I’ve stopped writing regularly in this space. But given the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in, I thought it might be a good idea to document for posterity (hopefully!) life during a global pandemic.
5:30 AM – I wake up and get dressed. I pair a nice turtleneck and blazer with sweatpants, as I can’t deal with jeans right now. I make an espresso from the little machine my husband (thankfully!) gave me last year on my birthday. I feed Sally and take her outside, then go downstairs to begin my work day.
6:00 AM – I co-own my own PR agency, which was launched three years ago. One of our clients has a big announcement today, which we are trying to get reporters to write about. Most outlets are covering COVID-19 almost exclusively, so it has been difficult to break through. I pitch my guts out, flagging stories as they appear. We are lucky enough to have a good result. We have to get reporters to update any inaccuracies that might be in a story, which is stressful. Launches are stressful. We have had three in the past week alone, which means I have had two weeks so far of 12 hour days.
7:30 AM – I make breakfast (frozen waffles) for the twins and make sure they are dressed and awake for their 8:00 AM Zoom meeting with their class.
8:00 AM – Back to media pitching for the next hour. We end up with 5 stories, which is largely a result of great teamwork by our account team of three people.
9:00 AM – I begin to prep for my 10 AM meeting, preparing a client agenda and updating our weekly status report.
10:00 AM – Client call. We talk about the business outlook for the last few minutes, but no one really knows what is going to happen to the enterprise tech industry. This feels unnerving, but we’re lucky we aren’t being hit like the travel, hospitality and retail sectors.
10:30 AM – I take a break and fix myself half a bagel, cream cheese and lox. My husband ordered a kit of bagels, lox, sable and cream cheese from Russ & Daughters in NYC to support this beloved business, and it was shipped out this week. I make a bagel sandwich for my son and daughter as well, as a snack during their school time. They are on Zoom calls much of the morning, participating in virtual classes with their teachers. I can’t say enough about our school. The teachers have hustled like I can’t believe, and are conducting classes almost like normal, with a few exceptions. I’ve written to the principal and advisors to express my thanks, because the dedication honestly brings me to tears.
11:00 AM – Back to the grindstone. It’s nice to have one happy client, but we have six others that also have various needs. We also have five freelancers to pay every month in addition to ourselves, and there is accounting administration I need to handle. The bookkeeping function is my least favorite part of being a business owner.
12:00 PM – Our Instacart order of groceries has arrived, via a heroic delivery person! Ordering groceries has been like trying to get concert tickets to see a particularly popular band. My husband had been constantly refreshing order pages with multiple tabs open for different grocery services, until he finally got this Instacart delivery–which took over a week to obtain and confirm. Before this delivery, we were subsisting on Russ & Daughters, a weekly order to help support our local restaurants, old food from the freezer and what we had left from a grocery run we made 14 days ago. Like everyone, we need to be careful with the way we unload groceries–we wipe down every package with a lysol wipe, and leave the packaging on the front step outside as coronavirus germs can live on packaging for 24 hours. It’s crazy how obtaining, unloading and maintaining a food supply for four people feels like it is now a matter of life or death.
12:30 PM – I need to prep for another meeting in one hour. This will be a Zoom call so I brush my hair and make sure I have on a necklace and look presentable. The wifi has been sputtering and slowing, which is a big concern. We’ve heard about people getting fired from remote work because their wifi isn’t good enough.
1:00 PM – Zoom call goes fine, I guess. I have to move to the kitchen where the wifi is better, and there is a lot of ambient noise from Sally and the kids. It isn’t ideal as I am leading the call and talking a lot.
2:00 PM – I clean the kitchen, empty and load the dishwasher and do a load of laundry. It’s crazy how many dishes are generated just by everyone being home. After this I allow myself for the first time to check the coronavirus reddit news stream. Chris Cuomo has the virus, which sucks. His banter with his brother Andrew Cuomo–about which son their mom likes better–has been a rare ray of sunshine in a grim sky. UGH. I’m worried about my friend who works in healthcare, a colleague who may have the virus, our freelancer who lives in Hoboken and many others. Checking on the news aggravates these fears.
