Day 17

This past week I had two separate virtual cocktail parties with some of my favorite people and the resulting joy was a little over the top, even for me. I’m hermit-y by nature; I work from home; I panic mildly and sweat profusely in the half-hour leading up to my leaving the house for a social event. But I love the people I love with a fierceness that feels like oxygen to me. The world seemed like a different place, or a more familiar place, after that first cocktail party, for a little while.

On Saturday we had visitors. They stood on our front lawn and we stood at the front door and we called out to each other, back and forth, for about a half hour. And again, the world felt familiar again, for a little while. A semblance of balance was restored, for a time.

How are you doing? Are you tracking the changes in your mindset? In your moods? Are you wondering who you’ll be by the time this is over? I’m wondering that all the time. My perceptions come in and out of focus as I shelter in place, revealing their strengths and weaknesses, collapsing or standing tall. Some surprise me. Others do not.

Photo by Yiqun Tang on Unsplash

I spent a good deal of today wanting to run away from the presence of my mind, soul, and body all in one place at the same time, all in one place for a long time now, and for the foreseeable future. It’s so much easier to be yourself when there’s not ever enough time to truly sit with yourself.

Several of us, it seems, have felt this moment coming for a very long time. For the majority of our lives. (I was amazed to discover that I’m not alone in this.) Listen: in a crisis, I’m your girl. I’m calm, confident, strong, and I will know exactly what to do and in what order. I will not collapse until the coast is clear.

A slow-moving crisis, though, that’s something else entirely. I collapse and get back up, collapse and get back up, sometimes several times a day. And at night I don’t really rest; my dreams are all strange now, featuring casts of thousands, confusing plot lines, and an ever-present, slow-moving dread that I’ve forgotten something mildly important and the cards are stacked against me and I’m running out of time and no one seems to know or care. I’m trying to get places I remember from dreams within the dream; I’m driving on endless loops of freeways too ridiculous for even Los Angeles; my son is starting college but neither of us know where he’s supposed to be or when; I’ve lost my cellphone and am frantic, but have to stop into a row of stores and take my time looking over the merchandise.

I’m so grateful to be quarantined with the two closest to my heart, lacking for nothing, with a beautiful yard in a place where the weather’s really not much of an issue, ever. (There’s that constant apology I mentioned previously!) I know three people who’ve contracted COVID-19. I know countless others who’ve seen their incomes all but disappear because of it. Missing people is the absolute least of it. But I miss people so much. I miss them more than I thought I could.

Make no mistake: we’re finding out what we’re made of.

I hope I’m made of more than this. I hope that, as the weeks stretch on, I strike steel somewhere in my core.

Day 8

Despair and deception / Love’s ugly little twins / Came a-knockin’ at my door
Nick Cave, “I Let Love In”

It was a rough week. For most of it I fluctuated between utter exhaustion and having to remind myself to breathe deeply every few minutes so as to stave off encroaching panic attacks. When life as we know it has been hijacked, it’s hard not to descend into that mini-hell inside your own head.

It’s emotionally tiring, and eventually it runs to ground in the physical body. I’ve taken two-hour naps the past few days despite getting what would normally be an adequate amount of sleep. And look: compared to most, I have it easy. I’m lucky and well aware of it. (I feel compelled to keep repeating that; it’s survivor’s guilt, maybe. Poverty-and-strife-survivor’s guilt. There was a time I would have read these words and mocked the person who wrote them.)

Today, I don’t know what changed, but things seemed easier somehow. Horrific still, but a little more manageable. Maybe a week’s time provided some adjustment. Maybe this is temporary. It probably is. I know nothing about this process because it’s a completely new situation. And as my friend Patti wrote the other day, we all are going to need some time to find our balance.

The only thing I know for certain is that we need to be extraordinarily, over-the-top kind with everyone. Including ourselves. We’re going to need time and space to find ourselves again in this strange new world.

There are more resources listed now on the Resources page, and I really would love your input about what else should be there. Have a look, drop me a line, let me know. And remember, if you’d rather read these posts via email, you can sign up here for that.

Be well, my friends. Be patient and kind. Especially with yourselves.

