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What’s Next?

            There are so many trainings advertised on Facebook, for online teaching and social work, and I keep thinking I should sign up for all of them, but I don’t want to, and I feel guilty about it. I want to work on my own writing, but my brain can’t shift out of work mode, or job search mode, or Rachel-isn’t-trying-hard-enough mode. It doesn’t help that I’ve been hit by another wave of inflammation and exhaustion and can’t stay awake long enough to finish a thought.

I’m expecting stay-at-home rules to last longer in New York than elsewhere, especially in the areas closest to Manhattan, like Long Island, where I live. Even when we start to open up a little bit, schools will still be closed, and crowds will still be forbidden. I keep hearing that we’re supposed to get tested, but I don’t know if that includes me, or if I’d need a prescription from my doctor, or an appointment, or specific symptoms. I’ve been trying to figure out Governor Cuomo’s system of regions and parameters and how that relates to what’s happening in other states, but it’s not computing.

            I’m really not looking forward to wearing masks and gloves in the heat of the summer, or the inevitable power outages when everyone is at home on Zoom and using their air conditioners all day. And I’m afraid that my doctors will decide to reopen their offices soon. I don’t want to go to the dentist. I don’t want to go to the dermatologist. I don’t want to go to the cardiologist or the oral pathologist or the general practitioner for tests. Skipping non-essential doctor visits for the past two months has been one of the perks of the shutdown for me. Maybe I can hide under the couch with Cricket when they start to call.

“No room.”

            We finally ordered take out for the first time in two months (for Mother’s Day), and I had to put on my mask and gloves and walk around the corner to the Italian place, which has remained open all along. They were all set up for social distancing, with a table at the door to keep customers outside, and everyone on staff wearing gloves and masks. But there was a lot of staff, and I was preoccupied with details, like the hole in one man’s glove, and the workers brushing shoulders behind the counter. I forgot to get the receipt as I took the bag of food and ran away. It was such a relief to get back home and into my pajamas again.

            Usually, for Mother’s Day, we would have gone to a gardening store to pick out Mom’s new plants for the season, but with the cold spell, and the expected crowds of Mother’s Day shoppers, we delayed the trip. Mom threatened to race out to the gardening store as soon as the weather improved, but, Thank God, she didn’t do it. I keep picturing huge globs of coronavirus rolling down the street, like a bowling ball looking for pins to knock down, and I don’t want Mom knocked down.

            One bright spot is that my big Paw Paw tree (the lone survivor, at thirteen years of age) has started to blossom. We probably won’t have fruit this year, because you need two trees for cross pollination, and the gardener has been lackadaisical about replacing the tree he cut down. He ignored Mom’s suggestions for where to buy a sapling, maybe because he assumes all of his suppliers are awash in young Paw Paw trees. If he ever follows through on his promise to replace the tree he killed, chances are high that he will mistake a Papaya for a Paw Paw, or just fill the space with whatever fruit tree he can buy off the back of a truck. But in the meantime, my tree is leafing and flowering, and that makes me happy.

Paw Paw flowers

We’ve been having a lot of zoomed Ritual Committee meetings at my synagogue recently, to discuss what we’re going to do for the High Holidays, in mid-September. Even if we are allowed to go back to the synagogue building by then, will we really be ready to stuff hundreds of people into the sanctuary at one time? Will we go to services in protective equipment and sit six feet apart? Could we have services outdoors? In a tent? A really, really big tent?

            In the meantime, the choir is preparing to sing a few the songs from home, in case singing in person remains impossible. I did my first video this week, listening to the piano and the Cantor on earphones while singing to the computer screen. It took a lot of willpower not to look down at the music, but Mom insisted that I had to look up, and smile.

“Smile like this, Mommy!”

            I’m taking each next step, but I still don’t feel like I’m back on track, or managing my life very well. It’s not that I want to get a haircut, or go to the beach or the mall; I just want to go to a supermarket with full shelves. And I really want to stop feeling like I’m forgetting something important. Did I lock the car? Did I leave a sock in the dryer? Did I touch my face?!!!!!

            Actually, I think what needs to come next for me is rest, so that I can begin to approach the next set of challenges with some energy and motivation, instead of dragging myself along like an English bulldog forced to walk around the block. I really need a nap; or twelve.

“Bed’s taken. Too bad.”

