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The first days

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

Dear Lord.

Thank you for the internet.

And liquor.

These are the words I find myself repeating tonight: praise for two of humanity's greatest contributions, the ability to connect with friends and strangers within seconds, and the distillations of grapes that allow me to keep the constant feeling of complete panic at bay.

I have no idea who'll read this journal. But it was last night as I was finishing reading Chanel Miller's incredible account of her sexual assault, Know My Name, when she recalls how fellow writer Anne Lamott describes writing:

You know how you can dive under a wave that is going to crash on top of you? Writing can help me do that--to pull way back from turmoil and impending overwhelm, and find a bit of sanctuary in the process, the action of scribbling down memories, visions, musings. . .

So I'm writing this for me, for posterity. When we look back and wonder what it was we did all those days we were home, isolated from one another, I'll have this.


Day 1

First thoughts on the first day of not-teaching:

1. I do not feel the panic of needing to get to work before the first bell.

2. I can wear stretchy pants.

3. I am not rushed.

Our local public news affiliate, WXXI, had posted a suggestion for a schedule that didn't make me cringe. Flexible enough for new learnings, with a nod to academic time. I proposed it at breakfast, and the kids were fairly accepting. We started the day with some "norming"--a word I've only heard used in meetings at work where people are likely to disagree and get testy with each other. So we'd need some norms.

Too cold for a morning walk: the kids chose a Go Noodle and then chose "something academic" to do. What's something you've always wanted to learn? D wanted to practice her cursive; S & A chose math games online. This gave me time to clean up from breakfast.

It occurred to me that I'd be preparing and cleaning up from three meals a day.

Chores. I'd not thought much about during-the-day stuff. The kids figured out who had the worst laundry needs, and helped each other load and run the washer; then the dryer. They picked up and set the table for lunch, and played outside until it was ready.

We sat together, eating lunch. It was lovely and weird. No one wanted to talk about the weirdness.

Quiet time was supposed to be an hour and a half. After clearing the dishes, I went upstairs to the bed I'd actually had time to make. I picked up a book I'd hoped to sink into and finally finish. The first interruption came five minutes in, and then every few minutes, give or take a few.

It got quiet only after I lost my shit, loudly. That was forty-five minutes in.

I did not finish my book.

Then it was time to do academic stuff again. I looked forward to getting assignments from the kids' teachers.

Before I knew it, the kids had played to exhaustion and came in for screen time. Somehow, dinner manifested as a pan of lasagna. Decent. (I may go to hell for sneaking in cauliflower cream with ricotta, but it will have been worth it.)

It wasn't a bad day. But it was exhausting.


Sass and attitude.

Wrestling with intent to dominate.

A barrage of information: emails and posts and more emails, updates, latest updates, community psa, just so you're aware, we're going online, stay tuned, stay aware, stay safe, stay home.

Tomorrow would be a different day.


Day 2.

It occurs to me throughout the day that "Corona" reminds me of two things:

1. Rhymes with La Llorona.

The kids had online music lessons (two at the same time in different rooms). It was surreal.

I discovered that I'd missed an email about how to log into one kid's online class and had already missed two assignments. I chose not to care.

One kid had an online therapy session. It wasn't the kid who broke down crying because isolation from friends is bullshit and not fair and you run out of things to say on FaceTime and sometimes you just want to sit in a room with a friend because you know they're right there.

At 9:30, I poured myself a generous glass of white wine and FaceTimed with three friends, one in Boston, two in Pittsburgh. We all looked more shitty than we usually do.

I stayed up until 3 a.m. watching episodes of "Little Fires Everywhere" when I knew damn well the book was better. At 3:05, I regretted staying up.

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