March 28, 2020

Our distance learning didn’t begin until Tuesday, but if anyone asks, Monday was chock-full of education. We did Language Arts (Mad Libs on the back of a Sour Patch Kids cereal box). We did Math (taking turns at the Tower of Hanoi puzzle, which Foss (7) picked up with surprising ease, leading me to declare him a genius and grant him a free pass to graduate first grade). And we did Culinary Arts (I baked bread and the boys ate it).

This is our “would’ve been” week — it’s the week my kids would’ve been back in school, the week my sister and her family would’ve been visiting from Wisconsin, the week I would’ve been shopping or going to restaurants and coffee with her, the week our kids would’ve been gallivanting around in this beautiful weather together.

But the kids are not in school, my sister and her family are not in Arizona, I haven’t gone shopping, even grocery shopping, or set foot in any kind of store for nearly two weeks, and the kids have done shockingly little gallivanting.

We have done our fair share of hiking, although it looks like that’s getting shut down now too. School’s been canceled, work’s been canceled, stores have been canceled, and now the outdoors has been canceled. Lucky for all of us who have the luxury of quarantining in comfort, streaming entertainment has not been canceled, and we’ve been cycling through genres at breakneck speed. We finally watched Instant Family with our older two boys, which is a charming and surprisingly realistic look at foster care. Emma is a delightful new take on the Austen classic. It’s visually lovely with a quirky and wonderful soundtrack, and quirky and wonderful characters. PSA: It’s rated PG but if you’re planning to watch it with the kids, beware a very brief…um…male posterior. The Invisible Man was produced by Blumhouse, which practically has a monopoly on smart horror, and it’s a loose adaptation of the H.G. Wells book, which Kiefer (15) just read. He and I watched it and the plot is obviously nothing like the original but it does give its source material some winks and nods. Also, I legit screamed, like, five times during the movie. Screamed. And speaking of scary, did you know that Disney+ has Return to Oz? I’ve told my kids about that movie so many times, and I finally got to make them watch it. And yes, the queen with a hallway of heads is just as creepy as ever. We have yet to dip our toes into Tiger King, but that’s probably not far off (for the adults, anyhow).

I saw a post the other day in which people were adding to an ever-growing list of things that aren’t canceled, and that was enjoyable to read. I mean, a lot of them had to do with the outdoors, like blossoms and birdsong, for instance, and those things kinda are canceled — our town just closed all public parks, playgrounds, and recreation areas. But there’s a lot of goodness and truth on the list too (including, of course, goodness and truth) — music, reading, and family dinners have not been canceled. Nor have cups of tea, mugs of coffee, or glasses of wine. Snuggly kids have not been canceled, or purring kittens, or beautiful sunrises. Humor has not been canceled (yet). Our brains, and the ability to exercise them, have not been canceled. God’s sovereignty hasn’t been canceled. Joy and laughter have not been canceled.

Speaking of laughter, I just took the award for “Most Obnoxious Parent in the Sixth Grade” when I accidentally replied-all to an email the other day — an email that included roughly fifty people. Thankfully the email I sent was short and sweet, but it was also unique to my own child and definitely not something every other parent was dying to read. (One of my {very good-natured} friends instantly emailed me back laughing her head off, then quickly texted me as well to make sure I felt thoroughly shamed. I DID.) I might never email again.

And speaking of school communication, I’m not kidding when I say that for the first few days after distance learning commenced, I got around twenty emails A DAY. (I love you, teachers!!) I am incredibly thankful for all the hard work and creativity that our teachers are investing in order to maintain some stability for our kids during these strange days. It’s not that the individual teachers are communicating too much — it’s just a simple case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. A handful of emails from one teacher is great, but I have four kids ranging from preschool to highschool, and I am hearing from every single teacher, every single principal, every single specials instructor, and every single administrator. We are getting supplemental emails from PE teachers with ideas on how to keep the kids active, and supplemental emails from other adjunct faculty with ideas for art projects or books to read. We are getting emails from administrators with updates on what the Governor is telling them, and follow-up emails with updates on what that will mean for our school specifically. We are getting emails with invitations to Zoom meetings, as well as emails with opportunities to tune in for live-streaming sessions. We’ve even received some school-wide texts alerting us to the presence of more emails. It’s…a lot, and I am definitely missing things here and there. Things like how many people are included when I reply-all. Or whatever.

