Monday, January 25, 2021

"You're the cause of my euphoria": A BTS Love Letter

This is the part in the romantic comedy when I realize I’ve been wrong about them the whole time. 

They were right there, for so long, and I just didn’t see it. I was foolish and I was prideful and I locked my heart away in the name of artistic integrity and I was wrong about all of it. 

And now I’m just a girl, standing in front of a KPop group, offering them my whole heart. 

There are several people in my life who love fiercely and bravely, without shame or pretense. I want to try and love like that. So this is my love letter to BTS. 

It’s not that I didn’t notice BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan, or Bulletproof Boy Scouts) when they were pointed out to me. Of course each member is gorgeous and talented, and the few songs I heard were catchy. But it was K-Pop. I was raised on Queen and Mozart and the Beatles. My iTunes is full of Tom Waits and Spoon and Fiona Apple. “Real” music. I thought of K-Pop as pastel bubble gum corporate nonsense, with a fandom of screaming teenage girls, in a world I had no connection to. 

And now this is the part of the story where I admit that I was a fool.

(First of all, before I get any further into it, anything I have to say, this Esquire article says better, so feel free to just read that.)

KPop is an intense industry in Korea—there are trainee programs that churn out pop groups every few years and promote them while training the next ones. The idols and groups that populate the stages of Korea are PRODUCTS. And part of the reason I love BTS so much is because while they occupy that space of being products, they also seem to subvert and defy the industry in many ways, and are so deeply and genuinely THEMSELVES. 

Wait. 

Lemme introduce you to the boys. 


From left to right: 

Suga (Min Yoongi, Yoongi, solo work under Agust-D). Rap line. Probably one of the best rappers of our generation? Dry humor exterior, deeply caring interior. (Check out the music video for his solo track Daechwita, with cameos by fellow BTS members Jin and Jungkook.)

J-Hope (Jung Hoseok, Hoseok, Hobi). Dancer, rap line. Human sunshine. Everyone, including me, saw him during Carpool Karaoke and asked “Who’s the guy in the middle?” 

Jin (Kim Seokjin, Seokjinnie, “World Wide Handsome”). Vocals, visual. Oldest of the group. Caring older brother, king of dad jokes. 

Jungkook (Jeon Jungkook, Kookie, JK, “Golden Maknae”). Vocals, dancer, visual. The youngest of the group, or the “maknae.” Good at almost everything he tries. 

RM (Kim Namjoon, Namjoon, Rap Monster, “God of Destruction”). Rap line, incredible lyricist. Leader of the group. (Also spokesperson and translator, since he’s the most fluent in English.) 

Jimin (Park Jimin, Jiminie). Dancer, vocals, visual. Astonishingly talented dancer, huge flirt. Besties with V. 

V (Kim Taehyung, Taehyung, Tae). Vocals, dancer, visual. Breathy and ethereal vocals, incredible fashion sense. Besties with Jimin.

The seven boys have practically grown up together—they each joined the trainee program as teenagers, and the youngest was only 14 when he started. When they debuted in 2013, their ages ranged from 16 to 21. And after all those years together, their friendship is so deeply evident in all of the HOURS of content available to watch (concert footage, Run BTS, Bon Voyage, In the Soop, V-Lives, fancams, BTS bombs, and memes and clips from all of the above). They care so much about each other and it’s my favorite thing. 

And the music. Oh dear readers, the music. I came to BTS in a weird sort of backwards way—I became a fan just from watching other content, and listened to hardly any of their music for weeks. And then I listened to “Love Yourself: Tear” front to back and it was over.

I could spend a bunch of time listing all of their record-shattering stats on Billboard and album sales. I could go into detail about KPop trainee programs and their vigorous schedules and how hard these boys have worked to get where they are. I could tell you how quickly they sell out stadiums. I could tell you about all the social media records they've shattered, and then shattered again. But you can Google all that. 

Instead I’ll just extol the hard-hitting synchronization of the dance rehearsal for No More Dream. (This video is from the year they debuted, so Jungkook is only 15 here.) Or the enthusiasm and passion in the dance rehearsal for On. The stunning vocals and desperation of the track House of Cards. The lyrical sensuality of the choreo in Blood, Sweat, and Tears. The classical beauty of the music video for Black Swan. The dark sexiness of Jimin performing Filter live. The playfulness of the dance rehearsal for Bapsae. And good night, the enormous, over-the-top intensity of Dionysus at the 2019 MMA awards. (The entire performance is like 40 minutes long—start at 29:14 to see Dionysus; FLASH/STROBE WARNING from 34:16 - 36:05.) 

The boys in BTS are also big ole goofballs, which is effing delightful. But even more beautiful to me is the genuine love the members BTS have for each other and for their fans. It’s evident in their TinyTan videos like this one for Dream On. In the way they always thank ARMY (what BTS fans call themselves) in every album and every concert and every interview. And words fall short for the hope and beauty I feel watching the music video for Life Goes On. It’s such a poignant look at this pandemic-driven moment in history. Watching it, I felt so deeply that we belong to each other, we human beings, and that the future holds beauty for us all. (Also, the music video was directed by BTS’ own golden maknae, Jungkook, because he’s wondrous.)  

I think part of the reason I love BTS is because watching them reminds me of what it’s like to be with a bunch of theatre kids. It makes me feel the same way I did hanging out with cast-mates in Yellowstone during Playmill summers, or talking in the parking lot after a show at a theatre somewhere, or sitting at a cast party and laughing about everything that went wrong during the run of a show, or messing around in the greenroom before curtain. Watching them perform feels familiar too—sharing the stage with people you care about, doing what you love together, hyping each other up and celebrating each other's success, and having moments to shine yourself. 

I also love that they’re challenging some toxic masculinity in the rest of the world just by being themselves. In Korea, men and boys are much more physically affectionate with one another—arms around shoulders, hugs, shoulder rubs, sitting on each other’s laps, etc. There’s even a name for this kind of affection…“skinship.” A lot of this kind of behavior is coded as “homosexual” or “girly” or “weak” and therefore unacceptable for most straight men in America. (One time in college, two guys I knew accidentally brushed hands while passing food to one another and one of them recoiled and said emphatically “No contacting man-flesh!”) By comparison, members of BTS share beds when they travel and cuddle up on couches and slap butts regularly. A lot of Americans/non-Koreans see this and make assumptions about sexual orientation, but these KPop boys are literally just being themselves. 

And while we’re on the subject of breaking gender norms, GIVE ME BOYS IN MAKEUP ALWAYS. Have you seen these boys rocking lipstick and eye shadow?! Life-changing. For concerts and photo-shoots and occasionally everyday life, the boys don lace and chokers and bracelets and earrings and eyeliner and I am here for all of it. 

