In the next few weeks things are going to change around here. I am getting my second vaccine next Monday, Ally is getting her first. My son, who’s already gotten his one and done J&J and hopefully because he does not have a vajayjay, he will not be subject to blood clots, will be home in 8 days and my husband, my husband will be getting a brand new shoulder in 11 days.
I have been having some hip issues, which I will be getting imaged for next week. You know how in college they have different houses for kids to live in–the music house, the soccer house, the poetry house–we over here, are the orthopedic house, um, yeah. The lot of us have had more ortho issues than ER, Scurbs and Grey’s Anatomy put together. But, ah, thank God for modern medicine.
I am ridiculously grateful for all the scientists and every single medical person who has missed breakfast, lunch, and dinner for months on end to make vaccines that are helping us out of this pandemic. If you haven’t gotten one yet, please consider it a must-have. We need to lift ourselves up and out of this craziness and that little shot wlll allow that to happen. And whoever created a shoulder replacement, well you are bananas amazing and I am more thankful than the alphabet has words for.
Yup, things are going to change around here in the next few weeks. More freedom, less pain, and new body parts. I’m ready.
I am a flower junkie. The more the merrier. So for me, spring is a kid in a candy store kaleidoscope of mood enhancing drugs. When my dog and I hit the neighborhood every morning, I get to monitor what’s happening in the plant world. Who is crazy enough to take the risk to put out window boxes and containers during this unpredictable weather time of year (me), where the magnolias are (out), how many battalions of daffodils there are, heads held high, rooting for the sun to come out and warm them like the heat lamps I see in so many patios that helped keep us social through the winter months of the pandemic.
I keep tabs on what’s about to bloom, where the natural world in our little corner of the world is at. It buoys me to know that no matter how harsh the winter might have been, the flowers come alive again, up and out from black soil, pushing aside dead brown leaves to make themselves known, to say brightly, loudly, “I’m still here.”
This year, more than any other, nature’s reliable rhythm, feels like a lifeline. We too are beginning to step our vaccinated selves out of our forced hibernation, dipping our ratty pedicures into the waters of an unknown new world, none of us quite certain how far we should go, how safe it is. This spring, watching the flowers bloom, the trees leaf up, it’s not just a celebration of the end of winter, but the beginning of a new part of the pandemic. Yes, we’re still in it, yes, we won’t be putting our masks away for a while, but yes, there is a distinct possibility that we may be a good way through this historical chapter. Or not. I don’t want to hear about the deadly and super contagious variants that might force us back down (but of course, I listen intently to the news on this). I want to believe that Covid will be a story we regale at parties and family gatherings. I want it to be the past. But whatever happens, whether we must crawl back into our shells or get to begin again soon, you know we’ll be like the spring flower crowd, we won’t give up. And as Arnold said in The Terminator, “We’ll be back.”
This past Friday at 1:04, I illegally parked in the South End and walked into the Boston Medical Center Building at 85 East Concord Street, where I greeted every person I saw with an “I am so excited!” before sitting down in a semi-open cubicle to have a nurse named Yonni give me a vaccine for Covid-19. I felt like someone bought me a Caribbean island filled with potato chips, there was another 10 seasons of Schitt’s Creek, a cure for cellulite and a scientific discovery that made a dog live exactly as long as its owner. Yup, that happy.
How to explain this year to an alien? I am still wandering around the feelings to be able to properly assess. I used to try and write about infertility when I was going through it, but I could never nail down the immensity, the soul searing, just-out-of-reach dream that was so everyday casual for everyone else. It took me at least a decade to communicate anything close to the experience of those three years. And I suspect it will take me at least a few years to properly capture the effects of this pandemic.
Later on Friday, I drove my husband to get his shot at a CVS in Cambridge, where he too was offered an exceptionally organized experience. We came home to our daughter having poured us shots of vodka, because she said, “shots required shots.” I couldn’t argue, even though I have taken, perhaps five shots in my life’s entirety to date. I mean, if ever you’re going to celebrate, it should be when you’re getting a vaccine that can save your life. And after all, they did tell me to hydrate.
