Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Coronavirus Diaries: Bits and Pieces of Our Days

* I have no idea what day of social distancing we're on.

* I guess you could say ours started on March 7th, when Betsy was diagnosed with influenza A. Since she has asthma and a compromised immune system, we all rallied to start our social distancing before social distancing was a thing here. (All I could think was, "Is Covid-19 here, in our town? How disastrous could it be for Betsy if she contracted that on top of the flu?") By March 12, she needed to go back to the clinic. I went with her, and as we approached the front door, I had one of those moments. You've had those moments, too. The moments when you felt the seismic shift? Like you're now living in a movie you didn't want to see? On the door of the clinic was a sign that hadn't been there just two days before when I'd taken Ramona in for an influenza test. (Yeah, she had it, too.) The new sign told us to STOP. Call ahead if a cough is present. Wear a mask. Because I knew Betsy was dealing with influenza, we went in anyway. Should I have done that? I don't know. Shift.

* The first shift I remember was when Atticus and I went to Costco the day before Betsy got sick with the flu. March 6th. The employees were furiously wiping down carts at the entrance and I thought, "This feels weird. It's not really even here in Nebraska yet, is it?" It felt important, though, to stock up on a few things. They still had toilet paper at our Costco, but they were running low. Seeing Costco running out of things? A shift.

* It turns out that March 6 was the day the first Nebraska case was confirmed.

* I can't even remember what day it was in the midst of all this — early on — when I was at Target, thinking, "Maybe I should grab a bottle of hand sanitizer. We might be a little low." (Gone. Nothing. But you knew that.) I saw a man wandering back and forth, in and out of the aisle that normally held Purell or Germ-X. He looked bewildered. As I picked up a bottle of liquid soap, I said, "Washing with soap and water is better than hand sanitizer anyway." He looked grateful but disoriented.

* It's disorienting to have the ground shift beneath your feet. Especially the familiar ground of Target, which is supposed to feel so safe and mundane. 

* We're watching Lost with Ramona.

* We all feel lost sometimes. Other days are better.

* Some days I wish I had started a daily diary from Day 1 but I'm just not capable of that right now. It's not how I process, however much I wish it were. Sometimes I need to retreat, be silent for a time. Some days I need to journal about gratitude, other days I need to journal about fear. But I'm not doing either one every single day.

* I try to read, but it's hard for me to concentrate on a book. How did Sawyer concentrate on all those books he read on the beach?

* Working from home is such a blessing and a gift right now. I am so grateful to be a freelancer and also to work for Brave Writer. My work contacts and colleagues and students are a gift to me, now and always.

* I'm grateful for Zoom, and for my friend introducing me to the Marco Polo app.

* I'm grateful for all the people who are still working, providing us with groceries, trash pick-up, mail delivery, boxes from UPS and Fed Ex.

* My girls recently asked what I'll look forward to the most when things are "normal" again, when we can go wherever we want to go. I couldn't really even think of a specific place. It was more of a desire for a feeling. I want to feel like I can run to Target when the only thing I need is dishwashing soap or some Advil. I want to stop in at the store for lettuce. I want the whole world to not have to think about toilet paper. I want everyone to know how brave health care workers are, as well as grocery store clerks and mail carriers. I want people to care about people who are less fortunate than themselves ... people with asthma, and compromised immune systems, people who are in their 60s, people who might die from something that 80% of the population doesn't have to worry about. I want people to stop saying that we should just let this thing run its course so that herd immunity will handle it. Herd immunity might be the ultimate goal, but mass graves being dug in New York tell us that herd immunity doesn't happen overnight. I want decent, compassionate, human, federal leadership. I want to know that everyone believes that every human life is valuable and precious.

* I have no idea how many days of social distancing we have left. But I know that I will do whatever I have to do to protect the people I love, and people I don't even know, and people who are invisibly vulnerable. Because that's what decent human people do.

* It's disorienting to have the ground shift beneath your feet. But regaining balance is what human beings do. We just need to shift our weight a little. We can do this. We can shift.


  1. "I want people to care about people who are less fortunate than themselves ... people with asthma, and compromised immune systems, people who are in their 60s, people who might die from something that 80% of the population doesn't have to worry about." Me too! My son has asthma and it makes him mad that if he got COVID-19 and died, people would write it off as "oh well, he had underlying conditions," when he could otherwise have a long life with that underlying condition!
    I want everyone to value the lives of health care workers and not feel like creating "herd immunity" by forcing medical staff to face a spike of cases is a valid proposition.
    Sending love to you and yours!

  2. So enjoyed reading this, Karen. Thank you. I am quite liking the daily notes that Kathryn at Crazy Paving is writing up.

    This is such a sociologically fascinating and utterly terrible time ... I am finding it so interesting, seeing how people {{those persons who are not directly affected by illness or being an essential worker, I mean}} are coping with the daily norm of living this way — for I am homebound anyhow, so for me the daily realities of at-home-all-the-time routines, and lack of access, and the non-existance of freedom of movement — these are all going along for me as they always do .... And once the world returns to more normative movement and work and school and such, I'll still be here, living this way.

    So on the one hand, there's this awful awful pandemic, and so much death and suffering, and my waking hours are shrouded in prayerful concern as we wait and hope for the crisis to pass ... and on the other hand: it is truly one of those 'interesting times' that we are to wish *not* to have occur in our lifetimes ...

  3. Hah - I don't know what day of quarantine it is, either. I was sick almost the entirety of February, and so by early March I was just getting to where I could attend church. I managed a single week. ONE. By the week following, there was talk about this virus, and some U.S. sufferers up North, and my mother - who is asthmatic - said, "Well, I'd better stay home..." We sang a last concert at a church that Sunday night, March 15, live-streamed with no audience... and then there was no church anymore, as the sidewalks started to roll up around the state.

    The disorientation is real. I find that I can ONLY read popcorn books now - ridiculous scenarios about coronal mass ejection events or scourges of zombies or deathless insects. And the humans always win in the end. It's odd what our brains need to have replayed over and over. It is overwhelming some days - the worst is that I feel fine and could be helping out, but my immune system makes it impossible. It is hard when all you can do is pray, yet they also serve who only stand and wait, light candles, and breathe, I guess.

    Here's to shifting our weight and standing foursquare, facing whatever comes.