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Night 49-Day 50

Oh, What a Night!

Yes, I had my first night out since the San Francisco Bay area shelter in place order was issued in March. Unfortunately, it was to the Emergency Room.

I was running a high fever that kept rising and I felt like a Boeing 747 had landed on my chest. I wasn’t coughing (much) and I still had a sense of smell and taste. It seemed more pneumonia than COVID-19.

Talking on the phone with my doctor, he agreed but said “No matter” to the ER I had to go and since enough of the symptoms overlapped with COVID-19, I needed to enter through the specially-designated coronavirus entrance, carrying a handmade sign saying “I’m here for testing.”

Handsome Hubby dropped me off. We waved good-bye and I admit I worried it might be for the last time. I admit I was terrified.

Through the Door

But once I crossed through the threshold of those doors of Alta Bates Hospital, my heart rate which had been pounding painfully suddenly slowed. I instantly felt safe. There was calm everywhere. And I knew I was in good, caring, unrushed, focused hands, hearts, and minds.

I first sat, alone, in a fairly large isolation room, staring at a TV screen watching news stories of projected soaring COVID-19 death rates mixed with eHarmony dating ads!

Then, a nurse walked in and things started happening, one, two, three. Pulse-ox, temperature reading, questions, lab work, EKG, chest X-ray, and the dreaded COVID nasal swabs. Note the use of the plural — swabs. Maybe I’m special, but I got two swabs. One for each nostril. Not pleasant, but quick and necessary. (Although I did offer the nurse $2, a buck per nostril to skip it. She just looked at me like I was well, sick.)

Each step of the way, I was informed about what was happening and what the results were. There was none of that “you’ll have to wait for the doctor for the results.” No cumbersome forms to fill out. In fact, I only signed one form when I left. No repeating 10 times what medication do I take. None of that. It was all straight to the business at hand. What the hell was making my chest hurt? Why did I have an alarmingly high heart rate and why did I have such a high fever?

The Upshot

After six hours in an immaculate private ER room being cared for by the kindest nurses, technicians, and doctors, I got my diagnosis. No COVID-19. No pneumonia. And no blood clot in my lungs. Instead, some variation of your basic flu virus exacerbated by an untreated thyroid condition which made my whole system go haywire.

Tylenol, IV fluids, and pain medication brought the fever and heart rate down, slowed my racing (and admittedly frightened) heart. It also made it easier to breathe. And with that, I got to call Handsome Hubby to come to pick me up and go home. Never did Telegraph Avenue in Downtown Berkeley look so pretty at 4:45 a.m. It made my heart race — in a good way.

Oh, what a night.

So, went night 49 and Day 50 (since I slept all day).

Day 47

A Disgrace to My Gender

With apologies to womankind, everywhere. I hang my head in shame and confess. I have failed. The weekend is here and I have nary a chore, nary a task, nary a “honey-do” for my honey to do.

Yes, the unthinkable has happened.

But these are unimaginable times and after six weeks of sheltering-in-place, I have run out of chores for Handsome Hubby to do. He’s fixed the leaky faucet outside. He’s replaced the burned-out lightbulb at the top of the stairs. And he — finally — cleaned the garage.

HH used to be a regular Mr. Fix-it, but as he’s gotten older (and less patient), his mantra became “Hire somebody to do that.”

But when the San Francisco Bay shelter-in-place order came down, he couldn’t get away with that anymore. So, I got to re-activate the “honey-do” list and man, oh, man, did I have fun with it! I listed ten million and twelve pesky little things I hate doing around the house. And HH — to his credit — went through the list, one-by-one, and knocked off the dirty little manly deeds.

Who’s Laughing Now

But now the list is complete. So, who’s having the last laugh?

Obviously, HH.

With no more chores to do and hours of “quality” weekend quarantine time ahead, I know HH is thinking three words: Die Hard (and) Terminator.

