Casual Saturday Sexism

I’m a bit out of shape, and I had chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, so when I was running uphill in a neighborhood earlier this morning, I decided to let my body take a break and walk for a minute.

I came upon some guy standing alone in his driveway, seemingly laughing to himself, with what looked like an e-cigarette in his palm, though I doubt very much it was filled with a nicotine product.

As soon as I was within earshot of him, he said, “Hey, you got a boyfriend?”
“I got a husband,” I replied.

“I was gonna say…” he trailed off as I trailed on.

What was he gonna say? If the answer was no, what was he gonna say?

Because another man had claim to me, I will never know. Because that’s the code among men. I’m off limits because I belong to someone.

Never mind if I’m actually interested. (I wasn’t.)

What if the answer to his question was “I got a girlfriend” or “I got a wife”? Would he say something then? Does being attached to another woman still scream “off limits” in the guy code?

If he was gonna say he found me attractive (which, I was sweating and panting and my muffin top was squeezing out over my spandex shorts), he couldn’t say that once he knew I was married?

I suppose it’s sexist that he feels the need to talk to me at all, that he feels his interest me is more important than my interest in him or my workout or anything going on in my day. But it feels especially sexist that the first thing he has to ask before he engages with me is whether or not I’m spoken for. As though I wasn’t an adult woman who is allowed to talk to anyone I wish to, whether that be a single man or a married man. With the one question he asked me, he might as well have came across my husband walking a dog, my husband having to give him permission before he were allowed to pet it.

Sure, it may have made me feel a bit younger, since he assumed boyfriend and now husband. And sure, it may have made me forget about my muffin top for a minute. And sure, he probably had no ill intention by greeting me, if you can call that a greeting.

But seriously, man. Do us all a favor and, next time, just don’t say anything. Just let us be. Because chances are, it’s only gonna be insulting.

Coronavirus Dairies: Week Eighteen

June 28

I didn’t even know the botanical gardens had reopened until I saw a friend post their visit on social media. We are members there, and we decided it was time to go back.

We got there when it opened, and the parking lot was empty. There is a big tree house for kids to play in, and Amelia headed straight there. She was the only kid, and it felt like it was ours and only ours.

After a while of playing, we walked over to the farm where she could pump water and ring the bell, and then we headed to the cafe for lunch, which was also empty.

Before we left, Amelia wanted to go play in the tree house one more time. When we got there, though, it was overrun with children. Where had all these kids come from?

Chris looked at me. “What do you think?” he asked.

I said, “Well, at least we’re outside?”

And up the stairs Amelia flew, flanked by stranger children who were touching every surface nearby. I immediately regretted my answer.

Luckily, Amelia quickly grew tired of the crowds. She preferred to have the place to herself. She’s such an introvert. And I’m so happy she is.

June 29

Cases are getting out of control in Florida, Arizona, Texas. Our cases in Michigan are on the rise, too. Three restaurants had to close this weekend; they had staff who tested positive for Covid. No, we won’t be going out for any more dates any time soon.

Disneyworld is supposed to open in a few weeks. I can’t imagine how they’ll do that, not with the virus taking over the entire state. We have reservations for September. If they do open, we’ll have to decide if we feel comfortable enough to chance it. Right now, I don’t feel comfortable.

June 30

The library building is supposed to open to patrons next week. We had a Teams meeting today for staff to ask questions about procedures for that. All the staff at my branch don’t want to open, especially with cases on the rise here. But the governor hasn’t changed course on restrictions yet.

“Will the governor have to make an executive order for us to not open on Monday?” someone asked in the meeting.

Yes and no. Our governor has been on top of things, and we trust her. But also, we want to take care of our staff, and we’ll do what is in their best interest.

“I don’t think we’re going to open,” my coworker said me.

“I’m counting on Gretchen to come to our rescue,” I answered.

July 1

The governor didn’t change her restrictions, but she did warn the state that they’re on shaky ground right now.

Our library director delayed our opening until cases start to decrease again.


July 2

I’ve been stupidly asking my coworkers if they have any plans for the Fourth. No one does of course. What plans COULD they have? Most fireworks displays are cancelled. There aren’t any festivals. People aren’t gonna have parties (I hope).

It’s gonna be hotter than hell. I just hope to sit in Amelia’s kiddie pool all weekend and drink.

July 3

The public museum (we’re members there, too) has reopened for members this week. Amelia loves the public museum. They have a oversized dollhouse she can play in, a giant Lite Brite, a carousel, lots of buttons to press, lots of things to touch.

