I'm angry. Again. I'm trying to answer the emails that overflow my inbox and convince a first grader to please for the love of all that is good and holy to finish a grammar worksheet. I'm also making sure a sixth grader is actually writing a short story for her Language Arts class rather than surfing the internet for cat memes. I'm also on day five or six or seven, I don't know really, of headaches, stuffy noses and fatigue. I would rather be in bed recovering from a nasty cold than managing yet another day of virtual school. But that's not a real option.
My partner is up to his ears in an important work project. We still have no child care because of the pandemic. He shares the load at home, but my work remains the most flexible. So, I'm the one that still handles virtual school, and I always have something I have to attend to: virtual school, emails, articles to review and edit, articles to write, email, deadlines to make and email. There are moments of respite, but they never stay around long enough.
I'm angry because I can't work like I used to before the pandemic, even as I know how unrealistic that expectation is. I try to let it go. I can't. I'm angry about all the opportunities that I've turned down. Thanks for thinking of me, I write and say again and again, but I can't do this or that because I can't take on anymore. I'm angry about the book project that I was supposed to work on this year, but has been delegated to the back of my mind. Always present but untouchable. I want to write it, but I can't.
All I seem to say is I can't, I can't, I can't. When I finally can, will there even be opportunities left for me? Or have I missed my shot? I'm angry about what I've lost and how we've been doing this same song and dance for almost a year. It doesn't seem to end.
I'm also angry about all the things that I can't control.
Out of Control
I'm watching my dad decline. He has stage 4 cancer of the brain and lungs. He will never recover from it. We knew that as soon as he was diagnosed over three years ago. We've had more time with him than we ever expected. Now, it feels like we're reaching the end. We recently learned that he has had multiple strokes, and the oncologist keeps reminding us that any interventions are about his quality of life. My dad's declining, and I am so angry that I can't see straight.
I spend some days in a haze of rage and grief. There's absolutely nothing I can do to change the outcome, and I am livid. He's suffering, and all I can do is be there for him and the rest of my family and hope for a little more time.
The pandemic drags on. Over 510,000 Americans are dead, and their deaths could have been prevented. The enormity of these losses is too much to bear, especially when these deaths were preventable with government interventions, mask‐wearing and adherence to social‐distancing recommendations. Yes, people are being vaccinated, which is a cause for hope, but people are still dying from the virus day by day. And I sit at home steeping in my anger and grief.
Meanwhile, some politicians call for unity and suggest we move on from the violence of the Capitol Riot, an attempted insurrection. They urge us to leave it all behind and move forward. And yet, the nation doesn't need false unity, but a reckoning with violence and white supremacy. Finding common ground with white supremacists doesn't get us to justice and equity. We can't have unity with people who don't want us to exist. I'm angry at them too.
When I think my anger has finally receded, something else causes it to flare up again: a new series of articles on women struggling during the pandemic, reports on women's job losses during the pandemic and continued inequity in who gets the vaccine. I want to scream in rage, and I sometimes do.
I've written about my anger before and how it burns so hot because there's too much kindling for the fire. Sometimes, my anger smolders and sputters. I try to bank the fire, keep it contained, but it flares up again and again.
Last year, I couldn't imagine not being angry. I couldn't imagine being calm during a pandemic constantly mismanaged by the national government. There's no room for calm when looking at the wreckage surrounding us. Stay angry, I said, because how could you not be? Anger felt like the legitimate reaction, a necessary one. My anger motivated me and spurred me forward. I'm not sure that it does so now.
My anger remains with me, but now, I'm deeply weary of being so. I didn't even want to write about anger again, and yet, here I am, writing about it anyway. My anger never abates. I'm tired of being angry at everything, of its flares and sputters, of how it burns me from the inside out.
I also don't know how not to be angry or how to push it aside and let it go. And I worry about the costs of my near constant rage. Will it change me into a person I don't want to be? I'm afraid it already has as I white‐knuckle my way through each day while trying to not give in to my anger, so that all that is left of me is ash and smoke.
And I imagine that I'm not alone in my anger, which makes it spark again.