I’ll be honest. This was about as much of a gut punch as I needed today.
I’ve done everything I’ve been told to do. Stayed home for over 102 days. Didn’t travel. Been out only a handful of times when I was assured I wouldn’t come in contact with another human. Worn the mask.
Yet the governor decided to open the economy back up. And I get it. It was a gamble, a misguided hope that sunlight/warmth would offset the spread of the virus. So the economy started to open back up and then… people decided it was over. Stopped social distancing. Stopped wearing masks.
And here we are. Back at @*#&! square one because they were in a hurry to get back to normal during a pandemic with no vaccine in sight. They gambled, and we lost.
Now I’m stuck with no end in sight for the foreseeable future. When I started my daily updates, I had no idea I’d be doing it for so long – with no end in sight.
I am resilient. I know it. I just need to vent out this pressure. Readjust. Find something to help me keep my balance. And one day, we’ll hug and hold hands and share wine glasses again (maybe). One day.
It’s Day 100 of social distancing/working from home/protecting myself from COVID 19. I celebrated with a glass (or two) of wine, homemade turkey meatloaf (with feta), and an ice cream sandwich.
While COVID 19 cases continue to climb where I live in Texas, I still see people outside in groups without masks. ICU beds at the Texas Medical Center are at 97% capacity. I think the evidence speaks for itself. It’s serious, y’all.
I know humans can be selfish creatures, but politicizing mask-wearing seems almost criminal. The science says we’d save thousands upon thousands of lives for this supposed interference with personal freedoms. If you can’t find it in your heart to do something so simple to help your fellow man, well, search your heart. We all can do better by each other.
It’s been rainy, so I haven’t been out for a walk for a while. I try to keep busy reading, working, cleaning, writing. As the news pours in that COVID is holding my freedom hostage (not the masks, the disease), I get discouraged. I want to take a vacation – visit people, places. I want to not be afraid to go to the office. I don’t necessarily want normal – I never relish normal – but I would like some freedom to return without having to put my health at risk to have it.
Yet there are people in my life who tell me it’s not real. It’s not serious. I’m overreacting. Well, I don’t believe that and I’m sorry you do. Really. I hope you and your families stay healthy. It saddens me, though, that if you cared a smidgen about the people around you, wore the damn mask, all this would be over all that much sooner and all of us could move on.
I’m tired of bargaining with people. I’m tired of presenting facts and being met with cognitive dissonance so deep I know there’s no hope of reaching a person. Most of all, I’m just tired.
Fortunately, I still have my sense of humor, and social media, Teams, FaceTime, and texts keep me connected with the outside world. I’m grateful for all the people that are sincere with, “how are you doing?” and for the ones that send me jokes that make me groan. This is what community is all about.
Let me preface all this with – I’m white. Grew up in an all white community in an all white church. I do not pretend to know what it’s like to be judged just because our skin tones are different and I won’t pretend to.
It’s so difficult to peel away a lifetime of white privilege. You have to be deliberate about it to find your way to a new perspective, to try and see a life from a different point of view.
People who haven’t peeled back their white privilege say things like, “but all lives matter,” or “but I’m not racist.” Like I said, it’s a difficult process.
Responding with “All Lives Matter,” when someone (especially if they are black) says “Black Lives Matter,” tells them you don’t think black people are hurting or persecuted. It invalidates them and their pain and struggle.
I know most people mean it out of love for all lives. But all lives aren’t being persecuted right now. All lives aren’t equal in the eyes of America, and unfortunately, the law.
Honor the struggle of our black brothers and sisters and say it out loud, “BLACK LIVES MATTER!” When you say that, you say to a black person that you care about them and their struggle. You would be shocked at how far that goes. When you are hurting and angry, don’t you wish someone would tell you that you matter?
Of course some say “All Lives Matter” defensively, as if Black Lives Matter means white ones don’t. I don’t have time for you right now.
