Carmel Valley resident forges book on women’s pandemic experiences

“Death loomed over me in the middle of the night when I was alone. I was so convinced I was going to die, I wrote my will,” Orlando, Florida resident Marietta Kelly said in her post. June 2020“The coronavirus is not a hoax”.

Leslie Ferguson of Escondido, wrote in May 2020: “During this quarantine, laughter has proven quite elusive, like toilet paper. Life in general isn’t much fun right now. In fact, it’s pretty silly. »

The cover of “Six Feet Apart… in the Time of Corona”.

(Copyright of Holly Kammier)

Said Dunedin, New Zealand resident Shih Yen Chang in her March 2020 essay “Twenty Four Hours”: “It’s like a zombie apocalypse movie! It really is! Zombies are people infected with the coronavirus, and you can’t tell who is a zombie or not.

These statements are excerpts from 61 essays and poems compiled in “Six Feet Apart…in the Time of Corona”.

Acorn Publishing co-owners Holly Kammier of Carmel Valley and Jessica Therrien of Irvine solicited pieces from women around the world and compiled them into the anthology.

Publishing is scheduled for December 11, with information available at

Kammier said she came up with the idea early in the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, popularly known as Covid.

“I felt very hopeless,” she said. “I felt really lucky to be able to continue working from home and not have my work interrupted and still be safe.

“So there was a sense of guilt and an obligation to do something to help those who weren’t necessarily as lucky as me.”

She is particularly concerned about the plight of women, including those who may have been trapped in homes where they and their children have been abused.

Forty percent of “Six Feet Apart” sales will go to Laura’s House, an Orange County nonprofit that supports women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

“There were a lot of bad situations created by Covid, but in my mind this was the most perilous, and to me the most relevant as a woman myself and a mother.”

Kammier and Therrien thought the global health crisis would only last a few months. At the start of the pandemic, they knew few people personally affected by the virus.

“When we first talked about it, we imagined it would take about three months, four months (or) five months,” Kammier said. “I don’t think the light bulb has clicked for at least six months, maybe even longer, that this project would make much more sense if we just waited for things to calm down. It ended up lasting two whole years.

Initially, the coins Acorn received had less to do with coronavirus cases than with the impacts of restrictions and lockdowns.

“It’s almost like you can watch the trajectory of the spread as the trials change from ‘I’m scared to have it, I’m staying inside, I don’t know anyone who has it, I don’t want to not have it’ to ‘My neighbor’s husband is dead’ or ‘My aunt is dead,'” Kammier said.

“It slowly went from people not knowing anyone directly affected by the disease to seeing more and more people getting sick from it.”

Kammier and Therrien personally experienced the viral tsunami that followed the emerging warnings, as they recount in their stories that end the 291-page text.

Therrien dictates her traumatic experiences in the book’s prologue, in which she recounts how her husband, then her children, and herself eventually contracted the disease.

“For me, Covid started playing a cruel game,” she wrote of her illness. “After overcoming the acute infection, I had a few days of recovery. But then the next wave hit.

Kammier said she was worried upon learning of the advent of the virus, a fear that comes through in the voices of contributors to the book.

“Everyone was so scared and rethinking our lives,” she said. “It was a huge commonality. …

“When I started collecting all the essays over the last two years, I had forgotten how much fear there was. It’s so palpable when you read this anthology that the fear was there, and also hope for a better way of life because of her.

As Kammier and her family went through their own tribulations with the disease, she writes in the epilogue of redeeming aspects.

“The amazing peace and quiet for months and months has been a once in a lifetime gift,” she wrote.

As responses to Acorn’s solicitations poured in, Kammier observed how people were being affected by the pandemic in different ways.

“We weren’t all in the same boat,” she said. “We were in the same ocean, not in the same boat. … The common point was that we were all afraid. We were all worried about the people we loved.

As the daughter of an English and history teacher, Kammier is acutely aware of the significance of what the world has gone through in recent years. This realization was the motivation for her and Therrien to create and publish the anthology.

“We live through history,” Kammier said. “We are living in a major historical moment and this is an opportunity for us to leave our mark.”

Coincidentally, the reporter’s interview with Kammier at a Carmel Valley cafe took place on his late father’s birthday.

“He would think it’s the coolest thing,” Kammier said of the book. “My dad would like that. … He was a very good storyteller.

Her father also taught her a lesson that serves well in times of crisis.

“He taught me to keep water bottles in your trunk and to keep books in your trunk: ‘You never know when you’re going to be stuck somewhere and you’re going to need a book.’ He had emergency books in his car everywhere he went.

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