Friday, June 5, 2020

Covid Chronicles: Meet Kimberly!

Depending on where you are, we are almost three months into a shelter-in-place in response to the covid-19/coronavirus pandemic. (Keep in mind regarding timing, these blogs are being rolled out slowly, so some people may have filled out their answers up to a month ago.) In addition, the horrific death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer has caused civil unrest and forced curfews in many areas this week, adding to the isolation and frustration for many. One hundred years from now, how will we look back at the unprecedented “closing” of the entire world in response to a virus? There is a lot of hate being thrown at governments and politicians. One side feels they aren’t taking this seriously enough. The other side feels like our freedoms have been taken from us and we should re-open immediately. No one is happy. Underneath all of that are individuals and families just trying to make it. Some of us are single and sheltering alone. Some of us are in crowded households with no time or space to ourselves. I wanted to capture the stories of those individuals...my friends. How are they dealing with all of this? I wanted to do this blog to celebrate those people who are holding it down during some really difficult financial and emotional times.

Tell us your first name and a little bit about yourself.

Kimberly. I am a writer, and mother of a beautiful teenage son.

In which part of the world do you live?

West Coast USA

Are you sheltering in place alone or with others? Tell us about your “quarantine” family.

Currently alone. I occasionally social distant at a private club for change of scenery and to get some nature walks in

On a scale of 1-10, how have you been at this whole sheltering thing anyway? 1 means you are essentially carrying on as if nothing is going on. 10 means you’re not leaving your house for any reason and having everything delivered to you. (No judgments here...just curious how people would self-rate.)

8 - although this is my normal routine with just a slight change of social distant (no hugs are hard!) and wearing masks. The life of a writer doesn't change a whole lot.

Do you know anyone who has/had covid-19?

NO

If you are alone, how are you handling the isolation? If you are with others, how are you handling that?

Alone and used to it, however I do have my moments of depression while I'm trying to do things that I would typically get relief from with some social attention. I really miss hugging my friends. Touch is really important.

Are you able to get out and enjoy nature anywhere near you?

Yes but not as much as I would like.

What kind of self-care habits have you put in place to keep you sane?

I had many and they are starting to dwindle as I am trying to keep up with stressful things this week. So at the present moment I cannot even remember what I do....wait, baths! I take salt baths to relax :)

If you have kids, how is homeschooling going?

I do not homeschool any longer. My son is away and that is also a stressor during this time but we do have video chats twice a week now.

What kind of work do you do? Are you able to work from home? How is that going?

Writer, yes I work from home mostly and sometimes I go on drives or in nature to do it for a change of scenery. It is nice (I've been loving it) however it's the people that are stressing out and watching too much news that stress me out when I encounter them.

Be honest...you’ve cut your own hair, right?

YES. lol Just a trim so it came out ok :)

What surprising positive thing has happened because of the time being spent at home/with family?

I've packed up a lot of my house and moved it into the storage. I've been trying very hard to write and research proper placements for my son..."stuck" at home has forced it.

How are you doing birthdays and other celebrations with all of the restrictions in place?

I don't but I did buy myself some flowers for mother's day and some for my own mother.

What changes do you think you will permanently implement after this experience?

Continuously looking for a balance of using technology and going in nature, etc.

Are you ready to get back into the world (with safety precautions in place)?

YES but I don't know it will change much depending on the rest of the population's readiness.

Which TV shows have you been watching and what do you think everyone else should start?

Hmmmmm. not sure...not a big TV watcher anymore.

What are you happy to leave behind in the “old world?”

Not sure.

What can you appreciate most about the “new world?”

Hopefully people will slow down more and have more compassion for others now.

What is the first thing you’re going to do when the shelter-in-place is lifted?

Go on my regular hike trail!!!!! I wish I could do it now but it's too far since part of the park is closed.

Who is the person you have missed seeing most during this time? 

Honestly, my ex (we split up after the SIP). I would say my son but I have been able to maintain the same communication with him all year as usual.

What song would best represent the time you’ve spent at home?

Still learning by Halsey is a good one. Many others but it all depends on how I feel on that day.

In a fantasy world where the virus doesn’t exist and money isn’t an issue, where is your dream vacation destination?

The beach. I don't care where...just get me to the water and I will be happy. :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Covid Chronicles: Meet Gina!

Depending on where you are, we are almost three months into a shelter-in-place in response to the covid-19/coronavirus pandemic. In addition, the horrific death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer has caused civil unrest and forced curfews in many areas this week, adding to the isolation and frustration for many. One hundred years from now, how will we look back at the unprecedented “closing” of the entire world in response to a virus? There is a lot of hate being thrown at governments and politicians. One side feels they aren’t taking this seriously enough. The other side feels like our freedoms have been taken from us and we should re-open immediately. No one is happy. Underneath all of that are individuals and families just trying to make it. Some of us are single and sheltering alone. Some of us are in crowded households with no time or space to ourselves. I wanted to capture the stories of those individuals...my friends. How are they dealing with all of this? I wanted to do this blog to celebrate those people who are holding it down during some really difficult financial and emotional times.

Tell us your first name and a little bit about yourself.

My name is Gina Marie, and I am a self-employed Massage Therapist and Personal Trainer. I am married to a great guy, and I have a pretty freaking good life.

In which part of the world do you live?

I live in Pleasanton, California, right in the middle of downtown. Nauseatingly beautiful.. like a fairy tale.

Are you sheltering in place alone or with others? Tell us about your “quarantine” family.

