Journal Snippets

March 29th

B and I just finished doing the nightly online yin yoga and guided meditation class with Ellen. In the class, we were to set an intention, and mine was to stop avoiding writing because I don’t know what I could possibly say. This typing is me, trying to act on intention.

March 29th

Like everyone with a Netflix account, we started watching Tiger King, which is rather a perfect documentary since it’s insane and real, but I spent most of the hour wishing every egotistical dumbass on the screen would get the virus instead of John Prine.

March 29th

Allegra says, “Lego people are creepy; they live in houses made out of their flesh.”

March 30th

People keep posting how many days they are into this thing, meaning how many days since their lives changed, perhaps in terms of staying at home and isolating, but I don’t know how to do a count. Perhaps the reality of my Corona experience set in on March 17th, the day we all should have been watching the Nordic ski World Cup races in Minneapolis, but instead, I went to Northfield and packed the contents of Leggy’s dorm room into the car. When we finally got home that night, and B and Paco came out and helped unload her college experience into the middle of the living room, I was reminded that we four know how to be a foursome – the isolated, lonely, magical, transformative year in Turkey forged us in fire. But then, when the car was empty, and I went out to move it from the front of the house, a wave of grief swept over me. It came out of nowhere, as it’d been a good day, full of sunshine and cupcakes and Leggy. And it was devastating. Our girl has found her special place at college, only to be returned to the small dormered room that feels like high school to her. She isn’t going to Russia for a term. She isn’t solo traveling to Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia after Russia. Her internship on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota, planned for six weeks in July and August, has been canceled. This virus clipped her wings.

I sat in the driver’s seat in front of our house and cried for all those canceled plans. I cried because she is home and healthy and safe. I cried because she is so fortunate to have that much to lose.

March 30th

I’ve been peri-menopausal for some months now, some days with 20 or more hot flashes. Sleep is more of a challenge than ever. They don’t tell women much about menopause, but they certainly don’t tell us that heating up and cooling down dramatically all day long is some exhausting shit.

March 30th

The Fender speaker for Paco’s to-be-delivered bass arrived. “I have so much time,” he noted last week. “I miss playing an instrument.” One of his selling points for buying a bass was that he’ll be able to play the Seinfeld theme song.

March 31st

The explosion of Facebook Live and Zoom performances has been a kind of silver lining, as I’ve seen things I wouldn’t have otherwise. Last week, we watched Charlie Parr’s surprisingly well produced performance at Duluth Cider; his Go Fund Me for that show was set at $3,000, and by the next day when I looked, he had over $15,000. Also fun was watching Maria Bamford do Mike Birbiglia’s Tip Your Waitstaff Instagram Live show and, from that, learning that she was offering three “workshopping new material” performances on Zoom, too. We registered for and watched one. It’s fascinating to see a comedian developing new material. She said we could make suggestions in the comments. I only made one (hilariously: that she read Langston Hughes’ “Salvation” because it might give her ideas as to where she wants to go with her bit on performative religiosity), but I could have given her a bunch more notes about the set-up of her Harvard Lampoon bit. For the interested reader: at the start, it needs more context and exposition.

April 1st

Ducks, Newburyport is the most fortuitous random library book pull, grabbed off the shelf a few days before the library closed. It’s about a thousand pages, most of that a single sentence, and its stream of consciousness anxious tone mirrors the way the world is feeling these past weeks. I’d read and shared an interview with Lucy Ellman last month – oh, her fierce intelligence made me laugh – so it’s a joy to have page after page of her brain wrought fiction to occupy a few minutes of each day. Byron’s reading it, too, so we have staggered bookmarks in the thick volume. It makes me think of Laura and Mary reading the same book at the same time, their heads tipped away from each other as each reads the opposite side of a page.

April 2nd

The place that feels most normal right now is my online classes. We’re back to business as usual, and when I’m grading discussion posts, it’s like January again. Adison wrote a wonderful explication of tea and tea making in response to a classmate who didn’t get the phrase of “like making tea in a bucket” used in Memoirs of a Geisha.

