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I got this plant (his name is Arnold) last year. I repotted him in the beginning of the summer, but it's time for him to be repotted again now, because he's had some babies and they've gotten big.
Taking care of my plants has been really calming throughout all of this. Watering them has become a ritual and now that I've been home almost constantly, I can see how big they've all gotten.
Repotting them before the fall and winter will give them more room to spread their roots and then grow next year. Even if I'm not able to take care of myself as well as I should be (hence why I put up a printout of a CBT triangle my therapist gave me years ago), I can still take care of them.
(The diplodocus' name is Kenny, a camper gave him to me almost 5 years ago. He loves the plants too).
Los días son una extensión del fin de semana, es decir, del tiempo muerto del fin de semana. Esa sensación de tres de la tarde, donde nada pasa y, sin embargo, lo queremos todo (siempre desde la comodidad del sofá o en el confort de la siesta), es la semana completa. Todos los días, las acciones son una intermitencia que interrumpe horas de hastío. Y no digo que nadie haga nada en esas horas, o que yo esté mirando el techo incluso en el trabajo. La verdad, es todo lo contrario: cada vez tengo más trabajo, pero la mecánica del laburo obliga a tener apagar la consciencia para, justamente, hacer funcionar la máquina. Por esa razón, los días se suceden sin tiempo, sin sentimientos de por medio, sin compasión...
He perdido la cuenta de hace cuánto tiempo dejé de pensar en citas y compromisos, en oportunidades y panoramas. Mis días, hace tiempo, transcurren en el pasillo de la casa, en el viaje de la cocina al escritorio y de ahí al baño, conectando todo con la cama donde me dejo caer a las 7 de la tarde, sólo para pensar en cuánto tiempo perdí del día sin saber qué pasaba.
No sé qué va a pasar después de que todo pase y nos hayamos vacunado y tengamos que volver de lleno a la maquinaria. Supongo que el vértigo nos comerá crudos, sin asco, y las consultas terapéuticas crecerán exponencialmente, como el crimen y la desesperación. Volveremos a la tristeza habitual del "todos los días como uno solo", yo me montaré en la carretera a esperar que no me choquen, y sentarme en una oficina a esperar, siempre esperar, que nada pase que interrumpa mi rutina. Hay algo de nosotros que quiere eso, y otra parte que está totalmente perdida y resignada, sobre todo con esta ausencia. Y hay que moverse pronto, o no sabremos qué hacer...
Sometime, perhaps not too far in the distance, we anticipate a return to normalcy. Even as spring is soon set to arrive, we are constantly reminded of the promise of hope and renewal. We long to joyfully emerge from dark, dreary days of confinement and thereafter commence to slowly, but steadily, rebuild our shattered lives and dreams.
The world is reawakening.
I worry about my mom through this, in part because she says she is afraid she would be allergic to the vaccine. I don’t believe her. She decided to work a cashier job after being laid off from her previous job. I begged her not to, not only because of covid but also because there are other jobs that she could do that would make her happier. I wish she would not think that she would get anaphylaxis from a vaccine, considering the rarity of it, but at the very least everyone else in the family seems to be getting more access to it. I’m lucky in that regard. It was a huge load off my mind after my dad got the vaccine.
- I've so much missed being able to hug my friends
... nature has kept me grounded
... feeling gratitude
I got Moderna #2 today. Yay! So very relieved to be on the road to immunity. After the year of global pandemic, lock down, isolation, fear, irritability, uncertainty, and bouts of insomnia and thoughts of doom I am so joyous for this moment.
This week I have seen some improvement in my energy level and mental outlook. I haven't been so quick to respond to issues or actions with anger. Instead I find it easier to just pause and breathe, observe and then respond.
I still feel most days like I'm on my own secluded island, though. Suspicious of any strangers. Wary if I see a maskless person in public. Too quick to judge. But I'm getting better I think especially now that I'm fully vaccinated.
I feel like I'm free to plan ahead again. Eager to get information from the CDC on what I can and cannot do going forward. Excited about travel and seeing family and friends. Still, in the back of my mind there's a kernel of doubt. What about all these new variants? How long does immunity last? Can I infect others? Much yet to be determined.