My quarantine family includes me, my husband (who is an Interior Designer with an office that he always runs from our home), a neurotic dog, and a year old cat who is very fucking confused as to why the people never leave any more. :D I will also include my best friend and our next door neighbor- although we don't "live together", she is a single woman and we weren't going to make her stay completely away for her mental health.

 
On a scale of 1-10, how have you been at this whole sheltering thing anyway? 1 means you are essentially carrying on as if nothing is going on. 10 means you’re not leaving your house for any reason and having everything delivered to you. (No judgments here...just curious how people would self-rate.)

The first 4 weeks.. we were a 10. We didn't leave the house for anything. We lived off whatever groceries we had, frozen veggies, etc. We didn't leave for anything. For the next 3 weeks, we went to the grocery store once, and to Home Depot once but didn't see anyone else or go anywhere. In the last 3 weeks, we have had our very closest friends who have also been socially distancing over for dinner in the back yard every week, because the social isolation is just too much. My mental health has started going to shit- and this helps. I also saw my daughter (again, out in my back yard) and I hugged her before she left because I just can't see my child and not hug her. She is so precious to me and if that's how I die, then that's how I go. :D

Do you know anyone who has/had covid-19?

I do. My very good friend has a 17 year old daughter in London who had it and was TERRIBLY sick. My neighbor's sister also died from it a few weeks ago.

If you are alone, how are you handling the isolation? If you are with others, how are you handling that?

I love my husband, with every ounce of my being. But at 66 days in (but who's counting?) we have started picking at each other which is COMPLETELY not us. I am so tired of Zoom meetings. I am the president of our networking group and I have to run the call and I just hate it. I was doing ok until a few weeks ago... I don't know what changed but my mental health is just in the toilet. I cry a lot. I sleep 11 hours a day because I really have no reason to get up early. I miss my gym and I have done all the online workouts.. but they are losing the meaningfulness that they have for the whole quarantine. I am tired of exercising on my living room floor. I need a massage. I want to wander the aisles at Target again, Life is just so.. Boring.

[Note from Lori regarding timing: I am rolling these blogs out slowly, so responses were filled out a couple of weeks ago. Therefore, even more time has passed since this timing was mentioned…]

Are you able to get out and enjoy nature anywhere near you?

I walk outside every single day, and I love to play in my garden. It has never been more beautiful- I water every day and I have had time to play in my roses. I love being outside. And, of course.. I have been donning my Unicorn costume, making inspirational signs, and dancing on the corner of my street every single day. I find it brings a little normal back and it makes people smile (including me.) That has been a life saver for my mental health.

What kind of self-care habits have you put in place to keep you sane?

I still try to do my Zoom workouts with Prodigy Fitness every day- they really are amazing and almost all my friends are from the gym. I get to see my friends that way. I take my supplements and vitamins every day (totally a new thing for me). I go for a walk with my best friend most days to connect, be outside, and get some movement.

If you have kids, how is homeschooling going?

I have 5 kids, 4 are adults- my son is finishing his Senior year of High School. He is doing this by himself, and it has been very hard for him finishing up high school like this. He is bummed about prom, graduation, all the senior stuff- it is all cancelled.

I have NEVER been so grateful that my mids are older- I can't imagine trying to homeschool right now.

What kind of work do you do? Are you able to work from home? How is that going?

I am a Massage Therapist and self- employed so I am a Phase 3 (and late phase 3, apparently) worker. I haven't worked since March 16. The CAMTC (my licensing board) has prohibited me from working since that date, so I am dead in the water in my career. I miss my clients, who are mostly seniors and cancer patients. Much of my anxiety and depression stems from me having no idea if I will have a career to return to when all of this dust settles.

Be honest...you’ve cut your own hair, right?

I have cut my husband's three times, but mine is still intact today. But hey.. tomorrow is a new day and I am definitely a "race car in the red" these days :D

What surprising positive thing has happened because of the time being spent at home/with family?

My hands have finally got a rest, and I have been able to see what my husband does at work every day while I am usually at work. I have really connected with my next door neighbors and that has been wonderful. We have started a Family Zoom Call night every week with my husband's parents in Florida, his 2 kids (one in Florida, one in Arizona), his sister, and I and we totally get to connect as a family, and we didn't ever do that before. It has been really nice.

How are you doing birthdays and other celebrations with all of the restrictions in place?

We did a Zoom birthday for my husband's birthday March 22nd- it was early in the quarantine. I have done a few birthday walk-by's of friends dressed as the Unicorn!

What changes do you think you will permanently implement after this experience?

The weekly family Zoom call has been nice, and the neighborhood "sit in the yard 6 feet apart" parties have been great. I would love to keep that going.

Are you ready to get back into the world (with safety precautions in place)?

Part of me is so ready to throw caution to the wind and get back to a normal life. The other part of me is absolutely terrified that if I do, I will die alone in a COVID unit- this is TRULY my greatest fear.

Which TV shows have you been watching and what do you think everyone else should start?

The Tiger King was garbage- I watched it anyways. I've been watching Orange is the New Black while I sew masks. It's an older show but I decided to watch that right now because I am in jail too haha

What are you happy to leave behind in the “old world?”

People can be such selfish pricks. Maybe they will see that there are so many important things that just don't matter. Also, that Actors and Sports personalities weren't the people we needed during this time- it was doctors, nurses, farmers, and people who get food and supplies to us. It would do us well to remember who REAL heroes are.

What can you appreciate most about the “new world?”

