Pandemic Journal for Our Someday-Heirs

It’s mid-October 2020. It’s difficult to distinguish between the anxieties that pop-up like an unrelenting game of whack-a-mole: Is this law school anxiety? Election anxiety? Covid-19 anxiety? Fear for Democracy and the future of my country and the world anxiety? Is this just plain old anxiety, which frankly would be like a warm blanket of familiarity right now? Or is this just the trailing macabre gift of the insomnia that that’s like a houseguest on day twelve?

It’s impossible to tell.

The history books will tell what this period was like in general, so I am left with the mundane, the personal. And it turns out, that’s my jam. I am completely insignificant and powerless in the maelstrom of the world, but I do have some influence over those in my home and in the small corner of the world in which I lift. I’m imagining the collective power of ants–and hoping that collectively, we can do things that are in fact impossible for any single one of us.

Today is day 230-something of our pandemic-based isolation. We shut the door of this house in March, and no one has directly interacted with the outside world—or entered—since. Thankfully we had a substantial storage of staples, as Mormons are counseled to do, and we’ve replenished perishables through delivery services. I’ve attempted to support local businesses where possible, but we live in the bedroom suburbs of DC and there aren’t many independent options nearby. The only thing I have control over is how generously I tip delivery workers; I’ve now built that in to our budget.

School for the kids—not to put too fine a point on it—is for shit. Our districts are fully from-home, and I both acknowledge that it’s the only way, and also that it completely sucks. It’s bad for all learners, but it’s really awful for Special Ed kids who need extra support in a myriad of ways. My kids have good teachers and a great IEP team, but everyone is trying to function in a system that wasn’t built for this, and districts are attempting to impose pre-pandemic standards on unprecedented and highly irregular circumstances. It’s not working to hold teachers to those standards, and it’s absolutely not working for teachers to then roll that downhill to their students.

Law School from home is complicated. I am officially remote for the entire 2L year, joining all of my classes via Zoom or Google Classroom. It’s more difficult to focus and synthesize concepts through this medium compared to in-person. I am in a house with 3 students learning this way, and a spouse who is working this way. There are technical issues, and despite the best internet we can get, connections fail and streams are lost. The stress and time expended dealings with the fallout from theses failures is a tangible cost. While I am grateful I can do this for the safety of my family, it adds several layers of difficulty to what is already a hard undertaking.

One of the things (sooooo many things) I didn’t understand about Law School was that you start securing jobs your first year. Don’t feel qualified? Do it anyway! For 2/3L internships, we’re advised to have a solid list of places to apply, and then have a “reach”—the legal world is striated, competitive, and often uses institutions and class-rank as a sorting method.

Last week, while I was doing the dishes after dinner, my “reach” application called and offered me a position. I was competing against Ivy-covered applicants half my age, and I didn’t expect an interview, let alone an offer. We had an impromptu family dance party in the kitchen while we listened to the voicemail on speaker. It’s in DC again, and I hope I get to serve in-person, but I will show up however I can.

I am having to resist the urge to just keep adopting new pets. Being home all the time, the dogs are such a source of comfort. As always, Tiberius is at my feed, snoring and slobbering. Squidward is settling in—albeit with some bumps. He really likes to eat things, and despite countless chew toys provided, he prefers destroying kitchen towels and believes the towel basket is his toy box instead a laundry depository.

The cats are fine. They have taken to waking me at 4 am for whatever meal comes before breakfast in cat-Hobbit world. Not that I was actually sleeping anyway. Then once I’m up, may as well get to work. There just aren’t any boundaries around work, school, home, family anymore—it’s all saltwater permeating the cell walls and running willy nilly with gravity.

Speaking of Hobbits, one of my professors is a D & D fan, and uses a twenty-sided dice to choose his cold calls from a chart he made. Whatever gets us all through it, right?

Also, this happened on September 18 and my heart is still broken and I can’t really sit and pause and grieve for a person who threw herself into good work and without whom we would all be poorer.