Day Fifty Seven- I’m not sure whose counting anymore.

For weeks after my braces were. removed, at random times, I would run my tongue along my teeth. The enamel after three years of metal and rubber bands felt glorious and unexpected

Ever since the words quarantine came into daily conversation, I’m constantly checking my mood like I used to check my teeth.

I ask my daughter- she says I get way too close, and sound scary serious- “how are you handling everything?”

She usually says fine, but sometimes, she actually answers the question with more than two syllables. It’s best to catch her right before bed and never before 9 am.

I’m fine, mostly.
I’m depressed, miserable, elated, grateful, lethargic, whiny, goofy, tipsy, manic, sad, silly, sleepy, mean, petty, joyful, and mellow.

I’m lonely; I’m enjoying the time with my daughter.
I’m missing my job; I’ve wandered the woods at Ponkapoag on Friday at 11 am. I’ve read eight books, played my flute, and bundled up three bags of shirts for Goodwill.

There is a lot of talk about recognizing the difference between knowing what we can and can not control.

I’ve learned I don’t control a damned thing but whether or not I’m going to stay in bed, or get up with the morning.
I’m getting out of bed.

If I’m sad, I’ll move through it, with a little help from my friends.

Time to stop counting the days, recognize the privilege of a slow morning under blankets while coffee drips, and get on with the rest of my life.

I’ve got work to do.

Stay strong,
Jules

Where I landed at the end of the day (Day 52?)
This morning, a friend texted me about a meteor shower tonight. It was around ten am, I’d just had coffee, I was walking the dog.

I mentioned this to every person I saw as I walked Sophie around the block.
I called my mom and told her. I woke up my daughter and didn’t even bother to whisper the news.

I’m not someone that follows astronomy. I think I might have seen a falling star, once or twice, out of luck, not from looking.

When I read those words, I could see me, in my blue and white flannel pajamas, sitting on the stairs in front of our house with my daughter. Sophia is lying in the grass, her leash looped ’round my ankle. There’s a glass of buttery chardonnay, half full, and Katy and I are looking up at the sky, our bare feet touch, just barely. There is the presence of neighbors, on porches, or lingering on sidewalks. I could hear their voices, soft and wonderful, and make out their profiles, just barely, heads tilted up to gaze at the night sky.

When I got home, I dug the beach chairs out of the shed and dusted them off. I put a bottle of good wine on ice, and found an old pair of binoculars in Colin’s long retired desk.

Around four pm, some clouds rolled in. The forecast said it will be overcast until morning.

Katy and I had a disagreement over hair elastics; this afternoon I did zumba alone.

I received a letter from the office of Unemployment that directed me to visit my online account immediately because I had a time sensitive notification. It took me an hour to locate the time sensitive notification, figure out I had to download Adobe to read the document, locate the letter,and make sense of it.
It indicates I have nothing to do unless I need to make changes, which would need to be made immediately.
Nothing has changed, but I’m working on it.

So instead of tacos for dinner, we had takeout, and they forgot the rice.

I’m at the table, scowling at the computer, wondering if it’s too late to bother Katy.

This is where my evening landed, somehow.

I had a vision, and it got lost in clouds and glitches. It was a once in a lifetime kind of night.

For forty-five minutes, I’ve been glaring at my laptop, missing a time that never happened. I haven’t even looked outside.

I need to find the dog, and my daughter, and we will go sit on the steps in the dark.
Maybe, there will be moonlight. Maybe there will still be blossoms on the magnolia tree, or a family will walk down the middle of the street, pushing a carriage holding a sweet baby, wide awake and laughing at her toes.

Maybe Katy won’t come downstairs, I’ll end up sitting alone, and the rain will come.

Goodnight, my friends.
If you’re in New England, and you’re heading outside, wear a sweater.

Love,
Julie

For a little over a month, I’ve been doing daily posts about life under quarantine. My intention was to keep a record of how my family dealt with this weird, hard, situation.

I’m going to keep posting, but I won’t title my posts with the number of days we’ve been home.

Each day going forward is not a number, or a marker of time until this is over.

Each day is a challenge, a nightmare, a blessing, and an opportunity to figure out who I am, how to leave the world a better place, what I can do to help those I love navigate through a world for which a map does not exist.

