I am not an adaptable person. Not well-suited to keep up with hourly updates on world pandemics or the cancelation of LIFE AS WE KNOW IT.
If temperament assessments had been around when I was an infant, I would undoubtedly have been the baby with the rictus, red-faced scream at every change in air temperature or illumination. If my mother denies this and tells you I was a perfect baby, then that just means the damage occurred later, probably in middle school. I shouldn’t say damage. I wish I could claim to be a genius like Willow Chance who uses Counting by 7s to to center herself, meanwhile transforming the lives of everyone around her for the better. My adaptation strategies are much less mathematical and not at all inspirational. I match my underwear to my socks. I rewrite the same list over and over until I don’t have to use white-out tape. I make new rules for my kids to follow. My children now call me “Plague Mama.”
Unprecedented times in Unpresidented times (YA biography by Martha Brokenbrough). I was already home from work, recovering from ACL reconstructive knee surgery and getting a pretty good hobble on. I took the cancellation of my kids’ school pretty well. Three-plus weeks of spring break?….Well, I’d already started a list of spring cleaning tasks, and having the kids around would only make the list longer. At the park with my kids playing the newly invented game of Eyeball Tag*, I managed not to jump when my phone blared with The Emergency Signal, alerting me to the imminent lockdown order for six Bay Area counties. But when they closed the Library, that was the last crack in my fragile (fake) equanimity. My fractured thinking shattered around one question: who have they got defining “Essential Services,” anyway?
So I have reverted to the one thing that can make sense of these crazy times. (Yes, you can be sure that my underwear matches my shirt or my socks or both – you’ll never not think about that now, but that’s not what I meant.) No, my lifesaver, my link, my sanity and my savior: The Newsletter.
My mom will tell you – and this is true – that when I boxed up all my possessions at age twenty to leave the country for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer (Peace Corps – CANCELED), I packed as though I would never return. I’m pretty sure I designated heirs for my journals (all that middle school ruination, documented). But before I left for the world I didn’t know, my mom and I set up one essential link to keep me tethered to the world I knew: the Newsletter Tree.
Made of trees, literally. Because it was printed on paper. Handwritten by me, on paper, one copy mailed by post to my mom. Who Xeroxed four copies (we all still said Xerox, then), and sent them on to four folks who diligently made their copies, and sent them on, and so on. And people wrote back. Eventually I came home. People I didn’t even know came up to talk to me about things I had written, having been participants in an ancient form of social media. Some of you still have the artifacts of that time, the actual newsletters. While I was gone, email was invented and stamps became a vanity item.
Now that it doesn’t involve handwriting and photocopying and envelope glue and trips to the post office, everyone has a newsletter. I guess they’re called “blogs” these days. So I’m back, the Mom Next Door, blogging and slogging my way through the latest alerts, announcements, closures and kid conflicts. Tomorrow we start the Never Never School (of Witchcraft and Wizardry), which my 13-year old son just calls, “No.” I’ll be keeping track of myself here, along with:
- Updates on our family’s (mental) health and stories from a household spanning ages 10-72
- Links for homeschooling, especially in writing, reading, poetry and music (my specialties)
- Links to great book reviews for children’s literature of all ages
- Latest scientific or practical information on COVID19 (How to Clean/Disinfect Your Home if someone there is sick)
- Funny Times for funny times – belly laughs for boosting immunity
- Good News – the best of humanity as we come together to survive and thrive
- The Bright Side – counting our blessings in unusual times
Send me a link to your Newsletter – Let’s keep in touch!
*Eyeball Tag post coming soon.