Friday A.M. and up before anyone in the household. Have slept two hours in our sunroom/my garagelab. In the midst of a manic episode and have not regularly slept in about six days. There are no longer any patterns to this. I would hope this should crash into a low spell in another day or two. It will be awful, but at least I will sleep.
Since this is my first entry, I will present a rundown in my own mind of what exactly has happened to my family and myself since the Pandemic.
My family's Pandemic began in November 2019. Prior to November, I had worked for 25 years straight as a field scientist. I obtained two graduate degrees and studied the Pacific Coast and the Cascades while living in various wonderful towns throughout the Pacific Northwest.
I began to have problems talking and following conversations on the phone. Well, I started to internally notice this in 2017/2018. To the point I would loose my emotional regulation. I couldn't follow a conversation if it was with more than one person in front of me. I am a professional technical writer and I could no longer turn in simple reports because they would be rejected due to a failure in logic or clarity. I began having problems with memory, getting lost during fieldwork and driving, and then began getting visually and physically angry (punching the air uncontrollably) or sad (crying or sobbing for no appropriate reason) at work, or in the grocery, or at my child's play. I would also have random episodes of evening terrors in hotel rooms while working on the road and at home as well as extreme spells of paranoia.
And there was no answer. I've had mental and substance abuse problems throughout my life due to my challenging childhood and early adult years. But I had regularly sought out therapy and other avenues when I was having hard times in life. This was different now. This was a complete lack of control or ability to predict how my brain would react to a situation, or what your outward and public reaction will be.
So that was one part that was difficult. The complete change in how people see you. The worst is how your close friends adjust to your unknown problems and eventually change in how they communicate with you, what they say about you to others you know, and ultimately not acknowledging you as a friend or colleague anymore. Slander of your character and work history. In the most literal sense. A complete inability to compose yourself so that the people slandering you won't keep doing that. But they do and you can't control your brain. It beyond confusing because it takes months and years for these relationships to horribly fall out of your life.
Since 2019, I have seen neurologists, cognitive psychologists, psychiatrists, and MS doctors. I have been given suggestions of a stroke, MS, nervous breakdown with psychosis, bipolar disorder, and personality disorder. They finally decided the two latter when I was committed to a psychiatric hospital in Portland in December 2019. I got back home and was let go from my State job because they couldn't make my job ADA accessible enough for my cognitive problems.
So, I was fired due to a mental problem, my wife was working for a non-profit helping victims of domestic abuse and then I was hooked up with some neurologists ... who could see what the actual cognitive issue was. They were thinking these were pretty major mental health diagnoses considering I have never had a history of serious mental illness outside of major depression; especially not psychosis episodes. ... doctors thought it was the reaction to something physiologically wrong with my brain, which is what my wife and myself had always thought.
Then the Pandemic hit and any hope of a research team vanished. I was left to regulate my unregulatable mental problems at home by myself during the days. I was just using pills, the internet and the handouts from the mental ward to try to stay positive and constructive. And then the Pandemic hit.
We were stuck with no paycheck (I pulled in 75% of earnings) and my wife put me up for disability. We were denied of course due to a lack of a consistent diagnosis, but that takes about a year of no funds to get the answer you know is coming. Again, that is a full year with no money. I finally got the okay to get my unemployment a few months ago, so that is much better. But it was too late. We had to sell our house in Oregon and move across the country during a huge peak in the virus. In August 2020 we arrived in Nashville, Tennessee and then up to south-central Kentucky. It is where our extended family lives. We are thankful for the place to stay, but it has been an awful adjustment socially and economically. When I left this place as a teenager, I swore I would never come back here.
A few months ago, I finally tested positive for early onset dementia. And there is no hope now. I've lost years of potential progress and the ability to slow it down. I am just full of pills now and random moving thoughts. My boys are 17 and 14. I don't know if the emotions and confusion I have each day are real or if they are the products of my brain that I don't consciously understand. I had to sit them down and explain to them what is going to happen to me. And they just had to be uprooted and start at a high school in fucking Kentucky. And they have had to deal with living under the strain of the Pandemic throughout all of this.
