Poem-A-Day 2021, Day 24: Varsha Saraiya-Shah

So many other important things have pushed the Covid death tolls out of the top of the news cycle over the last several months, but we must remember that the landscape out there is still a pandemic, and we still need to take precautions against it, no matter how gloriously bright the light at the end of this wretched tunnel is. According to Johns Hopkins University Covid tracker, as of today, there have been over 571,000 deaths from Covid in the US and over 3 million worldwide. These figures are top of mind today as I read Varsha Saraiya-Shah’s poem “I Speak from Towers of Silence.”

I Speak from Towers of Silence                                                                               

It is spring, people are afraid
to sit on empty benches in parks 
self-distancing. Coffin’s length apart, 
no matter where on the street or at work
dreading a footloose and lethal microbe. 

Hugs are hats hung at the back door.
Babies like flowers can’t stop being born,
mamas in hazmat suits swollen with milk
weep for their misfortune.

Imagine a massing of crows on terrace
gathered for feast to appease the dead.
Vultures plucking at corpses
I wish not to pollute air or water,
earth or fire. Let birds of prey feed on us.

Fire, Good fire, that burns to cleanse us all
of hunger and passion, anger and emptiness.
Assure the earth, it makes us part of our dirt.
Tell the skies, merge in your stardust. 

O Invisible! Can you hear our dirge?
Italians belting out operas alone? 
Tarantellas on balconies? 
Hear the Spaniards banging pots, 
strumming guitars in night skies? 
Indians trumpeting conchs, chanting
Aum, Aum, Aum.

This poem was published at the end of 2020 in A Global Anthology of Poetry Under Lockdown: “Singing In The Dark” by Vintage – Penguin Random House India.


Varsha Saraiya-Shah’s collection “VOICES” was published by Finishing Line Press. Her poems appear in journals such as Borderlands, Cha, Convergence, Echoes of the Cordillera, Mutabilis Press anthologies, Penguin Random House India, Skylark-UK, Soundings East, Kallisto Press, UT Press. Her poetry has aired on Public Radio and performed in multi-language/century dance program: “Poetry in Motion.” Featured on poetry reading panels of Matwaala South Asian Diaspora, WIVLA, and also Asia Pacific Writers & Translators (APWT), she served on Mutabilis Press Board as a Director and Treasurer for several years.

Being an Indian American poet, she wrote in Gujarati during school and college years. Houston’s Inprint House is her Alma Mater and Houston Poetry Fest, a stepping stone into the English journals. Honing the art of poetics continues through studying with esteemed poets at various programs: Sarah Lawrence College, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Tin House, Grackle & Grackle workshops and more.


12 Days of Seasonal Earworms Worthy of Your Love (Day 1)

So Houston’s Official Christmas Music Station started hawking their wares literally a week after Hallowe’en because their tired holiday playlist seems to show up earlier every year. I did not tune my car stereo to it until after Thanksgiving, as is respectable, and of course when I did, it offered very little in the way of original or interesting music. If you’ve been reading my blog for more than a year, you know I offer up some of my own holiday playlist each December so make things more interesting for you.

So today we begin!

I always start with The Waitresses, because “Christmas Wrapping” is one of my favorite Christmas songs and also because for as long as my life is Way Too Busy this song will never not resonate with me hardcore. I have found, during this global pandemic, that I like being a homebody now and then, that I really appreciated not being able to run around for several hours every weekend Getting Things Done. But that doesn’t mean my life (during the school year, at least) has become truly less busy. The workload is epic, I’m sorry to say. But I’m surviving and grateful, in full recognition of the very specific kind of privilege I have that even allows me to grouse to my colleagues about how much extra work teaching in a pandemic is on top of a job that was already, most of the time, Too Much Work.

But I digress. Can you relate to being too busy even to enjoy things you might have been looking forward to sometimes?

The vaccines are on the way. (In the meantime, wear a mask and cover your nose with it, too, so that wearing it actually matters. Please. In related news, I will no longer be running errands at business where the employees fail this simple test of intelligence. Looking at you, closest UPS Store to my house.) We will, I hope and trust, get this virus under control. I hope that those of us who had mindlessly and needlessly cluttered lifestyles won’t revert back to them, but that we become more intentional about things. I’m certainly working on that.

And to pep things up a bit, have a danceable earworm! Happy holidays!

Oh, and P.S. — I still have a couple of spots left in this year’s series that I’ve been reserving for requests, so leave them in the comments if you have them.

