On Justice, Cleaning Our Own Houses, and Unlearning

June 10, 2020

Content warning: You might find some of the issues I raise troubling or disturbing.

I believe this is the first time in over twenty years of writing I’ve used a content warning.

My brain is saturated. I felt tired today and a few minutes ago, I realized I forgot to take my autoimmune meds this morning. Writing always helps to clear my mind, so here goes. This will go everywhere.

The journal entries I penned over the past two weeks are filled with anguish, outrage, fear, and dismay. I found it very difficult to harness hope that meaningful, life-altering changes would finally happen in this country in regard to racism, police brutality, hate crimes, our government, our laws, and racial disparity. And the pandemic plays on. Businesses continue to shutter their doors. People lost their jobs, their life savings, and loved ones keep succumbing to the novel coronavirus. People are being evicted from their homes, children are hungry. In despair, many have taken their lives.

woman wearing eyeglasses in grayscale photography
Photo by Elina Krima on Pexels.com

I wept for George Perry Floyd, Jr. and his family members during the memorial services held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in Raeford, North Carolina, and finally, in Houston, Texas. The memory of George calling for his mother before he died broke my mother heart all over again despite the powerful memorial messages of hope, courage, fortitude, righteous anger, and faith. By the end of the third memorial service, I found hope again.

Changes are taking place. I feel a shift taking form. Chokeholds are now banned in one state. Arrests were made and charges filed against the former police officers, who murdered George Floyd. The men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery were arrested and charged. Now, we await charges in the murders of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot in her home by police officers in Louisville, Kentucky, and Tony McDade, who was shot and killed by police in Tallahassee, Florida. Their families demand justice, we demand justice. I realize it could be a long road to conviction. #BlackLivesMatter

Holding police accountable for violence and using excessive force against protestors took form with the suspension of the officer who viciously assaulted Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old man from Buffalo, New York. The New York City police officer who brutally shoved Dounya Zayer to the pavement, turned himself in and faces criminal charges. They should lose all their jobs. And shame on the Florida police union for stating they are willing to employ all cops who are fired or resign from their jobs over charges of police misconduct.

During the past 18 months in Puerto Rico, ten LGBTQ people were murdered. This year, 19-year-old Alexa Negron Luciano, 31-year-old Penélope Díaz Ramírez, 21-year-old, Layla Peláez, and 32-year-old Serena Angelique Velázquez were among the trans women who were murdered. The cases are ongoing. As far as I know, only two arrests have been made. The cases of domestic violence on the island and in the US are through the roof. The violence continued in the US with the brutal beating by a group of black men of a trans woman named Iyonna Dior. I watched Billy Porter’s powerful, impassioned message on Instagram, where he spoke about the incident. Here’s an excerpt from that video,

“The tragic reality here is that black trans, as well as gender non-conforming, women and men are being killed in the United States by cis black men to such a degree that it is nearly the worst emergency for trans women on the planet.”

In Mexico, according to government data, nine hundred eighty seven women and girls were murdered in the first four months of 2020. The first four months. Many more are missing.

What’s the solution, what’s the answer? Which issue do we tackle first? And then? And then what? I don’t know, but I like what Billy Porter said in that same Instagram video, “…get your f*cking houses in order.” He’s right, each of us must get our own houses in order and change must happen. The violence, systematic racism, misogyny, and hate crimes must stop. America needs to get its house in order and so must we as individuals.

Rest in peace, George, Breonna, Ahmaud, Tony, and Iyonna, and all those who’ve lost their lives in the US, in Puerto Rico, and around the world to hate crimes, systematic racism, and abuse. I’m thinking of the crimes committed against Natives Americans throughout US history and during their protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, on land that we stole. I continue to pray for incarcerated immigrant children, who live in fear, are still being separated from their parents, and still suffer from abuse. I pray the killing of innocent women around the world, who are murdered in the thousands every single day, ends. And the novel coronavirus, well, the deadly virus continues to infect and kill with no vaccine in sight.

My neighbor believes we are living the biblical End of Times. I must admit news of the returning “plague” of cicadas this year had me wondering. No, I believe we are birthing a new nation, and birthing is messy, wondrous, delicate, and hard, hard work that results in new life and hope for the future. We must think of reparations.

