The Pandemic and the American Emotional Response

 

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Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

We’re in the seventh month of the pandemic in the U.S. When I talk to friends, family, and strangers, I hear them speak of a range of emotions. Depression, anxiety, despair, rage, overwhelming sadness, grief. It’s hard to sort it all out. I feel all those emotions myself combined with a few more. Panic, desperation, claustrophobia, and even happiness. What we feel is a reaction to the unknown and it manifests in each person differently.

The situation we face, at least in the United States, is one we’ve never faced before. To one degree or another, what sums up all of those emotions is fear. We’re afraid. We fear we’ll get sick and that our loved ones and friends will get sick. Even those people who deny that COVID19 exists, and there are many of them, feel fear. They fear that their lifestyles have been taken away from them and they don’t know if it’s permanent or not. It’s quite likely that all of us have both fears. The fear of illness and the fear that nothing will ever be the same.

At the first of the pandemic, many Americans were in shock. Those that were most prepared for the situation we faced were The Greatest Generation. They are the ones who lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and so much more. Very few are alive who lived through the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1917 and 1918. To our dismay, The Greatest Generation is rapidly disappearing. They could teach us so much if we would listen.

Imagine the unknowns The Greatest Generation faced. During the Great Depression, some literally did not know where their next meal was coming from or if they could continue to provide shelter for their families. Then came World War II. Most able-bodied men between the ages of 18-35 were sent off to war or enlisted voluntarily. If you were an enlisted man in combat,  you had no idea if you’d ever go home again, ever see your family, or even live through the day. If you were a woman who had not enlisted, you were home without the 24/7 news cycle that we have today. You had the radio and sketchy, spotty news reports. You sat by the radio and listened to the American President, FDR, whenever he came on to give a report. Most of the time you didn’t know if your husband, brother, son, father and many of members of your family were alive or dead. We think we are scared due to the pandemic or feel any of the other common emotions right now? Imagine how they felt.

During the first part of the pandemic, despite our shock, we had to get ready to isolate ourselves. That involved stocking up on food, supplies, medicine. There were runs on grocery stores that caused fear and anxiety since we didn’t know if we would be able to get what we need. Since I have a co-morbidity, I have been at home since February with very few exceptions. I haven’t seen anyone in my family during this time and I’ve only seen a friend once or twice. There are a lot of people out there just like me.

I feel everything every other American feels. I’m angry that the coronavirus was allowed to get out of hand in our country and blame the lack of leadership at the top for that happening. I carry a high level of anxiety most days, I worry if I get out, I’ll get sick even though I wear a face covering and take all the recommended precautions. I miss my friends and family. If I allow myself to think too much about the pandemic, I feel panic and despair. I listen to the statistics every day about the deaths this virus has caused, and I feel grief and overwhelming sadness for those families. I feel claustrophobic daily even though I’m luckier than so many people and have a house and yard in which to move around.

Mostly, when I think about it, all of these emotions culminate in fear. Fear of the unknown. I wonder what life will be like after the pandemic. I even wonder if there will be an “after.” The virus could be here to stay. A vaccine will only be moderately effective.   Will Americans ever have the freedom we once had and probably did not appreciate? The virus deniers are determined to live their lives anyway and there is something I admire about that while fearing their lives will be cut short.

Perhaps, besides fear, my primary emotion is gratitude for what I have. I still have a job while many don’t. I’m with my husband here in our home and we try to take care of each other. So far, we’ve been able to get the food and medicine we need. The pandemic makes us look at the very basics of life.

I still have hope for the future although it isn’t as shiny as it once was. The pandemic has devastated not only the American economy but also the American society. Will we ever get back to being the “shining city on the hill?” No one can answer that question right now.

Appalachia and Comfort Food: Tonic for the Soul

I guess, when life gets too much for us, we go back to our roots. My roots lie in two very diverse places, but one of my feet stands in the Appalachian region of Eastern Kentucky. I think that the cooking, when I was growing up, was perhaps the best in the world! Even now, when I’m way past all grown up, I want to eat what my mother cooked, and what her mother cooked. My comfort food comes straight from Appalachia with only a few exceptions.

I still seek out roadside vegetable markets that crop up in the summer all around where I live. I now live on the fringes on Appalachia and, just about every week in the summer, I’ll take a drive 50 miles south in search of homegrown vegetables. I did that on Saturday and have a refrigerator stocked full of wonderful vegetables grown in the region.

