Pandemic journal: Day 36

Saturday, April 18, 8:18 AM

Day 36 of voluntary social distancing, Day 33 of county shelter-in-place, Day 30 of statewide shelter-in-place

Theme of the week: You are here 

I’m distractible this morning, which is no surprise because there are distractions! I’m simmering barley and Owl and Erik are moving around, and I’ve got music on, and I need to take Owl out to go get pretzels. I have to bring my mask and wear it if there’s a line for pickup — the county (and several other Bay Area counties) mandated face coverings starting yesterday at midnight (grace period till Wed) if interacting with others, though there are some exceptions for exercise or being in a car with members of your own household. Non-compliance is a misdemeanor. This seems very much in line with what I’ve been seeing, and also what feels appropriate at this time, though it’s quite a departure from regular US culture! J and I were just saying on Wed that it works in Asia where so much communication is subtle and nonverbal; I don’t know how it will go here.

Asian American woman in short hair and glasses, wearing a navy blue face mask

In the first few weeks I was all about trying to make do with the food we have and eating mostly vegetarian, but now our fridge and freezer are loaded with meat, I’m running low on beans, I’ve been scarfing chocolate… I suppose it makes sense, as it was a pretty big departure to be eating all those nuts, and as we’ve settled into a kind of schedule I’m pretty busy and have less time and energy to cook or meal plan.

There’s been a drain on my mental resources that just makes it harder to accomplish anything, try new things or complicated things, and make decisions that are anything but my habitual ones. Kind of interesting, I remember a similar thing happening with the start of preschool: at first it felt way easier than my regular life because old stressors had been removed while new ones hadn’t moved in to take their place, and in the meantime there was novelty and a lot of good stuff to buoy me. (New relationship energy with a routine?!) And then I settle into my habits, which in my case involve taking on too much and trying to do it all to a really high degree of excellence, worrying about whether I’m doing things right and whether I fit in, jumping in full-tilt while still holding onto a lot of my open loops from the previous stage.

For instance, I now have evening activities 4 nights out of the 7 each week! And on at least 2 of those nights, there are multiple activities, stacked. I have 2 regular preschool activities 4 days a week, and an additional activity on Friday which I coordinate. I have 3-4 movement classes during the week (included in some of the evening things I mentioned) and a longish walk to go get the CSF, weather allowing. I have 4 standing daytime appointments in addition to all that, early morning writing 2 days/week, and many ad-hoc meetings in between. That’s a lot! I wonder if I should make a visual schedule of all this — I think it would help to see it. 

Shelter-in-place schedule drawn in black and neon pens

That’s a lot, isn’t it? When you add in meals, additional one-off meetings and chats both scheduled and spontaneous… errands and walks… livestreams I wanted to tune into!… that’s a lot. And it’s all broken up, too.

I sent an email to the incoming preschool board yesterday, after I realized it would make me feel much better — and maybe other people too — if we had more of a sense of ourselves as a unit before we actually have to do anything or make tricky decisions. In light of not knowing what the next 6 months will look like in the world, much less for our school, a little team-building seems prudent. I spent a good hour or so composing this email, so it was great to get a couple of positive responses. It was strange and liberating, feeling like I ought to tell the current president or get her approval before sending the message and then realizing… no, I have full authority and permission and right to send a welcome message to the board and to do it however I please! It sounds silly, but for someone who’s so concerned always with doing the right thing, it is totally wild to recognize my own power and authority. Probably no one else will bother to respond, but it’s the email I would have wanted to receive, so. 

The barley is delicious.

Milk being poured into a pot of pearl barley, brown sugar, citrus zests, and vanilla bean

Sending loving thoughts to event planners who’ve lost work and watched their industry implode, and virtual event planners who suddenly have to adjust to a brand new world where everything is online.