Pandemic journal: Day 28

Friday, April 10, 7:23 AM

Day 28 of voluntary social distancing, Day 25 of mandatory shelter-in-place, Day 22 of statewide shelter-in-place

Theme of the week: pleasure 

A spiral notebook with handwriting on the last page and on the inside back cover

I could stop here with this notebook, and would under normal circumstances, but I feel the need to use every possible page and that includes the inside back cover. Then I have a new notebook lined up and I’m so grateful, though I bet the new one won’t last nearly 4 weeks as this one has. OTOH though it’s thinner it’s larger, so who knows? [It ended up lasting 18 days.] 

I almost missed this morning’s writing with AS and HB but luckily Zoom reminded me, on my phone — I thought I’d turned these notifications off! — so I didn’t miss it. I’d like to try what I’ve been doing with our sessions: doing a slightly different style of freewrite, instead of plain journaling. 


  • Face masks as fashion statements (in the US, anyway)
  • Exponential graphs (for many of us)
  • Zoom meetings (for many of us)
  • LA and Beijing without smog, blue skies in many cities
  • Toilet paper as precious resource, flour as same

Actually I can’t think of any more. It’s not that gripping a list, I guess. I feel sort of blank and not really awake yet and I think that’s part of the problem. I wonder if I could do a different write that works with that feeling… Here’s a list, maybe: 


  • Drop your ribs, drop your kneecaps, drop your shoulders
  • Un-tense your jaw, your fists, your belly
  • Deep breaths, expand your heart and your belly
  • Drink water
  • Take a break from your device and look outside
  • Stand up from your chair, walk around, stretch
  • Call your parent(s) or sibling(s) or other relatives
  • Change your clothes, take a shower, comb your hair (if you do)
  • Eat a vegetable, eat fruit, eat some fiber, eat some protein
  • Do nothing for a minute and just be
  • Water your plants, trim the dead leaves
  • Dust the baseboards, clean your mirrors
  • Use the good dishes, the cute linens, eat the special treats
  • Sugar is a stimulant

8:37 AM

I took a break to talk to H&A, dance, eat cereal and milk, refill my water glass, check the mail, post on IG about starting this new notebook (how beautifully FLAT it is!), and then go out on the deck to investigate the noise (a helicopter almost directly overhead). And now I’m back to writing, a bit distractible because E and Owl are now moving about, so I have my headphones on. I’m going to set up the timer and try to get my focus back. I have till 10. 

Two notebooks next to each other, one spiral-bound and the other not

It was strangely soothing to make the above list, probably because it’s so rooted in the immediate and in the body and so normal

Yesterday evening I went to dance class. It wasn’t as euphoric as it sometimes is, but there were 2 people present who are often in my Monday night class, and it was a pleasure to see them. One of them, E, I partnered with during our final in-person class (we didn’t know, then, that the studio would soon be closed, but the air felt holding, uneasy). It’s not usually a partner class but occasionally we do partner exercises, and this time we did an improvisation — contactless, in deference to the looming pandemic, although definitely not from a safe distance — that I loved, moving across the room in proximity as a duo, taking turns, not speaking. I don’t know if they saw me or remembered our partnering. 

During yesterday’s class, the instructor said he’d been talking to friends about being alone in their apartments and not getting enough touch, and he’d been thinking about how we can touch ourselves and remember we can still have that. So he had us do that as we danced, lightly brushing our own bodies starting with our hands and eventually moving all over, and then distance our hands a little from our bodies but imagine the touch was still there, and then to try and caress ourselves all over without using our hands. It was delicious! And so very needed, even for me, with 2 people in my household I can touch and be touched by, freely. I can’t imagine the intense touch-loneliness of people living alone (some without even a pet). 

After dance class I took a shower and then put on my favorite new boy shorts and lay on the bed with the windows and blinds open, luxuriating in the breeze and the air, and took a selfie where my front is on the bed but it’s quite clear the undies are all I’m wearing. It’s actually very modest compared to the things we see in any magazine and on many billboards, book covers, movie posters, etc. But the point is, it’s me, and I don’t share stuff like this, so for me it’s basically a nude pic. And I did share it this time, selectively. Multiple people have told me that I’ve been inspiring them to dance, so I hope I’m doing a little bit of a service in reminding people to take joy and pleasure and delight in their bodies. It’s kind of funny I’m doing that when I’m usually so OUT of my body, but I guess I’ve committed very hard to this practice at this time, knowing it’s needed to counteract my usual tendency toward tension and immobility — which won’t serve me at all while stuck at home! (Doesn’t serve me any time, really.) 

It’s very nice being able to write in these notebooks that would be too heavy or fragile or bulky to cart around in my usual fashion! 

I went to bed with Erik and that was also delicious, getting to be proximate and touching and exploring! But it was also a little… well, it’s not that it was difficult to be present with our luscious sensations, but that my thoughts were overwhelming. I’d read days 14-16 from the NYC med resident who’s been chronicling his work on Reddit — he seems to be breaking a little, compared to the previous entries, and I hope reading the comments from his fellow doctors helps him — and then an account of a pulmonologist who had a bad case of COVID, but has recovered. So my feelings were all combined desire, death, suffering, medical mysteries, wondering if CA will manage to avoid what NYC is going through, thoughts of friends… a lot, for sure. But I’m glad, oh so glad, I can bring all of that to bed and we can be together anyway. 

What else did I do yesterday? Sent another invite for a Zoom social, telling people to come as they are, no need to be cheerful. I took some chocolate from “decontamination” and ate it. I got an email from an acquaintance sharing some intimate personal experience; I’m honored to have that shared with me. I had a video chat with SD and we’re going to try and make it a weekly one, yay! I’d been thinking, earlier, if you recall, that it’s maybe hard to deepen friendships during this time but I guess it isn’t, necessarily, and even then I knew that it wasn’t — I think it was more that I feared no one would want that with me. 

Another thing: I reread Rilla of Ingleside, yesterday, because I’d linked to it in my blog post and discovered it was online for free. I mostly skimmed but I still think it’s a really good war novel; it started out silly, and of course it is a period piece with views I can’t approve of, but I felt a kinship. I suppose war is worse than pandemic. It was also a different era, with different spread of info and different ways of life, and for younger people on the front lines now there’s at least some hope whereas I don’t know about soldiers during WWI… but maybe I can only say that because CA hasn’t yet been hit with a surge? Or maybe we’re wealthy enough to escape? Let’s see… yeah, ok, just from a quick search: deaths in the Battle of Arras, listed on one site as the 15th most deadly of WWI: 218,000. Breaking news right now is that deaths globally from COVID-19 are at 100,000. So the scale is quite different. 

This journaling is my way of cutting tally marks into trees, like they do in deserted-island movies. 

2:38 PM

The parents are losing their minds not being able to feed or help us. They’ve shipped us all these nonsensical food items and they just BOUGHT DONUTS to drop off at S’s. It would be incredibly sweet and touching and moving if it weren’t terrifying/infuriating! 

Sending loving thoughts to those who are facing this pandemic from places of conflict, war, violence, unrest.