Coping With Corona (or the act of avoiding it)

This sucks. I think everyone can agree with that statement right now. If it’s not the sense of impending doom getting everyone down, it’s the uncertainty or just plain boredom.

I have no answers for this. I wish I did. I just know how I’m coping, because that’s all we really can do at this moment in time – cope. Carlos has been helping his parents move all this week, so I’ve been pretty much left to my own devices.

So, here are the top 10 5 ways I’ve been keeping my mind and hands busy while staying home.

It was going to be 10, but then I realized that I’m not doing nearly that many noteworthy things. 

1.) Cooking.

A lot of cooking. There’s so much that can be done with non perishables and a few spices.

  • For dinner last night, I made a nice basic curry dish with canned tomatoes, coconut milk, dried mushrooms and onions and basmati rice. I cooked a frozen salmon filet in the sauce, but honestly the acid of the tomatoes will tenderize and cook down just about any meat.
  • I baked gluten-free peanut butter cookies using natural peanut butter, buckwheat flour, and honey.
  • Due to the lack of regular flour and dry active yeast in the grocery stores here (Germans will not be without their brötchen), the fun idea of making a cinnamon roll couldn’t happen. I settled on banana bread. However, I didn’t want to use up the little four I had, so I found a box of red velvet cake mix in my pantry, mashed up some old bananas, and got to it. Then I spotted the skull cake pan I brought over from the US and had a little fun.

I did my best with a batch of cream cheese frosting. It tasted wonderful,  though I’m willing to bet that no one will be hiring me to do their wedding cake any time soon.

2.) Gardening

I’ve kept a veggie garden for years, and I had plenty of seeds left over from last year. I also decided to take some succulent-type of herbs and such I bought at the grocery store to build myself an herb garden.

I use egg cartons for my seedlings. So when one plant gets big enough, I can just break it off from the rest of the ones that are still growing and plop them into a bigger pot. The roots grow right through the carton as it disintegrates, and voila!

For sprouting some of the herbs, I used these cool little skull bottles I found at a dollar (or I guess euro) store here last Halloween.  I also used an old maple syrup bottle for the same purpose. They’re both perfect for this kind of thing, with their sizes and the narrow openings and the top to keep the herbs from dropping inside.

I grew this adorable little sage plant that way.

3.) Finishing my book.

Good lord, my book. After combing through diary entries, old text conversations, pictures and every other token of my journey, the massive 4 1/2 year project that has kept me time-traveling back and forth through my life will finally come to an end this year. I now have a beginning, middle and end, it’s just a matter of polishing it up into something more palatable. With as much love, blood, sweat, and tears I’ve put into it, I need to have it done and off my mind so I can focus on more fun projects. Finding the motivation and mindset for this has been difficult, though, with these recent world events. But I’m plodding along.

4.) Unsolved Mysteries

Those who know me well are aware of my love for crime stories and mysteries. I swear I was a detective in my past life. Well, one of my favorite shows from childhood has found its way to Hulu!

In early 1987, I was 8 years old. Unsolved Mysteries debuted and had me hooked. When my mom took me to the grocery store, I would try to find people in the store who looked like the wanted criminals. You see, I was too young to distinguish the difference between the reenactment actors and the actual police mugshots and sketches. So I always found someone who looked, to my young eyes, vaguely like the fugitives. When we got home from the store, I would run to the phone and call their 800 number (1-800-876-5353, I still know it by heart) and report the sighting. In my determination to fight crime, I became a regular at their call center.

Because these were the days before the “call waiting” feature was common, this tied up the phone line for any calls my parents needed to take. One day, my dad realized that he missed an important business call due to my little project, and I was banned from using the phone without their permission.

Fast forward 32 years, I find myself falling back into that old habit. I can no longer call their number, as it’s been replaced with a website. I also highly doubt these fugitives have managed to get all the way over to Düsseldorf, Germany, so there’s no real chance of bumping into them at my local grocery store. But there are a few cold cases that have captured my interest, and I found myself digging deep into internet rabbit holes late at night to form my own hypothesis for each one.

If I manage to solve anything or find evidence that leads to the capture of a perpetrator, I’ll keep you posted.

5.) Writing Group Chats

As of March 18th, I took my creative writing group to Skype. Even though coming up with writing prompts we can do online has become a new challenge, this has been such a fun time! With the freedom of everything being online, I’ve extended an open invite to my writer pals in Cleveland to join our group. The 6 hour time difference has proven to be a little problematic, but it can be worked around. I hope to soon have a meeting combining Cleveland and Düsseldorf. Then we can take over the world. Or, you know, write short stories. Tomato tomahto.

Düsseldorf, taken at The Rhein

Cleveland, taken from Edgewater Park.

Well, those are my methods for staying sane. What are yours?

 

#TeamTrees

I know this site is pretty new and lacking of content, but I wanted to put a message on here about Team Trees. This is an initiative to plant 20 million trees around the globe in 2020. Because I could only contribute what seemed like a drop in the bucket, I looked for other ways to help.

CookPad is donating $1 for every recipe shared on their site. Finding this out just as I was going to make my morning smoothie, I decided to write a recipe for that to share. As cooking is my love and was once my profession, I figured sharing an abundance of recipes is something I can do to help.

If you’re curious, here’s the recipe. I will be posting them here as I share them.

 

Things

 

Bear with me, as it has been a very long time since I’ve written anything resembling a journal entry.

