Quarantine Journal (Updated Daily) Days 301-400

We're still sheltering in place. Schools are closed, COVID-19 is ballooning vaccines are going into arms and the U.S. is a fragile dumpster fire entering a new day, but and we're all alive. This journal is a continuation of Days 1-100Days 101-200 and Days 201-300.

Note: I don't edit these posts, so they can be raw.

Day 301: Friday, January 8

Trump is still in office. It's not clear for how much longer, though likely at least until Monday. It's going to be a long weekend.

Meanwhile, hell has frozen over: I have become a regular runner jogger. Also, it turns out that I really like "lightsaber training," so I did some on my own today with my heavy wooden dowel. My neighbor made sure to avert his eyes when he came down to take out the trash, but I am so far past shame. My midichlorian was popping and waving flags.

12 days until Inauguration Day.

Day 302: Saturday, January 9

I just got an email telling me that someone I knew died in December. We weren't super close, and I don't know the details of the man's death, but it's hitting me hard. He was a really kind, lovely human who worked hard to bring beauty onto this planet. He also had a super cute dog that was absolutely devoted to him, and it's hard to imagine them apart. I'm going to miss you, JJ. Your music won't stop ringing.

Before getting this news, we were having a beautiful day with my brothers-in-law and their toddler up in Marin. It's a classic, sparkling Northern California day, and my nephew was giggling with wonder over the way my kids' lightsabers make noise when touched. It's been such a treat to be able to see this part of our family, particularly during the pandemic. It, unfortunately, also took a death to bring them out here. I haven't checked, but I wouldn't be surprised if books on grief are flying off the library shelves these days.

11 days until Inauguration Day.

Day 303: Sunday, January 10

It's been a quiet day everywhere but on the Internet. Which, all things considered, is good. Tomorrow is going to be a big day, though. Let's see if Congress can finally read the room, the book and, most importantly, the sequels to this episode of American White Supremacy--one, two and three.

The biggest news here is that my daughter and husband made fruity pebble treats; it's sort of like eating shampoo pellets with butter, and utterly delightful. I also talked to my best friend, who now lives in a reclusive compound in suburban Oregon--a far cry from where we grew up in dense Chicago--and did some sewing and light weeding. January is normally be the time when I start lining up summer camps for the kids. That seems like a pipe dream this year. I don't know what we're going to do. My son wants to talk about politics all the time, looking for reassurance that things are going to be okay. My daughter has used all the flour in the house in her efforts to make some sort of rubber slime. The fruity pebble balls look like coronaviruses.

10 days until Inauguration Day, one day until another impeachment vote.

Day 304: Monday, January 11

The COVID-19 situation in Los Angeles is terrifying. An unthinkable number of people have the virus, and it's still getting worse. The bottom of the safety net has fallen out. They've run out of room in the hospitals and aren't even bothering to bring some people in for treatment. I'm terrified for the city, and I'm selfishly terrified of how long it'll take the surge to reach San Francisco. California isn't doing well with vaccine distribution, as far as I can tell. Is anywhere in the US?

On the second side of the triangle of worry is politics. Congress began impeachment proceedings today (again), but doesn't have the votes for the Senate to kick Trump out until the new administration is seated. Pence refuses to try to take him down with the 25th Amendment despite the fact that orange dude tried to have his decaying fly trap of a life assassinated. Meanwhile, white nationalists are threatening more violence in DC and state capitols leading up to Inauguration Day. We knew this was coming, but it still feels terrible to be in this moment. More details continue emerge from what happened last Wednesday, clarifying the level of fascist rot lingering and festering in our governmental structures and white culture. The irony that these people were mobbing the very governmental structure that has been built around their needs, and their needs only, never stops punching me in the gut.

On the third side of my current triangle of worry (it's actually a hexagon, but we'll pretend the other crises are less exigent for the moment--they're not) are my kids. My son keeps having back pain and hasn't seen another friend his age in two months or more. He walks around everywhere in a Kylo Ren outfit, leaning on his lightsaber like a cane like an old man because it hurts to use his body. My daughter is doing comparatively better at the moment; she got to run around with a friendly kid at the playground today, which always helps. She's up and down emotionally. January and February are hard even in the best of times. Now: my god is it bleak. I'm terrified of what living like this for another year is going to do to them. There's almost no chance that school is going to be open again next year. The Teachers Union's position appears to be that vaccinating the adults in the buildings won't be enough. They’re demanding toilet seat covers?!! Toilets aside, I get it. Everyone is running scared. I don't know what we're going to do.

In good news, our neighbors have added beautiful, criss-crossing strings of lights across their backyard. I appreciate how much love they're putting into the project. And I start Danish beginner two tonight. Tal med mig om grøntsager. Oh! This is big: the basket hoops are back up on the baseboards at the playground! The courts were packed tonight.

Nine days until Inauguration Day.

Day 305: Tuesday, January 12

Moods continue to plummet in our house. I’m fine. I’ve reached a place of calm and one step-forward-at-a-time-ness for the moment. My daughter just had a big crying meltdown over the sloppy job she did cleaning up her lunch after a second one earlier today over something else equally small. My son’s back continues to hurt him, which has put him in a cranky mood. I took them on an early forced march through the neighborhood’s steepest staircases (there are many) in the hopes that it would brighten their moods. It helped, but only a little. Right now I’m playing Happy Cat Music—a whole genre of music, it turns out—which makes the room feel like an exceptionally peaceful spa. Our cat does, indeed, look happy.

A group of elected officials across a few different bodies announced a plan today to create a task force to create an unfunded plan for how to make public schools work better for all kids once they reopen, at some hypothetical asymptotic future. Everyone involved looks very pleased with themselves because, yay, we’re all working together, and that’s what’s most important. It’s classic San Francisco politics. No commitment of city money (cough cough, bloated police budget), no hard legislation actually doing the one thing that would halve the work of the task force, which is find a way to reopen schools safely asap. One of the legislators evenly openly admitted that a full reopening next fall is “aspirational.” The whole thing would be (darkly) funny if it wasn’t messing so hard with my kids right now, and yet more indication of our government’s capability to tackle the endless series of hard decisions yet to come.

In legit good news, there seems to be some movement on removing Trump from office before the new administration takes over. Hopefully? Maybe? The white nationalists are promising more violence in most states, so the sooner, the better. This cat music is making me feel hopeful, so I’m going to go with that. Also, there was a gentleman playing solo basketball on his big electric wheel thing at the playground today. It looked mad fun, and I felt really happy for him.

Eight days until Inauguration Day.

Day 306: Wednesday, January 13

Twice impeached has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? The House has voted and 10 Republicans broke ranks to vote like a human, too. It remains to be seen what will happen with the Senate. No Senate vote to remove, no real consequences. I have no idea what to expect. Meanwhile, capitol hill is full of army soldiers and Congress now has to pass through a metal detector to get into the building, just like a high schooler. It's shocking to me that this is a new thing, and that some of them have the gall to be horrified by the experience.

Over on this side of the continent, the sun is back out today, and southern California has a fire wind storm warning (in January--great sign). I went jogging to shake off early morning vertigo, and felt much brighter than yesterday. This afternoon, I walked down the hill with my kids to our local toy store to pick out gifts for my nephew. He's turning two, which is just fabulous. In fact, we're all kind of living for his upcoming birthday this Sunday, which we're hosting in our backyard. I'm going to make the cupcakes; everyone is excited about the sprinkles involved. Literally everyone. 

On our walk today we met a friendly street cat my daughter has decided to name Socks, and then startled a window cat deep in delicious, eye-level sleep. The feline density almost made up for the two crying jags my kids had earlier today over school stuff. I'm choosing to focus on the good feelings and burst of productivity that comes from running fast enough to almost forget it feels like the world is ending.

Seven days until Inauguration Day.

Day 307: Thursday, January 14

The country remains intact, albeit by duct tape. Biden just announced a new stimulus and vaccination plan. I didn't see any details so it may not be a good plan, but it's probably better than the no plan we have now. The vaccine rollout appears to be a mess in California, including SF. I have to keep reminding myself that it doesn't have to be that way, that we can expect government to actually work properly. I've gotten rusty with my imagination.

There's no big news here in our house. The sun was out and it was sort of warm today. I picked up our farm box, which had a lot of broccoli and a yam. I don't think the kids cried today, so that's a win. My husband got us some new N95 masks because he's gotten really worried about his exposure to the new virus variant at the grocery store every week. I fully support his paranoia. He's in there for an hour every Sunday, doing the weekly shopping, which is a long potential exposure time. On my own end, I'm going to stop making any sort of extra shopping trips, and stop going to the track. It's been fun to go there and enjoy a flat running space, but it's a surprisingly dense field of adults running without masks, which doesn't seem wise right now.

This morning, I got up extremely early to (virtually) tour some other in-person school options for my kids. I love our school district and believe deeply in public school as a key building block of a healthy and just civilization, but there is no way we're going to make our kids do two and a quarter years (or more) of distance learning. That's my line that I'm not willing to cross. No one should be asking kids to stay in distance learning after teachers and staff are fully vaccinated. I don't know what our solution is going to be, this school or something else that isn't schooling but still gives them a chance to be around other kids on a constant basis. I'm not remotely worried about learning loss or falling behind or any of that whatever, I'm trying to solve for mental and physical health at this point. We're still in the information gathering phase, but save the vaccine not working for adults and/or a successful coup, there's absolutely no way we're doing another year of kids in total isolation. That's my line. I've tried advocating, but it feels like there's no good path forward anymore; there’s too much—justified—racist baggage and not enough agreement on what the science says. The political lines are drawn parallel and no one has the tools to turn them into a circle.

Six days until Inauguration Day.

Day 308: Friday, January 15

San Francisco is magic. It’s a (probably inappropriately) warm day, and I took a lunch ride out to the ocean and back. When I moved here 13 years ago, I never thought I’d fall in love with it the way I did New York, but goddamn. This place with its blue sky and laser sun is all the way up in my bones. And it’s always a little embarrassing how a beautiful day here can make all the mess rattling around in your head vaporize. Or at least cook down into something manageable. To live here is to be light for endless stretches, particularly compared to heavy places like Chicago and Philadelphia.

Anyway, world still standing, some yelling with the kids, but slightly less grumpiness than earlier in this week. Our cat is 100% living his best life.

Part of the Trump legacy has been to create a lot more distance in many relationships, for better or worse. In my case, I have felt distinct air between me and my husband, not for lack of love or political disagreements, but because he was not worrying and imagining the things that have made these last four years so terrifying for the tuned in. He was shocked that I thought there would be a coup attempt. He considered it when the realm of a possible but as likely “as an alien invasion”—and this is a man who reads a lot of science fiction. Anyway, there’s no comfort in trying to explain to someone why you’re so worried when they think an alien invasion is just as likely, so it’s pretty much inevitable that you’re going to grow a little bit apart, despite best efforts. 

My best friend, of course, absolutely understood, likely deeper than me because of who she is. Either you have experience with being keenly aware of how far abusive men and their enablers will go because your safety has been at stake, or you don’t. A good number of Democratic women—and some men—did, many more so than me. It was deep in our bodies, and being able to talk to each other about these fears has been essential for our mutual mental health along the way. So, now it’s time for people like my husband to catch up. I’m hoping his dawning awareness will help close that little air space that has kept us slightly apart over these last four years. Because nope, it didn’t feel good to feel like I was being the crazy one. That sh*t did happen (and is continuing to happen), just like so many of us told you it would. It was, in fact, crazy to ignore all the warning signs. Now we can be crazy together, though, here in our magical sunshine city by the ocean.

I think it’s going to be a beautiful sunset.

Five days until Inauguration Day.

Day 309: Saturday, January 16

I went to the Zoom memorial service today for my friend who died in December. I would not say that small Episcopal churches are the best fit for smooth adoption of Zoom, but we got through the service and it was lovely in many unexpected ways and cathartic. If anyone is feeling entrepreneurial and a little tasteless, there’s probably a lot of money to be made running high-quality remote non-religious grief sessions today and for years to come. I think I might attend those, too. I hope Biden and Harris try to address that need in some way soon. We need those words right now.

My husband went with his brother to visit their mother’s grave today. She’s died 10 years ago and her memorial service was on top of a hill, on a beautiful blue Northern California day. Today it’s smoky thanks to wildfires in Southern California. I’m sorry she’s gone and I’m especially sorry that she never got to meet her granddaughter or newest grandson, but I’m not sorry that she missed living through this time.

The advice at the memorial service today was to celebrate life while we still live. So, I’m not sure if this counts, but we made the cupcakes with sprinkles for my nephew’s impending second birthday party this afternoon. Though she participated in the baking (in her own way), my daughter was still genuinely surprised and delighted to split open a mini-cupcake and see the riot of color at the end. I hope the birthday boy absolutely loses his mind when he sees them tomorrow, though it’s OK if he doesn’t. Life is all the emotions, even when you’re two.

Four days until Inauguration Day.

Day 310: Sunday, January 17

My nephew is adorable. He experienced every possible thrill available in our backyard with utter joy and wonder this morning, and left with loud plastic toys and cupcakes in tow, ready to NAP. Remind me to throw more birthday parties for two-year-olds. For the life of me, I can't remember my kids being that young or easygoing. One of them just stomped around and slammed doors upstairs over something or other. This will be a short post.

It's beautiful outside. Warm and clear blue. The country hasn't had another terrorist attack (update: my bad, men with guns are surrounding the Michigan state capitol). One of our local SF Supervisors is up to something shady with police non-reform. Our cat got into a fight and lost another collar. I'm making bread and working on policy. It's a good day to be alive and activated.

Three days until Inauguration Day.

Day 311: Monday, January 18

There’ve been a lot of sirens in my neighborhood at night. There was a period earlier in 2020 when that happened, too, but then it abated. The last week has again been an explosions of sirens in the dark. I don’t know if these are ambulances heading to the nearby hospital or police cars or some combination thereof, but it’s been the anti-lullaby.

It’s high of 70 today and crystal clear today, which means that it feels like 83 in the sun and 69 in the shade; winter took a vacation. There’s no school because of the holiday, so I took my kids down to Golden Gate Park to ride bikes and enjoy the heat. It was packed. I have been going to the car-free section of GGP for 13 years on a regular basis, and I have never seen it that busy. People were oozing in and out of every crevice of space. Big especial love to people dancing along to some exercise video on their iPad by the flower conservatory; they looked like they were having a deep club moment.

For us, the bike ride to and from the park used to be a challenging but doable ride for both my kids pre-pandemic. (It’s straight uphill on the way home.) They’ve gotten so out of shape, though, that even riding on the flats in the park was a big production today. There was a certain amount of whiiiiiining. They got into it eventually, of course, and my son made it all the way back up the hill under his own power, but it’s a notable change. Hills, the natural frienemy. I appreciated the hell out of my daughter’s afternoon mango “ice cream” creation; I didn’t even mind doing all the sticky clean up. That’s a lie. I did mind. A lot.

Country’s still intact.

Two days until Inauguration Day. Happy reclaiming MLK’s radical/honest truth Day.

Day 312: Tuesday, January 19

The nation may be holding its breath right now, but nature is not. Last night, the Bay Area collectively lay in bed awake, listening tensely to a furious wind storm. My replacement front yard rainbow spinner is now deceased. Small wildfires have broken out up and down California's coast, in places that are usually wet during January. It's ... not good, though the air quality in the city hasn't been impacted.

In DC, the incoming administration launched a small memorial installation to begin to grieve the people we have lost so far to COVID-19. I had to stare at the photos for a while. It's almost shocking to see a federal government care; it was beautiful, and otherwordly. It's not clear to me whether we've seen the impact of the new strain of coronavirus yet here in SF. The latest numbers show a plateau, but it doesn't yet feel like good news. If Biden and Harris live through tomorrow's inauguration ceremony, I hope that they'll kick the vaccination program into high gear fast enough to fend off the new strain burning down the rest of the nation; San Francisco runs out of vaccines on Thursday. But first they gotta live. I have no idea what to expect from tomorrow. I want to watch the ceremony, but I also don't, just in case. I probably will watch. How can you not?

No big news in this house today. Distance learning means walking into the kitchen at noon to wonder why the cat's bed has migrated across the house to the dining table, and why there are bowls and bowls of vaguely chocolatey, starchy goop plus blue food dye splattered all over the island. Or, rather, you know why. You just don't know why.

Inauguration Day is tomorrow--holding my breath.

Day 313: Wednesday, January 20

They lived! No one blew up the inauguration or otherwise staged an assassination or coup. Trump is gone, bye bye. It would feel more real if we didn't experience everything through the Internet, but it's absolutely real. Goddamn.

Day 314: Thursday, January 21

I am slowly adjusting to this new world. I can't say that I feel elated or free or any of that stuff, but I do feel like I abruptly have so much more time and space to imagine and do things. I don't feel the compulsion to spend long hours on Twitter anxiously obsessing over whether my deepest worries are true/looking for hope that someone is in the process of stopping that bad thing. In fact, Twitter is downright boring right now, maybe minus the Bernie memes. It's so weird. It feels like walking down stairs and stepping accidentally into air. It's not a bad feeling, just a reclaiming of emotional and creative space that I had forgotten I had. I suddenly want to write funny things. I've always preferred spending my energy on local government stuff, and now I can. I don't need to know the intricacies of federal policy and politics. I can work wholeheartedly on local issues. It's a blessing. It's so quiet.

