I am overcome by ordinary contentment

What it feels like to re-emerge from depression or pandemic or both

As those who have been reading my writing (including Double Time) for a while know, I’ve got a fun condition called bipolar II—though you probably wouldn’t notice, since I’m able to keep it at bay with medication.

Bipolar II doesn’t come with mania, but with mini-highs called hypomania, which may or may not be perceptible to anyone, including the person having them. Hypomania can just feel like being extra positive, productive and generally jazzed up about life. Frankly, it’s fucking awesome. One time I had it, I remember feeling pretty sure I’d achieved enlightenment. So, you know.

Mostly, though, bipolar II is characterized by recurrent periods of really bad depression. (Which is why it’s often misdiagnosed as just monopolar depression.) For me, this means feeling like my brain is not functioning properly. (‘Cuz it’s not!) Pleasure, enjoyment, focus, motivation, a sense of the future—gone, replaced instead by a sensation of palpable, inexplicable dread. Dread of what? Who knows! Ask my chemically imbalanced brain! I can’t move at full speed, my eyes itch, and I feel generally exhausted. Meanwhile, any real-life stress or disappointment or self-doubt feels magnified by a million. And even though you know it’s a lie, you can’t think (or exercise or meditate) your way out of it.

Recently, I’ve had to switch up some meds due to new side effects—I blame perimenopause, as I like to for anything vexsome these days—and this super fun chemistry experiment led to a depressive episode in late February and another in April. And, damn, I’d forgotten how miserable and debilitating it is to feel that way for days in a row.

Also: how freaking boring it is.

I have a new psychopharm doc, and the first question she asks to evaluate mood is: “Are you able to look forward to things?”

It’s the perfect question. When I’m in a state of depression, the answer is no, I do not look forward to anything. Not even dinner. (OK, no, wait: there is one thing. Sleep. I look forward to sleep.) Life is monotonous beyond belief.

If you’ve lived through the last year and a half—which clearly you have; congrats—you’ve gotten a teensy taste of what it’s like. Not in nearly as painful and bleak a way as the major depression version, and not because of neurological lack of ability, but because, well, there’s been nothing much to look forward to. (Except dinner. Definitely dinner. Amiright?)

It’s been a year and a half of feeling futureless, stuck in a strange, static reality where time didn’t move the way it normally did, and long-term plans were impossible, and the usual ways to break up the sameness of everyday life—going to the movies or out for a meal; visiting with friends; traveling, etc.—were off the table. A year and a half of not knowing when we’d be able to lose the masks, or when restrictions would lift or when we’d get to a point where we’d be able to stop, look back and say, “Man, that sucked.”

But, people: It’s happening!

The pandemic is far from over yet, but in the US, covid is officially in retreat. America is reopening and here in Massachusetts, we are seeing people’s whole faces—top and bottom halves—when we walk around in public. Restaurants are filling and vacation plans are being made and event tickets are being sold. People are hugging their family and friends again. Yesterday I was inside another fully vaccinated friend’s house, maskless, like it was just an ordinary day in 2019.

And all of this is against the metaphorically appropriate backdrop of a particularly stunning spring, busting out all over with its blossoms and leaves and sunshine.

All of it feels so lovely. So normal. But a version of normal that feels new and gleaming and gorgeous because it’s been gone for so long.

What a gift.

In many ways it reminds me of what I experience when coming out of a depressive episode, as I did recently. After days or weeks of feeing like my brain is jammed with damp rags, the clarity of the ordinary is almost blinding. The painless ease of everyday life (Trotting up the stairs! Replying to emails! Dinner!) feels like an elixir. Even if there is sadness or stress or annoyance in the mix, it feels bearable; it feels real.

The poet Jane Kenyon, who struggled with debilitating depression throughout her life, captures the sensation beautifully in her poem Having it Out With Melancholya poem I turn to again and again because it is such an accurate depiction of what major depression feels like—and what the end of a bout of it feels like, too. Here is the final stanza, “Wood Thrush.”

High on Nardil and June light

I wake at four,

waiting greedily for the first

note of the wood thrush. Easeful air

presses through the screen

with the wild, complex song

of the bird, and I am overcome

by ordinary contentment.

What hurt me so terribly

all my life until this moment?

How I love the small, swiftly

beating heart of the bird

singing in the great maples;

its bright, unequivocal eye.

I’m not on Nardil, and I don’t know if there are any wood thrushes nearby. But I am definitely feeling overcome by ordinary contentment right now, for more reasons than one.

