Pandemic Diary: Getting out of bed to protest–also, to make breakfast–during a global pandemic


Another day of not wanting to do things, not wanting to get out of bed, not wanting to teach the workshop I so lovingly designed, not wanting to deal with dogs, children, family.

Sean takes our beast for her early morning walk and when I finally come up to the kitchen to start my day’s work—don’t want to do it—he is on his hands and knees washing the kitchen and living room floor. “Pee or puke,” I ask, don’t really care. “Muddy paw prints,” he says. He didn’t want to walk the dog either, doesn’t want to start his day washing the kitchen floor. I should feel grateful.

I don’t.

I do wonder—did he want to get out of bed?

Probably not—the whole world does not want to get out of bed right now.

But. We do.


Something good: yesterday, after Flora and I get back from the Black Lives Matter vigil and Sean picks up Cinder from work—Ender is violating lockdown rules and having a sleepover with his grandmother and cousins, ssshhh, don’t tell the self-appointed sanctimonious “deprive yourself of all human contact until there’s a vaccine” quarantine police—we kind of reaffirm the beauty, the power—the necessity—of the ordinary. We take our furry beast for a rumble on the hill. Then, Sean makes us gin and elder flower tonics in badly washed martini glasses. We sit on the balcony watching a storm approach. So many things we should tak about, but this calm before the storm is precious, and we are exhausted.

So. We don’t.

The teenagers come down to join us. And take us on a trip down memory lane… and alos, carefully, tenderly… look to the future.

When I start to chase Flora to bed a couple of hours later, she protests.

“I’m enjoying family time!” she says.

We look at anti-racist memes on Insta and Twitter together for a while longer.

I am, in the middle of battle and uncertainty, very briefly, at peace.


Out of bed. Pen. Notebook. Coffee. But this is not  a happy moment, for I don’t want to do any of the things that usually bring me joy, and the things to which deadlines are attached I want to do even less. Also, I hate people, all people, even you, and hate is an ugly, exhausting emotion, I want it gone.

Coffee. Pen. Paper. Words. My prayer, my meditation.

Halfway down page two, I feel at peace.

It’s gone by the halfway point of page three. Still. It’s something.


Something’s got to give, break, crack, change.

The Black Lives Matter protests  in the streets, peaceful in Canada and most other countries, intermittently crossing the line into fire and violence in the US, are an external manifestation of this individual, internal feeling in my heart, perhaps in yours. They are the foment—not yet the explosion. Not yet the change.

Something’s got to give.

The pressure is building.


I get out of bed, pen, paper, coffee, words, and then, all the things, because, one day, Cinder and Ender’s children—Flora does not plan to use her uterus—will ask me, “What did you do in 2020, Babciu,” and I don’t want to say, that was the year I didn’t get ouf of bed, that was the year I suffered, whined, complained, wanted to be over.

But it’s very hard. I wonder if I’ll remember to tell them that.

I did the things we had to do. But it was very hard. 2020, the year that you will remember as the year that changed the world? That was the year that it was very hard to get out of bed.


I did.



PS Yesterday’s vigil in yyc can be viewed here:

Pandemic Diary: Protests in the time of the Pandemic

(Note: this isn’t really a post, it’s a collection of notes from my journal.)


June 1

My son turned 18 last week and, you know, when he walks down the street? Takes the bus to work? Gets pulled over by the police for any reason, goes to a bar with friends? (OMG, my baby can go to a bar with friends now, when did that happen—right, last week!)

I never worry that he’ll be shot by the police.

Or even treated unfairly by them.

I mean, I have a lot of other worries. Obviously. I’m a mother.

That one?

Never, ever.

I never worry that my son will be shot by the police.

My Black American friends? They’re devoured by that fear every time one of their kids, loves, siblings walks the street.

I never truly understood this until this week.

I will never be able to really comprehend that fear—or how emotionally damaging it is. Simply imagining it causes me pin.

How did we build a world in which that is a thing?

More importantly: how do we change it?


June 2

I am still having a hard time getting out of bed. Doing anything. Moving.

But this week, I am attending, children in tow, Black Lives Matter protests, marches, a vigil.

I haven’t been inside a store or a coffee shop since they’ve re-opened. Not getting a hair cut this summer. Not holding any parties. Wearing a mask to the grocery store so that your Grandma doesn’t die, choking, because we’re out of ventilators.

Because everyone has the right to breathe.


June 3

As the Black Lives Matter / George Floyd protests were escalating in the US and beginning in Canada and around the world, I ran away for a day to Kananaskis Country, an expanse of wilderness, mountains, lakes and hiking trails about an hour’s drive from my city.

Yes, Paradise.

That’s privilege, by the way. White privilege: being able to run away. Step away from the conversation, conflict about race.

Black people, people of colour do not get to take a break from that reality.

That’s privilege. And so is this.

