I remember being fascinated when I learned that my parents grew up under a dictatorship, but for them, it was just their life. It was normal. Someday, my kids are going to ask me about things they’ll consider history. I think about that a lot.
Things I expect them to ask me about: 9/11 (Mom & Dad were in high school, it was very weird), the first black president (he was good but could have been so much better), how Mom & Dad met (there was this app called Tinder and Mom only needed one date before she was done with it), and, well, the clusterfuck we’ve been living under for almost four years now.
While the next few weeks are going to be anything but normal, I decided to keep notes on how we spend our days just as much for myself as any future Gold Nuggets that come along. Sometimes they’ll be short. Sometimes they’ll be long. I can already tell you that my verb tenses are all over the place, but I won’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good enough.
No one asks to live through strange times. It just happens. You live your life. It becomes your new normal. I’m just trying to document how that happens.
Day 0: March 16, 2020
After our first weekend of proper social distancing (Can you believe I went on a day trip to Sonoma County earlier this month? Because I can’t.) I was both excited and anxious to go to work on Monday morning. Excited to be out of the house, but anxious because I work for two people in their 70s who should probably be home.
Everyone was keeping their six feet of distance, mostly but staying in our individual rooms, when I stumbled across the story from the San Francisco Chronicle that most of the Bay Area counties would be announcing a shelter in place order that afternoon. In spite of being in separate spaces, I definitely said, “Holy shit!” loud enough for the whole office to hear.
Now, I’m not saying I set off a panic at work by doing that. But it did galvanize everyone into getting ready for
In my case, that meant making a dash to Safeway because we weren’t quite prepared to be stuck at home for a few days. Jim had made a Costco order that was arrive until Wednesday, so I wanted to grab a few things before the stores got crazy.
Watching the county press conference on Facebook while waiting in line at a depleted Safeway was surreal.
I got home, threw my clothes in the laundry, showered, and then plopped on the couch for a nap once the stress adrenaline left my system and left me an anxious husk.
Day 1: March 17, 2020
I woke up relieved that I didn’t need to leave the house and excited to start a new routine after living under a miasma of uncertainty for the past few days. Knowing that we have to stay at home instead of wondering what’s going to happen is strangely comforting.
I took a bath, secured our coffee supply chain (Jim and I only recently moved and have been drinking coffee at work), and took out the trash and recycling. While I normally hate that chore, I was glad to be outside and get some sunshine before the rain came in.
Then, I headed into the living room to start the day. My main tasks were updating my work’s website and social media accounts with updates on how sheltering in place would be changing (but not stopping) how we’re working with clients.
During work time, Jim and I did was we often do at work separately: we streamed the San Jose City Council meeting. (Jimmy’s a bureaucrat and and I was a local journalist. In this household, we are very invested in the running of our local government.) That feeling of surreality I felt in the line at Safeway again when I saw the council not in the chambers, but in a strange room that kept them six feet apart. Some members had to call in rather than be there in person.
Our councilwoman made a comment about, I kid thee not, “roving bands of teens” in Willow Glen that made us laugh in spite of the seriousness of the situation, but otherwise, things were pretty somber. Then we got a phone call from what sounded like PG&E: our bill was unpaid and they were going to shut off our power.
We had a brief panic because we just moved and worried that things didn’t transfer to the new place. Not only was it a scam, but my parents’ councilwoman brought it up right after Jim got off the phone. Uncanny timing, but I’m relieved that someone is already looking out for these sorts of scams.
So yeah, I guess you could say I’m glad Sylvia Arenas won her race earlier this month. (Remember when we had a primary earlier this month in California? That feels like years ago now.)
As Jim’s work day wrapped up, I started making dinner. And by making dinner, I mean I tossed a frozen lasagna into the over so it would be ready by the time Jim was done with work.
Over dinner, we had a brief chat about the wedding. It’s still way too early to make any decisions about cancelling anything, but we did agree to one thing: one way or another, we are getting married on October 3rd. If we have to have a reception a year later, if we have to get married in my parents’ backyard, whatever. We’ll figure out the details later.
With that off of our minds, we watched Claire make Girl Scout Cookies and went to bed.
Day 2: March 18, 2020
Waking up this morning, the novelty of staying home instead of heading into the office had already worn off. Jim was in meetings all morning, so I had to stay quiet. I did that by doing more of what I started on Tuesday: using a bullet journal.
I’d been thinking of getting a bujo for a while now, but I didn’t get it because I knew I’d be stuck at home. I ordered it earlier in the month and it arrived just in time for our lockdown. It’s been a lifesaver for me, a task-oriented achievement hunter who hoards pens and markers like some form of dragon.
I checked off some things and then accidentally fell down a Twitter black hole for an hour and a half, oops! I put the phone aside, made some lunch (a PB&J with the penultimate jar of plum and pluot jam I made) and then got to work on job applications. I’m still employed and will likely be for a the near future, but I’ve been trying advance in my career for a little while now and I have plenty of time to work on that now, I suppose.
I feel very overwhelmed by the time 3 pm rolls around. Nap time? Nap time.
Or not. my Dungeons and Dragons group got on Discord early. Between shooting the shit and actually playing, we spent five hours talking. And you know what? It was great. I’m a huge extrovert so I was craving socialization. Plus, our DM that night (two of them alternate) created such an immersive session that I completely forgot that we were all living through a slow burning apocalypse.
