Pandemic journal: Day 19

Wednesday, April 1, 7:12 AM

Day 19 of voluntary social distancing, Day 16 of mandatory shelter-in-place, Day 13 of statewide shelter-in-place

Theme of the week: partnering 

I’m trying something different this morning, writing over Zoom with AS and HB. H has set a 20-min timer. It’s funny because I write every morning but the energy is quite different with others. (Also, I’m disoriented and almost slept through it because I’d set my alarm for PM instead of AM!)

I don’t know what A and H are working on — they’re both poets — but it makes me wonder if I should take the opportunity to do something other than my usual stream-of-consciousness, documenting-and-recounting style of journaling.


  • Hugging friends
  • Seeing friends in-person
  • Running to the store for one thing
  • Deciding casually to eat out
  • Play dates
  • Planning for next week or next month
  • Strolling down a shopping avenue
  • Going to shows
  • Taking my kid to a playground
  • Sharing food
  • Offering to watch a friend’s kids
  • Preschool
  • Running into people
  • Thinking of people over 65 without fear
  • Thinking of grocery, restaurant, healthcare workers without fear
  • Concern over cold symptoms because of the inconvenience
  • Having people over
  • Going to someone else’s house
  • Potlucks
  • Going to the library
  • Going to museums
  • Group fitness classes
  • Going to the gym
  • Craft fairs 
  • Farmers’ markets 
  • Festivals
  • Loitering 
  • Browsing clothing shops, bakeries, gift stores, bookstores
  • Leisurely grocery shopping or going to Target
  • Tearing open mail or parcels right away
  • Going for walks with other people
  • Parties
  • Bars
  • Wasting flour, toilet paper, eggs, milk, anything really
  • Thinking of small businesses without dread or fear
  • Cheek kissing 
  • Thinking of hospitals as a place of treatment and not triage 
  • Seeing/hearing kids at school
  • Housecleaners 
  • Babysitters 

It seems that our writing date really turned H’s mood around, so thank goodness for that. I also learned that A has a chronic illness. I was glad to hear H urging her not to grocery-shop. We’ve set up another call/writing for Friday. 

Yesterday was good overall, but I did feel rather tender in the AM while taking Owl for a walk on the avenue, looking at all the shops’ door signs which had seemed so loving and hopeful before. Now they feel desperate, having been up for weeks, some of them giving end dates that have already passed.

Hand-lettered "we will be temporarily closed" sign on a business door

The county has extended SiP to May 3. So we have another month… at best. The state education superintendent has issued a guideline (not a directive) for schools to close for the rest of the academic year, so, there’s that as well. 

I was so sad, walking around, and really rather tired of Owl chattering at me the whole time, but I did think how grateful I am to be irritated with them rather than worried for their health, or separated from them. And they keep me busy; friends without kids talk about feeling down, and not having ways to fill the time— 

OMFG Mommy says Daddo has left the house to go to work and then to two grocery stores?! I need to call him right now. 

Oh my god. He didn’t pick up the phone and Mommy messaged us to say he’s already at one store. I don’t even know what to say; I’m so angry. Well. That’s my writing time shot. 

Other things I was going to say, now hastily because my time is done and I’m still furious at Daddo:

-Someone I know (under 30!) had a stroke (!!!) last week and is seemingly largely recovered but understandably shocked and shaken 

-Another friend has returned with their family from vacation abroad, almost the only passengers on the last flight from that country to SFO. 

-An elderly member of my Meetup group, who has COPD, says this has changed almost nothing for her, and she plays pool on her phone to pass the time! 

-Dance class was fabulous as always and it was a warm enough day that I was totally sweating

-I felt a need for novelty and entertainment so I pulled several parcels from “decontamination”: new undies and clothes and tea towels from small businesses I’m trying to support, boring necessities from (alas) Amazon 

-I powered through a lot of small things on my to-do list

-Yesterday I saw a thing that suggested that for our sanity we “find something you can control, and control the hell out of it” (like, say, organizing the spice cupboard), so, maybe my to-do list is a legit coping mechanism! Not to go overboard and get caught in a productivity trap, but it is a relief to imagine I’m getting something done. (At least… I had spurts like that but I also sat on the couch and watched John Oliver for 20 minutes and an epidemic simulation for another 20.) 

-We had a long family Zoom where I felt like I was hosting a cooking show. Maybe one of these days I should try that on FB Live just for fun. 

-Owl declined to join preschool Zooms and only paid the most cursory attention when I set them up anyway. We made a lift-the-flap book together though, which was fun, and their book was hilarious and amazing. And they spelled REL for “real” — I think without any help from me?! — and BLUE, extrapolating from when I told them how to spell “blueberries”?! 

A child's crayon writing, "HOW2 PICK BLUEBER RIES"

Just after 10 PM:

E said: You know how World War I was called the Great War until WWII happened; I wonder if, after this, we’ll no longer be able to speak of the Great Depression. I said, on that note, I’ve been thinking of Beverly Cleary’s first memoir. She said after the Depression was over, their family compared notes with neighbors and friends about how they got through it. It’s strange to think you wouldn’t have talked to people until after it was all over?! We have the internet for constant and confessional contact, information, hacks of all kinds — all coming from our friends as well as anyone who’s trying to sell us anything! 

Sending loving thoughts to teachers, especially teachers of young children, trying their best to keep the kids engaged over distance learning.