Quarantine Journal (Updated Daily) Days 401-500
We're still sheltering in place. Schools are
Note: I don't edit these posts, so they can be raw.
Day 401: Sunday, April 18
Starting a new blog post of the next 100 days of this pandemic is always a depressing moment. Four hundred days ago, I was hoping this would be a two-week project. The good news is that we’re definitely in the end phase. Deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19 continue to plummet in SF and California. So I dearly hope that this will be my last 100 days post, and that I won’t even reach day 500 on July 27. Maybe that seems optimistic. I’m in optimistic mood today, though. Today was a good day to be alive.
Karl the fog let us have a little warmth in the morning while he chilled over the western Bay, and then came in strong in the afternoon, tired of our nonsense. I taught my daughter my hereditary brownie recipe, made the weekly bread, took a run, did some work and explored the wide world of washing machine self-cleaning. Wild, right? Our kitchen reeks of bleach from my failed attempt to clean out all the gunk around the door, but the special tub cleaner stuff I got last week appears to have worked some miracles; it is now part of my religion.
During all the excitement, my son went over to a friend’s house to play D&D in the backyard. I'm still a little shaken that I have a kid who’s into D&D. My brother played when I was a kid, and I assumed/hoped it was a dying fad. And yet. Whatever makes you happy, kid. Speaking of which, I am in love with a TikTok channel of a cat who makes cocktails. I realize that I am the absolutely last person to learn about this thanks to my advanced age, but my daughter is obsessed with the fact that said cat always adds “a piece of cat” to the drink at the end, and I am 100% with her. Whatever makes you happy, kids. Just know that someday you’ll come to me with wide eyes about the washing machine self-clean mode, too. Small delights get us through these waning days.
Day 402: Monday, April 19
There were more families out this morning, taking their kids to school. My kids don’t go back (for a whopping total of 10 days) until next Thursday, but it’s nice to signs of life in the schools we pass to get to camp. I don’t love the increase in car traffic, but I also don’t begrudge people in the slightest. This has been a long time coming.
Today was the closing arguments in the Derek Chauvin trial. The prosecution’s closing line was something to the effect of, “George Floyd didn't die because his heart was too large, but because Mr. Chauvin's heart is too small.” I am nursing a small hope that some measure of justice is served for the family of Mr. Floyd, but remain pro-actively depressed about the outcome. Please do the right thing, jury. For once, do the right thing. I sometimes wonder if the Care Bears were the most radical superheroes to ever be broadcast on American TV, with those beams of care and love that cut through every mess. Maybe we should bring them back, and make it a show about ending the justice system as we know it?
It was a foggy, moody day that has broken into a sunny evening. My cat appears to have eaten a bird underneath our kitchen table. Ask me why I know.
Day 403: Tuesday, April 20
Guilty, guilty, guilty. Derek Chauvin is guilty. There's no real justice in those words, but it is a relief. It's the least the jury could do for someone who was so obviously, disgustingly, despicably guilty.
The purely happy news for today is that I got my first vaccine shot! I have a dose of Pfizer in my arm, a selfie with cardboard Fauci and a corny spring in my step. My arm is a bit sore, but so far I haven't felt any other side effects. My vaccine appointment was at the Moscone Center downtown, and I was amazed by the efficiency and speed of the whole operation. It was no more than 10 minutes between getting in line outside and getting a needle in my arm. Then 15 minutes to wait for side effects and then out. I was absolutely the woman who teared up when I first got there. Moscone is an enormous convention center, and the whole thing felt simultaneously dystopian (virus!) and hopeful. I still can't believe I got vaccinated.
Back in 2011 or 2012ish (? I have no idea when this really was), when SARS hit, I remember being herded like cattle through endless lines at the Bill Graham center to get vaccinated for that virus. I was either pregnant or breastfeeding at that point and my oldest kid was super young, and I remember feeling overwhelmed and scared by the fact that my son and I were getting the odd vaccines for extra vulnerable people. It felt very horror movie-ish to be forcibly separated from my husband in the lines and winnowed and then winnowed again, unsure if anyone understood that I was pregnant (or was it breastfeeding?). That experience was so much more chaotic and fleshy than the Moscone one today. There's something slightly terrifying about a society being really good at administering vaccines against deadly pandemic viruses. One wishes it were a truly novel experience that didn't require sustained expertise.
My kids came home banged up and out of spirits after camp. I guess my son fell down some stairs and someone took my daughter's Baby Yoda. It's a day for hugs. So many complicated feelings today, and it's all okay.
Day 404: Wednesday, April 21
Baby Yoda is found. It's a Police Commission night.
Day 405: Thursday, April 22
Well, this is frustrating. The entry I wrote for this day somehow got deleted while I was switching between devices. Briefly, Pfizer vaccine symptoms started in earnest, Karl the Fog went aggro, there's a massive new sinkhole around the corner and my kids are starting to mentally prepare for returning to school. There's a lot of talk about lunchboxes.
In my mind, this entry was more interesting.
Day 406: Friday, April 23
Pfizer is hitting me hard again today. Yesterday I started feeling all the usual after effects: nausea, chills, sort of headache, fatigue. Today it's more of the same. I've had to cancel a few things I was going to do today because I don't have the energy to sustain conversations that aren't usually fascinating. Sorry. I guess it's sort of fun to feel the vaccine working in my body, being real. Planting the seeds of my eventual turn into a zombie. I'm hoping the symptoms disappear tomorrow and that the second shot isn't more intense. Pregnancy was lightyears more draining and nauseating, and I worked through both, so it's not that big a deal. But there's also a reason I'm done having babies.
My husband got his first shot today, so I hope he has an easier time with the side effects. Being so knocked out also makes me better appreciate the nuances of why some scientists aren't so sure about giving this vaccine to young kids. Looks like Israel is passing on vaccinating kids under 12 for now, in favor of giving vaccines to vulnerable people in other countries; they think they're at herd immunity without needles in kids. My daughter would be ecstatic to hear this news.
Karl continues to have an iron grip on the city, which is fine. Vaccine mood lighting, for sure. There was an earthquake a few nights ago that I forgot to mention, and I wonder if it's partly responsible for La Sinkhole. We passed it this morning on the way to camp and it looks about the same. Lots of gawkers.
Speaking of gawkers, when I was running at the track yesterday morning, there was a man filming himself running 10 feet towards and then away from the camera. I didn't think much of it--mostly tried to stay way the hell out of his shot--but when I came back around the third time, the man was inexplicably near-naked. (And running.) He appeared to be taking short videos of himself running in various states of dress.
And this, my friends, is why I so appreciate this city. Just when you think you're going for a boring, but rejuvenating run, you wind up in someone's TikTok fantasy reel. The fatigue, the fog, the sinkhole and the bare man. It's a San Francisco tarot card collection.
Day 407: Saturday, April 24
It's raining outside, which is great news because we've had alarmingly low levels of rain this winter. The rain won't last, and will be a drop in the bucket compared to the water deficit California is facing going into the hot, dry wildfire season. It's nice, though.
We went to the downtown Westfield mall today for the first time since the pandemic began. It would've been faster to bike, but we took the "train," which is actually a bus still; variety being the spice of life and all that. Everyone was very excited to be on the adventure, and the mall smelled exactly the way I remembered: that strange, heady mix of Mrs. Fields cookies and perfume. We were not exactly in a crush of people. The mall was notably empty, save maybe Claire's. Still, it was fun. We took our lunch up to the rooftop "garden," which is this glaringly bright and incredibly loud private public space on the top of the building two doors down. I've gone there a few times before because I used to work in the iconic pink James Bong building, and it has never, ever been a comfortable place to spend any amount of time. Today, it was an adventure. There are outdoor lounge chairs.
It struck me out of the blue today how much easier it has been to breathe and imagine compared to last year. I don't know why. The year 2020 felt like living in a small, airless glass box. The year 2021 hasn't been exactly amazing so far, but not having a federal government that actively wants to kill/hurt a majority of the people in this country has gone a long way to making the air feel wider. It's surely an interlude, but I'm embracing the relative joy of the moment. The rain outside feels like tears of happy release.
