Pandemic journal: Month 8 (October)

Weeks 28-33: September 21-November 1, 2020

As is common in pandemic life, time got “mushy”, as a friend said to me recently; I thought I’d included all of September in my last post, but some of it ended up here.

Week 28. No theme this week. 


In spite of my moroseness, I feel better than last week. I got tiny bits of normal interaction from running into a friend, our family outing, two pod get-togethers, seeing AGB. It makes everything less isolated and miserable… I can tell by the way I’m enjoying movement and my body once more. I think my joy meter is even close to 100 again, which I didn’t think would be possible before the end of SiP. 

Seaweed on damp sand, arranged into the shape of a person holding a heart balloon

But yesterday I was so sleepy everything felt like sleepwalking. I skipped dance class because organizing the window seat felt more important. Maybe it was. 

There’s so much big-picture thinking and planning that can’t happen when I’m distracted and multitasking. I’m remembering what WM said once: “Nobody really multitasks, they just switch back and forth and think they’re doing it.” 


It’s still the same world as it was yesterday, I guess, but Breonna Taylor’s killers were acquitted and the only indictment was for “endangerment” in firing into the walls. I don’t even know what to say. It’s further evidence nobody needed, that Black lives are not valued under the laws and structures of this country. 

Public art at Albany Beach honors Breonna Taylor

Week 29: Less is more


Trump has been hospitalized “for a few days” “out of caution”. It’ll be so unfair if he escapes with a mild case.

Week 30: Small things add up


Owl slept in their own room last night. I feel so free. And I am not starting the day with a deficit!


I remind myself that vegging out does a lot to enable my productivity; these two modes are not contradictory. 

Pandemic life: I’m eating biodynamic organic grapes and saltines with melted American cheese from a 5-lb block. 


I dreamed I had to quarantine for an unspecified amount of time in a storm basement that was also N &W’s in-law unit, and instead of being horrified, I thought how wonderful, to get some time together. 

Yesterday I felt seriously dejected in the afternoon; nothing felt meaningful and once again I felt lonely and left out of everything. I wonder if anyone at preschool knows how much I feel that; as President I’m presumably more looped in than anyone. Nevertheless, I wrote 20 postcards and did some preschool work, installed hardware, went to dance class, and didn’t have time to even look at the new Lady Sherlock though it came out yesterday. 

Collage of nine photos of Lisa Hsia, a short-haired Asian person in dusty pink and rust-colored clothes, posing against various city backdrops

It’s no wonder I feel behind on everything, when I stop to look at it. Most days I spend 2-4h on low-level tasks, like postcarding, laundry, putting away dishes. That sounds like a lot of time, but it’s the accumulation of absolutely tiny moments, maybe only a couple of minutes or even seconds between interruptions. If I need a slightly longer stretch (“longer” = 15-30 min) for something like walking to the mailbox or writing an email or researching a thing, I might only get 1-2 of those sessions in a day. Hypothetically I could have several hours after Erik gets off work around 5, but it’s a lot to muster energy after having been occupied for the past 10 hours. So that means the larger, more holistic, thinky tasks that require flow and at least 30 min uninterrupted simply do not have a home anywhere in the week, except during my single 4-hour planned stretch on Wednesday afternoons. I suppose what really happens is my back-burner brain works on overdrive, and because my brain is formidable and my child relatively self-entertaining I manage to get by, but it’s frustrating and draining. 

3 possible solutions: (1) get more strategic about planning for Owl to be on devices or video chat (with the 3 adults who can hold her attention); (2) get more intentional about evenings; (3) find ways to further break up the big holistic tasks. I wonder if I could even code my bullet journal to help me identify tasks that need to be Pomodoro-ed versus the more interruptible ones.

To-do list with some tasks preceded by a tomato emoji and others preceded by a juggler emoji

Actually! It looks good and useful already to code my tasks that way, because even just seeing all the tomatoes together makes it very clear how many sessions I need if I’m going to get through those tasks in one day. 


I am unfortunately consumed this AM by wondering how to explain to xx that our friendship is not working for me. I just made a list of the main reasons I don’t want to cut them off and it boils down to: I wanted this to work out. What else is there to say but that I did everything I could, and it was both too much, and not enough? 


The AQI is ZERO all over the Bay Area!!! 

