Quarantine succeses: Finished my sweater. Started a knit hat. 3rd crocheted missions hat for the elementary schools that our church sponsors. Re-established my relationship with my swift (winding my yarn into balls)
As I plod through my own microcosm of survival during the COVID crisis, I found that my attempts to internally process it all were falling short. Daily experiences of “the new normal” have been driving over my hyper-sympathetic nature like a tsunami. But I have a family that continues to grow, and relationships begging to be maintained. Life has not frozen in place; the gears of human existence have simply shifted to another stage of what living looks like. So, now I am attempting to ride atop this tidal wave of change and emotions by compiling what I see and hear and feel, and what I am learning about myself and others along the way.
Cheering for my son as he took his first unsteady laps of our street without training wheels, and the affirmation that life does, indeed, go on.
The joy and gratitude from watching the cars file into our church’s food pantry donation “drive-by”, as our congregation had risen to meet this need.
The survivor guilt I feel each morning knowing that, despite the risks involved, twelve miles down the road I will find a job waiting for me that provides social interaction and a paycheck.
Attempting some normalcy for our scared, homebound pregnant coworkers, by having a virtual baby shower complete with Amazon drop-off of their gifts.
The sense of helplessness in knowing the best way I can help my parents and in-laws is to stay away from them, despite the sadness that is evident during phone calls, Facetime and the occasional social distancing visits in the yard.
The virtual appointments with my patients, who display an array of confidence versus intimidation at the technology, and most of whom are just grateful to have a friendly face to see and lean on for a few minutes.
Wondering how history will judge us and our response to this period of suffering, compared to the previous generations who had to face the Great Plague and the 1918 Flu, all while living in a much less advanced world.
Watching my children dream together during their weekend “sleepover”, and the overwhelming love and serenity I feel in witnessing such an innocent moment in their lives.
Pouting and whining to myself as I watch one inch of gray roots turn into two, while psyching myself up to have my family do my dye job, and repenting for my vanity at the consequences of being over 40.
Driveway chalk hopscotch that transformed into a Dora the Explorer-meets-American Ninja Warrior obstacle course.
Witnessing the growing bond between my children, as they homeschool together and become each other’s primary playmates, despite the six years separating them.
The great respect and gratitude I have for my husband, as he struggles daily through managing the kids while he continues a full-time job that was never meant to be virtual.
The amazing maturity developing in my daughter, as she becomes the primary homeschooling teacher for her younger brother.
The heartbreak over my son’s ongoing disappointment that he cannot rejoin his friends at school.
Hubby breaking up a homeschooling argument between the kids over whether or not “How I will become Batman” is an acceptable essay on future career goals.
The joy of watching my friends appear in a Brady Bunch-style grid, as I overcame my tech phobia and embraced my first steps into Zoom.
Listening to my extended family sing Happy 1st Birthday to my niece as we gathered to celebrate from inside 6 different homes.
Pinning my sewing project on Facetime while gossiping with my mother, since we couldn’t have our girls’ sewing night in person.
Packing my freezer like a jigsaw puzzle to fit the one-pack-per-family chicken breasts during the meat shortages.
Checking and rechecking every store I enter, hoping that the elusive TP and paper towels will appear, and instead finding what seems like a quarter mile of empty shelving (did they really carry that many paper products before?)
Standing in 45 degree rain for over half an hour, waiting to get my official almost-first-in-line toilet paper from Sam’s Club.
Walking away from the one-at-a-time line at Joann Fabrics, after no one went into that store in 15 minutes (who ever spent only 15 minutes shopping in Joann’s?)
The suspicious looks given to people either wearing masks or not wearing masks, depending on where you go.
The painful bewilderment of going to the store and wondering how many of us in the building could be Typhoid Marys.
The act of love and friendship involved in handing someone a handmade sewn face mask.
The mostly universal “we’re in this together” attitude of kindness that I find in most of the places I must venture.
The “Roosevelt Fireside Chat style” daily press conferences by Governor Cuomo on YouTube, which have become my news lifeline and the calming, reasonable voice I look forward to daily.
The protective, possessive act of supporting favorite local restaurants by ordering takeout, just because you can.
Watching the adolescent diva’s bedroom turn from day-glow hot pink to dark moody teal, as if with the paint strokes, the last vestiges of girlhood were falling away in favor of the young woman that has emerged.
The happiness in my families’ voices when they greet me as I walk in the door after work every day.
Standing out in the spring sun, thanking God that spring still comes to cheer the planet, despite the apprehension and loneliness we are all experiencing.
So, I was going for evaluation at a pain management office for a “degenerative disc”. Because of the opioid crisis, they screen everyone for signs of drug dependency. (This is not my issue, I’ve still got stuff left from my 2017 surgery). I had a hard time behaving myself while completing their screening questionnaire, however, which is meant to be straight-up serious. Here are the highlights. (No disrespect is intended to any who have struggled with addiction or mental health issues….):
1) HOW OFTEN DO YOU HAVE MOOD SWINGS? So, do you mean per week or per day?
3) HOW OFTEN HAVE YOU FELT IMPATIENT WITH YOUR DOCTORS? Need to discuss, I’m an RN…..
4) HOW OFTEN HAVE YOU FELT THAT THINGS ARE JUST TOO OVERWHELMING THAT YOU CAN’T HANDLE THEM? Um, I have a full-time job and an adolescent….
5) HOW OFTEN IS THERE TENSION IN THE HOME? Um, I have a husband and an adolescent….
8) HOW OFTEN DO YOU FEEL BORED? What does the word bored mean?
12) HOW OFTEN HAVE YOU FELT A CRAVING FOR MEDICATION? Whenever I have to take my kids into Kroger with me.