Yes, payback is a bitch. Now I’m the one going to suffer, sitting there watching those damned movies for the ten zillionth time with him. Talk about a chore!

Please, Dr. Fauci, help! Please let me shelter-in-place somewhere else. As Barbra Streisand sang in Funny Girl, “Would a convent take a Jewish girl?”

Oh, well. So, goes Day 47.

Wait! Anybody need any chores done? It’s not strictly sheltering-in-place, but if you have essential tasks that need doing, I’m willing to lend HH out. No charge — mask and gloves included. The tradition of the weekend “honey-do” list must be upheld! Besides, there’s a Die Hard marathon playing Sunday. Save me! Please!

Day 46

Cheating

Here at Maison Galatz-Wellinghoff, we’ve been having a lot of discussions lately about “cheating.” Not the marital infidelity kind, thank goodness. Not even the nightly dinnertime vegan-carnivore dustup — “Come on, a little bite won’t kill you, you know.” But rather we’ve been debating how strictly to adhere to the shelter-in-place order.

Until very recently if gold stars were given out for shelter-in-place obedience, Handsome Hubby and I would win them. No contest.

Aside from daily walks and two Sunday car rides, HH has not left the house for one single outing. Until yesterday, I’d only gone out twice, once to pick up brisket from a friend’s house — yum — and the other time to pick up handmade masks from my quilting friend Rachelle — lovely AND practical.

That’s was it. Groceries and other needed supplies all arrived via Amazon with back-up support from our next-door neighbor, kind Kimberley.

Yes, we’ve been the poster family of sheltering-in-place. But like many people, we’re getting restless. Not go-to-the-beach, consequences-be-dammed restless, but restless never-the-less.

Yesterday, I ventured forth to meet my hairdresser (on the QT) to pick up my customized hair dye, latex gloves, applicator brush, and instructions — all in a brown paper bag no less like I was some sort of tippler grabbing booze for a midday nip!

Was picking up hair dye essential? After six weeks of fast-growing hair with roots sprouting faster than crabgrass on an acre of Kentucky bluegrass sod … you betcha, hair dye was essential or at least, essential-ish.

Today I ran out “for just a minute” to pick up a birthday cake for one of my kids. And as if that’s not wild and crazy enough, I’m actually going to see my kids — from a safe social distance of six feet (actually more) — for a birthday party. Party hats and masks included! Gloves optional. We’ll dine al fresco — food, cake, and presents placed strategically on the patio table in the center and we’ll take turns walking to the table to grab the food. (I guess these precautions give new meaning to the phrase “dine and dash.”)

Of course, being restless isn’t just about wanting to go out. It’s also about being less vigilant. I know I am. Yes, I’m still washing my hands like a wannabe surgeon. Yes, I’m still giving the stink eye to any passerby who dares to weave and bob near me when I’m out walking. But in subtle ways, I’m less wary than I should be. I open packages right away when they arrive without first wiping them down. And I’m not quite as fastidious about swabbing down doorknobs and counters as I was initially. I know I should be. I mean to be. But I’m exhausted. I cannot keep up the pace that non-stop vigilance mandates.

Happily, there is one thing I’m not exhausted about doing — giving thanks for the health and safety of my family and friends! For that, I have boundless energy. Yes, I’m a little bored. A little weary. Yes, I’m cheating a little bit here and there (and I’m not talking about M & Ms), but most of all, I am so grateful.

And that really is how it goes on Day 46. Have a good weekend. Please don’t go to the beach or anywhere crowded. Gold stars all round if you don’t!

Day 44

Love in the COVID Era

Oh, ladies. I don’t mean to brag, but oh, my man and me! We’re so simpatico! So attuned. We’re actually operating on the exact same wavelength!

Our birthdays are coming up and we bought each other the same gift. It’s true. I know because we both cannot keep a surprise and as usual, we rushed to gift each other early.

“How romantic,” you say. Well, sorta.

