Archivist’s Journal

Journal Entry #1, April 20, 2020

It is the start of 4th week of Spring Quarter.  The past few weeks have been a whirlwind.  I was supposed to take time off during spring break to visit my mom in the Chicago suburbs but COVID-19 has changed everything.  First there was the order that closed places of “public accommodation” which meant the library closed and then there was the switch to distance learning (which we thought initially would just be for a couple of weeks).  My spring break plans were cancelled and I quickly made preparations to work from home.  It has been a whirlwind learning to use Microsoft Teams to communicate with the other library staff members, pull together an online exhibit for a spring quarter class, come up with projects my student workers can do remotely, and so much more.  My entire daily routine has changed.

Those first few days were chaotic. Going to the grocery store was crazy.  I’ve never seen so many empty shelves.  That’s what it must be like in those southern states before a hurricane makes landfall.  I didn’t understand the panic buying of toilet paper until I read an article explaining that the stay at home order meant you would be using your home toilet a lot more often.  I’ve got about 5 rolls left!  I have become much more frugal when it comes to food – freezing more fresh fruit and veggies like bananas for smoothies, planning my meals much more carefully, and growing my own herbs.  Now if only I could make my own toilet paper…

On Friday I went to the grocery store for the first time in two and a half weeks.  It was well-stocked except for toilet paper and cleaning supplies.  I wore a mask that I had for home improvement projects which was really uncomfortable and it left marks on my face for hours afterwards.  There were arrows on the floor to mark the direction for shoppers to go through the store.  I went early in the morning but there were still about 10 other customers in the store.  Initially, I planned just to buy a few things so that I could use the self-checkout aisle but I was so excited by all the fresh fruit and vegetables I quickly filled up my cart.  Also, I hadn’t realized until I got to checkout that we can’t bring our own reusable bags to the store anymore.  Grocery shopping was stressful.  I just wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible to reduce my possible exposure to the coronavirus.  One thing is still on my mind – do I go to the store more frequently, buy fewer items, and do self-checkout OR do I go less frequently, buy a lot, but then have to get closer to the checkout clerk?  If I’m worried by a half hour of shopping, then what goes through the minds of the grocery store workers throughout their shifts?!

Since I live alone my free time is spent watching television and walking the dog.  I watched Tiger King on Netflix because everyone was talking about it.  Then I started watching the show Supernatural.  I figured when else would I be able to catch up on 15 seasons?!  I also arranged a Zoom meeting with some college friends over the weekend.  (I checked out the college’s Information Services links about security issues to make sure we didn’t get Zoom bombed!)  There were 12 of us altogether in the call – 2 in NYC, 1 in Ohio, 2 in Chicago, 1 in Virginia, and the rest in Michigan.  It was so good to catch up with everyone and see that they are all safe.  At this point I only know one person who has gotten sick with the coronavirus.  She said it felt like her lungs were on fire.  Fortunately, she did not need hospitalization and is recovering.

I feel fortunate that I am sequestered in a house.  I thought about the tiny studio apartment I lived in a few years after graduating from college and feel for whoever may be living there now.  Walking the dog is my chance to get out of my work environment/house.  When I was walking the dog yesterday I got annoyed when a jogger came running up behind me.  Why didn’t he cross to the other side of the street?!  That is what I do so that I don’t cross paths with other people.  To me that was a breach of social distancing protocols.  Everything is different now and our habits are changing.  It will be interesting to see how many of these changes become permanent aspects of our lives…