As always each year I participate I wonder if I will make it through. There have definitely been more just before the stroke of midnight posts than I would have liked this go around, but I made it.
Some may have picked up new people to follow. Some may have reconnected with slices not chatted with since last year’s challenge. Some have kept up with slicers who may be their constants throughout the year, not solely in March. And this year we each did it in our own bubbles of self-isolation as we work through this global COVID-19 pandemic.
👏👏 Let’s give ourselves multi rounds of applause, we deserve it 👏👏
And now it’s time to say good-bye to all our company… As the Mickey Mouse Club used to close each episode. But is it really time to say good-bye? I think it rather fitting that this year’s writing challenge ends on a Tuesday. It is an excellent reminder that we will return to our weekly Tuesday postings. I suspect many of us will appreciate the reminder.
It was a rainy day and a Monday. The Carpenters may not have been too keen on a day like today, going by the classic song. Truth be told, it’s not my least favorite cup of tea, either. Overcast skies all of the day. The pitter-pattering of rain usually soothing, but today in a discordant pattern in the wind that was not conducive to calm.
But, today was a good day.
Yes, I’m still self-isolating. Yes, today was eight hours of work from home. Yes, my phone rang with people asking stupid questions, and someone looking for someone else thought it good sport to ring my buzzer for entry in spite of my telling them twice they were wringing the wrong apartment and I was not letting them in. And had the pleasure of hearing when I was called out of my name when the person passed my door having finally rung the correct buzzer and let in.
Still, today was a good day. Today was a Hygge Day.
Hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”), is a Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment. In short, it’s a way of living that focuses on hunkering down in the winter and creating a safe, comforting and warm place to while away cold, wet evenings, whether you’re at home solo or entertaining and defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “to cherish oneself; to keep or make oneself snug”.
It’s officially spring, but it is a cold wet day and I could use self-snuggling. Luckily I knew no one needed to see my beautiful face today. It was a scarf, t-shirt and loose jeans type of day, be comfortable day.
It began with instead of my usual mug of coffee, I brewed tea. In a teapot loose leafed mint-ginger. Yes, a stimulant, but I was working after all. I didn’t want to self-snug myself to sleep! For lunch I went old-school with tomato soup and an gooey melty grilled cheese sandwich. Usually a staple, That was something I had yet to do this relatively mild NYC winter. It was perfect. For dinner I had left over seafood paella that could have been fine dinner fare, but I wanted classic comfort food. Thus it was my leftover meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, baked mac and cheese, and greens.
Simple fare for a simple day. It’s called comfort food for a reason. Comfort food, comfort clothes, on a made for comfort day – a perfect sense of Hygee.
I was on the phone with a friend earlier who teased that a day of rest for me is when I’m only doing three things at once. That I was changing my linens while waiting for the just mopped kitchen floor to dry before I can mop-n-go it and took a moment to jot down a couple of plot bunnies that popped into my head even as I spoke with her sort of gave her veracity, but I got her point.
After I’ve spent a couple of hours being Domestic Goddess to my humble abode I decided that a break and lunch were in order. Naturally, I do a little Facebooking while I indulge in more caffeine and think about what is going to be today’s slice. Then I come across a gem in my memories.
My flat may never featured on a home decor periodical, but today it is clean. I still have dinner to make between loads of laundry and a few other things. So, it amused me to see this eleven year old post concerning Sundays and days of rest being anything else coming full circle. And that even then a friend knew that a day of actual resting was not likely going to be the case with me.
I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not. Is my definition of rest that different from many of my friends? Do I really don’t know how to rest unless I’m exhausted? Perhaps I’ll think about it later while I start backing up my computer while configuring my laptop as I catch up on the last couple of episodes “Outlander.” See? Only three things, and one includes semi-binge TV watching – it will be restful(ish) 😁.
Last night I participated in a wonderful group where we got to share stories based on the subject “The Wild Unknown.” When I was invited to speak I had recently spoken with my youngest son. At some point in the conversation between the now very adult and I, I was reminded of when I realized he was not my baby anymore and what an oddly emotional blow it was.
I remember I was sitting on the front porch as my youngest son, then in his mid-teens, was walking up the block from school. I noticed his walk had changed. It used to be something of a bop, this bouncy gait as he used to just short of walk on his toes. This young person coming towards me now had what could only be called a swagger. This was not the walk of the carefree. This was a strong, measured stride with purpose. This was a man’s stride.
