It’s important to write as an old woman, because you don’t want the universe getting any ideas. And while we’re on the topic of my particular brand of lunacy, I will point out that Folklore, as an academic field, also includes the study of superstitions, and the very fine and intelligent people who believe in them.
Last night I was socializing via Zoom with a couple friends, you know, as we do now, and at one particular ironic juncture I realized I was complaining about my failed strategies at eating well while simultaneously downing a chocolate-covered coffee bean at the rate of one per 80 seconds or so. I went through half a bag of coffee beans this way. <digs bag out of office garbage> Okay, so according to this 5 oz bags of beans, that’s about 2.5 oz of coffee beans I ate. I have no idea how much caffeine that is in grams. No one needs to Google this for me.
I’m usually up late, but after all those espresso beans I was up really, really late. For seemingly a lot of folks, this is often when their anxiety hits. My brain likes to do everything differently, so it plagues me with severe anxiety during the day, and makes the late evening a time of relative happiness. If I stay up past 1am or so, I move from a general sense of quiet contentment to an energetic, goofy punchiness. Like this:
Very often when this happens I make lists. This is the last I made last night this morning.
25 Plausible Ways I Will Likely Die As An Old Woman
Tripping over my corgis. I will break a hip and go into shock. The corgis will try to help, but will fail to dial a phone and instead just stack balls around me. Eventually one of them will try to comfort me by laying on my chest, covering my windpipe. That will be the end.
Doing the Brooklyn Shuffle in the shower and slipping on a gob of hair conditioner. If this happens I will demand that you write DIED BY DISCO on my tombstone.
Accidental poisoning after I absent-mindedly sip too much from the glass containing my dirty paint water.
Avoids surfing entire life because sharks, finally goes surfing at age 80, is eaten by shark.
That kid whose delicate area I kicked in the second grade, when he wouldn’t let me pass him in the hall at school (I mean if you say, “Just try to get past me” you are in fact asking for it) finally finds me.
Houseplants become intelligent and strangle me.
Accidental knitting needle impalement.
Finally takes that dream trip to northern Canada. Going for walk at night, sits down to watch aurora borealis. Falls asleep in snow.
Murdered for making too many bad puns.
Trampled by gazelles in freak accident at zoo.
Fake sneezes dramatically to entertain a toddler, whacks head on nearby hard object, never fake sneezes again.
Finally eats a Brussels sprout, chokes to death.
Starts playing the oboe, accidentally inhales the reed.
Fermenting project gone horribly wrong.
Goes to baseball game, sees foul ball, yells, “GOT IT,” shoves everyone else out of the way…..and gets it right between the eyes.
Falls off train.
Falls off boat.
Accidentally sews/glues myself to chair while crafting. Tries to get up, falls over, hits head, knocked unconscious. Found by useless corgis (see death #1).
Takes job on interstellar cruiser, travels to LV-426. Sees an alien, tries to pet it.
Freak Instant Pot explosion.
Someone finally lets me fly a plane.
Goes hiking, sees bear in distance, reassures anxious friend, “Bears can’t run that fast.”
I made a list of things I might want to do, and pretty soon it grew into something I figured might be useful to share with friends. Here you go!
Chilling out when the stress gets to be too much:
My husband Greg got me hooked on this wildly charming YouTube channel called Doggie Corgi. Every video is just peaceful music and an animation of a corgi having a day with his friends. There’s an Instagram, too. This one is my favorite:
I use the Calm app almost daily. There are stories to fall asleep to, meditations, and music. It’s wonderful. A lot of their stuff is free right now.
Another app I love is Insight Timer – if you dig bells with your meditation, I think this app has the best tones (and intervals!).
A great resource if you just want something on the screen, is the 4k Relaxation channel on YouTube. I actually use these often, when my anxiety gets bad. One of my go-to’s is Pacific Northwest Coastal Oregon. If you use the search bar for the channel, and put in “hike”, you will get a list of virtual hikes. This might sound strange, but it’s incredibly peaceful. Try it. You might think that nothing can beat a real hike, and you’re right, real hikes are the best. But this is a surprisingly awesome alternative when you’re stuck at home.
Don’t forget your local public library, which likely still has online services working. You can login to your account using your library card number, and download books using Libby.
If you have an eBook reader (Kindle, Kobo, Nook, etc.) and want to learn more about expanding your ebook horizons, check out Mobile Read Forums. Lots of great information about buying, using, and troubleshooting different types of eBook readers.
My favorite app for managing my hoarder’s collection of eBooks is Calibre. You can use Calibre to reformat Kindle books so that they’ll work on other types of readers, which is really helpful if you have a big Kindle library but want to use something like a Kobo (I love my Kobo Forma).
Most people know that Audible exists; it’s Amazon’s audio book company. Many people don’t know that Libro.fm exists, a different company where you get to choose a favorite independent bookstore, and all your audio book purchases through libro.fm benefit your chosen store. The Libro.fm app is very similar to Audible’s app, I love it. It’s worth noting that I’ve had excellent customer service from both companies.
My favorite audio book so far has been As You Wish, by Cary Elwes. It’s a memoir of his time shooting The Princess Bride, and his stories are funny and heartwarming. If you want other ideas, you can do Google searches for things like, “Best Audio Books of 2019”, etc, and that will give you a jumping off point to all kinds of “Best of” lists. There’s a lot out there.
My go-to’s for comfort in difficult times are Alan Watts and Pema Chödrön. Pema’s books are read by her, I really love Getting Unstuck. Many of Watt’s titles are recordings of lectures. My favorite book of his is The Wisdom of Insecurity, but my favorite Audible title from him is Out of Your Mind.
You can find out more about Great Courses on their website, but the idea is that they’re supposed to be college-level courses that anyone can take. Years ago they used to be pretty expensive, but you can find the lectures from many Great Courses on Audible. I’ve found all the ones I’ve tried to be well made and interesting. A particularly good one is Writing Creative Nonfiction.
I imagine most of you iOS users (Apple products like iPads and iPhones) know about iTunes U, an app that connects you to free courses. Lots of interesting things to take!
I just discovered that on Amazon Prime there is a Great Courses channel, and I decided to do the free trial. The one I’m watching right now is How to Draw, and I’m enjoying it. The channel is $7.99/month after the free trial period.
Kahn Academy is known for helping students learn math, but there are lots of other courses you may not know about. Economics, history, and astronomy & cosmology, to name a few!
Craftsy has become Bluprint, and while I’m not a huge fan of their new layout, the content is still great. I have thoroughly enjoyed my Craftsy/Bluprint classes.
I really enjoy Skillshare. Bluprint classes are better edited more polished, but Skillshare has a huge range of teachers, and many of their classes are much shorter in length making them easier to get through.
I’ve had several friends tell me how much they enjoyed their Coursera courses.
Do you know who your representatives are in the local, state, and national governments? No? Find out here.