I loved seeing neighbors volunteering to help other neighbors, especially seniors. Groups are helping people get groceries, sewing masks for medical workers, bringing food to children, and just helping people in need. The new world is FILLED with people who want to help.

What is the first thing you’re going to do when the shelter-in-place is lifted?

I want to go to Yosemite- it has had so much time to heal from the disease of humanity and I would love to appreciate its beauty. I have never been there, and I have lived here for my ENTIRE LIFE!

Who is the person you have missed seeing most during this time?

My 28 year old daughter, who used to spend every single Sunday with me. I miss her terribly.

What song would best represent the time you’ve spent at home?

"All You Need is Love" - The Beatles

What significant impact, if any, will the virus have on your plans for this year?

My son was supposed to move to California and go to UC Santa Cruz in the fall- that is all on hold. Our Hawaiian vacation was supposed to happen in April, and that didn't happen and we have looked forward to that for 6 months. Monetarily, we are devastated from this quarantine. It will take YEARS to recover from it financially- if we do at all.

In a fantasy world where the virus doesn’t exist and money isn’t an issue, where is your dream vacation destination?

I want to go to Europe with my husband for a month, and see it all. I want to see the Coliseum in Rome. I want to see Big Ben, and the amazing architecture in old towns. I want to see it all. I want to REALLY live.

Note from Lori: Okay, so what Gina doesn’t fully mention is how she’s the dancing unicorn of Pleasanton (although she did attach a photo)! She goes out on the corner near her house and dances to spread joy. She’s been on the news and everything! And she has a Vespa club! At Christmas, she dresses up in a Santa suit and drives her adorable little Vespa around, also spreading joy. Anyway, I know the situation doesn’t garner a lot of joy right now, but her posts give me life!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Covid Chronicles: Meet Ginger!

Depending on where you are, we are a little over two months into a shelter-in-place in response to the covid-19/coronavirus pandemic. One hundred years from now, how will we look back at the unprecedented “closing” of the entire world in response to a virus? There is a lot of hate being thrown at governments and politicians. One side feels they aren’t taking this seriously enough. The other side feels like our freedoms have been taken from us and we should re-open immediately. No one is happy. Underneath all of that are individuals and families just trying to make it. Some of us are single and sheltering alone. Some of us are in crowded households with no time or space to ourselves. I wanted to capture the stories of those individuals...my friends. How are they dealing with all of this? I wanted to do this blog to celebrate those people who are holding it down during some really difficult financial and emotional times.

Tell us your first name and a little bit about yourself.

Ginger Merriman. I’m 57 I live in Fremont ca USA. I have worked as a hair dresser, an EMT and an Administrator.

Are you sheltering in place alone or with others? Tell us about your “quarantine” family.

I’m sheltering in place with my husband. We have been married 28 years this August. He is retired and I was between jobs for 5 months and had just gone back to work part time when the shelter in place order was issued. That 5 months gave us some practice on how to spend a lot of time together without killing each other.

On a scale of 1-10, how have you been at this whole sheltering thing anyway? 1 means you are essentially carrying on as if nothing is going on. 10 means you’re not leaving your house for any reason and having everything delivered to you. (No judgments here...just curious how people would self-rate.)

I’m going to say around a 2 or 3. Our daily life hasn’t changed much I’m still working in an essential business for a shipping company. We walk a 2.5 mile loop in our neighborhood most days. We still shop for groceries the same way (every few days) the things that have changed for us are the restrictions from outside. We have also had company, 2 very good friends of my husband’s have visited him. They hung out in the garage (normal for us) with the door open and visited from across the garage it was really cute.

Do you know anyone who has/had covid-19?

No... I do know 2 people who have died of non covid related issues since the shelter in place order.

If you are alone, how are you handling the isolation? If you are with others, how are you handling that?

I’m not alone but I have to say I feel very restricted and oppressed.

Are you able to get out and enjoy nature anywhere near you?

Yes we are still walking in our neighborhood and so are some of the other regular walkers in our neighborhood. We are also seeing some new regulars.

What kind of self-care habits have you put in place to keep you sane?

Walking, avoiding the news, being kind to others, practicing gratitude. I would however really like to get a massage and a pedicure.

If you have kids, how is homeschooling going?

No kids...

What kind of work do you do? Are you able to work from home? How is that going?

I work for a shipping company. I work in a department that subcontracts to Amazon. When the order was first issued we were still working out of the Amazon fulfillment center in Newark. 2 weeks in Amazon made the choice to restrict all subcontractors for the facility. So now I work at the Ontrac hub in Fremont. I have to say I do feel less exposed. In contrast to Amazon’s huge and very populated facility, I’m now in an office by myself. I share a work station, my counterpart works at night. We each clean the work station at the beginning and end of each shift. Because we are a separate department I only have in-person contact with one other person. I feel safe there as far as my exposure goes.

Be honest...you’ve cut your own hair, right?

Nope!!! I’m very lucky I have a hair cut that is growing out really well. And I stopped coloring my hair 2 years ago.

What surprising positive thing has happened because of the time being spent at home/with family?

I’m going to say that for the most part everyone has been very respectful. I haven’t been the recipient of anyone’s ignorance or anxiety. Although I personally know people who have. A friend of ours who is Vietnamese was verbally accosted at Costco. And the elderly neighbor (89) got really distressed when the neighbor boys mowed everyone’s lawns one afternoon. My husband had to defuse the situation because the boys’ dad doesn’t speak much English and the boys would never talk back to an elder. So in light of those two things I am grateful every day for ALL the good interactions I have with our neighbors and service providers in our community.

