Trying to be normal



By Caitlin Kelly

So we’re doing some of our usual silly banal things, like watching Jeopardy and playing gin rummy and tossing a softball into our battered leather gloves then sitting for a while on a bench in the sun — far away from anyone on our building’s property.

They are comforting and familiar and we need them so so badly.

We haven’t yet, thank God, lost anyone we know to COVID-19 but our minister has it and two of our parishioners, (who are recovering.)

Those of us old enough to remember it, the only time, domestically, that feels like this was the 1980s and the AIDS crisis, which I covered for The Globe & Mail and the Gazette in my native Canada.

Thank God, we still (for now!) have the same smart, tough, wise, no-bullshit public health expert today that we turned to back then, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

But, no matter where you live, we’re all grappling with a sort of life that makes no rational sense right now:

— millions out of work

— no idea if, how or when the economy will recover

— millions still at work endangering their lives and those of others, whether healthcare workers, first responders, police, grocery staff, delivery staff, to care for us

— the world’s richest nation with so few ventilators, let alone trained ICU staff, that triage is going to become brutal for everyone

— a “leader” who babbles and lies and and sneers at and insults any journalist who dares to challenge or question him


We are lucky, so far, to be healthy.


We are lucky, so far, to have continued freelance work.


We are lucky to live in a quiet suburb with places we can go out for a walk safely without dodging dangerous/selfish crowds of people.


We are lucky to live in New York, a state massively whacked by this disease, but led by a governor, Andrew Cuomo, who is calm, empathetic, tough. His daily 11:30 EDT press briefings (available on CNN) are a morning ritual for us now.


From The New York Times:

The governor repeatedly assailed the federal response as slow, inefficient and inadequate, far more aggressively than he had before.

Mr. Cuomo was once considered a bit player on the national stage, an abrasive presence who made his share of enemies among his Democratic Party peers. He was too much of a pragmatist for his party’s progressive wing, too self-focused for party leaders and too brusque for nearly everyone.

But now, he is emerging as the party’s most prominent voice in a time of crisis.

His briefings — articulate, consistent and often tinged with empathy — have become must-see television. On Tuesday, his address was carried live on all four networks in New York and a raft of cable news stations, including CNN, MSNBC and even Fox News.


How are you doing?


What are some of your coping mechanisms?

23 thoughts on “Trying to be normal

  1. I’m doing fine. I’ve been working from home (thank God I’m in a position to do so), and after work I read, binge anime, write and watch the Marvel films (I’ll probably watch Iron Man 3 tonight). i do miss face to face contact, and without barber shops I’ll probably grow a mullet or a man-bun before this is all over. But I’m okay, as far as I can tell. I’m more worried about other people in my life, if I’m being honest. My mom works at a hospital, and one of my sisters is dealing with reduced or no work due to this crisis. I keep in touch, but there’s only so much I can do from here.
    Hopefully this won’t go on for too long.

  2. Thank you for asking. I’m also working from home as I’m self-isolating (I was out of the country 10 days ago). I spend a lot of time counselling my employees (some are fine, but others are freaking out), managing virus protocols, checking on cleaning products and doing a ton of paperwork.

    It’s been a hard week. But I’m trying to focus on the positive. No one I know is sick, my loved ones are safe and so am I. I’m working and no one has been laid off.

    The gov’t is trying to make sure that everyone has some money under EI, including people who are self-employed. I occasionally think about the giant massive bill we’re going to have at the end of this, but it’s what we have to do right now. I’m happy with how Trudeau and the premiers are handling this. Even Ford and Kenney have set aside their egotistical horse-assery and are stepping up. There’s starting to be evidence (particularly in B.C.) that the curve is flattening. So, we’re fortunate in lots of ways.

    Stay safe and well. 🙂

    1. Glad you’re OK and able to keep working…It’s an unprecedented time for everyone, which our sane Gov. Cuomo says daily…no one has any experience with anything like it.

      We are very fortunate to live OUT of NYC (and all its glamour) so feel less anxious — our county has 8,000 cases of COVID-19. I am not aware of they are saying which towns. Our building has so many seniors as it is.

      My father has offered to stay in his house to me in rural Ontario but I think getting sick there would be more dangerous; our hospital is 10 minutes up the road.

