Another July essay on pandemic life.
I'm becoming one of those old ladies - one who needs to lie down and rest after showering and dressing and then forgets to brush the back of her hair, flattened by the sofa cushion. During the lockdown, I've been living more like a 90 year old than a 70 year old. "Why not take a nap?" I ask myself, since other than Zoom events, my schedule is rather empty and unfocused.
Especially in the Early Days, I felt frightened, lost and low energy since my former active life in the Before Times suddenly disappeared. Back then, I was always busy networking for part time work, taking classes, volunteering, scouring thrift shops and dollar stores for treasures, visiting the library, the gym and seeing friends. These "in real life" activities were all gone in lockdown mode. I felt safer from the virus by staying home, but I realized I was grieving my former life not knowing how to move forward. I signed up for a Gale Courses online course in Gerontology, and a course in Blogging and Podcasting. I've thought for awhile about doing some kind of online presentation in some aspects of my former work in senior care advocacy. Only my MiraCosta classes and one OPL book club have gone to Zoom, all my "normal" pastimes disappeared. I'd not used videoconferencing before, but I quickly adapted, and I'm thankful for my administrative skills.
I also signed up for a plethora of online "freebie" webinars advertised on Facebook. I'm well aware that these sponsors are collecting email addresses and will torment me with solicitation to buy their programs. But I jumped right in and of course Facebook algorithms jumped on ME by pumping more and more into my newsfeed. Many of these were very worthwhile - meditations, spiritual talks, programs relating to aging and others. My passion for learning new things was not dampened by staying home. I struggled to calendar all these online events and find the proper link, platform and device at the proper time! Over time, that skill has improved and I'm rarely picking through my email inbox for the notification as the presentation is starting.
Being a news nut, I was concerned about the coronavirus situation around the second week of March. I got a haircut and did some grocery shopping, including a big grocery haul from WINCO and some hand gel and Kleenex from Dollar Tree. I started frantically searching for masks and wipes on amazon, becoming more frightened that none were available. I was able to order a large box of nitrile glove, some men's handkerchiefs, hair ties and bobby pins to make a mask, as instructed on Facebook. This was back when the efficacy of masks had not been decided. I have a gaiter thing for rave concerts, a pride bandana, some vintage hankies and some tie on horrible polyester masks in my collection, as well as my go-to collection made by a local friend. I traded her for some extra ground beef I had received in error from my Aldi/Instacart order and some TP.
For the first month or so, I felt like I was living in the stone age - spending my day (online) hunting and gathering supplies, cooking, eating, resting and then doing it again the next day. I didn't go the sourdough route as I've heard on social media was a "thing" but I did plenty of cooking, since there wasn't much else to do and I am a believer in the value of a healthy diet. I've been gluten and dairy free since last December, so this did not make my hunting and gathering any easier. I learned to make very tasty buckwheat flour banana bread. I thought a lot more about my meals, which was kind of amusing.
I had heard about Walmart Grocery curbside pickup and tried my first order around the end of March. There were a few glitches but this online order/curbside pickup feature was handled quite well by Walmart. I'm not a huge Walmart fan, although I do shop there, but they really did a good job finessing the website ordering process and the pickup logistics. I've done this maybe five times. I've only gone into grocery stores a few times, each for about 15 minutes and just for a couple of things Walmart didn't have in stock.
In the Early Days, I spent half the day watching or reading the news. I toggled through the cable channels and listened to all the briefings. I subscribed to COVID-19 free articles in the legacy press - the New York Times, LA Times and the Washington Post which normally have paywalls. All these e-newsletters inflated the contents of my Gmail inbox to the point where I couldn't read and delete fast enough. And my social media addiction, with its Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) aspect beleaguered me as well. I was well informed but mentally and emotionally exhausted from the constant exposure to the data, the public health science geeks, the political strife, and the inconsistent and often bewildering guidance from our elected officials.
In January, I'd started to haul some boxes of collectibles out of my garage in preparation for what was then a May condo complex garage sale. I also dug out my underbed storage containers, full of photo albums. I have made good progress on both, although with donation options still rather limited, I've really just succeeded in moving things around in terms of the donations. I donated one carload of items, but the better items I have to wait until my preferred thrift shop is again accepting donations. On the photo downsize project, I've reduced the albums by half and am still working to finesse the two smallish boxes of keepers. They are now indexed which is a big improvement on random. I really don't want to create scrapbooks or more albums.
This photo project was a real trip down memory lane and every picture sure did tell a story. I could easily write a blog with a message of aging wisdom, using many of my old photographs as ideas.
After cutting my hair in the bathroom since April, I'm getting better at it. I've learned to cut fake layers by watching a YouTube video. Although salons have reopened, I can't bring myself to take the risk. I already have health challenges and thus I firmly believe health is number one in this life. I can look decent enough on Zoom, otherwise, "who cares?"
At the end of May, my following local news paid off - I heard about, applied for and qualified for the Great Plates meal program for seniors, which paid local restaurants $66 per day (FEMA and county funds) to provide and deliver three meals a day to local seniors. The idea was to help support local businesses and keep high risk seniors out of the grocery stores. The restaurant proprietor does a wonderful job of plating tasty meals for us seniors. I'm sure he orders special food for this, since he has an Italian restaurant, not a Denny's and doesn't offer eggs and sausage for breakfast on his menu. All the young delivery people on his team brighten my day and the savings on the necessity of grocery shopping has been much appreciated.