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The Family Satz in the Time of Corona

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The Family Satz doesn’t do things halfway. They’re all in! Easter AND Passover. Salty and sweet. Stay up late, get up early. Laughter and tears. Three dogs and a black cat named Spot.

Today, Kate Satz (aka “Spicy K”) and her daughter Maclin settle in and stay for a while…

Hi Kate and Maclin! Thank you for sharing your wit and wisdom at Bacon today!

Maclin, I have such fond memories of you and my daughter Mary at Woodmont Christian Preschool. Your mom and dad were working long hours at Plumgood Foods, and you would come home with me and Mary pretty often. You were so smart and perceptive… also spirited, cozy, and dear. As you have remained. 

Kate, you know I’ve loved your badass self from the moment I met you in your pickup truck in the Woodmont Christian parking lot!

But let’s start this Bacon interview right here, right now. Where are you, and what does today look like? Yesterday? Tomorrow?

Kate: I’m…. at home! Today, like yesterday, is sunny and deliciously cool for June. Eric and I have taken the day off to celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary – early morning coffee outside on the terrace, hiking the Red Trail at Percy Warner with our 3 poodles, and stopping at Hewitt’s to choose a tree to plant in celebration. This afternoon, we’re grilling vegetables and bread to go with my third – and I hope, charmed – effort at homemade ricotta and late arugula from our garden. Al fresco supper with celebratory champagne, at home – heaven. 

Yesterday, I had my first in-the-flesh client meeting since mid-March, when we started working from home. Putting on a dress and heels after 3 months of athleisure was more intense than dressing for a first date! Driving and parking downtown was a white-knuckler, it felt so unfamiliar. All of this for 30 minutes of mask-muffled conversation – it was exhausting. I couldn’t get back home fast enough.

Maclin: Sitting on the back patio in the shade; it’s late afternoon so the sun has moved to the other side of the house which makes being outside somewhat nice. Blue skies, barely a breeze, and a wasp hovering uncomfortably close to me. Today was pretty uneventful – I read, I cleaned up my room a bit, I took a nap, I played with the dogs… pretty much the same as yesterday. I’ve been painting a pong table in the garage which has been a fun activity to do when it’s really too hot to be outside but I’m tired of being in the house. Tomorrow is my first day as a nanny for a 1 and 3 year old. I’m working from 9:30-5:30, so I expect to be exhausted for the next two months, but Mama pointed out that at least I won’t go into parenthood blindly! 

Do you feel like you’re adjusting to a “new normal” or waiting/hoping to get back to “normal as you knew it” before Corona?

Kate: Gosh, I hope there’s no going back. To be clear, the uncertainty, fear, disappointments and loss are devastating, and I’m holding my breath in hopes that students will get back to school and communities can gather again. But Corona has also been a great wakeup call, making us face issues we’ve avoided for too long: quality of life for senior citizens; health inequities rooted in systemic racism; the importance of communities and steady leadership; how to sit with boredom… the list goes on. It would be a waste not to create a healthier, more equitable “normal.”

Maclin: On a day to day basis, my normal is about to change again (nannying job), but for the past few months I definitely adjusted to a “new normal” of sorts, in terms of routines and habits. On a way-the-world-works and overall mindset basis, I agree with Mama, I hope that we don’t simply fall back into our old routines without making some changes. When we were sent home, my Intro to Legal Theory professor (Adam Sitze – the greatest ever!) reminded us that it isn’t usual for the majority to act in order to protect the minority. My hope is that maybe, even on the smallest of scales, we can change that. From healthcare access to the ability to buy groceries, there’s too much unnecessary suffering born of inequality in our country. If we’ve gained more awareness of this but nothing actually changes, I’ll be truly disappointed.

Would you send me a few pictures?

Kate with Baby Davy dog during an extended family Passover Zoom gone slightly awry

Maclin’s everyday breakfast (minus the bacon). How to make it: scramble two eggs with salt, pepper, and chives (the more the better) and then eat that with the avocado. Then 2-3 fruits and when we have bell peppers, I like to have a quarter of one sliced. Sometimes I’ll add turkey bacon. And lots and lots of coffee. The goal is lots of color, lots of nutrients, and lots of happy dancing in my seat while I’m eating. It’s so good that I have it for dinner sometimes too.

From Maclin: This is what my room looks like most of the time. You can see where I was trying to force myself out of bed for class – it didn’t last. Class happened in bed in my pjs. Not a bad view though.

From Maclin: This was just a good day, and it’s no secret that Spot is my favorite pet. I mean, he might be the best cat to ever exist. He’s super cool and I love him more than I do most people (oops?).

