Sunday Lowdown #69 (dudes)

PANDEMIC UPDATE

I continue to do this weird twisty sort of dance to keep people at least six feet away from me while I’m in public. When Indiana’s governor laid out the step-by-step plan for re-opening the economy, it seemed reasonable, but now that I’m living by the plan, it feels like we’re racing toward a second wave of infections. I’ve seen local businesses proudly writing on their Facebook pages that while employees must wear masks inside stores, customers don’t have to. They don’t even write “optional.” The diction is designed to appeal to those who think masks are foolish, for liberals, or useless. Guess which businesses I no longer patronize. #RIPfroyo

Friday night I did another solo date, making a living room pillow pile, popping some corn, and watching Happy Death Day 2U, which did not deserve all those poor viewer ratings. It’s still horror with a bit of humor, but now they’ve added in science fiction. Sure, Ryan and the dean were played by subpar actors, but they’re not even the main characters.

We did another movie theater parking lot picnic on Saturday, which was the best we could do to celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary. The spot where we put the picnic blanket is getting so wild because the cinema isn’t out mowing right now. I told the spouse we were lions on the savanna so I would feel brave for one second.

THIS WEEK’S BLOG POSTS

The more I read Flannery O’Connor’s stories, the more I realize this is a lady who would fixate on an idea and write and write and write about it. Each week, the stories shift a bit, but are also quite similar in theme. Week #3 had a lot of children who watched over adults in various ways. I would argue O’Connor isn’t the best at writing children, possibly because she didn’t have any and doesn’t write fondly of them in her personal letters. If you missed the discussion for Week #3, the conversation is still going on.

Brand-new Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner was a fun, fat-positive read with interesting characters and a plot I couldn’t guess. The author captures NYC in a way that seems real, but doesn’t fail to make a picturesque Maine beach-side wedding, either.

NEXT WEEK’S BLOG POSTS

It’s going to be impossible to avoid a conversation about writers and one about mothers and sons in the discussion of A Month of Flannery O’Connor Week #4. They’re everywhere. I look forward to doing the research and writing this post for Tuesday. If you can get your hands on any of these stories, please join us:

  • A View of the Woods
  • The Enduring Chill
  • The Comforts of Home
  • Everything That Rises Must Converge
  • The Partridge Festival
  • The Lame Shall Enter First
  • Why Do the Heathen Rage?

I’ve read that people in other countries are surprised by the protests in the United States after George Floyd died at the hands of a police office. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in the speech “Other America” the following:

Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear?

You can read a larger section of the speech, including why MLK understands riots, though he always condemns them and violence on this site.

One way that artist-activists speak out against police violence that goes unchecked and unpunished, never even going through the justice system, is in poetry. Although jessica Care moore’s collection We Want Our Bodies Back came out in March, it speaks deeply to a pattern of violence perpetrated on black and brown bodies that makes it feel like it was written yesterday. My review will be posted Thursday.

BOOK I’M READING ALOUD TO MY SPOUSE:

Glory Road by Robert A. Heinlein is proving to be some science fiction fun. Although the author is known for objectifying women, the lead female protagonist is an Amazon of a woman, standing in battle situations on her own, yet relying on the faulty human she’s enlisted to lead her quest to come up with unconventional fixes to sticky situations. As a former soldier, he has skills, but he’s also a self-confirmed coward and total smart-ass book nerd. The spouse pointed out that I gave the third member of team, a sort of servant named Rufo, the voice of Malak from the 1984 film Conan the Destroyer, which was unintentional and cracks me up.

BOOKS ADDED TO THE TBR PILE:

NONE!

41 comments

  1. The twisty dance is real! People where I am are still wearing masks inside, but I can tell they are getting tired of the restrictions. And there were a lot of parties on the Memorial Day weekend. I do wonder if we will see another spike from that.on

    Happy anniversary!

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    • With the protests across America right now — thousands of people gathering in tight bunches — I have no idea how we can deny that there is going to be a second wave of cases. I agree with the protests and believe they should be held, but the masks and the social distancing are so important, too.

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        • It’s wild that America has reached a place where Black people are more afraid of police than a virus. Both are killing them, but one is unseen, insidious, and the other can be protested.

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          • Yes, it’s really quite heartbreaking to read the news right now. But I do hope some good will come from the nation standing up together!

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  2. My twisty dance is more of a crenellation, over the road, back over the road, back over the road … I wasn’t surprised about the riots but I was horrified at yet another example of police brutality (not saying we don’t have that here) and I’m so sad for the losses these communities have faced. I am trying to find direct positive action I can do here, although a lot of the resources I can find at the moment are US-centric.

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      • It’s certainly bigger than at other times. There’s a lovely tribute to Ahmaud in the form of a running shirt locally, too, a lot of us ran for him in my UK running community. And I’ve been trying to share stuff at least and making clear that I consider that Black Lives Matter.