You see our gift to each other was pulse oximeters. We both read articles alerting people to the danger of reduced oxygen levels as an undetected precursor to more serious COVID-19 symptoms. So, without alerting or alarming one another, we both jumped on the information and ordered oximeters STAT!

STAT, but still, medical devices as birthday gifts? I guess it’s just a sign of the times when loving spouses are more interested in monitoring their mate’s oxygen levels than getting their heart’s racing with new sexy lingerie.

Oh, well!

But now that I’m sporting my new fancy oximeter — complete with neck and wrist cord — I guess you could say, I’m sheltering-in-place with benefits!

Oh, my!

And so goes Day 44. What can I add, but that I’m thinking fondly of you all?

Day 43

Positive Thinking - I Think

My shoulders ache. Handsome Hubby’s got a twinge in his lower back. Oh, how we long to see our beloved masseuse Bobbi. But, of course, that’s not happening.

I tried rubbing HH’s back. He tried rubbing my shoulders. “A” for effort on both our parts, but “C” for execution. It was pleasant. It was loving. But gifted Masseuse Bobbi we ain’t.

We’ve tried stretching. We’ve tried roller balls. And we’ve tried a mentholated massage gel which stank, burned, and chilled us to the bone but provided little muscle relief.

So, we called Bobbi and said “How about a Zoom massage? Talk us through a session and we’ll see if it helps. We’ll pay. We’re desperate.”

She laughed, said it was a novel idea, and while she believed in the power of positive thinking, she had her doubts about a Zoom massage. Instead, she recommended doing a little more stretching and maybe throwing in a few deep breathing exercises.

Oh, well. We tried.

Sitting around, lamenting our aching and decaying bodies, we remembered — with no small amount of envy — an old friend of Jon’s in another town. That fellow married a masseuse. She was great. A great person and a great masseuse. We all went to her for bodywork. Man, she’d be a great person to shelter-in-place with! And if I recall correctly, she also was a gourmet chef.

Oh, well. So goes Day 43. Maybe if I try a little positive thinking, my shoulder pain will go away AND I’ll become a better cook too!

Day 42

It's Official

It’s official. The decision has been made and the shelter-in-place order for the San Francisco Bay area has been extended until the end of May. This isn’t a surprise. We’ve all be expecting the announcement. And it isn’t a bad decision. It’s wise.

But man, after six weeks of staying at home, the thought of five weeks more just reduces me to actual tears. I won’t list the litany of people I long to see and the activities I long to engage it. You’ve got your own lists. We may be socially distant right now, but we’re united in our fierce desire to “get on with the show.”

Oh, well, until then, damn you, coronavirus.

What can I offer on a bright note? Surely there is something!

Ah, yes. Two items of note: First, a couple of family members and I are starting a book club. We’ve picked our first book and then we’ll FaceTime talk about it. We don’t argue about politics, but I bet we’ll have a lively discussion about the book. We got the idea from The New York Times and went with the paper’s recommendation for a first book, Safekeeping by Abigail Thomas. Anybody read it?

The second item of note, I got to chat with my college mentee today. Like college students most everywhere, “L” is back home, taking classes online, missing friends, and campus life. What is the first thing she’s going to do post-sheltering-in-place? Go for a donut! How can you argue with that for a cheerful back-to-normal priority? I called to see how I can help L with her life but truth be told, her positivity made my day! We laughed and laughed until my stomach hurt.

And so goes Day 42, the end of Week Six. OMG. Many more weeks to come! But Spring is in the air. Flowers are blooming. Life renews. We’ll get through this.

Day 39

Still Cleaning. Still Reminiscing

Today’s cleaning project: My curio cabinet. Having finished the dusting and vacuuming, the closets and cupboards, I’ve moved on to the pesky, always-putting-them-off projects and my curio cabinet definitely fits that bill.

The cabinet is admittedly old-fashioned and out of sync with our modern house, but I love it. The cabinet is loaded with rows and rows of tiny, delicate Hummel figurines.

