2020 National Puerto Rican Virtual Artisans Fair & Book Expo

Celebrating Puerto Rican Heritage in 2020

Once again, I’m proud to support and to participate in the National Puerto Rican Virtual Artisans Fair and Book Expo to be held on November 21 and 22, 2020. The virtual event (because 2020) is sponsored by Comité Noviembre and PRIDA, Puerto Rican Institute for the Development of the Arts, dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Puerto Rican artists and the arts.

http://www.comitenoviembrevirtualfair.org

Comite Noviembre Logo.png
COMITÉ NOVIEMBRE ~ NATIONAL PUERTO RICAN VIRTUAL ARTISANS FAIR & BOOK EXPO

Comité Noviembre is a 34-year-old non-profit organization created to commemorate and pay tribute to the contributions Puerto Ricans have made to this nation, support educational opportunities for youth through college scholarships and promote, acknowledge, create awareness and take ownership of our rich culture, language, and history. Comité Noviembre is the only collaboration of its kind in the United States that brings together the collective talents and resources of the following Puerto Rican organizations: ASPIRA of New YorkCentro de Estudios Puertorriqueños at Hunter College (CUNY)El Museo del BarrioEugenio Maria de Hostos Community College (CUNY)Institute for the Puerto Rican/Hispanic ElderlyLa Casa de la Herencia Cultural PuertorriqueñaLa Fundación Nacional para la Cultura Popular,  Justice Committee: NCPRR, and the Puerto Rican Institute for the Development of the Arts (PRIDA).

In the last seven months, the world as we knew it has changed in ways that will leave powerful marks on all our lives.  Many of us have lost loved ones to the COVID-19 pandemic and many of us have been sick and have survived. We have lost our jobs, our homes, and are uncertain of our future.  Yet our spirit of giving back and assisting the less fortunate has persevered. It is in this collective of undeniable courage, hope, and love that Comité Noviembre is moving forward.  

We are proud that all of our annual programs are going virtual, especially our eagerly awaited annual Comité Noviembre National Puerto Rican Artisans Fair & Book Expo.  The safety of our visitors, artists, authors, and staff is of the utmost importance.

Although we are greatly saddened that we will not be able to be at our home, Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College, we are proud of our incredible partnership over the past 11 years and promise that we will be back at Hostos next year for Comité Noviembre’s 35th anniversary.   

The Puerto Rican Institute for the Development of the Arts (PRIDA) was founded in 2013, by a group of dedicated artisans and cultural activists, Olga Ayala, Luis Cordero, Lourdes García, and Comité Noviembre’s Teresa A. Santiago.  Today PRIDA continues to be an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Puerto Rican artists and the arts.

We hope you will support the many wonderful artisans and authors participating in the Comité Noviembre National Puerto Rican Virtual Artisans Fair & Book Expo and on November 21, 2020, visit each participants’ page, shop their products, and share with friends!

On behalf of the National Puerto Rican Artisans Fair & Book Expo Committee, 

Siempre p’alante,

Olga Ayala

Artisan, Olga Ayala Handicrafts (Hecho A Mano)

Co-Chair, National Puerto Rican Artisans Fair &  Book Expo 

Yadhira Gonzalez-Taylor, Esq.,

Author and Co-Chair, National Puerto Rican Artisans Fair & Book Expo 

Teresa A. Santiago

Chairwoman, Comité Noviembre

Pandemic Diary: Where Are We?

July 10, 2020

nature summer yellow animal
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

To you, this lioness may be yawning — to me, she is roaring and royally pissed off. She is ready to claw, bite, and tear something apart limb by limb.

On June 10, 2020, a month ago today, I posted my last blog post before I took a much-needed break from blogging. On that day, with all the chaos in this country, like millions of others, I felt like I was screaming into the abyss and no sound came out.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit in late February, I’d felt raw, exposed, frightened, frustrated, and angry that 45 wasn’t doing a damn thing to contain the virus or prevent more infections and deaths. The Governors were on their own. Soon, states were reopening left and right. My neighbors weren’t wearing masks or practicing social distancing. People in some states were defying stay-at-home orders and congregating in churches, parks, bars, restaurants, and on beaches. Who are these people? As the number of infections and deaths grew, my anger and frustration grew. I felt we would never get out of this virus mess, but important changes were taking places in other ways.

