This is part 1 in a series of journals I began keeping in March of 2020, when all this stuff began. It has been interesting to revisit.
March 31, 2020
I hadn’t planned on writing about all this beyond my social media posts and conversations with friends and family, of course with social distancing in place. I really hadn’t, mostly because I don’t presume that my perspective on any of these events will be particularly noteworthy or of interest to anyone.
That said, I am a huge genealogy and family history wonk. I love the stuff. I’ve spent countless hours working on my family tree, and know for a fact, as a result of said obsession (since I was nine) that it is a bit of a family birthright. The men in my family, for at least the last five generations have been wildly obsessed with the same thing: connecting all the dots and finding out who we are as a family and where we all came from.
Trust me, it’s not just me. I’ve renewed my Ancestry membership now that we are stuck at home. My son is quite interested.
That said, and while I love the data, what I miss oftentimes are the stories. I miss the narratives about what life was like. I have some old letters and they shed some light on a few very limited areas, and I have some stories about my ancestors but not nearly enough for my taste. As a writer, I suppose it’s an occupational hazard: I can’t walk away from a story.
For example, I know for a fact that I had family, quite a large contingent of them living in Philadelphia during the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918. I know they were there. I know where they lived. I know who they lived with. But I don’t know who they were and how they faced that crisis, so similar to the one that we are facing now. I don’t know what they were thinking about, scared of, excited by, or anything else. While the evidence suggests none of my ancestors in Philadelphia perished from the Flu Pandemic, I don’t know their stories. For the most part, that part of my history is, like that of many of us, lost to the winds of change and time.
But, apparently, I’m some sort of writer. So, there’s really no reason that I can’t keep some record of what this is all like. This Covid-19 pandemic is likely to be among the most significant events in my children’s lives. At least I hope it is. I’d hate to think about this sort of thing happening every other year for the rest of our lives.
This is going to be a time that everyone remembers. How my children recall it in their advanced years is, of course, something I can’t predict, any more than I can predict how they’ll grow up at all. But I can write about how things are at the moment.
How we all are at the moment.
Who we are in this unique time and place.
Maybe it’ll only matter to my great-great grandson, Robert Allen Kugler the VI, but if that’s even as far as any of these words matter, they’ll have been worth something.
If nothing else, it’s another way for me to put myself on assignment. So, let’s get into it, shall we?
I’m writing today on March 31, 2020. We’ve been on “stay at home” directives since about March 15. The governor of Virginia made it a formal order today, and we are supposed to follow that order until at least June 10.
We’ve all been doing our part to stay at home and keep the virus from spreading, but it’s not the ideal for any of us.
Before this all really started, we had a few family friends over to the house for a small St. Pat’s dinner. None of us hugged or shook hands. Even then we were beginning to socially distance. It was nice and in retrospect, kind of a last hurrah to seeing people other than those who live in our homes.
School was cancelled for the rest of the year not long after, which was a real bummer for all the kids. Boyo and J-Bird and the Bear all connect with their school experience in different ways and for different reasons. Boyo has really taken to the high school track team, earning a varsity letter in the high jump and making it all the way to regionals in winter track. He was excited about the chance to compete in spring, but that’s all cancelled. J-Bird has clubs that she loves and friends she is now missing daily interaction with. Both twins are missing the regular input on their advanced academics. J-Bird, I think is not missing the stress of a few of her classes, like Algebra 2, but the structure for them is a loss.
The Bear is less of a big fan of the “middle school experience,” but has really struggled with the lack of social interaction and the missing of her friends. Like me, she’s an extrovert and has really struggled with having to stay home. Facetime and phone calls help, but there was a recent stretch where, for some reason, she became obsessed with the idea of raising a pair of ducks in both the backyard and her bedroom. I think we’ve moved past that all, but I’m not holding my breath that we’ve heard the last of the quest for ducks. I enlisted my sister last night in an effort to help us move forward, and she was helpful.
The Wife is exclusively working from home now. We moved my old desk from Boyo’s room into the downstairs office space, which I spent last weekend reorganizing and cleaning up so that we could both work here. Whether we can truly share the space is to be determined as I think we are both noisier in our own way than we would like. She’s the breadwinner, so her work is vital.
After eight years, I’ve been furloughed from what I’ve affectionately called my “side hustle,” at Mount Vernon. It’s only two shifts a week, or it was anyway, but it really made a difference in my life and is honestly the job that keeps me sane. I liked making drinks and I miss the people. I had regulars and have been there over eight years. I love Mount Vernon and I’m still dealing with the loss of that place in my life. I wonder if it will ever be the same again. It’s hard to envision what the next normal will be for any of us, but in my heart, I think a place like Mount Vernon, which has existed for hundreds of years will probably find a way to help us all return to some semblance of normal, after all this.
