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

Hibernating — The COVID Diaries: Staying Sane in a Time That’s Not

Dear Diary,

The fog is thick this morning, a cold cocoon chrysalis shielding our house and holding it suspended in time. 

It has been 38 days since my last confession.

I’ve been quiet, I think, because I’m hibernating.

The isolation and confinement of trying to be wise, trying to protect our people, has forced a sort of inward focus. Like an owl tucking its face in its wing for slumber. Or a dog curled up by the fireplace, tail over its nose. ...  read more

Sorry Our Kids Left Their Beer Bong on the Porch

Last night was Halloween, and it was weird for us. For the first time in 22 years, we took no children trick-or-treating. The combination of COVID days and mental health and older kids who don’t feel the need to trick-or-treat made it an easy decision. A non-decision, really. We discussed it for less than a minute, and then we moved on.

Now, listen. If you have younger kids—or really kids of ANY age—who DID care about trick-or-treating and you were out and about walking the streets, you’ll get no judgement from me. I saw all the masks and candy chutes and drive-by trick-or-treating. All y’all were creative in finding safe ways to celebrate, and I’m here for it. Good for you! ...  read more