Some days, my anger reached unhealthy places, where my sleep patterns, appetite, and concentration were affected. My mood was negative, I could feel my blood pressure rise, and my attitude was shitty at best. The anger felt like the day 45 was elected. Worse than his mistreatment of Puerto Rico and its citizens after Hurricane Maria. Much worse than when the US government put immigrant children in cages and then lost thousands of those innocent and unprotected children. That still causes me to lose sleep.

I needed a break. I needed to write. I needed quiet, balance, and peace. I needed my garden. I needed my children. I wanted to escape. I didn’t know how long I’d be away from blogging. I’d set no date. I wasn’t depressed–it was anger fueled by fear, the unknown, and my extreme disgust of this government, our laws, and the greed and callous disregard for human lives. Too much toxicity, I heard over and over from friends and family members. I agreed with them. I’m a retired 62-year-old woman dealing with solo quarantine–it can get difficult when you don’t have many people to bounce things off of and discuss–you can lose perspective.

During my month-long break, I didn’t write in my daily journal. I didn’t read and I stopped watching the news as I’d been doing each night from 6-11 since 2016. I donated to good causes and enjoyed my coffee on the kitchen patio that overlooks my thriving vegetable gardens. I listened to the birds, watched the clouds. I gardened, baked bread, caught up with family and friends on Zoom, cooked good meals, and each evening I watched one or two classic films. And thank God, I was able to work on my novel. I wrote and worked with my critique group each week. Thanks to them, I learned a great deal in a short amount of time that enhanced my story in many beautiful ways.

A week in, I’d felt better. My shoulders lowered, I stopped grinding my teeth at night (it wakes me up), and I started eating better again. Lord knows I slept better.

Tonight, alas, the lawless crap continues. Trump commuted Roger Stone’s sentence. AG Barr, Trump’s bagman, as he is called, is still out of control…there is no rule of law in this country, it’s abuse after abuse after abuse. Where the hell are we headed as a country? November can’t come soon enough.

I wish I could end this blog post on a positive note but that would seem like a lie. From what I’ve read, many states are right smack back to where they were in March with this virus. Close the states. Yes, again! There’s no other way. If my kids were younger, no one could force me to send them back to school. It’s not safe.

We are no better off now than we were in March.  Actually, it’s worse. We are in trouble, deep trouble. God help us all.

Be well, wear your mask, and stay safe. Resist. Take care of yourselves.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. The author currently lives in West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1926 Puerto Rico. Eleanor’s adult children are in the world doing amazing things, which fills her with enormous pride. She is still in quarantine with her buddy, a Chihuahua named Sophie.

 

 

 

 

Can You Imagine?

June 1, 2020

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“I understand that I will never understand, however, I will stand with you and use my voice to amplify yours.”unknown

The results of the independent autopsy ordered by George Floyd’s family and performed by two pathologists ruled George died due to asphyxia when the neck and back compression led to a lack of blood flow to the brain. The Minneapolis officials said George Floyd didn’t die from asphyxia. He was murdered. I saw it with my own eyes. You probably saw it, too.

Can you imagine feeling anger and seething rage over, and over, and over for decades? For hundreds of years, black men, women, and children have died at the hands of white people, civilians and law enforcement officers alike. Can you imagine what it feels like to have your hands figuratively and physically tied by hatred, violence, fear, and mistrust? Can you imagine being silenced and not heard over a long history of oppression against your community?

“Don’t look away. Look straight at everything, good and bad.” – Henry Miller.

I have experienced racist comments in my life, but the racists didn’t know I was Puerto Rican because of the color of my skin. “But you’re white,” they said. Their comments were offensive and I set them straight.

Despite my understanding of racism and colonial mentality, I was never stopped from getting a job, receiving fair treatment, or being respected by my peers. Have I been repeatedly stopped by police and have I been profiled? Have I lost anyone I love to racist violence or police brutality? No, I haven’t.

I can imagine, but in reality, I can’t possibly begin to understand.

“I understand that I will never understand, however, I will stand with you and use my voice to amplify yours.”unknown

***

June 2, 2020

people at a protest at night
Photo by Vital1na on Pexels.com

I just watched the video of the Bronx police officer who was intentionally struck and run over. George Floyd was murdered right before our eyes. My God. We’ve all watched countless videos of excessive use of force by police and of the dangers police officers face on a daily basis.

Peaceful protestors, who have a right to protest against decades of injustice, failed systems, police brutality, and corrupt politicians are attacked. Looters and provocateurs are violent and disregard human life, the safety of non-violent protestors, and businesses that people put their life savings into. Do not lump looters and protestors together.

