riding the COVID-coaster*
we are all — all of us, red states, blue states, striped states, star-dappled states — strapped into this unplotted, unprecedented, unpredictable pandemic roller-coaster ride (*aka “COVIDcoaster,” a term introduced to me by my brilliant friend amy). the season of COVID, long past its toleration date, is gearing up for a wallop. or so it seems as summer cranks up the heat, and what’s ahead grows hazier.
we seem to be lurching upward and off-the-charts at breakneck speed, as if some giant-sized foot is pressing the proverbial pedal to the floorboard.
at this old house, the summer feels a bit like a COVID chess game. us v. the invisible virus that takes our smell and taste away. i need to put on speed dial a beloved ER doc friend of mine, the one who answers every inane puzzle and quandary i conjure. (and, believe me, i conjure.)
just this week, boy No. 2 found out his best friend’s sister — and another dear friend’s cousin — had tested positive — fever + sore throat, the sweet girl’s symptoms. of course, boy 2 had been out hitting golf balls the two previous nights in a row with her brother. and, to double the trouble, one of those nights he’d taken a long sidewalk-straddling walk (without masks), with the COVID girl’s cousin, who’d just gotten back from a week of sharing a summer cottage — and a bedroom — with the newly diagnosed one.
from the minute boy 2 got the news — at the end of a hot sauna of a day mowing grass and chopping trees for the park district — he had his KN95 mask strapped on so tight it musta made it hard to breathe. he insisted on eating his dinner on the far side of the kitchen, a good 12 feet from the rest of us. and he holed up in his room as if protecting me from nuclear fallout. just now, as he loped out the door for another day of tree-chopping, he triumphantly announced his test (taken yesterday afternoon at one of those one-day testing sites) just came back negative, as did his best friend’s and the cousin’s. halle-holy-lujah! i’m thinking it was a close-enough call to maybe add an extra 20 seconds of hand washing to the regime from here on in, though the perceived invincibility of teens prompts me to hedge that bet.
then there’s boy 1: the one who is here, asleep under this very roof, spending his days studying for the bar exam and waiting to move to portland, oregon, where a federal clerkship awaits. you might think — with five scheduled cross-country flights and two separate moving crews, a new job, new apartment, and that bar exam — that we set out to plot the most complicated itinerary imaginable in the age of COVID (though we assure you we did not). as it stands now he is due to fly back to new haven on monday, where the first of the two moving crews will crate every last fork, spoon, and tome in his law school apartment, and ship it all oregon way. the plan had been to come back here for the duration, till it was time to meet the movers in portland, but with the COVID charts skyrocketing in the exact wrong direction, we ditched plan B. and have moved on to plan C in which the poor kid will wait it out for 10 days in a stark empty apartment (save for the old lumpy mattress he is not moving), fly new york to portland, meet the movers, and then — drum roll here for the most mind-bending part of the plot — fly four-and-a-half hours back to chicago to take the bar exam, which in itself is a legal petri dish of COVID waiting to engulf the entire law school class of 2020. the geniuses who plot bar exams are currently planning to stuff 2,000 illinois test takers into a ballroom for two long days at the start of september. some of those test takers, like our very own, will be fresh off airplanes, having flown into chicago for the exam. others, waiting to take the exam before they can start drawing a paycheck, might well be inclined to go ahead and take the test even if, say, they can’t smell a thing, feel a wee bit hotter than usual, and might have started sniffling or coughing. how this is allowed to happen is beyond me, but then it’s the COVIDcoaster, and we are all whipping around the course, bracing ourselves through all its undulations.
so i do what i do best: i worry the night away. i pony up for the higher-cost health insurance, haunted by visions of the kid sick as a dog and turned away from the best hospitals in town if he doesn’t flash the right insurance card. we canceled the plane ticket on the airline that no longer keeps the promise to not fill every seat on the plane, and grabbed a new one for an even-longer ride on a plane that promises a few inches more breathing room. and we are leaving the kid to sleep in an empty apartment for 10 days — all because we’re haunted by the very real fears that COVID is a fire-breathing, smell-stealing dragon that’ll come up and nab you from behind.
meanwhile, we watch germany and south korea mostly trot back to work, no longer so encumbered by this awful terrible invisible virus.
