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Another day in Hellsville

I've decided to take a short hiatus from social media - which, really, is a hiatus from learning about the world in staccato, where each dopamine hit brings a payload of horror. I want to be informed, but I want to be informed on my schedule.

I'm writing this update from Santa Rosa, which sits nestled between two raging fires. The smoke hangs thickly in the air, turning the sky red. This year seems to ratchet up month by month, the pressure slowly increasing, as if to dare us to cry that we've had enough.

Here is what my day in the pandemic looked like:

I brought an air purifier to an elderly friend in Berkeley. Then I brought a second air purifier to my sister in Richmond, who is disabled with chronic pain and spends most of her day in bed. I drove myself through the orange haze to be with my parents. My mother is weaker than she's probably ever been. She can barely walk. I made dinner for them both, and washed up, and gave her a ginger hug in bed and told her I hoped tomorrow would be a better day.

It's a lot.

I'm finding it really difficult to work on extracurricular coding in this context, so I've given up. Known is chugging along without me, which is lovely to see, and it turns out that my Life on the Ground questions don't need a software platform to empower people to share their stories. I work with code and software in my day job, and that turns out to be more than enough.

Instead, I'm writing a book. Finally. It's a pandemic cliché, I'm fully aware of it, but it's also something I've been called towards for decades. I've decided to approach it with the seriousness I would any software project: I'm learning new skills and researching the best approaches. It's not a whim - but it's also liberating to work on something that doesn't need to be a business. More than anything, it's something that's mine: an escape, a place to channel all the things I'm feeling, and something to work on that doesn't need to be about productivity. It can just be. Not a venture novel; a lifestyle novel.

There are silver linings to this pandemic. Remote work means I can support my parents without having to consider the impact on my job. I've found the mental and actual space to write. Not going into an office means I haven't been eating trash from the neighborhood for lunch, and I've been able to use some of the extra time to exercise. I'm healthier than I've been in years.

I just wish we weren't in the midst of an epidemic, and that California wasn't on fire, and that we had a compassionate government, and that police weren't murdering Black people, and that my mother wasn't dying.

Some of these things will change. The epidemic will end. The fires will be put out, and we will eventually enact laws to deal with the climate crisis. The government will leave office, and potentially go to jail. The police will be defunded and remade.

As for the last thing on the list? All I can do is be here, do my best, try and remember to take care of myself, and hope.