Day 408: Sunday, April 25
It's a family hang out Sunday. I think all the vaccine side effects are finally over, and the tiredness is just me being tired. Same for my husband, who did a lot of hard sleeping over the last couple days. It rained a little more today and now it's sunny and blue. My kids actually got excited about no screen Sunday, so I guess hell has frozen over. We hung out, made brownies and eventually watched Harry Potter 4. The cat actually sat on my lap for a couple hours during the movie, which means it's suuuuuper cold in hell. It's been a nice day to pretend that the outside world doesn't exist. Bread is baking. Books are calling. I'm not called for Jury Duty tomorrow, though the rest of the week is still up in the air. It's the calm before the storm of next week.
Day 409: Monday, April 26
It's a beautiful sunset, with streaks of blue and pink across the sky. The whole day has been a little spring magic. I'm feeling knocked out for some reason and am largely looking forward to going to bed asap. The light starts so early and lasts so late already. My cat just made a cave for himself in my son's comforter behind me. I hope no one accidentally sits on him; I guess he's not ready for spring.
Day 410: Tuesday, April 27
I continue to feel like a run-over, dried branch. I doubt this is the vaccine anymore. Instead, I suspect that a year of masking and staying away from people has dramatically weakened my immune system. So, anytime I go anywhere around people, or my kids go around new people, I'm going to get sick with some random bug, probably for a year or so to come. I'll call this one mall bug. Or bus bug. Who knows? It needs to happen. I need to build up my germ tolerance again, maybe start licking poles or running my hand luxuriously through stray dogs. It's not going to be a fun process, though.
It's gorgeous outside once again. The light early in the morning as it works its way across our backyard and onto the hammock and fence is especially ethereal. My daughter has another rash on her leg, and this one we really can't explain. She stayed home today from camp so she could sleep in some, which I respect. Their camp/school has hollowed out in the last few days, with kids heading back to regular schools for parts of the week. They seem okay with the quietness and missing friends, but I'm sure it's weird. Also, it would appear that the departing children took all my kids' charging cords. We are in a dire state with charging cords and cubes these days. I don't want to even think about how much we've spent on them this past year; they routinely disappear into a black hole at camp.
The big news today is that the CDC finally admitted that there's no point to fully vaccinated people wearing masks outdoors, and maybe began to hint that outdoor masking wasn't really needed in general. People are freaking out about this on the Internet, with some incredulous that this has ever been in doubt and others demanding that people continue to mask anyway outdoors. It's an emotional mess. A predictable one given all the poor communication about corona over the last year+, and the CDC isn't helping by being a hot mess itself. I can't wait to have no idea what the CDC is working on again; they don't seem like the most functional agency. Anyway, yeah. I've started with the outdoor de-masking. I don't bother even doing a symbolic chin mask anymore when I go running outside. And I'll gladly stop outdoor masking altogether once I get my second shot next month. I loved the anonymity of masks and the added warmth on cold days, but good riddance. Love and understanding to all the people struggling with the change, though, and the more changes to come. It's been a hard year+ for feeling safe.
Day 411: Wednesday, April 28
President Biden is giving the State of the Union speech right now. Apparently, it's pretty good, though I didn't watch. Tomorrow is the big day: my kids' 411 day long two-week break from school will finally end--they're going to be in the school building tomorrow, with live teachers. Watch there be an earthquake tonight, though. Just watch.
In much, much lighter news, we are conducting an inter-species blanket exchange. This morning, I dropped off my cat's blanket to my friends who are cat curious, and picked up their dog's blanket. You with me so far? The idea is that our respective animals will use the blankets to get used to each other's scents, so when we drop our cat over for a playdate on Saturday, neither creature will freak out. Ergo, the kids in that family will get to have some cat time and everyone will figure out if they're ready to expand their fur family. It's both the strangest and most delightful project I've undertaken in months. So far, my cat seems blasé about the dog blanket. He's sniffed it for a while this morning and now he's sleeping on it in his bed. The kids in the other family have wrapped their dog up in my cat's blanket like a street hot dog. So, we'll see! My own kids seem totally baffled by this whole thing, particularly the idea of a cat playdate, but I think they'll get into it come Saturday. The cat, probably not so much.
It's warm spring out and the world is in bloom. Scientifically speaking, it's too warm for this time of year. Plainly speaking, it's kind of wonderful. There're still a lot of emotions ricocheting around the Internet about the new mask de-escalation policy. For whatever reason, the people at the State of the Union--all of whom have long since been vaccinated--were all in double masks and wildly socially distanced. It's a strange message to send if you want people to get vaccinated; it feels like a throwback to last fall, as it should have been. Maybe the warm weather will help more people feel ready to re-emerge. It is lovely to have the warm air on your bare skin and lips.
Day 412: Thursday, April 29
Success! After a mixed emotion morning, with my son literally running up the hill to school yelling "Oooool!" and my daughter trying to fade into the pavement and not have to go in the door, they both came home brimming with happy. Smiles, light bodies and just so much positive energy. They loved being at real school. This was especially meaningful for my daughter, who just transferred into this particular school this year, and so had never spent a day in a classroom in that building. They were both shocked to discover that their teachers are both extremely tall, which I find hilarious. My son loves that the kids at school are so much nicer than the ones at camp.
So, yeah. I'm relieved that they had such a good day. It's an hour less of the regular school day, for some black hole of a reason, but at least it's a good short day. For myself, I appreciated getting to sleep in later and cut our commute down to 10 minutes max. The camp routine involves getting up an hour earlier and embracing a 25 minute commute both ways. The sleep felt amazing--and I get to do it again tomorrow! But more importantly, my kids can go back to a place of joy and actual learning, where they've belonged for months and months.
Day 413: Friday, April 30
There's something so strange about returning to our old, if slightly modified and fleeting, school commute. It's a mental and emotional time warp that I didn't expect. Yesterday I put both kids on my larger cargo bike and pedaled them to school up the hill. Today, I had my son ride his own (unassisted) bike and put my daughter on my smaller cargo bike, which I much prefer. My son has grown so much in the past year that his old bike is too small. He's also incredibly out of shape, since we've had him riding the small, electric assist cargo bike to camp for the last few months; he rides it like an electric scooter and doesn't bother to pedal. Oy. So I'm proud of him for getting his regularly bike all the way up the hill and all the way up the hills on the way home (with a lot of walking). They both came home brimming with excitement again. My son reports that he's been making political commentary with the chalk they give them on the playground in protest of the unnecessary restrictions on play in the yard. I have nothing but support for him.
I'm also proud of my daughter for walking to the corner store all by herself just now to buy candy. It's about two blocks away and she's never been willing to venture out by herself like that before. I guess there is no better motivator than candy, hmm? So much candy. Though she also bought balloons, which I find incredibly charming. Kids really are the best.
There are a million other major things going on in the country right now, and world. It feels like a lot of Americans are watching in horror as COVID-19 burns through India, unchecked. It's devastating to see the virus still running rampant in parts of the world that don't have access to mass vaccination. I guess this will be the next major human rights push now that wealthier countries like the US are using mass vaccination to stamp out the corona fire. And we will be retrospectively angry that there wasn't a more just and collaborative vaccine rollout. I'm already feeling the guilt. I'm not sure what the right thing is to do here.
Tomorrow is the big interspecies play date. Cross your paws for fur harmony.
Day 414: May 1
Happy May Day to everyone but the POA and teachers unions fighting to keep kids out of schools while claiming otherwise. Public sector unions who use massive campaign contributions to advance agendas that gravely harm the people they're supposed to be serving need a very healthy dose of sunshine, and they get no celebration from me. Right size your grievances, friends.
Speaking of the absence of light, Karl rolled in hard two days ago and absolutely strangled the west side with the kind of fog that comes down as a dripping rain. Today, it was also periodically windy. So the city's been very moody, but in a wonderfully San Francisco way that I love. I rode my daughter and cat over to our friends' house this morning for the interspecies play date. It sounds like the date went fine but maybe not up to the sky high hopes of the kids of the family. I doubt they'll be getting a cat after all :( Oh well. Our cat got an extra can of wet food today for his work, so he's good. Justly compensated. Have I ever mentioned how fun it is to bike your cat around? When I moved to San Francisco 15 years ago, I started keeping a mental list of wildly frivolous start up ideas, and Cats On Bikes is 100% on the list: Only $30/month to let us take your cat out for fur-rippling recreational bike rides, where your fur baby can reconnect with their inner animal! We give them a live (wild) mouse to eat at the end as a bonus. Honestly, it's so ludicrous, I'm afraid people might actually sign up for the service.