by the hour, awful terrible numbers are flashing before our eyes — cases climbing, death rates certain to follow.
and those of us who swear allegiance to masks and 75-percent isopropyl alcohol hand sanitizer, we begin to wonder when, oh when, will it end? and who of the ones we love will be caught in its vice — snuffed out, or left with lingering scarring for who knows how long?
it’s enough to wear you down, and wring you like a soggy rag. we’re weary of all the lysol-wiping of every last milk carton. and navigating the variations of rule-following among those we love is no summer picnic. (i’m among the self-avowed scaredy cats who takes tony fauci at his every last word; if he tells me to mask up and not share even a fruit bowl among friends, i’m wearing two masks and lysol bleaching like nobody’s business.)
it all makes for strange times. surreal times, really. but, thank God, we are — so far — living to tell about it.
and in the meantime, i’m baking.
here’s the latest summer joy from the cookie jar, and they couldn’t be easier. four ingredients, stir, scoop, press flat, await the slightest gilding of the coconut edges. then watch ’em fly.
almond joy cookies
these wicked little coconut cushions, studded with semi-sweet chocolate and bits of sliced almond, are what happens when your favorite grocery store peddles a similar confection at $5.99 for five of ’em. because those pricey little mounds are practically inhaled in this old house, i was determined to make ’em myself. a bit of prowling around the internet, my cookbook without end, led me to these, courtesy of some lovely someone named trish on momontimeout.com
she writes: “These easy Almond Joy Cookies take just four ingredients and don’t even require a mixer! No beating, no chilling, just mix ’em up and throw ’em in the oven EASY! You’re going to love these ooey gooey fabulous cookies!”
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 12 mins
- 1 14-oz bag sweetened coconut flakes
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2/3 cup chopped lightly salted almonds (trish used Blue Diamond Low Sodium Lightly Salted – light blue bag, but i couldn’t find, so i used sliced almonds and added 1 teaspoon salt)
- 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk regular or fat-free works
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl combine coconut, chocolate chips, almonds, and sweetened condensed milk.
- Stir until combined.
- Scoop out dough with a cookie scoop onto prepared baking sheet.
- Moisten the tips of your fingers with water and shape into discs. Pat the tops flat.
- Bake cookies for 12 to 14 minutes or until tips of coconut are just starting to turn golden brown.
- Let cool on baking sheet.
- Store cookies in an airtight container.
Parchment paper is critical for these cookies to turn out right. Silicone mats, waxed paper, etc. will yield a slightly different result.
chime in and spill your COVID-coaster stories. do tell. misery loves company. and by now we are all worn thin from the red-ringed worries.
(p.s. i am not making light of one drop of this, merely recounting with a journalist’s eye the absurdities of what the summer’s bringing….)
OMG! the d@#* bar examiners have screwed every law grad this year! Sorry table folks, this is not a normal post but from another law grad mom. MA just decided that maybe sitting together was bad. Really?? so they are now taking it online. We can only hope IL, with all their wisdom will do the same. Love to all!
i check every hour on the hour, truth be told! i am praying they move online. even called and left a message on the governor’s constituent help line (keep that a secret!!!!). thrilled to hear MA decided to do. we are watching all the smart states move into the online camp, and watching ol’ land of abe lincoln drag their sweet heels. it’s insane. thank heavens your beautiful boy will now be safely ensconced in front of his very own screen…..
