Social Distancing in the Time of Coronavirus

Today is day what of sheltering in place? Eight? Ten? I can google when Gavin Newsom made the shelter in place order for our state and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti made the order for our county (same day), but that would surely take me down an internet rabbit hole and I’m trying to focus. Trying to write. 

I know that on March 11th I went to a restaurant with my friend Marisa. She said she was so glad we went to dinner because it helped ease her anxiety. Ironically, that’s the night the shit really hit the fan – The NBA was cancelled, The Hankses announced they had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and the president held a press conference where he read from a script and yet still incorrectly stated no flights would be coming in from Europe after Friday the 13th. (Also, I know that Hankses sounds weird, but trust me Hankses is the plural of Hanks – not Hanks’. It’s grammatically correct.)

On March 12 I went to a popular bar for a going away happy hour for a coworker. (Are people who are a few ticks higher up than you on the corporate ladder, but whom you do not report to coworkers? I don’t know. Anyway.) As I was driving there it was pouring rain. I didn’t feel great about going. But I went anyway. I’m healthy. I’m good about washing my hands. I try to use a tissue or a sleeve every time I touch my face. But still. I was on two planes just eight days before. (And two planes nine days before. And a plane eleven days before. And two planes fourteen days before.) This was before the term social distancing was part of our everyday language. Before we were advised mandated to stand six feet apart. But I was still surprised that the restaurant was so crowded. But like I said. I was there too.

How’s that for a send off cake?

On Friday the 13th I went to Trader Joe’s at 11AM. I knew the president was going to issue a state of emergency at noon and I wanted to get to the market before he did that. Before they really were out of everything. I saw two women from my office there and my friend’s husband. They were already out of so many things. Pasta. Rice. Meat. Vegetarian protein. Potatoes. (And of course all paper and cleaning products.) Dog food. My favorite $9.00 bottle of Sauvingon Blanc. I bought some good cheese. And dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt. If we were going to be stuck in the house at least we could enjoy ourselves.

Where’s the beef? (And the chicken? And the pork?)

We don’t really eat fast food (In N’ Out doesn’t count!), but on Sunday, March 15th, Dave, Marley, and I walked to McDonalds for Shamrock Shake Oreo McFlurries. I wanted to bring the dog and walk and eat the McFlurries because I did not want to eat inside. Dave and Marley wanted to leave the dog home and eat inside. I brought Purell wipes and wiped down the table. Truth be told, it was too minty for me – I would have preferred my McFlurry un-shamrocked, but I ate the whole thing. The weather was cool – in the 60’s, but mostly sunny. It was a gorgeous day. There were a lot of people out walking. Families out taking a walk. I wondered aloud if there were more people than normal out for a walk at 3:00 on a Sunday afternoon. On Sunday night Newsom would shut it down – so there’s the answer to my question. It’s been a week as I write this. A week of shelter in place. I guess we were lucky – we went to a place we never go on the last day we could go there.

That’s pretty green!

Because we had McFlurries so late in the day we weren’t that hungry for dinner so we just had some cheese, a bit of salami, and wine. (And an apple. You know. To be healthy.) Sheltering in place might make me fat.

I went to work on Monday even though I could have worked from home because I knew it would be my last day going in until all of this is over. I wanted to make sure I had everything I needed. Dave works at the same company as I do, but he has a desktop and had to wait until Wednesday for a laptop so he could work at home as well. 

In Nashville there is a bar called Winners that hosts a concert every Monday and Thursday night with different country artists called Whiskey Jam. Because the bar has closed for the coronavirus they’ve turned Whiskey Jam into a nightly virtual event (9:00PM CDT) on Instagram Live called Risky Jam. On Tuesday night I watched Mitchell Tenpenny, Meghan Patrick, Ryan Beaver, and Ernest perform and I was happy and my anxiety melted away for an hour.

Let’s get risky!

