Welcome to the pandemic. Life as we once knew it has changed for who knows how long. And can it ever go back to the way it was?
This is my new memoji (thanks, Apple), but I sit in front of an HP laptop. Can’t afford a Mac, and didn’t want the learning curve either. I also sit in front of my iPad for most meetings. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
On Thursday, March 19, I woke up with a slightly scratchy throat and a headache. I knew with 95% certainty that it was allergies, but out of undue caution and concern for my co-workers, I asked to work from home that day. And when it didn’t go away, I stayed home the next day as well. Under “normal” circumstances, it wouldn’t have occurred to me in a million years to stay home from work for that. I pride myself on my excellent attendance record for heaven’s sake! I had several years of perfect attendance when I worked for the Palm Beach County Library, and I think I only used one sick day in my job at Lynn University.
The following Monday, my university closed campus, and everyone was working from home. Welcome to the new normal.
Lots of changes were happening and happening quickly. Lynn University was in the unique position of having a somewhat smooth transition to online classes because we are an iPad school. Every student and faculty member gets an iPad Pro to use. So we didn’t have that hurdle to get over. And unlike most schools, we didn’t do Zoom classes, which in hindsight, was a truly brilliant decision as all the security issues are coming out now. Instead, we are using Amazon Chime for our online meetings and classes. It has worked pretty well so far.
Most of my days have shifted from what I usually did in my job as Information Desk Librarian, supervising my student workers and helping students with research and APA formatting. Now the library building is closed, but the librarians are still very much at work. Instead of helping students as they wander through my office, I, along with my colleagues, are chatting with them online and helping that way. Astonishingly, even though our hours of availability are fewer, our statistics are just about on par with the same month last year. Students are reaching out more than ever, and we are so happy to be able to help them get through this stressful period.
As for me, on my last day of working in the library building, I stopped off after work at the nail salon. I’ve been getting my nails done every two weeks since I went back to work when my 27-year-old daughter started kindergarten. This time, I had my nails cut down and did a gel manicure for the last time in who knows how long. My nail tech explained how to remove it when the time came, and I did that about a week or so ago. I haven’t felt my fingertips in such a long time, and I had to relearn how to type and chop things and all sorts of things I never really thought about. This is my pandemic:
The first picture was taken at my son’s wedding last summer. The dark nails in the middle was taken on my last day out in the world. The third picture I just took.
Let me reiterate in case that just went by you: I have not left my house since March 18, other than a walk around the neighborhood. My husband still has to go into work one or two days a week, but he is the only one there. At first, he was doing the grocery shopping, stopping at Costco (during senior hours!) or Publix (not during senior hours, we are too young!)
But as things grew worse, especially here in Palm Beach County, Florida, I didn’t want him going to the stores. He has several “underlying conditions,” as they say, and I was getting freaked out. On the other hand, he has this macho protector instinct and refused to allow me or my daughter to shop.
So we compromised, we are doing delivery for now, and learning how that works. Ordering several days to a week or more in advance of when I’ll actually need whatever it is. That has worked moderately well. I’m generally pretty organized with my shopping lists, but occasionally things do fall through the cracks, and we have to wait. Other items are completely sold out and cannot be ordered online or through Instacart, like disinfectant wipes, which we use daily on the mail and any packages that are delivered, so we are rationing as needed. We are making do with what we have.
We are watching a lot of TV. We recently started rewatching The Sopranos along with listening to the Talking Sopranos podcast, which has a video version available on YouTube. Steve Shirripa and Michael Imperioli are the hosts, and they are so much fun. I finally watched (all three seasons) of “AnnE with an E” on Netflix. It’s very loosely based on one of my favorite books, Anne of Green Gables. I enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere, based on a book of the same title, and I’m looking forward to watching “Mrs. America” on FX on Hulu. It’s about Phyllis Schlafley and the ERA, which, along with the Vietnam War, prompted my political awakening. It also has a stellar cast with Cate Blanchett, Uzo Aduba, Rose Byrne, Tracey Ullman, Margo Martindale, and more.
And of course, I’ve been reading, but surprisingly, not as much as I usually do. I’ve been worrying a lot about the people I love during this pandemic. A dear friend is going through chemo right now. My son and daughter-in-law live in Brooklyn. Friends are losing their jobs right and left. My husband has a furlough coming up. This all sucks, and it’s leaking into my brain when I try and escape it. Sometimes there just is no escape.
What else…I had to color my own hair (or risk going gray and really getting depressed!) I’ll give a shout out to Madison Reed, their color match online worked well, the color took and most importantly, covered the gray, and while I needed some help with the back (thanks, my darling daughter!) all in all, it was easy, and I got good results. They have this referral program, if you use my link, you get $15 off. Yes, it is more money than the drugstore brands, but also way less than what I was paying in the salon. It also doesn’t have those harsh chemicals that destroy hair. It was my choice, and I’m happy with it.
I’ve been cooking and baking up a storm. We have not done takeout at all since I’ve been home. I also jumped on the sourdough bandwagon. I have a healthy starter in my fridge now. The blue tape on the jar in the picture was where the starter was after feeding. It grew to the top of the jar in a few hours! I moved it to the fridge, and it’s shrunk down to about halfway up the jar. Today I’ll feed it again, the first time since I put it in the fridge. If it works well, I’ll move on to attempting my first sourdough bread! So far, I’ve made sourdough pretzels and sourdough biscuits with the discard. Stay tuned…
Hope you are all staying safe at home.