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. 

F.A.R.T’s and Palm Reading

Writers and artists often struggle in isolation. They face self-doubt and fear at their easels and desks. Sometimes the celebrations can be lonely too. That’s why friends who make art, and write must stick together. If you need a reminder of this fact, simply consider the acronym F.A.R.T.

Friends
Art
wRite
Together

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, just like the noxious fumes that emanate from one’s tuchas, true writing and art friends are hard to get away from. Sometimes they announce themselves loudly with a knock on the door, sometimes it is just the gentle “bing” of the Google chat notification. Even if they seem to disappear for a while, they come back stinkier stronger than ever. They release tension, bring humor, and when your insides are twisted in knots over your current WIP– they make your tummy feel better.

Today I met with the incredibly energetic and optimistic Julie Kingsley. (the very same person who nominated me for the Lovely Blog award.) Julie and I share many talents: we both write, we both teach, we both parent. But the one thing that Julie can do that I can’t–  she can read palms. Perhaps it was her past life as a gypsy wanderer, or a paranormal gift with which she was born but the woman can tell the future.

Okay. Maybe she can tell the future and maybe she can’t.

What a friend can do is look in your eyes and tell you the truth. She can see the positive when your rose colored glasses are foggy. She can wipe the glasses off for you, point you in the right direction and give you a swift kick in the tuchas.

Hopefully, when she does, you don’t fart.

Book Review Wednesday: Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen


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OLIVIA BEAN, TRIVIA QUEEN
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
March 13, 2012, 288 Pages
ISBN: 978-0385740524

Donna Gephart won the 2009 SCBWI Sid Fleischman Humor award for her debut novel AS IF BEING 12-3/4 ISN’T BAD ENOUGH, MY MOTHER IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT! In OLIVIA BEAN TRIVIA QUEEN, Gephart’s third novel, the author known for her humor does not disappoint.

Olivia Bean has some very clear cut goals. She wants to be better at geography. She wants her father’s approval. She wants a friend. Olivia is sure that the path to her goals is to be a contestant on kid’s week of the game show Jeopardy!. This course of action is not far fetched. All the Bean’s are trivia crazy from Olivia, to her kindergarten brother Charlie, to her absent father. In fact, the bits of trivia that pop up throughout Olivia’s day successfully develop her character and keep the story moving forward.

Gephart creates many true-to-life characters who are full of faults. Perhaps the most flawed is Olivia’s father. An obsessive card player and gambler, he left Olivia’s mother and moved West with Olivia’s best friend’s mother. Just this is enough to turn a reader’s stomach, but Gephart doesn’t stop there. This father schedules calls with his kids and doesn’t follow through. He brushes Olivia off when she needs his support, and he shames her about the challenges she has with geography. Still, Olivia loves him.

Charlie, a five year old who hardly remembers his father, is just as enamored of trivia as Olivia but he prefers the gross variety. If you want to know how many bacteria there are in a square inch of armpit, or why a flamingo pees on its own leg, Charlie Bean can tell you that. Charlie is a constant source of comic relief in this sometimes very serious story. Gephart writes kindergarteners well and the dialogue between Charlie and Olivia is authentic, funny, and often heart warming.

Olivia lives with her journalist mother and almost step-dad Neil. While both are supportive and attentive, Olivia misses her father. She also misses being her mother’s confidant– a relationship that often occurs between a single parent and the oldest child. As the family faces money issues, Olivia matures and comes to terms with the fact that Neil is Mom’s new main source of support.

The book is written in first person present tense. This point of view transmits a sense of urgency– not only the reader, but also the narrator, is unaware of what comes next. Sometimes, the present tense can seem self-conscious and jars the reader out of the story. This was the case in OLIVIA BEAN. The benefit of this technique is that neither readers nor Olivia know if she will make it onto or win Jeopardy!. However, a past tense telling would have been just as exciting and more in keeping with the middle grade genre.

There are subtle chuckles tucked throughout OLIVIA BEAN TRIVIA QUEEN as well as a few laugh out loud moments. In this fast paced story for middle graders, the humor is a successful vehicle for more serious and skillfully handled coming of age issues.