Writing in the time of COVID-19: Day Thirty-Two

The morning started overcast when I opened the drapes to greet Kalalea, the mountain across the street.

I’ve been thinking about a question my friend Lynette asked on her blog the other day. “Tell us how self-isolation has affected you,” she wrote. It’s a question I get asked over and over—from friends, from my Dad, colleagues. It’s the question we’re all asking each other.

For me, working from home has freed up one-half hour at the beginning and end of my day, because I’m not behind a wheel driving to and from work. That also means I’m not listening to as many audiobooks and podcasts as I’d like.

Because I’m driving less, I’m using less gas. The last time I put gas in my car was in the early days of these “Writing in the time of COVID-19” posts, close to a month ago. My Toyota Prius gets 61.5 miles per gallon, so I still have three-quarters of a tank of gas left. With the plunging cost of gas the pump, I’m tempted to top it off.

View from sofa
View from the sofa. Straight out of the camera.

I tend to start my work day upstairs on the sofa with a laptop caddy for a desk and a big view of the mountain across the street. Lulu sleeps next to me—until the sun emerges. Then, she rouses her 12-year-old body from sleep, walks to the screen door, and looks back at me. I know what she wants and get up to open the door, so she can go do her sun-baking thing.

With the extra thirty minutes in the morning, I sit with a cuppa tea and read a poem, sometimes in my pajamas, sometimes not. I’m still making my way through Jane Hirshfield’s new collection, Ledger. These stanzas speak to me today.

A Venus flytrap can count to five.
Crows and bees recognize faces.
Mice suffer when seeing a mouse known to them suffer.
Trees warn one other to alter their sap as beetles draw near.

Our one remaining human distinction:
A pre-Copernician pride in our human distinction.

Thirty minutes later, Lulu’s back at the door, wanting back in. She cools off on the hardwood floor at my feet.

If it’s a particularly sunny day, unlike today, it starts to get warm in the living room in the early afternoon, so I move downstairs to my office to finish out my work day. A change of scenery is good.

With the extra thirty minutes in the evening, I walk with Eric and Lulu. It gives us a perfect time to debrief each other on our days. We get to see and experience more things together. We get to spend (more) time with Lulu.

A long long time ago in a job far far away, I remember wishing for an additional hour in the day, an additional day in the week, additional week in the month, and additional month in the year. Well, I’ve got it now. Or, at least, an hour a day. But those hours add up. It’s amazing what an extra hour in your day can offer.

Because I’m spending so much time off the roads, off the beach, and at home, I really haven’t gotten a feel for what the island is like without the tens of thousands of visitors on our roads, beaches, and hiking trails. When I have ventured into town to grocery shop every couple weeks, I do see shops shuttered and parking lots empty, but it’s not a ghost town. There are still cars on the roads, some that slow me down. It feels more like I’m up super early before the rush. So, I’m not experiencing the reality of the situation.

Really, this change has not been an extreme hardship for me. I realize how privileged we are, and I feel a little guilty. It’s a pandemic, after all, and 2,804 American died today. Two more people died in Hawaii. I should be suffering more. The hardship should be, well, harder. Shouldn’t I be sacrificing something? I want to do something to help. Then, I tell myself I can help by staying home. Still, it doesn’t feel like enough. Maybe you have ideas on what I can do that’s helpful. While you’re at it, tell us how self-isolation has affected you.

Two new cases bumped Hawaii’s total to 586 today. With the loss of two, our death tally is now 12. We’re still at 21 cases on Kauai.

Be well.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Anne C. says:

    This quarantine makes me feel privileged: my husband has been able to teach from home (he works for the DOD), and I always work from home anyway, though at the moment I don’t have any work in, by choice. I am really *very* privileged. And I need to remember that. There are people suffering from the virus, from the orders that are intended to keep us all safe. And yet when I see that Georgia, for example, is saying that hairdressers and barbers (again, for example) can go back to work–those are NOT white-collar professionals (who, btw, haven’t been given such instruction), and by saying they “can” go back to work, I assume that means they “can’t” ask for unemployment benefits? What a country we live in. Sorry. Rant over. (Wait. *Was* that a rant? 😉 I’m pretty sure it needs editing for syntax, whatever it was. P.S. I loved the Hirshfield lines. Thank you!


    1. Kim Steutermann Rogers says:

      For you, a rant, yes, and perfectly fine, syntax and all. I’m really connecting with Hirshfield’s new collection. I wonder if it’s because the poem’s have so recently been written? I don’t know. Whatever the reason, I am identifying with them. Be well.


  2. So many people are helping and caring for one another. It’s inspiring. I think our help to neighbors, friends, family (and aren’t we all family now) will become ever more important as this goes on and people begin to suffer compassion fatigue. We check in with everyone but it will become ever more important. Our lockdown looks to be until May 30 now. I think the best thing we can do is keep checking in and be ready to help.


    1. Kim Steutermann Rogers says:

      Yes, you just reminded me how important it is to reach out to others. I just sent a long video of courting albatross to my dear friend and fellow volunteer at Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge who is in one of the very high risk categories. Mahalo nui loa!


  3. Pam says:

    Now that we have permission to wander I don’t want to. It’s weird to be so happily shuttered in. I remember my mom liked to say, “alone in your head is a bad neighborhood,” and I agreed. But no more. Alone in my head is now my favorite neighborhood.

    Love these musings Kimmy.


    1. Kim Steutermann Rogers says:

      I completely agree, Pammy. In fact, I just wrote about it today. We have a mind-meld thing going on!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s