Do you remember Hummels? They’re based on the pastoral sketches, mostly of children, done long-ago by a German nun, Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel.

In the mid-1930s, her drawings came to the attention of porcelain maker Franz Goebel who started manufacturing figurines based on those sketches and, for a time, they were immensely popular and sold for increasingly inflated prices here in the United States.

My parents started my collection when we lived in NYC. They would buy them for me for all the usual special occasions and through the years, my collection grew quite sizeable.

The Collection Keeps Growing

My father’s business partner, who was German, would also buy them for me at dirt cheap prices on trips home to Berlin. Werner was a rough and tumble sort of guy and when he brought them over for me, he literally pulled them unwrapped one after another out of his jacket and pants’ pockets.

For my part, I didn’t merely admire the delicate figurines and stick them on a shelf, I played with them like dolls!

Despite playing with the porcelain figures, I never broke one, and today I still have them all. There’s a lot to look at and a lot to clean.

Now, homebound, I’m eyeing my Hummel cabinet with the same kind of laser-sharp eye that Mr. Clean must have when he sees a mess in need of his scrubbing expertise.

I’ve got a basin filled with warm sudsy water. Yes, those sweet little figurines are over-due for a dunking. They don’t know how to swim, but tough luck, little dollies. It’s sink or swim time. Ready or not, you’re all going splish-splash!

Of course, I’m the one a-wash, a-wash in memories of a time long ago, when I was a little girl, safe with my parents and rough and tumble Werner, all taking care of me, protecting me from the danger of big city New York and letting me enjoy the pleasures of being a little girl playing with dolls.

And as I think about my Hummels which my father so loved buying me, I must also note that this week marks the 36th yahrzeit, the 36th year of my father’s passing. Yes, it’s been quite a memory-packed week. No wonder I’ve been on such a cleaning frenzy. I just had to keep moving … and eating.

But enough looking back! Time to shake it off.

On a Lighter Note

Here’s a cartoon from The New Yorker that tickled my funny bone. I hope you enjoy it!

 

“Go to sleep. Everything will be worse in the morning.”

So goes Day 39. Have a good weekend. And please note: I am NOT picking up a dust rag. I am not vacuuming. I may live wild and not even make the bed. (Who am I kidding? What am I an animal?)

Day 38

Mid-Day Malaise

Once when I was 12 on summer vacation, I turned to my mother and said: “I’m bored.”

Her reply: “Only stupid people get bored. You’re not stupid. Go find something to do.”

I heard the challenge in her voice and hunted for that “something to do.” Finally, I picked up her copy of Gone with the Wind. And for the next four days, I did nothing but read.

There were household chores to do — vacuum, help make dinner, go to the market, dust, but all I did was read. I read even when the words were swimming on the page.

That entire time, my mother never said a word. She never yelled at me for not helping around the house. She just let me read. What an amazing gift from my mother, herself a voracious reader.

And I never complained about being bored again.

Never Again Until …

Never until this week — Week 6 of sheltering-at-home.

I’ve tried to keep busy. I’ve cleaned the house from top to bottom. Dusted so thoroughly that the last of the dust bunnies retreated to a property four doors down. Vacuumed so ferociously that the vacuum motor is moaning from exhaustion. And Windex-ed till I’m out of wind and Windex!

And while I haven’t quite worked my way through the entire cleaning “to do” list, I’m pretty darn close! So close, in fact, that Handsome Hubby couldn’t find his boxer shorts this morning because I’d rearranged his drawers the day before.

That’s not all. I’ve also been a cooking dynamo and a writing manic. Now, I know this doesn’t give me special bragging rights. All my friends are doing pretty much the same — cleaning like it’s going out of style, cooking like it’s a culinary competition, and engaging in creative pursuits like somebody is in hot pursuit.

Yet, when all is said and done, I’m ashamed to say it, but still, “I’m bored.”

