This and that as we soldier on

I want to believe that the people who are clamoring for a reopening are not all antigovernment right-wingers, despite the protest signs. Some must be among the one in six American workers who have filed for unemployment during the pandemic.

The majority of people who have lost their jobs and still told KFF pollsters that sheltering in place has been worth it are inspiring. It’s one thing for retirees like me to say carry on. My retirement income hasn’t changed. Seniors are afraid of the coronavirus; younger people also fear for their livelihood.



Solitude is not new for people like me who live alone, but having nothing to get me out every day is. I structured my retirement around an outing a day.

I felt restless until I started putting structure into the day — not with a schedule but a to-do list.

Because it feels good to check off items, I put down things I would do anyway, like read the newspaper and call my mother. I may not be accomplishing any more than I would have without a list, but those checkmarks give me a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

The lists contain only things that I want to do. I am not pressuring myself to tackle anything for which motivation is weak.

My home isn’t spotless, every closet isn’t purged, and I haven’t tried new recipes. But I have managed to go on as before, cooking a simple, nutritious dinner most days and keeping the place reasonably clean. That’s good enough. This is not the time for comparisons or judging ourselves on productivity.

Since we’re in seclusion, it’s a good time for a retreat of sorts, some people comment. Yet I’ve been less introspective than in the past.

For me, self-examination is mostly triggered by discontent. Because I was fairly content before COVID-19 hit, I want life as it was, not a big change.



During a February purge of my condo a fitness stepper and two large tote bags of novels, among many other things, went out the door.

Why keep a stepper, I figured, since there’s the building’s fitness room for a rainy day. The fitness room is now closed. On rainy days I skip exercise.

Novels are my favorite reading matter, and I hadn’t read all of those donated, but the Harold Washington Library is less than a mile away. The books I kept were mostly nonfiction that I might want to consult now and then.

The library is closed now and I’m craving novels to read. The generous thing would be to order them from independent bookstores that could go under, but I don’t want to own books I’ll read only once. I also don’t want to read fiction online; I spend enough time looking at a screen. So, I’ve been opening more nonfiction, dipping in to topics instead of reading cover to cover, and it’s been enjoyable.

Luckily, I saved some collections of short stories for when there is time for only a quick read. They’ve been my reading at bedtime, when only fiction will do for me.



As isolation goes on I feel less antsy. I must have gotten used to it. Last Monday I was reminded of what’s missing. My neighbors invited me to take a walk on a beautiful morning. Social distancing didn’t hamper conversation. Then a friend and I played Lexulous, an online version of Scrabble. Later I went to the Thompson Center to donate platelets at Vitalent (the former LifeSource) blood bank and enjoyed chatting with friendly staff members.

The boost I felt on an unusually busy day resulted from more than having things to do. Those activities provided companionship, fun, and a chance to do good — human needs that have been neglected during the pandemic.



“Under the leadership of Donald Trump, our country is weaker and sicker and poorer. . . . If we have another four years like this, will there even be an America?”

— advertisement of The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group of Republicans


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  • Very well reasoned, Marianne -- an accomplishment in these days. Thank you for pointing out the the various pains of the time so well. So much "seemed like a good idea at the time."

  • Thanks, Margaret. I still think offering up the editing books was a good idea.

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