SHELF LIFE: My Pandemic Diary: February 18, 19 & 20, 2021

Thursday, February 18, 2021

It’s snowing again. My coffee maker crapped out. And my belly was cramping and distended in the wee hours so no more boiling snow for me. I’m walking to a neighbor’s house for a hot shower and to do some laundry. Christopher’s buying bags of ice for drinking water. A friend is bringing over some fish they caught so my gratitude levels are pretty high despite my underlying despair. The thing is — in a few days the weather will be normal. Our houses will be functional. And this will feel like some surreal, cold memory we’re not sure really happened.

3:51 pm 

There’s widespread belief that Texas is full of tall white men in big hats running the place. They open doors for you. Tip their hats. Call you Ma’am. They wrangle cows, fix broken pipes, and ask God for guidance for the things they can’t do. Texan politicians run on this imagery — their commercials full of cows, steeples, and sunshine. But here’s facts. Our elected officials have monumentally failed us at this critical time.

Governor Abbot is blaming ERCOT failures on faulty wind turbines. Never mind they work just fine in the Arctic. And Senator Ted Cruz — get this— high tailed it to CAN fucking CÚN to sip piña coladas with his family while his constituents literally freeze in their homes.

But let me tell you something else, dear paper. The widespread belief that Texas is filled with good people is TRUE. While our leaders fail us, neighbors and friends are looking out for each other. Sharing food, pushing each other’s stalled cars back into driveways. Letting other people’s kids spend multiple nights. I think that’s people everywhere, though. We have power and running taps right now, just no hot water since the pipe to the boiler is still frozen. But those small blessings feel like everything right now. 

We may even still get to Pennsylvania on Monday.

Friday, February 19, 2021

You’re not going to believe this. I’m sitting in the living room. The heater’s on. Christopher’s folding laundry which means the pipes are fixed. If I get up and walk to the bathroom, I could flush the toilet. And THEN — wait for it— I could wash my hands. With warm water. In front of me is a container of fries and sub-standard chicken tenders I purchased in a frenzied fit of hunger. Which means I drove today. Gratitude, thy name is Jennifer.

I also need to say with full humility I’m aware people live like this all the time. Hungry and cold, whether due to homelessness or because they live in a place with poor infrastructure, or whatever. The entire state of Texas now knows some people’s full time realities, and I’m hoping for some full throttle humanitarian efforts for change. Right now all eyes are on ERCOT and Ted bleedin’ Cruz. 

Rumor has it legislation was approved to RAISE energy prices to meet consumer demand and if that’s not some crooked money grubbing bullshit I don’t know what is. I may be slow but it feels like the tides are turning and people are waking up to corruption. Now, my children are home. I’ve got a lovely glass of red and Everton / Man City and a sweet husband that folds laundry ♥︎ and a library shift tomorrow.  Yippy! I miss them stacks! ♥︎

Saturday, February 20, 2021

I walked into the library today for the first time in a week. The room was warm. My colleague brought donuts and kolaches. My boss said, “How are you?” and everything felt so safe and normal I just started crying.

Predictably, we were very busy. 4 librarians came in instead of 1, and it was all hands on deck pulling holds, handling massive piles of check-in and running curbside pickup which was crazy busy because it was the first properly safe day to drive.

I felt my body slowly relaxing from its weeklong clench. And then someone dropped an envelope in the book drop simply marked ‘Jen.’ It was an anonymous card thanking me for bringing warmth and kindness in the world and for a minute I was like, who? Me? Is this really the vibe I put out? 

I don’t know how to be kind and gentle with myself and have a hard time with compliments. And I genuinely have no clue who left that. But it brightened my day. I am aware of the physicality of stress and anxiety as I recover. I know every Texan had a rough week, and as time passes we’ll hear more stories. It makes me grateful I wrote (most) everything down.


You are reading select entries from SHELF LIFE: My Pandemic Diary.

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4 thoughts on “SHELF LIFE: My Pandemic Diary: February 18, 19 & 20, 2021

  1. EDW

    Thank you for writing all of this down with such humor and poignancy. And sharing. It already feels like a long time ago. Your writing takes me right back to those bitter days but also the gratitude for small things we take for granted. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

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