Inside Our Time: Love in the Time of Corona by Gayle Ann Weinstein

Jack and Jill met on J-Date two weeks and a day before the city was shut down because of the Coronavirus.  They emailed every day or so and finally decided to meet at a coffee shop halfway between.  Both were mostly fair representations of their photographs.  Jill didn’t wear glasses in the photo and it had been taken about five years before.  Jack looked a bit paunchier and was likely a few years older than his photo.

More concerning to Jill was the fact that when she waved at Jack from the table where she was sitting, he didn’t respond.  She got up and approached him at the ordering counter. 

He smiled, but didn’t seem to recognize her. “Yes.
“I’m Jill.”
“I didn’t recognize you.”
“I would have taken off my glasses but I wouldn’t have been able to see you. Ever since Oprah started wearing her 500 different pairs, glasses have become chic.”
They sat together in front of a fake fireplace.
“I had no idea,” Jack said.  He took a pair of reading glasses out of his pocket and put them on.  “That’s better.  You’ve already clarified my life.”
“Hope that’s a good thing.”
“When you changed our meeting date, I thought you were blowing me off.”
“The weather in February is so unpredictable in Chicago, I didn’t want to have to drive in 6 inches of snow.”
She sipped her coffee.
“And it never did snow.  Not even a dusting.”
“I was surprised when you said you belonged to my synagogue,” he said.
“I just joined at the High Holidays.”
“That explains it, I guess.  I go out of town.”
They talked another hour or so and shook hands before going to their cars.
The next day the governor of the state announced a “stay at home” order.

Jill’s email: I guess we can’t meet for a while.
Jack’s email: We can email.  That will take care of the waiting period.
Jill’s email: Not necessarily.  Emails are not dates.
Jack’s email: Our first fight.  I can’t wait to make up.
Jill’s email: Time will tell.

Thank you Gayle, for your story! “Inside Our Time” digital series:

Inside Our Time: Love in the Time of Corona by Gayle Ann Weinstein2020-04-30T21:26:36-07:00

Inside Our Time: March 17, 2020 by Bara Swain

Strolling at a brisk rate, it took me 13 minutes to walk the interior parameter of an empty playground – empty, that is, with the exception of two 12 year old boys inhabiting a bench that is usually occupied by tired mothers and over-stuffed diaper bags. “What are those boys thinking?” I wondered on my eighteenth rotation.  Suddenly, the pre-teens disappeared as quietly as the City has become in a matter of days.

My FitBit beeped: 2,700 steps to reach your goal. “My goal?” I thought.  Oh, my goals have changed drastically in the past 96 hours!  And while it’s alarming that my cupboards are stuffed with enough carbs to raise my cholesterol 100 points, and it’s disappointing to have three productions canceled, I’m overwhelmed by the fact that I will be unable to see my grandchildren for, what?  Two weeks?  Forty-five days?

I face-timed with my older granddaughter, Tallulah, as she finished her lunch.  “What are you up to, Lulu?” I asked. “Me and mom were playing hairdresser in the bathroom.” “That sounds like fun,” I said. Tallulah paused for a moment. “Too pensive,” I thought.  I flipped my removable denture out of my mouth – something that always makes her laugh.  Tallulah giggled and said, “Grandma, when I come for my next sleepover, we can play hairdresser, too.  You can share my barrettes!”  I nodded agreeably.

Since Tallulah was born, I’ve spent 20-40 hours a week playing babysitter.  After her sister arrived last year, I’ve been visiting my charges four days a week and sharing childcare responsibilities with my daughter, who works from home.  “What is Lulu thinking about my absence?” I keep wondering.

Yes, children are resilient.  Tomorrow, Lulu and I will face-time again and, as promised, play a new game I purchased – an afterthought as I paid for water, canned turkey chili, wipes, TP, and coffee.  Maybe I can hold her attention for a while longer.  If not, I’ll just remove my bottom denture to hear my granddaughter laugh.