Wednesday night I told Marley that I didn’t feel comfortable for her to hang out with her friends. Even if it was just at someone’s house. She was angry with me (understandably), but stayed home. What she didn’t know is that I had diagnosed myself with COVID-19 (with no symptoms) that day and I didn’t want her spreading it to her friends. Dave had oral surgery on Wednesday so I made soup for dinner. Matt Nathanson did an Instagram live concert and for an hour I was happy and forgot that my daughter hated me and the soup I made wasn’t my best and that I had coronavirus. 

On Thursday morning I got up and took the dog for a run and knew that if I had coronavirus I could never do that. (I was cured!) Dave had a second oral surgery. It was our 26th wedding anniversary and instead of a nice steak and a good bottle of wine we had pasta and our favorite $11 everyday wine. Love in the time of coronavirus.

Happy anniversary to us.

On Friday at 2:00 a few people on my team had a 40 minute virtual happy hour. I made myself a vodka and juice drink that wasn’t quite a martini, but I put it in a martini glass. It was pretty and tasty and pink. There were five of us on the video call and it made me happy and again I felt lucky that I work with really great people that I like and love so much. I barbecued hamburgers for dinner and Marley started speaking to me again. I watched Hardy and Devon Dawson and Lauren Alaina on the Instagram Live Risky Jam and my heart felt full with happiness and love and togetherness. I love that these house concerts are popping up to lift people’s spirits. They truly lift mine.

On Saturday we wanted to go for a hike, but when we got to the trail it was closed, so we went to the beach. The weather was beautiful. Perfect, actually. I thought I took a lot of pictures, but I took almost none. We walked on the walking path because we had our dog. It wasn’t crowded, but also it wasn’t dead. Again, I wondered if there were more people than usual on a cool March day since kids can’t play sports or go to birthday parties or go to the mall. It was nice to be in the fresh air. To be in nature. (Later I saw pictures on the news of Malibu and Huntington Beach being packed. We were at Zuma and it wasn’t like that. Nothing like that.) 

Social distancing at Zuma Beach.

At 4:30 I had a virtual happy hour with some of my best girlfriends. We haven’t all been together in over a year. Funny how being apart is the thing that brought us together. A couple hours in, the husbands joined the party. Dave and I had cheese and wine again for dinner. We’re going to meet again virtually next weekend and attempt to play Cards Against Humanity. We’ll see how that goes.

Virtual Happy Hour

This morning I went for a run with my dog. He loves to run, but he’s not the best behaved dog and is a terrible running partner. We crossed paths with a woman with two dogs. I said hello as I was coming upon her and she ignored me. As we were running past her, my dog lunged at her dogs, crossing my path and causing me to trip over him. I yelled as I came tumbling down and she never looked back. Didn’t ask if I was okay. I’m going to assume it’s because she didn’t see me fall (and must have had earbuds in, so didn’t hear me yell) and not because she thought I was a coronavirus carrying zombie. I cleaned the house today. (My house is cleaner than it’s ever been and no one can come over to see it.) I baked banana bread. My writing group had a virtual creativity session at 2:00 where we all dedicated one hour to working on something – writing, editing, practicing yoga, etc. I’m being productive. I wrote this. It’s the first thing I’ve written in a long, long while. 

The coronavirus is worse than terrible. Possibly the worst thing ever. And the worst is truly yet to come. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t more than a little bit scared. And yet – the humanity has been so wonderful. (Well, other than the blind-ear-bud-wearing-corona-virus-zombie-fearing dog walking woman.) The Instagram Live concerts truly fill my music loving heart with joy. Virtual happy hours make me feel connected even when we are forced apart. And I wrote! (And my house is clean!) This is really hard. And is really terrible. But we will get through it. Together. Even when we have to remain apart.

This morning there was a rainbow outside my front door. If that’s not a good sign, I don’t know what is. (Stay well, friends.)

The Year is Half Over, What Have You Done?

On Saturday I woke up to the realization that the year is half over. And what have I done?

