COVID-19: Changing Our Lives | March 24: Poetry, humor, and an international perspective
Coping with the coronavirus pandemic involves some attempts at exercise, a little bit of swearing, and a desire for ice cream and kindness, Helen Okenka finds.
Video: WTOL
Author: WTOL Newsroom
Published: 6:40 PM EDT March 24, 2020
Updated: 6:40 PM EDT March 24, 2020

TOLEDO, Ohio —

COVID-19: Changing Our Lives is a daily blog, powered by YOU. We want to document what life is like for people in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. What challenges are you facing? What new joys have you found? What keeps you up at night. We welcome your stories (250 words or so), videos (about 60-90 seconds - and yes, we like TikToks too) and photos to blog@wtol.com

Be well, and stay connected through the stories of your community members, found here: 

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Today by the numbers

CDC: Covid-19: U.S. at a Glance

Total cases: 44,183

Total deaths: 544

Jurisdictions reporting cases: 54 (50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US Virgin Islands)

Confirmed cases in Ohio: 564

Number of counties with cases in Ohio: 49

Number of hospitalizations in Ohio: 145

Number of deaths: 8

Confirmed cases in Michigan: 1,328

Number of Deaths: 15

New York total number of confirmed cases: 20,875

Total number of confirmed cases in New York City: 12,305


COVID-19: Changing Our Lives | March 24: Poetry, humor, and an international perspective

Chapter 1

Chapter 1

International Perspective
Singapore coronavirus
Melissa Jane Heybourn

(Editor's note: This is the first of four entries from international student Melissa Jane Heybourn, who has family in both the UK and Singapore.)

Entry #1: Day-to-day Life Since the Outbreak:

My day to day life since COVID-19 here in the US has changed dramatically. For starters, university has been canceled, which had been something that took up a big part of my day. Friends have left and gone home and since social distancing practices have started, I mostly just see my flatmates now. I cancelled my spring break trip to Mexico in fear that the border may shut while I was out there or that the border restrictions of people of the EU may see me having trouble coming back into the US; even though I have not been to the UK since December.

Life is a lot more isolated and the apartment complex I live in feels like a ghost town sometimes. I find myself being unmotivated to do university work as most of it is online. I find that I am unfocused most of my days, although I may be doing things, they take a lot more time for me to complete than usual. I am cooking, baking and cleaning much more than I usually do, probably because there seems to be less time spent traveling and less time spent outside of the house. I managed to get a bike loan from my university before the semester ended and I also have lovely flatmates who are still in the apartment, so I am not stranded. But the way things have changed, had they not been here, I would find my quality of life and the ability to go to the shops for groceries a lot more difficult.

I am finding I have more time (or it might be the illusion of more time) to do things I never had the time for before. I may be losing my marbles a little bit. The other day I was so upset about not being in Mexico that I opened a bottle of sangria, put a video up on the TV of a beach with the sound of waves and pretended in my mind I was on a beach in Mexico, the same thing aye?

  • Melissa Jane Heybourn
Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Let's remember kindness

Catching up with the musings of Helen Okenka: 

03/20 @ 12:48 PM: Life Today

I had to go out today even though I really didn’t want to. At first I was fixated on getting done what I needed to get done as quickly as possible. When I had a chance, I actually took the time and looked around. It felt like an early Sunday morning in summer. The roads were not crowded even though it was noon. There were a few people walking their dogs.

All the people I encountered were polite and took the advice and kept their distances. Maybe once the world is healthy again, we will be able to hang on to this feeling.

03/20 @ 02:13 PM: Humor

The Germ - By Ogden Nash

A mighty creature is the germ,

Though smaller than a pachyderm.

His customary dwelling place

Is deep within the human race.

His childish pride he often pleases

By giving people strange diseases.

Do you, my puppet, feel infirm?

You probably contain a germ.

03/21 @10:50 AM: Looking out the window

The beginning of spring! It was 65 degrees yesterday. It was so pleasantly refreshing. The feeling of hope you get that everything will be alright. And then, Wham! It’s snowing today. Your heart drops and a certain sense of uncertainty catches up. I can see the robins looking for the worms. The squirrels trying to find their lost acorns. Do the animals know how we feel? No, they are just going on as animals do. So we go on also.

03/21 @ 12:17 PM: Humor 2

The Duck - By Ogden Nash

Behold the duck.

It does not click.

A cluck it lacks.

It quacks.

It is especially fond

Of a puddle or pond.

When it dines or sups,

It bottoms ups.

03/22 @ 11:02 PM: Humor 3

The Guppy - By Ogden Nash

Whales have calves,

Cats have kittens,

Bears have cubs,

Bats have bittens.

Swans have cygnets,

Seals have puppies,

But guppies just have little guppies.

