Sunday, April 26, 2020

Tucson, AZ: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 17: Laundry Economics Revisited

At the laundromat. El Paso, Texas. February 2019.

As a renter who lives in budget apartments that don't include washers and dryers, I use communal laundry facilities. Fortunately, all of my domestic apartment choices thus far have included facilities on-site.

It was in 2013, when I lived in Lafayette, Louisiana, that I first learned some lessons about laundry economics. This was the first time in my domestic rootless life when I had to pay to use a washer and dryer.

Not mentioned in that 2013 post about laundry economics was another lesson I learned. I remember clearly the elation I felt upon this discovery. Which was: Buy more pairs of underwear! What a eureka moment!

Underwear takes up so little space and is so light! By having more pairs of underwear, I could extend the number of days without having to do laundry! I don fresh underwear each day, and although I could handwash it, I don't want the hassle. I do feel okey-dokey about wearing external clothing three, or maybe even four times, before tossing it into the laundry bin. (Since COVID keeps me home most days, four times is common.)

So now enter COVID.

There are two laundry facilities in my apartment complex.

One day, in March, the managers suddenly closed the facilities due to COVID!

They directed tenants to nearby(ish) laundromats.

To protect tenants and apartment management staff.


Diverting tenants from a relatively low-traffic, on-site facility to one that would be often filled with customers? And where one must hang about said laundromat until the laundry was complete, thereby extending the duration of exposure to and from others?  It was a decision that would result in greater danger of exposure to tenants (and to other Tucsonans), rather than less.

And what about the tenants who had no transportation? Or single-parent tenants with young children, who would have to schlep their kiddos to the laundromats, putting them at greater risk for contagion? 

Fortunately, after (I assume) some consternation expressed by tenants (including me), the management sought and found processes to protect both tenants and office staff, and they re-opened the on-site facilities some days later.

But the closure prompted me to consider strategies to change my usual practice of once-a-week, one-load laundry work to every other week.

I counted out my underwear. Twelve.

I have bought six more pairs of underwear.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Tucson, AZ: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 16: COVID Artwork

COVID art: Ethiopian Orthodox Easter. Tentative artist: Habesha Expat. April 2020.

The friend of an Ethiopian friend posted the Habesha Expat (fka as Habesha in Dubai) image on a social media site several days ago. I was really taken with the marriage of culture and message in the artwork.

Below is a forlorn Mother Georgia stuck at home. It made me laugh out loud. 

Mother Georgia quarantining at home. Artist unknown. Source: I Am Tbilisi. March 2020.

Another art piece via I Am Tbilisi, a picture of a mural by artist Gagosh:

"Less Than 2m," a mural by artist Gagosh. Source: I Am Tbilisi. April 2020.

Via the Washington Post to the Art-Eater (Richmond Lee) Twitter account to the Tensor Chan Twitter account, there is this work on the Ghana Pallbearers' meme, in which the message is: Stay home or dance with us:

COVID art: Stay at home or dance with us. Tentative artist: Tensor Chan. April 2020.

And another take on the Ghana pallbearers below from Yuki Geriawan aka

COVID art: Stay at home or the music starts. Artist: Yuki Geriawan aka anzuarden_art. April 2020.

Additions subsequent to original post:

COVID Facebook meme. Artist unknown. May 2020.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Tucson, AZ: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 15: Mind in Detention

Old jail. Columbus, New Mexico. April 2013.

There's a 12-step aphorism: Never venture into your head alone; it's a dangerous neighborhood. 

In this stay-at-home time, there are advantages to being an introvert queen in her queendom of one.  Especially a queen who has sufficient resources to stay in touch with family and friends via her phone and the internet, income to pay her bills and buy groceries, a vehicle to get to the grocery store, and power to keep herself cool as the Sonoran Desert heat ramps up.

The queen is also resourceful in finding myriad ways to amuse herself and in glamping her nest with soothing smells, sounds, and visual treats.

Nevertheless, there is danger in spending too long alone.

Old jail. Columbus, New Mexico. April 2013.