Also, P.P.S. — If you want to see previous years’ playlists, click below on the first non-Waitresses day of each one and click through at the bottom to hear them all.
2013 — 12 Days of Christmas Music That Isn’t Awful
2014 — 12 Days of Christmas Music That Doesn’t Suck, 2014 Edition
2015 — 12 Days of Christmas Music That Won’t Turn Your Brain to Goo
2016 — 12 Days of Christmas Music to Improve Your Playlist
2017 — 12 Days of Earworm-Worthy Holiday Music
2018 — 12 Days of Christmas Music to Knock Your Socks Off
2019 — 12 Days of Seasonal Earworms You Need Right Now



Working From Home. Still. So Far.

So about three months or so ago I wrote a post about the pandemic and the coming lockdown and what I thought about why people were losing their minds over it. I generally still stand by what I wrote then, particularly about transitions and information overload and the way we as humans tend to respond to disruptions and anxiety. Today I’m writing about pandemic-related business again.

So three months into this thing, how are we doing?

As a nation, not great. The lack of leadership has been astounding, even compared to the track record over the last three years. I can’t even go into it here. Lots of other people have, and I’ll let them, but suffice it to say this is my current social distancing bingo card.

That said, my daily logistical life has been overall pretty reasonably good. Stable, for the most part. I have found that there are some things about working from home which I rather like. (I was teaching synchronously on Zoom to mostly engaged students, so my experience was maybe anomalous.) I missed seeing my colleagues and my students in person, but working from home in our house is not miserable. We are steeped in good fortune in that sense, since all four of us can work or school from home without being on top of each other, and the kids didn’t have to do school in their bedrooms. I never for a moment forget our privilege in that regard.

But I will also say that working from home had a steep learning curve, for a variety of reasons. (And those reasons weren’t necessarily the same for each member of my family.) I found, as a teacher, that grading on my computer took about three times as long as grading on paper. And for all my apparent wisdom about transitions, I did not allow myself enough of a transition time to move from one modality (teaching in person in a classroom) to the other (teaching on Zoom). So things took a lot longer than I expected, and that caused me some real stress. It took me a while to come to an awareness that my mindset had been struggling to shift and adjust. After a couple of weeks, I accepted that I was still in a kind of transition myself and needed to cut myself some slack over it. Only after the awareness and acceptance could I take meaningful action, which was to get my work actually done. (For what it’s worth, I was not alone in this, even as a teacher; most of my colleagues were going through much the same process.)

In my post a few months ago I noted that I wasn’t panicking or having anxiety attacks, and to my general surprise and delight, that has mostly held true over the last few months. (Knock on wood.) As someone who suffers from anxiety generally and who has felt the existential dread of living under the current regime since it was just a gleam in a crazy person’s eye, I am pleased to report that I’ve had only a very few meltdowns over the last three months, and they were fairly brief.

As I have noted before, action dispels anxiety. For me, that means that I do things rather than stare at the walls in despair — or at least for 85% of the time, I do. That’s just how I cope. I had the necessity of cleaning out my home office (my study, my studio, whatever) so it could become my classroom. It took me three days over Spring Break, but I’ve been generally pleased with the results, and once I finish getting art on the walls, I’ll post about my workspace. (If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll note that my cats like to hang out in here. About a month into distance learning I told my principal I didn’t think I could teach without a cat in the room anymore, so we should think about getting me one for my classroom. He laughed, assuming I was joking. Dear reader, I was not. But that will be a conversation for another day, I suspect — probably in August.)

I’ve been on a major decluttering kick for quite a few years now, and being in lockdown gave my family the opportunity to get some of that done. Well, I saw it as an opportunity. My family (especially the kids) saw it as a chance to prevent Mom from going nuts and throwing out all their stuff. Tomato, tomahto. We’re not completely finished yet. However, stuff got cleaned up and cleaned out, and I’m calling that a win.

One significant revelation I have had is that for the first time since I had kids (and y’all, they’re both teenagers now), I had downtime on the weekends. Yes, it was enforced because where was I going to go? But also, it’s kind of wonderful. I do not miss the hectic-pace lifestyle we had before in which I spent most of every Saturday and Sunday running errands, and wow. Dear reader, we do not want to go back to that.

I have not abandoned my social life, although it has significantly changed. I am grateful to have Zoom so this can be possible. I’ve hosted dance parties, art and jewelry making parties, and had many conversations with faraway friends. My writing critique groups meet online now, and participation is substantially more robust and improved now that we can video conference from home. I’ve even attended the occasional happy hour or game night. All to the good.

