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Dispatch #003

By: Alexandra Kostoulas

It’s hard to know how long this thing will last. We are all biding our time and staying inside.

There are so many things I wanted to do during this Coronavirus time and I love watching tv and reading books so much but I haven’t felt like it. I’ve also wanted to work on my novel and my poetry collections.

Instead I have felt like preparing my house, obtaining vegetables and cleaning them and making meals that stretch and utilize all of my groceries is my number one priority.

I even went through and picked the vegetables that grow wild in my garden. I think my grandfather planted them. He died about a decade before I was born. But he grew all sorts of things in the backyard that kind of take over and have now started to grow wild. One of them is this either dill or fennel. Another is green onions. They grow like weeds back there and come up every March. Usually I just let them be and they go away by June. I have a terrible gardening ability. Nothing from the generations of farmers or healers was passed down to me.

When I went in for my 4-month-old’s doctor visit, I mentioned the coronavirus, and people in the front office were making jokes about it. The receptionist came in with a cold and still worked. I asked the pediatrician if I should be worried about it. He said it was no big deal because small children were not affected according to the data, but then I said that well you never know and that millions of people were on lockdown in China and that isn’t a small thing. He joked that we may be all on lockdown by the fall. Fast forward to six weeks later, we all *are* on shelter-in-place and the doctor’s office released a troubling webinar explaining about the coronavirus with deadpan expressions and dour tones that I made the mistake of watching late at night. The three doctors basically said to sterilize everything in your home multiple times a day with disinfectant, which god only knows I do not have time for. I have a toddler and a 5-month old. Basically everything goes in the mouth.

I’ve decided to stay in as much as possible. I see other people going for long walks etcetera and going into nature. But I have never been good at getting out of the house with two small children.

What makes me nervous are all the joggers.

It’s like every single person has decided to take up jogging right now as if their life depended on it. The young millennial joggers do not cover their mouths and they run triumphantly past you on the street, or on the path where you are walking, in the park, etcetera.

When we do go out, we strap the baby to me, go all together to the more secluded parts of golden gate park and take our 2-year-old in the stroller. But we bring a little wagon that we let him run with and pull behind him. I figure if he is pulling the wagon, he isn’t touching other things. Then I sanitize his hands a bit.

I kept thinking in the back of my mind that this may be the last time we may do certain things for a while. So I let myself do them one more time and I watch and wait. I was keeping this to myself in January and February because I thought people would think I was nuts.

Back in early February, I was thinking, well, lets keep going to the playground because there will probably be a time when we can’t go. Let’s go one more time to baby music class and soccer class and story time because there may be a time when it will not be safe to go if the virus proliferates. Let’s stop going to the gym (or in my case, I never went back after having a baby like I thought I would)

And now, we go out very little.

It is kind of nerve-wrecking going out with a global pandemic out there.

I was low-key about my fear for a long time.

But I think now a lot of people are also afraid, so I can just be truthful about it.

I find it to be scary as an immunocompromised person with an older mother and two small children under 3. Nothing that people can say to me will make me feel otherwise. I will find a point to the contrary of everything people say.

And you know what, I think it’s okay to be afraid. I’ve embraced it now. My fear is what is protecting me. I can control my fear. I can think about it and obsess about it.

My fear is a known quantity.

My fear is making me write this. It’s taking away my sleep and taking away my novel editing time from me.

But it’s getting me to write this blog and the stuff I post on here, is me breaking out of my comfort zone. It’s me, showing myself and my work to the world in a way that I have been afraid to do for many years.

So, amid all the fears, and all my challenges, I am stretching myself. I am putting myself “out there” and my raw unedited work on the line for the first time in over ten years.

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That being said the next post on here will be by somebody else. I have more to say, but the goal of this project is to get us all to write during this crazy time. I hope to spend the downtime writing other things.

If you are reading this and you would like to publish something related to your experience, please send an email to submissions@dispatchesfromquarantine.co

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