COVID Chronicle #6

It’s been since June I’ve written about the state of things here in Maryland.

The first weeks of school really had me stressed. After a short week one, my daughter’s entire grade was quarantined and learning from home as a staff member showed symptoms at school. We were not required to test her and she never showed symptoms, so we were relieved for that, but the week of at-home learning was chaotic and the teachers had little time to prepare. It showed, but it went as well as it could as not only teachers and students had to adapt.

The second week of school, the fourth grade class was quarantined, similar reason. When my daughter returned to school, the only kids at the bus stop were her grade, first, second, and third grade. Kindergarten and fourth grade were out for another week. It was an exhausting start to the year. Now, it seems everyone is doing well and only a few kids are home and quarantined at a time, and yes, my daughter had her first COVID test as one of her best friends in the neighborhood passed a viral infection to others (not COVID).

I’m simply exhausted.

My office is still not required to be back to work because of D.C.’s different restrictions, but our counterparts in Chicago are back to the office at least once per week. It seems as though things are returning to normal, even with Delta around. I’m all for normal. I crave being able to do things we normally do, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can do something for my daughter’s favorite holiday, Halloween. No word on Trick or Treating as yet, but the school is planning their annual Trunk or Treat.

BEYOND this angst and exhaustion, I do have some GOOD News to share (if we’re friends on Facebook, you’ve probably seen this already):

  • My poem, “In the Distance” published in Mom Egg Reviews premiered on The Poetry Channel as a precursor to my first in-person reading in a long time at Poetry at the Port in Silver Spring. Great little restaurant!
  • 3 of my poems were published in Bourgeon Online.
  • You can view part of the in-person reading. and this one here.
  • Forthcoming reading with This Is What America Looks Like Anthology poets at Cafe Muse on Oct. 20 over Zoom. If you’re interested, I can email you the zoom link or you can catch it on Facebook.

I hope you’ll share your good news or latest up dates. I’d love to hear from you.

COVID Chronicle #5

Reopening Hesitation?

The vaccination rates in my county and state are rising, which should signal that we are ready to return to normal. Everything in the state will reopen on July 1, the Maryland state of emergency will end, and masks will no longer be required. But why do I feel like we should still be wearing masks? Is it the contagiousness of the variants that worries me? No.

This is what worries me. My daughter is not of the age where she can receive a vaccine safely. Her age group is the most vulnerable to the virus right now, as more adults and teens get their vaccines. I feel as though the state is abandoning its youngest residents, allowing others to be maskless and social distancing going right out the window. It’s mostly the indoor situations I worry about.

Personally, I’m not ready to take public transit yet, but if I had to, I would. Thankfully, I can still work from home and I don’t see a push for that to change anytime soon.

I’m ready to get out and about, but hesitant at the same time — if that makes any sense at all.

This may be the last post on this topic, but I wanted to see how everyone was feeling and coping with the reopening processes where they are.

COVID Chronicle #4

Is it unusual to be so busy during a pandemic?

I find that I am envious of those who have additional time during the pandemic to pursue artistic projects and learn new skills and just take time for themselves. I literally have zero time to myself in a house full of six people. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom, but there are days when I want her to be more independent. But without social outings and friends to occupy her — being cooped up inside and away from people her age — she’s more clingy. I can’t begrudge her attention, even if I want time to myself to write or just read.

I’ve been volunteering with the Gaithersburg Book Festival this year, like many years in the past, but this year, I have far more responsibility. I think a poetry committee would be far more appropriate to make the work far less daunting. I’m in charge of poetry programming and I feel inadequate. Yes, it is that imposter syndrome. I want to do the best I can and help the festival, but I also want the poets to feel like the time will be well spent for them and their books, especially as virtual events tend not to translate into book sales at the rate they do when events are live and in person.

I’m very busy at my day job, which is good, but I also took on a manuscript editing project sooner than expected (it wasn’t expected to be done until March). I love editing and helping others hone their material and novels and poems, but I also love to write my own work. Again, no time for that.

Perhaps, what I need is a few days off sooner than I thought. I’ll have to think on it. I’m stressed and exhausted. There are other stressors too, but I prefer not to bring those up. However, if anyone has any sure fire financial planning advice or budgeting advice – software recommendations, how to use an excel sheet or whatever — I’m all ears. I feel unorganized.

Reading is going, but mostly submissions for the festival. I do have some fiction reads I really want to crack open soon, and I just hope I can find the time. I perhaps have too many competing interests.

COVID Chronicle #3

I shared some good things last time. I’m not sure I have any to share today.

It’s been a struggle with virtual school, particularly math. My daughter is struggling, the extra help is not helping much and honestly listening to her math teacher day in and day out — I can see why she’s not learning as she should. This teacher honestly has no patience and she speeds through the lessons and it is clear my daughter is not comfortable asking questions. This is not the ideal environment for learning long division or even multiplication. School is on my mind. I want her to do well, but if I push her like her teacher does, I suspect the learning will completely stop.

I did find a multiplication game website to help her learn her multiplication facts, so they come quicker to her. That I hope is helping and feels a little less like school and pushing her. We also found another website with similar lessons to help supplement her lessons in math — thanks to her reading teacher. Yes, I asked her math teacher for help, but received zero response other than get her flash cards. Yes, you heard that right. Very frustrating.

Reading for pleasure has been very slow, but I managed to finish 2 audiobooks this week. I have a ton of poetry submissions to read through for the Gaithersburg Book Festival and the high school poetry contest is getting entries, but at a slow rate. I’ll have to do more outreach soon. Probably this week.

