Tag Archives: pandemic

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: 6/16/2021

  1. Can you believe that it’s already the middle of June? This year is really just flying by. Sometimes it’s just dizzying to think that we’ve been home due to the pandemic for about 15 months and counting.
  2. Hope is in her third week of work. Earlier this week she called in sick; she didn’t seem sick to me. That said, we all need mental health days, right? I also have been chastising myself to remember that Hope has been a slug for going on a year–some days she didn’t get out of bed. So yeah, working a 5 to 7 hour shift is probably beyond exhausting. She’s going to have to build up her endurance.
  3. I’ve also been really thinking about Hope’s behavior this last year. The pandemic has really been tough on her. Her first year of college was disrupted; she lost her developing friend group. There was a love affair that went super sour. There was a lot of isolation, and honestly, a lot of suffering. It is no wonder that she nearly clings to me like a baby sometimes.
  4. This last year and a half has been traumatic for all of us, but for some, like Hope, it’s been especially so.
  5. I do wonder how she will bounce back from this. It’s like she finally was making soooo much personal progress; sure her grades were what I hoped they would be, but she was beginning to thrive in so many other ways. As usual, I have lots of things to fret about in terms of her recovery.
  6. How much has this time stunted her emergence into young adulthood? Has it made her afraid to step out again?
  7. Will it further extend what I already thought would be a slightly delayed launch? Home has been even more a a “safe” headquarters for us; hell even I have anxiety going too far from home for too long. With home having an even stronger association with safety, how can I help her get back to stretching her safety bubble?
  8. The fact that she’s working actually gives me hope for her. I’m hopeful that she will be able to regain her lost confidence and figure out what she wants to do next. It’s really about my commitment and ability to support her and be patient with her.
  9. In other news, there are 19 days before I head to the beach. I’m looking forward to sleeping in a big bed, working on getting nice and bronzy and spending lots of time with Sister K’s family.
  10. I’m also looking forward to making a final decision about a bathroom renovation. I think I’ve saved “enough,” though I’m constantly running the numbers. I know that it will be fine, but it’s a huge thing to commit to. It’s just that every time I set up my bath ritual, I start thinking…this is good but it could be so much better IF….Stay tuned.

