Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

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Heat, Humidity, and Writing

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Folks, I’m still alive. Covid-19 hasn’t gotten me yet, and I hope it never will.

But the heat and humidity here in Southeastern Wisconsin have been brutal for about a week. We also haven’t had the world’s best air quality. And the two things have slowed me something fierce when it comes to writing, though I have managed a little progress here and there despite it all.

I’ve found that high heat, plus humidity, seems to be more difficult to manage than the bitter cold in the winter. I don’t know exactly why this is. It’s not that I enjoy cold so much; far from it. But at least when you go indoors, you can get a respite from the cold and a hot shower will do some major good.

I don’t have air conditioning, so dealing with the heat and humidity is definitely a challenge. It does sap my strength. I am an asthmatic, as I’ve said before, and that means I have to be hyper-vigilant…or at least make my best effort at being prudent. I get annoyed at having to be so “safe,” mind you, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Staying safe is essential, of course, no matter if it’s the heat, humidity, Covid-19, the bubonic plague, or trying to stay away from murder hornets. (I think we all should be able to get behind that. Who wants to get stung by a murder hornet? I don’t even think another murder hornet would, but that’s another story…ahem.)

Still, I’ll move forward, slowly, and keep a positive thought. It beats doing anything else by a mile. And that way, I may accomplish something.

What’s going on in your life? How are you handling the heat and humidity on your end, or if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, how are you handling the winter? Tell me about it in the comments!

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 18, 2020 at 11:20 pm

Posted in in general, Writing

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Compartmentalization Vs. Alienation

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I’m worried about the state of the world. I truly am.

As I write tonight, there are many cities in the United States that have protests — some peaceful, but most not — over the senseless killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. That now-former officer knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for six minutes, and the other three police officers around him did nothing. Mr. Floyd was black; the now-ex officer was white. It was a non-violent crime that Mr. Floyd was alleged to have committed — he may have passed a counterfeit $20 bill — and he was not resisting arrest in any way.

We have every right to be angry over this. It was reprehensible behavior by the now-ex officer. (I will not name him, as per my long-held beliefs that bad actors should not be named.) Mr. Floyd should not be dead.

But watching the protests is deeply disconcerting. People are rioting, and often burning their own neighborhood businesses; that only hurts themselves down the line, along with the innocent business owners. People are letting their anger, their justifiable rage, spill over to the point it almost seems as if the world is on fire.

And that doesn’t even go into half of what’s going on in the world, as Covid-19 is still rampant. In the U.S., we have had over 100,000 deaths, as I’ve said before. In three months! And many people who’ve been changed for the worse for life, who will live with lifelong health ailments…the hospitals in this area continue to be overloaded, the medical professionals are stressed to the max, and everyone’s on edge.

I think these two things are part of why cities are burning tonight. People are alienated, and people are scared. They don’t know what to do. They don’t think anyone cares. They don’t think anyone is listening. And they wonder what in the Hell the point is.

I get it. And I am worried.

“But Barb,” you ask. “You said something about compartmentalization in your blog title. What the Hell is that about?”

Well, I don’t know about you, but I still have to get my day-to-day stuff done despite the background of chaos that seems to be everywhere. That I can’t shut out. That I wish I could help, but for the most part can’t do anything about other than be as upset as everyone else (but hopefully in a more constructive way than burning everything to the ground).

The only way I can get stuff done — whether it’s writing, editing, or anything else — is to compartmentalize my brain. To say, “OK, I’m going to do whatever I can do right now on this one, small thing. I am going to keep trying, and keep my head up, and do positive things, even if they don’t matter to anyone but me.”

I think this is all I, or anyone else, can do right now.

