How I’m Coping with Social Distancing

It’s a funny thing about human nature that when you’re told you can’t do something (like go out and Mix with the Peoples), that’s pretty much all you want to do.  I’ve been thinking about how this “social distancing” we’re all supposed to practice is tedious as well as difficult.  True, it’s technically Spring Break and I’m working from home, so it’s not like I’m going anywhere during work hours—but if we weren’t in the midst of a pandemic, I could go somewhere, at least for lunch. But instead, I’m stuck at home, contemplating eating a very sad lunch of mixed veggies and rice.  And I miss people at work.

I wouldn’t miss them so much if, after Spring Break ends, we were all going back to campus.  But that’s not happening, as far as I can tell.  I miss Amanda popping in with her silly nonsense and her stern talkings-to to me when I stay late, or Karen standing in the door with some gossip that’s too good not to share.  I miss Carol asking me how things are going with the schedule or telling me about her crazy cat.  I miss hearing voices along the hall, students excitedly telling a professor they’re walking with about a project. All the interruptions from Monday to Thursday that makes my interruption-free Friday work-at-home days so very quiet and appreciated.  (I don’t miss meetings.  I would NEVER miss meetings.  But you get my point—it’s a little bit lonely.)

So far, I am virus-free, and I am very glad about that. As the numbers of cases grow exponentially, I wonder if I will remain virus-free.  So many people are sick—and it’s really hard to avoid people even when you’re socially distancing.  Invariably, you have to go to the grocery and you touch a variety of surfaces, even if you’re being careful.  (Even if you’re using sanitizer and washing your hands like you have OCD.)  And more to the point, if the person you live with still has to attend work, as Chris does, how isolated can you be?  I do worry about his catching something, too, since his job hasn’t shut down yet.  (Fortunately, he tells me that most people who can are working from home, so it’s very empty in the warehouse.)

You think social distancing would be an introvert’s dream.  You don’t have to see anybody, you don’t have to expend any of your limited powers of socializing.  You can just be content in yourself.  And the first couple of days, I think I was.  I mean, I love my house.  I love being here, listening to the bullfrogs and birdsong, seeing the buzzards behind the next door neighbor’s yard,  noticing what new green is appearing on the trees out back and what new flowers have popped up in front.  In every way, my house is a refuge for me, and I love that. But it becomes a little hard to appreciate those elements when you hear and see them full time.  Especially when you feel like you yourself may be becoming part of the furniture.  I suppose I need a little social interaction just so I don’t stagnate.

I’m sure I’ll grow more used to this situation as the weeks pass.  This is just what I’m feeling now.  I hope all of you are making the best of things, and that you’re staying well.

The Longest Hour of My Life, Or: a Confirmed Heretic Goes Back to Church

roman popeI recently decided to return to the Catholic Church over a decade of avoidance.  I had quit over a combination of disagreement with dogma, disgust at its sexism, and disappointment in the way it handled my need for spiritual help at a very painful period in my life.  I visited other churches in the interim (and almost joined the Unitarians), but never committed to any.  And let’s be honest, sleeping in on a Sunday morning seems to do me more good than most things, including listening to some man interpreting the Gospel and telling me how to live my life—especially when he has no idea what it means to be a woman in this (or any other) society.

It has been a rough transition back, though. Not because I’ve forgotten the prayers or the songs or the order of standing sitting kneeling—that stuff is ingrained from 12 years of Catholic school and years of being a good, practicing Catholic.  No, what has been difficult to stomach (besides the obvious horrendous sex abuse scandals which should make most of Church leadership burn in Hell) is the retrogression to pre-Vatican II High Mass BALONEY.

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Five Ways to Feel Christmassy… and Fail

1.  Christmas cookies burned.

2.  Looked at trees today.  It’s Dec. 7th, and the trees were totally picked over.

3.  There’s no Christmas music tonight that isn’t annoying me.  Really, “Feliz Navidad,” again?

4.  Had to give up making an snowman ornament because I kept pricking myself with the pins to make it.  And I had the wrong size pom-poms to make the ear-muffs anyway.