Ten Things on Wednesday: 3/31/21

  1. It’s my 5th pandemic “staycation,” and…I’m over it. I have been productive, which is a word that I do not like to associate with vacations. I filed my taxes today, completed a consulting gig, worked on a baby blanket and ate some leftovers. Yesterday, I exchanged a pair of sneakers at New Balance, because I prefer to go during the week when there are no crowds. I stopped off at Lidl to pick up a few things and swung by Michaels because I needed another skein of yard for this blanket’s border. Yeah, this vacation is uber exciting…#sarcasm.
  2. Hope, Yappy, and I will be going to see my parentals on Friday for the Easter holiday. I booked us a hotel room downtown where we will order room service, cuddle Yappy and enjoy a change of scenery. I hope to take Hope to the museum and run around the city ordering takeout from my favorite hometown joints.
  3. I think I’ve made the decision that Hope and I will take a real vacation this summer. I think we’ll go to the Caribbean where I can get nice dark bronzy brown, drink from sun up to well past sundown and snooze a lot under the umbrella. I want swimsuit tan lines and a tan line from that resort bracelet that gets you an endless supply of fresh towels and booze. As much as I want an adventure trip, I am still skittish about moving around too much–I think a vacation where I lay on the beach for a week is in order.
  4. Hope never really got up today. It makes me sad. Yesterday we went to see a movie. Only 6 folks were in the theater–Side note: first movie in more than a year. It was weird. We skipped the snacks because we couldn’t justify taking our masks off for popcorn. Just seemed silly. Anyway, we got takeout after the movie and it was great to see Hope out, about, and engaged. It was a reminder that she’s in there, trying to figure out how to beat the darkness back. I’m guessing it was probably exhausting being up and out. Figures that she would sleep even more today. if there’s no rain tomorrow, I might see if I can lure her out with a game of tennis outback.
  5. It’s hard to find things to engage Hope. She’s just not at a place where she can put her own plan together. I’ve offered to get her a tutor so she can continue her Chinese and Korean lessons. I’ve told her about places that are hiring. I’ve suggested that she look into a free online class just to create some structure. I suggest a lot, and I get frustrated a lot because I keeping thinking and Hoping that one day she will be at a place in her development and healing where she might chase down a lead. Each week, especially during lockdown, I’m reminded that she’s just not there. I desperately wish I could help her in a more meaningful concrete way, but the reality is that other than supporting her and keeping her safe is my role. The heavy work of healing is her job at this point. I respect that, but I still wish there was something I could do.
  6. A few months ago, I bought Yappy a set of FluentPet AAC buttons. The goal is to train Yappy to press buttons with recorded words so he can communicate with me (if he wants). This is another lockdown situation in which I watched too many dog and cat videos on instagram for too many days. A couple of weeks ago, I finally opened that box and set up his first button, “Outside.” We’re on week 3 of me making a big deal out of saying OUTSIDE and pressing the button and then going out with him. He hasn’t yet intentionally hit the button, but he is vocalizing a bit more–which is a real change because Yappy just doesn’t vocalize much at all—, and he gets excited when I push the button. I know he knows the word; it’s just a matter of seeing if he decides to tell me he wants to go outside. Stay tuned.
  7. I’ve had a couple of more sedentary weeks. It happens, but I’m trying to get back into my moving rhythm. I wasn’t taking as many work breaks to move around; I didn’t play as much music. I didn’t get on the treadmill as much. I don’t worry about it too much in the grand scheme of things but I also don’t want the lack of movement to become a bad habit. I like it when I’m more active. Several months ago I started jumping rope, only to realize I”m just horrible at it. Folks online talking about how you can stay fit by jumping rope–Hmmmph! I stumbled repeatedly. I bought several different jump ropes because clearly, the problem was the rope. #sideeye. Eventually, I ended up with this super cheap jump rope that has a counter–that was my game changer. I am finally up to jumping 200 a day. A long-term goal is to get to 1,000.
  8. Yep, still eating cake every day. I’m convinced that cake heals me at night. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
  9. I’m thinking about buying roller skates because, at 48, I have a death wish. This is why I need to quick social media. Stupid videos and subsequent ads got me making all kinds of bad decisions. Just some of the things I’ve recently looked into as a result of social media ads: roller skates, boxed cold brew delivery (this is totally worth it, btw), CBD bath bombs, other kinds of bath fizzies, hoopless hula hoops, dog toothbrushes, workout clothes with resistance bands sewn in them. Anyway, back to the skates, I enjoyed roller skating (she says totally forgetting about the couple of times she went skating in the last 10 years and nearly ended up in a body cast–ok, a minor exaggeration. Adults look so cool on those things in the videos. I already know I’m going to end up being one of those “How it started/How it’s going” memes.
  10. I got my second vaccine on Saturday. What a relief. I know that it doesn’t prevent me from spreading it or getting it, but just knowing that I would survive it…that’s a lot. I mentioned earlier that Hope and I are going to see my parents; we haven’t seen them since July of last year when we went for a few hours and sat mostly on the deck in the back yard. I’m so excited to see them; this is by far the longest that I have gone without seeing them in person. I miss them. Hope is super excited to see them as well. She saw them in October when she spent a few days with them. While we had a nice quiet holiday season here, Hope really missed seeing family over Christmas. She’s looking forward to having that time with them. So am I!