Today was a very stressful day for both my husband and myself. About mid-afternoon, all I could think about was cooking some of those vegetables the old-fashioned, Appalachian way. I knew that eating what I grew up on would be a tonic for my soul. During this pandemic and the uproar in our country, I think we’re all looking for a little tonic.

I started to cook dinner and grabbed the green beans. I wanted green beans and cornbread. I’ve already given you my recipes in another blog post, so I’ll skip that. I put the green beans on to cook after spending two hours stringing them. I made the cornbread, with buttermilk, and put it in the oven. While the cornbread baked, I sliced fresh tomatoes, small cucumbers, and a cantaloupe for dessert. I took the cornbread out to cool and waited on the green beans. I don’t cook my beans with meat anymore, my one nod to health. I slice up a sweet onion and season them with onion, salt, and pepper. Delicious!

Dinner was wonderful and I was much calmer and less anxious after eating my comfort food. What’s your comfort food? Try it during the pandemic. Maybe it will be tonic for your soul too.

Protect Your Voting Rights!

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Americans today have an issue with maintaining their right to have free and fair elections. There are issues about voter suppression; specifically, the defunding of the postal service and voting by mail. There is also evidence that Russia is, once again, trying to manipulate our 2020 Presidential election.

In the 2016 Presidential elections, it is known that Vladimir Putin of Russia and his intelligence agency tried to manipulate the election and succeeded, at least to some extent. The Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Marco Rubio (R-FL), knows that Putin is trying to do it again in the 2020 Presidential election. Putin is, and always has been, in favor of bringing down American democracy.

Russian interference is affecting your voting rights.

Several states have had 100% voting by mail for a number of years. Those states are Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. There has been less than 1/2% fraud. Despite that, Trump is against the vote by mail option, even though many people prefer to vote by mail this year due to the spread of COVID19. In the face of the facts that there has been virtually no fraud in the elections of those five states, he insists there is fraud. Then recently, he allowed the state of Florida to vote by mail. But no other state! Why, if he believes, fraud is likely? Trump is trying to suppress the vote because he knows that fewer voters are always better for Republican’s running for office than more voters.

Voter suppression through the vote by mail option is affecting your voting rights.

The U.S. Postal Service has been operating on a shoestring. Trump is trying to defund the postal service by installing one of his cronies as Postmaster General. The new Postmaster General fired the top personnel and any overtime work has stopped. Postal workers have been encouraged to leave mail undelivered and work shorter hours. Trump’s goal is to make sure that the Postal Service can’t handle the load of mail-in ballots which is another voter suppression tactic.

Voter suppression by defunding the United States Postal Service is affecting your voting rights.

Trump does nothing to stop Putin’s antics regarding our votes. He is actively trying to suppress our votes by defunding the Postal Service and trying to stop vote by mail.

Is this a man who should be President of the United States? Americans need to take back their right to vote.

Teach……and…….Light

Teach and Light. I’m choosing to write about both of these Discover Prompts together because in the mind of this college professor, the two are inextricably linked. Since I’m an introvert, I didn’t really choose teaching as a career. It chose me. I ended up, almost by accident, in a PhD program after completing my Masters degree in Business Administration. I intended to go into industry to use my MBA. Friends of mine were pursuing their PhD’s and….shall we say….they talked me into it. I thought I would use it to do research, perhaps for the government or a private think tank. This is the beginning of the story.

When entering the doctoral program, there were teaching and research assistantships available to my class of students. I applied for both, but there weren’t many research assistantships available. I was awarded a teaching assistantship. I had never wanted to teach! Since I was at a major university, I was being thrown into the deep end.

School started that fall. The coursework for a PhD student was very challenging. On top of that, I was assigned two undergraduate finance classes to teach. 60 students in each. I don’t remember ever being so nervous. I got through those first weeks of classes. Gradually, I began to enjoy it. My doctoral coursework consumed me at the same time. I loved what I was doing. Teaching, learning, making the best friends of my life. I’ve never worked so hard in my life, yet my life had never before, and has never since, been so rewarding.

As I relaxed in front of the classroom and started really focusing on my students, something occurred to me. When I would do a good job explaining a concept to them, I would see their eyes light up as they “got it.” That became my goal as a professor. To get my student’s eyes to light up.

As I moved through a 27-year university teaching career, some days were good and some bad. But even on the worst day, what keep me going was that light in my students’ eyes. Now retired from teaching, that’s what I miss. I believe that light is what new teachers and professors should strive for.

