Every Day.

april 16th, 2020

A friend asked what it's like having a roommate while sheltering-in-place. i find that our roommate's Routines keep the days from descending into undifferentiated slurry. Our roommate is also remarkably cheerful and relaxed, which is a huge boost to household morale.

Here's a typical day:

  • 3:30am–6am - a couple days a week i wake up in the dark to write with my friend Onicia via video call. She's a Professional Dedicated Writer and i draft off of her committed energy. She's also similarly constrained by her roommate's daytime schedule.
  • 6am–7am - roommate wakes up, i bring him something to drink, we snuggle and snooze.
  • 7am–8am - i make breakfast for me and roommate — some combination of: eggs, oatmeal, toast, Cheerios, fruit. i make a pot of coffee for me and Vlad; i drink most of the pot, Vlad is lucky if he gets more than a cup.
  • 8am–10am - cartoons. If it's Saturday, English language cartoons. All other days we watch Romanian/dubbed cartoons.
  • 10am–10:30am - yoga. Roommate isn't very interested, but enjoys adding weight resistance to certain of my poses.
  • 10:30am–12pm - we read books, practice walking, cook food.
  • 12pm–12:30pm - lunch: some combination of banana, noodles, tofu, beans, carrots, seitan nuggets, grilled cheese,  pizza.
  • 12:30pm–3pm - wind down with books and a darkened room, then roommate's nap. If i'm using my rational head, then i also take a nap, but more often i just drink coffee and take care of work and household chores and talking to loved ones.
  • 3pm–5pm - more cartoons, sometimes books. If i feel ambitious and energetic then we play instruments or have a dance party or make marker art. And we have a snack: crackers and cookies.
  • 5pm–6pm - Vlad emerges from his work cave and takes our roommate for a walk.
  • 6pm–6:15pm - dinner: the same foods as lunch in a new combination.
  • 6:15pm–6:35pm - roommate's bath. This is the highlight of the day.
  • 6:35pm–7pm - books with Vlad and our roommate, followed by singing and roommate's bedtime.
  • 7pm–7:15pm - i write a short synopsis of the day in my diary. This practice has helped reduce the disorienting effects of time dilation in the ongoing weird, boring, terrifying era.
  • 7:15pm–8:15pm - Vlad and i watch some TV.
  • 8:15pm–9pm - i wash my face, brush my teeth, do some push ups and sit ups, read, and go to bed.


april 11th, 2020

still from a video of miles of cars in Duquesne, Pennsylvania, waiting for food from a food bank

Still from drone footage of miles of cars waiting in line to receive food from a food bank outside Duquesne, Pennsylvania. Courtesy @andrewrush

i can't stop thinking about these lines for food.

i can't stop thinking about what it must be like in refugee camps right now, even though my imagination blacks out.

my father grew up in a mansion with a pool and a tennis court and a full time housekeeper. The housekeeper was Black, the only Black person my father's family has ever been close to.

Yet my father believes that he grew up poor, and no amount of reality testing will convince him otherwise. “Remind me, how many pools did you have in your struggle house, Dad?” He believes that the house his family lived in prior to the mansion, the house in Dowagiac, was a poor house. But it was not a house where his parents had to decide between heat and food, the way that some of my father's patients have to decide every winter. It was probably a nicer house than their future housekeeper's house.

There are old family photos of my father and his siblings sitting on the stairs of the Dowagiac house in new, matching pajamas every Christmas. They could afford new, matching pajamas. They could afford Christmas presents. They did not know American poverty.

But my father's mother did know such poverty during the Great Depression. And lately, especially when i'm washing each of our groceries in the sink with soap and hot water, i feel manacled in the bindings of epigenetic memory.

So perhaps my father carries the Great Depression in his DNA, just as i carry a mistrust of hands and fear of the cossacks in mine.

March 2020 January 2021