Quaranterms

I’ve been enjoying the journaling prompts from Suleika Jaouad’s, Isolation Journals Project. Day 56 (for the project) prompted that we coin terms appropriate for our times ala the Washington Post’s longstanding neologisms. Here are my ten in alphabetical order.

Cattoyitis: the persistent condition of purchasing various cat toys and scratching posts (often from Instagram) in the hopes that one might engage your cat in independent play and keep it from scratching the couch to hell. All attempts are likely to fail. (see KittyMommyDearest)

DoleScroll: the act of constantly looking and re-looking for job postings in your field of work when you are unemployed due to quarantine. You know that people rarely get posted jobs, but you do it anyway instead of stalking your LinkedIn network.

FelineThistemper: cat behavior characterized by random hand biting or scratching. Often happens during forced Cattoyitis play sessions with KittyMommyDearest.

KittyMommmyDearest: when an otherwise kind, caring cat parent rages at their cat for misbehavior which is actually just the cat being a cat. Exacerbated by constant isolation with only said cat for company which leads one to believe the cat has human reasoning skills (if/then).

Muffintopless: walking around the apartment with jeans unbuttoned and unzipped. The jeans fit fine in March.

NewsBlues: feeling you get from ingesting too much negative news. (see Newsopti)

Newsopti: person who is ever hopeful that the next time they check the news there will be a vaccine, miraculous cure for COVID19, or that humans will be kind to each other and the Earth. (see NewsBlues)

Overhold: the process of putting a hold on too many e-books from the public library’s Libby App and not reading them.

Taxjolt: the realization that the potponed tax deadline approacheth.

WoeisMomMe: 1. the angst of being isolated away from your children. 2. the eye-roll inducing requests from a mother for increased communication by said children.

5 Naps To Master for Fame and Fortune

I can sleep anywhere—anytime. 

My father used to assure me that this was a very important skill especially if one was a soldier. In WWII one had to be able to sleep standing up or sitting down, night or day, five minutes or fifty, tired or not because you never knew when you’d have time to sleep horizontally in a true bed when the moon and stars were out. 

I appreciated his approval in all things but pursued this skill with a passion, so today, I’m pleased to avail you of five types of naps you’ll want to learn to be successful in life whether or not you are interested in military service. 

  1. The Cat Nap: No cat is necessary for this nap but sunshine is critical. People often misunderstand this nap as a short sleep but nothing could be further from the truth. A cat nap can last as long as the sun warms the napping space. I’ve been known to take these naps on a dock, a patio, a window seat, and on a horse (Don’t try this at home). Like a feline friend, the secret of the cat nap is to a) not care about others and their use of the sun drenched space and b) to be able to wake quickly if threatened. Stretch to your full length permitted by the space. Allow the sun to warm your limbs. Become one with the sleeping surface. Beginning nappers who say they cannot sleep during the day need not try this one.
  2. Resting Your Eyes: To the everyday viewer, a person who is “resting their eyes” seems to have just recently drifted off to sleep. The accoutrement of daily life is still present. The glasses you wear are still on your face, your book is still open (or the book you were reading to your child), your final paper is open on your computer, the movie is on, or the newspaper is still on your lap (the paper kind or a tablet version). During an otherwise productive moment your eyelids seem to have been replaced by weighted blankets and there’s no way you can keep them open. Your head droops and the next thing you know your child, spouse, partner, friend is jabbing you in the ribs and telling you you were snoring. Check for drool and tell them, “I was just resting my eyes.”
  3. The Idea Nap: Einstein, Dali and others have been listed as proponents of creative productivity naps. I too like to take idea naps when I’ve come to a question or roadblock in my own creative writing. This type of nap takes some preparation. First, create the optimum napping environment. For me (as previously mentioned) that means anywhere but other less accomplished nappers may need low lights, a comfy pillow, and a soft, warm blanket. Close your eyes. Ask your question to the universe. Example: “WTF is supposed to happen next in the novel I’m writing.” Breathe deeply and imagine the question hovering just above your third eye. When you wake, it will be much later in the day and time to put away your work. Problem solved.
  4. The Bathtub Nap: Like the nap on the horse referenced above, this requires advanced napping skills as you don’t want to drown. A certain body type is advantageous. My own body is quite long and doesn’t fit in any normal bathtub. That doesn’t stop me from taking baths so warm that my white skin pinks—similar to a boiled lobster. Anyhow, I’m rarely concerned that I will slide under the water. You may find this nap is easier to achieve if you consider it a subset of the “resting your eyes” nap and pair the bath with a book, magazine, or glass of wine. Once the steam does it’s trick you may find you skip the heavy-eyelids step entirely. Next thing you know, you’re as wrinkled as a raisin and not at all clean. Warning: tell a housemate to check in on you if the bath goes on past an hour.
  5. The Quarantine Nap: COVID19, the novel Corona virus, has given us access to what may seem like a novel nap but actually it is just a tumbleweed of tried and true mental health manifestations including stress, isolation, anxiety, and depression. The Quarantine nap often starts as any one of the taxonomy of naps above but upon waking, the napper looks at the clock, notices how many hours in the day still have to be filled, and chooses to go back to sleep. This can continue any number of times. Resting one’s eyes can become a cat nap when the sunbeam hits which can become an idea nap when the sun shifts and can become a quarantine nap when one decides that the day would be better off done. Movement from one piece of furniture to the next is standard. This nap is harder to accomplish with children in the house. See your doctor if your Quarantine Nap lasts a week or longer.

