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Life in the age of coronavirus

By Linda Bakst

I woke up early one day coughing. That sent me down a rabbit hole for a while. Do I have the virus? Is this the beginning of more severe symptoms? What if I gave it to my husband (who is a healthcare provider) or did he give it to me? Never mind that it isn’t uncommon for me to wake up coughing. I cast aside any reasonable explanations, like acid reflux or allergies, and went straight to doomsday scenarios. I indulged in that for about ten minutes, tossing and turning, and scaring the hell out of myself. 

Then I took several deep breaths and turned my thoughts to concrete things. Get out of bed, brush your teeth, get dressed, make the bed…..I could revisit whether the cough was anything in an hour.

I thought about the day stretching ahead of me. I decided I would minimize my intake of social media – at least news consumption – since it was not helping my anxiety level. I would reach out to my family. I would read my book. Maybe watch a movie. The sun was shining though it was still quite chilly. Getting out for exercise was a good option, too. There were chores to do around the house. I’ve been washing everything, all surfaces, clothing, bedding, etc., more frequently than usual. I had a number of options to distract myself from my physical symptoms.


Lo and behold, I didn’t continue coughing. I did not have fever. It was just another day in corona-paradise.

After getting off to that rocky start, the day proceeded as planned. I listened to some music as I walked a loop around the UAlbany campus. I greeted others who were walking, biking and jogging. I was pleased to note that they were social-distancing appropriately (unlike a few days earlier when I did the same walk). It stresses me out when people aren’t following the CDC recommendations – I know some folks are partners or parents with kids and I try to give the benefit of the doubt. But some folks are just not getting with the program. Yesterday they were. That made me feel better.


This is my life in the age of coronavirus. Worrying about a stray cough and whether people are keeping far enough apart!

I am trying to find the balance between getting enough information to be responsible, but not too much so I feel overwhelmed. Some days I don’t get it right.


I am trying to be productive but finding it difficult to focus. There is so much I could be doing – writing and submitting pieces or organizing my house. We’ve lived in the same house for more than 25 years, so there is more than enough stuff to sort and throw out, photographs to catalogue. There are real opportunities here, but somehow I am not doing it…not yet anyway. I hold out hope that I will.


I have been reaching out to family and friends so that I continue to feel connected – and maybe helping them to feel connected, too. I’m glad my 86-year old mom is tech-savvy enough to FaceTime. We had a pleasant visit the other day, a nice change from the usual phone call. The best is when my phone rings and I see an incoming FaceTime call from one of my kids. My husband and I must have looked pretty silly trying to get a laugh from our two-year old granddaughter – making noises and faces, and dancing around with plastic animals. It is well worth it when she smiles or giggles. It isn’t as wonderful as being in the same room, but it’s pretty damn good.

It is a challenging and strange time. I am putting one foot in front of the other and reminding myself to savor the sun on my face, a good cup of coffee, a laugh with a friend, our granddaughter’s smile. All of that is still available and I am grateful. Now if I could just not cough…

Linda Bakst 

After a career in public service, I retired to pursue my passion: writing. In my work life I wrote countless memos and reports, but I believed I had stories to tell. At age 56, I started a memoir blog, Stories I Tell Myself, joined writing groups in the Capital Region and am working toward being published.  

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