Assorted thoughts during a global pandemic...

It has been a long time since my last post. Over the last year and a few months, I've started to write many times but have never finished a full post. So, from all of those writings, here are the snapshots that did get finished.

24 May 2021 - Home home...

The morning of my covid test I was up before the grocery stores. The Tío Pepe sign was still lit over Puerta del Sol while the sol already brightened the sky from below the horizon. Outside the empty airport the morning of my flight, I was already looking forward to the welcome back from my goodbye kiss. My first morning in California I had a sunburn by noon, overzealous in my embrace of that long-awaited Cali sunshine. The next morning was the most excited I've ever been to have someone stick a needle in my arm. (Correction: it was the only time I've ever been excited to have someone stick a needle in my arm.)

I'm home. There is a feeling of calm and groundedness to being on this part of the earth. I know it, and it knows me. Madrid is also home now, and coming back to California made me realize that however long I live in Spain (even if it ends up being forever), I will always have my first home to come to. Time and distance haven't changed my relationship to it. It is something I will never lose.

My siblings and I refer to our parents' home, the home we grew up in since 2001, as "home home," using it to describe itself and distinguish it from our current homes in other places. 

Over my time in Cali, I keep trying to figure out how to describe what it feels like to be back here after all of this time. Is it that being here feels like a dream? Or maybe it is that my life here before feels like it was a dream or part of a past life.

5 Jan 2021 - A whole new year...

Do you ever stand in your kitchen and wonder if the muffled sound you hear is your neighbor-on-the-left's cats, your neighbors on the right having sex, or your own stomach grumbling? This happens to me more in the winter with the windows closed. In the summer it is quite easy to distinguish between these three sounds.

8 Aug 2020 - Look up...

If you live in Madrid, every once in a while you should look up and walk down the other side of the street. I suspect this is true anywhere, but I'm noticing this now because I've never walked so much before (having lived in car-requiring cities in the USA).

Several times over the last few months (especially since getting out of lockdown) I have been walking down a street that I've walked down innumerable times, and suddenly I look up and notice the colors of a building I hadn't before. The way the light of the morning created a shadow through the open brown shutters onto the cream wall of a top-floor apartment caught my eye on the way to work the other day. Sometimes it isn't looking up that surprises me, but walking down the same street on the opposite sidewalk from my usual route, so I am looking from a distance at the buildings I usually pass up close.

Lately, I have been actively working on practicing presence, to combat anxiety, to combat stress, and to enjoy the current moment rather than fearing or fetishizing the future. Some things I have been doing as part of this practice:

  • Meditating for 10-15 minutes each day
  • When anxiety comes up I label it as anxiety and work to accept the feeling, rather than resisting it
  • At the same time, I try to resist getting caught in the idea that I need to figure out the answers to the questions it is presenting (I don't actually need to, but it can be very convincing!)
  • Reminding myself to trust this life, this journey, myself, the universe
  • Resisting the urge to talk through all of the in's and out's of the anxious thoughts
  • Reminding myself that feelings aren't permanent (and I will most likely feel several different ways within a day)
These "look up" moments seem to be happening more often.

I also remind myself regularly of several quotes that I love:
  • "You can do hard things." - Glennon Doyle in Untamed
  • "You can't rush a life." - in one of Brian Weiss's books
  • "I am not responsible for the future." - Me :)

11 May 2020 - The ritual of the oatmeal...

Recently a friend told me he didn't realize that anyone actually ate oatmeal for breakfast. I found that funny because it has been my favorite go-to breakfast for years. And I have noticed during the quarantine that preparing it in the morning has become a calming and comforting ritual each day. My family will tell you that when I add toppings to my pancakes, doctor my toast, or put together a salad, I am rather specific about it and tend to take my time (probably what they would actually say is that when I do those things I am SLOW). The oatmeal is no exception.

Hatted against the sun, masked
against the covid. For some reason,
this picture seemed fitting for this
past year and this post.

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