When a person says, “Black Lives Matter,” they are saying that a black life matters JUST AS MUCH as anyone else’s. In this case, save the “All Lives” when all lives really do matter equally.
I had the day off, so I decided to get in the car and drive. My chosen destination was the Attwater Prairie Chicken Nature Reserve near Eagle Lake, Texas. It was an hour’s drive out there, and I enjoyed all the country scenery on the way.
Eagle Lake is one of the largest natural lakes in Texas. It also boasts some history, including being a major sugar refinery some 100+ years ago. I also passed a rice-drying facility as well.
I ended up at Attwater Prairie Chicken Nature Preserve. Honestly, there’s not much to see there. Unless you go early in the morning, you will miss most of the bird activity, and it is a flat, nature preserve that is a host of chaotic plant growth. Most people would yawn at spending any time there.
I am one of those people, however, that will find beauty in almost any situation, nearly every seemingly boring situation or place. I can’t help myself. I am blessed to see objects, sticks, bugs, rusty beams and flowers as opportunities for art.
I spent about an hour out on the reserve’s auto tour. I stopped every twenty feet or so, that’s why it took that long. I kept finding beauty to photograph. I saw several types of butterflies and dragonflies. Definitely the best kinds of flies. I saw many types of birds (alas, no prairie chickens, but they are rare and endangered) and even a doe as she ran across the open field.
I wish I could have captured the movement of the prairie grass. It was quite breezy, and I was thankful, because it was so hot. The breeze also made some of the photography a bit more challenging, as most everything I saw was moving – swaying, flying, landing.
On the way home, I stopped by In-N-Out. It was nearly 2 PM and the line was super long – I’d say nearly 40 cars long. Anywhere else, I’d have left, but the people at In-N-Out are so efficient, I was on my way with a double cheeseburger in about 15 minutes.
I felt renewed and rejuvenated when I got home. A day OUT was exactly what I needed.
I’m watching the tribute to this year’s high school senior class, “Graduate Together.” I know I graduated some 30+ years ago, but I can’t imagine being in the throes of the final semester of high school, going home on a Friday and then being told, “that’s it. That’s your year. The end.” Missing out on all the Senior things. The final moments with friends you might not get to see very often after you cross the stage and get your diploma. All of it. Goodbye, normalcy at an age where you’re already standing at the crossroads.
I know normal is never really constant. At least mine hasn’t been. But I do miss my routine, as boring as it may have seemed.
This is the last photo in my queue from when my life was “normal.” My team from work went out to eat at the only In & Out in the Houston area, knowing that I was going to start working from home the next week. Never did I imagine I’d be sitting here two months later watching the country’s senior class be honored on tv.
We don’t know when it will end, but I do know this, I will never take being out enjoying my boring routine for granted ever again.
I was going to write this tomorrow. A big milestone epic thing. I just don’t think I could do it without being maudlin. It hits me harder some days than others – the news changes daily. The main message I hear is that this is still the beginning and the end? No one really knows when that will be.
I came home March 13, for what I hoped would be a few weeks home alone. It’s been two months now. TWO. Two months without a hug. Two months without greeting all of the people in my department as I do every single morning. Two months without the familiar scents of our farmland location, or the the dust of all the construction around it. The auditory motivation during the the 45 minutes in the car each way listening to whatever music I need to get through those moments.
I am, however, okay without the anxiety of bump-drafting on I-10 every morning. I could list many positives, and trust me, I look for them each day as I am working from home in my pajamas with unlimited coffee and snacks. There are two sides to the COVID social distancing coin. It flips, it flops, but I do ok.
I remember coming to terms with my new normal after cancer. Those changes and losses were mostly in my personal life, but work was the constant. It was the place I went to every day, even as I went through treatment. I left the apartment to go there. Now every part of my life feels like it’s on hold in the same 700 ft space that I’m in every day for hours right now.
If I’ve learned anything, however, it’s that change is a constant I’m ok with most of the time. I think that’s where I’m stuck – two months with very little change except perhaps the color of my pajamas and the flavor of my coffee beans. Very little change, even in the work I’m doing. Everything is static – stagnant – and I need something new, and I’m not going to get it any time soon.