On the other hand, out here in the state of Texas, which is badly governed during the best of times, things are becoming stressful. The state did not meet its benchmarks for opening up — I’m not sure any of the fifty states did, by the way, though correct me if I’m wrong on that — and now our cases of COVID-19 are rising significantly. We had been in really good shape, nowhere near capacity in our medical facilities here in Houston at the largest medical center in the world, and now? Can’t really say that anymore. We opened up the state too soon, and while some people are handling this in a mature way, knowing that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something, enough people out there have decided the pandemic must be over because they can hang out in restaurants and bars again.

So let me say this again for anyone who hasn’t gotten the message:

Wash your hands. Wear a mask in public. Stay home if you’re sick or if you don’t have to be out. PLEASE.

Here are a few other reminders of things you’ve probably seen in memes and which are also, in fact, true:

Opening up doesn’t mean the pandemic is gone. It just means they have room for you in the ICU.

We stay home now so that when we can safely get together again, everyone will still be there.

Economies recover. Dead people don’t.

Look, I recognize that this may seem very glib for me to say because I haven’t lost my job and can get pretty much all my absolute necessities met, and because I live in a house that’s enough. It doesn’t mean that everything is easy, though: my kids miss their friends terribly, I miss my friends and family a lot, too, and it would be really great not to have to worry about everything so much. But those of us who have the ability and freedom and privilege to take extra precautions for the safety of ourselves and others should do so.

And in this regard, I recognize that this isn’t all about me. Or my situation. Or even my immediate family’s. It’s about the wider community, and our obligation to be responsible for the wider community, recognizing that our actions are not in isolation, especially when we ourselves are not isolated.

Isolation is not fun. Even the introverts in my house are a little tired of it. And I get that.

But still.

I suspect I will be writing more about this, and I promise it won’t always be in my Stern Teacher Voice. Just wait till you find out about the movies and TV we’ve been catching up on!

Peace out.

Poem-A-Day: Mike Alexander

I first met Mike Alexander — with regard to being a poet, he went by M. Alexander in those days — back in the late 90s at a regular reading series in Houston that was held at a dive bar called The Mausoleum. I think I learned about that series from Bucky Rea, who had been in a poetry class with me in college, and I read at The Maus in that series every now and then. That bar’s owner took the place through several incarnations, including Helios and Avant Garden. In the mid-2000s, I ran a monthly bellydance show there called Eclectic Bellydance; it was a fun and easy gig; the bar’s owner had actually been a member of the first dance troupe I was in, too. I can’t tell you how many concerts and festivals I’ve been to at that place. It’s a Houston institution and has for decades been a haven for artists of all types.

But I digress. As a poet, I’ve always trended toward the reclusive, not attending or even giving readings very often. But eventually I did come back into the scene more regularly and found Mike again at a Mutabilis Press anthology launch party. We were both published in it. Mike also runs a reading series in Houston now called Poetry FIX at Fix Coffee Bar — incidentally, next door to Avant Garden (or whatever it might be called now). That’s a fantastic series.

I’m so pleased to be back in touch with Mike again, and equally pleased that he shares a poem with us on the blog more Aprils than not. He’s extremely adept with form, capable of “hiding” even true rhyme in the clever rhythm of his work. Enjoy this wry and deft critique.



In time of plague we all subscribe
to Exodus. Hysterical,
the paranoia of our tribe
eclipses the merely clerical
dispensaries of diagnosis.
We anodyne the tell-tale sores.
Obedient to a coxcomb Moses,
we butcher lambs, then tag our doors.
Ankh-eyed, mummified & Coptic
at the threshold, one hand reaching
for our dollop of antiseptic,
we echo back the viral preaching.
An angel of quarantine shall slaughter
the firstborn sons of swollen glands.
Believers, see the parting water.
Inoculate. Wash your hands.


Go to this month’s first Poem-A-Day to learn how to participate in a game as part of this year’s series. You can have just a little involvement or go all the way and write a cento. I hope you’ll join in!


Mike Alexander came to Houston in 1996.
Everything here is so extraordinary, it’s hard to define the ordinary. Nevertheless, he contemplates the quotidian every day.

Poem-A-Day: Justin Jamail

If the name on this post sounds familiar, it’s because today’s poem is by my cousin Justin. He lives in New Jersey and works in New York; that should give you significant context for this very recent poem of his. In other news, I love his work not just because it is good, but also because he and I are fairly unique together in a very large family.

