Monday, March 16, 2020

Life in the Time of Coronavirus

I went to work this morning. My university has moved to remote learning for the remainder of the semester and my supervisor said it's fine for us to work remotely, but my work laptop was at work and my office is quiet and there are only four of us in my department. I felt okay about going in. My commute was a breeze. So few cars on the road. Tons of available parking when I rolled in--early.

At the beginning of The Secret Garden, Mary Lennox wakes up at her home in India and she's really mad that no one has come to take care of her. The reader discovers in this chapter that she's spoiled and selfish, but also that her parents didn't seem to really care about her. The reader also discovers that no one has come to take care of her because everyone is dead of cholera. She snacks from the remains of a dinner party that ended abruptly because of the cholera outbreak.

I had no sense of what cholera was when I first read the book. I know I'd never heard the word before because in my head I pronounced it "chaw-lera." But I understood it was an eerie scene, and that the soldiers who discovered one living little girl among all the dead were stunned.

The first thing I did when I got to work today was wipe down my office with Clorox wipes.

David is home on spring break this week. The girls seem to have little sense/concern for what is going on except for a disappointment that a friend's birthday party has been canceled and I think we'll probably have to cancel our plans to visit my parents this coming weekend. We also canceled a non-essential dental appointment for Zuzu to have a sealer put on her teeth. I think we'll also cancel G's InfantSee appointment for this week. I love the program, but I don't have specific concerns about her eyes and I feel like potential exposure to the virus has to be our priority at this time.

I had thought that we could still arrange little playdates with friends they'd already been exposed to at school, but now I'm reading that we shouldn't do that either. I'd actually suggested to one friend we meet up at a park but (1) it's raining and 40 degrees right now and (2) the virus can live on plastic and metal surfaces for three days, so... Unless I want to clorox wipe an entire playground, that doesn't seem like something we're going to be doing.

We are currently looking at three weeks of "social distancing." David and I are going to start painting our wood trim white (my parents are the only people I know who seem to think this is a bad idea, but it's not like the wood trim in our old, lovely, built in the 1930s with stained glass windows house--it's 1980s trim and I don't hate it, but I think when it's white I'll love it). That should keep us busy and be a satisfying project (assuming we avoid spilling primer on carpet).

David and his dad put together built-in bookcases for me in our front room yesterday. It literally took them all day long, but it looks fantastic. Today they're going to trim it out and caulk it and then we'll prime and paint and start priming and painting the trim in that room as well. I cannot wait to get them all finished!

This feels like an excellent way to exert control over the thing we can control in these uncertain times. Similarly, I did a zillion loads of laundry yesterday and cleaned out and organized the hall closet and the master bathroom closet and drawers.

Related: I have tried a lot of natural deodorants. Native works best for me, but only the coconut scent. Jasmine and Papaya are a no-go. I've passed the Jasmine along to Zuzu, who really only needs it if we've somehow missed baths for three days (hey, it happens occasionally) and who thinks it "smells good but feels kinda weird." Meanwhile, Coco--never one to be left out--takes a bath and then marches into Zuzu's room in her undies to announce she seeds some "dolorant" and applies it with a very self-satisfied expression.

I have had trouble falling asleep at night, which is unusual for me as my life is kind of exhausting. But I know I'm carrying tension and I need to be doing more yoga but since David's dad was at our house this morning, my regular routine was disrupted.

One of my favorite consignment shops emailed that they are closing at this time and admitted in the e-mail that they don't know how their business will recover--they can't afford to pay workers who aren't working and they aren't yet set up to sell clothes online. I can only imagine that there are countless more small businesses like them, and I think about the cute little coffee shop in my home town, our favorite independent bookstore (which is offering curbside pick up and I am going to swing by after work today), and the restaurant industry, which employees so many people who don't have a cushion of paid leave or remote work to fall back on. I understand and sympathize with all the folks like us who are trying to work from home while also caring full time for kids whose schools have been canceled--especially single parents who don't have a partner to trade off parenting shifts--, but there are so many far worse off who can't work from home and don't know how they will provide for their kids whose schools have been cancelled. (Although I know there are programs now that are preventing utilities from being shut off and landlords who will not evict folks during this time.)

I'm also reading a lot of stuff about community and how community comes together when we literally cannot come together physically. I guess I'm trying to document this time because it does feel historical.

We are currently out of school until April 3, but rumors are already swirling that we need 8 weeks of social distancing rather than 3, that no one should expect to return to school this year. Because this week is technically spring break for our school district, it feels like an odd kind of normal, since we were already prepared for the kids to be home this week. G's babysitter is still open and since she just takes three little ones, we felt okay about sending G this week. She texted us last night that she's healthy and will maintain a normal routine for our babies. But even now I wonder whether the other families are social distancing and what that might look like in terms of exposure, and we're likely to be keeping G home with us soon. I'm still not panicky about our health necessarily, but the community effect of this illness is alarming to say the least. My supervisor has given us all permission to work remotely so now it becomes a matter of deciding when that should happen (tomorrow? Thursday? next week?).

Also we are going to have to limit screen time for my kids because it still makes Zuzu so monstrous. She imitates what she watches and LEGO Friends is no longer an option because those girls are shit heads and their sassy, snotty tone of voice is not one I enjoy hearing from my seven-year-old. You want to watch TV? Well you can watch Mr. Rogers AND THAT'S IT.

Anyway, I need to make sure I know how to Zoom for students who are also sad and freaking out about the truncated semester and work left undone and I feel sad for high school seniors and college seniors and students who planned to be abroad this semester. No prom for the class of 2020, and likely no commencement ceremony, either.

I hope everyone is staying healthy, staying sane, and staying home. The truth is I love staying home, but even introverts get antsy about this situation.

1 comment:

  1. In San Francisco we were just directed to "shelter in place" for the next 3 weeks--only essential trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, or doctor. Things have changed so fast over the last few days. It's almost a relief to have a full shutdown--they can't shut down things any more than this, can they? If I were you I'd prepare to stay home for a long time too. Life won't be normal for a while and it's scary as hell.