Smizing and the harrowing quest of obtaining food

Yesterday as I did my early morning yoga practice, I noticed that my husband hadn’t closed one of the blinds in the living room. I watched as the sky slowly lightened, and then changed to an array of orange, red, and pink as the sun rose. It was gorgeous. It felt like a little bit of hope.

This glorious feeling lasted until I went to the grocery store.

I pride myself very much on my positive, can-do attitude, but I will tell you this: yesterday while I was at Superstore, I found myself thinking I don’t know how much longer I can do this. Intellectually, I know I will get used to it, just like I’ve gotten used to everything else. But yesterday, if it wasn’t disgusting and probably virus-ridden, I would have just curled up on the floor at Superstore and cried.

As it was, I got home from groceries and sat in the kitchen, staring into space for a long time. It was the next best thing to crying in public.

What a grim and depressing errand it has become, just obtaining food for the week. I used to really enjoy grocery shopping, and now it feels like the most soul-destroying Sisyphean task ever, because we are going to eat the food I have purchased and I am going to need to repeat this again and again. I was trying to describe it to my husband and kids, none of whom have been anywhere since mid-March, but it’s almost impossible to describe to the non-designated-shoppers of the family. It’s hard to describe the feeling of despair that pervades the store.

I was talking to my friend Shari (HI SHARI) and she said, when I said how drained I was from shopping, “Is it because everyone is silent and no one is looking at anyone?” and I think that sums things up nicely. A huge part of my grocery experience is smiling at people, chatting with people in the produce section, peeking at other people’s carts and asking them if they’d ever tried that brand of frozen pizza before, and was it good? I’ve never bought a frozen pizza, but for some reason I really like asking about them. Now we are all avoiding each other and if someone comes into my six-foot bubble, I feel panicked and anxious. I try to smile at people but I look like this:

And guys, I’m not good at Smizing.

I was in the baking aisle for coconut and raisins – off-brand flour is available, but yeast is not – and there was a young girl there with a list. She looked so upset; I guess my Smize worked, because she asked desperately if I could help her. She reached her list out to arm’s length and I peered at it. She pointed to “raisins (bulk)” and asked me, with a heavy accent, what that meant. I had to explain to her that there was no bulk anymore, but the raisins were close by. She was tearful. My mom gave me this list and I don’t know where things are and no one will talk to me.

It’s funny, because we all have this feeling of togetherness when we are not together – which is good! we should NOT be together – but in the few common areas that are left, it’s like we are all the walking dead and this is the apocalypse.

I kept thinking of all the many, many materials I have read on the world wars; every single one of them, when the wars started, assumed that it would “all be over by Christmas.” Then it would be all over by summer, and then things just stretched on and on.

Wow, I can’t even go there.

On a lighter note, I discovered that you can actually buy – this is something that is actually for sale – peeled hardboiled eggs. What an age we live in. Now do not get me wrong. This is not something I WOULD buy, as even as a child I would cry a little when eggs were served, unless they were scrambled. And hardboiled eggs in particular smell like farts to me. But if they are your thing, fumbling around peeling them could be a thing of the past!

Speaking of eggs, this weekend is Easter! I always write a list of clues – I still have last year’s, so I am going to reuse it – and then the boys go and find the treats hidden away in various places in our house. I bought a box of Easter-themed Lindors the last time I was at Costco, and I’m going to separate them into little paper bags. My mom sent me money to buy the boys the kinds of treats she usually gets them, and yesterday I did that at Superstore. We usually do a crazy egg hunt in our back yard, using these pressed-paper eggs that I usually buy at Walmart and that we decorate before-hand, but Walmart hasn’t been on my radar for my once-weekly shopping trip, so we will do without this year. Probably for the best since this is what my yard looked like on Tuesday:

And the forecast is similar for the weekend. Well, that’s Calgary for you. Send me photos of your grass, flowers, etc. I will live vicariously through you.