I hope you’re feeling the same.

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I have a Tupperware problem.

Help.

It keeps spawning.

It jams up the drawer it lives in and pushes me to the limits of sanity as I try to nest and re-nest it each time I put another piece away. And another. And another.

The larger pieces, which don’t fit in the drawer but are too potentially useful to throw away, are proliferating too. They fall on my head nearly every time I open the cabinet where they’re stored, shoved on top of the stand mixer and the waffle iron and the spaetzel maker I’ve used exactly once. When the kids ask me to make waffles, or I need to use the mixer, I actually think: Ugh. Falling Tupperware. Tupperlanche. (And: Ugh, why did I buy that spaetzel maker?)

I haven’t actually bought any Tupperware* in a very long time. I’m pretty sure it has a half life of about forty-million years. As for the stuff I didn’t buy: Some of it is from friends who brought it to get-togethers at our house, back when such things were possible. Before they left I would say, “Wait! Let me give you back your Tupperware!” and they’d wave it off and say, “No, no, don’t worry about it ha ha ha! Next time I see you!” and I’d say, “No, REALLY! PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME WITH THIS!” but by then they would be in their cars.

Some of it has come home to us with the children after get-togethers with friends, bearing the remainders of the cookies or cupcakes they made. And then there are the plastic takeout containers from the Thai and Chinese and Indian places. I watch them stack up, powerless to stop them.

Wait. I did actually buy some tupperware a couple of years ago: Some cute little divided containers for the kids to use in their lunchboxes. They’re great, but the lid to one of them (pictured, below) was, sadly, sucked into a wormhole in the universe at one point.

So, I should really amend my earlier statement: The tupperware is spawning, but at the same time, it is disappearing into wormholes in the universe. Sometimes the lids, sometimes the bottoms, but never a matching pair at the same time.

The universe takes what it wants.

I try to keep ahead of the situation. Every six months or so, on a day when I’m feeling particularly tranquil and zen-like, or I just can’t take the clutter anymore, I take all the tupperware out of the drawer, and make sure I have a lid for every piece (I don’t) and a piece for every lid (no).

Then I look at each item and think about whether I really need that particular size—or three of that particular size. The answer is generally yes, because you never know. Then I nest the complete sets neatly back in the drawer, where they will remain nice and orderly for about two days.

I do not bother with the scary oversized tupperware in the cabinet, because I don’t want to get hit on the head, or have to figure out what to do with the spaetzel maker.

As part of this endeavor, I also decide which of the stray bottoms and lids to keep, in the hope that their mates will one day be spit back out of a wormhole into the kitchen. (It has been known to happen.) The others, I “recycle” (“recycle” because who know where they actually end up…) or—shudder—throw out, if they don’t have the little arrow symbol on the bottom.

Then I stand there for a while, thinking about that floating mass of plastic the size of Rhode Island in the Pacific, and I hate myself and the whole human race.

And yet, I tell myself—AND YET!—In terms of environmental impact: better we should use Tupperware than throw out our leftovers, or wrap everything up in disposable foil or plastic wrap or bags, right? So….there’s that.**

Speaking of leftovers: You know when you can’t find that exact right size Tupperware container you need for that left over stew or soup or whatever—just seventeen small, rectangular containers from Thai Basil—and you think it must have gone down the wormhole, or maybe you (cunningly, calculatingly) left it at a friend’s barbecue in 2019? But then you find it in the fridge four days later, shoved all the way in the back, full of leftover lasagna that you recall, with horror, you made at least three and a half weeks ago? And then, instead of thinking about the plastic island in the Pacific, you’re thinking about how many people are malnourished and food-insecure, and here you are, like an asshole, about to toss at least three, maybe four, servings of (moldy) lasagna made with Beyond Beef that you felt all virtuous about, because: plant-based?

I hate when that happens.

It’s not really about Tupperware, per se, but it’s related.

Lasagna, Tupperware, takeout containers, unnecessary spaetzel makers: they’re all about the excesses of late-stage capitalist consumption—excesses that manifest themselves in a drawer that will not close, a lasagna that is squandered, a cabinet that is a deathtrap of tumbling plastic, and a me that feels periodically wracked with guilt about my inability to break away from it all.

Like I said, I have a Tupperware problem.

Do you?

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PS — Please tune in next time, for my 800-word post about the 19 promotional plastic water bottles ("Use instead of a disposable water bottle and save the earth!”) in the drawer beneath the tupperware drawer, and why they make me hate mankind.