I do know mine is just a drop of hardness in a full and wide iron frying pan. But there is a difference in knowing it is going to end and you will be back to your normal life. Get the vaccine, eventually get used to taking on and off masks, and will look back at this as something amazing and horrible they lived though. If you do a quick rundown on headlines from most of the major sources (NYT, BBC, etc.), there is a lot of strife on local businesses, how to date, how to keep being social, how to keep your kids entertained. What about the populations that were already suffering prior to the Pandemic? In many ways, people will go on normally. Those who were dealing with, or starting to deal with, major life health concerns and problems; or those who live in economically-challenging neighborhoods or countries, have been suffering with an added layer of the Pandemic.
It has and simply remains awful.
Till next time
p.s. for any of those who believe spreading toxic positivism is a good thing, you can [...]
Parecerá una gran ingenuidad, pero solamente hasta tiempos recientes fui consciente de que no existe un sentido de "justicia" en lo ocurre en la vida o en la sociedad. Tanto el desmoronamiento de mi vida en el 2015 como el desmoronamiento de la vida que conocíamos en el 2020 con el COVID 19 fueron grandes momentos para saber y experimentar que no existe justicia posible que te salve de lo inevitable.
En las últimas semanas he sabido de personas con grandes fortunas, que invirtieron grandes cantidades de dinero en hospitales para intentar salvarse de los efectos del COVID 19 en sus organismos y nada de ello sirvió para evitar que murieran. Aquí hablamos más de grandes recursos financieros y no de justicia, pero igual: personas con grandes contribuciones a la sociedad, buenas personas, gente que tenía un futuro que aportar han desaparecido en esta hecatombe y no hay justicia que los haya salvado.
Yo creía que si hacías A + B + C el resultado sería justo. Y no. El resultado puede ser cualquier cosa. Y puede ser cualquier cosa que esté totalmente fuera de tu control. La incertidumbre es la norma de nuestros tiempos. Esto vuelve loca a la gente. De verdad. No tener control, no saber qué pasará, cuándo o cómo.
En mi país, la vacuna no llega. Sé que hay grupos poblacionales a los que les tiene sin cuidado la falta de vacunas, incluso el COVID 19 mismo. Supongo, porque no lo he estudiado a conciencia, que es una cuestión cultural. No les importa, este es un ladrillo más en el desastre cotidiano, una razón más para la muerte, una cosa que vendrá y desaparecerá y no merece su atención, ni ningún cambio fundamental en sus vidas.
Pero en las zonas más urbanas sí importa que no hayan vacunas a estas alturas. Sí importa. Especialmente por todos los médicos y personal de hospitales que están atendiendo a los enfermos. Es increíble la incapacidad del gobierno.
A few weeks ago my grandma got vaccinated, my Mom drove her to the drive-in vaccination site, and I tagged along. The vaccination site was actually the airstrip at Pratt and Whitney! It was right next to Rentschler Field, so we all joked that we were taking Grandma to a football game. Once we got there, the site was packed full of people. There had to he hundreds of cars, and the staff there was a mix of what appeared to be healthcare professionals, DOT people, and members of the U.S Army dressed in camo. We stopped in a holding area which was pretty muddy, and we listened to instructions on the radio. There was actually a car that was stuck in the mud in the first area, and needed to be pushed out by the workers. After waiting for about 30 minutes in that first area, we were redirected to another line, which is shown in the photo.
Grandma even had an appointment, but by the time she got her vaccine and we left, we had been there for over 2 hours. Being able to talk with Grandma and my Mom made the time go by a bit faster, and Grandma was relieved that we were there to go with her. With the huge wait time and the army men being there, Operation Warp Speed felt like Operation Slow Speed.
- still exercising, but it's much harder to start
People in my immediate community are supportive. And I mostly don't associate with those that don't that don't believe in government or community, so my friends and family have been supportive as well. My parents had a hard time around the holidays, but it wasn't too bad, just had to adjust a few things.
I find people in the community supportive of neighbours, and of where I work (nurse in hospital and community).
I think for the most part people are just tired, they don't necessarily need to have their lives back exactly as they were (to me the expression "when COVID ends" has been said way too much, and I always assumed it would last a couple years), but people want to not have to think about every trip or interaction they make.
The support of frontline workers is less obvious, but in individual interactions it still comes through.
Many people from my neighbourhood groups have asked about my homeless clients more often, and seem to be actively donating a little more.