I spent the rest of the morning in Golden Gate Park with my daughter, where we ran into two sets of friends and saw another in passing. I know I've said this before, but it's amazing how much of a gathering spot JFK Drive has become now that it's fully car-free; I love running into friends. My daughter got to hold the leash of one of my friend's dog, and then had an impromptu play date with a girl she knew from camp. I'm confident that if we stayed an hour longer, we would have run into more people we know. And that was on a heavy fog day. May is going to be a great month for this city. Ten days until I get my second vaccine shot.
Day 415: Sunday, May 2
Sunday, sun day. It was a perfect day to hang out with my kids in the backyard and on our deck, help them make brownies and bake my weekly bread. Blue, cool and sunny. The plants are in bloom, the butterflies are coming back and the birds are flocking above. People have stopped crossing to the other side of the street if we do housework on the sidewalk in front of our open garage without our masks on, which feels like a definite sign of the waning pandemic. They aren't running up to give us hugs or anything, but people seem slightly less paranoid about each other now. I'm seeing more people outdoors without masks, though they're still in the minority. It feels hopeful.
Day 416: Monday, May 3
I should have gone outside more today. It's gorgeous once again, if a little hazy. I am starting to see a small trickle of Ubers returning to the street, which may be the surest San Francisco sign that the city is beginning to come back alive. I would not say that it's a good sign, as signs go, but it's a real one. I almost teared up to see a video of people walking back into the main public library for the first time in over a year. Woohoo!
Meanwhile, if last week's big Internet emotional tetherball was the reactions to the end of the outdoor mask mandate in California, this week it's whether kids in the US should be vaccinated before the most vulnerable residents of other countries. There are so many shades of ethics here as well as practical implications. My oldest kid won't be eligible for the 12-15 year old vaccine until next fall and my youngest not until the little kid vaccine comes out. While I'd love to get them vaccinated, it seem morally indefensible to prioritize them over seniors and people with serious co-morbidities in other countries with less access to the vaccines. My kids are incredibly unlikely to get gravely ill from corona, and while I'd like to wrap them in bubble wrap and cotton candy, the world will be a safer place for them ultimately if we don't let the virus spread unchecked in other countries. Honestly, though, it's a convenient moral position to have because I'm no one and have no influence on how the vaccine will be distributed, and my kids will likely benefit before many other people whether I think it's right or wrong.
I guess the other big news is that Bill and Melinda Gates are divorcing. Maybe they felt too crowded together, all alone, in their COVID year compound? IDK. I suspect they are the beginning of a major season of divorces and breakups. Not for me, but divorce lawyers are going to be rolling.
Day 417: Tuesday, May 4
My eyes hurt from too much screen. My hands, too. I need to spend the rest of the day unplugged, which still feels impossible. Thankfully, it's gorgeous out again. It was straight up hot this morning at the track when I stopped for a "run." California climate scientists are tweeting out some very disturbing facts about the level of drought and the fact that we're already having wildfires. I've been riding the wave of joy at the waning of the pandemic. San Francisco is moving into the yellow tier and life will be almost normal, unless you're a kid. However, I've also been worrying about the unfurling climate disaster in the back of my head. It really shouldn't be this hot. There should be a lot more fog right now. God help us all, it's not like anyone's doing anything about the climate crises. Plans for 2030 or 2050 don't count. They just don't, and the leaders proposing them know it. We're going to burn.
In far lighter news, though personally excruciating, I put up a short fiction piece I've been working on on this blog. I haven't posted any fiction here before, though lord knows I've been writing plenty. So it's a bit like walking naked into a bar, while having a bad hair day; the piece doesn't quite work yet. There I walk.
My daughter stayed home from camp today, to sleep in. When I got back home from dropping off my son and running this morning, she was knee deep in a blender project. It's been going on and off all morning. She also used the stand mixer to make this chocolate whipped cream thing; I did not mind. So, I'm a little terrified about going upstairs now and seeing what our kitchen looks like. I think I've said it here before, but I would bet my favorite hoodie that she will be a bartender when she's older. At least I'll know where to find her, right? She's going to hate me.
Day 418: Wednesday, May 5
It's been a hell of a 24 hours. One kid has pinworms. Same kid got kicked out of camp this morning for being violent. Other child is riddled with anxiety. I'd like to process this, but it's a Police Commission meeting night. I'm trying to up my gif game on Twitter.
Day 419: Thursday, May 6
OK, we've moved from the "are you f-ing kidding me?" phase to the chortling at the dark humor phase. The kid who got kicked out of camp has finally come around to understanding the basic divergence in understanding of how the world works that led to the fight, and now the medication my husband got is making the dead pinworms fall out of their butt. Ha! It's so incredibly gross. You have to find it funny. My other kid seems to have worked through the anxiety about catching worms (have I?), so everyone's in a steadier place. I love Thursdays.
There's a hint of sun out today, but it's mostly a fog city. Bars are reopening, and my wedding anniversary is coming up, so maybe my husband and I will be wild and go for a drink. Or maybe not. Meanwhile, I have communicated very clearly what I would like for Mothers Day on Sunday: cake. A very specific cake. I checked all the public pool sites this morning to see if I could reserve a lane for lap swim, but they're all completely booked. Next year, in a hot tub. Honestly, I'm just feeling grateful to be alive and to have my wonderful family alive and well this year--minus the butt worms. We can survive butt worms. I'm laughing.
I'm looking out my window marveling at how awesome it is to see tiny kids cruise up to our kid-level free library and look for treasure. Is there any higher calling than making public magic in the realm? I'm going to attempt to write one sentence of the short story that I'm supposedly writing. Enter a laugh.
Day 420: Friday, May 7
It's chocolate fondue night! Also, chocolate fondon't. (Yes, a terrible pun, but I'm feeling punchy.) My daughter has been begging to do chocolate fondue for months. I asked for a fondue pot for Christmas a bunch of years ago because it has always felt like the epitome of white Californian living; right up there with Chardonnay and shag carpet. Or like a mini hot tub, but for your stomach. In any event, we whip it out on occasion to feel festive, like when people from the Midwest visit, and the last time we made chocolate fondue was for my daughter's old preschool class, eons ago. It was lovely. Intense, but lovely. I look forward to having some again. Maybe in a decade.
In slightly more serious news, I have been noticing a heightening of a national political trend over the last few months. The inability to be open to the possibility to that you may agree with people on other parts of the political spectrum on a particular issue since you otherwise find their views repugnant. I've been seeing this most clearly when it comes to the fight to reopen schools on the west coast and other big blue states and cities. It's a remarkably bipartisan issue, with people coming at their reasons for reopening from lots of different political perspectives--though ultimately because they see kids suffering. It's actually sort of beautiful that it's a legitimately bi-partisan issue; we haven't seen that in this country for a long time, particularly over the last four years. And given how traumatic the last four years were for so many people, I can empathize why many people are so quick to define their views on a topic solely in opposition to other parts of the political spectrum. Why would you want to find common ground with people who openly wish for you to die?
And yet, I keep coming back to something adrienne marie brown and Toshi Reagon observed on an episode of their Octavia's Parables podcast (my new church). I hope I understood them correctly, but what I thought I heard was that Lauren Olamina, the main character of the book, chooses who to walk her road with people not based on an ideological purity test, but on whether they strengthen the overall team and can get along. That there's something valuable in being able to just function along side people. Again, I don't mean to suggest that people should be seeking out the kind of asshole who storms the capitol for friendship and endless empathy. I believe strongly in accountability.
However, nor do I think it's healthy for the far left in particular (I count myself in this category) to be closed to the idea that we may have a value in common with people on other parts of the political spectrum. Instead, shouldn't we be happy that the wellbeing of children is a bipartisan issue, even though we recognize the racialized limits of that enthusiasm for too many, or the way that it fails when it comes to gun rights? That seed of a value is, after all, a starting point. And god help us all if we can't even agree that children need to be protected. We need those starting points and willingness to be open to commonalities. The project of this country will absolutely crumble otherwise.
My mother used to tell me the joke something along the lines of, "how can you tell a real leftist." (She was far, far, far left in her youth. Long story.) I don't remember the punchline anymore, but it's essentially that the only way to be far left is to constantly define yourself in opposition to more people. So, this problem in our political culture is hardly new. Yet I fear that the progressive left's reaction to the utter trauma of the Trump years (and much more before) is to dig harder into the idea of defining ourselves solely in opposition to others, rather than with the things we love and believe in. Presumably, we want people to buy into that vision. So, it makes me sad to see more and more reflexive stances on issues that should be progressive bread and butter--issues where our most vulnerable members of society are being hurt--solely because they cannot imagine a world in which they have common ground with people from other parts of the political spectrum. We don't need to do this, folks. I get where you're coming from. I'm guilty of this, too, and I have the same political gag reflexes, but it's not healthy. Be a chocolate fondue, not a chocolate fondon't.