When our phone call ended, I wept as silently as the empty City before turning on the news.

Thank you Bara, for your story! “Inside Our Time” digital series:

Inside Our Time: March 17, 2020 by Bara Swain2020-04-30T21:17:36-07:00

Inside Our Time: Untitled by Aviva Rosenbloom

Actually, my personal experience is a moving message that a friend found in the text of Moses’ healing prayer for his sister, Miriam (El na refa na lah – Oh G-d, please heal her) 

See below.

Corona is embedded in the text. Oh my.

Thank you Aviva, for your story! “Inside Our Time” digital series:

Inside Our Time: Untitled by Aviva Rosenbloom2020-05-01T13:11:06-07:00

Inside Our Time: Making Light of It All by Martha Patterson

I went out to get the mail this afternoon and my neighbor Herc was getting into his car with a
friend.  I hadn’t spoken to him in a month.

“How are you holding up?” he asked.  I knew what he meant.

“It’s hardly affected me.  I never go out except to the bodega.  I’m a hermit.  But I wonder how it’s influencing the economy…bars and restaurants are closing unless they seat fewer than 25, people aren’t traveling, and they don’t want to go to movies, concerts, or the theatre.”

“It’s gonna be the best thing that ever happened to our economy,” Herc answered.  “I’m a

Herc isn’t into buying and spending and all the claptrap of a capitalist society.  He shrugged. So we chatted for a minute about the debate between Biden and Sanders last night.  He’d missed it but heard a report from a friend.

“I’d be happy with either of them,” I said.

“They’re both creeps,” he replied.  “And I’m a real Socialist.  I don’t like anyone who was in the running.”

“You know,” I said, returning to the previous conversation, “Kids are pretty safe.  If they get the coronavirus it’s more like a bad cold, nothing serious.”

“I know,” he nodded.  “And I’m in my 60s, but I’m not worried.  I’m not that old.”

I smiled at him.  Just then his friend leaned out of the car and waved down a woman who was

walking by with a big shopping bag.

“Where’d you get the toiler paper?” he asked her.

“Little shop down the street.”  She kept walking.  I suddenly found myself wondering if I had a good supply of toilet paper myself.  But it seemed likely I did.

“You know,” I said to Herc, “more people die from the flu than from this.” 

Since I don’t see him often I like being cheerful around him.  I said goodbye and turned away as he and his friend got ready to drive off.

But when I went back into my apartment after opening my mailbox that the postman had

touched, I washed my hands.  You don’t want to argue with good health.

Thank you Martha, for your story! “Inside Our Time” digital series:

Inside Our Time: Making Light of It All by Martha Patterson2020-04-30T20:24:25-07:00

Inside Our Time: Love in the Time of Coronavirus by Anonymous

I slip into the jacuzzi tub
As it fills with warm water.
I breathe deeply
My eyes close
As it bubbles around me
And my hair lifts and floats
Like a mermaid
Swimming free in the ocean.
The water
A soothing caress
On my shoulders, arms, legs, feet.

I slide to a good spot
The jet of water
Between my open legs
Gentle as a kitten
Lapping milk from a saucer
Dreaming of you.
I move closer to the jet
Both hands grasp the faucet behind me
Pretending it is you
Holding my wrists
Possessing me
Flying with you
Into the galaxy

Nothing compares
To what we share
To you on top of me
Inside me
Your arms around me
Your lips on mine
Me wrapped around you
Nothing compares

This is love in the time of Coronavirus

Thank you  for your story! “Inside Our Time” digital series:

Inside Our Time: Love in the Time of Coronavirus by Anonymous2020-04-30T20:16:40-07:00

Inside Our Time: Untitled by Suzanne Gelbart

All right.  I don’t lie.  Shit is jacked.  I’m writing to you from America in the year 2020, which you actually have to write out fully on every document placed before you because apparently some genius was all “They could fill out whatever year they want to after the ’20,’” which makes zero fucking sense because we could have done that through all of ’19 as well and no one blinked.  That is the kind of dumb-ass mentation we are forced deal with now.

