Laments About The COVID Chronicles

Day 144

Who's Counting?

Here’s a list of what I didn’t accomplish today:

I didn’t go for a walk or do my stretching exercises.
I didn’t learn — or even start to learn — a new language.
And I didn’t sign up for online art classes.
I meant to …

But here’s a list of what I did accomplish today:

I did manage to log in some hours on my big new writing project. Details to be revealed later.
I did manage not to over-eat. Drumroll, but no jelly or belly roll, please!
I did maintain a positive mental attitude through most of the day, staying grateful for the good health of all those I love and care about.
I miraculously did avoid talking politics during three Zoom meetings and two telephone calls.
And I did write this COVID Chronicles journal entry.

So, the day — Day 144 — wasn’t a complete muddle!

See! We will get through this … not always as productively as we’d like, but still, the time will pass. Hang in there. Better days are ahead. Meanwhile, wear your mask, wash your hands, and keep your ever-lovin’ social distance!

Day 133

Take Heart!

It’s the start of another week. Does the thought fill you with dread? Another day, another mask. Another day, more terrible pandemic statistics and disheartening political news from Washington, D.C.

Well, I say — take heart! There are sound reasons to feel optimistic, five of them, in fact. And it’s thanks to a San Francisco Chronicle article, that I’m focusing on them instead of zeroing in all that’s frightening and derisive.

Here’s the summary:

“We’re getting closer to a vaccine
Treatments look more promising
Testing is getting easier
Masks are working
We know more about this virus now.”

From that same article, here’s one statistic that really hit home:

“ … if 80% of the population wore face coverings,
it would do more to reduce COVID-19 spread than a strict shutdown.”

On a Personal Note

I spoke to a beloved friend today. Somehow, we haven’t spoken since the SF Bay area shelter in place order was issued in mid-March. In the interim, her father has died, her business has withered, and she’s having a very tough time. Yet, has she picked up the phone and said that? No. Is she the first friend of mine who has been suffering in silence? No.

To all my friends and readers out there, I say this: you are not alone. Please do not be ashamed or hesitant to share your feelings of sadness, loneliness, frustration, and worry. Please reach out to someone. We are apart but we do not have to be without the loving care of a friend’s voice on the other end of a phone. There is no shame in accepting friendship’s embrace. No shame at all.

That’s it on Day 133. Aren’t I preachy today? That’s what the rare two cups of coffee does to me! Hugs all around.

Day 127

My Photo Phobia

Thanks to all the promising coronavirus research underway, vaccine trials may soon follow. That, of course, is great news. But with all those tests, will soon come non-stop news photos of vaccinations being administered, you know, yucky close-up shots of needles being plunged into people’s arms.

And those photos are bad news for me.

You see, I’m squeamish, squeamish to the max. More to the point, I’m vaccination-photo phobic.

I cringe when I see photos or watch movies (or simply see) people getting injections or intravenous needles. I don’t just cringe, I get weak at the knees and green in the gut.

Back in the Day

When I was a reporter, I covered Las Vegas’s health district for a time. Walking into the shot clinic, I’d shield my eyes and grab my photographer’s shirt. Eyes averted, I frequently bumped into wailing toddler-patients and busy staff! En route to an interview, I became a walking health hazard!

I did the same at murder scenes, clinging blindly to my cameraman’s shirt with one hand, holding my nose with the other to avoid the smell! Yes, a real blood-and-gore reportorial lightweight!

Anyway, enough about my ancient past.

Back to the Present

Like everybody in the world, I cannot wait for the day we have effective treatments and a vaccine that frees the world from the scourge of COVID-19. So, bring on those clinical trials. We need them ASAP.

And in terms of my needle-photo phobia, I guess I’ll be obliged to ask Handsome Hubby to screen and censor the newspaper each morning, cutting out offending photos before I sit down to my Rice Krispies and New York Times.

📚 📚 📚

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for an entertaining read, I’ve got a completely biased recommendation! My friend Laura Shea’s latest novel is out and it’s a good one! Murder in the Wings is a buzzy mix of theatre, academic sardonic wit, and murder mystery all rolled into one great read. Buy it. Read it. Enjoy it.

And so goes Day 127. Bee good. (And that’s not a typo. Check out Laura’s book. It’s a clue!)

Day 126

My Friends

I hate to say it, but my friends are a little boring. They have nothing new to say. How can they? They’re all living in a pandemic-enforced rut, repeating the same routine day in, day out.

Ask what’s new and the replies are the same. “Oh, I hate Zoom.” “The Internet is slow.”

Many of my friends have taken to drink to mark the end of the “workday” and the start of the official “at-home” portion of their sheltered-at-home day.