“Man! He walks hard!” My eldest son who was on the porch with me apparently noticed this change in his little brother brother as well. Though they are only eighteen months apart physically, there was a subtle, unspoken my baby brother is growing up touch of pride to his assessment. Yet, all I could think was…
What broke my baby?
Both of my sons are very much like me. It had been their chagrin most of their young lives that I was sometimes one-up on them, able to predict some of what could get them in trouble and put a stop to it. It was generally my chagrin when they did something I missed and though I knew exactly why it happened, because it was something I did or would have done as a kid, I had to disciple them regardless. Sometimes I let them make mistakes, because it really is the only way to learn some hard lessons. But this did not fall into one of those categories.
My eldest took it hard when my mother died. Very hard. I knew the loss of the woman that tried her best to spoil him rotten, had broke him and changed him. I saw it happen and did my best to guide him through it and he was much better by this point, but I was cognizant of that change. I felt I had dropped the ball with my youngest as I watched him approach.
How did I fail to protect him? Where the fuck was I, who saw him every single day, while whatever this was was going on that it hurt him, broke him, and changed him without my noticing? What the hell had happened in his young life that ripped his spirit, his innocence to the point it had changed his very walk? What else have I missed? Could I find out? Should I find out?
I found myself once again into the wild unknowns of parenthood. Yes, there are guides and plenty of people who can give advice, whether you asked for it or not. There are some givens we all go through as children and as adults raising them. In the end, each child is unique and wild unknown and how one raises that child will be unique to that child.
I realized, they both were of the ages where the shift in dynamics of how we relate to each other changes. They will always be my children, and though they were not yet men, they were not in fact children. It felt like just last year I was teaching them to tie their shoes and only last month we had the condom talk, not a few years ago. I was losing them into the men they were going to be, another wild unknown…
When he saw his brother and I sitting on the front porch, he broke into this beatific smile (both of my sons really do have great smiles), and greeted us. More perceptive to my moods, than I had been to his, he looks at me at questioningly for a moment.
“What?” “You okay, Mommie?” “I’m fine baby boy, you okay?” “I’m GREAT! I’m having a great day!”
He then proceeds to regale us on just how great his day was. Naturally, with two teenage boys, the conversation eventually segues to video games and smack talk reigns.
I listen to and watch the both of them, but mostly my youngest for a long moment. Tall, though still a couple of years from his eventual 6’3″ height, his once high-pitched voice now very much a tenor. My silly little boy was very much still in there, but this man-child, now bounding up the stairs with his big brother, was anything and potentially everything, but he was notmy babyanymore.
A fellow slicer posted this on his timeline and I liked it so here I am…
Age – 56 Broadway, last show seen – Cyrano with James McAvoy (technically a London: National Theatre Live (London’s Broadway) production, but seen at a theater in the Theatre District. Last live show : Oddly enough Cyrano the Musical with Peter Dinklage. Cats – 0 Dogs – 0 now, but have had 4 during my lifetime thus far. Essential start of your day – Waking up first (can’t really do mustt until then right?), then COFFEE. Favorite color – Paint it Black Grossest thing you’ve eaten – Chitlins (Southern heritage – stop eating it the when my mother fully understood I really would rather starve and take a spanking every day for a week than let that grossness cross my lips again. I was a stubborn child.) Height – 5’8” Instruments you played – Flute in middle school. (Can’t remember finger position of a single note now.) Job title– Professional P.I.T.A. (Pain in… My facebook page states Devil’s Advocate – you choose,) Kids – 2 (3 if you include still raising myself.) Longest relationship – 40+ years of hilarity with my highschool best friend. Most favorite Movie – Too many to pick just one, but I’ll say Die Hard 1 & 3 tie because they are both guilty pleasures I will watch whenever it’s on. Night owl? – Hoot yes ! Overnight Hospital Stay – Three days each for the honor to be called Mommie. Pet Peeve – Pets in restaurants. (That Chiuaua in your purse may indeed be your support animal, but I don’t support its rapping while I’m dining.) Quiet time activity – Reading/Writing Right or Left handed – Right Siblings– 0 What? My parents realized what trouble was on their hands with me, they were afraid the next might be worse. Top 5 Desserts – Key Lime Pie made with real key limes, Tres Leches Cake, Chocolate Lava Cake, Hot Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream, Girl Scouts Thin Mints Cookies. University – HKU (Hard Knocks University) Vacation – Previous one – Cuba. Next one – London. (Fingers crossed for September.) Worship – No. (Though some have had the honor of worshipping me.) X box – No (There’s a dirty joke in there, but I shall refrain.) Yard – only if it involves the NFL, beer or New Scotland… Zodiac Sign – Virgo sun, Libra rising.