This Federal Bower, Misprision

Dieting through the Wednesday we made
of the weekend, constrained by the constraints
of another’s delays, and misprision!  I have made
a dog glad at least and am not a little pleased
at not being pleased that none are better lied
to or fled.  Friends, who I may never meet again,
spring or ramble through a scentless expanse
one is almost tempted to refer to as a universe
before considering that even expanse enthrones
screens with perspectives, just phone light on
the dial of the day.


Go to this month’s first Poem-A-Day to learn how to participate in a game as part of this year’s series. You can have just a little involvement or go all the way and write a cento. I hope you’ll join in!


photo by Amber Reed

Justin Jamail is the author of Exchangeable Bonds (2018, Hanging Loose Press) and has published poems and commentary in many journals and online publications. He is the General Counsel of The New York Botanical Garden. He studied poetry at Columbia University and the UMass Amherst MFA program. He grew up in Houston, TX and now lives in Montclair, NJ.

Poem-A-Day: Fady Joudah

My friend Fady is one of my favorite poets. He recently had a longish poem out in the Los Angeles Review of Books, and if you click on that link you can read it as well as listen to him reading it. I don’t think he expected how much traction this poem would find, but my guess is that’s just his humility. If you are interested in reading some of Fady’s very short poems, you should check out his book Textu (Copper Canyon Press), which were poems all initially composed on his phone as text messages, in a time when text messages were limited in length like tweets are.


The rats are invisible.
The bats are beautiful.
Here’s the livestock and fish market,
and there’s the institute for the biologic.
We’re ravenous. Our hunger travels
in fueled suitcases packed with desires.
The virus is real,
gave up its passport,
stops for no officer
save immunology’s guards
in epidemiology’s tribe.

For decades, millions die every year:
from TB, poverty and malnutrition, attrition,
pneumonia, diarrhea, millions the count
of Spain’s, England’s, or Italy’s population
annually wiped off the earth,
untouchables outside history,
and though their geography be
diverse, it’s short of total.

The pandemic is real.
If hospitals are overwhelmed,
the virus will add to the otherwise
preventable deaths and lawsuits.
Diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure,
our bread and butter,
colonoscopies, too,
and organ transplants
may be placed on hold:
people, there is no human system
for this sort of pandemonium
and there won’t be
unless echo is one.

But if so many die
in a single season,
what will happen to life insurance
firms? If one percent
of Americans die in one swoop,
what will become of grief?
What if rent and mortgages,
utility bills, phone and car payments,
student and small business loans
are waived for a month,
pardoned? What if CEOs
give up their salaries
for 8 weeks so that the faucet
drips the tub full
with buoyancy for all?

The virus is indebted to no one.
Distances close in on us.
The curve and the herd and this
much death on our soil.
Antibiotics, globulins, gloves, masks,
and numerator to denominator
as yin to yang, if we’re lucky,
when the virus returns
it will be wearing less imperial clothes.

Every 2 minutes a child dies of malaria.
Infomercial, how many minutes in a year?
Malaria lyses more than the blood of children
and their mothers. Extreme measures
against the virus should be taken.

This pandemic, one sorrow,
one love, this pandemic hangs
on a strand of the helical tongue.
This pandemic brings me back to eros.
And to hysteria’s translation
in the mind. Pleasure evolved
out of life inside life
wanting no more than life itself.

Then things got sweet,
complicated. Evolution
has some capitalist features
yet isn’t capitalist, and we know
what else evolution isn’t,
we’ve been unimaginative of late,
since we’ve run out of land
but not out of real estate:

the virus teases us
with the bliss to come
after detention is served.
To hold the estranged.
To touch strangers.
An ecstasy worth waiting for.

And our detention is the earth’s respite
from our jets and flues
and wireless energy.
A little rest, not for long.
So, extreme measures, why not?

Have you been displaced by war,
scattered by wind, tattered by abundance?
In the last fourteen days,
have you experienced the endemic flare up
like a bad knee, immobilizer bad,
a migraine in the dark?
Extreme measures,
healthcare a human right,
and infrastructure, infrastructure, people,
culling of militaries, monopolies,
but who’ll go first?