Whenever we are driving through downtown, she points out the museum, which you can see from the highway, and says she wants to go. And up till now, we had to tell her that we couldn’t because it was close. But now we can. But I don’t want to.

Hang out inside with strangers where all the fun stuff requires touching things other people have touched?

But I reserved tickets anyhow.

So this morning, I asked Amelia if she wanted to go to the museum.

“Yeah!” she said.

“Okay, but just so you know, we can’t ride the carousel. And we’ll need to wear masks the whole time. And there will be some hand cleaning that has to happen” (she hates to wash her hands).

“Don’t want to go,” she replied.

Okay, then. Sounds good to me.

Coronavirus Diaries: Week Seventeen

June 20

We went to the beach today. We went early, because I was nervous about parking and crowds. But when we got there, there was no line and there were plenty of spaces. Amelia immediately ran down to the water, which was freezing, but she didn’t care in the least. She splashed and made me carry her to where it was deep and threw wet sand clumps into the waves. Though she shivered and we told her it was time to get out, she refused. She is so my daughter.

There were so many boats in the channel. Everyone wanted to get out on the lake. Though there were people everywhere, no one wore masks. It was safe to not wear a mask outside, or so we had been told. But when we were dry and packed everything up, Amelia wanted to play on the playground before we left. So she climbed and she slid and she ran amongst the company of children who were strangers, children whose families’ lifestyles and political beliefs were unknown to us.

But we were outside, so we were safe, right?

June 22

I’ve been having a bit of a back-and-forth with a friend of mine who thinks we’re being reckless in the time of Covid. She could hardly believe I went to get a massage or went to a restaurant. What was I thinking, exposing my mouth to others while inside (my words, not hers)?

I get where she’s coming from. No, being indoors with strangers isn’t very safe. Being indoors with strangers without my mask on (like when I got a massage or when I ate my food) is even worse. It does look bad from someone who is being especially cautious.

I thought I WAS being especially cautious. Like I’ve repeated multiple times, it FELT safe. I was content with the precautions that had been made to keep people healthy. But was I safe, really? Hell if I know.

Part of me thinks we need to keep living our lives. We can’t stay holed up forever. That’s what we say when the snow and ice make driving treacherous in Michigan winters. Going out could be potentially hazardous to our health, but we can’t hide scared in the house for three months.

Or maybe we could. Maybe we just don’t want to?

June 24

Our second week of curbside service at the library, and things haven’t really slowed down. Still getting in all my steps while at work. It has been emotionally and physically exhausting.

Usually, when the library is open, there can be a good amount of downtime, time where I’m sitting at a desk waiting to be asked questions. In that time, I often write emails or research for a piece of writing I’m doing or even proofread things I’ve written. But right now there are no desk shifts. And there is no downtime.

Before I was back at the library, when Chris finished working for the day, we’d basically swap places. He’d come out and watch Amelia, and I’d go in the office and work. But now I go to the library in the evening. And I don’t have any time to get any work done. And by work, I mean writing.

I keep setting my alarm for early, thinking if I could only convince myself to get up before everyone, I could get a good hour of writing in. But I keep turning off that alarm and going back to sleep.

I don’t have the luxury to prioritize writing right now.

Coronavirus Diaries: Week Sixteen

June 13

My husband is a triathlete, so our summer weekends are usually packed with races, but this year, all the races have been cancelled or turned into online events. One such event, the Grand Rapids Tri, which my husband has participated in for at least the last five years, is allowing their entrants any day in June to compete virtually. Chris chose today.

He changed his event from the full tri to a duathalon, since we don’t have a lake or a pool nearby. So instead of swim, bike run, it’s run, bike, run: 10K followed by a 50-mile bike ride, followed by another 10K.

Our neighborhood is conveniently in a half-mile circle, so he used that as his location for his event today.

So instead of waking up at dawn, packing the car full with his wet suit, his bike, and all his other provisions, waiting for the honk of the start time on the hill of Thornapple River, standing around for 45 minutes, getting dizzy trying to catch the faces of the people coming out of the water, mistakenly identifying my husband a number of times, nearly missing him as he runs right by me into transition, frantically trying to find him coming out of transitions, followed by more waiting around until the whole thing repeats itself two more times–instead of all that, Amelia and I made chalk pictures in the driveway and waved to Chris every 3 minutes he came around the circle.

Best race ever, in my opinion.

