As I’ve mentioned, I’m currently doing the research for my next writing project. I intend this to be a submission to the next round of the Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries competition – because that’s one of the few submission opportunities available during the Quarantimes, and because, after submitting two scripts to them in the past, I’m clearly a glutton for punishment. The deadline for sumissions is in mid November; if I hope to have something by then, I’ll need to start drafting something in early September, so I’ll need to have finished the bulk of my research by the end of this month.
Making this all a little more difficult is the fact that, thanks to our current reality, I don’t have access to a library at the moment. Some branches of the Brooklyn Public Library have re-opened for lobby service only, but my local branch is not one of them. If I did want to pick up a library book in person, I’d have to walk about two miles or so to Coney Island, in the middle of a pandemic. Not really an option.
It’s possible to do some of the research I need to do online, but most of the information I can find on websites and YouTube videos is piecemeal at best, or hidden behind paywalls. No, to best process a great deal of information, I rely on these newfangled contraptions called books. And since it’s the only means of getting any books, I’ve been ordering them online. I’ve been placing orders for titles as my research has unfolded, three or four at a time, and reading them as soon as they arrive.
Or at least I would be reading them, if they arrived.
As you’ve no doubt heard, the Post Office has recently implemented a series of new procedures with the effect of slowing down mail service. The stated reason is to keep the Post Office financially solvent – which is only an issue because of a 2006 law requiring them to fund seventy-five years’ worth of employee pensions in advance. In practical terms, mail service has dramatically slowed down, imperiling many basic functions of our society (being 2020, the fact that these functions include absentee ballots seems a tad bit relevant). We could complain to somebody about it, but the new Postmaster General – a major donor to the current chief executive – has just removed twenty three posts in senior leadership.
Given all these disruptions, my having to wait an extra week or two for my reading material to clear its bottleneck might seem a bit trivial. And compared to the impending loss of our democracy, it is. But at the same time, they’re linked – the material I’m reading and the play I’m trying to write exist because of our First Amendment right to free speech and to petition for the redress of grievances – a sacred tenet of the document that some of us seem hell-bent on shredding.