working from home(s)

Folks who live here in Maine are rightfully angry at vacationers who are traveling from New York City to come to their summer homes, quite possibly bringing the coronavirus with them. Others who are moving to their summer homes in rural areas to get away from the crowds are also quite possibly being selfish jerks because if they get sick, they may require care from rural hospitals that may not have the resources to care for the year-round residents.

Keeping these truths in mind, I feel somewhat sheepish about the fact that my daughters and I sometimes go to my parents’ summer place to “get away from it all” for a while. We pack everything we will need — we won’t use local grocery stores, etc. — and if one of us gets sick, we will return to our home city. That is to say, if one of us needs a hospital, we will use the hospital by our real home.

Today, I went to the summer place to check on the furnace. It turns out it needed to be bled (bleeded?) so I waited there while the repairman took care of it. This photo shows my home office this morning as I was working from one of the two homes I call home:

cast iron stove with glowing embers peeking through the bottom openings

brain focus/cognitive load

Writing requires a certain kind of brain function that feels too challenging lately. Or, rather, focusing on the work of writing — of running a business that requires I write grant applications and reports for nonprofit organizations — feels impossible. I can’t focus. I can’t stay sitting at the computer for long enough to process the questions and come up with the answers. (I can sit at the computer if I am mindlessly clicking on links or reading twitter or other brain hog activities just fine.)

This reminds me of the worst times of my post-concussion syndrome healing. It’s different (that was slippery thoughts that I couldn’t get to stay in my head) but similar.

Even writing this feels like a mistake. Have I used up some writing brain space that I should’ve reserved for billable work? (Probably?) (Yes!) In fact I just asked my editor at Black Girl In Maine Media if I could have an extension, as writing a post about racism that would be worth sharing publicly feels flat out impossible.

The brutality of unchecked late-stage capitalism, the weight of hundreds of years of oppression on people across the world and in the USA, the small daily challenges of trying to make a birthday party fun for my now-11 year old, sharing Easter with my parents and uncle, or facing the massive fact that my children’s childhood memories and development will include this history-making traumatic time… all of it.

Add to that the putting away laundry, making meals, getting dressed (???), creating routines (what day is it?), knowing that while we are 100% not in this alone many people are suffering far more than our family is but that doesn’t mean this isn’t difficult. And I miss my brain. I miss my ability to sit at the computer, look at a task list, prioritize it, and get writing on an application to submit it in advance of the deadline.

This post reminds me that I’ve decided to just write whatever I want in this space without editing or revising. It’s a personal record for me more than anything else. Thanks for reading, if you still are. :-)

journaling in the pandemic

“I hope you’ll write about it,” I say to my 16 and my 10 year old, “we’re living through what will become Big History.” Will I write about it, too? I haven’t been. Not really. Then I remembered I have this blog and I almost never use it. I’ve turned off “share this all over the Internet” and think I’m going to keep some journal-type thoughts here.

At the moment, we are in my parents’ summer place up in the mountains of Maine. We’re here just for a few days. We brought all the food we’ll need; we won’t visit any stores while we are here. (We’re a good 10 miles from any stores anyway.) If any of us start showing symptoms, we’ll go back to Portland (not take up space in the rural hospital). Everything is covered with snow, though it reach 50 degrees today. It’s strange being here off-season; I’m usually here to plant, tend, or harvest the garden.

In a minute I’m going to back-date some posts of photos I took since we began sheltering in place. I’ve been sheltering in place since the beginning of March when I was sick (with a fever, chest cold, and sinus infection) and didn’t want to be out and about spreading my germs.

This won’t be written carefully (draft, edit, review, re-work, etc. high-quality writing). It’ll be mostly stream-of-consciousness. Whatever’s on my mind at the moment. Written for me, but written here in public because my old process of posting on my blog feels comforting.

driving and walking

sometimes we just get into the car and drive around, listening to the “quarantine playlist” we’ve been curating. each of us picks songs we want on the playlist and we expect we’ll have memories associated with the songs in the future. little tiny mini road trips.

on one walk around Jewell Falls, we were very careful about stepping aside to let people pass with more than six feet of distance. at one point, a couple cyclists were going to pass us but there was no way for us to get out of the way. I sort of jokingly gestured at putting my hand over my mouth and nose (honestly, I thought they might get out of the way since they had the option?). they passed by us and the guy turned back, nearly stopping his bike, and angrily said, “why did you do that? why are you doing that?!?” and I said, “the virus?” I realized then that being “the bad guy” when it comes to physical distancing isn’t as simple as it seems.

looking over Jewell Falls on March 23, 2020

I’m grateful my daughters like each other (and me!) most of the time, and that they are kind to each other more often than they are jerky. I don’t take it for granted.