How are you doing birthdays and other celebrations with all of the restrictions in place?

Well we haven’t had to cross that bridge personally but I did get to be part of a zoom party for my niece and I got to see a video of my sisters children and grandchildren giving her a birthday parade. That one made me cry...

What changes do you think you will permanently implement after this experience?

Not much as I have really not had to change much.

Nationally my husband thinks more people will continue to work from home now that companies have figured out that process.

What significant impact, if any, will the virus have on your plans for this year?

Our annual trip to Calistoga for the World of Outlaws sprint car show in September will most likely be impacted. Not sure if spectators will be allowed at that time.

I’m going to put this here because it is not addressed directly in any of your questions. Managing health care during this time. We have each had a significant event for which we needed medical care. We did receive treatment but it was difficult to get that ball rolling. My husband needed an X-ray and PT and I needed blood work. I felt there was a reluctance to order those tests and in both situations I had to be persistent to get them ordered. The protocol in place is strict to enter Kaiser for said tests and I am impressed with that even though it was a pain in the patootie.

Are you ready to get back into the world (with safety precautions in place)?

OH GOD YES.... Please.

Which TV shows have you been watching and what do you think everyone else should start?

Old stuff... past seasons of CSI and Bones

New Stuff... 911 and date line. I have to say I’m not happy with some of the commercials with a COVID / shelter in place spin while they are tastefully done, TV is my escape and I really don’t want to be reminded of COVID during my TV time. Thank god for DVRs and being able to fast forward past that shit.

What are you happy to leave behind in the “old world?”

I’m going to be pessimistic here and say I don’t think much will be left behind.

Well maybe individuals will find growth and maybe to a small degree as a society but definitely not as a political body.

What can you appreciate most about the “new world?”

Again Debbie Downer here... I think the world will just find new dysfunction at least politically. I hope I’m blown away by a major societal shift but I just don’t see that happening on a global or even a national scale. And that makes me sad.

What is the first thing you’re going to do when the shelter-in-place is lifted?

Get Chinese food at the little restaurant we like that is currently closed.

Go shopping at Ross, Marshalls and Home Goods.

Get a massage and a Pedicure.

I put them in the order I think they will be available.

Who is the person you have missed seeing most during this time?

Because we live away from our families how we interact with them hasn’t changed.

What song would best represent the time you’ve spent at home?

Under Pressure Queen/David Bowie.

In a fantasy world where the virus doesn’t exist and money isn’t an issue, where is your dream vacation destination?

If money and travel time were not an issue and Scotty could just beam be over. An African Safari OR the Dead Sea.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Covid Chronicles: Meet Christine!

Depending on where you are, we are a little over two months into a shelter-in-place in response to the covid-19/coronavirus pandemic. One hundred years from now, how will we look back at the unprecedented “closing” of the entire world in response to a virus? There is a lot of hate being thrown at governments and politicians. One side feels they aren’t taking this seriously enough. The other side feels like our freedoms have been taken from us and we should re-open immediately. No one is happy. Underneath all of that are individuals and families just trying to make it. Some of us are single and sheltering alone. Some of us are in crowded households with no time or space to ourselves. I wanted to capture the stories of those individuals...my friends. How are they dealing with all of this? I wanted to do this blog to celebrate those people who are holding it down during some really difficult financial and emotional times.

Tell us your first name and a little bit about yourself.

My name is Christine and I currently live alone. I was supposed to start peer support classes right before all this happened, but then everything got shut down. I'm just trying to survive, but it's been hard.

In which part of the world do you live?

Quincy, Massachusetts

 
Are you sheltering in place alone or with others? Tell us about your “quarantine” family.

I'm by myself.

On a scale of 1-10, how have you been at this whole sheltering thing anyway? 1 means you are essentially carrying on as if nothing is going on. 10 means you’re not leaving your house for any reason and having everything delivered to you. (No judgments here...just curious how people would self-rate.)
I'd say I'm about a 7 or 8.

Do you know anyone who has/had covid-19?

Yes, my aunt passed away on April 5th from it.

And my mom, she recovered and is actually back to work.

If you are alone, how are you handling the isolation? If you are with others, how are you handling that?

It is/has taken a toll on my mental health. I miss my family. I just wanna give my mom a hug.

Are you able to get out and enjoy nature anywhere near you?

I go on walks and try to take it all in but honestly I'm tired of seeing the same thing.

What kind of self-care habits have you put in place to keep you sane?

Doing my hair at least 2x a week, masks, doing my nails.

Be honest...you’ve cut your own hair, right?

I sure have! But, to be fair, I went to cosmetology school.

What surprising positive thing has happened because of the time being spent at home/with family?

Mmmmmm.......

How are you doing birthdays and other celebrations with all of the restrictions in place?

Zoom!

What changes do you think you will permanently implement after this experience?

Everything is gonna be different!

Are you ready to get back into the world (with safety precautions in place)?

Yes

Which TV shows have you been watching and what do you think everyone else should start?

Shameless,tiger king, good girls, Nicky jam

What is the first thing you’re going to do when the shelter-in-place is lifted?

Give my mom a hug.

Who is the person you have missed seeing most during this time?

My mom

What song would best represent the time you’ve spent at home?

It's the end of the world....

In a fantasy world where the virus doesn’t exist and money isn’t an issue, where is your dream vacation destination?

Hawaii

Monday, May 18, 2020

Covid Chronicles: Meet ME!


Date "night"
Depending on where you are, we are a little over two months into a shelter-in-place in response to the covid-19/coronavirus pandemic. One hundred years from now, how will we look back at the unprecedented “closing” of the entire world in response to a virus? There is a lot of hate being thrown at governments and politicians. One side feels they aren’t taking this seriously enough. The other side feels like our freedoms have been taken from us and we should re-open immediately. No one is happy. Underneath all of that are individuals and families just trying to make it. Some of us are single and sheltering alone. Some of us are in crowded households with no time or space to ourselves. I wanted to capture the stories of those individuals...my friends. How are they dealing with all of this? I wanted to do this blog to celebrate those people who are holding it down during some really difficult financial and emotional times.

I couldn’t write this blog and ask others to answer my questions without making myself answer them first...so I will kick it off!


Tell us your first name and a little bit about yourself.

My name is Lori and I am the blogger behind Confessions of a Twirly Girl. I am in my 40’s, newly in a relationship, and (until recently) had been excitedly spending a lot more time in nature.

In which part of the world do you live?

I am in the San Francisco Bay Area in California.

Are you sheltering in place alone or with others? Tell us about your “quarantine” family.

I recently moved across the street from my brother, so our households are operating as one family unit. It consists of my brother and his wife, their five year old son, and 18 month old daughter. My boyfriend is also here, and we have his ten year old son every other weekend.

Family hike
On a scale of 1-10, how have you been at this whole sheltering thing anyway? 1 means you are essentially carrying on as if nothing is going on. 10 means you’re not leaving your house for any reason and having everything delivered to you. (No judgments here...just curious how people would self-rate.)

I recently threw this question out on Facebook, not realizing how different everyone’s ideas would be on what a model (I want to call it prisoner, but I know that’s not fair to use) quarantiner (also not the right word, but whatever) would be. I initially rated myself a 6-7 but quickly dropped myself to a 4-5. I am working from home most days. I go into the office at least once a week. I have chosen to visit with certain family members though. And I do grocery shopping myself. However, I wear the masks (which is required when in an “essential business” in Contra Costa County) and use tons of hand sanitizer (which I hate because I feel like we overuse antibacterial products anyway). So I don’t feel like I am being extremely irresponsible but I am certainly not being a model quarantiner either.

Do you know anyone who has/had covid-19?

Not to my knowledge (although I do know a couple of people who believe they may have had it before testing was available).

If you are alone, how are you handling the isolation? If you are with others, how are you handling that?

I have a unique situation in that I moved into a new house just a few weeks before the shelter-in-place was ordered for our county. I moved to be closer to my family, and also got into a new relationship right before my move (with someone I’ve known for a few years). My boyfriend is sheltered in place with me. I essentially went from a single girl with a full social calendar to a stay-at-home working secondary mom with a full house. This house is full of love but it has definitely been hard on me at times. I miss being able to go out and be social with friends, as well as simply being able to go to a beach or hike anywhere I want. I have a brand new relationship that went from zero to sixty in like five seconds. Although we are getting along great, I do sometimes need some time to sit alone. I haven’t been writing or doing other witchy things like I used to. I need to get back to that.

Are you able to get out and enjoy nature anywhere near you?

Yes, we ride bikes a lot. Many of the parking lots and bathrooms to local trails are closed, so I only have a couple of places I can safely hike. I know it is better than nothing but I am ready to get back to all of my favorite places (like the Muir Woods/Beach area, which is completely shut down). I also did a coast drive about a month ago, which was nice but some counties are writing $1,000 tickets simply for being out of your area. We went to Santa Cruz to see a beach the weekend after that (and after reports that the beaches were to be opened), but a park ranger was not letting people sit. You had to be engaged in some kind of activity. So, I feel like, yes, I have access to nature, but I will be happy when my options are opened back up.

Social distant hellos
What kind of self-care habits have you put in place to keep you sane?

I try to do yoga 5-6 days per week. I also try to ride bikes with the family most days. I know this may sound kind of stupid (like, of course people know how to do this), but I make myself engage in normal care, like I shower every day and put on clean clothes. I think it can be easy when you’re working from home (or not working) to skip showers or wear the same thing for a few days. I think it contributes to a downward spiral in the mental health department for me. I also started trying to do yoga first thing in the morning instead of waiting for lunchtime or doing it later in the afternoon or evening. It just gets it out of the way and starts my day off better. Then it leaves me time to ride bikes at lunch or in the evening before dinner. I also noticed I’m snacking a lot (which has added up to a few pounds on the scale). So I am also trying to get back to eating normal meals, and no snacks. I don’t like to obsess on my weight but I have been at a fairly steady weight for a while and I don’t want to get too far away from that.

If you have kids, how is homeschooling going?

I don’t have kids but I am watching my sisters-in-law and friends through Facebook. Holy smokes. Good on all of you. I don’t think I could do it!

What kind of work do you do? Are you able to work from home? How is that going?

