Monday, June 29, 2020

Covid Chronicles: Meet Rachel!

Depending on where you are, we are about four 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 over a month ago.) 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.

Rachel – I’m a 44 year old single mother, raising my son with my parents in the California town of Oakley. I am currently working as a Special Education teacher with an emergency credential and plan to start my Education Specialist credential program this summer. I also hold a master’s degree in psychology and my interests include spirituality, addiction recovery, authentic self-expression, holistic health, self-care, and more. I am 3 years and 9 months sober from alcohol. My food addiction battle continues. Had it under control for 9 months, then fell off the wagon a year ago. I’m a hardcore Supernatural fan (the TV show) and read Supernatural fan fiction daily.

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

I am sheltering in place with my 9 year old son and my two retired parents. My son is kind of bouncing off the walls, but overall handling it really well. He chats with his cousin via video chat on Facebook Messenger for Kids and they play Minecraft together. We’ve established a good routine for getting his schoolwork done while I work. My parents are up to the usual stuff they usually do, just in a modified way. For example, my parents attend their spiritual center via Zoom every Sunday.

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 give myself an 8, maybe it’s a 7. I leave the house to go to the grocery store once a week and go to two stores. I used to go way more than this, so this is shift. I occasionally go to Target to pick up an order. I’ve gone to my school twice to get things from my classroom. I take walks in the neighborhood. I occasionally indulge myself and have a chat, from a safe distance, with my neighbor friend. That’s it.

I do, however, let my son play with the neighbor kids. There was two weeks were I didn’t, but now that things have eased a bit, I’ve let him again. But he’s constantly told to not pass items back and forth, not touch the same things, and keep a distance. He’s an only child and he also needs outdoor active time. I really don’t know what to do.

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

Nope

If you are alone, how are you handling the isolation? If you are with others, how are you handling that?
I’m kind of going nuts not having ANY real alone time. I’m an INFJ and I read once that INFJ’s desperately need time where then can be 100% sure that no one is around, will interrupt, or might need them. I don’t get that ever. It wasn’t much in the past, but now it’s never. It’s exhausting. There’s been no major blow up between the adults. Well, my parents have them, but that’s normal. But I haven’t lost my shit on either of them. I did kind of lose it with Ethan last night, but that was a long time coming. I was surprised it took that long.

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

My parents have taken Ethan to Big Break twice and, early on, I went a couple times. I’ve been swamped with work since we returned from Spring Break on March 30th and I caught a case of really bad allergies that manifested as a chronic cough, so I haven’t been out as much and when I do I try to not encounter people, because I don’t want my cough to freak them out.

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

Well, at first, and I know better: nada. None. Just lots of binge eating. And I promptly added 15 lbs to the 25 that I was already up since last May #knowyourunhealthycopingmechanisms

So that sucks. I know me, so I was waiting for the click. For my moment of clarity that kind of feels like hitting bottom. It finally came and my head is back on straight and I’ve got my food on lock for the first time in a long time, and reaping all the benefits of peace and pride that I’ve desperately missed.

I’ve also signed up for Gabby Bernstein’s “Meditation Challenge” which starts on Sunday, because I like structure and really want to get back to a regular meditation practice. She annoyingly pretty, perky, and privileged, but I like her teachings and find them really helpful despite all that.

I’m trying to integrate daily yoga—again. Another thing that fell off when I fell off the wagon a year ago.

I did clean my very trashed room (my only space that’s mine) on my birthday (April 26) and that deeply felt like self-care. I took hours attending to all the piles while listening to Janelle Hanchett’s “I’m Just Happy To Be Here” (5-star, definitely recommend). It was good.

If you have kids, how is homeschooling going?

Not bad. He’s insanely resistant and homework has always been a battle, so I guess I was kind of prepared. I set up a check list with what he needs to do each day. The things he can do independently via online apps are bolded, so he knows he needs to do those himself. The rest he does with my mom, while I work, which is great. There’s a fair amount of drama: whining, wailing, resisting. I went back to his daily reinforcement chart and clarified the expectations, so hopefully knowing that Points are on the line will motivate him to stop being such a brat.

