Sunday Lowdown #153


This week was all about looking ahead. School starts next Wednesday (Jan 12), and so the Pandemic Taskforce keeps emailing us. Yes, positive cases have dramatically increased on campus. By how much? Something like 9 people in the fall to 20 people now. To make sure everyone arrives safely, we’re required to have a negative COVID test between Jan 7 to Jan 11. And this email was sent on the 5th! The school will no longer provide tests free of charge to all students and employees, so if you can’t find a rapid test at home, it’s $25 on campus, which is one hour away for me.

Thinking myself smart, I checked the inventory of the local grocery store pharmacy online; they had tests. When I arrived, I could not find them, and the pharmacist looked at me like I was a nut bar. There are no at-home COVID tests, he said. The inventory doesn’t match because people stole them all, so it only looks like there are some. Tests performed by the pharmacy staff had a 4-5 week wait. I headed across the street to the other grocery store pharmacy.

Prepare yourself: I entered a sketchy Wal-Mart with so few staff the customer service counter wasn’t even open. Folks were yelling at the pharmacy employees there, who looked like they wanted to die inside while largely ignoring the shouting and continuing to work. No tests to be found, and I wasn’t going to bother those poor underpaid zombies.

Well, I reckoned no need to waste a trip to the sketchy Wal-Mart. I headed for the placemats, hoping to get one of those kind that are slightly foamy on the bottom and put it in my drink cupboard so my cups will stop getting little bits of cupboard wood on the rims.

As I walked past the mega-ultra on-sale Christmas candy aisle, I saw it: a lone box where there should have been red and green M&Ms — a COVID test — and the exact brand I had been shopping for. Was this a Christmas miracle?? I snatched it up and raced to the placemats, grabbed one of those, and concealed my test box underneath. No, I do not steal, I was simply worried someone might argue with me for it, or harass me for it (did I tell you guys about the time a large woman trapped me in a Burger King bathroom and demanded gas money cuz she thought I was wealthy???).

The sticker closing the test box had been peeled back just the tiniest bit, so I was texting everyone I knew, asking if they thought my test was somehow compromised in this completely sealed box, or was I just get a sketchy Wal-Mart rip off? I got so riled up pacing around the store that I realized the security guard was kinda following me, so I tried on a pair of shoes, took my placemat, concealed test, and new shoes to the check out line which was, not joking, about twenty people long.

Indeed, I took my COVID test Saturday morning, and it came out negative like I knew it would. The last person I’ve visited was Cupcakes & Machetes, and that was ten days ago. I put my student ID next to my lil snot test, took a picture of it, and sent it through a Google form. Should I frame it? Include it in next year’s Christmas card? It seems worth a lot; the college isn’t even doing the mandatory weekly testing for the few unvaccinated people on campus because there are no tests available to the school or the local health facilities.


Reading about Odelia in Too Big to Miss by Sue Ann Jaffarian was hard because I feel the character was a product of an author who was so influenced by her generation’s cruelty to fat women. As a fat older woman, Jaffarian wrote a fat older female character who was quick to want equality, to earn love without her body entering the conversation, and yet she also judged everyone around her, too. Thanks for sharing your own stories.

And thanks to Canada for selling me The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour by Dawn Dumont so I could read a novel full of improbably events with subplots about residential schools, being queer, and cultural appropriation that danced (pun intended) in the background.


For years she was simply “Your Fat Friend,” demanding legal equality for people in fat and very fat bodies, which is not the same thing as body positivity. Then, when the book What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon was announced, there it was on the cover: Creator of Your Fat Friend. Review Tuesday.

What does it mean for a deaf person to “pass” as hearing and be congratulated for doing so? What is it like to live with two hearing daughters who didn’t learn ASL, then to go each day to work with deaf students who think they don’t need to learn it either? Joanne Weber reflects on her oscillating identity in the memoir The Deaf House. Review Thursday.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 202
Owned Books on TBR Today: 200


  1. Some really interesting books coming in here! We are really short of tests here in the UK, and they are talking about stopping the free lateral flow tests, we will have to “live with Covid”. I actually wept for my vulnerable friends and family, who are being thrown under the bus here now. I’m still going to be super-careful when seeing them, even if I can’t test.


  2. So sorry about the tests! It’s insane. We bought a few kits last fall when they weren’t in high demand and have three actual tests left. I wish now I’d bought more back then. This whole is ridiculous. We really should have amped up production in this country.

    Aubrey Gordon’s podcast is amazing! Maintenance Phase. Do you listen? I love it so much.


    • I know you can’t sell the covid tests on Amazon or anything like that because people bought so many and then there was a shortage, so it’s confusing. On the one hand, we should only buy what we need. On the other hand, my kitchen canned goods look like I’m preparing for the apocalypse, so I’m in the same boat as everyone else.