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

            Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

69 responses »

  1. I am right there with you on not wanting to rush out and do things. I feel safest at home. My age and medical conditions put me at risk. We have done take out a couple of times. Only at a place where you can visually see the workers with gloves and masks. The hardest is not seeing my daughter and grands. They came over today and we chatted on the porch six feet apart. They brought me a birthday present. It is being quarantined to the garage for three days. This life is hard, very hard many days. Naps are welcome. Chocolate is welcome. Snuggling with my dog is always a good way to spend my time.

  2. Isn’t it funny how having nothing to do makes us so tired that we need rest? I hope that you can find just the right job and schedule to keep you too busy for follow up dictor visits!

  3. “Huge gobs of coronavirus rolling down the street ..” I so get this. For me, I imagine the virus glowing green on surfaces and hanging in air. Odd how this invisible virus conjures such a visible image. Stay well ♡

  4. That’s some smile Cricket has. (I think it’s Cricket.)

    A grocery store with all the things on all the shelves. That would be a relief. They shouldn’t have been emptied in the first place. And masks should have appeared sooner. The fact that the government was behind and slow does not enthuse me about reopening, let alone hurrying. At the same time, I can appreciate how long we’ve been inside already.

    I’m glad your synagogue is carefully considering how best to gather. I wish all churches were being so smart.

    I’m sorry you’re feeling so tired, though it makes sense. I think all the added tension of these days is exhausting. And for you there’s health to be concerned about, job-searching, and more. I’m happy you have the dogs.

  5. Love your beautiful, blooming Paw Paw tree! Enjoy! And I agree, life doesn’t seem to be on track at all during these days of Coronavirus. It’s hard to focus and be motivated. A nap, or twelve, seems in order. 🌳

  6. Naps! My husband is a very good nap taker. I envy him sometimes. Enjoy your naps!

  7. faithfamilyweaving

    I’m also with you. Especially with my age and medical conditions. I’ve been doing tele-visits with doctors and plan to continue. Even before the virus I would get sick after going to a doctors office. I also think a lot of people are guarded about things reopening. Quarantine has become an ingrained way of life, with so much fear attached to it.

  8. Maybe there is a paw paw tree somewhere.

  9. The paw paw flowers are really neat!

  10. I think we are all nervous about getting back to “normal”. It becomes hard to trust being close to anyone anywhere, which is a shame, but natural. We have been doing take out here for the last 5 weeks and we have a hygiene protocol, which we follow. Stay well Rachel. Allan

  11. My regular 6-month appointment, a battery of blood tests preceding it, is the middle of next month. I’m seriously considering a quick dash to the clinic when the lab opens to have blood drawn and then set up a virtual/online appointment with my doctor. The longer the pandemic atmosphere lingers, the more I’m loathe to go off our property. I like holing up. I like time that is not yet filled. Time that waits for me to fill it with what *I* want there…if anything at all.

    Inconsistencies in social distancing, masks, gloves, and such, unnerve me more, I think, than if it the outside world would settle on all one way or t’other.

  12. The paw paw blossoms are gorgeous. I’m glad you smiled while you sang.

  13. Rachel, sometimes I just want to give you a big hug……but, let’s just say I am sending you a virtual one. You made laugh when you described your feelings about being relieved not to go to your doctors appointments. Now I don’t feel so bad about being extremely giddy my yearly, and semi yearly appoints were canceled…….i’m such a whimp. It takes all my courage to not postpone them…..and then it was done for me! Again, I love your writing, my best to you!

  14. I can’t WAIT to get back to normal! Please, please, please, don’t give in to the fear that’s being pushed on us daily, hourly, every single moment by the media. I’ve been comparing this to a winter forecast of snow – that goes from the BLIZZARD OF THE CENTURY!!!!!! to “oops, we’re gonna get a couple inches, never mind.” Please, don’t be scared! I’ve been told I’m a rebel because I’m not good at following rules on a good day, and when those rules don’t make sense, or change from day to day – “don’t wear a mask, it doesn’t help. No, wait, you MUST wear a mask!” “Don’t panic buy! Wait, there’s gonna be a meat shortage! But wait, don’t stock up!” Take a deep breath, turn off the news, get off social media, and start getting your life back. It will be okay.

    • The confusion is the worst part! Oh, and all of the social media posts about bread when I can’t find yeast anywhere. I refuse to feed a sour dough starter, on principle.