The K-Pop industry isn’t without its issues. Despite all of the makeup and same-sex touching, Korea is still incredibly homophobic. There’s an obsession with appearance that leans pretty deeply into disordered eating. The trainee programs for idols is grueling and sometimes abusive. The music industry in Korea can be exploitative (see "fan service"). There are legitimate reasons to criticize Kpop as an industry. But sometimes our reasons for dismissing KPop (and BTS) have more to do with internalized bullshit that doesn't hold up to any real scrutiny. That Esquire article I linked above really said it best: 


I originally intended to convert you all with this blog. But you're under no obligation to love or even be interested in BTS. People come to the boys if and when they’re ready. It took me a while to come to them. There’s a whole wealth of knowledge, an entire vocabulary, a slew of inside jokes that you learn as you become an ARMY (what BTS fans call themselves). You may make a few incorrect assumptions because of your American perspective at first, like I did. (This article is a helpful guide in giving context to Korean media.) If you do come to the boys on your own, be forewarned that they will probably come for you, one after another. You’ll cycle through a specific phase of love for each of them. 

One of my other original intentions in writing this blog was to defend myself and my love for the boys, to get ahead of the shaming or teasing I anticipate (perhaps falsely). But I don’t want to do that either. I just want to love them. Fiercely and bravely. 

Yes, BTS can be a distraction from the woes of the current timeline (pandemic, lack of COVID-safe theatre work, financial worries, recent breakup). But BTS is more than that. They offer hope and light and music and love in a world that’s uncertain, pandemic or not. 

I love BTS because of their talent, their humor, their individual quirks, their attractiveness, their friendship. We stan a group that stans their fans and each other. When we see BTS performing on stage, or doing an episode of Run BTS, or traveling for Bon Voyage, we’re watching people spend their time with people they love and belong to, people who work hard at their jobs, and people who humbly show gratitude for the people who have given them what they have. 

I love BTS because they have what so many of us long for—to love our jobs and be good at them, a chosen family who can laugh and work together, affection and encouragement. 

And I truly believe those things make the world a better place. 



Monday, January 11, 2021

Short Imagined Monologue: Open Mic Night

POV: You’re at an open mic night, where one average guy from your office is doing a stand up routine for maybe the fourth time in his life. 

(I’m aware that in this imagined mid-pandemic situation, no one should be at an open mic night or a bar, so please feel free to picture everyone as masked and distanced and also feel free to ignore the inconsistencies of jokes about a pandemic alongside jokes about working alongside each other in an office.)  


Hey guys, I’m ___. Shout out to my co-workers for supporting me here tonight. I put flyers up all over the office, and now that co-workers actually showed up, I’m wishing I’d prepared some jokes, ha ha. My boss is here. Hi, Sharon. I promise it wasn’t me who ate your leftovers in the breakroom, ha ha ha. Debbie, I’ll reply to your email in the morning, ha ha. 

The problem with having your co-workers come to see you at an open mic night is that you’ll have to see them again every day afterwards. And if you bomb, they’ll know. At least they’re a little drunk, so maybe it’ll be fine…Looking at you, Rob! Easy there, big fella.  

Let’s see…uh…2020, amiright? Thank god we made it through that year. And thank god it’s now 2021, and everything is totally different! Ha ha. 

That was supposed to be ironic. 

Anyways. Let’s see…um…

It has been a rough year. We’ve got the COVID thing going on. I swear if COVID was a font, it would be comic sans. No one really likes it, it’s really annoying, and we’ve all been told to avoid it, but it keeps showing up everywhere, amiright? And it seems to show up most often with old people, too. Both COVID and comic sans have that in common, ha ha ha. 

No offense, Julie—your company emails are great, and I don’t mind your font choices, ha ha. But may I suggest a simple Helvetica now and then? Maybe a solid Garamond? Mix a sans serif with a script font for that classy look, ha ha ha ha. 

A little typeface humor for you there. 

Okay, what else, what else…

So…okay…um…so the vaccine! They first gave the vaccine to an English guy named William Shakespeare. A couple hundred years too late, amiright?! * ba-dum-chhhhhh * But seriously, the guy’s name is William Shakespeare. He must get shit all the time. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” “To be or not to be.” “I liked your early stuff better!” What a pain. 

Speaking of pain, I bumped into my coffee table the other day and got a big bruise, but the worst part about the whole thing is that after I bumped into it, I apologized to the coffee table. I’ve been stuck in my house so long that I’ve started to think of furniture as my roommates. That coffee table has just as much of a right to the living room as I do, ha ha. The coffee table doesn’t pay a dime of rent, but it’s usually pretty easy to get along with, ha ha ha ha.  

Okay, um…let me see…one minute left…one minute left…

It’s too bad I can’t be this good at keeping track of time at the office, amiright, guys? I am lucky I still have a job during these unprecedented times. At least I hope I still do, right, Sharon? Ha ha. I don’t think you can fire me for my stand up. I’ll have to talk to Tina in HR, ha ha ha. 

Um…lemme think…I recently got my stimulus check. It was nice to have a little extra money. I was able to use half of it to pay about a week’s worth of rent, and then I used the rest to pay off 0.3% of my student loans. I think it made a big difference. I really felt a financial burden lift. Maybe someday I’ll be able to afford healthcare. Thanks, Congress! Ha ha ha. 

Oh, man, Congress. So this attack on the Capitol, right? Pretty intense. I mean, these guys looked ridiculous back when they were carrying tiki torches, but this was next level. Most of the photos from that day look like bad publicity shots for a Village People album. Some of those guys did look pretty angry, though. They were maybe one pitchfork away from getting their asses kicked by a bunch of enchanted furniture. 

I tell ya. It’d all be so much funnier if it wasn’t real. 

Okay, that’s it for me. I’m ___, have a great night everyone! 


Monday, December 28, 2020

Looking forward

(photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dpetrus/)

I have a tendency to look backwards in time. To be fair, this is partly because the past has already been written. I can go back and look at old journal entries and photos and news stories and remember what happened. The future contains all these question marks. And if 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that there are more question marks than I ever thought. 

I do think there’s value in looking backwards now and then. You can remind yourself of things you learned, or see patterns you didn’t notice at the time. And I’m a sucker for nostalgia in general. 

But in this strange time of suspended animation, I find that looking into the past is a little bit painful sometimes. Much of my nostalgia is tinged with faint heartbreak nowadays. I don’t think it will always be that way, but when I find myself looking backwards, it’s with an ache of longing for things that are impossible right now. 

So I’ve decided to look forward to those “impossible” things instead. 

I may not be able to do many of these things for months, or even a year. But here’s what I’m looking forward to in the future. 

