Sold into flames, fiery pits sing of the determination of willful souls who know only the battles of their homeland.
Dead then alive, then dead again, human resurrection; phoenixes rising up, resisting the shackles weighing them down. We move to get away from ourselves. We seek peace in other lands — eager to take over other worlds. Will our legs carry us to places unknown?
Temptation comes in two forms; young or old. We crave them both. Is this life’s crown? Are we waiting to be brought back to life while we struggle to live?
I had been meaning to switch up A Cornered Gurl’slook and feel for a few months now. I wanted something more permanent—something that spoke to who I am and what I have been experiencing of late. I am sure it’s no surprise to anyone reading. I am exhausted. Life is doing its best to sucker-punch me at every turn, but I live on. I fight on. There is still much more to be done. We are about to head into the year 2022, and we still have araging pandemic at our heels. THERE IS STILL A PANDEMIC!!! When I look at those words, something in me crushes. My soul is in a constant state of unease. Why are we still here? How are we still here?
Several shifts in my mental state, my line of work, and my life overall led me to realize that the exploratory uses of artistic images from other incredible artists just aren’t enough for me. Sure, they all have given the site a fresh and sleek look with a great deal of appeal, but this new logo is me. It says it all. It gives you exactly who I am: “I am more than breath & bones. I am nectar in waiting.” And, it depicts an image of how I see myself these days with the woman created with digital line art. I am here—not here. I am living—not living. I am . . .
We are all struggling in some way of our own. Nothing about this situation has been easy. Loved ones are dead. Friends’ lives have been changed forever. Many of us are cabin fevered out, but it is for our own safety—our own health. But for how much longer? I am sick and tired. SICK AND TIRED! The audacity of the privileged or the ignorant or the arrogant or the people who have been “othered” a lot more because of this virus laughs heartily in our faces. We have the power to control this thing, however, we have chosen a different path.
A Cornered Gurl is my personal space in this humongous World Wide Web and if I cannot be comfortable anywhere else, I must be comfortable here. I have to be comfortable here. I am not ready to go or be anywhere else.
Going to the store now for me is like . . . like playing tug of war or escaping the fiery keep of a dragon. I flit around the store, flailing my body about the square footage as quickly as possible. All the while, in my head, I sing, “Get in. Get out. Get in. Get out.” It is a test of my stamina. How fast can I retrieve the seven items I came in here for, hmm?
I am friendly, but from a distance. I watch the people around me — looking at what they’ve touched — avoiding it. My senses are enhanced — heightened, somehow. I am a supreme ninja jutting through tight spaces, maneuvering myself through the lines of an obstacle course made of rotating germs and aggravated naysayers.
I bolt through the self-checkout, tossing the receipt in the garbage can neatly placed by the lane. I see the doors . . . “EXIT” never looked so sexy as it does when I lunge my body toward it — craving the air outside of the building.
I make it back to my car and I slide inside and crank that baby up and I breathe. I breathe and breathe and breathe and thank God I was successful. I got in and I got out.
And although, I only go to the grocery store if I’ve failed to get some items I needed or if I want a few more things and decline happily to paying the additional delivery fee for so few items. Otherwise, Instacart and Door Dash (Walgreens) are my friends.
I do these five things when I have to make a quick run to my local grocery store.
Keeping my distance.
I was never really big on having someone (I don’t know) very close to me pre-pandemic, so maintaining six feet is easy. Hell, I usually increase that distance by three to four feet.
There’s no need for anyone to get near me unless they’re trying to tell me something or get my attention, and even then, I am shooting them Mr. Burns’ twitchy eye stares if they break the lining of my bubble.
Avoiding areas that are heavily crowded.
And by “heavily crowded,” I mean two to three people. “Sure, I really need to get some more cucumbers, but I’ll avoid that for now. Thelma is thumping on and sniffing the bell peppers and Louise is sampling the grapes. Hard pass.”
Sanitizing my hands.
I work in healthcare. I’m almost certain I bleed alcohol by now. While working at the facility, I would go through bottles of hand sanitizer within a week or just under two. I’d also wash my hands until they were nearly raw.
Suffice to say, I spent my days screening patients for Coronavirus symptoms and came in contact with enough people who were positive to make me want to drink cleaning products. I won’t, though. I haven’t. But give me my hand sanitizer, please.
That is a pre-requisite, henceforth and forevermore.
Using my own shopping bags.
Let’s be real. The plastic most stores are using now has been recycled so many times. A bag of flour, two packs of gum, and a gallon of water will rip one up in a matter of seconds. For convenience and because I know where they have been, I use my own shopping bags. Thank you very much.
And I don’t mind bagging them myself.
Avoiding aisles when others are on them.
This is connected to the second point. I will wait to go down an aisle if over two people are on that aisle. I’ll circle over to another section of the store, get what I need from there, and come back. Usually, I’m successful.