*I’m using “Tupperware” as a catch-all name for plastic containers. I know it’s not all Tupperware brand. I’m not stupid.

**Please don’t be the person who tells me I should use all glass storage containers instead of plastic. Unless you want to be the person I give all my Tupperware to when I replace with it with glass, in which case, please include your address with your comment. Also: I have a few glass storage containers. Two are missing their lids.

Must you see my face?

Can we get back to good old non-video conference calls? Please?

I get it. Really, I do.

Thousands of you have been unwillingly relegated to work-from-home status as a result of the pandemic. The co-workers you used to see every day have been replaced by houseplants / cats / dogs / children / partners / the occasional plumber.

You miss the things you took for granted when you worked on site: Chit-chat before meetings, friendly greetings in the corridors, laughs over lunch, commiseration over bad hair days in the bathroom (amiright, ladies?). You might even kinda sorta miss the co-workers you couldn’t stand before. (At least they made life interesting!)

To make matters worse, you don’t see your friends or relatives or acquaintances much either, and when you do, it’s only from above the nose and below the chin.

So, naturally, when it comes time for virtual meetings, you want to see people. You are hungry for eyes, mouths, ears, cryptic facial expressions, anything.

Dear reader, I understand.

But here’s the thing: I’ve been working from home for the past eleven years, by choice. After years of working in offices, I struck out on my own, craving the freedom and control of being my own boss and the flexibility to allocate more time to my family and my own writing beyond my work in advertising / marketing.

And I love it.

The amount I pay for health insurance blows, yes, but the perks are undeniable: I get to stay in my PJs as long as I want, keep my hair in a ponytail, and go to the grocery store in the middle of the day if I damned well please. I don’t have to sit in traffic, fight for a seat on the subway, or pay $12 for a sandwich. I give myself as much vacation time as I can afford, and I can pick my kids up after school if it’s raining.

Do I miss having in-person coworkers? The meetings, the lunches, the leftover birthday cake in the kitchen? Hardly ever. (Well, no, I guess I miss the cake. Cake is nice.)

But it’s not like I’m completely isolated. I have meetings with clients a few times a week on average. Pre-pandemic, they were occasionally in person, which I enjoyed, since they were occasional and therefore a nice change of scene. (It gave me an excuse to wear my nice-ish clothes!) But mostly, they were conference calls. CALLS. As in, no faces, just voices—even on computer-based call services like WebEx where video was an option. CALLS.

Calls as in me in my pajamas or on my bed or in my car in parking lot of the grocery store before I go in. As in me doing mindless things like chopping onions or wiping down the kitchen cabinets while I listen and talk, pausing as needed to jot down notes. As in me in the bathroom—just kidding. I never did that. Honest.

But ever since March 2020, can we have a voice-only call? Just stick our little avatars or names up there, or use the dial-in number? NoooooOooO! We all have to turn our cameras on. Even while someone else is screen sharing we have to SHOW OUR GODDAMNED FACES in the little windows on the side because we’re all just SooOOOOooo lonely.

But what does this mean for me, your humble, happy, long-time work-from-home freelancer? This means I have to do all the things I gleefully abandoned years ago: I have to put on makeup (lest I blind everyone with my paleness), wear something vaguely presentable (as an independent consultant I can’t get away with looking like a total shlub), stay in one place (which canNOT be my bed) and look engaged every single second. I cannot chop onions. I cannot be in my car in the grocery store parking lot. (No wifi, no outlet for my computer). I can not clandestinely eat my lunch.

Worse—nay, worst of all—I have to look at myself.

I know, I know, I don’t have to. But of course I do! You do too! It’s impossible not to periodically look at yourself on video calls! And suddenly, instead of focusing on the meeting, I’m distracted with stupid thoughts like: Is that really what I look like when I talk? Why is my hair doing that weird thing? How long was I breathing through my mouth, and do I always do that? Can they tell I don’t have a bra on under this fleece jacket thrown over a pajama top that I’m wearing because I didn’t leave enough time to get dressed before this meeting? And….oh God, what the hell is happening with my neck? Is that a FOLD at the bottom?

And as if that isn’t distracting and dispiriting enough, I have to make my surroundings look professional, too. (Yeah, no, those Zoom backgrounds don’t work on my computer; they swallow me up so I look like the Golden Gate Bridge or an Ikea-furnished living room or whatever, but with eyes and a mouth. Disturbing.)