April 2nd

The nightly yoga class with Ellen goes so fast. Tonight when she told us to get into a comfortable seated position, I was cross legged on a pillow, eating a piece of Leggy’s birthday cake.

April 3rd

It’s already at the point where I guilt-stream FB Live classes because I can’t bear for teachers to be doing this new thing with no viewers. I want them to feel like someone’s watching even though I’m mostly grading discussion posts and remembering how cool I once thought KC & the Sunshine Band were.

April 3rd

How can it be that there’s only 25% more people in the house, yet we run the dishwasher 200% as often? This is English major math, btw.

April 4th

As the sunlight started to fade, I sat out on the back porch and scooped dirt and planted four trays of zinnias. It’s unclear if nurseries will be deemed “essential” businesses, so I’m going to start a crapton of seeds this year in case I have to rely on only on my own product. Have I started a thousand zinnias yet? No? Then I need to do more.

April 4th

One of my students has emailed to ask:

Can I have a couple more days for the assignments? My nutrition laid on the overload for homework, I am now a teacher to my children cause they are now homeschooled. My 1st grader had 11 things due yesterday. Her homework is triple the amount my 3rd grader. My hours were cut in half, As of Monday, I’m officially laid off. I am having a really hard time breathing right now. I don’t want to just not do my school work but at this point, I’m really drowning. 

After I replied OF COURSE and other nice words, she added:

I am definitely trying, and I’m an alcoholic. I have been sober a year and a half, it feels like I’m on week one again. I’m stressing hour by hour. Change is so hard. I also feel bad for the kids, they are being short-changed by having a mom who can’t do trigonometry 3rd-grade homework lol

Also in student news, I love G. so much. She messaged to say she enjoyed my video about thesis statements, made when we lived in Turkey:

while I watched the video it felt like I was viewing an avante garde Bob Ross episode. “every thesis cave needs a little friend, lets just put a few pidgeon alcoves right here.”

April 5th

Yesterday on Instagram, I posted a picture of Paco next to a sign our neighbors had hung so that everyone going by on the avenue would see it: PRAY HARD. My caption was “Alternately, wash your hands and keep your distance” (#science). I can’t stop laughing this morning at the question posed by a teacher in Belarus: “But why is this slogan on the tree???” It’s a perfect example of one cultural viewpoint shedding light on the nonsense of another.

Byron says all the “positive captioning” we see on signs and even in sidewalk chalked art is the “Live, Laugh, Love” of Corona.

April 5th

Went for a 9.2-mile walk, according to my phone. If I believe my phone, and I don’t really but am choosing to right now, I’ve walked almost 18 miles in the past 25 hours or so. I’m solar powered.

April 6th

No eggs at Super One.

Not many people wearing masks at Super One, either. I used my Buff over my face. Weird to have “first time masked” life experience. Perhaps 10% of the people in the store were following the CDC recommendation to wear a mask.

April 7th

I’ve been typing a lot at the overwhelmed student this morning. She writes:

I don’t know why i feel so lost right now. I have been completing assignments and doing the homework with no problems. As of late im just drowning to move forward and function and I cannot figure out how to catch a break. 

April 7th

Started 72 more zinnias.








4 responses to “Journal Snippets”

  1. Christine Edison Avatar

    Hi Jocelyn, I’ve enjoyed your funny Facebook posts, but these were poignant and heartfelt. Thank you for sharing them.

    I started a blog about social isolation also as part of my library’s outreach efforts and hope to get some comments from people as a way of recording how people are doing right now. Would you mind if I linked to this page?

    1. Jocelyn Avatar

      I just saw your blog the other night! Yes, of course, please link to this page; that’s very kind of you. So fun that we can be reconnected, btw.

  2. Melissa Avatar

    Good luck with the zinnias. I have wondered many of the same things, including about greenhouses.
    And my heart breaks for your girl, too. So many big plans on hold at this time of life must feel especially frustrating.

    1. Jocelyn Avatar

      Thanks for being such a big-hearted reader. It’s nice to know you’re out there. I hope you’re doing well these days.

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