I’m not sure if it’s a curse or a blessing. Maybe both.

It’s now been over half of a year since we started our version of isolation. Ours is more strict than most because of all of my auto-immune issues so that means half a year with no going anywhere other than our house, our car, and Nowhere Bookshop once a week when no one else is there. We are very, very lucky that we have the ability to work and take classes from home and that we can have groceries delivered and that no one can see the bald-spots on the back of Victor’s head from where I continually slip up trying to learn to use clippers.

It’s not all bad. We three have been our only company with no breaks for 6 months and we still love each other slightly more than we want to strangle each other. Hailey learned to bake and joined an online D&D group and started writing and coding video games. Victor works too much and meets online with fellow japanese sword collectors to study and learn. We forget that Hailey is on a zoom class in the next room and laugh too loud as we yell inappropriate things at each other until Hailey comes out to make us behave. We make dumb jokes and search for shows to watch together and fight about the best way to load the dishwasher and wonder if this is a good thing or a bad thing. It’s both, I think.

And as for me? I read.

I work too. Not as much as I should because my head is everywhere and my ADD meds give me anxiety and I still haven’t conquered this stir-crazy cabin fever. You’d think that I would. I am an introvert. I love being home. I’m equally anxious for and anxious about a time when there is a vaccine and we can return to normal. I wonder if this is curing my agoraphobia or exacerbating it. I wonder if my friends and family are doing as well as they say they are. I wonder if I am as well.

But I’m lucky. For many reasons but also because I have an escape. I spend hours every day outside, reading. It has to be outside. I can escape from the house and feel the sun and forget that everything is strange. I sit in the swing in the backyard or the rocking chair on the porch or I put Dorothy Barker on a leash and go walk her as I read.

This was dangerous at first. You can’t watch for unmasked joggers if your head is in a book so instead I slowly pace my driveway as I read and Dorothy Barker pulls me from one side of the lawn to the other.

This morning a women and her small children walked by and the boy excited said, “Look! It’s the reading girl!”

It took a second to realize he was talking about me. I’ve become a small landmark in this strange time. I wondered if he thinks I’ve been cursed to read forever….some strange witch’s spell that makes me forever trapped in this too-small world. It’s not a curse though. I look down into other worlds. I visit with friends who only exist in books. I travel and delight and cry. I get to not be me…or be a better me. So maybe it’s a curse. But it’s also a blessing.

I try to remind myself that this six months has been the same. Some curse. More blessing. It makes it easier.

I hope you find it the same.

120 thoughts on “I’m not sure if it’s a curse or a blessing. Maybe both.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. We are also a high-risk household. Thankfully our government in Canada has been responsible. It allows us to be a little less militant in our response

    I hope a vaccine comes soon, and I hope that governments step in and make sure it’s affordable for all.

    These are scary times and I get by knowing I’m not the only one who hasn’t see a friend in months.

  2. I am so grateful that I am home with a husband who I also love slightly more than I want to kill (okay probably a lot more). I have gotten to spend more time with him. I’ve gotten to spend more time outside in my backyard. And we opened up our bubble a fair amount so that I can regularly see (and participate in the education of) my nieces and nephews and parents (not their education though).

  3. I love it! The Reading Lady! And I definitely agree this has been a year of both blessing and curses. Were it not for this quarantine, I would have quit my job because of the stress I was under. But now, working from home, things are a little easier in some areas and not so much in others. Life is a balance. Just keep being you Jenny! You are AMAZING!!

  4. I read when I walk every morning too. We live in a great neighborhood in San Antonio and have lots of deer and little traffic. When we first moved to this area 25 years ago there was an older woman who read when she walked. We called her the reading lady. Now I am the reading lady.

    I love the early morning time as the sun comes up. It’s a little cooler and the animals and birds are starting their day too. I walk and listen for a bit and then start to read on my phone about halfway through my walk.

    It’s healing. We very much need healing nowadays.

  5. your book club has saved my sanity during these past few months and I am forever grateful! LOVE LOVE LOVE all the picks…can’t wait for the next ones!

  6. For a while I had trouble focusing on a book. Reading was always my escape and I lost it when I needed it the most. I’m happy to say that lately I’ve been able to read more. It helps.

  7. I feel like there’s a children’s story to be told with Reading Girl as the main character. 🙂

    Much love to you and your family, Jenny!

  8. 6 months. It feels like so much longer. I wish I could figure out what to read, I used to love to lose myself in a book and forget the world exists. Now it feels like I can’t focus and nothing is interesting anymore. Social media has become a shit-show, friends attacking each other, strangers calling the worst of names.

    I’m jealous that you can spend time outside, it’s gotten too cold here to do so for any amount of time. As an introvert, I never thought I’d feel trapped by staying at home. Now I do. I don’t necessarily want to go anywhere, but I want to be able to, to have it be an option again. We are back under pretty strict quarantine because I have to stay healthy enough aka not catch covid, so I can have my 4th and 5th knee surgeries of the year. Being in a constant state of recovery, not being able to do the things I’d normally do, has made all this so much harder. I ended up on anti-depressants again for the first time in over 10 years. They make me feel like I am constantly battling a head cold which is not super great because about every other day I can convince myself I’ve caught covid.

    I keep trying to see the blessings in all this, and there are many, I just wish there were more blessings days than curse days.

  9. I have been teaching virtually for the past 2 weeks, and it’s been so wonderful to see my students’ faces (or ceiling fans, depending on their camera angle!). I didn’t realize how much I missed a routine and people until I started teaching again! It’s been a huge challenge, but I’m glad we’re doing it. I teach reading, so fellow Reading Lady here 🙂

  10. I’ve taken up crocheting. I haven’t left my house to do more then walk the dogs in what feels like forever. I may be loosing track of time and space. But I also know unfortunately my state has collectively lost their mind and we are in for a world of hurt as it gets cooler. Since our numbers are already on the rise

  11. Thank you for this.
    I’ve been self-isolating in NYC since 3/9 (except for when I go walk outside with a mask to the drugstore or wherever). I haven’t taken the subway since 3/8 and I haven’t been in the City since 3/7. I’m also an introvert. I keep in touch w/family and friends online and talking once a week. I am very thankful for the company of my cat. Though, if you ask her, she might be sick of me. I miss my friends in the city and I don’t know when I will see them or when I can fly to see my parents. I miss them too. It makes me incredibly sad to know that I probably won’t see anyone until there’s a vaccine and next year. I try to not think of that too much b/c it gets really, really depressing. I wonder how this is affecting me too—better or worse? I don’t know….

