Sunday, December 20, 2020

I didn't get started on the pierogi yesterday because I ended up immersing myself in cookie baking instead: thumbprint cookies filled with lingonberries and sour cherries and gingerbread cookies shaped with our various silly cutters. This morning I'll turn my attention to pierogi, and I probably ought to cram some housework into my day as well. Even with such a reduced Christmas celebration--no traveling, no gatherings--the pressure of the season is building.

Plus, we keep having household scares. On Friday, our smoke/CO detectors kept going off for no apparent reason and, because they're hardwired, we knew it couldn't be a battery issue. So for a while we were in a "do we have a carbon monoxide problem?" panic, until Tom suddenly remembered he'd been framing his new workshop space near the cellar detector and had probably gotten sawdust into it, which might have been  triggering the sensor. Sure enough, vacuuming out the dust solved the problem. But ugh.

Though I haven't written much lately about the general stresses of being an American, these household issues have felt like some sort of linked localized eruptions: a rash triggered by a larger disease. That is a completely illogical analogy. Of course they have nothing to do with each other, any more than my friend's cancer diagnosis has anything to do with Covid or a treasonous president. But maybe you have felt something similar in your life . . . a fragility; a skin too easily punctured.

I keep writing here about luck and gratitude: for Tom, for my boys, for my family and friends, for my circle of poets, for my books, for my house, for the sturdiness of my own aging body. That gratitude is real, yet asserting it is also a way of whistling in the dark.

I am not, on the whole, a brave person. And these are dreadful times. And I wake in the night thinking of all of the suffering people. And I excoriate my helplessness. 


nancy said...

I am currently reading David Copperfield, which has made me very aware that times are always dreadful, and that we are always whistling in the dark. But when I read your post, I was reminded of what a very wise man just emphasized to me this week: we are only fearful when we feel that we are alone. So I pictured you in your Alcott House, surrounded by Shelly and Byron and Dickens and Longfellow and Woolf and Proust and Dickinson, all peering over your shoulder, chatting about the poem you are attempting to write. And maybe hanging out in your living room drinking sherry at 4:00 in the morning as you toss and turn. What would they say about the times we live in, I wonder?

Dawn Potter said...

A number of my favorite 20th-c novels are set during the London blitz, and these days I often think of that period: life going on and on in the present tense, and then suddenly a bomb obliterates a building. Parents and children, love and loneliness, tea and whiskey, petty disputes and comfortable habits, all amid the craters of war. Our situation is not anywhere close to being an exact parallel, but still we exist as best we can within our present tense, even as the bombs fall around us.

David X. Novak said...

Every minor crisis seems more perilous than it normally would.

Dawn Potter said...

So true.