Story Behind the Poem // day 8

Day 8 “wearing a mask”

Alphonse and the masks

Eight days in a row of writing haiku poems and posting blog posts! This is an incredible accomplishment for me and it’s been fun to document my life through short poetic stanzas.

Today’s poem is about wearing masks. It feels like my most controversial one so far. The opinions on mask-wearing vary widely (like most things) and to fit the word “compliance” into the poem makes me worry a bit what others will think, but I had to go with gut.

It started out very literal and specific, as it my default.

Breathing in the smell of the blue paper masks or the cloth ones.

How breathing out causes my glasses to fog up.

How I miss seeing people’s smiles and breathing in fresh air.

I wear a mask during work because we work with people with disabilities and job coaches are essential and many of my clients work in essential industries as well (supply stores, grocery stores, assisted-living homes, etc.) And so, to protect my clients (and keep my job) I wear one when working with them and at their job sites.

It’s rough. Especially when wearing them for longer than an hour. The air gets stale, the fog ebbs and flows on the lenses of my glasses.

mid-April // my second cloth mask

However, then the redundancy of “exhale out” and the use of the word “air” twice within seven syllables made it feel too repetitive in such a short space. I wondered if breathing in and exhaling could be vaguer concepts like virtues and behaviors. Compliance appeared on the page right away. “Grace” replaced “patience.”

When I first wore one, I worried how people would know I was smiling at them, and I also wondered how to sneeze: in the mask itself (all the cringey face emojis) or pull the mask up and sneeze into my sleeve like the old days? I opted for the latter. These are questions I never thought I’d ask.

This was how the last line–“i miss air and smiles”–came to exist in the poem, since the third version.

“Smiles” is a one-syllable word. I googled it to make sure (because Ant and I were unsure) and came across this really neat article on five different ways to count syllables. I’m pretty sure I was taught the “chin method” in elementary school but learned today that the hand doesn’t touch my chin, it’s how many times my chin touches my hand. (ooooh!) Number 5, “written method”, was a new one, and since “smile” has a silent “e” at the end, this makes it one syllable.

[Side note: the “written method” explains what the words “diphthong” and “triphthong” are. The day has come full circle because “diphthong” dictionary.com’s Word of the Day.]

Before it was mandated here in California, I only wore one for work (and Target runs).

also mid-April // excited about that new vacuum!

If I ran to the store, I wouldn’t wear it. I didn’t want to. Once it became mandated, it became another thing to add to the list of Things to Grab Before Leaving the House.

mid-June // waiting outside to pick up our lunch order.

Keys? Check.

Phone? Check.

Purse and wallet? Check. Check.

Mask? Go back inside and grab one.

Last night, Ant and I did our bi-weekly run to our favorite Big Grocery Run store. They’re open ’til midnight these days, and after we discovered it a few months ago there was no turning back.

Anyways, I forgot my mask. (not pictured above.) It felt so weird to be in the store and be the only person not wearing one. It was a weird mixture of freedom and fresh air and an insane amount of silent apologies running through my head for forgetting.

I was most likely reading too much into the natural glances people sent in my direction. I kept my head down and tried not to make eye contact.

Azzie May don’t read this part lol

The #voylerwoodfam was supposed to go on a Big Vacation this year. It would’ve been my four-year old’s niece first trip to The Happiest Place on Earth, but they’re requiring masks to be worn in the park and seeing the characters aren’t the typical meet-and-greets. Thankfully the tickets are good for 1 1/2 to 2 years, and I’m thankful Azzie won’t experience her first time at Disneyland while wearing a mask. It’s not even how I picture a vacation. Fingers crossed in a year or so from now we can at least go mask-less.

It is a weird thing to go out in public and see most people wearing masks, like we’re in some kind of dystopian society that I’ve only read about.

I’m apart of Kendra Adachi’s launch team for her book The Lazy Genius Way: Embrace What Matters, Ditch What Doesn’t, and Get Stuff Done. It’s an incredible book. If you’re not following Kendra on Instagram, you’re missing out on real-people gold. Or even better, her newsletter (if you prefer to that to social media). She makes cooking fun with catchy words like, “sizzle” and “cozy” and “jzoojz” and phrases like this: “If It makes you groan in happiness, you’re good.”

So when she announced her launch team, it was a no-brainer to join.

The Lazy Genius Way (or, LGW) is broken up into 13 Lazy Genius Principles and at the end of each chapter is a recap and a small, actionable step to put the principle into play into the reader’s life.

In the Chapter 1, “How to Think Like a Lazy Genius”, Kendra talks about perfection and order and chaos. Great opening to the book.

Her first small step floored me:

“Smile at the pretty stranger at Target without judging her or yourself. We both know you’re going to Target today, so you’ll get your shot.”

The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi

I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped. I stared at the page for a few seconds and then made a note. (I love reading books on my Kindle for this reason!). It’s a beautiful way to love strangers–especially when 99.87468% of women all feel the same way about Target, an amazing abyss to kill time in haha

I do not believe it was a mistake that this book is launching at a time like this.

And so, I give you Day 8’s haiku:;

And so reader, how can we show love to our fellow humans while wearing masks? How are you still loving the people in the community while our society deems masks necessary?


The book, recipes, and author mentioned in this post:

  • Kendra and The Lazy Genius Way.
  • Change-Your-Life-Chicken (CYLC) recipe and links to to all the the CYLC-related deets: podcast episode, Instagram highlight, etc.
    • It seriously changed our life. Ant doesn’t even like chicken thighs–the crispy skin, man, make this dish–and he LOVES this. Also, toaster oven tip: Our toaster oven doesn’t go up to 500 degrees, but it turns out great at 450 degrees for an hour.
    • The used of the word “jzoojz” is used in the CYLC chicken highlight on Instagram
  • Kendra’s pizza sauce that makes us all groan in happiness is here.
  • Her book comes out on TUESDAY! And there is still time to pre-order it if you want the bonuses.

As always, follow along with the poetry project at the #30DayHaikuProject.


Writing Process Notes:

8-8-2020:

// Writing the poem: 1 hour. dining room table. “Liked Songs” Spotify playlist. looked up a syllable article, convos with Ant. first load of laundry (a small one, the hang dry items) in the middle of this poem-writing session. Words: 168.

// Took a break from poem-writing and played Dice Forge with Ant. It was a low-scoring game, but fun as always 🙂

// Writing this blog post: =12ish-1:44pm. Dining Room table again. still “liked songs” Spotify playlist. Word Count: 1,191.

// break for laundry, lunch, #TalksMachina (about episode 82 in the first campaign).

// 3:37pm-5:13pm. back at the dining room table for read-thru, add links and photos, and tags. and post to social media. still listening through “liked songs” Spotify playlist. TOTAL TOTAL word count: 1,354. TOTAL TIME: 1.75 again.

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