Pandemic Diaries: I Need a Schedule

Last week we were meant to be on holiday, so our Social Distancing was more of a long, lazy West Wing binge, with intermittent movies thrown in. Staying in and watching movies, walks, working jigsaw puzzles, and reading is pretty much our jam but it is remarkable how readily we slide into abject sloth. Or maybe it’s just me sliding.

Yesterday we joined the Church of the Pandemic in our living room, watching the Facebook Live stream of our old parish, St. Christopher’s, in Fort Worth. It was good to see Fr. Bill and Fr. Eddie, good hearing the voices of those on Zoom who hadn’t muted their mics as we all prayed the Creed, Prayers of the People, and Confession together. We hope Jesus doesn’t mind that on our makeshift coffee table altar, He was Jewish rye and port, but it’s what we had on hand, and it is swirled rye, after all.

Our altar at the Church of the Pandemic, Sunday March 22, 2020

But this week, we need, certainly I need a schedule, because sometimes the sloth brings fear.

This morning we were up with the alarm, coffee, showers, breakfast. I’ve penciled in my eyebrows, applied mascara, and will actually blow dry my hair in an attempt at looking less Medusa-like. Paul was promptly at his desk at 7:00 a.m., and the first load of laundry was chugging along by 8:00. Today will be laundry, ironing, a tiny project I’ve put off forever, and the careful planning of meals to make our supplies last.

Yesterday I touched base via text message with our surrounding neighbors. Everyone is so far ok and well supplied but one, a teacher, has been unable to see her elderly parents for many days. Her father has Alzheimer’s and she’s the principle relief for her mother. I cannot fathom her worry, her mother’s stress. I gave a prayer of thanksgiving we aren’t worried about our own parents, all gone to their rewards.

It’s been a bit of a game for me, planning meals, even as I realize it is a deadly serious game. I’m planning meals with care, we’re using up every morsel and wasting nothing. While cleaning the bathroom, I reached for the paper towels and stopped myself. Rags will clean glass just as well as paper towels, better sometimes when they are good old rags devoid of lint. These are habits I should have been following all along.

Finding some seed packets from last year, I’ve planted parsley, oregano, basil, and thyme, wishing I had cilantro, and a few more pots to use. In a few weeks, whatever crazy recipes required in this new normal will be, at very least, flavorful.

Wedge salad with home-made blue cheese dressing, bacon bits, green onions and cherry tomatoes.
Chicken meatballs in lemon cream sauce, with capers.

Mostly, having a schedule helps me manage my fears. Fear of Paul or me getting sick – the worst fear being isolated from him, or unable to care for him. Spend too long there and I melt right down. Fear of having not prepared well enough, fear for our animals, fear for my friends, fear for our children scattered across the country. Fear of the political opportunists who seek to grab power, eliminate civil rights, and forever alter the brave, imperfect experiment that is the United States of America.

Making my tick-lists, planning, preparing, turning off the news once I’m up-to-date, and sending God my inelegant, inarticulate prayers, these are all things helping me stay off the ledge. Each evening this week, I will get my day planner and make my list for the day. One foot in front of the other, one day at a time. In a world going mad, it’s the only control I can exert.

How are you staying sane, managing your fear, and staying connected during the Pandemic?

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