Despite it all and because of it all, we must keep showing up. Keep protesting, donating, learning, informing others, and unlearning, where necessary. Repeat and don’t give up. We must become and continue to be supportive, active allies for our brown and black brothers and sisters. Everywhere. I’m hopeful. I’m learning. #ChangeForGood

On that note, I’m taking a break from blogging to finish my manuscript, THE LAMENTS, and to work with my new writing critique group. In addition, I’ll continue working with The Great Unlearn, an online course generously shared by Rachel Cargle. I highly recommend it. The link is below.

https://www.patreon.com/thegreatunlearn/posts

Until then, be safe, stay well, protect each other. VOTE BLUE all the way. We can’t live another four years like this.

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 Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1925 Puerto Rico. Eleanor’s adult children are in the world doing amazing things, which fills her with enormous pride.

 

 

 

Can You Imagine?

June 1, 2020

hands people friends communication
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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

***

coronavirus
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 Dr. Fauci and Living in the In-between

May 12, 2020

person in yellow protective suit and mask
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

What a relief to hear Dr. Fauci debunk many of 45’s coronavirus claims and lies during yesterday’s Senate HELP Committee hearing on the Coronavirus Response. Il Fauci scored major points with me for being transparent. Any doubts I had about him possibly caving to Trump’s demands to downplay this pandemic, the numbers, and the dire consequences of reopening too soon, disappeared. Like with Governor Cuomo, when Fauci spoke, there was an adult in the room. I breathed a sigh of relief.

However…I was disappointed in that Fauci kept repeating the same warning: if states jump forward to reopen without following the Task Force guidance, there could be hell to pay (my words) with more outbreaks resulting in more confirmed cases and deaths, and going backward in regard to the economy. We already know that. Dr. Fauci knows that no state (that I’m aware of) has followed the phases or protocols set forth by the Coronavirus Task Force for reopening, yet states reopened or will reopen soon, including my adopted state of West Virginia. Jeez. I wish Fauci had addressed the issue that no state is truly ready to reopen. But this president is hellbent on continuing to muzzle Fauci and God knows, I don’t want the good scientist to be fired. Can you imagine what that would look like? I’ve got to hand it to Fauci–he was diplomatic, emphatic, truthful. He’s in a tough situation.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice gave a virtual briefing last night about getting ready for the Memorial Day weekend. I was not prepared for that, at all. May 26 is a big day for West Virginia, it’s the grand reopening of retail stores, parks, outdoor and indoor restaurants with limited seating, and I forget what else. Hair salons, barbershops, and spas are already open. The number of confirmed cases and deaths in West Virginia are lower compared to other states (still horrible), but I’m convinced that’s because not nearly enough West Virginians are being tested. Are we ready for all that?

Obviously, I pray it all goes well. My fear is we’ll see large outbreaks in June and July as we’ve seen with other states after reopening. I hope not. Trying to think positively, but that’s difficult in light of Dr. Fauci’s warnings.

I’m definitely not ready and not going anywhere until June or July, maybe? Here we go.

***

May 13, 2020

grayscale photography of woman sitting on sofa
Photo by Ken Ozuna on Pexels.com

I’ve been thinking (and journaling) a lot about living in the in-between. I didn’t exactly know what that meant and didn’t have sufficient time to explore the idea with a writing deadline coming up, but the idea kept popping in when I least expected it. Living in the in-between (how I’ve felt since the first reports of the novel coronavirus reached our shores), seemed important, something I had to look into.

Last night, the idea of living in the in-between felt like an answer to a question I hadn’t yet formed. So, I slept on it, confident it would make sense to me in due time.

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. – Blaise Pascal, 17th-century French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and philosopher.

