Coronatine, Day Sixty-one

I went to the grocery store today, and I don’t want to write about the nightmare I had last night where no one was wearing a mask.

Could you imagine, three months ago, having a nightmare about people not wearing masks in Target?

Actually, King Soopers was well-stocked today. Everyone I saw had a mask on. People at 8:30am obeyed the one-way aisle rules, and best of all? I stayed within my budget.

I made a budget for my post-work husband, starting at the beginning of May. $200 a week. It may sound extraordinarily excessive, but we’ve got six mouths to feed, and these are American prices, after all.

But I bought extras today. This bugleweed. A roll of packaging tape. And sushi because fuck Wednesday cooking.

And, my nightmares should end soon.

Because my post-work husband got a job, a non-union, non-seniority-screws-you job, doing exactly what he’s great at and wants to do forever, in the midst of a pandemic.

And.

And you can call it what you want. White privilege. True. Luck. Absolutely. Divine intervention. Maybe.

Or just… fate. The fate that led him through the Air Force to me, that led the boy to our doorstep, that led three beautiful daughters into our home, that led his previous experience to him becoming the best candidate out of all the others being laid off.

Coronatine, day sixty-one. It’s a beautiful image filled with pets, hope, and love.

And I want to hold on to this non-nightmare feeling for as long as I can.

And.

This cat was born to be a model. Good night.

Coronatine, Day Fifty-four (My Solitary View)

It’s true that I am this tree here, standing starkly against the plains landscape with the out-of-reach mountains in the background. Once so vibrant, unafraid, now resting half-dead and waiting for the insects to burrow themselves into its bark.

This tree, still a viable perch for anxious hawks searching for field mice. This lonely cottonwood, defiantly naked in the sun while its smaller counterparts are beginning to blossom with the warm rays of May.

This tree framed by perfectly puffy white clouds and that ever-blue Colorado sky and the yellow and green grasses reaching from its roots to its branches, never able to reach far enough.

This tree, waiting for the right moment to release itself to the Earth, to decompose amongst the ashes of its ancestors, to not stand so high, so solitary, so isolated from its surroundings.

And you may not see it for what it is or what it once was: A testimony to strength in a harsh environment. A root ball so tenacious it stretches beyond the creek that feeds it, far into the wetlands, searching for those snow-capped peaks, the very peaks that feed it with their snowmelt.

And you may not think it should still stand, rather that it should fall and become a nurse log for the surrounding saplings.

Instead, it cuts into the horizon, carving a definitive form made from a lifetime of gnarled limbs into the sky, ready to fight until the sky falls, or it falls.

Whichever comes first.

Coronatine, Day Forty-three

my perfect birthday,

in my mind, pre-corona,

would never be this

(there might be mountains,

a fondue restaurant, views

not in the background)

but with so much time

and simply nowhere to go

love works its way in

my middle’s painting,

a dress hand sewn by my mom,

hand-dipped strawberries

and saved till tonight

my oldest breaks, repairs me

with this card; her words

my perfect birthday

brought to me by a virus

with two gifts: Time. Love.

Coronatine, Day Thirty-six (10×10)

I’ve made it to the final day of gratitude! The ten last bits of gratitude for the Coronatine.

