“It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.” ~ Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)
Oh, hello! Didn’t mean to be rude, but I only just noticed you. 🙂
We’re finally back at ye ole’ blog, and I’ve missed you. Hope you’re safe and well. Before we have a little chin wag, see if this poem doesn’t describe how things have felt for you lately.
ON THE OTHER SIDE
by Lynn Ungar
Through the looking glass,
down the rabbit hole,
into the wardrobe and out
into the enchanted forest
where animals talk
and danger lurks and nothing
works quite the way it did before,
you have fallen into a new story.
It is possible that you
are much bigger — or smaller —
than you thought.
It is possible to drown
in the ocean of your own tears.
It is possible that mysterious friends
have armed you with magical weapons
you don’t yet understand,
but which you will need
to save your own life and the world.
Everything here is foreign.
Nothing quite makes sense.
That’s how it works.
Do not confuse the beginning
of the story with the end.
It’s now been about six months since life as we knew it was suddenly upended. Crazy, scary, unbelievable times.
Up is down, down is up.
Do you feel like you’ve been in freefall too — spinning, confused, worried, frustrated, unable to focus?
Each day there’s a new challenge, yet another outrage, another reason to adjust and readjust as we try to navigate this neverending nightmare. Choppy waters, impossible mountains to climb, crawling through broken glass, drowning in a pool of tears, you name it.
As Ungar’s poem suggests, we now find ourselves stuck in the middle of a strange story we never chose to be a part of, one we couldn’t have imagined in our wildest dreams. Talk about dystopia.
Because all bets are off, we’ve been forced to make things up as we go. We shop, eat, clean, communicate and connect differently. Companies have changed how they do business. Educators have had to ramp up their superpowers to refine remote learning. Families have set new parameters for work, play, and privacy as they strive for peaceful coexistence. Frontline workers of every stripe, from healthcare employees to delivery people to grocery store clerks, now routinely risk their lives.
We’re all mad here.
We don’t take much for granted anymore either, not healthcare, safety, financial security, mobility, dependable mail delivery, truth in reporting, or that anchor of steadiness, predictability.
I find anti-maskers sadly foreign with their defiant denial, business-as-usual selfish behavior, and sheer lack of respect or caring for other human beings. A simple act can help save lives. Shouldn’t that be a no brainer? I keep wondering what happens when they get sick. Do they see a real doctor or call up the My Pillow guy?
Off with their heads!
New buzz words: Zoom, social distancing, quarantine, rapid results testing, contactless delivery, curbside pickup.
Pipe dreams: shaking hands, hugging, airline travel and vacations, anxiety-free restaurant dining, concerts and sporting events, a classroom full of happy, chattering, maskless kids.
Curiouser and curiouser.
More and more, we realize we have to be the heroes in our own stories. After all, it’s a time when finding yeast or toilet paper at the store is a small victory, when getting your hair cut is an act of bravery.
So how are you finding balance and staying sane? There is simply no right or wrong way to cope. We all do the best we can, armed with a personal cache of magical weapons.
For me it’s been all about following a simple daily routine, staying positive and expressing gratitude.
And there’s a lot to be thankful for, mainly, that I have the option and privilege of staying home. I know there are social animals out there who are struggling with self isolation, but I’ve never been one of them. As an introspective writer and homebody, I’ve had years of intense training — thriving in solitude, cultivating patience, living on hope.
I’ve come to appreciate the things I’ve always loved even more, and in this time of quiet “slow down,” I’ve read more books, listened to more music, watched more films, and discovered many inspiring, new-to-me artists. Immersing myself in the good and the beautiful has been the best antidote for anxiety, stress and uncertainty.
Of course my main fallback strategy is a jolly good British fix, as in:
♥️ Jenny Colgan books. I know I’m late to the game, but Colgan’s books (escapist, romantic, charming) are easy to love and just what the doctor ordered. I’m currently reading the Little Beach Bakery books, which are set in Cornwall with a foodie theme. Main character, Polly, has a pet puffin named Neil. Can you smell that fresh rosemary focaccia baking? 🙂
♥️ Ricky Gervais. Whaaa??!! This one came as a big surprise. I knew him mainly from his ballsy, sometimes cringe worthy gigs hosting the Golden Globes. Irreverent humor that made the stars squirm in their seats. But then I watched several of his black comedy TV series: “Extras,” “Dexter,” and “After Life,” as well as his stand-up show, “Humanity.” Wowed by his chops as writer, actor, producer, and director. His dramatic scenes are very touching. Who knew? My excuse: living on the wrong side of the pond. His podcasts/YouTube lockdown chats are good too. The guy is just so real (interesting accent too).
♥️ Lady Colin Campbell. Though she’s written extensively about the royals, I have yet to read any of her books. But — I’ve been watching her YouTube channel, which is quite informative and entertaining. Currently, her son Misha co-hosts, passing on viewer questions. Lady C seems to relish dishing the dirt on Harry and Meghan (her latest book about them was just released in July). Her British accent and studied elocution are positively mesmerizing. Who knows for sure if what she says is true? The allure is that she keeps you guessing.