Today I logged onto Zoom for a free Monroe Institute webinar I’d signed up for called Tips for Flourishing in Uncertain Times. The instructor offered good tips that included mindfulness, meditation, prayer, and yoga, which make good sense at any time. She then spoke about the liminal state, which I’d never heard of. I realized why I’d stumbled upon this webinar and why I was smiling–the Universe had answered me–the liminal state is the in-between I’d been thinking about. When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Liminal space experiences are often associated with dealing with death, illness, divorce, pregnancy, job loss–major life changes–and…world events like COVID-19. Each of us is living in a liminal space at this very moment. It’s a threshold, the space in between, where we look back to what was and look ahead to the possibilities of what may come to pass. Well, I love it.

A quick Google search on liminal spaces brought up podcasts, essays, books, album titles, and articles on the subject. Often the liminal space can feel disruptive and cause us to feel restless and confused. Artists and writers go into liminal states during the creative process. This is fascinating and getting better and better. Thank you, Universe, I’m excited to gain more understanding.

I wish you all a good morning. I’m off to check the garden babies and to see about putting together a new, three-tier garden doohicky (my third vegetable plot). It arrived disassembled with 78 screws…oh joy. It’s supposed to rain all next week, which is perfect writing weather, so I need to get this done today.

Be well and stay 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. She 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 a lot of pride and allows her to write full time. Eleanor is in quarantine with a Chihuahua named Sophie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

May 11, 2020

young woman using laptop at home
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

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

 

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

May 6-7, 2020

american oval signage
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Pandemic Diary: On Worry, Time, and Garden Teepees

May 3, 2020

black twin bell alarm desk clock on table
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Hello, I hope you and yours are well.

I checked my calendar and it appears I’ve been in lockdown since March 9, going on two months now. Time doesn’t hold the same meaning for me as before. Sometimes, the fluidity of the day can feel liberating, challenging, and at times, puzzling. I have no appointments, nowhere to be, so I’m able to concentrate fully on one projects, or work on two or three projects during the day. One thing I know for sure: I’m getting a lot more done at home (inside and outside) and I’m more organized with my writing time than ever before. Not always creative…but certainly more organized. This is due to a need to control my world amidst this chaotic pandemic and to warmer days. When things go out of whack, it’s normal to hold on tight and control everything in our lives, and sunny days and warmer temperatures are just wonderful, period. I go outside and immediately feel better.

In March, most of us felt alone, worried, and frightened, followed by fear and confusion in April. For some, the month brought anger and frustration. At the beginning of this month (I realize it’s only the 4th), I finally felt a sense of control over my personal world–I know what I’m doing in regard to food, medications, and my time. And it really helps to know what my kids are doing about their necessities and work schedules, as well.

Then unfortunately, all that positivity and slightly anemic certainty went down the toilet after reading the new White House statistics of how many Americans will contract the disease and how many will die from the novel coronavirus. Damn, I hope they’re wrong. But with states reopening…I’m leaning towards those numbers and I hate it.

Tonight my heart sank after reading a lead scientist said he doesn’t think we’ll ever have a vaccine for COVID-19. That’s NOT what I want to hear, mister. Don’t quote that man again. Now I’m worried. I believe it may be time to take a break from the news…again.

Off to dig in the garden to take my mind off la bestia, La cabRona.

Be well and stay safe.

Eleanor x

***

herd of hen
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April 4, 2020

Good morning, I hope you are well and that you’re able to get out for a bit of fresh air today. That always helps to put my mind straight and to instill hope during this precarious time. I’m choosing to be positive today. Let’s see how long that lasts, smile.

I marvel at the synchronicity of writing about my interest in raising chickens (in the city, no less) and learning that American writer Alice Walker (The Color Purple) keeps a journal and raises chickens. Her chicken journal was published as a memoir called The Chicken Chronicles: a memoir. What a fun tidbit of information about one of my favorite writers. I ordered a copy of The Chicken Chronicles (shockingly out of print) and an old collection of Lewis Sinclair novels (Babbit, It Can’t Happen Here, and Main Street), highly recommended by my son and new titles for me. I’m glad for online booksellers such as AbeBooks and Biblio, who sell out-of-print or hard-to-find books. Amazon is making money hand over fist during this pandemic, so I avoid them as much as possible in order to support local bookstores, as well. As much as possible. That seems to sum up where we are today with social distancing and following stay-at-home orders–most of us are doing our part and as much as we can.