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 Late on Thursday: 2/25/21

  1. I legit didn’t realize yesterday was Wednesday until I woke up this morning. My schedule Monday-Friday, at times, is brutal.
  2. I adulted this week. Sent in my passport renewal application. Deposited some checks that were nearly a month old. Pulled together the first set of docs necessary for my taxes. Cooked dinner. Tomorrow I might even call my primary care doc back; his office called to get me to make my annual physical appointment since we skipped last year. This regular ish, but I legit had to sit down, make a list and give it to my therapist last week. I am not terribly productive outside of work these days.
  3. Hope is still experiencing night terrors triggered by recent trauma. The thing is that there’s never a good time to deal with this heavy stuff. Given that Hope’s sleep schedule is wonky, her night terrors usually are happening during my work day. Yesterday, I had to fight to wake her out of one with less than 10 minutes before the start of a seminar I was giving as a consulting gig. I was juggling A LOT before hitting the virtual stage. The terrors have been really bad this week after abating for a week. I’m hoping she has some breakthrus soon so her brain can stop needing to work so hard helping her process some really shitty stuff. It’s heartbreaking.
  4. I’ve taken on some consulting work because it gives me some freedom to pick and choose gigs with groups outside of my current space . The gigs I’ve got lined up for the next few months are completely unplanned income, and its especially cool because I’m doing it because I enjoy it and not for the extra cash. When I took on the first of a string of gigs last fall, I made a decision that all extra income was going to be saved for my 50th birthday trip in two years. I’m planning to go to Egypt and Turkey. Egypt for Kemet and the pyramids and Turkey to take a religious trek visiting places where Paul journeyed. I want to take a few weeks off and travel, and it’s possible I will do it alone, which also excites me.
  5. Hope and I had a really amazing conversation about her childhood and our life as a family. Young Adult Hope is really emerging and it’s really cool. She’s totally still a ridiculous goofball, but there are times when I sit and think, wow I was not ready for her to come thru like this! The night terrors have taught me a lot about how the brain will find a way to work through stuff even if you don’t want too. Our chats sometimes reveal how she has processed to date life before me, with her parent and while she was in foster care. Often she just says she doesn’t remember things she used to have on heavy repeat 5 years ago, and I totally believe her. Sometimes it’s hard to hear how she’s put things up on a high shelve in her brain somewhere, but I’m learning that your brain also works hard to protect you.
  6. My parents got their first vaccine shot this week. I’m really so happy because it means we’re one step closer to hugging them. I miss them so much it hurts.
  7. I’m still waiting for my county health department to call me. It’s really any day now. Once I’m vaccinated and my parents are vaccinated Hope and I are going for a visit. Hope hardly leaves the house so she’s minimal risk. It’s soooo close.
  8. I chose a week to take off. I think we might book a room on the harbor in Baltimore for a weekend. Walk around the harbor and then watch movies and order lots of room service. Just need a change of scenery.
  9. Anyone else feel like weekends are too short as we enter year 2 of the pandemic? I think everyone should only be expected to work 4 days per week during this crapshow. We need an additional trauma processing day.
  10. I think I’m going to let Hope order in tomorrow night. She so delights in simple things sometimes. Watching her eat something she really loves, especially takeout, is a real joy.

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.

2020 Reflections

Each year I do a vision board. I have it blown up and I keep it framed in my bedroom so that I see it daily and am reminded that there are things to do.

My 2020 board included things like evolving my parenting now that Hope is in college, chasing some adventure, self acceptance, health and as always love.

How does the meme go?

How it started…It was to be a year of great promise.

How it ended…It was a year of survival.

COVID-19 pretty much took a wrecking ball to the year.

Hope is currently not enrolled in school, and I’m back to daily, active parenting. Just when she was becoming more social and connected, everything was cut off. It all made her really vulnerable, and just like that trouble found her. It’s been really hard dealing with the fallout of the summer’s drama. The pandemic made it just that much worse—there are so few outlets for having any sort of social connection.

Adventure? Well, going to the grocery store became an adventure. Going anywhere became an adventure. I feel like my world just closed in this year. In January I was counting down days to a trip to Israel in March, but instability in the region made my travel buddy want to cancel. We rebooked and planned a trip to Costa Rica, but then COVID hit and our trip got postponed to November. November came, along with a surge in cases, and Costa Rica was cancelled. In July Hope and I took a day trip to see my parents. That was a highlight for the year.

My vision board has hiking and relearning how to swim on it, meanwhile the pool never even opened. Adventure finally came about two months ago when I decided that we would start visiting local farms in the area. It was fun, and I have a lot of jam in my pantry now. It was wonderful having fresh pressed cider and fresh picked collard greens. I will likely sign up for a CSA in 2021 so that I can be sure to keep the goodness coming.

While I’m grateful that I found small ways of creating adventure, I’m sad that my world shrank in so many ways.

