Pandemic journal: Day 21

Friday, April 3, just after 7 AM

Day 21 of voluntary social distancing, Day 18 of mandatory shelter-in-place, Day 15 of statewide shelter-in-place

Theme of the week: partnering 


  • Having so many windows in the apartment 
  • Having plenty of tea
  • I didn’t delay on buying a new electric kettle
  • Having plenty of paint (not that I’m using it) 
  • Liking my neighbors
  • Dried fruit for my oatmeal
  • Not having a rainy spring so far (bad for drought but definitely good for morale)
  • We had our car fixed right before this
  • Good balm for dry hands
  • Radishes
  • A 4yo who is excited to stay home
  • I already had a regular habit of cooking with dried beans / I already owned a great bean cookbook
  • We don’t get tired of rice!
  • Greens
  • Oranges
  • Fresh air (getting ever fresher)
  • Green, growing things
  • Fresh produce
  • Cheese
  • Trees are still in blossom
  • Talking to my neighbors’ cat who was on their porch the other day
  • Smiles from strangers
  • Dogs
  • Rainbows in windows
  • Hearing the baby birds from our bedroom 
  • Seeing crows fly overhead, through the windows, while taking my evening dance class
  • Moving my body
  • I like my undies
  • Nobody has a cold anymore (fellow preschool and daycare parents know the struggle!)
  • Lists
  • Weeks without wearing a bra
  • People making humorous videos
  • I like my pen and I’m stocked on refills for it
  • Having a sewing machine
  • Looking out the window at people’s roofs
  • My coast strawberry plant that I bought on a whim last spring is finally, now, making a berry!
  • Looking around my apartment to see art I made, art my kid made, a paper crane my friend made, a poem my friend wrote
  • Soap that smells good
  • Wool socks and base layers
  • We already had a bidet
  • Having a freezer
  • My bright yellow plant pot
  • People walking and biking all the time
  • Trees
  • Driving with the windows down
  • Daisies in our small yard that my kid likes to pick
  • The pigeons loiter on the sidewalks more and my kid has discovered the joy of chasing them
  • I had a stock of random yard-sale art supplies stashed away to parcel out to my kid
  • I can almost always see other humans from one of our windows
  • Grass
  • My orchid is about to do its annual bloom
  • The postal service
  • Color in anything
  • I brought my extra art supplies back from my parents’ house, back in December
  • Bread
  • Pancakes
  • Chocolate is nonperishable
  • We have a pantry (the previous apartment didn’t)
  • I can use a thicker, heavier notebook for journaling since I don’t need to carry it around
  • Blankets and cushions
  • Soft, comfy pants (and that I already owned several pairs!)
  • Dancing doesn’t need anything but my body
  • Sparkly things that catch the light
  • The effortful sensation of using my muscles in new ways
  • Strollers
  • Sunshine
  • It’s spring, not summer or winter
  • Calligraphy 
  • Drawing 
  • Spices
  • Soy sauce 
  • We have lots of salt (kosher, Maldon, lemon!)

It’s actually somewhat hard to make a small mercies list that doesn’t veer into large mercies (like having food at all) or simply things I’m grateful for (like long lists of foods), or things that translate just into having enough money and being healthy. 

My back is feeling strained today; I need to be careful; I must have overdone it yesterday during dance class. Or maybe this is just the inevitable consequence of my tight muscles, and doing so much more movement while still being pretty sedentary in general? Alas. Mild activity, today, then. 

Eggs and sole for breakfast. 

Baked petrale sole with eggs

N tested negative. It’s not infallible; there are false negatives; but I’m guessing this result provides her with a lot of relief. And she says she’s feeling better in general — not recovered, but better. I asked how she was receiving the news and she said maybe shock? And added that what she needs is a good cry, but there’s no time to have it. I can’t quite imagine not having the space even for a cry. 

Yesterday was much easier than usual because of E taking time off work, though that also gave it a very weird quality where it felt like a weekend but it wasn’t. So often lately I’m back and forth between productive and connected, and in a trance of tiredness and internet overwhelm. Perhaps, also, I felt really zoned because I ate refined starches and sweets for the first time in awhile? I’d gone to Firebrand to pick up some pastries as well as an expensive bag of flour. I forgot I’d written “wishing you all good health” in the “special instructions” section but the workers who were there when I picked up thanked me for my “nice note”. So I came home and ate a piece of challah and a portion of a chocolate banana muffin and felt positively asleep by the late afternoon. It’s a shock to me how little sweet tooth I have these days, or interest in foods that seem too rich; I didn’t even order any croissants or kouign ammans. I did get a cookie assortment because I knew Owl would like them and I didn’t want the decision fatigue of choosing my own flavors, but between the cookies and the Easter bread Mommy had shipped to us and the many bars of chocolate I ordered online, I now feel rather overwhelmed with sweets. 