Yech, sorry. Progressives aren't known for our humor.
Day 420: Saturday, May 8
It's another unfathomably gorgeous day out, though also dangerously hot and dry, so we're already in high wildfire warning mode. I just ordered some replacement air filters, just in case. Earlier, my son and I sat around in Golden Gate Park this morning, being ridiculous. Met a puppy, rolled around in the inflatable hot dog lounger, etc. San Francisco is absolutely getting the best of this weather, and we made the most of the occasion. Plus, I started in on the cake my husband got me for mothers day; fuck it, it's been an especially hard year to be a mom.
Speaking of complicated mothers, there was yet more in the papers this morning about the never-ending telenovela of our former Board of Education Vice President. I swear, just when you think/hope the drama has died down, it comes back, even more jaw dropping. I'm not going to go into the story, except to remind myself to normalize admitting when I'm wrong about things. I've been trying to set a better example for my kids (and myself) recently, and be open with them about when I'm wrong, not hesitate to apologize. It's very liberating, even if it's parenting advice I'm following from a friend's random Facebook meme. Sometimes the Internet is strangely wise. I hope there will be no major news tomorrow, though. Please.
Day 421: Sunday, May 9
Happy Mothers Day to me. What a fucking year. Jesus. My phone was hot this morning with texts from all the moms I know giving each other real love, far more than any other year past in my memory. We all know what it's been like and what it's done to our careers, our sanity and our families. The reckoning will come at the ballot box soon enough. Consider yourself warned.
In lighter news, I'm spending my day absorbing sunlight in the backyard, playing a board game with my family and eating the rest of the cake. My cat curious friends impulse-adopted a kitten this weekend, and I'm also enjoying all the live stream texts of the tiny creature doing such exciting things as lapping water and purring in a lap. Absolutely the Mothers Day content I am here for! I'm really happy for my friends. I feared my own cat had soured them on the idea, but I guess it was sort of like trying on someone else's very worn in shoes in order to figure out if you want to buy a new shoe brand to run a marathon.
It's a beautiful day. I couldn't ask for more perfect weather, though the Bay Area is now on high fire warning alert. We're making sure our windows can fully latch. Correction, I am not doing that work. I am very busy with some reading and cake. Happy Mothers Day to all the other mothers out there; may your baths be extra long and your power at the polls extra loud.
Day 422: Monday, May 10
The festivities continue. Today is my wedding anniversary, so my husband and I went for a bike ride out to the ocean and did some good chillaxing together. Our first date, 20 years ago, was also a bike ride, so it's fitting. I knew we would work when we were able to figure out how to lock our bikes together using one small lock. He used to leave me notes on my bike when he saw it on the street in Manhattan; it's amazing I ever got them, but I did. I'm glad we took the time for each other this morning.
There are now nine days of school/camp and six days of school left for my kids. They decided to stay home this morning and sleep in. They used to love camp and depend on it for the social stimulation they need, but now the camp is down to just a few kids, and they don't like it as much. They're in the same pod now, and my son has had some run ins with kids who he feels are bullying him. If it was earlier in the year, I would make them go to camp anyway. I worry about them regressing into a dark place again if they're home three days a week, and am mentally tallying the amount of money we're throwing down the toilet. But with only a few days left in the year and part of the week in actual school, I'm cautiously ok with it. We'll see. They had a nice day of playing chess together and other stuff. The cat brought in another mouse to eat in protest of the disruption to his daytime sleep schedule. The sun still shines.
Looks like the federal government has approved COVID vaccines for 12-15 year olds. My oldest is 11, so it doesn't apply to us, but I'm hearing from a lot of fellow parents who are eager to get their kids vaccinated. Tomorrow is my second shot. I'm irrationally excited, and morbidly curious about the severity of the side effects this time. TBD. I'll be at Moscone South with bells on tomorrow. My husband gets his second shot on Friday. Oh, and Fauci has come out with a metric for when to declare the pandemic officially over. Something about the number 10,000. I don't want to misrepresent it here, but it looks like some scientists I follow are optimistic that we'll hit it by the end of the month. Wouldn't that be something. My personal pandemic is ending two weeks from tomorrow and there's a scientific end in site. The question is whether my kids' lives will continue to be restricted for much, much longer because other folks benefit from the political leverage they seized during the pandemic. I'm looking on the bright side today. Tomorrow, I return to the dark.
Day 423: Tuesday, May 11
I got my second vaccine shot today! I've had a headache all day because of some intense PMS, so I'm clinging to the edge of functionality, but it's done. Moscone was so much emptier and less energetic today. A security guard told me they were only doing second shots, so I guess that makes sense. It was all of two minutes between walking in the door and getting a needle in my arm. No one was taking selfies with Fauci. I got teary last time I got a shot, but this time was all about, "is this horrible party over yet?" I have extra appreciation for the security guard who sits all day staring out the window towards the bike racks on 3rd Street. My bike felt very, very safe. Yoga teachers really have nothing on security guards when it comes to the life of the interior, though respect and love to both.
There's more going on. There's always more going on, but I really need to lie down now. My arm isn't nearly as sore as the first time so far, but this headache and the nausea its provoking have the best of me. Hooray, though. My personal risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID was low, but now it's essentially gone. I can't, however, say that the pandemic is over.
Day 424: Wednesday, May 12
It's SF Police Commission Wednesday, so this will be brief. So far, I've had a much easier time with the vaccine side effects than the first shot. After panicking about whether it was safe, I ended up taking Advil yesterday to disappear my massive headache. Since then, I feel totally normal. My arm isn't even all that sore. So, huh. I was prepared to be totally knocked out. I'm very happy to be wrong.
The US officially gave the green light to vaccinate 12-15 year olds and people are already setting up appointments. Governor Newsom is also noticeably trying to win some brownie points to dampen the Recall effort on him, and announced that the state mask mandate is going to almost entirely disappear on June 15th when the rest of the state restrictions go away. It's damn exciting, though I know many people still need time to feel ready to take off their masks. No judgment. It does, however, make me sad to continue to see people driving alone in their cars, in double masks. The risk calculation there is ... off. Very, very off. Our CDC is really doing an amazingly bad job at communicating.
Day 425: Thursday, May 13
It's hard to say, but it seems like I've started to get some side effects from the second shot after all. I won't go into gruesome detail, but I will say that I woke up feeling like the inside of my left arm had road rash. So strange, but whatever. It's still not all that terrible, and I'd rather have this than COVID.
The CDC officially lifted the outdoor and indoor mask recommendation for people who have been fully vaccinated. I'm thrilled, but as you might imagine, every possible feeling about this out there is all over the Internet. Which, fine. It's going to take time for many people to process this large of a change after a year of so much trauma. For me, I am ready to burn my masks. Bye. If the CDC was smart, it would partner with Hollywood to make some steamy movies about touch. People sitting in confined spaces, licking each other. The poignant melodrama of a bare sneeze. We might collectively need all the exposure therapy in the world to move forward now; it might as well also be fun, and kind of ridiculous.
My son is excited about getting to pick music for his 5th grade graduation, and is agonizing over a paragraph about himself for the yearbook. My daughter is knee deep in slime, as usual. And I mean that extremely literally. Her most prize possession is a box of Borax and a giant jug of glue. All of our good plastic meal containers have been repurposed for slime storage. On the whole, I'm very on board with her passion; far better than, say, an ant farm.
Israel has been violently attacking Palestinians during Eid. The resumption of normal is not always a good thing.
Day 426: Friday, May 14
I took a walk today to the drug store. An older couple was pulling out of their garage and stopped across the sidewalk in their car. I paused to wait for them to clear the sidewalk, so I could go around, but they went nowhere for a long time and instead, the man waved a mask at me to shame me for not wearing one. Again, I have nothing against people who want to continue to mask, truly, truly, but the risk assessment chakra for this gentleman was so not in alignment. I'm a fully vaccinated person walking alone outside near exactly no one. I am not dangerous. In fact, it would take a godly miracle for me to infect someone, like turning water into wine level of miracle. Blocking the entire sidewalk with your car while driving at an age that severely compromises your eye sight, on the other hand ... that might be something to look into, friend. Or not. Whatever. Just let me enjoy my walk with my imaginary viral particles.
