My Pandemic Brain Is Mush
J. Dianne Dotson – Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer - My Pandemic Brain Is Mush

What day is it? I don’t know, and I sure don’t care.




ARE YOU MAKING FRESH RICOTTA (hey how’d you get all the milk)?


My answer to all of the above: NO. And you know what, if that means I don’t exist, then fine.

It’s all just exhausting.

I’ll tell you what I have been doing. I have baked cookies, made a fairly typical repertoire of home-cooked meals, ordered Domino’s and Rubio’s food delivery, and supported a bunch of local businesses during this situation. I joined a farm box CSA (community supported agriculture), I ordered jams from a local company, I ordered craft beer and hard cider delivered from those respective local businesses, and I ordered ingredients that I can’t seem to get from local stores’ delivery. I also got a pasta-making attachment for my mixer (because I have to have pasta, and if I can’t buy it, I’ll make it), and cake donut pans.

I’ve had all groceries delivered. That’s a real adventure now. You don’t know when you’ll get the groceries, and you don’t know if you’ll get quite what you ordered. But hey: if you get most of it right now, then you’re lucky. And either way, that’s a very small price to pay to avoid going in public and potentially contributing more to the pandemic spread. The idea is to “flatten the curve” and I’m trying to abide by this as best I can.

Everything that comes into the house gets treated as if it’s contaminated. In my life, I’ve worked in a barrier facility, and I’ve worked with radiation, mutagens, and explosives, as part of my lab jobs. I’ve worked with severely immunocompromised individuals. I’ve contributed to flu and pneumonia vaccine research. I even came to San Diego to pursue a graduate degree in epidemiology (I had to withdraw over family reasons, but wonder if I should go back). So I know how to prevent, to the best of my ability, introducing pathogens or harmful substances into my living space.

During all this, I’ve worked on…guess what! COVID and CDC-related science articles and facts for both my jobs.

I did sign off on Book Three’s cover art just today. So the covers of the new editions of the first two books will look like the third book, and all will be unveiled very soon, along with the pre-orders for Book Three of The Questrison Saga® (which arrives May 26!). That at least feels like an anchor, and I’ll be glad when it’s all out in the world.

OH AND I’VE GONE OUT ONE TIME in over weeks. I swear the car growled at me when I turned it on. Thought I should drive it a bit so the battery doesn’t die. I didn’t even get out of the car. I even felt weird about that. And I probably won’t do it again any time soon.

And with our children home, I turn now to home-schooling them as well. For the most part, this is being reasonably streamlined by the school district, all things considered. We’re very lucky. The kids have also had Zoom meetings with their teachers or their friends. They’re figuring it out, and they’re adaptable. I’m just glad they’re home!

I think the hardest part is just not interacting with the public, and seeing friends. And wondering when we will get to visit our families back East again, because we had planned on it this summer.

Oh, and we had an earthquake this evening. Because why not, right?

My days have become a fog, and my dreams are strange: I avoid crowds in them, or there’s a thread of melancholy, of missing something.

The initial shock is over, and I feel like this is a new phase. We’re all adjusting to it in different ways, and as long as we aren’t causing harm, there’s no wrong way to process something like this pandemic. Forgive yourself. Don’t feel like you have to do everything. All-day pajamas? Feel no shame. Glam it up? Do that too if you like. It doesn’t matter.

I’ve found a lot of things don’t matter right now. Things that seemed so sure and certain before, so important to society…they really just didn’t matter. What matters is our health and safety, for us, for our loved ones. What matters is that even if we can’t physically be present, we can be mentally. YOU matter. Treat yourself with the calm assurance that you are here right now, and you can be true to how you feel. Stay home, stay healthy, and take care of yourself and those you love.

And while I’ve not baked the perfect sourdough loaf like everyone else, life (and a friend) gave me lemons. So today I made lemon donuts. And if I never make them again, that’s okay too. Now excuse me while I go have another one.


Image Credit: Lemon Donuts Baked and Photographed by J.Dianne Dotson Copyright 2020.