I am not writing

I am not writing.

I am wiping down the counter again. I am feeding the dog, I am putting clean dishes away. I am checking the clock, checking my child’s schedule, and then checking if my child is in front of his computer upstairs.

I am not writing. I am eating another Oreo cookie. I am searching job postings using keywords that sound like things I once did or might know how to do. I am feeling a panic like bees in my chest as I determine there are no jobs I am qualified for. I am entertaining the notion that there is no job I will ever be qualified for again. I am shutting my laptop.

I am not writing. I am taking the dog for a walk. I am saying hello to my neighbor. “How’s it going?” they ask. “Oh, you know, it’s going!” I say from the other side of the street. I am counting my steps with the device on my wrist. I am comparing the steps I took against the calories in the cookies I ate. I am eating another cookie. I am taking the dog out again.

I am not writing. I am cajoling my younger son to do his math homework. I am stage-whisperscreaming at him to not scream as he runs past his brother’s closed door, away from the math homework. I am apologizing to the brother, my older son, who sticks his head out the door and asks “Can he NOT SCREAM while I’m in class?”

I am not writing. I am circling the house, picking up dirty socks, picking up probably-used masks. I am carrying a bundle of socks and underwear and masks down the hall and dropping them in the washing machine. I am taking the clean clothes out of the dryer, the same five sets of clothes each of us have been wearing for the last six months.

I am not writing. I am yelling.
I am yelling about the dirty socks, and the shoes left in front of the refrigerator, and the granola bar wrappers on the floor.
I am yelling up the stairs: “Get on your Zoom meeting!”
I am yelling through the bedroom door: “Get off your tablet, that is enough screen time!”
I am yelling from the front steps: “Come outside, it’s a beautiful day. You’re not going to spend it playing video games!”
I am yelling into the yard: “Guys, no playing football, please! Only one person on the trampoline, please!” “Keep six feet between you and your friend, please! Do you need a mask?”

I am not writing. I am thinking about what to make for dinner tonight, rifling through the refrigerator for ingredients I could put together into something everyone would eat. I am adding the ingredients we don’t have to a list. I am heating up hotdogs for lunch, again, and when that is done, I am checking my purse for hand sanitizer and going to the store to buy the things on the list. To buy more Oreos. To buy more hotdogs. To buy more hand sanitizer.

I am not writing. I am scrolling Twitter, always. I am posting funny memes on Facebook and saying “Because if we didn’t laugh, we’d cry.” I am crying. I am reading the news; I am raging. I am mentally composing searing rebuttals to science-deniers. I am fantasizing about compelling arguments, pithy retorts. I am receiving texts from my sister, from friends.

“This is hell,” they say,
“WTF?” they say. “Can you believe this asshole?” they say.
“I know,” I text back. “OMG, I know.”

But I am not writing.