5.  Went to put up some Christmas lights in the front window, and put some on the Nordic Island pine that is in the window as well, but of course on both strings that I brought out (which were working last year), half of the lights were off.  If a 100 bulbs had to be busted, I wish it had been one entire string, and not 50 on both.  But now I’ll have to try to figure out which lights are blown on both strings.  It’s a real bitch to pull the lights in and out of their sockets too.  I got through 20 lights on one strand and thumb and forefinger are crabbing at the effort.  (Also, I’m afraid of breaking a nail.)

I know, I know, I know.  First World Pains.

A Lark

Oh!  It’s raining!  Which has nothing to do with this post.

You may wonder why, after a break of over 2 years, I have decided to start writing here again,  The truth is, I forgot about this blog.

Oh bother, it’s stopped.  Crazy Charlotte weather.

Who even reminded me I had this blog was a new person at work who said she was reading some of my work online–which I thought meant she had stumbled on a few poems.  But no, she had found my rant about prezi.  I must have looked at her blankly when she said, “You know, your blog?”  And here I’m thinking tumblr, which is where I have (more frequently) written things.  Because I was tired of people stalking me at this blog.  (And yes, they were stalking me.  I mean, not like anything I put in this blog was particularly private–for heaven’s sake, my name in full blazing glory is on it–but still, a couple of people were reading it who I’d rather see be swallowed by a monsoon and drowned at sea than know Word One about me.)  So I kind of quit.  And then I forgot about it.  And started writing in tumblr.

So, you’re asking yourself, why now?  And aren’t the stalkers still stalking?

The answer to the first one is, I don’t know.  Except that it’s pretty boring watching my nephew because I’m not really watching him because he’s holed up in his room holding a very dramatic conversation with himself, or singing Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” (and by the way, is that Lou Diamond Phillips watching a plushie fight-to-the-death in their video?  WTF?), or singing operatic nonsense to the Mario Brother’s theme.  If I was in his room watching, I might be extremely entertained.  But as I am out here in the living room contemplating the meaning of nothing in particular, I thought it might be amusing to write a few lines in this sad ol’ unloved blog, for old time’s sake.

The answer to the second question is, so what?  Let them find out the huge secret that I’m babysitting this weekend.  Oh horrors!  How can they use it against me???  Oh!  I am wringing my hands in worry just thinking about it!


We’ll see how long I keep it up.  I’ll probably quit when I get back to my regular routine… you know, like tomorrow.

So, Here, All This Time, You Think You’re the Cool Aunt…

My sister and her husband are on a Miami getaway, right on the beach, and I have driven up to Charlotte for the weekend to watch my nephew who is The Best Nephew in the Whole World (TM).  Normally, when I visit my sister, he and I are totally sympatico, totally on the same wavelength.  It does not seem to be the case right now.

I’m not sure if it’s because he’s growing up, and so therefore thinks all old people are uncool; or if it’s because he’s downloaded this new Pokemon game, and wants to be alone with it in his room; or if I’m only cool in relation to my sister, whom he sees all the time, so I therefore represent a distraction from the normal order; or if he might still be pissed at me about last night…

When I abducted the router.

You see, my sister, in her instructions, said he needs to be in bed by 11:00.  And don’t let him sneak his devices and the internet in with him in bed, or he’ll be up all night, blah blah.  Typical Mom-ish type stuff.  So I let him know several times yesterday that he had an 11:00 curfew, which I don’t think he thought was for real.

So last night, he’s playing Mine Craft, and I come out into the living room at 11:15 and say, “Save your game.”

“What?” he says.

“Save your game, if you need to.”


“Router turning off in 5-4-3-2-1.”  And I unplugged it… and took it with me.

Oh man, was he furious.  “THAT IS NOT COOL” he says.

“You think not?” I say.  “I don’t think it’s cool that I told you your Mom said 11:00 was bedtime and here you are still up playing on the computer.”

He shuts the top of his MacBook Air and says “THAT WAS NOT COOL.  SEE, I’M SHUTTING IT DOWN.”

“Yeah, but only because I took the router.”

He shoots me this fierce expression  that could have melted stone.  The problem is, it makes me want to laugh.  Which of course, you can’t do, when someone (you love) is angry at you.