Until careless and callous politicians understand how they contribute to and therefore, continue the devastating cycle of poverty in our black communities, this will continue. Until our government addresses the decades-long injustices in this country and treat all Americans, who pay their salaries, with dignity and respect, this will continue. Until the government stops trying to militarize the police in this country, excessive force will continue to be used.

If it’s not safe to protest peacefully, will many of us stay home despite our desire to support and stand up for the black community? The brown community. The immigrant community and children held in ICE facilities. Then what?

If we don’t stand up for what is right, the corrupt politicians in this government win. Then where are we? I am hopeful the governors of this country will stand up to Trump and support and protect their citizens, and work with their communities. I am hopeful more police officers will offer acts of kindness during this traumatic time. But hugs and acts of solidarity aren’t enough if we don’t go to the roots of why we are in the tragic situation we find ourselves in at this time–it’s nothing new–poverty, racism, systematic oppression.

Will Americans be forced into submission like Hong Kong and other countries, who for decades have attempted to protest only to be beaten down mercilessly and forced to live in militarized zones? Will the US military allow themselves to be used in this way?

Will the release or resurgence of more lethal viruses prevent us from leaving our homes to protest, to vote? Is that the plan? The more I see, the more questions form in my mind. I’m still learning.

One thing I know–we must get rid of Trump and his cronies. We must all vote them out or we will continue to live in this present horror for four more years.

Stay safe out there. Resist. Donate. Protest peacefully.

Thank you for your visit.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. The authorcurrently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1925 Puerto Rico. Her adult children are out in the world doing amazing things, which fills her with enormous pride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Viruses in the US: Coronavirus and Racism

May 28, 2020

Justice for George Floyd and his family.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The outrage from the black community and across this country is understandable, it’s palpable. People are exhausted from their neverending fight for justice, they are outraged, and they feel powerless, not heard by our judicial and legal system.

I fear what may happen in this country if the powers in Minneapolis don’t arrest Derek Chauvin, as well as the three officers, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J Alexander Keung , who stood by as George Floyd suffered dreadfully, pleaded for help and breath, and tragically died. They did nothing. The four men should have been immediately arrested and charged like any one of us would have been arrested and charged.

What did our president do? He incited violence tonight, “Any difficulty and we will assume control, but when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

In my view, he is escalating the violence and taunting Minneapolis. I worry that the pain, outrage, and looting will play directly into the hands of Trump and his minions, who would love to see more chaos, division, and violence in this country. I don’t believe in violence. But what can be done? What’s the answer? Waiting years for our deeply flawed justice and legal system to do the right thing while the killings of black men and women continue? Not acceptable. It never was acceptable, yet it continues in this country.

American racism is lethal, endemic, and every bit as dangerous as the novel coronavirus.

Be safe.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

me in ma july 2019

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. The author lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1925 Puerto Rico. Her adult children are out in the world doing amazing things, which fills her with enormous pride.

 

Writing Through the Pandemic While Baking Bread and Canning Food

May 23, 2020

crop unrecognizable person with jar of pickled zucchini
Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels.com

The sun is out today and the high will reach 80*, which is great for the seedlings and plants in my garden. The AC is on because high heat always brings high humidity in this area. Too bad high temperatures don’t kill the coronavirus…wouldn’t that be awesome if it did?

I finally discovered a way to discourage birds from pulling up tender seedlings and sheering off the tops of the tomato plants in the garden–red Solo cups with the bottoms cut out! I placed a cup over each seedling and it seems to be working. I’m happy I started lots of seeds in large pots back in March because the culprits were relentless. I didn’t think my three small plots required a scarecrow, but I thought about it.

healthy vegetables hand gardening
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

I’m still waiting on the delivery of the pricey All American 915 canner pressure cooker with high hopes of canning vegetables in the future. Yes, I’m taking this pandemic seriously. I did my research and ended up ordering one approved by the FDA so I don’t contract salmonella or blow up my house.

I’ve never canned in my life, so that should be interesting. One of the participants in my The Artist’s Way group, a West Virginia native and a hunter, is a canning pro and offered to teach me. She cans loaves of bread (how can that work?) in addition to chili, soups, stews, meats, vegetables, jams, eggs (?), and wait for it…pudding. Don’t ask. I have no clue how she does that, but she does. I’m excited to learn from her.

