Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Remembering to breathe


I used the last onion 4 days ago, ate the last apple day before yesterday. We’d been out of bananas and garlic and salad fixings for a while. No fresh meat left in the fridge, we were reduced to eating packaged food out of the freezer last night.

Time to go to the grocery store.

Grocery shopping has never been my favorite thing to do, but on the list of household chores it used to be the least repugnant. Now it’s something out of a Twilight Zone episode.

Resenting having to be out so early, I turned into the store parking lot at 7:30 this morning, detailed list (organized into like store aisles for faster shopping), antiseptic wipes and mask piled next to me in the passenger seat.

Good. The parking lot was relatively empty.

I note two women going in, masks in place, hands covered in gloves, eyes covered in glasses. A man coming out is similarly dressed. I sigh and done my own attire.

Here’s something I’ve learned about myself: I feel claustrophobic wearing a nose and mouth mask. I start to breathe faster, my glasses fog up and then I feel like I can’t breathe. At home, practicing, I can only go a few minutes before I need to rip the mask off my face. Actually wearing one for an entire shopping expedition, especially since I’m trying to buy enough stuff for at least two weeks, will be an experiment.

I figure at worst I’ll run screaming out of the store, leaving my partially filled basket behind. I doubt I’d be the first.


The store wasn’t busy, everyone was going about their business, not looking at anyone else. I guess when you’re wearing a mask and glasses and gloves you’re somewhat anonymous. Apparently there’s no time for friendly when shopping these days. It’s all about survival now. In fact, as I looked down the aisles and noted that everyone there looked like a bank robber, I decided I didn’t feel very friendly either.

Fresh stuff is so welcome.

Shopping was a big adjustment for me. I hadn’t been out of the house in almost two weeks, except to walk the dog around the yard. To find myself in a store with a long and detailed list, surrounded by new signs including those designating one-way aisles was almost overwhelming.

I suddenly felt…well…elderly.

Wearing my glasses over the nose piece of the mask wasn’t comfortable, and they were no longer at the right distance from my eyes. Things were kind of blurry. Plus did I mention they fogged up if I breathed too fast? But not wearing them was worse because then everything was blurry, and I couldn’t even read my complicated list.

Time to just suck it up.

Grateful that I had segmented my list I moved as quickly as I could. I found most of what I needed, and I only had to circle around a few times when I encountered wrong way signs. Sometimes, to be honest, I ignored them.

There were fewer things out of stock than my last trip to the store, though there were still plenty of empty shelves. I didn’t go down the paper goods aisle, so I can’t tell you about the toilet paper inventory. I’ve heard there’s still a shortage.

In the end I forgot the eggplant (the produce was the most difficult for me because I was still adjusting to breathing and seeing at the same time), and I couldn’t find any baking soda or flour.

I’m chalking this trip up to a success.

Standing on the blue sign labeled “STAND HERE” at the checkout line I watched the man in front of me unload his overflowing cart. Mine looked the same, in fact it was so heavy it was hard to push. I looked like I was buying for a family of twelve.

A sea of groceries.

Two Hundred forty-eight dollars and eighteen cents later I escaped the store to the parking lot, ready to unload everything into the back of the car and get out of there. I took the mask off and breathed deep.

Everything is precious these days.

Twenty-eight degrees and sun felt wonderful.

I’ve never spent so much money at one time in the grocery store. Rarely in any other store for that matter! Lugging it into the kitchen was another adventure, but now it’s put away and I am safe, back in my cocoon of a home where I hope to stay for at least the next two weeks.

If this was a glimpse into our future I will be very sad. I hope someday to drop into the grocery store for a couple items like I once did. I look forward to smiling at other people, chatting over the produce, standing a bit to debate the merit of salmon over trout. I’d like the time to weigh the benefit of fresh versus frozen.

I dream of being able to go free-form and shop without a list.

But until then, I’ll shelter in place and reminisce about the good ole days when grocery shopping was just an inconvenience.

