March 27, 2020

Finding it hard to write

When the pandemic shutdowns and closures started ramping up two weeks ago—when people were recommended to stay home and only go out for essential services—I told myself that I would write one blog post a day. I was convinced that I could write a sort of pandemic diary” where I would have something interesting to say each day I was homebound.

Instead, the opposite has happened. Not only have I not been able to write for public consumption, my writing in general has stopped. I have found it hard to write in my journal every day, going full days without scribbling anything down at all; I have only written two letters to friends, eschewing my regular cadence of 3-4 pieces of correspondence a week.

I have found it hard to write even in small doses: my email inbox is overflowing with emails that require responses, and I have hundreds of unread text messages because I can’t bring myself to write a reply. This struggle extends beyond written prose, but also to my voiced words: I struggle in video chats and on phone calls to find the right things to say, or to say anything at all. I have been moved to silence.

I have lost the ability to share my thoughts, my concerns, my ideas, and my support with anyone, including myself. I read all these articles and lists that are about what to do with your extra time during the pandemic” and shake my head; I have no extra time, and in fact my days are more full and exhausting than they have been before. I am cognitively and emotionally tapped out each day before noon, and this literal exhaustion of my faculties has meant that I am not mentally able to conjure the words I usually use to process the world around me.

I’m going to spend the weekend ahead trying to recapture my journaling practice. After that, I may try to respond to some emails and text messages. And maybe, after that, if I am able to find my words again, I’ll be sharing more here. Until then, enjoy the links below, and take care of yourselves, my friends. Remind yourselves that it’s okay to be silent, or that it’s okay to be loud—that it’s okay to be who you need to and must be in these tumultuous times.

A poem

When people say, we have made it through worse before”
Clint Smith

all I hear is the wind slapping against the gravestones
of those who did not make it, those who did not
survive to see the confetti fall from the sky, those who

did not live to watch the parade roll down the street.
I have grown accustomed to a lifetime of aphorisms
meant to assuage my fears, pithy sayings meant to

convey that everything ends up fine in the end. There is no
solace in rearranging language to make a different word
tell the same lie. Sometimes the moral arc of the universe

does not bend in a direction that will comfort us.
Sometimes it bends in ways we don’t expect & there are
people who fall off in the process. Please, dear reader,

do not say I am hopeless, I believe there is a better future
to fight for, I simply accept the possibility that I may not
live to see it. I have grown weary of telling myself lies

that I might one day begin to believe. We are not all left
standing after the war has ended. Some of us have
become ghosts by the time the dust has settled.

I’m going to do my best to keep these weekend reading links not related to the coronavirus, so the links below should all be pandemic-free. If you’re looking for more pandemic-related reading, check out my regularly-updated list of articles and links I’m collecting in a separate blog post.

Earlier this week, I created a map of all the local, independent places to grab takeout in my city, and the map was featured in an article on the CBC and on the radio, as well.

I think the job of tummler is the best-suited job ever created for me. It’s a little of what I try to do online, a little of what I try to do in my workplace and in my community, but I think I’s love to do just that, full-time. (h/t Fayaz)

I grew up in a family where money was very tight; my therapist tells me this has led to my fraught relationship with money. We didn’t have a term for it before, but Mona Chalabi’s piece about money dysmorphia is an excellent way to describe how I feel about financial stuff. (h/t Ashley)

The way Biden treated Anita Hill during the Thomas confirmation (yes, I’m still angry about that and always will be) is clear indication that he’s going to be a horrible president. Rachel Traister says it plainly and perfectly: Joe Biden isn’t the answer.

I knew restaurants operated on razor thin margins, but this breakdown of how much it actually costs to run a restaurant is eye-opening.

This is a remarkably comprehensive look at what it feels like for (some people) to be depressed. My experience with depression is different in many ways, but this is still a good resource to understand what the experience may be like. (It may be called Tips for the Depressed,” but it better read as tips for people who want to understand depression.”)

The ever-familiar boob lamp, you see, is actually a very good lamp. As we march ahead in uncertain times, those old dependable boobs will keep lighting the way.”

A recurring theme at work is that we need to build software with empathy (I argue that we need compassion more than empathy), and this short story is one example of why truly caring about others is so important when we build things online. (h/t Gigi)

I went from being a person who only reads books in print to someone who primarily reads them on a device, and the Libby app is a huge reason why I made that switch. If you can get it, you should.

In 1997, Biggie Smalls left his belt at the offices of The Source—and it stayed there for years until the office closed down.

You spot talent by looking at what people persist at, not what persistently happens to them.”

Helsinki and Oslo cut pedestrian deaths to zero by cutting speed limits, changing street design, removing space for cars and generally making life harder for motorists.

Most of the glitter in America is made in two factories in New Jersey, and both factories are extremely secretive of their process.

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