June 15

Our library opened for curbside service today. I went in to open and I worked until close. I got 12,000 steps on my fitbit. The holds on the shelves waiting to be picked up were stuffed to capacity and even overflowed to the next wall and to the back of a bookcase. I have never seen so many holds in my life.

We were all worried about people making snarky comments about the building not being open, but I heard nothing negative whatsoever. Only people who were happy and grateful to have physical materials back in their hands (or at least in their trunks). So many smiles.

June 16

Our governor allowed restaurants to reopen last weekend with certain restrictions in place. I think Amelia has missed eating out more than Chris or me. Whenever we go to pick up food, she asks “can we eat it there?” And the answer up to now has been no.

And even though some dining rooms are open now, the answer will probably still be no for some time. Why chance it?

There is one exception. Chris and my favorite restaurant downtown is a tiki bar that only opened in the fall. We’ve been doing our part during Covid to help keep them in business, ordering takeout from them multiple times. Now that their dining room was open, we wanted to support them some more. So after work, my mother-in-law stayed later than normal and Chris and I got to go on a date.

Half the tables were missing in the restaurant, and about half of the tables that were there were full. We were seated against a wall, and we kept our masks on until our drinks arrived. It all felt rather safe.

For not going out on a date for half a year, we went a little overboard. We ordered three things to share and five drinks between us and even sprung for the bonfire dessert where they bring you a little bucket of fire and you get to roast your own marshmallows. It was extremely indulgent and delicious and fun.

After dinner, in an effort to help our full stomachs digest, we went for a walk around the city. It was the first I had seen it in months, the first I saw it after the riots. A lot of windows were boarded over. It was unsettling to see. But also, a lot of those boards had beautiful artwork painted on them.

Maybe Jonathan Larson was right. The opposite of war isn’t peace; it’s creation.

June 19

In addition to restaurants being open, salons and barbers are now open, too. I had already botched my bangs early during the lockdown, and they have since grown out to touch my nose yet again. With hot weather on the horizon, I desperately needed to shed some inches off my heat helmet known as my hair. Chris suggested that I get a massage at the salon, since I’m going anyhow. So I signed up for that, too.

The salon took many precautions. I checked in from outside via text, and they texted me when it was all right to come in and where to go. My massage was first, and my masseuse had a serious mask on, one with a filter, not just a cloth mask. When I got my hair cut, both me and my stylist kept our masks on the whole time. I didn’t see anyone not wearing a mask. I’m not sure they were even letting people in who weren’t wearing masks.

It all felt relatively safe.

That’s what I keep saying, isn’t it? It all feels safe. I guess that’s the main problem right now–everyone is getting a little too comfortable. But this isn’t over yet. Cases are still popping up. Covid isn’t yet gone. And I was in a crowded place for an hour, where, yeah, everyone had masks on, but was that really enough?

I don’t know.

Coronavirus Diaries: Week Fifteen

June 6

The zoo opened this weekend to members–that’s us. There were timed entries, and the buildings would still be closed, but the outside–where a majority of the animals are–would be available to roam. It seemed rather low risk, and it seemed like the zoo was taking precautions, so we signed up for 10am tickets and went out on our first large-gathering outing since March.

We took our masks, but neither Amelia nor I wore ours because we were out in the open and when we arrived, there was plenty of room to spread out from others. But quickly the outside spaces started to get crowded. While we watched the otters slide through the water, we stood on a green dot painted on the pavement, and another family stood on a green dot painted 6 feet away, but the widths of our respective families were so large that my shoulder nearly touched the other family’s dad’s shoulder.

The concept of taking turns at the zoo has always been an elusive concept. Animals aren’t always moving or aren’t always up close, so when they are, kids and parents alike rush to the glass or the fence to get a view. A virus doesn’t take away that instinct, apparently. When we visited the new meerkat exhibit, and the tiny animals popped sporadically from their holes, kids jumped up to the glass; hot hand prints left behind on the glass. I felt my chest seizing up, all the potential germs swarming around the spectators. I put Amelia and my masks on.

We were only there about an hour before the crowds got too thick to consistently keep 6 feet between us and other families. So though the weather was perfect and Amelia was having fun, we called it quits early, no longer feeling like we were safe.

June 8

First day back at work in almost three months. I was on my feet for nine hours, and I felt it by the end of the night.

Another thing I found uncomfortable: mask wearing for nine hours. My face felt moist from my breath, yet I could feel my lips chapping.

Nothing has been to get us ready for patrons coming into the building. Even though we have three weeks before that happens, it would have felt more reassuring to see measures being taken to keep us safe. Instead, it feels as though we’re responsible for looking out for ourselves.

