Just Checking In

Well, hi there, everyone.

It’s hard to know where to begin, isn’t it? I’m just going to dive in, because I want to reach out, share some pictures, be distracting for a few minutes, and hopefully make some of you feel less alone.

I am thinking of all of you, every one of you, and hoping you are okay. Knowing that a lot of you aren’t, and wishing that weren’t the case. I am okay. Or rather, in the words of the immortal Anne (of Green Gables), “I am well in body although considerably rumpled up in spirit.” The people of my life are also okay. Tonight I am dashing off this blog post before disappearing into the kitchen to make some banana bread. Two weeks ago (it feels like months ago), Kevin and I were simultaneously hit with a dreadful and violent bout of food poisoning, and for a week afterwards, all I could eat was applesauce, rice, broth, and bananas. Then suddenly, my appetite returned, and since generally I am not a human who voluntarily eats a banana, a number of bananas have since been growing increasingly offensive in our kitchen. However, I do voluntarily eat banana bread! Unfortunately, the other morning when Kevin made some pancakes, he discovered that our baking powder expired in 2013 (How is this possible? Surely we have baked many times since 2013?). Though I found the pancakes to be perfect, he considered them to be less fluffy than he’d hoped. Knowing that I would be making banana bread sometime soon, I suggested he pick up some baking powder the next time he went to the store. Ha! So naive! Of course there was no baking powder to be had at the store. So I climbed onto a stool and shuffled determinedly through our cabinets. Success! I found some baking powder that expired in 2017. Banana bread is back on the menu. But I must begin it soon, because I no longer have the energy or the emotional fortitude to stay up until midnight.

There are a lot of ways in which Kevin and I are less impacted by this pandemic than other people. He’s an indie game developer, self-employed, and was already working from home; my own writing deadlines aren’t impacted by the pandemic, so I have work to keep me distracted. In fact, I’ve almost finished the final revision of my next book, soon to go into copyediting. I used to be excited for the day I got to tell you all about this book, but now I’m guessing it doesn’t matter much. Though maybe, whenever I get the green light to talk about it, it will make some of you happy to know what I’ve been working on. I would like to be able to make someone happy right now.

I have an office outside the home where I can, in fact, self-isolate, but when the shelter-in-place order came down in Massachusetts, we moved me home. It involved lugging home a table; a chair; a computer; my fancy printer; every size, shape and color of pen, post-it note, and index card imaginable; many piles of crap; and many plants. Inconceivably, this was only two days ago! It feels like weeks ago.

In the interest of comfort and continuity, I even brought home my favorite office mug (from Svalbard) and my office slippers. Every morning, when it’s time to write, I change out of my home slippers into my office slippers. Then I change back again when my writing day is over.


I now write in this window

and do computer work in this corner.

And I try not to check the news every minute. And every morning, I plan my schedule for the day ahead with great strictness, because I have a lot of work to do, but it can be hard to focus. Incidentally, if you live somewhere other than the USA and you are looking at our country right now and thinking, “Wow, their government’s handling of this crisis is a total shit show,” you are correct. Then again, you are probably not surprised. Although one does occasionally think there should be limits to how badly a person can behave and how much he can screw everything up — shouldn’t there? Alas. There are not.

Which reminds me that I also brought home my favorite decoration from the office:

This sublime Emily Dickinson line is from a letter Emily wrote to her friend Elizabeth Holland. The image is a greeting card painted by Pamela Zagarenski.

The smelly bananas are calling! My heart is with all of you, all over the world. Stay well, everyone, and don’t forget: Being brave feels like being scared. Being strong feels like being too overwhelmed to cope. You are brave and strong.