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to all the messages i haven’t replied;

1. hello. thank you for your email. i have received it, and the follow-up you sent later on the same day, and the follow-up you sent on friday which was a public holiday, and the follow-up you sent over the long weekend. i realise that you must be very anxious over this issue, but i haven’t yet figured out how to word it nicely to you that this is very low on my priority list because there is a global pandemic happening at the moment. i also haven’t yet figured out how to express to you that what you describe is scarcely an urgent matter, and can probably wait several months, but i understand that we are all coping with our stresses in different ways. i would like to gently offer the insight that while these multiple chase-ups you are sending me and possibly other colleagues may be relieving some of the anxiety you are currently experiencing, because it is one more thing you are clearing off your plate or ticking off your list, the tone and volume of your emails is merely displacing some of your anxiety over to others to bear. i will likely click this email open every few days with the fresh optimism of being able to word an eloquent response, only to prematurely delete the draft and mark this email as unread over and over until it moves to the second page of my inbox.

2. hello. please stop sending me voice messages of you screaming into the phone. thank you.

3. hello. i have imagined the opening of my very belated email reply to you in a dozen variations of regrettable apologies and explanations that possibly tiptoe between over-sharing or sharing-to-solicit-empathy. i wondered in countless permutations if i should briefly but professionally make a mention of family issues, or mental health conditions, or changing work scenarios or a dozen other balls i am juggling, to provide you with the assurance that i am not ghosting you, but am simply crawling out of a backlog of things-to-do. i hesitate sending this reply because you are likely to respond in two seconds and the burden of reciprocity will probably return to my court, except this time with greater weight. i then decided that i should eventually reply even more belatedly when i actually have something substantial to show you, and send through a response that you will be pleased with, perhaps something that still reflects my usual quality of work. but deep inside i also want to tell you that it is unhealthy and harmful to insist on the masquerade of Business As Usual when everything is really difficult at the moment, but perhaps that is something i need to say to myself if i am feeling this way right now. is it okay if you wait just a little while longer for me to get back to you?

4. hello. thank you for this reminder. this is a very big task that would usually take a week to complete during the Before Times, so i will mark this message as unread for now. in reality, though, i am probably going to work a 15hr stretch overnight to write all of these words in one sitting because my brain will be hyperactive and i will be thinking a lot and unable to sleep and wanting to write my insides out as a way to get thoughts and feelings on paper so that i can feel some sense of relief from this mini-accomplishment. okay, so here’s your reply the very next day. and now i will sleep for twenty hours.

5. hello. thank you for agreeing to work with me. in all honesty, this is not the most batshit urgent thing in life at the moment. in fact, it is probably even a little bit gratuitous, as a side project, a pet project, a distraction project, that we will likely pursue in mutually-reinforcing enthusiasm and sheer adrenaline over the next fortnight. because we want to channel our efforts into something that utilises our expertise and is meaningful to the current situation. you may notice that i have left you on read, but i hope that you are telepathically assured that this is a wholesome read in that i was too happy and excited but also fatigued to reply immediately. i am now going to bed, and chances are that when i get up tomorrow we will immediately fall back into our routine of exchanging a hundred messages an hour. i am very contented that our energies and intentions and pace of work towards this collaborative project is an exact match at the moment. it probably stems from the fact that we are first friends before colleagues, and know how to be human.

6. hello. this email is very rude. i don’t want to reply.

7. hello. thank you for your text. i feel loved and comforted that you have sent through words of encouragement and affirmation after sensing that i might be struggling with something at the moment. it is astute of you. i am deeply appreciative and would usually want to reply sincerely. however, at the moment it feels burdensome to respond to a long laundry list of questions in AMA style especially when they are so intrusive and come out of the blue. this reply has made me see that both of us have different gauges of how intimate our friendship is. i am sorry that we have not yet progressed to a stasis where i feel i can freely share these thoughts. although these questions are very likely coming from a place of concern, at this time, the discursive framings do not aid me in my recuperation. if i can be honest, the questions come across as curious and voyeuristic, and i would prefer not to involuntarily reveal all these things about myself out of an obligation to respond, just because the message is so suddenly heavy with affect. perhaps i will sit on this for a few days and respond some day. perhaps you will notice my seen and be able to read between the lines. this might be a long waiting game. can i just send you a pusheen sticker?

to all the messages i haven’t replied, please be patient with me.

Beep here.

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