And when breathing was easier too.


Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

39 thoughts on “Remembering to breathe

  1. I agree! 100%!

    I hate grocery shopping and now I loathe it.

    And my homemade mask makes me conscious of my breathing. I don’t wear glasses but when I read my list… my masks puffs in and out… so my list needs to be a bit further away so the puffing doesn’t get in the way!


  2. I’m glad you found everything you need. I think I mentioned (maybe on Facebook?) that I have to go out this week, too. I am dreading it. I wonder how many people are going to feel agoraphobic when this is over?

    What I am learning to truly appreciate is every morsel of food we have. There has been no food waste whatsoever in my household since this started. I tried, very hard, not to have that happen during normal times but it seems I am much better at it since the self isolation started.


    • I know. I’ve been meaning to post about that. I feel like some sort of pioneer woman, saving scraps of things to add to other things, not wasting anything. Being very deliberate about what I serve and how and when so that nothing gets wasted. I think my mom must have lived much like this, raising 4 kids on not a lot of money. I never appreciated how much planning it takes. Or realized how much stuff I wasted before.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve thought about my mom a lot, too. I’m the oldest of 5 and my parents had very little money. I don’t remember ever feeling a lack, but I keep thinking about the potato soup she used to make. Just a few potatoes, some celery, a lot of water, and we “flavored” it with ketchup. I wonder if that soup showed up when times were tough (nobody liked it but we ate it because if you didn’t eat, you went hungry — no back-up meals in those days!).

        Liked by 1 person

  3. As a fellow Michigander I can totally relate to what you are going through (obviously)…but….we are NOT going to the store AT ALL, let me clarify that, we are not going INSIDE the store AT ALL). We are utilizing curbside pickup which has been great. You are probably thinking it is hard to get a time slot, sometimes it is………the trick? 1) Think outside the box and do NOT utilize the big name stores such as Kroger, Target, Meijer, Costco etc 2) I have been primarily using Busch’s (if you have one there) and Gordon Food Service (if you have one there. Gordon Foods I can usually get a pickup slot within 24 to 48 hrs. Busch’s is more like a few day wait. What I try to do is order the groceries BEFORE I actually need them, then the items I need aren’t as urgent. While MANY, MANY of the items are not always available, doing it this way is a lot easier and a lot safer. Contrary to popular belief during the early morning hours the items have NOT been unloaded from the trucks yet (usually)…..Walgreens told us their truck comes in around 9am…… would do better scheduling a pick up for anytime after 10am….they call to tell you if they don’t have something that you want and will make substitutions if you would like. If you have any smaller independent grocery stores where you are, I would utilize THOSE FIRST. Stay healthy! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’re not that far from you, but I don’t think there are any small independent grocers here. I agree letting someone else do the shopping would be optimum. But so far I’m getting by. Thanks for the ideas.


  4. I wore a mask to the oncology last week and ripped it off after ten minutes. Hmmm, maybe it was two minutes. I can’t see because it changes the way my glasses sit. I had allergies that day so my nose was running, my eyes and nose were itching. And, like you, claustrophobia. I wasn’t too worried in the clinic because they all had masks on.


  5. I haven’t done it for a week, but when I last went to the store I was encouraged by what I saw. Though everything felt strange and scary, employees were saying “Good morning” and customers were giving each other space. Everyone was trying to do what they needed to do and still be mindful of others and try to make things as friendly as possible. Still, like you, I was glad to get out of there.


  6. I could so relate to this post!! First of all, you have a beautiful kitchen. 🙂
    I have been getting my groceries delivered. Peapod, Fresh Direct, and Instacart if any are in your area. But not everything was delivered and I had to go to the store. I ventured out for the “senior shopping hours” on Monday- 6AM. First in. Shelves pretty empty- I- like you said, people in masks and gloves, and everyone minding their own business. I also was tense and felt on the verge of tears the entire 15 minutes I was there. None of the workers had on mask an none were practicing social distancing. Our Governor just changed that rule as of yesterday- all workers must have on mask and gloves and the same for anyone entering the store. I have 3 orders placed, so hopefully will not have to go out again. Glad your shelves are stocked.. stay safe.


