Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," looking back on a year of living minimally! I'm the inmate, Anne Johnson, number 031159. Today, on this anniversary of the first lockdowns, I will look back briefly on what my year has been like.
New Jersey locked up on March 15, I think. At least I know that Friday, March 13, 2020 was my last day with students in my classroom.
The quarantine was supposed to stop the spread of Covid-19, so we all thought it would last two weeks, at which time we would all reconvene at school. I gave my students paper assignments. Imagine that!
But between March 13 and March 30, all Hell broke loose in this country, and the Hellhounds have not even been collared even now.
I live with an obese senior citizen with breathing problems. This was terrifying from the get-go. Mr. J had already been hospitalized with pneumonia in the final days of December, 2019. In hindsight this was probably good, because he took the virus very seriously and was happy to comply with the quarantines and mask mandates.
In those first weeks I only ventured from home every 14 days to buy food. I spent $500 at the grocery store more than once, and used two carts more than once. And nothing went to waste. We were preparing and eating three meals a day, seven days a week. And lots of home-baked cookies (when I could get ingredients), because what else was there to do but bake cookies?
So in the spring I sat in online classrooms, fruitlessly waiting for students to turn in assignments. I cooked. I stayed home, home, home. I did not see my daughters, except to briefly drop off lilacs to The Fair on her birthday.
In May The Fair came with her cat and stayed with us 8 weeks. Tensions had gone through the roof in her rental. It was great having her around, and healthier for her to be out of the city. She worked from our house. Her cat is adorable.
In July The Heir came for a long weekend and wound up staying 10 days. During both daughter visits we observed social distancing and masks until a week passed without any symptoms. During the time The Heir spent with us, she purchased the most wonderful car, her first. It's a low mileage 1994 Ford Escort station wagon, refreshingly free of the bewildering computerization found in today's machines.
At the end of August I had the Monkey Man over for a porch supper. He was the last visitor of 2020.
When fall came I returned to school but taught my students online. I have not gazed upon my students' faces even now. Going back to the building meant that I could no longer see my daughters. The fall was long and dreary, and I increasingly felt unsafe at school. When I saw a security guard who I knew to be a Trump supporter wearing his mask wrong right outside my classroom, I got a doctor's note and stayed home.
Thanksgiving, it was just Mr. J and me. The family Christmas celebration consisted of the four of us gathering on The Heir's front porch for a short chat and gift exchange. No Mummer's Parade on New Year's Day.
When the cases started spiking after the holidays, Mr. J and I went into strict lockdown again. More big hauls of groceries, more days spent completely indoors. Working at home, staying home, watching the Capitol attack on t.v. and the briefings from Governor Murphy on Facebook.
It is now March, and we have been in our bubble since December. Shortly I will be returning to the classroom with live students again, but many kids are being kept home by wary parents. I don't blame the parents. My students don't even qualify for the vaccine. They are too young.
Mr. J and I got our first shots on February 24.
2020 was a year where I felt that I wasn't me anymore. My exuberance has faded. I look older. I feel like the social parts of my brain have atrophied. Literally, I feel more stupid than I did when this started. I've gained 10 pounds from cookies and being lazy. No festivals, no parades, no drum circles, no Pagan gatherings, no flowers on my grandmother's grave, no travel. Anywhere.
I have become so concerned about my atrophying brain that I did two things to boost it: I took two courses offered by John Beckett that were very helpful. And then, in desperation, I turned to the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle, where egos go to die.
If you do something enough, you get good at it.
I hadn't done a cross stitch project in 30 years. I did a whole jacket and a fine display on another. I finished a huge baby quilt.
If you were to ask me what my finest accomplishment was in the whole year of 2020, I might say two things:
*getting a license and registration for The Heir's car -- in New Jersey, in a pandemic, with the notorious DMV.
I did this without a chart, only using a photo. I was able to track the artist down and compensate her, which was awesome.
President Biden (long may he reign) says we should all be able to get together with close family and friends by the Fourth of July. So Mr. J and I just plunked down our stimulus on a rental along the Chesapeake Bay for that whole week. Crabs will be consumed. Mosquitoes will be swatted.
Here's to 2021! I can hope for a parade.