One's interior world can telescope with the loss of stimuli from:
  • Adventures in the outdoors - movies, dancing, hiking, museums, cafe lurking, meals with friends, family gatherings, new books, driving around, neighbor chats
  • Entertaining or provocative stories told to us by our friends and family
  • A diversity of news content
  • Tactile contact with others, whether platonic hugs, professional massage, haircuts, or sensual touch with a partner

Old jail. Columbus, New Mexico. April 2013.

One's interior world can shrink when every day: 
  • One is subjected to verbal and emotional abuse from a dry-drunk tyrant who drinks the teardrops of women, men, and children for his sustenance; and
  •  The media are the abuser's enablers - delivering every assault by eyewitness video, by written quote, by Greek chorus, by analysis - regardless of their so-called journalistic credentials, ethics, political or social biases, or revenue venality. In other words, none of the news organs gets to claim a higher moral ground on their collaboration in the abuse.  

It is not much different from living in a household with such an abuser, who is the center around which everyone revolves, always in reaction mode. Or in walking-on-eggshells mode, so as not to provoke an attack.

It is like watching, unwillingly, the video of that plane crash into the World Trade Center building again and again and again and again and again and again and again. [Trigger warning: This video is still so shocking; think carefully before choosing to click on the video link. I am not kidding.]

Old jail. Columbus, New Mexico. April 2013.

I've witnessed - outside of COVID - how some of us allow our worlds to become smaller and smaller, and we enclose ourselves in a dim cell, swaddled in fear and suspicion and darkness. But feeling safe, perhaps.

Old jail. Columbus, New Mexico. April 2013.

I don't intend to fall into that camp, whether it be in the time of COVID or as I age further. 

The light is what I seek. And this requires both decision and action on my part to keep it bright before me.

But glory be, some days are harder than others.

Art in the Park, Old Missouri State Penitentiary, Jefferson City, Missouri. February 2006.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Tucson, AZ: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 14: Plans --> Pouf!

Dandelion seed head. Source: Wikimedia. Photo credit: Greg Hume

My original plan was to leave Tucson at the end of this month - the end of April.

My original plans for this summer were grand!
  • A 20-year commemorative road trip to Alaska.
  • A road trip with my mom. 
  • A week's trip each with my youngest descendants, one of which is to Washington, D.C.
  • A circuitous recon romp through spots in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi to scope out potential spots for my next year-in-residence. 
  • Leisurely visits with friends in New Mexico. 

My original plans are ....... pouf! Scatter shot like an aerosol blast of pollen from a dandelion seed head. Or virus.

As COVID's tendrils wickered through our populations, I thought, OK, maybe the Alaskan road trip isn't realistic. I'll be so ready to emerge from my cave, comfy though it is, wanting to trade hundreds of contemplative solo miles for social connections. Instead I thought: Maybe by summer there'll be an all-clear that will bring outrageously affordable plane fares to faraway places. Vietnam, maybe! South Korea! Romania! Maybe this was the year for Rwanda! A door of possibilities opened!!

Delaying Tucson departure

In March, I peered into the future and tried to guesstimate when COVID would peak in various locations. Realistically, I thought, things in my target recon trip aren't going to peak before mid-April, at least. So if I left in April as originally planned, I'd probably just have to find a new hidey-hole.

Several options presented themselves to me until I asked myself: Why leave a perfectly good hidey-hole where I've already got things set up for my comfort? And in which I am the queen of my own little queendom of one?

My landlords and I were mutually happy to extend the lease another month.

Now, where after Tucson?

 In the moment I'm writing this, I don't have a fucking clue.

At the end of May, I believe things will still be dicey in many locations. At the moment, I'm only thinking about the month of June.

My assumptions

  1. It will not be safe to take that trip to D.C. in June with my descendant. (BTW: He is graduating from high school this year. Only there won't be a graduation ceremony in May as originally planned. BTW: And one of my nieces cancelled her original wedding arrangements for June, postponing them til June 2021.)
  2. Wherever I decide to go, it will be east of Arizona, as this gets me closer to my year-in-residence candidates and other summer plans that might be possible to resuscitate. 
  3. There may still be restrictions on what we can do and where we can go, so choosing a destination because of, for example, its BC (Before COVID) music and dance scene is likely to disappoint.