I’m looking forward to sitting in an IHOP with my laptop open, writing a blog or a poem or a script. I’ll order a second hot chocolate, and now and then I’ll notice the song that’s playing and smile. I’ll try to avoid getting syrup on my keyboard and will somehow fail, and it will be completely worth it. 

I’m looking forward to having friends over, and laying my head on someone’s shoulder and laying my legs over someone else’s lap. We’ll see each other’s entire faces, and we’ll bump into each other as we go to get another drink or snack from the kitchen. We’ll squeeze a hand or shoulder affectionately as we pass by one another, or mid-conversation. 

I’m looking forward to sitting in an airport, after hurriedly gathering my coat and shoes and laptop from the TSA bins that get re-stacked in that tense chaos. I’ll get a chocolate croissant and some fruit from Starbucks and then go sit by my gate with a book. On the plane, I’ll drink a ginger ale and do part of a crossword puzzle and then fall asleep, and be a little groggy and hungry when I land wherever I’m going. 

I’m looking forward to going to a movie theatre and paying way too much money for a giant bucket of popcorn and a gallon of soda. I’ll consume at least half of it during the 28 minutes of trailers before the movie starts. After the credits, I’ll walk into the parking lot and look up at the sky and the world will seem a little bright after the darkness of the theatre. 

I’m looking forward to standing in line for the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, avoiding the diamonds in the floor and hoping one of us gets to sit in the driver’s seat. I’m looking forward to the brackish smell of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and churros and lemonade, and my feet being absurdly sore from walking around the parks all day. 

I’m looking forward to sleeping on friends’ couches. To driving a few hours to someone’s house, then talking late into the night, and then being woken up by friends’ children in the morning, wanting to play. 

I’m looking forward to visiting someplace I’ve never been to before. I’ll take the afternoon or evening and wander on my own, with no plan—just exploring whatever I come across. Maybe I’ll walk along a beach in the moonlight, or stumble upon a gallery or historical site, or people-watch at a park. 

I’m looking forward to going to concerts. To being packed into a huge stadium with a stressful amount of people and blissfully yelling lyrics along with whoever’s onstage, or packed into some small venue somewhere where the music is loud enough to make the cartilage in your nose vibrate. 

I’m looking forward to visiting family. To holding the people dear to me, and eating food together, and talking for an hour or two afterwards. I’ll try to be extra helpful with the chores, to make up for all my teenage years spent at rehearsal instead of sweeping the kitchen.   

I don’t think life will ever completely go back to “the way it was.” I kind of hope it doesn’t. I don’t see how it could. But I think all of these experiences that I’ve been thinking about—travel, time with loved ones, communal art—will all be a little sweeter after this time. 

I look forward to finding out. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Hold, please


You may have noticed some radio silence on the blog lately--Beckah and I haven't been doing our Sister Blog Challenge. But that's because life got kind of insane...it's been very little for months and months and now it's suddenly filled with full-time jobs and directing gigs and filmed theatre and small theatre marketing and online classes and Inktober and NaNoWriMo planning and yoga and tax season. 

So we'll be back. It'll just be a minute. 

Monday, September 7, 2020

On Shakespeare


I did it. 

Two years ago, I made a goal that by my 35th birthday, I will have read, watched, or participated in all 37 of Shakespeare's plays.

I turn 35 tomorrow, and I finished the 37th play today.

I have some thoughts on Shakespeare in general to share, but first, a quick tour through the plays at a glance! (A handful of these have some disputed authorship, or shared authorship, but this list is the one that came up most often when I was researching the Shakespeare canon.)

Antony and Cleopatra
Read with some friends at the "Sigh Away Sundays" club in 2018
SUMMARY: Classic story of obsessive love, with a classic death by asp bite for our heroine.

Coriolanus
Watched the 2011 film
SUMMARY: OMG so much war, with one badass mama tries to convince her son to stop doing so much war.

Hamlet
Watched lots of films and productions, read lots of times
SUMMARY: Hamlet can't decide whether or not to kill his uncle (or himself?).

Julius Caesar
Read during undergrad at BYU-Idaho
SUMMARY: Ancient Greek story of ambition and betrayal.

King Lear
Read during undergrad at BYU-Idaho
SUMMARY: Which of the three daughters loves their father, the king? Who knows, he'll go mad.

Macbeth
Watched a handful of productions, played a Witch in a production at BYU-Idaho in 2009
SUMMARY: Witches and ambition and battles and Scotland!

Othello
Read in high school, played Bianca in a production in Salt Lake City in 2018
SUMMARY: Racism and rumors cause PROBLEMS.

Romeo and Juliet
Read lots and lots, seen a few productions
SUMMARY: Young teenagers from feuding families fall "in love" and everything goes terribly.

Timon of Athens
Watched the 2017 Stratford Festival production online
SUMMARY: Money can't buy you friendship.

Titus Andronicus
Watched the 2017 Royal Shakespeare Company production online
SUMMARY: Romans (and Goths) are bloody and cut off hands and heads in revenge.

All's Well That Ends Well
Watched the 2013 Shakespeare By The Sea production
SUMMARY: The ole bedroom bait-and-switch will cure marital displeasure.

As You Like It
Watched the 2017 Shakespeare's Globe production online
SUMMARY: Rosalind dresses as a boy and falls in love with Orlando the poet in the forest.

Comedy of Errors
Played a servant in a production at BYU-Idaho in 2004
SUMMARY: Twins cause hilarity and chaos.

Cymbeline
Watched the 2016 Royal Shakespeare Company production online
SUMMARY: War, mistaken identities, wagers on virtue.

Love's Labour's Lost
Watched the 2014 Royal Shakespeare Company production online
SUMMARY: Studying is more important than women. Right? RIGHT?!

Measure for Measure
Read during undergrad at BYU-Idaho
SUMMARY: Corruption vs purity, morality and mercy in Venice! Starring Angelo the creepy lecherous priest!

Merry Wives of Windsor
Watched the RSC 2018 production online
SUMMARY: Falstaff tries to seduce two different women, but together they outsmart him multiple times.

Merchant of Venice
Read during undergrad at BYU-Idaho
SUMMARY: Antonio owes Shylock a pound of flesh.

Midsummer Night's Dream
Played Mustardseed in a production at South Medford High School, watched
SUMMARY: Fairies and lovers and actors in the woods!

Much Ado about Nothing
Watched the film in high school
SUMMARY: Benedick and Beatrice are secretly IN LOVE, and rumors both cause problems and solve them.

Winter's Tale
Watched the Shakespeare By The Sea 2018 production
SUMMARY: A king freaks out over the virtue of his wife, and Hermione is a living statue.

