I like gardening in the mornings. It’s productive. Not the way I hoped I’d be productive during this (finishing a novel, industriously cleaning, checking off all these little life boxes), but productive in the sense that I’m working with my hands to produce a finished physical project. It feels good; I like the way my mind goes still and it’s just me and the work and the sunshine and maybe some music if I’m feeling it. (A friend has told me that this is what working out is supposed to feel like. Never in my life has working out felt like this, but you do you, I guess.)
I opened my inbox and there were already eleven messages, all of which required a response. I immediately shut my inbox and got a second cup of coffee before I sat down and started over.
Today my mailman recognized that my mom had put the wrong number on a package and came back to make sure it got to the right person. Temptation to leave a pile of cash in the mailbox is growing, especially considering it was a three pound (!) bag of yeast. (Also, if anybody needs baking yeast, let me know, I guess.)
I write out a longhand letter to my friend in Chicago during lunch in response to a card she sent me last week. She wrote, “Something about writing a physical letter during a time of plague puts me in the mindset of a wealthy woman from Olden Times. I must be wealthy, since I can read and write and can afford such frivolities as paper and ink in these difficult times.” She’s right; it probably doesn’t help that I’m in a long dress and wearing a blanket like a shawl. Very Laura Ingalls Wilder.
In an interesting quirk, if we leave our A/C on anything higher than 69, it cuts out around noon. It is currently 82 degrees in my house.
My roommate just looked up at me from the floor next to my desk and said, verbatim, “oh my god, Popeyes,” which—same.
We forego the dog walk tonight in favor of watching the dogs race around the yard while we have a drink and some snacks in the backyard, kicking up our feet on the cheap Target porch furniture and stopping Gracie, my roommate’s dog, from eating the dirt out of the garden beds. The music is loud enough to hear but (hopefully) not loud enough to disturb the neighbors. We entertain ourselves by making up conversations between the dogs.
My work-from-home setup is in my bedroom, which isn’t ideal. Not the working from home part—the bedroom part. Aside from all of the articles and studies detailing exactly why you should keep your brain activity space and your sleep space separate, it kind of weirds me out when I’m folding laundry or reading in bed and I glance up and my work email is staring back at me.
To get my work stuff off my screen, I’ve started writing again. I’m not producing words the way I want to be, in part thanks to the way the world is now, but, I reason with myself, I’m never satisfied with how my writing comes out, so really what do the circumstances matter? A wise woman once told me, in a writing class, that the point of writing a first draft is to just get it out. I repeat these words, through clenched jaw, to myself as I grind out words onto the screen. It’s like pulling teeth, except I’m pulling my own teeth without anesthesia and also have no sense of plot.
I was in seventh grade for my Katrina year. We evacuated to my mom’s hometown, New Iberia, where my brother and I went to school from September to January, while my dad worked in Alexandria and my mom made trips back to our house in Metairie to try to salvage what she could. When we came back with her in January, our first floor was gutted; our second, which was spared, was where we lived, with cold water and a mini-fridge and microwave. Every day to get to the car for school we’d leave our rooms and traipse down the stairs into an active construction site. I feel like I’m play-acting a normal life and daily routine and outside the whole world is an active construction site, rife with potential danger and stress and nails left scattered on the floor, upright, ready to pierce through my shoes.
Probably I shouldn’t write while I’m having a glass of wine.
The Corona Diaries is a joint project of the Renaissance Publishing Staff. Each week during the series, a different member of our staff will share their day-to-day experiences with working from home, social distancing and the other ups and downs of living through the pandemic.