Adrienne the yoga teacher keeps telling me on the YouTube to move into positions “with ease.”

The COVID After Times are like becoming a mother. Never was there ever an experience so common, so universal, and so bewilderingly isolating. Everyone’s doing it. And everyone’s doing it alone. 

When I became a mother, I thought I was becoming part of a club. Part of a whole. Part of a unified conglomerate. So I was mystified when I felt disconnected, instead. Separate. Detached. As if I was forging a path through the jungle, unsure what dangers lurked around me, equipped with a malfunctioning compass that refused to point me toward the village. I knew one was out there. Somewhere. The elusive village where the other mothers laughed as their children played. Where there was sleep and respite because there was someone willing to hold the baby.  ...  read more

Lesson from a Foster Dog (You Is Such a Gud Human… Yes, You Is)

Daisy was the dumbest dog I’ve ever fostered. Bar none. Hands down. Dumb. Est.

Don’t get me wrong; Daisy was also Top 3 for Sweetest Foster Ever. Never did you ever meet a more darling rug. Her eyes and smile could light up a room. But a genius she was not.

We had Daisy for five months because the poor baby needed surgery, and in those five months she never learned to use the dog door. Other dogs showed her how. My kids demonstrated. We used treats and pets and consistent training. We bribed and cajoled. And nothing. She wasn’t afraid. This wasn’t one of the weird hang-ups foster dogs sometimes have. She’d happily go through the hole if we held the flap for her, and she’d sit next to it all day long, cheerfully watching the others go in and out, delighted whenever they reappeared. She was functionally a small child without object permanence; if the flap was down, the outside and anything in it ceased to exist. Every once in a while—SURPRISE!—a friend would pop through like a magic trick, and she’d look at me, astonished and thrilled, like did you see that?And every time, I’d say, “I did, Daisy!” matching her excitement because it was infectious.  ...  read more

Once upon a time there was a woman who lived during a pandemic, and she was tired.

Once upon a time, there was a woman who lived during a pandemic, and she had expectations about herself and who she was and how productive she ought to be, and isn’t that a funny thing?

Once upon a time there was a woman who lived before a pandemic, and she was in a river, metaphorically speaking, rushing along, pulled by the current of parenting and productivity and progress. The Before Times, she calls it now that she lives in the After Times. The Before Times with a social schedule and appointments and meetings and seeing whole faces at the grocery store. The Before Times, that rushing river, sweeping her through her days from alarm bells in the morning, running running running to What’s Next, usually late, blaming herself that Functional People seemed to be stronger swimmers, heads above water, accomplishing more than her, even while navigating the rapids.  ...  read more

Memories of Coup Attempts Gone By

There were two reasons school was canceled when I was in ninth grade—typhoons and coup attempts—and in the manner of privileged and oblivious youth everywhere, I was afraid of neither.

I was 13 when I left my parents for boarding school in the Philippines, making the four-day trip from Indonesia with two 15-year-old boys and another 13-year-old girl who never knew where she’d last seen her passport. In retrospect, it strikes me as wildly irresponsible and not a little crazy that our parents shooed us off with no adult supervision, crossing fingers we’d end up at our final destination, and, since I’ve become a parent myself I’ve asked them in a calm and measured tone, WHAT IN THE WORLD WERE YOU THINKING. Their answer? YES, IT WAS WILDLY IRRESPONSIBLE AND NOT A LITTLE CRAZY, Beth, but {{shrug}} everyone was doing it, so…  ...  read more

Watching Things Burn and Defying the Dark: Thoughts on 2020

Once upon a time, in the 1980s, I lived in the Stone Age. I didn’t use a time machine to get there, but only technically. 

I was 11 or 12 or 13 then, on the cusp of adult awakening, and I vanished from the land where Madonna’s Like A Virgin and Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean and Olivia Newton John’s Let’s Get Physical with their deliciously lascivious lyrics played over the speakers at K-Mart, whisked away by my parents to a literal jungle in the Pacific where women tied strings around their waists for modesty, and men used dried squashes as clothes, and tools were fashioned from rocks and sticks, and everything smelled like barbecued sweat except when it smelled like monsoon rains as if the air had congealed into liquid, breathable earth. ...  read more

There’s a Dead Bird in My Bed: The COVID Diaries

Dear Diary,

Does it mean something nefarious if you end 2020 by waking up to a dead bird in your bed?

Like, if the morning gifts you a deceased flying creature, is that a portent of things to come? Is it a severed horse head, a la The Godfather? A harbinger of dread? 

Or is simply an acknowledgement, like the universe is saying, “Yep. 2020 WAS SOMETHING, amirite? HERE’S A DEAD BIRD TO COMMEMORATE IT. YOU’RE WELCOME.”  ...  read more

I’m Alive and Dead Simultaneously: The COVID Diaries

Dear Diary,

It is four days after Christmas and three days until the New Year, and I have done everything this month, and also I have done nothing at all. I did the Necessary Holiday Things; there was stuff in stockings, there were presents under the plastic tree, I was wildly grateful for my ridiculous gaggle of loud, obnoxious, sweary humans, and I also felt like a lump who accomplished Zero… a lump who maybe should have done more? Been more? Like there should have been more hot meals prepared with my hands and perhaps some mopping of the muddy floors? Like I should have made cheerful Christmas cookies for the neighbors and peppermint fudge. Or written a few letters by hand instead of shooting emails into the ether.  ...  read more