To celebrate the new era, I rode out to the beach and watched the waves for a bit. I remember the tense feeling that took over my body the first day after Trump won; the MAGA guy who yelled something gloating on Market Street. Everyone looks so much calmer outside now. We're all walking around a little looser, a little more capable of imagining the world not ending. Hell, maybe Biden's administration really will manage to get schools open safely for next fall. I'll believe it when I see it, but I can suddenly imagine it now in a way that felt impossible just a week ago.

I'm getting used to this feeling. I'm getting used to the sense of possibility.

There's nothing to count down to anymore, except getting vaccinated and then to herd immunity, but lord knows I have no idea how long that will take. Instead, I'm going to celebrate the beginning of more time-less days. This pandemic may actually end.

Day 315: Friday, January 22

A friend just let me know that she got COVID-19 over the holidays. I've written about her and her incautious boyfriend here before, and if you read that, you'd understand why I'm not surprised. I guess the boyfriend contracted the virus while playing (presumably, indoor and maskless) tennis, gave it to my friend and then they both proceeded to go to Christmas dinner with dude's parents. Miraculously, his parents are fine. He is fine. My friend is fine, probably, too. But allow me not to like the boyfriend (while still wishing my friend all happiness and love). How do you make someone have common sense? Or care for other people?

In happy news, I'm signed up for notifications with the city about when I'll be up for the vaccine. My heart leapt to hear that the Department of Health thinks the city can vaccinate all eligible adults by the end of June 2021, assuming they get more vaccines. That is hope! Meanwhile, the running jogging is getting easier. I know longer feel like I'm oozing along the sidewalk, slower than a traffic light, getting no exercise. This is a lighter life than a week ago, even if the dreams and work remain the same. I have that old feeling I used to get, pre-Trump, where I just want to roar and get into the work. I may be party of one there, but that doesn't bother me in the least. When I was younger, I used to feel like I was going to burst into flames with my energy and desire to make good things happen. Just go up in fire. I've missed this me.

Day 316: Saturday, January 23

My daughter seems to be having some more anxiety. She hasn’t been sleeping well, which has made the already overwhelmed relationship with her brother even more fragile. They’ve just had to spend too much time together. Sometimes they’re best friends, dream team solving problems. Other times, it’s slamming doors and screaming. Normal sibling stuff, to be sure. But because we’re together all the time, there’s just more of it, and it’s more distilled and potent when things go bad. 

My husband took my son to hang out with a friend in McLaren Park today while I took my daughter on our usual Saturday morning walk down to the park and back. It was a good opportunity to talk through her particular anxieties, which are currently focused on someone breaking into our house. There’s been a few small things happening, including someone smashing up a bunch of windows of businesses in our neighborhood again, which are stoking her imagination. She feels glad she has an x-acto knife near at hand (I may be letting her read too much dark fantasy). I think I talked her down from her concerns (and knife fetish) while not minimizing them, but we’ll see. Her concerns continue to morph as this long national nightmare continues. Strong rain, violent winds, intruders. I want to dismiss her worries, but I once spent a long night gripping a carving knife in the stairwell of my apartment building when I was in high school because I was home alone and it was incredibly windy—and people had broken into our home before and there was a bullet hole in our front window when we moved into the apartment, and and and. So I get the instinct. I hope she can live a lighter life, though. We all hope that for our kids. To state the obvious, this pandemic is not helping.

Our home currently reeks of the “Drakkar Noir” candle she gave me for Christmas; I need only a container of Noxema pads to make the experience complete. I hope she associates the scent with peaceful brain waves. She recently agreed to again try using the furry bean bag we bought her for Christmas, and took away after something gave her hives. It took a lot of negotiation, but she agreed to let it out of exile in my closet. It then spent a couple of weeks proving harmless in my room, then a week in the living room being appropriated by a very happy cat, and now it’s back in her room. The cat’s utter devotion to the thing was really the clincher. He appears to rediscovered his primal mother. God this candle is ... a lot.

Day 317: Sunday January 24

The rain has come, in a big way. It's beautiful. Today was a quiet one, mending things and catching up with friends across the country and globe. I know I've said it before, but I can't get over how much lighter I feel since the Inauguration. The vertigo has gone away and there's so much more space in my brain and heart. I literally feel light. Even the things that wake me up in the night are lovelier. The other night, I wandered out of bed in the deep dark hours, confused to be hearing an open fifth with an octave high above coming from somewhere--aka, spa/alien music. I assumed the sound was one of my kids' radios or an errant electronic device, but it ended up being some mysterious street noise that eventually faded. It was extremely weird, but inexplicably nice.

What else? I've finally understood what all successful writers must know: you're not a writer, you're a storyteller, and all good stories are about the character. When I started working on novels a few years ago as an emotional outlet for what was going on at the time, I assumed all writing was about writing. About a clever turn of phrase or perfect metaphor. Or about plot or concept, adherence to story beats. It's really not, though, is it? (Unless, I suppose, you're an essayist.) Successful novelists are all about the storytelling, not the writing. The rest falls in. I'm staring that in the eye for now, but I'm not frowning.

The rain is drumming on the windows and my husband made mulled apple cider. It's a delight.

Day 318: Monday, January 25

We're having some Weather over here. It's already extremely windy, and meteorology Twitter is forecasting snow in the central Sacramento valley. If you know anything about California, you know how utterly bizarre it is to expect snow in the Sacramento area. It's really never a dull state.

Speaking of which, Governor Newsom is lifting the stay at home orders for the state and allowing outdoor dining again, and some other commercial activity. I never thought I'd say this, but I've become honestly confused as to what is safe and what's not these days, particularly with the vaccine in play. I'm trying to pay attention, but the federal government mismanagement of the pandemic has forced us all to become armchair epidemiologists, and there's just an over abundance of contradictory information now. Newsom seemed like he was on top of the science at the start, but it's become very clear that politics rules his decision making, so I don't get the sense that I can trust what's coming from the state health folks. Oy. Thank god for our steady-handed mayor. Still, I can't wait for the new federal government to take over the airwaves on COVID-19 facts and science. I hope it's not too late.

It's an average (pandemic) Monday here otherwise. The police reform organization I've been volunteering with had a press conference this afternoon, and there's a key Board of Supervisors hearing tomorrow, so by average I don't mean quiet. Meanwhile, the cat continues to sit in the backyard and stare at the fence for long stretches of time. Can this be interesting?

Day 319: Tuesday, January 26

There are many times when I write these journal entries that I want to qualify any complaint or hard incident/period with “but my life is still a barrel of kittens compared to huge swaths of the city, country and world!” The kitten effect. I try not to be tedious here and add it to every entry, but do feel like it’s important to say this explicitly every once in a while. Kitten effect: We’re alive, we’re housed, our house has heat and food, we’re not in dire financial straits, we have an (occasionally) delightful cat. We have puzzles. We’re good. Even when we’re not, we’re good.

This qualifier has been especially present in my mind when I try to parse my feelings about the continued public school closure here, and what to do about my kids being so miserable. Black kids have been through far, far, faaaar worse in this country over the centuries trying to get an education. And it’s not like in person school is free from all those same problems. So, what feels inconceivable to me and other white parents—that schools wouldn’t be open to take our kids—is fully thinkable for Black and Brown families. I’ll be honest, it’s a hard thing to stare at if you’re a white parent, but we gotta look, no matter what path we choose to ultimately walk. Kitten effect. 

In less abstract news, today/tonight was a Board of Supervisors hearing on SFPD oversight. The organization I volunteer with did a great job of getting some hard, uncomfortable truths in front of the Supervisors. There’s going to be nothing but uphill work tomorrow and beyond, but I’m feeling appreciative of this moment. Doing work for that group gives me life. That said, attempting to peel and deep fry tempura shrimp with my kid at the same time as listening to the public hearing and being ready to give public comment, was a lot. No one got burned, but there’s a reason why I sounded like I couldn’t read my own writing. Still, kitten effect. It’s raining like someone invented rain tonight.

Day 320: Wednesday, January 27

The crankiness in this house is boiling over. My kids spend their days on an emotional rollercoaster, fighting with each other over the smallest thing then best friends a minute later. My daughter is making drama and my son is escalating. We've talked about it a million times, walked through endless techniques and intentions to avoid the drama and escalation, but they keep telling me that it's being on top of each other 24/7 that's driving them nuts. There's nothing I can do about it, though. This is January disease x COVID-19 + cold driving rain.

Our house also reeks of old shrimp. It was my brilliant idea to make tempura last night. It was sort of good, but now our house smells so nasty. I'd almost prefer to have the wildfire smoke back; not really. I went for a run earlier today, which helped clear out of the stink out of my nose, and my head. I'm hoping no one cries again during dinner. No wonder all those old aristocratic English kids sequestered in their cold, dripping nurseries with their siblings and governesses turned out so morally brittle in the books. It's a cruel way to raise children.

I have to say, though, I love this gothic weather. Of course, it's completely destroying other parts of the state. It's crystal clear that the climate crisis has opened our door, walked in, grabbed the remote and taken over the couch. I don't know how this is going to be the roaring 20s if people's homes keep getting destroyed each month. Or is that a different kind of roar?

Day 321: Thursday, January 28

There's some sort of hedge fund trader/Reddit scandal going on. I should probably be paying more attention to it, and other things, but a) I had to give my son a mental health day today after yet another rough morning and b) the school district sent out a notice last night saying they wouldn't be opening middle or high schools at all this year, and the parenting Internet has exploded once again.

It was my husband's day to oversee my kids' distance learning but we both agreed that it would be good for me to take my older kid out on an extended walk. He was fairly ok this past fall, but he's been having more and more meltdowns since the holidays. Quiet and obedient with his schoolwork, but big reactions to things at home. He always says he's fine. He's private like that, and wants to be tough, but it's clear that he's not. So I put headphones on him, plugged him into his favorite Paula Poundstone podcast, and me, my kid, Paula and his lightsaber walked down to West Portal and back. I took it as a good sign that he took the headphones off halfway there because he wanted to talk. It was nice to see a brighter light in his eyes. I think we've crossed the Rubicon here and are going to enroll both our kids in a day camp where they'll do their school stuff but also, more importantly, be around other kids. Assuming there's spots. He is so excited about the prospect.

Which brings me to schools. I feel like I've written so much about this, but I can't emphasize how central they are to our entire family for so many reasons. The situation is an absolute mess. The school board here is excellent at some/many important things, but not at getting operational issues done is not one of them. Instead, we're just getting endless slogans. The emperor has no clothes when it comes to problem solving and action--in this specific area. These are absolutely solvable issues, but I don't know, they can't seem to do it. Other things, they're knocking out of the park. 

Meanwhile, all kinds of reactionary white and white-adjacent parents (including the awful ex-husband of a friend) have been coming out of the woodwork and screaming at them endlessly, conflating the Board's desire to tackle the dismantling of anti-Black racism in the school with their inability to figure out how to open schools. In other cities, it is perfectly possible to do both at the same time. It's not an either/or. It also doesn't help that much of the teachers union rhetoric is also empty slogans. They have a lot of sympathy from some folks right now, but I suspect that it's going to turn real fast into anger if/once unions continue to block full reopening after mass adult vaccination. I am f*cking furious at the whole situation, especially all the slogans that aren't backed by action, rolled-up sleeves, problem solving. These were solvable issues. These could have been solved. Someone just had to be willing to do the work.

Anyway, it's looking more and more likely that we're going to have to dis-enroll next fall and find another solution. Maybe Mayor Breed will come through and open even more learning hubs instead, for families who want them. Something. Something needs to happen. Public education is falling apart in slow motion in San Francisco and across the nation, and it will not recover from this moment, not with other crises that keep compounding on top of the pandemic and perpetual defunding of education. And when public education dies, so does this country.

Day 322: Friday, January 29

It’s done. On Monday, my kids will go to a day camp that will make sure they do their school stuff but also give them a chance to be around other kids all day. We went whole hog and signed them up for aftercare also. It’s not cheap, painfully so, but we’ll see how it goes for a month and reassess if it’s worth continuing. Meanwhile, my kids are nervous but excited. I think the idea of meeting new kids after so many months of isolation is daunting; those skills rust if out of use. Anyway, I feel good about the decision. It’ll be a huge change of pace for us to have a commute again, and pack lunch and snacks and all that. I’m going to have to get up much earlier. It feels good, though. I’ll try to remember that when the alarm clock goes off on Monday morning.

Unsurprisingly, the school opening debate rages on on the Internet, smooshed together with the renaming effort blowback. There’s all kinds of movements now, from extreme recall efforts to petitions to floated charter amendments to get rid of the school board or change its composition, etc. What a (avoidable) sad mess. In a normal year without the need to get kids back in schools, the School Board would have been progressive heroes for the other stuff they’ve been doing (I’m a fan of a ton of their other work). It’s not a normal year, though, and it’s never going to be a normal year ever again.

So if I were a non-School Board elected official in a blue city or state, I would be paying very close attention to this right now as an example of what happens when a huge segment of comfortable Democrats who normally support you revolt en masse because you’ve failed to deliver on core services or human decency when they are in crisis. See also: DeBlasio. There’s a lot more complexity and shades of gray to the particular situation here, of course, but I’m going to call it: the time of the sloganeering elected officials is beginning to end. It just doesn’t cut it anymore, not during a pandemic or climate crisis on top of all the other festering inequalities and cruelty. You have to deliver. I keep thinking of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs song, “Heads Will Roll.”

In happier news, Dr. Fauci is saying that there might be a kid vaccine for older kids available sooner than expected. Fingers crossed. My older kid joining a super cool D&D group (note: this is sarcasm), and my younger has been making some intense self-portraits.

Day 323: Saturday, January 30

It’s already become too easy to forget that a fascist mob tried to take over the capitol and execute elected officials just a few weeks ago. It’s not helping that there appears to be little momentum to dole out any consequences in DC. It’s ... disturbing.

As I write this, though, I’m staring at puffy purple-tinged clouds still in a blue and orange sky. It’s gorgeous. The whole day was gorgeous; the weather here is a large part of why it’s so easy not to make big changes. We get distracted, like cats with lasers. Ooh, sun. Grass for a picnic. That’s absolutely what I did today with my son. I took him down to the car-free section of Golden Gate Park and taught him to ride the cargo bike that I’ve been hauling him around in for most of his life. He’s 5’5” ish now and the bike is still a tad too big to handle with total ease when he’s walking, but he’s apparently now perfectly capable of riding it down to the ocean and back. God, the ocean was gorgeous today. All of the park and Great Walkway were gorgeous.

Since my kid was so keen on riding the bike (it has a lot of power) and took off without me, I ended up running a lot more mileage than I have in literally decades. After the initial coaxing of the reluctant body, it felt surprisingly amazing. I used to love going for miles and miles, skimming on the surface, taking in the world back in my 20s; I don’t even hurt now, which is a revelation. We ended up sitting in the flower conservatory garden, being ridiculous for part of the afternoon. There was a man doing yoga in booty shorts and a mask—and nothing else—in a flower bed. There was a guy juggling, two dudes in green trash bags who zipped over doubled up on an electric scooter in order to meet up with other people in green trash bags. There were dogs, there were new cargo bikes with fascinating designs, sun, kids, us being silly. This is probably why we forget so easily. It was a damn lovely day.

Still, that mob attack was real. It sure would be nice if Congress held some hearings.

Day 324: Sunday, January 31

Well, the backpacks are all packed, the new morning schedule written up on the fridge and lunch bags dusted off and ready. My husband is off doing the weekly grocery shopping, hopefully going nuts with the snack list. My son is a dangerously picky eater and my daughter a serial, leisurely all-day snacker. She works through bags of frozen fruit and weird guacamole mixtures, or all the chocolate in the trail mix, while she’s in her Zoom classes. That won’t work at camp. So it feels a bit like the night before the first day of daycare, when you’re not convinced your particular kid will be able to learn to nap on a cot, like all the other toddlers. (Spoiler: they do.)

I wonder how clear it is to many people that the next two to four years, and our current roster of politicians, are our last hope to keep the project of this country going. If we fail to make big enough changes in the next few years, it’s hard to imagine this country having any more future. Not with the full-body assault of the climate crisis barreling down on us, too. Our cities and states can probably eek out a few more years after that if we dissolve, but it’ll be violently tumultuous. So, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Gavin Newsom. Only one of those names gives me any kind of confidence. But I hope they’re up to it anyway. I really, really hope.

Day 325: Monday, February 1

Today was the day. We got up early, had an actual commute and by 9 am, I was on my way back home with no kids in tow. They were excited but nervous going in, and absolutely starving and destroyed coming out at 5 pm. As predicted, the biggest shock was the lack of constant access to unlimited food; they just didn’t eat enough. We’re going to double the amount they bring tomorrow and my husband is going to bring emergency snacks when he picks them up at the end of the day. We’ll keep doubling until they start bringing extra food home at the end of the day.

Outside of the food issue and some other logistical challenges, it sounds like it went pretty well. My son had trouble concentrating and getting any schoolwork done, which is also predictable. He learns a lot more academically at home, always has. But it’s social learning that we’re solving for here, so whatever. My daughter has yet to stop eating enough to tell me much more about her day, so she as yet remains a mystery beyond that she made a friend, that they don’t let them do game time on site and she doesn’t want to do after care. Also, yes, my son has already lost his lunch bag, a charger cord and a jacket. So, a semblance of normal.

