Women Writing History: A Coronavirus Journaling Project

Today is the last day of my 30 day commitment to keep this journal. So I’m looking back at what it’s meant to me. It’s the first thing I do when I get up in the morning and so it’s given me a lot of structure in this structureless time. It’s been something for me to hang on to. It’s given me definition. So I’ve decided that I’m going to continue and do another 30 days. 

On another note, my car is going to be in the shop for over a week getting bodywork done. My insurance company is paying for a rental car, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get it because my drivers license expired on March 20. The DMV is closed so there was no way to renew it. I received a letter from the DMV stating that they extended my license through July 18, but that letter is in the glove compartment of my car which is in the shop. Luckily, Enterprise will give me the car without a current driver’s license because of the pandemic. So I don’t have to go downtown and get the letter out of my glove compartment. Yay!

PS I’m still upset that Hank died on Breaking Bad.

Women Writing History: A Coronavirus Journaling Project

June 30th

I took my car in to get it fixed today and needed to take an Uber home. I was nervous about being in a car where strangers had been but glad to see hand sanitizer in the back seat. I again took an Uber home from my son’s house tonight, and this time the Uber driver had a plastic shield separating the front seat from the back seat and that felt safer.

It was a beautiful day out and got hot and sunny about 5 pm. Tiger and I walked 5.7 miles today, all the way to Forest Hills and through it and back over the hill. Because he’s recently gotten arthritis, I let him direct me in terms of how far he wants to go, and he was tearing it up today. Pretty much everybody wore a mask on the street. Before the pandemic I rarely watched TV, but I have now watched all of Breaking Bad (I’m a latecomer) and I can’t stand that Hank got killed because I loved his closeness with Marie. I loved their relationship. I’m glad Jesse Pinkmam lived. I adored him…

June 29th

Yesterday, I went to a barbecue in Pacifica with my family. This is now my second outing since March. Tiger got to play in a huge backyard and there was a new puppy that he basically ignored. There was a feeling of normalcy about. It was easy to forget, even if only for a little while, that we have a pandemic going on.

In other news, I ran out of brown rice! I only like the short grain kind. I can no longer buy it at Andronico’s because the bins are sealed for health reasons. You can only buy it in the package and they didn’t have any. I went to Safeway, but they didn’t have any either. So I resorted to buying it online. The rice cost me $10 and the shipping $10. In normal times, I could have gotten it at Andronico’s for about six dollars. 

There have now been 2.59 million confirmed cases of Covid in the US and 128,000 deaths. Trump won’t wear a mask. Pence won’t wear a mask.

Women Writing History: A Coronavirus Journaling Project

June 28th

I thought today I’d post two pieces of my writing that were published. The first one is something I wrote for NewPages in response to what people are reading during the pandemic that is helping them. The second is a poem I wrote for 50-word story:

Rereading Jane Eyre

When I go through troubling times, I often reread certain chapters in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. It’s the part starting in Chapter 27 where Jane knows that she can’t morally stay at Thornfield Hall any longer and that in order to be true to herself she must leave Mr. Rochester. On her sad voyage away from him, she loses her money and is homeless and starving and yet her connection to nature and to her God is at its strongest. She carries on, not knowing that she will soon happen upon her long-lost relatives and will later reconnect with Mr. Rochester.

What Jane, or Charlotte Brontë, does for me here is to remind me that when I’m in the middle of a crisis I need to remember to connect to my spirituality in a big way, and also to remember that no matter how bad the situation seems, the future can bring change and that I won’t stay stuck forever. To place this in the present situation, it is necessary for me to remember that the suffering brought about by the pandemic will end.

****

Shuttered

Some things happen

before we understand

what they are 

We are an army of generals

in official denial

“It won’t affect us!”

A cough is released

droplets connect and

converge into waves.

The news becomes

a tragic chronicle

of fallen names

On my street

houses shuttered tight

as darkness falls.

****

June 27th

So yesterday was the first time I saw my friends since last March, three months ago. Inside the botanical garden there were these three benches placed in a small semi-circle and that’s where we sat. (The fourth member of our little group couldn’t make it). It was like the city had secretly known about the pandemic when they’d first built the area and had planned it for social distancing. So we sat on the benches wearing our masks and talked for a couple of hours. It was the first time any of us had been in a social situation since the shelter in place.

One of the things that we talked about was how things would probably never be the same. Handshakes, for example. Will people ever go back to shaking someone’s hand? I doubt it. I think that elbow bumps are going to become the future thing. And will people not be afraid of each other in the future, suspicious that they might be carriers of something? Right now people look at one another as possible carriers of death.

It was hard for me to hear my friends. I am hearing impaired and use hearing aids. I have trouble hearing people without them talking behind a mask, and with one covering their face, it feels impossible at times. “Can you talk a little louder?” I ask. “You’re going to need to shout at me,” I say.

Seeing my friends helped me to realize in a big way that we are indeed in the middle of something that is life-changing. In the past, I never could’ve imagined that we’d be exempt from seeing one another in a restaurant, loudly talking, droplets in the air. I never questioned the status quo. I took a lot for granted.

Women Writing History: A Coronavirus Journaling Project

June 26

Yesterday, the US reported the most cases of the coronavirus for a single day – over 38,000 cases. This is so disheartening. At the same time, the cruel non-president president is trying to put the brakes on aid for testing sites in areas of the country that are hit the hardest. What sense does this make? This joke of an administration is built on meanness and cruelty, doing whatever it can to hurt people, animals, and the environment. Cruelty is its brand. It’s sickening. 

