Wednesday, March 25, 2020

SD Day I'm not even sure what day it is anymore

As it turns out, today is Wednesday. I'm pretty sure.

I just checked. It's definitely Wednesday.


Also: my mother may not have gotten out of her PJs today, but the rest of us did. I'm happy to report we all brushed our teeth.


Yesterday we got a call from one of India's teachers, and today one of Jordan's teachers called. It was lovely that they called to check in and to talk to the kids.

I was completely honest with both of them: we've done nothing academic. The kids have been reading in English, not Spanish. But that's it.

Frankly, I'm not sure that Jordan will do any of the schoolwork in this period. India asked to do some this afternoon, and she did math. Up to a point. And then she was all, "UGH! This is just like doing schoolwork!"

Why, yes.

Jordan's teacher offered any help we might need, and said he doesn't need to do more than 30-60 minutes per subject per day.

I didn't say there's just no way that's going to happen.

But there's just no way that's going to happen.


We are doing puzzles. Jordan is reading The Hobbit.

A friend suggested we play Cribbage to use some math. I am going to look into learning it.

Part of what I find hard is that I have to be involved in all of this. Not hand-holding but right there, encouraging, participating. It's kind of exhausting.

Today I didn't make them do anything. We had a totally peaceful day. We finished our puzzle. We hung out. They watched an embarrassing amount of television.

Jordan walked the dog at some point.

But my idea to chronicle this historic time (writing!) was shot down. Jordan said, "YOU can write about it."



Also, our running has gone straight to hell. As it turns out, they're not remotely interested in running just to run.

Even for money or screen time.

I asked friends if they had suggestions for workouts for kids, and so we did Beachbody on Demand for Kids, GoNoodle, and PE with Joe Wicks, all of which were free.

They did this for screen time. Not for joy or health.


I feel like Bridget Jones but I'm wondering if I should start noting my exercise and alcohol consumption.

I think she also weighed herself daily, and if I do that I will go down an obsessive rabbit hole. So, no weighing. 

Today I lifted weights. And drank two beers.

Apparently regular old vodka is just not strong enough for hand sanitizer, which is too bad because I was thinking I could mix it with aloe, which we have a jug of in the pantry because at some point I was going to make healthy juice kind of concoctions but never did.

But I read that vodka doesn't have a high enough percentage of alcohol.

So then I was thinking, well, vodka and aloe could be a calming and healthy-ish breakfast drink...

Maybe mix in a few greens? Some chia seeds?

I know. It's a slippery slope. I should stick to protein smoothies.


Oh, also, I think I've developed a tic.

See, my cough is better but when I'm out walking the dog, as soon as I see someone, I get the urge to cough.

I bet vodka and aloe could really help with this.

Stay safe.

Love and hugs,


Monday, March 23, 2020

SD Day 8: "Things are different today" I hear ev'ry mother say

Yesterday I went out for a long run to try to lift my mood and lower my anxiety.

Actually, it was more of a run/walk, because the pollen has been out in full force and my allergies are making me cough. And running through the gently frolicking pollen made me cough. A lot.

Now, on the one hand this was helpful because I didn't have to cross the street when I saw people approaching. They crossed the street when they heard me.

On the other hand, coughing incessantly is miserable in the best of times.

But at this juncture I am all, cherry blossoms? Or Covid? CherryblossomsorCovid?

I have been coughing so often that I have a perpetual headache. Which I believe is also a symptom of the illness.

So now I'm regularly checking for mucus. Mucus? Check! Good! I have a stuffy nose. Also good! I'm coughing because my throat is irritated by the mucus. Good! I don't have a fever. Excellent!

Not all people who got sick had a fever.

I really and truly don't think I have Covid. I have seasonal allergies. And anxiety. It's just very bad timing.

I mean, let's be fair: all of this is very bad timing for everyone. There's never a great time for a pandemic.

Which reminds me. Have you read Year of the Flood? I really do believe Margaret Atwood is a visitor from the future. She knew everything way ahead.

