The Quarantine Diaries: Week 3

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While we adapt to this new reality of social distancing and COVID-19 quarantines, I’ve been journaling about my experiences. This is the third installment of this series (first post here; second post here).

Monday, March 23

I decided to start setting my alarm this week. I’ve gotten used to sleeping in late; some days just drag on forever, so getting a late start helped them go by a little faster. But now that I’m feeling better and have a massive backlog of work to catch up on, it was definitely time to get back into waking up earlier.

Nevertheless, it was jarring to wake up to an alarm, and I may have hit snooze a few times. But then I got up, showered, put on actual work pants (!!), ate some muesli for breakfast, and headed out on a walk. I’ve been having issues with lower back pain, so I moved slowly and was only able to do a short loop. But it felt so nice to be outside the house, listening to birds singing and dogs barking as I walked through the misty morning air.

On Mondays, I work from home, so the day was filled with conference calls, spreadsheets, and streaming talks. I still dream of the faraway time when I’m able to go back into the office, see my coworkers face-to-face, do my work on two huge monitors instead of toggling between programs on one tiny screen, all the while free from family distractions. Who ever would have thought that these things would feel so precious?

Still, this new routine is starting to feel more… well, routine. The days still have a disconcerting sameness to them, but it did help to try for some semblance of normality. I even got some reading time in! So, I guess that means I’m adapting.

Tuesday, March 24

Last night, our governor issued a Stay At Home order. This didn’t change things for us much, since we’ve largely been sheltering in place already, but I sure was glad that we had gotten out to a nearby creek over the weekend for a little nature time.

fallen logs across a creek line with ferns and mossy rocks

Most of the parks in the area are now closed for the next two weeks. Which got me thinking about our spring break plans. Way back in February, we rented a cabin in a nearby state park, so we’ve been waffling about whether we should cancel. We knew it was the right thing to do, but our kids were REALLY looking forward to it. (Especially since we had coordinated to meet up with some dear friends there. These last few weeks, the kids have been hashing out detailed plans over the phone.) We didn’t want to let them down. And, to be honest, we’ve been itching to get out of the city and were really looking forward to it too.

But, alas, we received an email notifying us that our reservation had been cancelled, since state parks are closed until at least the end of April. It seems silly to be disappointed over such a small and unimportant thing, considering all that’s happening out there in the wider world… but, still. We’re sad that it didn’t work out.

On a happier note, though, I ordered some seeds! Just a few things: lettuce mixes, kale, snow peas. Nothing too ambitious or fancy, but I’m excited to get growing again.

Wednesday, March 25

Another work day for me. (Okay, let’s be honest here: every day is a work day for me as an independent author/publisher with a book coming out soon, but this was work-work at the job that I actually get paid for.) I woke up early again, got some writing in, and went on a nice long walk. For the first time in a week or so, the back pain wasn’t bothering me, and I lasted for more than 30 minutes, hooray!

So the day got off to a good start, but only until I read the news, which sent me crashing back down to reality. I hate feeling so useless here at home, and though I’ve been signing petitions left and right, I have an itchy need to get out of here and help people.

For several years, I’ve been doing data entry for a nearby food bank, and have continued this remotely for now, but I wish I could go help out in person. I can’t yet (need to be symptom free for two weeks first), but even then, I wonder: would this put my family at risk? Then again, if everyone just makes decisions that benefit them individually without weighing the common good, there will be no one to do the work that’s so desperately needed. For now, I’ll be staying home, but I’m sure I’ll be continually re-evaluating this over time.

I talked with my mom and sisters today, the first time that all four of us have ever had a video chat. It was so lovely to see them all, to hear their voices. We’re all spread out over three different states, and I haven’t seen them in person for too long. We were planning on a road trip to visit them this summer. Seems unlikely that this will happen anymore, which makes me sad. Planning getaways now seems like a luxury from a long-ago time. Just one of the many things I never should have taken for granted.