Hopefully, my late spring and summer harvests are plentiful and healthy enough to can. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, the lettuce, kale, and spinach taste great and I’m baking bread again. Merci, Jacques Pepin.

***

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Photo by CDC on Pexels.com

The CDC needs to speak to the American people again! Are they hiding during this pandemic? Why are they silent?

“If authors have any responsibilities in the face of disaster, the greatest of them is to bear witness.” That’s an excerpt from the author Fang Fang’s (her pen name) controversial chronicle of life and death in Wuhan, China during the pandemic.

From the New York Times article, “She Kept a Diary of China’s Epidemic. Now She Faces a Political Storm”,

“Her online diary, though sometimes censored, became vital reading for tens of millions of Chinese readers — a plain-spoken, spontaneous view into Wuhan residents’ fears, frustrations and hopes during their 11 weeks under lockdown in their homes.

Her account has recently drawn bitter condemnation from zealous Chinese nationalists who have called plans to publish a translation in English an effort to malign the government and undermine the heroic image of Wuhan.

 

Fang Fang, who uses her pen name rather than her birth name, Wang Fang, said that she did not want to be cast as either a cheerleader for the government, or as a reflexively embittered critic. She called herself a witness, highlighting the bravery of doctors, street cleaners and neighbors helping neighbors, while vowing to hold to account officials who let the virus spread.”

I would love to read her pandemic chronicle one day in English.

 

Brazil. The news of the incredibly high number of deaths in Brazil is heartwrenching–24,048 deaths as of yesterday. Bolsinaro, the president of Brazil calls the pandemic in his country “a little flu”…he is South America’s version of Trump…Lord help the Brazilians.

What’s happening in the Navajo Nation is truly a national tragedy–4,434 confirmed cases and 147 deaths this morning. It’s just awful. Today, as US deaths approach 100,000 souls,  the world comes to grips with 240,879 deaths. At times, the numbers are difficult to process. A newscaster described the numbers we see today as war-time numbers.

According to www.worldometers.com, as of today, Puerto Rico, my birthplace, has 3, 100 total cases, 70 new cases, and 127 deaths. Their numbers are higher than Guam, the US Virgin Islands, and Hawaii. I don’t know why that is. I wonder if it’s because thousands of tourists landed on the island early on? It’s clear high temperatures don’t stop this virus. My adopted state of West Virginia is at 1,717 total cases, 12 new cases, and 72 deaths. I’m staying home.

Last week, I had a contentious discussion with one of my postal carriers, who took offense to me questioning why he wasn’t wearing a mask. His immediate response was, “Why should I?” Okay. I should have thanked him and closed the door right then, but I was honestly curious. So I asked why he, a person who comes into contact with hundreds of people on a daily basis, wouldn’t think to protect himself and others by wearing a mask. Long story short, he replied that more people die each year from the flu and pneumonia, it’s all a big hoax, and it’s too hot to wear a mask. He kept his distance and he sounded exactly like Trump, so I thanked him for delivering my mail and shut the door.

I found him callous, irresponsible, and rude. Even if people don’t care about themselves and their health, for God’s sake, how about caring about others? Apparently, it never occurred to him or maybe it did and he just doesn’t care.

As I continue to quarantine at home and venture out on Sundays to my local farmers market, I will wear a mask for the foreseeable future. For myself and for you.

Be well and stay safe this holiday weekend. Thank you to all military members, past and present. Thank you to my dad, a Vietnam vet, for his 30 years in the US Army. Love you, Dad.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

me in ma july 2019

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. The author lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico. Eleanor’s adult children are out in the world doing amazing things, which fills her with enormous pride and affords her the peace of mind to write full-time. She is currently in quarantine with a cute Chihuahua named Sophie.

On Writers Helping Writers and Friendship

May 21, 2020

black and white photo of holding hands
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Note: Did you know the “doldrums” is a popular nautical term that refers to the belt around the Earth near the equator where sailing ships sometimes get stuck on windless waters? I didn’t, not at the time I wrote this blog post. Synchronicity.

A thousand thanks to my writer friends and brilliant authors, Jack and Jessica, who pushed me out of my writing doldrums yesterday during a fun Zoom chat and impromptu writing workshop. I am eternally grateful to Jack for recognizing I was in desperate need of a writing support system, a writing group–I’d written alone for far too many years.

