Friday, April 03, 2020

The New Not Normal

Everyone okay? I mean, really. Things okay?

I'm fine so far, if you call wandering around the house several times a day with a Lysol wipe in my hand "fine." I swear to God, the smell of Lysol wipes will always remind me of this weird spring.

Anyone else here shocked at the number of items your family touches with their hands during the course of a day? Just me? Never mind then.

Spring continues apace 
I still have a job, and it's telework anyway, so my life is a weird combination of normal and oh, so NOT normal right now. It's a little hard to get work done with all these people home all day, plus my efficiency is definitely impaired by my compulsive need to reload the Johns Hopkins coronavirus map every 15 minutes or so.

A neighbor and I set up a neighborhood Facebook group so sick or elderly neighbors could ask for help shopping or just anyone could ask for a single item without having to make an extra trip to the store. I know! I'm practically the Mother Teresa of the COVID-19 era, right? But it was the only thing I could think of to do about any of this. And it seems akin to holding up a fan to try to blow away a tornado.

I've developed a little ritual of shoving a piece of still-warm homemade bread slathered with butter into my mouth once a day. It just feels like the right thing to do.

We're baking an awful lot of bread 
Anna's here! She had been hunkered down in Tunisia for about two weeks, teleworking from her cute little apartment, but suddenly the Embassy offered repatriation flights with a now-or-never warning, and she decided she couldn't go 3 or 4 (or 5!) months without talking to someone, anyone, in person.

She might be regretting that decision at this point, I don't know. It's hard to be an independent adult and suddenly find yourself living in your parents' basement. She's handling it pretty well, though, I'll give her that.

Theo is teleworking and isolating in his own apartment. But first he spent two weeks teaching people at his office how to use their laptops to telework from their homes, which means he was in close physical contact with well over 200 people just as we started being told to STAY AWAY FROM PEOPLE.

So we told him we'd see him at Easter. Maybe. It feels odd telling your own (grown) kid to stay away. This all still seems like a weird dream, doesn't it?

Also, he's apparently got the patience of a saint. These people he was helping were all my age or older and very confused about the teleworking thing. One guy took his laptop home and didn't understand why it didn't work the way it did at the office. It didn't work at all, actually. Because he didn't know he had to connect it to a wifi network in his house.

There were a lot of stories like that, and I loved them all, because these people made me look like an honest-to-goodness tech genius by comparison.

Cooking a lot of dinner, too

I've made 3 batches of chicken soup. I figure we need to have it on hand in case anyone gets sick, because that will be the cure.

Humor me, okay?

But no one we know around here is sick yet, so there's this eerie feeling of waiting that reminds me of when I was 4 years old and my friend and I ate the ENTIRE bottle of chewable vitamins, so her mother (after she recovered from the near heart attack we had just given her) dumped ipecac down both our throats and sat us on the edge of the tub, where we waited to throw up.

It feels like that.

We've gone biking to our favorite sandwich shop and bought sandwiches there, even if people did breathe on them as they put them together. We decided (maybe stupidly) that it was worth the risk. I mean, they are REALLY GOOD sandwiches. We walk miles every day, because we have to get out of the house and we definitely need exercise. To counteract that daily homemade bread and butter...

3 weeks ago, I thought I would go nuts not being able to go anywhere or see any of my friends, but it turns out I really don't care. It's just not fun going out anymore. Inside the house, I can pretend things are sort of normal. I mean, except for that Lysol wipes thing...

Going out, though, it really hits you - NOT normal. The masks (yes, I have one), the 6-foot distance rule, the uneasiness at the grocery store. It just feels better to stay home and chew on slabs of buttered, yeasty goodness, you know?

I feel guilty making jokes right now, because this virus is affecting people I know, as is probably true for anyone reading this. This all feels like an ugly, slow-motion roll of horror that you know is heading toward everyone you know, but the only way to stay somewhat sane is to keep living your life as if everything is normal (plus, uh, those Lysol wipes). Even though it's most emphatically NOT normal. Not at all.

Hence, homemade bread. Chicken soup. A few tepid jokes. That's all I've got right now, and it really isn't enough. It's all just a little tiny fan trying to blow away that tornado. I'm sorry.


