Tag Archives: COVID19

Things I Learned During the Pandemic

I think I may be more introverted than I used to be. I do miss my friends; I really miss my family. But I also realize that maybe I’m comfortable at home. Transitioning last year was emotionally rough because Hope also came home. I wasn’t used to being home this much; to not taking vacations, to not hanging out with folks, to not always making plans. After 18 months, I’m not only resigned to being ok at home; I’m coming to luxuriate in my home time on the weekends. This may change as fall emerges, and I fight another bout of SAD depression.

In some ways I’ve become more patient, but I feel like my hair trigger temper looms even larger. I just don’t act out on it, but I’m kinda always at a rage level of 4-5 on a 10-point scale. I don’t have a lot of places to put those emotions these days, so I try to do other things. It’s hard; I feel like the pandemic has riled up so many emotions for me.

I am sick of math. I love quantitative research; there are aspects of it that I really could get much stronger in, but I’m a solid researcher. Regularly having to calculate risk/reward probabilities in my head when making plans or going out is exhausting. Each week I head on over to the COVID dashboards on the NYT’s site. I look at my state, my county, the counties where my immediate family lives and where Beau lives. I think about what my own exposure level is—I have to take into consideration that Hope works retail and has a high exposure rate. It the idea of always checking the calculated risk of going out in public. I’m not completely fearful, but I really do enjoy being around a few people and I get to see my parents and sisters and nephews and niece now. I am actually just trying to make sure my risks are low so I can see them whenever I want. But the math…I’m sick of it.

Yappy is the sweetest and most stubborn dog I’ve ever known personally. This dog adores people; his disposition is absurdly sweet. He’s a cuddle bum and is very happy nestled up next to you with a light blanket covering him. And then he also can be this:

This is one of his daily standoffs that we are now known for in the neighborhood. I try to let him dictate the direction of our long morning walk but let me try to deviate from his plan—especially if it’s to something he *knows* he has no business doing—he goes from sweet to rooted in his spot, refusing to move. He’s a whole mess. I’ve also learned that even though I taught him how to use AAC buttons, he really can’t be bothered to use them consistently despite positive reinforcement and behavior modeling. He’s on his own ish. I low key respect him for that.

I’ve learned that my home brewed cold brew coffee is worlds better than Starbucks, even with cheap coffee. I used to hot brew and then ice, but I really like the richness of cold brew. It took me forever to get my preferred ratios together, but now, it’s always perfect. 1 cup of grounds to 8 cups of water. I put it in my brewing pitcher, shake, pop in the fridge for 24 hours. I bought these straining bags—kinda like cheesecloth but made into a drawstring bag. Pour into my regular pitcher through the bag and voila! Dunzo! I was on Keto years ago and the only think I kept was my penchant for using heavy cream in my coffee. I froth it and my daily coffee experience is elevated!!!

I’ve learned that after we really get on the other side of the pandemic, I might have to redecorate. I could stand to update everything. I’m also thinking about getting rid of my dining table and just setting up that space as my home office. I think at this point, it just makes more sense and is a better use of space. I want to paint, maybe get a new couch, buy a couple new rugs, consider wallpaper. I just need to switch it up around here.

I’ve really come to appreciate our mental heath squad so much more this year. I’ve gone to therapy since undergrad, and Hope has required varying levels of mental health care since becoming my daughter. But this year…whew, I feel like we’ve definitely got our money’s worth in terms of therapy, meds management, talk therapy. I know my marbles would definitely be scattered all over the floor if we didn’t have a team in place. This 18+ months have really taken its toll, but they’ve remained a steady part of our lives; I’m grateful beyond measure.

Hope really enjoys my cooking. I am confident in my cooking skills, and these last few months I’ve finally really settled into a cooking schedule for the week. I do a lot of cooking on the weekends and keep more convenience foods for the latter part of the week. I’ve also expanded my recipe repertoire. She eats just about everything. She’s always enjoyed my cooking, but I think she really, really enjoys it now. She loves seeing what I’ve come up with. This weekend, I made beef and cheese empanadas.

I’m really over this pandemic; like really, really over it. I can admit, though, that it really has given me an opportunity to reflect and think about what I’ll take from this experience. I’m hopeful that at some point we’ll get ahead of it and that others will get vaccinate or head to a closed colony or something. I am eager to see what the new normal will be; I’m eager to go to brunch again; to socialize, to just be free with out worry of consequences of someone breathing on me. I’m just ready to move on.


