If there is one good thing to come out of a global crisis like SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease now known as “COVID-19,” it is that we are all in it together. Not that I’d wish the misery of anxiety, fear, isolation, illness, and death on my worst enemy, but that we all share a common enemy and our simultaneous experience in fighting it highlights our similarities, while allowing some of our colorful and creative diversity to shine.
A fellow blogger Balaka Basu, describes what it was like for her during the earliest days of the emerging pandemic in Anxiety, Anger, and Alienation. Basu’s theme for this year’s annual #AtoZChallenge, in her own words, is “‘Life in the Time of Corona.’ I know, this title has now become a cliche. Everyone is using this title which is a spin-off from the title of a book by my favorite author Gabriel Garcia Marquez called ‘Love in the Time of Cholera.’ However, my mind is so lethargic these days that I couldn’t even think of a better unique title. I would be writing my posts based on the emotions, thought, and experiences we are going through now.” I didn’t bother with a theme, this year; I’m doing well to remember the alphabet, at the moment. I urge you, too, to keep a journal; we know that we are living through what will be a historically momentous time. However dull and lethargic your mind feels in the present moment, take time to reflect and jot down your own experiences and emotions.
In her post, #Gratitude March 2020: But still. Like air, I will rise, Shalini Baisiwala shares what she’s thankful for, reminding readers that even under adverse circumstances, there are small blessings worth remembering. If you find yourself struggling to remember, look for the hashtag #gratitude. Unishta has opted to share her perspective on things as a grandmother, and that’s sure to brighten your day. Another hashtag to look for, when you need a lift, is #watwb. I’ll admit that I am a poor and irregular participant, but I can count on Damyanti Biswas‘s little army of positivity bloggers to help me heal a broken smile from time to time. One of them, Dr. Roshan Radhakrishnan, an anesthesiologist and talented writer, never fails to drag me out of the doldrums with his posts. His theme for #AtoZChallenge, this year, is Heroes of Kindness.
Boredom and Despair Are the Enemies
Shinjini brings us a glorious mix of Tarot and art. I’m not at all into astrology or Tarot, myself, but her intuitive readings and writings are thought-provoking and interesting, nonetheless, and I enjoy her art and creativity. I can’t quibble with her Tarot reading for April 2020 – it’s spot-on. I won’t accuse her of stacking the deck to pull this particular combination of cards from it, but they are amazingly appropriate. As Shinjini writes, “There are numerous such green shoots that are emerging from this otherwise gloomy underworld landscape. And all of these ask us to rethink our relationship with work and rest; with nature and policy making; with how we choose to show up for our communities and with our loved ones.”
…or Are They?
Balaka Basu points out that Boredom Precedes Creativity. It’s true, too – as a kid, I learned not to whine about being bored, lest my mom or another adult overhear me and find something for me to do. Boredom can also be the mother of invention. I will work 100 times harder to automate or reinvent a process for doing a task that is mind-numbingly tedious, rather than simply doing the task and getting it over with.
Parul gives us 99 Things to Do During Lockdown, and I challenge you – yes, you, reading this now – to come up with, and share, your own list of 99 things to do during lockdown. Maybe we can all add “Access to functional Internet” to our #gratitude lists. Be as serious, as silly, as generous with the links as you like – there is honestly no excuse right now for being #boredathome (although a search for that hashtag, at least on tiktok, may prove endlessly amusing).
Tackling the TBR Pile, or Building One
Shinjini’s 2020 Book Bingo reading challenge is still on – first quarter down, three to go! Whether you are participating in this or another book challenge, or just looking for some good reading recommendations, book bloggers are sharing their thoughts to help you find new reading material you might not have unearthed on the New York Times Bestsellers list. Peruse Goodreads, as well – discover new books, chat about them with readers, meet authors, even learn about some writing contests.