This was not the best of days. I didn’t get a full hour of exercise so I’m surly. I took a nap in the afternoon, ate too much of Katy’s lovely lemon bars, recipe gifted from my mom, told my son to pack his stuff and move out because he didn’t put a dish in the dishwasher, and got lost in a tiny patch of woods off of Rte 138.

I also had a zoom call with my family, apologized like I meant it, and, when I click post, am going to take a dance cardio class in the living room, bluetooth speaker connected, which will probably irritate the hell out of everyone.

I know jumping around on the carpet won’t leave the world a better place, and irritating the people I just apologized to is kind of hypocritical, but, this what me taking care of myself looks like.

Take care of yourself.
Love,
julie

I spent thirty minutes trying to center the drapes on the curtain rods.
An hour was consumed when I dusted and wiped.
I cleaned out my closet, and put away my high heels in a box I tucked deep in my closet.
Katy came over to me in the midst of one my rants-
“Why am I always doing all of this alone? You are on Snapchat and I”m-”
And she said-
“Mom, the house will still be here tomorrow, the mess will be here tomorrow, and so will we. And I’ll help.”
She folded me into her arms and hugged me until I didn’t want to strangle her.
Then I spotted a stack of papers, an empty cat food can, a dirty napkin, and some cheerios under the kitchen table. (I spend the majority of my time oblivious and it serves me well, until it doesn’t.)
I started again, but I’m not going to repeat the language I used, but she reached around my shoulders, and let me lean in on her shoulder.
I know she just didn’t feel like helping me clean the damn house, but I admire her tactics.
With love passed on from Katy to me to you,
Julie

I spent thirty minutes trying to center the drapes on the curtain rods.
An hour was consumed when I dusted and wiped.
I cleaned out my closet, and put away my high heels in a box I tucked deep in my closet.
Katy came over to me in the midst of one my rants-
“Why am I always doing all of this alone? You are on Snapchat and I”m-”
And she said-
“Mom, the house will still be here tomorrow, the mess will be here tomorrow, and so will we. And I’ll help.”
She folded me into her arms and hugged me until I didn’t want to strangle her.
Then I spotted a stack of papers, an empty cat food can, a dirty napkin, and some cheerios under the kitchen table. (I spend the majority of my time oblivious and it serves me well, until it doesn’t.)
I started again, but I’m not going to repeat the language I used, but she reached around my shoulders, and let me lean in on her shoulder.
I know she just didn’t feel like helping me clean the damn house, but I admire her tactics.
With love passed on from Katy to me to you,
Julie

 

Since this whole stay the #$$%^ at home thing started, my sixteen year old daughter has been assigned, from time to time, the occasional role of my Best Friend Forever.

(I don’t think she would agree with this label, at any time, ever. I rank below Maurice the cat and every single friend in her contacts on her iPhone. I would be concerned if she felt the same.)

I’m not going to go into details, she might catch me, not talk to me for six hours and I might die.

But I think it’s safe to say Kate and I have different definitions of time, and do not always share the same priorities.
We don’t agree on the amount of urgency required in folding clothes that have been sitting on the table for 32 hours.
One of us feels that sweeping is not important since no one is going to come into the house ever again.
These are not unusual battles between parent and child. and would typically be resolved just before bed, when Katy realized she needed a ride in the morning, or I remembered I needed her to go to a friend’s house after school.

But in the midst of Covid 19, this minor squabble meant I had to exercise alone in the living room. There is no one to ask me to make popcorn when I sit down to watch tv. It turns out, I don’t mind standing behind Kate while we work out, our tiny space felt kind of empty without her. And, without her company, I think I”ll sit down with a book.

We’ve been home together for a month.

For the first time since she was ten, I’m allowed to sit on her bed and to talk to her while she wakes up, even share a pillow. When my back went out, she scolded me about trying to go walk the dog, even though she knew she would have to walk the dog. It was pouring, cold as hell, with 20 mile an hour winds. (We love Sophie very much, but when the temperature drops below 30 degrees, and the wind howls, she’s the dog.)

Right now, Katy is upstairs reading Stephen King, and probably didn’t even notice I turned the music all the way up during the work out.