I have had a lot of time to think about what I like and dislike about myself. I’ve also had a lot of time to remember that Hope watches and learns from me. I have been able to make a lot of progress on self-acceptance. Listen, I’m not saying I’m “there,” but I’ve at least switched my thinking from focusing on my looks and size, to focus on what my body can do and what I need to do to make sure it is able to keep doing those things. I lost about 20lbs this year, most of it in January-March, but have largely kept it off. I walk every day. I’ve managed to increase my daily steps substantially. I cook more.

But I also still make a cake every 4-5 days; I still eat too much sugar, I still haven’t mastered hydration and my coping mechanism when it comes to consumption is still…an issue. 😊

I’ve been fortunate that I didn’t take a financial hit this year. I’m grateful for that. It’s meant that I’ve been able to keep debt low and afford some things that have made quarantining more comfortable—more streaming subscriptions, a new electronic standing desk, and some other odds and ends. I’m now contemplating some updates to the kitchen and my bathroom. I mean, if I’m going to be hold up here indefinitely, I probably should make it pretty and comfortable.

The flip side is that this has been one of the most challenging years of my career. The emotional toll is heavy. Dealing with rampant White supremacy in the midst of a pandemic is draining. The murder of George Floyd will be with me for a long time. The fall out has changed the way I think about the work I do, the pleasantries that I’m sometimes forced to engage in, the patience that I’m nearly always in short supply of. And watching some folks just fade back into racial oblivion is…toxic, yet to be expected during the best of times.

It’s been hard.

And love? One of the great loves of my life passed away in January, Elihu. I miss him every day. I wonder what I could’ve done to change the course of our relationship, even though I know my ending it was the right thing to do at the time. The loss of E came on the heels of losing another one of my great loves just the year before. Dating this year was trash. I am seeing someone, but I know it’s not a great fit for me, so I also know it has an expiration date. What can I say pandemics…#shrug. I’m hopeful that maybe I’ll make a meaningful connection in 2021—not meaningful like the Match commercial with Satan and 2020, but meaningful nonetheless.

But I suppose there are some bright spots.

  • I survived my own bout with COVID early in the year.
  • Hope had two jobs for a while and was really good at them.
  • Yappy is much more affectionate with Hope, even if he is primarily still very attached to me.
  • I managed it all without completely falling apart.
  • I deepened some of my friendships.
  • I did a lot of writing and creating, though not in this space.
  • I found another level to my voice regarding diversity at work.

I’m also super conscious of the fact that lots of folks would trade places with me in a minute during this crapshoot of a year. Hope and I are fine. I would give my left foot to hug my mom and dad, see my sisters and snuggle my niece and nephews, but I guess I’ll settle for waving on camera. In the grand scheme of things Hope and I are very fortunate to be comfortable. Our families have not suffered any losses. We are able to afford what we need and largely what we want. We have each other and Yappy.

We’re ok.

I have no idea what my vision board will look like for 2021; right now I just want a giant picture of OUTSIDE, but I’m guessing I should be more specific.


I Think I’ve Turned the Corner (Again)

So, I’m hopefully making progress on this COVID-19 thing.

The nighttime is the worst time. I can power through the day, but once night falls, the coughing starts again, the difficulty in regulating body temperature comes back and once I get comfortable, I actually feel like I could eat something.

I feel better overall, but I’ve learned not to trust it—even if it lasts a few days.

Mostly though, I am tired a lot. I didn’t take a nap yesterday and I’m paying for it today. I just feel like I could sleep for days.

sick

But I am feeling better. I also feel like it’s just going to take a while to feel like myself again.

Hope has been amazing since my symptoms came back last week. She checks on me, always asking if I need anything. It almost makes me want to drag this out a bit. #kidding

We have many masks in the house now and I’ve been ‘officially’ cleared to walk Yappy as long as I have on a mask and maintain distance. That makes me feel better—getting out for fresh air and a little exercise. Of course, I overdid it this morning by walking my usual 2 miles. Now I feel like I could sleep 8 hours.

I’m logging back on to work tomorrow; I have a wonderfully supportive office. I’m a little anxious that my schedule looks heavy tomorrow, so I’ll have to rearrange things a bit. I know I want to work, but I have really come to grips with my physical limitations right now

I’m not well—and my wonderful reader Rose dressed me down properly with that declaration this weekend (again, thank you so much!).