Last week I emailed my psychiatrist to tell him that while I am taking my medication religiously and exercising and getting out in the sunshine, there are times when I just lose it. I asked if he could prescribe Ativan or something of the sort.

He called. I didn't recognize the number, but fortunately I answered anyway, and we had a little chat.

When he asked how I was, my inclination was to say, "Fine!"

Remember how I was going to lie to him that one time and then didn't?

So I started to say fine but then was like, I am really not doing very well. I'm not in crisis. Except, in some moments I am kind of in crisis. Sometimes I just get myself so wound up that I can't calm down.

Not a panic attack, because now I know what those are like. But like the 3:00 am anxiety that jacks up my adrenaline and makes me physically uncomfortable.

I cannot be alone in this.

Just getting a prescription made me feel better.

Of course, I walked into the pharmacy wearing gloves, with my sleeves pushed up so I wouldn't have to push them up with my hands when I washed them, and carrying nothing but my credit card. Which I sprayed down when I got home, after disposing of my gloves and scrubbing my hands.

Over the weekend, the kids said they would like daily running to be a weekday thing. I agreed.

But then today, when I suggested we go for our run, my son said, "It's supposed to rain all day."

I looked out the window and said, "It's not raining."

"But it's supposed to. All day."

Frankly, I didn't have the energy to get them enthused for a run. I didn't even have the energy to threaten them into it.

So I said fine. We put on GoNoodle and they jumped around to a bunch of those and giggled, and I figure that's at least as good.

I don't have anything funny to say. All I want to do is sleep. I feel this crushing guilt for not scheduling my children today, for letting them have screen time, for having GoNoodle possibly be the most constructive thing we do today.

I'm supposed to be a positive force in the household, holding it together for the kids, whose anxieties are leaking out in crying and in anger.

And all I want to do is hide and sleep.

Hide and sleep. A new game for children with tired parents.

Stop, drop, and roll. Shelter in place.

Stay safe.

Love and  hugs,


Friday, March 20, 2020

SD Day 5: Running to stand still

I have now forced my children to run four times. Well, actually, only Jordan and I ran yesterday. India has run thrice.

Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d. Thrice, and once the hedge-pig whined.

Yesterday, India absolutely, completely, unequivocally could not go because she had no running shoes and her regular sneakers hurt and that was that.

Then the ordered running shoes arrived and they were adorable and comfortable and she was utterly ungrateful about the whole thing.

The first day, Jordan complained the entire time, with India adding in her certainty of perishing from lack of water in the last 10 minutes.

His legs hurt. No, really, they hurt. His back hurt. His shoulder hurt. I didn't understand that they HURT.

The second day India complained that her feet hurt. The whole time. To be fair, her shoes are cute and gold but have no cushion. So when she said she was NOT running, I agreed.

Jordan only complained for about 25% of the time, and asked how many more minutes maybe 10 times. In the 30-minute time span.

But! We ran for 20 the first day, 21 the next, and 22 the third. We are very slow runners, but we keep moving.

Today my hope was 23 minutes of running but we ran for 20 under duress and it was fucking wretched the whole entire time.

We got to the top of a hill and a woman going by on a bike started laughing when she heard me say, "Now this is downhill! Stop whining!"

Like telling my kids not to whine has ever helped.

I have used encouragement. I have cajoled. I have lost my temper. I have stopped the timer and said, THIS 30 MINUTE RUN CAN TAKE TWO HOURS IF THIS IS HOW YOU'RE GOING TO BEHAVE.

I have never been fast at distance but I have always had strong legs and been stubborn. And to be honest, I like running. I like the motion.

But I don't like running so much that it's still a pleasure to drag two belligerent, complaining complainers along.

And still, I persist.

The first day India said she was going to run really fast and get there and be done. And I was like, that's not the point. The point is to run for 30 minutes.


Anywhere. run. For at least 20 minutes straight. We'll work up to 30.