I owe her for walking Sophie, which is far more important than sweeping, because it’s definitely going to be a little while before we entertain. And honestly, no one has ever visited because I keep such an impeccable house.

I’m heading upstairs to initiate peace talks, but I’m keeping her cell phone until morning. Or that’s what I’m telling myself right now, though who confiscates the device of their BFF.

I guess a Mom does, but right now, I’d like to spend a little time with my friend.

I can wake her up with a list of chores, a healthy breakfast, and offer to listen to her point of view in the morning.

Love,

Jules

For those of you who are counting, we are on Day 30.

I’m in my kitchen, writing, while Sheldon makes an omelet for Katy. Katy is emptying the dishwasher, and probably putting everything in the wrong place.

I’m writing in the morning because yesterday, I did not. Yesterday, we gorged on pizza and pasta. We watched five hours of Dexter. We spent in the day in our pajamas from the night before. We napped. I didn’t look at my phone, the news, or social media.

This morning, I slept in until 9 am. I’m moving slowing thru the morning because my body aches when I spent a day on the sofa. I am not complaining, I recommend a day on the sofa to everyone.

Sheldon is screaming “Where is the spatula?” like there’s the possibility someone broke into the house and stole it.

Katy keeps asking me “How’s your blog?” like she’s humoring me. When I answer “Fine,” she says “why would you say fine? That’s an odd answer.” I am trying to ignore her, but when I do, she taps my leg with her foot. She is wearing my slippers.

Sophie is barking and Katy is complaining that the cheese in her omelet was not well distributed- “there is a thick block of cheese in the middle,” then moves on questions about the orange juice- was it shaken? “Are you sure you shook it, because I don’t know.” After breakfast, she jumps up from the table, and kisses her dad on the cheek. “Thank you for breakfast, it was amazing! I mean, next time, the cheese-” Sheldon answers- “Next time, I will make you an omelet with lima beans and pickles.” and goes onto label her “beyond fussy” before offering to toast her an English muffin.

Sophie is looking out the window, Michael and Maurice are sleeping upstairs.

We were mostly quiet yesterday, as we ate and napped and watched tv, and ate some more.

Maybe we had run out of conversation.

At the breakfast table, Easter morning, it seems like we’ve found our words.

Katy’s boyfriend visited this morning, and brought her an Easter basket. He stood on the sidewalk, she at the top of the stairs. I couldn’t hear their conversation, but his mom sent a picture.

They are happy, and laughing. They are trying to make things work.

I think we’re getting a little better at this.

It’s going to be a beautiful, weird, and wonderful day.

Peace be with you.

Julie

I will remember the nervous eyes of shoppers at the grocery store, faces hidden behind surgical masks, walking with friends from a distance, and as the news got worse, walking alone, and writing about moments of grief, terror, and anger on Facebook and finding connection in the conversation that followed.
But what I will remember most is this-
every night, about twenty minutes in advance, I scream upstairs, where she hides for hours, behind I closed door because she says I am noisy, “KATY?”
We do a dance class online, and for some reason, it really matters to me that we do it “live”.
When the music has started, she is usually looking for her sneakers, or finding her yoga pants.
When she arrives, the first thing she does is close the curtains in the living room. I move back and give her the spot directly in front of the lap top. She uses my only pair of free weights, I use a jar of tomato sauce and a can of peaches.
For an hour, we dance. Actually, by the time she gets there, it’s more like fifty minutes.
One night, we had a disagreement, probably because she was late. When she arrived, I told her I wasn’t going to make her stay, she could go back upstairs to her FaceTime and homework.
Katy looked at me and said “Mom, I look forward to this.”
So do I.
Waking up is hard. Sleep is impossible.
But for a little less than an hour, almost every night for 28 days, my daughter and I have shared a tiny space in our living room and danced.
I hope you have a person, a song, or a memory to help you thru.
Love,
jules

