A reflection of the times


It is deadline day.

This column is being written as the last thing I write for the May edition not because of procrastination, but because of that thing called writer’s block.

On a side note, I had a college professor once say journalists should never have writer’s block. Under nearly any normal circumstance, I would agree – there are millions of stories to tell.

But April certainly was not normal. Everybody had to do things a little differently, and that goes for print journalists as well. I never would have imagined that someday I would be conducting “socially distanced” newsgathering.

My guess is nearly everyone has experienced at least one dark moment at some point during this COVID-19 pandemic.

So, I would like to share a few positive stories that have lifted my spirits.

First, I am a recipient of a random act of kindness.

My live-in boyfriend is a musician — he plays gigs during normal times, but his income primarily comes from his “day job” stocking at the Dollar Tree. Sometime in the second week of April, a customer walked in and gave grocery store gift cards to all the employees as a token of gratitude for keeping the shelves stocked and the community supplied with essential needs — toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bandanas to serve as face masks — during this global health crisis.

The second story has to do with pets.

Near the beginning of this pandemic, a friend and I were having casual conversation and she told me our pets are going to help get us through because of their unconditional love. That is certainly true for me. I have two furballs, both Siamese-mix rescue cats. They do silly things to keep my spirits lifted, like sticking their paws under the bedroom door while I’m working in my “home office” all the while meowing as if asking me to come out and give them attention. Don’t they know I’m busy typing?

Of course, they’re irreplaceable in the evening hours when I’m not working. Their purrs are an instant relaxant, and remind me without words, “everything is going to be OK.”

Other than giving extra pets to my cats, I’ve been spending my time at home doing mostly normal things — reading, listening to music, playing video games, putting together puzzles, watching movies.

And listening to the 8 p.m. howling.

Which is the third story.

A few kids in my neighborhood — I assume they’re youths, as I’ve never actually seen them — started howling well before it became a thing. The stay-at-home order had just been announced, so for the first few nights, I thought it was just teens, walking along the busy street that my condo faces, “howling” for trouble. Then the TV news started broadcasting it as a way for people to thank the health-care professionals and first responders. Eventually, a Facebook group formed in which people from across the U.S. post the reason, or for whom, they howl each night.

I live on the third floor of my condo complex, so it has become routine to go out on my balcony, just after the sun sets every night, to listen.

And reflect on the times.


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