Do I want to work in June? If yes:

Deal-breaker: Needs to be a place with reliable, fast internet access. Libraries (which usually have decent internet access) may still be closed in June in most communities, so that means that my home needs to have the requisite internet access. Given how "developed" and "First World" the US alleges to be, it's absurd how many US homes with internet have sucky internet or phone service. (What's that you say? You want an example for comparison? OK. Almost a DECADE ago, I had phone service in Ethiopia no matter where I was, from big city to a spot in the middle of nowheresville. And, oh yeah, they had solar phone chargers, too.)

Option 1: Rent a room from a friend eastward of Arizona who has fast, reliable internet. Not all of my delightful friends have the requisite internet capacity. Also, the friend-potential landlord needs to be willing to bring in a possible contaminator (me) to their infection-free bubble. And we each need to feel comfortable with the other's behaviors in mitigating infection threats when we leave the bubble.

Option 2: Motels might offer drastically-reduced rates to month-long guests such that I could afford to hang out in one.

Option 3: I can likely find an airbnb-like arrangement through friends-and-friends-of-friends (FFF?) and craigslist inquiries. (I say airbnb-like because I divorced actual airbnb.)

If I go the motel or airbnb-like route, I'm considering Livingston, Texas, in Polk County. This is my new hometown, after all. Living there for a month will build my domicile cred. I can get a library card, visit a dentist (if offices are open and feel safe to me), and use that as a base for day trips to two places on my recon route for year-in-residence candidates. 

Do I want to work in June? If no:

An attractive proposition is a camping spot in a place that isn't too hot, and which, ideally, has some amenities that are functioning, such as: at least a pit toilet, access to clean water, access to electricity for charging devices, and enough cellular bars to make phone calls possible.

Polk County, Texas, remains a possible candidate for this scenario. There are some nearby state and national park lands. Whether their campgrounds (and any of the campground amenities) will be open in June is a question mark.

Today, I know nothing about what June will bring. However, it is something to have the beginnings of an outline of a pre-plan.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Tucson, AZ: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 13: First 3 Things I Want to Do AC

Tequila overlooking Antigua, Guatemala. April 2016.

AC --> After Corona.

Seven Springs Winery, Missouri. October 2009.

The top three things I want to do within days of AC are:
  1. Pedicure
  2. Massage
  3. Get happy-drunk with a friend or two, which is, to say, not sloppy or stupid drunk, just a little happy drunk

Traditiona wine accoutrement, Kachreti, Kakheti, Caucasus Georgia. September 2011.

We must do what we can to revive the economy, n'est pas?

Wine in Signaghi, Kakheti, Caucasus Georgia, at Pheasant's Tears Winery. April 2012.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Creative Life: A Love Note For a Waning Moon

My mom in the arms of her mom. 1930.

I'm thinking of my mom today. Her baby sister died last week. Due to COVID, a memorial service will not occur until an as-yet-undetermined date.

My mom's closest brother - her confidant - died a couple of years ago, maybe less. She and her brother could talk about things my mom didn't want to talk about with her adult kids. My mom misses him terribly.

My mom isn't one to express her fears too much. She doesn't like to show her soft underbelly to others. From her mother, she learned the gruff family motto: "Never show the white feather."

The first time my mom faced cancer, which resulted in surgery and chemo, I pointed out, so helpfully, that there were cancer support groups at the hospital. She could talk with other people who walked in the same shoes as she, deriving strength and solace from each other. "Pfft," she sniffed in some disdain. "Why would I want to do that?"

A couple of years ago, my mom had no choice but to enter a hospital and then a rehab facility for a time. Which she loathed.

Sometimes I spent the night with her at the hospital or, later, at the rehab center. On several occasions, my mom said to me, "Come lay down beside me on the bed."  I did so, and I wrapped my arm around her torso, and I laid my head near her shoulder, knowing this was a rare privilege, indeed. Mostly, we just lay quietly, maybe while watching a TV show. I cherish those times.

Her light wanes.