But yes. I remain deeply concerned. And I wish I knew what else to do, as the world — or at least the United States — continues to burn.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 30, 2020 at 8:32 pm

Getting On With Getting

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I figured I’d check in with y’all to let you know I’m still alive. (Thus the “getting on with getting” title, above.)**

Now, what have I been doing? Mostly, other than avoiding Covid-19 and staying as cool as possible (as we’ve been dealing with a heat wave, and I have no air conditioning at all), I’ve been able to write a little fiction and I’ve of course been editing (as per usual). I’ve also been taking care of family responsibilities, and petting Mom’s surviving dog Ms. Brat as needed. (Hey, a dog named Ms. Brat needs as much care as possible, if to avoid getting any brattier. Not that she’s all that bratty. But it’s her name ’cause she answers to it; we did try several others, but that was the one she liked. Go figure.)

I’ve also tried to help a few friends here and there, too. Because I got help when I needed it the worst, and I want to pay it forward if at all possible.

At any rate, I hope you’re a) staying safe, b) staying cool (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere) and c) enjoying life as much as possible.

After all, Covid-19 can’t last forever. (Can it?)

Let me know how you’re doing in the comments. OK?

————

Edited to add: I realized I had left out half of what I’d wanted to talk about, and I’m sorry.

The United States hit 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus yesterday. 100,000. And that’s a terrible milestone.

Worse yet, I didn’t see anything from our President regarding it. Just nothing at all. Crickets, radio silence…call it whatever you want, but ignoring such a thing is unPresidential (to put it mildly). The President is supposed to be the consoler-in-chief along with everything else, and that isn’t happening at all.

When we’re having to take our cues from Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden, a former Vice President, because Biden’s the only one willing to talk about these poor people who’ve died, well…the mind reels.

My attention is split between the coronavirus and trying to get anything done. And because I was happy I actually have been able to get stuff done despite it all, I wanted to write this post.

But I didn’t want to forget about the 100,000 people who’ve died. And I didn’t want anyone to think that I ever would forget about them, either…because these were real people with real lives, and Covid-19 has ended it all for them.

Somehow, some way, we must eradicate Covid-19 from this Earth.
And remember the fallen, as long as we possibly can. (This is a war we must win.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 28, 2020 at 12:57 am

Posted in Writing

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Introducing “A Stolen Heart” by Kayelle Allen

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Folks, I’m always glad to talk about my friend and fellow author Kayelle Allen. I’ve edited at least six of her books (maybe more; I’ve lost count), and I’m always happy to work on them because they’re well-detailed, well-organized, and a lot of fun.

But A STOLEN HEART, which is all of the above, is even more than that. It’s about optimism, in the face of great loss. It’s about the blessings of family, even when you don’t think you deserve it. It’s about personal growth, and self-sacrifice, and finding your own way in the world…most of all, it’s about figuring out how to love yourself, warts and all, even when you’ve done something so horrible you have nightmares about it many years after the fact.

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Kayelle’s hero in A STOLEN HEART is the enigmatic Luc Saint-Cyr, a nearly immortal man from a race of genetically engineered humans called Ultras. Luc, thousands of years ago and under another name, was sent while he’d been a soldier to kill, and he’d done just that. But when he found out that the people he’d killed this time were children, he was so appalled he confronted his superiors. They told him to basically “stop being a wussy” (not in so many words), and that he’d been engineered to kill, thank you, so why was he complaining about killing children? What’s the big deal?

Luc wasn’t having any of it, and for many years — and lives — he’s tried to atone for that. (It’s not that he won’t kill if he has to; it’s that he will not kill innocents ever again.) He’s believed that he is unworthy of love. And he’s become almost ossified in his beliefs to the point that even when he takes lovers, he gets physical relief from it but no more — and expects nothing more, either, because who could love him, pariah though he is?

And because Luc’s past comes with a very attractive ex-boyfriend who’s also immortal, well…let’s just say that adds some complexity to the mix. (Remember what I said about Luc not feeling lovable? That definitely hasn’t killed off his sex drive. Though there really isn’t any sex in this book, just attraction…ahem.)

ab-ash-bnr-pietas-pi-chart

Anyway, Luc’s now a financier and merchant. He’s also one of the heads of the Thieves Guild, which is a quasi-legal enterprise in the galactic empire he lives in. But he still thinks of himself as a pariah, and while others (including his ex) see him as calm, cool, and collected, he knows his life is empty.

