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Guest blog by Jasmine Jin

LOCKDOWN-Straight from Shanghai

Shanghai is a city as busy as Tokyo and New York. And now. It is dead.

I won’t deny all the kindness this city has shown me, even in a time of crisis, but there is enough pain to make us citizens cry out.

Before I go any further, I’d like you to see two comparisons of Shanghai.

Shanghai, Before and After Lockdown

As for why I waited till now to shout in pain? Because I was disillusioned, like many Shanghai citizens, that this is merely a passing phase, and there was no cause for me to change the way I lived.

The initial 5 days became a week, a week became two.

When citizens first received the news of lockdown at 3.31, 8pm, and were ordered to return from shopping for groceries before midnight, they still had the romance to joke about feeling like Cinderella. Two weeks from that time, and all I see is one word, screaming out at me from everywhere.

“HELP!”

Life during the pandemic is like a pot of thick broth. It takes three swallows for every mouthful to go down. What’s worse is there never seems to be an end to the slimy goo. Spring is within a hand’s stretch, yet here I am living this steady and unchanging life

Everyday we count what’s left of the food, fight for supplies, get teary from the constant tragedies, and test for antigen. The bordem is a beast, clawing, biting, our kindness and patience gets more and more thin, undil we are only able to cover those dearest.

Hunger, Loss, Humanity, Death, Cruelty. Those words imply pain in themselves. They are threats I face daily. Let’s rewind the clock to April 1st, when everything started to get real.

Night of 4/1 at my living center. The tests lasted till after 11:00pm
4/4 Conditions in hospitals built to hold patients tested positive for Omicron. No oder, had to fight for food.
4/7 Corgi killed on the street because master was tested positive
All the apps shown on this page are used for buying food. Many citizens have alarms at 5am, 6am, 8am, 8:30am, 12pm, 6pm, etc. Out of a hundred items in the trolly, one is lucky to get a few.
Dogs have to do their business at home
4/13 Workers out of work, the noodles they’re eating their last food.
4/14 Pouring rain

This is just the quickest scan of Shanghai’s problems. In the upcoming days, I will recount and update events in Shanghai. Follow me to stay tuned.

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Send Out The Clowns

A poem by John O’Neill

Never the favorite part of my circus visits
Too predictable
More filler than specialty
 act
Only mildly amusing
Slapstick comedy not really my thing
But now I say
Send out the clowns
Early and often
Please

Hit me over the head with a rubber mallet
Deck me out with greasepaint
That would be the envy of a geisha
The time for subtlety and clever satire is over

Why this reversal of opinion
The world is much too serious these days
Afghanistan and Haiti
Covid and its deniers
Mother Nature angry and out of control
Homophobia and racism and sexism rampant
The N.R.A. as outrageous as ever
(If only they would be content with just muskets)
Rich people spending a fortune to go into space
While hunger plagues much of the world

Then there are the faux clowns
Politicians acting as fools
Including a recent American President
To the delight of many
But in a manner that would have embarrassed court jesters
Some clergy joining in the fun as well
Fox News becoming Comedy Central Noir

Bring back the laugh tracks
From the television comedies of the fifties and sixties
And every time someone protests
Against mandatory wearing of masks for school children
Or says that vaccines either aren’t needed
Or don’t work
Play one of them

By all means
Send out the real old-fashioned clowns
They never promised more than they could deliver
I need some mindless entertainment these days
And give me children blowing bubbles
Birds singing
And orchestras playing Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’
Dogs and cats playing with humans
Smiles and tears on every face
Every moment savored

Please let the real clowns
The people who make us happy to be alive
Lead the way

Published in The Lark


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Carolyn Riker – The Beauty Of Aging and What It teaches US

A guest blog

Today if you do one thing remember to breathe deeply into those spaces that have caused so much hurt and exhale through to the other side where a bird might be perched. Or the moon might be resting ever so quietly on a fence.

Today if you do one thing, think about who you are right now, and who you were one year ago. Five years ago. Ten years ago. 15 years ago.

Take all the time you need. Go slow. Breathe belly deep. Then jot down a feel, a word, a few sentences for each. Tuck this note inside your heart.

Let the waves of yesteryears wash through to this moment. What you’ve learned and understand, are often the mistakes that teach us the most.

Please be aware, this fabricated, societal notion of perfection is a fallacy. Like filtered portraits that wash away the blemishes and wrinkles to instill an eternal youth. Which also removes the learning we went through.

And yet, here we are. Side-by-side. Changing up what may feel so far down. Leading us to cherish our oddities, the weight we’ve gained, and the wrinkles we see. These variances are part of our intelligence. Ultimately, we realize our weaknesses are the beauties that grow us real. Aging spells us to the deeper path of our soul.

How beautiful it is and more often necessary to walk inside a night sky watching our eyelashes brushstroke a paradise from the stars in our soul’s knowing eyes.

One of the best things we can do is to honor where we are at. There’s no need to power through when our soul is telling us to go slower. Aging is the beginning to honor ourselves.

Let’s listen to the rivulets. Let’s close our eyes to see what our dreams teach us about our personal soul’s rhythm.

There we will discover the valleys are equally if not more valid to the marrow which sustains us. We reevaluate the older paradigms telling us otherwise.

We honor who we are.

This shows self-respect and creates fresh boundaries into a most tender form of self-love and a welcoming alibi.

Carolyn Riker is the author of three beautiful books of poetry and prose. She’s also a licensed mental health therapist in private practice. Her books are available on Amazon.