“The Sickness” and Thanksgiving

In my house we cope with life’s downturns with joking and laughter. Our gallows humor got us through my father’s dying, from the time of his terminal cancer diagnosis to the first day he accepted that death would not be put off, to the seconds after his actual passing. It’s our family’s way. That said, my son has put his foot down and refused to take part in referring to all normal activity pre-COVID as things that happened “before the sickness.” I deliver this line in total scary movie voice, of course. Unfortunately, my kid has drawn the line, and I can’t seem to talk other family members into joining me. We were all in agreement, however, on keeping to our traditional holiday meal for Thanksgiving. (Except my husband, the turkey-hater, who would rather eat anything else, but he was overruled.)

Does anyone else feel weird about Thanksgiving now that we’ve grown as a nation and admitted that our European ancestors basically dropped anchor, unloaded the Uhaul and stole land from the Indigenous People? Half of my family makeup were Indigenous Mexican American, so they were here already, but the other half immigrated from England, Northwestern Europe and Scotland. Most of them came here for cheap land, although some might’ve been on the run from the law. We’ve always been big on a “fresh start.” I think for my family, we celebrate Thanksgiving as a time to express gratitude for what we enjoy in life, in all the various ways we experience comfort, happiness and joy.

This year we’ll smoke our turkey in our Orion Cooker, and have our cornbread dressing, sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, broccoli, cheese and rice casserole from my old Cotton Country Collection cookbook, both dinner rolls and King’s Hawaiian rolls (my son’s request), and of course, pies. My mother makes pecan pie and pumpkin pie, and I might make a chocolate pecan pie for my sweet husband. He’s been extra supportive in this rough year, and deserves a treat. We’ll end up with too much food for 3 adults and one middle schooler, but I’ll be happy for leftovers. There’s nothing tastier than a warm turkey and dressing sandwich, with a smear of cold cranberry sauce, right?

How are you celebrating the holiday in this season of “the sickness?” What traditions are you forgoing, for the sake of social distancing?

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Alamo Drafthouse Reopens

Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

Alamo Drafthouse is reopening two of its Austin theaters this week. Movie goers may choose between seeing films at Lakeline or at Slaughter Lane. The movie selection, like the food & beverage menu, is radically slimmed down, but that’s to be expected in this ongoing pandemic.

Here’s how Alamo is handling showing films in the midst of COVID-19:

  • Limited seat availability to ensure a minimum of 2 empty seats on either size of your party. These “buffer seats” offer at least six feet of distance between you and other movie goers.
  • Guests, who must maintain 6′ of distance between themselves and people not in their party, may not arrive earlier than 30 minutes prior to showtime. A staff member will perform a temperature check, and guests will proceed directly to their seats.
  • All food and drinks are ordered prior to arrival online when purchasing your tickets. You may not order anything when you’re in the theater, although refills of soda and popcorn are allowed.
  • Restrooms will have social distancing markings on floor.
  • Masks for everyone, all the time. This means employees as well as guests. You may take off your mask to eat and drink, but cover up once you’re finished your meal or popcorn. If you only order a drink, you’ll be expected to wear that mask between sips, unless you’re chugging it. Actually, the last one is not spelled out in their policy, but what I’m hoping will happen. If you forget your mask (or “forget” wink wink nudge nudge for you anti-maskers), you will be given one. No mask, no movie.
  • The limited menu will still offer vegan and gluten-free options, and is heavily focused on pizza. Fans of the chicken tenders, fish & chips and that tasty Buffalo Cauliflower will be relieved to find these entrees made the list. The beverage menu is reduced to closed containers such as “cans, bottles, paper cups with lids or other sealed vessels.”
  • When the movie is over, guests will exit by row, presumably from those closest to the screen first. This allows proper social distancing, and eliminates overcrowding in the exit hallway.
  • Team members will wear gloves in addition to masks, and will wash their hands and don new gloves every thirty minutes.
  • The theater will have hand sanitizer widely available, and sanitizing wipes at your table.
  • All auditoriums will be disinfected between screenings with professional grade cleaners.
  • The kitchen, bathroom and other high traffic areas will have routine, scheduled deep cleaning. Additionally, foodstuffs delivered to the kitchen will also be sanitized.