What I wouldn’t give right now for someone to ask me to make a Mojito.
And I hate that drink.
So, we’ve been home. I’ve gone grocery shopping exactly twice so far. Boyo’s Tae Kwon Do studio is doing online classes now and J-Bird’s rock-climbing gym is doing online workouts. Bear’s horse barn is closed up now too and regrettably, there isn’t really a way to do that online. I think I’m going to have to help her get some exercise. Maybe she can lift weights with me tomorrow. I’ve been doing that more, since I have my dad’s fifty-year-old weight set. Maybe I’ll let them try my bike on the indoor trainer.
We’ve taken my 1970 Plymouth Duster out for a few rides to help keep the engine running, even doing a forty-minute Facebook live stream the other day that was fun, but I think those activities are kind of no longer allowed. I’ll keep doing the grocery run and med runs, once a week or maybe we’ll drop to bi-weekly, but I just don’t know.
I started doing “Dad School” with the kids today. Our county is not yet ready for distance learning and they won’t be grading the kids work for the rest of the year anyway. They’ve all had over two weeks where we, since we didn’t know where this was all going, kind of just let them do their own thing. They’ve had all that time to sleep until noon, eat and do whatever they want.
That stopped today.
I got them up at ten this morning, which I thought was still pretty fair, and we did some work. I had them check all their google classrooms and everything else from their teachers and we tried to figure out where they were in their classes. Then, I gave them work; some of it based on what the teachers sent and others I came up with myself. It’ll be two weeks until the school district says they’ll be ready for teachers to start doing online classes and stuff, but I’m getting them ready.
And boy, were they mad at me about it! Somehow, we muddled through and I only had to almost suspend one student. Is that Masters of Education and Principal’s certificate finally paying off? Maybe. Maybe not, but eventually, they seemed to settle into the routine. I only asked them to do about three hours and I fed them, so I think we’re setting up a system that can work. It reminds me of when J-Bird was home following her surgery a few years ago and she used the robot to go to some classes virtually: I didn’t so much care if she got every bit of information, but it was so much more vital that she have something to wake up for and be accountable for. As I think about it now, I wonder if that’s why she sometimes seems a bit more relaxed about all this. She’s done it before.
Maggie the Labrador seems equal parts excited that everyone is home and confused that everyone is home. So, she’s right in her wheelhouse. She’s getting more walks.
Learning today that we are in this form of lockdown for another 60+ days was a gut punch for me today. I don’t mind doing my part and I’ve preached that to the children. We talked a few days ago about Gandalf and Frodo’s exchange in Return of the King.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
It might be time to make the kids watch all those movies. Boyo’s seen them and loves them, but the girls haven’t really. Maybe that’s my own feelings coming up but I think watching Gandalf and some Hobbits fight off the destruction of the world might really be helpful right now. We watched Dunkirk recently and I feel like that added some needed perspective.
So, the short answer is that we are managing, but we are just at the beginning of all this. A friend of mine has already had someone in his life die of this. Heidi’s former Bishop’s wife has died of it. I am not certain that our friend from church didn’t die of this a month ago. And now they are saying that 100,000-200,000 people could die in the USA alone? I’m not great at math in general, but percentages I’m spot on with.
I’m not going to get into the politics of this all right now. It’s exhausting. I hope for the best, regardless.
I’ve read a lot of post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels over the years. It’s a genre that’s fascinated me in large part because it scares me. I’ve read them all: The Passage series, The Road, World War Z, The Ship, the Wool series, Station Eleven, California, all the Hunger Games books, and loads more. I read them because they scared me, and in many ways, that was the fun.
It’s less fun now, although I’m oddly tempted to reread a few of them. Heck, I have a crazy idea about writing one of them myself, based at Mount Vernon. Might be time to storyboard that one.
So, this is largely where we are. I’ll add to this as the story progresses but right now, we are sheltering in place; we are doing our bit to stop the spread; we are grateful for all we have.
We are also occasionally driving one another crazy, but as I reminded the kids earlier today, we do have a hammock in the yard. And a deck. And each other.
We’re all going to be stretched thin by this thing, but we have each other. All the time. That’s a big adjustment in our small house with so many big personalities.
But we will manage.
It’s what we do.
It’s what we’ve always done.
And we will keep doing it tomorrow.
This page contains affiliate links & cookies