Yes, yes, basically I’m doing all the good and right things I should have been doing all along. I’m saving my vegetable scraps and chicken bones and making soup stock with them. I cook everything from scratch now. I’m thinking very consciously about food and where it comes from because it is now harder to (safely) get and when we run out of things we often can’t get them again so easily. I’m thinking about the long chain of people involved in getting certain foods to me — maple syrup, crackers, cereal. The shorter chains are safer and more reliable — fruits and vegetables (which we get almost directly from the farms, in a delivery box). I save every bit of cardboard for my child to make things with since he’s so bored and this is what we have. I usually buy lots of things through Amazon, I know, it’s terrible. But the way Amazon has slowed down has made me use it less. The instant gratification was paramount to never having to think about what you were doing. Staring at all the delayed shipping times makes me think twice and that’s long enough to lose the appetite. Also, honestly, I’m stressed about money. It’s not obvious how I’m going to make it through the year with everything cancelled, so it’s just better to spend as little as possible. I barely drive now. I’ve used the same tank of gas this entire quarantine. I was planning on taking four airplane flights this month, to promote my book. I was looking forward to that with no thought of it was really necessary. It was, and now it’s not. I think more often about the weekly fee of the woman who usually cleans our house; a fee we are still paying, as I clean. I have no problem with this, especially as I now value what she does so much more acutely. We could pay her more. I usually do not like to think about any of these things. I know it’s wrong and I even have a feeling, in regular life, that I’m kind of sleeping with the devil, coasting by, using Amazon and prioritizing my creative work over everything else as the world goes to hell. I have often thought that I would be ok with shifting my priorities if only someone would tell me I had to. If only everyone was doing it. It’s complicated for a woman because so many of these good environmental practices, this consciousness, dovetail with a kind of totally engaged domesticity that, for many of us, it has taken a lifetime of willpower to overcome. To assert that the best use of me is not necessarily in the kitchen or even the home; that I might prioritize my work without being a bad mother or wife. I’ve been able to “do it all”, have this career and be there for my child, with the help of the cleaning lady and Amazon and food delivery and lots of other little short cuts that now are less quick and more dangerous — for other people and me. The point is that many of them always were, in terms of the environment. This cost was always there and global warming is much starker, less recoverable than this pandemic. So I am muddling through these issues, as a mom, feminist, full-time working artist. I do see that, as with anything, a compromise can be made. I might get a little less done in this lifetime but perhaps this lifetime will be better for it; certainly future lifetimes depend on reprioritizing, as a species. And I am utterly moved by this period of global solidarity — once seen it can’t be unseen. I believe it might counterbalance the digital revolution, which previously would have been the most striking transformation in my lifetime.
Miranda July is a filmmaker, writer and artist.