My arm hurt quite a lot in the night, so I popped some Tylenol. It hurt even more on Saturday, which was basically a bust of a day, where I did a few errands and then napped and planted myself in front of the tv. I was tired. My husband had no symptoms at all. Sunday my arm hurt less and yesterday, it was barely a memory. And as far as the vaccine being painful, I actually didn’t think they’d put it in, when they said “done.”
There’s talk of another surge, which I can barely take in. I know how lucky I am to be part of vaccination nation. It seems like they are really flowing now and that there will be enough for everybody who wants one, which I wish was everyone, but is not. I am so beyond the rainbow grateful for this shot in the arm. Thank you science. Thank you Joe Biden (talk about a shot in the arm).
Just that little bit of Spring last Thursday, and my head was spinning with getting out the patio cushions and buying some plants and where are my flip flops. Just those warm temperatures got me in a high-as-a-kite mood. And then yesterday, I was getting my nails done (and yes, I get my nails done at a very safe salon with loads of Covid accommodations) I looked out the window and let out an audible scream. I mean audible as in the entire neighborhood probably heard me and since the salon is close to the police station, it wouldn’t have surprised me if a few on duty officers came storming in thinking there was some sort of robbery or mayhem that needed addressing. There it was, predictable as Tucker Carlson saying some absurd lie, snow in March. At first it was just a few rogue flurries, but then it became absolute blizzard conditions. BLIZZARD. CONDITIONS. By the time I walked home without socks on, mind you, it was light snow, and by the time I walked up my steps (all of a 2 minute walk from the salon), the sun was out. And so it goes in New England. You’d think I’d be used to this by now. But no, I’m still like Jack-in-the-box surprised.
Anyway, my point here is that just that one warm, bright, 65 degree weather sent my spirits soaring to Mars with that Rover thing. So, imagine how happy we’ll all be when the weather warms up for real and more and more people get vaccinated and the Covid restrictions start to loosen up. It might just be a happiness we’ve never even known before. And that is something to look forward to. That there is some gratitude that might just be unprecedented.
After 9/11 happened, I remember reading how the Pentagon assembled a bunch of Hollywood writers and directors in a secret building in L.A, to brainstorm what future terror attacks could look like. They were told to think of the craziest, most off-the-wall ideas possible. Because what the Pentagon realized, which was referred to as the “failure of imagination” theory, was that nobody in government had the imagination to have even considered an attack like an enemy using a plane as a weapon.
At the time, this just fascinated me–this “failure of imagination” theory. I became obsessed by what we weren’t imagining and made my brain work overtime. But even though I thought of dozens and dozens of horrific events–some so diabolical and easy to pull off I thought I must have lived life as torturer and spy in a past life, when last March, we started quarantine for a killer virus on the loose, a pandemic was not on my list of crazy shit. Which brings me to my major point here.
WHAT ELSE COULD BE COMING DOWN THE ROAD THAT WE’RE NOT THINKING OF?
And so, in between what is right now, and what has been for the past year (and on March 13, it will be a full year that we’ve basically been in quarantine, which is WHAT? How?), and what is an unknown future, I am going to try and embrace with full attention and gratitude, those things that I used to take for granted, and which I have missed like I miss my mom. I’m going to grab those first spring days in New England that always make me feel pure possibility, and when we can safely go to a restaurant, I’m going to listen for the beginning quiet that turns into a low buzz of laughing and talking and sipping and forks and knives hitting plates, because that sound is not just about nourishing one’s self with food, but with company. And while I always have had reverence for the way flowers sprout from cold hard soil, after a long hard winter (and by the way, any New England winter, no matter how mild, is cold and hard to me and this one was colder and harder, I’ll tell you) I may just genuflect as they petal up in their colorful clothing. I will hold the sound of a crowded beach as dear as the sound of the waves biting the shore. I will stop complaining about crowded airport lines, trying to hide my giddiness at the act of getting on a plane flight to somewhere foreign and exciting–to travel again. And I will not hold back my unadulturated joy in the ability to hug the people I love and sit with them wherever I please to talk about how much we’ve missed one another, how starved we’ve been for each.
