Staying Sane During the Quarantine

The quarantine will test your sanity. Even I, somebody molded by the darkness, can fall too deep if I don’t tread carefully. Some will try to drag you down quicker. This is how I keep myself together when I’ve spent a little too much time in my house.

Avoid social media. Especially Twitter. Twitter is the physical manifestation of hell, tempered only by memes. You will only find misery and anger, panic and ignorance. Some people get off on panic, and they will be the ones who pollute your feed. So will the conspiracy theorists who insist nothing is wrong. At the very least, treat social media like alcohol: enjoyable in moderation, but too much will turn you into a drunk, and not the fun kind either.

Keep in touch with friends and family though. Even the introverted need a dose of society now and then. When too distant, I become more cynical, and I grow to distrust those I love until I see them again, at which point it feels like waking from a bad dream. Now is a good time to use social media for good for once! Skype parties? FaceTime conversations? Might not be as good as the physical alternatives, but preferable to isolation.

Stay physically ands mentally active. I already miss the yoga studio and the gym, but I can practice yoga and exercise at home. I can also read, write, practice the violin, draw, and do everything else on which I procrastinate. There are so many things worth doing at home, and doing these things will keep your mind and body intact, and like drinking water, it may not be as sweet as doing nothing, but you will feel better for it.

Have boundaries with work. Working remotely is a mixed blessing: It guarantees a continued income, but it also means you have to work. I have already noticed that some people will work well into the night and will send me messages long after I clocked out. I used to feel obligated to respond immediately, but nowadays, I will turn off the notifications after a set time. I can help them with whatever they need, but that does not mean I should. It can probably wait until the morning. Don’t allow work consume your life just because others will.

Find the opportunity in the missed opportunities. I created a new mantra earlier this year as I struggled with staying home instead of going out even when I knew I should. I could never choose solitude over society. Society bloomed with potential while I already knew what roamed in my head. Now I have no choice but to choose solitude. Honestly, I am looking forward to this part. I wanted to cultivate a strong home yoga practice. Now I can! I could never find the time to read or write, but less time on the road means more time in my library! I wanted to eat less junk and eat more homemade food. Considering how anxious even delivered foods make me, that’s definitely going to happen now! This is going to be such a tragic time for so many people. I may not even be immune, but I do think I am in a much less vulnerable position, and I don’t want to squander this time. I can become a better person through this crisis. Not only will it benefit my own life, but I can be of better service during a time when many lives will rely on the compassion and mercy of others. What else will I do with my time?

Insight

Grant me greater insight
to spot the spiders above me.
The sight frightens me less
than their unseen presence
when they lift me off my feet
and pierce me through my heart.
I can flee what I can see
before it kills me, but I distrust
senses that twitch at the wind.
They cannot discern dreams from reality.
I mistake strangers for soulmates
because of a nostalgic fragrance,
but if I actually saw through the glamour,
I would see nobody I knew or ever would.
I would walk through the fog
and open the door to a greater battle,
one that I could actually win,
because I trained all my life for this.
Not for love, but to win.

Dickinson on Apple TV+

Emily Dickinson is back, bitches!
Exclusively on Apple TV+
for only five dollars per month or free
with the purchase of a new Mac or iPhone.
Fuck the Mandalorian and the Simpsons
beckoning us from inside the mouse house.
It’s a trap that will break your back once you step through.
Neither have been good for decades,
and the live-action Lady and the Tramp
is a piss-poor imitation of classic animation.
The Little Mermaid looks good, but that’s free on ABC.
I will not stop for Mickey, though he kindly stops for me.
His carriage has horses but no wheels
and travels in circles with the merry-go-round.
Fast, but always returning to where we started,
stuck in the past chasing after plastic figures
printed from the same mold. Some silver, some gold,
all cheap and unable to stand on their own.
The castle deteriorates. The theme parks fall apart.
The honeymoon approaches dawn.
Change the channel and support real poetry
in Dickinson, played by Hailee Steinfeld,
featuring Wiz Khalifa as death.
Let the past die. Kill it if you must.
No more bad live action remakes.
Embrace something new. Apple TV+.