There really has been so much discussion in the media about the physical symptoms of the virus, but there hasn’t been as much discussion of the emotional toll this is taking on both the sick and the well.

Social distancing has been hard for folks, especially those of us who are extroverts. The lack of energy from others has been challenging for me. I had two solid meltdowns before I became sick. I am careful not to rely on Hope to fill that need. 1) It’s not her job and 2) I’m sensitive that she’s an introvert.

Being in quarantine has been especially difficult and isolating. Before my post last week, I had told only family and a few close friends about being sick. I still don’t share it with many outside of the blog. In some ways it is like watching the world go by. Most of my friends are not sick and don’t seem to know many people who are sick. They are adjusting to the new normal and while they take the pandemic seriously, it hasn’t necessarily touched them personally.

I’m happy about that. I don’t wish this on people.

But it’s isolating. And who knows, maybe they are just like me and not broadcasting it. I don’t know, but it is lonely being one of the countless people directly affected, even in the midst of something so widespread.

Then there is the fear that this will happen again. We don’t even have enough tests for confirmation of symptomatic cases, and we’re trying to get serology and antigen testing, but now folks are second guessing whether having it might make you immune to having it again. That is hella scary. The thought of going through this again this fall is really frightening. I don’t even want to experience this “mild” version again. I probably will volunteer for the vaccine trials due to fear—damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

There’s also the folks who seem intent on sacrificing all of us. They don’t want to social distance. They don’t want to wear masks. They think this is a hoax. They think this is a play to move the country more socialist. They think their rights are being infringed upon. They wave confederate and gadsen flags which dog whistle all kinds of stuff. And they don’t believe science, which is increasingly baffling to me.

Huh

Make it make sense!

I totally get the awful way the economy came to a screeching halt. I also get how desperate families are to get and keep needed resources, food and housing in particular. We are talking basic Maslow’s Hierarchy here. I get the fear and desperation. I also know how privileged I am to not be in that predicament where I am missing paychecks, wondering if we can afford food and if I’ll be able to pay the mortgage. I get it.

But I don’t get the crazy parts—the dash of white supremacy and refusal to believe science. That is just point-blank crazy to me.

Let me hip you to a reality: Science is a thing folks, and it is not antithetical to religious tenets. I was always taught that science is God’s way of showing us the awesomeness of his creation. The miracle of life is truly mysterious, and science is revelatory. God gives us peeks beyond the veil through science.

COVID-19 is not the flu, and it’s not a hoax. It’s killed over 40K people in just two months in the US, and it will kill more. You can’t be pro-choice when it only benefits you. You can’t tiptoe through religious texts to cherry pick that parts that uphold your hollow arguments. You can’t prioritize the economy while ignoring “Blessed are those who mourn…” or “Blessed are the merciful…” I mean, sure you can, but be ready for folks to call you out on the abject hypocrisy of doing so.

This whole thing is a dumpster fire, and we have a fire hose with low water pressure.

Anyway, I am on the mend—hopefully. I initially wanted to believe this was just a 2 weeks and done thing. For some it is, for some others, 3, sometimes 4 weeks is more realistic. I seem to be in the latter category. I’m learning to respect my limitations, even if I loathe them. I’m learning to take a daily nap. I’m learning that rest is essential. I do not know what the rest of this week will look like; I’m guessing it will involve some rescheduled meetings and a lot of breaks.

For now, I can only listen to my body and her needs and respect what she tells me to do.

Be well folks.


I’m a Mess Right Now

Before I even get into this post, I anticipate that it will be a hot mess of rants, rambles, emotional meltdowns and frustrations. It might resonate with your own hot mess of feelings. It might be just the thing you shouldn’t be reading if you are one of those cheery, obsessively positive people. So…gauge yourselves accordingly.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about trauma during this pandemic.

I’ve also been thinking about coping.

I feel like I’m experiencing a lot of the former and not doing terribly well on the latter.

Two weeks ago tomorrow I began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. For a week I dealt with irritating but mild symptoms. I was tired a lot, but unless there was a dramatic change in symptoms, I knew would be fine.