But that face he gave?  It’s the Doyle-passed-down-for-generations-pissed-off face.  It’s the look-down-your-nose-with-a-cold-stare-and-lesser-mortals-will-back-down-and-give-you-your-way face.  It’s the Godzilla-is-rampaging-and-about-to-level-cities face.  It’s the you-so-better-hope-I-don’t-come-at-you-with-a-knife-while-you’re-sleeping face.

But, as someone  who perfected that expression when I was 5 (and by the way, still frequently uses it her own self to let others know She Is Not Happy), it has zero effect on me.

I was like, “Sorry dude.  It’s time for bed.”

He tromped off to his room with his now-rather-pointless computer, and slammed the door behind him.  But I didn’t really hear a peep from him all night… so maybe he caught a few hours of sleep.

And of course, I returned the router to its rightful place this morning at 7…

So, I guess I am temporarily cool again.  At least untill 11:00 tonight.  😉

My Manifesto of Hate: a Friday Night Rant

I hate prezi.

I hate spending 4 days working on a prezi because I really hate PowerPoint.

I hate that everybody and her mom, her dog, and her dog’s fleas make PowerPoints.

PowerPoints are about as riveting as toilet paper.  The itchy kind.

I hate that everyone thinks that the word “presentation” is synonymous with the word “PowerPoint.”  Except for those in the prezi camp.

I wanted to be in the prezi camp.  With the cool kids.

I hate all the cool functionality of prezi denied to me because the prezi website has the world’s worst instruction manual.

The instructions for prezi are on par with the instructions for Ikea.

I hate having to stay on campus till 10 p.m.  on a Friday night working on a PowerPoint presentation–the PowerPoint presentation that would have taken me a day and a half to begin with at most if I had and done it first–because I couldn’t get the prezi to work right.

I hate prezi.  I mean it.

I hate that PowerPoint wouldn’t let me print out the notes for my slides, so I had to cut and paste the notes into Word, which lost all my paragraph markers, and made the notes big, blobby, Sasquatches of text that I then had to go back in and reformat for readability.

My notes are really long.  And possibly pompous.

I hate that my presentation on Monday has to be a PowerPoint presentation.  With handouts.

I hate handouts.

I hate that I will have to finish up on my  handouts for my PowerPoint presentation on a Saturday because I didn’t get them done earlier this week when I was too busy fighting with prezi.

A Saturday.  As in, the day after I stayed in my office till 10 p.m. on a Friday night.  As in, this weekend.

I hate that I will have to go back to campus on a Sunday to print out 100 copies of the PowerPoint slides and other handouts so that I can give them out to people at the conference on Monday.

Handouts are a) tossed just as soon as the presentation is over, and b) a waste of paper.

I hate wasting paper.

I hate that I can’t just turn the handouts into .pdfs to e-mail to all of the people at my presentation.

I hate that no one will like my PowerPoint presentation, if they even bother to look at it.

I hate thinking the audience will be bored, and that any time in the future when I see one of the members of the audience, I will have to hide my head in shame.

I hate thinking that if the audience is bored, they will wonder why they bothered attending my presentation session.

I hate thinking that if they wonder why they attended, then I’ll have to question why I wasted all that time making the PowerPoint presentation and the abandoned prezi.

I hate wondering what an audience’s questions will be.

I hate answering an audience’s questions.

I hate not being good at answering an audience’s questions.

I hate that all of this is my fault:  the prezi, the PowerPoint, the 15 hours I spent on campus on a Friday, the work I will have to do to make handouts, the trip to campus on Sunday, the “having to stand up in front of people and give a presentation when I’d rather just sit passively in the audience” blues.

I hate the blues.  I hate having the blues.  I hate that my prezi was going to be awash in a theme of blue.

I hate prezi.

Hate, hate, hate prezi.






White Christmas

Saturday’s Christmas snow was a special gift from Santa–in my whole life, no matter where I was on Christmas day, it had never snowed before, and it’s always something I hope for.  It was lovely, wasn’t it?  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said it was the first white Christmas that the city has seen since 1882–118 years.  I think I’ll write a poem about it, though I don’t know what my approach will be.  It will have to simmer in my brain a few days, I think.

