I am the Pandemic Police. I am the Coronavirus Cop.
I am any other alliterative phrase that describes someone completely obsessed with COVID-19.
Since the middle of March, I have listened to at least twenty-five podcasts and read fifty articles about this virus. I have checked the CDC website every single night before going to bed. I have recorded the number of cases and the number of deaths in my journal, which just proves how obsessively grim I have been. For three weeks straight, like a maniacal Alice from The Brady Bunch on steroids, I stayed up after everyone else in my house at night, scrubbing down all of the door knobs, cabinet doors, countertops, faucets, and any other potential threat that might dare to invade our home. I have found myself saying weird things like “flattening the curve,” “asymptomatic,” and “slowing the spread.” I’m telling you: Hell hath no fury like a woman with too much information, a woman armed with Clorox Cleanup and a shitload of Lysol antibacterial wipes.
I became obsessed with being prepared, refilling Albuterol (my asthma medicine that I never use) twice, just in case someone can’t breathe; I ordered masks for my whole family, especially the grandparents who did not seem to know there was a dangerous disease going around; I gave my husband instructions about how “I do NOT want to go to the hospital if I get it. I do NOT want to die alone.”
Then I became the Self-righteous Science Snob, and the thing is, I am an English teacher. I don’t even like science, and I certainly don’t understand it. But, suddenly I became an expert on epidemiology and wanted to make sure everyone in my little world was, too. I started sending links galore to family members who, early in this pandemic, were being too nonchalant about this whole thing. I sent terrifying podcasts about the deaths in Italy and China’s “brutal but effective” lockdown strategy.
I judged anyone going anywhere. “You’re going to the grocery store??” I asked, horrified. “Well, I bought two weeks worth of groceries and toilet tissue on March 12. I knew this was going to be bad,” my self-righteous self proclaimed.
“If people in Wilson would just read the freaking New York Times instead of watching Fox News, they would have known about this virus weeks ago!” I lamented to anyone who would listen.
I have been snippy with my brother, my husband, my dad, my mother-in-law, and anyone else not staying at home twenty-four hours a day. It is possible that someone might have heard me saying, “Six feet!” to my husband any time he has talked to another person, but I am not admitting anything.
I have been a little dramatic…and maybe not very nice.
What I have learned during my eight weeks of quarantine is that being the Pandemic Police is hard, and I was never meant to be in law enforcement. I am a rule-follower… but only to a certain extent. If someone tells me to stay at home to save people’s lives, I am inclined to do just that…depending on how much I trust the person giving that order. I trust Governor Roy Cooper. If he says I can go shopping again as long as I wear a mask, well, Honey, I am all in because I miss going to Gracie’s at least every other day.
Recently, Emma Jane asked, “What have you done during this quarantine that you are the most proud of?” (She actually thinks I am a nice person and not the Pandemic Police.)
“Nothing,” my grumpy quarantined self replied.
I have tried to make the most of the stay-at-home order. I have tried to make home seem “normal” to everyone. I have tried to take care of people and have felt it was my freaking JOB to keep everyone safe and well and stocked with wine and toilet paper, as God is my witness. And, from my place of privilege in my home in the country with several acres to get outside and not be around a single person and with my paycheck still coming in every month since I can work from home, I understand that following rules like this is very hard for many people. I know that people are scared and tired and lonely and just plain broke. For weeks I have said, “Well, at least they are ALIVE,” but I know we want more than to be alive; we want to live.
So now, I am tired of being the Pandemic Police. I am tired of shaking my head at people and judging how much distance is between them. I am going to let them live their own lives now because I am not very good at this job, thank you very much. After eight weeks of my self-imposed burden of handling all things Coronavirus-related, I have decided to quit my job as the Pandemic Police. I have decided to give grace to everyone, especially myself.
Emma Jane’s question looms over me, though. What am I proud of? I have not produced a family music video gone viral during quarantine. I did not orchestrate a birthday parade for my daughter, but thank God she turned twenty-four, not seven, during this pandemic. I did not initiate a Zoom graduation ceremony for my son’s college graduation. I did not “flatten the curves” of my hips or get great abs.
But, GRACE allows me to see that I have done some pretty cool stuff. I taught my three college composition classes from home, and we all (or most) survived, and I had some fun making “instructional” YouTube videos. My siblings and I had a FaceTime “meeting” with our dad when he was getting a little down from being out of work and stuck at home. Grace.
And, although we couldn’t go out to eat or be around a lot of people, my whole family had a FaceTime call for my daughter’s birthday celebration. Grace.
For our son Dawson’s college graduation, we hung homemade signs and blew up balloons, and managed to (sort of) surprise him with his dream truck. Grace.
Emma Jane and Sav surprised Kelly and me one night with “Beefmastor at Home,” buying the eight-ounce cuts of steak from the restaurant and cooking them for us while we tailgated from the truck in the backyard. (You would understand this craziness if you lived in Wilson.) Grace. My family has gotten more take-out food than in our entire lives because that was one way we could be sure our favorite local places might make it through this difficult time. Grace. I bought some cute Life Is Good quarantine-themed t-shirts to keep us a bit uplifted and maybe because we like seeing the UPS delivery people coming up the driveway. Grace.
We have checked on Aunt Sallie, the matriarch of our family, even though we cannot see her in person, sending her books and lots of love, and I have pretty much kept Amazon in business by ordering random gifts for people. Grace. I have made The Pioneer Woman’s mashed potatoes every single week, and Praise God to whom all blessings flow, that might be the one thing that has saved my life during this quarantine situation.