Anyway, I'm sure there's going to be a lot more of this kind of thing. The mask wars are full on in deep blue American cities. I'm just going to keep on being me and keep walking.
In good news, I'm seeing some fruit coming from the slow slog of the volunteer advocacy work I've been doing for a couple different organizations. Sticking to this stuff can be a labor of love when you're mired in the tedium of bureaucracy or personalities, and it's not your job, but these moments feel all the better for the fight it too to get here. There's so much work ahead still, but hey, my little ant body carried some crumbs a little further in the right direction. I guess my theme for this journal entry is walking. Keep walking, folks.
Day 427: Saturday, May 15
Today was wild: I hugged people who aren't in my immediate family. My brothers in law are in town to deal with some business up in Marin, so we left the intense city fog and met them in Marin. They're fully vaccinated, we're fully vaccinated. And we hugged! I thought I'd feel more emotional about hugging someone after all this time. I like a good hug. But I wasn't. It just felt good, and right.
The mask confusion continues out in the world. Everyone's staring at each other, not quite sure what the right thing to do. Even within our little party, we were all over the place when we walked through the neighborhood to a place to eat. One BIL wore his mask, but no one else. My kids are clearly confused about what they should be doing. They've been so well trained to mask in pretty much every situation, that it's become a struggle to remind them to take them off, too. Not in a bad way. I guess we all get used to things faster than we expect, especially at that age. I can't wait to not ever talk about masks again.
Of course, the wildfire season has begun early, so I'm guessing that we'll be pulling our N99s out soon enough. There's unprecedented lightning happening in the central valley, and a few small fires already burning. Controlled burns are great, so I don't begrudge the flames. When they get out of control, though, that can become catastrophic.
The Israeli military assault on Palestine continues. I truly don't understand why Israel is making war right now--not that it would excuse what it's doing. It's just depressing that the country came out of a global pandemic, nailed it with the vaccination program and then apparently thought, time to go back to war. Like, you couldn't think of anything else to do with your reclaimed freedom??? How about a soccer match instead? Or a music festival? Pita appreciation month.
In happier news, the trains have started running again as of today! Many of the bus lines, including the one that runs to my block, are still out of service, but it was so nice to see the trains running the lines once more. I love that this blog has recently become a compendium of all the things that are coming back to life in this city. There's going to be so many more things over the next month or two. I plan to do a lot of hugging.
Day 428: Sunday, May 16
I haven't left the house today, or spent much time on social media, so all I can tell you about the outside world is that it's fairly foggy, though less so than yesterday. I've mostly spent the day talking to friends and family in far flung places while I cleaned things, and hanging out with my kids while they baked things. Pretty good day by my estimation.
I finished all of the puzzles I got for Christmas a few weeks ago and have been contemplating whether to get a new one or take a step back from puzzling for a while. Naturally, I got a 2,000 piece puzzle on Friday. Total impulse purchase--though, not really. I always prefer the obsessive route. And the thing is huge; it takes up our entire dining room table. I don't know why puzzles are so addictive, but here we are. I am equally parts delighted and despairing to see the border coming together on our table.
It will be one of those days where I take off my running clothes at the end of the day, unused. Eh, it was too foggy out anyway.
Day 429: Monday, May 17
We're having the equivalent of diarrheal fog today. It's not actually rain, but the fog is heavy and wet enough that it's effectively rain. I took my son into school/camp this morning and sort of the enjoyed the phenomenon. The sun peeked out for a second while I ran after drop off, and that felt like a hymn.
It's been an unexceptional day otherwise. Massachusetts just lifted their mask mandate, including in schools, but looks like Newsom is going to keep ours in place until June 15th. It's not surprising. People really are freaking out all over the Internet about what this piece of cloth means to them. Though there were far fewer people masked at the track this morning than ever before. I think I only saw one woman in a mask, and I got the strong feeling that she was wearing it mostly for warmth; it's not a warm fog here. So, who knows? None of the conversation has anything to do with science. We're all having a collective therapy moment, except no one's at the same therapist.
Oh, I deep cleaned the washing machine today again while I worked. That's my symbolic piece of cloth and sense of control. Not ashamed to admit.
Day 430: Tuesday, May 18
It's a windy day in paradise. I took a walk up to the top of a nearby park on a hill in the afternoon to give my eyes a rest from all the screen work and think through some stuff. I've avoided this walk for a while because it's frankly no fun to walk up endless flights of stairs when you have to put on a mask whenever you pass someone, even though you're out of breath. Being able to walk around with absolutely no mask outdoors now makes the whole thing a lot more enjoyable; I took a much longer, hillier walk than usual today.
My kids stayed home from camp/school today to sleep in. There was some fighting in the morning but they ended up having a rollicking good time, emphasis on the rollicking. There is blue chalk paint in my son's hair, for some reason. A lot of it. They say they're doing their school work, and all evidence suggests they are, but I don't see much proof that they're in the process of learning anything. But hell, they're alive and not depressed or committing self-harm, and that continues to be my standard for this school year.
Otherwise, the world continues to turn. I just checked Twitter and it looks like Ariana Grande got married, my husband figured out where the weird whirring electric noise was coming from, we did a lot of dishes, I continue to deny the reality that I probably need glasses, the cat came inside with weird green plant balls stuck all over him, etc. There are some big developments underway in our lives, that I'm not quite ready to talk about here, but the moment to moment is the same as last fall when my kids weren't in camp or school, only the happy ending-is-in-sight version. Not the this-terrifying-void-is-vast-and-hungry iteration that ate our souls. I like this side of the record.
Day 431: Wednesday, May 19
The high winds continued overnight and into today, which means that the Golden Gate Bridge has been signing up a storm. I woke up in the middle of the night last night, partially terrified by a nightmare and partially weirded out by the alien-like chords in the air. It was, of course, the bridge. There's some design element from the latest makeover that makes the bridge sing when it's windy. I don't think anyone wants to admit this out loud, but it makes me feel insane. It's pretty, but just screams "alien invasion!"
In earthier news, I went to someone's house today for a meeting. We're both vaccinated, so we didn't bother with masks. I expected to feel more weirded out by doing this sort of thing again, but wow is it easy to take it for granted that I can come into your house and be with you as we used to be. It was so nice. I love visiting with people in their homes. About 15 minutes in, I remembered that this wasn't normal right now and had a moment of panic. It didn't last, though. It was just really nice.
It's a police commission night. This week, I'm bringing a fidget spinner to occupy my hands so I tweet less and scroll through Twitter less while watching the thing.
Day 432: Thursday, May 20
It's extremely windy again today. I don't remember a week like this in past years here in San Francisco. I wonder if this is a freak thing or the new normal. Obviously, hoping it's freaky. There is something fun, though, in watching our tree in backyard bend back over and over like it's telling a good joke at a party.
What's going on? Not much. The cat was crunching on the delicate bones of a mouse this morning when I came upstairs to start the day. It felt wrong feeding him breakfast afterwards, damn wrong. The kids scootered to and from real school; today was day seven of their ten days of in-person school for the year (on an abbreviated schedule). I did some work, dreamed dreams, sent in donations to teacher gifts but pointedly abstained from feting our god awful principal as he finally steps down-don't-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out, ate leftovers. There are something like five COVID patients in San Francisco hospitals at this point, and our vaccination rates are super strong. Same story for much of the country, but weirdly New York State just created a mandate that two year olds have to wear masks outdoors. It makes no sense. It really, really makes no sense.
There's a lot of strange political realignments happening right now across the country. There are strands of events that feel predictable looking ahead in the US, but also increasingly more wild cards. If we narrowly escaped another civil war a few months ago, I wouldn't be sure that it still won't happen. People are praising Ford for coming out with an all-electric F-150, which is one of those boat-sized pick up trucks. This is our big American climate change revolution. I get it in my head, but every other part of me is screaming because my god is this not the answer. Like I said, there are screwy things afoot in this country--more screwy than ever before. It's hard to see the future.