There you have it. The art of the nap. By the way, I have earned neither fame nor fortune with these skills but if you manage to leverage naps into either, at least credit me when you are rich. 

Remnants from another life

After two full weeks of being inside
only
inside,
and tripping over my backpack
in the entrance nook
on the way to the kitchen
multiple times,
I decide to empty it for storage.
I find
a small hairbrush
earrings
lip balm
nail clippers
dental floss
mint gum
a bandaid
pain medication
wrappers from a used roll of Tums
a Diva cup
multicolored pens
my work planner
a New Yorker with a spring illustration cover
a new monthly MTA fare card
and

hand sanitizer.

If I were the president’s speech writer…

(…for a different president. Note: This is a fictional post based on facts.)

VIDEO FEED FROM THE WHITE HOUSE RESIDENCE. PRESIDENT (I’m imagining Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren) BY FIRESIDE WEARING BUSINESS CASUAL.

My fellow Americans. We find ourselves in the middle of national emergency, but as with past emergencies, our strength and generosity will prevail. First, I’d like to thank all of the health professionals and scientists who have harnessed their years of experience and education to provide knowledge, care, and comfort to all of those affected by COVID-19. In order to help health professionals succeed at their jobs and to support their efforts, all industries who are capable of manufacturing and providing health equipment have been ordered to do so. The National Guard, Army Corp of Engineers, and SeaBees have been deployed to build new hospitals. Military medics and nurses have been deployed to the areas hardest hit. I’ve also asked Congress to provide monies to NIH as well as other public, educational, and private labs to continue their work on fast and effective testing, cures, and vaccines.

Unfortunately, that is not enough.

We are the United States of America and while the Governors of each state have been performing to the best of their ability, the experts in the field tell us that there is more we could do.

For the next twenty-one days, everyone must stay at home. We will reassess this order regularly. The only exceptions to this order are those who work in the medical field, grocery, grocery or pharmaceutical delivery, first responders including police and fire-fighters, and grid workers including internet, gas, electricity, and sanitation.Those who fail to follow this order will receive a ticket equal to one month of your current rent or mortgage and will be sent home.

To all of those who have been self-isolating, I thank you for your sacrifice and your service. It is frustrating to see others out and about conducting business as usual when you are at home. It is not business as usual. To those of you who have not been self-isolating, I call on you to put people before profit. Close your business and go home. To help workers and businesses, I’m instituting a 30 day pause on all rental and mortgage payments and ask people to conserve rather than consume.

We must put the long-term survival of all Americans of all ages and ethnicities ahead of temporary pleasure or immediate gratification.

If we do not, our spirit of hope and potential will be killed as the number of fatalities increase. And they will. I do not have time the twelve minutes it would take to read the names of all 588 people who have passed away, 183 in New York alone, but I do want to tell you about just a few.

Oliver Stokes, Jr. who was New Orleans Bounce DJ. He was 44 years old.

Four members of The Fusco Family in New Jersey ages 55-73.

Dale Joseph Witkowski of Fond du Lac, WI who was 55 and worked making outboard motors.

Dez-Ann Romain, the school principal at Brownsville’s Brooklyn Democracy Academy in NY. She was 36 years old.

We mourn their passing and honor their lives by proceeding with compassion towards our fellow Americans of all cultures and creeds.

