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For the past several weeks, I have been volunteering at the mass vaccination clinic at UNM's The Pit, a basketball stadium.
The first week, I was a "greeter". I got a red and silver pompom and directed folks down a hallway to their vaccination stations.
The second shift, I was a "runner" and made sure all the stations had supplies.
Last time, I was a "scribe", and helped check folks in prior to their shots.
Not gonna lie, I volunteered hoping there would be extra vaccinations at the end of the day. But the clinic was too efficient and there were no leftovers.
I was really touched to see so many seniors coming to get vaccinated, and how much care their family members took to make sure they got their shots.
- when I'm feeling bad, I like to go outside and dance in the rain
The restrictions due to social distancing have made me feel like the opportunity to meet new people and experience new things have been taken from me. That my social life has been on hold for the past year.
I have never found it easy to get to know people. All of my close relationships have come from long contact, developed over time. With the restrictions due to the virus, I’ve felt as if I can’t even start the process of getting to know someone. And when I do meet someone now, I might not recognize them the next time I encounter them, with their mask hiding their appearance. It’s been a year of opportunities to find someone lost because of the virus.
- for my 13-year-old brother, his education has gotten better
... virtual school is more challenging than his local middle school
... I'm really hopeful for online education -- we need to really focus on making it accessible
... we're very privileged to have quiet, good internet
... a concern: social connectivity for kids in virtual school
I think about how my friend, who also works as a cashier, was given sick pay for her time with covid, a petty sum that wouldn’t buy a pot to piss in, she’s lucky to have help but still, the utter greed and contempt for working people< that this pandemic has shown a light on cannot be understated. The people that can’t afford to be away from the public get called heroes and other worthless platitudes while billionaires reap from the graves of the dead and the fears of the living.
I remember one moment during this week< where I was sat alone in my room listening to music, and one particular song came on that really made me want to get up and dance, so I did. Only for a moment though, as I almost immediately began to long for the now seemingly foreign thrill of being immersed in a general admission audience at a concert. A crowd of 400 people standing, unmasked, packed together like sardines, beads of sweat bouncing from one person to the next, it seems unimaginable given the times we are now living in. I had tickets to 4 shows over the past spring/summer, all of which were cancelled because of the pandemic, and it really crushes me that I had to miss out on these experiences. Now, pretty much anytime I’m listening to music, I reminisce about the indescribable bliss I’ve felt at past shows, and hope I can experience this feeling again sometime soon.
Since the last entry, Southern California underwent a terrible surge of COVID19 patients. Our hospital was so overrun, there were critically-ill patients in hallways. The entire dermatology department was helping out on the internal medicine floors. Our pediatric floor was open to patients up to age 30 years.
On Christmas Day, we went to my parents’ house and played music together outside in their backyard.
There was no eating and we all stayed masked. We brought all of our instruments, including the electronic keyboard, for which we had to run a very long extension cord. The music recital lasted about one hour, then we exchanged gifts and went home.
I received my first vaccine on December 23rd and my second one on January 12th. What a feeling of relief and even a little invincibility. Since then, I have been feeling more energetic and have managed to feel healthier than I have been in ten years. All of my clothes fit comfortably again, but the irony is that I never wear them because I prefer wearing scrubs everyday to work.
Years ago, at an annual rummage sale, I bought this silver tea set for about $40. This is the kind of rummage sale where you can tell people are clearing out the homes of their parents who are aging/relocated to retirement homes/deceased. It's a terrific window onto changing tastes and how younger generations have little patience for the trousseau-style materiality of post-war weddings and associated bourgeois accumulation. My grandmother had a tea set like this (probably both), my mom has a tray like this, and probably lots of middle class women who got married in the 1940s, 50s, maybe even 60s and 70s in the US had this kind of stuff -- which probably now strikes many as unbelievably kitschy. As for me, I love it.
I initially saw the set in the huge rummage sale hall and didn't buy it immediately, but then I sat at my desk thinking about it all morning and eventually hopped in the car and went back saying "if it's still there, I'm buying it and that's it." Well it was still there, and now it's mine.
