Tuesday, June 30, 2020

covid notes 12

Yesterday someone on my high school reunion committee finally put out a call for opinions about our upcoming October date, including the possibility of postponing for one year. I was glad to see that floated, as it’s what I’ve been hoping for. Although I was not a fan of high school, I’ve been to every reunion since our 10th (living too far away for the 5th), and to my surprise have always really enjoyed them, going with my BFF and figuring the worst thing that could happen is she and I hang together—but then we’re off talking to lots of people and the night is quickly over. It’s always fun, and thanks to Facebook, I’ve become friends with people I never even spoke to all those years ago.

That said, there are enough conservative and wrong-side-of-libertarian comments out there that made me text my BFF a few weeks ago: “One thing I keep meaning to say, just to you: Sometimes I see high school classmates’ posts and I think: 1) I wonder if the reunion will really be held this year? and 2) If it is, do I really want to risk my life to spend time with some of these assholes? Of course, there are many people I love. But still.”

I was glad to see that classmates in Czech, Australia, and New Mexico—people who would have to get on a plane—were saying no to this year. I hope that lends some weight. I assume my voice will be dismissed by many as the liberal Vermonter, but I did admit on the thread that I’ve been secretly hoping for the one-year shift.

Monday, June 29, 2020

covid notes 11

I don’t know if any of you remember Fat Red Ant from our original 365 project, but she’s the one who got me into the blogging world. Her last year has been crazy. Her recently retired husband was diagnosed with leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. Even before covid blew up, they had to get ready to quarantine, given what would become his complete lack of an immune system. Her husband found a perfect match in his brother, and the transplant was scheduled. But because of the virus, FRA wasn’t allowed in the hospital at all during the several weeks that he was there. Could not walk in the door. Can you imagine?

He’s doing extremely well, now a couple of months or so out, but even without covid he would still be quarantined. His diet is beyond restricted (nothing fresh—again, can you imagine?). Nothing anyone else has made, which means that the incredible brownies I delivered could not be consumed by him. I thought that might be true, so I left the recipe so that FRA could make them for him herself, if necessary, in her “spare time.”

FRA—and her husband too, but possibly to a lesser extent—are recent birders. This new hobby is lifesaving. She’s an amazing photographer, and her photos of birds are exquisite. She’s obsessed in the best way. Like many outdoor hobbies, when one is birding, one is really in the moment, and when life is so troubled, finding ways to be in the moment is priceless.

She had several indigo buntings at her feeder about six weeks ago, and Tim and I raced over to see, because last year I didn’t see a single one! She was excited because it had been years since she’d had a sighting, maybe this many years: When she helped me set up my 365 blog and I needed a name, I remembered something she had said the night before—that she’s an atheist, but when she saw an indigo bunting, she thought it might be proof that there’s a god. I needed a handle for my blog and that comment, fresh in my mind, gave me my name.

They’ve borrowed my BigYear DVD and then the book.

I left what bourbon I could at her doorstep the day she left him at the hospital (alas, I hadn’t been shopping recently, what with the lockdown, and it wasn’t a full bottle).

And another thing I’ve left—and reader, this is the point of this post—is her favorite junk food, Cheez-Its. There was a big sale at the grocery store (she’d alerted me to this)—two for $5 or $6 or something. So I bought two boxes, left her one, and took one home. Because if I was actually buying junk food, and my memory was that I really like Cheez-Its, why not treat myself?

It was the classic flavor. Truth be told, I’d been on the lookout for white cheddar. I followed up with FRA to ask her favorite flavor, which turned out to be Italian four cheese. So I went back to the store and bought four more boxes—three Italian, one white—and left her a couple of Italian, taking one for myself, plus the white cheddar.

The Italian four cheese is really, really good. Still, there’s something about the white cheddar that makes me happy.

I’ve been doing a pretty good job of ignoring the Cheez-Its the past few trips to the grocery store, putting on a second mask to serve as a blinder as I walk past that aisle. But yesterday they were on sale AGAIN and Tim let me buy one box of white cheddar. This is the first time I didn’t buy one for FRA too.*

So after years and years of having nothing like this in the house (because if it’s there, I’ll eat it), I’m beginning to wonder—or perhaps realize—that I have a Cheez-It problem.

And that, obviously, is the  point of this story: Another person’s leukemia and bone marrow transplant coupled with the covid-19 pandemic has led directly to my Cheez-It downfall.**

*OMG. I’m a monster. Maybe I should go back while they are still on sale and buy a couple of boxes and leave them for FRA. If I buy two, maybe I could bring the second one home…? No. No. Both are for her. Must be a better person. Must turn to a higher power.
**There must be someone who isn’t me to blame. “‘If it was the wind,’ said Owl, considering the matter, ‘then it wasn’t Pooh’s fault. No blame can be attached to him.’”

Sunday, June 28, 2020

covid notes 10

But I can’t really talk about March or April or covid lockdown without talking about February 29.

Since I’d heard her on the radio, listened to her TEDx talk, and been receiving blog updates from Stasia Savasuk, I’d been thinking about signing up for her style school. I need to get rid of lots of clothes, and I haven’t bought much at all in the last couple of years because I’ve been desperate to get rid of stuff before I bring anything more in. I figured style school would help me get into a better, more educated and enlightened place to conquer this task.

Style school is hard to explain. I very much encourage you take 15 minutes to listen to Stasia’s TEDx talk about her journey, inspired by her daughter’s need and insistence to be her own true self. There a link to it on her web page, https://www.stasiasavasuk.com/. There is also information about style school. And yet looking at the page, I’m not sure that a website can really reflect all that style school is.