Day 7 – Below

I don’t really want to talk about “going below.” Allow me to tell you why. At this point in my life and in the history of the United States of America, when I think about “going below,” I think about the current U.S. government. Currently, on April 8, 2020, the citizens of the U.S. are virtual prisoners in their homes. Yes, I know that the COVID19 virus has done the same thing to most other countries of the world as well. Allow me to explain.

We have an incompetent idiot as the President of the United States. I can say that because we also have a Constitution with a First Amendment that guarantees us freedom of speech. At least, last time I looked, we still had a constitution. If Donald Trump had his way, we would not.

When this man was narrowly elected three and one-half years ago, I said then that he would destroy us and he almost has. He has shamed the Office of President over and over again. He has sucked up to the dictators of the world and shunned our allies. He has destroyed the environmental protections that have been so important in the U.S. because his predecessor put them into place and he is trying to undo everything President Obama did. He has done so much more that is beyond the scope of this post. He must be defeated in November 2020.

For the purposes of this post, he has massively mishandled the COVID19 disaster. Did other viruses make prisoners of us in our homes? Ebola? SARS? MERS? I could go on. No, they did not because we had a competent government then. Donald Trump is far more interested in lining his pockets and doing anything it takes to win re-election than doing what is best for the U.S. He ignored COVID19 back in 2019 when it was first discovered. He kept letting possibly infected individuals into the country. He kept right on trying to win the favor of the President of China through negotiating trade deals…..or trying to. China is a communist country and they will never, and I repeat NEVER, have the welfare of the United States in mind. One only has to look at history to know that. If you don’t consider history, you are doomed to repeat it.

We have lost over 10,000 people and will lose many more. We currently lead the world in people carrying this infection. We have to practice “social distancing” in order to protect ourselves and others. China is the country where you have to wear a mask to walk down the street, not the U.S. Or not until now. Now we do. Like Communist China and because of Donald Trump and his incompetence. We have lost one-fourth, at least, of our economy which is sending his into a deep recession and possibly a depression. Trump just keeps spending money inflating a massive deficit. Inflation will come next. Unemployment may reach 32%, unheard of since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

If this man is re-elected, we are doomed. Voting for him would truly be “going below.”

Hidden – #writephoto

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I wish I could have spent the last ten days hidden among the wild things along the bank of the stream behind my home. Having been confronted by a terrible tragedy that can happen to any of us as we make our way out in the world, it’s made me wish for the greenery of summer to hide me away and the babble of the brook to keep my ears from hearing.

A severely impaired child and a grown-up young man lost their mother ten days ago. A man lost his wife and almost lost his own life. That little girl almost lost her father as well. A family lost a daughter and a sister. The world lost a beautiful woman. A community lost a friend and a participant. My street lost a neighbor and I lost one of my next-door neighbors.

We lost her to a traffic accident. A severe one and something that could happen to any of us. It was violent and her death was instant. In the blink of an eye, so many lives were affected and her life was snuffed out forever. We don’t realize how our lives affect so many others.

It’s made me do some real thinking about the fragility of life and how we take our lives for granted. We waste time, days, even hours and minutes, that we shouldn’t waste. My neighbor walked out her door never dreaming she would never be back. I’m sure much was left undone. Things she wished she’d said and done. She didn’t know time was coming to an end for her. Most of us don’t. Many of us procrastinate doing the important things. Telling people we love them. Making arrangements for people we care for. Spending more time with our friends and family.

There are things in life which you wish you could unsee and unhear. I wish I could unhear the news about my neighbor. I wish I could unsee the look in her husband’s eyes when I saw him today. Still in shock but with pain deep inside. So many people’s lives will never be the same.

As for me, these are the first words I’ve written since I heard the news. My fingers and my mind have been frozen. I think of the poem called “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry and wish I could be at that babbling brook behind my house and that I could unhear the terrible news about my neighbor.

I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief… For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— “The Peace of Wild Things, by Wendell Berry

#weekendcoffeeshare – 11/3/2018

Good morning, everyone! Thank you for joining me for our #weekendcoffeeshare this week! It’s cold outside today. I hope you can make your way through all the fallen leaves on the ground. You can see a picture of our fall color above. Those trees are in my backyard! We measure leaves in the fall here by the foot! Please come in and fix yourself the hot beverage of your choice. I have several kinds of coffee and tea, so pick your pleasure!