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        • The murder of Ahmaud is especially vile because after the murder of Trayvon Martin at the hands of a citizen who was told by police to not pursue this boy, he did anyway and killed him. I believe the murderer getting off free is what has made ordinary citizens in the U.S. think they should act as desperadoes and will be rewarded, like they’re doing a good thing despite zero training and no one vouching for them.

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  3. Happy 11th wedding anniversary!! I look forward to your review of We Want Our Bodies Back – I’ve been trying to do as much as I can to be an ally to the black community, and one area (of many) where I’d like to improve is to read more black/POC-authored books! Also – is your title a reference to Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure?! 😂😂

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    • LOL, yes, it is a reference to Bill & Ted. I slid that in there and wondered if anyone would notice 😛

      Thank you for the well wishes. It’s weird to keep celebrating things when there isn’t really a big way to celebrate! I’ve done four pandemic birthday parties and now an anniversary.

      JCM’s poetry collection is so relevant right now that I bought my own copy and also bought one for a friend that I mailed to him direct from the warehouse (no post office visits for me!).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Our Stay-at-home order isn’t actually up until June 12th, but at this point, a large portion of the population isn’t abiding anymore. I’m sure you’ve seen the lovely armed protests at our state capitol in the news. >:I
    We’ve been curbside pickup since this starting going down and I do not look forward to opening our doors again. If we forget to lock our doors for 30 seconds, someone inevitably pops in without a face mask on, ignoring the giant red stop signs on the doors. *exasperated sigh*

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    • It’s strange because I live in an area with two library systems and many branches, and it seems like everyone is doing something different based on the needs of the patrons and local and state restrictions. The result can be confusing for everyone, but we’re all trying to do our best.

      I have seen the armed protests about quarantine on the news. Whitmer did just get a fun boost for wearing sun glasses, though, which I thought was a small moment of joy in a country locked in fear.

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  5. Now that I see pictures of your movie theatre spot, it makes more sense to me! It looks like a nice spot! Happy 11 years!

    My husband goes back to work today. They’ve set up all kinds of protocols on distancing and sanitizing but we also know it’s basically impossible to maintain in his job so our family is basically taking a step back in our interactions. I definitely feel like we’re all just waiting to see when and where the second wave hits.

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    • I’m expecting that the second wave in the U.S. will happen sooner than later given the way we were so poor at social distancing and feel that face masks are politically correct rather than correct. Now, with the protests across the country (and images show that people are all bunched together and many are not wearing masks), I don’t see how the virus won’t spread quickly.

      I hope Peter will be safe at work. I’ve found that the #1 thing that helps me is knowing my boundaries and vocalizing them as needed. If someone gets too close, I back up. If they keep tracking with me, I ask them to back up. At least he won’t have Paw Patrol interrupting his meetings anymore! LOL.

      Thanks for the well wishes, too!

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      • I keep hearing September/October for the second wave but with the recent protests, it does seem likely that it will happen earlier. I don’t know if that’s better or worse. In our province I kind of feel like re-opening the schools (which is what happened today) is a bit of an experiment to help them decide what the fall should look like.

        I think Peter will be okay. He works with kids so I don’t necessarily trust them to keep the appropriate distance (and I’m not sure it’s a reasonable expectation to even have of young kids) but I also know that Peter is being as careful as he can. And no, no more Paw Patrol! Though I did miss our morning tea break together today!

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        • I didn’t realize Peter works with children. Is he a teacher? I keep wondering how online learning is going with small children. One teacher friend of mine called it a charade.

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          • He’s an elementary school teacher. It seems like online learning has been more about maintaining the connection with the kids than actually attempting to teach new material. In our district, the final grade is simply an amalgamation of the work the students did before March. Some kids (and their families) have been really eager for work and structure and assignments. Others want to do some of the fun assignments and other families have basically checked out completely of school for the year. There’s such a huge variety in the supports and abilities that each kid has.

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            • I imagine. I’m not sure what it is like in Canada, but teachers can’t assume students have internet or a laptop at home, and some families don’t even keep a regular cell phone number. I try to remember the families who may have parents working in grocery stores or driving trucks, all while their children have no day care AND have to go to school. Kudos to Peter for hanging in there.

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              • No, you really can’t, even if his school area is pretty middle class. He started doing walks and driveway visits just to make sure he was in contact. The traditional classroom model is not perfect but it definitely can’t be replaced entirely by on-line learning for kids.

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  6. Wow, happy 11 years! I can definitely see the lions in savannah bit—being a city person I don’t think I’ve ever seen grass that tall!

    It really sucks what’s going on in the States right now. You know, I’ve been mostly off social media for awhile because the news is making me anxious, so when my brother told me about the George Floyd incident and the protests, I wondered for a moment if he was pulling my leg because I just could not believe that something that shitty would happen on top of the pandemic. Plus I hear there’s also looting now, so it sounds like anarchy there. I hope you and your hubby (and Kitty) will stay safe!

    I’m looking forward to your review on We Want Our Bodies Back. I‘m behind on reading O’Connor because my brain can’t digest anything that isn’t smut atm, but I’ll definitely catch up when my brain does. 😁

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    • I have Twitter solely so I can contact this one reclusive author who only interacts with people on there. She writes so fast that sometimes I have questions about in which order to read the books. Other than that, I have no social media (does Goodreads count?).