The recklessness of elected officials, especially Republicans in Congress is making me very angry. All around us, I see children without enough food, people still unable to work and no ability to pay rent, utilities, or buy basic necessities for their families. Because of a few show-boating, ill-informed, and some downright stupid officials blocking the way for relief.
In the active adult community where I live, I have seen so many kind acts of compassion this past year. At the beginning of the pandemic, I think most neighbors felt vulnerable, as we were told the virus was deadly for older adults. Daily routines were disrupted and a period of watching & waiting took it’s place. No one had been living through a pandemic before-there were no rules to follow! After the initial shock wore off, there were those who remained cautious and those who decided to resume their former lifestyle. It seems to me that most people did not judge another’s decision. And as friends & neighbors got sick from the virus, meals were delivered, dogs were walked, errands were run and calls and cards were sent and gratefully received.
According to my internal counter, it's day 355 of the pandemic and there are some signs of returning to normalcy. But, returning to normalcy is filled with anxiety for me. I've wanted for so long to do normal things like go to a concert or just the neighborhood bar or sit INSIDE a restaurant for dinner - the thought that these things are possible now fill me with dread. This past week there were multiple announcements - the lifting the of the mask mandate in Texas, Eater LA indicating that indoor dining may begin as early as next week in Los Angeles and Disneyland reopening next month. I should be happy, I should be thrilled. Those are all signs of a NORMAL life. But I'm not. I'm terrified in fact. I am nervous of re-entering society - entering a world that I may not even know what it looks like it anymore. Especially as an unvaccinated person. I look at the world so differently now. I feel distrust of others and what they do in their life. Take for example today - I went out for brunch with two friends. I usually love people watching but while sitting at the restaurant, all I could think about was my proximity with the next person and if they already had coronavirus. I hate being that person. Yet here I find myself.
Perhaps I'm struggling the most with the fact that the very same politicians who blew my life up last year - the ones who told me that I shouldn't be closer than six feet, that I should wear a mask and I should not go see loved ones for the holidays are now telling me it's okay to go to a theme park or fly on an airplane or sit inside a restaurant. To be honest, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around it.
Why is right now different? What has fundamentally changed in the last sixty days to make this permissible? How is today, Saturday, March 6th safer than January 6th?
I worry that decisions being made right now are political ones, not public health ones. And I worry that the fallout from these decisions will be horrific. That's the problem with hope - it can be so easily taken away - case in point is 2020.
- it depends who's supporting who for what reasons
... the pandemic has separated us off from one other, and fomented divisions that were already there
My daughter works as a server in a large restaurant. Initially she was laid off and she applied for unemployment. She ended up loosing her apartment and moving into our basement. The restaurant has reopened, but work has been unsteady and slow. She is suffering from depressions and anxiety from the uncertainty. She sleeps most days away and struggles to make it to work on time. Her anxiety makes her mean and irritable with others and then she regrets her actions later.
- works in a school with a 90% poverty rate and many Black and brown students
... extremely frustrated that debates about returning to school focus on students' mental health only now that affluent white students are struggling
March 5, 2021
I have kept journals over my years on earth. I started one when I was in fifth grade, and I have always found them to be useful. I can look back and jog my memory, and I can keep up with future expectations.
This journal has been useful to me because I have had a place to vent, and I have answered prompts that kept my focus on my fellow humans and my neighbors as well as myself. It has been a lonely year, and I for one cannot wait until the isolation requirements are over.
End of last week, I got a scare when I received news that my mother had a stroke and she was rushed to the hospital. I was relieved that what she had was an embolic stroke. She was prescribed dementia medication which improved her memory some that she remembered two young boys (my younger sons who were the left in my parents' care for three months many moons ago - they are now grown adults) and expressed her anxiety with concern about what to do if something happened to them because they were left behind.
I requested my close friends and extended family to pray for the recovery of my mother. Prayers for the health care workers taking care of her were included.
I am very grateful for the presence of the internet and social media as it allows me to keep in touch with family and friends around the world without outrageous expense.
I am very thankful for friends who said prayers or offered a mass for my mother.
My college classmates (and forever friends) collectively sent flowers to show our sympathy for the death of the brother of our classmate/friend. I am very happy and proud to be part of this group of friends.
It feel good to write things down. I like the idea that I'll be able to have a record of all the thoughts I've recorded. Since 700+ people are doing this project here will be quite a range of stories recorded.
