Thursday, May 21, 2020

Quarantine Diaries #8

It's kind of confusing because we're not technically on lockdown here anymore. In Minnesota, you're allowed to have gatherings of 10 people or less. But can you imagine? Inviting people to your home and perhaps killing them in the process by accident? I mean, no thank you.

In the meantime, here's a story I've been wanting to tell. There's no deeper meaning, but I find it amusing.

The other day, I was staring out the front window and happened to notice a plastic bag sitting in front of our door. I brought it in, and it was four items of frozen food from the frozen food delivery company, Schwan's.

When I was little, we used to get Schwan's, and I thought it was very exciting. There were personal pan pizzas and chicken kievs. But I personally have never made contact with the company called Schwan's. In short, I did not order this frozen food

I sent an email to the neighbors using a list I had stored from National Night Out. Hey, I told the neighbors, if this is your stuff, LMK and I'll drop it at your door. In the meantime, I'm keeping it in my freezer.

A couple of days went by, and no one replied, so one night after dinner, I helped myself to one of the Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Sandwiches from Schwan's. The kids did, too.

The next day, Shef wondered if he might bake up some of the Raspberry and White Chocolate Scones.

"Let's see how hard it is," I said. I pulled out the package of pre-scored dough, perfectly shaped into triangular pieces. The directions said to heat the oven, break them apart, and put the triangles in for thirty minutes. We did it, and the results were quite delicious. Later, Dan expressed concern over the healthiness of the scones.

"Are you worried about Shef's caloric intake?" I asked, eyebrow arched. I mean, that child is 6 feet, 2 inches tall, and a mere one hundred and thirty-nine pounds.

A few days after that, we had the frozen lasagne, and everyone was quite pleased. We have just one shrimp stir-fry dinner left. It seems the least appealing of the four things, but we'll probably give it a try.

How and why did this boon come our way? I think I might never know.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Quarantine Diaries #7

Here we are at another weekend. I generally remain prone on Saturdays in quarantine, except for when I do my exercise. I like to just read or fall asleep or generally let my mind wander on Saturdays.

Although, I'll admit the mind wandering hasn't really been all that pleasant of late. People keep getting and dying of COVID-19. Other people flout stay-at-home guidelines that would prevent thousands of deaths. All of us (me too) feel that lockdown is unsustainable in many ways. Ahmaud Arbery was murdered in Georgia. He was out for a run, something each person in my white family does multiple times per week with no fear of violence.

Thinking about the situation we're in right now is overwhelming and sad. And where is Joe Biden? In his basement doing a bad job of using technology while prominent democrats attempt to goad him into the public consciousness?

Come on, people.

I've been quelling my panic by reminding myself that literally, every smart person is working on coronavirus right now. Like, all of the best epidemiologists and public health experts and economists and educators--they're all trying to fix things. But, I fear their fixes will be buried and dismantled by incompetent politicians. Someone please tell me I'm wrong.


Monday, April 27, 2020

Quarantine Diaries #6

First, I'm a snaggle tooth now. The other night I was eating a delicious chicken tinga taquito, one of many I lovingly prepared for my family, and a filling in my front tooth came out. My children noticed first. The filling is missing, and now I look worse than usual. I probably swallowed that little bit of fake tooth with the taquito, and all I can do is feel the jagged edge with the tip of my tongue.

Something else: it was supposed to be a rainy day, but instead, it just rained in the morning and now it's sunny and 70. Glorious, if you will.

A third thing: I sent some chapters of my next project to my writers' group. I hope they like them. They probably will, and they'll probably have some good ideas about how to make them better. Making them better is a primary aim of mine.

Finally, the time has come to limit caloric consumption. At first, the quarantine seemed like a weird, no-man's land free-for-all. Whatever! We're in quarantine! Eat all the carbs and drink all the wine! Now, it's been like years in here. My stomach hurts a little and some of my clothes feel not the greatest. Maybe some better choices are in order. I run, but as I learned on The Biggest Loser, you can eat your way through any amount of exercise.

I guess that's it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Quarantine Diaries #5

We've all been here in the house like everyone else has been in their houses. Mostly, I feel we're doing okay except for the crushing collective grief.