♥️ The English Game. Netflix historical sports drama 6-part miniseries developed by Julian Fellowes. Tall, hot British guys running around a soccer field in the 1870s (need I say more?) 🙂 Did you know British football was originally played only by wealthy upper crust types? True story about what happened when an amateur team recruited two working class players, helping them win the FA Cup for the first time. This changed the game forever, as professional players were subsequently allowed to participate. Can’t say I’m a big soccer fan, but well, Julian Fellowes! . . . and aforementioned hot British guys. 🙂
♥️ Elton John’s Autobiography. Ever since seeing “Rocketman” last year, I was keen to learn more about Elton’s life. I’ve known bits and pieces here and there, but it was interesting having him describe all the mayhem and madness in his own words. Truly, it’s amazing he’s still alive and was able to survive his drug and alcohol addictions. Rock biographies/autobiographies are a longstanding guilty pleasure. Did you know Elton and Rod Stewart have pet names for each other (Phyllis and Sharon)? Yeah, I live for this stuff. See also: “Elton John: Uncensored” on Prime Video.
♥️ Colin Firth Movies. I’m always surprised at how many Colin movies I’ve yet to see/have never heard of. He has quite an oeuvre! This summer I saw three of his oldies, “A Single Man,” “Genova/A Summer in Genoa,” and “The Mercy,” as well as his latest, “The Secret Garden” (more on that in my next post). Also watched “The King’s Speech” and “Bridget Jones” again. Someday I’ll sit down for “Valmont,” “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and “Easy Virtue.” So many films, so little time . . .
Hope and Happy Things
Perhaps you’re wondering what Mr Cornelius and his cohorts have been up to all this time.
Well, he’s been welcoming special friends (don’t worry, they were all pre-tested before entering the Alphabet Soup kitchen). 🙂
We were absolutely thrilled when Dr. Fauci Bobblehead dropped by. Cornelius had “invited” him way back in April, and with his very busy schedule, it took the good doctor until July before he was able to squeeze us in.
Man, he was certainly worth waiting for. Briefed us on the latest in vaccine development, and assured us he would continue to do podcast interviews, etc., even though the WH has largely sidelined him from mainstream TV.
We had a good laugh over his throwing out the first pitch of the MLB season at Nationals Park. Ever since, he’s been consulting with Paddington Catcher for tips so he can do better next time.
And then . . . when we thought it couldn’t get any more exciting, Vice President Biden joined us!
You may remember when Kamala visited us last Fall; we were rooting for her as she campaigned to be the Presidential nominee. Well now, of course, she’s running for Vice President and we’re positively ecstatic!
Such a great team. We love these two, as they are so down to earth in addition to being eminently qualified to be our next President and Vice President. We’re starving and desperate for good leadership — elected officials with decency, empathy, and compassion. For the first time in ages, I have renewed hope that all is not lost.
Mr Cornelius was star struck, and after sharing some treats with his special guests, they all had a lively discussion about the most pressing issues.
While this was happening — DING DONG!! — someone ELSE came calling (never a dull moment around here).
Imagine our surprise at seeing Dr. Fauci Plush at the door! Oh my, oh my. Since we truly believe one can never have too many Dr. Fauci’s in the house, we invited him in and practically hugged him to death.
Little Lulu and Ramona were especially taken with him, listening carefully as he explained the proper way to wear a mask. There were plenty more hugs all around and with him here, everyone now feels calmer, safer, more centered (he’s very cuddly and his hair is SO soft!).
He did remind us not to let our guard down, because even though some fools think the pandemic is over and like to pretend we can all go back to our pre-pandemic lives, that is simply not true.
It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.
This topsy turvy story, he says, has just begun. How it ends comes down to all of us — working together, on the same team, to defeat this invisible enemy. The powerful virus has already killed or sickened far too many, and it’s made us feel small and humbled. But collectively, our actions can have a big impact if we listen to the health experts, believe in science and data, and resolve to play the long game, rather than succumb to impatience for short term gratification.
And so the plot thickens with the upcoming election, voter rights, racial injustice, natural disasters, and a nation divided. We will see many more subplots, evil characters, everyday heroes, conflicts, rising and falling actions.
But right side up, masked up, and side by side, we can do this. Wishing everyone a good autumn, especially educators, parents and students, whether you’re braving in-person school or doing remote learning. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we can all step through the looking glass and find a safer, healthier, more equitable and peaceful world.
Welcome back, and thanks for being here as we enter our 14th year here at Alphabet Soup. We look forward to more delicious adventures with our new best friends Joey, Kamala and Tony. As always, there’s a special place at our table just for you. 🙂
Do not confuse the beginning
of the story with the end.
♥️ New and Notable:
JOEY: The Story of Joe Biden
written by Dr. Jill Biden with Kathleen Krull
illustrated by Amy June Bates
published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, June 2020
Picture Book Biography for ages 4+, 48 pp.
KAMALA HARRIS: Rooted in Justice
written by Nikki Grimes
illustrated by Laura Freeman
published by Atheneum BFYR, August 2020
Picture Book Biography for ages 4+, 40 pp.
♥️ Feel Good Takeaway: Dr. Fauci Interview on BrainPOP News. He’s especially adorable as he talks to kids about the pandemic. Don’t miss the Five Trivia Questions at the end. Lots of smiles (you will love him even more)!
The lovely and talented Carol Varsalona is hosting the Roundup at Beyond LiteracyLink. Pop over there to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served around the blogosphere this week. Have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend!
Copyright © 2020 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.