Pandemic journal: Month 11 (January)

Weeks 42-46: January 1-31, 2021

Week 42 (continued). Theme: boundaries with compassion. 

Friday. New Year’s Day. At my parents’ house

The Bay Area shelter order has been extended indefinitely.

Saturday. Virtual retreat, day 1 of 2. 

Yesterday I took my new skateboard out for some practice, fell backward, and landed hard on my head. I was wearing a helmet but was really headachy so I rested the whole afternoon. I’m going to practice falling, next, before I get back on the board!

Writing from one of Ericka Lutz’s prompts today:


Slow it down, darling one. 

It doesn’t have to be about all things

In this single moment.

It can just be

Your body,

A need,

A chance to fulfill,

Not a failure waiting

But a great gesture toward love.

Let your body remember its self-sovereignty.

Your strangeness is sacred. 

Your desires, precious. 

Your fears, worthy, as much as any part of you the world celebrates.

Expand, dear divine,

And nourish yourself. 

Sunday. Virtual retreat, day 2 of 2. 

This isn’t a full retreat, but it was still so lovely to tuck myself away in a room yesterday and do as I wished for hours and hours. Owl didn’t like it; they shoved a note under my door reading “Ma-Ma I miss you”. But it was still mostly solitude — MM said she made dinner and ate with her family, and other people also had obligations. Of course! It’s a group of women! 

Child's drawing reading "Ma-Ma I miss you"

I’ve sent a pulse oximeter and loads of random stuff like cough drops and Emergen-C and kid toys to my friends who tested positive. It might look excessive when they get all the parcels but it eases my sense of helplessness considerably. 

Meditation sit w/N made me really feel how I am today: aching head, tight shoulders and chest, uneasy belly/digestion, hurting knees, cold feet. And I’m afraid. 

Week 43. Theme: embodiment.


SI said I have a “just tremendous” talent for teaching and facilitation — after my movement workshop — and this was echoed by other people who said they’d happily pay for my movement classes if that became a thing. Well, it isn’t going to, but it’s nice to know. 

Short-haired Asian person in glasses and layered clothes dances in a bedroom


I’ve been agitated and tense all day, for so many reasons — and the GA runoffs which are close but about which, it seems, we can be cautiously optimistic. It’s a lot, crashing in after 2 weeks of vacation… I’ve been trying to self-soothe all day by means both healthful and not (games, overeating, sweets, reading about COVID and GA and symptoms of mild concussion!). I’ve never been very good at compartmentalizing and times like this make that very obvious! 


It has been a hell of a day since I last wrote. Ossoff’s win came in after Warnock’s: relief. BUT THEN, as Congress was meeting to certify the electoral votes, ARMED TRUMP SUPPORTERS BROKE INTO THE CAPITAL BUILDING. The legislators had to don gas masks and evacuate but unlike BLM protesters, these insurrectionists strolled around the building, looted, took selfies, and even invaded some of the legislators’ offices: there’s an appalling photo of a white man with his feet up on Speaker Pelosi’s desk. 

Congress reconvened afterward to complete the certification, Trump’s cabinet is resigning left and right, Biden is officially President-elect, a disappointingly small number of people has been arrested (not surprising, alas), and Ilhan Omar has filed a new call for impeachment. At least 1 person (an insurrectionist) died during the attempted coup, and everyone is furious, alert, maxed-out, and exhausted. 

I had to lead our general meeting after all of this and I really didn’t want to, but I acknowledged the day and that I wished I could give everyone the night off, and then the meeting went well and even, I think, provided a lot of welcome distraction. (As I remarked to T: SOME OF US know how to be President!!) 

After I told T about this she asked what I was doing to ground myself — a very good question. Some things we talked about: warmth, sitting with Darcy the cat, breathing, touch. I made a satsuma candle and journaled with it nearby. I’m going to avoid devices for the rest of the evening, and stretch and/or get warm, and go to bed. 

Petting a black and white cat who looks happy


I was shocked to realize it’s Fri already. Time has always been strange during SiP but these first days of 2021 have been something else! This morning AS said she kept looking out the window on Wednesday, seeking who knows what, and I was able to tell her what T said: that she kept remembering the day of the red sky, and felt the sky ought to be red again. A said: that is so appositive. 

If everything will just stay non-terrible for a week or so (only “normal” pandemic terrible, not the fever pitch of the past few days!!), I can start taking care of myself again. So much relief yesterday: no new insurrection! No new crises! Knock on wood for all of it! I could rest for the first night in way too many. 

Week 44. Theme: grounding.


Preschool is stressful right now; there is more than usual to do and consider, with application season starting and the board transition coming up. It feels a little like the start of the year all over again: pressure, overwhelm, learning curve. I’m a more experienced and confident president, my board is cohesive, and my working relationships are solid, but it still eats up my energy. 

Monday just after 5 PM

SUUUUPER frazzled. I told TY yesterday that reentry after winter holidays is hard, and I meant hard on parents but she interpreted it as hard on kids, and I’m sure that was Owl today. They had a couple of cries, tormented the cat even after being told not to, needed many hugs and much firmness as well as much soothing… I gave them more time than usual, but my mom was back to her usual activities too and Owl felt the lack of attention. So it was a very draining day, holding certain lines with them and sitting with them while they were upset and acting out. I managed to stay well-regulated, but it was hard. 