Because he is more or less immortal (Ultras can be killed, but it takes a Hell of a lot of doing), he has borne this shame for many years. But into his life comes a young half-human boy, Senthys Antonello (called Senth by everyone but Luc; Luc insists that “nicknames lack dignity”). Senth is only three when Luc runs across him running from a nasty teacher in the Thieves Guild; unbeknownst to Luc, the rules have recently changed and now young children (providing they are not fully human) can be sold as slaves. This disgusts Luc, and so he determines to do something about it…but first, he takes Senth home with him as a foster child.

And this changes his life for the better in so many ways, it’s almost incalculable.

Because I don’t want to spoil the read, I’ll stop there with the plot summary. But I do hope you’ll read what Kayelle has written, as I found it both enlightening and pertinent. Yes, Luc’s very long-lived, yes, he has an immortal ex, but inside he’s just like the rest of us. And until he meets Senth, he has no idea what the love of family actually is. Much less the type of love known as agape,  which is selfless by nature.

In previous books (including one about Senth as an adult), Luc was shown to be almost sinister at times. But A STOLEN HEART shows Luc to be like anyone else: he wants to be loved for who he is, doesn’t necessarily he believes he deserves it (in fact, he often doesn’t think he deserves it at all), and is trying to find his way despite many life challenges he didn’t make. And while he may have been created to kill, initially, that isn’t what he is now — or at least, that isn’t all he is.

That’s why I was so pleased to work with Kayelle as her editor for A STOLEN HEART, and it’s why I wholeheartedly recommend this book to you now.

——

BTW, here’s the blurb Kayelle wrote for Amazon, in case you need any more:

When he rescues a half-human orphan, a glorified space pirate turned entrepreneur sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to topple the powerful Thieves’ Guild he once led.

Multiple layers of conspiracy unfold, reaching all the way to Luc’s immortal ex–the king. Behind each solved mystery looms an unseen foe, undoing the good Luc accomplishes. For the sake of this child, Luc must postpone his own freedom and master his desire for revenge or he will violate an ancient vow. Worse, he’ll put the toddler at risk.

At war with his compassion for the vulnerable child, loyalty to the king, duty to the Guild, and the bright lure of freedom he’s coveted for centuries, Luc seeks the right path. Will he choose liberty and unparalleled success, or restore the Thieves’ Guild to its former glory while overseeing the child’s training?

A hard choice for any man.

For an immortal whose inner monster can destroy on sight? Impossible.

A pirate with a monstrous past can never be trusted with an innocent child. Luc must ensure the child is protected, safe, nowhere near danger. Nowhere near him. Even if this little boy has already stolen his heart…

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 18, 2020 at 2:18 pm

Alleviating Stress During Covid-19 (and Beyond)

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Folks, as the Covid-19 pandemic rages on and on, and as the stay-at-home orders in Wisconsin continue (as they do in many places around the world), I thought I’d take a different tactic today.

To wit: What can we do to alleviate stress during this difficult and stressful time? And what may work to alleviate stress down the road, once we’ve finally done with the Covid-19 pandemic?

The main things I do to alleviate stress include reading (what a surprise, no?), writing music, listening to music, sometimes taking a drive (which is still allowed in Wisconsin even under the pandemic rules, providing you stay in your car), and doing word puzzles/word games. I also play some non-word-game related puzzles, and enjoy playing various video games (I’m quite partial to Crazy Cakes 2, a game at Pogo.com. I enjoyed the original Crazy Cakes; the updated version is just as good.)

Mind, I didn’t list “writing” in there — as in, writing words. That’s because lately it hasn’t been alleviating stress for me to write, as I haven’t felt very well in months. (I don’t think that’s much of a surprise, if you’ve been following along with my blog at all.) I still am able to get some words in, here and there, and I’m glad to do it; however, thinking about how I am not able to do as much writing as I want to do tends to give me stress rather than alleviate it.

When I get on a roll with writing, though, there’s nothing better at alleviating stress. Because I can get caught up in the story, and want to know what happens next (if only my pesky characters will tell me!), and it takes me out of my head and my worries for a while when that happens.