When I got it, I used it a few times -- most memorably, for our daughter's 3rd birthday party, where we had "pink" (hibiscus) and peach tea for a couple of little ones who wore pink hats and decorated mugs at the picnic table in our backyard -- but since then it's mostly sat in our basement getting increasingly tarnished and gathering dust.
This weekend, with the first glimmers of spring arriving, I decided it was time for a tea party. Spent a good hour and change polishing the whole thing, tried a new lemon cake recipe, and had a friend from the neighborhood and her daughters over to hang out with us for tea at the picnic table. The kids all see each other at school every day, but I hadn't seen my friend in a couple of months -- after lots of summer and fall masked gatherings outdoors to drink wine around fire pits and such. Nothing fancy, but the 4 kids all seemed to enjoy it, and we did too. A great way to spend a beautiful, if still a bit chilly, spring day when options for socializing are still limited.
Esta semana pude retomar el ritmo de trabajo con otros proyectos que dejé pendientes mientras me dedicaba al trabajo que debía presentarse en un tiempo muy corto. Poco a poco fui avanzando en cada uno, hasta casi terminar.
La parte negativa es que hace dos días comencé a toser de nuevo. Me enoja y me desanima mucho. No sé qué problema tengo con los pulmones. Eso hace que mi ritmo de trabajo sea inconstante.
Estamos por entrar a Semana Santa y el gobierno actúa de manera inconsistente: mientras el Ministerio de Salud nos dice que ya no quedan camas para atender a los pacientes con COVID-19, la dependencia de turismo muestra todos los lugares que podrían visitarse para motivar el turismo interno y el presidente dice claramente que las playas estarán abiertas. De locura. Yo continúo en un confinamiento bastante estricto. Solo salgo si es completamente necesario.
Esta semana una joven madre tomó a sus dos hijos y se marchó del país. Al parecer, es un caso de violencia intrafamiliar. Me dio mucho gusto por ella. La admiré. Hizo lo que yo no tuve la valentía de hacer: se marchó sin mirar atrás, y probablemente, salvó su vida y la de sus hijos. Me pesa aún más no haberme marchado de este país.
This is a piece of the calendar of post-it notes my daughter and I started last March when she came home from college. The first week of quarantine last March, we thought it would be interesting to mark the days of staying home and see if we could make it across the room. We had no idea our swoops of seven flags (representing a week) would go all the way around the room. After 10 weeks, we started stacking the flags. Yesterday, at 55 weeks, we finally reached the last day. I’m so thankful that we’ve had no interruptions to our jobs and housing, but it’s great to be done with all that staying home!
This weekend I got to celebrate easter with my family. I drove home for the weekend to see them. This easter felt different because the number of people who we usually celebrate with decreased so we could be safer. Also, my family did not get to attend church like we usually do because it's not safe right now to congregate in huge numbers. I feel like attending church on easter morning is a big part of easter because we are surrounded by tons of people celebrating the same things. Also my mom makes a big to do about dressing up nicely for easter, and it feels special being surrounded by others at church who are also dressed up. It felt less exciting than most easters, but we still tried to continue traditions and make it fun. We still did an easter egg hunt, dyed eggs, and celebrated easter with my favorite foods. The delicious foods are one of my favorite parts of easter, like my mom's green bean bundles or huge spread of appetizers. In addition to easter, it was so nice to spend time with my family. I missed being home with them.
Esta es una torreja. Es un postre tradicional de Semana Santa. Mi prima más pequeña estudió para chef y aprendió a hacerlas.
El Jueves Santo nos reunimos como todos los años, a excepción del año pasado, cuando el confinamiento por el COVID-19 era totalmente estricto. Ni siquiera mi mamá quiso hacer el bacalao a la vizcaína de ese año. Pero este, sí. Así que nos reunimos, manteniendo la distancia y sin tener contacto entre nosotros.
