow and it caused me lots of hurt feelings, and sharp words said to me but in hindsight, it did me a favor.

I am a racist. I always have been. Ouch, that hurts. I probably will never NOT be to some degree. I could ignore it, deny it, live my best white life and continue insisting that not ALL white people are bad. Too bad it’s not convincing unless we do our best to change things for the better.

But, no, I will grow and learn and support where I can and be that person whose smile, cheer, kind words might be the only kind thing that happens. I will NEVER be perfect, but always learning.

The first post:

Hi,

My first post for my blog is actually something I wrote on Facebook.

It was one of the last large posts I will post, because on Facebook…it feels like shouting into the abyss…No one reads what you write.

Honestly, maybe nerds like me will read long posts…but most of the traffic will scroll on by.

With a blog, I hope to attract people who WILL read my entire posts. Agree? Disagree? Cool! Let’s talk! You won’t find obligatory memes here to replace conversation.

I may change my mind a thousand times.

First up: Something that makes me “the opposite of serene” is DISTRACTION.

Let’s face it, we live from one news cycle to the next. BUT-our job is to juggle all of the “firehose of falsehoods,” the righteous indignation of the companies changing the names of products, “How can he be innocent if he has a record.”

Bleh. Here’s my post from very recently.

Distraction. Every single time we have something as asinine as the George Floyd murder, for a day or two people want to know what he did to deserve it.

Oh, there’s video.

Yeah, that looks pretty bad.

Yep take those officers off the street.

Protests that turn into looting.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Damn looters now they don’t deserve anything bc they are just animals.

Well George had a criminal history.

What about cops that aren’t like Derek Chauvin? He was just a bad apple.

Other incidences of police brutality occur. Then come the memes om absolute favor of police. Please light a candle.

NO ONE has said their job isnt hard, but they can take some constructive criticism.

Tshirts.

Response tshirts. More distraction.

People whining that bc statues don’t stand in public squares that we will forget our racist past. Racist victims knowing that is very unlikely.

We have books. Video tape. Eyewitnesses. Victims.

Then we get to the absurd. Fighting over damn cartoons. Who really gives a single shit about cartoon characters having guns?

Oh, yes, then we can forget about the officer who held his KNEE in George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds while he was handcuffed on his stomach in the street. Executed, no less.

But distract, distract distract.

White people are uncomfortable right now and don’t WANT to revisit our racist past on anyone else’s terms.

Because it is unsightly. Some argue it was necessary…They were just animals…we have to keep them in LINE, I hear…maybe in so many words…

We want to distract by posting constantly about things that have absolutely nothing to do with a man who died begging for his momma at the hands of a white man who was an authority figure who could have made a different decision and George Floyd would still be alive.


My blog will approach and digest both the comfortable and the uncomfortable things like reviews of good books, spirituality, family dynamics, racism, police brutality, mental illness, disabilities, feminism, politics, education, parenthood, grandparenthood… whatever is on my mind.
It will at times be serious, angry, sarcastic, funny, heartwarming, uplifting and blunt, honest and from my heart and soul.

I can promise my posts will get better. I have lots to say about…everything.

Ok, I will let you contact me if you wish. I have always been a little pissy about constructive criticism myself(haha, touche) so be gentle and firm!