What I Did in the Pandemic: Journaling of Course

March 13, 2024
I sketched incessantly during the Pandemic. More than is even normal for me, which of course is a lot. And I did about 90 percent of it with dried out markers. Most of my tools and materials were already packed for a move that would last for over 4 years. Who knows where all my stuff is at this point? And some of the markers I will find I’m sure will have dried out in storage!

Roz: I used to go out and overlisten…can’t think of the word…eavesdrop.

Dick: Yeah, “overlisten”: You made up a new word for overhearing.

[Above: an actual conversation recorded on an index page.]

Returning readers will know that there were some digital glitches just when the Pandemic got started. My Drobo died and had to rebuild (and am still working on this) my digital archive. Oh, boy!

And I lost some digital files in the 32 terabytes of data. (All of which is a long story involving a lot of details about how files are saved in different platforms. Does your head hurt? Mine sure does.)

But now that I’m essentially trapped in the house recovering from what I like to call “the exploding leg” I’ve been rebuilding my digital index for my journals.

It’s been a shitload of work: sorting, checking, and then retyping hundreds—certainly thousands by the time I’m finished—of entries.

But the process has some really fun moments of discovery, memory, and plain goofiness. The dialog at the start of this post is one of those moments.

In the same journal—Volume B 20, which is the second (B) journal from 2020 which spanned February 20 to April 27 and is one of those wonderful Hahnemühle Travel Journals that’s like a Moleskine notebook on steroids, but with better paper [at least for me as it has none of the odor of the Moleskine which gives me a headache]—there are over 120 pages of me drawing my little heart out and commenting on the television shows (this was before the writers’ strike) I was watching, and the events I was witnessing, and the general thoughts I was having about life in the Pandemic and the fact that Dick and I had just bought a house at Lockdown. 

I look at this book and it makes me smile. It reminds me I’m adaptable. (I work at home and at the time I exercised by riding my bike so I was pretty self contained.) The pages show my gratitude for and recognition of the luck in my life that Dick and I were safe and had funds and toilet paper! And the good fortune that our family and friends were well.

I was also in the best health of my life that year—I made a fabulous comeback on the bike after an ankle injury involving steps in a house we were viewing (and which we did not buy). The partially collapsed lung and other breathing issues were not even on the horizon.

That’s rubber stamp reinker applied with a dauber through a couple different and randomly applied stencils.

The book is full of brush pen sketches with some watercolor, some Montana Marker and a little rubber stamp ink stenciling (well one piece, I’ll insert it here because I can’t find it in the blog list.)

Just page after page of me keeping my hand busy and thinking about life.

Oh, and of course recipes. Things I was experimenting with for the first time because we weren’t eating out during Covid, or even doing take out. (Because while I wasn’t experiencing any respiratory issues in 2020 I had a history of them and we were erring on the safe side—a single bout of bronchitis would typically knock me out for 4 to 8 months.)

As I went through the journal re-reading the pages so I could index the contents I felt a great sense of happiness flood through me. There was a lot on those pages that was difficult and sad, but I kept my spirits up and most important—I kept my sense of humor.

Let’s Journal

I’ll leave you with this one thought from my B20 journal. I was asked to give a talk about poetry at the Journal Collective (a Zoom meeting). Sure, I thought about what I wanted to say. I thought about how to condense it. (All those years studying literature!)

I wrote out my ideas on three tightly crammed (but decoratively lettered) pages. I’d read something and I’d write it down: Aristotle—”Man is a social animal.” I thought people could make a lot of poetry off of that in the Pandemic.

Someone said something and I wrote it down. Bill Maher said “I’m this close to writing a manifesto.” I wrote it down. “Manifesto” has a lot of meanings in our culture and Maher was alluding to all of them when he said that. Sometimes we have to take those feelings and write a poem. So in my talk I suggested everyone needs to write his/her/their manifesto.’

No matter how you weathered the Pandemic, and no matter what effects you’re currently still dealing with, it never hurts to write a poem.

Sit down, look back in your journals for the Pandemic. Your journals will tell you what you did, what you missed and longed for, and how you adjusted. Dust off your sense of humor, and begin.


and get out there and overlisten!

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