20 million Iraqis ravaged for generations.
20 million Syrians and 20 million Yemenis.
And the curable after excision
with clear margins. The virus doesn’t speak,
doesn’t want to be written,
doesn’t give voice to the voiceless
or pay low wages
to the lowly. And the looting,
always the looting. This kind of talk
is part of the problem not the solution.
Still as a friend said: amidst all this
uncertainty and concern
the camellia in my garden
is glorious and serene
in the knowledge of Spring.

Far and near
the virus becomes our alibi
to obey more in sickness and in wealth.
Far and near the virus awakens
in us a responsibility
to others who will not die
our deaths, nor we theirs,
though we might, but must direct
our urgency to the elderly, our ancestors
who are and aren’t our ancestors.
And to the compromised.
The virus won’t spare the poor
or the young or anyone
with architecture primed for ruin.

This August the quarantine on small joys
should lift. Fifteen years ago this August,
I came back from Darfur
to Hurricane Katrina: it was mostly
Anderson Cooper on TV.
In Gaza the virus breaches
the siege as document of science
and will not exit. Israel offers
to track the virus on cellphones
of the infected, a treasure trove.

Does economy lament? Is it an individual
or a corporation? Can it repent?
Can capital grow catatonic
or speak Chinese?
What is avarice with God or without?
Let’s not say the virus is blaming the patient.
Lacking objectivity these words
don’t dismiss progress, the sample size,
who’ll analyze the data,
or who’ll get the bailout?

Without people there’s no power over the people.
How much for a mosquito net?
Three a year per person
if the swamp isn’t drained
and heaven’s mouth isn’t shut?
During the carving of the Panama Canal.
During penicillin fungating
in shrapnelled limbs.
During smallpox and sex.
What if a pandemic kills
far fewer than other non-pandemic ailments?

The panic’s in the pan,
and vaccines are real.
An organism lives to reproduce
its servant, master, and host.
We’re all equally small.
And after survival,
which shall not be pyrrhic
if measures are enforced,
surveillance will multiply,
careers will be made,
grants will be granted,
a depression aborted, attenuated,
and a call to papers:
spend a penny, save a dime,
invest a nickel, make a quarter.

The birth rate exceeds the mortal wound.
Our overlords will return us to our dreams of forgetting.
And our lords,
who aren’t in heaven,
give us this day
and lead us not
but deliver us
and the pulverized,
if they’re still warm,
if light enough for the breeze.


Go to this month’s first Poem-A-Day to learn how to participate in a game as part of this year’s series. You can have just a little involvement or go all the way and write a cento. I hope you’ll join in!


photo credit Cybele Knowles

Fady Joudah is a practicing physician. His most recent poetry collection is Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance, and his forthcoming one is Tethered to Stars, both from Milkweed Editions.

Monday Earworm: Michael Bruening

So this week I will begin teaching online. I’m looking forward to some aspects of it, although I suspect that the longer it goes on, the more I will sincerely miss being with my students and colleagues all together in one place. Here’s hoping the new dynamic is worthwhile.

In the meantime, I’m hoping to keep other routines in place as much as possible for the sake of easing stress. Still, I suspect my first day online with my students is going to be show-and-tell of our pets…

A Few Thoughts on This Whole Pandemic Thing (And Why I’m Actually Not, Surprisingly, Freaking Out Right Now)

I know everyone is a little on edge right now, and that’s understandable. As a person who openly struggles with anxiety, I really do get it. And I want to start this post by acknowledging that I am definitely taking the coronavirus seriously. It needs to be taken seriously, and we have a moral responsibility to do everything we can to slow down the spread of this disease. I truly believe that and am enacting appropriate measures to that end, not just because I don’t want any more people to catch it but also because our health care system needs to have a chance to catch up and not be overwhelmed. Flatten the curve.

However, I am not panicking. And — again — as someone who openly struggles with anxiety —  and in particular with anxiety when it comes to my health — this probably seems just plain weird. But I want to explain why I’m not freaking out right now, and why I think the rest of us shouldn’t freak out, either.

First, I have some thoughts about why there are long lines at grocery stores, why some of their shelves are empty, why several of the people I’ve encountered lately have been running around half-rabid with panic-furrowed faces. You can read umpteen million articles online about the psychology of scarcity (real or perceived) and the fear-contagion effect, and it’s probably a good idea to do so if you tend toward worrying. You can also read plenty of pieces about the real science and facts behind COVID-19 that will probably calm you down; I recommend this too. And if you want a nerdy and fascinating look at why soap and water are super effective against this and other viruses, check out this tweet-thread.

