Tuesday, April 28, 2020

This is hard, and you're not even doing the hard part

Watching a loved one die via your phone. Working in a hospital. Cashiering all day behind a screen guard at Kroger. Losing your job. Trapped at home with an abusive parent.

No. You're eating too much ice cream and not dyeing your hair. Your husband's grown a beard and looks like a stranger. Still, you have moments of panic that take your breath away. Last night you dreamed that a woman dared you to catch a baby she was about to throw, and then she threw it before you could react. It's a corona dream, your friend tells you,

it's a thing now. 

Bamboo has taken over the backyard of your new-old house, and every afternoon, you dig and pull. The roots stretch and crisscross. When you yank them up, the weedy grass peels up in sheets. It's a decent workout. Okay, you lied before when you said you didn't lose your job.

You weren't surprised when you got the email, but still, it felt like a punch in the gut. Pulling bamboo is a multiple step process.

1. You find where a shoot is coming up and position your shovel under it.
2. Jump hard on the shovel.
3. Lift. (It helps if you position a rock under the shovel for leverage and you've got plenty of those!)
4. Here's where you'll also lift up the root.
5. Pull the root until it breaks off somewhere ten feet away from you. 
6. Find another shoot. Repeat.

Why do people plant bamboo? How long will the library stay closed? How many bamboo roots are there in this yard? What about that elderly woman on the last day the library was open, the regular patron who came in every few days to check out one book and who usually chatted with you, who saw the chaos of the library, the people clearing the shelves of videos and carting baskets of books to the checkout counter, the woman, who when it was her turn, came up with her one book and asked, softly,

What's going on here?

We're closing for a few weeks, you told her, just a precaution, because of the virus, and then in your brightest customer service voice: Why don't you check out a few more books, just in case?

She didn't.

The bamboo runs under the fence into the neighbors' yards. You have no idea how you will stop it. 


  1. Bamboo and covid 19 have a lot in common

  2. I'm so sorry to hear about your job. I know you loved working there. I'm waiting to hear about my job for the next school year.

    1. Thanks, Autumn. I wasn't really surprised but still, it's very sad. Even when the library does reopen, it won't be the same for a long time. And I really fear for school libraries. Already hearing about cuts to librarians.