This picture encapsulates my March experience perfectly!
The poinsettia I bought in December for $8.99 refuses to die. It’s hanging on… unwavering, unwanted, and unwatered. It’s mirroring winter in Chicago. Even though we officially said goodbye to winter last week, he is treating us to a rain-sleet-snow frenzy on this Saturday in April. Winter is like this overbearing poinsettia dwarfing my sweet little tulips… he won’t go away. And according to the 10-day forecast, he’ll be around lousing up life for the first half of this month.
Between the weather, the pandemic, and Russia’s war-mongering, the world has been figuratively and literally (Will Smith included) bitchslapping us. For me this month, the sting got even more personal… the car needed a new fan belt and I needed two cavities filled. My ATM card was hacked online. And one day – as I was minding my own business – I got an alert on my Fitbit Iconic. It told me to remove the Fitbit from my wrist immediately to avoid getting burned. I’ve had and worn the Iconic every day since 2019. Never been burned by it (unless I don’t receive the ‘recall’ reimbursement.) Still, I sent it back to the manufacturer in their special hazardous waste packaging.
Despite the external and internal forces working against me, I had a pretty good month!
*I saw and reviewed five plays. Chicago theatre has returned for masked folks able to show ID and proof of vaccination. I saw “Hadestown” (Broadway in Chicago) with Scubi and her mom, “Upon The Shore (Idle Muse), “King James” (Steppenwolf) and “Goodnight, Oscar” (Goodman) with James, and “La Cage Aux Folles” (Music Works Theatre) with Bob.
It was also a month of celebrations between birthdays, St. Pat’s Day and the Oscars. I had dinner with Scubi/Mabel, Karen/Natalie/Christian, Bill/Collin/Jonny, Bill/James, Bilger/Ellen, Bill, Joey/Kylie/Palmer/parents/Jenny, Richard, Bilger/Ellen/James/Richard. I had drinks with Bob, Rich/Bilger and Scubi. I had brunch with Bilger/Ellen/James/Robert and Karen/Natalie/Christian. I had lunch with Karen/Natalie/Jena/Rox and Bill. I even had breakfast at the office with a spirited potluck crew. I saw the Chicago River dyed green, heard bagpipes and passed out plenty of beautifully decorated cookies by my Aunt Laura. Despite the prolonged winter, I definitely ate, drank and was merry… a lot!
At home, I completed five puzzles, hit 6071 level on Candy Crush, and took one yoga class-unmasked. I worked out with Josh biweekly and got my 10K steps in on 30/31 days. In preparation for the Oscars, I completed my mission to see all the ones in major categories: “Drive My Car”, “Tragedy of MacBeth”, “Worst Person in the World”, “Nightmare Alley”, “Parallel Mothers” and “West Side Story.” I also saw non-nominated entertainment in “Mrs. Maisel” Season 4, “Life and Beth” (Amy Schumer Hulu series), “Abbott Elementary” and Amy Poehler’s documentary “Desi & Lucy”.
I’m continuing to adhere to my new practice adoption based on James Cleary’s Atomic Habits. My morning ritual is to first read for 30 minutes to an hour. In March, I read 4 books.
I’m reading Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armande Gamache series in order. It is a perfect read especially for winter. Penny is an extraordinary storyteller. She creates colorful and flawed characters that become friends. It’s so engaging!
- Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny. I’ve finished the second half of this novel. (Penny’s sixth)
- A Trick of The Light by Louise Penny. In this mystery, Penny delves in to the art world and alcoholism. I so love her storytelling style. Sure, there is a murder to solve. Yet, I really feel the focal point is her characters evolving personally, in relationships and across novels. And Penny introduces culture in art, poetry and history. She also does her due diligence in researching an aspect like AA and then building empathy for the personal struggle. She’s extraordinary. (Penny’s seventh)
*Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and Language of the Human Experience by Brene Brown. I finished Brown’s newest book on emotions. She goes through over 30 emotions and breaks down their impact on a person’s journey. Some of it’s so simplistically startling. In the last parts of the book, she discusses the dark emotions and associated behaviors. Brown talks about ‘hatred’ in very grave terms. She believes it can’t be reversed. She also believes ‘disgust’ is the gateway to ‘hatred.’ When we find someone disgusting because of their appearance or their beliefs or their affiliations or their actions, we began the dehumanizing process. Scary stuff!! The book is a soul-searching self reflection. Definitely worth a read/listen.
*Dark, Salt, Clear by Lamorna Ash. Scubi’s mom gave me this book to read. It’s an autobiographical account of a young woman returning to her ancestor roots in a Cornish fishing village. Ash recounts her stories of learning the fishing industry from catch to sale in her descriptive tribute. At its best, she describes the quirky villagers, their fishing rituals, and the unsung heroes of the sea that provide a bounty of ocean variety for fish lovers. Although I enjoyed meeting the Newlyn folk, present and ancestral, I found some of the passages a bit too lengthy. In particular, her fish gutting expositions were way too much. I’m on a need-to-know-basis for how the fish gets from the boat to my plate.
*Midnight Library by Matt Haig. Andrea gave me an audible credit and I used it for this book. I loved it. It’s incredibly thought-provoking. The premise is Nora attempts suicide. She ends up in a library where she is allowed to ‘take out’ a book to be transported to a different life. I’m staying vague as not to taint anyone’s potential experience. It’s multi-layered about regrets, misinformation you believe and dreams. LOVED IT! I continue to marinate in its greater meaning for my own life.
The other news for March is Chicago’s mask mandate has been lifted …in most places. We still need to wear them on public transportation and in theatres. I’m choosing to wear them in crowded places or where someone may feel uncomfortable like in elevators or stores. And the better news a fourth shot has been approved for people over 50. I’ll be getting one as soon as it is available to me.
Two years ago at this time, I was terrified about the unknown and forced to shelter in place. I’m no longer terrified. I am careful and cautious. And I will do whatever I can to stop the spread of the variants… booster, masks, social distancing. I do not want us to spiral back into a lockdown. So, as I look out my window at the dreary weather, I know it could be worse because it was. It may be snowing outside but at least it’s not 2020!
Meanwhile, I’m waiting for my poinsettia to die to officially kick off tulip season. I’m ready to get my bloom on!