in lieu of actually writing

I haven’t been in these parts for a good long time, and I’ve got nothing. I would say that I’d sort of hit a wall, but I think I hit it a while back and am on the other side in some strange, new and very weird world. I listened to a review of a new novel written by a Very Young Author who got her start or her fame via Yale and then some really good writing of listicles. Everyone loves a listicle. What is a listicle? Carl asked me while we were driving to Huntington Gardens last Friday afternoon. He’s been doing a lot of the driving — ok, all of the driving — what with My Eye Situation, and while I’ve always hated driving with all of my heart, I have to say that I feel rather feeble, like an old lady or something when I do go out which is almost never, so it feels like I’m being taken out for a drive like get her out of that damn house and to a garden for god’s sake and anyway, to make myself feel somewhat human or like my old pre-Covid self, I listen to the New York Times Book Review podcast if there’s someone interesting on, and this Very Young Author seemed really interesting and I do like a listicle even as I can hardly believe there are now novels about listicles and people can make their mark with listicles. I have no intention of making my mark at this point. I don’t even go out of my house.

Here’s a listicle:


  1. Lonely. I’m by myself pretty much all day, if you don’t count the dear adolescent faces I teach English literature and Creative Writing to on my Zoom. Thank jesus for them, though, and the job, as I absolutely love it. Sophie and the Two Marias are in and out, but they’re mostly out because Sophie is a Girl Who Lives to Be Outside. The loneliness is existential, and I imagine nearly everyone feels it, even if you like being alone.

  2. I don’t like going out and walking amongst the masked. I just don’t. It’s too weird, and I still hate it. I have no desire to go to a restaurant and be served by a guy in a face-shield. Remember that Biblical movie in the seventies — something about Jesus and the lepers? That movie is imprinted in my mind. Dusty brown caves and bare feet, women with long brown hair and groans. We’re all lepers now. I feel insane when I go out and see people not wearing masks. So, I stay home. I’m tired of looking at people on social media announcing their vaccination appointments, too. Performative pandemickers, I guess. Good for them. God bless. My first is coming up, but I’m not excited or proud or feeling blessed. The fact that we have to line up outside of baseball stadiums to get jabbed is just another #weirdworld thing that I hate. Like masks. But I’m grateful to be alive, one year in. Beyond grateful and ready to do whatever I can to ensure that others stay alive.

  3. I do mindless tasks off and on all day. Like, just now I printed out the Action for Happiness Calendar: Mindfulness for March and taped it to my stainless steel refrigerator, working with painstaking attention to placing the tape over the marks left by last month’s. Set an intention to live with awareness and kindness it says for March 1. O.K. Epilepsy and caregiving are not altered by the pandemic, and at this point, twenty-six years in, doling out the meds, making the meals, changing the diapers and soothing the seizures is sort of mindless. I do love my Sophie-girl, though. She’s everything.

  4. I try to meditate every day in the morning, using either my own brain juices and painful body awareness or my meditation app on my iPhone. When I use the app, I’m especially amenable to the guided meditations that allow me to lie down in a comfortable position.

  5. Simmering anger. This article helped me, though. It articulated The Great Chaos within me, the legacy of the Italian grandmother, the intimations of the tiny little mother mind™, the current clusterfuck of my ex and his lawsuit. Like I said: simmer. Boil, boil, toil and trouble.

  6. Cooking a lot, even though I sometimes wish that someone would cook for me. No one actually does, except for my friend Amanda who made me delicious lentil soup the week of The Eye Situation. My neighbor Amanda made me deviled eggs that week, too, with pickled shallots on top. Let’s hear it for The Amandas. This weekend I went a little crazy and made sourdough bread from a new starter, sourdough pancakes with the “discard,” homemade chicken broth from the carcass of a chicken I’d roasted earlier in the week, chicken noodle soup with the broth, and the “date, feta, and red cabbage salad” I’ll mention next. Also, gin-soaked golden raisins. Nine a night. Read about it on the world wide webs. Tonight I made sole with roasted tomatoes and farro. I want to live in a community where everyone cooks for everyone else. Where can we go?

  7. I print out recipes obsessively, even though I have a laptop and shouldn’t waste the paper, the ink, the trees. I hate computers in kitchens. Just now, I printed out Joy the Baker’s “The Single Lady Pancake,” even though I’m not single. I know that The Bird Photographer, who is not much of a foodie or even an eater, will not care if I make a single pancake. I also printed “Pappa al Pomodoro (Tuscan Tomato and Bread Stew), “Sesame Ginger Skillet Chicken,” “One-Skillet Greek Lemon Chicken and Potatoes,” and “date, feta and red cabbage salad.” Have I gained weight? Who knows? I threw out the scale the other day. Useless piece of crap.

  8. Impulsive Internet ordering, generally late at night. I don’t have cable television, but I’m prone to impulsively ordering things I see online which I know is exactly what THEY want. In my defense, these things are generally nice or even artistic, although there was that awful masked Santa Christmas ornament that came Pony Express from Antarctica and two $15 dresses of dubious origin, their material slick and shiny, silk-screened instead of delicate embroidery as described. I got a beautiful drawing today of a stand of trees that reminded me of Yosemite. I’ve also ordered a punch needle art kit from England and a whole box of Drake bakery products. The last thing — well — Devil Dogs, Yodels, Funny Bones. Nostalgia. If you know, you know. I honestly haven’t eaten them since I lived in New Jersey as a child, aged five to ten. I’m not on Ambien. Come over, if you want to try one as I’ve got — literally — boxes.

  9. Art. I’ve been dabbling in watercolor and black gesso and spirals and collage. The collage! How I love it. I like most of all not showing it to anyone. Sometimes I write vile and hateful things about people I know and cover up the writing with black gesso or collage over it. I pick a mindfulness meditation card from a deck I bought online that is somehow related to the great Thich Nhat Hanh, write it down in this big mix media journal and then just go with it. No hate there. And it’s something beautiful, to tell you the truth. You’ll never see any of that, though, which is part of the happiness that it brings me.

  10. Making bagged lunches for the homeless. Carl and I started making bag lunches for the homeless. We do it on Sunday mornings and drop it off at some Neighborhood Saint’s house where they’re distributed throughout our community. We have so many homeless everywhere. What the fuck is going on? Why are people so rich and keep getting richer?