For the record, I would rather go through this fuckery with ANY SPECIES ON THE PLANET OTHER THAN HUMAN BEINGS.  I would deal with pigs, dogs, birds (who are bona fide assholes) and even horses – who personally scare the shit out of me and require too much upkeep for the kind of lip they give.  

If I had my druthers, my personal preference of animal to weather this storm with would be  raccoons.  I have very valid and rational reasons for wanting to ride and die with them, but that can wait for a future debate.  I seriously doubt anyone has given more thought to their apocalypse-sidekick animal than I have.  Raccoon. Every Fucking Day Of The Week.

But let’s move on to our new reality, shall we?  My mamas, my papas – we are on our own here in limbo land.  I don’t know what that means other than if you get too close to me at the grocery store, I’m gonna elbow you in the tit… but I will also give you half of my toilet paper if you need it.  We gotta take care of each other.  We are all freaked out (or should be) and we can eat each other later if it gets to that.  For now, let’s just be kind?

My dog is apparently fully attuned and adjusting to this new reality. Nine confirmed kills over the last two weeks.  Dog knows when he needs to step his game up to prove his value to the fam, yo.  He just dumped, yet another gopher (which looks like a russet potato that grew disturbingly large teeth) in the house. But it’s him, picking up on the vibes in the ether, doing his part to let us know there are means, there is sharing, and if we take care of each other we can make it through this.

Let’s hope the day never comes when I’m sending you the recipe for gopher pie.  But if I do, you better damn well believe it’s gonna be delicious.  Stay safe.  Imagine me dry hugging (TM) the shit out of you.

(See aforementioned killer below.  You’re welcome.)

Thank you Suzanne, for your story! “Inside Our Time” digital series:

Inside Our Time: Untitled by Suzanne Gelbart2020-04-30T19:59:04-07:00

Inside Our Time: The Nature of Nature by Melanie Chartoff

The squirrels are partying under my orange tree eating more citrus than I can possibly pick.  The green onions are taking over my yard bouncing white blossoms in the breeze.  Arrogant arugula ignores the rocks between my manicured beds, spreading, heading for my neighbor’s yard.  Nature knows no boundaries, no borders between yards, nations, families or faiths.  She is an equal opportunity benefactor, empowering babies as well as bacteria.

Nature’s been trying to get our attention for a long time and now she’s got it.  We’ve been fighting her all our lives, and now we must humbly admit her powers are uncontestable.  But in return, the air is clearer of pollutants as our driving and producing and consuming slacken.  We are forced into stillness and valuing simpler things.  We are again reminded that the survival of man and womankind has always been and always will be miraculous.  I ache for the folks fighting for their livelihoods and lives while I add wild greens in citrus sauce to my salad.

Thank you Melanie, for your story! “Inside Our Time” digital series:

Inside Our Time: The Nature of Nature by Melanie Chartoff2020-04-30T19:49:09-07:00

Inside Our Time: Vey iz mir, there’s a virus here! by Bindy Bitterman

I write limericks both grown up and kiddish
But never specifically Yiddish!
A non-Jewish friend
Wants to see that all end
I hope that’s not one God forbiddish!

Okay, so now what do I do?
Teach non-Jews words known to each Jew?
Like “plotz” and “shlemiel”
I’ll try keeping it real!
But must I define them all, too?

Nah….I’ll let them do that on their own
(Use Google—in fact, use your phone!)
There’s “chutzpah” and “shnorrer
And of course there’s the horror
Of “shmuck”—( I’ll leave that one alone!)

There’s “zaftik” —I hope not passe now
Since Me Too is having  its say now
But must we get used’ta
A fat balabusta?
As the only good feminine way now?