My work wife and I went into the office today. My first time being back at my desk since last Tuesday. After being at our respective desks for a while we decided coffee was needed, but in world of coronavirus the question then became – who is open?
Generally, there are no less than ten places within walking distance in which coffee could be procured on a normal weekday. But this is not a normal day which we quickly reminded. The kiosks were closed. The concession stand was closed. The two popular restaurant chains were closed. The three Starbucks in the immediate area were closed.
I work for an agency that provides essential services, in my area are other agencies that also provide essential services. We’re all 24/7/366 we knew someone had to be open in the area and we found it.
Unlike the chains, this is a privately owned bar/restaurant. The owner understood that essential workers were still coming in and we have to eat. Yes, a lot of the food options were trimmed from the menu, and all of it was take-out only now, but it was open for business.
In the mornings around 9am, there is always a line of workers getting their grub and the oh so necessary caffeine fix. However, knowing there is always a line is one thing. Seeing that same line with social distancing engaged is another.
Granted exactly how close/far the suggested six feet of distance between people needs to be worked by some out, but it was in place.
I got on the quickly growing line to hold a place while my work-wife went to the register to find out if we had to be on it to get coffee. Luckily, because we were only getting coffee we did not have to get on line. We were in and out of there quickly.
It’s a unique world we’re in right now. We know it’s not easy for the owners or the workers who come in to keep us caffeinated and fed. But it is appreciated.
Today I’ve several hours bouncing between authoring two different training manuals for applications in beta stages. I tweaked a current manual for a application in production, that I forgot to update seemingly ago. Tested a function to make sure it does what I think it does in the manner I think it should. Emailed assistance to work clients, phone assistance to the tech challenged who know I’m home and think I can stop everything and be their personal desktop support because they are working from home and need help now. All the, while completely ignoring that I too am working from and cannot be ‘away from my desk’ for any length of time. I know this is Murphy Law in the making – if I respond to the “I’m sure it’s something simple that you’ll figure out easy” while actually be something that will have me there for over an hour.
Ten minutes after I clocked-out for the day, I realized I could not remember if I saved any the the important documents I had open. I had not, nor had I pressed sent “Send” on three different emails. Other than the tweak, I am not anywhere near to completion on either manuals as I had hoped to be by now.
Once “home” I spent that over an hour I feared being helpdesk support. Back to my own stuff, the pattern repeated itself. in getting caught up in yesterdays projects I fell behind in professionally and then personally. I realized I did not respond to the emails of a few other people. Including one to a good friend in thanks for a favor received. Downloaded but have yet to review a document being translated form French to English. Looked up information to ensure I have in fact cancelled all the travel arrangements made for the next couple of weeks. among other things.
Luckily, I have not turned off my alarm for 2300. It’s the one I use so I know to stop what I’m doing and prepare what ever clothes I need for work the next day and wash any dishes waiting etc. Unluckily it also reminds me that I have yet to do what I am ding this exact moment – my slice.
And all of this on a machine that has me crossing fingers and toes, wishing on stars and seeking goodvibes that it doesn’t quit before it’s laid off.
I have two extra hours to get things done since I am not commuting. How am I so overworked?
A fellow slicer posted how he was informed by the maker of her computer that it was no longer covered. He knew nothing was wrong with his computer and it was a marketing ploy, something to get him to buy something bigger! Shinier! Newer! He wisely and humorously ignored it knowing his ” outdated (sorry, I meant to say seasoned friend” was just fine for now.
I wish I could say the same of mine.
I found the receipt, she became mine in 2013. I wasn’t a poor black child but I was, and still am, a far cry from affluent and I never was a tech snob. She was not the newest thing on the market. As a Win7 when the world was fawning over the less than a year old Windows 8, she wasn’t the newest thing on the previous year’s market, but she was more than ready to do what I needed her to do and was new to me. The first time I turned her on and she zoomed to life I knew we were a good match.
But that was in 2013 and with apologies to Barbara Walter – this is 2020.
She was a little for a bit clunky when I finally fed her Windows 8 in 2014, but we worked it out. All the while I was adding new programs and apps and streaming services. I upped her memory, we had our moments of defragg and we checked-disked. Got her a bigger hard drive to move files around. Still, she nearly choked when Microsoft insisted on adding Windows 10 a couple of years ago. I saw the blue screen of death for a moment and my computer life flashed before my eyes, but again, she came through it. She wasn’t champion level anymore, I knew this, but she she still worked out like a contender.