I’ve been scrupulously avoiding people not in my “quarantine bubble,” but have had to venture out to grocery stores from time to time. I’ve experienced grocery shoppers invade my personal space each time, but luckily have not ended up with the virus. Alamo Drafthouse has adopted pandemic policies and procedures that are much stricter than grocery stores, making it very attractive to take the plunge and venture out for a night of entertainment.

If you’re like me (high risk, cautious), you have to put a toe in the water to check the temp before jumping in. Because many people are still in the “not yet” frame of mind, I feel like a movie during the early part of Alamo’s opening will be my safest bet. All team members will be fanatic about sanitizing efforts, and no one has been in these auditoriums for months. My tween son has been suffering from lack of socialization, so this seems like a perfect opportunity to add some outside-the-home entertainment. I do worry that as time goes by, the staff will grow complacent, lax about the frequent hand washing, glove changes, and sanitizing efforts. It’s up to theater leadership to ensure they stay compliant with their strong and clear policies and procedures. What do you think, Austin? Are we ready to be back in movie theaters, with precautions?

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Mama is Mad

I read a social media post today that said something very similar to how I feel about the current protests and activism against racism. I didn’t screen capture it, and it was not available to share, so I decided to write my own post.

I am angry and not just ready for change, I’m ready to facilitate change. I’m ready to help move America away from racism. I’m ready to do my part to excise the putrid social disease that is rotting away our nation’s moral code in the form of hidden racism, soft bigotry, and those who feel that it is safe in this day and age to openly proclaim their “white nationalism” and beliefs that a darker skin color makes a person less human. I’m going to use my voice, my dollars, and my vote to do what I can to educate and to illuminate, to make strides in the right direction.

I am publicly taking a stand against racism because:

~As a child my mother had to sit in a separate section of restaurants, because she has brown skin. And I love my mom.

~Half of my family is a beautiful rainbow of all shades of brown and black. The other half is a beautiful rainbow of all shades of white and brown. And I love my family.

~Someone’s son went out to buy Skittles and never came home.

~Someone’s son could not breathe and never came home.

~Someone’s son went jogging, and never came home.

~Someone’s daughter, an emergency room technician, was asleep in her own home, and woke up only to die.

~Someone’s daughter was “having a bad day” with her mental health issues and the people who were called to help her, killed her.

~Someone’s daughter, a pre-med grad student, was babysitting her nephew and playing video games when a policeman shot her through a window.

~Someone’s son, unarmed and suffering a mental heath crisis had his hands in the air when he was shot with a “non-lethal round,” prompting him to get back in his Prius and slowly start to drive away from officers, who fired a real bullet this time, killing him for allegedly using the Toyota as a “deadly weapon.” A Prius. Driving away, and not trying to run over anyone.

~Someone’s son and daughter have been systematically oppressed in America since the 1700’s, when many of their ancestors were kidnapped and brought to our soil.

~Someone’s son called out for his mama as he lay dying under a policeman’s knee.

He called for mama. He cried out from depths of his last moments for his mother, a primal instinct to retreat to his safe space, his unconditional love, his warm embrace, his I will always love you, baby. Love you forever. Mama.

I can tell you that if my son was profiled, treated differently because of his skin tone, and murdered, I would unleash a fury unlike anything ever seen. I would be a raging firestorm of savagery. And this morning in the moment when I formed that thought, I was ashamed. Because my belief system enjoins me to love others as I love myself and my own. And I’ve failed to truly practice that when I stay silent; therefore, complicit. I have failed to be righteously angry that racism exists in our nation, and have failed to do much of anything about it.

I have spent my entire life celebrating being Latina, but I’ve never felt the sting of discrimination because I have white skin and blue eyes. If I see my son on the street curb talking to a cop in a police car, it would not trigger anything more in me than curiosity. I would not have the immediate fear that my son may be unduly persecuted.

I will no longer be silent. I will no longer tolerate racism. I will no longer sugar coat my words. I will speak up and out. I stand in solidarity with the brown mamas and black mamas, and I will fight to end racism in our country.


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