Because it isn’t really about proper mixing and matching. Yes, you are taught some basic style tricks based on your body type (which I found very helpful!). You discover that most people, in trying to hide certain parts of their body, are actually drawing attention to those parts. You learn how to make lines look longer or shorter based on simple changes.

But Stasia’s about inside/out congruency: figuring out who you are and how you want to show up in the world, reflecting that self visually. Appreciate your today body. All bodies are good bodies. Love your body, be in it, claim it, show up.

It’s a 5-week course. There are two online class calls per week. There is a Facebook page to join to be with your subgroup and post photos and work with each other. It was predicted that you needed about 10 hours a week for all of this.

On February 29, I took the leap and signed up.

If I had any understanding about what was truly about to happen with covid and the rest of my life, I would never had done such a thing.*

I thought I would be alone all day to do this work. (Introverted. Shy. Remember?) I thought this could be my secret project. I thought I could really do what would need to be done in 10 hours a week.

The course started March 16, the same day Tim, suddenly, was home full time.

*So thank the gods I didn’t know.

covid notes 9

Then there have been the insurance-covered video adventures. I put off online therapy for several weeks because I just didn’t want to do it online. I also thought that surely we sit far enough apart that that would be one thing I could continue to do in person. But then I was informed that therapy was among the most dangerous of activities: the talking in an enclosed space across from each other. And so I gave in, to every other week online. I’m getting used to it. But those awkward party-Zoom pauses feel even more awkward in online therapy. They are happening less often.

And then there were Tim’s medical issues, the first of which needed more than audio.  

covid notes 8

I have a love/hate relationship with Zoom. All my shyness and social anxiety still exists around it. My resistance is at least equal to real life, but maybe more, because it feels as if the potential for awkwardness is higher when we’re not in the same room. Seeing myself on a screen has never been easy, but I once thought I was stopping my video when I actually had hidden my self view, and then I couldn’t figure out how to undo that, and the thought of NOT being able to see what others were seeing put me into a panic. I have to keep an eye on the screen to make sure what’s going on is not too bad. Or embarrassing. That aside, the social events always turn out better than I anticipate (kind of like real life). But I’ve grown tired of all the concerts, readings, events being pushed. I would never let my schedule get that crazy in real life, but it feels like there’s more pressure to support these online efforts, between the money and the social justice and the covid and the (unfair/inaccurate attitude that) what else do we have to do/where else do we have to go anyway?

covid notes 7

Things I have Zoomed: Weekly staff meetings. A couple of online-instead music events. Book group, once. Easter with Tim’s relatives. Yoga class. A five-week online course. A birthday gathering. A surprise birthday party. A birding lecture. A friend’s book-release poetry reading and interview with a former NPR correspondent. A house tour of a house I lived in as a volunteer (it’s being sold). A virtual tour of an assisted living facility. Meetings with you, hearing your voices at last, dear blog friends.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

covid notes 6

I am inconsistent in my behavior. I don’t mean to be, and I think I am mostly careful. But sometimes I forget. Sometimes I socialize with others, and if you were to get out a tape measure, it would be clear that this is more like four feet, not six, but we are outside, so maybe it’s OK? I touch things without meaning to. I try to sanitize my hands the second I leave the grocery store or post office, but as I drive away, I realize I didn’t and then have to hold sanitizer in my head until I can stop.

covid notes 5

Some of my friends clearly think I am way too careful about social-distancing stuff. Other friends clearly think I am way too lax about it. I feel judged most of the time. I may be imagining some judgment, but not all of it. I am judging other people too.

covid notes 4

That second week in March, it became clear that shit was gonna go down. I look at my calendar, and it’s quiet. I attended the weekly Wednesday staff meeting that gets me out of my home office. I didn’t go to a gym. I still walked with some of the gals, but we were beginning to discuss whether we should be doing that. I had my last in-person therapy session.

The following Monday, March 16, Tim started working from home. We’ve been here together ever since.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

covid notes 3

Exposure to the new world didn’t end right after New York, though. The next week, home in Vermont, was packed with two house concerts; a couple of restaurant meals; a March birthdays party; my last-for-a-long-while haircut, chiropractor, and dentist appointments; a community theatre performance starring two friends; and two trips, one successful, to see that rogue caracara.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

covid notes 2

The April 19 concert was the first to move, to August 1, my cousin’s wedding date, but I didn’t get the tickets refunded because what if the wedding was canceled? And if it was, would I go to a concert? I did nothing. The New Yorkers were smart and pushed their entire tour back a year, so May 2 became May 1. The Moth event I am treating my sister to fell next, from May 8 to October 6. It took another month before the concert she is treating me to* moved from June 19 to March 6 (our P.S. let’s-drive-to-Montreal-after plan doomed weeks before). The August 1 wedding got postponed, and I still have the tickets, and I figure I can stay with them as they keep chasing possibility, which just a few days ago shifted to September 10.


But if any of these events happen, will I even go?

*Pokey LaFarge, noted for Bridgett.

covid notes 1

Surely it was all around us in NYC that last week in February, hopping trains and catching cabs with us, lingering at loved paintings at the Met, eavesdropping during visits with Leyla, Chris, Sue, Hoagy, Charmaine, creeping around the Walter Kerr Theatre as we marveled, gobsmacked, at Hadestown, flashing us a wry smile at Bemelman’s Bar—you paid what for that martini?—dancing with glee as we sidled up to other diners for sushi and noodles, chortling when we both felt a tad off our last night, but it was the big night, the night of at lasts!—dining at Prune (whose doors would close within three weeks) and tickets for Cécile McLorin Salvant at the Village Vanguard—and that glorious night, nearly four months ago, was the last I spent away from home, and afterward, everything changed, and maybe it got me then and maybe it didn’t, but these things are mine, my fine and fond farewell.