Day 433: Friday, May 21
When the pandemic first started, we were a couple weeks away from going on a spring break trip to Disneyland. It was going to be our first trip to Disneyland, and the trip was a birthday present to our daughter. One of my first memories was calling around to cancel the trip. Needless to say, my kids have never forgotten what COVID cancelled. So, yeah, we're finally going to Disneyland! I rebooked the trip today, and I think we're actually going to get there this time. It still feels impossible to imagine, and maybe a little less shiny than that first effort, but hell, it's on.
Congress is locked up trying to decide whether/how to move forward with hearings on the January 6th attack on the capitol. There are elected leaders trying to claim that the Republican mob was merely a gentle collection of rowdy but ultimately harmless tourists. Their lawyers are calling them mentally feeble and the kind of people who "ride the short bus"--as a defense. It's truly next level, but in the direction of the flames in the center of the earth. Meanwhile, Israel doesn't seem inclined to stop bombing and killing Palestinians despite worldwide protest. And Randi Weingarten's Twitter feed ratios have become insight into the problem Democrats are going to face in next round elections. Total self-own. We are tumbling face first out of the pandemic and Trump administration, about to go splat.
I am currently using my son's cheap gaming mouse, of which he is inordinately proud. It flashes different colors and has some sort of beast of the deep on the front. I feel like I'm in a Net Cafe in Greece, using cash to log into shadow accounts. Maybe that'll be our next trip.
Day 434: Saturday, May 22
Today was glory. I used an app to rent two hours of someone's backyard pool up in Marin. I've been aware of this app for a while, but it seemed too ridiculous to consider. My how priorities will change after a time. Yeah, so we Zip Car'd up to Novato and, what felt like, snuck into someone's amazing backyard to splash around in their pool and hot tub for a couple of hours. My daughter was absolutely convinced we were in the wrong place and that we'd shortly be arrested (we were not and were not), but we all have a wonderful time. My kids and I are happiest in a pool, and we haven't been in one for over a year and a half. We went up to Lake Tahoe for a week last summer, which was deep medicine, but this was something slightly different.
I cannot emphasize enough how incredible it felt to be lazy in a pool, half in and half out of a hot tub, while the sun beat down through cool air. I haven't felt this good in years. My husband had a nice time sunbathing and occasionally getting in the pool, only to rush right back out (it was unheated). And my kids were peeled bananas. The person who was offering the rental had a little sign out advertising ice cream and popsicles for additional money; brilliant marketing.
The way home was a bit of a buzz kill. The 101 is already overcrowded and terrifying, and there was a crash that brought the whole thing to a creeping crawl for a half hour. And everywhere in San Francisco is bursting with cars. The future of mobility in the region is really looking bleak. However, we had such a great time this morning, that I almost don't care. Or, more accurately, I'm so wrung out from the sun and struggling to defy the nap that wants to take over, that I can't muster the energy to worry, for a change. Glory.
Day 435: Sunday, May 23
You know you're tired when you have dreams about sleeping on a plane flight. As in, in your dream, you get on a plane and then fall asleep for the duration of the cross ocean flight. So yeah, I slept a lot last night. There's a whirlwind of baking happening here now. I've skipped running in favor of puzzling. Tomorrow will probably hit me hard, but it's nice to truly let yourself decompose over the weekend. A cursory glance at the Internet and out the window suggests that the world continues to bloom. I'm extremely excited about our neighbor's new, stripey hammock. Go, you.
Day 436: Monday, May 24
It's been one of those days where I really remember in my bones why I hate distance learning so much. I should have probably forced my kids to go to camp today, but it's the last full week of "school" so I'm trying to let things slide and be easy. No getting up early and no commute sounded good. Except when it didn't a few hours later when it became clear that my kids pretty much have no school work anymore and nothing to do but fight and eat watermelon.
I tried to get my son to do some non-school math, which he was doing last fall and winter no problem, but he broke down in tears at the mere suggestion; I think he associates the system with the depression and bleakness of those days, and it's become too emotional a block to even touch anymore. So, my time was not my own today for so many reasons. It doesn't help that my husband is also untethered from his program. Everyone's floating around in confined space, bumping into each other and screaming. Tomorrow, at least one of them is going to camp, no matter what. Maybe I'll run away, too. I'll at least go for a run. I can't wait for this school year to be over. Camps for the kids will be nearby, separate and all day. Because there's some magical difference between camp and school that makes only one able to fully open. They must be made of fairy dust.
Ah, I miss the weekend already. Feeling like I need to lock myself in the bathroom shower and scream; but, too many people will hear me.
Dy 437: Tuesday, My 25
The first letter of the alphabet is broken on my keyboard. My son used his allowance to buy Dogecoin, which is some sort of meme-y version of Bitcoin. Didn't see tht one coming. Trying to unsee. I hope my new keyboard comes soon. I m t the mercy of auto fill.
Day 438: Wednesday, May 26
Aaaaa! I have a new keyboard and can resume making sense. It's surprising how hard spelling words became without seeing the a appear as I went along. Hopefully no one thought I was drunk when I emailed them today.
Today was pretty quiet. Yesterday was the anniversary--don't like using that word because it has such a positive valance--of Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd. It already feels so long ago, and the anger of the moment so dissipated. Not much has changed in that year in regards to violent policing (redundant, unfortunately). Yesterday, our Board of Supervisors had an oversight hearing on SFPD's progress on its reform program, and you would have thought that SFPD had spent the last year saving kittens from trees and rescuing drowning toddlers, not shooting handcuff men or stopping and searching Black men at wildly disparate rates compared to white San Franciscans. It was so disheartening. The group I volunteer with tried to make a good showing at the hearing, but most of the Supervisors didn't want to do anything but praise SFPD. Depressing.
I know I've written about this extensively in much earlier parts of this journal, but the reality is that our elected leaders are so incompetent at solving the issues plaguing their districts without the crutch of policing. They lack the skill or desire to confront reactionary, NIMBY voters, or maybe don't even realize that there is another way to solve homelessness and poverty, so it's much easier to get the police to temporarily sweep the problem out of people's view. Even the leaders who claim that they are passionate believers in racial equity. It's sick. The label progressive is used so strangely in this city (and probably elsewhere). It's a whipped cream flavor meant to disguise the evidence of your real beliefs below. Truth will out, though, friends. Though maybe not in this city. Utopian word battles are heady drugs.
In lighter news, today was my kids' last ever day at school/camp. Ever, so help me god. My son stayed home; sadly, he remains terrified of interacting with some boys who also go to camp on Wednesday and aren't nice, and won't be moved. My daughter went, though, and had a blast. Her teacher at camp texted me in the morning to report that she'd forgotten to bring her iPad and headphones, which was GREAT news. Instead, she finished a woodworking project, ate a shitload of sweets, went to Japantown and painted a landscape on canvas. Like a third grade version of kindergarten. Now, she seems stunned that school camp is over forever. I'm a little verklempt, too. That place has been an absolute savior. Best decision I made this terrible school year, hands down.
Dogecoin has infected my Twitter feed with ads. They're mildly pornographic, and the whole thing is giving me (metaphorical) hives. AAAAAA!
Day 439: Thursday, May 27
We're in the midst of a few major life decisions right now, largely driven by this pandemic experience. I keep hoping that today will be the day when we finally have enough information to decide, but no, not today. Soon, I hope.
In the meantime, I probably should have spent more time outside today. It's beautiful, if a little cool. Classic morning sunshine and afternoon heavy fog. Tomorrow, I promise myself. I will at least stand in the backyard and soak up some sun. The morning commute to actual school is quite short, but I have my son scootering the whole way and it takes him twice as much time as me riding my daughter on my bike up and down the hills. So it's all a huge rush.
My heart goes boom, though, when I drop them off in the morning to scooter up the final hill together without me. My daughter with her cat backpack and fluffy toy on her light up scooter, my son on his weird looking adult-sized scooter, and this morning a tinfoil hat underneath his helmet (I think it was wacky hair day?). They look both so young and so old at the same time, and I want to remember this feeling forever. Eric Carle, the Hungry Caterpillar guy, passed today. Maybe that's the feeling. "They were a beautiful butterfly!"
A Dutch court told Shell that it has to cut its emissions by half-ish by 2030 today. So many people are rejoicing, me included, but I also wonder when the realization will hit that this means higher gas prices.