With a long weekend and a couple days off from work, my plans are minimal. I am hoping to resubmit some poems to journals, since i received 3 rejections this week. No new acceptances, and an acceptance from a few months back was never published and it seems the lit mag is MIA — having not published the last 7 months. I signed a contract so now I’m wondering what is to become of the poems they accepted, since they were not published. I’ll have to review that too to find out what the next step is.

This seems like a super long post already, so perhaps I’ll end with this light of my weeks. We were able to go to Gaver Farm and cut down our tree, which I wasn’t expecting because of COVID, and it is now decorated. I feel a little more in the spirit. And our Elf on the Shelf, Spark, has been roaming around the house and getting into some high places this year.

Please share your struggles and your light. I’d love to share and support you.

COVID Chronicle #2

COVID-19 is here to stay for the foreseeable future, but there is some good news — Pfizer may have a vaccine that’s 90% effective.

Even as I say that and after reading the study, the sample size is small and doesn’t include severe cases of COVID or the elderly, but I’m going to be hopeful about it. We all need some of that these days.

Rather than lament the things we’ve lost or the frustrations I have most days, I’m going to share with you some good things that have and will be happening this month.

  1. My daughter had her first swim meet (in a separate pool from the competition)
  2. Join us for the Facebook Launch of The Beltway Poetry Quarterly: Art in Times of Crisis Vol. 2 on Nov. 14 at 3 p.m. Please register in advance.
  3. I’ll be reading my poems from The Plague Papers anthology on Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. EST, want to join? Email for the Zoom link:[email protected]

I would love to hear what good things are going on in your world, despite the lock downs and the craziness of the world around us.

COVID Chronicle #1

Since the start of the pandemic and the lockdown in our state that began with sending kids home from school in March, I knew life would not be normal for a long time. I remember writing journal entries every day as a teenager and probably even before that, but I haven’t done any of that since college. Getting married, having children, and moving your parents and disabled brother into a single home will take a lot of time and energy. So I dropped the journaling habit.

This current public health crisis, however, has me wondering if I should return to the habit as a way to order my thoughts and release some of my stress, but I often fear that someone in my household will read it and take it too personally when really it’s just about me releasing emotions of the moment. So why write any entries that are on a blog for all to see? I ask this of myself. Perhaps because I know that my family doesn’t read my blog at all?

Some things I’ve noticed during this time, at least for myself, has been a ball of stress carried on my shoulders that I can’t seem to release even with yoga and meditation. Whether it’s the bills, the school work with distance learning (or maybe not learning) while I’m simultaneously trying to do my full-time job or it’s the stress of having six people in the same house day after day with little downtime for myself to be alone and think, I’m not sure. Perhaps it is a culmination of all those things.

What am I hoping to say or accomplish with these posts, which I doubt will be a regular affair? I’m not sure. But I thought I would give this a try and see if others were feeling the same bottled up, ready to explode feeling I have lately or maybe there’s some advice…I’m honestly not sure.

Feel free to chime in….


COVID-19 Choices: Virtual Events

As many of you know, I had been working on the poetry contest for the Gaithersburg Book Festival, which was scheduled for May 16. Sadly, COVID-19 changed all that and many of the spectacular events and discussions leading up to it, as well as the festival, had to be cancelled.

The Festival team, like many others, worked together to create a virtual program for our Festival attendees online. While the program has us socially distant in our homes and watching online, many of the great authors we wanted to see are still talking to us, sharing their books, and so much more.

Please do click on the banner and check out the programming. Or head on over to the Gaithersburg Book Festival YouTube Channel.

Here’s a run down of the program during the weekend, and special stuff happens every weekend:

Featured Programming Over Four Consecutive Weeks, Saturday, May 16 – Sunday, June 14.

  • TGIF Live! One live author presentation, streamed to the GBF YouTube channel each Friday evening at 5:30 pm
  • Saturday Night Premiere  A YouTube video watch party with the author in attendance, each Saturday night at 7 pm
  • Sunday Morning Kids  One children’s author presentation streamed to the GBF YouTube channel each Sunday morning at 11 am  
  • Wednesday Workshops  Writing workshops featuring a variety of topics offered each Wednesday morning and afternoon. Spaces limited. Registration required.

This weekend’s events are not to be missed:

Weekend of 5/22-5/24

Friday, 5/22

TGIF LIVE! at 5:30 pm with Louis Bayard – “Courting Mr. Lincoln.”  Bayard writes about the brilliant, melancholic future president and the two people who knew him best: his confidant, Joshua Speed, and the spirited young debutante Mary Todd. In conversation with author Jennifer Bort Yacovissi

Saturday, 5/23

Saturday Night Premiere at 7 pm with Jonathan Karl  – “Front Row at the Trump Show.” As the Chief White House Correspondent and Chief Washington Correspondent for ABC News and the President of the White House Correspondents Association (2019-2020), Jonathan Karl delivers essential new reporting and surprising insights. He’s known and covered Donald Trump longer than any other White House reporter. In conversation with author and journalist Susan Page.

Sunday, 5/24

Sunday Morning Kids at 11 am, LIVE with Adam Gidwitz – “Unicorn Rescue Society #5: The Madre de Aguas of Cuba.”  In Cuba, it is believed that a mysterious water serpent–the Madre de aguas–is responsible for providing and protecting the fresh water of the island. But the serpent is missing, and a drought has gripped the island. Uchenna, Elliot, and Professor Fauna fly to Cuba and endeavor to rescue the Madre de aguas.

POETRY ALREADY AVAILABLE: (Bonus Author Presentations)

I hope that you’ll check out the great content. We know this isn’t the same as bringing the community to one place for an entire day of literature and connection, but in these times, this is how we continue to share.