Quarantimes Week 21: How Adorable Were We Then

August 5th, 2020

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I was poised on a rock in the West River watching my daughters swim. Watching them like a hawk, because I must be vigilant at all times now. About everything. 

Suddenly, I remembered that I was always this anxious. This is not new.

Remember being anxious before COVID? Doesn’t that just seem adorable, in retrospect? Like, what was our problem then? Will I at some point look back on this time and think, I really was overly spun out then, too?

Technically, this is the first time in my adult life I have not worked full time. For about 25 years now I have been a scrambler. 

Now, I work when Jon is not working, and when my mom comes — which is three days a week. She lives an hour away and arrives mid-morning, so on a good day I have time to garden, prep dinner, or make granola or popsicles before she shows up. On a bad day, I count the minutes until she arrives. Quite literally. But I never have to rush in the morning anymore, which is, in itself, a luxury.

We finally have some kind of a rhythm, and although it’s not entirely realistic (my full-time income is a necessity, not a perk, so this situation has been financially impossible), I have an accepting attitude toward the state of things, and feel incredibly fortunate to be in Vermont.

 

Yet, as summer winds up, like most parents, I’m faced with what feels like a life-or-death decision about school. It’s a decision fraught with implications and influenced by a lot of wildly polar opinions. The cortisol levels are high.

I keep waiting for the “right” answer to just come to me, but as so many writers and soothsayers and other moms keep reminding me, there is no “right” answer. There’s no answer that will make me feel like I’ve got it all under control. I also want someone else to make my decisions for me now. But there’s no one in charge. 

Sometimes I miss Obama so much it hurts. Just to feel like someone was in charge. The cool confidence backed by actual smarts… and such a calming presence. 

I think often of Pema Chodron, whose work as a Buddhist author includes sobering observations like:

“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart.”

Indeed. School will come together. Then it will probably fall apart again.

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What I’m reading:

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead is ripping my heart out right now.

In the New York Times, How to Handle Anxiety Over Back-to-School Decisions

It’s helpful to remember that in times of chaos, the dogged search for certainty can itself lead to distress. Dr. Pearson pointed out that the goal is not to guarantee that your child will never be exposed to a virus particle. That is impossible. The goal is to make a realistic plan that will holistically keep teachers, families and children as safe as possible.

This is fascinating: In Utah, These Entrepreneurs Are Building Their Own Version of Eden

Yet another former yoga teacher of mine turns out to be super molesty. I really know how to pick ‘em. Or maybe it’s just that a lot of ‘em are like this. 

How the Hell Are Working Parents ‘Doing This’? on The Cut

What I’m listening to:

The Radiolab podcast episode Invisible Allies made me really glad I take a Vitamin D supplement and even more glad I spend as much time outside as possible. 

Just started a new podcast called Unfinished: Deep South, which explores the 1954 lynching of Isadore Banks and how it was covered up and buried for decades.

What I’m eating:

If you have a glut of delicious tomatoes and you also happen to have za’atar in the cupboard like I do (#bourgiehippie) I highly recommend Bon Appetit’s Fancy and Beautiful Tomato Salad

Thanks to the millions of cucumbers in my garden right now, I’ve also been experimenting with cucumber recipes including:

My go-to crisp recipe for any fruit comes from Barbara Kingsolver’s lush book Animal Vegetable Miracle: Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp (again, you can sub any fruit, and sometimes I add nuts or other spices)

 

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