We're not going somewhere? We're just...running?

(It sounds kind of stupid when you put it that way, doesn't it?)

Just wait till they encounter treadmills.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

SD Day 4: Miss Truvy, I promise that my personal tragedy will not interfere with my ability to do good hair

And it makes me smile, yeah it makes me smiiiile...
When I think about it, my life-and-death crises have been personal, not global.

When I was 11, and my mom and I found my dad unconscious in the shower, I knew it was an emergency. I didn't recognize it as a suicide attempt then, or even much later. But I knew we had to act quickly.

My mom froze, and I told her to call 911.

I was, she said later, good in a crisis. I was proud of knowing I could keep a cool head in an emergency.

I fell apart in quiet, unobtrusive ways after that--forgetting my homework day after day, for example. But I didn't get in trouble, because I was a good student, and a friendly, compliant one. I just couldn't remember anything.

Nobody thought that I might need help.

I had just started college when my dad attempted a second time. So I wasn't there to handle the crisis. We didn't even talk about it. I coped by crying a lot, gaining 40 pounds, and grinding my teeth.

We all thought we were fine. Moving to the US and starting college is hard. Girls all gain the freshman 15, don't they?

Thirteen years later, my mom called me at 7:00 am on a Sunday, and immediately I knew that Dad had disappeared. Had I subconsciously been waiting every day for this? I think probably.

I know every day after that I was. Every day until he died, a decade later.

But each time, I knew exactly what to do. I didn't cry, and I didn't freeze. I called the police, talked to them when they showed up, drove to the scene or to the ER. I got very cold, because that's what happens when I'm extremely upset. My body goes cold, sometimes to the point where I shake.

Does this happen to anyone else?

But I would deal with it and then fall apart later.

But chronicling my dad's numerous suicide attempts is not my point here. Or maybe it is. Clearly I've been thinking through it.

But I think what I'm doing is reassuring myself that if the worst happens, I will do a good job. Unless I'm the one who gets sick, and can't help my family, which is also a fear of mine.

I should probably burn my mortifying early-20s angst-ridden journals in case that happens.


So, I just learned a new term: anticipatory anxiety.

My friend Kate, who works in a clinic and has comorbidities that put her at risk, mentioned anticipatory anxiety. She's fine when something bad actually happens. She's calm and functional in the moment.

But in the lead-up, anticipating the worst, she's extremely anxious.

And I would say this perfectly describes my reaction. I am so very anxious about us getting sick. As I said, I'm terrified of my mom getting C19.

(And when I say C19 out loud in my head I think of either Hey 19 by Steely Dan or 319 by Prince. Take off your clothes, C19!)

I know that we are in a lucky position, and I feel grateful for all we have. I feel fearful for so many who have no reserves, who are living out in the open, who are fleeing war and have their babies with them and are in crowded conditions with little to no access to care.

My heart hurts for so many people on a regular basis. And then when you slather the threat of C19 on top of that, it crushes me.

When I am upset for a sustained period of time, I get exhausted. Does this happen to you?

In fact, I gave myself a timeout because my kids were flattening me with the MAMAMAMAMAMAMAMAMA. So while they're entertaining themselves and nobody is saying MAMA, I might just curl up and take a nap.

This triggers my Catholic guilt, even though we only went to Mass regularly for a couple years and I was never an actual Catholic, but I am so very tired.

Stay safe.

Love and hugs,


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Social Distancing, Day 2: O solitude! if I must with thee dwell...

Wanda firmly rejects Doodles with Mo Willems
In the immortal words of the Cure, "Whenever I'm alone with you/You make me feel like I am home again..."

And here we are, at home. We are alone together. Together alone. Together, so much together. So much not alone.


I am an introvert. Only other introverts believe me when I say this, so a minority of the population. But it is true. And I get peopled out and then I get crabby and kind of dysfunctional. Also, I'd be content to stay home forever.

The internet was made for people like me! I love interaction but it doesn't need to be face to face or in real time.