Shipa Gupte is a recent convert to the horror genre, and shares a recommendation for Route 13: Highway to Hell, a collection of short horror stories that answers the question, “‘What happens when 13 writers of horror are trapped in a bus on a stormy night?’ They try to outdo one another with blood-curdling, spine-chilling tales. Read these riveting, terrifying tales, where the authors themselves become the characters.” While some find horror too intense and too terrifying, at the best of times, some of us cope through the catharsis offered by literature and film, served up with a dash of gallows humor. Corinne Rodrigues gives us more insight, still, with Route 13 – The Highway to Hell – Interview with Anshu Bhojnagarwala.
Apeksha Rao was excited to announce the imminent release of her first book, Along Came a Spyder, but due to COVID-19, she and her publisher have decided to make us all wait a little longer. Still, you can get a little taste of what’s to come, in this excerpt, and put it on your TBR list.
Shilpa Garg gives a few reasons to give audiobooks a try. It’s no secret that I still prefer the feel of a book in my hand – even a Kindle, if it has a nice cover and feels like a real book. Shalini recommends her favorite Indian books by Anita Nair and 17 Books by Black Women Authors.
Vinay Leo R. and Ishithaa are writing original short stories on their blogs, this month – each day, they write using the same emotion as a prompt, and this is their take on the #AtoZChallenge.
Missing Book Club? Being online, all the time, is no excuse to read and drink alone! Join my friend Polli Kenn and her #BookSquad for some virtual BYOB2 (books and beverages – teatotalers are welcome, too!) for some book chat, Tuesdays from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM CDT.
Sunday Drives and Armchair Travels
Armchair travelers (and, no doubt, the Colorado tourism industry) will appreciate Mahathi Ramya’s Colorado-themed #AtoZChallenge posts, beginning with A for Aspen.
Here’s to Your Health!
It has been advised that we all start wearing masks, while out and about running errands. This doesn’t protect us, so much as it protects others from us. Since SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted even before symptoms appear, it’s a useful addition to social distancing. It’s important to wear them correctly, though – as much for your health as for others. And forget about the paper towel masks – figure out how to make one out of cotton or t-shirt fabric, remembering that two layers are better than one. Leave the n95 and surgical masks to the medical professionals who have to deal with sick people every hour of the day.
There’s a dizzying array of DIY mask-making posts, and half of us will come out of isolation knowing – at long last! – how to use our sewing machines. We will have a greater appreciation for the skill and labor of those who make the cheap clothing we take for granted. Or we’ll all look a bit funky, having decided to move on from mask-making to dress-making, the longer this goes on. By then, all our colleagues would have seen us in our “day jammies” anyway. This season’s fashion trend will be called, “Who gives a shit?”
Apparently, plenty of people. I hear they’re still rationing toilet paper around the world, despite plentiful supplies. Hoarders. Spoiling it for the rest of us. If you run short, soap and water and a towel work just fine.
Speaking of DIY…
Some of you are into Kombucha, Kimchi, and other fermented things. I won’t even pretend to share your love of growing your own healthy gut flora at home, and I am still haunted by that Amish Friendship Bread starter I let languish—friendless, neglected, and ultimately forgotten—on my kitchen counter decades ago. It’s probably crawling towards me from hundreds of miles away, inch by labored inch, driven on by a primordial urge for revenge. But if you are “anal about cleanliness” (and really, who isn’t, these days?) you may want to Grow Your Own SCOBY at Home to Brew Kombucha (no, I don’t – I really, really don’t, but now you can). Reminds me a little bit of our 7th grade science experiment, wherein we made plain gelatin, exposed it for a few minutes to the air inside the boys’ locker room and the air inside the girls’ locker room, to see which grew the most robust and colorful molds. Spoiler alert: both were nasty, but it’s a game you #boredathome homeschoolers can try. Hold a competition between the kids to see who keeps their rooms and bathrooms cleanest.
I hope that this post keeps you entertained for hours – do follow the links while I’m gone. Time for me to put on the day jammies and forage for foodstuffs at Costco. Who am I kidding? I have plenty of food and toilet paper, but we are running dangerously low on coffee. Anyone who knows me at all knows that I will brave the contagion and a herd of angsty shoppers in the name of #coffee!