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.