I started this daily blog of sorts when schools first closed in our county, and admittedly, it looks rather self-serving now with all of the emphasis on going out and getting coffee.

Since then, my 12-cup Mr. Coffee has been brewing at a frantic pace, and I have been grinding beans and going through filters as much as anyone during these stay-at-home days. OK, maybe a bit more than most.

But this morning, I had a treat.

The local Starbucks opened for curbside pickup only, and in a murky April drizzle, as excited as a bride on her wedding day, I got a grande dark roast (and one for my husband)—just the joe, nothing in it.

I wish I can say it was about supporting neighborhood businesses, which I am ready to do, but it came far more from the desire to have a clear head and a good morning.

I sipped it far too quickly, frowning as the last of the liquid stained the empty paper cup, though I kept it next to me—a reminder of good things to come.

I know what you’re thinking. How petty in this dire time of the corona crisis. It’s a luxury not afforded to so many, and I acknowledge that. And feel bad that I cannot buy the world a cup of extra-hot coffee (though in reusable cups).

It’s not fair. None of this is. It’s something I have always told my children: “Life’s not fair. Better get used to it now.”

That may sound harsh, but I wanted them to realize early on that things won’t always go their way. In fact, they won’t always go right.

It’s amazing that so many things do. I had a newspaper colleague who used to tell me that life isn’t about the highs and lows, but about all those uneventful days in between. Those are the times that the world actually seems to be rotating on its axis.

Not now. Everything is off-kilter. Earlier in the week, I asked my 11-year-old what day it was. He blinked. He didn’t know either. And he was sitting in the kitchen, right under the calendar!

So we are all off-center; we are unbalanced. We can be fine one day and cranky the next. Online school seems wrong and a bother, as does adult work with everyone at home. I mean, I talked to my kids more when they were hardly here—when I took that nice walk back with them from the bus, asking about their day and surprising them with what was planned for dinner.

Early on in this, they’d ask that same question. And I would tell them: homemade pizza, sliders from scratch, mac-and-cheese, pierogies with applesauce and sour cream.

Now I tell them, “I don’t know.”

I don’t know so much.

What I do know is that the little things are still important. Like a good strong cup of coffee. Ear buds that work on both sides (thanks, Jen!). Food of any kind on my plate.

And the wonderful, welcome, weekly presence of Fridays, when work ends, Shabbat begins, and peace of a kind settles upon my world.

Carin M. Smilk is the managing editor of JNS.

This Reporter’s Notebook will appear starting on March 16 until the end of the month (or when schools reopen).

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