Well, first thing, I gave my site a bit of a long-overdue upgrade. At some point, WordPress started running ads on free accounts, and it had bothered me for a very long time because it looked so unprofessional. And yesterday they had a nice sale on paid accounts, sooo goodbye, ads! I also finally (FINALLY!) got to get rid of the annoying “Colleen M. Hughes” in bold Times New Roman that had been sitting in the top right corner from day 1, conveniently right *above* the banner that also has my name on it. I have wanted that gone from the very beginning. I think I mentioned it in my first blog post. Then I went and tweaked the font just because I can. So I’m happier with it so far. There are still a lot of things I want to fix, mainly the layout of the Plays page, and I need to go through my links and make sure they’re all updated and such, but YAY to the must-fixes finally being fixed.
A lot has changed in my life since the last blog entry. I lost my sweet, lovable, special cat Marmalade very suddenly to lymphoma at the end of last May. It was really rough emotionally and I hadn’t wanted to write about it publicly. The only bright spot in the summer was that I also met a Dave in July, and he’s been a big part of my life since then. (I also got to make a return trip to Coláiste na Rinne in Co. Waterford to continue studying the Irish language, huge thanks to the Fulbright foundation for offering summer Gaeltacht grants.)
And, of course, a lot has changed in the world since my last blog entry too. As anyone reading this somewhere around the date I publish it will know, we’re in the middle of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. Boston, like practically everywhere else, is shut down, with only essential businesses remaining open. My mom is a teacher and has been out of school since noon on March 11 and will not be back till May 4 at the very earliest (if at all). Colleges are closed. People are advised not to go out unless it’s for groceries or medication. “Social distancing” has become a commonplace term.
It’s been strange for me, both in day-to-day life and as an artist. I work from home as the norm, so I’m completely used to it and nothing about my daily work routine has changed. But my living situation is a bit weird… I live in my grandmother’s attic in sort of a faux-apartment (it has a bedroom and a big living room, but no kitchen other than the minifridge/keurig/kettle corner and no bathroom). My grandmother lives on the second floor, and my mom lives on the first floor, along with two of my three brothers. And now all of them are home all day. And with my mom home, I feel sort of obligated to work downstairs in her apartment to keep her company rather than my usual workspace in the attic. And weird things start to bother me, like I can’t have the background noise that I want because I go with whatever my mom decides to have on tv, and I can’t have my cat sitting with me while I’m downstairs. I feel like I’m ignoring him and leaving him all alone, and I hate that. But then if I just stay up in my own space as usual, I feel like I’m ignoring my mom. So that change has been hard, but I’m lucky in that working from home is not a change for me and (so far anyway) my workload hasn’t been negatively impacted.
Writing-wise though, things are tougher. I know all the theatre companies have been hurt badly by having to cancel shows. And once again I’m lucky because it’s not like I make any huge amount of money from my writing, so I didn’t lose anything that would really hurt my financial situation (yet anyway). But I’ve had two one-acts I’m writing for a summer theatre camp, and I’ve been worrying that the camp will have to be cancelled. It’s in August, so we’ll see.
But just getting the plays done in and of itself has been a battle too. My anxiety has been sort of in high gear with the combo of constantly worrying whether every migraine or sign of allergies means I’m sick and have therefore infected everyone I’ve been around and at the same time managing my mom’s anxiety. And I still have all the usual barriers to getting writing done, like the fact that I work such long hours freelancing because I don’t make enough money. And my writing group is meeting virtually, with staggered days for each member to send their play to the group and get written responses from everyone. So instead of carving out one work-free night to devote to feedback, I have to fit in reading and responding to five scripts in addition to the time it takes me to write my own. And I love my writing group and love reading their work… it’s just the “having to fit so many hours into the day” thing that’s been rough. I start to feel a tad jealous of the people who are like “I’m so bored and I have no idea what to do with myself” because I’m scrambling even more so than usual.
But it will all be ok. I have to remind myself that it’s GOOD that I’m so busy. It means I’m still working, still receiving a paycheck. It means I have writing projects to work on. I need all of that when everything else is so uncertain and just seems to get worse every day. Hope you’re all hanging in there too. Ní neart go cur le chéile.