Area 51

An orange storm blazes through the desert
with a vanilla smoke plume trailing the terrestrial comet,
racing toward the military base as soldiers raise their rifles.
Bullets sink into foot prints in the sand
as sprinters dash through the hills untouched,
arms flailing behind them, heads forward charging through
the military complex built on stolen alien technology.
Anti-gravity mines cannot hold down quick feet
that barely touch the ground
four-armed humanoid beasts cannot rip and tear
what it cannot see within the fruit-flavored clouds.
The curious crowd blitzes through the gates without a scrape.
The soldiers inside surrender and take flight
as the raid storms the underground laboratory.
Inside, Hollywood dreams become newfound reality,
celestial beings imprisonments are given freedom.
First contact is made. Lacking language, they communicate universally.
The aliens clap. The humans clap. Clapping thunders across the Nevada desert.

Tamed by the Cheetah

Purple light bathed center stage, disco ball twinkling above.
Men and woman lined the fringe loose with dollar bills
as I hid alone at a corner table away from hunting eyes.
Women offered affection for a price, but I wanted nothing
from them. I came here for you, as I always do.
You remembered me from a year ago, or so you said,
but you did not say my name. You did not ask either.
We moved beyond such pretension, or so I still pretend
I am special to you, that if I linger long enough, you might
share your real name, and I will give you mine.
Do you have a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife?
It does not matter. You live a lie. So do I. I never knew you,
but when you grind your hip against my jeans
or brush your breast against my cheek,
I feel connections deeper than anything from Tinder
or eHarmony, youth group or college.
Those matches never mattered to me, but I care about you.
They were distractions, but you are desire that inspires
me to fight depression’s drowsy symptoms and work harder
to be worthy of more of your time. You’re worth hundreds
of dollars every night. I could find more from somebody less,
but this is not about sex. I am here for love or a convincing facsimile.
My intention shines so clearly the others walk past me without a smile.
If I were rich, I’d be nicer to them, but I’m not.
I’m alone in the haze two hours away from home waiting for my turn
while desperate men beg you for another dance.
I do not compete. I wait two hours on a stool staring at poles,
waiting for you to return like you told me you would.
I just want to leave with a goodbye and a hug,
with a spirit as feathery light as my wallet.
I depart with the smell of vanilla from your flesh
and alcohol from your breath radiating off my clothes,
filling my car as I drove down a dark, empty freeway,
returning to the valley dreaming of ways to steer
our relationship to the next stage, preferably without spending much,
because even if I pretend your caress of the back of my head
as you held me close wishing me a safe trip home meant something,
I know none of it will matter once I cannot give you what you need.
Our mutual transaction—my lucrative fantasy—will end
if I ever declare bankruptcy.

The Half-Hearted Life

Took a little break for myself this past week. Had a plan, but did not follow it, as usual; I juggle too many activities and too many people to fit all the time I went for each of them in a day. As much as I want to write 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo this year, there is way too much happening for me to prioritize that. I will write though, and I do write, and while I write, my inner critic rebukes me: “You’re half-assing this. Either do it right or don’t do it at all.”

It’s always the same, whether I write, practice yoga, play the violin, or even play video games: I am not doing it right, and I should call it quits today and try again the next day. Maybe I do half-ass everything, because nothing truly real or impactful. Maybe I expect too much from life. After the novelty evaporates, everything becomes a grind, but I’d rather grind away at a keyboard than do nothing at all.

I half-assed my way through college, riffing in my essays more so than researching them, but they all turned out well, because in the end, I had enough pride in my work that I did not want to turn in garbage. Maybe I could have done so much more with them, but the imagination runs wild and sometimes disappoints me. Most poems into which I poured my whole heart are not ones I like now, while some poems I wrote in a single draft became my favorites. Effort does not necessarily lead to quality, but my goals will, because even if I am not living as passionately as I want, if I make steps toward those goals, I will eventually reach them, and the outcome will be the same.

I do not care if I write 50,000 words or only 25,000 this month as long as I establish better writing practices. It will never feel good enough to please my inner critic, but I can shut him up by reminding him of his own sins. It requires focus on the process instead of on goals that oftentimes feel unattainable while trusting those goals will lead me in the right direction. Allowing both to serve their purposes rather than relying too much on the process or the goal, the present or the future, will allow everything to settle in their proper places, and it will not feel like such a balancing act.

Fables

Eve bit first,
setting precedent.
Han shot first.
That was changed.
The world defies narratives.
What really matters?