Smile Politely

Dispatches from isolation: May 23rd

This column offers a glimpse into how people in C-U are working and spending their time during the stay-at-home order. You can read previous installments here. Have questions, or want to suggest a person for this series? Email us at [email protected].

How are you spending your days in isolation?


8:30 a.m.

This morning begins like every other. My husband brings me a cappuccino every morning before we officially start the day. (I’m either spoiled or loved.) This is our Coffee Conference. We talk about the media buzz surrounding J.B. Pritzker’s latest announcement about outside seating. All of our friends in the [restaurant] industry are moving through this as best as we all know how. It’s tough out there. We decide it’s best for us [The Bread Company] to continue to remain closed for now.

I check in on our family Marco Polos. Our family is spread around the country so I crave the snippets of their lives. We have family and friends who live solo, and this keeps us all super connected.

9:30 a.m.

My husband, Derrick, leaves for tennis. He’s been playing through a league at the Champaign Park District, which has been reopening its tennis league play. I’m happy for him and jealous for me. Before the shutdown I was playing soccer four nights a week, twice in a league at Soccer Planet and twice with Graybeard Soccer. In addition to that, we both spent two to three nights a week at the Y, and our kids played soccer with Urbana United, Soccer Planet, and Champaign Park District. This brought it all to a screeching halt.

10:30 a.m.

A close up of the body of a cream-colored acoustic guitar. Photo by Lindsay Aikman.

Photo by Lindsay Aikman.

Quick guitar check-can I play a simple Jack Johnson song? Still nope. Or Broken Halos? Yes, but only the basic chords.

Cereal for everyone.

Fortnite for the boys (eight and 11 years old). This is their main social network; it’s how they keep up with their cousins and best friends.

The dishes. With five of us in the house, the dishes never stop.

10:50 a.m.

Four images in one square grid. Each image shows a lock of blonde hair. The bottom right quadrant shows a lock of blonde hair and a pair of scissors. Photo by Lindsay Aikman.

Photo by Lindsay Aikman.

Hold up. 

Find evidence of cut hair. That’s a bad sign. It means there’s a bigger problem somewhere. I don’t care so much about hair, but I definitely care about the bold and brave decision making logic of a three year old who did this without consulting an adult. It’s like finding the cap to a permanent marker: Where is the rest of the disaster?

To everyone out there who is loving on a person (or more than one person) who is dependent on them for care, I see you. You are unsung heroes, my friends. This is precious and hard all at the same time. It is my hope that, after this — especially after this — we continue to be flexible with folks whose lives are intertwined with the love and care of our families and friends.

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sneak in some work. Even though it’s Saturday, we’re trying to meet a very important deadline: Tuesday Virtual Graduation. My colleague, Carolyn, and I are using to collect, edit and organize photos and video tributes to support our AVID class of 2020. We put a quick call out and the love has just been pouring in. Educators are some of the best people on earth, I swear. These kids (and their families) have been through it. And now they’re headed to college under uncertain circumstances. It’s easy for people to disparage teenagers, but the students we’re lucky enough to work with are incredible. I had so much fun as their teacher.

Quick call with one of my fave teacher friends, Cessily, aka @dj_cnote (she’s Tik Tok famous, so…) Laughed. Hard.

View of a long, reddish wood dining table. On the left is a bench with at least five large, fluffy pillows. There is a black laptop on the table, and a small pile of books. There is a jar with writing utensils, and at the edge of the table are four boxes with plants in them. Photo by Lindsay Aikman.

Photo by Lindsay Aikman.

3 p.m.

Head over to Parkland for one of my fave former student’s drive through graduation party — she just graduated from U of I! But somehow I fumbled the directions and missed the fun. 

It’s eerie, though, to see Dodds looking like an empty field of grass with the goals all netless and stacked in the parking lot like bones in a museum. 

3:45 to 5 p.m.

PB&J, sidewalk chalk drawings, bike repair, barefoot scooter time, hot sunshine, skateboard tricks and sprinkler joy. We’ve been eating at weird times and following our whims. We move at a kids’ pace these days. We don’t hate it. 

Though, there are those moments. At one point, our eight year old leans against me, drenched from the sprinkler, and says “I just wish we could go to Sholem.” Same, little man. Same. 

5ish p.m.

A blue yoga mat is laid out on a wood floor, looking out a wall of windows. Photo by Lindsay Aikman.

Photo by Lindsay Aikman.

Before this, I was also taking an adult ballet class through Champaign Park District. I love our brilliant instructor, Jessica. She’s so exact. And we had the privilege of dancing to a live pianist, the talented James. Now that we are using our tall kitchen counters as barres, I try to get an online yoga or ballet class in to stay centered and stretched out.

6 p.m.

A grid of four photos set in a square. Upper left is muscian Ben Folds sitting at a keyboard with a guitar in his lap. Upper right is a a close up of a small childs hand painting the fingernails of an adult. Bottom right is Ben Folds sitting in front of a keyboard with a guitar in his lap. Bottom left is a toddler sitting at a drumset playing the drums. Photo by Lindsay Aikman.

Photo by Lindsay Aikman.

Ben Folds is a weekly ritual. My sister, Heather, and our best friend from childhood, Julie, link up and we text throughout his weekly live show. We haven’t missed one. This is week nine. I watch in the basement so I can yell/sing. 

7 p.m.

Look: Amazing meals have come from this kitchen. You will have to just trust me on that. My husband learned to bake by his mother’s side and cook in Bread Co.’s kitchen on busy nights. But, like every family right now we are using up our leftovers and keeping things simple. 

8 p.m.

The three year old, with her boundless energy, agrees to take a little neighborhood walk with me near Clark Park. The weather is balmy. The neighborhood is calm. We pick up rocks, stuff some leaves in pockets, sniff some flowers, and the sun sets.

8:45 p.m.

Kid bedtime-ish

9:20 to10 p.m.

A can of Rigg's Beer Company American Lager sits on a wood table. Photo by Lindsay Aikman.

Photo by Lindsay Aikman.

By this point, the house has quieted down, so I go off-duty in our back porch. I love these Riggs cans; they came out so nice. We carry Riggs on tap at the restaurant, and there was nothing better than having a crisp lager with my favorite, a lemon garlic greens salad (extra capers). Shout out to our good friends at Big Thorn and the good people at Tryptich, too. I play a little more guitar but then one of the strings snaps. 

With that, it’s time to get to bed and look forward to the rest of our slow paced, kid-focused weekend. 

Lindsay Aikman is a mom of 3, a teacher at Centennial High School and co-owner of The Bread Company with her husband, Derrick Aikman, who operates the business.

Top image by Lindsay Aikman.

More Articles