It was an exhausting day, both physically and emotionally. I stopped for ice cream on my way home.

June 9

JK Rowling has tweeted some offensive things about trans people lately.

With everything going on in the world today, with it being Pride month, I have to ask WHY. WHY would she be so hurtful when so many people are hurting already?

JK Rowling thinks that allowing trans women in cis women spaces takes away from the experience of being a cis woman, but it doesn’t. Trans women have to face just as much discrimination as cis women–more in most cases.

Why is she trying to be exclusive when right now what we need more than anything is unity? Right now what we need more than anything is to care for our neighbors, keep their best interest in mind. But instead of tearing down walls, she’s building them.

June 10

I ate red onions for dinner, and then went to work and wore my mask for three hours. Big mistake.

June 12

We’ve been responsible at work this week. Everyone has been wearing masks nonstop. Everyone has been taking their lunches at different times. Everyone has been standing 6 feet apart when we gather for meetings.

Not that I’m worried about my coworkers. They are all socially minded people (HELLO! OUR JOB IS IN THE SERVICE INDUSTRY), so I know they’ve been responsible during this time. It’s really the patrons coming back in a couple of weeks that has most of us worried.

But then I got an email from HR saying two people in our library system have been told to quarantine themselves due to Covid. So maybe being around my coworkers isn’t as safe as I thought it was.

Coronavirus Diaries: Week Fourteen

May 31

There were riots in the city last night. In my city.

There were peaceful protests for a long while. And it seems that those who were protesting were not those who were rioting. Could have been white people who were trying to be jerks in multiple ways. So that’s a whole new level of depressing.

Protests during a pandemic. As if the world couldn’t get any stranger.

But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do when you gotta do it, virus be damned.

June 1

Jesus, the start of yet another month.

Today my governor lifted some aspects of her stay-at-home order. Come Thursday, retail spaces can open. Come Monday, restaurants can reopen.

To be honest, it’s been easy to forget that covid is even still happening. Sheltering in place has become second-nature; it’s almost like I sometimes forget why we’re doing it and yet I don’t even question it. I just stay home.

Plus, there are “more important” things happening in the country now; I mean, I wouldn’t even try to compare which is more important, racism or pandemic–they’re both pretty epic–but the racism seems at the forefront while the pandemic is taking a back seat.

June 2

I got an email last night just before I cooked dinner telling me we were going back to work a week earlier than planned because of the governor’s order being partially lifted. So where I thought I had at least two weeks of working from home left, I now have six days.

It’s no matter, really, if I go back this coming Monday or the next. My mother-in-law is ready to come babysit like she did before all this started, and that’s really the only preparation that needs to be made.

But I suddenly felt sad to give up this lifestyle I’ve become accustomed to. Change is always hard, I suppose, even if that change is returning to “normal.”

June 3

The library is really moving things along quickly. They’ve announced they plan on opening to patrons (at 25% capacity) right after Fourth of July. So I’ll go back on Monday, we’ll start curbside service the next Monday, and then two Mondays later, people will be coming in the building. And they announced it to the public, so it’s a pretty done deal.

It is somewhat worrisome to think about people coming in the library. And we aren’t even allowed to refuse entry to people who won’t wear masks. So there could be a high risk there.

But it’s not just the virus that has me worried.

I live in a very diverse neighborhood. I started the audiobook The Hate U Give when I went for a walk last night. I didn’t realize that in the first two chapters, a terrible crime happens, one that mirrors the crime that has inspired our recent riots. And as I walked, my fists pumped, my breath quickened, and hot tears pooled behind my eyelids.

As I listened, I passed two Black girls, a Mexican couple on bikes, an Indian family out for an evening stroll. When I saw them, I said in my head, I see you, I hear you, I’m here for you. When they saw me, they might have been saying in their heads, I see you, and I’m watching you, and I’m ready to protect myself. I hate that is the atmosphere we’re living in now.

In our time working from home, we’ve been trained how to respectfully interact with homeless patrons. We’ve been trained how to deescalate situations where patrons have a conflicts with staff. We haven’t yet been trained on how to handle racial disagreements.

Not that we haven’t seen them before. Not that we haven’t had to deal with them before. We’ve kicked out a white woman for shouting at black kids, condemning us for letting “those people” into the library. We’ve called the police when a white man threatened a black man for no good reason.

Will these occasions be more frequent now? Just like everything else right now, we’ll just have to wait and see.

