Tag Archives: Personal experience

Things I’m Missing Because of the Pandemic

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Things I’m Missing Because of the Pandemic

First it was the scheduled activities that got canceled.
Sunday worship.
Church choir and hand bell choir rehearsals.
Weekly folk dancing.
Bible study. (Though it later continued on Zoom.)
Our Folk Dance Festival.
Writers’ groups. (Though we met several times on Zoom.)
My 50th high school reunion.

Then it was unscheduled activities.
Visits from our children became less frequent and no longer ended with hugs.
Hikes ended because parks closed.
Mani pedis. Because, strictly speaking, they are not necessities.
Retail therapy. Because dressing rooms are closed. And, frankly, I don’t need anything.
Haircuts. Although I had one a couple of weeks ago, because my quarantine hair was so stringy I was tempted to chop it off myself—and we all know how badly that would have ended.

crowd of people

The worst part of staying home was that on March 11, when Covid-19 was just beginning to heat up, my husband, Greg, had surgery, a discectomy and fusion from C3-C6 that was supposed to correct spinal stenosis and relieve his years-long bouts of vertigo. He was told it was a simple operation, and he would spend one night—two, max—in the hospital.

He didn’t snap back.

He couldn’t swallow. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t stand. Nurses asked me how long he’d had dementia. I told them he didn’t. They fed him through a tube in his nose, which he pulled out twice.

On March 20, the hospital called me and told me he’d developed aspiration pneumonia and had been moved to the ICU. My younger son and I went to see him—ventilated, unconscious. We held his hand and spoke to him for three hours.

The next day the hospital closed its doors to visitors, but Greg was moved out of ICU.

A week later, the doctors inserted a feeding tube into his stomach, and he was transferred to a skilled nursing facility, where he remained for nine weeks. He’d contracted metabolic encephalopathy, a serious brain infection that messed up his blood and brain chemistry.

For ten weeks, we couldn’t visit him. That was the worst part of the pandemic for me.

empty bed

Surprisingly, all those weeks that I was alone in my house, I wasn’t lonely. I missed Greg and I was sure Greg would recover quicker if we could just be together, but aside from being worried about him, I was content being by myself. I guess I really am an introvert. Now that Greg is home, we’re happy staying home together.

Sometimes Greg asks me if I’m looking forward to my activities resuming, and I have to say I’m not. I’ve gotten used to the relaxed pace of being home, and the thought of being out three nights a week seems unnecessarily stressful.

Now it’s your turn. How are you holding up? Are you anxious for things to get back to normal? What do you miss from life before Covid? What insights have you gained from doing without?

Mockingbird Blues

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Mockingbird Blues

I’ve now experienced everything.

Last week I was bullied by a bird.

I was minding my own business, walking Ralph, when a bird started trash-talking me. I tried whistling at her, but that just made her hopping mad. I continued on my way—and she dive-bombed me!

From the marking on her wings, I guessed she must be a mockingbird. (Thank you, Hunger Games movies, for giving me that bird-identification frame of reference.) I know birds can get aggressively protective of their nests when they have little ones, but there are lots of trees in my neighborhood, and I have no idea which one she calls home.

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There she is, in my neighbor’s tree, bad-mouthing me.

On the way back from our walk, we navigated the entire cul-de-sac. Bad idea. Mrs. Bird snuck behind me and whomped me on the back. (All right, she weighs two ounces, but I felt that!)

Every day for an entire week, that birdie terrorized me. I tried talking tough to her (“Don’t you dare bother me!”), I shook my keys at her, I wore a floppy hat. Nothing stopped her from swooping at me from behind.

There were two mornings when my plans included doing yardwork. I couldn’t—I was too afraid.

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Yeah, she looks innocent, but she’s terrifying.

I haven’t seen her this week. Maybe her eggs hatched and she’s busy feeding her babies? Maybe her babies died because she spent so much time chasing me that the babies starved? I don’t know what changed. It’s a mystery of life.

Lemon Surprise

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lemon tree

A few years ago we had our yard landscaped, and we acquired three citrus trees: an orange, a grapefruit, and a lemon. This year we had a bumper lemon crop. I still have lemons on the tree that need to be picked. We love to squeeze fresh lemon juice into our drinking water—so refreshing!

Last week I picked a doubled-brown-paper grocery bagful of lemons. These are Meyer lemons, and they grow to the size of little Nerf footballs, with knobby little protuberances on them. My friends have told me to freeze fresh lemon juice in ice cube trays, then store the cubes in baggies in the freezer and use them as you need them. Sounds like a good idea!

I bought a bunch of plastic ice cube trays at the dollar store, got out my 40-year-old electric juicer, and squoze away. I’d been grabbing the lemons one at a time out of the bag.

When I was down to my last tray, I peeked into the bag to see how many lemons were still in there.

The good news: only three left.

The bad news: there was also a scorpion wiggling around in the bag.

scorpion

No, this is not my scorpion, but he looked alot like this. Photo by janeb13 on Pixabay.

We live in Arizona. We are no strangers to scorpions. We go for months without seeing any, and then one will tour the bathroom. We have flyswatters hanging on nails throughout the house; they are my weapon of choice against scorpions.

I took the bag outside and dumped it out on the patio. The scorpion, a common tan bark scorpion, and a big one at that, about four inches, lifted his enormous claws, stuck his powerful tail up in the air, and marched right toward me. I could have just stepped on him, but he was huge—what if I missed? He looked like he could hold a grudge.

Not seeing anything good to whack him with, I ran into the house to get my flyswatter. When I came out, he was nowhere to be found.

The next morning, I let Ralph outside, and I noticed all the water had evaporated from his bowl on the patio. So I picked it up to refill it. . .

. . . and there, underneath, was the scorpion. He took one look at me, said, “What?! You again?!” and brandished his claws and stinger at me.

I ran inside for my flyswatter, and when I returned—he was gone again.

It’s been almost a week since then and I haven’t seen him.

But that doesn’t mean he’s gone.

Writing Personal Experience

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Writing and coffee

Don’t you just love to lose yourself in a true story, whether it features romance, mystery, or humor?

People like to read about three kinds of personal experiences:

  • those that are universal,greta-punch-62508
  • those that awaken nostalgia, and
  • those that are unique.

If you are reading this article, you undoubtedly have had experiences you want to share. How do you write them so they resonate with your readers?

It all starts with a story.

The anecdote you want to share has a beginning, a middle, and an end; one or more characters; a particular setting; a theme; perhaps some action that resulted in a change; possibly some dialogue. You will need to develop all of these as you would in a novel, though economically if you’re writing a short piece. And, your story must have a point.

To have a point, the story must do at least one of these three things:

  • present a solution to a problem,

    photo-by-torgakhopper-on-flickr

    Image by torgakhopper on flickr.

  • make the reader laugh, and/or
  • remind the reader of what we once took for granted but have lost.

In order to be effective, the personal narrative must be well-crafted.

Observe the conventions of good spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Use precise words that are descriptive, active, and visceral. Engage the senses and the emotions. Vary sentence structure. Reflect on how your experience impacted you. What did you learn from it? What takeaway can you offer?

Most of my own personal experience pieces have been published on my critique group’s website, Doing Life Together. Here are some of my favorites:

Have you written personal experience pieces? Feel free to share a link in the comments below.