I understand that your whole family has been home for a while. Coming and going a bit of course. How has that been? And how are the dogs?! (Also – Maclin – when did you come home? Do you know if you’ll be going back to school in the fall?)

Kate: Truth – empty-nesting is pretty great! The abrupt return of our young-adult kids was an adjustment, but all told, it’s been fine. We are healthy, safe and together. I’ve just hated it for them; Jackson had only 2 weeks of his semester in Buenos Aires, and Maclin was over-the-moon happy as a freshman at Amherst. We won’t know until July, at the earliest, whether or not their schools will reopen.

We did give in to coronacrazy by adopting a puppy, despite my having vowed never to have 3 dogs again. After 2 days of heated puppy-name debate, someone just called him Dave, and we all started to laugh. So he is Dave Dog. Now that Isa has Dave to play with, Augie (11 yrs) has become Dog Emeritus, for which he is clearly grateful. 

Maclin: I think the only way I can describe it is conflicted. Part of me is truly pissed off that I’m not at school with friends, having my college experiences. Another part of me realizes that this extended family time is like an unexpected encore. With Jackson going into his last year of college, living together probably won’t ever happen like this again. So while I’m trying to stay grateful for this time, we’ve spent far too much time together & I’ve been escaping onto the roof a lot because no one can bother me up there. The pups are loopy but cute – Dave got his first haircut and I think it looks horrendous but no one asks me about that subject. I got home March 13th – Amherst was one of the first schools to send students packing. There isn’t any official word yet on whether or not we’re going back, but if we do, they bought 20 big tents and are going to have as many classes outside as possible. There was also mention of “physical barriers to promote social distancing” – whatever that means.

What’s on your mind right now?

Kate: I have grudging, fearful admiration for viruses. Seeing an invisible force of nature paralyze humanity across the globe is astonishing. Perhaps more astonishing, however, is our continuing to treat fellow humans with disrespect and cruelty in the face of such a foe. It’s crazy how quickly we put coronavirus on the backburner to allow our lesser angels to swarm around like Dementors. If a global virus can’t make us stop wasting our energy, creativity, and intellect on hating and hurting each other, what can? 

Maclin: Honestly, there is so much going on that I try not to think at all until I’m in a mindset where I can actually process. Between covid, systemic racism, police brutality, and the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and my own life – college, trying to live a relatively healthy life, and staying connected with people – I feel like I’m being pulled in a thousand different directions. Recently, I have felt completely uneducated. Reading about the crisis in Yemen, I’m learning about incidents that happened years ago… how could that have happened, and I didn’t know? I’ve also been working to educate myself on black history and perspectives, and I am equal parts ashamed it has taken me until now and confused how some of the ideas and experiences I’ve read about have never crossed my mind. But what a privilege it is to learn about racism rather than experience it.

What are you most worried about right now?

Kate: I am fearful of another COVID-19 whalloping when our country is so frayed, exhausted and rudderless.

Maclin: Besides the global pandemic and the continuation of systematic racism and having no clue what my future will look like or what I’m gonna do with my life? Probably my laundry – I hate doing it and it’s piling up.

What gives you hope?

Kate: Five teenage girls joining forces to organize and lead a peaceful protest march of thousands across our city, punctuated by megaphone calls to  “stay safe!” and “take care of each other!” Also, the science community rallying to find a vaccine. 

Maclin: Flowers – growing, blooming, embracing right where they are.

What are you reading/watching/listening to right now? We all need recommendations!

Kate: Currently, I’m reading The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd and How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram Kendi.

Next up: Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl. Podcasts I listen to include The Daily (New York Times), Death Sex & Money, Freakanomics Radio, and The Guilty Feminist. Eric and I are currently watching Billions. We’ve loved Orthodox, Succession, and Ozark.

Maclin: If you haven’t read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, stop what you’re doing and read it – it’s one of the most powerful books. I’m currently reading Thick & Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom, and I just finished The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison – highly recommend both!

Other favorites are The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan, The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, and Garden City by John Mark Comer. I’m slowly entering the podcast world – The Joe Rogan Experience (can’t say I like the guy but he interviews interesting people) and WHOA That’s Good (definitely geared towards young women, but it asks one question: what’s the best advice you’ve been given – and I like advice). If you need a long show, I recently finished all 15 seasons of Criminal Minds, but Hawaii Five-0, Outlander, Jack Ryan, Madam Secretary, and any John Mulaney specials are also great. 

What have you learned about others?

Kate: About others and myself – that we all need to listen more. Allow space to listen and try thinking differently, rather than jumping to reply or make a point probably formulated before even hearing the other person’s words. I find this disturbingly difficult to do.

