Attempting to find both energy and focus in this time of plague has been difficult. Time has been granted to us in abundance, but not the serenity to take advantage of that time.

Even as one who was able to keep their job and perform it with little interruption I’ve found it difficult to fight off a feeling of malaise. Its difficult to commit to a course of action, be it the making of dinner, the enjoyment of a novel, the editing of a photograph, or the writing of a short essay. Sadly, the eating of snacks has proven to be entirely too easy a pastime to commit to.

Typical advise for the creatively blocked is to do something else. Attempting to brute force yourself through only leads to a deeply bruised ego and shocking high tabs at your local dive bar. Travel is a frequent suggestion. Go somewhere new. Even if it doesn’t break your creative block at least you go out into the world. And maybe it will work.

Seed head of a grass.

In the time of plague what do you do? Shelter in place order remain and in many locations have been reimposed as an upswing in Covid cases continues in various spots around the globe. Travel is not on the agenda

I was reminded of a project from a number of years ago. One Block Radius. It was a psychogeographic project conducted by Glowlab in NYC. It was an in-depth exploration of a single block in Manhattan. Every business, resident, piece of trash, new addition of graffiti was meticulously cataloged. It provided a snapshot in time for a block in the Bowery that was about to undergo radical transformation.

Rather than expand outwards, the project gave itself strict borders and spiraled inwards, documenting a single place at a point in time.

Since the middle of March my world has undergone a similar, non-consentual compression.


For the past two years my photography has focused on flowers as it was a subject that I could work with at my leisure. My work has admittedly been heavily influenced by Robert Mapplethorpe’s own floral portfolio. I do have the advantage of working in digital which allows me to use techniques such as focus stacking to do far closer explorations of a flower’s structure.

My neighborhood is a mixture of apartments and single family homes which results in a variety of gardening environments. The backdrop of apartment building landscaping which favors the absolute minimum in maintenance costs typically features shrubs but does have the enjoyment of self-seeded plants. Foxgloves, daffodils, lavender, and bluebells find their place.

Then there are the unwelcome flora. Clover, dandelion, grasses, thistle. Then at the end of the season, there are the seed heads left when the petals fall away.

Ubiquitous, easy to find, free for the taking, and in many cases available year round.

Now I just need to scrounge up some focus and motivation.

After months of forced isolation and over a month of a close examination of police brutality and the reality of being Black in America, its time to celebrate the birth of the nation.

With varying levels of enthusiasm.

Coming to grips with your feelings about Independence Day is your own burden. If nothing else, you got the day off from work so you might as well stuff your face in a slightly elevated level of style.

Be sure to light the barbecue early while using those copies of Sunset and Martha Stewart Living magazines that have been staring at you from the coffee table for the past four months as kindling so that the coals have time to settle down a bit. Or you know, preheat the oven because you live in an apartment where the fire escape is right over the dumpster of the Pho joint and its illegal to have a grill on a balcony.

You know what, just go ahead and chunk the entire collection of lifestyle magazines in the dumpster. Set it on fire. You don’t need that cultural fascism through matching tableware in your life. Those assholes have assistants and photoshop. You have high blood pressure. Fuck them and the horse they rode on. They probably do have a horse. Fuck them double.

Sarah Eisenlohr

It doesn’t hurt to toss the salad now. Toss it right in the garbage because even the Sierra club wouldn’t blame you for not opening that three week expired bag of mixed greens in order to feed it into the compost bin.

If you’re a Pinterest kind of person, you can rip the chalkboard you used for trying to keep track of the housework but haven’t updated in nine months off the wall and write out the menu.

Appetizers: The inch of a half of Cheezits remaining in the box. Those little French pickles right out of the jar. That can of sardines in mustard that you bought two years ago when you were shopping while smashed. Any cheese product that’s still edible and more importantly, wasn’t eaten by someone at 3:00 in the morning while unable to sleep due to generalized feelings of dread.

To drink, there’s an assortment of domestic beer. Or foreign beer. Or wine in a can. Or those weird seltzer things that are the new wine spritzer with a measurable ABV.

Be sure to keep away from the hard stuff early on. You want to keep the floodgates of emotion tightly closed while you gaze longingly at the pleasant summer weather through the window wondering how many idiots are outside having a grand old time at a cookout not realizing they’re going to collide with a reality where an overworked nurse is ramming a breathing tube down their throat in about 17 days.

Served in the kitchen because fuck you, I’m not carrying it to the living room.

Main Course: Braised pork loin with warm potato salad. More beer.

Sounds fancy? Not even.

I’m not even going to wait for the toaster oven to preheat, I’m just going to pour a bottle of barbecue sauce over the dead pig, cover it with foil and slam it into the little oven. The potato salad is warm not because its trending on instagram right now, its because I decided to make it like 25 minutes ago and 20 of those were spent boiling the potatoes. I’m not waiting for them to cool off.

Spend the time waiting for the dead animal to finish reaching a temperature that won’t kill your ass by flicking through Netflix in an attempt to avoid conversation with the people you’ve been locked inside with for way too long. Has emotion bled out of them as well? Should you try to express your love for that special person in your life by letting them know they might be wearing the same coffee stained pajamas for three days but you still want to bang? Or would that be really awkward and better left after everyone’s had a few more drinks.

You’ve already binged everything you can possibly stand? Maybe if you pound the rest of that IPA and follow it with an airline bottle of Glenlivet you‘ll specifically murder the brain cells responsible for season 2 of Bake Off. At least that’s the theory. Bottoms up everyone!

When the alarm goes off and the thermometer tells you that you’re not going to be an unfortunate statistic, its time to think about presentation. Mostly, I think its for wankers. Who the hell has the time or energy to plate something when you and everyone you know has been refreshing COVID charts showing the new cases by day and wondering how long until the death rate shows a similar upswing for the past several weeks?

Put stuff on a plate. There. Done. Steak knives? Do we have steak knives? Is that a thing people have? Maybe we were vegetarians for too long.

Dessert: Um… more beer. And liquor.

Months of prioritizing groceries to bare essentials in order to minimize the number of trips into the Outside World has not left room for sweets. There’s a forgotten half pint of Hagen Das in the freezer but its part of the potato product glacier formation and no one is feeling that desperate. Yet.

And Now Fireworks:

Save a glass of sherry and a handful of salted nuts to take outside to gaze upon the illegal fireworks being set off by errant youth in the neighborhood. Are these nuts? Are they wasabi peas? Cat food? After breaking open the sugar encrusted bottle of apricot schnapps at the back of the liquor cabinet you can’t tell anymore.

Gaze upwards at the moments of visual and acoustic violence spreading overhead and take a moment to meditate upon the American Empire. More specifically its relationship to the Roman Empire. And that fact that the Roman Empire fell. And that none of those assholes left a how-to guide for surviving the collapse.