However….whatever you choose
With Yiddish, you just cannot lose
They’ve a wonderful word
(That you may’ve never heard!)
So let’s have a Yiddishkeit schmooze

It’ll certainly help pass each day—-
We can kvell  ‘cuz there’s many a way
To avoid getting sick
If we stick to the shtick
Just remember: stay 6 feet away!

Thank you Bindy, for your story! “Inside Our Time” digital series:

Inside Our Time: Vey iz mir, there’s a virus here! by Bindy Bitterman2020-04-30T19:31:04-07:00

Inside Our Time: My New Best Friend, Paper Towels by Terry Berland

Covid 19 has brought about an important new relationship in my life; Paper Towels.  I’m writing this because quite frankly, I’m surprised at myself.  I really should be part of a social science study, if they ever have one.

The question has come up multiple times in our lives as to what would be the most important things we would grab if we had to run out of our homes quickly due to a fire or an earthquake.  Now I am faced with what is the most important thing I must be stocked up on due to the Covid 19 Virus.  

I am most surprised to find out how important paper towels have become to my life.  This phenomena surprisingly appeared after I was stocked up on anything that sanitizes.

It seems not to be enough that I have a gigantic pack of Costco Paper Towels in my condo storage locker.  This became apparent when this morning I was once again at CVS.  I have it figured out now (as do many other people).  Find out what time the shipment arrives and be at the store an hour before.

In the beginning the employees unpacked everything and brought the goods behind the cash register counter.  Now, there is a new plan.  On this morning’s visit where I once again saw the familiar face of the smiling Floor Manager, he guided all of us to the door of the back room where the goods are delivered.  Now, they have cut out the middleman.  The goods come right out of the boxes handing them directly to those of us who reach out the furthest with the strongest intention of getting the booty.  Satisfied, I load my car knowing I will be back again shifting my attention to more sanitizer wipes… just in case.

I kept questioning myself.  Why are paper towels so important to me now, when I never gave them a thought before?  When I couldn’t mathematically figure out how many perforated pieces a role had to last me how many times a day that I rip off  a piece to dry my hands after I wash them because my dish towel may be hovering germs from my last hand wash, or how many times I use one to open a door …that’s when I’m not using my Clorox wipes, I came to the only solution. Not being able to figure out the mathematics of all this, for as many of you know I am not good at match, the only solution is to keep buying them.

So when this is all over, you know where to come for paper towels. And when I can get my hands on more sanitizer (excuse the pun), I’m sure I’ll have plenty of those available too.

Thank you Terry, for your story! “Inside Our Time” digital series:

Inside Our Time: My New Best Friend, Paper Towels by Terry Berland2020-04-30T19:22:29-07:00

Inside Our Time: Those Years by Casey J. Adler

It started…with a bang.
During my first week of training for my position as a sound stage manager at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media, I–a disinterested and exhausted student — thought, “Maybe I’ll tell my boss there was a family emergency so I can leave.”  But I shrugged it off and continued to learn how to build flats and close elephant doors properly.  One hour later, I received a frantic call from my sister, “Dad is in the hospital.  Get to your apartment.  Mom and I are picking you up!” 

“What happened?” I said. 

“He shot himself.”

“What? Where?” 

“He shot himself in the face.  Get home.” 

“Oh god.  No.  No!” 

As I drove home, I unleashed every thought into the ceiling of the car. 

It was 2008 and my father lost all our money in the stock market. Every dollar my dad earned from 35 years of working in the carpet business and every dollar from his inheritance. He lost his integrity and he believed he failed as a husband and father. 

So, he shot himself. 

But a funny thing happens when you want something so badly.  Sometimes, when you shove that gun in your mouth — with the tears streaming down your cheeks as the dog yells at you for food in the other room because you’ve been up all night, walking around the house in a manic death daze — sometimes, when you pull the trigger, the bullet doesn’t sever your spine or blow your brains out.  