I mean, right?

Last night, over our delicious dinner of mushroom, sausage, and spinach fricassee, Dan randomly started calling me Momar. He says it sounds similar to Mama. He says he thinks it's a nice name for me. The children, especially Shef, have adopted it immediately.

Look: I hate being called Momar. Who would want to be called that?

To me, it sounds quite similar to Muammar, as in Muammar Gaddafi, the dead dictator of Libya. I'm sorry, but who would like their at-home term of endearment to signal an authoritarian regime?

Not me. But, in this case, it doesn't seem to matter what I think.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Quaratine Diaries #4

What's happened now is that I've handed in the next version of my book. It turns out my editor had brilliant suggestions that I truly enjoyed implementing. Together, we made the book considerably better on this round, and I felt a little embarrassed that I'd handed it in as it was before.

Now, we hold our breath to see whether my editor likes the changes I've made in response to her reactions.

My guess is that she'll like most of them and then have a few more suggestions. She'll write her suggestions as comments in the Word document. Sometimes they'll be framed as questions. For example, she might write, "Would Alice really react this way? Or might she instead yell at so-and-so and text such-and-such?" That won't really be a question, and I'll know I'm supposed to fix that part.

My editor might also say something like, "This resolution isn't working for me. Maybe it could be X, Y, or Z? Do those ideas spark anything for you?" And, I'll either choose one of her suggestions or come up with something different that also does the trick.

This is how it works with an editor. If you need more information about this all-important relationship for a writer, may I suggest one of my favorite books of all time, Back and Forth: Using an Editor's Mindset to Improve Student Writing by the one and only Lee Heffernan.

In the meantime, I'm catching up on things like chores and making to-do lists. Later I'll even comb my hair, but only because I'm Zooming with a book club. These are strange times. My editor's name is Kerry, and I believe she's quite excellent at her job.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Quarantine Diaries #3

Starting this very day, there will be structure and order in our lives.

Well, that's my intention, but let's be honest: we'll probably end the day in a big pile of steaming failure.

But, wait!

Optimism, hope, and incremental progress!

Here's the plan: the children's online learning begins. For this first week, their learning is all asynchronous, but I've decided everyone will work from nine until noon. OR, they can work from ten until one. It's their choice. Either way, a snack break can occur at the 90-minute mark of the work period. If there is no work to be done, they can read or do Khan Academy or study for the ACTs, or, let's face it, they could just pretend to work, and I'd never know.

Dan said while making his latte, "I can't wait to see how today goes."

I said, "I notice you let me be the one to tell them about the routines."

Dan laughed in a guilty little way he does when he has, in fact, shifted responsibility in my direction. "Well, you're a teacher."

I raised an eyebrow. "You have to help enforce."

"I will!" Dan seemed sure about this, but I felt suspicious.

"You can't say, 'Your mother says.'"

He promises he won't. I'll report back. Optimism, hope, and incremental progress. Eye roll.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Quarantine Diaries #2: Status Report


My stomach: It's slightly on the upset side, I think because I've been eating too much dairy. Dairy doesn't, in general, agree with me; and many times in my life, I've cut it out altogether.

But quarantine doesn't seem like the time for restriction, and in fact, I've met social isolation with cheddar and mozzarella and marble jack. I don't regret it one bit except for the stomachache.

Media: I've been reading some, but I'd like to read more.

Meanwhile, I've been watching some excellent television. Dan and I are three episodes from the finale of The Americans. We're highly invested. Please don't tell us any spoilers for that show. The writers are brilliant and they hit almost every required note from a storytelling standpoint. I can't wait to see how they draw it to a close. Further, my friend Nicole introduced me to American Vandal on Netflix. She and I watched the first episode using Netflix Party where you watch the show and have a sidebar chat (Quarantine Fun!), and I laughed so hard that I made Shef come down and I rewatched it with him. He also laughed.

Apparently, I only want to watch shows with America in the title. Because, patriotism?

Book Work: I'm in revisions. I'm getting there. Someday, people will get to read my second book, and that someday will be next spring.