From past negative experiences, I’d shied away from writing groups, especially critique groups, which I’d viewed as creativity killers. The writers in my previous writing groups were nice people, who said they wanted to write but in my humble opinion weren’t putting in the necessary hard work, blood, and sweat. They came to the group to complain about the publishing industry, horrible editors, and the zero likelihood of any of us getting published. I always left the groups with a bad taste in my mouth and never went back. Believe me, my inner critic is always ready to feed me with negativity, self-doubt, and criticism. I don’t need any help there.

The guidance and support I received yesterday from Jack and Jessica made all the difference in the world. Jack’s keen observation, fine-tuned intuition, and life-changing instruction (he is an incredibly talented and brilliant writer, a true mensch, and a generous teacher), helped me tremendously. I had one of the best writing days (and nights) since this pandemic began. Sure, I’d managed to write, rewrite, and edit my work-in-progress since late February when the coronavirus pandemic began, but I knew deep down I’d been traveling rudderless and without a compass.

beach ship cracks black white
Photo by Zukiman Mohamad on Pexels.com

After our session, I told my friends I felt like someone had finally changed my dead batteries. I’d been running on low since the end of February with my manuscript and in danger of sailing around in circles with the story. Thanks to Jack’s brilliant techniques and tips for taking apart a paragraph or a chapter that doesn’t work and reworking it, I rewrote Chapter One last night and reduced the chapter by two pages. I was thrilled and felt newly energized to tackle the edits with what I’d learned from him. I now have a clearer course and I’m learning how to navigate the waters to my destination. I’m also more than ready to help them in any way I can.

I’m eternally grateful for Jack and Jessica’s friendship, their kindness, and very happy to be part of a new writing group of brilliant, like-minded writers. That’s what the doctor ordered and exactly what I’ve needed for months. Years, actually. Bless them.

Stay safe and be well.

Happy writing to you.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

me in ma july 2019

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. She currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico. Eleanor’s adult children are out in the world doing amazing things, which fills her with enormous pride and affords her the peace to write full-time. She is currently in lockdown with a Chihuahua named Sophie.

 

On Finding Our Bearings in a Changing World

May 17, 2020

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Photo by Marcus Wöckel on Pexels.com

I took the weekend off from writing and watched the excellent Netflix series, WWII In Color, with rare, never-seen footage. I highly recommend it. I also worked in my garden and on Saturday, I found several dead tomato seedlings in the garden. I was sad and pissed off. I’d grown those babies from seeds, which wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. It turned out the culprits were birds. I told my kids I needed to make a scarecrow. After a good laugh, I rummaged through the garden shed and discovered a small roll of screening (wire mesh) and solved the problem by covering the tender seedlings. I then filled the bird feeder.

This morning I realized I haven’t offered my thanks to our doctors, nurses, medical care workers, and mental health providers in the last few blog posts. To all essential workers on the front lines of this pandemic, who put themselves at tremendous risk for us every day, thank you. I realize a simple, heartfelt thank you will never be enough for the enormous sacrifices you’ve all made for us. And as I’ve said many times before, it’s time for hazard pay (and retroactive pay) for every front line worker. For those who’ve lost loved ones to COVID-19, my heart breaks for you and your family.

This month, I’ve experienced more highs than the low lows in late February, March, and at the beginning of April. I wouldn’t say I find it easier to live in quarantine, it’s more that I’m resigned to the fact that given my medical history, I must remain careful and that timeframe may be longer than I’d previously anticipated and desired. I don’t like it, but here we are.

“Vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back.” – Donald Trump, May 2020

“I believe by early June we’re going to see our nation largely past this epidemic.” – Mike Pence, May 2020

Gaslight much? What’s the tally of lies, so far? Anyone?

Jesus. Please God, let Biden win in November.

Register to vote, people, and vote blue all the way.

***

May 18, 2020

woman with blindfold
Photo by Bruno Feitosa on Pexels.com

The days of fruitful writing and momentum I’d enjoyed last winter on my work-in-progress came to a halt when the CDC and WHO announced we were in a pandemic. Soon afterward, my adopted state of West Virginia went into lockdown and my publisher announced their publishing cues were frozen until further notice due to COVID-19. I completely understood and fully supported the decisions while my brain reeled from rapid-fire daily and hourly changes to life as I knew it that didn’t come with a helpful manual. We were all thrown in at the deep end. In the back of my mind, I knew the virus would throw a big wrench in my writing momentum. I felt bad for my fellow authors with book launches in April and May.