In fact I feel honestly rather overwhelmed with food in general after placing three orders yesterday: Good Eggs had delivery windows open for the first time in a week or more, our CSF had a flash sale, and Y recommended a smokehouse that had ham on sale for Easter. And last week I stocked up on raisins (2 lbs) and ground beef (3 lbs) through our CSA. Just a couple of days ago I was feeling like we might run low on so many things, but now we have loads of dried fruit coming, 3 lbs ground turkey, 3 lbs ground pork, 1 lb Polish sausage, 7 lbs ham, a saucisson sec, some cheese, 1 gal milk, ½ gal oat milk, beef jerky, more nuts, more molasses, oranges, apples, 6 lbs onions, maple syrup, some more fish… it’s a little embarrassing as this is definitely more food than we need for a month, at least it’s more meat than we need; the onions and milks may actually get used up. I don’t want to hoard or take anything away from people who need deliveries more than we do. But I also think it’s a good thing if we can continue our streak of not needing to visit a store for the duration of the SiP. I’m thinking of the simulations I watched that showed rates of infection going up when people visit central hubs, and I feel like it’s better to not add to that if I can, and spread out our sourcing from different places that see less traffic? OTOH even our neighborhood grocery store is probably too small to count as a hub? But that’s the strategy we’re choosing and there’s no denying it is much easier, because I shouldn’t bring Owl out shopping anyway; there’s no point adding yet another vector and also slowing down the whole process. This is also privilege at work, being able to do this and drop something like $400 on groceries at once, without worrying about the cost of flour or fancy ham. I suppose this is me once again confronting the insulated reality of my income bracket.

Oh, before I forget, Y is feeling better and SV realized his chest soreness was from digging their retaining wall. 

I read yesterday that in NYC this is hitting poor and POC neighborhoods hardest, which will surprise no one but is utterly enraging and heartbreaking. And that hospitals — and morgues — are getting slammed, and there’s now a directive that if first responders can’t resuscitate someone at home, they’re not allowed to bring them to the hospital for further attempts. Meanwhile I saw a post by a RN who clocked out and then returned to sit with a dying COVID-19 patient just so they wouldn’t have to die alone. Which is enough to cry about for an hour, just by itself, only I don’t want to go down that road right now. 

Meanwhile someone stabbed a 2yo in a supermarket parking lot because the family is Asian; I haven’t even clicked into the story to see if the child is seriously hurt. The racist attacks are increasing even though I haven’t encountered any here (is it only a matter of time? Or is this something else that wealth shelters us from? Living in a diverse area isn’t guaranteed protection, because I’ve heard stories from local friends). A friend invited me to an online community against anti-Asian racism, made up of all Asians, but I can’t even decide if I want to join; I don’t know what to DO and I don’t want to overwhelm myself with more stories. Is that wrong? Is that turning away when I need to be bearing witness and standing in solidarity? Would it achieve anything if I joined?

OK, I checked the news article. The 2yo is okay. 

Ugh, even a few minutes on FB and my mood has dropped. 

I only have 5 minutes before I have to go be tech support on a preschool call, but I noticed yesterday a local restaurant is offering grocery items along with their takeout. The milk is $6 and the flour $10. Price gouging? Just what things cost (I don’t know what brands they’re selling)? Support for a small biz?! 

3:16 PM

A friend’s friend’s partner has died of COVID. They have a 2yo. The friend just turned 35. On the FB thread where my friend shared this, another friend said her sister in NYC lost a friend in 12 hours. I heard a day or 2 ago that an 81yo realtor in Oakland died within days. Each such story is someone’s life and community, collapsed. I read something — I think maybe Eric Garcetti said it? — saying it’s not that everyone’s going to die, but more people will die than we are used to. E said for someone our age that likelihood of death from COVID is something like our typical chance of death in a year, getting compressed into a single month. I feel like the death reports are like that too: griefs and losses that would normally spread out the devastation over a month or year are now coming in every day. 

I’ve had quite a lot of frustration in the past about being stuck at home with only Owl for company for hours and hours, Owl nonstop talking, but today I’m feeling intensely grateful for this experience of being a parent: knowing my kid is home safe, and I’m not facing long days alone with only my thoughts, the way so many of my childless friends are doing; I see bleakness in so many of their eyes. (In a recent chat with my sisters, we said that the parents are probably in such good spirits right now because finally, they know we are all home safe and aren’t going out, which is all they ever wanted. We laughed, but it’s kind of not a joke.) 

Sending loving thoughts to the workers preparing everyone’s takeout.