She had been showing more signs of reaching that point since the fall of 2019. But the beginning of the year was the first time she hiccuped in the middle of a file and I lost work. Luckily, I had saved the file recently to an external drive, so it was not a huge loss, about twenty minutes worth of work photoshop work, but it was my first loss. She had begun to loose speed long before then. Having Chrome ask do I want to wait for an application or exit the page had become a regular thing. A few weeks ago I heard the first serious overclocking. The zooming sound a system makes when it’s trying far too hard to do far too much at once. I used to work with computers, I know the difference in sound between a computer that’s I’m hustling, but I got you rush from the I’m getting there, but uh, you gotta give me a min zoom that is too loud and too long.
I am working remotely from home for who knows how long. She does not like the latest apps I installed to to make this happen.And I mean does not like.
Then this past weekend I heard a zoom, a click and a squeak. That is a mechanical failure waiting to happen on the brink of the highest degree. I have no choice. Girl wasn’t getting old, she is old.
“Who you calling old?!” she seemed to say as she glitched, unintentionally giving vercity to the situation.
I was supposed to take two separate trips over the next couple of weeks. Coronavirus put the kibosh on those plans, but it left me with funds to do what I have to.
“You, darling” I sadly said to my beloved system as I pressed Place Order for a new customized new system I configured. “Just hang in there for me a little will ya?”
I’ved duct taped, downloaded, upgraded and “given her all I can, Captain” and she has given me all she can. It long past time I let Della go soft into that dark pixelated night.
I was reading a fic where one a character sarcastically thought “The Devil has a housemate.”
It’s amazing what how a simple line can dredge up a memory.
I once ran into an ex of my late-husband. We were just about to find out we have a mutual acquaintance in A. A who saw me coming, purposely mentioned Bill (my late-husband), knowing the ex would snark, giving me fair warning as I had never met B before. I began to see why she’s an ex as she spoke. B made a comment along the lines she heard the devil has a new mate just as I walked up. “She does,” I replied in a tone dripping with sweet poison, “He’s everything a consort of Mine could be and then some. We thrive and burn together beautifully. It’s refreshing to find one worthy, as neither of us are for the weak.” It was wonderful watching her blanch as we are introduced and at her realization that 1- I heard her and 2- I took on the mantle of being Lucifer, thus making the man she just disparaged my mate. So who was the evil one?
All of that to say that I’m exhausted and that’s all I have for you dear people. Stick a fork in me folks – I’m done for the day.
Someone had posted in a recent slice that one evening when they were too tired to work on the slice they wanted they used a random word generator that gave her several words. She then (not so?) simply gave short a memory or factoid invoked by said word. Easy peasy-ish. I liked that idea knowing as we wound down I would have at least one such “It’s after 11 I need to post a slice moment!” and here it is.
I have no idea where or what I clicked, but I wound up with this:
Well I’ve done it now. Never one to give up a word challenge, I played the hand I was dealt. And also because I am a self-flagellating glutton I was determined to use all three words.
Though I know this is not what you meant or the option you used on your slice, this is what I got and thus makes this partially your fault – you know who you are. Stop smiling!
So without further ado – I give you “Parentronustring”
Parentronustring – an extremely rare form of the Patronus spell. Users invoke the same Patronus spell of ???. However instead of a spirit animal appearing it is the spellcaster’s parents who are move beyond this earthly plane. Please note the use of plural here. Yes, the young witch or wizard first casting this spell is an orphan.
For reason no one has been able to explain, both parents will have died of causes other than magical or ill-intent. Usually it is from something medical such as an untreatable terminal illness. Or a random freak accident such as struck by lightning in a storm. It is always both parents that have died from such causes. The parents may not have died at the same time, but both have passed away at least a year before the young witch or wizard has received their invitation to wizarding school letter.
The shock of this is often so disturbing to the child they immediately reject it. Akin to the Sorting Hat, that sometimes takes the wants of the user into consideration, so does the Patronus spell. Once the student of the Parentronustring finds the courage to cast again, it will be of a figure, a spirit animal, more palatable to them.
A Parentonustring’s first casting invokes the parent who died first. The spell has the suffix of “string” because, unless a traumatic event of such magnitude cause a change – see ?? Snape’s Patronus change from ?? to Lily Potter’s ??, for the rest of the witch or wizard’s life one parent then the other will appear in a rotating string.