Life in the Days of Corona

Or How My Brother Lost His Head

Patricia Grady Cox, April 23, 2020

My brother is not visiting me this week. He should be, but the Corona virus worries have kept him off a 7-hour flight and he remains in Vermont. He would have arrived yesterday evening, so this would have been our first day of vacation.

Dennis

Last night I printed out a life-size image of his face. This morning I hung a shirt that belonged to my father on one of the patio chairs and taped my brother’s face above it. It was realistic enough that my dog Sally growled at it. I tucked a coffee mug in the crook of the sleeve and then made a video. I narrated the day’s plans – plans that would have been lovely. After coffee on the patio and a leisurely breakfast, we’d drive to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, then visit a childhood friend who lives in Apache Junction. We’d all have dinner at a funky restaurant with an outside patio that welcomes dogs.

It was supposed to be funny. But after I sent it, I realized it was kind of sad.

I thought I would sail through this social distancing. I write novels, so being “forced” to stay home meant I’d get lots written on my current work-in-progress, and I would send out a million queries seeking an agent for my third completed novel, The Cabin Door.

This is how many words I’ve written: 0
This is how many queries I’ve sent: 0

I didn’t realize how busy I used to be. I mean, it’s not like I have an actual job. But then I realized that every time I took a shower, the dogs ran to their places, expectantly awaiting the treats they always got when I left the house. But now I don’t leave the house. At least hardly ever.

Here is a photo of the park where I walk my dog. The dappled sunlight is pretty. The yellow caution tape and warning signs from the Department of Health festooning the picnic tables and ramadas . . . not so much.

I used to go weekly to a critique group, to the movies, have lunch every Friday with a friend, meet another friend for coffee or breakfast, take my dog to obedience class. Monthly I went to a book discussion, and often attended a dinner party at a friend’s home. I had been going to a monthly coffee social at the Phoenix Art Museum. Then there would be physical therapy, doctor/dentist appointments, runs to the supermarket anytime I needed (or wanted) anything. And, of course, other visits with friends or occasional classes, etc.

All of a sudden I go . . . nowhere.

I’m used to long stretches of solitude, just me and the dogs. But not this.

Paradise Valley Park

Here is a photo of the park where I walk my dog. The dappled sunlight is pretty. The yellow caution tape and warning signs from the Department of Health festooning the picnic tables and ramadas . . . not so much.

So, after a solid month of “social distancing” I have no announcements, no sales pitches, no anything to share as an author. I’m hoping I’ll be more productive in the coming month! In the meantime, please join me in staying home and staying safe and being healthy. I hope this note finds you all well. I’m well aware what a nightmare this has been for many people – grieving families, essential workers, nurses, doctors, those who have lost jobs, those who are sick. I hope those of you reading this are all dealing with whatever restrictions, losses, or worries you’re suffering (feel free to drop me a note and let me know about that), and I will remember to be grateful that I have a home and a yard and two dogs to keep me company.

And I have my pseudo-brother, although the wind just decapitated him and his paper face is flitting around the patio. I think I’ll go take care of that. Maybe after I tape him back together, he’d like to join me in a second glass of wine.

How are you coping? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment.

Also, please visit my webpage www.patriciagradycox.com  Thank you!

8 comments

  1. BETH S KOZAN · · Reply

    Great column, Trish. I’m ready for this to be over! I want to go back to running out to meet someone for coffee, And hugging a friend, and meeting for coffee and staying for lunch! And going out shopping for groceries!

    Beth KOZAN

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    1. Hi Beth. I know. I fear it will be a long haul for those of us over 60. I’m trying to adjust my thinking to the idea of staying home until there’s a vaccine since I think that’s what it will come to. How wonderful we at least have technology that allows us to look at each other!

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  2. About 6 weeks in, I am actually doing some of the things I thought I would dash off in days. Grief slows you down. Take loving care of yourself.

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    1. Thanks! I, too, find that just recently I’ve seemed to get my act together. I’ve found that breaking tasks down into small chunks helps me get back into the swing of things. Don’t clean the whole kitchen – just the countertops. Don’t polish all the furniture – just the entertainment center. Don’t work on the entire yard – prune one bush. Little by little it gets done. We must all take loving care of ourselves – we’re not even aware of all the stressors that are bombarding us.

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  3. Trishy, love your creative stories. I’m grateful for your sharing these blogs. Please keep them coming.

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    1. Thank you, Tesso. I’ll try my best!

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  4. Thank you for writing my story. The same, except, I had expected a 14 day quarantine starting on Monday, March 14, but after only about a week had gone by, there was an announcement the stay-at-home would last until the end of April. I broke out in nerve hives, at least that’s what I thought was happening on my back. After a few days, I realized the itch on my back was caused by Shingles. Lethargy set in. I couldn’t even read let alone write. As of this past Tuesday, I am recovered. Energy returned full strength.

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    1. Hi – thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I’m glad you are feeling better and the shingles passed. From what I hear, it’s awful! My energy is flowing as well. I think we needed a period of time to adjust to the idea that this is not going to be a quick fix. We need to find way to deal with it. I’m thinking that spending more time in 1981 (the setting for my current novel) would be good, although that was the beginning of another pandemic (AIDS). Maybe I can work that correlation! Well, anyway, thank you for taking the time to comment!

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