Essay

Dispatch #084

So Long to a Sorry Year

by Barbara Kazdan

                    I feel blah. Not sad. Not anything. Think I’ve depleted my reserve of good cheer. Which for me is saying a lot. All through the quiet, solitary days of 2020 I’ve been unreasonably resilient. Even when day after day my only contact with family, friends – with anybody – has been virtual, from dawn to day’s end the indicator on my mood barometer registered “steady” or “fair.” So why the change? What’s different about today?
          It’s the last day of a year fraught with fear of a deadly disease when isolation was and remains a first line of defense. A year when masks became the new normal for encounters outside our “pods.” And I developed pod envy.
          - When we savored “conversations” – so what if they were by phone or text - and “meetings with familiar faces” via Zoom, FaceTime or Skype.
          - When those who live alone, including me, relied on TV and radio to break the silence.
          - When fear of flight brought home the full impact of a mobile society that scattered love ones across vast geographical expanses.
          - When the universe marked me “absent” at milestone events – a birth and a high school graduation - of my youngest and eldest granddaughters.
          - When at great risk, yielding to overwhelming desire, I crossed the country by plane to meet my son’s firstborn, my late-life bonus grandbaby - when she was eight months old. And waved goodbye wondering when I’d hold her again. Would she be walking and talking by then?

          Today, after this sorry year, why am I in a funk? With a liberating, fear-erasing vaccine in my future, what has dimmed my bright disposition? I feel this way every year during the nowhere-to-go-no-one-to-be-with holiday season, second only to the last weeks of summer, when everyone except me vacates the city and one blank calendar page follows another until after Labor Day? But this is different. An endurance test I’m failing. In this “can’t go there, can’t do that year” I’m giving myself permission to wallow.
Sent to us on: February 10, 2021

How will the Coronavirus Pandemic shape storytelling for the years to come? 

Calling all Dispatchers!

San Francisco Creative Writing Institute is pleased to announce we were awarded California Arts Council Local Impact Grant! 

With support from the California Arts Council, San Francisco Creative Writing Institute will present Dispatches from Quarantine: hybrid storytelling events and writing workshops. 

The project is scheduled from January 2023 to August 2023!

We will be broadcasting the public readings and discussions on our youtube channel as well as hosting four creative writing workshops with writers from diverse genres. The project will continue to be interactive as we will encourage viewers/participants to send in their “dispatches” to be published on our blog, keeping it alive as a living document.

 We invite you to submit a dispatch: 

Suggested Theme:

What is your Covid story? How will you tell it? 

You can send submissions in any format to us via email at: All genres will be considered for publication on the blog. submissions@dispatchesfromquarantine.co  The theme should be somehow related to this time of Coronavirus. We are particularly interested in posts/ideas/writings from 2022-23.

Submissions can be sent by email to: submissions@dispatchesfromquarantine.co

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