Day 440: Friday, May 28
Well, it's the last day of in person school for my kids. They've had 10 days of in-person school in about 15 months. My son is graduating fifth grade, and had a lot of feelings today when he came home. We'll be back next Wednesday for graduation, but today was his last time inside the building. Their report cards are out today, too, and there are a ton of slashes in most rows because the teachers couldn't assess them on that skill because the vast majority of kids have no desire to participate in 15 months of distance learning. I'm having some feelings about this, too. You would not believe the number of ways my older kid in particular knows how to work around the most stringent possible screen time restrictions after these 15 months. Anyway, lift your tiny lighter up tonight.
In national news, Congress has failed to vote to hold a commission to look into the white supremacist attack on the capitol on January 6th. If we thought anyone would be shamed by that event and care more about the overall integrity of the nation, we thought wrong. There is no truth, only historical fiction. The CDC also updated its guidance to say that kids don't have to be masked outdoors, and generally be in alignment with WHO guidance. It's clear that the fight over masking kids is going to be a big theme in the coming months. I am 100% ready to unmask my kids both outdoors and indoors, after a year spent yelling at them to pull the things up (which I regret in retrospect). Their speech issues with the letter R are not getting any better under masks. We'll see.
Despite all this, I'm in a good mood. I got a run in this morning and had a good afternoon walk around the neighborhood with a friend who lives down the street on top of everything else. My step count for the day is higher than it's been since the beginning of the pandemic. The world really does feel like it's almost normal again, in both good ways and bad. Way too much car traffic, government failing, people reviving their local issue advocacy agendas full throttle, a return of Uber and Lyft cars (see: too much car traffic). Plus, going to friends' house, not feeling like the person in the white house might launch a nuclear arsenal on a whim, making vacation plans. I can see now how it's going to be easy to forget this whole pandemic ever happened in a few years, despite the overwhelming terror and death. Moving forward at long last feels so, so good. I'll turn on my phone flashlight and wave it in the air.
Day 441: Saturday, May 29
We got out of the fog today. It's Memorial Day weekend, so we joined the hoards crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and heading into the sun. If you don't live in San Francisco, this may not mean much to you, so picture leaving a place where people are wrapped in sweaters and scarves under a heavy gray sky and then clearing the bridge and suddenly seeing people laying around in shorts under a hot sun. The experience of the abrupt change is almost as satisfying as doing stuff in the sun once you're out.
Anyway, we drove up to Sebastopol to a pool party at a friend's sort-of house. The pool was warm and full of kids and the wine was flowing in paradise's garden, so everyone had a great time. There really is no weather like Northern California weather. It is paradise and it is, occasionally, hell. I have finally come to terms with the incredible intensity of the sun, and gotten a two piece bathing suit that fully covers my arms and chest. I'm not being modest, I'm just protecting my skin, at long last. I continue to see people driving alone, fully masked, but our family's transition back to normal operations remains full steam and damn easy. Give me a Napa pool party any day over spending all of my psychic and physical energy avoiding people and experiences. The crossing out of the pandemic fog is an experience unto itself.
Day 442: Sunday, May 30
You would not believe how hard I have gone on this 2,000 piece puzzle. That's all I have to say.
Day 443: Monday, May 31
It was a gorgeous day again. I spent some time absorbing sunlight in the backyard, contemplating the plants I've been growing. The mint and lemon verbena somehow jumped planting boxes and are now competing for space in this second box; I appreciate their determination. I was feeling a lot better after feeling pretty low yesterday. I caught a small bug at the pool party, which I consider good news. I'm irrationally excited about rebuilding my immune system after a year+ of letting it get weak. I know others are excited about masking to avoid colds and whatnot, but I am in the opposite camp. I want to have the immune system of a preschool teacher, herculean, trained in all the darkest arts. Can one have biological goals?
It's Memorial Day so there was no "school." Instead, I took my son down the hill to meet up with a friend of a friend here from Denmark. We walked around the Botanical Gardens. I'd forgotten that we're supposed to wear masks in the gardens, but it was a half-hearted reminder when I went through the admissions booth. About half of the people in the gardens had masks on, half didn't. Some trying to straddle the line. Already it feels absolutely nonsensical to me that we'd wear masks in an outdoor space when our city is already 78% of residents 16+ have already gotten the first vaccine dose. The next few months are going to involve a lot of looking around at people, trying to decide etiquette.
The pace of life feels faster again.
Day 444: Tuesday, June 1
One of our neighbors had a backyard party a few nights ago, which feels like a sign of rebirth. Today, you'd have to be out of your mind to hold a party. The fog is strangling the city, asserting its dominance. Tomorrow is the last official day of "school," and our school district is starting to hold miserable-looking high school graduations. It's certainly better than nothing, but the photos are overwhelmingly sad. Hard not to be. Not surprisingly, the school district continues to hemorrhage students and puts out achingly funny slide presentations that muse about all the reasons this could be happening, except the actual truths. But why? Why???
Life is quiet here otherwise. Tomorrow is going to be busy, but today was quiet work and making a last ditch effort to impress editing skills upon my children. They're done, though. Totally done with all pretense of learning. They want to fester behind screens all summer and never surface for fresh air. My daughter took an impromptu mid-day bath in order to bathe her doll. I guess it's better than bathing the cat again. There is watermelon juice all over the kitchen floor. So, yeah, now we wait for the countdown to full-day camp. When parental mental and physical space becomes possible again.
My kids got their report cards a couple days ago, and they're full of blank spaces for all the units their class wasn't able to cover because of the inherent bullshit of distance learning. Definitely makes us want to stay and fight hard for this school district. Yup. And yes, I am being sarcastic. In fact, it makes me want to move far, far away and never look back. But that may also be the fog talking. And the living on top of each other 24/7.
Day 445: Wednesday, June 2
Last day of "school!" I heard my daughter say goodbye to her class Zoom early this afternoon. I don't think my son went to any Zooms today, but we got to celebrate his cohort's graduation from 5th grade at the school (outside). I appreciate that the teachers and staff tried to make the event as nice as possible; there were a lot of thoughtful touches. My son looked very grave.
Afterwards, we shot down to Golden Gate Park for a whole grade party, which was super nice. The kids had such a great time, and in a strange act of the universe, my kids' former school was holding a party in the same field. So, lots of friends, old and new. The party was bittersweet, though. The kids finally got to be all together, but now they'll never see each other again. There's no next year at this school for them. It was also freezing cold--classic San Francisco picnic weather. And my bike got a flat. Wah wah wah :)
I'm holding on to the good memories and the joy of the day. So much joy. Also--sugar.
Day 446: Thursday, June 3
It's the first day of summer, so my kids are oozing around the house, being slugs and letting it all hang out. A mom friend texted me at 9 am to say that she was here for our "first day of summer boredom needs." She included a link to how to make "donuts" out of cereal. I cannot explain the timeliness and accuracy of this text. My husband just walked in the house with my kids after taking them on a candy run to the corner store. So, yeah, there's about a week and a day until camp starts. Normally this would a yay, let's do mom/dad camp! But after having them home all year+ minus days here and there, there's not much to do that doesn't completely disrupt our ability to work or retain sanity. There's some talk about cleaning rooms from my kids, which tells you how far we've fallen.
Anyway, I'm not actually complaining. Let them ooze. They deserve some zero stress time and no more Zooms. I've gotten used to using my son's gaming mouse as I go about my own work. It makes me feel young again. And my productivity level has been high.
The other big news today is that I finally harvested the garlic I planted last winter. I wasn't sure what to expect, but they are not big bulbs so much as small, fresh garlic bulbs. I guess this is normal? I am plant and, thus, farming illiterate, and every step in the growing process has been some new, shocking revelation.
It's foggy out. The state of California is supposed to open up on in 12 days. Someone left a giant bag of GMAT and MCAT study books in front of our little library, as well as a bunch of change??? My kids say thanks. I really hope this person didn't take both the GMAT and MCAT; that sounds brutal. Enjoy some summer ooze, friend.
Day 447: Friday, June 4
I think my son physically left bed today at 2 pm, so summer really is off to a great start. I'm having a hard feelings day, reconciling a bunch of bad news. Newsom appeared to walk back his promise that California would fully reopen on June 15th, which I am taking surprisingly hard. If I had faith that any of the political decision making was based on actual science, that would be one thing, but the CDC just put out some misleading data claiming that hospitalizations of kids from COVID-19 is up. It's not. It's plunging from an already tiny number, along with the adult numbers. My anger level at the impact of needless, punitive restrictions is getting higher and higher. It is not based in any science of this earth, and these decision makers can really go eat worms at this point, as far as I'm concerned.