As we navigated the frightening world of the novel coronavirus and worried about our families and loved ones, the virus proved to be far deadlier and more contagious than we could have known, unless you were an epidemiologist, a scientist, or a medical lab technician. Day after day, we were gripped with mind-numbing fear and anxiety, and anger over the government’s inaction and slow responses. Around that time, I was finding it difficult to concentrate on anything for too long, which is why I’d chosen to write blog posts. I was still writing and that was a good thing.

Some days, given the unbearable suffering of people around the country, the world, and the constant fear for the safety of my children and loved ones, I binge-watched Netflix series for hours upon hours. I tried to keep a writing schedule and it was hard. I hope to never experience those levels of stress, anxiety, and fear again.

Initially, I’d naively hoped everyone in this country would self-quarantine for a few months, every person in this country would get tested and receive monthly paychecks to get by, and the medical world would come up with at least a drug cocktail that would kick the virus’ ass, enough to save COVID-19 patient’s lives. It didn’t take long, however, to realize that what I’d hoped for would not come to pass in a timely or consistent manner. People around the world continued to die in horrific numbers and violent divisions erupted in this country that continue to this day.

This morning, I wonder what I’ll do differently next time with what I’ve learned during this pandemic? Hopefully, I won’t have to find out, but that’s wishful thinking. Does the fact that I’m questioning how I’ll handle the virus next time and thinking back to the beginning of this nightmare show a glimmer of healing? Of strength and resolve? Maybe it does.

Today, our lives are again held in limbo by the Senate, who will decide if, when, and how much Americans will receive in the way of additional recovery checks. The president and the Republicans in the Senate continue to sit on their hands while people lose their jobs, their businesses, wait in food bank lines, and get evicted from their homes. God help us all.

Will the recovery money continue to flow until the end of this pandemic? Will businesses rehire their employees? Will undocumented folks receive checks? Will doctors, nurses, and medical workers finally receive desperately-needed PPE supplies? And scientists don’t sound hopeful that a safe, effective vaccine will be ready at the end of this year or the following year. How’s that for sobering news? How can I possibly finish the edits on this manuscript?

SO.

How do we deal with rude awakenings, doses of reality we don’t want to hear? How do we keep moving forward,  remain balanced, and thrive given the horrible news that we could be dealing with this monster virus for the next 18 months to two years or longer?

We regroup. We take into account all we’ve learned during the last three months (it’s more than you can imagine) and we realize we made it. We’re here. Tragically, not all of us made it out alive, and many families are still suffering, so we will continue to give to those less fortunate than ourselves. We donate to charities, food banks, shelters, and hospitals. We help out our neighbors and local small businesses, where we can. We practice kindness and forgiveness.

We recalibrate. We find our bearings, again. We adapt. We ground ourselves deep into the earth and brace ourselves for bad news that may or may not come. It’s going to be easier next time because we know we can self-quarantine. We know what we have to do to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and we more or less know what we’re dealing with in regard to COVID-19.

It’s true, we know more today than we knew three months ago. We grew in more ways than we realize. Reflect on that. We must continue to help those who are struggling, by taking excellent care of ourselves and remaining hopeful. We start a garden and we keep writing day by day.

I’m reminded of what Anne Lamott said in her amazing book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life:

“E.L. Doctorow said once said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.”
― Anne Lamott

Stay safe and remain informed. Resist.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

me in ma july 2019

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. She currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is in quarantine with a Chihuahua named Sophie and working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico. Her children are out in the world doing amazing things and staying safe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Crying in the Shower, Quarantine Questions, and Learning to Live in the In-between

May 11, 2020

young woman using laptop at home
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I believe we are entering the eighth week of quarantine. Or is it week 16? The number of coronavirus deaths in the US is nearing 81,000. What a tremendous tragedy. It’s a shock to see the numbers rise so steadily. I try to remember that each person is not just a number–they were loved and are dearly missed by their families and friends. May they rest in peace.

Some scientists suggest the only way to keep those numbers down is for us to stay home, practice safe distancing, wear a mask, and not infect anyone. Others urge us to get outside, stop living in fear, and that only after 60-70% of us are infected and recovered will this end. I really hate the term, “herd immunity”.

What does this quarantine time look like for you? Idleness, aimlessness, or an inability to focus on important things for too long? Perhaps it’s quarantine craziness or crazy good quarantine creativity and high productivity. Maybe for you it’s a time of relaxation laced with mind-numbing boredom or grief we can’t name mixed with confusing or unrealistic relief. Some of us are learning to schedule work meetings and chats with family and friends on sites like Zoom. It’s nuts.

