One Year in Quarantine…

Today is the one year anniversary of the day my office sent us home to work remotely. One entire year. Thursday will be the anniversary of when it was declared a pandemic, almost everything else shut down, the day the NBA ended their season, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced they had COVID (if they could get it, any of us could!), and Trump gave a truly atrocious, non-confidence inspiring address to the nation. Pack up what you need and go home, we were told. I truly didn’t think it would be more than two or three weeks. Anything else was inconceivable. Later, we’d be allowed back in, only two or more at a time, to pick up the rest of our things.

When thinking about this past year: the handwashing, the wiping down of groceries, the deliveries, the wash your hands for the length of the Happy Birthday song, the ‘don’t touch your face’ (so hard!), the days inside, the days outside (the only social situations I allowed), the times in the summer when it felt ok to go to the grocery store again, the times since the holidays when curbside is my best friend (even if I am the only one in the curbside pick up spot while everyone else goes right into the store. What is the issue? Curbside is amazing! So much less time. So many fewer opportunities to buy things you don’t need, for receipes you won’t make, that you will throw out a year from now), the claps for front line workers, the new neighbors you haven’t actually met, but only seen from afar (I’m not sure I remember how to meet a new person. Are we still elbow bumping?), Black Lives Matter (how to even express the horror of beginning to comprehend), the endless Zoom meetings, the desire to not be on video in every meeting, so get to know this picture I like of myself from (ahem) years ago, the staying home and staying home, the quest for masks (stylish or just plain), the desire to put a hex on people you encounter who aren’t wearing a mask, the time last spring on a walk when you notice that people will cross the street to not walk by you because are a stranger, the times on walks in parks that complete strangers will wave from afar because we are human beings in the same place, at the same time, encountering various rocks painted with positive messages or rock creatures on walks, doing the same thing and it’s just nice to have something with someone you don’t know, home projects planned (and some done!), the pandemic panic trip to the wine store when we thought maybe 8 bottles would get us through quarantine (and we certainly didn’t want to go without!), the later panic trip to BJs to stock up (once before the mass shut down when they actually had a 4 pack of Lysol and toilet paper), and one unfortunate one the day of the shut down when people were panic buying everything in sight (pasta, potatos, milk, eggs, toilet paper, paper towels, all gone. My contribution: a 3 lb. container of peanut butter M&Ms. If we’re to be trapped inside they have protein, a lot of calorie. It’s a survival food!), the handing over of my pet outside of the vets office and not being able to go inside with her (she’s fine!), ordering take out to help the restaurants, ordering books to help the bookstores, not really working out and losing my hard fought arm tone from a year of toning classes until I give in, buy a spin bike and give myself up to the cult of the Peloton app (I love it and I never would have thought gamification or positive thinking would work on me. My curmudgeon reputation is at risk), a year of non-work events also on Zoom (in truth, I sort of like this. I could never get to all these author readings in person), the initial rush of Zoom calls with friends which then triggled to none because we were caught up and nothing new had happened, leaving the only conversation the news, the election and people’s crazy behavior, which is exhausting, the texting on Jan. 6 to my friends; the MAGAs have run wild, the gratitude at being able to work from home, of having the choice to not go out, the fear for those who do, the full wardrobe of masks in various colors that I eventually acquired just to make things fun, the massive amount of television binged that you never would have had time for before, the books you intended to read, but just couldn’t focus (eventually I found audio books helped here), the joy on a day in a park when everyone at once looked at their phones and started yelling and applauding at once because the election had been called and the sane option prevailed, the endless lies and conspiracies by people who could not accept that the sane option prevailed, the day I realized that for the first time in my memory I would not go to Fenway this year (ouch. Watching Mookie win the World Series was bittersweet, but I am happy for him), time has no meaning, was all this just a year ago, the year was endless.

