COVID-19 Journal – Day 1 – 3/17/2020

Leslie Ann Castro-Woodhouse posted this on her FB page yesterday. This quote will be helpful for context.

“As some of you know, I’m a trained historian (PhD, UC Berkeley, 2009). One element I’m especially passionate about is trying to imagine what it was like to live through various moments in time: what was it like to experience events when you didn’t know what the outcome would be? CONTINGENCY: It’s one of the key points I try to impart to my students.

So, parents & non-parents alike, I’d like to ask you to start keeping a journal of your day-to-day experiences. (And if you have kids, work through this with them!) What was the day’s news? How did it make you feel? What questions did it raise? What does tomorrow look like? How has it changed from yesterday? How are the people around you responding? Why? What do you think/want/fear will happen next?

After this is over and done, when future generations wonder “what was it like?” you can pull out your journal/video diary and show them how You survived the COVID-19 pandemic. Future historians will thank you!”

Admittedly, I’m not following her idea to the letter, but I figure it was worth writing some kind of record of my time going through this. Maybe no one will care. Maybe this will help someone else, somehow.


As per Leslie Ann Castro-Woodhouse’s idea. (See her post I shared regarding historians and keeping a journal doing historic events as they happen).

I decided to take private lessons at several studio locations offline, even if a policy wasn’t formally in place yet. The wheels of management move slowly and are more often than not, are mired in fearful thinking. I already have the tech to do online lessons, plus folks want the service, so…fuck it. I’m doing it. This also meant for the first time in my life, I’m teaching 60 students online. Not 5 or 6, or 10 a week. All of them. All sixty.

Welp, here goes.

The immediate bonus was I didn’t have to get up and immediately clean the studio since….no one was coming today. I got that time back. I didn’t have to rush and load my car to make the trek south to RVA. Lieu, Pepper, Ananda and Cocoa are a bit thrown off by the lack of foot traffic. Scritches, treats, and a can of tuna was applied to help them relax into this change of schedule.

Supervan needed gas, so we topped off and then headed to the Sound Post and Pickers Supply to pick up some combo amps, some instruments I didn’t want to leave unattended for an extended period of time, and my keyboard. I bought several packs of strings, because I may as well be in the Lady Bass bunker with fresh strings on the guitars and basses. And, I figure if I’m working from home, I’m going to set up on the deck when the weather is nice. Combo amps will help with that.

I did organize the home office and fixed a few pieces of office equipment. It was now settling in that this is my new home for the next two weeks. What did I forget? Ugh. Postage stamps. There’s one here. And…dammit, no RVA run today…which means no Chocolate Junior at Wawa. I didn’t even realize this was a Tuesday ritual of sorts until things were knocked off-kilter.

The cats were wondering where the heck everyone was; the folks who hang out with them in the waiting room. The apocalypse, for some, is now truly measured in the lack of cuddles and time spent killing the red dot. Hmm. My cats truly are attached to my student community more than I realized.

Cuddles were applied with one hand while I worked on creating online resources on the iPad. I’m sure Lieu quietly resented that it was only one hand, but at the same time he was contented. One cat jumped in on a test Skype call. Yeah Ananda, I’m looking at you kiddo. But she’s too freaking adorable to be mad.

As the day progressed, I walked some students through setting up Zoom, Skype, and Hangouts. We had cameras not working in settings, we had no audio, we had “how does this work…wtf is going on” moments….all the usual glitches and interesting hangups of day one. Just…a lot more of them. But some first-timers started seeing this as fun, enjoyable, and not what they expected at all.

Brought in the line dried laundry…already smelling of hopeful spring days that are striving to arrive…and noted how quiet everything was all around me. No rush hour traffic. No line of standstill traffic on the major road east of me, tailights glowing indigently. It was quiet like Christmas Day.

I had been harvesting seeds for weeks from ingrediants used in various naan bread pizzas (peppers, tomatoes, and the like) and sprouting them in repurposed salad containers. The containers make very effective low cost greenhouses, and it keeps the trash out of the landfill with a very useful purpose. Wash, then reuse through out the season to keep various plants germinating. Cocoa and I made a trip out to the garden to get more of these starts planted. Figure if I can get them in, it’s that much sooner I’ll have fresh produce at home. Cocoa helped by, of course, flopping at my feet and rolling over on her back, asking for belly rubs.

Got the upright out and savored playing/practicing for awhile. I’d usually be at Sam Ash…but here we were, settling in to the new normal.

This is George Street, looking uphill at the corner of Caroline St, in downtown Fredericksburg. It’s 2:30 in the afternoon.

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