Ten Things I've Learned During the Pandemic

  1. I’ve learned that on Zoom, reading glasses are a good substitute for eye makeup.  Makes sense, right?   They make your eyes look bigger.   Plus reading glasses are much faster to remove.   Extra hint:  if it’s a business meeting, go for the unobtrusive reading glasses instead of the rhinestone-studded hot pink pointy ones, much though those are the ones you really love. 
  2. I’ve learned how to make masks!    Which involves remembering how to use a sewing machine.   (I got a whole blog post out of that one.)
  3. I’ve learned that if I squeeze my butt while doing Upward Dog, it is much easier on my back.   I’ve been a regular yoga practitioner since 2014, and during the pandemic I’ve been taking online yoga classes pretty much every day.   But in fact my first go-round as a yogi actually transpired in college, when my roommate Katie and I were regulars at a campus yoga class taught by the indomitable Gloria Pilot.   Gloria was in her mid-60’s at the time, and her energy, flexibility, and humorless sincerity were astonishing.  In one of my favorite Glo moments, she stopped the class mid-Vinyasa and demanded:  “Do you know about squeezing your buttocks?  Well, it will change your life.”   I laughed about it at the time.   But now, 35 years later, I have discovered that Glo was absolutely right. 
  4. I’ve learned that myofascial release, where you put sustained pressure on tight muscles with a foam roller or a tennis ball, is a real thing, and it is AWESOME.   I am still a creaky middle-aged woman, but noticeably less so.   Less creaky, that is:  I’m still as middle-aged as ever, but noticeably more so (reading glasses notwithstanding).    
  5. I’ve learned much more than I ever thought I’d know – or wanted to know – about making music remotely, but in real time.   My a cappella group has been trying to crack this one all year.   Options we’ve considered were JamKazam (which was a total tech fail) and this cool arrangement where everyone pulls into a parking lot, and then you sit in your car and sing with your chorus through a proprietary FM radio frequency.   Our latest effort involves JackTrip operated through a tiny microcomputer called a Virtual Studio.  I will keep you posted.   
  6. I’ve learned how to add drum tracks on GarageBand.   As hard as it is to make music in real time with human but remote musicians, it is super-easy to make music in real time with fake musicians who only exist in your computer’s imagination.  The GarageBand make-believe drummers have groovy names like Darcy and Anton and Tyrell.   They don’t have faces, only shirts and hair; but they are accessorized just enough to make it very clear that they are way, way cooler than I am, and that I am super-lucky to have the chance to jam with them.   And jam with them I do, on a few of my Songs of the Plague:   Are You the One?, Today, and COVID Time.
  7. I’ve learned soooooo much new vocabulary!    Cytokine storm.   Spike protein.  Fomite.   mRNA.  Human challenge study.   Monoclonal antibodies.  I think my favorite is fomite, because it’s just so darned fun to say.  Fomite!  Fomite!  Fomite! 
  8. I’ve learned that I retain new vocabulary so much better if it’s introduced right before I go to sleep. 
  9. I’ve learned that it is a very bad idea to scan the daily Coronavirus Updates right before bed, no matter how good it is for vocabulary retention. 
  10. I’ve learned that we humans have an astonishing ability to adapt to change, and also an astonishing ability to deny change even when the evidence is right in front of us.    That we are really just organisms, as susceptible to blight as elm trees and honeybees.     And that we are not in charge.


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