Cloister Commentary, Day 313: Pandemic Silver Linings Playbook

Nicole and I awakened to snow, beautiful and dangerous like human beings. Dad’s truck did pretty well without being put into four-wheel drive, and the snowfall was a calming backdrop to a few hours of work.

When I returned home, I networked with some former Hickman colleagues regarding the upcoming May scholarship in memoriam to the life and work of the only materially departed George Frissell. We have some very deserving candidates.

Dinner was smoked salmon, fresh spinach, and a baked potato. We read for a couple of hours with a Jimmy Smith soundtrack.

As promised (and it’s not that I am enjoying it or ever want to experience a repeat), here are…

The Ten Best Things About Being Isolated by the Pandemic:

  1. We have been eating far more healthily.
  2. Nicole and I will have been together 31 years in May. We have been in each other’s presence more in the last 313 days than we ever have, under stressful circumstances, and we feel strong. I guess the honeymoon period isn’t over yet.
  3. Oddly, being stranded from work has made me more available to respond in-person to tragedy and need.
  4. The virtual freshman comp class I taught for Stephens College this summer was truly one of my favorite educational experiences and I learned a few skills that will probably increase my professional lifespan.
  5. I have been able to talk to my mom almost every morning since mid-June. I have no love for talking on the phone, but I have enjoyed that, even though we’ve had to talk through hard things.
  6. We have been able to meditate and reflect on our days more consistently than ever.
  7. I’m not sure a new president would have been elected with the last one’s predictably cruel and inept response to the pandemic, and I’m happy that change happened. I should have included January 6 on yesterday’s list, because that’s always going to be tempering my optimism.
  8. Though I complained yesterday about being sucked into whirlpools of self-involved thinking, another perspective is I’ve had the quiet in which to really come to terms with realities about my self, which I think is always in flux but has some stable attributes.
  9. In the category of domestic felines, I have improved my relationships with Goldie, BB, Cleo, Tux, Smoky, and especially Spirit. Junior and I have always seen eye to eye.
  10. This. I have always enjoyed writing, and knocking these out every day has been good for me in many ways. When the project was suggested to me by a friend, I was skeptical and scared–I really didn’t want to do it–but (as with many things) once I got rolling, I truly took to it. Early on, after I’d already begun, the local historical society called for pandemic diaries, and I let them know what I was doing. Maybe one day these will be a primary source for a researcher trying to shed light on these times from a historical distance. In truth, I know I am unaware of much of what they really say; I just hope it’s been valuable.

Streaming for Strivers:

I’ve been DOOM-scrolling.