At home, it was strange but lovely to be without our kids for long hours. Our cat had a wonderful day of uninterrupted sleep and there are far, far fewer dishes to do. Also, it was <quiet>. One of the classes at the camp is in quarantine for a week because of a positive COVID-19 test for two of the kids; their parents and siblings have all tested negative. Reading the e-mail definitely gave me pause, but I feel good about all of the cautionary health protocols they have in place and don’t plan to pull them. Part of the school reopening debate sometimes devolves into fights about what can be learned from local schools and camps that are open. People who want to open schools will say that the health department says there have been no COVID-19 outbreaks at the school/camp, then people who don’t support reopening will say that people are lying because they know of cases of COVID-19 at these schools and camps, so we can’t trust the Health Department. It’s a fine point, but both of these things can be true, because individual cases does not necessarily mean outbreaks. The Health Department is using specific language. With better, centralized leadership, we could have avoided these kinds of misunderstandings, and we’d be just as fluent with stuff like this as we are with the difference between a Netflix subscription and renting an individual movie on Amazon.

Whew. It’s raining again now, and cozy. I don’t know whether we’ll do the camp again in March or beyond, but I’m glad we’re trying it now.

Day 326: Tuesday, February 2

Day two of camp and we seem to be over the food hump. Now we’re on to the shock of dealing with other kids after almost a year of isolation. My daughter was annoyed about some loud kids and my son got tackled by a spirited kindergartener. Both made some friends, too. My initial reaction to hearing all the camp drama was oh no, but then I realized that all these tiny frictions are exactly why we’re sending them out in the world right now. Theoretical social emotional learning is pretty useless, and they need to unearth all the skills they used to be in the process of refining for how to deal with other kids, the good and the hard. Hearing their reactions to re-entry, though, drove home for me how difficult it’s going to be for 54K kids to be back in school together again, if/when that ever happens for our public school district. There’s going to be a lot of re-entry turbulence.

There’s a coup underway in Myanmar, somehow eclipsed by a video of a woman doing aerobics. My son is having really bad, persistent back pain. I went for a run. There are a couple of new mass vaccination sites up and running in neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID-19. This is a quiet, new 2021 normal.

Day 327: Wednesday, February 3

I was up, unable to sleep, last night because one of my friend's children is talking about suicide. This child is like one of my own. I've known them since they were tiny. 

When parents are telling you that their kids are not ok in perpetual distance learning, please take them seriously.

It's a police commission night for me.

Day 328: Thursday, February 4

I don't know how to talk about my friends' kid who's struggling so badly. The child is still alive and the parents are getting as much help for the child as possible. I hope so hard that they make it through this experience, every experience. This was once an exceptionally sunny kid. We've all lost so many things in this pandemic. It could not be any clearer that we do not value children in this society. We are in such a collective mess. Yesterday, the City Attorney, with the mayor's blessing, resorted to suing the SF School District for not having any sort of real plan to open schools. Maybe it'll finally bring the right people to the table and make something happen, maybe not.

I appreciated Nikole Hannah-Jones' tweets about how all sides of the national school reopening debate are using the welfare of Black and Latinx students as a cover for their arguments. It's absolutely true in SF that the majority of parents actively working on school reopening are white women, though the actual student population is majority students of color. We know who's on the school board, and who's in leadership at the school district staff. After reading Hannah-Jones' tweet, I also looked up the racial breakdown of teachers in San Francisco. It's clear that the Teachers Union leadership has taken pains to make sure its bargaining team is racially diverse, but the actual composition of the union sort of tracks with the demographics of the city, not the far more diverse student population. About 50% white, 20% Asian, 15% Latinx, 2% Black, etc. Seeing these numbers definitely makes it more clear that this conversation is, at its core, white people arguing with white people over the fate of a majority non-white, hidden city of kids.

Meanwhile, for our family, I can't begin to explain how much happier and at ease my kids are now that they're in this day camp. We've had some logistical issues and apparently the wi-fi connection is spotty so my daughter's Zoom video is cutting out, but my god, the difference in their spirits! My husband took my son to the doctor this afternoon because he's been having so much back pain. It appears that it's the result of him sitting around so much all day, every day during distance learning. I appreciate that it's nothing more serious. Certainly nothing remotely as serious as what my friend and her children are dealing with right now. We never needed to be in this collective situation.

Day 329: Friday, February 5

It's another one of those perfect San Francisco days. Blue, wide sky, sunshine, cool air. I took a bike ride around lunch and got myself a nicer lunch than usual. I've been subsisting largely on "eclectic" mixes of cold leftovers. It was a treat to have a picnic of one in Golden Gate Park with my cheese plate box and water bottle. My body is still adjusting to this new, earlier camp schedule. 

There will be so many dissertations and books written about what's happening right now with the school reopening saga. I couldn't even begin to capture everything that's going on, but the most notable item is that the Teachers Union held a press conference to share their newest list of demands. They are, on the whole, achievable and reasonable--no more toilet seat lids--so I hope that the school district can take this football and run it over the line now. I'm not sure they will, though. For people with many good ideas and intentions, their political instincts seem low. They don't seem to realize that all of the good things they're trying to do right now are going to be destroyed and avoided for years to come unless they also come through with school reopening now. And that a large section of the local political establishment will be completely unsupportive of any efforts of theirs to run for higher office now. Maybe someone's doing some real talk with them behind the scenes right now. Maybe not. I don't know what to expect. But I am happy that we've collectively inched a bit closer to reopening for the families that want to be in person.

Nothing else big here going on. My son’s camp class went on a field trip, and he was Excited. AOC went on Instagram live a few days ago to talk about being a survivor of sexual assault and the trauma of nearly being killed during the mob attack on the capitol on January 6th. My immediate reaction was, good on her, but people won't believe her. Should I give away the ending? That's exactly what happened. Congress is passing some COVID-19 relief, San Francisco has set up a bunch of mass testing sites and is waiting for actual vaccines to arrive. We're so close to beating the new variant to the punch and getting on the other side of this particular pandemic. We just need the vaccines. I honestly have no idea where they are. Did they fall off the back of a truck? Do they simply not exist? Are they being hoarded by people with political connections? I've done no research, so it feels a bit like actually believing in Santa Claus on the night before Christmas.

Day 330: Saturday, February 6

It’s another beautiful day. I think this means that it’s going to be a drought year and the wildfire season will be especially terrible come fall, but right now, it’s glorious. I spent the morning with my daughter at the skate park in Golden Gate Park. If you are a San Francisco girl, aged 6-8, looking to hang out with other girls of the same age (plus some very interesting adults), the skate park is your jam. Bring your glitteringest skates. And a mask.

I went to the track during off-hours on Thursday morning for a run and watched two women hold each other for a long time, just hugging. No masks. On Friday, I saw two men standing in the roadway of the park, kissing each other at length. It was so shocking and beautiful to see humans being intimate with each other in a public space again. I haven’t seen anything like it in almost a year. Such joy. It’s going to be so healing when we can all do this again in public.

Also, the longer this pandemic drags on, the easier it is for people to see through government leader bullsh*t. You either delivered, or you didn’t. Resign if you can’t deliver.

Day 331: Sunday, February 7

My son is blue. I don’t mean emotionally. He’s doing a lot better in that respect. What I mean is that he is literally blue. My daughter brought a bottle of blue food dye up to their floor a few days ago, and I guess he got the idea that it would be fun to turn himself blue. It’s a bit of a wode feeling from that Keira Knightley movie. My daughter managed to avoid the temptation of also turning herself blue, but sprinkled glitter all over the sleeping cat instead. She also cut up her scrunchy and made it into a rather fetching scarf for him. We’ve had a discussion. We’ve all had a number of discussions.

It looks like the school district and the labor unions have reached a tentative agreement, both here in San Francisco and Chicago. Elsewhere? IDK. It makes me wonder if some national actors got involved to move things forward. Anyway, now there’s at least a roadmap forward for reopening, though there will be many erratic devils lurking in interpretations of the details, including whether the school district will insist on sticking to the wave approach if all the teachers are vaccinated at once, and if so, how long each wave will last, etc. Aka, will my particular kids get back into a school building before next spring? Still, it feels like progress. Our school board president had an unfortunate interview with a well-known shark from the New Yorker on the school renaming process. It’s ... well, I’ll leave it at that.

I went running today and totally forgot my mask. I keep doing that on Sundays, and feel like a real jerk. I pull my shirt over my face when I pass people, but that absolutely looks like I’m suggesting they smell, doesn’t it? It felt so good to be maskless, though, in that period before I realized why I felt so unusually good.

Day 332: Monday, February 8

I miss the brief euphoria of late January. February has been a lot more sober, by comparison. Not the deep anxiety and depression of last fall by any stretch, but sober.

The email that I’ve been expecting for a while came today. It’s nothing terrible in the scheme of things, but it does make me sad. My older kid is having a rough re-entry into being in a formal “schooling” environment. Essentially, he’s lost all his hard-won social skills during the nearly year he’s been out of in person school, and having the reactions of a much younger kid to things he doesn’t like at camp. He cried tonight while we talked about it. He worked so hard to develop the skills to modulate his reactions to things and be in good community with others pre-pandemic, and now they’re gone thanks to the isolation of the pandemic. I know he can re-learn things, but it’s clear that he’s tired. Just tired of having to relearn skills that were so hard to develop in the first place. I’m tired, too. He was doing so well before they closed the schools. For the first time in years, he was thriving.

My daughter is not immune to this problem either. Generally speaking, she has always had an easier time fitting into formal schooling and camp environments. She has a high EQ, and not just because of gendered learning. But she is absolutely having her own bumps, likely invisible to teachers. Very visible at home. Usually your children do you a favor and take turns having issues. Not now, though. It’s exhausting. You can’t learn most SEL skills in isolation. It’s like theoretical Defense Against the Dark Arts.

So, I’m thinking of camp right now as the Noxema pad of social learning. It stings like hell at first and shows you all your dirt, but ultimately you come away as your better self. I hope the stinging and dirt exposure phase doesn’t last too late. That said, these kids get to have problems. We shut them away in dark rooms for 11 months and told them to talk to a screen, and only a screen. If they were having a bad day or a conflict with another kid or adult, they could just log off or turn off their camera. That’s not real life, and they get to not handle it well. They get to be messy and need support after being a societal afterthought. It just makes me so sad—and tired. I miss the temporary euphoria of late January. I miss feeling like I was a consistently capable parent. I miss my easier children.

Day 333: Tuesday, February 9

I had some light waves of vertigo again today after many weeks of respite. I think it's because I went to bed last night fuming about the situation with school reopening. Something about the way I'm holding my anger is triggering the vertigo. I went for a walk today and made a (successful) effort to be lighter and sillier with my family, so hopefully that will stave off any more dizziness. I can't seem to extract myself from the conversation, though. It's half of what I think about all day because it has such an outsized impact on our lives. There's a Board of Education meeting underway tonight and I'm going to call in when the item comes up (likely around hour 10 of the meeting--clearly a top priority) and beg for more clarity on what to expect next fall.

The Trump (re-)impeachment hearing started today. Speaking of breaking the law, I spent a little time today researching true crime podcasts appropriate for kids. My daughter and I have agreed that her insatiable hunger for, essentially, gossip and drama could be better channeled into listening to podcasts about murder. Anyone else do this with their eight-year-old? I fear she may want to be a lawyer when she's older. My son wrote a bible for his new plastic donkey-based religion that is sweeping through his camp. My husband and I tried to explain hair metal at dinner. 

Day 334: Wednesday, February 10

The impeachment trial continues to play on. Though it looks like there won't be enough votes in the senate to convict, I'm glad they're doing this anyway. People need to know what really happened that day.

I went running this morning. I've progressed enough that I can actually pass people on the track, though they are usually seniors. No disrespect to my fellow joggers, but I have to admit that it feels damn good.

I've also been enjoying our morning bike commute to camp more than I expected. I don't know if it's the effect of having been shut in for so long or just less of the I-will-kill-you-if-you-delay-me-from-getting-my-latte energy out there, but the 20-30 minute commute is downright pleasant. I have my son on our smaller (giant) electric cargo bike and my daughter with me on the larger one. We go through the car-free part of the park and on quieter routes to slow two connecting slow streets. It's certainly not perfect, but on the whole, I enjoy being able to go slow, at my son's pace, he enjoys free reign with the throttle, and we both enjoy the morning chill softening into friendly sun as we float up and down the hills. It's a delight.

It's a police commission night.

Day 335: Thursday, February 11

We have vaulted over political differences over paths forward and into absurdistan here, and I can't stop shaking my head, trying to make things make sense. I think as I've said before, I'm a supporter of our school district renaming city schools, particularly if it's done in an informed, student-driven process (which, it appears unfortunately, it's not). And I'm also a supporter of rethinking Lowell's admissions systems so it doesn't produce racist outcomes, as well as the equity audit and other support to Black students who have been harmed by the toxic culture at that school, etc. My sole-ish beef with our school board has been its refusal to take school reopening seriously. It has wreaked havoc on my kids, and many other families.

Today (or yesterday? IDK) the Teachers Union sent out a survey to its members effectively proposing to only offer two days of half-day in-person school through the entirety of next school year. So, no real in person school despite the fact that the city has vaulted teachers and staff to the near front of the vaccine line, ahead of people who are working in person. And no real in person school despite that public health officials estimate that most adults and some kids will be vaccinated pretty much around the time that school is supposed to start next year. I ... can't. I just can't. 

Maybe this is all a big misunderstanding. Was the e-mail doctored? Was there a x2 missing from 2 days a week? A x2 next to the 1/2 day? I swear I have tried to approach this school reopening discussion with an open heart and see things from all sides, even if it takes me a few hours or days to work through my initial strong emotional reaction to certain things. There's no benefit or righteousness in making teachers feel bad; we all want to go back to a happy school with happy teachers, not a war zone. Nor is there anything but cause to try to support unions in general most days. Labor is almost always under attack without vigilance, and will always be in a capitalistic society. Solidarité. But what kind of toxic union leadership puts out this proposal?! There is no scientific or humane reason to keep doing this to our kids. 

I also strongly take issue with the school district and union leadership claims that Mayor Breed and members of the Board of Supervisors are using the situation to score political points. Like, why in the world would any of those people need or want to punch so far down? They're good already. They're busy. They got elected to higher office. They have no jurisdiction in this area and it's, frankly, probably the last thing they need to have piled on with so much other stuff going on right now. Cup runneth over and everything. No, they're calling you out because you are f*cking up so big that it's messing up their own work. There is this white progressive worldview in San Francisco that insists on having a boogeyman to punch at that people keep trying to use to explain away why the mayor has been forced into getting involved--again, while she's already really f*cking busy. These people have no nuance to their politics; it's just video game boxing. But I suppose that's a whole other blog post. Trying to lead with love here, and I'm far from perfect in living my values. Deep breaths, deep breaths.

Anyway, if you heard a large boom today, that was the sound of tens of thousands of parents of public school kids having their heads explode.

Day 336: Friday, February 12

I have entered a place of zen after yesterday's head explosion. The school situation is such a mess and the only ways forward I see are either a) that the longer SFUSD fails to reopen fully post-vaccination and so loses yet more supporters loses until even its current biggest champions turn on the leadership within the year or b) the City Attorney wins the lawsuit against the district and forces some sort of reopening but the union calls for a strike that may or may not come together and may or may not succeed. Either situation is terrible. Maybe something better will happen, but it is very hard to see right now.

All that said, I went for a walk in the sun during lunch today and am feeling all the calm. Not sure if I should be, but I make no apologies. I forgot that it's Lunar New Years. Gung hay fat choy! The Botanical Garden actually had a long line to get in today, which should have been my first clue. I think of LNY as the good times before the bad. It was one of the last times I went to a big event last year before everything shut down because of COVID-19. I bought our beloved first rainbow lawn spinner and my son carried it happily home on MUNI. It feels like a lifetime ago. We no longer have a rainbow lawn spinner; both iterations were destroyed in wind storms. I bought a wind chime, though, today. I've been eyeing the ones they have for sale at the Botanical Gardens' store for years and decided to be wild. I'm going to hang it up in front of our house, where it won't bother our neighbors. Maybe in a tree? I don't know. I feel the need to put up something delightful to make up for the loss of the rainbow spinner. People need delight right now. And sunshine, and calm.

The impeachment trial appears to still be going on. Half of all Republicans think the attack on the capitol was Antifa? If I weren't feeling so calm right now, I'd find that incredibly disturbing, though no longer surprising. Maybe blue cities come out of the overdue reckoning underway, better and on the way to a healing path, but I don't see how this country survives intact when we can't even communicate basic facts. We all work so hard, and yet accomplish so little together.

Day 337: Saturday, February 13

OK, so my head exploded again today. I’m calm again now, but there were a few hours of total inability to reconcile space with time. Apparently the terrifying plan that the teachers union leadership has put out for half a day, two days of week of in person school after teacher and staff vaccination was only for elementary children. There is no plan for any in person school for middle and high school kids for the entirety of next year. Again, despite teachers and staff scheduled to be vaccinated beginning on 2/24, and the projections that most adults and some children will have already been vaccinated by the start of school year, 2021-2022. And also despite the CDC’s new guidelines. There is no sense here, and there’s certainly no heart.