    • Thank you, yes I do have a beautiful kitchen! 🙂 I don’t think we have any of those particular things in our area…but I have pondered the meals in boxes programs. As for the grocery, I don’t go exactly when they open because there’s a line outside and if I go 30 minutes later there’s no line. The shelves were pretty well stocked, what I couldn’t find was no big deal this time. Hopefully it will be there next time. Hopefully next time isn’t for 2 weeks! And then maybe it will be closer to normal. We shall see. You stay safe too!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve always enjoyed grocery shopping but now it’s a trial for me. We’ve taken to doing online ordering/pickup but that’s a hit or miss proposition. I don’t think I could wear a mask in a store for the reasons you mention, so waiting in hour long car lines for partially filled orders is our new reality.


    • I used to enjoy the IDEA of grocery shopping and sometimes I’d find something really fun or interesting and be all motivated to try something different but by the time I got home the motivation usually left me as I had to put it all away and then the thought of cooking something different seemed like such a lot of extra work that usually I never made the thing that had me all excited at the store. Nope. Not a fan of the whole grocery, cooking, clean up thing. I haven’t waited in lines for food yet…but I can see it in my future.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I also miss the ability to say, oh, I’m out of carrots, I’ll pop in to the store down the street. Now, not going to happen. My shopping trip Sunday was similar to yours in number of bags and number of dollars! I also haven’t bought so much at one time in a long time, but like you I’d been using more of things that were already here, so lots of empty places.
    One-way aisles! That’s a great idea. They’re either not doing that here or I haven’t noticed because my glasses are steamed up from my mask.
    Can hardly wait for the old normal to reappear.


    • “Oh I’m out of carrots” now changes the entire plan for a meal. And I was flabbergasted at the total today…didn’t even buy carrots! 🙂 I think it’s because I’m buying whatever they have, regardless if it’s my normal brand, and I’m buying about 4x as much stuff, because I used to go about 2x (or more) a week. And now I’m trying not to go back for at least 2 weeks. And that’s a lot of stuff. The one way aisles are so we don’t have to pass each other…was sort of annoying, but it will be fine once I reorganize my brain as to how to get to places I need to get to. I wondered today if those one way aisles will stay after this is over. If this is ever over.


  9. I have not been to the store in three weeks, but you put everything in perspective for me. I received emails from my grocery stores (yeah, we’re buddies) reminding me that all store employees have to wear masks and so do all the ‘guests.’ My son said he wore a bandana ‘cowboy’ style the other day…that is what we’ll be doing, too. One of our stores started one-way shopping aisles. They changed their store around a few months ago and I still don’t have the hang of it, so this will make it interesting–more like a scavenger hunt than food shopping. I feel so relieved that you are so stocked up. I have gotten so used to being home, it almost scares me to head out into the world. That’s nuts. I don’t want this to feel normal.


    • Part of my fear of going, aside from the mask, was that it was so weird to be out in the world again…and it was sort of disconcerting. Cars moving and people, and things in bloom that I hadn’t seen and the wind and just all of it felt odd. It felt good to get back inside the house. I could turn into one of those people that doesn’t go out at all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And that is my fear. We have been inside (well, we can walk in the neighborhood) for so long, I feel safe here. Going to the store? Sounds downright scary. Yes, I could be one of those people, too!


