Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Change in the Time of Covid - Year One

I decided today I'd publish a new blog post. Made a pact with myself. Other than writing my three morning pages, my writing life has taken a back seat. I'm currently hooked on a woodpuzzle app. Obsessed with it. I know when I do that, it means I'm on the cusp of something creative.

That creativity is often subjective based on the power behind it. Could translate into something new for dinner. A pattern made in the lake with my float, arms working as oars. Plowing through six unread New Yorker magazines gathering dusk on my ottoman.

Often, something more concrete. Like writing a blog post after almost two years. 


Today, when I opened up my blog after many, many months of not doing so, I saw where I'd made several attempts at posts in the past year and a half.  I came across this draft, marking a year into the pandemic. I'm not certain how I lost track of it--which distraction, grandchild's birth, event, or travel trailer adventure fancied my attention. 

Or if I decided it wasn't worthy. Or too long. Rambling. Sort of like the long days of Covid for many of us. 

Yup. That was it.

Since I'm piddling with another essay, I've decided to post this one written in March 2021. Satisfies my pledge to post a blog today so I can get back to reading one of those New Yorker magazines and work on my floating. 

Greetings, and good health to all.

March 2021

The only man who behaved sensibly was my tailer: he took my measure anew everytime he saw me, whilst all the rest went on with their old measurements and expected them to fit me. 

Bernard Shaw

One year since Covid became a word. An anniversary--welcome or not. I often reflect on anniversary dates, and this one is no different. My curious nature has me wondering about my measurements. How this year changed me.

Adaptation: Even though I can talk to a pool table, I'm an introvert. Never am I bored and often must force myself out of Hermitville. Other than disappointment for the cancellation of several large trips on the calendar, I had little trouble adjusting to the world's shutdown. I didn't have outside work. Cancelled social engagements? Love Zoom. 

My days have a pattern. I awake in a coma, not ready to rock'n'roll. While the first cup of coffee revives my brain, I read a short meditation in a yearly book of wisdom. This year: Celtic wisdom. Last year: Buddist. Year before: Tao. Year before that - my favorite: Mark Nepo and the Book of Awakening.  

On each daily page, I record:

1. Where I am in the world. 

2. If I meditated or not (added that this year, and very challenging as it takes about three seconds before my mind wanders.)

3. Exercise achieved

4. Alcohol consumed

5. Calories ingested

6. Hours of sleep -- I'm not very good at that. Something about Night Hawk and Early Rising Husband Who Makes Lots of Noise.

Sidenote: In those days of Covid, #'s 3 and 4 dominated. #3, if sauntering up and down the street 10 times a day counted as exercise. I lifted a few weights and practiced yoga. Gentle yoga. Lie on the ground yoga. Until that got boring and I purchased harder DVD's. #4 required a necessary recording, as it creeped in on becoming one of those daily activities.

Back to morning rituals. After recording my previous day's activites, I read three new poems, write a don't-pick-up-your-pen stream-of-consciousness-really-shitty poem, followed by three pages of dribble into my journal. I once wrote either a one-page short story or essay each day. Covid begged for brevity -- hence the poem. I ain't no poet so trust me when I say there is nothing worthwhile in those hundreds of stanzas, a topic chosen on a nanosecond notice. 

The news calls next in regard to the developing science on Covid and US/World events. Which means I read a diverse array of newspapers and periodicals so I can distinguish between opinion and reality. People on my street are flush with opinion. I require data. Real data. Data doesn't lie.

Breakfast follows yoga. 

Then there's that book I'm rewriting -- again. That requires a dedicated two hours of staring out the window.

Curbside grocery shopping. Cooking dinner. Toilet cleaning. The maintenance of house stuff like swiping at cobwebs and blowing dust off bookshelves. 

Then comes things I want to learn -- like how to draw and paint. So a daily lesson from a book. I'm an incredible artist and since I don't have to show my work, no one will ever know I'm lying through my teeth. 

Usually one day a week, I don't follow my path. My four-year-old granddaughter spends the day with us. That's a non-thinking day. We do whatever she tells us to do. 

I've not felt the need to clean out closets and drawers. Pretty much everything that needed fixing before Covid still needs fixing. New recipes from the incredible Ina Garten have increased my cooking reprotoire. Following recipes is hard, though. Often I can't find where I put them meaning every night's a crap shoot as to whether a dousing of Cholula is required. 

