It’s time for some brief reflections on this pandemic year that nevertheless had its moments of grace and illumination for me as I hope it did for you. It goes without saying that it leaves lots of room for improvement.

 

The dispirit of Christmas

On my morning walk, I often pass a house that since last summer has had a jaunty row of cardboard bears prancing the length of its hedge. The various colored bears are accompanied by a comforting message of encouragement that “we will get by, we will survive.” In early December, the residents of the home added Christmas decorations – candy canes lined the walkway, and an inflatable Santa beamed his Christmas cheer. A few days later, on a cold foggy morning, poor Santa was completely deflated, face-planted in the wet grass. Apparently, any effort to reinflate him has been abandoned, though at one point, he was rescued from his prone position to an upward-facing one, draped against the shrubbery, his flat face to the sky – slightly less pathetic, though still dispiriting all laid out like forgotten laundry. Maybe the residents of that house are saying, “Yes we’ll get though this pandemic but even Santa is not holding his breath.”

 

Masses yearning to breathe

Speaking of breath, the many who have suffered from and succumbed to COVID-19 is an unconscionable government neglect of its citizens. Masks, social distancing, and self-quarantines – simple measures by which we can protect ourselves and others – were for too long eschewed by deniers with the unforgiveable consequence of 19 million infections and more than 330,000 deaths. Income and livelihoods have been lost. The social and emotional isolation has been a challenge for many, including those who have had to endure this pandemic alone. Hats off and hugs to my daughter Natalie in New York City who is among them.

 

There is much to recover from. As we await widespread vaccine distribution and an incoming administration that will be about governance and not criminality, can we also await some justice and retribution for the damage done by the racist, sexist, corrupt ignoramus currently golfing away his final days in the White House and all his enablers?

 

Heads will roll, please

I came across this yard art one morning – plinthless busts scattered on the lawn like non-standard croquet balls among dead leaves and bordered by bare-limbed trees and shrubs. You do wonder about that one statue, the maiden or nymph presiding over that mini meadow of heads. It’s disquieting. Also intriguing, inviting so many questions about the occupants of the house.  What artistic sensibility underlies this random display of heads?

 

It would be nice to see heads roll (metaphorically, of course) of all those responsible for the lies, deceptions, and full-on disregard for the health and welfare of the people and the land of this country for the last four years.

 

The dark sparks a breakthrough

Despite the figurative darkness of the pandemic made darker still by the literal darkness of these last months, culminating in the dark, damp day of the winter solstice, a tiny explosion of insight sparked a solution to a problem of structure and plot in the latest draft of my novel-in-progress that has sat dormant this entire year. Dark days are not always empty black holes.

 

The tongue remains tied

I’m still trying to penetrate that dark corner of my brain where the potential for second language acquisition remains resistant to my efforts at fluency in Spanish. My goal for the end of the year had been to have an effortlessly fluent conversation in Spanish. Fluency in my head has improved, fluency of my tongue only marginally so. I’m overthinking the conjugations and tenses. I’m underthinking the direct and indirect pronouns. But isn’t thinking the problem since fluency means speaking without having to stop and think. I think so.

 

A book receives a little love

My third book of fiction was published in September by Jaded Ibis Press. I’m grateful for the reviews, interviews, and online events that helped bring Living Color: Angie Rubio Stories to the attention of potential readers. But the window for attention is small and slams shuts quickly, especially for small press books. In the spirit of the saying that “every day is book promotion day,” I humbly appeal to anyone who has read the book to please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads.

I still have Living Color notepads to send out to people who have bought my book. Send me a message via any of my social media accounts or through my website with your mailing address. Please send me a random line quoted from the book and the page number. I might do something fun with them.

 

Speaking of fun

Fun is what we need more of after this year. Sometimes, fun is simply watching a baby enjoy the pleasures of a foot rub while watching a Carlos Santana music video. Here is Ilio living his best life.

 

May your year be filled with the equivalent of foot rubs and Santana guitar riffs on your scale of happiness and pleasure.

 

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