Two Gentlemen of Verona
Watched the 2014 Royal Shakespeare Company production online
SUMMARY: Male friendship rivalry in romantic Italy.

Twelfth Night
Watched the 1996 film
SUMMARY: Twins cause romance and hilarity.

Troilus and Cressida
Watched the 2018 Royal Shakespeare Company production online (post-apocalyptic!)
SUMMARY: Greeks and Trojans (Helen and Achilles and all them) freak out about war and lechery.

The Tempest
Watched a production in high school, played Caliban and designed sound for a children's production at BYU-Idaho, played Gonzalo in a production at BYU-Idaho
SUMMARY: Prospero is magical and rules an island. His former betrayers show up and things happen.

Taming of the Shrew
Watched multiple productions and films
SUMMARY: Petruchio "tames" the headstrong Kate and marries her so that her younger sister can get married.

Pericles
Watched the 1984 BBC film
SUMMARY: Pericles guesses a riddle about incest and then goes on a lot of adventures that involve shipwrecks.

Henry IV, Part I
Watched the 2014 Royal Shakespeare Company production online
SUMMARY: Hal is Prince of Wales but mostly wants to hang with Falstaff.

Henry IV, Part II
Watched the 2014 Royal Shakespeare Company production online
SUMMARY: More of Hal hanging with Falstaff, and more of Falstaff and his gang in general.

Henry V
Watched the 2014 Royal Shakespeare Company production online
SUMMARY: Hal is now officially royal and beats France in a battle on St Crispin's Day, even though the odds are against him.

Henry VI, Part I
Watched the 2013 Globe Theatre production, performed on the battlefield of Barnet in the rain
SUMMARY: Joan of Arc fights for France, and people wear red and white roses to show their varying allegiances.

Henry VI, Part II
Watched the 2013 Globe Theatre production, performed on the battlefield of Barnet
SUMMARY: Women and commoners all seek to take over.

Henry VI, Part III
Watched the 2013 Globe Theatre production, performed on the battlefield of Barnet
SUMMARY: Bloody revenge and we meet Richard III.

Henry VIII
Watched the 1979 BBC film adaptation.
SUMMARY: Everything was the corrupt Catholic Church's fault and Queen Elizabeth and her dad are actually awesome.

King John
Watched the 2015 Stratford Festival production online
SUMMARY: France vs. England, starring a witty bastard

Richard II
Watched the 2013 Royal Shakespeare Company production online (starring David Tennant as Richard)
SUMMARY: Spending money on Irish wars leads to the rebellion of nobles, especially when they think the king is weak.

Richard III
Watched the 1995 film
SUMMARY: Tyrant with back problems.

BONUS: Two Noble Kinsmen
Watched a production by Grassroots Shakespeare Company in Salt Lake City, 2018
SUMMARY: Brothers in jail fall in love with the same woman.

And here’s what I’ve learned:


Shakespeare is AMAZING.

I know that his talent as a writer gets talked about so much that it’s a cliché, but really, truly, his writing is incredible. The language, the wit, the character development. Dude could freaking WRITE. Gimme those dirty puns and those inspiring speeches and that quick banter and those rambling soliloquies. I am here for all of it. Shakespeare activates this part of my heart and soul and brain that nothing else can, and I don’t know how to describe it except to say that it’s bliss and satisfaction and delight.

I am a big fan of the Royal Shakespeare Company

I watched a good portion of these plays on DigitalTheatre.com, where the Royal Shakespeare Company has made recordings available for a small fee. And it was WORTH it. I watched a few other productions online, from Shakespeare By The Sea and The Stratford Festival and The Globe and the BBC, but by far, my favorite productions were always the RSC’s. The costumes and lights and sets and ACTING and concepts and just all of it. (The exception was the ending of the RSC’s Love’s Labors Lost, which I thought was not well justified or developed.)

There are some common themes in Shakespeare’s plays

I think because I was consuming Shakespeare so frequently, especially during the last year or so, I began to see come common themes. The most notable of which is this: When men freak out about the “chastity” of the women they love because they listen only to other men about it, all hell breaks loose. In fact it’s a major plot point in at least 7 of Shakespeare’s plays: Othello, Cymbeline, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Much Ado About Nothing*, The Winter’s Tale, Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Troilus and Cressida.

I know that misunderstandings about sex are good for high-stakes theatre, both comedic and dramatic, and it’s something that would resonate with Elizabethan audiences. But I also like to think that Shakespeare was trying to tell us something.

Other notable themes include gender-f*ckery/queerness, the dangers of ambition, duality/opposites, appearances vs. reality, and revenge.

The histories are actually pretty awesome

I’ve always struggled getting into the histories. I haven’t even really tried that hard because I was like “royalty is boring” but it turns out I was mostly wrong. I am especially a huge fan of the Henry V story (Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part 2; and Henry V). The RSC produced all three plays with the same cast and concept, and I fell in love with our boy Harry and Falstaff is delightful, and that St Crispin’s Day speech really did make me cry.

I could spend the rest of my life studying, reading, watching, performing, and talking about Shakespeare and still make new discoveries

That’s part of why Shakespeare has lasted so long. His texts are so rich with meaning and so layered, and there are so many possible interpretations of his work and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it.



I’m almost tempted to re-do this entire challenge every ten years or so. In the meantime,

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended—
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.

(exits, pursued by a bear)









* The word “nothing” in the title of “Much Ado About Nothing” has a triple meaning. 1. Regular definition, AKA absence of something. 2. The word “nothing” has an Elizabethan pronunciation of “noting,” as in “noticing.” 3. IT’S ALSO A SLANG EUPHEMISM FOR VAGINA. This play is literally called “A Whole Lot of Freaking Out Over Rumors/Noticing/Pussy.”

Monday, August 24, 2020

Breathe


“I need another short breather,” I say. 
 
Patrick stops a few steps ahead of me. “No worries,” he says. “We’re in no rush.” 

We’re standing in the shade, halfway through the first ¼ mile of this hike, which has a 600-foot elevation gain. I lean forward and put my hands on my knees as my lungs struggle to gulp enough air. 

“Don’t let me forget my inhaler ever again,” I say. 

 I’ve only had my inhaler for a few months, so I never remember to bring it anywhere. I got it after I realized that my lungs were consistently tight after going on walks in spring. My lungs often felt tight in spring in general. But this time, my lungs felt tight in early spring when I was going on daily walks in an effort to stave off the madness of quarantine. (The albuterol prescription also helped alleviate my anxiety about having COVID-19. If the inhaler helped, it meant I was negative for the disease?) 

“Okay,” I say, once my lungs stop burning. “I’m ready.” We walk slowly, setting a deliberate pace. I glance around at the aspens, the rocks, the wildflowers. I take a sip of water. My head has begun to ache. Not enough oxygen. Not enough hydration. 