I turned the corner last weekend and physically felt great, despite still not having much of an appetite, all week. I dove back into work, which frankly is insane right now. Work has stressed me out, pissed me off, triggered so much anxiety, cursing and just full-blown emotional meltdowns that I just wash my face, put on my pjs and get in my bed shortly after I close my laptop. #depressionmuch?

And then, yesterday afternoon the sore throat returned. By 9pm I was coughing again and by 11pm my anxiety was in full bloom which only made me feel worse. I have no idea what this means other than abject terror about what’s next on this journey. I do know it probably means that my quarantine will get extended when I was so close to breaking free. I mean, I was just going to go to the Target, but still.

I’m a bit of a mess and overcome by constant waves of emotion.

Grief is a big one. I just keep cycling through the stages, sometimes even daily. Despite being externally low key these days, inside I’m at a level 10 just about 24/7. I’m probably tired from resisting the urge to populate every sentence I utter out loud with multiple f-bombs.

The quarantine has been especially challenging. I don’t always have the energy to connect outside of work hours with anyone—so no virtual happy hours these two weeks. Hope is hit or miss with her caretaking and engagement—she is ensconced in her room and only comes out for food or bio breaks. She will go to the store. She finally unpacked the rest of her college stuff from the car after I quietly, through gritted teeth raged that I’ve been asking her to do this for WEEKS. Yappy seems terrified to walk with her now. She grabs the leash and he runs to hide under the bed; I know there’s a story there. This has meant that despite my quarantine, I have had to suit up and take Yappy out ever so often to alleviate his anxiety and make sure he gets the opportunity to poop.

Cooking still falls to me.

Cleaning still falls to me.

I’m overwhelmed by everything and underwhelmed by the world’s response. I took off today because I was going to snap if I had to participate in one more Zoom call that should have been an email. I’m tired of expectations that I always be on camera. I’m tired that there isn’t a real, authentic acknowledgement that this ish is traumatic, and not just regular traumatic like “Do you remember where you were on 9-11?” No, this is like the year 2020 seems to be a never-ending cluster-f*ck…the whole gotdamn year. Yesterday I got up and took a walk (via YT video) because a series of back and forth emails in which I insisted that I could not help with a project (a boundary) resulted in a final passive aggressive email from my colleague. This was before 10am.

I’m over it.

I’m not motivated to do much of anything but find new cocktails to craft (I’ll be trying a Matcha Mule today). I bought yarn, I have downloaded patterns. I can’t even get myself to cast on stitches or to think about a project and I usually find knitting to be incredibly soothing. I have watched very little of the trending shows and movies everyone is writing about. I keep watching Law and Order, a couple of animal shows, and other stuff I’ve seen a million times. I just long to know what’s already coming—so I rewatch stuff I’ve already watched.

I’m a mess and I know it. I don’t even know how not to be a mess right now. I’m sad, mad, worried, sick, sick and tired, frustrated, confined, bored yet overextended at work and the thing that is seriously effing me up the most?

Some folks are trying to normalize this experience. This shit is not normal. And while I understand that it is the “new normal” and that normal as we once knew it is gone; I’m grieving *my* normal hard right now, so stop reframing this shit. I am not hearing it right now. STFU.

I’m beyond miserable, and there’s levels to my misery.

And then I feel guilty because, in the grand scheme of things I’m fine, Hope and Yappy are fine. My family is safe, sound and fine. There are so many people who are economically devastated in the midst of the mind f*ck this all is. I’m not experiencing that, thankfully, but I can’t even imagine having that burden too. It reminds me of the privilege I have despite everything.

So, yeah, just add woke guilt on top of the emotional dumpster fire that I am right now.

So this chilly Friday morning, I’m going to make me some coffee, put some Baileys in it, cut off several chunks of the bread I made yesterday, get in my favorite spot on the couch and sulk while watching L&O marathons on various channels and filling in with back episodes on Hulu for hours when I can’t find a broadcast episode. I will call my doctor to discuss the reappearance of symptoms and what it means for my quarantine, testing and over all health. I will snooze my work accounts—no I will not hop on your zoom for a few minutes. Let me lone!

Today will be for self-care in the form of tv watching, wallowing, carb loading, cannabis consumption and trying to get my mind right. I might even order takeout on a *Friday* (Thursday is takeout day at Casa d’ABM).

How are y’all?


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