Alternate Realities


We are on day 150 of 15 days to slow the spread.

I’m not sure why, but yesterday, either while I was in the pool or mowing the yard, I remembered one of my earlier Nanowrimo attempts. I’m pretty sure that it was the one on the flash drive that I lost.

I attempted to write a space opera set near the Locks of Bahg ‘el.

You can already see that this is going downhill quickly.

The main character was one Verlabeana Frapplestein who ran a dinner where all of the space truckers would eat. The specialty was the pork chops.

I remember one line.

Mug Shots
(click the pic)

“The men loved Verlabeana, but they loved her pork chops more.”

And there, in that one sentence, you have the reason I don’t write Science Fiction.

If you can believe what you read on the Innertubz, Mark Twain said “write what you know.”

I don’t have first-hand knowledge of a galactic diner, but I’ve always considered myself somewhat of a fantasy and sci-fi geek. Although, I’m not necessarily a fanatic.

So, you think I’d be better at writing it.

I am not.

If you had to describe my writing, it would probably fall in the categories of historical fiction and schmaltz.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I’ve got a stack of beach reading ready to go (ten days, if you’re counting, and I am).

There’s some science fiction in my stack of books. For one thing, I have a copy of Dune that I bought in high school but never finished reading.

I know, some sci-fi fan, huh?

There’s a prequel out to The Hunger Games, but I’m too cheap to buy it in hard cover.

Besides, if I want dystopia, I’ll watch the evening news.

True story: I can’t remember the last time I watched the evening news. It has to have been when I was visiting my parents and my stepfather had MSNBC on all the time. But he passed in 2016, so it’s been at least that long.

I have not suffered.

I get enough of the news online and from the talk radio playing in the background. Pretty much after the local morning show, I have to shut that off as well.

I turn to sci-fi and fantasy, and our upcoming trip to the beach because life is stressful enough for all of us right now.

When and how to re-open theater remains a moving target. We’re on the third or fourth plan.

Figuring out the virtual Santa season is a challenge as I try to figure out if I have the right equipment. I currently do not.

I’ve had things heat up with new projects on the day job. Fortunately, in space, no one can see your eyes roll.

We’ve all got things that are causing us stress. Your list is going to vary, but it’s just as valid as mine.

I look forward to the day when I can escape into a book because the news is boring, not frightening.

A day when we can gather again in a coffee shop or a restaurant to discuss our favorite distractions.

I hope they’ll have pork chops.


What have we learned?

We are on day 149 of 15 days to slow the spread.

Six months ago this week, we were sent to our homes to telework. I’ve not been in downtown Richmond, or what’s left of it, since sometime in mid-March.

But I’m happy to report that in that time, I’ve published the Great American Novel, become fluent in Spanish, lost forty pounds, become a piano virtuoso, and solved world hunger.

What? You’d believe it if you heard it on CNN.

Too soon?

Truth is the novel is in very incomplete draft form, the Duolingo owl sends me messages of disapproval, we won’t talk about the scales, and I’ve barely been near the piano.

Also, ask my wife, we can’t even solve hunger in this household.

I don’t know about you, but when this all started, we had no idea that we’d still be here by late summer.

I was just in a work meeting when one of the supervisors said “if we’re in COVID for another year.”

Another. Year.

That is so much another post and I get all het up just thinking about it.

So Scarlet and I will just think about that tomorrow.

Or not. We apparently have time.

When I initially calculated how much “extra” time I would have, I thought about the fact that I was saving

Available in The Write Side Shop (click the pic).

about two and a half hours of the time normally spent getting ready and commuting to and from work.

And, of course I knew me well enough to know that I would use those times wisely.

We all know where this is going, so I’ll save us some time by just saying that none of this worked out the way I planned.

True story, as I was typing this, I told Pandora to switch to The Eagles.

First song up? Hotel California.

I have checked into house arrest, but I can never leave.

I mean, really, remember way back when we all thought it was ridiculous to think we’d still be under house arrest in June?

I’m still trying to sort out what I’ve learned during this time, if anything. I refuse to say that I’m “processing” it because I really do hate that term.

You process sausage. For just about everything else, get the facts and make a decision.

It’s rather obvious that I’ve not used these six months to learn patience.

I have a low tolerance for bovine scatology. And I say that having grown up in the hills.

I do think that I’ve had the chance to prioritize some things.

For the first time in a long time, I’m not just going around putting out fires, not even the ones started by the peaceful protesters.

Too soon?

Instead, I’ve been able to look at all of the projects and plans that I’ve thought for so long were oh so very important.

It’s been rather liberating to realize that the reason some projects were not getting done was not because I didn’t have the time, but that they weren’t important enough to make the time.

I think we’ve also learned that most of us are nicer in person than we are on social media. At least I hope we have.

I hope when we come out of this, we’ll be able to share handshakes and hugs. I’m personally okay if neckties never come back.

I don’t know when this will all end. I hope sooner rather than later, but we said that back in March.

Let’s just hope we can all take a look at what this experience has taught us.

What is really important.

Even more, who is really important.

On that one, don’t wait for our overlords to yell “olly olly oxen free.” Check on people now.

This is hard stuff. People are hurting. People are lonely. Some people have seen their lifetime dreams go down the drain.

Check on them.  Do it today.

I realize that I’ve been given another gift. I can laugh my way through just about any absurdity.

Not everybody is able to snark their way through a pandemic.

Even I’m finding it harder and harder to laugh this off.

But you know I’m going to try.

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash