Journal Buddies #8 : Describe Sundays At Your House

New York City elevator operator during Spanish Flu pandemic, October 1918. Image: Wikipedia.



This is the 8th installment in a series of 51 posts inspired by a list of writing prompts from the website Journal Buddies. If you’d like to know more, here’s where I explain what this is and why I’m doing it.


Because of my travel schedule, there’s no Sunday routine around here. No “sleep in ’till 10:00 a.m., blueberry pancakes at 11:00 a.m., then a sit-down with the Sunday paper until I’ve read it front to back” kind of deal. I get something going for a couple of weeks, but then I’m in Reno, or in San Jose, or I forget to grab the paper, or I can’t sleep in because I’ve never been able to sleep in.

Even still, if you aggregated all my Sundays over the past years and looked at them on a macro scale, we’d probably see a pattern of some kind, however unique my weekends might be.

You would definitely be able to say that there’s never been a Sunday like this one.

Today the atmosphere had a personality. The atmosphere should never have a personality, not on any day of the week. The air around us ought to be neutral, undetectable. The atmosphere should help facilitate our movements from day to day and that’s it. We should consider the atmosphere something that does not require much consideration.

But today we had no choice. I don’t know about you, but from the moment my eyes opened this morning after six hours of pointless sleep, I awoke to a different atmosphere. It was sitting on my chest, heavy and still. In the past days it has been drawing down, thick and bleak. I went to the kitchen to make tea and check what had happened overnight. I learned fellow Chicagoans were packed like lemmings into terminals at O’Hare, death rates in Italy are surging, and in Spain, citizens who leave the house must carry an official affidavit stating their business or face a penalty of fine or arrest.

I read and stirred my teaspoon around in my mug, and the atmosphere settled into a deep, wide chair to watch me as I became quieter and smaller. It’s watching us all right now as we do that. It has settled down on and around us all, watching us as we watch this.

It feels like the air does not have our best interests in mind. There’s too much weight to it, it’s not natural. The air is not moving the way it ought to. We’re stuck to our chairs, holding our breath.

Maybe it’s worse than that. Perhaps the atmosphere this Sunday was the way it’s supposed to be: neutral. But it’s too evil to be true. Neutrality or apathy in the face of calamity is the most terrifying thing of all.

Please, everyone, no matter what, as much as you can, I know it’s hard: Stay home. 

13 Responses

  1. Kris G.
    | Reply

    Thank you for writing. I’m a teacher, and while I’m home, I’m especially looking forward to your posts. Thanks.

  2. Elizabeth Andrews
    | Reply

    I decided last night that it was time to step up to being a decent human being. I made the commitment to myself that I would practice what is being called social distancing. I sent an email to the executive of my quilt guild that I will not be attending our Wednesday night meeting and even suggested that it should be cancelled. Next was the hardest. I sent an email to my three best friends saying that I would not attend the lunch we had planned for this coming Saturday. We haven’t been together since the first week in December, which seems like years ago. This morning I received emails back from two of them saying that although it is killing them, they agree with me. I am sure that we will hear the same from our other friend sometime today (she is just slow answering emails). Please, everyone cancel everything you can and stay home. Lives are at stake, including yours! Thank you Mary for addressing this need.

    • Kathryn Darnell
      | Reply

      It’s raining here in in Oklahoma, the stock market is plunging and I can’t fix a thing. So I have a cup of coffee and make plans for the day. For the past two years I have been making my Lifetime of Inspiration quilt. Things people have said in my life that I hold deep in my heart. Being a child of the 60’s I love batiks. Using a block with machine embroidered phrase on plain muslin then a quilt block with wild batiks I am eager to cover myself with the words of Inspiration to warm my bones. “Never leave a job on Friday unless you have a job on Monday” sage advice from Mom. “Keep it sweet, keep it sweet” my Pastor’s wife.” And my favorite “Well behaved women rarely make history”. Right now I need Inspiration.

  3. Nancy Pederson
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    We find ourselves in the same position, Mary. Everything in my life’s schedule has been cancelled- except my appointment with the physical therapist and the Dr. So I will stay home and make quilts for Project Linus.

  4. Mary E Spriet
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    Maybe it is time for the world to slow down. Take stock of their chaotic life and appreciate the world around them. I just laugh at these parents that just don’t know what to do with their children that are home from school. That in itself is so indicative of the world we live in.

  5. Glenda
    | Reply

    The atmosphere hit me today. I’ve cancelled a flight attached to a family visit. The meal with the grandkids out is now an indoor pizza party. I’m assessing all the things I’ve put off in the house and I’m planning to cook, not make toilet paper crafts. For some one who has depression this is a time to take good care of ourselves and others in the process. Thanks for the note.

  6. Helen Marie
    | Reply

    So social distancing is here and I’m so fortunate to have our eldest daughter living close enough to drop off a cabbage or two avocados and pick up a couple of quart jars of my home made veg soup made with the bone broth from simmering marrow bones for our pups to share! And fortunate indeed to have friends as lonely as I to share a phone call or an email or a website with a quilt pattern or a video with appliqué instructions. Happy indeed that the sun is shining and that I got to speak with grandson Ben this morning and plan with him a cookout for the next day the temperature stays over 70! And thrilled to have Libby on my iPad so I can borrow books to keep my mind occupied when my arthritic thumbs don’t wanna hold the needle any longer (I have several quilts to bind). This too shall pass. Hopefully we will be better for it. Well, some of us. Love you Mary, and your mom, and Liz, and her daughter Katie (WOW)!

  7. Karen Weber
    | Reply

    Just cancelled lunch with my brother, his 83rd birthday…but we both decided there will be a better time, taking care of others and especially ourselves is a priority..we will get past this and lunch and the restaurant will be there when that happens..for me, back to quilting.

  8. elizabeth a hinze
    | Reply

    How can you stay home when you are a nurse? I would love to stay home I have no choice. I’m not
    complaining I’m just tired. I started my career with AIDS then SARS then other bad stuff. This one has hit
    me the hardest. I think it might be my age (60). Please pray for us that are dealing with the sick.

  9. Sara
    | Reply

    Since I already worked from home I was thinking I can handle this. Lots of practice. But this is different. Your description of the atmosphere is perfect.

  10. Lesley Gilbert
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    I love staying home; cutting and sewing fabric is such a pleasure – may as well start the Christmas present list and have an early finish for a change haha. Wishing you well 🙂

  11. Judy
    | Reply

    I was so glad to see your name in my email que then read that you are now married, how WONDERFUL and how great you got to be home with your new hubby during this weird time. I love reading all your posts but since you returned to my in box I have only received two so I re-submitted my request and hope that solves the problem. No matter what you write about I smile even if it is about most of our nation being on stay home orders. This gives a lot of us an excuse to do nothing or to quilt any time of the day. Thank you for returning and posting your previous articles on the side bar.

  12. […] from one of those as I was from my front door. I wasn’t panicking. I was simply enduring the mounting tension that was beginning to give the atmosphere a personality and I did not trust that personality. I wasn’t shaking, I didn’t feel like crying; it […]

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