Admission here: Other than becoming a faithful follower of Ina and some chick named Shiva who leads yoga in White Sands National Park, I did all that other stuff before Covid. I just do it at a slower pace. No rush. No interruptions by having to be somewhere.

The year has not been empty of sorrows and joys. A year of not seeing the son in NYC brought a deep yearning for his embrace. Not to mention worry for his safety in the epicenter of sirens and virus. The loss of my husband's mother during Covid meant we couldn't be with her at her passing. 

Joys included often seeing my other two sons and their families, one nearby and one within a few hours. 

We welcomed a new granddaughter. Meet Ava Gwen. 

Most grateful am I for my partner, who eats whatever I cook. He doesn't have to share the TV screen (we have only one) and knows not to talk to me until after my second cup of coffee. He chats with all the neighbors on his walks and gets the scoop, so I don't have to. We watch the PBS Newshour together and share an adventurous spirit. Which prompted the purchase of that used Airstream camper creating an avenue for exploration in a stagnant travel world. Which also aided greatly in keeping up spirits. 

I don't know if you call that change. Or if I'm told I can't go one way, I'll figure out another route. For in my desires to learn new things, I also like to see new things. The wanderlust something I can't control. 

The Airstream got us out of Dodge and taught us something completely new. Steep learning curve. Sewer hookups. Boondocking. Watewater management. 

Hikes in Big Bend National Park, Minnesota and Wisconsin forests, and a magical day spent in White Sands National Park soothed our weary souls. For even hermits who know how to entertain themselves grow weary.  

Big Bend National Park - Santa Elena Canyon, where the United States kisses Mexico.

Big Bend National Park - The Window

White Sands National Park

Camping was a safe exploration. Have to pee? Pull over and do your business on your own throne. Fix  lunch in your own kitchen. Park your camper more than a six foot length from others. No excuse needed for an unfriendly leer if someone dares an approach.

Of course, there were those who came too close. Like Tony from somewhere in Nevada who drove a huge RV bus with electric bikes that could go 80mph. Tony liked to chat, standing less than six feet away and interrupting my pathetic watercolor lesson on the picnic table. 

"Just tell me to go away if you don't want to talk to me," he said. 

Before I could say, "Go away, Tony," I learned that Tony sold high-end sports cars before he retired. Tony's family raced golf carts, or something like that, in the desert. Tony planned to watch the big Nascar race on Sunday. If not for Covid, he'd be at the race. In all that exhaust and noise. Watching cars go around in a circle. 

Instead he's wasting the life of a reluctant listener.

Not that she has anything against people who watch cars go around in a circle.   

Tony took a gander at my art instruction book, the flower I was supposedly painting. Then just nodded his head at my rendition, which looked sort of like Picasso's girlfriend after Jackson Pollack dumped that first paint can onto a canvas. 

The next day, November 7, I didn't explain to Tony why I was drinking a bottle of champagne in the middle of the afternoon.  

On our travels, we met a couple in Wisconsin who completely redid a 1954 Airstream. Another couple in Big Bend making plans to go all the way to South America in their camper.

A group canoeing the Rio Grande playing their guitars and flutes around their campfire, allowing us to sing along to John Prine songs from our campsite. 

A young family of five on a two-month tour of national parks--the parents working and kids virtually schooling while on the road.

An older couple in the process of selling the sailboat they'd been living on for five years while sailing the seas. 

On these road trips, I continue my daily norms. Morning coffee. Writing. Meditating. Yoga inside the Airstream -- utilitzing the skylight for my arm stretch to achieve Volcano Pose. Walking. Tending my soul.

A year has passed. I'm a week out from full vaccination. What lies ahead? 

I've asked my friends how they've changed this past year. What they do or don't do anymore? What do they see happening when their world opens up? What have they learned about themselves? What's important?

Interesting replies. I'm gathering them, and and hope to write about them. Subjective subject. No one really says yet exactly what they are going to do beyond gathering with dear friends and sharing a long hug. An indication that the change back into the world might be more gradual than the quick retreat we all made last March.

Still figuring it out for myself. My experience is different from those working out of their homes, children underfoot and schooling them. Those who lost their income and careers. Those who live alone and crave the touch of others. Those with elderly parents living with them, rather than in nursing homes. Those who are not well. Those who became ill from the virus. 

