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Randi Kreiss

Living through Covid-19, in bits and pieces


I’ve been thinking about wagon trains; I’ll tell you why later. If I remember.

Yeah, a serious side effect of the pandemic is definitely attention deficit disorder. It is increasingly difficult to focus and concentrate. Composing a sentence, which requires a grabby subject followed by a lively predicate, is challenging. Putting together 750 words is work.

So I gave up. This week I will share the fragments that have been ricocheting around my brain.

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My family is now the husband and me, and we seem to have shed all the amenities of civilized life and regressed to our prehistoric roles. Example: He, the hunter-gatherer, risked his life this week to raid the local market in search of baking yeast. My hero. As the tender of the hearth, I decided to bake bread. Apparently, baking bread is an activity that fires all the endorphin receptors at once.

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I had a nightmare that dogs could carry the virus. That scenario would have terrible implications for Lillybee and all beloved pets. Real life is tough enough; why does the imagination offer up even more horrific iterations of the catastrophe?

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How quickly we revert to basic survival mode. My friends and I are bartering: two rubber bands for a spool of thread, matzo ball soup for homemade muffins, hand sanitizer for a printer cartridge.

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After years of railing against the dangers of too much screen time, my eyeballs are basically falling out of my head from looking at screens all day, my phone, my computer and my iPad all vying for my attention.

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My husband has a bra on his face. It’s mine, and it’s nothing weird; we’re just following orders. We saw a website that explained how to make two masks from one bra, so I made the ultimate sacrifice and we now have two “brasks.”

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There’s something about a global pandemic that flushes people out of hiding. I’ve been contacted by two long-lost relatives, one I haven’t seen for 19 years and the other I haven’t seen for 27. They didn’t care if I was dead or alive for decades; now, suddenly, they want to say hello.

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I’ve learned something about myself during this siege. I’ve always been fond of social distancing. I don’t mind time alone, and I don’t need to fill it up with phone calls or constant Zooming get-togethers. I’m composing a book about cooking through Covid-19 called “The Last Supper?” Everyone in the family is required to submit recipes and photos.

I’ll trade you a copy for 5 Ziploc bags.

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Our Seder was a table for two. We didn’t want to miss the fun part, so we hid the matzo (a Passover tradition) from Lillybee. She never found it, although it was hiding in plain sight on the carpet. This proves for all time that matzo is more cardboard than food. Lillybee can sniff out a peanut across the room, but matzo, not so much.

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I stop in my tracks three or four times a day because I can’t believe something I’m reading or seeing in the news. There was the mother whose daughter had just died in her arms after contracting Covid-19 while working in a nursing home. She had no protective gown. There were no masks.

Then there was the doctor, a Kuwaiti refugee, who traveled on his own dime and at his own risk to work alongside the doctors in New York. He looked into the camera and said, “Don’t worry. We’re here. We’ll take care of you.”

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I miss my kids and my grandkids, and I have no plans to see them. All these open-ended questions of contagion and immunity and pressing mortality preclude any planning at all.

Enter the wagon train, last night’s epiphany. Our kids are out West. We won’t fly or drive in the foreseeable future. We aren’t great drivers, so an RV is out of the question. The obvious solution is to buy a wagon and a horse and rumble across the country in a convoy with other like-minded travelers. It could be OK. We could social distance.

The only problem I can foresee is hitting the Rockies just as winter sets in. Come November we could get stuck in Donner Pass, and we all know how that ends.

Copyright 2020 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at randik3@aol.com.