They’re all “sorry to complain,” adding apologetically “I know I have nothing to complain about.” They’re not sick. Nobody in their family is sick. Nobody is unemployed. The bills are getting paid. Everybody has a roof over their heads. They’re grateful. But still …
My friends all say the same things about politics: They’re “outraged,” “filled with despair,” “can’t believe the state of our country.” They’re angry that people refuse to wear masks. They’re heartsick about racial and economic injustice. They’re right, of course.
Yes, my friends are kind of boring.

But it’s OK. You know why?

I’m boring too.

How Boring am I?

I spent Sunday handwashing Lego creations, built decades ago by my children, and still displayed on my bookshelves. Yes, I laboriously filled basin after basin with soapy water and gently dipped Legos replications of the Taj Mahal, New York City landmarks, the Death Star — to name just a few. It took all afternoon and I did it contentedly, until I broke my favorite, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, on the last rinse. The real Fallingwater has withstood 85 years of the natural elements, but my child’s creation could not withstand my handling for one minute. I cried out in actual pain. So, who am I to judge who is boring? Who am I to say who needs to get a life?

Still, it is fair to say that my friends and I are all the lucky ones — the immensely lucky ones — living sheltered-in-place lives of remarkable ease amid terrible times. Sure we’re “inconvenienced,” “bored,” “restless,” and “listless,” but we’re OK. We’re more than OK. We’re fine.

And so goes Day 126.

Day 119

Battle of the Bulge

I’ve hit the over-eating phase of these pandemic times. I’ve already regained the weight I lost from my month-long bout with pneumonia. Now I’m fighting a battle not to add additional pounds to my couch potato, baked-potato-smothered-in-butter-loving body.

And I know I’m not alone. A lithe girlfriend of mine confessed she ate three portions of her sister-in-law’s lasagna’s this weekend. She did it while properly social distancing, but lamented that the only exercise she achieved was dashing to and fro from the serving bowl back to her chair across the room!

Speaking of Eating

… and yes, I’m speaking/typing with my mouth full, Handsome Hubby and I finally celebrated my birthday (post-pneumonia) this weekend. He ordered a sweet treat for me — a proper English High Tea service delivered to our home. Of course, it was High Tea with a sheltered-in-place twist. The sandwiches and scones arrived via ribbon-ed waxed paper boxes instead of elegant fine bone china and the tea was served via tea bags instead of fancy silver teapots. But still, it made for a yummy and fun afternoon. It was a lovely reminder of former elegant tea times at Brown’s Hotel in London and at the Plaza in NYC.

Now, alas, to atone for all this non-stop gluttony, I’m going to sign off this COVID Chronicles entry and huff and puff my way out the door for an extra-long walk.

So goes Day 119. Please stay safe. Don’t overeat. Perhaps I should wear a mask INDOORS to control my eating. Perhaps I should self-quarantine away from the kitchen. That would serve two purposes — control my eating AND save me from the dreaded chore of cooking. Wait a minute! It would also save me from the equally dreaded chores of cleaning the kitchen AND grocery shopping. This plan is starting to have some real merit. Humm …

Day 110

Happy 4th of July

A strange holiday this year. Fireworks are canceled in most places to prevent gatherings and the spread of disease. You cannot dispute the wisdom of this course of action.

Still, it is a historic day for our nation. So, my good wishes to all as we contemplate the way forward in terms of battling this dreadful disease, our political future, and an end to racial injustice.

On a personal note, July 4th is a historic day in the life of my family. My parents met on this day 88 years ago — on a blind date — at Coney Island. He was supposed to be my mother’s best friend’s date, but he took one look at my mother and that was it! They married seven months later.

And so, here we are on Day 110. As my friend Rachelle wrote on her Facebook page, “Mask Up or Stay Home.”

 

Day 108

A Lack of Hospitality

For the past two days, we’ve had workmen at the house, working on the roof and in the garage on a solar battery installation project. Ever energy-efficient Handsome Hubby’s was in charge, but still, normally when people work at the house, I introduce myself, offer coffee in the morning, cold drinks in the afternoon, and make random chit chat during the course of the day.

But not this time …

This time I avoided the men, as the expression goes, like the plague. Yes, in these oh, so cautious times, I’m afraid that I’m afraid of strangers.

One man didn’t wear a mask. What the hell? Should I complain to his employer? Or is it none of my business?

All I know is if this is the new normal, I don’t like the “new me.” Cautious. Inhospitable. Scared.

Meanwhile, an unrelated observation …

Do you know how people complain about how they can’t stop working since they started working from home? Well, that’s how I feel about housecleaning. I can’t stop cleaning!

Last night after dinner, I could not resist the urge to use one of those Mr. Clean abrasive wall scrubber-sponge thingies to tackle those tiny scuff marks that inevitably appear here, there, and EVERYWHERE! Why at 7:48 p.m. did this become an itch that had to be scratched I cannot tell you.

And so goes Day 108.

And about those workmen, it really was a shame about my lack of hospitality. I made a batch of brownies — killer good. Too good, too plentiful, and way too caloric for just Handsome Hubby and me. It would have been nice to have shared them. Man, I need to, as the kids would say, “get a hurdle and get over it!”

