Viewpoint: Finding the words is an ongoing struggle.

There's a cardinal in the bush outside my window. Its red feathers present a striking contrast against the still-green leaves, a lush, almost gaudy display, a preview of Christmas lights a few weeks early.

I stare at the bird until the sun blurs its plumage. I drag my attention back to the screen. Always the screen.

My laptop sits, as it has now for most of seven months, on my dining room table. I shift in the office chair at its head that my mother shipped to me. I was wary of shopping for a comfortable chair, even when retail restrictions eased in the state, and was reluctant to add to the load of already overburdened delivery people. Instead, I sat for weeks in a hard-backed, thinly padded seat more suited for Friendsgiving dinners (yet another thing not happening this year) until my back screamed and an Amazon box arrived.

I contemplate the groceries that have yet to find kitchen cabinet homes and instead lounge on the window seat, which is still decorated with cushions in Halloween-themed slipcovers. Halloween is my holiday. I throw the parties. I post the year-round memes counting down the days. I add each year to an already obscene pile of decorations.

Amid the very real worries and concerns of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with a quarter of a million Americans dead and many more sickened, I, safe in my selfish bubble, fretted that we'd have to skip Halloween this year, like most of the spring and summer gatherings and fall festivals. Instead, we borrowed a friend's tailgating tent, gussied up the yard and iced down autumnal beverages in coolers. We stood six feet apart as flames crackled in the fire pit and talked and laughed under the bright gaze of a full moon.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. We're doing a two-person, stay-at-home feast. I hope I can see my parents sometime before Christmas. I have a plan, involving another test and two-week quarantine. But it just depends on the numbers, which are spiking again as temperatures drop.

It all depends on the numbers.

I lasso my thoughts and force them back to the task at hand. Those tasks vary day to day but don't ever really seem to change much. I conduct interviews, transcribe tape, write stories. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I write about unemployment rates and looming evictions. I take a deep breath before opening the daily email that will tell me how many South Carolinians have been confirmed to have COVID-19 today, and how many have died.

It seems I'm doing so much and so little. I want to...

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