A March to Remember

A March to remember.  What a strange month. On March 7th Governor Cuomo issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency here in New York due to the coronavirus. That same day was our last foray out – I wrote about our trip to Dia here. That was our last dinner at a restaurant. It was an excellent dinner, a nice memory, with friends, in person! Three weeks ago. It feels like a lifetime.

I have to admit I find myself struggling. But I am fighting it. Here are some things I find helpful:

  • Putting on music while I do chores. Somehow, I was not in the habit of doing that. It is motivating and I am rediscovering artists I haven’t listened to in a while. I have a new appreciation for Paul Simon’s American Tune. Give it a listen, it is quite timely.
  • Skipping articles that detail the horrors faced by medical staff in New York City hospitals. I see the headlines and my stomach knots. I don’t need to read more.
  • Making a plan for the day so that I know what tasks I will accomplish. I don’t always accomplish them, but just making the list helps my spirits.
  • Setting aside time to get outside – even if the weather is bad. Fresh air helps. I walked in the drizzle on Saturday and Sunday; I didn’t mind it at all.
  • Looking at photographs of my granddaughter – guaranteed to make me smile. Sometimes I text my son and daughter-in-law to request a new one. They have been great about accommodating me. Photographs of my granddaughter probably won’t do it for you, but something will – your child or pet or beautiful scenery.
  • Reaching out via text or phone to folks. This is harder for me than it should be. It always has been, I didn’t realize how well practiced I am at social distancing until now. I am working at doing more reaching out. I always feel better after I do it, but I have to psyche myself to take the first step. This does not apply to my immediate family – I would reach out to my kids hourly if that was acceptable.

Which brings me to something that I’ve been thinking about. It has been three weeks of this version of social distancing, which is far more extreme than my usual practice. Under normal circumstances it isn’t uncommon for me to go three weeks without seeing my children in person. My daughter lives in Somerville, MA; my son in Norwalk, CT. But knowing I can’t hop in the car to see them, and not knowing when I will be able to, changes things. I feel frustrated. We have been using FaceTime, but it isn’t the same. I want to be in the same room. I want to hug them. Maybe it is like forbidden fruit – when you know you can’t have something (someone), you want it more. I know our reunion will be especially sweet and that thought sustains me – sometimes. Sometimes I’m just angry and feel deprived.

Back to helpful things:

  • Switching up meals or trying to be a bit creative about them. On Friday evening, Gary made a fire in our chiminea in the backyard and we ate our dinner next to it. It was a beautiful night, cool, with a bit of a breeze; perfect for sitting next to the warmth of the fire. We watched the sparks leap up against the night sky and eventually the stars came out. Our use of the chiminea has been limited to when we entertain in the summer. Seems silly not to make use of it now.
  • Playing ping pong (insert any other game you have forsaken, i.e. backgammon? chess?). We have a ping pong table in our basement. I don’t remember the last time we used it – stuff was piled on it, as was a thick layer of dust. Gary and I have a history with ping pong. When we were in college, at the beginning of our courtship, we would go to the library tower to study. After maybe an hour we would take a break and head to the student union. We’d play ping pong and get a snack. We spent far more time chatting, playing ping pong and snacking than studying. Fast forward forty years. We found the paddles and a ball in our basement and dusted off the table. Gary thoroughly schooled me, which wasn’t surprising, but we had fun. We played about six games. I got less rusty as we played. Maybe by the end of this ordeal, I’ll give him a run for his money.
  • Watching Governor Cuomo’s daily press conference. Though the information may be grim, it is presented in a straightforward way and he reminds us of all the steps being taken to fight the pandemic. And, who knew he could be so empathetic? He shares his humanity. It’s interesting how this is a case where a person has stepped up to meet the challenge. I was not a fan of his strong-arm political tactics or his personality, but I think his strengths are particularly useful (decisiveness, attention to detail, organized, no nonsense) in this context. And, either he was more compassionate than I understood, or he has matured into that role. Either way, I am grateful. His policies are also shaped by the right values – people come first.
  • Avoid all coverage of the president – this is essential for my mental health.

There you have it. Ten helpful things – for me, anyway. Maybe some will work for you. I would love to hear yours! As this drags on, the more ideas the better; the more tools to call upon to get through this uncertain time.

One final thought: In re-reading this, I realize that I am quite lucky to still like my husband! Thank you, Gary!