Ten Things on Wednesday: 5/19/21

  1. Hope is fully vaxxed! Yay! She got her second vaccine yesterday. I’m so excited that we are protected now. Of course I’m still operating life as though there is a full on plague…because there’s still a full on plague. I’m not down with the lifting of mask mandates. Folks are just nasty.
  2. The downside is that it seems Hope might be having some nasty side effects this evening. It’s always hard to tell with her though because she is super dramatic when she’s sick. She has a low pain tolerance and just doesn’t do sick well at all. So, after all these years, it’s still really hard for me to gauge if we need to go to the urgent care. I’m hoping she will be better really soon.
  3. I’m supposed to go into the office for the first time in more than a year tomorrow. I have a meeting in the afternoon. Yes, it could be done by Zoom, and if Hope doesn’t feel better, it may have to be by Zoom. There’s a part of me that it looking forward to it, another part that is wary, but really I’m more anxious about remembering to go into the office at all. I’ve got a nice routine. I get up at 6, walk Yappy and finish my exercise, tidy and shower and get dressed for work. Commuting is walking to the living room. I’m seriously fretting about remembering to go to the office.
  4. Is it bad that I already am planning a trip to Starbucks when I get into the office? I miss my starbucks run. I also miss my starbucks points. Of course, I now get my cold brew delivered in a box from Amazon every two weeks so…I’ll be fine if I don’t make it.
  5. I’m tired of working in my living room, but I’m honestly not ready to go back to the office. Outside is just gross.
  6. Hope finally has orientation for her new job next week. Finally. This is a long onboard for a retail gig. I’m eager to get her out and going and getting back on track to find her way. She is doing much better emotionally, but still not having something meaningful to do every day continues to weigh on her.
  7. She recently told me that she has no idea what’s next for her. She’s not ready to go back to school. She doesn’t know if she wants to change course–maybe pursue something entirely different. Her interests seem to be changing a bit. She’s a bit lost, and it’s hard. It’s hard as a parent because this part is something she has to figure out on her own. I am here to support her, to cheer for her, to financially help with figuring it out, but the hard work of figuring out what you want to do in this chapter of life is kind of a solitary thing to figure out.
  8. Somehow I’m finding getting sufficient patio time difficult. That’s especially frustrating since my desk faces the patio. It’s been so gorgeous out. Patio time is one of my favorite parts of spring/summer/fall.
  9. Still no movement on planning a vacation. I might really just have to put the idea on ice until I no longer sense this emotional block from just dropping a text to the travel agent. I mean, this ain’t hard. I can just tap out a quick message–location, time frame, price point. I might circle back in a month and reevaluate.
  10. I can’t really think of a 10th thing, so I’m going to sign off and finally go get the cocktail I should’ve had 3 hours ago!

Vacation Where?

Today marks the first day of my 5th pandemic staycation.

It’s downright depressing, especially with FB reminding me that 2 years ago I was in Rome, 3 years ago in Athens, years before that in Montreal. I miss traveling terribly. Oh the places we will go when this pandemic lets up.

Hope has finally come to an age where she’s a bit more fun to travel with. Yes, she still struggles with impulsiveness. Yes, we still have at least one episode of losing my ish and flinging myself on a bed with all dramatic pretense. Hope can still turn on the spoiled princess persona that she’s adopted occasionally when we are traveling. All that said, I love seeing the world through her eyes. I loved taking her to various places, seeing things, hoping some of all this good experiential learning takes hold.

More than anything right now, I wish we could get away. We could both use the change of scenery. I think it would do amazing things to lift our depression. Also, it would be nice to have someone bring me food via room service.

We will be visiting my parents later this week now that they and I am vaccinated. This will definitely be the highlight of my week. We haven’t seen my parents in person since July of 2020 when we scooted down for a day with them. I’m thinking we might actually make it a weekend thing and maybe take in a museum, get some take out, definitely order room service. It will have to do, and I *am* looking forward to it, but the way my wanderlust is set up…

I’m thinking about maybe booking a trip to the Caribbean this summer. I desperately need to get AWAY. I mean, already today, I’ve answered 3 work emails and had one zoom call. This doesn’t happen when I’m traveling.

Boo. Hiss.

The only one happy about the current state of affairs is Yappy–who whines if I go to the laundry room without him.

Anyhoo, I’m entertaining myself watching a completely nerdy show on Prime about the Illiad, while looking up some of these 2nd tier Greek gods on Wikipedia. I might actually have to crack open Homer again. Of course, this is also contributing to my need for travel, but for now, it will have to be enough.