I wrote this post early in the morning, and then paused to do my yoga practice. I watched the sun rise again and it occurred to me – not for the first time – that every day is a new beginning and so here we go. Happy Easter, friends, and I hope there is some chocolate in your future. There’s definitely some in mine. xo


  1. Sorry that you are missing your normal grocery experience. I do get what you mean. When Coach and I shopped Sat night, a woman yelled at her husband to move closer to her when Coach headed down the same isle. He was not trying to crowd anyone. Geesh. The sunrise sounds beautiful. The weather was awesome here for 2 days. Like 70s. Back to the 40s today. I hope you see some spring weather soon. I feel like that helps so much. Reggie’s DC trip was cancelled yesterday. Such a bummer.

  2. I have also had a few moments of not knowing how much longer I can do this for – and I’m really having a much less bad time of it than most. And it’s sunny and warm here! I can’t imagine trying to cope if it was also snowing. I think I’d probably want to lie down in the snow and wait for death to come and get me.

    I have never enjoyed shopping. I extra specially do not enjoy shopping while feeling like Typhoid Mary.

  3. I’m trying so hard to focus only on the tree not on the entire forest, but this is nearly impossible when I’m grocery shopping – its like I’m looking at a vast wooded area in Maine or something.

    Here every grocery store has started limiting the number of people in the store at the same time, which is fine, but it means getting to the store, waiting (usually in my car or in a line with spots drawn in a line 6 feet apart) for who knows how long, THEN getting into the store, avoiding everyone, hoping to shout they have most of what I need, adjusting meals on the fly to go with what they do have, and then waiting in long lines (spaced 6 feet apart) to check out. It’s exhausting and I never want to do it again AND YET I’m going to have to do it again in another 1-2 weeks depending on how much I could buy. Just the thought of going again is making me depressed and I’m still about 4 days away from another visit. H went for the first time last week and he came back just as dispirited.

  4. Well, I wrote a whole long thing and deleted it. Just know that if I could hug you (safely and non creepily), I would. I know. I know. I’m sorry. It is all so much, and you are doing exactly what you should be doing. Your family and your readers are so lucky to have you. Hang in there. <3

    Your paragraph about eggs gave me great cheer, for so many reasons. Not least of which is that I too face eggs of any sort (with the possible, occasional exception of scrambled) with despair.

  5. The Husband usually does our grocery runs – but occasionally, I have to go out and it is terrifying. It is baffling to me that you still have snow. My peony is SO close to blooming. I could not deal with this AND snow!

  6. There was some talk of flurries here today and I thought, well, I don’t have to worry about it cancelling school…

  7. Yes to the shopping. It is so stressful. I *try* to get out of my own head and focus on chatting as cheerfully and normally as possible to the employees. It must be so wearing to work there hour after hour with all of the walking dead customers.

    Alas, no pretty pictures for you as I woke up to snow.

    Happy Easter!

  8. i did my shopping this morning; hoping I won’t have to do it again for two weeks. It was such a weird feeling; more so than my previous trips. I came home, unlaoded my stuff, got out of my clothes and had to lay down for a bit; I was toast.
    Wish I could send you some sunshine.

  9. Anna Braun says

    After a few trips to my regular Superstore, even asking my husband to go with me to get the job done faster and help me not panic outright in the store, I’ve resigned myself to Safeway and all the extra cost that goes with it. The store is so much more pleasant, I don’t feel filthy after going and it’s worth the extra cost!

  10. You totally nailed it with your description of grocery shopping. It just feels so bleak and afterwards I’m just worn out – physically and mentally and most of all, emotionally. I recently read a book set in WWII and it was about two sisters in occupied France and a large part of the book was devoted to them lining up at stores with ration cards just trying to get any kind of food of any sort. It has been a comfort to imagine that and then feel grateful that despite the scariness of getting out these days, we at least still have plenty of fresh produce and butter and sugar, and we are getting by okay. So I’m trying to keep it positive, but at the same time dreading next week’s trip. It’s hard sometimes to focus on the positive these days.

Leave a Reply