Let me play this out. If adults are widely vaccinated and jobs begin requiring people to come back in for work next fall or winter, somehow we are supposed to take my younger kid to school for a few hours in the morning, get to work, do all the work within maybe an hour and a half, then turn right around and pick her up to bring her home. Families would be discouraged from putting their kids in aftercare or camps or pods to decrease potential kid to kid transmission between school and aftercare, so there’d be no other option but parent early pick up. Meanwhile, we will have had to leave our older kid, who will have started middle school and probably will have been vaccinated, at home all day by himself. And on days when my daughter doesn’t have her measly two+ hours of in-person learning, one of us would either have to arrange with our jobs to stay home or leave her in the care of her older brother. Who, once again, will be home all the time and lonely as heck, having never stepped foot in the building of his “school” or knowing next to no one in his enormous incoming class. Also, see: sibling fighting. We could put him in a camp, but I don’t see how a middle school schedule is compatible with camp. There’s barely time as it is at their current camp to have them do their Zooms and schoolwork. The math doesn’t work. 

Don’t tell me that employers will be sympathetic to this situation and have no problem with parents juggling this logistically impossible situation through the end of next year’s school year, when the world will be a profoundly more open and normal place. (Also, if you’re not familiar with the SF school system, a large percentage of kids go to school nowhere near their homes, so the commutes involved here are not small.) And yet, this is the proposal. I don’t know how teachers union leadership could be more cynical or out of touch with the lives of their students and families. If you care about the kids you teach, you also have to care about their families. You don’t have to like the families, but you do have to care about them. This is such a mess. It looks like Supervisor Ronen is going to try to pass some charter amendments about the composition of the school board which will effectively erode the possibility of a progressive super majority—purely because of their screw up with reopening schools. If that happens, all the good things this Board has done and wants to keep doing will be undone and will never be able to happen again, though we at least will probably have the schools open. So, through their own incompetency, they’re destroying their own good work.

Anyway, that’s why my head left my body earlier today. OK, and Congress’ failure to convict Trump. The political bodies involved could not be more different, but the levels of competency and ability/willingness to read the room are about the same. I fear that Congress just made the next two years the eye of the storm instead of the end of the storm. So, yeah. Aside from that total breakdown in US governance, it’s actually been a lovely day. God bless San Francisco. We met up with my BIL and his family and my SIL and her boyfriend down in Golden Gate Park. It’s a windy but sunny and clear day, and my tiny nephew was all business on his equally tiny scoot bike, my kids obsessed with helping him. I’m lucky to genuinely adore my BIL and his partner as well as my SIL, and I was happy to see that my SIL met a man who treats her so well. In a dream world, we’d all live in the same neighborhood, or at least, city. Instead, I’m increasingly unsure what city we’ll be living in next fall. But hey, it really was a lovely day today and I’m so calm, I might go to sleep.

Day 338: Sunday, February 14

Happy Valentine’s Day. After being prompted, my husband got me a bar of chocolate. I got him a card. He’s so funny with holidays. He either goes nuts or completely opts out, you never know which one. I don’t read anything into it. We’re good. Like everything else, living the pandemic life has forced us to confront a bunch of stuff, but I think we’ve come to a good place. I like him. He likes me, and the chocolate was good. I also tried to make some red velvet macarons for my kids while they were out with my husband doing outside stuff with family. The macarons taste great but that’s the nicest thing you can say. Absolutely nothing else about them went to plan; I’m eating them with a spoon in a bowl. Next time I won’t use a recipe that tells me how many egg whites to use in grams. Or more accurately, I won’t bother. Lots of people sell macarons, no?

Not much else going on here. Opening the Internet feels like the sound of a million people screaming, so I’m trying to spend less time there. I went for a run earlier instead and actually really ran, and I hung up our new tiny wind chime. It’s not windy enough to make the bell go, but it makes me happy to know it’s there and will delight some unsuspecting person walking by one of these days. My daughter is going to be so angry with me about these macarons. Cream of Tartar—what?

Day 339: Monday, February 15

Both distance learning and camp were closed in observance of Presidents Day today, so everyone was home today. My husband started a new work program early this morning, and seems really excited. I'm happy for him. Everyone needs a community right now, specifically one that doesn't live in the same four walls with you. Our cat seemed pissed that people were home. My daughter drew an owl child and my son caught up on math he's not learning in Zoom school. I broke out a new puzzle.

I sense that our words for how describe school and learning are changing forever and we don't even realize. My kids think of their camp teachers as their real teachers now, though those folks don't teach them anything academic. Their distance learning/school teachers have become fleeting content providers who could, truthfully, be living anywhere in the world. This seems ominous.

Speaking of which, there's something weird going on with the polar vortex. Or is it that the polar vortex is gone? I'm not entirely clear. One hopes, not the latter. In any event, it's been rainy and cozy inside here all day. We got a little playground time in later in the afternoon when the sun came out. Alas, with the nets back up on the basketball hoops, I can no longer claim to be hitting 10/10 on the three-point line. One of my favorite communities away from home has its weekly meeting tonight. I'm so glad to be part of that team.

Day 340: Tuesday, February 16

Texas has frozen over and lost power, and people are dying in their homes and on the street. It’s horrific. (It’s also horrific that people regularly die on San Francisco’s relatively warm streets, and that six people were shot to death last week in the Bayview—and more specifically, how little we’ve done to prevent this from being the status quo.) Call me naive, but it’s always stunning to me that no governor, president or legislator ever goes on TV right after these things hit and says, “this is climate change, and here is the new bundle of legislation/administrative actions that I am introducing to stop this from ever happening again.” It would be so easy to do. Name the problem. Help us all believe that you’re taking this seriously and that there’s still hope. Don’t tweet condolences. Instead, it seems the conservative media is blaming this on—wait for it—clean energy.

It’s an average pandemic Tuesday here otherwise. The sun was out, kids were at camp, husband was giddy about his program, I’m folding space with my mind. My son’s Zoom teacher sent him a beautiful little card of encouragement in the mail. The Free Britney movement continues to grow. Athens, Greece was also blanketed in snow. The school reopening wars continue, I burnt our dinner, and the wind chime that I hung in front of our house last Sunday has yet to make a twinkle. I can’t decide if it simply hasn’t been windy enough, or if I should move the bell somewhere more exposed. In more encouraging news, lots more people are making good use of the bench wrapping around our front door. I like providing rest for the weary, and the people with really, really intense phone calls.

Day 341: Wednesday, February 17

My friend who lives up in suburban Portland, OR is still without power, and Texas remains locked in a power-less deep freeze, with no relief in sight. My friend's husband managed to get their faulty backup generator to power the fridge, one lightbulb and, I think, a heater, so at least they'll have food. They're trying to temporarily re-home their pet lizard. It's bananas. Texas, meanwhile, seems in even more dire straits. These years have been a lot. It's all been a lot. One thing on top of another, with no clear end point in sight for the virus, and an even murkier future ahead when it comes to catastrophic climate change. It's a lot. Some days I feel it more.

I ended up keeping my kids home from camp today because I was up very late on a job interview (long, perfectly nice story) and couldn't get myself up in time to take them in. My son was in tears by the end of the day. Now that he knows what it's like to be around kids again during the day, I think going back to distance learning is such a terrifying experience. We tried to reframe the situation and give a lot of hugs, but yeah, I won't be sleeping past 7 am again. It's been interesting to hear from his school teacher that he's actually been more responsive and engaged with his Zoom classes than before. She's a lovely person, and I appreciated her support. Both my kids' school teachers are wonderful, but no one can be a fairy godmother over a screen; everyone turns into a pumpkin.

My last thought for today before I try to get some dinner in and steel myself for another police commission night, is that somebody high up in the education world better be working really hard on making public education resilient from climate change disruptions. What's happening in Texas right now and what will likely happen next fall here with more catastrophic wildfires will increasingly disrupt schooling, and that's without factoring in the virus and all the other things already making it hard for a lot of kids to get to school. What does public schooling look like with climate change? Does it survive? Is this a conversation underway in DC or Sacramento?

My cat killed something in the kitchen last night. There's a tail, teeth and a puddle of blood under our banquette.

Day 342: Thursday, February 18

What a strange day. My cat brought in a gopher to massacre and eat this morning while my kids were packing their lunches. He ate it next to the mouse pelt carcass. Y'all, I think he has feelings about his lack of day-time alone time this week. My husband has thankfully since cleaned up everything but the gopher's head, and the cat had lots of alone time while the kids were in camp. May every creature rest in peace.

Texas continues its deep freeze. I went for a run this morning after dropping off the kids and actually enjoyed it. The key appears to be having zero expectations of mileage or speed, and just running for physical pleasure in the moment. Also, podcasts.

Late in the afternoon I had a school site council meeting for my kids' school. I put together a letter of unity and urgency on school reopening that will pull our community together and send a united message to our Board of Education, with the idea that we'd send it to our school community and the BOE. It was a complicated meeting, but it looks like we'll be able to take a vote next week. I'm optimistic that everyone will be on the same page at this point. No matter how in our feelings we all are right now, our schools can't be rubble war zones when we all return, and I think that resonated with almost everyone.

In the moment, it felt good to take action, however small. Part of the difficulty of this school situation is how universally powerless and in the dark people feel, children, parents, teachers and staff. A few hours on since the meeting, I want to shutter all the windows, delete the Internet and take a bath to wipe off the feeling of putting myself out there in that manner. It's hard to get closure in a Google chat meeting and feel like you can step away without bruising.

Speaking of which, my daughter broke out in hives again today. She went gummy bear goth yesterday and put on a bunch of my makeup. Now she's in tears and deep in our hugs. I really hope the cat doesn't kill anything in her room tonight.

Day 343: Friday, February 19

There are days when I’m writing these journal entries that I consciously make an effort to be lighter than I feel. I worry that sharing all the worries that are swirling around my head will prompt someone to send me an email saying something to the effect of, “have you considered medication?” But I always end up feeling disingenuous about those posts. There are many light days, light hours and lighter weeks, but that light is in the context of what still feels like the world unraveling around me. Or, at least the U.S. I think we were all hopeful that the new federal administration would lead us out of the deep, dark water and to a new, better shore. At this point, though, it feels like we’re still mostly underwater and barely breaking the surface, all the while getting further and further from the shore, purely from the inertia of what’s already been set in motion.

Public institutions that we took for granted are dying. Schools, in particular. Democrats are coming together to self own ourselves into ending the right to free, full-time, in person education. I cannot emphasize what an impact this will have in the next waves of elections across the country. It is so upsetting; we won’t even have a year or two to breathe and start swimming in the right direction in this country at this rate. Absolute self-own. We are losing a generation and a political constituency in ways we don’t even fully understand yet.

Meanwhile, we are showing exactly who we are as a society in the face of mounting climate catastrophes. This certainly isn’t anything new, but the scale of the disasters and the utter lack of even an inkling of an effort of coordinated government help, is so bleak. There are other things that I won’t belabor here, but god is it hard to feel like there’s any hope for this country. If I as an individual try to be that hope but the systems in which I have to work are so rotted, then how is it ever going to make a difference? It’s unforgivable to give up, but it’s also stupid not to see things for what they are. We’re in a societal death spiral, screaming at each other into the vortex.

So, yeah. That’s the bleakness that surrounds even the lighter days now. My daughter stayed home from camp today because she’s still having episodes of hives springing up every few hours. We baked cookies and did a lot of hugging through the tears. I cleaned off an unbelievable amount of filth on her iPad screen. Then, more hugs. My son was happy to go to school this morning. I rode him in in the cozy front pod of our cargo bike, me enjoying the might of my rain pants and coat in the drizzle and him dry and spaced out. There’s something very magical about biking in the rain as long as you’re dressed well. That said, my cotton face mask did not fare so well beyond the first 15 minutes. My kid came home tonight in tears because of some weird punishment he got from his teacher for losing a contest at camp. I’m trying to keep an open mind about the facts of the situation, but most of me is just praying that camp can be a safe, happy place for him, that he doesn’t have any weird adults or conflicts with adults that makes his one sanctuary itchy. Please, just let all these kids have one bright spot in their lives still. I really hope my daughter’s hives clear completely. I’m tired.

Day 344: Saturday, February 20

We're reaching the bitter end of labor-school district negotiations for the rest of spring semester learning, which means we're in the sh*t talking zone. Both parties claiming their proposal is better, naturally. Unfortunately, both proposals are bad, so really, don't bother. I stupidly let myself get my hopes up earlier today that my kids would see the inside of their classrooms this year. Maybe my son would graduate in person. That was utter naïveté. We're vaccinating all the teachers and staff right now and we still aren't planning for all the students to come back. Truly, I have no words for the adults who have been roundly failing these kids for the last year. That's not true. I have two words, and they start with a capital F and a capital Y.

Saturday mornings for the last year have all been, where can we walk to that has a bathroom and we haven't been to five million times? I tried to shake it up a little today and bike to a playground we haven't visited in a couple years; everyone hated it. So, my husband and daughter left to walk around the Mission and I took my son to loaf in Golden Gate Park. I think we may have gotten the better end of that deal. It was a cool but sunny day and the lawn around the Flower Conservancy was bursting with daisies. I spread out our blanket and we were solar panels for a couple hours. My son was also alternatively a leviathan, a Jedi and a cat. 

I haven't been to Dolores Park in months, but the car-free section of Golden Gate Park has started to be as much a scene--albeit far tamer--than Dolores. There were people everywhere, doing their joyful thing. A BBQ party moved into the spot next to us. There were jugglers, a family playing catch and wrestling, a man who just lay down under a tree and napped while his people watched, endless streams of bikes, a dad blowing bubbles, couples in matching masks, etc. It's so beautiful. I love these hyggeligt slappet af afternoons with my son in the park. Leaving to return to the car-infested streets always me wonder if we are collectively insane.

I am now in deep personal hibernation mode. Parenting services for the day are closed. Wife feelings are unavailable. I have locked the door and rendered myself invisible and unknowable for the next 12 hours.

Day 345: Sunday, February 21

I hit an emotional wall this morning. Despite the sleep and solitude. I think the realization that we’re twenty days out from it being a year since we pulled the kids out of school and went into quarantine, and not enough feels different or likely to change soon, is hitting hard. Things definitely are different, and there is hope on the horizon with the vaccine. Trump is out of the White House. These are big things. But the reality of my day to day life is largely unchanged, and the options for how it might change in the next few months are so dispiriting. We’re pathologizing the bodies of our children and schools as places in this city. We’ve always done this to Black children, and now we’re doing it to all (public school) children and schools and adding a new layer of perceived pathology to Black children. This hole is going to be so deep.

Anyway, yeah, I had a bad morning. The afternoon, on the other hand, has been much better. Music, fresh air and a run in the sun have me peaceful and measured, covered in bread dough and dried sweat. I reorganized our little library out front and put the rainbow spinner back up in a modified format. Now I’m trying to motivate myself to work on my Danish self-imposed homework and avoiding the local news about moving a Victorian house seven blocks via truck. Also, Twitter and Facebook. Dyr med problemer er så meget mere velsmagende lige nu.

Day 346: Monday, February 22

It's a day with a lot of pink in the sky. Soft, pink morning, soft, pink sunset. Now there're shades of blue cotton candy fading into the Pacific. It's a between day, not a pylon day.

My rainbow spinner remains intact. I'm taking this as a huge personal victory. My daughter was freaked out about going to camp this morning. She was convinced there was some deeper pathology in her causing these hives. Her doctor assures me there is not. And she had a perfectly nice day after all. Are we all doomed to think of ourselves as inherently toxic thanks to this pandemic, particularly impressionable children who have been forced to wear masks all day in order to have a shot at a normal childhood? She still isn't willing to put her hair down, lest it's her hair that caused the hives (it's not). She promises to try next weekend.

My son has learned the hard way not to give over the product until you get payment, but is otherwise in excellent spirits. We all need haircuts, though we probably won't get any anytime soon. My husband brought our cat to Zoom work with him today in some sort of grown up show and tell for this new program; the cat did not want to be shown. I'm having an in-between day. Doing interstitial work, feeling very clear about my life and decisions, enjoying the pink.

Day 347: Tuesday, February 23

It's weirdly warm out, I have some sort of illness (not COVID), the school district and union negotiations over the most basic of reopening have broken down though the school board continues to click like on union messaging on Twitter, vaccine news is hopeful.

Day 348: Wednesday, February 24

It’s a bit of a well-known secret that the principal at my kids’ school is—how do I say this diplomatically?—not the engine of what makes the school work. When we get beautifully written, thoughtful messages about school matters with his name on them, they are not actually coming from his computer or brain. Etc. Anyway, I’ve dealt with a lot of principals in this school district, most of whom have been stellar, and while I wish he was more similar to these other folks, it doesn’t really matter. Everyone works around him, he works around us, and we all do our best to get along and focus on the kids. Today, though, he showed his true colors.

I think I’ve mentioned here before that I am a member of our School Site Council, and that I proposed we send a letter of unity and urgency from the council to the School Board talking about how much we all want to work together—parents, teachers, staff—to reopen schools with urgency. There is literally nothing but love in that letter. I introduced it at our meeting last week. I even read it out loud, but the principal jumped down my throat immediately, inferring all kinds of non-intentions and phrases. Others spoke up for it, though, and he agreed after a lot of back and forth to have a discussion and vote on the letter today at an emergency meeting. 

