This is our reality now. A simple act that we used to do before we sat down to eat now takes on life-and-death proportions. So here I am, sequestered in my house, spending more time at my desk than working on edits for a final draft submission. But it’s all right. I’ll do what it takes, as I’m sure you’re doing too. If anything, it’s a great time to be a writer. Potential plots are boiling all around us, and if we can’t live out in the world, we can always live in our heads. We’re well-practiced on that. At least we should be, if we want to call ourselves writers.
We writers are also familiar with solitude. It’s what we aim for. We well know the backside of a closed door. Or the out-of-the-way hideaways of a room or house. We know all about getting up at dawn or staying up late, or shutting out many parts of life that others can’t do without. They’re convinced we’re crazy, and we’re fine with that. We know the difference between being lonely and being alone, know people who shake their heads at us, incomprehensible of the difference. It’s the quiet corners we’re looking for.
We’ve contemplated the impossible. Dark scenarios are our 90% cacao, our espresso, our midnight. We revel in our villains maybe more than our heroes. We’ve not only witnessed the apocalypse, Armageddon, cataclysms, dystopia–we’ve created them. Famine, diaspora, war, strife, destruction, and yes, pandemic–we’ve conjured up them all. We’ve suffered, agonized, succumbed, regrouped, rebelled, attacked, prevailed. None of it’s been easy and oh! the angst. And because of this, we can also imagine making make it through.
Often we’ve longed for the time, a day off, an empty afternoon, even an hour. Sometimes our wishes are granted by circumstances we couldn’t ever have imagined. Maybe this is one of those times. To savor that novel we keep trying to read, to clean off our desk, to make applesauce, ponder a sunrise, hug our children and kiss the pulse point on our lover’s sleeping neck. Maybe this is that time. To ponder, to kiss, to make applesauce. And to embrace the time to write. If not now, when it’s all we have, then when?
Right after you wash your hands. Stay safe, peeps.
Okay, it’s March now, and I’m sorry, this month is just weird. We celebrate being Irish, but how come we don’t have a day to celebrate being Dutch like me? I mean seriously, we have great chocolate and that kid who put his finger in the dike. And long before Colorado got legal they were smoking in the streets of Amsterdam, But I digress.
And isn’t that just typical. Because things getting weird seem so apropos this most weird of months. March is kind of like being a teenager: no longer a child, but not quite an adult either, made even worse because it can’t make up its mind what it wants to be. For instance: even though Spring is less than two weeks away, March is still messing around with Winter. Friday it’s going to be 72 degrees during the day, and 35 by night, 28 two nights later. Such are the vagaries of weather in this part of Jersey. And even though the squirrels and sparrows are chasing each other up and down and around the maples and the daffodils are sprouting, I’m still turning on the furnace at night. Plus there’s my own self, still pudgy with winter poundage, but my feet and arms and legs are yearning to breath free in shorts and sandals, my body low on Vitamin D, which comes from not spending enough time outside. Big surprise there! Who wants to, when the outside’s not exactly been inviting lately—except for this week when it’s sadistically flirted with the upper echelon of the thermometer. And now it’s about to get worse. Now the college where I work, which is on Spring Break next week, is about to go remote for the immediate future, the reason for which I’m worn out from contemplating. But isn’t that just typically spiteful of bipolar March.
I’m just sayin’… Think about it: it’s windy, and it’s associated with a lion. And although lions are majestic and strong, realistically—they will eat you. Julius Caesar was told by a seer on his way to the Senate to “beware the Ides of March.” To which he answered, “Well, the Ides of March have come,” and the seer replied “Aye, they have come, but they are not gone.” But he’d be, before the afternoon was out. And then there’s that whole “March Madness” attributed to college basketball playoffs. Is it coincidence this term of insanity is applied? If it isn’t, then why isn’t the football season called “November Nutso” or baseball, “May Mania?” Because the other months just don’t seem as off-kilter as March, so expectedly unreasonable. But then again, maybe not as interesting.
Come on April!
Some watch for robins, some for crocuses, some even say marshmallow peeps, but for me the real harbinger of spring are potholes, I’m telling you, those pervasive little asphalt assailants never fail to creep up on us, around every bend and over every hillock, disguised like shimmering little macadam birdbaths until you hit one and bam! there goes the hub cap, spinning away like a frisbee.
I live fifteen miles from work, and on my way home last week I counted no less than 25 of the replicating little suckers. And that didn’t include the ever-widening fissures in the middle of the road, and the winter erosion of the softer shoulders, due to the dig and drag of the snow plows. And then there’s those inevitable frost heaves that pitch up and crack the roads, always on whatever side of the road I’m driving. Which, of course, quickly becomes your side when you swerve into my lane to avoid them.
But if all this isn’t bad enough, the cure isn’t much better. How many of you have driven smack into a fresh pancake of cold patch, that municipal quick-fix of asphalt the town boys tamp down with shovels and their own boots, to shut up the one irate taxpayer that doesn’t quit calling until it’s fixed. Ahh…the lovely ping-ping-ping of loose tar as it plies itself to the undercarriage of your car. You’ll be scrubbing that off until nigh on August. Soon those road patch patties will be as ubiquitous as dandelions, and just as hard to get rid of. Because if you’re betting on highway dollars on high to get them gone, you can just forget it. Cold patch is too much of a bargain.
For the meantime, take your comfort where you can get it. After the mild winter we’ve had here in Jersey, it could have been much worse. Besides, it’s only a matter of time until we’re burning our bare feet crossing it. And that, my dears, could only mean a day at the beach.