Dispatch from an Urban Cave Dweller.

March 30, 2020
“Cuba” puzzle by Michael Storrings. Image from BarnesandNoble.com.

First, let me say that I hope you and your family and friends are all okay. This health crisis is frightening and very, very real, and I for one have been doing my part to shelter in place and stay out of everyone’s way. I’ve always been good at staying at home—some would say, a little too good at it—and turning into an Urban Cave Dweller has been relatively easy for me.

That’s not to say it’s been fun. Where I live, we had problems getting groceries for a few weeks. It’s still not that easy, nor was it for my parents. We’ve since worked it out, and our apartment could now pass for a mini-mart, but one of the best ways to trigger existential fear is thinking you can’t get food.

There’s a lot of angst that all of us haven’t yet begun to process because we’re still dealing with the day-to-day changes. Information shifts constantly, we’re cleaning our hands and surfaces several times an hour (I hope!), we’re maintaining social distance (I hope!!), and we’re doing whatever we can to stay safe. Sometimes that means making masks, like some of my sewing friends are doing. Other times it means praying for healthcare workers and other essential personnel, that they stay safe and get whatever they need, whether it’s a clean mask or a hot meal or a decent amount of sleep.

I’ve been reading a lot on social media, my main connection to the outside world, about people finding various ways to pass the time. Many are reading, or taking Chris Hemsworth up on his generous offer of free online workouts. (Thank you, Thor, for doing your part.) Others have rediscovered the old-time fun of puzzles. They really are fun for the whole family, after all.

I’ve been drawing a lot, as well as writing, because I feel strangely creative. Or, rather, I feel I have to document events I experience, like having a near anxiety attack during what was supposed to be a calming walk when I saw people not maintaining social distance. And being creative is a way to process my feelings, like my curious fixation on how I’m going to maintain my pixie haircut. (It’s disproportionate to the issues of the world, I know, and that’s exactly why it’s occurring; my hair is usually something I can control, and now I can’t. Well, maybe I can, and prepare to laugh when you see my DIY haircut. Hey, anything to raise your spirits.) I need to document events and process my feelings, and it’s all being done creatively.

I hope if you’re feeling emotional you’re allowing yourself to get creative. To draw, write, sing, get some Play-Doh and make little sculptures with your kids or by yourself. Or get a puzzle. Whatever you do, let yourself be creative during this time. It’s an easy way to feel better and find some ground in this changing time.

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