I think of a poem I wrote at a past Tumblewords Project workshop. The leader that day, a poet named Rios de La Luz, walked us through a writing model called "corporeal writing," in which we focus on a part of our body, and how our bodies hold memories. One of the poems I wrote that day arose from childhood body-memories of how my mom would comfort me when I was ill.

As I Die

When I die.
No. As I die,
I want this:

The hand of a lover
On my brow,

Skimming slowly up my forehead,
Across the border of my hair
Atop the remnant of my infantile fontanel.

Pausing there, then
Sliding down the
Silkiness of my hair.

And again.
And again.

Like my mother did
When I was a toddler,
Maybe feverish or maybe
Just settling into a warm sleep.

Like I did for my daughter
As she leaned into me,
Pressed against my belly and my breast,
The rhythmic smoothing of her brow

Up and over,
Up and over.

Like past lovers did for me
As we lay in bed, under covers,
Quiet, thinking of nothing.
Sensing only, that tender instructive
Smoothing of my brow.

Up and over,
Up and over.

"This," I always thought,
"Is how I want it to be as I die."

I hope it's like this for my mom, when that time comes.

Related posts: Travels With Carol

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Tucson, AZ: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 12: An Opinion on Opinions

Newspaper in Gallup, New Mexico. May 2013.

My opinion on opinions: Henceforth, I have none. None on corona, is what I mean. To be more specific, none that move beyond my portable six-foot bubble.

Until yesterday, I floundered at the bottom of the bottomless swimming hole of everyone's opinions. They are everywhere. Inescapable. On my Washington Post (and before that, New York Times) news feed. On the Google News aggregate news feed. On social media. Some in-person acquaintances. 

To rescue myself from that pool, I dog-paddled my way to the surface, got the fuck out of the water, and shook myself off like said wet dog. 

We are in the midst of an enormous anthropological experiment. Most folks, including epidemiologists and other medical folks, are still learning on the job about what's happening medically.

Six months from now, and better yet, a year from now, we'll be able to look back and take note of what the hell happened, what helped, what didn't help, and what we need to learn from this for the next time.

Not that we - "we" being our respective societies - will actually apply any of our learning the next time, as competing interests will always come to the game and flip the board. It's more of an intellectually satisfying learning that will occur.

CDC's 2011 zombie preparedness campaign, which makes damn good sense in a creative way.

So until AC (After Corona) and the flurry of Important White Papers, I'll ignore the pandemic chatter. I'll excuse myself from any conversations about COVID's origin, its comparative virility and lethality, and treatments.

Instead, I'll:
  1. Make the most informed decisions I can by following subject matter experts (SMEs) that seem reliable, based on their past records of clinical rigor; 
  2. Follow the rules of the land I'm in re: physical distancing; 
  3. Take measures that "my" SMEs recommend to protect my health and the health of the souls who enter my physical orbit (even if the powers-that-be decide to open everything wide sooner than my SMEs recommend); and
  4. Be of assistance to some folks who need a kind word, a generous action, and cold cash. 

I feel relieved to let go of the debates, to let cool the inner turmoil that boils up when I see click-bait headlines, pimped not only by the usual trashy vendors of salacious stuff, but by the so-called venerable news organs.

This is self-care. 

Friday, April 3, 2020

Tucson, AZ: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 11: The Playlist

Sign at Vermilionville at Cajun Jam. Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013.

In addition to good smells, ginger beer, and recently, some sugar-free ketchup for my boiled potatoes, I have a stay-at-home COVID playlist.

My playlist is designed to shoot out endorphins, sending my spirits - if not soaring - at least a little levitational.

I listen during my food prep, as I slice jícama, chop lettuce, measure out an allotment of grapes, cut up strawberries. Or while I read. Or do a lil exercising. Or play a wan game of pseudo-Scrabble with a fairly smart bot.


From Halidon Music's channel:



On Saturday and Sunday mornings, streaming KRVS transports me to South Louisiana with:

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Flashback to 2014: Lafayette, Louisiana: The Sound Track

The South Louisiana soundtrack I've collected from my time in Lafayette and Opelousas is beloved by me. The music and the spirit accompany me on many a road trip. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lafayette: The Sound Track

You know how in a movie there's usually a soundtrack, right?

