Lowered Expectations

Hello friends. I don’t know if there’s anyone out there who remembers MADtv but they used to run a spoof dating segment called Lowered Expectations. In this segment, they would run ads for potential mates that were off the wall and downright hilarious. One of my favorites was a woman who said she liked to eat Hamburger Helper without the hamburger… so it was just Helper, and that just seems to be the story of my life life right now.

I am one of those people that is outright paranoid about going to the store at the moment.This is because I have to face the prospect of one of two things:

1. There is caution tape set up outside double doors and taped lines are everywhere. People are wearing masks, and the place looks like a ghost town because all the shelves are empty.

Or…

2. The stores are so crowded with congested aisles, that it is nearly impossible to maintain six feet. People are gathering in small clusters conversing and more than half aren’t wearing masks. Employees have no protective gear, zero sneeze guards, and entire families are going into the store with their children and everything.

Scenario one bothers me because I think to myself, “This is not normal, this is SO not normal.” Scenario two bothers me because as a former infectious disease worker I am thinking, “We are so F’d we are so F’ing F’d.” In times like these, my mind swears like a sailor.

My solution for having to face the anxiety of either scenario has been  grocery pick-up. I do a grocery pick-up about every one to two weeks and my produce needs are met. In fact, grocery pick-up day is the highlight of my week. Which says a lot about my social life at the moment.

Granted, I have to place an order that is two to three days out and I can keep adding to the order until a later hour. This is a great feature for me, because even before the Covid days, and with a shopping list, I always found myself going back to the store on the same day to retrieve something I forgot.

Now, this system is not without it’s quirks. Substitutions are provided and some of them are off the wall. For example, I wanted baking soda for baking and what I got was a baking soda for refrigerator deodorizing, not intended for baking. I wanted celery and got a sandwich bag size of four small snackable celery sticks. I ordered GF pasta, and got regular pasta, and since I am gluten intolerant, that is not a substitution I would have made.

I am not one to bitch about trifles, especially in times like these. I am grateful for these essential workers who are putting their ***es on the line and are not even allowed to take tips. The last thing they need is someone coming down on them over a box of baking soda that costs less than a dollar.

Some may see this as lowering the bar, but in my mind, I’ve upped the bar, I just need to take the high road right now and consider all the variables.

Needless to say, I have had to lower my standards with my blog. Like, really, we are all losing out on material here. Like, who wants to read about my trip to the grocery store or walk around the block anyway?

I remember talking about paintings in art class, and a movement that reflected “domestic life.” I believe that movement is happening again. Personally, I am embarrassed to say that I have always been somewhat nosy. Like, how do other people live? I am liking this whole Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake, and SNL at home thing.

It’s weird to watch an opening comedic monologue in someone’s kitchen without a live studio audience. It gives me something to think about like, “What spices does Tom Hanks have sitting on the counter in his kitchen?

In that regard, I am thankful for the innovative minds at work who are showing that they can be adaptable, and inspiring me to be innovative and adaptable too. It was rough at first, but it gets better and better every week.

Now, as writers, we have to be adaptable too, from print media, to social media, E books, self promotion, indie publishing, and the powers that be at Amazon. Sometimes we have to work with either, neither, or a combination of all. Adaptability was something I was told that as a writer, I would HAVE to embrace. I was told that it wasn’t that people weren’t reading anymore, they were just reading differently.

I was also told that any good writer could take any mundane subject matter and make it their own. Good writing is good writing. So here I am, facing the debacle of blogging the mundane in an enthralling way. In a way, I am looking forward to  this new challenge.

There is a catch to this, because like many poets and writers I am totally dependant on social media right now for my audience but let’s be real, my audience is going through something heavy, we are all going through something heavy. So there is that aspect to contend with as well.

I have decided to lower my standards, which really translates into opening myself up to be real. I tried the Insta thing, where I tried to create the photo aesthetic and the branding to create false illusions for appeal. Lately, I have thrown the grid out the window. Who needs that in times like this?

I posted a few photos that were off brand. The Easter I was supposed to be having at Willow Creek with my extended family, with the bonfires, and the ATV treks along the gooseberry trail didn’t happen.

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Our Easter baskets were humble this year. My family normally roasted hot dogs in the mountains and we would make what my grandmother called “Coney Islands.” Sometimes there would be honey baked hams, a potato salad, or baked beans. There was always a carrot cake my mother baked for me and my sister. Our birthdays are four days apart and have always been close to Easter.

For the Easter I should have been having, my sister and I would be sharing the celebratory carrot cake and these photos are the embodiment of the redneck gatherings I am accustomed to.

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So, what do you do with Easter when the Easter you are accustomed to having is wiped off the slate? A debacle I have not faced alone.

Grocery pick up created some challenges. Hot dogs and no buns, the ingredient list for carrot cake was rather extensive, and eggs were scarce. I am of the firm belief that carrot cake is not carrot cake without the carrots, raisins, coconut, pineapple and the nuts.

I was confusing Easter with Oktoberfest and wanted all the beer brats with sauerkraut, spicy mustard, and J Dawgs sauce. I found a knock off sauce recipe and made a feeble attempt at homemade hot dog buns.

I had to let the carrot cake go. My daughter and I made an almond poppyseed bunny cake but found out  after we had got into it that my food colorings had gelled and expired. We did what we could with sprinkles, an Oreo mini candy bar, and a few chocolate chips.

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The consensus is that our Easter Bunny looked rather sad. The face definitely reflected these strange times. It was an honest Easter bunny. We had a small fire in the backyard, we barbecued hot dogs, we played pool in the shop.

On Sunday, we painted our hard boiled chicken eggs. We had All Might from My Hero Academia. We had Boba Fett and C3P0. Last year, I accidentally hard boiled my sister’s already hard boiled Easter eggs, this year she accidentally decorated the eggs that weren’t hard boiled. We had a running joke between us about all the new ways can find to ruin Easter eggs.

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I had made plans to visit my daughter this spring in Hawaii and was happy to know that she and her new husband were simultaneously decorating Easter eggs across the Pacific with us. She got my mother’s carrot cake recipe which she successfully made in Hawaii. Traditions continue, and there was peace in this, even though I didn’t have a piece.

Anyway, I just wanted to say Happy Easter and that maybe lowered expectations aren’t so low. They can be a new way of thinking and doing things outside the box. Different,  but maybe not so low, and that sometimes necessity is the mother of all creation. Easter is about renewed hope, new forms, hope rising from a crypt. I love the day, and feel honored to share Easter with my birthday on occasion. It is an honor that I have truly come to cherish.  I hope that the day was as cherished for you as it was and for me and  that you are able to forge new meaning in these strange and unusual  times. Until next post!

Rachelle Whiting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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