A Piece of Something Greater

As I reflect on the life I’m currently living, one marked by solitude and distance chosen over potential social engagement and closeness due to the risks of the on-going pandemic, I find myself thinking about all the moments in my life that I actually felt like I was a part of something larger than myself. Generally speaking, these moments happened in crowds or as part of some collective action since I’ve never really been one to attach my sense of self to a cause or group identity (like fandoms or social archetypes), and there are far fewer of them than I thought there’d be when I started this reflection. As I’ve worked through it, though, it started to make more sense. After all, my childhood was marked by a sense of being lesser-than, my college years were filled with me attempting to rationalize that sense of self with the way other people treated me (both those who treated me well and those who took advantage of me), and my entire life has been marked by a desire to avoid chaos, crowds, and spaces in which I have no control. It is no wonder I rarely felt like I was a part of something more than myself, though it does hurt a bit to realize how rarely I felt like that in spite of how frequently I sought it out.

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Stealing Zoo Terminology To Talk About Pandemic Isolation

One of my favorite things about having friends in various industries is that most of them introduce new terms and ideas to me that have very specific meanings in their industry. One of my friends is a chef, so I’ve learned a lot of super specific words related to food preparation and the various utensils found in a kitchen. Another friend is zookeeper, so I’ve learned a great deal of terms from that industry and how they’re used for specific purposes. Like “enrichment.” In the context of zookeeping, it is the stuff zookeepers provide for the animals to ensure they live interesting, varied lives so that the animals can stay intellectually and physically stimulated. It has been a wonderful word to have over the past 1.75 years of the pandemic, since it has helped draw my attention to the shortfalls of my life that need to be addressed.

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Breaking Protocol

“Thank you all for gathering on short notice.” Harry sat in his chair with the light of his monitor reflecting off his glasses. “I know these are hard times, but I’m glad we can still gather quickly as the need arises.”

Harry focused his eyes on his webcam, doing what that guide to video conferencing had told him to give the illusion of eye contact to the people on the call. It was tricky to maintain, but he’d had a lot of practice.

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Talking To Myself

Most people
when they chuckle
and
admit
to talking to themselves
offer the
explanation
that they just don’t like
silence
or that they’re
thinking out loud
Me
I do it to
drown out the whispers
in my head
hoping
against hope
that if I can
somehow manage
to talk loud enough
I can ignore them
It
never works
because there is a
slight hint of
insanity
that creeps
into my voice
and a
primal sort of
wild
tautness
to the muscles of my face
that just SCREAMS
of the whispers
hidden behind the
animated comments
and
self-narrative
that rambles out
of my mouth
It only seems
to emphasize
the
silence
outside my head
and the
color within it
I need
to stop living
alone
It’s too quiet here
especially when
I’m
the only one
making
all the noise