      We are staying safe to the best of our ability. On Saturday, Nick and I had a family meeting on the living room floor, sitting facing each other, and Kitty knew something was up because she sat in the middle, lol. She’s funny.

      It’s okay if you are behind on O’Connor. I plan on sharing overall thoughts in my very last post, and some of those thoughts are about how overwhelming O’Connor’s stories can be.

      We Want Our Bodies back really speaks to this moment with George Floyd even though it was published in March. It’s a tale as old as time in the U.S.

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      • I find it very interesting that Twitter would be the choice for a reclusive author—I would’ve thought that email might be the way to go. It seems really hard to be a writer nowadays without also having a fun social media presence (like in Love Literary Style, lol) and I don’t think I’ve read a reclusive contemporary author. (Also, I don’t think Goodreads counts? I‘m just a lurker on all my accounts except Goodreads.)

        Lol, cute! I also find it funny your family meetings are on the floor. Very official!

        Overwhelming is the right word. They also give me the impression that she doesn’t think very well of humanity lol.

        Looking forward to your review of it!

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        • When I visit Twitter, I see that she is CONSTANTLY Tweeting. I have no idea how this lady publishes or finishes anything. She has dozens and dozens and dozens of books, just turned 30, and is on Twitter all the time.

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  7. Happy Anniversary!!! Foot hugs, so adorable.

    I can’t say I’m surprised by the riots in the US, and peaceful protests weren’t going anywhere so this was a natural progression unfortunately. Did I tell you how i went to a reading/lecture by Desmond Cole, a black activist here in Canada? I was one of the few white people, and it was uncomfortable. But, it really opened my eyes to how uncomfortable minorities feel every single day here in Calgary, so I’m so appreciative that I was welcomed in that space, and able to attend.

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  8. Ooh, happy 11th anniversary! (That grass is really out of control!) Looking forward to your Thursday review, on We Want Our Bodies Back, that sounds like an excellent (and disturbingly timely) collection!

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    • The weird thing about me saying that moore’s poetry collection is “timely” is that police brutality has never not been an issue in the U.S., from the days of slave catchers to the Reformation and forward. I know a lot of people zero in on the Civil Rights Movement and then just to today, but there were mass riots (actual riots, not protests) that completely burned down entire cities before and after the CRM.

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      • Yes! I think the protests going on now have been a wake-up call for a lot of people that have been ignoring or just blind to racism and police brutality throughout times that have been “better.”

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  9. Congratulations for your eleven years. Did you say what movie you watched. (It’s eleven years since the last time I was married, doesn’t time fly). I’m glad you are enjoying your Heinlein, he writes good adventures. It’s just his politics that are problematic.

    You’ll be pleased – perhaps that is not the right word – to know that the USA is not alone. In the 1990s Australia had a Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody and since its findings were handed down 430 more Indigenous people have died ‘in custody’ – in prison or in the hands of police – and not one officer has been convicted (I think only 11 were even charged).

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    • On Friday I watched Happy Death Day 2U while Nick played poker over Zoom with his friends. When we picnic, the movie theater isn’t open, we’re just in the parking lot. We used to go to public parks, but they’re so full that we both get quite nervous, so we’ve improvised. Actually, I just read an article that the theater AMC, whose parking lot we keep using, is possibly going to close permanently.

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  10. Congrats on adding ZERO new books to your TBR pile! Woohoo!! I know that feeling well — I add far more books to my TBR than I can ever read. I actually find it very comforting. I’m a weirdo.

    Hehe. I like the idea of being lions on the savannah. Just check yourself for ticks after! Do you have many in Indiana?

    I love that you shared this MLK Jr quote. The riots are scary, but I completely understand. I am choosing not to protest due to being immunocompromised, but my heart is with them. It’s weird… I feel pressure to be visible in those locations, to share things on social media about it, etc. But that just isn’t the sort of person I am. I’m still struggling to process my feelings about the whole situation.

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    • I’m not protesting, either, because I don’t see social distancing or good mask use. I know the protests are important, but what it mean if I showed up afraid and half-hearted? I’ve been doing other things, though.

      I did not check for ticks. I would have to wonder if they’re on the grass in a cement island in the middle of a parking lot. They would need a mammal to survive, right? I don’t know much about ticks, other than DON’T GO IN THE WOODS! This was a good reminder, because I remember what happened with your brother-in-law.

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      • I’m glad to hear you’re been doing other things! I have to, but I don’t want to shout it from the rooftops like so many of my friends seem to be. I just don’t need that attention or validation. I find it weird how many people are sharing all the great things they are doing on social media…

        Fun fact about ticks: They can fast for a LONG time. And they need blood, but it doesn’t matter if it comes from a mammal or not. It’s just easiest for them to bite through mammal skin because it’s so thin and soft. Not to freak you out. Ticks, man. They are technically everywhere. Long grass is their favorite location. But, you’re safe. I know. 😉

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