Last night, Owl said, “I wish we had more friends. I want to make more friends.” Cue my heart breaking — for them and for myself. And I so wanted to text that to xx. It aches to hold myself back from a friend. 

An adult and a small child walk in an empty field with ponds and mountains in the distance

Week 31: Resist the attention economy


All Friday, I grieved the possibility of losing xx’s friendship. I remembered good times, things I still wanted to share. I know memories are a highlight reel and not the in-between moments of doubt and hurt, but still, it felt miserable. I had to remind myself I’m not throwing anything away yet; I’m just mulling things over. 

I’m thinking of something R said, about struggling to understand that conflict is ok within a relationship. I keep waiting for xx to get tired of me voicing my needs. I always feel like it’s disloyal to speak up, that it’s impossible for my needs to coexist with others’ (and therefore I should prioritize theirs). RIE classes felt revolutionary for me in telling me that both parent and child should have their needs met. I don’t have that many models for intimate relationships where love doesn’t have to mean self-sacrifice. 

Finally, Saturday, I sent a boundary-setting text, and then felt a little more empowered even as I also wondered if I was precipitating the end. And then I tried not to look at my phone. 

I am using this time productively (I guess?) by calling the doctor’s office to see about getting Owl a flu shot. If I’m anxious and frustrated already, might as well be on hold. 


Yesterday I was extremely productive, even cheerful all day long, and affectionate toward everyone. I felt truly free to let xx go, if that’s what will be best for us. 


It’s 9:40 AM and I haven’t done very much and I have a little headache. I feel worn out. As usual. It’s a pandemic, Trump is unaccountably still standing, they’re going to put Barrett on the Supreme Court, and I’m running low on postcards to voters (although I suppose, I can always paint a large sheet of heavy paper and cut it up). 

Also… have I gone for a walk since Friday? I think not. Perhaps it’s a day where it makes sense to Pomodoro in truly tiny increments… otherwise I won’t do a damn thing, including rest. 

View of Emeryville from the Berkeley Marina


I talked to xx. We sat on Zoom for two hours Fri night and went over everything. I feel like they heard me. I don’t know if they’ll be able to give me what I need, going forward (and I was upfront about that too), but we’re going to keep trying. We both want to be friends, still.  

Meanwhile I remembered that I forgot to tell our pod I had an interaction that violated our group agreement. I texted them to say abjectly and unhappily that my behavior was inexcusable, and we talked it out. It’s humbling to recognize that even though I try to be so careful and conscientious, I still messed up. 

Week 32: Do it like it matters


I was talking to another parent on Monday who said her pod has “saved” them. She asked if I had one — which made me realize I had hoped our pod would save us, and it hasn’t. It hasn’t been enough, most weeks, and it’s been so inconsistent that I haven’t had any idea what’s the norm and what’s the fluke, or even if there is a norm. 


I estimate that I put in ~13h on preschool this week, including 3 nights in a row of meetings. And I may need to do more between now and Monday — I don’t have to but it would make my life easier. But I’m drained and I need to take care of myself, so I am trying to think what really does need to be done ASAP — but that is its own task! But 13h (or 14-15 if I do more, and I probably will) is unsustainable both practically and emotionally. Yesterday I was so exhausted — from the combination of mental and emotional/relational load — that I wanted to cry, and that means I’ve been at the end of my rope for too long. I suppose I could try, next week, doing the absolute minimum aside from the diversity committee meeting. That’s a good idea; I’m sighing with relief at the very thought! 


I need to rest and relax and I don’t feel like I can. There’s all that preschool work hanging over me; I’m on high alert in interactions with xx; I need to vote and write more postcards; the apartment is a mess; I’m behind on stretching and I’m too overwhelmed and tired to start; I’m not truly looking forward to anything; I am constantly an ass to Owl and they are actually adapting to it (which makes it even worse); I’m behind on my blog; our kitchen is full of things I need to cook but I don’t feel like it. I just want to escape it all by playing games… but I know how much time I sink into these games and amid the dull triumph of beating a level, there’s misery. 

Blurry photo of a short-haired Asian person in motion

Week 33: Honor yourself before the work 


I didn’t sleep well; I felt just overwhelmed by I suppose anxiety over all things. It’s too close to the election now; I don’t have any more postcards to channel my energy into. 

Stack of postcards to voters

Sending love to people having tension in their friendships, families, and other relationships.