The family members of the millions around the world who have died. 

We all have a story. We've all been affected. Even those who think not. Can't go through something like this and think you haven't. 

What has changed for you? What will or will you not do that you used to? What have you discovered about yourself? What's something new you learned to do? 

End Note: Reading this sort of puts a wasp in my panties to write one as to where I am now, two years and four months into the pandemic. Hmmm.

Where are you?

Also, have to show that other grandbaby that blessed us. Meet Parks Conrad Anderson


  1. Hello, Julie!! Good to hear from you.
    Here's how I've changed and what I'm up to. I incapacitated myself some more by breaking a femur. The problem with that recovery is the muscle mass lost by two months on my back.
    I've amused myself with Youtube camper builds and camper reno's. White seems to be the interior color of every camper reno, with bright lower cabinets. I liked the tiny homes on wheels of the van builds, but I was totally hooked on schoolies. Five window busses are my favorites.
    I am still a weaver, did shows, with my daughter's help this year. And, I have a web site that sells towels. I just hired a professional designer to make the site a little less home grown.
    Thanks for your two years in review. Lovely new little people, and how I remember your vacation pictures from my vacationing days.

    1. Midlife JobhunterJuly 6, 2022 at 10:18 AM

      So lovely to hear from you. Very sorry to hear about your breakage. Sounds like you entertained yourself well.
      Please know that every time I pull out one of your towels, I think fondly of you and hope you are doing well. Can you share the website? Stay well, my friend.

    2. Midlife RoadtripperJuly 6, 2022 at 10:26 AM

      I found it. https://www.everythingoldisnewagain.shop

  2. Glad you’re back on the blog! This post was a walk down memory lane. Thank goodness we didn’t know at the time that we were nowhere near done with COVID.

    1. This is Beth-busytraveler.

    2. Midlife RoadtripperJuly 6, 2022 at 10:20 AM

      Definitely happy I didn't know we had so much more to get through. Too daunting.

  3. So wonderful to see you post! Your days are very much like mine. Not much changed during the first year of Covid other than not seeing friends and family. We would have loved to have taken our RV out to do some exploring, but wanted/needed to stay close to my mom (who turned 89 this year). She's not as much of an introvert as I am, and she would have been terribly lonely. We're making up for it now, despite the fuel costs. Enjoy those grandbabies! Look forward to reading more from you in the coming months.

  4. I admire how you've spent your time. It's so cool that you didn't put weird pressure on yourself to achieve things, but rather treated yourself gently and gave your mind and spirit space to stretch and create. I wish I'd done more of that. And congratulations on the grandchildren. They've obviously added to your joy!

  5. So great to read you again! I'm a little late arriving, but glad to be here. I laughed out loud (for real) at stuff you said, starting with introverts and pool tables, passing by shitty poems and Picasso's girlfriend. I do appreciate your self-deprecation, even though I suspect it's sometimes misplaced.
    As for Living Through Covid, I can't say that my life changed much in concrete ways, but the fallout arising from differences of opinion has changed relationships. Children who were once reasonably close have had a hard time finding their way back to each other, and that's a lingering sadness. I thought initially I might be able to mediate that but have accepted that they need to figure it out on their own. It's hard to see your kids hurt each other.
    Seeing the missteps made by health authorities and governments, I am far less inclined to accept without reservation what I hear from officialdom. I could even say I am angered by some of the incompetence and hypocrisy that's been on display for the last two years. And despite my personal stance on vaccines, I detest the divide, the othering of those who are afraid or even ludicrously misinformed.
    Covid has deepened my pessimism about the future, made me more conscious of my own mortality and forced an adjustment to a life that's superficially not very different but which must be approached differently. I have lost no one and recovered twice, easily. Grateful for my good fortune.
    I get seriously annoyed at those who think the danger has passed but catch myself slipping into the same kind of attitude. I'm gobsmacked by how the French have gone back to 'la bise' but understand that something so deeply engrained in their culture is difficult to deny. But at least Covid has given me a good reason to not engage in it myself—I never liked it but to refuse was thought to be rude. And finally, Covid has taught me that you can't count on anything happening the way you think it might!

    Where's that wasp and why isn't she doing her job???


Let me know what you think. Every word you write, I appreciate.


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