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MOODBOARD: “Coping Mechanisms”

April 6, 2020 in Moodboard, Writing

Well, friends, I promised you this story. It’s called “Coping Mechanisms” and it’s my so-called “pandemic erotica”. (It’s not realllly erotica, though.) This MOODBOARD post explains all, but first I gotta tell you just how weird it is looking for coronavirus-theme stock photos. Like, I know that news sites use these things but I needed them to look more personal and it was nearly impossible. Hopefully this MOODBOARD looks inciting enough for you to want to keep reading.

Let’s talk “Coping Mechanisms”, because this story was my coping mechanism once things started to really get crazy after I posted my UPDATE: Coronavirus! blog. In it, I mentioned my proposed return to work on April 1st. Since then, my workplace has been closed and uh, I get to continue holing myself inside my house day in and day out.

Essential Work

I’ve got essential worker friends in every field. Nurses and bus drivers and janitors and the like. My husband and my sister and brother-in-law also work in the alcohol industry, which is one of the only industries to actually see an increase in sales right now, so I understand how hard it must be continuing to work like normal (or overwork yourself) in the middle of a damn global pandemic.

Excerpt graphic from "COPING MECHANISMS".

But I gotta say, I realllllllly feel for all my fellow retail workers who are considered “essential”. I work in a store that sells specialty coffee and fancy maple syrup and imported candies and pesto and crap, but that stuff ain’t essential. And thankfully, unlike stupid Michael’s, my company shut their doors.

People are paranoid and worried. I can only imagine what it must feel like to head into work like every other day when it so clearly isn’t “every other day”. It’s a new normal, where you might catch a deadly illness at work. Great. And sure, much of the panic buying has eased after stores set limits on specific products, but it’s still weird. Now they only let a certain number of people int the store at a time. Now they have IKEA-like arrows guiding your pathway through the store.

I haven’t been inside a store since this whole thing really got crazy, but I can imagine.

Coping in Crisis

We’re all in varied boats in the same ocean right now (well, us in the real world anyway, and NOT those celebrities singing “Imagine”). Some of us are quarantining. Some of us are working. And yes, some of us are fucking idiots who are not adhering to any of the social distancing guidelines. If you fall into that last camp, you should probably think things through. This isn’t NORMAL and you need to stop pretending it is normal. Get your favourite bandanna out and make a fucking mask so we can all pretend like it’s the wild west, but you know, in a grocery store.

I miss the grocery store, so I put myself there in fiction form. It felt cathartic and proved effective at easing the news-related anxiety at the end of the day. Originally I wanted to get really sexy with things, like write a LEGIT erotica, but then I started churning out grocery store hand washing scenes. I inserted a bunch of references two current events.

And you know, if you can write a legit pandemic erotica, go right ahead. I have a hard time writing stories just for fun. I can’t help but get all self-righteous. Every story is a chance to say something, which is where the “literary” aspect of my work comes in. I’m too much of a jerk and too much of a hipster. I’m sorry.

“Coping Mechanisms” takes place in a Costco right when the whole toilet paper thing started getting out of hand. It follows Jamie, a begrudging essential employee who trains her new Type-A coworker, Brendan on the same day that a toilet paper riot breaks out in store.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

I honestly don’t know how to categorize this story. It’s not erotica but it’s also not a romance. I myself quite enjoy “weird relationship fiction”, wherein two characters engage in a weird attraction without really understanding it.

I’m also a real sucker for two characters who get it on in the middle of uncertain times. Like you know that stupid trope, where two people survive a plane crash or something and end up boning in the woods because of their bond in a shared experience?

Yeah, that. I’m always down with that.

That’s essentially what “Coping Mechanisms” is.

And yes, there’s some physical stuff, (because I wasn’t going to not make my characters do stuff), but I hope I was at least responsible about it in terms of social distancing. I like character tension that focuses on power dynamics and personality traits.

Excerpt graphic from "COPING MECHANISMS"

Real Life Inspiration

Usually I have fun things to share in these MOODBOARD posts but I really have nothing for you this time around. We’re all here dealing with this shit. There’s some personal stuff I put in there, including my worries about my parents and the fact that all this hand-washing is drying the hell out of my hands.

It also being March-April, we’re in the middle of a seasonal change, which is WREAKING ABSOLUTE HAVOC on my hair. It’s always static and now it gets ridiculous stringy and greasy by early evening. I hate it but at least I get to look like trash at home.

I also included some references to TOUCHING YOUR FACE and Tiger King and Nine Inch Nails and comrade Britney Spears and those idiot college kids who went to Spring Break despite the warnings.

SPOILERS!: Over 40 of them tested positive for COVID-19.

Which leads us to the one major lesson we should all learn…

We can still enjoy things!

Within reason, anyway.

It’s tough right now for everyone. Most of my time communicating with others is spent online now, though I did have a nice Zoom call with my Bible Study group last Thursday. It was nice to catch up and see people’s faces and joke around like we did in person over two weeks ago.

Little things count right now and I sincerely hope you’re all finding something positive in every day. I keep thinking about how fortunate we are to have technology. This would all be a different experience without it.

So let’s keep strong, stay inside, lift those who are struggling and read sexy fiction.

Excerpt graphic from "COPING MECHANISMS"

Want to Read “Coping Mechanisms”?

I need to do one last proofread but I will be posting “Coping Mechanisms” to the website for EVERYONE VERY SOON.

I will also be making an ebook version that will be a mailing list exclusive, so please sign up for my mailing list. You’ll get the free BEDSIDE STORIES ebook that contains a choice selection my back-catalogue. I’ll send you “Coping Mechanisms” as soon as it drops.

I’ll also love you. My mailing list could use more subscribers.

Stay sexy and stay indoors, everyone!

IMAGE CREDITS

Costco Sign / Sink / Carts / Toilet Paper / COVID-19 Stats / Woman / Freezer / Phone on Bed

Moodboard Template

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Rebecca

Rebecca is a neo-noir author from Kamloops, British Columbia. Her first collection of gritty short fiction, Vile Men was published by Dark House Press in 2015. She also writes about her writer lifestyle on her blog at rebeccajoneshowe.com.

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I'm Rebecca Jones-Howe, a neo-noir writer and author of the short story collection, VILE MEN. My work has been featured in [PANK], Pulp Modern and Punchnel's, among other magazines. This site houses my writing profile and my blog, which features posts on writing, fashion, lifestyle + more. Want more?

- RJH

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