 
I’ve had so many conversations with friends that are along these lines- “This is horrible. But of course, we are so blessed.”
It is horrible.
And I am blessed.
I have Amazon Prime. Plenty of toilet paper. A daughter who makes me laugh and two cats in the yard, a husband who watches Mrs. Maisel with me, ten books I haven’t read, and I located a big bag of active yeast at the health food store this afternoon.
Still, it is horrible.
The horrible part, for me, anyway, is not the staying at home doing work out videos and making bread.
It is not knowing how long I will be staying at home doing workout videos and making bread.
It is not knowing if someone I love is sick.
It is knowing that we are not prepared for what is to come, and have no idea what is to come.
But it will pass.
I can’t find comfort in this knowledge tonight.
It’s late, there was lightning this evening, and my daughter is mad at me because I take her phone at 10 pm.
I probably won’t get much sleep, but, like I said, I have plenty to read. I have a cup of tea, and a piece of toast on the nightstand. 
If anyone needs some yeast, I can share.
Toast helps, especially with strawberry jam and a little butter.
Good night, my friends.
Love,
Julie

I woke up happy this morning, a feeling I didn’t recognize at first.

I ate yogurt for breakfast, with blueberries and granola. I emptied the dishwasher. It felt like a Saturday, a normal Saturday. I hadn’t looked at the news, and I hadn’t been on Facebook. I did know it is going to rain tomorrow, so I asked Katy and her friend to take a ride to Nantasket with me. (Katy’s friend has been staying with us since the shelter in place.) I was surprised when they said yes before I resorted to bribery, (Wahlberger’s) or begging, (I’m not proud).

We arrived at about 3 pm. The girls wanted to walk on the rocks. Sophie did not.
We decided to stay close, (I decided, they acquiesced).
I would stroll the sidewalk, they would run around in the sand.
Within five minutes, I lost sight of them.


I called. Katy was going to meet me outside a restaurant a few blocks down.
Long story short, I didn’t see her again until we met at the car 45 minutes later.
So Katy chose to hang out with her friend, instead of her friend and her mom. Oh. My. God.

She tried to apologize. I insisted she needed to be quiet or talk to her friend, (snarky emphasis on the word friend).
At one point, when my sixteen year old wouldn’t stop pleading for forgiveness, I pulled the car over and put on my over the ear I’m-not-a-fan-of-humans headphones.
When we got home, I dropped her and her friend off, and snarled at her to clean her closet.


I took Sophie for a walk at Cunningham. Sophie didn’t want to walk at Cunningham. She’d already walked the boardwalk for forty-five minutes, and it was about to rain.
I came home. Katy asked me if I wanted to bake bread. They promise to watch tv with me tonight and aren’t going to insist on Criminal Minds or The British Baking Show.
It was kind of nice, having something to yell about and having someone to yell at.


My social life revolves around Katy, her friend, and my dog. That’s a lot to ask of all parties.


But we’ve survived Colin, learning to drive, and the interminable battle of the clothes on the stairs.


We’ve got this.


Love,
Julie

Ritual helps.
Katy and I meditate every morning. We’ve tried ocean breath, slow yoga, a guided visualization that let me found my own happy place, which was on the Cape with a cocktail in front of pool watching my daughter play in the water.
I’d really like to be on that lounge chair, holding a Pina Colada, wondering if I applied enough sun screen, watching Katy and Madeleine. In no time, I’d jump into the cold water, and twirl them around under the surface while they laughed.
Summer will be here at some point, I think.
It’s been incredibly gloomy, the weather in New England is far too appropriate for the current state of the world.
I don’t know what summer will look like, and I try not to think about it by gobbling up new stories and the Facebook feed, exercising to videos online, or tucking my ears between headphones, and TURNING UP THE VOLUME
to a ridiculous level so that there is no room to think about
what’s going to happen next.
At the end of the day, we find our way to the television. We make popcorn in the microwave and add butter and maple syrup. We watch Mrs. Maisel, and marvel at the beautiful clothes, sparkling actors, and shiny view of New York City in the 1950’s. We appreciate watching beautiful people kiss, hold hands, go to the store, share drinks, squeeze together in a cab.
Katy, my sixteen year old, has started calling me mamma, especially if she wants an impossible burger, or hair dye. Especially right before she goes upstairs to bed. She leans in and hugs me each night, presents me her cheek.
There are blessings in all of this,(I know, and I’ve counted the blessings, but I do need to remind myself of this,) and terror, and sleep is hard to come by.
I’ve got the days figured out, mostly.
Nights are long. We’ve taken to leaving the light on, and leaving the phones in another room.
Sleep well, my friends.

Julie

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