I put one foot in front of the other. I’ll probably be a little sore tomorrow. If I had marched yesterday, I would be sore today too. But yesterday, we stayed in the car, honking the horn, blasting Childish Gambino’s “This Is America,” participating in a drive-by protest of police brutality. 

I wish there was a phrase other than “drive-by.” 

My muscles and bones and lungs and heart carry me up the mountain. They’re carrying a lot for me nowadays. 

How it felt to dance in the blinding heat, a few hundred of us in the streets, dance-dancing for the revolution, blocks away from the District Attorney’s office. How it felt to lay on the hot pavement in front of the governor’s mansion, face-down, gravel pressing into my knees, for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. The burn in my feet and knees as we walked up the long hill to the Capitol building. I forgot my inhaler that day, too. 

Patrick and I pace ourselves, a slow and steady climb to the lake. When we get there, the light glints off the water, and the grass is wet and cool at its edges. The sky is blue blue blue, the leaves on the aspens twirling in the breeze. 

It feels good to be outside. I temporarily took Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter off my phone yesterday. I’ve recently found myself caught in an endless cycle of bad mental health, which I try to alleviate with social media, but social media makes it worse. So I’m doing a “fast” for a few days, even though I’m always judgmental when other people do that. Just have some f***ing self-control, I always think. Or, If you think social media sucks that much, I think you just have crappy friends

But I also apparently lack self-control. And it’s not that social media sucks, or that I have crappy friends. It’s that I mostly have passionate, empathetic, and compassionate friends who are constantly fighting for justice and equity and it’s beautiful and also somehow exhausting, and then I have a few friends who keep doing theatre and having social gatherings without masks and it is NOT beautiful and it is definitely exhausting. (The pandemic is not over, my friends. You are endangering everyone around you and prolonging hardship for yourself and your entire community, my friends.) 

And I’m exhausted by strangers stopping me to discuss how “not all police are bad” because they see the sign on my car. I’m exhausted by people telling me that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization. I’m exhausted by editing my resume for every remote job posting that I find on ZipRecruiter. I’m exhausted by not being able to breathe when I walk up a mountain. I’m exhausted by calling the DA’s office every day to ask that the life sentence charges be dropped against protestors. I’m exhausted by the steady and relentless heat of this corner of the planet, and by the wildfires that blur the skies for days on end, and by my dwindling savings account. 

So I’m taking a break. I’m taking a break, knowing that my whiteness is part of what allows me to take a break. But I'll be back to do the good work eventually. I just need a few moments. 

A few moments to just breathe.

Monday, June 29, 2020

For the Strength Of Youth I Wish I'd Had


Growing up in the LDS Church, I had a small booklet that guided me through my teenage years. "The Strength of Youth" helped me define my standards in every aspect of my life, with more detail added in subsequent editions. 

But my views have changed quite a bit since those days. I'm grateful for the guidance this book gave me, but they also led me to be judgmental, both of myself and others. They perpetuated harmful ideas about race, class, gender, and "worthiness." In my adult years, there have been times when I wish I'd had some different version of these standards--something to give me guidance without making things so black and white. I know teenage brains don't always handle nuance as well, but I'm pretty sure most of them can do better than we give them credit for. 

So I decided to write my own version of "For the Strength of Youth." The kind I wish I'd had, and the kind I wish was available to youth today. Many of you may be scandalized that I'm taking something written by Church leaders and re-writing it, and I understand if your feelings are hurt by that. But it was just such a convenient format to encapsulate these ideas. 

Some of the language has remained, some has been adjusted. I've tried to keep the same general tone, for simplicity. 

You can read the full current "For the Strength of Youth" standards from the LDS Church here, but here are the sections: 

Agency and Accountability 
Dating 
Dress and Appearance
Education (changed to "Education and Learning")
Entertainment and Media 
Family (removed) 
Friends (changed to "Compassion and Empathy")
Gratitude (removed) 
Honesty & Integrity (removed) 
Language (IMPORTANT NOTE: SPECIFIC OFFENSIVE WORDS ARE WRITTEN IN THIS SECTION TO GIVE TEENAGERS THE KNOWLEDGE THEY NEED) 
Music and Dancing (removed) 
Physical and Emotional Health 
Repentance (removed) 
Sabbath Day Observance (removed) 
Service (removed) 
Sexual Purity (changed to "Sexuality and Gender")
Tithes and Offerings (removed) 
Work and Self-Reliance (changed to "Financial Responsibility")
ADDED: Good Citizenship
Go Forward with Faith (changed to "Go Forward with Hope and Courage"


Agency and Accountability
Freedom of thought, speech, and action is one of the most precious aspects of being a human being. Do not let others coerce you into thinking, feeling, or being anything other than what you wish. Develop and use critical thinking skills.

Note that while you are free to choose your course of action, you are not always free to choose the consequences. Sometimes your words or actions may hurt others. When that happens, acknowledge their pain, offer an apology, and make restitution.

Do not infringe upon the right of others to think, speak, and act as they wish. If you disagree with them, speak out rather than silencing others.

Dating
A date is a planned activity that allows people to get to know each other. In cultures where dating is acceptable, it can help you learn and practice social skills, develop friendships, have fun, and eventually find a romantic companion if you wish.

Be kind and courteous when you ask for, accept, or decline a date. Never coerce anyone into a date. This is especially important for young men. Rejection is often painful, but “no” does not mean “try harder.” Learn to respect another person’s desires, especially those of young women. Young women, do not feel obligated to say yes to anything that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. You may decline any dates, dances, and/or conversations that you wish to.

Be honest in your interactions with others, and do not play “hard to get.” This only reinforces the false idea that “no” means “try harder.”

Remember that dates don’t have to be expensive or elaborate. Find ways to enjoy time together in situations that are safe, both physically and emotionally.

Dress and Appearance
Your body is a powerful tool to help you accomplish things during your life on earth.

Some may have you think that the way you dress affects the thoughts and feelings of those around you, and that you are responsible for helping them maintain "pure thoughts" by keeping certain parts of your body covered. This is not true. You cannot control the thoughts and feelings of those around you. Furthermore, if the way someone is dressed affects your thoughts and feelings, those thoughts and feelings are your own responsibility. This is true regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In many cultures, a great deal of emphasis is placed on appearance, whether it be weight, skin tone, height, or other features. But your body’s primary function is not to be looked at. Rather, your body’s primary function is to experience life on earth. Celebrate the positive things your body can do, instead of what others may think of how it looks.

Avoid making disparaging remarks about appearance, whether your own or someone else’s. If others make disparaging remarks about your own appearance, try to have patience and compassion and remember that their opinion does not change your inherent worth.

