It’s Been a Minute

“You haven’t blogged in a while. What’s up with that?”

My friend Jeff and I were on the phone, old school: no Zoom, no FaceTime, 90 minutes and counting.

Jeff and me in the eighth grade play!

We met in the seventh grade. If I went back in time and told 12-year-old me that Jeff and I would still be friends 30 years later, I know 12-year-old Janet would look at me with clear eyes and say, A-doy, of course we will!

“I don’t know,” I replied to Jeff. “After George Floyd, I felt strange about blogging.”

“How so?”

I struggled for the words. “It’s sort of like what happened after 9/11,” I said. “The world shrank in that moment, yet the moment spread across the globe. We’re in the midst of a long overdue cultural shift. There’s serious work to do. Important moral changes need to happen. There’s so much to learn, especially about points of view. I only have my own, but I – we – have to learn to see the world from other points of view. It takes practice to be empathetic, to truly put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s the first step to truly becoming an ally.”

“It’s hard,” Jeff replied. “Especially if you have a limited imagination.”

“Generation X in a millennial world seems so pointless. I don’t think they’re handling BLM better than we are, I think it’s about the same. But they process it differently. They reflect and pour out their thoughts in real time. There’s no pause. I feel like Gen-X broods before sharing.”

“Why not write about this? What you’re trying to process?”

I snorted. “No one wants to hear a Gen-X white woman’s thoughts on Black Lives Matter.”

“No one,” Jeff agreed.

“How would I talk about processing the movement as me, but without it being about me?”

“How about just like that?”

***

My friend Melissa – also since the seventh grade – began sharing pictures of her family dinners again. She’d stopped because it seemed frivolous. “But, I realized a little frivolity goes a long way in trying times,” she wrote on Facebook.

Melissa’s Gado Gado from the original
Moosewood Cookbook

I’m glad Melissa’s posting again. Her posts don’t take away from the serious issues of our world. They provide a break, a chance to breathe. We need the breaks to keep up the BLM momentum because it’s all uphill from here. Breonna Taylor. Jacob Blake.

Melissa inspired me. Look at her beautiful meal! She’s inspiring you too, I can tell. We’re lucky to have Melissa’s gorgeous meals and witty life commentary back on our social media feeds.

So here I am after a three month absence. Hopefully with a little frivolity of my own.

I’ve missed you! Leave me a comment or send me a message on how you’ve been managing with COVID, BLM, unemployment, and everything else going on in the world.

Electric Skin (a 99-word short story)

Hot bubbles swirled around Dominic. Strong jets of water targeted sore muscles above his shoulder blades, along his spine, the backs of his calves. Dom shifted against them, letting new muscles get pounded back to health. Wrinkled fingertips skimmed the top of the water. A bell rang. Dom heaved himself out of the jacuzzi. He trudged over to a small circle in the floor. Bright light illuminated its still waters. Dom braced himself. He plunged into the icy depths. Every nerve sparked with life. Rainbows danced across his eyelids. Dom pulled himself out of the chilly water and grinned.

END

I’ve entered another 99-word flash fiction challenge at Carrot Ranch Literary Community. The challenge is to write a story about deep waters. Why don’t you join me? The deadline is this Tuesday, June 16. See you there!

Can You Breathe?

Eric Garner couldn’t breathe in 2014. George Floyd couldn’t breathe in 2020. Learn about how little has changed in six years here.

The Groveland Four were wrongfully accused of raping a white woman in 1949. In 2020, white woman Amy Cooper called NY police on a black man after he asked her to leash her dog in Central Park. Learn about how little has changed in 70 years here.

My mother taught me that it is wrong to not like someone for something they have no control over, like skin color or gender or sexual orientation or a disability. I’m not the only well-meaning white person who wants to help my fellow Americans and can finally see, plain as day, that meaning well means nothing.

For all of my generation’s luck to be born after the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For our TV diet of Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and Schoolhouse Rock. For the rise of rap and hip-hop as legitimate music. For the first generation of black athletes paid their worth. Generation X has had very little impact on systemic racism in America.