  10. I hadn’t been grocery-shopping in two weeks, but I went this morning (6 a.m.!!) and your post spells it out beautifully. Used to be (not so long ago), people would greet each other, smile, help each other reach things on the highest shelves, talk about sports or whatever. Not anymore. Now, everybody looks like we’re geared for battle — masks, gloves, eyes straight ahead, silence, all in a hurry. It’s NO FUN!! And grocery-shopping never was fun, but at least it was bearable. I was up at 4:30 this morning to get there with the “old people” — I can’t afford to bring illness back home to infect my elderly mom. I had everything unloaded on the conveyor belt, but the computer wasn’t loading — so ALL of it had to go back in the cart, I had to stand in another line, unload it all again, drive it home, Lysol the entire car, then unload it at home. Then I had to “sterilize” myself — shower, shampoo, etc. I finally got breakfast — now it’s time for a nap! I, too, hope this isn’t what we’ve got to look forward to forever.


    • I don’t know if I was there with the old people…but if I was I fit right in. Every store here has an old person time but they are all different days of the week and I got confused. So I just go at 7:30 which is 30 min after they open and I go in the middle of the week and so far that has worked. Of course my sample size on this experiment is only 2 as that’s how many times I’ve been to the store in the past several weeks. So next time could be better or worse, hard to say. I’m exhausted too. Time for a nap for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I shared on Facebook as it is so appropriate


  12. I haven’t done the mask thing yet. I’ve ordered two so we’ll see how it goes once I get them. I ordered fun ones so I don’t look like a bank robber. Maybe they’ll make people smile behind their masks. For me, once in the store, I find grocery shopping easier. It’s far less crowded and very few children running around. I always take a list as it keeps costs down. I’m sure if you divide your bill by the number of weeks the groceries will last, you’ll find you haven’t spent much more than normal.


    • I hope people are smiling! The whole thing was surreal, with everyone in masks and gloves and glasses. Yea, I’m sure what I spent for 2 weeks was only a little more than what I’d spend in 4 trips over 2 weeks. I think I bought too much meat…but I’m freezing some so I can go longer without going back.


  13. Look past the mask and the glasses, and you can recognize a smile in their eyes. Problem is there are very few smiles, so share yours. Others will recognize it in your eyes.


  14. You did well, Dawn. Rest easy and enjoy the groceries.


  15. I don’t follow the arrows either. Actually, for the first couple of visits, I didn’t even realize that there WERE arrows to follow, I was so intent on getting in and getting out. In hindsight, I realize that might explain the dirty looks I got from other shoppers.

    But there were a lot of dirty looks. Scared, confused, and uncomfortable looks.

    Yesterday, hubby did the groceries. He went to one store and immediately abandoned that plan. Not because of the line up, but because of how the store managed the shoppers. They had erected a series of chain link barriers into a maze-like corridor that forced/assisted people to keep the 6 foot distance. It looked like a stockyard holding pen leading cattle to slaughter.


    • I know! The first aisle I went down I was past the “WRONG WAY!” sign before I realized the aisles were set up with directions! 🙂 🙂 🙂 That store your husband went to sounds horrible.


  16. Oh, gosh! What a tale. Between having a well-stocked larder, and ordering online, we haven’t had to go to the grocery store yet. However, I’m sure the day will come when we must go. Not looking forward to it. As I’m claustrophobic under normal circumstances, I bet I’ll feel exactly the way you did when wearing a mask. Sigh. Onward, ho. This is a time of testing for us, and to paraphrase Queen Elizabeth, I hope we can look back with pride on how we adapted our behavior.


  17. We are doing well and feeling a little more normal. Dad did his traditional remember the RMS Titanic toast. Those silly little traditions help a lot during times like these.

    Glad you are doing well.

    Gemini & Dog Dad


  18. I’m with you, I’ve been going without rather than risking the shopping I already hated doing.
    Good job Pirate Dawn, nice haul of booty. Love the pictures of all the bags!


  19. I have heard that if you wipe your glasses with shaving cream it will stop your glasses from fogging up. I think all those masks make it hard to breathe. I have not been inside a grocery store since Mar 9 I often wonder what it looks like inside?? WE pickup curbside or order and have it delivered to the house 😦


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