Rearrange-the-deck-chairs-on-the-Titanic means “to do something pointless or insignificant that will soon be overtaken by events, or that contributes nothing to the solution of a current problem” and it neatly sums up how I feel all the time these days. Then I read Emily Flake’s I Was In Charge Of The Deck Chairs On The Titanic, And They Absolutely Did Need Rearranging on the one and only Mc.Sweeney’s Internet Tendency and it pretty much set me right.
She reminds us how the seemingly meaningless things that we do every day matters. They matter a lot. So much so that sometimes it’s all we have. Even when the world as we know is changing, people are getting sick and economies are crumbling.
She ends the piece with these poignant lines “Your efforts matter as much as they always did, which is to say not one little tiny bit, except that they are the most precious of things — they are your heart. Take care of your heart, my friends, and I shall see you on the other side.”
I took heart in her words and I plodded on.
You must be thinking, what’s a travel writer gonna do when all travel is canceled? What’s a mom gonna do when school drop offs have been replaced by online learning and a glance-over at your kid before he signs in on that Google Meet?
No weekend plans. No sports. The list is long. But I can’t complain. There are people out there who are doing so much more. Contributing in so many ways. And not just health workers and grocery store people. That friend who offered to do her neighbor’s shopping. That person who gave that extra large tip. The delivery guy who went the extra mile. The neighbor who left a box of books by the door. Or a bag of flour. Or a tall bottle of wine.
Memorial Day Weekend, the great summer-starter came and went with little fanfare. We didn’t grill. Maybe it had something to do with the weather but we did do a bagel taste test. We kneaded the dough and baked our own bagels. Then we went nuts with the toppings. Classics like lox and cream cheese were set aside in favor of variety and fun.
After much deliberation, our eight-year-old ever-so-slightly biased judge picked the cheddar cheese and chicken sausages as the winner.
Top from left we have chicken sausage with sun-dried tomatoes on shredded cheddar cheese, then on the right we have honey and sea-salt over ricotta cheese, in the middle we have almond butter and strawberry jam, followed by cherry tomatoes and window-sill scallions on olive tapenade hummus. The last row has slow-roasted spicy salmon leftovers with scallions and lastly, a liberal sprinkling of TJ’s famous bagel seasoning over soft-boiled eggs.
Top from left there’s sliced avocado with some more of the famous seasoning, then a bagel top to show how proud I was of the shape, then there’s fig butter on the middle left, after which comes the strawberry with cream cheese, followed by cucumbers and butter, and finally, black olives on hummus.
If you are thinking, what’s the point of all this? It’s all part of rearranging those damn deck chairs. If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
The lockdown (self-imposed or otherwise) has given rise to so many artists getting together to entertain kids. There’s too many of them for me to mention everyone but there’s #DrawTogether with WendyMac – a 30-minute live drawing class for kids. I ignored the kids part and drew a dragon with her. My kids have been entrusted with building a story around this fiery self-sufficient dragon.
Again, that’s me rearranging deck chairs.
There’s Mo Willems with his Lunch Doodles and Thank You Thursdays. There’s J.K. Rowling with a new book Ickabog that’s being released chapter by chapter online! As an unabashed Harry Potter fan, I am excited about it.
Speaking of books, my mother has this amazing collection. She would often pick out books for me to read at an age when I was mostly into Enid Blytons and didn’t care for much else. When I was in first or second grade, she gave me a copy of Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb. On my behest, she had marked all the comedies so I could get started on those first. I had no intention of reading “sad stories” but then I got hooked and read everything. And not just once.
So imagine my utter delight when I watched this Netflix Original recommended by my aunt and found that Tales from Shakespeare, my book, has been converted into a magnificent plot device. The movie’s name is quite a mouthful. It’s called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and it’s simply lovely. It has made me go look for Anne Bronte’s work. Turns out this lesser known of the Bronte sisters was a bit of a genius in her own right.
While on the subject of dark geniuses, Fleabag on Prime and Dead to Me on Netflix warranted some binge-watching on my part. They are not everyone’s cup of tea but oh so good!
Go watch them, or draw with Mo, or make music with Yo-Yo Ma (he is playing live on Facebook often these days) or write or do whatever it is you feel like doing. Nothing matters and everything does.