I just found out that a friend’s mom died today from coronavirus. The friend is someone I met when Zoe and her son were in preschool together, and I haven’t seen her in a while, but I met her mom and I know how close they were. And this reminds me that it could easily have been my mom.

Three other people I know have lost loved ones to COVID-19 so far, but of course there will be more.

Randy remarked earlier that it’s like a slow-motion September 11. But on such a massively larger scale. I remember after September 11 when I was at work and I would often have to make calls to people I didn’t know and the first thing anyone would say to each other was, “Did you know anyone…” and if you were calling someone in New York, “Where were you? Did you see it happen?” But this thing just goes on and on and you can’t be horrified all the time but you can’t pretend it isn’t happening either.

I’ve read a lot of articles lately advising people not to try to be particularly productive during the quarantine or undertake a new project or create something new. I think these cautions are a backlash against overzealous memes that appeared when everything started to close down, like calculus was invented during the plague or some composer wrote his greatest symphony while people were dying from the flu. No pressure or anything.

Unquestionably I agree that we shouldn’t feel required to achieve greatness just because we’re stuck inside for the foreseeable future. But I also see the value in trying to do something–anything–to shake loose from the constantly looming specter of despair.

So today I woke up at a reasonable hour, conducted a zoom meeting with family about our upcoming virtual Passover seder (we are very flexible in our observation of Jewish traditions), and did a session of EvolveAll bootcamp on the living room rug. I was amazed by how much I could sweat in 12 minutes. Boot camp at EvolveAll is led by Soup (the man, not the food) and it is intense. In real life, I have never participated, but I have watched hundreds of classes while my kids were in their martial arts classes. I am almost always working while my kids are in class, and I can’t help but see the boot campers out of the corner of my eye. Several of them are friends. Many are parents of the kids in my kids’ classes. Soup and some of the students have invited me to join them, but I never have. Under ordinary circumstances I would rather exercise outside–playing soccer or hiking or doing something fun with people that doesn’t just seem like work. But I need not remind you that these are not ordinary circumstances.

Today while I was doing the workout, Zeke was sitting at the edge of the rug playing with legos. He frequently said, “Good job!” when I finished a particular exercise. After I was done he came over to hug me. “I’m super sweaty!” I said. He said he didn’t care, and he was proud of me.

At the beginning of the quarantine, nearly a month ago, Randy and Zoe and I joked about doing push-ups and sit-ups every day. Randy and Zoe did a bunch early on and Randy bruised a rib or pulled something in his chest. I was worried at first that it was coronavirus but he confirmed it was just a muscle. I kept thinking about movies and tv shows in which someone is in prison or a holding cell or quarantined because of contact with aliens. They’re always doing push-ups and sit-ups while they’re isolated in their rooms. Some strange logic in my brain kept telling me that if I started doing push-ups and sit-ups every day then I would be acknowledging that we were imprisoned. I understand this is not literally true. I’ve tried to reframe that desperation into a way of asserting control. Usually when I feel like everything is out of control I do something easy that I can control, like cleaning my desk or organizing a cabinet or some similar small task that isn’t really important but gives you some sense of satisfaction afterward. In quasi-quarantine I am doing plenty of dishes and laundry (as are Randy and Zoe) but they provide minimal satisfaction. So I succumbed to the push-ups. Zoe had accomplished Master Emerson’s advanced push-up challenge, but I told her if we started there I would probably not finish and that would be the end of that. So we started small, with 25. The next day, 25 again. Tonight it’s 30 although I already did 20 as part of the boot camp workout. We haven’t added in the sit-ups yet. Despite the fact that Zoe is a black belt in martial arts and a fast runner and now a cyclist, she is concerned that she doesn’t have visible muscles. She wants defined biceps and visible abs. I just want strength and endurance. I am strong–I think a lot stronger than people would look at me and guess. I am not fast and I am not fit. But I’ll take strength and I’ll work on endurance. Mostly, though, if doing a workout gets me off the computer and out of my anxiety spiral for a while, I’ll take it.