June 4

We had a work meeting via Zoom this morning. My manager talked about what to expect. It sounds like a disaster. She asked if anyone had any questions. We all had plenty of questions, but we all remained silent. No use asking questions. This is happening, and we just have to figure it out as we go along. There is no way to know how it is going to go.

My coworker said he thought he was mentally prepared to go back to work, but then they moved up our return date, and he doesn’t feel so prepared anymore. I don’t know if I’m prepared or not. I don’t like how messy it all sounds, how unpredictable, how hostile people might be for losing access to their library for three months.

But at the same time, Amelia has really taken a liking to make-believe games that she insists on playing with me, and I have a hard time staying awake to play, I’m so bored. So I guess I’m ready to go back.

Ready or not, here it comes.

June 5

The zoo is open for timed tickets. Chris bought tickets for tomorrow morning. It’s exciting to go do something that we used to do, something we love to do. It’s also a little scary.

The rest of the weekend will be properly cleaning the house (not cleaning like the way I’ve been half-assing it for three months) since my mother-in-law will be a regular guest again. I’m excited for both her and Amelia to have each other again.

I’m not excited to clean the damn house, though.

Coronavirus Diaries: Civil Rights edition

May 30

I woke up this morning feeling unsettled because, in this blog, which is supposed to be chronicling what living through a pandemic is like, I hadn’t touched on any of the racial dynamics happening right now. I told myself it wasn’t “on topic,” that this blog is about covid, not about police brutality or racism or civil unrest, and I’m definitely not an authority on any of those topics, so I guess I thought I’d keep to the microcosm that is my life, which isn’t really affected by any of those topics.

Only it is affected by them, because they are a reflection of American society, and so am I.

This country is going through a moral crisis AND going through a pandemic at the same time. I can’t say for sure if one is related to the other, but I can’t imagine how they’re not. Our already polarized country–pro-Trump-ers and anti-Trump-ers–become even more polarized by the pandemic, the former crying out injustice although their rights are intact, and the latter enraged by the former’s lack of compassion for their fellow man. That definitely seems to be the dividing line these days: do you care about others or do you only care about yourself?

And when racism gets involved, well, white people’s answer to that question has always been obvious. White people care more about white people than any others, as though people who don’t look like them aren’t made up of the exact same stuff they are.

I have never understood how one race can think they are superior to any others. I have never understood how one human can hurt and torture and batter another. When learning about slavery and civil rights in middle school, I’d say I had a stomach ache and had to go home. It wasn’t a lie; what I learned made me sick. I couldn’t hear about lashings, lynchings. I didn’t want to imagine one person doing such awful things to another. I didn’t want to know they could.

But it’s clear some can. It’s clear some still do. And it still makes me sick.

I know American life is complicated. Our history is complicated. Our politics are complicated. I know people have a thousand excuses and a thousand explanations about what’s happening right now. But really, the only thing that matters to me is that one question: do you care about others or do you only care about yourself?

I beg you, please: care about others.

Coronavirus Diaries: Week Thirteen

May 23

And just like that, Whitmer extended the stay-at-home order until June 12th. Did not see that coming. But happy to see it, to be honest. It still doesn’t feel like this is all under control yet, so why rush it? (Well, I’m sure people without jobs and businesses that are flailing can think of some reasons, but me, I’m content to stay safe.)

She announced it after business hours on Friday, though, so what the library will do is still unknown.

May 24

Recommendations are a little unclear right now. Earlier in the week, our governor said it was okay to gather in groups of 10 or less. But then by Friday, she was extending the stay-at-home order. So…you can go out but she’d prefer you didn’t, I think is what’s happening.

Well, either my in-laws took that as a sign or they have just really been missing their granddaughter lately, because they asked if they could come up for a visit. They know we’ve been good at social distancing and we know they’ve been good at social distancing, so we said sure.

Actually, my socializing has took a dramatic increase in the last three days. On Friday, I saw not one but two friends, sitting a proper distance away from them on their porch and deck, respectively, sipping on drinks and having normal adult conversations face-to-face. It was a little bit weird, and then it was a lot of bit nice, and as much as I’m okay with hermiting at home, well, it was a welcomed departure from our new normal.

The only thing was that with both friends, I went to their house, and my in-laws wanted to come here. I’ve talked before that I haven’t been doing a thorough job of keeping the house picked up, because what’s the point? And I didn’t even realize I should clean until I woke up this morning. The convention of cleaning for guests is so out of practice for me that I almost completely forgot to do it. Not that it mattered all that much; I don’t think they’d judge me. But still, for my own peace of mind, I had to at least wipe down the counters and put some of Amelia’s toys away.

