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Pandemic Journaling

Random snippets from a writer in quarantine


March 23, 2020

Today, Mayor Hancock issued a “stay-at-home” order for Denver, meaning that all non-essential businesses shut down until further notice. Everyone panicked, even though he tried to reassure everyone not to panic. Do not panic. This is an example of the extremes we are living in right now. I wake up in the morning and wonder what the hell is going to happen, and then I’m not completely surprised when things happen. At one moment, there is news of a celebrity in my feed, at another an article explaining what the government is considering paying every American. This is lunacy.


So the lesson for today is learning how to judge a situation or a person based on the balance they strike between the extremes. Not how they are on their best day, nor on their worst day. That also goes for myself. I am not defined by my mistakes only. And I am not defined by my successes only. In fact, I am more defined by how I live the in-between moments — like respecting strangers and friends alike, trusting my boyfriend, giving loved ones the benefit of the doubt, keeping in touch with people who matter, treating animals or children with compassion, taking care of the environment.


March 25, 2020

I was thinking about a story from my childhood today. My family was on one of our road trips, and I think we were in Vegas but maybe it was Reno. Either way, we went to an indoor carnival where, beneath a looming Ferris Wheel, we talked to a woman at a booth selling vials of essential oils. She did something to assert which oil you were supposed to buy - I can’t remember now if it was reading our auras or simply talking to us. I was young. When it was my turn, she gave me a bottle labeled “courage”, telling me that although I had it in me, sometimes I would forget how to find it and that’s when the bottle could help.


I don’t have that bottle anymore. But if what she said is true, then I just have to remember how to find my courage.


March 27, 2020

My partner and I haven't left our house in more than a week.


Even though I never considered myself talented in the kitchen, I'm starting to improve noticeably.


We gathered an enormous pile of things to give away to thrift stores or recycle. After sitting amongst our belongings nonstop, we realized what we really need and want, and what we're just dragging around with us. At one point, I tried to justify why I was still carrying around a book I hated, and then I remembered how I lived out of a 22 liter backpack for six months. I gave the book away, in case you're wondering.


March 30, 2020

Every magazine has suspended budgets right now. I woke up this morning ready to write an article and think of a few more to write this week when I was told to hold off. Those are terrifying words to hear when my paycheck depends on articles written. I sighed a lot. I tried to look at gif videos to squash the rising panic but couldn't focus.


And then I remembered one of my favorite quotes, from "Dune" by Frank Herbert.

“Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”


That quote has remained with me since the first time I read it. When fear sets in, logical thinking and decision-making gets scrambled. Our worst choices are made out of fear. What I like about this particular quote is twofold: its sensory description of fear that I imagine like a cold shiver running from head to toe and its focus on fear as an entity beyond ourselves. Fear is not in me, it’s a natural force like hunger or the desire to fuck. It wants to have control but it is often in our best interest to control it instead. We can’t just go around fucking everybody. And we can’t just live (a meaningful) life fearing everything.


Fear is useful for a split second — the time it takes to realize you are in grave danger or forgot to turn off the oven or realized your loved one isn’t where they should be. But after that, after it passes over and through you, fear is like poison. It erodes the channels through which solutions are retrieved, through which rationality is gained. Fear is the double bacon cheeseburger to your arteries.


When I let fear come and go, I am back in control of my life.


April 21, 2020

In a few days, I'll start painting the biggest mural project of my life. It's the perfect gig to have when you shouldn't be inside with strangers, and I'm looking forward to having an excuse to leave the house.


May 15, 2020

The stay-at-home orders have lifted a bit... but things aren't normal. Restaurants aren't open, the stores that are open have taped X's on the ground, symbolizing the "social distance" guidelines of six feet. People, including myself, are unsure exactly what to do, moving forward.


Some of the more interesting conversations I've had recently are with people who believe this is going to precipitate a massive revolution — culturally, spiritually, politically. Maybe a renaissance is a better word, a word that encompasses the inherent good that people are associating with the possibility for change in this world.


I want to believe that with all of my heart, and we seem to be on the right path. But, I think it's going to get a lot more uncomfortable first.


May 22, 2020

When the thunderstorm approached Denver, it was as if a giantess took the stage, the sweeping velvet of her steel blue skirts separating from the floor boards with each stride.


The energy was stifled and exuberant, a great pause descended over the plains in anticipation of the show.


May 24, 2020

Things To Always Remember:

- Emotions aren't friends

- Self-esteem takes effort

- Not everyone has the same motivations

- You can break the cycles your parents teach you

- Making mistakes is natural, and failure doesn't make you a bad person.


May 31, 2020

Protests erupted across the country after the video of police in Minneapolis choking a Black man to death went viral a few days ago. His name was George Floyd. Things in Minneapolis looked apocalyptic when I woke up the other day to a reporter being arrested on live TV while buildings burned in the background. Denver has had its own response, and what started as solidarity with Floyd turned into a different thing quickly -- a protest against DPD's own shady history with racism, police brutality, and corruption.


For years I've been watching and lamenting and bitching about police brutality, toward everyone sure, but specifically toward BIPOC. I admit I haven't done enough about it, considering how bad I know it is. But I want to change that.


In the meantime, I'm watching and learning as activists who have been working on these issues for decades talk about it and move the conversation forward. They know that now is the time to quickly and swiftly respond, since never before have this many people continued to rally and support Black Lives Matter.


June 3, 2020

One of the best realizations that therapy has helped me arrive at in the last four months is that your childhood frustrations often inform your adult frustrations.


That's all I have to say today.


September 23, 2020

The news everyday is fatiguing. Ruth Bader Ginsburg died the other day. Trump leads the polls. The cops who murdered Breonna Taylor weren't charged for her murder. The planet has used up its share of natural resources for the year already. Wildfires are consuming Colorado and the West Coast. I've had to pry myself away from social media to avoid a daily dose of depression. Liberals are buying guns. I don't know what's ahead for me or for the country or for the planet. Sometimes I'm scared, frustrated, sad. Sometimes, I feel energized and determined. I want to focus on the good, I want to be part of the positive changes we, as humanity, need to enact.



*Photo is of COVID-19-inspired art by Scot LeFavor and Jher located in the RiNo Art District, May 2020

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