What’s It Like Stuck at Home? Stream Editors Dish

"When the going gets tough, the tough get German schmearing." The Stream's Al Perrotta is but one of the folks for whom COVID-19 equals DIY.

By The Stream Published on April 6, 2020

Virtually everyone has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, some of us worse than others. It is fascinating hearing stories from others about what they are experiencing. It’s more than just not being able to find toilet paper. And it is encouraging when we hear that folks are finding ways to overcome the obstacles. We decided to compile some stories from us Streamers on what we’ve encountered.

For the editors’ tricks for working at home when you’ve never done that, see How to Work From Home.

Al Perrotta

I’m one of the fortunate ones. The pandemic hasn’t affected my daily life much. As media and part of a ministry, The Stream is considered “essential” by Tarrant County, Texas authorities. Meaning, I still have to brave that one mile commute every morning.

Home life isn’t much different. My wife’s attitude is “When the going gets tough, the tough get schmearing.” Last week, she began her long-awaited German schmearing of the outside of our house. (She didn’t get the idea from Chip and Joanna Gaines. The Fixer Upper folks simply confirmed she should do it.) As with all projects involving my wife, whether a home improvement or a stage production, life becomes very much like the quarantine: Little wandering. Lots of take-out.

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Even so, I’ve noticed two changes. First, we now have dinner in the dining room, accompanied by French music rather than the cacophony of cable news. Second, we interact more with our neighbors — keeping social distance, of course. We praise Stephanie for her new temp job while her doctor’s office is closed. We applaud Carlos for his new lawn. And we wave at the new family across the street returning from a walk. This beautiful mixed race couple, their two gorgeous little kids, and two adorable dogs strolling up the street led — yes, led — by their cat.

COVID-19 may be the talk of the world. But clearly, cats still think they rule the world.

Aliya Kuykendall

I’m blessed to be largely unaffected by the pandemic. I haven’t suffered any loss of loved ones, but my heart goes out to those who are grieving. My job here in the news industry isn’t going away because of this thing, but my roommate wonders if her job as a flight attendant will last. The way the pandemic has most affected me is spiritual revival.

I don’t want to be the same after this thing is gone. I want to be different.

And more. I want the habits of daily devotion I’ve so desired to finally stick as I embrace a slower pace of life and choose to rest in God. I love the fact that I’m forced to stay inside and rest because it’s the change I’ve needed. I’m praying for God’s will to be done and for the people who are affected.

I’ve seen God answer one specific prayer dramatically. One of my best friends who lives far away texted me that she was suffering symptoms of the virus and to pray. I cried. I knew this would be hard on her because of other health struggles.

She also told me about a dream she had. She was being attacked by a wolf. A lion came and laid his body over her to protect her. We both thought this could be a spiritual dream, even though that’s not something she’s experienced before. I told my roommate and together we prayed Psalm 91 over my friend. I felt peace as we prayed those last lines:

“Because [she] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue [her];
I will protect [her], for [she] acknowledges my name.
[She] will call on me, and I will answer [her];
I will be with [her] in trouble,
I will deliver [her] and honor [her].
With long life I will satisfy [her]
and show [her] my salvation.”

The next day she texted me that her fever had broken the night before (after sensing God tell her not to take Tylenol) and she felt better. The pain and pressure in her chest was gone. No more runny nose, chills or coughing. We were so relieved and praised God. I’m thankful for what He’s doing to awaken us to prayer and love in this season.

Rachel Alexander

I’ve faced a few annoyances during the pandemic. The main one was running out of contact lenses. My prescription had expired. My last eye doctor was in another state and closed. I couldn’t find any eye doctors open here in Phoenix.

This is a real problem for me since I have really bad eyes; I have amblyopia, a lazy right eye, so basically that eye doesn’t work. It’s also very farsighted and my right eye is very nearsighted. Bifocal glasses don’t work adequately to address the nearsightedness. So I wear multifocal contacts. Without them, I cannot see my computer screen unless I put my face a couple of inches away.

I asked my Facebook friends what kinds of things they are undergoing due to the pandemic, sharing my contact lens story, and many of them responded with possible solutions! 1-800-CONTACTS lets you conduct an eye exam online (however, the exams have been banned in some states and they don’t offer prescriptions for specialty contacts like multifocals).

I just pray others aren’t being seriously negatively affected by the lack of doctors available for non-coronavirus purposes.

