Pandemic journal: Week 16

Week 16: June 29-July 5, 2020. Theme of the week: exploration.


Yesterday was Pride, and I didn’t think it would feel much like anything, but actually it was a lovely day. I painted a rainbow flag — which, of course, watercolor being what it is, was way harder than I expected — and then we attended an online family-friendly drag parade with some friends, where they talked about racial justice as well as celebrating Pride. Then a very meditative couple of hours at mending circle. After that I was on with Owl. We’d just received an order of about a half-dozen new picture books and though I hadn’t planned it, they carried a thread of Pride since one was about pronouns and another has a two-dad family and a girl protagonist who wears a bow tie. 

Watercolor painting of a square with black, brown, and rainbow stripes

While I was reading to Owl, I got a text from N with a trailer for a short documentary film where trans people talked about how they feel their gender when they dance. I ended up watching the film and it was so beautiful and resonant; I’m not trans but I have been exploring my gender more in recent years and been thinking about how that comes out (or doesn’t) in the way I dance. I’ve especially been thinking about it during SiP when the dancing is so private. It’s become a way I ask myself: who am I, in this moment, without an audience? Which movements feel like me; which were taught me because of my gender? How am I free within the limitations of this space and this body and this moment? In one of the classes I regularly attend, the instructor says we are a laboratory conducting movement experiments within ourselves, and that’s how I feel about it. I don’t know how N could possibly have intuited all of that from how little we’ve talked about my dancing, but that’s the kind of connection we have. 

There were other great short films in the online film festival that was doing the dance film. I’m just going to mention Niki Ang’s Were You Gay in High School? It’s such a gorgeously Asian American movie; I loved it. 


Ugh. Focus is SO hard. 


It’s July. We all thought this thing might be over in a couple of months, but now it seems very clear it’ll go at least to the end of the year, so now what? How do we go on? Everything is terrible even when it isn’t (I mean we live in a beautiful place and have each other and good food and support and health and even some creative time). In my therapy session we started with grounding breaths and a tiny bit of gentle seated movement and that was enough to show me I haven’t taken a really deep breath in awhile. It’s just tension everywhere. I said, I think my body has been bracing for I don’t know how long. She said, we have to figure out how we can stop bracing, because we can’t keep bracing indefinitely. 

Yesterday our preschool director said we really need to start talking about fall plans. I thought, how we can plan anything when the whole state is backpedaling on its own opening plans! But I’m going to try and organize what she told me, and maybe that’ll make it possible to be more methodical in discussing details and comparing options. I don’t quite know how to do this or whether it will be appreciated, but I do at least feel confident that organizing info is something I can do. And I’ve always felt that much of creativity is just reorganization. 

I took dance class yesterday — haven’t properly danced in ages it feels like — and remembering my therapist recommended leaning into my feelings, I turned off my video and did my own thing, just listening but not following instructions. I even took my dancing to the floor,  which I’ve wanted to do for months. I rolled and rocked and twisted myself around and it felt great, and a much truer experience of my internal movement lab than I’ve had in a while, and literally a different angle on this same old room. I took a video and when I watched it hours later I wondered if it was on double speed because I couldn’t believe how fast I was moving! It was very interesting to watch. I’m accustomed to seeing more limber and strong bodies doing all kinds of things mine can’t, but within the range of this body, I still have a lot of power and fluidity and beauty! 

Asian person with short hair and glasses stands in their kitchen


I was grumpy this morning. My writing got cut short and I had too much preschool stuff on the brain and I was scrambling to get a breakfast together before a planned brief outing to the beach. And then when we got there, Owl didn’t want to actually explore. But we parked ourselves on a log at the edge of the sand, and ate our breakfast burritos which were delicious, and watched the dogs and a paddle boarder. Owl said, “I like that sound of the waves”, and seemed happy. After we ate, Owl and E stayed there, contented, while I went for a 20-min walk on my own, and that was gorgeous. While I walked I thought, well, the preschool stuff is a challenge but at least I’m not the county health officer; the decision-making does not all lie with me; I’m not choosing to send people into danger against their will. I felt an easing as I walked, in both my anxiety and my body. Afterward I made a dance video

The physical tension comes back every time I think of preschool. It’s several steep learning curves at once: being board president, a pandemic, group Zooms. There’s an intense volume of input; pretty much every day brings new decisions, and I tend toward wanting a lot of time to process every last detail, so all of that is very draining. It’s isolating work, made worse by SiP. I’m learning to make calls on where I can make things better versus when I shouldn’t keep slamming myself against brick walls. But at the moment it’s all so unrewarding; there’s very little among the inputs that’s actually positive; the best I can hope for is that something gets completed/resolved or turns out better than I feared, or that someone responds to something in a timely and complete fashion. None of it feels good or satisfying, it only feels more or less bad, and that’s… not fun. Not sustainable either. But maybe there will be a huge payoff at the end. 

Waterfront trail near Albany, CA

I had a slice of cake (double chocolate zucchini, with bourbon buttercream) for breakfast and now I’m going to have eggs as a needed counterpoint, because a hefty dose of sugar and chocolate and caffeine and bourbon was really too much to begin the day! My pulse is up! 

It’s hard not to cast back through history for moments to compare this one to. I’d always imagined, in times of massive disruption, that there would be a clearer rupture between “before” and “after” — whereas now, while there is a sense of global loss, much of life has stayed visually the same, and the official stance (when there is one) is to return, rather than to completely re-envision. Which is of course natural. But I think we’re in a holding pattern of “at some point we will be able to return to the world” when actually that world needs to be rebuilt and rethought and we should be acting according to that as our guiding principle. 


This AM, D sent a NYT article about an open letter from hundreds of international scientists to the WHO, disagreeing with their stance on airborne transmission. As a human being in this moment it was rather terrifying but as an inexperienced leader of an inexperienced board it made me feel surprisingly better: if the WHO is experiencing discord over something for which they’re probably the best-equipped organization in the world, I shouldn’t on any level feel deficient for having some uncertainty and stress over the president stuff! 

That said, it is a lot to hold. I had a lovely convo with W yesterday where she said I’m “holding the whole” for preschool, and that even though they are going through a huge struggle — raising 3 kids under the age of 4 — I’m also doing a huge thing, presidenting. Somehow I hadn’t seen it that way but she’s right, and I keep feeling grateful to her for acknowledging that.

Self-care, self-care, self-care!!! 

I’m remembering N said, of her situation, that it felt like standing against giant waves, some knocking her down and some not, but they just kept coming. As president I feel like I’m being thrown string after string, trying to catch them in my hands. Maybe in normal times I could weave them into something, but right now there are so many strings I’m just trying to toss them on to other people when I can, and keep holding them if I can’t, and keep them from getting too tangled because with the number of strings coming in, there would never be time to unpick a snarl; we’d have to either cut or abandon. And I’m imagining myself standing in the ocean with N — these strings, pieces of a fishing net — and I’m shouting encouragement to her, hoping she can hear it over the waves, and she’s too underwater to help me but I feel better knowing she’s there. 

Aerial view of an abandoned, roofless structure on a rocky shoreline

Last night I put Owl to bed and then found myself playing iPad games just by habit, so I asked myself: what would I rather do right now? What actually sounds fun? And to my dismay nothing did. Absolutely nothing. I’m just worn out. So then I thought, well, go to bed then, because if it can’t be fun it can at least be a relief?! But I still stayed up! 

Sending loving thoughts to artists, filmmakers, musicians, writers, performers of all kinds who’ve seen their gigs disappear, their long-awaited premieres or launches cancelled or moved online to far less fanfare and ritual.