A set or system of names or terms, as those used in a particular science or art, by an individual or community, etc.  The names or terms comprising a set or system.I love words. Reading them. Speaking them. Words tether me to this world; conversation is how I connect.  I’ve written words for other people to speak . I’ve edited words others have written. A highlight of my tenure as a “Parent Tot” teacher was using the word “nomenclature” in an email to my “students,” those just stepping onto the rollercoaster that is parenthood.


Listen to the lilting beauty of that big, juicy word. Now, think about the elegance of its precision. A specific system.

Specificity. I miss you. “Be specific,” admonishes my trainer as  I work to follow her precise movements.  I look forward to her weekly visits – until she arrives.

“Be home at 11pm, not 11:05, or 11:30ish. 11pm” Now she’s home at 11pm – because she never goes out Like everyone in my family, she’s here. All the time. “We’ll start our meeting at 10AM on the dot.” Only we can’t – there is inevitably a bandwidth or some other logistical challenge.

Specificity, I miss your sibling, Certainty, and your cousin, Consistency.  Can the three of you come out to play? Pretty please? I know many who miss you.

I miss folding the day into history, certain that as I prepare for bed, others are outside fueling our shared air with laughter, arguments – love. I am no longer certain that the isolation that protects our bodies fuels productive arguments, joyous laughter or love making. I fear that our social fabric may fray further. I miss the certainty that my connection to society’s communal blanket is secure.

Consistency’s definition has been transformed by COVID -19. Consistency now means monotony – same four walls, same limitations on what can be done. I miss the old, reassuring parameters of consistency; when meetings were in person, school meant kids outside of the house – and poor, non-specific form could be corrected with a touch.

This new normal is not at all normal. The nomenclature it has introduced is not specific or systematic. It is bizarre and unnatural. Social Distancing – a euphemism that tries to mask the limits of connecting only through technology. Zoom – the new mode of relationship glitches and frustrates, encouraging  many to give into the urge to retreat and to isolate. R values, contact tracing, antibody testing – the list this lover of words wishes I never knew goes on. Will the nomenclature of this long twilight never end?

The only constant, the only certainty in my present reality is change. Change of late is too constant, too specific, too consistent. Sports are back. Well, not really. Schools can open. Nope, now they can’t.  It’s safe – go ahead; go out to eat, throw a birthday party. No, no don’t – you’re too close together. My instincts have been warped; suddenly and uncharacteristically  I, long to hug strangers. But we can’t. At least not yet.

Traffic, where for art thou? It goes against every law of the universal order to travel from 90272 to 90210 in 10 minutes. I need time to adjust from beachside consumerism to the Beverly Hills’ brand.

I haven’t been left in the dust by a Prius since March. Even my family has stopped telling me I drive too slowly. I find parking everywhere. And easily. It’s so bizarre, I almost slammed into a car on the 10 – it’s been so long since I’ve seen brake lights, I barely recognized them.

“You in class? In  a meeting? ” How can we tell when another member of the family is productively occupied? How can I admonish my kids to step away from their devices when  it’s the only safe way to connect – and when I now sleep with my  phone cradled like a teddy bear.

In isolation, the mundane becomes as novel as the virus that vexes us. This is the cadence of COVID -19, the nomenclature of a pandemic. I long to retire this system of words and find a new rubric of resilience and recovery.




1 thoughts on “Nomenclature

  1. ProfRobert says:

    If it weren’t for the lack of income (and, of course, the horrible devastation caused by millions of cases and over 180,000 deaths), I’d be entirely ecstatic about the shutdown. Other than friends and family members, I can’t stand people. I have a lovely house, one with the necessary ration of 1:1 or better of floors to humans, that I never want to leave. Groceries, liquor, restaurant food are all steps away and/or deliver. The internet provides for all my reading needs, the TV and DVR for all my video ones. The only impediments are to travel, which I do miss (though with limited reopening, we can drive to places and stay). Of course I want things to go back to normal, but in the meantime, I’m enjoying the break.

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