Ending these essays

On June 11th the state of Illinois will move to stage 5.

I received my second vaccination more than a month ago and life seems to be returning to what it was a year and a half ago.

Many states completely opened earlier of course, unconcerned about viruses or vaccinations.

There remains much to think about and ponder, much has been clarified, there remains plenty to be discouraged with, and much that persistently renews my hopes. These essays and this newsletter have spoken about much of that. I have written over 113,000 words — about 450 pages…

(Quarantine Essay #113)

In a sense, the pandemic is ending, but only in a sense. And only in some places.

Sitting with my friend Ron on the patio outside our local coffee shop, we noted the increasing number of people out and about. There was more traffic in the streets and more conversation in the air. Dramatically different from a year ago or even last month.

We learned yesterday that Biden wants all states to get 70% of their populations vaccinated by July 4. Some states (Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts) are already there, while other states lag far behind…

(Quarantine Essay #112)

Shel Silverstein

It’s less than one month since my birthday. I still like birthdays even as I have collected several dozen. I’m hoping for a couple dozen more.

Remember when you wanted to “be big”? Big meant old enough to do more than a three-year-old could do. A story my parents told about me concerned the boy who lived up the road from grandpa’s. If I went up there to play, I might get into all sorts of trouble, so sometimes they told me no. They weren’t going to let me go. …

(Quarantine Essay #111)

Since the beginning of the pandemic, my circadian rhythms have been off-kilter. The circadian cycle (from the Latin circa and dei, around-the-day) is the 24-hour rhythm of our lives. Not just our lives, but those of many plants, animals, fungi, and some bacteria.

But this week, I’m thinking about another kind of rhythm: the rhythm of the cicadas. Every seventeen years, unique to the United States, billions of cicadas emerge from hibernation. Some cicadas are on thirteen-year cycles, but the group this spring and summer (called Brood X) are on a seventeen-year cycle. Nature loves a prime number. …

(Quarantine Essay #110)

This year, the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination falls on Easter Sunday.

One year before that day, King had come out publicly against the Vietnam War. He was on the verge of leading the Poor People’s March on Washington, DC. It has always seemed plausible and possible that these events provoked a conspiracy to kill him and that his assassination was more than the work of a lone gunman. Similar suspicions surrounded the shooting of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

Obery Hendricks comments in today’s Bias Magazine: “it might be said that King’s April 4…

(Quarantine Essay #109)

I wrote this two years ago today. One year before the pandemic and three months after my stroke, March 30, 2019. It proved to me that my brain was still working, though several parts of the rest of my body were not. I’ve had to watch a lot more screens since then, but these lessons have continued to hold true. Perhaps, they might be helpful to you — as we stumble together toward the end of this nightmare.


Having a stroke has pinned me to a bed or chair…

(Quarantine Essay #108)

Adam Zagajewski, 1945–2021

The poet Adam Zagajewski has died at age 75. (Read his New York Times obituary here).

I once took a semester-long poetry seminar with Adam at the University of Chicago. He was Polish in origin but in 1982 had gone into exile as a political dissident. He returned to Krakow in 2002 but continued to teach in the States for a few months each year.

My classmates were half my age, but I was not far from his. He seemed delighted to have me at the table, and this, of course, delighted me. …

(Quarantine Essay #107)

Six years ago this week, I was coming home from two months in California and the Pacific Northwest. There is a cartoon about Adam and Eve leaving the Garden, and Adam remarks, “We are entering an age of transition.” Those weeks were indeed transitional for me.

My mother had died the spring before. In the autumn of 2014, I had gone on a vision fast in eastern Tennessee’s hills. I received a strong word there that provided me some needed guidance for the next five years. And then, as 2015 began, it became clear that my thirty-year marriage was coming…

(Quarantine Essay #106)

I am thinking about people who live their lives as if they were seed.

The Greek poet Dinos Christianopoulos (1931–2020) wrote in 1978: “what didn’t you do to bury me / but you forgot that I was a seed.” (translated by Nicholas Kostis).

Young Mexican activists started a movement using a similar phrase in 2013 after 43 students disappeared in Iguala, Mexico: “They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds.” (see the blog entry with the same title, An Xio, Hyperallergic, July 3, 2018).

Even Jesus of Nazareth had said something similar 2,000 years ago: “unless a…

(Quarantine Essay #105)

Step One in the Twelve Steps of Alcoholic Anonymous states: “1. We admitted … that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Our national problem may not be alcoholism, but there are addictive patterns in American life that make our lives “unmanageable”. It is common not to recognize or admit you have an addiction problem. Sure, we have widespread addiction problems with alcohol or drugs. But I’m not talking about these more apparent addictions. As common as they are, they are often also commonly disdained.

More prevalent, more deadly, and increasingly more unmanageable is a societal addiction to revenge. James Kimmel, Jr…

Ric Hudgens

Quarantine Essays. Subscribe to my newsletter at richudgens.substack.com.

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