I will continue to speak to you regularly about how the virus is affecting legislation and security but from now on, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who has the most up-to-date and factual information about the spread of COVID-19, will provide all daily updates via live feed from his home.

Doctor…

Holiday Selling at the Bookstore

Yesterday’s Christmas holiday was a great time to relax after four crazy days on the bookstore sales floor. I love customer service and enjoy every minute that I get to use my experiences as an educator, parent, and writer to inform people about the developmental, pedagogical, and entertainment value of quality books for children.

Here are a few take-aways from the last week:

Parents:

  • Graphic novels are valid reading! I can’t stress this enough. The world we live in today (and the world that children inhabit) is filled with a range of text and images that work together to create narrative. Sequential art and narrative follow complex rules and patterns. The form takes years to master and each title takes years to create. For more on this please take a look at Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. ETA: If you need some suggestions, the “THE 2019 NERDIES: GRAPHIC NOVELS” is a great place to start.
  • It’s okay for kids to read on or below their reading level. I know we are all obsessed with “challenge” and “progress,” but reading something that is “easy” also provides text comprehension and analysis. Moreover, it provides enjoyment and entertainment. Ultimately, we want reading at home to be fun. Your child will be challenged in school. Don’t worry. And remember, plenty of adults crave an airport mystery or romance from time to time.
  • On that note, give your kids the tools they need to pick their own books. Teach them to read the flap copy, read the first page (or a random page) and see if the story is engaging. Help them remember the books that they’ve enjoyed. Encourage them to try other titles by that author or look for other books on a similar subject. Is it too hard or too easy? Kids can use the five finger test—if they have a hard time decoding five times on the first page, it might be too hard. If they want the challenge then let them move forward. Regarding content: people will self-censor. Unless the book is assigned, if a person doesn’t feel comfortable with the violent or sexual content of a literary work, they will often stop reading.

Editors and publishing professionals:

  • Thanks for the diversity that we’re seeing on our shelves!
  • We need more black boys in picture books and middle grade novels.
  • We need more positive representation of black and brown bodies in books generally.
  • We need diverse stories about creators and problem solvers.
  • We need more middle grade and YA books about contemporary teens who play instruments, sing, dance, and are in theater.
  • We need more middle grade and YA books about sports. All kinds of sports for both boys and girls. Gymnastic, lacrosse, baseball, bowling, rowing (hey, I’ve got one of those manuscripts!).

Scaffolding

Sidewalk sheds that support scaffolding in NYC are ever-present due to a facade inspection and maintenance law. (Law 11) While contractors fix bricks, mortar, frames, and flashing many stories up, the sidewalk sheds below provide temporary shelter from summer thunder storms. For the homeless, they provide more regular protection from the elements.

The other day, as I climbed the subway stairs to Union Square, it struck me that something was very different. I stopped and took in the space, circling in place, before I realized that scaffolding had been removed from the building with a ground-level PetCo. Had that store been there for the past ten months? The Square felt lighter and brighter. I’m sure the PetCo owners are relieved too.

The Proper Way to Celebrate a Poet

My dear friends, in January I got a job as the Special Events Coordinator at the children’s book store Books of Wonder. I love the work I do, creating book events for authors and illustrators for both our 18th and 84th Street stores. In the first two months I’ve been there, we put on a successful birthday party for Dr. Seuss that celebrated early readers, picture book bonanzas, launches, and middle grade panels. It’s been very satisfying and extremely busy.

I’ve been so immersed in presenting the work of other authors and artists that I’ve completely failed to celebrate my own work. This week, the poetry anthology, The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-to Poems from Candlewick launched! The beautiful book with illustrations from Richard Jones is now in the world with two of my poems included. I’m grateful to be listed in the table of contents with poets I’ve long admired.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Our editor, Paul B. Janeczko, passed away just before publication and I wasn’t sure what it would look like to celebrate this book in the face of his death. Watching others on social media, I realize that selling the book is a celebration of his life and work. I hope you’ll support your local poet and local independent bookstore with your purchase.

If you are my Mom (hi, Mom!), or my sister, or a past roommate, and you’d like me to personalize your book, order the book from Books of Wonder and write in the comment section of the order form that you’d like Anna Jordan to sign it. I’d be honored.

Until then, perhaps everyone could write a poem or find one you love to keep in your pocket—a few words that you can take out on the subway, or while waiting in line at the grocery store, or before a test at school. A small slip that takes up space to remind you that there are poets and poetry all around us and that you are one too. I think that Paul would like that.