3:00 PM – The kids have wrapped school and it’s time for our favorite activity in this new world–walking our dog.
A few words about Sally. We decided to adopt a dog last year, after a lot of begging and pleading from the twins. I spent months researching what kind of dog would be right for our family. I didn’t want a pet that required a lot of walks (which in retrospect might not have been the right decision?), I didn’t want a puppy because I don’t have time to spend on training and sleep is critical to my life. I wanted a breed that was sweet and kind, not very energetic and most importantly–we wanted a dog who would be a loving family member. In one of the online quizzes I took to match our family with a breed, the English Bulldog was suggested and a memory was activated. When I was on cheer squad, our high school had a real bulldog “mascot,” proudly managed by a town citizen who was the official owner. This arrangement was kind of like Frank W. Seiler and his long line of “Uga” bulldogs, but on a much smaller scale. As someone who spent lots of time on the sidelines of the games, I got to hang out with the dog quite a bit. He was a total ham who loved people and especially kids, and he had a very sweet disposition. I quickly found the closest bulldog rescue, spotted Sally (who had a different name) and after passing a rather rigorous background process, we drove two hours to pick her up. Sally is OBSESSED with food and you can’t leave anything around unsupervised. A week ago, she nabbed a freshly baked precious loaf of banana bread off the counter, and swallowed it whole in about one second. She also suffers from skincare and eye issues we need to manage daily. But overall, adopting Sally has been the best thing we’ve done in years. She is our family mascot, during this tough time. Her funny face is reminiscent of Winston Churchill, and she cheers us up.
3:45 PM – Our walk concludes. It is strange to walk the neighborhood yet stay away from people and not see any cars. The atmosphere is eerie and weird. But getting outside is helpful. As is talking to the kids and my husband.
4:00 pm – After a quick break to drink water and eat a snack (everything is so carb-y and my salad days are over) I go back to conclude a few reports that are due as well as a writing project for a client.
6:30 pm – I wrap my work for the day. While my husband prepares dinner (leftover homemade minestrone soup, rye bread from Russ & Daughters, sautéed petrale sole, roasted potatoes and peas), I prepare us a cocktail. My husband got into mixology about a year ago, but we aren’t big drinkers so we have lots of supplies left over from that fad. I make us a “fancy whiskey” as we have the ingredients (which are dwindling). We have a lovely family dinner. My daughter, so similar to her cheerleader mother, proposes a family spirit week. We choose themes for each day next week, and we vow to dress for each one.
7:00 pm – We watch CNN and hear from Chris Cuomo about what it’s like being diagnosed with coronavirus. He doesn’t look great, or maybe it’s my imagination. He gives an uplifting speech about how we all need to join together, and I cry. He feels like a member of my family, strangely, in his basement camera away from his family.
8:00 pm – Every area builds community differently. In my hometown, we have started to howl like coyotes at 8:00 PM to express our gratitude for the healthcare providers on the front lines and the grocery workers feeding us. We all go onto our porch and howl, and Sally joins in. It’s a silly moment of release, and it makes me feel better.
8:15 pm – I watch “Unorthodox” on Netflix–a Hasidic Brooklyn woman flees her marriage for Berlin, a strange and intriguing plot. I can’t help but stare hungrily at the screen as it depicts a “normal” bustling urban life full of crowds, which is now so very far from normal. I miss meeting my friends for coffee, going to meetings to see my clients and I miss the “normal” life we enjoyed so recently. But, I buck up. This is our moment to be strong and tough. This isn’t some dystopian novel I’m reading for a book club. We are in this moment, and this is our time to rise to the challenge. I need to act like those tough Londoners did during the Blitz.
When our football team was losing in high school (which was often), I chose optimism over despair and screamed my head off on the sideline. I try to do the same now, for our doctors and nurses, drivers and delivery people, for our kids and for our parents.
All we can do is hope for the best.
Stay safe and stay well.