Maybe Greece again next year. I have so much more exploring to do.


One Pandemic Year

One year ago, today, I was buzzing around a local hotel with other colleagues making sure that the next to the last day of our annual conference went smoothly. I remember being tired, but excited because Hope was on a bus headed home for spring break. I was looking forward to seeing her when I got home and maybe ordering takeout.

Little did I know that that was really *it* for us, in terms of going out and living free. I had taken a few days off from work to spend with her before she headed back to her small liberal arts college. I ended up working from home full time later that week, while we just assumed that she would be heading back to school in a couple of weeks when this COVID stuff all blew over.

Three weeks later we were packing up her dorm room masked and gloved up.

A week later I had COVID, assuredly contracted during our brief trip to pack up her things.

We’ve both been home ever since.

Hope did have a couple of summer jobs, but quit, in part, because classes resumed remotely in September.

We’d been managing to hold it together until then, but early fall presented an escalation in our struggle. Honestly, things just went totally left in August and it’s been a daily struggle ever since.

Hope experienced a series of traumas related to some decisions that 19-year-olds can be prone to making. Honestly, I made some of the same decisions, as did many other 19-year-olds I knew at the time. It’s just a wickedly unfair world that some of us pay dearly for those choices, while others get skate away trauma-free.

I had to really remind myself to meet Hope where she was and remember what that season of my life was like to be as empathetic as the moment required. It’s easy when you have nearly 30 years more life experience to forget what it was like and how easy it was to do something that didn’t seem like it might have lasting repercussions.

There were definitely days when I failed miserably at meeting the moment, and other days when I nailed it. I’m hoping that Hope shows me the grace I don’t deserve as the years pass.

The hits just kept coming through the fall and into the new year. This kinda lost pandemic year totally wreaked havoc on both of our mental health statuses. The loss of control, the lost freedom, the inability to have the usual levels of family and friend support has been so challenging.

I see a lot of loss ground for Hope in some ways; I see a lot of lost ground for me as well.

My own career soared during this time, but it came a huge cost. In the weeks following the murder of George Floyd, my job and voice was in high demand. There was little time for my own processing of grief and anger. It was mostly a lot of work.

And then after a month or so, a lot of anger and frustration about how folks chose to engage me, how little my own humanity seemed to matter, how much was just constantly demanded of me. I really had to start working on creating boundaries in ways I didn’t have or want to before.

Ten months later, I still trying to create boundaries with almost virtual electronic/barbed wire fencing. I do this in the face of receiving recognition for the work I do within a largely homogenous profession. The wear and tear on me this last year…whew.

Add on how I seem to be sliding into menopause…and I just feel…tired, cranky and crazy.

It’s all hard to describe, but it’s just perpetually feeling off. I’ve got some cream and I’ve upped my self-care game, but I’m headed to the doc this week to just talk about what I can and should be doing during this time to cling to my sanity and to not kill anyone.

This year has been hard.

But it hasn’t all been bad.

Hope and I are probably closer than we’ve ever been. Our parent/child relationship is evolving to a parent/young adult relationship. The biggest difference is knowing that being of legal age means I just have to let a few things go and focus on leaning into the years of trust we’ve built.

Our conversations are different. The gaps in knowledge around life skills are more apparent. My pushing and pulling is not seen through entirely negative eyes; she can tell me how she sees things. We are closer, and I’m hoping that whenever the next new normal lands that we’ll maintain this level of emotional connection. It’s nice.

I have also finally, genuinely moved to a place of acceptance regarding my body. This last decade of my life has featured a number of body betrayals that were just layered on to two previous decades of body image problems. I exercise every day. I try to eat reasonably healthy. I do not deny myself foods that I enjoy. I ride my bike. I walk a lot. I do videos and I invested in work-from-home equipment that would help me maintain some healthy habits.

I wrote some time ago that I really shifted my thinking to what my body can do and how to maintain and expand its capacity rather than focusing on how it looks. Honestly, regarding my body, the last 4-5 months or so have been the most liberating of my life.

I still fight negative thoughts, but they are fewer and far between.

Most of all, Hope sees me being less critical and that means a lot as well. She’s a beautiful girl, and she struggles to establish healthy eating and exercise habits. The best I can do is model them for her.

In total, it’s been a rough year. I don’t know when the pandemic will be “over.” I got my first vaccine a few days ago and I’m excited that I will be able to see my parents for the first time in nearly a year in a matter of weeks.