Our cat has gone outside and caught a lizard every single day this week. She brings them inside and taunts them and plays with them and hunts them and bites them and it is thoroughly disgusting. We call it Science. What are you learning, children? That cats are hard-hearted monsters who hunt for sport, not food! She’s so much happier when she gets to romp around our backyard for a little while every day, but this lizard thing has got to stop. A few days ago she caught two – TWO – at the same time, and was carrying them both around in her mouth. We tried not to barf as we watched her spit them out and pounce back and forth between them as they both slowly lost the will to live.

(Go follow Nathan Pyle & buy his book Strange Planet immediately)

Maybe what’s happened is that she’s noticed things are a little weird around here. Maybe she’s noticed that we haven’t gone shopping much lately and she’s worried about us. Maybe it’s time to take these lizards as the gifts they are. I mean really, if the cat is hunting for us, who are we to complain? I did make homemade bread, after all. Maybe it’s time to go full-fledged survivalist and just work with what we’ve got. Live off the land, you know? Lizard paninis, anyone?

Many thanks, Cat, for this…meal.

I kid. We do our best to take the poor lizards away from her and dump them somewhere safe. OBVIOUSLY we don’t eat them, because THAT would be weird.

Someone stole our dirt bike out of our backyard this week, which is unsettling and irritating. Our security camera shows it simply vanishing from sight one night. Time-stamp 1:57:46 a.m. it’s there. Time-stamp 1:58:01 a.m. it’s gone. We don’t see anyone in the footage, and the motion sensors were never tripped. Either a ninja stole it, or a very lucky drunk. A few days later, my in-laws, who live nearby, were taking a walk and spotted it, ditched in the alley a short way away, and it looks as though someone took it joyriding, crashed it, and left it for dead. Two weeks of quarantine and it’s already Mad Max over here.

When it comes to quarantine cooking, I’m all over the place. One day I’m like “I’m making everything from scratch for ever and always amen!” and the next we’re eating frozen chicken tenders and frozen jalapeno poppers, with some frozen green beans tossed in for a pop of color and to ward off scurvy. (That is literally a meal we had this week.)

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about being bored, which I cannot, in the furthest reaches of my mind, even begin to fathom. Between the usual requirements of life, and school (and its attendant emails), and the vast number of texts, calls, and Zoom meetings (which are still coming fast and furious), I’ve barely had time to sit down and open a book. One could argue that I do in fact have some time on my hands because I already admitted to watching a few movies WHICH IS TRUE DON’T JUDGE ME. Those come at night when I’m sleepy and good for nothing. The days are full — busy but rich in their own odd way — and I haven’t come close yet to anything approximating boredom.

When I do pause to breathe, it turns out that sunrises are still glorious, sunsets are even more so, and there’s plenty of lovely, un-canceled moments in between.

This was Quarantine Week 2. Go lock up your dirt bikes.

Journal of a Semi-Quarantined Introvert, Week 2

  1. Cassandra says:

    Ummm. Yes. To all these things. Minus the cat stuff. And dirt bike. But loved reading all of it, especially this…” When it comes to quarantine cooking, I’m all over the place. One day I’m like “I’m making everything from scratch for ever and always amen!” and the next we’re eating frozen chicken tenders and frozen jalapeno poppers, with some frozen green beans tossed in for a pop of color and to ward off scurvy. (That is literally a meal we had this week.)” Thank you, friend! I needed this blog post today!!!

    • elisajoy says:

      Thank YOU, Cassandra! We’re in this together….even if we’re on opposite sides of the country! xoxo

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