I have been in the legal field for about 25 years. I have been in local government for the last five. I am able to work from home, although I go into the office once a week to pick up mail and do things that are just easier to do there. I guess I thought I would love working from home (I did it before and liked it). I think the difference this time is the general isolation from not being able to go do other things. I have been working from home since March 16, but we have been kept from doing anything social since then as well. So two months of feeling like I’m stuck at home is kind of my upper limit (see my blog about freaking out when I was trying to go back to school). I do appreciate being able to ride bikes with the kids at lunch, or being able to throw in a load of laundry while I’m working. So there are some perks. I wouldn’t mind, when we return to a new normal, working from home maybe one or two days a week. But I will be happy to get back to my office. I will also say I am so grateful to be in this new house during all of this. I have a three bedroom well-lit house as opposed to a dark and crowded condo. I have more room to work, a backyard to take sun breaks in, and have plenty of room to do yoga right by my desk. In order to save money, our government agency has opted to impose furlough days on us, so we have to take some unpaid time off every month. Plus I lost my cost of living increase scheduled for July, as well as the 401k contribution they used to give me. Unfortunately, this pay cut isn’t being given across the board at work, so it is creating some animosity. I am just trying to remind myself that I am grateful to have a job when so many are out of work.

Be honest...you’ve cut your own hair, right?

No but I got it cut literally days before the shelter-in-place was ordered and I really only need it cut every six months. I have dyed it a couple of times already. Thankfully, I learned how to do this a couple of years ago, so I haven’t completely fried my hair. Also double thankfully, I gave up highlights a few years ago, so I can do my own hair fairly easily. My boyfriend, however, had been begging me to cut his hair, which I begrudgingly did last week. It turned out way better than I expected. My sister-in-law and I also cut the baby’s hair about a month ago. We called my mom, who is a hair dresser so she could talk us through it. It didn’t look awesome but it didn’t look as bad as I thought it would either. Luckily, she’s a baby and we can’t go anywhere anyway so she doesn’t have to know we gave her uneven hair. At least it isn’t in her face anymore.

Stretching with the baby...pre-haircut
What surprising positive thing has happened because of the time being spent at home/with family?

I love eating dinner with my family every night. I appreciate my boyfriend because he often cooks for all of us (we switch back and forth between households each night). My house and heart are full every single night. One of my favorite things is my 18-month-old niece has a special chair at my house that she knows is hers, and as soon as she gets here, she runs to it so my boyfriend can put her in. We use a yoga strap to seat belt her in and she lifts her arms for it like she knows the drill. It is so cute.

How are you doing birthdays and other celebrations with all of the restrictions in place?

We haven’t really had a lot of these but expect some will be coming. We did spend Mother’s Day at my brother’s house but they have plenty of space for social distancing. I actually have a couple of baby showers in June and am wondering if we will get to have them! I moved my housewarming party from April to May to June. If the shelter orders are extended anymore, I will probably just cancel and party another time.

What changes do you think you will permanently implement after this experience?

I don’t know that I will personally implement any changes that aren’t forced upon me by the government or social pressure. For now, I wear the mask because I am told I have to in public (and the understanding that it is supposed to make those around me feel more safe). I respect the social distancing in stores because, again, I am trying to make those around me feel safe (although the number of people rolling around the stores not respecting anyone’s personal space is kind of awesome). But I personally don’t feel like those are things I will continue once they are not required of me.

What significant impact, if any, will the virus have on your plans for this year?

Well, luckily, I bought this house just a month or so before the shelter-in-place was ordered, so I think I’m tapped out for big plans in 2020. The only thing it has really affected is the house warming party I had planned for April, which was moved to May, which is now scheduled for June. I wouldn’t mind being able to take a vacation. I would also love to be able to get back to hiking my coastal places.

Are you ready to get back into the world (with safety precautions in place)?

Yes. Like I said above, I’ll wear the masks to some level and practice social distancing, but I don’t believe that I should be forced to stay home.

Which TV shows have you been watching and what do you think everyone else should start?
We are currently watching Zoo. We also watched American Horror Story Cult and Apocalypse. We watched Tiger King (because, duh, everyone should). We have watched quite a few movies. Honestly, I was trying to watch less TV before this, so I feel almost defeated that I have watched more TV in the last two months than in probably the previous two years.

He's obsessed with "farting fire" 
so we made it happen
What are you happy to leave behind in the “old world?”

I do think forcing people to work at home has showed a lot of companies, who wouldn’t allow it before, that it can work. I think it would reduce traffic and increase morale. Obviously, not all jobs have that luxury, but if more people who were able to do it are allowed to do it in the future, I think it would be beneficial to our society as a whole. Let’s leave behind that whole Monday through Friday nine to five mentality and recognize that responsible adults can get their work done without micromanaging. Also, imagine the rent saved for businesses who don't NEED to be in an office together!

What can you appreciate most about the “new world?”

I love how many families are spending more time together. I also think that being forced to be at home might show some parents the benefits to having one parent at home. Right now it might seem a little overwhelming since everyone might be stuck at home and going a little stir crazy, but I hope the future shows more parents staying at home with their kids rather than sending them to daycare (this might be the healthiest I’ve been with the kids in my life not in daycare).

What is the first thing you’re going to do when the shelter-in-place is lifted?

I don’t even know. Probably at least one night away next to a beach. Go hike around Muir Woods. Drive around the Golden Gate Bridge.

Who is the person you have missed seeing most during this time?

My friend Vanessa. Last summer, we hiked pretty much every weekend. I am hoping we can get back to that soon.

What song would best represent the time you’ve spent at home?

You know, when I wrote this question, it didn’t occur to me that I too would have to answer it. I guess I want to choose something crazy, but my time at home really hasn’t been crazy. It hasn’t been overly depressing either. It has just been the new reality. Maybe moving at the same time helped since I knew my life was going to change anyway. I guess I will go with Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds (Don’t Worry About A Thing).