One day, I’ll return to that cubicle past the suburbs. I’ll see those gorgeous sunsets and enjoy my concert ride to work. I’ll get hugs. I’ll see smiling faces – people who are glad to see me (and some who aren’t – ha) and no one day will be like the other. I didn’t realize how much I’d miss that, but I really, really do.
Tomorrow will be Pandemic Social Distancing, Day 60, and I will be okay.
Fifty days. I’ve been working from home, isolating, social distancing for FIFTY DAYS. It could be worse, I know. I’m still working, I have a paycheck, and I’m reasonably healthy, despite the gym and pool being locked down. I also just ordered some healthier snacks. I’m doing the best I can.
A coworker and I were chatting earlier via email and she said, after I told her I’d been alone all this time, “please tell me you have pets.” I replied that I had no pets, but I have been talking daily to my imaginary coworkers Grumpy Cat, my rainbow pony, and my unicorn.
All of us are having varied experiences, all real and valid. One day, hindsight will reveal what we could have done differently with our time, but truthfully, I believe we’re all handling it the best way we know how.
Hang in there all. Do the best you can today. If the best thing you can do is get out of bed, do that. Shower. Change pajamas. Open the blinds.
You’ve got this! We’ve got this. Like I told my coworker today, I may be alone in this apartment, but I am not alone on my journey. It’s all about perspective!
In 2014, I took an epic Bestie Vacay to Maui. It was one of the best trips in my memory. I go there in my mind and virtually as much as possible. If money were no object, I’d live there, and I would make it my home.
One memory popped up today. The day I was flying into Kahului, I was running on caffeine, adrenaline and excitement. When they opened the cabin doors, we were greeted with a fragrant aroma that was undoubtedly Hawaii.
When I stood up to deplane, there was a man in front of me who had an instrument case. He saw me taking it all in. Already. Still on the plane. He smiled and told me the scent was plumeria. He was a musician who split his time between California and Maui and each time he was deplaning, he could smell the plumeria and he knew he was home.
I believe we can have that sense of “home” in several places, including the place we pay rent. I love Houston and I have lived here 26 years now, the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. I feel at home in Sunnyvale, California, because I have people I love there. I love Maui, because my soul feels at rest there.
I hope to go back to Maui once all this COVID business is finished. I want to smell the plumeria, crack a coconut, drink some POG and sit on the deck of my favorite restaurant (Aloha Mixed Plate) with my Bestie and enjoy some Spam. Until then, I will look at the photos and go to the memories in the corners of my mind. No one can take those away.
While some things are returning to “normal-lite” other things are still off limits. Even if restaurants and bars open, I am not willing to go just yet, no manipedis or movies. Even if the federal government wants the states open, they can’t force me out into the open. I am smart enough to protect myself when others will fail to protect me.
When you peel back the layers of abysmal federal intervention, the even sadder protections from state government, I am grateful to live in Houston, where at least locally, the government seems to be at work on my behalf.
Still, I plan on taking care of me, like I always do. I talked to one of my doctors on Friday morning, a tele-doc appointment. She wasn’t so confident I should try to take a vacation in July, but if I did, traveling by car would be the best way to go.
I know we are in this for the long haul. I know we all can’t stay home forever. It’s not feasible for a long list of valid reasons. Still, we all have to do what’s best for ourselves, with some amount of compassion for other people. I will wear a mask when I go out. It’s the least I can do. Wearing a mask isn’t for me, it’s for other people. It’s also an outward signal that I care about other people.
I went out yesterday for a walk and I had my face covered. Out of the ten people I saw, only 3 (including myself) were wearing masks. In my county in Texas, it’s a requirement when you go out for at least a couple of more weeks.
Unfortunately, I see this getting worse before it gets better, and I plan on making it through, whatever it takes. To do that will require a delicate balance of protecting myself and caring for others.