After I got off Discord, Jim called his Aunt Elaine for her birthday. Hearing her take on things from Anchorage, which feels remote and isolated to me compared to the millions of people who live around me in the Bay Area, fascinating. The chat was generally lovely, except for when she asked about the wedding. But we glossed over it and moved on.
Day 3: March 19, 2020
Honestly, getting out of bed today was hard. I’m starting to feel very unmoored by not having my routine of waking up, getting ready, going to work, etc etc. There’s really only so much I can do from home.
But my fiancé is the best because he gave me something concrete to do: go to the grocery store! It was also sunny for the first time since I took the recycling out on Tuesday morning, so stepping out into the sunshine immediately boosted my mood. I decided to drive downtown and get myself some coffee from Academic, as a treat.
The Alameda and Santa Clara Street were unsurprisingly but still disconcertingly empty… and yet I got stuck behind the slowest car on the road anyway. (Leave it to me to get road rage with no real traffic.) When I finally arrived, I parked on an absolutely dead William Street but stopped when I saw the sign on the door: no more than three customers inside at a time.
Since there were already three people inside, I was fine waiting by the side door and soaking up some much needed Vitamin D. The baristas were working slower than usual since there are now more safety considerations to take into account, so I didn’t mind. Frankly, I was happy that they were as busy as they could be right now.
What I did mind were the two people who walked in the other door without reading the sign and ordering while there were still three customers inside. But what I was I going to do, go full Super Karen Saiyan, rush inside, and chew them out? Nope, I am too passive aggressive so I glared at their backs through my door and waited until it dipped under three customers before I went inside.
It was the peak of first world problems, but I did set out to write a faithful account of this these ridiculous times. Hope you get a laugh out of this moment.
With coffee acquired, I drove over to the Zanotto’s in the Rose Garden. While we are mostly fine on food, it’s a lot of frozen, canned, and dry stuff. Zanotto’s has been great about updating what they have in stock each day on their Instagram, so I knew the Rose Garden location had what we needed: milk, eggs, fresh meat.
The parking lot was just under half full when I arrived and everyone inside was very politely maintaining social distancing. It was really easy to grab what we needed: lactose-free milk (they confirmed it was in stock when I asked on Instagram!), two cartons of eggs, some ground beef, a couple pounds of chicken thighs, and some veggies.
The best part of the morning’s excursion was interacting with people who I don’t live with. Small talk with the barista, being helped by the guy at the deli counter, chatting with the checkout clerk, and handing my totes over to the guy who bagged my groceries helped me feel more like a human. So far Jimmy’s holding up pretty well, but he’s an introvert. These past few days have confirmed my extrovert needs, so I’m happy to be the designated errand runner of the household if it means
Once I got home, I shared my first world problems story with Jimmy, we made lunch, and then it was time for an afternoon of working silently, punctuated only by the clicking of our keyboards.
Eventually jumped on the Discord for my D&D group just to have people’s voices.
Day 4: March 20, 2020
We were still missing some household staples post-move and Jim’s parents needed some things, so I ventured back out into the world again. As I headed out the door, my mental soundtrack started playing this on blast:
Today’s journey took me to Target… which had a disconcertingly full parking lot?
I went in with a game plan and I stuck with it while keeping my distance from people. Dish washing supplies for us (the new place doesn’t have a dishwasher, RIP), some medication for Jim’s parents, and a replenishment of our snack supply. I was a woman on a mission.
Oh, and there was an attempt to find toilet paper for us and tissue for his parents, but that went as well as you’d expect.
As I meticulously checked things off my list, I couldn’t help but find myself judging the shoppers who seemed to be browsing like it was a normal thing. One man was picking up candles and asking his girlfriend to have a sniff to see if she liked one or the other. It felt selfishly normal to act like things were fine that I resented them for a moment.
On the other hand, I thrilled to be out of the house and interacting with other humans, even from a distance. I even treated myself to some Starbucks on the way out, so who am I to judge someone for browsing the candle section? By the way: the golden ginger drink is hella good. A tall is a perfect size for an afternoon treat.
Days 5-6: 3/21-22
All I did was play Animal Crossing. It’s called self care.
Monday thoughts: Okay, this is real now. This is our routine.
I decided to do more for breakfast than just coffee and cereal. I was going to make eggy in a basket. Or at least, there was an attempt at eggy in a basket. My technique still needs work, but broken yolks are still perfectly edible!
After breakfast, I headed into the living room for work time. Among other things, that meant posting my bubble water bracket, which you should definitely fill out if you’re looking for a distraction these days.
To keep myself from escaping to my Animal Crossing island for hours at a time, I set out the day’s tasks in my bullet journal and only allowed myself to play in one hour intervals after I had checked off three boxes. It worked suprisingly well!
I missed a USQ TD team meeting because I took another stress nap. Wild to think that the last time I had one of those, I was thinking about postponing Best Coast Classic. US Quidditch Cup planning meetings were still happening.
I talked to my bridesmaid Caroline that night. She lives in Texas and their shelter in place order was only just announced. My first thought?
What do you mean, not everyone is living like this already?