9 thoughts on “A March to Remember

  1. Helpful blog. You did have a typo or editing problem. It seems you wrote looking at pictures of your granddaughter might NOT cheer up the reader of the blog. Clearly you did not mean to say that. Ask Gary or Leah they will confirm.

    I would also emphasize what you said; with texting/face time this is a technologically good time for many of us to be quarantined. Remember 40-50 years the exorbitant cost of making a long distance call?

    Finally, avoiding what the president is good advice, pre pandemic; during pandemic and post pandemic.

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  2. Yeah, some month March has been!

    Aside from what you have written I have two other things one may consider to keep you busy and sane during these trying times.

    1. A friend a couple of blocks away texted me saying he put a box filled with books outside his front door and invited me over to take what I wanted. I walked over there and took six books of varying genres. I’ve already finished one of them. Sharing books in this way gets you out of the house and stays within social distancing recommendations. If you got local friends and they enjoy reading something to consider.

    2. This one can be fun. I call it “What’s in the House Soup”. I put a beef or chicken stock base in a pot. Add what veggies I may have that may be getting old such as celery, zucchini, carrots, spinach, etc. Then if I have any deli left I’ll add that for protein. Since I have numerous Penzeys spices I kick up the soup with various combinations. For example I will sprinkle in Indian spices such as Turmeric Root, Garam Masala and Curry. Or if I want a Mexican flavor I go with Chili Pepper, Fajita seasoning, and Cumin. Other times I just mix and match and experiment. Sometimes the soup comes out very good, other times not so much. But it passes the time and I wind having a healthy meal no matter what,

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  3. What a great blog. I’m envious of your cookout plus playing ping pong and your writings. ITmakes my day happier as well as the face times with all my kids and grands. This will end and hopefully we will all have learned more things about our selves. Also, love that Steven is still cooking.

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  4. Thank you Linda ! You write what’s in my soul. I’m in Florida waiting for my mom to be released from Hospice House back to home to die here. I am sleeping on the couch and dealing with my stepfather’s quicksand grief. I feel like I don’t live anywhere, mentally, physically or spiritually. Your words anchor me. 😘

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    1. I can’t imagine dealing with that in the midst of this pandemic. I’m so sorry to hear that. I am happy if my words offer some comfort. Please don’t forget to take care of yourself.

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  5. Your piece could not be more timely, Linda. I also feel like the last normal weekend was March 7 and 8. That Saturday was my goddaughter’s baby shower. Although we text on occasion, after the baby is born, I’m fairly certain I won’t be able to visit, and certainly not hold her newborn baby boy.
    That Sunday, Paul was able to stop by for lunch on his way out of town from a friend’s birthday celebration. Jake was here as well. Ira and I had the rare pleasure of going out for lunch with our two oldest sons, without any inking life as we knew it was about to change indefinitely. Then in quick succession things began to happen: Zach came home knowing he would finish his semester online and in a likelihood not be able to walk at Graduation.
    We made the sad decision to say goodbye to our precious Arby.
    Now to how we’re coping. Zach is fortunately a homebody, who feels completely engaged gaming online with his buds from home. Ira is now working full time from home, but I try to get him out of the house from time to time. Alexa provides him a very varied musical selection. We get NetFlix movies. He is much more adventurous about watching series TV on channels I don’t even know how to access.
    I am more fortunate in that I am out everyday, seeing my 89 yo client who is very anxious and fearful of what the future holds. My goal every visit (besides personal care, lunch, laundry, etc) is to remind her of a happy memory and what a wonderful gift it is to be able to be in her own home, with her family dropping in with meals and everything else she could possibly need. We sit on her front porch on sunny days and just enjoy the perfection of early spring.
    Then I listen to my CDs on the way home: Enya, Norah Jones, Hamilton and the Backstreet Boys!
    Working on house projects. Cooking a lot more than normal. Calling my cousins and out of state friends rather than texting. Trying not to go on rants about DT (not always successful!) All of us playing board games on Google Hangouts. Rereading some old classics. Not sure what the future holds, but for sure we’ll all get through this stronger than before.

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  6. Thank you Linda for the helpful, constructive, positive ideas for dealing with corona solitude. And the additional suggestions from the comments are also quite helpful.
    To those I will add digging. Seriously, take a shovel, get into your yard, and do something. If you prefer, use a rake or whatever other tool you find. It’s physical and distracting.
    Hoping we all get through this well and sane.

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