It was a lovely day, so we spent most of the time outside anyhow. Amelia was so happy to have new people to interact with, so much so that when I asked her if she wanted me to stay in the house or if she wanted alone time with Grandma, she pointed at me and said “you can go outside.” Roger that, captain.

It was a very nice visit, but we were all out of practice, and so I doubt anyone will talk much to each other the rest of the night and we’ll all probably go to bed early because socializing is exhausting, y’all.

May 25

Some thoughts on Memorial Day, published on Indelible Ink.

May 27

Today was supposed to be the first American launch of astronauts since the space shuttle program shut down. Amelia is really into rockets right now, so we had to make sure we watched it live. Unfortunately, twenty minutes before launch, the weather was deemed too dangerous, and they scrubbed.

I was really looking forward to the launch. I guess because there isn’t much to look forward to right now. And just like everything else there might be to look forward to lately, it was cancelled. Predictable.

And yet the whole thing seemed a little preposterous. Why would we send astronauts to space in a tiny enclosed capsule when there’s really no way to determine if they’re absolutely 100% covid-free? What a strange idea–straight out of a science-fiction novel, it would seem.

May 28

I’ve run out of kitchen towels.

Well, not really. But instead of folding towels after they’re washed, I’ve just been tossing them on the futon in the basement to be folded later. Later never really seems to come, though. So my supply of kitchen towels has run out. Just another example of how relaxed we’ve been with keeping up the house.

Coronavirus Diaries: Week Twelve

May 16

It took all week, but the play set is built. It’s still missing a few small accessories, but it has swings and slides and a climbing wall and they’re all secure, so I say it’s good to go. Amelia agrees. With every new part we added, she had a new level of elation. Thank goodness the weather was nice today so she could play on it while we finished it up (even though she had to go hide every time we used the drill).

“Come slide with me, Mommy,” she said. The set has a 100-pound limit.

“Oh, Mommy’s too big,” I said. And then I felt sad. As an only child during this pandemic, Amelia really only has me and her dad to play with. And now she has this super cool new toy, and she can’t play with either of us on it.

When this all started, I was filling out one of those surveys on Facebook, and one of the questions was “Is there any chance you’ll have a covid baby in nine months?” And I answered “N-O spells NO.” Chris and I still talk about the possibility of having another child, but the conclusion is always the same: we’re good with one.

I know this pandemic is kind of an anomaly. And I know it won’t last forever. Someday soon, Amelia will go back to school and make friends and her cousins will come visit and we’ll go visit them, and she’ll have plenty of people to play on that set with.

But in the meantime, I just wish she had someone her own age to play with.

Amanda Gibson summed it up quite eloquently in her piece on Motherwell. I feel you, Amanda. I feel you.

May 18

I started a trial of Noom today, that vague weight-loss ad that everyone is seeing in their social media newsfeeds. I was already developing pretty unhealthy habits before this all struck, and then those habits became even more unhealthy since sheltering in place: baking, processed foods, takeout. I’ve gained around 10 pounds in two months. It’s not pretty.

I kept making the excuse that these are hard times, that everyone is overeating right now. When the world is in chaos and life shovels on an extra dose of difficult, like everyone else, I find it’s easier to be happier when I’m eating whatever I want. That’s what I loved most about being pregnant. I ate whatever, and it felt so liberating. I didn’t have to beat myself up about every single thing that went in my mouth. 

But I’m not pregnant, and this weight won’t magically go away like it did with childbirth and then again with cancer. It’s looking more and more likely that work will be starting up in two weeks, and it’s easy to pack on the pounds when no one is looking at me, but soon people will be looking at me, and what do I want them to see?

It’s not just that, though. I can feel how unhealthy I’ve become. I’ve been going to bed with an upset stomach that keeps me from falling asleep and then wakes me up in the middle of night. I haven’t been drinking enough water, so my digestion is a mess. I’m crabby. It’s almost as if I’m making this pandemic harder on myself. At this point, it seems like it would actually be EASIER to diet.

So that’s what I’m gonna try.

May 20

So far so good on losing weight and being healthier. I already feel a lot better. But there’s a new downfall that I hadn’t factored in. Since what I eat has become so important, I’m the one responsible for planning and cooking meals. Which I normally am anyhow, but on nights when I didn’t feel like it or nights when I have too much to do, I can delegate to Chris or to takeout. Where I usually had over an hour to work when Chris was done for his day, I’ve lost that time to exercise and cooking. I know those things are just as important as writing and getting my library work done, that I need all those things to be healthy and secure. But it’s becoming more clear how I gained all that weight in the first place. Exercise or write? Cook or work?

