Artist & Writer, San Francisco Bay Area

Nesting in Place

As of 3pm on Friday, March 20th, 2020:

It’s the fourth day of shelter in place. Doing school with my youngest at home is a huge change when he depends on routines and support from staff to manage autism of the PDA variety. It’s the first day that he and I have managed to have a solid “plan” for his schoolwork. We can plan to do things, but for both of us, every step needs flexibility (just trying = success), creativity for execution (how about we go outside?), sacrifice (OK, use *my* laptop), and compassion (oh, you’re actually overwhelmed)…and… lots of focus and patience (for both of us!). 

I started preparing for this not-going-out several weeks ago. I’d just finished reading Factfulness. It undid lots of typical reasons people fear for the future of the world, then highlighted real risks like, uh… pandemics.  I saw the numbers of sick people increasing exponentially out of the Hubei province in China, and I knew it was just a matter of time. Also, strangely enough, before I’d even heard of any new virus, I finished two novels whose stories are immersed in life during a pandemic. (Fever 1793 about yellow fever in Philadelphia, and The Murmur of Bees about Spanish Flu in Mexico.) So…. maybe the confluence of these got me to start building up the emergency supplies I should’ve already had on hand. I say “should’ve” because emergencies are inevitable and lately, they’re annual. Each earthquake and fire season forced me to prepare a little more, but I didn’t have the food stuff yet. So I did some grocery shopping, even though I was worried I’d be accused of being a panicked alarmist.

So me and mine are fully stocked and protected in our home, we have internet, our main income hasn’t abruptly dried up, and we like each other. We have all we need and more than we need. I’m not only praying for my healthcare worker friends, gig economy friends,  and retail/food industry friends, but I’m also praying for the vulnerable populations that depend on services for food, shelter, and safety. Especially the ones who need safety. I’m praying for people trapped in abusive situations even more than they were before. I’m praying for the people who’ve dedicated their lives to serving the hurting, that they can work proactively to help people, that they can be creative with solutions. I’m praying for us all to open our eyes and help anyone who needs help. I have no idea what life will look like for me or for anyone in six months. Sure, this too shall pass, but life will certainly change drastically around the world. and I have no idea how our immune systems will respond to this virus when we get it. I don’t know who we’ll lose. I’ll probably be surprised by some that survive and by some that don’t. Who will I have to say goodbye to? Who in my own family? Whose funerals will I have to attend… or not get to attend? 

I love my abuelita’s saying now even more than before: Si no tiene solución, ¿para qué te preocupas? Y si tiene solución, ¿para qué te preocupas? That’s: If you don’t have a solution, why are you worried? If you have a solution, why are you worried? My mom started teaching me this lesson early; it helps that I don’t have clinical anxiety. I think I understand even more how I’m not supposed to worry about tomorrow, even though if there was ever a time to worry about our tomorrows, now might seem to be the time. But what good is it to worry in advance about not being able to prepare in advance for things I can’t even imagine? To say it more simply: Why worry about things I can’t control? When I remember “Do not fret, it leads only to evil,” I understand it on a more practical level now. Anyway, truth told, I’m a homebody, so as far as day to day life goes, I’m managing fine. (It’s possible I’m cherishing the coziness even as things are most definitely not fine.)  I miss my studio schedule, but I’m nesting. I’m doing house projects for which I’d collected all the tidbits and tools, but until now, hadn’t found the time. I’m even slowing down enough to return the hammer/drill/tape to where each belongs. I’ve even hung the pegboard for organizing the tools to begin with! (Jury is out regarding if I will be able to keep up the putting-things-back-where-they-belong. I’m the worst offender in my family.) I can spend energy on creatively coming up with scary possibilities and get angry about my helplessness, or I can spend my energy on finding what I can take action on, not losing sight of who I am or who I aim to be. So that’s what I’m trying to do.

More posts coming soon, about:

      • Art I’m working on right now
      • My upcoming show at ArtemisSF and how it’s gonna be online now!
      • and maybe…. making art lessons for my preschoolers?


Wishing you wellness,

~ Maritza Ruiz-Kim

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