  12. That is your superhero name & power – THE READING LADY!!!! It could not be any more perfect. Leave it to a little kid to state the obvious. And yes – this virus as most definitely been both a blessing and a curse, luckily for my family it has been mostly a blessing.

  13. If it makes you feel any better, unmasked joggers and walkers are pretty low threat. They pass quickly. You might be able to leave the driveway. But then what would the neighbors say?

  14. High risk here, too. Almost lost my husband to a massive pulmonary embolism on Valentine’s Day. Our self-isolation started with that, slightly ahead of the pandemic. We’re also dealing with hazardous air quality on the west coast due to fires (sorry … if it’s drifting your way).

    We are grateful for the miracle of my husband’s life and are not about to risk it with poor behaviors. Groceries are delivered by a man who has become our personal hero and window to the world.

    The stuff going on around us can pull me down emotionally at times, but mostly I am coping. The gray skies from the smoke and haze is prompting me to paint and color, to bring my focus back to the spectrum of hues that life has been missing for many weeks.

    We are content, love each other. Love you, too!

  15. Hello Reading Lady (GREAT title) – We are also a high-risk house so we have been here for 6 months. I retired (it was not safe for me to be out delivering mail, we decided!) and my husband has just put in notice…he works from home but has decided we have “enough” money so we can retire…we hope. We are lucky to look out at the sea, not to be inhaling smoke like all our friends and family on the West Coast. We are healthy. We have not killed each other yet, I did a great job cleaning out the basement. (Don’t look in the study or guest room, though.) I have been reading non-stop (love the Strangelings suggestions) and the sad part, for my clothes, is cooking and baking a lot. We have a great library that does curbside; riding my bike there every day to pick up my new books helps the waistline…a bit. SO looking forward to the Reading Lady’s new book….can’t wait! Stay well and healthy and laugh when you can.

  16. Reading has been my biggest way of dealing with the pandemic also. I too have some health conditions that make going out scary. My highlight of the week is driving to the grocery store to pick up my online order. As I live alone I have to do certain things myself, like this, and getting my meds at the pharmacy. Had to take my car in for an oil change and smog check before getting it registered for another year and that was a day filled with anxiety and stress. But books definitely help, whether it’s discovering a new world or sliding into the relaxing familiarity of an old friend.

  17. We have been in strict self isolation since March as well. My mom lost her job and my side hustle screeched to a halt so we are down to just my husbands job. I feel so blessed he works for a good company that sent them all to work from home back in March as well. There are 5 of us and the struggle is real, but so is the love and strength! Its gotten rough these last few weeks with the fires snd smoke and not getting to go in the yard for a reprieve… the kids are 6 and 7 and dont fully understand whats wrong with the world… but they understand safety and health and board games and baking cookies so thats a win. Stay strong and stay safe!

  18. I feel like you could write a children’s series about the girl who was cursed to love books.

  19. First: I adore the new formatting that allows the blog to fit easily on my mobile phone. Honestly, I’ll get to read it more because it won’t be frustrating to get it to fit.
    Second: on the blessing/curse weirdness. My mom passed away immediately before the insanity (March 4). While being an adult orphan before my 42nd birthday was not a blessing at all, there are two blessings.
    My mom was an immense worrier, on top of GAD. I really, truly don’t know if she would have survived this mentally or emotionally. The constant worry about money, about all of us, about the world…. And on the flip side… We got our inheritances as jobs became uncertain, and my husband had a very serious motorcycle accident that he is still recovering from. We all have some financial stability we wouldn’t otherwise have.
    But at the end of the day? I miss my mommy intensely.

  20. I so appreciate you speaking about being introverted and this still being hard. As an introvert with an anxiety disorder this quarantine has been a roller coaster ride to say the least. I love this extra time with my amazing spouse and kiddo and fur friends, but damn, it has been a YEAR so far.

  21. Since I live alone my life didn’t change all that much. I’m 64 and do childcare for 2 different families who are as Covid cautious as I am so that has gotten me out of the house and kept income flowing in. So grateful. I have my Covid bubble of friends and we’ve kept each others spirits up. But I’m struggling now because my sister (who lives 2,000 miles away) is having major surgery on the 21st and I can’t be with her. The risk of me getting on a plane and bringing the infection to her is just too great. So I’m trying to accept that and know that my niece and her family will take excellent care of my sister. It’s still hard though 😕

  22. I feel like I don’t get to leave the house, ever. That’s not true, I am able to see my mother who lives a few blocks away, and I go to the grocery store, but that’s pretty much it. I live in California, so the time that I WAS spending outside reading is now inside reading. Outside makes such a huge difference in mental health. I have read more real books (hold in your hand, paper, bound) in the last six months that I had in the last six years. I had almost completely transitioned to eBooks, but the Fantastic Strangelings changed that. At least I have my books. They do keep me sane.

  23. We’re still staying home/social distancing. It’s hard to be physically distant from my 93 year old mother, but we do it to keep her safe. We talk to her multiple times a day & see her at least once a week, even if it’s only for a few minutes to pass off supplies. We’re happy to have some cooler days where we can meet her for a socially distanced picnic in a vacant parking lot for an hour or so. It’s not the same as being able to spend the day thrifting & having a nice lunch at Olive Garden or quick burger, but it’ll have to do. I hate it, but am glad we still have some time together.

    I hate all of this for our kids especially. But, we’re together & have enough food. We’re enjoying our time together (mostly). Board games, video games, homeschooling, crafts (including papier mache for Halloween – ugh! It’s so messy!), an occasional social distancing “playdate” with friends.

    I love your updates & that you are all safe & well. Can’t wait to get your new book!

  24. It has been so interesting as an introvert/home body to finally get what I dreamed of… Some of it I still love, but there have been things that I miss and days that I just need to get out. Thankfully my family only lives between 30 minutes and 3 1/2 hours away, so they are a nice way to get out but stay safe.
    Your book club has been the perfect excuse to read – which I probably wouldn’t have otherwise realized I needed. My meds haven’t been able to keep my depression at bay for the first time in 15 years, but I feel like the skills and self awareness that has come with battling it over the years, and finding internet friends like you have helped, a lot. Thank you!

  25. I too was more or less managing, until all of western Oregon caught fire. Now we can’t go outside because the smoke is catastrophically thick day after day. Promised rain and wind-shifts fail to materialize. At lease our house is intact. So far.

  26. This needs to be a new word…blurse? Curlessing? I’ll get there eventually but I really feel this too. I think if my children were older my introvert soul would’ve been much happier with this whole experience.

  27. Being outside — especially reading outside — has been saving my sanity in the isolation. But now, with air quality varying from “very unhealthy” and “hazardous” in our area and many areas of the west, even the sanctuary of outside is gone. I risk it every few hours to go laugh at my chickens. Who knew that chickens would ultimately be my sanity saver?

  28. It’s a mixed bag here, too. My husband and I have always been considered essential. I even have the official form to prove it. We have been at work since the beginning, although my schedule was all over the map for a while, and I was working 3 12-hr shifts in a row, then stayed home for 4 days. We’ve grown closer as a family, which is good, and I’ve found the time to start a little side hustle. But I’ve been tested for Covid twice and have had to be off from work for weeks at a time. I feel like God is trying to teach me to SLOW DOWN and to TRUST, two things I try to avoid when I can.

    One day this will pass. One day, I will be able to watch a movie where people kiss and not scream “SOCIAL DISTANCING!” Until then, I mask up and do my thing.

  29. It has been a strange time. As someone with chronic fatigue, I am used to being at home and being isolated. So it is interesting to see people experience the depression and anxiety that can happen for some people when they lack social contact. But what people are learning to deal with has been my life for more than three years now. And there is a part of me that feels real grief and pain when I see people using their extra time to organize their homes or develop new hobbies. I don’t have the energy to do that. Or adequate help and support to do more than eat and try to document financial and other crimes that are happening to me. So I weep for myself. But I don’t want to seem mean or unkind. It is fun to see people get excited about all kinds of new interests. I just wish they would choose to get interested in the well-being of disabled people.

  30. Our 18 year-old, Madeleine, has said that our weekly D&D sessions are about the only thing making all of this bearable. So we now have two simultaneous campaigns: one with friends, and one with just family as backup for when friends inevitably cancel. If this keeps up much longer, I’m convinced there will be some form of role playing in our house every night of the week.

  31. I’ve been working to one degree or another since mid-April, so I envy your isolation to some extent. I used the early days of the pandemic to develop very rigid mask and hand washing habits, so it’s automatic for me now. But I eat lunch in a storage room at the office because it’s the only place I can’t see another human being so I feel safe enough to take off my mask.

    I did drive from Chicago to St. Louis to get married in late May because my husband’s mother’s cancer was out of treatment options, so we got married in the back yard with 9 people – I wore a cocktail dress and he wore the same dark suit that he would eventually wear to her funeral a few weeks ago. But we’re still just as married as we would have been if we’d waited to have our dream Halloween wedding in a restored art deco theatre that is probably haunted anyway

    So hopefully one day we’ll be allowed to see our friends, we’ll declare a random day as Halloween and I’ll wear a big puffy black and silver dress and all our friends will come in costume and we’ll have a big party where we are actually allowed to hug each other.

    But for now, we learn how to be newly married in a world where we really can’t get away from each other further than a closed door if we need to and we’re both terrible cooks and he still can’t find a job – you know, just like real life, only smaller…

  32. I think it’s wicked cool that you are “Reading Girl!! What an awesome super hero! I’m just the Procrastinator Queen and I’m going to get fired if I can’t get 2 papers out by the end of the month. Then I’ll be Sad Basket-Case Waif.

  33. I’m an introvert Reading Lady, too! While I can’t read as much as I used to due to my disabilities, I still read while I walk up and down my hallway in my tiny condo apartment. I figure it protects me from dementia as I age due to my brain having to concentrate on two very different tasks at once. I can’t walk around outside my building due to all the people walking around our complex without masks on, since my autoimmune issue make me high risk. I feed my squirrels and birds with my neighbors in my building in my yard, but they are shut ins too, and are respectful of keeping apart when we don’t have our masks on. I have gone to the grocery store to get the things that the grocery delivery service didn’t deliver or have in stock, and people are generally masked there, but people don’t stay 6 feet apart, and all the stores removed the one way aisle markers this week, not that anyone paid attention to that anyway. My husband has to work with the public, so we can’t spend time with our parents, and it’s really hard. I miss spending time with them and hugging them. He is really struggling with depression and anxiety aggravated by the current state of everything in this crazy time. The smoke from the west coast fires are reaching us in the northeast, and are creating bad air quality. The waves and rain from the hurricanes in the Atlantic and the Gulf always hit us at some point. We keep getting more tornados in our area. Between the global warming related tornados, fires and hurricanes, and the political and personal belief insanity storms online and in the media, and the pandemic and the insanity around that issue, our whole world is upside down and inside out. Reading and walking and enjoying outside safely as much as possible and following positive people like you are what keeps me going with as little anxiety as possible in this current state of the world. Sending my positive thoughts and compassion to all my fellow Stranglings who are in this struggle together.

  34. My husband has been forced to return to work. It’s high risk of exposure job. As our sole income, he has no choice. I kinda want to barf if I think about it too much.

  35. I feel the same, Jenny. Curse and blessing all mixed together. I escape into books (as I have all my life, but even moreso—who knew that was even possible). I am very lucky in that I was able to take a retirement package offered by the college where I’ve worked for the past 28 years, so I have more time to read and watch shows like The Office that take me other places, and I don’t have to go anywhere I don’t want to go. But…I do have days where I feel a bit lost and unmoored, wanting to find a new way to matter/make a difference in the world outside my four walls…but none of the options are consistent with staying healthy/avoiding COVID. I turn 64 in November, have high blood pressure and had some heart issues in the past, so my dream retirement jobs/volunteer options (part-time work in a library, rocking NICU babies, book lady in the hospital, school aide, etc) will have to wait and I’ll need to find another way to find a new, safe, purpose. In the meantime, I’m trying new/old recipes (I’m 1 for 4 so far), enjoying the freedom of being my own boss, and reminding myself how very fortunate I am as I crack open another book from my massive TBR pile (or NetGalley pile…I am enjoying writing reviews for those advance copies I’ve been given.) And snuggles with my cat partner-in-crime, Daisy Mae, of course!

    Sending love from PA!

  36. You’re doing awesome, and Hailey is growing up into the inevitably amazing human we all knew she would be with you and Victor as her parents.

  37. I feel the ADD med related anxiety, friend. Especially now, it makes me feel like climbing out of my skin! Reading is my medicine of choice too 😉

  38. “Small landmark in this strange time.” Such an apt description of anything we do that marks time in ways other than days and weeks.

  39. I am an introvert too, and SUPER agoraphobic.

    I’ve got through the last while by reminding myself of the following:

    Cats love boxes. They’d spend their whole life in a box, sleeping, if they could.

    It’s different when you pick up the cat and try to put it in the box though, than when they enter it of their own accord.

    Much like introverts being ordered to stay at home. 😂💜

  40. 1. Your store would be the perfect place to actually have open right now. “Where are you going?” “Nowhere.” Answer to those health quizzes at some of the businesses that are open: “Where have you been lately in public?” “Nowhere.” Have you ignored your voluntary quarantine orders? “I have gone Nowhere.”

    2. If I read while walking, I would be laid up with a broken leg or something. I applaud your mad skills.

    3. We are in Oregon, fortunately far enough away from any fires to be in danger, but our AQI levels for smoke have been ranging between 300-500 (with 300 being hazardous) with no signs of improving for another week, minimum. So going outside ain’t fun and also requires a mask even if alone.

  41. I’m an introvert with a congenital heart problem I was “lucky” enough to be born with. Thank god my employer lets me work from home. I do miss my co-workers and being a part of their lives. But I don’t mind being at home. There’s always something for me to clean or organize and because I work in real estate and escrow, my work is booming. I’m waiting for a vaccine so I can go to work and hopefully travel. I’m already wondering how we will do the holidays since we get together with hubby’s family and I’m afraid to do that now. Today I sent my daughter to her first day of school. She only goes two days a week and everything else is online, but she does so much better in-person because of her ADD. I’m praying she don;t bring home any germs. We’ll get through this and 6 months to a year is nothing compared to the rest of our lives.

  42. I wish I could read. The stress of losing my job and being unable to find another job that would pay me the wages I need to pay all my bills and keep my house make my brain unable to concentrate on a book. For months I could only watch shows or movies and it had to be stuff I had already watched before. I can now focus on new shows and movies if I’m in a certain mood but still struggle with even the thought of picking up a book. And I generally love to read. I keep marking a bunch of your recommendations in my goodreads want to read list but still I struggle. Perhaps someday.

  43. Being an introvert and one who loves to read, never thought I would mind having to stay inside but due to all the smoky, hazardous air am starting to feel trapped. Plus it’s finally starting to cool off (well, down under 100 anyway) but still can’t turn off the A/C or open windows so that sux. Starting to forget what a blue sky rather than an ashy white/gray one looks like…

  44. We are also strictly isolating and haven’t been able to be outside for three weeks due to the air quality (we are in California and have ash falling and wildfire smoke in the air). I’m surprised at how much harder the last three weeks have been compared to the rest of the last six months.

  45. I’m much like you in that I haven’t left my house except for medical reasons/tests. I love being alone and don’t mind the solitude. My hubby is an essential worker so that’s worked out nicely for us financially. I spend a lot of time online but I’m content with how this is all going. I’m glad you’re doing mostly well with your family!

  46. Reading this thread is a great reminder that we’re all in this together (separately). It’s heartening to read of other folks’ struggles and how they’re coping.

  47. I live alone, and other than a weekly trip to the grocery store and a visit to the pharmacy every 3 months I rarely see people in person but lots of people virtually. This is week #28 of working remotely. Some of the advantages for me- I was able to take the training classes to volunteer with CASA because they were remote, had I been required to drive to Manchester 2-3 days a week after work, I couldn’t have done that. I’ve gotten more comfortable being on video calls out of necessity, which has made me realize I don’t actually look as horrible as I thought. I’ve watched amazing wildlife out of my home office window. I’m more appreciative of what I have and that’s always a good thing. All in all, I’m good. (Well other than that day I convinced myself I had COVID because I couldn’t smell my perfume, only to realize I was spritzing myself with my glasses cleaner) but hey, everyone does that, right?

  48. I worry that even if the vaccine comes, it won’t work for everyone and things will stay messed up forever. I can’t sleep more than a few hours before I have to check the news. As the Queen Introvert, (yes, I have a crown) I like reading and watching with my husband but I personally think it’s making my anxiety and agoraphobia worse. I’m even afraid to work; I keep trying but I sit down and just stare at the screen, scared to get marketing and pull in some business. My head feels full of cotton: anyone else?

    No progress on the book and the short story in my head is afraid to come out. Sometimes I’m even scared to sit outside on the back porch and stare at the garden we lovingly planted in the spring.

  49. I’m jealous! My husband has two kinds of cancer (plus kidney disease caused by his cancer), so we are also doing very strict quarantine. I actually go grocery shopping, but it’s very stressful being around all those people, so not much fun. I, too, loved to go outside to read and crochet, but here in California the air is so bad from all the smoke this past month that outside is not possible. I’m going stir crazy being cooped up inside all the time!

  50. I was enjoying working from home and seeing more of my teenage son so long as I had the option of getting outside whenever I wanted. Now, going on week 2 of “unhealthy” to “off the charts hazardous – don’t even LOOK outside” air quality due to wildfires, the depression is getting to me. Especially since we’rewatching our beloved wilderness (which had been a Covid-safe refuge so long as you avoided crowds) is literally going up in smoke and we have no idea what’s going to be left when the smoke clears. And our only consolation is “at least we still *have* a house to hide out in, and I still have a job to support us all. For the first time in my life I’m having real trouble finding any kind of silver lining. I just want to curl up and go to sleep for 2 months until the rains comes and the election is over. We’re in survival mode and the only thing keeping me from totally falling into the deep abyss of depression is the handful of magical little pills lined up on my counter every morning. As I was driving my immune compromised hubby to the doctor (first time he’s been out of the house in months) yesterday for scary diabetic complications (and to get a Rx for anxiety); I joked “$10 bucks says there’s a shortage of Xanax, too!” and he laughed until he cried. If it weren’t for dark humor we’d have no humor at all 🙂 Went to the local marijuana store for the first time ever the other day. They’ve been deemed “essential businesses” and are seeing record sales. I have lots to be grateful for – my amazing son is totally unfazed by all of this and still has aspirations of changing the world. So there’s much to be grateful for… but I’m having a hard time finding much to be hopeful for. Oh.. and started menopause too (I think) so my hormones are just amplifying everything.

    Someone pelase say it’s going to get better??

  51. I love this and I love you and I’m happy to know there is a reading girl in the world, pacing her driveway with her furry companion ever at her side. Even if this is the way the world turns from now on we will survive with long distance hugs and messages. Thank you Jenny!

  52. I love this! I love that you are the reading girl. Before current events I would walk the indoor track on our campus in the evening with my kindle if it wasn’t crowded. For some reason I can only do it with a kindle, not with a printed book. Whenever I am stressed I read more. Any break, long line or after work is the perfect time to read. The last couple of years have been rough, so my Goodreads count has been in the 150-175 range. I thought it would be interesting to see if I could close in on 200 this year. Thanks to the stress of a pandemic, no travel, living solo and not seeing my family, I broke the 200 mark over the weekend and it’s only September! I’m not sure if I should celebrate this achievement or worry about what it means. Some books have made me giggle, laugh hard, cry even harder, hate people in our history, love people in our history, walk away with new knowledge or walk away after a lovely adventure or brain break. Either way, I love reading and I’m glad that at least we have books during this crazy time.

  53. I am blessed that I work in a barn full of horses that, to my knowledge, do not have covid. I’m also blessed in that during this quarantine is when I discovered you as an author. It’s quite possible that Furiously Happy saved my life. So, thank you for that.

  54. This is also a high-risk home because I found out at the start of the pandemic that, oh, hey, I now have an autoimmune disease. Wait, wot? Yeah, I broke out in this horrible rash in April. It was painful. It was a little itchy. It felt like fire ants were crawling all over the affected parts (my face, both hands, parts of my wrists, one foot, and part of the ankle attached to said foot).

    Diagnosis: dyshidrotic eczema.

    All the questions: Allergies? Yes. Asthma? Yes. Prone to illness? Yes. Anxiety & stress? Oh hell yes. Ever had signs of eczema in the past? Uhhhh… no, don’t think so? Ahhh, all those winters with the sore, red, bumpy skin across my knuckles wasn’t just dry skin from the winter weather? It was this issue? Ohhhhhhh.

    So yeah, between the autoimmune disease and asthma, I’m in a high risk zone.

    I’ve been working from home for six months and it looks like I’ll be doing so for at least another 8 since classes have been announced to be online for not just this term but also next term now. Beyond that, I have no idea. If there’s a vaccine, I guess I’d be back in the office at the university library. If there isn’t, but we’re expected back, I am guessing a discussion between me, my doc and HR will have to happen.

    I’ve been working, crocheting/knitting, and drawing/painting (digitally)! I haven’t picked up a sketchbook in over a decade or more. It feels so good to get back into it again. Because I don’t have that commute back and forth, nor all the walking around in the building, I have energy to do these things now. (I also have a mobility-based disability, which makes walking painful/hard.)

    All this to say you aren’t alone.

    I’m so happy that you are here… and you are “the reading girl” for that kid and mom. Thank you for being here. Thank you for being YOU. And thank you for making it normal to stay and work/relax at home and be okay with that. <3 Love you for all this and more, Jenny!

  55. My husband and I have started hiking almost every day. We had no idea how many conservation areas there were in our very own town and are up to hiking 3-4 miles every day. It definitely helps. Dreading winter.

  56. It’s been mostly a blessing for me. When we first started quarantine, I was SO happy because I was dealing with a massive pain in the butt (literally. I broke some of the muscles in my butt. 10/10 would not recommend) and a boss who was getting more and more tired every day of me not being able to do my job properly because I was in SO much pain. Quarantine has been a blessing because it gave me much needed weeks (nay, months) off to heal and find another job with a less assholey boss.

    It’s also been a bit of a curse because my teenage son is sick of seeing my face and has been extra teenagery and grumpy as of late. I forgive him though…this is a rough time for all of us.

  57. Thank you for this. Like you, I have an auto-immune disease and I’m still being extra careful. And like you, I’m also anxious for and anxious *OF* the day we go back to roaming freely. Someone said that means I’m pro-virus — like I want the virus to win. No! It’s just that I truly can’t imagine a day that doesn’t feel dangerous. My friends have already gone back to normal, and invited me to a girls’ spa weekend that I had to turn down. I thought it sounded crazy but I know they think I am the crazy one, living in fear. But this is truly scary.

  58. My two HS seniors missed the last quarter of their last year in high school, and also grad night, prom night, senior skip day (unless this quarantine is the best senior skip day ever) and graduation. They are now online at two different universities and doing as best they can given the circumstances. Son is happily writing code, daughter does online D&D as well (she’s a great storyteller), and we spend almost every evening watching shows together (finished The Umbrella Academy and are now rewatching The West Wing because we need to remember what it’s like to have a leader in the White House). I’m starting to cook more (Hubby usually cooks). He’s been learning new cocktail recipes (Boulevardier, anyone?) My graphic-design-for-non-profits design studio is sloooow, but I’ve learned to love the down time. I am putting together a promo piece (my first EVER) and discovering that I’m really good at what I do! I miss live music, and new restaurants, but I can wait this thing out. See you in the After Times.

  59. We are lucky we are able to work from home and the house is big enough we can get away from each other when we are annoying. My biggest issue is that I can’t concentrate, which means I can’t read new books! I have a pile of books to read and I can’t stick with them (incl Mexican Gothic, which I love but just can’t finish). I’m going a little mad from this. I have been rereading to keep sane. It is sorta like visiting old friends, you know what I mean?

  60. Another introvert who has been home found since March. My nephew was surprised when I told him by phone that it is driving me crazy. I told him I like to have the option to go places and because I am high risk, I no longer have that option.

    To make matters harder for me, my cat of 8 years suddenly got very sick a month ago. A week in to treatment, the decision was made that she was not going to get better and she crossed the Rainbow Bridge. She was my best friend and confidante. Now it feels weird to talk to myself.

    I am in a small town so I have to drive for grocery pick up. I treat myself to tea at a drive through when I do that.

    I did have a medical procedure. I had to be tested for covid. I was negative. I had made arrangements with my nephew that I would continue isolation after the procedure and go visit his newborn when I felt well enough. That plan went to h*ll when my sister, who drove me to and from the procedure, tested positive for covid. Nephew and his wife required negative covid tests to meet the newborn. So then I had to quarantine for 14 days.