Thank heavens we didn’t have to be anywhere–we just stayed in.  I was  very glad that Mom had decided to rent a car and come anyway (after the transmission debacle), and fortunately, she got in late on Christmas Eve, so she wasn’t traveling in the weather, which would have been nerve-wracking for all concerned.

As for Christmas Day itself, I cooked my traditional Christmas lasagne, and we also had asparagus.  I also attempted, once again, to make an apple-cranberry pie.  But I am firm believer that our craptastic oven has  “attempt at baking” detection, because every time I try to bake a sweet, something wrong happens.  This time, it was a charred pie top.  Which is so fricken’ annoying!  I think getting an oven thermometer is an idea whose time is long past.

And it’s only sweet things that get fouled up.  I’ve baked bread and muffins in the oven and have had no problem.  Pies, however, it hates to cook.  Maybe what I need to do the next time is just not cook the apple pie the full 2 hours.  Or maybe I should just buy a pie next time–save myself the hassle.

But the lasagne and asparagus were good.  And of course I set a beautiful table with candles, snowman placemats, red chargers, snow-white napkins, red-handled utensils (the ones Grace sent as a wedding gift last year), and our Wedgwood Nantucket Basket wedding china.

After dinner, we opened presents and watched a silly Christmas movie on tv.  It was a really nice Christmas.

I hope yours was too.



Tampongate Continues

So, I enjoyed being at the Atlanta Writers Club meeting for the first time in maybe a year and a half–Memye Curtis Tucker, Amy Pence, and John Ottley were the featured poets, and then there were several “invited” readers, among whom were Karen Holmes, Andrea O’Roarke, and I.  And then there were several people who read in the open mic section.  What was nice about this AWC meeting, as opposed to most of the others that I’ve been to, was that it was focused completely on poetry.

I actually used to belong to AWC, but they so infrequently did anything with poetry–their programs seemed to focus on mainly 3 things:  “How to Get Published” (which generally was some know-it-all fiction editor or author who basically told everyone that they were stupid if they thought they had any chance to get published); fiction readings and fiction-related craft workshops; or non-fiction/ true crime.  After a year of going and the only poetry program they offered was Natasha Tretheway (which, to be fair, was a pretty great program) despite the fact that I complained and wrote a note to the then-president, I thought, to hell with this–I’m not spending $40 in dues to listen to things that held almost no interest for me.  This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy some of that other programming, but it was so generally weighted towards fiction it didn’t seem worth it to attend any more.

But of course, while I applaud today’s focus on poetry, it doesn’t appear that the Atlanta Writers Club is going to have any poetry-related programming any time soon, at least not according to their online event schedule which goes through March.  So needless to say, I don’t feel co mpelled to renew my lapsed membership…

… And all of this is by way of saying, that on the drive home, I stopped in five different groceries/ drug stores to investigate if any of them had o.b. tampons.  A couple actually did–but all they had were “regular” strength and “super” strength.  Without being too indelicate, even “super” works about as well as a band-aid on a bullet wound.  People, I need “super plus” (it has the yellow stripe)–so if you see a box of 40 super plus o.b. tampons, buy them for me, and I’ll pay you back.

In the mean time, I broke down and went to Whole Foods to buy a 20 pack of Natracare brand organic tampons (for $7.99!!!!–a 40 pack of o.b. would have been $6.42).  They are applicator-less, so that’s one point in their favor.  But I do not  have high expectations for them– after all this time, I’m set in my ways, and the prospect of trying some new kind of fem-hi product fills me with absolute dread.

I’ll be sure to let you know how the Natracare tampons work out.  I know you’re dying to find out.

An Open Letter to McNeill-PPC to Continue Production of o.b. Tampons–or Next Week Is Going to Be One Bloody Mess

The following is a letter I just wrote to the makers of o.b. tampons, my tampon o’ choice for the 5 days of every month that suck the most for me (and Chris).

However, when I tried to submit my comment to McNeil-PPC, Inc., it kept giving me an error message stating that “Special characters are not allowed,” which I can only assume means ANY alpha-numeric character, because I went back through my letter and removed everything that might ostensibly be considered “special”–i.e., dashes, a % sign, a couple of //, all paragraph breaks, etc.