It will be a while before Hope is eligible for the vaccine. Because she’s unemployed and not in school this semester (much less hardly leaves the house), she’s very low risk and will be at the bottom of the list for the vaccine unless something changes. I’m hopeful that this year brings some better energy to both of us. I hope that we can get back to some version of our old normal at some point this year


Ten Things on Wednesday: 2/17/21

  1. So parenting…is hard. Trying to maintain some even keel, sense of togetherness, and household energy during this pandemic is hard. This is a hard time for us all; it really is. And parenting? Well parenting is hard on a good, non-pandemic, regular, degular day. This ish during a whole as pandemic is really some bullshit.
  2. Most days Hope doesn’t get dressed. On the regular, we’re at showering every other day. I’ve been trying to send her on errands that just need to get done to ensure that she showers, puts on real clothes and gets a little fresh air and vitamin D–which we are both deficient in. She stays in her room because my “home office” is the strip of space between the living and dining rooms. The recent addition of a treadmill (under or beside my desk) only takes up more space. And because I’m on a Zoom call 60-70% of my day, she stays out of camera view (unless she sees it’s my boss, in which case Hope seems to insist on sauntering behind me to the kitchen in full on granny robe and bonnet. My delighted boss, calls her over to ask how she’s doing and such and what’s for breakfast while I look at the screen mortified. (I’m convinced they are in cahoots!)
  3. There seems to be no balance I can offer during the day. Even when I’m home on the weekends, I rarely go to hang out in my bedroom, so the thought of setting up my office in my bedroom is purely horrifying to me. I’ve thought of taking over the dining room, but it’s already doubling as Hope’s college stuff storage up against the wall. The floor plan is open so moving technically into the “living room” is really just dragging y desk directly in front of the couch. Space is at a premium in this here condo.
  4. The result is that Hope is trapped in her room most of the day. Sometimes she comes and crashes on the part of the couch that is out of camera shot; on those days I know she just wants to be close to me.
  5. Work is so demanding that sometimes she’s fallen asleep, curled up with Yappy, and I didn’t even know they were behind me.
  6. I try to stop work at 5pm sharp. I walk Yappy, and then I set about to spending time with Hope. We just finished True Blood and haven’t figured out what to binge next. We have such different tastes in TV and film. She usually likes my picks; I usually secretly loathe hers. We’ve tried several series over the last couple of months only to split and watch what we want separately. Anyway, open to recommendations on other things to watch. We essentially have all the channels, so send info stat!
  7. I spend a couple hours with Hope in the evening. She’s kind and asks about my day. Comments about how many meetings I had. She’ll tell me about something she read or watched. She’s blurt out something she wants me to buy her or cook or something. We watch a little news because I keep the TV off most of the day. I head to my room around 8 so I have time for yoga and to really wind down from the day. And in the blink of an eye; we’re doing it all over again.
  8. This is the worst reboot of Groundhog Day ever.
  9. I can’t even imagine what folks will little kids are enduring. My sister K has 4 kiddos at home-21, 12, 4, 20mos. Her house sounds like chaos. Hope might be really struggling during this pandemic, but she is capable of functioning with some prompting. Those two littles–the 4 and the 20mo old? #Mayhem #AdorableMayhem
  10. I’m on the list to get the vaccine in my county. I keep checking the website, but I realize it’s going to be a good long while before I get a shot in arm. The day I registered, over 42K of my neighbors also registered, and now we’re all waiting with a total of 104K neighbors on the waitlist. SMH
  11. Yeah, bonus. It is so hard for me to keep up with life tasks these days. I’ve got a couple of checks that need to be deposited, which I can do by phone. I did manage to get my passport renewal application together. In December I did manage to go get my driver’s license renewed. Sigh…moment of transparency: I managed to get my passport renewal together because as soon as I get shot two of the vaccine, I’m booking a trip somewhere, just about anywhere. Optimally, I’d go alone because this lack of solitude is really, whew. But I know Hope also needs a getaway. I’ve been looking at places and dreaming, but no immediate plans. But trust, when I get that damn shot, it’s on.
  12. Yeah, double bonus. I’ve really slipped on my Black History Month edutainment. Normally, Hope and I would’ve watched some shows, some movies. I might’ve made her do some light reading. Right now that requires energy; I barely got it. It took me 3 days to watch Judas and the Black Messiah this weekend. My own motivation is so low. And while I know I can and do this every year, all year, there’s a part of me who feels pretty guilty about not pulling it together this year. Sigh, I’ve got like 11 more days.

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