How much cleaning, cooking, watching TV, going for walks, writing — WHATEVER — can we all do, when what we really want to do is see one another? I yearn for company and face-to-face conversations.

So, I stand corrected. I’m not “bored.” I’m lonely. Lonely for friends and family and heart-to-heart conversations. Lonely for acquaintances and chit chat. I don’t want to Zoom video conference. I want hugs, handshakes, and pats on the back. Also coffee klatches, lunches out, cocktails, and dinner parties.

But for now, I won’t rush things. I will do what’s right. Stay home, follow the rules, and yes, from time to time, figure out new ways to avoid the inevitable boredom that comes from staying put.

And so goes Day 38.

Day 36

Why Didn't I Think of That?

Sometimes somebody writes something so clever, I hit myself (gently) on the head and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Well, today is one of those days. And the person who beat me (by a mile) to the punch is Roz Warren, one very funny librarian and writer. Roz just wrote a piece that I’ve got to share with you.

The title’s “I Don’t Want to Hold Your Hand – What if Beatles Songs Were About the Pandemic?”

Here are a couple of my favorites from Roz’s updated Beatles’ playlist:

Help! I Need Some Toilet Paper!
All You Need is Hand Sanitizer
Can’t Buy Me Lysol Wipes
Eight Zoom Meetings a Week
The Long and Winding Zoom Meeting

And my personal favorite,

While My Stock Market Portfolio Gently Plummets

You can find Roz’s full story/playlist here. Roz really is a librarian by the way. She’s written a book about her experiences called Our Bodies, Our Shelves: A Collection of Library Humor. Pardon the obvious pun but check it out!

And with that, I’m going to go and play some of my favorite Beatles tunes. I guess “We all live in a Yellow Submarine” is appropriate for Day 36, the start of the 6th week of sheltering in place! I just wish my friends could come on board! Oh, well.

Day 35

Blue Monday

Poor Monday, the first day of the workweek, always getting a bad rap in song and in life.

“Every other day of the week is fine, yeah.
But whenever Monday comes – but whenever Monday comes
You can find me crying all of the time.”
Monday, Monday
The Mamas and the Papas

Well, sorry Monday, I hate to add to your woes, but since we’ve been sheltering in place, I’m finding the first day of the week, the hardest of all.

I can handle the quiet and solitude of the weekend. Handsome Hubby doesn’t disappear into his office, hunkering down for long hours of work. Instead, he miraculously relaxes. We read the papers together. Go for long walks. “Pretend” we’re going to the movies and have TV marathons complete with snacks.

But Monday, you arrive and Handsome Hubby retreats back to the office, his computer, and non-stop phone calls. I also head to my office, my computer, and my writing. There are no distractions but the dust bunnies that have accumulated since my last manic cleaning fit of just a few days before. No lunches out with girlfriends. No coffee breaks with writing colleagues. And no meetings at my beloved Berkeley Repertory Theatre. There’s just too much solitude and inactivity.

Of course, since the shelter in place order for the San Francisco Bay area was issued on March 17th, a Tuesday, maybe Monday, I should give you a break. Maybe you’re not the bad day in my blues scenario. And if that’s the case, I guess I’ve got no day and nobody to blame for my blues.

Get It Together

If that’s the case, I’d better shake it off and get busy! There are dust bunnies to annihilate. Journal entries to write. Walks to walk. And so much to appreciate. Good health. Good friends. And you-know-who … Handsome Hubby, who’s busy in the other room, talking way too loud into his headset, teaching clients the ways of good energy efficiency and energy renewable policy.

All things considered, my life isn’t so bad on a Monday, Day 35. I hope your day isn’t a Blue Monday.

🎶 🎶 🎶

And a Blue Monday trivia note:

The third Monday of January is actually dubbed “Blue Monday.” The idea is that’s the day when people are at a New Year’s low because all their resolutions to be better, thinner, and more fit have failed to happen!