Thursday, May 28, 2020

Now, if I could just magically be retired…

I have turned into that domestic goddess I always thought I ought to be.

Remember that second wind I was blathering on about last week? It’s still going. I’m still moving art around my house and painting the frames to a uniform color and finally getting the stuff together to create the little collage frame ratty memorials I keep saying I’m going to make and gluing wood bits together to make a necklace display with some old cabinet knobs I had my parents salvage from The Great Santa Barbara House Do-Over and painting that stupid-but-useful Mrs. Fields tin to a less eye-shattering color and, and, and…

I cleaned, re-planted, and re-stocked the fish tank. (My new betta is a beaut, by the way. And he’s angry as fuck. And I love him.)

I just made enchiladas. And I wore an apron while I did it.

I made a vat of curtido to go with them, too, which has been pickling since yesterday. And I made a sort of cinnamon/chocolate pastry roll thing with the last half-sheet of puff pastry I had left in the freezer from Christmas.

My house has flowers in it, my dishes are done, my laundry is put away, my desk is, if not perfect, far, far tidier than it has been in eons, and I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IN THE BUGGERING FUCK TO DO WITH MYSELF. I haven’t felt this productive in ever. I’m starting to find it worrying, frankly. Is this some sort of manifestation of a deep-rooted anxiety resulting from the situation in which we currently find ourselves? Am I headed for some sort of life-shattering breakdown? Is the loneliness literally going to kill me?!

I’m writing this on a Sunday. I haven’t had the oomph behind me to be this far ahead of the game in months.


I don’t have that much of a mind knocking around to be losing, thanks very much. The little bit I have is barely enough to keep me marginally functional. I can’t be lending it to some sort of Betty Crocker mental episode! I need it!

Because it’s not some kind of intellectual energy, really. It’s not like this is prompting me to do anything about my ‘to-read’ pile or revamp my entire personal financial system or pen The Next Great American Novel--no, I’m just getting shit done that’s been sitting around here needing to be done for however-the-fuck-long and making casseroles.


I mean, yeah, okay, I do get it in the sense of the fact that--independent of the current global nonsense--I’m in a better place emotionally than I have been since the Jurassic Period, and that can lead to things like increased energy and just an overall feeling of “yeah, okay, I actually feel like doing stuff,” but it’s still a very strange feeling. I don’t know what to do with myself, so I do things I ought to have done ages ago. It’s this strange and sudden flurry of ‘life catch-up’. The cynic in me (which, let’s be real, is more of me than anything else) is waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m waiting to go completely loopy and start capturing and painting the squirrels in the courtyard or something and consequently getting chucked in the loony bin, or burning the house down trying to deep-fry something that really doesn’t need to be deep-fried.

What if I accidentally invent some kind of murder cocktail?

These enchiladas, though? They’re pretty bomb.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Is this how it’s supposed to be?

Now that I’ve settled into my new job—and subsequently my new schedule—I’m beginning to find that I’m considerably more productive outside of working hours. You know, on my own stuff. The stuff that has to be done or I’ll drown in laundry and dishes, but also the stuff that’s supposed to be fun. I’ve started to be less glued to my sofa. I move around. I take care of things in the moment, rather than letting the piles grow until I’m forced to deal with them. I can drum up the energy to start a long(ish)-term project—something that needs glue- or paint-drying time, or simply can’t be finished in one sitting. I’m reorganizing with a speed and determination I haven’t experienced in…possibly ever, actually.

Mind you, the pile o’ stuff that needs to go to places like Goodwill to be donated, or the half-price book store etc. to be sold back is slowly taking over my living room because where the heck else am I supposed to keep it until the world opens back up, but never mind…

I’ve been thinking about this second wind I’m experiencing, and I’ve come up with quite a few plausible explanations for it, the first (and likeliest) being the fact that I was finally able to break away from a job which for five years had held me in a state of perpetual anxiety and frustration—albeit at varying levels, but looking back it’s easy to see that even on the ‘good’ days it was always there, lurking just around the corner. Expending the majority of your energies in the service of an institution where you are acutely aware of your disposability can wear on a person, most especially for a prolonged period of time. When the norm, day in and day out, is being immersed in an environment where your worth is based solely on what you can do for someone in the moment, you start frantically trying to be overly useful, which leads to emotional exhasution. When your employers embody the textbook definition of the double standard, the “do as I say, not as I do” attitude, and favoritism is rampant, you get jaded. And when everything you do well goes unrewarded but your tiniest mistake is invariably put on blast, at some point, you give up.