03/22 @ 01:57 PM: Looking through Old Books

While looking for some of my old books, I had to venture into the cold garage. I found an old college book that was like finding an old friend. The book was about studio lights and lighting principles. I almost came to tears when I realized that I won’t be doing this again. After more than 40 years in the media, all is done. The best advice is to learn. Once you do, no one can take it from you. I will remember all the times I used the knowledge found in my book.

Lighting handbook Helen Okenka
Helen Okenka

03/22 @ 02:54 PM: Afternoon

I am sitting on my couch, listening to the Governor’s address on the radio. I can’t help but think that this is what it was like to listen to President Roosevelt talk about WWII. They are talking about a war on a silent enemy. Talking about hope for the future. We live in such a visual life, that it is almost a jolt to just close your eyes and listen. I can understand how it could have been frightening to the population to only be able to just sit and wait.

03/23 @ 12:05 PM: Grocery Shopping

I had to go to the grocery store. I’ve been putting this off for a week now, so I really had no choice.

I was hoping by going early in the morning, I would find what I needed. Silly me; what was I thinking? A lot of the shelves were very empty, including things that I was hoping to get. I’m sure you can guess. I did find a workaround for the time being, but I’m gonna keep the secret to myself. Of course, most of the things I normally buy were gone. So if I wanted something I had to buy a slightly more expensive version. But I did find and buy the very last bottle on display of hand sanitizer. It was in the travel/trial section and it was only 2 ounces, but I snatched it up anyway. I guess I’m lucky that I could afford it this week.

It was very interesting to see the changes the grocery store had made. They had little Xs on the ground where to stand when checking out. I will say that everyone was polite. So now I head home to put it all away by myself because my husband is still working. Stay safe!

03/23 @ 12:48 PM: Humor 4 and some

Mud - By Polly Chase Boyden

Mud is very nice to feel

All squishy-squash between the toes!

I’d rather wade in wiggly mud

Than smell a yellow rose.


Wind in the grass - By Mark Van Dorn

Are you so weary? Come to the window; Lean, and look at this.

Something swift runs under the grass.

With a little hiss.

Now you see it rippling off,

Reckless, under the fence,

Are you so tired? Unfasten your mind

And follow it hence.

Helen Okenka mothers exercise bike coronavirus blog
Helen Okenka's mother's exercise bike is ready to ride again ... but ice cream may take precedence.
Helen Okenka

03/24 @11:55 AM: Exercise

So, I saw Tyler Paley on his exercise bicycle the other day. I thought to myself, heck! I can do that too. Now, this is not a fancy dancy bike like Tyler had. Oh no! This is or was my mother's exercise bicycle from 1970. It has 4,609.8 miles on it. If you were to do some math, it would come out to about 0.25 miles a day! It has been many many years just gathering dust.

So the first task was to: get my exercise bicycle in a position where I could use it. This is no easy task. I have to move: a table, chair. then move a twin bed. Also boxes of photos (I plan to do these later),

Laundry baskets, And books.

This is kind of like the book: "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," by Laura Numeroff.

First I move this, then I move that, then I have to figure out where the other thing goes. Then I have to go look for an extension cord so I can plug the light back in. (This is all very exhausting. Do I really wanna use an exercise bicycle?) I finally found an extension cord attached to some old Christmas lights. I figured maybe the virus will be done by Christmas , so I took the cord.

Then came more pushing, pulling, struggling, and a couple nasty words.

When I finally got it the way I wanted, I went to sit down on the seat. Only to have it fall down.

I need some ice cream.

Stay safe!

03/24 2 3:00 PM: Something Else

A Creed - By Edwin Markham

There is a destiny that makes us brothers;

None goes his way alone:

All that we send into the lives of others

Comes back into our own.

I care not what his temples or his creeds,

One thing holds firm and fast-

That into his faithful heap of days and deeds

The soul of man is cast.

Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Outdoor Learning
outdoor education Haley Weis coronavirus
Haley Weis' campus has moved 'outdoors' for the time being.
WTOL/Haley Weis

Today was my first day back in the classroom ... well kind of. I spent my day on my laptop, listening to pre-recorded videos of my professors teaching complex topics on the back porch of an apartment in Austin, Texas. I guess this is the new norm until the pandemic slows down and life goes back to what will be the new normal. Part of me loves the fact that I can enjoy learning on my own time, in the sunny Texas weather, but another (selfish) part of me wishes I was in classes in Bowling Green, Ohio, making the most of my senior year.

I can't lie, I am enjoying my new classroom and spending time with my boyfriend who I wouldn't have been able to see for this long if the coronavirus had not basically trapped me in Texas. I am a bit worried that I will lose focus in my school work as the online learning period continues since attendance is not being recorded and only assignments are weighing my grade. I worry that my grades could potentially drop as I am better at learning where I can ask questions at any time during my education process.

I guess that is a worry for another day. Above is a photo of my current *classroom* view.

  • Haley Ann Weis