I'd like to mention the five people I know that have died of COVID-19. THe first was my aunt. We weren't close. I had not seen her in 10 years.
The second was my favorite English teacher. He was in his 80s and living in an Assisted Living complex. The memorial service for him was on a SAturday so I didn't tune in live. I listened to it later, but I was glad I got to hear it. He had a big influence on me when I was in high school.
The third person I knew that died was in his 70s. HE was the friend of a friend and Russian.
The fourth person I knew that died was the mother of a friend from high school. I saw her mom quite a few times.
THe last person I know of that died was in his 80s. HE was my former sister-in-law's uncle and his son is a good friend of my sister. I had known him for a long time. HE lived in an assisted living complex where a lot of people got COVID and were to sick to respond to treatment.
Some artists are painting a mural at work remembering all the people affected by the pandemic. It’s full of flowers and beauty; it feels good to see!
The biggest challenge has been which resulted in the cancellation of second dose appointments. Appointments for first doses are not being accepted at this time. I'm six months short of the 75-plus cut off, so I missed the initial round. Now that it has opened to 65-plus, I'm competing with a lot more folks for an appointment. It's frustrating to work my way through the initial screening process on the county website only to find all appointments have been filled.
I continue to isolate and limit contact with friends and family. On the upside, I'm feeling productive and motivated to work on personal projects at home. I've started a journal of short story ideas and have been editing/working on ones I had already started. Not feeling quite as hopeless/helpless this week.
In the Bay Area (of California) support for doing what we need to do to beat the virus is more the norm than not. Though people with school age kids probably are reaching the boiling point with schools just now starting to reopen.
Even Disneyland is slated to open April 1st. The Governor is under threat of recall for his handling of the virus... closing restaurants, bars, etc. it’s easy to get signatures inCalifornia for a ballot measure; less easy to actually through a democrat out of office.
In my circle of friends - the early sixties and up crowd, people are being even more cautious u til they get vaccinated. I guess we are getting so close, why blow it?
And the losses of loved ones is also undoubtedly a factor. One I three Americans have lost someone they love and know to the virus. We are one of those.
I think that my community is divided. There is a part of the community that is very supportive of others and that is trying to work to care for people who are struggling during the pandemic. Another portion of my community seems to be in denial that the pandemic is an issue and they do not seem as supportive.
I have seen many people coming out to volunteer for things like testing and vaccination drives and there have been many fundraisers and drives to donate to local charities. Early on in the pandemic one of my favorite local restaurants was closed but held an event where you could purchase groceries from them that were originally intended to be part of their menu. You could donate to a fund to make grocery deliveries to families in need. They were also selling things like hand sanitizer made by a local distillery. This restaurant uses a lot of local farms and producers for their menu so I was pleased to support the business and in turn support all of those other local businesses. There have been a number of fundraisers similar to this throughout the community. In addition, in my school community, one member of another class lost her house in a fire and we all donated money and supplies to furnish her new apartment. There have been a number of events like this and I have tried to give where I was able. I felt that a lot of these activities happened in the spring and summer when things were more uncertain.
Recently I have noticed that a large portion of my community seems indifferent to their impact on others and willfully ignores that pandemic. They continue to eat out at restaurants and refuse to wear masks. I know that these people may have many reasons for doing these things but they are directly impacting others in their community. When they go to a restaurant they are at risk of getting or transmitting coronavirus. The restaurant workers are there because they have to work, and they are being exposed to all of these people who just can't seem to stay home. Then again, not everyone has a kitchen or a good way to eat at home and for some people going to a restaurant may be an essential part of their human contact for the week.
It is difficult to judge someone for going out at this point because I can't imagine how hard it would be to hardly leave your house for a year. I have felt lucky in some ways that I am in a program that gives me a reason to talk to people and to go out in public. At other times I have felt anxious about being around people and about the risk to myself and to others.
So tired of the same routine. 3 days in work setting, 2 remote. Rinse. Repeat.
Unfortunately this week also brought unwanted news. Additional imaging after a routine mammogram revealed a small solid mass, requiring a biopsy next week. Frankly, the last place I want to be right now is a hospital.
On the bright side, I got my first COVID vaccine - PfizerBioNTech!!