I have to let everyone see my weird, dark cave of an office, which doubles as a guest room and hang-out room for the kids, who leave blankets and crap strewn over the futon couch. There’s a messy shelf full of photo albums and boxes along one wall, a dartboard on another, and a towel rack on the back of the door for overnight guests. It’s not exactly a setup that screams “This is a competent, qualified professional whom you should pay thousands of dollars.”

These were things I didn’t have to think about until last year.

And, yes, I could keep my camera off during calls. But if everyone else has theirs on and I don’t, I feel like the asshole. Plus, as someone who has to earn every job, it doesn’t look good. Neither do the dartboard and towel rack, of course, but they’re prefereable to my remaining invisible. (I think?)

(Note to self: Take the towel rack down. “Overnight guests” are not currently a thing.)

Look, dear legions of fellow white collar professionals. It’s nice to see your faces and your smiles. Especially if we’ve never met before and will be working together frequently. It does make for better, more nuanced communications in some cases, being able to see expressions. Moreover, I know this brave new world of working from home is new to you, and you miss your in-office, three-dimensional work life.

But now, a year and change into this thing, isn’t the Zoom thing getting a bit old? Can we go back to those civilized days of the voice-only conference call? At least sometimes, maybe, when we all already know each other? Please?

I am writing this post in my pajamas, no makeup on, sitting in my messy kitchen. Nobody is looking at me but my cat.

And I am so happy.

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All My Fun: A Tale of Terror

An (illustrated) thriller about the 1980s kidnapping epidemic. And sharks.

I am at my happiest and most psychologically sound when I am working on a big writing project. As in, a book. But I’m in between projects right now, having recently finished a novel, and I don’t have a clear sense of what’s next. The time-standing-still quality of this pandemic thing is not helping either. I know I am not the only writer—nay, person—struggling to feel a sense of forward motion.

BUT it’s a perfect time to dig back through my early works. Like, really early works. I give you one below, from what I’d like to call my Bloodhound Gang period, when I specialized in mysteries, thrillers and the dark underbelly of suburbia in the early 1980s. (See also: my chilling Halloween book) I think I was in second grade when I wrote this, judging by the handwriting and themes.

Don’t let the benign title fool you. This is one scary-ass story. (Trigger warning: Involves kidnapping. A LOT of kidnapping.)

Ready? Here we go.

What an opening! We get Lisa’s deepest, darkest fears right off the bat. This is important to make clear in fiction, the sooner the better: What is driving your protagonist? What do they want more than anything? Lisa wants not to be kidnapped. This makes her instantly relatable.

There are some biographical elements here: Like Lisa Ronly I lived in Fairfield, Connecticut. As a Gen-Xer living in the greater New York metro suburbs in the 80s, I was also somewhat afraid of being kidnapped—rumors of kidnappers in white vans abounded during this time—but I definitely think I played it up. Way up.

Also: while I did have a cat, it did not walk or run to and from school with me. I think as an author I realized that this part strained credulity, hence the hasty “even though pets weren’t allowed at school,” which was basically second-grade me saying, “Yeah, I know. I’m not stupid. Work with me here, people.”

Page two:

So, now one begins to think that Lisa’s fear of kidnappers may be a little…unhealthy. This is a kid who has trained herself to take her (apparently routine) multi-hour after school naps with one eye open (as seen in the illustration) to guard against potential kidnappers, even though Snowflake the kitten HAS SHIT UNDER CONTROL. Today, I think it’s safe to say Lisa would be diagnosed with generalized anxiety and seeing a therapist several times a week.

Still, I love how fast this story is moving, and how laser focused it is on the central conflict. (Lisa vs. her fear of kidnapping vs. possible actual 80s white van kidnappers.) And you have to admire the bold choice of the author (me) to so blatantly foreshadow a kidnapping incident. Like Chekov’s gun on the mantel in the first scene, you know that puppy is going to go off—whether in real life, or in the twisted torment that is fourth-grade young adult Lisa Rony’s mind.

Wait. WHAT? Now they’re suddnely sailing down the Mississippi? When? On what? A riverboat? A raft? Is this a family vacation? What the hell? (Theory: I’d just learned how to spell Mississippi and was showing off?)

OK, Fine. They’re sailing down the Mississippi one day, which is a completely normal thing for a family from Connecticut to do with their disturbed fourth grader. And now we learn that Lisa is not only afraid of kidnappers but she is irrationally afraid of freshwater sharks even though she KNOWS THERE AREN’T ANY SHARKS IN THE MISSISSIPPI.