I haven’t had a #weekendcoffeeshare for a couple of weeks and I apologize. It’s been a very busy time at my house. I try to find four or five hours to write every day, which is sometimes difficult, and then the rest of the day is taken up by a million little (and sometimes big) things. The most important thing is always my writing, but sometimes, the most pressing thing is Tucker, my eight month old Cardigan Welsh Corgi.

Oh, Tucker! That boy not only requires, but demands a great deal of time. He looks like a grown dog, but he’s still a baby with a puppy brain. When I look at how big he is and how much he looks like an adult male, it’s hard to remember. Tucker is now 35 pounds which is very close to the size he should be at maturity. Cardigans don’t mature until they are two or even three years old so I shudder to think of his size at maturity! 🙂 He’s very sweet, but he requires a lot of training. You can see a picture of Tucker, my yard long dog, above!

Now, down to business! I am still working on characterizations and settings for my novella that may actually become a novel. I have no way to know at this point. Novellas are usually around 40,000 words. Above about 60,000 words and you are approaching the word count of a novel. Since the public’s attention span seems to be getting shorter all the time, the word count of novels is getting lower. So I don’t know what I’ll have when I’m finished!

One interesting setting I’m developing is New York City, circa 1943. I need to develop two settings, one in Brooklyn where I’ve never been and one in the middle of Manhattan, where I have been but obviously not in 1943! Manhattan is surely proving to be the easier of the two. I’m having to do a deep dive into research to find much about Brooklyn in the middle of World War II. This is a novella (novel?) full of different settings so I’ll gradually mention a lot of them! Both my protagonist and antagonist are traveling around a lot.

Traveling is another issue I’m having to deal with. Travel in 1943 and today are completely different. My antagonist has travel provided. My protagonist does not. I’ll talk more about this next week.

Feel free to stay and finish your beverage. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll hope to see you next week!

 

Thanks to eclecticali

 

 

 

#weekendcoffeeshare -10/13/2018

Good morning, everyone! The picture posted above of the ocean is in memory of the Hurricane Michael victims.

So glad you could join me here at my home and have coffee with me this morning! I have set up a coffee and tea bar in my kitchen for your drinking pleasure. I wish we could have coffee on my deck, but fall has come to #Kentucky and it’s too cold. So grab whatever beverage you want and let’s go to my writing studio!

Kentucky was still hot and in the midst of full on summer until about four days ago. That’s pretty unusual for this time in October. Then, four days ago, the season suddenly changed, cool weather arrived, and fall is here. I’m glad! It was the most humid summer in Kentucky that I can ever remember. The cool weather is so refreshing!

If we were having coffee, I would ask each of you how your writing is coming along? I also hope just the general course of your life is going wonderfully. The world, at least in the U.S., seems to be an increasingly difficult place in which to live. I hope it’s being kind to you.

A few weeks ago, I promised one of you who was reading my #weekendcoffeeshare, that I would talk a little about my use of Scrivener in writing my novella, so I’d like to fulfill that promise.

For those of you who don’t know, Scrivener is a very powerful writer’s software program. It is very detailed and complex, but you don’t have to use all the functions. You can, of course, write your entire manuscript on Scrivener which I will try in the future. Since I’m not familiar with it or wasn’t until this past week, I’m going to write my manuscript for my novella on Word, but use some of the functions of Scrivener for specific things.

I mentioned last week that I’m developing the setting for my novella. Scrivener has a cool way for developing your setting. You can develop multiple settings and insert them into your manuscript when they are needed. I’m using the setting function because my novella does indeed have multiple settings. Since I’m writing historical fiction, I have to research each setting and Scrivener is a good way to summarize each setting and save all my notes. Then, as I write the manuscript using Word, I can refer to those notes in Scrivener.l

When I get bored with developing the various settings, I switch over to developing my characters. Scrivener also has a very nice interface for character development. You can develop characters with deep attributes and have your notes at your fingertips. In historical fiction, I have to find out the way each character would have spoken, the clothes they would have worn, how they would have reacted to current world events of the time, and much more. I can keep those notes on Scrivener and refer to them as needed as I’m developing my characters. I can develop each character on Scrivener, with prompts, and accomplish, I think, more complete character development.

In checking out the Scrivener software program, I found that if you type your manuscript in Scrivener, there is a function that converts it to Word. I also found that Scrivener will put your manuscript in the format necessary to self-publish on Kindle publishing. I will report more on Scrivener as I use it more. I’d love to hear what each of you think of this program?