Despite his promise, he refused to even allow a conversation at the meeting, let alone a vote, referred me to articles published by the union (which I’d already read) and told me I don’t know anything. It was ... something. So I’m having big fuck that guy feelings at the moment. Big, big fuck that guy. He’s completely oblivious to what’s going on with our kids right now, what a crisis it is and how many families are in the process of leaving the district. It’s true that our particular school will probably be least impacted from the exodus, so maybe he’s right and he doesn’t have to care. But presumably someone who runs a school should at least be curious about why parents are panicking about the health of their kids? IDK. Is that so unreasonably to presume? God, fuck that guy.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do about this. Do I stay in this council and stop being so politic and call him out on stuff? Do I quit? I’m still processing and trying to act from a place of dispassion. Do I even want this guy anywhere near my kids? There are so many fantastic teachers and administrators at my kids’ school who work so hard to work around this man. I want to support them, and all the families who are up in arms right now at what’s happening with non-school-re-non-opening. But that guy—fuck that guy. He is exactly why nothing is happening with school reopening. The problems in this situation have first and last names.

It’s nice out again. I stood in a beam of sun in the backyard earlier today to absorb good vibes. My daughter and I had a heart-to-heart tonight to get at the core of why she’s been so quick to cry recently. These kids ... this pandemic year is so deep under their skin.

Day 349: Thursday, February 26

I am back to calm and on the path of love. I'm finally old enough to know the difference between kicking up dirt because you need to be right and walking a dusty path towards a better vision of the world for everyone. I wish my kids' principal nothing but the best.

It's another beautiful day. I was finally well enough this morning to go for a run, and the track was actively, weirdly hot. It's cooler here in our backyard thanks to the preponderance of winter shade. There's something so unique about the air in this city. The kind of spring sun we have today is usually wrapped in warm, soft air in other northern U.S. cities; it has a lot of context and implied limitations. Here, though, it just feels like raw air and sunshine. There is no context, only abstract coolness and heat going on into the void.

My brothers-in-law are coming over (to the backyard) tonight to say goodbye. They've wrapped up their business here and are heading back to NYC. One of them has a vaccine appointment, which is great news; he has a slow burning cancer, and has been at much higher risk than the rest of us. We're going to miss seeing them, particularly my sweet little nephew. I think he's learned a lot about light sabers and cats while he's been here. 

I've been working on various pieces of legislation today for a few different groups. It may be one of my love languages.

Day 350: Friday, February 26

We said goodbye to our tiny cousin/nephew last night. He left, confused and gripping a giant mango smoothie we made for him. I'm going to miss his utter delight to be bounced like popcorn on our trampoline, and how serious he is about our cat. The sadness of the parting was almost eclipsed by the arrival of the mega light saber my son ordered a while back. He broke the one he got for Christmas (shocker) and used his allowance savings to trade up. The new light saber is absolutely ridiculous--and I mean that in the best way possible. We carefully tethered it to his bike this morning for the ride into camp.

It is, once again, a ridiculously beautiful day. That's how San Francisco is, and I'm appreciating it even more this year. I took a nice walk this afternoon around the neighborhood and appreciated the heck out of some plants while I listened to my podcasts. I'm currently enjoying watching a woman rearrange all the books in our mini library to her very specific personal vision; this happens a lot. It's been a day of deliberate lightness, more thinking, less energy spent tracking fights on Twitter. (Also, Biden bombed Syria--which ?????!!!)

There is such a strong trope in our country of the fight. We fight everything, injustice, change, climate change, each other. There's a glamour in the fight, too, but it can be so toxic if we fall in love with the battling. Don't love the fight, love people and what we can become. That's my new, work-in-progress, mantra, and it does not fit into 99% of San Francisco politics. Almost all progressive politics in this city leads with a class analysis. The worldview is duality, it ignores the full complexities of race and other core identities, it glorifies the fight and it's incredibly ineffective. It also explains the unmodulated alignment of the local Bernie progressives with a largely white, female teachers union against a Black mayor who grew up in public housing, and the barely white student population of public schools. If we lead with class, the worker is central, unions are sacred and children are mere appendages of the worker or the ruling class. I'm not saying this as elegantly as I'd like, but what I'm circling around is that this type of progressive wing doesn't know what to do with kids or families, and it's going to bite them in the ass. It's sad to watch. You can see some of our Supervisors struggling with how to reconcile their political worldview with the actual feedback of live children.

Anyway, I'm not saying this to blast anyone or say that they're wholly wrong. I'm a progressive in the endless process of developing a better understanding what that should mean. I just wish we could have an honest, out loud conversation about where things are breaking down. Be radical, but be real. That's a mantra from some much smarter people that I'm also trying to follow. Constantly trying to become here; a woman on a walk.

Day 351: Saturday, February 27

I should probably go back and audit my count of the days in this journal to make sure I celebrate the one year anniversary of COVID-19 lockdown on the right day. I should, but I won't. I don't think I'm ready to re-read any of these posts.

Not that today was remotely difficult, outside of the sibling fighting. Now that we have our kids in camp (which we've started just calling school, to make it less confusing and because it sort of is, sort of), I feel far less pressure to do anything transporting on the weekend. After the initial bumps, they've adjusted well, and now all I want to do on Saturdays is take our stuff down to Golden Gate Park and lay around. So, we did.

It was a scene again today, and we were definitely part of the spectacle in the flower garden. We brought our wind-catching, roll-up hot dog-looking lounge thing plus blankets and chairs. Our hot dog is orange and looks like a boat from afar. My son brought his 6' double-saber lightsaber. He was also wearing a lurid, shiny tacocat shirt. He and my daughter dueled while my husband attempted to read the New Yorker and I watched birds make liquid triangles in the sky. Someone near us brought a huge layer cake, on a cake stand. Other people set up games. It was a whole scene, and between the lightsaber and the orange boat, we were absolutely good people watching. It was a nice day. If the Parks Commission turns that street back into a parking lot at the behest of the DeYoung, they will be suffocating so much joy.

In more happy news, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine got approved for use in the US today. We need more popular music about how good it feels to get jabbed with a needle.

14 days until our corona quarantine anniversary.

Day 352: Sunday, February 28

The sibling fighting is out of control today. By themselves, both kids are lovely. Together, hold my tea. I assume this is just a phase we need to pass through. We're trying to give them time apart, but our house isn't all that big and no one is willing to go outside even though it's ridiculously gorgeous out. I appreciated the run I took earlier today, even though there were an excessive number of much fitter men running past me through the neighborhood. Did you have to show off, dudes? I also did some very, very light gardening and wrenched on the bikes some. I appreciate that my son is now making us some excellent waffles every Sunday morning. My daughter is theoretically supposed to help, too, but it's become more emotional support than literal. Oh well. Maybe for the best with all the fighting. They got along so much better earlier in this pandemic; it's hard to know what's developmental and what's the result of being on top of each other all the time over months and months.

There's no news on a potential school district-labor agreement on spring learning. The two sides brought in our president of the Board of Supervisors to mediate, and I hope that helps. It's hard to read the situation at this point. The principal of my kids' school just sent around bizarre corrections to the notes I took in the last two site council meetings. His edits are factually false; he's literally claiming that he said things that he never said. However, his edits seem to also be a potential olive branch, so, I don't know, whatever. If this is the way we're making this sausage, so be it.

I keep thinking about what it would have meant for our school district to have developed an equitable reopening plan. Like, could they have said, hey, we're going to focus all our central district time and money on Title I schools and give the rest of you all the OK to work directly with your principle to make a plan and raise all the money you need to execute the plan as long as it conforms to this set of safety guidelines and is ready by this date? Never before would you have seen such Olympic levels of PTA fundraising and organizing, if that had been the guidelines. Records would have been broken, herculean bake sales would have been held. Or, hey, here's the plan for reopening all the schools and we're covering this portion of all the needs, but we need parents to raise money to cover these additional costs to support teachers and students across the district who will need extra support with the transition or just basic living because they need to stay remote/go hybrid and are at much higher risk for contracting COVID, and here's the amount of money they need and the five other ways you can support these folks right now. Also, can you come help us make sure the windows open properly? Again, the fundraising would have been off the hook, and you can damn well straight believe a new army of window engineering experts would have emerged overnight with a roar. Never before would so many parents know so much about windows.

The more cynical part of me also says that if the BOE truly wanted to center equity with the reopening, they would have used the moment to negotiate mandatory bias screening for hiring, anti-bias training for existing teachers and staff and restorative accountability for teachers and staff whose actions and/or outcomes indicate harm against Black and Brown students, LGBTQA students, students with disabilities, etc. If we're talking about schools being part of the school to prison pipeline and we're working to hold police officers accountable through these practices, why would we not also be doing this for our largely white and female teaching force? Maybe someone's been proposing this stuff. I haven't done that research. But I expect that if I went on Twitter right now and proposed this sort of screening, training and accountability for teachers and staff, I'd get slapped down by fellow progressives. I'm not going to go on Twitter and make any sort of proposal, but it is an interesting thought exercise. What are those best practices in schools for turning off the pipeline? Why are they not a regular part of the BOE conversations--or are they?

13 days until our corona quarantine anniversary. Get your streamers.

Day 353: Monday, March 1

Is it March already? I’m not ready for that.

I baked a couple of extra bread loaves last night and dropped them off to friends who are rough places. It felt good to give some tangible, gluten love. I do like the bread I make. If there’s one domestic skill I feel good about perfecting over the last year, it’s the bread making. Dead useful.

Newsom made a deal with the CA legislature on school reopening. Essentially, lots of money for school districts that open by a certain date. I got my hopes up. They have since been dashed; our Superintendent says it’ll make no difference. Where there’s no will, there’s no way. The whole thing remains an asymptote.

In better news, it is once again absurdly beautiful out. I guess we’re having a record dry season, which isn’t good for what it’ll mean during wildfire season. For the moment, though, it’s perfection. My daughter appears to be eight going on 17 right now. We’ve scheduled a talk about it tomorrow. I don’t understand what’s going on with her, but they’re clearly very big feelings. I wish I could snap my fingers and make things better. I feel like my son is on a good path back to who he was pre-pandemic. With her, I feel like I’m suddenly parenting on Saturn. She feels things deeply and has a very high EQ, but that makes it easier for her to really lash out and push buttons when she’s not feeling ok inside. She’s dying for us to move and leave San Francisco. I’d like her to feel ok being here, now. Her birthday is at the end of this month. It’ll be her second in quarantine. Roughly one quarter of her life.

12 days until our corona quarantine anniversary. Damn you, March.

Day 354: Tuesday, March 2

At this point, I’m about 99.1% sure that we’re going to move to Copenhagen at the end of the summer. I’ve been holding out hope that there’d be some proof that public schools here will reopen fully next fall, but every time I let myself feel optimistic, I get slapped all the way back down to earth. Hard. And over my dead body will we be doing another year of distance learning or hybrid learning or Zoom school in school or whatever zombie sh*t school equivalent the school district offers. Moving halfway across the earth is, yes, a bit drastic, but we’ll be near my brother and his family and in a place where I know for certain that the government prioritizes in person school for all kids. Plus, as much as I love San Francisco—and I really, really love San Francisco, heaven help me—it might be fun to have a new adventure. We love Copenhagen, certainly far more than Marin or the East Bay or the South Bay or Florida or etc.

A few things still need to line up to make the move overseas possible, so there’s still a chance we’ll be here next year. But at this point, it’s a better chance that we’ll be moving, and I’ve made peace with this idea. I’m at peace. My husband’s at peace. My kids are chomping at the bit to go. There is, after all, a large amusement park in the center of town. Did you know the Danish schools held classes there last year during the pandemic to keep schools open? Genius.

Anyway, we’re still in San Francisco, for now. It’s yet another lovely day. My son is in his happy place, which is making up fake countries and governments with his friends at camp/school. We’re working with my daughter on all the big feelings she’s been having recently, and I feel good about the communication levels and the direction we’re headed. Yeah, things are feeling good. I have zero regrets about putting my kids in this camp. Zero. And I have zero faith in this school district to reopen the schools. Zero. They’ll eventually open a few classrooms and then pat themselves on the back like they invented calculus while the majority of kids in the city continue to remain shut out of their school buildings. I’m done with the constant drama and gaslighting. Yes, I’m going to keep pushing to get the schools open here, because there are plenty of families who won’t be able to move or go to private school, etc, but I am also at peace with my intention to move and do right by my kids. What we’ve done to children this past year is unconscionable.

11 days until our corona quarantine anniversary. Tillykke.

Day 355: Wednesday, March 3

A wholly unremarkable day. Biden announced that the US will have enough vaccines to give to all interested adults by the end of May. Texas lifted its public mask requirement and the Governor of Arizona is ordering all schools to open by a certain date. So I think we're into the part of the pandemic where the ending gets politicized. Would that there was still common ground left. 

It's a police commission night.

10 days until our corona quarantine anniversary.

Day 356: Thursday, March 4

I wonder if I've been tracking the days since we began quarantine correctly. I should probably go back and double check each post, but nah. The exact date really doesn't matter.

Today was nice. I'm doing work I care about and enjoy, the sun was warm in a cool sky, I dragged myself around the track just long enough to feel virtuous, the kids are negotiating a treaty between their respective countries and I had some good down time being still with my husband--the one nice thing about having to work from home. It absolutely has been and could be worse.

Nine days until our corona quarantine anniversary.

Day 357: Friday, March 5

Democrats are failing to deliver at all levels of government. This isn't good. Do people not read enough dystopian sci-fi/fantasy/creative nonfiction?

My life, on the other hand, is blooming with fed up moms. Some dads, too, but mostly moms. People I haven't heard from in forever coming out of the woodwork because we're all so alarmed about what's happening with the schools. I have to admit that it's nice to talk with folks, though I wish it were for other, happier reasons. Oddly, my lemon verbena plant appears to have survived the winter. I've watered it once in the last two months but there it is, still perky and fresh. I should probably harvest the garlic I planted ages ago. I will harvest the garlic I planted ages ago. I will eventually harvest the garlic I planted long ago. I am adding, "harvest the garlic you planted long ago" to my to do list for the weekend.

There have been a bunch of tiny earthquakes at night recently. The kind that make you wonder if you're imagining things, or if your husband is just scratching his leg. I've come to really appreciate these little moments. They invariably happen right as I'm falling asleep, which isn't amazing, but on the whole, my sense is that most people in this country need more contact with the earth than less. It keeps us honest, and bleeds off a little of the pressure that might otherwise lead to a massive quake. Also on my to do list for the weekend: change out and clean air filters. Living at home for this past year has me fetishizing such activities as taking apart our toaster and cleaning all the parts, greasing the motor of the food processor, wiping out the gunk of the washing machine. I have become so massively interesting.

Eight days until our corona quarantine anniversary.

Day 358: Saturday, March 6

Something sort of miraculous happened last night. Late last night, to be specific. The school district announced an actual date for the reopening of schools--though only for a tiny fraction of kids. And not my kids. I honestly never thought they'd even take this teensy step forward, so it felt great to see something so tangible at long last. But it was also the most confusing announcement I've ever read. It's completely unclear what kids are actually going back to school. They're supposed to release more information on Monday, so hopefully it'll make sense. Right now, I feel frustrated that I once again got my hopes up, imagining my kids stepping into their school at long last, only to get smacked down again because they aren't on the list of schools and types of kids being invited back. [Very deep sigh.] I'm so tired of this rollercoaster. It seems like so many people are also giving up, and I don't blame them. This experience has been a masterclass on how to get people to leave your public system. I haven't even covered the half of it here.

Still, going to keep doing what I can to make things right here, no matter if we go to Copenhagen or stay. Even UNICEF has started putting out memes about how messed up it is that we're shutting kids out of school around the world. Imagine that. If you don't see the problem, you are absolutely on the wrong side of history.

I took a walk down to West Portal with my daughter this morning. I told her about the schools starting (maybe??) to reopen here, but she's still gung ho on Copenhagen. She's most interested to know whether kids have to wear masks there, and made me look it up on my phone. Looks like, right now, kids under 12 are not required, though older kids are encouraged. I assume that will change as they vaccinate most adults and teens. My kids wear masks all day at camp, and they don't mind. I usually have to remind them to take them off when they get home and come upstairs for dinner with them still on. I suspect that kids will be required to wear them at public schools here next year, too, even after we're at herd immunity. Whereas in Copenhagen, that won't be the case. We'll probably also have kids sitting in rigid formations with dividers and demanding they eat alone in silence still. And there, not. It's certainly food for thought. A lot of food.

Anyway, I am happy about this tiny step forward here in San Francisco. Whether we agree that school for all kids is a shared value anymore remains to be seen. We had a wild rain storm last night and there are some very happy plants outside. California is still having a perilously dry winter. Seeds of the future.

Day 359: Sunday, March 7

It's homesteading Sunday again. I sewed up and taped down holes in our bike pannier, learned when and how to harvest garlic (not yet, apparently), baked bread and did a bunch of other minor home care things I can't remember. We used to have a policy in our family that we'd lock up all electronics for the majority of Sunday. I think we were doing that pre-pandemic? I would like to think we were doing that pre-pandemic. It has, though, fell completely by the wayside over the last year, but today we braved the withdrawal anger and locked those things up again for much of the afternoon. I got death stares and some twitchy bodies unsure of what they were supposed to DO with themselves now, mom! (I snuck my own phone into my pocket and checked it surreptitiously under the table.)

