Pandemic Inventory in Missoula, MT

Each time I sit down (let’s get honest – crawl into bed and prop myself up with four pillows), all writing notions evaporate.  I should tie a small notebook around my waist and jot sentences down as soon as they strike, rather than the usual, Oh, I’ll remember and write that down later.  Never happens.  Here is what I know:

  1. My life has never been cleaner, so shiny, so full of vinegar.
  2. Missoulians are resilient, compassionate, creative.
  3. They’re not so great at swerving off trail when encountering another person.
  4. An earthquake during a pandemic makes Lent feel extra Lenty. And, no, I can’t remember what I gave up/took on before the world as we know it fell over. 
  5. Dennis loves walking through the Catholic cemetery one block away. 
  6. A scientist friend chuckles and says, “This is just the dress rehearsal!”
  7. I’m not a big fan of FB Live for Sunday worship, which leads me to believe…
  8. I’m not a fan of anything with a spotlight on you, and you’re not allowed to have any kind of interaction/relationship/sense of the people watching you. My mind races with thoughts and tries to sabotage attempts at being present.  So, if you happen to see our streaming service, know that I’m using every fiber of my being to resist saying, “This is NUTS!” 
  9. My parents discovered a medical museum buried in one of their bathroom cabinets – a vial of epinephrine from the 90s, Ipecac from 1969, and various other long-deceased drugs.  This fact alone, I find incredibly funny, though I’m not sure why. 
  10. I’ve howled two nights in a row – both times, only because we could hear our neighborhood-gone-primal through the walls of our home. I love that.
  11. 8:30 p.m. is the new Midnight. 
  12. Prayer is the crucible for uncertain livelihoods, for those who risk exposure by helping others.
  13. Yellow bells, bidets, Zoom workouts, all sorts of cooking, and a writing group give shape to each week.  And in truth, Netflix, HBO, Showtime, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and more True Crime than I can count. 
  14. We deify places as we destroy them. – Ginger Strand 
  15. A faculty member just referred to me as Dr. Campbell, and I plan to celebrate this promotion by juicing wilted cucumbers tucked away in the crisper. 
  16. People in town have bought up all the baby chicks. 
  17. According to Wikipedia, Boris Johnson is father to 5-6 kids.  
  18. After 23 days of sheltering in place, daily life is a mix of gobsmacked gratitude and giving in to my frayed edges. 
  19. I now wonder about the contents of transport trucks beelining east and west along I-90. 
  20. I wonder what they would say if they were alive – Rachel Carson, Leonard Cohen, Mary Oliver, Kurt Vonnegut – and then all the lost civilizations buried by hubris.
  21. The planet has been begging for this pause. 
  22. I hope to remember what I have learned to live with and without. 
  23. The salmon, berries, yogurt, milk, and vegetables occupying our chest freezer give comfort. 
  24. The snowfall here turns to rain, and the sound on the roof eclipses worry for a spell.


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