My son, too, could spend the rest of his life on the couch reading a book.

This is particularly hard on India and Nick. They, like other extroverts, need other people to recharge them.


Yesterday I felt very down on myself.

I'm in a WhatsApp group for second grate parents. And there are tons of amazing suggestions in that group. It's a terrific resource.

But what it mostly made me feel was that everyone else has an actual schedule that they're sticking to, and all these creative educational activities that they're actually making their kids do.

And then there's us.

We watched a lot of TV, to be honest. We took the dog out on some walks; this may be the most constructive thing we did. Oh, we also did Doodles with Mo Willems. But this was 30 minutes out of the whole day.

Me, I did some half-hearted laundry. I folded two sets of sheets, but since I now tend to just go straight to rolling the fitted sheets in a ball rather than actually trying to make them square, that hardly counts as much.

What I did most of was ratchet up my anxiety by obsessively reading the NYT and the Post.


Nick is going to the office, because there's almost nobody in the whole building.

While I'd rather have him safely at home and not worry that he won't wash his hands properly after entering the building, or maybe he'll forget and go ahead and lick the elevator buttons or something, it is better in so many ways that he's able to go to the office.

For one thing, he's so much more productive there. And he had to sign paychecks, which were there.

And also, when he is home for extended periods his stress washes into me and he tends to supervise me. Which causes me to feel all kinds of ill will towards him. Sometimes I walk around muttering under my breath and sometimes I have to just sit on my stabby hands.

I mean, we could all wind up being home together for weeks on end. And we are so lucky that we have a big house, and we are not packed in together.

Betty's floor is not self-contained, but she can be away from all of us.

Nick could shut himself into his office and be left in peace, assuming the kids would leave him be.

And I could be left to my unsupervised devices, watching Fuller House with the kids.


Actually, this afternoon the kids, Wanda, and I are going to go for a 30-minute run. We have bribed the children with cash money if they will go out for a run. I don't imagine them doing 30 minutes initially but we can jog for as long as they can, and walk the rest.

We all need the air.

I don't know how else to get them to exercise. They aren't interested in hikes in nature, and the last time we walked over to Rock Creek, one, the part we go to was full of other people, and two, India insisted on getting on the exercise equipment and frankly I will be apoplectic if that happens again.


My mom is the one I'm most anxious about. I mean, I have asthma, and that's not great in terms of this dread respiratory virus. But my mom is 82, with high blood pressure and COPD.

She's been sick for over two weeks, although she got an antibiotic last week and it's made a great difference. But when she gets sick she takes to bed and stays there.

This turns out to have been a blessing, because two weeks ago she canceled some non-urgent appointments. She hasn't been out and about in the world.

I'm very thankful for this. But I still fear that we will infect her.

At her age with two comorbidities (which autocorrect would really like to change to commodities), she is solidly in the group that does not tend to survive Covid19.

Autocorrect also likes to change any misspelling of "asshole" to "asshoke" on my phone and I am all, duck you very much. As it turns out, I write asshole on a regular basis. Who'd expect?

I had never given any thought to the word "comorbidity" before now. She has two comorbidities.

And on a side note, before the election of 2016, I had also never given any thought to the word indicted. Have I told you this before? I can't remember.

Nick asked me to google if someone had been indicted and I spelled it "endeighted" and said I couldn't find any information.

Now I know how to spell it.


Betty is a paper product enthusiast, so we are set for toilet paper and paper towels.

We have goods that will last, like beans. We always at least have lentils. We have rice because how do you live without rice? I just ordered some more peanut butter and a 10 pound bag of chocolate chips, because that seemed like it could come in handy.


Really, though, what I would like to know is how you are.

So, how are you? How is the situation in your neighborhood, state, country?

How are you feeling, physically and mentally? How is your anxiety level?

What are you doing with your time?

And perhaps most importantly, what are you doing that is good for you?

Stay safe, my friends.

Love and hugs,