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Written on Monday for Wednesday’s Awakening Joy workshop:

We live in “the hard knuckle of the year.”  Those words from Crooker’s poem spelled themselves out in neon when I opened this file and I’ve carried them, close to my chest all week.  

Day 47 in this house, alone with increasing challenges, on another dreary, wet, cold day. Fully conscious of my privilege, I gingerly step round pits of self-pity and despair. I hold on tight, white knuckles on the safety bar of this roller coaster.  Disneyland’s Space Mountain, a dark roller coaster, feeling faster than fast and terrifying because no one sees what comes next.  In these Space Mountain days I search for gratitude.  I find an hour of sun on the otherwise gray day; a zoom call with creatives in captivity; still fresh greens for a salad and reading James’ words to get ready for this workshop.  That has to be enough. Dayenu.

Noticing for Thursday:

It is another feral day. No planned work. Julia doesn’t want me involved with work. She has talked to her therapist twice this week and was willing to zoom into school yesterday.  But she does no work.  She has a day of 20-minute classes today.  Last night, in an effort to help I updated the schedule that I created for her weeks ago with the correct zoom links for the day.  She does not want my reminders or help. I continue to let her drift, using very few words and staying out of her way and sight as much as possible.

Muta, the cat, walks with us on our walks around the neighborhood.  He wanders like a dog, sniffing, investigating, pausing at favorite spots, not at our heels or by our sides but keeping one eye on us.  Sometime we turn a corner and he does not notice.  I call to him. He comes bounding towards us and then resumes his own form of social distancing. I’ve caught people staring and pointing.  

Clothing minutia.  My everyday has always been very casual.  I reserve nice clothes for the outside world.  “Nice” is anything from a hole-less sweater to jeans that fit.  I wore sloppy jeans and sweatshirts for the first two weeks of quarantine.  Then, I wanted comfort and softness. I donned my cashmere sweaters and best jeans. I noticed that wearing my UGG slippers everyday will certainly shorten their lives.  Have I worn them a year’s worth in the past 47 days?  Sometimes, I look down at my feet and have been surprised to see slippers, not shoes. 

Hair:  It must take 47 days of quarantine to write anything about my hair.  I’ve never, ever considered it before.  During most of life, I have had long or longish hair, and have thought little about it.  It was fine.  I never really liked my hair but I didn’t dislike it enough to make many changes.  I went through a henna and curl phase in my early 30’s, and of course, I was subjected to biannual permanent torture when I was a kid with no apparent scars.  A few years ago, I cut it . . . No, I had it cut very short.  That old lady crew cut.  I’ve kept it that way, visiting a salon every 5-7 weeks to get a trim.  My first cut in Newton (Perhaps I did write about that, but I’m not going to check) was awful.  Bad hair days from a day after the cut until it grew long enough to have someone, almost anyone, else begin again.  The second place I found was great.  Good cuts, nice stylist and not too hard to get appointments.  I was scheduled for an appointment just before quarantine.   The day became too crowded on my schedule and a few days before the appointment I rescheduled for the first available date—a week after quarantine.  And so, it grows. The cut was good enough, actually excellent enough, to have grown out relatively painlessly.  But now, it looks flatter by the day and the sides by the ears are sticking straight out without some goop on them.  I wish it looked better but I am no where near the point of picking up the scissors myself.  During zoom calls, I find myself staring at hair, wondering how many folks are looking relatively the same.  Some pretty good. This is with some exceptions of course.  What is vanity during a pandemic? 

Hugs.  I am grateful for virtual hugs.  But they are not hugs.  I miss hugs. I wonder if widowhood and last year’s moving trained me for this time.  A time of hug prohibition.  I remember missing hugs in the first months of post-death life. I filled the hole of huglessness, somewhat at least, with hugs from friends.  I stopped being shy asking for or initiating hugs from almost anyone who was just a shade past stranger. Before I left Madison last summer, I savored hugs.  I was aware of what I would miss.  There have been many less hugs since the summer. I have mindfully hugged anytime I was so blessed.  Now, there are none. Can people really live with hugs? Without physical touch? What about those who live in cloistered communities? Do they hug? Touch? Years ago, I decided that I was not meant to live without a partner.  That hypothesis proved wrong.  Now, the hypothesis is about hugs, touching. I cannot believe that . . . but I guess that may be proved wrong as well.

The feral day continues.