As our lives change in fundamental ways few of us foresaw, trying to access and purchase familiar food and other items is becoming more difficult, and for far too many people in this country and around the world, it’s nearly impossible. Children are going to sleep hungry, kitchen pantries are empty, and lines of cars at food pantries are longer than long. It is shocking and reprehensible this is happening in one of the world’s richest countries. We can no longer ignore the inequalities that wealth and privilege cause and exacerbate throughout the world. Things must change and I pray we get rid of 45 in November. We can do our part by supporting food pantries, soup kitchens, local farms, restaurants, and small businesses that are feeding our neighbors and people across America.

My son and his girlfriend suggested ways to support my hairdresser and local nail salon–by buying gift certificates and paying for my appointments ahead of time until I can make my way back. I love their ideas.

I miss my morning drive to buy coffee and newspapers, but I really miss my monthly trips to visit my daughter, my family, and friends in the DC area. I hope to visit them soon…wearing a mask and practicing safe distancing…which no one on my street is doing. Not a soul wears a mask and they continue to congregate on porches, back yards, and on sidewalks. If my neighbors thought I was a curious woman before this pandemic, a writer who loves to garden and lives with a Chihuahua, they must really think I’m a true eccentric now as I do wear a mask, even in the garden. Whatever, smile.

food hands woman beans
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Over the weekend, my daughter in Northern Virginia sent photographs of her first apple pie made from scratch and the hydrangeas and lavender plants she and her boyfriend bought for their yard. She’s a great cook and I love that she’s baking again. My son and his girlfriend are cooking up a storm in Bangkok and learning how to bake cookies without an oven. They have a great wok, however, and access to the most amazing fruits and vegetables. All that’s required for Mom to be happy is for her children and their loves to remain safe and happy.

On Saturday, I watched YouTube videos on how to build simple bamboo teepees and A-frame supports out of various materials for climbing beans and cucumbers. Vertical gardening makes perfect sense to me and I love the idea of building anything simple and utilitarian. My impatient nature had me rummaging through the garden shed for bamboo poles and wooden spikes to use in the garden instead of purchasing them online and waiting until next month or longer for them to arrive. Success. Yesterday, I built three A-frame supports out of seven, 6-foot bamboo poles. I’m thrilled with the results. Building the supports gave me the idea of digging a second garden plot next to the first. I have high hopes for the garden, less grass to mow, and I’m having fun researching canning equipment for a bountiful harvest. My sore muscles “tell” me how out of shape I am after a long winter and from living the writing life (sitting way too much), but digging in the garden always helps.

Later this afternoon, I’ll work on my novel-in-progress, The Laments. That’s when I travel back in time to 1927 Puerto Rico and get lost in the words and the world I created for my wonderful, beautifully-flawed characters.

Make some art, you’ll feel better.

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 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.

 

 

 

 

 

What We Can Learn From 1918 Influenza Diaries and The Importance of Keeping a Journal Today

April 30, 2020

Good morning. I hope you and yours are safe and healthy.

grayscale photo of women sitting on a folding chair
Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexels.com

By 9 o’clock this morning, I’d had my coffee, fed Sophie, and checked in with my kids, family members, and a few friends. I checked on the seedlings in the garden that seem happy on this rainy day and it feels much warmer. I hope that trend continues, the warmer part, I mean. Sophie is taking her morning nap on a hygge kind of day.

I’ve always needed to connect with my loved ones to continue with my day on a positive note, now more than ever. You can interpret that any way you like, smile. I’ve always had strong connections with my loved ones. I live alone and remember, I’m living through this plague in solo quarantine. I know grown men who’ve admitted they couldn’t do it, smile.

As I put on my dad’s gray sweater and began working on my work-in-progress (WIP), I felt something was amiss, felt ‘off’. I had an idea of what it might be. Since the start of the current pandemic, it’s been my routine and new habit to write a daily blog post or two (I haven’t shared all I’ve written). In the beginning, I wrote my Morning Pages, three pages in longhand (I’m a devotee of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron), and I wrote a daily blog post, but that changed. Often my blog posts are my Morning Pages. If I begin my workday writing and editing my WIP, it feels as if I’ve left my home without brushing my teeth. So, here I am once again.