Anyway, onward to more hospitable days.

Day 103

Strange Cravings

I’m starting to have visions. Not religious visions. No, more like sugar plums and other sweets plus a few savory treats to round out the picture.

Yes, like someone lost midway through the Sahara Desert or shipwrecked (or pregnant), I’m starting to have intense and highly specific food binge desires.

I close my eyes and see specific dim sum delights — bar-b-que pork buns (don’t tell my rabbi), steamed pork buns (again, please, don’t tell my rabbi) and steamed shrimp shumai (same rabbinical request). Perhaps I could make these delights at home, but a. I don’t have the patience of a Zen master and b. I want to select these treats from steaming dim sum carts racing past me and share them with my nephew Ryan in a jam-pack Chinatown restaurant, either in San Francisco or NYC.

I also yearn for a salty, icy Margarita served with a huge bowl of chips, salsa, and guacamole. These items I can whip up at home, but again it’s about the ambiance, the friends, the crowd, the fun, the background noise.

Ah, well. It’s not like I’m starving. It’s just fun deferred.

But still, these intrusive visions are a bit alarming! I guess as long as the baked buns don’t start talking to me, I’m OK. Right?

And so goes Day 103. Hang in there. May all your cravings be satisfied! Now or not in the not-to-distant future.

Now, fess up! What are you jonesing for?

Day 100

Thanks, but No Thanks

I got a call from the lovely lady at my nail salon a couple of days ago telling me she was open for business, asking if I wanted to book an appointment. It was good to hear her voice. I’ve missed her. She’s been one of the stalwarts of my somewhat solitary writerly existence since we’ve moved to Berkeley. So, it was nice to get the call. We chatted briefly, caught up on family news — happily her 100-year-old mother is doing well, but then I politely declined to schedule an appointment and vaguely said I’d see her “in a while.”

Manicures and pedicures are supposed to be relaxing and amid rising infection rates in California, the nation, and the world, my heart just isn’t in sinking my toes into a pedicure bowl and chatting it up with the girls while wearing a mask and observing whatever safety measures are in place in a manicure shop. It just doesn’t seem worth the risk. It just doesn’t sound fun.

So, instead of booking that appointment, I ordered some non-toxic, vegan nail polish to apply at home. It’s overpriced, but a sheltering-in-place, cautious girl’s got to have some fun! And besides, after 100 days, I’ve got my self-applied manicure mojo down pat! I’ve even assembled my own manicure kit complete with basecoat and orange sticks. Remember orange sticks, ladies? Still, I admit it is not nearly as much fun as gossiping with manicurist Cindy from Vietnam at the nail shop every two weeks.

While I can do my own nails — and toes, sort of, what I cannot replicate at home is live theater. I’ve been watching streaming performances from my beloved Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Lincoln Center, and other companies far and wide, but it is just not the same. It will be a long time till we all get to walk in, sit down, and enjoy a live show. But I for one cannot wait.

I’m sorry this isn’t an upbeat journal entry. I don’t have it in me today. Frankly, I’m worried. I’m reading too many alarming reports about rising infection rates and I fear we’re opening up the country too quickly. I can only urge people to be careful. Wear masks. Wash their hands. Keep their hands away from their faces (which somehow seems the hardest thing to do). Religiously practice social distancing. Be patient. AND every day, find something to be grateful for. That may sound Pollyanna-ish, but I think that part is essential too.

That’s what I’ve got on Day 100. Good wishes to everyone. I’m grateful to have you all in my life.

OK. I cannot resist! Here’s some news that made me chuckle and cringe: Actor Dennis Quaid just got married again. The detail that got me? Quaid is 66. The bride, 27. I guess who am I to judge? But I don’t know. I just don’t.

Day 95

Best Headline of the Week

“Pandemic may end talking to nude men”

The news is usually grim, but the above headline has had me chuckling all week and I had to share it with you! It comes thanks to the San Francisco Chronicle. I thought of not explaining it. After all, it’s so delicious as is but I guess that’s not fair. So, here goes:

The headline accompanies a story by Chronicle sports columnist Scott Ostler who’s delivered a eulogy of sorts for a “great American sports institution …facing extinction”: the locker room and clubhouse interview.

Yes, because of coronavirus safety concerns, it appears those interviews will be no more. In his column, Ostler then details a few of his more memorable locker room interviews and the players and coaches he’s talked to. It’s a fun story and you don’t have to be a sports fan to get a laugh or two.

But oh, it’s the headline that’s still got me giggling. You may recall I covered organized crime as a reporter. I thank my lucky stars I never interviewed any of those guys naked! That would not have been a pretty sight. Oh, no, it would not have been!

That’s all I’ve got for Day 95. Have a good weekend. Stay safe. Stay healthy.