On the way to Paradise, my friend and I stopped at a gas station and my friend, who had been driving, discovered he had left his wallet at home.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They give you 24 hours to produce a driver’s licence when they pull you over.”

“They give YOU 24 hours to produce a driver’s licence when they pull you over,” he said, handing me the keys. “I’m not a white girl, remember? Here. You drive.”

Later, I tell the story to Flora. As I get to the part when I say, “They give you 24 hours to produce a driver’s licence,” she interrupts me.

“Wow, what a white privilege thing to say.”

I’m proud of her.

And ashamed of our world. Because, people, how fucked up is that? We know the police will go out of their way to NOT give me a ticket. To not inconvenience me.

My friend? He’d better not step over any lines. Ever.

We need to change this.


June 4

It’s the moment before I open the laptop, reach for the phone. The day is still ok. I’ve done my morning pages, cuddled the Ender and the dogs. An drinking coffee. Am thinking, I might do things today. Today might be a beautiful day.

I reach for the laptop, I check my newsfeeds—I fuck it all up.

I don’t know how to navigate this right now, people. Under most circumstances, I’d shut the tap off. But right now, that acts smacks more of cowardice than self-care. I think of my Black activist friends—and strangers—who just can’t do that. I think of the parents, families of George Floyd. Breonna Taylor.

David McAtee.

So many names I don’t know, didn’t notice, didn’t pay attention to. The Washington Post reports that since Jan. 1, 2015, 1,252 Black people have been shot and killed by the American police.


(You should read/listen to this, by the way:

I am a conflict-avoidant coward. I am not an organizer. And I think most of the time, I’m a shitty ally, too wrapped up in my own story to really pay attention to the experience of others.

The least I can do right now is to bear witness.

I see your pain.

I see the injustice.

I don’t know what the fuck to do, honestly.

But. I witness.


Pandemic Diary: Evil thoughts on Day 40+ of the Cuarentana


It’s been more than 40 days in cuarentana—which means, by the way, 40 days, remember your high school French, Spanish, Latin? And I’m lying in the sun on my balcony listening to the cacophony of birds singing, dogs fighting, kids gaming and I’m thinking I’ll probably skip the Zoom seminar on Instagram Ads for authors I’ have scheduled for today and just sit in the sun and drink coffee and then smoke a cigar and maybe write in the afternoon but maybe not and maybe go for a walk in the sun, with or without dogs, with or without children, and maybe stand on a bridge over our swelling river and play Pooh sticks with Ender or maybe, not leave the balcony at all today—tell the kids to walk the dogs and just chill in the stillness.

Today, I exist and the stillness is welcome.


My back has throbbed with the pain of a decade ago for about a week now. Why? Well, plague and locusts, really—I’m not seeing the motherfucking sadist who saved my life back then and who keeps me walking now, and also, I’m drinking too much and the sugars in the alcohol feed the inflammation of the root disease, also, first bike ride of the season with Ender on a bike too big for me, and also, frankly, stress, low-grade level buzzing anxiety, everything is inter-related.

The pain, while not awesome in and of itself, is worst because of the memories it brings, feelings forgotten but not expunged.

I suffer, I medicate, I push through—I get help.

And I think about all the different definitions of essential.

My daughter’s medical and psychiatric care is not considered essential. Neither is alleviating the pain that prevents me from being able to stand in the kitchen long enough to prepare supper: I peel potatoes supine on the floor.

But I suppose if one of us broke a leg…

Quarantine thoughts, first world whines.


Alberta’s rural un-elite decide to join their American half-wit brethren in protesting “lockdowns” as an infringement of their civil liberties Never mind that we’re not in lockdown here, never mind that they live in the middle of butt-fuck nowhere, where physical distancing is just the way life is anyway.

It would be funny it if weren’t so sad, and I’d mock them if I didn’t actually understand their frustrations. There wasn’t that much going in Little Town on the Prairie anyway, and now the government has ordered the closure of their one bar and playground and told people not to visit their neighbours? And why? Because a thousand people in Calgary have a cold?

I get the thinking. Totally. Still. An evil part of me wants to expose myself to the coronavrius and, coughing and snotty, attend their lockdown protests and sneeze and cough on everyone. Then, I think we should up the ante—proactively organize, say, some white supremacist rallies, and then release the infected among them….

Quarantine thoughts. Shut up. I won’t do it. The virus ain’t lethal enough, for one, for two, I just think evil things a lot. I do them only rarely.


I don’t think I will do much today. Walk the dogs, feed the kids, read a book. Coffee, cigar. Bath? Right now, in the sun, on the balcony, that seems like too much effort, involves climbing of stairs, running of water. Today is a don’t do very much day, move slowly—or not at all—day. Listen to the pain day. Think the thoughts—but don’t act on them—day.

Sit in the sun day.

Be still in the Quarantine day.