Longing for Home

2 Jun

I was in a supervisors meeting this morning and as has become the norm, we had some discussion about how and when we might return to the library after being away from there since mid-March. This is our new normal, to use a phrase that makes me just a bit sick to my stomach. Masks and tests and cleaning and spaced seating – all things to accept, get used to, plan for. At one point, my director said that we need to figure out who benefits from the library being open, as a physical space (because we’ve not missed a beat, in terms of working in this virtual environment). We think about our patrons – students, faculty, staff, clinicians. When and how do they benefit by reopening the library?

Upon hearing this question, I found myself saying, “What about me? I benefit from the library being open.” I don’t mean this selfishly. I’m not storming any gates or marching in the streets to protest the measures we’ve taken to control this pandemic, but that said, I’m tired of this virtual working world. The library – the physical place with my desk and my computer, surrounded by my colleagues, the cafeteria down the hall, the lawn outside, people milling about – I benefit from all of this. When you think about it, I’ve spent an awful lot of my life there. And it’s a life that I’ve enjoyed.

I can easily do the work that I do from home. I’m so very proud of the staff in my department, of all of my colleagues in the library, for how quickly and seamlessly we moved into this means of working. We have addressed every question, every issue. We’ve solved problems, taught classes, zoomed a thousand hours. We can do it.

I love my home, I love the slower pace of my mornings, I love starting my days with the NY Times crossword puzzle and my coffee. I appreciate doing my laundry whenever I feel like it. I like not taking a shower until the middle of the day, if I want. I enjoy taking a mid-afternoon break to walk my dog in the park. I’ve relished watching spring arrive – all of the baby birds, the baby bunnies, the plants blooming. I’ve been astounded by all of the neighbors I’ve met and spoken to. I’ve found a dozen different ways to nurture my creativity, to devote some time to it that I don’t always do when I’m in the routine of work. And I know how absolutely fortunate I am for my situation and I am most grateful for it.

All of this.

And yet.

I want to go back to work. I want to get up, walk my dog, iron my clothes, take a shower, pack my lunch, and head out the door. I want to sit at my desk, see the people that I work with, see the faculty and staff and students that I work for. I’m tired of emailing. I’m tired of zooming.

I want to walk out of work at the end of the day, drive down Shrewsbury Street, stop at one of my neighborhood pubs I enjoy, see friends that I know. I want to go to my guitar lesson on Friday afternoons. I want to play trivia on Wednesday nights. I want to enjoy being home on the weekend, because I’ve not been in my home all week. I want the boring, mundane, 9-5 work week back. I do! I miss it.

Typing this, I feel pretty petty, whining about all of this as my country seems to be coming apart at the seams. But I also cannot help but believe that there’s a connection to all of this. Whatever our “libraries” are – our work, our schools, our routines, our lives – they’ve all been disrupted. For months. Toss into the equation the horrible fact of systemic racism and a feckless, impotent, pathologically insane person in the White House and an evil-to-the-core leader of the Senate and of course we’re going to blow up. For every good and every wrong reason, we are going to explode.

So, yes. I want my library to reopen. For me. And I want yours to reopen for you, too. I honestly believe that we all need it. Now.

The Challenge Continues!

15 Apr

I know, I know… I’ve not posted any songs in a week. I have, however, written songs. They’ve gotten kind of silly, though, and not really worthy of recording and posting. For example, one is called, “I Don’t Like Peas in My Paella.” You get the picture.

I was inspired by Austin Kleon’s blog post about his own COVID-19 blast of creativity – making zines. I thought it was a super idea and followed his instructions in the brief tutorial at the end of the post to make a couple of my own. I thought I’d share one, in lieu of a song.

It was Monday evening when I made them, so this one I called “Monday Motivation.” (If you’re on Twitter, you know #MondayMotivation is a popular hashtag.)

I’ve found that being creative, even in the smallest way each day, is helping me cope really well during these days. It’s also reminding me of the importance of doing so every day. I hope I keep the habit going when we return to “normal.” That would be a wonderful silver lining!

I hope everyone is doing well and I will be back with more songs soon. Promise!

