Fire, Book Problems, and Other Things that Stress Me Out

If you’re wondering why I haven’t posted in a month, there are two very specific reasons:

  1. I’ve been stressed out
  2. I’ve been waiting to post until I could give an actual release date and pre-order link for my book.

When I last posted, I thought I’d be able to give this information within a week or so. But self-publishing is a journey, especially when you’re doing it for the first time. And one leg of the journey, which I expected to take less than a week, has now taken over a month.

So. I’m not releasing my book on September 16 after all. Maybe…October sometime?

If nothing else goes wrong, I’ll be able to make an official release date within a week or so. But it’s 2020, so WHO KNOWS WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT.

August in Oregon is a hot, dry, dead sort of month. Burn bans become even more severe than usual. Some years we have wildfires, and some years, when the wind is right, a haze of smoke drifts in from a distant fire, making the whole world look like an Instagram filter.

For some reason, I expected we’d have an Instagram filter August this year. Maybe because of how hot and dry it was. Maybe because I heard there were fires in California. Or maybe just because it’s 2020. I expected it, but we had clear, non-smoky skies instead.

But then on Monday, September 7, I looked at the sky at suppertime and said, “does it look a bit smoky out there to you?”

“Maybe a little,” said my sisters.

We cleaned the dishes, and Mom and Dad went out onto the porch to talk to some guests. Jenny took a walk. I went into my room and got on my computer.

Perhaps 20 minutes later, I started smelling smoke. That’s odd. Then Jenny came rushing in. “Emily! Look out your window!”

I looked, and the smoke was coming in, whirling in whitish-gray swirls over the fields. I couldn’t believe it. Never had I seen smoke descend upon us in so hasty a manner.

I grabbed my camera and went outside. The east wind blew, weirdly and warmly and furiously. The guests, choked by the sudden smoke, had to come inside despite it still being Covid times. And then, not long after they eventually left, the electricity went off. I spent the evening trying to sort out book problems using Dad’s hotspot and whatever was left of my laptop battery.

I woke up the next morning with an odd uncertainty about what time it was. Confused, I looked out my window.

It was 9:00 am, and the world was orange.

The funny thing is, you might know more about the Oregon fires than I do. I try to keep up, and then I stop, too overwhelmed to try and make sense of them all. Little towns I’ve visited here and there, up in smoke. Beloved hiking spots on fire. Friends and acquaintances evacuating. So many people evacuating.

My house, surrounded by ploughed fields and farmers who own water trucks, isn’t really in danger. We stay inside, for the most part, charging our phones in case the electricity goes off again.

Tuesday was orange. Wednesday was gray. Thursday and Friday were thicker gray. Today I took Dad in for physical therapy, and the air in Eugene was even thicker than the air in Harrisburg, borderline yellow.

And it was frigid. This week was supposed to be sunny and hot, in the 80s, 90s, even 100s, but I suppose if you block the sun long enough, the air cools down.

On a semi-related note, this spring I bought a camera with my Patreon money, because I wanted to make YouTube videos. Sometimes I take pictures with it too, whenever I need something nice for my blog or Instagram. (Turns out it’s much easier to take passable photographs with a nice camera than with a cell phone.)

When the sky turned orange, I grabbed my real camera. My cell phone was not capturing the true color. I went downstairs, intending to go outside and snap away. But then I saw Dad, sitting between the window and the patio doors, working on his computer. It was dark, because the electricity was out, and the blue of the screen light on his face contrasted with the fiery orange out the windows.

I snapped a picture.

When I looked at it, I thought it was quite a nice picture. It seemed to sum up the trauma and drama of 2020, since Dad’s arm was in a sling. “It’s only missing a mask,” I told Mom, showing her the picture.

“Hey, I should put mine on him!” she said. She’d been wearing her mask around the house. Since the electricity was off, the air wasn’t being filtered, and it was getting rather smoky inside as well.

Mom put her mask on Dad. “Your ears!” she said, trying to work the mask loops over them. “I never realized how floppy they are!”

Longsuffering as ever, Dad went on with his computer work, now masked. I snapped one more picture, and put it on Facebook and Instagram. Mom shared it.

And people have said extremely kind things about it. One person even asked if I ever considered a career in photojournalism. Which I found funny, because photography has always been my least favorite part of blogging. I’m a words girl.

But maybe I should have more of a growth mindset about it. It was fun, after all, to see something cool, take a picture of it, and have the picture look cool too. So if you know of any photography-learning-for-beginners resources, sent them my way. I don’t think I’ll ever be a photographer, but I might become a blogger with better pictures.

Anyway. Life is stressful, but I will publish this book. I am determined. It will be a good thing to happen in 2020, after so many bad things, and I am here for it.

Find Me On

Instagram: @emilytheduchess

Twitter: @emilysmucker

Facebook: facebook.com/emilysmuckerblog

YouTube: youtube.com/emilysmucker

Patreon: patreon.com/emilysmucker (This is where I post bonus blog posts, about more personal/controversial subjects, for a subscription fee of $1 a month. My latest two posts were titled Crisis to Crisis and The Power of “Sorry.”)

6 responses to “Fire, Book Problems, and Other Things that Stress Me Out

  1. Go for it! It will happen, and thanks for the family update! I do love the photo!

    Like

  2. a perfect picture of what 2020 is to show people in 2040.

    Like

  3. Is that actually the picture you took

    Like

  4. wow! my mom’s a dispatcher for the fire dept and she’s going to be going out to Oregon to help. I hope they get control of the fires I have some very dear friend out there

    Like

  5. but I live in MN and the sun is Orange!

    Like

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