April update: #quarantinelife

I had all the words for a perfect blog post in my mind on my run this morning and now they’ve disappeared. (Maybe they’re floating around in the ether at least six feet away from my laptop?)

Right now I’m grateful to be at home with my family, that we are all healthy, and that we have plenty of food, including several five-pound tubs of lard that Dan bought in January, along with lots of canned tuna and canned pears (but alas, no toilet paper)  “just in case”. When I asked him specifically what we might do with the lard, he replied, “We could make fritters.”

Right now I’m also feeling a little suffocated, frustrated with trying to figure out two kids’ online school schedules and platforms, and struggling to figure out how to work while watching my kids without letting the iPad be the babysitter. But I’m also so grateful that these are the problems I’m facing. I know it’s so much worse right now for so many people. As a wise woman (aka my therapist) recently told me (over a Zoom call, of course), this is a time of opposites for many of us.

And pandemic or not, I’m still doing many of the normal things—reading, writing, working out—and blogging about it as usual…

New Stories We Tell
edited by by Kaylen Ralph and Joanna Demkiewicz
A wonderful collection of stories by female investigative journalists including a brief statement by each writer on what drew her to the profession and what her process is like. I enjoyed the writer statements almost as much as the stories. (And apparently this is the third in a series. I’m very excited about the other two!)

Such a Fun Age
By Kiley Reid
I know it’s only April but this is going to be one of my best reads of the year. I devoured in two or three days, including one night staying up waaay too late. It’s a fast, light, juicy read imbued with some heavy themes: race, class, power, and friendship to name a few. It explores the question of what it really means to have a voice and the extent to which powerful individuals can (unwittingly or not) shape the narratives that affect our lives, both on a cultural and individual level.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo 
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
An engaging, fun read. I was more surprised than I thought I’d be by the ending.

White Fragility 
by Robin DiAngelo
Not exactly a fun read but an important one. It definitely made me rethink my relationship to white supremacy and racism.

I’ve been running a couple times a week which feels even better than usual. I’d run more but I’ve been so injury-prone, I’m afraid that if I up my mileage I’ll get injured again… And without being able to go to physical therapy to get fixed up it’s just not worth it right now.

I am also loving the Peloton strength workouts (we have lots of dumbbells in our basement) and the Peloton bike workouts. I don’t have a Peloton bike but I have my triathlon bike on a trainer and doing a Peloton class is so much more fun and engaging than making up my own workout and watching an episode of Fleabag or The Handmaid’s Tale. Right now they’re offering a 3-month free trial. After that, I believe it’s 12.99/month if you don’t have the Peloton bike or treadmill.

I haven’t been riding my bike outside because it would be almost impossible to maintain a six-foot distance between myself and other cyclists and runners in some places, plus I’m even more paranoid than usual about crashing. I’m just not interested in increasing my chances of needing to visit the hospital right now.

Your Gym Might Be Closed. But Coronavirus Doesn’t Have to Keep You From Your Workout (The Washington Post)
Even if you don’t run or have any equipment, you can stay fit at home… All you need is  a WiFi connection. There are so many quality resources available.

I didn’t mention this in my article, but the point isn’t necessarily to keep from gaining the “Covid-19”. The point is to maintain your routine,  elevate your mood, cope with stress, and do something nice for yourself at a time when you really need it. I know I don’t need to tell you this (although I admit I am telling myself this every day) but it’s okay if you gain weight while you’re quarantining. It’s okay if you gain weight, period. Body image has so much to do with your mindset and so little to do with how you actually look. 

After Rebounding From a Near-Fatal Car Crash, Vicki Hunter Runs with an Open Mind (Runner’s World)
I knew Vicki from the gym and I knew a little bit about her story but I didn’t consider interviewing her until I interviewed another local woman for a story and she said, “Do you know Vicki? She’d be a great person to interview!” By then, I’d quit my membership at the gym but I had the good fortune of running into Vicki at the pool and I felt it was a sign from the universe that I needed to interview her, so I asked for her number. That was in August. I pitched this story in January, thinking it would be pegged to the Boston Marathon (which Vicki had planned to run). I’m glad Runner’s World published it despite Boston being postponed.

Home Workouts May Speed Your Recovery From ACDF Surgery (Spine Universe)
My editor asked me to incorporate my occupational therapy experience into this article and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I actually remembered, despite not having seen a post-op neck patient in nearly six years.

I’ve been going for at least one walk per day since we were asked to stay home and I love listening to a podcast or an audiobook while I walk. Sometimes I leave one earbud out so I can hear the birds, too.

The Dream (season 2)
A series that explores the cult of wellness. I found the producer, Jane, a lot more endearing this season. I devoured this and now I’m looking for another investigative journalism-type podcast to devour. Actively seeking non-murder-y suggestions. (Normally I’m all for true crime but right now I just can’t.)

Becoming by Michelle Obama
I’m listening to this on Libro.fm because I literally waited a year for the audio book at my library and I just couldn’t wait anymore. Libro.fm is awesome because you get to designate which local bookstore you want to support with your monthly subscription fee.  I love, love, love the sound of Michelle Obama’s voice. I’m not done yet but I’m halfway through and it’s SO GOOD. I might have teared up a few times when she talks about Barak Obama’s vision for our country. I bet he never envisioned this.

Sanity-savers (special COVID-19 section!)
*Getting up early

Getting up before my kids for a cup of coffee, time to do my morning pages, and ideally, a workout makes me feel super energized. If I don’t at least do part of my morning routine, I feel kind of lethargic all day. Now that we are all home together constantly, this is even more important than ever.

I’m working on a project (more on this soon!) and that is really energizing. I have had a lot of editors ignoring/rejecting my pitches lately and I totally get it—they are inundated with coronavirus-related pitches, they may have limited budgets right now, and limited time, if, like me, they are working from home while trying to raise kids. I realize these things are out of my control. So I especially love working on something that’s totally in my control.

*Tarot cards
Not exactly a sanity saver, but they add a little whimsy, fun, and self-reflection to my day. In the absence of small pleasures like an espresso drink, a long swim, a dip in the hot tub, dressing up,  wearing red lipstick, and getting my eyebrows threaded (okay I’m not sure if that one is pleasure or pain), reading my tarot cards is a bright spot in my day. I’m learning how with an e-course from Susannah Conway.

I’ve never been one to walk unless I have somewhere to go but now I’m really enjoying walking for walking’s sake or while chatting on the phone or listening to a podcast or an audiobook. And while I’m not trying to see anyone, I love running into my neighbors and talking to them (from six feet away).


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