    I did get to visit the newborn overnight. I had to go when I went because baby’s passport arrived and they were able to move to Canada for jobs that had been waiting for the passport to arrive so they could travel.

    I am really missing live music. A musician I like does a weekly 45 minute concert. Those are lifesaving.

    I am finally realizing this winter is going to be like the last 6 months so I am digging in to genealogy.

    I’m hoping that will keep my mind occupied.

    I do my shrink appointments via telehealth. At least I get to see who I am talking to during that time.

    I will not be doing anything risky until there is a safe vaccine and it keeps looking farther and farther in to the future.

  61. I too find that my husband and myself love each other more than we want to strangle each other. I’m a bit surprised by this – mostly on my side. It’s teaching me that I do love him as much as I’ve always said.

    Cheers to “the reading girl”!! Girl, reading, what could be wrong with that?

    Our town is currently in the smoke of the west’s fires. We have a weather inversion – no air movement! – that won’t disperse the smoke. So we are now not only not seeing anyone, but not getting to go outside at all. But I connect with friends online and read your funny words and laugh (if not breathe deeply). Thank you.

  62. Thanks Jenny! I feel exactly the same. I have inflammatory disease and my 19 yo has asthma, so we’ve been in quarantine since March. I’m the designated go-outer because I’m the most anal (and a control freak), but it’s a huge stress and my family has learned that whatever I come home with is what there is. Like you, my refuge was being outside. Out in the yard, out in the chair I bought, out in my new garden, out working on an art project, and of course out for walks. But for the last month the California fires and smoke have made outside off limits. My small world got even smaller. It’s been an added layer of stress for my whole family, and we tend to hide away from each other a good part of every day. The bright side is that when the air clears we’re really looking forward to normal lockdown again 🙂

  63. I’ve been binging tv shows. I finally got to watch good omens thanks to a 30 day trial of amazon prime video. I loved it so much. I’ve been reading and thanks to the library having digital books I didn’t spend all my money. It’s been a crazy year and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it this far but I keep going making lil goals to keep me going.

  64. What is a good resource for researching Japanese swords? My late Dad had one and we don’t know where it came from or if it is worth anything?

  65. I’m so jealous – it seems I’ve lost the ability to read. It was my escape for over forty years (can’t remember when I started lol) I’m so sad and feel off…

  66. I am at very high risk (lupus, IBS, diabetes, now a major operation reconstructing my knee which means very high risk of infection for up to four years from now). And yet we live where there is no grocery delivery, no prescription delivery, and soon my husband will have to go back to work … at Best Buy. Where they’re letting in customers and he will have contact with them (so to speak).

    I’m terrified.

    So far I’m in the house, but he comes home from shopping and of course he’ll soon be coming home from work. I can’t protect myself from that.

    Did I say I’m terrified?

    My psychiatrist says I need to concentrate on “the now” and that my anxiety isn’t any more than anyone else’s, given the circumstances of the world. But I have a hard time believing her and I don’t think she’s taking me seriously. I’m really fucking terrified.

    When my knee is healed, I also need to go back to work … running my bookstore. Even closer contact with people than my husband has. My bookstore is tiny: six feet away from people is impossible in our narrow aisles, and when people come in the door, they’re right in my face where I will be sitting in an armchair (‘cause – bad knee healing).

    Yup, really fucking terrified.

  67. To # 69, I am so so sorry you lost your kitty. Our furry friends help us through so much.

    I’m an introvert too who is hating but liking staying home. It’s weird.

    Sitting at an appropriate distance with all other Strangelings who would like some company (wearing my unicorn mask).

  68. i think you should print out some of the most appropriate drawings from YOU ARE HERE & give them to that boy to color, or just to enjoy. You never know what you might inspire! plus, you will also be the drawing girl!

  69. I don’t think I could read and walk at the same time. I’d probably run into something or someone. I’m not sure we will go back to the way it was before even with a vaccine, it maybe hard for everyone to get one. I think about young children and how they have to deal with this fearful normal. I think it’s time to reorder our lives. Change is hard and many people are so afraid that they can’t accept what’s happening, but it’s an incredible opportunity to grow and evolve. I’m grateful that I have a home and family to weather this storm with.

  70. Oh and to the barn worker, same here. The horses keep me sane and peaceful and I’m always outside, even through this smoky CA air.

  71. I’ve been deemed “essential” as an emergency vet tech, and was told by Management that if we refused to come in we would be fired. So I still work, despite my severe asthma. Initially, clients were so happy we were open when all of the regular vets were closed, now we are getting hostile push back about why we won’t let clients in the building, why they have to stay in their cars (the worst stand, maskless, staring through the Employee Entrance door literally 6″ from the glass), and I was told by one maskless entitled woman in a $60k luxury SUV that since we’re “profiting” from being open, we should accept the risk of getting covid from our clients. So far the only thing that has placated some people is explaining that if WE get sick, we close, and then they have nowhere to bring their pets. We also take a calculated risk to allow owners (masked only) to be present for euthanasia. Many staff members have immunocompromised family members and we are all scared. We’re also severely understaffed so most are working 4 12-hour shifts a week.

    My mom died of cancer in January and the only blessing has been that she died in hospice and I was there. Were she still alive she would probably have died of covid due to the chemo destroying her immune system, and she would have died alone.

    My anxiety is through the roof and the only solace I find is rereading the Harry Potter series over and over. I only leave the house for groceries and work.

  72. We too have been fortunate enough to be able to shelter in place, and have everything delivered. I only spend time in my house and gardens. The silver lining is that we have spent much more time together as a family, now that everyone isn’t rushing off to various activities all of the time. We have been playing Gloomhaven as a family, which is extra nice because it is a game my children can play that doesn’t involve any additional screen time. We also got into the habit of reading together outside each evening before bed. Unfortunately, the air has been unbreathable for the last few weeks (I’m in CA), which REALLY made me feel trapped, because I couldn’t even go outside. But it looks like the wind has changed, and there is fresh air outside for the first time in almost a month, and I think I will spend all of tomorrow outdoors.

  73. I dont know what I am. This is interesting. My immune system is also overactive. My anxiety is at its highest its been since March and April. Retail therapy ended this month when I had to adress some long standing work needed on myself and my car.
    This is something to meditate on. What will I get out of being in quarantine? What will I be remembered for?