But wait, no, what she’s actually afraid of are (of course) kidnappers on boats. The sharks are just a metaphor. Maybe? Jesus, Lisa. Get your shit together.

Again, though: I gotta hand it to young author me. The twists and turns are breathtaking in their boldness, unnerving in their complete insanity: First we get good news: None of the famed Mississippi child snatchers make an appearance, and, again, Lisa feels better (“I guess”).

But then, a sentence later, we get bad news. VERY bad news: While Lisa is reading the paper (I’m thinking maybe the St. Louis Dispatch?) while on her vacation to the Mississippi, like fourth graders do, she learns that an apparently long and drawn out kidnapping is underway 1,000 miles away.

Does this means of conveying a key plot point strain credulity? Much like a kitten accompanying a child to and from school? Even though print was very much still alive in the early 80s? Maybe. Shut up.

I am 100% on board with the father and the decision of the school district here.

As for “everyone” being happy about the school closure because they’re not aware of the whole kidnapping thing, I assume this means every other kid? It makes sense, I guess. Not every elementary school child is savvy enough to read the paper every day, including while on a riverboat excursion. Lisa 1, other kids, 0.

Although, actually, I sort of wish Lisa didn’t know either. I mean, Jesus, the poor kid. Maybe her parents should try to shelter her from this stuff a bit more, given her phobias. Unless it’s some kind of exposure therapy thing?

No matter. At least she’s not going to school. But…wait. What if the kidnappers come in her bedroom window like she fears???

OH MY GOD, I AM STARTING TO IDENTIFY WITH THE PROTAGONIST!! This is disturbing…but quite a feat on the author’s part.

Bravo, me. Bravo.

Yep. Lisa and I are on the same page: She knows she’s in trouble, because she knows those motherfuckers are coming in the window.

Things get a little…confusing on this page. It’s jarring, given how tight the rest of the prose has been up until this point. But we get the basic jist of things. It can get cleaned up in the copyediting stage.

Moving on.

Holy crap — we’re only on chapter two? And so much has already happened!

So, now these parents left their 9-year-old, phobic daughter home alone even though there is an rash of kidnappings in progress that’s making national news. Although I guess it is the 80s—an era in which kids Lisa’s age were helping extraterrestrials escape from federal agents on nighttime bike chases and whatnot. So guess I’ll buy it—especially since it leads to the climax we all knew was coming.

Shit is getting real.

And, yeah, no kidding her parents were terrified when they got home. I’m not going to say I told you so, but…

Aside: I miss Snowflake.

Wow, OK, these kidnappers are pro. They have a prison on a dezert island and everything. Which means they also have boats. Which means maybe Lisa’s fear of riverboat kidnappers was justified! (Cue “Old Man River” in a minor key.)

But wait, wait, wait….I don’t like what happens next at all.

Fucking Wonder Woman is here?

So…all along we were reading DC Comics fan fiction?

Dammit, Jane. I know you loved Lynda Carter, and sometimes spun around in the backyard hoping to turn into a superhero of some sort, but I feel like you kind of broke the contract with the reader here by bringing this element into an otherwise realist (pretty much) story. What gives? Did you just run out of ideas? Was this the plan all along?

Or…No. I think it’s something else.

Sigh.

I think, kiddo, you bumped up against the painful reality that it is really, really hard to finish a book—or any piece of writing. Especially after that initial rush of inspiration. The time and energy and mental fortitude it requires are huge even for a non -cocaine-snorting adult to handle, let alone a child.

And maybe, too, your inner critic was whispering in your ear. This is crap, Jane. You’re a hack. You’re kidding yourself if you think anyone will want to read this. Go back to collecting stickers and selling Girl Scout Cookies and learning how to jump Double Dutch.

I get it, young me. I totally get it.

And still, I can’t help but wish you’d pushed through. I really would have loved to see Lisa defeat the kidnappers and, more important, defeat her paralyzing fear—with or without Wonder Woman’s help. After being kidnapped, she’d certainly have some serious trauma to work through, and I would have stayed with you for that narrative journey too.

But, I understand. If I had a buck for every story and essay and book I began and then abandoned, it would probably rival my latest stimulus check.

Writing is hard.

But you know what? Stick with it. Because you’re going to write a lot of stuff that you actually finish, too. Essays and stories and books. You will face rejection and failure and frustration and self-doubt along the way—that bitchy inner critic doesn’t go away, I’m afraid—but you will persevere. And, believe it or not, some of what you write will be even better than All My Fun.