In a fantasy world where the virus doesn’t exist and money isn’t an issue, where is your dream vacation destination?

The Maldives. In one of those gorgeous over-water villas, or even better, the underwater room that goes for about $50,000 per night.
family beach trip


Soapbox: While I may have asked others not to get too controversial because I wanted a feel-good blog post, this is my blog, so I don’t have to follow the rules. I know that I can be quite oppositional and often poke the bear on social media, but I really do it hoping to get people thinking. I also love a good conspiracy theory, but it doesn’t mean I always believe them. I enjoy a healthy, respectful debate. I don’t think I’m smarter than a bunch of experts, and I do believe in science. I just want people to think about the bigger picture. There is no easy answer here. And science takes time to prove things, so we are dealing with a lot of ever-changing theories right now. Initially, we were flattening the curve to save our hospitals from being overwhelmed. Now somehow we think we are going to save all of these lives (even though a vaccine is easily a year away). It is never my intention to belittle anyone or their beliefs or their feelings. I just believe that black and white thinking is never the way to live a balanced life. We all live in the grey area, whether we realize it or not. Wanting to be home keeping people healthy is okay. Wanting to be out in the world trying to save the economy is okay. We are all entitled to our opinions. Or we should be. That’s the beauty of living in this world today. I remind myself that whether it is loss of life or financial ruin, each side is living in fear. Perhaps if we can see that, we will have a little more compassion for opinions that differ from our own. I would never expect anyone to change their mind. I would just hope that we could be respectful of someone who may feel differently.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Domesticated Goddess

So much has changed in the last few months.

First, I bought a house.  This is a house that has been in my family for almost 70 years.  It was my grandparents' home, which they purchased in the 1950's.  It is where my dad grew up.  After my grandmother passed away five years ago, my brother continued to rent it from my uncle until his expanding family required him to find a bigger place.  So my uncle sold the house to me.  I have lived in a rented condo for the last ten years.  Although the location was awesome, I was definitely tired of living the "apartment life."  I also wanted to be closer to my family.  My commute was going to go from 5 miles to 24 (or, in California-speak: from 10 minutes to anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour) each way.  But I was willing to make that sacrifice to make a change.  I'm 43.  Unmarried.  No kids.  I often feel lost in the world.  And I felt like being closer to the kids was going to give me more purpose and joy.

Second, while re-modeling this house, I met the love of my life.  And it was someone I already knew!  When I started wanting to work on the house late last year, a co-worker told me that another co-worker did side work and could help me with paint.  Ed entered the picture to help me with the house in December.  We would be in the house working at the same time almost every weekend.  We would BS with each other, and we would share our nightmare dating stories.  He kept telling me that he felt like once I moved to Brentwood and got out of the bar scene, I would settle down.  My dad came to town in mid-January and we had a couple of family birthday celebrations.  My family started asking me, why aren't you dating Ed??  I kept deflecting: Ed hasn't asked ME out!  Co-workers started teasing us and accusing us of dating.  We kept denying it.  Around the same time, our texts back and forth moved from just about the house, to be a little more curious about what we were each doing outside of working on the house.  They got a little more flirtatious.  I started inviting him to do things with my friends and me -- like hot tub night.  Then one night after the hot tub, he kissed me.  And it was such an amazing connection.  We've essentially been together ever since.  I've never had something be so effortless.  One of my issues in past relationships was that I always felt like I was too much, so past boyfriends perhaps tolerated me.  And Ed doesn't tolerate me.  He celebrates me and tells me every day how lucky HE is.  All while continuing to work on my house (for free now, though...sorry honey!).  He makes dinner for my family and me more nights than not.  He cleans.  He does yard work.  He's easy to get along with.  He tells me I'm beautiful.  My family adores him.  I seriously keep pinching myself because sometimes I can't believe this is real.  I've never been treated so well, or been so happy.  I never knew it was supposed to be easy.  I always fought for the wrong relationships in the past.  I didn't realize it shouldn't be such a fight.  He is everything I've ever wanted in a partner, and I am so fortunate we found each other.  You never want to believe that you weren't a whole person when you were single, or say that another person completes you, but you never know how awesome things really can be until you find that healthy, happy relationship.  All the puzzle pieces that you didn't even know were missing just fit together.

Third, holy shit, this covid-19 virus.  Nothing like a worldwide pandemic to lock you down and test a brand new relationship.  We are two weeks into the shelter-in-place order that is keeping the "non-essential" workers at home.  What I'm learning is that people are still walking around doing whatever they want to do.  I know so many people who will be financially devastated by this in the long run.  There is no unemployment or stimulus package for a lot of small businesses who literally can't open their doors right now.  I feel very lucky that Ed and I remain (for now) employed.  Ed has to go into work, but I get to work from home.  I go into the office for a few hours about once a week to get the mail and process some things that are just easier to do in person.  Again, I want to express that I am very grateful that I have a paycheck coming in, have an amazing partner who is taking care of me emotionally, and that I'm in this home rather than that tiny, dark condo while we are all being quarantined...but as someone who often struggles with depression, and especially when I am basically being locked down, I worry about the emotional toll this could take on me.