For the moment, though, the other things I listed above will have to serve instead. And for the most part, they are helping…though I wish I could write up a storm and truly advance on my various projects, as I think that would help me feel far, far better overall.

What is helping you during this time of crisis and travail? Let me know in the comments!

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 29, 2020 at 8:08 pm

Facing the Pressure of Illness

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Folks, I’ve been under the weather for quite a while now. But I think I’m recovering, albeit slowly.

Now, as to what this is? I don’t know. But I have to treat it as an ongoing illness, and work around it.

I am tired of being sick, but apparently sick isn’t tired of me; because of that, I have to do whatever I can to get past the illness.

Mind, I put a lot of pressure on myself when I’m sick. I want to be well, so badly, and yet it takes time to get better. I go back to work just as soon as I possibly can, and I almost certainly do too much too soon because I worry about all the stuff I wasn’t able to do while at my most ill.

In that way, I try to make strides forward. It can be difficult. And the additional pressure probably doesn’t do me any favors.

Today, I’ve managed to write 700 words of fiction, done a little editing (as I just finished up a major project, I have to take it slowly for a few days to gear up for the next major project’s completion as I have more than one in train), talked with the doctor’s office, talked with the medical supply company, and have gotten all my laundry together. After that, my plan is to do some food shopping, then my laundry, and perhaps edit more tonight providing I have any energy left after that.

In other words, I tend to have two speeds. Full throttle, or all-in. (And the last is not good, because if I’m “all-in,” that means I’m tired out of my mind and have nothing left to give, in case you’re not familiar with that Midwestern idiom.)

Still, I’m working at things, slowly. I’m doing what I can.

Now, onto other things, very briefly:

This ongoing pandemic is not fun by any means. I am worried about my friends, far and near. I am especially worried about estranged friends, people who won’t talk to me but I still care about; I can do nothing for any of them, but I still worry, and I still want to help. (It is a particular quirk of mine, I guess.)

I hope you will all stay as safe as you can.

And I’d wanted to write something bracing about the Nova Scotia shootings, but I still have no words. Everything seems hollow to say, and yet, those folks have to feel like no one cares about them whatsoever due to the ongoing coverage of Covid-19 and almost nothing else.

If you have a spare moment today, say a prayer, think good thoughts, send positive energy, or do whatever your particular spirituality or religion advises when trying to comfort distant friends and allies. And aim that squarely at Nova Scotia, if you can, or at least at the broader target of Canada. Those folks are hurting, scared, and need to know they haven’t been forgotten.

Finally, I hope we’ll all remember that we’re human. We have good in us, even though it doesn’t always show; we can help others, even when it doesn’t seem like it.

Try to do something to help someone else today, even if they don’t know it. The universe will thank you.

 

 

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 24, 2020 at 12:10 pm

Posted in Elfy, Elfyverse, Writing

Governor Evers Extends Wisconsin’s “Safer-at-home” Order, and I Have Questions…

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I apologize for the long, unwieldy title in advance…

Gov. Tony Evers (D-WI) has extended the Wisconsin “Safer-at-home” provisions until the day after Memorial Day, which is in very late May; they were set to expire on April 24, but we all knew it was likely it would be extended a few more weeks at minimum. However, no one expected that it would be extended until late May.

I, for the most part, support the Safer-at-home order. And I said so in an e-mail I just sent to Governor Evers. (Unfortunately the cut-and-paste I had planned so I could show you exactly what I sent went awry, so I’ll have to describe what I said instead.) I urged the Governor to carve out some exceptions for hair salons/barber shops, car washes (we have a very strange situation going on here in Racine County where if the car wash is attached to a gas station, it’s open even if it has human contact, but the car washes without any human contact and total automation are closed because they don’t have an attachment to a gas station), and emergency situations.