My daughter adjusted relatively fast once I offered to let her paint. She went nuts finishing some wood coasters she made at camp, and then she made blue whipped cream, because her third favorite leisure activity is finding excuses to use a) food dye and b) sugar. Also, make a huge mess in the kitchen. My son had a longer, more painful and vocal withdrawal. There was a lot of laying around like a beached bug, flailing his limbs, moaning, asking the questions of life, moaning again, etc. Eventually, after exhausting all major topics of philosophy, he decided to do some woodworking, and built a palanquin for the cat. He also danced around, twirled his light saber and made a magic potion which involved the fur of a cat and some of my tea. I went for a run.

Yes, there was indeed a lot of clean up to do after the fact. But I'm glad we're trying to get back to screen-free hours. Zoom school has been god awful for my kids' relationship to screens. It's going to be some hard a** parenting to walk back the damage that's been done this past year, but I'm here for it; I came out of the womb saying no. No really: no. And clean up your mess.

Six days until our corona quarantine anniversary.

Day 360: Monday, March 8

So much evening Zoom.

Five days until our corona quarantine anniversary.

Day 361: Tuesday, March 9

I'm toggling between two public meetings right now in the hopes of giving public comment. This really is the life. The pandemic life, to be specific. One of the meetings is the Board of Supervisors full meeting, which featured about an hour of comment on whether a ferris wheel should stay in our main park. Now one of the Supervisors is talking smack about some local non-profits. These are clearly the most important items facing the city. Clearly. Oh no, he's convening a taskforce! That'll get 'em. Good job, guy.

Ok, no one wants a live blog of a public meeting. What's happening here? The Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Oprah interview appears to be doing more to take down the British monarchy than the American Revolution or New Coke. Solidarity. People are yelling at each other on the Internet, it's sort of raining, my cat keeps coming to sit on me and claw my shirt while I work. It's a nice day, sort of. I appreciate that the groups I've been volunteering with are both making good things happen in this city. I feel grateful to be lending my time.

I finally got to fill out a survey today about whether I want my kids back in school. It felt slightly dreamy, though they're probably only going to be there a few days before the end of the school year, if at all. We'll see.

Four days until our corona quarantine anniversary.

Day 362: Wednesday, March 10

It's raining big fat drops here, hailing on Twin Peaks. Now hail. Blue skies between.

It's police commission Wednesday and three days until our corona quarantine anniversary.

Day 363: Thursday, March 11

I was really dragging this morning. We enrolled our kids at a late start school that's only a five to seven bike ride from our house pre-pandemic, which meant we could get up at 8 am and have lots of time to get moving. Now, though, with camp, we're on a much earlier schedule, with a much longer commute. I certainly don't regret it, but some mornings ... whew. My parenting skills this morning were not on display.

Speaking of skills, I spent about 50% of last night's Police Commission meeting marveling at the relative skill of (most of) the Commissioners compared to our elected school board. Which--how messed up is that?! Exactly no one is out here saying, wow, your police department is a paragon of goodness and efficiency. However, with President Malia Cohen now on board plus two other really strong commissioners, they have actually become my new standard of high quality public officials. It's clear that they not only read every document in detail ahead of time and prepare questions, but they also work directly with the department and other stakeholders between meetings to solve problems and create better systems and policies. All is not rosy, certainly, but compared to the JV School Board, they are varsity state champions.

To my mind, you're not doing your job sitting on a Commission--and most certainly sitting on a body to which you were elected--if you don't have at least the following memorized: detailed budget, bylaws, relevant charter language and department organizational chart. You most certainly should not be showing up to meetings having not read the materials in advance and visibly surprised by the content, as some on the SFUSD Board of Education have done recently. It's shocking. The job isn't to sit there and render judgment, it's to advance your personal and collective vision for the agency through lots and lots of pro-active, behind-the-scenes work. Which doesn't mean sending out tweets and texting staff, by the way.

Anyway, maybe I'm expecting too much? But when you see public servants, who weren't even elected, doing the work and advancing a justice agenda over here and elected public servants just sitting around looking lost and consequently thwarting their own justice agenda over here, the differences start to feel stark. The flipping Police Commission should not be showing up the School Board, folks. That's not it. That's not the path forward out of the school to prison pipeline. That's my sermon for the day. Oh, did I mention that the school board just pushed out the Superintendent and a bunch of other high level staff, as of yesterday? We have gone so far off the rails. And caught fire, with a bunch of children still trapped in the train.

In good news, Congress passed a pandemic recovery bill finally, and one of my backyard trees is blooming beautifully.

Two days until our corona quarantine anniversary.

Day 364: Friday, March 12

It's corona anniversary eve, and I did some stuff that almost felt like my old normal today; it felt amazing. The police reform organization that I volunteer with co-organized an event today in the Bayview to bring community voices to the front around the recent spike in gun violence in the neighborhood. I haven't been to any sort of group event in, I don't know, ages? So it was so nice to be outside in the sunshine around other people, even if it was for terrible reasons. 

My job was to take notes while community members told higher level police officers how to do community policing right (spoiler alert: they're not). It was such an interesting window into cops. They let slip a lot more in those conversations than they do in any public meeting. The level of defensiveness and physicality in all their engagement was the most startling. They kept touching people, including me, and always wanted to argue back or tell their "side" to any feedback from community member. And these were the good cops. The guys were friendly and all that, but it didn't give me a lot of hope. Pro tip: don't touch people if you're a cop and we're just talking, even if you think you're being friendly. You're wearing a gun.

Anyway, the other wildly formerly normal thing I did was ride the bus. I think I've been on transit twice since the start of the pandemic, both times for very brief trips. This trip was much longer and quite crowded on the way back. If you've also been off the bus for a long time, rest assured that there are still older women talking loudly in Cantonese over video on their phones (albeit through double masks) and lots of people having special time with their phones. It kind of made me teary. I didn't realize how much I missed the Cantonese loud talkers and the beep of the Clipper machine.

So that's my anniversary eve mini celebration of normal. We're not quite there yet, of course. I'm going to be in the last waves of the vaccination, which is totally fine. But it feels so nice to be around unknown people in larger groups, just doing life, again. I love the bus. I love seeing people who truly care about their communities do that work, and getting to help in my incredibly minor way.

One day until my corona quarantine anniversary.

Day 365: Saturday, March 13

It’s our corona quarantine anniversary! I think I probably miscounted somewhere along the way because it’s also 365 days since the school district closed the schools, but we pulled our kids out of school two (school) days before the closure. So, I don’t know. Honestly, though, who cares? It’s been a year.

Usually one wants to drink some champagne and celebrate on anniversaries. My main interest tonight lies in going to bed early. We marched with other public school parents to mark the passing of a year without public schools open and to pressure the school district to open the damn schools. The mayor spoke, some other elected officials spoke, etc. It was nice. My daughter was so not interested in going, but we ended up seeing one of her closest school friends and an older friend there, and she had a great day. My son danced by himself at the front of the crowd near the podium, just because. I love that that’s a thing he likes to do. It was a nice day. There was a very clueless counterprotest, which mostly consisted of one woman—a STEAM teacher—who kept shouting over the kids speaking on the mic saying, “it’s a pandemic, yo.” It was not a good look. The utter rejection of science and the experience of children by a small fraction of very vocal union folks is just depressing. She teaches kids science? She teaches?

Speaking of not reading the room, our cat dragged a bird in this morning to dismember and eat under our kitchen table. Our collective lack of surprise and near total disinterest in this horrible thing is probably the most fitting marker of our one year in quarantine. Meanwhile, my dad has had his heart valve replaced back in Chicago. I’m glad he was able to get vaxxed before the procedure, so he didn’t have to go into the operation with that fear, too. There’s a lot more optimism in this city and country right now. One in four San Franciscans are vaccinated and the US had its biggest vax day ever yesterday, doing millions of shots. We’re getting to move into the next tier in the vaccination line here, which includes people with serious illnesses and the unhoused. Go, go, go! That said, it looks like movie theaters and Disneyland will open up before public schools. For all her nuttiness, that counterprotestor has far more power in this school district than I will ever have. I am fully radicalized; I signed the school board recall petition today, and I have no regrets.

At this point, the question becomes, what constitutes the end of quarantine for me? When can I end this journal? The end is starting to come into sight.

Day 366: Sunday, March 14

It’s a rainy Sunday, perfect for slappet af, talking about vaping with the kids and watching them consume a sickening amount of candy, which they bought with their own money at the corner store. My kids now know about Y2K and I know more about what being a bacon in Roblox means. I think we’re even, yes? I almost forgot to lock up the devices for no screen Sunday afternoon, but I’m glad I did. It’s always more fun than anyone expects.

Alas, despite that, it’s going to be the kind of day where I take off my sports bra at the end of the night, embarrassed that I never actually went running. It was purely an aspirational wear today. Oh well. It’s raining anyway. I made headway on my Christmas puzzle instead. I’m now watching my daughter eat mashed potatoes out of a (clean) cat bowl while we listen to ‘90s indie hits. It’s been a good day to be alive.

Day 367: Monday, March 15

Ah, daylight savings. Or, deposit, I suppose. It was d-a-r-k dark when I woke up this morning, always a good feeling. It was also extremely, violently windy, so I did something a little wacky and took my kids to camp on the bus. My daughter was so excited about going back onto the bus. The bus! My son was quietly ok. It’s not the best bus commute. We have to transfer and take a second bus to get all the way there, and it takes about twice as long as biking. I really should have just biked. It was an adventure, though. I have no way of knowing this for sure, but my guess is that most people who were on the bus with us at that hour have already been vaccinated, either because they’re front line workers or old. So it felt a bit safer than it would have months ago. I also liked skipping one of the bus rides back and getting in a nice walk in a neighborhood I rarely visit. Tomorrow we’re back on the bike, though.

What else? I got some bad news for one of the orgs I volunteer with today. Dipshits on the move, essentially. I wish I had something kinder to say. I don’t. In better news, my kids came home excited about a metaphysics class they had today at camp. Some brilliant teacher told them he’d buy them PS 5s if they could prove that they were real. My daughter’s class had the option to discuss whether God was real instead. They were both buzzing with thoughts at dinner. They love all the “extras” they do at this camp, which are not part of the SFUSD curriculum. Metaphysics, coding, woodworking, Lego, cooking, etc. They wish they could continue this stuff when they return to a school of some sort. I wish that for them, too.

It’s a quiet night now. I’m burning the scent less grapefruit candle my daughter made at camp and translating a Danish children’s book about lying as part of my self-study regimen. My husband has mastered the art of cooking empanadas from scratch.

Day 368: Tuesday, March 16

Oh the drama. We are living in bananas, inhaling toxic helium and dancing with clowns.

Day 369: Wednesday, March 17

There's been more and more attacks of Asian-Americans in the US, including SF, over the last year. It feels like it's been getting worse over the last few months. Yesterday, a white man killed eight Asian women in Atlanta. It hurts my heart. All the violence we do against each other is painful, and it's always sadly noticeable how it ripples out into the small details of how we live with each other. The day after Trump was elected back in 2016, you could feel the level of tenseness on the street. My body was tense. People were more brusk with each other on the street. A white man yelled some white power nonsense on Market Street.

I was noticing the same phenomenon this morning as I was taking my kids to camp. After violence ripples across our communities, we are more violent and aggressive to each other on the street. It's small-ish things, like drivers ignoring the signs and speeding down "Slow Streets," taking less time at stop signs, passing closer, glaring at the world through windshields. Some of this is normal, unfortunately, because the barriers for the streets are wholly inadequate and often missing, but it was so much worse this morning. Sure, it might be coincidence, but I also think about what cars have come to look like over the last five years: larger and larger trucks that are so ridiculously militant, you can run over a full-grown woman and not even notice. And of course SUVs continue to get bigger and more prevalent. The car trends seem to be screaming about the obliteration of what little trust for each other communities have had for each other. Same thing with rise in things like sidewalk parking, door systems where you have to pass through security to even ring the doorbell, etc.

It makes me sad. I assume (?) we all want to live in a place where we can trust as many people as possible. It sounds pretty damn dreamy, in fact. We've started from a place from bloodshed, bondage, genocide and other unforgivable atrocities, so it's not like this country has had a lot to build on in the trust department, but hey, nowhere to go but up, right? Not necessarily. Hate ripples. In ways large and small, and even if you're not personally touched, hate will ripple into your life. We just have to ripple back.

Day 370: Thursday, March 18

I kept my daughter home from camp today because she’s been asking for a day to sleep in and be home for a while. Sometime this afternoon, I heard her screaming upstairs. It wasn’t a the cat is menacing me scream. It was a I’m going to die scream. So I ran upstairs and found her holding a piece of paper on fire. It was confusing at first because her hand was also blue and I thought she had on a glove, but it turns out she had been boiling down part of the giant gummy bear she got for Christmas, and adding blue food dye to the mixture, when the parchment paper she had put out to receive ... something ... got too close to the burner and caught fire. I threw a blanket over the fire and the only damage is a slight burn on the floor. Then there was a lot of hugging and rocking for a long while.

So, yeah, my daughter is fine, thankfully. We’ve since discussed how to avoid setting things on fire again and ways to put out fires if/when they do happen. Lord, though. Seeing her running at me, screaming, with fire in her hand was a lot. And the amount of food dye we go through in this house is also a lot. I used to think I was weird when I was kid when I would occasionally mix things in old yogurt containers and put them in the freezer to make potions—mainly toothpaste—but she is next, next level with her interest in making stuff.

The other big news today is hearing from various local mom friends, all previously die hard public school parents, who are ecstatic because they got letters of acceptance from private schools today. And my oldest friend, who was over the moon because today was the first day all year that both her kids were back at in-person school; they had to move to the suburbs of Portland to make this possible. Honestly, I’m genuinely happy for all them at this point. Their kids have been in such dark places with distance learning, and I don’t say that lightly. Losing these families is absolutely a self-own by the SF and Portland school districts. I think I read somewhere recently that some midwestern state lost many tens of thousands of kids because of pandemic measures. The children were there before schools closed and then gone—simply gone—when schools finally began reopening. Now whole adults, many of whom were responsible for keeping the schools closed, have jobs trying to find these kids. Nothing about that is right.

It’s raining outside and cozy inside today. A very large part of me wishes I had taken a nap a few hours ago. My hands are blue with food dye. So we force our eyes to stay open for a few hours more.

Day 371: Friday, March 19

After rain, comes sun. Karl was back this morning, at long last. Our neighborhood used to have very heavy fog through large parts of the year, but Karl has been conspicuously absent for a while. It was nice to open the curtains this morning and see our backyard totally consumed with white condensation. The ride into camp was cozy and beautiful; empty, dripping, green everywhere. I love those kinds of rides. I went running at the track after dropping off my kids and it was peaceful to run while the sun battled the fog into submission. By the time I got home (my runs are, charitably put, brief), it was bright and glorious out. I just stepped out to the corner store a few minutes ago, and the sun feels like life. This is the San Francisco weather combo I live for. Salty and sweet, always raw.

So, it's bittersweet to say that I found out this morning that my kids got into the school we applied to in Copenhagen, and the moving plan is getting more real. I wasn't expecting to hear for a while yet; it was a happy shock. There are still a lot of things to work out and decide--70% of my mental space on the topic is consumed with how to transport the cat--but it's feeling real, real. I love both San Francisco and Copenhagen. On days like this, it's hard to imagine leaving this city. But given the school board's refusal to commit to a full school schedule next year, how can we stay? My son cries every time I even hint at a day of distance learning. My daughter has inexplicably procured more Xacto knives; they were both brandishing knives at each other during breakfast after I came back from the bathroom (good times!). I'm not doing that to them again. 

Of course, Denmark is still in a modified school schedule, with middle and high schoolers in distance learning. However, when I ask myself if I trust that country or San Francisco's school board to have its act together by August, I know which one feels like a better bet. The school they got into in Copenhagen is chomping at the bit to get back to full in person learning. Conversely, my kids' current school administration in San Francisco won't even talk with parents about what they're doing to maximize the number of kids who can go back to in person learning and if they need parents to buy more furniture, etc. Literally, won't have a conversation; we continue to be treated like the enemy, when all we're asking to do is help. I quit the school site council yesterday. It's getting easier every day to disconnect myself from the school district here. 

I'll miss the friends. That'll be the hardest part, by far. Very, very hard. This was not my dream for our family or the world a year ago. It's sunny out, though, and my cilantro plant is going nuts.

Day 372: Saturday, March 20

The drama, the drama. There's a dust up with one of our School Board Commissioners over some recently unearthed tone deaf and offensive tweets she wrote a few years ago. I won't get into the whole thing, but now most elected officials in San Francisco are calling for her to step down. She appears unwilling to step down, and I'm unsurprised. The whole thing is sad.

