Writing the Distance: Georgeie Reynolds

The Covid 19 pandemic is isolating Alaskan writers. We can no longer attend workshops or public readings. The coffee bars where we met with other writers are closed. To bridge these physical gaps, 49 Writers is providing this on-line forum for Alaskans writing the distance. Today, Georgeie Reynolds shares a poem and reflection.


Here’s one way to entertain yourself throughout this wretched mess of self -isolation, at least for a while: look at the backdrops of guests on news shows as they comment on the stories of the day from their homes. Most of them emote from their basements, giving their broadcasts a bunker-like quality.
Most elected officials and important personalities have bookshelves to display their erudition, and curios hinting at their personalities. Joe Biden has a huge library, and maybe a globe. The historians, Jon Meacham and Michael Beschloss, have tons of books in vast shelves behind them. Eugene Robinson has some books, and his walls also display brightly-colored artwork to add pizzazz. I think, but I’m not sure, that Howard Dean’s floor-to-ceiling bookcases are wallpaper.
In a public service announcement, President Obama doesn’t have books at all, amazingly. Bookcases, yes, with many family pictures and doo-dads on some of the shelves, but no actual books. On one shelf, there’s a small statue of a black dog —I think it’s Beau. The former President probably has a library elsewhere in his house in DC. He must, because he reads a lot and he’s smart. The room he broadcasts from must be one of those “bonus” rooms realtors talk about.
Michael Steele displays his diplomas over his desk, and Yamiche Alcindor has an orchid blooming behind her. On the entertainment front, Stephen Colbert relies on brief appearances from family members, including his dog.
But poor Chris Cuomo! He’s been exiled to a monochromatic room in the basement at the foot of the stairs. No books. No bookcases. No dog or cat for company. A couple of dull-looking paintings, two off-white chairs, and a couple of family pictures—that’s it. His eyes will have to readjust to the world of Technicolor when he gets back to his CNN studio.
Brian Williams has his usual MSNBC background as he broadcasts from somewhere in New York City but not at the usual NBC mid-town command center. He closes his nightly broadcast by saying he’s reporting from “our temporary field headquarters.”
That phrase brings me back to my times on the North Slope when we’d joke about our “secret Arctic laboratory” over a dinner of freeze-dried food. I know Brian is really in a bunker near the Colville River because I’m nearby, wearing my old bandanna and work gloves, safe from COVID-19 and COVFEFE.

Georgeie Reynolds, now living in Portland, OR, is an old Alaska hand who prefers the endless tundra to the confines of her apartment. She’s an archaeologist and visits Alaska a lot, but not right now.

1 thought on “Writing the Distance: Georgeie Reynolds”

  1. Great piece. Leave it to Georgeie to focus on the backgrounds of news commentators. Fun! After these last few months, I understand her wishing she was back in the Alaska wilderness. I’d like to join her.

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