Sidenote: How I miss the Livejournal days of yore when I could pour my heart out on a daily basis to a group of friends who were, in turn, pouring out theirs. I’m grateful to have maintained the friendships I have from that era. You know who you are.

Anyway, how have I been? Where have I been? Alright, let’s do this.

  • How Have I Been?

After being diagnosed with MS back in May and completely terrified, I began a strict regimen of yoga, weight training, and replacing Germany’s superb bread and chocolate with ingesting every antioxidant I could stuff into my body. I was doing well with this for awhile until another relapse temporarily blurred my eyesight. I got back on the wagon for the most part, but obstacles such as A.) having energy to do things, B.) remembering to do said things, and C.) fighting random bouts of depression, mood swings, bizarre headaches and severe light sensitivity have thrown a wrench into getting back into that routine full throttle. But this will change. In case you’re new here, I’m one stubborn, resilient, badass motherfucker of a human being who lets out an earth-shattering battle cry in the face of adversity, and refuses to accept defeat no matter how high the odds are stacked against me.

Making a nice green smoothie every day has helped, too.

Taking certain fruits, vegetables and herbs I have researched (spinach, kale, ginger root, tumeric root, carrots, and many more), I cram them into my blender until I have to hold the lid closed and hit “puree”. While it hasn’t done anything good for my bank account, it has done wonders for my energy level and, most importantly, my eyesight.

I may need a new blender soon, though.

In other news, I’m back to getting my book published. After an eternity of rewriting, omitting, editing, and all that fun stuff that one does when they feel something is *almost* perfect, I had to take a break. There was a point when the book became more of an emotionally taxing job than a labor of love.

In order to keep my mind going and writing an active part of my life, I started a creative writing group back in July. Every other Wednesday, between 8-12 of us meet at a coffee shop or the library and have fun with different writing prompts. I love that I get to meet so many funny, talented, and creative people and have the privilege of listening to everyone’s unique writing style.

On Halloween, at the International English Library, I read a story I wrote  for their Spooky Short Story contest. I won first place, and took home a box of Wychwood Brewery craft beers. I’m not much of a beer drinker, but the bottles are cool, and I enjoyed sharing them with Carlos.

Speaking of the most important part of my life here, there’s Carlos and his family. What lovely people to have in my life! Even though I can only communicate with his parents in either my broken German or even more broken Spanish, we have wonderful conversations and they are the warmest and kindest people I have ever met. Carlos’s very polite and thoughtful teenage son, Leo, is the kind of kid who would fool me into having a kid, making me think having kids would be easy because they would turn out just like him.

As for Carlos himself, he’s so much more than just my handsome Spaniard. He’s my best friend. My rock. My person. He’s the best man who has ever entered my life. I would be in a much darker place without him. There have been times when he was the one person keeping me from packing up my stuff and booking a one-way flight back to Cleveland. Well, flightS, since there’s no such thing as just one flight from Europe to Cleveland. But I digress. However, this is a good segue into my next topic.

  • Where Have I Been?

For our anniversary, we went to Amsterdam, which is one of my favorite cities to visit. The people are friendly and cool, the architecture is a mixture of old and new, and the vibe is light and fun. If I ever need some cheering up or just to be around people who actually smile, I go to the Netherlands. Carlos and I played a fun prank with a bag of googly eyes while we were there, sticking them to statues and anything else we felt needed them. It was a lot of fun.

 

In addition to this fun, we took a nighttime canal tour, went to Madame Tussaud’s wax museum, and ventured around the city. A rainstorm did trap us inside of a novelty condom store. I guess not everyone can say that.

 

 

For my birthday in October, we packed up the car and took a road trip to Paris. I fell in love with the city, tried (and failed) to convince Carlos that we should just not leave and live there forever, and learned a fair amount of French in a very short time. I especially had a hard time leaving our adorable Air BnB, because it was like a little French fairy tale – a room in a charming century home complete with a chandelier and a balcony looking over our host’s beautiful garden. They even had a cute, chunky cat.



 

 

 

Last night, Carlos and I attended the Lacuna Coil show in Oberhausen, a town roughly 30 minutes away from Düsseldorf. Every band that played was amazing – and what made them even more awesome was the fact that each one had female vocalists! As a lifelong metal fan, I love seeing more women taking part in a very male-dominated genre. Infected Rain opened and KILLED it. I admit I had never heard of them before last night, but you’d better believe I’ll have already bought their music before I publish this post. They were followed by Lacuna Coil, who I have followed since discovering their album “Comalies” in 2005. Their set included “Nothing Stands in Our Way”, “Layers of Time”, “Our Truth”, and their cover of “Enjoy The Silence”. The band has always had great stage presence, and Cristina Scabbia’s voice was a force to be reckoned with last night. The headlining act was Eluveitie, a metal band from Switzerland. They mostly spoke German to the crowd, and their accent made it harder for me to understand everything they said. But that didn’t matter, because their performance made me happily throw horns in the air, dance, and bang my head, and that’s all I came to do.

I also had a bit of a fan girl moment later on, when I was able to find Carlos and me in Lacuna Coil’s stage selfie. 🙂

In December, I’ll be making my yearly sojourn to spend Christmas in Cleveland, bearing suitcases stuffed with gifts of German beer, bread and chocolate for all my loved ones. Think of me as a modern-day Santa Claus with jet-lag.

That’s about it. If you think of any other topics I haven’t covered here, write them in the comments and I’ll answer them to the best of my ability.