  1. Always love a bike ride. We wore the new masks my friend made, even though I’ll admit they weren’t wholly necessary because I planned a route that did not involve crowds (I have avoided the Cherry Creek path like the plague, pun intended).
  2. We stopped at a local cafe. Of course, it wasn’t the same. We couldn’t sit down, we couldn’t have a nice brunch, but we could still get some lattes and support a local business and tip the server with a 50% tip.
  3. While we were riding, we saw the Thunderbirds fly right over us on 12th Avenue!
  4. I spent a lot of time this morning reviewing our budget. I rarely do, and in fact don’t really deal with our money because Bruce is a money master. But I think it might be possible, if we are very careful, to live on my salary (which they’re already threatening might be frozen soon) and our savings for a year, so hopefully, that will give the economy enough time to recover and Bruce to be able to find work.
  5. Speaking of that salary, I am SO GRATEFUL that I just got a raise on March 1 because of my National Board Certification. What a difference that will make!
  6. I reorganized the garage, the hall closet, and the basement storage room to make more space for stocking up on supplies while we still have two paychecks. It really is nice to have time to do this without the craziness of working so many hours, especially since Bruce was going to be laid off anyway before the quarantine was put in place.
  7. I really do work at an amazing place with extremely dedicated teachers and students. Our school’s weekly news show has continued during this crazy time, and this week included an in-depth interview with an NFL player who graduated from South in 2004. He couldn’t stop talking about how influential his teachers were and how his experiences traveling to New York on a student trip and participating in the musical made high school so special. It’s so nice to hear that and to know how important schools are in the lives of students.
  8. My counselor colleague helped me (through a Facebook post) avoid paying the AP exam fees for the four AP exams for Izzy and Mythili! I really hope that this virus will help everyone realize what a scam standardized tests are. I’m so over the College Board and AP. It’s a bait and switch, most colleges won’t give you credit, and most students can’t get the score they need anyway. So I’m hopeful that all of these tests will become less important in the future.
  9. In cleaning out the garage, I found the tent stakes I’ve been meaning to put in the tent bag, and since a neighbor girl needed to earn a Girl Scout badge by setting up a tent and didn’t have her own, the tent was already out! I have been trying to get those stakes into that stake bag for three years, and it took coronavirus to make it happen!
  10. Let’s hope we can camp this summer, or at least go on hikes. Let’s just keep hoping that something is gonna give, soon. Testing, isolation, whatever it takes. Because we gotta make this work for our world. We just gotta.

Coronatine, Day Twenty-seven (10×1)

I’ve been bitching a lot (and crying a lot), so here goes: ten good things about quarantine for ten days straight.

No promises. But I will try.

  1. I actually love being alone. The older I get, the more introverted I feel. I have very few actual friends anyway (the blessing and curse of being overly opinionated), and see them infrequently, which is fine with me. So the social distancing aspect is not challenging for me at all.
  2. Dinner. Isn’t it every working mom’s nightmare to be running between work and children’s activities and trying to do laundry and trying to grade papers and trying to keep a clean house… and trying to come up with a dinner idea every night? Well, now that I’m home all the time, I can set out meat early in the day (see yesterday’s post, haha) and pull up recipes well before noon. I can easily fit in a meal plan without feeling pressured or rushed.
  3. My garden. You are about to be overloaded with images of flowers and vegetables. Raised beds. Compost piles. Green grass growing. Perfect pink crabapple and redbuds blooming. Weed-pulling. The two hundred plants that fill my yard and take hundreds of hours of work to truly care for… hundreds of hours that I now actually have at a time of the school year that is normally jam-packed with so many activities that I can barely breathe. Well, now I can breathe.
  4. My dog. Sleeps on my legs and keeps me up half the night, cuddles right up against wherever I’m sitting and takes naps throughout the day. Jumps into my lap for extra cuddles and when he fears I might be considering going back to work. Never says no to me when I want to take him on walk number eighty-six. Trots happily beside me, leash or no leash. Has no idea why none of us ever leave anymore, but couldn’t be happier. There is no purer love than a puppy’s love.
  5. Not having to pack a lunch. Just feeling hungry at whatever random time, combining various leftovers from the fridge and never having to lug the Tupperware, the lunch bag, the silverware, the cloth napkin back and forth and forth and back.
  6. The mute and no camera features during virtual meetings which occur 90% less frequently than the endlessly wasteful meetings I normally sit through. I just want my thoughts, not my face, on the screen. It’s quite magical to have that sense of privacy, to be able to listen without being watched to see what my reaction might be.
  7. Casual Friday every. Fucking. Day. I think my comfy clothes alone could make this time actually magical.
  8. Never having to deal with silencing and unsilencing my phone. So simple, so redeeming.
  9. Seeing my children blossom in different ways (when they’re not driving me crazy). Riona building up her YouTube Channel, taking on art challenges, endlessly chatting with friends on FaceTime, getting all her schoolwork done with zero nagging and her handy checklist when I can’t ever get her to do homework on a normal day, giving me hugs, helping me when I ask for help, and being her ever-sweet self. Mythili taking walks or bike rides with me, never commenting on the length or the speed, working on her digital and painted artwork for hours or days, piecing together puzzles, easily managing her homework. Izzy creating coffee drinks to share with everyone, garnering followers with her quick TikTok videos, working on her badminton skills and perfecting how to curl her hair (often letting me braid it just like when she was a little girl). Fabian never once complaining, helping around the house before ever being asked, pulling a too-heavy compost bin off me with the strength of an ox, building a weight with a bar and some chopped old logs, getting his schoolwork done before the rest of the class meets on Google Meets each day at 1pm.
  10. I am so damn lucky to live in Denver. In a city with a thousand days of sun. With easygoing neighborhoods and walking-distance parks. With snow today, gone tomorrow. With a liberal governor and mayor who offer support for all people, broken-not-broken, immigrant or citizen, homeless or homed. With a network of streets that you could spend your life meandering through and never get lost. With my beautiful school across the street from the greatest park ever known. With bike lanes and bike paths everywhere. With everything I need to feel safe in this nightmare of unsafety.