New Year 2019! #grateful

Happy New Year one and all. After the election, during the months of November and December, I started to post from time to time and then was drawn away by other responsibilities.

As December dawned warm and windy in Brooklyn, I was grateful for all the new connections I made. During November, I found the NYPL Business library with career counselors, workshops, database access and much more. I met smart, strong women at the Morgan Stanley Her Way event and saw Times Square from 26 floors up. I shared my goals with an accomplished woman in Bloomberg LP’s C-suite, experienced the high-tech facilities there, and expanded my network. (I’m still giddy about the numbers of salt-water fish tanks and snacks in the Bloomberg LP welcome area.) 

In the good news column, after submitting a blind essay I was accepted to the HarperCollins “New to Publishing” event. This January networking event promises to be a wonderful way to meet the leaders at HarperCollins.

I’m thrilled that my newest magazine article published in the online LGBTQ+ magazine INTO from Grindr. I got to work with wonderful editors who pushed me to make the article, The 40-Year-Old (Lesbian) Virgin, the best it could be. (Click for all of my publication and freelance credits.)

I took work substitute teaching at a private school in Brooklyn. I’ve enjoyed being with students again and meeting the librarians who connect kids and books.

I spent the holiday season at a high-end paper store in Rockefeller Center. With lines to the women’s room that stretched on and on, I was grateful for the key to Shangri-La (the secret employee’s bathroom). If you haven’t waited tables or worked in retail you are missing an understanding of how we treat service employees. Reread Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich and if a retail person asks if they can help you, don’t say you’re just browsing. Throw them a bone and ask what’s new in the store, or what’s on sale. They spend every day with the stock. As I leave the store, I’m grateful for the wage I got, for the increase in the minimum wage that workers in NY will get in 2019, and my awesome co-workers.

Still, November and December were filled with economic anxiety. I ended up using some retirement money to pay off credit card debt from my move. After laboring over the decision for weeks, having a clean slate has been tremendously freeing. I’m thankful for my apartment as it has given me a solid foundation to build my new life. I enter 2019 grateful for my health, my children and my family, reconnecting with cousins, and finding new friends.

On to new and wonderful writing and work!

#GivingTuesday Suggestions

It’s #GivingTuesday and I don’t have any money to give away. In fact, ironically, (sadly) I’m going to be canceling some of my month-to-month giving. If you follow me, then you might be interested in stepping in to take my place. Many of these organizations have matching donors helping out today. Here’s where I would give if I had a job:

NPR: support your local National Public Radio Station in its efforts to give us independent, fact-based, unbiased news reporting.

PEN America: supports first amendment rights and advocates on behalf of writers, reporters, and other artists at risk and supports awards for writers.

ACLU: this organization has been instrumental in challenging the anti-constitutional policies of the current government. Support them and support LGBT… issues, women’s rights, immigrant rights, voting rights, and the rights of us all.

Maine Women’s Lobby: corporations have their lobbyists at the state capitol and so should you. Donate to fund a voice for all Maine women in Augusta and celebrate the 40th anniversary for this important organization.

Eagle’s Nest Foundation: your donation helps provide scholarships for students and campers who would not otherwise be able to attend this loving, outdoor-based, experiential-education community in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina.

NAACP: works to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race.

ADL: The anti-defamation league fights anti-Semitism and all forms of hate.

Books:

WNDB: We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry. Their aim is to help produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.

First Book: provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to children in need. They have donated 175 million books and resources in 30 countries. They currently reach an average of 5 million children every year and serve one out of every three classrooms and programs in need.

Some writing groups I love:

VCFA: Vermont College of Fine Arts is my alma mater and an amazing low-residency MFA program with a focus for Writing for Children and Young Adults. Check out any end-of-year “best-books” lists and you’ll find a significant number of graduates there. Donate or if you’re interested in visiting the January residency as a prospective student call 1-866-934-VCFA or 802-828-8600 or contact the Admissions office via email.

Highlights Foundation: Classes for writers and illustrators, newbies and veterans alike; the instructors are out-of-this-world (many I’m lucky to call friends), the food and lodging are out-of-this-world too.

Hedgebrook: provides residencies and classes for women writers of all backgrounds and various writing genres including poetry, songwriting, playwriting, fiction, and nonfiction in the cutest cottages you’ve ever seen.

Your synagogue, university, hunger prevention, housing assistance program, environmental organization? Where will you be donating today and throughout the year?