Now, what is an emergency situation? (You may be asking this.) I view it as this: you’ve lost something important to you, whether it’s your home, your vehicle, your stove has gone on the fritz and you can’t cook (or your microwave, or hot pot, or whatever you’re using). Or you have just been granted an emergency foster child, but that child is under three and you need a car seat you don’t have (but can’t buy in many counties in Wisconsin, as unless the store has food in it, it isn’t allowed to stay open under the safer-at-home provisions). Or you have lost weight (or perhaps gained it), and your clothes no longer fit or are so frayed you can’t wear them…but again, unless the store has any food in it, you can’t get any clothes to wear. (And I don’t know about you, but unless you can try on things, it’s hard to find something to fit properly. The only things I’ve managed to buy and wear well online are nightgowns. And a few Brewers t-shirts.)

So, I told Governor Evers that.

I also said that while I agree with him that people’s lives are far more important than any amount of money, extending the Safer-at-home order until the day after Memorial Day is too long. We’re about to go into the summer season. And there are folks like my father who have no air conditioning at all. (He doesn’t want any, either.) If you want relief from the heat, you usually have options such as going to the grocery store, going to the movie theatre, going to the Zoo and walking around by Lake Michigan…but right now, you’re supposed to limit your grocery trips to essentials only, the movie theatres are closed, and the Zoo is also closed. (So is the public library. So are most government buildings.)

I said that I would rather he had extended this for another few weeks and re-assessed in mid-May. If there were still Covid-19 hotspots then, I’d understand extending the order a bit more than I do now. But I would wait until then because no one knows what’s happening now, except that they’re scared and they’re broke.

Here’s what I’ll add, though, for folks who know me and have known me a long time (as I am going to assume you have, if you’ve read my blog; if not, you can catch up in the archives if you’d like.) I think people’s lives are far more important than money. And I do think we have to be wary and prudent right now with regards to Covid-19 because it’s a virus with no cure, no treatment, and no way to alleviate.

That said, people are going stir-crazy at home. We have flattened the curve to some degree already. And if it is flattened more in two weeks, I think a graduated restart of Wisconsin’s economy is in order; if it’s not, then maybe Gov. Evers is right and nothing will be done until Memorial Day anyway.

But I would like to know his rationale for this. Why did he pick that date? Why is it that other states Wisconsin is allied with, such as Ohio, have earlier “opening” dates as of this time? Why is it that New York state, which has the worst amount of cases in the nation, is going to try to re-open faster than we are here?

I didn’t say that in my letter to him, but I should’ve.

I do support that we have to stay home more than go out right now. But we also have to realize that businesses will close up shop if they don’t get help. And some of ’em, like beauty salons/barbers, can re-open with limitations (I said in my letter that if five people were getting their hair cut at a time and no more, that would work. That would limit the gathering to ten people or less. And you could maintain social distancing in the salons, too.) Getting a haircut gives you an emotional lift. We need that right now, too.

Rest assured that I did point that out to Gov. Evers.

And the thing with the car washes: Yeah, they’re not essential. But they do give you an emotional lift of sorts for not too much money. Cleaning the car in the late spring and early summertime — and remember, we are about to go into the hotter season, much though it doesn’t feel like it right now — is extremely helpful in many senses, too; it gets the last of the winter sand/salt off the car, which is good for the life of the car. And it helps you spend less money on car maintenance, which we all are going to need because we all are going to have a whole lot less money due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Anyway, if you, too, live in Wisconsin and want to contact Governor Evers, go to this page and make your comment. (Please be civil, as life is too short for incivility.)

And if you live in other states or countries, write to your public officials about whatever it is that makes no sense to you. Because that’s needed right now — public opinion is vital, especially if it’s reasonably stated.

That’s the only way we’re going to be able to figure out how to go forward with the least amount of stress and heartache.

Easter Musings: The Resurrection of Hope

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Folks, I woke up this morning — or afternoon, as the case may be (being the inveterate night owl that I’ve always been) — thinking about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This is not surprising. It is Easter, much though it doesn’t feel like it with a pandemic ravaging the world. And around Easter, we usually as a people talk about redemption, hope, faith, and of course the resurrection of Jesus.

But Jesus’s resurrection wasn’t just about being raised from the dead. It was about the hope that something good would come from Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross. It was also about the belief that three women had, mourning outside Jesus’s burial site, for three days. And it was about the astonishment they had, along with the embodiment of their hopes, when Jesus rose again on the third day.

