journal entries

Sheltering 1: Things I Have Learned

1. More than twelve years of working from home as a freelancer / solopreneur / writer has prepared me quite well. I already have a home office set up, I already know how to divide my time and focus and still get things done, even though I’m at home. But this isn’t the same as “working from home,” of course. This is “working during a pandemic.”

2. Why do I wear so many things that are so uncomfortable? It’s hard to justify even “getting dressed,” so why bother wearing things that don’t improve my life? I actually like jeans, though I know not everyone does; I tend to buy the stretchy ones so they are very comfortable and don’t restrict movement. I’m still pretty much every day in a black tee shirt. I hope we can all wear more of what we want to going forward, and less of what doesn’t feel good.

3. Amazing all of the things that we thought we needed to get outside of the home, that we thought we needed to spend a lot of money on, that for me are actually just fine at home. Examples: Haircuts. Eating out at restaurants. Going to the movie theater.

4. I miss the gym. Road trips. Fruit picking at U-pick farms. Body work of all kinds, from massage and acupuncture to pedicures and facials. There’s a lot of overlap between beauty and health. But there’s a lot that I don’t miss.

5. I don’t miss driving everywhere. Being in traffic for hours. All the time between tasks, going from the gym to the grocery store to the cafe to the practitioner’s office.

6. I don’t miss all the time with friends. I miss my friends, sure, but I think I have a lot more socializing than I need or even want, in part because my partner needs it, and in part because I say yes when people ask. Noticing that I don’t really miss it and I’d rather be by myself most of the time is very interesting, very good information.

7. I have been remaking the plans that I made six months ago. It’s all different now. I can’t rely on what was true in November and December. Things I thought I’d do this year are no longer — so what am I going to do? I’m doing a lot of online work, that’s for sure, but that’s not it exactly either.

8. I’m struck by how different this experience is for folks in different situations. I’m sheltering with a partner and cat and dog — not with kids who are usually in school and can’t see friends and are somehow expected to get school work done. Not with roommates I don’t get along with. Not solo, starving for touch. Not working outside of my home at all, not on the front lines, not at a grocery store, not policing the public and whether they are following physical distancing or wearing a mask. I am very privileged in this and I’m aware of that, and I’m grateful for what I have.

9. But I’m also assessing what I have. For me it’s been a huge pause, a vast time of going inward and listening. Quieting. I love it. The opportunity for focus, for clarity. There’s also vast amounts of numbness and confusion, anxiety and stress and fear, of course. But in the moments I can rest in the safety I do have, I can go to another level of assessment about my life and the trajectory of my family and my capital-W Work in the world. Things were already starting to change, but the timeline was longer than it is now. Now, the timeline is different. In some ways, everything is different.

10. I hope we can keep the learnings we are getting from this. The pleasure from cooking at home. How little we actually need to shop or buy things. How much it matters that we have time in our gardens and with our puzzles and crafts. How lovely it is to connect with people long distance. How great our sweatpants are. I hope we can keep that, as we mourn and grieve the over 100,000 who have died in the US, as we work to protect ourselves from the news and the kleptocratic government, as we figure out how to go forward.

Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is "the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queer women" (AfterEllen), who "is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places" (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. They identify as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor, and an introvert.

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