My Sunday Reset

When met with stress and hard times, people develop interesting coping skills. Whatever works and feels good, really.

Without really planning it or meaning to, I’ve developed a covid coping skill around taking hot baths. Like, ridiculously long, hiding-from-my-family marinating.

Pre-covid, I’d only take baths as a special treat, usually on Mother’s Day and any other random day I needed to feel pampered. Two-three times a year. Last spring, I decided out of the blue that a hot bath was in order. Maybe this started with Mother’s Day 2020 and I just kept going? Quite possible.

Back then, I’d dump in whatever bubble bath my kids had in their bathroom and I’d make the water as hot as it’d go. I’d drag in my hamper and place my laptop on it so I could watch a movie. Or I’d bring a book, my phone, or have all three. You know, just in case. I’d light a smelly candle whose scent my husband can’t stand, and I’d be in business. I’d soak until the water was cold and my hands were wrinkly, and then I’d soak some more. Eventually, I’d actually clean my hair and body and then rinse off all the soapy residue in the shower before reentering the real world.

Once winter started seeping into my bones and soul, I upped my game. I ordered proper Epsom salts and for Christmas and I asked for a bathtub pillow and one of those fancy bathtub trays so that I didn’t have to drag in my hamper and crane my neck to the side in order to watch a show or twelve. By the time New Years rolled around, I was feeling bloated and junky from too much sugar and probably dairy (the jury is still out, but that’s another blog post entirely) and my husband and I started walk/jogging at least four miles every Sunday – rain or shine but mostly rain. The only exceptions were when we escaped to the beach for my birthday and when Oregon froze over (not nearly as bad as Texas, but too many Oregonians are STILL without power). So, I’ve been taking a scorching hot bath every Sunday after our run in the cold and wet.

Sometimes – often – I spend some time in the water being still and quiet. No screens, no words, no distractions. I breathe and I let my arms float. It’s like returning to the womb, being vulnerable and suspended in warmth. Evoking my high school freshman English teacher, the water here and the ritual in which it is used is a symbolic rebirth of sorts. It’s my attempt to wash myself of my stress and watch it flush down the drain when I’m done. I shut out the noise and the world and just be. Hopefully emerging feeling refreshed and clean and rested and calmer, more centered.

That’s what’s become of my Sundays.

What coping skills and rituals have you developed since covid hit?


Today is Pepper Day!   While Nano Poblano is only in November, Pepper Day is the 22nd day of every month, so it's extra Peppery!  Post something today.  A blog, a photo, a poem- anything at all! Tag it PepperDay!  Enjoy, and Happy Peppering!

Bright. Warm. Sunlight.

I saw a rainbow today

It started out faintly

And it was only a few degrees of curvature

At first

But then

The showers persisted and the sun pushed through the clouds

It happened gradually

Until I could see the entire beautiful arch

Shine brightly against the dark sky

I turned my back to take a selfie

And I was blinded by the

Bright. Warm. Sunlight.


Day 4

Overdose of Fog

I wrote the following poem in March of 1999 for my sophomore honors English class in high school.  For the topic of our poems, we were to pick a character from one of the books, short stories, or plays we had read during that semester.  I chose Mary from the play Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill.

Spoiler alert for a play published in 1956 (to give some setup for Mary’s character)- the play takes place over the course of one day with a particularly dysfunctional family.  Mary, the matriarch, is struggling with insomnia and morphine addiction and relapses.  She rambles on about how much she loves fog and hates the foghorn that they can see and hear from their seaside home.  Mary expresses regrets in her life, worries about her son’s health, waxes poetic about past happier times, and fantasizes about accidentally overdosing.  At midnight during the last act, Mary wanders the house high on morphine, carrying her old wedding gown.

Our class was to follow a formula for writing this particular poem.  I wish I still had it, but as you can guess, some lines had to be three -ing verbs.  One line had to compare her to a color, another line was used to compare her to a food.  Another line for her scent (where I referenced her wedding dress).  The second stanza included how she treats others, how others view her, and how I see her.  And so it goes.

I remember spending freshman and sophomore years of high school having a lot of fun learning about symbolism in literature and then struggling to write about it.  For Mary’s character, the way she talked about fog as synonymous with being high and numbing out (and hating the foghorn, because it was reality jarring her back), the symbolism for this poem practically wrote itself.

Behold:


Overdose of Fog

Mary

a kind but nervous woman,

lost in the soupy fog of a harbor on the bay.

drifting, floating, dreaming,

fooling, hiding, addicting.

a gray curtain of depression envelopes her.

she clings to the past like ivy to a wall,

scared to ever let go.

She longs for the pale blue twilight to turn to midnight purple.

she plays host to the darkness and the visiting damp, heavy screen of haze as it rolls in,

one comforting layer after another.

She treats others with worried love.

others react with sympathy, growing impatience, anger, and frustration.

They Want The Real Mary,

not the timid mouse she has become,

the one with fake glossy marbles for eyes,

scurrying through the shadows to avoid all possible reality.

I pity that mouse.

Mary

an empty Shell of a Body.

the scent of damp cement and dank clothing trails behind her.

Her flavor is that of moldy bread:

musty and rotting with old memories and regrets.

When will she take her next dose?

What else has she to live for?

An overdose of fog is all she needs…

…but damn that foghorn.


At the time I wrote this, I was very proud of it, and I am happy to report that I still am, all these years later.  Part of the reason why this poem stands out for me is because it was blindly voted the best in my class by my peers and earned a perfect grade as a result.

It was around this time that I first fancied myself as a writer with any kind of real potential, so sharing this early piece of writing more publicly is a gesture that I consider to be…vulnerable, but I also share it with excitement and pride in a show-and-tell kinda way.  You know what I mean.

Sidenote: Ever a rule-follower, I remember feeling quite nervous that I included a –gasp!– swear word in the last line of a school assignment.  But the play was filled with swear words as I recall, and so it fit Mary’s character.  Plus, my teacher for that class swore (…didn’t he?).  At any rate, nobody cared, and when my teacher read it aloud to the class, he actually put emphasis on the word, exactly as I thought it should be read: “…but damn that foghorn.”  If only my swear-phobic 16-year-old self could see my blogger-motherfucking self now.


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