Education and Learning
Education is an empowering force to better prepare you for greater service in the world. It will help you better provide for yourself, your family, and those in need. But more importantly, it will help you be wise and thoughtful in your every day life.

If you are able to obtain a formal education, make college a goal. If college is not a good fit or an attainable option, strive to find ways to educate yourself on your own. Seek out as many different perspectives as you can, and study even those you disagree with.

Maintain an enthusiasm for learning throughout your life. Find joy in continuing to learn and in expanding your interests. 

Do not worry too much about whether or not your formal education will help you be “successful” or “rich.” Be mindful of what your life may look like in various careers, but pursue the things that ignite your passion.  

Entertainment and Media
We live in a marvelous time of media—video games, television, film, theatre, dance, music, books, magazines, social media, podcasts, websites, and more. There is much that will help you gain greater empathy and understanding, and/or that will allow you a respite from your troubles.

Use wise judgement in choosing what media you consume. Pay attention to the messages surrounding sexuality, violence, culture, and the human experience. When there is violence, how do the characters experience the consequences? When there is sexuality, how does it inform the characters or plot? How does the media you consume break or perpetuate harmful stereotypes? It takes practice to learn how to answer these questions, but if you are uncertain, talk it out with others. If you feel that your empathy is lessened because of the media you are consuming, shift your use.

When using social media, be compassionate to others, even when you disagree with them. Never say anything on the internet that you wouldn’t be willing to say in person.

You may have been told to avoid pornography at all costs, and that viewing it is addictive. This is not necessarily true, but be aware that pornography is not an accurate representation of human sexuality.

Think of a high speed car chase in a movie. Because you have likely ridden in or driven a car, you know that the car chase you’re witnessing onscreen is the high-adrenaline version of driving. Pornography is like that high speed car chase. It may normalize things that are violent or unrealistic. If you are curious about sexuality, ask a trusted adult for resources.

Also be aware that there is a great deal of abuse within the pornography industry. Be as ethical as you can be in your choices of what to consume. 

Compassion and Empathy
In order to participate in society, you must learn to practice compassion for those around you. Work to be patient, to give others the benefit of the doubt, and to nurture empathy within yourself. These things will help you have more meaningful connections and help you be an influence for good in the world.

These traits are also deeply important in your relationships with friends and family. This does not mean that you need to remain in situations that are harmful, or allow others to take advantage of you. Boundaries allow you to show compassion for yourself and others equally. 

Language
How you communicate should reflect who you are as a person. Use your words to uplift, encourage, articulate, and question. Do not use your words to bully, insult, demean, harass, or threaten others, whether in person or in writing. Even in teasing, sometimes using unkind words can have painful effects.

Never use words that are sexist, racist, homophobic, or ableist, or that perpetuate discrimination of any kind. For the purposes of education, examples of these kinds of words include: nigger (if you are not Black), wetback, chink, lame, fag/faggot, retard/retarded, kike, gay (when used to describe something disliked).

If someone asks you to refrain from using certain words around them, respect their request. Always use the correct names and pronouns for those around you. 

Physical and Emotional Health
Caring for your body will help you enjoy a fulfilling life.

Eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, and get regular sleep. Others may attempt to convince you that if you are above a certain weight, you are unhealthy. But know that weight is only one very small part of overall health, and that you are valuable and worthy and can be healthy no matter what your shape, size, or weight.

In your teenage years, it’s important to be sparing and mindful in your use of alcohol, cannabis, and other drugs. You may be curious, but these substances can having lasting effects on brain development. It’s best to wait until you are older to consume or experiment with these things. (Do not ever “huff” glue or other household chemicals, as these practices can cause immediate death, even if you’ve never tried this practice before.)

Your brain and nervous system are also important parts of your body, and should also receive care. Yoga, mindfulness, and cognitive-behavioral therapy can all help you maintain a healthy nervous system and process your emotions. You can learn these things from classes, apps, books, or YouTube channels. 

Seek professional help for prolonged/consistent feelings of sadness or anxiety, distressing thoughts, and/or unresolved trauma.

You deserve wholeness and wellness, in both body and mind.

Sexuality and Gender
Sexuality is an important part of being human. Sexual dreams, arousal, and masturbation are some of the ways that humans experience sexuality before they share their sexuality with another person, and they continue throughout one's lifetime. 

How, where, when, why, and with whom you share your sexuality with others is completely up to you. However, in all sexual experiences with others, make sure you have the “three C’s”: Consent, Communication, and Contraception.

Consent is agreement to participate in any sexual activity and/or intimate touch. Consent must be given freely and enthusiastically, and can be withdrawn at any time. It may feel awkward to ask permission or check in, but it is absolutely vital, especially if you aren’t as practiced at reading body language or other social cues. Never do anything violent (such as slapping or choking) as part of your sexuality until and unless you have learned about proper consent and after-care.

Communication also takes practice, but being clear about expectations, desires, triggers, preferences, and more will help you to have meaningful experiences. You are allowed to communicate if you do or don’t like something, and you are allowed to ask for something you want.

Unless you are trying to become pregnant, make sure you use contraception to protect against unwanted pregnancies and infections. Condoms are often the cheapest and most effective options if there is a penis involved. Clinics like Planned Parenthood often have free resources with detailed information about contraception, and often carry free condoms.

Know that there is nothing you could do or have done to you that would make you “dirty,” “shameful,” or unworthy in any way. Women are often made to feel that their worth is dependent on how they experience or share their sexuality. To you young women: You are not a bad girl, or a good girl. You are simply a girl.

If you have experienced sexual assault, violence, or harassment (anything that happened without your consent), there is help for you. Reach out to a trusted adult, close friend, or hotline.

Sexual orientation is who you are most attracted to. You may be gay/lesbian (attracted to your own gender), straight (attracted to the binary opposite gender), bisexual (attracted to both binary genders), pansexual (attracted to people regardless of their gender), asexual (not attracted to anyone), or still figuring it out. People can even change throughout their lifetimes! None of these are superior or more normal than any other. 

Gender identity has to do with your own gender. Many people are “cisgender,” which means that they identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, based on their genitals. Many others are “transgender,” meaning that they identify more closely with the opposite gender from the one they were assigned, or that they identify with both or neither. How you dress or speak or look can sometimes show the world things about your gender, but they don’t have to.

Regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity, you are valued and loved. You have much to contribute to the world. Find connections with friends and loved ones who celebrate and respect you no matter what.

If you have more questions about sexuality, check out the following resources:

Financial Responsibility
No matter what your financial circumstances, be honest and diligent in your financial activities. Find a good budgeting system that works for you, and practice saving if possible. If you have extra money that you do not need for yourself or don't wish to save, consider how you could use those funds to improve the lives of those around you, whether through donations to non-profits, gifts to friends, or supporting small local businesses.