Keep going. Even when inspiration seems shark-infested rivers away, keep going.

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What's this about "normal"?

People keep talking about things being sort of normal this summer—and it's hurting my brain.

Anyone else kind of freaking out at the notion of life returning to normal-ish as more and more people get vaccinated?

Normal.

I am seeing the word being thrown around more and more, with articles promising that the summer is going to be glorious and wonderful and amazing and almost normal feeling: People gathering maskless at backyard barbecues! Screaming not just inside their hearts on roller coasters! Frolicking at the beach without having to give the stink-eye to people whose blankets and chairs are too close!

Hey, cool. What else? Ice blocks being delivered in horse-drawn wagons? Children chasing hoops down the street with sticks? Pantaloons?

So-called “Normal” life feels so quaint to me right now—so hazy and far away—that I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that we might be experiencing something close to it in a few months, assuming the combo of new virus variants and relaxed restrictions doesn’t bite us in the ass.

I mean: Isn’t this normal? Masking and distancing and all Zoom, all the time? Feeling a persistent, low-grade sense of anxiety and disorientation? Having recurring nightmares about being in crowded places where nobody, myself included, is wearing a mask?

Granted, we’ll probably still be wearing masks and social distancing this summer and beyond. There will still be safety protocols and capacity restrictions. And personally, I probably won’t be going to indoor restaurants or theaters any time soon, even though legally I could. (Starting now in Massachusetts, in fact….something that makes me nervous.) I will probably not ride / scream on roller coasters, either, as much as I’d love to.

But will I entertain friends indoors without fear? Possibly. Will I venture into the library, if it reopens, to browse the shelves? Hell yes. Will I no longer feel the urge to deck people at the grocery store who have their big stupid noses hanging out over the tops of their masks? Hahah, no, I’ll still hate those people. (But maybe slightly less?)

Meanwhile: Is it possible that I’ll regain my ability to think about the future? This whole past year, between the uncertainties of the pandemic and the various forms of social and political upheaval, I’ve felt very much anchored—mired, really—in the now. This week, this day, this hour.

If I was feeling really wild and crazy, I’d try to imagine what might happen in a month or two. But I can’t remember the last time I entertained thoughts of what might happen in several months or years from now, like I used to—trips I want to take, or things I want to do or accomplish.

I suppose this isn’t all bad; living in the now and whatnot. Though it often feels claustrophobic, there’s also been a sort of peace in living day to day; a stillness I don’t always mind. Blank weekend days on the calendar can be filled with spontaneous day trips or lazy afternoons spent de-cluttering, reading, or being slaughtered by my children and husband in Mario Kart. (I’m good at many, many things. Mario Kart is not one of them. Don’t even talk to me about Rainbow Road.)

I’ve been trying to suck the marrow out of the present moment to the best of my ability this winter in particular, self-medicating with high-dose snowshoeing and hiking. And carbs. (They cancel each other out.)

But now, suddenly, I’m being required to think about THE SUMMER—and actually managing to do it. The theater program and summer camp our kids, respectively, were hoping to attend are actually happening, and I put the dates on the calendar. The AMC high mountain huts, where I go with friends every year on a hiking adventure are slated to open, and I made a reservation. Rumor has it that the YMCA family camp we go to for a week every August will run, too. We’ve even started getting information from the schools about our kids picking classes for next fall. (Which will be their first year of HIGH SCHOOL, holy crap, and therefore shocking in its own right.)

What’s next? Am I going to start thinking about hosting Thanksgiving next Fall? Going to holiday parties? Taking a family trip ON AN AIRPLANE WITHOUT A MASK??

No. That last one goes toooooo far, my friends. The very idea of it seems positively primitive—akin to people dumping chamber pots into the manure-filled streets for children with hoops and sticks to run through.

So….I guess I’m cautiously excited (if that’s a thing), about the world starting to reopen and the horizon of time starting to widen in the months ahead. But if stuff gets too “normal,” too fast, I think I may pop a spring or blow a gasket or something. I wanna come out of this thing niiiiice and slow, like a little daffodil shoot popping its head out of the soil. A daffodil shoot with a mask on (over its mouth AND NOSE), smizing.

I don’t have a picture of me as a daffodil shoot with a mask on, so here’s another picture of me hiking — on a frozen Lonesome Lake, Franconia Ridge in the background.

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