On a personal note, I’m home on top of my mountain this fall. The leaves have not really started to turn yet so it is a very late fall. It will be beautiful here when they do. My plans for the fall and winter is to write and finish this novella. It will be a race to get it done, but this is my goal. I try to write 4-6 hours per day. My puppy, Tucker, usually has something to say about that, but he’s starting to get better. He’s 7.5 months old now. I just realized that I don’t have a current picture of him, but I’ll post one the next time I write a #weekendcoffeeshare. I’m going to try to write the occasional blog post just to change things up for me.

I’d love to hear your stories. How is everything with you and what are you doing this fall?

Thanks to Eclecticali

Brett Kavanaugh: Men – It’s Not About You

Judge Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as the newest Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States this weekend. After Dr. Christine Ford’s testimony and Judge Kavanaugh’s follow-up testimony, I’m disgusted for many reasons. One of the reasons is that men seem to be making this issue all about them. It’s not. It’s about the victimization of women since the beginning of time.

Don’t you think we know that there are good men in the world? In fact, most men are good men. Someone, however, is attacking one out of every three women, aren’t they? But that is not the issue and if you think it is, you don’t understand the problem at all. First, the issue is that the justices on the High Court should have spotless reputations. We already had Clarence Thomas on the court who was accused of being a sexual predator by Anita Hill during his confirmation. We don’t know if he is/was or not. Now we have Brett Kavanaugh and regardless of what you may say, there is no way, now, that we will ever know if he is a sexual predator. Allow me to explain.

The explanation involves the second issue. A woman simply would not put herself through what Dr. Ford went through if there was not something to her story. She did not tell her story at 15 years of age because she was frightened. Frightened of her parents, her school, her attacker, and so many more things. She tried to put it behind her and move on. She couldn’t and went into therapy. Then, Kavanaugh was nominated for a position on the Supreme Court.

An investigation ensued or so President Trump told us. Trump not only did a disservice to Dr. Ford. He also did a disservice to Justice Kavanaugh because now, because of a sham of an investigation, we will never know if Kavanaugh is guilty or innocent or if Ford was telling the truth. This wasn’t a trial so the rules of innocent until proven guilty do not apply. A large percentage of the population will always wonder about Kavanaugh just like we wonder about Clarence Thomas. Trump could have allowed the FBI to either clear Kavanaugh’s reputation or prove that Ford was correct.

Don’t we have to wonder why he didn’t?

#weekendcoffeeshare – 9/29/2018

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Good morning everyone! Thanks for coming to my #weekendcoffeeshare. Please grab a cup of coffee or tea, your choice, and join me. I have some news for you today! I’m looking forward to sharing it with you and getting some of your comments.

If we were having coffee, I would want to know how each of you are doing? How is your writing going? Is the muse with you? That muse is sometimes hard to capture, isn’t she? I hope she is by your side and that you are doing well. When that happens, it is so gratifying.

I’ve not been blogging as much as usual. I’ve had a lot going on personally and I’ve been doing some dog training. My corgi, Tucker, is now seven months old and he’s been a difficult pup. Some days, I think he’s getting more difficult rather than less! But, seven months is a tough time for corgi pups, so I will be patient.

Now for my news. I’m going to be taking a bit of a break from this blog. I’ll be back off and on and will try to at least write this #weekendcoffeeshare on a regular or semi-regular basis. But, I’m going to dive headlong into a novel and I find, as I get older, that I don’t multitask as well as I used to. I just turned down a lucrative consulting contract because I very much want to write this novel. Writing the novel and taking care of the rest of my life is just about all I can handle at this point in my life. I may post some chapters off and on for you to read, but I won’t be blogging any flash fiction for a few months.

My novel, just to whet you appetite :), is historical fiction set in World War II. I’m lucky enough to have primary research at my disposal. It is romantic fiction and I honestly don’t know if it will turn out to be novel length or a novella. Publishing is changing with short fiction becoming ever so much more popular and serialized fiction even more popular. I’m not going to serialize this novel, but I may serialize my next book. Our audience is different than it used to be with shorter attention spans and busy lives. Instead of buying books, they tend to read on mobile devices.

I’d love to hear your comments as you are my writing buddies! This won’t be a complete sabbatical from this blog and I’ll hope to see you here on my #weekendcoffeeshare, but I will mostly be banging the keyboard on the novel. Please keep in touch. I would love to hear from you at any time at my email address which is carlson.rosemary@gmail.com. You can also reach me through my Facebook Author Page.

I wish all of you the best in your writing projects and life.

 

Rosemary

 

Thanks to eclecticali for hosting #weekendcoffeeshare!