Category Archives: Family

Pandemic Diary: 10 May 2021

I’ve been languishing since January and find it hard to motivate myself to talk about the pandemic anymore. I’m so tired of it. And there’s no clear end in sight.

I have written a couple of times in the Pandemic Journaling Project, so I’m going to copy and paste those entries here.

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12 April 2021

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

I haven’t had any motivation to write about the pandemic for the past two weeks. It’s like I’ve run out of caring about it. My husband and I are both fully vaccinated now, so we were able to spend Easter with our kids and grandkids, which was fantastic. My grandson greeted me with a huge hug and kiss, and I said, “I can eat your face again!” So we both kissed each other all over our faces. Our granddaughter was also super excited to see us. She’s less kissy than her brother, but she gives great hugs.

I’ve thought, “I need to write this in my blog—it’s a huge part of the pandemic experience.” But I haven’t done it, for some reason. It’s not like I feel that the pandemic is over—that’s far from true. Even if the variants don’t take over and make the vaccine worthless, we’re still going to have a long time before enough people are immune to get back to a life of easy socializing. And a huge surge is happening right now in Michigan, with the infection rate going from 45,000+ two weeks ago to 51,500+ this past week. Only 35% of Americans are vaccinated so far, so it’s going to be a while before we can call it a day on this. So maybe it’s just pandemic fatigue that’s kept me from writing here or on my personal blog.

I felt really angry after we came back from Brooklyn. I just want to be able to feel relaxed about spending time with people, and to wander around Central Park without feeling unsafe and afraid every time I pass by someone with less than 6ft between us. Or even just having to have 6ft between me and the rest of the world. I’ll keep doing it until it’s safe not to, but I’m getting super sick of it.

Talk about your current living situation. Has anything changed during the pandemic (for example, where you’re living, who you’re living with, etc.).

The major thing that’s changed for us is recently we refinanced our house to take advantage of the current low interest rates, and we took a cash-out for $8,000. Then the stimulus checks came, so we added another $2,800 to that. And we finally got our refund from an error in my tax filing for 2020, which was way more than I expected—$2,700! When I file this year’s taxes, I can fill out the rebate form for not getting my 2nd stimulus check for $600, so we might actually get a refund for that, too. Being in the money has allowed us to upgrade and beautify our home and gardens in ways that we’ve wanted to do for a long time but couldn’t afford to. There were so many people at Target yesterday that the checkout line went down the aisle and around the corner. You can see the stimulus checks in action! Anyone who says that personal checks don’t help the economy wasn’t at Target yesterday.

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26 April 2021

“How has the pandemic affected your life in the past week?”

In the past week? Great, in maybe a weird way. We got our relief checks, so that’s another $2800 in the bank account. We spent a lot of it on garden stuff so we can make our front yard look as good as we’ve wanted it to for 12 years. And we’re also getting things for the vegetable gardens and Louie’s Milkweed Butterfly garden. It’s wonderful to be able to afford better quality items than we usually can.

That seems like a very materialistic view of life in the pandemic. But it’s real, and a blessing for us.

Has the pandemic disrupted your plans for the future in any major way? If so, talk about the most significant disruption(s).

The border with Canada is still closed, so we can’t travel to Montreal and Ottawa. We spend a lot of time in both places when we’re allowed to. We had also planned a 25th anniversary trip to Nova Scotia last year. That’s not going to happen again this year either.

Travel in general has been halted—after more than a year, it’s getting sad and a bit suffocating not to be able to go anywhere. First World Problems.

Additional material

With everyone vaccinated, we were able to spend Easter weekend with our kids and grandkids. It was soul-filling. We went to Central Park (NYC) on Saturday to have a chilly picnic. In this picture, Anna is playing with her dad, and Louie is scoping out his next activity. So much fun!

Pandemic Diary: 28 March 2021

James got his second Pfizer shot this past week, so in 10 days, we’ll both be fully vaccinated. He’s protected enough with just the first shot (85%) that we’re going down to Brooklyn for Easter. That’s the best resurrection I can imagine right now.

It’s cold and rainy today, after a week of sunny spring weather. New England always teases us with spring before returning to cold, and sometimes even snow. Gives the old curmudgeons that New England seems to breed something to complain about. Even though it happens every year.

We got our refinance money and have been boosting the economy buying home improvement stuff that we couldn’t afford before. We’re still waiting on our stimulus checks.

New rug, old dog

Pandemic Diary: 16 March 2021

I just read a NYTimes article about “disenfranchised grief”—grief that isn’t acknowledged. There is a lot of it that has built up in many of us who haven’t lost anyone close to us, or lost our jobs, or been evicted. Our losses are “smaller”; e.g., losing time with our grandchildren; missing out on big events like weddings, funerals, graduations; canceling travel plans; or just being unable to be with people face-to-face.

All those little losses add up, though, and need to be acknowledged. We have to give ourselves permission to feel it. It’s common to say, “Other people have it a lot worse than me, so I can’t grieve the small things.” I say it all the time—”I’m lucky because I already worked from home so my job wasn’t affected”; “No one close to me has died, so I’m very fortunate”; etc. I feel sad that we can’t be with our kids and grandkids. It was painful to have to have a memorial service for my brother-in-law, who died from lung cancer, over Zoom—it tore me apart to see my niece sobbing and not be able to hold her. I miss wandering around TJMaxx for a couple of hours.

But I haven’t lost a loved one to COVID. We haven’t been evicted or lost our income. We can afford to put food on the table. So my grief isn’t as important as others’. I don’t have a right to grieve.

Not so! There’s no hierarchy of grief. My grief is just as legitimate as anyone else’s and needs to be honored. How to do that is up to me—I need to find ways to grieve openly that work for me. I’m not good at grief in general, so it won’t be easy. Not that grief ever is.

Pandemic Diary: 14 March 2021

I was finally able to get a vaccination, after a couple weeks of searching for an available appointment. We had to drive 2 hours to get it, but that was actually a bonus—a road trip after a year cooped up! It was fun. Mike is the one who finally scored me the appointment, with a Twitter alert. When he heard the ping on his phone, he dropped everything and ran to the computer, according to Jesse. I ended up with 2 appointments that day and hung on to both until I was sure the first one was going to happen. Then I canceled it so someone else could get it.


I’m among the first in the US to get the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine. My doc said it’s fine, and it only requires one instead of two, so that’s a big plus. James gets his 2nd one next week, so we’ll be all clear by Easter and can actually travel to Brooklyn to spend it with the Piscitello crew! That’s the best present of all.

Pandemic Diary: 6 Mar 2021

Due to the diligent efforts of my son-in-law, I finally have an appointment for a vaccination! We have to drive 2 hours to Worcester to get it, but I’ll do what I have to. It’ll make a nice roadtrip for James and I.

I just canceled all my Tuesday lessons, as well as Weds morning just in case I feel lousy after the shot. I’m getting the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is just one dose, no booster. So as of 2 weeks from Tuesday (time for it to take full effect), I’ll be protected from hospitalization or death.

And since James is getting his booster on 3/24, we might just be able to go to Brooklyn for Easter! All hope is not lost.