Cada quien aportó algo del menú tradicional de Semana Santa y tuvimos la suerte de sentarnos en torno a la mesa, conversar y comer todos juntos. Son esos momentos los que nos llenan de alegría y esperanza. Son los momentos en que volvemos a ser familia y recordamos lo que hacíamos cuando la "normalidad" prevalecía.
Eso pensé este semana. En la suerte y en la buena decisión que tuve de asistir a distintas actividades del Semana Santa cuando tenía buena salud y la vida era "normal". A veces, asistía completamente sola, pero no me importaba. Toda mi vida he hecho muchas cosas yo sola. Ahora puedo disfrutar de los recuerdos y las anécdotas de esas incursiones de Semana Santa.
La vida es buena, especialmente cuando puedes ver a tu familia alrededor de una mesa, sanos y con alimentos para compartir. La vida es buena.
The beginning of feeling normal was last week when I had to have a CT scan. I am vaccinated as was the outpatient nurse. We hugged one another as I was being escorted to my husband's car. She was the first person I have hugged, besides my husband, in more than a year. I almost wept. And even though I've been pretty sick since I had the second shot (may be coincidence) I got on the ferry into the city and had an outdoor lunch with a friend I hadn't seen for more than a year. It was the most normal thing I've done in all these months. I felt and do feel optimistic about our future, about the world's future. If we can just get everyone vaccinated I think there is a chance we might get past this. I guess the "if" is a very big word right now. I continue to wear a mask when outside the house and in public spaces. There is a lightness in the air that hasn't been apparent for such a long time.
In January 2020 I moved away from my home/ family in Texas and moved to DC with my boyfriend, V. Little did we know that we would be quarantined together for a year with no friends or family nearby. I am a pessimist and thought for sure that spending so much time together would tear us apart from the inside. To my surprise we got along well and I think we grew up a lot. We watched dozens of shows and movies on Netflix and V has played what equates to ~20 days of video games. When I first moved in we had a roommate to decrease our rent but he moved back home "temporarily" in March 2020 and never came back. We now have our own place and we got a quarantine puppy over the summer. I love our life together and I know I could not have gotten through this past year without him. Now that we are both vaccinated we have some differing opinions on when to return to "normal" and when it is appropriate to invite our out of town friends over to see DC and our "new" place. We are simply taking it day by day and doing our best to navigate through these unprecedented times.
Well, it's our second Easter at home without family. Today started out as a good day with the kids following the Easter bunny's footsteps to their Easter basket. We then had a nice brunch, although staggered (our kids are 4 and 1, so it's almost impossible to sit down for a full meal with the two of them). But then, as we were rejoicing that my mother-in-law just had her vaccine, she also admitted that she tested positive for the virus 2 weeks ago (she was cleared to get her vaccine by the health professionals). What a shock. I just don't know what to think of all this. I am glad she is ok now and had few symptoms, but I am still worried about the potential long-term effects she could potentially have. I haven't been able to process the news yet, but my head is exploding. I find it very hard mentally to go through this cycle of being hopeful with the mass vaccination, to being very worried again, it's tiring.
My son had his 21st birthday on Tuesday - his second full lockdown birthday. Here in the UK, the 21st is the big coming-of-age when you go out with your friends and party hard. Nope. He was at home with his parents and big sister for the second year in a row. His presents had all been purchased online and at the supermarket, the only shop that is open. HOWEVER, this year's gifts were much more hopeful than last year's - last year's included a "Coronavirus Survival Kit" containing (among other things) painkillers and a humidifier - this year's big gift was a coffee maker that he can take with him when he returns to university to the flat that he shares with his friends next week.
In other coronavirus-related news, I have had a third week of volunteering at our local vaccination centres, which is a very uplifting experience. One of the centres I get sent to is an old town hall in a small town in the middle of the foothills to the Scottish Highlands. It has a "sprung" wooden dance floor and a small stage and feels like it is better suited for ceilidhs and pantomimes than as a temporary NHS facility, but I love how handily it has been repurposed in this time of emergency, and I am really happy to be able to help out in a small way.