Because as fertile as my imagination is (and I get paid for thinking of ideas, don’t forget) I know that I don’t know anything. I know that something worse could occur in the future and until then, (and hopefully there is no then), I don’t want to miss a thing.
So, there was an award show on last night–The Golden Globes. Usually I would be knee deep in fashin’trashin’ by now, but since people are dying everyday, and we’re still smack inside of an ongoing pandemic, I didn’t feel like it was ok to be mean to anybody (unless it was Donald Trump). So, if you were thinking I was going to say that Cynthia Erivo’s Nickelodeon slime-colored space age Valentino was so awful that I’d rather take my dog’s used poop bags and knit them together to make a dress than don that mess, or that Emma Corrin’s send in the clowns mime dress made Princess Di die again, or that Anya Taylor-Joy checkmated everyone in her slinky and sublime Dior and Veronica Lake hair, or that I could actually feel the silk through the tv of Elle Fanning’s slithery Tiffany blue Gucci, I’m not. Hoping next year will be different. So, until then.
What I will say is that I saw Nomadland this past weekend and it deserved to win because wow, and wow and this is a story everyone should see. The authenticity factor was extraordinary and while Frances McDormand was exceptional, I was also wildly impressed with the people who were not actors and actually lived the life they were portraying.
Movies that entertain are good fun, and Lord knows I’ve been relying on them throughout this pandemic, but movies that can teach you something, that leave me with a lesson, something to think about, or much smarter, are the ones that win for me.
Gratitude for entertainment, in all forms. without it, this pandemic would have been a lot worse and a lot longer-feeling than the 1,289,409 years it’s felt like.
I”m a little worried that when we can actually socialize again, we won’t know how to. I mean, will we all just sit around at a restaurant texting to one another on our phones, trying to adjust the lighting like we would on Zoom so we don’t look like zombies? Will we remember how to hug? Will we recall in-person social cues? Will our mouths, so used to being covered by the annoying protection of masks, do weird things?
I miss people. GOD, I miss people. I miss a warm embrace that had become a normal greeting for pretty much anyone you knew. I promise to hug even more when this is over. I will hug the mail carrier everyday, I swear. I miss going out to dinner with friends, the excitement of cutting loose on a Saturday night. I miss going to a special museum exhibit and discussing it afterward at a civilized ladies-who-lunch midday meal. I miss a carefree chat on the street with an acquaintance I miss going to the theater. After this is over, I’m going to plant myself on Broadway and see every damn play there is. I miss music, live music, a big concert, letting my body move with the music. I miss the energy of New York, the amped up buzz I get from people watching and wandering. I miss traveling, packing up and going someplace new, or old, the excitement of learning about a location I’ve never been, the newness, the history, the food and wine, the people. Yeah, I miss people.
This year has been hard, but as Glennon Doyle says, “We can do hard things.” And of course, she is right. But as I wait impatiently for all of us to get our vaccines, I wonder if it will give us the shot in the arm we need to get back to the way we used to be. I wonder if once the virus is under control, we’ll have the space to grieve all we’ve lost, or whether we’ll simply be so happy to be in one another’s company again, that we’ll just cry with unbridled and raucus joy, plan a big bonfire and throw our masks in for kindling. I hope we’ll understand the importance of our family and friends in a new and better way. I hope we’ll put our work in its proper place, that we’ll give more to those in need, that we’ll be more compassionate, more loving, more tolerant. I hope that there will be good lessons that endure from this exile. Those are what i will be grateful for. Those are what I will hang onto from this time. The rest of it, the rest of it, I cannot wait to forget.
The Covid fatigue feels like a virus all by itself. And while I hate to whine because I’m relatively very lucky, I’m whining for everybody who feels the bone weary, brain-numbing exhaustion quarantine life brings. I’m whining because it’s hard not to see family and friends. I’m moaning because isolation is, well, ISOLATING. But I will stop the misery making for a moment to tell you how i’ve gotten this far. And then, maybe you’ll share with me. On account of, I’M RUNNING LOW ON IDEAS.