May 21

After a staff Zoom meeting, it’s sounding more and more likely that we’ll be heading back to the library June 1. We’ll stay closed to the public, but will offer curbside pickup and allow items to be returned (even though they’ll have to be quarantined for a WEEK). The governor is starting to relax restrictions (although it seems against her will), so I doubt the stay at home order will be extended–she would have done it by now.

It just seems that so many places are relaxing restrictions when the threat is still strong out there. My mother-in-law is a little worried about restarting her babysitting duties, and I don’t blame her. Although it’s not likely the virus travels between people on items like paper, so our risk handling library materials is low, I’ll still be more exposed than I have in the last two months by just being around other people and interacting with other people’s things. They keep assuring us that staff will be as safe as they could be, but that’s not a very promising promise.

And yet the idea of being able to be around coworkers and family again is exciting. As soon as I heard that the governor is “allowing” groups of less than ten to gather, I wanted to call my brother and ask when we can come visit. But I didn’t because I know this is far from over and we all need to take our time.

May 22

This morning, the city put on a “parade” of sorts–their municipal trucks drove through all the neighborhoods honking their horns. It was a nice idea. We opened the door up and waved to the drivers. And then they honked their horns, and Amelia hid her head in my shoulder and told me to shut the door. She is so sensitive to noise.

It’s funny how people are connecting in a time when everyone is hiding in their house. At Easter, our neighbors put pictures of decorated eggs in their window for a neighborhood “egg hunt.” Strange that I feel closer to my neighbors than ever before because I see them walking their dogs and working in their yards, and they smile and wave. We’ve become the talk of the neighborhood since finishing the play set. People keep stopping by and commenting on it.

I keep thinking this virus is going to make everyone afraid of each other, but it seems to have had the opposite effect.

Coronavirus Diaries: Week Eleven

May 9

Chris called Costco earlier in the week to ask when they would be getting more play sets, because play sets are like gold bars now. There’s only so many, and it’s hard to get your hands on one. The person said to check back on Monday, but Chris didn’t trust them for some reason, so this morning, he went to Costco at open, saw another dad with a play set on his cart, asked where he got it, and managed to claim one of the five play sets they had in stock. He had to rent a UHaul to bring to home.

This thing is four big heavy boxes and a double slide just wrapped in plastic. Once built, it will be three stories tall and have three swings and three slides. It’s ridiculous: a child’s dream come true.

We opened up the boxes to get a feel for how difficult it will be to assemble, and I immediately felt overwhelmed. It looks like so much work. The box says it takes between 8 and 20 hours for an average Joe to assemble.

As I look at all the parts sprawled in the side yard, I can’t help but wonder if this is really necessary. We have two decent sized city playgrounds within walking distance from our house. But it might take all summer for those the be safe to play at again.

Still, it seems a little wasteful to build this huge wonderland for our single daughter. After this is all over, she’s seriously gonna need to make some friends to share it with.

May 10

Ever since I moved away for college, I’ve been telling myself how unimportant holidays are. Not the celebrations themselves, but the days they fall on. Because it isn’t always easy to schedule birthday dinners when I live three hours away from the birthday boy or girl, and it isn’t possible to celebrate traditional Christmas Eve simultaneously with two families on opposite sides of the state, and because my mom’s birthday is just before Christmas and my mother-in-law’s birthday is sometimes on Mother’s day, and then Chris is a father now, so we want to do what he wants on Father’s day instead of what his father wants or my father wants. Holidays don’t have to be only one specific day. When they are, we can’t do everything, and we can’t please everyone.

So for a long time now, I haven’t worried too much about what day we do what. It doesn’t matter to me if we do a birthday the weekend before or after, or if we smush two birthday celebrations together. It doesn’t matter if we do Thanksgiving on the following Friday or Saturday or Sunday, so long as there’s turkey and pie whenever we do it.

And as for Mother’s Day, well, I learned my first year as a mother that Mother’s Day is never going to be as relaxing or luxurious as commercials make it out to be, so even though Chris kept calling it my “special day,” it was like, whatever, it’s just Sunday. Give me some pancakes and a little alone time and a lot of hugs and a card and then a nice dinner and some good booze, and I’m set.