Generation X is pessimistic about social transformation. Millennials are more likely to oppose racism, according to Data for Progress.

Last night I checked in with friends in San Francisco, which just enacted a city-wide curfew. We talked about how sad and helpless we felt. “Donate! That’s what I’ve been doing,” Marshall said. Marshall is one of the smartest, kindest, most gorgeous people I know. And yes, he’s a millennial. “Put your money where your heart is! You want to help but you don’t want to feel like you’re just sad and angry and powerless. But I think by doing the research, understanding why and how black Americans have always been discriminated against, and then taking some sort of action, you’re playing a role.” He immediately DM’d links to resources all over social media.

I’m a white middle-class American woman. I have a lot to learn. But I’m a dutiful student. After going through Marshall’s links I went to Black Lives Matter and started at the “About” tab. Next was donate. Money makes policies change. Check out this great resource for donating by The Cut.

Learn more about how to be an effective ally here.

Read the LA Times’ Op-Ed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge here.

What about you, how are you feeling? What actions are you taking? What else can well-meaning people do to help? Let me know in the comments below.

Karens for Good, a reddit thread

Alyssa’s Greatest Hits

IT HAPPENED! Freddie and Alyssa hosted the Zoom chat with the 3 winners – including me! It was a blast! Alyssa and Freddie are genuine, sweet people. We talked about DAYS of course, but also theater, public health, hometowns, pets…a wide range! It was so nice to have conversations with new people. Like we were strangers chatting each other up in line. I long for those pre-COVID moments, the chance encounters with strangers that could go either way – a friendly conversation that makes your night or a dude shouting at you to suck their d!ck. (Do I look like I’m into baby food? F*ck you!)

I didn’t thank them during the chat like I’d planned. It felt weird with others on the Zoom – they were there just as DAYS fans, not The Pivot Principle. Instead, I sent a brief DM after:

Thank you Alyssa and Freddie! If you wondered if something good would come of posting The Pivot Principle on YouTube, IT DID. It gave me the push to change my life. From unused potential to being kinetic. From frozen with fear to giving-no-sh*ts if I fail because there is value in trying. From C activity to A activity – wow, it’s the best way to learn. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for writing it and sharing it!

So, as I pivot (see what I did there?) from effusively blogging about my millennial gurus, I give you a gift: Alyssa’s best quotes. May she upend your world like she did mine. Drop some knowledge, Alyssa!

The magic you’re looking for is in the work you’re avoiding.
Introduction

Any time you catch yourself about to say, “I don’t have the time for _____,” stop and say, “_____ is not a priority.”
Ch. 5, Pivot on Purpose

To reach new heights, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Ch. 1, Pivot from Fear

Only use positive words when speaking, especially to yourself.
Ch. 3, Pivot your Mindset

If all you do is try and speak your life into existence without action, you will see zero progress. But the moment you align your actions with your beliefs, and make your intentions clear to the world, you will be pleasantly surprised. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? Positive reinforcement not only to yourself but to the world will leave you ready to rock it. Revive your sparkle, manifest your dreams, realize your worth.
Ch. 7, Pivot your Routine

There is no perfect moment. “Being ready” is an excuse.
-Ch. 1, Pivot from Fear

The Zoom chat!
OF COURSE I ADDED IT TO MY STORY

Comfort Food (a 99-word short story)

One pound of lean ground turkey, one pound of 80-20 ground sirloin, one packet of McCormick meatloaf seasoning, one egg, one generous handful of Progresso Plain Breadcrumbs, half of a medium diced onion, one squirt of ketchup. It’s important to mix everything into the ground meat by hand, but don’t overdo it. Your grandfather and I added a twist: divide the mixture into twelve muffin cups. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Your grandmother always tried to sneak a half a meatloaf muffin without us noticing. She was so silly! I see both of them in you, my child…

END

I’ve entered another 99-word flash fiction challenge at Carrot Ranch Literary Community. Why not mosey over there and give them a look-see?