Other ancient religions had talked about resurrection, too. But they hadn’t been so much about hope, it seems to me. And they certainly didn’t talk about the folks who were left behind quite so much as early Christianity did, and has to this day.

We need hope right now, as I’ve said before. But we also have to believe firmly in resurrection, too. Those of you who aren’t Christian (some days I don’t identify with it, other days I do; I’m more like G.K. Chesterton, who once said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”) can still appreciate the idea of resurrection in this sense, as explicated by the Cambridge English Dictionary: the act of bringing something that had disappeared or ended back into use or existence.

Right now, what we’ve viewed as the normal comings and goings of society has disappeared. Ended. And we’re mostly at home, wondering whether the virus known as Covid-19 will ever stop ravaging the Earth. Doctors and nurses and other medical personnel are struggling, as they’re the only ones who have the tools and training to help the rest of us deal with this. And as yet, there is no cure; there is no vaccine to temper the virus, either; there is no therapy; there is nothing.

It is a humbling thing, to know that you can’t stop Covid-19.

Yes, everything we’re doing right now — the vast majority of us in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, etc. — helps to mitigate the damage. Staying at home lessens the reach of the virus and allows the amount of people sickened at any one time to flatten out, so hospitals and clinics don’t get overwhelmed. (Or at least not as overwhelmed as they could be.)

Some of you are probably saying, “But Barb. That is not nothing. We are being proactive. We’re staying home, even though we hate it. And we’re doing everything we can to let this virus die out.” (New Zealand, in particular, has been particularly good at squashing this virus flat.)

That’s all true.

But it’s not enough. People are still dying. And the world outside is radically transformed. Economies have crashed, and will continue to do so, until some sort of medical mitigation occurs. Our way of living has suffered; our way of belief, that we can come together as people, and enjoy each other’s company, and lessen each other’s sorrows in person as well as online, has been shown to be, at best, incomplete.

My view is, today should be not just about Jesus Christ, though his life and teachings are well worthy of study.

I think today — the Easter of 2020 — we need to believe in the resurrection of hope. The resurrection that our society will someday get back to some semblance of what we’ve seen before: openness. Being able to give hugs to loved ones. Concerts. Ball games. Being able to go outside, in public, unmasked and without fear…being able to go anywhere you want, at any time you want, without being hassled (or at least being worried you might be), and without risking your life either. And our first responders — our medical personnel, police, fire, rescue, etc. — not to have to risk their lives every day in every way because they have no idea who’s carrying Covid-19, no idea who’s had it, and no idea whether or not their protection is good enough to keep them from getting it.

I think Jesus would appreciate us believing in all of these things, in addition to believing in Him today. (Or at least believing in what he showed us can be possible.)

And that is all I can say today, prayerfully, because I know it to be true.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 12, 2020 at 2:36 pm

Surreality, or, the Virus that Ate 2020

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Does anyone else feel like they went to bed one day, and woke up in a brand new — albeit distasteful in the extreme — world?

Whenever I drive anywhere for a necessary reason, the land itself looks shrunken, somehow. There are fewer cars. Many fewer people. And even the warmth of the sun (when we see it or can feel it) seems far less than it should be.

I term all of this “surreality.” A contraction of “surreal” and “reality,” surreality is our new normal.

We’re told to stay inside now, because of the virulence of the coronavirus/covid 19. It’s the only way to “flatten the curve” (that is, to make it easier for hospitals and medical personnel to handle this, so we don’t all go at once and overload the system). And most of the places we’d go if we could aren’t open, from the library to most restaurants (though some do have drive-thru or curbside services). Even churches are not exempt, because while we need spiritual solace now as much as we ever have, the coronavirus does not respect the sanctity of the church.

(To put it mildly.)

Even voting is harder than it should be, and I know this because I’m about to go cast my ballot in Wisconsin’s April 7th primary election. I know with my asthma and other health challenges that I do not want to be going out to vote the day of, so I’d better do it today or it won’t get done.