Clearly I will just have to mail this letter to them.  But I’m posting it here because I’m angry–forgoddess’s sake, I’m pre-menstrual and extremely annoyed at the company right now–and because I’m tired of people nagging me about making a new blog post.  Apologies if you’re squeamish about such things.

Anyway, without further ado, may I present my open letter to o.b. tampons:

Dear McNeil-PPC, Inc.–

I am about 3 days away from my period, and I cannot find o.b. tampons ANYWHERE.  I have looked at Wal-Mart, Target, and Walgreens, and I’ve looked at online drugstores and even

Where are they?  Why aren’t you selling them?  I have used o.b. tampons since MY VERY FIRST PERIOD 24 YEARS AGO. That’s an estimated 5,760 tampons over the course of my life.  Assuming I hit menopause the same time my Mom did (and she used o.b. too)–at age 55–that’s another 4080 o.b. tampons I’ll use.  If that’s not product loyalty, what is?

I have read blogs online, and women everywhere are discussing this.  One blog even quoted a response you made saying that o.b. tampons ultra were being discontinued for “manufacturing updates.”  I don’t know what “manufacturing updates” means.  What about your product needs to be updated?  It’s been fine all the years I’ve used it.

I don’t want to use an applicator.  It adds landfill waste; it’s awkward; and it’s hard to conceal.  I sure as hell don’t want to use a Diva Cup–I’m not that envrionmentally enlightened.  Moreover, o.b. is perfect the way it is–I can tuck it in a pocket, in a wallet, even in a lipstick holder.  It’s practically invisible to carry–and to use.

It fits.  It works.  And I need you to recognize that you have loyal customers who count on o.b. to get us  through a painful, cranky, generally icky week every month. I can–almost–forget I’m having my period, because I am secure that my trusted o.b. tampon will come through for me.

Tell me how I’m supposed to survive the next 2 decades of my life without o.b.?  Why are you condemning me to finding some other product which will inevitably disappoint me?

Don’t you care about women any more?  Don’t you care that women have the most buying power?  Don’t you care that you don’t even have to advertise your product because you have so many, many loyal women supporters?

I’d even be willing to pay a premium upcharge to get o.b. tampons.  Raise the price by 50%–I guarantee you, I (and other loyal o.b. users) will gladly pay.

I am submitting my plea to your company to continue production of o.b.  Please.  I will be calling on Monday, and I am going to be posting this letter on my blog,

Believe me, I am not looking forward to experiencing my first period in three days without o.b., and I’m angry that even on your o.b. website, you have not addressed why women can’t find your tampons.

An explanation about this tragedy on your website would be nice.  Restocking the drugstores with o.b. would be even better.  Show that you care about your customers, show that you support women, and BRING O.B. TAMPONS BACK ASAP.

JC Reilly


And, in other news, I’m reading at the First Annual Poetry Day at the Atlanta Writers Club tomorrow.  (So you see, this post wasn’t just about my time of the month–I managed to tie in poetry.)

The Animals Are Lining Up, 2 by 2

The rain has been relatively incessant the last week (with the exception of yesterday afternoon’s obnoxious burst of sun) that I’ve been thinking of writing some rain-related poems.  The problem with that is, somehow all the connotations of rain are cliché, and I’m not sure how I can write about it in a fresh way.

The rain we had today was like a rain back home in Louisiana–a gullywasher, where the rain doesn’t fall so much as spill from a dam in the heavens, and the skylights in my sunroom reminded me of a windshield when you go through an automatic car wash.  In a word, it was awesome.

The downside, of course, is the flooding, and the idiotic Atlanta drivers in their assinine SUVs who think it’s fine to barrel through huge lakes in the street, sending up 10 foot walls of water that deluge your windshield and blind you.  I’d rather not have to drive in that.

Ah, well, I suppose this is a pointless post.   Maybe I will have something writing-related to tell you tomorrow.  Though, as I think about it, I did get a rejection for both of my chapbooks today, which, while unsurprising, still sucked.   Another $20 down the drain.  *Sigh*