Tiger is doing better after his medical procedure yesterday. The veterinarian had me pick him up five hours earlier than expected. She said he was having a hard time when I brought him in, that he didn’t like being in a kennel. I guess he was barking a lot. He might’ve been having a PTSD attack. He was in a kennel when we got him as a puppy. He might’ve thought he was going back to that. And I assume he was crying and whimpering a lot after the procedure. When I picked him up, he was very disoriented from the anesthesia. I made him a special bed on the couch near the window, but he couldn’t stay there for more than a minute before he got up and walked around and made these sorrowful whimpering sounds. It broke my heart. He’s better now but can’t go for a walk until tomorrow. He hasn’t eaten anything yet.

Women Writing History: A Coronavirus Journaling Project

June 25 

The little things I used to take for granted. Things like meeting my friends at a restaurant. Like walking on the street without worrying that somebody without a mask is going to spread the virus. Like making plans to get together with someone. Like going on a vacation. Like going to work. Like going to a store and buying what I need, not needing to shop online.

I just dropped Tiger off at the vet to get his teeth cleaned. He’ll be there until 5 or 5:30 this afternoon. I know he’s going to be nervous all by himself, but I’m not allowed to go into the building. Hopefully, once he gets all that plaque off of his teeth he will feel better. I’m so nervous today. I pray it goes well.

Women Writing History: A Coronavirus Journaling Project

June 24th

Today is Wednesday. On Monday in California there were over 6,500 new cases of the virus in that one day. At this rate, opening the schools in August looks shaky. Speaking of shaky, there was an earthquake in Fresno this morning. The year of 2020 will go down in history as being just awful. It’s only June too.

One of my friends is so depressed. Another is pretty non-communicative. Three of my women friends and I are getting together on Friday at Golden Gate Park. We are wearing masks, bringing our own blankets and will sit at least six feet apart in the open air. This will be the first time we’ll be getting together since March and we usually get together once a month for dinner, our loud and crazy restaurant selves. 

I’m anxious about tomorrow. I’m taking Tiger in to get his teeth cleaned. His gums have been bleeding and he has gingivitis. He will be anesthetized and I’ll have to sign a form saying that if anything bad happens, the pet hospital will not be liable. I can’t tell you how nervous I am. I’m a worrier by nature and this is really hard for me. The vet had to get special permission to clean his teeth because they are open for essential services only. 

Minority

People always tell me I have a 100-watt smile, that I give off good vibrations. I light up a room. I’m a breath of fresh air. The sun has nothing over me.

I use that smile to hide my rage. Inside, I simmer. I boil. I seethe. The years have worn me down. All the crap I’ve put up with. But there’s something called self-preservation. Yeah. You do what you have to do. That smile has protected me. It’s been my friend. It’s a force I hide behind. My smile is white and bright and it will eat you.

****

June 18, 2020, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary Community: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes good vibrations. What is unfolding? Is someone giving off or receiving the feeling? Where is the story situated? Gather some good vibes and go where the prompt leads!

Women Writing History: A Coronavirus Journaling Project

June 23rd 

I want to say a bit more about what I was talking about yesterday. This whole idea of how the voice gets louder when one isn’t heard, how things escalate. There’s a lot of voices trying to be heard in the United States right now. For example, there are those who refuse to wear masks and see it as taking away their civil liberties, and the more that requirements are laid down, the louder these people become. I’m trying to get inside their heads and understand their thinking. They don’t want anybody telling them what to do. They don’t want anybody dictating their behavior. But what about the common good? What about the fact that not wearing a mask leads to spreading the virus? What about protecting the elderly, those most vulnerable? To me the whole thing spells out selfishness. It resembles a tantrum. Self-absorbed. Self-centered. Self-obsessed. What are they really asking for? Where is that voice coming from?

Women Writing History: A Coronavirus Journaling Project

June 22nd

Our country is broken. We have a dictator in office intent upon hurting as many people as he can. We have a pandemic and people are arguing over there right to not wear a mask. We have mass protests against police brutality and the police are being as brutal as ever, videos or no.

I know what it’s like to not be heard, so I can in some ways relate to the protesters. I grew up in an abusive household. There was physical violence on a daily basis. My younger brother was the scapegoat, receiving most of the violence, but in trying to protect him, violence was meted out to me. I was known as the one who created havoc. No one listened to me when I yelled stop when my brother was being beaten, so I would grab anything I could, like one of my mother’s living room lamps, and threaten to smash it to pieces. This act of threatening to destroy property would get my mother to participate. She’d be yelling at me, and my stepfather would be chasing me out the door with his belt, but this would temporarily stop the violence against my brother. I would get beaten, but not before putting up a good fight.

Nothing I said would stop what was going on inside that crazy household, and so my voice had to get louder. It got louder when I threatened to destroy property, even if that property was just smashing a lamp, but I would get heard even if there wasn’t any eventual change in behavior inside of that house.

We as a country don’t listen to the voices who want equality, but we are very fast to criticize them when property is destroyed.

NUMBER ONE CLUE

Published by Visual Verse in response to the photo below:

There were a lot of things that tipped me off.
This man does not like women.
Did you see the sad look on his dog’s face?
Number one clue.
His other dogs refused to even look at me.
Then there were the cats.
They seemed tense, staring off into the distance as if
Looking for a window they hoped to jump out of.
And all those cages, one upon the other.
More cats, and are those rabbits?
Poor birds, bet they can’t sing.
He calls himself a fancier.
I had to look it up.
He breeds them all.
No wonder they’re unhappy.
My advice to myself — run, don’t walk
Because before I know it,
He’ll have me in a cage too.