Exercising my options. I have been trying to get some exercise in everyday. Ok, some days, it’s just doing a bigger loop around the hood with Riley, but any kind of exercise is good exercise. Anything you can do to get a little runner’s high going is a lottery winner in my book. My mood lags when my body does, so yoga, pilates, walking (when it’s not 9 degrees) is my jam. Sometimes I do the stationery bike, because we have one, but I hate it. Thing is, I do feel better when I get off the damn thing. Some days, I run up and down the stairs. Others I just stretch while I’m making my coffee.
Dreaming up new projects. I have recently begun thinking about doing some new writing projects and it’s kind of exciting. I do get overwhelmed by the scope of some of the things I’m thinking about, but then I just make myself take a little step toward what it is I’m considering and give myself a pat on the back for taking some action.
Watching everything that has ever been made that is currently streaming. Is this possible, you ask? I think so, because I think we might be doing it over here. We are movie LOVERS, always have been and this has given us more time than ever to stream the good stuff. Late, so late to the party, but just finished Schitt’s Creek and am now in mourning, waiting for the next great binge. I’m telling you, we’ve seen everything and all I can think of is how did they do this in 1918 when there was no tv, let alone fucking Netflix.What are you watching? Please advise.
Read a book, for God’s Sakes. I’ve been reading more than normal. I do need books that really capture my attention, which is kind of dodgy these days. I loved Writers & Lovers by Lily King. Just about to start another by same author called Euphoria. On deck, Milk Fed by Melissa Broder. Got anything to share with me?
What’s cooking. I’m still cooking, but have lost all my enthusiasm. I’m not trying new recipes, or trying to get creative. I’m tired of cheffing it up nightly, and long to eat out in a restaurant where someone else is preparing the meal and bringing it to me, accompanied by an awesome cocktail. Member when we used to meet for dinner? Yeah, those were the days. what are you cooking. RECIPES, PLEASE.
I buy weird stuff from Instagram. Boy oh boy, this pandemic must be a lollapalooza for online businesses. I have bought stuff I normally wouldn’t, because in scrolling through Instagram, there it is, and well, WHY THE FUCK NOT. Purchases have included skincare and makeup, a curling iron whose video posts had me riveted, volumizing spray that Sarah Jessica Parker uses (SARAH. JESSICA. PARKER. USES. IT. C’mon, I had to), under eye de-swelling patches, the list goes on. Yeah, I gotta stop this and go back to online shopping where I just leave the stuff in the basket and go to another site.
Baby my dog. He’s getting old and I know our days with him are numbered. He’s the light in all of our days and so I’m extra solicitous of this little boy. He’s also always going out of his way to make me laugh.
Keeping my chin up. Yeah, this is a thing that requires energy these days. I try everyday to focus on something good, be grateful for how lucky we’ve been during this pandemic. I try to do something to make someone else’s life a little better.
Ok, so how are you doing it? HOW ARE YOU STAYING SANE RIGHT NOW, ALMOST A YEAR INTO THIS? I’d be grateful if you’d please share.
I have been waiting for yesterday for four years. For reasonable and rational to return. For a president to think about the country first, instead of himself. I was waiting for the adults to come home from their extended vacation, to make clear the rules again, to speak in full sentences. I was waiting for a feeling of possibility, which seemed to be obscured by layers and layers of dark clouds, buried in a sea of lies.
My body took it on. My shoulder scrunched up toward the top of my head in a permanent and impenetrable pain, my sleep disrupted. I questioned the country I had taken for granted my whole life. I wondered about my sanity, after so much gaslighting, so many lies said with such conviction. I got used to frustration, to being afraid, to sadness.
From its first inspiring day, the new administration has laid clear its theme: it’s about you, not about us. It’s not about division, it’s about unity. It’s not about lies, it’s about truths. It’s not about anger, it’s about forgiveness. It’s not about dystopia, it’s about hope.
We’re not out of the woods, but we are out of the constant, pelting downpour. The vision is clear. We march toward a more perfect union. Not perfect, more perfect. So grateful.