And the local outdoor Saturday farmer's market was held this week for the first time since December 2020! That was fun - we bumped into neighbours there that we haven't seen for months. It was a warm, sunny day and everybody was very cheerful. There was one moment where I felt that too many people were gathered in one place too close together, but everyone was wearing masks, and it was easy to go around the cluster. Not something I would have even thought about a year and a half ago.
So - the pandemic is very much with us in our day to day life (I mean, we have been under a HARD lockdown since before Christmas - THREE AND A HALF MONTHS - and only tomorrow, a week into April, will we be cautiously relaxing our rules - most retail and restaurants will still not be open for another two weeks and we are still not allowed in anyone else's house). But things definitely feel like they are looking up
Have people forgotten about the pandemic?
I found myself repeatedly asking that question during this past week while visiting my parents in Florida. It's a shock compared to the life I've been living in California. Here in Florida, I commonly see people (including my father - who I often remind, gently at first, then more vocally) not wearing masks while out and about. Today for example - my mother and I ventured inside a department store and I saw a man walking around without a mask on- next to a sign that said "no mask, no service." Yet no one was harassing him or reminding him to put on his mask. Even myself - I gave him this look of disgust.
But that's not just it - I'm seeing it everywhere. I go for a run and when I encounter other people (who most of the time are not wearing masks) - they don't give me three or six feet of space. Half a dozen contractors have cycled in and out of my parents house this week - at least fifty percent weren't wearing a mask. At restaurants, people going to and from the bathroom or the front door without a mask on.
Even now, as I sit at home watching the NCAA Basketball Tournament, I see viewers in the stands without masks on (or wearing them improperly). A diehard Cardinals fan, I just saw that a brawl broke out - it's Day 3 of the regular season of baseball.
Instead, it feels like the news has shifted their focus from the pandemic - lessening it, as if it should be an afterthought - not the main thing. We seem to be allowing ourselves to ease up. No one wants to talk about the COVID-19 outbreak in the Nationals camp that prevented the series from being played. No one wants to talk about the lack of vaccinations in Europe. (By the way, I acknowledge that California is far from perfect and that I've seen a lack of mask wearing as much - just not in my neighborhood).
It's driving me a bit insane - I won't lie. Because the pandemic is not over. Even after I get my shot (which will be soon - I hope), we have to stay committed. And I hate it. I stay up at night looking over photos from my previous trips - when travel was still a thing. I think about all the people I haven't seen and wish I could see.
This week, I did something "BC" (before coronavirus) - I saw a dermatologist. It was my first visit to a doctor since December 2019. I had put off going because I worried about coronavirus and felt it was not "essential." I finally decided it was time to go and admitted to myself that the constant wearing of a mask (which I hate) has given me constant mascne (mask-acne). It was time to get help. And the visit was smooth and easy. It did make me think it was time to start getting current on other appointments I've blown off. But then I saw the non-mask wearers and I decided I could wait a little bit longer.
i think it's pushed me further left. the stock market is doing ridiculously well and corporate profits are going crazy while millions of americans suffer. i think we need universal basic income.
My mom died this week. She didn't die of COVID, but she died *with* it. But she was still forced to die alone.
Her husband of 46 years is devastated. He was able to spend 15 minutes with her earlier in the day in full PPE. He wasn't supposed to touch her, but he snuck his hand in anyway. And those lines on the picture are because we had to watch on FaceTime and take a screenshot.
You hear about these lonely deaths. But you don't truly understand the depth of it until your family experiences it. It's so complicated, and adds a layer of grief on top of what's already an unimaginable loss. We will never recover from this.
