Day 3: Tele-working in a time of COVID-19 and teaching mom new tricks

The wind howled through Thursday night into the wee hours of Friday morning. I mean, howled. Like a tormented wolf, it shook the window screens off the house and at one point I stared through the dark at the ceiling just waiting for our roof to peel off. The creaks and groans made Beatrice, Executive Assistant, nervous and she kept getting up, click-clicking down the hall to look out windows and check doors. Neither of us got any sleep, which is why I woke up feeling very melancholy.

As I poured my first mug of Bali Kintamani coffee (thank you, Spice Merchant!), I felt weary and knew I’d be wearing my borderline sadness around my neck like a light scarf. I made a promise to turn off my phone alerts from the CDC and stop checking the news for updates. I sat at my home workstation and waited for my team to join our 8:30 am check-in followed by our weekly planning meeting. As they joined and their voices filled my Zen room, Beatrice, E.A., began looking around, looking down the hall and even out the window trying to find the humans attached to these voices. After five minutes, she gave up and went to retrieve her new toy.

To both our delight, BarkBox arrived on our doorstep yesterday. I agreed to make it “Bring Your New Best Friend to Work Day” so she could carry around her purple kangaroo. This month, her BarkBox has an Australian theme with proceeds to benefit the wildfires of Australia. Damn. That catastrophe seems like eons not just a few months ago. Beatrice E.A. is oblivious to the fires and recovery of Australia but she sure loves her kangaroo. ‘

I had scheduled a short workday since I needed to be available for family facing sitter issues and my parents needs, plus with the lack of sleep I was feeling very unproductive and foggy brained. After our meeting, I decided I needed to get out of the house, if just for a few minutes. My sister had sent me a Marco Polo to let me know Illinois was preparing for a statewide shutdown and with California and New York already in shutdown mode, I felt I better find the items I’d left at the bottom of my list – the non-emergency stuff. Oh, and ketchup. Bingo!

Okay, still no paper products at Target, but I scored ketchup, deodorant, oatmeal, toothpaste, extra grain-free chews for Beatrice, Executive Assistant, and hair color since I’m certain my stylist will be closing shop soon and I have an upcoming appointment. Isolation or no isolation, I got to maintain the hair. The best part of the Target trip? Bea went with me.

She was so excited. She always knows when I’m leaving because I put on shoes and grab my purse then stumble around her as she body-blocks my way to the garage. I realized she might need a break too, so asked her “want to go?” Those three words always elicit short barks and bucking bronco imitations. Obviously, her answer is always yes. My shopping took no more than 15 minutes, so instead of driving straight home we took the scenic route past the airport, down K-15 and along the muddy farm fields. I rolled down all the windows so we could both feel the spring air in our hair (and ears). It did us both good.

Then, I decided I needed to teach mom how to send video messages through Marco Polo. We use this as an easy means to communicate between my sister in Illinois, my brother in Olathe, me and my parents. But my mom only watches our videos and never responds. I took a deep breath and called her on their landline and asked her to get her cell phone. I wish I’d recorded what ensued, although I do have her test runs on Marco Polo for posterity – and hilarity. From trying to get her to stop recording just her forehead and the ceiling and hitting the “stop” button too soon and cutting off her message to the cussing. Oh, the cussing. My mom loves a good “dammit” and “shit,” and her test videos were filled with “Dammit, I can’t hold the phone right,” “This shit,” “oh, shit,” and “Dammit, Natalie.” We both laughed (plus I could hear dad laughing in the background) and it was the best medicine of the day. I sent a group message and asked mom to respond and I could tell it was good for my sister and brother to see her and hear her, “oh, shit” included.

I ended the day on the couch, a glass of buttery chardonnay and a livestream on Facebook from one of my favorite local bands, Pretend Friend.

The music, the live chat, all of it gave me hope. We will get through this – our ancestors have survived worse. And as I continue to hope, we will come through this as better humans. Much better.

The weekend is upon us. I encourage you to read, listen, create and be. I leave you with this:

In the Time of Pandemic

And the people stayed home.
read books and listened, and rested and exercised,
and made art and played games,
and learned new ways of being and were still.
And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless and heartless ways the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses, and made new choices,
and dreamed new images,
and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully,
as they had been healed.

– Written by Kitty O’Meara, inspired perhaps by an Italian poem by Irene Vella (whose immuno-depressed husband has been ill during this period of Coronavirus).

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