Thursday, March 26

Not sleeping well these last few nights. I’m starting to get cold feet about my book release in June. This is nothing new, really; it comes in waves. I’m always looking for reasons to back out, but lately I just feel SO BAD asking anyone to read this book, with its eerie parallels to this current horrifying situation. So I’ve really slowed down on the promo front.

I’m trying to stay on my current path. Keeping my head down, completing the next task. Burying myself in work-work, seeking comfort in spreadsheets, in music, in cooking and in comedy shows (oh, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, how I love thee). But thinking about the release just makes me feel awful. It’s still a few months away, though. Who knows what will be happening in the world by then.

Friday, March 27

Stayed up late last night having a good conversation with my husband about my book doubts. Sometimes it’s hard for me, really hard, to talk about things that are bothering me, but he wants to listen, to help, to reassure. This always feels miraculous to me. I woke up today feeling a bit better about putting it out there, and was heartened by a few new positive reviews showing up on Goodreads.

Were those reviews a sign from the universe? Who knows. It’s tempting to think so, but with our current reality everything feels so random, chaotic, unpredictable – no patterns emerging, not yet.

We’re in the thick of this pandemic now. Every day brings a fresh hell of news articles, more people not feeling well, more people dying, growing ever closer to my own circles. That sense of omnipresent dread isn’t going away, and I don’t think it will for some time.

I usually write this post for the end of the week after jotting down some notes about what I did each day. But this week it was hard to keep up with, hard to remember which day was which when I looked back on it later. So from here on out I’ll be posting in this series more infrequently, especially since so little has been changing in my personal life. We’re here, together, safe and comfortable and healthy. I’m grateful for every day that this remains true.

The Week in Food

With my back pain subsiding, this week marked my return to the kitchen! I had forgotten just how much I enjoy blasting music while chopping veggies and mixing dough. But it’s really one of my most favorite things in the world.

I decided to try making pupusas one night. It was a total fail, but I quickly pivoted and turned the masa into tortillas instead, which I fried up into really yummy tostadas. We topped them with refried beans; a slaw full of cabbage, carrots, and oregano; a fresh pico de gallo; avocado slices; and a cilantro crema (made with cashews). They were SO GOOD.

tostada topped with refried beans, slaw, salsa, avocados and cilantro crema

The kids made another batch of cupcakes, and we cooked some pizza too. (I hope to post the recipe for our fab vegan pizza sometime in the near future.) But the true kitchen adventure this week was making one of my favorite breads, sangak! This Persian sourdough flatbread is traditionally baked on small stones, so we had to do some improvising. I had been craving this for a while, so I was totally delighted to see that the Caspian Chef had posted a terrific recipe and eagerly set about recreating it. It’s a little labor-intensive, but we all enjoyed working together to make it happen.

Your Thoughts

Have you started to get into the swing of things this week, or are you still adapting? What have you been eating? What aspects of “normal” life do you miss the most? Comment away!

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Janice

    We’ve been doing a lot bread baking and some ice cream making too! (These pass as science lessons for the kids, right?) I miss…too many things to name! But we have been having a nice Easter weekend — something we never really intentionally celebrated before, but I think part of me wanted something “special” to plan, you know? We were supposed to be in Santa Fe this weekend…don’t think PDX in May is happening either. 🙁

    1. Alanna Peterson

      Haha yes, I think kitchen science definitely counts as an educational activity! Yum, now that it’s getting a little warmer I think we’ll need to try making some ice cream too. Glad you’ve been enjoying the holiday weekend. I totally get that–it’s so nice to have something different to break up the monotony. I really miss travel too (this weekend would have been our cabin-in-the-woods getaway, and the weather couldn’t be more perfect), and am likewise sad about no PDX trip in May. Probably no summer road trip for us, either. Guess our “travels” will be limited to virtual explorations and kitchen adventures for the time being…

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