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

I am a Special Education teacher in a classroom for students with extreme behavior challenges. I am extremely lucky to be able to do this from home and still get my regular pay through the end of my contract (June 30th). It’s going pretty well. At first I was worried I wouldn’t keep up, but I am. I love my job and it matters, so I keep showing up and keep moving forward. I do all class Zooms twice a week and meet 1:2 with each family (a parent and their student) each week to focus on a goal related lesson. I have regular meetings with colleagues and also run special education team meetings all from Zoom.

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

Of course! But I do that anyway. I haven’t paid for a haircut in years. For my hair at least.

The real challenge was cutting Ethan’s. That was scary! He wouldn’t stop moving. It came out pretty good.

What surprising positive thing has happened because of the time being spent at home/with family?
We haven’t killed each other yet. Does that count? I’m only kind of kidding. I’m genuinely surprised that my mom and I haven’t had a major blow out, but we’re getting along pretty well, which has been the case for around 2 years now.

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

I mailed my nephew his gift, but he lives 4 hours away, so I would have done that anyway.

There was a parade for the boy next door and we stepped out for that and gave him his gift.

For my birthday we didn’t do anything special.

For Mother’s Day we ordered Melo’s in, for the second time that week, lol.

I sent Amazon gift cards to my son’s teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week.

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

My life was already pretty unexciting and now it’s just more so. I really can’t think of any change that will continue.

I signed up for Disney+, I’ll probably keep that. Hamilton is coming!!!!
Are you ready to get back into the world (with safety precautions in place)?

Yes! I miss going to school and being in the classroom. Also, I was looking forward to attending school in person this summer and now my pre-service program for my credential will be all online, which is a bummer. I want to be able to see people’s faces when I smile and talk to them at the store. I want to go to the movies.

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

I’m currently watching the second season of Dead To Me.

I really enjoyed the first season of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist these last few weeks.

I’ve also watched a ton of others, like good ole Tiger King, as well as Everything Sucks, Atypical, The Morning Show, The Mandalorian, and rewatched Firefly with the kiddo. He and I are currently watching Parks & Recreation and The Office (he’s only 9, but he loves the humor and I’m not worried about the semi-inappropriate stuff, he handles it)

Right now, I would recommend something light, but thoughtful, like The Good Place, if you haven’t watched it yet. Another fun escape is Superstore.

My all-time favorite show is Supernatural. I will never not recommend this. Anxiously awaiting the last 7 episodes, which are on hold due to the current crisis.

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

Having my classroom trashed by students when they spin out of control and waking at 5:40 a.m. for work.

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

Less rushing and less expectation, fewer demands. I can just focus on what I think is important and necessary in my daily life. A lot is out of my hands and that’s rather freeing.

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

Go to the Oakland Zoo. We have a membership and we miss it so much. We signed up for the online live, behind the scenes, zoo show and it’s been great, but we really miss being there in person.
Who is the person you have missed seeing most during this time?

My sister, but she lives 4 hours away, so I don’t see her enough anyway. I actually “see” her more, because we’ll sometimes talk when the boys are connected via video chat.

Second, my students and all the kids at school. I’m very happy to see kids when I go for a walk.

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

For this time in general, I always come back to Doom Days by Bastille. So good.

For the time at home itself, I can’t really think of anything; though maybe Doom Days applies there as well.

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

My plan is to go back to school to get my special education credential as an intern. Due to the virus the third test I need to pass keeps getting rescheduled. I need to pass it by September 30 (and it takes 4-6 weeks to get results, so I need to take it by mid-August to be safe). Ideally I would have it passed before my job starts at the end of July (if I get a job). Everything is kind of up in the air, but I just keep moving forward and hoping for the best.

Other than that, everything is pretty much the same.

We had to cancel our vacation in March to Monterey and I don’t know when we’ll be able to reschedule given both the virus and my upcoming school and work schedule. It is what it is.

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

Ugh, that’s way too hard. I’d love to do the full Disneyworld experience, never been. But Hawaii, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, and Manchu Pichu are also high on the list. Or just a basic Disneyland vacation, which is beyond my financial reach right now and I really want Ethan to go before he leaves his childhood behind.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Covid Chronicles: Meet Heather!

Depending on where you are, we are about 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.) 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.

Hey, hey! I'm Heather - a 37 year old Christmas Baby, 4x cross-country mover, cartoon loving, ex-roller derby playin', dog momin' weirdo. I'm one of the most resilient people I know. Nice to meet you!

In which part of the world do you live?

Salisbury, MD

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

My quarantine family consists of my husband Jason, and our two dogs, Vader & Chewie.

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

There are a couple acquaintances of acquaintances that I'm aware of.

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

I'm so grateful for our situation, and we're all handling it great. I feel like I've been "in training" for this for many years, lol. My husband and I are very used to being around each other and genuinely enjoy each other's company (that's what 15 years of being together can do!), our dogs love having more time with us, and I work from home. So, not too much has changed for us.

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

There's a really nice park with trails about a 5 minute drive away. I've went a few times since the quarantine started. Need to go more!

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

Let's see....I've gotten into the habit of washing my face! Sounds weird, I know. But, I've always been the type of gal who just wipes her leftover eyeliner off with a makeup wipe, or I wait until I'm in the shower to wash my face. But I found this really nice face cleanser by TULA skincare that I really like, and have gotten into the habit of actually using it!

I also bought a treadmill and yoga bench, both of which I'm really enjoying :)

If you have kids, how is homeschooling going?
Don't have any kids, and I'm SO grateful for that too! LOL - I think parenting and homeschooling would be the death of me.

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

I'm the Director of Talent & Strategy for a company that works with online publishers. I recruit, train, and manage freelance celebrity entertainment writers. So fun! I do work from home. I've done so for about the last 6 years, spanning several different companies. I'm never going back to an office job if I can avoid it!

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

HELL YES! Cut, AND dye. I learned years ago that for me going to a salon is a waste of my money, and that I like the results better when I'm in control. :) I'm also not afraid to just let my hair go willy-nilly. Grey hair, or a bad cut or dye job doesn't spook me. It's whatever.

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

The hubby has finally gotten me into gaming. That's right, I said gaming! LOL. I'm currently addicted to Stranded Deep; a hella fun survival game where you're stranded on an island (so much so that I even downloaded it onto my laptop!) - AND we're currently awaiting delivery of our Openwheeler GEN2 Racing Wheel Stand Cockpit, steering wheel, pedals and stick shift so I can get the FULL Forza Racing experience! Ha!

Because we're spending so much time at home we've also upgraded our sound system. The house literally SHAKES now when we have our impromptu dance parties!

And - despite all the shit we've been ordering, we've actually been able to SAVE money! Yay!

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

There haven't really been any occasions on the calendar that we've missed yet. There are a few coming up, so I'm sure we'll order gifts online, do drinks and dance parties! Wait, that sounds like just a regular day....I guess we try to celebrate life here on the daily! :)

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

Like I said, not much has changed for us. I can't think of anything that will major that we'll be doing differently.

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

Meh, yes and no. I miss going to Goodwill, and restaurants. That's about it, lol.

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

I downloaded the new Quibi app on my phone, and have been loving the bite sized stories they offer!

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

I wish there was more I could leave behind, like stupidity, ignorance, negativity...bahahaha

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

I'm so excited that companies are finally realizing that working from home CAN work. Sucks they were forced into it, but it's been a long time coming!

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

I'm really looking forward to going to our favorite sushi spot, actually sitting down and being served, and being able to chat with strangers!

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

Video chat and phone calls have been keeping me in touch, so I don't really feel like I'm missing anyone :)

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

R.E.M. "It's The End of The World" (as we know it...and I FEEL FINE!)

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

Nothing that I can think of!

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

I've always wanted to go to Bali!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Covid Chronicles: Meet Caroline!

Depending on where you are, we are about 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.) 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.

Caroline Alexander, I am 53 years old and employed in an animal shelter.I enjoy pole dance, animals, and websurfing. I was pet sitting but not now due to no one traveling!

In which part of the world do you live?

Gilroy, California.

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

With my husband and pets (many of them!) 2 cats, 2 dogs, bunches of reptiles, and 4 birds.

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

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?

If I was alone, I would call friends/text them.  I'm handling it okay sharing with my hubby.

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

Yes, went on a walk on a trail yesterday at the park down the road.

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

Web cam pole classes, walking, coloring, eating healthier.

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

I am an Executive Assistant at an animal shelter. I work from home 3 days a week and go in physically two days a week. It is going okay but I do miss seeing all my coworkers!

Be honest...you’ve cut your own hair, right?
No, I wouldn't dare try. I have colored it using color depositing shampoos though.

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

I have learned to appreciate my husband more than ever.

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

Via Zoom or just facetiming.

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

Staying more connected with others.