I need to spend more time outside tomorrow and simmer these feelings into the foggy wind. I wish we could just walk into museums now. I'm normally a planner, but I'd love to be able to spontaneously drop into a museum again. After 15 months of this, I'm tired of having to plan every bit of fun. I'm tired. I'm done. Newsom better open the fucking state.
Day 448: Saturday, June 5
It's been a rejuvenating Saturday. I took my daughter to the SFMOMA downtown and then we ate indoors at a restaurant for the first time since the pandemic started, did a lot of walking. Before vaccination, I wasn't at all tempted to eat indoors, but at this point, it feels perfectly safe, not to mention wonderfully novel. That said, we need to work on my kid's napkin skills going forward; it's been a minute.
Sometimes sanity is sitting in your backyard, sometimes it's locking the bathroom door and screaming and other times it's bathing yourself in your city. I got a funny look at the playground we stopped at on the way home when a toddler dad caught me playing "My Humps" on my phone for my daughter. She says she likes the beat?
Day 449: Sunday, June 6
Cleaned a year of grime and wildfire ash off the windows. My arm aches.
Day 450: Monday, June 7
This is the dead week before summer camps begin for my kids thanks to the public health requirement that all camps be organized into three week sessions. A very friendly number, for sure. Anyway, I suppose some families are traveling this week. Today, we had some friends of my kids over--inside! It was so nice to be able to have people over inside, especially kids. A house really feels like a home when you hear the sound of running feet and slamming doors, no? Everyone had a great time, until blood ran and someone cried. But truly, a great time.
It's extremely windy here again. I don't remember ever having a season of such sustained wind in the past. There's trash all over our street because a recycling can blew over, and while it looks tempting to go outside thanks to the bright sun, it's mostly vaguely uncomfortable.
There's a conservative movement across the country to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory in any sort of schooling. It's the inevitable backlash to so many more people speaking up against white supremacy and for Black Lives mattering over the past year, but it's so strange. To hear conservatives talking about Critical (Anything) Theory feels oddly like a step forward, even though it's the actual movement is just sad. Don't politicize school, like anything in this world isn't political. Breathing, walking, sitting, hair, the way you pee, existing. It'll get worse before it gets better, like so many things.
Tomorrow I promised my kids we'd start deep cleaning their rooms. We'll see if anyone remembers.
Day 451: Tuesday, June 8
We did not remember to clean any rooms. My husband did repair some doors that got blown off their hinges from all the door slamming yesterday, and my son baked cookies. The Mrs. Fields Cookbook has become his bible this past year. We had another kid friend over today. It's nice. A full house, but nice. The cat has not had a good day, of course, but I have come to suspect that he is being fed by a second family. So ...
I need to leave the house and get some exercise. San Francisco is on track to be the first major US city to reach herd immunity. Hopefully our Health Department orders with reflect this change soon. I am ready to stop writing this journal.
Day 452: Wednesday, June 9
It's Police Commission Wednesday. Trying to go into this one with high expectations, but last week's showing by SFPD was especially depressing. Still, low expectations kill people.
Day 453: Thursday, June 10
It's been a beautiful day. We rented a backyard pool again up in Novato, the same one we went to last month, and the kids and I floated in what felt like paradise. I am never happier than when I am in clear water and sun, and today was an Olympus of joy. Whatever else is going on in this world, I am holding on hard to those two hours.
Tomorrow I have a morning date with a kitten (and its human). I am leaning hard into enjoying the hell out of life these days.
Day 454: Friday, June 11
Today, San Francisco became the first major American city to cross 80% of people 12+ having gotten at least one vaccine dose. It seems fair to think the remaining 20% might be people with natural immunity, though who knows? The Mayor is disbanding the COVID Command Center as of today, which has been in effect since the very beginning of thing.
The other huge news today is that I took my daughter to our friends' home to visit a kitten. Oh my was this feline frisky. Small, on high alert and ready to play. High quality feline content all around. Also, it was nice to see our friends. I know I keep saying this, but it is wonderful to visit people in their homes again. If I've gotten good at anything over the pandemic, it's sitting around and doing nothing with people. So, now it's nice to be able to do it somewhere warm and with easily accessible food and bathrooms. Also, see: kitten.
Barring something major happening, I'm going to end this journal on June 15th. It's served me well over the last 15 months. I have often craved writing here; the words have held me and kept me from disintegrating into dark skies and fear. I also value the forced self-reflection, but I'm ready to stop. I am in a period of life now where I am ready and eager to go roaring into all the experiences. So, four more days and then goodbye.
Day 455: Saturday, June 12
The world is letting loose. There's a party going on down the block, our neighbors had a backyard party earlier today and I just came from a party at a restaurant with one of the organizations with which I volunteer. The sky has been incredibly clear the last few days, and tonight the crescent moon was a luminous sliver dangling a single star over the Bay Bridge. The color story serenity, and a little bit sci fi. People are out in groups at bars and parklets. I am mildly drunk. San Francisco is back, baby.
I took my son to the main public library this morning, which was still in highly restrictive mode. No one was allowed into the teen section still, and we were only allowed to stay in the children's section for an hour, though the library was incredibly empty. Weirdly quiet and incredibly empty. It was an experience, but a let down for sure. The mall a few blocks away was significantly more active. The trains to and from downtown were all but empty, too. It's a strange, transitional time.
Empty in the front, party in the back.
Day 456: Sunday, June 13
My husband took my daughter to the movies today. They were the only two in the theater, so I guess it went well. I've done as little as humanly possible, along with my son. Minus the usual bread baking. I am fantasizing about my husband taking my kids to the East Coast for an extended vacation while I stay home. If there's one thing I have not had nearly enough of over the last 15 months, it's time that is completely mine; space that is unquestionably mine. If I could enter a sensory deprivation chamber today, I would.
Day 457: Monday, June 14
Camps started today for my kids. My son is riding around the city on bikes with a bunch of other middle schoolers. From the size of the group, it looks like a lot of other parents were eager to have their kids have a no-screen, get your body moving kind of summer. My daughter is doing art, along with her best friend. We have a caloric need-caloric intake mismatch problem for my kid on the bike, which will definitely need to be rectified tomorrow.
The weather here is bizarre. There's a massive heat wave throughout Northern California (cough, climate crisis). We're spared the brunt of the impact thanks to Karl, but the heat being masked by the fog is hot enough that it doesn't feel cool here, so much as moist and stagnant. The occasional breeze keeps it okay, but this is some bizarre weather. I'm looking forward to our Disneyland trip later this week, but not the fact that it's going to be in the upper 90s in the parks. And yet, we are still arguing in this city over whether we can have a few car-free streets. Democrats are just as adept at pretending that the climate crisis isn't happening/isn't about us as Republicans; we just make it cute.
The world is supposed to open up tomorrow. I feel like I've been waiting in line in customs for a few weeks, hoping to cross through the gate and back into the world. What will it look like? Who will be there? Did they lose my baggage? Tomorrow's the day.
Day 458: Tuesday, June 15
There were no streamers out in the streets, but Newsom ended the color tier system today in California. My kids are still far from free from mask mandates; there's a world of magical political gestures wrapped up in that one. And we still have to mask on public transit and other forms of group transportation. However, the state is theoretically ready to move into the realm of normal life. Normal-ish. For some people. For those of us who survived.
So, while I've been fairly faithful for 458 days about keeping this journal, I'm ready to hang up my keyboard. I started it 15 months ago thinking it would be interesting to track how the world was changing, but as the weeks and then months ticked on, my entries became longer and more necessary for me to process the hell that was pandemic on top of Trump on top of violent climate change on top of violent racism on top of spiraling children on top of everything else. I have been so grateful for this space, and also desperate it at times. It often felt like the only space.
The vaccines have changed so much, though. The world has been reopening, my life has expanded again and it's easy to breathe at long last. The fear is gone--if only about COVID. I remain someone who is constantly worrying about all the other apocalypses underway, obsessively and thoroughly. However, we're going to Disneyland. Yup. That's my big ender here. We're taking the train down to Disneyland later this week, and finally making the trip we had to cancel 15 months ago. The kids are psyched. I'm excited but terrified of the heat wave in progress. And it feels right. Disneyland, woohoo!
So, with that, goodbye. I'm crying a little at what this means. To step away from this at long last and choose to really move on. This past 15 months has been a lot. A lot. We'll never really move on.
Thank you for this space to grieve.