A couple other friends told me their eye doctors were still open. Whew. I am not going to run out of contacts. Arizona has designated eye care centers as essential businesses, so they are permitted to stay open. But unfortunately, other than for emergencies, they’ve mostly chosen to shut down. I don’t know whether it’s because of fear of spreading the coronavirus, or due to lack of business, or both. Thank God for those few eye doctors who are staying open. For some of us, we cannot function without our eye prescriptions. I just pray others aren’t being seriously negatively affected by the lack of doctors available for non-coronavirus purposes.

David Mills

Do you know what’s a blessing when you’re stuck at home? Having your eldest with you, because she got caught here on a visit, between working in South Sudan and starting work in Bangladesh. Do you know what’s not such a blessing? Having your eldest home.

She’s a first child right out of the book. Decisive, driven, active, forceful, all those things. Our eldest likes to cook, so she’s been buying and cooking most dinners, and also shaking her head at what we eat when she’s not here. She’s a neat freak, so she’s been cleaning and arranging. As she cleans, she does sigh and mutter. And now that the weather’s nice, she’s even working in the yard and helping paint a picket fence.

She’s very funny, not least about her family and their eccentricities. She has thoughts about what her two youngest siblings should do with their lives, and she shares her ideas. She watches home remodeling shows with her mom and they have great talks about what to do with our house.

You may see the issue. Cooking, great. Shocked comments when she looks into the cupboard, not so great. Cleaning, great. Muttering, understandable but still, not so great. Arranging, which means rearranging, not always so helpful. Concern for her siblings, great. Instructing them, not so well-received.

Sharing her mom’s enjoyment of home remodeling shows, great. Encouraging her mother in projects that I will to pay for and do, just not great at all. The house looks fine to me.

We love her. She’s a great kid. Couldn’t be prouder. But she’s very much high energy. And like most of us, the things that make her great and the things that make her annoying are two sides of the same characteristics. 

I work at home, so my life hasn’t changed that much, except that I can’t get out in the evening to enjoy things after working all day. But having our eldest forced to be home longer than we planned, that’s new. And a great blessing. Also a reminder that people are complicated, even the ones you love.

Tom Sileo

A few short weeks ago, I was attending Washington Nationals games at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Florida. Now, the major league baseball spring training stadium is a coronavirus testing site. It’s amazing how fast the world can change.

My family is doing well and trying to stay positive during this crisis. Our 9-year-old daughter’s Catholic school has fully transitioned to online learning, while our newborn daughter, Natalie, is happy and healthy. She has Down syndrome, and while the pandemic has unfortunately delayed an important at-home therapy evaluation, we’ve been assured that a few weeks (or even months) won’t hinder her overall development. Like all families, my wife and I just hope to keep our children safe from COVID-19.

I keep thinking about the valiant members of our military, first responders, doctors (including my dad), nurses, delivery drivers, and workers at essential restaurants and stores around the country. They are truly doing God’s work and should be in our constant prayers, along with all coronavirus victims and their families. As we saw on September 11, 2001, ordinary Americans are doing extraordinary things, like Todd Beamer and his fellow United Flight 93 passengers who rushed the cockpit and overtook the 9/11 hijackers.

“They’re all heroes in my eyes, they really are,” the 911 operator who took Beamer’s emergency call later said. “They all pitched together, and they did what they thought was the best thing to do at the time.”

A few months from now, there will many more Todd Beamers, whose selfless and heroic actions will always be remembered by a grateful nation. Today and every day, we salute them.

John Zmirak

I’m kind of a homebody anyway. My girlfriend is a germaphobe with a suppressed immune system, so for years she’s been wielding sanitizer wipes and keeping six feet away from most people. My beagles, Finnegan and Rayne, are accustomed to having me around 22 hours a day, minus errands and trips to the movies or restaurants. Now they have me 24/7, and they seem to like it just fine.

That said, I’m really concerned about the survival of the family-owned eateries where I’m accustomed to spending the two non-beagle hours of each day. So since this nightmare hit us, I’ve been going to each of my favorite places in succession. I ask how business is. Then I order pricier entrees than usual and at least two bottles of wine. I’m tipping 33%, to help make up what they’re missing. As I see it, as long as I’m in an industry that hasn’t been crushed by the quarantine, I need to pitch in as I can.

My favorite part of each day? The five seconds or so after I wake up, as the beagles jump around on top of me for breakfast, when things still seem normal. Then I remember what our country and my fellow citizens face, and that sick feeling punches me right in the gut. Let’s pray for a return to normalcy soon, before decades of progress in prosperity get erased.


Al is The Stream’s managing editor, Rachel and David are senior editors, Tom a contributing senior editor, and Aliya a staff writer. Rachel compiled this article.

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