Yes, we have watched lots of Netflix and maybe not played games and whatnot the way I had envisioned, but desperate times call for desperate measures (and lots of grace and documentaries that make us question most human beings). It is okay that we are not really accomplishing anything right now. We just need to lift each other up and be good to each other. We need to help each other out as much as we can. And, what I have learned is that I can’t lift people up while I am being the Pandemic Police or the Coronavirus Cop. With protests and a terrible economy and people shooting a security guard just for telling them to wear a mask in a store, I am exhausted with trying to keep everyone safe. I just have to be myself and do what I do in normal times…Maybe talk about them behind their backs a little bit but also lift all of us up in prayer because even though I absolutely do not think we are in the times of Revelations and that God has sent this plague to straighten us all out, I do know (S)he offers us – every single one of us – grace and love when we are at our worst. I welcome that grace, and in place of the Pandemic police tickets, I am giving out that grace, too.
The last few days, I have seen my hackles raise as our state’s government has been going toe-to-toe in court over the Safer-At-Home order extension (D gov, R legislature, very right-sided Supreme Court). Part of me wants to clean out the rotting ignorance in the brains of the other side that is putting lots of people in danger around them, while another part of me is willing to let him endanger themselves and HOPE to God they don’t harm anyone around them. The holier-than-thou attitude is on full boil most of the time, knowing that I’m doing the right things during this pandemic as an “essential” worker. Trying to find Grace to let others make their own choices is hard when you believe you know better. Your blog entry hit me in the ego a bit, and hopefully I can come down from the high horse to find more peace in this temporary normal. By the way, have your in-house personal trainers gotten you to try the box jump yet?
Haha Not really a “jump” but a little box step. 🙂
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Aww:) I love this and needed this today especially:) I am glad you did get around and admit to doing some great things during this pandemic!! I have been in awe of your use of technology to complete your semester at Barton!! You have always been adept at it, but you have become even more skilled during this time, and I am so proud of you:) I guess we have both just about reached the breaking point together, soul sistah!! While I actually enjoy staying home more than most people, I, too, am growing weary!!! I have tried so hard to “follow the rules” because I wanted to make sure I could still see my precious first and only grandchild as much as possible as she never fails to fill me joy every second I am with her, but I am now finding that I need to get out a bit and do a few things for myself. I am blessed that my family has provided everything I need, but I just became so tired of being so dependent on them that today I ventured out to a store myself!! Another thing I did today was make a vow with myself to stay away from the things that frustrate me like all of the differing opinions and conspiracy theories that cause me to spiral into craziness🤪!! One thing I know for sure is there is too much left to enjoy in this life and I am not going to let fear and frenzy take my joy!! Reading your latest blog post was just what I needed today:) Did you sense that? We are soul sistahs in addition to biological sisters😂 On this National Day of Prayer, I thank God for you and the rest of my family, my dear friends, and for all of those working on the frontlines during this pandemic, and for those hard at work to find a cure🙏
Thank you for reading! We all need to stay away from the things that frustrate us right now. This pandemic is enough to handle! Love you.
Well babe First of all I’m glad to see you’re blogging again for you have quite a talent at it. I must say I chuckled when I read this one. Personally I’m grateful for your protective instinct and all you’ve done to keep the fam safe during this time. Given I’m a risk taker, and tend to shall we say be a wee bit stubborn when it comes to things like this I suppose I need someone to shout “six feet”!! Better six feet apart than six feet under. 😂😂 I also must say being a cop is not your strong point and I too am glad you’ve decided to take a step back from that career path. Your strength and greatest influence lies in your writing. Don’t be so long in sharing here again. See you shortly. To EI we go!!
Love you, Babe!
Lord, KP! I love this! Your blog is sooooo you and your incredible personality!
Gosh, I miss working with you, my friend!
Love this and miss you!
Thanks for reading, Kathy!
Oh my goodness , I love this Kathy! We have missed you the last few days so now that the “badge” is off come on in! I know the beach is calling. I think this thing has made all of us a little crazy because it’s crazy. I know you have had everything and everyone walking the plank and I’m proud that you have kept them straight. Now it’s time to hang up there badge and come back in to shop. We will still let you wear your mask and get you curbside! I mean you are making us depressed by not coming every day so hurry and get back to it! You’re da best!
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Mrs. Proctor – you sound like me (esp. refilling of albuterol multiple times because there was a “shortage” and SOMEONE NEEDED TO BREATHE). I think I have read all of your blog posts in the last 24 hours when, and I loved every single well-crafted sentence (I remember how much journaling meant to you, and I still have that beautiful journal you gave me for graduation).
I hope you are doing well!
Great love (in words of Pat Conroy),
Oh my gosh, Nicole Keech!! Thank you so much for reading – and for remembering me! Much love to you!!
And…your signing off with “great love” like Pat Conroy warms my heart so much. I miss teaching students who love to read the way you always did and who will plow through 500-page Pat Conroy books! hehe Great, great love to you!
I was able to see him at Meredith College during a book tour several years ago (before he passed), and I was so starstruck. My husband had a “Pat Conroy” birthday cake made for one of my birthdays (he’s a keeper!).
I miss having teachers like you who encouraged me to continue being a voracious reader and showed me such love. I teach writing part-time at the local community college and middle school reading, and I always refer back to strategies and lessons I learned from the greats like you. Xoxo
I should have proofread first. 😬