• Martha Iserman

Lockdown Book Smut

Here in Melbourne, our 6th lockdown has been extended for a week at least, and it's looking like it won't be the last until we can ramp up the vaccines. Less than 15% of Australia is vaccinated, and it's not due to lack of wanting. It's just not as available as back in the US. I could get into how upsetting it is to watch Americans reject the gift they've been given, but that's not useful. If you know me you know how I feel.

For me, this is becoming the darkest part of the pandemic. Watching the world irrationally "open up" again while we're in the most dangerous moments and I'm still stuck overseas. I can't come home. I haven't seen my friends and family in 2 and a half years, and most likely won't for another. I'm getting married in a month, and we have to plan the official celebration for "sometime in the future when the borders open", whenever that may be.


With that said... we're doing ok here. We have a nice Lil cabin on a mountainside in the Ferntree rainforest. Can't complain about that. The artwork is going well, and aside from my mystery stint in the hospital in June, we're healthy.


One thing I've learned is self-care so here is my one unsolicited advice...


Don't deny yourself the thing that brings you comfort during all of this. It can be tacky, or redundant, or a "waste of time". Re-watching a favorite show for the 12th time even though you know every line, can help with anxiety. Cooking a meal that's basic and not challenging, can give you a dopamine boost of pleasure from creating and eating without the pressure of trying a new recipe. Do the lazy version of yoga. Listen to your cheesiest music from high school. Let yourself off the hook for stuff.


For me, it's been reading. I always try to read a certain number of books a year, and that leads to insecurity about the QUALITY of the books. I'm a snob. Can't have filler in there or I'm cheating!!! (For the record I do include Audiobooks and you can fight me on that. It's usually a 30/70 split of audio/eye).


Then I started reading the Pendergast series by Lincoln and Child a few weeks ago. Book one was the basis of the movie The Relic, which was my inspiration for getting into science illustration as a child because I wanted to work at The Field Museum (spoiler alert- I did in 2011 which is how I met my future husband).


The books follow FBI agent Pendergast, a super pale, lanky, dapper Sherlock Holmes knock-off from New Orleans who magically solves museum mysteries with the occasional help of attractive young female curators and hard-edged cigar-chewing detectives. Think Jack Skellington meets Fox Mulder. The books are terrible. They're tacky. They're cinematic. They're fun. They're wonderful. I'm on book 4 in 2 weeks.


And you know what, they're helping! I listen on audiobook when I paint, and I read on my kindle when I can't sleep which is often. Give yourself little gifts. Life is too short to be a book snob.



So that's my advice. Read that smut. I won't judge you -

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