You may be wondering about voting absentee (that is, not in person as an early voter). Where I live, the system is overloaded. I do not trust that I’d get my ballot on time, or at all, unless I actually go in there.

The whole thing is surreal. (Thus, surreality.) The whole world seems to have gone crazy. And the only way we have to deal with this new type of coronavirus (covid-19) is to do what our ancestors would’ve done and stay home.

The more things change, the more they stay the same (as the French say).

Anyway, how has reality shifted or contracted or changed for you? Let me know in the comments. (And is it as surreal for you as it is for me?)

———-

BTW, if you want to further support what I’m doing, please check out my Patreon account. (I’m not going to ask often; in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever asked before at all. But I will today; humor me, will you?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 3, 2020 at 2:20 pm

Homebound Ramblings

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Today, I just wanted to write here so you’d know two things about me that are still relevant to the discussion:

1) I’m alive.

2) I’m keeping as busy as I can. I’m writing music. I’m doing some editing. And I have some ideas for stories about Bruno and Sarah, but they need to get out of the gestation stage so I can write ’em down. (Still, I’m thinking and I’m whipping up plots. It’s not all bad.)

Now, the reason for doing this is, of course, Covid-19. It is rampaging its way through Wisconsin, and the numbers we have are far lower than the actual ones because of the difficulty in getting tests.

So, I stay home and do all of the above I mentioned in #2.

What’s strangest of all about my experiences thus far with Wisconsin’s shelter-in-place order (excepting the above reasons) is how dislocated I feel from everything. It’s the end of March. Baseball season would normally be underway, but because of Covid-19, it’s not. When I drive anywhere, the roads are much less crowded than usual, which is both a blessing and a curse; when I go into any place besides the grocery store, the sense of quietude is almost overwhelming.

Of course, I’ve been abiding by the Wisconsin shelter-in-place order as much as I possibly can. I have gone out to shop, to see my mother (I shop for her, too), to go to the doctor, to visit the lake (I see that as an almost spiritual exercise), and I’ve done a little walking here and there, too. I’ve also visited a friend, sitting six feet away from her, and chatted; this has helped me feel a bit better, even though maybe it’s not as strict of a social distancing as some would wish. (I have limited myself to just this, though. Everything else, and I do mean everything, has been done over the phone or the computer.)

All of this feels wrong, though. It sounds wrong, too. It’s like I went to bed one night, and woke up in another universe. It’s one I hardly know, and can barely understand.

And I can’t stand it.

I didn’t expect to feel this way. I am an introvert. (Granted, I’m an introvert who enjoys people and likes to talk to them, one-on-one.) The jobs I do in music and writing and editing are ones you have to be solitary-minded to appreciate. (Or, in the case of playing in a band with others, you have to be able to fit in with how the rest of the group is playing the music or your own music won’t make any sense.) And I’m used to being at home, because I work from home.

Still. I do not like being cooped up in the house. It is very frustrating to not have the opportunities to go out and do things, even though at this particularly stressful time I realize social distancing and flattening the curve means I need to stay home as much as possible.

I realize that if you’re a parent of young children, you’ve got it way worse than I do. (Most especially if they were in a traditional school, but now have to be de facto homeschooled for the rest of the semester with only the teacher’s guiding prompts.) And I have great sympathy for you, as I do for anyone who is frustrated with the Covid-19 pandemic and wonders when, if ever, it will end.

As I’ve said before, I think we all need to do whatever we can to help others. But I also think we need, somehow, to keep our spirits as high as possible. Read books that make us think, or laugh, or better yet, both; watch movies and shows that enlighten us, entertain us, or at least amuse us; listen to music that makes us think, makes us feel, makes us care, and makes us understand that we’re all human and we’ll all get through this.

That said, I wish I could do more. Say more. Be more. Listen more. Help more. And again, do more…because people are hurting right now, and I hate it that I can’t fix what is broken. (Only the epidemiologists, scientists, and other medical personnel can do that right now.)

But I’m here to listen. And if you want to talk, chime in and let me know…the floor is open. (Or at least, the blog’s comment section is.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 30, 2020 at 4:31 am