  74. I live in one of the most irresponsible states and it makes me so sad that so many people around me are contributing so strongly to all of this. I am so proud of you and your family for your continued isolation. We are hugely limiting outings to groceries every 2 weeks, and very rarely a trip to another necessity store, and of course, work (riskiest of all, healthcare). I wish I knew more people who were limiting and isolating-it gets hard to have so many people here not believe in covid or thing it’s a joke, including family members.

  75. I love this. I love “the reading girl”!
    We aren’t strictly quarantined where we live, but have pretty much kept to ourselves. It’s changed our daily routines; it’s changed our eating habits; it’s changed our relationships with neighbors, but I’d say mostly for the good.

  76. Another introvert on pretty strict lockdown here.
    Our college kid is home with us too. His school is in California and I am not sure I will ever be brave enough to send him back!
    On the topic of nicknames… I started a new job several years ago and one of my co-workers told me that her family knew me as “Tie Dye Lady” from seeing me walk the kids to school wearing tie dye every day. Also Shayne Smith does a great bit in Dry Bar Comedy about his nickname: https://youtu.be/Z-my1S92kMU

  77. My book recommendation: The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen. Beautiful writing, and so much more than just a story.

  78. I love “the reading girl.” Maybe that’s a statue to make for the sidewalk in front of Nowhere Bookshop. So many of us are so lucky (so many are not), and even being able to take something good, some ritual, some experience that will make a fond memory is so fortunate. My heart goes out to the whole dang world right now.

  79. If nothing else, maybe you becoming a “small landmark” will encourage another small child to become an avid reader! Therefore, in my book, this is a blessing. (Pun intended).

  80. Of all the things a person could be known as, The Reading Girl is one to aim for. Good for you! (in all the ways)
    I am reading too, all the time. I noticed that I tend to just re-read things I know and love, for comfort. So I try to ignore the nagging voice in my mind that reminds me of all the books on my to-read-for-the-first-time list, and appreciate the knowledge that my list of loved, comforting books is so so long.
    Take care Jenny and keep writing to us.

  81. Reading has always been my safety zone and sanity zone. I live in the fire zone on the Oregon coast so this last week was heart wrenching. As an introvert being quarantined has not been too stressful so far. But being cooped up due to the wall of smoke was horrid. Even I was pacing in the house. The sky was partly cloudy when I went to the store yesterday. It was amazing to be able to smell non smokey air. And watch the hummingbirds joust.

  82. First of all, I’ll bet that little boy thinks you are ultra cool (because you are). Second, there is this one amazing comedian named Jackie Kashian who was a great reader in high school and she was known as the girl who reads. I got a badge from her that says this and if I can find it I’m going to ask for your address so I can send it to you. It is a Badge of Honor!

    As always, I love you, Jenny! I’ve ordered your new book and look forward to having you sign it when you are on your next tour!

  83. Being reading girl anywhere is the best role to have. And I have to give a shout-out to Hailey on joining a D&D game, I started playing in jr high and have desperately missed my gamer family since all of this started since we haven’t been able to have conventions and they are all over the country and the world.

  84. So glad to hear from other introverts that even though this is our dream come true (HOME!) we’re all out of sorts and muddled up. I can’t read much as I can’t see our of my “new” reading glasses unless I pull them low on my nose and that messes up the prism in them so my eyes hurt. I complained to the eye doc about the inability to read in my reading glasses and he set the focal point as if I were looking forward about 18 inches out….. Like who reads a book at arm’s length?!!! Turns out he thought I meant reading on a computer. I was so mad about that I could spit. I did learn, the next pair is coming from another doctor and I’m going to be specific that I read looking down AT A BOOK! snort… pfft

  85. YAY FOR DRUGS sorry did I say that out loud oops. I literally (and yes I’m using it correctly) would not be here anymore were it not for illicit substances, as I have a deadly, maddening combination of misophonia and screaming tinnitus along with other miserable chronic stuff. I’m glad I’m older, and don’t have to care about addiction anymore cos I’m not going to get treated for anything like cancer. A blessing?: YAY FOR SUGAR I get to eat as much as I want of the loveliest of all the poisons. Don’t be sad I had a good run and it really is amazing that I’m still here. My hubby gets it and understands I’m gonna have to self-deliver at some point and has given his blessing. (Yes we are unusual but very much in love and he knows things are getting pretty tough for me now…) here I come tiramisu, ice cream, choco cupcakes, pb cookies, tres leches cake, yum yum yum

  86. BTW, for anyone who is truly struggling with tinnitus, there is no cure, but there is one clinically proven method that can help weaken the fight-or-flight response you are probably experiencing: Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. I still have bad days, but at least I can tune it out and have a life once in a while. No talk therapy can break that neurological pathway, once it is formed. (It is very akin to PTSD). It takes broad-band sound generators and time, but it saved my life. (Most people just shrug those screaming noises off, but some of us are simply not built that way, due to sensory processing disorders.)

  87. This is wonderful! It reminds me of a “reading girl” in my neighborhood when I lived in Japan. Every morning and afternoon you could find her reading while walking to and from school. On rainy days she’d stick an umbrella between her back and her backpack so she could hold her book with both hands. Definitely a local landmark who was missed when she graduated…

  88. Disclaimer for comment #99: kids under 50, just say no to drugs! Besides, off-label use of Metamucil ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

  89. I went ahead and decided to get breast cancer last year. Truth be told, not my decision, but at least I got it out of the way before I turned 40. After surgery and radiation, I got the all clear. I’m about to turn 41 and can’t help but think of all the people that didn’t get through it as quickly as I did, or at all. I still get ravaged by anxiety that, OMG I had cancer! Is it odd that I get anxiety thinking about how “good” I had it? It was a scary, shitty situation, but I got through it with a couple tiny scars and a lot of tears. Is it survivor’s guilt? Why did I have it so much easier than others? Long story, I know, but when people look at me, they don’t think, wow I bet she had cancer. They look at a healthy looking almost 41 year old and all I can think about when I see unmasked people, is how selfish they are. I go out rarely, and always wear a mask around people. My logic is, wear a mask because you have no idea what other people have been through. If you made it this far, thanks for reading. If you didn’t, screw you because you won’t ever read this part!

