The Pandemic Diary: Week Four

Groundhog Day, Pandemic, stay home order, isolationIs it week four? I’m not sure. After one Groundhog Day rolls into another, the days slide into one another and time just blends into one big lump. The Covid-19 pandemic goes on, the stay-home orders are extended, the worry continues.

With nothing much to distinguish one day from another, it can be difficult even to remember what day of the week it is. Sometimes I use TV to remind me, as in: “Last night I watched ‘This is Us’ so today must be Wednesday.” That doesn’t work with binge watching a show on one of the rapidly multiplying streaming service, though.

No Complaints Here

Let me be clear—I am not complaining. We have a safe place to live and we are retired so I haven’t lost a job (Yes, I remember what that feels like. My sympathies go out to all of you.), don’t have to worry about a mortgage, and have food to eat. (More on that later.) My family is all healthy and my granddaughters go to school online. I have eyes to see the beauty of the world around me and a perennial garden that I can tend on nice days.

Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MFA, @mfa

Museum of Fine Arts

It worries me, though, that I have stopped thinking about the things I want to do or places I want to go. At least, I don’t think of them that often. For the first three weeks of the stay-home order, I found myself wondering why we hadn’t been anywhere for a while and maybe we should go out to breakfast or see a new exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts or take in a movie. Then I remember. It’s like waking up and remembering that you need a root canal, or yesterday you totaled the car, or someone you love just died.

Now I just go about my stay-at-home day and try to fill it with positive, creative things.

What I Miss

Still, I do miss some parts of my old life more than others. They tend to be the ordinary things more than the big ones. Sure, we canceled the Viking River Cruise that was supposed to start next week, but so what? In the context of what so many people are suffering, that amounts to a drop in the bucket.

The small, daily things affect me a lot more. These include:

  • library, books, bestssellersGoing to the library for a new book. For me, libraries are like candy stores without the calories. I love seeing what new books are on the shelves. Finding the one I’ve been meaning to read for months gives me a thrill. I belong to two different library networks and visit several local libraries regularly. Browsing through them brightens my day.
  • Going to the gym in the morning. Up until the pandemic response started, I began almost every day with a water aerobics class in the pool at Longfellow Health Club. That gave me good aerobic exercise and social networking, as all the regulars traded news and information. Now that the gym is closed and the pool is still, I can only think wistfully of how great it felt to come home clean, well exercised, and ready to jump in to the rest of the day.

Singing and Shopping

  • First Parish of Sudbury, Rev. Marjorie Matty

    First Parish of Sudbury

    Going to church on Sunday. Because I sing in the choir at the First Parish of Sudbury, my Sundays usually begin at 9:00 a.m. with choir practice, roll into services at 10:00, and finish with coffee hour ending around 11:45. This practice anchors my week. We now have services on Zoom, followed by a virtual coffee hour, so I can see the congregation, but the choir only sings on recordings.
    (The congregation was gathered in 1684, we worship in a meetinghouse built in 1797, and we use 2020 technology to stay together.)

  • Going to the supermarket. I had become accustomed to visiting one of several supermarkets three or four times a week. I read the circulars, shopped the sales, looked for specials and used coupons. After years of having to do one big shopping trip on a weekend, it was a pleasure to put fresh fish and meat on the table and to figure out what to have for dinner on the spot. I could browse, take my time, and go back for something I forgot. Now, a trip to the supermarket feels like a sortie into enemy territory; I go at dawn and the faster I can get in and out, the better.

The Tour Season Falls Apart

Last night I was scheduled to lead my first tour of the season, a private ghost tour for Haunted Boston. Numerous other private tours followed in March beside my regular weekly public tour. Giving a tour involves driving into Boston and parking under Boston Common. Then I take a group around the Central Burying Ground, the dark Common and Beacon Hill streets, telling our guests tales of ghosts, murder, witchcraft, and hangings. Good times.

Central Burying Ground, Boston Common, Haunted Boston, ghost tourThen I walk back to my car through a lively bustling city and drive home with tips in my pocket and a paycheck on the way. That won’t happen this month, probably next, and maybe into June, depending on how long the pandemic lasts. The cruise ship tours that were scheduled to start in June are being cancelled one by one. So, I won’t get any revenue there, either.

In addition to the loss of money, though, I miss the personal interaction with people from all over. I enjoy sharing information about the city and I enjoy the round of applause at the end. Every tour is a performance and I love performing. The psychic gratification is addictive.

Lessons from the Pandemic

Without waxing philosophical, I do think that we have lessons to learn from the pandemic, the way we respond, the changes it is causing in our lives, and the way Planet Earth is responding. Those lessons have nothing to do with the messages and posts I receive about God threatening us, making us feel guilty, requiring that we grovel, or demanding that we pass a loyalty test. This pandemic affects the entire world and it has nothing to do with prayer in schools, homosexuality, abortion, government intrusion, or any other issue.

Hospital Ship Comfort, pandemic, Statue of Liberty, New York City

Hospital Ship “Comfort” in New York Harbor

I also think that the faster we learn these lessons, the faster the pandemic will subside.

I don’t believe that will happen quickly, however.  We are all in this together—and we are all in it for the long haul. Do I miss my old life? Sure, I do, just like everyone else. Am I grateful for what I have? Yes, I am.

In the meantime, I obey the restrictions designed to bring the pandemic to a halt. Stay home, stay safe, and stay healthy. You do the same and I will see you when the Covid-19 pandemic ends.

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About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

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