Sharp Monica

An honest voice in Italian paradise.

Update from Italy: Day 8 of General Quarantine

Oh sheepies. What I wouldn’t do to be hanging out in a field with you.
Photo by Sam Carter on Unsplash

The kids and I made rustic biscotti today with olive oil and finocchio seeds. It was a recipe I found online which I’d never used before. In time gone by, I was a mad biscotti queen. I routinely made 100 biscotti, and brought my biscotti surplus to my office in large plastic tubs recycled from Target that Jason used to buy for his office kibble. There’s a lot to be said for chores and tactile tasks during quarantine, and wrangling a sticky loaf of dough that within minutes fills the kitchen with a springtime perfume of vanilla and anise. (Nibbles lumpy slice from end of loaf.) They turned out decent.

I am still getting some work done for the law office. The attorneys go in (maintaining a safe distance, everyone in their office), but I’m home with kids, who are in turn home from school. Jason’s been going into his office building (maintaining a safe distance, everyone in their office) once a day to check in one things, wrapping up loose ends. Gonzaga boxed up posted back to the U.S. all the personal items of the 161 students whose program ended early on February 26 and went home that week and the week after. There are a lot of questions about summer and fall term. There are no answers, and if they are, they are valid for this week only. Maybe this day only. Maybe this hour only. The landscape is changing fast.

Victor has been getting better about doing his classwork. I print out his worksheets each morning. If the work is too boring, he gets his little sister to help (usually with coloring items on a worksheet, which he feels is beneath a child of his age to be asked to do). I think their team efforts are sweet but hope she does not resent it later. The curfew on Victor’s iPad now ends at noon to facilitate his homework. I might just curfew it from 8 PM to 4 PM. Eleanor cares less about hers, so a less draconian curfew is needed. Jason got a new Wii U controller so they can play Just Dance together for points. I might start doing the workout sequences. I just binged both seasons of Killing Eve, which were superb and nailbiting enough to take my mind off any externally relevant local stress. Consigliato.

So, this is it. We are slowly finding our sea legs here on Day 8 of the general quarantine. I am so on top of laundry, dishes, and meals, you would not believe it. My inner farm wife is at peace. I told Jason the other day, maybe I’d made a mistake? Maybe the life of the mind was not for me. My imbalanced vata dosha gets inflamed and anxious, competitive and worried with books, writing, drafting, posting, publishing. In many ways, this is my element, but I can’t stay there all the time. Somewhere an epigenetic switch was flipped on one of my X chromosomes, probably in Finland or Scotland around 1750, and I live for household chores. I wish they were farm chores. I would like to have a flock of sheep. Maybe I am a Halldor Laxness heroine. But for now, I will content my itchy fingers and industrious impulse with laundry, dishes, and meals, and mending clothes. I have been known to iron cloth napkins as a meditative enterprise. It is a true pleasure to do them, after having been deep in baby and toddler years from 2011-2017 or so, and always wanting to get to those dishes and laundry but somehow never being able to. Just relax, people would say, enjoy your baby, but that was pretty hard to do when you were running low on food, every dish in the house was dirty, and you were wearing the fourth and final clean side of a t-shirt, the other three having been streaked with yogurt, baby urp, or worse.

Upcoming topics: 1. ) culturally significance of collective response to outbreak and quarantine, and 2.) Are pandemics always experienced personally?

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