Day 4

Friday seems like a month ago. Between the news, chores, and the unusually chilly and rainy weather, the weekend was an amorphous blob of uncertainty. The dudes got some good Warhammer-model painting in, though.

For the king!

Today was the first official day of keeping LAUSD kids home. I told mine he could sleep in until 8, and then he had to do his schoolwork before everything else. So far only a couple of his teachers have posted assignments.

The school district announced that, alas, the health department has put the kibosh on the resource-center idea that was publicized over the weekend. Instead, the centers will be for meal pickup for a couple of hours a day. I’m worried about the kids who are going to be alone for the duration of the shutdown. If only this were a country rife with billionaires who could come to the aid of humanity during a crisis without missing any of the money it would cost.

Early this afternoon I read about the sheltering in place that goes into effect tonight in six counties in Northern California. Reader, I panic-shopped! Just kidding; the parking lot at my local grocery store was a madhouse. But I got into the car, propelled by some weird, insistent drive to buy food for my family just in case. I’ve been judging panic-shoppers so hard! Why are they doing that? Why can’t they be reasonable? Why can’t they just stay home so I can buy what we nee — oh.

I’m learning a lot about myself.

Social media has been a huge source of comfort, and not just stress. The relationships I’ve built with people over the last 12 years provide humor, information, kindness, and a window into what others are doing and feeling. I used to talk a lot about how I missed what Twitter was like in its early days, when it was primarily smart, kind people having interesting and fun conversations. Since all of <gestures broadly to planet Earth> happened, I’m seeing a return to that environment, at least in my circles.

That said, one of my aims with this blog is to compile a few different kinds of online resources. I’ve got some big deadlines going on right now, so I haven’t had time yet, but if there’s anything you think belongs on the list, email me. And if you’d rather get these posts in your inbox, sign up here.

It’s only Monday.

We’re all going to need each other more than we can imagine.

Day 2


It’s Saturday, and it’s also Day 2. I kept my kid home from school yesterday, because after a week spent campaigning in various ways for LAUSD to close its schools, I had a feeling they’d have a special announcement to make. That, and it was raining, which mean my kid would be sitting in a gym with a few hundred other kids for an hour in a building that until recently had never had soap available in the boys’ locker room bathroom. Funny: every election cycle that it’s been on the ballot, we’ve voted for more funds to be channeled to LAUSD and the returns we’re seeing on the user end are fairly absymal. We’ll be voting differently next time.

In terms of food and cleaning supplies (I’m tired of the topic of TP so am just not going to say anything else about it), we’re fine. We’re lucky, and we have it better than most, relatively speaking. I’m not worried about us. I’m worried about the people who can’t buy the supplies they need, who can’t stay home, who interact with the public all day long. Whose employers have more money than God and yet aren’t offering paid leave but instead are encouraging them to share their banked sick leave with co-workers who need it (that’d be Amazon). I worry about people with new babies. I’m baffled and irritated and worried about the conversations I’m seeing online about older people not taking the situation seriously. (For a generation that prides itself on being anti-establishment and not doing what The Man tells it to do, there’s a whole of “They aren’t actually TELLING us we can’t go anywhere,” being used as an argument against temporarily suspending normal activity. I…don’t get it.)

For the last 2.5 years I’ve worked from home, so my day-to-day isn’t going to look drastically different. I’m not having to learn new ways to communicate with my team, or needing to talk my boss into letting us work remotely. The main things that will be different:

  • Not taking/picking up my kid from school
  • Not going to Mass on Sunday morning, followed by breakfast and conversation, with dear friends
  • Not being alone at any point during the week
  • Not seeing friends IRL

I mean, these are temporary inconveniences. They’re not problems, and I know how lucky I am.

We’re all scared. We’re all doing our best.

The small, kind things people are doing, whether online or in person, have really surprised me. Either I’m a lot more cynical than I thought (!), or people are really making an effort to be kinder with one another than they ever have been before. It does my heart good. I’ll be posting links to some of those things here in future posts.

Be well, my friends. Breathe. May love and peace and wisdom be your companions. Feel free to email me: emmaATalvarezgibson.com