Obviously my personal definition of ‘giving up’ is still to plough through and get things done on time and as perfectly as possible, but with the demon voice at the back of my head screaming at me the whole time. That little fucker is too mouthy for his own good...sadly, ‘that little fucker’ is me, problem at a time, okay?

Any old way, I’m in a much better place now. My schedule has been adjusted to something resembling a normal human being’s. My commute has been drastically shortened, thus decreasing the amount of time I spend on the road every day and increasing the amount of time I have available to me to do, you know, whatever. In addition to these things, my work situation has improved in a staggering fashion. The people I work for appreciate my drive and my accuracy and my dedication and my intelligence and even my sense of humor, holy cow.

I think it’s doing good things for my brain.

No, really. I think the uptick in general positivity and supportiveness and, IDK, people actually saying “thank you” (I no, rite? Such a concept!) has contributed in a big way to the fact that I seem suddenly(ish) to be able to exist like a human being as opposed to a sleep-deprived shell. Of course, there’s still the general garbagefireness of the world as a whole, and a nasty virus, and murder hornets (WTactualF?!) and I’m still having a hard time with all of that, yes, but on the whole…

I just kind of feel like if I finally have enough oomph behind me to get around to glittering a pair of sneakers like I’ve been saying I’m going to do for umpteen years, it’s a good thing.


Thursday, May 14, 2020

All of us, right now.

Every single one of us.


Follow @effinbirds on Twitter for more quality content.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Smiley smiley something or other

Let's do a little good stuff/bad stuff. Bad stuff first to get it out of the way, yaaayyy!!!

Things that have DEFINITELY NOT made me smile this week:
  • The general clusterfuckery and garbage-fire-ness of the situation in which we find ourselves.
  • PPP Loan forgiveness calculations.
  • By the time you read this, it will have been 56 days since anyone has hugged me. I’m very particular about who is allowed to touch me in the first place, so the fact that this has been wearing on me for the last 16 days or so really says something about my stress levels…
Things that HAVE made me smile this week:

  • I’ve been making my grocery shopping trips every other week, and I keep buying myself flowers because why not, and I can usually get them to stay alive for the full two weeks between trips.
  • I finished a jigsaw puzzle.
  • My baby rats turned one!
  • I reorganized a big chunk of my closet.
  • New regular Friday virtual happy hours with my Bestie-Since-We-Were-Three.
  • Dork Tower 
  • These Internet funnies:

And, for your viewing pleasure, my puzzle! 

Thursday, April 30, 2020


This week, a guest spot!

My mother, a pianist, usually plays a circuit of assisted living facilities, bringing a little culture and excitement to the old dears. Of course, at the moment, that is out of the question.

Well, if the mountain won’t come to Muhammad…

And so, Mom has been dragged, with less fuss than I imagined, into the current century. She has learned to Zoom. We had a mini-meeting a couple of days prior to her Internet debut--me, Mom, and a couple of her pals--to check the setup and sound and so forth. It went well. She was all set.

This, friends, is her account of how her Very First Ever Zoom Performance panned out. All names, including that of the assisted living facility, have been changed for privacy purposes.


Or, I shaved my legs for this?

Yes, Tuesday was the BIG SHOW. Or not the show. Or the show that didn’t show.

It was left up to me to schedule the meeting, and so I waited until the last minute to press “start” and wait for my invitees to queue up. It took about a minute, and then “Jeffrey” showed up on the screen.

I hadn’t invited Jeffrey, I’d invited the activity director, Jane. . . at Bayview. Am I being hacked?

A moment passed before I decided to go ahead and let Jeffrey into the party, and fortunately, he turned out to be Jane after all. I had hoped that the invitation might have gone out to various other residents at Bayview who might have computers in their apartments, know how to Zoom, and maybe enjoy seeing a familiar, if distant face playing on a nice piano. Maybe someone would engage in a dialogue. Jane would have had to send those invitations, but I was to set up the meeting, and therefore, the invitations. I guess Jane has better things to do, or the residents are even still in the technical dark like I was a week ago.