14) HOW OFTEN HAVE OTHERS TOLD YOU THAT YOU HAD A BAD TEMPER? Do I have to answer that question to receive care?
*PSA: Fortunately, I was filling out my form in pencil, because my husband made me erase all my answers.☹️☹️😬
I should probably explain a few things about myself. I am a consummate day dreamer, bizarrely coexisting with OCD. I can have five chores spinning at once, only to nearly walk outside in my underwear because I forgot to finish getting dressed. I am an avid reader and a movie buff, with tastes ranging from Agatha Christie to Anne of Green Gables, from fantasy and space sagas to torrid romances, from Twelve Years a Slave to Christian spiritual thrillers. I have become consumed with Middle Eastern Dance….I love the movement and the music, my hip scarves and zills, but am still building my courage to move from classroom to public performance. And then I have this thing about Yarn.
I knit and crochet. To those who share my yarn lust, this little sentence is synonymous with a password into a hidden international community. Yarn is not only about craft, but denotes a lifestyle of art, of history, of zen-like absorption, of sister(and brother)hood. Others like me will understand when I say that I do not leave the house without yarn. I always have some small project in case I have 10 minutes free, or need the associated serotonin-release that can be as effective as a drug, and is scientifically proven to calm the head, the heart and even pain.
This life means aggravation from a dropped stitch or an error found inches below your active work, or a knot in your yarn that will take hours to unravel. But it also includes the thrill of a project that becomes like a child you watch grow, the deep satisfaction of seeing someone you love wearing your work, and handing over a bag full of hats or blankets for the needy. The obsession affects old-country great-grandmas, twenty-something homemakers, high-powered executives, and new-age hippies alike. It brings us all together through an understanding that connects us as soon as we make eye contact on a bus or sitting in the park, our kindred-spirit connections usually starting with, “What are you making? Can I feel your yarn?”
Forget clowns in a car, I think my closet is the Tardis! So our plumbing decided to go all Poltergeist on us with a leak in the wall. I got to play “How fast can you turn off the water to the house and clear the way to the attic manhole in your closet?”. Ten minutes later, this was the result, spewed into my not-huge bedroom. Hopefully there’s another dimension of intergalactic space attached to the closet, or else I have no human hope of getting it all back in there, God hasn’t created that big of a shoe horn! Of course, I could use my previous method of “open door, toss something in, shut door before feeling accountable”, but that usually takes months to complete and I can’t reach my yoga pants drawer right now.
Your tongue should not be touching your brother’s face.
Why are there dry erase markers in the bathroom, you ask? You don’t want to know.
Hubby, you’ve mixed up my underwear and our daughter’s.
We are not using Satan as a character in stories, ok?
I am not interested in discussing your butt.
Oh cool! Fireball whiskey is only 100 calories!
So about my bangs….I have fine, flyaway hair. It looks a mess twenty minutes after styling. I used to spend half an hour fighting to conquer it every morning, only to look in the mirror later and decide I should have just stayed in bed longer. My waves turn into frizz if it rains or if I even pick up a brush, despite putting two “smoothing products” in my hair each morning. I can almost hear those expensive little bottles mocking me from across the city.
Added to the fine frizz is my high, uneven forehead. During one of the few times when I opted to grow my bangs out, a ten-year-old asked me if I was going bald! Her grandmother defended my honor, stating that a high forehead is a sign of beauty. Yeah, in ancient China maybe.
My plight shifts from annoying to ridiculous as I attempt to hide my unruly hairline under this unruly frizz. Not only do my bangs not stay how I style them, they do not stay where I style them. A pair of cowlicks launch themselves over my temples, with the right-side arching into a cockeyed swirl that lands pointing inward and forward over my eyebrow. These cowlicks respond only temporarily to being redirected. And Heaven forbid I go out into the slightest breeze! I try not to hate on those lucky mortals whose hair drops right back into place. If someone even whistles in my direction, my bangs flip to a place where even a bad toupee would not go.
I have learned that timing is key for my styling solutions. If I pick up the hairdryer when my bangs are too-wet or too-dry, I risk straightening them to limpness, inviting the temptation to re-curl and land back where I started. I typically get puzzled looks when I tell stylists that my hair looks different every day; that is, until they find they cannot get my bangs to do anything civilized either.
And so I obsess about my bangs. I fixate. I keep a mirror at work, and may have a reputation as the vainest lady in the place. No, I’m just paranoid that I may be replaying some version of a bad school picture day. I keep hoping my forehead will shrink or my cowlicks will soften, but to no avail. I know my fate. I understand this is a First World problem. Still, on especially bad hair days I feel justified in wanting to call out sick from work on the grounds of emotional distress. I will try not to bring up my bangs too often during the course of our acquaintance, but if you catch me looking in the mirror one too many times, please be understanding. I’m trying not be medicated over something as silly as hair.
First 5 minutes with my kids this afternoon: “Diva, would you want someone to grab your head repeatedly? No? Then stop. Little Prince, you’re not allowed to hit you sister.”
I did not expect the happiness I would feel over a sun visor! For whatever reason, my 2006 vehicle needed a SECOND driver’s side sun visor replaced. It was once again developing a single position choice, which was straight down and hitting you in the face. Not so great for visibility. During Round One of this problem, the body shop charged me $400 (yikes), claiming “cost of labor”.
So this time, hubby said he would fix it himself. He tapped around on his phone and told me the part would arrive soon. A little while ago he sauntered into the house and announced that he had successfully replaced the visor for $40! Awesome sauce! Then he proceeded to give me a cheesy grin and discuss how I could repay my debt to him….(Insert eye roll here.) And I thought the body shop had been the weasel!