Try to spend your money ethically when possible. You can “vote with your dollar” to show support for companies who prioritize fairness, equity, and sustainability.

Good Citizenship
If you live in a country where you are able to vote, register and use this powerful tool to be an influence for good in your community. Take time to be informed about the issues, both local and global, and find ways that you can contribute to the growth of humanity. Work for equity and fair treatment of all people.

Make an effort to live sustainably. You have a responsibility to help take care of this planet, and to use its resources wisely. Research and implement small steps to make a difference.

Go Forward with Hope and Courage
Each generation has an opportunity to learn from the previous generation, and then to go out and make the world better. Sometimes this is easy, and other times, it may be very challenging. But you are equipped with unique talents and interests, strengths and abilities, and you can be confident that you have something beautiful to contribute to the world.

Monday, June 15, 2020

You can't choose your race, but you can choose your class


Welcome to the campaign!*

We're playing a long-term game of Dungeons and Dragons here, and if you're new, there are a few things you should know. 

First, we have to function as though there's no Dungeon Master. (Or if there is, we don’t know who they are, but that gets into a whole ‘nother thing, so.) We’re all just going for it with the information we have. 

Second of all, we’re a big group of adventurers with different priorities, but in general, we’re fighting for social justice. We often come together to work on a specific campaign or battle. (For example, right now, in June of 2020, a big group of us is focusing on racial justice.) 

Third of all, unlike real DnD, you don’t have to stick with one class if you don’t want to. You can choose a different class each day, or overlap which class you’re a part of at any given moment. 

Okay! Ready to join? Here are the classes you can choose from: 

Fighters
Probably the largest and most visible class. These are the folks who march, carry signs, attend rallies, who are vocal on social media. 

Barbarians 
Warriors whose rage fuels them to (often violent) action. Throwers of bricks, topplers of statues, and painters of graffiti. They primarily fight for causes by disrupting the economy. These folks are definitely valuable to any cause, although some argue that too many on your team can become a liability. 

Monks and Paladins 
These folks focus on the spiritual and emotional aspects of the fight. These are the psychologists, the writers, the podcasters, and the friends reminding you that it’s okay to take a break. They provide a good balance for the fighters and barbarians. 

Bards 
The artists who use their art to critique the social order and provide hope for those fighting for change. Singers and songwriters, painters and other visual artists, theatre companies, TV and filmmakers, and creative writers. 

Clerics and Druids 
The healers and suppliers. They support the fighters during rallies and protests by providing medical care, food and water, transportation, and protection. This can sometimes be a dangerous job, but their involvement makes a huge difference at large protests. They’re the ones with first aid kits and bottles of water.

Rangers 
These folks are fighting on the fringes, having tough conversations with friends, family members, and acquaintances. Rather than participating directly in rallies and protests, they work to challenge the status quo wherever they are. This work isn’t as visible, but it’s deeply meaningful, and crucial to any social justice movement. 

Rogues 
The folks who use subversive tactics to fight against “enemies” of the movement. The internet group Anonymous is the perfect example. Standard tactics include things like hacking social media hashtags (like when KPop fans started using #WhiteLivesMatter to flood social media with KPop instead of white supremacy), crashing websites, sending memes to surveillance apps/sites to drown out any actual surveillance, and doing otherwise generally “legal” activity to stop immoral activity. 

Casters and Support Casters: Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards 
These folks take direct action through donating, calling representatives, showing up at government meetings, voting, drafting letters, etc. These folks do the work “on the ground” even when there isn’t a protest or news story. Consistent ongoing work is key here, and it’s often most effective when you prepare a specific spell to utilize. 

Monday, June 1, 2020

Take a breath

No blog today. Beckah and I are both exhausted. 

Hug the people you love. See you in two weeks. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Short Imagined Monologue: Coronavirus edition


Listen, man. I get it. I suck or whatever. But at the same time, you gotta admire how f***ing powerful I am. Right? Like, I’m basically invisible to the naked eye and I am still pwning you all so hard right now.

Sure, you’ve got your “strong economy” and your “healthcare systems” and your “toilet paper.” But one particle of me, between 0.06 and 1.4 microns big, and BOOM. Unemployment up to 14%! Refrigerated trucks being used as temporary morgues! You’re wiping your butts with rags made from old t-shirts!

I did that. Me. All on my own.

Okay, well, I guess TECHNICALLY y’all helped. All that coughing and sneezing and breathing on each other. Skipping the handwashing. You’re disgusting animals, all of you. And I love it.

I especially love when y’all disregard all the recommendations that are supposed to protect you and your loved ones. Please, keep gathering in large crowds to protest the government “taking away your freedoms.” Please don’t wear a mask in public. Please stand way too close to each other in line. You are the true MVPs of my campaign to f*** up humanity.

But I simply can’t go any further without acknowledging the folks in power who made me so powerful. I’d like to thank my boy, P Trump, and his gang for basically disbanding Global Health Security two years ago. Y’all really opened the door for me. Hell, you f***ing rolled out a red carpet. (I don’t really get how that Cheeto-d*ck perv is your PRESIDENT, but whatever.) Make America sick again, libtards!

Hm? What’s that? You miss sitting in restaurants? You want to get a haircut? You still want your “really good friend” to come over because you can’t survive two weeks without getting laid, even though y’all are “just casual”? Tough titties, all you cool cats and kittens. You can’t have any of that. Because of me.

Because of me, the line to get into Home Depot winds around a city block. Because of me, aisles in grocery stores have “one way” signs. (Shout out to all my peeps who blatantly ignore those signs, btw.) Because of me, there’s caution tape fluttering in the breeze around every public play structure. Because of me, everyone who works in live entertainment is f***ing out of a job for the foreseeable future.

Ha. The future. As if you could make any plans beyond tomorrow’s to-do list. I know some of y’all are counting down the days to when things are “back to normal,” but f**k you. This is your new normal, b*tch.

See, I’m forcing you to face the delusion you’ve been carrying all this time—that you ever had control over your life in the first place. Your bank account, your career, your shopping trips, your travel plans, your daily routine are all subject to the whims of fate. Or in this case, the whims of a badass coronavirus like yours truly.

It’s like in Jurassic Park. So many of you are John Hammond, sitting in a room and eating melting ice cream and saying things like “When we have control again.” But you should be Ellie Sattler, yelling across the table “You never had control! That’s the illusion! I was overwhelmed by the power of this place. But I made a mistake, too. I didn’t have enough respect for that power and it’s out now. The only thing that matters now are the people we love.”

I’m the power she’s talking about. And I’m out now.

