— I used to use this blog almost as a daily diary. I stopped doing that a long time ago, although I still write very personally, even if I’m talking about, you know, Frances Farmer. I think my regular readers all know this. The habit to come here every day isn’t just strong … it’s a given. But the desire to fill people in on what’s been happening is almost nada now. I think part of it is social media. Something about that shit makes me want to keep everything private because man those people are brutal. At the moment, like 90% of my life is off the blog. And that’s fine.

— This year has been e-n-d-l-e-s-s. I look back at early March and it seems like a drowned Atlantis to me, a lost world.

— Been reading a lot of Hannah Arendt right now. This whole year has been about reading about totalitarian atmospheres, rules, traditions – because it’s all playbook. They use what works. As you all know, this is not a new interest for me. I started the blog with these interests already firmly developed. But now feels like a more crucial time than ever to bone up on how propaganda and power work. Stay strong. Don’t let those motherfuckers take away freedom of speech and/or thought. Fuck that. Hannah Arendt is a good guide. Keep your wits about you. Shit’s gonna get worse.

— I miss my family. I miss the world. Tough times makes you want to huddle up together. And we can’t do that now. It’s very very hard. I’ve been crying a lot.

— My nieces and nephew made me sympathy cards for the death of Hope. It touched me so much. They are the sweetest little people and I love them so much.

— During my lengthy time in Rhode Island this summer, I spent a lot of time with my nieces and nephew. One night, we all watched What’s Up, Doc?, a family tradition. My nieces and nephew are 12, 10, and 5. And let me tell you: they TRACKED all those plaid bags. I would say, “Wait … is that the document bag?” Little Pearl piped up: “No, it’s the bag with the jewels.” They were so INTO that Venn diagram aspect of the movie. (I love the anecdote about Buck Henry, who wrote the screenplay: Bogdanovich wrote the first draft and gave it to Buck Henry to read for input. Henry read it, put the script down, thought a second and then said, “I think there needs to be one more bag.” So they invented the secret-government-agent guy with his bag of classified documents. This is Buck Henry’s genius. Imagine the movie without that one more bag. It’d be WAY easier to track each bag. Add one more … you get total fucking chaos.) But I loved so much how my nieces and nephew kept track of those bags. William: “Okay so he thinks that’s the bag with his rocks, but it’s really the bag with the jewels.” Bless them. They also thought the movie was so funny, which means they already have excellent taste and great senses of humor, which of course they do, they’re O’Malleys.

— Carefully planned time with friends. Either Zoom calls. With Sheila … with Kate (long overdue!) … with Keith and Dan … with Jen. Texting with Wade. WADE. We’re back in touch. Makes me feel so good AND glad we got together a bunch in the year leading up to the quarantine. Day spent at the beach with Brooke. Day spent with Beth. (She sent me home with freshly made pesto.) Morning spent with Meredith. (She sent me home with two mason jars of pickles she canned, as well as a dozen eggs – all different colors – laid by her chickens.) Lots of time spent with Mitchell, who was quarantining with Luisa and Brenda. Time spent on the porch, where we could be distant, listening to music, talking, laughing, being together. A few days holed up with Allison. Time with Siobhan and Ben and my niece and nephew. All of this needing to be planned so we keep everyone safe. My isolation has been extreme. It’s changed me. My worst/best tendencies exaggerated. I didn’t write about how weird it got in March/April. Maybe someday. It was hairy. Men from my past were emerging … which they have a tendency to do when the world gets scary … they all want to reach out, and they do. I know I didn’t have it worse than other people, and I’m not saying I’m the only one. But guess what, this is my blog, so I talk about myself here. We’re all “going through changes” (hello Eminem) … and trying to stay connected, however possible, is the most important thing.

— Perhaps not surprising but Eminem – going through his career, record by record, track by track – has helped get me through this time. I did it very methodically, going from the beginning to the end, trying to catch every guest verse in chronological order too. I participated in all of this in real-time as it all came out but I’ve never put my focus on the catalog so single-mindedly. I know it’s because I needed a project, an engrossing project, mentally challenging, requiring a lot of me. You can’t just sit back and chill and listen to Eminem. He won’t let you. So that’s one of the things I’ve been doing as these hard months have limped on. That’s why I had to write that enormous piece about him. He’s been a lifeline, for real, no joke.

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9 Responses to Snapshots

  1. Todd Restler says:

    I just read about Hope. So sorry for your loss. Been seeing her pics all these years, but somehow never knew you rescued her. What a mitzvah as we say. Best of luck with your move, wherever it shall be.

    Keep her name in your heart. We’re better than this as a Country and we’re going to prove it. Hope.

    • sheila says:

      My mother said a similar thing about her name!

      Thank you Todd.

      • Todd A Restler says:

        This is a wonderful, reassuring Twitter thread by Asha Rangappa, for every American worried that this criminally insane Sociopath is going to steal our Country.

        “Every time Trump spouts this kind of garbage, he is revealing that he is TERRIFIED. Ab. So. Lute. Ly. Terrified. His **existential** fear is losing. And he knows that there is a very good chance he is going to lose. And he can’t do a damn thing about it. He will be a LOSER.”

        It hits the Daily Double by also suggesting we all read Percy Bysse Shelley’s “The Masque of Anarchy,” “which you should read in its entirety, whenever you need to refocus”.

        I knew you’d appreciate that Sheila! Hang in there.

  2. Selaine says:

    I’m sorry for your loss, Sheila. It’s true – the hard part of an animal companion is they don’t live as long as we do.

    Have you considered a subscription to your blog? I’m a lurker who doesn’t post or comment much, but I love your writing and check your blog every day. I, for one, would pay to continue doing so.

  3. Donna Thomas says:

    Sorry about Hope. Loss upon loss is my world too. Hard to find any light. I was an ICU RN for many years and I believe in hospice for people and pets. I already have a playlist to be played, if possible, as I cast off this mortal coil. You gave Hope a good life and a good death.

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