I voted for this woman. She's a Black woman who seemed to have great intentions and insight on how to combat anti-Blackness in the school system. I absolutely want the School Board to be tackling anti-Blackness, head on. Unfortunately, this particular woman is also a dipshit, it turns out. She has good intentions but she's so caught up with tackling national dynamics and not the local context and realities--she's working from national magazine headlines and books rather than a grassroots understanding--that she keeps stepping *in it*, over and over. No one cares what you have to say about Trump, Commissioner. We care if you're digging into the pros and cons of different approaches to reducing disparities in opportunities and outcomes by race in our local school system. We care if you're educating our children. We care if the kids are thriving or not. We don't need your provocative tweets where you're working out complicated feelings about complicated topics. We don't even need tweets. We need leadership. 

It's even odds whether she'll actually step down; never a dull weekend anymore.

In happier news, I took my daughter to the Japantown mall this morning, theoretically to buy little party favors for her camp classmates. Her birthday is coming up soon. It was pleasantly crowded, though there are a lot of newly empty storefronts. This will be my daughter's second birthday in quarantine, and I'd like to make it special. Two out of nine birthdays away from friends is a lot.

Day 373: Sunday, March 21

The sun is so much stronger late in the day now. I’m easing into the effect. At the moment, I’m watching my daughter use five cups to drink one thing. It’s hard to explain.

With the sunshine has come more open national conversation about the end of the pandemic. Or, at least the waning pandemic. It’s not a smooth conversation. A lot of people are not ready to move forward, which is understandable. I talked with my oldest friend yesterday, who was telling me last summer that Oregon (where she lives) had no reason to keep the state on lockdown. Her husband is an ER doctor, and I didn’t know how to process what they were saying. It honestly seemed crazy, Trump-stuff, though they’re both solid progressives. 

Here we are, though, almost a year later, and I get it now. We locked down dumb stuff, protected the wealthy and shoved the poor into harm’s way, providing next to no protections or support. Instead of locking down the wealthy and public services, we should have helped the most vulnerable shelter-in-place, heaping resources on them to stay safe and comfortable. And now here we are, in the deeply awkward position of having to explain why the bluest states have had some of the worst, most inequitable COVID experiences. I apologized to my friend yesterday for not understanding sooner. Apparently, there’s a moment in Oregon to legislate mandatory masking and distancing until some future indeterminate point. It’s ludicrous, and terrifying.

The sun is helping us stay lazy today here. I’m doing my usual things: making bread, going for a run, hanging out with my kids during screen lockdown time and puzzling. My cat jumped the fence and rubbed himself vigorously into our neighbor’s newly watered dirt garden. Oh, I’ve recently heard from a couple of people I met in person after only knowing them over Zoom that they’re shocked that I’m not short. I guess my camera angle makes me look super short. I’m not, though. I’ve always been tall, so it was such an unexpected note to hear. Me? Short? I couldn’t even fathom.

Day 374: Monday, March 22

A pedal came off our cargo bike on the way to camp this morning. Unexpected. So we had a soft, sunny walk and bus ride in. Oh well. I’ve been feeling sick since I got home, which I’m confident is unrelated. The nice thing about taking the bus right now is that it’s full of people most likely to have already been vaccinated and also extremely cautious: first responders and seniors. I’m drinking tea and lying low.

Day 375: Tuesday, March 23

I am listening to the sorriest Board of Education meeting. There are 1,000 people on this Zoom webinar, largely because one of the Board members used the N word on Twitter in reference to Asian Americans--in a school district in which Asian Americans are one of the biggest segments of the population. The woman still refuses to step down. This Board is such a mess. Like a steaming hot pile of mess, and every time you think it can't possibly get worse, it does.

One of the peculiarities of the United States is that you haven't arrived until you have been able to express the anger of your sh*tty situation on a national public platform. This is not a critique of public anger or an indictment of anyone's efforts to finally be seen and respected. It is an observation that our common bond in this country is rage. There is a racially and gendered history to this--we are all working within the stifling framework of white men's emotional range. I wonder what this process looks like in less violent countries. Right now we are finally hearing the pain of Asian Americans and the anger over the racism and hate that they've been forced to endure for too long. It is absolutely spilling over in this meeting despite the Board President's efforts to suppress it. Step down, lady.

Speaking of anger, there have been multiple mass shootings in the last few days. I hate this country sometimes. We are coming out of this pandemic even sicker than we were going in.

Day 376: Wednesday, March 24

This is a belated post. I got caught up listening to the SF DCCC meeting last night and forgot all about this journal. I'm still processing what's happening, except to say that San Francisco is not okay.

Day 377: Thursday, March 25

I continue to feel lousy, so I’m not going to attempt to recount all the drama at the school board. Between last night’s meeting and the one that just happened, let’s just say that there is a lot of shit going down. It’s messy and it’s ugly, and it’s not going anywhere. This illness is the usual cold/ear infection that makes me cough and thus worry about COVID. But I have no fever or other worrying symptoms and I’m sneezing, so I’m 99% confident this is just a cold and mild ear infection. I hope it goes away soon, though. It’s hard to motivate to run and generally do more than the bare minimum of life.

Newsom announced today that he’s opening vaccination up to anyone over 50 on April 1, and anyone over 16 on April 15–that’s me! I’m excited to get punctured. What a relief that will be, and a game changer for our family and city. It seems unreal because it’s such good news.

Day 378: Friday, March 26

It's blow your mind gorgeous today (again). We're apparently in the midst of a horrible drought year, and it's strange that the fog is so absent, but the result is day after day of perfect blue days. My daughter is celebrating her birthday today at camp and I was on the hook for getting cupcakes, so I sat in Lafayette Park this morning for a couple hours until it was time for the closest bakery to open. Lafayette is one of my favorite parks in San Francisco. It's large and craggy with an amazing playground and this labyrinth of special places that are unexpectedly beautiful in sort of sideways ways. It's very secret garden.

The park this morning was hopping. There were jumbles of toddlers out with their parents and nannies, singing songs and being wondrous. Deeper in the park, I followed the sound of a high school choir doing warmups. I couldn't tell if the sound was coming from the boom box of two older women stretching in an otherwise empty grove or some space hidden by trees. I can't imagine why anyone would play a recording of choral warmups, so I assume the choir was hidden? IDK, but it moved me in a way I didn't expect. I really miss choir rehearsals, even bad ones.

Later on, I huddled on a parklet in front of the still-closed bakery, frantically trying to assemble goodie bags for my daughter's classmates before the wind could blow away the candy. I must have looked mad. But hey, I got it done, got the cupcakes and something for my son's classroom potluck and it was all good. I'd do it again.

My kids's school is going back two days a week, not quite full days, in late April. The court case against the school district failed to compel the district to open up any more. It's incredibly depressing. Meanwhile, a cabal of white dudes in Georgia just signed yet another voter restriction law into place and a Black woman legislator got arrested for trying to watch them do this heinous thing. There's a ship blocking the Suez Canal. Police in LA are spending millions of dollars and beating people up to stop people from protesting sweeps of homeless people ... who could have used those millions of dollars. I'm trying to figure out summer camp for my kids. Politicians in SF are breaking my heart in the usual ways. I would like to believe society doesn't have to be this awful, but sometimes it's hard to remember. Even in this beautiful weather.

Day 379: Saturday, March 27

It’s absurd that people living in San Francisco aren’t the happiest people in the world. The weather here is divine and so utterly forgiving, minus the wildfire smoke season. We should be floating around, grinning and hugging each other.

I rode out to the Presidio this morning with my daughter to get new swimsuits for my kids to wear at the paddle board camp they’re going to next week. (I am so jealous.) The Presidio was elevated paradise. The trees and flowers are bursting and the world smells like 1,000 flavors of green, the sun is strong but the air cool, the water blue. I’ve spent the rest of the day in our backyard or on our top floor deck, playing the role of human solar panel. It is gorgeous out. Why aren’t we happy?

I’ve been working through some feelings from a series of political paper cuts. Some days I want to delete the Internet from my computer like we used to do in the ‘90s, so I don’t have to stumble on yet more bad news. I don’t think I’m ready to write about it all here; I’m still trying to be the person who operates from a place of love and not rage, and I’m not there yet. Nor have I right sized. I’ll just say that it hurts to see your city move in such bad directions when it directly impacts your life. It really fucking hurts.

Back to good news. The man who cuts our hair came over to our backyard today and we’re all a lot more respectable looking again. Stores have started to open up more all over the city. It’s so nice to see these budding signs of life. Lap swimming is going to reopen soon at the public pools. I plan to reserve some lanes. I’m planning to give in fully to my own brand of reserved hedonism for the remainder of my life. My top of my hair is still radiating warmth from the sun.

Day 380: Sunday, March 28

I played a game with my daughter today called “Human Pastry,” where I lay still in the sun while she used various kitchen implements on me, from tongs to butter knife and cat spray bottle. I particularly enjoyed the part where she went house with the rolling pin. I also loved the moment when I looked out the window and noticed that there were two green and red parrots eating on a branch no more than five feet away. The parrots eventually noticed us gawking, too, and then there was a long stare off. They won. But really, we both did. We’ve lived with a flock of green parrots in our neighborhood for the decade we’ve lived in this house, but I’ve never seen them up close before. That felt special.

So, yeah, no screen time Sunday continues to take us in new, interesting directions. My son had his usual meltdown this morning about the prospect of his iPad being locked away. He continues to have a long detox period. He gets there, though. He rode off on our smaller cargo bike with my husband, who was on the larger one, to go father-son family grocery shopping this afternoon, which hits the intersection of many of my favorite Venn diagrams. It’s his half birthday today and we celebrated with blueberry muffin mix batter and half the Birthday song. He told me he’ll only celebrate half birthdays until he’s 13 because it’s only for kids. I hope he forgets that promise. I frequently have to do math to figure out how old I am.

Sunday has otherwise been Sunday. I mended some clothes, washed a filthy jacket, baked bread, went for a run. We also talked to my brother in Denmark. He’s hitting the wall with quarantine life there, and my heart goes out to him. He’s been working from home this whole time, too, and I don’t think it’s doing anything good for him. People need people. He seems significantly more excited about the prospect of us moving there soon than in the past. We ogled his bunny, Sufus. That’s about all. The fog finally came back tonight.

Day 381: Monday, March 29

Spring break. Woohoo! Well, sort of. Not really. I rode my kids out to the end of 18th Street this morning and dropped them off at paddle boarding camp. Most years pre-pandemic, we’d take Amtrak north to visit friends and family in Portland over spring break. Last year, we were supposed to go to Disney Land in LA (our first time ever!) but had to cancel once the pandemic hit, and we did quarantine. At this point in the pandemic, I know that my kids will flip out if they have to sit at home doing nothing, with no other kids to see or talk to all day. So it’s paddle camp—which they loved. They came home crispy and red.

There’s a sort of split happening right now in this country. It’s been happening throughout the pandemic, but it’s been getting stronger and more pronounced within blue cities and states over the last month. Essentially, some people are looking at the falling death and hospitalization rates and the high vaccination rates and seeing that we’re on the last months of this thing. Yay, it’s ending! And others are convinced that we’re always about to be hit by another variant, that vaccines won’t save us and that the pandemic is forever. Careful, it’s not ending! There are highly respected doctors in my Twitter timeline trying to spread the good news that vaccines are truly the miracles they seem to be, and that masks and distancing are rapidly becoming unnecessary. At the same time, the CDC director came out today with a plea to everyone to stay locked down because she’s panicked about variant cases surging in some midwestern and New England states. So I have people in my Twitter timeline also calling for a total national lockdown. “A real one” this time.

It’s weird. It’s weird, y’all. We seem to be living in totally separate factual universes, just like in Trump times. The split on attitudes about corona mitigation measures used to be a Republican-Democrat thing. Now, I feel like I can’t talk about the virus with anyone for fear that they’ll be operating on a completely different set of facts. Texas and Florida have done away with all COVID-19 mitigation measures and their cases continue to fall. Why? I don’t know. No one seems to know. Media stories are invariably bad news (there’s been a study, and there’s a overrepresentation of bad virus news in US media coverage). So I end up feeling like I’m making a political decision and not an informed decision when I try to parse fact from fiction. It’s not good. And it absolutely pervades so many pressing issues right now, including school reopening. We don’t have facts in common, and there’s no way to communicate with people who are living in an alternate universe full of pseudo-science and clickbait. Is this the most American problem?

But hey, it’s spring break! We can at least agree on that, right?

Day 382: Tuesday, March 30

Today is my daughter’s ninth birthday. Last year, her birthday fell soon after the start of the pandemic and we were still in the state of quarantining groceries. I remember telling her that we were sorry that we had to have such a small celebration, away from her friends, but next year would surely be different. A year later, it’s different but still not quite normal. I know other parents have been having outdoor, modified birthday party get togethers for their kids for many months. I would happily throw a sort-of party for my daughter in our backyard or in a park right now, but the pandemic hasn’t just impacted health concerns. It’s also wreaked havoc on my kids’ abilities to make and keep friendships. Her best friend from this time last year moved to a different city. 

My daughter changed schools at the beginning of this past school year, but has never set foot in her classroom. She sort of knows a few kids from outside activities, but those are very early stage friendships and there is such limited opportunity for them to blossom. Let’s put it this way: if they’re holding them, no one is inviting her to parties either. So, today’s celebration was strictly family only. (I did send cupcakes to her camp last week, so she had some semblance of a group party experience.)

All that bittersweetness aside, it was a fun day. We hopped in a Zip Car and took her to Claire’s, the American Girl Doll store and then a macarons shop. She didn’t know where we were going and it was so fun to watch her jaw drop when she finally peaked through a tunnel and glittering white flower blossoms raining down from a tree and spotted the doll store. It was ridiculously magical. So yes, we indulged in some rampant and overblown capitalism to make her day special. Burned some fossil fuels. She wanted to eat McDonalds for the first time ever, too. That was lunch. She had a homemade burger for dinner. It was completely over the top. Nothing like what we normally do for our kids’ birthdays—we’re one of those friends and experiences are more valuable families. But I have no regrets. My mom sent her a “cake” box that burst open with candy and fake butterflies when she took off the lid. I’ve done a lot of doll hair today. Absolutely no regrets.

I do hope, however, that we can go back to celebrating with family, friends and adventures in the future. If kids are forced to wear masks and stay away from each other by this time next year, I will scream.

Day 383: Wednesday, March 31

It's a sugar hangover day, among other things. Everyone was a handful to get out the door this morning, but we eventually got there. It's a long ride, essentially cross town, but surprisingly pleasant. To its credit, the City has built a lot more protected bike lanes in SOMA over the last couple years. It took people dying to get them built, but they're here now and I can do this ride with my kids in the larger cargo bike and be on either slow streets or protected lanes for 90% of the ride. Basically, it makes the ride possible. I appreciate the hell out of biking. I drove us all around for our adventure yesterday, and it's so damn stressful and claustrophobic.

It's also ridiculously beautiful out today. Again. Like, low '70s, clear blue skies. I sat in the backyard and just absorbed sunlight for a good hour this afternoon while I took some calls. The white butterflies are back, the fat bumblebees are buzzing, my mint is sprouting seven lives.

So, it's jarring to also be following the trial of Derek Chauvin over in Minneapolis. Chauvin is the cop who murdered George Floyd last summer. He and his lawyers appear to think that Floyd is the man on trial, as well as the witnesses who pleaded with Chauvin to stop suffocating him. A kid had to be called as a witness to the murder, in addition to many adults. God I hope Chauvin is found guilty as hell. I am so worried he won't. There's no reason to think he will be, based on similar cases. I want so badly to believe this country is capable of doing the right thing at long last. I want so badly to believe. But I'm afraid to get my hopes up. "He was doing what he was trained to do." It's so right and so wrong. So, so wrong.

Day 384: Thursday, April 1

You will think that I’m writing an April Fools Day post, but I’m not. Yesterday, the SF Board of Education commissioner who wrote some tweets that referred to Asian Americans as house n-words and who subsequently got stripped of her VP title and committee seats by her fellow commissioners, filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the school district and the other commissioners. She also reserved the right to sue some public commenters who called her a racist. The actual filing is ... imaginative. Passionate. The situation is bananas. But, like, rotten bananas that attract all the fruit flies and stink up your kitchen.

Deep sigh. 

I voted for this woman. I know I’ve written about this before, but I’ll say it again. The aggrieved commissioner is a Black woman (married to a wealthy white developer) who was talking about something that does need a lot of discussion in San Francisco: the complicated racial dynamics between Asian Americans and Black residents in SF, and how white supremacy culture has driven people apart who should be allies. She was absolutely right in that respect. However, she didn’t so much start a conversation as drive people away from it by using violent rhetoric that devalued the very people she said she wanted to engage. In her lawsuit, she refers to it as a “seasoned social metaphor.” Points for delusion.

So now she wants to bankrupt the school district and her fellow commissioners—and the schools still aren’t open. You can’t write this any more bananas, even if you work for Bravo. I have basically given up on TV in favor of watching these public meetings; this is like Real Housewives meets Parks and Rec meets a sad UNICEF documentary.

In slightly less dramatic news, my daughter came home from paddle camp yesterday with a large skin rash. She was pretty upset and now refuses to go back to the camp. I’m sad that something that she was enjoying has now spoiled. This has been a strange year for her in so many ways, and I really wanted her to have a nice, relaxing spring break. Ce la vie. She’s had a nice day of sitting around, eating frozen fruit and listening to her stories. We took an abortive trip down to the park earlier. My son still got to go to paddle camp and have a good time. I’ve spent a fair amount of time enjoying another unseasonably warm day in the backyard. Theoretically, I was working.