Well, I’ve had a lot of fun.

I’ve been to a bunch of Happy Hours with my girlfriends. (I almost never go out to dinner, but I am the queen of Happy Hour.)

I’ve done some cool hikes with my husband.

Sunday we went here.

Malibu hike Charmlee Wilderness Park
A beautiful hike through Charmlee Wilderness Park in Malibu

I’ve been to a bunch of concerts and country music festivals.

Brandy Clark. Coastal Country Jam featuring Jake Owen. Jay Nash, Tony Lucca & Matt Duke. (OMG – if you have a chance to see these guys – just one or all three together DO IT. They are amazing.) Stagecoach. U2. Oakheart Festival. Boots and Brews.

U2 Joshua Tree Tour Stage
U2 Joshua Tree Tour. I’ve seen U2 at least 10 times. I’d gladly see them 1,000 more.

Four festivals and three concerts are more shows that some people will see in a lifetime I realize, but those are not my people. God that sounded super assholey, didn’t it? That was not my intent. I’m super grateful to have gone to these shows. And I’ve got more on the way this year.

Hall & Oates with Tears for Fears (OMG!) Adam Ant (OMFG!) Green Day (Finally!) Thomas Rhett with Old Dominion & Walker Hayes (Cannot effing wait). And something called Retro Futura with Howard Jones, the English Beat and a bunch of other 80’s throwbacks. (Bought for a steal on Groupon – going with Dave and the kids. Should be a blast.)

So yes, it has been and will be a good year for music. Because live music more than anything is what makes me feel so alive. And young. (Seriously, so fucking young.)

And fun is great. Important, even. But I have goals this year that I have not achieved. I wanted to interview more artists like I did last year with Matthew Ramsey of Old Dominion and Matthew Nelson of Nelson. But I haven’t. Because that takes effort and I’ve been busy with a new(ish) job and life and just trying to keep all my balls in the air.

You know. Like everyone else.

I’ve only written seven blog posts all year. And maybe two newsletters (which you should totally sign up for because I obviously won’t overwhelm your inbox and you get a free book. Or rather bookette).

I did write this piece for my friend Jessica’s blog that I’m quite proud of, but only because she asked. And really. It was just a reworking of a piece I’d already written.

And my WIP – the sequel to Frosted Cowboy. LOFuckingL. I have an outline (ish). It’s actually a great story (at least that’s what everyone I’ve told the plot to says), even better than the first. And I’ve written some of it, obviously. But. But. What?

I’m just busy.

And lazy.

And so damn scared.

Because writing is so hard. And what if it’s terrible? (And like any first draft, it is so terrible.)

So, sure. I’ve had some goals. But I haven’t really had a plan. And  A goal without a plan is just a wish. I read that on Pinterest. Or maybe it was Twitter. One of those very philosophical websites.

A goal without a plan is just a wish

Saturday as I was cleaning that pile off my dining room table I came across an article I ripped out of Sunset Magazine by Anne Lamott called Time lost and found. And even though I was “so busy” and I’ve read it at least a dozen times before, I knew that this article about finding time to write was exactly what I needed and I sat down and read it again and it made me cry.

Because Anne Lamott knows the truth.

It’s so easy to make excuses. To be too busy to write. Busy job. Busy social life. Keeping all those balls in the air.

I’m not going to stop going to concerts or hiking with my husband or (god forbid) Happy Hour.

But what if I didn’t work through lunch every day. Or let one of those balls drop? (Or two? Or three? Or four?)

What if when I get up at 5AM (and I do, every single day) I actually write a blog post? Or contact a musician’s publicist? Or stopped being so scared to tackle my WIP?

Maybe in six month’s time – when the year is completely over, I’ll have done more than just have fun. More than just work. I’ll have created.

And my year will be one that was not half-lived.

 

*The quote “A goal without a dream is just a wish” is attributed to Antoine de Saint-Exupery (but you can find it on Pinterest).