  1. It's more than enough. It's perfect <3

  2. You sound great and thank you for sharing your tepid jokes with us. I can use all the jokes I can get

  3. Thanks, for this update Mother Teresa! I love the fan to the tornado analogy. The girls and I sewed 16 masks and I feel like that is a drop in the bucket. I felt slightly worse when my sister in law who is a doctor asked me if I was using a pattern - I guess she thought I was tying a few dirty socks together and then passing it off as a mask. We are walking a ton too and very happy to see the Chicago forecast looks like it might warm up SOON. Our house in on overload as far as bodies and personalities go. Kids are begging for certain food items that we have run out of but I am fighting them off bravely saying we will wait a bit longer till we are out of more things. It won't take long because all they do is eat.

  4. I know it is super crazy times.

  5. Things just keep weirder and weirder - and the virus just keeps coming closer and closer.

    The whole Easter thing makes me sad; as it will just be The Husband and I with Man-Child isolating in his apartment. And I know we aren't the only parents facing that possibility and it breaks my heart.

  6. Outside our homes is certainly surreal. Your analogy of a fan and a tornado is true of all of us. This is beyond anything one person can do. Thankfully home is a safe place despite the excess Lysol wipes.

    The bread looks so good!

    Take care and stay well!

  7. I appreciate your humor. This is not normal, but we need to find a little bit of whatever we can to feel like it is. Or can be.
    Your son! He is a saint!
    Stay safe, SC.

  8. Good to hear from you.

    Trying to comply with everything. Work from home, except when I say I just can't do this thing and go to the mostly empty office to do that thing.

    BTW, with technology, if someone is older than me, he gets a pass. If he is younger, I say to myself - I can do that, why can't they.

    Weird getting weirder. I've gotten 2 emails about Covid-19 related deaths. The first email was about someone from the old neighborhood. I know the family but not well. I saw one of the brothers once a year, in each of the last three years. So his death did not really bring the issue home. Second email was from an organization that I have volunteered with. An older gentleman who I met, who I can picture in my mind walking talking and interacting with me, is gone. And I keep picturing him. Not quite like when I would think I would see a recently deceased close relative on the street, but he is a face of the toll and numbers don't bring it home the way a face does. But it is probably a way of grieving, and experiencing the presence of that person even though they are no longer present, until I am ready to let go.

    Every time I get a sniffle or some sort of upper respiratory tract twinge (I was voted Mr Seasonal Allergy of 2004, 2005 and 2006), I worry that it is "the onset", and I try to stay away from everyone else in the household. And then then it clears up. But then I worry that I am in the asymptomatic group and infecting everyone. Aaargh.

    Let's be careful out there.

    1. It looks pretty scary where you are, actually. Stay safe!

  9. I'm hearing similar Tales from the Helpdesk, like people who don't know the password to their home wifi. I had my own tech issues, but like you, I felt like a genius after hearing some of these. I hope your family stays well!

  10. Just me and the kids here, with periodic visits from the husband, who is still going into an office most every day. The kids are supposed to be distance learning, but the senior is apathetic (he's online when he's conscious, but playing games, not doing schoolwork) and the sophomore is overcome with anxiety (EVERY SINGLE GOOGLE CLASSROOM comes up on the page, it is TOO MUCH, he DOESN'T DO SCHOOL WORK AT HOME, getting him to adjust to a new routine is like turning the Titanic). Only the 11yo is trucking along, which is hilarious, because she's the Montessori student and they rarely use tech in school normally. My online classes finally began and I'm going to be teaching an online class and basically it's lucky we have good Internet.

    It really is weird out in the world. Also, I have never seen so many people walking when I try to go for a run.

    1. I strongly suspect my senior is not doing any schoolwork. I'm not even going to ask. Life is too weird right now.

  11. Not so bad in the immediate vicinity. I hear it's worse in Bergen County, and our hospitals are taking overflow.

    Weird wearing a face covering in the supermarket. I know it's not helping anything unless I have the virus and I'm doing it to prevent others from catching it from me, but if it makes others feel better, I will have to do it,

    I spoke to an EMT who I know - and lack of information is way too prevalent. He responded to a senior facility for a resident who had symptoms with low blood oxygen levels, but was not being given oxygen, although there were nurses on premises. The responding EMTs administered oxygen, and the patient responded well. The facility administration still wanted the resident transported to the hospital - despite the positive response, and the risk of returning with an actual exposure/infection. I think the basic thinking is that if the resident passes away as a patient in a hospital, that is not a strike against the nursing facility. No thought to risking the rest of the population.

    Our college guys are here. I'm not sure what the balance is between school work and computer games, but I know both of those categories run far ahead of "fixing dinner for the family."

    Let's be careful out there.

  12. One month later and I'm still feeling this way. *sigh*