So Mother’s Day in the time of Covid really wasn’t all that different for me. Amelia did let me sleep until almost 8am, and I got to go for a bike ride and read a little without disruption. Amelia had one meltdown, and the place we got take out from forgot to throw in my key lime pie, so it was pretty good, but it wasn’t perfect, but what Mother’s Day is?

May 11

I still have routine oncologist checkups after my brush with ovarian cancer three years ago, but my April appointment was pushed back to May, and I expected them to push it back again, but they didn’t. They just said not to bring guests and to wear a face covering.

The future of face coverings has been on my mind a lot, mostly because our planned trip to Disney in September still seems to be a go, with the caveat that we’ll likely have to wear masks in the parks. In Florida. In the heat. And I hate that idea. I get hot wearing my mask for 20 minutes while I grocery shop. I don’t know how people with glasses are making it work with the constant fogging.

Besides being uncomfortable, there’s just a general weird feeling about wearing masks. Even though it’s not the least bit dramatic–it’s actually a very simple solution to staying healthy–my mind can’t help interpret it as dramatic, as though the air isn’t safe enough to breathe (and in some ways, I suppose, it’s not). And if the air isn’t safe enough to breathe, then we must be living in some post-apocalyptic, frightening, hopeless world.

When I went to my oncology appointment, though, that wasn’t the case at all. I was greeted at the door by a woman with a thermometer, and she seemed almost apologetic that she had to inconvenience me with taking my temperature. The receptionist was all business as usual, even though she, too, sported a face covering and I found myself standing further back from the counter than I normally would. My nurse was joking about her computer freezing. My oncologist and I were swapping stories about how hard it is to eat healthy during Covid. It was all so normal, I forgot I was wearing a mask, and I never actually felt hot.

I expected human conversation with face masks on to be short, abrupt, to the point. I definitely didn’t expect kindness or joke-telling or general everyday banter. Granted, this was a doctor’s office, and they thrive on good customer service, but it didn’t feel like they were going out of their way to be nice. It felt like they were just being their nice normal selves.

I guess just because the mouth is covered doesn’t mean the world is ending.

May 12


K: If you could have anything in the world for lunch today, what would you have?

J: Haha. Uh…not sure. What are you gonna have?

K: Probably avocado toast. Okay, time to walk the dogs. Conclude random awkward Tuesday texts! (Swirls cape mysteriously over face, leaps from building like Batman or something)

J: GIF of Blake Shelton saying “WHAT JUST HAPPENED?”


K: Jenny. Jenny. Are you ready? Get ready.

J: Haha What????????

K: Your sandwich is out for delivery.

J: Aw you are so sweet! I can’t wait for my surprise!

K: Oh, man, this is exciting. I can watch William driving in real time. He’s heading south! Go, William, Go!

J: GIF of a woman shouting excitedly

K: He’s hesitating at 44th St. TURN LEFT WILLIAM! GO EAST!

K: Ope, he did. Now south on Eastern.

J: GIF of Ross Geller slow-clapping

K: He’s approaching 52nd! JENNY. GET READY.


J: Um, I think he gave me the wrong order.

K: ?

J: Image of food. Look at all this food! Not just a sandwich!

K: Oh, that’s correct!


K: GIF of Brittany from Glee snapping her fingers with the caption DEAL WITH IT.

J: I love you. You’re the best.

The rather funny thing is I was just thinking about how people are doing parades for people’s birthdays or graduations or dropping surprises on porches for neighbors and how I didn’t think that was something that would happen to us or we’d participate in. We really don’t have many close connections here. I’ve always been a bit introverted, kind of a loner, and I don’t mind not having a community, at least until I find myself in a community and realize how nice it can be. So most of the time I’m not sad about not having many people to connect to. But sometimes I get a little sad about it.

And then my best friend goes and orders me a surprise lunch with enough food to feed my whole family for three meals. Not only that, but my daughter keeps getting packages in the mail from her grandparents, and my neighbor actually has dropped off a plate of cookies on our porch once. So maybe I do have more community than I thought I did.

May 14

Things I haven’t done since Covid (besides the obvious) that I normally do:

I have not watched the news

I have not moved my purse from its hanger

I have not plucked my eyebrows (looking pretty scary about now)

I have not gotten coffee from anywhere but my kitchen

I have not put gas in either of my cars

I have not touched my makeup or jewelry

Thing I have done since Covid that I normally don’t do:

I have been painting my nails, and in weird colors, too: yellow, then orange, and now rainbow colors. It strangely makes me happy for some unknown reason. I wonder if I’ll keep doing it post-pandemic.