We’re settling into a kind of routine here at my parents’, but this doesn’t feel like home; at the same time, home feels farther away each week, and that’s painful and unwelcome. I want to go back, but without being able to see our pod or go to school, from the perspective of caring for Owl, and also our own and my parents’ mental health, returning would be the wrong choice. It feels like, well, like living in a good hotel might, I suppose: the most luxurious limbo, and it induces a kind of limbo feeling in my mind, too, which I don’t like. I don’t feel ownership over my life; I don’t feel — a good term JM used in our meeting yesterday — self-determination. 

Pink, blue, white, and grey doodle by Lisa Hsia


I’m SO tired. I haven’t done enough movement, I’m too tired to do any, I’m so behind on preschool work, I sat petting the cat for a long lovely time last night and now my body feels allergic, I miss friends and feel more isolated than before even though being at my parents’ staves off the bleakness of it. I could fall asleep just sitting here. 

Chatting with AS helps, though. And yesterday I chatted with both SD and KK. Owl barged in and wanted to talk to KK too, and afterward KK said it warmed her so much to be called Auntie KK and that Owl was willing to talk to her, and when I recounted this to Owl at bedtime they said, “Oh! I am so glad!” 

I was telling A that I am not much of a one for gratitude journaling — being told to list what I’m grateful for just makes me want to dig in my heels and say “No! I won’t!” — but even in the midst of my woes-listing, the gratitude creeps in. 


Yesterday I was greatly shaken to learn that two friends have separated after 16 years, and an acquaintance is getting an ugly divorce after 29 years. The pandemic upends lives in so many ways. 


It’s been nice to reread my blog, to recognize how much we’ve all changed and learned since the first months of SiP. I see the fire in myself. Nobody has a sense of me as someone who doesn’t give up, but while I don’t have a lot of stamina for acute struggle and I feel everything very deeply and get discouraged as easily as anyone, I also don’t drop things or people. I thought that Owl gets their persistence from E but they get it from me too. It’s not always healthy; I’ve been thinking of our old cat Tisha, how his previous owners told us he had bloodied himself struggling to get free of things (collars, closed rooms). 

Yesterday I got really frustrated and overset again, almost crying while talking to Daddo, and then being teary again while cooking with E. When I mentioned it to AGB she asked if I wanted to talk about it, and I read her message and just started crying. She made a beautiful space for me, suggested hot water and honey to relax my throat, and then we just talked — or rather, she mainly talked in a soothing fashion about her plants and her apartment, and showed me her cat over video, and it helped enough that I could sit down to dinner with the parents without totally breaking down.

Sunday midday.

Well. I just spent almost the whole sit with N alternately tearing up, breathing, crying, weeping, quietly sobbing, and gently rubbing my skull by my ears, my chest, and my left shoulder. And I had forgotten to mute myself. I thanked N for being a space where I could be sad — I’m realizing, there really isn’t space for that here at my parents’. I felt I should apologize for taking over our meditation space but mindfulness is about being present with what is, and it’s not like I intentionally cried for half an hour. I don’t know when I’ve ever cried like that in front of anyone, with “no” reason, in silence, openly. 

And then, minutes after, I got a text about an indirect COVID exposure at school and had to put my president hat back on. 

Week 45. Theme: listen to the loudest need.

Monday. MLK Day.

I’ve said all pandemic that I just assume everyone is depressed but at the moment I’m feeling even more bleakness from almost everyone. And why shouldn’t we be?! I hope the inauguration lifts our spirits.

Wednesday. Inauguration Day.

HB is dancing and singing and wearing pearls. AS has also donned pearls. I can’t imagine owning a pearl necklace but I suppose if I did, I might wear it too. Even though I told E yesterday that I didn’t need to watch the inauguration, I do feel a desire to be part of a shared national moment of celebration. This morning I find I want to share it with Owl, too. But I’m also concerned about what MA wrote on FB, about a tape delay — in case security is breached, let’s put it most mildly. 


Last night’s board meeting went well. I remember the first board meeting I attended last year as a general member, and how W & I had both felt impressed at this group of smart, caring people working together to get things done — and a strong sense of “omg, that’s going to be us”. And here we are now. 


I woke from a purely nice dream where I was in an ice cream shop in Paris. Just a simple and delicious dream, a gift from my brain!

Four figure gesture sketches in pencil, by Lisa Hsia

Week 46. Theme: ease. 


CA is going to lift the strict orders and go back to the colored tiers, since ICU capacity is no longer quite so stretched. I wonder what that means for us. 

Evening, after a meditation workshop with Taisha Paggett

What am I practicing right now [when I speak to myself]? 

(There’s no reason to practice violence.) 

What am I unlearning? 


A real journey of a conversation with AS and HB this morning. We talked about the physical, mental, emotional tension of this having gone on so long. A said she’d thought it would ease after the inauguration, H pointed out that there’s reverb/residue from these 4 years, and I observed this is a difficult time of year; we’d all be feeling a slump, most likely, even in “normal” times. But to have friends and writing and conversation both deep and frivolous, in a year like this one: such a gift. 


I dreamed intense, action-packed dreams involving drug dealers, threats, freezers, reanimated mummies and Egyptian statues, hovercrafts, ice powers, CW from high school, Japanese people, and I think cats? And then I woke to delightful texts from friends. 

Last night I made 3 pages of doodles, and it helped, and I also got out some of my grief out — putting my inner experience onto paper for others to see — I teared up, making them. 

Indigo illustrations to the following words, by Lisa Hsia: "Everything fades away / even this pandemic life -- which nobody asked for -- is now in transition / what comes after? what is now? even as I write, the moment is leaving us"
Indigo watercolor abstract figures in different poses, by Lisa Hsia
Indigo watercolor abstract figures coming together and hugging more and more tightly, by Lisa Hsia

Sending love to those whose relationships have foundered or ended during the pandemic.