My first Women and Words post comes to you while I’m hunkered down in my house, attempting to keep out record-high levels of hazardous smoke generated from wildfires all over the West Coast. I’ve been unable to go outside for four days because the smoke is so thick, I can’t breathe. Even an N-95 type of mask won’t cut it. The Portland area is very nearly surrounded by fire, and we’re getting smoke from California and Washington, too, so the amount of smog that generates is quite simply unbelievable.
You would think that would cause a writer to use the time to write, but instead, I worry.
I worry because a million acres of Oregon have burned and two whole towns, so far, are destroyed. I worry because ten percent of our state is in evacuation zones, and 40,000 have already been displaced. I worry because at the same time that we have a virus pandemic sweeping our country, people all across the nation are homeless, under-employed, experiencing food insecurity, and grieving the loss of a couple hundred thousand Americans to the coronavirus.
Closer to home, I worry about my family. My father and all six of my sisters and brothers and their kids are suffering from this hazardous air. My neighbors, young and old, are coughing and wheezing and headachy just as I am. I also have friends in a world of trouble. Catherine Wilson, author of the fantastic When Women Were Warriors series, has lost her entire house, burnt to a crisp in the California wildfires.
In my six decades of life, I have never lived through such a difficult time: a pandemic, wildfires, widespread pollution, police brutality toward Black men, people of color, and protesters in general, tornadoes in the south, hurricanes on the East Coast, economic recession, political acrimony, the muzzling of the press, and more. We are in a Crisis of Crises with no effective national leadership. On the West Coast, we are lucky to have three talented governors, but state governments can only do so much.
So I worry. Nationally and globally, I feel helpless. Locally, however, I feel more hopeful. I see food contributions and distribution has stepped up. Neighbors are helping one another. The Internet allows us to video-conference with people we’re not able to see in person. Catherine Wilson’s Gofundme page received the funds she needed to help her move to a safe place. People are grieving together.
While I am worrying, I’m also incredibly grateful for the fantastic books written by so many caring lesbian authors. The days go by much more pleasantly with something good to read.
I very much wish that I could have made my inaugural post a happy and cheery missive filled with humor and free gifts, but I can’t do it today. Maybe next time.