      I don’t listen to podcasts typically, but maybe I should. Mostly, I listen to audiobooks on my commute.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ha your story about the test kits was hilarious, it really gave me a chuckle. Things are much the same here in Alberta – there are no rapid tests to be found, although we’ve been told our kids will be sent home with some this week at school? Covid is running rampant around us right now, each week we get a new email saying one of our kids has been exposed to a positive case. Luckily, our oldest has her first vaccine and our youngest hasn’t gotten any symptoms (yet) so fingers crossed we can ride out this wave 😦


  4. No RATS in Australia either. And proper testing has failed, completely overwhelmed, queues at 6 am are already kilometres long. And the Prime Minister (a Trump clone) thinks the answer is just let-‘er’-rip. We are told that grocery shelves will be empty for the next couple of months. All medical staff and truck drivers not actually displaying symptoms have been ordered back to work. And old people, well that’s a private enterprise problem, so they are all locked up, served by infected and shockingly overworked nurses, and left to die alone. But the economy’s doing well.


    • I’m not sure what to think of what I hear about in Australia. There was the tennis guy who got his VISA revoked, which I was happy about because if Australians can’t come and go without a vaccination, why should a guy with a netted stick and a ball be special? But then I also see protests of folks who are tired of the lockdowns, too. It sounds like much of Australia is vaccinated, but I wonder if that includes the Indigenous population, if there has been a real effort to reach them so they aren’t killed off by a virus. That’s a concern in the U.S., these reservations with lots of people (20+) living in one home with no running water during COVID.


      • We have a Federal government run by a (not very successful) marketing guy who makes announcements and has no idea how to follow through. So, it was announced more than a year ago that the highest priority for vaccinations was old people and Indigenous communities, but in the every man for himself free for all which vaccination became. no one thought to actually set up a programme for the most at risk sectors and so they are still at relatively low levels.


        • I have no clue how it played out in the U.S. This country is too big and governed by too many people for me to keep up. It truly is like 51 countries. I live in Indiana but about 5 miles from Michigan. They have different laws, regulations, attitudes, even school systems. It’s wild.


  5. It’s the wild west out there right now. When people call me upset that we don’t have any, I’m just like, “You’re about 4 weeks too late. Everyone bought them before Christmas and the New Year.” To which they follow up with, “Well when are you going to get more??” The answer to that is we have no idea. They’re on a massive backorder due to production vs. demand. That’s why when you texted (and I responded several hours late) I was like, Buy it! Buy it now! Hoping that you had already bought it just in case.
    I don’t even have any at home now and I can buy them before they are set out on the shelf. And knowing that people ARE stealing them, I’m glad we keep them behind the counter. Lol.


    • The reason I was hesitant to buy it was 1) that bit of sticker pulled up and 2) it had a white sticker on it with a QR code, and I was like “does that mean it’s been returned or something??” Fortunately, it would be pretty easy to see if it had been tampered with once I opened the box. I just picture someone seeing the on-sale candy and thinking, “You know what? I only have $20 and this cheap-o candy is too good to pass up.” And then setting down the test.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh man, that sounds stressful! I’m so glad you found a test though. I’ve heard about that issue elsewhere where students require a negative test to return to school but there is no testing available. Around here they’ve basically given up on contact tracing and told everyone it’s up to us as individuals. Such a crazy time…


    • Yes, the few people on campus who are not vaccinated were doing weekly testing in the fall. Now they cannot do that. On the one hand, if folks are asymptomatic, okay, but if they’re getting other people sick who do present symptoms, or must be hospitalized, then it’s a problem. I get the vibe medical folks, schools, businesses, etc. are trying to weigh in on no symptoms/act normal vs. no symptoms/should worry about others.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Do you have to test again in the term or just at the beginning because it’s assumed people have been away and travelling? It’s so tricky to manage the dynamics of it all now. Under current guidelines here, we’re allowed to continue regular activity even if we live with someone who has tested positive, as long as we have no symptoms but that seems like a good way to keep this spreading quickly.


        • I believe they just want folks to test before they come back to campus after traveling home to the far corners of the country. That way, if someone is positive, they can stay home until they are clear, or they might go directly to isolation on campus.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. The Deaf House sounds super interesting!

    Crazy adventure for a COVID test! They are hard to find here too. I haven’t had to take one yet but the husband did. Took the both of us searching to find a place he could go that day instead of waiting 3 days for a test, especially since we knew he only had a cold. But of course he had to get tested to prove it. I thought 2020 was pretty crazy, but right now with omicron, I think it’s even crazier. Keep safe and healthy!


    • We’re trying to be as safe as possible, and I’m grateful that both Nick (my spouse) and I go to school/work at a school where everyone must be vaccinated. Having a test to prove you can be somewhere reminds me of when you call in sick and the boss demands a doctor’s note. Basically, if you are throwing up or have a head cold, you have to see a medical person, possibly infect them and waste their time, for what amounts to a permission slip. Adulthood is wildly similar to elementary school.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. That sounds stressful about the test – glad you were able to find one! I’m very blessed to have a regular supply via work – we are all required to test twice a week if we’re on campus, so they supply the tests, and even when there were shortages they didn’t run out.

    I’ve been really enjoying all your reviews of books by Deaf authors or about Deaf culture, so I look forward to reading about The Deaf House.


    • Thanks, Lou! Whenever I feel nervous about school, wondering if I’ll ever be good enough to actually make a career of this, I remember what you said about interpreters being so valuable to your work. It lifts me, truly.

      Liked by 1 person

Insert 2 Cents Here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s