But now I Zoom.

I found myself barely hearing voices at the other end of the connection, and seeing only masked faces. One was Jane’s. The other belonged to the Big Cheese, Harvey. I was glad to know he was involved. The voices were coming from miles away, both literally because Bayview is in a town a full ten miles distant, and because Harvey and Jane were not close to the receiver. Jane moved in, and told me I could start anytime. She would “round up” some residents. Harvey went back to his office.

So the first piece was a throw-away, because if I followed directions, I’d be playing for no one until the end. I did announce the music (Joplin’s Bethena) and played. All I could see on my screen was the ceiling lights.

I was aware that there was some kind of activity going on at the other end of the connection. Though my ears were very much involved in what I was doing with my hands, some sounds snuck through. My screen/camera faced me, and I faced away.

After all, we’d set this up on Sunday afternoon, the four of us, when we had our Zoom-meeting for this express purpose.

We had observed the visibility of the full range of the piano keyboard, as much of me (as the player) as possible, and as little background glare as we could get. We had considered my distance from the microphone, since the talking between pieces needed to be audible. We talked about costuming.

What we had NOT considered was the possibility that my program would be broadcast through Jeffrey’s phone, laid flat on a table of some kind, and that the residents were on strict orders to observe social distancing.

Early in the program, I offered my COVID-19 medley, “I’ll Walk Alone,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” and “It’s Been a Long, Long Time” (Kiss me once and Kiss me twice . . .) I almost heard the laughter. I guess they must have understood me. I spoke over-loudly and as slowly as I could manage through the whole program.

So, I boldly carried on, an hour of music with clever banter and insightful historical commentary to enrich the lonely, culture-starved residents. No one moved the phone. Only the tops of the occasional head appeared on my screen. All of them were white-haired. If anyone shared a comment, I couldn’t hear it because they were just too far from the broadcast device.

I figured out that they couldn’t see me at all. And I was gorgeous. A long-sleeved, dark green blouse, accessorized in excellent taste. Good hair. Lipstick, for crying out loud. I was just sound coming from a tiny speaker on some table in the middle of a common area at the residence. Never mind that I was playing an instrument that was in tune, had 3 working pedals (and I used them all) and was more capable of tonal shading than the PSO (“piano-shaped object”) at their place.

Now I sort of know what it’s like to be on the radio. Only mayhem would have reached my ears. Anything they chose to do at a moderated volume never came through. As long as they did it quietly enough, and given their distance, that wouldn’t be too difficult, they could be doing anything. Eating, reading, geriatric sex, strangling one another.

They also might not even be there.

Zoom never cut me off at 40 minutes, nor sent a message offering me more time that I was able to see, looking away as I was. At the end of the hour I managed to see enough of one gray-haired individual to identify her. “There’s Diana,” I said.

But her response was barely audible. She said something about my coming back in person soon. Diana is an ardent fan.

“With my mask, and gloves, and disinfectant, after they take my temperature at the door,” I responded.

I’m told the program was well-received and that the residents were “engaged” whenever Jane checked in on them. I’ve been scheduled for May 2 at 130. I doubt that I’ll be going there, the way things look now, so once more, it will be time to Zoom. I will be asking about standing the phone up so I can see the audience next time, but whether things will change much from Tuesday afternoon remains to be seen. They are paying me for the service, so who am I to argue?

On the other hand, this kind of programming does present the opportunity to share the music from an instrument worthy of being heard, but through the little speaker on a phone?? It was certainly interesting to engage in the mechanics of this program. I worked carefully from my end, but the receiving party doesn’t consider the same elements when setting up the performance. So no matter how much preparation happened on my end of things, the result at the other end may have left much to be desired musically.

My attitude is always “If you want something done your way, do it yourself.” I built a whole career on this idea. But in these circumstances, that is simply not possible. I am glad to be on the “Good little girl” list, and know that in spite of the drawbacks, the program was good. After all, I’ve been asked to do another one.

And I can’t wait for this to be over, so I can go directly to my clients.

Now, if I could just magically be retired…

I have turned into that domestic goddess I always thought I ought to be. Remember that second wind I was blathering on about last week? It’s...