The kids have gone back to school, and I’m both relieved and also more and more anxious about a thousand things for them, both Covid and non Covid related.


I suppose there are abundant silver linings, if I’m looking closely enough: I can now start deep-cleaning the house for Lunar New Year, instead of waiting until the night before and throwing myself onto an unmade bed in a fit of exhaustion, declaring the dust bunnies as part of the family. I can spend time googling myself into rabbit holes over what stage of developments kids should be in and how far behind my kids are. The cats can now have their couches and peace back, I can resume my stalking and encouraging comments without distraction.


I mope dramatically. In fact, it is nice to get back into the swing of things, to start getting things done, uploading things, downloading things, drinking tea from the kids’ paint cups again, digging away at the piles of laundry that have overflowed out of the hampers. Caleb and I sometimes fight over the good iPad stand, and Caleb says he should have the priority because it’s for school and the lousy one is tippy and I say I should have the priority because my neck hurts. The good one often mysteriously disappears from the other’s desk during the day, and Jon says we can’t get another one, we have to learn to share, Jon not seeming to understand that an iPad stand is not something that two people can use at a time. Jon, channeling his father: “Money doesn’t grow on trees, Caleb.” Jon, channeling himself: “I could buy 10 Rhodia pads for the price of another stand, Liz.”


It’s nice without the kids, but not too nice, because these days are all a gift. These days of good health and shouting and cheese string wrappers in the bed. We only get so many days with the ones we love.


Hustle is still a thing in this world, and for small businesses, there is no side hustle: it’s paying the payroll and the rent, it’s food on the table, it’s lights are on and boxes are still coming in. We are hustling, and we are sending emails whenever emails can be sent, we are trying our best to make the decisions that will be both long game and short game and will keep the doors open while investing in a very murky future. And we are also trying our best to remember that it’s all a balance, and that you can’t keep your head down too long or you miss the scenery, you risk missing the whole point.


So we are taking joy in favourite and new things coming in, tiny pleasures that make the days a little brighter. Shipments coming in and I’m burrowing away into them, digging for treasure. The newsletter is going out tomorrow and I’m amassing tiny scraps of paper on which I’ve scribbled things that I’d like to mention, corny jokes that will thankfully be illegible by the time I read them again.


We recently got in a massive shipment of boxes, literally boxes of boxes, sometimes of boxes, but mostly boxes of boxes, and occasionally boxes of boxes of bags. What a thing it is, to order thousands of boxes and mailers and bags for a stationery shop, standing expectantly on their imminent use.


We’re expecting lots of shipments, and hoping it all arrives safely with this exceptionally cold weather. There are a few new things on the way as well. Lots of treats to come.




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January 27, 2022 — Liz Chan

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