Our new normal


I don’t know what to say, but I know I should say something.

I should record this. This post-virus world. Coronavirus. COVID-19. Today marks the fifth day I have hunkered down in my condo, but it marks the first day I have not walked out the door.

Now, let’s be honest. I have lived by myself for over three years, so much of this isn’t new. But this is the first time in my life that I have been required by the state to stay at least six feet from another human being.

This is our new normal.

Last week, I stayed at Mallory’s house for three days and shared dinners and walks and laughs and “projects” with grandchildren, my daughters and my sons-in-law. Despite invitations to stay longer, I knew I needed to return to my condo as the state began to clamp down (two weeks? four weeks? eight weeks? who knew?). If Connecticut were to shut down completely, I would need to pack up my life to move to one of my daughter’s homes. I wasn’t ready to do that.

I pray I don’t regret this decision.

So here I am. My part-time job at the art museum was put on pause when the museum closed two weekends ago. My online editing job has slowed down to the drip, drip, drip of assignments as colleges and businesses around the world shift from dorms and offices to sofas and dinner tables. What’s interesting is that I have edited a few more creative assignments: children’s books, poems, science fiction manuscripts. I guess people are sitting around working on all those ideas they never had time for — yes, everyone’s a writer.

I have finished reading one library book that doesn’t have to be returned until the library opens again. And I’ve started another for book club, which won’t be meeting in April. I’ve worked on some collage projects (the photo above). Started an embroidery project. Signed up for a Coursera class on philosophy (if only I could stay awake!). Bought material for a sundress for Eloise. Picked out my seeds for the community garden plot. Spent waaaaaaayyyyy too much time on social media sites and been waaaaaaayyyyyy too annoying with posts.

I know how to keep myself busy.

To explain, Connecticut is tucked around and beneath two states that are starting to spike with confirmed cases of COVID-19: New York and Massachusetts. Most people I know are really trying to follow the state’s call to stay home. The parking lots at state parks were reportedly full this past weekend, but the walkers and runners were spaced out. Tonight, all businesses except those considered essential shut their doors at 8 p.m. I’ve walked to the Stop & Shop, Walmart, and the local liquor store in the past few days for exercise. I haven’t bought take-out from any of the local restaurants that are trying to stay open and keep their staff on the payroll. I will probably give some a try this coming week.

Mallory, Seth, and Nate have all been working from home, but Emily’s company is still considered essential, so she goes to work three days a week, and works from home two days a week. Her company, like many in Connecticut, makes products used by the military, so that is considered essential. Last week there were fears that an employee had the virus, but that turned out to be false. So, she continues to drive back and forth, trying to be careful, changing out of work clothes as soon as she gets home. I wish she could be safe at home. Always.

“Flattening the curve” is the new buzzword as families shelter in place, Wall Street keeps freaking out, Congress still thinks this is all a game, and the leader of the free world is more worried about his ratings and his minions’ opinions than how families are going to survive this. He had finally admitted this was not a hoax, but now it is the “Chinese” virus, which has encouraged a growing backlash against Asian-Americans. And because of his unwillingness to prepare for the spread of the virus early on, the U.S. has done a pitiful job of testing. Even today, as the virus nears peak levels in some states, most people still cannot get tested unless they are already exhibiting several virus symptoms. And I know some people think he’s doing a “perfect” job, but I also know some people still think this is all fake news, so we all exist within the realities we create.

And so it goes.

I haven’t written any new poems in months. I hope to again. But my mind simply jumps around too much now. I wake up in the middle of the night to read or listen to a podcast. I fall asleep to ocean sounds from Alexa. I know there are so many things I cannot control in the next weeks and months. I have to believe that we will find our way through this, because we always have, because we must go on no matter what.

They say this is the week that we’ll start seeing huge jumps in the cases. That’s because they’re taking more tests. We can finally confirm the actual numbers. But there still aren’t enough tests. I just hope that curve flattens, that all of this upheaval makes a difference, that my family and friends stay safe. I’m not so worried about anything else.

I’ve started over before.  I can do it again.





10 thoughts on “Our new normal

  1. Julie, I have such similar thoughts… I too have been listening to relaxing sounds/ youtube video for sleep, but waking up wondering what’s going on, but like you have started again before and will again… just want our families safe…

    thinking of you, Kathleen

    Liked by 1 person

    • You too, Kathleen. I think no matter the details, we all want the same things. Always have. We humans are pretty much the same all over. But we all must choose hope over fear now. It’s the only way out.


  2. Julia, it’s like we are all waiting THE blizzard or THE hurricane except we’ve been waiting for weeks. Like you, my routine hasn’t changed too much–I still take my walk in the morning and then I’m indoors for the rest of the day. I saw this sign in a neighbor’s house: Stock Up on Hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Julia,
    I found you through my dad’s friend who thought I might enjoy a poem you wrote in a Thanksgiving card. I then discovered Origami Poems and your blog! Here we are, a year after the above post, a little more hopeful. I feel it in the air. Maybe it’s Spring.Or maybe a shot in the arm.
    I haven’t written a concert blog for over a year and a half, and it feels so foreign to me now. The thought of going to a packed music hall full of sweaty fans seems like an impossible dream. Concerts in the future will definitely have “new normal” rules.
    I found myself writing poetry like crazy this past year, which is completely foreign to me. I’ve only written a couple of poems in my life, and now have about 40 piled up.
    Anyway, I’m glad I found you.
    Cheers from the Northwest!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lisa, so sweet of you to leave a message. Nice to know you have been here. I would love to read your concert blog! I cannot wait for live music and live theater again too. I’ll never take it for granted again! You should post your poetry. Once you take the leap it’s not so scary.

      It is a hopeful time. One of two shots makes a big difference. Looking forward to a great summer — and a trip to Greece! It was scheduled last summer, and I just found out it’s definitely on again — well, if Greece can keep doing better than the rest of Europe. Cheers from the Northeast! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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