When I think about how Covid-19 affected my life in the past week all I can think about is how the vaccines for the virus have changed my life. We will never return to pre-Covid-19 normal. Too much in the world has changed. But there are certainly some aspects of pre-pandemic life that do come back. Both my wife and I are fully vaccinated. We have had a dinner party with other vaccinated friends and it felt good. We have visited our son and his family several times. Both he and his wife are vaccinated. Although the littles are not vaccinated the worry that they could convey the virus to the grandparents is gone. The virus changed our lives and now the vaccines are giving us back some of what was lost for over a year.
Coronavirus has affected me because it’s been getting a little hectic the way people are behaving during this time. Some people are being less cautious of how they should wear their mass and sometimes they cough not thinking about others around them which makes me and everyone around me scared that we might catch some thing.
With every passing week, I get closer to having to return to work. As the time passes I'm getting more and more anxious. I don't want things to go back to how it was. Rushing to work on a crowded bus or train. Being stressed all day. Coming home on that same crowded bus or train. We're opening too soon. When will I get a chance to cook healthy meals for my husband again? Or do our laundry? Our clean the house? I'll be back to the same tired person I used to be. With everything crammed into a 2 day weekend. I don't want to do that! I'm angry. I'm sad. It's all about money! The city needs my money, my taxes, my revenue... I'm saddened by the whole thing.
it's interesting; a lot has changed and not a lot has changed. for most, I would argue that the internal trauma of this experience is and will continue to change us faster than the external world does.
aside from the obvious, staying inside, masking up, staying solitary, and everyone working from home, what has changed? each of those experiences impact our immediate comfort levels and sense of self more than the function of the world at large, seemingly. people are learning to grapple with their aloneness, their loneliness. people are learning to either see each other with softer eyes or more inward eyes or judge eyes. our lives are pouring themselves into computers more and more and more and more and more. it's all so annoying really, interesting too. just...
it's all so much.
people are tired. people are tired of having to change themselves for a society that won't help us, each other. I'm projecting, to be sure, but it's a felt, collective experience too. people are changing in that we are forced to meet each other where we are all at, collectively, because we're all hyperconnected and "going through" this pandemic together on the internet. can't bullshit yourself and say you don't know what's going on. it's written everywhere and shoved in your face at all times.
it's exhausting. personally, I'm exhausted from it. it's also a curious thing to watch unfold, and, writing these entires helps examine it all, too.
also, other things, outside of the pandemic have happened since quarantine hit--equally as traumatic. like the death of George Floyd which added just enough fuel to the fire of police brutality that it lit the country on fire last year. literally, riots and fires all across the country. the Wendys down the street from my home in Atlanta was bored to the ground after rayshard brooks was murdered by a police officer there. I went to protests and marches and riots and watched police tear gas crowds. I learned that I am too sensitive for all of that, and commend the people that can put their bodies on the line.
it's hard to say what has changed most--it's all been changing. the way we relate to ourselves, the way we relate to each other, the way we relate to our institutions. if anything, I would call for more compassion for ourselves, more communication and patience for each other, and more "burn it to the ground" with our institutions.
I am still having a hard time dealing with family members who say they are not going to get vaccinated. It makes me so angry and I don't know what to sayto them, and I desperately want to change their minds. But if I say more than "I don't want you to die" I can feel them pulling back. They don't want to engage and discuss it. It's making me so angry. I can't believe that people I love would be so selfish as to not want to end this pandemic as quickly as possible. Or so closed in their thinking that they have bought into some weird ideas about what the vaccines may or may not do. I am hamstrung and it makes me really resentful and angry.
Last year I had a home decor idea -- using decorative paper to cover the electrical socket plates and lightswitches for all the rooms of the house.
I had a hard time finding Mod Podge, the craft coating for the paper. Like a lot of things -- flour, chicken parts, sparkling water -- the stores were out of stock.
I ended up ordering it from Amazon, adding to the much higher total I spent online in 2020.
Over several weeks I did it bit by bit -- unscrewing the plastic wall plates one by one, cutting the paper, pasting it, letting it dry, and recoating it before replacing it.
When it was all done I was even more pleased by it than I expected -- and it is something I will remember the pandemic by.