What convinced me to continue with this pandemic journal or quarantine diary, if you like, are several quotes from a saved article from Smithsonian Magazine, which I’ve read numerous times, “What We Can Learn From 1918 Influenza Diaries” by Meilan Solly. I’ve written about the article in previous blog posts.

(** I need someone to teach me how to insert a link to an old post in a new post. If you can help me, please leave me a comment, thanks!)

Here are a few quotes from the above article that spoke to me this morning:

“Lora Vogt of the National WWI Museum and Memorial, “Just write,” giving yourself permission to describe, “what you’re actually interested in, whether that’s your emotions, [the] social media or whatever it is that you’re watching on Netflix.”

man sitting on handrails
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An important quote:

“Nancy Bristow, author of American Pandemic: The Last Worlds Of The 1918 Influenza Epidemic, advises writers to include specific details that demonstrate how “they fit into the world and…the pandemic itself,” from demographic information to assessment of the virus’ impact in both the public and personal spheres. Examples of relevant topics include the economy; political messaging; level of trust in the government and media; and discussion of “what’s happening in terms of relationships with family and friends, neighbors and colleagues.”

This quote spoke to me as I continue to share my thoughts, disappointment, frustration, and yes, anger, at the government’s early mess-ups, lies, and misinformation campaigns that many of my close friends share and are vocal about, as well. We should write about it all–the good, the bad, and the ugly. And about the hopeful, joyful, and simple pleasures we’ve discovered about living in quarantine. Now is not the time to be insanely positive each and every day; that’s asking too much in my humble opinion. Life just isn’t like that, shit happens. We’re living through a plague, for goodness sake. Not all days will be positive and uplifting, but we should share them, as well as the good days.

From the author of the article:

“Though much has changed since 1918, the sentiments shared in writings from this earlier pandemic are likely to resonate with modern readers–and, in doing so, perhaps offer a jumping-off point for those navigating similar situations today.”

“…quotidian topics still manage to hold our attention 100 years later, a testament to the value of writing organically.” This is the quote that convinced me to keep writing daily posts on my The Writing Life blog.

grayscale photo of woman having breakfast
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

We are living in a historic time. We are record keepers. We are historians.  We are still here. We must keep writing and sharing our thoughts, even if at times, we believe no one is reading. For those of us living in solo quarantine, I believe what we are experiencing is damn interesting and worth sharing. Big hugs for us for getting through each day.

Thank you for visiting and for your comments. I appreciate every single one and I always reply.

Now I’m ready to get back to my work-in-progress. I’m re-reading each chapter and editing as I go (again!). I think this might be the 30th of 50th time, but when you’re passionate about words and stories, and a little bit nuts, the number is of little importance.

Be well and stay 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. 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.

 

 

 

 

On Current News, Editing, and Chihuahua Kisses

April 29, 2020

rewrite edit text on a typewriter
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Good morning, I hope you and yours are well. It’s a beautiful, sunny day in my neighborhood.

For parents who are wondering if it’s safe to send their kids back to school, consider this, the House of Representatives canceled plans to return to Washington next week, citing coronavirus safety concerns. Always watch what people do, not always what they say.

This morning, the US exceeded 1M confirmed cases of coronavirus. It’s unbelievable news and shocking. Yesterday Trump said: “Now that the experts believe that the worst days are behind us, Americans are looking forward to the safe and rapid reopening of our country.” These days it’s difficult to know who to believe. I believe science, doctors, nurses, and health care workers currently in the trenches. You should, too. God bless them all.

A few days ago, I discussed the President and the Pandemic (sounds like a movie title) with my friend. Right from the start, we disagreed. Since the start of his presidency, my friend supported most of Trump’s decisions. I didn’t. She said it all depends on who you watch, referring to what news network you choose for information. True enough. We ended the conversation in agreement that the US was unprepared for this pandemic and dragged its feet early on when time and action were critical. I added that Trump ignored intel briefings about the novel coronavirus in January and February. She repeated that it depends on who you watch for news. Yes, we are still on speaking terms, and the fact that we agreed on anything 45-related is a big step forward.

