Pandemic journal: Day 20

Thursday, April 2, 7:51 AM

Day 20 of voluntary social distancing, Day 17 of mandatory shelter-in-place, Day 14 of statewide shelter-in-place

Theme of the week: partnering 

The whole state has been SiP for 2 weeks now. And our household was doing so voluntarily for almost a week before that. How surreal this all is. I’ve been saying this (and hearing it from others), but it feels like utter, inescapable dystopian collapse while simultaneously not feeling so different from quiet days at home. It looks normal, but our anxious, fearful, determined brains are working working working all the time to figure out what we can DO — for ourselves or for others. (At least, that’s how it feels for me, since I’m not employed and we aren’t in immediate danger of anything but running out of brown sugar!) 

E is taking PTO today and tomorrow; it would have been preschool spring break and we’d been planning to spend the week with my parents. We decided to keep the PTO anyway, for balance and family time.

I went to bed in a little bit of a fret over an email. Just my usual insecurities around getting no reply, worrying that everyone thinks I’m silly and not capable and all that stuff. I did at least tell myself not to worry about it, and then mentally put it into an archival linen-covered dark grey storage box (why not get specific?!) and put the box on a shelf in my mind.

Yesterday, at preschool Zoom circle, I had a fun text exchange with one of the other moms, extra fun because I knew we were texting during the circle; it had the thrill of passing notes in class, while also enabling actual eye contact (or a reasonable facsimile of it) in a group video chat! 

Other tasks yesterday: I sent a note and a check to a friend who could use extra support. I swept the floor while Owl watched Cosmic Kids Yoga. I took all planned April get-togethers off my calendar: grief. I posted about that on FB and friends saw my grief, which helped. In the afternoon I wanted to get offline so I washed dishes and all our dirty plastic bags, and hung the bags out to dry. (I don’t usually wash the outsides of the bags, which now seems shockingly negligent.) I eventually mobilized Owl to come with me to go get our fish share; they actually wanted to run! And they did! Quite a long distance! A novel sensation for me to have my kid run ahead of me, instead of me having to wait for them to catch up. (Obviously, we never made it the 1.5 miles to the fish pickup.) From my FB post about the walk:

Many people were wearing masks today. This is new. N95s, bandanas, surgical masks, cloth masks. Last week (or was it earlier this week?) I saw gloves but not masks.

Every time someone approached, we ducked into doorways to give them more space (if it were just me I would have stepped off the curbs but I didn’t feel good about doing that with Owl). Some people thanked us, with feeling. Some looked at us suspiciously/perplexed. Some continued walking on the sidewalk close to us even though they could definitely have moved another two feet away.

I was aware of something I used to feel most sharply when Owl was a baby: that seeing a happy, active, cheerily burbling small child is a mood boost for many. Some older people — especially the ones with dogs who already kept them at a slow ramble — smiled at us, waved, drew a little closer in a way that made me anxious for us and for them.

A man got out of his car, walked into the UPS store, executing a smooth turn to open the door with his back. The new choreographies of our time: opening, pressing, turning things on without our hands. A new awareness of the term, “high-touch areas”.

The mood feels more tense than a week ago, or maybe that’s just my own mood.

Typed sign in a cafe window: "Free Coffee for Health Care Workers"

I felt terrible about our closest sushi restaurant when I passed them (have felt terrible, every time I’ve walked by) so I ordered a lot of food from them for dinner, and then went out in the car to pick up our veg and fish, and came back and unloaded and washed my hands before going back out for our takeout. The restaurant was so empty and mine was the only order waiting; I really hope it’s only that it was still early and not because this is how much their business has dropped. They had me sign for my receipt; there was one container marked “clean pens” and another for used pens. And they still gave me a frequent-diner stamp card; I hadn’t brought one because the last thing I want right now is to eke a discount from their already slim margins! I tipped them more than 30% and the waitress came out of the restaurant to flag me with thanks, pulling down her mask (!) to speak more clearly.

I also noticed the Greek restaurant advertising 20% off everything; it broke my heart to think that they’re doing this to maintain their business. But perhaps they’re just reflecting the reality that people don’t have as much spending money as they used to. I’ll have to order from them one of these days, too. 

We’re getting a little better at the transfer of takeout from all the potentially contaminated containers! 

It’s worth mentioning that before we went out, Owl and I were on happy terms with each other because I taught them the “high five – up high – down low – too slow” game and they thought it was completely hilarious. We roped E into it too and when Owl got a little discouraged that they were always too slow, I said grownups can’t always manage it either, and sure enough, I managed to get E but he didn’t get me. We laughed as hard as Owl had. 

Y&S have itchy throats. Y has a cough and S has chest congestion. I hope they don’t have COVID. 

After dinner I sat looking at my phone for far too long. I was tired, I guess, and seeking connection and news. Yesterday’s post about Daddo leaving the house to run errands got stories of other people’s parents doing the same. One person said their mom, a lung cancer survivor who literally only has one lung left, is still leaving the house; another said their mom and stepdad threw a dinner party (!!!).

I need to read up on what disability rights advocates are saying about the triage protocols equating to eugenics. I’m sure they are correct, and that their battle is uphill, when it seems widely accepted (?) that the best way to allocate lifesaving aid in a shortage is to give it to the people with the best chance of survival. Obviously physical robustness is no indicator of human worth. And yet, if there aren’t protocols, it’s up to the individual doctor or nurse or whomever, and that can’t possibly be good, in a healthcare system already shown to have disparities of care along gender and racial lines (and more). 

In between my evening phone sessions I went into our “decontamination” hallway with a pair of scissors… I was getting antsy letting parcels build up, so I opened everything, broke down the packaging materials, separated out what we could bring in and clean (versus stuff that could stay out and decontaminate some more). And then I set up a couple of boxes to serve as cupboards, so it’s all more organized. It’s weird because there’s hundreds of dollars’ worth of paint and chocolate out there, and 8 pounds of rolled oats and the Italian Easter bread my mom shipped us from Williams-Sonoma. And bless our babysitter who is so sweet; she sent a parcel for Owl with fun stuff, and included a baggie with a bottle of alcohol, a packet of bleach wipes, some gloves, and sanitizer. 

Sending loving thoughts to everyone trying to keep their at-risk family members from unnecessarily exposing themselves to infection!