  90. It’s been weird. Reading sounds heavenly. I get to that evenings and some weekends, when I can. I am one of those frontline healthcare workers, so it’s been quite the year. I’m not in nursing, god bless them! I’m a Lab Director, lots and lots of Covid testing. But, we can do this, we can take care of each other and use the talents we have to continue life and find a different happiness. I refuse to say new normal, just no.
    I think time with the people you love is always a blessing. Even when you almost want to strangle them.

  91. I love that you have become a town landmark… We have a “running lady” in our town. She’s an older woman, and she’s like the post office – whether rain, sleet, snow, or 95 degrees, she runs. Multiple times a day. When my kids see her run by they say “hey, it’s the running lady!” We have since learned her name and have chatted with her a bit about gardening. But she is still the running lady. It is only apt that you are the reading lady.

  92. I think it’s so amazing that Hailey is writing and coding video games! That shit is hard. Kudos to her!
    Glad that the love between you and Victor is stronger than the need to strangle (I think every couple deals with this, lol).
    Since I’ve been out of work since March, I’ve read so many books. It restores my sanity (well, at least a bit). I’m also very introverted and like being home more than anywhere else, and I feel that this quarantine/isolation has definitely led me to be more agoraphobic. I want to go places much less now. It’s going to be hard to overcome once I get a job again. I’m thinking of looking for one where I can work remotely 100% of the time.

  93. So I just checked my GoodReads stats and I’ve read 92 books since March 15. That’s perfectly normal right? Even though I am full time taking care of a 4 and 2 year old? I mean, how else do you stay sane when someone is screaming because the sky is blue or Dad forgot to kiss them before heading upstairs to work? Yeah, I’m thanking the Lord for a few good books this year.

  94. I’m back to work in a school. We are wearing masks and I was working across the desk with someone. She was making changes on her computer as I worked from the copy. I told her a change and then said “OMG that’s night right, sorry.” And I touched her arm with my pointer finger!!! I TOUCHED her ARM. The feel of the warmth of her skin stayed on my finger for hours. It was a natural response in ‘normal days’. I thought about it off and on for the rest of the day. I haven’t had contact with anyone else’s skin since March. So weird. The little things.

  95. Jenny,

    I am struggling and wanted to thank you for writing because reading your blog always make me feel a little less alone.

    My mom died on April 4th and at 31 years old, I was not ready to lose my mom. She was only 53. She had cancer for 12 years and it spread to her brain. The hardest part was not being allowed to be with her. I only got to see her once in hospice because she was at a nursing home. I held her hand and we laughed together, but she was not all there anymore. The nursing home wouldn’t let me see her after that so I stood outside her window with a picture I drew of us, telling through the glass how much I love her. It’s been 5 months and I still miss her daily.

    Sorry for the over share, I just can’t talk about this with anyone because no one wants to hear it when they’re dealing with their own pandemic hardships.

    Thanks for always shining your weird light. I

  96. Hi Jennica…#99, 100, and 102 here. I’m not Jenny but I just wanted to let you know I see you. Like you, I am struggling, but while mine is like getting poked nonstop with a dull pin, what happened to you was cataclysmically terrible. I can’t even begin to imagine having to face that combination of circumstances on top of the world crumbling. I’m so sorry, that’s a lot for a person to bear.

    Something I’m thinking of doing is using one of the help lines that have become available that are not strictly suicide-oriented…can anyone recommend one? Also, if you have access to a therapist, I recommend giving that a try. It’s not right for me: I would either have to lie about being suicidal or end up hospitalized for it. (I think it’s wrong to classify *all* suicidal people as irrational, and look at the way it bars me from treatment that might have helped me want to stick around for a while longer. [Hi, Jenny…there are *some* instances where depression doesn’t lie…])

    So, Jennica, I feel for you, I’ll be thinking about you, and I know it’s tough feeling like you can’t talk through it with someone. For example, here’s my husband, when my tinnitus is screaming bloody murder or my heart is breaking over the world falling apart: “I don’t know what to say.” But give one of the pros or dedicated amateurs a try, see if it doesn’t help a a little. With love from a fellow tribe member.

    (The funny thing is, I bared my heart here, and probably no one will read it since it’s a late comment. The Internet lacks object permanence sometimes, doesn’t it? Oh well.)

  97. To anonymous #112, thank you for replying to me. There is something about a total stranger saying they see me that is oddly comforting. Tinninitus sounds hard to live with as well. My partner also doesn’t know what to say when I’m falling apart. It’s nice to know there’s a tribe I can be a part of when the whole world feels like it’s splitting at the seams.

  98. You’re not a total stranger, you’re my lovely new friend and a member of my tribe 😉 but since I have just logorrhea’d all over this page, sorta incriminating myself and practically begging to be put on a medical hold, just call me Jenkins.

  99. Chiming in for a book recommendation – Milkman by Anna Burns. The main character walks around her Irish town always with her nose in a book. Her neighbors think her very strange. 😉

  100. One of my proudest moments was being recognized in the grocery store by a young library patron….. “Look mom, it’s the library guy!”
    I retired before the pandemic and I miss my job something fierce.

  101. “Reading Girl” is a great way to be known in the neighbourhood. We live in a rural area and we have ‘waving guy’ and ‘chicken man’ that we watch for all the time. Waving guy gives us a huge wave whenever we move our vehicle into the far lane when we pass him as he’s walking. Not just a wave, but a huge wave that starts down low, goes over his head and to the other side. Like a full 180. Chicken man is an elderly guy who walks really fast, carrying big dumbbells, and he looks down at the road and bobs his head up and down as he walks. Like a chicken, but so hard I don’t know how he doesn’t give himself whiplash. When I see them, all is right in our world. I was training for a half marathon last year, and I’m not very fast. I suddenly realized that maybe my neighbours watch for ‘slow running lady.’

  102. I’ve started reading Dune because of the new movie coming out with Jason Mamoa in it. It’s good. Timeless. I also am showing signs of having a low thyroid and since 90% of low thyroid is caused by Hashimoto’s… I likely have that too. If you have a trusted one stop shop of good information on low thyroid, I would appreciate it if you could share the source. Books are the best part of 2020. 🙂 I hope to visit your bookstore some day.

  103. You should read The Milkman by Anna Burns. The protagonist is a woman who reads while walking and this is a big problem for her community, where everyone judges everyone for everything and they call people who don’t conform “beyond the pale.”

Leave a Reply