Coronatine, Day Fourteen

My elderly uncle with the ‘No Solicitors’ sign on his door happily steps right out onto the covered porch to collect the three Costco-oversized boxes of tissues that I have brought to him.

“Are you going to come in?” he asks as I creep backward, down the three concrete steps.

“You better wash your hands now that you’ve touched those boxes,” I immediately reply. “I could have it, and it lives on cardboard for 24 hours.”

He brushes me off and acts, quite nonchalantly, as if he’s been expecting me. “Thanks, I was waiting for something like this. I use five or six tissues every time I have to clean my catheter.”

What a lucky find, I think. “Well, Floyd, you’re the master of social distancing. How have you handled the Coronavirus?”

It’s true. He’s been reclusive, the middle child and only boy wrenched between six sisters, for his entire adult life. He lives in the same house he bought as a young man, the 1950s Mayfair ranch decorated exactly the same as the original owner, and “Why should I change what’s already there?” He worked as a TV repairman for as long as there were TVs to repair, and happily retired twenty years ago to a lifestyle of only visiting the grocery store and denying most social invitations from his six sisters.

But now there are no tissues in his grocery store. No toilet paper. No frozen vegetables. No eggs. No sense of security for the five square miles he drives within any given week.

He talks my ear off in the fifteen minutes I stand in his front yard, keeping my six feet of social distancing requirement.

This isn’t like yesterday when I drove to all corners of the city to deliver my students their much-needed headsets, folders, notebooks, and supplies, when their parents seemed grateful for my latex gloves and, more importantly, my brevity. “Check Schoology!” I found myself shouting too many times, “It has everything you’ll need for your life right there!”

This is Coronatine, Day Thirteen: my elderly uncle, my not-so-elderly parents (who also need tissues), who I can only stand on the porch with, and not really visit.

“You’re really not going to come inside?” they inquire, and I mention Italy. We’ve all heard about Italy. My father’s mother was from Italy, still has living relatives there. “Over sixty, Dad,” is all I really have to say (my parents are 66).

And how did I manage in the Costco line today? The rain hadn’t started yet, nor the snow. It was cold, and I had my latex gloves on, plus my ski mask (I didn’t think far enough in advance to buy medical masks, so when I put it on in the parking lot, Fabian said he’d prefer to wait in the car. I didn’t care. I’m not fucking with this shit). I waited a good thirty minutes to socially distance myself, six feet back from the guy in front of me, to get in the store.

And they still didn’t have toilet paper.

This was after we visited the Mexican Envios, always open, line out the door, everyone ready to send money home to their poorer-than-any-of-us-here families back home. My boy was in and out in fifteen minutes, but his poverty-stricken father had to wait in line for three hours to get that money we sent him because this was the first day out of seven that the banks were open, and the seventh day out of infinity that he is unable to work and support those two baby girls.

Never mind that he lives in the most dangerous city on Earth with a corrupt government and police on every corner making sure you don’t go where you’re not supposed to.

Never mind that he doesn’t even have a mortgage because his house is a shack on his boss’s property constructed entirely of corrugated sheets of metal.

Never mind that however bad you think this is for us, standing in the cold in the Costco line, cleaning your catheter with the last bits of tissue, wishing you could hug your parents…

We still live here. Where capitalism, evil as it may be, allows me to trump the system and send an extra hundred dollars home to Honduras because, God, why the fuck not?

This is Coronatine, Day Thirteen: six boxes of tissues delivered. Check. Three hundred dollars sent to Honduras to buy food. Check. Wondering who has it among us, and which ones will die. Check.

What else is there to say?

I planted spinach just in time for the snow to water it. Please let it grow. Please, God, let it grow.