Category Archives: Pandemic journal

A room of one’s own*

bouleThese days have a weird rhythm. The bread is bones — the day shaped by the time it takes the starter to rise, the time it needs for resting, however long it wants to be kneaded, and then the long slow rises, first on the counter in the white bowl, then in the fridge, in an oblong piece of tupperware, or another bowl — nestled in grey cloth and powdery with flour, either way.

In between, I’d normally be punctuating the endless tasks of ordinary living with little stray thoughts, playful barbs, flashes of rage at the grim reality we find ourselves in, on twitter, that problematic but still vital stream of so many messages in so many little spice bottles, bobbing like corks. (Insert clever quip here about variety.)

But the twitter powers that be (read: dudes) have decided, in their infinite illogic, to suspend my account, with nothing but a vague note about violating their rules. Yes, I’m sure all those photos of sourdough were very upsetting to men who only eat Wonder bread. Reading between the lines, it seems to be nothing but a naked grab for my phone number, which, nope. We’ve all seen how great that platform is at handling sensitive info, how well it protects people — especially women — from harassment, by…doxxing the victims.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Jack doesn’t know how to take no for an answer when asking for someone’s phone number.

We’ll see what happens if & when a human person ever reads my polite little email asking to be allowed back into the birdcage. In the meantime, it feels a bit like being sent to my room as a kid. My room where all the books were, all the drawing materials, my stuffed bear of beloved memory and very much brain. It was meant as a punishment then, as it is now, but in here I call the shots. And my blog has an edit function.

*yes, Virginia, I did borrow your title. I hope you don’t mind, you brilliant ghost.

Oh.

Hello from a changed world.

small_vistaI’ve tried a couple of times to start writing something, and it all seems…insufficient. In March I took my last bike ride for a long, long time. It had been getting increasingly scary out there, nobody distancing, nobody seeming to care that we were in the path of an invisible tsunami that would certainly — and still will — kill many, many, many of us.

And…the government here is still acting as if nothing’s wrong, as if one can fight a deadly virus with PR.

I still don’t feel safe riding my bike. And I’m finding that if you take away that one (main) reason for moving here, my connection to this place dissolves. Maybe.

It may be that I’ll move to a different part of this country — someplace a bit less crowded, a bit less surrounded by young people who think they’re immortal, and don’t give even a sliver of a damn about the fact that the people around them are very much mortal, thank you.

It may be that I’ll move back home, where things are on fire in at least sixteen different ways, and it’s still terribly dangerous to just move around on a bicycle, even before you add in the pandemic. I’ve been feeling the strangest sort of patriotism, though, watching my fellow Americans come alive with fury and fire to create a more just society. And…that kind of place, that kind of fight, is one I want to be a part of. So we’ll see what happens in the next little while.

In the meantime, here are some excerpts from a journal I started intermittently scribbling in, a week after my (self-imposed) confinement began. I started it after seeing a historian request that people write down their thoughts in physical journals, so they can stitch together a record of what this all felt like.

I find it hard to write in it more than once in a while, but it’s sometimes valuable just to see what comes out on paper.

Here’s hoping I get to ride my bike again, sooner rather than later, but mostly I just want to survive, you know? I have so much to do, and more that I want to say, and be, and create.

****from the pandemic journal****

15 March

The first thing you learn in a pandemic is how very fucking much you want to live.

The next thing you learn is whom you love the hardest. This is a thing you’d never say. But it’s who you’re most scared of losing.

24 March

Several hard days. Hard to eat, hard to brush teeth, hard.

Later…

Washed 4 oranges & ate a hard-boiled egg. This was progress.

13 April

3:30 am, I just happened to look out the window and saw a flock of seagulls, twirling, glowing, above the steeples — lit, I think, by the golden half-moon.

14 April

One of the weirdest things about living in the pandemic is how much dread ordinary tasks create.

16 April

The juxtaposition of fear of imminent death and the potential deaths of everyone you love, with…puttering around.

29 April

Intermittent long peals of church bells.

2 May

Perhaps the most surprising things about the pandemic are the sharp little moments of joy pricking through like stars in the dark.

19 May

Gulls with their bellies turned gold and pink by the setting sun. A chickadee came to visit on the chimney.

20 May

Some days the shadow has you. This is one of those.

27 May

More than anything, coping with this is about staying in the moment. In the moment, I can be okay — or better than okay, even. It’s when I start to spool out beyond that, that things return to bald terror.

So I try to stay now. It’s always about the now — we just aren’t usually aware of it — like living on a sharp pinpoint. One moment in time, and then, if we’re lucky, the next.