      • I have so much yeast! I wish I could send you some! I agree, the confusion is awful – and they keep changing the rules so much that I just threw up my hands and said “pffffffftttttttttt, I’m living my life.”

  15. Follow your heart and decide if you want to teach or write. Stay safe and healthy

  16. The transmission rates herein Sydney are low, but I still wear a mask in the shops,and stay away from people. Glad you and yours are still free of the disease!

  17. I think lots of people (me included) find coming out of the Corona induced bubble a bit hard. Everything seems laden with risk and requires so much thought. You’re not on your own. What you’re feeling, I think, is pretty normal. Try to accept it, and roll with it and go easy on yourself.

  18. I honestly see no point in testing. So today you test negative, but tomorrow you might be in contact with someone or something, and then be positive. Then you are spreading the virus around because you believe you don’t have it. Testing just seems to be an expensive way to make people think the government is doing something.
    We cannot live in fear forever, so taking sensible precautions and trying to live as normally as possible has to be the way to work through this until a vaccine is discovered.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  19. I’d be happy to review your book Yeshiva Girl on my blog but it doesn’t seem to be available on Amazon’s UK site?

  20. Glad to hear you all are doing well during these times. Gov. Cuomo is such a comforting presence on TV. Here in CA, Gov. Newsom is doing his best as well.

  21. The latest CDC guidance has me feeling a bit better about venturing out because the research is now showing that surfaces are not really much of a problem, person-to-person aerosolized virus is the major culprit. Here on the Upper West Side virtually everyone is wearing a mask, but the gloves have come off, so to speak. I haven’t yet been to the store (delivery only) and you would think that a trip to the corner bodega is like a round the world adventure given how much I am looking forward to finally doing it. I feel like NYC has really turned the corner and if we can just keep going with our masks and responsible behavior maybe life will resume, albeit differently. Long Island will be faster than Manhattan!

    • I still wear the gloves to the supermarket; probably because of all those stories about people spitting on groceries to spread the virus. Most people around here take the situation seriously, which is a relief; it means we’re all in it together.

  22. It may not feel right to do anything right now, Rachel. Trust your instincts and follow that! It is a test and you will get through it with all of us here with you.

  23. I think you are in the hardest hit spot in the nation, so taking extreme cautions is just smart. Ellie’s smile is so beautiful! And the synagogue where I work has already determined that we are not doing live services during the High Holy Days, and we’re having our first HHD meeting in two weeks to try to figure out just exactly what we ARE doing.

  24. I do need a haircut desperately. I also look forward to the days of no masks, gloves etc… Also look forward to full grocery shelves again. However, since we went to yellow phase people think that means no masks and gloves despite what governor and Dr. Levine say. Hope you get back to a “normal” routine again soon.
    Love your dogs.

  25. It was certainly easier to follow the advice to stay home. I trust our governor, as I trust yours, so he is the only one I pay attention to. I have had three doctor visits on line and was pleased with the experience. I did go in for a mammogram last week and the precautions they had in place were really impressive. My doctor said I really needed to go and I trusted her on the matter. (It was fine by the way.) Since I am 73 I have to remain cautious for a long time, probably until a vaccine. It is exhausting to be back on constant high alert and really a throwback to times of trauma. Take the rest you need.

  26. Hang in there! It will get better. We are starting to do take out as well, Family will get together for the first time in the house next weekend. Just be smart about yourself and your contacts. I am sure your puppy dogs are enjoying your company! :>)

    • My brother and his wife are both doctors, so family visits will have to wait for a while. One of my neighbors has been doing social distancing dinners with her family in the backyard for a while now, and it seemed to be working, until someone stole her folding table and chairs. I’m so lucky to have Mom here; doing this alone would be awful.

  27. Rachel, my wife gave me a haircut after watching a tutorial. She did a great job, with an inferior product – my thinning hair. Keith

  28. Wow! I could relate to a lot of the comments you wrote, Rachel. At least I (and you) are not alone.

    Thanks for liking my post. The ONLY like. But then again, it was sort of a negative post. Maybe I worry too much.

    My blog is picture oriented and picture heavy, and I think I’ve reached, or reaching, my WP limit. And anyway, my phone/camera’s not allowing me to upload pictures anymore, so…

    Stay safe.

  29. I believe these two little dogs are your jewels… 🙂
    have a nice w.e.

  30. Don’t feel obligated to do things because you think you should. Try and enjoy this quieter period and do what you (and Cricket) want to do. Sing your heart out!


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