sending love from my legal petri dish to yours. xoxo
Sigh…the visual of those cookies at the end of your old house “coronacoaster” ride just made smile. Carbs and sugar…make it all go easier. I just came across that term yesterday via a friend: Noun: The emotional ups and downs of lockdown. One minute you’re baking banana bread, and loving the simple life, the next you’re weeping and missing people you used to actively avoid.” It is the perfect coinage. At our house we call it “The Birus” as that is what 3.5 year old, mask wearing Lily terms it. We all worry about Birus. Lily and I like to draw pictures of it and giggle. But we are missing all those other people in our lives. A friend, who loves line dancing and used to travel all over for competitions, posted a video from last year’s Baltimore national competition. Beyond the music and watching the bodies just groove along and flow, what struck me was the casual laughter and chatter of viewers in the background. You could see hello hugs. the high fives, just the joyful intermingling of bodies and breathe. It almost made me weep. So I have pulled out my recipe for chocolate chip zucchini muffins (our farmer neighbor’s crop is bountiful) and will temporarily Banish the Birus! May all the complicated backroads of Birus avoidance go well with son 1 and son 2 and keep you “oldsters” safe and sound. xxoo
My stomach knotted up reading this. Lord, have mercy!!! Had been thinking of T yesterday and wondering how work was going. And that navigating the family sensibilities…all different…also makes my gut hurt and eyes water. A set of grandparents traveling to a hot state to see one set of children…then not two weeks later traveling to the other out of state family … And seeing the third family here in between…the one whose dad travels several times a week to different hospitals…and walks in the door and picks up his baby. I feel like the stupid one…but my T is high risk … and they all stay well, and I just miss everyone so badly. 🤬 Here’s praying IL figures out the bar exam… Love to all y’all…
oh, honey, we could write chapters and verse on that subject. i am so sorry you’re being pushed into the land of fear, as you darn well know that your number one job is protecting your beloved. you are NOT the stupid one.
i just read a story on what it’s going to cost school districts to safely get kids back in the classroom: bus monitors, sanitizers and on and on. and then we have a president threatening to withhold federal funds from any school that doesn’t fully open. and we wonder why it’s mid-july and we are all fearing we’ve not yet seen the worst, even after living through march, april and may…….
from lamcal, though she suspects corona gremlins kept it from posting from her house in the woods:
Sigh…the COVID Challenges continue, but the visual of those cookies at the end of your old house “coronacoaster” ride just made smile. Carbs and sugar…make it all go easier. I just came across that term yesterday via a friend: Noun: The emotional ups and downs of lockdown. One minute you’re baking banana bread, and loving the simple life, the next you’re weeping and missing people you used to actively avoid.” It is the perfect coinage. At our house we call it “The Birus” as that is what 3.5 year old, mask wearing Lily terms it. We all worry about Birus. Lily and I like to draw pictures of it and giggle. But we are missing all those other people in our lives. A friend, who loves line dancing and used to travel all over for competitions, posted a video from last year’s Baltimore national competition. Beyond the music and watching the bodies just groove along and flow, what struck me was the casual laughter and chatter of viewers in the background. You could see hello hugs. the high fives, just the joyful intermingling of bodies and breathe. It almost made me weep. So I have pulled out my recipe for chocolate chip zucchini muffins (our farmer neighbor’s crop is bountiful) and will temporarily Banish the Birus! May all the complicated backroads of Birus avoidance go well with son 1 and son 2 and keep you “oldsters” safe and sound. xxoo
i hereby adopt the term “Birus,” courtesy of Ms Lily. one minute we’re baking, the next we’re weeping…..xoxoxo
p.s. this might be me!!!https://twitter.com/soledadobrien/status/1281408178794778624?s=20
I couldn’t even…20 seconds in I was 💔
Sending my two to New York University in the fall. Saying I am not happy is an understatement.
oh, darlin…..we all hold hands and dive into the deep end……
BAM, thank you for sharing your heart so beautifully and poignantly!
Grateful that T tested negative and praying for W during this transition time. Most of all, praying for their dear Mama and her Motherprayer! xo
thank you, beautiful. i was thinking this morning, as i awoke with one of those rumbly tummies that butterflies bring, that i am leaning into the long lineage of mothers before me, those who have sent their children off across oceans, and off to war, and onto covered wagons, trusting trusting with heart muscles i need to strengthen.
and on that note, i lean abundantly into the arms of the mothers who gather at this chair, and whisper to me, all will be well. it will be october one day, and the tumults will be behind me……
sending blessings to you, dear and blessed MJ. xoxox
How are the boys doing? and their mom? and dad?
you are SOOO sweet to ask. boys are good. one is getting ready to move across the country, the other is tending to the grass and shrubs and weeds of our park district, a fine summer’s job riding the giant mower, whacking the weeds, learning the art of siesta with his fellow workers. mom and dad are riding the waves, praying everyone to safe shores……(or trying anyway….)
hope you are similarly as well as one can be amid corona summer…..
my prayers are with all of you…..let’s all continue in faith and hope…
thank you, and bless you. may we all be safe as we weather the hard months ahead……