Day 385: Friday, April 2

It's Good Friday. It's good, Friday. It's good: Friday.

I'm not religious, so the holiday doesn't mean much to me, though I am striving to make this Friday nice and good. It's my cat's seventh (?) birthday. We plan to leave him alone and give him a bit of fresh pork at dinner tonight. My daughter stayed home from camp again today and currently doing something on the stove that I don't intend to clean up. My son enjoyed a mini Olympics at camp. I'm doing that difficult thing of editing for clarity while not losing the essence of the tone of a story. I've been working on a short story for a couple months. It's been through two rounds of feedback from my writing critique group, so I'm feeling like I want to wrap it up. I kind of love it. Once I do some polishing, I'll send it out and see if it makes the publishing cut.

Otherwise, I'm drinking tea, doing laundry, helping save public education and fighting off the feeling of heavy eyelids. I took a brief accidental nap yesterday and still went to bed ridiculously early with no problem. A respected doctor that I follow announced yesterday on Twitter that she thinks San Francisco will be ready to end the mask mandate by June 15th thanks to the vaccination rate and amazing efficacy of the vaccines, including the way they suppress transmission. It was so incredible to hear an actual date for an ending point to all this. I think something about that told my body that it was okay to let go of the stress of the pandemic a little. Hence the tiredness. I'm sure there'll be a cat sack of political fights over the exact date when we can finally take off our masks. A date, though. We have a proposal for a date. It's really ending. This journal may end, too. You'll have to call me if you want updates on the goodness of our Fridays.

Day 386: Saturday, April 3

The heat this past week finally broke yesterday, and today was purely cool. My favorite kind of weather is the day the heat breaks and it turns cool after a long heat wave. My son is cat and fish sitting again for neighbors and he and my daughter made a long date of going over to our friends’ apartment last night by themselves, which was charming. They’ve been fighting a fair amount this week. Lots of people throwing around the word “idiot.” So they can go feed all the fish together, as far as I’m concerned. I slept a shocking amount last night (well, not shocking to me), the kind of sleep where you wake up feeling like you regenerated an organ overnight.

Today itself was a yawn of a day. I took my son to the Botanical Gardens and we sat around talking and reading. I’ve been meaning to talk to him about porn, and I finally did. Which, you can imagine how excited he was to have that conversation. He’s not watching the stuff right now, but I figure, better to talk about how to understand what his friends will be excited about sooner than later. We also talked a lot about Minecraft updates and how to turn a profit on the Room of Requirement; he’s re-reading Harry Potter right now. 9th Avenue is roaring back to life. There was a birthday party of sorts parading in front of Tartine, the Boba place was hopping and the sidewalks were dense with people. There was also, less happily, a stupid number of people trying to drive into the park and look for free parking. The 44 bus was stuck on 9th Avenue, going nowhere, for the entire time we waited a lunch place to make food for my son. They weren’t fast.

It’s the end of the night now, my daughter just helped my husband make banana bread, my son is off scooping litter for money and I’m trying to think of way to make Easter fun this year. I’m feeling exhausted by the 1-2-3 of kid birthday, cat birthday and Easter Sunday in just a few days. Usually these important holidays are more spread out. Last year, I went nuts for Easter. We turned it into Cat Appreciation Day. Long story. This year, I’m keeping it more basic, but I have too much pride in my egg hunts to make it dull. I really need my kids to go upstairs to their rooms so I can start shoving chocolate and gummy bears into plastic eggs.

Day 387: Sunday, April 4

Happy non-religious Easter! My daughter's friend came over this afternoon and the kids had a robust egg/candy hunt. I'm tired.

Day 388: Monday, April 5

More and more I get the sense that our already fractured country is splitting at the seams. In blue cities and states, there's this basic ideological friction over whether the pandemic is ending or not. Or whether it will ever end. I suppose it's natural at this stage of the pandemic, when we're well on our way to everyone being vaccinated but not quite there, to have some people ready to look forward and others too scarred by what they've been through to be ready to see hope. It's a problem, though, and the messaging at the national and state level continues to leave a lot wanting. The CDC director came out a week or so ago saying that she's terrified about the future because of coronavirus variants and then the next day said that the vaccines are 100% effective. Huh? I guess it can't be easy to have a single message for the whole country at this point, since different regions are at different stages. Still, ugh.

"Spring break" is over so we're back to "school" today. After the looong commute across town for paddle camp last week, the long commute to school camp felt like a breeze this morning. My son is on the electric bike for the ride and is now able to go at speed with me. My husband has started having him ride home alone for part of the journey home while my husband stays at the track with my daughter for her after-school/camp running club. I trust my kid and my husband, but it freaks me out. I am not emotionally ready for this development, and won't be. Ever.

My kids start (some) in-person actual school at the end of the month, which is good news. However, they'll be getting a whopping total of 10 in-person days of school for the entire year, assuming nothing goes wrong. Soooo ... it's more of a Nancy Pelosi clap than a cheer I'm feeling. Their school camp is scrambling to figure out what to do; I appreciate that they're basically going to lose money in order to provide a modified schedule for families for the rest of the year. My kids will go to school for two, not full days, and then they'll go to school camp the other three days. No, it doesn't make any sense. Ce la SF vie.

In good news, I got summoned for jury duty. Can't wait.

Day 389: Tuesday, April 6

I had an exciting morning at the DMV getting a real ID. And by exciting, I mean awkward and slightly unreal. There are a ton of signs at the DMV--a ton--but there's a notable lack of signs about whether you need to get into the massive line out front if you have an appointment. One instinctively runs to the line to make sure you can get in sooner than later, but then you stand there wondering if you should have chanced walking to the front of the line and double checking whether you could walk right in if you have an appointment. The answer is you do need to wait in the line. 

Before that, I spent time wrapped in our bike box blanket in Alamo Park, answering texts and emails while I waited for my appointment time after dropping off my kids. There's something very liberating about sitting in a public space in a blanket. I am definitely doing this more often. Quite cozy.

This afternoon, the woman who runs by my house most days blazed over and did her usual thing: one very impressive pull-up on the tree in front of our house. I don't know this woman, but I love that she makes me feel like I'm doing a pull up. I can't do a pull up.

Right now, I'm listening to the Board of Education meeting. It is a parody of itself. Children playing at student council. They should just let the actual student council kids run the thing. They'd do a better job at this point. The only respectable commissioners with any insight and drive to make things happen are the student delegates. Commissioner Foster-Hines for president of the BoE, please.

Day 390: Wednesday, April 7

We're getting so close to the date when I'll/all Californians over 16 will be eligible for the vaccine. Just about a week to go. Newsom announced that he's totally reopening the state on June 15, too. It's happening, y'all! The end, that is.

Meanwhile, it's SF Police Commission Wednesday. I made it through six hours of the Board of Education last night. I hope my eyes hold out for a long night of SFPD reform. They are telling me they're not happy. Not at all. Not one little bit. I'm eating all the carrots tonight.

Day 391: Thursday, April 8

I finally had a chance to see my husband today, at long last. We've been passing ships in the night for a few days thanks to all the evening meetings and early mornings. It's sort of amazing that that's even possible given we're rarely more than 50 feet from each other at any given time. I feel like I also haven't seen my cat in a few days. I'm less worried about that; there's clear evidence that he's getting fed on the regular.

It's been a beautifully ordinary day otherwise. No huge political news. Well, at least nothing that I can write onto the Internet. I've been banging out words and policy documents all day.

The world feels looser, though. When I first started taking my kids to school camp, commuting in the morning felt like this rare thing we were doing in an almost movie-set-like city. The streets were hushed and the few people out walking their dogs, etc, would look at us in wonder. You're going somewhere? People do that? Now, save for the lack of MUNI trains and ubiquitous masks, it just feels like a normal commute. There are tons of people out, going places. I don't exactly love the increase in cars on the street, but I do love to see the shops starting to crawl back to life and all the people out, living their lives. There was a point at which it felt like this wouldn't be possible. Bloom, world.

Seven more days until I can sign up for a vaccine.

Day 392: Friday, April 9

Last night's dinner conversation was all about my kids' negotiating the politics of different friends going back to school on different days from their camp. It was a totally normal conversation, but it is so strange to hear kids say, "Friend X is going to go to school on Monday and Tuesday, and I'm going to school on Thursday and Friday, so ..." Sometimes I'm jarred into remembering how abnormal this situation is. Mass universal public education was a deeply imperfect 100 year experiment that appears to be coming to an end if these are ordinary sentences now for kids. Let public education crumble and the US' decline will be sealed.

Anyway, this morning I took the extra long way home from dropping my kids off at school camp to soak in some sun. I've had evening meetings every day this week and am feeling fried. It was nice to ride out to the ocean and watch the waves for a while. Good medicine.

Right now I'm feeling wrung out of words and looking forward to being utterly formless this evening. I will ooze onto the couch and be nothing. I will have no thoughts. I will dream about petty whims and new bikes. I will enjoy the sunset. If I had wine, I'd drink it. (I don't, alas.) Realistically, I will encourage/badger my daughter to clean her room, which is a multi-hour process that ends in something that will nonetheless make me cringe on an aesthetic and hygiene level. Good vibes to you and yours.

Six more days until I can sign up for a vaccine.

Day 393: Saturday, April 10

There’s been lots of drama recently at my kids’ school camp about some magical tree my son likes to climb. I won’t get into the drama here, but part of the outcome of my husband trying to help him take a more community-minded approach to the problem was that we agreed to go check out the tree ourselves. So we rode over to Lafayette Park—one of my favorite parks in the city—to check out said tree. I was imagining a big leafy, branch-y Oak, but it was some cousin of a palm tree, more oval than Y. My husband spent a lot of time climbing in the tree with them and then spotting them on the ground while I watched our stuff, dog watched and soaked in sun. There was a dog wearing a birthday party hat. I tried to climb the tree, too, but didn’t manage to make it even to the first platform. Alas.

We also ate at a restaurant (outside) for the first time in over a year, for lunch. It was a wholly foreign experience; my son took up my challenge to try eating the bowl, too. Life was bursting all over the place.

I’m sorry to say that one of the more conservative Supervisors here has starting ripping out the Slow Streets near my near my neighborhood. I am unsurprised but still full of despair. Seriously, have people not noticed a) how happy people are using them and b) that the world is burning. We’re trying to encourage more driving—why, Gordon Mar? Despite this knuckleheadedness, we had nice rides on two of the remaining slow streets to and from the park. Now we’re all doing our respective things. I’m reading, my son is memorizing fan pages for various video games, my daughter is drinking in the vast night in the backyard while listening to audio books and my husband is playing a VR game with a friend who lives nearby (remotely). For some reason my cat—who is no one’s lap cat—loves to sit on our lap or just be as nearby as possible whenever we put on the VR headset. It’s inexplicable.

Five more days until I can sign up for a vaccine.

Day 394: Sunday, April 11

We had some visitors over, my daughter baked brownies by herself and made some kid cocktail in the blender, I'm unsuccessfully attempting to give away my overflow cilantro and baking bread. Except, it's really late and I haven't even begun to heat up the oven. It's going to be a late night.

Four more days until I can sign up for a vaccine.

Day 395: Monday, April 12

I'm sitting here babysitting my son as he hammers out an outline for his big, nearly overdue history project. I checked his Google Classroom overdue list for the first time in a couple months just now. Surprise! He hasn't turned in an assignment basically since he started school camp. JFC. I'm so torn on how to feel right now. On the one hand, I want him to do his school work and learn something. On the other hand, he's having a great time at camp and doing a ton of social learning, making up for nearly 11 months in isolation. IDK. It's not a situation I want either way. He will get this history project finished, at least.

I was trying to participate in a group edit project for the police reform organization I volunteer with at the same time as helping my kid. I'm frazzled now. It's been a while since I've had to directly balance my own work with kid work support; I remember now how much I don't miss it.

Three days until I can sign up for a shot.

Day 396: Tuesday, April 13

There is no middle continuum in this country where news isn't extreme. Instead, we get the happy news, like that everyone over 16 can now sign up to get vaccinated. That's me! And we have the devastating news, of another Black man (Daunte Right) murdered by a police officer (Kim Potter), while the trial of another cop (Derek Chauvin) who murdered a Black man (George Floyd) is still going on, directly followed by another mass shooting at a school. Oh, and that the CDC is pausing distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because it's caused a tiny number of blood clots in women in a certain age range (hey, just give it to the men, then!).

So, while I really have no right to be in the grand scheme of things, I'm tired. I'm literally tired; I need to get more sleep tonight. And I'm tired that we can't seem to become collectively better humans still. I'm also having some trouble reconciling my excitement to be eligible for the vaccine with the complete lack of available appointments. Oh well. That'll come together. The collective humanity part, though ... I suspect that if I get some sleep tonight I'll feel more optimistic. Maybe with no justification. I think if I hadn't been volunteering with this police reform organization for the last nine months or so, I'd feel far more despairing. The lesson continues to be to get involved and find and support Black-led organizations who have already been doing this work. If they want you.

In lighter news, I'll be spending the next hour or so making sure my kids both catch up on the long-term writing projects they've both been neglecting for school. I spent some time this morning catching up with my friend with the kid in crisis, and the child continues to be in a very dark and volatile place. My heart hurts so much for that family. For all the families in crisis right now, for one preventable reason or another. Hold each other. (And get some sleep, if you can.)

Day 397: Wednesday, April 14

I'm trying to write from an optimistic place. I got the sleep I was aiming for, last night. So I really have no excuse, except that it's been a banner day and I feel like roadkill, with a long night ahead of me to come. Whatever. I'm sure it'll pass. I continue to try to book a vaccine appointment, and I almost thought I had one, but someone else was quicker. Good for them. I'm sure my moment will come soon enough.

It's a police commission Wednesday, and I suspect/would hope that it'll be a spicier one given national events. I've been wrong before, though. Looks like someone just dropped off their own "free" box of random shit next to our little library out front. Spoiler alert: please don't do this. Just put it in front of your own house. It's not hard. I know getting rid of the random junk is going to become my chore within the next 24 hours.

What good news can I share? Is there any? There's been a lot of sunshine today. It was a terrible commute this morning--a pre-pandemic level of terrible with so much aggressive driving and random obstacles at every conceivable turn--but we made it intact and on time. On another day, I'd have a sense of humor about how bad it was. Today I'm just relishing how much faster it pushed me to run when I stopped at the track for my obligatory, incredibly brief exercise afterwards. I've come to really enjoy listening to the Octavia's Parables podcast while I run; it's a little bit of church for me. I'm 100% in a place of transition in my life. I think we all are with this pandemic. And I appreciate that the podcast feels like a wiser, fellow traveler in that journey of apocalyptic transition.

The Governor declined to commit to fully reopening schools in California next fall. Again, it would be funny if it weren't such dark humor. I plan to sublimate my shadow self in looking up what the heck "tub cleaner" is and how to get it, and then cleaning the fuck out of our washing machine. Tomorrow will be better.

Day 398: Thursday, April 15

The Chicago Police Department shot and killed a 13-year-old kid. He stopped, put his arms up and they murdered him. I hope Lori Lightfoot resigns for the way she's handled the situation, and so much other CPD violence. I know nothing about the politics of that city anymore, though, so it's impossible to know if there's any cause to be hopeful. I feel nothing but rage at the moment.

Day 399: Friday, April 16

I got a vaccine appointment! Two to be exact, the first one next week, and I'm unexpectedly emotional about such a pedestrian moment. I may have cried a tiny bit in the bathroom. Now I'm just smiling. I'm at relatively low risk for COVID-19 and have been very happy/thrilled! to have people who truly are at high risk take their turns first, but it also feels good to know that I get to be part of the collective exit strategy. We are so fortunate that these vaccines are truly mini miracles, shooting the moon. I've never been so happy about an appointment with a needle!

It's been a good day to be alive, overall. Would that more people felt that way. It feels like there's a new mass shooting in this country every day now. There's so much bad news out there. So today I'm holding on to the good, holding on to the joy of working with other people to bring more good to the world. I'm holding on to the promise of a stiff needle in the arm.

Day 400: Saturday, April 17

Day 400. It’s been a better 100 days than days 1 to 300. A whole lot better. We got a new president, amazing vaccines that are rapidly defanging coronavirus and a society on the brink of reopening. I’ve felt far more hopeful in the last 100 days than I have in years, once we got past January 20th. So, it feels good to be here and to know that I’m heading to the end of these journal posts.

However, it reaching day 400 and the prospect of starting a new blog entry for days 401-? tomorrow begs the question, when is the pandemic over? When do I stop writing journal entries? I titled this thing, “Quarantine Journal” when I started it over a year ago. I’m getting vaccinated next week. California is supposed to open up entirely on June 15th. Much of the country is already totally open. But. Schools remain closed with little commitment to reopen them fully next year, and our state and city government are still talking about making us all wear masks well after all adults have had access to the vaccine and we’ve reached herd immunity, for fear of infecting children. Other countries and states are ready to move beyond these measures soon, but it looks like our lives won’t fully be open until quarantine-like restrictions are lifted for our kids. If school remains janky, our lives can’t go back to normal. Our kids remain locked in a pandemic that’s ended for everyone else.

I know that I’ll write day 401 tomorrow. Beyond that, though, I’m not sure when this ends. That’s sort of the big question now. When is the end of the pandemic? When can I end this journal?