I thought about what I had accomplished this year.  A big fat nothing (unless finally watching the entirety of The Sopranos is an accomplishment. Poor Adriana), but that is ok. We don’t have to do it all right now. Getting through is enough. Living to fight another day is enough. I’ve learned that I don’t want to ever commute to work again. The idea of spending an hour + to get to an office just for the benefit of idle chitchat as relationship building: I don’t care. Life is short. Do something big with the time you have left. I don’t care what you’re workout was yesterday and though I can speak at great length about the love I have for my spin bike, is that what anyone else should spend their time on?  Go forth and figure out what makes you happy and get more of that into your life. If you’re still here, there is still time. Well, maybe plot it out for a bit, be safe for just a little while longer. We are SO close. Let’s not fuck it up now. We all want our old times back. We all do. We all want to hug people again. So let’s do this.

Last meal in a restaurant before my office closed
Taken at lunch the last day in the office
Panic wine… we’re all set. ha!
Made French Toast once

Quarantine Diaries

Cheryl Stayed has a new podcast, Sugar Calling where she interviews writers. Episode One is George Saunders. This is the definition of my wheelhouse, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. In the podcast, George says to notate what life is like right now because maybe in fifty or hundred years no one will believe it, it will all just be the stories we capture.

I’m not George Saunders, so I’ll bullet point out what my weekend was like:

Friday Night

  • Just happy my exhausting work week is over at the job I am grateful to have and glad to be able to work from home. Now for some wine and start re-watching the Sopranos, which is, as you know, so uplifting.

Saturday

  • I went outside, yes outside! I met a friend near a local bakery that we are scared will not make it. They no longer have pick up as the did at the beginning of the quarantine time. Now you can order by Wednesday, and pick up Sat morning. The sign on the door says only one person can enter at a time. A few tables have boxes and bags labeled with names. It’s certainly not enough to keep the store afloat. When I ask the sole person there, who stays well behind the counter away from him if they did well this week, he replies: it helps.
  • After pick up, my friend and I stood six feet apart outside on a sidewalk, both with scarves covering our faces and chatted. Behind us was a line to get into a grocery store which is limited the number of people allowed in at a given time. About half the people in the line had masks, almost no one in the line looked six feet away from the person in front of them. At one point someone walked by with a big package of toilet paper. I said to my friend: look TP!
  • I also gave my friend an unopened box of ten N95 masks that I panic bought in January for her to give to her sister, an ER nurse.
  • Next I went to a drive through pharmacy. The line took forever even though there were only three cars ahead of me. And then I realized: where else do you need to be? It was actually soothing to feel as if I was just running errands like a usual Saturday before. I was happy to see the person staffing the window had both a mask and gloves. I wondered if she’d balk at cash (the prescription is only $4 and I don’t really want to touch a keypad to use a card), but cash didn’t seem concerning to her.
  • I arrived home before noon and got ready for Zumba at home. The Zumba teacher from my gym live streams classes from his home via a private Facebook group which we pay him weekly for. So worth it!
  • I clean a little. Start a stew that will need to simmer for some time.
  • Late in the afternoon the singer from one of favorite bands will play acoustic from his basement. You can tip which he is donating to the people who work in the clubs his band were scheduled to play in.
  • Try not to eat all the baked goods I bought from the bakery after dinner. This is the most normal part of the weekend.
  • Read too much Twitter, watch too much tv. Actually stream too much online content. Decide I should be reading more, but fall asleep instead.

Sunday

  • Watched the Sunday political shows because I’m not afraid enough
  • Laundry
  • Went for a walk on a 60 degree day with a scarf covering my face. The people I came across reacted to my presence like they would to a person they encountered in a dark alley in the middle of the night. I was saddened when people crossed the road not to pass me. I was scared for the people who didn’t, none of whom had masks.
  • Back at home to more twitter. Make it stop.
  • Decide to write this up, but oh! Trump is doing another briefing. I thought I read he was taking the day off from that today, but no. These briefings are such train wrecks that it’s difficult to look away, but I decide not to watch for my sanity.
  • Take a break in the middle of writing this bulleted list to check twitter. It seems the briefing had no news, and was mostly about suggesting there is a drug that may help fight the virus. Dr. Fauci has however said there is only anecdotal information that it will. Who are you going to believe? . Fauci. I start to wonder who has money in the development of this drug because why would anyone sane push a drug that hasn’t been approved for this virus. Why would anyone do that?  Where are those baked goods… and some wine?
  • Time to prep for the upcoming week at work, which consists of Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting.
  • Shit.. need to fold the laundry.

How your quarantine?