One day I’m a baking tornado and transforming my kitchen into a professional chef’s domain with all the latest gadgets, on sale, of course. The next day, I’m so over nightly cooking, especially healthy eating. Some remember why they never liked or felt the slightest inclination to bake anything. It’s tough to find yeast, flour, or sourdough starter anyway. You may be precariously close to reaching or are already living in the “who cares?” part of the program. And you would be forgiven. But we can’t remain there. We know that. It’s imperative for us to get a grip over and over again and to remain in a good place for the sake of our children, our spouses, our loved ones and for ourselves.

It’s entirely possible and normal for us to feel many emotions in one day, depending on how our heads are screwed on that morning. Sometimes, changes in our moods will occur for no discernible reason. Upon waking and despite vowing to have an energetic, productive day, very often the positive energy diminishes and fizzles out in late afternoon. I don’t want to have a crappy day, not even a short period of crappiness, but sometimes it’s difficult to maintain my footing in my happy place and to keep my focus. Even after my best attempts to continue the day in proven positive ways, I sense those nasty gremlins peeking around the corner to check if I’m feeling grounded enough or losing steam. If I’m feeling drained, out of the corner of my eye, I see them plotting their move.

Then the guilt sets in. People are suffering and dying around the world and in my city. Am I doing enough? Did I give enough to Biden’s campaign, to the DACA recipients? Have I ordered enough greens and eggs from the local farmer? Do I need more cheese from the creamery? Should I order a pizza to be delivered from the Main Street pizzeria? Should I have cancelled last week’s appointment with the hair salon and will she go out of business because I didn’t go? Often when these questions can’t be controlled, I take a nap or cry in the shower like a toddler out of frustration and sadness. That often occurs when I’ve watched too much news or I’ve allowed myself to dwell on how long it will be until I can kiss and hug my precious children. Or when I think back to my travels and to family vacations. When will I travel freely again and have summer dinner parties with family and friends in my courtyard garden? I don’t know.

So what’s the answer then? What can we do? Change our thinking. I believe acceptance and living in the in-between is the way forward. It’s a path of resilience and one I choose to adopt. I’ll be thinking on that today as I work in the garden. It’s time for the bean seedlings to be transplanted near the bamboo teepee, and the pea seedlings are in a large pot with a tomato cage. They are so cute, smile.

More on living in the in-between tomorrow. I’m off to watch videos of baby animals until I feel more positive, and then I will sit down to work on my second book, The Laments. I’ve promised my new editor to have the clean manuscript to her by the end of May. Fingers crossed.

Tomorrow morning, Dr. Fauci and other medical experts will testify in the Senate on the coronavirus response. Fauci, tell the truth. Don’t sugarcoat anything and don’t blow smoke up our asses. We need to know what we’re dealing with and what the future holds for us going forward. I don’t think the answer is reopening our states too early, which is sadly happening across this country.

I hope you and yours are well. Stay safe.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

me in ma july 2019

 

On motherhood, love, and hope in the time of Coronavirus

May 10, 2020

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Mother’s Day blessings and best wishes for a beautiful day to all mothers. Whether you are a biological or an adoptive mom, a single mom or a Dad mom, a foster mom, great-grandmother, grandmother, mentor, stepmom, aunt, sister, cousin, niece, teacher, caregiver, or friend, you are beloved and special in someone’s life.

For the new mothers and pregnant women in this time of coronavirus, you are brave, resilient, strong, loved, and admired. Believe. All will be well.

grayscale photo of woman kissing child
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To my wonderful children, I love and miss you both more than words can express. Every day, your words and actions inspire me to continue to walk through life with humility, integrity, kindness, decency, transparency, patience, and love for mankind.

To my mother, grandmothers, aunts, and my stepmom, my angels, who taught me the meaning of family, love, friendship, compassion, strength, and the importance of humor and fun in good times and especially, in the not-so-good times, thank you.

I’ll love you all forever.

grayscale photography of mother and child
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“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.” —Maya Angelou

“My Mother: She is beautiful, softened at the edges, and tempered with a spine of steel. I want to grow old and be like her. ” —Jodi Picoult

“Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.” —William Makepeace Thackeray

“The influence of a mother in the lives of her children is beyond calculation.” —James E. Faust

“The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children.” —Elaine Heffner

“When your mother asks, ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’ it’s a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.” —Erma Bombeck

I wish each of you a blessed and wonderful Mother’s Day. May we all hug and kiss our loved ones very soon.