      1. I agree – I don’t think that being out in the country would be best.

        It’s been enlightening to see how some leaders have really started to shine while others have sunk into the morass …

  3. Coping mechanisms? It dawned on me belatedly, suddenly, that the expansive enclosed courtyard of my NYC building is not only visible from my windows (!) but I also can go OUT there, walk around and take the air and sun. I did so yesterday; bonus: a nice — socially distanced — conversation with a neighbor maman…. I’ve been invited to some group aperos by cool Paris pals via whatsapp. PLUS — I’m so ready for FREEE entertainment. A week’s worth of free Broadway shows?! Even better (pour moi) no fewer than 65 FREEE-to-stream French films — subtitled! I missed the free Met operas 😦 but here are the links for the above deelights –  If desired, I can add a great free museum link (French and others) -? Enjoy the weekend chez vous by all means possible!

    1. Thanks! This all sounds quite manageable…

      I keep wondering why I am not FREAKING OUT after 2 weeks spent 99% of the time at home. Because that’s how I’ve lived since losing my Daily News job in 2006. I miss my routines, like spin class, but have never been a huge joiner and loathe small talk so most of my true friendships (like my late mother) are often with people who live 3 or 4 or 6 times zones away. Jose is generally very good company and we are good at staying OUT of each other’s hair.

      1. I’m not a good roommate, I admit, but I envy those who, like you, make it work! …Just found out from the management that in my building (125 apts) someone is down with The Virus. I asked that (the very few) seniors here be told if the person is on their floor or not. I bet we will NOT get an answer….

  4. Jan Jasper

    I am pretty introverted so this social isolation, while I don’t like it, is probably easier for me than for many other people. However not being able to go to my gym to exercise…yikes…I’ve already started gaining weight. I have a treadmill in the basement and some hand weights, but I don’t find those very appealing. Today I noticed the internet was very very slow, I assume because of all the people at home. After hearing that Trump, the other day, removed most of what teeth were left in regulations, I decided to buy a whole house water filter. I tried to read about them online today and the internet is so slow that I basically cannot get anything done at all. I’m healthy and am extremely grateful for that. But not being able to read about water filters is frustrating. I think it’s prudent to assume that quality of the water that we drink is likely to worsen

    1. I also do really miss the routine of the gym — did 40 minutes on my bike/trainer on the balcony yesterday, which felt good — but FED UP with so many cold and rainy days, which make that impossible.

      Life under this interminable and incompetent President is not improving for anyone but the billionaires.

  5. sounds like you’re making the best of it, and passing the time in calming ways. i have to say that your mayor, cuomo, has risen to the occasion and above. i am impressed by him more each day. i feel this will be a life-defining event for everyone old enough to understand and will impact our lives in ways we have yet to imagine. as for my time, i begin teaching remotely this week, i go on twice a day remote walks in my parks, read, write, send cards, finish projects. i like the slower pace but not the reasons for it, and worry about finances for everyone.

    1. Jan Jasper

      I found a new way to exercise today that was surprisingly enjoyable and even tiring in a good way. I have been forcing myself to use the treadmill in my basement – talk about a grim environment – and use my hand weights also. Well today I took a long walk, I put on my running shoes ( I don’t run because I don’t think it’s good for the joints) but I walked as fast as I could and I carried my hand weights and I pumped my arms like crazy. After about a mile of this, I was slightly winded,, and I felt like I’d had a decent workout. While the weather was extremely dreary, I got out, got to look at flowers coming up and the colors that people have painted their houses, etc. This is something I could do every day!

      1. Good!

        Today is yet another cold, dreary day — which is SO demoralizing — but even getting out and hearing the birds and seeing all the flowers really does help.

    2. Best of luck with the online teaching — our next next door apt. neighbor usually teaches special ed in the Bronx, and said the NYC schools system was massively unprepared for this.

      1. It is a huge challenge for those who are not prepared for an equitable education for all. As teachers and administrators, we are all fumbling our way through this processes with varying levels of support, skill, and resources

      2. I bet! I am spoiled — I can work at my own pace and only the end result matters. It must be really hard to have to meet external standards under such weird circumstances.

      3. It is, and I feel fortunate to be part of a private school, with a strong, compassionate , and kind woman at the helm. She understands the stress that chosen and families may be under, and to balance that with any academic rigor we may be used to. She knows that contact with them is the most important part.On my end, in the early childhood division, we will be doing virtual class meetings, short videos of ourselves, asking them to send us pics of them doing things with their families, and suggesting more natural ways to learn, using themes, interests, and whatever is around them.

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