Maclin: I feel like life has turned into that day when your teacher would say you could go to lunch early if you cleaned up the room quickly, and there were those one or two kids that wouldn’t help clean up because it “wasn’t their mess” and in doing so screwed it up for everybody else and then you’d finally get to lunch and the line would be super long and if those few people had just done their part you could already have your chicken nuggets but no, you’re standing in line. So what I’ve learned is that those one or two kids that won’t do their part (no one wants to clean up, but sometimes you just gotta suck it up and be a team player) have really tested my patience and sanity. Come on, y’all. Put a mask on and stop having parties. Like for real. Other generations were drafted into war, and we’re being asked to stay home and watch netflix. But to the other kids who pulled their weight and helped clean, thank you! Because even if it wasn’t necessarily “our mess,” it is our classroom, so yes, it really is ours to clean up. And even if we do end up late to lunch and have to stand in line longer, we’ll eventually get our chicken nuggets.

What advice would you give others – if any – for keeping spirits up in these uncertain times?

Kate: Dance parties. The more uncool and ridiculous the moves, the better. 

Maclin: What mama said – the annoyingly loud music is key. Oh, and give yourself and others a little grace, and try your best not to give your worst to the ones you love the most.

Let’s wrap up with some speed dating questions…

Favorite beverage in the Time of Corona?

Kate: A river of white Burgundy has run wide around here. 

Maclin: Am I allowed to say gin & tonic?

Giving beverages priority seating while grocery shopping…

Favorite ice cream?

Kate: Jeni’s brown butter almond

Maclin: Jeni’s Cream Puff

Most annoyed by?

Kate: Face masks hiding people’s smiles. 

Maclin: slow drivers & close-minded people 

Guilty pleasure?

Kate: Hot chocolate (just about) every afternoon, even if it requires cranking the AC.

Maclin: Fudge stripes (the cookies with the little elf on the package)

More or less cooking?

Kate: The greatest revelation of empty-nesting was not needing to cook or keep the fridge stocked. I’ve held onto that freedom, despite our full house, because cooking only when I feel like it is just delicious. Sometimes we cook for each other or cook together, and other times we fend for ourselves. Jackson makes a mean avocado toast with fresh pico, and Maclin’s scrambled eggs with chives are sublime. I’m the go-to for vegetables, and Eric cares for the carnivores. 

Maclin: Definitely more. My cooking at college was limited to ramen, microwave Annie’s mac n’ cheese, and toast. I’m a big fan of eating a lot of little snacks for meals. Gimme a cheese board and I’m very happy. All that being said, did I go buy ramen the other day because I was having withdrawals? Yes, yes I did. 

Sick of Zoom yet? HATE Zoom yet?

Kate: Zoom-for-work is fine. Seeing colleagues in their homes, often scruffier, with occasional pet and family fly-bys, has actually been a corona-bonus.  

Maclin: Is indifferent an option? 

Favorite place to be outside:

Kate: At home, front porch in the morning, back porch in the afternoon. I also love walking the hills in our neighborhood. During Corona, I’ve met many more neighbors and their dogs and seen kids on their bikes and in their yards like never before. I hope this continues.

Maclin: I’ve been taking drives to find wildflowers to pick, and that’s taken me to some pretty fields. Percy Warner is also a go-to. My usual ‘I-need-to-leave-the-house-so-I’m-going-for-a-drive’ place is the Natchez Trace bridge at sunset; it’s a fun drive and a pretty view.

Are you more or less yourself in the Time of Corona?

Kate: More in my element. I love being at home, am content in solitude, and Corona has brought valuable reflection. But too much of any good thing is not so good. I’m ready for some heaving, soundless laughter punctuated by a snort that restarts the circuit. This is equally elemental to me, if perhaps not as fit a muscle.

Maclin: I honestly have no clue. I changed A LOT when I got to college. I spent a good amount of time looking at who I was and figuring out which parts of me were actually true to me and which parts were there because I felt like I had to be a certain way going to Harpeth Hall and growing up in the south. I quickly dropped the latter parts and just opened myself up to the world. I made a lot of “un-me” choices that I realized were actually very “me” – I just didn’t know myself yet. So to have changed and grown and feel like a truly different person and to then be forced home at a time of life when all I crave is independence… well it’s a hot mess. There are days when the homebody in me is perfectly content, and there are days when I have a major cry about feeling lonely and disconnected and missing my people. So to actually answer the question, I am changing so much right now that I really don’t know if I’m any more or less me now than I was in December.

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Thank you Kate and Maclin! It’s okay to feel like things are a hot mess right now, Maclin. I think most of us kind-of do. Xoxo

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