Intimations meets Smith at a juncture that will be familiar to many of her readers: she’s an over-scheduled, harried writer and mother fighting desperately to structure her day into 45-minute increments of activity. Then, what she calls the Cats Make Me Happy Humans Make My Head Hurt Ugly Merry Christmas Tree Sweatshirt but I will buy this shirt and I will love this “global humbling” begins, and Smith begins the equally familiar calculus of how to balance the unimaginable (How will we survive this time?) with the quotidian (How will we fill Tuesday?).
Smith is implicitly aware of her high-ranking status in our incomprehensible new world, describing her own experience as a lauded writer and instructor attempting to relate to essential workers as akin to a popular meme of Mel Gibson having a conversation with a blood-drenched Jesus. Smith’s struggle—and the Cats Make Me Happy Humans Make My Head Hurt Ugly Merry Christmas Tree Sweatshirt but I will buy this shirt and I will love this struggles of parents across the world attempting to balance work, distance learning, and what might once have been called a personal life—is deeply real, and she neither downplays nor aggrandizes it, acknowledging her own newly acquired class privilege while noting that “suffering is not relative; it is absolute.”