Yesterday, Pence refused to adhere to a mandatory mask order during a visit to the Mayo Clinic. He visited with staff and patients…in their rooms…in close contact…not wearing a mask. He spoke with vulnerable sick people without a mask. Explain to me how that’s not the ultimate, blatant disregard for human life. It’s difficult not to add multiple expletives here. What a jerk.

During my video chat with my endocrinologist, she reminded me I had a severe case of bronchitis in Feb-April and ordered me to get tested for coronavirus. I now have a number to call to set up an appointment for a drive-thru test, but I haven’t called. I don’t know which test it would be, but if it’s the test I call the “into the brain” test, I won’t like that one bit. I haven’t decided if a two-month-long cough is worth going out for, but I know how fortunate I am to be offered a test. I’m leaning toward waiting for the antibody test unless my symptoms become worse. I just can’t imagine going out right now.

My new concern is that an adorable Pug tested positive for COVID-19, the poor little guy. I worry I might have had COVID-19 because a week ago, my Chihuahua had a croupy kind of cough for a few days. She was still eating, drinking, and running around like a little heathen, and this week, she’s doing great. I’m always bugging Sophie with hugs and kisses. She would not be a happy pup if I didn’t allow her to sleep with me.

The best part of yesterday was speaking with my new editor. I love how that sounds! We hit it off and I feel she is the right editor for me. She answered all my questions and offered lots of editing and price options. I chose a developmental edit. I’m giving myself a week to ten days to send her a clean manuscript, and after a cursory first read, she will inform me of the price of the edit. I’m very excited! It’s a step forward to getting my novel THE LAMENTS into reader’s hands.

Understandably, I won’t be sharing blog posts until the manuscript has left the building. I will, however, share my coronavirus test results if I decide to go in. I like the thought of knowing I contracted COVID-19 and survived.

Be well and stay 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. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is 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 a lot of pride and allows her to write full time.

 

 

 

Working From Home: Quarantine and Gardening

March 24, 2020

Morning thoughts.

variety of vegetables
Photo by Ella Olsson

How can the president possibly consider relaxing safety precautions that could save hundreds of thousands of lives in this country? Lunacy. Greed.

An uncontrolled pandemic will help no one and certainly, not our economy. We must pass an economic stimulus package that works for everyone, not just big business. But Trump needs to enact the Defense Production Act now. The Federal government must act now to protect our doctors, nurses, and health care workers.

As of last night, the number of confirmed cases and deaths in China, South Korea, and Italy appeared to be going down. God willing, the reports are true, and the numbers continue to drop. The numbers in the US, however, are increasing dramatically in many states, 25,000 confirmed virus cases in New York and 210 deaths.

Hang tight, please stay home. We might have a long wait ahead (some health experts say five or six weeks could dramatically reduce the spread), we will worry, and we will continue to grieve for those who’ve died around the world.

One day, this will end. Never lose hope and do your part–stay home, it will save lives. I pray you can stay home and that you practice social distancing (and wear a mask) if you must go out. Prayers for the world.

And to bat-shit crazy Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who suggested he and all grandparents would be willing to die for our economy—speak for yourself, loony tunes. What are these Republicans on? Our vulnerable and senior Americans are not expendable in the context of the economy!

I’m hanging in there. A little jittery this morning after watching Governor Andrew Cuomo’s press conference (he’s doing an amazing job!), and definitely stressed after the Coronavirus task force briefing. Ugh. He wants to open our country by Easter on April 12? Insanity. It’s no surprise I’m grinding my teeth at night; it actually woke me up. I must find my mouthguard…

I felt immensely better when the truck from Lowe’s pulled up to deliver seven large bags of soil and my new three-tier, wood planter that joins the 8×8 garden plot. Later in the day, I received my 30 seed packets in the mail. Yes, I received my shipment and mail wearing a mask and gloves. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so I’ll be writing and will begin getting my hands dirty, I mean my gloves dirty Thursday morning. Can’t wait to begin.

Take good care of yourself, your family, and those you come into contact with during this pandemic. Be safe. Be kind. Be grateful. Be merciful.

 

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Me in March 2020

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.