Be well and stay safe, everyone.

Eleanor x

 

ABOUT ELEANOR:

me in ma july 2019

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, “Latina Authors and Their Muses. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is in quarantine with her dog and working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico. Her children are out in the world doing amazing things, which fills her with enormous pride, love, and comfort.

 

 

Stay-at-Home Snitches, Quarantine Shaming, and Puppet Masters

May 6-7, 2020

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I’m listening to the president as I write this blog post. Yesterday, they’d decided to wind down the Coronavirus Task Force meetings, and now he’s saying it turns out the task force is respected by some very respected people. “…it’s popular”…”so, let’s keep it going.” It’s incredible how much praise, attention, respect and admiration this man craves and demands. If he is not shown the proper reverance and respect he believes he is entitled to, he threatens to yank whatever it is until the intended targets bend, acquiesce, and kiss ass…or not. Then he threatens again.

He’s like a narcissistic, passive-aggressive partner who is nice as long as the other person does exactly what they want. If they don’t, the narcissist gaslights, lies, ignores, and threatens again. It’s a vicious cycle. Behave or else, comes to mind.

That’s the plan–to keep us afraid, unbalanced, tired, and angry. We don’t need any help with that, Americans are under tremendous pressure. If the population remains in a weakened state and go along with their program, whatever it is that day and however insane the program may seem to us, many more Americans will die. Hit ’em while they’re down.

So we are kept on our toes. We are left anxious, hopeful, angry, and filled with dread most days. It feels like a nightmare from which we cannot awake. Not everything that’s happened during this pandemic is directly caused by him, but most days, it sure feels like that’s the case. All the while, Americans suffer and die, and neighbors, police, and strangers fight and kill each other over social distancing and wearing masks in local businesses. Where will this end?

Now that several states have reopened for business and people go back to their favorite outdoor leisure activities, the number of confirmed cases and deaths will increase. That will continue as people begin interacting again, relaxing social distancing, and forego wearing masks. I fear the cases will never go down. Not one state has met the list of reopening guideline criteria, yet they’re reopening. Did the Coronavirus Task Force give up, claim a victory, or move on? Yes, all in one lousy news briefing.

white and blue come on in we ere open signage
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Pandemic snitches, protestors, and quarantine shaming. That’s all happening in our communities. People are turning in neighbors, business owners, and strangers for not following guidelines set forth by the CDC and not heeding the advice and sober predictions from medical professionals in this country. In Alabama, the police refuse to enforce social distancing in their communities. While we pay attention to news reports, people struggle with lost jobs, shuttered businesses, and search for food to feed their families, the Trump adminstration continues to reverse environmental laws. Jesus, they are evil.

As of today, the New York Times reports 1.2 million people in the United States have been infected with the novel coronavirus and 73,500 deaths have been reported. That’s only deaths that are reported. The new unemployment numbers are coming out this morning. Thirty million Americans are filing for unemployments benefits and the US stock futures rose ahead of the jobless data. That’s nuts, but I’ve never understood the stock market. Along with the biggest health crisis this country has faced since 1918, we are facing the biggest unemployment crisis since the Great Depression. I believe we are in a depression, we just haven’t named it yet.

The puppet masters in Washington and big business continue to play a dangerous game, where they are the only winners. As staying home is the norm in many states in this country,  Americans are trapped, living in a maze until there is a successful, one-time-and-you’re-safe vaccine in this country. I heard the best case scenario is 2-3 years for that to happen. How will we cope that long?

I will hang in there and remain strong, though admittedly, some days are easier than others. I admit my anger at the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic (and so much more) is often the fuel that keeps me going. Anger is as powerful an energy as is love. I intend to survive in spite of this administration because of my love for my family, friends, and for myself. And so will you.

Let’s take good care of ourselves, there are more beautiful days to come with our loved ones and friends. This too shall pass.

I wish every doctor, nurse, nursing assistant, and medical personnel a safe and blessed day. Much love and respect to them.

Off to the garden on a chilly morning, followed by baking a loaf of Irish Soda bread without yeast, and editing my novel, The Laments. The sun is shining and it’s Latino Book Month. #readlatinolit

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico. Her adult children are out in the world doing amazing things, which fills her with pride and allows her to peacefully write full time. Eleanor is currently in quarantine with her Chihuahua named Sophie.