The Lockdown Diaries: Week 8

by Janice Nigro

Two months under lockdown. Another month and it will be one quarter of the year. This is unbelievable. And yet, I’m worried that if it’s coming to the end, have I accomplished anything? The lockdown is one of those things like the seasons which we don’t have much of in California. Seasons give you one way to measure the passing of time unless you live here. Christmas always catches me by surprise because it doesn’t get cold. Without distinctive seasons, it’s easier to uh…procrastinate as I used to tell my friends in Europe.

When the season, in this case the lockdown ends, you know it has gone by, and you have to ask yourself if you have done anything. What a shock to our California circadian clocks.

I have done something. Some good and some bad. The bad first. My phone keeps reminding me how much more my average day of walking was all of last year. About 6 miles vs more like a few steps.

I read the other day that people are having cocktails more often than they normally do because they drink together on Zoom. You don’t have to get up and go out somewhere to do it. No designated driver or Uber needed. You can even have it delivered. And every day is like Friday night. The alcohol is another reason for complaints about poor sleep and vivid dreams during the pandemic. I decided however to try to do something good for myself on Zoom, but that oddly got me into trouble.

The Venmo debacle. If I use my credit card to pay a person, the bank processes that as a cash advance through Venmo. You get immediately slapped with a 5% fee or a $10 minimum charge whichever is more for the cash advance. Thereafter, the cash advance accrues at 24% interest each day! A thirty dollar transaction turns into 100 dollars in less than a week. And before you get an associate to help you straighten things out, the bank asks if you are suffering any hardships because of Covid-19. I am now, thank you very much.

So that’s what I spent my hard earned money on this week-the bank. And well, Venmo is off my list of apps. Sorry Venmo, but at least they answered me on chat right away.

I was reluctant to sign up for Venmo. The app pressures you to link your bank account or debit card to the account. I never like doing that unless I have to. Definitely not on my phone. Once the money is gone, it’s gone. When I lived in Scandinavia, which is now over seven years ago already, all transactions were made with plastic. Almost. But it was also easier to transfer money in between people from a bank. The money could move from one bank account to another with minimal fees. Here, it’s still complicated.

End of my rant.

Here we are, now starting week 9 of lockdown in California. Some progress has been made because the beaches in Los Angeles county opened up yesterday. I haven’t gone out to it yet but people are posting photos on Instagram as if it’s the first time they’re at the beach. I used to go for a walk first thing in the morning. But since the lockdown, I haven’t been doing that. Instead I’ve gotten used to getting up and just doing some work. Today I had finished by 3 pm. Funny how that is if you start at 7:30 am.

I also ate out for the first time this week. I don’t miss eating out much because I don’t do it normally. I ordered a sandwich at The Green Store near the beach. Not too crowded and I sat 2 meters away from my friend while we sat in front of the signs and security people keeping us off the beach.

I rode my bicycle over to Torrance. Yeah, I had to drop off my old internet router which at the time it was changed out didn’t seem like something I had to do right away. If ever. You can wait forever I guess, but eventually a bill collection agency will be after you to pay for it as I found out. Seems like someone could notify you before that point. In the meantime, a pandemic started and I didn’t want to get on a bus to go there. It wasn’t a horrible ride on a Saturday. Not too much traffic and if you choose the right route, the hills won’t kill you. Almost but not quite.

I tried something else new career-wise last week. I got into writing because of a story I had written about scuba diving. And then more stories after that about travel. But when I take business classes they all tell me I should write about science because science is what I did in my previous life. I do write about science, but most of it is the same kind of writing I’ve been doing my whole life, academic writing.

Somehow learning about SARS-CoV-2 and applying the technology I know to this pandemic has inspired me to work a bit harder writing about science for a more general audience. I somehow see what the public might be missing as the media are so bad at reporting about it. I’m happy with what I accomplished although I fell a little short of my goal which was to try to publish a story somewhere other than my blog. Now I’ve had the experience. Next time it might go better. Or maybe I should stick with completing my book.

Interesting stuff happens to me just by sitting here in my apartment and listening. Construction this week made it harder to be stuck here. It was louder this week than any other so far. And small apartments are a certain test of compatibility of couples during lockdown. I’m not going to repeat some of the things that have been shouted out in my complex. But there was a moment I wanted to shout back just to inform the shouters that someone other than them is living here. Good luck is all I have to say. Best to stay inside and eat some chocolate or strike a yoga pose.

I’m starting to fall into a new routine. And I’ve gotten used to talking to my friends and family more often. I’ve talked to people I haven’t talked to in a while. Some very special people. When this is over, will it go back to the way it was before?

Politics is one thing that hasn’t changed. And maybe it’s gotten worse. I saw that a former president is going to give a 2020 commencement speech. Not that I don’t have respect for any former president, but the last thing I would want giving me my commencement speech right now would be a politician. Or anyone famous who has some political agenda. How about some person who has a real life? Or a great comedian without a political agenda? Like Robin Williams. I’d like to see him or a guy like Anthony Bourdain who tried to bring people together through his work. Or heck Mick Jagger. I’d love to hear him speak. Or skip the speaking and just have the Rolling Stones give us a concert.


Until next week…happy cocooning.


©Janice Marie Nigro/

Looking for a scientific editor or writer? Contact Janice Nigro at Janice Nigro Ink. I have published in Cell, Science, and Nature, and articles I have edited have appeared in Cancer Research, Clinical Cancer ResearchPLoSONE, the Journal of Surgical Oncology, and Oncotarget.


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