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

Hell yeah!

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

What We Do in the Shadows

RuPaul's Drag Race

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

Bad traffic.

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

Less traffic, more me time, more time for home projects.

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

Go back to pole classes at studio and set up a color appointment with my stylist.

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

My pet sitting clients and their pets.

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

Marilyn Manson's "Odds of Even"

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

Australia or Galapagos Islands.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Covid Chronicles: Meet Robert!

Depending on where you are, we are about 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 recently, 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 Robert. I am 47 years old and have been with my husband over 25 of those years. We live in a townhouse with our three boys, Killer, Butch and Diesel.

In which part of the world do you live?

Hayward, CA

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

I am Sheltering in Place with my Husband and our three yorkies. However, I spend the day alone, working at home, as my husband is still operating his business.

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, I go out for the essentials and to help my husband at his shop. Other than that, I pretty much stay home.

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

I know five people that have been infected with Covid-19.

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

I spend the day alone, answering the incoming phone calls for the law firm that I work for. I have found that the lack of face to face social contact has affected me and my depression levels. I am just taking it day by day, some better then others.

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

I take my boys out at lunch and spend a half hour a day in our courtyard, but that is about it.

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

Keeping the home clean, plants watered and so on have helped me stay distracted of the whole situation. I also join in on Zoom gatherings for AIDS/LifeCycle when I can to have face to face conversations with others. Also, cutting strings, I have started to clean up my Facebook and un-friending people. I want to read about and see the people that contribute to our society, not the ones that feed off of it.

What kind of work do you do? Are you able to work from home? How is that going?
I am a receptionist for a law firm out of Oakland. I was sent home with a lap top that allows me to answer the incoming calls and transfer them to the right recipients. For the most part, it’s been seamless and works the way it should. The one thing that does suck, I am tethered to the lap top as the head phone are not wireless.

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

Yes, I have cut my hair a couple times, during Shelter In Place, but I have been cutting my own hair for years.
 
What surprising positive thing has happened because of the time being spent at home/with family?

Well, the plants are happier as I have been more responsible on watering them.

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

I know there will be permanent change by the time this is all over, I just don’t know what all it will be. I hope that it’s the stars will stay a little brighter, the air a little cleaner and neighbors a little friendlier.

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

I am ready to get back out there, hang out with friends, make new ones… oh, and go to Disneyland

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

I have been watching movies and a lot of ID channel. Let’s just say, don’t piss me off, they will never find your body!

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

I am not sure there is anything I would be happy to leave behind. I find that I am pretty lucky for the things that I have.

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

I don’t think it will last forever, but I do like that there is less traffic on the roads. More than that though, I think society is a little better in terms of supporting one another in ways we didn’t before all this started, I hope that sticks around as part of the new normal.

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

I’m going to Disneyland! Actually, it will be to schedule my AIDS/LifeCycle fundraiser, Twirl For A Cause.

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

There is no one person that I think that I miss most specifically. I miss seeing friends, I miss co-workers, I even miss greeting people when working the door at Club 1220.

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

I would say The Rainbow Connection, wanting to believe in the best that people have to offer and dreaming of a better world.
  
In a fantasy world where the virus doesn’t exist and money isn’t an issue, where is your dream vacation destination?

I have always dreamed of going to the north east during autumn time to see all the colors. Maybe someday it will happen.

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

One of the hardest things about this virus, that has impacted me mostly, it has canceled a yearly event that I look so forward to, the AIDS/LifeCycle. It’s the one week where I get to get away from everything, no politics, no hate, no religion, all of that is gone. It’s just a bunch of people, united in one cause, riding our bicycles thru California. A true love bubble, where everyone is equal and respected. That has been taken away from me. The ramifications even go beyond that, it’s a loss of funding for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Last year the ride brought in near $17 million and right now they are only a little over $7 million. They are hoping to reach $13 million raised so that they can continue to offer the much needed support and programs for those living with HIV and AIDS. Then there are all the fundraisers that happen along the ride, like the school in Bradley. Last year, they raised $70,000 by selling lunch to the riders. That won’t happen this year. However, we don’t give up. We continue on. I am still committed to reaching my goal of $20,000 raised for AIDS/LifeCycle. I have been raising money for Bradley, over $8000 already. I hope in time, the real story about this virus will not be the virus itself, but the way we responded.

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.)