Sometimes, that .22 caliber slug lodges a millimeter from your spine, engulfed by your beautiful angelic neck fat and muscle.  Sometimes, the only injury you sustain is a chipped tooth and singed vocal cords and the surgeon tells your family,

“We’re not removing the bullet.  It would be too dangerous.  It’s a miracle.  He’ll be fine.  Get some rest.” 

Like a rainbow, he survived.  Like a fault line, the myriad of familial issues remained ready to quake again.

We struggled for years to find a stable footing during the worst recession since the Great Depression.  We struggled with distrust from past misdeeds.  And we struggled to acclimate from the middle class to living at our grandfather’s house.

But those years shaped me into a man, considerate and empathetic to the woes of friends, foes, and strangers.  Those years turned my sister and I into writing partners.  And those years jump started my career in the arts with my dad by my side, driving me to each and every audition and each and every shoot day of my first breakthrough role in television, Amy Sherman-Palladino’s Freeform series, “Bunheads.”

Oh, those years, they started with a bang.

Thank you Casey, for your story! “Inside Our Time” digital series:

Inside Our Time: Those Years by Casey J. Adler2020-04-30T19:13:35-07:00

Inside Our Time: Life in the Time of Coronavirus, #2 by Kate Zentall

Seven things I’ve discovered this first week sheltering in place:

  1. Routine is a luxury.
  2. Respect the kitchen. Keep your distance.
  3. When I don’t have to go out in public, a pair of cotton undies always wins over a HankyPanky thong. 
  4. My ever-youthful yoga teacher who in real life looks 40 somehow looks 50 on the Zoom screen. 
  5. The value of solitude is in direct proportion to my being in the world and connected to people. Without that balance, solitude just slinks and oozes into boredom and loneliness. 
  6. Our loud young neighbors send an email asking if we need help getting groceries. Sweet. We have officially become the Elderly Couple Next Door.
  7. I now can FaceTime-babysit a grandbaby 3000 miles away by making up new lyrics to “Baby Beluga.” 

Thank you Kate, for your story! “Inside Our Time” digital series:

Inside Our Time: Life in the Time of Coronavirus, #2 by Kate Zentall2020-04-30T12:39:08-07:00

Inside Our Time: Corona Nuggets by Barbara Trainin Blank

I’m going to die.  That’s the refrain that keeps going through my head, whenever the toll of the virus is announced. 

Why the obsession?  Maybe it’s the suddenness of it all.  I know I’m going to die at some point, but it’s never been clearer that my age is an underlying condition.  Except about dementia and cancer.

Understood that we’re all expected to stay place, not venture out.  It’s easier, in a sense, on freelance workers.  We’re used to isolation.  And since Passover is upon us, maybe it’s apropos of the first one — when each family was commanded to sacrifice in its own home.

On the other hand, it’s lonely.  Why is no one checking on us?  Why am I the one who reaches out without much reciprocity?  Ironically, that which often bothers us and feels invasive — electronic media — is now comforting.  Without them, where would we be?

But as often as we speak to our recently married daughter in Israel, it won’t really compensate for the fact that our long-planned trip in May will most likely not take place.  Our other daughter lives nearby, but our little grandchildren are not supposed to hug us.

Our cats don’t understand much about electronic media — though many cartoons show frustrated pets not comprehending the devices their owners are glued to — but they seem to sense something is different.  They whine for food more often because I’m here.

That which is sometimes pleasant is now annoying.  Many a Shabbat I don’t feel like going to shul.  Being Orthodox, I have an “out” — not needed for a minyan.  But when our shul announced last Friday there would be no services, I felt bereaved.  But angry when other synagogues and Jewish institutions held them.

In fact, what could one say about the people everywhere who were asked to self-isolate and refused to comply?  What can one say about political leaders who don’t know how to lead?  Couldn’t our advanced country have been better prepared?  Maybe it’s not too late. 

Thank you Barbara, for your story! “Inside Our Time” digital series:

Inside Our Time: Corona Nuggets by Barbara Trainin Blank2020-04-30T12:33:28-07:00