Most times, they’ve gotten what they needed and I can swing on through and grab what I need. No harm, no foul. Keep it moving, folks!
You could be saying to yourself, “These seem extreme,” or “ Hey! I do a few of these too!” Many of these things do not differ from what I did pre-pandemic, they are just upgraded.
The key factor for me is safety. Grocery stores can be death traps and while I treat every day as an opportunity to extend the life I have, I am aware this life could end at any moment.
I’d just rather it not be by contracting a deadly virus while I was examining the expiration dates on my favorite brand of yogurt.
The world in which we live is crumbling — bursting at its seams. I can only speak for myself, but I know I am not alone in feeling this . . . in feeling the dark pain that lingers without relent. I believe it is common for human beings to want to flee the bad parts of life — to shut ourselves up and lock ourselves out of the realness of the world when it weighs heavily on our shoulders.
Shouldn’t we want relief? Shouldn’t we strive for it? And with our world spinning and crashing the way it has for decades, do you ever wonder when will it all end?
I saw the trailer for Nine Perfect Strangers multiple times and told myself after The Handmaid’s Tale, I couldn’t take another dramatic/dystopian/climactic series. But, with each view of the trailer, my curiosity had been heightened. I adore Melissa McCarthy and have always had a slight crush on Nicole Kidman, so I told myself, “It’ll either be really good or really bad. What do you have to lose?”
Shouldn’t we want relief? Shouldn’t we strive for it?
The Pull of the Series.
Before I knew it, I’d launched myself into the first episode (Random Acts of Mayhem) and had watched the next three without stopping. And now, having watched the fifth one (Sweet Surrender), I want more.
Based on The New York Times best-selling book by author Liane Moriarty, “Nine Perfect Strangers” takes place at a boutique health-and-wellness resort that promises healing and transformation as nine stressed city dwellers try to get on a path to a better way of living. Watching over them during this 10-day retreat is the resort’s director, Masha, a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired minds and bodies. However, these nine “perfect” strangers have no idea what is about to hit them.
Having read the above synopsis, wouldn’t you want to dive right in as well? Nine Perfect Strangers, for me, started off strong from the very beginning. I had been pulled into these characters’ lives — it made me seek what they sought — to learn what they were drawn to learn. I could not pull my eyes away from each instance as every character plays a major part. Each one of them has his or her own share of chaotic behavior to lend to the series.
With everything that had been pummeling them, drowning them, beating them senseless, Tranquillum House was — is supposed to be their escape. It is supposed to be their leap into peace.
With every episode, I found myself pulled into the strength and presence of Nicole Kidman’s character, Masha. Does she have a God complex or is she truly trying to help the souls she claims to want to save? What’s the bigger picture? What is her ultimate goal?
I see a bit of myself in Regina Hall’s character, Carmel. Two people had hurt me to almost the point of being broken, yet I was not married to either of the two. But, I need to “dissociate myself” from each of them. I need to find peace with being single again. I had it a few years ago, but for some reason, it has fled the scene — no calls, no letters . . . nothing.
I also see myself in Tiffany Boone’s character, Delilah (Dee). I am struggling to save my sanity in a world designed for me to lose it. I have watched someone I love cling to another, yet knew I did not have it in me to give them what they needed. And throughout that time, I still had to wear the mask in public — be professional, carry on with life — act like shit really did not hit the fan.
Tranquillum House was — is supposed to be their escape. It is supposed to be their leap into peace.
The perfectly handsome yet misleading Yao, played by Manny Jacinto, had me burning with intense anger in certain scenes and I became an even bigger fan of Delilah. His intelligence, love of nature, charm, and calm demeanor are all captivating qualities, but his demons aren’t subdued for long. They are revealed and they stir up havoc.
What is Going to Happen?
Everyone in Nine Perfect Strangers has lost something or some things, whether they are physical or emotional — they all share the presence of loss. Tranquillum House, the savior space, headed by Masha and her helpers, reeled them in and is taking them on the most unpredictable ride of their lives.
From casual lies to micro-dosing the nine with psychedelics to playing on their emotions for personal gain or perhaps understanding of herself, Masha is a character you’re going to either love or hate. And I am still on the fence about where I stand with her. Maybe love. Maybe hate. I think the next episode will break the ambivalence for me.
Has Masha found her calling in life — trying to fix the lives of others while purposely ignoring her own trauma, her own impending demise? She coordinated an intact (on the outside) house of healing, yet everyone seems to be breaking down.
Tranquillum — not for me, maybe . . .
At first glance, Tranquillum House seems like one I would pay thousands of dollars for which to retreat, but after pulling back its layers — maybe, just maybe, I better stick to writing and therapy. The foundation and walls probably aren’t the source of my skepticism — I’m certain it is the actions that go on behind those walls. Would I even survive it? Would you?
The sixth episode airs on Hulu on Wednesday, September 08, 2021, and I intend to be watching everything as it unfolds.
Originally published in my new publication, soliloque, via Medium.