Granted, you guys have tests. Although it kinda makes me happy that it’s soooooo uncomfortable for your fragile little bodies. Raise your hand if you want to have your brains scraped out of your head through your nose to check to see if I’m hanging out in your cavities! That’s what you gotta do to get to me, dude. You’ve got to go somewhere and have your brain scraped out of your head through your nose, and then wait 2-10 days for someone to call you to tell you whether or not you have to stay alone in your room for two full weeks.

And also, granted, you do have masks and social distancing practices and medical teams working around the clock and coordinated efforts to control me in these “unprecedented times.” And okay, FINE, so you’ve made strides in recovery and treatment and containment or whatever.

But I’m just trying to survive, you know? And if I have to kill a few healthy cells in your fragile special little snowflake respiratory systems to stay alive, then so be it. I’m not so different from you, you motherf***er who refuses to wear a mask. We’re both just trying to live our damn lives. Who gives a damn about anyone else.

Monday, May 4, 2020

COVID-19 blah blah blah, for posterity

Here’s what it was like. Here’s what I will remember.

I spend early January to mid-March dismissing everyone’s fears, before actually doing the research and realizing that this is serious. Not necessarily because of the mortality rate, but because our healthcare systems will not able to handle the load, and that will lead to a loss of life on a terrifying scale.

Early on, grocery stores are chaos. They’re quickly cleaned out of hand sanitizer, bottled water, and toilet paper. When I go grocery shopping, I can’t find eggs, flour, baking powder, vegetable oil, or frozen lasagna. A lot of other things are almost gone—butter, cereal, sour cream (for some reason?), canned veggies, fruit, beans, meat. With toilet paper being so hard to come by, I decide to take a “greener” route and learn how to use and launder “the family cloth.” I get into the habit of ordering my groceries online for curbside pickup. We all wear masks when we're out in public. (AT LEAST WE'RE SUPPOSED TO.) When we do go into grocery stores, the lines all have markers six feet apart, and the aisles are all one-way only.

Schools close for “two weeks,” which quickly becomes “until the end of the school year” as the governor publishes a “shelter in place” directive until the end of April.

Early on a Wednesday morning in mid-March, we’re awoken by a 5.7 earthquake in Utah. My roommates and I feel dozens of aftershocks, and spend the whole day sitting in the living room together, for comfort.

America collectively loses its mind over a Netflix documentary series called "Tiger King," which has everything from polygamy to arson to murder-for-hire, because in the hours we're watching that, we're not thinking about the pandemic.

K goes to Boise to be with her parents for a few days, although things are so uncertain when she leaves town that we say goodbye accompanied by “See you in a few days! Or a few months…?” She stays there for four weeks.

A and I have “reading parties” in the living room most nights. We trade book recommendations back and forth and read the same things at different times. There’s one memorable night when we get high and watch “A Goofy Movie.” At one point, early in the movie, A struggles to reach the remote to pause the movie and say to me, very seriously, “This is important. I need to tell you this. All of the teenagers in this movie are dogs.”

When K comes back into town, our reading parties turn into “reading, stitching, video gaming, writing, puzzling” parties. We spend one week watching films based on/thematically related to novels written in the 1800s. All of our home improvement projects are put on hold, since we can’t go to Home Depot for supplies. I work from home roughly 4 hours a week, and spend the rest of my time cycling through the same half dozen activities.

I complete jigsaw puzzles on an app on my iPad. I journal. I read. I watch TV. I listen to podcasts. I stitch. I write. I do some work for Royter Snow. I do chores. I go on so many walks that I grow bored with my neighborhood and drive out to other neighborhoods to walk there. I come to enjoy the solitude of the days when A is at work and K is out of town, although I joke to A that I understand why housewives in the 1960s rebelled because this is “boring as f***.” Lock-down has turned me into the housewife that my Mormon upbringing has trained me to be. When K does return from Boise, it takes me a few days to adjust to someone else being there during the day.

My sleep schedule, despite my best efforts, reverts to its preferred pattern of 1:30 am – 10:30 am. I take a lot of naps early on, dealing with the stress of it all. Time has ceased to matter or make sense anyway. I rarely have a strong sense of what day of the week it is, and the passage of time is impossible to measure. At any given moment, it feels like we’ve been under lock-down for at least three months.

On a morning in early April, I awake longing for the pillowy soft sweetness of a freshly made donut, and lament that it’s out of reach for who knows how long. I attempt to make beignets to satisfy this craving, which is only sort of successful. I do learn an excellent apple dumplings recipe a little while later.

After a while, I find myself applying COVID-19 social distancing rules to the characters in books I’m reading. Sometimes the characters will be having a big gathering, and I’ll think, “No! You can’t do that!” before realizing that it’s not real.

Around mid-April, my dreams start to get strange and vivid. I mention it to A and she tells me that multiple people have mentioned the same thing. Later that day, National Geographic publishes an article about how the pandemic is causing widespread vivid dreams—both because of the lack of new stimulus to process, and because of our anxiety about a virus that’s essentially invisible to us.

Beckah and I begin a tradition of watching bad Netflix movies together once a week, via Skype and a Google Chrome extension called “Netflix Party.” By far the best one is “Iron Sky 2: The Coming Race,” the sequel to “Iron Sky,” a Finnish-German-Australian-comic-science fiction-action film. Major elements of the film include a reptilian Sarah Palin, a cult of Apple lovers called “Jobsists,” a hollow earth, a moon-Führer, and Hitler riding a T-rex. At one point, Beckah and I get really hung up on one particular plot point regarding how a compass would work in the middle of a hollow earth before remembering that no part of the movie made any sense.

My cousin starts a movie watching group and we meet weekly on Zoom. I do a lot of Zoom/virtual meetings. We all do. Patrick and I are stuck in separate homes, and connect through Skype a few times a week, and I long for his arms around me so much I can hardly stand it.

I learn how to play Risk on my iPad, and decide that I’m a Risk prodigy, winning 51 out of 56 games by the beginning of May, at all levels of difficulty, against both bots and humans.

I deal with my anxiety about the current situation by small-scale compulsive internet shopping, purchasing new sheets, new cookware, fridge organization sets, and a dozen other things I probably don’t need, but will definitely use.

Most of the time nowadays, I’m okay with our “new normal.” I feel guilty about the times when I’m not…when I wake up in the morning and fill with dread at the realization of being stuck at home for who knows how long. But we’re all taking it one day at a time.

At the time of this writing, from January on, I’ve played 56 games of Risk, completed 31 jigsaw puzzles, and read 9 books. I could look up how many stitches I’ve completed and how many hours of podcasts I’ve listened to, and all of the television and movies I’ve watched, but the answer doesn’t interest me enough to do the work required.

That’s what it’s like right now.