But the main thing I want to remember during this frenetic moment is that we have been here before. Over the last couple of days, a lot of the worst anxiety I’ve encountered has centered around the idea that “nothing like this has ever happened before,” or the also-popular “we’ve just never seen anything like this before.” And while it’s true that we have not in recent memory encountered a global pandemic while also being “led” by anyone quite like this, if we break the current situation down to some fundamental parts, you’ll see we have been through this before — and we came out of it.

Remember other difficult times? For some of you, that might be 9/11. For some, hurricanes or other natural disasters. The older you are, the more frames of reference you have. We came through those, but they freaked us out while they were ongoing. Sometimes transition times are like watching something scary happening in slow-motion. You think you have an idea of how it’s going to end up, but the moment just keeps going and elongates the apprehension. (And in hindsight, that apprehension gets compressed and some of that feeling goes away.)

So yes, we have indeed been through this before, if you break down what we are currently experiencing into two main parts: transition and information overload.

*  We are in a moment when things are happening quickly around us. Events are being cancelled, places are closing down, our lives are filled with uncertainty. (For some of us, that profound and existential uncertainty has been going on for a good three years at least. This current situation is only compounding it, which makes everything feel exponentially worse.) All of this may feel disappointing at best and unnerving at worst.
*  That uncertainty about the future can be terrifying. So people go to the grocery store and stock up on things related to things that they feel vulnerable about, like toilet paper. (It doesn’t matter that COVID-19 isn’t a diarrheal illness.) Other people see them panic-buying and do it, too. That’s part of the fear-contagion effect. The thing is, panic-buying gives us the illusion of control over our situation, and then when we can’t do it because the shelves are empty, we have the sense of no control, and that causes panic. (See how this cycle feeds itself? Stop panic-buying, please.)
*  Anytime we go into a period of transition, things can feel unsettled, so we can feel unmoored. But the important thing to remember about transitions is that they are, by nature, temporary. We are moving into a series of new habits — working from home and social-distancing, for example — that will probably start to feel normal-ish, or at least not wildly untethered, once we adapt to them. Humans as a species are eminently adaptable, which often bodes well for us.

Information Overload:
*  Let’s talk about our reliance on being plugged in. If humans are adaptable, we must recognize that our newest generation is a little bit cyborg: our technology has become an extension of our selves. As such, we may feel glued to our screens, and those screens may be popping up with push notifications every few minutes with “updates” telling us every time another case of coronavirus has been confirmed in a region near us.
*  While information can be helpful for many people, this hyper-vigilance might actually do more harm than good, because the subconscious urgency of the word “alert” and the phrase “breaking news” causes us, frankly, to go into freak-out mode. This keeps eyeballs on the news, which in turn enriches the people who advertise on the news. It might be worthwhile to just stay away from broadcast news for a little while.
*  Any time we’re in an evolving situation, “news” is going to come in fast and furious and sometimes incorrect. If we checked on it only once a day (or twice a day, spaced out significantly like in the morning and in the evening — but not at bedtime), we would probably be a little more reliably updated and would probably feel less panicked about it.
*  Seriously, unplug. It helps. Find hobbies that aren’t online. If you already have them, enjoy them. We cancelled our Spring Break trip and are staying home. I’m planning to make some visual art and read some books and am really looking forward to it! I find reading fiction and making art to be therapeutic and generally beneficial to my life. What works for you?

Again, I know the coronavirus is something to take seriously. And I am. (See also: We cancelled our vacation and are staying home and practicing social distancing.) We’re washing our hands and disinfecting surfaces. We’re not taking unnecessary risks. And we’re also not panicking.

Bear in mind the actual facts:
*  This virus can be killed with the most ordinary stuff: soap and water. Slay it. It is in your power to do so. Do it.
*  Cases of COVID-19 are going to increase as more people get tested. That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s more of it out there, because it was probably already out there before we started paying attention to it. More people are getting tested now, so it’s going to look like it’s increasing.
*  For the vast majority of cases, this is a relatively mild illness, and the vast majority of people do recover from it. People who are in especially vulnerable populations are more at risk, but most people are not “especially vulnerable,” and we should do what we can to help protect the ones who are. Use common sense and follow the science on this one.
*  This is all going to get worse before it gets better, in part because the news is going to get worse before it gets better. But it will get better.

Avoid speculation and catastrophic thinking. And if you’re prone to anxiety, as I am, this requires conscious effort. But it will help.

In the meantime, what kinds of things do you like to do to de-stress? Share it in the comments below so we can all find some fun new self-care techniques!