I felt the beginnings of it last week.  I couldn't shake the dark feeling.  I try not to watch the news if I don't have to, so I don't have the barrage of bad news and overwhelming statistics constantly being shouted at me.  I try not to engage that much on Facebook about it.  But the shadow was looming over me.  Then I get mad at myself:  I have no business being sad!  I am healthy.  I have a paycheck and I am blessed to be in this house and across the street from my brother.  I don't get to be sad when other people are actually suffering.  But that's not how depression works.  It's like a blanket someone is slowly covering you with.  Sure, when it's just on your feet, it's warm but you aren't worried.  Then it's around your knees, then your waist -- you have clothes on, so it's a lot warmer than you'd prefer.  It's covering your chest, so it's harder to breathe.  Suddenly, it's over your face, and you panic.  But it's too late and someone is holding it on you so you can't get out.  The more you struggle, the hotter it gets and the harder it is to breathe.  By then, you're in a full-blown freak out and the come down will take days...weeks...sometimes months.  Sometimes it requires medication, and professional help.  Sometimes you can figure it out on your own.

I have watched depression take me over many times.  My last bout was when I was trying to do school last year, and it was too overwhelming.  I was staying in the house crying almost every night, and still not getting my homework done.  I stopped hanging out with my friends, and I didn't feel like going anywhere.  It was a rough time.  These times we are in certainly have the potential for putting me in that place again.  I'm somewhat isolated at home during the day.  I am not going to the office every day, and not seeing my co-workers.  I am not doing my regular activities.  My saving grace is that Ed and my brother's family are here most nights and we eat dinner together.  We are essentially operating as one family unit during this shelter-in-place.  It is keeping me sane.  When I felt the first inkling of a problem last week, I warned Ed.  I told him I can't always control it but I recognize when it's coming on.  So he made sure we got out of the house.  We have taken some hikes.  Done yard work.  Last weekend, I even went on a little bike ride.  We are doing yoga 4-5 days per week (online class).  I feel a lot better today.

This covid thing is unlike anything I've ever witnessed before.  I am still struggling to see how things got out of hand this quickly.  I know most of us hate the saying "everything happens for a reason."  But perhaps we can all take a step back and take this time to figure out what is actually important to us.  For me, I couldn't have been in a better place for this to happen.  I am surrounded by love and joy.  I have a five year old and a one year old to keep me entertained (I also have White Claw for that).  I enjoy spending time with my brother and sister-in-law.  I have an amazing boyfriend.  Ed made a fire pit so we can sit in the backyard and roast marshmallows.  Maybe I needed to slow down a little so I could see exactly how lucky I am.  Although I miss some of my friends during this lock down, I don't miss the bar scene.  I am so content with my little house, my yard and my family close.  I am praying that you all stay safe and healthy and I hope for relief for the entire world.

Unrelated to this post but right before the shut down, I got to see Pepper...always happy to see this band!
(Pictured here with Kaleo.)

Monday, January 27, 2020

Time to pass the torch

On September 28, 2019, Ellen and I produced our sixth and final NCPP.  Life is taking us in different directions.  Ellen with her nutrition empire and me buying a house and moving to the outskirts of the Bay Area.  I am so proud of what this event has become.  When Amy Bond brought the idea to me years ago, I thought it was a great idea, but just couldn't launch it by myself.  When Ellen came on board, that changed everything.  Every year presented new challenges, but the end result was the same:  people felt safe to participate in our event and express themselves in ways they may not have felt comfortable to do otherwise.  That is the reason we showed up every year.  

Initially, when I first mentioned to Ellen that I might be done (surgeries ending my love of pole and a plan to return to school), there was no thought we could find a way to let it live on without us.  However, we realized there are probably other polers with event experience and/or time and passion to carry this event into the future.  So, we started our search after the show was over.  After speaking to several people, we found what we believe will be the perfect people to carry on the love and acceptance that I believe defines NCPP.

On January 17, we made the announcement:

NCPP LIVES ON!

Lori and Ellen are thrilled to announce that, under brand new ownership, NCPP will continue! It has been an absolute joy and privilege to provide this space for dancers in NorCal over the last 6 years. Despite our busy lives pulling us away from this, we wanted nothing more than to see NCPP continue to grow and thrive.

Announcing the new owners: Morgan Castillo and Kimmy Fitzpatrick!

"When we heard the news that Ellen and Lori were looking for someone to take over NCPP we were both so excited at the opportunity! Morgan, a Bay Area pole dancer, who has successfully competed and performed for the last few years, has had nothing but positive experiences when participating in NCPP events. With her incredible history of event planning including starting her own event company in 2011, and successfully selling it to what is now Live Nation, she’s had the itch to get back into the event industry. Being able to combine her love for pole and her love for events is just icing on the cake. Kimmy has also been in the Bay Area pole scene since 2010 and has competed and performed all over the United States. She is a 4x Nationals Runner up, and is the founder of By KimB and Endless By KimB, where she keeps us all outfitted in sparkly accessories and affordable pole gear. We are both incredibly grateful to Ellen and Lori who have paved the way for this event, and created something that continues to unite our community year after year. We hope to continue this legacy and keep this space available for all of us in the community to enjoy for years to come."

We know NCPP couldn't be in better hands! Thank you again to everyone who has supported and encouraged us, our vendors and judges over the years, and to all the beautiful dancers who have graced our stage: we truly could not have done this without you. Keep your eyes peeled for news and updates about NCPP 2020!

~~~~~~

I am so excited that NCPP is in the capable hands of Kimmy and Morgan.  I want to thank everyone who has supported us over the years.  I also want to thank Ellen.  Our partnership was always so effortless and I couldn't have done this without her.  I am so proud to have been part of this small piece of pole history.  I can't wait to see what the future holds!
That's a wrap!