And you can love the soundtrack and even buy the soundtrack, but you know, of course, that soundtracks don't exist in real life. Because that's only in the movies.

Except in and around Lafayette. Here, there really is a soundtrack.

The soundtrack envelops me whenever I get into the car and comes by way of a local station such as KRVS - Radio Acadie. (An in-house KRVS concert video above, featuring one of my favorite zydeco musicians, Corey Ledet, on the accordion.)

Cajun and creole, la la, zydeco, swamp pop.

Picture it. Driving down a shaded street over which live oak limbs stretch, and in the spring, as it is now, azalea bushes at their peak of splashy color.

Passing shops with delectables by Poupart Bakery, T-Coon's, Chris' Po-boy, Jolie's Bistro.

Crawfish signs, signs for boudin and cracklin's.

Deep-porched, steep-pitched bungalows sitting atop cement blocks .... drawbridges

... and on the radio you hear English and French, and songs old and new that have you tapping the steering wheel to the beat of a waltz, a two-step, a jig, or the zydeco eight-count.

A real-life soundtrack.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Word of the Year 2020: Build 4: Chosens

Cabin, Bayou Segnette State Park, Louisiana. Pre-Katrina.

On Build thus far

Word of the Year 2020: Build 1
Word of the Year 2020: Build 2
Word of the Year 2020: Build 3: "House"

While drafting Build 3, I found the Psychology Today article, Finding Connection Through "Chosen" Family. A nice definition for chosen family that the author gleaned from another source: 

According to the SAGE Encyclopedia of Marriage, Family, and Couples Counseling, chosen families are non-biological kinship bonds, whether legally recognized or not, deliberately chosen for the purpose of mutual support and love.” The term originated within the LGBTQ community and was used to describe early queer gatherings like the Harlem Drag Balls of the late nineteenth century.

Perhaps this counseling term of art, "chosen family" - in vanilla US culture - arose from the specific history above, but humans have been creating chosen families since the beginning of time, I reckon.

Cabin, Leroy Percy State Park, Mississippi. December 2011.


For life lessons on how to age richly, I've got role models in friends and family members at least a decade older than me.

My role models have taught me how I do want to age and how I don't want to age.

How I do want to age is to carry a positive view on life and be engaged in life. If I were to put a 12-step spin on it, my aim is to be happy, joyous, and free. .... And, oh yeah: to maintain every right to self-determination for as long as I can.

What my positive role models for aging have in common:
  • Active participation in a circle of friends who give each other tangible and intangible support in difficult times
  • Active participation in a special-interest community that encourages relationship-building, such as one built around fun, service, faith, 12-step program, the arts, or activism, etc.  
  • A "yes" default setting - remaining open to, even seeking out, new ideas, music, arts, perspectives, and ways of doing things

Cow Cabin, Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas. March 2010.

What my negative role models for aging have in common: 
  • An insularity of thought, experiences, and relationships - in other words, they have chosen to live in a closed system that can only contract as time goes on, as the members of their restricted circle of intimates begin to die off or move or become unable to interact
  • A "no" default setting - a reluctance to engage with new people, experiences, or ideas
  • Inertia - being unwilling and, after a certain point, unable to take actions that might enrich their physical, mental, or spiritual selves

My positive role models have built, I don't know, let's say, additional "houses."

So many folks have fraught families of origin. If such is one's only "house," it is almost a sure thing to get sucked into a dystopian worldview.

Building additional "houses" gives us access to more ways of thinking about how to live a life, wisdom from others about how they dealt with problems we're dealing with in the present, reality testing from more neutral intimates than fraught family members, accountability buddies to keep us going with habits we're trying to adopt, and soft places to land when we feel overwhelmed.

The idea of building houses outside of my family's "house" is the antithesis of how I was raised. Throughout childhood, and even today, the message has been: All you need is your family.

Building houses for chosen families: I'm studying the blueprints these days.

Acadian-style cabin, Louisiana. July 2015.