Bottles of preventatives, medicine, antibacterials, vitamins, etc.

Twenty Words During Lockdown, Day 13: Guilt

By Pam Houston

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These 20 words were assigned to Pam Houston by her friend, the writer and photographer Kyle Wolff, as part of Project 2020 (Quarantine Edition). She gave Pam and others a word most mornings, and the assignment to write to that world and either take or find a photo to go with it. These 20 words and photographs by Pam Houston are appearing daily in Terrain.org through June 20, the summer solstice.

April 13, 2020


Capitalism taken to its logical end. That is where we find ourselves. The poor pangolin, and all those senators pulling their money out of cruise ships and putting it into PPE. The president congratulates himself daily, puts his son-in-law in charge of the bidding wars he created between the states by stepping in and illegally seizing masks and ventilators. And we don’t bat an eye. That’s free enterprise! The thing that made this country great. Ventilators to the highest bidder. Send a bunch of them off to Russia to drive the price even higher. Don’t test! Testing has proven not to be lucrative, nor is health insurance in a pandemic so let’s kick a few million people off. The evil of the people running the United States Government has gone all the way to cartoonish, and we might laugh, if there were not so many people (even before Covid) dead.

And yet, here I sit, warm and dry in my room with a view. Or warm and wet in my bathtub. I have joined a club in which once a month I have flash-frozen seafood delivered from Alaska, at least until the money runs out. I am growing my own vegetables with organic, heirloom seeds. I am not doing time in any hospital, or post office, or grocery store, getting breathed on by people in American flag t-shirts expressing their liberty, and yet look, LOOK at all of these things I have purchased, in hopes of keeping us well.

Bottles of preventatives, medicine, antibacterials, vitamins, etc.



Pam HoustonPam Houston is the author of the memoir Deep Creek: Finding Hope In The High Country, which won the 2019 Reading the West Advocacy Award, as well as five other books of fiction and nonfiction, all published by W.W. Norton. She lives at 9,000 feet above sea level on a 120-acre homestead near the headwaters of the Rio Grande. A book co-written with activist Amy Irvine, Air Mail: Letters of Politics, Pandemics, and Place, is forthcoming from Torrey House Press in October 2020.
Read Pam Houston’s Letter to America in Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy, published by Terrain.org and Trinity University Press and view a video of Pam reading her Letter to America as part of a Dear America town hall.

Photos courtesy Pam Houston.


Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.