A Song for John

8 Apr

Following up on last night’s post, still feeling awfully sad about what this damned virus took from the world last night. It’s taken too much – and sadly isn’t done with us yet. Blessings of peace on everyone who’s lost someone to date and for all of us and we try to get through these days. Here’s a song that I wrote for John Prine. May he rest in peace.

My John Lennon

7 Apr

I don’t have a song to post tonight for my 30-day COVID-19 creativity challenge. I was working on a song. A couple, actually. Writing lines, scratching them out, this chord progression, that one, any old thing. And then I took a break to watch a documentary about Garth Brooks (because one of the lines that came to me while walking my dog this afternoon reminded me of one of his songs). And then I saw the news.

This virus is godawful. It’s wreaking havoc across the globe. And it’s surely like nothing that I’ve ever known in my lifetime – social distancing and working remotely for weeks on end. Watching as a bystander to a wholly inept federal government response, a public health system that is incomprehensible, a collective public who believes the most inane concepts and ideas, spouted by a bunch of people who are something less than human.

And then. Then. I see the news that John Prine, my John Lennon, has succumbed to this virus. It’s like the wind knocked out of me. I’ve got nothing now to sing tonight. I’ve got no more words to put on the pages. I just need a break. For a few hours. To imagine never getting the gift of the simplest/substantive song ever written, again. What he could do… no other.

If you don’t know him (like the simpleton on Twitter who blocked me after I called him out for tweeting, “Never heard of him”) please seek him out. You can adore your McCartney/Lennon, your Dylan, your Mitchell, and more. Amazing songwriters, all. But John Prine, for me, will never cross my lifetime again.

I miss him already.

Social Distincting

6 Apr

My cousin’s next-door-neighbor, who is 5, calls this behavior we’re all engaged in, where we keep distance from one another, “social distincting.” When I heard this last night, I just knew that it needed to be a song. And then, the more I thought about what it could really mean, the more I really liked it.

We do strive an awful lot in our society to be a certain way and attain certain things. I’ve found it so telling – and unsettling – that it’s those with a lot of money, generally made from sports and/or entertainment, who are praised for coming to the rescue now. They’re able to secure face masks and get testing centers set up (not to mention, get tested) and provide needed goods to communities and hospitals and nursing homes. These are, in and of themselves, of course, good things, but it leaves me wondering why it’s celebrities who have the means to do these things rather than our governments and/or healthcare systems.

But this is what we’ve got, because this is what we value as a society. Maybe it’s time we reprioritize and aspire to some different goals. Anyway, it’s these thoughts – and the wisdom of a 5-year old – that helped me come up with this song.

Chorus of Hope

5 Apr

Happy Day 5 in my COVID-19 30-day creativity challenge, everyone! Here’s my first of two songs that I’ll come up with today to get me back on track. This is really more of a song-lette (songella?) – whatever it is that you call a mini-song. It’s not really finished, as I can see other verses coming in time, but for the purposes of this exercise, it’s good to go!

The first line – and part of the inspiration – comes from some friends. For the past several years (and I sure hope this year, too!), I’ve gotten together with 3 other women who I went to seminary with more than 30 years ago now. We enjoy an extended long-weekend together, usually in a house on a lake, basking in the grace of good friendship.

We’ve also established a few rituals that we’re sure to include in each weekend. One of them is to write poems following the form known as Renga. This is a collaborative form of poetry where each person writes a line without seeing what anyone else has written. It’s astounding the beauty that can come from them. (Equally, as I was reading some of them for inspiration, I was laughing out loud at some of the lines we’ve written.)

In a word, it’s a song about hope. May you keep hope during these days, friends.

My Best Friend

4 Apr

Oh no!! I missed a day already. A two-day streak isn’t much to write home about. All the same, I’ve got a 3rd song for my 30-day COVID Creativity Challenge right here and I’ll either post another tonight or two tomorrow.

This song came to me this afternoon as I was out in the park with my dog. One thing that I’ve noticed about these days of “STAY HOME” warnings is that there are a lot of people outside. Kids on bikes, folks running, lots of families walking together. It’s another one of those silver linings to a bleak time. I like it.

So here’s a song for my best friend who gets me outdoors every day!