Pruning the Peace Lily – April 2020 Month in Review

I have one houseplant, a peace lily, probably, which I was given my last day of teaching. Its name is Wolverine, for it is practically indestructible (at least for a few decades) no matter if I water or don’t water, if I feed or don’t feed, if I give it too much or too little sun, if it’s cold or warm.

I, it should be noted, am nothing like Wolverine.

But, inspired by a friend who is putting an entire garden in her yard and my sister-in-law, who is a gardener, I figured I could take on a few potted plants during this time. I got them (the plants, not the friend and the sister-in-law) about a week ago, herbs, mostly, and some lavender that I refuse to use in cooking. Thanks to the internet, they are flourishing (read: not dead or dying) after seven whole days in my care.

I’ve even pruned my peace lily, which sounds a lot more suggestive than it should.

And here’s the thing, boys and girls. It’s not a peace lily at all. About three minutes on the web taught me it’s an Aglaonema Modestum.

Probably.

I’ve had the thing for a decade. Didn’t even know what it was. I just hope that now that I know what it is, now that it has the right name, that I won’t kill it.

Pandemic. The Age of Discover and D’oh.


I don’t feel like I’m quite doing (*gestures vaguely*) right. I struggle to assess and then control my well-being and the well-being of the littles in my care. Trying to go about my social media life per normal. Pain and grief are real and visceral, as are the in-between moments of joy because we’re human and joy grows in the cracks like a dandelion in pavement. It all feels gauche and oh-so-human. I can’t find words most days, and I know that even if I tried to express what this is and how it feels semi-publicly, someone would pop up like clockwork, telling me to cheer up or simmer down or think of the children, and I bristle at that in non-pandemic times. So for now I keep making stupid posts and occasionally not-so-stupid ones.

I’m pruning my life right now without the help of the internet. Hopefully I won’t snip off something critical that can’t be regrown. If the not-peace-lily can survive despite my not knowing what to call it, so can I in the middle of whatever this is and however it feels.

It’s a lot to figure this all out and do it in a way that honors the jumble of things


Baking is the Covi-19 bandwagon I’ve not just boarded, but have paid full price for a first class ticket. I am, if need be, prepared to help my fellow passengers in case of emergency. The other day I made a Nutella Peanut Butter cake. It is a pastry version of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and now I’ve peaked, baking-wise.


My daughter celebrated a quarantine birthday, and, somehow, declared it “best birthday ever” which made me sob after she went to bed. Because truly, it was not. I think she mistook lavish attention and my hovering-not-hovering for excitement and focus. We did the best we could, trying to combine all her favorite things (reptiles and Harry Potter and cake) while gently honoring the bad parts.


Writing continues. Writing is slow these days. I feel so guarded with my words. April’s work dealt with characters wrestling with religion. Dealing with my characters’ issues and beliefs has required me to consider my own. All I can do is hold it all up to the light and see what is most truthful for me and for the story.


Highlights from April

  • I’ve been savoring Many Alarm Clocks, reading one entry every few days. I love Sy Safransky’s words and am often inspired to write about what he explores in any given essay. Highly recommend.
  • I’m also enjoying Wanderers, although I am unable to focus for more than a few pages at a time on anything  — that’s a pandemic thing, not a Chuck Wendig thing. His writing is whimsical and hilarious and a bit nutty, a really cool counterpoint to the plot…which is about a pandemic.
  • Still knitting socks. Back to using a worsted weight yarn and making a pair of lounging socks because why not.
  • My motivation for (constant) cleaning is to listen to ebooks. Right now I’m knee-deep in Olive Kitteridge. I do love a good short story, and I’m a fan of Strout’s lush descriptions and seemingly effortless characterization (which likely means she busted her hump to get them like that.)
  • I am not a basketball fan. I do not understand the sport beyond the basics – 5 people per team, get ball in hoop, dribble. And yet – and yet – I am riveted by The Last Dance docu-series. It’s positively Shakespearean and the editors and director all deserve all of the awards and probably a championship ring or a big ol’ wreath of flowers or a Quidditch cup.
  • Channel surfing at night brought me to the Soundbreaking series. Episode 7 of season 1 made me nostalgic…more so than finding a picture of me from my junior prom, which I also did this week.
  • Spoiler alert: Yes. Yes, they are.
  • One of my new favorite poems
  • And now for something completely different: I’m pretty sure Al and I would be good buddies. Come over for cake, Al.

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